And so it begins…

…or should I say, and so it ends? Wow, has this semester flown by for us. Today marked the first time I was at something or may have spent time with someone for the last time.

I attended the Missions Meeting at church this morning, and told them that this would be the last meeting I would be attending because the next one, in two weeks, will be when I will be traveling in Bergen. I actually said, in my stunted attempt at Norwegian (Norglish? Englorsk?) that the next time we may meet will be in Heaven! And, even earlier in the conversation, I had brought up the thought that when we are in Heaven, we will all be able to understand one another! (Sheesh, don’t you all want me at your next party? I am such a cheery person!)

It was funny, though, when I said that about understanding one another in Heaven, that started a long discussion about what languages we will be speaking, the banquet supper we will all be at, and more, but I got lost in the discussion, and don’t know where it all ended. But everyone was very enthusiastically discussing it!

The dear folk who were present today at the Missions Meeting.

The dear folk who were present today at the Missions Meeting.

Anyway, back to this being the beginning of the end. This coming Friday is the 1st of May. May! The last month of our whole entire semester in Norway. Four weeks left. I think we need to start, as the old saying goes, making hay while the sun shines!

But shouldn’t we all have that attitude sometimes? Shouldn’t we all make the most of every day? Every week? Every month? I have said it many times, we are not guaranteed any amount of time on this earth. The flowers for my funeral could already have been delivered to the florist (as a dear retired pastor friend used to say). Perhaps we should all live like we could die tomorrow and plan like we could live for years. (not sure if that’s how the saying goes though)

Enough of this serious talk. Paul and I have another four weeks to continue to enjoy this grand opportunity that we have been given! I am so glad that you have been sharing it with us by your reading, your comments, your emails! Thank you!

Our home on Verket 7A.

Our home on Verket 7A.

The flowers are blooming in these parts!

The flowers are blooming in these parts!

A repeat pic which always reminds me of Norwegian hospitality.

A repeat pic which always reminds me of Norwegian hospitality.

Our Day in Oslo

[if you are a regular reader of our blog, you may notice that this title is far from edgy or scandalous. So, compared to Paul’s last feeble attempt at his blog getting more views than mine, this should not even come close. Hmmm, we’ll just see.]

We realized this week that we had been in Norway for three and a half months and had not yet spent any time in Olso. Definitely something that needed action. So, we planned to spend Friday in the city. No definite plans or agenda, but we were excited nonetheless to see some new sights.

Our first stop was the new Opera House right next to the train station along the bay. This modern facility and its surroundings, perhaps, could become the new face of Oslo. It eases out from the water of the bay like a large ice floe with a roof that welcomes visitors to explore and see the city from its white limestone terrace. Friends of ours have attended a ballet or opera here, but we haven’t yet. Although La Traviata is coming soon.

Approaching the ramp to the roof of the Opera House.

Approaching the ramp to the roof of the Opera House.

Spacious and beautiful is this building.

Spacious and beautiful is this building.

We started walking up the main street, Karl Johan’s Gate, towards the Palace, stopping here and there to shop a bit. Paul wanted to buy a) a fountain soda–which we found in the first Burger King we came to, and b) a ‘light reading’ book–which he found in the Norli bookstore in one of the several large indoor malls we passed. He chose Mark Twain’s “A Tramp Abroad”. I really did not have any specific item I wished to buy, basically because I have already purchased pretty much anything I really wanted before this point. 😉 This boulevard, Karl Johan’s Gate, is the definitive street of Oslo. I hear and have seen photos of it being filled with thousands of patriotic revelers on the national holiday of May 17th, or Syttende Mai. Today, though, it was just mildly busy with the typical tourist, mother with her baby,  or business person.

The main street in Oslo, Karl Johan's Gate, as it heads up to the Royal Palace.

The main street in Oslo, Karl Johan’s Gate, as it heads up to the Royal Palace.

This was my idea. Paul semi-reluctantly obliged.

This was my idea. Paul semi-reluctantly obliged.

