Shopping like a Canadian in Grand Forks.

I may have mentioned in previous posts that the prices of some food items are more expensive in Norway. It turns out that the locals have found a way to offset these higher prices; they shop in Sweden. Apparently, most food items, liquor, clothing, etc. are less expensive down south of us. We are fortunate to know a few locals, and a couple of these friends, Britt and Astrid, were kind enough to let me accompany them on a recent shopping trip to the country to the south.

After driving 45 minutes (I made a mental note of this in order to more accurately describe the experience to my readers) we arrived at our first store; a store which more than faintly resembles a certain Happy Harry’s in Grand Forks. As we approached the entrance, one of my friends made the observation that there were many Norwegians there. How she knew that, I do not know. It was at that moment, though, that I began to feel like a Canadian in North Dakota. As we entered this store, I am sure I had the same look that I have on my face while shopping for adult beverages in our own version of it: one of lost wonder at all of the options.

Our next store was a large grocery store, MaxiMat (loosely translated “Large Food), and we split up to fill our carts. I did not let the fact that most of the items cost significantly less than back in Moss influence my decisions. Much. In fact, the only item I bought in their American Food aisle was a small (only choice-small) jar of Skippy Peanut Butter. I limited my items to about two bags worth of groceries that we COULD buy in Moss, but were much more budget-friendly here in the country to the south. (or east, depending on where one is in Norway)

That’s is for now.

The American Aisle in Maximat.

The American Aisle in Maximat.

Preparation of smørbrød in the outer deli cafe.

Preparation of smørbrød in the outer deli cafe.

Bathroom, anyone?

Bathroom, anyone?

A sampling of the items I bought in Sweden.

A sampling of the items I bought in Sweden.

Moss Photo Galleri 2

I figured that now would be a fine time to showcase the varied statues one finds around the town of Moss. There are more, but these are the ones I pass from time to time.

I have added a few more since I first posted this.

Boy reading in front of the library.

Boy reading in front of the library.

Soldier in front of the dam.

Soldier in front of the dam.

Climbing bears in front of the elementary school I passed.

Climbing bears in front of the elementary school I passed.

Along the pedestrian mall downtown.

Along the pedestrian mall downtown.

In front of the high school downtown.

In front of the high school downtown.

I love the movement of this one I discovered in a square towards the harbor.

I love the movement of this one I discovered in a square towards the harbor.

Some lounging guy on Jeløy.

Some lounging guy on Jeløy.

This lady is looking out to sea in honor of the men lost...maybe in wars, maybe at sea.

This lady is looking out to sea in honor of the men lost…maybe in wars, maybe at sea.

A bench.

A bench.

At one entrance to the Hotel Refnes Gods on Jeløy.

At one entrance to the Hotel Refnes Gods on Jeløy.

Three girls holding arms on the way to our church.

Three girls holding arms on the way to our church.

Intriguing statue seen on the walk to Jeløy.

Intriguing statue seen on the walk to Jeløy.

If I come across any others of merit, I will add them to this little galleri.

Cajun Shrimp Boil, Norwegian Style

We got to experience a real cultural event this past Friday.  We were invited to a “shrimp party” at the summer cottage (hytte) of Trygve and Bente, friends of ours from church. Asbjorn and Astrid were also in attendance.  Like a Cajun shrimp boil, the Norwegian shrimp party has a fairly simple menu – shrimp smørbrød (an open-faced sandwich), potato salad, an antipasto-like tray (without cheese but with melon), and an assortment of drink choices.

The Norwegian smørbrød is a traditional dish that comes in several standard styles. The shrimp version is a single slice of white bread (that is the brød), spread with butter (that is the smør), covered with perhaps 15 small shrimp, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, with a medium-heavy drizzle of mayonnaise and/or  an avocado spread.  It is eaten with a knife and fork.

Asbjørn's finished smørbrød.

Asbjørn’s finished smørbrød.

The Norwegian twist is that the shrimp are whole, unshelled shrimp in two very large bowls in the center of the table (4 kilograms – 8.8 pounds of shrimp).  The shrimp are individually taken from the bowl and given the 1-2-3 treatment. 1 – twist off the head, 2 – unwrap the shell and eggs from the central body, and 3 – pull off the tail.  Each person has a plastic bag for the refuse, and a bowl of warm water for finger-cleaning.  Norwegians are very serious about their shrimp (reker).  Trygve and Asbjorn could do about four 1-2-3 treatments for each one that Debbie and I managed to complete.  They also knew more about shrimp anatomy than I ever thought was possible to know.

The entire evening, from dinner, to desert, and then coffee, took about four hours. Very European. When was the last time you spent four hours eating and speaking with friends over a meal? For us it was 2002, when we were last in Norway.

