Sunday, May 27, 2012

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last entry and I didn't mean to go that long, it sort of just happened. Sometimes it is just from procrastination (is there such a thing as anti-procrastination?) or just being tired from the long days. We have had some rainy days and so now I have come indoors. I found my desk just like I left it only with a little additional clutter added regularly until it looks like this.
I was playing with my new used remote from ebay and the camera went off in my lap. Thank goodness it wasn't an explosive device! The leather lens bags on the right are a score from a local garage sale, the bag in front has a USB connector, the Walgreen's capped drug bottle has about 10 Susan B. Anthony dollars, a gift card from Cabela's, Norwegian and Icelandic banners, a lens hiding behind a mouse, and the end of this keyboard. That is just in that small space. The rest looks just as bad. The rainy day is a good excuse to clean up the piles, but writing this is another exercise in procrastination. It's good to be good at something!

Back to the weather. Usually talking about the weather is considered small talk, but not in Northern Minnesota! It is why we get up, or not, in the morning. We had about 3 inches of rain the other day and got some good runoff from it. This is what fills up Lake Superior. It's like a bathtub filling up so slowly that you fall asleep waiting and then it overflows, but that is another story. This is what that looks like after it stops and the sun starts to come out making a weird pink color in the sky.

But then the clouds dissipate at the horizon just before sunset and light up the trees for a few minutes before the sun slowly sinks in the west.
 We did have one nice day in the sun between the rainy days and I got to enjoy it a bit. I live for the moments I get to go out and play.
  Hopefully it won't be so long until the next time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring things

So maybe I get a bit drawn in to things I can't change (re: my last entry).

 Oh, well.

Butterflies and zebras
And moonbeams and fairy tales
That's all she ever thinks about
Riding with the wind

That's about the only Jimi Hendrix tune I can almost play. The Cooker and I went out for a walk in the woods with our cameras. A few things are starting to come up, but not much flowering yet. The Painted Lady butterfly was from today, my buddy, Rune the Fjordhorse' picture was from last week before we took him to live with his sire and half brother outside of Duluth. He is too large for a normal Fjord as is his brother, but they will be an awesome driving pair. I missed the big full moon because of the cloudy weather, but got this shot a few days later in the middle of the day.

The birds are migrating back from their winter hiding places. The bugs are starting to hatch on the ponds and the warblers are starting to find them. They are really hard to get a photo of because they are small, skittish, and don't come very close. Here is what used to be a Magnolia warbler (I think) that is now referred to as a yellow-rump. I don't think it would have chosen the name change.
There was even a Baltimore Oriole at the hummingbird feeder for a few minutes this morning. Of course we have our own non-migratory birds. Which one doesn't belong in this group?
 Walking on we found where we had started up a bridge club about 10 years ago. It is about 24 feet long and I can drive our truck or tractor over it with confidence. It took a few days to build, but it should last quite a few years yet.
Until next time I bid you adieu.

Family and life

I finished Maggie's book about 6 A.M. on Thursday. It was an amazing tale of her life, so far. I am just impressed at her ability to get it all written down and organized. Some day, if I get lucky, I will get to meet her and her family. She is in a really great place in her life, physically, mentally, spiritually.

 I was conceived in Bergen Norway back in 1950, but transported in utero to America to become an American citizen before either of my parents. Life in Norway was tough back in the early part of the last  century until about 20 years after WW2. While visiting my cousins in the mid 60's I remember climbing around on the German bunkers on the mountains around Bergen. It was hard, as a kid, to imagine what went on there only twenty some years before.

My father, Otto, got to spend some time in the country visiting relatives when he was a boy back in the 1920's and 1930's. Here is a picture from that era with his younger brother, Audun, and a young girl called Alma. I always thought this was a cool pic from up on a mountain farm.
  I found out about fifteen years ago that I could have applied for Norwegian citizenship up until about my 21st birthday. I could have had dual citizenship like several of my cousins. Travel would be easier if I could afford to do it more often. Sometimes life takes you where you are without letting you take any scenic side trips. At least I got to take a few glances as I went by. I wish I could think of something clever to say about regrets (I've had a few).

