Visitors, Guests, Company, etc!

Can you sense the excitement in my voice? Yep, after being here nearly three months, we finally received our first overnight guests this week. The guestroom had been prepared with two twin beds, nightstand, lamp, clock, tealights, guests toiletries, a bouquet of fresh yellow tulips, and a bowl of chocolate. All the necessities.

Guestroom.

Guestroom.

We met our daughter, Emily, and her friend, Courtney, at the Oslo airport and had a good two-hour visit at the Starbucks there before our bus to Moss was to leave. It was so good to see them in Norway, finally, and ready for their vacation to Greece. They planned to spend two nights with us, then a week in Greece, and finishing up with two nights with us again.

I had made up a batch of Astrid’s delicious chicken and apple curry soup the day before, so it was ready for us soon after we arrived home. That and a fresh baguette would hold us over until our salmon dinner later that night. The girls went out walking through the downtown, after a nap, and returned just as the sun was starting to set. With this short visit, I wanted to give the girls as many ‘traditional Norwegian experiences’ as possible, so their walk and our dinner of baked salmon, mashed potatoes, and steamed cauliflower and carrots was a good start. Of course, we finished up with a little chocolate. 🙂

Even though waffles are not considered a breakfast food here in Norway, in order to fit them into our short time together, I prepared them for breakfast. I mean, a trip to Norway would not be complete without some vaffler, no? They wanted to shop a bit downtown, and afterwards we planned on taking a trip to Alby, an old manor with a cafe on the island of Jeløy, and a walk back along the coast and through the woods and fields to our little apartment on Verket. [this little walk, estimated to be about 3+ miles, apparently reached my limit of walking, as I think I strained a calf muscle on the way home.:-( ]

Courtney and Emily, at the Moss Falls,  ready for shopping.

Courtney and Emily, at the Moss Falls, ready for shopping.

Heading out from our neighborhood of Verket, to Alby.

Heading out from our neighborhood of Verket, to Alby.

...but not before a little visit with Kirsten, Rolf, and Magnus in the street.

…but not before a little visit with Kirsten, Rolf, and Magnus in the street.

Emily along the coast of the Ostfoldfjord.

Emily along the coast of the Ostfoldfjord.

My plan for dinner had been fish tacos, but mid-shopping trip, I decided to have a ‘shrimp party’ instead. I invited our downstairs neighbor, Hayley (the Student Activities Director at the American College of Norway), who actually graduated from Red River High School in between Emily and Ryan. I thought the young gals would have a good time visiting all together, and when you are talking shrimp party, the more the merrier, I think. :-). So, we all chatted away while making smorbrød with a variety of toppings; butter, shrimp, mayonnaise, cucumber, lemon, red pepper, cheese, and sliced hard boiled eggs. As per Norwegian protocol, I served coffee (in small cups with small spoons), gingersnaps (not exactly Norwegian), and a variety of chocolate for dessert.

Our shrimp party. (Hayley is taking the picture)

Our shrimp party. (Hayley is taking the picture)

The girls needed to catch the bus to the airport early this morning, so I was making waffles again for breakfast. At 5:00 am. Unfortunately, I may have started the waffle-maker on a higher temperature than necessary, because the fire alarm started blaring “WHEE-WHEE-WHEE”! At 5:00 am. :-/  Paul opened up all of the windows, I turned on the stove fan on high, we took kitchen towels and were frantically waving them at the fire alarm in the living room. It kept blaring. What a way to wake up the neighborhood. After a couple of minutes, our dear resident manager, Colin, who, thankfully, keeps crazy hours and was still awake, came over and turned off the alarm. AND he contacted the fire department to cancel the alarm–for which we are exceedingly grateful–because, apparently, there would have been a huge fine for them to come to our apartment, for no fire.

Whew. That was the start to our day. Paul got the girls to the bus stop okay, and we look forward to seeing them again next week and hearing of their Greek adventures.

Walking in nature with Emily and Courtney.

Walking in nature with Emily and Courtney.

