Monday, April 30, 2007

I totally stole this quote from Malcontent Mama

""...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." Jack Kerouac THAT'S what I am after. And, in many ways, who I am. (Except I yawn...can't help it,.dammit. I get tired sometimes.)

Thanks, Mama.

famous people sightings

Walking down a street in Spitalfield's we came across these two dapper gentlemen in matching suits, walking towards us. One of them had his arms up, wrists sort of pointed foreward, forearms in a protective gesture, as if he was saying "Ew. Hoi Polloi, Plebians, don't touch me". I, of course, noticed this, as I somehow was in the exact positon on the sidealk to walk directly between said dapper gentlemen. I mentioned this to Julia. In a taunting tone of voice.

Found out five minutes later that those gentlemen were Gilbert and George, famous artists, subject of a very large exhibit at the Tate Modern, and also residents of the very street were were strolling down.

So much for my artsy knowledge.

Then, today, as I ran up Southwark Street to catch my train to Heathrow, I was cut off by a very large and very posh car, with a royal crest on top. I sort of peered in, as I was tired and was thinking maybe it was a really nice cab and I could get a ride to Heathrow, but, no, it was a member of the royal family, and I think it was a prince. A YOUNG prince.

I do wish the royal family would quit trying to run me over. It's getting tedious.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Whizzing through London

Bullet point post.....

  • My bladder is really small.
  • So is Julia's.
  • Mine's smaller though.
  • I've pissed in every starbucks in London.
  • Hint: Starbucks are good places to stop for a pee.
  • Second hint: Way better than McDonald's. my old standby.
  • STarbucks smells better
  • I sepnt two bucks on pissing today, I had to go to some pay toilets.
  • My feet hurt
  • We've walked alot.
  • I really should wear more sensible hsoes.
  • Though I thought my sandals WERE sensible
  • How did gladiators fight battles in gladiator sandals when my feet hurt so bad from merely walking in them?
  • Damn Romans.
  • We did the Jack to Ripper walking tour today.
  • It was good, except i had to pee like, the whole time.
  • And there were no Starbucks or open anythings, so I had to hold it.
  • Oy.
  • Today we walked from Green park through St James and then up to Buckingham Palace.
  • Julia wanted to hang out with the Queen.
  • So did about one million other people.
  • We didn't get to hang with her.
  • Though she almost ran me over once, about two years ago.
  • Bitch.
  • Just kidding.
  • Then we walked to Westminster Abbey and around the Houses of Parliament.
  • Then we caught the Tube at Embankment and over to Spitalfields.
  • I had to pee twice.
  • I bought an antique nightgown which I will use as a slip.
  • After the Jack the Ripper tour tonight, as we got off the Tube at Mansion house station, that guy that sang to me last time was there and he sang again.
  • He has a good voice.
  • I'm glad Julia saw that.
  • We've had fun.
  • Didn't drink all that much this trip.
  • Last time we were here together was in 1987.
  • That was 20 years ago.
  • So we'll maybe do it again in 2027.
  • We'll be 60.
  • Ugh.
  • Julia's really tired.
  • She will have flown halfway around the world by the time she gets home.
  • What a stud.
  • Though most of it was business class, so I am not crying for her too much.
  • She has to catch a cab at 5am tomorrow.
  • I will go back to bed.
  • Back home for me tomorrow.
  • I want a hot bath.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In which I am pissed off at H&M

I have made no secret of my love and admiration for H&M. While it is definitely a self serve sort of place (service? What service?) I always manage to find cute things there that, even though they are manufactured by the millions, still manage to be cute, unique and garner me complements. Which is why today was so disappointing. I mean, I expect crappy service but today's lapse was, by American or even Norwegian service standards, appalling.

So, I found a cute dress at the H&M on Long Acre street, by Covent Garden. (Yes, I am in London a day ahead of Julia so I can get my shopping yaya's out of the way so she won't be bored. Yes, I am an AWESOME friend.) There was a sign above the rack that said all the dresses on that rack were £10 off. Hey, not a bad deal, that was like a 30% discount, and I liked the dress, so SCORE.

Except, when I went to go pay, the girl at the checkout rang it up at full price. I pointed it out to her, and she said that the discount only applied to dresses on the OTHER side of the rack. But....But...the sign directly above my dress said £10 off. Why would they put a sign on that side if it only applied to the other side? "Oh", she said flippantly. "Our signs only come two sided. So we had to sign both sides, it's how our sign holders work. The other side is not on sale".

"Um, what? Your signs only come two sided and none of you Einsteins thought that maybe it was possible to COVER the side that did not apply?" (I asked that, but without the Einstein remark.)

"Well, nobody else has said anything until now".

Ok, listen sweetie. I have worked retail for many years. I've been a manager, a visual merchandiser, a sales person and everything in between. I've been a poet, a pauper a pawn and a king. I've been up and down and over and under...oh rats, that's off topic.

If the SIGN SAYS IT, THEN THAT IS WHAT IT COSTS. IF YOU MADE THAT MISTAKE AND MISLED ME, THAT IT YOUR PROBLEM, NOT MINE. As a gesture of good faith, you give me the PRICE THAT IS SIGNED! If you don't want to give the discount, then cover the sign! This is basic retail management/customer relations/me not kicking your ass basic intellegence.

I called over a manager. Explained the situation. She said, "But our signs come two sided."

Gah! And does your amp go to 11, you stupid git?????

Guess what? They wouldn't give me the discount. Didn't care, no discussion, fuck you, we're H&M and there are people in line behind you and we are a Giant Conglomerate with No Soul.

