Poems from my childhood

When I was aged 9-10 Mr Crimp was my teacher at school. He was an all round cool teacher. You know the ones that motivate you to learn, keep good discipline and yet a sense of fun in the class. I miss those Fielding days.

One of the things he did was every few weeks he would add a poem to our poem book and our task was to first draw appropriate art work by the inscribed poem and second to memorise the poem.

Memorising was one task I took to easily in school. Nether indoor nor outdoor pursuits of any other kind could see me shine as well. Okay I could silent read well above my spelling level but teacher till then had mostly put this down to my pretending to be able to read at above my spelling level. Mr Crimp on the other hand quizzed me on what I had read and then was satisfied I was reading.

But, I digress.

Memorising poems was they way I could publicly be seen as successful in some regard. I was a late bloomer academically and maybe it was the confidence I gained with these poems that let me attack other learning skills at a later date.

I came across one of those poems today on twitter and it brought back the memories. I “lost” my illustrated book of poems many years ago in what I will call a sibling accident. Which sibling and how accidental the scissored pages and the destruction of those said pages were, I have no idea. But lets call it that.

Back to my original theme.

The poem I was referred to by twitter was contained in an article entitled “Why we should memorize Poetry” by Brad Leithauser, in the New Yorker. It was:

A drawing of an Eagle from the Smithsonian
The Eagle

The Eagle

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.


The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.



It made me want to recreate that book, at least in spirit. I remember some of the poems well even now, but some have become hidden in the background of my memory, like the eagle. Once I had the first line most of the rest of it flowed back to me, bright and pure as first I learnt it and rich with the feeling of an old friend rediscovered.So here is my reconstructed book of poems and my thanks to Mr Crimp.

The first poem in the book has never left me. You always remember your first. But who wrote it is long forgotten, remembering names has never been my strong suit. I even forgot my own once, but that is another story. If you know the author, please let me know.

PoplarTree drawing


The Poplar Tree


If I were a tall tree,

I know what I would be.

I’d be a poplar growing high,

I’d grow so high I’d touch the sky.

I’d grow and grow and grow,

And wobble to and fro.

And how surprised a cloud would be,

To bump into a poplar tree.







Continue reading “Poems from my childhood”

Getting Arty 2

I have been trying to get my creative juices going of late and produced some art works. Some of which it is obvious I am learning new skills and the piece needs work still. Others that I am quite pleased with.

I am happy to be learning new skills and I am happy to share my better pieces with the world. So I have added them to various sites on the net. The latest is Red Bubble.

Getting Arty

I have been exploring my creative side of late and trying to increase those skills and skills with programs to assit that creativity. I have been trying both photography and making my own art from scratch.

To get some feedback and possibly some money I put some of these up on sites on the internet.

The first place I thought about was Threadless, I have bought Tees from there for a few years now and enjoy rating other peoples art when I need a wind down type task at the end of the day or when I am sick. However, I discovered they have a “daughter” site called Society6, where the art is put on prints, hone cases and skins, cards and laptop skins. So I tried that out and have found it fun. I have even sold a whopping 3 phone cases, retirement here I come, LOL.

More recently I found Behance which looks good but I am still trying that out. Most recently I have discovered Fine Arts America, which by no means is a site for Americans only. It has artists from all over the world. I like it’s format of uploading pictures better than Society6, but you are limited to 25 pieces of art on a free account. Today a paid account is $30 a year, which does not seem steep to me if you sell stuff on there. I have reached my limit there and it’s too early to tell if it’s a good place for me to sell art. However what I also like about the place is the feedback I have been receiving.

Society6 is a very supportive place to post art to. Any comment I have ever received has been positive, so it seems if people there so not like your work they do not vote it up and they do not comment. This is a nice way to start putting your art out into the world as you are gently supported. However most of the comments are general and do not say what is working. Whereas on Fine Arts America, while the comments are still in the positive (so far) they are more specifically tailored to the piece itself, which I find useful.

Art Prints


The whole site feels very professional, it has groups dedicated to different artistic visions and styles and you only need to upload one file to the site and it handles putting that on a range of mediums from cards to metal prints and canvas prints, it even allows you to sell original artwork if you wish.

The beauty of Behance on the other hand is its a well recognised name and it allows you to direct people to your art where ever you are selling it or just to post pictures of you work to build your artistic portfolio as a designer, architect or artist. So it is not a sell only website.

