Sunday, February 27, 2005

Marital bliss and a cast iron skillet

Boys, this is more a post for the girls, so go read something else for a while, 'k? Here, I'll give you a topic.

Right, now for the girl talk.

I was talking to my mom yesterday on her traditional Saturday phone call (she always calls at 4pm our time) and as happens, we got around to talking about the annoyingness of men, or specifically husbands. For someone as youthful and vibrant (ahem) as me, I have been married an awful long time. I met Rich in 1989. I was 20. So yeah, it's been a long time and sometimes, as happens in a long term relationship, I get annoyed with him. (He never gets annoyed with me, of course. Mom and I have determined that we are perfect in every way.)

So Mom was talking about being annoyed with Dad, and I was talking about being annoyed with Rich, and we started riffing on the benefits of the cast iron skillet applied swiftly to the husband's head. You know how in cartoons and movies, the angry housewife klongs the husband on the head with the skillet, he drops like a rock and everyone laughs? Of course, the man is not seriously hurt, being the hard headed man that he is, and the woman gets the satisfying bell-like clangor of the skillet upside the head. I mean really, we don't want to hit them HARD, we just want a bit of a thunk and a nice deep ringing metallic echo.

So we started considering which skillet would be best for the task at hand. Do I use the Le Creuset enamel on iron? Or the Tefal heavy duty teflon coated aluminum? Or, the piece de resistance, Big Bertha, the 40 year old, cast iron, perfectly seasoned 8 pound skillet my mom gave me when I moved into my first flat? So heavy I almost need two hands to lift it?

I decided, after a brief consultation last night with Rich as he annoyed the shit out of me when I was trying to fall asleep, that the Le Creuset would be the best choice. (Rich tried to convince me of the efficacy of the small, light weight aluminum saute pan, but I quickly saw through his self preservatory tactics.) The Le Creuset would make a nice satisfactory "klonggggg" sound, it has an ergonomic handle angled perfectly for right handed or above the head swinging, it's heavy enough to be effective but not too heavy for me to lift, and the enamel coating makes for an easy clean up.

This is all theoretical, of course, mostly mulled upon when my loving spouse is bugging the hell out of me. The actual physical research will be left to the cartoon characters and the TV housewives. I am available, however, for consultations and think tanks discussing the merits of the different brands of skillet on the hardness of the particular head to be klonged.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

I love you Jennifer!

Look what Jennifer, my dear friend in Austin, sent! I went to pick up the 12 pound package today at the post office.
Oh my God!
She sent Fruity Pebbles cereal (my fave kids cereal), and Twizzlers and Mac and Cheese and cherry sours and Cheez Its and sponges (sounds wierd but you can't get real sponges here, and I hate those faux foam things. They squeak and just feel awful.) She also sent (and Rich and I gasped at this) GIRL SCOUT COOKIES THIN MINTS!!!!!! Rich called those as his, we might have to have a discussion about that. I mean, Jennifer is MY friend, he can get his own friends to send him stuff! (Just kidding, honey, but we ARE sharing...)
And she sent a huge box of Cinnabon cinnamon muffin mix. The thing I miss most when I think of good ol' American bad-for-you convenience foods is Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, you know the ones in the pop-open tube in the fridge section? Jennifer knows this and sent us the next best thing!
She spent alot of money to send up this package, probably more than the contents cost by a long shot. (And she says there are two more on the way...holy CRAP!) Anyone who has ever lived away from home for even a short time understands how wonderful packages like this are. It's like a hug from home, a little bit of love in a box.
Thank you SO MUCH Jennifer for this. I am making muffins tomorrow and Mac and Cheese tonight!
So what kind of jewelry can I make you, eh? As a little token of thanks?

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Great International Secret Blog Exchange

Two fellow expat bloggers, Vivi and Tracey, came up with the idea of the GISBE. Over 100 people signed up and now Vivi and Tracey have gotten us all matched up and assigned to our secret (secret to the recipient, not the sender, obviously, or that would be really hard) partners.

Mine lives on the West Coast of the US, however she does not have a blog, which is a bit of a bummer, as I have NO FREAKING CLUE what she is interested in. So, by default, I went with a vaguely kitchen theme and bought the traditional Norwegian items of: a cheese slicer, a paper clip, (both invented in Norway, of which Norwegians are VERY proud) a Norway potholder, a Norwegian flag fridge magnet and some postcards. ($20. is our limit, and $20. here spends like $5 in the US).

What if my GISBE assignee hates to cook? What if she suffered a tragic childhood kitchen incident, to the extent that she has a phobia about kitchens and in fact in every house she has ever lived in she has had it replaced with a fluffy baby bunny barn, full of bunnies and pillows and soft, non-cooking things??** (Bunnies being soothing, to most people, though being a Monty Python fan, I am a bit nervous of the ones with big pointy teeth.) And what if her father was killed in a horrible paperclip accident? And I am sending her a paperclip? Will I send her back to therapy for the next five years? And the potholder is fraught with peril...though I am not sure how. But I know it is. I just KNOW it.

Yep, the pressure here is pretty intense......and all because she does not have a blog and I don't know what she likes. Let's hope she doesn't have a problem with postcards, or man am I screwed......

If you are reading this and you are a woman living on the West Coast who signed up for the GISBE, let me know if you are kitchen or paperclip phobic ASAP, or otherwise I am sending this perilous package out on Monday, ready or not, consequences be damned.

