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First, I want to say that I am sorry for not posting to this blog in a while.   I have many excuses, some are better than others.  The better ones are that I have been very busy and have been burning the candle at all ends (sometimes in the middle too). Many of these activities have not been related to the theme of this blog, thus nothing to write about.

My original goal for this blog was to write about some of the fun things I do and think about which relate to Norway or my Norwegian roots.  And many of those things I am still doing, including:

  1. Working with companies both here in the USA and Norway,
  2. Torske Klub
  3. Vesterheim
  4. Genealogy
  5. NACC
  6. Sons of Norway

to name a few.  As a part of that goal, I had also hoped to include input from readers and sharing of stories with many others of Norwegian background or who enjoy Norway like I do.  I had also hoped to find things that were different than the usual to talk about and discuss.

Some of these goals have been met.  I was introduced to the Norwegian-American Weekly newspaper out of Seattle Washington (Hi to Jake and Christy, see norway.com) and have enjoyed writing a few articles for them as well as doing article research for their blog (blog.norway.com).  This has been fun but has also been time consuming.  I’ve also had the great chance to talk to and meet some fabulous people including many of the people that I  have written about here, far too many to single out right now.

Some of my goals have not been met.  I had hoped to open a dialog among Norwegians, in particular those living in Chicago, but also, others living throughout the USA and in Norway.  Many of us like reading about our Norwegian roots but not too many have wanted to talk and discuss those roots.  I had also hoped to influence in some small way how we relate as Norwegians to each other, how we relate to Norway, and in some way maybe help Norway to relate better to us.

I realize that the later goal will take much time, effort and energy, for which I will try to reapply, restart and rekindle.

I’ve taken a number of pictures in the last few months and collected a few from friends and I hope to make a new entry shortly so you can enjoy them.

Ken Nordan,
Contributing Editor

All air travel in Northern Europe has been shut down due to the eruption of the Volcano in Iceland. A large ash cloud has moved over Norway and other Northern European countries closing airports. Check out the animation on the Aftenposten website to track the cloud.

Norwegian World War II documents (over 5,000 in total) have been declassified and placed on the National Archives web site.

The sinking of Blücher is one of the main themes, and include documents  of the German attack plans for southern Norway, which were found on the shore of Gråøya two weeks after the sinking of the German warship.

On April 9, 1940 (70 years ago) the German warship Blücher and several other ships tried to slip into Olso to take over the Norwegian government.  A battery of gunners at the Oscar fortress shot 280 mm shells into the ship and along with torpedoes fired from the fortress submarine torpedo battery, sank the Blücher. Because of this short battle the Norwegian Government and Royal Family were able to escape Oslo and make their way to England and the United States.

King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav

We all remember the famous picture taken in the birch trees near Molde in April 1940 of King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav during the flight north after the German invasion of Norway.

As I read the documents I’ll report on any interesting items.

Contributing Editor
Ken Nordan

God påske alle sammen! Happy Easter to everyone. I just love getting together at my mothers house for her lamb. Mostly because I miss seeing my mom but also she makes great lamb and I always get to take home the bone and then I can make some great lamb stew. I learned to love lamb as a child and learned to love making lamb stew as an adult. Best to all.

The Norwegian company AquaFence (www.aquafence.com) has set up a demonstration flood protection system in the city of Fargo, North Dakota. Fargo with it’s large population of Norwegian decedents is under 100 year flood alert for the second year in a row.

Helge Krøgenes, chairman of the Norwegian company AquaFence, flew out to Fargo to demonstrate his companies flood protection system. “They can be more effective than sandbags”, said Helge Krøgenes. He says it takes 2000 volunteers 12 hours to build a 500 meter long wall of sandbags. Twenty five installers take one and a half hours to set up 500 meters of the Norwegian flood protection system.

Already protecting the city hall

“But already now, the water is up by the walls we have erected”, said Krøgenes. “A wall is protecting the town hall in the city, and another is set up at the riverbank.”

Source: NRK

Don Hoganson receives his diploma and insignia of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit: Officer gentlemen, from His Majesty King Harald V of Norway via Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen in a ceremony in Chicago on March 16, 2010. Mr. Hoganson is a good friend to the Norwegian community not only in Chicago but throughout the United States and in Norway. He has worked tirelessly to foster relationships between the US and Norway.

Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen pins the insignia of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit: Officer gentlemen on Don Hoganson

I like to make a habit of learning something new everyday, be that thing small or large. Today I learned that reading Ibsen can make you feel better, much in the same way that “The Blues” can make you feel happy. I was told that no matter how bad you have it, the singer of a blues song or a character in an Ibsen play has it much worse.

Lee Hoofnagle and Sara Gmitro

Last Saturday I learned to enjoy the sound of a Finnish Kantele. A Finnish Kantele is a traditional plucked string instrument of the zither family. It is sometimes called a lap or table harp and has a long history. The earliest forms of the instrument date from pre-historic times and had only 5 strings. The earliest references are found in ancient Finnish poems and were attributed to a mythical Finnish sage and shaman by the name of Väinämöinen. He built the first one from the jawbone of a giant fish with strings made from the long hair of a young Finnish women.

A closeup look at the Finnish Kantele sound board

The Sons of Norway Polar Star Lodge invited Sara Gmitro and Lee Hoofnagle, two accomplished Kantele players to perform for the members. I was impressed by the clear tones these instruments produced. Sara and Lee played several traditional Finnish songs as well as a few hymns. Sara told me that she also plays contemporary Christian music for church services at the Our Saviours Lutheran Church in Naperville, something I think I need to check out one day. Lee enjoys playing folk music and has a repertoire from many different countries including songs she plays with an Estonian group.

It was great to hear these interesting instruments and I think I would like to listen to some more Finnish and Estonian folk songs in the future. If you or your group would like to have these ladies play I’m sure they would like to introduce you to the Finnish Kantele. Sara can be reached through the Our Saviours Church in Naperville.

I usually take my own picture at event like these but when I saw the photos that Frank Krawczyk was taking at the event I thought I would ask him to use his work. So I’d like to thank Frank for sharing with us his photos of Lee and Sara.