15 February, 2010

Christmas in Norway!

So, yeah. Epic fail on my part. Christmas post the day after Valentine's Day. Shame on me...

On the one hand, this means I'm keeping busy!

Christmas in Norway was the best experience ever. It was so nice to be relaxed and at home with family--especially being able to see family I haven't seen in such a long time! Matt, Linda, Ben and Sondre are all doing great, as evidenced by the pictures, and it was truly wonderful of them to host me for three weeks of winter break!

I arrived just a few days before Christmas, my flight made an ordeal by a freak snow storm the day before, which delayed my first flight enough that I almost didn't make my connection! But I did, luckily, and it was all good! My baggage, however, was not as fast as me, and so arrived a few days later.

Christmas was absolutely special in Norway. Never have I experienced a Christmas which was so movie-perfect: snow outside, fire going constantly, the small children running about, the cookies, the candy, the stockings, the tree, the fun and family! Christmas Eve was held at Linda's mom's house, the highlight of which was Sondre making an appearance as Santa while sitting on Matt's shoulders! Christmas Day dinner was at the farm, and the whole family was there. The entire thing was wonderful: let me count the ways...

* Benjamin is not taller than me (yet: okay, the kid has like an inch to go...)
* We got to ride Lise's horse "King" (the Norwegian equivalent which I can barely say, much less spell)
* We went ice skating!
* I did not have to go skiing! Yes!
* I got a real Norwegian buff (it's like a magical scarf)!
* I saw Peter Northug make Tour de Ski history--and I enjoyed it!
* I got green chile stew, because Matt keeps his larder well stocked!
* We visited the Swedish cabin, where...
* I got to ride the snowmobile!
* I also had the honor of telling Ben and Sondre exciting bedtime stories of Doctor Who, Star Wars, Supernatural, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These were awesome bonding times.
* Sondre and I watched Doctor Who episodes fanatically.
* Matt and I watched Supernatural episodes fanatically.
* Matt and I visited Nidaros Cathedral--the awesomest place in Norway!
* Matt, Linda and I had a night on the town to see the new Sherlock Holmes!
* I learned a few Norwegian words, which I have since forgot. As I pronounced them incorrectly, anyway, I'm sure it doesn't matter.
* I now have a mighty fine hat, which has a Norwegian flag on it.
* New Years was spent with Americans and Aberdonians! Matt and Linda's "English" friends are (half) from Aberdeen! Small world, much?
* Ben and Sondre were schooled in the art of stage fencing by myself. Hopefully the obvious telegraphing built into the swordplay style will prevent them from killing each other. But I make no promises.

And, most importantly, I survived -32 degrees Celsius (that's -26 F!!!) weather! The weirdest bits had to be when the moisture inside my nose froze solid. Weirdest sensation ever. Also, seeing Linda's eyelashes freeze so that it looked like she had white mascara on was awesome. It was just way too cold. On the plus side, I wasn't made to go outside basically at all.

So Norway was spent basking in the three hours of sunshine per day, learning to build fires out of wet wood, wrestling with Ben and Sondre, making beer bread, and soaking up every enjoyable minute of family time. Just as I got used to driving on the right side of the road again, however, I had to go back!

Pictures to follow, and in the next installment: Desiree's trip to Aberdeen!

04 January, 2010

Thanksgiving (for the end of term!)

Wow, sorry for going AWOL there on y'all! And, yes, I realize that there is truly something sick and twisted about writing a Nov-Dec post in January. But, here it is:

I was delighted more than you can know to actually have a Thanksgiving dinner! In fact, I had two: one was put on by the Christian Union, and included a sort of American-themed presentation with which I was able to help out!

I also had a real American Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day with Lynne, Tom and Jennifer. It was a blast. Lynne and I had class until 4, so since we didn't start really cooking until then, we didn't eat until well after 9:30pm. There was an enormous turkey, bacon-wrapped sausages, potatoes, green beans, cranberry-apple relish, bread and herb butter, with port to drink! It was all very yummy, but the funnest part was making it. Tom and Jennifer's flat has a really temperamental smoke alarm, which had to be fanned constantly whilst any cooking was going on. I wish we could have gotten pictures of this part but we were unfortunately all otherwise preoccupied at the time. (I guess that's the nature of those types of things, right? The really good bits don't allow for a photographer.) The fact that cooking all that food with everything that went wrong or just plain crazy (like the decision to march out in the cold to the store to get ingredients for the cranberry relish at around 7) only took five hours was kind of a miracle.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful bacony-buttery turkey?


