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Peace and tranquility

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Norway at its best!

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You call this summer!

Here is where the salmon's journey begins as they swim in from the North Sea

Here is where the journey begins as the salmon swim in from the North Sea

Summer is suppose to be warm and sunny! Right?

Growing up on the Jersey Shore we had our share of bad weather, but summers were always spent at the beach, or in the pool. We’d pack up our winter clothes in May and wouldn’t need them again before at least October. I remember how hard it was getting use to wearing shoes again in the fall, when school started. I have such fond memories of how summer is suppose to be…

Now I live on an island off the southwest coast of Norway, where summer is about as predictable as the stock-market. This week alone we’ve had two days with a cold wind, one warm day, one day that started terrible and ended nice. That happens a lot, it’s gray and damp all day and then the sun comes out, just as we’re heading for bed… Today it’s raining.

There is however, one sure sign that summer has arrived here in my little corner of the world. The salmon are swimming in from the ocean and up into the rivers to spawn. To do this, they must swim through the sound and directly past my house. For the next month (with a special license) we are allowed to set nets from Sunday night until Thursday afternoon. This is a big deal for the locals, who check their nets several times a day and then gossip over who’s catching the most. I’ve seen two salmon hop through the water, just since I’ve been sitting here writing this post. (There’s a window right behind my computer screen).

Much to my husbands dismay we’re heading for Scotland next week and that means he’ll have to take a break from fishing. My son is enrolled in a week-long bagpiping course at the National Bagpipe Centre in Glasgow. I’m not exactly sure how an American/Norwegian teenager got interested in bagpiping, he just did.

And I doubt we’ll find summer in Scotland either…

My catch, holding his catch ;)

My catch, holding his catch 😉

 

Frankenstorm

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I feel like it was just Christmas, I blinked and now it’s March!

Time really does fly… In five years, I will have lived half my life in Norway!

While Norway is my home now and I have no regrets, New Jersey is where I come from and where my loyalties will always reside.

I follow a blog called, It’s All About Purple. It’s written by Debbie, in New Jersey (we went to school together). I’m especially fond of this blog because it always makes me feel at “home” and  somehow -a little closer to New Jersey.

Yesterday’s post especially pulled on my heartstrings.

In late September 2012 Super-Storm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City NJ, which was already mostly underwater due to a full moon and high tides. The storm slammed the New Jersey coastline with 90 mph winds. Registered only as a category 1 on a scale of five, it packed astoundingly low barometric pressure, which gave it tremendous energy to push water inland. The storm caused massive power outages, that went on for weeks. People were left stranded and some dead. It destroyed tens of thousands of businesses and homes. It ripped away parts of our famous boardwalks and blew the sand from our beaches. It was the nightmare you never think will really happen.

All over the world devastating disasters such as this strike and we feel tremendous sorrow. Unfortunately, as the media buzz around them dies so does our interest. That’s why with summer on the way, I just want to shout out, “I haven’t forgotten about you New Jersey and I’m rooting for you to come back, bigger and better than ever!”

Read Debbie’s post and see pictures (not of devastation, only the beauty) of our Jersey Shore, here.

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Something bright on a cloudy day

There was a rainbow outside my window today

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.

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…

Live in the moment

We have had the most beautiful weather in Norway, eleven days of warmth. Thats big here and this Jersey girl has appreciated every moment of it. To be able to wander in and out without a jacket, shake the mothballs off my summer clothes and drive with the window down for eleven days may seem like nothing, but believe me its something.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Norway can have beautiful weather, but seldom is it this nice and for so long. I think what I enjoyed most was watering my plants everyday, that’s something the rain usually takes care of. I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time in my garden and my husband managed to paint the whole house!

 

Its amazing how good the sun makes me feel. In the winter when its dark I can’t wait to go to bed at night and now in the bright evenings, its the furthest thing from my mind. At this time of the year we always wake up and usually go to bed with the sun still shining. For me this makes the short, dark days of winter, well worth it.

