Saturday, December 23, 2006 9:58:53 AM
The first few days we sat on the floor and ate picnic style. Even when our unbelievably kind and generous neighbor passed along an old drop leaf table, we only had the one chair I'd been using. As you can see, we now have a big comfy Ikea sofa that came in many small pieces and which we assembled late one night. Ikea is equal parts perfection and frustration. It takes a long time to get to the free bus and to time everything so you get back at a reasonable time (they are a good 25 minutes outside the city). The items range from cheap pressboard to quite expensive and sturdy. And they are specifically designed for you to linger and meander, which can be difficult the first time you are there and all you want is a plate and a pillow.
We also went down to see the Picasso exhibit at the National Gallery where S also got to see some very nice Munchs. The Picasso show was small but tightly focussed on his later drawings, mostly simple single-subject ink line drawings but also a few with classically arranged groups, usually including a minotaur. Our little miss H didn't really respond to these was but very curious about all sculpture (ranging from classical Greek to Degas to Henry Moore). She seemed to think that photos aren't art and wanted to get back to the paintings.
H is a good walker and we have pretty much carried her or let her walk since day one but we come from Texas Car Culture (tm) where distances are measured from the parkinglot or driveway. After carrying her sleeping dead-weight or exhausted fussiness, we finally got her a stroller. It has really saved us on some of our longer walks but is very difficult to manage on the tram/busses and encourages her to be a little less engaged with what's going on around her; she can pull her scarf up to her eyes and her hood down and zone. But on the whole, it's been well worth it and really freed us up to be able to shop and get around without worrying about her little legs or having to carry her + groceries up our flights and flights and flights of stairs.
Oslo is warm and bright. It is above freezing for the first time in about a week, maybe 5C. We are past the longest night of the year and the daylight should be getting longer by several minutes a day until 6 months from now when we will be spray painting our windows black in the hopes of getting any sleep. One of the really nice things about the short days we've been having is that I have seen so many sunrises. I had always preferred sunset to sunrise but lately the dogs and I have been able to stand on the frost covered hill and watch the sky turn from dark navy blues to deep pinks to yellow highlighted clouds against pale blue sky, the fjord beneath us turning from slate to shining mirror. It's strange to me that with just the humidity and fog we accumulate well over a quarter inch of frost on the ground and cars. With no rain or snow, the park is flocked in white and windows must be scraped. Tosca loves to run on the frozen leaves, the crunching under foot. The colder the day, the more excited the dogs are to be outside.
Did I mention that our neighbor is amazing? She is a professional Bohemian making her living from decoupage, sewn paper art, and renting booth space to other vendors at the weekly market in Blå, a local jazz club. She has loaned us not just the table but a kilim rug, two stools, a small bookshelf. She has allowed the dogs into her flat, which her 13 year old daughter loves, and been friendly and helpful. As S put it, she seems to be single handedly trying to tear down the stereotype of cold introverted Norwegians who are difficult to get to know.
The holidays are upon us. While we are glad to be together and looking forward to our first Oslo Christmas, our 5th anniversary, and S's birthday, we are really going to miss our family and friends and our traditions with them. With everything move realted so pushed back and the house not having sold yet, I will be missing not just any vacation to see relatives but my sister's long awaited wedding. I have known her fiancee since he was a little boy and our families have long been fast friends and intertwined. The happy couple have been together a long time, built a house together, worked together, travelled, moved to Hawaii and back. So this event is more of a public acknowledgement and celebration than the transition it can be for so many people. But that doesn't make it any less important. We will climb the hill, watch the fireworks erupt all over the city from every backyard and street corner and toast the new year and the celebration 5000 miles away.
There's so much more to chat about: the different way Norwegians decorate their trees, the choice they are given as a teenager between Confirmation in the church or Ethical Humanism, about seeing a crate of clementines for the tiny sum of 25 kroner just after reading about illegal migrant workers being exploited to pick clementines in Italy. But it's time to wake the family, make breakfast, and do a bit a shopping before the stores close for the next 3 days. A lady at work was talking about that special sense of calm and relief that a Norwegian gets when they know there's enough cream in the house. That's our goal for the day, to achieve the contentment of a full larder before a holiday.
God Jul Y'all!