A rainy day is a special gift to readers
– Amy Miles
This Summer has been full of gifts, but today I say thank you . .
In my hometown it’s kind of a cool thing to get to school or your job by boat in the morning. It’s very timesaving to take a boat across the sea, for many this is a trip that they can do in five minutes. The alternative is to go by bus or car, of course, and that’s both more time-consuming and for many viewed as a very boring alternative.
Still, I think I would have left the boat at home today…I wonder whether these two boat-owners secretly agrees?
I mean, even Mr. Seagull seems to be cold today.
And I had an instant urge to dress these two darlings!
I’ve just finished reading a book that made me cry. The title was “One of us”, and I had no intention of reading this book, actually, but then I got it as a Christmas gift, and I thought to myself that maybe, maybe it’s a good thing to read about this now… Some time has passed bye, and we are ready to never forget.
It wasn’t a foreign terrorist group behind the biggest attack on Norway in peacetime. It was actually a young man from Oslo. Ever since 22 July 22 2011, Norway has tried to understand what drove the mass murderer to such a heinous act.
With the use of unique sources, Åsne Seierstad depicts the image of a man who for years tried to fit into society’s framework, but who ultimately crushed them in the most brutal manner.
This is also the story of the victims. Two sisters who had rejoiced at the AUF’s summer camp on Utøya, the highlight of year for them. The summer camp was also the destination for a group of boys from far north of Norway. They set out to share their political ideas, to meet new people, to learn new things, to have fun and to hear other talk… And only some of them would come back home.
I was afraid this book would try to make me understand the terrorist and why he did what he did. It was not, even though it was the story of a child who had problems and was neglected, a young teenager who got rejected by his friends and his father, a young man who used five years of his life to play the online videogame WOW. But it was also the story about the man, who grew up in one of the world’s richest countries, in the capital which was multicultural, with friends from different parts of the world. He was one of us. There are a lot of people that have had similar experiences growing up, and a lot worse. He had a lot of possibilities.
The best part of the book is the part were Åsne Seierstad writes about some of the victims, and their families. We get a reminder of the many beautiful and talented young people that were killed, because of the cruel ideas in one man’s head. Even now when I write about it, I can’t hold back my tears. The story of Bano Rashid, who was 7 years old when her parents took her and her siblings and flew from the war in their country. They came to Norway to leave a peaceful life. Bano engaged in a lot of activities after school, always with her sister Lara by her side. She was happy, she worked a whole summer to be able to buy a Norwegian folkloric costume. And she was active in politics. The summer camp at Utøya was the highlight of the summer for her and her sister. Bano got interviewed by television a few hours before she was killed. She was 18 years old, and she was killed. Not in a war, but in a summer camp for youth. In Norway. She was one of us.
The award-winning author Åsne Seierstad has previously reported from wars and conflicts around the world. On 22 July 2011, terror came to her own country. “One of us” is the first book she has written about Norway.
I’m glad I read the book, and I will recommend it, even though I will say that it is hard reading and the story will follow me for days.
We’ve been enjoying so much nice weather these last couple of weeks, and nature’s autumn colours are so splendid this year.
There’s something about this season that goes so well up against white churches, and I’ve lately taken some photos of two of them. The first is from Sweden, taken two weeks ago, the second is from Norway, taken a week ago.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
This week I’ve had my two young nephews visiting, and we’ve followed this advice of Ghandi. The first day we almost had to go to the hospital for minor injuries, but the rest of the time we went to places were we could explore.
The interesting Risør Saltwater Aquarium, on the quay in front of the Risør Hotel, is a small showcase of saltwater fish, crustaceans and shellfish common to Norway’s south coast. It is the only salt water aquarium in the region, and contains many unusual species of fish found in the region. A fun experience for everyone, and my nephews and I spent a whole day there.
We used significant time fishing for crabs and we were in the wet-lab for a long while as well. We saw a film were a lobster changed his frock, so to speak, and we learned a lot.
The fact that we could read the information about the habitants in the fish tanks on small screens, were exciting and a great learning possibility, in a playful way, for my nephews. The aquarium really presented an exciting and educational experience for us all, both adults and kids.
This year, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944), one of the towering figures of modern art. . Many know Munch as the man who painted The Scream, but his complete works are remarkable and secure his place as one of the greatest artists to have ever lived.
Last week I finally got to see the exhibition “Munch 150” which is co-hosted by the National Museum and the Munch Museum, both in Oslo. “ Munch 150” is the most comprehensive and ambitious exhibition ever staged representing his 60 years of prolific work, and it open in Oslo on June 2 and run until October 13. With more of 220 of his paintings, including The Scream and Melancholy, the show will anchor an extensive Munch-related summer program occurring throughout the country.
