Monthly Archives: June 2012

Opps, I did it again!


It happened…

Somebody called the blog police on me…

It wasn’t for dedicating my awards to my husband in my last post, but for having to many ‘o’s’ in lose, and not enough ‘r’s’ in scarred!

My only excuse is exhaustion. I get tired from the juggling act I always seem to have going on inside my head. Everything from, “What should I make for dinner?” to “Which book should I take with me on vacation?” Questions pop into my head faster than I can find solutions for them. I don’t need to tell you how busy I am, because we’re all busy.

The other thing that clutters my mind is always having to do things in two languages. I jump from English to Norwegian, several hundred times a day. Growing up I always thought it was funny how my grandmother would mix Norwegian in with her English. After learning Norwegian myself, I noticed she did the same when talking Norwegian.

I could understand the mistake while talking a foreign language, but how could she mix up her own native words? Over the years she sent many letters, in Christmas and Birthday cards all written in her blended jargon. Trying to figure out what the Norwegian words in the English sentences meant, was sometimes like putting a puzzle together.

It is now me who is in constant search of a word, and use my Norwegian to English dictionary just as often as my English to Norwegian one. I wonder if this is because like my grandmother, I was over thirty before learning my new language. My children never seem to have any trouble hopping from one language to the other. I however, am like my grandmother, always mixing language soup and not taking the time to read through my posts better, before hitting publish…

Thats Amore


I’ve been nominated for One Lovely Blog Award by my new friend on the crazytraintotinkytown. A great blog about starting a new life in Turkey. So whether you’re in need of some summer sun, or not, check it out!

I also received a Sunshine Award from Kate, the famous creator of Spineless Wonders over at beforiforget Always entertaining!

Finally, a Beautiful Blogger Award from fellow Jersey girl Laura Stanfill she reads and knits, but mostly writes, and she’s good!

I want to do something a little different and I hope no one calls the blog police…

I want to dedicate these awards to my husband, who’s been such a great sport. First losing me to ‘the book’ and now, ‘the blog’. He has also – recently – been scarred for life and I feel partly responsible  Something big part 1.

In his honor, I’d like to tell seven things about him:

1.  He was born in Norway and although he’s only lived a total of three years in America, he talks like a Yankee (I wonder why).

2. Have you heard the saying, “When the cats away, the mice will play?” My husband says, “You know what happens when the cat’s gone.”

3. Have you heard the saying, “I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off?” My husband says, “I’ve been running around like a de headed chicken.” (he has a little trouble with sayings)

4. He never says, “I can’t.” Only “I can try.”

5. He never asks what I’m mad about… He just brings home flowers and waits for it to pass.

6. He snores when he drinks (I had to tell something bad).

7. He rocks my world!

Monday, we (just him and I) are leaving on a much deserved trip to Cinque Terra, Italy. You’ll hear all about it, when I get back…

Ever since the book launch in April, life has been crazy. There are simply not enough hours in the day for book promoting, plus we have a big family. He works a million hours a week and travels, I blog (I’m sure that needs no explaining). I lost my grandmother, we got a new grand-baby and lets not forget the photo shoot of the house… Exhale, Mag!

I’ve already warned him, “I will not be pretty, on this vacation!” I am not packing makeup, I’m wearing my hair in a ponytail everyday and I will be drinking Italian wine at every meal.

We are not bringing laptops, iPads or iPhones (well maybe a phone for emergency) and I’ve already made a list of all the things I want to talk to him about, while I have his undivided attention (he’s going to love that, not)

Ciao!

A Special Place

 

For those of you who do not know, I live on a small island off the southwest coast of Norway. Although I was not born here, I do believe it is where I belong. I tried to fight it, but is there any use in fighting fate?

Unless its pouring (which happens – not complaining) I walk my two dogs Khloe and Mia everyday. Our goal is always Skadberg Sanden, which is a little beach about a kilometer down the road.

 

Unless the weather is exceptionally fine, I mostly find myself alone here. And that makes it a perfect spot to think, or scream into the wind, “Why am I here?” 