We had really wanted to visit the newly-renovated Fram Museum on the island of Bygdøy so we took the ferry from the waterfront by the City Hall for the 15 minute ride over to the museum. I would say that this museum is a must-see for anyone with a spark of interest of history or adventure. The Fram was the idea and dream of Norway’s own Fridtjof Nansen, a brilliant man whose desire it was to purposely get a ship stuck in the polar ice, and, as the ice flowed along the currents of the Arctic Ocean, he would be the first to reach the North Pole. Or something like that. Paul could explain it 10X better and more accurately that I, but he is not writing this particular blog post; I am. Anyway, there is another ship featured in this same museum, the GJØA, a smaller and more easily maneuvered ship, which Roald Amundson first sailed to become the first ship to successfully travel the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  All of this happened in the latter years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. What I found amazing was the bravery, skill, and perseverance of these men who spent years aboard these ships or in tents in the frigid arctic cold. The Fram, by the way, was not only the first ship to reach as close as possible to the North Pole, but it also was the first ship to reach the South Pole. Truly an unbelievable and fascinating story.

Oslo's City Hall from the ferry.

Oslo’s City Hall from the ferry.

The GØYA which first traveled the Northwest Passage with Fridtjof Nansen.

The GØYA which first traveled the Northwest Passage with Roald Amundson.

An explanation of the Fram.

An explanation of the Fram.

We were allowed to freely roam all through the Fram.

We were allowed to freely roam all through the Fram.

A model of how the Fram traveled in the ice.

A model of how the Fram traveled in the ice.

The legendary Fram.

The legendary Fram.

We spent the greater part of the afternoon touring this museum, so following that, it was time for a coffee. Alas, there were no Starbucks to be found, but we did see a Wayne’s Coffee, which used, not coincidentally, the exact same font as Starbucks in its signage. Not only was it a great time for a coffee break, but it was raining, so that was another reason to stop.

Now, we had not originally planned to eat dinner in Oslo because we thought it would be too expensive. But, having stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe along Karl Johan’s Gate earlier in the day to buy a pin for Paul’s extravagant meaningful pin collection, and checking out the menu, we thought better of the idea, and decided to make a ‘psycho-kinetic connection’ to the place and eat dinner there. We ordered just one of their classic burgers and a grilled chicken burger (then we split them and each had half), and I have just got to say, that burger was the best burger I have eaten in a very long time. Could be that I have not eaten an American style burger in quite awhile, but for whatever reason, oh, my, was it ever good! Who knew that Hard Rock Cafe fare would garner such acclaim?

My recommendation for a good American burger in Oslo.

My recommendation for a good American burger in Oslo.

Until next time, Oslo, here’s to you!

In Norway, when you want chocolate, say Freia.

In Norway, when you want chocolate, say Freia.

Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Rock ‘n Roll, Puppies, and Vaccinations.

Debbie has been keenly interested in the number of visits our various blog pieces have generated.  It is her hypothesis that the more exciting sounding blog titles generate more visits.  Being an academic, I am always looking for a good hypothesis to test, thus the racy title.  This blog really has nothing to do with sex, drugs, alcohol, rock ‘n roll, puppies, or vaccinations.  If you visited this site just to read about such topics, I must apologize, while still thanking you for participating in this study.  We have also had a very minor competition between the two of us to see whose blog can generate the most visits, and this title is my final and best effort to win.

This blog really should be called: Random Musings by Paul (Part 2).

Norwegians drive fewer and more fuel efficient cars than Americans.  This may have something to do with the 13 Kr / liter ($7 / gallon) gas.  I asked my American and Norwegian students in one class about how many cars were at their parents’ homes.  All of the American students said 3-4 cars per home, while all of the Norwegian students said 1-2 cars per home.  Hmmm.

Shopping malls are more common now in Norway, and, as a result, you see more empty retail spaces available for rent along the sentrum (downtown).  Main Street, Norway is beginning to look like Main Street, USA.  Norwegian culture appears to be more consumption oriented than in 2002.  What a shame.

The main pedestrian street downtown, Gå Gate.

The main pedestrian street downtown, Gå Gate.

The next generation of Americans may be the first generation to not live as well as their parent’s generation.  A similar thing may happen here in Norway.  Younger Norwegians will live their entire lives at a very high standard of living, with secure jobs, a good healthcare system, and a strong retirement plan.  The cost of housing, however, is SO HIGH that I do not think younger Norwegians will ever be able to own their own hytte, foreign cottage, or travel as much as did their parent’s generation.  We recently heard of a young couple that bought a one-bedroom apartment of 45 m^2 (500+ ft^2) for 2.8 million Kr ($375K).  Yowzers!

