Sunday, December 23, 2007

It was the day before Christmas

And mother pretty much wanted to just cancel the whole stupid affair. Not that I'd ever do it, but this year the spirit has been rather hard to find. Still, I have presents, and I expect a minimum of people to be offended or disappointed. I have made cakes, 6 types, 5 of which are edible. My husband, bless his devotion, claims te sixth is edible too, and makes a valiant effort to prove it. The jokes made over those cakes are good, at least. My daughter has landed in Norway, and it is very likely that she will make it all the way here for Christmas. I have no present for her though. That was her father's territory. I really wonder what will come out of that.

The house is fairly clean. There's a limit to what I can do about a house that's been lived in by two men with a particular type of blindness, the type that makes dirt invisible, in just 5 days which also need to be long enough for baking, work and shopping. The tree is up, a day early, and altough it's small, it had room for almost all the decorations. So yes, it's the regular riot of colour and glitter and stories from the past.

I love this house, and I love Christmas in it. But I have never trusted myself with this kind of love of one place, as I have always had to leave the moment I am getting settled in and comfortable. So it is with a bittersweet mix of happiness and fear that I settle down to enjoy the work of the last few days. Tomorrow it's Christmas. The sun has already turned, and days are growing longer. There is more daylight here than in Umeå, and I can sit in the livingroom drinking it in, as the light reflects off the fjord, and I am surrounded by it. But when the night falls I light candles and wish, greedily, for more - warmth, light, the blessing of summer. In the north seasons are not just things on the calendar. In the north seasons are painful truths, changing your body, your comfort, your hormones, your activities and the patterns of your life, until you live by the rythm of the changing year.

And so it's Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elg, elk, moose

Now to the "elk" debate. After the story I posted in November about the boy who saved his sister from an "elg" and then applied WoW skills to saving himself has been swirling around online for a while, I caught an interesting twist in the translation of "elg". I translated it as moose, but people pointed out it was not a moose, but an elk. Then somebody in a comment on this blog talked about seeing a herd of 200 "elk" in the US, something which made me pause, as you'd never see a herd of "elg" in Scandinavia. So off I went to our friend, the Wikipedia.

Now I could have looked for a more authorised source, but in this case Wikipedia looks pretty good. What it shows is that the American "elk" is a different animal with a different spread from the European "elg". "Moose", however, is said to be called both "moose" and "elk", only it's called "elk" in Europe. If you look at the pictures, you'll see that the moose and the elg are more similar than the elk and the elg.

In the Norwegian article there is a discussion about the use of the word "elk", as apparently it's also used about a type of deer, in American English. Looking at the picture of the "elk" in Wikipedia, that looks more like a deer than an "elg". So - the translation was perhaps not that wrong, and the elks are more than they seem to be.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Saturday I heard somebody talk loudly just outside my windows. Peeking out at the world, a little groggy still from jet-lag, a condition not made any better by the dark and my tendency to hang out in Azeroth until past midnight, I discovered hectic activity on the parking lot. As soon as I managed to hook up to the net, I found that yes, something was going on next door, at Västerbotten Museum. There was a Christmas Market, going on for two days, and it was obviously a big deal, as the traffic was quite heavy.

Sunday I decided that I would just have to visit it. So I grabbed my wallet and zipped up the down-jacket (yes, it's winter here again) and headed over - without too high expectations. Turned out that yes, it was worth it!

The Museum grounds were filled with little sales stands, set up around a gravel path that lead in a circle. All around that circle there were people standing, selling everything from gingerbread and mulled wine to handmade sami knives and traditional Scandinavian hand-knitted socks. In between there was hand-blown glass, a smith working with medieval methods, peruvian knitted alpacca wool sweaters and reindeer kebabs. A couple of places along the gravel roads there were fireplaces where people could pause and warm up, and inside a lavvo (lavvu) - a sami tent shaped much like a tipi(teepee) - there was also a fire, and a chance to warm up on more of the different spicy drinks that belong to Christmas in Scandinavia.

I was quickly caught up in the fun, and ended up doing a decent chunk of the christmas shopping right there, on that gravelly path through the museum. Also I ended up with a slab of smoked reindeer meat, which I quickly realised I have to finish before I go home to Norway. It's not easy to go from shopping and cooking for four people to just one - particularly not as I then go home and cook for a family again. But the meat is delicious, so I am sure I'll be able to finish it - and if I can't, I'll just have to find some friends to help.