Saturday, October 8, 2011

Moving In, Settling Down

I've tried to write this post 3 times - each time more unsuccessfully than the last.

My biggest dilemma was that I felt like I was unable to convey my delight, satisfaction, joy, and slowly growing homesick heart all in one post.

However, let me be clear, I am not homesick...yet. I don't think simply missing family, friends, and birthday parties counts as being homesick, but if you're creating a "homesick potion" of sorts, those would definitely be in the mix.

This post isn't about homesickness though, it's about settling into my new life in Bergen.

It's officially autumn here - heavy rain is starting up, accompanied by strong winds. While writing this, I noticed a very strange sound in the kitchen (I automatically assumed it was the dishwasher - and then realized the dishwasher wasn't on). I looked out the window and let the street light be my guide. I can always tell how hard it's raining by checking it against the light down the street. At that moment it was coming down hard, but that sound: It wasn't rain. I went to the kitchen window where the noise was loudest and peaked through the blinds only to see little pea-sized hail tinking against the glass.

I've seen hail a few times in my life, but in the few months that I've been in Bergen, the times it has hailed here has already surpassed my mere 24 years of witnessing it.

Moving into the new season makes it feel like the summer was ages ago. What a busy time that was!

Reminiscing  about the wedding aside, our boxes full of our things had been packed up, shipped over,  and delivered to our doorstep.

I had been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Finally, it arrived - in perfect condition. Our nine boxes full of wedding presents and personal goodies were finally here! And it only took 8 weeks.

This was our pallet after I had taken off a few boxes.

In great condition for making the 5200 mile journey. 

After they pulled our the pallet off the truck, the delivery guy went back to the truck and began to pull down yet another pallet. I saw all the Home Depot boxes, and we immediately told the guy that it wasn't ours. He wouldn't take them back though. With our names on the shipment, he had to deliver them. So we were left with 8 boxes of stuff that did not belong to us:

They were full of "Diverse Halloween costumes," "children's games", "blankets", and other things, according to their horrible labels (no wonder their shipment was in the wrong place: they didn't label it properly!). Definitely not our stuff. The boxes were not packed well enough and this shipment was crushed. I felt sorry for whomever it belonged to. We had to carry all these boxes down to our basement to store them until the mix up was sorted out. (Side note: they charged us extra for this shipment and seem to be quite relunctant in refunding the money...)The boxes got picked up the following day, and it was just a minor set back in the sheer joy of opening all of our boxes. 

I can't describe my excitement. 

All of our wedding presents! Pots and pans! Knives! Extra towels! Kitchen utensils I've only dreamed about! It was delightful. It was like Christmas in September. I began tearing apart the boxes and making an utter mess. 

Before I started: 

Stuff everywhere!

Once I started, it was hard to stop. I emptied one box after another, barely leaving myself room to move. 

My kitchen...full of new dishes and crumpled newspaper from the last week in July.

There was only one thing to disrupt my excitement, and that was my new arch enemy: packing peanuts. Their super powers of defying gravity, static cling, and an uncanny ability to hide until you think everything is all cleaned up (only to surprise you later) was overwhelmingly annoying.


I thought I had taken a picture of the enormous bags of packing peanuts and bubble wrap that came out of the boxes, but apparently I didn't. The bags were about 4.5 feet high, and about 2 feet in diameter - packed full. One bag for packing peanuts, one bag for bubble wrap. All of the newspaper that I unwrapped from things was about as high as my knees when I stacked them all up, and we had an incredible amount of cardboard that needed breaking down as well. That's what happens when you pack boxes inside of boxes, I guess. 

It took a few hours to unpack, and a few more hours to clean up. 

Everything went through a round in the dishwasher before finding a home in the cupboards - but I didn't mind one bit: I was thrilled. All of our dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and baking was all here - finally! We could move on from the days of having 1 frying pan, 1 saucepan, and 4 cooking utensils. 

It's impressive to think that we managed with the bare minimum...but regardless, those days are over! 

In addition to kitchen goodies, we also got some special items: 

A quilt that was made by a very special group of ladies at church. It wasn't made particularly for me or anything, but in the few weeks that I was able to attend the Quilting (or is it Comforters? I can never remember) group, I spotted the quilt and just thought it was the bees' knees. A woman named Ruth noticed that I really liked it, and gave it to me as a gift. It's here in Norway with me, and I'm making very good use of it. 

A Viking ship that was an engagement gift. A man named John made it (who is, I believe, president of the Sons of Norway group in Los Angeles), and it is perfect in our window sill: 

Amazing! We love it. 

The ship actually sits quite nicely with another wedding present that makes just about every Norwegian who comes into our home chuckle: the words "uff da" carved out of wood and painted purple. An old family friend, Stephanie (one of my best friends' mom) gave it to us. I'm not sure I can give you a proper definition of what Uff da means, so this is from Wikipedia: "Uff da is often used in the Upper Midwest as a term for sensory overload. It can be used as an expression of surprise, astonishment, exhaustion, relief and sometimes dismay. For many, Uff da is an all-purpose expression with a variety of nuances, and covering a variety of situations. The expression has lost its original connotation, and it is increasingly difficult to specify what it means now in America. Within Midwestern culture, Uff da frequently translates into: I am overwhelmed. It has become a mark of Scandinavian roots, particularly for people from North DakotaSouth Dakota,Wisconsin, northern IllinoisIowaMinnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.[2][3] Uff da can often be used as an alternative for many common day swear words." It's a big hit among Norwegian-Americans, that's for sure. My Norwegian grandparents said it all the time! I seldom hear it in Bergen, but then maybe I just don't notice it? Either way, this part of my living room is definitely a favorite:

Norwegian corner

On the other end of the window sill there is more of a beachy theme. 

These...I love. On the left is a candle holder from Auntie Diane. I think of her when I see it, and it reminds me of where I come from. On the right is something special an old friend made for me. This friend, her name is Brittany, made a collection of the sand and shells from my hometown, Manhattan Beach. It's such a lovely reminder of my roots, my friends, my family. It graces my window sill along with all the special treasures that came with me to start my new life in Bergen. 

Perhaps I'll have to make another post about the other treasures I have around my apartment to remember I'm loved by some pretty special people back in California. I miss you all, and think of you very often. The love, support, and little trinkets have made it so much easier to settle in to these new beginnings. 


  1. Love the 'uff da'! I say that all time, will have to make sure I say it a bit more around you:-)

  2. holy smokes i come over here and there are not one, but TWO posts from you!? NICEEEEE. im glad i saw the apartment after the boxes were unpacked ;-)

  3. Hi Alyssa - I finally figured out how to sign in (I think) and can now keep up with your blog, which I just love! I'll have to send you some new recipes. I've been taking some cooking classes, which have been way fun! So good to see you're finally getting settled in with all your new stuff. I miss you much! Love to you and Stian, Auntie Diane :-)

  4. Lise from Ă…lesundOctober 20, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    My family doesn’t say "uff da", but "offa". It's a short version and the "o" instead of "u" is because of the dialect. We use it as a word to show understanding when something bad happens to someone else. "Offa, did you hurt yourself?" "Did that happen to you? Offa..."

    I love your blog :) It's so much fun to read :D