I did not get to play

I was four, going alone to a birthday party for the first time. New dress, pleated hair with white ribbons, white tights and shiny shoes, I could hardly wait for the party to start. Half an hour later I was back home, went straight into my room and started to play with my building blocks. What happened? My parents were worried, they kept asking for some days,and I still did not answer. 


Half a year later I was building with my blocks again, in another town, another house, living next to other people. Then I looked up at my mother and said quite calmly, “I did not get to play with her toys”. It took some seconds before anyone knew what I was referring to, they all had forgotten.

These days, I am getting closer to my answer on this year’s puzzling question: what did you do and why? So many people say that when they learn that I have had a serious illness and surgery this spring. I have made some polite and correct answers, as I am no longer four. I know though that only recently am I getting closer to understand my own reactions. I needed months to be able to reflect on and not only live through this troublesome times. I am still me, I act fast and think slow.


I have learned, again, that when in trouble I still return to my basic building blocks. I have come to see that what I do when a crisis looms is who I really are. These are the tools I have sharpened in good, untroubled, sunny days which gives me rest, joy and strength in stormy times. 

So what did I do? The first night I went into a new bookstore, and came home with soothing titles and lovely stories. Strangely enough I did not start reading though, I just put them in the bag I planned to take to hospital. 

I need reading like I need air.

Then I bought the most beautiful notebook, for the next weeks I made notes of every song I was reminded of, every Bible word I read that was special to me.

I need a comforting blanket of blessings, ready to wrap around my soul in the days I know will be hard.

It was still February, and I filled my window with spring flowers.

 I was worried I would not see another spring, and knew I had to make one myself to believe in growth and new life.


I bought the loveliest blue and white China I know.I have wished for it since we got married 35 years ago, but always made myself think they were too expensive.

I know my heart leaps when I see something beautiful, I need to let my heart rejoice in every beauty given us in this world.

I sorted through all my fabrics, and made ready kits for all the ideas I have postponed. 

I know I have to create something to be happy.

I sorted through and shredded the content of rows upon rows of binders.

I had to make room for new things to happen.


I saved all cards and greetings, and took photos of all the flowers my dear ones sent me.

I knew I needed to be reminded of the outpouring of love and comfort I was given.

I made orange marmalade and lemon curd. I made homemade bread.

I know how I truly relax when putting my feet up, sharing a meal with someone dear to me.


I stayed close to my husband, talking and wondering, sharing information, cherishing memories.


I tried to think of a letter to write to my children, and found one should never postpone saying how much we love each other. Everything else is just words.

This is who I am, these are the tools I am given and know how to use, and I did.

Why? When life was threatened, I did not need to do what I had not done, I needed to reassure myself that I have had a life filled with the grace of God, the love of my family and friends, the gift of beauty and the joy of creating.

I am healing, I have been given new possibilities. I am stronger and happier than ever. I know I did get to play after all.

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Faith without google

heavenly cellThe ceiling was white from sulphur deposits. The walls had nine oblong caves, big enough to lie down in, but never raise from. In between the bigger holes were numerous tiny ones. Hardly big enough to stuff the body of a child into. We were fourteen people, pressing close to the walls, around a stone slab, covered in white, with four candles burning. It was the day of All Saints. We were deep in the catacombs, in silence, taking a moment to remember.

Then our guide, a priest from the Philippines told us a story. “I had a group of students here some days ago,” he said, “and I asked them: what is faith?

In an instant all of them had their phones out, but soon had to put them down. There’s no signal, I do not know, one of them said.”

“I invite you too take the time to know what’s written in your heart, to respond to this sacred space”, he continued, “and then answer yourself: what is faith?”

We were older, we were not invited to answer out loud, we cherished the silence. Even so, who knows what we had done if only our phones had been working?1.11.15 tente lys, alle helgen

Instant Bliss- planned for years

billedholmen 1On the highway from the airport one may get a glimpse of the sea and a tiny island, often bathed in exceptional light, the reflexes from the high sky and the wide expanse of water.