We try to go out for lunch about once a week in a local eatery.  They are pretty pricy, so lunch is a more affordable option.  The food is always very tasty, with fresh ingredients, and different dishes than we can get in the States.  It is also not quite as expensive as we first thought when you consider that the menu price includes taxes, and tipping is only about 5% or so (Norwegian waiters make a good salary, so tipping is just a way of saying thank you).  One thing you immediately notice, however, is the presentation of food.  The sit-down restaurants that we have been to have had as nice a dinner plate presentation as the finest restaurant have had in Grand Forks.  We take a photograph of each plate to remember them.

Paul's dish from last week; Karbanera at Café Husmann.

Paul’s dish from last week; Karbanera at Café Husmann.

One thing I really like about Moss is that the climate changes very gradually and steadily.  This creates a variety of distinct seasonal changes: (1) cold, short days in January with snow; (2) slightly warmed and longer days in February with snow and occasional rain; (3) generally snow-free days of twelve hours duration in March; (4) snow-free warming days in April, with twilight at 9:00 pm.  I would love to be here in July.

Early January sunset off of the Mossfossen Bridge at about 3:30 pm.

Early January sunset off of the Mossfossen Bridge at about 3:30 pm.

Taken at the same spot yesterday, April 22, at 9:00 pm.

Taken at the same spot yesterday, April 22, at 9:00 pm.

While walking through the downtown last week we were struck by a garden shop with a huge display of flowers and greenery that could not be moved indoors for security after closing hours.  In the U.S., this is an invitation for free flowers and greenery.  Apparently Norwegians are more honest or else their thieves do not like to garden.

This was the garden center Paul referred to; Pongo's Blomstersenter.

This was the garden shop Paul referred to; Pongo’s Blomstersenter.

28 Km

That’s what I estimate was the total of my bike trip yesterday. Okay, so it’s not the Tour de France, but it’s something. It’s an attempt at living the Norwegian ‘friluftsliv’ [again, the ‘free air life’]. And I was not lame this morning from my exertion yesterday, so maybe that says something too. 🙂

Yesterday was not a necessary market day, so I could throw caution to the wind and head south to take a few pictures of the Rygge Kirke–the 12th century church in the community of Rygge, about 12 km from Moss. Getting from our apartment on Verket to the somewhat flat terrain of the road to Rygge took a little effort on my part. There were several areas in which I found it necessary to walk my bike up the hill. It probably took me about an hour and 20 minutes to make it to the Rygge Kirke, stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

Love the farms and the red barns.

Love the farms and the red barns.

These seagulls kept following this tractor as it tilled the ground back and forth.

These seagulls kept following this tractor as it tilled the ground back and forth.

This Rygge church was built around the 12th century, and, according to the display along the road next to it, it may have been a rather wealthy church in its time. The oldest grave markers I came across were placed there in the 1830s, not terribly old for this country. But I didn’t search carefully. Also, this church had been whitewashed up until several years ago when they decided to clean off the paint and give it a more original look. It will be at this church that Paul and I attend morning services with friends on Syttende Mai next month.

A brief description.

A brief description.

I do not know what this statue represents, farming, perhaps?

I do not know what this statue represents, farming, perhaps?

Rygge Kirke and my trusty set of wheels.

Rygge Kirke and my trusty set of wheels.

I'm told that if a grave is not attended to, it is dug up to make room for more. (unless it is historically significant)

I’m told that if a grave is not attended to, it is dug up to make room for more. (unless it is historically significant)

After I toured around the church grounds, I headed off for the house of my friend, Gerd. It was she who I visited early in our stay here, and I wanted to pay her another visit. I had not called first, an oversight on my part, but I was fortunate that she had just returned home. She invited me in for a welcome glass of water and some ‘julekake med syltetøy’ [Christmas cake with jam], and we caught up on one anothers’ life for a little while. I can’t stress it enough as to how welcoming and gracious this fine lady is. I am fortunate to know her.

