Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ben was left behind!

This is the last photo of Ben - taken in Seoul.

Well it’s packing time. We leave tomorrow morning.
This is easy for me as I only wear T shirts and jeans. The only complication is that we are going to the USA and Manila where it’s hot, and Australia where it’s cold.

It will be a lot harder for Cate as she has to pack for work in the USA and Manila so the inevitable question to me will be ‘how much room do you have in your bag?’

I will do my best to Blog during our travels but given my track record of actually finding an Internet connection that works with my laptop I can’t guarantee anything. Theoretically I can Blog from my iPhone so I might have a go at setting this up.

Of course I could just use Twitter and send my Blog to you in bursts of 140 letters (just kidding).

There has been a near tragedy as Cate left Ben behind in Korea.


She says she woke up late and had to rush to get packed and out to the car that was waiting for her. Rozalin was on to this immediately and has nominated a colleague of Cate’s in Korea to bring Ben home safely.

The hotel in Korea rang Rozalin to tell her that Ben had been recovered from the window sill, was receiving counselling and would be given to Natasha. We have been able to confirm that Natasha now has Ben and will bring him back.

Moni is a bit frightened of the visitors so has taken up residence on my bed – and has also been joined by Sissi.

Muffin has watched this with some amazement from her position on the ledge behind the bed but so far there have not been any major skirmishes – so maybe this will be the catalyst (get it!) for a rapprochement and an end to the problems.

It’s news day and The Austrian Times reports that:

“More than 4,000 cyclists suffer head injuries every year in Austria as more than two thirds of riders refuse to wear helmets, new figures have shown.The Committee for Traffic Safety (KfV) said today (Tues) 4,300 Austrian cyclists, including 1,800 children under 14, suffer head injuries annually while 65 per cent of cyclists do not wear helmets.”

It’s difficult to imagine why anyone would not want to wear a helmet while cycling but these Austrians are strange people when it comes to stuff like this. One the basis that the Austrian authorities don't seem to care how their citizens kill and maim themselves I see no prospect of legislative action.

The Austrian Times has also reported that a toddler almost drowned in a bathtub in Styria – and have helpfully provided a picture of a bathtub for those who haven’t see one. (I guess they assume that everyone has seen a toddler).

A finally on news day Governor Sanford of South Carolina has demonstrated forcefully why if you have an affair with someone you should not send them emails - because they may end up in the newspapers.

A short, excruciating quote:

"You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light”

Oh Dear. I wonder what Mrs Sanford thought of this when she read it over her coffee in the Daily Bugle.

I suppose it seemed romantic at the time but it loses something when it’s published on the front page of every newspaper in America.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Muffin and I are suffering from Post Natal Depression.

Maria Island and bushfires on the Tasmanian Coast.

It has been raining for days and Muffin and I are suffering from Post Natal Depression.

We apparently caught this from Moni (who shows no signs of it) and is as happy as a clam – as is her daughter Sissi.

They live in their own happy little world while Muffin skulks in the bedroom.

I have been scuttling around get things ready for the Woods who arrive this evening. I am going to collect them from Südbahnhof and there should be no trouble identifying them as Lisa says that Lindsay looks like Bert from Sesame street.

I have been wondering for years who Darryl reminds me of and now I know.

I have been following with glee the ‘utegate’ affair in Australia and have had lots of Laugh Out Loud moments.

Australian politics, both Federal and State, are always entertaining and this has been a particularly fine episode.

I love that the mole who has been leaking to the Opposition for years has been the one to stitch them up with a fake email. And then Malcolm blames the Treasurer because the mole worked in his department. Thought I’d die laughing.

I must say that I have always found Malcolm about as appealing as a breakfast sausage (but with thicker skin) and am sorry the Peter Costello has left the scene.

I am sure he will survive but wouldn’t it be fun to have Tony or Joe in the job?

I forgot to mention to Rozalin that I have changed my will and have left the cats to her in the event of the wings falling off any of our planes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garn da hawl

Palau Dive Trip 2008

Cate has indeed found some pressing business to do in Manila so we are going there on the way home. For some reason we have to overnight in Bangkok but won’t see much as arrive very late and leave at dawn.

I do like the look of the hotel Rozalin has booked us into in Manila as it has complementary cocktails each evening.

