Archive for Life

Life

Anticipation

I’m currently in Christmas Anticipation Mode, when I’m in this weird state of not quite being ready yet to dive into the holiday season but still thinking about it. I’ve watched a few TV specials, and I’ve listened to the Christmas music they’ve mixed into the regular lineup on the classical radio station (since classical Christmas music isn’t quite as obvious as what gets played on regular stations), but I haven’t started actually playing any Christmas music and haven’t put up any decorations. I also haven’t watched any Christmas movies.

I have this strange thing of putting off doing Christmas, then it’s suddenly Christmas and I’m not ready, but I kind of like the anticipation, thinking about what I’ll do when it’s time.

I’m tentatively planning to do the decorating this Friday. That’s when I’ll flip the switch and go into holiday mode. That’s about the time I normally would have gone to a friend’s tree-trimming party, so it’s a good time to kick off the season. Then I can go all out with the holiday movies, music and books. And this year, I don’t have to worry about being busy, though I have to record a few songs for choir (we’re doing the thing where you record your part and then it all gets edited together).

I do need to get my head in the game for shopping, though, since I have a week until I need to start isolating so I can visit my parents for Christmas. That means shopping earlier than I usually do or shopping online. We’ve pretty much agreed that we’re not going to worry too much about gifts this year since the circumstances are challenging, but I’d like to do something.

But for the rest of the week, I’m holding out, getting in my last bit of non-holiday time and anticipating what I’ll be doing when it is time.

Life

Holiday Break

I can’t believe it’s already almost Thanksgiving. I’ll be taking next week off from posting, since my posting days would be the day before and the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m planning to visit my parents, which makes me a little anxious because of all the warnings about traveling or gathering with family. I try not to think of myself as an exception when it comes to rules, but in this case, I’m pretty sure I’m not doing what they’re warning against. I will have been isolating for a couple of weeks, not even going to the grocery store, before the trip. It’s a non-stop car trip, so unless something goes horribly wrong, I will have no contact with people between the time I leave my house and the time I arrive at my parents’ house. It will just be the three of us, with no other guests the entire time, and my parents have been staying isolated all along, other than trips to the grocery store during the early-morning “vulnerable shoppers” hours. We won’t be leaving the house or seeing other people, and I won’t be in contact with other people on my return trip. So I think I’m okay here and not doing what they’re telling people not to do.

In school, I was always the kid who took it personally when the teacher yelled at the whole class and tried to do better or fix what was wrong, when the teacher was really talking to someone else. I guess I’m still the same way, hearing the warnings that are more likely aimed at people who aren’t isolating nearly as much as they say they are and who are bringing together multiple households, including others who are being far less careful than everyone else, and I’m the one feeling guilty because I’m breaking the rules.

I’ll have to do all my shopping right after Thanksgiving because it won’t be long until the two-week quarantine for Christmas begins.

Every year, when I get caught up in all the busyness that comes with the holiday season, all the choir rehearsals and performances and parties (and the parties generally all seem to fall on the same weekend), I say that I’d love to have a peaceful season, a time to be quiet and contemplate instead of running around. Well, this year I’m getting that, and I’m kind of looking forward to it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it, and a good week if you don’t. I hope to have book news when I come back.

Life

A Real Job!

I’ve gone on an isolation lockdown for the next couple of weeks so I can safely visit my parents for Thanksgiving. I’ve bought groceries and run all the errands, so I shouldn’t have to go anywhere other than to a gas station and out and about for walks. I tried to do some menu planning before shopping so that I had the ingredients I need to make the meals I want to make. Some creativity may be required by the time I get to next weekend, especially if I’m trying to get a good balance of nutrition. I went for weeks between grocery trips earlier in the year. It was just during the summer that I got used to going every week since I was eating a lot of fresh produce. Now I can switch from salads to soups when I run out of lettuce and tomatoes.

I shouldn’t have any trouble staying occupied. I’ve been working on revising Lucky Lexie book 3, I’m researching a book, and I seem to have found a new freelance job back where I started my career. A friend from church asked on Facebook if anyone knew any freelance writers with a medical background, and I told her I used to be a writer for a medical school. It turns out she works for an organization connected to that same medical school. I’ve already got my first project in the works. I still plan to focus on writing novels, but that hasn’t been making much money lately (in spite of two recently released books, which is kind of depressing), so it’s good to have another source of income that won’t take up too much time. If I have free time, I can pick up a few projects, and if I’m busy, I won’t do as much.