 

I don’t know how many days are left before the bad weather returns because I learned years ago not to check weather reports, but I do hear people talking… The temperature has already gone down a bit and there are a few clouds today, but I refuse to think about it and have decided to live in the moment.

 

I’ve posted pictures taken from my garden and from a window in my house, so you too can enjoy the beautiful weather in Norway…

A lawnmower, a dildo and a dead car battery

Norway is a beautiful country, especially when its warm and the sun shines. Unfortunately, thats not too often. I live on the Southwest coast where we mostly get rain, wind and arthritis. The locals here will always joke around and say, “Last year we had summer on a Wednesday,” or “We can’t complain, last year we had two whole weeks of summer.” Everyone laughs, because what else can they do?

I come from New Jersey and am therefore well equipped to handle cold winters, a rainy spring, even a crisp fall, but summer is supposed to be warm. I remember swimming everyday, chasing the ice cream man and begging my mother to turn the air conditioner on. The one thing I could always count on was a hot summer on the Jersey Shore.

Life has now carried me to another place, where I never watch weather reports and try hard to except what I can’t change. In reward, Mother Nature will send me a beautiful day every now and then, and from the top of my wind blown hair to the bottom of my cold little toes, I appreciate it!

I’m afraid this is the week everyone will be talking about next year… “In 2012 we had summer for a full week in May.” The weather is magnificent! The sky is a solid blue and because its Norway (land of the midnight sun) daylight comes early and goes on until late in the evening.

I love working outside in the garden, but not when the weather is bad. I guess you could call me a fair weather gardener. I called a girlfriend up yesterday and asked if she would like to go with me to the Garden Center to buy summer flowers for my pots. She has the most beautiful garden and is dedicated enough to run out at two in the morning to wash the salt off her plants after a storm. She claims to have a green heart but not much of a green thumb, which isn’t true, for she has both.

We had a great time wandering about, oohing and aahing, and picking out flowers. Delirious from the unfamiliar heat, I went a little overboard and ended up buying NOK 2,300 (Norwegian Kroner) worth of flowers (you’ll have to do the math or take my word, it was a lot)! My friend also convinced me into buying two bags of cow manure to blend with the four bags of potting soil I bought.

We loaded up the car, soil and manure in the trunk, flowers packed on the back seat and floor, I put the key in, turned the ignition and… Nothing! The car was dead?! My husband was out of town, my friends husband was out sailing and it seemed everyone was out enjoying the nice weather because I couldn’t get a hold of anybody.

First we asked if anyone at the Garden Center could give us a jump, but no one had cables. We then headed to the fast food restaurant next door, where we found four young, leather clad motorcyclists sitting outside eating and asked for help (actually my friend did, she’s braver than me). They were quick to come to the rescue (of us two cougars) and tried push starting the car. It didn’t work.

Now my car was half way down the road, the power windows of course wouldn’t go down, it was hot as blazes, my flowers were wilting and I had a trunk full of manure. We walked back to the restaurant, ordered two soda’s, called a tow truck and waited.

While waiting my friend looked at me as serious as can be and said, “This is all my fault.”

“What, how can this be your fault?” I asked

“All bad things happen in three… Yesterday I ran over the hose while cutting the grass and ruined the lawnmower, last night my dildo broke and today your car died.”

I laughed so hard, I think soda ran out my nose.

15 clues you’re in Norway

You know you’re in Norway When:

  • Summer comes and goes on the same day.
  • There is no such thing as bad weather, just not the right clothing.
  • Frozen (Grandiosa) Pizza is the National dish.
  • You only hear Swedish jokes at a party.
  • There is no alcohol sold or served on Election Day.
  • The most popular pastime is walking.
  • No one you meet smiles or says hello.
  • No two towns in the whole country talk with the same dialect.
  • The most popular cheese is brown.
  • Everyone has to pay for the National television station, whether you watch it or not.
  • mayonnaise is sold in a bag.
  • Things are only sold in small sizes.
  • Everything shuts down in July, because everyone’s on vacation.
  • You pay more for Norwegian oil here than anywhere else in the world.
  • People can (hopefully) take a joke.