Saturday, July 12, 2008

Signing Off

Our basement is nearly finished, we have our cats and our chickens, we are winning the battle with our yard, and we've seen friends every day. It's feeling like home again.

I thought I'd end this blog with some kind of top ten list, and maybe I will do that eventually, but it is time to focus on life in Washington for a while. My mind stayed behind in Norway and I need it here now, so I'm signing off. Thanks for coming along for the journey!

Mike

Friday, July 11, 2008

Adjusting

We finally have internet. Ahhh... We're still not moved back in, though we have new linoleum and carpeting in the basement and I'm hoping to finish trimming and plumbing today and we'll get those sinks and toilet out of the back yard.

So Much Stuff

The first strange thing I noticed being back is the huge selection at the grocery stores. I remember looking at the boxes of instant oatmeal in Haggen's here in Washington, and there were maybe 40 different varieties with all kinds of colorful and sugary ornaments, and I was disgusted with the excess and wondered how could the system could sustain so many different varieties of products. Obviously it can.

I was also disgusted with all of the stuff we own. Boxes of things we've carried around for 15 years and look at only when we move. It weighs us down. In Norway, we made do with very little and found that in fact we need very little. Moving back into our house is the perfect opportunity to make bold cuts in our inventory. We've made one trip to the dump already and our garage is filling with a pile of things to sell.

Driving!

Driving is challenging too. When I first arrived in Norway, I was very impatient driving. No right turn on red, it was very irritating to me to be sitting at a light unnecessarily. But now I find right-on-red stressful... you have to watch the traffic coming and wait for an opening, you must keep alert and focused. In Norway, you get to a red light and you relax and wait for it to change. The light will even give you a red-yellow combo to let you know it's about to turn green so you can put your magazine away. Here in the U.S., you can't relax at a light if you're turning right or the person behind you is going to be irritated.

Distances have stretched too. Driving to the Home Depot seems impossibly far, and the university is nearly 20 miles away.

There are so many cars on the road, traffic crawls. Traffic never used to bother me, but after living in Trondheim for a year, we notice the difference. There is also significantly more traffic on our roads than when we left a year ago and it will continue to get worse. The Norwegian government keeps coming up with ways to make driving less attractive in Norway – I thought at first this was bad policy but they are on to something.

There is a new roundabout near my house, and that makes me happy. So many roundabouts in Norway we have come to love them not only for their efficiency but also for their fun-factor.

The Kids Can Speak Norsk?

As far as we knew, Peter could speak only two words of Norwegian ("Bli død!" which means "Die!") He began speaking Norwegian with his sisters on the plane on the way home. The morning after our arrival he says to me "Se hva jeg fant under sofaen!" ("See what I found under the sofa!") Turns out he knows a lot of norsk.

Prices

Pam tells me that straight up grocery prices have risen 20% while we were away. Everything still looks very cheap to me though. Gas was $4.39 a gallon... so cheap! (I paid $10.26/gallon last time I filled up in Norway.)

Food

One of the best things about being back in the States: the food. Produce is so fresh and delicious. I'll miss my gravelaks, but my palate is very pleased at the return. Now I must find a place to buy brun ost...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back Home

Hei hei! Still getting set up. We have to redo several of our floors and have someone coming out in the morning, so we haven't really unpacked yet. Kids have been grumpy and we've all had a very hard time getting back into sync... it's not just the time zone but also being back in our house which is not quite the same (and has a yard our friends describe as "Jumanji", which is fairly accurate!) We still have no internet, but we'll be back online later this week and I should have some more Norway stuff up, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We are back in the USA and thankful we're on vacation because we have a fearsome task ahead of us.

Steve and Marcia picked us up at SeaTac. We were the last ones out because one of our bags went AWOL, just arriving at our house this morning. We went for Taco Bell on the way home. Mmmmm... The yard was a fearsome sight to behold, our yard just got mowed for the first time a day or two before we arrived and it's looks like a harvest happening out there. Our house and our stuff is in good order, and Steve and Marcia had set up our house with groceries and wine and coffee and all kinds of things. That was a nice surprise.

Our phone is back on and our phone number is the same as was before. I like that phone number, so we feel lucky. We won't have home internet for over a week, so we're checking email in a McDonalds this morning.

We were up for over 24 hours when we finally crashed Wednesday night. The first thing I did Thursday morning was clean up the hot tub, and while it was filling I took clippers to a blackberry bush which had eaten a row of trees. It will be a slow recovery moving back into the house and getting used to being able to turn right on red, but we're in no hurry.

More pictures coming soon when we get settled. It will be interesting to see how it is getting reestablished here!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ha Det Bra, Norge!

Monday we packed and cleaned all day, with an intermission to go to dinner at Paul and Hilde's. Paul cooked us an Irish meal while the children played and Anna put on shows with friends Eva and Elinor. Then back to cleaning. Pam and I were up until well past midnight. Allan will come in 2 hours to take us to the airport with our 15 bags.

Goodbye Norway! You've been very good to us. We've felt very welcome and wanted in this country, and I'm certain it has affected us in ways we don't yet understand.

Tonight we sleep in our house in the USA.