Gerd and I with her roses, but she said that we were the roses. :-)

Gerd and I with her roses, but she said that we were the roses. 🙂

I wanted to see just how long it would take me to ride straight home, so I didn’t stop on the way. Interestingly, I did not have to stop to walk my bike at all on the way home. I did need to put the bike into first gear several times and struggle a bit, but I made it back in 50 minutes.

It was a good afternoon’s journey. 🙂

The Vikings

Viking means Viking in Norwegian. That’s what I learned yesterday. I thought it was pretty significant, so I am passing it on to you. Also yesterday, Paul and I had the opportunity to see some viking burial mounds up close as well as a real viking stone circle.

Krista, the American College of Norway Executive Director, picked us up in her car, and we drove to Carlsberg Gård, an old manor home with several large and renovated out-buildings on the expansive property. There was a 1.2 km nature walk, a pile of hay into which children could jump from encircled hay bales, a little cafe with outdoor tables, a couple of art galleries, and several little shops with various items for sale. There were 8 of us from the ACN altogether; Krista, Becky (the Int’l Student Advisor for ACN) with her two children, Hayley (Student Activities Director), Colin (the Resident Hall Manager), and Paul and I. We didn’t spend all afternoon there at the gård, but enough time was allowed for each of us to peruse the exhibits and sit altogether around an outside table and visit over coffee and waffles. It was one of those spring days that just calls out for you to enjoy some time outside. The ‘friluftliv’ (free air life) that Paul mentioned in a previous post, I believe.

Part of the largest out building on the property.

Part of the largest out building on the property.

This kept the children occupied for a long time.

This kept the children occupied for a long time.

The largest out building.

The largest out building.

Most of our group...

Most of our group…

Yes, farming is in my blood.

Yes, farming is in my blood.

So, then we drove to two relatively nearby sites where there were permanent historical markers describing the very old viking burial sites. The first was alongside a farmer’s field, in a small forest, and it consisted of 15 very large, non-indigenous stones set in a circle with one equally large stone set in the middle. Legend is that it may have been a ceremonial place from centuries ago. Other stone circles in Norway have been discovered, and there have always been an odd number of stones, between approximately 7-15 in number, with a stone in the middle. At this time during the season, the floor of this large forest was covered with small wild flowers.

The historical marker describing this site.

The historical marker describing this site.

The stones were of differing sizes.

The stones were of differing sizes.

Most were covered in moss.

Most were covered in moss.

The stone circle's diameter was about 30 meters.

The stone circle’s diameter was about 30 meters.

The next place we stopped at was, again, in a small forest alongside a farmer’s field. This one was on a hill, of a sort, with several additional smaller hills surrounding it. The centerpiece was a sizable stone obelisk which, at one time, probably had some rune markings on it, but they had worn away. This was standing in the center of a large mound, an old viking burial mound, on a hill. The contents of the grave had been viewed through the soil using modern technology, and there had been, perhaps, a horse, and other possessions originally buried there. No valuables were seen so it is thought that the grave had been ransacked in a much earlier time.

A marker showing the way to an historical site.

A marker showing the way to an historical site.

The permanent information marker for this site.

The permanent information marker for this site.

This obelisk stood approximately 7-9 feet high. This is the entrance side to the grave.

This obelisk stood approximately 7-9 feet high. This is the entrance side to the grave.

This site is within sight of the Østfoldfjord.

This site is within sight of the Østfoldfjord.

I really enjoyed seeing these historically significant sites within a few miles of where we are presently living. After leaving here, we went to a fabulous instrumental and vocal concert which I will talk about in a later post. 🙂

“To Market, to market…”

…but I ain’t buying any fat pig, that’s for sure! Several people of late have commented on my pictures of food or my blogging about food or my eating so much food.  As I was heading to the market, again, today, I thought I’d take a few pictures of what I think are the differences in my market here compared to my market in Grand Forks. If you have forgotten, I seem to head to the market about 3-4 times each week. Also, if you have forgotten, because I sure haven’t, I have to walk. Both ways. Oh, the trials I must face! :-/  I should be happy about that because it may be the main reason I have lost approximately eleven kilos since our arrival a little over 3 months ago.

