Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pod blog

Short post from my iPod.

It's too cold to be outside to do much touristy stuff because today it is snowing HARD. Pelting, blowing, icing, in-yo-face ice bits that manage to get into that tiny space between my hood and my glasses, thence directly into my eyes. Or down my neck. Brrr.

About all we can do is duck into a bar or cafe and eat or drink something. So I had a lovely jaegerschnitzel and spatzle for lunch, with a Paulaner hefeweizen dunkel and then a Saku Tume (a dark malty, slighlty smoky brew). Then we wandered out into the blizzardy weather, and after a few tumbles into various snowdrifts on admittedly beautiful cobbled (tho snow covered roads), retreated for Irish coffees at a cafe by the main square. Warmed up, then to the Christmas market where all was snow covered but genial.

More wandering and exploring, avoiding snow as much as possible (impossible) and bought a few gifties and souvenirs. Then we both had enough of the snow so back to the hotel to warm up.

Now we are deciding what to do next. Not terribly hungry, but don't want to just stay in the room. More drinking? Argh.

I'd go take pics but the snow aims right for my camera lens. And my eyes.

Another schnitzel and some more German beer might be a good idea. They had a nice fireplace!

Sent from my iPod

Monday, December 28, 2009

Castle district, Tallinn

Castle district, Tallinn, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Please excuse my crappy blackberry camera. We went up the hill to the castle/embassy district of Tallinn. All pastel buildings in Baroque or medieval style, snow and trees that look like cast iron sculpture. Cold as hell and equally beautiful. Am now warming up with Irish coffees. I might be a bit tipsy in a few minutes, however, my cockles are VERY warm.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hotel view Tallinn

Hotel view Tallinn, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Here's the view from our hotel room. As you can see the snow followed us!

Friday, December 25, 2009

blue sky moon over steeple

blue sky moon over steeple, originally uploaded by karlakp. post Christmas excursion.

Cold Christmas.....

Cold, originally uploaded by karlakp.

"I'm cold", he hollers.

We went on a cold Christmas Day walk through Frogner park. We were there with every Italian, Russian, French and American in Oslo. You could tell the Norwegians by the minks and the ski wear. (Mink coats are about the warmest things you can wear...they are actually sensible here, unlike in Texas, where you are really just showing off your money.) The Russians wore very tight jeans, the Italians wore the wrong shoes for this type of weather and slid on the snow, and the French, well, they just always look French, don't they? It was the coldest I have ever encountered in Norway. Not only temperature cold, but with a cutting wind that whipped the snow right into my ears and face. Usually I have no problem with the cold, or the snow, or the wind, but put them all together and damn, that was a bit much.

We had a lovely Christmas Eve meal with our friends Keith and Gilly, and I am very happy to say that my tenderloin of beef turned out GREAT thanks to the use of a new meat thermometer. I have been convinced: meat thermometers actually work and I will use one for all roasts henceforward. The meat was good, the veggies good, the potatoes took twice as long to cook as I expected and still weren't quite done to my liking, and the dessert, Tom Perini's Jack Daniel's Bread Pudding, is a heavenly, evil, decadent taste sensation that never fails to make people lick the bowl. Of course, if you don't like butter, cream and sugar, mixed with whisky, then you won't like it one bit. In which case, you should give me your portion.

Here's to a Merry Christmas. I hope you are surrounded by loved ones and if you are away from home, that you know that you are loved even if you aren't with them today.


Snowman, originally uploaded by karlakp.

At Frogner park


Stroll, originally uploaded by karlakp.

On a snowy Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Busses. Who knew?

Growing up in Texas, and being middle class, means one thing: when you turn 16 you get a car.

It also means something else: You have no experience of public transportation. None. Nadda zip. Cuz middle class kids don't DO busses. (Except for a school bus, maybe.) And we ain't got trains in Texas.

