Thursday, June 29, 2006

Money out the Wazoo

Most of us have some sort of idea of what we would do or live like if we were super rich.

Lately, I really only have one thing that I would want.

I would have, if I was super rich, a person who's sole job would be to bring me my morning Mochachocalattayaya and something for breakfast.

Because I hate having to make the coffee or go get the coffee or whatever, and breakfast is a trial better left unfaced.

But if someone just BROUGHT it to me, that would be ok.

So there. That's what I would have if I was superrich. A breakfast coffee guy. (Ok, so if he maybe, twice a week or so, doubled as a workout trainer, that would be cool, too. But that's it, really. I don't want servants or butlers or anything. Just a breakfast coffee guy cum workout trainer. That's all.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My husband, the comedian

Rich sent me the following comic in an email entitled "I should have used this as my excuse":

Cuz he was always late from the Friday pub evenings and I am always getting mad at him.

I'm on to him now, but this excuse WOULD have worked had he not showed his hand already.

He's not smarter than me yet, but if he keeps this up, he might at least equal me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lucky 13

Today is my 13 year wedding anniversary.

I was going to write a bunch of stuff about good times, bad times and times in between, and how sometimes it seems like it's only been 4 years and other times it feels like 40.

But anyone who's been married knows all that shit.

So, I decided, instead, for brevity and a picture. Happy anniversary honey. 13 years. (and 5 before that...) 13's always been a lucky number for me, but then, I *am* evil.

I love you.

Meme-y goodness

Stolen from Dave. I am also working on an awesome one that Bookhart developed. Hers is HARD for someone who can't remember song names EVER, so it might take me a bit of time. Try it yourself and let me know when you do.

1. How old do you wish you were? I really liked 33. I felt great that year. 21 was good too.

2. Where were you when 9/11 happened? I was going to start a new job the very next day. Unfortunately I also had stress related hives and my lips had swollen to three times their normal size, making me look a bit like Lisa Rinna, which scared the crap out of me. So I was home, stoned on anti-anxiety medication, icing my lips and yes, using Preparation H on them to down the swelling, when I saw the news. My lips reswelled and I got really drunk, thinking, well, shit that's it, the world's over. I started my new job the next day hungover AND with swollen lips. My new boss mentioned, nicely, that I looked "different from the interview". Uh, yeah, that would be the GIANT LIPS on my face....NICE.

3. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Kick them, curse. The usual. Hard to be zen about a machine screwing you over.

4. Do you consider yourself kind? .....Kind of what?

5. If you had to get a tattoo, where and what would it be? I have two, I want two more.

6. If you could be fluent in any other language what would it be? I'd like to get my German going again. Then it's a toss up between Italian and Spanish (which I also studied.)

7. Do you know your neighbors? Yeah. They're nice.

8. What do you consider a vacation? Anywhere that's not home. And involves, ideally, a plane, train, boat or road trip of longer than 6 hours.

9. Do you follow your horoscope? Yeah. But not obsessively. Though I did have my horoscope read in Thailand and let me tell you, it was pretty on target. In fact, it made me superstitious about the color blue (they said it was bad luck for me) and I won't buy blue clothes anymore...

10. Would you move for the person you loved? I have, many times. Would like to stop doing that soon.

11. Are you touchy feely? I can be. I'm a hugger.

12. Do you believe that opposites attract? Absofuckinglutely.

13. Dream job? Fashion maven. Righter of fashion wrongs. Billionaire playgirl (though not anything like the horrible Paris Hilton...more an old school Doris Duke. Or Babe Paley.)

14. Favorite channels? Sigh. Not many channels here that aren't documentary Discovery type ones. I guess BBC Prime.

15. Favorite place to go on a weekend? A long walk on a beautiful day. Barring that, London.

16. Showers or Bath? Bath, baby, bath.

17. Do you paint your nails? It's optimistic to consider my nails to actually be nails and thus paintable, but I do occasionally do so. My toenails are always a color not seen in nature.

18. Do you trust people easily? Not really anymore. I used to. That sorta got broken out of me.

19. What are your phobias? Things with exoskeletons or more than 4 legs. Bird feet. Swimming when I can't see the bottom and something brushes up against me.

20. Do you want kids? Yes but I am thinking it's not gonna happen.

21. Do you keep a handwritten journal? No. I find handwriting annoying now.

22. Where would you rather be right now? Texas.

23. What makes you feel warm and safe? A hug from a loved one. A beer with a good pal. Snuggling up in my bed.

24. Heavy or light sleep? Both. It varies, though mostly light.

25. Are you paranoid? Why do you ask that? Huh? Why? Did you hear something I should know?

26. Are you impatient? Fuck yes.

27. Who can you relate to? My close girlfriends. They accept my weaknesses, shore up my insecurities and applaud my successes. I would literally die without them.

28. How do you feel about interracial couples? No problems. I know quite a few. People are people, love is love. This is a stupid question, actually.

29. Have you been burned by love? Oh yes.

30. Whats your life motto? I'm working on it, but it's basically "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Seems to cover a myriad of situations.

