Sunday, December 30, 2012

The... aftermath.

If you’ve never seen the Minnesota Vikings play, they like all professional sports teams have game day traditions.  As soon as the Viking horn played the trolls changed.
That sound seemed to mesmerize them. Before the echo left the dome, they stood shoulder to shoulder at attention, silent, eyes wet with tears.

“Home…,” Venn murmured. Viking horn audio

I couldn’t believe it. The Packers took the field along with the purple wearing Vikings.

“Vikings,” they all said in unison.

“Okay, so the Vikings are in purple and Packers are in yellow,” I explained, attempting to make them understand, but they couldn’t tell the difference. In their old world  troll minds,  all the armor wearing humans were fierce Viking warriors.

Kickoff, and the players flew down the field straight at each other until POW. Bodies pounded in to each other, play over.  Still nothing from the trolls. I started to worry.

Slowly Oton broke ranks and walked up to the screen.  His held his grubby hand out until making contact, “Ugh, cold.”

“It’s called Television,” I said.

Quickly he walked around the back looking for the players I assumed.

“What magic is this? Rebecca, you have entrapped hundreds of Vikings in your bright shiny box.”

Uh oh. “No, it’s a picture. These humans are hundreds of miles from here. This magic box is a window into that far away building.”

“Ohhhhhh,” they said.

The novelty of the TV gone, Oton stepped back with the others. It didn’t take long before they were all deeply involved in the battle unfolding before the Sorceress Rebecca.

 I have to admit I kinda like my new title.

I quickly introduced them to my favorite warrior, Clay Matthews, and they all easily agreed he did indeed bear a striking resemblance to a Nordic God.  The rules of the game were out the door. They simply didn’t understand, and frankly with the game going badly for the Packers, I rather enjoyed their version of events.

By the time it was over, they were tired, and happy. Everything was going great until the commentator said the same two teams will meet next week in Green Bay (since my beloved Pack failed to seal a first round by in the playoffs).

Last thing I heard as I dropped them off at the river was “see you next week, we’ll bring the rat.”

Oh, goodie.


I should have known, seriously I should have known.

I left the new car at home, and took the old beater suburban to the river. Oton, Uredd, Pod, Twig and Venn were all waiting for me.

“Where’s Folger,” I asked.

“The delicate little bud is too scared to come,” teased Twig.

“Knock it off Trollkin,” said Eog as he rounded a snowdrift. “He sent me in his place.”

“Whatever, now how many of you have ridden in a car before? There are rules.”

They all studied their toes as the crows cackled overhead. It was as I feared. “Okay, I’ll open the back door and you should all climb inside. Take a seat on the bench and try not to break anything.”

A word about my truck, it is also known as the dog hauler. The backseat is covered with a sheet protecting the upholstery from muddy paws, but it didn’t help.

Pushing and shoving they piled in. Once inside they couldn’t sit still.

“Move over,” shouted Venn.

“Pod, I see you’ve had too many bowls of rat stew lately,” said Uredd.

I just got inside, started the truck and rolled down the windows. Before I knew what was happening Oton was on the dashboard.

“Hey, I said to stay in the back.” 

“What, I thought you were talking to them,” he said as he made himself comfortable. It was going to be a long day.

It’s a good thing I live a short distance from Elvsmyr. We made it back without having an accident, but that old woman we passed got the scare of her life as Twig and Pod mooned her.

I had planned ahead, and moved a TV into the heated garage. The cars stay parked outside so I could set up tiny benches and tables.

“Turn it on,” I said to my husband who stood there staring at my little friends. “You thought I was making this up, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Just go with it. I don’t know what will happen if they get angry,” I said.

I had worked all morning preparing sausages, pork chops and roasted chicken. I figured they had to be meat eaters. Pod, always hungry walked up to the table, and said, “What’s this stuff?”

I explained the dishes, and too my horror they all wrinkled up their noses in disgust until I got to the sausage.

“What’s in it?” Asked Uredd.

Having spent big bucks on the other cuts, the sausage was cheap kielbasa. As I explained what sausage was they got more and more excited. Before I knew it, the bowl was empty and I was sending my husband to the store for more.

“Not as good as sautéed rat, but it will do in a pinch,” Venn said.

“Uh, thanks,” was all I could think to say.

Their bellies full I got them each a glass of water, and took a seat to watch the game, but not before grabbing a beer for myself. It was going to be a long day. God, I’m such an idiot.