I didn't buy the dress. And that pisses me off even more because my PRINCIPLES got in the way of CUTENESS and that is INEXCUSABLE.

I am now drinking beer to assuage my anger. DAMMIT! I could have been drinking beer in that CUTE DRESS!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'll be in London until Monday with my friend Julia. Posting might be sporadic. But then, it might be drunk, also, and I don't know about you, but sporadic might be a vastly better alternative.

I don't want to embarrass myself any more than I have to.

And yes, I always look like that when I am with friends. That's us on the Mosel River in Germany a couple years ago. I believe we had had some beers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

shape color and texture in Istanbul

Fish in the fish market. So unbelievably fresh, they were alive just five minutes ago.
The side of a building.
Cans of spray paint for sale.
Colored powder.. to make paint with, or for color washes. It was very enticing, like a paint box from when I was a kid, or like a bunch of buckets for coloring Easter Eggs. I just wanted to dive in and get it all smooshy in my hands.
All the gorgeous fruit and veg, so beautifully displayed.

after school snacks

I've been making a big effort to wean myself off the floury stuff (yesterday's gorging on boller not withstanding, yes I'm weak so bite me ok?) I've been trying to come up with creative things to eat that also pack a nutritional punch. Hard boiled eggs are working well, as they are very filling and do alot for the relatively low calories. These whole wheat high fibre "extreme breads" they have here also work out ok. Carrots, strawberries, yoghurt, I'm trying it all. Must overcome the carb cravings.

The other problem I face, besides the urge for bread, is that after work I like something a little crunchy. A little crispy. A little fattening in the extreme. A little after school snack, if you will. Cheezy Poofs anyone? I need a replacement for Cheesy Poofs.

Today I might have found the thing. The thing that could replace my urge to crunch chips, Krizpy Cheez Kruncherz (logo in our house, "Smells like ass but taste better n' Cheetos!"), chaw popcorn and scarf peanuts.

Pomegranate seeds! Ever eaten the inside of a pomegranate? I'd had them as garnish on a variety of Middle Eastern foods before, but had never opened one and really eaten it as a food by itself (even though we actually ahve a pomegranate tree in our backyard in Austin.) Well, I'll tell you, they are a bugger to get open, they make a mess, and I discovered the only proper way to get out the seeds is to literally rip open the outer shell so that all the little bits inside sort of explode out. You then sort of shear them out with your fingers, unlike, say, a cob of corn where a knife works best. I made a huge mess, which I hope I cleaned up to Anal Boy's satisfaction. (Oops, he just came in and obviously, judging by the disgusted sighs and sponge swiping, I did not meet his standards.)

But...once you get the innards out, you are left with these amazing, sweet, bright red miniature Explod-O-Pops that just go "Ping!" in your mouth when you eat them. It's like if cherry Kool Aid and popcorn got their freak on and had babies. It's the best world of candy and crunch and juicy yummy fruitiness all rolled into one, as I understand, astoundingly antioxidant and healthy snack food!

I totally wonder how these would taste on toasted boller.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I am a bread whore

Dammit. Some people are addicted to crack. Others, need chocolate. And then there's the drunks. Lots of folks like the drinks.

Me? Bread. Give me yeasty bready goodness and I fall to my knees like a cheap 10 dollar hooker on an Oslo street corner. I cannot resist bread or any baked good. Shove a chocolate bar in my face, and I'll shrug and yawn. But a brownie? Or cake? Or fluffy bread? I'll bite your hand off in my eagerness to get it.

Today I had to run into Oslo for an errand, and there, on KarlJohansgate is the United Bakeries. It was right in my path. Right in the way. Right...there. I could not avoid it. It's pretty new. It's also very fucking dangerous.

I've written about my predilection for boller? Well, they had some that were Brobdingnagian in proportion to the ones I usually have. All fluffy and soft inside but with an egg white coating of shiny bready goodness just glistening and calling to me in the window. "Karla!", it sang out in a yeasty sweet whisper. "Eat me.....EAT ME....I'm your perfect bun!!!!"

How could I resist? HOW I ask you? HOW? (I only ate the circumstances I thought that was rather good.)

I've been trying really hard not to eat white flour. But the vagaries of my hormonal cycles (this is Hungry week, which means next week is Fat and Bloated week) and that horrible, evil, beautiful, lust-inducing bakery are more than I can resist.

Now I am going for a walk. I figure if I walk about 10 miles I can work off half that bolle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Go see it.

It spoofs not only the buddy cop movie genre (including my personal favorite, Point Break), but also the quaint English country village genre (a la Calendar Girls or Waking Ned Devine). And somehow, it manages to blend them seamlessly, with a kick ass ending AND great dialogue. It also has some of the most realistic gory special effects I have ever seen, so that you are totally grossed out, laughing and going "Whafuck?" all at the same time.

It was a really good movie. I'll never look at a cop movie, grocery shopping or the quaint English village the same.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Istanbul people

A random sampling of pictures I took of people. In Istanbul. Jeez, as if the title doesn't already explain?

A headless guy. For a guy with no head, he was really good at not falling over or running into other people.
I like the sign at this kebab shop that says "Sorry We're Open". Not that it encouraged me to eat there or anything. There's humor and then there is botulism, you know?

A bunch of women in the black robes. They would take pictures of each other, and all that showed from the robe was a sliver of eye. I was like, "Well, how do you tell who is who?"

