12 April 2014

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

People, I have finally remedied the #1 reason I haven't been posting here.  I have figured out how to switch accounts on Blogger!  AKA connect my new* email address with this blog.  AKA be able to write posts without logging in and out of different google accounts.

AKA I've just been really lazy these past few years.

I don't really have anything worthwhile to say today, except that despite the Bergen rain that is currently streaming down, SPRING is on it's way!

We have a pair of Hooded Crows (I think that's what they are, I ain't no bird watcher) that roost in a tree across the street every year. They have been busy building up their nest, and the tree they roost in has, over the past few days, acquired little buds!

We've had a stretch of sunny weather peppered with showers here the past couple of weeks.  But I am really looking forward to May, which for all the years I've lived in Bergen has been the warmest, sunniest month of the year!  (Which means it's a great month to visit, hint hint). 


Because this is a rambling post of basically nothings, feast your eyes on this beauty:

I was getting out ingredients from the pantry I would need for a quick asparagus soup for later on today, when this nearly ate me. I purchased this in FEBRUARY.  And it's been slowly growing in my kitchen, making evil plans to eat me while I sleep.  Or infect me with botulism.  I don't think I'll be making asparagus soup again anytime soon.


In other news I will most likely be making this blog private at some point in the coming weeks, so if you would like to continue reading my infrequent musings, amusings, and general tomfoolery, shoot me an email so I can add you to the list of allowed readers.  (If you don't already know my email address you probably won't be making it onto the list, try not to be too disappointed.)  My reasoning behind this will be forthcoming.

*new is a relative term. My current email address is actually almost three years old.

22 May 2013

On Grieving

When is it appropriate to grieve?

That question hit me like lightning from a clear sky yesterday night as I was tossing and turning, seeking a position that would ease the hurt and allow sleep to find me.

The news came via Facebook, for how else am I, an ex-patriot, to learn of the death of a friend?

I grieve, but for some horrible reason I wondered at my right to grieve him.  A friend made at camp eight years ago.  Eight years, university, moving abroad, a wedding ago.  We had fallen out of touch.  Am I still allowed to cry?  Am I somehow diminishing the right of others to grieve, others who were so much closer to him, by somehow feeling such a loss at his death?

It terrifies me to think these thoughts.  I do not want to follow them down the path they are leading.

But the conclusion I have come to is this: Life is Flux.  You meet people, wonderful people, who teach you things.  Who touch your life.  Who spark joy... and then situations change.  You study abroad.  You fall in love.  You get married.  Maybe you move halfway around the world.  You loose contact.  But not because you choose to, not because that person meant or means any less to you. 

So the knowledge of their death still cuts with knife as sharp as ever. 

Another friend, a teammate, passed away recently after battling cancer for years.  Now if there is anyone on this earth who lived life to the fullest and embodied joy in the face of unbeatable odds, it was her.  I felt the same thing upon hearing of her passing but didn't know how to put it to words.  At least this time I can put a name to the warring emotions of feeling grief and feeling guilt for that grief.  In writing about this I hope to solidify the knowledge that this- this aching hole I feel in the center of my being- is no less valid, no less right, than any one else who is grieving.  Instead it proves the extraordinary worth of the person who has passed away.  It speaks volumes of the impact they had on the people around them.

But Todd's death has also opened my eyes to what I've been letting happen.  I have met so many spectacular people over the course of my 27 years, but how many of them do I keep in regular contact with?  An embarrassing few.  I have good excuses to be sure: little free time, living in Norway, different time zones, new friends, full-time job, a marriage to work on... but in the end they are just excuses.  This will change. 

So to those of you who I've lost contact with over the years, you still mean the world to me.  You've helped make me who I am, and I will forever be grateful to you for that.  I hope you know it, but in case you don't I intend to tell you.  It might take me awhile to get around to it since I have been so lucky and there are so many of you, but I will do it.

And to those of you with motorcycles, I can't loose any more of you.  The two I've lost already is two too many. 

Life is precious.