The flowers are front and center when you enter the store. Norwegians usually give flowers as hostess gifts.

The flowers are front and center when you enter the store. Norwegians usually give flowers as hostess gifts.

A few samples in the fruit section.

A few samples in the fruit section.

Fresh shrimp in abundance. There are also just as many frozen ones.

Fresh shrimp in abundance. There are also just as many frozen ones.

They have about four times this many open loaves of bread from which to choose. They are open so the buyer can have them sliced in the automatic bread slicer.

They have about four times this many open loaves of bread from which to choose. They are open so the buyer can have them sliced in the automatic bread slicer.

Paul needed more peanut butter. They have two types, I think. Right next to the many types of jam.

Paul needed more peanut butter. They have two types, I think. Right next to the many types of jam.

More shrimp. These are already shelled.

More shrimp. These are already shelled.

This entire cooler is designated for all types of brown cheese.

This entire cooler is designated for all types of brown cheese.

Large section of an aisle for the candles and napkins.

Large section of an aisle for the candles and napkins.

I could have also taken a picture of the large number of open candy containers, but I thought someone would think I was a spy taking all these pictures, so I quit with the camera.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough about food, I’ll add a photo of the apple pie I made for dessert last night with company and the coffee table for the coffee this morning with a couple of gals from church.

Yep, all we seem to do here is eat, eat, eat. So, of course, I seem to always have to go “to market, to market…” 😉

Coffee table ready for guests.

Coffee table ready for guests.

Friends for a little soup and apple pie!

Friends for a little soup and apple pie!

All-American Apple Pie.

All-American Apple Pie.

The Price of Beauty

….or Learn How to Say No Thank You in Whatever Country You Happen to Live.

It had been about three and a half months since my last ‘beauty treatment’, shall we say, and my eyebrows were lookin’ a bit mangy.

See?

See?

So, I asked my friend, Ragnhild, who works at the local senior citizens home if she could make an appointment for me to see the lady who runs their ‘Spa Room’ for a little touch up. I had no clue as to the cost for such a treatment, but I was prepared to pay about 100 NOK (about $13) for it, not counting the 40 NOK for the bus to get there. When Ragnhild had showed me this spa earlier this year, she had said that the lady uses a thread to do the eyebrows. A thread! I was definitely intrigued, and I looked up this process on YouTube. You can also view this little tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWkrVzhuqrE

I show up this morning for my appointment, which was not exactly an appointment, but more like a suggestion, and wait for my turn. This charming lady, who is from Iran, was personable and lovely. Her name is Mari, and she speaks a little bit of English, but mostly Norwegian.  I lie back in the comfy chair with equally comfy footrests, and I do feel like this will be a spa treatment. She proceeds to pluck my (numerous) stray hairs, in the traditional way with tweezers, and I ask about the thread way. “Oh, you want this way?”, she asks, “Okay.” Eventually, she begins the threading process. (I guess because it was like a jungle or something, and threading only works when it hasn’t been three and a half months since your last trim.)

So, how was it, you ask? Not bad. She shows me a mirror for my approval, and I think, yep, looks pretty good.

Then, she points to my upper lip and says “Here too?”. Well, what was I supposed to say? When a professional beauty consultant suggests a change in your appearance, you oblige, right? I nod my head approvingly, and she starts the threading process there. Oh. My. Word. That was so painful! My eyes began to tear up, and I was laughing at the absurdity of it all at the same time! We had to stop, mid-process, several times just for me to gain some composure!

Finally, this was over. I asked her how much I owed her, and she says “200 kroner”. [“What?, I am thinking all I have in my wallet is 215 kroner, and that will not leave enough for the return bus ticket!] I ask her about the price list on the front door of the Spa, where it lists an eyebrow treatment for 100 kroner, and she politely says that the eyebrows are 100, but the rest would have been 250. But “200 is fine”. :-/ Smiling, I give her my last 200 kroner bill, and I hug and thank her as I leave.

