Saturday, December 31, 2005

beers, steers and...a correction

First of all:

I may have misled some of you to think that we are moving back to Texas. We will, eventually. I'm hoping for a year or two. (Unless we get sent to England, a place I've always felt i needed to live for at least a year, just to sort of fulfill a life's goal.) But no. We are not moving back JUST YET. I'm just getting the house into a better place, so that I don't worry about it. I have potential renters coming to see it today, for the "landlord meets the people and pet" interview.

Now for the fun stuff.

Yesterday I got to ride ouut to Lockhart on my friend Julia's motorcycle. It was fun. Well, at first I was terrified, having not been on a motorcycle since i was 18 and bulletproof. Mow I'm older, wiser and scareder and I could actually visualize the pain of my kneecaps beeing rubbed off by the asphalt roads. I got over that after a few turns and twists and had a great time being Julia's bitch on the back of the bike. I was all waving at the harley guys and shit, it was cool. I was a bit bummed that I was wearing little camel colored loafers instead of my boots, as it killed the cool a bit, but hey, you can't have everything.

In Lockhart is an old traditional Texas bbq joint, Kreuz's. Smokey, open pit fires everywhere. Rolls of paper towels on the table. Basic as can be. Kreuz's is legendary for serving you the meat on paper, with no forks ("those are the things on the ends of your arms"), no sauce ("we ain't got nothin' to hide"), and no salads ("remember no forks?"). I got some spareribs, a piece of prime rib and some sausage. Ever eaten prime rib with nothin' but a plastic knife and some white white bread? Interesting to say the least. I'd love to see how most europeans would handle all that food with no fork. In fact, they laugh at you at Kreuz's if you ask for one. I used lots of paper towels.

But damn it was GOOD. The spareribs were the absolute best I've ever had. Bar none. Sometimes I was wishing for Salt Lick bbq sauce, but you really don't need any extra flavor on those ribs. The prime rib was tender, rarish and yummylicious. The sausage was ok, a bit too soft for my taste, but the flavor was good. All in all, it was a great way to spend and afternoon...out in the open air on a Honda Sahdow with one of my best buds, eatin' bbq with more good friends, and generally enjoying that uniquely Texan way of doing things.

After that, lucky girl that I am, I had a massage. I did sort of feel sorry for Tony, the masseuse, as I had onion breath something HORRIBLE. he said he's smelled worse. I believe him.

Here's wishing everyone a happy happy new year. Rich I love you and sorry I'm not with you. We'll be together soon.

Friday, December 30, 2005

moving right along.

The house has now gone from shades of yellow, and red dining room and a black bathroom, to shades of taupe and what I call baby shit brown, but it's actually quite nice. The kitchen is so white it's sort of painful, the bathroom is on it's way to the same sort of whiteness (but with the same pink and black tile) and it's pretty much looking like a new house.

I'm very pleased.
And very poor.

And I think I should either just move into Lowe's or give them direct and controlling access to my bank accounts, cuz damn, it's amazing how much money on can spend there. New mini-blinds, new hoses for the yard, more gravel for the front walk, etc etc. Cee-rap. Just keeps going.

But I keep reminding myself, soon we will be able to live in the house again, and won't it be nice to have all this taken care of ahead of time instead of having to do it once we get back? yes, yes it will.

Some pics of the house as it was......

I won't post pictures of the new improved until Rich sees it. I want him to be surprised......

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dec 26th, continued.....

I know it's the 28th but the 26th was eventful.

Last time i posted, I might have mentioned very slightly about how the 26th sucks ass? Well, it just got worse.

Like my shoulders and neck, usually pretty tight and knotty, went into agony overdrive and I had fucking muscle spasms happening. By the end of the night I could hardly move. I left work early (15 minutes, only, but I told the manager that I was going home with a look in my eyes that brooked no dispute). I drove to Julia's and burst into tears and begged her to please please please give me a back rub or I would die (and a beer and a xanax and a 800mg ibuprofen.) Those things together got me through the night, and the next morning I was able to get me to a massage therapist for a 45 minute intense shoulder and neck workover.

I am now able to turn my head almost 90 degrees, well, more like 60. Looking down is not so good, but whatever. At least I am not so knotted up that I want to cry. I'm more just wanting to bitch about it.

