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 â€œHow would you like to try living in the US for a while?â€ I wasÂ gobsmacked. Weâ€™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.
We left Norway in bits and pieces â€“ first saying goodbye to the olderÂ 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 â€“ 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 Iâ€™ve ever experienced (-31C / -24F) – boarding a plane on February 17th to start a new life.
We landed in North Carolina to sunshine and summer-in-Norway temperatures. Within weeks I got to see spring unfoldâ€¦ 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.
Iâ€™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.)
In late April I asked my momÂ what kind of chickens they used to have here – I rememberÂ Grandma incubating eggs in the spare bedroom, but have only dim memories of actual chickens. â€œDomineckers!â€ she finally figured out.Â The Dominique is aÂ heritage breed – probably Americaâ€™s oldest breed of chicken. Perfect! I found a farm within driving distance and picked up 11 fluffy three day old chicks.
Nine have survived to adulthood â€“ three cockrels who crow morning, noon and night and six hens who have just started laying teeny tiny eggs for us!Â (The eggs will get bigger – they’re only 4.5 months old now.)
Iâ€™ve also been hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones. My childhood friend Allison went with me to meet Liza â€“ of Merritt Farm Alpacas â€“ who Iâ€™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 â€œme!!â€ before I even knew what was happening. Dad and I got to work building an alpaca shed / chicken coop and Brichon â€“ aka Scout, aka Mater â€“ and Poocher â€¦
…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 â€“ 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 didnâ€™t get hit by traffic and wound up adopting the sweetest dog in the universe. My husband christened her Audrey III.
I love her to distraction.
So yeah, I’m havingÂ a Very Good Time – despite missing my friends and family in Norway.Â Â (Men vi ses igjen!!)Â Â Hopefully – assuming you’ve noticed I went missing -Â you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive meÂ for leaving you hanging about blocking…?