Sunday, 22 August 2010

The American Dream

It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that my eldest nephew lives for cars – first of all amcars. Personally I belong to those people that view cars mainly as means of transport. Still, I have to admit I was a little impressed when this thing rumbled into the driveway the last time we were over in Skien.

A PONTIAC CATALINA from 1965. It’s not exactly in mint condition, but my newphew has big plans. I think he has bought himself a hobby – on the other hand that was probably what he wanted.
 MEN’S TALK. Obviously Hubby had to admire the 6,3 liter V8 engine. 
 SOME SERIOUS SOUND from the backseat will provide Elvis with the right rhythm to swing his hips. 
 OH, I WISH I WAS IN DIXIE... The car is imported from the US and has probably done a few miles on Route 66. Now it must get used to the narrow winding roads of Telemark. But the Dixie flag is there on the compulsory dice hanging from the rear view mirror. If Catalina should be homesick, I’m sure Elvis has some southern patriotism on his repertoire. 
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land. 

 BIG BONNET. One could probably park an electric car or two on that hood.

Perhaps Auntie will be invited for a little ride the next time we’re over in Skien. One can always hope. :-)

Friday, 20 August 2010


Sometimes a little hysteria is not out of place, I think. I must admit I felt that a shriek would be a fitting reaction when we found this little bugger hopping around in the laundry room.

However, I constrained myself.
You see, this happened just as we had a visitor and were showing our guest around the house: “And this is our laundry room. We’re redecorating due to water damage, so it’s a bit chaotic, as you can see… What the HELL???!!!” A fat warty toad, scared by the sudden light, bounced off and landed with a noisy splash in the open drain.
We just stood there, the three of us, staring dumbfounded at the toad, our guest looking a bit discomforted. Not that I blame her. It’s not like it’s easy to find something nice to say in situations like this. “So, you’ve got a few things to grapple with, I see,” she finally ventured.
“Eh, yeah, you could put it that way”, said Hubby, who was thinking exactly the same as me: “Aha!”
This would explain why, a few days previously, a frog turned up in Hubby’s boot. When we were over in Skien last weekend to help my mother in the garden, there was a bit of commotion when Hubby put his boots on and found something large and alive in one of them. Out fell a very dry and shell-shocked frog that had obviously travelled across the mountains with us. We couldn’t understand how on earth it had ended up there. Yes, there seems to be plenty of hopping and bouncing going on out in the garden, but the boots had been inside in the laundry room all the time.
When I saw the connection I felt my skin crawl. The thought that there might be dozens of disgusting warty animals lurking around the house made me panic slightly. Fortunately I didn’t find any, despite a discreet but intense search behind sofas and under beds. (You can imagine what it feels like to show off your house whilst scanning the floor for amphibians.)
Anyway, the toad was immediately evicted and was thrown without mercy as far as we could out into the forest, where it can look for some other shelter for the winter. Then we covered up the drain very carefully until the plumber could come.

That blasted drain has been the cause of a lot of problems recently. We were supposed to get a new floor laid some weeks ago, but when the man came, he took one look at the drain and declared that this was utterly useless. It wasn’t possible to make the floor watertight with a drain like that.
We have to admit we doubted that ourselves when we saw the condition of the drain, so when the plumber came and said he had to break up the cement floor, we weren’t all that surprised.

THE NEW DRAIN over the sewage pipe and the newly leaking main water supply. 

It was finally done on Tuesday. Then the new cement had to dry for a few days before the floor layer could come again. But as you know, if it isn’t one thing then it’s another. He came yesterday and hummed and ha’d and complained about having too much to do since everybody else in his firm was away on holiday. Besides, this wasn’t as easy as all that. He thought the floor ought to be sanded, but since the stupid plumbers had done something he wasn’t happy with, he thought he would have to plaster instead. What’s more, he couldn’t figure out how to get under and around the main water supply pipe. We might have to box that in. In pure frustration he shook the pipe a little too roughly with the result that it started leaking slightly.
So here we go again. This could take time.
Today we have waited in vain for any workers to show up, but nobody came. We’re hoping they’ll come next week.
I thought the plumber was joking when he said the room would be finished “sometime before Christmas”. Now I’m not so sure....

