Monday, June 29, 2009

Rafting the Sjoa River, Norway

Here's some pictures from our rafting trip. They had a guy in a kayak racing up ahead of us and taking facst action shots as we came down various parts of the river. He was a really good kayaker and his pictures don't suck either. You can find me in the pictures below by looking for the blue vest and red helmet.

It's all fun and games right now, isn't it?

Aw shit, Karla overboard! The water, by the way, is glacier water and is about 7 degrees centigrade. Look that up in fahrenheit and then shiver. However, we are having a heat wave and it was close to 90F (30C) so it actually felt kind of good to get doused in ice cold water. For about 45 seconds, then I wanted OUT!

Back in the boat....we made it under the bridge. Whew!

The river wild. The Sjoa has rapids up to level 4, 5 being the highest. Eek! It's also extraordinairily gorgeous around it, with very old farms and houses all around. A kilometer from the drop off point for the rafting is the Heidal Stave church, some parts of it date back 1000 years. It's all wooden. The farm it's on has been owned by the same family since the 13th century.


And now for the 'disaster' sequence... here we go into a really big wave.


I think you know where this is headed.

There goes my little red helmet into the drink.

Uh oh.

The feet waving in the air are not my own. I was long gone and down the river by now. It's amazing how fast it all happens. You're in the boat and then....you're out.

We went rafting twice....the first time I was really REALLY scared, the second time it was spur of the moment, on Sunday, and I was all "WOOHOO! Bring it on bitches!" I have to thank our guide for my new found rafting confidence. His name was Tozi, he's from Zimbabwe and he is one freaking awesome rafting guide. Here's the link to the place we stayed and that ran the trips. It's all på Norsk. (Note: The accommodations are decidedly minimal, so if you go, think like you are camping and go from there. I wasn't entirely prepared for that, by the way, but I muddled through.)

What a great time!!!!!! I tested myself on every level....with the camping, the bathroom way far away from the giant tent (called a lavvo, basically a Norwegian Sami version of a teepee) and facing the cold wet wild rapids of the Sjoa river. Go me! (I am so sore today I could hardly move, by the way....)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

View from the bus


View from the bus, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Norway is so beautiful, even from a bus. We were in Heidal along the Sjoa river.

Aftermath


Aftermath, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Zzzz. Bus ride home after 2 fun filled days of rafting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Argh!


Argh!, originally uploaded by karlakp.

This tent sleeps 15! On a wood floor! Argh!

The rafting trip begins


The rafting trip begins, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Has it been a week already?

Howdy.

Sorry for not posting this week, it's been just kind of crazy.
Gatherings, parties, mayhem & madness. A very dear friend who I have
known since moving to Norway is moving to Singapore this week (Bye
Mary!) and though I don't think she reads my blog I just want her to
know how much I will miss her, and her wonderful, extraordinairy family.
One thing for sure about expat life: you gotta accept change as a given
and that you or your friends will move at some point. Hard lesson I
learned very early in my time in Norway! But still heartbreaking every
time it happens.

Woke up this morning to learn about the deaths of Farrah and Michael
Jackson. Wow, hard day for those of us who grew up in the 70's/early
80's. Everyone is twittering and Facebooking about it...interesting to
see the reactions. I think I feel more for Farrah than Jacko. She really
had a rough time of it at the end. (Um...pun not intended there.)

I'm going white water rafting this weekend with a bunch of work people.
Not so much a team building as just a loose gathering of folks from
different departments getting out into the Norwegian countryside. I'm
excited about the countryside part of it, as have never really gotten
out into nature in the middle of the country like this, but a bit
nervous about the actual rafting. I am NOT a sporty girl, my last foray
into canoeing was DISASTROUS. Luckily I am a strong swimmer and have no
fears of water or anything. More worried about showing my ass in a
swimsuit/wetsuit to people I work with, worried about looking like a
dumbass when the extent of my non-sportiness becomes apparent, and
worried about SHOWING MY ASS IN A SWIMSUIT TO WORK BUDDIES! I don't have
the body I had even 5 years ago.

Which brings me to, I really hate being 40. I thought I would handle it
with equanimity, but I have to admit, I fucking hate it. The minute I
turned 40, I started seeing real, terrifying and not-reversible signs of
aging and I do not like it one bit. Eyesight changing, my body changing
(where did this little BELLY come from?), my energy levels changing, my
knees hurting...it all fucking sucks. The worst part of it is, even if
you are looking totally hot (harder and harder to achieve lately), as a
40+ woman, you are no longer just plain hot, you are henceforward 'hot
for 40'. Or 'hot for your age'. You can never again just be a hot chick.
I am having a REALLY hard time dealing with that.