But this is giving me a bit of mental whiplash, going between “how is she going to catch the bad guy this time?” and “how does this organization provide support to physicians?” I’m a lot more accustomed to writing about clinical medicine and research than administration, but it’s still sort of in the same wheelhouse, and I do have some familiarity with the language. I’ll just have to remember that I’m not allowed to bring in magic, even if it would make things a lot more interesting.

I’ve also had to get back in the mindset of professional conference calls. It’s a bit different from talking to book editors, and I haven’t even done that for a while. Fortunately, there are no in-person meetings these days, so I don’t have to wear truly professional clothes or shoes. As long as I’m good from the waist up, no one will know that I’m wearing pajama pants and fuzzy slipper socks.

Today is really a day for online meetings, as I have three of them. Now it’s time to go to work, for a real job this time.

Life

Farewell to a Friend

This weekend there was some sad news with the passing of fantasy and suspense author and my good friend Roxanne Conrad, better known by her pen name, Rachel Caine. You may know her from her Weather Wardens series, or possibly the Great Library books, or possibly the Morganville Vampires series.

Rox was one of the first writer friends I ever made. I met her when I was about a year out of college at the first writing conference I went to. I don’t remember how we got started talking, but based on what I know about her personality and about my personality, I suspect she took pity on me when I looked lonely and awkward and struck up a conversation. Her first book had come out, so I was in awe of a “real” author. I was just at that point in my life when I’d decided I was going to actually do something about that lifelong dream, and that conference was a big leap for me. We bonded over the fact that we both loved the books of Katherine Kurtz, and I remember her getting out the Locus magazine she had with her so we could look to see if there were any new books coming out.

I ran into her at a few events over the next ten or so years, but I really got to know her better around the time my Enchanted, Inc. books started coming out. She was already well known as Rachel Caine for the Weather Wardens series, and since they were both in the contemporary/urban fantasy realm, we ended up on a lot of panels together at conventions. At the same time, I became part of a group of friends she was also part of, and we frequently gathered at her home, where she was always a gracious hostess. We did a few booksignings together, since we were among the local authors publishing in the same general category. Her Great Library series, which had a bit of steampunk flavor, launched at about the same time my Rebels series came out, and we had a joint launch event at my neighborhood library, along with our other friend, P.N. Elrod.

Rox was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. If anyone had a need, she’d jump in to take care of it. She was great about paying it forward and boosting other authors, often bringing her friends along with her on trips to various events. She once brought me to a convention in Denver where she was one of the guests of honor, since she had to leave from there to go on a book tour and she needed someone to travel home on the train with her husband (you need two people to get the good kind of compartment that he likes). I don’t know if she remembered that first conversation we had, but one of the other guests of honor was Katherine Kurtz, and thanks to Rox I got to meet one of my writing idols. At the convention’s booksigning, Rox arranged for me to sit next to Katherine.

Rox was truly a writing machine, and so dedicated to her work. At many a convention, if you walked through the lobby early in the morning, she’d be there, typing away, getting her words in even though she was at an event. I don’t even manage to write blog posts while I’m at conventions. Cancer barely slowed her down. She kept on writing.

My last real social outing before the pandemic hit was going to a writing group meeting with Rox. I’d mentioned on Twitter that I needed to find some local writing groups, and she invited me to join her for a meeting with the local Sisters in Crime group. She’d joined but hadn’t been to a meeting yet, and it would be easier for us to face it together, and my house was on her way there, so she offered to pick me up. So, she dragged me out of my house on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, and since it was a bit of a drive, we had a nice long chat along the way. Then there was the sneaking around the library, looking for a way into the meeting room that wouldn’t have us barging in behind the speaker when we got there late, thanks to traffic. It turns out, that was the last time I saw her.

The loss isn’t entirely real yet. I’ll notice it at the next convention when we aren’t on any panels together.

I think my favorite book of hers was a one-off, Prince of Shadows, which was a take on Romeo and Juliet that actually fixes it. It’s told from the perspective of one of the other characters, and it shows what was really going on behind the scenes to make events work out like they do in the play. I’ve decided that it’s canon for me, so I imagine all that going on in the background now when I see a production of that story (though I’m still figuring out how it might work into West Side Story).

Farewell, my friend, and thank you for all the support and kindness over the years.

