Be the rain

At Tindevegen, driving to Bergen

At Tindevegen, driving to Bergen

We were having coffee after dinner, it was May. I was going to Bergen on a business trip and was googling for a hotel. As usual I was distracted. “Guess who is coming to Bergen?” I asked Stig who was seriously studying something important and was not able to shift into quiz mode before I gave him the answer: Neil Young and Crazy Horse! “We’ll go”, he said.

Glacier in the mountains

Glacier in the mountains

A month later he said, did you buy those tickets? I had not, but immediately saw the solution to luxury problem number one, what to give him for his birthday. ( It’s not really a problem to have a guy you want to give gifts to and even have the means to do it, is it?) Some minutes later I was done, Happy birthday! I said. Well, Neil was playing on the 1st and Stig’s birthday is some days later, but who cares! I reserved rooms in a nice hotel too ( as Stig and his buddies would have been happy camping, and I’m not).

Lærdalstunnelen, at 24.51 km, the longest road tunnel in the world

Lærdalstunnelen, at 24.51 km, the longest road tunnel in the world

Thinking of buddies, do you think our rock loving friends will go? I added. “Of course, we’ll go together”, he said instantly. Just some texting later the loose plans were laid. We were indeed going together, in some way or another, and we all wanted both concert, sightseeing, adventures and comfort.

Lærdalsøyri, still blooming after the fire this January

Lærdalsøyri, still blooming after the fire this January

Another month later we met for planning. We ordered one night’s stay at an old farm in Voss. We decided which way to go. We decided where to meet for lunch the first day, for the rest we were going to wing it. And we did! In between frequent stops, where all of us “oohed and awed”, Stig and my friend talked and me and her husband were taking pictures.Lots of pictures! Then we met for coffee at a place we thought would be delicious, found out it was all but, and went on to find a fairytale village.

The first night we were disappointed, an old grey barn, rain and nobody about. Then we entered and were enchanted, Store Ringheim is a tiny hotel with only six rooms, but deliciously decorated and beautifully situated. I was so happy that I spent most of the tasty breakfast taking pictures. Until I discovered I had taken video of a set of old plates. Not all movies manages to be so at the point as this one does!

Voss

Voss

Next morning we moved on towards Bergen. Stig and me stopped to enjoy the knit wear factories along the route. At Oleana they make my favorite cardigans, based on old, norwegian embroidery and weaving patterns.What a treat! I could talk to everyone, feel the yarns, browse the patterns and marvel at the colors.

Oleana, of course I bought something...

Oleana, of course I bought something…

Then Bergen, I’ll write a travel post from that lovely town another time. This saturday it was all crowded with people enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to the concert. Warm, sunny skies. Then the “Waterboys” were on and the rain. Of course Neil Young  had to start with “Be the rain”, and we were…every part and particle of every person soaked and drenched in rain, thunder, rock’n roll and companionship. Say no more!

Bergen, with us, without rain

Bergen, with us, without rain

If you ever want a spectacular drive through the wildest part of Norway, I’ll give you my highlights, even if I think you’ll have just as much fun by just starting to drive and see where the road takes you. Even, and perhaps mostly so, when you have to be the rain!

going back, along the Hardanger fjord

going back, along the Hardanger fjord

The story without a moral

Searching for the cafe at Ringsaker

Searching for the cafe at Ringsaker

Sometimes we have a point to share when sharing our journey through life. At other times, writing is just the joy of remembering, of living through joy and adventure once more. To be shared, of course, but with no moral to it, no indexing, sorting, couching, or any wisdom at all included, just joy.

So this is how the pointless story without any message goes:

” I am going to visit Kristin this summer”, I told Stig in May,” are you coming too?”

“Of course, I’d love that” he says, picturing hikes in the mountains, on the glaciers and in the woods, which is one of the things our friend loves to do.

Some weeks later, he probably feels there has been to little checking on equipment, comparing routes and discussing alternatives. ” Actually, what are the plans for our visit?” he asks.

