Wednesday, 31 December 2014

One more time with feeling!

Why is it that things only seem to appear clearly to me once I have had a couple of goes at them? What I mean is, this time around, the unsettled feeling is finally gone. The slight lost-ness with the change in work environments has also abated to a large extent. In small and not so small ways, I now feel that I belong.

This has been a spectacular year when it comes to travelling! Especially since I only stepped outside the country twice in the twelve months! Once for a short work trip, and ten months later, for this end of year break. The rest of the time, it's been one trip or visit after the other, not to mention the miles of cycling, hiking, swimming and lately even running!

I guess the winter left something to be desired, yet I managed to hone my snowboarding skills a bit. But once the snow disappeared, albeit rather prematurely, it was time for yet another summer of lots of cycling. And proper road trips!

As far as highlights go, the memories of late summer come to me in a haze of lazy evenings spent swimming in lakes around Asker. And occasionally in the fjord. But there are the two trips that really stand out! The weekend in Tromsø, when we managed to catch an unbelievable display of the northern lights, and the long week in Lofoten. There's nothing I can say in a brief line or two that can do justice to the brilliance of that trip :). I guess I've spent enough time on that anyway.

The last few months had been rather quiet on the travelling and a bit too heavy on the work stress :). But I guess these holidays were timed to perfection. Another big red American muscle car and hundreds of miles of interstates with my cousin :).

I have to say, the Camaro, newer and consequently somewhat fancier, does handle better than the Mustang we got a couple of years ago. Which is good, since the weather we had driving down to Asheville all the way from Boston was less than ideal. At times, it was downright apocalyptic! With thunderous downpours, fog and a generally constantly overcast sky overhead. But we managed the fourteen and a half hours with relative ease.

The last week has been one of lazy late mornings, afternoon strolls, the occasional run, and a lot of entertaining home cooked food :). I guess the culmination of it all will be the New Year's Eve party tonight.

And after that it's a long succession of travel back home to Asker. However, the end of my vacation is still several days away, and to not enjoy these remaining days would be criminal :). So I'll stop here, and jump back into the rather frantic preparations for dinner.

But before that, for what happens to be tenth time on this blog (!!), one last shout to this rather brilliant year, and a quick wish for the next :). Happy New Year!

Currently: busy!! :)
Listening to: Becky G - Shower (it's jumpy and happy and juvenile, deal with it!)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter wonderland

Yet another month. This time the weather has shown signs of such promise as to defy belief! Or maybe it's just that there have been so many days of dark and damp that any amount of sunshine can seem like a miracle. :) I guess it doesn't help that there aren't that many hours of daylight to start with.

When the chance did arrive, we managed to make some use of it :). There's this thing about snow. That and sunshine, the crisp cold kind that leaves most of the white while brightening things up no end. The world transforms into something quite magical.

The first few times it snowed, the temperature kept getting warm again and melting everything into mush. Eventually, the slopes opened up, and I found myself a few days with time and nothing to do! (There are good things to be said of semi-enforced vacation days. :D) So that was time to bring out the board and boots and head off to the slopes!

A proper three day weekend of snow at Hemsedal! I was happy to see I haven't lost any of the skills I'd picked up last time around. :) I actually managed three days on the slopes without any of my somewhat customary spectacular falls!! Which is not to say the experience was entirely painless, but it was mostly the nice tired aching rather than bumps and bruises from making much too abrupt contact with some hard packed snow. :D

I suppose keeping up with the running has helped with that a little. I continue to surprise myself by running at near or sub zero temperatures. I even got those spikes!! They do wonders for the snow grip! On the flip side, wearing them means rather gingerly tiptoeing over bits that don't have ice or snow, which is a bit annoying.

But now it is finally time for the proper holiday to start! Heading off to the States for what will be in fact my first holiday abroad this year!!! And the first trip outside Norway since all the way back in February! Almost a year without international travel has been quite the change from what used to be my usual travel habits. :)

While I have to say I'd definitely hit frequent flying fatigue and relished the break no end, the amount of time I had to spend thinking about packing was a bit of a shock! Eventually though, old habits kicked in and I'm all good to go! Now it's just a hop over the Atlantic, and yet another hot rod road trip awaits!

Currently: can't wait!
Listening to: Charli XCX - Boom clap

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Many lives - III

On the darkest days of winter, the stars seem the brightest. The cold air makes the eyes smart and eyesight somehow sharper, once you've wiped the tears away. Jahangir knew this. He told his grandson to watch his step as they made their way across the vast blackness that was the frozen river.