So, on moving to Norway, and living in the 'burbs, I found the train system to be very efficient and oh so European. Trains are very acceptable to middle class Texans, as we associate them with European holidays and Eurail passes that we get on our trips over in college. I've traveled in trains all over the world now, and am very familiar and comfortable on rail-oriented transport. Busses? Only when the trains are down.

Now I live in central Oslo. No more burbs. Trains only take you out of Oslo. We do have inner city trams (also acceptable as on rails), which I take frequently, but, which, unfortunately, are not routed all that conveniently for me to take one to work. Busses were my last resort. Busses are scary. Busses just don't register in my mind as a viable, effective and non-crazy people laden alternative to the more acceptable, to my Texas middle class upbringing, rail-oriented public transportation. Busses...well, dammit, I'm just not a fan.

Until. Until I found a stop by my house where I could take the bus to work. Easy distance, they come every 6-10 minutes, and stop practically out side my office. So I manned up and took the bus. Same one, same stop. I didn't venture farther. I used that bus stop for 2 months. I figured, that was the bus, that's my bus, that's the bus I take.

Until. Until Rich showed me another stop by our house, maybe even closer, where, like FIVE busses stop and FOUR of them go to my office. So, I can get a bus every, I dunno, 2 minutes. I found this out on Monday. MONDAY.

Sad thing is, I would never have twigged to that bus stop had Rich not shown me it was there, thus allowing me to be brave enough to go check it out myself one day and discover the whole world of bus goodness that will get me to work even more efficiently.

I don't know that I will ever be a fan of busses. I don't know that I will ever LIKE them. But, maybe, perhaps, I will be more open to them in future. In Europe.

I don't know that I will ever take a bus in Texas (Lee, you'll have to come with me if I ever do.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

grrr. It's the little things that piss you off.

I lost my gloves. I had some nice, over the wrist leather gloves I bought in the US, and I swore to myself that THIS TIME I would NOT lose them, as I always do with gloves. THIS TIME I was going to be a grown up about it, and not lose them, and keep them for a long long time.
Apparently for me, a long time with gloves is a week. Shit. This is why I buy the three pack of cheap wool gloves at H&M and never buy expensive leather gloves. (Ditto sunglasses.)

More annoying:
I opened a frozen chicken with the plan of roasting it. I knew something might be wrong when it felt particularly bony in the (opaque) package. However, I have bought this brand before, so figured it would be ok.
Er..... no. Nasty scrawny assed, no meat bony bird WITH FEATHERS on parts of it. NASTY.
So bad there was no way I could do anything with it but make stock. I guess that's ok as Rich says he has a cold and has retreated to the bedroom in his jammies to disconsolately watch tv and mope. He can have chicken soup when the stock is done. I wasn't in the mood for soup, but I guess things change.

Most annoying:
I can't get a fire going. The wood is too cold and wet.

Completely annoying as hell:
How much a freaking tenderloin costs. Wow. I had no idea. I think they raised the price of larger cuts of meat and poultry just before Christmas because I can see a newer tag on the 1.85 kilo piece of New Zealand frozen filet mignon I bought. God let's hope I don't fuck it up when I cook it, or that is going to be one hell of an expensive mistake. I had to buy frozen as there were no larger cuts of beef available of any good quality. (Right now I SO miss the US. Scrawny chickens, overpriced hunks of meat, and I can't find molasses ANYWHERE.)

So annoying I want to kill:
STFU YOU NOISY GODDAMN NEIGHBORS! The people upstairs are on a noise safari today. Hammering, hollering, stomping, and rolling something around on the floor for hours. The worst part is that they make noise 24 hours....they are especially lively around 4am. I HATE them. They were yelling at each other above our kitchen today and I lost it and yelled at them to shut the fuck up....I think they heard me because the noise abated for a 1/2 a minute. I guess I will have to fight fire with fire. And...I think they are cooking stinking fish and cabbage again. HATE THEM.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Comments problem

Well hell, y'all.

