Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Banff 1

Listened to most of "Norse Gods and Legends" on the way to Banff. The stories are awesome, and the kids have been loving them! Only the last chapter on Ragnorak left by the time we hit Banff.

Banff is amazing. We met up with Mat, a good friend from Norway who has just left after 2 years teaching at ThIS, and is now summering here in Banff. He took us around to see the Hoodoos, Lake Minnewanka, Lake Two Jacks, and Bow Falls.

We're staying at Douglas Firs Resort, which has indoor waterslides. These are a big hit with the kids. It's going to be a great trip!

Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Road Again

Sunday we went for one last game of Catan with Steve and Marcia. It's sad to be leaving friends... again. There is good and bad with the move, no perfect answers.

Then it was back to cleaning. We were on the road at 9:30 pm, Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" on the stereo. Long border crossing into Canada, and finally stopped for the night at 1:00 am in Hope, BC.

As we entered the Rockies... wow! The scenery rivals that of Norway. Fantastic!

Above: Ice cream stop in BC

Below: Roger's Pass

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lloyd's

Lloyd threw a little party for us at Frank 'n' Stein brewery in downtown Ferndale. There was even a special "Naylor Norwegian Ale" on tap! Tomorrow we finish cleaning then hit the road!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Moving Day 2

Peter stayed at Trevor's last night, so didn't come with us to Denny's for breakfast. Alien pancakes. Awesome. Peter didn't want to come home, so he stayed. Anna went to Isla's, where they hooked up a cart to a pony. Maggie went to Gillian's, then Gillian came over here.

All day the movers worked, finishing up at 9:30. There was a series of setbacks -- not enough manpower, not enough boxes, conflicting personalities, and a big big job. When they closed up the truck, the doors barely closed. Goodbye stuff! We have almost nothing left in the house. Pam and I dragged in an extra mattress from the barn and we found one small blanket and a curtain we can use as a sheet tonight. Maggie has our two towels as blankets, and Peter and Anna are both at sleepovers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Still moving

The kids are all off at friends' houses today while the work continues. Because of a miscommunication at HQ, they sent only two guys with not enough boxes yesterday, so today there's 4 guys and they've finished the house, garage and studio and have now started the barn which contains hundreds of boxes of books and teaching supplies. I'm now sitting on a box with another box as a table as I take a break from twiddling my thumbs. This is the first time we've had movers, and it's pretty nice.

Seattle



Just a couple of nice pics from Downtown, included here for I-don't-know-why.



Load Up

The movers have been working nonstop today, and our house has turned into stacks of brown paper shapes, like alien ant hills. How nice it is to have someone else working on packing, especially after all we've been doing to get ready this past month.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Midnight

Back from a family reunion -- awesome time in Seattle. We left for Seattle Sunday morning and returned this afternoon, less than a day until the movers come. We packed and sorted from 4 pm until 10 pm, nonstop. My alarm is set for 6:30 am, and ready or not the movers come at 9.

We are all packed into one big suitcase and one backpack each -- that's all we get to hold the clothing and things we will want and need for the next 6 weeks. Tomorrow all the rest of our things and clothing will be boxed and taken away. We can't bring more than 2 bags each because we have to pack everything, dog included, into a minivan for a cross-country drive.

It weird to be limited to one bag of clothing -- clothes for traveling, vacationing, moving, and enough variety of outfits for 2 or 3 weeks of starting work overseas. We will drive across Canada into Wisconsin and Michigan, then fly to Norway where we will continue to live out of our suitcases until our things arrive 2 or 3 weeks later.

OK, it's midnight. Lights out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seattle


Having a blast in Seattle. Took Boomer to the Marymoor dog park. Took a tour on a "Duck". Saw the troll under Fremont bridge. Drank Guinness in a pub. Played in the fountain. Ate in the Space Needle. Bought the kids unlimited carnival rides. Ate candy apples in Pike's Place Market. Stayed up late playing cards with family members. 4 very fun days!




Sunday, June 21, 2009

Break!

Forcing myself to take a 10-minute break. Things are very busy. We leave for a family reunion tomorrow, and we get back at the same time the movers arrive so we need to be ready.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

2 days to go

Last day of school today. Maggie especially was thrilled -- she is now officially a middle schooler.

Plenty of work to do today, and we worked straight through today but at a pleasant pace. Barn, workshop, packing up kids, and clearing out the attic. It was in the attic we found *the boxes*.