In a different lifetime his father had be called Great and his son had watched his last days drain away like the waters of the river that separated him from the tomb of his beloved. Or so they said. But here and now the sky was mightier, the people beneath it, less ignorant of their station.

The distant fires in the sky slowly turned in their cold sleep. Some even more distant ones woke up in an instant of supernova brightness to begin their journey into the farthest reaches of the universe. A universe where things weren't meant to come together, to stay, they were meant to go forth and discover.

The large cat, nigh invisible with its velvet coat the colour of midnight, bared its sabre teeth and waited for the conqueror of the world to step into a trap of ice and claws.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Wintry thoughts

A month has gone by, sometimes with difficulty, sometimes with ease, but always too quickly. The thing with life I guess is that it happens regardless of whether you are paying attention or not. And it is so hard sometimes, to take notice, so much easier to just let it flit past, barely seen.

I heard it said or read it written somewhere that you can tell when a given option is the wrong choice, simply because it seems so much easier than just about anything else. Not sure if that's something that accurately lends itself to generalization, but there's definitely some truth in it.

The weather has turned from autumn-ish and slightly moody to full-on early winter wetness. With the associated doom and gloom. But this morning, when the mists parted for a moment, I noticed that there's snow between the trees on the hillsides. It needs to get a little bit colder before the white stays though.

I've managed to keep up with the running, somewhat surprisingly. And I surprised even myself when I found myself considering getting a pair of the spiked add-ons you can get for running on ice. But then again, I'd considered that last year too.

Visibility's gotten better, in a way. Now that all the leaves have matted the ground in a rotting brown carpet, the erstwhile walls of trees have become all but see-through. The extent to which the seasons change this place continues to astound me :).

If only the sun would come out once in a while maybe things would seem brighter. Although, when I do pay attention, life is going rather well, all things considered :). So here's hoping the snow comes soon and I get to test out my re-waxed board!

Currently: clouded over
Listening to: Ramin Djawadi - Do people change?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Many lives - II

There was fire on the horizon. Not a blaze, embers. It seemed as if the edges of the night had caught fire. Maybe they had, the heat was beginning to singe the old woman as she looked on. She couldn't remember ever having seen anything prettier in her whole life!

It had been months since they had been out in the open. Not out of choice, you understand. But now the wait was finally over. As the rest of the world let the strangeness of the light entrap their attention, the two children crept from shadow to shadow, and finally melted away into the darkness. To freedom.

They'd said this might happen. But he had paid no attention. People were always predicting the end of the world, they hardly ever believed their own predictions, so why should he? There were more important things to worry about. Like the next poker night. Maybe he'd win back some of the money he'd lost last week.

Gant signalled to Kaspar 209. The planet's surface was reaching critical temperature. Soon most of the indigenous life forms would have their organic components disintegrate. It was showtime. He always loved this part.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Many lives - I

Beats drumming through his body like it was stretched taut, vibrating to every pulse.

He felt his eyes see and heard the sounds his ears funnelled to his brain from time to time. But his senses were often more misleading than not. Confusing, blurred and baffled, he mistrusted them, choosing to trust in everything most of us consider unfaithful.

The boy believed in the figments of his imagination. They had no basis in reality, and thus, never tried to mislead him. No false pretences of representing truth.

He had such imagination too! Beings and worlds, vast and varied, with stories unfolding within them, sometimes surrounding them. Ah! Such colours played through that universe, melodies of such heart wrenching tenderness.

Delirious in the throes of a fever, he lay on the corner of First and Amistad. One world, unseen and unseeing, passed by. Another, also unseen, continued its fantastic journey, unknowingly hurtling towards a spectacular end as the life that sustained it slowly ran out of sustenance.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Where is my mind?

I guess the best and the worst thing with life is that you never know what's coming. Around the next corner, through that door up ahead, beyond the next step.

It would be cynical to take the view that it is all doomed to end anyway, so why bother holding onto hope in the mean time. However, is it not supremely naive to hope that the future is filled with only fulfilled wishes? So the question remains, where does one draw the pragmatic line?

Is it possible to live life without expectation? What would that even look like? But if expectations are to be expected (heh, yeah, I know, right?!) then what should be their basis?

Yes, question upon question. And all the answers hide their faces behind more questions. That is assuming every question has an answer in the first place :).

I guess the more the burning colours of autumn desert the branches and carpet the pavements, and the closer the mercury drops to zero, the world begins to present its rather more stark countenance. It gets you thinking.

