Viking Ship Museum

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…on the road to Oslo – a farmhouse, barn and food storehouse…

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…at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo…

In 834 two important Viking women were buried in the 72′ (22m) long Oseberg ship (below), which had been built of oak around 820. The deck and mast were made of pine, and the ship could be sailed or rowed by 30 people. It was decorated with elaborate wood carvings of animals.

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…oars ready for use…

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…rudder and tiller on left…

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…holes for the oars…

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…rudder and tiller…

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…carvings on the stern…

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After examining the ship from below we climbed some stairs up to a viewing balcony so we could see the inside of the Oseberg.

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Then we went around the corner to another viewing balcony and saw the Gokstad ship, which was built around 850. After about 50 years of exploring and raiding a rich and powerful Viking was buried with it.

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…the Gokstad ship…

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…this part of the mast reminds me of Thor’s hammer…

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…a wagon found on one of the ships…

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…not much is left of this ship, the Tune

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Also at the museum were displays of artifacts found buried with the ships, but they were behind glass so it wasn’t possible to get clear pictures. It was pretty awe-inspiring imagining what life was like back in the 800s in the Viking Age. Much more information can be found on the museum website: Viking Ship Museum

Next stop: Bergen Railway from Oslo to Myrdal.

summer solstice

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“Ukrainian Landscape” by Efim Volkov

There came a Day – at Summer’s full –
Entirely for me –
I thought that such – were for the Saints –
Where Resurrections – be –

The Sun – as common – went abroad –
The Flowers – accustomed – blew –
As if no Soul the Solstice passed –
That maketh all things new.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #325)

Heddal Stavkyrkje

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…scenery on the road between Skien and Notodden, Norway…

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…more scenery…

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…one of countless food storage houses (stabbur) we saw everywhere…

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…when I dream of Norway I see many birch trees…

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…Heddal Stave Church in Notodden…

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…memorial to Olea Crøger…

Olea Crøger (1801-1855) was the daughter of a pastor from Heddal Stave Church, known for collecting Norwegian folk music and folklore.

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…the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1242…

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…on a headstone in the churchyard…

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…in the cemetery…

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…the west side of the church, and main entrance…

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…altarpiece…

After the Reformation alterations to the church were slowly made. The date of the painting showing the crucifixion of Jesus by an unknown artist is 1667. The one above it, of Christ rising from his tomb, was painted by Lars Osa about 1908.

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…above the altar…

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The Heddal portals are a mixture of fauna and floral ornamentation. The western portal is dominated by leaf carvings but the vines transform into snake shapes with poisonous heads. Other animal bodies can also be seen. … These motifs were renown in Norse religion and superstition but were reinterpreted in Christian art. They did of course provide a sense of familiarity for churchgoers who found it difficult to let go of their old heathen faith. At the same time these wild depictions became a symbol of the battle between good and evil in the world. This was a central topic both in the new and old faith.
~ Heddal Stavechurch guidebook

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I noticed that most of the columns inside the church had a simple carving at the bottom of the arches, but on either side of the southern entrance portal columns there was a carving of a creature of some sort (above). In the picture below you can see the simple carvings of three oval leaves (?) on the bottom of the arches, about the same level as the lights.

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So I asked the docent about it. She explained that men used to enter the church from the southern portal and were thought to be more likely to bring corruption into the church, so the gargoyle was needed to scare off the evil. The women, on the other hand, used the northern portal and were already protected by the Virgin Mary.

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…based on “Soria Moria Castle” by Theodor Kittelsen

It was chilly that day and we appreciated a cup of hot cocoa in the visitor center. I was delighted to find these copies of paintings on the backs of a couple of chairs. I’ve been using Theodor Kittelsen’s calendar art in my posts on the 15th of each month since August.

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…based on “White Bear King Valemon” by Theodor Kittelsen…

Next stop: Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.

strange places

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“June” by Theodor Kittelsen

When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not the previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.
~ Alan Alda
(Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself)

Brevik

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Brevik is the place in Norway I most wanted to see. My grandmother’s sea-captain great-grandfather, Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, was born there in 1818 and emigrated to America by himself in 1836. As far as I can tell, his parents, five brothers and two sisters remained in Norway. Was he a rebellious teen? Or simply restless, adventurous? His grandfather was a ship’s carpenter, his father and four uncles, all sailors. According to Wikipedia, Brevik is thought to be one of the best preserved towns from the sailing ship era.