Rich at Ceferaga Mederse. Good tea and sweets. Nice place. Ancient, built by Sinan. If you've ever been to Istanbul, that name will quickly become very recognizable.

Some guys standing around talking. Turks are very laid back and sociable. Nothing is as important as the chat and the tea.

I'll sleep when I'm dead, right?

I went out Wednesday night, and last night, and I am scheduled to go out again tonight. I am a party girl this week, apparently. Of course, being an OLD party girl means I am so damned tired. But, I have my public to think about, so out I will go again tonight. And next weekend I will be in London hanging with my bud- since -I -was- 5, Julia, so I figure I can sleep again starting in May. Yeah. May is good for sleep.

In other, rather hilarious news, this morning a dude on the train TOTALLY let one rip. He let out the biggest, ass-flapping, cheek warbling fart I have ever heard from someone I am not related to. I mean, wow. On the train. With other people around! And he didn't bat an eye! (Though the rest of us did...and we batted the air from our faces as well.)

It was pretty funny, and the Beavis and Butthead side of me was all "Dude! Do you need TP for your bunghole?" But the other, morning, I have not had coffee yet so you better not fuck with me side, was totally grossed out, not least because my sense of humor does not kick in until said coffee is ingested. The rest of the people on the train looked bemused, like, "Did that really happen?", and I actually made eye contact with a few of them, in a smirking reaffirmation that yes, a giant ass flapping fart did, indeed, occur.

The trip home from work was fart free, however the Train Cops were out in force, making sure we all had our passes up to date and current. (Note to self: Mine expires tomorrow, so I need to renew it.) The Train Cops will just invade the Passholder's carriages en masse and without warning, after a train has left a station, so there is no way to get away unnoticed if you are trying to get a free ride on the train. (There are two classes of carriage, one that has a conductor for those who don't have a ticket already and need to pay on the train, and one without a conductor for people with passes or pre-paid tickets. If you are caught on the passholder's carriage without a ticket, there is no excuse for it, you are busted.)

The Train Cops come in two forms, the Commando style ones, in the black combat boots and black military style sweaters, and the cuter, less threatening Old Skool ones, with the little conductor's caps, bright blue vests and natty bow ties. I like them best, especially as many of them still carry on the tradition of keeping a watch on a chain in their vest pockets, which they use frequently to check that time so they can whistle for the train to continue on its journey. There is something so evocative about that specific movement of removing the watch from the pocket, checking the time and then putting it back. Sort of an old fashioned motion that is no longer necessary, along the lines of the classic one handed metal lighter flick or the delicate glamourous pose of the lady with the cigarette in her long cigarette holder. Old fashioned and charming. Just no longer as common.

The Train Cops did catch one couple today on our carriage, but I sort of think the woman was on some sort of drugs? As she moved reeeeaaaallllyyyy sloooow. I kept thinking of a sloth as I watched her move. There was something definitely wrong there. That did not excuse her from getting a ticket, though, and she just accepted it in a rather bovine manner. People never fight when they get busted, because they know they are caught and that is all there is to it.

Now I have to go get changed for the evening's festivities. Oy. Will I get the energy going?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I'm drunk. Not that that applies to this post in any way shape or form. Just thought you should know.

And I did my Norwegian taxes today. It took all of five minutes. I went to the tax office and handed them my tax forms. (Here in Norway, you get a tax form that is already filled out for you. It's not like in the US, where you have to bugger about and find all your financial shit and fill it in yourself. Here, they have it all and they "pre do" your taxes for you, then send them to you in the mail. You can then add anything you need to if they've got it wrong or whatever. Vere sensible, in my book.) So I took a number to wait in the queue, waited around for about 6 minutes, then after they called my number, I handed her the form and gave her the sheepish "help I am an expat and can't speak Norwegian Tax language" look.

She laughed and said, 'Do you agree with this form?"

I said "Um, is that number there how much I will get back?"

She said "Yes, though you will also get some interest on that as well".

I said, "Well then, yes, I agree".

She said "Sign here".

I signed.

She said thanks, dropped my tax form into the bin, and the next person was called.

I was all, Dude that is SO much better than in the US.

She laughed.

Taxes done.


I celebrate everything with beer.

And then it gets worse.....

...along the lines of the previous post about airline seating? Check this out! (Link sent thanks to the hubby.)

Hell, compared to this, the other configuration looks luxurious.

I swear, we are about to be put in the equivalent of the slave galleys of old. Pack us in like sardines and hope we make it alive to the destination.

I dunno about you....but I refuse to accept this and I certainly would not ever pay for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What do you think of this

This is a new proposed configuration for economy seating in airplanes.

What do you think?

not really any words to express

There's really not much I can say about what happened in Virginia except that my condolences and thoughts are with everyone there. How horrible.

After this occurrence......Do we REALLY need automatic weapons in the US? Just wondering.

Monday, April 16, 2007

So I'm a geek. Bite me. (Please.)

I never thought I'd do a post like this, but here we go. Opinions change, people grow and I like to discover new things, so hey, I’m a big geek, there you have it. Surprised? No, me neither. (I’ve always been a geek, I just always hid it under nice clothes. So maybe I should say that I have now reached a new, different plane of geekiness, shall we?)

It all started when I went to the sci-fi/fantasy/comic/geek store in Oslo to buy this. I am a huge Buffy and Joss Whedon fan, and so, even though I generally tend to not like graphic novels or comic books, I decided to give it a whirl because I really, REALLY want to see what Joss had envisioned for Buffy after the season 7's destruction of the Hellmouth and Sunnydale. I keep hoping for a Buffy movie. Anyone? Anyone?

