Friday, August 31, 2007

Pierogis, in Krakow, Poland

P8190384.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

These are meat filled pierogis. W e had them quite a few times in Krakow. They go very well with beer.

Do you see the little brown bits scattered on top? Looks like fried garlic or something? Well, at first we thought they were fried bits of potato, but the texture was not right for potato, too light, and a little squeaky on the teeth,.

Not garlic. Nor onions. Hmm....

Then I realized what it was. I remember reading about it somewhere. And the flavor agreed with my discovery.

Fried lard. It was crispy bits of lard that they sprinkled over the pierogis. I tried to convince myself it was just like bacon, but I couldn't quite get there, it was a bit TOO piggy tasting, and I sort of lost the nibbly urge after that.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Anyone having problems leaving comments here? Haloscan seems to be disappearing again. I have noticed if you go away from the blog and then refresh when you come back, the comments miraculously reappear. So try that if you want to comment but there is no place for you to do so at the bottom of the post. The comments disappear with great frequency now, and I have no idea how to fix it, it's not a blogger thing and there is nothing on Haloscan's site about how to fix it either.

I'm wondering if there is some sort of non-compatibility issue with Macs?

It's either that or no one likes me anymore!

Service, my ass.

Ok, I ask you this:
If you ordered a beer, paid full price for it, and got only half a beer in return, you would complain, right? You'd be all, "Hey, I ordered and paid for a full beer, and you are only giving me half, what's up?"
So what would you do if you ordered a full beer, paid for a full beer, got half a beer, and then when you complained they just shrugged their shoulders and said "Everyone is only getting half a beer right now, we are having problems in the company and you will just have to deal with it for a while."
You'd go somewhere else for your beer, wouldn't you?
Now exchange "beer" for "train transportation"....which is only provided by one company in and around Oslo, and you can see that I have a definite problem in getting to work these days.
So I am going to write them a letter. The one i mail them will be more formal, but here is the gist:
Dear NSB....
Regarding your train scheduling problems:
Trains are always late, these past few months, they don't run in snow, cold, hot or rain, or when the signals are down. Now it's lack of employees. Excuses excuses! I should not be penalized because you did not plan your employee hiring more efficiently. It should not impact my day to day life that you can't hang on to the employees you have. I pay VERY HIGH prices for my monthly train card (over 200USD a month) and for that I expect, at a minimum, trains to be at least within 10 minutes of their scheduled time or a clear and prompt explanation of why this is not happening if problems do crop up. If you can't get enough people to drive the trains, how about offering some bus services? Finding alternatives to transport us around? Having tea and biscuits on the train platform to placate your many pissed-off customers?
If you can't get the trains to run on time, if you are going to make me wait 40 minutes for late trains both to AND from work, I expect some sort of discount, rebate, or ass kissing apology. . Not only are you wasting my time, you are also losing me money from time I am missing at work. I am going to charge you for the time and money I am losing because of you. Since I basically employ you, it seems only fair that I dock your pay, no?
So, NSB, I am sending you a bill for this month, in which I will request a rebate of 600 nok (half my train fare for the month) for bad service, half performed promises, and time wasted by you. I appreciate a prompt response, and a promise that you get your shit together ASAP. You may be my only travel option, but that does NOT mean I need to stand by and just accept the status quo.
Best regards,
The Texpatriate.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

let sleeping dogs lie

Germie sleeping, originally uploaded by karlakp.

he looks so cozy and comfortable... I MISS MY DOG! This was in Krakow.

birds in main square, Krakow

birds, originally uploaded by karlakp.

the maelstrom of birds was flying over me and around me and everywhere and I literally just pointed my camera into the air without looking thru the viewfinder...and got this shot. I was worried about one of them hitting me or crapping on me!

things learned the hard way

When one has long hair, one learns that brushing teeth in the morning is a two handed affair, one hand brushing, one holding the hair back so that one does not spit into it.

One has learned, today, that when one wears a blouse with a giant pussy cat bow on the front (part of the Gap's recent foray into CFDA fashion, which I got on wicked sale and am glad to get a chance to wear, except holy crap this bow just keeps GOING), that one needs an extra hand to hold the bow as well as the hair when brushing one's teeth. Foamy toothpaste all over one's clothing does NOT a fashion accessory make.

Read and learn, people. read and learn.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I never get used to this

It's like, 55 degrees outside. Fahrenheit, to you Europeans (ok, really just Grant) who bitch that I don't use celcius. The thermometer outside says 12 c.

In August. 55 in August.

