Friday, September 28, 2012

Spot the goofball

Marla and I took some fun pictures of us hiding behind trees that we called "spot the goofball".

The two above are of me at Hill of Tara (top) and at Glendalough.

It's a Marlachaun! (At Hill of Tara.)

Some scenes from our last night in Dublin

I am rather loving the new camera. Holy shit, look at these night shots I got. Night shots from Dublin, when we got back from the trip to Hill of Tara and Newgrange. We were STARVING and had not eaten anything all day, not breakfast, not lunch, anything, except a Twix bar each, and finally ended up having the best meal at this place called the Winding Stairs. And boy did we deserve it. 

 View at dusk over the Liffey. 

 A really cool shot of the moon over Dublin. Can you believe this camera? I honestly give myself no credit in this, except for being smart enough to buy the camera (Panasonic Lumix, GET ONE.)

Another view of the moon over the Liffey, I mean, SERIOUSLY?  

The restaurant had a big shelf full of wines, and it looked lovely with the candlelight, the wine glasses and the dark wood. 

Glasses, wine, flowers. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The wind in the trees at the Hill of Tara.

I was here in 2004, and it was incredibly moving. I wanted to come back, and I am so glad I did. The trees and the wind and the feeling of life, space, movement, time. It is a holy place, a place where you contemplate existence and realize the absolute stupidity of the small shit in life.

I will confess, I had a moment, under one of these holy trees, where I lost myself in tears and emotion, the sound of the tress is all enveloping and I just let my emotions go where they wanted to go. Pretty sure if anyone was watching they might have thought I was insane, as i went from crying to laughing to crying again. I just leaned against the tree and let the sound of the wind envelope me. I feel something in places like this, and I think if I were to be religious, it would be as a Druidic nature worshipper, I think.

I can honestly say I don't care what anyone would have thought. This place imprints itself on you and you never forget it.


IMG-20120926-02146.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02146.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Ancient site in Ireland.....Gorgeous.



IMG-20120926-02156.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02156.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Ancient high cross, 10th century.


HIll of Tara

IMG-20120926-02158.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02158.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
We had a nice weather window.

Hill of Tara.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wicklow, Ireland

IMG-20120924-02041.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120924-02041.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Wicklow, Ireland

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Alien attack

IMG-20120919-02002.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120919-02002.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

This fell out of a tree and hit me on the head the other day. Like an alien missile. It really hurt!

his and hers

IMG-20120920-02003.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120920-02003.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

His and hers Vespas. Cute!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In which I suck.

Today I found out that I suck at dancing burlesque. Yet another form of dancing that is off my list. (That is pretty much all of them, by the way. I suck at them all, and I have tried many. Oh I have always wanted to dance beautifully, but my body has other ideas. My brain is graceful. My body? Nope.)

I might be a little unfair with myself on this. I think that I may have unknowingly put myself in a position in which I was guaranteed to suck. Here's the deal:

I signed up for a Burlesque class at the gym. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and based on prior gym experiences, I figured it would be sort of a Zumba aerobics class kind of thing, where you incorporate some old skool Dita Von Teese burlesque moves into a workout routine. ( I sucked at that, too, but mildly, so I didn't beat myself up about it.) Or maybe it would be like the belly dance class I took, where over 2 months we slowly built up a routine and I really did learn some fun belly dance moves and had a great time learning a classically beautiful form of dance, in a fun supportive atmosphere. I can dance if you give me time to figure it out and train my body to do the moves. I CAN, I really CAN.

Yeah, no. Not this time. This was a full on DANCE class, like for a Christina Aguilera style video. Very fast, very frenetic. Not at all what I was expecting. No Dita Von Teese in sight, anywhere. No fans, no feathers, just sweat and confusion.  Like, you learn the routine with the (very gay, fabulous and funny) dance instructors speaking dancer, where they go "Bah boom PAH boom boom DAH, foot and BEND, and TURN", and you move to their beats. You are supposed to catch on to a complex sequence of movements after 2 quick demonstrations. There were actual dancers in that class, you could tell, they were pirouetting and step-ball-changing their asses off. Real dancers, not just gym people.

Ever seen "So You Think You Can Dance"? You know when they send the auditioning dancers they are unsure of to choreography and they have half an hour to learn a routine for a dance style they have never done before? And Mia Michaels talks all dancer-y and yells at them and they just get it and do it? THIS CLASS WAS LIKE THAT. And I just could not do it.  (So I Think I Can't Dance.)