No tough girl activities planned at all, I can see that he is not happy, and simultaneously we arrive to the same conclusion. He’ll bring the Harley, I’ll bring the dog, and that’s how we went.

Going down to the lake Mjøsa from Hovinsholm

Going down to the lake Mjøsa from Hovinsholm

His stories about the rides in the fierce thunderstorm, at the highest altitudes and the worst roads, the most glorious views and the warmest day ever, are his to tell. Happy trails!

We, Kristin and me, went for rides that would have driven anybody but us crazy. It goes like this: “there should be a lovely cafe here, really? let’s turn around! Oh it’s not here, it’s over there,can we go there? I am not sure, let’s try, oops that was not the right place…did you see those colors!” And then we stop, park the car at the roadside, and takes pictures, stroll along a curvy lane or get soaked in a shower while picking sunflowers.

Stopping for pictures at Helgøya

Stopping for pictures at Helgøya

Then we have coffee, and of course more coffee if another nice place turns up, and then there are honesty stalls with raspberries, interesting people to chat with and the most amazing stories to be told.

Sunflowers to pick, the sign reads "knife on the box"

Sunflowers to pick, the sign reads “knife on the box”

Then we set off searching for a cute store selling exceptional dresses, and we find it! Except it is closed…but we do find the store selling pure linen dish rags, and are happy buying them!

Perfect break at Skafferiet

Perfect break at Skafferiet

Another day we do the lovely ride and short hike to an old restored small-holding high in the hills, the gallery, cafe and home of Egil Thorin Næsheim.

The "outdoor" kitchen at Snekkerstua

The “outdoor” kitchen at Snekkerstua

Pancakes with rhubarb jam in a mountain garden, the dog curled at our feet, the sun smiling.

Snekkerstua, the Næsheim gallery

Snekkerstua, the Næsheim gallery

Later that day we go to another mountain farm, called Ro, or Peace.
No words can catch the buzzing bees, the smell of thyme, the soft grey green of the apples ripeneing on the wall. Then there was coffee served from a copper kettle, with hot cinnamon rolls to go with it.

Coffee, served the peaceful way at "Ro"

Coffee, served the peaceful way at “Ro”

Even so, the best treat, Lina, the creator of the garden pulled up a chair and sat down with us, telling us about her visions, dreams and work.

Kristin and Lina at Kulturstua Ro

Kristin and Lina at Kulturstua Ro

Days do not often come better than these! And then we went home, to Kristin and her mother at the charming, old, small farm, and made the day even better, with nice long meals, raspberries and cream, more talking, more sharing.
Just a couple of days, and Kristin went back to work, we loaded the bike and went back home, full of adventures and pictures to share with each other, and shared memories of a treasured visit with a dear friend.

The living room at Snekkerstua

The living room at Snekkerstua

 

 

Summer snow

Midsummer in Oppdal

Midsummer in Oppdal

As we arrived at our cabin, it was snowing. As we made a fire in the fireplace the wind was howling. As we hoisted the banner to tell the world that we were in place to celebrate midsummer the hail came hammering down. Midsummer? Midsummer!

IMG_5773 (1280x853)I had to go looking for it. Dressed in windbreakers, muffler and gloves, boots and hat, dog on leash I went to search for the summer in hiding. I found flowers, wildflowers shaking in the wind, but still blooming. I lost count after finding ten different kinds on three square feet. I heard the cuckoo somewhere in a fir-tree. When I was a kid, the first cuckoo was the sign we were allowed to run barefoot in the grass. I met a flock of ewes with their month old lambs, the sheep-bells clinging in the wind even when the animals were standing still to figure who I was.

IMG_5736 (1280x853)We came home, to the warm cabin. Put the midsummer bouquet in a water, lighted the candles, rekindled the fire. I had found summer, I just had to look for it.

