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A trip to Norway, the kids wrestled and giggled

Nila Peter's children

This shows the Wichstrom family in Norway, from which I descended through my maternal grandmother.  We visited many Wichstroms in Oslo.

April 20, 2018

I felt gritty jet lag a couple weeks ago when we got to Oslo.  Turns out it had just a little more snow than Billings, Montana, our starting place.  Difference was the snow in Oslo was older and crustier and the air maybe 10 degrees colder. The sky was sunny and clear.  Even though we four adults were traveling with kids ages 10,11, and 12, the whole time I heard no crying, whining, or bickering.  Well, once I did a few days into our trip when Olivia defended herself from a bossy cousin.  That was the only time.  However, the trio wrestled, giggled, and talked incessantly.  Didn’t matter where we were.  Oh, they didn’t act unruly when we ate with 10 and 20 relatives at Norwegian formal dinners where we got to know our second cousins.  The kids looked forward to skiing.

We traveled by tram from our air b&b fourth-floor walk up apartment across town and up the side of a mountain to a ski place with an old log restaurant.  There we trooped in to a side room to meet Anne, Bjorn Wichstrom, and Celine Wichstrom Flinders and her boyfriend, all second cousins.  Well, Celine’s boyfriend wasn’t.  We ate lingonberries and reindeer meat in a sauce and had dessert that had whipped cream.  At the end we traded gifts:  huckleberry jam and native beadwork from Montana; a heavy book from Bjorn.

We caught the train back to our neighborhood after walking down the mountain about a kilometer past a couple ski jumps towering what looked like a hundred feet.  What insane person would launch himself?  The kids talked incessantly and wrestled like baby raccoons.

Our apartment was close to a tram stop, so the next day we rode it to the Viking museum to see real ships large enough to travel at sea powered by oar and sail.  The ships carried the men who wreaked havoc 1200 years ago.  In fact, I learned on the “History of the English Language” podcast that the words “wreaked” and “havoc” are in our language precisely because of the Norse invaders of England.

Our son Bob used his iPhone to navigate Oslo, which reminded me somewhat of Paris, in that it was confusing to get around.  I exaggerate.  It was confusing for me, but everyone else seemed comfortable with Oslo.

We had three-day Oslo passes, but nobody asked for them until the Viking museum.  The person there let me in anyway, once I told them I lost mine.  We got on bus after bus and nobody checked to see my pass.  Or anyone else’s pass.  I guess they figure if you made it all the way to Oslo you certainly had one.  I don’t know.  Finally, on our last day in Oslo, a man came through the train asking to see passes, so I handed him P’s, since I was sitting next to her on the aisle.  He said something in Norwegian about the date of first use on the pass, then didn’t check P’s.  Satisfied, with everyone else’s, the man sat down ahead of us.

We returned to the restaurant at the top of the ski hill and rented sledges to ride down to catch the train back to the top.  Roland and I nearly flew off the track on a curve.  Roland rode solo afterward and I drank coffee at the restaurant with P.

We visited Ingrid and Neils-Marius Conradi, some more second cousins, at their house in Oslo.  Another fancy meal with several courses including a rich dessert and a couple different kinds of wine to drink with Norwegian salmon and a fancy beef stew.  At the end we traded gifts and Bjorn gave me several  books.

The train ride to Bergen was six pleasant hours of mountainous journey through what looked like Western Montana, but with tunnels galore.  We rode in a deluxe car that had complementary beverages, but none were alcoholic.  Our first drink stronger than beer was the wine at Ingrid and Neils-Marius’ house.

We drug all our luggage from the Bergen train station, across town, over a sizable bridge, and up the side of a steep mountain to reach our air b&b there.  (Modern, had a toilet with heated seat.)  The kids trooped ahead, dragging their immense suitcases in silence.  Once we reached the apartment they giggled and wrestled.  We were hungry.  Bob and I hiked down the hill and across the bridge back to the train station looking for a store.  It was Easter.  Good Friday, I mean, and groceries were closed and streets deserted.  I whined to Bob that I wanted a cab and a restaurant.  

