Monday, November 21, 2011

An Update on Ordinary Things

I realized recently that we usually blog about out-of-the-ordinary things that are happening to us (visitors, outings, etc.), which doesn't give a very clear impression of our lives in general here in Norway.  So I thought that today I'd just write a brief update about our daily lives at present.

THE DARKNESS IS OUT OF CONTROL these days.  The sun didn't rise today until nearly 9:00am and it had already set before 4:00pm!  The shortest days of the year will come in mid- to late-December, when there will only be about 5 hours and 45 minutes of daylight.  For comparison, in St. Paul, MN (where I'm from) the shortest days are 8hrs, 45min, and in Los Angeles, CA (where Davin's from) the days won't get any shorter than 9hrs, 52min.

MY PREGNANCY is going well, though it involves much more physical discomfort (heartburn, exhaustion, etc.) than I experienced at this stage with my previous pregnancies.  I'm a little more than 7 months pregnant now.  The baby's active and growing well.  I really like the midwife I've been seeing--Davin's usually working during my appointments, so I bring Sergio along with me.  He loves it because there are lots of toys in the office, and the midwife is always really nice to him and makes a point to engage and include him.

JONAH is our resident Norwegian expert.  He's the one we ask when we don't understand something, want to know the word for something, or don't know how to pronounce something.  He goes to a school especially for immigrants learning to speak Norwegian.  He's learning tons and sounds SO CUTE when he's speaking Norsk.  His teacher said that he's learned more Norwegian in his first three months at the school than many children learn in an entire school year.  Unfortunately, the rest of us are learning much more s-l-o-w-l-y, which has been pretty frustrating for Oscar at his (regular Norwegian) school.  Davin, though, has started taking a Norwegian course at his University (the lucky dog).  Jonah helps him with his homework (and teases his old man for reading like a baby).

OSCAR has been taking his "homework" very seriously of late.  Norwegian kindergartens emphasize play (especially outdoor play), and they don't work with the kids on their ABC's and 123's until First Grade.  But Oscar will be expected to be reading already next year when he starts First Grade back in the US.  So he's been "homeschooling" and making really great strides as a reader.  We're really proud of him. 

SERGIO is super sweet and clever.  He enjoys napping and helping out around the house.  Oscar and Jonah are both amazing human beings, but being cooperative about cleaning and napping were never their strong suits, so Sergio's current interests come as a very pleasant surprise.

BUT THE BIG EXCITING NEWS of the moment is that tomorrow, the whole family is going to Madrid!  Davin's brother Sergio is a professor, too, and he's teaching in Spain for a year.  We'll spend Thanksgiving with him, his wife, Mary, and their daughters, Monica and Cecilia.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I got a message from Sergio this morning that said Mary finally managed to order a whole turkey for the dinner.  He said a crate of octopuses would have been much easier to come by.

I studied Spanish for nearly ten years, but traveling to Spain was a dream I never even bothered to have.  I can't wait...It's going to be fabulous!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!

Here are the members of the research group, from left to right: Patricia Tomaszek, Jill Walker Rettberg, Eric Dean Rasmussen, Scott Rettberg, and me (Rob Wittig went for a walk to celebrate the submission of his thesis).
This past week, my work has provided another round of new experiences....  this time, they included haggis, a distillery, and a trip to Scotland.  The Electronic Literature Research Group at UiB hosted a writer's retreat at Logie Country House, just outside of Aberdeen.  The purpose of the trip was to spend some time focusing on our various writing and grant-related projects before finals and Christmas break kick in.  As an added treat, we were joined by Rob Wittig, an artist, teacher and graduate student in digital culture, who shared a fantastic thesis on "networked improv literature" (aka netprov).  To read more on Rob's pioneering work, read this post by Rob and his fellow netprovocateur, Mark Marino.
The Maiden Stone.
While most of the time was actually spent on rather intense and focused research, we did make time to take some walks and see some local sights, including the Maiden Stone, a Pictish monument from ninth century A.D.  In addition, we made a special trip to Glen Garioch Distillery.  And, as you might guess, we enjoyed some very good scotch.
The stills.
Rounding out our intense workdays and stimulating outings, we spent each evening enjoying great meals by Scott Rettberg.  In addition to being a visionary in the field of electronic literature and an all around fine human being, he is a great chef! (In case you're wondering, he did buy a haggis from the butcher....  and I ate it and liked it.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

More Visitors in Norway!

Yesterday, I saw my parents (my mother and step-father) off from their short but wonderful visit to Bergen.  A little over two weeks ago, they arrived in Spain, where they stayed with my older brother.  Then they took a train through France and Germany, up into Denmark.  From Denmark, they took a boat to Bergen.  They spent five days here.  Then they got on a train to Oslo and caught a plane back home! As always, these visits seem always seem far too short...  and as I sit recuperating from a whirlwind visit, I am scheming at different ways to get them back to Norway.

Miraculously, the first few days of their visit were relatively warm, dry, and sunny. It was especially nice that they had the chance to see all the different types of light and color that I really enjoy in Bergen.  The sun, especially this time of year comes in at odd angles, casting long shadows.  And the air is so clear and the angle so low that it can be blinding in intensity.  When the clouds roll in, it's rarely a flat, gray mass of clouds.  Instead, it is usually an energetic, churning swirl or grays, whites, silvers, and blues.  If the sun is setting, there are pinks and oranges.  And, quite often, there are rainbows, too.  (As a side note, we went to the art museum which has a large collection of works by Nikolai Astrup, many of which of seem to capture the things I like about the light in Bergen.)

On Wednesday, we made the trip up Mt.  Fløyen.  And, once again, the view was spectacular.

On Thursday, we went to Rosenkrantz Tower, Bryggens Museum, and walked around the wharf.

Friday night, we celebrated my birthday.

Saturday, my folks went with Carrie, Jonah, and Oscar to visit a historic farm nearby, to see Norwegian Fjord horses in their native land.  I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed home with Sergio (who was also a bit under the weather).  But from what I understand, the farm was beautiful and everyone had a wonderful time.

On Sunday morning, we headed down to the train station to see my parents off.