Out of the frying pan…

Amy – upon receiving my first Techniques with Theresa contribution in over a year – asked me if I’d like to talk about what I’ve been up to since leaving you with a “Part One” – yet Part Two-less – for way too long. Here’s my story.

Last fall, my husband turned to me suddenly and said “How would you like to try living in the US for a while?” I was gobsmacked. We’d talked about this for years in a vague, theoretical kind of way. But having lived in Norway since 1999, I felt at least half Norwegian. I love my adopted country and my Norwegian family, had learned to speak the language fluently, was thriving in my job and had made many wonderful friends. But the other half of me was ready to go home.

Home is western North Carolina and the house that my grandparents built in the 1950s, next door to my parents, in a small town where most conversations (with locals at least) start by trying to figure out who in my enormous extended family they already know.

Last view from window on Hattemakerlia

We left Norway in bits and pieces – first saying goodbye to the older of my husband’s gorgeous daughters as she went back to college, leaving work, taking my beloved cat, Stewart, to his new home at a horse farm – complete with three sweet little girls, two lady cats and a Bernese Mountain Dog – then moving out of the house…

… hugging the younger step-daughter one last time and finally – after a weekend of the coldest temperatures I’ve ever experienced (-31C / -24F) – boarding a plane on February 17th to start a new life.

Oh, the poppies are blooming.

We landed in North Carolina to sunshine and summer-in-Norway temperatures. Within weeks I got to see spring unfold… and the dogwoods bloom for the first time in a decade. The peonies, poppies and tulips that my Grandma planted came up.

I planted sweet peas. Onions. Garlic. Three kinds of tomatoes. Pickling cucumbers. Sixteen squash plants. Popcorn and sweet corn. Green beans and okra. Watermelon. Fingerling potatoes. Jalapenos and banana peppers. Rutabaga, turnips and lettuce. Flowers and herbs.

Bean pole + squash

I’ve spent the summer making preserves, jam, jellies, pickles, salsa, sauerkraut and ketchup. Dried beans for leather britches and frozen enough squash to last at least a couple of years. (Biggest lesson learned: Nobody needs 16 squash plants.)

Chicks, day 2

In late April I asked my mom what kind of chickens they used to have here – I remember Grandma incubating eggs in the spare bedroom, but have only dim memories of actual chickens. “Domineckers!” she finally figured out. The Dominique is a heritage breed – probably America’s oldest breed of chicken. Perfect! I found a farm within driving distance and picked up 11 fluffy three day old chicks.

Here chick chick chick, here chicks!

Nine have survived to adulthood – three cockrels who crow morning, noon and night and six hens who have just started laying teeny tiny eggs for us! (The eggs will get bigger – they’re only 4.5 months old now.)

I’ve also been hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones. My childhood friend Allison went with me to meet Liza – of Merritt Farm Alpacas – who I’d bought fiber from on a previous visit and she happened to mention needing a new home for two alpacas. My hand flew into the air and I shouted “me!!” before I even knew what was happening. Dad and I got to work building an alpaca shed / chicken coop and Brichon – aka Scout, aka Mater – and Poocher …

Alpacas, dude.

…came to live with us in the beginning of June. Fiber animals!! I was starting to live the dream. All I needed now was a dog.

A few weeks later my stepkid Amalie – here visiting us and the pool for the summer – and I were driving through town and saw an abandoned dog sitting on the side of the road at a busy intersection. We stopped to make sure the poor thing didn’t get hit by traffic and wound up adopting the sweetest dog in the universe. My husband christened her Audrey III.

And there's that look again.

I love her to distraction.

So yeah, I’m having a Very Good Time – despite missing my friends and family in Norway.  (Men vi ses igjen!!)  Hopefully – assuming you’ve noticed I went missing - you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me for leaving you hanging about blocking…?

 

*Spread the joy!*

(169 Posts)

24 thoughts on “Out of the frying pan…

  1. Helen

    So glad it’s all going well, lovely pics. I must confess, my first thought was about what had happened to Stewart so I’m glad to know that he’s well and busy. Any chance of a pic of him on the farm?

  2. Sherry in Idaho

    Golly, it has been years since I made leather britches. Thanks for the reminder. I quit making them when I got a pressure canner and just never thought about them again.

  3. missjulep

    Wow! What a life! I remember reading your blog when you were talking about your new life in Norway. Thanks for sharing the rest of your wonderful story.

  4. LauraSue

    Hi. Welcome home. I live in Asheville, about to move to Bakersville. Hope to see you at SAFF. If you’re there, come say hi. I’m in the Fleece Show.

  5. Spring

    Welcome (or welcome back) to world of chicken lovers! We have a small flock of 9,too! There’s a “chicken-loving fiber fanatics” group on Ravelry, please join us!

  6. Beth

    Your blog brought a smile to my face. I can just imagine how it is now. Sorry you had to leave Stewart. Will you get another cat? Enjoy the fruits of your labors this winter.

  7. Amber

    Hard work, building an idyll, but you seem to have managed! Looking forward to more techniques columns. Since years ago, when your blog taught me 3-stitch i-cord bindoff and kitchener stitch, you’ve been my go-to!

  8. Carol Y

    How could we not forgive you? You’ve been having a wonderful adventure and I’m having serious alpaca envy.

  9. Susan

    Sherry knew, but I don’t know….what are “leather britches”????? Western NC (and North Georgia)….just a sneeze short of heaven….enjoy…I’m headed to Saluda next week to visit dear friends and enjoy the mountains…

  10. Bellafiore

    I don’t know you, but thanks for sharing your lovely story. I really enjoyed it (here on a blustery WI morning). You are truly living the dream, gardening and knitting and raising your own fibers. Hopefully you’ll find a great kitty soon too! Thanks for sharing.

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