Gallerie Premier

So, what is the right word for the first showing of someone’s paintings? I couldn’t think of it, so I’m just going to call it a gallery premier. Our friends, Kirsten and Rolf, opened up their home this week and invited some friends for some champagne, dinner, and a showing of Kirsten’s paintings. Like Grandma Moses, who started her painting career late in life, Kirsten has blossomed into a very prolific painter in the past few years. I do not pretend to be any art critic, but I can say that she uses color and texture to create portrayals of nature that are as individual as the people who view them.

Champagne and art--a great combination.

Champagne and art–a great combination.

048

049

Our friends here in Moss have such a keen appreciation for art and paintings. We have been in their homes and every one has several original paintings, usually with an interesting story about the artist. Paul and I hope to take an ‘original Kirsten’ home with us come May, and we, too, will have an interesting story or two to share about the artist.

It was great being able to visit with friends at this 'private showing.'

It was great being able to visit with friends at this ‘private showing.’

Not only was there champagne, but we had a delicious dinner of smoked salmon, eggs,  spinach, potatoes, and French bread. And there was a fabulous mustard sauce for the salmon and eggs which I was told was sold at our local market, but I haven’t been able to find it yet.

Smoked salmon with eggs.

Smoked salmon with eggs.

Art aficionados, all.

Art aficionados, all.

Finally, for dessert, served at the coffee table (of course) we had a traditional Norwegian dish called tilslørtebondepiker, or ‘veiled farmer’s daughter. It consists of a layering of what seems to be crushed graham crackers, apples (or, in this case, pears as well), and whipped cream. We’ve had it several times so far, and we have not grown tired of it. I thought the glass serving dishes with dolphin pedestals were so unique.

"Veiled Farmer's Daughter"

“Veiled Farmer’s Daughter”

Once again this dinner party lasted hours and everyone enjoyed sharing their stories.

View of the Ostfoldfjord from the deck of this 'art gallery'.

View of the Ostfoldfjord from the deck of this ‘art gallery’.

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plain

…or Det Gol og Mol i Solen en Spanjol. [something about a mole in the sunshine in Spain?]

Yep, you guessed it, we went to see the production of My Fair Lady!  I was pretty giddy about the whole thing really–who cares if it was all in Norwegian. I know the plot and lines well enough to quote many of them, and I know the songs well enough to sing along! (Paul had to nudge me several times to quit singing, albeit rather quietly, along with the actors)

040

It was presented by the community group A.P.P.L.A.U.S. and I do not know what those letters stand for, but apparently they have been presenting a popular musical production each spring since 2001.  We bought the tickets two weeks ago for 275 NOK each (about $35) not knowing exactly how professional this group would be.  Oh. My. Word. Were we ever surprised.

It had snowed about 5-7 inches during the day, so we walked to the theater through slush.

It had snowed about 5-7 inches during the day, so we walked to the theater through slush.

Tight fit in the seats.

Tight fit in the seats.

The venue is a renovated old movie theater in the downtown of Moss. It seats about 400-450 which includes balcony seating. There are only two side aisles with about  25 seats across on the main floor. One has to stand up to allow for people to pass by to get to their seats in the middle.

This group has produced a musical each year since 2001.

This group has produced a musical each year since 2001.

The lobby is rather smallish, and they were selling home-made cakes, cinnamon rolls, and the like as well as coffee or bottled drinks beforehand and during intermission.

The actors ranged in age from 15-18 years old.

The actors ranged in age from 15-18 years old.

The actors were all teenagers from Moss, with a couple of them coming in from out of town. Let me just say right now, we were blown away by the skill and professionalism of these kids! From the first dancing scene, we knew that we were in for a great show. They were all good–not just the main characters, not just the front line of the ensemble, but all of them. From the tops of their nodding heads to the tips of their tapping toes, the entire cast gave 110%.

Also, the costumes were touring-production quality, which doesn’t surprise us knowing that the Norwegians are fabulous with creativity and ability to use their hands (i.e. seamstresses). For those of you who may be familiar with the summer drama program, S.P.A., in Grand Forks; this tops that. We were told that they have auditions in the fall and rehearse for the rest of the school year.