This is the advantage of travelling with Cate (plus of course the Senator status on Austrian Airlines).

Over the weekend and Monday I have watched some of the US Open golf championship and have paid close attention to the strange behaviour of the many spectators.

These people dress mainly like they have been sent blindfolded and naked into an Op Shop and told to kit up by feel.

They cheer and screech and hoot at every shot played by every player but there is another group of Loonies who hoot ‘garn da hawl’ every time a player hits a ball towards the green.

This is apparently American for ‘go in the hole’ and there is a sizeable group of extremists who feel the need to loudly exhort the ball to do this every time the player hits or putts the ball.

From a distance I can’t see his group but there are lots of them. I also have a pretty good idea that there is a Kangaroo loose in the top paddock in each and every one of them.

I would find it very wearing if every time I played a shot a group of people hooted ‘garn da hawl’. In my case of course the hoots would be meaningless unless I was playing my tenth or eleventh shot.

Even on a par 3 I have never reached the green in less than four shots – and only then because my fourth shot ricocheted off the head of another golfer standing on the next fairway.

It must take a great deal of effort by someone such as Tiger Woods not to take a 5 Iron and set amongst them.

As we are about to travel I have been keeping a close eye on aircraft issues and note that yet again a number of people have been injured when a Qantas plane hit turbulence and made a very sudden descent.

Someone said something like ‘the plane suddenly dropped and Mavis hit the ceiling with her head and received a nasty cut. She has a really bad headache and a sore head’.

To which I would have replied ‘Why wasn’t Mavis wearing her seatbelt?”

On every one of the 6 million Qantas flights I have been on the Captain or cabin crew have warned the passengers to wear their seat belts at all times in case of turbulence.

By now Mavis will be talking to Slater and Gordon and will try and sue Qantas for a million dollars. She will do this because she was too stupid to wear a seat belt. This is only fair – Mavis is stupid – she needs to be compensated for that.

This will add to the cost of my air fares. If I see Mavis I will tell her exactly what I think of her. I may give her a black eye to go with her sore neck.

I am of course concerned that they have not found the ‘Black Boxes’ (which are in fact red) from the Air France flight.

I don’t like the thought that there are unknown things that can happen to airplanes. I have watched every episode of ‘Air Crash Investigation’ and similar shows on Discovery Channel and know almost everything that can go wrong.

There is an astonishingly scary number of these. My favourite is the one where the engineer used the wrong bolts when he fitted the windscreen. These gave way and the Pilot was sucked half way out of the airplane.

Watching these shows you get to hear the cockpit voices recorders. My favourite one of these is a plane that lost some important widgets and ended up flying upside down over the ocean.

When it finally dived into the sea – upside down and at about 600 kilometers per hour – the last thing Pilot said was ‘Here we go’.

This shows some style. I am sure I would not have said that. I might have used that many words but they would not have been quite as elegant.

Back to Air France. There is always a really good reason planes crash. The Air France flight worries me because we don’t know the reason.

I will continue to worry about it until I see the Air Crash Investigation episode where they reach a conclusion about the Air France flight. It doesn’t matter that they will just make this up – I am happy to hang on to anything they tell me as long as it is plausible.

Now I will have to worry about every crack and creak on our flights over the next two weeks.

It also gives me no comfort to know that – as we are flying Business Class – we will expire first if the plane nose dives into the sea. Admittedly the people behinds us will only get an extra nanosecond of life – but shouldn’t those who pay more last longer?

Not that we are paying – but you know what I mean.

So much for being a Senator then. I have decided what my last words will be just as the plane hits the ocean. They will be ‘garn da hawl’.

Wimbledon has started (groan) but at least I don’t have to worry about the parochial Australian commentators elaborating on every ghastly aspect of the Australian players inevitable demise in the early rounds.

We don’t have that problem here as Austria has no tennis players of note. Well it probably does but they will certainly also ski and will also almost certainly be killed in the carnage on the slopes each winter. This probably wipes out most Austrian sports people which may explain why there are not very many good ones (apart from the few skiers who survive).

Incidentally – Boris Becker was married recently and this event was televised on German TV. It was fascinating. I was transfixed. So was Boris. I think he might have resorted to something with a calmative effect prior to the ceremony.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I am so not going to worry about my soles

I was getting my runners out of the washing machine last night and noticed that they have plastic see-through panels on the soles.

