Monday, June 28, 2004

That's taking the idea of "organic" a bit far.

Today I did some grocery shopping. I have to do it alot. Bread has to be bought daily, it's not like in the US where it comes in pre-cut "stay fresh" loaves. Bread here frequently comes hot and fresh and it's really good. Milk comes in small liter containers. Meat comes in small containers. Ditto salads and yogurt and there are precious few TV Dinners to be had (that are edible). Everything is small and (usually) fresh, and grocery shopping is a daily habit. As is cooking. It's too expensive to go out and there are no drive thrus, so I have become, by necessity, a whiz of a cook.

Chicken is a new thing to Norwegians. Historically, they never really ate chickens, they just used their eggs. The marketing of the chicken in Norway is a bit strange to those of us from the US. They sell the breasts and the wings. That's pretty much it. Wings are very popular here, they like to douse them in this orange flavoring and call them "buffalo wings". You can't get cut up fryers, and a whole chicken is always a disappointment, being small and scrawny. Since it is still a delicacy, it's QUITE expensive, a kilo of chicken breasts being $20. A whole chicken is about $15, and it won't be more than 2 or possibly 3 pounds, if you are lucky. It's taken a bit of getting used to for them, the idea of chicken being a mainstay in the diet. (They still eat whale meat as a favorite protein.) It's been hard for me, this paucity of chicken, as 85% of my recipes begin with "Take 4 chicken breasts..."

Today I saw something that I have never seen before in a grocery store. I saw an organic chicken. But I think they missed something in the translation of how an organic chicken is supposed to be presented. It was a WHOLE CHICKEN. I mean, head, feet, wings, that wiggly thing on it's head, butt, the WHOLE THING. Tightly vaccuum packed in clear plastic.

For a know at the end of the second (real) Star Wars where Han Solo gets frozen into the metallic brick thing? And his face and hands stick out and he is kind of making a face? Like "OUCH! I"M FROZEN IN A BRICK AND I DON'T LIKE IT!" THat's how the chicken looked. Its feet and head were all cramped and pained looking and it was wrapped in a clear plastic brick and STARING AT ME. It was the most un-appetizing piece of grocery product I have ever seen. Am I supposed to get it home and cut off its little organic clawed feet and its little organic feathered head and remove its little organic innards and feel that I am doing my family a favor by feeding them a hacked-up range-fed pissed-off plastic-wrapped organic chicken?

I bought frozen pizzas and Heinz baked beans instead. The Brits eat beans on toast. I will learn how to do that. The idea of chicken claws and heads and butts being in my garbage gives me the willies. Yeuch.....

Friday, June 25, 2004

I been sayin' this all along!

Yahoo! News - Majority of Americans Now Call Iraq War a Mistake

It's so nice to know others are now saying it too! Let's hope it's another nail in GWB's coffin.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

First a kiss......

Amsterdam June 2004.
They struck a pose just for me.

....and then they show you what they got!

Amsterdam June 2004.
A very dark and blurry picture of the Dutch drag queen in his natural habitat. The subject in question is performing a mating ritual known as "the flashing of the Calvins". The woman with the fan is assisting him as the "nut wrangler".
This is the first time this elusive ceremony has been caught on film.
Directly after this photo was taken, the photographer was captured by the natives and force fed beer and mayonnaise french fries until she cried "Uncle!". She then, under severe duress, was made to sing "It's Raining Men" at a karaoke bar. She was let go rather immediately after her performance as her singing skills were found to be lacking, or, as was stated in slang Dutch parlance "Man, that bitch can't sing worth a shit!

Reading in the toilet

Amsterdam June 2004.
Sign on the inside of the toilet cubicle door in a bar. Should be mandatory signage in every bar in the world, as far as I am concerned.

Get your ass in the air, wave it like you just don't care!

Where else but Amsterdam? Upside down aerial trapeze artist in a thong.
(Scary thing is, this picture file is titled "bunghole2" on my computer. I had no idea I already had a file called bunghole!)
Actually this guy was pretty amazing. He has been doing this for about 12 years, he is in his mid to late 50's and he's in great shape. I just wonder about his choice of clothing. Would it kill him to wear briefs?
Posted by Hello

Giving head.....

Amsterdam, 2004.

Ok, mine is the black one in the middle......