Hurrying out the door of the senior citizens home, I knew I had missed the last bus I could have taken using my transfer which is only good for an hour and a half after they give it to you. So, I waited until the next bus came, hoping that the driver would show grace and allow me to ride. I even practiced saying in Norwegian “I only have 15 kroner”, in case he said no and ordered me off the bus. I was not looking forward to having to walk the several miles back home in the cold and mist. Well, I handed the driver my transfer (knowing it was now 8 minutes past the expired time), and he looked at it and motioned for me to come ahead and sit. 😀

240 NOK was the total price of getting a little eyebrow trim (etc). About $32. They do look nice though.

What a cheesy picture.

What a cheesy picture.

Paul wore a coat and tie to our last dinner party. He looked so nice!

Paul wore a coat and tie to our last dinner party. He looked so nice!

Random Musings by Paul (Part 1)

I couldn’t think of any grand themes for this blog, so I decided to write an assortment of observations, musings, and unconnected thoughts related to life in Norway, and some changes I have noted since we lived here in 2002.

Norwegians are getting heavier (a bit anyway). In 2002, we saw very few heavy Norwegians and only very rarely saw an extremely large Norwegian.  They simply walked too much and ate too well to approach Americanesque sizes.  This has changed especially in the younger generation.  Maybe it is because of too much pizza, too many McDonald’s restaurants, and not enough walking?  I wonder how that will impact the Norwegian health care system when weight-related health problems become more common.

Many, and maybe most, of our friends have original artwork on the walls of their homes.  We immediately noticed this when we entered their homes.  Not surprisingly, there are more art galleries in Moss (pop. 28K) than in Grand Forks (pop. 60K).  Debbie and I bought our first piece of original art in Røros.

The artist and her painting.

The artist and her painting.

Norwegian culture has a concept called ‘friluftsliv.’ This literally means ‘free air life’, or more correctly ‘outdoor life.’  It is a love of being outdoors and living an active life.  You see Norwegians walking everywhere.  Debbie and I were very proud that we walked from Alby on the island of Jeløy to our apartment in Moss (approx. 3.5 miles) when Emily and her friend Courtney were visiting.  We felt ‘veldig norsk’ (very Norwegian).

Along the coast on our walk.

Along the coast on our walk.

I believe that people who attend church here are a bit more ecumenical than in the States.  Our menigheten (congregation) here has had a joint meeting with a State church, had the local Methodist pastor preach in church, and allowed a woman missionary (from Ireland to Norway with Child Evangelism Fellowship) to preach from the pulpit.  I believe they feel as though the differences between the beliefs of different congregations are much, much smaller than the differences between the beliefs of believers (of any orthodox congregation) and non-believers.

Irish CEF missionary to Norway.

Irish CEF missionary to Norway.

The size and quality of primary residences of Norwegians do not vary nearly as much as do primary residences in the United States.  Americans tend to buy newer, bigger, and nicer homes in the same city over time.  Norwegians are more likely to live in the same home in the same city over time.  Instead of buying a larger home, they are more likely to buy a hytte (cottage) as a vacation home, or perhaps a cottage in another country (Spain, Greece, south France), or to simply travel more often.

I do not believe there are nearly as many advokater (lawyers) in Norway as in America.  In America, the attitude seems to be that it is the landowner’s responsibility to make sure accidents do not happen on their property.  In Norway, the attitude seems to be that it is the person’s responsibility to be careful and not do anything stupid.  Imagine that!  I include photos of three such ‘Norwegian deathtraps’ that would not be allowed in the U.S.

Danger #1: two-inch step without warning just waiting to turn an ankle.

Danger #1: two-inch step without warning just waiting to turn an ankle.

Danger #2: Ramp without protective railing.

Danger #2: Ramp without protective railing.

Danger #3: "Locks Open Without Warning" (i.e, Don't Play Here!)

Danger #3: “Locks Open Without Warning” (i.e, Don’t Play Here!)

Two Degrees of Separation and Other Thoughts

So, we were all sitting there in one large circle around the tables after Bible Study last night, and no one was saying anything. Which is my cue to break the silence with a funny or interesting story. Not everyone there spoke English, so I attempted to share this story using my Norglish (or Englorsk, whichever you like). I shared that Paul and I had attended the Good Friday service at the old church in Røros last week, and the woman who was the priest at this service had the most beautiful voice and dialect I had ever heard. Her Norwegian just sounded like a lovely melody when she spoke! No sooner than those words had left my mouth did the man sitting immediately to my right explain that he knows her, and she does indeed have a beautiful way of speaking Norwegian! No kidding! Now this church in Røros is in a small community which took Paul and I about 7 hours of travel to get to! And our church here in Moss has about 30 attendees on any given Sunday. We just laughed at how small this country of Norway seemed at that moment. Not only did he know of this priest, but he knew her well enough to have her contact information on his phone. Small world.