American Football >>> Troll Style

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but it’s sunny and breezy here today. Sounds nice, right? Well, I would add it is really beautiful watching the ice crystals float by, glittering like diamonds. Still, I’m not rushing outside to catch a few on my tongue. It’s 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of 8. For those of you closer to the equator, that’s bone chilling.

Today is also a big day in Wisconsin. The Green Bay Packers meet the Minnesota Vikings for an always interesting Football game. Most of my readers are Americans, and therefore understand the game, but some of you are in other countries. Let me try to put this into perspective.

Wisconsin and Minnesota share a long border primarily defined by the Mississippi river, America’s longest.  This rivalry began in 1961. The Packers have been around far longer than the upstart Vikings so while long, this matchup is newer than others. Green Bay and Minnesota are in the same conference so they meet at least two times per season. Green Bay holds the record for most Superbowl wins, while the Vikings have never won the big game. Sounds like an easy win for the Packers, doesn’t it? Well, on paper yes, but there’s nothing like a rivalry to bring the unexpected to the game.

The Packers play outdoors at the beloved Lambeau Field. The Minnesota Vikings play in a dome, hiding from the cold. Both locations are cold, but Green Bay has the added element of playing along the shore of Lake Michigan. Brrrrr. Today the game will be inside at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Enough background, I was telling Oton about this the other day. He was so excited when I mentioned the Vikings, it bordered on insanity.

“Vikings, they’re here?” He asked.

I immediately understood my error. “Well, sort of; these Vikings wear purple and run around chasing a pointy ball,” I said trying to set the football players apart for the Vikings of history.

He rubbed his nose and squinted at me. “They wear purple, the purple of kings?”

Oh geez, what had I done? He was so excited I had to try to explain, but how?  “Oton, would you like to come over to my house and see the Vikings?” I asked with more than a little hesitation.

“Pod, Twig, Uredd, go get Folger. We’re going to see the Vikings!” He screamed.

“Wait, wait, you understand the Vikings won’t actually be at my house, right?”

A blank stare froze his face. Crap, now I had to try to explain television to a troll.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll come and pick you up when it’s time to see the Vikings, but you have to promise to behave.” I walked away with hideous images of the stains they will leave in my new car.

I left them there, frolicking around like puppies. I couldn’t back out now. I just hope my husband understands.  Now does anyone know what snacks to fix for a troll football party? Anybody?

Friday, December 21, 2012

more birds at feeder

deep, wet, cold SNOW

So this is how my husband deals with ten inches of snow over a 8 hour period
"Oton, how do you deal with deep snow we got last night?" I yelled across the valley unwilling to venture deeper into the marsh.

"Isn't it marvelous? The ponds will be stiffening with ice soon and we can practice our slides," he called from atop a half buried log.

"But you're only a few inches tall, how do you get around in this stuff?"

A puzzled look wrinkled up his already craggy face. Suddenly he pushed up from the log. Straight up in to the air he sailed until gravity took care of his feeble attempt at flight. Plunk, he slammed into the soft snow plunging immediately out of sight.

Worried I called out for him, but I should have known. Trolls are creatures of the far north after all. The top layer of the snow blasted smooth by the 35 miles an hour winds last night began to ripple in a swaying pattern. Before I knew what was happening, Oton popped out of the top of the drift in which I stood, shivering in the cold.  

"Tunnels, human, tunnels of snow."

"So if I were to come out here in a few days I wouldn't be able to see you?"

Well, the cooking pit will  have burned through by then, and the forge will be exposed if Uredd feels like working, but yeah, we will be under a blanket of snow for most of the winter."

"But, I'll miss you," I pouted.

"We'll be here for you any time you want to visit. Drop on by. Just be careful where you walk."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

hungry birds in blizzard

Blizzard birds

Having a blizzard today. Clouds so thick the satellite is out so watching recorded TV, but the action is much more interesting at the bird feeder hanging just outside my living room window.

Purple finch, chickadee, at least 2 varieties of sparrow, gold finch, cardinal and my favorite junco are pushing and shoving for the best feeding port or combing the ground for dropped morsels. Poor little things need lots of energy to survive weather like this.

I'm wondering what is happening at Elvsmyr. My chance has come to find out how the trolls deal with snow, deep, wet snow.

