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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Beautiful days and skiing


It has been a very nice week for weather after getting dumped on just previously. We had lots of snow with another foot or more coming tomorrow.
There was a beautiful sunrise a couple of mornings ago and even though I only had a cell phone I wanted to at least capture the colors in low light. Not great shots, but you get the idea. Of course the opportunities only last a few minutes. 


Yesterday I finally got out skiing for the first time this season. I went to my favorite place and realized that as a U.S. Forest Service trail,  it had not been groomed since the federal shutdown (more thanks to the brain-damaged baboon in the White House). It had mostly been used by dog walkers and snowshoers, but was barely passable for that. Given the two foot (60cm) base, packed hard but unevenly, was not a good bet for a first time out for an old guy with non-original knees.  I tried, but didn’t get far realizing it wasn’t going to be worth the effort. So I got back in the truck and headed down the hill to Pincushion (North Superior Ski and Run Club) to use those trails.

The Pincushion Trails were beautifully groomed and there were only a handful of people using them at the time so it seemed like a good thing. They are a little challenging, though, even the easy trails. Given that it was just above freezing the trails were very fast and a little icy. Being partly in and partly out of the direct sun made them a little tricky as far as speed and control. To make a long story short(er), I was not entirely in control of my speed and balance and wiped out no less than 4 times, maybe more. It is all a blur now. Most of them were at speed going downhill. I was able to successfully snowplow a few times, but otherwise I would get a ski slightly out of position and crash before I even got to the bottom. The only thing that had any residual effect is a shoulder that aches a little if I move it a certain way. I had intended to add a short flatter loop at the end, but was slightly discouraged at that point and decided to call it a day. 

 From the parking lot.

 
It was a beautiful day, though, and I took my cell phone in order to take a few shots of the surroundings (or call for help, assuming I was still conscious). It was good to be outside again. Next time I will just do the flat loops until I get my legs and confidence back. Maybe next weekend if the weather is nice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!


Sorry for the absence. The holidays, while welcome, are an interesting interruption of routine and cause irregularities in the flow of life. I have been off of work since the Saturday before Christmas and will be going back tomorrow. I had to use up a certain amount of time in order to not lose it. I am only allowed to carry about 5 weeks over from year to year. One of my ‘resolutions’, such as it is, is to use more vacation time. It is difficult between June and November to take time away as we are very busy at work during that time. Of course, that is one of the best times to go somewhere in this hemisphere because of the warmer and usually more pleasant weather.

This is the first day of the new year for those of us following the Gregorian calendar, so Happy New Year to most of us! 

I have taken a few pictures and have gone for walks when the weather isn’t too severe. I will show you some of what I see, mostly around the neighborhood.
Here is what I see and where I go.




Here is my friend’s little 8’x14’ tiny house that sits in my middle pasture. With my back to the bunk it is a cozy warm place.

Here is her front yard. The footprints going to and from are not human. The only human tracks are right around the house.


This was in town by the harbor.


We had some snow the other day. About 15 inches or more, but the wind blew a lot of it away.


This morning was chilly, about -12F (-24C), but the overnight wind had died down and left us with a crisp look at the moon and Venus in the pre-dawn light.

Click on the pics to embiiggen.



Saturday, December 15, 2018

This was the week that was, wasn't it?


It was an interesting week here in the North Country. I got a notion over last weekend to go across the border into Canada to catch HeatherRankin at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.  She rarely comes this far west, being a Cape Breton girl, but doing a holiday themed show is an old family tradition.

I left work at a little after 1pm on Monday, washed the car for the first time in a while as it was just above freezing, and headed home to pack for the overnight stay in a foreign country. Don’t worry, I speak the language. I left about 2:30 and headed toward the border. The weather was nice, the trip was uneventful, the border patrol didn’t question my motives, and I arrived at my hotel about two hours later. The auditorium was about four blocks from my hotel and it was a nice night to walk. It was about 15F (-9C) with a slight breeze, so it was a brisk walk. My seat was about 8 rows back from the stage so I had a good view of the performers. 