**Yes, I am aware of my hyperactive imagination. It used to get me in alot of trouble as a kid. Now people just tend to say I am "creative" though some use the word "freak". Whatever, let's just say I think outside the box. ok? Get it? Box? I am sending a box on Monday? one understands me.

Collection mania

Some fashion books. Those of you into this sort of thing, you might be jealous right about now...grin.

Religious iconography. None of them are worth anything, but I like them all bunched up like this.

A few of Rich's globes. Mostly from the 50's and 60's. I also like the portrait above them, as it looks just like Rich, except as a slightly poncy 17th century prince.

More ceramics, with Haeger and Rosewood and stuff. Ignore the dust.....

Some of my ceramic collection, on top of the kitchen cabinets.. The big bowl in the middle is Haeger, but a reproduction that I got at Restoration Hardware. All the rest is original. There's lots more, believe me. We just don't have a wide angle camera to get it all!

Friday Q, and I am a cranky assed bitch on wheels

FQ TOPIC: Collectable.

FQ1: Are you a collector? If so, what are some of the things you collect?
I am indeed a collector. I collect lots of stuff, some in big collections, some not so big. Things I collect include:
Books about fashion, specifically American designers of the 30's thru the 50's, and fashion photography books. Also books about women who were arbiters of style in the 30's thru the 50's. Some of these books I bought in college for $10 are now worth in the hundreds. Like this one. And this one. And many of these.
30's to 60's ceramics, by companies such as Haeger, Floraline, McCoy, Abingdon, etc. All very strong urn-shaped vases and planters, all got for under $10 each, now sitting on shelves collecting dust and I love them more every day. My collections focuses almost exclusively on white colored items, with no additional color or decor. I like the simplicity of the finish and the graceful shapes.
Vintage jewelry. Shiny pretty fun, yeay! Especially strong bracelets and sparkly brooches, and yes, I collected brooches long before they were trendy.
Random-osity, including things with hands (hand shaped vases and such); blue and white old Royal Copenhagen porcelain; icons and crosses (though I am not remotely religious, iconography is fascinating); jewelry making stuff and beads; Claire McCardell clothes and memorabilia.
I won't even go into Rich's collections of books, antique globes, fossils, Egyptiania and his own random-osities.
Stuff? We gots lots of it.

FQ2: If you could collect anything... no matter how rare or expensive, what would it be?
Anything? I think I would collect Raj and Mughal, Indian jewelry, also alot of different styles of Middle Eastern jewelry. I like bold colors and baroque styling. Hell, just gimme the sparklies, please. I'd also collect a few Citroen 2CV's and a Vespa or two.

FQ3: Looking around you, what is some ordinary, everyday object you possess that would make an interesting collectable 100 years from now?
Many of my clothes and jewelry items would be interesting. Ditto some of my books. Hand written and hand made things. Also maps and globes and images of the world as it is today. Things like that, with a human touch. As we get farther and farther from human interaction in our daily lives, I think things with a human touch will be more and more precious.

FQ RECOMMENDED: Are there any public collections you enjoy (museums, galleries, etc.) that we should know about?
The costumes and jewelry at the V&A, London. What an amazing collection of clothes, from the 15th century on up. Wow, blows my mind every time I see it.

Well that worked out well. I was in a really crabby mood when I started this post (you know when you just start out the day wrong, with annoying news or some little niggling annoyance that just BUGS you?) but I feel much better now having thought about things I love. Thanks, Friday Q!

I coulda been a contender.....

Damn ass hell and damnation.

About three weeks ago I got an email from a reporter from BusinessWeek Online about the possibility of interviewing me for an article about expat bloggers. Vivi at Dispatches from France had given him my contact info. I told him, sure, I'd be happy to talk to him, but I was about to go to Paris, could he call me there. He said fine, and I gave him the contact info for the hotel I was going to stay at.

I never heard from him, but I was pretty busy and not in the hotel room much. I emailed him when I got back to Norway, saying that if it was not too late, I was back and had some time.

He responded and told me the FUCKING FRENCH PHONE (my words, not his) in the hotel room did not work and he tried calling but could not get through. AND, the front desk people never left me a message!!!!!!! Then said thanks, but he had enough info for his article. Maybe next time. Gah! Chance lost!

And so today I found the article.

The article I shoulda been in!

Damn damn damn and shit and damn some more! This was a building block in my plans for World Domination, Phase One, Media Control, and it has gone seriously awry. All due to a damned non-working French hotel phone. Must be a French conspiracy. I can feel it!

To those mentioned in the article, though, woohoo to you, and it is a good explanation of why many of us are so addicted to our blogs. Good job all around! The few, the proud, the expat bloggers!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Norway is endlessly entertaining.

This article is a good example of why.

Just so you know: prostitution is not illegal in Norway. Prostitutes are free to sell their, ahem, wares, and men are free to buy them. What IS illegal, though, is pimping. Pimping is a very serious crime. The idea being that the only people who should profit off the women are the women themselves. Very liberated, eh? Very, very Scandinavian.

So this article is illuminating, to me, of the Norwegian mindset. In the US, if this accident happened, they would never have called the police, as they would have been afraid of getting arrested, and, in not calling the police, they might have died. Here, they call the police, get rescued, and everyone has a good laugh.