Looks like I might not find out, however, as the issue was sold out at the geek store and at Amazon as well. Not only is it sold out, but it looks like the issue, which is supposed to sell for $2.99, is being sold for $39.99, so I think I am hosed. I was out-geeked, and speedily at that. This is a little galling, as I really, REALLY don’t ever buy comics, so for me to deign to do it this once was something of a miracle. In fact, when I told Rich I wanted to go to the geek store, he was all "Huh? Why?".

First I told him I wanted to check out all the hot dudes trading D&D playing cards, but he didn’t fall for that. When I told him I wanted the Buffy comic, he teased me for being such a nerdy fan, but then his eyes lit up as he realized, hey, HE could go too. He loves the geek store. He's WAY geekier than me. (Let’s face it, it IS basically a giant toy store for grown up boys.) The geek store is one of the few reasons I can get him into Oslo. The other being the nachos at Hard Rock Café.

Anyhow, after trundling all the way into Oslo and getting shot down on my Buffy lust, I had a wander around the shop and realized……eek! I have actually been a sci-fi/fantasy geek for years, but no one clued me in! I figured, if you aren’t into Tolkien (which I am not) that you aren’t a fantasy fan and that is that. Turns out…WRONG!

They had many of my favorite authors, like all the Diana Gabaldon books.
They also had authors to fuel my vampire novel obsessions, such as everything by Laurell K. Hamilton (though I am now officially burnt out on her, got to be too confusing as to who Anita Blake was ardeuring with now…I mean, give the poor girl’s hoochy a break!). All the stuff by Anne Rice. Then they had some vampire authors that I have just sort of checked out, like Susan Squires. (Rich calls the book by her that I just read my ‘regency vampire porn’. He’s kind of right. My favorite line of dialogue from this book went, “Now rub your fine English cock. I wish its service yet this night”, and she was NOT talking about chicken. Oy. Vey.)

Then there are the authors that I love who have nothing to do with vampires. William Goldman. Christopher Moore. Philip Pullman. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’sGood Omens”, which is the funniest book I’ve ever read. Douglas Adams.

While wandering through the now very exciting and overwhelming aisles in a state of geeked out bliss, I discovered a whole huge pile of books by Terry Pratchett, the Discworld series. I’ve never read them, but I know he’s fookin’ hilarious, and so I bought the first in that series and another one of his, aimed at older kids, called “The Wee Free Men” which has me giggling madly on every other page. It’s my exact sense of humor, and a bit like Harry Potter meets The Anti-Princess Bride.
What gets me is his imagery, I love imagining how some of his described things look. My imagination is very visual, so when I read I can see descriptions vividly and sometimes, in certain books, I get the giggles imagining (as in the case of Wee Free Men) a sheep moving very quickly and mysteriously backwards through a field of grass, bleating confusedly. (Turns out some of the Wee Free Men were stealing it. They are very tiny yet very, very strong. They each get under one leg and just walk off with the sheep.) I mean, c’mon! Tee-friggin’-hee!

Rich is getting annoyed with me because I keep giggling and reading passages from the book out loud to him. Maybe it does work better in the context of the story, but it’s just so cute!

After Wee Free Men I am starting the Discworld series. I think there are an awful lot of books there, but summer’s coming and I can sit out in the sun and geek out to my heart’s content. At the very least I will be a tanned geek. And with all the Nordic walking, a toned tanned geek. (This is the plan, at any rate.)

If anyone has that Buffy comic, Season 8, Issue #1, can you let me know what happens? Or anyone know where I can get one? And not for 40 bucks?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

drunken karma

Friday night we went for our usual after work 'knees up' at the local pub cum restaurant cum 'nightclub'. (Huh huh she said 'cum'.) When the generally cozy pub becomes a nightclub, the place just changes and every wierdo in our part of Norway comes out. Oh the stories I've heard...and the things I've seen. (No really, it's amazing. Truly.) Norwegians certainly enjoy their drunkenness and work it 100%. No holding back there.

It was kind of a wierd night, honestly, the vibe was funky. I think maybe most of us got too drunk too fast, it was a GORGEOUS day and we sat outside and drank beers for about three hours before we ate anything...and I don't know about everyone else but I was hungry as hell when I started off. So my three or four beers I had before I ate hit me like a ton o' bricks. I saw a few glassy eyed folks at our table by 9pm. I thought I was going to have to stumble home by 9:30, but rallied late in the game by judicious applications of water and a pause in the beer.

In a beautiful example of karma biting people in the ass, at one point I was charged into, practically knocked over and otherwise bodily walloped by the HUGE drunk guy who was sitting at a table behind me. I was standing, about to sit down and he just slammed into me like a ton of lard covered bricks. I, of course, protested, but he didn't even say 'scuse me' or anything, just gallumphed off to the toilets. (This happens alot, at the pub. Drunk people body slam you, you protest, they look right through you and move on. So much for the remnants of manners when drinking. They become my Instant Enemies and I give them Evil Glares for the rest of the night. I give good glare.)
Anyhow, about an hour later, drunk boy decides to dance, thinking, one can only assume, that he is the newest contestant in So You Think You Can Dance. He hefts himself onto the dance floor, the only person out there, glowing in his white shirt under the black lights and whirling funkydelic disco lights they gamely turn on every night after 11. He then does a singularly uncoordinated Drunken White Boy move...and falls crashing to the ground, sideways. It looked like nothing so much as a tree falling to the ground, you could almost hear the cartoon tree falling sounds.....eeeeeerrrrrooooowwwwwooosssh....BAM! He fell so hard the floor shook. I felt it, 20 feet away. Being drunk, of course, he was made of rubber, so just hopped right back up and pranced around with his arms in the air, all like, "Yeah! Woo! I'm drunk and I fell! I'm COOL!"

