Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sex and Stravinsky

Sex and Stravinsky
By: Barbara Trapido

Outer back cover: The time is 1995, but everybody has a past. Brilliant Australian Caroline can command everyone except her own ghoulish mother, which means that things aren't easy for Josh and Zoe, her husband with Stravinsky glasses and twelve-year-old daughter. Zoe reads girls' ballet books and longs for lessons; a thing denied her until a chance encounter on a school French exchange. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, Hattie, Josh's first love, now writes girls' ballet books - that's when she can carve out the space between her husband and her crosspatch daughter. From far and wide they are all drawn together: a masquerade in which things are not always what the seem.

I quite liked this book.

The book is about two families and all the ways they are intertwined and has been for over 20 years.

Each chapter is about a different person in one of the families. It can get a bit confusing at tims because of all the names and that they jump back and forth in time a lot. Each chapter is also very long. But at least all the questions that might pop into your head as you read gets answered by the end. In some ways the book is very predictable, but then suddenly something happens that you hadn't even thought of.

The book is set mainly in Britain and Africa, but as the places weren't described in much detail or anything, it didn't really make me want to go to any of the places in the book, except for Milan, but I already want to go there.

I liked most of the characters in the book, although I wish I was like Caroline, the aussie girl that could do absolutely everything, domestic goddess and super at DIY. the teenagers in the book was a bit over the top, but so are real teenagers.

I did read the book quite quickly, and although it was quite gripping in some places, my main reason for reading it so fast was because I have now reached my goal of reading 50 books this year.



I was supposed to post this before Christmas but never got around to it. Most Norwegians, and other Scandinavians, has grown up with this folklore.

The Norwegian Fjosnisse lives on farms and looks after the animals as well as the farmer, the farmer's family and the house, he usually does this at night so that nobody sees him. He is very small, no bigger than a horse's head and by turning his red hat inside out so the grey insides is facing out, he can make himself invisible.

The Fjosnisse is easy to offend and if you do offend him, maybe by not leaving porridge out for him at Christmas, he might retaliate by doing little pranks like tying the cows tails together or something worse like kill them! So it's important to make sure you don't do anything to offend him.

Some ways of offending the Fjosnisse can be; swearing, treating the animals bad and changing the way things are done on the farm (the Fjosnisse is a traditionalist).

The Fjosnisse is not the one that brings gifts at Christmas, that's the Julenisse (Santa). Although there might be a present or two from the Fjosnisse as well, probably the years when he feels particularly happy and appreciated.

We have some years, even though we don't live on a farm any more, left porridge out for the Fjosnisse. You know, there are so many farms that has been shut down that a lot of the Fjosnisser doesn't have a place to live now but they still deserve a Christmas treat.

This is what I've grown up with to know as the Fjosnisse, apparently there are a few different versions of him out there as well. But the main thing in all of them is that he lives on farms and you'd better not piss him off.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

My Christmas

I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did!

It was really nice to go back home and see my family as well as my best friend, I will have to try and get up there and see them more often while I'm still in Norway.

In Norway, as I might have written before, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. When we get up in the morning Santa's been to fill up the stockings with sweets and put one present for each under the tree (My family usually puts the rest of the presents under later in the day).

After we've had a nice Christmas breakfast, and as long as we're not working (downside of not celebrating on the 25th I guess), we read Christmas comics and watch some TV. The Norwegian Brodcasting Corporation (NRK) every year show some Disney favourites as well as two films that I have been watching pretty much my whole life. I think I will have to get them on DVD as I missed watching them when I lived in England and Australia. I also want to get them on DVD so that when I have kids they can grow up watching it as well, no matter which country I live in.

One of the films is a Czech version of Cinderella. Cinderella gets 3 hazelnuts and in each of the hazelnuts there is an outfit; a hunting outfit, a ball gown and a wedding dress. Even though it's a rubbish film by today's standards and it's dubbed with only one man doing all the voices I just love it! I guess it's because I've been watching it probably since the year I was born. The film itself is from 1973.

The second film that's traditional to watch is "Reisen til julestjernen" (Journey to the Christmas Star). This is a Norwegian film from 1976. It's about a little princess who wants the real Christmas star on the top of the Christmas tree (we have stars not angels on our trees). Her evil uncle tells her to go out and look for it in the middle of the night and so she disappears, so does the queen, and so the king curses the Christmas star so that it disappears too! Years later some travellers come to the city and with them is a young girl, Sonja, she tells the king she will find the Christmas star again and when it appears the princess and queen will come back as well. Sonja gets some help from Santa, The evil uncle finds out that Sonja is the missing princess and tries to stop her. But all ends well in the end.