Yet, there remains the hope for a world soon to be enveloped in magic white. And the spring after :).

Currently: wondering
Listening to: The Shins - When you notice the stripes

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Swim, cycle, run

I've never really thought running was fun, so to speak. Not the way a lot some of my friends/ colleagues/ acquaintances seem to anyway. I am more the cycling for fun sort. Although when I first moved here, the fun disappeared for a while.

Given a little time though (and a little perseverance) that fun was back. You can cover a lot more distance on a bike. You can coast down slopes and hurtle along tracks at slightly inadvisable speeds. Enjoy the view as it flies past. You can count distance covered in hundreds of kilometres without too much drama really.

These are all things you can never do while running. What you can do, however, is forget everything else. Just breathe. And put one foot in front of the other. There's no need to switch gears to suit the terrain, your legs manage that on their own just fine. There's no need to worry about getting the cleat off the pedal before you stop.

And there's the rhythm. There's something very soothing about running. Even swimming for me takes a lot more thinking. Thankfully, with running, you don't need to think about it (or end up inhaling water) every time you want to change your breathing. I imagine that last bit is just a question of practice, but come on, get to and from the pool, change, shower... Deal with other people, shouting kids...

The weather these days is perfect for running too. Cold enough to freeze you if you stop, but okay while you keep moving. And as you move, you could choose to send your mind miles or years away. Or think about nothing besides the peculiar way your left foot seems to meet the ground when compared to the right. Over and over again.

In the end there is always the happy strain of trying to vacuum enough air into your lungs till things settle back down. And with any luck, the things that had dampened your spirit to start with, begin to look a little less bleak.

Currently: bored
Listening to: London Grammar - Maybe

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Explosions in the sky

In the void a star explodes. All the cold distant twinkling lights in the universe look on and wonder if they too will one day thus overpower all else, but only for the blink of an eye, and then wink out of existence.

But then. The bright, burning remnants cool, collect and gather themselves into new and wondrous shapes. The more time passes, the more things change. Maybe it spreads out into the galaxies and showers planets like ours with cosmic dust. Or maybe it creates worlds. Lives.

Maybe it's the same with thoughts, emotions, feelings. Or maybe not.

Listening to: Mogwai - I know you are but what am I?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Wonders never cease

The thing with long trips is that usually a lot happens :). Good stuff, bad stuff. Just stuff. Our trip to Lofoten was probably quite a lot more eventful than any ten days have any right to be, and filled with such awesomeness as I have rarely encountered!

From the first afternoon as we drove off the ferry onto Moskenes, to the last day as we floored it all the way from Svolvær to catch the ferry at Lødingen, one thing stays in my mind as a reminder of our trip, magical colours! There were flowers and leaves, waters, rocks and sometimes houses :). Not to mention the skies.

We'd picked up our little rented Hyundai from Bodø airport with some little trepidation, given its size (or rather lack thereof) as well as power (or rather, severe lack thereof :O). In retrospect, it did provide much entertainment during the course of the trip :). Who would have though that it would end up feeling almost at home on the narrow, often steeply rising or falling roads with blind corners everywhere! Once you got the revs right, that is :D.

We drove quite a bit, but hiked even more! Or at least it sure felt that way :). The first proper one was to Munkebu, on a beautiful sunny day. We walked along the edges of a succession of progressively higher lakes till we got to the hut, and then, quite by accident, ended up near the summit of Munken! The views were enough to have made the climb very much worthwhile. There were even blueberries on the way down :).

Towards the end of our stay in the south, there was the much shorter, but no less spectacular, hike to Reinebringen. It overlooks the town of Reine and is quite the fantastic lookout point with views all the way out to the mainland to the east as well as up along the jagged landscape of Lofoten spreading out to the north.

The day spent on the island of Værøy might not have properly qualified as a hike, given the absence of quite the verticality of the others and the presence of a tarmac road all the way to the top :P. However, it was a wonderful and very long walk :). And while we never got to see any puffins, the weather more than made up for it. As did the flowers, and the dog desperately trying (and failing) to keep up with its owner!

There were one or two other hikes, and a lot of walking around. But the one thing that has to be mentioned is our excursion to the beach at Horseide. Let me clarify at the outset that this isn't what you might call just another beach. It is the culmination of a fairly vast (by Lofoten standards) valley between some really sheer hillsides with not the slightest sign of civilization barring some distant washed up flotsam. Green, with the ribbon of a narrow river flowing through it, you would normally easily notice the deep blue of the lake half way down. You would also notice the really wide expanse of white sands, partly dotted with odd grass topped mounds, before the beach finally ends in the ocean.

