This summer has been a bit odd for me. I feel like I've been in limbo, but after transitting Saturn (astrology's wet blanket) moved away from it's conjunction to my natal Mars (astrology's Dennis the Menace), some of that feeling of limbo lifted. One effect is that I now feel like blogging.
It's not like I haven't experienced anything worth blogging about this summer. Or that I haven't had a reason to be in limbo besides the astrological one. So what follows is my version of "What I Did This Summer":
One tradition in Norway is to celebrate Midsummer's Eve (June 23), also called St. John's Eve (Christianity's version of a merger). One especially traditional way to celebrate said eve is by attending the Laksevåg bonfire. Laksevåg is a municipality across the harbor from downtown Bergen and was incorporated into Bergen in 1972. It is the venue for Norway's largest barrel bonfire and this year was its 101st anniversary. My friend Torleif and I made an attempt to attend the 100th anniversary last year, but the weather decided to be extremely wet, so we changed our minds. This year, though, we had hazy but warm weather, and an incredibly wonderful evening by the seaside, watching the huge bonfire burn down in the sunset, and boats of all sizes and shapes converging by the molo protecting the marina. Torleif got completely nostalgic, remembering the long, pleasant summer evenings of his youth. We don't have midnight sun here in Bergen, but we have midnight sunsets/sunrises where the glow of the sun never completely leaves us throughout the night. A magical light, coloring the world in soft pastels.
At work, things have also been in limbo. Our company is now a subsidiary of a Danish insurance company and we are now feeling the Danish influence. Their approach to work routines and decision-making is different from the Norwegian way, so we're trying to adjust to a new corporate culture. For me and my department, this means doing things last minute and with very tight deadlines. Our company magazine is yet again getting a new look, a new name and a new approach. We will be doing the layout and printing for both Denmark and Norway and the Danes like a hectic schedule (apparantly). I can't say that deep down inside I'm all that enthusiastic about the pressure I expect this will bring. And we have a bit to loose: Once again a consultant is to see if there's any point to my employer having an in-house print shop. If we goof in any way with any job for our Danish owners/colleagues, we hammer a nail in our own coffin.
Normally, I'd just take this sort of challenge as a game – "Let's show 'em". But since we've had very little work so far this year (and I've been doing an awful lot of web surfing on company time), and the company magazine is now going to be an 8-page monthly rather than the current 24-page monthly, I'm wondering if there is any future for me at our in-house print shop. So, I've re-read a book I bought a few years ago (Venus in Capricorn is always thinking about work), "The 12 Principles Of The Work We Were Born To Do" by Nick Williams. Basically, it's a book full of affirmations, meditations, and a way to approach work from an attitude of work as blessing, not chore. I don't have a problem with that, but I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up and thought the book would help me with that. Starting tomorrow, I'm embarking on a 12 workday plan (1 workday per principle) to see if I don't dislodge a few good ideas. I'm thinking that this autumn, I should be either looking for another job or taking classes that will give me the necessary skills to be eligible for another job. So there will be daily affirmations now where I try to find my purpose – and get rid of my aversion to service (!).
In the meantime, I am trying to remember the blessings I do have at my current place of employment: A good and considerate boss, fun co-workers, at times challenging and rewarding work, a nice office, convenience, seniority, security – and the joy of yet again seeing baby seagulls growing up on the roof outside our office windows (the two smudges on the picture are two of the babies). Everything around me carries on as if there is a future, and it's a nice reminder to me to follow that example and not stay in limbo.
This summer has been the coolest in Southern Norway in 10 years. Although it hasn't rained much, there's been a lot of clouds, so it hasn't felt like a proper summer. The upside is that there are fewer bugs than usual.
I tried to get off my butt and take a trip. Called a travel agent regarding a charter trip to the island of Jersey and actually got that old thrill I used to get at the idea of travelling. But when I didn't hear from the agent, I put the trip out of my mind and couldn't work up any interest or enthusiasm for alternatives. So yet another summer vacation spent at home. (Part of the reason for that is my cat, who hasn't been feeling well this summer.)
This time, I made sure to get out of the house a bit more than usual. I took a long Sunday drive with my friend Torleif and his kids. We initially wanted to take a boat trip but literally missed the boat, and so went for a long drive in the country, picnicking on an old boat landing, and ending up at one couple's self-created "bird garden": A lush two acres contained several aviaries and flower beds, with a small gravel path winding its way from one picturesque spot to another, all the labor of love of a couple in their 30's. Their home sat in the middle of all this beauty, and every window was filled with plants. Life was abundant in many ways there! Other places we stopped at reminded me of my childhood. Some places were the places of my childhood, like the now rusted and disused ferry landing across the fjord from where I grew up, watching the ferries crossing.
I did get myself off on a boat trip, a 4 hour round trip north of Bergen in the Osterfjord, and into landscape that was dramatic, wild and virtually untouched. In many places, the only sign of human activity were the ubiquitous power lines. I had just read about the computer game "Myst" and as we sailed into the narrowing Osterfjord, it occurred to me that if anyone wants a landscape for a fantasy game, this would be perfect inspiration. Steep, tree-covered mountains rose above the narrowing fjord, with clouds above adding dramatic light. In some places the cliff was sheer, naked rock. Way off in the distance, sitting on a glen by itself, was a large white house. It looked almost like a castle of some kind, isolated in all the dramatic green and blue, shadow and light. I could definitely see something other-worldly about the whole setting.
Routine got broken by meeting other Usenet users in town and getting to show them around. I finally went to the movies (haven't done that in a long while), and saw "Super Size Me". What got me was what school children were allowed to eat. Every once in a while, I'd visit Grandma, who's becoming less and less happy about being in the nursing home, the better and better she feels (understandably). Three weeks have passed and I don't have much to show for them. Did find a nice use for iTunes Music Store although residents of Norway cannot yet purchase music via iTunes: I got to listen to all sorts of bands I never heard before or were wondering about. I ended up buying a Blue Öyster Cult album, among others, and was surprised to find out that their song "Don't Fear (The Reaper)" was a hit in October 1976 in the States. I was living in California then, but can't remember the song. Anyway, I'm enjoying a new (if old) acquaintance. Phish is my next project; they are a favorite of my friend, Alice, who now has a blog – "10,000 monkeys & a camera" (see links). I'm also enjoying a completely new acquaintance: The Norwegian band Dadafon. For a change, I tuned into some music videos on TV and discovered a fascinating female voice and melodies I could like. I like breaking out of my musical mold every so often. Most of my collection are "Greatest Hits" albums with performers who were big in the 70's and 80's, and sometimes I think it would be nice to actually get something new.
So it's Sunday evening, and I have to get up early tomorrow and go to work. I haven't missed it, I don't care if I do go back. Not the optimum attitude, but I'm sure that once I'm back in a routine again, I'll enjoy myself. I do like my job, you see. Anyway, let me tell you about my last "splash": On Thursday, I took a boat trip around the island of Bømlo (more or less). Part of the trip was with an old boat about 100 years old, the "MS Granvin". We started in questionable weather but ended up in bright sunshine and on a calm fjord. Even the North Sea was flat as a table. The trip's highlight for me was the tiny and idyllic island village of Espevær. On such a beautiful summer's day, Espevær appeared as one huge garden.
One thing I kept trying to get a hold of this summer was floppy waffles. Norwegian waffles are served hot or cold, but soft, and usually with jam on. But hardly anyone offers them nowadays. It used be, that wherever you went, someone was making waffles; every café offered them. The closest I've come to that experience this summer, were the thick cooked-on-the-spot pancakes (so-called "lapper") on the "MS Granvin". They were good!