The group mid-meal.

The group mid-meal.

Table setting.

Table setting.

Safety, honesty, and other musings.

Occasionally there are days here where interesting things happen (amidst the boring days), and yesterday was one of the interesting ones. It was a non-grocery-store-day, so that left a bunch of time to do something fun! I wrote two notes, put ribbons around two sample packs of Starbucks Christmas Blend brought from home, and set out to see if two people were home.
The first was the lady in whose home we lived in 2002. I knew which number bus would take me there so that was no problem. While I waited for the bus, I watched a bus driver head to the middle of his bus to help a lady off. As the rear doors opened, a lady of approximately 85 years with a WALKER slowly and with his assistance as well as the assistance of a young mom with a large baby carriage (barnevogn) eased out to the snow-covered sidewalk. I was amazed because she was out and about at her age and ability. Again, today, maybe the same lady, was slowly, and bent over, walking with a walker downhill over ice and snow, across a busy four lane thoroughfare! At the other side, a young man approached her to offer his assistance as she head down the hill. I was just struck by the kindnesses of others. Anyhow, I arrived at our old house. The owner was not at home, so I left my little note and coffee. Maybe she’ll contact me or maybe I’ll go back someday.

The house in which our family lived in 2002.

The house in which our family lived in 2002.

The second person I wanted to visit was a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in 13 years, Gerd, who lived in the town of Rygge, about 10 km south. I waited at the bus stop which was in the direction I knew her house was in, and very soon a bus appeared. Sure enough, my transfer was good on this bus and he understood which way I was heading. [this is where I thought of honesty. The driver collected cash from his riders, and put this cash into an old leather pouch attached to a post in the floor. That’s it. That’s the whole security system. He must have had thousands of kroner in there! I am guessing that there may be a few cities in America where that might seem a bit of a gamble. Just sayin’.] Anyway, I hadn’t contacted Gerd ahead of time, but I hoped that she would be at home. As I approached her house, I saw that not only was she at home, but she was outside just finishing up shoveling the snow from her back steps! Did I mention that Gerd just celebrated her 89th birthday yesterday!? I’m telling you, these Norwegians are hardy people! She invited me in for coffee and cake (yep, she had two kinds of cake ready to serve), and we started where we had left off 13 years ago. Her English was excellent in spite of her not having used it much in all these years. What a delightful visit with a charming lady. I left after about an hour, but not before I invited her and a friend to our apartment for coffee and cake within the next week or so.

Gerd, getting the coffee and cake ready to serve.

Gerd, getting the coffee and cake ready to serve.

Gerd and I. She is such a dear lady.

Gerd and I. She is such a dear lady.

The cakes: one was the birthday cake she made, and the other was a sweet bread.

The cakes: one was the birthday cake she made, and the other was a sweet bread.

One more thing before I go. As I was walking back from today’s trip to a new thrift store (by the way, I scored with a china coffee set for 8 made in Czechoslovakia bought for 100 NOK [~$12]),

My great find at the bruktbutikk!

My great find at the bruktbutikk!

I walked by an elementary school during recess. These kids were sledding down a hill, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and everything else a kid could do in the snow. I took a couple of pictures, from a distance, and sure enough, a teacher calls out to me, “helloooo?”. She was concerned about a stranger taking pictures, saying parents are concerned about ‘the internet’. Of course, I said, as I showed her my pictures with the kids at a far, indiscernible distance. She said they were no problem and smiled as we parted. Yep, safety first!

View towards the Østfoldfjord.

View towards the Østfoldfjord.

All in all, it was a good day’s adventure.

Communication

I am feeling SO connected way over here across the pond. No, seriously, with Facebook, email, Skype, Facetime, and Instagram, I have all sorts of ways to communicate with our kiddoes and friends. Funny though, during the day when we are active (well, me, sort-of, depending on the hour), most of our ‘people’ are either just waking up or still at work. We are thinking of heading to bed, most of our friends are just winding up for visiting. During the middle of the night, when both of us have still been waking up, we check our email/Facebook/GF Herald website, and, more than likely, there is more news.

Of course, we are rather ‘off the grid’ when it comes to our phone. Yes, we have a cell phone, and it works. In fact, just today I sent a text just to test it out! But, so few people actually know our number that it’s awfully quiet around here. But we actually don’t mind that at all.

And as far as communication in person? We have had opportunities to visit with friends outside of Paul’s work. I plan on getting together for coffee with friends while he is at work, but am unsure if people meet at a cafe or konditori for coffee or rather in one’s home. The endless cup of coffee is not common here, I have noticed. I’ll need to research this.

