Nails – my new style

Gorgeous nails from Karoline at Nationail Photographic

I have a friend, Karoline, who has the most awesome nail-blog I’ve ever come across. (now, I haven’t really been out looking for nail-blogs to contradict my statement, but, I mean, look at it!) She has a collection of polishes that exceeds her shoe collection – and that is something!

Karoline fixed my nails for my graduation, and did a wonderful job. I had a pretty pink colour as base, and a flourish stamp on top in a paler pink. Something similar to this:

As fascinated as I am over her skills and devotion to her interest, I am far from a nail person myself. Which apparently became obvious to Karoline as she did my nails: I was the first ‘customer’ not to be transfixed with her technique as she added one layer of polish after the other onto my nails.

I loved having my nails done. The nails looked gorgeous, but as I said I’m not much of a nail person. There’s the smell, both of the polish itself and the polish remover, and the smell lingers, which actually made me feel slightly intoxicated during my first night with polished nails. My fingers feel different with the polish on, which I know is just something you get used to, but I didn’t dare touch anything for the first couple of days. After a few days though I couldn’t do it anymore, and I forgot everything Karoline had said about wearing gloves while doing the dishes, and similar good advice to make the polish last. I am sorry to say that the beautiful pink colour was flaking pretty soon.

Anyhow, as I was working in my herb garden here the other day, I thought of Karoline. I don’t like wearing gloves unless I need to to prevent cold from biting of my fingertips, or heat from blistering my palms. While working in the garden, washing, doing dishes, or similar activities I can’t stand wearing gloves. I have running, hot water at several locations in my house, at these locations you are also likely to come across soap of some sort. There’s no need for gloves.

I took a picture, Karoline-style, to show off my new colour. I’d like to call it ‘dirt brown’. Notice how it doesn’t only cover my nails, but it’s also to be found underneath my nails and stretching up to cover most of my hand.

Rainy summer days

I haven’t been all that lucky regarding the weather this summer. Well, Denmark loved us (Son and me), but soon as my degree was completed (my uni degree that is) we were in the doghouse. The weather turned the minute I got the results for my thesis, guess Danish weather gods prefer students to graduates. And thinking we left because of the weather, the Danish weather gods were so sincerely pissed of they actually flooded the city of Copenhagen as soon as we’d left. (I’m sorry about that one Danes, next time we’ll make sure the gods know we leave for reasons other than their petty behaviour).

We haven’t always had rain, the weather has been ok, very ok, almost too ok. Not too much rain, but not at all that sunny either. I’ve been outside enough though to get a few freckles. Actually, enough freckles for them now to resemble a bit of a tan. I don’t say this to complain. I really don’t mind. I’ve bought so much tea while away (I’ll get back to those in some later posts) and now I have plenty reason to cuddle up on the sofa with a huge cup of tea and a good book. But if you do have tropical summer days where you can run barefoot in the grass, swim in the ocean and sit outside at night until mosquitos devour you, then please enjoy that a little extra for me. And I’ll have a sip of tea for you 🙂

Wawel Castle and Polish weather

I’m not at all generalising when I say that the sun doesn’t shine often in Cracow. I have been to Cracow once, I stayed for four days, and I, of course, thoroughly studied the weather while in the city. Just like in Switzerland, where I have been twice, and stayed for several hours each time, the sun never makes an appearance. At least not a proper appearance. The pictures taken from the balcony of our hotel room, showing Wawel Castle, show the variation we saw in the weather, and also the lack of sun. This is how it was when we first arrived.

Shortly after our arrival dark clouds rolled over the city, darkening the sky. The castle immediately took on a more somber expression:

There was lightning and thunder coming closer, rolling over the city before again disappearing into the horizon. Then the water sluiced from the following deep grey sky.

It didn’t rain much during our few days in the city, but the sun was timid and hid behind a clouded sky. The first of the photos here well represents the weather we saw.

On our last evening, after hearing about the horrible events in Norway, I took this picture of the castle. I was sitting in the window sill (nothing like this one) trying to sort out my thoughts, which of course was an impossible task at the time. However, after the sun set and it grew dark, the castle was lit up from all possible angles, and I was at least distracted from my thoughts long enough to get my camera out and take this splendid view home with me.

Cracow and the ice-cream curse

Husband and I had a wonderful few days all to ourselves in Cracow, Poland. One of the days there we spent some time exploring the Wawel Castle. The castle was beautiful and all that, the buildings were magnificent and yadda, yadda. But, the place holds an ice-cream curse! Not a single sign said anything about this, neither did I find any information about this online before leaving. So now, I’m informing you, just in case you ever find yourself in this royal castle craving an ice-cream.

