Thursday, May 31, 2012

crazy beautiful

IMG-20120531-01433.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120531-01433.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Wow, the weirdest thing just happened. I went out on the balcony to water the flowers and saw that it was raining. Well, it was raining and the sun was out and there was a rainbow right over me. It was stunningly lovely. Then I looked again.

Wait, what? It was only raining in a 10 sq ft area, right off my balcony. Wtf? A tiny little rain shower, concentrated right in that small area, only there, right centered as if it was for me alone. I peered up and over and it wasn't coming from the roof, it was coming from the sky. No rain just a few feet to the left or right. A guy on his bike road by on the sidewalk, below me, and rode right through the little shower, looked up confusedly as he got spritzed, and carried on. The shower lasted 10 minutes or so, just a little tiny micro-rain.

I have seen some strange concentrated showers before (once in Austin it rained in my front yard, but not in the back) but never one this small. You can see below, on the street, where it is wet, and then dry all around.

So crazy. So beautiful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

muscles., construction and flowers

Perhaps it was a mistake to go have a workout today where I concentrated on my legs, when afterwards I just had to run up and down five flights of stairs 20 times moving stuff from the basement to the attics. It's like doing Stairmaster after a heavy workout AND a bike ride.

Our building is going to have yet ANOTHER round of construction work done to it, and this time it's pretty major. Right now they are re-roofing, which entails scaffolding and the constant sound of slate being cut and stuff falling from the roof. Starting June 1 they are going to tear up the basement (hence us moving all of our stuff out of storage down there), and dig all around the base of the building, and in the courtyard, and will close the coffee shop downstairs, as they rebuild the 120 year old foundations. Apparently the whole building is on wooden piers and they need to be replaced with concrete. Of course, I upped the insurance, I mean, what if the whole joint collapses? That loveliness is due to continue until the end of November.

Yippee. It seems I am just never going to find a peaceful, quiet, non-construction zone place to live in Norway. At least I'm getting some good workouts out of it. That's something, right?

Speaking of workouts, yesterday I rode my bike over to where the flower and plant sellers hangout by the Oslo Cathedral and bought my summer balcony plants. (See previous picture.) It took a bit of thinking as to how I was going to carry 12 plants home on my bike, but I rigged a basket on the back and loaded them up carefully. I felt so bloody cliché European, riding my bike with baskets full of flowers, down the (really very rough) cobbled streets and trying not to mow down the dawdling tourists. It was fun, and something I have always wanted to do. I only needed a big baguette sticking off the back to finish the picture I have always carried in my head. I am definitely in much better shape than last year, I can ride my bike anywhere and have very few problems with the hills, unlike last summer where they killed me. Well, they still hurt, and I huff and puff, of course, but I can make it up the hill without walking the bike, so that is progress. My legs are so much stronger now, I can see the definition and I am no longer sore after a ride.

I came home, got into my bikini, and pottered about in the sun filling the balcony planters with fresh dirt, pelargoniums and some other little flowers, all in shades of fuschia and pink. I miss real gardening, so for right now I just have to content myself with the balcony plants and the occasional extra pot or two. That's ok, at least I got to get my hands dirty in the cool dark dirt.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Flower day...transport

IMG-20120527-01423.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120527-01423.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Time to plant the balcony flowers! When I bought this bike, I imagined it looking just like this on a summer day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

vintage summer

IMG-20120526-01391.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120526-01391.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Today's outfit ca 1979 Greek Islands gauze halter and maxi skirt that my mother -in -law gave me. It's a heatwave in Oslo!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Crazy, heady days of summer

Summer has hit Oslo with a body slam of no small force.

WHAM! and it's warm. In fact, it's not even warm, it's pretty hot. Today it's supposed to hit 30C. That's above 80F for you US types. Now, I know, 80F doesn't seem that hot, until you realize that generally there is no air conditioning here, except in office buildings, and so it gets pretty warm in people's homes. Houses and apartments here are designed to keep IN warmth, not breathe it out, so it gets really hot inside.

Last night, for example, I had the windows open full bore in the bedroom, but no air came in whatsoever, it was a breezeless night, and I was uncomfortably hot.

It lead to a sleepless night.