We are getting calls about the house for rent. It's wigging me out. One couple (who seem really nice) really likes it but "want me to install a dishwasher or disposal". I'm like, dudes, if it was that easy, I woulda done it by now. 1950's kitchen in original shape with original electrics and cabinets? Not so easy to just pop electronics in there. And I kinda want to wait on that and do it in one big overhaul, not just some piecemeal installation. So, um, sorry, request denied. You have a dog....isn't that disposal enough?

Steve the Painter is chugging along getting the house painted inside. Oh My God I saw the yellow I picked for the hall and front bedroom and it's FABULOUS. I love love love it. I'm very pleased with how it is turning out. I can't wait to see the other colors.

Back to work. I was cut off the schedule for tomorrow, then put back on. After I'd made plans to go to Enchanted Rock. must rearrange rock climbing plans.

Monday, December 26, 2005

December 26th SUCKS ASS


The day after Christmas sucks so bad it's unbelievable! I'm at work and every low class, stupid, messy idiot in the world is shopping today. It's mayhem. Unlike before Christmas, these fuckers are all out for themselves and are bound and determined to not only destroy the store as fast as they possibly can, but also have no manners. I now remember why I quit working for retail companies in 1997. The day after Christmas brings out the WORST in people!

One woman totally and completely cussed out her husband right in front of me. I mean she said things like "fuck you, I don't like you" to him, right in front of me, all because he made a joke. Man was she a bitch. Horrible woman. Then she turned her ire onto me, wanting me to find something for her and being barely and I mean BARELY civil. If she had used one cussword at me or said anything even the least untoward, I would have shut her down. I am SO not here to take that, and for what they are paying me, I don't have to, either.

It gets worse. Like, when you try on clothes, do YOU throw them all in a ball on the dressing room floor for the poor sucker who works there to pick up? No, of course you doon't. I mean, didn't yo' mama teach you better? Do you treat your stuff like that? Or more to the point, do you treat other people's stuff like that? No! ;You ahve manners! I swear, if I have to pick up ONE MORE balled up pair of pants or inside out sweater from the floor, I'm gonna lose it.

And also, seriously? You doon't need to try on the following things: T-shirts. Sweaters. Most things sized small-medium-large. Boxer shorts. Because, honestly, they are pretty much either gonna fit or they aren't. If you think you are a medium, you probably are. So all you chicks trying on t shirts and camisols and tank tops? Dudes with boxers and t-shirts? Quit it! Just buy it! And QUIT THROWING THEM ON THE FLOOR!

Also please realize: this store is CRAZY BUSY. This means we probably cannot give you the personlized service you normally would get. AND, when you throw shit on the floor, it means we have even LESS time to spend with you. So, be nice, ask for the possible, not the impossible or just plain stupid (like having us calling all over Texas so that you can locate a 9 dollar pair of gloves is probably something that would not constitute a good use of time right now. No one will answer the phone cuz they're all too busy.)

God I hate the day after Christmas. Everyone sucks.........

It's a Euro Trash Christmas!

First let me say this: Rich I missed you! Sorry you had to be in Norway and me in Texas this you and see you soon!

Now, here are my rules and experiences for a true Euro Trash Christmas.

1) Get a really really big turkey and roast the hell out of it. When it pops early, drink a beer to get yourself into the mood to cook.

2)Both you and your brother should be wearing the clothes you slept in. My sole nod to vanity was to put on some deodorant. Bro skipped even that step. All we could smell was turkey anyhow.

3) Measuring cups are a useful item. However, if you don't have them, an empty Rolling Rock bottle works just fine. It's twelve ounces, just add or subtract a little to get to two cups or whatever.

4) Red plastic cups filled with Reisling are CLASSY.

5) Strong brothers are goood for hefting 25 lb turkeys out of ovens. However, they aren't so good at cutting those turkeys. We pretty much mangled that sucker. It runs in the family, though. My father has avoided carving any large meat with the excuse that he "failed carving in Boy Scouts". This excuse has worked in our family for the whole of my 37 year existence. I am always very impressed when I am at someone else's house and the man carves. Obviously, he passed carving.....

6) Minute mashed potatoes really do only take one minute.

And now for pictures:

The minimalist decoration of my living/dining room...

Slightly blurry photo of classy turkey and measuring bottle....

My brother and the turkey that was even BIGGER than his head. (He's a foot or so in front of the turkey, but believe me it was BIG!)