I like the "live and let live" personal lives policy of the Scandinavians. Hey, sex happens, you know? In the US, everyone is so bothered about nipples on TV and acting so "moral" and pretending that sex does not exist outside a straight, man/woman sanctioned-by-God marriage, when you know they are all just a bunch of horndogs like everyone else in the world. I read that only half of Norwegian couples are married, that the civil and partnership rights are so strong that there is no need to get married unless you want it. Women have their kids young, many times single, knowing that they have great support in childcare, medical benefits and maternity leave. Abortion is legal and an unquestioned right, yet not that prevalent, as the morning after pill is available (gasp!) over the counter and birth control pills are easy to get and cheap. Women know their rights, know what to do to take care of themselves, and have no fears of not being able to take care of their kids like they do in the US. The men fully participate in the process of birth control and childcare. It's a very child friendly country, and parents are fully respected in all their choices. (Not to mention, from a fiscal standpoint, all these kids being born are future Norwegian tax payers, so that is a good thing to the government!)

I say, you go Norway, and keep up the good work in just allowing people to be who they are: flawed, stupid, fornicating and funny.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Texas Connection follows me everywhere

It's interesting to see how far reaching Texas' reputation goes. I see references to it everywhere in Europe

For example, today alone:

1) I went to see "The Aviator". Many references to Howard Hughes being from Houston where I was born. (Rich worked for a time for Baker Hughes, a Houston oilfield services company. I never made that connection until now, wow!)

2) Also from "The Aviator", a small part in it was played by Brent Spiner, who played Data in "Star Trek Next Generation". Brent Spiner went to my high school, though admittedly earlier than me, and his mom still lives in Bellaire, the part of Houston I am from.

3) I was checking out a music shop today and prominently displayed in the "hot stuff" section was a rerelease compilation of music by Roky Erickson. Roky Erickson is a long time Austin music legend, and not (I thought) terribly well known outside certain collectors and Texas music fans. I met him a few years ago in Austin at a party in his honor (where I also found out, to my chagrin, that I had been sitting at a table all night with the Butthole Surfers and did not know it, though I traded stories and rounds of beer with them all night!). It always blindsides me how big Texas music is here in Norway and Europe, compared to how disrespected it is in Texas itself. Norwegians LOVE Texas music and musicians and have really good knowledge of it.

4). An accessories shop in the Sandvika Storsenter has a new promotion going on. It's called "Cowgirls are It!" and then, plastered all over the shop, in rows and rows of banners, is the word "Yeeha! Yeeha! Yeeha! Yeeha!" Everywhere you look, "Yeeha", with little cowboy hats and such. Texan images everywhere. I can tell you, Texans rarely use the word "Yeeha" in polite conversation. I giggled madly whilst in the store, and had to restrain myself from showing them what a real "YEEEEHAAA!!!!!" sounded like.

Strange, isn't it, that one state in the US has such a mystique. Texas, it's a whole 'nother country.

Also, and just FYI, I have had a few folks asking me why I haven't "posted about Paris already?" I just took in my film today and unfortunately it will not be done for 8 days. (!!!!!) I am trying a new, cheaper place to get my film developed, as the other place was faster but hugely expensive. So, I can post about Paris, if you want, but post the images later, or I can wait and do it all at once. You tell me what you want. I am yours to bloggily command.

Monday, February 21, 2005

And I thought *I* had it bad?

My car was attempted stolen three times in Norway. I used to be mad about it until I read the following, from an AP news story. And I thought I had it bad?????

OSLO, Norway - A Norwegian family's swimming pool wasn't just bolted down, it was in the ground, but that was no impediment to a band of determined thieves.

When the Nicolaysen family visited their mountain cabin over the weekend, they discovered a big hole in the yard in place of the swimming pool that had been installed 20 years ago.

"This can't be, we thought," Arild Nicolaysen told state radio network NRK on Monday. "We didn't think it was possible. No one can steal a swimming pool."

Evidently, someone did.

At some point between early November, when the family closed up the cabin for the winter, and the weekend, their pool, 16 feet in diameter, and all its equipment was uprooted and stolen.

"It must have been a terrible job to disassemble such a big pool. There is a steel lining all the way around, plus there is a plastic liner and then there was a skimming system, a filter system and a lot of big hoses, and pipes," said Brit Nicolaysen, who owns the cabin with her husband.

"They must have had a whole lot of time," she said.

Brit said no one, not even the police, believed them at first.

Police said they had never heard anything like it. They suspected the pool was taken for someone's private use, since there's not a market for 20-year stolen, in-ground pools.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday in Norway

Sunday in Norway is "tur" day. It's the day when everyone goes for a walk. Whole families get bundled up (especially on an ass cold day like today) and go walking. It can last anywhere from half an hour to 6 hours, but everyone does it. It's tradition. And in Norway, you just don't balk at tradition.

Even us. We went walking today, Rich and I. I have been such a slug lately, and I think I have finally snapped out of it and am getting my butt moving again. We had a nice long walk, all bundled up in our puffy coats (mine is basically a sleeping bag with arms and a faux fur lined hood) and sneakers with wool socks. We only slipped on the ice a few times.

Yesterday we walked, too. We took my aunt and uncle into Oslo for a bit of sightseeing. They, being lifelong Londoners, were just amazed at how clean and tidy Oslo is. How sunny it is (well, yesterday it was, but not always, obviously). How cold it is. (Yep.) How nice the people are (and yes, they WERE nice yesterday, I even had an old lady say "excuse me" to me, which was a first!) and how many trees are around. We went up to Holmenkollen and to Vigeland Park and to Aker Brygge ( the harbor area), and the castle. Up Karl Johansgate and to the Oslo Domkirke. And all around. Had kaffe and kuchen at a nice little cafe, in a very old (one of precious few) building in downtown Oslo. It was nice. Sometimes it helps to see where you live from someone else's perspective. They kept smelling the air, and they took a bottle of Oslo tap water home with them. Yeah, the water here is THAT good.