I am having fun connecting to my creative side, if you have any suggestions on where to sell art please leave a comment.

The science of sleep – Depression and the 24 hour mind

I am subscribed to Brain Pickings as it has interesting short articles on literature, quotes, science etc. Today I read one of their articles on sleep and depression. How depressed people have a different sleep cycle to the norm, and how this effects them. The article was based on infrmation from the book The twenty-four hour mind: The role of sleep and dreaming on our emotional lives by Rosalind D. Cartwright. A good excerpt of the book is on google docs, the book is for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Better World BooksBokkliden, eBooks, FishPond, and many more.

I have not read the book but I plan to as it sounds facinating. I read Dream Power by Dr Ann Faraday, when I was a young teenager and have been facinated by sleep and dreams ever since. Dream Power tells you scientifically how to interpret your dreams. This new book will update that old knowledge I have from Ann as lots will have happened in teh field since I was a teenager. I look forward to reading how different sleep and dream patterns effect our daily lives and maybe learn how I can sleep better and be healthier and more focused in daily life from having refreshing sleep.

Can human activity cause an earthquake? … Short answer is surprisingly yes.

My twitter feed enticed me with the line “Human activity triggered fatal Spanish #earthquake” I had to read the article.

To summarise the article:

There was a fault line which had pressure built up in it. In other words there was going to be an earth quake or more likely many small earthquakes slowly releasing pressure. The Lorca earthquake on 11 May 2011 was unusually shallow and was one large quake. Shallow quakes cause more damage than deep quakes.

If you or your partner have had a baby born after induction, you know that the labour is quicker than a natural birth. The pains come quicker and harder. Well with humans draining large amounts of ground water for irrigation, this worked a little like inducing a baby. The earthquake cam quicker and more violent than if it had occurred naturally. That meant more loss of life and injuries on top of more damage of homes and buildings.

The only upside to the whole thing is that seismologists gained information which might help assess the potential for triggering such earthquakes in future so we do not trigger worse earthquakes than would occur naturally, and maybe in the distant future we may even learn how to trigger small, deep earthquakes to release pressure even slower than nature does and prevent disasters. We can only hope.

Natural ways to increase serotnin in your brain

Depression and other ailments have been treated by artificially raising serotonin in the brain ie by using drugs. However, latest research shows that there are a number of alternate methods for doing the same thing.

The first way is commonly used for SAD (seasonal depression) but is now being used for other forms of depression as well. Bright light, raises the serotonin in the brain and the sun is the best source of bright light. Until recent times we humans were outside, hunting or farming for a great deal of the time and this is thought to have contributed to the lower rates of depression in these times.

Another natural agent which raises serotonin has been found to be exercise. This is especially so when you exercise to the stage of fatigue. So I am guessing a good brisk walk on a hilly path would be better than a light stroll around the shops.

Tryptophan also seems to increase the brains level of serotonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid and is found naturally in a number of protein foods. Not all foods provide tryptophan that makes it to the brain however and there is thought that certain foods should be bred to provide more. In other words we should not so much think of making lots of food but growing healthier food.

The research even suggests that we have inately choosen varieties of food or cooking methods in the past that increase the available tryptophan. For example wild chick peas have less available tryptophan than cultivated varieties. Corn in South america was cooked wth an alkalai which enable more tryptophan to be absorbed by the brain, but this practice did not follow corn as it moved out of south america.

The research suggests that we should spend more time looking at natural solutions rather than pharmacueical solutions and we could have a happier healthier population.


Original source: How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs by Simon N. Young

Typical Norwegian Foods

I have been in Norway over 2 years now, and rightly or wrongly I think I have a feel for what typical Norwegian food is.

I discovered this by looking through a Norwegian recipe site (Mat Prat – Food Talk) for dinner ideas. I was struck that a fair few foods were familars now. So I am going would share these dishes with you, which form the basis of my Norwegian food vocabulary.

Main Meals

Lompe or long bread rolls are the accompliment to fried sausages, served with mustard, tomato sauce and onions. Lompe are potato based pancake shaped flat bread. As with most potato bread it is delicous, soft and moist. I enjoy eating finger foods so this is on my list of great things to eat. You can even get a gluten free version in grocery stores. The google translated english lompe recipe is spot on.

