I met Sissel Neset last year for a most enjoyable evening at Frogner Sculpture Park in Oslo. Sissel’s in her 20s, an accomplished horsewoman, a teacher, a clever and vivacious young Norwegian, and pure fun to be around. This year was the best treat of all…Teresa and Sissel got to meet and hang out together, instantly bonding in what hopefully will be a life-long friendship AND Teresa and I got to meet Sissel’s family—including the friendly furry members.
The photo at the top of the elder cousins (my age) includes Knut (Arne and Gurine’s elder brother) and Brynhild, who were Sissel’s grandparents. Just above is Sissel’s dad Harald, Sissel, and her mom, Unn Neset. They live south of Oslo on the kind of farm that Norwegian emigrants tried very hard, and often quite successfully, to recreate in the Midwest of the U.S. Lush green pastures, shade trees and bright flowers; sturdy, well-built and perfectly maintained buildings for people and animals alike. It reminded me of Minnesota—as well it should since we’re a very Norwegian state.
I met Knut, Harald’s dad, on the 1985 visit and marveled at how much he and my Uncle Ilif looked alike. Knut seemed like such a fine and interesting person to know but we couldn’t really converse because of my lack of language skills and the fact that older Norwegians didn’t always speak English. He was in a concentration camp in Germany in WW11, as the family was part of the Norwegian Resistance and Knut was captured. He survived in part because he worked with his dad’s small trucking firm, and the Nazi’s needed his mechanical skills. I so wish I could have heard his story first hand but both Arne and Harald have shared some of it with me.
I think Harald is retired now, although with the farm and animals being retired doesn’t mean not being extremely busy. Unn is back in school studying for a new career which is wonderful to me since I can never seem to stop studying either. But her pursuits are many—in addition to the horses, she and Harald operate a cat hostel and hospital. Really. And it is equal to any animal (and some people) environments that I’ve ever experienced. It’s large bright building full of cats and cat memorabilia and supplies and it smells good! I don’t remember how many cats are there recovering from surgery or illnesses or just staying while their families are out of town but there are many cages with contented cats, both large and small, on the premises.
And then there are the HORSES. Sissel’s babies. They’re so sleek and happy and beautiful out in that lush grass and sunny summer weather. We got to meet some of them although I’m remembering they weren’t all there? I hope I’ll get to see Sissel ride sometime in real life as she looks splendid on Facebook. She rides dressage which is a highly-skilled and elegant form of riding.
It was a beautiful day in the countryside near Fredrikstad. Meeting new cousin-friends, spending some time in the Norwegian countryside on a farm that made me homesick for Minnesota, and enjoying my favorite food—waffles and strawberries.