However, they were just as disturbed, maybe even more so than me, about the prices for food. Just for grins I took them to a grocery store and the pretty much laughed their way thru the joint. It was hilarious, watching their faces as they did the math from kroner into pounds for the cost of cheese, meat, bread, vegetables, etc. They had brought us a huge quantity of food with them from the UK, and I think when they saw what it was worth to us, they understood how grateful we are to them. Tine kept joking that she felt guilty for eating whenever I made a meal. Plus they brought us wine and Cointreau (my fave liqueur that I run out of more than anything, it's great for margaritas and cosmos and such) and chocolates and cookies and cheese and cheese and cheese.......we can eat for weeks on what they brought! Tine told me later that even though it is so beautiful here, she would get angry every time she had to go somewhere or buy something, so I was glad to see it's not just me who feels that.

They were very easy houseguests. They just wanted to look out the window at the views and go for walks. That's easy enough to accomodate. But I also had fun cooking for an audience of hungry folks and enjoyed watching everyone eat and enjoy my food. I was especially happy with a Moroccan Chicken with olives and lemon dish that I made. I'll do that one again for sure!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Me after that first night in Paris

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!

Karen sent me this picture she took from the grounds of the Louvre. I think it's really cool.

Actually now that I think of it, it sort of reminds me of me our first drunken night in Paris....except I was wearing clothes, my hair is a little better than that and I am maybe a little bit slimmer. And I wear glasses. And I am not made of stone. But other than that, it did look like me, after way too much wine and fun that first night. Ouch.

Friday Q: Distance

FQ TOPIC: Distance.

FQ1: What's the furthest North you've been on this world? What were you doing there?

Norway. I live here. It's pretty far north. Check out this cool globe website to see.

FQ2: What's the furthest South you've been on this world? What were you doing there?

Farthest, I was gonna say Egypt or Morocco, but it looks like it's Mexico. Specifically Palenque, Merida, Cancun. I went there in middle school for field trips for my Spanish classes. Bringing forty 13 year olds to Mexico? Big mistake! WE drove Senora Simon crazy. "Ay Julia!"

FQ3: Where were you born, and what's the furthest you've been from that spot?
Born in Houston, TX. I guess Egypt is furthest. Though Norway is pretty far too. Hoping to get to Thailand this summer.

FQ AWAY: Name a blog you read that's the most distant from you... whether it be emotionally, culturally, religiously, or by physical location.

Furthest distance wise, is Ben's Blab (see links, to the left). He's in Australia. Though Dave at Blogography is pretty far away in Washington State, now that I look.
Religiously? And culturally, actually, I found this blog of one of the finalists from a previous America's Next Top Model show. She was the religious one. Well one of them. Man, reading it just gives me the heebie jeebies. I am all for faith, but this is kind of over the top.
Emotionally, I feel very far away from Karla May, my dear friend in Austin who is going thru so much right now, and I feel horrible that I am so far away and can't just be there for her. Take her out, get her a beer, talk and commiserate, you know? Part of me will never understand the depths of what she is feeling, and part of me feels it right along with her. It's really hard to feel so useless.

That's it? I'm done? Wow that was easy.

My aunt and uncle are here so I might be sporadic in my postings, but they are blown away by our house, our fjord view and the prices of food in Norway. They brough us so much food from the UK we might not have to go grocery shopping for weeks. So nice to have them here!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


In Paris.
Karen and I had a craving for crepes. We found a cool little place in the Latin Quarter. My crepe came with coconut ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and some sprinkly bits. It was phenomenal. I really enjoyed it, as you may be able to tell from the rather feral face I am making as I bite into the yummy crepey goodness. If I could have snorted it I would have. Thanks to Karen for sending me the pic, as I will not have time to get my film developed until next week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Slightly Worrisome

My horoscope for today starts with the phrase:

Have you examined every crevice?

Um, er, uh......????????

I've Been Tagged

Vivi from Dispatches from France has tagged me. This is a blessing, as I am just back from Paris and am quantifying everything that has happened (all good to fabulous, believe me). So I can pause and be "It" and respond to her tag, then later post about Paris once I am a bit more organized (read: showered, shaved, shopped and ship-shape). So, Tag! I'm It!

1. Total amount of music files on your computer?

Not much, actually. I am a Luddite when it comes to mpegs and such, and have burned exactly four cd's in my whole existence on this earth. And I do not have an iPod, though I am watching the reasons for getting one get more and more compelling. So from what my iTunes tells me, I have 475 MB of music on my computer. Not much, didn't I tell you? Much of it is experimental downloads from this one DJ's website, James Lauer. He has some great mixes and downloads are huge but free! Great trance/dance house stuff.

2. The last CD you bought was...
....erm, Massive Attack, Mezzanine. Marla, my music goddess, was driving me around in her tricked out VR6 Jetta "staywag" and this incredible music was playing and it was Massive Attack. So I bought it and now when I hear it I think of loungey bars and mellow candelight and Marla's superhip not-your-mamma's station wagon racing Jetta.