I never never never never never never never never NEVER EVER get used to that. In Texas the last weeks of August and into early September are when summer usually gives its full thrust of power, as if to say "I rule this joint and you will just have to SUFFER, bitches!" I sweat and I sweat and that is what August is.

Here, August (usually right around the 24th) is when Fall comes around and says, "Yep, you have been warm (ish) for a while now, but guess what, this is NORWAY and your wearing sandals and no socks is unnatural and I am going to remind you that this is a NORDIC country". Enter cold wind and crisp air.


Anyhow, today I am home from work as everyone is traveling to India (except me) and will be out of touch most of the day. This means I can stay home, visit that old bitch Aunt Flo and do a massive, much needed cleaning of the house. I even went to the store and bought cleaning stuff. Which is still sitting on the kitchen counter as I mess around online instead.

But I promised myself i would be scrubbing by off I go. Cue dance music.....

Update three hours later: Bedroom is so clean I can lick the floor. Complete washing of all bed linens, and even washed curtains. Master bath is spotless. Rich's bathroom (and why are boys so scary with the bathroom messes?) is now enter-able. I bleached the hell out of it, so at least I know the boy germs are somewhat at bay. (Also nice is that Norwegian bathrooms have drains in the middle of the you can kind of hose down the bathroom with hot water from the shower sprayer. Instant clean, just spray with cleaner and rinse!) The entrance hall into the flat is clean. Floors scrubbed and washed. Now for the looong hallway and the kitchen. Then put some laundry away (on third load, but it takes, like an hour and a half per load) and later on collapse into nice hot bath in nice clean bathroom.

Monday, August 27, 2007

In which I am recognized (and outed)

This weekend Rich and I attended a weekend getaway party hosted by the company I work for. At first I was not sure whether I would be able to attend due to tiredness from the week before, travel issues and other assorted lame excuses, but a coworker offered us a ride with her family and suddenly the way was clear for us to attend.

And boy am I glad we did.

The party was at a hotel on an island called Hankø, where apparently some of the royal family like to hang out. It's your typical gorgeous Norwegain island, surrounded by saphhire blue water, emerald green trees, iron grey rugged rocks, hot and cold running moose and (luckily for us) the bright blue sky with only a few pearly white clouds. We knew Fall was coming, of course, and you could sort of feel it in the air, that indefinable crispness and sense of urgency that comes with the imminent arrival of Fall, but it was still warm enough in the sun that when we got there I really wished to hell I had brought some shorts. (As I write this it is raining and SLEETING outside, so yeah, uh, bye bye summer.)

We arrived at Hankø from the short ferry ride to a lunch already prepared and waiting for us. And free booze! Hmm...definitely a sign of a good weekend ahead.

On to the hotel where there were a variety of activities on tap, including horse rides for the kids, rock climbing, yoga, bbq course, wine tasting course and other stuff. I was sort of wanting Group Nap Time, but that was not on the list, and our room was not yet ready, so instead we headed to the pool and jacuzzi for a bit of splashy fun. I loves me a hot tub.

After swimming and then finally getting into our room, we met up for dinner at 7pm. I think the best description would be to call it a Meat Fiesta. There were, like, 7 kinds of grilled meat with all the trimmings plus wine, wine and more wine, plus champagne, and an open bar. Norwegians may not have big parties often, but when they do they go all out. (Which is why they don't have them often, it is REALLY expensive!) They are extremely generous hosts. And the company I work for was a very good host indeed. Thanks Company I Work For!

Anyhow, during all this party fun, what with the drinking and the talking and the eating of the meats, I was standing outside the hotel when a woman walked up behind to me and tapped me on the shoulder. (My first reaction whenever a stranger approaches me is to think "Aw geez, what's wrong? Is there toilet paper on my shoe? Booger issues? Is my skirt tucked up in my underwear?" ) I warily turned to see a very pretty blonde woman standing there, who asked me, in an American accent "Do you have a blog?"

her...."Are you the Texpatriate?"

me (voice getting a bit squeaky here)...."Yeah!?"

Her..."OHMIGOD I LOVE YOU! You are hilarious!"

me......stupid look on face...huh?

Then, it dawned on me, Dude, I've been recognized!