Oh, Wouldn't it be Loverly?

Oh, Wouldn’t it be Loverly?

A couple of good friends of ours were sitting in our same row, and we were invited to their home following the show, so we were able to ask a few questions we had. For instance, Eliza’s accent in the British version is a low class Cockney; in this Norwegian version, it is a low class Norske. [which I was not able to distinguish, of course] Another difference was instead of the dropped ‘h’ sound of the Cockney accent, Eliza spoke some words with a ‘sh’ sound instead of the proper ‘s’ sound.

A little after-theater bite to eat at some friends' home.

A little after-theater bite to eat at some friends’ home.

With a Little Bit of Luck

With a Little Bit of Luck

Three performances stood out to me, and they were the expected main parts of Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle, and her father, Alfred P. Doolittle. The casting of these three young people for these specific parts was spot-on. Their brilliant acting, singing, and energy for their parts made me forget that they were born in 1997.

Ascot Opening Day. The costumes were magnificent.

Ascot Opening Day. The costumes were magnificent.

Going to see My Fair Lady!

Going to see My Fair Lady!

It was such an enjoyable evening. Imagine! A classic musical theatrical production here in Moss! It was loverly. 😉

Never Say Never…

…or We Don’t Say Good-Bye; We Just Say, See You Later!

That pretty much is our departure philosophy in a nutshell. Over the decades that Paul and I have been married, going on 31 years this summer,  we, as most people of our age, have had the privilege of knowing and considering our friends, many wonderful people. Along with growing up and growing old comes the not-so-uncommon fact that people move away. Sometimes, these people move so far away that ever seeing them again seems like a very distant and unlikely possibility. However, I refuse to acknowledge that I may never see them again. So, I , and Paul as my partner, just say, when that time of departure comes, “See you later!”

All that to say, this past weekend we had the enjoyable opportunity to visit with a dear friend, Jorunn, who spent four years in Grand Forks from 2000-2004. Then, three years after our last semester in Moss, Paul and I returned to Norway in 2005 for a short visit, and during that time, we also flew from Oslo to Stavanger just to see her for a bit. (That’s when Jorunn, a very fit lady of my age, convinced us to take a ‘little hike’ up to Preikestolen. We did it, but it took us 2.5 hours, one way, of strenuous, over-boulder, hiking to reach the summit! Crazy! Look it up.) So, soon after we arrived here this time, she and I visited over the phone, and she graciously invited Paul and I to come to Sandnes to stay with her and her husband, Odd Olav for a weekend.

I must say, it was very hospitable for Odd Olav (that is his real name, by the way),  who had never met us, to agree to host a couple for three whole nights and days. They had renovated a five-bedroom, two-bath, nearly 70 year old home next to a lovely park in Sandnes, and we felt absolutely pampered the entire time. They prepared a dinner featuring skrei, a delicacy of Norwegian cod which is only available a few short months of the year. We sampled wines and cognacs, the latter of which we had never had before, and we learned a bit from the experience of Odd Olav. We talked late in the evening over coffee and cakes, one of which was a version of a Norwegian wedding cake, the kransekake.

Odd Olav and Jorunn.

Odd Olav and Jorunn.

Dinner of skrei, Norwegian cod available only a few months of the year.

Dinner of skrei, Norwegian cod available only a few months of the year.

Jorunn's kransekake.

Jorunn’s kransekake.

They planned two interesting and educational days of sightseeing for all of us–but not so long as to get tiring. Our first day was actually on our own while Jorunn and Odd Olav worked or ran errands. Paul and I walked along the pedestrian street of Langaten in downtown Sandnes–while the rain gently fell off and on throughout the afternoon. We found the need to stop for refreshment no less than three times–of course, for the purpose of research for this blog. 😉

Walking home from downtown Sandnes.

Walking home from downtown Sandnes.

