Saturday, August 28, 2010

Adventures in cooking

We have all lost weight in Norway. I can't say its from more exercise, although we do bike and walk more than we did in Bellingham. I have to blame my cooking. Peter is and always has been a wonderful cook. Twenty three years ago when I tired to make bread, to impress Peter. The loaf turned out to be rock hard and inedible. (I called it my "home defense" loaf, as it could be used to defend against home invaders) I haven't progressed much in my cooking skills since. Peter cooked and I cleaned, a happy arrangement except now I'm not working and he is. So I have attempted to cook, here in Norway, with metric units. Several errors have led to unusual results. Purchasing what I thought was tomato sauce, I ended up with baked beans! There was a picture of tomatoes on the can and the word tomatsaus. I failed to note bønner on the label, but even if I had I didn't know this meant beans. I do now. Our spaghetti was saved by another trip to the store. But I have overcooked, undercooked, melted, burnt and otherwise offended palates with my food. My norwegian instructor told me I need to learn to bake before Christmas.. I will let you all know if that happens.
We drove to the outskirts of Oslo today in our "new" 16 year old Volvo, then hopped on a bus to the center of town. Parking is free in the suburbs, as city planners want people to bus into town. Peter and I wanted to see the Nasjonalgalleriet. The kids were bored before even entering the museum; I think they spent a sum total of 20 minutes inside. The Nasjonalgalleriet (free to the public) is a smaller museum, which is ideal for me, as I could enjoy the paintings and not feel overwhelmed. There are a number of landscape paintings, from realistic to impression to modern. There is of course a good number of paintings by Edvard Munch (1863-1944). His life was harsh- his mother and sister both died of tuberculosis, and his father had a nervous breakdown. He seems to have been a tortured soul, and depicted by his most famous painting: The Scream. I wouldn't want that painting in my house; I suppose that is a testament to the awful power of that painting. He made several of The Scream, one of which was stolen from the museum in 2004. All involved have been captured and are serving jail time, and the painting was back on display in 2006. I think the painting took its own revenge...

Saturday, August 21, 2010


We took a bus from Elverum to Oslo yesterday and were lucky with the weather. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III the city is the oldest Scandinavian capital city. The town boomed until 1349 when bubonic plague wiped out half the population (damn Yersinia pestis).The city suffered several centuries until the Danish–Norwegian king Chrstian IV rebuilt the city as (modestly) Christiania. Norwegian independence was achieved in 1905, and the city reclaimed its original Norwegian name in 1925, Oslo.
After arriving in the central bus station (brand new) we travelled up Karl Johans Gate past Stortinget (Parliment) and to Oslo University. After receiving misleading directions from one bus driver, a local helped us find the right bus to Frognerparken. This park incorporates one of Oslo's most celebrated sculptors: Gustav Vigeland. He started work on the sculptors in 1924 and was still working on them when he died in 1943. It is a world of frowning, fighting bronze figures and a huge 20 meter high obelisk : a writhing mass of humanity playing fighting teaching , eating and clambering on and over each other. Incidentally, the northern part of the park has a dog off leash area.
We then travelled by bus up to Holmenkollen ski jump and the ski museum. Norwegians are very proud of their skiing heritage, and this is the first museum that Conlon actually wanted to visit (go figure). They had the first pair of skis every documented from 500 AD.
We have much more to see in Oslo, but came away with the impression of a clean, easy going city with great public transport and dog friendly (for those crazy people who travel with hunden).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twenty Years

Peter and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary today. Twenty years goes by quick ...We have been lucky to live in so many nice places (Portland, OR, Seattle WA, Vancouver BC , Bellingham WA and now Elverum Norway. I remember 5 years ago discussing with Peter that we should go somewhere exotic for our twentieth. I was thinking tropical, evidently Peter was planning our nordic adventure.
Today I started an intensive Norwegian course, the crew consisting of 2 Russians, 2 Thai's, 1 Vietnamese, 1 British, and one woman from the Phillipines. Evidently there are a number of Russians emmigrating to Norway, not for an improvement in the weather, but for a more stable economic climate. Luckily for me (and the Brit) English is the default language. I do have one bone to pick with the Norwegians. WHAT IS WITH THOSE EXTRA VOWELS??? I really have a difficult time telling the difference between "a" and "æ". Oh well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trip to Evenstad

We drove to Evenstad today, where Hedemark University has their wildlife and fisheries department. We needed to use the laundry facilities, and found the unisex bathroom signs amusing. Conlon, Peter and Kiwi went hiking off of the Birkebeiner Road (the road over the pass between Evenstad and Lillihammer). The temperature there was much chillier, making the planned quick swim unappealing. Five loads of laundry later we returned to Elverum and went swimming in Lake Søbakken. I was invited into the lake by an elderly woman who told me it was not kald but varmt! For those swimmers out there this Lake is similiar in size to Lake Padden and swimmable without a wetsuit. Come November it will be frozen solid.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Arriving in Elverum

The kids, Kiwi, and I arrived in Norway yesterday. Severely jet lagged, we were grateful that Peter had our beds ready. Today we all went for a run in the extensive woods behind our house. Conlon made a few bike jumps- he can't wait to go mountain biking. In the winter there will be extensive x-country skiing there. The kids met their teachers at school, which starts on Monday. Much to our surprise, they will be mainstreamed with all the other kids instead of having Norwegian instruction first for 3 weeks. The benefit is they will meet and make friends right away, the obvious downside is they don't speak Norwegian! We have instituted a crash course over the weekend.
The weather is a real mixed bag. It was hot this morning, now it is raining like a monsoon. The kids and I wonder what we have gotten ourselves into. Juliette and I went shopping at a local second hand store. She has already decorated her room and is the most organized of all of us .

Brita Kiffney