She reads my blog and she RECOGNIZED ME! I'm like, a rock star or something! OK, so maybe not a ROCK star, per se, but maybe like someone who used to be a rock star, or certainly a one hit wonder...or ....perhaps, more accurately, someone who was once on TV. (Ok, let's be real, this is ME we are talking about here, so actually it would be someone who was on TV for ten minutes, but that time was spent on America's Funniest Home Video, tumbling ass over applecorn, and all anyone ever saw were my cowboy boots and my ass, and so she didn't actually recognize ME, aw hell no, but my boots, now my BOOTS are pretty damn noticeable (my ass was, thankfully, covered) and so that's how she remembered me. Because I was wearing them that night. (My boots, I mean,.... the ass has a tendency to follow wherever I go, no matter how hard I try to shake it off, ha ha double entendre and HAVE I HAD ENOUGH COFFEE YET?) ) But yeah, she recognized me! And she called a friend to tell her that she met me! A friend in New York! Who ALSO reads my blog! And they were both EXCITED to know I was there!

So, this means that: this woman (she's from Houston, by the way, and I totally dug talking to someone who sounded like HOME) in Norway and her friend in New York read my blog. This means I have two readers. Two readers who are on opposite continents. This, my friends, and the fact that she recognized me, makes me An International Blog Rock Star. Yessirree bob.

So, hey, big shout out to Tressa and Leanna! Howdy y'all!

Of course, what with all the talking about blogs and stuff, I think I got outed to my co-workers that I am, indeed, a Blog BadAss, and so now they are going to read this. So, Hi Coworkers. Welcome to my not so secret blog. Don't tell anyone, ok? Or, do whatever you want. I'm cool with whatever. It's YOUR time wasted here, not mine.

(Note to coworkers: You are probably wondering how the hell someone like ME got into your nice office right about now, aren't you? Well, yeah, me too. Luck, I guess. And charm, definitely charm. And my elegant way with words.) (By the way, has anyone noticed I haven't used the word "fuck" once in this whole blog post? I mean, wow?)

(Additional note to coworkers (and this applies to the Hubby's coworkers as well): I do not ever say where we work or what we do in any specific terms. I also don't really use names of coworkers or anything like that. (I did once write an homage to the kickass coffee machine on our floor. I LURVE that coffee machine. And cake. I love the frequent cake breaks. Like that chocolate cake we had today? Did that rock or what?) But I can promise you that you are safe from me dissing on you, the job, the company or anything that might be regarded as a Stupid Thing To Say.) (Well, ok, I say Stupid Things all the time, but I promise to not say them about anything work related.)(Anything importantly work related.)

The rest of the evening, after my outing, was about more drinking. A waiter came up to me at one point and told me, that because I was from Texas, the band was going to do country western music and a line dance.... Just For Me. Because, as I am from Texas, that is my favorite music, and they were going to play it for me, to make me, the Celebrity Blogger, happy. (By the way, I have exactly three cd's of country western music: Lyle Lovett, KD Lang and Kid Rock's eponymous song "Cowboy". That's how country and western I am.) But seriously, how nice was that, that they tried to make me feel at home?

I didn't have the heart to tell the waiter that I wouldn't be able to line dance if you tied me up like a marionette and moved my feet and arms for me. (That night I couldn't even WALK in a straight line, much less dance in one!) A coworker reminded me that the chicken dance is a line dance, but then he had to remind me how to do it. And I still messed it up. I flapped when I shoulda wiggled and I wiggled when I was supposed to flap.

I wonder if they take away your Texan-ness for sucking at line dancing?

Anyhow, we had a great night, the evening finished with more alcohol in the 'drawring room' which had the additional conversational benefit of a tiny, furry little bat that slept clinging to the side of the stone fireplace.

Got back home by 2pm the next day, where I fully intended to do laundry and clean up our very messy house, but instead managed...a nap.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Autumn to Arrive Sunday"

That is one of the big headlines in today's Aftenposten.

I mean, holy crap? We have had the WORST summer ever, and now they rip away whatever is left of it? Man this SUCKS.

I've still got dresses to work through. Sandals to wear. Linens that have not seen the light of day. A straw hat that I never managed to use for sun protection. A deck chair that I have never used ONCE. I only wore a bathing suit ONCE this summer, for an hour, and that was the time I got horribly sunburned in Austin! ....I guess that weekend in Poland was Summer 2007 for us. It was nice weather the whole time.

Such a strange thing to think, for a Texan, that this Saturday, August 25th, is the last day of summer in Norway. Worst thing about it is, that the past few days have been GLORIOUS, but I have been absolutely swamped at work and can't take time to enjoy it. I got over 100 emails today alone, at times coming in about one a minute, all requiring reply or action, and there was no way I could bugger off to enjoy the sun. The crunch will be over by Tuesday, but by then the good weather will be gone.

