To submit or to live- must it be a choice?

Another thread from my novel in progress.  .

Love this writing thing!


It was all too much to consider and answer here, sitting on a blanket with Frederika.   Still, Oslo wasn’t that far from Hvitsten.  How could she make sure that if she took the leap, she would still have at least a few visits permitted her in order to see her family each year?  Like Fred had from Halvor, allowing her permission to take off now and then to see Nina.  The truth is she was afraid of losing herself to someone else, like Frederika had lost herself to Halvor.   She was afraid of putting herself on the shelf for someone else, of having to ask for permission for things.  It seemed odd as an adult that she would not have authority over her own life.  Her thoughts shifted to her Tante Liv whose marriage, she was told, had begun as the romance of the decade only to end up in an abusive power hungry struggle filled with misery.



As a young girl, Nina had witnessed Tante Liv and Oncle Bjarte’s strained marriage, the sharpness of tongue that Bjarte threw upon Liv when he was displeased with her.  She never got any story right.  He would correct her and interrupt her at every turn.  Nina watched as Liv lost her voice over the years and ended up rarely vocalizing any opinion.  The playfulness that she remembered of Liv as a young woman when Nina was just a little girl, had all but vanished.  In its place was a pale woman that mostly obeyed her husband’s every whim and wish.   She knew Liv was this way in order to keep the peace at home.  Liv detested conflict.  It made Nina sad to watch Liv transform from this vibrant young woman with the most amazing smile and laugh, into a silent soul in the background of their lives.   It was a rare moment to hear her laugh anymore or to see her eyes twinkle as they had when they played and rode the horses together when she was a young girl.  Bjarte and Liv never had children and Nina wondered if maybe this was a part of the displeasure and irritation that accompanied Oncle Bjarte everywhere he went.



She wondered what life might have been like if Liv had been blessed with a child or two.  At least she would have a vessel into which she could direct her love.  As it was, she knew that Liv primarily focused on raising the pigs and making a clean home for Bjarte.  Their house was always immaculate and she wasn’t sure whether this was driven by Bjarte’s stern demeanor and demands or if this had been a natural inclination for Liv, perhaps a way for her to simply push forward and make life bearable.  Bjarte walked around as if the world was against him and that his fate was to endure it rather than enjoy the many instances of beauty one finds when each dawn breaks.



Nina did not understand people who couldn’t see how amazing nature was and all that was within it.  One only had to stop moving, look around and listen.  Become aware of  one’s surroundings.   These experiences placed a struggle within Nina whenever she considered a life shared with another soul.  If she committed herself to someone else, would that someone drain her of her own soul and energy?



At her age, she should be thinking mostly of the excitement of romance and the thrill of love.   But unlike some of her contemporaries, she had an observant tendency and when she expressed those observations out loud, particularly at school, she would be chastised.   She kept most of it to herself but was keenly aware of the downfalls of being partnered with a mismatched suitor.  So she wanted to pace herself when it came to marriage and hoped that she would see signs of danger before it was too late for her.  Until she found someone who seemed to share in her passions, she knew deep down that a partnership with the wrong person would be a life sentence of loneliness.





Unlimited Potential



In the early 60s, something amazing happened to a young early twenty something woman that drew her to the United States of America from Norway. Up until that time, her claim is that self esteem was lacking and that she never felt special. Born just two years prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway and ending three days shy of her 7th birthday, Mom’s world as a very young girl was filled with fear. She lived through air raids and their requisit black curtains, sheltering in the basement laundry room of her apartment with the other tenants, Nazi soldiers pacing the hallways of her kindergarten with their german shepherds, the strict rules of forbidden music and radios and then there is the celebration parades that followed once Norway was liberated. From the time she was this young girl – she loved America. America saved everyone- in her view. In today’s world, where controversy exists on whether America should be the world’s big brother, Mom’s response is that the world forgets. And, she feels that younger generations that have not lived through an actual war or occupation, have no idea what they are talking about- they are arrogant in their naivete. Easy to judge. The truth is, in her view, that we (since she is now an American Citizen) must be involved- when we are not, things fall apart. Of course, intelligence and pragmatism must be employed- but in some fashion, yes- we must be involved.

The plan for Mom was to come for one year. She was sponsored by family members who had gone before her to the “Great Land”, and she initially lived with those relatives in Wisconsin. She eventually made her way to the Twin Cities, and met Dad at a social gathering of friends that were acquainted through a local Ski Club. It was an after work party and Dad was in from out of town on business- a regular occurance as Minnesota was part of his territory back then. Through mutual friends, they connected at an after work cocktail hour. And, the rest is history. They fell in love, Mom couldn’t imagine life without Jack and Jack supported Karin in her pursuits- one of which was becoming an accomplished artist. From the beginning, Dad saw her talent for what it was- amazing. Truly- her abilities were aparant in those early days.
After their wedding, she settled into life with Jack in Michigan- his home at the time. After a couple of years, they moved to Washington DC for another job transfer; it was here that both of their chlidren were born. Dad set Mom up with her own atelier right from the beginning- usually an unused area of the laundry room. She spent hours each day dabbling in oils in between laundry, cooking and caring for her family. She took art very seriously; since childhood she had always had a passion for drawing and painting. Her small florals were beautiful- delicate pansies were a favorite. This passion grew over the year, and during the family’s period living in France- she took classes from accomplished teachers. She learned many vital techniques employed by the masters and she developed her own style in portraiture. John Singer Sargent a favorite of hers, many of her portraits have the same elegance and the glazing techniques that bring skin tone, fabrics and light to a realistic conclusion. One of her frequent exercises was copying a master – it’s what they did as well.  The only way to really learn is to copy a master- she would say.   So in our home, one could find an amazing likeness of Corot, Bougeraux, Renoir or John Singer Sargent hanging on the walls.

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The likeness she renders is breathtaking and I always have a gallery page of her work on my iPhone to show- my brag book. Over the years, she has gifted many a piece to friends and family- and has sold a number on consignment; however, she has never had her own show and her focus has never been on the business side of things. Rather, painting for her has been her solace, her meditation and what has kept her grounded. Everyone must have a passion- something that gives her purpose. For Karin, it is painting masterpieces (my words, not hers). Mom is for the most part humble with her art. As is comomon with many artists, she is not ever truly satisfied and she is not generally confident enough to show off her work. Still, it gives her pleasure. Lately, with Dad’s illnesses and her own aging- her canvases, brushes and oils have sat idle. She often says she will take it up again, perhaps when it gets colder out again. I truly hope so because when she puts brush to canvas- magic happens.