31. What's your main ringtone on your mobile? I hate mobiles. I try not to use one if I can help it. I don't like phones in general. Email me, that's my way to communicate. If I must use a mobile, I just use the standard Nokia one.

32. What were you doing at midnight last night? At midnight last night I told my almost asleep husband "Happy Anniversary". He snorted, said "Is it midnight?"and rolled over. We've been married a while.....

33. Who was your last text message from? See number 31.

34. Who's bed did you sleep in last night? Mine. Duh.

35. What color shirt are you wearing? I am wearing a celadon green linen wrap around dress from Noa Noa. I feel cool and crisp.

36. Most recent movie you watched? I decided to plumb the depths of my insanity last night and watch "Showgirls". I am on a strange and embarrassing Paul Verhoven kick. It's kind of painful, I am considering therapy.

37. Name five things you have on you at all times? My tattoos, my hair, my little Coach wallet, keys and my glasses.

38. What color are your bed sheets? I just changed them today. Black.

39. How much cash do you have on you right now? 117 kroner.

40. What is your favorite part of a chicken? Breast. I am a breast girl. White meat always.

41. What's your favorite town/city? London. Austin.

42. I cant wait till...I get to move my furniture back into my house in Austin.

43. Who got you to join MySpace? AAARRRGGGG!!!!!

44. What did you have for dinner last night? Popcorn. Freshly kettle popped and served with a big glass of cold milk. Childhood comfort food.

45. How tall are you barefoot? 5 feet 10 inches of all womanly goodness.

46. Have you ever smoked crack? Fuck no. Why the hell would I? I buy shoes and facial creams, I don't need to spend money on drugs.

47. Do you own a gun? Nope. Ok, I have glue gun and a stencil cutting gun.

48. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? I like to drink in the love reflected in the eyes of my adored husband. I drink in the sunlight streaming into the bedroom. I drink in the essence of life.
OK, I lied. I like a big mocha with vanilla syrup.

49. What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex? I got mojo coming out my ears, baby. It's no secret. It's just ME! (Ok, so cleavage helps.)

50. Do you have A.D.D.? Not really. I can concentrate on a task I am interested in for a long time.

51. What time did you wake up today? 9:30.

52. Current worry? Near future: next year or so. Where I will be, what will happen, can you ever really go home again. I need to stop it, it does me no good.

53. Current hate? George Bush, American politics, American government. It all makes my blood boil.

54. Favorite place to be? I love London. I also love just being in the sun. Or being in bed. Or just being.

55. Where would you like to travel? I want to hit the Baltic states, Istanbul, India, Greece, Croatia, more of Italy and can you believe I have not been to Spain yet?

56. Where do you think you'll be in 10 yrs? As long as I am healthy and not poverty stricken, I'm fine with wherever. Would prefer Austin or Santa Fe. London would not suck.

57. Last thing you ate? Popcorn last night., I am presently boiling an egg.

58. What songs do you sing in the shower? Me? Sing? Where someone might hear me? No way.

59. Last person that made you laugh? Rich.

60. Worst injury you've ever had? I'm fairly lucky with the injuries. Couple of sprained ankles is the extent. I did have a miscarriage, in 2004, which kind of sucked.

61. Does someone have a crush on you? Probably. I'm crushable. Wait, that sounds wrong.

62. What is your favorite candy? Peanut M&M's. Or Nerds.

Friday, June 23, 2006

nothing to see here, move along

Not much going on that needs extensive updating. It's been rainy and overcast, so the walking gets fit in when I can. Of course, it's sunny right now, and here I am on the blog. Figures.

One of my favorite shops in Norway is having a sale, and I have been a happy camper going to a few of their different stores and grabbing up some pretties. When they have sales you gotta move fast or you lose out. But I tend to bee pretty lucky there and the ladies at the shop nearest me know me by name. Which is good and bad, as I have actually spent the last two months AVOIDING their store because it's just too tempting. But then I feel guilty when I go in and haven't talked to them in forever.

Rich went out on a company sponsored party trip last night to an island in the Oslofjord that he tells me is called Karla Island. I don't know if I believe that, having never seen it on a map, but it seems like he sure had a good time, judging by the absolute state of snockered he came home in. Those company parties are lethal when the alcohol flows for free. So I am extra tired because of a certain drunk boy who snored all night.....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Norwegian Government: what the HELL are you doing keeping this guy?

Just send him home.

Please. Whether Iraq is "safe" or not.

He wants to go and I am tired of our taxes going to support this asshole......

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Longest day of the year...

....which is kind of a big deal around here. Coming up to today, we gained 4 minutes of light EVERY DAY from the winter solstice. From today on, we lose four minutes of light EVERY DAY until winter solstice comes again. Doesn't seem like much, until you think that in 10 days that's 40 minutes of light either gained or lost, depending on where you are in the cycle.

So it's no wonder Scandinavians (and most Europeans) are sun worshippers of the first order. You have to enjoy it while it's there! And there's alot to enjoy around here:

And it also explains why I am so frigging tired. I have had a hard time sleeping, what with the sun setting around midnight and starting its ascent again around 3am......

