Showing posts from 2011

Diploma for Christmas


O Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree has some hints of Norway!

 [See the flags and ornament?] [Fiskesuppe for Mom's birthday dinner - made with salmon and shrimp]


Gomme was one of my favorite things last Christmas with Marius' family. Marius' mother copied her recipe (all in Norwegian) for me and I translated it. I have had a lot of first attempts with cooking different things this fall: pumpkin pie from scratch with a butternut squash, cranberry wallnut bread, and now gomme and fiskesuppe. It turned out OK, but I know what I did wrong, so we'll have to have another couple of practice rounds before sharing it with the rest of the family. 
Tonight for the rest of Mom's birthday, I will make fiskesuppe for dinner and riskrem for dessert. She probably already guessed it, but Marius sent her a bottle of Aquavit for her birthday too. 
[Preparing the gomme - you boil milk and then add buttermilk to use the møsse (or curds), and add cardemom, raisins, milk]
[Gomme and rolls - the cardemom cost $11!!]

Home for Christmas

Flew into Detroit via Frankfurt on Wednesday. Marius and I woke up at 4:30AM to get to the airport for my 6:30 flight. When we took off from Bergen, a kid was screaming and crying so loud; then 5 minutes into the flight the guy across from me got sick, so the plane turned around back to Bergen to get him medical attention and made us delayed about 45 minutes to refuel. Luckily, I had a 5 hour layover in Frankfurt so by the time we landed I had about 90 minutes to get to my gate.
Customs is always an interesting situation. The officers always say "Norway?! What are you doing in Norway?!" But home now and still kind of on Bergen time. I get exhausted by 9:30 and then wake up at 6. This weekend we will get our tree and put up decorations.

Vår lille Jul

Since I am going home for Christmas this year, Marius and I had our own little Christmas this weekend. We did a mixture of Norwegian and American traditions. Traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve food the night before, and opened presents in the morning. Santa even gave us some goodies in our stockings ;) And we watched Elf and ate gingerbread cookies this morning.
On Wednesday I'm flying home (via Frankfurt) for Christmas! Looking forward to getting back into Diaz Family Christmas traditions!

[My camera really washes everything out! But here is Marius in front of our 'Christmas Eve' dinner - julepølse, medisterkaker, kålrabi, potatoes and carrots] [Marius' camera takes some nicer pictures: (from left to right) decorations, stockings in the window with the typical Norwegian window display, dinner, and our tree with presents] [Gløgg for dessert - basically mulled wine with almonds and raisins]

Yay på snø!

Yay for snow!! Bergen got a bit of snow the past few days and the air has that nice crisp feeling to go with how pretty it is this time of year.
[view of Ulriken from outside our apartment] [Løvstakken - on the way to the tram]


Many Norwegian traditions are distinctly regional. Even recipes are variable by region to go along with dialects that can be different by town separated by just 50 kilometers. This tradition, that both Marius and I were new to trying, was from a town just about an hour and a half east of Bergen called Voss....smalahove, or half of a sheep's head that is cooked in a broth for several hours. Smalahove comes from two Norwegian words: smale = sheep, and hove = head. It is served before Christmas with potatoes, mashed rutabaga, and red cabbage.
Many of my friends were telling me that the cheek is supposed to be the best part, and others were saying that they wouldn't dare eat it. So I can now say that I have done something that many other Norwegians haven't dared try. I actually really enjoyed it! It had a texture like corned beef and had a very nice flavor. Marius went as far as to try the tongue, and thought that eating the eye was a normal thing, so tried that as well...but h…


The Christmas season has begun! Marius and I put up decorations last weekend, but they're only on the Christmasy red wall side of the living it's time to turn up the spirit and complete the rest of the living room. Today I made a massive gingerbread house with Maria and Birgitte. They started at 2pm, and I didn't arrive til close to 4pm. We were finally finished with the baking, construction and decorating at 9:30pm. I'm looking forward to taking it apart and eating it in a couple weeks to celebrate the end of exams.
[Maria used close to 2kgs of flour to make the dough for 3 houses and lots of extra cookies!] [My house put together - Lots of sugar to hold the puzzle together] [Our finished products! Mine is the one on the left, Maria's is the very professional one in the middle - you can tell she has done this a few times.] [After tricky transportation back home (on the bus and walking against gusting wind) and set up by the decorations]

Study Checklist

Coffee: check!Notes: check! Flashcards: check! Textbook: check!