If you're done cooking, stay out of the kitchen, they said. Fine by me, I said.

Maybe we can just photoshop these two together...we were all too hungry to wait for a camera timer.

We finished off the evening by imbibing, hanging out, and watching the latest episode of Supernatural which Tom was able to get a hold of the minute it got off the air in the States (so, like, very early the next morning). No class the next day, so Lynne and I crashed at Tom and Jennifer's for the night. It was just crazy/fun enough to sate my appetite for the usual Gunn clan Thanksgivings.

Who ever heard of maturity at the Thanksgiving dinner table? It would break with tradition!

Okay, Lynne, easy. It wasn't that funny.

Mmm...Jennifer's homemade apple crumble!


Mmm...gotta wash all that butter down somehow...

I have since blocked all the bad parts of the end of the semester out of my memory, but somewhere along the line papers got written, classes were still attended with some degree of regularity, and some studying was done (okay, yeah, that's wishful thinking). There's a big gap in my memory from Thanksgiving until I was suddenly walking with Jamie (from AURA) away from the history building where we had both, apparently, although I have no actual recollection of this incident, just turned in our papers. Then the fun began again!

Lynne and I met up with the rest of AURA for a fun Christmas dinner at a Chinese buffet on the beach, finished up with Dodge 'Ems ("Bumper Cars," remember) and general good times. Then we met Jennifer in town for our one and only night of anything resembling clubbing. It was quite cold for club/pub-hopping, so we returned after a few drinks (the best raspberry mojito I had ever tasted) and one bout on one dance floor. But it was definitely good times.

Jennifer, Tom and I started getting all emotional by this point, because in a few days it would be the last time we would see Lynne, who, like a loser, was attending Aberdeen University only for the semester. I guess our prayers were answered, because a sudden freak snowstorm delayed her flight to the States for a few days, AND she very nearly avoided being on this flight: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8430612.stm

We had Tom and Jennifer over the night before our flights ("flights?" with big question marks because of the snowstorm) for my famous medieval-themed dinner (recipes from Dr. Obermeier and Richard II). Good times were had by all and none of us were sad AT ALL. (Yeah, right.)

My flight, on the same day, was late enough that it didn't get cancelled, so Jennifer and Tom got to keep Lynne at their place for a few days until her flight actually left. My flight, was, however, delayed, and I had to rush to make my connecting flight to Trondheim in Amsterdam. I was sitting in my seat for literally five minutes before the plane actually took off. My luggage, however, was not so lucky (it arrived a few days later).

Here are some more pictures (taken by Lynne) of our last few days in Aberdeen:

We play with each other's hair a lot during our sleepovers.

Considering opening a shop.

We take cash or credit.

Poor Tom. I honestly don't know what he does when we get into our sessions....

See, Mac is the dark side. What else could pull Tom away from watching Supernatural?

Yup. That's our Tom.

"I'm only being a fussboots because you're being an @$$hole." A direct quote. That exact face. A long story.

A few places of note. Most prominent being the Arthur class which Lynne and I share. This is in King's College. The walls are just lined with (locked, unfortunately) cabinets full of really awesome books on British studies. I was geeking all over myself and trying to get into the cabinets for the first half of term.

This is "our" table at The Bobbin, a student pub where me, Tom, Adam (a friend of Tom's from the Navy, pictured) and occasionally Lynne would meet in-between classes every Thursday for a burger and beer.

And, last but not least, the room in which our infamous Supernatural game takes place. And I apparently look like a Muppet when I'm eating. Why has no one told me this before?

Jennifer as GM with an unnecessary two laptops. Andy (a player in this game, GM of our weekend Serenity game, and president of AURA) sits in the background.

The Wednesday afternoon Supernatural game lost it's original GM, but we all loved it so much we now take turns GMing so it can continue. As the first GM jokingly called himself "God," we carried the joke to it's logical hilarious conclusion by referring to gaming sessions run by different people as denominations of a religion. We are "Jennifertarians" in this picture. When I run the game, my followers are "Meganites." When Tom runs the game, we are, get this, "Thomascopalians." Made of win.

See. The Salon is all-pervasive, encroaching even into game time. What a bunch of girls.

Well, hasta la vista for now, and I'll catch y'all in Norway!