Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Book hangover" - a literary conversation with Little Possum

Little Possum and  I had a big discussion about books yesterday. She informed me there is such a thing as a book hangover: "You know when you are reading a really great book and it finishes and you are really upset that it's finished". Yes, LP, I know that feeling!

What makes a book great?
"Well, when you read it it's like you are living it, and you want to read it over and over again. Other books are like 'yeah, that was nice, what shall I read next?'.

I told Little Possum that people who do not read live one life, and people who read live many lives. She had to ponder it for a minute, and then the lightbulb went on, and she understood it is about all the adventures you can have in your imagination when you read a really good book. It was as she said - you are living the book.

I'm so glad she has discovered the joy of reading!

Her current read:
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull - for the 2nd time.

Next read:
The Hobbit
and then Lord of the Rings.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A taxing history

So..... I always wonder how long I need to hang on to tax documents, receipts etc. I can't imagine that I will ever earn enough to gain the attention of the inland revenue/tax department and for them to audit me. But just in case.... I will hang on to the $2 receipt from buying a pink ribbon as well as my income statement. You just never know.....

It runs in the family, this need for saving documents just in case.
Just look here..... my gggg-grandfather's tax receipt book starting 226 yrs ago:

 And then his son's, my 3g grandfather, Peder Berg's tax receipt book:

My gg grandfather's brother, Edward Laache contributed greatly to the document files,
here is his tax bill:

Along with the tax documentation I also found a treasure trove of receipts that has given me a little insight into his lifestyle like this receipt from a grocer. Edvard must have been stocking up for the Christmas celebrations and it is a rather extensive list of alcohol. I wonder what he would make of my teetotalling ways?

A couple of decades later he appears to have been hospitalised at Oslo's "Rikshospital" for 152 days and had to pay a princely sum for his stay and his bandages:

I bet my ancestors never thought of their paperwork being studied and treasured by their descendants! I am fascinated that these receipts have been passed down through the generations and I feel a little like the curator of my family's history. There must be a way to keep these old documents in order to preserve them still, I have yet to decide how.

 It does make me wonder about what I might leave behind and what my descendants will make of me from what they find. Will they find my receipts from Woolworths or Costco exciting? Will they marvel at our large consumption of Nutella and Jarlsberg cheese?

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Little Possum waited patiently for the first Monday in December when we have our special FHE (family night) putting up Christmas decorations. This week the wait was finally over and LP went to work on the tree. 

There are some things I will never get used to about having an Aussie/southern hemisphere Christmas like the obvious lack of snow.... but, at the top of the list I will put the lack of a "proper" pine or spruce Christmas tree. We have a fake tree, but on a positive note at least it doesn't drop needles! I do miss the smell of pine though. Incidentally, for my first ever Christmas spent in a tropical climate (decades ago during my exchange student year in Thailand) my very thoughtful friend Andrea sent me a few sprigs of spruce wrapped in aluminium foil. I closed my eyes and sniffed deeply, drawing in the wonderful fresh scent that transported me thousands of miles home to Norway in my mind. These days I have to go to IKEA for my fix of pine smell... and then eat meatballs in the restaurant. It's not all bad.

What I love most about our Christmas tree is the random collection of ornaments. We add to the collection every year, the children get one ornament each that they will one day take away with them when they leave home. Then there are the ornaments that are made along with the ones we have inherited. 

Each ornament holds a memory like 'Edward' here. He and his friends Thomas, Percy, James and Gordon are all on the tree. They were bought when Doodlebug and Turtle were little and firm Thomas The Tank Engine fans. The train ornaments would disappear off the tree regularly to be played with.

One of my mother's ornaments (the 'nisse' girl) hangs next to my Scrabble ornament... made in The Year of Scrabble Ornaments a few years back (Gotta love Pinterest!). Every member of the extended family received an ornament with their name which doubled as a gift tag on their respective presents.... I loved how it looked.

There are several 'nisser' from Norway sent to me from dear friends who wanted to send me a little bit of Norwegian Christmas knowing how homesick I get every year. This one hangs next to the heart I made a couple of years ago from a microwavable kind of clay. (The Year of Clay Gift Tags/Ornaments)

The production was going really well until I forgot to put the required cup of water in the microwave with a clay decoration, and it overheated resulting in stinky smoke/toxic fumes. Hydrochloric acid I seem to remember.... 
Stank out the kitchen and made my lungs burn.

I laugh about it now. 
And, I really like my stamped heart.