Monthly Archives: November 2013

Museum Time

I spent Wednesday and Thursday with the Morgans in Washington DC. One of the outstanding features of Washington is it’s plethora of fine museums, all open free of charge!

So as well as an “Ask Anything” Bible study and ministerial breakfast, I visited the:

Marine museum

The Marine museum features some impressive architecture, designed to look like a flag from the outside, and with a large glass atrium inside (see 360 degree panorama here) As well laid out and informative as it was, the thing which had the most impact was hearing from some of the marines who helped as guides. Amidst the honour, loyalty and selflessness, I was left with great sadness  and questions about the brutality and the necessity of loss of life on so monumental a scale.

National art gallery

Entering through the almost cathedral-like main hall, we were treated to a special exhibition of Byzantium art, ranging from early portions of the New Testament to icons and household objects. Then we saw a range of paintings from the last 800 years depicting Bible scenes. Here are just a few, followed by an example of parking in DC!

Aerospace museum

This was the final museum, on my way to airport to fly back to Norway. There was just time to see the Space Shuttle (huge, but the wings look too small), the Blackbird (the worlds fastest aircraft, but only room for 2 people and a camera) and the Concorde (beautifully proportioned, but it doesn’t look big enough!):

And home . . .

At Dulles airport I spotted an early version of the airplane, which apparently didn’t get off the ground because the wings were positioned vertically, although it did function well as a bus. Then I was saw a very rapid sunset before flying back to Norway via Iceland. On the final leg of my journey, flying north over Norway, there was a very peculiar spectacle as the sun lit up patches of cloud below the aircraft bright red, almost like ‘tears’ in a sheet, or looking down on lava! Shame the plane windows were so dirty.

And now I’m back in the frozen north. Thank you again to everyone who made this a very memorable holiday.

Goodbye SC

I’m now safely back in Norway, but I’ve a couple of posts worth of photos from the US, so here goes.

Last Monday I visited various friends and took time to visit our old home, and the beach at Pawley’s Island for a swim. Whilst at the house (which is currently vacant, so if you know anyone who needs a home . . . ), I found a rabbit sculpture which I carved when I was about 10 and which had got forgotten in the move to Norway. Given that it’s made of concrete block it was too heavy to bring back, so David has kindly adopted it!

Thank you to everyone who made my stay so enjoyable with a home to live in, a car to drive, enough food for a small army, fellowship, worship and picking up where we left off last. You are all such a blessing!

Back in the Low Country

After visiting Ruth (daughter no. 2 and special education teacher), and her boy friend Jordan (correctional officer no 2) I’m back in the Low Country (coastal area of South Carolina which is, well, low / flat). On the way back we stopped to visit with Jordan’s parents and grandmother who are delightful southern folk, and enjoyed a Japanese meal at a ‘hibachi’ grill where you are seated around a giant hotplate / cooking surface on which the food is prepared as part of a show by a hilarious performing chef.

Today I played for two services at Prince George and really enjoyed seeing so many friends again,  directing the choir, and joining with the band and hearing Paul preach (rector / sokneprest). No pictures from church as everyone just wanted to talk. However, there was a rather cool Mini Cooper S parked outside, which I snapped before the 8am service.

After church we were invited for an open lunch and games afternoon with friends which finally finished a little before 9pm! Once again we experienced the ‘red carpet’ treatment. Thanks Tom and Lauren.

Fierce Creatures

Today we went to the zoo! We was Ruth, one of her college friends, myself and Carson, my old organ student from Prince George, and excitingly, now the organ scholar at North Greenville College, SC!

Columbia has a small zoo, but it did seem like almost everything we saw in the first hour was life threatening or at least capable of inflicting serious injury (and that was just the local wildlife) – biting, poisoning, kicking, strangling, etc. However, in stark contrast, almost everything else (fierce or not) seemed to be  asleep, apart from the overweight starfish

After the zoo we had lunch, then a walk around the South Carolina state house, including the monument erected as an apology for the slave trade. We even saw a metal palmeto palm and a real palm with a crescent moon in the background (South Carolina’s state emblem) – how cool!


Most of this week I’m in Columbia with Ruth.

This evening we visited ‘First Thursday On Main Street’. It’s a slightly bohemian arts event held downtown in Columbia where many of the shops and arcades become art galleries, and there’s music and food on the streets.  There was a lot of great stuff and I was going to take lots of pictures, but one of Ruth’s friends mentioned it might be art ‘bootlegging’, so here are just a few shots! I was especially taken by the special Christmas shop, designed to remind me of Norway and snow.

Georgetown And Old Friends

Arriving in Georgetown, SC on Wednesday was a surreal experience. It was like like ‘coming home’ in many ways, with a lot of things almost exactly the way I remember them from when we lived here, and yet things have also moved on too. It’s hard to describe!

It was great to see so many friends and leading a choir practice / playing in the church band gave me opportunity to catch up with a lot of folk. In typical Prince George fashion, the choir ladies arranged a supper, so we could eat and talk together. Choir, whilst smaller than when we moved to Norway sang, really well and it was just like old times! My friend Jeremy (aka Jeremiah Scott) is doing an excellent job as interim music director with band.

Days have been filled with meeting people and meals: some planned and others impromptu. The generosity of folk here continues to be a blessing with multiple offers of houses to live in, a car to drive, and enough food to feed a small army.

The weather has been warm but windy, so whilst a trip to the beach is possible, swimming is probably not safe.

On Sunday I played for 2 services at Prince George, and then for an All Saints Sunday choral evensong at Holy Cross in Pawley’s Island. A bit of a bus man’s holiday, but fun. I was joined by Ruth who has brought me to her home in Columbia for a few days.

Here are some random photos which don’t really represent what I did, there just never seemed much opportunity to take pictures of people!

Back In The USA

For the next couple of weeks, the Arctic Organist’s odyssey is taking a detour south west, as I (Jon) am visiting the US, catching up with Ruth and seeing friends in Washington and South Carolina. It was quite a temperature shock to step onto the plan at Tromsø surrounded by snow, and to exit Myrtle Beach airport (SC) into bright sunshine and 24C / 75f temperatures and 100% humidity!

I actual set off on Monday. Sarah attended a course on singing and choirs for small children, so we traveled together and I spent the day exploring and taking in a fantastic free lunchtime piano recital in the cathedral. These are pictures from the journey:

On Tuesday I took 3 flights. The first, from Tromsø to Oslo, as noted above, started with snow, but on arrival in to Oslo, it looked like someone had turned the seasons back to late summer / early autumn: no snow, leaves on the trees, etc:

The next leg was from Oslo – Reykjavik (Iceland). I had a couple of hours ‘layover’ in Oslo and came across a rather worrying statue, although it turned out that it only represented an early version of the plane launching system, and I was treated to the improved v2 system, involving self-propelled planes (the intermediate v1.5 based on rubber bands was also rejected – apparently because rubber bands gets brittle and lose their elasticity in freezing temperatures. Arriving in Iceland, the snow was back.

The third leg was from Reykjavik to Washington DC, coming over the coast of Nova Scotia. Heading west I experienced multiple sunrises and sunsets!

Everything went smoothly and I stayed the night in Washington DC with our good friends, the Morgans, before taking the next two flights on Wednesday, from DC to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Myrtle Beach in the sunny south.