Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Norwegian New Year's fireworks show as seen from our window overlooking the fjord.
This was just one part of the skyline, it went on for miles. Pretty damned awesome.
Rich took the pictures.


Now THAT'S more like it

I have always tried to be "man enough" to admit if I am wrong or if I need to rethink something. There's no point in stubbornly sticking to your guns if there is obvious proof that you might want to change your view. Life is too short to be a butthead.

After reading this article, I just want to say that my previous rant needs some amending.

Good for the US for ponying up. Good job indeed. That's more like it....

I may not like George Bush, and never will, but at times like this...well, it's good to know that the US still can do the right thing when it's called for. That is what America used to stand for, and it's nice to see vestiges of that grand tradition remaining.

Friday Q

Since I am a lazy sod, I have decided to steal (well, with permission and full linkage, etc.) an idea from another guy's blog.

It's called Friday Q and it's four questions posted every Friday that I then answer on my blog. Ostensibly it's to help you get over the "what do I write about?" hump. In my case, I tend to have plenty to write about but I just wonder if folks want to hear it. So it's nice to just answer someone else's questions and not worry about if what I write is lame, boring or borish.

Before I start, though, let me just tell you that I am a very slothful person today. It's 2pm on NYE and I am still in my jammies. So is Rich. We will have a quiet evening, watching the fireworks from our windows, looking out over the fjord. Unlike in the US, folks here buy and set off their own fireworks, so the effect is of being in the middle of the fireworks show rather than watching it from afar. You do have to be careful of stray rockets (they have been known to come in open windows). Everyone has tile roofs, no worries about catching fire there, and the snow tends to put out anything that goes astray. You can see the explosions anywhere from 30 feet away to over a mile away, it's pretty spectacular, especially reflected off the snow.

This year it is supposed to be a more subdued celebration, due to the events in the Indian Ocean. Tomorrow is declared a day of mourning nationwide.

OK, now for the Friday Q:


FQ1: What do you hope will be the big technology breakthrough in 2005?

Oh Jeez, I can tell that a guy asks these questions. For me, personally, I would wish for cd or dvd burning to be as easy as making a cassette tape used to be. I am a relative newbie to downloading music and burning cd's, but I have found making cd's to be onerous, persnickety and downright frustrating. I just want to push a button that says "record". Like on the old stereo systems we had in the 80's? Like that.
As for a large scale tech breakthrough, hell, um, better weather and natural warning systems to help prevent the huge losses of the past year to hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding and tornadoes.

FQ2: What do you hope will be the big medical breakthrough in 2005?

Making men be the ones to give birth, haha. Seriously, a cure for cancer. Always.

FQ3: What do you hope will be the big entertainment breakthrough in 2005?

Gwen Stefani and Paris Hilton will fall off the face of the Earth. Please? Also, people will finally recognize the true and complete brilliance of Gary Numan's music of the past few years. But he will still be my secret.....

FQ FUTURE: It's one year from now! What was your greatest accomplishment in 2005?

To have learned html, perfected my German and vastly increased my jewelry making skills. Also, to have become a more patient person. And paid off my debt. Yeah, so that's more than one. I'm a multi-tasker.

Happy New Year! May 2005 be the year when it all comes together, all your problems go away and all your dreams come true.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Our Hearts Go Out to Them All.

I am sure, by now, you have heard of the horrific tragedy in the Indian Ocean. I never really thought of tsunami as a real disaster, to me it was always something that was illustrated in ancient Japanese scrolls, but that was the extent of it. You know, art and nature, ancient style, like Kratatoa or something.

Boy was I wrong.

Of all the European countries, the tragedy has affected Scandinavia the most. Thailand is a very popular winter holiday destination for Norwegians and Swedes. Germans, too. They say that almost every Swede or Norwegian knows someone affected by this disaster.

Here is a link to a photo series of the wave coming in. It's in Norwegian, but you really get a sense of the event and the vulnerability of the people in it. Unbelievable. The people in the photos were Swedish, and I have just found out that everyone survived.

Colleen, my dear step-mother in law and world travelling buddy, was in the region too. Luckily, she was en route to a houseboat trip in the Kerala region of India on Boxing Day and was in the mountains at the time it happened. They had plans and hotel reservations on the beaches at Thailand for after their time in India. Their timing was very lucky. (The hotel has since been destroyed, as have all the others, and they are now casting about for somewhere to stay until they figure out what to do next. She is staying with friends in Bangkok.) She has been in Thailand for most of this month. So we, while in London over Christmas, were rather worried about Colleen and where she was. She managed to get a call to my brother in law and told him she was ok.

Now for the George Bush rant. If you are pro-GW, just stop right here. Go read the Fox news or something.

And then I read this, part of it quoted below, about that fucking useless George Bush and the US "generosity" of 35 million USD towards the victims of the disaster, on the MSNBC website:

"Another way to measure

Another yardstick of U.S. largesse stems from a comparison of how American money is used elsewhere in the world.

In hearings last month, the U.S. military reported to Congress that it is now spending more than $5.8 billion each month — an average of $8,055,555 an hour — in Iraq. So the $35 million in aid destined for the tsunami victims is equal to what the Pentagon spends on the average morning in Iraq — about four hours.

Put another way, the $35 million is less than the amount the U.S. military spent during the six hours it took for the tsunami to cross the Indian Ocean on Sunday.

President Bush mentioned the $2.4 billion that the U.S. provided this year in worldwide aid. That amount pales in comparison with the $13.6 billion that Bush requested and received in supplemental appropriations for the hurricanes that hit the southeastern United States and the Caribbean earlier this year.

Of that amount, $100 million, less than 1 percent, went to other countries for their hurricane relief efforts."


Yeah, because, you know, it's not OUR catastrophe or anything. I mean, really. Let's just keep killing people in Iraq and not worry about a natural disaster of Biblical proportions. Sending aid won't get him re-elected, will it, so why bother? Why bother coming out of your "ranch" in Crawford and saying or doing anything?

We can't afford Social Security, we can't afford better health care for the nation, we can't even afford to help victims of a natural disaster on a scale that is mind boggling, yet we can still spend billions in Iraq on a war no one wants.

Is the US supposed to be a friend to the world or not?

I am embarrassed that this man calls himself a Texan.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

True Glamour. Me in All My Fabulousness.

Happy New Year!

Practice Your Dancing Moves for New Year's Eve

Here's a primer for dancing.

Level one. (My signature move is very similar to the "old school".)

And level two, for advanced dancers only. Warning: you must have passed level one before proceeding to level two. You could hurt yourself otherwise. These moves are not for the faint of heart or the un-flexible.

Actually, go ahead and check out the whole website from whence these lessons come, it's a total hoot. I like the videos best.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

For Your Pop Cultural Edification

When in London, my cousins kept riffing on something called a "chav". I had no freaking clue what it was, so they explained that it was the new pop cultural nickname for yet another British social group. Remember Mods, Teds, Sloane Rangers, etc? In the US the equivalents would be Yuppies, Flappers, Goths or Grunge?

Meet the Chavs.

We saw some real live specimens (once we knew what to look for) and all I can say is that the Mods, Teds and Sloane Rangers were a helluvalot better dressed. These people all wear baggy track pants with large jewelry and plaid Burberry caps. Fake logo wear bought at markets. The girls, instead of wearing sneakers, like to wear dressy, cheapy looking heels with their track bottoms. Why, I dunno. I would think track suits meant athleticsm, so wearing heels with that seems odd. They can be found in East London and at most pubs that show sports.

The chavs are the complete opposite of what I call the New Euro Ho' Goddess, which are these women I see walking around all wearing the same thing (and all very expensive, of course):

Tight narrow jeans tucked into tall boots. (Alternately tiny flirty miniskirt with tall boots.) Furry barbarian style jacket a la Roberto Cavalli. Top that is definitley not warm enough. Stick straight long highlighted blonde hair. Big wide belt, worn low on too-narrow hips. Sunglasses. Gucci or Dior bag, cell phone attached to ear. Links of London or Tiffany silver bracelet.