Life

On Trend

I seem to have accidentally stumbled upon being trendy—something that never happens to me. I’m not the sort of person who listened to the band before it was cool. I usually discover it after it’s no longer cool. But for once in my life, I may be ahead of the curve. I noticed a mention online about a trend called “cottagecore,” which seems to be about a way of making being stuck at home be pleasant, focusing on cozy, homey things like baking, gardening, knitting, making jam, etc. Gee, I’ve been doing all that for ages, so I guess I was cool before all that became cool. If you’re an Instagram influencer, there’s apparently a wardrobe and aesthetic that goes with it, and I’m not really there, so I guess I’m not totally cool. I do like the vintage-inspired dresses, and I have made a floaty muslin nightgown, but my “cottage” wardrobe is more likely to be yoga pants and t-shirts.

Pink celosia flowers in pots
I didn’t actually plant these. They grew from seeds shed by last year’s plants.

This is part of all the flour and yeast shortages from earlier this year, since everyone was baking. Last month, I couldn’t find canning supplies, which were sold out everywhere because everyone’s been making jam and putting up the vegetables they grew in their gardens, so I froze the peach butter I made. I did find jar lids last week, so I’m set for when I want to make a fall batch of apple butter. I’ve got a bit of an English cottage garden in pots on my patio. I’ve got lots of pots of celosia (coxcomb) that grew from seeds that

Blue morning glory blooms
My beloved morning glories.

must have fallen from last year’s flowers, since I didn’t plant anything. And there’s my morning glory, which gets babied because I love those flowers. I got wild and crazy last week and bought some lettuce plants, so I’ll be growing my own salad.

In the meantime, I’m gearing up for a full-on hygge fall and winter. I’m searching for the perfect scented candles to create the best atmosphere for various activities. Spice and citrus scents are supposed to be good for focus while working, and I want to find something that smells like a campfire, since I can’t have a fire pit where I live. I’ve discovered wood wick candles that crackle like a fire. I’m looking forward to evenings snuggled under a blanket, with a “campfire” candle crackling away, good music on the stereo, and a good book. Then there are mornings and afternoons on the patio with my flowers and a cup of tea.

I’m not really fancy enough to have a “lifestyle.” This is just stuff I enjoy. I love baking because the process is enjoyable and the results are even more enjoyable. Green things make me happy. I like to be surrounded by nature. I’m happiest among trees, but flowers also work. I like making things and learning things. Maybe I should put on a floaty dress and start Instagramming all this.

And I’ll probably still be doing all this stuff when the influencers have moved on to the next trend.

Alas, it’s still too warm to do much baking right now. I’m so ready for fall weather. But I guess it kind of works because I’m deep into work on a book, and I might as well be inside churning out words while it’s still too warm. Then maybe real fall will hit when I’m through with the book and ready to take time off.

Life

Never Bored

When you hear the same thing said about you by multiple people, I suppose it counts as an accurate assessment of your personality. The thing I hear is rather an odd one: “You’re never bored, are you?” I’m not entirely sure it’s always meant as a compliment, and I’ve heard it in a variety of settings, from a variety of people. And it’s actually true. I don’t even understand boredom. The closest I come is when there’s something I need to do that I don’t want to do, but I don’t want to let myself do anything fun instead because then I’ll never get around to it. I actually deliberately try to create a state of boredom to force myself into doing the thing I need to do, for lack of anything better to do. Sometimes I’m paralyzed by indecision about what, exactly, I want to do, but I don’t know that I ever really feel like there’s nothing to do.

I’m more likely to have way more things I want to do than I have time to do. There are books to read, stuff on TV to watch, musical instruments to play, music to listen to, things to sew or knit, gardening, writing, cooking, even housework and organizing. And that’s without leaving the house. Last weekend, I had a list of things I wanted to do and barely got to half of them.

I don’t even need stuff like books or a TV around to amuse myself. I can just sit and think and be entertained. I dream up stories in my head, make plans, analyze things, write mental essays. I can replay stories I’ve read or watched and spin off new ideas based on that. I actually like thinking so much that most of my efforts at meditating have failed because my brain sees just sitting still as playtime. I’ve learned to go to bed early to give myself time to lie and think before I go to sleep.

I was thinking about this when talking to friends last week. We went around the group on the Zoom call, talking about how we were coping with the lockdown. One friend mentioned that she was so bored that she’s been doing laundry every day just to have something to do. Then I started mentioning the list of things I’ve been doing and how I’ve been enjoying having time to do them all. That was when I heard it again: “You’re never bored, are you?” I’ve been reading a lot, listening to concerts on the classical radio station, writing, studying Norwegian, trying new recipes, watching theater online, organizing my house, and gardening. I haven’t gotten around to playing much music or singing, so my voice is out of shape. I’ve thought about doing more sewing, and I haven’t done a knitting project in months because I don’t have the yarn for what I want to do and I haven’t gone shopping for it.

