Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kitten kiss

Four boys, two girls, six healthy little ones, one very proud mother, lots of love.

They are: Niklas, Balthasar, Teodor, Isvan, Gwendolen and little Mirja, who was only 75 grams when she arrived in this world, but who has gained 10 grams a day and is doing fine.

Pims is nursing them and guarding them and purring all the time, and is rather amazing. What a good girl.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yes, Mr. Scrooge, that's six!

Six kittens born on Christmas Eve, and no humbug about it. Can you imagine? Six! No wonder Pims was bulky!

It started just as my Pan's mother was about to put the finishing touches on their Christmas dinner.

- Oh, Pan said, - I think her water just broke.

And Pims just looked gravely at him and gave a single, serious meow. She wouldn't lie in the box we had prepared for her, but insisted on giving birth in a bed, like normal people. Okay, then.

And then they came in rapid (sort of) succession, six white, little mewling cats, all perfectly healthy, all suckling greedily, all very welcome. Pims licked them and took care of them and gave them milk, even though nobody had ever told her what to do. Clever, little cat!

The Christmas dinner was cold by then, and everyone was too tired to even open their presents, but still. What a wonderful Christmas gift!

If Anette, who sold Pims to us a year ago, and who has claim to half the kittens, agrees, we'll name them after characters in my story, which after all is a Christmas story. We don't know which are girls and which are boys yet, but there may be a Niklas, a Balthasar, an Isvan, a beautiful Clariselyn and a little Mirja and a fierce little Gwendolen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here's our tree at Mum's, complete with presents. Have a wonderful holiday, my friends, whether in snow or starshine, chaos of relatives and kids or cozy solitude, north or west or just far away. Love you, each and every one.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa's little helper

Okay, so I can't chew on them, but I can lie very close to them and think about it.

Update: Okay, so I managed to eat some string while Tone wasn't looking, but then discovered that it needs to come out again. Yesterday, I passed 15 cm of straggly string. Ach, it hurt! But I'm all better now. Funny, they've hidden all the presents and all the string now. What, they don't trust me or something? Stupid mannies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Too close in two ways

I thought I must write a post on the horrible, horrible fire on the Dragon Hill last night. A little after midnight, I heard the sirens, and then saw the flames, and immediately knew that nobody got out. The fire was just too wild. It roared against the sky and spewed out billowing fireballs and a thick column of ash and smoke.

And across the park, a mere skip and a jump away, I was lying in bed, watching it all, like a disaster movie on tv. But it wasn't a tv screen, it was my window, and it was real. Real people in there, still in there.

But then I thought: No, I can't. It's too horrible. I can't write only about that, not this close to the holidays.

So here are two Christmas darlings to soothe you: Pims and Sprucie.

Pims is ungainly and fed up and just ready for it to be over now. From time to time she cries and wails, and I wonder for a minute if it's started. But no, she just wants to be cuddled a little while those pesky little paws rummage around under her fur. Poor sweetheart. You really have no idea what's coming.

And our Christmas tree, Sprucie, a fragrant, pretty spruce with even branches and a nice, dark green colour. We picked her out last weekend. I knew she would start to shed her needles early, being a spruce she can't help it in the warmth of the living room. And since Peter and I will be in different parts of the country come Christmas, we needed her now, so we could have some Christmas cosiness together. We ought to have gotten a silver fir, because they stay fresh for weeks. But I let Sprucie come anyway, because Peter had already said out loud that she was good-looking. You don't lead a Christmas tree on like that and then dash her hopes. You just don't.

So now she's there in the corner, all decked out in red and gold, and click by tiny, whispered click, the needles are gathering on the presents and teddy bears I put underneath her. That's okay, Sprucie. We like you anyway and won't throw you out.

(Please don't tell her about January.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The floating family

From my favourite spot in my favourite Oslo coffee shop, I can look across the street at a building that contains a nice little deli called Hotel Havana and several apartments. I usually sit down with my caramel latte at about five o'clock, and by then, three of the windows on the second floor are always lit.

I can't see the interior of the rooms, just the lighting, which is bright, but the good, glowing sort of bright, not the glaring kind that brings our all the shadows, lines and worries out on your face. And sometimes the little family that lives there floats by the windows like actors on a stage.

The family cast is:
1. Man, usually wearing checkered shirts,
2. Woman, often clad in house dresses and with her hair swept up in a soft, dishevelled bun,
3. Baby, mostly seen held aloft by either Man or Woman, as if they were teaching it to add to its perfection by taking flight.

They always look so serenely, softly, reassuringly happy. They smile and play and speak to one another of things that I'm sure are all blissful from the unconcerned, relaxed tilt of their heads.

Today they were dancing: Man holding Woman and Baby, Woman holding Baby and Man, all three of them twirling slowly together.

Now, I couldn't see their toes, of course. But I wouldn't be surprised if they touched the floorboards not at all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cold, cold, cold!

It's really freezing outside, minus six degrees. Not that I'm complaining! This is what December is supposed to be like: frost and snow, and Christmas presents hidden in the closet, and a roaring fire behind the three stars on our wood stove, and a sweet little cat that wants to snuggle close to me to steal my body heat.

