Monday, December 23, 2013

History Channel's Vikings

It's nice to have some quiet down time. I'm all caught up on Lilyhammer and so now I'm watching a different TV series, the History Channel's Vikings. The story, soon to start its second season, follows the life of Ragnar Lothbruk, a viking farmer and warrior who becomes an explorer leading raids across the ocean to the west. It is also the story of his family and friends and what happens to their culture as it comes into contact with new civilations across the sea.

It is a violent program that shows how short and brutal life was in these times. I've been fascinated by this excellent production and highly recommend it.

Oh yeah, the fjords are gorgeous as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Boy's choir at Nidarosdomen

We got tickets to the Christmas concert at the cathedral as a gift. Concerts in the cathedral are awesome. The building itself inspires awe, and then the acoustics are really exceptional. Gave me shivers!

The show was an hour, featuring an orchestra, a violinist, the Trondheim Solonistene choir, and the Trondheim Guttekor (boy's choir). This was an excellent was to get further into the Christmas spirit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


We celebrated solstice today, a good viking tradition but we celebrate it our way. We took a nature walk, along the fjord this year because it was so warm. Indy came with us and went swimming. At home we ate a good meal of Thai food, opened some presents, and lit some candles and sang songs. Then Pam gave us all matching jammies! Blue and fuzzy with hoods and boots. Very comfortable. We wore them all night and the next day too. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We attended Trøndelag Teater's production of the Nutcracker last night. I had expected the standard Nutcracker story, music, dance etc. I was pleasantly surprised that we got something entirely different. The story was a funny musical, full of Norwegian cultural jokes and references. The costumes were superb, especially the rats who were very creepy. We gasped again and again at the dramatic scene changes. The songs were fun, and included a bit where the house servants do a medley of songs and dances from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

Oh so fun! And sold out for the rest of the year. We are always impressed with Trondheim theatrical, music and dance productions.

Here's one picture from my own camera and a few more from the theater's website:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Warm and windy

The snow is all gone. It's been warm and raining. Very weird for Norway in December. Many Norwegians are beside themselves – they want to ski!

Along with the warm weather there have been strong storms. Thursday night I flew from Stavanger to Trondheim. We circled Trondheim in the airplane for 30 minutes, hoping the wind would stop so we could land. No such luck. The plane flew back to Stavanger and I had to catch a morning flight instead.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snow snow snow! And Christmas is coming...

We got about a foot of snow. After a very mild and snow-free autumn, the winter weather finally let loose. There was minor chaos at the Oslo airport on Friday as airport along the west coast were shutting down because of storms. I made it back to Trondheim okay, arriving to lots and lots of snow. It's still novel, and thus fun. I think in about 6 weeks it won't be nearly as much fun.

Today we got our Christmas tree and unpacked decorations. We decorated the tree to Chirstmas songs and hot glogg, a traditional holiday drink.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Anna's recital

Anna's getting pretty good at piano. She loves it, practices a lot, and it shows. She played her third recital of the week, this time at Olavskvartelet. It was a good concert!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Eddy and Marii visit

My friend Eddy visited from America, bringing with him his new wife Marii. I haven't seen Eddy in years and years and years, but we've kept in touch. It was just like old times. We had a wonderful weekend, despite the cold, wet, dark and dreary weather.

Eddy and Marii – come back again! Next time during the summer!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wind storm

We had a HUGE wind storm that shook the house. The next day our trampoline was gone. It had flown over two fences into our neighbor's yard, where it landed upright and intact.

We decided to just take it apart and put it away for the season.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chess fever

Chess fever has gripped Norway! An unprecendented number of Norwegians are tuning in to watch young chess star Magnus Carlsen compete in the World Chess Championship. Magnus, just 22 years old (23 next week), is currently the world's best chess player. His fame brought him a deal modeling clothing, which made for a funny moment when Maggie came home from school as asked me if I knew what was happening in Norway with chess. She went on to explain that a 22-year old clothing model has become the world's champion chess player. It sounds funny when you say it like that!