I just got an upsetting email from Haloscan, who I have used from inception for commenting on this blog. I liked that it was a separate, customizable pop up window and that I could moderate comments, there being trolls and nasty people out there in this world. It's been a fairly reliable useful service for over 5 years now.

Haloscan has been bought out/destroyed/eaten by something called Echo and won't be around anymore. So I have two 'choices': Move/migrate my comments elsewhere or pay $10 a year for a service I know nothing about. And this is being called an 'upgrade'. An UPGRADE is when you get something MORE for your money...not paying for something you always got for free, know nothing about its replacement and NOT getting anything extra out of it. And I have two weeks from today to do it.

I guess I will just move everything back over the Blogger. It's not the money that bothers me, it's the way they are forcing it like this and calling it an 'upgrade'. Also there is no explanation on the site to help you choose one way or the other....which would be nice, if maybe I got an idea of what the new service would be like before I move to it? Nope...just two buttons, one for migrate and one for 'upgrade' (my ass).

UPDATE: Dammit! It's impossible to transfer old comments to blogger from haloscan. So I either lose all of the wonderful comments I have had for FIVE YEARS or I have to pay these bastards for a format I don't know, don't want and doesn't work as well as what I had!

clicking my heels as hard as i can....

Well, I'm not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. I click my heels for home and warmth, but then I hear that it is just as cold in Kansas, and we all know that clicking of heels leads there, so what is the point?

Clicking aborted. No more clicking. I want out of the cold, not back in it in the middle of America.

DAMN it's cold. Some areas around here are minus 0 fahrenheit. It's BRUTAL out there. I'm not going out unless it's stricly necessary.

So, on to other things.

I sent out an email at work earlier this week, to a few girls, telling them to wear red to work on Friday...just for fun. And don't tell any men, but just wear red....and to spread the word at will to the other gals.

The power of the female network? EVERY woman in my office wore red today. The guys actually noticed...I was impressed. And I was so happy to see the female solidarity. That's just AWESOME.

I'm feeling very karmically in tune with things right now. I have been on a high this week, I felt powerful and very take charge. I got things done before people asked for them, wheeled and dealed and put ideas in ears, and found ways around obstacles like nobody's business. I wish every week was like this one.

But they aren't and I will just have to remember how I felt THIS week when the next bad week happens.

So now I am in front of the fire, eating a home made mushroom-onion-'italian' sausage pizza (we are out of frozen pizzas, I'm hungry, it's too damn cold to go outside and it literally takes 10 extra minutes to just make one from scratch anyhow). SYTYCD is on, the Christmas tree is lit, I am warm. I forgot to get wine, but cherry vodka seems an ok, if somewhat breathtaking, alternative. Later, a bath. A bubbly hot bath.

Life is ok today. OK indeed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

nipples frozen off

Damn it's getting cold. Some sort of Ice Age thingy is settling over Europe, and, Norway being northier than the rest of the continent, is gonna be DAMN cold.

Tomorrow? High of somewhere around 10 degrees. FAHRENHEIT.

I better wear the padded bra to protect the pink parts. I skated across the street tonight in my Doc Martens. I didn't mean to skate, by the way. It just happened. That ice is slippery.

In other news, all sorts of madness happening at work. Looks like I will be in a new position once the new year starts. How the hell did THAT happen? You think you are on one path and then, woosh, you change track and go down another one. I am actually quite psyched about it. New responsibilities, interesting stuff to do, I'll be in the center of it all and I still get to work with great people. Seems a win win to me. I'm very lucky in that I actually come home from work quite frequently jazzed and upbeat. I feel respected and appreciated there. If you've known me in the past, you will know that that is NOT something I am used to, so I feel oh so very grateful.

Maybe getting older has mellowed me a bit? Who knows.

Did I mention...COLD. COOOLLD!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

farts fashion and the Nobel


Had our office Christmas party on Friday night. It always makes me laugh, Norwegian office parties. I mean, the people I work with are SO intelligent. Very well versed in their fields, very well educated and professional. Great people to have on your team.