I can't wait until I can get out of my driveway and out to the river. I'll let you know what I find out. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Take time to scan the sky

Take time this month to do more than stop and smell the roses. It's a stressful time of year for some, but if you take a moment to let that inner child out, you will find the universe is full of wonder.

I’m sure many of you already know this, but if you get outside this month either just as the stars are coming out, or before sunrise you have to look up. Amazing things are happening up there.

Venus, Saturn and even itty bitty Mercury is dancing in tight formation during the early morning hours this month. It’s pretty easy to find them. Just look for Venus in the predawn hours and Saturn and Mercury (really low on the horizon) will be nearby. Once the moon comes back next week, its crescent will be joining the grouping of 3 for an even better show.  

Jupiter is out there all night, big and bright. Early morning risers like me can see it on the way to work in the area where the sun sets each night.

I for one have been scanning the sky while driving to work since Thanksgiving. If you can get to a clear sky in a rural area, you will not regret taking a moment to scan the heavens. This won’t happen again in some of our lifetimes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Self portrait?... troll art?

Not quite- Oton told me this is the face of Eik, the tree spirit.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Evidence of beavers along the Yahara, or perhaps a little troll action.... You be the judge. I know what I think.


It's snowing here in Wisconsin today. Oh, not the smattering of flurries that fell in October, no, these seem to come with the intention sticking around for awhile. Not that this is unexpected. I mean, it is November and Wisconsin. But unlike my Floridian friends and relatives think we are lucky in Wisconsin when it comes to weather. Sure we get snow, but we also get a abundance of colors dominating the landscape in spring. Then there's autumn, my favorite and often shortest season. The air turns crisp and the leaves give one last flash of color before diving back to earth to enrich the very tree on which they grew. Summer is perfect. Not to hot (most years) and still warm enough to get out and enjoy it out there. Besides we don't get hurricanes here. Having lived in Florida during Andrew and several smaller storms I could easily recognize the outer bands of Sandy as she blew in from the east a few weeks back, but it only amounted to a cloudy day here. Okay, so there is the annual threat of tornado to deal with, but mostly it affects some hapless farmer, or if the weather gods are really angry a small town or city, but don't you have to play odds in the game of life? No, we're pretty lucky here. All this got me to thinking. If your a troll only 3 inches tall how do you deal with a foot of snow dumping on your head? I mean do they have tiny snow plows out there in the marsh? I kinda doubt it. Maybe they all get together and have a shovel party, snow flinging in every direction. Nope, can't picture that either. Oh, I know. They must hibernate! On second thought, I don't think so. Oton has never mentioned anything like that. Even so, trolls are creatures of Norway. They have to have some means of dealing with 100 inches of the white stuff. So I looked it up. Surprisingly Norway despite being mostly above that imaginary line etched around the earth called the artic circle enjoys realitively mild winters. Sure they endure 21-23 hours of darkness everyday, but that sounds like prime troll time to me. Along the coast its would seem winters are no where near as snow filled as one might expect. That flush of hot water called the gulf stream, the same one that rushes past our own east coast kisses Norway on its way around the globe keeping winters under some level of control. Deeper inland, in the high mountains the game is different. Snow, lots of it. So how do Oton and his friends survive winter? I guess it's just one more on the long list of questions I have for him and his friends. The moon is nearly at the proper phase so I'll be seeing him soon. Sure hope he's in a better mood this time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scarecrow moons the people of Stoughton

Okay, so I understand the scarecrow is mooning, but just what exactly is Oton doing?

Troll Sighting in Stoughton, Wisconsin November 2012

The Stoughton Press which launched this project has hit the streets. Thanks to Linda Bricco Schalk for believing in me... & our little friend... This posting is dedicated to the enjoyment of the young at heart everywhere....
Anonymous reports have surfaced with eerily similar sighting of a creature that can only be described as a troll. “This is no garden variety gnome” one source stated.

Initial reports were written off as a case of one too many brews when the person of interest was found to be taking a smoke break between sets outside the Pour House in downtown Stoughton. However, within days sighting of said troll were reported by a reputable citizen who has never been known to touch a drop of spirits. “I was taking my early morning jog down the south side of Main St when I saw it plain as day shoot out from Division heading north. I was so startled I have to admit I emitted a disturbing high pitch screech. The thing stopped turned and looked me right in the eye and I swear it said ‘Hallo, so very sorry. I should have looked before crossing.’ Scared the daylights out of me, but he did seem to be a polite chap”.