Here is a typical scene from Norwegian TV right now… the news program is running in the main window, and on the side they are keeping the population up to date with the latest moves in the championship. So when they're not featuring the chess match, they're still showing it. I've never seen anything like this national craze, not even with the Olympics.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Selling a car for scrap

Time to get rid of our old car. We bought it for 15.000 kroner two years ago, and it's been pretty good. Lately, it only starts about 2 out of 3 times, so that's not good. The solenoids need repair. And the speedometer doesn't work anymore. Oh, and it's waaaayyyy overdue for a timing belt, and it' the kind of car that if the timing belt goes, the whole engine is destroyed. There's also front end damage from an icy road incident last year involving a signpost. There's other stuff wrong too, but that's the important things.

To get this car in shape to sell it would cost 12.000 kroner. That's not even including fixing the body damage, and we could not recoup that money on a sale. I decided we just sell it as is for 3000 kroner, with full disclosure, and call that good. Maybe someone wants a cheap time-bomb.

Pam suggested we find out selling it for scrap. So I asked around and found out that scrap companies will pay 3000 kroner for any car, even if it doesn't work. So, no fuss no muss, no ads, no test drives. We drove it down to the scrap yard and got three 1000 kroner bills. I tried to get more for it because it runs nicely. The scrapyard owner tried to get me to buy a car and/or a GPS system. Neither one of us was successful.

The owner is a man named Ragnar who rides a Harley and calls himself a viking. He was quite a charming and eccentric character, wanting to show us his 800 pictures from his ride across America on Route 66 last summer. We let him show us 200 pictures of Graceland before politely telling him we must get back to the city. Pam laughed at me, claiming I have a knack for being a magnet for strange characters. Thinking of my friends… I guess that's kind of true!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


We have Netflix now and I started watching Lilyhammer yesterday, a series about a mafia boss who moves to Lillehammer to hide out and ends up resuming his old habits. I've had many people recommend the show to me and I'm surprised I've taken so long to start watching.

I am absolutely charmed. The Norwegian culture is well-captured, maybe a little exaggerated at times, but everything is very familiar. The Norwegians in the show speak mostly Norwegian (subtitled of course) and Jonny replies in English. Quirky, funny, original. I'm hooked.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New electric car

We bought a new car. A 2013 Nissan Leaf. Red.

It's cool. And fast. And red. And 100% electric.

Norway has the most electric cars per capita in the world. They are so popular that it took 9 weeks for our car to arrive. Norway is really pushing electric; they're giving lots of incentives for people to buy them. There is no yearly registration fee (which is expensive), parking is free, tolls on the highway are free, ferries are free, you can drive in the taxi/bus lanes, and there are free public charging stations everywhere.

Pam is very happy to finally have a "grown-up" car.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happiest countries

I just clicked on a news article about rankings of the happiest countries. Scandanavian countries always score high. It was nice to see Norway took first place this year on the 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween party

Norways are split on Halloween. Younger folks and kids love it! Many older folks are cynical, viewing it as a way for stores to make a lot of money on an imported, non-tradiational event. I try to remind folks that it simply is a lot of fun, has always been one of my favorite 'holidays', and absolutely does not need to cost much money.

Pumpkins, however, do cost a lot. Last year we paid about 200 kr. per pumpkin I think ($30), but this year a lot of stores are selling them cheaper. We found them for 39,. (about $7), a good price.

On Sunday we went to a big Halloween party some of friends have thrown every year for 17 years. It's a big to-do, with themed food, costume competition, bobbing for apples, pinata, crafts, etc. About 40 people come each year.

Here's most of our family on our way to the party (minus Peter, plus Frøy, our "other daughter"):

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frosty fall colors

Frost on the fallen leaves. Gorgeous today. (In a week or two these will all be brown and ugly but today – wow!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First snow

The first snow of the season came to Trondheim yesterday. Peter sent me a text from school "IT'S SNOWING!" and another friend sent me a picture of a snow-covered field. This morning we have frost on the grass and leaves.

Norwegians are excited about the snow, me... not so much. But it did hold off a long time. Temperatures are forecast to be between 4°-13°C this week, so we've still got plenty of "warm" weather ahead.


Our friends were playing again at Cafe Rampa in Hommelvik last night, so we joined them for a fun evening of music and dance. This is the third time we've caught their show, and it's just gotten better each time.