How much of not a dancer am I? Here's a short list.

  • When I was 6 years old I was kicked out of ballet class by the Russian ballet teacher my mom paid a lot of money for me to see. She said I had no talent and I was a waste of her time.
  • I was also kicked out of the concurrent tap class, same teacher, same reason. (I hated tap, it was no loss.)
  • In college, to make up a credit I was missing in order to graduate, I took a modern dance class thinking it would be an easy way for me to get the credit and not use my brain so much. Boy was *I* wrong on that. That class was EXCRUCIATING. We ran and jumped and I had to wear uncomfortable tight things so the teacher could see our 'form' (this was the 80's, I didn't do tight) and my lycra-clad ass could not do the running splits and jumps and graceful falls and whatever the fucks we were expected to do. I was in tears whenever I had to go to the fucking class, in a hot old un-airconditioned gym in Austin, Texas. In summer. It was 100F in there, all the time. It was death. I hated it. I finally went to the teacher and begged to be able to just write a paper about Martha Graham instead of having to do the fucking dancing, since I was an English major and writing was what I did.. He agreed, and I wrote him the best damn paper he had ever SEEN on modern dance in America, and he gave me a passing grade in the class. 
  • In aerobics class, I am that girl who falls off the step, who goes the wrong way and who can never manage the turns and the cross over step kicks, confusing everyone around her. My friend Margaret B will attest to this. She was back in the back of the class with me, doing the same thing. God I miss her, a friend you fall off a step with is a friend for life.
So imagine me in this burlesque class, with the wonderful, lovely gay teachers speaking Norwegian (apparently I understand burlesque på norsk)(ass is rumpe), and we're doing all the bending over and pirouetting (which makes me dizzy) and sexy arm things and leg extensions and whatever the fuck all that shit is called, to the blaring sounds of Christina Fucking Aguilara singing "Burlesque". And that song plays over and over and over and I really, truly am doing my best to get it but the room is crowded and hot, I can't see the teacher, we are going too fast and HELLO I AM IN MY 40'S AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON. (I hate that song, now, btw.)

I determinedly spun and pirouetted and shook and shimmied and booty popped (the one thing I really truly could do) but I was always at least a half beat behind everyone else and generally facing the wrong way. I always under spin or over spin or spin the wrong way. (I hate spinning. No more spinning for me. I am done with that shit.) I wanted to be all, "Well, white girls can't dance", but of course, everyone else in the class was whiter than me, being all blonde and Viking and shit, so I didn't even have that excuse. Shit. There was a squatty sort of leg spready move that I managed to do ok, finally, when I realized that when Xtina shrieked "SEX" in the song, I was to do that move right when she shrieked. So I copped my squat and spread 'em. (I only fell once.)

I was terrible. Maybe, if I had a one on one with the teachers, for, like, a week, I could've done it. MAYBE. But in an hour? No fucking way. 

I came out of that class with a HUGE grin on my face, because, honestly, you have to acknowledge when you suck that bad. I was giddy with suck. I embraced my inner suck. I laughed all the way home, goofy smile on my face, actually, because I sucked so hard that I am like, the Queen of Suck. Nobody is better at sucking than me. (Um, you know what I mean....)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why I am not reading "50 Shades of Grey", a review of "Story of O"

Warning: This post deals with an 'adult' topic. If you are my parents, friends of my parents, or anyone who would go 'ew' if I discuss something of a sexual nature, GO AWAY NOW. 

For those left, howdy. Here's a book review I have been mulling over in my head, whether to post or not. But, hell, I've been writing about Oslo for so long, how about a change of scenery? Wanna talk erotica?

I am sure, unless you live under a rock, that you have heard about this series of novels called "50 Shades of Grey".  I know I have. I have heard about them, had them recommended to me and also had them severely UNrecommended to me, have seen spoofs, satires, twitterfakes, and oh-so-many take-offs on the theme. I've heard Ellen Degeneres read excerpts. I've heard Donald Duck read excerpts. And I have heard, hilariously, Elmer Fudd read excerpts.  I've read criticisms, literary discussions, heard podcasts, seen discussions on tv. Talked about it at work, with family, friends and strangers on busses who were reading it.

And I STILL don't want to read it, for a variety of reasons. Mostly, of course, that they come from "Twilight" fan fiction, and I fucking HATED the Twilight series, and I really gave it the old college try, I read them all. I hated Bella, hated Edward, hated the writing style, hated those awful fucking twinkling vampires and wimpy ass Bella and her virginal idiocy. (My 3 word review of the Twilight series? "JUST FUCK ALREADY".) So why on EARTH would I want to read smut that stems from those books? Especially BDSM smut, a genre which I am not too familiar with, but if I *am* going to read it, I am not going to start off reading it from a launching pad which I already despise?

