Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Free Business Cards Arrive

Wow - boring post for those of you who already know how to get in touch with us. But we're excited! We ordered some free Vistaprint business cards so that in the future when we meet people along our way we can hand over the card so they can actually remember the blog info. And our names.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Foot Update - Bones are Magic

Finally some good news! It was getting pretty grim, just before Thanksgiving - my foot wasn't really healing visibly, the doc decided to put it in a cast, perhaps he would even recommend surgery afterall... gaaak! But just two weeks later and all is turned around. The latest x-ray experience was very exciting. The problem is a space, just under a centimeter wide, between the two shards of my broken metatarsal. When we went back for the 3 week check-up, the doc was surprised to see not a lot of healing going on. I had no idea what that meant at the time, because I was having a hard time envisioning the particulars of healing bones. I figured they might grow towards eachother? Slowly adding cells until they bridged the gap?

The x-ray educated all (Joshua and me) about what happens; now there is a hazy whiteness between the two pieces of bone. There are new bone cells just growing in between the two pieces. Magic! So I'm back in the hot seat in Elk, my back to the wood stove, and patiently waiting to see what happens in another 4 weeks! That'll be just after Christmas. Another week past that, perhaps, and I'll get my foot back... how much fun is that!?

I dreamt last night that I was running, literally running, around my high school. I was supposed to be in class, but instead I ran around playing frisbee on the football field, sprinting to try to catch the 'bee and not making it. Then I was running around full speed in the gym, playing basketball and loving every moment. I woke up with the feeling that I should be playing some basketball, what with all the free time I have right now, and how wonderful it feels to run. But it's cool. I'm working on hand-made Christmas presents.

I've gained important skills in sitting still and using crutches. Next up: knitting bone and learning to walk on two legs again. Below, the phases of this particular foot break. Sorry I don't have the digital x-rays. Things are a little low-tech with my used-to-be-head-podiatrist-for-the-Oakland-A's-in-the-80s-when-they-won-the-pennant awesome doctor.

The boot. Fun while it lasted.

Dead Sea mud treatment

Elephant. Can't even tell it's broken.

Caltrans #2 of 2 (they over-ordered on Halloween colors)

If I need a third cast, it might be black. Or maybe they'll have ordered some new colors? Joshua likes the orange. For safety. 

And on another safety note (TSA), we did travel over Thanksgiving and I got to experience the feel-down for the wheelchair-bound first hand. Very handy. The lady in SF was a Korean Pat look-alike, short, curly hair-cut and everything. She was super professional, and I liked her. She warned me that she'd be touching my inner thighs, around my waist and breasts with the backs of her hands, and the rest of me with the front of her hands. She asked if I was okay with that. I said yes. She then asked if I wanted to go to a private room with her for this... I said no, thank you. 

Wheelchair service is awesome. Joshua especially loved it, blowing past the people waiting in line. Of course he just had to carry the bags and follow, but the value wasn't lost on me, either. And yes, most people tip the wheelchair driver. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Apple Picking in Massachusetts

Whoa! Massachusetts!? That's right - we left Norway to go to a wedding in California, but stopped on the way in Boston. Cousins! I have a cousin named Josh, also, and his wife Deb, and kids Lucy and Marta, housed us for a long-weekend visit. Joshua's mom, Judy Moody, came down from Maine and visited with all of us, too. We played Apples-to-Apples, Jewish Edition, and walked around the neighborhood. And one day we went apple picking. I have never eaten so many apples - they were delicious. I was basically sick with apples by the time we left.

Lucy and I have been best friends since she was two

Cousin Josh

Kids these days

mmmmmmm, good apple

Ramona, Lucy, Marta

They also had pumpkins. And Lucy balanced hers on her head...

Monday, November 15, 2010

St. Michaelsmas

We celebrated with the Norwegians, back in September, a little holiday called St. Michaelsmas (link to Natalia's blog post about it). The story goes something like a hobbit tale - a terrible dragon was terrorizing a village. St. Michael came down and saved everyone, and now we make dragon bread! Something of a harvest festival, so the table was made up with a harvest tray that Joshua and I gathered and arranged. Each kid (Ramona & Natalia included) made a dragon, Joshua and Noa collaborated. Then we asked Anders to figure out who made which one, and he guessed correctly. Then we ate them! Noa, Lea, and Jasmin wore crowns and capes and fancy dresses. Yes, even Noa - he insisted on wearing a dress like his sisters.


Before We Left Norway

We had a lot of fun during our 2+ weeks in Norway...  Natalia and Anders manage to get out with their three kids every day, more than once, rain or shine. They get them dressed up in little rain suits with rain boots, or if it's sunny they wear a couple of layers of wool and tiny little hiking boots. There are fresh rolls most mornings, and beeswax candles glowing when it's dark out. There are little munchkins running around almost all the time, and it couldn't be lovelier.