But I got up this morning, and insouciantly tossed on a white linen sundress, bounced out of the flat with wet hair,  got on my bike, and rode to work, the breeze drying my hair, the sun warming my skin.  I think that just that ease of getting dressed in 15 minutes and not having to layer on 40 different types of clothes, is worth a little bit of sleeplessness.

And yeah, you can see a LOT of skin around Oslo right now. All the women are using every excuse to wear their showiest, flirtiest sundresses, and all the guys are hard at work showing off their pecs and toned abs. It makes for a VERY pleasant atmosphere of beautiful people watching. In general, the people watching here is some of the best in the world, perhaps, maybe, Stockholm excepted. (GOD people are gorgeous in Stockholm.)

I went to the park yesterday (see previous picture of my little parking space) and the park was PACKED with bikini and shorts clad people, white skin everywhere, as far as the eye could see. It was the whitest place I have ever been. Almost everyone had 'engangsgriller' (one use grills) and were happily grilling hot dogs and meats, drinking beer or water, and playing soccer (oh and I found out too late there were RUGBY PLAYERS having a practice, damn I was in the wrong place to see that!). I was there for a few hours, wishing someone would bring me rose, (no luck) and finally left when the smoke from 1000 little grills got a bit thick, and also, made me hungry what with all that roasty food smell.

I decided yesterday I need a minion, preferably a nice, loin-cloth clad, strong-handed male minion, who can bring me chilled wine, rub sunscreen on the places I can't get to, bring me morning coffee or sushi when wanted, and generally act to smooth the way for me so that I may waft about oblivious and pampered. I would be nice to my minion, I really would. He wouldn't even have to be an evil minion, just slightly naughty. I'd never make him do anything too onerous, he'd mostly be there to take care of the small tasks I abhor, carry things, find places for all my shoes which keep escaping their storage, and do the occasional unguent-application and back scratching, and perhaps read to me and tell me stories. In today's economy, I wonder if I could get a minion at a decent market rate?


IMG-20120524-01375.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120524-01375.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

My parking place.....

Monday, May 21, 2012


IMG-20120521-01367.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120521-01367.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Fucking gorgeous roses.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I want to be just like my mom

Today is Mother's Day in the US. I won't go into my feelings on why or why not one day a year is even enough to tell someone like a mother thank you, or why in general days like this drive me nuts because it's so manufactured and false, and that I think if you love someone you should show them that love EVERYDAY, and if you want to send them a gift just SEND IT and don't wait for a retail-sanctioned holiday. Ok, well I kind of did go into my feelings on that, whatever, I'll stop. (gets off high horse)(trips and falls. I never was much for horses)

So, my mom. She's fucking awesome. Granted, we hated each other from my age 13 to about 17 (I was a total and complete pain in the ass and I still wonder why she didn't just cage me up and leave me for the dogs to gnaw on). Mom didn't understand my American teenage ways, her being post-war German, and I didn't understand her making fun of my American teenage ways. I mean, there I was, angsting over if that guy liked me, or if my butt looked big, or if my hair looked JUST so, and she grew up worrying about having enough food or if she would get a new pair of shoes that year. I was a spoiled little prat, and she was just wondering what the hell she foisted onto the world when she made me. Here's Mom at about age 16. It's a black and white photo, but what is not shown is the wondrous deep red of her hair. (Mom says that when God was giving out hair (and ass), someone in our family went through the line twice.) The woman has HAIR. Huge thick curly red HAIR. They called her Simba (the lion) when she was growing up. 

Mom met my Dad in the 60's and he brought her over to the US. It was a hard time for her, being an immigrant, but she jumped in and made her life. She was told, for a variety of reasons, she would never be able to have kids, so imagine her surprise when she found out she was pregnant with 5 months along. She had no idea. So from being a woman who would never have kids, she actually ended up having two of the biggest, liveliest, healthiest kids imaginable. (My brother came along 16 months after me.)

The picture below is from when I was about 11 or so. I'm not entirely sure. It's from the days when we all wore prairie style clothes inspired by "Little House on the Prairie" and it's obviously right before I became a snarling teenage arsehole beast, because she and I are smiling at each other. (Well, she's smiling, I am obviously trying to hide the piece of cake I had just shoved in my cakehole.) Poor Mom. What an out-and-out HOTTIE she is, here, I mean, that body? That hair? And here she has this great galumphing still-growing cake-snorting lump of a daughter in glasses, some sort of braid, a prairie skirt and with absurdly large hands to drag around. If anything is going to cramp your style, it would have been me. However, I will say that if this is my genetic heritage, than WHA-HEY! Let's go with it.  Let that genetic lottery smack me right upside the head! Happy to accept! DAMN she's hot. Seriously. Hot.