I have 6 months before it gets to the darkest day. And today is the first day of that means about two months of almost guaranteed warmth! Woo!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Random crap

1) Am I an old fart because I just...don't... get... MySpace? I mean, seriously? Am I already, like, an Old Skool Blogger...which means, of course, plain old? I just don't get MySpace. Every time I click on a link to someone's MySpace site I just get annoyed. Music and bad writing and ARG!

I also don't get all this stuff about Web 2.0. What does that mean? Are they upgrading the web? Do I need to do something here? Am I supposed to upgrade to new software or something? I mean, if there is a Web 2.0, does that mean soon we will have Car 2.0 or Karla 2.0 or TV 2.0? ? The next generation of coffee is Coffee 2.0? What does Web 2.0 mean?

2) I'm adding some stuff to my iTunes as I write this. List so far goes:

Very old Sharpe and Numan (as in Gary) stuff, sort of rare now. I'm only doing one song off it, "Change Your Mind", as I have realized that the rest of the album is SO 80's it's not even funny. I mean, 80's movie soundtrack, 80's. Oy.

Peter Gabriel, "Shaking the Tree".

The Beloved, "Conscience". It's totally the gayest music in the world where they pretend to sing to a girl but you just KNOW they aren't (almost as gay as Bronski Beat, 'member them?) but it is also a very nostalgic album for me, as every time I hear it I remember roadtrips I took through Oklahoma when I lived there. (briefly, early 90's, year and a half) I hear the music and I think of rolling hills and red dirt. It's kinda cool.

Southern Culture On the Skids. "Dirt Track Date". If Camel Walk doesn't make you shake your thang, you are just dead. Just...dead.

Toadies. "Rubberneck". Some friends of mine had a band and played with them when they were all up and coming and I hear they are great guys. The Toadies just fucking ROCK. My particular favorite is "I Burn". Woof, gives me chills, it's powerful.

Alabama 3, "Exile on Coldharbour Lane". Excellent album. I might also mention that Coldharbour Lane is an actual street in London, in the Brixton area, known for some rough trade at one time. Brixton is a very interesting area....I went and checked it out one day, great market there, and took a picture of the street sign of Coldharbour Lane in honor of Bookhart, who loves A3 muchly.

Some random other stuff, including my guilty trashy side that has one Kid Rock album (though KR is absolutely Ick Supreme, how can you not rock out to a song on his CD about a midget rapping about his 10 foot dick?), old Art of Noise, Paul Oakenfold, Gus Gus and Fat Boy Slim. I also found some old Billy Squier, remember the Stroke?

3) I'm reading a hilarious book. It's called Buddha Da by Anne Donovan and it's about a Glaswegian who becomes a Buddhist. It's written in Scottish dialect, so you'd think it would be hard to read, but it's absolutely not and it increases the humor of the book tenfold. I mean, here's the first paragraph, it sucks you right in:

"Ma Da's a nutter. Radio rental. H'd dae anythin for a laugh so he wid; went doon the shops wi a perra knickers on his heid, tellt the wifie next door we'd won the lottery and were flittin' tae Barbados, but that wis daft stuff compared tae whit he's went and done noo. He's turnt intae a Buddhist."

I wish I had a Scottish accent. I think that's the one I would like above all others. Except maybe a deep southern American one, which I can actually do quite convincingly, especially after drinking. The Scottish one, howver, escapes me, except for the phrase "If it's no Scottish it's CRRRAP!" which I do well.

Right, so now I am taking my newly refreshed iPod out and going for another walk. It's humid out there, so puffy hair, here I come!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Walkies! Walkies!

Back when I had my dog, Beaufort, I used to drive her nuts by coming up to her with her leash and hollering in a mock British voice, "Walkies! Walkies!" She would absolutley LOSE her MIND, knowing that it was time for a WALK ohmygod a WALK we're going to go SNIFF stuff and PEE on things and see the WORLD and I can BARK and it's so great and boy can we go now can we can we can we huh huh?

I kinda know how she felt, lately. Well, except for the part about peeing on stuff.

I've been a walking MANIAC. Maybe it's the iPod. It keeps me motivated. Or maybe it's because I got this pedometer and I am hell bent on doing 10,000 steps a day (which, by the way, is harder than it seems cuz it's like five miles or something and how many people actually walk five miles a day anymore in this world of cars?) or if it's because the weather has been so great, or I am discovering all these cool new neighborhoods and hills and meadows around here or what. I mean, the walking around here is awesome. There's always a view from a hilltop, or an old farm, or an iron age burial mound, or an old viking trail, or something. There's trees and flowering bushes and pretty houses.
There's hot guys without their shirts off working on their yards, and just for Rich there is always a girl in a bikini somewhere. I was rather tickled when he saw one on Saturday and then, about 5 minutes later, told me musingly that I should get a brown bikini. And I'm all like, "Um, you mean a brown bikini like the one that cute girl was wearing?" And he's all, "Um, yeah, because I noticed how her hair color was like yours and brown would look good on you." Uh.Huh. I am SO sure he was looking at her HAIR color. The hair color of a cute, firm assed, girl in a little brown bikini. But, nice save, guy. Really. You are learning the ways of the wife. It's only taken 13 years....

