Monday, 11 December 2017

Christmas preparations

I don't think I have ever been so slow with preparing and decorating for Christmas as this year. I have a good excuse of course: I had a massive cold recently and I do work on occasion as well. Another hindrance to getting to it, is the fact that everything is stored in the loft. Which is 'easily' accessible, yet not so easy at the same time. The stairs to the loft are actually a sort of glorified ladder!

Anyway, after having gotten down my Christmas clothes last week, yesterday I got two more crates down. One filled with knit wear (ie my wreath and my nativity scene) and the other filled with hangings of some sort or other. The first one (and largest one) was emptied out and then filled up again as well. With lots of dvd's. What with family coming over (although not staying, apart from my sister), I need room. For Christmas decorations, dining table and a tree. 

Which meant that I would need to clear out some other things. Dvd's do take up quite some room, so now I only have the Christmas Dvd's out and some other films I wouldn't mind seeing again. All other films and series (apart from Doctor Who of course) have been crated up. Not sure where they will end up though. Since that staircase really is more of a ladder...

Ah well, so far so good and I have the first decorations up. Two weeks to go!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Oh wow!

You will probably know (I have been banging on about it often enough), that I knit and then sell mice. I always have a lot of fun making the small mice: picking the colours, trying (and often failing) to put everything on straight and eventually taking a photograph for them to be shown on my other blog Mice for Mama.

I am not too fond of making the large mice. They are exactly the same as the small ones, same amount of stitches, same everything. Just thicker thread and they turn out bigger. I just don't like making them. The thing is though: not many people like buying them either! So, I decided to only make them to order from now on. I still have two left for sale, but other than those: order only. 

The third type of mice I knit are the special mice. The seasonal ones. I made two for Halloween and I made two for Christmas. I love making them. Picking out a theme, thinking of what special attribute or look they should have and then finding everything I need to make that special mouse. So far, I have made a clown with big feet and pompoms, a Mouse of Frankenstein with spiders all over. A Santa Mouse with sack and teddy and an angel mouse with wings and halo. These however, I will NOT make to order.

As of today, all I have left for sale are two large mice and the two Halloween mice. Everything else was sold. The one colleague today who wanted a mouse couldn't choose between the five small ones I had left and took the lot! Which means that I basically have to get away from this computer and start knitting the first of next year's batch! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Brom has a birthday!!

Coocoo!!!

Guess what! It's my birthday today. Unfortunately Mara was at work all day long, but while she was away, I celebrated with Oswin and Mouse! We had a ball. 

But then Mara came home again and she gave me my gift. A very good gift, since I wanted something that showed I was Dutch for a long time. 

She got me clogs! Now I can clog dance!!

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

It's Calendar time!!

Miaow

Guess what, Mara had me pick this year's winners of her calendar! A bit of a consolation prize I think, but I did the job and now here I am to tell you all about. 

First of all, Mara wrote out all the names of the commenters on little pieces of paper. Then she scrunched them up and came looking for me. 

She threw all the little balls of paper in the air and I immediately caught the first winner. A very deserving one as well. 

Then she did it again and I sniffed another winner out! Again very deserving. Both of them have won before, so I hope they like this year's version. WITHOUT ME!!!!

Oh, and congratulations to Yamini and Janice Adcock. The calendars will be sent this week Mara says.


Monday, 4 December 2017

Quiz

I enjoy a quiz. I really do. I watch University Challenge and sometimes I actually understand the question. Even more sometimes I can answer it! I have a knowledge of a lot of things. Useless knowledge mainly, but on occasion it works. When watching a quiz for example.

But I also like to participate in a quiz. In fact, in my younger years, while living in England, I was part of the pub quiz team. Every Sunday we would drive to another pub for our weekly fix. We weren't very good, but then again: we were mainly a group of young people who knew nothing about the world yet. And the fact that we ended in last place? Fine with us! During my second year I couldn't do it anymore: a different job meant I wasn't free on Sunday evenings anymore. 

Recently I have been taking part in three quizzes. The first one was during the union course. Our team won. The second one was again during the union course. We won again, but some said we had cheated and when the deciding question came: we came up with nothing. So, we lost. 

I was the only there who had 'dressed up' for Christmas.
Dress, earrings and headband
The last time was last Friday. A local radio station had organised the Big Christmas Quiz at a local hotel. I was part of one of the 67 teams that took part. My colleagues felt that my knowledge of all things Eurovision (don't know that much really) would help us secure a win. And if that failed: my knowledge of Christmas films. 