I mean underneath the soles - on the parts that you walk on.

This is a strange phenomenon that I have seen on other runners - which are now much more elaborate than they used to be and come in all the colours of the rainbow. Some have see-through panels on the sides.

Perhaps this is so you can see the soles in action when you are walking – except that the shoes will be on your feet so you would need CCTV.

There may be an iPhone application that beams sole pictures to your phone while you are walking to see what they are doing. I suspect not much.

Anyway – I have had a really good look while I am not walking and can’t see that what is in there is all that exciting and I am not sure why anyone would want to know what is inside the sole of their shoe.

The day I have to start worrying about what my soles are doing will be a sad one indeed.

But I am not in marketing so don’t understand this and many other things such as why small (clearly not real) talking furry animals) are used to sell everything including car insurance or why you would use aged Hottie Cindy Crawford to promote Spar.

I also regret to report that Austrians are just as obsessed with toilet cleaners as everyone else and use actors to portray housewives whose raison d'être seems to be to have a sparkling toilet and who seem so damn pleased when this happens.

There is some talk here at the moment about removing sexism from advertising. I wish them luck because it has never happened anywhere else and unless and until women stop buying the crap that is marketed by these morons nothing will change.

The Austrian Times reports that:

Sixty-three per cent of Austrians are satisfied with implementation of the new anti-smoking law that has been on the books for almost half a year.Thirty-three per cent want a total ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, 15 per cent are dissatisfied with the present situation in regard to smoking, and 16 per cent have no opinion, according to a recent poll by market-research firm "market."

The numbers quoted make no sense at all (well it is the Austrian Times) but it does seem to demonstrate how smoking has inculcated itself into the Austrian way of life.

Austria has the highest incidence of smoking amongst young people in the EU. This is hardly surprising given that there are cigarette machines on street corners.

For this alone the authorities here deserve to be dragged out and hanged from lamp posts.
(Rant ends)

Cate is in Korea in palatial surroundings but of course has no interest because all she wants is to be home with me and the cats. She is particularly missing some of Moni’s more endearing habits. For example - she has a lounge room in her hotel suite but no one defecates in it.

She has just been promoted to Senator by Austrian Airlines which means that she gets lots of nice things including check in at the First Class counter.

The only part I am interested in is that when we travel together we can get into the Airline Lounges.

Previously only she was eligible so she used to sit with me outside the lounge in Gloria Jeans (or somewhere just as execrable) absolutely aching to go into the lounge but not quite able to bring herself to do it.

The cats are getting along fine because they don’t see each other.

Muffin is in our bedroom where she now lives and Moni and Sissi live in the lounge room.
If we were not going away I would start the process of moving Moni and Sissi into the spare room and letting Muffin roam around. But we leave on Friday so I will not have time to implement this integration program.

I will leave instructions for the cat minders and will be interested to learn what happens while we are away. I suspect that it will not be good.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Supplementary Blog

Cate says my Blogs this week have been dreadful.

Annie has accused me of Duck neglect and not providing news on news day.

I admit guilt to these charges. It hasn’t been a good week but if you had three cats – one of whom defecates five times each day and never in the same place twice – you would also be a bit absent minded about Blogging.

Things are going downhill rapidly in the Muffin-Moni relationship. Moni now attacks Muffin on sight and Muffin has responded by descending into a complete funk and now only leaves her spot on the ledge behind the bed to defecate on Cate’s pyjamas or in her shoes.

This is entirely appropriate behaviour by Muffin considering the circumstances and I might start doing it as well because it is not much fun here at the moment.

I have 300 litres of cat litter (No I am not joking) and 5 packets of paper towels. This should get the Woods through the first week and Gretchen can stock up when she arrives.

As I have said on many occasions – it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The only one without any problems at all is Sissi who romps around playing and biting anything at all. She has a very uncomplicated view of the world and reminds me very much of George W Bush (Remember him?).

I am not neglecting the Ducks and visit them often - I just haven't talked about them much.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I will try to do better next week (maybe)

I am sure I have promised you a few things that I have not delivered.

I know that one of these is moving pictures of Ducks but the Sony Handycam has proved to be a technological challenge – not in the taking of the movies – but in the getting of them into the PC and flangling them into something comprehensible.