When we finally made it to the top of the ridge at the farthest end of the valley from the sea, we saw none of this! On what was probably the rainiest day of the whole trip, we were already somewhat cold and damp from the hike up from Kirkefjord. And all we could see was a blanket of low clouds. The valley was a patchwork of white and grey with the occasional colour peeping through. But we figured, whatthehell, let's go for it anyway! After several hours, many many long miles, a very cold shivering lunch, a wade across the shallow end of the stream and having gotten as thoroughly soaked as it is possible for a human being to be (I had misread the forecast and decided to go hiking in jeans for a change), we were finally back on the ferry heading back to the fishermen's cabin we were staying at, still feeling somewhat amazed at quite how spectacularly things can change in just one day!

I realize I seem to have spent altogether too much time on a fairly long, miserable and technically, failed, stroll to the beach. But you see, that one day put all the others in such contrast as to have made the entire thing all that much more insanely brilliant :). Plus, I was still grinning madly at the end of the day, so there is that :D.

The days we actually spent on the islands, we stayed exclusively at these fishermen's cabins, or rørbuer. The first one on Sakrisøy was undoubtedly the one with the most character! Although the one in Ballstad comes close, for all the wrong reasons! So it was a good thing we spent the bulk of our time in the former. It even had a free row boat and everything :).

We settled into a routine of breakfast and dinner at the cabin and lunch elsewhere, be it on top of a particularly high boulder, in a cave, or some restaurant on the edge of the map. The dinners especially, resulted in some pretty awesome food adventures! At least one of which, I would have considered a disaster, but somehow all the 'food' that resulted was put away with astonishing appreciativeness. For this I shall remain eternally grateful :).

While the total distance from Å to Svolvær is just a bit over a hundred kilometres, we managed to cover several times that in getting there :). On the less than sunny days we drove just about everywhere! From wrong turns that ended up at surprising little museums (with a boat sticking out through the roof of the toilet, no less) to the Lofotr Viking Museum at Borg. From the far flung beaches at Yttresand and Uttakleiva, to the altogether more usual places like Ramberg, Nusfjord and Henningsvær. From random abrupt ends while trying to get to equally random lighthouses, to old historic remains and a very confusing head at Eggum. Past sleepy, almost abandoned little towns and through truly astonishing natural beauty. While all the time wondering if the car would make it to the top of the next hill :D.

And we went for a swim. Not at one of the nice, sheltered beaches like Ramberg. But at Uttakleiva. I mean come on! The water was cold beyond anything I have ever experienced! And even though the period of time I spent in the water may or may not count as a swim, I don't care. I officially went swimming while in Lofoten, and that's that! We could hardly have found ourselves a worse spot! As I'm sure the old couple looking on with the mildly bemused looks thought, while appropriately swaddled in many layers of warm clothing. Well, we could have tried Horseidvika I suppose, but at that point I don't think a swim would have got us much wetter.

Leverpostei and bread. Fights around puddles. Lots and lots of dried fish. And dried fish heads. Mile after mile of slippery tarmac devoured in a mad dash for a ferry. Surreal spiral currents on the water. Mile after mile of side roads driving past a never ending train of wonderful vistas. Bridges, and give-way traffic lights. Height comparisons while waiting on roadworks. Card games and stories. Fish jumping out of fish farms. Rowing on actual water for the first time in my life...

I should so have written this down sooner. It's been over a month and I am sure there is so much more that I am forgetting. As we ambled down to the end of the pier in Bodø, whiling away the last few hours before our flight back to reality, I couldn't help but wonder, how is it that sometimes everything, absolutely everything, just works out! Even when it doesn't, it somehow does :).

Currently: missing it all, all over again
Listening to: The xx - Intro

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Shadows can be so often misunderstood. Like words, sometimes they hide their true nature. Like bright colours, sometimes they distract. Like old memories, sometimes they draw you in and try to drown you. Like walls, sometimes they trap you inside while lulling you into feeling protected.

How does one dismantle bits of oneself while leaving the rest untouched? Or would that be an impossibility? Or a paradox? The world inside is such a distorted reflection of the one outside.

A chink in the armour, or a window to the prison? Which faces to keep and which faces to throw away? Ah! Choices, choices.

Feeling: stuff
Listening to: Ramin Djawadi - Behind enemy lines