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 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.
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.)
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...