Monday, 20 February 2017

The magical and the mystifying

Having regressed to the end of month catch up post schedule, I've been missing out on writing about some of the little things that have been happening in life. Books for instance. I can't remember writing about a book since Shantaram, and that one got a mention mainly because of the pain it caused me to drag myself to the end :). 

(OK, so I checked, and books seem to be something I have been writing about regularly enough :) oh well.)

Last month however, I read a very different sort of a book. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was one of those, hey, this is a new book none of us have read sort of a pick at the book club :). So I dutifully got a copy and found the green pages and the hole in the front cover of the paper back version a touch odd, but the blurb in the back seemed harmless enough.

I think it was at the clockwork octopus that I really got into it :).

It was an odd sort of a book in the end. Varying pace throwing me off sometimes while reeling me in at others. A story that was very happy treading the line between just your usual fiction and wild fantasy. Characters that seemed to form slowly out of shadows and smoke.

But then the ending happened. To say it was a bit of a let down would be to miss the point. Which was that I felt this story had so much potential :). It's like watching someone play an amazing knock against a proper bowling attack and then throw it all away five away from a century. It doesn't qualify as a bad inning, of course, but you are left wanting.

And then there was the book we read this month. So we rotate the person proposing the books every month at our book club. (Which, seeing as it has dwindled from a pretty solid 10 down to 3 members since I joined three and a bit years ago, is more of a - let's hang out once a month and if we've managed to read the book we were supposed to in the mean time, all the better - sort of a thing. So the rules are pretty relaxed :). ) I only mention this to deflect any judgement about the choice of book, i.e. left to my own devices I wouldn't get anywhere close to The Woman and The Ape

I suppose every now and then it's good to explore a bit outside one's comfort zone. Otherwise I'd never end up reading anything other than sci-fi or Gaiman :). But this was one of those times where I somewhat acutely felt that life is probably too short to be reading books that baffle you. And yet. 

I managed to finish reading it in record time. (Being cooped up at home with a cold might have helped with that, but still.) There's a weird sense of morbid curiosity that kept me turning the pages. Until at the very end even that gave way to leave me wanting to forget the pomposity of it all.

So why am I writing about this at length? I suppose as a warning :). And also felt like posting something that didn't sound like a recap for a change :D.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Memories, like fingerprints

This has to be the least work I've done in the first month of the year since moving to an office job :). The fantastic Christmas - New Year holidays ended on the 1st with a nice drive back to Asker, and barely ten days later, off we were on a trip to India!! And now that I'm back, it seems to have all passed in a bit of a daze!

And it wasn't just any India trip. This one had a definite greatest hits album sort of vibe to it :). For one thing I hadn't been back in the winter for a while, and the clear blue skies (without skin melting heat) that greeted us on every single day for two weeks were a great start. :)

Old places I hadn't made the time to visit in many years were visited. The school for instance, where I hadn't been for almost ten years. And the first place I grew up, which I hadn't seen in maybe twenty. (It's a bit crazy to think I have clear, consistent memories of places, people and events that have happened over two decades ago. I mean, it's not unusual to expect this once you're in your thirties. I know this. But it is a bit unreal to sort of face that fact.)

There's nothing like a trip to old neighbourhoods to make you think back on things that had hidden themselves in the back of your mind. Not big things necessarily, just details. Little things that used to pack themselves densely and gave life a sense of solidity. It's a bit like all those things you never think of saying when you are describing something to someone who wasn't there. You don't even realise you are leaving things out, but invariably you are. 

Sometimes you just have to go back and take a look. And although much may have changed, the bits that remain are enough to remember just what the sunshine felt like on a winter morning long long ago as you stood in that same spot.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Many skis and a snowboard

Posting from the phone has never been my favourite thing, but one must make an exception when it comes to the end of year post :-). And especially this year, when much has happened!

Looking back at new year's eve last year, there was the beautiful snowy weekend with friends in the hills north of Lillehammer! From then on there's been a lot of travel, and I'm extremely happy to say, none of it was for work! :-)

There was that period of a month or two early in the year when I couldn't travel while waiting for the permanent residence. Which brings me to another rather important thing that got sorted out this year. The permanent residence makes life a lot easier with uncertainties that abound.

But back to all the travelling! There was the May road trip around the west coast and the June one around the south coast. There were also the trips to the US, France and the Netherlands! Most of which was visiting family or travelling with family. There were also all the trips to the UK! So a healthy mix of Norway and beyond.

In the end this summer was a mix of running swimming and cycling, but not very much of either :-). The autumn kinda came and went rather quickly for a change, and then came the early winter! And for the last week of the year we decided to celebrate the festive time with family in Geilo!

There was a lot of snow soon after we arrived and since then it's been almost non stop skiing! Some cross country and a lot of downhill. But for the last couple of days it's become a bit warmer and consequently very icy. Probably for the best as a week of skiing every day can rather wear one out! Although all the active stuff has been handy in burning up all the good food that's been on offer :-).

So it's been a year of seeing places, but more of seeing people. Some familiar, many new. Life is moving forward in ways I would not have expected some time ago :-).

Listening to the wind and the constant rush of water flowing in the river just outside, it is hard not to be amazed at the world that surrounds us. I suppose it is easy to get drawn into the unhappiness and discontent being broadcast all over. But life carries on nonetheless, and happiness is in finding oneself content to look around and remember the good bits :-).

