Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Icy, for real this time

Yes, I had ranted about the icy-ness of the sidewalks here in Norway, but then failed to provide convincing proof. It must be like when you go to the doctor or the mechanic - the problem never manifests itself at the right time. I never had my camera with me when it was icy out, plus I didn't want to stop and take a pic while on the ice. Never know what might provoke falling on this slippery stuff.

Well, when I woke up Sunday morning, snow had appeared on the ground. So, on my way home from church, I stopped to take this pic - of the snow that has been trampled into ice. Oh fun!!

That church you see in the background - that is not the church I am interning. That is one of the norwegian state churches, Frogner Kirke. Our church is located around the corner and up the street from it. But, this is one of my routes to and from church.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Icy pics

I took some pics of the roadways I normally walk to and from church. There's only two pics with ice, can you spot them? This is the fun of walking around - you never know where the ice might be!

It was dryer out this morning, so not so slippery on the way in. Another safe walk in to church.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Icy Oslo

Most of you in the States are currently enduring freeeezing weather, while here in Norway we keep osscilating above, below, and right at zero degress - I operate in Celsius now! How I wish it would just stay cold or warm. Walking to and from church has become a sort-of endurance, obstacle, daring trek. I never know what parts will be icy, if there is ice, and if I can even see the ice.

You may be wondering about this pic. I don't have any pics of the ice, so you get a picture of me in my new (but yet still old) Norwegian vest that has fun / weird cap sleeve things. Look ma! I'm becoming a Viking!

I have now learned that the zebra stripes, or crossing strips on the road will ALWAYS be slippery. Not sure why that is, lack of texture? But, I avoid those at all costs. The streets also tend to be icier than the sidewalk - is this black ice? The hills are the fun part, because I'm always in fear that I'll just slip the whole way down.

Norwegians don't seemed perturbed by this at all. No one seems to walk differently, except the elderly. Is something wrong with me? I feel like I don't know how to walk. But, then again, I have seen several people slip a little and keep on going.

I've also been told, and even seen, these clamp-on things that people put on the bottom of their shoes, they have little metal things coming out the bottom so you don't slip. But again, I mostly see elderly people wearing these. Oh, I long for snow instead of this thin icy cover that hangs around all day.

But, I guess this is Norwegian life. I was reading an article on Knitty called Common Sense and the art of Norwegian Knitting written by a woman from the US who lived in Norway for one year (don't worry this does relate to icy sidewalks). She talks in her article about Norwegian culture being grounded in common sense. "Norwegian culture is nothing if not grounded in the concept of common sense. My American friend (who was fearful of ice) was not being admonished to conquer her fear of falling on the ice by pretending, in some Zen-like manner, that the ice was not there. No, not at all. Instead, she was experiencing a typical Norwegian reaction to having the obvious pointed out to them. "Yes, there is ice," they might just as well have said, "and if you're not prepared to walk over it, why are you here?".

Guess being used to slippery sidewalks and ice everywhere is part of becoming or being Norwegian. Salt is not used, except in select places, to prevent ice. I'm told its for environmental reasons. (Never thought I would wish they just wouldn't care about the environment, but when I am fearing for my safety, I do wish for some of that naughty salt!)

If you have been praying for me, start praying for snow, or maybe that I just won't fall traipsing around this country. The sun has been out today, so maybe the trek home won't be too bad. Hopefully I'll be able to get some decent pics of the ice fields out there too! Enjoy the snow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reusable Fun

Many of you know that I hate brown. Whenever I am shopping, people will hold up some brown item of clothing or apparael and say, "oh this is nice". To which I usually reply, "yuck, its brown." or "Blah." Throughout my life, I have rejected the color brown. Well, surprise, surprise, I have bought something that is brown.

Well, my favorite store is called Uff! yes, as in Uff-da. It is run by an organization called Humana. The profits are supposed to support development projects in Africa (last year there was a bit of a controversy though. Uff is owned by a larger corporation, and supposedly most of the profits were going into the corporation and not to development.) While I hope this controversy has been resolved, I love this store because 1. almost all the clothes are bright colored and super fun. 2. They are reused / recycled clothes, so they are not creating more waste.

Humana, like Salvation Army, has several colection bins throughout Scandinavia. But, at Uff, almost all the clothes are from the 1970's period - how they get all these donated, I do not know. There are even several fur coats. It is also a great place to find real, but inexpensive norwegian sweaters. Many of the clothes even appear to be handmade. Plus, because they come from scandinavia, they fit me, for the most part!! Being a larger / taller than average person, regular clothes are often too short for me, or just fit weird. But, many of the clothes at uff! are just right! This is my favorite part!