Damn I'm sexy in my cut off Levi's skirt and black camisol. Seriously is this an awesome Christmas get-up or what?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

free turkey!

Merry Christmas y'all! Its a gorgeous sunny day here in Austin. I'm sitting at the end of my front sidewalk, towards the street, and yes I'm stealing the neighbor's wireless yet again. I consider it a Christmas present. I'm gonna leave them a present, like....

some turkey? because Oh My God y'all, we (my brother and I) have enough turkey to literally (and I do mean literally) feed twenty people. And I'm not so much wanting to eat enough for 10 all by myself, so I'm willing to share. See, his work does this thing where every Christmas they bring in an 18 wheeler truck full of food and they give every employee a full Christmas dinner spread. I mean turkey, mashies, stuffing, a bushel of oranges, stuff to make pies with, EVERYTHING. Like a couple hundred bucks worth of food. If you don't want turkey for Christmas, I guess you are kind of hosed.

So my brother brings the turkey with him to Austin...and it's HUGE. It's 25 pounds. And there are two of us. So I packed that sucker in the oven at 8am this morning. I stuffed it with whatever i had (an orange for some flavor, some onion powder and some sage and italian seasonings, because I've only got three spices in the house at this moment: garlic, onion powder and italian seasoning) And that giant bird is now smelling up almost the entire neighborhood!

It will be interesting to make stuffing, mashed taters, corn and gravy with a minimum of pots, but I'm creative, so we'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, while it's cooking, I've got some stuff to do in the house. organizing and trashing and so on, removing nails from walls, and shelf paper from shelves. Ugh. Steve the Painter comes tomorrow to give the inside the grand treatment. I can't wait til it's done. I picked all warm taupes and camel colors. Should rock. Though I will miss the black and pink bathroom. But I guess the funk must go in the name of financial stability......

Chuck, my bro, is in the front yard washing the car. He's as obsessive about clean cars as Joan Crawford was about clean house.

And yes, there is now a "for lease" sign in my front yard. It kind of freaks me out, because you hear so many rental horror stories, but I just have to trust in God and Jeff my realtor and friend, and hopefully we will get some good folks into our little housie......

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to everyone!!!!!!

(or whatever the heck you want to call it so you won't get mad at me for being either a) too politically correct or b) not politically correct enough. I think this whole "merry Christmas happy Holidays" furor is pretty damn dumb, but hey, it's America and we do like to obsess on the small things.....)

Thursday, December 22, 2005


There is a navy blue/black crow staring me directly in the face here in the garden at Spiderhouse. He wants my quesadillas. His eyes are brilliant yellow.

Bird feet totally freak me out. All scrabbly and claw-like, scritchy and scratchy and dinosaur looking. Once somebody put their parrot on my shoulder and the shivers I got from feeling the feet through my clothes were so visible, she had to quickly remove the bird before i lost my cool.

In other random, one thing has nothing to do with the other news, I bought a pair of pants at Banana Republic the other day. I had to have the waist taken in about 4 inches. (I buy to fit the booty, the waist gets tailored. It's hard beinga curvy girl.) Now the tag, which was right where they needed to do the cutting, instead of saying "BANANA REPUBLIC" says "BABLIC". But the pants look GOOD.


So here's me all bein' coffee culture and shit.

i'm at Spiderhouse, this awesome coffeehouse in austin. It's in a funky old house, and it's got this great outdoor garden with brick and mosaic walkways, things dangling and clanking from the trees and mismatched lawn furniture. It's got free wireless, veggie quesadillas and beer AND coffee. A guy just walked in with two dogs, there's a girl over there with dreadlocks and a mac, and the dude sitting next to me looks perfectly content with his pack of Camels, his coffee adnd his book. He's Old Skool coffee culture.
It's a sunny mild day, in the mid sixties. The music being piped out into the garden is a mish mash of everything. A Korn style rappy headbanger thing just finished, and now it's reggae. Ive got a plate of veggie whole wheat quesadillas the size of a large pizza (well a large Norwegian pizza) and the top of it is covered in paprika. I take a bite of quesadilla, then spend five minutes cleaning off my fingers before I touch Whitey here. maybe a white computer is not the best thing for a slob such as I.

I need more napkins. and maybe a beer. Hey, it's slacker time, I can do what I want.