FRESHLY PAINTED. Now we're just waiting for the new floor.
 PAINTING. The colour of the walls is called Cappucino. It is just the right shade of pale beige, I think. The mouldings are white gloss paint.
 VERY HAPPY WITH THIS ONE. The old door with the horrid red mouldings was as good as new after a few coats of white.
 SHELVING. In this nook we will put up shelves for soaps and detergents and such. 
We wish everybody a nice weekend. 
It is still possible to vote for us in Petunia's photo competition. Please go HERE and vote!
Hubby has numbers 81 and 84. 
Husfruen has numbers 73 and 75.
84 is my favourite.Thanks for your support. :-) 

Monday, 16 August 2010

Please vote for us!

Both Hubby and Husfruen have joined in Petunia's photo competition "My little country" on her blog. The contestants have sent in 84 photographs of various places in Norway.

These are our contributions:

Its a tough competition, so we need all the help we can get. Please go HERE and vote for us!
Hubby has numbers 81 and 84.
Husfruen has numbers 73 and 75.

Thanks for your support. :-)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Black and white generalizing

Generally speaking, it is supposedly not good to view the world in either black or white. A general in black and white is perfectly fine though. ;-)
As you may have gathered from our last post we are in a bit of colourless mood these days. Tonight Hubby dug out one of his favourite films - The General by Buster Keaton.

Photo is borrowed from here.
This 1927 masterpiece is one of the highlights of the silent movie era. We admired both the story and the photography. Oh, and it was good for a few laughs too.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Photo competition

I think Hubby is a very good photographer, so I thought I'd enter three of his photos in Fotoverden's August competition. The theme this month is black and white.

This lovely picture was taken by the Rana river in Northern Norway. The long exposure emphasizes the beauty and power of the mighty river.

The next picture is not so idyllic. Along the main street in the capital, Oslo, one can see people who fall through the cracks of our welfare state system. I think this photograph illustrates the problem. The beggar is actually sitting outside the parliament building.

The last picture illustrates teenage frustration. The photo was taken on a trip to Newcastle. This boy had had just experienced a bit too much nagging and ran over to a railway bridge, stood under the letters and let the world know what he thought. Luckily, Dad had the camera ready. 

If you would like to vote for Hubby in the contest, we'd appreciate it a lot. 

Monday, 9 August 2010

And the winner is…

As they say on television, we’ll let you know after these messages.
This is the first time we have had a Give Away on the blog and we are quite overwhelmed by the response. On the Norwegian page 42 people left messages and took 174 lottery tickets. Surprisingly many Americans had found their way to the English page. We wondered how they all managed to find us. There were 65 comments and 105 tickets. All in all, that’s 279 tickets.

We would like to thank everybody for their nice comments and welcome all our new followers to Hilltop House. We had our Give Away to celebrate that out blog had received 2000 visits. Now, we’re getting on for 4000. Obviously, that’s not much compared to the some blogs, but we appreciate every single visit.

Before we were going to draw the winner, we were excited to see whether the prize would go to someone in Norway or travel across the Atlantic. Husfruen was appointed the task of making almost 300 lottery tickets (Thank God for Excel), while Hubby had the honour of drawing. When the winner was proclaimed I almost suspected him of tampering with the tickets because the prize went to his old hometown on the Arctic Circle. But the man assures me there was no foul play, which means we can congratulate Lise who has the lovely blog Fossestua.

I also thought it was very nice that the prize should go to Lise who leaves so many nice comments here on our blog. I am also a regular reader of her blog, so I can recommend it to everybody.

Congratulations Lise! We hope you will enjoy the prize and that you’ll have a nice scented time in the bathroom with the L’Occitane products.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hedge funds

We’ve got plenty. Not of the monetary kind, unfortunately, but if shrubberies were legal tender, we’d be rich.

