Monday, August 31, 2009


I know you all want me to say that the very gates of Hell opened up to swallow back its demon horde. Just 'cuz that would be the better story.

But it was...I don't know....they were kind of......sort of....civilized.....

They sat politely at the table--asked for help with the ketchup, apologized for needing more soda, and I even saw two or three of them using their napkins:
After eating, they ceremoniously--following the laws of some archaic, unspoken, tribal heirarchy--organized themselves into a tight circle, and played an only slightly jostling round of spin-the-bottle for the opening of the presents:
They listened reverently as Boy counted the money he was given...over and over again. They asked to hold it, but they never attempted to pocket the prize. This would have thrown the brotherhood into disarray.

Don't get me wrong. It was louder than bombs over bedlam.

There were moments of sheer, unglued crazy. And, I might add, not all of them have yet learned to flush a toilet.
But they didn't eat my husband alive when they had the chance.

And, at the end of a very intense three hours, my house remained mostly intact; my girls and their precious girly toys mostly unmolested. The apparently not-so-fearsome little darlings gathered up their things, said "Takk for meg", and tripped up the stairs holding their dad's hand rambling on about buried treasure and lucky Boy's delightfully adorable balloon chasing kitten. So much for the demon horde.

Easy Peasy. But next year they're SO doing this at the bowling alley!

P.S. The treasure hunt was a huge success. Three rum and cokes produce poetic genius from fumbling engineers! And you've never seen a prouder Mister than after watching kid after kid run out the door telling their dad's how freakin' COOL it was to get to dig that silly Lego box full of candy out of the ground.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's What Pain Is

As most of you know, my beautiful Boy turned 7 a few weeks ago.

For many reasons--the least of which being I'M A TERRIBLE MOTHER--he's NEVER had a proper birthday party with school pals and presents, intemperance and chaos, anarchy and fiery distruction.

Tomorrow I set that record straight.

My guilt led me to approve a guest list of 16 sticky, feral boys.


Prey for us now, and in the hour of our death.

In an effort to focus the energies of the these sixteen wee lordlings of havoc, I have decreed that there shall be a treasure hunt. 

Yes.  After the hot dogs, but before the presents, the little darlings will be sent on an adventure. 

Maps shall be furnished.  Clues must needs be deciphered.  Much fun will be had by all.

The only catch being----my demon guests are Norwegians, and I'm completely norsk challenged.  I can't write any of the damn clues!  Gah! 

At this very moment, Mister is sitting at the kitchen table, nursing his third rum and coke, trying to churn out a series of 16 cutesy rhymes leading to a cache of candy bags buried out in the backyard.

You have no idea how much it pains me--THE WRITER--to have to hand this delicate task over to he--THE FUMBLING ENGINEER!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Trouble With Oddny

Earlier today, I glibbly asserted in the comment section of a fellow Norwegian ex-pat blogger's blog that half of Norway's problem was the absurdly short, barely 5 hour school day. I didn't say it exactly thus, but whatever. I meant it at the time. And sure, why not? I might as well stand by that statement. It makes about as much sense as anything else I might pull out of my ass at any given moment to account for and condone my ongoing discontent.

Sooooo, if short school days are one half of the problem, this woman, then, must be the other half:
Okay--maybe not her personally, but certainly what she represents.

The picture comes to us today from our local paper, BergensTidene. The article, which is featured on the front page, is actually a pretty interesting one discussing the upward trend of health fanatics in the mid- to upper classes. It's basically arguing that, these days, the status symbol of choice among the elite, rather than a flashy car or a big ass sailboat, is a toned and healthy body.

Fine. I think this trend was well established donkey's ages ago, but whatever. Oddny (uber-norsk name of above woman) is used as a prime example of this trend because she once tipped the scales at over 200 pounds. Then, one fine day, she decided to go for a walk. And hey presto! However many years later (I don't think it ever said how long it took) she's thin, fit, and climbing every mountain in sight.

Grand. I'm happy for Oddny. I really am. As a runner who started out barely being able to run 200 yards without inducing 'episode' worthy heart spasms, I applaud absolutely anyone who commits to their fitness hard enough and long enough to gain that level of endurance and drop significant poundage along the way. Good on her!