The next day was a beautiful day with the sun shining through the occasional fluffy clouds. We drove down the coast to Obrestad Fyr, a lighthouse which was built in 1873 and went automatic in 1991. We walked along the beach on the Kongevegen, the King’s Road, which was a way of passage from the time of King Christian IV. One thing that amazed us was the sheer number of stones in fields which had not been cleared. We could not imagine the amount of work it would have taken a farmer to clear land for his crops. After a nice break for coffee and lunch at Hø Gamle Prestegard, an old vicarage which was now an art and cultural center, we stopped to see the Sola Ruinkirke, the old stone church in Sola, where Jorunn and Odd Olav were married four years ago.

Stopping at Obrestad fyr, the lighthouse at Hå.

Stopping at Obrestad fyr, the lighthouse at Hå.

The North Sea and the Obrestad Fyr.

The North Sea and the Obrestad Fyr.

Sola Ruinkirke, from the 12th century,  where Jorunn and Odd Olav were married.

Sola Ruinkirke, from the 12th century, where Jorunn and Odd Olav were married.

It was raining when we left the following day for Utstein Kloster, the Abbey of Utstein, on the island of Mosterøy, a bit north along the North Sea. This abbey is mentioned in historical records dating back to the 9th century. The construction was started in 1260, although some parts may be older. After the Reformation, the Abbey was empty during long periods until the Garmann family moved here in 1750. While we toured the Abbey and the property, the wind howled and blew fiercely from the Sea, and the rain continued to fall, giving us the impression that the monks who lived here did not always have it so easy.

Utstein Kloster, built in 1260.

Utstein Kloster, built in 1260.

 

The weekend ended quickly later that day as we finished our early dinner (‘middag’) of skrei, baked fennel, and potatoes. Jorunn and I had to make one more little trip though….During Paul’s and my walk through Langaten on Friday, I saw a ring in the window of a jewelry store, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. 😉 So, she and I visited the closed store (it was Sunday, after all), I took a photo of the ring, and I gave her instructions to ask about it after work on Monday.  [Paul loves it when I do this.]

"the ring" :-)

“the ring” 🙂

Our flight was to leave Stavanger at 7:30 pm, so our visit with Odd Olav and Jorunn ended at the airport. We hugged, said our tusen takks, and repeated “See you later!” 🙂

The quaint harbor of the town of Tananger, which was Odd Olav's prior place of residence.

The quaint harbor of the town of Tananger, which was Odd Olav’s prior place of residence.

 

 

St. Patrick and Other Missionaries

I don’t think that St. Patrick’s Day is well-known by the old guard in Norway. Well, that was my impression this morning when I waltzed into the church meeting area a little early for their bi-monthly Missions Meeting. I had donned a lime-green satin sash with “I’m a wee bit Irish” written across it along with a forest green scarf around my neck and a handful of green and gold mardi gras beads as a necklace. Nothing too ornate. 😉 I was asked if St. Patrick’s Day was a Christian holiday, and I said, not really, but I could sing an Irish song for them. So, I burst into singing “When Irish Eyes are Smilin'”,  (and those of you who know me, know that I would really do this!) to which they all applauded, even though most of them would not have understood the words.

Ready for St. Patrick's Day.

Ready for St. Patrick’s Day.

I would have also been wearing a green felt leprechaun hat and a green sequined bow tie, but Paul was using them. Seriously, he was. The college had put out the word that there would be free green waffles during lunchtime for anyone who was wearin’ the green today. And in this here high-priced area, when there is free food, one takes advantage of it!

He really did begin his class dressed like this.

He really did begin his class dressed like this.

The average age of the attendees at these bi-monthly Missions Meetings is about 75. I may bring that average down a bit. I have so enjoyed the passion and love of these dear folk for their missionaries and those whom they serve. Each meeting, as far as I can tell (I’ve been at three so far), consists of prayer, announcements, a testimony (I gave mine at the last one–Stig Andreasson did a bang-up job of translating for me), the singing of several songs from the songbook (accompanied today by a guitar and a mandolin), updates from the missionaries we support, a devotional, taking an offering, and having a little treat with coffee (today it was julekake with cheese, bløtkake, and some lemon bars I brought).

Delicious (deilig) bløtkake.

Delicious (deilig) bløtkake.

