Here in Norway today has been declared a national day of mourning. All public buildings are flying flags at half-mast, the radio broadcasts only melancholy music and news, the TV has only wall-to-wall extra news-broadcasts (as it has for the last few days), the commercial TV-networks will not show commercials but only ads for the charities that aid the victims in South-East Asia. The postludium for the nationally broadcast service at Oslo Cathedral was Franz Liszt's "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" (which translates roughly as "Wailing, Bemoaning, Grieving, Fearing", and seems to capture the mood the media looks to instill in us). They did at least not cancel the NEw Year's Concert from Musikverein in Wien, which was a welcome breath of normalcy and a break from the media's solemnitude which is closing in on being oppressive.
That said, there is certainly something to mourn. Scandinavia, in particular Sweden, but also Norway, has been hit by the disaster - the latest numbers I saw said 4600 Scandinavians were missing, ofwhich 3500 were Swedes, and 460 were Nrowegians. Swedish premier Göran Persson said yesterday that unless the number of missing persons was reduced drastically soon, by the persons turning up alive after all, Sweden would be struck by the worst single disaster in its history. Norway also looks likely to have experienced the greatest single loss of life in peacetime. Still, it all pales compared to what the struck countries' own populations suffered, with Indoensia haivng even given up counting.
On a more pleasant note, Christmas and New Year's Eve have been good here. The tree looked good when we put it up the 23rd, and so far hasn't been shedding needles too badly. Gifts ranged from socks to LOTR EE to a pen-stand in polished granite to a book about the steamships of the Norwegian America Line. I think my mother was particularly happy about the oversized wool plaid I got her, and the dog as usual was very enthusiastic about getting presents.
New Year's Eve was a quiet affair at home, but we did go out at midnight to watch what fireworks the neighbours put up. Our dog loves chasing the lights and booms of fireworks, and was jumping at the door to let her out - she reacts to fireworks with consternation, actually, but thinks it is wild fun to be allowed to race back and forth, barking loudly at the explosions. At the end she hardly had a voice left, and today she's walking rather stiffly.
I shall be going back to Trondheim on Monday, arriving on Tuesday, afterwhich I'll probably be more able to keep up with LJ again.