The cab took us back to the air b&b but all of us couldn’t fit in the cab.  Restaurants all seemed to be closed, except one the cab driver knew about.  Bob tried to phone but got an answering machine.  The cabbie knew the place was open, so P. and I took the cab and the kids and Bob and Heather walked.  Turns out the cab driver took us to a place called “Snack Bar,” and Bob, Heather, Olivia, Cyrus, and Rowland trooped to a different restaurant.  Everyone waited for everyone else.  

P. and I didn’t have a phone and we couldn’t remember the address of the air b&b.  So we waited two or three hours, drinking wine and gin at the snack bar and eating hamburgers.  No one rescued us, so we finally got a cab whose driver figured out how to get us home.

I took the day off while everyone else walked all over Bergen.  We ultimately met at a restaurant called the “Penguin.”  The kids wrestled and giggled.

Next day Bob rented a van and we drove to Vang, a farm neighborhood in Valdres about four hours from Bergen.  My great great grandmother Berit Bonde started out in Vang where her first husband bought her a house, still there.  Bob took a couple rocks and a rusty tool from Berit’s place where we walked across crusty snow to look inside.  It was now being used as a shed to store woodworking tools, apparently.  Nearby lived Knute Bunde, a fellow about my age, who was unavailable to speak with us.  Our b&b host in Vang told us he didn’t usually talk to strangers.  The b&b in Vang was deluxe.  I banged my head on a low beam repeatedly.  The proprietors fed us reindeer meet, lots of root vegetables, and heavy cream.  We rented skis.  We visited a stave church at Hore.  We visited the former mayor of Vang who fed us an immense lunch.  The kids went outdoors to wrestle and giggle and slide down a hill on sleds they found.

Later, the boys skied near Vang at a grade school with 10 kilometers of cross country ski trail.  I tried to ski and fell hard on my butt.  The icy snow had a thin top layer of grainy snow.  My skis slipped sideways when I tried to slow down, lost control, fell on butt.  Bob and Heather and the kids did much better than I.  We had the rented van, so we returned to Oslo that way.  I suffered a bruised butt.

Back in Oslo we met even more cousins, and Bjorn was there.  He gave me some books at the end of the evening meal which consisted of reindeer meat, salad, ham, and potatoes.  The Norwegian hosts gave us many kinds of root vegetables and traditional waffles in the shape of hearts.  People treated us like royalty.  The supper at cousin Erik and Solvar Hardeng’s house had 20 guests and I can’t remember most of the people’s names, but they were friendly, warm folk.  Again, Bjorn, an adorable man in his 80s, was there, dressed in his blue suit with necktie.  He gave me several books when we parted.  Erik and his wife had grandchildren who wrestled and giggled with our three.

Sadly, Erik Hardeng has terminal cancer and doesn’t expect to live more than a month, or so.  He showed us a brief slide show of his trips to the south and north polar regions.

Bob and Erik had a tearful parting.  We drove off in the van.  Erik phoned us minutes later when he discovered Heather had forgotten her purse.

Ultimately, we returned to the US with loot.  I bought a variety of paper clips bent in the shapes of animals.  Later I discovered they had been made in China. Cyrus and Roland each got tanned hair-on reindeer skins in Oslo.  I then bought a sports bag to carry them and some of the books back to the US.  Bob got himself a wool sweater.  Roland bought a model of a Viking boat.  I had a birthday in Oslo, so I got a bunch of trinkets to carry back.  A couple pens, a wooden globe.  Oh yes, and books.  Lots of books.  Olivia returned with a sheepskin.  I don’t remember much else.  Roland bought his dad a cow’s horn for drinking.  I saw lots of candy and gifts in P’s luggage that she bought when I wasn’t looking.

Turns out returning from Oslo to the US creates less jet lag than going, a good thing,  and the kids wrestled and giggled.