They have also made a new version of this film earlier this year, I'm not sure I want to see it, they've removed the song everyone loves in the original apparently, but then again I guess it's hard to be impartial... I at least hope that if they decide to start showing that one on TV Christmas Eve that they also keep showing the original.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

At 5pm the church bells rings Christmas in and a lot of people goes to church, we on the other hand have our dinner at 5pm. At Christmas we dress for dinner. I almost got a bit stressed this year as I was making my own dinner. In Norway Christmas dinner is often lamb or pork ribs, or both as my family has, I've never really liked either so even before I became vegetarian I usually had rice porridge for dinner. This year I made potato and leek soup, very simple but quite filling because of the potatoes. The reason I got a little stressed is because I was getting ready while cooking dinner, so I had to run into the kitchen a few times as I was getting ready to make sure I got everything I needed into the soup. I wasn't just getting dressed, I was also doing my hair, which I didn't decide to until one hour before dinner was supposed to be done.

My grandparents on my mum's side both had dinner with us this year. They get along really well with each other even though they're divorced. My sister was also celebrating at our mum's instead of our dad's this year. It was really nice to be able to spend time with everyone.

After dinner we stayed at the dinner table for a while, everyone was too full to move! That's the problem with Christmas, to much tasty food, it's hard to stop eating! When we were able to move we just moved over to the sofa while some put the dished in the dishwasher. We had a really simple dessert, after all that food I don't think it's possible to have a heavy dessert as well! It's difficult to say what we had because it's all very Norwegian, although one of the things was home-made rice pudding with strawberry sauce.

After dessert we often play boardgames, like Trivial Pursuit,  but this year because there was so many of us (in my family 6 is many) we would have had to move to do that, which nobody wanted, so instead we had a little quiz (my mum, sister and I played a board game Christmas Day instead). I read the questions and whoever answered first got a point. It was really fun, even though I was the one reading the questions I didn't know who was winning because my sister was the one writing the score down. My mum's partner won with 17 points.

We stopped the quiz at 8pm to start opening presents. It kind of varies when we open the presents depending on how old the kids are and how many presents there are but as far as I can remember it's usually always after 8pm.

I have found out that every family opens their presents differently. In some families everyone opens their present at the same time, while others might make the brother open all his presents before the sister opens all hers and the the mother and so on. I my family one person gets the presents from under the tree, usually my sister as she's the youngest, she reads the label; who it's to and from, and then gives it to that person to open while everybody watches. My sister of course gets the most as she's still fairly young, and it's really nice to see her open her present as she's so excited!

The way we open our presents of course means that it takes a while to finish all of them, which means I was really tired by the time we finished. I usually go to bed at 9pm! It was nice though, I love watching people's faces as they open their presents, not just the ones from me but other ones as well. Some people stop giving presents to their siblings or parents as they get older, they focus on the kids, nieces, nephews, grand-kids, etc instead, which is understandable, it can get quite expensive if you have a big family, but I hope I will always give to my parents and my sister, even if it's just something small, it doesn't have to be expensive, just to see the look on someone's face when they get a present they like. You can't put a price on that.

When we did finally finish with all the presents we all just sat and chatted for a bit, or played/looked at our presents before my grandparents left and the rest of us one by one went to bed.

How did you celebrate your Christmas? Do you have any special Christmas traditions?

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy holidays!

I am travelling home to Vestnes in the morning, it will be really nice to see everyone again, I've not been up there since June, I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my mum again, and to not celebrate it in the summer, that just felt wrong last year... At least I feel a tiny bit more Christmassy this year with all the snow and cold. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! Spend it with the people you love and don't forget to eat so much tasty food you won't be able to get up from the table!


Thursday, 13 December 2012

I want to leave now!

I had a meeting with the store manager last week. One of the questions he asked me was one of the worst questions I know: What are your plans for the future? Anyway, I told him that I'm planning to move back to the UK eventually.

The manager was really supportive about it. He said he didn't want me to leave but that if I decided to leave earlier than planned then I shouldn't worry about my contract or anything. I mean I still have one month's notice but I don't have to stay until I've worked for them 1 year. So of course since he was so supportive I want to go right now!