It turned out I didn't know any of the answers. All the questions were on local people, sports, events and places. No Eurovision, no geography, no flags, no useless knowledge. And no Christmas, which I found to be quite strange since it was the Big Christmas Quiz! 

Halfway through we were right in the middle with our 14 points. The top team at that point had 28. And then the strangest thing happened. Even though we only got 12 more points (according to us anyway), we won. We actually won! We got the cup and we got the prize (five-course dinner plus a sleep-over plus breakfast for two for each of us). 

We still don't know how it happened and we may never know. But it was a nice way to start December!

Update: Late Sunday night (I wrote this post on Sunday afternoon) it was announced that there had been some problems with Excel, which resulted in the wrong team (ie us) winning. In other words: we did not win. Not even close to winning. I wonder whether we can keep the cup though?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Photo on Sunday 2017-41

It was cold in Haugesund the past few days. Freezing in fact! 

Unfortunately the tap had not been turned off inside and the drip drip drip had frozen over into a popsicle!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Give-away and charity

It's the last stretch! Only a few more days to have a chance of winning one of the two desk-top calendars. Make your way over to THIS POST and leave a comment. That's all you need to do, if you haven't done so already of course!

In other news: several charities have been mentioned to me for next year's Mice for Mama charity, either through this blog or through Facebook. If you know of any other ones that fulfill the criteria for next year, please leave a comment with the link. 

The ones so far: Guide dogs for the Blind (Norway), suggested by yours truly. People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (UK), help sponsor a sick animal when the owner him/herself can't afford it, suggested by Yamini. Dueker Ranch Therapeutic Horse Center (USA), suggested by Christine S and Paws to People (USA), finding cures for illnesses that hit both humans and people, suggested by Sue S. More are welcome. 

The criteria for next year's charity are: 
  • Interaction between animal and human. 
  • It can be any type of animal (dogs, horses, cats, guinea pigs, elephants, spiders to name but a few)
  • It does need to be a trusted charity, location is of secondary importance. 

The final charity will be picked out by my Mama (and yes, Papa as well) at the end of the year. 

PS: if you have any trouble opening any of the links to the charities, please let me know.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

So, does it work?


The question I have been asked quite a bit recently is exactly that one: does it work? And it refers of course to the physiotherapy. The honest answer to that is: I don't know. I have a feeling, but I have had those type of feelings before and they were always (proved) wrong.

The thing is, I will usually go without a headache for up to two weeks and the last time I had one was November 14th. Just over two weeks ago. Granted, it was only a level 1, meaning I could work and was not hindered much by it and the next day it did not grow into a level 3 headache, which would usually have happened. Positive!

This week however, would be the clincher. According to the old pattern I would be due a headache. Guess what: I got one! 

Now don't all sigh in frustration (I certainly don't), because this is NOT a tension headache. Nor is it a migraine. I have an absolute stinking cold and that always comes with a side order of headache! Which means I am keeping warm (hard to do in a bus that is -4 degrees when you start her up), drinking lots, swallowing paracetamol to keep the fever at bay and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself. 

My nose is the same colour as that jacket and hat
On the subject of a cold though: where does all that snot come from??

Monday, 27 November 2017

Early

It was early in the morning of the 26th. The lorry was coming that day and we had some last minute business to finish off. Once the lorry arrived, it was soon filled with the stuff that was going. And before long, it drove off. Carrying the stuff to a new life.

It was even earlier in the morning of the 27th. It was the day that I would follow the stuff to a new life. 

I don't remember too much of those last two/three days in the Netherlands. Yes, I spent one day at my friends' house making silly things. Yes, they were early mornings. But I think part of me worked on auto-pilot. 

I had forgotten about the snow though
I do remember quite well those first few days in Norway though. The tension, the bad nights, the loneliness, the newness. I knew nothing and nobody, I hardly understood anybody (although they understood me just fine). It was hard! 

Over time (read a few weeks) I got used to things. I got to know people. Having my sister come over for Christmas was great (in fact, she is coming again this year) and very helpful. 

Today it has been five years since moving to Norway. What will the future hold?

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Shopping

I needed several things. Like food and drink. I wanted to get some more metallic thread and I needed to pick up my soup terrine. So bright and early this morning, I made my way to the shops. 

Miracle of miracles, I kept myself to the list I made. Which wasn't long at all. I got the food I needed and I did not put any 'treats' in the cart alongside. The next shop was the craft shop. As I said I wanted some metallic thread and perhaps some other little craft-type thing. No thread, but some small other things. I was doing great!