They can be found roaming King's Road, Walton Street, Bond Street and throughout Chelsea and Kensington. Fear them. They will hurt you if you pick up that cute Mulberry bag they had their eye on.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry and Happy and all that stuff

Please enjoy the holiday of your choice, be it religious, pagan or festivus.

We will be in London with my aunt, uncle and two cousins, whom I call my "young cousins" but are actually quite old now, being mid 20's, and rapidly becoming the British Donald Trumps of their generation. Or was that Richard Bransons?

I just write that so they bring me good presents. Harry Potter Book Five on CD read by Stephen Fry, perhaps?

Merry Holidays and I will post soonish about NYE in Norway and why it is so nutty.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

.......And Elvis begat Britney who begat Engelbert Humperdink

Go forth and religify.....

But first remind yourself of what adverbs and adjectives are, 'cuz it's kinda like MadLibs. I (to my great English major chagrin) have forgotten the parts of the sentence. Adverbs? Huh?

What I did in 2004

As this is ostensibly a travel blog, I thought it might be interesting to take stock of where I have been and what I have done in 2004. So, I made a list. Hell, I've done alot. Even I am a bit surprised.
Here is a bare bones list of where I went and when in 2004. I also linked to any posts I have made about it or complementary images on Rich's picture site.

Christmas 2003 and New Year's Eve 2004, London

Jan 14-Feb 2, Houston, Austin, Tulsa, Missouri

Feb 15-23rd, Morocco…..Marrakech, Essouira. London

March 17-23, New York City, upstate New York

April 8-13, London for Easter

May 17-June 10, Copenhagen, train to Bremerhaven, Northern Germany, ferry to London, flight to Prague, back to London then flight to Frankfurt, train to Amsterdam, train to Copenhagen, train thru Sweden back to Oslo.

July 10-21, London summer escape

July 31-Aug 7, Prague and Cesky Krumlov

Aug 27-Sept 7, Nile Cruise from Luxor to Edfu to Aswan and back, London

Sept 14-Oct 1, Houston, Austin, Missouri

Oct 11-21, Ireland...Dublin, Ring of Kerry, County Wicklow, Hill of Slane, etc.

Nov 5-9, Beautiful, Wonderful, Lively London

upcoming travel:

Dec 23-27th, London and Hornchurch

Jan 7-17th, 2005 Florida via Rekjavik, Iceland

In 2005 I am determined to get to Thailand, Italy, Istanbul, Edinburgh, a tropical island somewhere for a beachy lazy vacation, and to go back to Paris and decide once and for all how I feel about it. I have mixed emotions about that place, due to past scary experiences and the usual "treated like crap" tourist experience. I am older and wiser (?) now, maybe can hold my own a bit better.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


I don't have anything to write about today. Or maybe I have too much to write about and just can't decide. Or maybe I am just bored and can't be buggered to bother either way. Dunno. Who cares. Blah.

Oh, here, I know what.....

Go read someone else's blog for a bit. (It's really good.) Then you can come back here tomorrow and I am sure I will have something more interesting to say.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I Am Not Good at Winter.

This Norwegian commercial, shown frequently on TV and making me laugh every time I see it, pretty much sums up winter for many folks. It's really funny. (The tagline translates to "for a better start to the day" or something of that sort.)

It also reminds me that I am in idiot when it comes to winter myself.

The other day, it snowed really hard. I had to run a couple of errands, and when I came back outside, my car was covered in snow. I brushed off what I could, but there was this butthead waiting, impatiently, in the parking lot for me to back out so he could take my space. I shoulda waved him off, I know, but instead I hurried and got into the car and tried to back out. I realized I could not see out the side windows with all the snow, and so....I rolled them down to get the snow off.
Bad idea. I forgot that a) snow is not water or condensation and b) gravity tends to work. So all the snow fell INTO my car. Dammit.
I got back out of the car, waved off Mr. Butthead, (who made a semi-rude gesture which I am sure meant "Stupid Non-Norwegian Winter Amateur") and then proceeded to clean up the new mess.
Note to self: Snow melts quickly once inside your car. Science calls this new material "water". "Water" does not scoop, it soaks into the seats and the carpet. While trying to clean this, of course, more snow was falling on my back and down my neck. Shit. Cold. Ick. I gave up and just sat my wet ass in my wet car and went home.

It was a comedy of errors, all told. I think I am the Norwegian equivalent of an Aggie, or at least, that's what my friend Lee seemed to think when I told him the above story. I told him that in Norway I think the equivalent of an Aggie is a Swede.

Ways People Find Me

The internet cracks me up.

One of the things my hit counter does is tell me the words people used in the search that lead them to my blog. I can tell you that folks are looking for some goofy stuff. For example, here are some search words/terms, that have lead people directly to my blog (I linked to where they ended up, it's humorous):

Norway Boobs
Boobs (see above)
Giving Head (does this make me the expert?) (haha)
Zit +
H&M Lagerfeld (look at me I am a fashion maven!)
Funny toilet door signage

And, of course, my favorite word, or at least, one that I use alot, Fuck!

I hope they weren't too disappointed when they found my little blog instead of the naughty things they were actually trying to find.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


This photo was taken by a friend of my brother's, her name is Eileen. It's pretty funny, she had no idea how it looked until after she downloaded it onto her computer. I think it speaks for itself.

Posting because.....

...that picture of Gunther is grossing me out and I want to see something other than his icky lips as the first thing when I open my blog. Yeuch. I went to buy a few of the CD singles to send as "gifts" today, but THEY WERE SOLD OUT.

Was it all people like me buying them, as jokes? Gunther is gonna be a rich man.

This post is nothing more than a space filler to move ol' "Sit On My Face" Gunther down a few notches.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Mind Gunther, Pleasureman.

I really don't quite understand Scandinavian/European music sometimes. Is it because I am American and the whole Eurovision thing escapes me? Have I been too well trained by my Rock Gods to Always Take Them Seriously As Artists?

Whatever, I keep seeing ads for an album called "Pleasureman" by Gunther. It's so bad I keep thinking it MUST be a joke. The cheese-ometer is going thru the roof. He looks like a woman in drag as a man, very bad mustache, mullet from hell, horrendous glasses, and these wierd pouty lips that only do the one expression, which I guess I would have to call the "Sit On Me".

He sings something called "The Ding Dong Song". With lyrics like "Oh.... you touch my tra la la, my ding ding dong". Seriously. That's the lyrics. It's like70's Burt Reynolds in an alternate Euro-universe, singing innuendos about chocolatey snack cakes. GAH!

Um, so, ok. It just gets worse. Here is some "press" on Gunther.

"Pleasureman Gunther...

Günther is a 29 years old gentleman style 2000 in his best years. Günther is from Sweden but he feels like a European. Günther has always been in the entertainment industry and now he feels it is time to change the attitude of the world to do something better. Günther wants to change the worlds look at the sexual way of thinking, so he have started a new trend to sexualise it more in the world. "A Günther trend".
He has only started his mission to go out in the world and spread the message of Love.
The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Sex and Respect!"


Don't believe me? Here's the link. Click on the button for the video. Prepare to get chills....the bad kind.


Friday, December 10, 2004

My New Favorite TV Show...MythBusters

I realize I might be behind the times but I have a new favorite TV Show.

It's on Discovery. (Yes we get Discovery here, actually we get about 5 different Discovery channels, it's all about the informative documentary here. Go ahead, ask me about the mating habits of Southern Hemisphere Flightless Water Fowl, or perhaps the Five Most Ingeniously Engineered Superstructures Ever Created By Man. And how to build a chopper in the style of a fire engine. Yup, I know it all.)