I laughed very, very hard. Evil, gasping, bwah haHAHAHAHAHAHA HA!!!!!!!!! laughter. It was very satisfying. It's good to know my evil dominion over space and time still works.

Our Friday nights are pretty wierd. But I like them. It's always a fun group of folks from every country in the world and there is never lack of interesting things to talk about, discover about each other or generally enjoy. Plus, it's really excellent watching the drunk guy fall over. Any suggestions on what I can make him do next week?

Friday, April 13, 2007

What I learned today

1. It's possible to put two contact lenses into one eye.

2. It's not comfortable.

3. You can't see a damned thing.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that Tales of a Texpatriate is a place where you can't learn! You may not have ever wanted to learn what I gots to teach, but you learn nevertheless. Thus endeth this lesson.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Turning Norwegian whether I want to or not

Imagine my surprise, today, when after going for my walk using the Nordic walking sticks (second time, more on that later) I go into my blog to do a post about the walk Blogger account was now in Norwegian. Not my blog, mind you, they hadn't Babel fished that, but all the things surrounding my blog, the background stuff, the dashboard, all of it, was in Norwegian. Whafuck?

Now, while I read it fairly well, and understand what's going on, I really didn't want to have to do all my management things in Norwegian, when I have a hard enough time understanding technical webby type stuff in English. When I blog I am half brain dead already, after a long day of work or whatever, so I really, REALLY don't want to put in any more thought than I have to. So, I was understandably miffed that suddenly I was being forced into Norwegian, after all that crap with the stupid Google takeover and new sign in process and shit. (Which, might I mention, I still hate and I miss my old, simple SHORT log in process.)

Anyhow, I understood HOW I was now considered Norwegian, as my ISP is Norwegian and well, I live here, but I did not like having the choice taken away from me without my consent, you know? I mean, bad enough that everytime I clear the browser history Google reverts to Norwegian, and I get Norwegian ads on any website I visit, and I read the news in Norwegian, and I get tons of Norwegian spam....but now my blog has to be in Norwegian without anyone telling me it was going to happen or giving me an easy out? Anyhow, I futzed around, cursing and cussing, clicking on everything I could and working my way through, when I finally found the explanation, below.

Eight New Languages for Blogger
Here at Blogger we believe that everyone all over the world should be able to express themselves online. When our attempt to translate into “love” (a supposedly universal language) failed, we decided to take the more effective route of translating our interface into rather more literal languages.

Today we've unveiled Blogger translated into: Nederlands, Türkçe, Dansk, Norsk, Svenska, suomi, Русский, and ภาษาไทย. This is in addition to the eleven language choices we already offer, bringing the total to 19!

To change the language in which you use Blogger, go to our Choose a Language page. To change your blog’s language, go to Settings > Formatting.

Thank effing God they gave me an out, as I was already composing nasty grams.

However, having my blog go Norwegian would just be another step in the assimilation that I seem to be undergoing. After the Great Skiing Experience of the other week, I got my Nordic walking sticks and have been overcoming my fear of looking like a goof and teaching myself how to use them. Turns out....ya just sort of walk and it works itself out. Easy peasy. Oh sure there are some small rules to follow (keep the sticks behind you and use the thrust from behind to push yourself forward, never bring them before your forward leg) but really....any idiot can do it. There are a few frustrating things, mostly having to do with adjusting to different surfaces (gravel on asphalt is very slippery and the little rubber bottoms just don't grab) but I am already noticing the extra workout in my upper body and somehow, oddly enough, it IS causing my posture when I walk to improve and my upper body tension to relax. I am pretty tired after the walks (I love to walk and rarely go less than three miles) and feel like I am getting a good workout.

Of course, so far the only other person I've met using the sticks has been a guy who was at least 70, but hey, the way I look at it, I am doing preventative knee maintenance and getting into what looks to be a big upcoming trend, so look at me being all Scandinavian and ahead of the curve! By the time we're 60, we'll ALL be using the sticks, though then we'll actually need them, even as we pretend it's just for exercise.

I also realized maybe I am more Norwegian than I thought (and way un Texan), as today I wore a dress with no tights, leggings or other leg coverings, just my screamingly white, bare legs, and I got some funny looks from a few folks. Then, I realized, that this morning as I went to work it was no more than maybe 50 degrees outside (7 Celsius), if that, and it DID NOT BOTHER ME AT ALL. In fact, in my little Zara wrap dress and light leather jacket, I was perfectly comfortable, waiting for the train in a patch of sunlight, in a temperature that in Texas would have me in a coat. This weekend we are supposed to get to 65, and I am going to sit outside in shorts and a t shirt and tan my white legs.....

God help me, I've been assimilated.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to make a long story...long

What we did in Istanbul- day by day, taken and expanded from notes Rich wrote in my little Mulberry notebook.

Friday March 30…I want Iskender.

Flew from Oslo to Istanbul, arrived at hotel and given a sales pitch for activities and apple tea on rooftop of hotel. Decided against taking hotel sponsored tours at overinflated prices and instead took the tram to Aksaray district and ate at Sait Iskender, where I had had amazing food when I stayed with Mom and Dad at the hotel across the street lastOctober. Aksaray District is kind of rough, rumored to be all Russian Mafia run, but once you’ve been there you aren’t scared anymore and it’s fine. I think Rich wigged a bit, though. Defintiely not a touristy area.

