Category Archives: Musings

The Composting Toilet

So I wish this wasn’t one of the more memorable things about our trip to Kauai, but it has been.

Our cottage had a composting toilet, which was composed of a wooden box with a hinged top with a hole in it and a full toilet seat that rested on top of that. Under the hinged lid was a Home Depot 5 gallon bucket. Next to the box was a covered can with sawdust and a scoop.

When we arrived, the owner gave the spiel. We were to use the toilet as we would, throwing the paper in there too, and then cover it with a scoop of sawdust. When we arrived, the sawdust in the can was fine and easy to scoop – no problem. When the bucket filled up or got too smelly, we were supposed to open the hinged lid, take out the bucket, put another big scoop of sawdust over the top, and put the bucket´s lid on. Then we were to leave the bucket outside the cottage and they would take it away.

Here is what I loved about the experience:

  • Peeing in the empty bucket. Ooh, how fun!
  • The first few times I scooped sawdust over the contents. A novelty!
  • Learning how much waste we produce (about a 5 gallon bucket a day, including lots of sawdust). Eek!
  • That it didn’t smell at all! In fact a poo in that toilet, covered in sawdust, smells not at all when the next person goes a few minutes later. In our experience… (Maybe we just ate no red meat while we were here though, which is true…)
  • Feeling like I was not murdering the planet too much.
  • Not having to deal with the waste after we put the bucket outside.

Here is what I did not love about the experience:

  • That after that first can of sawdust, the owner replaced it with dried bamboo leaves and other large and awkward to scoop plant matter, so it was difficult to scoop and messy.
  • The flies.
  • Remembering what to do in the middle of the night.
  • Going outside, in the rain, to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Switching the bucket/refilling the sawdust can/other basic maintenance when all I wanted to do was a quick pee.

But, hey, I pee a lot. Maybe someone who uses the bathroom less frequently would not find it as aggravating.

All in all, it was not too hard. I even was googling composting toilets, thinking maybe there was a way to have one in our house in Norway. I am not sure yet.

Glad I got the experience, and glad that particular experience is over! 🙂

Over-/under-stimulated toddler

Kiddo is used to a sort of quiet and kid-friendly life. I stay home with her, and usually each day we would have an activity. We did a music class on Thursdays, a playgroup on Wednesdays, a swimming class on Fridays, and then some sort of park visit or art project or something on the other days.

Then we started traveling. We will be out all day, not really doing kid friendly stuff, but when we get home, grandma and grandpa are home and they play with her. Grandpa plays the piano, she chases the dog, a new or forgotten toy is unearthed and suddenly its 10pm and everyone is exhausted but her.

Then, for two nights, she stayed up until 1:30am. I don’t know if she just “didn’t want the party to end” or didn’t get enough fresh air or rest between our errands and car naps, but the first night, I was convinced it was a fluke. Then it happened the next night and I wanted to scream.

So finally, that next day, we instituted a toddler-centric day. We went to the zoo. We didn’t eat lunch out. We didn’t eat dinner out. We just went to the zoo and came home and instead of searching for bathroom sinks and Hawaii airbnbs, I got down on the floor and played with her. And don’t you think she went to sleep at 9:30pm. Lesson learned!

Kiddo misses the dog

When we decided to take this trip, the one thing we really dreaded was leaving the dog (Poodle) for so long. Poodle is our sweet three-year-old standard poodle, who is staying with Hubby´s sister.

Last night we were out to dinner at a fancy Portland restaurant. We brought soft dough for Kiddo to play with, and she kept asking me to make her a dog, which she would then carry around gently, and hug. One time, I looked over and she was standing with her back to the table, stroking the dog and saying, “I miss you, Poodle. I miss you!”

My heart broke! It was so sweet, though, that she remembers our dog, and presumably loves her. It was also astounding, because it probably is the first time I have heard her use a sentence on her own volition that I didn’t consciously model for her to repeat. I never said, “Kiddo, do you miss Poodle? I miss Poodle!” We have talked about the dog, and what she is doing, and how we wish she could be with us. It is so fun to see how fast Kiddo´s development is going! I hope she remembers Poodle for the next 5 months, too. 🙂

What have we been doing so far, anyway?

I sort of thought I would have a lot of time to myself while we were in Portland. Not just time, but uninterrupted time to read and write and walk around. I don’t know why.

It has been great, don’t get me wrong. I have gotten to celebrate both my parent´s birthdays with them, and Thanksgiving, and see our friends and my sister. I have gotten a few runs in, and done one whole week of P90x2 in the mornings. I even finished a book last night. But we have been here for almost two weeks and I haven’t even read a whole newspaper article. We haven’t been to one place “just for Kiddo”, like OMSI or the zoo.

So what have we done? We have been learning where things are in Portland. The last time we have really spent any time here exploring the city was practically when we were in college. After that we had short trips with intense family and friend time, usually at my parents´ house. This time, we have the use of my parent´s car, and enough time to really explore. To be honest, I am not sure I have ever driven from where my parents live, in Southwest Portland, to multiple destinations on the east side. Now, we spend the day out, driving around, getting lunch, walking around, and it is great!