 

Buddy warmed up to college life

His scratchy sweater his mom had given him smelled sour like wool, all the more from the cigarette smoke where he and his friends gathered at the dormitory and talked about women, about ultimate reality, about where to get beer.  The air was ripe with possibilities, yet forces were in place to deny them any of the desirables.  The girls were locked up.  Dormitory rules.  Stern blue-haired dean of women.  Drinking age was 21.

No shortage of women — women their age, more than willing to socialize with them, even slip out the back door to love them up.  Carl licked his lips.  He loved how they smelled.  College was nothing but good.  Frustrating, but good, because hope was always alive.  Hell, he knew how to get a fake ID card.

Of course he had a mid-term exam in Botany 101 Monday.  He and a couple other guys would have to pull an all-nighter Sunday if they were to do well.  Hmmm.  Let’s see:  Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.  He ticked them off.  Plants, vascular plants, and so on right down to gymnosperms, pines, ponderosa.  He had gotten this from a different all-nighter in the dry winter air with its throat-scratching freezing temperatures.  A friend and he had sat up in the basement laundry of South Hall.

Missoula was a party town for college kids.  Had a reputation.  Come to think of it, Carl wasn’t sure about the order and family of the P. Pine.  He’d have to look that up before the exam Monday.  His shoes were not adequate for the cold weather.  Feet would freeze before he and his friends could make it downtown across the bridge to Eddy’s Club.  They’d shoot pool, maybe run into some older women who had been emancipated from the tyranny of dorm life.  Maybe he could get some pussy.  He was still a virgin.

In just one week everything would change.  The Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States would declare war and just about every healthy young man would be drafted into the army or navy.

Meanwhile, Carl ticked off the kinds of fungi:  basidiospore . . . . In seven days he would have taken the mid-terms, but neither he nor any of the other guys would care about any of that any more.

Three weeks later: no clock, but I figured out the family roots in Norway.

Nila Peter's children

My great-grandfather Christian (emigrated to Wisconsin) is not pictured among the nine Wichstrom children pictured who, with their parents, who stayed in Norway.  The parents, Niels Peter Wichstrom and his wife, Lise, are seated at the table.  No doubt they had to all keep still for the long camera exposure.

I removed the bust of Bob because glancing that direction for the time was unsettling without the familiar clock.  The day after I took the clock to the repairman, he phoned and promised to clean the works.  Did I want him to phone at each stage of his repairs?  Thinking that I had to have the clock asap I incorrectly said no.  Now, three weeks later, still no clock.  Probably he is fixing the clock of someone who cares enough to chat about his work.

Bob (the real one) has been in touch with our relatives in Oslo and in Vang, Norway.  We will eat in Oslo in three weeks, or so, with one of Kjell Nielsen’s sons.  Kiel was in the same generation as my mother, all descended from Peter Wichstrom.  Peter (1) begat Niels Peter (2), who begat Christian August (3), who begat Ellen Margaret (4), who begat Helen Margaret (5), who begat Daniel Robert (6), who begat Robert Joseph (7), who begat Olivia Quinn (8).  We last three named will meet up with Kjell Nielsen’s son.  The second guy named, Nils Peter (seated at the table in the photo above), had a lot of children with Lise Nielsen.  Eleven.  They were, or gave rise to, actors, sailors, bankers, lawyers, carpenters, store-keepers, scientists, policemen, and writers.  They helped populate Oslo.

Kjell was also descended from Peter (1),  who begat, etc., Niels Peter (2), Marie Antoinette Oline, (3) and Margarethe Nielsen (4), and Kjell (5).

 

 

PORTABLE WALL No. 40

Click on the below link to view Portable Wall 40, kindly scanned by Larry Felton, magnetic personality of the original 1967 hippies.

 

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Bust of Bob

Photo on 2-13-18 at 9.48 AM

Our clock stopped, yet time hasn’t.  Disorienting to see it’s seventeen minutes to seven at eight oh five (According to the stove.)

Siri names three Billings jewelries.  They fix mantle clocks?  I call Howard Miller Clocks in Zeeland, Michigan.

After four minute wait, “Curt” gives me name and number of local clock repairer.