When Heather and the band came out on stage the first thing she did was to take off these shoes


 and do the first set barefoot. Just that little thing made it all seem homier. She did songs that she had done with her family years ago as well as some of her solo tunes and a mix of holiday songs. It was a nice blend to lift everyone’s spirits! When she came out for the second set she was wearing fuzzy white slippers! She was very engaging as the well seasoned performer she is and came out into the lobby afterward to sign autographs, CDs and talk to her fans. Of course I had to get an autographed CD and a chance to talk to her for a few moments. After being a fan for thirty years I figured it was about time. One of the things I love about Canada is that people are so accessible and friendly. I had a nice visit with the guy sitting next to me during intermission which added to the whole experience. 


I left before dawn because I had a three hour drive to the dentist before coming back up the shore. I punched in to work at noon. I felt like I packed a lot into 23 hours.


In other news there is a comet in the sky. I went out to look for it last night before bed as it was clear and relatively warm, just a little below freezing, which is unusual for this time of year. I didn’t see the comet, but as it is the Geminid Meteor Shower I saw about 4 meteors in just a few minutes! When I got up this morning at about 5 am, I went out again and there it was! In the southeast sky just below Pleiades was a bright blue green glow that was the brightest thing in the sky! I couldn’t make out a tail, but was too lazy to get binoculars to try. It was a very interesting thing to see! 
If you have clear dark skies it would be worth going out and looking for.
P.S. Not my pictures this time.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Coming to America, Otto's saga


Mosby and Høie Fabrikker

Started working in the middle of February. It was cold and a lot of snow on the ground. Went skiing a couple of times. We first got a one room apartment with kitchen. I took the bus into Kristiansand to buy some kitchen and cooking utensils. In the basement there was a shower, but you had to heat the water. We used it every Friday night. After a month or so we got a bigger apartment. We made good friends in the neighborhood and Jacquie joined a sewing club. 

Mosby is a little village. Everybody worked at the mill. There was a small grocery store, but you had to go to Kristiansand for greater things such as hardware, restaurants, movies, library, dentist, doctor, barber, hairdresser.

The mill was family owned. The old man, Oscar Jebsen, was a fine old gentleman. My father knew him from the old neighborhood in Bergen. Two sons at the mill, one in the office, the other, technical, had spent some time in the U.S.A> He was a first class SOB, and was a significant factor for me wanting to go back to the States. He wanted me t stay longer. “You know we can’t get another man like you”. Although I only worked there for a little more than 10 months, they gave me a month’s salary (bonus) when I left.

There was nothing to do in Mosby. The only social affair was the “badehus” (prayer house). We, the engineers and upper office workers, belonged t a group that was called “the upper fifth”. Everybody knew your business, even my salary which was 25% more than Norman Anderson got. He was the head dyer before me. He was 58 and had worked in the dye house since he was 13.
Our best friends were the Hvattums, Ole Jakob and Ellen. Mike’s [my brother] middle name is after their oldest son Ivar.

Jon was conceived here on October 26, 1950 on Ellingson’s sofa. One of the pieces of furniture we had given to us.  [Note: this is the beginning of the legend that is me! ]

All in all it was not a bad time, thanks to the many friends we made there.

Bergen to New York, January 1951
It was an unimaginable feeling going on board the Oslofjord. All Norwegian was behind me: taxes, military service (I was in the Guard). My cousin Henry, who was in the police department, was a tremendous help getting through all the red tape.


When leaving port we play the Norwegian and American National Anthems. Edith Hausvik and friends were at the dock. Her brother in law was in charge of the linen department on the ship.

It was a rough passage. Smooth the first day as we passed the Faroes, but then storm and bad weather hit us. That was probably more the Shetlands or the Orkneys. The bad weather continued almost until we hit New York. I was the only one at our table for about 5-6 days. We docked in the harbor Monday morning and cleared customs, no problems. Nana and Grandpa John [Jacquie’s mother and step father] were there to meet us. We checked the old steamer trunk to Baltimore, but all of the rest of the stuff, including our skis, we loaded on to Grandpa John’s old Pontiac convertible. Stopped on the way to eat and it was great to be back in the good old USA. Remember crossing the Delaware at Chester, and in the evening we were in Baltimore.  