Just a walk/ride up the road is a good time...

Joan of Arc! and Noa

Visiting the elf shelter, leaving them some nice rocks and pine cones

Not a bad view from up on the hill

Hanging around the house picking clover:

And riding the bike or trike up and down the driveway...

No brakes!

 He comes in fast, but manages to take the turn like a pro

No, you stand there!

Goofin' in the back yard.

Noa successfully knocks Joshua off the lower rope

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back in September

Three More Big Bites posted a recipe for a Greek Yogurt Tart, and being in Norway, eating lots and lots of creamy Greek yogurt, I decided to try it out. I know this is not a food blog, but I had to mention this because it was so fun. And delicious.

Sorry about the poor photo quality. As you can see, I managed to float some blueberries by not heeding the instruction to carefully spoon the custard onto the fruit. I used blueberry jam mixed with frozen blueberries. I wish I could blog about riding a bicycle, but as you probably know, I can't ride right now. Soooooon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Lot Has Happened

Well, things have changed for this cycling duo. Our time in Norway was truly lovely. We spent a little over two weeks with Natalia, Anders, their three kids, and Jon-Kristian. We ate beautiful food, went for many long walks, took our unloaded bikes on a bit of a mountain bike ride, and participated in political protest. We each took our bikes up to the high lake, Fitjadalen, and explored without our gear. We rode the very few kilometers into town (5 mins, downhill), and back up again to the house (20+ mins, uphill). We even went into Norheimsund to see if we could find some boots so we could stomp around in the muddy woods with everyone. I would write more about it all, because it is a beautiful and inspiring life being lived on the fjord, but I recommend checking out the links above for Natalia's fantastic photos and perspective.

At the end of September, we were scheduled to fly back to California for our third wedding of the summer. Our plan was to fly back, stopover in Boston to see family, then spend a week or so in northern California with my (Ramona's) grandma and dad, before heading to the wedding for a long weekend of events. Our return flight to Norway was scheduled for the Sunday night after all wedding activities were over.

The wedding was a big one. I was a bridesmaid. Full length, strapless black dress and black heels, plus professionally applied make-up and hair. I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror.

The wedding party. Can you find Ramona?

Here we are, after the ceremony. I am threatening to cut off my feet to stop the pain.

We got to see a lot of my oldest friends, and very good friends they are. Plus my immediate family was all there. All in all it was a pretty good party, until I broke my foot.

5th metatarsal, dislocated and broken. And I had already taken the heels off! I was wearing flats, dancing on the dance floor, attempting to jump an imaginary jump rope, and somehow I stubbed my toe so hard it broke a bone. The doctor said wearing the heels all day probably stressed it, and then I must have kicked something really hard. I did not notice it was broken right away, mind you. I kept dancing. Joshua finally dragged me off the dance floor after we had this conversation five times.

Ramona: My foot really hurts.
Joshua: Do you want to stop dancing and take a look at it?
Ramona: No.

At first nobody, not even me, could believe I had broken it - sprained, maybe. We spent three months biking across Europe with no injuries to speak of, and on a flat surface, in flat shoes I managed to do a lot of damage? As one of our cycling buddies in LA (also a consistent blog reader, awesome commenter, and generous donor to Where is Your Bicycle) said: "I always tell people not to dance. Dancing is dangerous." We used to ride our bicycles in Los Angeles together. It gave me a good laugh, bittersweet though it was.

Changed plans; Joshua spent a lot of time getting the airlines to waive change fees for our trip back. My dad drove us back to his house. Here we are, back in the northern CA woods, me on the couch with my foot in the air all day.

After input from one MD (who took the x-ray and told me of the brokenness), three orthopedic surgeons, a number of doctors and nurses who are friends or colleagues of friends, I finally got the option I was hoping for. Almost everyone said it would not heal very well, and that I risked future pain, possibly re-breaking and surgery, if I didn't do something. Surgery was recommended, which would include a pin that may or may not need to be removed in the future, and also the potential for chronic pain.

Did I mention we left our health insurance in Europe? Travel insurance is only good while you are traveling out of the country. One surgery, as an out-patient, would put us somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 into medical debt. Imagine if I had to go back to take the pin out. It looks like there are programs to help, for people who are over 65, under 21, blind, disabled, pregnant, veterans, already on another program that I don't qualify for, or have children. It looks like there may be a county option that I do qualify for, but I have yet to figure that out.