What has been especially rich about these meetings is that there are real, long-term missionaries in attendance. Today, we had Stig and Åsa Andreasson who were church planters in France, Per and Alice Andresen who are missionaries to Brazil, and Kai and Sonja who are missionaries to Swaziland. It has been a joy to listen to the wisdom of these exceptional sisters and brothers in the Lord.  I may not understand everything, but I can follow along in the Bible as well as with the little Norsk I know.

These folk I consider present-day saints.

Singing was accompanied by a guitar and a mandolin.

Singing was accompanied by a guitar and a mandolin.

As was said today, we had with us missionaries from France, Brazil, Swaziland, Norway, and America. We can all be missionaries.

More than 100 years of missionary experience was around the tables today.

More than 100 years of missionary experience was around the tables today.

 

Kulturally Kidnapped

We received one of those surprise invitations last evening; the kind that suggests a casual get-together. It was an invitation for ‘coffee and waffles’ in the garden at noon. Okie dokie, I thought, this sounds lovely. We could take the bus to their house, maybe walk home or get a ride, with the entire event taking about two hours. [I obviously forgot about the typical Norwegian invitation for coffee I had written about in ‘The Coffee Table’] Oh, no, our friend insisted, the bus is ‘too expensive’, we will pick you up at the bridge near the Moss Falls.

Moss falls at the bridge.

Moss falls at the bridge.

So, this morning, Paul and I head to the falls to catch a ride to our friends’ house. I brought a dozen peanut butter cookies to share. We arrive about 10 minutes early because, as has been our experience, Norwegians seem to arrive early for everything, and I did not want them to have to wait for us. Rolf and Kirsten came together, which I thought was odd because we were just going to their house; usually only one would come to get us.

We get to Jeløy (the little island right next to Moss), and this is where Kirsten surprises us with the news that we are going to take a little trip before coffee. We are going to the opening of a local artist’s new body of work, at the Røed Gård på Jeløy and Galleri Kvinnelist.

Yes, we had been kulturally kidnapped.

This gallery is up a little hill on the property of an old manor home dated MDCCXXIII for those of you who remember their Roman numerals. There were several out-buildings besides the home–the art gallery and cafe, an Italian food shop, an English home decor boutique, a stabbur (storage house), a pond, and a very large, still-in-the-process-of-being-rebuilt activity center.

At the entrance to the Røed Gård på Jeløy manor property.

At the entrance to the Røed Gård på Jeløy manor property.

The large manor home.

The large manor home.

The rennovated stabbur.

The rennovated stabbur.

The little Italian food shop.

The little Italian food shop.

We started around the gallery admiring the artist’s work, plus, we had the pleasure of hearing of the process of monotype from the artist himself–Rolf Thomas Thommessen. He seemed to be a creative, talented artist, and, he shared with us that in naming some of his pieces, drew upon the lyrics of a famous Frenchman, Jacques Prevert. You can visit Mr. Thommessen’s website at http://www.kvinnelist.no. It would have been lovely to have been able to afford to buy one of his pieces, (I didn’t see any prices) but, I would guess that if you had to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

Admiring the art.

Admiring the art.

The potato cellar, where, literally, the potatoes that Rolf remembers digging 70 years ago, would have been stored.

The potato cellar, where, literally, the potatoes that Rolf remembers digging 70 years ago, would have been stored.

009

The driveway back to the main road.

The driveway back to the main road.

Following our gallery visit, we had coffee and waffles at Rolf and Kirsten’s home. There is just something delicious about the mix of flavors between the sweet sour cream-type substance that is Seter-Rømme and any type of fresh berry jam when they are placed together on a fresh waffle. A small bowl of chocolate also seems to be a regular presence on the table of a Norwegian ‘coffee’. Adding to our pleasant visit was the arrival of Grete and her sister, Lilian, who had spent significant time in America. Again, the conversation streamed somewhat fluidly between Norwegian and English, with the occasional appearance of the very-specific dialect of Haling, from Halingdal, the valley where the two sisters were raised.

Coffee in the garden.

Coffee in the garden.

The view from the veranda.

The view from the veranda.

