Sunday, December 31, 2006

I'm an Old Timer......

You know you may have been living in Austin a little too long if:*

When you hear GM, you think of the old greasy spoon/steakhouse chain, not the auto manufacturer.

You think the bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge are swell, but you miss the downtown cricket infestations of the late '70s.

You try to remember to call it Cesar Chavez, but you just can't stop calling it First Street.

You were here in Austin when beer joints outnumbered nail salons.

You know at least two dozen people who can tell you what they were doing when Charles Whitman started shooting.

It may be Academy to everybody else, but to you it's still Academy Surplus.

You were here when the hippies stopped picking on developer Gary Bradley so they could pick on developer Jim Bob Moffett.

You still miss the chicken-fried steak at Truck City on Ben White Boulevard.

Whenever some yuppie honks in traffic, you mutter, "Must have just moved here from New Jersey."

You can remember when instead of labeling them condominiums, they just called them apartments. You know the difference between a condo and an apartment? About $500,000.

You can remember when all the hippies in town were carping about the South Texas Nuclear Project instead of carping about toll roads.

You can remember when you could actually get into Austin City Limits without knowing some bigshot like Michael Dell.

You still think that 52nd Street is halfway to Dallas.

You can remember when the Warehouse District actually had a few warehouses.

You can remember when Williamson County didn't have a law and order reputation because there was nobody there for the cops to stop but a few farmers.

You were around when the richest guy living in the 78704 ZIP code was probably some dude who had a regular job with the state.

You can recall people who weren't connected with the rodeo wearing cowboy hats downtown.

You were here when you could actually find a parking spot on Congress Avenue without circling the block three or four times.

You remember when you could see the Capitol while standing downtown on the ground flat-footed.

You can remember when people were arguing over the Edwards Aquifer instead of the location of the next Wal-Mart.

You can remember when Bee Cave Road was so far out in the country that you had to pack a lunch.

You were around when the biggest ham in town was Willie Kocurek instead of Marc Katz.

You really don't care about the loss of the Armadillo World Headquarters anymore because you can't stay awake that late these days anyway.

You were around back before they invented the chicken fajita, which you still think is pretty silly, since there's no such thing as a chicken fajita.

You can remember a day when nobody could name the tallest building downtown, because none of them were all that tall.

*Article by John Kelso that I cut and pasted from the Austin American Statesman. Damn it's so true.....

Friday, December 29, 2006

3 days're you?

Woo! I like Tallinn! I've done nothing but drink, eat and walk for three days. Woo! I'm fat, happy and have muscular calves.

So yesterday we found this cool little wine shop in a 14th century building. The owner was a fairly young guy whose "hobby" was wine, so he opened a wine shop. He had a couple of tables in there, wedged into this tiny shop filled with shelf upon shelf of wine, and offered wines by the glass. He also offered great conversation. What a charmer! We had a few glasses of vino each, and ended up talking to him for a couple hours. He also gave us some rather large samples of champagne..yum! We bought some bottles of it from him....I would always rather buy from a person who not only enjoys what they sell but also enjoys people. If you ever go to Tallinn, go to In Vino Veritas, and have a glass of wine and a chat with Michael, the owner. You won't be disappointed.

After that we had dinner reservations at an Italian place called Controvento. It was in a 14th century warehouse. (Notice a trend?) OHMYFUGGINGGOD I had the best steak I have ever had there. A really nice filet in a mushroom sauce...holy crap it was good. Washed it down with more wine. Yummy yummy wine...numm.....

So today it was a bit hard getting up, but we managed. We went first to the Kadriog park, where there is a palace built by Peter the Great for his mistress, a slave of war who got traded around as war booty until she ended up married to him and crowned as Queen Katherine. The palace there was not too large, rather cozy and lovely, and had a great collection of art from countries other than Estonia. Some nice Dutch artists and a decent collection of portraits. We wandered around the park briefly but it was too cold, so we headed back into town guessed it...more food and drink. This time courtesy of the Olde Hansa, a medieval theme restaurant in a 14th century warehouse that is the be all and end all of tourist places, but actually manages to be authentic, charming, tasty and fun. The decor is phenomenal, the toilets were a hoot (I took pics, but you have to wait as I can't upload from this computer) the food was good and the whole place was lit by candlelight only. Gorgeous. For the boys, there's comely wenches galore, for the girls, there's boys in tights....what's not to love?

Tallinn is seriously one of the most gorgeous olde worlde townes I have ever seen...and did I mention the beer and the food?

Two local beers are widely available: Saku and A le Coq. They both have a good variety of flavors, my favorite always being the darker versions. At this one pub we went to, Hell Hunt, they also have a great selection of beers from Europe, all the ones I like including the Czech ones (Krusovice), Belgian wheat beers (Hooegarden) and similar yumminess. None go for more than $4 a pint.

There are lots of other good pubs, too....and believe me we hit as many as we could.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

greetings from Tallinn, Estonia

If you are like me, you probably don't know much about the smaller of the formerly Soviet states. I still don't, actually but CAN tell you that Tallinn is gorgeous. Well, at least the old city is gorgeous. The rest of it is sort of 'eh', at least what I have seen.

