Archive for the ‘Fiddling With Fate’ Category

Holiday Giveaway Winners!

December 10, 2020

Congratulations to Kim H. (anxious58), Linda Hilton, and Jillian Schlosstein! Each will receive a signed, large print copy of the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Fiddling With Fate.

Thanks to all who entered, and for your lovely comments!

Holiday Giveaway!

December 8, 2020

Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, is available in large print. And I’m giving away a copy to each of three lucky readers!

Each Giveaway winner will receive a softcover book, signed and personalized. To enter, leave a comment below.

Entries must be posted before Midnight (Central US time) this Wednesday, December 9th, 2020. Winners, selected at random from all entries here and on my Facebook Author Page, will be announced on December 10th. One entry per person, please. Good luck!

Update—Travel With Me To Norway

October 30, 2020

When I partnered with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society and Group Travel Directors last year to plan a trip to Norway , COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar. We forged ahead with a spring trip announcement, hopeful that we’d all feel safe traveling by May, 2021. The planning committee agreed that having something wonderful to anticipate could only brighten such difficult times.

Well, we get to enjoy that anticipation for a while longer than originally planned. I’m sure it will surprise no one to hear that the Chloe Ellefson tour to Norway has officially been postponed.

I’m as excited about this trip as ever, and we are committed to making it happen! Although we’re not announcing specific dates at this time, we hope to travel in spring, 2022. When we do arrive in Norway, we shall have special toasts all around!

If you’d like to be on our mailing list for trip-specific updates, let me know. We’re grateful for your interest and support. Please stay safe and well!

_____________________________________________________

I write about special historic places in each of my Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, and nothing makes me happier than sharing them with readers.

Well, guess what?

I’ve teamed up with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society to offer a trip to Southern Norway—the land of Chloe’s ancestors! Click the link below to see what we have in store.

When I decided on a Norwegian setting for Fiddling With Fate, the 10th volume in my Chloe Ellefson Mystery series, I chose the area that enchanted me most. Now, you can experience the Hardanger Region as well!

Important note:  Although we’re making plans for a stupendous trip, no one can predict the future in these challenging times.  We understand.  We also know that anticipating an adventure can relieve stress!  If the pandemic makes it necessary, the trip will be postponed for a year (with a possible adjustment in price), not canceled.

For more information contact:

Group Travel Directors
952-885-2133
800-747-2255 ext. 133
jtollund@gtd.org
www.gtd.org

We also have a Tour Norway With Kathleen website created just for the adventure! It’s your portal for trip information, blog posts, and much more.

I am incredibly excited about this trip. I hope you can join us!

Symbols

June 4, 2020

Norwegian people have used symbols to express important thoughts since ancient times. Even simple carved, painted, or stitched motifs on building or folk art often had important meanings.

Fiddling With Fate:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery

Agnete Sivertsen, director of the Hardanger Folkemuseum in Utne, introduced me to the ritual use of symbols in old Norway while helping me identify an artifact handaplagg (hand cloth) to use as a prototype for one described in Fiddling With Fate, The 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery.

Hand cloths were traditionally worn during weddings in the Hardanger region. The geometric motifs stitched into this cloth are more than pretty designs. They have meaning.

After showing me the cloth, Agnete took me to the Hardanger fiddle gallery. The intricate designs embellishing many old fiddles are similar to the designs embroidered in the handaplagg.

Director Agnete Sivertsen, Hardanger Folk Museum.

My fictional handaplagg is introduced in 1838, when Gudrun stitches symbols into a handcloth for her granddaughter Lisbet to wear for her wedding.

Gudrun spread the cloth she’d been stitching over her lap. It was old, but she’d cared for it well. The linen was still crisp; the original black embroidery silk still dark and even. Her own grandmother had stitched her blessings and fears into this cloth. Most of the symbolism Gudrun understood, but she’d been young when her grandmother died.

The maker is unknown, but the handcloth is believed to date back to the 1700s.

Are there messages in the patterns that I’ve missed? Gudrun wondered, touching the old threads with a gnarled finger. Have I misinterpreted something I’m meant to pass on? Will coming generations understand what I’ve contributed?

When Chloe fictionally inherits a similar hand cloth, she takes it with her to Norway. She gradually discovers some of the meaning incorporated into her cloth—and many other types of folk art as well.

Squares like the one below represent agricultural fields; smaller stitches within represent seeds. Such motifs reflected hopes of a fertile marriage.

Detail of the handcloth pictured above. Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne, Norway.
Inked design on fiddle. Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne, Norway.

Circles and spirals were often used to symbolize male power.