I feel closer to God and better in touch with myself in this place. It is also the ground where my ancestors walked and that makes me feel less foreign, in this my adopted land.

 

 

There’s a charming old house standing close to the dunes, which is particularly special to me. I was no more than eleven the first time I saw it and can remember thinking how beautiful it was. I visited Norway often when I was young and every time I saw the house, I would picture myself living there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t live there, but I live a lot closer than I really, ever thought I would.

Confessions of a (writer?)

I have six children!

Four of them live here in Norway (two still at home) and two are living in the States. My travel goal each year is to at some point visit these two missing children of mine, whether they come here or I go there. This past May my son and his lovely wife came to Norway and my daughter came to the Netherlands for my book launch. My daughter is also coming to Norway in September and as a bonus, she is bringing her son. The only bad thing is her daughter can’t come because of school (that stinks). It’s not easy when an ocean separates you from your family, but this is my life.

Life has been both good and bad, in fact it has thrown me twenty-three chapters worth of curveballs to write about and thats what I’m getting to with this post…

I never thought sitting down to write my story three years ago that it would be published but for once, I was in the right place at the right time. I got lucky. Not that it isn’t a good story, because it is! I defy anyone to read it and not find something they can identify with.

The reason I feel so honored to be published is this… I’m not really a writer. I lived and yes, wrote, but if it weren’t for the talent of a skilled editor, I’m afraid my book would be nothing more than endless rambling.

The reason for my confession is this, I follow dozens of blogs, half of them are written by people who are (whether published or not) writers in every sense of the word. I can see how good they are and yet they struggle for recognition (this in my opinion is a true writer). They are gifted, dedicated and deserve to be rewarded. I on the other hand work for hours and then break out into a cold sweat every time I press the publish button on my blog. More than once I’ve found mistakes that have left me spinning in my bed at night.

I don’t want it to be like that. I want it to be fun. Thats why I’m declaring this blog to be the endless ramblings of your average everyday person (who just so happens to have an edited book out there).

Phew… That felt good!

My daughter and her family in Norway:

My son and his wife in Norway:

 

Something big part 3

I shall never, ever complain about Norwegian weather again!

We had the photo shoot for Hjemmet (Norwegian Women’s magazine) at my house on Friday and the weather was a little nippy (sorry, old habits) beautiful!

After a whole month of work, not to mention all the stress that went into this day, it went off without a hitch. Two very lovely ladies showed up at nine o’clock in the morning, one took pictures while the other interviewed my husband and I. She asked him questions about the house and me questions about the book. The book is after all the whole reason I decided to do this, anything for publicity. Right?

They were finished by one, and then stayed for coffee and cake before leaving. I must say, they made the whole experience fun… Thank you, ladies.

However, the weeks leading up to this day were anything but fun, Something Big part 1 and part 2, and my husband now has the Harry Potter scar on his forehead to prove it.

In all fairness, the house did need to be painted, just not at the speed of light. He fell because he was rushing to get the job done and now, every time I see the scar on his face I’ll be reminded again, of all he does for me. Another point for him.

The women from Hjemmet were hardly in their car before my husband was fast asleep on the sofa. I put away the food we used as props and started packing all the stuff I’d loaned for the pictures. I then woke my husband and asked if he could help me return all the heavy, potted plants I’d borrowed. To my surprise he said, “No!” He needed a trip out in the boat… Alone.

It didn’t take long for me to realize he was right, enough is enough. So at four o’clock in the afternoon I put on my pajamas, went to bed and watched one episode of Mad Men (I have a secret crush on Don Draper) before falling asleep. (Darn, I forgot to tell Hjemmet we were probably one of the first homes in Norway to put television in the bedroom).

My son woke me at seven and asked if I could drive him to a friends house, I did (in my pajamas), came home watched another episode of my chain smoking, hard drinking ad man and went back to sleep. I slept until 9:30 the next morning! I can’t remember the last time I slept that long…

The first thing I noticed while drinking my tea and looking out the window the next morning, was all the potted plants were gone… Somebody had returned them while I was asleep.