100 Species

Jimmy Buffett can always get me in the mood for getting acquainted with marine species. I'm sitting in front of 30 pages (over 100 species) of Norwegian coastal species for my exam on the 29th. Sadly, this music also gets me itching for a tropical getaway!


Thursday, Marius and I flew north to Trondheim because he had a meeting Friday morning. No snow up there, but it was around freezing. We stayed with his friend Martin and we took a tour around their former university, NTNU. It was a nice old campus, and the rest of the town was cozy and rustic. I also got to see some friends who I had met in New Zealand.
[On the "old bridge"]
[Marius and Martin by Norway's Hogwart's - NTNU]
[Trondheim's oldest cathedral, Nidaros Cathedral, established in 1152] ["Would you like to see my basket of heads?"] [Snow in the mountains seen from the plane back to Bergen]

And we have sun!!

I noticed that the sun was setting earlier and earlier each day...according to, Bergen will lose about 5 minutes of daylight each day. By the end of this month, we will only get 6hrs and 26mins of sun!
Svalbard (an island up in the Arctic Circle, waaaaay north of Norway) is already in complete darkness, but in February, they will start to gain an hour of sunlight each day. CRAZY!

Happy Birthday Marius/Halloween

Today is Marius' birthday! Yesterday, we had a few friends over to celebrate. I made chili and chocolate cake. A few of us also bought some pumpkins and I taught the Norwegians how to carve their first pumpkin! It was fun to have a Halloween themed party. The apartment has some cobwebs, a skeleton and various Halloween candles for the weekend.
[Look out for the hand in the birthday cake!] [Introducing pumpkin carving] [Excited over the pumpkins and his birthday] [The whole gang, except Ola (the hands in the bottom right) and myself]

Tuesday was just a tease

Winter is fast approaching, and my beautiful running weather on Tuesday evening was quickly spoiled the next day. Got to keep some sanity while the sun sets earlier and earlier each day!

Arctic plunge

Took the jump into the ocean after my run today. Expected worse...kind of like jumping into Lake Superior actually. But the air was still warmer than the water so just standing outside afterwards wasn't so bad.
It was my Bear Grylls moment...although not quite extreme enough to have to strip down to my 'nickers' and do some push ups to warm up Ha Ha

Today's run...

...was fantastic! I went around the water instead of along the road today. Clear skies and a nice sunset. The warm gulf stream was felt too with the occasional warm breeze. With some help from Bob Marley, I felt like I was running in Florida or something...nearly forgot it's late October in Norway and the mountains have snow in between here and Oslo. Wild!
Returning from a nice run with a smile on your face is a great feeling! Tonight I made chili for Maria...she really liked it. I think it will have to be my signature dish. Tomorrow night we will have the left overs and Thursday is a 'shrimp party'...we'll catch our own shrimp and fish and cook it up to celebrate the end of the field course!

Riding the waves in a chair

So, this is a continuation of today's post. I just had to put up this video of me in a wheely chair while the boat was rocking. I was not pushing myself along. The boat was rocking and the chair followed. It was so much fun! I wish the video had a shot of the more severe rocking moments...I was going from one side of the cabin to the other!