Apart from Munch’s major works, the exhibit promises less-known treasures. “One of the aims of the exhibition is to inspire visitors to discover ‘their own Munch’ as an ever-experimenting, innovative, and relevant artist,” according to its organizers.
It was such a great walk between masterpieces, and the experience left me both uplifted and humble.
Edvard Munch, who died in 1944, is considered one of the most influential artistic figures in modern European visual arts, and the anniversary event intends to give “an opportunity for a new experience and understanding of Munch’s ground-breaking contributions to modern art,” the organizers say.
In his day he elicited anger and admiration for his unorthodox style of painting. Today his work continues to influence and reflect the realities of the continent.
Other exhibits of his prints, collaborations, interpretations by other artists, collective works done in different periods of his life, documentaries, and plays based on his controversial and celebrated art are on the list, as well as alternative treats like The Scream from Nature, an interactive contemporary project interpreting Munch’s masterpiece The Scream, in which the iconic anxiety-ridden face will be recreated outdoors in large format.
“Munch wrote several texts about The Scream motif, the most poignant among these being: ‘I felt a huge unending scream course through nature,’” write the organizers. “Now, over 100 years later, we hear another ‘scream’ from nature: droughts, forest fires, floods, earth slides, extreme weather, melting glaciers, rising ocean levels and massive extinctions of animal and plant species are just some of the huge challenges the world faces today.”
At least it used to be, and I don’t think times have changed that much, when I think about it. Tomorrow is the 17th of May, our National Day, and we celebrate our day with children parades and festivities. The May 17 celebrations vary from place to place, but usually follow a traditional pattern that makes this the highlight of the year for most Norwegian children. A must in the celebrations are the children’s parades, made up of school classes marching with the school band through the local community. Most of the children carry small Norwegian flags and the route is lined with enthusiastic onlookers. Dressed in their best, the children then engage in games and activities, and for many this is the one day of the year where the supply of ice cream and hot dogs is endless.
When I grew up, my Mom used to be extra multitasking on the night of 16th of May.
My eldest brother was a member of the school marching band, so she had to make his uniform in order, and his shoes had to shine. Shine did also his trombone, which he played, and I think something triggered my Mom into make his instrument the shiniest one in the band. Of course, this was only to show off to the neighbours who were less organized, and sent their kids out with stains and finger-marks.
My sister, was the not-so proud owner of a Norwegian folks costume already at an early age, this because my Mom had been using months one winter to follow a course in sawing this beautiful costume. It was impressive, and I must mention that these costumes are highly popular these days, but back in our childhood, there weren’t that many children with folkloric costumes. And I know my sister dreamt about having a nice summer dress, like some of her more popular friends. All though were less urban than she wanted it to be, it caused a lot of work for my Mom, to prepare it. Especially the white shirt, and all the silver had to be taken care of, – it took her hours to make it all shine and sparkle. Then there was the arguing about what shoes to were, my sister seemed to have grown out of her shoes every year, and this was only discovered on this last night. One year my Mom drove an hour to exchange shoes with my cousins, and another year my sister walked the parade in my Moms shoes, two numbers to big…
Well, by the time my eldest brothers uniform and my sisters folk costume were prepared, we normally had to go to bed. My mom continued to prepare for the celebrations after we said goodnight. I remember to always falling into sleep accompanied by the noise of her sewing machine. It was time to finish my youngest brother new jacket and shorts. I remember his disapproval of his outfit the next morning, when he discovered he once again had a good chance of being an English prep-school boy. His mood improved quickly when he met his friends in similar clothes and when my Mom started talking about making a boys folkloric costume for next year.
And then there was me. I usually woke up one time during the night by my Mom taking my measures for my new dress, and quietly shushing me back to sleep. My dresses for the 17th of May were usually in the colours of red, white and blue, and very often I matched my Mom.
The last thing my Mom did, was preparing my Dads suite, and ironing the six small flags for the parade. These six flags were marked with our names, and they lasted year after year. I thought of this today, when I saw a woman buying new flags, telling her husband that she had now idea were last year’s flags were, unless he knew?
When I think about all the preparations my Mom had for this day, I understand why she never were as enthusiastic about the day as the rest of us. I hope that today’s parents have more joy in the celebrations, and I hope they get a bit more sleep than my Mom used to.
HAPPY 17.th of May to everyone.
And eat lots of icecream. If you need an excuse to eat icecream, tomorrow is your day, just tell everyone that you are celebrating with the Norwegians!
I’ve written about our natural fascination of animals on my blog before, and today I want to share some magic. Yesterday there were two lucky boys bonding with the Tigers in our local zoo. (Kristiansand, Norway)
All photos were taken by Marthe Glomset Omholt, by a smartphone 🙂