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
Oh dear, pretentious moment coming. Do forgive me, but it is the last music that I can name that I remember hearing in the past few days.
So, (she says, leaning forward and tossing her hair back, taking a virtual philosophical puff on her Gitanes, squinting intellectually, her black turtleneck snowflaked with tiny bits of ash), there I was at the L'Ilot Vache, a tiny little restaurant on the Ile Saint Louis, Paris. As I tucked into my avocado terrine with blah blah sauce and balsamic blah blah coulis, and sipped my Cotes Du Rhone, the somber yet hauntingly beautiful sound of Mozart's Requiem floated down to me from the ceiling thru the candlelight. All around me were flowers, ancient perfectly decaying walls, antique porcelain and, for some unknown but charmingly French reason, portraits of cows. People sat, two by two, all deeply immersed in the moment and the flavors as the amazing food flowed calmly from the kitchen.
I gazed deeply into my dining companion's eyes, and in a meaningful tone of voice, said, "Dude!. Can you fucking believe we are here in Paris and eating this amazing food and this is my life right now??? " Karen replied "Yeah, wild isn't it?"

4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Note: I rarely listen to just one song, I am a mood-music person and so this list is really just stuff that pops into my head right now.

"Sinner", Neil Finn
. It's just beautiful and it's about taking the moment as it comes.
"Tainted Love", Soft Cell
. The one song I can sing to convincingly and (mostly) in key.
"Days Go By", Dirty Vegas. The big hit song summer of 2002 when I left Austin, it's sort of monumental to that time and so painfully nostalgic that it can hurt to listen to it. "Days go by and still I think of you".....all my friends that I miss so much.
"Closer", NIN. Hey, it rocks, it's raunchy and it never fails to get me off my ass and moving.
"Nothin' To Say", Seaman's Quartet. A small well known (are they still together?) Austin band, I know them thru friends, but this one song always rocks my world. Lyrical, harmonic and good rock n roll.

5. What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why?

Karla May, because she is my music guru.
Dave at Blogography, though I think he has already done it, so is excused if I am asking for redundancy.
Bookhart, who does not have a blog, but can respond as a comment, because she is my other musical guru.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I have perpetrated a miracle

Digression: Grammatically is it possible for one to perpetrate a miracle? Ah, well, semantics, schmemantics. Whatever, I did one. A miracle, that is.

I, Karla, The Texpatriate, Future Dominatrix of The World**, She of the Fifty Pound Suitcase and 16 Black Skirts, have packed everything I need for a weekend in Paris....into a backpack.

Not even a big one, but a medium sized, sassy red Fila backpack.

(Julia? Julia in Austin? Are you ok? Did you pass out? I know, you thought this day would never come. Heather, give Julia some smelling salts! She's plotzing!)

A backpack! A freaking backpack! Me! A backpack! Paris! People, this is big news!

I think I just saw a pig fly.....and was that a monkey that just flew out of that guy's butt?

**plans in progress, Media Control Phase One initiated

strange weather indeed

Everyone here in the Oslo area is talking about what a strange winter this has been. Very little snow (unlike my first winter where there was so much snow everyone was just amazed) and not too cold. Granted, "not too cold" is a relative term, but honestly, it's not too cold even for me, Ms. Sandals and Tank Tops.

The past three days have been dreary beyond belief. Horrible, grey, misty, droopy, stay-in-bed weather. Dirty patches of snow remained from previous falls, but nothing very inspiring, and, from what folks tell me, definitely not ski-able. Then yesterday it snowed lightly all day. Kind of wet and sticky small snow pellets, not even flakes. It stuck, but grudgingly. Around 5pm that changed to rain, and then a few minutes later wind started blowing, 30-35mph winds, like a gale. It blew and rained all night. Good sleeping weather. Our house is strong.

I got up this morning to a crisp, clear (dare I say it?) spring like day....and not a sign of snow anywhere. The rain and wind last night scrubbed away every iota of it as far as the eye can see, and from up on our hill my eye can see pretty far. (Hi Sweden!)

The kids down the hill below us (our backyard ends in a little cliff and the barnehagen is right beneath) are all running around in their little Oompah-Loompah winter suits, covered in mud and trying to make up games that don't involve snow. Poor things....they are casting about for stuff to do but just don't seem comfortable without that white snowy layer they are used to this time of year. Little bright red, blue and green human puff balls is what they look like, so cute. One kid is beating a rock with a stick. I guess the Viking instincts carry on thru the millennia!

I am off to Paris tomorrow, will try to post whilst I am gone, but not sure if I will have time. I'm only there for the weekend. Wish me luck and lots of yummy red wine!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Very Important Valentine's Day Information

It's never too early to send your V-Day cards.

Go ahead, share the love.

Because I am just not creative today.

Because I just can't think of what to write on my own today,. and it's snowy and foggy and dreary outside, I am going to do this "meme" I copped from Blogography. If ya don't wanna read it, go read the news instead. Also, can anyone tell me how to do that "click here to read more" thing so that folks don't have to slog thru long posts if they don't want?