Amsterdam, June 2004.
Bike parking lot. Note the girl looking perplexedly for her bike.
Also in the background, that large building? It's a three story bike parking garage and it was FULL of bikes.

Brides, Boobs and Bongos.

Amsterdam, June 2004.
A Brazilian wedding procession on the Herrengracht. I could hear the drums coming for blocks, and there were about 150 people following behind the dancers, drummers and happy couple.

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Strange things happen in Norway

David Bowie got impaled in the eye by a flying lollipop at the Norwegian Wood show here in Oslo this weekend. The Norwegian version of the story has much better details (in Norwegian) and much better pictures

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

No kittens were harmed in the making of this joke.

I just think this is really funny. No other comment.

Monday, June 21, 2004

J'ma El Fnaa Square, Marrakech, 2004. Is that a snake around my neck or was that guy just really happy to meet me?

Essouira, Morocco. February 2004. A traditional Moroccan water seller, or perhaps David Bowie's doppelganger?

Every damn day I learn something new.....

Two changes to El Bloggo...

1) Anyone can now post a comment. I thought it was a "registered member only" thing, but guess not. Who knew I had options? So make nice and comment any old time you want.

2) This html thing is cool...check out the Random Surrealism Generator link (on the left). It's like poetry for the A.D.D. generation! They let me copy their html and paste it into my blog. Aren't they nice people? They give directions on how to customize the formatting to fit, too. Wow.....look at me taking my first web-page building baby steps!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Austin, Tx, Jan 2004. Alan, Me, Clark, Toya, Craig and Sean. Friends are a good thing.

Beer on the Sognefjord. Skol!

Me Likey Amsterdam

I had a great time in Amsterdam. I did an experimental "solo travel" for that leg of my journey and it worked out great. Just me and my, ahem, backpack,(read "largish bag that has straps on the back posing as a backpack but it also has wheels") checking out the scenery and meeting the locals.

I stayed there from the 5th of June thru the morning of the 9th. I had a great time on all my recent travels (including Frankfurt, Prague, London, Northern Germany, Copenhagen, and places in those vicinities) but Amsterdam was the most fun for me. I guess because I did not know what to expect, and the atmosphere there is just so down to earth and "whatever happens, happens". And somehow safe at the same time. Anything can and will happen there, and everyone just shrugs and says "ok, whatever".

Nekkid man biking down the road?
60 year old guy in a thong and ONLY a thong doing an aerial trapeze act above the cafes in the square?
Brazilian wedding party (150 people) marching to a drum beat down the Herrengracht, dancing women in feather bikinis leading the way?
Yeah, sure, only an average day.
People wearing bright orange jumpsuits, their faces painted orange and feathers in their hair, singing and drinking on every street corner, and dancing with whoever walks by?
Ah, it's a football game tonight!

The Dutch people are a hoot, to a man. Really earthy and funny and surprisingly friendly, though their language does sound like hawking loogies. The street my hotel was on, Prinsengracht, is pronounced Prinsen(hawk) ra (hawk) t. Like if for the "gracht" part you hawked out the "gr" and the "cht". I'll try to say it for you some time. Something about the pronounciation changes the timber of the voice, and everyone has a deeper and somehow more sensible sound to them.

I really liked Amsterdam not for the coffeehouses and the "party atmosphere" but for the sheer beauty of the place and the way history is in every doorstep and around every corner. A perfect 17th century town, it's just so pleasant for walking and there is so much to do on every block. I walked MILES. It was also rather thrillng for me as I had studied Dutch art of the Golden Age in college (with a very sexy blonde female professor who wore very tight pencil skirts and all the guys just LOVED her. I thought, well hell, if Dutch women are this cool, then I wanna be Dutch too!). I was dying to see the Rijksmuseum and where Rembrandt worked. The Rijksmuseum, as it turned out, was under renovation and so had a sort of "Greatest Hits" of Dutch art exhibit going on, but it was still cool. I was just hungry enough that I knew I might not be able to spend hours there, so the short version ended up being perfect, and the design of the exhibit itself did my little decorative painter/stenciler heart proud. It was GORGEOUSLY done.

I also got to see the latest Harry Potter movie in the most GORGEOUS cinema I have ever been in. It's called the Tuschinski. It was excruciatingly beautiful, I almost missed parts of the movie looking at this theatre. But I did really like the movie alot, too. Seen it twice now. If I were 14 I would have a MASSIVE crush on Daniel Radcliffe.

