My Norway box is full today

Lots of Norwegian stuff going on (for the six of us who look for that sort of thing).

Most prominently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee just announced they’ve nominated Al Gore for the Peace Prize.

Because of all the wars he’s stopped, I guess. Maybe world leaders watching An Inconvenient Truth fell asleep, and the shooting stopped while they snored.

Or something.

Yesterday a Norwegian cruise ship managed to run aground in Antarctica. This is extremely embarrassing for sailors from a maritime country. I note that the name of the captain is not listed. Because of that I choose to believe that the captain is probably a Portuguese. Or a Greek.

As far as I know, Norwegians don’t actually sail ships anymore. They just own them.

Alternatively, I blame Socialism.

It’s kind of handy, being a Norway-phile. When they do something good, I’ll tell you it’s because Norwegians are great.

When they do something embarrassing, I blame Socialism.

[By the way, Brother Baal got in a good one at our Christmas feast. We were eating lefse, a wonderful Norwegian bread-thing made of potatoes (at least most of the time in this country), kind of like a soft tortilla. Most people eat it with sugar, either brown or white. Brown is the tradition with us.

I noted (for the umpteenth time) that I like mine with strawberry jam. “And,” I pointed out, “I once got lefse with strawberry jam in Norway!”

“That’s because of Socialism,” said Baal.


On a somber note, Cousin Andreas is dead.

Cousin Andreas was a descendent of my great-grandfather’s sister, who took over the family farm with her husband. He lived in the house where my great-grandfather was born. He worked, if I remember correctly, as a heavy equipment operator (it’s even harder to make a living as a small farmer over there than it is here).

He had been, at one time, a world class competitive marksman.

He was also totally deaf, as is his widow. They met at a deaf school in Trondheim.

My most vivid memory of him comes from the visit he and his wife paid to America several years ago. It was the first time any Norwegian relative from that side of the family ever came over to the land of Indians and gangsters.

It fell to me, as the only Norwegian speaker in the family under 70, to be their tour guide. You won’t be surprised to know that I was pretty stressed over how I would shepherd a pair of deaf people around, relying on their lip-reading skills in Norwegian.

It proved in the event to be a delightful experience. Andreas and his wife were old travelers. They traveled all over the world, and refused to let the fact that they couldn’t hear in countries where they didn’t know the language slow them down. They charged enthusiastically into every situation, relying on the kindness of strangers, and if something went badly they didn’t beat themselves up over it.

In other words, they were the opposite of me. And that’s always bracing.

A special memory is from when we visited Brother Moloch and his family in Iowa. The first evening, Moloch’s wife (who is a splendid person) came into the living room with The Youngest Niece. They pulled chairs up directly in front of the sofa, facing Andreas and his wife. They raised their hands and began to communicate.

It was like a comedy episode. It was like a game of charades. It was a hoot. We were all laughing ourselves silly before we were done. The communication was bumpy, but extremely effective.

I hope to go back to Norway this summer, but I won’t get to see Cousin Andreas again.

I’m sad about that.

4 thoughts on “My Norway box is full today”

  1. Lesson number 1. Never eat Lefsa with sugar; this is something only decadent americans do. We here in canada couldn’t imagine such a thing. Butter only. (Of course I’ve never been to Norway, so I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

    p.s. I’ve just finished reading the second volume of the adventures of our philologist friend **** (the german) by Alexander Mcall Smith (Something about a sausage dog) and he gets invited to give some lectures on a cruise ship… where he’s attacked by wealthy middle aged divorcees and widows. (They want to marry him of course.) As I was listening to the tapes I was thinking “hmm, maybe Lars could whip up a lecture or two and offer his services 🙂

  2. Philologist friend?

    I was warned about the predatory women before I did my first cruise lecture gig. All the passengers on both my cruises have been retired couples. Not a single woman to be found. Probably different in the Caribbean.

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