Soon photos from all over the downtown area were coming in as citizens began to report more and more sighting often in the early morning or late evening just before and after businesses closed.

Not believing a word of it this reporter has contacted a zoologist at UW- Whitewater to confirm or deny the existence of trolls in the modern era. “Poppycock! There is no such thing as trolls. Besides the topography of the Stoughton area could not support a village of trolls as there is not a cave system sufficiently large enough to house the creatures. Ahem, I mean no trolls are fairytales told to frighten small children.”

Not satisfied with second hand reports this reporter decided to traverse the area just after sunrise to see for myself. I found nothing. Convinced the troll was a hoax I stopped in for a bismark at Fosdals. After purchasing my delicious treat I was leaving the store and there he was. Sitting right there on the chair. I nearly choked. “What do you want?” I stammered.

“Oh nothing really. We’ve just been neighbors for so long know I’ve decided to introduce myself to the human folk. They call me Oton- rhymes with Stoughton.”

By the time I thought of what to ask I heard a pop and he faded away. It is this reporter’s opinion that Oton is friendly and seems to enjoy the downtown area. Citizens sighting Oton are advised to say Hello.    

My editor has sent me back into the field to track down Oton. I’m not to come back until I get an interview. I spent several pre-dawn hours stalking the downtown area concentrating on the area where I last saw the troll. On the eleventh morning I began to give up hope as I hid in the bushes in front of the McFarland State Bank. Fearing failure and my knees soggy with the cold morning dew, I began to pack up. My stomach growled as I began to notice the sharp tang of coffee and what I could only describe as strawberry jelly. Realizing I was hungry I crawled out to make my way to the Koffee Kup.

“What ya doing,” a gravelly voice said.

I spun around and there he was Oton himself, but somehow smaller this time. Shaking my head to recover my wits I invited him for coffee and a chat.

His eyes glittered like topaz as he replied, “sure, can I have sprinkles too?”

“I don’t know if they have sprinkles,” I stammered.

“Try the bakery.”

Not willing to let this opportunity to get away I dashed away for two cups of steaming black coffee and grabbed a dozen chocolate donuts covered in colorful sprinkles. I raced back with the scrumptious treats, but to my horror he had disappeared. I dropped to the bench spilling hot coffee across my lap.

“Hey, watch it. That’s hot.”

Peeking between my knees there he sat. “Lots of humans today. Meet you at troll beach.”

“But it’s closed for the season,” I said.

“It’s always open for me. See ya there.” And with a pop he vanished just as a pleasant older gentleman paraded by with a puzzled look on his face.

I ran to my car and I have to admit risked a hefty traffic ticket to get my interview. To my great relief there he sat at the top of the blue plastic slide. Yelling through the fence I said “Oton, I have a few questions. The people of Stoughton want to know more about you.”

“Okey-dokey,” he said as he pulled a tiny pair of sunglasses from his grubby overalls. He leapt to the ground and landing lightly on his feet he skipped to the fence.

“Where do you come from?”

“Norway, doesn’t everyone? Where are my sprinkles?”

I shoved the cup through a gap in the fence as he asked, “What’s that?”
“You asked for coffee. It’s dark roast.”

“Yeah, but you have to throw out the water first.”

“Shaking my head I handed him the bag. Sorry humans drink it wet.”

“That’s disgusting,” he said as he licked the frosting from the first donut. “Ooh, chocolate. Yummy.”

“Are you here to harm us?”

“Why would I do that? We’ve been neighbors for years. I think humans are fascinating.”

“How long have you been here?”

“I arrived with the first group. The elders say they never would have made it without me.”


“I find things, useful things,” was all he would say.

He was playing with me, but afraid he would get bored and disappear I forged ahead. “Some people see you and your three feet tall, others say you’re as big as a human, today you are as tiny as a baby squirrel. How is that possible?”

“Magic. It’s kinda my thing. The sorceress accepted me as apprentice long ago when I demonstrated I could make my nose grow, see?”

Faster than Pinocchio his nose shot out several inches. “The hard part is getting all the different pieces to look right. I’m still working on it. Leaf tells me I look different when I’m big.”

Stunned I asked, “How on earth do you do it?”

“That’s a secret for another day,” he said slyly. Shoving the last of the donuts down his gullet he said, “I’m late. The others will start to worry if I don’t get back soon.” POP.

“Damn, I had so many questions, and now I have even more. Like who the heck is Leaf?” I grumbled.