It's called MythBusters. Ever seen it? Two guys, oddballs in a fairly obvious left-of-center "yes we are geniuses but we like latex and rubber" kind of way. (I only say that about the latex and rubber because they manage to work in a rubber or latex outfit or experiment into every show. Adam, the guy with the glasses and pierced tongue, is the one who REALLY likes rubber. The other guy, in the hat, Jamie, just kind of laughs amiably and does something scary with ballistics or bombs to explode, stretch or destroy the rubber in some way shape or form.)

I decided that this was my favorite show after watching last night's episode, where they addressed the myth of the fat lady stuck by vaccuum suction onto the airplane toilet seat. First they created a big ol' fake (but texturally accurate due to space age fake fat ass rubber!) hiney and weighted it to approximate a fat lady butt, then stuck it to the toilet seat. It worked, and was scarily authentic as far as fat bums go, with Adam even smacking it a bit for added rubber fetishists pleasure.

The funny part was when Adam decided to ratchet things up a bit and stuck his own bum on the toilet seat. They turned that vaccuum suction up high. Yep,his bum stuck and I think (judging by his almost maniacal and giddy laughter) that he really enjoyed it. He was crying for joy or pain, I am not 100% sure, but I think joy.

And that would be the reason why I really like that show. You can just tell that these guys are some truly oddball creative wierd fuckers, you know? I bet they know where all the really cool bars are in San Francisco. The hat that Jamie wears and those, "I'm cool and trendy yet smart" glasses Adam wears, tells you the whole story. Anyone that is going to sacrifice his own bum to test out a vaccuum toilet seat, wear gold paint a la "Goldfinger" from head to toe to test whether his body temperature will go up too high for safety, and then explode cans of biscuits in his sun-heated car just to see if it's possible, is somebody I need to have a beer with.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jon Stewart , You F*cked Up!

Dear Jon Stewart,

We get your Daily Show here in Norway, one day after you are broadcast in the US. I feel compelled to correct you one on thing from today's (yesterday's) show:

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo Norway, not Stockholm Sweden!!!!!!!! Tell Samantha Bee to get her facts checked!

This is Oslo's major claim to fame, and honestly, it's also my one big exciting event every year in this cold-assed Nordic town, so please don't take it away from me by sending it to Sweden!!!!!

I repeat:

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IS ALWAYS, ONLY AND EVER, AWARDED IN OSLO NORWAY! (Dude, Oprah is even bringing her multi-million dollar-guru ass over here for the big Peace Prize Concert...Ask her if you don't believe me!!!!!!)

Yeah yeah, I know to the rest of the world all Scandinavians look alike, but honestly, the Norwegians are pretty damn proud of the Nobel Peace Prize, so don't go giving that honor to the Swedes. That would be like thinking that OU and UT actually like each other or something. Regionally, that is a MAJOR Faux Pas!

I certainly hope that the Powers That Be at the Daily Show get this. We rely on you, Mr. Stewart, whom my friend Karla May wants to marry, for our Daily News, and would hate to feel that you are geographically, um, deficient. I am available for further, tequila fueled, commentary.

The Texpatriate

I Went Out Last Night

Yeah, I know. I actually left the house at night. In Oslo. Shocking isn't it?

For those of you who don't understand my immense joy at the fact of leaving the house after 6 pm, let me explain. Basically, it just does not happen much anymore. Yeah, I know, in Austin I was ALWAYS out. But here...well it's different. First of all, it's VERY expensive to go out. A dinner out is about $50 a person. Beers (wine or mixed drinks are more) cost average of $9 to $10 each. Add to that the hassle of do we drive (which means I can't drink ANYTHING because of the ludicrously strict drink/drive laws here), or take the train or a cab? (We live on a hill in the suburbs.) A cab ride home from my friend Jennifer's the night of the Thanksgiving dinner cost $60, one way. Taking the train is the cheaper route, but then you have to bring the snow boots for walking to the train and the cute shoes for when you get where you are going, then trundle up and down the hill in the snow or, quite possibly, ice. Also, make sure you don't miss the last train back, or you are in for yet another very expensive cab ride. Making sure you make the last train back usually means missing the end of whatever show you might want to see, as it leaves before 1am. Blah de blah de blah. So, we just don't go out much.

But I braved all that and actually went out last night. I went into Oslo to my friend Julia's club, called Garage Oslo. Well, it's not HER club, but she is the "booking chief", or the one who does all the stuff pertaining to getting the bands that play there. So she invited me to come see this band last night, called The Hidden Cameras. She, as the one in charge, got me in for free and I also found that the beer there was cheaper, about $4-$5 a pint, so that was nice. They had Kilkenny and Guinness, which made my little recently-in-Ireland-heart very happy. Julia bought me a couple of pints, and so I say THANKS here, out on the world wide web, for all to see! I also met her boyfriend, Harald, who is a member of a very popular jazz band here called Jaga Jazzist.

The Hidden Cameras are one hell of a fun band. They are based in Toronto. Sort of pop-meets-REM-meets-a drunk orchestra- meets a big old mob of happy dancy people. They are a large band, about 9 people, and they had violins and stand up bass and guitar and keyboards and xylophones and drums and lots of stuff going on. It was fun watching the violin players somehow manage to dance and hop around yet still play their instruments. Ditto the retro mod xylophone did she manage to pogo while hitting just the right key with the stick? That's talent! At one point in the evening the band all put on blindfolds, and proceeded to play AND dance AND sing with red scarves tied over their faces. That was impressive as hell. I had a really great time, and the show ended at 12:15, having started bang on time as well, so I made it to my train with penty of time to spare. I do like the promptness of the Scandinavians. When they say something will start at a certain time, damn if it does not start RIGHT ON TIME. As a gal who has a thing about promptness, I do find that very satisfying.

One thing I have noticed about Norwegian (or just Oslo-ian?) audiences is: They don't dance. When I saw Moby here, having also seen him in Austin, nobody danced. I was almost literally the only one. In Austin, at the SAME SHOW, there was not a person in the audience standing still. It was practically a rave. How could anybody NOT dance when the music is blasting you so hard? Yet they did not dance at the Moby show in Oslo.
So last night, at the Hidden Cameras, Julia and I were in the back of the room, gently hopping and bopping about. We are from Texas, we are allowed. Looking over the audience there were about 5 folks flailing about directly in front of the stage, but everyone else just stood there, arms crossed, like they were too cool to move. Why? What is this stoicism in the face of fun? I don't get it. Harald told me that he thinks it is only the Oslo-ites who don't dance. When his band plays in the west of Norway, those folks dance. Are Oslo-wegians just the jaded urbanites of Norway? The been-there, done-that scenesters?

DANCE , PEOPLE!!!! Move your bums! Life is too short to not dance when you feel like it!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Window. Snow. Fog. Tree. Roof. Norway.

A view of the, I mean, a view of the view out the window with the, er, there is the snow and the view and the window and stuff. Right, I apparently have lost all cognizant modes of communication and so will just stop now. Geh. Buh.

Blue Light and Fog

This is what a typical Norwegian winter day looks like. It's a view from our window, looking towards the fjord. (It's much prettier when the snow sticks to the tree branches, which is not the case here.) This was taken at about three in the afternoon. By 4:30 it's dark.

Today, though, we had some sun. Yes, we do get sunshine in winter.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

An Ode To The Zit On My Chin

I wrote this ode to my zit a while ago...but it seems appropriate now. Yes, I have a wierd gift I call the "Insta-Poem" whereby I can write a fully functional poem in minutes flat. Now, whether it is a good poem or not is a whole 'nuther question, but they usually rhyme and are semi-humorous. Or so I like to flatter myself. (If anyone from Hallmark or American Greetings is readng this, I am willing to be tested on my Insta-Poem (tm) abilities on a moment's notice. Just give me a topic......Really.)


The zit on my chin
Is impairing my grin.
It's causing me pain......
It's the size of Spain!

The zit on my face
Seems to ignore time and place.
I'm 36 years old
Haven't my sebaceous glands been told?