Saturday, March 31 Rain, Fish, the Orient Express and a Broken Ass.

Busy Day. Also very cold, rainy, windy. Crap weather. We saw Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern, walked around area, had lunch at local restaurant, Karadeniz, which ended up being one of the best cheapest meals we had there. Went and saw tomb of Sultan Ahmet, local ladies very rude to me. Walked around the Hippodrome, then wandered through Cavalry bazaar (old stables behind the Blue Mosque). Were going to go in to the Blue Mosque but I fell down hard on uneven pavement outside and decided, right, that’s it, bugger this tourist shit, I need a break. (If I was 70 or so that fall would have been a hip breaker).

Went back to hotel for brief rest and to sooth my bruised self. Glad I fell on fat part of hip and not the boney part. Did wrench my arm fairly well, though. Ow.

Took ibuprofen, and carried on via tram to Sirkeci station, to the old train station that used to be the end of the Orient Express. Had beer in the old very beautiful restaurant there. Rich said that when he was a baby he and his family took the orient Express Train from France to Istanbul. Cool.

Carried on from there to the Galata Bridge and then had dinner at pne of the many fish restaurants under the bridge. I don’t necessarily recommend them. The fish is fresh but the pricing is a bit strange and they are definitely out to screw you so you have to be VERY aware of prices and hidden charges. This is the biggest overall problem with Istanbul…everyone will screw you out of your money in the nicest way possible. You have to ask the price of everything you touch, eat or look at and then bargain hard. Never order food without first asking the price.

Sunday April 11, 2007 Palaces and More Fish

Weather started off crappy, but got better by afternoon.

Went to Blue Mosque, I did not fall, so that was fortuitous.

Saw the Baths of Roxelana, a very very beautiful hammam that is no longer in use, but is instead a fixed price carpet shop run by the state. They have left the hammam in its original state, however, and it is a shame that it is not still in use as it is exquisite. The rugs were decent prices, though. We both would have liked to have bought one, but apparently have opposite tastes in carpets (he wants brown and I don’t) so never settled on one. We were both united in our desire to NOT buy a rug from a traditional carpet seller. I was just not in the mood to bargain and did not want the hard sell. Strange, I was generally not in a shoppy mood the whole trip.

Went to Topkapi palace, waited forever to get into the harems. Breezed through rest of palace, too crowded to see the jewels, however, and no matter how impressive I am not willing to wait in a line that long.

Had lunch at Konalyi Café, on the back side of the Topkapi, overlooking the Bosphorus. Day was sunny and our overpriced lunch very satisfying.

Walked through Gulhane park, Great flowers. Tulip season, tulips are very popular in Turkey and Turkish art.

Tea at Cafer Aga Courtyard, an old medrese (Islamic school). Very nice, sunny, warm and not overpriced, huzzah!

Rested at hotel.

Tram across the Golden Horn to Beyoglu for a wander and fish dinner. Very fresh fish. Great atmosphere. Tea and dessert at one of the pasaji that are popular, got ripped off by waiter by forgetting cardinal rule and not asking price of dessert. Charged us 4x usual cost of baklava and tea. Grrr.r….

Walked back down very steep hill past Galata Tower (Genoese, 15th Cent.) and across bridge back to hotel. Saw largest rat I’ve ever seen. Cats everywhere, but this rat was a beast. The Cat Killer.

Monday April 2 Cruisin’

Took Bosphorus Cruise…10 turkish lira round trip for all day boat ride, great deal. Boat stops at Anadolu Kavagi for three hours, so we had a nice fish lunch and took a ‘short walk’ (according to guidebook) up to castle on top of hill. “Short Walk” is a bit of an understatement, more like “giant fucking uphill hike” but we made it and had views of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus. Then clambered back down where lunch was highly deserved. Gorgeous day.

After boat tour, ended about 4:30, went to New Mosque (new as in 15th century), the Egyptian Bazaar, the pet market outside there, Rustem Pasa Mosque (gorgeous little jewel of a mosque) and then wandered around the alleyways behind the Egyptian Bazaar. Many alleyways all bustling with activity and shops. Took tram back to Sultanahmet area and had dinner at the Sultanahmet Khoftesi, the original one, where you get a great basic meal for cheap. Yum. Once again the cheap places are the best. Crashed at about 10pm.

Tuesday April 3 Shop til you Drop

Rich geeked out at the Archeological Museum all morning and most of afternoon. Saw some Byzantine ruins (many of those around) and then wandered through Gulhane Park where he had tea.

I went to the Grand Bazaar, where I bought some beautiful Iznik style plates and bowls and house hold stuff. (I wanted new dishes.) I had a nice lunch at the Bazaar guided by my new friend Mustafa, who sold me some of the plates I bought. I had met him on my previous visit. He remembered my parents. I was also offered portage services by men who apparently were so blown away by my touristy green eyed beauty they could just not resist calling to me (or was it my wallet they called?) I didn’t mind being called ‘Elizabeth Taylor’, though.

Rich and I met back up at 3pm, went back to the Beyoglu district and walked all the way up Istiklal Caddesi to Taksim Square. Ate at a brew pub style restaurant, that was nice. Decent beer. Found a Starbucks, a treat as we don’t have them in Norway. Tried to see Galata Tower, closed, so called it a day and trammed back to hotel.