I always look out for it, expecting beauty. When in a taxi, I always remark on it, and mostly we start talking of the lovely views from the airport and into town.

When driving I stop, and get a quick shot out of the window, almost every time.

billedholmen 2I did not know until this summer that the island had a name, Billedholmen, ( the Picture Island) that you could go there, and that this is a special habitat for several plants and birds.

Last night, on our way back from my fathers birthday party, we found the parking lot, the almost hidden pathway under the highway and walked the rocky path along the ocean.

Every turn on the road revealed magic. Almost there, we had to stop, the rocks were to big to climb. ( or our party shoes were not up to the task). We sat for a while though, a moment of peace, bliss and beauty.

We will be back – with other shoes.

Billedholmen 4

The little garden in the mountains

start innerdalenMy daughters and my husband went for a hike, and came back totally enthralled with their day. “You simply have to go, you will love it!”, they said.

And so a year went by.

Then Kristin visited from the US and we needed I nice place to go, why don’t we go where you went last year? I suggested, and so we did.

InnerdalstårnetInnerdalen has been a hub for mountaineering for more than a hundred years. Even to us, who only hiked the trails, it was breathtaking, beautiful, amazing.

We found a lodge, had lunch, poked around, took pictures, and went back. Then I found my love!

renndølsetra klesvaskAt first, I saw an old mountain farm, Renndølsetra. Cows grassing, hens walking in the tall grass, clothes on the line, a charming place where you may stay for the night, rent boats, have a meal.

Renndølsetra 6 hageWe took deep breaths, and oohed and awed as we strolled the meadows. Then I turned a corner and came upon the perfect garden. Tiny, 5×5 meters, fenced to keep the cow out, a door leading into the kitchen, a small table, a book on the table, a cat sleeping on the doorstep. No lawn, of course, vegetables, salads, herbs in raised wooden beds.

Renndølsetra 5 hageI just ached to jump the fence, pick some leaves and go help getting dinner ready….or even weed a little!

Why did I wait a year to go there?

Renndølsetra 10

Weeding like a viking or for a king?

irisMy favorite way of weeding is to dig everything up, sifting the soil and replanting the plants I want. I call it the viking way. No dithering, no delicate fingers carefully picking tender unwanted shoots.

My favorite way of cleaning a room is to take as much as possible our of it, scrubbing every nook and cranny, and sort thoroughly through what comes back in side.

My favorite way of improving myself is grand plans, I will never… I will always….from now on. As a kid I ate no sugar for a year, just to prove I could, you get the picture?

peonknoppThen I heard the King’s gardener giving advice on how he weeded the king’s gardens. His main rule was, green things need light to grow. Or: if weeds do not get light, they will not grow. The second rule was, focus on what your favorites need to grow, and give them that. That could be to remove weeds, it could be to mulch, to support or to cut down, to divide and to renew.

If you look for weeds to weed, weeds is what you see. You could stay in your garden the whole day and see nothing but weeds.

Perhaps that is true for life too? Do we look at what is wrong? Do we concentrate on what should be changed or on what we have power to strengthen and let grow? Could my life’s garden be more enjoyable if I just cut away the weeds above ground, and start looking for flowers and fruit, even while I weed?

kobberkjelI tried that when cleaning at the cabin this weekend. Instead of grumbling about to few cupboards, muttering about plans for an annex or another room, I looked around for the things I really liked. Then I made them shine and look their best. The old copper coffee pot, the huge copper pan that we use for firewood, all the candlesticks. For an hour I polished cherished memories incorporated in lovely things, at night I could se the flames from the fireside reflected all over our lovely, perfectly clean, just big enough, little cabin.

Our vacation will soon be over, I am tempted to make rigorous plans for all the things I am to achieve this term. Until now my normal approach would be to do all chores on my list, try to make everyone happy, and then hope for some time for my own projects. Weeding away every disturbance, before I enjoy the flowers.