Funny thing is I grew up in "the best country in the world" and I believed that for the first half of my life, but things have changed. There are empirical measurements that now show otherwise. While denial is a strong tool, it is only effective for so long. A few years back I saw that a baby born in Turkey had a better chance of survival than one born in the U.S. I could tell right away that the U.S. was in trouble. I guess the world can stop sending these, as we can no longer take care of what we have.
 "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The world has changed as it will always be destined to do. For me, it is a yearning to go to other places and drink them in. Maybe it is the viking blood in my veins or just a nagging in the back of my mind that things can be better than this. Sometimes I let the feeling take me there and at other times I just try and push it aside because of the practical realist that I have to be. It's not that I am unhappy, but just wanting a little more.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers! Without you all we couldn't be here and in reference to the latest news, breast feed your children as long as you want to, or not. It's no one else's damned business!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Of Family, Books, and Immigration

My father, Otto, wrote an autobiography over the last twenty years of his life as a gift and reminder of where my brother and I came from and some family history that has not been forgotten. I have our Icelandic genealogy that goes back to before the settling of Iceland. Some names come up that would be known to some Scandinavians from the old sagas. The accuracy is questionable when you get back more than a few hundred years, but the cultural history is the same.

It seems that most people in the U.S. barely know a family history back more than two generations and even then the details are sketchy. Maybe because we are a relatively new country. There is nothing wrong with that, but I have an interest in the lives and struggles of people in the past. History has only become more important to me since I have lived through a little of it and have seen how big the changes are, yet human needs and behaviors are not very different than they have ever been.

I haven't had as much time to read as I would like in the last year, but I have been fortunate to read some really excellent work. Laxness' Salka Valka is a rare book in English, but my library was able to borrow one from the Big City Library. This is not the Laxness work to start with, but a great novel.

I also got a hold of The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley. This coming of age story mostly takes place in Gimli, Manitoba (about a day's drive from here) and Iceland. It has Grandmothers and an "interesting" aunt, family secrets and foibles, desperation and adventure and it took me two days to read because I had other obligations. It is Ms. Sunley's first novel and I hope she writes more. I could tell you much more, but you really should read it.

Fly Away Home is the book I just started. I am scheming to get blocks of undisturbed time to devour it. Maggie Myklebust is a bit younger than I (and much better looking!),comes from the same vicinity of the U.S., and has a lot of Norwegian connections. In fact, she lives there now. Some of my neighbors here on the Scandinavian Riviera (North Shore of Lake Superior) come from the same place in Norway that she does. Maggie's family, in different combinations, went back and forth across the ocean to the area where her family was from. She remembers some wonderful detail of those years and I can't wait to find out how she got to where she is now (life is a journey, isn't it?).

 My father was Norwegian and his father, my bestefar, was born in Iceland. My Icelandic grandmother, Jakobina Jakobsdottir even wrote a short greeting to me when I was a baby. I just found it in my father's effects this year. It was like finding buried treasure. She was born in the late 1860's. My mother was British.  She died in 1954 a few months after my brother was born, but her mother (my Nana) took care of us for a few years while my father recovered from his loss and financial burdens. Both of my parents came here from a Europe that had been fairly devastated by war. My father's house had been bombed and his mother, who had never been a picture of health (tuberculosis) died from the horrid living conditions of that era. Even my aunt in England still has a tattoo on her forearm from the concentration camps. America looked like a dream to them, but they never forgot where they came from.

This morning I listened to the end of  Grieg's  Peer Gynt Suite while driving along the North Shore to town and my job. The last part of the suite is Solveig's Sang. It usually makes me misty-eyed. This morning was no exception.