Todd, you touched so many lives.  And I will remember you in a way I think you'd like to be remembered- delivering fiendishly clever witticisms in your scratchy voice.  I'll see you when it's my turn. 

28 April 2013

Christmas in Paris

I'm dusting off the ole blog again, I miss writing.  Life is crazy, but I'm going to try to carve out time at least once per week to update it.  Except not next week, because I'll be on vacation in Spain.  I know, I know, you feel so sorry for me!

Today I want to talk about our recent trip to Paris.  I think this goes down as the best Christmas present from the hubs to date, a long weekend in Paris in the springtime?  Yes PLEASE!

A couple of months ago as I was looking at housing options I settled on trying airbnb.com for the first time, because renting an apartment sounded like a good idea.  I've heard from a few people the Airbnb was a reputable website, and I have to say I was extremely satisfied with the way it turned out.  We stayed in a little rooftop apartment in the 6th arr., right smack dab in the middle of a gorgeous, safe, and ehrm, expensive part of town.  The building was typical Parisian turn of the century grandeur, with the circular marble staircase with what I can only imagine are palatial apartments on every floor.  I assume that the rooftop apartments were converted from either attic space or maids quarters at a later date, so the place we stayed in was very humble but perfect for our needs.  Here's the link to the place we stayed if anyone is traveling to Paris, Johan and I would absolutely stay there again.

Plus the store in the ground floor of the apartment sold Swedish goods.  It's like the apartment was meant for us.

Paris was a new city for Johan but I'd been there before, and due to Johan's traveling style this meant that we were able to just wander around the city and soak up the feel of it, while seeking out delicious food.  (I definitely like to see the touristy, historical sights in new cities, but I'd already seen most of them in Paris.)  We did do some touristy things though.  I really wanted to go back to Sacré-Cœur as I think it is the most beautiful church I've seen thus far.  It was a Sunday and they were holding a service while we were there, but they oddly enough allowed tourists to walk through the building while it was going on.  I think that had I been sitting in the congregation I would have found it very off-putting to have a bunch of people walking around, but I was glad for the chance.  I even got to hear a trio of nuns sing a beautiful piece!  It's not every day one gets to experience that...

We also paid to go down into the crypts and go up in the tower.  I could have not done the crypts again and been happy, but the tower was new to the both of us and I'm so glad we went up!  I think the view from the top of Sacré-Cœur is better than the view from the Eiffel Tower... which we also walked up.  We got a lot of excersize over the course of one weekend.

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous, first day in a skirt and tank top for 2013!  Besides seeing Sacré-Cœur, walking up the Eiffel Tower, and touring Notre Dame, we wandered for hours along the Seine just enjoying the view and the feel of the sun on our skin.

Now, living in Scandinavia has taught me the wonderfulness of a spontaneous barbeque in a park on a nice day, but Parisians have taken that tradition and classed it up a notch or two.  We're talking crockery, wine, and a plethora of different types of food.  Oh what I wouldn't have given to be a guest at one of the picnics!

One thing we weren't expecting was how expensive it was.  It was Norwegian prices everywhere!  I didn't think Paris was going to be cheap, but I hoped for a small break from our normal.  But to be fair, we were in the touristy part of the city.  One night, on a tip from a friend, we headed a little bit farther away from the center of the city for dinner.  The suggested restaurant was closed for Sunday, but we found another neighborhood bistro just down the street.  The price was right, even if my steak was underseasoned, and the DESSERT.  Oh my.  I have neverinmylife eaten something that good.  I can't even really explain what it was.  Some sort of salted caramel fondant-like dish, but perhaps the caramel was mixed with gelatin to create the outside?  And then when you cut it with your spoon the liquid chocolate/caramel insides flooded out onto the plate and mixed with the cream and then haveIdiedandgonetoheaven? 

Excuse the cell phone quality photo, but here is THE BEST DESSERT IN THE WORLD.
It was a short and sweet trip, but just what we needed.  It's wonderful to be able to pop over to such an amazing city like Paris for a weekend, and I already want to go back!

On the second tier of the Eiffel Tower... Johan got a few "Go Seahawks!" from passers-by over the course of the weekend.