There is also a thicker sausage formed in a hourseshoe shape (like a black pudding in NZ). They come plain and  smoked and are served with my favourite surkål as well as boiled potatoes and carrots with mustard as the condiment. This is one of my favourite meals in winter.

MatPrat has an article (in Norwegian), called sausage facts (Fakta of Pølsevev) says that Norwegian sausages are some of the best in the world, most it says are 50% good meat and will not have more than 20% fat (down to3% being available). Other ingredients can include milk, starch, salt and spices.

Karbonader med lok (Meat pattie with onion) is a good meal I can get when going to my in-laws, and is commonly avaialble in my works cafeteria. I love the way my father-in-law cooks the onions.

A good comfort food for a cold day is Lapskaus (translated Lapkaus recipe).Use stewing beef, lamb, pork or a mixture for a hearty warming stew. I really have to get my mother-in-law, to teach me how to make this as I love her recipe. It’s the first thing I ate at my in-law’s place in Norway. Yum!

Lapskaus is served traditionally with flatbrød (Norwegian flat bread). Flat bread is a surprisingly tasty thin crispy bread, almost a large flat cracker. You break a sheet into pieces and spread with butter. We usually buy the store bought one – Mors Flatbrød.

I also really like fårikål (english translated recipe). Although I have only ever eaten a TV dinner style type. But it reminds me of NZ Corned beef boil up. Corned beef on this side of the world is thought of as the stuff in a can but in NZ the one used for boil up is a piece of beef which is submerged in salted water to “corn” it. It make a great meat for boiling with cabbage, carrots, potatoes and parsnips. Fårikål is lamb boiled with cabbage, so while it is different it is the same preparation I think that make me associate the two with each other.

Waffles, yum. Back home pancakes and pikelets are more the norm, even the neighbouring Swedes say norwegians eat more waffles than they. We had them at work evry Friday. If you buy a main meal you got to make a waffle on the waffle iron, cooked to your preferred crispness and accompanied by jam and sour cream. Mat Prats vafler (waffle) recipes are many, punctuating how popular they are here. We normally buy a Toro packet mix.

Either way its useful to know a Norwegian measure of fluids the decilitre or dl. One decilitre is a tenth of a litre (100 ml) so there are ten decilitres in a litre. 4 dl = 400 ml.

Light Meals

You can serve waffles with jam alone, jam and sour cream, or with brown cheese. Jarle eats his with bacon, maple syrup and a side salad, but I have a feeling that is not common practice. I eat mine kiwi styles with maple syrup, bacon and banana or berries.

My favourite jam recipe I got from my mother-in.law. It goes like this, pick some berries, sprinkle them with sugar and mash gently with a fork, leave to sit for a little and then use. Most of the jams (syltetøy) here are loser than back home and have less sugar so are fresher and taste more I find. Still her recipe is the best if you have fresh berries.


Desserts are usually simple affairs here, one of my favourites is Karamel pudding (caramel pudding). We usually serve with whipped cream, caramel sauce and dark chocolate pieces. Dark chocolate here can be bought in thin sheets which breaks easily into pieces. Back in NZ I think to recreate this for anyone I would coarsely grate the dark chocolate.

Chocolate pudding and vanilla sauce is also a favourite. We get it pre-made or for a real treat get the packet mix and make it yourself. Making it yourself involves adding milk and the packet mix to a pot and cooking till it just boils then cooling for a couple of hours. Vanilla sauce can be bought pre-made or also made from a packet, and making this is just adding it to milk and mixing. Although the packet also suggests making it up with half milk and half cream to make vanilla cream. Vanilla cream can be used as a cake filling eg between layers of sponge, which sounds good to me.

Rips (red currents) are something I will always associate with Norway. I love berries and I love tartness and rips are both. Here is a recipe for a dessert using rips, but their uses are multitude, including use with meat and savoury sauces. Rips med vaniljesaus (Red currents with vannila sauce).

Want something for a cold winters morning that will stick to your ribs, then Rømmegrøt (Sour cream porrige)  is the dish for you. This heavy rich dish is often served with cold cuts I am told but I have only ever tried it alone, that is with sugar and cinnamon. After trying it at a food fair I tried to make it at home and found it magical how the sour cream on cooking turns into butter. They even have a special high fat sour cream here that is used to make it. Ordinary sour cream will work but I am not so sure about low fat sour cream. Low fat would make a tasty porrige I am sure but not sure it would make the butter. I have tried making it also with whole wheat flour and with semolina and while it’s not traditional I say semolina is my favourite.