The crater on my mug
Has a crusty white plug
And a red sort of...hue.
Am I making you spew?

Yes the hobby for today
Is to endlessly play
With the hard painful lump
That when pressed makes me jump.

I thought at my age
I was done with this plague
But I guess that's not true
Hey...quit staring, enjoy the view????????

Friday, December 03, 2004

It Ain't All Happy and Bright

The Norwegian Press is always really big on advertising how great it is in Norway, how the country always wins "Best Quality of Life" awards and such.

Here is another side of that. I've seen it, walked thru it numerous times. It's right there in the middle of town.

No place is perfect, no matter how much they try and make you believe it is.

Yeah, I am kinda cranky today.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I'm Cold


Winter has arrived. Last week we got LOTS of snow, and by lots I mean so much that the busses could not run, there was chaos in the streets and everyone was taken by surprise. Then they all went skiing. It's play time for Norwegians when the first snow comes and boy do they love to ski.

Me, well, I'm a hot weather kinda gal, and I really don't see the point in going out when it's cold. Why? It's just gonna be me outside in the cold instead of inside and warm. And snow? I don't do snow. It's wet and cold and it clings to you and it's damned hard to walk in (and drive in). I LIKE to walk. It's one of my favorite pasttimes. Not to mention my preferred form of transportation. Walking in the snow is well nigh impossible. Hence, the Norwegians invented skiing. I don't ski. I prefer my legs in working order and not broken, thanks. I am klutzy enough to recognize that skiing is "ouch" in my personal dictionary.

Don't get me wrong. Snow is lovely. It's beautiful the way it blankets the trees and turns everything sparkling white and clean. Everything has a blue hue to it, from the reflected light, and there is a wonderful silence. Cars and trains and noisy things are muffled by the insulating snow. It gives everything a peaceful aspect, like a living Ansel Adams photo.

But I don't want to go out in it. I prefer to watch it from the windows. Which makes for a REALLY long boring winter. 6 months of it. rrgg.

Did I mention I am a hot weather kinda gal? In Texas we have two seasons: Hot. And Not So Hot. I know how to do hot. I am happiest in 100 degrees wearing a tank top, a skirt and some sandals. As little clothes as possible. But winter? This winter thing has me all flummoxed. I just don't know how to do it.

Look for me in a warm place near you sometime soon!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Me and Liz......

It's about time for a picture, isn't it?

I've always been a big fan of Tudor history so imagine my glee when I was able to pose for the ultimate "big head" picture.

I have always been very enamoured of the jewelry in portraits like this, and I think it has heavily influenced me in my own jewelry making style. Dontcha love her necklace? Wow.

This was taken in July, 2003 in London. Thanks Jennifer Cook for indulging me on this one and taking the picture!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Expat Thanksgivings

I was just thinking about my Thanksgivings since I left the US. I always get kind of homesick around now. (Or shall I say, I get more homesick than usual?)

The first one, in 2002, we went to London the weekend before Turkey Day to celebrate with Colleen. We got back to Norway the day before Thanksgiving. Thursday morning I got up and decided to go grocery shopping for a small turkey type item and fixings to approximate a dinner here. I got to my car to find it completely fucked up, someone having tried to steal it while I was gone in London. THAT was a bad day. We had no insurance on the car yet, it was still caught up in the customs red tape. It was very expensive to fix and took two months. So we'll consider Thanksgiving 2002 to be a complete wash, shall we?

Thanksgiving 2003 was also in London, we stayed once again at Colleen's and went to see a play, ate at Quaglino's, saw "Love Actually" the day it opened, and I hit the markets at Covent Garden, Spitalfields and Camden. We saw some excellent exhibits at the British Museum and I saw the V&A Gothic exhibit. Colleen took us on some wanderings in her car outside London and we had lunch in this exquisite town called Shere, where they filmed some of the new Bridget Jones movie that is out now. That was a very nice visit, and when we got back to Norway my car was intact. That was a bonus.

Still, that makes two turkey-free Thanksgivings in a row. Did I mention that besides Halloween, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? I like it because it is only and ever about being with your family and friends, celebrating togetherness, and there is none of the pressure of Christmas presents or New Year's Eve (must have fabulous time! must party like it's 1999!!). Just food and hanging out and chatting. I like that.

This year, well, today, ain't nothing happening. I am making jewelry for a show this weekend. Doing laundry. That's about it. Rich and I will have leftover white bean chicken chili. There's a big pot of it in the fridge.

This weekend, though, my friend Jennifer (Norway Jennifer) is having a bunch of us over for dinner. Poor thing is so stressed about this damn dinner, I almost want to just bring her some pizzas and take the stress off of her. But then she explained the problem: She is Chinese, and in her family they never did turkey, they did chinese food and would get a ham for any westerners that might be afoot. So turkey is pretty mysterious to her, and here she is, for her second big dinner party EVER, making a thanksgiving dinner. That takes some kind of balls, don't it? Even seasoned veterans get nervous about Thanksgiving dinners, so she is definitely taking up a large challenge. I know it will be great, though. She is the sort of person that always makes things work out. I do wish she would calm down a bit. We'll probably all get drunk fairly early on and won't notice much, anyhow!

So, to family and friends in Missouri and Houston and Austin and Orlando and Pennsylvania and Midland and Santa Fe and Europe....Happy Thanksgiving and I totally miss you! Eat some turkey for me (those of you having fried turkey, eat alot for me please) and multiple huggies all around! I send you all the best and wish I was there with you.


PS Julia, stay away from the tequila and the bushes at your parent's house, please.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Update on Cheesy Mary


I got a nice roast chicken with mayo on rye around here somewhere. If you look closely you can see, um, the face of Ron Jeremy. Or maybe that's not his face. Ew. Anyhow, do I hear $4.95?

People will buy anything, won't they?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Let's talk about fashion

For those of us who are interested in fashion, this has been a fairly intriguing week. I am talking, of course, about the debut of Karl Lagerfeld's line for H&M.

I know H&M is not in Austin, or even anywhere past the Northeast in the US, so you may not be in on the KL for H&M hubbub. I discovered H&M many years ago when I was in Germany travelling. I thought I would lose my mind, so much cool stuff at such great prices...and in good fabrics too! Imagine cheap, chic, fashionable clothes, scads of them, with a turnover so fast that if you don't buy it when you see it, well, you are SOL but good. Last week I bought a fabulous red velvet suit, the jacket fits like a dream, the pants are long and leggy, and it was less than $100 for the two pieces with a skirt. And believe me when I say that you would not be able to tell the price of it when you see it. It's positively posh. H&M RULES!

Anyhow, Karl Lagerfeld (designer for Chanel) has created an abbreviated line for H&M. The prices for these simple yet well made pieces run from $20 to $150. The fashion press has gone wild. Fashionistas are in a frenzy. The collection is a smash hit. I went and saw it and here's the scoop.

It's, um, ok.

I was in downtown Oslo yesterday and had a chance to try on the majority of it. And there did seem to be plenty of it,though some pieces had sold out. No lines out the door or fist fights, as some of the fashion press has reported. In fact, it was kind of....quiet.

Lagerfeld has definitely designed everything to fit his vision of the long skinny legged urban creature, but did it generously so that it fits real folks. (To whit: I got an ass like J Lo and I fit into his very narrow pegged jeans quite well. Snug but not too big in the waist or anything like that. Great for tucking into boots and looking 8 feet tall.) However, if you don't look good in long skinny jeans (as I don't) or in long narrow sweaters or long narrow jackets, well this is not the collection for you. Mr. Lagerfeld made this collection to fit...himself. His new improved, scrawnier than one of the Olsen sisters, self.

There were a few good things. There was a fairly kick-ass sequinned jacket, like a tuxedo jacket but shiny and very rock and roll. THAT is worth thinking about getting.

