Friday, October 23, 2015

My Date with Sandro.

I had been there only five days earlier, but I needed to spend more time in his room, and this time I didn't want to share him with the crowds.

So, I had a plan. I'd go early in the morning, really early. The plan was to reach his room before anyone else did. An ambitious plan, I know, but it never hurts to try.

At 8AM, when the front door was opened, I snuck in, sprinted up all those stairs (there are a lot!) to the 2nd floor, and headed down the hall to the smallish room which temporarily bears his name, while they fix up his usual quarters. It is almost at the end of the hallway, so I passed a lot of rooms as I made a beeline for Sandro's, crossing my fingers that most people would not know about the room situation, thus buy me some time alone with him. Of course, it was to be expected that I was not the only one who knew, after all, we're talking Sandro, not Mr Anybody, and his room is the flagship of the Uffizi Gallery...

I passed cleaners mopping the floors and guards taking their seats, looking bored already.
And then, I was there, at his door, and, I could hardly believe it, but my plan had worked. There was nobody there. Nobody! At the door, the sour-looking guard was busy with her phone, and in the room I now entered, there was me, and there was Sandro. Sandro Botticelli's beautiful, beautiful paintings.

At first my eyes got drawn into the Birth of Venus. I stood in front of the large painting for the longest time, taking in the beauty, the symbols, the intriguing expressions. Then I headed over to the Allegory of Spring, this enigmatic painting, filled with classical gods and flowers. Not all his paintings are moved to this teporary room, and I missed several of them, but my all time favorites were there, his Madonna of the Magnificat and his Madonna of the Pomegranate. So beautiful. So incredible beautiful. In the first one, The virgin Mary is smiling, while writing a prayer, and in the second one, painted a few years later, she looks distressed and tired, offering her baby boy a pomegranate, a sign of  Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

I kept gazing at these wonderful works of art. The lines, the gold that specs the hair, the colors, the harmony, and above all, the expressions. I could stand be there forever.

What is it with this painter?  How does he do it? How does he move me to tears every single time I see his work IRL? (like that time in the Sistine Chapel...) There is more than the excellence of a master painter, there is something undefinable which goes straight to my heart.

I actually stayed in his room for nearly an hour, but by then, people had begun to seep in, and I decided to leave him to them. I threw a last glance at the Madonna of the Pomegranate, the Birth of Venus, the Spring, the Adoration of the Magi, and all the rest, before I left, with the feeling I just walked out on a dear friend, someone I wouldn't see again for a long while.

Later, after visiting the rest of the gallery, I went back to his room, but now I couldn't even get in. there was a long line of people waiting in the hall, and the room was nearly bursting with people, most of them pressing around the Birth of Venus and Spring. I sent the Madonnas another quick goodbye glance before I finally left the Uffizi. I was sad to leave, but geekly happy I got to have my date with Sandro!

Pictures: 1:Detail from The Adoration of the Magi. Presumed self portrait by Sandro Botticelli. 2: Uffizi Gallery. 3: Uffizi Gallery, 2nd floor hallway. 4: The Birth of Venus. 5: Madonna of the Pomegranate. 6: Madonna of the Magnificat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No Enjoyment like Reading!

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Having New Eyes - Sacre-Coeur

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. 

(The quote is by Marcel Proust, and the picture shows the Montmartre  hill in Paris with the Sacre-Coeur church)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Desemparats / Mother and Child /Maternité

I find this picture beautiful in a sad, melancholy way. It makes me think about all these refugees, with no idea of what the future might bring... 
It is made by Pablo Picasso in 1903, when he was only 22 years old, and it is called Desemparats, which means "helpless" in Catalan.   
It can be seen IRL in the in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Øks, Danmark og Indisk Mat. (Book review in Norwegian)

Leste nettopp ut denne: Da Henrik Husten kom hjem av Bård Nannestad. Det er hans debutroman, utgitt i 2013.
Boken handler om en mann i 60-årene som bor alene med hunden. En dag dukker en barndomsvenn opp, en han ikke har sett på 40 år, og så, litt etter litt, rulles fortiden opp, samtidig med at nåtiden tar uventede veier. Stikkord: Øks, Danmark og indisk mat.
Jeg strevde litt de første sidene, men så hang jeg fast, og etter hvert kunne jeg knapt legge boka fra meg. Dette er en fin skildring av liv som ikke blir slik man har tenkt, om valg man tar og må leve med, om nye sjanser og muligheter. Anbefales!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Allow yourself to do nothing.
Be unplugged.
Be completely non-productive,
at least for a while.
To be recommended.

Tillat deg å gjøre ingenting.
Koble helt fra.
Være fullstendig unyttig,
i hvert fall en stund.
Kan anbefales.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Off Screen Vacation with Kids, is it Possible?

 Yes, it's possible. It's totally possible, and I strongly recommend it. My kids (age 7 and 11)  just spent almost two weeks of summer holiday without any screen access at all. They didn't miss it, and neither did I.
No ipad, no smart phone, no laptop, no TV, no game console. This includes the two 4-hour flights, which was with an airline with no entertainment system and several 1-2-hour car rides. No blaring sound, annoying beeps or flickering images.

How did it go? You might ask. How did you manage? How were the flights? The mornings? The car rides? Did everybody survive? How is it possible to enjoy a vacation without the option of putting your kids in front of a screen?

Well, first of all, when you travel in a new country,  there are many things to discover. Sights to see, food to taste, language to learn, music to listen to, and like most travelers, we explored cities, restaurants, beaches, water... And whenever there was down-time, for instance in the plane, in the car, or in the rented house at night or in the mornings, the kids would read books, play old fashion games with dice or cards or make pictures with pencils on paper.
Yes, it is still possible.
It really is.
Pencils and paper.
They would typically wake up before the rest of us, and when I got out of bed, the living room was littered with books, drawings, crayons, paper planes, dice and playing cards.  And, at night they read in bed before going to sleep. Like kids used to in the old days. Like I still do.