Um, where was I. Oh, walking. Yeah, on Saturday I dragged Rich's ass out for a walk that ended up being 7.5 miles. For you non-mile using people, that's like, 12 kilometers. It was a long walk. And a good walk. And it was really warm out, like, 80 degrees, or something. Which doesn't seem hot to you Texas people but I am up NORTH and that means I am closer to the sun than you and then there is this whole thing with the ozone being damaged up north and that makes the sun more it was hot. (Hey! Quit laughing, you Texas people! I'm not kidding!) I was quite tired afterwards, and we actually turned down a couple of invites to bbq's and stuff because, well, ouch.

Walking that much on Saturday entitled me to do nothing on Sunday. I thought about walking, but, you know, moderation in all things. Besides, I'm almost finished working my way through the last season of Angel. A girl's gotta have her priorities.

It rained really hard last night and washed away all the pollen dust (and boy am I glad I washed all the decks and glass just on FRIDAY, dammit) so it's not so sunny out, but it looks like the rain might hold off for me to get another 5 in if I do it now.....So I gather my iPod and my pedometer and mutter to myself, "Walkies! Walkies!"

I miss that dog.

I've lost 4 pounds, by the way.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Karla and the Man-Eating Hammock

I think it's been established that my life can never be simple. And that I can never be cool. I can try as hard as I want, but The Gods of Goof always remind me that I am under their constant surveillance.

So, today I was out on our wrap-around deck, wearing a bikini top and shorts, doing some cleaning. The deck is walled with heavy clear glass to keep anyone from falling off, and it looks cool, but it also means NO privacy and that glass gets alarmingly dirty, especially after the late pollen showers we've had. I noticed the neighbors had all cleaned THEIR glass, which meant, dammit, that I had to do ours to keep up with the Joneses. (Though in Norway it's keeping up with the Lunds, I guess.) It was a great opportunity for tanning, as it's a beautiful day, hence my wearing the bikini top and shorts. I would have worn the bikini bottoms, too, but glass walls and great visibility to the neighbors nixed any ideas of my exposing my ass to so many in such a bug under a magnifier way. Bikini tops are perfectly acceptable hereabouts, and in hot weather you see girls wearing them walking around, perfectly comfortable. (Yes, guys, Norway is heaven in summer.)

So I got busy with the cleaning, being extra careful not to douse the people five stories below with water spray from the hose. There are shops and cafes down there, and it would not be nice for me to hose down innocent shoppers and eaters. (Not nice, but it would be fun...and it was tempting. But I refrained. I'm evil, but not rude.) I got pretty soaked in my cleaning frenzy, and let me tell you it was COLD water. But the glass is clean of pollen and all is sparkly.

AFter all my hard work, I fixed myself a sandwich, got my latest book du jour (James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces", yes I am behind but hey, I am also half a world away, ok?) and settled down for a nice laze in the hammock.


I ate my sandwich, drank my lemonade, and snuggled in for a good read in the warm sun when I noticed that my swimsuit top was sort of bunched up. I tried to sit up to fix it....but got yanked back down to the hammock. Oh SHIT. My top was tangled in the hammock strings. Somehow, someway, the hammock had grabbed the back of my top and it was SERIOUSLY twisted in the ropes. I could feel it, when I reached around and there was NO WAY I could get it unstuck. Now....this is bad.

I am 5 stories up. The phone is nowhere near me. I am tied to a hammock. By my very small bikini top. In the bright sun. I have sun screen on, but it's about 4 hours til Rich comes home and I don't really want to bake myself to a fritz. And boy can I sunburn. To add to this, I am RIGHT next to the glass wall, so anyone in the whole building next door, and many of the folks in our building, can see me really clearly. Not to mention the workmen who have built scaffolding on our building to fix some enginneering issues that have cropped up.

People, I am fucked.

I tried to just hang out calmly in the hammock, wiggle back and forth, hoping that however my top got IN the ropes it would work its way OUT. Nope. I gathered my book to my chest and used it as camouflage as I twisted my top around to see what was going on in back. OUCH.. That hurt. However, I could see that the hook of my top was double twisted in the rope... and it was no longer holding my top closed.

My only choice is to remove the top. I can't extricate myself any other way. FUCK.

I am not an exhibitionist. Especially on my own deck where the neighbors would forever remember me as that strange hammock-obsessed girl with the removable bikini top. (And these boobs have RARELY seen the light of day....which explains their perfection, if I do say so myself.)

I peeked out through the glass to see if anyone was looking, or out on their balconies. Pretty clear. The workmen were on a lunch break or something, I'm not sure, but they weren't in the immediate vicinity. It would be a simple matter, now that the back of my top was open, to wriggle out, leave the damn thing attached to the hammock and run like hell into the flat.

I gathered my book over my boobs (note to self: always read bigger books from now on, no small paperbacks), slipped the straps over my shoulders, rolled off the hammock onto the deck sans bikini top and ran like the dickens into the flat, clutching the book as tightly as possible. "A Million Little Pieces" became my One Great Hope of Modesty.

