Saturday, June 27th 2015.

I don't know how to start this letter. Not because I wasn't prepared, because in a way I was, but not that you would go so soon and so suddenly. 

Twenty years of knowing you is over. Twenty years of so many different memories, so many different times, periods of less contact, then new chapters with new bonding and other circumstances. We always found back though, even now, this last summer. And though we knew that you were leaving, that this was the last one, we made plans. Small plans, just to see each other, and we talked about photographs, that I would take your portrait. But there was not enough time, because today you went on that last journey.

A couple of weeks ago, you came here on the farm, it was a beautiful summer day and we sat outside on the porch, drinking coffee and talking. We talked about sad things and happy things, about funny memories and new perspectives. After you left, my husband said that it sounded like we had such a good time. That made me happy. And the things you said then, they resounded in me, they have done since then. You knew you were dying, and yet you were so happy, so cheerful, so grounded. So unafraid. You said that this spring had been the most beautiful spring you had ever experienced. That your senses were so much stronger, as if you absorbed the world with greater hunger and more joy than ever before. You were completely unsentimental about it, because you were so alive then, so here and now. And you said that the more adversity you lived through, the easier it became, as if you became stronger than it all. Your body was giving way, but your spirit would never break, and that's what you saw, and that's what you tried to comfort all of us with. That it wasn't sad, that life is beautiful, no matter what, every nuance of it.

And so today, you flew. After our friend called me and told me that you had gone, I remembered my dream from last night: I was walking around in your neighbourhood, looking for your house. I couldn't find it.

I went to the hospital to see you today, to say goodbye. It was raw and yet so peaceful, and as I sat by your bed and touched your skin, it was clear to me that you had left, that what remains is just a shell. And the contrast was so stark; I was there with a belly full of new life, with you just a few hours after you had passed. Life, in all its diversity and untouchable mystery. 

This evening, I sat on the front porch and watched the sunset and the valley like so many times before, and I thought, What a beautiful day to leave this world. And although I felt so sad for you, the beauty you left behind in words and spirit made me feel thankful. I got to know you, and walk by your side in moments of this journey.

Thank you. For everything we shared and for what you taught me.

Love!

Midsummer: Rain, sun & swings.

It's become a lovely tradition: We spend midsummer night's eve with friends, either here or at their farm (which we used to rent before we bought our farm!). Delicious food, a bunch of friends playing and talking, that beautiful never ending summer light  - and yesterday, a rain shower so refreshing, all the kids went dancing in it. 

Goodbye, James!

Two and a half months went by really fast, and James has now left us for new pastures. It was a great experience for us all, and we have made sure some important Norwegian lingo is taken out in the world. Like promp, for example. How can you live on a farm in Norway without knowing that? (google it if you're not familiar)

You will be missed, and we will meet again. Bye-bye James!

First dip!

The wind has finally dropped and it feels like summer, so yesterday we headed for the pond for a quick first dip. I was very busy relaxing, so unfortunately I didn't have time to go in the water, but the others did!

Shifting focus.

It suddenly came to that time where I was told by clear voices to stop and shift.

Typically for me, with strong faith (and some might say stupidity), I believed I would make it through this race without failing. Lots and lots of work (fun work! work I love), three kiddos, a busy farm (which means a busy husband) and a growing belly? No problem. I can do anything. I think I have been going on pure adrenaline these last few weeks., and it worked, I was doing it, keeping up the pace and getting things done. And then, stop. 

Quite frankly, it sucked, because my photography business is also one of my babies, and I can't stand the thought of letting customers down and of not doing those fun jobs. So I had to go through a process of accepting it, of not fighting it, of letting go. And when that was done, what happened? This release of energy on a different level. My gaze shifted from outwards to inwards, and I started seeing again the things right around my feet, so beautiful, so in transformation, so vivid. My kids, my garden, the flowers, the morning light, all the little things happening right here. This is where I need to be right now, just like my growing baby I need to stay put and connect with the love I am surrounded with.

And then, frustration turned to thankfulness, and that's how I feel today. Thankful of my body leading the way and allowing me to quiet down, change gears and shift focus.