Paul and I returned home about four hours after we had left this morning–having gained more knowledge of art, language, and culture. And we were glad to have said ‘yes, to the simple invitation for ‘coffee and waffles’.

The mix of seter-rømme and jam on this waffle is delicious.

The mix of seter-rømme and jam on this waffle is delicious.

 

 

50/50

That’s what some say should be the per-person percentage of the division of labor of a couple in their home. Or, some say, it should be 100/100. Both giving, or being willing to give 100% into the managing of the home. However it works for you in that you both are satisfied sounds good to me.

Before we started this little adventure of ours, Paul and I knew that a) he would be working for a paycheck.  A lot. and b) I would not be working for a paycheck.  At all. Yep, sounded pretty even to me. Of course, I was totally willing to take on the management of the home seeing as though I would most definitely have more time to do so. Of course, I was unaware of the amount of time that could be eaten up with, say, sleeping-in, blogging, checking Facebook important emails, and, oh, you get the picture.

So, here we are having just completed our 9th week living in Norway.  We were laughing the other night about how this division of labor has evolved, in a relatively unspoken way, to where we each now know what the other is in charge of. (sorry for the preposition-ending sentence.)–of what the other is in charge. 🙂 How this realization came to light was when Paul asked me if I had set the alarm. Because that was my job.

[Back-story: only two times each week do we actually need to wake up early; on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Paul has an early class. Every other day we just wake up when we wake up. Even on Sundays, we don’t have to leave the house to walk to church until 10:30 am. It is  apparently my job to set the phone alarm on those two days. And I accept that responsibility willingly.]

I will now break down the division of labor in our little Norwegian home.

Paul: makes the money (this one is a biggie), dry mops and vacuums the floors/rugs, pays all bills (usually online), provides translation help when necessary, helps clear the dinner table, cleans bathroom half the time, blogs/corresponds occasionally.

Debbie: does the grocery shopping, cooks the meals, bakes necessary desserts, washes the dishes, does laundry, cleans occasionally, plans travel arrangements, schedules social engagements, plans/prepares for hospitality, does most of the blogging/correspondence, tries to be involved in the community, sets the phone alarm twice a week.

I’m sure I have missed quite a bit, but this may give you a little idea into our ‘unspoken’ division of labor. I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the stick.

Paul making the money.

Paul making the money.

The majority of his work begins when he leaves the classroom.

The majority of his work begins when he leaves the classroom.

Our first meal at home here. Green salad with salmon.

Our first meal at home here. Green salad with salmon.

Shopping when the weather was not so good.

Shopping when the weather was not so good.

Baking in Norway.

Baking in Norway.

Chocolate cake to bring to a dinner party.

Chocolate cake to bring to a dinner party.

Visiting the elderly at the Ryggeheimen.

Visiting the elderly at the Ryggeheimen.

Coffee with a new mom from church.

Coffee with a new mom from church.

Hosting a dinner at home.

Hosting a dinner at home.

Hanging up the one load of laundry.

Hanging up the one load of laundry.

Paul's office, where he spends a good portion of his day.

Paul’s office, where he spends a good portion of his day.

Blogging takes time.

Blogging takes time.

 

 

“A little trip”

My friend, Ragnhild, called me last night and suggested that she and I take ‘a little trip’ on Alby today. My experience has been that when one of my Norwegian friends suggest taking ‘a little trip’, they are talking about a hike in nature, varying between maybe one-three hours in length. The forecast for today was sunny and warm, about 50 degrees F., so this idea seemed like a good possibility. Alby, I think, consists of the area on the island of Jeløy (connected to Moss by a bridge) which includes some woods, farmland, old homesteads, and coastline. It also boasts a lovely little cafe, art museum, glass-blowing house, nature-house, and probably more stuff I don’t know about. I told her I would wear my ‘walking shoes’. I also preemptively took one of Paul’s Aleve tablets.

We arrived at her house on Jeløy and waited a few minutes for Astrid and Anya to arrive. They had their winter coats, ear warmers, and gloves, and I had my fleece jacket and scarf. 🙂 I get hot easily. We started out, with the intent of stopping for ‘a little coffee’, so I brought some money and some of my gingersnaps to share. The air was slightly crisp, there was a light wind, and the sun was shining. It was a good day for a walk.