My last night in Amsterdam I decided to go on an escorted walking tour of the Red Light district, thinking that might be safer than going alone. I called and reserved a spot on the walk, and when I showed up it was just me and the tour guide. Her name is Kimberly, an American who has lived there for 18 years and has an apartment in the Red light District. The tour, it turned out, included a beer. So she showed me around, gave me fun facts (Tarrantino wrote "Pulp Fiction" here! Chet Baker died here!") and then we stopped for beer.
A few more facts and another beer (impromptu this time).
Then a couple more buildings, then MORE beer. Hey, bars are part of the tour, aren't they? Gotta get the flavor of the Red Light District, right?
Before I knew it, her gorgeous Dutch friend Derek called her, she told him to join us, and we ended up drinking ALOT more, finally ending at a gay bar in the Red Light District and hanging with the homies. One of whom looked EXACTLY like Stephen Moser (Stephen, did you know you have a Dutch Doppelganger?).
There was a drag show in the bar across the road from where we sat, and the drag-ees came out into the street in their full regalia...mincing about in 18th century garb, like Madonna video wanna be's. They flirted with all the rough looking biker dudes outside that bar, (GOD did I take pictures, which I will post next week). One came over to our side of the road and talked with a friend, who apparently asked him what he wore under his skirt. So he hoiked up his skirt to reveal...tighty whitey Calvin Klein boxer briefs. I was shocked, I thought it would be better than that, something frilly or bloomer-ish, or a sequinned thong. You know, something FABULOUS? In my disappointment and surprise I hollered (unthinkingly) "Oh! That's SO not fabulous!". Everyone in the road heard me and busted out laughing, I was really embarrassed. But the guy good-naturedly came over and flirted with me and flapped his fan at me. Even let me take a Big Head picture. I told him he simply MUST wear unders to match his overs, so next time he promised he will wear black ones or red ones to match his dress. (I am ever the Fashion Co-ordinator. It matters not what your style is, I will help you coordinate yourself, whether you want it or not!) I finally managed to waddle home drunkenly at around midnight. Having missed dinner in all the hilarity, I got some fries ("vlaamse frites aka the National Dutch Drunk Food")on the way home. They are served with mayonnaise. You can get ketchup if you ask, though of course that is SO American. So I did the Dutch thing and ate the mayo-doused fries out of the paper cone (using the tiny little fork provided) while staggering to the tram stop. Apparently I am an honorary Dutch Gay Man now. Good thing I like boys.

Yes I was hungover on the train the next day. But that seemed to be my modus operandi....go out the night before I had to be on the train and get wasted, then hurt on the train. And hurt I did. Ow.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Notable thefts in Norway

From today's Aftenposten online, a listing of things stolen in 2004:

May 28: Two Bob the Builder figures stolen from Grieghallen in Bergen
May 27: Two thieves in Belarus make off with an outdoor portable toilet, while a 45-year-old man is using it
April 20: Two Norwegian buddies from Nes steal a baggage trailer tractor from Gardermoen International Airport
April 13: Bomb dog Omar stolen while sitting in his owner's car in Kristiansand
April 1: A man steals a poisonous tarantula in Bergen, puts it in his pocket, gets bitten
March 8: Two men steal two collection boxes from Oslo Cathedral
Feb 11: Dental equipment worth NOK 50,000 stolen from the Faculty of Dentistry in Oslo
Feb 9: Several Stavanger women have their high-heeled shoes stolen
Feb 5: A man enters the Bristol Hotel in Oslo, asks for the keys to a BMW, drives off and disappears with it

Let's add to this list the three attempts on my car, during one of which they stole my owner's manual, the remote to my stereo (yet not the stereo itself) and an old pair of socks. Don't EVEN ask me why I have a remote to my car stereo. It just came with it, ok?

The Aftenposten is worth checking out, they usually have fairly good articles about Norway, aimed at people who don't live here. It's not very useful if you live here and want real news, but I guess I should learn Norwegian and read the real newspaper, huh?

Here's a link to Aftenposten:
(Hey I just learned how to do a hot link!)

Also good in Aftenposten are the pictorials. Definitely worth a look as you sit bored at work.

This is a view Rich captured from our living room looking east towards the Oslo Fjord. A storm had just gone thru. I think it's from last September. Today's weather looks similar to this.