There was an "SJP" dress, a black chiffon and silk peau de soir number, very cute with a pleated skirt and just enough poof to make it fun, but it made me and my friend look a bit thick in the waist. (The belt was not adjustable and I have a freakishly small waist for my size, so it is a common problem for me.) With a better belt it might be really nice. Unfortunately, very delicate fabrics tend not to survive too well in the crush of a populist store like H&M, so many of those dresses were missing the top neck button that sort of held the whole thing up. Still, it is a cute dress.

Basically everything was very sharply tailored, minimal and a little, well, boring and cold. I thought the jackets and the sweaters were a little too long. They felt very 80's. (Iknow 80's retro is cool. *shiver*) I didn't like the idea of dressing up to look like Karl Lagerfeld, which is what this collection basically was (except the dresses). It felt like one big designer ego boost "let's dress up like Karl" homage. I don't wear uniforms, and I especially don't wear OTHER people's uniforms, and it felt very costumey to me.

I wanted to go crazy over the stuff and buy tons of it, and ended up buying nothing. I might go back for the skinny jeans (I have so many boot cuts already, and even though these were not perfect for my body type, they would suit for boot-tucking-in and heavy sweater wearing in the long cold Norwegian winter that just appeared this weekend) and that sequinned jacket. The rest, well, if it goes on sale, we'll see!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Gee, ya think?

This pisses me off.

I mean, they have known about the ludicrous prices of food here for YEARS, and now they think there might be a problem?
They think maybe there's not enough competition? DUH!
That maybe the grocery stores charge too much? DUH!
The fact is that there are only really about three companies that own all the "different" grocery stores, and they can charge whatever they want.
They don't have any competition because no other companies WANT to come sell groceries in Norway. The duties are too damn high and there is no choice here! There is a dairy monopoly, a poultry monopoly, a wine monopoly.....who CAN compete? (The government owns the dairy and the wine monopolies, I am not sure about the poultry one.)

Jesus, how thick headed do you have to be?????

"Duh. Mr. Government Minister, prices on food seem high and there is no choice in the grocery stores. Maybe we should investigate?" GAH!!!!! Prices are high because all these poor Norwegians have been gouged for years and are just used to it. That's all there is to it. Why make prices lower when you know you can get folks to pay, just by coordinating with your "competition" to make sure they stay high? The richest people in Norway are, you guessed it, the grocery store owners.

I can't WAIT until Norway joins the EU (though I won't be here) so I can watch this absurd economy face the real world fair market competition it has managed to avoid up until now. Boy that will be fun.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Cheesy Mary on Ebay

I found this article this morning, about a woman who made herself a cheese sandwich 10 years ago and saw the face of the Virgin Mary in it. So instead of eating it, she put in cotton balls (do they have preservative qualities I didn't know about?) in a clear plastic container and put it on her nightstand by her bed to watch over her.

Apparently, now, she has decided to "share" her miracle with the world, and has put it up for auction on Ebay. A bidding war has started, along with not a little international publicity.

Here is where it gets entertaining for me. Go to Ebay. Do a search for "Virgin Mary Cheese" and see what you come up with. Ah, yes, capitalism is alive and well all over the world. Some very funny (and opportunistic) folks have posted some very entertaining Cheesy Mary items.

I like the one sale that is titled "an empty envelope.....not a virgin mary grilled cheese". At least they are honest. I wonder if I can sell my jewelry that way? "Pearl necklace, not a virgin mary grilled cheese" And why not extrapolate from there? "A pearl necklace...NOT a Tyrannosourus rex". "A pearl necklace....not a bunny rabbit with big pointy teeth".

Or is that pushing it?

Pearl Necklace...*not* a Virgin Mary Cheese

I call this the "Romanesque Pearl Lariat". Just random pearls in warm tones, finished off with a tassel of crystal, a Thai Hill Tribe silver fish, a keshi pearl and some other goodies.
Yes, it is not a Virgin Mary Cheese Sandwich. I sold it yesterday, sweetened the deal with an Elvis Cheese Sandwich. The Elvis comes with your choice of upper or downer and a side of valium. On toasted white bread.
(For those who are not sure what a lariat is (this means you guys) it's basically like a jewelled scarf. One wears it as one would a scarf. Though, if one is from Texas, one may not wear a scarf very often. Thusly, one would wrap said lariat around one's neck as one sees fit. See also "noose", "cravat" and "string wrapped around the neck". Thus endeth this lesson.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

This could get boring

I am pretty much done with travelling for this year. At least, I think I am. I mean, I have nothing planned, except London for Christmas, but you never know, maybe something will come up. (she writes, hopefully)

But it kinda means that I won't have any neato current travel stories to regale you with. Instead, it might just be boring old day to day stuff. Like the other day....

Rich and I went for a walk the other day, just in the neighborhood. While we were walking I kicked something hard and it rolled away from me. I chased it down and it was...a coconut. A coconut, a whole coconut, with the husk and all, lying on the street in Norway. Hmm. Interesting. Being me (ie a dork) of course I looked up, wondering if it fell? Rich snorted and rolled his eyes, then asked if I was looking for the coconut palm? In Norway? Oh, right. Probably not, huh.

But how did that coconut get there? There was not a trash can nearby, and it was not like anyone threw it away, that I could see. Why would someone buy a whole, husk-on coconut? Why would they then throw it in the street? Did the African Swallow from Monty Python's The Holy Grail drop it en route to bringing it to Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, King of the Britons?

It's wierd, what you find lying (laying?) around in the street. A coconut in Norway. Wonder what its story is.......maybe it was a magic coconut and I totally missed out on my three wishes. I was supposed to kiss it or run in three circles around it or something. What would I wish for if I had three Magic Coconut Wishes?

See, I told you it could get boring. I really need to get a life if THIS is what I will be writing about. Sheesh.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Margaret B., You Are My Pop Culture Hero

Ok, so imagine if your friend hands you a DVD set of a cancelled TV series you have never heard of and says, "Here is your birthday present. Watch it. Trust me. You'll love it".
Of course, you would be like, "Well, what's it about?"
She says, "Well, it's kind of a space-sci-fi set-in the-future-thing, except it's like an old style Western, and they also speak Chinese and they just float thru space from planet to planet stealing stuff and getting into trouble. There's a crazy chick, and a travelling courtesan and a gonzo pilot and a genius girl mechanic and a really hot captain with a soul of gold who wears tight pants and tall boots, and his sidekick is a really powerful black woman who's married to the pilot and who also wears tight pants and tall boots. Oh and there's torture and stuff too."

You say, "Oh, ok. Right. I'll get right to it". Huh?

So, on a rainy, shitty, cold dark Oslo day, you pop it into the DVD and you discover....Joss Whedon's Firefly. And you are hooked. And there are only fourteen episodes. EVER. And you feel bereft that there are no more. So really, thanks Margaret, for introducing me to the best show ever, and then yanking it out from under me. She's like a drug dealer, ain't she? (Though I do hear they are making a Firefly movie. More crack for this ho?)

(In a long side note, Margaret also introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series. I had seen the movie a long time ago, thought it was a funny premise. She told me that the series was way better.
I'm like, "Yeah right, and how many times has a series based on a movie EVER been even decent? And that movie wasn't all that great. Even if Paul Reubens did have the greatest dying scene I have ever seen. But still, a series based on that? On Fox? Come ON!"
She was right, it was great, I got hooked. Once I moved to Oslo I started buying the Angel DVD's and got hooked on them, too, though not as much as I was on Buffy. And of course, both Buffy and Angel are now ended. As is Sex and the City. DAMMIT! End Sidenote.)

(Another Sidenote: But then, the shows I have always been fondest of do seem to get cancelled with great, and apallingly impatient, regularity. Remember Freaks and Geeks?
My So Called Life? I think that I might be TV series death. If I like it, it gets cancelled. I like Six Feet Under,**** is it still on? Shit, now that I have written that, it will be cancelled. End of Additional Sidenote.)