I will say, the similarities in our appearance as I have gotten older are noticeable. I may not have quite the striking hottiness of mom, I mean, she is pretty damned unique in that, but this picture shows that blood will out. I was sent this picture by someone (my sister-in-law?) and didn't really notice how we are dressed the same, same expression, same jewelry style, same large hair, until it was pointed out to me. Then I was like, damn! That's kind of scary!

Below is a picture I took of Mom last November. In that strange quirk of time that happens as women and daughters get older, I think in this picture Mom is my age. I seem to get older but she never does. Hmm. I will say, she is like me in that it is hard to get a good picture of her. Which is why I have very few good shots of either of us. We both have very mobile, expressionistic faces, and it is hard to get a shot where we aren't looking like deers in headlights.

I love this picture of her. I took it with my brand new iTouch that I had just bought that day. We were walking the dogs in the woods, on my parents land in Missouri.  Just a test shot, and boom, there it was, my favorite picture of my mom. The way the light catches her hair, her expression which is at once inquisitive, welcoming, interested in what is around her (so her). I get a bit teary-eyed writing this. She's just so fucking awesome and I don't know that I will ever grow into the person that she is. The goofy, funny, gorgeous, strong, no-bullshit, generous, loving, supportive and wonderful person that she is. The woman who can still kick my ass (literally, she is strong, she can KICK MY ASS), but also soothe me with a hand on my forehead and, if we are not in the same country, our Saturday phone call.

(Ironically, I am not sure if Mom will see this. She has a laptop but never uses it. Maybe Dad will see this and get her to pause in her busy day for a minute or two to read it. Dad, can you tell Mom to read this?)  I love you Mom.  Not that I don't tell you that all the time. If I can be 1/10th the person you are, I consider my life well lived. Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

difference between Austin and Oslo, with regard to gym clothes

Going to the gym or out for a workout in Austin meant the following:

  • Find t shirt.
  • Find shorts
  • Sunscreen your face
  • Throw on sneakers
  • Go (you're just going to sweat, so why bother dressing up?)
Going to the gym in Oslo is substantially more fraught with etiquette, dress codes and pain in the assness: 
  • Observe weather.
  • If wet, carry sneakers and wear rain/snow boots, as the gym has a 'no outdoor shoes' policy so you have to make sure not to track in any wet on the gym floor.
  • If not wet, can dispense with boots, but...
  • Is it cold?
  • If yes, layers. 
  • Leggings or long gym pants, in requisite sweat-wicking sports fabric, plenty of lycra.
  • Tight tank top (must show off arms and toned abs at all times, no baggy shirts allowed for women) worn over sport bra or with sport bra built in.
  • Fleece over that (can't go OUTSIDE in a tight tank top)
  • Jacket over all.  
  • All the clothes must be the proper sort of 'sporty gym' clothes, as opposed to 'sporty bicycling', 'sporty walking', 'sporty running', 'sporty skiing" (that to be subdivided between x-country and downhill) or 'sporty hiking' outfits. Yes, the differences are there, they exist, and boy you better follow them or you will get looked at. You should see the looks I get riding my bike to work in (gasp!) STREET CLOTHES! I'm not kitted out in neon bicycle racing wear! How DARE I! (I'd look a right idiot if I did, it's a damn Dutch bike with a basket and flowers. Sport gear on that bike? yeah, no. It's a five minute ride to work, btw. Why would I change clothes?)
  • I always get looked at when I'm at the gym, anyhow. I dare to wear gym trousers that aren't leggings sometimes, they are more like those low rise baggy hip-hop tracky pants. I still wear them with the tight tank top, though. Can't risk too much opprobrium. 
 I am going to the gym today, and right now I am wearing a t-shirt and shorts. So in Austin I could pop right out the door and be done. But, no, I now need to go change and dress up for the gym. Luckily it's not raining, but it is a bit chilly, so no shorts today. 

Off I go, properly clad and wishing I could just be back in my t shirt.