Once I woke up, I sat in the basement. I had gotten out the bed, gone to the basement door, opened it and walked down the stairs. I do not remember doing it, but I do remember the feeling of waking up in the cold and dark basement, wearing a cotton nightgown.

I got a room in the basement. A pink room.

I am fascinated by what one can remember, the random images. The images that emerge with weirdness. If I think about what I should remember of events from my own life, try to catch it, I do not know what to think. It appears as occasional glimpses. A pair of green-tinted eyes, an arm wearing a clinking bracelet, long nails drumming on a glass table, or a landscape where soft waves gently strike a rock.

If I choose a moment I hardly remember, I choose Judy.


“What should I say now, Svarteliten,” the girl asked. «Do not say anything,» Svarteliten said. And then he rushed out and crowed like a rooster. The jutul believed it was the day and took out the fastest he could. Now the girl owned a lot. She felt like a king’s daughter sitting on top of a glass mountain, but she was no king’s daughter, the girl was free to do exactly what she wanted.

In a wood where the trees stood close, there lived a man who was a widower and his daughter.

They lived far away from people and the only relative they had besides the two was a dog that had always been with them and which they called Svarteliten – meaning little black.

Still, they were not lonely, because people who needed firewood were constantly passing by and bought wood so the two had enough to live by, neither more nor less. Every day, they went out into the woods, which they both got to know well, to fetch timber and sticks that they chopped and picked and carried home. There in the woods she could stand and watch the branches that stretched out and in some places intertwined. There was no other place she would rather be than in the wood.

One day a widow with her daughter came by, they stayed and soon one thing led to the other, they became a married couple and the girls sisters. Immediately it was less than enough to live by. The husband’s daughter was not liked by either her stepmother or step-sister who wanted more. They planned how to get rid of the man’s daughter. You know how this will go, but you may experience some surprises along the way.

Winter came, the snow fell down and covered the trees and the little house in the wood. Then it was Christmas and every Christmas, father and daughter used to go away, because then the unseen peoples came to visit and celebrate Christmas in their home. The stepmother decided that this Christmas someone had to be home and keep the house warm, it had to be the man’s daughter.

 She was not used to being alone, but she had the dog. As they traveled away with a sled and a horse to celebrate Christmas, she stood in the window and watched as the snow fell and the darkness settled over the wood.

I grew up on an island, felt the mountain warm the body as I lay on it after swimming in the water for too long and being scared of meeting the moose an early winter morning on the way to the school bus. But I was not born there. I was born in Fredrikstad, a nearby town and lived my first years in that town. I do not remember much from that period. But something I remember. I remember Judy. Well, I have only one memory of her and it was that she had run away and my mother and I had to go out into the streets to find her. Walk through the streets and call for a barking dog. My mother was showing me how to get hold of a dog, she sat down and sort of lured with her fingers while calling the name of the dog. It worked. Judy came. Judy was a big black dog with a white dot on her chest. That is all I remember. I do not know why she was called Judy. When we moved from Fredrikstad, she was apparently sent to a farm. I hope she lived well.

Bessi, I remember, also she black, but with brown chest. She looked like all dogs at that time, a mixed breed dog because there were not many “posh” breed dogs around. She used to sit out on the mountain by the porch on the island where I grew up, watching who and what was coming and going.

I have no idea why we ended up having dogs.

I have a dog now and the weird thing is that I am not really a dog person, I prefer cats. But now I have a dog named Atsjoo. He turned seven in March. When I decided to have a dog, I wanted a bitch, but ended up with a male dog.

Why do I remember Judy? Remembering is often about a place, something that turns it into a place, something that has happened there. I think I remember Judy because she must have meant something when I was a child, maybe because she was the first one. The first dog. I have always lived with an animal close to me, it was the first animal. And of course because she run away, and it must have been dramatic.

The folk tale that is included in this post is collected by Moltke Moe and is written down in the booklet Folke-eventyr frå Flatdal.

It was snowing and the snow surrounded the loneliness with a muted sound. Everything that was recognizable out there was covered and then darkness came. The outside world was black and white. Her finger stroked the glass in the window and followed the snow as it fell. Soon it was cold and the window was covered with ice roses that stuck to the glasses. She was pale, waiting for what might happen, but the dog’s red tongue licked her hand.

She stroked the black dog under the ear and it began to speak to her with a human voice. She drew her hand to her, for she had never heard the dog speak before. She felt the sweat in her neck and became anxious. But the dog tilted the head and looked at her with her brown eyes

“Make something good for me,” the dog said, “and I will give you some advice. Tonight the giant – jutulen will arrive.”

Yes, she did as Svarteliten asked her. Made a great meal for the dog. For she knew how to cook, she who had set traps, fished, hunted, picked mushrooms and herbs, grew vegetables. She who had weeded, picked, peeled, cleaned, dried, cooked and fried.

The dog had a Christmas meal and wagged the tail while eating.

But as soon as he was finished, he was growling. She looked out the window and a big dark shadow was coming.

The door creaked from the frost and was opened. Without knocking, the door opened and a jutul entered. He was so big he had to fold himself in two. She put her head on her neck and opened her mouth, standing as if paralyzed, as glued to the floor, as a statue, a pillar of salt.

«It’s Christmas and here it is missing one thing and the other,» he said.