My husband Richard and I on holiday in Copenhagen. I'm the one on the left.

I did it I did it!!!!

I posted a freaking picture! God it only took me two hours to figure it out, too! Now I wish I picked a better picture, but oh well, I guess there's time ahead for that, right? Not that there are any better pictures of me out there. I am the world's most unphotogenic woman. Truly. Completely ruined my supermodel career. Well, that and my big butt. Of course, NOW bums are popular, but back when I was an aspiring model/actress/paleontologist, butts were not as appreciated as they are today.

But I digress.

Now some things you should know about me and my "writing style" before this blog goes any farther:

I am a BIG fan of the run-on sentence. I also digress frequently. And use lots of these.....(the dots). You'll get used to it. It's kind of the way I talk. But in words. And not in proper sentence form. Ever. And yes, I do indeed have a degree in English. I figure, you learn the rules, then you smash them all completely to bits. It's one of the greatest things about being a "grown up".

And I cuss alot. Is cussing allowed on blogs? Testing 1..2..3..FUCK!!!. ????? lightning. No internet gods striking down my keyboard. Looks like I am ok. This blogging thing is gonna be cool.

Ok I am off to the Sandvika Storsenter (aka the tiny crappy "mall" in the neighboring town) to drop off my 13 rolls of film I took on my recent travels. I hope to have a decent picture or twelve to post when I get them back. In the meantime I will post one or two things that happened to me while traveling. But first, must get stinky self in shower to face the part of the day that is left after fucking with the photo uploads. (Teehee! I said fuck again! Whheee!!!!)


Thursday, June 17, 2004

God save us I'm a blogger

Right, here's my first blog.



Sounds like something that comes out of your nose as you wander lost thru a swamp and search madly for your hankie.

Well, as the title suggests, I am a Texas gal who lives elsewhere. Elsewhere being semantically anywhere outside Texas, but in my case, it's Norway. I moved here in August 2002, following my husband, who got transferred for his job. Before moving, I really knew nothing about Norway, except that it is really freaking far north and that it's where the Vikings came from. And I heard the food was nasty. Something about rotten fish or something.

That's pretty much still all I know. Except that I have learned the the fish is named lutefisk, and it's even nastier than I heard it was. I smelled it once, and that was enough for me to know that I never ever want to do even that again. Eating it? I can't imagine. (For a similar experience, if you picked up a rotten gelatinous fish on the beach, slathered it in butter, sour cream and bacon, and ate it, you might be close to what lutefisk would taste like. This I have heard, but smelling tends to bear my theory out.)

Being in Norway, so close to Europe and places that I want to see, I travel alot. Since my friends and family seem to want to know about my experiences, I thought i might post my stupid stories and embarrassing happenings here rather than bug them all the time with mass emails and such. THat way they can check in when they want, and see what's up. Maybe, once I get better at this, I can also post pictures of places I've been. I have lots of them. Emailing them is tedious on my end and it hogs up people's mailboxes. Now you can just come here and find the pictures yourself. I might even be persuaded to post a series of my famed "Big Head" pictures. I call them art. Others call them crap. Hey, it's a judgement call.

Since moving to Norway, I have traveled to the following places (in just under two years):

London (about 15 times)
Oxford, England (met husband there in the 80's, very late 80's, mind you!)
Canterbury, England
Various bits of the English countryside
Copenhagen, Denamrk (3 times)
Stockholm, Sweden
Shopping forays to the Norway/Swedish border
Frankfurt, Germany (4 times)
Northern Germany, visiting family (Bremerhaven and a tiny place called Neuenwalde)
Prague, Czech Republic
Marrakesh, Morrocco
The Atlas Mountains, Morrocco
Malta (the whole island, it ain't that big)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Paris (ok briefly, but still)
The Alsace Lorraine region of Germany/France
Many wineries in the above region (yeeha!)
Orlean, France
Various bits of southern and eastern Norway
Back to the US four times, mostly Austin but also NYC for an in-laws family reunion and Missouri, where my folks live.

I figure I am on a plane at least twice a month going somewhere. I can't find a job here in Norway and I get restless. I am lucky in that i also have family in London, and so can escape there relatively cheaply when necessary. I hope our next transfer is to England. That would be cool. I'm comfortable there, I like the vibe.