The Old City is exactly what you imagine as a medieval city...houses with tall peaked roofs, pointy fronts, arched doorways and thick wooden doors. Cobbled streets meander in strange angles and the houses butt right up to them. The houses are all washed in soft colors and their walls are bumpy with the hint of stones and wood underneath the color. As it gets dark here as early if not earlier than in Norway, the candles are out in full force, and everything twinkles with the lovely just after Christmas glow.

It's ass cold and everyone and I do mean everyone is wearing hooded parkas, including, luckily, me. I like walking around in what is essentially a duvet. It's cozy. It's no colder than where we arrived from, so the cold does not bother me at all.

Laast night we went to a place called the Beer House and Big beers. Lots of beers, all yummy. (Note to Lee...nyah nyah, they had really good unpasteurized beer in 1 litre sizes, nyah nyah!) We ate at a restaurant situated in the bottom of an ancient Dominican monastery (1246 it was built) and the food was GOOD and cheap and the servers were all lovely and very very freindly. It was a local hangout, and so very good.

OK, Rich is giving me the evil eye that says "Get off the damned computer and get going" so I better go. If he doesn't get his breakfast he can be a real grump.....

Hopefully I can upload pictures some great shots of the main square at night...with the moon and everything!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Xmas post-facto

The big day is over. Today is the 26th. In the US that would be a big shopping day. In fact, last year, when I worked at a mall shop in Austin, the day after Christmas was GRUELING as it was SO much busier than the days BEFORE Christmas. I thought I would DIE.

But here? Shops are still closed. So, that's the 24th, 25th, and 26th where nothing was open. It seems unimaginable if you aren't in it, nothing being open? But when you are in it, it's's like, three days where you CAN'T do anything so you DON'T.

So we've done a whole lotta nuthin'. 'Xcept eatin'. Turkey, 7 layer dip, roasted veggies, ham, more veggies, salad, strawberry shortcake, pumpkin soup, homemade boller (I need some practice on those, they are not as light as the ones I buy). Etc. Alot of food over three days. Plus I splurged on a really nice bottle of Amarone Tommassi...the best wine I ever had was a bottle of Amarone Tommassi and I ADORE that wine. Sort of expensive though, so definitely a special occasion sort of thing.

Rich did good for me this year, Christmas wise. I don't think it's any surprise that he is a typical guy when it comes to present-giving. Usually he manages to not get anything for the day, and after I pout, he pulls something out, like, a week later. Something I circle, like, five times in a catalogue or whatnot. (And please note, boys: To most women, it's NOT the gift, it's the THOUGHT. The idea that he spent time thinking about me and what I like, that's what's important to me, and why I am upset when I get bubkus.)

This year he redeemed himself royally. (He did try really hard to say we'd get each other something in Tallinn, where we go this week, but I ix-nayed that idea.) He got me some good smelling bath salts, and a cute jokey travel pack of items from Dirty Girl, and a really cool basalt Buddha head (we collect them, now, it seems) AND he got me the coolest speakers for my iPod. They are rechargeable, or they can be plugged in, and they sound really good and they are small enough to be totally portable as well. By Logitech...they ROCK. So now I can jam w/ the Pod sans earplugs! Woo! What really makes me happy is that he THOUGHT about it, and totally scored. He's SO set a precedent for future years.....

Oh, and fyi? Rich just went down to storage and got out the suitcase he planned to use? Yeah...don't EVER buy luggage from WalMart. This is the THIRD suitcase that we have had fall apart from there. And I don't mean old suitcases, or roughly used ones...I mean ones that are less than one year old, that just exploded into sharp bits of plastic and torn fabric. I used to get them there, cheap, to bring back stuff I bought in the States, but NO MORE. Now, if I need one, which I seem to do to replace the crap from WalMart, I get decent luggage, and have found that TJ Mazz has awesome luggage at great prices. Sure, more than Walmart, but I'd rather spend $80 on a suitcase and use it alot than spend $40 on one and use it once. By the time you replace it with another cheapie, you've spent the $80 you would have on the good luggage.

Trust me on this...don't go the cheap route on luggage. Gah.

I'll report from Tallinn later this week....

Monday, December 25, 2006

Advertising works

You have got to watch this ad. It's for a men's cologne called AXE (well, here in Norway it's called AXE, in other places it's called Lynx, apparently). Whenever this ad comes on, any man in the room stops whatever he is doing, freezes his eyes onto the TV and is completely still for a minute. When the ad is over, he sighs and goes back to whatever he's doing....with visions of bouncing breasts dancing in his head.

Of course, I got the cologne for Rich for Christmas. I mean, might as well be supportive of his hopes and dreams, no matter how far fetched....

God Jul!

God Jul!

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas!

Froehliche Weihnachten und ein gutes Neues Jahr

With love from The Texpatriate

*This photo is from King's Road London. It was outside a pizza place. He was not fully inflated and so he sort of looked down on everyone walking beneath him on the sidewalk...I liked him. Poor, deflated, friendly Santa.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I bet in the US there's lots of traffic as everyone runs around like mad things trying to do their last minute shopping. Traffic and commerce and stress.....

