Friday, February 25, 2011

Lifelong Learning

While scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday, I noticed that Vesterheim Museum is promoting their upcoming Lifelong Learning classes. I checked out their website and was really impressed to see the variety of classes they're offering this year. The museum offers classes in woodworking, metalworking, fiber arts, rosemaling, writing, and traditional Norwegian cooking and baking. Want to make a wooden bowl? Or a traditional Norwegian corner cabinet, including the metal hinges? How about improving your overshot weaving technique? Or learning the style of rosemaling from Rogaland or Valdres? You can even build your own Hardanger fiddle! It's a good thing I don't live any closer to Decorah. If I did, I would want to register for all of these classes—my family would never see me!

Several of Vesterheim's upcoming woodcarving classes are taught by Professor Emeritus Harvey Refsal, who recently retired from Luther College. Check out an interview with Harley in the October 2010 issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.
Photo courtesy of Vesterheim Museum.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Marvelous Mythology

If you're a fan of Marvel Comics' take on Norse mythology, you're soon in for a treat. The trailer for the movie "Thor" was released this week, and the film is scheduled for release May 6, 2011. Here's a synopsis of the film from the Marvel website:
"Thor spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth by his father Odin and is forced to live among humans. ... It’s while here on Earth that Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth."

In the meantime, if you'd like to brush up on your Norse mythology as told by a master storyteller, get one of Dag Rossman's six books on the subject, including "The Dragonseeker's Saga: New Tales of the Nine Worlds," (Skandisk, 2009) or "The Northern Path: Norse Myths and Legends Retold...And What They Reveal" (Seven Paws Press, 2005). Rossman, who got his start as a storyteller at District 5 Masse Moro language camp, is a member of Valdres 1-503 in Decorah, Iowa, and was featured in the February 2010 issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Focus on Fosse

One of the things I enjoy most about editing Viking is researching topics that we cover in the magazine. When writer Karen Hansen pitched a story on Jon Fosse, Norway's best-known contemporary playwright, I—like many Americans—knew almost nothing about him. If you haven't had a chance to read it, be sure to check out Hansen's article, "Focus on Fosse," in the current issue of Viking!

If you'd like to learn more about Fosse and his work, you can read this interview in The Brooklyn Rail published in 2004, just prior to his U.S. premier. And whether or not you understand Norwegian, you'll enjoy seeing the light-hearted side of Fosse in this video interview, produced in 2007 by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). (Sorry, no subtitles!)

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don’t Feed the Bears

If you’ve ever visited a zoo or a state park, you’ve probably heard these words: “Don’t feed the bears.” However one adventurous Norwegian, named Ragnar Thorseth, threw caution to the wind and fed open-faced salmon and mayonnaise sandwiches to a polar bear—by hand. This amazing feat, filmed during a family sailing trip in Svalbard in 1987, has just become available online. Check out Thorseth’s run-in with one of Svalbard’s polar bears below.

So who is this gutsy Norwegian? Ragnar Thorseth is best known for his adventuring spirit. Often called “The Last Viking,” Thorseth completed several notable sailing expeditions, retracing the paths of both Leif Eriksson and Roald Amundsen. All the more incredible is that Thorseth set out on many of his famed journeys in replica Viking ships. Completing a 2-year trip around the world in “Saga Siglar,” a Viking merchant ship, in 1986 and a 6-month expedition from Norway to New York as part of the “Vinland Revisited” expedition sponsored in part by the Norwegian and Icelandic government in 1991. In fact, our own Viking magazine chronicled Thorseth’s journey on “Gaia,” a replica of the famous “Gokstad” ship, in the August and October 1991 issues. Thorseth also has the distinction of being the first Norwegian to reach the North Pole by land.

Despite setbacks from a serious horseback riding accident in 2000, Thorseth welcomes his newest adventures as a grandfather, hobby fisherman and golfer. He has also continued to produce films, including a recent NRK documentary with photographer and friend, Trygve Berge.