Still awaiting word from landlord. Don't know yet if we have to move or
not.

Don't be offended if you post a comment and it doesn't show up for a few
days. Not sure I will have access to internet to approve them. But thank
you to all who have made such nice comments...it really does a lot to
make me feel better about things that have happened of late. I know
things will get better, I'm just trying to get everything in line so
they can. Opening doors and windows to let the new opportunities flow
in.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Dad!

(Mom and Dad circa 1966, when they met.)


You're the best Dad ever. (Mom's ok, too.)

Karla

Keeping chin up even if it means using a crane to do so

Argh. What a crap couple of days. What a crap few MONTHS.

What is really, seriously, getting me down the most is that lately I am entirely at the mercy of OTHER PEOPLE. I have NO SAY in some major facets of my life, mostly having to do with where we live and what the immediate future will be. I'm a pretty take charge kinda gal, so having to wait for OTHER PEOPLE to decide things about MY life really pisses me off in a big way. And then, if we are in a position to actually make a decision, the choices are so crappy, it's like, "Ok, so you wanna get kicked in the teeth or in the balls?". (I pick balls, because I don't have any, but Rich vociferously disagrees........)

I do think we have decided to stay in Norway another year or so. Mainly because it's good for my career to do so. It's gonna be a bit of a squeeze, but I think we can manage. So that's one decision made. We hope.

Then.....our landlord tells us, he thinks he wants his apartment back. He's not SURE, he'll let us know in a week or so, but I'm like, WTF? You wanna kick us out? NOW? After all the shit we've been through? Not only with this apartment, but also just in general? And you want to make us wait while you decide?

So that's the other thing that's been getting to me..... it's all these authoritarian entities giving us "notice" of an impending "decision" or "change of contract" that hasn't happened yet but will (maybe) and in the meantime why don't you just stew in fear, frustration and stress while "we" put our heads up our asses and decide just how much we want want to fuck you over? Rich and I are left not being able to make any actual plans because the impending doom has or has not yet occurred and so we just sit and wait. Because officially it hasn't happened yet, there is no signed anything saying anything has happened and so officially nobody will help you enact Plan B and you can't do shit. Contractually. Officially. Fuck.

But wait. And look at housing on Finn.no and think about whether we will have to move or not and how much can we afford now, in our new straitened circumstances.

Well, at least I feel like I am getting some fight back. I'm dropping the 'f' bomb right and left, which is a sure sign I've got some gumption back in the ol',... er.....whatever that thing is that gumption is kept in. For those who know me, the me who curses alot is way WAY better than the me staring at things numbly and crying at the drop of a hat. I don't like that me at all. I don't think anyone does. Luckily she doesn't show up that often.

Friday, June 19, 2009

smackdown

I have few unassailable beliefs.

I believe in the good of people.
I believe that life is what you make of it.
I believe you get out of life what you put into it.
I believe anything is negotiable among people.
I believe that if you are a good person, it comes back to you.
I believe in my family and friends.
I believe in me.

Yesterday was a hard day, a hard, scary and devastating day, as some of my beliefs were pretty severely tested. I learned that sometimes, even with your firm beliefs and your best intentions, there are situations where negotiation is not possible, that inflexibility and coldness cannot be overcome even in the face of reason and humanity. That what is reasonable is not necessarily what corporations and institutions understand. That people working at these places are trained to deny even their own humanity in the service of the company. That trying to deal with corporations and institutions is like banging your head against a wall and at some point, you have to stop the banging and realize that it just won't have an effect.

I feel broken on the Catherine wheel of the corporate machine.

Then I got notice from our landlord that he wants us to move out.

Soon.

I think Norway wants me to leave, I really do.

However, after all the shit of a really, terribly, terrifyingly, earth shakingly shitty day, I was gathered into the arms of many of my friends in big, wonderful, comforting hugs as I cried and cried on their shoulders. I didn't mean to cry, I didn't mean to lose it, but I felt that somehow I had failed the world in some way and I just lost all my fight and faith. Just for that moment, I felt hopeless.