Here? Quiet. Quiet as anything. Everything closed by about 6 yesterday. NOTHING is open, and won't be until the 26th or the 27th, and the streets are empty. This morning I didn't hear a car go by on what is normally a very busy road for over an hour. We went for a walk this afternoon, and nobody was about, except for people going for walks and people going to church. The church was hopping; I think we went by right about time for the service. Like many Americans, most Norwegians only go to church at Christmas and Easter. Many people were visiting the graves of lost loved ones, carrying candles and small lanterns and pine boughs to place on the graves. A lot of women wore their bunads (traditional Norewegian dresses). They are so lovely, and I would love to have one, but they are decorated according to their regional differences, and I can't decide on what region I would get, as they are all so lovely. They are also crashingly expensive, they can cost upwards of $10,000. Which means the probability of my getting one is not high....

Some sort of wierd warm front came though last night and it was 10 degrees celcius here this morning. It cooled off as the day progressed, but this weather is just very strange. I didn't wear a coat on our walk, just a heavy sweater. Some of the fields are green and fresh looking, and there were buds on some of the bushes. I read the Austin paper online and they were saying it might freeze or snow's like winter got turned upside down.

I have mixed up my boller dough and am waiting for it to rise. It was a lot stickier than I thought it would be, when I was kneading it....I didn't knead for long because it all just stuck to me. I'm just not a baker, I prefer to cook. Well, we'll see what happens.

We got an extra minute of daylight today. I think I really felt it....not.


I've laid myself a little challenge this Christmas.

I am going to cook everyday, that is the 23rd, 24th, 25th AND 26th, all from scratch. I have a menu sketchily planned out and our fridge is fuller than it's ever been. (And please note it is a HUGE fridge by any standard. It's a corner fridge, and you can walk into it, it's so big. That also means it damned expensive to fill!)

Last night I made carrot coriander soup . It was damned good, I like the recipe alot. The orange juice kicked the soup into high gear and made it that extra bit flavorful. I used creme fraiche instead of just cream as a garnish. YUM! With it I made grilled cheese (gouda) sandwiches. Rich had wanted chicken noodle soup, but that broke the rules of my self imposed cook from scratch contest.

Tonight is ham basted with honey served with, as they call them here, gratinated potatoes, and asparagus. For dessert Rich's favorite strawberry shortcake. OK, so I use Bisquick for the cake, but it's his favorite and I cannot mess with a favorite.

I am also going to make boller from scratch. I've never backed with yeast before, so please, if you hear of a strange baking accident in Southern Norway, where a building is blown out from a yeast raising incident, raise your glass and toast to me, ok? I'll be trying to dig out from the dough.

Tomorrow night will be turkey and the trimmin's. I got a 1.75 kilo turkey breast. Cost a bomb, but hopefully it will turn out ok.

Tuesday? Not sure....probably something of a Mexican nature.

Right now? Drinking coffee made with a coffee press. It's just as easy to make coffee this way as it is to use Nescafe, and it's even easier than using a drip coffee maker, but it's WAY better.....Nummy num num.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

yet more christmas insanity and a pleasant surprise.

It still hasn't snowed here. But it's been very humid and foggy, so the trees and all the available surfaces have a good covering of hoarfrost , so it looks like it snowed, kind of. This morning was very foggy.

But then it cleared up.

The frost is damned slippery though and I almost ate it like 12 times today. You can't see that the ground is slippery, but oh my oh my it is slipperier than a greased pig. And, to continue the colorful expressions, I've been busier than a one armed paper hanger in a windstorm today. So I've done alot of walkin' and slippin'.

I had to do the big Christmas grocery shop today. So did the rest of Norway. All of us packed into the one Ultra grocery store, and everyone with big carts, all trying to get past that damned bottleneck in the frozen foods aisle. Maybe, just MAYBE, it's a good idea to NOT put up the giant animated scary talking ho ho ho-ing Santa Claus right in the middle of the frozen foods on the busiest shopping day of the year? I dunno, just an idea. Arg. He hit me with his big animated meaty waving arm when I got stuck standing under him. I almost punched him.

Anyhow, I pushed on through and got my turkey breast for $12 a pound. (I could have had a whole turkey for cheaper, but did not WANT a whole turkey, not for two of us. I did that LAST Christmas and had so much leftover turkey I could still be eating it NOW if I wanted to.) I also got a Juleskinke (a ham) and sundry other items that all ended up costing an assload more than I expected. But what the hell it's Christmas and I finally got into the spirit of the beknighted thing, like, TODAY. I even bought a tiny little cypress tree to be a Christmas tree slash outdoor plant. It's cute. And soft and furry. I just like to pet it.

The surprising thing At the Ultra? They had BAGGERS. Yes, a person who took my things and placed them in bags FOR ME. I could have DIED I was so thrilled. I told the young man (yes, I use terms like "young man" now that I am old) that there are people who do this for a living in the US and he didn't really believe me. Then, when I told him that the baggers will also take your items to your car for you, he was verily blown away. See, a cultural exchange, right there at the overpriced grocery store. He did a GREAT job bagging by the way. Nothing squooshed, nothing mashed, all as it should be. You Weegies sure are taught good bagging skills at an early age!

Anyhow, here is a picture of what is passing for Christmas decor Chez Texpatriate this year. We are fairly minimal, though I do have alot of tree decorations from past years. This year, though, it's just us and a house with alot of red accents.

And, thank effing god, it's the winter solstice, which means the days from here on out get longer. It'll still get dark really early for a while, but each day we gain light, and that is heartening. We all wait for Christmas not only for the holiday, but also because we know the darkness has reached its end......