Just thought I would share this randomness of my life here, plus, let you know that I am indeed broadening my horizons. Just wait til you see some of the other clothes I have purchased at Uff! They are not quite so brown.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Snowy Day

We finally got snow last weekend! Lots of it too! It snowed lightly, on and off on Thursday and Friday. But on Saturday, it snowed all day, at a pretty good rate. The result was that, yippee!!, on Sunday morning, the world was deeply covered in snow. It was quite nice walking to church in this pretty undisturbed environment - Norwegians get up late on Sunday mornings. Plus, the temperature was just below freezing, so the snow had stuck together and was piled on branches, on posts, on everything. So pretty!!

Here's what I saw out my bedroom window. Later, someone was making a snowman out here, not sure if it ever got finished though.

Walking to church, I just had to stop and take a picture of the barnehauge (preschool / daycare). It was covered in snow and looked kind of quaint. Plus, you can see how much snow we got.

I take a different way home from church, and was so enthralled with how this street looked, with the colored homes and the stumpy trees holding the snow.

This way leads me through a little park, where Christmas trees were sold in December - smelled really good. But is also pretty, and there's a cute lighting store around the corner that always cheers me up on dark Norwegian evenings. But, here's a pic of the play equipment, that I think is part of another barnehage.

Sadly, the temperatures have warmed up a little and the snow has been melting all week. Its been slushy and wet here. The only snow left is on the side of the streets where it was piled. The ground is now brown and dead looking again. Plus, instead of salt, they use gravel type stuff to prevent people from slipping. So, there's small gravel all over the sidewalks now. Its been interesting, though, to see how another culture deals with snow! At least it was pretty for awhile!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sailing to Kiehl

This past week I undertook what seems to be a great Norwegian pastime. Well, maybe not pastime, but the great Norwegian adventure. I went on a 'cruise' to Kiehl, Germany. Now, you may be like me, thinking, Kiehl Germany? Where is that? Why would one go there?

These are the same questions I asked when people first told me about going to Kiehl. I was told that Norwegians go there to shop since the prices are cheaper and the tax is less. Plus, in Norway, if you drink any alcohol at all, it is illegal to drive. So, on the cruise, you can eat, drink, and be merry and just go to your cabin at night, instead of paying for a taxi ride home.

I was invited my a congregation member to join her on the cruise. She had received some tickets as a Christmas present. So, we boarded the boat at 1:00pm on New Year's Day and sailed for Kiehl.

There is good reason this is called a 'cruise' because you don't arrive in Kiehl until about 10:00am the next morning. So, while on board, you can lounge in your cabin, sit in a cafe (I had some yummy passion fruit gelatto), go to a show (did this on the way back to Oslo), or watch the water go by from the observation bar / cafe / restaurant thing. BUT, there is no where to sit without people asking you what you would like to drink / order except in your cabin. You can get away with not ordering a drink, but they don't 'appreciate' it. Guess everyone wants to make more money!

Well, we arrived in Kiehl the next morning and set out for some shopping and a bit of site-seeing. Sadly, the Christmas market had closed down before Christmas. But, I did purchase some knitting needles, some tights, and some candy and chocolate (heavily taxed in Norway). I also got a yummy bratwurst - oh the joy of spicey food again!!, and a crepe with nutella and banana, my favorite! You only get about 4 hours in Kiehl, so the only site we saw was St. Nikolai church, which had a massive crucifix cross hanging just before the altar area. Talk about living in the shadow of the cross!

We hopped back on the boat at 1:45, spent the night on the boat, and then arrived back in Oslo at 10am on Thursday morning. It was funny, when we left Oslo, the ground was bare, everything looked so brown. When we sailed back into Oslo, it had snowed, so everything was white! Pretty!

The trip was a fun, but strange trip. I still don't completely understand why people take this trip, but its a fun time! And a sort-of vacation on the cruise boat! I have to say, my Iowa roots came out though, because I felt a bit claustrophobic being stuck in a contained area, without the option to roam wherever I want, or I would end up in the ocean.

Well, I'm back home and back to work now. No more vacations for me. On the plus side, its getting a bit lighter here in Oslo and we have snow! Yippee!!