I have something called Adobe Premier Elements which is supposedly pretty good – but requires some technological skills which I do not currently possess.

I have now resorted to reading the instruction book so hope to deliver something when we get back from Australia – although it I more likely to be Cats than Ducks.

If there are other things I have missed please leave comments (Annie is very good at this and often makes penetrating observations which highlight my frequently bizarre behaviour).

I would also like to take a lot more photos of Wien – some of the more obscure parts – but my days are just so full that I am having trouble keeping up.

Anyway – the training session with Gretchen went well and she is ready to roll on 1 July.

There was a significant problem this morning when Sissi decided that she would like to eat out of Muffin’s food bowl – while Muffin was actually already eating out of it.

This caused a major problem which culminated in Muffin doing something – as punishment for us - so unspeakable it cannot be Blogged.

Hmmm....getting new cats seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have much to do so can’t sit around chatting all day.

However – as this week has not been too good in the Blogging department (mainly because of the new arrivals) I will try to do better next week. Or not – as the case may be.

Merlin gets a picture today so that he doesn’t get jealous.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

‘After all Muffin’ I said ‘We did this for you’.

Progress continues to be made.

Muffin is so exhausted from hissing and spitting at the new cats that she is running out of puff.

Both Monica and Sissi are entirely unconcerned by Muffin’s behaviour and regard her in much the same way as I used to regard Alexander Downer.

(The sort of vague distaste that you have for someone else’s spoiled, dim child who is throwing a tantrum in the aisle of a supermarket).

At the moment of writing Sissi is asleep on our bed oblivious to the disgust of Muffin who is only about 4 feet away on the ledge behind the bed – being petulant.

I have told Muffin that the new cats have passed the initial tests and are staying and that she had better start to pull herself together.

‘After all Muffin’ I said ‘We did this for you’.

She looked at me the same way I used to look at Alexander Downer.

Despite the many distractions here at the moment I have been attempting to finalise the plans for our trip home – which commences on Friday 24 June.

Cate has decided that she does not want to have any part of this (so cannot share the blame) and has decided that she needs to be in Korea all of next week. She will get home on Thursday evening and we leave for the USA on Friday.

We have some Woods relatives who arrive on 24 June and leave on 1 July (Unless they crack under the pressure earlier).

Gretchen takes over the cat minding duties from then until we get back to Wien.

She is coming today to have the first training lesson on the apartment. Things like how to stop the water heating from exploding, how to cut owls out of the cat net and how to start the bobcat we use to move the kitty litter around.

Anyway – the plan is broadly as follows:

24 June to Washington DC
30 June Washington to Peoria
3 July Peoria to Sydney
9 July Blue Mountains mit Kinder
12 July Singleton with Hendos
14 July Maleny with Woods and Cate’s Mutter
19 July to Wien

This is a very rushed trip as Cate has to sandwich it between trips to her far flung empire. We may in fact have to go to Asia on the way home as she might have to pop in an behead some under-performers.

I got a message from the car dealer to say that our roof and bike racks had arrived so I toddled off to get these. They came in a nice box which I have not opened because I know exactly what is going to be in there.

There will be lots of aluminium thingies with sprockets, locks and woggles together with some incomprehensible instructions in German.

I will leave this particular pleasure for when we get back.

I am please to report that Possum, who had a major operation on the weekend, is back home and on the mend. I spoke to her today and she is clearly under the influence of some pain inhibiting substances and sounded like Wilson Tuckey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things are a bit better here

Well things have settled down a bit here.

Moni and Sissi are very relaxed. Muffin is not quite as uptight as she was – but has a long way to go.

Last night we had a small furry visitor at 4:00 AM who spent some time jumping on us and biting our toes.

Muffin – who sleeps on the ledge behind the bed – regarded this with some distaste but did not react too badly.

Moni has - thank goodness – managed to find the kitty litter and while I do not expect much this is at least a start.

It has been a very stressful time for all of us – particularly Muffin. Unfortunately it was for Muffin that we did this as we thought she was lonely without Bill.

You can see from the pictures that Sissi gets plumb tuckered out after jumping around for an hour or so.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We needed a kitten and could provide a loving home for its mother at the same time.

It has not quite worked out as we had anticipated – mainly because Muffin – not being aware of the plan in detail – has not endorsed it with any degree of enthusiasm at all.