Johan was the guide the entire time. So happy I married someone who actually has a sense of direction!

I absolutely LOVE the architecture in Paris!  The whole city seems to look like this!

11 October 2012

Condo War and Other Randoms

A couple of updates for y'all, since I'm such an erratic blogger these days...

1) Someone managed to mangle a spider in our mangle (a Daddy Long Legs no less, not some measly tiny spider) and has thus RUINED my laundry experiences.  (It tickles me to be able to use the word mangle to mean BOTH of it's highly opposing meanings at the same time...)

2) I'm knitting a pair of mittens!  I am an amazing housewife!


3) I turned 27.  Johan made me a delicious dinner and gave me creepy pillows.

First Course: prawns. Sooooo goooooood

T-bone steak! YUM

No point in asking about the mysterious peace sign, apparently that's "just what happened"

How would you like these babies staring at you in bed all the time?

4) We have friends here in Bergen who are hobby brewers, and they invited us over to brew some Christmas Ale!  Espen has quite the set up going in his garage, he has built a whole high tech system to aid in brewing and keep things consistent.  I had no idea brewing was so involved, or so interesting!  If only we had been able to make beer in Chem 142 I might have stuck through the whole series...

This is me getting ready to add the second batch of hopps at exactly 45 minutes into the boiling time

The cooling system

This refigerator automatically regulated the temperature- turns on when it gets too warm for the beer, turns off when it gets too cold
5) We have FINALLY gotten started on room number 2 in our Condo War.  This time it's the bedroom.  The trim is now painted a nice, crisp white (the trim in our entire condo was/is this disgusting dirty cream color and I HATE IT.  Trim should be white.  If you don't have white trim I will judge you.  Feel free to judge my remaining rooms with ugly colored trim, but you can't judge my kitchen or bedroom anymore.  Seriously, white trim makes rooms feel bigger and brighter.  Don't believe me?  Come over and visit.)  We have gotten our first coat of grey up on the walls and will be painting the second coat tomorrow night!  So excited!

I have to say that the thing I was most excited for with this bedroom makeover (besides getting white trim) was filling in the holes that were all over the room and caulking all of the seams in the molding.  Seriously, someone who had NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE DOING and apparently NO access to the internet and thus How-To guides put up all the molding.  Seams and nail holes EVERYWHERE.  And WHO brings the wallpaper down onto the floorboards?  WHO??  So there was hours and hours of prep work before we could whip out the paint brushes.  But it is so worth it.

We are also putting in new flooring in our bedroom, living room, and guest room.  It will be real wood but the click-style flooring.  Right now we have some sort of linoleum on the floors in the three rooms which is not only ugly, dented and discolored (and really the choice of patterns was horrendous- who wants plastic flooring with a wood grain pattern?  or a cloudy sky pattern?), but it's also really cold on the feetsies.  We don't have central heating so having a well insulated floor is important in helping us survive the long, cold winters here in Norway. 

Johan caulking the joints
Not full coverage since it's still the first coat, but this gives you an idea of the color!
And this is what the rest of our house looks like after we emptied the bedroom. It's the price of the Condo War.

 And just as an update, remember when we demolished our fan?  Well we bought a new one and hooked it up to the venilation system on the left- just like our previous (non-working) fan had been hooked up.  Then one morning Johan was cooking bacon and I needed to use the restroom.  As I closed the door to the bathroom I realized I was being showered in the smell of cooking bacon.  Yes, that vent has an output in the bathroom.  Why?  I don't think we'll ever know.  So we hooked up the fan to the vent that goes directly outside.  We have yet to put the cover up to finish it, but hey it's still way better than the ugly textured hood.  Ugh.

12 September 2012

Seattle Musings

After 10 days of beautiful summer weather in my hometown of Seattle I have come back to Autumn in Bergen.  It is definitively NOT summer anymore here (though the calendar tries to convince us we've still got a week left), and it's time to drag the winter clothes out of hiding. 