I am proud to report I only have one small bruise (besides that of my pride) from my roll off the hammock.

I came back outside clad now in a very large, hook-free t-shirt, and it took me about three minutes to get the top unhooked from the hammock. It was REALLY caught. Caught like a fish in a net.

Why do things like this happen to me? Do I have "dork" tattooed to my forehead? I mean, c'mon!


happy blogday to me! happy blogday to me! Happy BLOGDAY to meee-eeeee, happy blogday to me!

(The cake my Mom would have baked me had she been around today.)

It's been two years, people. TWO YEARS! (Well, officially the 17th, but that's a Saturday and no one seems to be around on Saturdays so I'm jumping the gun a day. I set up the blog on the 16th, though, but never got the courage to post until the 17th, so that sorta counts.)

Anyhow, I just wanna THANK you ALL for reading me and commenting and making me feel part of a community even though I am so far away. It's really amazing to me how I can still have my circle of friends no matter how separated we are. Some of you I've never even met face to face, but somehow, I think we will fix that someday. Seems there's airplanes that go EVERYWHERE!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pak Ou caves, Laos

I've been meaning to write about this, but got sidetracked many times. I'm finally getting around to it. One of the best things we did in Laos back in March (Oh my God is that already three months?) was a boat trip down the Mekong. I had no idea what to expect. What I got was amazement, wonder and awe. (Awww...)

Colleen rented us our very own long boat with driver and they picked us up at our hotel that was just on the outskirts of Luang Prabang. I knew NOTHING about the Mekong river. Colleen was very excited about the trip. It had long been a dream of hers to see it. During the Vietnam War, the Mekong played a pivotal role and she had heard and read so much about it, she wanted to see it for herself. It was very beautiful, peaceful, wide and calm. It wended its way through hills and farms amd forests and every mile or so we'd see a wat. Fisherman were out in force, fishing as they had for thousands of years. After about 2 hours of floating, we came upon this:

The entrance to Pak Ou cave. To say I was startled was an understatement. I mean...WOW?! It was immense and awe inspiring and craggy and daunting all at once. For hundreds of years it has been a holy place where Buddhas are retired. A damaged Buddha is considered bad luck, but obviously throwing it away is pretty bad, so they get "retired" to places like this. It's a very holy place, but unfortunately it's getting plundered at a pretty alarming rate. I climbed up the stairs to the entrance and paid my 50 cents to get in. I also bought incense for offerings.

Inside the cave. To the left is the river Mekong. The altar is in the middle.

Me in the cave. I was a bit overwhelmed, it was just so amazing. I honestly felt teary eyed for quite a while afterwards. It felt as holy as any place I have ever been.

Some of the Buddhas. The place was intense. I collect religious images and artifacts (I'm not religious, but am fascinated with iconography) and am amassing a fairly good range of Marys, Buddhas and icons. This place was a Buddha collectors dream. I was enthralled. I have a couple Buddhas that are very similar to these and are at least 50 years old. One is over 500. There were conservatively 10,000 in that cave, and thinking that many have been stolen and sold on the black market....that's alot of Buddhas.

Buddhapolooza. It was gorgeous. The place smelled of mud and river and dust and old wood and incense. I'll never forget the smell.

Side view of the altar in the cave, looking toward the river. Laos Buddhas differ from Thai, as do Burmese. Each country has a different style. (The wats are different architecture as well.) Once you know the differences it's not hard to see them. Kind of like the difference between a Greek icon and a Russian one.

Some monks. This was toward the back of the Upper Cave at Pak Ou. There are two caves, actually, the lower one that you see from the river, (and all the pictures above this one) and then a higher one a very steep climb up many steps. Most people don't venture up there once they see that staircase, but intrepid me went for it. (Though I did have to take a break once I got to the top because that was ALOT of stairs.) It was very dark inside the Upper Cave but luckily there was a guy at the entrance who handed me a flashlight. Once my eyes acclimated, however, I didn't really need it. This upper cave was not as elaborate as the lower one, nor filled with as many statues, but if felt very dark, cave-y and spooky. It echoed at the slightest move and there was a space in the middle that was roped off, for what looked like rituals and ceremonies. It gave me the willies. I don't know why.
I got the picture of the monks out of pitch black, I set the camera on "night" and pointed it at them, hoping for something good, and I was rather pleased at this. Their robes glow in the available light. Their presence helped me not feel so freaked out.

On the way back down the stairs I had to pee real bad. I hadn't gone in like, 6 hours. Here's why I held it for so long:

A SE Asian toilet. You put your feet on either side of the bowl on the right, and sort of squat. I could never figure out which way you faced, forwards or backwards? so I just stepped right up facing it, afraid of stepping on to it backwards for fear of falling in. To the left is a trough of water with a handled bucket. After you do your duty (or dooty, which, sorry, I just COULD NOT do in those circumstances, ever) you dump a bucket full of water into the bowl and it flushes right down. Clever system in that it works just like a normal toilet. (And yes, they do use toilet paper (thank GOD) but it gets thrown away, not flushed, which made for some nasty bathroom smells from the open trashcans in every bathroom.) This also explains why I frequenly saw footprints on the seats of traditional "sit" toilets in SE Asia. Folks are just used to standing, not sitting.