She hates Moni and Sissi – seemingly in equal measure – and now stays in our bedroom most of the day.

Moni and Sissi are oblivious to this animosity and Moni – who was a complete wreck when she arrived is now completely relaxed and has not a care in the world.

Sissi – being a kitten – attempted to play with Muffin – who chased her away. Moni then leapt on Muffin and there was quite a kafuffle. This is likely to happen again as Sissi is a bit to small to understand old grouchy cats.

We have had to feed Muffin in our room and – to Cate’s great horror – she now has kitty litter in her bathroom as Muffin does not want to run the gauntlet past Moni to the litter in my bathroom.

Moni unfortunately eschews the use of kitty litter and prefers more natural surroundings. Unfortunately there are no grassy woodlands in our lounge room – and even worse – Moni has significant stomach problems.

Moni ate non stop for two days but has slowed down and now only eats as much as a team of Huskies after the Iditarod race.

As this is a family Blog I will refrain from providing more details except to say that I have brought my 5 ml wetsuit and diving boots up from the storeroom and have bought a WetVac.

I am also violently allergic to Moni or to Sissi or to both so spend a great deal of time sneezing and coughing and spluttering and wishing for a quick and painless death – and hoping this will occur before Moni’s next colossal evacuation.

The whole thing so far has been a complete catastrophe and we really wish at this stage we had had more sense than to try to introduce a mother and baby into a house where there is already an older (and much grouchier) cat in residence.

We have heard reports that Mogli and Balu have not hit it off but are awaiting details.

Rebecca, a friend from London, chose this weekend to visit us.

I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that Rebecca will never now own a cat. In fact she may never leave therapy as – apart from the visual and sensual pleasures that awaited her – she is also allergic to furry animals.

However, Rebecca’s visit was useful as we did something new.

Since we have been in Wien many people have urged us to visit a Heurigen. This is a place where you drink the vintage of the establishment and sample the fine foods as you have a jolly time in a rustic setting.

I quote from one of the Wien sites online about this delectable pursuit:

“Heuriger ['hoy-ri-ger]:

wine from this year

also "Buschenschank", a restaurant in Austria, in which this wine is poured out

The " The Heuriger or Buschenschank can be seen as typical Viennese - to be recommended to Vienna-tourists. At the Heuriger You usually drink wine from own tillage and eat a trifle. The interior is usually wooden seats and wooden tables. In many restaurants is self-service at the foods. You go to the bufet and select. Often there is music and it is not unusual singing along vociferously.
The green bush of a pinetree at a restaurant is a sign, that there You can drink wine from their own tillage. If the taking of own foods was allowed formerly, so this is not allowed today. The Heurigen offers an abundant bufett. Recommendable are roast chicken, barbecue-chicken, Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten (pork), diverse salads and bread with layer. Also sweetness for dessert is offered”

This never did sound like us so we have not pursued it. But Rebecca said we should do it and chose a suitable location in Grinzing.

We couldn’t find the first location – after driving for some time through laneways so narrow that the foliage brushed the car on both sides – so settled for a Heurigen in the main street. Lonely planet says this was the best.

It was awful.

It’s awfulness was exceeded only by the surliness of the waiter who actually shouted and waved his arms at people who tried to order from him.

Imagine a very, very ordinary beer garden with no service where everyone smokes. Garnish this with precooked food that is heated in a microwave before being tossed onto a plate. The side dish is the hot, sweaty, fat, angry, shouting waiter.

Perhaps he just bought a new cat and knew what was waiting for him when he got home.

There must be better Heurigens. I will wait suggestions from locals so that we can give it another try.

Before we left Australia I tried really hard to get someone to chop down the tree in the front garden.

It had been ‘trimmed’ by Energy Australia (apparently with Rocket Propelled Grenades) and was beyond redemption.

I am please to report that after many months and many attempts by me and by the tenant in our house we have been able to get a tree lopper not only to consider lopping the tree but to actually submit a request to council.

I have received today a letter from Leichhardt Municipal Council. For your edification I shall quote a small part of it:

“Dear Sir/Madam

I am pleased to advise you that this application has been allocated to Walter Mudge in Council’s Assessments section, who will coordinate its processing.

If you wish to check the application’s progress or if you wish to view documents relating to the application, please refer to the Council’s online tracking system at”

Leichhardt Council is one of the slowest councils in NSW in terms of processing development applications.