Thank you, honey!” He wouldn’t let me put a picture of his scar here, so I’m posting a picture of Don Draper instead.

I’d also like to thank Anja for her help and advice, and for lending me all her magnificent treasures.

Marita, for the pretty cupcakes.

Diana, for the excellent cake.

Oasen, for the beautiful flowers.

Espeland Senteret, for building our spectacular new lookout.

Tag! You’re it!

I ran as fast as I could but the Housewife Down Under caught me, and now I’ve been tagged! Her blog is very direct, sometimes opinionated and always entertaining, you should check it out…

Now it’s your turn to run, because I’m coming after you. “Isn’t this fun?”

First up… The rules for playing blog tag.

  1. You must post the rules
  2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
  3. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged
  4. Tag (eleven) people with a link to your post
  5. Let them know they’ve been tagged

Here are the questions I’ve been given:

Do you like your middle name? It’s Elizabeth and yes, I like it but never use it.

What do you think would be the worst place in the world to live? Hmm… Thats a tough question. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone and you really don’t know a place before you’ve actually lived there, so I ‘ll answer, any country without my husband.

Are you a religious person? I’m a spiritual person who believes in God, but doesn’t go to church every Sunday.

Do you snore? I’ve never heard any complaints…

If you had a free hand to implement and enforce one political policy in your country, what would it be? You can only pick one! Well, Norway just so happens to be one of the richest countries in the world (thanks to oil). Most of the money is invested, donated or banked, while schools and hospitals are run on tight (sometimes strangled) budgets. I say loosen the purse strings, nothing is more important than schools and hospitals. Am I right?

Do you collect anything? I collect travel books from every where I go.

If you could have one talent that you don’t already have, what would it be? I would love to be able to draw or paint. It looks so relaxing and rewarding.

What’s a talent that you already have? I don’t have a special talent for anything, but if I put my mind to it, I can muddle through most things…

Whats the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten? And why did you eat it? When I was nine-years-old and visiting a school friend, her mother made me eat a cream cheese and jelly sandwich for lunch. I can still remember how hard it was to swallow but I was much to afraid to refuse it.

Early bird or night owl? Depends on what time of the year it is, early to bed in the winter, up late in the summer, but always up early in the morning.

What hobby of yours do you enjoy most? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love scrap-booking!

Here are my questions:

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

2. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

3. Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker?

4. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

5. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

6. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move?

7. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

8. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

9. What is your happiest childhood memory?

10. Why do you blog?

11. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

Here are the blogs I randomly choose: (sorry if I’ve forgotten, or am annoying anyone)

beforeiforget

Robin Coyle

Rendezvous With Renee

Stuff I tell my sister

Crazy Train to Tinky Town

expatlogue

Latimer-Ridley

M.Selene

Thanks everyone!

Summer is almost here!

I love summer, its my favorite time of the year. There are no guarantees the weather will be nice in Norway, but thats why we have airplanes to carry us off in search of the sun. When my children were little we always went to my parents house in New Jersey. There the weather was always warm and the kids enjoyed the swimming pool in my parents yard, while their mother enjoyed the air conditioned shopping malls (just kidding…).

Now the children are grown and my husband and I like to travel around and see new places. This years vacation spot is, Cinque Terra. Whats interesting, is how I found this location… I casually stumbled across the picture above on Naomi Baltuck’s blog, Writing Between the Lines and immediately commented, Where is this place? Three days later our trip was booked! I’m sure once you read about “the five lands” on the Italian Riviera, you’ll be dying to go too…

Blogging has been quite rewarding lately, not only did I find this year’s vacation spot, but I’ve also had three blog awards bestowed on me. First was the Versatile Blogger Award which I received from Beth’s blog, it’s a whole new world. Beth is one of those people who feels like a good friend, even though we’ve never met. The second is a Liebster Award from Robin Coyle her blog is, The writing Life of Robin. Robin has a great style and her blog is overflowing with writing tips. Since I already have a Versatile Blogger and a Liebster Award, I’m going to jump right over to the third one which is the Sunshine Award. I was nominated for this one by Paula’s blog, stuff I tell my sister. Paula is also a delightful person and her blog is a warm and cozy place to visit. Check them out, you won’t regret it!