l. What time did you get up this morning?
9:40 am ,and that was hard to do on a blah day like this.
2. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls. Diamonds just seem so harsh, and pearls are more fun.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Meet the Fockers.
4. What is your favourite TV show? Six Feet Under
5. What did you have for breakfast? Big ol' mocha.
6. What is your middle name? I'm not tellin'.
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Asian stuff...Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, etc. Tex Mex, too. Don't limit me, I am limitless!
8. What foods do you dislike? Peppers (Bell, red, yellow), okra, fishy-fish, mysterious Norwegian "sandwich spreads".
9. What is your favourite crisp/chip flavour? sour cream and onion
10. What is your favourite CD at the moment? On a Cure revival, so Standing On The Beach
11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? 1997 Subaru Outback Sport. Great car.
12. Favourite sandwich? Roast chicken breast with curry on baguette with mayo.
13. What characteristics do you despise? People who try to impose their morals/ideas/opinions on others. See "George Bush".
14. Favourite item of clothing? Right now, my new Lucky Brand Jeans.
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? India or Thailand. Back to Morocco. Venice.
16. What colour is your bathroom? In Norway: shades of taupe. In Austin: 50's Pink tiles with black walls. VERY hip looking.
17. What colour pants are you wearing? skin colored (wearing a skirt)
18. Where would you retire to? Santa Fe with flat in London
19. Favourite time of the day? 3:25 pm
20. What was your most memorable birthday? My thirtieth when my friends threw me a surprise party. Also my, um, 34th, right before I left Austin to move to Norway. I felt the love.
21. Where were you born? Houston TX.
22. What's the last thing you ate? Dinner last night. Tacos.
23. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? chartreuse.
24. Favorite flower? gladiolus or orchids. Tall and stunning.
25. What fabric detergent do you use? Omo, wish for Tide.
26. Coke or Pepsi ? Coke
27. Do you wish on stars? Yes, especially Johnny Depp, haha.
28. What is your shoe size? US 9 1/2, british size 7 1/2, Euro 40 1/2.
29. Do you have any pets? nope. not now.
30. Last person you talked to on the phone? Jennifer L. L.
31. What did you want to be when you were little? Actress, parapsychologist or paleontologist.
32. What are you meant to be doing now? Putting into action my plans for world domination. Instead, I do questionnaires. Hey, even evil masterminds have down times.
33. What do you first notice about someone? Hair, eyes, height.
34. Siblings? Brother, slightly younger, infinitely sweeter.
35. What was your favourite toy as a child? Barbies and anything my brother was playing with at the moment
36. Summer or winter? Summer, hell yeah.
37. Hugs or Kisses? Hugs. Kisses. Foreplay.
38. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
39. Living arrangements? tall narrow three story townhouse ("rekkehus") outside Oslo overlooking the OsloFjord
40. When was the last time you cried? Last week. One of my parents' dogs died, he was a favorite.
41. What is under your bed? "It".
42. How many countries have you visited? Mexico, Canada, Cayman Islands, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Egypt, tip top of Italy (for 10 minutes once). Going to Scotland in March.
43. In how many cities have you lived? Houston, Austin, Midland, (Texas); Oklahoma City; Oslo, Norway. Spent three months in Oxford England in 1989.
44. Favourite movie of all time? I refuse to limit myself to one. Princess Bride is high on the list, though.
45. Mountains or beach? Mountains, but warm ones, please?
46. The current friend you have known the longest? Julia, since I was five years old.
47. Full names of your potential kids? Richard Adams III and Virginia.
48. Usual bedtime? 11ish-12-ish.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

No, I mean it....

...the link? In the previous post?

JOKE, right??????


THIS has GOT to be a joke.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Great Chicken Escape

It never fails, just when I think I am The Great Chef, something always happens to put me right back in my place. Like, for instance, last night's excitement.

Last night I decided to use my old Schlemmertopf clay roasting pot and roast a chicken. I tossed in some potatoes (the package said they were "party potatoes" so they must like being together, right?), some mushrooms, the chicken resting on top of that, and then pan fried some bacon bits to toss over. While the bacon juices were still hot I insouciantly poured in some cognac and chicken stock and let them cook down for flavor and poured that over the whole lot. Some herbs of various kinds, salt and pepper and into the oven it went. Looked lovely!

After an hour of cooking delicious smells wafted thru the house. I checked on the chicken and decided to pour out the majority of the juices and cook it without the lid for the remaining time, so that the chicken and potatoes could crisp up. I would make a sauce from the drippings.

I carefully tilted the very hot clay pot containing dinner over the sauce pan to drain the liquids. It dripped directly into the pot, no misses. As I proudly noted my neatness in this sometimes fraught endeavor, my chicken chose that moment to make a run for freedom. It shot out of the pan, slid across the counter and skittered to a halt against the backsplash, spewing juices from its innards and steaming and spitting vociferously.


I managed to ignore the escaped poultry for a moment as I finished the task at hand, still not spilling any liquids, but somehow less proud of that fact as there was now a trail of chicken and wet chickeny goodness that spanned a good 5 feet. I was just glad Rich was in the other room and did not see this. If I could get that damned bird back into the pot without him noticing, I could take this secret to the grave.

Let me 'splain. There are two types of cooks in the world. The neat ones. And the not neat ones. You might guess which kind I am. And it INVARIABLY happens that, whenever I am at my most messy, covered in flour, spraying sauce or splattering juices all over the kitchen like a mad utensil wielding Frankenstein, Rich will walk into the kitchen and make a comment.

I carefully put down the clay pot, now devoid of juices, and reached for a couple of long forks with which to grab the chicken. I advanced upon it like a lion stalking a gazelle, forks at the ready. Just as I pounced on the bird, ("Ha HA!") one fork at each end of its benighted carcass, Rich opened the door and walked in. I was caught, in flagrante delicto, no hope of making it look like anything other than it was, an escaped chicken being wrestled back into its pan.

He walked in, surveyed the scene, said "I am not even going to ask" and walked out.

I wonder if that ever happened to Julia Child?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

This is just fascinating to me

Last night I was just flipping around the tv channels and I came across this documentary about this guy, Adam Nicolson, who inherited some islands off the Scottish coast. They are called the Shiant Islands. They're located between Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. His dad bought them when he was an undergrad at Oxford for 1400 British pounds, and gave them to his son on his 21st birthday.

Can you imagine your dad giving you ISLANDS for your 21st? Wow. I mean, just, WOW.