Even Kristiansund is cold these days, which gives me hope that we might have a white Christmas, for the first time in four years, I think. And if winter is pretty here in Oslo, it is beautiful on the west coast, with snow softening up the darkness of the mountains and melting into the teal blue fjords.

I can tell you, now, about the mysterious thing I received in the mail: It was a great cd with Christmas music that Camilla had compiled, everything from Just like Christmas with Low (new favourite) to Here comes Santa Claus with Elvis. I love it and have already played it many, many times. Thanks, sweetie!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

At least there was no time vortex

This afternoon, Lin, Stian and I visited a local designers' holiday market across the river. I was looking around for some tiny, but pretty Christmas gifts (and bought some, too, for two of my readers here, in fact), when I found the most beautiful pieces of art.

They were small photographs printed on 15x15 cm canvas and treated with some colouring agent that lent a crackled texture as well as an aging or blurring effect to the images, making them look like weathered photos from the sixties.

I immediately loved them.

Moments later, the artist told me where she had taken them, and I realized they were mostly motives I had seen many, many times before. I had forgotten them the way we do things we daily sweep our eyes across while hurrying somewhere, but had nevertheless stored them somewhere in my memory layers: A deer statue near the city hall in Trondheim, a lead glass window on the Nidarosdom Cathedral, a high rise building on Youngstorget in Oslo.

And the motives I hadn't seen before were still familiar. There was a pink candy coloured ferry, a whiff of lye and brine and childhood journeys. There was a cool blue view of the Oslo fjord, a promise of summers at Kjørbo.

They cost too much to buy, of course, and I steeled myself to move on. But then I remembered that Pan's sister had given us money to buy art as a wedding present. I called Pan and he just said 'get them, get them.'.

So I did! Nine! Nine subconscious, blurry images of past, present and soon. They will hang three by three on the wall across from my Cuban loot, answering, if not shouting down the lewd Havana reds.

Just before I left, I glanced at the list the artist kept of the images she had sold that day. One of them was the one above, which I later found on her website. It's my spire. Unbeliveable. And unbelievable that I missed it. They were limited edition prints, she said, but she had a few more. Only problem is that it costs almost thrice as much outside the market.

Maybe the spire piece can't be mine since the thought of it has not yet sunk down into my memory layers. Maybe there would be a time paradox that would cause a time vortex and the end of the world if I saw the same sight on my living room wall as outside my window. Maybe I just wasn't supposed to get it today.

Maybe. But at least I know what I will get to reward myself if I ever sell my book.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A good day

* I've written 600 not-awful words. It's hard to move past points of despair in the story. It's as if Lin and Gwen's disappointment seep into me, even if I know what's going to happen next. But today I did it, by means of retrospect and turbulence.

* I got a wonderful something in the mail, and I'll tell you about it later, so as not to spoil the surprise for others, who haven't checked their mail boxes yet.

* Pims came to snuggle this morning, creeping under the cover and purring and placing her little chin in my arm.

* Lin is coming to eat Christmassy hot rice pudding afterwards, and we're going to watch a movie. Maybe Love Actually, or The Holiday, or A Nightmare before Christmas or a Christmas Carol or A Miracle on 34th Street? I'll let her decide.

* My Pan will be coming home soon, and I'll be standing under the misteltoe, hoping to be, well you know.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh, just having myself a merry little Christmas

It's here: the best time of the year. Tiny Tim and I think alike, but I won't settle for a mere day. I'll take all of December, please.

Christmas is supposed to fade a little as you grow up, to stale with the responsibilities and expenses that pile up as you move through life, until all the childhood holiday glee is gone, lost behind a stack of dishes or under a pile of wrapping paper.

But I don't always follow instructions. One year, when we were in our twenties, Lin and I discovered that we could make advent our own. We bought a cd with Christmas music, and that was it, I think. It evolved from there. Now, December is packed with newfound traditions, and I tell you, there is no shortage of glee:

We play lots of Christmas music, decorate the house with special advent stuff, watch Christmas movies, bake gingerbread houses and make candy, and have the best time in the world in the glow of candles and twinkly lights.

And we always make each other an advent calendar, with one little piece of candy or pretty thing for each of the 24 days till Christmas.

Five years ago, I decided to write Lin an advent story, just a brief chapter a day to be glued into a book with 24 pages. I filled it with pets and teddy bears and people we knew, and though I had no comprehensive plan when I started out, I somehow made the pieces come together in the end to make a real story.

It was called Line and the Snow Boy, and who knows where I would be today without it.

Grateful indeed

Thanksgiving came and went in a flurry of sprouts, birds, desserts and favourite people.

Every year, when I'm tired from the shopping and first day of cooking and still have another day of frantic trussing and peeling and mashing before me, I wonder if it really was such a good idea to marry an American.

But when the food is on the table and I have a glass of red in my hand, all that's forgotten. What a great tradition, not to mention great American.

This year, the turkey was not one of my best (but piffle, right?), but the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, bacony sprouts and chestnut stuffing played their parts nicely, as did the pumpkin pie and maple syrup cheesecake.

Now we're just waiting for the Christmas repeat.

(And props to brother for the enthusiasm).

This year's best bonus: Mum, who peeled all the potatoes and really ought to just move in.