Friday, January 23, 2009

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!

I have wandered the city and have discovered things that I find very interesting. So I call this blog..."Things that make you go Hmmm... or Ah ha!" It is definately up to you if you think it is totally cool or totally not cool. Of course, being the opinionated lady that I can be, I have given my opinion.

Enjoy!

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!



Being that I love my drink…this is definitely a big Hmmmm…. For me! LOL

In Norway, the state highly regulates alcohol. You can only purchase beer and some wine coolers (depending on the alcohol content) at grocery stores. To get liquor you have to go to what is called Vinemonoplet. It is a store run by government so highly regulated and you can get licquor and wine here. But NOT on Sundays and only during certain hours and they close at about 6p. Most places close here at 6:00p, all malls YUP, even malls…you cannot “shop” until 9 or 10 at night, unless you shop for groceries or go to a restaurant. Other than that…sorry buddy, your screwed. And liquor is so high priced that Norwegians try to get over to Sweden to get it cheaper. A cheap bottle of wine is about 73 Kroners which is about $15. No $7 bottle of wine here! My Skyy vodka here would be $50 and I pay $19 in the states. Hmmmm…..if you want to sober up, no rehabilitation required, just move to Norway! Ah ha!

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!



This is a toilette paper dispenser.

Kind of goofey, I know but I LOVED THIS. You know how MANY times in public restrooms you are spending minutes trying to get the fricken toilette paper out of the dispenser and it only gives you one square? And you are trying to move the whole damn thing and it is so tight it won’t move…no more one squarer’s here! No more "Can you spare a square" (For all of you Sienfield fans)Ah ha!

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!




Lets talk about signs—the first one says "BARN" I love this one!! Barn in Norwegian means children. This is at a restaurant, you can just drop your kid off. Inside is a play area and it even has video games (I have even seen adults playing the video games too…just saying) so the parents drop their kiddos off and enjoy a quiet meal. Ah ha! I am surprised that American’s have NOT thought of this idea…especially with how much we love to dine. And this isn’t at a McDonalds…this is at a place similar to a Fridays.

This green sign, maybe it is obvious to you all…but I was like—hmmm…am I supposed to run now? And if so, why am I running…for what? No, crazy American it means EXIT. Hmmm... I said, you know us Americans are stupid and we literally put “exit" on our "exit" signs. Then Petter made a good point, he said these signs are universal for all of Europe, so that if you go to London or Italy all the signs are the same and you understand because obviously the languages are different and nobody understand. Ah ha!!!!


Okay—I had to remark. The toilette and the shower are in the same place and well so is the basin. You can literally shit, shower and shave!! See how there is no distinction as to where the shower stops because it is all one floor—there are no boarders. So YUP, you got it, water tends to go everywhere. With them being very modern here in Norway and they are very proud of their architecture and design…well why the hell did they forget about the shower? I haven’t understood why this is? Am I missing something? I mean seriously; who has the time to clean up all of the water after you shower…obviously these Norwegians, have all the time in the world hmmmmmm…...

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!



I love this! This is two parked cars on the street. I will never drive here, these people are nuts. They have very small cars and zip around everywhere in any lane that they please just long as nobody is coming. And if somebody is coming your way, you just zip out of the way! And they park wherever they damn well please too. In Michigan, anyways you would be ticketed for parking like this. Hmmmm… or Ah ha! This could go either way depending on if you are a crazy driver. I tend to drive like a grandma so it is a Hmmmmm…to me.

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!



Okay, most of us our Michiganders and we can bear (pun intended) the snow…we are STRONG, we have walked in 10 feet of fricking snow, up hill both ways and have lived to tell about it!!!! And boy do we tell about it! I have been known to even wear my flip flops when it is like 35 degrees out. Well, we have nothing up on these Norwegians. They sit outside for dinner no matter how cold it is. The restaurant have blankets for them…no weenie outside heaters here, just good old company, drink, and blankets. (sorry, my camera doesn't work that well...but hopefully you get the idea.)

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!


Ahhhh…those crazy Europeans. Sex isn’t hidden in the back of the book store like it would be in America…nope Sex is right out in front the door before you even get into the bookstore and right next to the recipe books. I wonder if this was a marketing tool, cook your man dinner and enjoy sex as your dessert! Ah ha…or to some hmmmm….I vote Ah ha!

Things that make you go Hmmmm or Ah ha; you decide!



I love this idea. People on bikes or people with a baby stroller don’t have to try to figure out how the hell they are getting up the stairs with that thing…just wheel it up. Ah ha!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe





Of course...I had to stop. I did stop to have a Martini here, hoping that because it was a Hard Rock Cafe, they may know how to make a martini. No luck. :-(

I want to live here!