He, Adam, has made these islands his life's work and fascination. Check out the website, it is just enthralling. What a heritage to have. It's a renowned bird paradise, a historical and archaelogical site, and it's been lived on intermittently for centuries. And this one guy owns it. He seems like a really nice guy though, happy to share his heritage and boundlessly in love with the land.

It's also interesting to note that people are welcome to stay on the island, for free, though there are a few quirks and expenses involved. But what an amazing holiday that would be!

He wrote a book about the islands and his life there, called Sea Room. I am ordering it from Can't wait to read it.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday Q

FQ TOPIC: Sleepy.

FQ1: On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Do you think that's a good number?
I get 8 to 12 hours. Yeah, that's right, up to 12. I have an endless ability for slumber, plus no job. So I sleep. I think 12 hours could be too much at times. My optimum is 9-10. Less than 8 and I am tired all day. I sleep alot in winter and not as much in summer when it is lighter. (I am like a bear, I hibernate.) I am very light-oriented. The more light the better.

FQ2: Have you any sleep essentials? A nightlight or teddy bear perhaps? Must the door and closet be either closed or open?
Sleep essentials: floppy down pillows, heavy blankets (I need to FEEL the weight of the blanket), no air around my feet. If I feel air around my feet or my feet stick out, I am afraid the bogeyman will get me. I've alway had that fear. He'll grab my feet and THEN what will I do?
The closet door must be closed. The bedroom door open. No negotiations.
I like to sleep in a room with natural light, because I wake up with the sun. If I don't see sun from the windows, if it is a pitch black room, I will just keep right on sleeping, and not wake up until mid afternoon. I'm sort of a reverse vampire, I guess. No night light necessary. (Oddly enough, no alarm clock needed either. I can set my "inner alarm" and always wake up on time. As long as I have natural light, that is.)

FQ3: What do you wear to bed? What color are your sheets? How many pillows under your head?
I wear whatever is on the floor to sleep in. Barring that, a t-shirt and boxers or undies is fine. No socks, I hate sleeping in socks. Our sheets are many colors. I have a sheet fetish, and have many sets. It's a thing. I like Ralph Lauren 200+ thread count florals the best. I use two floppy down pillows that really add up to only one medium one, and a back up pillow against the head board.

FQ BIG SLEEP: Share some helpful advice you use when having trouble falling asleep.
Don't go to bed full, don't drink too much alcohol as it upsets your sleep patterns. If you are about to travel, do your packing before you go to bed as you will lie awake all night worrying about doing it in the morning. Go to bed with a clear head/conscience/to do list. I like to read before I drift off. If I am really restless I leave the room to read. (Rich kicks me out.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

RIP Teddy

Ever since I was born, my parents have always had German Shepherd dogs. Always more than one, usually more like four.

I have had a couple myself, as has my brother. To me, a real dog is a German Shepherd. Any other dog is just practice. Whenever I see a German Shepherd my first instinct is to run over and pet them and bury my nose in the fur of their necks.

One of our favorite in the pantheon of Germies was Teddy. Teddy was a big boy. Big, huggy and sweet. His favorite game was to play catch. Throw the stick (walnut, squirrel, whatever was handy) and Teddy would always go after it. Rich enjoyed playing a game with Teddy, where he would psyche him out and pretend to throw the stick, then quickly hide it. Teddy would run a few steps, then realized he had been had. He'd come back to Rich, stand in front of him, splayed out on his massive German Shepherd feet, and just let out one big bark: "WOOF". The "woof" was a huge, echoing, gigantic bark that would reverberate off the surrounding hills and clatter around in your eardrums. Teddy was a big boy. Rich would tease Teddy with fake stick tosses and make him woof a few times, then finally throw the stick right around the time that the Tedster started hyperventilating with Germie eagerness over when would that damn human just throw the stick already????????

Teddy also had no idea how big he was. Another of his favorite games was to play horsie. Unfortunately, he would sneak up behind his unsuspecting partner, usually my mom, when she was bent over, say, working in the flower beds. In attempting to walk between the legs of the bent over game partner so he could be the horse, he would generally succeed in knocking them over from behind, casting the intended horsie participant forward onto their head. Teddy did this to me a few times as well, and I found myself head first in a bunch of tulips in my mom's flower garden, trying to figure out what the hell happened and why the dog head butted me in the ass. Mom then explained about "horsie". He was just playing, and did not understand that a 120 pound German Shepherd generally does not fit too well underneath an unprepared (and bent over) human.

Teddy died today. He was getting old. He was active to the last, however, and valiantly followed my parents on their walks in the woods as late as last week.

RIP Teddy. You were one of the great ones.

The gang of dogs on a nice sunny day. Teddy is the old gentleman to the back. Posted by Hello

My Mom with some of the dogs in a snowstorm. Teddy is the big boy to the side. He was always there, always wanting to be in the action. Sweet doggy. Posted by Hello

menu frenzy

February will be a busy month. Well, the middle part will be busy. After I go to Paris I have two days to prepare for my aunt and uncle to come visit from London. My Aunt Tine (Tante Tine) is my mom's closest sister and my closest aunt. She's goofy like my mom, but even more so, with a British accent. Peter is a former bobby and then was in security for the Royal Family. Sorry, though, he will tell me no good gossip. So don't ask!

Anyhow, right now I am trying to plan menus and such for their visit. When we went there for Christmas, they fed us so well that I really want to return the favor. I know I won't be able to do it up quite as much as they did, prices for food being what they are here, but I think I am coming up with a fairly good balance of French, Texas and American cooking to keep them happy.