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Brevik is now part of Porsgrunn in the county of Telemark. The Brevik Bridge (Breviksbrua) in the background (above) goes over the mouth of Frierfjord to Stathelle, which is part of Bamble. It was opened in 1962.

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We arrived in the evening, much later than planned because our plane was delayed and it took forever to pick up the rental car. But the two-hour ride from Oslo was beautiful, the scenery lovely. Because the sun sets so late we were still able to stop for dinner and explore the town afterwards.

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The restaurant we found was Sjøloftet (above). Brevik isn’t a tourist destination per se, but we found that our server spoke English and was even able to find and dust off 4 menus translated into English. The place was naturally full of talkative locals and it was nice to just sit back and absorb the sound of the language and imagine, while looking out the window over the water, what life was like here 200 years ago.

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The roads going up and down the sides of the fjord in town were very steep!

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There were sailboats and motorboats tucked into every possible mooring.

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A switchback road can be seen to the left of and behind this building.

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Sleepy little seaside village…

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The asymmetrical  Grenland Bridge (Grenlandsbrua) (above) is new, opened in 1996. According to Wikipedia, it “is Norway’s highest cable-stayed bridge with a tower height of 168 metres (551 ft) … when built, it replaced Brevik Bridge as the primary route across the fjord …  the 608-metre (1,995 ft) long bridge uses cable stayed construction to provide clearance for vessels up to 50 metres (164 ft) in height.”

Inadvertently we wound up going across the bridge! We were going through a tunnel and it came out right onto the bridge! I suppose it was inevitable as we were exploring the higher elevations of the town. But we made a u-turn and crossed back to Brevik. We actually got pretty confused exploring the town. Some of the streets were very steep and had surprise dead-ends!

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This little part of town is tucked under the older Brevik Bridge.

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One of the dead-ends we came upon. It was fun (and a little embarrassing) having to do a 20-point turn with the rental car to back out of there…

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When we found the correct tunnel to leave Brevik we had to wait and then follow a leader car through it because only one lane was open. We didn’t see any flagmen in Norway where there was roadwork being done. Everyone just waited patiently until the leader car was done leading the opposing line of traffic through and then turned around and signaled for them to follow.

Satisfied to have seen the place where my ancestor started his journey, we headed for Skien to spend our first night in Norway.

flying history

Katie is trying to learn how to take selfies!

Katie is trying to learn how to take selfies!

My mother and her parents loved to travel but were afraid of flying. During my childhood we never flew anywhere so I didn’t notice this and it somehow never came up in conversation. It didn’t even occur to me when I was 15 and my father was offered a job in Greece and my parents decided to move us there. We traveled across the mighty Atlantic Ocean on a cruise ship, the TSS Olympia, from New York to Athens, with a stop in Haifa, Israel.

My first flight on a jet, from Athens back to New York, was memorable. It was just me and my sister, nervous and holding hands for most of the trip, on my 17th birthday, on a 747, shortly after the Greek army had deposed Col. Papadopoulos in a bloodless coup. Our parents were to follow us a couple of weeks later. The perimeter of the airport was surrounded by tanks, reminding us of the fear we felt at dawn weeks earlier, when we awakened to the sound of tanks rolling down our street and military music playing on loudspeakers.

We loved getting pictures of Katie and her parents while we were away on our trip!

It won’t be long before she masters the technique!

We were in the middle of a row on the plane and did not get to look out the windows. There was a stop in Rome, but we didn’t have to get off. However, when we landed there my ears started to hurt, a sharp, stabbing pain. The pain subsided a bit as we flew on to New York, but returned with a vengeance when we landed there. I didn’t fly again for 34 years!

My mother made a dear friend in Greece, a Canadian woman named Carol who was married to a German man, Ernst. Mom overcame her fear well enough to fly to Lebanon with Carol & Ernst and my father, and to visit Carol & Ernst when they moved to Germany, and to Ukraine with my father and his sisters to visit the land where his parents were born.

