Friday, February 14, 2014

Le Voleur d'Ombres (The Stealer of Shadows)

A couple of weeks ago I read this book: Le Voleur d'Ombres by Marc Levy, the most-read French author in the world. His books are translated to more than 40 languages, but this one is not yet published in English. 

I think this novel might be the best I've read by Marc Levy, and I'll repeat what I wrote about Astrid & Veronika, it is a grand, little book. It's not very long, but those pages are filled with so much beauty, sorrow and insight about childhood, growing up, friendship, love and life in general, that I ended up both laughing and crying. 

The main character, a young boy, discovers that he has the ability to switch shadows with other people, and the shadows teach him important truths about them. This may sound strange, but as with a lot of not-normal things, we accept them as we read on. What's important, is his relationships: With his father, who leaves him, with his mother, his best friend and his soulmate...

Once again, one my favorite authors didn't disappoint me! :-)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Single Parents are Champions!

I admire single parents. I really do. I think they are so much more then they ever get credit for! I'm not a single parent, but when my husband is traveling for work, I get to try it. It might be a day or two, or it might be a week or even three. Last week he was gone 8 days, it was busy. Really busy, and I wonder how those single parents manage All. The. Time. And with bigger kids there might be more help, but there is also more mess, more unpredictability, and more complicated matters to consider. 

As usual, being alone with the responsability of 4 kids, I end up feeling like I'm running a medium-size company while having at least a dozen other jobs. Let's see: There is planning, negotiating, economy/buying and mediating, and there is the work of a cook, housekeeper, taxi driver, teacher, therapist, coach and laundry worker.

Then, there were my "out of the family - jobs", teaching french and parenting classes at night, doing photography during the day, preparing next (work) trip to Paris, and last, but absolutely not least: My writing. Which suffered a lot this past week. There simply was no creativity left for serious writing after walking to school with the youngest in the morning, picking him up a few hours later (by car if I needed to get some shopping done in the same outing), picking up after piano lessons, driving to and hanging out at ski practice with my youngest late at night, planning for, doing the shopping and preparing breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks and dinners, helping with homework, talking with each child/teenager, solving problems, cleaning up everywhere and making sure the house looks a little less like a war zone... There were errands to be run, bills to pay, loads of snow to shovel in front of the house, and I shoveled until my arms ached.

There were two weekends to fill with something nice, like skiing trips, playing in the snow, board games, reading, computer games and wathcing the Olympics on TV. We made a lot of hot chocolate, waffles during these days, and we had pizza or burritos at night. 

Some days I had extra kids at the table, some days there was one less, since my oldest also made a few travels.  There were days where one child needed to bring hot chocolate and a sledge to school, and then one of the others was bringing skis, and I ended up driving her and her friend, since it got complicated to walk with their skis, backpacks and everything. 

Every night there were heaps of soaked clothes/shoes which needed to be dried before the next day. With preparations for next day, I typically end up going to bed much too late, after checking and re-checking that candles are extinguished, doors are locked and cats out of the livingroom. Then, I'm the first to get up around 6AM, so that I can get ready and have breakfast on its way before waking the kids.

I tried to make time for a workout, and while my youngest spent a few hours at a friends house, I drove to the horse center afterwards, to pick up my 10-year-old and her other friend, drive past the friends' house to get some of her stuff, and bring them both back to our house for the evening. That particular night, my 14-year-old cooked dinner, my 17-year-old went to get the 6-year-old from his friend's house, and then, after bathing/showering and teeth brushing, I sat down and read for the two youngest, as I usually do, candles on the coffee table, cats sleeping next to us. Idyllic and wonderful.

I'm not complaining. Not at all. I'm very lucky, and I know it. This last week just make me realize - again - that single parents really are champions!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Astrid & Veronika (La meg synge deg stille sanger)

I just finished one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Astrid & Veronika is a short, quiet and understated novel, but then again it's grand and unforgettable. Two women, one young and one old, become friends, and little by little we get to know them and their lives. Swedish author Linda Olsson has lived in New Zealand for many years, but in this book she is back in her native country. The stage is a small village, changing through the seasons, and as a reader, you can smell the earthy scent after rain, taste the pickled herring and rye bread, hear the music. But, beyond these details, there is tragedy and love, memories and loss, fear and hope.
It's a story about a writer. A story about friendship. A story about accepting your past and go on.
I will read this book again.
And many of the pages are now dog-eared and filled with underlinings...

Jeg ble nettopp ferdig med en av de vakreste bøkene jeg noensinne har lest. "La meg synge deg stille sanger" er en liten, lavmælt og forsiktig roman, men samtidig er den stor og uforglemmelig. To kvinner, den ene ung og den andre gammel, blir venner, og gradvis blir vi kjent med dem og livene deres. Den svenske forfatteren Linda Olsson har bodd på New Zealand i en årrekke, men i denne boken er hun tilbake i gamlelandet. Scenen for handlingen er den svenske landsbygda som forandrer seg gjennom årstidene, og som leser kan man kjenne lukten av jord etter regn, smaken av sursild og rugbrød, høre musikken. Men, innenfor dette ligger tragedie og kjærlighet, minner og tap, angst og håp.
Det er en fortelling om en forfatter. En fortelling om vennskap. E fortelling om å godta fortiden din og gå videre. 
Jeg kommer til å lese denne boka igjen.
Og mange av sidene har eselører og understrekninger...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow, Kids and Cat.

Playing in the snowy back yard with my kids last Sunday. My two youngest making a snow horse.

Lussi the cat watching from the play house veranda...

And we who feared that this winter would remain snowless...

12 Years a Slave

I went with a friend to see this movie a couple of days ago. Wow. I'm not going to say a whole lot, because there has been so much written about it already. I was apprehensive, not sure if I wanted to see it, because I simply can't take too much cruelty and evil, but after a talk with my youngest brother, I decided to accept my friend's invitation. My brother said the movie was awful, mean and beautiful. And he was right. The true story of Solomon Northup, a virtuous violinist in the 1840's, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery... I will absolutely recommend this movie, but not for young kids. (Too much 'violence with a smile'...) But even though there is cruelty and hopelessness, there is also hope and kindness in the midst of it. Go and see!

You can check the IMDB for facts about the filmmakers, and you can watch the trailer:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snoopy the Writer

I love snoopy. And I relate to him, sitting on the roof, struggling with his writing. Not that I've been sitting on the roof lately, but for that other part...

Jeg elsker Snoopy (Sniff). Og jeg kjenner meg igjen, der han sitter på taket og strever med skrivingen sin. Nå har ikke jeg akkurat sittet mye på tak i det siste, men når det gjelder det andre...