Monthly Archives: December 2010

Stories

Stories live not only in books, but in your husband’s raised eyebrow, and your great-grandmother’s life as a nurse, and the piece of vintage jewellery from Etsy, and the billions of photos hidden away* in cupboards and on harddrives all across the world.

Me, I read stories, and I imagine them, photograph them, and write them down, content as long as I can spend my life making my way through the web of stories making up the world.

Stories in sepia

*Thanks to Chris Sneddon of Shutter Sisters for sharing the link to Vivian Meyer’s newly discovered work. Go check it out – it’s fascinating!

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Sharing

From time to time I become extremely passionate about a certain book or a CD. Following on the heels of that passion is the desire to share the stories or music that touched me so deeply, since everone else must surely be as moved as I was by these things. Consequently, I blog about it, share it on Facebook, and I have from time to time given these books and CDs as presents to people I believe will be interested.

After a while I have realised that while these gifts do spring from an honest wish to bring enjoyment to my friends, there is also a selfish element of validation inherent in such gifts; if other people recognise what touches me so deeply, it only adds to my own enjoyment. While I haven’t stopped sharing the things I enjoy through gift-giving, I have become a bit more careful about taking into consideration the other person’s perspective. Sometimes these gifts succeed and I find a fellow enthusiast, and sometimes my friends are left cold.

For Christmas my mother shared with me some of her recent favourite music, the CD Love’s Philosophy by the Norwegian singer and composer Maren Onarheim. The album consists of lyrics by Keats, Shelley and Byron, set to music and sung by Onarheim, accompanied by Ketil Bjørnstad on piano.

My mother did succeed in sharing her enthusiasm for this CD; the music is truly beautiful and full of emotion, and I have discovered lyrics by the three poets that I didn’t know from before.  And here my need to share my own, new-found enthusiasm kicks in – here is a stanza from a poem by Shelley called The Cloud that I find utterly fantastic – I love the imagery as well as the rhythm of the language:

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and the sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

{89/365} 'Love's Philosophy'


Shiny Season

Shiny necklace
I appreciate shiny baubles as much as the next girl. However, this necklace is so much more than a stylish accessory. Rather, it’s a reminder of what is the most important with Christmas for me – the reminder of how grateful I am for my family and friends.

A few weeks ago, Mum and I took a weekend trip to Dublin. Walking through Temple Bar, we came across a stall where Courtney Designs was selling the most wonderful jewellery. Both Mum and I were immediately entranced. Mum asked me what I thought of the necklace pictured above. I assumed she was asking me my opinion on whether or not she should buy it. I thought it was gorgeous and would fit her well, and said so. She bought the necklace, and I thought no more of it.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. I’m unwrapping a small present from Mum, and what do I find but a box containing the necklace! My thoughtful mother apparently intended for me to have it all along and I was truly touched – one of the many small Christmas moments that now shine in my memory.


Sweets

Mozartkugeln
The photo shows one of my Sunday projects – hand-made copies of Mozartkugeln as a Christmas present for my grandmother and her husband. Though I enjoy cooking, I have never made sweets before. I am not sure it’s something I’ll repeat very frequently – it was quite messy and rather difficult to make it look good. But they taste heavenly, and that’s the point, surely 🙂

The recipe (makes about 35 kugeln):

  • 500 g. marzipan
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 150 g. nougat
  • 150 g. dark chocolate
  • cocoa

Mix the marzipan and cognac well. Cut the nougat into small pieces. Divide the marzipan mixture into 35 pieces, flatten them a bit, and put a piece of nougat on each. Roll into balls. (All of this working with marzipan is very sticky!) Melt the chocolate. Dip each ball in the chocolate and put them on a piece of baking paper. Sprinkle cocoa over, and put them in small paper cups. Store in an airtight container.


A village of my own

Winter cityHearing the word village, I think of a small settlement in the English countryside. There’s an inn, with a name like The Dragon, or The Eagle and Child. A couple of stores, where people from the outlying farms come in regularly and buy what they need. A river, and a cobblestoned bridge over the river. A church.

I imagine everyone knows everyone in this village. You meet your aunts and uncles regularly when you’re out walking, and your cousin serves on the Village Council. Your neighbours pop by regularly for a cup of tea, and they look after your dogs when you’re away from home.

Me, I’m from the big city. Or, from a city big by Norwegian standards anyway; Oslo, capital city of Norway, houses about half a million people.

People sometimes think the city is a lonely and cold place, where no one knows you and no one cares. And indeed – painful thought, but one that must not be forgotten – there are people who have no home in the city even though they live here.

I’m lucky enough that the city is kind to me. For one thing, I enjoy the anonymity. When people don’t know me, they don’t gossip about me, and I like to come home whenever I want – or not at all – without anyone noticing. (I’m actually a homebody who prefers to spend the weekend nights at home sharing a good meal and a bottle of wine with my partner, but that’s beside the point.)

And anyway, what is a city but a collection of villages, of networks tieing people together? I have most of my friends and family within reach on foot or by public transport. I chat with the neighbours about the weather. I’m recognised by the people who own the local deli.

In other words, I have the best of the city and the village both in my life, and I’m grateful for it.

[texture credit on the image to SkeletalMess]

Journey

Journey“It`s not the end
Not the kingdom come
It is the journey that matters, the distant wanderer
Call of the wild
In me forever and ever and ever forever
(Nightwish – Wanderlust)

It is too easy to forget, sometimes, that the journey matters as much as the destination. I have an intense dislike for most things related to the technicalities of travelling – I get car sick, I border on claustrophobic in crowds, and find airport security very stressful. I cope with all of it by seizing the opportunity to relax; I never travel without a book in my purse, and disappear into it whenever I have the chance. Another trick is to pay attention to the details; usually I can even enjoy the journey through things like finding the perfect present for a friend, chatting with the nice woman ringing up my purchase in the airport bookstore or making up stories in my head about the handsome couple next to me on the train.

Writing my previous post on self-esteem, I was reminded of how photography too is a journey. I have very little prestige invested in my photos; I was always much more interested in writing than the visual arts, so there has never been any expectation from myself or anyone else for me to be “good” at this little hobby. Rather, photography remains a private hobby for me, since very few people in real life get to see my shots or even know that I take photos at all. My own learning curve and the personal emotional appeal of my photos have come to matter so much more than technical superiority or originality, and I intend to keep it that way, treasuring my own photographic journey and hoping it never ends.


The divine

{75/365} PtH Day 13: Divine canvasA couple of days ago, the daily prompt for the e-class Picture the Holidays asked for an image of the divine. I am not religious myself, but the divine is certainly present in my life anyway. I ended up posting the image to the left, of a recent winter sunrise; the fact that dark gives way to light every day without fail is a natural miracle I will always appreciate.

We live right across the road from a church. Every Sunday morning we hear the church bells ring, to summon people to  church and to mark the end of the service. You might think that I would find it an annoyance, nothing but a noise without significance that prevents me from sleeping in on Sundays. Thankfully, that is not true.

In the same way, I am not upset or annoyed by the religious imagery related to Christmas. The birth of a child, the birth of a person with a potential to be absolutely anything – a great author, the one who finds a cure for cancer, my future children’s best friend – is another miracle, worthy of celebration, to remind me that there is something bigger out there, that the world is grand and beautiful and filled with sunrises.

So I treasure the church bells for their promise of the divine.

Bells