Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oslo fjørd

My mom recently asked why there aren't more pictures of the fjørd in my pics. In other words, why are your pictures more fun? Well, to be truthful, while it seems like I'm on some great vacation, I actually 'work' more than I get to see the sights. I am on a great adventure, but mostly my life is the same strange life of a pastoral intern.

But, never fear, I did take some time to get some pics of the Oslo fjørd for you. The lives of Norwegians, generally, don't revovle around their job as much as in the United States. As a result, people don't work quite so much, enjoy more time with their families, and spend more time out walking and enjoying the weather when it is nice. This is what happened last Saturday. We had one of our first sunny days in awhile. So, everyone was out strolling and enjoying the sunshine.

So, I sat and read my book for awhile, watched the toddlers run about, and enjoyed the sun. Funny thing though, when you take pictures of the fjørd in the sun, it actually looks dark! The sun was shining right at me in these pics, I suppose shining on the side of the boats that was not exposed to me. Oh well, here are some pics from the waterfront.

And, you can even buy freshly caught fish on Saturday mornings! Want to hold a shrimp party? You are set!
But, really, the fjørd sneeks up on you, more often than not. The church is only about 4 blocks from the water, but there is no beach or waterfront, so it doesn't even register that we are close to the water (except when the ferry boat blows its horn every day at 2pm! Can you spot the fjørd in this picture? This is right near the church.
Or here? This is from above the National Theatre train station. If you come visit me, this is where I will meet you after you take the train from the airport!
But, you can also seek out amazing views of the Oslo fjørd. So, on Monday - my day off - I took the train (t-banne) up to Frognersteren, past the ski jump, ot the top view. I tried to hike around a bit, to see what I could see. But amazing how what we learn in science is really true. While there is no snow in downtown Oslo - where I live - about half way up the hill / mountain, snow started to appear. At the top of Frognersteren, there was at least a foot of snow and much ice. Most people who were going to explore had brought their cross-country skis and just hopped off the train and into their skis and away they went. (Yes, paradise for skiers. Not so much for me on foot. Oop, slippery!) So, back to the train I went. But not without some pictures first.

Check out the flying dragons on this house! I think it might actually be a nice restaurant, but the slippery icy trail prevented me from finding out.
Really, the dramatic scenes of the fjørd are not in Oslo. For it to be dramatic, you need to be high above the fjørd. But, its still a strange experience for me to be basically right next to the sea, but it only looks like a lake. The wonders of nature!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Goings On

My mom recently told me that I couldn't talk about the weather anymore. I'm sure that she will now tell me "no more knitting". Maybe I'm a bit obsessive compulsive, but maybe its just that my life tends to focus on certain things at certain times (or maybe I lead a very boring life). The funny thing is that when I'm actually trying to focus on something in the moment (like reading a textbook), I can't. I will read or do the task at hand for 15 mn or if I'm lucky a half hour, and will then have to do something else. So this general blog focus on one area is quite strange for me.

So, after that long and confusing preamble, I have some more knitting fun to share. The Norwegian mittens are coming along, but will most likely be too small for me, so some lucky person may receive these as a gift at some point. I hope you like them! I hope they turn out.

The new knitting creation is actually much more simple, and is also norwegian. Here in Norway, it seems that just about everyone wears "pulsevarmerne", which translates, as you can probably guess to pulsewarmers, or wristwarmers. Most people wear these under their coats, with sweaters, all the time. Its like an extra warmer, that I'm told really works! I always thought, oh, I don't need those. Plus, they'll make my arms look chunkier, I don't need more bulk at my wrists. That's the skinniest part of my arm. (I learned long ago from Trinny and Susannah that for those of us with sausage type arms, we are not to wear bulkiness on our wrists.)

But, one day I saw one of the high schoolers wearing some that were quite light and airy looking (not heavy and bulky. She looked so great. It was like she was wearing funky knitted bracelets instead of pulsevarmerne. So, I decided that yes, I would give these pulsevarmerne a go. I had been accumulating wristwarmer knitting patterns and had bought some great sparkly yarn while in Turkey. I decided to combine the two and make some fun wristwarmers that hopefully wouldn't give me chunky wrists. Or, if that did happen, these pulsevarmerne would be so cool that I just wouldn't care (shh, don't tell Trinny and Susannah, or Stacy and Clinton).

Last night I finished the little sewing bit that I had been putting off, and the new fabulous pulsevarmerne are now completed. I can now have warm wrists like many Norwegians!
OK, so yes, they just look like wings laying on the chair like that. But look how sparkly they are! oh my! But, never fear, here's a pic of them actually warming my wrists.
P.S. If you are a fellow knitter and would like the pattern, you can get it for free here. Somehow the bottom portion of mine came out a little different, not sure what I did. But, they are very easy. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Norske strikking

Since the time I saw my first pair of norwegian mittens, I have wanted to learn how to knit in such beautiful designs and they keep your hands warm! But, alas, I always figured it would be too hard for little ole' me who so loves to knit scarves! Knit mittens? And knit a fancy little design. Oh my! Plus, it requires a different technique right? Oh my! No way could I even desire such a skill, let alone learn to knit in the Norwegian tradition. (These are not my mittens by the way, just an example for you to gaze on.)

