Time killer post....boredom warning, read at your own risk.

I'm not kidding. The rule I have been following is: Don't post unless there is something interesting or important to write about. Well....I'm bored and I've been having some Seinfeld'ish observations regarding my surroundings. My apologies.

One of the things I've noticed both in Great Britain and in Norway is that there are very few garbage cans....but it isn't dirty. I started to notice this when I yelled at Sara for not being able to find a garbage can in the airport and stomped off mumbling to myself, "How hard can it be to find a garbage can?". Well....turns out I had to stomp around for quite a while until I found what might have been a garbage related bag and put the sandwhich wrapper in it. It seems that in Great Britain the "janitorial arts" consists of a vast army of people tasked with cleaning the country and if they put garbage cans everywhere these people wouldn't have anything to do.

I have also found that there are some things we take for granted in the U.S. that aren't as readily available in other countries. I will say that I am still not widely travelled, so I will correct this if I find that it changes later. 

Bathrooms are few and far between....and if you do find one in Norway you better have a 10 Kroner coin available as you may find yourself shut out. I also found this out at an unfortunate time. It would have been nice if I had discovered this and wisely tucked 10 Kroner in my pocket. Next time you are in the mall and have need to run into the well lit, clean, mega bathrooms, remember this. I've since figured out that I just have to look harder and get better at reading signs.

Parking and ice cubes have been covered in previous posts.

The big meat dish here is Reindeer. I haven't figure out yet if I am going to partake. Mostly because I'm not sure how I would feel at Christmas when Sam started asking awkward questions about Donner and Blitzen and looking at me funny.

That ought to about cover the boredom. I said my observations were Seinfeld'ish, but I don't think I really got to that level. Have a great weekend.

Some of this, a little of that.

Seems our Norwegian friends are enjoying Florida quite a bit. Our pool seems to be the biggest attraction. Every time I talk to them they mention how much they love it. It makes me feel a little guilty since we took the pool for granted a bit and don't use it as much as we probably should. They have also enjoyed Busch Gardens, which is very near our house, a couple of times. I'm a little concerned that they may not leave and there is going to be a confrontation at some point.

I have spent some time on the phone with mom and dad this week and they are doing well. Chemo went well, but they had to remove my dads PIC line as it had a couple of issues. I think this sounds like a rotten deal since that is the way he was getting his intravenous medication relatively pain free. Just plug him in and fill him up. They are putting a new one in next week I think. I have lost track of the number of treatments he has received, but the doctor plans on doing another PET scan after 8 treatments. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this upcoming event since everyone has calmed down a bit. I would hate to see anything introduce more drama. Drama is exhausting.

On that note...there is no drama here, although I did get a parking ticket in a language I don't even understand. Apparently parking lots are a bit different here and they aren't very sympathetic to my "I don't speak / read Norwegian". By the way...wayward parking in Alesund will set you back 300 Kroner or $50.00. 

Here are a couple of pictures with the usual gray weather in them. We are told it will start to get a bit brighter here in the next month or so. Talk to you soon.

Sara's school

How's this for a title?

A quick post as an excuse to get a couple of the pictures up.

Our trip to the Atlantershavsvegen, or however you really spell it, went well. We picked the dreariest day of the year to travel the vacant mountain roads of Norway, but we survived. We are going to go back when the weather is better since the scenery is best served in the Spring. Here are a couple of shots that prove we were there.

Funny thing on the way back. There and back we had to travel on a ferry to cross a fjord. This ferry had all the trappings of a NY ferry. Park the car, go upstairs, sit in the lounge area and have a sandwich or a drink. Very comfortable. The funny thing was that while we were sitting there my phone started beeping. Without going into much detail, I bought an Internet phone to make free calls to and from the U.S. before leaving, but its usage has been pretty disappointing outside of the home we are staying in. Well...turns out that the ferry had wireless Internet across the fjord and we were able to make a few phone calls to people while travelling on a ferry in the middle of nowhere really. Downtown London I get nothing....middle of fjord...no problem.

The Orion paragraph
Dad has chemo today. Yesterday was changed so that he could attend the funeral of his friend Kirby. We talked a bit. He continues to sound more like himself. We talked a little baseball and some other goofy things. He is finished with his rehab schedule, so we can hopefully close that chapter of recovery.

