Two weeks before Christmas my brother Jan Arve and sister-in-law Olaug and their little Milli came to visit. This visit has been in the books for a long time, but due to colds it had to be postponed a couple of times. So it was all the more welcome when it finally could take place. We all get on so well, and thoroughly enjoy our time together.
Isa and Milli get on well too, even if Isa, who is about 3 1/2 years older than Milli, sometimes acts like an old auntie: "oh, for heaven's sakes, what a child..." But most of the time they are little monkeys, copying whatever the other one does :-) Isa to the left, Milli to the right.
I have a spot at Hiskjo, where I frequently go to photograph the sun as it sets in the ocean. I love this one, where both sea and sky were colored pink.
During the last week before Christmas, astrological events were lined up: a full moon, the lunar eclipse and winter solstice.
Unfortunately, I missed the eclipse due to clouds and snow. But the sky was clear the evening before, and I got some pics of the full moon. At 4.50 pm it was just raising, big and yellow.
At 9.30 pm it was clouding over, and the ring that forecasted the snow that would come in the morning was there.
Having passed winter solstice means that the days are slowly but surely getting longer again, and we are once more heading towards summer.
Speaking of moons, Sigve's is disappearing. His hair has started to grow back in! It's very fine and downy, like a baby's first hair, but it's increasing in length and thickness. Funny thing, he never lost his eyebrows and eyelashes. He did lose all hair on his torso, and his thighs and upper arms. However, he has had hair on his forearms and legs the whole time.
The beard and mustache has been growing for quite a while now.
It's still flimsy, but improving.
Another odd occurrence is what's happening to his finger nails. First a deep groove appeared across the nails, and then they split up and obviously the old, upper layer will fall off when the new nail underneath is fully grown.
He showed it to the doctor, and was told that this is common. All the new nails cells are in the nail roots and when, as in his case, his whole system comes to a dead stop, this happens. I have read about it before, actually, if something significant or dramatic happens, you can "read" it in the nails. The toe nails are not affected, not yet anyway.
This year, like last year, we got lots of snow for Christmas. I love it, but I also have to admit it's unpractical. We were going to Tysnes to spend Christmas with Hilde Marie and Jon Helge, and we were taking the camper van.
Sigve started shoveling snow in front of the camper, but during the night before, wind gusts had formed deep heaps of snow on the road, and heavier equipment was required. Fortunately, we have a brother-in-law, Gerd's husband Roald, with a tractor and plow equipment. So he cleared the road from our house and up to the main road, and we could get out.
Sigve took Isa for a walk as usual in the evening, and afterwards told me there were some cool snow shapes formed by the wind. I grabbed my camera, and thew on a jacket and boots, and got a few pictures. Fortunately, because the next morning they were gone. It was freezing cold, but there are few limits to what we'll do for a photo.
On what we call "Little Christmas Eve", the day before Christmas Eve, the combination of fog and sunset colors turned everything bright pink.
Driving to Tysnes in the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
On reaching the farm, Isa was happy to meet her friends,
Ira the Irish wolfhound and big Isa.
Jon Helge was busy clearing a space for the camper outside their house.
As most of you may know, we norwegians have our main celebration on Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve. Our meal is made from dried, salted and sometimes smoked, sides of lam. They are cut in pieces and left in water overnight, to get rid of some salt, and then steam cooked for 2,5 - 3 hours. Boiled potatoes, creamed yellow turnips and sauerkraut accompany it. For dessert we make a rice porridge that is mixed with whipped cream, and served with raspberry sauce. Usually we eat so much dinner that no-one has room for dessert until much later in the evening, or sometimes even the next day.
This is our food tradition, and quite common on the west coast. Other parts of the country have different traditions.
Jon Helge and Hilde Marie,
Geir Espen and Sigve at the dinner table.
After dinner we settle on the couch, ready to open presents.
Sigve's all time favorite snack is this particular type of milk chocolate, and he always gets a bar or two for Christmas and birthdays. He has been apprehensive about trying it again, worried that it might not taste the same any more. So he did try a piece a couple of weeks ago, and he actually did not like it! This is also a result of all the hormonal changes he's gone through, and many things taste different from before. He'll probably be able to get used to it again, in time, but it was a bit of a disappointment.
Geir Espen and Jon Helge taking a break from opening presents.
The baby is growing, and filling up all available space now.
It's also very active; sometimes the whole bump just moves :-)
Quite a common sight in the late evening:
I fall asleep, and someone feels the need to document it,
while others just stay wide awake.
My christmas gift from Sigve was the macro lens I have been hoping for, but never in a million years thought I'd get now!
On Christmas day we all slept in, and had a late brunch,
and then just had time for a walk before it got dark again.
It was cold, about -18C/-0,4F, and the snow squeaked under our shoes.
Good thing Hilde Marie's suit is roomy :-)
We drove back home Sunday evening, as Sigve had his scheduled check-up in Haugesund Monday morning. The taxi picked him up at 8 am as usual. The blood tests were satisfactory, showing steady levels. His hemoglobin level was even up, and the platelets were steady, so the doctor was pleased.
For the last week Sigve has started reducing the Sandimmun dosage, and has been told to be extra on the alert for signs of GVH (graft-versus-host) disease. The first signs could be skin rash or heaviness of breath. So far so good.
Last Monday the doctor decided that the visits to Stord Hospital for blood tests are no longer necessary, so now Sigve has Thursdays off.
Today's sunrise, at 10.15 am,
and sunset, at 3.40 pm.
Christmas this year was special. In August we really didn't know if Sigve would see another Christmas. I never actually thought it, I assumed all would be well, you know, the power of positive thinking. But realistically, it could have gone either way.
So my gratitude today is for still having Sigve here, for every new day we get to spend together. New days can not be taken for granted!