The point of all of this is that, if Margaret B. ever hands you a DVD and says "Watch it", just watch it. She knows of what she speaks. I have learned from the master. The greatest lesson here is, of course, if Joss Whedon writes it, just watch the damn show, you will like it.

****10 hours later: Rich told me tonight that Six Feet Under is gonna be cancelled. He just read it. Is that true? Have I jinxed it? I am SO sorry, I should not have written anything about it.......Shit.

....On the other hand, if I am so powerful, maybe if I watch Fox news or something I can get that cancelled? What shows do you hate? Survivor? That Donald Trump show? American Idol? Maybe I can use my power for good?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Beer Series

Beer. Beer beer beer. We like beer.
Here are some pictures during-, pre- or post-beer drinking, at various times and places over the past few years.
You are not allowed to sue me if you don't like the pictures.
So there.

Big beer in Prague. Note the bleary smile and not-quite-open eyes. I had had alot of beer by then.

Rich with beer, Prague

Rich after beer in London

Beer in London on the South Bank...wheee!

Beer and the German flag on the Mosel

Brother drinking. Wine and beer. At same time. (He couldn't decide which he wanted first.) It was a wierd night. Orleans, France, 2002.

Two weenies (one named Julia) and a beer in Germany
Photo by Me

This is what beer does to you.
Me and Marla...she's the glamorous "blonde". I'm the one with my bra showing, looking confused, er, um, inquisitive. I think Marla should be famous.
Austin, SXSW, 2003

Beer (pinky up!) in Germany

Why beer is bad.....
Sean feels up a suspiciously large Girl Guide.....
Halloween, 2001.

Jesus and Madonna drink beer too. Halloween 2001.

Monday, November 08, 2004

In London, Again

'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.'
Samuel Johnson

Hi. I'm in London at present, posting from an Easy Internet Cafe. The keyboard I am writing in is FILTHY. THe letters stick and the shift key does not work so well, so excuse the typos, I will fix them when I get home.

Just wanted to say how much I LOVE London. Just walking around here makes me happy. It's so vibrant, there is so much to look at and do, so many faces and places to see.

Today I have just been wandering, took the Tube to Covent Garden, where I went to Kirk Originals and bought some really cool new glasses. (They look very Fashion Director, Nerdy Sexy Geek, kinda. Hey if you are as blind as me, why even pretend to get glasses that 'show your eyes'. I am in the Coke Bottle league, y'know? So now I have given up and I just get really nerdy glasses, why hide it anymore.) Some friends of mine here in Norway know the folks who own the company. They say they are the best glasses ever. Who knew? I just liked them. They have aluminum sides and a black front and look really hip. And they are handmade, so as a jewelry designer and craftsperson myself I can appreciate interesting handmade things. But these will be the most expensive glasses I have ever owned. EVER.

Then I went over to the jewelry district in Hatton Gardens and bought a few jewelry making supplies from a 6 foot 7 inch tattooed man who was kind of like the Alterna-Rich. He looked just like Rich, but with long hair and tats and piercings and stuff. I thought he was hot, but then I always did like them tall.
I then decided to have a little pub crawl. So I got out my trusty map and found only the old pubs that are pre-1800, of which there are a few in central London, down back alleys and such. Went to Ye Old Mitre and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and a couple other Ye Olde's. Now I am Ye Olde Drunk.

It's been a good visit with Colleen and Karen. (Colleen is about to embark on a round-the-world trip, damn her, and is leaving London.) We have been hitting the posh places but hard. I even got to dress up in "the sparkle skirt" and a few other fab things I own but hardly ever get to wear. (What's a glam gal supposed to do with a huge wardrobe of fun stuff and no where to wear it? Go to London!)
Ate at San Lorenzo (Di's old hangout) and then had a martini at Duke's Hotel, legendary for their martinis that they make at your table. Drink one, and you are UNDER the table. I did, and I was. Karen made me drink it!) Colleen's friend Karen is a hoot, and I consider her my friend now too. She knows the good places to go. We had tea at Duke's yesterday, but were underwhelmed when we asked for more little tea sandwiches and they charged us 8 pounds for four quarters of a was ridiculous, like $3 a bite! We let them know we were not amused. So, lesson learned: Go to Duke's for the maritnis, but skip the tea.

Alrighty, well, my hands are tired from using this sucky keyboard. Must motor on. I have time for one more pub before tonight's festivities.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I Hate To Say "I Told You So"....

It's already starting.
Here is the cover of The Daily Mirror, from the UK. This really is the cover, it's not a fake, here is the link to their website.....granted, it's not exactly the "classiest" paper they got in the UK, but it certainly gives you the viewpoint of the man on the street.

I know all this political crap is tiring, so I won't say any more after this post (and for those of you who are Republicans, well, your guy won, so let me bitch, ok?). I just want you to know that I already had a bunch of people here in Norway (two Frenchman, a couple of Norwegians and a Brit) (sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it?) ask me what the hell happened and what I thought. I just sighed, rolled my eyes and said that I was in the other HALF of Americans who did NOT vote for Bush....they got the message.

I'm back to the humorous posts after this. Thanks for letting me rant. Off to London tomorrow, am practicing my Norwegian accent. "Jeg heter Karla. Jeg liker ikke George W. Bush".

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Day After Election Day

I hate to say this, but I am almost too depressed to write. I really did think Kerry would win. I always try to prepare myself for the worst, but I guess I did not gird myself this time and I am just stunned.

When I went to bed last night (that was at about 6pm Austin time, 1am mine) Kerry was leading in exit polls. Everything looked good.

I got up at 7:30 our time (um, about 12:30 am Texas) and Bush basically has it in the bag. It's 254 to 252 electoral votes, with Ohio being disputed over provisional votes, but that's a long shot. Bush is going to take it.

What the FUCK happened?

How did this happen? What went wrong?

Tom "Crook" DeLay got reelected in Texas. All his redistricting worked and most of the incumbent Democrats got voted out. (Lloyd Doggett survived, or I would not even be writing this, I would be crying in bed.) Bush is gonna take this election. The House has a big Republican majority now. 11 states voted against allowing gay marriage. WHY?????

America is fucked and fucked hard. I can't believe US residents are this STUPID. I am disgusted beyond belief.

Before this election, at least we had the excuse of "Well, we had no idea Bush would be this awful, he snuck it in on us". Now? NOW? What the hell is our excuse NOW?

Wake the FUCK up you have ANY idea what you have done?

Excuse me, I have to cuss:

Goddamnmotherfuckershithelldamnationbuttscocksuckerassfartbitchshithelltits. Buggery balls and bloody hell!! Schiesse and merde!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Today is election day

This is it. The Big Day. Today will decide the fate of the US for the next four years, and, I am firmly convinced, will determine how exactly Americans are viewed by the rest of the world forever.
If Bush is voted in, the world will turn its back on the US.
If Kerry is voted in, people will know that Americans are smarter than their President has led the world to believe, and we might have a chance.
It's fairly simple, isn't it?

So go vote for Kerry, willya? It's time to put up or shut up.

Here is another incentive:
If you want to see me, your beloved friend Karla, move back home anytime before 2009, PLEASE vote for Kerry as I doubt I could face living in the States if Bush got re-elected. It would just be too painful to see his smirking face on TV every day. And if I have to hear him say that damn phrase "the 'murican peeple" in his damn mumbly faux-Texas accent one more bloody time.........AACK!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

More photos of Ireland

Irish happy cows. I like cows.
Photo by Me

In the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney, County Kerry... this was one of those cases where wearing layers paid off. Within 10 minutes there were so many changes of the weather that I ranged from wearing my t-shirt plus two sweaters and my leather jacket, to just a t-shirt, then back to all the layers again. I also switched from sunglasses to umbrella and back again. The weather is VERY changeable in Ireland!
Photo by Me

Another of the Hill of Slane. Notice how the huge monkey puzzle tree is growing out of one grave.
Photo by Me

Glendalough, in the Wicklow Mountains, where St. Kevin set up house in the 6th century. Beautiful valley with ancient religious sites. I guess I like taking pictures of graveyards. My Goth side is showing.....