Fiddle, Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne.

Ram’s horns (the reciprocal spirals at the bottom of the mangle board shown below) were invoked to encourage male fertility.

Mangleboard, Utne Hotel, Utne.

Sun symbols summoned all that was good and warm and holy. 

Stave container, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
Tankard, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa.

Some symbols protected the family and farm. For example, crooked designs like those below may have been intended to confuse and drive away evil spirits.

Kroting (chalk painting) done during a class at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

The stitched figures below may represent the disir, spirits who guarded women and linked their families from one generation to the next throughout time.

Embroidered cloth. Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo, Norway. (My apologies for the poor image quality.)

At the end of the book, Chloe asks an expert to share her thoughts about the symbols on her handaplagg.

Sonja smiled. “I think the women in your family wanted to protect their daughters and granddaughters from evil, and to bless their lives with love and balance and holy light.” 

Love and balance and holy light, Chloe thought. Who could ask for more? 

Do any symbols appear within your own family heirlooms or ethnic heritage? Have you included any in your own handwork? Feel free to share!

* * *

Would you like to learn more about symbolism found in Norwegian folk art—up close and personal? Join me on a special tour, Folk Art, Fjords, & Fiddles: Travel To Norway With Author Kathleen Ernst.

Travel With Me To Norway!

May 17, 2020

I write about special historic places in each of my Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, and nothing makes me happier than sharing them with readers.

Well, guess what?

I’ve teamed up with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society to offer a trip to Southern Norway—the land of Chloe’s ancestors! Click the link below to see what we have in store.

When I decided on a Norwegian setting for Fiddling With Fate, the 10th volume in my Chloe Ellefson Mystery series, I chose the area that enchanted me most. Now, you can experience the Hardanger Region as well!

Important note:  Although we’re making plans for a stupendous trip, no one can predict the future in these challenging times.  We understand.  We also know that anticipating an adventure can relieve stress!  If the pandemic makes it necessary, the trip will be postponed for a year (with a possible adjustment in price), not canceled.

For more information contact:

Group Travel Directors
952-885-2133
800-747-2255 ext. 133
jtollund@gtd.org
www.gtd.org

We also have a Tour Norway With Kathleen website created just for the adventure! It’s your portal for trip information, blog posts, and much more.

I am incredibly excited about this trip. I hope you can join us!

Chloe Ellefson Shelter and Soar Giveaway Winners!

May 7, 2020

Congratulations to Kathy Geisler Blaszczak, Claudia D. Says, and John Sutton! Each won a signed and personalized copy of Fiddling With Fate.

Thanks to all who entered! And…stay tuned for more fun.

Chloe Ellefson Shelter and Soar Giveaway!

May 5, 2020

It’s time for another Giveaway! This time, in celebration of completing my Hardanger Lullaby video, Mr. Ernst and I decided to offer three signed and personalized copies of the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Fiddling With Fate.

Three winners will receive a signed and personalized Fiddling With Fate trade paperback — which has now, thanks to you, been ranked in the top 1% of US print book sales for 175 days!

Enter now to win by leaving a comment below before 11:59 PM (Central US time), this Wednesday, May 6, 2020. One entry per person, please.

The randomly selected winners will be announced the next day here and on my Facebook Author Page.

Be safe, and happy reading!

Hardanger Lullaby

April 29, 2020

On my first trip to Norway, I experienced something special while visiting the Hardanger Folkemuseum’s open-air area.

Our guide, Maria Folkedal, took us into Tveismestova. I found the old farm so compelling that I used a fictionalized version in Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery.

Maria made it easy to imagine living in the building centuries ago.

Tveismestova, Hardanger Folkemuseum. Experts believe the structure is at least 700-800 years old.

Then she sang a lullaby that area mothers have used to soothe their babies for just as long.

It was a magical moment. Now, you can experience it too! Just follow this link to my YouTube channel.

Fiddling With Fate is about mothers and daughters, and Maria’s gift of song offered a new aspect of that theme. How could I not incorporate this experience into the book? Here’s Chloe’s take:

“I’d like to share with you a different aspect to life in the old days on the fjord,” the guide said. “Music has always been incredibly important to Hardanger people. This is a lullaby that local women have sung to their babies for hundreds of years.”

She began to sing. The lullaby, offered in a clear soprano voice, was hauntingly beautiful … and familiar. Chloe closed her eyes, taking it in. Had Amalie Sveinsdatter sung this to baby Marit? Perhaps the lullaby was somehow imprinted in Mom, Chloe thought, and got passed down to me.

Maria singing the lullaby in Tveismestova, August, 2015. (Sorry for the poor quality – it was dark!)