I think I learned to amuse myself at an early age because I was an only child until I was six, and there weren’t a lot of other kids my age in the neighborhood. Then even after my brother was born, it was a few years because he was interesting to play with. I had all kinds of games I played alone, mostly involving making up stories and acting them out. Since we moved a lot, I was frequently the new kid, and there was always a phase before I made friends, so I had to work on my self-entertainment skills.

I don’t know if all this led to me being a writer, or if it was me having the aptitude for writing that made me able to cope like this. When you can make up stories, you don’t ever have to be bored.

Life

Nutrition, Fashion, and a Fancy Lunch

One thing I learned from my checkup a couple of weeks ago is that I have to lower my cholesterol. Most of my numbers are pretty good, but my LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) is a bit higher than it should be. It’s balanced out some by a higher HDL (the “good” cholesterol) level, but my doctor still wants me to see what I can do with lifestyle adjustments.

Fortunately, I know all about what to do about that. My first job out of college was at a medical school. I was a writer and public information officer, which meant I wrote articles and news releases about the departments I covered and handled press inquiries relating to those departments. One of those departments during part of my time there was the Center for Human Nutrition, along with nutrition research in general and the clinical nutrition training program. Cholesterol was the biggest thing being discussed at that time. Two of our doctors had won the Nobel Prize for research relating to cholesterol. I’ve written so much stuff about that, and I have the information direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

I even have a book about lowering cholesterol and thereby lowering heart attack risk, which I got at an event relating to the medical school, so I pulled it out and started reading it. That was when I realized how much things change and evolve in science and medicine. The copyright on this book was 1993, and I already could see things that are different now. For one thing, according to the scale in this book, I shouldn’t have to do anything. My LDL would have been well within normal parameters, but they’ve since changed the recommendations, so I now fall within the “nothing to be too alarmed about, but you should probably make some lifestyle changes so things don’t get worse” level. The recipes in the book tend to be pretty high in sugar, and they’ve found since then that high sugar is also a risk factor. It’s a trick to balance lower saturated fat and lower sugar and simple carbs. Avocados are a no-no in the book, and now they’re recommended. I think the views on eggs have also shifted since then.

But that’s how science works. They’re constantly adjusting and fine-tuning as they learn more. What they’re recommending one year may be different from what they recommend later. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to scientists because they change their minds. In fact, you know you’re dealing with good scientists when they’re willing to change their thinking based on evidence.

This book definitely brought back memories because the event where I got it was an interesting one. Because research is so expensive, the school was always doing fundraising activities, which generally involved Dallas society, the wealthy people who mix charity with fun, so they’re always having balls and parties to raise money. I sometimes had to go to these events to write about them, which meant I’d end up at mansions with butlers answering the doorbell. I’d pull up to the valet that they had to use for guest parking in these neighborhoods in my Chevy Cavalier when everyone else had Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars. I was in my very early 20s and making about $20,000 a year, so it was quite a contrast.

For the event where I got the book, I wasn’t yet assigned to the nutrition department, but the university president’s secretary called our office not long before lunchtime one day and said she needed some women to fill seats for a fundraising luncheon. I don’t know if someone had backed out or if they didn’t sell all the tickets, but they didn’t want empty seats. The next thing I know, I’m in the secretary’s car, being whisked off to this fancy luncheon full of Dallas society women. They stuck me in one of the empty seats, and when the lady sitting next to me introduced herself, I realized I was sitting with Margot Perot — wife of the infamous billionaire and sometime presidential candidate H. Ross. Then I learned that the entertainment for the luncheon was a Chanel fashion show. That was awkward because I was wearing a Chanel-style suit from Casual Corner. It wasn’t a true knockoff, no fake logo, or anything like that, but it was definitely that style. I was sitting there in my cheap imitation, surrounded by billionaires and millionaires who wore the real deal.

Models walked around the room while we ate our fancy salads and stopped at each table to describe their outfits and answer any questions. Fortunately, it was mostly resort wear, so no one was wearing the real deal version of my suit. And it turned out that Mrs. Perot was delightfully snarky and had the same attitude about that kind of fashion as I did, so next thing I know, the two of us are Statler and Waldorfing the fashion show. After we were through eating and looking at clothes I’d never be able to afford, there was a speaker. I don’t remember who it was, but it might have been one of the authors of this book, which was given out to each attendee, along with a Chanel goodie bag containing a full-size bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume. That perfume alone probably doubled my earnings for that day.