Where hedges are concerned, we are in over our heads, literally. (And that is saying something in Hubby’s case). Whoever said that boxwood grows slowly, had obviously not seen ours. The green monster in front of the veranda reached epic proportions while we were away for a few weeks. Worse still were the juniper bushes that were growing inside it, along with a few other unidentified leafy green things.

SHAPELESS. In the spring (before we painted the house) we could see the hedge was becoming way to big and completely impossible to shape nicely. As the summer progressed it threatened to take over all space. 

Although Hubby pruned it regularly with the hedge clippers, it was getting out of control and it became increasingly difficult to reach the tops.
To make matters worse, the shrubberies seem to be a favoured spot for bees. Frequently it looks like a large green buzzing mass from all the bees swarming in there. And they are not to be trifled with, as Hubby found out the hard way, a few weeks ago.

He was out attacking the boxwood again, when I suddenly heard cursing and swearing that would not be out of place in a dockside bar frequented by brawling seamen. As you can gather, Hubby is not a man to suffer in silence (what man is?) and from the level of shouting I thought he must have cut off a finger or something. But then he very quickly started to lisp and came charging into the kitchen with a hugely swollen lip. I leapt into action, and dabbed the stung lip with vinegar while desperately trying not to giggle as he spluttered “’amn it, it ‘uhts like ‘ell!” Poor, poor man!

Well, for the last week or so, the bees seem to have abandoned their favourite spot, so we figured it was safe to have another go. Obviously we knew that attacking it with secateurs would be useless, but armed with tree shears, a small saw and the hedge trimmer, we thought we’d get to the bottom of things. Alas no, as we worked our way in, it became apparent that we needed a chainsaw. The trunks and branches were thicker than a grown man’s thigh. Hell, some of them were even bigger than my thighs (All the people who’ve seen me now gasp: “Never!”)

After hours of backbreaking work we finally got the worst of it. The problem now is that the garden is strewn with enormous piles of green waste. The wheelbarrow seemed small and futile. To me it looked like we would need a tractor to clear it all away. But Hubby assured me that a wood chipper would do the trick. So off he went to the hardware store and returned with the top model from Bosch, same brand as the hedge clipper. I have to admit that I grumbled something about why it was necessary to always buy the most expensive, and he produced a copy of his DIY magazine electing this model “best in test”. So there! (Same magazine also proclaimed the clippers to be best, I think, and truth to be told, they are pretty good.)

Be that as it may, I now feel that I should get absolutely no trouble next time I want to buy something expensive. Whatever it may be, I’m sure I’ll be able to dig up a test somewhere. (“Yes darling, L’Occitane soap is expensive yes, but it’s the best and as you’ve told me – quality costs.”) Hm, come to think of it, this hasn’t turned out all bad after all.
Only thing is, of course, we should have had some real hedge funds to afford it all.

ASSUMED LOST. The nice pot from Spain suddenly appeared under all the green. 
Well, speaking of L’Occitane, there is still a chance to join in our summer lottery where you can win travel-sized soaps and creams. Good luck to all the contestants!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Not pining for pine

As we have told you before, we had a water leak in the laundry room some weeks ago. The dehumidifier and the fan have been going around the clock, and finally it was dry enough to start painting.
Apparently, even old pine panelling can bleed resin from the knots and make brown stains on the paint, so we got a primer that is also supposed to act as a sealant.  Let's hope it works.
Here is the work in full swing.
PRIMING. We will definitely not miss the old brown knotty pine. It is amazing how much light it steals.
DIFFICULT JOB. It's not exactly easy to work around all the wires and pipes. 
A TEMPORARY SOLUTION. Luckily the plumber was able to hook up the new hot water tank. It would have been so inconvenient to be without hot water for weeks. Especially now, when we have so many guests visiting for their holidays. 
Notice the bright red window sill. All the skirting boards and mouldings in the room were a jolly red colour. Stylish? Nei, njet no and nein. All the doors and window sills will be lovely and white, while the walls will be painted a soft beige colour. 
We have done a bit more painting today. Things are starting to look good. Next week sometime we'll get the new floor in. We're really looking forward to that.