There's also the fact that I was injured at an event, which no doubt has insurance. Now that I know that I must have stubbed my toe in some way, I am going to call them again and tell them about how the sections of the dance floor moved and created ledges as people danced on them. Both Joshua and my dad experienced that. Anyone else?

But here's the good news: the orthopedic surgeon who is a foot and ankle specialist, most qualified to make a judgement and give advice, said he can fix it enough so that it'll heal without surgery. He believes that because I am young, healthy, and active, I will heal a broken bone. The problem is the dislocation of the little piece of bone, close to the toe, which will cause it to heal slightly shorter than it used to be. So he's going to numb my foot really well (I pray) and then move that bone back into place, so it can heal correctly. He called it 'distraction'. I will be the one needing distracting, but if he wants to distract my bone, too, and help me avoid surgery, I am on board.

Now I am waiting for that, and then the 6-8 weeks of healing and recuperation will begin. Luckily we can stay here with my dad and our tickets are good for a year. Our bikes (and our hearts) are still in Norway. We called to say hi one day and I was in tears listening to the little Norweigian voices on the other end of the phone. I still don't know enough Norwegian to talk to a two year old about much, but the meaning came through - they wanted to tell us it has started to snow and they went out to play in it, they want us to come back and see it all with them. Noa asked if we could come read him a book.

So I have told my foot that we will be back on a bike by next spring, continuing our touring fun. At the latest, I hope to be back in Norway after New Year's, but some have suggested I go now and pretend I didn't realize my foot was broken so I can benefit from the comprehensive health care they've got over there. Tempting.

Joshua and I are both looking for the kind of work one can do from a farmhouse at the edge of the redwoods. I have a lot of time and no mobility - and when Joshua is not taking care of me he's working on his first iPhone app. He's going to teach me Cocoa; perhaps I will write computer programs, too. My Intro to Comp Sci professor should be proud to have made such a positive impression on me.
In the meantime, I'll take all the movie and book recommendations I can get. Just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and ordered the other two books of the trilogy online. Whoa, good. And we watched one of the best movies I have ever seen, a Swedish film called 'As It Is In Heaven'. I will post more photos of the proceedings. Starting with the comfrey compress my dad applied: gooey, black-green foot masque.

And yes, I do accept healing vibes sent from however far away. Thanks to all of you that have already sent love, it helps.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Making it to Norway

Hirtshals for 2.5 days... Day 1, secure tickets to Bergen and walk on the beach.

Riding out to the ferry terminal, past beautiful white sand beach

Day 2, Oceanarium. Where they have a sunfish!

And sea lions you can swim with! Just kidding, they had a tunnel under the water. Pretty fun. They also had a little feeding show with them where they waved and did little tricks. The Oceanarium is all about the North Sea, and we learned a lot.

Spies' meeting

Don't touch

The morning of our ferry day we were very early. We ended up waiting in the queue a long time, but were rewarded by being able to ride our bikes right up into the huge ferry! We had a cabin, on the inside, with no windows, so we spent a lot of time on the upper deck while it was light out.

First glimpse of Norway!

We slept pretty well, after a few games of Spite and Malice, with the most expensive decks of cards ever.  And we were arriving in Bergen around 8am, so we were up very early, ready to get out as soon as we hit land. We even got to ride off first! Woo hoo!

We spent the morning in Bergen, trying to plan how to ride to Øystese over the mountains. When we had pretty much settled on a route, we ran into a cyclist who asked us about our trip and plans. When we said we were riding over the mountains he agreed that we had the best route and said it was a pretty good ride, he had done it before. However, he then checked the weather and told us that the biggest rains in a long time were predicted for the following few days, and maybe it would be nicer to hop on a bus. Oh, right, and it was going to be windy...

The bus is 1.5hrs, then we ride for 20 minutes up a huge hill. The ride over would be about 80km, up and down many huge hills. In wind and rain, with traffic and no shoulder for much of it, no thanks! We took a bus, and before we knew it we were in Norheimsund, where Anders works. We surprised him, and he grabbed his bike and rode home with us! By 4pm we were cozy in the house with Natalia and Anders and their three kids.


Here we come, final few kms

We arrived on Sept 13th, and the next day was our birthday. We were celebrated with fresh chocolate croissants baked by Anders and birthday crowns, and even presents! The next few days it did rain a lot, and it rains less on the fjord than over towards Bergen. It was sad not to ride from Bergen, both of us were a little disappointed. Since then we have ridden up and down the big hill a few times. Trying not to lose our legs right away. Now we have been here for almost two weeks and it has flown by.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Happens When We Get Tired of Wind

Our second full day in Denmark was similar to the first. Not quite as much in the way of bad surfaces, but we did have some challenging stretches. Somehow, we had gone from not quite fall to the beginning of winter. The sky was grey, grey, grey and the fields were brown, brown, brown. We saw not a few trees that were already bare, leaves prematurely removed. Wind.