Reading through this book took me back to that day, when I was very much a fish out of water, but one of the top fish was so kind and friendly that she put me at ease. I may have to find a way to put this experience in a book. In the meantime, I need to do a little more research into the current dietary recommendations. I think mostly I need to cut back on the amount of cheese I eat. One of my indulgences during lockdown has been finding the fancy cheeses in the Kroger cheese shop that have been marked down, and that’s generally what I have for lunch. I eat way more than the recommended serving size, I’m sure. I’m also trying to exercise more and at more intensity. I’m the kind of overachiever who wants to get a better “grade” on my next cholesterol test.

Life

Time Off

It turns out that book 1 in this series is in reasonably good shape. I should manage to finish this round of revisions tomorrow, and then since there’s a holiday this weekend, I’m going to take a bit of a vacation. Not that I’m going anywhere. But I think I need a mental vacation. I may do some brainstorming and work-related reading, but I won’t try to write. So, I probably won’t be posting here the rest of the week.

My kitchen seems determined to annoy me. Last week, there was the refrigerator saga (still no word about it being delivered). Then over the weekend my toaster oven died. The top element stopped working, so it wouldn’t toast or broil, and having it on “bake” meant the lower element overachieved to try to reach the right temperature, so the bottom of things burned. But Target had the current equivalent of this one, which was at least ten years old, so all is well and I’ll be able to have toast again. Really, during the summer I do a lot of my cooking in the toaster oven so I don’t have to heat up the big oven. I use it for broiling fish, baking potatoes, heating up things that I want to be crisp. I thought about getting something really fancy, but I decided I don’t really have the room for that, and I’d want to do more research. It sounds like when you get one that does too many things, it doesn’t do any of them well. Right now, I just want to be able to make toast, heat up baked goods, and broil fish.

My weekend fun was learning all about the Black Death. Amazon was offering the Great Courses program about that as a free preview this month, so it’s expiring Tuesday, and I realized after I got started that there are 24 episodes. They’re only half an hour each, but that’s still a lot. I really liked the lecturer. She even mentioned that The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is one of her favorite novels (me too!) and confessed that she has a contingency plan for if she gets sent back in time to that time. So I was binge-watching the Black Death this weekend. These were all filmed several years ago, so she had no idea what would be happening now, but it’s interesting how little human behavior has changed in all that time, even though we know a lot more about how disease works now. I am looking forward to moving on to cheerier topics once I finish this. Some of my friends are watching it, too, so we were discussing it on Facebook. This is probably one of those “you know you’re a nerd when …” things.

I’m going to have to figure out what I want to write next — do I do the third book in this mystery series, start working on this fantasy series I’m developing, take another look at the book I wrote last year that needs to be rewritten, play with the women’s fiction idea I’ve had brewing? That’s part of what I’ll be figuring out this week.

Life

Enjoying Summer

I’ve really been trying to adjust my attitude toward summer, to not just look at it as something to endure, and it might be working.

I decided that I will celebrate the first 100-degree day of the summer by having ice cream, and I even bought a pint of ice cream. Wouldn’t you know, there isn’t a temperature over 95 in the 10-day forecast. Not that I’m complaining. I just find it amusing. Will that pint of ice cream sit uneaten in my freezer all summer? If we don’t get a 100-degree day by Labor Day, I’ll make a peach cobbler then and have ice cream. If we do get a 100-degree day, then I get ice cream, so win-win.

Because it hasn’t been too hot, I’ve been able to sit out on the patio and read in the evenings. I generally have enough light for reading until about 8:30. That’s something I can’t do the rest of the year.

I love summer fruit. They had watermelon on sale last week, and I picked out one that had all the signs of being good — and, boy, was it. It’s so sweet that it’s like eating candy, and it’s huge, so I still have half of it to go. Then there are blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. I’ve got plenty of dessert stuff in my freezer, but with all this fruit, I haven’t wanted it.

Normally, I enjoy the swimming pool in the summer. We have a community pool that’s quite nice and usually not too crowded, depending on the time of day, but I’m not sure I’m going to use it this year. The kids don’t have a lot of other things to do, so they really need the pool, and I don’t want to be there while there are crowds. Maybe later in the summer it will quiet down some, and we’ll see whether they have in-person school in the fall. I tend to get the most use out of the pool after school starts in August, and it stays warm enough for swimming until late September.