«Put candles on the table!». She looked desperately at the dog and said with clenched lips “What should I say? Svarteliten.” «Say that you do not have any,» Svarteliten said. «I have no candles, ,» the girl said. «Pull out of my ears,» the jutul said.

She went over to the jutul and looked into the ear as big as a small millstone, she put her hand in, it was like a fly in the ear and she pulled out so much that “it was awful” as we express it in Norway. There were candles and candlesticks, chandeliers and candelabras. Everything was bright and the living room shone like a star.

If you had stood up on a hill and looked down, you would have seen a circle of light around the little house shining yellow.

«Put drinks on the table,» Jutul said.  “What should I say now, Svarteliten”, the girl asked. «You should say that you do not have any,» said Svarteliten. «I have no drink,» said the girl. «Pull out of my ears,» Jutul said, and she pulled many beer barrels out of his ears.

«Put food on the table!» he said. «What should I say now, Svarteliten,» the girl asked. «You say you have not,» Svarteliten said. «I do not have any food,» the girl said. «Pull out of my ears,» said the jutul and she pulled out so much food that the table was more than covered in food. Then they sat down at the table and ate and drank. The girl was a bit tipsy of the beer. This is a rich evening, the girl thought. The jutul stretched one leg and burped so it shook in the living room and the girl had to keep her mouth together to not to start laughing.

«No,» the jutul said, banging his fist on the table. «Make the bed,» he said. The girl was wondering what to say. «You should say that you have none,» said Svarteliten. «I have none,» the girl said. «Pull out of my ears,» said the jutul, and she pulled so many duvets out of the ear that it was covering the whole living room. And not only that, but a bed that was big enough to fill the entire room.

«Now go and lie down,» the jutul said and began to undress.

In the article The Word Unfleshed: Memory in Cyberspace, Marina Warner writes, among other things, about the ability to imagine and how the composition of words creates images for our inner eye. Her focus is primarily reading, but can easily be transferred to oral storytelling. She believes there is a relationship between inner images, emotions and action (Warner, p. 3). We can imagine what is happening because we have our own associations and the words awakens memories in us (Warner, p. 5). In meeting a text, there is a two-way meeting because we are forced to contribute material from our own lives, knowledge and experience. Some words are triggers and the memory attach to triggers, because the triggers touch something sensual. Warner mentions the word turquoise as an example of a trigger word.

What makes the word turquoise come to mind. I actually have a turquoise wall and several dresses in the colour turquoise. But first and foremost I am thinking of a piece of jewelry.

Warner mentions that not much research has been done on the virtual world and its impact on our mental processes, yet she has the impression that digital media has the ability to brush away our memories. The mental processes that process screen information interfere with memory capabilities (Warner, p. 7). There is a lack of materiality and the aesthetic experience is without energy, something our memory needs to be activated. What do you think?

Lift up the right arm, out to the side, stretch the arm fully and extend the arm by pointing with the index finger. What are you pointing at? A wall that has portraits, a half-full can, a yellow tablecloth, a person who stops at a cross, a tree about to burst of spring, a dog running? If possible, touch what you are pointing at. How does it feel? Cold, cool, sticky? Write down how it feels. Then you write down an abstract noun, such as a dream, a mood, a fantasy, a pain.
Put this together into one phrase or metaphor: «The dream is a sticky, yellow tablecloth.»
«What should I say now, Svarteliten,» the girl asked.

«Do not say anything,» Svarteliten said.

Then the dog ran out and crowed like a rooster. Then the jutul thought it was the day and took out the fastest he could to get home before the sun was up. Now the girl owned a lot. When the family arrived back home they made big eyes, but the girl moved and built a house herself, deep into the wood she settled. She wanted Svarteliten to come with her, but he replied, «I will come when the time is right.»

Next Christmas the wife said: «Yes, this time my daughter will be home, she will get even more.» When it was Christmas Eve, the wife’s daughter was back home. She had the little dog Svarteliten with her.

«Give me some food and I’ll give you some advice,» Svarteliten said. She made food, but ate it herself. «You can get food yourself,» she told the dog, and kicked him. «Had there been leftovers, I would have saved it for my mother.»

Jutulen was coming. «Put candles on the table,» he said. «What should I say,» the girl asked. «You who ate the food know your own advice,» said Svarteliten.

«I have no candles,» the girl said. «Pull out of my ears,» said the jutul and she pulled out so much that “it was awful”. »

«Put drinks on the table,» the jutul said.

«What should I say now, Svarteliten,» the girl asked.

» You who ate the food know your own advice,» said Svarteliten.

«I do not have anything to drink,» the girl said. «Pull out of my ears,» said the jutul, and she pulled many beer barrels out of his ears.

«Put the food on the table,» he said.

«What should I say,» she asked Svarteliten. » You who ate the food know your own advice,» said Svarteliten.

«I have no food,» the girl said.

«Pull out of my ears,» said the jutul and she pulled so much that even the table was saturated.

Jutulen himself ate the food, he drank the drink and burned out the candles.

«Now go and lie down,» said the jutul.

«What should I say now, Svarteliten,» the girl asked.

» You who ate the food know your own advice,» said Svarteliten.

She went to bed. Jutulen thought the bed was too hard when he lay down, so he crushed her skull.


Warner, M. (u.d.). The Word Unfleshed: Memory in Cyberspace.