Wednesday April 4 The Bad Day, or You People Suck

Took Tram to Beyazit, negotiated back streets to find Suleymaniye Mosque. I was not allowed inside, even though I wore a scarf over my hair, thick black leggings (pants, really) and a knee length dress. They made me wear an extra skirt. I was pretty annoyed and frankly embarrassed, not helped by fairly severe PMS, and the knowledge that I had made an effort to cover myself when i dressed that morning and indeed only showed skin at ankles and wrists. How come I was not considered decent when bleach blonde Russian girls were going in and out in skin tight jeans and their bellies were showing? Anyhow, I didn’t think that mosque was as nice as the New Mosque. So there.

After that we went and wandered around the back streets behind the Grand Bazaar for a bit where I was continually eyed and stared at by men (WHY WHY WHY????) and Rich studiously ignored my obvious discomfort and pleas for him to please stick close to me. He was too busy being photo auteur. I was very glad to reach the Grand Bazaar where they were more used to red headed green eyed tourists. We ate lunch there, not so great, were overcharged yet again by a baby faced restaurant waiter, and then wandered over to the Mozaic Museum (interesting, hard to find). Shopped a bit in the Cavalry bazaar, then rested at the hotel for a bit before having some beers at a restaurant around the corner. All in all it was not a great day for me, the cultural differences were too harsh and I felt very, very foreign.

Thursday April 5 the Good Day, or You People Rule!

The thing about Istanbul, and, I bet, Turkey, is just when you are ready to tell everyone to go fuck themselves and you didn’t want to visit their stinky old country anymore anyway and you are just going to stay in the hotel and eat worms because nobody likes you, something happens and all the nice people in town come out and make you feel better. After that crappy day before, I met so many nice people everywhere. (Ok so we did have one incident where a cab driver kicked us out of his cab after we questioned whether he was using the meter or not.) (This by the way is always a legitimate question and it was just him being irascible that he was trying to get something by us and we caught him.)

It was a rainy day and we went out to see St Savior Church in Chora, a beautiful jewel like Byzantine church with some of the most remarkable mosaics in the world. It had been converted to a mosque and all the Christian mosaics were whitewashed over , which preserved them for 500+ years until they were rediscovered in the 1860’s.. They glittered and glowed and were stunning. The church\mosque is now a museum. Which was a relief for me as I did not want to have a repeat of the previous day’s experience, so it was nice to just pay and go in and not remove shoes or cover up or worry about cultural differences or anything.

After that I bought a couple of hot rolls from a really nice woman in a wonderfully aromatic bakery, then we bought some things from a guy who sold gorgoues well priced ceramics, then we caught a cab back to Sultanahmet area. (This cab driver did not kick us out.) Near our hotel was a church that was even older than Hagia Sophia, called SS Sergius and Bacchus (now a mosque) or Little Hagia Sophia, and that was such a nice experience. The guy who watched over the mosque was very nice, he put our shoes carefully on shelves inside the mosque, and let me go up the stairs and all over. The place was ancient in the extreme (5th century!) but perfectly maintained and lovely. No mosaics, that I could see, but just clean airy space and thick arched walls. The stone floors were a little worn under the carpets, making for uneven walking upstairs, and the stairs were built for giants, but oh what a place. I took lots of pictures. We had tea in the courtyard (mederse) outside. Many cats.

Rested and had late lunch at a restaurant we had found the night before near our hotel.

I went back to the Calvary Bazaar to consider buying this gorgeous Iznik patterned bowl I saw the other day. Rich went to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic arts, but found it too crowded, so ended up at the bazaar as well. I did end up buying the bowl, after spending a good half hour talking to the shop owner, who was the son of the former Imam of the blue Mosque. We talked about how it was being a ‘preacher’s son’ in the US vs being an Imam’s son, very similar. And we talked about traveling and stuff. Rich was in a shop nearby, negotiating over an oil painting of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn he liked. That day we both sort of shot our wads on things we had seen previously. We went back to the carpet store but could not decide again. Grr.

I went back to the hotel ahead of him, and stopped to talk to one of the guys who worked at our hotel. Told him we saw about a million churches and mosques that day…and he asked did I want to see one more…just under my feet? I said sure, warily, so he took me into a carpet shop, down some stairs into a basement, and there, in situ, were mosaics from an ancient church. Down another floor and there were arches and a bit of painting left and a tiny spring filled with the clearest, stillest water I have ever seen. Down in a basement, under a carpet store, in a nondescript building right next door to our hotel! A 5th century church! Holy crap! I did not have a camera, and Rich was not with me, so I feel like it was my little secret that only I knew about. So cool, as he did not need to take me down there and did it on his own free will. This day totally redeemed my opinion of Istanbul, like somehow Karma knew I had been beaten enough the day before and I needed to see a better side of things.

We finished the evening, Rich and I, with an excellent dinner at the Orient Express restaurant in the old train station and a beer at a ‘British Pub’ that most Istanbullus would never be able to afford.

Flew back to oslo the next morning early early. Slept.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Istanbul Critters

Istanbul is full of every kind of critter. Everywhere you go, there's an animal, whether dead, alive or in a cage.
Leeches for sale by the Egyptian bazaar. I'm not entirely sure why, but I am fairly certain it's got something to do with health. I hear they are good for bruises. But...ick.
Pigeons. Everywhere. These are on the steps of the New Mosque. New, as in 16th century.

Cats are everywhere. Packs of them roam about the city, obviously the people in Istanbul don't fix them or practice kitty birth control. This cat one was seeing opportunity ahead......