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

crazy guy on train and randomness

There was a really scary guy on the train this morning. I mean, I know I am the crazy emotional lady, but he was the scary helter-skelter serial killer guy. He just STARED at me with these piercing eyes....made worse by the fact that his seat faced mine, so I couldn't avoid his stare unless I focussed on just looking out the window. Oy he wigged me out.

So that was wierd.

Work is wierd too. It's like we are all crazy busy but we are just losing energy going into the holidays. It just does not feel like Christmas. No snow (and HAHA I can't believe I am saying THAT as a Texan, but here it's just not Christmas if there's no snow) and no let up at work. I mean, when you are dealing with the rest of the world, the majority of which really does not celebrate Christmas, nothing stops, they just get annoyed when you don't get back to them as usual. Plus I was kind of bummed today when they went around with all the company Christmas gifts for everyone...and I did not get one. I know I'm contract and everything, but I've been there for 6 months or so, and I feel like the nerd kid who didn't get invited to the party. Sigh. Even if it is a lame roll on travel bag. Sigh.

So that's wierd.

And then I went to the grocery store by the flat today and they did not have any chicken or hams. Which annoyed me no end. I mean, those are sort of basic items, are they not?

So that was wierd.

And today, I decided, that I am tired of all the words for female nether parts and so I am going to rename them. From here on out, I propose that the female bits get called Milton. I've heard the word puussy and c*nt too many times, not to mention twat, and I just think Milton is a much more cozy sort of word. Warm and fuzzy, as it were.....

So pass it around. Milton. I mean, how could anyone be afraid of a Milton?

So, that's today's randomness.

Yeah, so that was wierd.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

crazy lady on the train

Yesterday I downloaded a Wanda Sykes album off iTunes. I listened to it on the train and during some errands today. She's so frigging funny I kept busting out laughing. I mean, that woman is HILARIOUS. People were looking at me like I was crazy while I snorted and giggled and guffawed. (I have always loved the word guffaw and am very pleased to have used it just now.)

Then a David Bowie song came on that Karla May said reminded her of me called "Everyone Says Hi". It's about someone moving away and, well, everyone says hi. That song made me sad and so I got teary eyed.

And so there I am, in the space of like 5 minutes, going from busting out laughing to almost crying, and I'm all alone. On a train. No wonder no one ever sits next to me. I'm insane.

I might have to ban myself from listening to the iPod while on the train. It's too emotional.

Monday, December 18, 2006

worst Christmas ornaments ever.

My friend Jennifer (one of three, this one is the musician one) has posted some pictures of absolutely heinous Christmas ornaments.

Obviously you can see the level of humor me and my friends enjoy.

My fave? The treetopper....I love that.

Have any you want to share?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Northern Aquavit? Hell yeah.

So...bad news....I didn't see the northern lights. Nota hint, not a sign, not a mere wisp. Nada, nuthin. It was a clear and cold night, but there weren't nuthin' happening of a magnetic, light show, freaky sort of nature. I checked. Muchly.


I DID, however, get to join in on a true, real, honest to God traditional Norwegian Julebord, and it was an awful lot of fun.

Our building's yearly Julebord is a joint effort, coordinated by the building committee and joined in by the whole residency. We all sign up for something to bring and gather at one person's flat for pre-drinks and another for the dinner. So we had martinis at this one woman's flat (gin! Ack! I haven't had gin since hurt me badly) as an apertif and hung out there for an hour, then up to the other flat (our neighbors across the way) for the dinner.

If you didn't know already, when Norwegians gather for a party, they PARTY. So after the gin (ACK!) we had wine, beer, aquavit and cognac. Oh, yeah, and for food? Let's see...there was pinekjott, sausage, sausage, mashed turnips (yum! my first time and they were good!), potatoes, and some other stuff. I brought a dessert, chocolate cake from a very traditional Southern American recipe. I think it confused everyone by its very chocolatyness (and the pound of butter it calls for) but they all ate it and seemed to like it. Hey, it's chocolate, not many people turn down warm gooey chocolate.....

The closest I can describe pinekjott is lamb spareribs. It's a very traditional Norwegian holiday fare, and pretty good. Thankfully, lutefisk was not on the menu....I smelled it once and know I could not ever eat it. There are some traditional Norwegian foods that I am pretty sure you just have to grow up with in order to like...luckily pinekjott is not one of them.

Anyhow we chowed on the food and our host poured me generous amounts of aquavit, which, luckily I also like. I generally tend to like any herb liquor...ramazotti, aquavit, slivovice, schnapps,etc. You are supposed to drink aquavit with most traditional Norwegian meals, as the food is fairly heavy and can be greasy, so the liquor is supposed to cut the grease and help your tummy along. In the old days it also protected against food poisoning by killing any bad germs. The Aquavit went down easily, as did the wine and the beer.

Everyone there was very nice about using English when they thought we might need a little extra help, but I acquitted my self fairly well with my Norwegian, even joining in some word games and such. Rich did well, too, and managed to use the one word he knows well, "Takk!" as his word in the alphabetical word game, getting a big laugh at his short, yet precise answer.