This tells you why. We are talking about removing a dead tree.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Steady Muffin - It's not Dick and Donald

Moni and Sissi arrived at about 10:30 and this signalled the start of a gold plated hissy fit by Muffin.

She has been howling, hissing and snarling all day and has spent a lot of time under the bed in the guest room.

You’d think I’d brought Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld home for lunch.

Moni wants to be friends but Muffin is just not interested.

Moni is the hungriest cat I have ever seen and has so far eaten four packets of cat food, five cat sticks and some crunchies. Biggi says she was very stressed with 5 kittens and was not eating (and she is also very thin).

I think the eating is a sign that she is becoming unstressed and she certainly doesn’t seem to be worried by too much – not even Muffin’s tantrums.

I guess if you go from five kittens to one then life looks pretty good.

Sissi is not bothered by too much and spends a lot of time climbing over everything. She really likes the kitty litter and is scattering it all over the apartment.

Of course neither of them is interested in the Cat Charm.

I can’t say too much today because I need to concentrate on cat minding.

It is also another public holiday here and the union doesn’t like me to Blog on public holidays.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I have a wonky right ear that occasionally needs attention

Kitten day tomorrow and I am just about ready.

I just have to clean out the fridge and make some Peach jam and I am done. Muffin loves Peach jam so I hope the new cats do as well – as I am not sure I will ever get them to eat Vegemite.

I hope the new cats also like Scrambled Eggs, Spaghetti Bolognaise and Parmigiano-Reggiano because these are some of Muffin’s favourites.

Merlin likes Roquefort but I can’t get Muffin interested in this – although she likes some of the milder blue cheeses. I think she is a bit concerned about Cheese Spiders (as I have been since Melissa told me about them).

Rozalin suggested that the cats may be a bit edgy when they get here and that I should get some Bach Remedy. I thought I had some but Cate must have used it all in her Gruner Veltliner while watching Desperate Housewives.

In Australia you would pop into a health food store for this but here I had to go to the Apotheke and order it. It cost a staggering €13 for 20 ml which makes it as about as expensive as OPIUM by YSL – but if it stops the little blighters from fretting it will be worth it.

Muffin certainly needs something as she has been doing her Vasco da Gama act and circumnavigating the bed and house for hours every night.

Speaking of weird looking people and clothes. I happened by Karl Lagerfeld last night on German TV and that man must dress in the dark – WITH his sunglasses on. He never has his tie done up and his hair is a fright. All that leather gives me the creeps too. He looks like an ageing Bikie - but in keeping with my policy of never ever slanging off at people no matter how weirdly they look or dress - I will say nothing.

By the way – I notice that for some time of have been starting some nouns with a Capital letter. Has anyone noticed this? Perhaps I am inadvertently absorbing some German grammar.

I went to see a Dermatologist yesterday for a check up. As a person who spent his youth in the sun – not understanding the dangers – I am now well aware of ghastly things that can happen so have regular checks. I have a wonky right ear that occasionally needs attention so always get this looked at.

I used to go to see Dr Ming in Sydney. He was wonderful and I had great confidence in him. He is a teaching Professor at Sydney University which helps you understand just how much he knows about skin.

He was going to come to Wien this year for a conference so I was going to invite him to dinner at Ein Weiner Salon during which I could strip to my underwear and he could examine me. I would of course pay for dinner and explain to the police what had happened.

But he had to postpone this trip (and no I had not told him what I had planned) so I needed to look locally.

In Sydney Dr Ming would not wear pink shirts because he thought that people would look at him. I told him he would look sensational – if only because he would certainly be the only four foot six inches tall Professor of Chinese extraction at Sydney Uni wearing a Pink shirt – but he would not be persuaded.

Last time I saw Dr Ming I met his wife – who is a real Hottie and at least 18 inches taller than the good Dr. I told her about the Pink shirts and she sighed and said yes she had actually bought him Pink shirts but he would not wear them.

Naturally the dermatologist here doesn’t make appointments so you get there and sit in a vast waiting room and every now and then a door open and someone shouts something and the next person gets up and goes in. They don’t shout your name – you have to remember what order you are in the queue – this is to keep you on your toes.