Before I left I was dreading the onset of fall, since Bergen didn't really have a summer this year... at least not in my opinion.  But my equilibrium has returned after my whirlwind trip back to Seattle, and I am once again excited at the prospect of the seasons changing. 

As I was packing my bags to leave Seattle I talked to Johan on the phone:

Me:  We have to plan tons of activities for this fall- I need the time to go by really quickly so that I can come back to Seattle ASAP.

Johan: You have two free weekends between now and your return to Seattle, I think that qualifies.  I need to plan more activities because you are going to be so busy. 

It was so hard to leave.

It will be so amazing to return.

Letting it go 13 months between Seattle visits is almost too much to bear.  I'd vow "never again", but I have a sinking feeling this is not going to be the last time I have to hold out a whole year between trips. 

I had a serious moment of reflection whilst home, appropriately about the immigrants who came to America when the land was young.  It must have taken great strength and courage to board those ships, knowing you'll never see your homeland or family again.  I can't begin to fathom the desperation.  If I could never go back to Seattle again I never would have moved.  To never see my family and friends again?  How...?

The moment that stands out most to me from this most recent of trips was late at night, surrounded  by friends, dancing somewhat crazily, and I just thought "This.  Soak This up.  This is a gift, hold on to This moment, This feeling". 

It struck me so hard because girlfriends are a special breed.  They take years to form, and are based on shared experiences and vulnerability.  I am making girlfriends in Bergen, but it just takes time.  Johan doesn't quite understand, I've given up trying to explain it to him.  He just doesn't get that my best girlfriends knew me and (surprisingly) stood by me in my formative years, through mistakes and selfishness, through teenage stupidity and stubbornness.  They've seen me at my worst and still like me.  We've shared years worth of laughs and tears and tomfoolery.  Sorority advisers and high school deans have acted as catalysts to bonding.  Shared shenanigans have been eagerly accumulated in our memories. 

So I soaked up the amazing feeling of being amongst girls whose friendship comes so easily nowadays (most of the hard work has already been done, now it's just regular maintenance).  I love the fact that once I've said my hellos to them we just start back up where we left off, and it's like I never never hightailed it halfway around the world and haven't seen them in a year.  This is something I am extremely grateful for.

The one thing I didn't manage to do this trip was see enough of my crazy family.  But come Christmas I'm sure I'll fill my "family quota" and have plenty of food fights and random yelling and general mischief.  Johan is so lucky to have married into my family...

For now I'm going to do the best I can to make the most of this time in Bergen because I know it is a blessing and an amazing adventure that we'll be able to tell our grandchildren about.  I know that my time in Seattle is all the sweeter because of my absence from it, and were we to move away from Bergen I would miss it.  I'm a firm believer in living in the moment, of making the best of your situation, and that is exactly what I am doing here.  It takes time to set down roots, but as long as I have my husband at my side then I am Home. 

So here's to what will be an amazing autumn filled with chunky scarves, pumpkin fondue, choir trips galore, and a commitment to living for today. 

11 August 2012

Completely And Utterly Random Yet Of Vital Importance

Screw Hocus Pocus.

If I were a magician my magic words would be "Brown Butter"

24 July 2012

One Year

One whole year.

Johan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday.  We kept looking at each other and wondering how the past 365 days have gone by so quickly.

They say your wedding day is a blur, that you won't remember any of it.  Well, they were wrong- I remember and cherish every second of those memories.

I remember how my eyes snapped open as soon as my alarm went off.

I remember what my mother made my fantastic bridesmaids and I for breakfast, and how we reveled in the anticipation for the day. 

I remember being astounded at how completely and utterly nervous I was.  I have never in my life felt my body rebelling at nerves so much.  (Happy nerves, I assure you.  My feet were boiling hot with thick wool socks on them.) 

I remember reminding myself not to let stress interfere with my enjoyment of the day.  Happy to say I won that battle.

I remember being so grateful when Alyssa came and sat with me for the first part of my hair appointment, and then helped me take charge of my frayed thought processes so I was actually able to make decisions.