Leaving the church following the Good Friday service.

Leaving the church following the Good Friday service.

On another note, our very welcome visitors of last week (daughter Emily and friend Courtney) returned from their trip to Greece–with beautiful pictures, some nice souvenirs and/or gifts for loved ones, and a few stories of adventure. I don’t know if every parent feels this way, but I just get so excited hearing good news from my kiddoes. I love to see pictures of them having the time of their lives with friends. And, in spite of Paul and I embracing our role of ’empty-nesters’, we do feel a slight sense of loss, bordering on loneliness, when those little grown-up birds return to their own nests after a short visit with us.

Emily in Chania, Crete.

Emily in Chania, Crete.

Getting greeted by a friend on our way to the bus stop!

Getting greeted by a friend on our way to the bus stop!

Emily and Courtney saying 'Ha det!' to Norge.

Emily and Courtney saying ‘Ha det!’ to Norge.

Which is why I visited the liquor store today. Not really. Well, sort-of.

We are the occasional-social-drinkers of wine, Paul and I. So, upon arriving to Norway, the country which taxes its alcohol so much that we thought it was priced above our temporary single income level, we became pretty much in-home tea-totalers. Turns out that is not entirely the case! So, after dropping off the girls at the bus-for-the-airport  stop, I walked to, perhaps, the one and only wine store in town. 🙂 Yes, most of the wine was too expensive for our wallets, but, there were a few acceptable ones from some local countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy) which easily fit the bill.

And, now, speaking of bills, the bill for Paul’s gall bladder ultrasound yesterday at the Østfold Sykhuset (the local hospital), paid in advance of the procedure, was a whopping 227 NOK, or about 30 bucks. Not a bad deal. The results showed that he is the proud owner of not one, but two, gall stones. One large one and one, rather bothersome, smaller one. He is waiting for word from the doctor as to the plan.

The Østfold Sykhuset.

The Østfold Sykhuset.

The Interview….now this was going to be a blog post all its own, but I decided that it was not that big of a deal, so it’s just a paragraph in a blog of randomness. Our little church here in Moss, Den Frie Evangeliske Forsamling, has a four-times-a-year newsletter (Godt Nytt) that is published and distributed at church. It contains articles on members and events, pictures, a page for children, the speaker schedule, etc. WELL, this most recent edition has an article (two whole pages!) on us! Hoo-whee! The writer of the article, Trygve, and his lovely wife of 45 years, Bente, came over for coffee and bars last month and spent the evening visiting with us. I think the purpose of the article was just to make us more approachable to the people at the church who may not know us. It was sure sweet of them to think of it.

(um, check out page 8 and 9) :-)

(um, check out page 8 and 9) 🙂

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Last, but not least, is the weather report. After leaving the winter of Røros, we were pleasantly surprised with spring-like temps in Moss. The snow is long past, and the wild and purposely planted flowers are springing up all around. Why, our friend, Ragnhild, this past Monday morning, went into the very forest we walked through last week in the snow and picked wild flowers for the children of our church to lay at the pulpit for Jesus. 🙂

Easter celebration at church.

Easter celebration at church.

Røros, the land that time forgot.

Well, time didn’t actually forget Røros, but, amazingly, most of the wooden houses and businesses which were built here from the mid-1600s onward due to the success of Røros Copper Works, had never burnt down. This, to me, is especially surprising since there was a fire going constantly at the smelting house. The older part of town is centered around two main, parallel streets with alleyways/tiny streets connecting the two and many additional roads winding outwards. The site of the old smelting house and factory along the river is now a top notch museum, which, fortunately for us, was open for three hours on our first of two full days of touring this charming town.

But first we had breakfast. I really enjoy breakfasts. I especially enjoy them when I do not have to prepare them. This is the typical Norwegian spread that the Solheim Pensjonat set out for their guests on the mornings that we were there:

Breakfast buffet of the Solheim Pensjonat.