When we have an office party? 13 year olds. We all regress to junior high. Somebody tapes a fart machine under a chair and sets it off during a dinner speech. We titter like 12 year olds in church. There's teasing and ass slapping and fart machines and dancing and inappropriate jokes. Suddenly these Captains of Industry are wearing silly wigs and Afrauxs and goofy hats and giggling at boob jokes. Oddly enough, we get a lot of business done too. We let loose enough to discuss things that might be harder to talk about on a day to day basis, but still need addressing. I swear, going out drinking with my co-workers has really been the thing that has opened a lot of doors for me and gotten a lot of things sorted. Interesting how things like that work out.


I found time to check out the Jimmy Choo and Sonia Rykiel collections at H&M. I heard that people lined up for hours in the US and UK to get into the Jimmy Choo collection and practically fought over the shoes and stuff. Well, those people should come to Norway because there's plenty of it left. The flat shoes and the bags sold out, but there's tons of the suede clothes (they are sized really small and only go up to 42) and the high heels left. Maybe because it's, like, below freezing outside and the idea of wearing 5 inch heeled sandals is ludicrous? However, I got a sequined dolman sleeved dress and a cool pair of lizard-print shoe boots with sparkles on them. The shoes are a bit funky, but fun. They've dropped the prices over the past few days, quietly, because people were balking at the cost, which was really a bit too high even for a special collection. It IS just H&M after all. So I timed it just right, didn't have to wait in line AND got it at a discount.

I wore the sequined dress to the office party. The only thing about it is that there is a slit in the front, that, well, it goes all the way up to the hoo-ha, so there is no way it can be worn as a dress. It has to be worn over pants. It looked good as a tunic over skinny black pants, though. The dolman sleeve thing is something I remember very well from the 80's.

With the dress, which is pretty low cut, I wore a black balconette bra from the Rykiel collection. (I might have precipitated some of the boob jokes at the office party, the bra is very effective.)


The Nobel parade was intense. When I went and saw Jimmy Carter, there were maybe 300 people? On Thursday is was 10,000. It was so crowded that I tried to take a picture with the camera above my head and I couldn't put my arms back afterward. I also, unfortunately, dropped my camera. It still works, but the lens cover is stuck in the open position. The pictures didn't turn out too well as I was trying to walk and take pictures at night....movement doesn't help a night picture. Nor do jostling crowds. Anyhow, I was just glad to get out of that crowd. The nachos and beer at the Hard Rock afterwards was a nice bonus.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well deserved

Well deserved, originally uploaded by karlakp.

A Guinness at the Hard Rock after being squashed in the biggest crowd I've ever been in. the way, again

Bush, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Ironically a bush is in the way. (There is a window with whiter light right behind that bush, that is where Obama came out to wave. Yeah, he's there, you just can't see him.) Damn Bush.

It was actually pretty funny, people started chanting "No More Bush! Down with Bush! Remove the Bush!". Because dammit, that bush was just in the damned way. What you CAN'T see in this picture are the sharpshooters all along the roof of the Grand Hotel, and up in the clock tower. There were snipers ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Lots of people

Lots of people, originally uploaded by karlakp.


Waiting to march

Waiting to march, originally uploaded by karlakp.


OK guys, I'm going in. Going in for the Torchlight Parade. I wish I fucking had access to Twitter (HELLO TWITTER YOU HEAR ME? WHY WON'T YOU ACCEPT MY MOBILE NUMBER ANYMORE???). I had lots of reports this hovering over my neighborhood, big throaty military helicopters. All hovering over the Nobel Institute, which is apparently a lot closer to my apartment than I thought. And I couldn't Tweet any of it.

Also? Snipers. snipers all over the place in Oslo to protect the Prez. Yeah, I am going out where I might get sniped. There might also be tear gas and the cops have guns today. And there will be protesters, too. And here we come, little happy paraders, singing our little happy parade songs. (Yes, the parade sings a song to the Nobel winner. Sweet, no?

