revisiting a journey in memory

“Mountain Lakes, Olden, Norway” by Willard Metcalf

Another thing we can do in our own rooms is to return to travels we have already taken. This is not a fashionable idea. Most of the time, we are given powerful encouragement to engineer new kinds of travel experiences. The idea of making a big deal of revisiting a journey in memory sounds a little strange – or simply sad. This is an enormous pity. We are hugely careless curators of our own pasts. We push the important scenes that have happened to us at the back of the cupboard of our minds and don’t particularly expect to see them ever again.
~ The Book of Life ~ On Confinement

ethnicity estimates

Barbara’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

Eastern Europe & Russia 43%
England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 28%
Germanic Europe 20%
Ireland & Scotland 3%
Baltics 3%
Norway 2%
Italy 1%

We recently added more ethnicity populations and communities. Based on this update, you might see changes to your results.
~ Ancestry.com

Tim’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 71%
Ireland & Scotland 21%
Germanic Europe 6%
Norway 2%

The last time we examined our DNA results was in 2014, about 5 years ago. (penetrating the past) We both have some interesting changes in our results!

For me, the Italian connection all but disappeared, which seems about right because I could never find one on the paper trail. Norway shows up solidly in about the right amount for my 3rd-great-grandfather, and Ireland as well, for his wife, my 3rd-great-grandmother. My father’s Slavic (Ukrainian) origins gained a larger percentage in my DNA. I’m intrigued with a new category, 3% Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).

Interestingly, Tim also seems to be 2% Norway. But he’s a whopping 92% England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northwestern Europe. And this analysis turns up absolutley no European Jewish ancestry, in spite of having a Jewish maternal grandfather. Still a mystery.

So, on Christmas Eve, we were sitting around our table working on a jigsaw puzzle and listening to holiday music with my sister and brother-in-law. I had made the shuffling playlist for my iPod years ago and had included tunes from many traditions. When the Dreidel Song came on my sister asked Tim if his family had celebrated Hanukkah when he was a child. The answer was no, although his stepgrandmother often brought Jewish foods to the house during the holidays. And then, much to my astonishment, he mentioned that his maternal grandfather had converted to Judaism. What!?!

This definitely would explain the lack of European Jewish ancestry for Tim!

It never ceases to amaze me how memories are stirred up in the oddest ways. And how a non-genealogical question lead to a spontaneous answer containing an important clue, which led to the solving of a genetic conundrum.

It will be fun to see any future changes in our DNA analyses as the scientists fine-tune the estimates as their population samples continue to grow.

rapture in the lonely shore

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5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture in the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet can not all conceal.
~ George Gordon Byron
(The Complete Works of Lord Byron)

Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

10-8-16-0865On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

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10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests

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10.8.16 ~ notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship

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“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

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This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

Hæreid Iron Age Burial Site

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Hæreid Iron Age Burial Site, also in Eidfjord, is the largest collection of ancient burial sites in western Norway, with 350 Iron Age and Viking graves dating from 400 – 1000 AD., located on the Hæreid plateau in Eidfjord. This is where we spent the morning of our last day in Norway, after our enchanting overnight at the top of Vøringfossen falls.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It’s been about six months since I posted the last set of pictures from our trip to Norway. Too much going on! Right now I am in North Carolina visiting Katherine and her parents while our bathroom is being renovated back home. Katie seems to be going by Katherine these days. Poor little thing came home from daycare Friday with a fat lip and Saturday morning she woke up with a runny nose and a fever. But we’re managing to have a little fun between bouts of understandable fussiness.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Friday Larisa and I went into Raleigh to attend a Bernie Sanders rally. Sadly, we were among the 1,000 people who did not get into the 2,300 seat venue, after waiting in line for 2 hours. But it was exciting seeing all the support there is for Sanders here. And Larisa definitely “felt the Bern” (one of Bernie’s campaign slogans) by getting a sunburn.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

The energy at the Hæreid burial site felt ancient, peaceful and earthy. The graves were large mounds of rocks with meadow, moss and trees growing all around them. Grazing sheep kept the grass trimmed, and the majestic mountains surrounded the plateau where the burial ground is situated.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It’s entirely possible one of my unknown and very distant ancestors lies buried here. I left with that same feeling of connection and continuity I get when I visit the graves of my known ancestors in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Thanks to Ancestry, I have traced my Norwegian ancestors back a few generations, the earliest known so far is my 6th-great-grandmother, Kristi Hendriksdatter, who was born in 1710 in Hovland in Vestfold. So far I’ve found ancestors who were born or who died in four counties, Telemark, Vest-Agder, Aust-Agder and Vestfold, of southern Norway. All located by the sea.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

At Hæreid we can follow traces of human activity all the way back to the Iron Age, i.e. to between 1,000 and 2,500 years ago. The oldest traces are mainly in the form of graves situated on a terrace and divided into two burial grounds: Sjohaug at the northern end and Hæreidsmoen in the south. The whole terrace contains almost 400 preserved graves. Hæreidsmoen, with around 350 graves, is the largest Iron Age burial ground in West Norway. We know from old descriptions of the area that the burial ground extended further north than it does today. The entire terrace was probably covered in graves at some point. Some of the finds are from the Early Iron Age (500 BC – 575 AD), but most can be dated to the Late Iron Age (575-1050 AD). Some of the objects are from the Viking Age (800-1050 AD): weapons, implements and jewellery. Nowhere else in Hardanger can boast so many finds from the Iron Age as this particular site.

Although visiting Norway was the highlight of our trip to Europe for me, we did also go to Venice and several places in Germany. I will try to share those pictures as well, as time allows. 🙂

stillness becoming alive

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“Glorious Illumination” by Ane Lisbet Smedås

Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?
~ Theodore Roethke
(The Quiet Room)

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Katie got a little bit of snow…

So… We finally got a snowstorm on Saturday, seven inches of snow here. Washington, DC and New York City got much more snow than we did. Record breaking amounts, in fact.

After eleven days of misery it was determined that I had a particularly nasty virus and that it wasn’t necessarily food-borne. I could have caught it the same way one catches a cold or the flu. Sobering thought.

I did not recover in time to go to North Carolina. Very disappointed, but we were given credit from our cancelled flight to apply to a new flight. Thank you so much, Jet Blue.

Yesterday I was dazzled by a photo my Norwegian friend Ane Lisbet posted on Facebook. It was from a walk she took in the afternoon, and I’m grateful she gave me permission to use it here. 🙂 The light is returning to Norway and my longing to go back there in a different season is getting stronger.

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1.24.16 ~ Dima and Katie

I hope we can schedule a new trip to see Katie and her parents very soon!

Vøringfossen II

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Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Dinner is served from 7-9 p.m. at the Fossli Hotel and we were treated like royalty – my goodness everything was so fancy! I had reindeer for the first time in my life and it was delicious. And the distinctive cool water in that pitcher was straight from a nearby glacier.

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Dan, Fran and Barbara at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

The company was great, the view amazing, and the food delectable! The other family and we had the place to ourselves!

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dining room mural ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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no need to warn me to stay behind the fence at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

After dinner we went back outside, amazed that it was still light out. It was still quite cold up there in the mountains in May.

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Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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twilight, sort of, at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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Dan, Fran and Barbara looking down at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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food storage house (stabbur) near the Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

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view from our balcony at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It was time for bed. It was still light out when we went to bed and already light out when we woke up the next morning. We could hear the waterfall lulling us to sleep. Sweet dreams…