Here's Pam and Lena and Sharon dancing while Robert plays and sings on stage:

One song that they played that I liked quite a bit was Vinsjan på Kaia, a song by Trønder group DDE (Trønderock is a rock music from our part of Norway). It's always an amazing feeling to be half-way around the world from my homeland, immersed in this society dancing with friends to local music that I would never ever ever hear otherwise. Here's a little slice (with lyrics so you can appreciate the difference between local dialect and bokmål):

There's not much deep meaning in the lyrics, it's the tradition of a lot of Norwegian folk music where they're describing something rather mundane. Maggie jokes that the songs are kind of like: "Then I saw a bird, and and old lady sat down on a chair." Still, great melody and feeling in this song.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Slow TV in Norway

Here's great article from the Chicago Maroon on slow TV in Norway... live coverage of the 8-hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo, live video of a 5-day ferry boat trip in the northern fjords, 8 hours of wood burning in a fireplace, and the upcoming special on November 1st: 5 hours of people knitting.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Seigdamer return!

Seig Damer, the jelly candies shaped like ladies, have returned! They were our favorites last year, appearing only in a real-fruit-juice variety. Then they disappeared. Now they are back in traditional Seigmenn style, sugar-coated sugary jelly, under the name "Deilige Damer" (Tasty Ladies). Not as good as the fruit juice version, in my opinion. But they still have boobs. And that can't be bad.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ticket to Ride

We played the board game Ticket to Ride for the first time a couple of weeks ago and had to get a copy ourselves. Actually, we got two copies, the America version and the Scandanavia version. Changes in the rules make both games interesting for different reasons – the Scandanavia version is great for 2-3 people and the America is great for 4-5.

The best part of the Scandanavian version: Trondheim is on the map!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall break at the hytte

This will probably be our last visit to the "our" hytte in Stordalen. The owner is switching to renting it out for a year at a time, at a rate that is more than we can afford given the number of visits we would make. But we did have one last rainy week at the hytte up in Åfjord, about two hours north of Trondheim across the fjord in Nord-Trondelag.

It was an easy few days of poking at the fire, playing guitar and board games, reading stories, playing "monster" and walking in the woods.

Here's a few pics...

Maggie led the charge to run across the river!

Anna found a deep spot on the way back. Chilly! This is Norway in October remember!

The kids built pillow and blanket fortresses of course.

Dinner cooked in the fireplace never tastes better!

 Driving to Stokkøya

We pass huge fish drying racks

And a scrap iron yard

Dodging waves on the beach at Stokkøya

And a few happy family pictures...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Starbucks in Trondheim

Just opened, Trondheim's first Starbucks. Yay, or ewwwwww?

Friday, September 27, 2013

A bird in the hand

Our cat Sjoko brought Maggie a gift... a bird.

The bird was mangled, bleeding, and lying very still in shock. We fetched the hamster cage from the garage and the girls made the bird a nice clean bed, gave her seeds and water, and set the cage in a safe and warm place. Anna named her "Tina".

"Is she going to live?" Anna asked.

"Probably not," we told her. "But at least she can be comfortable and know that she is being taken care of. And that's important."

The next morning, Tina was flapping all around her cage! The kids released her in the backyard and she flew up into the tea garden, where immediately a huge magpie swooped in to attack. ("Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!" (anyone know the quote?)) I ran up the hill throwing rocks at the Magpie. Magpie flew away, Tina disappeared into the trees, and Anna stopped screaming. Good luck Tina!

Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Green with red becomes red with green

Pam's been painting the house little by little. It's getting there. The neighbors, bless their souls, seem more amused than annoyed!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend at the hytte

Pam and I stayed the night with friends at the beauitful cabin on a fjord about 2 hours west of Trondheim. We made our own sushi and fish soup and drank wine and danced until late. The next morning we went boating on the fjord and saw some local sights. It was fascinating to hear stories from the past about the communities around this fjord, a real slice of local lore and history that we wouldn't get anywhere else.

We visited two islands out on the fjord, one with a public park and the other to visit another cabin with other friends who were visiting.

It was a great visit: good friends, good food and good times.

Anne, Pam and Gerd making sushi

On the menu for tonight!

Dancing to "What does the fox say?"

The view outside the door when I woke up

Churchyard and cemetery on the fjord

Windmills on Hitra


This building is floating!

Arriving at the second island

View from our other friends' cabin