I'm bringing my camera and my cell phone and a hat and some cash. No bag, in case they want to search me or something. I'll try to send pictures of the mayhem from my cell as it goes on.

Wish me tweet-free luck.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

...but i forget, you might be interested in other stuff, like Obama coming to Oslo

So, President Obama will be in Oslo tomorrow. The whole city is gonna be shut down. I know a bunch of people who are not gonna make it to work because of the trains and trams being shut down. The whole center of Oslo is under lock down.

I live not far from the American Embassy, which is, as you may know, a total eyesore on the face of Oslo (which is not that pretty of a city when compared to the rest of Europe, all told.) Tomorrow will basically just be an extension of the bullshit that you go through with the American Embassy.

However, because I am a glutton for punishment, I am going to try to join the traditional annual Nobel Torchlight Parade. Every year on December 10th, a bunch of people gather to walk from Youngstorget (a square not far away) to the Grand Hotel, where the Peace Prize winner comes out on a balcony and waves to the crowd. I've gone on a few of them, most notably Jimmy Carter's. (Mostly memorable because that was when a society lady in her mink standing next to me had her hair catch on fire from a candle. I put it out, though she didn't understand, at first, why I was beating her on the head. She was getting mad at me, then I yelled FIRE and she caught on. Her hair smoked for about 20 minutes afterwards. She had one of those high boufy older lady hairdos that uses lots of hairspray, which is why it caught fire so easily I think.) This year might be a bit hairy though (no pun intended), with protesters and pepper spray and what have you. At the first sign of overcrowding or chemicals, I am OUT of there.

I don't know if I will get any pictures but will try.

The clunkety clunk of upstairs elephants

World full of Christmas charm up here in Oslo today.

I cleaned, I scrubbed, I decorated, I'm pooped.

I found out it takes an hour and a half to vacuum this new apartment. (I've done parts of it but not all in one go.) An hour and a half! I am not sure why it takes so long, but it's something about the circuitous nature of the place. It's all right angles, corners, nooks and crannies. Those crannies are a bitch to vacuum. Damn crannies.

I mopped all the floors with lavender scented natural French soap and scrubbed the bathrooms. Then I got going and decorated the dining room with the new stuff I bought before I went to the US. I bought some cute black, red and white linens that are Christmasy without being too cheesy. I had fun hanging little red and silver balls all over the very posh and staid chandelier. It took it down a notch in seriousness. I hung disco balls from the wings of the eagle at the top...hehe. I feel a bit like I decorated the Queen of England with Silly String.

While I did all this I had the music CRANKED. I like to dance while I clean. I figure, the upstairs and downstairs neighbors are so loud all the time, I can be noisy one damned day. Neighbors? Meet the Dali speakers. Why yes, they DO have punchy bass and crisp high end sound, don't they? You wanna hear it better? No? Oh damn, sorry, I can't hear you. My dance music mixed with punk and metal is too loud for me to hear anything. What? You might not like Goth Industrial? You don't like Godsmack? Well, shoot. Sorry about that. I sure like it when you play Europe "The Final Countdown" at full blast. I'm just returning the favor.

But now I'm quiet again and the elephants upstairs are stomping around in their military boots, high heels and Panzers.

It was nice going through the ornaments and Christmas stuff. I haven't looked at much of it in many years, apparently some time in the 90's. I have an ornament from 1999 and I think that is the last time I did anything for Christmas. (It's pretty funny, that ornament, a CD with a clay Santa wrapped around it. The CD? A Compuserve software CD. Talk about a time capsule!) I also put out some of the old German wooden stuff I got from my Mom. That stuff's been around since I was a little kid.

So now the tree is up, ornaments on, garland around the fireplace, and sparkly stuff all around the house. I know it's Norwegian tradition to put up the tree around the 23rd, but I am not gonna do all that work just to take it all down again a few days later. I'm enjoying it for as long as I can.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Office puppy

Office puppy, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Here's our new office puppy. Belly rubbing is happening at the workplace. And licking and cuddling too. She uses tongue. I don't.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Well THAT was interesting

I went out last night for a Christmas party with my book club. Man do we bookish types know how to party. I literally staggered home around 3am.