More soon.

Caveman Norsk

After two weeks in Norway I have mastered the language. No really. My breakthrough moment came when I successfully ordered a hot dog at the Norwegian equivalent of the 7-11. Ok....so I haven't really mastered any language and have concluded that I am probably one of those people who will never master another language. Jen and Sara seem blessed with the language gene and are probably frustrated that I seem to bungle even the easiest of words. I have practised and managed to memorize the Norwegian phrase "I don't understand". This seems to set all Norwegians at ease when they realize that they won't have to actually speak with me. I have also managed to shyly squeak out the phrase "Do you speak English?", but it is usually met with a kind of cringe face. After talking with my neighbor here I think it is because Norwegians are also intimidated by speaking English and cringe when they have to recall their school age lessons in English. They do a good job though. I'll have to let them know.  : )

Jen is quite proud of her increasing language skills, but already speaks 50 languages, so good for her.  : )   Sara will tell you she completely understands everything, but after watching Sponge Bob square pants in Norwegian I noticed she didn't think he was as funny in Norwegian as he is in English. It is too early to tell if Sam is a linguist, but he has a better shot at it than I did I think. Tommorrow I am going to get my haircut, so another adventure in charades is probably coming. It's a good thing my hair "style" is probably as simple as it is. 

On a sadder note I have saved my last paragraph to tell you that my fathers friend Kirby has passed away. I know my father is very saddened by this, and this makes me feel ever worse. I have known Kirby for a long time also and am sorry to see him go. I recently had breakfast with Kirby, Mike, and my dad and I am happy I got to harass him one last time about his Cubs and probably a few other things. I will probably not be as upset this year if the Cubs take a series from the Cardinals because I know it would have made Kirby happy. RIP our friend.

Thanks for checking in everyone. Be back soon with some pictures.

Could you repeat that please?


It has a line all to itself so that you can fully take it in, roll it around in your mouth a bit and try it over and over again. Once you grow tired of that exercise you can cut and paste it into google to find out what I'm talking about...or read on.

This weekend the adventure is Atlanterhavsveien. There, I linked it to save you the trouble. We are probably two hours away from this "attraction", so we will probably make a day of it trying to find additional trouble on the way.  Sam is referring to our adventure as "going to see the roller coaster road". I hope he enjoys it.

My dad is still doing well. We have a chemo appt. coming up on Monday. He drove again a little the other day, but it is really his eyesight that keeps him off the road rather than any effects from his recent troubles. On a side note, Kirby, a friend of my fathers, who has been a good buddy and helper to my mom and dad is in the hospital, in ICU. He isn't doing very well. Any good wishes that we've used for Larry in the past sure would help I think.

"Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand..."

Bonus for knowing the movie the title is from.

It's been a quiet couple of days here in Norway. We are forced to do normal every day life things like shop, go to school, work, clean. Everyone told us before we came here that Norway was an expensive proposition, but I'll be the one to tell you that it is a hit or miss proposition. Prior to figuring out the currency conversion we were burned by this at none other than McDonalds. A couple of days ago we were wandering the area and thought it might be funny to visit McDonalds in another country. After ordering and getting our food the cashier asked for 270 Kroner. I took out a big pile of money that looked like Monopoly cash, and shoved a pile of it her way. About halfway through a Big Mac I was able to do the math and found that dinner for 4 cost me $40. We soon found out that no one in Norway really eats at McDonalds...and for good reason. We have since figured out that there are some expensive items here and others that are reasonable. The math is killing me though. 

A couple of other things that I find interesting. Roundabouts. I have encountered roundabouts, or traffic circles, in Bermuda previously, but this is the first time finding them on the correct side of the road. I wonder why we don't have them in the states. They are very efficient.

Still haven't solved the ice mystery and I'm not googling it. 

People don't wave at you here when they pass you in the car...I think they think we are weird.

You think you can get by without speaking the language until you try to read a recipe or food directions. 

I talked with dad on the "phone" today before writing this. All is well. Don't ask my mom about their vehicles. It will lead you down a depressing road. Sunny, our dog, seems to be adapting to the fast paced life of an Orion resident, but she was pretty much in that mode already.