Finse, May 9th, the hash mash of truth

IMG_5269 solskinn1This has been the most “eavesdroppingly” week of my life. It is not that I do not want to listen to the person I am talking to, but I want to listen to everyone, and this truly has been a week of strange confessions to listen in to. We’re at a small hotel, surrounded by ice and snow, and in every corner, at every table something exceptional is being told.

IMG_5291småhusAre they going out for a smoke? My friend asked me. The sunburned anorak clad guy in the breakfast room is putting two fingers on his lips. No, he is telling her to put sunscreen on her lips, I tell her. Being in the lucky position of knowing the language. The other information I gathered this week is more uncertified, and I keep wondering, how often do we think we know something as fact, that never was one? I have had several test groups this week.

First the group of code experts from all over the world, there are no limits to how I am able to combine their knowledge into total rubbish.

Then the group of explorers, even inside, they are fighting the arctic winds when they share their stories. One tale taller than the other, how they survived, and how they almost not. The glimpses they give into their hearts are cruel, cold and terrible, or brave, courageous and impressive, depending on your mindset.At breakfast this morning their plates were piled with eggs, bacon, sausages and porridge, their boots stomped on the floor, and then they were off into the white.

Then the group of actors and crew, impressive to witness all the people working to get that going. Then the tidbits, on how you train a hen to play ill ( you do not, but you are not allowed to drug it without an veterinarian present). Or me, sitting next to an Academy Award winning actor at breakfast, my favorite from several films, and not recognizing her. She told me she was a french actress, and I thought she was joking.

IMG_5295solskinn3But that’s another tale, if I got that one right. For now, I am off into the mountains, as her departing salute was.

Finse on the 8th of May

I had planned to sleep in today. Having a late breakfast, taking my time deciding what to do. Then, at six thirty, I happened to look out of our bedroom window. The blinds were up, and the window was open, the whole world was there to see, from my bed. And what a world! Covered in white, only   some rocks showing through the snow. Steely grey skies, except from a single beam from the morning sun, hitting the side of the mountain just as three small avalanches rolled down towards the lake.

Indexyourlife Finse2I grabbed my camera and got some pictures while still in my nightie. Not perfect from a technical view, but gorgeous for me being in the middle of it. The beauty made me wide awake, and as soon as the sun was hidden again I was out of bed and ready for the day. You see, we are at Finse.

Finse, that is where Schackleton, Nansen and Scott trained for their expeditions.
Finse, that is where snow kiters, glacier walkers, mountain skiers and terrain bikers form all the world love to challenge themselves.
Finse, that is where film crews find solitude, ice and snow. As in Star wars, as just now with “Nobody wants the night” with Juliet Binoche and Gabriel Byrd, cast as Robert Peary and his love.
Finse, the highest point on the Oslo-Bergen railway at 1222 m. above sea level, with an historic hotel from 1909, teeming with life and energy.

IMG_5213 Finse skitur1At Finse where we are this week it is still winter, still enough winter to pretend it is Greenland in winter. I have spent the week visiting with friends from Santa Barbara. My husband and 30 other of his kind have been sharing insights and wisdom on computer security and coding.

Today I rented mountain skis and went out in the white. even when overcast, the glare makes you wear sunglasses.  Just now I am blogging as somebody else is preparing a delicious meal. Today have been happy trails, indeed.

 

Seeing is not believeing

IMG_4507As I did go, even if I was not feeling well, I might as well make the most of it. Due to the connections I arrived hours before the others, and could go looking for things, in a most happy place to do that. A misty, unknown wood, sprinkled with steady spring rain and full of surprises.

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First I saw golden glimmers among the trees, old rotten leaves, but still a burning orange, so lovely.

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Then I saw golden glimmers among the trees, except these were reflection of trees in the water, and the glimmer was fiery red carps, golden moment.

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The next orange flutter was a bird hopping close to my feet, obviously trying to remind me that others had brought food…

I did not pay attention, as that was when I saw a bundle of unbelievable, flaming orange leaping over the carpet of pine needles and laying down to rest among the trees. Neither leaves, nor fish, nor birds, but a couple of Siberian tigers jumping for joy in the rainy spring morning.