Marine Fauna II - 1

The second and last week of the Marine Fauna field course at Espegrend Biological Station: The weather was ABSO-TOOTEN-LUTELY BEAUTIFUL today. Warm and clear blue skies, so I eagerly raised my hand to go on the vessel today. We went to the mouth of the fjord where it was quite choppy but still very nice. We just took one kelp sample to look at bryozoa.
The weather was so nice the whole day that it was hard for me to keep focused until 4:30 when we were finished for the day. When we were allowed to be done for the day, three of the girls and I went for a walk around the area to enjoy the weather before the sun went down. Tonight we will be having another skolest dinner. [Painted topshell - Calliostoma zizyphinum]
[Bryozoa - Membranipora membranacea]

Marine Fauna Field Course - 5

Day 5 (delayed post): Today I volunteered to help on the vessel with the soft sediment dredge and sieving. Bad but also a good decision to endure the cold wind and rain for 3.5 hours. The dredge was put in the water and the boat either pulled it for too long of a distance, or the speed was too slow. The mesh was full of a couple tons of very fine sediment (the kind people pay money to lay in at spas). It was too heavy to pull on board right away so the skipper tried to pull it near the surface for a while to lose some of the contents. Fail...Then they pulled it up a little higher and sprayed a hose over it for a a while...Then they were able to get the gear on board.
As soon as it was laid down, a heap of mud came out of the front of the dredge all over the deck. The crew then attempted to put a rope around the bottom end to collect the more important part of the sample, but when it was raised, it pulled up the top more than the bottom part that they wanted and even more mud spewed ove…

Marine Fauna Field Course - 4

Day 4: Intertidal day...the usual. But a pretty sea anemone (Family Actinia), some crabs (Carcinus maenas), and various snails.
Dinner tonight was homemade pizza - we've really been feasting at Espelend. No complaints!

Marine Fauna Field Course - 3

Day 3: Sponge Day!!! [My hydrozoa] Identified a hydrazoa (beautiful!) and watched it 'attack' my pointer. I also filmed a barnacle - may sound like a boring thing to take a video of, but they're actually kind of cool to watch. (See below)
After lunch the sponge dredge came in, and we took a look at the different sponges with help from the local sponge expert. [Looking at local sponges]

Tonight's dinner was skolest (a very ugly fish) that was caught on the Masfjorden cruise by the other group; served with potatoes and carrots. Very tasty!
Also, winter is on its was so cold when I went running today that I could see my breath as soon as I stepped out the door! That's what happens at 60°N.

Marine Fauna Field Course - 2

Day 2: Up at 7:30 to have a bowl of cereal and tea for breakfast before going back to the lab for more taxonomy work.
Identified some sea urchins, hydroids, worms, and hermit crabs today. Pretty straight forward.
Dinner tonight was lasagna. I'm going to have to go on a diet after this!!
Some pictures of what I looked at today (borrowed from the web): [Hydroid]

Marine Fauna Field Course - 1

10 days at Espegrend Biological Station began today.
Day 1: We started out on the boat, and collected two dredges for identifying species in the lab. A very easy, straight forward day.
A group of us chipped in today to have tacos for dinner tonight, and tomorrow is lasagna. The rooms are really good for the 100kr per night fee. Everyone has their own room and bathroom ensuite, as well as a bunkbed, closet, desk, and internet cable. Pretty sweet digs! [The dinner table: ready for tacos!]
[Sweet digs]

Pelagic Fjord Cruise

Thursday to Saturday morning I was aboard the Håkon Mosby, a ship collaborated with the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the University of Bergen.

[Seagulls waiting for us to dump the sample]

Thursday, we took the bus up to Masfjordnes to meet the H. Mosby. We were taken to the vessel via a small orange boat that was then connected to a rope and we were lifted out of the water to get aboard. That was a treat! I will try to upload the video when it is available from my professor.

When we got on board and settled after the safety briefing, we sorted through a bottom trawl sample. We were then given baskets of multisample trawls to sort, weigh and measure the fish, shrimp and krill. At 12:30AM we finished our samples for the day and were allowed to go to bed once we had rinsed the floor. The next day began at 7:30 with breakfast before another 10 hours of sampling trawls. The final trawl, a bottom trawl, was the most diverse (and most interesting). There was a type of invertebrate tha…