For the past 15 years we've carted boxes of mementos around, through 6 or 7 moves from Michigan to various places in Florida and two in Washington. We joke that the only thing these boxes are good for is looking at for a few minutes every time we move. Javel, that day was today, and so Pam and I had a good laugh at old photos and certificates and painted plates and Star Wars cards. And then we packed it up again, cursing our fate.

It will be another big day tomorrow, but we'll pull it all together just in time for the unstoppable non-stop chain of events: Family visits. Movers. A weekend of cleaning and hauling. Drive across Canada to Wisconsin. Then Michigan. Then Norway.

I reassured Pam that the stress would be soon be over. In about 8 weeks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sculpture

Bellingham has some nice new art downtown. I just hate to see beautiful new things appear just before we leave! (Is that a normal reaction?) Well, anyway, this is best kinetic sculpture I've seen, it's just outside the bus station, gently turning in the lightest of wind. Enjoy!

Second Cat

Spotty has been adopted by a 19-year old woman who is a petsitter/babysitter/tutor. She has two other cats. I met her today; she was very nice and Spotty took to her immediately. He'll get lots of love... I feel good about his new home.

When I brought him to her place, he was so freaked out by the car ride (he HATES car rides) he clawed me fairly exuberantly, and I had to hide the blood on my arms from his new mom lest she think he's some kind of wild cat! Ouch. Thanks for parting gift, Spotty!

Then on to the university. Met a dear colleague for coffee and then spent several hours doing final packing. I turned in my keys and I'm off -- done with the university for a while.

Tonight, Pam started the task of packing up the kids. Sunday morning we depart for a complicated series of roadtrips, and the bags we take with us hold the only things we'll have for the next two months! Our cargo container with the rest of our thing won't arrive in Norway until mid-August.

A few minutes ago I got an email from the folks who adopted Joey. They've renamed him "José", and he's doing great. Even the people in the family who didn't like cats are now in love with him!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jeg liker meg i Norge

Many people have asked why we want to go back to Norway. Some are excited for us and the adventure, but some have regarded our motives with suspicion. Is it really better in Norway?

The Norwegians have a curious way to say that they like a place. They don't say "I like it in Norway." Instead, they say "I like myself in Norway," or "Jeg liker meg i Norge." Maybe this phrase isn't just a weird little language quirk, but is a reflection of a philosophy. A place is good if you like yourself when you're there. It's not so much about liking your job or your friends or your house or your car. It's about how you feel about you. Maybe that's part of the reason we're planning to return. We like ourselves in Norway.

Car

4 days until we go... and we sold the car today! Just in time. We had a back-up plan in place if it didn't sell in time, but we need the money for the move so we're glad to have it.

Everything's been happening like magic and we feel lucky every day! Yesterday I met Daniel L. for donuts and a goodbye, and in the evening Laura I. came over for one last game of Settlers of Catan (Pam won, but I got 2 arches).

Pam and I went to the office today to load up my books and boxes, and stopped downtown to sell our CDs and comic books. I'll have to return to the office later today to get the rest of my things and drop off keys.

Tonight we meet David R. and daughter Ariel (Maggie's very good friend), and Shannon and Randy for a goodbye BBQ.

Crazy days!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Working it

Windshield fixed, all 4 tanks pumped, garage cleaned and organized. Good start to the day!

Yesterday we signed the contract on the house and sent in a deposit... we're official!

6 parties in 2 days

On Saturday we had parties for Anna and Peter in the afternoon, than visited Lisa L. in the evening. On Sunday, Pam had a group of friends over in the morning, then a party for Maggie in the afternoon, then friends Allan and family in the evening.

Today we made serious progress on packing and organizing... I built septic box 4 of 4, fixed the fence, and started organizing the garage. We're getting there!

Also signed the lease agreement and made a deposit – we officially have a place to live in Trondheim! Our rent is twice what our mortgage is here in Washington, and more than twice what we paid last year, but it will be worth it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Found a home for one cat


Joey is off to a new home. He'll be cared for by a nice teenage girl, and he'll be living on a chicken farm in a big log cabin with mice in the house. He'll like it there.

The kids, Maggie especially, were sad to see him go, but he left during Maggie's party so she couldn't stay sad for long!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Moving right along...

Got a contract for our new place and we're hashing out a few details.
Got a letter from the consulate saying my work visa has been approved.
Had someone come to look at our Beetle. They offered less than I want, so I am holding off on their offer.
This morning someone is coming to see our cats.

These are very happy and very sad days.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Final Visits

On Wednesday, we met with friend Steve and Marcia for a last visit. On Thursday, Pam met Misty for a last visit. Today, Anna and Peter have their goodbye parties with their friends. Tonight, we meet Lisa, a teacher friend, for a last visit, and tomorrow Maggie will have her goodbye party. We have a few more final meetings coming up in the next few days as well. We're now down to 7 days left, and it will be a hard week I fear.