Breakfast buffet of the Solheim Pensjonat.

And this is what Paul and I chose for our breakfast: (coffee and tea choices were in the buffet outside the picture)

Very filling start to the day.

Very filling start to the day.

The Rørosmuseet Smelthytta (Røros Museum Smelting House) was awarded the Best New Museum in Europe in 1990. It consists of several levels, going down, with two special collection exhibit halls and one large permanent exhibit detailing the extensive process of copper mining and production. What makes it understandable is that they had painstakingly created a 1:10 model of every point of the process; from digging out the copper ore by fire, hammer, and chisel, to the finished product of copper plates or bars. It took us about two hours to tour the entire museum along with an English language audiotape.

Water power being utilized.

Water power being utilized.

Along with horse power.

Along with horse power.

The ore had to be brought up level by level.

The ore had to be brought up level by level.

The subsequent steps were displayed in this very large, and cold, cavern.

The subsequent steps were displayed in this very large, and cold, cavern.

The men who worked at the copper mine must have been incredibly strong to manage this equipment!

The men who worked at the copper mine must have been incredibly strong to manage this equipment!

Well, the remainder of our two days of touring Røros were spent slowly walking the streets, with a coffee break each day, and a lovely meal in the evenings. We planned to attend the Good Friday service at the 235 year old church in town, so that was something to look forward to for Friday evening before dinner. I thought that it may be full for the service, but we were surprised to see only 22 other attenders there. The large pipe organ was played several times throughout the service, and we tried to follow along by glancing at the older lady who sat in our pew and using the songbooks that she was using. The service lasted for one hour.

Røros Church, built in 1780.

Røros Church, built in 1780.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

View of the church and town after climbing some very icy and steep stone steps.

View of the church and town after climbing some very icy and steep stone steps.

Roaming the town.

Roaming the town.

The top of Bergmannsgata.

The top of Bergmannsgata.

It snowed off and on each of the three days we were there.

It snowed off and on each of the three days we were there.

Røros is also known for its unique doors. This is Paul's favorite. The symbol of Røros Copper Works is above the door.

Røros is also known for its unique doors. This is Paul’s favorite. The symbol of Røros Copper Works is above the door.

Walking down Sleggveien, a group of five very old homes near the factory, where workers would live. A Pippi Longstockings movie was filmed here.

Walking down Sleggveien, a group of five very old homes near the factory, where workers would live. A Pippi Longstockings movie was filmed here.

For our second evening’s meal, we chose a small place that advertised an Easter lamb dinner plus coffee and lemon cheese cake and Live Music, which always piques my interest. I thought that since it only had two seatings, one at 5 pm and one at 7 pm, the place would be packed. Nope. We arrived at 6:45, the first ones, and, as it turned out, the only ones for the meal.  The owner was the hostess, and the cook brought out our meals immediately. We had a delightful evening chatting with the owner well after our meal and the musicians were finished.

Easter lamb dinner at Lysstråles Matglede.

Easter lamb dinner at Lysstråles Matglede.

The musicians in the background were playing,"The Rose".

The musicians in the background were playing,”The Rose”.

The last day was relaxing as well as we visited the owner of the restaurant, Ann Elise, at her art gallery and slowly meandered through the town once again. We were really getting to know this town! We bought an original watercolor painted by Ann Elise to remind us of our time in Røros and of the beautiful people we met there. The oldest restaurant in town, Kaffestuggu, served us a very generous cheese fondue for dinner, and we finished off the evening with a long visit with Johanna, one of the owners of the Solheim Pensjonat. It was from Johanna that we learned that, in Norway, a verbal agreement is a deal, not to be broken by any whim that comes along. She and the other three co-owners of this inn, had made a verbal commitment with the seller to buy the inn, and they took one year to earn the money to buy it. No signatures. No lawyers. And everyone kept their word. Such is Norway.

Our cheese fondue at Kaffeestuggu.

Our cheese fondue at Kaffeestuggu.

The Easter menu at the Solheim Pensjonat.

The Easter menu at the Solheim Pensjonat.

Outside the Kaffestuggu.

Outside the Kaffestuggu.