Tag Archives: Sons of Norway

A Cambridge education

Photo credit: Ann Bergum Saterbak

Quite a weekend. A real Viking weekend, in the sense that a real Viking weekend consists of unloading a heavy boat, dragging it and carrying all its cargo over a Russian portage, and then loading it all up again. I’ll stipulate that the real Vikings were stronger than me and worked harder, but it was a pretty grueling time for an old man who lives by the keyboard.

The Viking Age Club and Society was invited to set up an encampment at the Isanti County Fair in Cambridge, Minnesota (not to be confused with Cambridge, England, which had its own Viking problems a thousand years ago). The local Sons of Norway lodge, known as Rumelva (Rum River) Lodge, invited us to come, bring our Viking boat, and set up for the public. They paid good money for our presence, and provided generous help in getting us set up and torn down.

They also wanted Viking fights. As it turned out, only one of the young fighters was available that weekend. Which meant that, as it takes two to tango, an old fighter had to step into the gap. And that old fighter was me.

Photo credit: Ann Bergum Saterbak

I can’t complain about the results. I won most of my matches, against a young man recently out of the military. Of course it helped that I was wearing full armor for the first set – helmet, gambeson, mail shirt, and fighting gloves. (Omitted the mail the second time around.) And he had only helmet and gloves.

But it was hot. And humid. Adrenaline took me through the fights, but afterward I was fairly well drained – literally. I’d brought a good supply of water, and I drank it all up. Added some salt too. Even begged some potato chips off the nice ladies at the food stand. And I took a little nap in the Viking bed we had in one of the tents in between bouts.

I’m too old and fat for that kind of nonsense.

On the other hand, if I’d died on the field of honor, I’d be revered by every reenactor in the world. So there’s that. No downside, really.

I sold a fair number of books. Not great, but it could have been worse. Traffic was kind of disappointing – the lodge people said they’d been promised advertising that never happened. More than one person happened by and was surprised to learn there were Vikings there at all.

Still, it was a stimulating weekend, one I won’t soon forget. I hope the Rumelva Lodge people don’t regret their investment in us. I’ll do it again next year if we’re invited.

But I hope younger men will do the fighting.

Man of leisure, about town

Monday was for translation work and my novel. Tuesday was just the novel. Today was the Sons of Norway International Convention, held in a hotel down in Bloomington, not far from the Mall of America. I was not a delegate, but a volunteer.

I wore my Viking clothes. Greeted people at the door. Sold books (I’m almost out of Viking Legacy, which is suffering a bottleneck at the source right now). Stood in the sun for about an hour, showing people what path to take to get to the light rail line, for an outing to the big new stadium.

I think I was in violation of the law when I did that, because I was wearing my Viking scramasax, which exceeds the legal length for a sharp blade. Though I’m not entirely sure whether I was on a public street or hotel property. However, the cops who drove by didn’t hassle me. No doubt it was due to my dangerous, intimidating appearance.

Tomorrow, back for more of the same.

Exhausting for an avoidant, but I shall persevere. What does not kill me makes me very, very tired.

A man of leisure

I’m taking a week off from work. Having lost my job, effective the end of the month, I have vacation time left I’ll never use. So I’m using some. This is also the week of the Sons of Norway convention, here in town (starts tomorrow). Although I’m president of my lodge, I successfully avoided becoming a delegate. I did agree, however, to help in greeting people (who wouldn’t want to be greeted by an avoidant curmudgeon?), and to make some chocolate chip cookies for the hospitality suite.

Yesterday I made the cookies. I’m pretty good at this; used to make them all the time. But it’s been a while now. I forgot one basic element of the procedure – you mix up the wet stuff in the big bowl, and then stir in the dry stuff from the smaller bowl. I got that backwards, with the result that I poured the wet stuff into the flour mixture and had to mix that up. It came out OK, but I judge these cookies a tad mealy.

But hey, I’m giving them away for free. And Norwegians are too polite to complain.

Also, I got a little boost yesterday. Heard from the movie translation company in Norway after months of radio silence. They threw me enough work to fill up the rest of the day.

Occasional freelance translation jobs won’t replace my library position. But it was an encouragement, and the timing couldn’t have been better, from the morale point of view.

Well spoken

An unanticipated good time. That was what I had last night.

Well, a good time by my rather low standards.

The first thing that needs to be understood was that I felt lousy. It’s become my custom to get a very bad cold in the spring, and then again in the fall. These colds invariably plunge into my lungs and there, in the darkness, foment sedition and unrest. In the end I generally have to go to the doctor for antibiotics. Which, of course, mess up my digestion.

I was in the midst of that cycle, having started sniffing and coughing several days ago. Yesterday I took the day off work and went to my doctor for my bread mold prescription.

But I was worried about the Lecture. Months ago I’d agreed to lecture, on May 1, to Fjell Syn Lodge of the Sons of Norway, in Mounds View, Minnesota. My subject would be the Viking Sagas. I’d lectured to them before, a year ago, and they treated me well. I wanted to do right by those good people.

My fear was that I’d cough through the presentation, spread contagion to immune-suppressed attendees, and be so hoarse I’d be unintelligible.

The weather was miserable. It was one of those chill spring evenings when winter is still holding on, and having run out of snowballs to throw at you, just spits. I wore a heavy parka over my Viking costume going to and from the car. All nature seemed to portend failure and miserable death.

Instead, it went quite well. The audience was appreciative, and seemed to understand when I needed to pause now and then for a sip of water. There are times when you just resonate with a crowd – they laugh in all the right places, and longer than you expected. They nod and smile and you know they’re following with interest and pleasure. This was one of those nights. I enjoyed it a lot, and hope they ask me back yet again.

Plus, several of them bought books, which is impressive when you’re dealing with a group you’ve sold books to before.

Thank you, Fjell Syn Lodge!

I even felt better today (went back to work, sort of on a flyer), and I give them the credit.