I was a bit tense because the receptionist gave me some last minute instructions before I went into the waiting room and I couldn’t understand her. She repeated it a few times but I couldn’t get hold of it so did what I always do and said Ich verstehe before going and sitting down.

Then I worried for ages about whether there was something essential I did not know which meant that I would not be allowed entry.

Anyway I did get in eventually and the Dermatologist greeted me warmly in French and we had a bit of a conversation in French until I explained that I was Australian.

It turns out that she has oodles of relatives in Sydney (some of who are staying with her now) so we had a long conversation about things before we turned to matters of skin. She of course knows Dr Ming and we discussed him at length (but I did not mention the Pink shirts).

She appears to be very competent and she examined me closely from head to toe. My ear is under control and will hang on until my next visit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In the wardrobe you think about things

One of the disadvantages of having pay TV here is that – while we pay an extraordinary amount of money to get it – they don’t actually have anything I want to watch.

Two things I liked to watch occasionally on cable TV in Australia were the Formula 1 and the USA PGA Golf. Here both those things are on the ‘Premium’ channels to which our current monthly king’s ransom does not entitle us.

Here I get snooker, darts, ‘speedway’ (which is boys going round sideways on dirt tracks) and endless – ENDLESS tennis.
I find watching tennis on TV unbearable - and as for going to a game - well I would rather go into a church with Cate!

The Eurosport channels apparently shows every match in every tournament in the universe and just showed every excruciating ball hit in the French open thingy.

This was apparently won by Roger Federer who people are saying is the best tennis player in the history of the world.

I don’t know that I would call someone who cries after every match (win or lose) a good player let alone the world’s best ever player. He appears to be an emotional wreck.

Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad would never have done this.

And anyway – the only reason he won was because someone they call Rafa broke both legs earlier and didn’t make the final – because every time Rafa meets the Fed he flogs him mercilessly (and the Fed cries).

I HATE watching tennis – so don’t.

I am certainly not watching the Ouagadougou Open next week – or Wimbledon (which goes FOREVER).

Incidentally there is now a girl playing tennis who grunts so loudly that the other players complain. Now that is loud!

I have never understood why they allow the girls to grunt. Apparently it is intended to put the other player off her game – and if this is the case the new one has turned it into an art form because her opponent turned into a blubbering wreck and has had to go back to grunting school to improve her technique.

Anyway – I now watch the European golf tour which is not so bad. Cate thinks it is complete rubbish but then she thinks all sport is complete rubbish. She only watches quality TV such as Desperate Housewives.

I can watch the Formula 1 on local TV with German commentary. I am adapting.

So on the weekend the 20/20 Cricket tournament started. Surprisingly - this is on the TV we pay for and no one so far has asked for more money.

As I expected – Australia got hammered. First by the West Indies and then by Sri Lanka.

This is hardly surprising as Andrew Symonds was the only Australian player capable of hitting the ball more than 50 metres – and they sent him home for having a quiet beer after training.

Now – call me old fashioned – but I would rather have someone who stays out late drinking and wins cricket games - than a team that plays Pinochle and goes to bed early after a hot chocolate – and then loses badly.

It was also apparent that some of the Australian players were seeing spin bowling for the first time and were completely mesmerised by this strange phenomenon. They really should give them some practice before they get here – that’s what I would do – and bring back Merv Hughes.

Today or tomorrow Ricky Ponting will say that the 20/20 tournament was not important and that they are really here for the Ashes series – (in which they should also get pummelled because they really are a badly led, second rate side and the only thing that may save them is that England is usually worse).

As this is a family Blog I will not go into detail about David Carradine except to say that he has been much maligned about his little peccadilloes.

I mean – I have often been in one of Cate’s wardrobes - with her underwear - thinking about the possibilities.

Of course you can’t stand in Cate’s wardrobes so they are obviously not as big as the ones in hotels in Bangkok but – you know – when you see all that underwear and all those coat hangers – you think about things.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cate's mouse changes colour

Cate is gallivanting around in Jakarta today (for a day) and then goes to Bangkok. It doesn’t seem worth it to me but what would I know.

She will be back on Friday – just after the new cats arrive.

Naturally I have been preparing for the event and have so far washed all the curtains and steam cleaned the carpets. I have washed all the crockery and glasses but ran out of Silvo before I finished the knives and forks so will knock this over tomorrow.