Things I learned/saw/discovered last night:
  • Oslo is a strange place at 3am.
  • The streets are heaving with people.
  • I had no idea a city could be that busy at that time.
  • Sidewalks were packed.
  • Drunk people everywhere.
  • I was one of them.
  • People were pretty friendly.
  • Well, the guys were friendly. I think they were looking for that last minute hook up.
  • One guy offered to give me chlamydia. He said it was high quality.
  • I turned him down.
  • I think that was the right choice.
  • I came home with Christmas tree balls attached to my ears.
  • Big red ones.
  • I sort of forgot they were there (I stole them from a tree at a bar) until I went to bed and couldn't figure out what those hard lumps were on either side of my head.
  • Maybe that's why so many people were trying to talk to me...I had big balls.
  • I drunk dialed some people in Austin as I walked home.
  • Sorry, y'all.
  • As I walked home I felt something soft wrap around my ankles. Then suddenly I couldn't walk very well.
  • Well, maybe I should say I started walking worse then I already was.
  • I looked down in confusion.
  • My slip had fallen off...just fell right to my ankles, there on the street.
  • This would normally be an embarrassing occurrence, but; a) I was drunk and, b) I had the giggles.
  • A guy very nicely helped me remove it. He held me up while I stepped out of it.
  • We both laughed.
  • I stuck the slip (well named, now, I think) into my coat pocket and carried on staggering.
  • It was impossible for me to walk in a straight line last night. No matter how hard I tried, it just didn't happen. This made me giggle.
  • I got home drunk as a skunk to a bemused Richard.
  • I told him about the slip thing...and then I started laughing.
  • I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.
  • For about an hour.
  • I couldn't help it, every time I thought of the slip falling off, it set me to giggling again.
  • He really didn't know what to think.
  • I've always been a happy drunk, but last night reached new levels.
  • I finally fell asleep around 4am.
  • I got up at 11. I'm not sure if I am hungover or if I am still drunk. I think a bit of both.
  • Being jet lagged drunk is very odd. I had tons of energy and as partying goes, it was a perfect storm of a night. I just kept going and going and going.
  • I'll pay for that later, I think.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Big head Phil

Big head Phil, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Party back in Oslo. The jet lag makes everything funny.

Got Milk?

Get your milk on Amazon!

(Go to the link, read the reviews. The reviews are what kill me.)

For further Amazon giggles, go here.

Who knew Amazon could be so much fun...even without spending money?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Always a 'no' unless you ask

My strictest life rule is that you always get a no for an answer, unless you ask otherwise. So why not ask for what you want? The worse that happens is that you end up where you started. The best is, say, an upgrade to business class on your long haul flight from Dallas to London.


That will be the third time I have flown business this year. I could REALLY get used to that. It makes it so that I am not completely useless when I get to my destination. And it helps the jet lag go away faster.

Plus? I got to see two movies I have been DYING to see: "The September Issue" and "Up". I didn't get to finish "Up" but it sure had me crying for the first half hour or so. I need to get it for Rich and I to watch. The "September Issue" was total fashion geek out...loved loved loved it.

Plus? Champagne, Kir Royales, tuna tartare, wild mushroom rigatoni in a fresh tomato sauce, red wine, white wine, truffles, fresh fruit, hot towels for my face and hands, a lie flat bed (I actually slept!), access to the lounge at Heathrow with free cappucinos, breakfast, drinks and wifi. Not to mention no additional fees for luggage and use of the Fast Track line at security. That flight went all too fast, I could have hung out a bit longer. Compare that to the ENDLESS flight to Houston on the way out. Argh.

I'm sort of thinking that maybe it ends up being cheaper to fly business (if you get it on sale) when you factor in the cost of all the freebies. Especially the luggage. Hmm... I wonder if they have showers here? I could use one.