Cats at the fish market at Karakoy. They are remarkably well behaved and never go where they should not.

Me and a one week old kitten. It was one of a litter at the hotel. Amazing how fast they grew in the week we were there.

This might be my favorite photo of the whole trip. A cat asleep in the sun, on the roof a shed directly behind Hagia Sophia.

Another view of the sleeping kitty.

Cat under a table, waiting for us to give it a bit of our lunch.

Just. Don't. Feel. Like. It.


Oops, all caps, damn my flighty fingers.

Anyhow, I just have NOT felt like blogging lately. Not sure why. I mean, in Istanbul it was largely because the thought of sitting at a computer in a hotel lobby just did not appeal when all I wanted to do was lie down and rest my aching feet. But now I am back from Turkey and I still just don't feel the mojo. part of it might be that I just have too much to write and so, by default, I go on the fritz and write nothing.

Or maybe i am just a lazy sonufabitch and that's all she wrote.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Wine soaked meme

Lifted from Bookhart, who lifted it from others. It's like the common cold we all get it. (By the way, have I mentioned how much I luuurve Bookhart? 'Cuz I do, schweetie, I LURVE you.) Wine will make my answers more interesting, I am sure.

Favorite Color: For general clothes, black. For today's obsession, turquoise.
Favorite Food: Tortilla soup
Favorite Month: August, though it usually sucks ass.
Favorite Song: Closer to God, NIN
Favorite Movie: Right now, Sense and Sensibility. Tomorrow? Princess Bride.
Favorite Sport: Nordic Walking. Not that I have started it yet, but I feel like it will be a fave.
Favorite Season: Summer (only since moving to Norway) (In Texas? Fall.)
Favorite Day of the week: Friday Night, So full of possibility
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chocolate chip. Freshens breath and gives chocolatey goodness
Favorite Time of Day: 3pm. Dunno why. Just like it.

Current Mood: Two glasses of wine into grinning
Current Taste: In my mouth: garlic, egg, a bit of tannins from wine. In clothes: layers over leggings with wrap dresses over all. In movies? Humor. In men? Tall dark, handsome. Memes need to be more specific at times.
Current Clothes: jeans, t shirt. (For those who want to use imagination: black corset, long leather skirt and thigh high boots.)
Current Desktop: My lap.
Current Toenail Color: Dark goth purple black.
Current Time: 9:16 p.m.
Current Surroundings: living room
Current Thoughts: Wine! More! Bottle empty? Damn.

First Best Friend: Julia K. Known her since kindeygarten. We're meeting in London at the end of the month!
First Kiss: John somebody, 6th grade, I sort of wigged and it didn't happen again until 10th, at which time I caught up fast.
First Screen Name: karla, I'm always me
First Pet: Schlingel, kick ass German Shepherd.
First Piercing: Ears, age 13. ONLY piercing, fyi.
First Crush: Andy, forgot last name, probably in prison by now. I also saw my corollary first crush (hey, I am not monogamous in my crushes) at my 20th year high school reunion and he was not at all how he was in jr high. Not. at. all.
First CD: my first album was Styx, "The Grand Illusion" (Apparently Bookhart and I had exact same album taste in our formative years.)

Last Cigarette: Thursday. (EVERYONE smokes in Turkey, seems rude not to.)
Last Car Ride: Cab to airport in Istanbul, 6 am yesterday morning, think Death Race 2000. Eek!
Last Kiss: Rich. Of course.
Last Movie Seen: They showed "Casino Royale" on the plane. Daniel Craig without a shirt is a sight to behold.
Last Phone Call: Mom, asking about Turkey. Eminounou, mom!
Last CD Played: Um...I don't remember. I am so iPod focussed now.

Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Nope
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yep.
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No, but it was close. The law was lookin' for me for unauthorized camping, once. (I fell asleep in a meadow in Yosemite and a park ranger gave me a ticket.) Was threatened with warrant. Yeah, I am BAD ASS.
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: Yep, numerously.
Have You Ever Been on TV: Yep. A few times. In a few countries!
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn’t Know: More than would like to admit. Who hasn't?

Thing You’re Wearing: my own skin.
Thing You’ve Done Today: booked flight and hotel in London. did laundry. Scrubbed toilet. Ah glamorous life of expat.
Thing You Can Hear Right Now: Something on BBC, not sure what.
Thing You Can’t Live Without: books and my glasses.
Thing You Do When You’re Bored: Read. sleep. take baths.

1. The laundry room
2. The bathroom
3. Grocery store.
4. Outside.

1. Bookhart
2. My Mom
3. Julia

1. Black or White: Black
2. Hot or Cold: Hot

Live in London for a year

back from insanity

We got back from Istanbul yesterday. Sorry I never posted. There was a computer at the hotel but it was in constant use and I never got a chance to get on it. Plus, we were so busy I never really had time to use it, even if I did manage to find it available.

It's Easter week in Norway and the country empties out; everyone travels, whether to the mountains for that last bit of skiing or too somewhere sunny for a holiday. (Ironically, in our case, it was pretty much always warmer here than in Turkey. I froze my ass off for two days when we first got there!) However, I do believe that everyone who did not leave the country was just at the grocery store with me, and I waited in line behind every one of them to get my groceries. Stores were closed yesterday and will be closed tomorrow and Monday as well. This apparently creates panicked runs to the stores to make sure everyone has supplies to last them two whole days. Someone might die of starvation!

I gotta go unpack the groceries and put in some more laundry. More later, but seriously, is anyone even online this weekend anyhow?