But they were there, they picked me up and let me weep and they have gone a long way in helping me build back up my ultimate and never ending faith in the power of love and friendship. And so now I cry because I am so grateful for the good and wonderful people in my life.

You know who you are and I love you. Thank you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Art I bought in Amsterdam


Art I bought in Amsterdam, originally uploaded by karlakp.

He likes it!

Ha Ha Ha!!!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I can see again! And Happy Birthday Honey!

(But first...I just heard an gorgeous rendition of "Amazing Grace" on a tuba. There's a fair going on in the plaza downstairs and there's a brass band playing. I didn't know a tuba could be so soulful.)

Ok, so this morning, on the day of Rich's birth (happy birthday honey) I went to get my eyes checked. I might have mentioned in a past post, how my eyes have suddenly turned 40 (right before my eyes, haha) and it's seriously screwing with me.

I kind of hate that, really, like, you turn 40 and it all goes to shit? Anyhow....

So I went to a place across the road and the eye guy spent an hour and a half with me. He was like the Mad Scientist of Eyes and he explained all this wierd stuff about eyesight and how it changes and what happens and dominant vs non-dominant eyes and physics and all sorts of shit. It was really cool, I totally got carried up by his enthusiasm for the topic and I learned an awful lot, actually.

My fear was that I would have to start wearing bifocals, something I REALLY don't want to do. Instead, he said that basically all we need to do is lower my prescription a bit (my glasses were feeling too strong lately and I was getting headaches and a bit of dizziness) and that will help me focus better on close up things. AND he put me back into some contacts that I think are actually going to work. Comfortable? Oh my God you have no idea. Revelation! News flash! I can wear contacts again!

He gave me two different prescriptions for my eyes, one for a higher power (-5.5) in my right eye and a lower power (-4.75) for left. The idea being, the left one will focus on reading and the right on distance and voila! I can see AND read. He also said that my glasses had been over-perfecting my sight so I was actually seeing better than 20/20, so by losing a bit of distance I'd gain focus and readability again. Which is totally sweet, as I was starting to feel cross eyed lately.

I'm rather psyched. Think of all the fun sunglasses I can wear again!

So, Happy Birthday Rich, I give you the gift of seeing my eyes again! (He always preferred me without glasses.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

what I made for dinner

Have I ever mentioned I really like to cook?

Sometimes I get a wild hair and see a recipe that I like...but not enough to do it the way the recipe is written. I need to change it. Or do my own version. I can never make a recipe as written, I always change something. This is either a character flaw on my part or just sheer orneriness. (It also makes me a terrible baker, as baking is all about following the recipe and changing it up is not a good thing.)

So tonight I saw this cooking show and they were doing Vietnamese prawn cakes on sugar cane. As I don't have any sugar cane and about half the things they were cooking with as they were in Vietnam, I had to extrapolate. My recipe ended up nothing like theirs, except that there is shrimp in it and it was fried.

Karla's Prawn Cakes (Vietnamese style)
(all measurements approximate, I don't measure)

1 pound shrimp, chopped and pounded to a slight mush (with some shrimpy bits still recognizable)
1 egg
2 tblsp fish sauce (or less)
2 tblsp lime juice (or less)
a bit of sugar
some pepper
some garlic
handful fresh chopped cilantro (coriander to you Euros)
enough corn starch to make it all stick together enough to ball it into cake form

Mix all that together, flour your hands, and make a ball of the mix. Dredge each cake in corn starch. Mine were about palm sized (if you have big hands!). Fry in a hot cast iron skillet (I prefer peanut oil for frying) until golden. Serve with Nam Pla sauce, over jasmine rice and (because I like them) black beans.

(Nam Pla sauce is fish sauce, sugar, lime, garlic, chili and hot water. You're online...look it up!)

My favorite kind of cooking is the kind where I just make something up from what I have. 8 times out of 10 I turn out with something pretty damned good. We won't mention the other 2.

Rich is at the pub and he's freaking missing OUT on what might be the best shrimp thing I have ever made.

(Shit, I meant to start eating light the next two weeks as I am going white water rafting with a work crowd and am rather nervous about appearing in my swimsuit in front of boys that I work with. Oh well, fuck 'em.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Friggin' flowers


Friggin' flowers, originally uploaded by karlakp.

I also oiled the banisters.

Rebooting

*This is a little kick in the ass I am giving myself today*

Ok, Karla. Time for a little mental re-arranging.