Sigh. I'm NOT ready for sweaters and boots. Not even close. I've barely got my sandal callouses going on my feet!

view from our Krakow hotel at night

view from hotel at night, originally uploaded by karlakp.

We stayed in an area called Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter. It is a very charming area, as old or older than old city Krakow. It's in the midst of a regeneration. Our hotel was the Hotel Rubinstein, named after makeup magnate Helen Rubinstein who grew up on the street. From our room we could see over to Wawel Castle.
There was an old water well with a hand pump in the middle of the street (more like a square, really) and people still used it for filling buckets and stuff!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

cool kids outside the coffee house in Krakow

this coffeehouse was an endless source of people watching goodness. never walked by without seeing a photo opportunity. Decent coffee, too. Definitely the place to see and be seen. But in a cool, Austin slacker kind of way.

simple church

simple church, originally uploaded by karlakp.

St Giles Church in Krakow, a very simple and lovely space.
Not too Baroqued up, a style which is very common in former Eastern Europe. That baroque period kind of ruined alot of otherwise lovely spaces. (I mean, Baroque is fine and all, but there is SO much of it and i hate to think of what they took out to make it all tarty with naked babies and plaster and gold curly cues everywhere.)
I like simple, where i can see the bones and the age. This church is a nice example of that......

There are tons more pictures at my flickr pages. Keep checking every week or so.

cool stairs against yellow building

Krakow is an incredibly photogenic city. Reminds me of Prague, but not so touristy (though still quite touristy). The main square (Reynek Glowny) is the biggest in Europe, an absolutely WONDERFUL space. Those medieval town planners sure knew how to create human spaces. WE could still follow their example today.

Inside city hall tower, not built for tall people

Rich inside Krakow city hall tower.

The attendants were sitting just to the right of the picture and were laughing their asses off as I took this photo. We wnjoy being never ending sources of amusement to the locals.

Me in the City Hall Tower in Krakow

P8180171.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

This tower is all that is left of a vast City Hall built in the 14th century. We climbed up it, and let me tell you, it was a bit of a hike. My thighs are STILL sore.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Hi. I'm back from Poland, which was wonderful.

And there I was, posting about it, when the fire alarm went off in our building, and not just in our building but in our FLAT with LARGE NOISES and FLASHING LIGHTS and so I had to bugger off down the stairs with the rest of the residents of the building (me having just gotten comfy in my not-for-public-viewing nighties, so I threw on what ever I could find to wear that was on the floor, which was NOT a good look for me) to await the fire brigade.

Which never arrived as the fire alarm was, yet again, a false alarm.

I grabbed only my purse, my iPod and my passport as I ran out of the flat, by the way. My neighbors had nothing, she had been taking a nap and her son was all "Dude, I totally was playing XBox!" Poor kid.

But my post went away. What with all the flashing and running and whatever, something happened and the internet turned off. I think? I dunno. But bye bye post.

And I don't especially feel like redoing the post right now.

Work has kicked in to serious overdrive, as well, so I am damned tired. And i had a scary experience at work. I even have a bruise to prove it. Must turn in safety report.

But Poland was wonderful and I had a great birthday.

And in totally unrelated news, I am not so sure that this is what I want my home state known for world-wide. Jeez.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

in which I give up on summer

Well this summer is, and no pun intended, a total washout.

I mean, holy crap, it's done nothing but rain all summer, day in and day out, and now it's August, and as strange as it sounds to people in The US (especially Texas) it's starting to get chilly around here. A friend of mine yesterday (as we sat outside, covered in the blankets that most outdoor cafes provide, huddled under an umbrella that is optimistically there for the sun, but also offers waterproofing) said that 'summer was over', and I sort of believe her, depressing as that is.

It's about 56 degrees out there. And raining. And grey. Think of the dreariest fall day and you got it. Horrible. And it's such a disappointment, because honestly, the most good days you can possibly get in Norway in summer is about 60, spread out from early June to mid (if you are lucky) September. 60 days of glorious warmth and sun, if all is perfect. (A perfect Norwegian summer day is a true thing of beauty, and missing out on them is told you are getting a puppy for Christmas and being handed stinky road kill instead. Disappointing as hell. And last summer was truly lovely, so I got spoiled and I Want More.)