No. What really chaps my hide about Oddny here, is the very first thing the article says about her--in large, bold print no less--is that Oddny is 'uføretrygdede'. Forget the pronounciation on that one, it doesn't matter. What's important here is the meaning. Let me explain. We Americans don't really have a word for 'uføretrygdede', because we don't have a social system which would allow for such a creature to evolve. But what it means is this: Oddny has been declared medically incapable of work, indeed, she's so incapacitated that the welfare system has had to envelope her into the bountiful cushion of its loving embrace, and is me again...FULLY...covering all of her health and living perpetuity. The rest of her life people.....if she so wishes......and I'm pretty sure she so wishes.....

The ariticle explains that early in her life Oddny was excused from ever working again because of "a back illness" (it doesn't explain which one), and yet....and yet!.....there's Oddny climbing mountains, lugging a heavy backpack across wet, slippery terrain, and bragging about all the summits she's seen. With a 'back illness'? Srsly? How fucking busted would Oddny be if this article appeared in the States, and there she was living high on the hog off some bogus insurance settlement?

Oddny. Dude. You're fooling no one with that sore back shit anymore. GET. A. JOB.

..........said the jobless blogger from the quiet comfort of her blogosphere.....

Oh. And Norway. Dude. You're digging your own grave with this uføretrygd shit. Dial it back a bit, 'kay?

P.S. Please do not take this rant as a denunciation of socialized medicine or welfare in general. It's not. But such glaring and obvious abuse of a decent and needful system of support hurts my eyes, galls my liver, and vexes my very soul. I just had to share. That's all.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Unfinished Elder Miss Business

This is another post I would have liked to have put up in June before we left, but was unable to get to.

Not my fault, this one.

EM's art teacher cancelled the last art class, so we couldn't pick up her portfolio before we left. I just got ahold of it yesterday at the first class of the new year. And well worth the wait it was. EM had epics to tell about how she did this, and why she chose that. She wondered where on earth we were going to find the room to hang it all up on the walls. If I were a better mother, I might have shared her concern. As it was, I told her we'd pick one piece--the best piece--to frame and display in some later to be determined place of honor on the walls.

Which piece is still a matter of some debate.

Which would ya'll choose?

This was the first time she'd ever worked with coal. She said she didn't much like it. Much too hard to control. For this assignment the teacher had brought in three stuffed animals. They were told to pick one, and draw it into some sort scene--sort of like a book illustration.

The story goes: this husky comes to school one day to take her on an adventure to the arctic. It's funny 'cuz I spent half of last winter writing half a book about a kid who leaves school one day, and heads out on an arctic adventure.
She didn't have much to say about these two. I don't think she liked them much. They're both paintings that she did after being read a story from which she was supposed to pick two scenes to illustrate. She couldn't remember much of the story, something about a woman who wanted three babies....and there was a bird.....or something.....
This one is her favorite, and I have to agree that I think it's rather wonderful. It's a simple still life--a vase of peonies, a water pitcher, and a pineapple. The thing I find most impressive about it is, when I looked at it and said, "Hey EM, I didn't know you guys had talked about prespective or anything like that. That pineapple has some depth!"

She was all like, "Eh? Per-wah-huh? I just thought the flowers turned out nice."

Which they did! But look at that pineapple! It has some depth!
This is the blind portrait of her friend that she was holding when her picture was taken for the newspaper last winter. I liked the little bit I could see from that grainy photo. I flat out love the finished product. If I have my way, I think this is the one I'll be framing. When I asked her why she chose those particular colors, she said, "Because the blue is like, electric! That's what I wanted."
This is one of the drawings she did in preparation for that free-form bird house thing that was selected for the art show. She was told to let her imagination run wild in composing a house. The only condition was that this house had to hang from a tree.

Messy and chaotic as it is, I still think this is far more interesting to look at than the finished product that ended up in the show.
This was from an assignment all about shape and color. She couldn't remember any more concrete instructions than that. Just shape and color. And she told me that she wanted to challenge herself to use some colors that she didn't think she liked. I don't know if that was her idea, or perhaps something the teacher suggested to her at some point during the process. Either way, the finished product works for me.
And finally--to round out the year's curriculum--some scuplture.