We passed through her neighborhood, into the woods, past some farm fields with a lovely moss-covered stone wall, with the fjord coastline on our left, and finally arrived at the museum/cafe on the hill. It took maybe 30-45 minutes to walk there.

Along a farm field.

Along a farm field.

Part of the property of the museum/cafe, I think.

Part of the property of the museum/cafe, I think.

The view from our little table.

The view from our little table.

We staked out a table in front of the large, imposing facade of the Galleri F15 cafe/museum with the view of the lawn and the fjord in front of us. They each ordered a light lunch item from the menu, but I had eaten a late breakfast at 10 am, so I just ordered a coffee. How delighted I was to find out that the coffee was self-serve, i.e. I could have more than one cup!

Sure looked good!

Sure looked good!

The four of us heading back.

The four of us heading back.

We continued our walk after a lengthy lunch break and short visit at the glass-blower’s studio. (where I was given a stern look after I took a picture, not having seen the tiny sign on the counter saying no pictures-oops!)

My illegal photograph.

My illegal photograph.

The way back to the original path was rather circuitous, taking us along the coast and past a shepherd with his sheep.  Our conversation was both lively and personal, sometimes being between all four of us in Norwegian (I didn’t speak much then) or English or sometimes being two conversations between sets of two.  This entire ‘trip’, by the time we returned home, took a total of 4 hours.

Great place for a future weinie-roast, yes?

Great place for a future weinie-roast, yes?

Shepherd with his pregnant sheep.

Shepherd with his pregnant sheep.

"You Are Here"

“You Are Here”

I must say, this kind of walking beats a trip to the market any day of the week. 😉

The post-dinner party blues…

…or, Our Experience with Socialized Medicine in Norway.

We hosted a nice supper party last evening having some friends over for a fun, American-style meal. I made Cajun Jambalaya with shrimp, chicken, and sausage, California-mix steamed veggies, cornbread with honey butter, tortilla chips with guacamole, and for dessert, apple pie a la mode, gingersnaps, and assorted Belgian chocolates. Sounds tasty, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food and the company. They all stayed for 4.5 hours, leaving at about 10:30 pm.

Ready for company. :-)

Ready for company. 🙂

Just visiting around the coffee table. (I had been sitting on the chair)

Just visiting around the coffee table. (I had been sitting on the chair)

Well, not going into too much detail, as it is not my story to tell, around midnight, Paul began to feel poorly. Severely poorly. We went online to diagnose the problem, as all educated, 21st century people do, and I suggested what the problem was. I then contacted a friend (medical professional) of mine, via Facebook, who had worked in the ER for decades, and she, too, suggested what the problem may have been, agreeing with my thoughts. Finally, we skyped with Son #2, who is in his second year of medical school, and, after his distance-consultation/examination, submitted his diagnosis, which, also, concurred with what was previously suggested. Only, then, did Paul seriously consider that we could all be right, and agreed to call an ambulance. Not that this was an emergency, per se, but we had no car, and I was not going to call a friend for a ride at 4:15 in the morning.

This 'legevakt' was staffed 24/7.

Examination Room. This ‘legevakt’ was staffed 24/7.

Lab-draw room alongside the waiting area.

Lab-draw room alongside the waiting area.

The view from our chairs in the waiting area. Not many customers at 5 am.

The view from our chairs in the waiting area. Not many customers at 5 am. That machine was how we paid for our care.

The local hospital apparently does not have what it considers an Emergency Room, but it does staff a 24/7 unit with nurses and at least one doctor. It was quiet there at this time of the night, and Paul was seen by the doctor and treated by 5:35 am. We waited about 45 minutes more, at their request, to see if the pain meds had given adequate relief. They called the taxi to give us a ride home and a taxi voucher to help offset the cost. We had to pay for all of this at a machine in the waiting area; the total for the ambulance, examination, a couple of lab tests, medicine, take-home meds, the voucher for the taxi was 797 NOK, or approximately $105. We were home by 6:55 am.