Now, saying that I haven't read much BDSM, does NOT mean that I haven't read stuff. I've read "Fanny Hill". I've read the Marquise de Sade (left me kind of cold, that). I've read Choderlos de Laclos. I've read Nancy Friday's stuff. I have Anais Nin around here somewhere. I have some blogs I read online, too, some of the choicest modern erotica available,  truly gorgeous stuff.  (I suppose, with my English major background, I tend to the classics, even in my smut. I like a well-written story.)

So I ain't an innocent. But I *am* ornery, and I don't want to read something just because everyone else is, you know? Anyhow, in a bunch of reviews I read about "50 Shades of Grey" , many of the reviewers said to just cut to the chase and read the original, classic BDSM novel, "The Story of O". So I did. And I can't get it out of my fucking mind. (If you haven't read it, I am not going into plot details here.)

Rarely have I been so turned on and shocked by a book all at once. There were scenes that had me practically panting, and then a page later, a scene that had me cringing, wondering why was 'O" such an idiot, how could she DO that. And then she would go off and be sensible about the sick thing she was doing, and dammit, it made sense, even if it didn't. I think I was freaked out because I understood her, even though I really, truly, honestly, did not WANT to understand her. But I did, because of her essential femininity and her desire to love and please and be loved. What woman doesn't want that? What woman doesn't, at some point, even if she maybe never actually does it, want to prove her love in any way possible, would do almost anything to show her devotion?

But "O", she took it to an extreme, to a sometimes very sick extreme, in ways that I was shocked that an author, in 1954, would even have had the imagination to create. I mean, wow. 1954? I still can't get over it. But there was beauty in even the ugliest scene, the sharpness of the author's prose  was exquisite, (a woman who still remains anonymous to this day) and the clarity of "O's" character, her sometimes surprisingly calculating strength, her surety of her power even as she was moved me. Even as I resisted being moved by it.

When I was in college I spent a few years studying the role of women in Western Civilization, especially the idea of women in early Christianity and the very narrow and defined roles they were forced to play. (Mother, Daughter, Virgin, Wife, Queen, Nun, Whore, Mystic, Midwife, Witch). "O" reminds me of one of the early Christian Mystics, the women who hurled themselves into their religion with an insane focus, giving themselves up body and soul to their personal version of Christ and God. They were Brides of Christ, and literally broke themselves to prove their devotion, their dominion over their earthly bodies, to attain that higher plane of existence where they rose above mere physicality into something 'other'. "O" was a throwback to that crazed dedication. Her very weakness in doing whatever these men wanted was strangely her strength. In letting them treat her so badly, she ennobled herself, somehow, and rose above their baseness. Their primitive, animalistic and objectified treatment of her only increased her nobility, her affecting aloofness. She broke herself with love, she burned herself on the pyre of devotion, she scourged herself with sex in every sick and perverse form that could be devised, everything to rise above her mortal self,  just as those early religious mystics did (though obviously, not sexually). It really was a sick and twisted version of martyrdom, martyrdom to love and adoration above the mere physical, even though it was so rooted in sexual physicality as to be painful to the observer.

I read it two weeks ago. I still can't stop thinking about it. I hate "O", and I worry about "O", I admire "O",  and I understand her even as I revile her.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dyna Fyr

I went to Dyna Fyr 2 years ago when my dear (and now living in Montreal) friend Elaina invited me and some friends to go. I remember it as a truly great evening, one of the best I have had in Norway, so when I saw they were accepting bookings again, of course I jumped on it and booked. I brought 4 friends: Sue, Tove, Karen and Gilly, and as I suspected, Dyna Fyr did not disappoint.  Dyna Fyr is one of those experiences everyone in Oslo wishes they had done, but never get around to? Most of the people there said they had always wanted to go, but never got around to it until now.  They all know about the cute lighthouse in the fjord, but with the rarity of available reservations, not that many get the time or the chance to go there. All I can say is, if you ever get the chance, GO.

Hereby, some pictures.

 Me looking very hairy and a bit mischievous. This was after maybe 3 glasses of wine. I'm not actually sure how much I had as they refilled my glass so much it never emptied. No matter how hard I tried to empty it. I kept trying to drink it down and it miraculously filled again. 