Passport

Ah! My new passport arrived, with time to spare. Even though my old passport doesn't expire for another 2 years, I have somehow aged a lot in past decade. Officials at the airport had started to question the legitimacy of my documents -- in fact in Oslo last year I had an agent flat out tell me that the person in the picture was not me. I had to show her my photo on the visa page of the passport and my American driver's license. To complicate matters, I've recently changed signatures, so nothing is a match! Here's the old picture and the new picture. What do you think? Are they the same person?

2-letter words

To be a good Scrabble player, you must know all 2-letter words. Here's list I found in Norwegian. I have another list with different words in it, maybe one is nynorsk? Maybe there isn't a consensus?

TO-BOKSTAVERS ORD:

AD AG AH AI AK AL AM AN AP AR AS AT AU AV
BA BE BI BO BU BY BÆ BØ
DA DE DI DO DU DY DØ DÅ
EA ED EI EL EN ER ES ET EV EX
FA FE FY FØ FÅ
GA GI GÅ
HA HE HI HM HO HU HY HÆ HØ HÅ
ID IL IN IR IS IT
JA JO
KU KØ KÅ
LA LE LI LO LU LY LØ LÅ
MI MO MY MØ MÅ
NE NI NU NY NØ NÅ
OG OI OK OL OM OR OS
PI PØ PÅ
RA RE RI RO RU RY RÅ
SA SE SI SU SY SÅ
TA TE TI TO TU TY TØ TÅ
UL UR UT
VA VE VI VY VÅ
YL YR YT
ÆR
ØD ØK ØL ØM ØR ØS ØV ØY
ÅA ÅE ÅK ÅL ÅR ÅS ÅT

I don't know what most of these are. If the two-letter word list in Norwegian is anything like the two-letter word list in English, then I'm pretty sure most Norwegians don't know what most of these words are, either.

A few observations, though:
There are 14 words starting with A. There's 13 that end with A.
H may proceed any vowel.
L, D, and T may precede any vowel except Æ.
If you read the K words, it sounds like "Coca Cola". (Well, "Coo-ca Co-a")
I like the look of the Y words.
In English there's no 2 letter words with a C or a V. In norsk, no words with C, Q, W, Y, or Z.
ÅA is a funny word. If a keyboard doesn't have the letter 'Å', you can instead type 'AA'. Thus to type ÅA you'd type AAA.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Neighbors

I checked the map and was surprised to find out just how close we'll be living to some of our best friends in Trondheim... a straight-line distance of 230 yards. I knew we'd be in the neighborhood, but I didn't realize we were that close. Our 6 year olds will be able to visit each other unaccompanied by parents!

Also, our landlords will be living next door and they have an 11 year old daughter same age as Maggie. She has lots of friends in the neighborhood and will be happy to introduce the kids around.

And... my friend knows an English couple three houses down that he thinks we'd get on smashingly.

So. We'll have neighbors. A lot of 'em. Good ones, too. Adventure awaits!

Today my calendar is empty. Time to decide how best to use it. So much to do!

School's Out

There's an Alice Cooper song running through my head right now, you know the one. Schoooool's out for summer... schooooool's out forever!

Gave two finals today, graded them and turned in my grades a few minutes ago. Done! It was tempting to do something wacky for my last classes, but I gave regular finals and finished the term like normal. There's enough wackiness going on right now. Gotta keep level... gotta keep level... Next week I'll finish packing the last few things from my office then load up all those books, then it's goodbye to WWU. It's very strange to be leaving WWU... especially now when it is so beautiful. Well, we're keeping the option open to return.

House Location

Here's where our house is in relation to our work/school. It's a fairly level shot to the ThIS, so Pam and the kids will have probably a 15-20 minute walk to school. My walk will be about 10 minutes. It's a little further to downtown, but not much. I imagine we won't be driving very much this next year, unless it's out to our hytte! (No, we don't have a hytte yet, but we want one...)

We were most interested in Rosenborg or Møllenberg or Bakklandet (between the International school and the river), but these are mostly apartments and a nice big house is a very good choice for us.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Huset

I've traded a lot of emails in the past 12 hours, and we've agreed on the rental. She'll be sending a contract shortly and I'll be paying a deposit in the next day or two. We are very happy.

Here's a few pics of our place. The house looks like it's in great condition. It's 175 square meters (about 1880 square feet), has a garden, winter sun room, wood burning stove, view of the water & mountains. Two stories with a loft and a cellar, plenty of room, parks and grocery store within minutes walking! Thank you universe!