This year, we had some nice days in early June, then....shit. Raining, pissing, chilly, sad and dreary. So the 60 possible days dwindled and dwindled until now? Well, all we can do is hope for some nice 'late summer days', which HAVE happened before, but I am not too hopeful.
I'm thinking, given that I have proven my mystical sway over space, time and weather, (remember I bought a floor fan and deck chair and then it started raining? I am VERY SORRY Norway!) that I am going to give in and buy some sort of plastic-y sports jacket, which I honestly detest. I am just NOT a sports clothes kind of gal, and those plastic hooded jackets with the multi colors and drawstrings, etc. just don't work with my style. However, I am considering getting one (hoping I can find a basic black one) as I am tired of schlepping around a drippy umbrella everywhere. I am thinking, once I give in and break my own fashion rule, that the sun will come out, negating my purchase and causing me to be the Saviour of Summer 2007.

And if that doesn't work, well, at least I have a damned rain jacket.

In other news, I've been given a little video of the NIN concert, with footage of Trent, me dancing, etc., and I am going to see about posting it on YouTube (something i have not yet attempted) so that you can see me rawkin' out with 1000 crazed Vikings. At very least, good for a laugh. And yeah, it rained that day as well.

Postscript two hours later:
Looked for a rain jacket, found one that was minimally acceptable Hate those horrible shapeless things and will hold out for Krakow and see if maybe there is something there that I can tolerate.

The day is so crappy that I am calling a Soup Day and making tortilla soup. sometimes you just have to drown your sorrows in soupy goodness.

Monday, August 13, 2007

International Bender Weekend

This weekend I:
  • Took care of a very drunk Russian.
  • Enjoyed the unforgettable image of a British man smoking an American cigarette using a woman's toes as his cigarette holder.
  • And in case you were wondering, no it was NOT my foot, though I was intrinsic in the cigarette placing and subsequent suggestion that the smoking take place thusly.
  • Why yes, I am the naughty suggestion just waiting to happen. Thanks for asking.
  • Went to a party at the home of a Scot. Who knew he could cook?
  • Was asked to dance by a Norwegian.
  • .....and a Swede.
  • ....and another Brit.
  • Shared in a toast with a Frenchman.
  • Met a guy named Gorgeous.
  • Snapped a photo of a British guy dropping trou. No I won't post it. Yes he was wearing drawers.
  • Drank Norwegian and English beer, Italian, French and German wine, and Russian vodka.
It was almost peaceful getting back to work again after a weekend like that. I'm taking it easy this week, party wise, as on Friday Rich and I go to Poland for my birthday. I hear the vodka is good there.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails, originally uploaded by karlakp. That's me giving the "rock n roll" sign and Hook Em Horns all at once.)

KICK ASS SHOW!!!!!!!!!

I think my outfit worked out pretty well. I added some fishnet tights to it, and as the evening wore on they got progressively holier, from jewelry snagging and general mistreatment by me. (I never spend more on hose than I would be upset about from only wearing once, as I am legendarily hard on them.) I think the holiness of the fishnets added to the feel of the outfit, eclectic sexy grown up Goth. (Hopefully it came across that way and not just Old Tramp.)

It rained a couple hours before NIN came on, but we just stood under a tree and it was no problem. Everyone had their clear plastic ponchos, except me, but it really didn't matter and it was just warm enough that standing around in a plastic bag would have just become a personal sauna, which was not appealing. Plus I bulletproofed my hair by having it in two little ponytails on the back of my head, so even if it did frizz, I wouldn't have to deal with it in my face. I rather liked my hair like that, will keep doing it like that, as it's easy care and simple.

Oya Festival is an extremely well organized and planned event. I give wholehearted kudos to everyone who plans it. They covered practically the whole fairground with this white fabric flooring so that all the churning feet would not turn the grass into a mud pit. What a great idea! It felt so clean! The food area and drink stands were reasonably priced and well located. The food offerings were actually some of the best I have seen at a public event EVER in Norway. They had everything from crepes to burgers to curries to pizzas. Why can't they have food like that at other events? And as for stuff to drink, wine, beer, champagne, whatever, it was all there and (for Norway) very fairly priced. Me, Elaina and her boyfriend David chipped in on a litre 'bottle' (carton) of a nice little Italian Sangiovese. Great solution for shared drinking. (And oh my yes, I was snockered.) Everything there was either organic or "ecological" which I am not sure what the difference is, but it certainly did not result in a lessening of the effects of the wine, so hey, I'm all for it.