 View back to Oslo and the castle. Norwegian flag proudly waving. 

 Approaching the lighthouse. One of the stories told about the family that lived there 100 years ago was that the mom (they had 4 kids) couldn't swim, but she thought her kids should know how, them living in the fjord and all. So to teach them to swim, she tied a rope around them and tossed them into the water. If they started to drown, she hauled them back up. Seems a rather brilliant, if rough, way to learn!

 They served us lashings of white, red, and sparkling wine, plus port and baileys/cognac. Then Karen and I had the brilliant idea (after meeting a friend of hers on the tram home) to stop at a bar for a further rosé nightcap. No, your Karla is NOT smart. Today was PAINFUL. 

 View out the window, towards the sunset. 

 Out on the back deck, sunset. W had dinner inside, it was quite chilly and it had bucketed down rain just half an hour before we caught the boat out to the lighthouse. 

 As the evening progressed and more wine was imbibed, ladies got cheekier and cheekier. Here's Gilly and Karen snuggling up. 

 Tove and I striking a pose. We weren't quite drunk yet, though were working hard towards achieving that goal. 
The sky was pink and gold after the sudden sharp rainstorm that swept through just before we boarded the boat out to the lighthouse. 

Dusk on the fjord. It was an extraordinarily beautiful sunset. 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

My Top 25 on iTunes

Went to the gym and just let the iPod play my top 25 list. Realized that most of them are in that list because they are good workout, walking or dancing songs. Some I have had for a very long time, (like NIN Closer) and others, like all the She Wants Revenge, are new to my list, but obviously, I am listening to it a lot. Anyhow, with the exception of a few things, I tend towards a definite gothy/dancey kind of music when I work out. (I try not to pole dance when I listen to Peaches.) It's hard for me to hold still when I have the music cranked, I am sure I get funny looks at the gym as I quietly do a seated grind as I do my chest presses! My booty likes the music.

YKK                              Fluke
Let It Rock             Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Fresh Blood             Eels
Monkey                     Robert Plant Band of Joy
(Jungle Law)             Love & Rockets
Grounds for Divorce      Elbow
Bad Things             Jace Everett
Jump                          Madonna
This S'it Will Fcuk You Up     Combichrist
Electric Blue                     Fluke
Snapshot                     Fluke
Closer                     Nine Inch Nails
I Put A Spell On You           Marilyn Manson
The Night We Nearly Got Busted Alabama 3
A Forest                             Blank & Jones Feat. Robert Smith
Love Me Or Hate Me Remix Lady Sovereign Feat. Missy Elliott
Woke Up This Morning     Alabama 3
Animal Attraction              She Wants Revenge
I Stay Away             Alice In Chains
Tent in Your Pants             Peaches
Power In the Blood     A3
Angry Chair                     Alice In Chains
A Little Bit Harder Now       She Wants Revenge
Take the World              She Wants Revenge
Show Me How to Live           Audioslave

Monday, September 03, 2012

Mushroom hunting, a Norwegian tradition

IMG-20120903-01913.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120903-01913.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Went mushroom hunting after work today. Fun. We had a mushroom expert with us, who steered us away from the killer shrooms, and taught us how to identify the edible ones. (Basic, very basic, rule of thumb is avoid the white ones.) They take mushroom hunting pretty seriously around here, everyone has their 'secret' place that they go to every year, some many miles away, and tell no one, for fear of someone finding their secret place and bogarting their shrooms. The ones above are chanterelle and "piggsopp" for which I do not have a translation.

Here, also, is a picture of another type of mushroom I found, the very rare, and much sought after "Norwegian Buttshroom".

The infamous "buttshroom". on Twitpic

My hair is full of brush, sticks and leaves from roaming the forest, ducking through bushes and under trees, and digging in the dirt. My legs are scratched up and I have some mosquito bites too.  I look pretty wild. Don't care.

 It was a gorgeous day and I found dinner, I feel like a huntress. I made a wicked wild mushroom risotto, something I used to make all the time, but haven't made in over a year because of the carbs. It was tasty, but I do feel rather carby overloaded right now. Still, I was proud that the mushrooms in the risotto were picked by me, and any grit we found in the risotto was good Norwegian forest grit, honestly found and proudly, er, gritted.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Norwegian Air Force Day

IMG-20120901-01901.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120901-01901.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

At Aker Brygge for an airshow celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Air Force. Planes for the boys to look at, and boys in uniform for the girls. A proudly equal opportunity day for all.