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A sunset over Ballinskelligs Monastery ruins.

One of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. Grey rock, green earth, pink sky, blue water. It was exquisite.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Queen of the Castle

OK, so it's a fixer-upper. Some nice curtains, and um, a roof, good as new in no time.

This is Ballycarberry Castle ruins, in County Kerry. It's on private property and obviously being used as a sheep or cattle shed, but there was enough of it left for climbing around on. Great views over a small bay and beach, with ring forts and mountains in the distance. It was destroyed by Cromwell. He pretty much destroyed everything in Ireland, it seems.

Russell was worried that the old ruins we were seeing everywhere would fall down upon his head. I teased him that he was not special enough for that to happen...why would the castle choose him to fall upon, right now, after hundreds, some cases thousands, of years of existence? (Why not fall on the sheep that keep crapping on it instead?) I figure, if you are special enough to win the lottery, or get hit by lightning, then maybe the universe revolves around you in such a way that you will be killed in freak castle-collapsing-on-tourist accidents. Otherwise, I would think that God had other, less "news of the wierd" ways for you to die.

Or is that just me thinking that?

Monday, October 25, 2004

This is a dolmen (ancient burial site) in the Burren, an odd and wild place in the west of Ireland. It's called Poulnabrone Dolmen, and is very well known and very old. We went there on a very cold and wet day, so did not stay long, but it is a fascinating site.

The thing that interested me most, actually, was the ground. To quote from the Burren website I linked to above: It is composed of limestone pavements, which are eroded in a distinctive pattern known as karren. This pavement is crisscrossed by cracks known as grykes and underneath the pavement there are huge caves and rivers that suddenly flood when it rains. What it looked like to me was as if giant blobs of heated rock had been thrown upon the ground by some sky god and left to cool where they splatted, which made this really wierd landscape of shapes broken up by bits of earth and sod. We had to pick our way carefully across it, as it was a bit slippery and treacherous and you could easily fall into the cracks. The rocks were rounded and melty looking, though. It was nifty.

The Burren had been heavily populated thousands of years ago, but too many years of over-planting and grazing eroded the thin topsoil and left the rocks exposed. Interesting, isn't it, that damage to the landscape done thousands of years ago still remains and is revered as a heritage site? I wonder what they will think of us in 5000 years......

The ubiquitous Irish rainbow, this time over mid town Cahirciveen, Ireland. I did not find the pot of gold, but I sort of think the rainbow itself is reward enough. This one was particularly bright and glowing.

I will be posting random photos from the trip over the next few keep you interested and coming back!

In other news, I am going to London for a few days on November 5th. Colleen is moving from there November 10, embarking on a round the world trip starting in China. This will be my last chance to hang out with her before she goes. I'm bummed she's going, it has been fun having her so near! I'll be back the 9th.

The next week I will be doing a small jewelry sale, so I guess I better get into my "studio" (ok, so it's the sofa in front of the TV) and make some stuff so I have something to show!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Hill of Slane, Mystical Place

The Hill of Slane. Ireland.
The sun was shining through the rain when I took this photo. The Hill of Tara is in the distance. The tree is a monkey puzzle tree. To my back were the ruins of an old church/monastery. This is the legendary place where St. Patrick lit the fire of Christianity that supplanted the pagan religions of old.
Photo by Me

Friday, October 22, 2004

Travel Advice for Ireland

Here are a few words of advice for you, if ever you get to Ireland in October.

Never eat eggs before your boat trip to Skellig Michael. It's a rough trip and you will revisit them. (More about that in a later posting. No pictures, I am afraid, I was too sick to move. Ever seen "The Perfect Storm"? Uh huh, yeah. )

The coldest interior space on Earth is an Irish bathroom. You will see your breathe when you come out of the shower. Irish people are very hardy.

The coldest single documented surface on record is an Irish toilet seat. Girls, one word of advice: hover.

Always stay at a B&B above a bar, and do your damndest to stay at one that is family owned and has a nun in the family.

Hike the Gap of Dunloe. Do it twice if you have the energy. Prepare for every kind of weather...rain, sun, heat, wind, cold and sheep.

Whenever you see a sign to a place that's called "The Hill of...", just go there. Climb that hill and make the most of it. The Hill of Slane and the Hill of Tara will always be in my head as two of the most magical places that exist.

We saw the Hill of Tara just before my flight back to Oslo, it was less than an hour away from the airport. It was incredibly windy, winds were about 40mph or so. It was so windy that you could lean into it and it would hold you up. Backwards or forwards! I hollered and screamed and "woohoo'ed" and played bird because it was so wild and exhilarating. 360 degree views, feels like you are on top of the world, you climb up and over and down the remnants of the hill fort and BAM there is the view. There is a small church on the hill, just down beneath the top, with trees and a small graveyard, and the wind just roared thru the trees, blowing the leaves perpendicular. Such a sound, such power and uplift and song. That, coupled with the history of the place and the views, well, you can see why it is a holy place, why thousands of years of ceremony and myth are attached to the place.


To have that perfect Irish experience, wild, pagan, windswept and awe inspiring, and then be at the airport in less than an hour, well, that's sort of the crux of Ireland. Wilder than any place you've ever been, but civilization (if that's a good thing or not, you decide) is always a step away.

So, my last bit of advice when traveling in Ireland:

Put your schedule aside, let the travel take you where it may, don't be in a hurry, and let serendipity be your guide.

Go ahead, climb that hill!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

short post

Ireland Rocks.

That is all for now.....but daaaamn I love this place.

Between Neolithic ruins, pre-Christian burial sites, 6th century monastic ruins, fens, bracken, Macgillicuddy's Reeks and happy yummy beer, I think I have landed in (a slightly cold but manageably so) heaven.

Guinnessly yours,

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


A pilgrimage to the Guinness factory will happen today. I am in the midst of preparations as I write this, practicing pint hoisting, the raising of the glass to the lips and the slurping of the foam. It's all about precision, training and having the proper mix of awe and respect to the brew.

Yes, I am about to check off Number 45 on Karla's List of LifeLong Goals*. Let no one say I do not succeed at what I want to achieve!

Oh, in case you did not know, I am in Ireland. This place RULES! The people are so friendly and they will literally break into song at the drop of a hat (or in my case, the shift of a gear, as it was the bus driver who did the singing!).

I will hoist a pint to the four winds at c@ 5pm Ireland time, which is about what, 11 am Texas time? Sniff and ye shall smell the brew!!!! My benediction upon thee, brethren!

Ex-Officio, on Sabbatical,
Brother Galore of the Monks of Ann Arbor

*List to be posted on a future blog.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Of course I would not....

....tell you to type naughty phrases into this "text to speech conversion demo".

That would not be at all polite.


Though I do like the fact that the male voice is called "Charles". That's my brother's name. Teehee!

Thursday, October 07, 2004


I just paid $32.00 for five gallons of gas.

Yes, I got less than half a tank for $32.00.

Those of you complaining about gas being at almost $2.00 a gallon, excuse me if I do not weep for you...


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

It's Official.

I am not a hipster.

You are not a hipster, either.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Ultimate Big Head Picture.

What don't I love about this picture? The camel herder took it, he has a future as a photographer. (Of course he demanded baksheesh after snapping some shots, pretty much saying we would not go any further until I did, but hell, if I'd known he was this good I woulda given him more!) I love the way the camel and I kind of share a similar smile, kind of bemused and tolerant.....her name, by the way, is Lulu. Posted by Hello

London, July '04.