What a nice quaint place, I wonder what these apartments look like!

Peppes Pizza





My first time out by myself. It was a Sunday and not much is open unless you want to eat. So I took a nice leisurely walk around my area...wasn't up to braving the subway just yet! I had three choice;, the Radisson Hotel, a Chineese Restaurant that was closing in five minutes or Peppes Pizza. I was a little disappointed. Because, I wanted a drink and some good food, not a fricken Pizza HUT for crying out loud! Well, I ventured to Peppes to check it out. OH...it isn't a Pizza Hut at all, it is more like a Fridays and is open till 11:00p on Sundays and they have spirits. We like spirits! YEAH!! The candle in this picture is so old traditional Norwegian...which is why I took it.

I have included a picture of a Martini. As most of you know, I LOVE my martinis. Well, Martinis will be the thing of the past as they are about 100 Kroner (almost $19 US Dollars) YUP 19. And this is what I got. If you are a Maritni drinker in the states you will see that I surely didn't get much for money. In the States this glass would have been full! What the hell am I supposed to do with this? Seriously...come on! I will need to show them how to make a good maritni, obviously.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sweden-Yogi Spiritual Retreat






On December 27th we (Petter and his friends, Tom Andre and Giita (they are a couple and her name is pronounced Geeta) drove to Sweden for a Yogi -Ananada Marga-Spiritual Retreat. The drive was about eight hours. I love his friends, they are adorable and an adorable couple to boot! I have to admit, I was a little scared and nervous about this retreat as I didn’t know what to expect. I had done some reading about Ananada Marga and it is very similar to what I believe so I was good with this, but didn’t know how I would do when I finally arrived. When I think of yogi spiritual retreats, I think of what I read in the magazines; peace, serenity, mediation, yoga, your own room, reading, beaches, beauty, calmness and well, being pampered. There was no pampering there!! It was more like camping. We stayed in bunk beds and had six people to our room. Thank God they put all of us in one room and Giita’s parent’s came which made six!

Let me tell you the point of this retreat…the point is to bring in the New Year doing Kirtaan (basically singing to God) Kirtaan starts on the 27th and goes for 24 hours till January 1st at 9:00a.m. You are put into groups and have a scheduled time that you are supposed to do Kirtaan “keep the music alive”. There were times that we were scheduled at three in the morning then at four in the afternoon, so your schedule is very off for the entire time you are there. When it is your scheduled time, your group goes and sings for one and half hours. This is how the singing continues and never stops. We sing the same verse over…..nothing else “Baba Nam Kevalam”—basically meaning “Love is the essence of all things or God is the essence of all things (means the same thing as God is Love and Love is God). There are many instruments and one can play or just sing. Many play the instruments and put together new beats so the music is different… giving the music some spice. But the point is to sing and allow you to be moved by the music and hopefully connect with God.

There is an alter in the middle of the room that has pictures of Shrii Shrii Ananadamurti (The founder of Ananada Marga) you walk in a circle with hands in prayer position and sing (or hands overhead). And yup, you do this for about 1 ½ hours. It is sort of a meditation with music—to allow you to be taken by the music in hopes of connecting with God. Some people have a way of letting themselves be taken away with the music that they go into a deep trance and have actually fainted (this did not happen to me). I did however; have visions of being a hawk and flying across mountains and waters. (No drugs or alcohol required!) At first, this was a little strange to me, but after a while I got used to it and enjoyed the process.

You can also do Kirtaan anytime you desire. The retreat also included; meditation, networking, chores (yup we had to do some work!), walks in the forest (which was beautiful), and eating very good vegetarian foods. There are many DiDi’s (Dee Dee) and DaDa’s to talk with as well. They are similar to nuns and monks. They have dedicated themselves to a life of worship. They wear orange attire.

I met all kinds of people from all over the world which was so very nice. There were two other Americans there but they hadn’t lived in America for about 20 years as they moved to Europe for love and never went back. Other nationalities included, Russians, Danes, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Indians (from India), English (from England), French….and many Norwegians and Swedes.

During the retreat, I had some ups and downs. I was at peace and high on spiritual food most of the time. But due to all of the mediation and Kirtaan, your mind brings up baggage; baggage that probably needs dealing with. One day, I cried in meditation for about two and half hours. The next day I definitely felt a huge weight off my shoulders. Some days I had huge headaches because of all of the new input that was going on and the lengthy philosophical discussion (which I loved by the way).

People kept telling me that “landing” (going back to reality) would be very tough for the soul. I wondered about this, as I was surrounded by a world that consisted of peace, love and harmony for six days. This type of surrounding gave me a taste of what life can be like if everybody were loving, peaceful, kind and spiritual…ALL THE TIME! I felt like I experienced a little piece of heaven. If only everyday was this way, devotion to God, love, peace and a love for all humanity. How could I go back to the negative world forces?