Bookhart, I apologize for being here without you......

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

7 minute post

I've got exactly 7 minutes before I'm considered late to work. I'll be typing fast.

My neighbors have figured out my larceny, or they are out of town, but whatever, I've been cut off. So instead I am in back of the store where i work, stealing internet from the store next door. Everyone here does it, I guess they have a deal with the neighbors. Lots of mac geeks here, too. I'm drinking a STarbucks mocha and eating Chik Fil A, it's sort of my own low rent Mall American coffeehouse. All the stock boys int he back are hollering and dancing to loud music and being the funny boys they are. Nice folks here, with one or two exceptions.

Damn this Christmas shopping thing is INSANE. The store is a tip, people are grabbing whatever they can, plus we've puut everything on sale and it's madness. Then people get mad when they come in and something is gone. I literally tell them, buy it when you see it, you can always return it, because likely it won't be here when you come back. That is NOT a sales ploy, it's the troof, baby. Buy it if you like it, return it later if you want. Specially if it's on sale.

Overheard in the mall yesterday, a woman on her cell phone. She was very sophisticated looking, but her accent was so thick Texan you could eat it with a spoon:

"Which chicken was it? Was it DEAD dead? Oh its head was gone? Aw shoot. Can you get Earl to look at the fence again?"

I almost bent over laughing. Quietly, of course.

Is it DEAD dead?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I'm a real blog geek now!

Finally, for the first time in my life, I am doing something many people take as a matter of course.

i'm sitting in a coffee house, using my computer and blogging.

I'm fair thrilled, I am. I've always wanted to do this, and it was part of my Plan for Moving to Europe to travel around with the laptop and blog in smokey coffeeehouses, telling stories of the things I see and hear. That never really worked out as the other computer never quite worked with the wireless thing and so I would innstead use the random skanky internet cafe to do my postings. Not near as glamorous.

But now...NOW NOW! Now me and the little iBook, here, man, we are gonna blog the world. So finally (and ironically in my hometown of austin) I am in a coffee house, called Mozart's, surrounded by students and intellectuals and geeks and other severely caffeinated types, drinking Vanilla Rooibos tea (no I have no fucking clue what it is either, but it's good) and getting to know Whitey here.

I had one of those "small world" moments just now when ordering my tea. A guy in line in front of me looked at my face very intently and siad "Did you get your glasses in London?" I said yes, and he said "At Covent Garden, on Floral Street?". I said yes. Turns out he, too, has some Kirk Originals. Apparently they are recognizable the world over. Who knew?

I downloaded some pictures from the Empty House Party 2 today so I am now going to see what i can do about getting somme of them on here, a sort of visual progression of how a party naturally flows from start to finish.....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why I love Texas

Its the wierd random things that happen that make me love Texas so much.

Like going to a party at a friend's house and standing out on their back porch with a smokey fire, chattin' about whatever comes to mind, and having a huge hoot owl glide right above your head, a dark ethereal shadow against the moonlight.

Going to Lowe's to get yet MORE shit for your yard work, and the guy who works in electrical starts telling you a story about the time he was dove huntin' and he was walkin' across t'road, carryin' a turkey he just shot, when he almost stepped on a six foot rattler. It scared him so much he dropped the turkey. Then he got to his senses, shot the rattler and it's now mounted on his wall. But boy was he shakin' when he shot that mother.

Hanging out with your friend Karla may on her back deck, you come up withh a new term: Cousband. That's you know, when you marry your cousin and now he's your cousband? Then you both laugh so hard you have to pee.

Meeting a woman you've never even seen before in your whole life going into the Starbucks, and you recognize in each other kindred sartorial souls, and have a nice little chat about having curly hair, fabulous accessories, and ohmigod WHERE did you get that skirt? Ditto going into that self same Starbucks (admittedly slightly pissed off that yet ANOTHER tiny blonde woman in a very large SUV nearly creamed you once again leaving you to wonder why is it that the smallest people always have the largest cars?) and having the purple haired barrista holler out your drink at you when you walk in, and it's ready even before you pay.

Shootin' the shit with the other folks lookin' at paint chips in the paint store, and SWEARING that you've seen each other before, and naming names of friends of friends, and knowing people in the same circles, but that still isn't quite right, maybe we know each other through some non-profit or other? but you still can't quite work it out, but you KNOW you know each other, and that color is great, my friend has it in her house, and you have a great day, y'all, y' hear?

