Thursday, December 30, 2010

My words are gone

I seem to have lost my voice.
There is nothing wrong with my throat or vocal cords, but I can't write, my words are gone.   I know there are stories, messages topics, but they're stuck somewhere far inside.
I have struggled a lot to make the last few blog posts,  searching inside a huge void, looking for words, feeling that every letter, every sentence was a fight with my mind.  And, I've ended up with something very close to complete nonsense.
What is worse, is that my writing project, the one I've been working on for years and been committed to for the last 7 months,  has apparently hit the wall.  I haven't touched it in over a month, and I have no idea about what to do with it from now on.
I don't like this at all, and I can just hope that my voice will emerge again.
Have any of you ever experienced this disappearing of words?  A "writer's block"? 
If yes, please tell me it will pass!  

It's my New Year's wish...


Monday, December 27, 2010


We have a cat.
It has been two years since we lost Lise-Lina.  The disappearing of our 7-year-old pet caused considerable amounts of grief in our house, and for the longest time, our kids couldn't accept the fact that our beloved cat wasn't going to just show up again.Everybody missed her, but, my husband and I also saw the practical aspect of not having an animal in our home.  The everyday life wasn't the problem, but traveling was.  Every single time we left for a weekend or longer, we had to find somebody who was willing to come by our house a couple of times a day, feed the cat, let the cat out and back in again, pet her.  It was actually a stress factor for me, and not having that felt sort of nice.
But, after a while, we start feeling the same regret as the kids had been having all the time.  We missed having a cat in our home.  We didn't only missed Lise-Lina, we also felt the void that any feline friend should have filled.  A warm bundle who curls up on your lap, who forces you to stop for a while, relax, unwind.  A little creature who makes you focus on being here and now, in the moment, nowhere else.  I think it's healthy to have a cat around.  
And, as the Norwegian poet Helge Torvund has expressed it: 
"A house without a cat is only a house."
So, on Christmas Eve, early in the morning, our kids got to unwrap an early gift, tagged "Happiness."  It was a basket.  A cat basket.  We saw the comprehension dawn on their faces, and the wild joy who made our seven-year-old run and hide in her room for a little while.
They could hardly believe it, that we had caved, after all this time, and when we announced that we were going to get the cat as soon as they all got dressed, they disappeared immediately, and only a few minutes later they were ready to go.
Our cat came from the Norwegian Animal Rescue Oganisation. (Dyrebeskyttelsen.)  She is an almost totally black little girl, about 5 months old, and we named her Happiness, shortened to Happy.
She spent most of Christmas eve hiding under furniture, but before the day was over, she went back and forth between us, sounding like a lawn mower.  Now, three days later, it is like she has always been here.
And, I have a hard time writing this post, since Happy is curled up on top of my forearms and keyboard.
We're having a Happy Christmas this year, and I think she'll do us all good.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Name is Khan

I watched this movie yesterday. Wow. I didn't know that much about it, just knew it was very popular in India, and I had never expected to be so moved, so taken in by it.  
It's about a muslim from India, moving to San Francisco, falling in love and struggling with his Asperger's syndrome and the hate and fear after 9/11.
The story, the photography, the whole makes for a great movie experience. I think this is a must-see in the West. Really. Yes, it's a sweet story, maybe too sweet for some people, but, in addition to being that, it contains an important message about people of the worlds today. How we all are the same, that religion and culture never should be a reason to hate or exclude somebody.
"Forrest Gump" comes to mind while watching this movie. The main character is different, but good, kind, and with the will to reach his goal.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Picture of the day: Madonna of the Pilgrims

This is a painting by Caravaggio, from 1605.  It usually resides in the church Sant'Agostino in Rome, but I saw it last fall in the Galleria Borghese, as part of a Caravaggio exhibit.  The virgin Mary is barefoot, and both her and the child look very real, but what touched me the most were the pilgrim's dirty feet, clothes and the realness and sincerity of their devotion to the child.  These are real people, lined by real lives, and they've probably walked far and suffered hardship to be able to kneel before the Christ child.  Look at their faces, uplit by the Virgin and the child.  Look at their happiness.  Their calm, serene postures, forgetting pain, hunger, loss, problems, because they're just where they want to be.
What a blessing it is to be in such a place.