But, somehow I am learning. To my amazement, many people here do actually wear the Norwegian style mittens with all sorts of designs. To my surprise, many people know how to knit these designs and even read the patterns that look so complicated to me. Maybe its this great cloud of Norwegian witness who surround me in my knitting, or maybe its my feable lenten attempt not to watch tv. (I'm failing at this by the way, but I am watching less tv!).

The pattern book I am using is called "Selbuvotter: Biography of Knitting Tradition". These mittens originated in an area of western Norway, in a town called Selbu. So, these mittens are known as 'Selbu mittens' or Selbuvotter in Norwegian. Anyway, there are several different designs and ways to create the mitten or glove. I have chosen one that has a modified double star. (The traditional Selbu mitten is a star pattern.) Mine should look similar to the picture to the right when I am finished.

But of course mine will not be black and white. Traditionally these mittens are knit in neutral colors of black, white, brown, gray, and sometimes light blue. In fact, the only ones I have seen knit in any colors are knitted by people in the USA. Interesting...

So, in just two days, I have finished the cuff of my first mitten! Yeah!! I only had to start over twice, after messing up the pattern on my very first row. Then I did something wrong again the second time, don't remember what though. But, since then I have been progressing swimmingly!! Oh, look at that great work of crafty-ship.

So far I have just used the little cuff pattern, not so intimidating, not too terrible. But now I get to start on the hand portion, following the great big gigantic knitting diagram.

OK, I can do this. Its just a diagram. Just one row at a time. Let's hope this goes well. If not, I suppose I now know how to make fancy wristwarmers!

P.S. I was just cruising around on the internet looking at various Selbu mittens and found a web company based in California that sells what they say are authentic Selbu mittens that are still knitted in Selbu. They sell for $50-$70 for regular mittens and gloves. Not to mention the $100 love mittens which I think are so fun.
Now, mine will most likely not be as fabulouso as those knit by the Selbu women who have been knitting mittens forever. But, my goodnes, that's a lot of money! So, if you think you might receive a pair of these for Christmas (or if you ever receive a knitted gift from anyone), I am commanding you to be appreciative, even if you don't like them, darn it! Be kind to knitters everywhere! Look how much money we could make if we would only sell all our strange projects (oh, don't we wish!).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not liking lent

I don't like lent anymore. Funny how things seem to flip around when one becomes a pastoral person, with all those pastoral responsiblities. I used to love the Wednesday evening community gatherings for worship and maybe some education time and of course food. I used to love that lent felt more focused. I used to love Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter (well, I have loved Easter recently, but not while a youth director coordinating a massive Easter Breakfast). Notice, I say 'used to'. But, I may again love them. This too shall we used to say in my seminary apartment.

(By the way, I have no pics of my lenten journey, so here are some random pics for you. Caption: I got my haircut!)

This week I am drained. I know ya'll want to know my fun adventures in Norway, that I'm on some great long-term vacation. But, in reality I get to live out a true Pastor person lenten season. I am tired.

It started even before lent when we had to get the lenten devo book ready and I got to spend some time with the the not-so-upbeat writings of Jermiah. Last week when 2 of my days were consumed with making pastoral visits to some congregation members. I love making those visits, I love being with people in their homes, to bring commuion. This is holy business and holy ground. But, it drains me of energy.

Then Saturday night I got sick. But then after my bout of sickness and instant weight-loss, I did feel better. (Caption: At a Baby Shower at church.)

Bright shiny spots are occuring though! On Sunday evening I was invited by a new Norwegian friend to her church for the Sunday evening worship service. Plus, she introduced me to a bunch of her friends. How nice not to be a person in leadership at worship! Plus, all those friendly norwegians. Amazing!

This is the humdinger week though. On Tuesday we did my Mid-Year internship evaluation at my internship committee meeting. Great review, but still time consuming and a bit of heightened sensibility. But, I did get some of the Valentine's conversation hearts to munch on! (They aren't even sold here, so bonus!!) Then, I preached last night at our midweek lenten service. Again, not excruciating, but took a lot of emotional energy. And the final straw is that I preach again this coming Sunday. Whew!

I feel like I'm walking around with an ever growing 'to do' or 'should have already been done' list. I'm reminded of a blog article by 'PeaceBang' - one of my favorite fellow clergy bloggers - entitled Ministers Wives and Ministerial Expectations in which she talks about the demands of life for clergy, particularly single clergy. But, maybe if I just let it be, maybe this tiredness can bring me back into the season of lent. Of remembering that this is not about me, but about walking with Jesus. If I don't try to hold on so tight, to always be perfect, that God will take some of my burden. To remember that ultimately, God is in control and I never will be. And I never will be perfect. (Caption: sun streaming into the sanctuary.)