In between all this hilarity, I did manage to drink some water and take a few breaks with the booze, and so am proud to say I am not hurting much today. It might get me a little later (I get delayed onset hangovers now, they hit around 2pm) but I think i've escaped it for the most part.

So, I may have missed out on the northern lights, but it does not mean I had a dark night, by any stretch of the imagination.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

northern lights?

I've been told that tonight there will be a very good chance to see the northern lights. Like, the best chance this far south in Norway in 20 years. Woo! They were seen just the other night as well, though I missed them then.
Apparently this new visibility is caused by a confluence of things, including the movement of the North Pole farther that the northern lights will become more frequently visible in the coming years as they follow the magnetic poles. I'm just quoting what folks have told me.

The sky is supposed to be clear. I'm charging my camera batteries. We have a party tonight, but it's at the neighbor's across the hall, so if I DO see something, I can run over and get my camera and start snapping away.

Keep your fingers crossed that I see them and can get you some pictures, ok? I think I would feel like I missed out on a life experience if I lived in Norway for over 4 years and NEVER got to see the northern lights.

Friday, December 15, 2006

six freaks over Texas

As already done by Jaye, La Turista and Karla May, I hereby present Six Freaky Things About Myself.

1) I have Sneeze Hairs. One on my right eyebrow and one on the left front of my head, just above my temple. If you pull those individual hairs just right, I will sneeze. Just bust out and sneeze. Someitmes I pull 'em just for funnsies, because I *like* to sneeze. (That's almost a freak and a half, if you ask me.)

2) I am more concerned with texture than taste as far as food is concerned. No cooked fruit, no smooth with lumps, no "mealy" fresh fruit (it needs to be underripe and crunchy), no slimey anything or things in aspic. Yoghurt I will eat if I can stir it round and have a good look at it. No chowders or anything like that. (For that matter, seafood can be really risky for me in general. See number three.) I just don't trust food with lumps that I can't identify.

3) I have a stark fear of anything with more than four legs (and bird feet. Hate bird feet.) This means no crustaceans, insects, spiders or anything with an exoskeleton. I do eat shrimp, but only because I've been eating those since before I could associate fear with them....but don't give them to me with heads or I run away. Oddly enough, I am NOT afraid of snakes.

4) I have oddly strong and long toes, and used to be able to hold a beer with them, while seated, and then drink from it. This was in college. I don't do it anymore. It's not ladylike. I can still pinch with my toes, to the point that it can cause a bruise. Pinchy Toes is a thing to be feared in my family.

5) I have almost perfect color recall and can match colors by memory. This comes in handy when doing paint colors. I also do not need to measure things to recall length. This used to piss off one of my bosses when I did visual merchandising because she would spend all this time measuring walls and marking down measurements, and I could just eyeball it and get it right every time. She never did believe that I did not measure...she thought I lied about it. It sure saves me time arranging furniture and hanging pictures. I can just look at something and tell you if it's right.

6) I never make "to do" lists and even though I've tried keeping a calendar, it never really gelled with me and felt slightly pretentious. I prefer to just remember my appointments and lists of things to do. A written list is just one more thing I have to keep track of. Anyhow, I can fairly honestly state that I always manage to show up for whatever I've appointed myself for on time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

pictures..because right now words are too hard.

I'm totally tired and am going to veg, work is killing me. So for your entertainment, I picked some fairly random pics from the archives and posted them. Enjoy please.

Me on a pedestal at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin. That is my favorite skirt currently, but it's too cold for me to wear it now.

A view of the rooftops around Trafalgar Square, London. Taken from the fabulous restaurant at the top of the National Portrait Gallery. It's a tad expensive, but the food is great and the views of London are unique.

Er...I think this is a little street cart in Luang Prabang, Laos.
My eyeballs.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

things I was going to write about....

I had a whole mental write-up of what I was going to blog this morning when I was on the train. I should probably bring my computer and do little mini-posts in something like Word and then save it for posting later. But I never do that and so all the clever things I think of to write just disappear into the ether of my brain.

It included the guy waiting for the train wearing a Santa hat and drinking a beer (at 9:30am...Bad Santa?) and the lady sitting next to me wearing the most amazing pair of shoes from circa 1978...complete with that wierd Brazilian leather we always used to wear and HUGE brown wedge heels. Round toes...70's swooshy decor molded into the ghetto-fab squashy plastic heels.

Then I got to work and forgot all about blogging as it has been non-stop- balls- to- the- wall- don't- even- have- time- to- pee craziness. This is made harder by the fact that I don't have a phone yet in my office and everyone is like "please all me ASAP!" and I have to either run down to their office or find an office with a phone and then make the calls. Plus the printer is also a floor down, so that makes things aerobic as well. I am getting plenty of stair time and am dropping weight like crazy just trying to keep up. I ate a boller and two mini Twix snacky bars today. Oy.

So today I just worked and worked and never got away from the computer....except when I was StairMastering. I got alot done but I am not even near to digging myself out of the shit pile. I almost got sent to Trondheim to courier one guy's passport to him...things are just insane and we are to the point where even FedEx is not fast enough.

However, this is all making me sleep really well and last night I slept like a ROCK. I didn't even hear the alarm this morning and only woke up when Rich yelled "Bye!" this morning. (His way of also saying "wake the fuck up lazy bones!".)