To be continued again…

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Back to Otto's story


 I have been telling the story of my Norwegian immigrant father taken directly from his autobiography. It has been a while since I posted any part of it, so I am overdue. I have left it intact and the only note is that these brackets,[ ], are mine and everything else is original, including sentence structure and other typos.  Remember, English was not his first (or second) language.
We pick up after graduate school at N.C. State in textile chemistry and it is late in 1948.

Time to go back to Norway.

During the summer of 1948, Olaf Torgerson got married to Wenche Falkenberg. She had been a student in San Diego. Her Father, Otto, was the DuPont representative in Norway. In the Spring of 1949, Otto Falkenberg and his wife came to Raliegh and he offered me a job in his company in Norway. Attached to that job was a training course at DuPont’s Technical Laboratory at Deepwater, New Jersey, just across from Delaware. So after Graduating I came up to Wilmington.

I lived at the YMCA. Paid about $25 a month for my room with all membership priveleges. Long days, left the Y at 6:15 in the morning on the bus for the ferry that took us across the river. Got back to the Y the same way about 5:30. The training course was super, hot as hell in the lab, but I learned a lot. 

We had a nice group at the Y, several of us in training at the Tech Lab, many “foreigners”. We played volleyball almost every evening after work. There was a Cosmopolitan Club, and we went to shows, camping, and ball games. That’s where I met Jacquie. It was a short courtship and we got married on the 7th of October, 1949.

Honeymoon

I had bought a car, a Chevrolet, which I was supposed to bring back to Norway to be used by Falkenberg. After getting married, we drove up to Connecticut. In those days you had to drive 35 MPH for the first 1000 miles. Thought we would never get there. The next day we drove up to Andy and Karla [Otto’s brother and sister in law] in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Stayed around until the next Friday when we left for New York to catch the S.S. Media for Liverpool. When in Cambridge [Andy was in grad school at MIT] we went to a party at the MIT Graduate House. Met a young Mr. Guinness (of the beer/ale family).  He was a frequent visitor at Andy and Karla’s, “I just dropped by for a cup of tea”.  We also visited Dr. Baker and his family. He was Dean of students at MIT and a good friend of Andy’s who had lived in their house when studying in Cleveland [Case Western Reserve]. Jacquie went back to Wilmington and soon thereafter quit her job with DuPont.  

Going back home and back to the U.S.A.

The S/S Media was a small combined passenger/cargo ship. Accommodations for 300 passengers. We were only 100, all first class, and everything was 1st class.  Landed in Liverpool a week later. Took the train to Manchester. Stayed at the inn close by. I was to get familiar with a company (petrochemicals) that Falkenberg was to represent in Norway. Stayed there a few days, then on to London for another few days. Left London early Saturday morning on the train for New Castle and “Venus” back to Bergen. The North Sea was very quiet. Called my father from the ship and he was at the pier when I arrived.

After a few days I went to Oslo to work for Falkenberg. Stayed with Olaf Torgerson, my old friend from N.C. State. He rigged up a bed in his father’s old Dentist’s office, which was empty following his father’s recent death. Stayed in Oslo a few weeks. We also went down to Fredrikstad where I was to work part time for “Unger Fabrikker”.  Business was very slow, and I went back to work for Odd Waardal, who had a factory outside Bergen and who was making pigments and dyestuffs. Worked there a short while, and then for my father in his electrical business.

Since Dr. Falkenberg was not able to employ me he released me, and I got a job as Head Dyer at Høie Fabrikker at Mosby near Kristiansand.

In the meantime, Jacquie had come from the States in early December. So we went to Mosby. Got a nice apartment in one of the houses the factory owned. Kitchen, large hallway and three rooms all for $6.00/ month. I did well at work, was able to apply many things I had learned in the States. We made some good friends, but we wanted to get back to the States. 

So I applied for a Visa. Got that in the fall. With all the papers, affidavits, proof of being a good boy during the war (the Big One, Mike), Health certificate, chest X-ray etc.,etc., it took about 6 months to to get all papers together. Went to the embassy in Oslo to give my oath and the Visa came in the mail a few days later. Had a difficult time getting tickets for the passage back to the States, but all went well. We left Krisiansand a few days before Christmas, train to Stavanger and the “night” boat to Bergen. Left Bergen on the “Oslofjord” on January 7th, 1951, my 31st birthday.  

To be continued…