......get it?...with the rounding out?....and the scupture? the round?........anyway.....

Her teacher broke her leg--apparently, quite badly--'long about mid-January. So, for the entire second half of the year, she had a substitute filling in. The particular speciality of this substitute happened to be ceramics and sculpture. So the kids got to spend a lot of time working with clay that they wouldn't ordinarily have gotten to do otherwise.

EM loved it. The polar bear candleholder with the blue bow tie is kind of cute. But I can't help it, I like her drawings better. I was glad to hear her regular teacher say yesterday that while she might consider to do a bit with clay again this year, she can't do much because she doesn't know much about it, and she doesn't have access to the kiln for firing.

Yey! Sharpen those pencils baby! Make me proud!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Unfinished Boy Business

This is a post I meant to get up in June, but just never got around to posting....or even writing, come to think on it....

June was a busy month for me.  Remember the waterless well?  What a lark that was.  Incidently, sometime in July--about a month after we left, as happy chance would have it--the fish we kept in the well, and tasked with eating all the worms and moldy bug-a-boos that might muck up the water, died, rotted, and essentially poisoned the whole system.  It was apparently no small task to get it all cleaned up and rebooted, so to speak.  Shame I missed that.  On a happy note, there was plenty of water on hand to flush through the system once it was clean again....

Anyhoo--back to the unpleasantness of June.  In between hauling all those buckets of water up from the lake, I found myself frantically driving Boy to and from soccer practices and (finally) a handful of real games. 

How psyched was Boy to show up at that first game and be handed a real uniform?  Blue!  With sponsors and everything!  The awesome was palpable.

To be honest, Boy's athletic performance is haphazard and, shall we say, uneven at best.  I believe he has the raw material of a potentially superb athlete.  But at the moment, like many of his kind, he suffers from the short attention span and volatile grace of a Golden Retriever puppy.  The strongest, most solid kick I saw him make during the entire season clocked his own team's best player squarely in the face.  Boy was about to feel really bad about this until he got distracted by the goalie's sister turning cart-wheels on the sidelines.  He's never scored a goal.  He rarely manages more than to merely get in the way of the other team's attempt to hussle the ball.  He'd never dream of attempting to steal the thing from them.  He'd be uncertain what to do if they just handed it to him.  None of this bothers Boy in the least.  He has the time of his life everytime he goes out to play.  I hope some of that comes across in the pictures.

I love the orange shoes.  What flare!  No one else on the pitch has them.  No one else could carry them off.
I believe he believes his team scored a goal.  This may or may not have been true.  He often got confused and cheered for the other team's goals as well.
Huddle up!
 The kid on his right, the one whose face we can see, that's Ole-- Boy's bestest friend in the whole wide world.
The last weekend before we left, his team participated in a cup/tournament thingy (different, apparently, and separate from the other series of matches he'd been playing....fucking soccer....baffles me) at the end of which, all the players got a medal and a goofy headband.  He lost the medal, but that headband he wore to bed for three nights running.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Enter Cindy

We might as well begin with her, since I know ya'll are just dyin' to know.

She's exactly as lovely as you might have expected.

Her paws are HUGE. And her eyes are the softest shade of cinnamon brown--a peculiarity which as gone a long ways towards bringing me to peace with the name Cindy.

She's perhaps a bit more skittish than I might have hoped. The day we brought her home, we opened up the cage, and she made a beeline for the inner reaches of the sofa (literally made her way up inside the framework of the damn thing). We didn't see more than the tip of her tail for the better part of two days. I was more than a little disappointed.

On the second day we pulled her out, and stuffed the holes under the couch with old sleeping bags so she couldn't climb back in.

She warmed up considerably over the next few days, and now she's proving to be a very sociable little honey, following us from room to room, and settling where ever we do. But she still ducks and runs anytime she even suspects someone might be reaching to pick her up. She'll suffer a good pat and rub from time to time, but she's clearly not much of a cuddler. In this way she's not unlike her new mother....

She's going to fit in just fine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The longest two weeks of my life, people!


I hope ya'll are still out there, because I'm finally plugged in again, and I've got shit to say. 

It's gonna take me some time to thread it altogether blog-wise, but new material on its way prontissimo.