Texas fucking rocks.

Friday, December 16, 2005

totally forgot

Yesterday would have been the day I went back to Norway. I realized it last night when Continental sent me my online check in information.

Looking at everything i have been doing to the house and whatnot, that was insane and I am SO glad I am staying the extra month....woo!

I rule

Seriously, I kick ass. Well, I would kick ass if I could move my head more than ninety degrees and if I could lift my left arm. And if my feet didn't hurt so fucking much. Retail is for young people, or summat. ARg.

Anyhow, I still kick ass, if lamely.

Days two and three of my McJob I have been the top seller both effing days. Uhhuh, yeah, you got that right. And one girl told me she really likes working with me because I am so friendly and helpful. Wasn't that sweet of her?

the deal is, I don't care if folks buy shit or not. And I will talk you OUT of something that does not look good. But damn it's fun to dress people. There's no commission or anything at the Trendy Mall Store, but they do keep track of sales. And I rule. Because I like to dress people and it's fun to talk and be busy, so they sense i have no agenda to sell sell selll!!!

For the first time in THREE years I have a job and I'm kinda liking it.

One wierd thing is that I have never sold guy's clothes before. (I used to dress mannequins and forms, so I totally know how guys clothes work and should coordinate...just not on live men!) So helping guys in the dressing room is a little wierd for me so far, only because I'm not sure HOW much help they want, and if a dude totally looks hot in something, should I tell him? I don't wanna cross any wierd lines or anything. I mean, saying something like "DAYUM you've got an ass that won't QUIT!" is probably not on, huh? Even though a guy told me that once at a store where I was buying jeans? I was flattered but uncomfortable, so I would assume a guy would think that too.......

One more day of running my ass off, then I have a weekend off. And oh how I have forgotten how good a well deserved weekend can feel.....

(even though I will be digging in the yard and trimming bushes....ow.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

mall life

I went into the MAC store today to ask a stupid newbie question and the guy I bought the computer from was there. He saw me and yelled my name across the store (it was packed) and I now have a new best friend. He invited me to see his band on NYE. I think everyone in austin is either in a band or has a blog. Seriously. Some have both.

But he answered my question (about getting an application icon to stay on the dock) and I am rolling right along. Some stuff about the mac I really like, some leaves me scratching my head confusedly, and dammit I miss right click like my thumb has been remover. mac people seem pretty cool, like it's a cult, but a cult of cool kids that I got to join after spending alot on entry fees...someone told me I look like a mac perrson. Not sure what that means, but I am going to assume it means I am kick ass.

My refrigerator is making knocking nosies. Is someone in there?

I'm very tired from a long day at work. My feet are killing me. But I gotta say, working at a store is just like I remember. The folks at this one are particularly nice and I like the general way the company does things. there is one annoying kid who works there, let's call him Josh, not his real name (yes it is) and he bugs me. One of those officious types who keeps trying to keep me busy and shit, like I don't know what to do. Josh, I was working in a shop when your mama was still wiping your ass, so I really don't think you need to ask me if I "need something to do" ok, Busy Boy? Thanks. Leave me alone and let me get on with it.

All in all, though I'm impressed by the way this company is run and how they treat employees. I would consider a management thing with them, if I wanted to go that route. Judging by my aching back and sore feet, however, I'm not 100% sure at this point!

The 50% discount will go a long way to keeping ne interested, for now.

Ok beddy bye time. zzzzzzzzz

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm more southern then all y'all!

I stole this test from Bookhart, who stole it from Better Living through Sarcasm.


I should tattoo Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics and a big ol' Rebel flag on my ass cuz I got a score of 99% Dixie. (I think it was the question about the "feeder" road that put me over the top).

not sure if this is ethically correct or not?

Ok so envision this:

I am currently standing in my front yard, under the magnolia tree, using my new teeny tiny little iBook G4 which is propped on the trunk of my car, and totally stealing the neighbor's wireless to do so. Is that wrong? Or is it the neighbor's bad that they haven't protected their wireless and so I can totally skank it, but only from my front yard? Whatever, dudes, I am online, in my yard and using a spanking new little cute computer I just got out of the box.

Dad is so proud. He always did raise me to be a rebel.