The Sunshine Award guidelines are:

  1. Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the questions that come with it.
  3. Pass it along to other bloggers and let them know they have received it.

Here are the blogs I nominate, (I tried to see who already had the award, but that was a lot of work and then I got my lists confused, so I’m just randomly throwing some names out there. If you already have it, then I’m sorry. If you don’t have it and your name is not on the list, just take it, I’ll never tell…)

1. An American Hermit Crab in Denmark

2. Expat Alien

3. The Wanderlust Gene

4. Expat Lingo

5. I was an expat wife 

6. Building Bridges

7. M. Latimer-Ridley

8. it’s a whole new world

9. How the Cookie Crumbles

10. Writing Between the Lines


Now for the questions…

  1. Favorite color-  When the sky is solid blue, thats my favorite color.
  2. Favorite animal- Thats a toss up between Mia and Khloe…
  3. Favorite number- That has to be six, because I have six kids.
  4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink- Easy! Tea (warm or cold).
  5. Facebook or Twitter- Definitely Facebook (thats where all my real friends are)
  6. My passion- Everyone will expect me to say writing, but its scrapbooking.
  7. Giving or receiving- I love to buy gifts but when people ask me what I want, I always answer, “I don’t know.”
  8. Favorite pattern- Hmm… Burberry plaid.
  9. Favorite day of the week- Without a doubt Friday night, I love having the weekend in front of me.
  10. Favorite flower- After living in Holland for three years, I have to say tulips.

Thanks everybody!

Torn between lands

This picture was taken in 1963, the woman in the picture is my grandmother, Gerd. She was living in America at the time, but at home in Norway for a visit. I’m not sure what she was up to with clothes slung all over the open car, suitcases in the trunk and a bucket? Whatever it was, I can see she was certainly dressed for the occasion.

Life didn’t start easy for Gerd, she lost her father when she was quite young. She was married at nineteen, had three children and lost one to pneumonia. At twenty-five, her husband died and three weeks later she gave birth to her fourth child (who she would later loose in a boating accident). She was also left with a small-run-down farm to manage (which I can now see from my kitchen window).

Five years later, in 1949, she gave the locals something to really talk about when the widow up and married a man eleven years her junior. They sold the farm in 1955, packed up the children and moved to America. They stayed for thirteen years before moving back to Norway, but Gerd had a restless soul and lived the rest of her life with a foot in each country. Bouncing between her devotion to Norway and her love affair with America, she never could decide where she was happiest.

At ninety-two, Gerd passed away yesterday. She died quietly in her sleep, of old age.

Not many people are lucky enough to have their grandmother for over fifty years, like I was, but that doesn’t make it any easier to let her go. I have plenty of memories, like when I was little and we would visit her on a Sunday afternoon. She would always spread a blanket on the floor and there my sister and I would sit eating ice cream, looking through photo albums of people in Norway, we didn’t know. When I was eleven and visited her in Norway, I remember asking if she could make me a tuna salad sandwich for lunch one day. After she explained and I saw that Norwegian tuna was pink, I was a bit skeptical but it turned out to be the best I ever tasted. She later confessed that when she couldn’t find canned tuna in Norway, she used salmon instead.

With her in America and me now in Norway, I’d ring her every other week and she’d always answer the phone saying, “Is it really you Margaret?” and then when it was time to hang up she’d say, “I’m so happy you called, its always nice to talk to you Margaret.” She was sharp and clear to the very end. I’ll miss those calls.

The one thing I’m most grateful for is that she was able to hold my book in her hands and see her picture inside it. She couldn’t read it, but she lived it and now she will live on forever…

Something big, part 2

 

The three books you see above are always lying on my desk and thats why there is no excuse for bad grammar or misspelled words! (thats me being hard on myself for misspelling ladder in my last post) However, most of the time I’m doing three things at once and we all know how that goes. Anyhow, blogging is supposed to be fun-right?