Now, for a few random photos I’ve taken this week:

Paul at the pedestrian mall downtown, before the snow fell.

Paul at the pedestrian mall downtown, before the snow fell.

Some lovely mittens for sale at the husfliden downtown.

Some lovely mittens for sale at the husfliden downtown.

The shrimp which a lady at the grocery store told me to buy. They were tedious to de-shell, and I ended up with a small pile of small shrimp. Next time I'm buying the container of already-shelled ones.

The shrimp which a lady at the grocery store told me to buy. They were tedious to de-shell, and I ended up with a small pile of small shrimp. Next time I’m buying the container of already-shelled ones.

Downtown Moss on our walk home from Bible Study tonight.

Downtown Moss on our walk home from Bible Study tonight.

Week 2: Food, food, and more food.

Our daughter mentioned than it seemed all we talk about has to do with food. Hmmmm, come to think of it, that may be right. If anyone has any ideas for future posts that would be interesting, we are more than willing to share whatever interests you. So, until then, I think I’ll just post more about food. And whatever else comes to mind.

After walking in the snow and ice to the Rema 1000 and back with our groceries.

After walking in the snow and ice to the Rema 1000 and back with our groceries.

This photo does not do justice to the fatigue I was feeling after traipsing to the store and back, seriously against the wind BOTH WAYS. I was hoping the snow that was covering my coat would show, but it either had melted already or was less than I thought.

The next few photos were taken last Friday on a tour of the factory in our neighborhood for a group of students from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. The factory was originally built in the late 1880s as a sawmill. Over the years, it has changed to iron works, ship building, and a papermill. It finally closed for good in 2006. The apartments in which we and a number of students from ACN live once housed the factory workers and their families.

Large mural, several stories high, on the side of one the factory buildings.

Large mural, several stories high, on the side of one the factory buildings.

Inside one of the large, empty buildings. The company which bought all of the buildings and surrounding land has big plans for future development. This will be an indoor shopping mall.

Inside one of the large, empty buildings. The company which bought all of the buildings and surrounding land has big plans for future development. This will be an indoor shopping mall.

Constitution Hall, built in 1778, behind which is the ACN, is where we and the students ate a lovely traditional dinner of stew. I didn't take a picture of the stew. Just imagine stew.

Constitution Hall, built in 1778, behind which is the ACN, is where we and the students ate a lovely traditional dinner of stew. I didn’t take a picture of the stew. Just imagine stew.

The factory tour included the back of our apartments--ours is right over my right shoulder. Top two floors.

The factory tour included the back of our apartments–ours is right over my right shoulder. Top two floors.

Our friends, Britt and Astrid, during a little lunch following church yesterday. We had an Indian soup with chicken, apples, and curry.

Our friends, Britt and Astrid, during a little lunch following church yesterday. We had an Indian soup with chicken, apples, and curry.

For dessert, Astrid prepared risgrøt with currants.

For dessert, Astrid prepared riskrem with currants.

So, enough about food, eh? I do take more photos than I post on here–perhaps to post them one day or perhaps just for my memory’s sake. Thanks for reading, and please, share this blog with anyone else you think may be interested…in food. 😉

Appliances; who knew?

I feel a little entitled even mentioning this subject. I mean, we are not promised an easy way to wash clothes, wash dishes, or heat up leftovers, right? But, in our own little world, we become accustomed to our time-saving machines, and operating said machines become like second nature to us.
Now, put yourself in another country where a) you are not able to read the instructions, and b) everything written ON the machine is in pictographs or something, and you may find yourself at a loss as to how to make this machine work.
My laundry is now [well, actually 10 hours ago, but I had a busy day] being agitated, off and on, in our washing machine, but I have no idea if the detergent found its way into the right spot [nope. I put it in the wrong place. oops.] or for how long this will continue [I found out. An hour and a half.]. I guess I’ll just wait and see if the load looks clean afterwards [clean enough].

Our washing machine.

Our washing machine.

Our beautiful new oven and stove confused me until I had to be tutored in it’s operation. I have since actually baked a cake in it as well as a rather tasty omelette, but do you know, it turns itself off when it decides that either things are done, or you are not paying attention, or the kitchen is going to go up in flames. Yep. So, I have to pay attention.

Our oven and stove.

Our oven and stove.

I haven’t used our dishwasher yet-we don’t use many dishes-but hope to use it when we host a dinner or something. I just now received instructions in that, but I would not have known a key element in it’s use had I not been shown. Apparently there is a dial at the base of the faucet which should be turned a certain way in order to use the dishwasher. Good to know.

Our dishwasher.

Our dishwasher.