And for the record, this was a VERY clean toilet by local standards. I rarely saw any that were just too disgusting for use. I was usually favorably impressed by the toilets wherever I went. Or, at least, not horribly grossed out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

**ffrrp* *buurrrp* ('scuse me)


Just got back from the Hard Rock Cafe, Oslo.

I actually had fairly low expectations because it seems like many "American style " places around here just never really get it. I mean, it's close, but there is always something not quite right and it ruins the experience. (Like the time I order fajitas and they came cold with more pineapple and corn than chicken pieces and with parsley as the main seasoning. Not terrible, mind you, but not actual, real fajitas.) (Let me also say, I rarely eat at American style places, but sometimes, you just gotta have a bite of home, you know? So back off, all you people who think we only want things the American way. That's not the case at all.) Also, we had a disapointing experience at a Hard Rock in Copenhagen last time we were there, so I did not expect much.

Lemme tell ya, the Hard Rock did not disappoint. In a word, YUM.

We started off with a plate of nachos, which cost just over $20. We didn't flinch (much) because that's par for the course here. Things just cost. You get used to it. When the nachos arrived, I was BLOWN away by how BIG they were. Like, real, big American nachos! Big! Huge! Cheesy! They even had JACK cheese on them. Jack cheese is not available in grocery stores. I even asked the waitress to find out where it came from, she said that the Hard Rock IMPORTS it! Jack Cheese! Oh heaven! Those nachos were so worth the cost, especially by Norwegian portion standards. It would have fed us for a week......

We ate every bite of that whole huge plate of nachos. Beans, guac, salsa, pico, cheese, chips, everything. I swear, I felt like I had just come off a desert island and landed on some sort of American food heaven alternate universe. They were perfect in every way. Oh, Lord, yes, I now have a place to go for my cheesy Mexican cravings.

Rich ordered a burger for his main, and I ordered fajitas. I was impressed when the waitress asked me how I wanted them cooked. Wow, I get a choice? I said rare as I can get 'em. Rich asked for medium rare for his burger.

Burgers are always dicey to order hereabouts. I got one, once, at TGI's in Oslo, and it was tiny and dry. This is a common problem throughout Europe, with burgers. I usually just save the craving for when I get home. I mean, burgers are NOT a native European food, so I don't expect perfection, but I continue to try every so often when the cravings hit too hard. I got the fajitas because I figured less chance of disappointment and they came with more JACK cheese...yum!

When the food came....I was almost jealous of Rich's burger. It was BIG it was JUICY it was flame broiled and it was GOOD. A perfect burger. A perfect, $20 burger. The onion rings were gorgeous, crispy and oniony good.

My fajitas were good, too. Cooked to order, the beef nice and rare and the chicken flavored nicely as well. Loaded with cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and CHEESE! Unfortunately, the nachos were so good and so big that by the time I got my food....I could only eat the one taco. I felt like a total wimp. I finally get to strap on a Texas sized food bag...and I can't do it. Damn my European influenced eating habits. Make them go away!

To drink I had a Hurricane (I splurged, it cost around $17, but it was good, ) and Rich had two Guinnesses. I was just about as happy as a Karla can be, especially when they played a NIN song directly followed by Cameo's "Word Up". I figure, any restaurant that will play Nine Inch Nails and feed me jack cheese is alright with me.

As for dessert? We wimped out. Just could not do it. We really wanted to, but the bellies did not want what the heads wanted and we urped our way out of the joint happy and fat.

Total spent including a large-by-Norwegian-standards tip was 900 nok, which is about $145. Expensive, sure, but cheaper than a ticket home.

Happy Birthday honey. I sure am glad I got to share that one with you.......

Monday, June 12, 2006

hard rock oslo

Tomorrow is Rich's birthday and to celebrate we are going to the Hard Rock Cafe, Oslo. It opened last December and I have yet to get there.

I'm quite excited. Not really because it's a Hard Rock (been there done that) but that I get to have AMERICAN food cooked by someone other than me! Woo! Oslo also has a TGI Friday's that I have been to a few times, but to be honest it's not that great (even if I am craving US food it still disappoints) and it's crashingly expensive. I never spend under $75 there, and for that kind of food, that is way too expensive. Even if they refill your Cokes "American style" every two seconds. It might be the only place in Oslo with free Coke refills. The Cokes do cost around $5 bucks, though, so they should be refilled often, no?

I'm sure Hard Rock will be pricey as well, all restaurants here are, but I can only hope the appetizers will be appropriately greasy and salty, cheese will be properly melty, the burgers properly oversized and juicy and the Cokes never ending.....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

it's the day.....

Today is the day that all us folks living in Norway look forward to all the long winter. (And spring and sometimes, fall as well.)

