Saturday, April 30, 2016

The rest of the story...

Saturday after lunch I saw about fifteen people gather up to do some singing while I decided to go for a walk. There I was in the German camp looking at stuff and realizing I was staying at the oldest of the camps.
In case you wondered how I knew this was German camp I'll show you some clues.

 There were deer around the area, also. In case they got lost there was a sign for them.

I looked around a little more before heading back to Skogfjorden enjoying the sandy soil trails that were easy on the feet. There was a sign that I didn't see coming from the other direction.

Before too long I heard something along the trail that had been indicated by the sign. A frog pond!


Of course they shut up when they saw me. I guess they didn't want me to hear what they were saying. Then back to class.

Saturday evening brought the "bankett" (banquet) . Remember those fifteen people that were singing earlier in the day? Well, when you get this many Norwegians together they like to sing. Even when sober. The amazing thing was that they were pretty darn good singers.
Anyone who had traditional garb (bunad) will wear it on Saturday evening. Everyone else could wear whatever they want, but now that I have been there I may have to bring something appropriate next time.
After the meal and singing were a couple of quick awards for a couple of folks who had been coming for twenty years. Program director Kari, gave the awards to Edith and Myron who said a few words, but mostly grinned and had fun.
Did I mention the food? It was tasty and plentiful and I didn't get a good picture of it so I lifted one from one of my fellow campers. It may give you an idea.
So much for the diet. I forgot to mention that in one of our classes we learned to read a recipe for applecake, or eplekake in Norwegian. With six people working on it there wasn't much time wasted, but the aroma wafting through the building did attract some other classes. Being the socialists that we are we just had to share.

Sunday was a drizzly day and after a good breakfast and another class it was time to head home. Five hours later I was back on the farm.

Today was the thirty third anniversary of our wedding day. A lovely day indeed. I'll start the diet again tomorrow. Ya shure, you betcha!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Otto's son goes to camp

I had a most amazing long weekend and got to do something I haven't done since I was about twelve years old. I got to go to camp! Not the backpacking in the mountains or canoeing deep into the North Woods kind of camp as I have done that as an adult. I got to go to a theme camp like kids do. It was for learning the Norwegian language. Trying to teach myself off and on for the last 20 years or so has been fairly futile and a bit frustrating. I found out about these Concordia Language Camps a few years ago, but conflicting schedules have prevented me from going until this year.

Being an older kid removes a lot of opportunities that existed in the past, so I found out they have these things for older kids or "adults" as they call them. Having lots of cousins in Norway and knowing that part of my family background the best (what with me being mostly a mutt) I thought it might be an interesting way to spend a weekend. After a five hour drive across the Iron Range and the North Woods of Minnesota I ended up in Paul Bunyan land near Bemidji
I got there and stopped in an office in one of the buildings to get my cabin assignment. I was in cabin six (seks in Norwegian which made for some stories) with two other guys where we each had a room of our own. And indoor plumbing! Woohoo!

The setting is on Turtle River Lake which is a fairly typical Northern Minnesota lake in that it is serene and scenic and surrounded by forest.

In the morning and late at night you could hear a loon calling.

I got to meet many of my fellow campers the first evening. As a new camper I felt quite welcome even though I was also a little apprehensive of being a newbie. Most of the campers were repeats and some have been coming for 20 years or more! At least I was far from being the oldest or the youngest camper.

The schedule kept us active, but not exhausted. There was breakfast and dancing (if you wanted to) in the morning to get you going with flag raising and the Norwegian national anthem sung by all, class time, coffee, class time, lunch with a short program and quick break, class time, coffee, class time, dinner, and an evening program consisting of videos, music, etc. and back to the cabin. I didn't think I was exhausted until Friday night when I don't remember if I fell asleep as my head was aiming toward the pillow or right after it landed. Apparently, both brain cells had been working to full capacity.

Saturday started out as another nice day with the loons calling in the morning and another breakfast to die for. We made up a story about a moose that ate too much lutefisk that had gone bad . I know,  how can you tell if it has gone bad when most people think it is already there? The moose, who we named Edvard, survived and drank a lot of water from a waterfall. When he went to lie down, though, he found himself hallucinating because of what he ingested. 