We had a great day Saturday. We ventured into the nearby town of Aalesund to check out what we missed in the 2:00 am, semi-conscious, drive to our house. If any of you have searched or clicked the link somewhere deeper in the blog for Aalesund, you will know what we found. Aalesund is beautiful, even on a winter day full of slush and snow. There are a bunch of things to do in the town, but we pretty much reserved the afternoon for simply wandering around. Sam was amazed by the boats and we stopped to watch a number of fishing boats come into the harbor. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Do a search for either Alesund or Aalesund and take a look at the history of the town, it is interesting also.

After we returned to the house we found the neighbors gathered in what I'm now going to refer to as the "circle". The island in the middle of the cul de sac. Curiously it was the adults gathered there building a snow princess. The kids, and now Sam, were sledding and having a snowball war. The adults were very into this sculpture of theirs and told me that we moved into a neigborhood of "not so normal" Norwegians. Person after person came by to offer suggestions on how to enhance the Princess, and then turned to ask me why I wasn't in Florida and all sorts of other questions. After meeting about 10 of the neighbors we decided to call it a day. The sculpture was finished, the people all wandered off to watch the Norwegian version of American Idol, and it was dinner time.

No. Seriously. I won't even mention it.

I can't believe you fell for that title. Of course I'm gonna mention it. It snows here every day! Another 6-8 inches last night. Crazy. I know you're getting tired of hearing about it, but I feel that I can build some sympathy from Joe and Chris in Land O Lakes. I know they wish they were shoveling snow.

Anyhow...this isn't about that. This is just an excuse to post some pictures. To keep my "I love Larry" sponsors happy. He's doing the same. Pretty good. Apparently went and spent or increased his retirement funds at one of the local casinos. I'm telling on him also. He went for a drive...from the drivers seat. Don't tell his doctor.

Ok. Here's some pictures. Apparently the water seen in previous pictures is full of cruise ships in the summer as tourists make their way in and out of the fjords. We hope to get out for some sort of excursion this weekend even if it is to change the backdrop of our pictures.


"Let it snow!, let it snow!..." Aw hell...I'm not even convincing myself.

My new neighbor insists that it never snows this much and certainly not every day, but I think he might be playing a Norwegian trick on me. He was kind enough to snow blow the snow off the drive this morning, all 6 inches or so of it. I think we've seen over a foot since we got here. It's all in the experience I guess.

I talked with Dad on the "phone" yesterday. Everything seems to be on track. He is slated to be discharged from his rehab activity and will begin going to the gym to stay on pace. I had them both on the video camera, talking over Skype, which has turned out to be quite an impressive tool. We have had video / phone calls with 3 or 4 different people since we arrived. Web cam, cheap headset, and a free download and you have free calls with others who have the service. All in all Dads speech is good, apparently the only restriction he has is driving, and he seems in good spirits.

Here is a picture from this morning as the snow was clearing.

This, that, and the other thing.

I don't have any new pictures and I don't have any new news from Orion, but I do have some thoughts, observations and complaints about travelling and other travel related things.

Standing in line:
Living in Florida and visiting theme parks like Universal and Disney I've done my fair share of standing in line. I have had few problems doing so. In the last two weeks I have been pushed aside, bumped aside and just plain "line cut" no fewer than a dozen times. It seems that there is not much international respect for "the line". I have taken to defending my place in line, strategically placing luggage and my children in the way of possible offenders.

Why doesn't the rest of the world use ice? I can't figure out what the reason is. Seriously. 

I have discovered the wonder of having multiple comforters for sleeping. Here we each have a small comforter in the same bed. This way we don't battle for the covers. You can each have separate thicknesses for comfort. When we get back we are adopting this one
Next time you are in a Supermarket, know that there is a reason they are called "Super". Comparing the Land O Lakes Publix with the markets I have come across here, the differences are extreme. Noting bad...just different.
Big Ben is the name of the bell, not the tower.

Snow days
Boy if you lived here you would never expect a snow day again.

That is most of it for now. Sara had a blast at her school today. She survived the swim and made some new friends already. They are all anxious to try their English out on her. The neighbors here are also very nice. Our luck continues to hold.