It's that perfect summer day. Temps range in the mid to lower 80's. Clear sky. The pollen storm we've been under for the past few weeks has finally ended. (Everything is coated in yellow pollen dust. I am SO glad I don't have allergies, it's got to be miserable with THAT much pollen around.) No clouds, no haze, green trees and flowers blooming everywhere.

The plaza beneath us is buzzing as an African band plays drums and xylophones ("more cowbell!") and food sizzles and arts and crafts sellers sit in the sun behind their tables (why am I not selling any jewelry down there today, I ask myself?) and kids frolic naked in the fountains, chased by their not-much-more-clothed parents.

When it's 80 degrees outside, all of Norway comes out to play. All in their best linens and sundresses and shorts and summer clothes that they all better wear NOW because God knows how long we will get to wear them....though the weather seems to say it's a high pressure zone over us right now that might last over a week.

A whole week. It's like summer holiday but I don't have to face the lines at the airport!

Friday, June 09, 2006

...and then, of course, there's another strike.

As I have been reminded, there was also a meteor strike.

I can think of a few places I would have liked that meteor to land.

ENOUGH with the strikes already!

France has a reputation for its worker strikes. People all over always hear about the strikes in France, for trains or transport or whatever, and we all think "Jeez, just go to work already".

Then I come to Norway, and damn, every summer it's the same thing. Strikes strikes strikes.

One summer it was the grocery transport workers. They protested for weeks and it got very hard to get groceries (especially toilet paper!) for a while there. Empty grocery stores are a depressing thing.
The guys who fix the elevators went on strike at the airport and the elevators did not work for months.

The airport traffic controllers strike frequently, as do the workers at SAS/Braathens. NICE when you go to the airport and it's chaotic.. Lately there have been problems with the security folks at the airports and the lines to get through security are LONG.

There are strikes for groups I am not sure who they are.....Like these guys.

And strikes for: TV workers. Soccer players. Ferry drivers. Phone company workers. Musicians. But now?

Now I'm pissed. The bank workers want to strike, and there have been crazy lines at all the ATM's because everyone is running to get some money before the threatened strike.

Right now I just have no sympathy. Norwegians are among the highest paid in the world, and striking for anything other than really heinous worker mistreatment is just not on. Shutting down the country's financial economy? Denying me access to MY money and EVERY financial transaction? You better be treated like a slave before you shut me down.....

And yes, I was in a union, once, and I fucking hated it. The rules of this particular union were so stifling it prevented any individuality or self-motivation in job performance, because it was all about seniority and nothing else. I understand worker's rights, but sorry, these guys are taking it too far. Here's an interesting article about this same topic by a very smart Norwegian.

Now, it's a beautiful day and I get to spend part of it standing in line at an ATM. Grrr....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

...and the world as we know it, ends.

Sometimes you come across something on the web that just boggles the mind.

Consider my mind boggled after finding this, when searching for a recipe of a COMPLETELY different nature.

World, I give you: Spam Wine.

(I can hear the gagging sounds floating around the earth as we speak....)

Milano! Aldo!


If it is your first time to Europe, I would not start in Milan. Most people, well, American people, think of sidewalk cafes, slow strolls down romantic streets and old buildings when they think of a trip to Italy. If that's what you are after, Milan is not your town. Sidewalk cafes are not near as prevalent as I would have thought, Milan is very industrial and fairly modern and it ain't no strolling town. It's go go go, all the time. In fact, Milan reminded me of Oslo....very similar buildings, streetcars everywhere, people zipping hither and thither and a paucity of remaining historical sites, compared to other Italian towns. (Milan was seriously bombed in WWII.) It feels almost...gritty.

That being said, I liked Milan. No, it's not on the top of my list as far as European cities, but it's got its charms.
It's easy to get around, especially once you figure out the tram system, which is very convenient.
The people are very nice.
The shopping is great. Even in the snootiest stores, the salespeople are, as a rule, very friendly. (Yes I went to Prada and Cavalli and Louis Vuitton. Yes I felt comfortable in there. No, it was not like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman", you know where she goes shopping and they won't help her?) (Oh and oddly enough, I bought nothing, as what I did want they never had my size**, and what they did have in my size I did not want. This proves my life-long theory: When you actually have money and want to shop, there is nothing to buy. You only find the great stuff when you are poor, then you want EVERYTHING.Which is why rich people stay rich, when you can have it all, why bother?)
The Duomo, the cathedral there, is fabulous, especially the outside, because they let you climb around on the roof. I felt like I was climbing around on a giant wedding cake.
And the weather was GORGEOUS.

Our hotel was WONDERFUL. The Hotel Lancaster, the staff were the friendliest I have ever encountered in a hotel, the room was great and the bathroom was 5 star quality. I LOVED the bathroom. The only problem is that the Lancaster is in a sort of boring area, there is nothing nearby in terms of restaurants and so on, so you have to walk or catch a tram to get to where the action is. However, the hotel itself more than made up for the lack of stuff to do around it, so I give it a big thumbs up.

** Hello, people at Hogan? I really want those silver and black sandals you had..can you PLEASE find me a size 41 somewhere?