Nine Inch Nails KICKED ASS. they started at EXACTLY 9:45, on the dot, and just ripped into the set with such force I felt momentarily knocked over. Then I started screaming and hopping up and down like the NINny I am. They played a bunch of stuff from the new album, of course, but also some more obscure stuff (a song from the "Lost Highway" soundtrack) and some really old stuff (Head Like a Hole!). And yes, they played "Closer" which was as cathartic as you can get without actually being catatonic, for me at least. I've ALWAYS wanted to hear that song live. (When I saw them in 1990, it was really only all about "Pretty Hate Machine" and so "Closer" wasn't even out yet.) It sounded great, Trent looked great and the band was really powerful, thrashing about and yet still producing some great sound. Trent Reznor is one of my Gods.

The crowd was fairly friendly, only once did I have to really get forceful with someone. This blonde chick kept trying to get in front of me by way of just pushing me out of her way. I guess she thought if she pushed hard enough I would become transparent and she could walk through me. It pissed me off to the point that I finally just slammed my elbow back at her, hard, and I think I sent her flying, at least, I felt a woosh of air behind me and then she was gone. (It takes a bit to make me get physical, but then when I do I ain't holding back and I am bigger than she was.) Apparently she also tried that shit with David and he did the same, so I am thinking dumb blonde girl has alot of elbow marks on her today. I stood next to this nice, big, lantern jawed guy who indulgently sort of stood me back up whenever I lost my balance (which was alot). Once, as he propped me back up again, I looked up at him and screamed, "WOOO! I'm from Texas!!!", and he gave me a huge smile and we were total buddies from then on. He reminded me of my brother.

Now as great of a time as I had, I am feeling it today. It's all good and nice to rock yer ass off at a show by yer fave band, but when you are pushing 40, things HURT the next day. Rock and Roll will never die, but I sure am getting old. So here is a bullet point list of things that hurt:

  • Feet (miles of walking) (MILES)
  • Calves (bouncing up and down in place like a Kalahari Bushman)
  • Middle finger on right hand (from clapping, my ring bangs on the bone and left it bruised!)
  • Biceps (from holding my hands up in the air and making devil horns all night)
  • Right Elbow (Blonde girl bashing)(oddly satisfying, that was, I do confess)
  • Ass (I'm not actually sure about why on that one, I don't remember any ass intensive activities)
  • Neck (head banging, 'yo!) (6 good headbangs and I am done for)
  • Shoulders (I think from holding up the arms)
  • Head (wine, loud music, not enough water, neck tension, etc.)
And I have a strange scratch on my neck, not sure AT ALL where that came from.

There are more pics posted on my Flickr page. (I have upgraded my account. Plus I can live blog from there with my cell phone, so I sent some pics from last night there in real time. Cool....) Keep checking it out, as I am going to be adding alot more pictures and stuff there over time.

Late addition: Here's a video Elaina's boyfriend David took. I'm a little embarrassed, here, as I am going NUTS and it's caught on film, but whatever. I'll post it down here and only you sharp eyed ones will see it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Steam train ride in Norway

The cutest little boy ever, ready for his Western Adventure on the steam train.

On Sunday we took a ride with our friends Keith and Gillian on a historic steam train. It's called the Kroderbanen, and it's a very old steam train with old restored cars, all lovingly taken care of and maintained by a very enthusiastic bunch of volunteers.

On Sunday, unbeknown to us, they had a train robbery and Western day planned. At first I was all, "Aw come on, I am FROM the west, been there done that", but honestly, it was really very well done. Norwegians do one helluva western train robbery, let me tell you. (I only laughed hard once, when I learned one character was named "Deadwood Dick". Huh huh huh...Beavis.)

We later found out 600 people showed up for the event, of which about 300 were kids. Kids going absolutely INSANE ALL DAY. It was cute. The robbers ran up and down the carriages, kidnapping ladies and then being chased by sheriffs. They even stopped the train and had a shootout, with really loud blanks and rifles and everything. It was cool.

I was bummed that I did not wear my boots or hat, as I do have both, and this would have been a perfect day for me to indulge my Texanness.

I enjoyed the train ride as well, I could feel the power of that one engine pulling all the cars. It felt very different from the trains I ride every day. The cars were comfortable, spacious and homey. And the countryside was stunningly beautiful. It was all worth the cost, as the day ended up costing about 3 times what I had expected. (Eh, that's Norway, though.)

For lunch we had a picnic by a lake. With a bit of Reisling wine and sandwiches, it was very nice. I posted more pictures below of the day, so check them out.

loadin' up the train

P8050002.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

These guys walked the length of the train showing off the big box of 'money' to all the kids on the train, setting the scene for the robbery later. The kids were going INSANE.

train going around the bend

P8050017.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

train robbery!