Here's hoping for another year of good surprises, things working out better than expected and remembering to cherish the small things!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A thousand words

Wow! I never actually got to those photos from the US I was planning to post! In fact, I don't think I've even managed to sort them all out and even get them pointing the right way up or stitched together where that might be possible. Yup, it has been that busy!

Best thing though! Snow!!! Yes! Snow in November! That's like the whole miserable pre-winterness slashed to bits :). In case you were wondering, snow in winter in Norway is a good thing! The darkness doesn't seem quite as dark any more and skiing plans can start getting made! To be fair, snow that comes this early is hardly usable. Ordinarily this would be true, but this time around we actually managed to get a couple of pretty decent days of cross-country skiing!

One of those was actually in the night. Without the lights switched on by the kommune, no doubt highly sceptical of the possibilities of anyone deciding to go cross country skiing on a Friday evening :). As it turned out though, the moon was out and the clouds were not! So we had quite the fantastic time in the surreal bright snow covered landscape :).

Then of course it all melted, or nearly all of it. There was enough cold to keep some of the local lakes well enough iced over to allow a particularly adventurous fisherman to walk on, drilling holes into said ice looking for fish. Yeah, people can be weird like that here :P.

The other thing worth mentioning would be the travelling I suppose. My first visit to the Netherlands! It was quite nice! Despite the slight wetness and windiness. It was like winding the season clock backwards for one long weekend! Suddenly trees had leaves, and leaves had colour! And then of course there were stroopwaffels, pancakes with bacon and ginger, cumin flavoured cheese and other such awesome things :). Well worth the flatness shock for one used to Norway! Although the train ride from Schipol did remind me a lot of train rides in West Bengal. Lots and lots of flat green fields.

My first trip to Cambridge (the English version, not the American) was, in contrast, spent mostly at the mercy of a 4 month old :). Although I should add that lately I'm not quite so terrified around human beings that are too little to actually speak!

And finally there was Funny Girl. I hadn't actually read Nick Hornby in some time! Even one of the older ones I love. (I don't think I even re-read A Long Way Down before going to watch the film when that came out, what was it? Last year? Or maybe it was the year before. Time really has been getting away from me lately!) So it was quite interesting to see that I'd almost forgotten what it was like to read him. But I suspect some significant part of it may just have been that the author himself is a rather different person now than say when he wrote Fever Pitch!

It was a more relaxed read I found. I wouldn't rate it higher than the current holders of my personal top-rated-Nick-Hornby-novel award (which currently is a toss up between Fever Pitch and A Long Way Down with About A Boy a not too distant third) but it was definitely a solid middle-of-the-pack :). I particularly enjoyed the very end, having been rather let down on my second or third read of A Long Way Down when I though my copy must be missing a few chapters only to realize that my head had written in quite a bit of story after the actual ending in the book!

So there we have it. Autumn has firmly turned into winter and this year seems to be, if anything, hurtling even faster towards the end! But what a happening year it has been :). I'm not even going to pretend this time that the photos that should go with this post will appear within any reasonable sort of time-frame :D.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Wanderings and wonderings

This month I've actually been meaning to post before the month runs out :). Several blog-worthy things seem to have been happening, books, travels, weather weirdness. Nonetheless it's been a nice and busy month, and here I am posting a recap. Better late than never though!

I guess the biggest thing would be the snow! Yup! It actually snowed in October. Yes, it was also 'snow' only as long as it stayed in the air and hit the ground with the splat of raindrops :). But still! Snow! And just in time, as I'd switched to winter tyres that very day! But this was a week ago and since then it's gone slightly warmer, although not so much that you forget that winter is very close :).

Then there was the trip to the US of A. A first in almost two years, and spent in its entirety at my aunt's in Asheville. We had hoped to catch some of the famed fall colours, but as it turned out, we had showed up just a week or so too soon. Nonetheless, there were quite a few trees changing from green to yellow or red, and the weather was practically like the summer in Norway :).

We had a pretty active time actually! Seeing how there were loads of hills in the vicinity, we went climbing some of them. Mostly it was a case of driving up to within an inch of the top and then walking up some steps the rest of the way ;). Chimney rock, for instance, was a wonderful maze of wooden staircases build up the rock faces. And the views from the top were amazing!

The hurricane had left in its wake a week of brilliant sunshine and clear skies, so we made the most of it :). We even went for a more traditional hike, walking up to the top of Mount Mitchell (the tallest peak in America east of the Mississippi) all the way from the Black Mountain camping area! Another lovely day, and unlike on a similar day in Norway out in the woods, we practically had the whole trail to ourselves! The same couldn't be said of the summit though, seeing how there was a car park within a few steps of it :D.

One of the things I should of course mention was meandering along the Blue Ridge Parkway! On our first trip down from Boston to Asheville, my cousin and I had taken the northern part of the Parkway and enjoyed the slow winding road very much! So it was quite nice to see that the southern end of it is no less picturesque!

Another thing that's worth talking about is the return to Gaiman, but with new books :). I managed to get a copy of The View from the Cheap Seats a little while ago, and decided that would be a nice book to take along on the trip. It's a series of articles etc, some of which I had read previously. It is an amazing thing to read one of your favourite authors describing his feelings about books that you know rather well (and feel strongly about!!)!

So of course, the next logical thing to do was to go find a few of the Gaiman books that I didn't have, or hadn't read before. I decided The Graveyard Book would be first to read :). And it was perfect! What better way to end a holiday!

I realise that I should acquire a book case. The table in my living room that the TV sits on is beginning to look rather overgrown...