It was only after the holidays it dawned upon me, this off-screen thing. It was not really planned. It just happened. Except for my daughter's camera, we didn't bring anything electronic for them. And they had lots of fun. There was never a "I'm bored" moment. Really, never!

And I think, by constantly having the option of being stuck in front of a screen,  we rob our kids of their creativity, their imagination, their ability to play, make believe and above else: To be in the moment. Kids are by nature curious and inventive. Let them be kids. Let them experience, use their senses and imagination, be hands-on and build habits that they will enjoy forever.

Try it! 

(I admit, the 16-year-old  did bring his smartphone, but we had no wi-fi access, so he ended up picking up a book too. :-))

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cat in Suitcase

Every time I pack suitcases, he does this, hoping I won't notice...

Hver gang jeg pakker kofferter, gjør han dette, i håp om at jeg ikke oppdager ham...

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Wildflowers. They're everywhere right now. In Norway. In June. Picture taken last weekend, by the lake, when I went for a walk with my two youngest kids and the neighbor's dog. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My little Hero

Ingrid, my godchild, is a trooper. 
She had a rough start in life, and at 9 1/2 months she has already had three major surgeries, but she has fought back and is so happy, funny and full of life.
Constantly smiling, communicating and playing. Right now she is working on figuring out how to get moving, since there is so much out there she wants to reach. A whole world!
Lucky me who get to know her, to follow her on her journey.

Big smiles, while playing on the carpet or in her mom's arms.

Ingrid, fadderbarnet mitt, er en helt.
Hun fikk en tøff start i livet, og 9 1/2 måned gammel har hun allerede hatt tre store operasjoner, men det skulle man ikke tro, for hun er alltid så glad, morsom og full av liv.
Smiler, kommuniserer og leker. Akkurat nå jobber hun med å finne ut hvordan hun kan komme seg framover, for det er jo så mye der ute som hun vil ha tak i. En hel verden!
Heldige meg som får kjenne henne, som får følge henne på reisen.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exotic Northern Norway

Flying out of Tromsø this afternoon, heading for Svalbard. 
What an amazing country I live in! Snow covered mountains stretching up from the clear, blue sea towards a beautiful sunny sky. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

My "russ" daughter! / Russejenta mi!

My eldest baby, she has had her last high school (I.B.) exam. 
University next... 
In Norway the high school graduates celebrate for several weeks in May, and everything culminates on the 17th, Norway's Consitution day.

Den eldste babyen min som russ!
Hun hatt sin siste vgs (IB)-eksamen. 
Neste kapittel: Universitetet.

With her good friend. Now they go separate ways.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Last Supper / Nattverden

Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper. I choose this wood carved panel from the altarpiece in the cathedral of Oslo to illustrated the day. Jesus' last meal with his friends and followers (IRL followers, that is...), just hours before he was arrested... This is when everything is still peaceful and ok, but only seemingly, because Judas has already made his decision to betray his friend...
I saw this altarpiece a couple of months ago with my seven-year-old son, and he was the one who quickly recognized Judas, from what he holds in his left hand: the bag containing the silver coins he got for betraying Jesus...

Skjærtorsdag. Nattverden. Jeg velger dette relieffet i tre fra altertavlen i Oslo Domkirke som illustrasjon for dagen. Jesus' siste måltid sammen med venner og følgere, bare timer før han ble arrestert... Dette er mens alt fortsatt er fredelig og fint, men bare tilsynelatende, for Judas har allerede bestemt seg for å svikte vennen sin...

Jeg så denne altertavlen for noen måneder siden sammen med sjuåringen min, og det var han som raskt kjente igjen Judas, fra det han holder i den venstre hånden: Posen med sølvmyntene han fikk for å forråde Jesus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Artigdoen / The Funny Bathroom

While driving through the Norwegian countryside, you sometimes come across wonderful treasures. I have for years wanted to share with you this hidden gem of a restroom. Yes, because it is a restroom. In a gas station. By a Norwegian road.

When I first discovered this unike place, I didn't really aknowledge the decoration, just that the tiny room was heavily and fully wallpapered with a 70's floral motiv. It was only while washing my hands that I saw the details of the wallpaper, surrounding me on every imaginable surface.

The first to guess the correct location, wins an enlargement of one of my pictures*.

Når du kjører gjennom det norske kulturlandskapet, dukker det av og til opp fantastiske skatter. Jeg har i mange år hatt lyst til å dele denne skjulte perlen av en do. Ja, for dette er en do. På en bensinstasjon. Langs en norsk vei. 

Da jeg først oppdaget dette unike stedet,tenkte jeg først ikke over dekoren, ikke annet enn at enn det bittelille rommet var ganske intenst og gjennomgående tapetsert, med 70-talls blomstermotiv. 
Det var først da jeg vasket hendene at jeg så detaljene på denne tapeten, som omga meg på alle tapetbare overflater.

Den første som kan si hvor dette er, vinner et valgfritt forstørret bilde*.

* Et av bildene i dette blogginnlegget. / One of the pictures in this blog entry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Greenlake Nostalgia

I love this picture, taken by my then 12-year-old daughter. It's my 5-year-old daughter, my 1-year-old son an me, going for a walk by Greenlake, Seattle. I walked there every day for 6 months, with kids and without. With a friend or alone. It was winter when I arrived, and I got to see the lake and its surroundings change into spring and then summer. 
Trees, flowers, birds. Peaceful.
How I miss that place...