I bought the one at the top. The others I already had.
Then it was time to change the shopping center. Metallic thread? Still no, but I did get some lovely Christmas fabric. My soup terrine had come in, but had had a fault and had been sent back. The likelihood of it arriving in time for Christmas was slim to non-existent. I got another terrine. Christmassy, nice and (best of all) cheaper! I got part of the booze I needed, but the Madeira only came in large bottles. I only need a small amount, so I would need to head into town after all!

First though, I went home with the shopping so far, put it away, got Miss O inside, gave her a treat for being a good girl and then headed out again: this time to take the bus into town. Still on the hunt for metallic thread, I made my way to the shops I like to frequent. The first one came up empty and the second one had only one colour I didn't have yet. They did have some lovely Christmas fabric though...

Next stop: the Vinmonopolet*. I had seen small bottles of Madeira there before and fortunately they still had them. I got myself one. And then... I took the bus home! I feel really pleased with myself for being such a good girl. Where did I put my treats?

'Dram' glasses. Oh, and Miss O's foot.
Oh no! I had forgotten: I had actually bought something that I did NOT need. Just because it looked so pretty and Christmassy... I guess no treat for me!

*Vinmonopolet: Wine Monopoly in English. Basically the only place you can buy alcohol in Norway. Apart from beer and low percentage wine I think which is sold in supermarkets as well. There are two such places close to me: one in the center of town and the other in a shopping center close by. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Animals and humans

A human (well, me) and a pussycat
I am looking for a new charity for next year. For what you ask? Where have you been? For Mice for Mama* of course! The first two choices have been made: out of animal, vegetable or mineral you chose animal. And then the majority of you picked option C: animals and humans. So, that's what it's going to be! 

There are however so many charities out there, that I find it hard to find one, let alone pick! There is a horse riding for the disabled charity in the UK, pets for vets in the USA, dogs for the blind in Norway (and a lot of other countries in the world). But... what is your suggestion? 

Yamini sponsored this beauty called Isaac to be a fully fledged guide dog
So, here's what I am asking of you this time: the name and location of a charity (preferably one you know personally and trust) that deals with animals and humans. It can be anywhere in the world, local, national or international. 

*Mice for Mama: where you can find a mouse to share your bed/travels/life. Or somebody else's for that matter! Half of the price of the sold mice goes to the chosen charity. This year's charity is a Dutch charity called the Stomach Liver and Bowel Foundation. Very close to my parents' hearts (and mine), since my mother (hence Mice for Mama) suffered from bowel cancer earlier this year. Fortunately she has been given the all clear a few months ago. 

Detail of one of the special Christmas mice
If you want to order a mouse, here are a few pointers: the last batch will come out on December 1st. The batch will include two special Christmas mice. If you want the mouse/mice to arrive before Christmas, it would be wise to order before December 5th. Just so you know!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Brom goes to school

Coocoo!

Long time no see, but I was a wee bit on the tired side after my lovely holiday in the Bonny Land. I got spoiled rotten by Auntie Yam, but I did miss home. But now I am back and guess what: I went on a tour as well.

"On the road again"
Last time it was Mouse who joined Mara on that weekend course, this time I got to come! First we took the bus to the hotel where we checked in. I was left in the room while Mara went down for the first evening's dinner and school work.

Can you spot the slice of cucumber?
The next day though I was raring to go. We started with a good breakfast. There were sausages and egg and bacon and salmon. Mara says it was quite yum.

Then we went to the classroom where everybody (some alone, some in pairs) had to give a presentation. Mara and her partner did a presentation about the 'Battle of Menstad'. It happened in 1931 and basically was a conflict between employer and employees. It is very important in the history of the Union, because one effect it had was bring about a Basic Agreement that is still used (with alterations of course) today. 

Yum
After the first half was done it was time for lunch. Which Mara said was really yum! I am only showing the dessert here, but it was certainly a goody! 

Then, once lunch was over, it was back to the school room and more presentations. Mara said she learned a great deal during those presentations, which I gather is good, since it was school after all!!

It's tea! Honestly!!
Early in the evening we finished and it was time for a pre-dinner drink. A glass of tea she said. Well, Tatra-Tea. Made in the Tatra Mountains in the North of Slovakia. 52%, so I guess it wasn't exactly tea. It tasted good though (I had a sip, but it was quite strong).

Dinner itself was in a restaurant in town. I got to come along as well: I had to keep an eye on Mara after that tea!! Later that evening there was another quiz. Mara's team won again, but somebody said they had cheated and they had one point deducted. That way they were equal with the team that ended in second place and there had to be a face-off. Which Mara's team lost! But, it was a good night anyway.