P8050031.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

One of the bad guys running away. Or maybe he was a good guy? I was never quite sure.


P8050051.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Steam train

at Kroderen rail station

P8050069.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Original unchanged building from the 1870's

norwegian cowboy

P8050090.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

They did a really good job of looking the part.


P8050095.JPG, originally uploaded by karlakp.

This guy looked EXACTLY like Leonardo DiCaprio. I mean exact same eyes and everything. His job was to be the town drunk. At the end of the train ride he hung around with everyone getting off the train, wove around drinking from his bottle of hooch, played a mouth harp, posed for photos with kids (but in a non-posey way, just sat there drunk) and belched like there was no tomorrow. He was GREAT. He really added a bit of authenticity to the proceedings. he was a great drunk!

NIN wardrobe decided

OK, so I think I have my wardrobe issues figured out for NIN at Oya festival tomorrow. I have been working different angles, and sort of waiting to see what the weather would do. Looks like it will be warm, possibly even hot! I need to balance grown up sophistication with Goth, practical with edgy. Since it is an outdoor festival and I'll be walking alot, I can't really wear heels. Also, nothing dry cleanable, for obvious reasons.

But I think I have it figured out. Black lace edged slip under a finely crocheted cotton spider webby dress, all knee length and narrow fitting, with a very wide black leather corset belt. Black leggings and my over the knee pointy toed yet miraculously flat leather boots. Just a little medieval in mood. (So I can get medieval on someone's ass if they mess with me!)

I'm hoping it will all be comfortable yet just edgy enough to make me feel NIN-y. Or whatever. I mean, I've always listened to music on the darker side, and I've always been an inner Goth, reading anything vampire or sort of occult, etc., but never wore it, really, as I don't like to assign myself only one look. There ARE the occasional days I don't feel like black. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is definitely a day to show my inner darkness.

Thanks to everyone who emailed or posted suggestions!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Blues Boy and Lady in Red

Well, yesterday I was so pissed off that not even black was enough to register my anger, so I wound up wearing all red to the pub. Red crocheted skirt, red tank top, red sandals and red shooting from my eyes. My friend Kristen, bless her, got what I was doing right off the bat and said "So, black not enough, eh? Going for the angry red?" Damn, she is such a smart cookie, she always gets me. After a few attempts by the boys to warble "Lady in Red", we got down to the serious business of drankin'.

A lady came by and gave us a flyer for the evening's entertainment. Apparently her son (as I learned later) is a 15 year old blues prodigy named Krissy Matthews. As the pub usually has jazz musicians, I was rather pleased that we would have a change of pace (plus I way prefer blues to jazz hands down any day). We continued on with our beers. We were sitting outside enjoying the last of the light and the warmth, which was rapidly receding, when suddenly these perfect blues riffs came tumbling out of the pub and into the chill night air. It was like Albert Collins walked in and set up shop.

Holy shit that kid can play.

I went inside and sat transfixed as a skinny British teenager (with the face of a choir boy) with a very old soul played his guts out. What I liked was that he didn't pretend to be an ol' black man from Miss'ippi in 1923, he did some of his own songs and sang about school day blues, and such. His voice will mature with time, but his playing was amazing.

He kept making references to Austin Texas and Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Omar and the Howlers and such, and I felt so proud to be from a place where the music is known world wide. I went up to him at one of his breaks and told him he needs to come and play Antone's, they'd love him in Austin, and he said he thought that might happen next year, bummer that Clifford died, but this weekend he was playing with Jimmy Vaughn and Omar and the Howlers at the Notodden Blues Festival. Well connected kid. (I'm always amazed how respected Austin music is here, and how it is sort of taken for granted back home.)

Not long after that Rich and I left, Rich ready to leave but not wanting me walking home alone as there have been some violent attacks against women here lately. We are all a bit freaked.

Just as I was getting into my jammies at home, Kristen called hollering and saying "He dedicated a song to you!!!!" Yeah, the kid dedicated one of the last songs of the night to "a young lady from Austin, Texas, who is here somewhere but I just can't see her"!!!!!! (And how much do I love him for calling me a 'young lady'?)

I'm very honored and totally bummed that I missed it. (It's also ironically just how my week went, you know? Something good finally happens and I miss it!) It's not often you get a song dedicated to you by a 15 year old blues player who is gonna be WAY famous some day. And I am already a big fan. He's one to watch.

Friday, August 03, 2007

do over!!!!