When in Rome you eat the same ice-cream they eat. That philosophy rarely gets me in trouble, but of course there is the occasional mishap. Husband and I bought an ice-cream each. He chose something safe, international brand, well known from paths travelled earlier. Me, oh no, I’m the tough one. I found something that looked cool, with a name I’ll never be able to pronounce and an illustration that left a bit to imagine. The ice-cream was chocolate covered, I didn’t need more information than that. I unwrapped it with a bit of difficulty as I had the strap to my SLR wrapped around my wrist. I tasted the ice-cream and turned away from the counter. In front of me I saw this:

I needed to take a photo, obviously. I put the ice-cream in my mouth, as one does, and used both hands to steady the camera. As I press the shutter, the ice-cream breaks (!). Apparently it has a soft caramel-filled centre. Chocolate, caramel, vanilla ice-cream, and soft caramel mixes in with long hair. Luckily, sporting a bit of a cleavage I was able to avoid littering the grounds. Needless to say, I, however, did not feel all that clever.

Husband dearest felt sorry for me and bought me a new ice-cream. Chocolate covered again, as chocolate and ice-cream always make everything better. We walked through this gate:

Entered this magnificent courtyard:

We walked to the centre and gazed around. Someone cleared their throat behind me. I turned to look. And there is Ms Trunchbull, or a petite, pretty and Polish version of her, pointing at my ice-cream and then pointing at the bin. The second ice-cream too had to go.

Now, as you can see, the castle holds an ice-cream curse. You might have to be Norwegian, female and in your twenties for it to strike, but you’ve at least been warned. I have not checked other Polish castles, but I cannot guarantee that such a curse might be in effect in other magnificent building across the nation. You’ve been warned!

The answer to a terrorist attack

We discussed for a while whether we should bring Son, or if we should try to get him to bed at a reasonable time. We decided on the latter. I felt the need to attend, and felt it stronger than Husband, so I left. On my way to the bus I met our neighbour. She doesn’t speak Norwegian and was a little frustrated that she was not able to follow the news in the Norwegian newspapers and on tv. Though giving a good coverage of the event, the international media still covered it differently than the Norwegian media. We talked for a while, three bussed passed us, but I think we both felt better afterwards.

The event had already started in the city centre when I reached the bus stop. After a few minutes a man came and stood next to me. He greeted me with a a barely noticeable nod, and his mouth twitched slightly, which I read as an attempted smile. He carried a bouquet of flowers, and I asked whether the local flower shop had opened due to the events. I knew every flower shop in the city centre was sold out, and didn’t know any of the local shops to sell flowers. He gave me one stem, one stem with 5 small flowers. Clove pinks.

I texted a few friends when on the bus, hoping to be able to locate them once I reached the city centre. They texted back with their locations. I felt my stomach tighten thinking about the large crowd of people gathering. The facebook event had about 9000 attendees.  There are still discussions going whether there were accomplices on Friday. One flower broke off. I put it in my hair. I have a need to decorate and make things pretty these days. I want to celebrate life, and love. I thought about the victims. We must live our lives for them too now.

The bus stopped a few blocks away from its usual stop. I got out and started walking. The traffic was a little chaotic. I felt a little nervous crossing the street. My eyes met those of the driver who stopped to let me cross. He smiled at me. I smiled back. I walked on, I met people leaving the city centre. I removed the flower from my hair. It might offend people. Mourners rarely have flowers in their hair. I met people leaving. They all smiled and greeted people they met, me included. I didn’t know any of them. It felt a little odd. I took a deep breath, the smell of the city was different. It smelled of burning torches. My city smelled of burning torches. I turned a corner and saw a parade of people walking in the street. I looked across the small lake and saw that side as well. There was people everywhere. Every fifth person, or thereabout, carried a burning torch. Most people also carried a flower, or an entire bouquet of flowers. I joined in.

People talked. They only spoke with those next to them. The humming sound of voices filled the air. Children were quiet, but some still ran around. One small boy in front of me ran around. Every now and then he would stop and lock eyes with his father. He was not told off and continued. Small children in their trolleys were quiet.