Now I'm at home after working late. Late in Norway is 5:30. I picked up a couple of chicken schwarmas for dinnner (cook? tonight? don't think so) and the Simpsons is on.

Right now Friday is looking good. I can go the pub, have my biffsnadder (slso known as Norwegian Trucker food, it's just sauteed beef strips with fries and bearnaise sauce, but it's addictive and yummy as hell) and a beer or two and chill out with the boys.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

working stiff.....

I'm back at work. It's pretty cool. I'm glad to be there. I was apparently mightily missed (mainly because I do a bunch of stuff no one else has time or patience for) and everyone is glad to see me. The project I was working on before I left has not gotten near as far as I hoped it would while I was gone (no one's fault except massive bureaucracy in India) and so I am diving back in to a pile of shit so deep I wonder if I will ever get out.

But, they moved my office, and I got a sweet one a floor up. The whole floor has been renovated and it looks really nice. All cool greys and hip looking brightly colored modernist furniture. My office is WAY better, even the light, and there is a microwave (yeay!) so I can now indulge in things to eat for lunch that are not only cookable with hot water. No more "cup o's" for me!

The only problem is that the whole office upstairs is all wood floors and anyone wearing shoes other than sneakers gets really noisy. You can hear everyone coming for miles. I wore my cowboy boots today and I sure clunked around authoritatively. Course, this also means I hear if anyone comes to my office and so can wake up from my nap if need be. (Kidding! I kid. I actually really like my job and the people I work with. It's very much a place where you are left to your own responsibility and no one watches over your shoulder, which I personally can't stand. As long as you get your stuff done, they don't care when or how you do it. Rock on!))

I'm still not back on my sleep game. But it seems no one else is, either. We all just want to be in bed all day but at night the sleep won't come. It's very tiresome. Huh huh.

It's 4:45 now and pitch black outside. I am counting the days til the 22nd, when the darkness trend reverses and the days grow 2-3 minutes longer each day. Just ten days that's an extra half hour of light!

Lest you think that I've gotten boring, or have abandoned traveling, never ye fear. We go to Tallin, Estonia, after Christmas. No, I don't know anything about Tallin, either.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Two Fridays

Last Friday:

I was in Houston. A cold front had come through and it was cold for Houston, in the 40's. But sunny and clear. I met up with my friend Anne in the evening and we checked out the First Friday shopping festivities in her part of town, the Heights. Bands were playing funky Texas music outside all the shops, there were line dancers and face painters, there were Santas everywhere (and of every color) and all the shops were handing out food and wine. I got some cute Christmas cards and we tried on some really great clothes. It's nice to have a freind like Anne, who, though I may not see her for a year, it's like we never had any time apart when we DO get together. She's so great.
After that, we headed downtown where we met up with a bunch of girls for a girl's night out. My dear friend, lately of Norway, Julia, was there and she looked beautiful as always. I had the somewhat pleasurable, somewhat frustrating experience of not being able to eat my food due to my late food poisoning. I actually heard the words "Karla, you MUST eat or you will waste away" directed at me. That is a first. Nobody says that to me! I did have a nice glass of wine with my non-meal.
I had an early night that night, headed back to my brother's by about 10:30, and got ready to fly back to Norway the next day.

This Friday (last night):
Rich stayed late at work for his Annual Get Drunk And Puke Work Party. (I hate that party. Everyone stays late at the office, wives are NOT invited. The guys get drunk like nobody's business because offering free alcohol in Norway is like offering free Playstation 3's at a's gonna get crazy. Then all us wives, who are left at home, get to have these stinking drunk husbands coming home from a party we weren't even allowed to join. Grrr....but now I tell him that it's sofa time for him when this party comes around, I don't want to be awakened at 2 am from my restful slumber by a lumbering drunk man. So, there.)
Anyhow, the husband was off imbibing with the work blokes. I was at home in my jammies, enjoying a quiet vicodine for cramps and attempting to watch TV. Our cable box is on the blink and for some reason it just turns itself off after about an hour of TV watching. What pisses me off is its talent for clicking off just at the end of the movie I'm watching, in this case "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", which I had never seen in its entirely and still, unfortunately, haven't, thanks to the cable box. Once it turns off, you have to unplug it and let it sit for a while before trying again. this is seriously putting a dent in the tv watching experience. You never know when it's gonna quit working. So you can never get comfortable. I gave up on the TV and watched "The Notorious Bettie Page", which was pretty good. I am sure most guys would LOVE it as there is enough cheesecake and nekkid chicks in there to fuel most guys' fantasies for weeks. Gretchen Mol looks BETTER than the real Bettie Page. She was really good in the part.
I spent the early evening making chicken stock from leftover chicken bones from the night before. The pain pill and the hormones also gave me a craving for chocolate, so made brownies as well. Me so domestic! I forgot to make dinner, though, and ended up eating brownies and some "faux cheetos" that are actually better than the real American cheetos. "Krizpy Cheez Kruncherz". They smell like ass, but taste great. (Hey! Great slogan!)
I fell asleep in the "comfy chair" by 9pm. I crawled into bed and watched a couple of episodes of "My Name is Earl" on the bedroom TV before giving up and turning off the lights. I love everything about that show....the premise is brilliant, there is always a sweet little lesson, and just enough naughty humor that I snort at least once an episode. And hello...Jamie Pressley? How fucking awesome is she?