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing a game, like hide and seek or something, and something happened that no one could quite decide was fair or not, so someone yelled "Do Over!" and you did it all over again and it was like the unfair thing never happened?

Can I have a do over for this week? Can I please? Somebody has to call it for me.....Dave, I nominate you, just holler "DO OVER!" and I can pretend that this week didn't happen and I can have another chance at it.

I am in a ROTTEN mood. Like, a wearing black, getting a tattoo, going to a dive biker bar and kickin' some ass, rotten mood. A total don't FUCK with the BABYSITTER mood.

Of course, I am OLD, and not really much of a one for kickin' ass, so now a rotten mood means getting my iPod out and listening to the MOST FUCKED UP ANGRY MUSIC I can find, and walking really fast (when I was in Texas I would drive really fast for half and hour or so with the music cranked, but I sold the car and so now I have to walk, dammit) and doing slightly, passive-aggressively mean things as I go along.

Things like:
Petting a kitten but rubbing its fur the wrong way so that it gets cranky.
Making scary faces at babies (when their moms aren't looking) and making them cry.
Pulling a pretty flower out of the ground and stomping on it. Really hard.
Spitting on baby birds. Noisy little fuckers anyhow.
Flipping off nice old ladies, but only behind their backs when they aren't looking.
When a puppy rolls over for me to pet its tummy....I don't. Ha, take that!
Tossing thumbtacks into the road.
Salting slugs.
Littering. (Biodegradable only, must think of the earth.)

I know, I KNOW, I am a holy terror, but that's how I roll, yo.

You shoulda seen me when I was younger and I not so responsible. Then I littered PLASTIC. Uh huh, yeah....... how you like me now, biatches.

Now excuse me while I go find something black and scary to wear to the pub.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So THAT'S why....

When I was in the US I bought THE most comfortable underwear EVER and have been wearing them non stop.

So today, when I was at work, I just could NOT figure out why my new, much loved, comfy underwear was SO damned annoying. It pinched, it grabbed, it twisted, it crawled WAY the hell up into the no go zone, it did everything it could to turn itself into an oversized, way too much fabric thong. Did I get a bad pair? Was this like the rotten egg of the bunch? What the hell was wrong?

I got home and changed out of my work clothes and that's when I discovered....oh.


If you put your underwear on not only inside out but BACKWARDS, they tend not to fit so well.

I really need to work on opening my eyes a bit more when I am getting dressed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

cultural differences

Today on the train I noticed a new sign posted in the official NSB information area. Normally whatever is posted in this area relates to transportation or train schedules, so I was rather surprised at the topic of this particular poster.
The sign is in four languages: Norwegian, English, Somali and Arabic. It is a reminder that in Norway, female circumcision is not only illegal, it is also harmful and is NOT a requirement in ANY religion. It is illegal to perfrom this 'procedure' not only in Norway, but if you are resident in Norway, it's illegal to take your daughter out of the country to have it performed.

This is a pretty sobering thing to be faced with first thing in the morning on the trains, let me tell you.

It's been quite the issue lately.

It's also a fairly telling side effect of the immigration occurring everywhere. I know Americans are all up in arms about immigration in the US, but believe me when I say every country has its problems. And here, we have some pretty unique issues going on, as Norway is fairly new to immigration on a large ongoing scale (unlike the 'melting pot' of the US where we are ALL immigrants of some sort). Norway until the 70's was always a fairly quiet country left to its own devices. From what everyone's told me, it was a quiet backwater above Europe, poor and rurally based. Now, with the new wealth and generous benefits programs, there are all these new people coming in and they all carry their own societal norms which don't always mesh so well with the tolerant atmosphere around here. Like, female circumcision. To veil or not to veil. Arranged marriages or not? It's a mine field of cultural education, tolerance and mutual understanding.

I'm not sure where I stand with it all. My gut feeling is that if you are going to move to a country you should do your best to fit in, while somehow also holding on to your roots. I know this is not easy. Be a productive member of society and try to add to the culture as best you can. Get a job, pay into the system, try to get to know some people. What makes America interesting (and England, too) are all the different cultures that add spice to the mix. Norway has some of that now, too.

It's just, when you see signs like that one on the train this morning, that you start to wonder, and worry, about how hard it is to create a harmonious mix that works. I don't envy the folks who have to do that, but I do applaud them for making an effort such as they have done thus far. And for protecting the interests of women, and reaching out to them in their OWN languages, so that they know that here, in Norway, they DO have a voice and a choice.

But most of all, I thank my lucky stars I don't come from a place where female circumcision is even remotely an issue.