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Sometimes, even seeing is almost not believing, and as I did not capture them until they took a rest, you might believe what you want to. Isn’t that always so, no matter what we are told, even no matter what we see, we believe only what we are prepared to see.

We see only what we think it is possible to see? Sometimes, we do. And then at other times, there are tigers in norwegian woods.

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Silver, books or food?

IMG_4193These last weeks I have been reading two books, in norwegian, written by daughters, clearing out their mother’s home. Some years ago my siblings and I did that too, a chore that is something quite else, more like an initiation rite.
Going through item after item, trash and treasures, and deciding;
This you must leave, to grow to what you are to become,
this you may keep, to stay true to who you are,
this you may finally get rid of,
this is not yours to have,
all the time knowing it is only things.
The lesson that could be taken is: “These things are not what your mother left you, but what is, and what is worth keeping?”

One of the authors used the lost Franklin expedition to reflect on what we cherish. The  real story about  John Franklin and his men getting lost while searching for the Northwest passage in 1845 is still a mystery. Actually a new theory was launched as late as this january. What is known though is that these starving, lost men, pulled their sleds, hoping for salvation, but still throwing away essentials to make their burden lighter. The Inuits and the rescue parties have found tins of food, medical supplies and crucial tools left along the last route. They must have been giving in to despair, realizing all hope was lost. And then, perhaps not, the last things to be ditched were monogrammed silver cutlery and a novel. Why?

IMG_4444I found my copy of the book, The Vicar of Wakefield, and read it through, to understand why and when it would be better than food. I am not sure, what do you think?

To me the real eye opener is not how these lost men prioritized though. The more serious question is of course my own choices, not only when it comes to material belongings,or food versus books, what about relations, obligations, work, beliefs?

When I let something go, what guides my choosing? When I decide to keep on to something, will it really keep me up to the end?

What you do not find, is still there

Hidden threats

Hidden threats

After dinner I went back to the business lounge to finish my report for the day. I was very comfortable, in a red velvety wing chair, with a cup of steaming coffee and my iPad. But I was not hidden.

In comes a group of business people. They occupy the next table, get coffee and open their laptops. At first I do not listen to their strategies, they are planning how to present their added value to their client next day, which is what business is always about. Even when one of them says  to the young and aspiring one ” remember added value is not supposed to cost us anything”, I am not surprised. He does continue though,” it is all about giving them something that is understood by their customers as added value, when in truth it they are not given what they pay for.” This makes me listen.

I am still not hidden, I am not eavesdropping, as this experienced executive is sitting a yard away from me, talking loud and clear.

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Then they compare their notes and slides and statistics, concluding that their best chance of closing the deal is to present their business client with an IT system that hides as many consumer rights as possible. The consumer that orders something through this site will then give up before discovering their legal rights. The consumer is not cheated, as the truth is still there. As an added bonus, this program could also make the order appear as it was processed at an earlier date than it was, thus giving the customer less time to file his claim. They even discussed the possibility of selling things the customer could not possibly use, as connecting flights before your first flight has landed, and then keep some of the fare. They did not go there though, not to protect the customer, but  it was not really legal, or was it?

I was still not hiding, there was no way they could not see me, smell my coffee or hear me drinking it. Even so, they did not think their plans was worth hiding.

I did not discover what firm this was, except that they were americans. I do not know who they were meeting the next day. I slowly discovered a chilling truth though, I think they did not bother to hide, because they thought every business person would think like them. They were not divulging secrets, but showing off their business acumen.They knew their client, and knew the possibility of holding truth and rights away from their customers was indeed added value.

I was not impressed, and even if I was not hiding I do not think they realized that I left. By then they were too busy toasting to the success of tomorrow.

What I do know though is that truth is still truth, even if it is hidden. I also know that no amount of that kind of added value will be worth the lack of trust in businesses that implements systems to cheat their customers.