Um, I also got an iPod. I figure, in for a penny, in for a pound. Or, if I was in England, a helluva lotta pounds.

How do I pay for this, you ask? Why with my seasonal part time (though they've scheduled me every freaking day this week) job at the Trendy Store in the Mall. And I totally get a kick ass discount, but what with the debt I've just incurred buying Whitey, here, I won't buy that much.

Life, at this particular moment, is really fucking good.

My other computer just would not go wireless. My brother's friend Rob spent all day Sunday working on it to no avail. Oh well, it will be the home computer and this will be the fun little run around 'puter. While Rob geeked out on the computer, my brother and I indulged in some hung-over shoveling of very hard clay soil in my front yard in an abandoned attempt at building a french drain. That Austin clay soil is HARD. And shoveling on a hangover is not fun. I've got a guy to come finish the job this coming Saturday.

This past Saturday I had a reprise of the empty house party from 2002. A nice turn out, about 35 folks or so, all folks that I consider close friends. It was awesome. I got drunk. And, judging by the amount of beer bottles rattling around here, so did everyone else. I will take a picture of the aftermath soon so I can test out iPhoto and whatever the hell else I've got on this.

I've got a .Mac account, and the three year support package (worth it, anyone?) which they say will cover me in Norway as well, and I got the MS Office for macs (can't escape Microsoft, can you?) and an iPod and something else that came in a little cute box. I don't know what.

I gotta go. The neighbor just pulled up in his driveway and I don't want him to suspect I'm sheening his wireless. (I've always said i had a certain flexible morality....this certainly adds to that bendy way of looking at things....)

You'll be hearing from me more frequently long as the weather holds out and the neighbor doesn't find out!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

10 minutes left

I totally forgot what I wanted to write about, but now I remember.

American TV. YOu see, I finally have cable. And I bought an air mattress to watch it on. And dudes, I am HAPPY.

I FINALLY got to see "My Name Is Earl" last night. LOVED it! I've been watching cheesy "What did we wear" shows about fashions in the 70's and 80's. Reruns of Scrubs are around somewhere I'm sure. And Veronica Mars, I must see more. And...and...the Office, American version, which is pretty kick ass and has Steve Carrell who I have a secret crush on because he's totally got a hairy chest and I like me the hairy chests. Tonight is the premier of the new "Project Runway". There's Dave and Jay and Jon and oh so much good night TV and then there's the channel flipping and the movies (and the rental place right up the street) and I swear I am in TV heaven.

Bravo and WE and Oh! and BBC AMerica, and Comedy Channel and VH1 and Discovery and NBC and local news and Cartoon and like, oh my god I am in heaven.

So now i am out of internet time. Dammit. Might as well go watch more TV.

Richard's time in Egypt.

My husband went to Egypt for work. Here's his description of what he did. I'll create links at a later time to the places he mentions....


Hi Everyone!
I thought I should describe my very memorable trip to Egypt last week; it was quite an adventure! First off, we flew to Cairo via Frankfurt on Lufthansa on Monday, Nov. 21st. It was a very smooth flight. We arrived in Cairo at ~630pm, met by the expeditor, and driven to the Sofitel hotel in Maadi. The hotel is right on the corniche so there was a great view of the Nile. We met up with some colleagues and had dinner at TGIFs on the corniche. The weather the entire 11 days was fantastic; mid 80s, no wind, and really clear.

The next day, we were picked up at the hotel by a minibus and drove 8 hours out to the field crew. The trip took us past Giza onto the Alex highway (which is now a 4 lane express with toll booths). We then went up to Wadi Natroun and had lunch near a Coptic monastery. From there we took a desert road that took us to El Alamein where we rested. We then went along the coastal road west towards Libya before turning south into the desert on an unpaved road and into the middle of absolute nowhere! I spent the next 5 days on the crew staying in a trailer. Food and room were quite nice considering the location. One note, I have never seen so many stars in the night sky. The moon was not out so the milky way etc were very visible and sharp. wow.

The prospect the crew is currently working on is in the middle of a WWII battle field west of El Alamein with unknown mine fields. We had to stay on designated paths and were not allowed to go past the markers. The Egyptian army is conducting the mine clearance the old fashioned way by having about 12 guys walk shoulder to shoulder and poking the soil ahead of them with long sticks! Talk about teamwork...