I am told “tradditional” food also includes Le Grandiosa, a pizza. I havent covered Special occasion foods like Christmas or birthdays, as I tried more to cover every day foods.


Emergency Services Open Day – Nittedal Brannvesenet

Yesterday all round Norway Fire Stations opened their doors to the public, and we were among the many who went along. We turned up at the Nittedal Brannvesenet along with many others. I would guess at least half the attendees were there with their children. The day consisted of displays, and demonstrations.

We were greeted as we walked from the parking lot with the traditional red Fire Vehicles. As we got nearer and rounded the corner we saw the more recent yellow vehicles now being implemented for all emergency vehicles. Yellow is more visible for more of the day than any other colour, hence it’s choice now for the emergency vehicles.

A part of me thinks I should be mourning the loss of the colours I grew up with, but the common sense of the change is overriding that instinct.

The day was clearly enjoyed most by the children, and next most by those accompanying the children. Nothing like a child to drag you into an ambulance and make you feel comfortable playing acting in there and asking the emergency worker inside questions.

As we arrived there were two clearly popular attractions judging by the lines. The holding and directing a fire-hose, with the assistance of a fireman and the food.

I wandered round a bit and listened to the Red Cross teach folks how to give CPR. They had the CPR dummies people could practice on from baby, through child to adult size. Was interesting hearing something I knew well being told in Norwegian. They were also advertising their services to new immigrants and asking for people to sign up and help those new to the country find their way round the community etc. Thirdly they were asking for folks to donate blood.

The Red Cross took up quite a bit of real estate at the open day with not only the tent where they promoted the three messages but with a trailer packed out with emergency gear for a portable emergency response centre and some quad bikes which looked like they were for pulling the trailer.

Firemen gave out hats to every child who wanted one. I managed to knock the hat off one little girl. As she was being walked away by her father, I picked it up and ran and gave it to her and was rewarded with a big smile. Latter her little sister lost her hat too as I was walking towards them so I was able to give her her hat back as well.

The hats seemed to be a popular item with kids prizing them. They said on the front “Home Fire Chief” in Norwegian of course. And the brim had flames drawn on one side.

There were a number of displays. One that interested me was a table full of things that had caused fires and were now blackened or melted lumps. Each table had a table number attached to it and a multi choice question. I think the questions were for the kids and they could win prizes, maybe the reflective stickers I saw some kids with?

Strangely not everything the kids loved about the day were safety or emergency related. Just up the path from the fire-station was a field of horses. Parents and children went to visit and feed the horses grass. There were some pretty horses there, one was my dream horse when I was a teen.

Then came the fire  demonstrations and everyone’s interest peaked up.

We were all herded to the right of the fire engines and behind a line made by plastic tape strung between two poles. Obviously what they use a scenes like crime scene tape police use.  A fireman talked to us explaining each demonstration.

First was a water blaster that was aimed at a free standing door. The water knocked over the door and it’s stand like was a house of cards. They then braced the door and the water punched out all the windows quick as a wink. Then they aimed the water at the wood of the door and punched holes clean through it.

Just to show what it really could do they then aimed the water at a cinder block and after a short while the water blasted it’s way through that and was coming out the other side of the block. Impressive. Jarle says it’s also cool to watch when they aim it at shipping containers as it just decimates the fire inside them. The water punches the hole through then douses the fire rapidly.

Then there was a pot with cooking oil in it on a camping gas stove. They wrapped the pot and stove in tin foil and the first double layer wrap burned through so they added another double layer. I presume that this was to raise the temperature of the oil enough for it to catch on fire.

Eventually the oil in the pot (sunflower oil I think) caught fire and they lifted the lid off the pot and the flames were licking the edge of the pot. Then with a water bottle on a long, long pole a fireman showed what happens when you try put an oil fire out with water. He tipped the water on the flames and they bloomed up to 10 or 12 times as big as before. Which could have been dangerous if you were inside and there were curtains anywhere near the stove, or worse your extractor fan has fat in it and that catches and burns in the ventilation shaft. Was quite spectacular, but I am sure the fireman was happy to be at poles length from that burst of flames.

The demonstrations were over. Many folks went inside to the Trygg og Sikker stand to buy smoke detectors and 110 hand held extinguishers and a saw quite a few of their bags in peoples hands as I walked around.