Last day in 5th grade.

Before she ran off for her last day as a fifth-grader: A couple of portraits during breakfast. 

Now: Summer break! Y A Y !

40!

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My best friend and favourite grown-up in the world is 40 today!

You are the best thing that ever happened to me. Happy birthday, my Superman! 

30 weeks.

I have come to that point in the pregnancy where total strangers find it appropriate to comment on my body. Yep, that is one big belly, and believe me, I know. Fortunately, I am old enough to not be offended anymore, but the story is getting so old. Can we just either not talk about other peoples bodies - or simply tell them they look great? Pregnant or not.

Anyway. 

Although I am starting to feel the weight now, I still feel totally in love with my body and what it is capable of. The mind-blowing fact that there is a baby in there leaves me in complete awe. I am 30 weeks pregnant today. It is dawning on me that very, very soon, there will be a baby born in this house, and I will be the mother of four.

I am cherishing these last weeks, and yet I cannot wait.

James & the pigs.

Since April our household has counted another person! Mr. James is from New York, is on a journey through Europe before starting his university degree, and has landed here with us to live and learn from Norwegian farm life before heading back to civilisation (i.e.. Portland). Earlier this spring we signed up as a host farm on two websites who deal with this sort of business: workaway.info and WWOOF.org - and along came James. It has been great in every way; both to get more stuff done, but equally important to us as a family. James fits right into this kooky family and it has felt very natural to include him in our daily life. We shall be sad to see him go next month.

And speaking of farm stuff and James leads me over to the event of the day: We picked up two piglets today! Mr. Payne still thinks he is hilarious when he names them, I'm not so impressed, but anyway; Meet Francis and Kevin Bacon, still very cute and now happy little pigs foraging around in our field.

Planting for the future.

Earlier this month: My dad (aka Bestefar) has wanted to buy apple trees for the children for a while - one for each; trees that would grow and stay and symbolise our family's life on the farm. That this is really our farm now. So 4 little trees were bought. Yes, 4, because when the little one comes out, there must be a tree ready, and the placenta will be buried under it to nourish it, just like it has nourished the baby for nine months. And with joy the four trees were planted, and now they are in bloom already, and guess what: The first one to bloom was the baby's. Like it said, You belong here, baby, we are waiting for you. 

There is definitely something very beautiful and special about planting a tree, it's like dipping your toe into a little piece of eternity.

DIY greenhouse: Making use of old windows.

This husband of mine keeps impressing me. After one of our cheap plastic greenhouses fell apart in the autumn storms, he has now built a new one with old windows from our house plus some of the leftover plastic sheets from the previous one. The tomato plants are already thriving in there. Summer, here we come! 

Gone fishing.

There are many ways to spend Norway's national day. 

Hope the rest of you had a good one! xxx

All good.

Sorel's arrival brought many good things: Not just that we are in cuddle heaven again, stroking her supersoft fur and getting to know her, but also the fact that we have milk again! Mother and calf are together, so Sorel gets her share of the goodies, but there is more than enough for us, too. So today I made raw milk pudding, made from the colostrum which is the very nutritious first milk the cow gives after a calving. It was lovely!

Meet Sorel!

Our wonderful cow Daisy is a mother yet again! Almost a year after she had Pål, she gave birth to a heifer calf (female) - lovely Sorel! And ironically, this birth photographer missed it all! We knew she was in labour, it was obvious when she wandered restlessly around the field today, but she chose to birth in private while the rest of us were peeling potatoes and napping. Regardless, it is great that she did it all herself and didn't need help to pull it out, like last time. Second time mama-bonus!

Welcome to us, Sorel, we hope you'll like it here.

Portraits of Freja.

You are five, and you get to stay up a bit later than Falk this evening, and the light is beautiful, the temperature just right, it's an evening in late April and you are free. Your hair is wavy and your eyes sparkle and your movements are strong and light at the same time. You are pure beauty and life, you are like spring itself. Free and fierce and crazy, my wonderful girl.