20 February 2010

"Don't Think That You Are Special"

We all have varying hobbies, interests and "things we search for on the internet." I'm always looking for relevant information to allow me to expand on my knowledge of all things Norwegian. One way I do this is to follow various blogs, like the Norwegian Blog. To be truthfully honest, I don't know the origin of this blog, or much about the author(s), or the accuracy of the information. BUT I do find the postings interesting, and thus it peaks my curiosity to go on to look for more information

On the Norwegian Blog, Kari writes about the concept of Janteloven, which gives insight into the Norwegian psyche.


"Don’t think you are better than us or that you are special. This statement is the basis of an old Scandinavian concept that has been engrained in Scandinavian societies since before WWII. The author Aksel Sandemose, a Danish/Norwegian novelist created the concept of Janteloven in his book En flygtning krydser sit spor (A Refugee Crosses his Tracks), in which Sandemose portrays a fictional town called Jante, a small town much like his hometown where everyone knows everyone. For those of you that live a small town or perhaps come from a small town, you know how fast gossip spreads. Although hearing gossip can be interesting and spreading it can be all too easy, I think individuals who live in small towns would prefer that there wasn’t so much gossip. Life in a small town is much more comfortable when social stability is intact. Most of Norway up until the last couple of decades consisted of many small towns and villages. Even today most Norwegians live in relatively small communities where it’s difficult to remain anonymous. Aksel Sandemose’s Janteloven have long been believed to assist small communities in remaining stable."

  • Don’t think that you are special.
  • Don’t think that you are of the same standing as us.
  • Don’t think that you are smarter than us.
  • Don’t fancy yourself as being better than us.
  • Don’t think that you know more than us.
  • Don’t think that you are more important than us.
  • Don’t think that you are good at anything.
  • Don’t laugh at us.
  • Don’t think that anyone cares about you.
  • Don’t think that you can teach us anything.

Read what else Kari has to say about Janteloven on her Norwegian Blog entry of February 9, 2009.

Luci Baker Johnson


12 February 2010

Norwegian Commercial Club--"Promoting commerce, culture and social connections"

Last night, I attended a meeting of the Norwegian Commercial Club (NCC) with my fellow Nearby Norwegian and NCC member, Luci Baker Johnson. The meetings are held at the historic Son's of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge in the heart of Ballard. The Norwegian Commercial Club is currently the largest ethnic business club in Washington. Started in 1932, the club was attempt to broaden the base of prospective members of the former Odinian Society, made up of Norwegian Masons. It was determined that a larger membership base would make it possible for Norwegians to help one another during the depth of the Great Depression. The many purposes of the modern day NCC include the promotion and encouragement of local civic and commercial activity, fostering trade and commerce among its members, advocating good citizenship, and maintaining a social and business club for Norwegians and Norwegian Americans.

There are various businesses and professions represented within the membership of the NCC, everything from accountants to educators, fishermen to importers, as well as ministers, real estate agents, surveyors, and more; over 90 different vocations are listed in the Club brochure. Participants meet on the second and fourth Thursday of every month, excluding summers, and engage in a social and networking hour, dinner, and then a program/speaker, followed by general business. Dinner offerings are of a Scandinavian flavor. Last night the repertoire included drinks, coffee, an assortment of flat breads offered with butter, yellow pea soup, followed by a main course of breaded and stuffed cod, white potatoes, peas and carrots, and finally, applesauce topped with whipped cream. Ja, it was all very tasty, indeed!

Astrid Karlsen Scott

The guest speaker of the night was Astrid Karlsen Scott, who talked about her recent book, In the Shadow of the Gestapo. Astrid Karlsen Scott ws born in Oslo, Norway and currently lives in Olympia, Washington. She is considered an expert on Norway's culture, traditions, folklore and culinary customs and has conducted professional tours throughout Scandinavia. A free lance writer, Astrid has published about ten books on topics such as: WWII and the Norwegian underground, Norwegian cooking, and Christmas traditions in Norway. She has appeared on television and radio talk shows throughout the United States.

In the Shadow of the Gestapo is a true story about 21-year-old Gunvald Tomstad, a farmer from Flekkefjord, Norway. A pacifist at the beginning of World War II, Tomstad soon joined the Norwegian Nazi party, ascended to a trusted leadership position, and for two years sent radio transmissions revealing Nazi secrets to the Allies in London from his farm house. It is a story of patriotism and courage, and of the great personal sacrifice of Tomstad, his family, and friends.

Read more about Astrid Karlsen Scott, her publications, and activities at Nordic Adventures.

If the Norwegian Commercial Club continues to have such interesting guest speakers (as well as that wonderful Norwegian cooking), I will surely attend again. It was a warm and welcoming group of about a hundred people present last night, talking and joking, and relishing one another's company. Annual membership is $40, with a $10 initial application. Dinners are $25 each, or $23 for early registration, and guests are always welcome. Though, I have to warn that the inviting member is expected to introduce each guest, and following desert, just as you are settling in with a happy tummy to hear a wonderful lecture, you might just find yourself being handed a microphone!


Chery Kinnick

08 February 2010

Inventory of Morning Norwegian Cuisine

In a small town in southern Minnesota lives my father's youngest sister, Shirley and her husband, Burdette. My aunt and uncle will celebrate 61 years of marriage on the 12th of February and she will be 81 on the 28th. Blue Earth (Minnesota) is just 3.2 square miles and is located just off Interstate-Highway 90 and a few miles north of the Iowa border. There are less 4,000 residents and about 900 families. A small town - yes, but a town with heart, history and yes - the Green Giant.

"Flights, Freeways, and Detours," cover image

My Aunt Shirley is a marvel. For nearly her entire life she has written poems - snippets of life through the eyes of a daughter, sister, mother, grand-mother, great-grandmother, co-worker, friend, and neighbor. She was a secretary, bookkeeper and Licensed Public Accountant before retiring in 1993. She's written over 700 poems and in 1998 published her first book of poetry "Buckwheat Cakes and Cornmeal Mush (Growing Up in the Thirties)" She has a talent for capturing the surprise of language or perception. "She has a knack for presenting the exactly appropriate word for the exactly fresh metaphor ..." said one peer poet, author and editor. "She is both an astute observer and accurate reporter, pulling the reader into each event with delightful images."

In February 1999 the famous Minnesotan, Garrison Keillor, read one of her poems ("Country Haircuts") on The Writer's Almanac on NPR Radio. In the past decade she has published eight books of poetry, each one focusing on a facet of life as an american from the heartland.

Below I share with you one of my favorites. A poem written about a vacation she and Uncle Burdette took to Norway, the home of his ancestors. As you read the poem you can almost taste and smell the delicious Norwegian morsels of food.

--Luci Baker Johnson


Cold fish for breakfast—

in red sauce, creamy sauce, vinegar

Cold meats, thin sliced, arranged on platters

Pickles-cucumber and beet

Great chunks of cheese—

white, yellow, brown

with slicer provided

Water pitchers of milk and orange juice

Soup bowls stored beside cornflakes,

museli, vegetable bowl of sugar

Baskets or porcelain hens

with nests of soft-boiled eggs

near stacks of egg cups

Pyramid of saucers and cups

beside pots of strong coffee,

hot water for tea

In most hotels, yogurt and fresh fruit—

in some, caviar

Little plastic boxes of smor (butter in English)

vegetable bowls of jam—

strawberry, orange marmalade, and one other

Generous trays of breads—

coarse white, whole wheat, hard crusted buns

that sprinkle crumbs onto the lap

of one who presumes to split them

by Shirley Ensrud Flights, Freeways and Detours (of Vacations and Travel) © 2008