I remember how my hairdresser blocked out double the amount of time she usually took for brides and how she was being even more of a perfectionist than usual about it (and how that kind of threw of the makeup/photography schedules for the day) but how it really showed in how perfectly she realized my wedding hair dreams.

I remember bursting into my parent's house in the midst of hair/makeup and probably sounding maniacal but loving being surrounded by those most important to me on this most special of days.

I remember how the glue for the false eyelashes glued one of my eyes shut.

I remember Johan and his groomsmen showing up an hour early for pictures (better that than an hour late), and forcing them to play Wii in the den while I finished getting ready.

I remember Jen making sure that the men had a refreshing beverage while they had to wait.

I remember the hook-and-eye on my dress breaking, and Alyssa coming to the rescue.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror once all the pieces were in place, trying to imagine Johan's reaction when he saw me.

I remember sneaking off for the "first look" pictures, and finally starting to relax once my fiance was by my side. 

I remember having a blast during pictures with the bridal party.

I remember trying to fit myself and my dress and my cathedral length veil into the car to go to Villa without incurring wrinkles.

I remember taking family pictures in Villa and when my photographers asked my sister and I to do something symbolic of our relationship we both busted out the West Face.  Subsequent pictures never made it back to us, I'm pretty sure they were immediately edited out for being "too ugly". 

 I remember hiding in the bridal room before the ceremony, and how my bridesmaids made sure I had a nerve-calming mimosa while my mom forced me to sit while I had the time.

I remember cramming a granola bar into my face right before the ceremony started because I was starving.

I remember those last precious moments with my dad before he walked me down the aisle, and how nervous I was that I was going to mess up the "blocking".  (Trust a drama geek to worry about blocking during her wedding.)

I remember holding onto Johan's hand for dear life during the ceremony, and how my cheeks ached from the smiles I couldn't keep off my face.

I remember how soul-wrenching and beautiful The Servant Song was as sung by my best friends- and how that was the only part of the ceremony that made me cry.

I remember how wonderfully Deacon Denny spoke about love and marriage, and what it means for us.

I remember locking eyes with Johan and searing his vows into my memory, and trying to convey everything I felt into my voice when speaking my own vows.

I remember not quite realizing the ceremony was over, and hesitating momentarily before starting triumphantly back down the aisle with my new husband!

I remember my nerves dissolving instantly as soon as we exited the chapel.

I remember how we sat in stunned silence in our getaway car, the both of us still silently processing before we could gush about our new marital status.  I remember wondering if the chauffeur thought we were weird because we hardly said anything to each other on the way to Magnuson Beach.

I remember seeing Mt. Rainier in her full glory from the beach while we were taking pictures, and reveling in the spectacular Seattle weather.

I remember being anxious to get done with pictures so we could get going to the reception!

I remember how I forgot to get someone to bustle my dress before we got to the reception, and had to let guests come to me while the dress was being worked on.

I remember thinking that cocktail hour was over far too quickly (most likely because we were fashionably late as per tradition), but being so excited for the dinner to start.

I remember thinking about how weird my voice sounded through the mic when it was my turn to give my toast to Johan.

I remember having to tell myself to eat daintily when really I wanted to bathe in the boursin chicken.

I remember forcing myself to drink white wine even though I don't prefer it.

I remember thinking "already?!" when we were told it was time to cut the cake.

I remember hoping neither of us would bash our fingers in when we nailed shut the box with wine and well-wishes.

I remember the wonderful words spoken to us throughout the reception, and feeling cocooned with love and support from friends and family. 

I remember dancing with every fiber of my being.  Oh I celebrated

I remember how cold my feet were when we walked over the golf course to my parents house with all the guests after the reception was over.

I remember doing door chants and rapping with my girlfriends.

I remember being so exhausted that I could barely stand up, but just feeling so happy

I remember of being constantly overwhelmed by the feelings I love this - I love them - I love Johan - I love our guests -  This is the best day EVER - I can't believe this is happening - I LOVE everything!


I understand if I lost you at the first "I remember..." but this post is for me.  To help me keep remembering. 

I uttered the most important words of my life one year ago yesterday, and if it's even possible I mean them even more today than I did then. 

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