I’m grateful to Maria for sharing her talents, and so happy to share her song with you as well. Enjoy!

The Utne Hotel

March 31, 2020

Not many businesses claim a lineage dating back almost 300 years. The Utne Hotel, which can, is known as Norway’s oldest continuously-operating hotel.

The Utne Hotel in 2018.

In 1722 Peder Larsson Børsem was given a license to run a guesthouse in the village of Utne. The village was home to the district court, which kept travelers coming and going. A post office was established in 1826, and steamship travel in 1861. Explorers were followed by tourists.

For years boats beached right in front of the inn. This photo was taken between 1880 and 1887. (National Library of Norway/Wikimedia Commons)

The inn began modestly, with just a living room and one bedroom. Although the inn has grown, those rooms are still in use.

Women have provided much of the Utne Hotel’s hospitality over the years. From 1830 until 1900, Torbjørg Johannesdotter Utne was responsible for keeping the inn running. “Mother Utne,” as she was known, became legendary for making visitors welcome at the guesthouse.

Painting of Mother Utne by Eilif Petersen. (Photographed at the hotel.) In Fiddling With Fate‘s historical timeline, Torhild works for Mother Utne.
Gurid Aga, who ran the inn with her husband Lars from 1918 to 1956. They restored the hotel in 1930. (Photographed at the hotel.)
Hildegunn Aga Blokhus served as hostess in the 1940s. In 1956 she officially took over the hotel from her parents, and served until 1996. She thrilled guests by wearing her Hardanger folk costume and preserving food traditions. She had a fictional cameo appearance in Fiddling With Fate. (Photographed at the hotel.)

The hotel has never lost it’s reputation for warm hospitality and fine food. When I planned to have Chloe and Roelke visit Utne in Fiddling With Fate, the 9th Chloe Ellefson mystery, where else would they stay?

Photo taken between 1945 and 1960. (National Library of Norway/Wikimedia Commons)

They checked into Room 15. In the photo above, its window is just above “Utne Hotel.” As mentioned in Fiddling With Fate, a tragic legend tells of a young woman who jumped from that window after romantic heartbreak.

Room 15, Utne Hotel.
Room 15.

Roelke dubiously eyed the twin beds, pushed together to make a double. “Footboards. We’re both on the tall side for footboards.”

“Who cares, when we have the best room?” Chloe asked happily, as if the prospect of bruised toes was of no importance. “Look at this view!” She crossed to the open window and put her hands on the sill.

View from Room 15, Utne Hotel.
Today the view from Room 15 also includes the ferry dock.

Common areas include many antique pieces that have served the hotel for over a century.

Parlor, Hotel Utne.
A parlor.
Dining Room, Hotel Utne.
The dining room.
Mr. Ernst after an exhausting day of research.

My husband and I enjoyed our stay at the Utne Hotel immensely, so it wasn’t difficult to imagine Chloe’s joy at the opportunity to spend time there too!


Kroting

March 12, 2020

For centuries, Norwegian farmhouses had open fireplaces. A raised hearth was built in the center of the floor, with a smoke hole in the roof above. These “smoke houses” with a central hearth and/or corner fireplace were common along the western coast.

Tveismestova, the oldest building in the Hardanger Folk Museum Collection.

Kroting was a simple way of decorating a house with smoke-stained logs and few or no windows. In Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Chloe senses why it was important:

Chloe imagined living through a dark, cold winter in this dark, sooty room. Firelight flickered against the walls. Wind whistled through cracks, and sleety snow beat against the lone window. The air smelled of smoke and unwashed bodies. Somehow she understood that the designs brought comfort.

Kroting at Tveismestova.

Women mixed chalk with water or sour milk, and used their fingers to paint the geometric designs on the walls. Kroting was often done in conjunction with the major housecleaning undertaken for holidays or a wedding.

Kroting at Tveismestova.

Some of the geometric designs may have been decorative, but some employed symbols invoked to ward away evil and protect the inhabitants.

Another building at the Hardanger Folk Museum, Tronestova, dates to between 1650 and 1750. The kroting here uses white and a red derived from local minerals.

Kroting at Tronestova, Hardanger Folk Museum.

Several buildings now restored at Oslo’s Norsk Folk Museum also came from the southwestern part of Norway. The example below was copied in the 1940s from a pattern in a Hardanger farm.

The chalk decorations were not permanent. Very few original examples of kroting exist today, but fortunately some of the designs were saved. The reproductions found in these historic buildings provide a glimpse of life in dark Norwegian cabins hundreds of years ago.