My new plan is to be so absorbed by the blooms that I neither see the weeds or hear the complains.

From now on, I will be weeding as for a king!

blomsterknopp

Two things to remember and one to forget

på sykkelturFinally, a sunny day, a saturday, a lovely day!

“What’s your plans?”, my husband asks.

“To bike to town and buy some buttons, and another errand”, I answer. The button shop is truly special, more than a hundred years old and filled with every ribbon, button, notion and frill you may possibly think of.

“I’ll come too!” he surprises me by saying, and so he does, and so does his best friend.

After a record braking cold and wet summer, the rose buds at last dare to open. The rugosas scent the air, the road to town is like a summer dream as we bike along. First my husband, at his side, Ruffy is bouncing, jumping, running and barking for joy, attached to the bike with his special dog spring. Now and then he looks up at his friend, just to confirm that they are together. Then I come, cruising on my comfy California bike, enjoying the day.

Ruffy hviler i gressetWe buy the buttons, we talk to an travelling student and a Nobel prize winner. We have coffee, Ruffy has water, we do the steep climb past the fortress to go home. Trondheim is at its loveliest best. We sit down to savor the view. I grab my camera to share my town, I take three pictures, and then I remember the one thing I had forgotten, to buy a memory card.

As I store my pictures on the cards, as well as on a spare hard disc, these  pictures are all I got. No funny dog ears flapping while he runs, no cathedral, no friends.

No memory card, just memories, truly worth remembering. Truly worth storing in my own memory. This summer has taken us through some heart breaking experiences and stories, even if they are not mine to tell, it has not been a happy summer. We needed a happy, relaxed day. We got the chance to have one, and we took it. That is what I will remember, both that there will be times of rest, there will be pockets of joy, and that I just have to remember to receive them. I could have stayed at home, waiting for another rainy day to buy buttons. I could have taken the car, and of course I could have remembered my memory card. I did not, and I got a happy day.

Festningen

Do you really care?

2014-07-31 at 04-59-58I was tired, coming into my hotel late at night, the hotel who has big signs all over their walls saying “We care”.
I was walking through endless corridors where slogans, like “you are finally here”, were painted on the floor.
I stumbled into my room, to discover that it was stuffy, tiny and dark.
I went to open the window, and looked straight into a corridor.
I tried to adjust the air-condition, but there was none.
I did not even sit down at the minuscule desk while I called the reception. I was right, there was no way to adjust the airflow, and there was no other room to be had. The receptionist was kind and tried to be helpful,but he could do nothing. I did not even think it was funny when I saw the folder announcing the values of this chain, “with energy, courage and enthusiasm, we create a better world.” I sat down to search for another hotel nearby, one where you could breath, one with two sockets so you could recharge both the phone and the computer, one where you could walk around the bed without getting stuck. I had to give in. No rooms to be had, and I was too tired to  go out for dinner, so I just went to bed. Bad night.

2014-07-31 at 05-08-53Next morning I had a cold and a headache when I went down for breakfast. As I passed the front desk, the receptionist called me. “I am so sorry I could not help you last night, thanks for being so patient” and “I’ll find you something better tonight”. And he did, and I slept well, and I had a nice chat with him, and I guess I’ll stay there again. I can not help but wonder though, how much nicer it would have been if the building, the technical installations, and the very booking system showed that they really cared? The people were doing their best, but the bricks and stones got in the way for their very best. Sometimes we have to do with what we got, but why would you give your employees a bad hand just to make it harder to make something good?

I ended up having a good time. I was cared for.
Thanks to the people who were not only repeating slogans but trying to live them.

The pictures are from the old church at Lom, the true test on integrity, to do what we say we believe.

The hotel made it in the end, so I will not tell you where it was. I’d rather question myself: where, when, how or even if, do I do what I say I will do?

2014-07-31 at 03-25-14