Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Norwegian language camp

I had so much fun last year that I had to go back and see if it was really as good as I remember.
It was.

I arrived at camp after they had received about 3 or 4 inches of fresh snow. Here in Minnesota we call that Spring. It started to melt the next day and by Saturday it looked like this when I walked to the main hall (Gimli) from my cabin (Bodø).
For breakfast we had koldtbord which looks like this.
We started out each day raising the Norwegian flag and singing the national anthem.

We had a morning class and afternoon class of about two hours each. This year my teacher was Arna who lived in Norway for fifteen years and is quite a good singer and artist. Here she is (foreground) singing with Kari, the program director, and Christine, who is also a wonderful teacher and singer.
We had evening programs that were either presentations about places, or poets, or family stories, and other themes of Norwegian culture. For the Saturday night banquet we had a wonderful meal of torsk (cod), potatoes, vegetables, breads, and dessert  which included some delicious homemade krumkake brought in by Ole just for the occasion.

Here are Sven and Ole (or Craig and George) with Ole standing on the fireplace hearth in order to be at the same height.
Here they are dancing with Lisa and Becky.
Dinner was delicious. My Carlsberg is the green beer bottle in the front of the picture.
songs and readings were given after dinner.

Our group of 10 sang a silly song in the Trondelag dialect. The first three verses are known, but we decided to make up a fourth verse which contained a bit of adult content. People were just about falling out of their chairs with laughter. When we finished and the audience recovered Kari went back to the front with an appalled look that she was able to hold onto for at least a minute. I hope someone recorded it as I would like to see how we did appear.

We had a few breaks and I would either take a nap or go for a walk. The walks were nice as it was delightful to hear the loons calling and feel the warmth of the spring sun. Ian, our token Floridian, found a patch of snow and threw more snowballs than I did all winter. I'm sure he needed a story to tell when he got home. Here is Ian on the right with the Paul Bunyan beard and hat.
Here are some photos from my walk.

It was a sad thing to have to leave on Sunday and I plan on going back again next year. Listening to the language, the stories, and hearing the laughter does wonders for the human soul. I feel so fortunate to be able to take a few days and go do this immersion that I understand why some of my fellow campers have been coming for more than twenty years. It is wonderful to see old friends and make new ones.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring around the farm

It is a good thing that I love spring. We have had it at least four times this year, so far. One of these days it will stick. No, really, I am sure of it. Look at the signs! The nuthatches are trying to fatten up for nesting season.
The ice went off the ponds last week and there is life coming back to them. This guy was out for a swim.
There are still some reminders of what was just recently waiting for us outside. Here is snow in the woods and snow in a protected (from the sun) corner of a pasture.

Sadly, I found what we had called "the mother of all birches" fell over this winter. She had been clinging to life and giving shelter and life to so many for so long. She was about 12 feet in circumference, but not too tall, and she stubbornly clung to life. We watched that struggle for well over twenty years, but now it is time for her to nourish the next generation. Her broken stump is about 10 feet (three meters) tall.

 Recently we have had nearly summer-like temperatures, but a cold front swings in two days later and we wake up to this:
It's a sobering slap in the face. At least it melts within a few days. The buds on the trees are starting to swell up and the rest of the vegetation is showing some green and other signs of life after six months of dormancy.

Very soon I go off to language camp again where I can work on my Norwegian language skills and hang out with the other kids who range in age from about 18 to 85. If the ice is out on that lake I am hoping the loons will serenade me to sleep with their haunting song. There are miles of trails there so I can walk off all the delicious food we get to eat.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Smashing Pottery

It has been a quiet couple of weeks here in Lake Wobegon Grand Marais. The snow and ice are melting and the birds are trickling in from their wintering grounds. Everything is brown and gray except the evergreen trees and sometimes the sky, but mostly brown and gray and squishy.

I saw an ad on our local Facebook sell and swap page. It was put there by my pottery instructor from last fall and read

ISO Potters who want to get rid of some ugly pots. 4 p.m. Sat, at Betsy Bowen's pottery slam!!!
FREE - Grand Marais, MN

We're going to smash them outside Betsy's at the Poetry and Pottery Slam. Free! Fun!
ISO Potters who want to get rid of some ugly pots. 4 p.m. Sat, at Betsy Bowen's pottery slam!!!
I thought this might be fun so I went and found a few items that I couldn't give away and an unfinished item from the Art Colony.
I got there just before 4 and there were a few people gathering outside the residential gallery. Apparently, the poetry reading and hors d'oeuvres had already happened mostly, but I was just there to get rid of some junk. My instructor and another local potter had bought a fair amount of items and there were some odds and ends from that studio. About a dozen people were there for the fun.

There is a very large rock, about 5'x5' x10 exposed above ground and it looked like a fine target to hit. Before I go any farther, let me just say that I have never had a strong throwing arm. It's good for a lot of other things, but throwing was never a strong point. Well, I don't want to brag, but I looked like a Major League Baseball pitcher compared to everyone else. From about 15 feet away that isn't very difficult. Fortunately, one of the other potter's brought a small hammer to finish off pieces that were just wounded or had survived intact.

A good time was had by all and I hope the remains of the shards found there way to a new mosaic project. A five gallon bucket full was all that was left.

I stole this picture from Joan, my instructor.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Everyone Knows it's Windy

A week or two ago we had a bit of wind. Gale force wind, actually, with gusts up to 66mph (106kph) and sustained winds that put us at a full gale. I did not go out in the worst of it because I have responsibilities, but I still like a good show and minimal risk.

As I recall it started on an otherwise pretty nice day with temperatures slightly above freezing. The temperature dropped below freezing overnight and stayed there for over a week. There was a little ice buildup around the shore that stayed for most of that week.

It started off easy with the lake starting to get riled up.

Even the harbor couldn't hold back all of it and our downtown area got a little wet. That was on the way to work in the morning. Later, after work, I went to the Rec Park to see how things were progressing.

 A few more shots around the harbor.

  Aftermath. There was English 101. Sorry.

Around the harbor nearly a week later.

 That is a cropped shot of the one above it.
It was really difficult to attempt to walk on that ice and I'm not as graceful when falling down as I used to be. I used to be able to say, "I did that on purpose," and folks would believe me. Now when that happens I moan and groan as soon as I regain consciousness and folks ask if they should call an ambulance. It depends on the size of the pool of blood, I guess.

Stopping on the way home from work to look at the remnants of the wind and spray was worthwhile, too.

Just another week along the shores of Gitchigumi.