They are open.  I find them behind an unmarked door upstairs at Dees Used Furniture.  Woman my age says to expect a call tomorrow morning.

Mantle clock is 14 years old, never oiled or cleaned.  Instructions (never read) says every two years.

Disorienting to see a space instead of a clock, so I put a bust of Bob to soothe my eye.

Searching for Bud’s roots in Norway

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Bud, front row, L, probably took this toned photo with the time-delay feature on his camera.

 

January 26, 2018

We’re getting ready to study the roots of my uncle Carl Ralph Bonde Jr’s family.

Carl died in WWII as a 21-year-old private first class when his troopship was sunk by a torpedo in the English Channel.  His body was never recovered.  I never met Carl, but this young man profoundly changed my childhood by his sudden absence.  I grew up amidst his possessions and our family’s grief.

You see, Carl’s parents (my maternal grandparents) were both children of Norwegian immigrants.  Ellen’s parents—Wichstrom— came from Oslo from a family engaged in commerce, and Carl’s— Bonde— family came from the village of Vang in Valdres, Norway, where his great grandparents were farmers.

This coming March a bunch of us plan to visit family historian Bjorn Wichstrom in Oslo armed with family trees and old letters from Ellen’s aunt Margaret in Oslo.  Ellen’s maiden name was Wichstrom, same as our relatives in Oslo.

On grandfather’s side there’s Berit Bonde, the matriarch.  My mother said she had an iron hand.  When I heard about her iron hand as a child I was doubtful, but I figured the iron hand fit over a hook, or something.

Anyway,  Berit and her husband Thorstein had a farm near Vang, Norway, and they were apparently good at farming, but he got into trouble and had to go to Lillehammer to earn money to settle a lawsuit.  He died in his 30s just a few years after moving, and after another five or six years, Berit remarried to guy named Einar Halvorson.  In those parts people took the name of the farm, so the couple was known as Einar and Berit Bonde.   They left the farm in Norway that they worked but didn’t own, and moved to the United States.   They built a log house.  They are buried a few miles from Nerstrand, Minnesota.

Anyhow, my knowledge of Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr., will be much greater once I visit the places in Norway where his great grandparents lived.

History of the English Language Podcast

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Cold winter’s day.

January 17, 2018

Last night at about one, or so, I was awake, so I listened to History of the English Language podcast by Kevin Stroud.  He has 106 episodes and he tracks the development of English from its Indo-European roots on the steppes of Asia perhaps 5000 years ago.  Our language has some ancient words in amongst the modern.  Sure, many of our words were borrowed from other languages, but a number have been passed along from the earliest tribal days on the steppes after the last ice age.  Old words tend to pertain, of course, to matters we have in common with our ancestors, such as “oxen,” “yoke,” and “mother” and “father.”  The newest words often pertain to technology, such as “fax” and “google.”  Mr. Stroud helps us stop and examine words, and for that I recommend his podcast.

English is a Germanic language that owes a lot to Latin.  One cannot understand the history of the language without knowledge of the social and political climate from which it sprung.  Think of all the anomalies in spelling.  Many of these were contrivances of ancient scribes who were adept at using the alphabet to approximate the sounds of words in olden times.  Mr. Stroud notes that Old English, such as in Beowulf, would be unintelligible to a modern English speaker, but Middle English, such in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, while strange-sounding, can pretty much be understood, though perhaps not completely.  He poses the question, what kind of English did William Shakespeare write in?  Answer:  Modern.  Granted, Mr. Shakespeare used words we might find quaint, but his work can be easily understood today.

I found it interesting the notion that not all written languages have alphabets.  Chinese, for example, employs hundreds, if not thousands, of characters that are, in effect, pictures, while English gets by with a few more than two dozen letters.  He notes that languages that employ phonetic alphabets, like English, are much easier to learn to read and write.  The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics had scores of characters that only specially educated scribes could read and write.  Those who study linguistics may not learn anything new here, but the rest of us might.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest.  Just google the above podcast and give it a try.