My grandparents remained fearful of flying. When they came to visit us in Greece, to economize, they sailed on a freighter that accepted a few passengers! It was a rough and tumble passage, and I loved listening to their stories about their adventures on board. Grandmother died without ever having flown, in spite of her son’s repeated efforts and offers to take her up into the sky. He was a pilot, after all.

When Grandfather was 90-something my uncle persuaded him to fly from Cape Cod to Florida to spend the winter down there with him. Tim & I met Grandfather and his physical therapist at the airport to see him off. The captain was the son of the physical therapist, who had kindly arranged everything, and he came out personally to welcome my grandfather and then pushed his wheelchair onto the plane himself as we waved goodbye. Right then and there I decided that if Grandfather could face his fear so late in his life, I could do so as well.

"Daddy, where's my menu?"

“Daddy, where’s my menu?”

Grandfather’s physical therapist also had made him a sandwich and put it in a zip-lock plastic bag. When my uncle called me that night he told me that when he asked Grandfather what he thought about the flight, Grandfather went on and on about the zip-lock bag. He had never seen one before and was marveling at the technological genius of its design! Never did say much about the flight itself!

Finally, my opportunity to try flying again came along when I was 51. Larisa, Tim and I flew down to Florida to visit his stepdad, who was dying of cancer. Much to my surprise, I loved it! Being a dreamer without much aptitude for logic, science and technology, I found myself in awe of the human minds who had figured out how to fly and it still seems like nothing short of a miracle to me every time we take off or land.

And the curve of the world passed
With all of that flying
Above the mighty ocean
Now we all are arriving

Grab the carry-on baggage
Join the herd for the mad run
Take a place in the long line
Where does everyone come from?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown in the seven years since, sometimes even by myself, to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina to visit family. It’s still a thrill! So last month Tim & I boarded a Delta 737 in New York and flew to Frankfurt, Germany, our once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit his brother and sister-in-law and to visit Venice and Norway with them. Seven international flights in a month!

It was dark for the flight over, and uneventful. But I had a window seat and a flight tracker so when we caught up with the light over Europe I got to see all the fields and forests in Germany as we began our descent. Some fields were bright yellow – I later learned these were growing rapeseed. After we landed it took us less than a minute to go through customs.

As we shuffle on forward
As we wait for inspection
Don’t be holding that line up
At the end lies redemption

Now I’m stamped and I waved through
I take up my position
At the mouth of the canyon
Saying prayers of contrition

A few days later we took a cheap flight on a budget airline, Ryanair, to Venice. It was cloudy so I couldn’t see anything, and it was definitely a no-frills, sardine-in-a-can experience. On the trip back to Germany three days later, however, the sky was clear and we flew over the Alps, much to my delight! It was amazing looking down on those snow-capped peaks.

Please deliver my suitcase
From all mischief and peril
Now the sight of it circling
Is a hymn to the faithful

Forgive me my staring
For my unconcealed envy
In the hall of arrivals
Where the great river empties

A few days after that trip we flew from Frankfurt to Oslo on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Even the inside of the plane had that Scandinavian feel, light and airy, you could even see through under the seats. After a magical week in Norway, we flew from Bergen to Stockholm, and on that flight, out of the blue, I got such a sharp stabbing pain in my nose, cheek and temple that tears were squirting out of my eye. At first I thought it was a sudden migraine, but I suspect there was something off with the air pressure. It brought back the memory of the ear pain flying home from Greece all those years ago.

We changed planes in Stockholm and then flew back to Frankfurt after having the best Swedish meatballs ever, right there in the airport restaurant. And unfortunately the pain came back on that flight, too.

Its hand carts and quarters
All the people it carries
To be greeted with flowers
Grandfathers and babies

The friends and relations
Leaping over hemispheres
Transcendental reunion
All borders vanish here

A little over a week later I took a 12-hour Sudafed before boarding the Delta flight from Frankfurt to New York, just in case. Not sure if it was needed but there was no pain on the return flight home. I love Delta because it has a flight tracker at each seat. I was able to identify the English Channel, Great Britain, the Irish Sea, Ireland, and stateside, my beloved Cape Cod, as we flew over. We also flew over Nova Scotia (thinking of Sybil then) but I couldn’t see the land there because of the clouds.