Maybe this will help. But right now I'm too tired to remember all of that theologizing. Maybe lent is really living in the tiredness of life, the tiredness that Jesus probably felt on the way to the cross. I don't know. I don't mean to complain. I don't know if I like lent either.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Giving Up for Lent

I've given up watching TV for lent. I've never given anything up for lent before, so this is a new experience for me. It seems like I want to watch tv more now that I have decided not to watch it than I did when I could watch tv. But, part of why I am giving up watching tv is that I felt like I was watching too much tv, instead of immersing myself in norwegian culture. Plus, I would often watch shows from the US (reruns even), so tv was often my escape.

I just learned that our Pastor's family is also giving up TV for lent, but that they can watch on Sunday because Sundays are not techinially part of lent and are meant to be a celebration. So, I may watch on Sundays. Plus, that's when Ugly Betty is on tv here, and she's my fav!! And its the new season!! Part of me feels like this is cheating though. But, I sure am looking forward to Sunday!!

So, what to do with myself instead of plunking down in front of the tv? Well, last night I read and I knitted (something besides a scarf!) and read AND went to bed before midnight!! How amazing was that! I even woke up before my alarm went off. Last week in his sermon, Pastor K talked about lenten disciplines being about brining people into community, to bring people to focus on others. I hadn't thought of that before, but it does seem that now that I don't have tv, I am feeling somewhat more impetus to invest in some new relationships and contact people that others have told me to get ahold of. I will hopefully work on my norwegian too!

If anyone has any tips or advice on giving something up for lent, let me know. I'm a newbie at this. Only 38 more days. Only 38 more days!! Do tv shows on the computer count?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I continue to be fascinated with Norwegian weather, but even more with Norwegian snow removal, road clearing methods. I know, I know, you must be thinking, "More about the weather?? Is this girl pathalogical? Has nothing better to do? What?" Well, all those may be true, or none of them. But I am hooked. I think the real reason is that the Norwegian methods and reasoning of snow and ice clearing confound me. I just can't figure it out. This is one of those cross-cultural conundrums. So, if you have some insight, let me know. I've asked others and no one can help me.

My bewilderment reached its peak last weekend during a blitz of flippy weather. Really, it was just that the temperature was teeter-tottering up and down from the freezing point. So, it seemed that the wind would blow (figuratively, since it wasn't actually blowing) and the weather would change. One minute we had massive - yes, I mean massive. I've never seen them this big. About the size of a commuion wafer! (If you don't know what these are, get yourself to a church that continues to use these unappetizing cardboardy things, or maybe not. Just ignore your wondering and find a church with real communion bread).

And then, it would rain. Not icy rainy snow, but real rain, turning all that snow into a slushy ice fun-time! Then there were times when I didn't know what was going on. Snow? Rain? Weirdness?

The end result was grossness. Normally Norwegians walk calmly along, seemingly not worried about ice, with not a fall or a sliding shoe or car in sight. But on this night. Uff da! I saw people literally slipping off the sidewalk and scooting across the crosswalk. Here's what the intersection near near my apt. looked like.
Now, those of you from the northern climates of the US - Minnesota, Wisconsin, even Illinois - are probably thinking, like me, "ok, yucky weather, but it can be cleared off. Just call out the snowplows! Heck, they should've been out salting and sanding and clearing with the first sign of a flake." Well, you would be wrong. Here is where my cultural reasoning fails me. The Norwegian snow plows don't seem to appear until all the snow / rain / yuck has finished. The main roads seem be ok, but the sidewalks and street crossings are disgusting, slippery, and slushy. This is the road and sidewalk outside my apt and what most of the sidewalks have looked like all week here. I only almost fell once! Yippee!

So, back to the snow removal conundrum. The means of removing all the snow and ice are also fascinating. Quite often, after the snow, I hear these tractor sounds and scraping ice. Well, these would be the maneuvering snow plows! Oop, don't hit the car! Whew.
Oh, but don't worry. These don't just clean the streets, or sit outside the 7-11 while the driver grabs a midnight snack. No, they are for the sidewalks too! An all purpose snow and ice cleaner that kind of cleans, after the ice has frozen. Really, a slush clearer. I swear it's going to take out the sides of these cars one day too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras!

Here in Norway, we don't really celebrate Carnivale or Mardi Gras, but there are some pre-fasting traditions. In the last entry, I talked about those sticks with feathers - still haven't figured out if they are for pre-lent or during lent. BUT, I do now know about fastelavens boller, because I made some! Wow, I am become a great Norwegian homemaker here!

