Monthly Archives: August 2013

Music to my father’s ears

When I was young my father desperately wanted me to learn how to play the piano. I gave it a try but it just wasn’t my thing…

Flash forward and none of my four, plus one (stepson) seemed any more interested in playing an instrument than I did.

Then our sixth (and last!) child came along. This one was different or should I say Unique, he’s quiet and always keeps to himself. At three-years-old he was diagnosed with autism. Unable to participate in team activities, he started piano lessons. He unenthusiastically played for about three years before moving on to the guitar. A few years went by and he lost interest in that as well.

Sorry Dad, it doesn’t look like the grandkids will be playing for you either.

You can only imagine my surprise when last summer this son, now eighteen came to me and asked if he could start playing bagpipes!

Bagpipes in Norway? Who would teach him? Where would we buy them? And how much do they cost?

I calmed down when he told me he could take lessons online and we didn’t need to buy bagpipes (yet). The first step in learning to play the bagpipes is on a chanter. A chanter by itself doesn’t cost much.

He stuck with it for a whole year, didn’t lose interest and was really starting to sound good. Now convinced that he was serious, off to Scotland we went. We bought bagpipes, ordered a kilt and he attended an intensive bagpiping course in Glasgow.

That was two months ago. He practices everyday and I think he sounds great… Have a listen for yourself.

The first song is Corkhill, the second is Itchy Fingers and the third is Amazing Grace.

This is for you, Dad…

Advertisements

Somewhere above the Arctic Circle

 

IMG_0505

Every year it’s the same story… Where should we go this summer for a suntan?

The reason is simple, we live in Norway.

Here in Norway, you can never-ever count on good weather.

Not even in summer!

Most Norwegians head south but not us. We go west, towards New Jersey. The Jersey Shore is a great place to spend summer.

This year, with my granddaughter coming over from the States we decided to stay right here in Norway. We were invited to a friends place, way, way up in the top of Norway and so while everyone else was flying south, we flew north…

I promised the locals I wouldn’t give our exact location, because they don’t like tourists wandering around while they’re trying to skinny dip 😉

I will tell you this… We were above the Arctic Circle and no one was more surprised than me at how beautiful it was.

It was a perfect, Norwegian summer!

Flyers

flyers

tea-time

tea-time

This was towards the end of  july and even though the sun set, it didn't get dark

The sun would set behind the mountains but that didn’t mean it would get dark

This picture was taken after the sun set, around midnight

This picture was taken after the sun set, around midnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace and tranquility

IMG_0476

Norway at its best!

A love story

images-2

Imagine if you will –the most perfect summer day. A warm sun, a gentle breeze and a clear blue sky.

Now try to visualize –the ultimate outdoor theater. Hundreds of people sitting on a grassy hillside overlooking a natural stage set in Viking times. Behind the stage, magnificent mountains and a sparkling Norwegian fjord.

A perfect setting for the timeless and tragic legend of, Viking Hagbard and Princess Signe.

Hagbard and Signe were from the same village, played together as children and fell deeply in love as teenagers. Hagbard is sent off to war and Signe promises to wait for him. Three years later thinking Hagbard is dead, Signe’s father has arranged for his daughter to marry a Russian prince. Hagbard comes back and Signe who is still very much in love with him, refuses to marry the prince. Her father is enraged and insists she honor her commitment, for the good of the village and to protect his reputation as a leader, and man of his word.

He bans Hagbard from the village and locks Signe up. Hagbard disguises himself as a woman and sneaks into the cabin where Signe is being held. The reunited lovers make plans to escape and runaway together, but are caught in the process. A fight breaks out and many people are killed.

Hagbard is captured, tried and sentenced to hanging. A distraught and desperate Signe begs for his life, but to no avail. On the day of Hagbard’s hanging a brokenhearted Signe sets her cabin on fire and also dies.

Singne’s father is grief stricken over the death of his daughter. Her mother, who had also begged for the lovers freedom leaves him.

He is left broken and alone.

Although sad and tragic, the play was also filled with music, dance and sword fighting. There were horses and a witch. They also carried in what looked like a real lamb (my husband assures me it was not) and slit its throat as a sacrifice to the Viking God, Odin. I found myself totally seduced by the surroundings and captivated by the Norwegian history. This production, bringing both tears and smiles, was absolutely mesmerizing!

Hagbard and Signe

Hagbard and Signe

the orchestra

the orchestra, and the small cabin where Signe dies in the fire

the witch

the witch, and Hagbard dressing as a woman so he can sneak in to see Signe

the sacrifice

the sacrifice

children singing and dancing

the village singing and dancing, in happier times

Hagbards trial

Hagbards trial

Hagbard and Signe's last goodbye

Hagbard and Signe’s last goodbye

the stage

the stage

the view was as dramatic as the play

and the view, which was every bit as dramatic as the play

Saying Good-bye

DSC05330

My heart broke today…

Twenty-five years ago I made the monumental decision to take my children, leave America and live the rest of my life as an expatriate, in Norway.

When my children were small I had to send them back to the US every summer to visit their father. Putting three young children on an Airplane heading for the other side of the Atlantic was never easy for neither him, nor me. Those children are now grown with children of their own, our grandchildren. As fate would have it, three of them live in Norway and two in the US.

Three weeks ago their grandfather put the oldest one, Maren (eight years-old) on an airplane, to visit me here in Norway. Today, I sent her back to him.

While waiting at the gate this morning Maren fell asleep and before I knew it, someone from the airline had come to collect her for boarding. I woke her, took her in my arms and started to cry. I could see a line of people waiting for her to go, so they too could board (unaccompanied minors are always boarded first). I had no choice but to let her go…

I watched the beast intensely through a nearby window until every piece of luggage and passenger was onboard. Then lost sight as it was taxied away. But in my heart I could hear its mighty roar, as it whisked down the runway carrying my grandchild farther and farther away from me.

I stood there a while groping with my emotions before leaving.

Such is the life of an expat.

Finding treasure

SAMSUNG CSC

Did you know…?

Northern Norway lies above the Arctic Circle and is a wonderland of treasure…

The Northern lights illuminate the dark skies of winter, and the midnight sun provides endless days of summer.

The midnight sun also gives extra energy making it very easy to forget to go to bed at night.

A landscape of skerries, boat-houses, lapping waves and the cries of gulls ease away tension.

Would you like to see the treasures I found on my recent trip north…

boat-houses

boat-houses

sea-cabins

sea-cabins

crabs

crabs

sea urchins

sea urchins

starfish

starfish

shells

shells

coral

coral

cloudberries (moltebær)

cloudberries (multebær)

wildflowers

wildflowers

reindeer moss

reindeer moss

Nobel prize winner Knut Hamsun's childhood home

The childhood home of 1920 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Knut Hamsun

relaxation

relaxation

and the midnight sun

and the midnight sun