We left the field crew on the morning of Tues, Nov. 29th back to Cairo via the same route. Checked back into the Sofitel late afternoon and arranged to go to Giza that evening for Sound and Light; it has not changed at all! One nice thing is that you can now sit at a cafe and have a beer or two while watching the show.

The next day, Wed, was a BIG day for me. I hired a car and driver and had him take me out to Saqqara, Dahshur, and Abu Sir. It was an amazing day. Driving in Cairo hasn't changed; still a death-defying experience. At Saqqara, I watched an excavation in progress. They were actually lifting two massive sarcophagii from adjacent shafts. Unfortunately, I wasn't permitted to take any pictures of the dig. I ended up going into Teti I pyramid to see the Pyramid Texts. My legs were pretty shaky after that.

From Saqqara we started to drive to Abu Sir but the police said it was closed for tourists and required a special permit from the Antiquities dept. I was not going to be deterred considering this was Egypt, land of Baksheesh! So I had the driver sneak around and make it to the locked gate. It paid off because I was entitled to a personal tour being the only one there! The escort showed me all kinds of sealed off areas under excavation by a Czech team. I found a perfect clay plate that was used for makeup but left it in place. They are now very serious about taking artifacts unlike the days of mummy bead hunting. (The paranoid side of me also envisioned the escort setting me up later for more money etc. by threatening me with arrest which is apparently a scam they use).

After Abu Sir, we then drove to Dahshur, which was closed when we were living in Egypt because of a military base. It is now open for tourists. I managed to climb down 65 meters into the Red pyramid; my legs paid the price the following day. From the Red pyramid, I walked over to the Bent pyramid which looks like the best preserved pyramid of them all since it has most of the outer casing still intact. It was closed for going into and, anyhow, I don't think that I could have managed another trek into a pyramid that day. We then drove back to Cairo in the late afternoon. On the way back, I took pictures of Felaheen and rural settings as the sun set. What colors! Dinner was at the hotel in a nice Italian restaurant. I had an excellent seafood pasta with wine.

The next day, Thursday Dec 1st, I took the metro (very clean and modern!) into Cairo to Tahir Square and spent the entire morning in the Cairo museum. I barely scratched the surface and my feet were killing me by lunchtime. Unfortunately, they no longer allow photography in the museum (so I bought a nice book from AUC instead). From the museum, I walked over to Groppi's cafe and had tea and chocolate cake. From there, I hailed a taxi and had him take me to the Citadel. It was school day so I was totally surrounded (and I mean surrounded!) by throngs of children the entire time answering their questions. They all got a big kick out of me asking them questions back in Arabic! After walking around and looking inside the Mohammed Ali mosque, I walked down to the old section of Cairo to the Ibn Tulun mosque. I made it just in time before closing and the setting sun made the whole area glow in orange. The walk was very confusing and medieval. From there, I hired a taxi who drove me to two different Mamluk tomb/mosques in the North cemetary of old Cairo. At one of the mosques, which is portrayed on the Egyptian one pound note, I managed to climb up the winding staircase in the minaret and was treated to a breathtaking view of Cairo at dusk. The climb up and down was very scary because it was in pitch black and I literally had to feel my way up with my shoes on each step. Exhausted, but very happy, I drove back to the hotel for a hot bath and dinner (Tex-Mex fajitas at El Ranchos!).

On Friday, Dec 2nd, I walked out to the corniche and hired a feluka ($5/hour) where I took pictures of farming across the Nile and of the Cairo skyline. After the boat ride, I hired a taxi and drove to the old Coptic quarter and visited the Roman guard towers and St. George's church and the Hanging church. Unfortunately, the Coptic museum is closed for renovations. I then had him drive me to Maadi and to CAC. They were having their annual Christmas bazaar! Unfortunately, the event has now grown where one has to buy tickets in advance. There were literally hundreds of people waiting in line which wrapped around to the side of the school! I wasn't going to wait that long. Instead, I walked from CAC and down memory lane. I managed to find our apartment on Road 82. It has really changed. The gate was locked and it seemed like nobody was at home (maybe at the Christmas bazaar?) Expats were living there since the SUV parked outside had stickers of Choate & Kent prep schools. They have added a floor and the area is not recognizable. However, the fruit tree out front which the bats loved is still there and that is how I found the flat. Also, there are Egyptian police posted at every street corner (who were acting nervous not knowing what I was up to taking pictures and all). Believe it or not, two kids were walking up the street. They were American and in 9th and 10th grade. I ended up talking to them for quite awhile and they were interested in hearing about how it used to be when we were living there. From Maadi and Digla, I went back to the hotel, checked out and drove to the airport. On the way to the airport, the taxi driver stopped at a few spots for me to use up the rest of my pictures. The last stop was the strange Indian temple /mansion made of red sandstone that is empty (I need to research that place). The flight back, once again, was smooth. I made it to Oslo before midnight for a snowy and cold return.

