It’s been a while since I’ve seen my mom. Mom’s scheduled flight to visit me back in April was canceled because of the COVID-19 situation and I myself have travelled nowhere since March. Then came the day when restrictions were lifted, air companies started flying in Norway almost like before the pandemic (way more expensive though)
Curious fact: It’s the first time in my life I’m wearing such a mask. They make you sweat around your mouth. But it’s alright, when it grants passage to a much needed vacation.
Some years back my mom moved to the coast of Norway. Since I haven’t lived here myself, coming to visit her almost feels like a vacation abroad. The weather is not at all like I’m used to in Norway. It’s actually HOT. The nature is lush and flowering. Staying at your mom’s as an adult, is kind of like living at a hotel with all inclusive servises, free coaching and an amazing view.
Mom’s home is really a pearl, as we say in Norwegian, overlooking the fjord, with a garden full of roses, peonies, lilies and even strawberries, which we have to compete for, with the many birds who live in this area and happen to love red fruit for breakfast.
It’s a bit hard to explain how all this is a balm for my spirit without going into details about the difficulties of the spring. I’m focusing on the moment though. The sun is shining, the birds are singing – even though I picked up this day’s harvest of strawberries first, bees are making love to the blooming roses and life feels quite wonderful. It’s summer and vacation time.
I wish you, my reader, wonderful moments wherever you are!
As you can see in the head image above, there wasn’t a lot of people out in the streets. Even though Norway is lifting many of the restrictions related to the corona outbreak, we still can not gather more than 50 people in one place. Which is why Norways biggest national event didn’t become crowded celebration it usually is. Most people participated from the safe distance of their balcony.
I consider myself to be very lucky to be working on this occasion. I was following the band for the whole day, all around town, enjoying the music and the uplifting speeches. Most activities, such as children’s parade, school cafe and champagne breakfast, were cancelled this year, but not the bands. I don’t think there could ever be any 17th of May celebration without the bands and patriotic songs they play, like “Yes, we love this country” and “This is Norway in red, white and blue”. This year I discovered a new marching tune, “Telemark bataljon” – curious souls can listen to it here.
One of the things that made a huge impression yesterday, was a visit to the elderly center. I interviewed three ladies in their 90s. They had dressed up in beautiful dresses, put on flag pins and pearls, and were really looking forward for the band to arrive and play outside their windows. Although they were a bit sad because the children’s parade got canceled because of COVID-19, the mood was cheerful and expectant. This is such a joyful day, one of them told me, seemingly happy and excited about being interviewed. The flag pins on our jackets were exactly the same. I asked her to tell about a May 17th which she remembered especially well. Her smile fell immediately. I have some trouble remembering, she said quietly and suggested I ask someone else. Her face, when she felt she couldn’t fulfill my – and her own expectations, and the feeling that awoke in my own chest, will probably stay with me for a long while. Everything is temporary. All we can do is go with the flow and treasure every moment.
Another interesting experience was checking in on the drive-in church service. The preach was about our society buing built on trust and it was quite inspiring. The confidence we have in each other, the fantastical feeling of being trusted and the faith in equality – Norway a beautiful country to live in. We need to cherish this. I caught the priest on camera just as he was changing into his cassock (I had to google that word) in his trunk-wardrobe.
I have always loved scarfs and shawls. Not only because I hate freezing and having a scarf can instantly save the day, but for their brilliant ability to brighten up any outfit. Also, they look great in photos. As a photographer, I really appreciate that.
Until recently, my scarf collection consisted of random pieces. Although carefully collected over the years at various sales around the world, I wouldn’t have started this blog if my friend hadn’t introduced me to traditional Russian shawls last spring. She lent me this gorgeous woolen scarf on a cold afternoon and I kept it for a couple of weeks:
It was not mine, but I got to borrow it – this gorgeous scarf.
Seeing my reflection in mirrors and in windows, with that brightly colored piece around my neck made me smile
again and again…
… until the silky threads got stuck in the zipper of my jacket and got all messed up in my attempt to free them. I promised my friend to find her a new “platok” just like the one I messed up, but it’s was not possible to find in any stores in Murmansk.
I have bought two other scarfs for my friend and will eventually show them to you. But if you happen to know the name of this design, please share it in the comments!
Pavlopassadskie platki – beautiful scarfs and shawls from the Pavlovo Posad Shawl Manufactory.
After discovering the platki, there is no going back.
Every now and then I travel to Murmansk for work. Dropping by the PPS manufactory shop there has become a favorite tradition. Every platok has a special design, usually with a lovely name such as Dream Garden, Spring Fairytale or Earthly Love.
This orange fairytale is names Karavan – produced: 10.09.19:
I’m officially a collector of Russian scarfs and shawls.