“Next time bring the grounds, used, still warm, squeezed- not strained,” he called from some unseen location.

“No problem,” I stammered as I scanned the park. “When will I see you again?”

Be downtown twenty-nine sunrises from now. I’ll find you.

Dear readers, next time I’ll be ready, I can promise you that.





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's in a name?

Oton. It's a strange name even for a troll. So I got to thinking and decided to ask.
"Oton," I said. "What does that mean in trollish?"
"Wellll..., it doesn't mean anything."
He seemed to to be holding back so I pushed harder.

"Oton, sounds suspicously like the town were are sitting in."
"Yeah well, you would call yourself almost anything if you had my given name."

Like a tiny jug with a tight cork wedged in place he refused to say more. "Come on, it can't be that bad."

He shuffled his oversized feet and mumbled, "Blomst, mama named me Blomst."

"Does that mean..."

"Don't- just don't say it..."

"Flower! Your mama named you flower?"

With that he spun around and started to run back towards the marsh where I could not follow.

Such a touchy little troll.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Outta my way… This dritt of a human has it all wrong. The meteor shower was fantastic. You humans must have weak eyes.

I gotta say Loved the Beer, once it warmed up a bit; Nothing better than slurping warm beer straight from the spoon. Yum! Next time bring cheese, goat cheese to be exact. Oh, and chocolate sprinkles, lots of sprinkles. I’ll have the cooks roast up a bowl of beetles on the half shell and we make a meal of it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ERRRR. Bloody clouds hide the meoters from our view, but we had a riotious old time drinking beer and telling tales. By the way, Oton only likes warm beer and flat at that. What's that about? He said the bubbles tickle his nose. Good thing I didn't bring champange

Saturday, October 20, 2012

meteors and brewskis

It's a beautiful autumn day here in Wisconsin. Oton has invited me to join him and some of his friends at the river for the meteor shower tonight. I'm so excited. I really think he's starting to trust me. I asked if I should bring anything, and he said beer. Huh, even trolls love Wisconsin's favorite beverage on a Saturday night. I wonder what kind they like...

Friday, October 19, 2012

the truth about that goat thing-

What if every thing you thought you knew about trolls was wrong? Stay with me here.

What if the bad guy in that three billy goats gruff story was the goat? I mean have you ever seen a goat? I once visited a goat barn and I couldn't believe the stench. That is something I'll never get out of my brain, Goat = pushy, smelly, filthy beasts. Even at the zoo they mob small children stealing their ice cream.

After all the victor writes the history. Think about it.

Here's the truth. The troll in the story, he was mentally ill. Really I heard about it from Oton. His name was Bob and he got bit by a bat or something. Turned him coo-coo in the head. He got all weird and foamy at the mouth and hungry, really hungry. Poor Bob was out of his head and well, goats can be pretty tasty I hear.

Okay, so his name wasn't really Bob, but you couldn't pronounce his real name. And goats, well they are funny, but definitely smelly, I'm not moving an inch on that one.

No troll in his right mind lives alone under a bridge. They are social living in villages working, playing and playfully teasing each other. I'll prove it to you...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It all started with that letter from the editor- looking for story ideas and photos, the quirkier the better- was she talking to me?I'd been working on improving my photography and immediately an idea popped into my head- & yes, it was quirky!

The Stoughton Press is a fun publication geared towards promoting my home town, Stoughton, Wisconsin. We have a great downtown full of artisits and a really cool historical district with gorgeous mansions. I'm new to town, and thought this might be a way to meet a few people.

My idea for this historic Norweigian town, TROLLS of course, but not just any trolls. I have totally reimaged the trolls who live outside Stoughton. The editor loved the idea and has run wild with the idea.
I was only going to take the photos, but she wanted more. What is his name? Where does he live? What does he want? I had thought we could hold a contest to name the troll, but she was right; he needed a name. Oton my tiny friend screamed, you can call me Oton. He has a secret troll name, but he doens't want the elders to know it is he who is reaching out the the human folk. However he is a talkative little dude so he told me I can share this much-
He lives in the troll village of Elvsmyr. Oton has introduced me to his many friends and they have told me who they are, how they got there, what they love, what they fear, and most of all that trolls are very misunderstood creatures.

Oton doesn't want to give too much away yet, but my little friends are anxious to try out this human invention- a blog.
Join me here to learn more about Oton and the others. They'd love to tell you more.