The Universe is Smiling

We've been feeling the stress of not having found a house yet, even though there's plenty of time. I ran into a colleague yesterday afternoon who said that finding a house will be "a piece of cake!" That made me feel a lot better. Piece of cake. Yeah.

The good feeling lasted well into the evening when I got an email from a friend of a friend in Trondheim asking if we're still looking for a place. Turns out she's got a very nice house to rent in a nice neighborhood near where we want to be at the price we want. She sent photos this morning and we're going to take it. What a relief!

"Piece of cake!"
Pam said, "When the universe drops something in your lap, you should take it!"
Then Pam checks her email, and someone has sent her an email titled "A message from the universe." It reads:
Pam, it's supposed to be easy. Everything is supposed to be easy. Everything is easy. You live in a dream world. You're surrounded by illusions. And the illusions change when you change your thinking!

Tell yourself it's easy. Tell yourself often. Make it a mantra. Eat, sleep, and breathe it. And your life shall be transformed.

It's supposed to be easy,
The Universe

We have been laughing and laughing over the timing of that email!

Anyways, I'm now in a terrific mood. More on the house as this story develops.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

House Fixits

My friend put a new floor in the bathroom and I've finished 3 of the 4 septic boxes. Things are getting in order!

Now if only we can find a place to live...

Finishing up the house

We made a play for a house to rent in Trondheim, but there were many interested parties and the owners chose someone else. Dang. Back to the drawing board.

I've been digging up the septic again, this time building sturdy boxes to make access to the ports and pump tank easy. I want to minimize any difficulty our renters will have. I'm glad this is the LAST time I'll be digging this thing up. A friend of mine replaced the bathroom floor today and we're nearly all fixed up.

Pam and I made a final list of things to get done before we go... and remarkably, the list is manageable. I think we're gonna make it!

In 11 days we leave for a family reunion and need to be almost entirely ready to go by then.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This is Norway

I'm not sure if this is funny to everyone, or if you have to have lived in Norway to think this is hilarious.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Job!

Pam got her official job offer today!

HURRAY!

She'll be teaching 3rd grade, and we're all quite pleased. With our kids in grades 7, 4, and 1, she won't be teaching any of our own kids, which is of course good and bad.

Congratulations, Pam!

Jernvognen

Sold more stuff on Craigslist and eBay and put the Beetle up for sale as well.

Today I got my copy of Jernvognen. I've been reading the first chapter (free download) this past week, and it's very hard. Sometimes I don't even know the translated word in English (what the heck is a "moraine"?) and I assure you I have a very robust vocabulary. I remember when reading my first norsk novel, there was one chapter that was very difficult. This is a whole book of difficult chapters. But, I will read and it will get easier. I also ordered a pocket norsk-engelsk and vice versa dictionary. That should help with the reading!

I think I'm done buying Norwegian books for now. Partly because we're out of time, and partly because I've bought just about everything!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hnefatafl

Bought a game today called "Hnefatafl", a.k.a. "The Viking Game". Peter is excited to play it with me, but we've not had the chance yet. The game is an early version of chess dating to perhaps 400 CE, and was wildly popular all over early Scandanavia up through 1200 and even later. The game is asymmetrical, which is interesting. White is defending against an army twice its size, but white has a powerful king.

Tonight we went to see Misty and Mike, the last time we'll see them before we go. Our calendar is starting to fill with these 'last visits'. It will be a busy month.

Monday, June 1, 2009

All American Weekend

Yesterday I went skeet shooting with some friends. Up on a sandy river bank in north Ferndale, it felt a lot like summers when I was a teen, hanging out in the suburban wilds with friends. I've never fired a shotgun before, and it was fun and easy. "This is what America is all about!" my friend cheered.
In the afternoon I sold two bicycles through Craigslist and cleared out my workshop. Good productivity!

Today we went to Birch Bay with the dogs ... it's looks a bit like the fjords. Then off to a farewell Naylors party with our babysitting co-op. We played baseball with the kids (I'm horrible at fielding but an okay hitter), and I was struck at the appropriateness of playing baseball before we leave.

Guns and baseball. How American can you get?

With exactly 4 weeks left to go, one of those weeks dominated by a family reunion, I realize the upcoming urgency of these going away parties. Leaving Norway last year, the final week we were overcome with requests for social events. We're trying to schedule parties for each of the kids, and for the grown-ups too, but I'm quite certain we will in the end feel like we simply ran out of time to do all we wanted to.