For a little ways, we were on a really cool path through the heather and highlands. It was conceivable that there were gnomes hiding in the woods and we might turn a corner and see a moose. This green stretch was a beautiful interlude from dry fields, and we were a little better protected from the wind through the trees.

We stopped at a Tourist Info Office that was in a picturesque old windmill.

And back to the fields and wind.

Another interesting interlude distracted us from the general dreariness. I could imagine that in the spring or summer, when things are green and cheery, and without so much wind, it might have been a dreamy day.

We walked up

And found this

And many other stone monuments, this is the front, below is the back

This is honoring Magnus, who fought south during the wars with Germany (date at bottom: 1898). In the late 1800s, Germany and Denmark fought two wars against each other, both claiming Schleswig-Holstein as part of their country. From the 1860s until the end of WWI, the southernmost part of Denmark was a part of Germany. We are not sure if the rest of the stones are specific to the wars or not, some have dates much earlier, and other are more recent.

In the afternoon we hit a fairly big town and after lunch I got a flat and Joshua took the opportunity to change my front brake pads. They needed it! Badly!

But at the end of the day we hit another freshly gravelled road and it was so bad that we turned around and decided to take a highway instead. The wind was brutal, and so loud, and we were on a road with no shoulder and plenty of traffic for quite a long time. Talk about needing a game face. We slogged it out and found the campsite we were aiming for, just outside of Egtved, Egtved Camping

And once again we were rescued. After a day like that, we asked about cabin prices again. We felt like we should save money, so we opted for camping. While we were checking in, Lene asked us about our bike trip and when Helge came in we told him about it too. They even looked up weather for the coming days for us (more wind, turning to be exactly against us, and then rain, too). We then went into their small store to buy a couple of beers and some chips, and we chatted more with the both of them. Helge gave us a taste of some tap beer they had that was really fresh, and then gave us some more chips for free. After we talked with them a while, they had a small exchange in Danish, and then Lene went back into the office. Helge then said they were going to give us their private, small cabin at the lake - they call it their little escape - so we could sleep out of the wind that night. 

It's called Skovhytten - forest hut

It was the sweetest sleep we could have had, and we woke up feeling very rested and renewed.  We were genuinely sad to say goodbye. I hope we go back and see them again one day. 

It was still windy.

In the morning the road dipped and wound a little, which was nice. We rolled into a wide river valley that was flat and open, then up the other side, doing some real climbing in a beautiful forest that sheltered us from the wind for a few minutes. As we rode out of the valley, we passed two roadies walking their bikes up the hill. We talked to them for a minute before continuing on up, and once it leveled out they caught up to us and rode with us until they turned off the route to go home. At one point that morning, we turned west for a moment and our back was to the wind.   We flew, hooting and cheering, for less than a kilometer. Big wind.

We took a slightly more direct route that morning, on the regional route 35, and we were rewarded with a cruise through an art school of some kind, housed in a castle.

There were hand blown glass globes in the fountain and hanging from the trees

Up the hill was a gallery with fantastic mosaic

And then back to the hay bales and big wind.

At a critical turn off, we stopped to talk about our options one more time. Over the previous two days, of horrible wind and gravel bike trap roads, we had mentioned trains to one another. We kept deciding to fight on, somehow. Now we had an opportunity to turn to go towards Jelling, a town with a train station. We were looking towards rain and and more wind, and a wind that would turn south within a couple of days. It was Sept 9th, just 5 days from our birthday (yes, we share a birthday). It could be another 5 or six days to ride our bikes to Hirtshals. We were not having fun. Perhaps you see where this is going.

We went to Jelling, and immediately caught a train south to Vejle, two stops, where we could get a train to Hjørring, and then a local train to Hirtshals. It all happened that afternoon - and that evening we were able to check the ferry schedule to Bergen. Sadly, the next ferry wasn't until Sunday, the 12th. It was late enough that Joshua almost insisted that we just get a hotel room. The campsite wasn't right in town and it was getting dark very quickly.

The next morning we checked a campsite on the outside of town and found it closed for the season. Good thing we hadn't tried the night before. Another campsite on the other side of town would be closing the following day. We might not have had much luck riding north even if it hadn't been blowing 30mph, if campsites were closing already. We didn't really like the hotel we had stayed in, and it was quite over priced, so we went to the Motel Nordsøen just across the street, which was lovely. Now we just had the problem of figuring out how to have fun in Hirtshals for 2 days.