Welcome to my humble abode.....dinner's at 7. Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Back in Norway

So here I am, back in Norway. Can't say I am totally thrilled to be here, but it was nice to get back and see Rich and sleep in my own bed again. Rich was happy with the goodies I brought back after having pounced on my luggage pretty much the second I brought it in the house. I was so tired when I got into Oslo that if I stopped moving I fell asleep, so I crashed around 7pm last night and was up this morning at 9.

The flights both to the US and back were bang on time, and Continental has plenty of legroom, so that was all fine. Anyone coming to Oslo, do yourself a favor and do the flight that goes from Houston thru Amsterdam to 46 and 47 I think. It's a good flight schedule, not too early in the morning, which I freaking hate, new planes, and no hassles with customs when you get into the US.

And I am very happy to report that we surprised the ever-loving SHIT out of my mom when Kit and I showed up on her birthday. (I can write about it now, but the reason I went to the US was a surprise for my Mom's "hmm-hmm" birthday (a lady never tells her age, and a daughter who values her life never tells her mom's age)). Dad, Kit and I planned it, and I flew into Houston on the 14th, then Kit and I drove 12 hours to Missouri on the 15th, where we walked in and just watched Mom's jaw drop to the floor. It was classic, and so worth all the travelling we did. She was completely clueless, and so thrilled. Kit's best friend Duy was there as well, with his girlfriend Vicki.

The next day Duy made his famous fajitas for the birthday celebration, and we had to force Mom not to cook or clean or fuss in any way. I gave her a little gift almost every hour, and she just beamed. Surprising how nice it was to spoil Mom for a change, and to actually have her allow us to do it! Dad did good keeping quiet on this surprise, though he said it was the hardest thing he ever did not to blab. Dad is not much of a secret-keeping kinda guy, whatever he thinks is right there on his face or getting told to everyone around, so he had a really hard time shuttin' up.


I have LOTS more Egypt and other pictures to post. I will tackle that maybe tomorrow, including some classic big head shots, and other goodies. Today, however, I am vegging.

I miss y'all!!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Been wondering why.... have all seen me stuffing myself with Mexican food and good ol' Austin food?

Read this article. This is Norwegian food. Arg.

I go back on Thursday. Two more days to gorge......


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Reason # 2567 why I love Austin...

....conversation participated in at Silly's Bar, the new neighborhood bar at the corner of Mancock and Durnet streets. (Note, names have been changed to protect the innocent. Or whatever.)

At the table sat Late, Meff, Darla and Farla.

Late: So what are you guys doing Sunday?

Farla: Me and a friend are going to visit some taxidermy shops. She doesn't know where any are. Do you know any good ones?

Meff: Cool! What did she kill?

Darla: (spits beer out her nose while laughing) Gug!!

Late, Meff, and Farla stare at Darla, like, "What's so funny?"

Only in Austin do you have conversations like this. I love it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Home Sweet Home

I am in Austin right now, and can I tell you how FREAKING GREAT it is to be back home?

In case you are taking it for granted, living here, let me remind you:

Austin is the Best Damn Town in the World.

A few reasons why:
I got up this morning and and went and got my coffee, which there are three different coffeehouses within walking distance of the house. ( God I love our house. I just think it is perfect. And Marla has kept it up so well, it just looks phenomenal.)

Then I went to the gas station, once again near the house, where the nicest guy checked the oil on the funky old VW I have borrowed from my brother. I scheduled a massage for tomorrow morning for me and Jennifer. (I haven't seen her in 7 months, I am actually a bit nervous about seeing her, why is that? It's not like she's not one of my dearest soulmate friends, or that we will even come close to having a lack of things to talk about. I think I am just nervous that I have lost my conversational and "relating" skills. So much has happened since we last saw each other!) After that I did some shopping, went to Central Market, noodled around a bookstore, and bought the perfect pair of jeans at the Gap. (When did their stuff start fitting so well?) Shopping nirvana, people! Shopping nirvana. The Gap has finally made room for asses in their pants. Glory hallelujah!

Then I had my slacker time at the Flight Path coffee house, where I just sat grinning maniacally as I was so DAMN happy to be there. Just sitting there, reading the paper, Austin people surrounding me, as I munched on my bagel and looked at the art and the folks in the place. God it was heavenly.

Now I am at the library where I finally managed to get onto a computer after a 45 minute wait, though the time was well spent reading trashy magazines and listening to the old guy sitting next to me who kept farting and trying to pretend like it was his seat squeaking. (Yeah, right, buddy, that shifting to the left you kept doing totally gave you away.) I knew what he was up to....

All this travel I have been doing has definitely made some changes in me. I have to admit, I no longer give a flying fuck what people think of me. I used to worry about looking right, or fitting in, or belonging to the right crowd. None of that matters anymore. Now I am just happy to be, and to see, and to enjoy the small things and spend time with the folks I enjoy spending time with. Life is too short to waste it worrying about anything other than getting the most out of your time on this earth.

But I am glad my butt looks good in the jeans I just bought!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Some photos from our trip to Egypt.

Following are some selected and representative images from our trip (was it just last week?) to Egypt. All these were taken by Rich, on his digital camera. I will get mine developed when I get time and money, and will then post some more. In the meantime, enjoy prease!

Me in a ray of desert sunlight at the Temple of Horus in Edfu.

I quickly learned that wearing a hat is a necessity not only to keep you cool but also to ward off the relentless sun (I managed to avoid burning my nose by using spf 40 sunscreen religiously and using the hat, hat hair be damned), and wearing anything other than sand or dirt colors is an exercise in excessive laundry, as everything gets dusty in minutes. Also, long sleeves are somehow cooler than none, and long baggy clothes are WAY more comfortable than anything in the least bit confining.
Hence, you will mostly see me wearing the same outfit (and not, GASP, my usual black) of flax colored CP Shades linen. I knew buying all that CP Shades stuff was a good investment!

The Temple of Horus at Edfu ended up being my favorite site visited on the trip. It had been buried in sand for aeons, and only rediscovered around the Napolenic era, and so it is beautifully preserved. It is huge, but not as huge and overwhelming as Karnak. There is a lot of color left on the walls and there are lots of dark, secret passages to explore. I could really envisage it as it was built. It is tremendous.

Me looking dubiously and slightly fearfully at the camel. "You want I should get on THAT?"

Camels are all legs, by the way. They look small on the ground, but when you get on them, your ass is above the heads of the folks walking next to you. It's a very wierd perspective, being so tall and riding on what basically amounts to a thin padding of blanket placed over the BONIEST damn creature in the UNIVERSE.

Which leads me to my next comment:

Riding camels is SO NOT comfortable. No only are they bony, but there is nothing holding you on it, no stirrups or anything, just the muscles of your inner thighs. You know that song "Walk Like an Egyptian"? Yeah, I walked like an Egyptian for about two days after this one hour camel ride. We all compared notes on our cases of camel's ass on the boat afterwards. Lots of people walking funny after that trip! Mine was made exponentially more uncomfortable by the fact that I had a fairly lobster-like case of sunburn on, yep, my ass.
Small bikini + Egyptian sun = Lobster Butt. Lobster Butt + Camel Ride = OUCH.

Me on the camel.

That's not a smile on my face, that's a grimace. Note the same level of my ass and the "driver's" head.

Camels might look kind of cute, but trust me, they ain't. They smell, they fart, they spit and they make noises that are very reminiscent of an angry Chewbacca with a smoker's cough. Even with all that, I totally enjoyed the experience and would do it again. However, I would wear padded shorts. And close toed shoes...camel shit is not a good paving material.

The temple at Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.

The scale of the temples in Egypt is unbelievable. See how tiny the people are? It is IMMENSE. This picture was taken in the hypostyle hall....over 130 of these columns held up the massive roof. The striped bit, center middle, was a window built to let in some light. That window is about 20 feet tall!

Me in the hypostyle hall at Karnak. Are we getting a sense of the scale here?

Me in front of one of the smaller statues at Abu Simbel. We were within 25 miles of the Sudanese border.