Weather man playing jokes on me

Well shit!

Today in Austin we are supposed to have sleet, freezing rain and other assorted Norwegian style weather. Really, what the fuck? I came here to escape this shit!

Luckily, my Mom gave me a coat when I was in Missouri, and it's coming in handy. A nice warm camel hair coat, it's pretty old but classic, and I totally love it. Warm and cozy wrap-around style. Big pockets. Nice.

I'm at the library and there is a guy sitting next to me making rumbly noises in his throat, like he's about to hawk up a huge loogy. It's pretty nasty. And yes, I have not bought the mac yet, I promised my brother's friend Rob (a techie) a chance to check out my computer to see if he can do anything with it. It's really sweet of him, it's been bugging him that I am having such problems connecting and he calls me at random times with "What if's?" and possible solutions. Main problem is that it's hard to fix a computer that won't go online when you have no internet connection at your house...thus no way to check if your solutions have worked or not. Grrr....rock? Hard place?

I've been looking for a little temp job. I had an interview at a shop at the mall, just a trendy store, you'd know it instantly if I told you which one. But, having lived in Norway, I think I might have overpriced myself for the American market. I named what I thought was a fair hourly salary, taking into account temp status, but I guess it was too high as I have not heard from them. I'll give it another day, then call them, I guess. It would be fun to do something, plus they'd give me a 30% discount.

A freind of mine also wants to use me to help her decorate her new, HUGE house, so that sounds like a fun project.

I spend most of the past couple of days at Home Depot and such places, getting things to fix the house with. New light fixtures, new door locks, etc. I'm surprised how inexpensive things are, relatively. I'm so used to things being expensive and very precious, with not much choice or variety, that it astounds me to walk into Home Depot and see row upon row of light fixtures and stuff, and at such low prices it's just plain wierd. So I splurged on a new toilet seat and a light fixture for the dining room. The one we have it still from the fifties and I have never liked it.

Rich was in Egypt for work last week and sent an email describing his experiences. I think I'll post that here as well, because it's really interesting what he did.

That's all for now!

Friday, December 02, 2005

time ticking.

I'm on a computer at the library and I have 40 minutes left and a helluva lot more stuff to do, so this will be short...ish.

So, lessee, what's up.

I'm in Austin. Beautiful glorious Austin. I'm staying at my house, where I have a bed, a tv, stereo, a toaster and a frying pan. Minimal and wonderful. It's amazing how little you need, really, to survive. Granted, the bed is fairly luxurious, but the rest of the house is echoing wood floors and walls that need painting.

The painter comes next week. Money? Eck. Money is just numbers on a page that always seem to go down, never up.

My computer is an overpriced paving brick at this point. Yeah, it works, but the hard drive is going and it took two visits of 2 hours each to two different computer gurus to have them tell me that "it won't connect to the internet". Then there was something with deleting windows entirely and restarting from scratch,that might solve the problem, but I would lose all my software, yadda yadda. Expensive inconvenient, and with the hard drive going as well, what's the point?

Dad, Dave, you may start gloating now, because I'm gettin' an iBook. Yep, this windows girl is going Mac. Look for me at a Starbucks near you blogging and getting hyped on overly sweet coffees starting next week.

The past couple of days have been all about heavy lifting, trimming bushes, reseeding the front yard and nightly complaining about how badly my body hurts after all that work. DAMN I forgot how much yard work can hurt. I've still got alot more landscaping to do, plus a half assed fixing of some floors and myriad other bits and pieces. But it's really nice to have a project (or 20). And it's also interesting how much I don't miss Norway. Yeah, I miss the hubby, of course, quite a bit, but except for him I could just not go back at all and get some furniture at Goodwill or something and live fine here. (Well, I do miss some of my clothes.) I just feel so alive and competent here. And warm......