There are things to think about though. I have friends that I can stay with but I wouldn't feel comfortable staying with them without paying rent, which I of course would do, but if I don't get a job straight away I'd be spending a big chunk of my America money on rent, and I don't want to do that.

I am considering going over as an au pair again.. Just to get started. Find a family that only need someone for a few months and spend those months finding my own place and a job to start when I finish au pairing.

I might know where I want to move in England. It's a place I've never been, but it depends how things go with a certain someone, and I won't find that out until at least March, maybe later...

I don't know, I'll have to do some more planning. But at least I'm closer to my goal and I don't have to feel bad if I decide to go in a month or so.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The aliens are coming!!

What's that green light outside my window?
Oh right, it's just my Christmas lights!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

By the time you read this

By the time you read this
By: Lola Jaye

Outer back cover: This is a manual for my daughter Lois. Here are the rules:
1. You must only read each new entry on your birthday, there is one for every year until you are thirty.
2. This is a private manual between you and me.
3. No peeping at the next entry unless it's your birthday!
When Lois Bates is handed the manual, she can barely bring herself to read it as the pain of losing her dad is still so raw. Yet soon his advice is guiding her through every stage of her life - from first love and relationships to her career.
The manual can never be a substitute for having her dad back, but through his words Lois learns to start living again, and discovers that happiness is waiting round the corner...

I found this on sale in a library for 50p and I liked the title and cover. I quite enjoyed it, I wasn't sure what to expect from the title except a dead person, but as soon as I started reading I liked it.

A 12 year old girl, Lois, gets a book her dad wrote to her on his death bed 7 years earlier. The book has letters from him that she is supposed to read until she's 30. I really like the letters and advice her dad gave Lois in the book, it was the kind of advice all girls should get as they're growing up.

I liked Lois most of the time, when she she wasn't too stubborn and reminded me of myself, but my favourite character was Corey, I liked how he always knew what he wanted, right from the start.

I'm not sure whether I will keep this book or if will eventually be a bookCrossing one.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tell it to the Bees

Tell it to the Bees
By: Fiona Shaw

Outer back cover: Lydia Weekes is distraught at the break-up of her marriage. When her young son Charlie makes friends with the town's doctor, Jean Markham, her life is turned upside down.
Charlie tells his secrets to no one but the bees, but even he can't keep his mother's friendship to himself. The locals don't like things done differently. As Lydia and the doctor become closer, the rumours start to fly and threaten to shatter Charlie's world.

I actually only picked this book up because it had "Bees" in the title so that I could use it for the What's in a name challenge.

The book was very slow in the start, and through the whole book I kept mixing up Jean and Lydia so I often had to re-read things once I realized it was the other person than what I thought.

The book was okay. Once I got about halfway it started to get interesting, I wanted to find out what happened to Jean, Lydia and Charlie and how they dealt with the outside world. I found it quite realistic they way they had to "hide".

The most exciting parts of the book was the ones with Charlie's dad, Robert, especially towards the end of the book, he was a little bit scary and I never really knew what was going to happen when I read about him.

My favourite character in the book was Annie, I felt really sorry for her and would have loved to know what happened to her.

What the !!?

I was going to post some pictures for you, but apparently I have used up my storage and now have to pay if I want to post any more pictures! I tried deleting some but it still says that I'm using 100% of my storage... Anyone else having this problem? Anyone paying to post pictures on their blog?

It's only $2.49 a month and that way I get 25GB, but still, it just seems a bit silly...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sense of humour?

Even before I worked for them I have always enjoyed XXL's ads on TV.

Not this Thursday but last Thursday, the store that I work for came out with a new ad. It was only shown after 9pm and not near any family films or programmes on TV. One week later it has been taken completely off TV just because some people complained about it and found it offensive.

I can understand how people don't think it's suitable for children, even though it's all set in daylight the zombies does look quite frightening. That's why it was only on in the late evening, but I don't understand why it had to be taken off TV completely!

I love the comment one of my friends came with: "Chris is very offended. Zombies are people too."

What do you think? Do you think it was right to take it completely off TV, or was it okay to show it after 9pm?

Here are the older ads if you're interested.

Some old teacher (as in now retired) actually wrote a letter to us about the following ad , saying he wanted it off TV because it encouraged bad behaviour and hooliganism in young people. Where are people's sense of humour?


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