Too bad customs was overwhelmed when we arrived after having such a great flight. It took us almost two hours to get through the maze of lines and scanners and official agent desks! I’m glad my sister and brother-in-law did not give up waiting for us to appear through the arrivals door!

We are travelers traveling
We are gypsies together
We’re philosophers gathering
We are business or pleasure

We are going or coming
We’re just finding our way
To the next destination
And from night into day

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (Transcendental Reunion) ♫

It’s good to be home. We continued to receive pictures of Katie in our email almost every day while we were gone. Thank you, Larisa! I have thousands of pictures to go through and many posts to write about this trip which I will get to, even if it takes me all summer. We went to the nursery to get flowers for the balcony and nasturtiums for  Zoë to nibble on. We ate at our favorite restaurant and went down to the beach. Tim went to the eye surgeon yesterday and we found out that he will definitely have to have cataract surgery for both eyes in July. At the same time the surgeon will fix his astigmatism so he may not need glasses for the first time in his 62 years! That will be something else indeed… Life returns to normal…

two by two

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“May” by Theodor Kittelsen

Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain
We’re climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
These things we cannot change
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Two Step) ♫

Neu-Anspach

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…half-timbered house at Freilichtmuseum Hessenpark…

Neu-Anspach is a lovely town in a bucolic setting here in Germany, and is where we are visiting Tim’s brother and his wife. It has become apparent to me that there is no time to sort through pictures and write blog posts as I go, so… I am taking notes and will write about our trip and share pictures sometime after we get back in June. Besides Germany, we will be visiting Venice and then heading north to Norway. Looking forward to connecting with you all when we get home!

sticks, bells, ribbons

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Strike up a measure, sprightly this way
And we’ll dance an idle hour away
Dance in the garden, dance on the lea
To a Morris music light and free

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Greenly call the rushes
Budding is the willow
Spring now is here and all is fair
And she rides on the south wind
Sweet and warm with May
And a wreathe of hawthornes deck her hair

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Why not dance when happy songs resound
In the trees and hedges all around
Say farewell to toil and work a day
For the dance will drive all cares away

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Tim’s father, Karl Freeman Rodgers, Jr. (1930-1978), was a Morris dancer. Sadly, he died of cancer shortly after Tim & I were married so I never had much of a chance to get to know him or to see him dance, but I think of him every May Day, especially when we manage to drag ourselves out of bed to watch the Westerly Morris Men dance at dawn on the campus of Connecticut College.

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In 1964, Karl was one of the founding members of the Pinewoods Morris Men:

Karl Rogers was elected Squire at the 1972 Ale. Karl had many talents: racer, musician, singer, teacher, and he was among the best at all of these. In his year as Squire, he founded the PMM Newsletter, and pushed hard for the establishment of a PMM-funded scholarship to Pinewoods Camp for prospective Morris dancers.
~ Pinewoods Morris Men

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From the first, then, the Newsletter was intended not only to report PMM activities, but also to exchange views and ideas among all Morris dancers. Karl’s success in establishing the format led directly to the creation of the American Morris Newsletter less than five years later.
~ Pinewoods Morris Men

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In November (1978), we lost a valued friend and founding member when Karl Rodgers died on Thanksgiving Day, after a long battle with cancer. In his year as Squire, he started the Newsletter, and introduced the idea of a Pinewoods Scholarship. The Newsletter flourished, and spun off the American Morris Newsletter; at the time Karl died, Fred Breunig was well on the way to establishing AMN as the premier forum for Morris matters in this country. The scholarship had been established in 1975; it was only fitting that it be renamed in Karl’s memory.
~ Pinewoods Morris Men

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I am born on May Morning – by sticks, bells, and ribbons
I am the sap – in the dark root I am the dancer – with his six fools
~ William Anderson
(The Green Man)

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Happy May Day!