For me, the highlight of the trip to Milan was getting my hair done at Aldo Coppola. Ladies, if you find yourself in Milan, and you've got curly hair, go to Aldo Copploa and get yourself a haircut! It will cost a bomb, but it's worth it.

After my recent hair disaster, I'd been feeling pretty scruffy. I needed a cut, I needed a color adjustment and I honestly needed an attitude adjustment, too, as I've been down on myself and feeling pretty gnarly. So I gathered up my courage and trudged up the the 8th floor of the Rinascente department store, directly across from the Duomo, to get my hairs prettied up. I don't know about you, but walking cold into a (you think) snooty hair salon in a foreign country where you can't say "boo" in the language is a bit scary. But I was desperate. So I did it.

It was a bit touch and go in the beginning. I was trying to describe my recent hair disaster to folks who spoke VERY LITTLE English and my choice of words may have caused a few disconnects. When I mentioned I wanted permanent color, they thought I wanted a perm! So I backed WAY off that, and finally grabbed a swatch of hair from underneath my head, at the nape of my neck and pointed at it and said "good natural color" and pointed at the carrot-y top of my head and said "bad, mistake color". Luckily, I am a bit of a ham and an actress, so communicated by way of facial language, hand gestures and the odd word or two. A very small perky guy came up, showed me some color samples of hair and told me he would mix them together to get me back to my natural shade of auburn. I said "good?" and he said, "good". So he took me to the back of the place, glopped some goo on my head and half an hour later I had FABULOUS rich, deep natural color, like what I was born with, but better. Lots better. And way more expensive.

For the cut, I basically made lion noises and fluffed my hands around my head in the international sign of "big hair" and this tiny guy laughed and said "Ah! Italy hair!" and made my hair his bitch within 15 minutes. His scissors flew about my head, he hopped around and flashed about and practically had to stand on my shoulders to cut my hair, he was so short, but when he was done, I gotta say, I was gorgeous. Auburn, wild maned, la dolce vita out of Texas, gorgeous.

The next day I wore my contacts ( I usually hide behind my glasses), made up my eyes and with the red hair flying and the green eyes flashing, I felt great. I sashayed about Milan like an old style Italian movie starlet. If there had been a fountain, I would have frolicked in it. I got flirted on madly by men in the street, in shops, in was just what a girl needed to keep her confidence up. Apparently, Italian men like tall, curvy, slightly goofy Texan gals with deep auburn (titian) hair and green eyes. Hell, even my own HUSBAND flirted with me, and girls, seriously, when was the last time your husband flirted with you?

So, yeah, in 4 months or so, you might see me flying back to Milan just to go to Aldo Coppola to get my hair cut again....

Oh, and did I mention the view from the salon while I was getting my hair cut?

Friday, June 02, 2006


(Mmm...Mint Milanos. DAMN this diet. Any word you say lately makes me think of a food that I like. And that I probably miss. It's kind of sucking. However, I am NOT the sort of dieter who denies myself everything and can only have three carrots and an egg white a day. It's all about moderation. Basically, what works for me is just cut the calories, but how you get those calories is up to you. Thus, if I want that bowl of Fruit Loops, I am gonna have it. Just skip the mocha instead. Have lettuce instead of that tortilla. You know the drill.

Um...this was not what I was going to write about, however. Not at all. So shut me up on all this diet shit, which is boring anyhow, and move the fuck on...oh, but my friend Mary did tell me yesterday my face was looking thinner, so maybe I've lost a few ounces?

We're going to Milano! (cookies) (damn)

Ok, so I have my wardrobe all planned for Milan. I'm going with a brown and white with silver theme. I did need to buy one pair of shoes to make it totally work (and DAMN I wish I had gotten that cute white and brown Coach purse I saw at the outlets in San Marcos last would have worked perfectly with all this stuff. It was really, REALLY on sale and I loved it, but didn't get it. Foot, meet Ass. Kick at will.) The shoes I got are white Aerosoles, which is ironic in that in the US they cost about $35 and here? Substantially more. But maybe I will appreciate them that much more? I AM wearing them today, so that is a start. I realized it's the first pair of shoes I've bought, March? And that may well be a total Karla record.

I'm not bringing ANY jeans to Milan, except a white pair a la Elizabeth Hurley, though in a substantially bigger size. Then it's all just a medley of brown and white, but also a really cute brown and white woven straw hat I got at H&M to sort of finish it off. So I have to weigh the options...nice fluffy hair or cute hat (but with hat hair)? Hmmmm.

I am also going to see about getting my hair cut in Milan. And possibly getting some sort of reparation to the recent damage I did to the color, which is starting to show again with the semi-permanent color wearing off.

It's been 6 weeks or so since I've traveled anywhere. That might be part of why I have been so glum. No trips to look forward to. I need to keep in travel practice. One hard part has been my travel buddies have all moved away, so no girls to jaunt off with anymore. Not like last year.

Oh, and here's a news flash! I just saw an ad on tv for a brand new product, never before available in Norway. All the ads are all touting this "new" product. Guess what it is?

Rice Krispies. New!

Yeah. We are finally getting Rice Krispies. Wonder how much negotiating with the customs folks they had to do to bring THOSE in here.