You have GOT to think of the good things in life right now, you are FAR too occupied with the bad. Yeah, some things are really shit right now, but who hasn't got problems? Gimme 10 things that are good in your life, right now.

  1. I've got my boundless health. For this I am completely grateful.
  2. I've got the love of a good man.
  3. I've got the love of my family (this does include in-laws). They are ALWAYS there for me.
  4. I've got incredible friends who I can count on in more than two countries.
  5. I've got a great job, boss, co-workers and a bit of money in the bank.
  6. I've got an endless and quick sense of humor that really does keep me sane, even if I seem crazy to others. I can laugh at myself.
  7. I've got summer ahead.
  8. I've just bought some flower boxes and some flowers for a little deck top garden.
  9. I've got my smarts (or what's left of them).
  10. Shoes. Oh I have such pretty shoes. And dresses.
I have to remind me that whenever I start what my Dad calls "stinkin' thinkin' " that I am still luckier than 95% of the population on this earth. There will always be other jobs, other houses; hell, even other COUNTRIES to live in, but I have only this one life! I have to remind myself what is important. And what is important sure as shit AIN'T corporate bullshit and domestic inconveniences, it's the people I love and the good I can do for them.

Now Karla, get off your fat ass and go for a walk and plant those friggin' flowers. Jesus, you are such a whiner.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Seriously? You're kidding...right?

I got a call today from the company that did all the work on our building earlier in the year, when we had to move out?

THEY NEED TO COME BACK IN TO OUR APARTMENT.

For two months.

To rip out the ceilings. Fix stuff. And then rebuild.

Etc.

To say I am unhappy about this is a massive understatement. I am trying to avoid using the word "fuck" but it seems I have failed.

FUCK.

Stress relief


Stress relief, originally uploaded by karlakp.

In Norway, whenever you are sad or stressed or pissed off someone will invariably tell you to go for a walk in the woods. "You'll feel better", they say. They might have a point. I happened upon this waterfall just now. In someone's veritable backyard. Norway can be a total pain in the ass but it comes up trumps in the breathtaking beauty department.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Lazy weekend actually.

After a busy few weeks, it's been nice to have a quiet weekend. And one which I have patently told myself I will not get stressed out by the worries we are facing of late. I am just...not worrying. I am stress teflon, watch it roll off me.

Friday night Rich went out to the pub for the usual Friday night activities. I stayed home and took a three hour nap.

Last night Rich went and saw the new Terminator, which I was patently uninterested in seeing. I'm not a big fan of sci fi movies in general (excepting the most recent Star Trek and things with a humorous bent) so it was a no-brainer to stay home and have a nice quiet evening. Before Rich went off to the movie, however, we had a very nice grilled loin of filet mignon with a fresh mushroom risotto drizzled with a lovely cherry balsamic vinegar glaze Grant gave me a few weeks ago. That cut of meat was divine and the risotto turned out very nicely, the balsamic vinegar giving it an interesting edge. We drank a rosé with it, because a) that's all we had and b) I like rosé and am very interested in the great improvements made in that varietal over the past few years.

After Rich went to his movie, I watched a dvd of "I Could Never Be Your Woman", a really funny and heartwarming movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd. Do yourself a favor, rent it buy it download it, whatever you have to do. Michelle Pfeiffer was absolutely luminous and the chemistry between the two main actors was potent. I loved the perspective of a 40 something woman that she so eloquently demonstrated (though isn't she closer to 50?). I was disappointed in the DVD extras, however, as I was hoping for bloopers or something, but there was just a director's commentary and some deleted scenes. Amy Heckerling, who has made many movies that I absolutely adore, has the most morose Jersey/Brooklyn voice I have ever heard, and she made what could have been a great commentary sound like a funeral. Perhaps the actors should have done the commentary.....oy vey.

I got up at noon today. Had a wierd dream about a spaceship landing in Sweden, with me running down the street chasing it. I was a really good runner, in the dream I remember how good it felt, like I was flying. Oh and I was carrying a pillow. WTF?

This afternoon I made my own vanilla syrup for my coffees. (Yes, I am addicted to vanilla coffee. That, with my rosé addiction, means that coffee and wine snobs can both bite me on the ass. I like what I like and I won't apologize.)