If you’d like to learn more about Ragnar Thorseth or the “Vinland Revisited” journey on “Gaia” visit You can also reserve “Viking Voyage,” a VHS film chronicling the journey, from our media lending library by calling 800-945-8851.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tubfrim Winner Announced!

As you may, Sons of Norway is an annual contributor to the Norwegian Tubfrim program, which raises money to help children. For the past 27 years, our members have been clipping canceled postage stamps and sending them to Tubfrim, who then turns around and sells them to dealers and collectors.

Originally the money went to assist children afflicted by tuberculosis. Today, however, the organization also works to improve the quality of life for children and youth living with a variety of handicaps. Sons of Norway members play an integral role in providing this much-needed assistance.

Here's some of fun facts about Sons of Norway's participation in Tubfrim:
  •   From January 1, 2010 to January 31st 2011, Sons of Norway members contributed more than 4,000lbs (1,835 kilos)! That's nearly 2 TONS of postage stamps! 
  • Sons of Norway's contribution equals nearly 50% of all stamps sent to Tubfrim in a given year!
  •  Tubfrim has a Facebook page.
  • Tubfrim is owned by the Norwegian Health Association (Nasjonalforeningen for folkehelsen).
    Today the profits are used to help handicapped children and youth in Norway, and to finance the efforts to eradicate tuberculosis.
While helping children is probably incentive enough for our members, Sons of Norway does something to thank those who participate by holding an annual drawing for a free plane ticket to Norway. For every pound of stamps collected, the member or lodge is entered into the drawing which is held every January.

This year’s winner was drawn during an installation ceremony held at the Sons of Norway Valhall lodge 6-025 in San Diego, California. I’m pleased to announce that the winner is Lollo Sievert, a member from Vegas Viking lodge 6-152! Congratulations, Lollo and have a great time in Norway!

If you’d like to participate in the Tubfrim contest and get the chance to win a free ticket to Norway, visit the Tubfrim page on the Sons of Norway website.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Divine Design

Viking readers already know that Oslo is a beautiful city. And the folks at Wallpaper magazine, a British journal of design and style, are in full agreement. They recently listed Oslo among five best cities worldwide in their 2011 Design Awards. They cited the city’s livability, natural beauty and great new architecture—including the newly reopened Holmenkollen ski jump, pictured here—as reasons for the recognition.

Want to learn more about the new Holmenkollen? Check out Stephen Regenold’s article, “Airborne Over Oslo,” in the current issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Image courtesy of Flickr user puzzled.

Genealogists: Have You Tried the Digitalarkivet?

Exciting news for genealogy researchers—I received an e-mail the other day from a colleague about the Norway’s National Archives. Apparently the NNA has created a free, online, searchable archive of census information dating back to 1910!

Admittedly I’m no genealogist, but after spending a little time playing around with the archive interface, I can see how it would be super-helpful to anyone researching family history in Norway. The website allows you to search by inputting as much or as little info as you have. Some of the standard search fields include name, gender, marital status, occupation, DOB and DOD. But, if you have more information, there are other fields you can add to the search, like assumed residence, habitual residence, ethnicity, language and year of emigration. Even cooler than that is that the search doesn’t stop when your ancestor left Norway—the digital archive also allows you to search by last known residence in America and occupation in America.

Also, the searchable archive allows you to narrow your search by geographic region or fylke. This would probably be helpful for people doing geological research who are unsure about the specific city or farm where their ancestors came from.

I know there's already lots of great tools our there for conducting genealogical research, but from what I hear there’s always room for more.  This reminds me, I’ll have to make sure this site gets added to the Genealogy Cultural Skills unit. If you aren’t familiar with it, its one of the many Cultural Skills units that Sons of Norway offers to members. Other units include rosemaling, hardanger embroidery, Norwegian language and folk dancing. If you’ve never taken the time to check them out, I highly recommend it!

Ok, that’s all for today, now go try out the digital archives and let me know if its helped you make any breakthroughs in your familial search!