In earlier days bakers added a roll to your order of a dozen, just to not risk the death penalty of selling less than paid for.

Rolls are easy to count,  but how do we count what we do not see, and do not know that we should be looking for? There is no use to blame the systems, they are all made by people like you and me. There is no use to blame the law, at least in Norway customers are protected, if they only know what to look  and ask for.

The client could refuse of course, which I hope they did. The customers could be more wary, investigating their rights and insisiting on truths, as I do. Not only for my own sake, but to stir up routines on behalf of those who do not know they may. We all could be more wary, not trusting each other. We could demand more government control, compliance systems and ethical regulations.

Or we could encourage each other to voice our concern, to make heard the stories of companies doing success by being fair, we could dare to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. Not only to a legal framework, but to the ethical choices we need to take to make the world better for everyone. It is still all about doing as you would be done to, isn’t it?

Dare to choose your soup

“Spinach pie with soup!”, “spinach pie!”, “with soup!” A tall lady, all clad in light blue,were weaving her way through the cafe, holding a tray with steaming plates up in the air. It smells delicious, but no one takes her offer. Most are looking up to see if the situation will be solved, then they hastily looks away as if being afraid of having their dinner choice challenged. Any thing but spinach pie and soup. At the third time the spinach with sides are carried around an old, frail man is looking up, asking meekly” vegan pie?” “Just as I said” the still smiling waitress is beaming while she puts the tray on his table “spinach pie with soup!”
He looks quickly down, as if he is ashamed of not having used the approved cafe vocabulary.
As for the rest of us, we all feel relieved. The slightly nervous cloud lifts and we all returns to our chatting, relaxing and eating non spinachy fare.
I am having cauliflower soup with fennel,which actually is Brussels sprouts and cabbage with caraway-seeds, and wonder what happened.
We were not challenged on any moral choices, we were not asked to contribute in any way, actually we were not involved at all. Still, the room had been heavy with the dread of “not pleasing” “not being good” and the will to be accommodating and helpful.
I am a person who never does anything illegal, yet still gets restless when I spot the highway patrol in my rear window. I am the one who could feel the need to explain to the usher in church that I already have donated. I am the one who need to tell the other parents why I am not standing as PTA representative, even when no one has called my name.
I think there might be two clues to behavior like this. One is our need of external confirmation, to be in with the right crowd, which is good only if the “confirmators” share our real values. An other is our conscience constantly challenging us to be sure our choices are valid, which is good only if we have established our own value accountability. How do I have to behave to contribute to the society I want to build? If I am not able to understand the connection between my choices, my acts and the consequences of them I will have no way of knowing if my choices are ethically sound. I will have no way of holding myself responsible, far less anybody else.
The soup affair was in a special setting, a “green” cafe with pictures of some guru on every wall. That is how little it took to make ordinary upright citizens question the simplest choice.
What then does it take when something that matters is at stake? Whose influence may make us unable to stand by our values? What does it take to know which values we may never abandon?

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Roots in a bottle

IMG_4026I was on my way to a meeting in the charming old part of Bergen. Even as I was running late, I had my camera. Coming towards me was this old woman. Leaning heavily on her cane, labouring her way uphill.

We met midway. She paused, and of course I stopped, to see if there was anything I could do for her. Was she exhausted, was she ill?

She barely threw me a glance and bent down, poked her cane in the bushes and found a hamburger wrapping and a squashed bottle. She picked them up, went over to the trash-can outside the nearest house and threw it in.

Then she walked on.

I once had great grandparents and grandparents like that. They all taught by example how the tiny deeds always adds up to more that big thoughts. I just had forgotten. With my head in the clouds and my mind in my plans I had walked straight by a chance to keep this tiny street beautiful.

I trust I will be given more chances, and I know it is not only about trash in the bushes, but in all our doings. The one step taken is more important than the thousands just planned.

What about you? What is your tiny step today?