We are thankful for the availability of quality health care here in Norway. I was thankful for healthcare professionals who spoke our language, which is certainly not the case for many patients from countries whose language is less-universal.

Paul is feeling better and plans on following up with his healthcare provider when he returns to the States.

These beautiful roses were a hostess gift from one of our guests.

These beautiful roses were a hostess gift from one of our guests.

Caviar and Popcorn

I have now eaten caviar. Maybe I didn’t eat enough to make a thorough judgement on its taste, but along with the other tastes and textures on the bite of Swedish sandwich cake that I ate, it was pretty good.

My friend, Pam, already knew what a Swedish sandwich cake was; heck, she had already pinned a recipe for it on Pinterest! But I’ve got to tell you that when I first saw this piece of art being removed from the fridge, I thought, “Oh, my, this is going to be way better than the soup and bread I serve my guests for lunch.” Then, the host pulled out another one.

Shrimp, egg, and caviar Swedish sandwich cake.

Shrimp, egg, and caviar Swedish sandwich cake.

The second, equally-tasty one.

The second, equally-tasty one.

I had been invited for lunch at a friend’s house today. There were seven ladies in attendance; all of whom I knew.  For my hostess gift, I brought a stack of the nicest gingersnaps from the batch I had made last night,

Gingersnaps.

Gingersnaps.

all wrapped up in a plastic bag and tied with a bow from Belgium. From the start, I said that they could all speak Norwegian today as I was ‘sure I could follow along’ with the conversation. I did, for the most part.  At least I laughed at the right times. 🙂

013

We all sat around her dining table and drank tea and ate Swedish sandwich cake and talked. Everyone had two pieces. I could have had a third easily, but I thought I had better not since I just finished telling them about my astounding recent weight loss of nearly nine kilos. You read correctly; that would be ‘ni kilos’ in Norsk. 😀 So, I had another cup of tea instead.

After the sandwich cake, the host brought out a bowl of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, and a small bowl of whipped cream. Oh, and a bowl of cut-up bars (thought I was back in North Dakota–imagine, BARS!–or, if you say it with a North Dakotan accent, ‘barz’.) The bars were a three-layer dessert with the base being a very Norwegian crust of crushed almonds, butter, and sugar, the second layer was a truffle, and the third layer was milk chocolate.  Of course, I ate one. We all had coffee too. In small cups. 😉

Coffee in small cup.

Coffee in small cup.

So, nearly two and half hours after we all arrived, we began to leave. Everyone said their thanks and greetings to the families of the others and left. Such a delightful time. “Så deilig.” And not once did the host appear stressed.

Now for the popcorn story. It’s not exactly about popcorn, per se, but more about our experiences in going to the movies, Moss-style. We have attended three movies since our arrival eight weeks ago. That is somewhat behind our usual 3x/month attendance at movies in Grand Forks. This is mainly due to the high cost of going to movies here–it is about $15 per ticket to go, plus our usual (but not tonight) popcorn and Coke which, here, runs about another $13. That total reminds me of the cost of a movie date night for Paul and I when we actually had to also pay for the babysitter!

$43 for movie, popcorn, and Coke.

$43 for movie, popcorn, and Coke.

Anyhoo, tonight we went to the movies, and as we were paying for our tickets, the gal asks us, ‘where would you like to sit?’. I’m thinking, “sheesh, every time we go, there are so few people there, we can choose practically anywhere in the whole theater to sit”, but whatever. We tell her, just put us where YOU would like to sit.

We sit in the 6th row around the middle of 19 seats. There are a total of two other people in the theater. This particular ‘salon’ fits 233 people. As more people slowly come in to sit down, I notice that they are ALL sitting in our general area; in the two rows in front of us, our row, and in the row behind us. Paul counted about a total of 32 people. Okay, so maybe it’s just me, but I thought it humorous that 32 people needed to have reserved seats for this movie in a salon that holds 233 people. And couldn’t the gal who chooses all our seats have put maybe a two-seat buffer between all the parties of people? Just a thought.