Norway our way...

Today we finally overcame some of our jet lag and went out into our new Scandinavian world. Words and even some of the pictures can't describe the location we are in. I am adding a couple of pictures we took. One is looking out the kitchen window, one is the Norwegian train stop where no trains apparently arrive (see previous post), and the third is a sledding expedition right outside our door.

The house we are using is wonderful, built by our exchange family on a cul de sac in a town? called Emblem. The little cul de sac has 4-5 houses in it and all seem to have children of various ages. We went sledding with a group of them today and they were very nice and friendly, even helping Sam with his sled at times. They speak only a little bit of english, so we are trying to learn their language. 

We also walked to a school today where Sara will be "studying". Her first scheduled event for tomorrow is swimming. That ought to be interesting. She inquired whether it was an indoor pool or not. The local school has agreed to let her attend school simply for the cultural value that everyone will receive. She is thrilled.

We couldn't be happier and wish all of you could join us. In fact...if you're in the area, you are absolutely welcome.

Here are the promised pictures with more to come as we get better oriented.

Spring in Orion

Hi, Don't we wish, suppose to have rain later, beginning to look like it.
Larry had his 5th chemo, today, and everything went o.k., he is sleeping right now.
His INR bleeding time on comadin, is now 1.8 on the low side, just waiting for it to stay between 2 and 3, so we don't have to keep changing doses, his hemoglobin is over 11 and that is good for him. We go for rehab and white count shot tomorrow

17 hours, taxi, bus, train, plane, ferry...Norway

As I typed the title I was just joking, but I soon realized that we had travelled by every one of those options to get here at 3:00 this morning.  We picked up our exchangers car at 1:12 in the little Airport in Alesund only to find that we had until 1:35 to get the last ferry across to their home. Let me tell you.....I've driven in some bad conditions, but this one topped the charts. Let's have a look. 
  • Someone else's car
  • Different country
  • Snowing / sleeting - snow covered roads.
  • Deadline to get from point A to point B
  • Sleep deprived.
  • Did I mention it was a different country?
Ya know what? Not one wrong turn until we were literally yards away from our destination.

Anyhow...I'm sitting in a kitchen in Norway typing this with the mountains to my back and who knows how many feet of snow on the ground. I'm sure we will measure it in "Sams" later on today. We are 6 hours ahead of you for 3 months, so set your clocks. My heart can't take calls at 3:00 a.m anymore.

I'll post pictures a little later as I get the technology back in order. Cheers!

All the way to London town...

From some nursery rhyme. Look it up. : )

Two pictures and off to bed. At some point I will get used to the time difference.

Doctors visit

Hi, We had rehab and a office call yesterday. Larry's INR is 2, which they were happy with, I would like it a little higher, but better than too high. He is doing o.k., needs to put on some weight, so got him some whole milk and trying milk shakes. Talked to Jon when they were in their hotel, flight went o.k. had lots to carry to train and bus . I'm now nervous because I can't contact them and they are 5 hours different.

Greetings from Orion

Hi everyone, I didn't know when Jon was going to be able to get on his computer, so I thought I'd write something. We have rehab and blood tests today, he says he is tired, so we'll see what the blood count is, here is hoping it is o.k. He will be done with speech rehab, next week, then occupational the next week, and the end of the month physical therapy. He still wants to drive, but I don't think physically he is ready, he is a good back seat driver.
Have a good day Wilma

Assorted stuff

Two days before the start of the trip everything seems to be coming together. I guess whatever doesn't come together will just have to sit there.

I'm glad to see that just before we fly into London to start this adventure that they have received the most snowfall they have seen in 20 years. I have no doubt that sightseeing in London is gonna be a cold, messy trek. Figures huh?

My mom managed to get her computer operating in proper fashion. We traded a phone call and video over the internet without much problem. I managed to catch a glimpse of Larry on the camera as he sat and had a few words with me too. I was impressed that they managed to buy a camera, download Skype, set it all up properly and actually make a call. Good job Mom. Medically I don't think there is anything all that new. I'll invite my mom to chime in on that front since she is now a technical expert.