I've been spending about 80 nok a week on two small bottles of vanilla syrup, one for the office, one for home, and decided that it was getting out of hand, this being austerity month and all. So I bought a vanilla bean and sliced it in half and simmered it with equal parts sugar and water and voila! vanilla syrup! But oh so much better than what I have been buying and at 1/4 of the price. And I have the other half of the vanilla bean for the next batch, plus the bean I used today I found out I can dry and pop into a jar with sugar and have...vanilla sugar! I am rather amazed at the miraculous vanilla bean. If I ever wandered into a forest of vanilla trees (bushes?) I think I might die from the smell of it. How can one small stringy brown bean smell so heavenly? (Hmm...can I bathe with it?)

Tonight I think I will make chicken tacos. I was going to go for a walk but it keeps raining on and off and it's chilly outside, so....fuck it. Lazy weekend. (Jaye, I am in solidarity with you.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why I want to be Dutch

 

I heart the Dutch. From the first time I went to Amsterdam, when I was adopted by a whole bar full of older gay boys and their fabulous cross dressing leader, I was hooked. Strange things happen in Amsterdam, strange things that are good natured and so full of joie de vivre it just reaffirms my faith in humanity.

 

It’s not like bad things don’t happen there, of course. I see some really fucked up people, and you occasionally are accosted by some out- of- his- head druggy who mistakes you for his long lost 3rd grade teacher that he hated. But it is so far outweighed by the good and the goofy and the odd that  I tend to forgive trespasses against my person much more in Amsterdam than anywhere else.

 

Like, our first day in Amsterdam. There was this VERY drunk (so I thought?) guy laying by the side of the canal, wearing only pink women’s panties and a pink feather boa. Some friends of his were holding his arms and legs and were preparing to fling him into the canal.  Some cops came over and told them that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to do this. They checked out the guy in the pink, who genially waved them off and let them know that he wasn’t THAT drunk, really.  The cops weren’t pushy or aggressive or authoritarian, they were rather more concerned and advisory than anything. The cops backed off, but stayed nearby, watching, just in case. They didn’t interfere anymore.

 

After much hollering by the gathering crowd, some hooting and hollering from the boys doing the throwing, and a countdown, the guy in pink was summarily tossed into the brown murky canal water. (It can’t have been warm.)  He was a good swimmer, I was happy to see. Near where the guy was thrown in, some people were passing by in a boat. Just a nice family, having wine and cheese, on a little family canal cruise. They stopped and let the guy climb into their boat. So here they are, a nice normal family, having a day out, when suddenly they now have a new passenger, a wet bedraggled dude in pink feathers and pink panties.  What do they do? The lady of the house, with great aplomb (Dutch people are full of plomb) hands the guy a glass of wine and passes over the cheese plate as if she has known him her whole life. He ate some cheese and the crowd cheered.

 

I fucking LOVE that. LOVE that.

 

So very Dutch. You just wouldn’t see that in the States. I love the way the lady on the boat just coolly handed him some cheese, like, “Hey thanks for dropping in. Cheese?” I love the way the cops were concerned and not stern. I love the way the guy’s buddies first checked that it was safe to throw him in. And I love the way they guy just laid there, calmly, waiting to be thrown in, and reassured everyone that he was fine with it.

 

So polite, so strange. Right in the middle of the Red Light District.

 

Shit like that happens all the time in Amsterdam.

 

 A guy walks by in the Red Light District with a feather up his ass. Why? Why not!

 

A boat goes by on a canal and everyone is naked. Why? Why not!

 

A transvestite in 18th century dress prances about, oh so very Marie Antoinette, full white wig with feathers and lace and brocade, then lifts up his skirt to show you his long boxer briefs. And frilly garter.  And converse all stars. Why? Why not!

 

A Brazilian bongo wedding parade marches by, the bride in white surrounded by topless dancers in feathered  headdresses and sequins, marching up and down the Prinsengracht to celebrate the new couple’s marriage. Why a Brazilian wedding? Why not!

 

(Also, lots of feathers in Amsterdam, why is that?)

 

I love Amsterdam.

 

 

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

an incredibly important article from the NYT

If I could just get everyone in the world to read and understand this article, I would feel I had accomplished something in life.

Please read this.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Wanderings in my last few hours


Wanderings in my last few hours, originally uploaded by karlakp.

In Amsterdam Jordaan area

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cheers


Cheers, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Beers.

Brown cafe


Brown cafe, originally uploaded by karlakp.