The last batches of kids went through the ambulances, fire trucks and patted the police dog. They asked their questions and were shown by emergency officers how things work. The last pølse (sausage most like NZ frankfurter) and waffles were purchased and eaten and before you knew it everyone was gone.

The stall were all packed up the fire trucks bought back inside and then there was one last “demonstration” more a test by those there with a square metal pan filled with some flammable fluid and set alight by a burning rag on the end of a long metal pole.

Then the  interesting open day was all over.

Things I miss

This post is probably more for me than anyone else, its a list I will add to from time to time of things I miss from New Zealand and things I know I will miss when I leave Norway.

Of course I miss and will miss about both places is people, they are the only important thing in life, but this is other than people.

Here is a list of the things that I miss from New Zealand and the things I think I am gonna miss when I am away from Norway:

New Zealand
Things I miss Reasons
Tear strips on cling film, aluminium foil, baking paper etc. In NZ most tear strips are okay and some are excellent, in Norway there just seems to be artistic renditions of what a tear strip would look like on the side of the boxes.
Kiwifruit being cheap. In Norway one Kiwifruit cost more than a kg does in NZ and I am not talking at the glut part of the season either.
Gingernuts There are ginger biscuits almost like but they are just close enough to make me really miss the real thing. NZ gingernuts are spicy and hard.

I finished my last gingernut from the packet sent to me for Christmas this week 🙁

Good roads I tended to think in NZ that everywhere in the western world would have a similar or better standard of roads to New Zealand. But Norwegian roads are narrow and poorly repaired, and street signs can be so old they are hard to read.

I wondered about this at first, but then I figured if NZ had to pay for snow ploughs for a few months each year there would be less money putting into repairing the road surface itself.

Still I miss New Zealand roads and signs. Not to mention sitting on the right side of the car when driving!!

Instant Pudding There are similar things here and I love them, but sometimes a taste of home calls out to me and I hanker after a pack of instant pudding, butterscotch or chocolate mostly.

Then there are the things I think I am gonna miss (savner) when I am away from Norway:

Norway Reasons
Gelé / Jelly Jelly that dissolves easy and sets perfect every time. Feels thicker when stirring more like egg yolk where as NZ jelly feels like water when your stirring.
SurkÃ¥l / sauerkraut Always thought I would like this but never did in NZ, but here I could sit down to a meal of just sauerkraut. 🙂
Gudbrandsdalsost, Brunost / brown cheese Gudbrandsdalsost is apparently this is not ‘real’ cheese but is made by caramelising milk and making like cheese, but it is sooo yummy its like cheese and marmite all in one.

Jarle adds few slices to brown sauce and gravy to add a yummy taste, mmm.

There are a few types of brunost round, for example:
Regional and locally made

The only thing better than Gudbrandsdalsost is Ekte Geitost which is brown cheese made with goats milks.

Snøfrisk This is a soft cheese like cream cheese but has a nice sharp taste to it. I so want to remake all my cream cheese recipes using snøfrisk. (Snø = snow, and it is white; frisk = fresh, and fresh is what it is).
Yogurt / yoghurt Here the yoghurt is so rich and creamy it’s like a decadent treat, obviously not as low fat as the NZ equivalent which I like too, just Norwegian yogurt is just a couple of points higher on the yummy scale.
Kokosboller Kokosboller and other sweet boller, there is just nothing like them in NZ. I thought I was going to miss mallowpuffs and so had a pack before I left NZ. But I really don’t anymore. Boller are so light and lickable on the inside which makes them fun to eat as well as delicious. But at least by doing this article I found a recipe for them. http://nuftenoft.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/kokosboller/
White Christmas Despite growing up in NZ for most of my life, and enjoying summer Christmas times, swimming at the beach, backyard BBQs, family gatherings easy to arrange as telling everyone to bring a salad or a desert.

Still all the movies and cards and other cultural references are to snow at Christmas so it was special to have a white Christmas and I know there would be a pang for it.

Brown Sugar We have soft brown sugar in NZ but the stuff here is so rich smelling I am sure it is processed less. Has a nice treacley smell and adds so much to what ever you use it in. Really would miss it.
Napoleankake Okay so napoleankake is like a custard square which is a good old favourite of mine from NZ but the pastry is more flakey and the filling is more creamy, need I say more?

The sooner they make a teleport device the better, then I need miss nothing, but then would I appreciate it as much?