Saturday's dinner
Sunday started bright and early again. This time we got a little presentation from the teacher, which gave Mara even more information she didn't know about. They had some more work to do in groups and then it was nearly time for lunch and going home. 

If school is like this, I don't mind going every week!!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Photo on Sunday 2017-39

Taken last Sunday, early in the morning. Well, a quarter past nine, but that is early for the Norwegian sun! I tried to take a photo of just the clouds, but my camera said no. But this is nice too!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Done! (I think)

Today I put the finishing touches to our presentation. My partner had written most of the same of what I had done, but he said we were using mine! Smiley face. I just wanted some photos included in our presentation, so had to chase the google machine to find some I wanted to use. 

Then I had to rush to the physio for another turn. He worked my neck (ouch) and my back (ouch) and in the end I felt fine. Isn't it amazing how he can seemingly break your neck and you come out feeling better than you did before! 

I got the tires on the car changed. Haugesund is not known for its huge amounts of snow, but driving on summer tires during the winter is not something I relish doing. So, the spiky tires are back on and they are noisy as usual. 

I had to get some cat food for a certain Miss who will be staying home, holding the fort together with Mouse. Because this time Brom gets to come. He has recovered from his trip to Scotland (it took a wee while) and is raring to go! 

And then (shock horror) I got me some scarves. Yes, you read it right. Scarves! Not the keep warm in winter ones either, more the look pretty at any time of year ones. That Flying Duck scarf I bought from Yamini has gotten me addicted.

Well, that's it from me. Just filling you in on what's happening in Casa Mara

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Romantic

Once upon a time I would drive groups of men who hadn't seen their wives and girlfriends for a couple of weeks. On our way home they would buy little stuffed animals with hearts and such. They would phone their wives/girlfriends and there would be a lot of 'miss you' and 'kissy kissy' going on. Okay, and once a porn film, but that is another story altogether.

Anyway, when seeing what those men did and hearing what they said, my stomach usually tried to a few somersaults. I felt that if I had a boyfriend/husband who behaved like that, we would need to have some serious discussions! Mind you, some might think it's romantic. 

The boyfriend who was romantic with me one day, did not come with teddy bears and roses. He did not say smooshy words on the telephone. He brought painkillers and the most regular bar of chocolate he had in his cupboard. But to me, that was so romantic (the relationship didn't last. Lack of romance on my part really). 

When I started my current reading frenzy (read something with some cultural oomph), I was told Dr Zhivago might be good! It was romantic after all....

It was worse than the kissy kissies. It was worse than the stuffed animals. And there was not a rose in sight either. Instead there was revolution. Attempted murders. A young girl led astray by a much older man. Hunger. Terror. A man with an arm and a leg cut off as a warning. Deportation. War. Burnt down villages. Ruined crops. Oh, and there was a two-timing B^%$#@^d. Well, three-timing really! 

I don't know what some people call romantic. But honestly: dismemberment and war are romantic? A married man having it off with not one, but two other women and yes, having children with both of them! 

Juliet's balcony in Verona. 
All that aside though: I thought the book was really good. Once I got into it, which took a few chapters. Having read the (abridged) Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitzyn helped me to understand some concepts Pasternak was talking about, mainly about the deportations and the gulags. The translators (Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) did a great job. The footnotes they provided helped as well, explaining about the Russian Orthodox Church and its rituals and several other things like the revolution and its aftermath. 

So, what's next? Well, ehm... probably a simple romance novel where a boy and a girl meet, have a fight, fall in love and live happily ever after. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Men's wear

Nice and toasty, but not really fit for work
Today I had my second appointment with my physio (same torture, but less painful) and after that I went on the hunt for gloves. 

I had lovely gloves. Really nice ones. Leather. Comfy. Warm enough. They did not hold up very well when moving a fridge...

Great for making snowballs, but a bit too chunky
So, new gloves were needed. Leather, comfy, warm enough. But for some reason there didn't seem to be my type of gloves in the shops. In the end I admitted defeat: men's wear! Surely they must have some! And they did. Cheap as well (0,95 euro or even better: 0 Icelandic kroner). But (there's always a but, isn't there?) they were the wrong size. They were large and I need medium. He checked the other store: nope. A third store: nope! Grrr.

Perfect. Well, almost...
I did buy another pair. They are leather. Comfy. Warm enough. They just aren't the really nice ones I wanted. They did however come in medium...

Oh, and just so you know: I do NOT have abnormally large hands. But men's gloves just seem to have a better fit for me.