Then there’s my patio garden. I didn’t plant anything this year, aside from planting a couple of morning glory seeds, but I’ve got a bunch of flowers. It seems that the packet of “annual cutting mix” seeds I thought were duds last year, when only a few things sprouted, really kicked off this summer. I’ve got all kinds of strange things growing. The one plant from that packet that did grow, the celosias (coxcomb), seems to have spread seeds like crazy. They sprouted from every pot on the patio. I’ve had a bit of a problem with squirrels digging things up or stepping on things and caterpillars eating everything in sight, so I’ve started bringing the pots in overnight (when the pests seem to cause problems). For the morning glory, I’ve been spraying it with garlic spray to discourage caterpillars and putting peppermint oil on cotton balls around the pot to discourage squirrels, and it’s put on some new leaves that haven’t been eaten. When I’m sitting out and reading, I like looking at my plants and noticing the little day-to-day changes. Since all the summer events have been cancelled, I won’t be traveling, so I won’t have to worry about how to make sure my plants don’t die without water while I’m gone.

So, those are some things I love about summer. I can get some of the fruit year-round, but the rest are things I can’t really do at other times of year, so I’ll enjoy them all while I can.

Life

The Wolves Are Eating Me!

I had a nice, relaxing holiday weekend. It rained a lot of the time, which I didn’t really mind. I had just enough patio reading time, plus plenty of time to sit inside and listen to the rain.

One thing I’ve been doing during the lockdown is studying Norwegian. Part of my family came from Norway, and I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the place because it hits a lot of the things I like, with mountains, forests, and lots of water. A couple of years ago, I’d thought about taking a trip there, but that was when all the medical stuff hit and I didn’t want to make advance plans at that time. Now as I’ve been building a fantasy realm to write in, I’ve found myself modeling it on Norway. It has all the elements I need, along with some cultural things that I can work with. I’d been thinking of taking a research trip later this year, and then the pandemic happened, so travel isn’t likely for a while. But I figured that gives me some time to prepare for when I can go, so I got on Duolingo and started learning Norwegian.

I don’t know if it’s the words and sentences Duolingo chooses to teach or if there’s something I should know about Norway, but it’s starting to look like Norway might be the Australia of the north. One of the first words they taught was “spider.” Then we learned about wolves and bears. We learned how to say “The wolf is eating me” and “The bear is eating him.” We learned all that before we learned how to order in a cafe (which was one of the first things I learned in German).

What are the tourist brochures not telling us about life in Norway if you need to learn to say “The wolf is eating me” before you learn to say “A cup of tea, please”?

Annoyingly enough, I can remember how to say “The wolf is eating me” better than I can remember how to ask for a cup of tea. In fact, “Ulven spiser meg” is about the only sentence I can say in Norwegian off the top of my head. I’m not entirely sure how effective the Duolingo learning model is. I get most of the quizzes right, but I don’t know how much I actually am learning and remembering. From what I understand, “Norwegian” is a fairly recently constructed language, mostly based on Danish with a few touches of old Norse, and isn’t actually all that widely spoken. Most areas have their own dialects, and what we think of as “Norwegian” is mostly used as a written language and for things like national television broadcasts. It may be useful for reading signs and newspapers and getting around the country, but in a lot of places, people might be more familiar with English than with Norwegian when it comes to conversation. They start learning both languages in school around the same time, and they may watch more American television and movies than they do Norwegian television and movies.

Still, it’s good to know at least a few words. I like to know how to read things like signs and restaurant menus, and with my name it will probably be good to be able to understand what someone’s saying to me when they assume I speak Norwegian (I had that issue when I was doing PR for Ericsson). My library also offers a language learning system that’s more based on conversation, and I may try that one after I’ve picked up more vocabulary and sentence structure from Duolingo.

One thing I’ve learned is that the letter “d” is mostly silent in Norwegian. My whole life, I’ve been having to tell people that the “d” in my last name is silent, since it’s really hard to pronounce it if you try to sound it out. It turns out, that’s actually the proper Norwegian pronunciation. The family in Norway spells it with a “v” instead of a “w,” though. That got changed somewhere in the journey to America.

I may have to rely on YouTube travel videos instead of a research trip for now, but someday I hope to make use of my language lessons. The ordering in a cafe and getting around the country part, not the being eaten by wolves part.