We have been eating and trying fun new places. We´ve had Thai food, Japanese food, Southern food, vegan food, sandwiches, French food, and probably others I am forgetting. We have had brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and snacks. We have had ice cream. Doughnuts. Kombucha.

We have also decided to get a container shipped to Norway with stuff for our house. Even with the freight and the taxes, it will be cheaper than buying stuff there, plus, we can get things we cant find there like claw foot cast iron bathtubs. So, we have been running around like crazy trying to find stuff that needs to be ordered soon if we are going to get it before we leave.

That is about it. When you add it all up, that isn’t bad for almost two weeks.

Being without a cell phone

We are traveling, so we don’t have SIM cards that work here, although we have iPhones so they are still functioning electronic devices when wifi is available.

Still, it is weird to be without phones. When I was a kid, no one had cell phones. When we wanted to do something together, we would prearrange it.  Or if we had to separate while together, we would also make specific but uncomplicated arrangements about how to meet again, like, “I will run in and grab a cup of coffee and you run and get some food and we will meet back here on this corner in about 15 minutes.”

Because you have no alternative way to get in contact, you just wait. If it takes you 10 minutes, you either have a few minutes free to pee, or walk around, or just sit and think (because presumably, you also don’t have a note card sized device with 5000 ways to avert your attention from what is actually happening around you). If it takes you 20, you feel a little bad but know that, after you are done, you can still expect to meet the other person afterwards. They will assume you are coming back but got delayed.

Now, we got one SIM card that we can use here for my phone. It is great because we can call my parents when we are out and about and ask if we should bring home dinner. We can call friends and see if they want to meet for happy hour. Or we can use the data plan to find directions, or Yelp to find restaurants near us.

But we only have one, so we can´t call each other. Usually, we would call each other from different sides of the grocery store, to see what the other had found. So not having that luxury takes a little getting used to.

The other day Hubby went to pickup something from a shop. We didn’t know exactly where it was, so I let him off on the corner and drove around the block. He would run out when he was done. Except that it took a long time. I did 5 laps around the block. Once I went two blocks, then I went three, then two, then one, then two, and then I was fed up. So I parked and walked down the block looking for the shop. But I couldn’t see it, and I didn’t have the address written down because it was saved in the phone, which Hubby had. I had to talk myself out of getting annoyed, because, really, if I didn’t have the expectation that I would know every second of how long it would take to run that errand, I would have had a lot more patience.

Finally, Hubby emerged, and apologized, and I told him it was no problem.

And then we got on with our day, surviving just fine with only one phone.

Thanksgiving weekend with the fam

I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in about 10 years, I think. The last time might have been when I was in high school. That is why it is extra special that I was able to be in Portland during the holiday this year.

My mom hasn’t been doing well (a compressed nerve), so I wanted to help all I could, although she made tons of stuff before we arrived. The jello and the rolls were my responsibility, as well as the kitchen clean up during the event. Everyone pitched in a lot.

My friends from Oslo, who actually live in Portland and had only been on a two year contract in Norway, came, as did my sister, her boyfriend, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin. It was lovely! The food was tasty, the conversation fun, and the red wine delicious.

Black Friday was a lazy day of leftovers and newspapers. It was definitely something to be thankful for.

Chicken waffle, breakfast corndogs and sticky pecan buns. Not a diet meal!

To round out the weekend, we played board games as a fam and ate brunch at Screen Door, the amazingly good but unhealthy Southern food restaurant on E. Burnside. The Kiddo was a dream, playing with her Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pad, which, by the way, is amazing because the stickers stick to glass too, and are rubber so you can clean then, then rub them a bit, and the stick again. Also they never tear (not yet anyway). Then we visited our friends and their Newfoundland puppy, Bjørn.

He is 10 weeks and already weighs more than Kiddo!

An intense weekend of family, but a good one.

Packing, part 1

Today I started to pack. We leave in 10 days. I am kind of thrilled to live out of a duffel for 5 months. I normally wear the same few tank tops and cardigans every day anyway, so now I will be able to do that, but without the clutter of all my other clothes getting in the way, reminding me how little I care about fashion and how wasteful it has been to accumulate so many items that I don’t use on a regular basis.

I look forward to seeing how much I like this – or not – and whether it effects my wardrobe when I return. For the record, we are remodeling our new house to include not very much closet space in the master bedroom, which I thought was actually a good way to force me to simplify.

Today I put away the vast majority of my winter clothes as well as some leftover maternity clothes and pre-breastfeeding bras. The plan is that they will be moved directly to the new house.  I packed one box of spring and summer clothes – mostly skirts and things that need to be ironed and therefore won´t be brought along on our travels – that I can wear when we return to Oslo before we move. It isn’t too much stuff.

I am going to cull my sweats collection as well, saving a few things for project clothes – for painting, gardening, and the like.

It feels really good to edit my wardrobe. I am honestly elated to live with less during our travels, and hope it is a good experience!