With this I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

India: Traditional Dress

I have no idea how to start telling my India story (stories), and right now, since I just got the pictures into my stationary computer, I'll just share a few ones of me getting dressed for the wedding, and then a few of me and my husband outside the wedding hall.
Kari, (the other Norwegian woman invited to the party) and I were dressed in traditional Maharashtrian saris.  These are no longer used very much, and are mostly kept for the big occasions.  All the other women in the wedding party wore plain saris.  
My dress was hand stitched, to measures.  That is, parts of it are stitched, the rest is a very long piece of fabric that has to be put on in a certain way, and as you can see from the pictures, it takes quite a few people (and lots of pins...)  to get it to sit right.
I felt special, I really did, since it was only the bride, the groom's mother, the groom's sister-in-law and the two of us who wore this particular type of sari.

The pictures are snapshots, just to give you an idea.  And, there will be more coming up, more pictures and stories. But, first, there is Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Trees, Gingerbread and Potter

This morning we went to get our Christmas trees.  The big one for our living room, and the small one for our downstairs rec room.  Jonatan got to actually use the saw, and he was happy as only a 3-year-old can be.  All seven of us (my daughter's friend stayed with us this weekend.) went there, as this is part of our Christmas traditions.    
After being out in the snowy weather for a while, it sure was nice to be treated to hot drinks and gingerbread in an old barn, filled with candles and warmed by a big wood fire. 
This afternoon, our own gingerbread baking was on the list.  All of us helped out, rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutters, and the house slowly filled with the delicious gingerbread smell.  My daughter was going to the movies with a friend, but this one bailed out, because of some sports tournament finale.  My daughter was disappointed, because this was the last day to see this particular movie, the newest Harry Potter.  
Well, I had plans.  
Was going to finish the gingerbread for starters, had Christmas cards to write and some gifts to pack, plus probably tons of other "musts", but I just removed my apron, brushed the flour from my hands and face and told my husband I was going to the movies with my daughter.  He would have to finish the baking on his own.
My daughter was thrilled, and we had a good time!  The movie was not bad, and we talked about it while walking home in the cold and dark winter wonderland.
I just judged Christmas preparations to be less important this afternoon, and I'm glad I did!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The people of India

My heart and head are full of impressions from my India experience, but since I came back, I've been so busy with work and organizing my family that I haven't really had the time to digest.  I'm really glad I got to do some writing, a little while I was there, and a lot during our travel back to Norway.  This, the bits and pieces of memories, names, descriptions and feelings, this will probably serve as a base for something larger that I'll have to write, one day or another.  I was profoundly marked and touched by this stay, and I simply have to try putting it all into words.
With a few exeptions, I haven't got the time to look at my pictures yet, but I dug out this one to share with you, and I feel it's right to have this as a first glimpse of India: The children.  People - and more specifically the children - made by far the strongest impression on me.  From the infants I held in my arms, to the older ones I played with or had conversations with.  The sincerity, the openness, these real faces just touched me enormously.  It was for me a huge contrast to how we often interact in our part of the world...
And the adults, and the elderly persons I got to know a little, who hugged me when I was leaving, who simply showed plain love, even though I was a stranger, a foreigner, a strange, tall white woman.  
I cried when I left Saturday night...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My India

My hands are still henna decorated.  I came back home Sunday night, and the jet lag is still bad.  Wide awake before 6 AM, and dead tired before 9PM.  All the impressions are not yet processed by my brain, and there will be a few more days before I can make a real blog entry about my India experience.  Right now I'm thrust into Christmas Season with all the last minute - things that have to be done.  Lots of photography work on my desk.  Only  a couple of new photo shoots, but tons of pictures to organize into proof albums and prints to sign and pack.  Then, there are my children who need attention and me sitting down to do Christmasy things with them, like crafts and reading .
Just don't hang up, there will be India pictures and stories.  Promise!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Picture of the day: Ganesh

Ganesh: One of the Hindu gods, and a popular one in Maharashtra.  He is known for being the lord of beginnings, new ventures, and the remover of obstacles. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Leaving for India

So, tomorrow is the day.  I'm leaving for India.  Right now I'm all shaky, dreading departure, leaving my four children.
I've made lists for my mom.  I've actually made her a binder, a "Grandma's Resources"-binder with all the phone numbers of my friends, the doctor, the teachers etc, and all the schedules.  There is hardly any laundry not washed, folded and put away.  The house is clean, the fridge and freezer full, and my suitcase packed.  Well, the last one, not completely.  I keep remembering things, and changing my mind about shoes etc. 
There will be some scheduled posts the next few days, image posts mainly.  But, real blogging will resume when I'm back.