The deal is, and I can say this with all honesty, I LOVE to cook. I love to cook when I have lots of folks to feed and a feeling that I am being creative. I am one of those non-measuring kinds of cooks, you know, the ones who aren't quite sure how to replicate a recipe a second time because they aren't sure how they did it the first? That's me.

So for their visit, one night will be a Frenchy night (they adore French cooking) when I will make coq au vin. German style, though, using my romertopf clay cooking pot.
The next night will be a Tex Mex fiesta, to which I am thinking I might invite some friends to share and meet the family. I'll start with tortilla soup and then do fajitas. (And margaritas, of course!) My tortilla soup is pretty good, if I do say so myself. My brother craves it and asks me to make it when he sees me.
The third night, chili, of course. With corn bread. For dessert this amazing bread pudding with Jack Daniels' Whisky sauce from Tom Perini's cook book. When I first had that sauce at an event where he cooked (from a chuckwagon!) I literally licked the plate. It was a chuckwagon cook out anyhow, so who cares. Taste something that good, you gotta go whole hog. Manners be damned. It is FABULOUS. If you ever want good Texas cookin', get Tom Perini's "Texas Cowboy Cooking". It's great. Better yet, though, try to eat at his place in Buffalo Gap Texas. Or be lucky enough to eat at an event he is catering. Yummylicious!

Now to just make up a shopping list and hope I can find all the ingredients I need!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

um...let me see if I understand this right.....

I just found this article in Aftenposten. It's about community efforts to raise population levels in rural areas. Then I read this paragraph:

Six years ago the residents of little Gloppen held a high-profile 'community reproduction effort' in a local gymnasium that embodies the spirit of "Fuck for bygda". The endeavor was a big success according to organizer Per Svein Reed, who told NRK that the school is now "nearly bursting" with kids.

So let me see if I have this right: a small town in Norway got together a bunch of residents and they had a community "clusterfuck" in the school gym? To raise the town's population levels? Have I read this right?

Damn, that news article is really all Norway needs to raise rural population levels! Just promote activities like that, and I am sure you will get an increase in residents in NO TIME! Gotta love that communal spirit! Anything for the community! Do it for your town!

Can you imagine a campaign like that in rural Texas (say, La Grange?) or Kansas? Things are certainly different here. Yesirree.

Kinda makes ME want to move to a small town...just for research, of course.


Depserate Housewives got pre-empted for some sports thing or another last night. They said it would be on, even the on-screen cable guide (which only works part of the time) said it was supposed to be on......but then it just...wasn't.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

....and no one bloody told me?

That's great. Just great.

I am looking thru our TV Guide, called Programbladet, and I see a picture of Terri Hatcher on the page advertising tonight's shows. I think, hmm, that's interesting, she is on that "Desperate Housewives" show that I saw when I was in Orlando. I wonder what she is in tonight?

It's a show called "Frustrerte Fruer". "Frustrated Wives". Huh?

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES!!!!!! It's on tv here and no one freaking told me!?!? It's the fourth episode shown! But yeay, at least it's here!

That's the problem with having a sketchy grasp of the language. You know just enough to be late on everything. Plus, they change the damned names of stuff from the English to a Norwegian approximation, and many times you don't know what the hell it is until you are watching it!!!!!

"Scrubs" --- Norwegian equivalent title, Helt Sykt, is "Completely Sick".
"Myth Busters"---Sannhet eller Myte, Truth or Myth
"Freinds"---Venner for livet, or Friends for Life

And so on. What's wierd is sometimes they change the name, and other times they don't so you are never quite sure what it's called. Plus the schedules change from week to week and you might get Mythbusters every day at 8pm for a month, then just on Tuesdays at 9:30 for a few weeks, and then not at all for months. And they don't always show them in sequence or they might show a rerun two days in a row. (Or as with Sex and the City, where they show it twice a day on alternate days, the 8pm one being from early in the series, the one late at night being later in the series.) It's very hard to keep up with the TV schedules here.

Oh and also? They don't show ads as much as they do in the US, but when they do, they cut right into the movie or show in some random place, maybe right in the middle of a sentence, and then show 10 minutes of ads or sometimes, 20 minutes of the news. Right in the middle of the movie! You forgot where you were, and then they go back mid sentence where you left off.

All in all, watching TV here takes serious thought and study to figure out what's what. You really gotta WANT it.


This is the time of year that messes with my head. In December I know it's just dark and depressing, and I hide away in my little cave and snooze and hibernate. I can deal with that ok, as I know it goes away. After December 22nd, the darkest day of the year, the light starts to increase. And increase. And increase.

Which brings us to today. It's the first day of February and we already have almost three more hours of light a day than we did in December. Yes, we gain 3 to four minutes of light every day. It adds up fast. By June 22nd, the longest day of the year, it will be light for about 20 hours.

So now, here I am, with more light. It's a glorious sunny day outside. They say it is a very warm winter this year, freakishly so. It feels...springlike. It's like I am being teased. Spring, or what I call Spring where I don't have to wear a coat and gloves, will not happen for another four months! I feel the light, I feel the antsiness, I am even hearing birds chirping, but I know that if I go outside I will slip on the ice. And that I need a coat. And that the cold will last until April or May.

Spring is a very hard season when you are not used to dealing with it.

In Texas, we have two seasons: Hot. And Not So Hot. 9 months of the first, 3 of the other.

Noway has Cold. And Not So Cold. 9 months of the first, 3 of the other.

I will never get used to that.