If interesting in know more about this Ananda Marga view this site,
http://www.anandamarga.org/sarkar.htm

I've arrived!




My arrival in Oslo, was perfect no delays whatsoever. Petter picked me up and we were off…to downtown, got some coffee (which I thought was the best coffee I had ever had and he thought it was just “coffee”). Then we did a little shopping and driving. The city is absolutely beautiful how it is enveloped in the Fjord. We went into a grocery store and I was absolutely in heaven and didn’t want to leave. So many breads (no Meijer bread here!) and cheeses and chocolates and … well just yummy everything. I soon realize there is a problem. I can’t understand anything. And figure this could be difficult when I have to buy groceries without Petter, wish me luck!

So, we celebrated a traditional Christmas day and we are going to Greta and Bjorn's, Petter’s mother and step-father, for dinner. I adore his mother and stepfather!! The day before Christmas we were invited for “porridge”. This is the tradition. Porridge is similar in consistency to oatmeal, but different. We eat it with brown sugar and milk. It is very tasty. Christmas day, Greta had the table decorated beautifully, as you can see from the picture. We started with a hot wine drink. I can’t remember the name. But it is like a fruit juice with red wine added but warmed and then you add nuts and fruit. It was very tasty and I had two glasses. Then off to church! We sang mostly or I should I say “they” sang as everything was in Norwegian and I have a hard time pronouncing the words, so I just listened.

There many men and women that were wearing the traditional Norwegian outfits, this was very nice. They wear these outfits during Christmas and Independence Day. I have attached a picture of the outfits, these are similiar and I guess these outfits are VERY expensive. Dinner started with champagne (my kind of START!). Greta and Bjorn had pork and sausage. Petter and I opted for the vegetarian meatballs and gravy, potatoes, sauerkraut, and a nice spinach dish. During dinner we drank beer and very good beer (put in fancy glasses), no Bud or Bud Light here. This was accompanied with a side of Aquavitt which is a liqueur—kind of like Zambuca but not really licorice. Dinner was great with good conversation. Petter’s parents don’t want me to go thirsty so my glass(es) are always full!! (how lucky am I?). After dinner we had dessert which was the left over porridge from the day before but cream and sugar were added to make a pudding consistency and a fruit compote. It was very yummy.

Then we sat for coffee and Cognac(my kind of peeps!) and opened presents. It was a very nice time and I felt very much relaxed and at home w/his family!Aaaahhh…

View from Greta and Bjorn's apartment


View from Greta and Bjorn's apartment

My last night in America


So, my last evening in America was weightless, sort of. I was thrilled and absolutely terrified all together. My apartment keys were in the box for the landlord. I had a very good cry. The only keys I had left were my car keys. The car buyer called and was ready to pick up the car. I was anxious to be done with all of this. I got my title ready for signatures. The car buyer arrived in a huge red SUV, he was young…maybe 26 and eager to take my vehicle as eager as I was to hand him my keys. We discussed the details of the title and did the final “handshake” and he wished me the best on my adventure to Norway. I am thrilled, I yelled, “I am keyless, no more worries!!!” A few hours went by and I finally realize that my ego won’t stop chattering. I finally REALLY listen. And my ego said, “maybe you should call him (car buyer) in a few weeks to make sure he changes the oil.” And “I really hope this car treats him well!” I kept repeating these to myself over and over again. I was obsessed with how this car was going to treat the new car buyer, I couldn’t get it out of my head. My dear friend Vicki said, “stop it already with the car, it is NOT your problem anymore.”

I then thought for awhile, why the hell am I worrying about my car running properly for this man? I mean, I was keyless and had nothing really to worry about; no worries about my apartment, about working two jobs, or my car not running!!! What then did I have to worry about? NOTHING. Well, we all know that we only wish everyday that we had NOTHING to worry about. I truly in my hearts had this feeling. I had nothing to worry about. But my brain couldn’t handle it…now what? What do I think about if I have nothing to worry about? I mean for God’s sake, my ego wanted to call this man in a few weeks to REMIND him to check the oil…how ridiculous is that? The very thing that I had been praying about for years, I got…no worries! But I had no idea how strange it would feel. Now what? It finally hit me! The PRESENT! My present from God was that—the PRESENT. Just be present Jodylynn, be present. MY GOD, I thought, if somebody would have told me that the quickest way to be PRESENT was to sell all of my worldly possessions and move across the world, I may have done it sooner (no wonder it is so damn hard to be aware of the PRESENT). Aaaahhh… finally, I am present.