Saturday, July 28, 2012

A busy Pappa and a Good Dog

Although we've been comfortably living in our "new" house since December (or maybe it didn't become comfortable until February. . . ), we still have a fair amount of work to do. We have an upstairs bathroom that is concrete floors and unfinished walls--plumbing is in, but no fixtures. The kitchen has no shelves, no drawers, no upper wall cupboards. A second bedroom remains unprimed, unpainted. Our closets are still of the makeshift variety. There is a lot of molding/trimwork to be done. And we still make weekly pilgrimages to our basement storage to pull search after one buried treasure or another. Or maybe just a pair of shoes. Or a wisk. Or a pillow for a guest.

But huge progress was made in June when Erik's father came to visit us for a week. He came with the pronouncement that this was a "work week". He had done the sightseeing in Lillehammer on previous trips; this time it was meant to contribute to the project that we've been slaving over for the past year. With some solid prep work from Erik in the days preceeding his father's arrival, we found ourselves with a deck! More time was spent scraping old paint from the side of the house and priming old siding, allowing Erik to take advantage the rare sunny days we've had and paint 75% of the house (the south side remains a bit of an eyesore). It's just the first coat of a likely three, but it is amazing what a difference it makes. Suddenly this addition, which seemed rather conspicuous before, now blends nicely into the rest of the house. And to top it off, our neighbor came over and announced to Erik, "That red is just perfect". Since she's probably going to see the red more often than we will, we were quite pleased by this! 

An excavating machine and dumptruck came one week ago, bringing a few loads of topsoil, and within a few days we had the makings of a lovely lawn. We are beginning to see the fuzzy appearance of itsy bitsy blades of grass. In the meantime, we manage to be keeping both large dog and small child off of our delicate lawn by just a simple rope fence. She's a good dog.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is something working in my favor???

My motivation to write lately has been sapped. I feel like my blog has become a bitch-about-Norway blog, and that was never my intention. I actually do have moments of complete contentment, peace and a sense of Life is Good. It doesn't happen often, but they do come. And I have inspiring ideas of humorous, entertaining posts to write, but find myself struggling to get the ideas onto the screen.

As I wrote earlier, I started two new jobs in June. One is at Maihaugen, working in the musueum shop. The other is at a local nursing home as an uncertified nursing assistant. I just finished a stint of 8 days in  row between the two jobs, including this unpleasant back and forth and back and forth between evenings shifts (ending at 10/10:30pm) followed by day shifts (starting at 7/7:30am), and then back again. This apparently is the "Norwegian way" of working shifts in the health care field. An evening shift followed by a morning shift. It sucks. 

My two-ring binder of papers, licenses, letters of support, etc. remains in the hands of our well-connected neighbor at the college nursing department. We haven't heard from her since mid-June. Seeing that most Norwegians are wrapping up their 3-week summer vacation, that's not too surprising. I'm very used to playing the waiting game, so I'll just keep on waiting. 

A few weeks back, however, we had a small piece of hopeful news. One of the many hoops for nurses educated outside of Norway is the 4-week long "national nursing course" that brings us outlanders up to speed on the Norwegian health care system. You might remember that I have tried to get into this class for over a year, but was denied for a variety of reasons. You might also remember that mid-way through this whole process they suddenly raised the bar for the language standards to take the class, now requiring the Bergenstest--written and verbal. You might also remember that I then proceed to not pass either Bergenstests this past spring. It was not a complete surprise, but still felt like a huge setback. 

Until a few weeks ago. Because this new language standard is so new, there are not a lot of people who were able to pass the test. On the admission website to the nursing course it is explained that first priority admission is given to those who have passed the Bergenstest, but those who have the lower language standard will be put on a waiting list. I've been on a waiting list for a year.

There are 80 people admitted to the course. 20 people passed the Bergenstest. 60 spots are open. There is not an opportunity to take--and get results--of another Bergenstest before the next nursing class in November, so the chance that 60 people with passing Bergenstest results sign up for the class is essentially 0. 

I am number 4 on the waiting list. 

Finally. Something is working out. Looks like I'll be spending November in Oslo!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SAD in Summer?

I've been wondering lately if it's possible to have Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer, and not just the winter. . .

I expected the Winters in Norway to be cold, dark and long, so when they turned out to be cold, dark and long I wasn't at all surprised. However, I expected the summers to be warm, sunny and, well. . . summery. And they aren't. They are cool--60 degrees, rainy, and spring like. Tonight, 10pm, I am wearing jeans, wool socks, long-sleeve cotton T-shirt, and the same green Patagonia fleece hoodie sweatshirt that I've worn for the past 23 months.

I like living in a place with four seasons. I don't think I could ever give up snow in the winter. (Well. . . maybe I could, but since I don't want to live without my husband, I think I need to have snow in the winter). But, I also really like heat. Sun-generated heat. And I'm not asking that much--70, 75. Just enough to feel like I can throw on a pair of shorts of summery skirt first thing in the morning, and not pull on that same damn pair of Levis for day #21. . .

We intentionally delayed a trip back to the States until the Fall, and not for this summer. For one, my parents are in Norway this summer, traveling about in their RV, so it's dumb to go back to the US when  half the parental units are not there. But secondly, Erik argued, "summer in Norway is beautiful. . . we don't want to leave during the best part of the year!"(I might add that thirdly, we have a house that needs to get finished).

You know what Norwegians do during summer? They leave. Denmark. Spain. Italy. Greece. Turkey.

We're half-way through week one of felles ferie (common vacation), the three weeks in Norway (and most of Europe) when every Norwegian goes on vacation. And it's not a matter of "if" they are going. No, no. . . Norwegians do not ask you, "ARE you going on vacation?" It's "WHERE are you going on vacation?" Because it is expected that you WILL take a vacation, and preferably several weeks long. Even as I began two summer-temp jobs, I was asked, "Which week of vacation do you want?"

An article in the local newspaper reported a study done by the University in Oslo. The study found that the body needs a full three weeks of continuous vacation to bring the stress hormone levels back to normal. Older workers might even take longer.

And what are we doing during felles ferie, you ask? Seeing that the barnehage is also closed for felles ferie, someone needs to be around to watch over the little one. I'm taking this first rainy, cold, miserable week off (cue the tiny violins, please. . . ), and on Thursday evening we have been invited to join some friends in their hytta (cabin) for the weekend. The next two weeks we will have visits from Erik's mother and a friend of hers, who will be bouncing in and out, watching Greta on some days and visiting sights near and far on others, while Erik and I juggle the childcare between jobs, day/evening shifts, a sun setting at 10:30pm, and the never-ending house projects.

"Next summer", we say "next summer we'll take 3 weeks off. . . "

And be damn sure to go somewhere warm.