Then it was off to lunch. After a delicious and filling lunch we had a short program.
There was a little time before class so I took a walk. I went toward the German language camp and found it about a quarter mile down the lake. It was like coming upon a mostly deserted Bavarian village.
More to come...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Waiting impatiently

As I looked out over my kingdom I saw Ol' Blue Eyes, Dakota, outstanding in his field waiting for the snow to melt and the grass to magically appear. This was a couple of days ago and now most of that snow has melted.

We are going to be warm today at 60F (15C) and are in full meltdown! Water is running everywhere and even drowns out most of the birds chirping their territorial, mating, and nesting calls. Those calls, when properly translated, are these: "Get out of my tree!", "Pick me! Pick me!" and "Does this horsehair look better here or over there?" 

In other news, I was retrieving the eggs the other day as Stitch was out of town at meetings (they are her chickens). I am not sure if I tripped or if one of those sly birds developed a sense of humor, but nevertheless I pitched forward at an alarming rate when exiting the coop. Fortunately, I had a thick hat pulled over my face and my forward momentum was stopped by a wall, so I only hit my forehead. After the swelling went down and the bleeding stopped I looked like this.
I am still suspicious of the chickens, but can't figure out their motive. Having just started to get over a nasty head cold I felt like I had gone a couple of rounds with Muhammad Ali. That was before the bump. Maybe I should concentrate more on "left, right,left, right", so that when I am distracted I will be more likely to remain upright. At least much of the ice of winter has melted, but not all of it. Today, as I slog around in my rubber boots, I will likely land in some cold, soft mud and be less likely to injure myself. 

The Cooker gave me a nickname a long time ago when we was a-courtin'  because of my tendency to unintentionally self-injure. "Jon the Impaler" because, while I watched where my feet were going I tended not to notice where the rest of me was headed. It made for regular non-life-threatening injuries which often had entertaining stories to go with the scars. Once the first mark is there it's no big deal to get more. Similar to when you have a new car and get that first scratch on it. You just have to shrug and decide whether or not professional medical attention is required.

The important thing to remember is to keep your tetanus vaccinations up to date.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


Disappointment is not breaking or undoing an appointment. No, this is English, so it means something else entirely. According to Merriam-Webster it means:
  1. 1 :  unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen disappointment, the cookies were gone.>
  • 2 :  someone or something that fails to satisfy hopes or expectations disappointment.>
  • You see? It has nothing at all to do with appointments. You thought I was making that up, didn't you?

    No I'm not talking about personal failures of my own, and there have been a few as hard to imagine as that is. I'm not talking about all the failures of others which are nearly infinite. I am not talking about mechanical failures, structural, systemic, box-office, business, political, automotive, creative, and dozens of other types too numerous to look up or even think of.

    I am talking about an annual BIG FAILURE of Nature to deliver on it's promise of spring in a timely manner! THIS is what I am talking about!

    The second phase of disappointment is getting over it. I know it's only a temporary setback as it is only April and this can happen for at least another month. Time to suck it up and put on my big boy thong and just get on with my life. 

    One of the ways I have accomplished this nothing-less-than-great feat is to read. Lately, I have been reading some of the works of Henning Mankell, a well known, but recently deceased (October 2015 at the age of 67), Swedish writer. He had written dramas and children's books, but is probably best know for his crime novels and the character Kurt Wallander. Most of these ten or so books were written between 1991 and 2009. As police procedurals they are quite good and reflect the changing of social conditions and technology of that time period. I am nearly finished with the sixth in the series written in 1996. I love books in a series with the main character(s) growing and changing and the minor characters coming and going. References back to earlier books and events really give a series a voluminous feel.

    Mankell was a political leftist and activist, married four times and had four children. His final marriage was to Eva Bergman, Ingmar Bergman's daughter, from 1998 until his death.  He gave generously to charities.
    When I get done with his books I will look up his film and TV adaptations of Wallander stories. Hopefully, my local library can get them.
    That's another thing. I like my Kindle, but  filling it with reading material gets a little noticeable on the old wallet. I am using the library much more extensively.
    In the meantime, before I suck down the last hundred pages of The Fifth Woman I should go out and deal with the s**w in the driveway and get out the hose to top off the horses' water tanks. Before I come in and finish the laundry. And play a little guitar and have a beer. And whine some more about the weather. May your troubles be less than mine and not as deep.