So there you have it, two Fridays, one week and two continents apart.

Friday, December 08, 2006


That was a seriously good chicken yesterday. So easy and yet so good.

And now I am boiling that sucker into a nice chicken stock.

I'm gonna go back to work starting Monday. They need me, it seems. Can't do without me.

Mostly because nobody else WANTS to do what I was doing. Sigh.

I can't believe I was in Texas merely one week ago. Where does the time go?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The $17 chicken

I seriously splurged on a 3lb chicken today. It's not the highest quality, organic one (that would have cost more like $35) but it's a nice little fat beast anyhow. And I am gonna roast that sucker up using that French Laundry technique I first read about in Jaye's blog. Seems simple enough...salt it and roast the hell out of it. No basting, nothing.

Of course, I will be economical and use the leftovers to make a chicken stock. No sense wasting good boner...uh, I mean bones.

As my Dad always says, when something tastes good: Mumph mumph.

Though, after reading this in today's Aftenposten, my appetite has sort of, that's just all KINDS of gross.

I join Mags in hearty disgust.

So, Christopher Hitchens writes an article in Vanity Fair that women aren't funny.

A bigger load of bullshit I have never read. He posits that women aren't funny because they don't need to be. That there is no reason for us to be and no payoff, because, basically, we've got "other attributes" (read: tits). He also goes on to say that we are better than men at finding what is "not funny". Huh? Maybe we are more subtle about it and don't always think a fart is fall over funny (though, admittedly, 9 times out of 10 I do...).

The funniest people in my life are women. When I laugh hard, it's with the goils.

My friend Lesley, here in Norway, routinely has me snorting wine out my nose. Karla May has me laughing so hard I can't breathe. Mags is one of the funniest I've ever known, both in person and in word. Drunk OR sober. My mom? Goofball extraordinaire. My friend Anne in Houston? Surrealist pun humor at its best.

I am a loyal reader of Vanity Fair, but this is a total piece of crap and I hope he is VILLIFIED by VF's largely FEMALE and liberal audience.....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

good deed girl

Well, today I totally racked up karmic points. I figure, tomorrow I can go eat a baby or something, because today I covered my ass like nobody's business. I was Official Miss Nice Gal today.

First, I helped my friend Tony get his dogs from the cargo shipper today. See, he and his family (wife, daughter, pets) are moving here from Austin and the dogs got shipped ahead while his wife finishes the packing and selling of the house. He needed help collecting the dogs because they had to be shipped in their dog crates and he was worried hat he could not manage dogs and crates and all the subsequent worries. (Plus, brave man, he rented a van from Rent A Wreck as his first driving foray in Norway, and that has GOT to be nervewracking driving something like that for the first time in a new country? When you still don't know how to get around all the well? And all the signs and roads and rules and stuff are new? Oy. But he did a great job.....)

Anyhow, he said the dogs were big. His wife said the dogs were big. I am used to big dogs, so hey, I mean, how big can they be?

He didn't say they were BIG. Seamus, the boy dog, is THE BIGGEST dog I have ever seen. The crate that Seamus came off the flight in was the size of my first Honda. Seriously. Big. The second dog, Tosca, is also a big dog but compared to Seamus she is pretty normal. But still big. Two very big, very furry dogs. Holy crap. They've rented a nice apartment in Oslo, a good sized place in a really cute area. Once I saw those dogs in that apartment,, they are gonna be a close family. Luckily the dogs seem fairly well behaved and definitely sweet. Tony was really happy to have them with him again.

But helping out with the big dogs was not the only thing I did today that gives me the karmic high five.......

The train back from Oslo was packed. Everyone bundled on like a bunch of cattle going to market. Moo...Anyhow, I managed to snag a seat in a row with all these big guys. Just as I settled in, however, I noticed an elderly lady standing in the doorway, looking around for a seat with a look in her eye that sort of told me she needed one. I had just sat down, as had all the men around me.....and not one of the men got up. NOT ONE. Bastards. Even though they saw her. Even with the new ad campaign to educate on politeness on the train? So, I got up and offered her my seat. She BEAMED at me, said a profuse thank you, and sat down. I went and stood in the entry area, not far away, and read my book for the trip home.

The lady smiled at me the whole time. Just the sweetest smile. You'd think I was Santa Claus or something. As we reached our destination (she was getting off at the same place as me) she again thanked me profusely, and I answered in my American accent, "You are most welcome. Happy to help". She said, "Oh! American! That's why you are so nice!"

Score one for the red white and blue, I did......

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

DANGIT! also, DVD-palooza

I got up at noon today.

I HATE that. The darkness outside coupled with the sleeplessness and me getting up at 3 am for a cup of tea and then going back to bed and then not waking up again until noon....HATE IT. Day wasted already.


Anyhow, to keep me entertained during this time of hibernation, I brought back the following DVD's:

My Name is Earl, season one
Scrubs, Season 4
The Office (American version), seasons 1 & 2
Six Feet Under, season 5 (been DYING for that one)
How I Met Your Mother, season 1 (no idea, looked cute)
The Libertine**
The Notorious Bettie Page
Ghostbusters 1&2 (I know, I KNOW!)