I got really drunk. It matters because I obviously needed a refreshed lesson on mixing alcohols. I solemnly swear I’ve learned it now. I’m declaring white month. In the spirit of the arctic unicorn! No more spirits, but more yoga. The past few weeks have been a whirlpool of action. Now it’s time to land 🙂
*Which means sleeping more, reading and writing more, getting ready for winter. #healthymind #healthylife
How wonderful it is to be back, catching huge snow flakes on my eyelashes, getting a glimpse of the northern lights at night time, traveling across the border to Russia for pelmeni… The head image was shot from the top of the stairs of Nikels Cultural Palace.
Life has been running nonstop since I got home from vacation. We celebrated the 75th anniversary of the region where I live as being freed from nazi-occupation. That was last week. Huge celebration. King Harald and several ministers were in attendance in Kirkenes:
And my mom ❤
She’s visiting now.
She told me this joke today:
The child turned out to be allergic to the cat. We had to give it out for adoption. Then try again. All children can’t be allergic to cats!
My trip to Hong Kong didn’t go as planned, if I can even claim that I had a plan.
It was more like I travelled with a loose idea of places I should visit, marked in Google Maps, with one place being especially important: The Big Buddha.
I visited him on a Monday. Alone. It made me realize things, crazy things, like the fact that I don’t like traveling alone without a purpose. I love sharing experiences with other people. Otherwise you have to find meaningful ways to occupy yourself, which is how I ended up taking series of selfies and smiling at a lot of random people.
Although I didn’t quite find the right insta-filter to catch the mood of this day, I made a video ↓ #plansinterrupted #lonelytraveler
It begins with me sharing my fear of heights with my phone, in a glass elevator cabin far above ground. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself while #travelingalone. It simply wasn’t what I expected to do and my memories are colored by this filter I can’t quite name.
Let’s call it Mood E.
The sky looked like it would cry any minute, which it eventually did. Crowds were forecast, but I found a quiet and peaceful place. I waved at Buddha, fired up incense and prayed for patience and forgiveness at the Po Lin monastery. The rain gave me the perfect opportunity to hide in the cute souvenir shops of Ngong Ping village, where I bought these kittens:
This is great for many reasons. Personally, I appreciate the fact that I got to visit a new city and that I got to be a wedding guest for the first time in my life. Somehow I missed the weddings of my Russian friends because of travels and exams (everyone I know over there got married in the beginning of those summers when I was studying), while none of my Norwegian friends have tied the knot yet. I keep waiting for my childhood bestie Ida to get married to her baby’s father, but she insists they need to buy a house first. I began suspecting that I might never get to go a wedding, toast and cry for the bride and groom, and do all the other stuff that I’ve seen in films… I started thinking that maybe my time to be a “wedding guest just like in the movies” is past, because all the people who intended to get married, did it in their early twenties – and the rest will probably never “get out the finger” (GOTF = a fine Norwegian idiom for getting shit done).
Then came the invitation! To Ulyanovsk, of all places! I’ll tell more about this interesting city in another entry, let’s focus on the wedding for now.
The family of the groom rented Imperial Club Deluxe, a five star hotel with it’s own park and a scenic man-made lake. Apparently most couples of Ulyanovsk come to this park to get their wedding photos taken, but the fewest actually rent the whole place for the whole wedding. The plans for this wedding corresponded with all the wedding movies I’ve ever seen, with many invited guests, a big reception and fireworks. Hearing all this, I happily agreed to get styled by a professional make up artist on the morning of he wedding. If you only get one chance at being a wedding guest, you better do it right. This is how I ended up looking like a princess for the occasion:
It’s funny to think about that when I was living together with Nina, she felt that she had to move away from Alta to find love. She had spent a total of nine years in this little arctic city and believed love could never happen to her there. After our period as roomies, she actually did move to a much larger city, but she met her husband while living in Alta. They met abroad, but it happened while Nina still lived with me. I remember picking him up at Alta airport a couple of years ago when he came on a visit. Who would have thought I’d end up going to their wedding!
The moral of the story: Love can find you no matter where you live 😉
Somewhere in between sleep and reality last night, I remembered a cow. Nice thoughts followed. I couldn’t convince myself that I would remember them in the morning, although I really tried, and so I wrote them down:
Writing, documenting, publishing. It’s a nice method to process life and an excellent way to remember the important things.
It’s funny how one of the scenes I remember most clearly from Haiti is the skinny cow from this post:
This cow was shared because I encountered her while being absolutely high on happiness. I get closer to that space just from remembering that overwhelming grateful feeling. I love you cow, I felt. And feel.
The essence of this entry?
When you realize that your spiritual cow guide probably is a bull, don’t miss the point. If you can find one reason to smile right now, don’t overthink it – just do it.