The microwave heats up things well. No way to set a time for cooking from the outside, there IS a dial on the inside. Hmmm, it also says “grill combination” on the inside, so that sounds rather intriguing. Maybe it’s a microwave/toaster oven combo! I’ll let you know.

Our microwave or grill combo?

Our microwave or grill combo?

All in all, I’d say we have the latest in modern technology, but I am not equipped to use it. :-/

Until next time.

Moss Photo Galerie

I have collected a few random photos taken around the downtown area of Moss over the past several days, and in lieu of any significant thought-provoking prose [see Paul’s previous post], I will make this post a photo galerie.

Large old church in the downtown.

Large old church in the downtown.

Our little church, the Evangeliekirken.

Our little church, the Evangeliekirken.

Singing around the Christmas tree following the service on Sunday.

Singing around the Christmas tree following the service on Sunday.

A time of coffee and boller/sweet bread following the service.

A time of coffee and boller/sweet bread following the service.

More visiting.

More visiting.

Norway 002

Looks like Peter Pan is coming to town!

Looks like Peter Pan is coming to town!

Lunchtime offerings in the mall cafe.

Lunchtime offerings in the mall cafe. I want to learn the proper way to prepare smørbrød.

Outside the Cafe Riis, a rather upscale cafe downtown, where Paul and I shared a bowl of soup and a slice of bread with a coffee for each of us.

Outside the Cafe Riis, a rather upscale cafe downtown, where Paul and I shared a bowl of soup and a slice of bread with a coffee for each of us.

English Tourists vs. Real Tourists

RWAV

Semi-deep thought time: I finished reading Alister McGrath’s new book If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis right before we flew to Norway.  It is a book by one of my favorite Christian writers (Alister McGrath) about one of my favorite Christians (C.S. Lewis). The chapter on C.S. Lewis’s views about education had a passage that was very relevant to my time in Norway, and with which I strongly agreed. Since McGrath and Lewis both write about 100 times better than I do I will just copy their text.

… for Lewis, education is about more than being familiar with other ways of thinking or looking at things.  It is about inhabiting them – in other words, experiencing the way of thinking  and living that they make possible.  Lewis uses a nice analogy to help us understand the point he is making – English tourists, so vividly and amusingly portrayed in E.M. Forster’s novel A Room with a View (1908).  Some tourists … visit foreign countries without any intention of being challenged by them. They bring their own tea with them so that they don’t have to drink the local alternative. They keep themselves at a distance from the local culture, and see their “Englishness” as something to be preserved at all costs.  And when they return home, they are untainted by their experience.

… for Lewis, real tourists are those who are prepared to learn from their experience abroad.  They eat the local food and drink the local wine, seeing “the foreign country as it looks, not to the tourist, but to its inhabitants.”  As a result … these English tourists come home “modified, thinking and feeling” in different ways. Their travel has enlarged their vision of things. Education is about changing us – helping us realize that we are not always right, and that we can gain a deeper and better grasp of reality by experiencing the world the way others do.

Substitute “American” for “English” and you get the gist.

Supermarket Success

Yes, we are happy to report that I had a successful journey to the supermarket today. News flash! I had enough money with me to cover all that I had in my cart. That is, after I put back the can of whipping cream. And after I had told the checker (after I asked her if she spoke English) that I could only buy the little azalea flowering plant (about $4.50) if I had enough money. My little happy plant is (temporarily) healthy and living in our living room. Along with the 6 still pretty roses from the other night. This supermarket adventure only took about an hour and a half of my day. I also, if you care to know, baked chocolate chip cookies and made a salmon/spinach omelette with steamed broccoli for dinner. AND washed the dishes. Yep, You could say that this was a HIGHLY successful day.

Speaking of groceries, I thought you may be interested in the cost of a few items we have purchased this week. I am not sure if you are the one doing the shopping in your house, but I can pretty much guarantee that these items do not cost as much in your neck of the woods.

cucumber: $1.78

bananas: $1.15/lb

tomato sauce (12 oz): $3.20

milk (one liter): $2.05

butter (1/2 lb): $3.13

Coca Cola Light (1.5 liter): $3.45

whole chicken (~4 lb): $18.85 (probably the last whole chicken we’ll buy!)

This is just a sample of prices we have found here.

The cool bread slicer in the grocery store.

The cool bread slicer in the grocery store.

What 388 NOK (~$50) bought me today.

What 388 NOK (~$50) bought me today.

My happy azalea and reading chair.

My happy azalea and reading chair.

Hand-mixed cookie dough with Nestles chips brought from home.

Hand-mixed cookie dough with Nestles chips brought from home.

View across the road on the way to the supermarket.

View across the road on the way to the supermarket.