If you think I am bad, Rich completely geeked out and got the Star Trek Geek Box (the original Star Trek in those plastic lunch box looking containers?), all the BattleStar Galactica he could get his hands on, Star Wars 1-3 (and by "1-3" I mean the REAL ones where each dvd has the original movie theatre version we all love as well as the fucked up later Luca-vision version), The Fifth Element, The Day After Tomorrow, Dune and a bunch of other sci fi stuff. (Dude, he IS a geek! Oh my GOD!)

So please excuse me as I warm up my remote finger and get going on the first of my series, "My Name is Earl".

No, Grant, you can't borrow them til we are neither, Jennifer LL!

***If you have not seen "The Libertine", just get up, go get it somewhere, and watch it. It is the single most riveting performance of Johnny Depp's I have ever seen. He is a brilliant, flawed, intense, depraved character and you cannot take your eyes off him. AND if the very first scene in the movie does not give you a warmth in your nether regions, just him talking, and I don't care WHAT sex you are, you ain't got no genitals. Aw yeah, Johnny, I'm up for it too......

Monday, December 04, 2006

lag of the jet

I'm back in Norway. I'm tired. It's already dark outside, and it's only 3:45 pm. The flight yesterday wasn't horrible, as the jetstream made it very quick, but it was fully and I do mean FULLY booked on both flights. So that sort of sucked. As did the fact that the flight attendants on Continental are the snippiest most wise-ass attendants on any airline EVER. And as I fly Continental fairly often, I know of what I speak. They obviously train them that it's ok to say any old thing to the passengers, that we are all idiots and cattle and so are to be treated as such, and they (the attendants) are obviously there for THEIR enjoyment and not ours. I am seriously considering not using (In)Continental anymore as I am really getting tired of the attitude.
One woman at check in gave me a lecture on why, even though all the airport signs said to use Terminal C for Continental travel, I actually needed Terminal E. She said this first thing as I walked up, didn't even say hello. Just started telling me what I did wrong. When I said that every sign said diffferent, she started in on me, saying in a didactic and very off putting voice, "Well, do you want your luggage to come to your end destination or to end up staying in Newark? If you want to have your luggage end up with you, use Terminal E". I had just had a teary eyed goodbye with my brother (my tears, his big hug) and told her that I really did not need her to treat me as if I had done something wrong when I was just following the posted airport signs, and she told me that I should be better informed next time and if I was really a frequent flyer, I should know better. Then she pointed at the machine and said, "Use that to check in" and just stood there staring at me. No offer of assistance or anything. Just lectures. Can you believe that bitch? I was furious. When I get furious unfortunately, I also get teary eyed, so that adds embarrassment to the whole thing. Luckily she had the sense to go somewhere else and another woman finished my check in process. Because I was about to open a can of whoop ass, like, seriously.

I'm also really surprised to be blogging right now, as I switched over to blogger beta today and UTTERLY fucked up the process. I thought my blog was gone forever.

But it's not! It's here! I can access it! I still have a viable internet presence!

Those 12 panicked "help me help me NOW!' emails I sent to google must've worked.

Thank God because I was really starting to worry about how I was going to procrastinate on unpacking if I could not blog.....

Friday, December 01, 2006

back to Norway

I'm heading back to Norway now...well, 1 pm Saturday. Here's what I'll be drinking when I get back.......

Lord help me. It's been a great visit.

I'll miss y'all!!!!!

(Little did I know that when this picture was taken, I was nursing the evil that dwelled within and would spend the night hurling my literal and figurative guts out. Detox indeed.)

my brother's cat... annoying the everlasting FUCK out of me. Granted, I am not a cat person, and there are the occasional few who I think are cool, but this one is a HELLION.

My brother has two cats...Skeeter (the cool cat) and Midge (the auxilliary cat). Skeeter is laid back, elder-statesman like, and very loyal to my brother. Midge got her name because she is a midget sized cat, though I think it also works as a midge, the little annoying gnat like bug that gets up your nose and in your ear and buzzes around your face until you think you are going insane. That fits Midge to a "T".

Midge does not walk. She sprints. Like, Speedy Gonzales, smoky curls of speed left behind, 0-to-90 in .05 seconds, full on hauling ass. I've never seen her walk. She sprints, or sleeps. And she's always sprinting directly under my feet at bad moments. Since she is so small, so fast and oddly silent, she can sneak up on you and scare the crap out of you any time she wants, and she takes advantage of it at every opportunity. So if I'm not tripping over her, she's making me jump. That cat is giving me a complex. I see her in the conrer of my eye, then she's gone, and I'm wondering...did I see her? Or not? Where is that little fucker now?

I think Midge wants to be a pirate. The other day she hung from the top of the shower curtain with her claws and then slid down it, pirate style, shredding it in the process. Then she yo-ho-ho'd it out of there because she knew she'd done a bad bad thing.

Every so often Skeeter will take her down, mainly just because he can. He just swats her down to the ground with a paw, jumps on her, then walks off. It's cool. Like he's all"Dude. Cool it." Whenever he does that I'm like "Yeah! Get her!"
She chills for a minute, max, then continues parasailing off the sofa or whatever her latest activity was.

I swear I get exhausted just looking at her. Exhausted and nervous. When will she sneak up on me again? When will I trip over her again? And will she destroy the new shower curtain I just put up?