Sunday after worship instead of the traditional waffles (also norwegian), we had fastelavens boller. Various people made them at home and then brought them in to share, including myself. When Pastor first asked if I wanted to make some, I agreed. But, as I am more of a cook than a baker, I was not all that excited about baking. But, after he sent me some recipes and then researching a couple more, I became a bit more excited. These filled buns are not part of any tradition that has continued in norwegian culture in the States, so this was something completely new for me.

Allikevel (norwegian for anyway), I documented most of my cooking process so you could join in the fun. Unfortunately (I also learned that word in Norwegian, but can't remember it right now), I forgot to take pics at the very beginning. Oh well. You'll get the idea.

First, my recipe.
Magically, I made the dough and let it rise once.
Then I punched it down - this dough is softer and wetter than bread dough, so the punching was not as therapeutic as with bread dough.
Then I let it rise again, in a warm spot mind you. In my apt, this is in front of my desk - there's a heater on the other side. My kitchen window provides a bit of a draft, so the kitchen was no good for dough rising.
Next, you form the dough into little balls and let them rise again, for a little bit. By the way, the recipe I used had me letting the dough rise a total of 3 times, but most of the other recipes only lets the dough rise once. So, if you want to make these yourself, don't fear. You don't have to spend so much time letting the dough rise.
Then we bake for about 30 mns. I do have a pic of this if you really want to see. But, after baking, out comes some scrumptious buns! These were really good fresh out the oven. I was naughty and ate a couple myself. Yummy!
Wait! We're not quite finished. Sunday morning, I toted my buns, cream, and sugar to church to whip up the whip creme filling to make the finished fastelavnboller! Here is the scrumptious finished product.
They must have been yummy because they were all gone by the time I arrived at the Fellowship Hour. All that were left were some that were made from store bought buns with whip creme filling. I'm told that they were good though. I may have to make some for myself at some point so I can try the whole creation together. But not during lent, that would be naughty! Guess today is my last day, better hurry up or just wait.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sticky Norway

This is for all you liturginerds (if you don't know what that means, you are probably not one). Well, maybe not just liturginerds, but you nerdies who love to observe the seasons of the church year (yes, I will name myself in this category.)

A couple weeks ago, I started noticing these buckets of sticks with colored feathers attached to the top sitting outside all the flower shops. "Must be another Norwegian custom I need to find out about," I thought.

I think you will agree that these are quite pretty, but also a bit strange if you don't know what they are all about. Well, goodie for you, I have been informed of the meaning behind these twigs with feathers. In Norwegian they are called 'fastelavnsris'. I'm not sure how this translates, but 'faste' is fast. 'Lavn' is breaking, I think. So probably 'fast breaking sticks', maybe. I'm not quite sure if they have to do with the time before lent, or breaking the fast at Easter. Everything I have found tells me that Norwegians don't really celebreate lent anymore, but still like to carry on the lenten traditions.

At any rate, during lent and the dead of winter, there is not much color around or outdoor life (trees, grass, etc). So these sticks symoblize the deadness of winter, but then feathers are put on top to bring some color. I'm told, though, that as time goes by and we get closer to spring, these sticks will bear leaves or flowers. Or, for you churchies, as we celebrate Christ raising from the dead on Easter. (New life from the dead sticks!) I think these fastelavnsris are a type of willow or birch branch.

I was reading in the ELCA worship helps book that they recommend using branches instead of flowers near the altar. These Norwegian sticks with feathers that will eventually gain life seem like a good visual of this recommendation. Hey, maybe this Norwegian tradition is where the ELCA got their idea. So liturginerds, now you have a picture of a new worship observance.

P.S. I still can't decide if the feathers are tacky or not. What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Weird weather

I now know why people in the midwest talk about the weather all the time. Because many of us in the northern parts come from this weird land where the weather changes every 5 minutes. For real, every 5 minutes. In the midwest we say, "don't like the weather today, it'll change tomorow." But, today, I have seen the weather change every time I look out the window. How weird!

When I went to bed last night, it was snowing. So, I figured that there would be snow on the ground this morning, but nope, no snow. Then as I looked out my window while eating breakfast, I noticed that it had started to snow, in big flakes. But then, after breakfast, I looked up, and opp! no snow, but now rain. Oh joy, I love rain with snow. But, then, by the time I left my apt, it was no longer raining. But, never fear, it started to rain as I was walking (or rather sliding on slush) all the way to work!

This afternoon I caught the weird weather in action! While at work, I looked out the window and massive flakes had started to come down. Yippee!! Snow!! I thought.

But, alas. It was not to be. This is the same view about a half hour later. Oh pooh. No more snow. At least the rain hasn't resumed.

Who knows what will happen next. Maybe the sun will come out and we'll have greatness. Oh, one could only hope! I do know one thing for sure though, we will have slush!