Now back to the story…

Where were we? Oh yeah, Hjemmet (Norwegian women’s magazine) is coming to photograph the house and the two culprits below got paint all over my floors. Don’t let their innocent faces fool you…

 

I learned something very useful this week, baby wipes can be used for something other than their intended purpose. They’re great for removing paint off floors and furniture, so the dogs still have a home.

I took out my husbands stitches today, well three of them, he had to take the other seven himself. Here in Norway we don’t bother the doctor with such trivial things (we’re Vikings, you know). He also fixed the broken boards on the deck, the only problem is, they’re much newer and lighter than the others now. We may have to replace them all. Otherwise, outside is looking pretty good. As for inside, I had to call a friend for help.

My friend Anja has an eye for decorating and many thoughts. It helped to get a new set of eyes and another opinion. Together we came up with some good ideas. We made a list of all the changes and the things we needed to buy (nothing big…). I also borrowed quite a bit of stuff from her (crystal candle sticks, throw pillows, a large ceramic angel and a very special fruit bowl…)

I decided to let them photograph the living room, kitchen, dining area and outside. These are the rooms I wrote about in the book and have the best views of the sea. I’ve also decide to set up small areas in these rooms to photograph instead of the whole room. Some examples of what I mean below, but remember I’m no photographer!

 

 

 

We have a large patio at the front of the house which sits above a high cliff, from here you can see out the fjord and into the North Sea. This area is the pièce de résistance and I intend to do it up good. I’m setting the table with a seafood extravaganza and will take pictures, for you to see on the day they come. The big day is Friday, June 15 and the only thing that can spoil it is the weather… What are the chances of that in Norway?

To be continued…

Something big, part 1

This is a picture of my house in the distance, its the same house that appears on the cover of my book. The house was built in 1993 and is one of kind. It was conceived deep in the depths of my imagination and then designed and built by my husband. Six children have at one time or another called it home and as for my husband and I, its our nirvana.

My relationship with the house and with Norway are a significant part of my story. Thats why my biggest wish is that Fly Away Home will someday be translated to Norwegian. I have sent it out to Gyldendal, a publishing house here in Norway but have not heard back yet…

I also sent a mail to Hjemmet, a weekly Norwegian woman’s magazine, which can easily be compared with Good Housekeeping in the UK, and America. I told them about the book, sent a few snapshots of the house and asked if they’d be interested in doing a photo-spread in exchange for a little book publicity. Anything the house may lack in design is more than made up for in location, but still I didn’t expect much.

I was in the middle of lunch with a mouth full of food when the call came, Hjemmet was interested and before hanging up, a date was set for the photo-shoot! First I danced around the living room, called my husband, my friends, my family and then danced around a little more. It wasn’t before later that night, while lying in bed waiting for sleep to come and rescue me from myself, that I realized what I’d done…

I invited an entire country into my home!

Yes, I wrote a book and told all my secrets, but this is different. This is where I hide when life is unkind, where I drop my armor and where I go to restore myself. Feeling it was too late to back out, I forged on and soon hit another mountain of worries. The house needed to be painted, the deck stained and the yard landscaped to perfection. It was at this time we were blessed with the most beautiful weather and therefore needed to get busy right away, one never knows when the weather will change in Norway.

I worked on the yard while my husband and son painted. After four solid days of painting (yes, I made him take off from work) and working on the last bits of trim, my husband took a bad fall when the ladder slid out from under him. I was inside preparing dinner, the grandchildren were visiting and the dogs were running wild, when I heard my son yell… “Help, Pop fell!”

I ran out, saw him lying in a pool of paint and blood, noticed the boards on the deck below him had actually broke on impact, ran back in and called 911 (its 113 here). I may have jumped the gun a little on that, it turned out he didn’t need an ambulance but I did have to drive him to the hospital, where he got ten stitches in his forehead. He also had sore knees (from crashing through the deck) cuts and bruises, but worst of all was what happened while we were gone.

A brand new bucket of white paint made the fall with him and splattered everywhere. While my son tried to clean it up the dogs and the grandkids managed to march through it and then ran through the house. Thats right, all my floors were now full of  white painted paw prints!

To be continued…

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