In the first intersection I first got a proper overview of the crowd of people. The sight was overwhelming. A little later I met a friend. We hugged. We talked about the events. Talked about where we were when we first heard. Talked about how we both felt we knew more than we really wanted to know about the terrorist. But also enough to now forget about him and not give him the attention he so desperately wants. We continued around the city centre and ended the walk in front of the cathedral and at the far end of the lake from where I had joined in. People then left their flowers on the entrance of the cathedral, or threw, or gently placed, them in the lake. Candles were lit along the banks. We found a place to sit down where we also had a good view of everything. We then let it sink in. The graveness of the situation. The respect shown among these thousands of individuals. The strength of the survivors who had attended the commemoration. And the love. The incredible amount of love. I felt the tears in my eyes. A lump in my throat. And an immense pride. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined this many to show up. A people who is generally considered cold and excluding were now warm and including.

Police estimates 75-100.000 people turned up – in a city of 120.000 inhabitants.

All work and no play?

Are you working long days at the office. Sun is shining outside but you’re sitting inside watching the world go by outside? Well, consider yourself lucky. You’re not wearing this:

We came by this poor bugger in the streets of Cracow, Poland. 25 degrees celcius, high humidity and plenty of tourists. I’m glad I’m not in his shoes, or sandals that is..

Sad – in the deepest thread of my soul

I’ve been quiet for a few days. Actually more than a few days, the last post, on Saturday, was scheduled. Not only my written words have been scarce, but also the spoken words have been few. I am mourning. Mourning along with the five million people living within the political borders constituting the country of Norway.

Picture taken from aftenbladet.no

On Friday 22 July a man driven by extreme political and religious convictions murdered in cold blood 76 individuals. Another 96 are physically damaged, many still fighting for their lives, and there are also people still missing. Left is a group of people of ethnic, religious and political diversity who have had their lives turned upside down. Many have lost loved ones. Many have lost acquaintances. The rest of us, well, Nordahl Grieg said it best when he said “there are so few of is in this country that every fallen individual is a brother or a friend” (my translation).

It is an immense sorrow we all share, but thankfully this shared sorrow has helped build an overwhelming love, and a common strength. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people around me to be as warm, strong, loving and including as my neighbours have proven to be over the past days. I don’t want to use the word Norwegians, nor words such as nation or country, as these are words the man behind the attacks weighed so heavily. There are political borders which determine the boundaries of Norway, but we all know that these are abstract and only there for practical reasons, in the aftermath of this event we all stand together no matter what passports we have.

The Norwegian politicians, my friends and acquaintances on facebook, the media, and most of all the many victims from Friday have awoken in me a pride. I am truly proud to be able to call myself one of them. The messages conveyed in social media, official media, the largest newspapers, and on the radio, have been messages of love. Our Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg said after the first attack that “We will retaliate with more democracy”. These words stand in contrast to the words uttered by George W. Bush after 9/11: “We will hunt you [who are responsible for this] down”. Words that have been copied and spread among many of my friends on facebook over the past few days. Words that show our values and priorities.

There aren’t that many of us living here far north, a small country with few citizens. The support from others thus mean much to us. Allegedly, Barack Obama said on the phone to Stoltenberg that “the peaceful little country of Norway shows the world how to handle situations such as this. At the moment I’d like to rank Norway as the largest country in the world, I have never seen anything like this” (translation is again my own – and the authenticity of the quote can not be guaranteed, I have not been able to find a proper source for it.) An article from the German newspaper der Spiegel says “Even in their deepest sorrow the Norwegians don’t get hysterical. They resist the hate. It is amazing to see how politicians and the whole country reacts. They are sad to the deepest thread of their souls. They cry in dignity. But nobody swears to take revenge. Instead they want even more humanity and democracy. That is one of the most remarkable strengths of that little country”.

Yesterday I came together with a lot of people, the number is estimated to have been somewhere between 75 – 100.000, in the city centre. In a small city of 120.000 inhabitants the number of attendees is incredible. The love, respect, sorrow, and strength shared among everyone was moving, to say the least. Never before, except when marking the end of the second world war, has as many people gathered in the city centre. Every city and town in Norway had similar gatherings, and hundreds of thousand came to show their support. The Norwegian crown-prince, Haakon Magnus, commented on the happening in Oslo: “Tonight the streets are filled with love” are the words we remember from his speech.

Picture from aftenbladet.no

The love and strength, along with the liberty, equality, and fraternity of and between every individual is what we will look back on from the past days. The victims will be commemorated. Everything else, the hatred, the pain, and the man behind it all, will be stored away, not to be forgotten, but not to be given more thought or attention than necessary. The hatred and pain one man alone can reveal and cause, shall be drowned in the love we all share.