So now I am waiting for the last flight of the adventure, the one back to Oslo. I'm told it is snowing and very VERY cold there right now. As it will be for the next 5 months.

I'm glad I had this time away to look back on in the cold days ahead.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Upgraded!, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Now to live like the other half. I get to sleep!

The record stands

I have never, not once, had a flight out of Springfield airport be on time. Unfortunately, the lateness is usually quite large, at least an hour.

Today is no different.

I think the only reason I don't complain as loudly here as I would at other airports is that there is free wifi at SGF....which helps make the time pass.

It'll be a bit dicey for my connection in Dallas...and I have lost my window for Mexican food, which I was going to get at that airport.

I am traveling again. Hello world. I've bust out of the coccoon of relaxation.

UPDATE, one hour later.
So now the flight is over an hour and a half late. They won't rebook me on a new, later connecting flight as I haven't missed the connection yet. They want to make me run for the BA flight first before they'd consider rebooking me on an American flight in a class I paid for! (I fly economy extra on BA which translates to business on AA. But they don't want to waste that seat on someone like me.) Cocksuckers!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Last day in the US

I go back to Norway tomorrow.

This last day of a long visit is always a bit melancholy. I have to face the packing....oy the packing!... and tie up all those last bits and bobs that need tying. Mom always plans a last minute visit with some of her friends to 'show me off' to them. They have a deal that when one of their kids comes in to town, they always have to bring the kids around to show off to other members of their little offspring show and tell group. (Note. By 'kids' I mean grown ups in their 40's and up...but I guess we are kids to our parents and always will be.) Usually Mom likes me to dress up but I am too damned cold right now for got chilly here in the country. I might have to do a last minute run to Malwart for a few foodie things I want to bring back. (Pillsbury cookie dough and cinnamon rolls! Even though they do explode in my suitcase, if one makes it, I am happy.) Another part of me says, "Fuck it. You can always figure out a substitute in Norway. Once you start seeing all the things you can't have in Norway, you just always get upset." Oh for some goddamned Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage in Norway!

Yesterday Mom and I had our Mother Daughter day in Springfield. We have a routine...we hit some shops, have lunch, get a Starbucks. These are all things Mom never gets to do as usually Dad is with her when she goes to town. Dad is not known for patience with shopping or looking around. (What man is?) So it's nice for Mom to get to have some girl time, and I get to spend time with her, so win win! I've showed her, also, the virtues of Target over Walmart. She's a big Target fan now...unfortunately they only have Walmart where they live. But when she goes to the big city, she too, can wander the aisles of Target and fill up her red basket to her heart's content.

I went back to Banana Republic and bought some more of their awesome costume jewelry. My fashion tip for you, right now? Check out BR's jewelry! They have some very gorgeous, funky, vintage inspired pieces that are These things are instant collectibles. I bought a necklace there that literally stopped people in their tracks when I wore it. It looks like 5 vintage rhinestone brooches attached as a is sparkly as all get out and amazing. Even MEN noticed it (and they noticed it independent of my cleavage...I swear!) I could make a necklace like that, of course, but this one is so much fun, why take all my grandmother's stuff apart when this one is ready to go? Of course, all this bling must fit in the luggage somewhere, right now I am thinking carry on.

This trip was all about restoration. I knew I was stressed. I knew I was worn out and a bit demoralized. I knew I needed a holiday from EVERYTHING. I knew I needed to get away from my job, Norway and my daily life for a while. I needed to remind myself about who I am and what I enjoy doing, independent of anyone else. What I didn't realize was just HOW stressed and burnt out I was until... I wasn't anymore. I actually feel rejuvenated. I feel refreshed. I can go back to Norway, enjoy my job again, enjoy my friends and my husband again, and feel grateful for what I have and my expat life, knowing that here in the US I have family and friends who will always have my back and will be there for me. I'm so fucking lucky.