I went to Dehner today and laid in enormous supplies of food and litter. These are mainly for Gretchen who will look after the chaps while we are away. This is only three weeks away so massive preparations are taking place.

Last week I cycled on Thursday and made a young lady immensely angry. I was watching something (probably a Bee) and strayed into her path and she howled like a Banshee (well…I haven’t heard a Banshee howl but I can imagine). And it wasn’t one howl – she howled off into the distance and caused quite a stir.

I have of course done this with motorists but have never achieved it before with cyclists. I may try it again because it was sensational entertainment.

I can’t imagine what her problem was – apart from being obviously unhappy. Perhaps she is a shop assistant in Spar – or a Republican.

My two hour cycle today was very wearing as once again it is windy. I hope this doesn’t go on all Spring and Summer! Anyway – it is making my legs tough but those Ash trees are still shedding and I am having enormous problems with Heuschnupfen.

I think Miss Snow Mountain is back this week and we will have a couple of final lessons before she goes off to live in Brazil with Caruso. I am not looking forward to getting a new German teacher because I just know she will be disappointed with me.

‘How long have you lived here?’ she will ask. ‘Hmmmm……you haven’t worked very hard on your German have you?’

To which the answer is of course NO. In fact in real terms I have done bugger all – probably averaging only a couple of hours each week.

But I speak enough to get by and can achieve most things. I do not want to be fluent in German because after we leave Wien I am never likely to use it again except for watching Adolf Hilter’s speeches and these have limited appeal.

But I am happy to keep plodding along and will gradually improve.

There are too many things to do here to spend too much time on German – and of course on Thursday the new cats arrive.

I bought a new mini-mouse for my new notebook PC. It’s one of those with a retractable cord so you keep it tidy when you are not using it. Cate saw it on my desk yesterday just before she left - and stole it.

She just rang me from Jakarta to say that it changes colour when she uses it.

What can I say.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Niki wears leather bathing trunks

I got into trouble from Cate yesterday because there was no narrative accompanying the Blog.

I told her that I didn’t have anything to say and she responded that I never have anything to say and it doesn’t stop me from writing a Blog.

Despite this ringing endorsement I have decided to carry on.

She just hates the thought that I might me lazing around while she is working. Well of course I am!

The plants are still alive. I have trimmed, watered and fed them and they appear to be coping well with the howling winds. They do get caught up in the cat net so I have to untangle them every now and then.

Of course I spend a lot of time now cutting birds out of the cat net and untangling their feathers from the netting before releasing them back into the wild.

The owls are the biggest problem because when I find them it is daylight and they just can’t see a damn thing so tend to fly off into the sides of buildings. I am not sure what I can do about them but am thinking about strobe lights. I will issue the neighbours with sleep masks.

I notice when I am out cycling that Austrian motorists like using their horns a lot. It seems that they all have this problem and are probably trained from an early age.

‘This is your first toy car Hans - this is the horn – it is the most important part’.

They particularly don’t like it when someone moves into ‘their’ lane in front of them and invariably react badly.

OH NO some sucker is moving into MY lane…I’m not having that Beeeeeeeeeeeep!

They also like to glare at other motorists and probably practice fierce glares in front of the mirror. Some of these are indeed scary and would frighten small children – but are hardly likely to impact on another Austrian motorist.

I think it is the Teutonic desire for order and organisation. Hmmm…I have my route planned carefully….I am going to continue in this lane for 200 meters and the turn left. Then when I get home I am going to eat my Schnitzel with Gertrude, watch ‘Austria’s Next Top Model’ have a hot chocolate, practice my glaring and go to bed.

There are of course times when you have to change lanes. If I don’t know the route I sometimes find that I am in the left lane when I need to turn right. Now I can either keep in then left lane and go to Praha or change lanes to go where I actually want to go.

So I do what every other motorist does and change lanes – and apparently ruin the entire life of the driver into whose lane I am moving.

I am, however, impervious now to Beeps, Toots, Shouts and Glares and even Gestures.

The cats and kitten arrive on 11 June. Cate is going away on Sunday so Muffin and I will have a chance to bond with them before she gets back. They should learn early that they can expect a lot from Cate but it will not include food or anything practical.

Muffin, for example, never bothers asking Cate for something to eat. This would be an entirely futile exercise.

It’s news day today and I must bring this one to your attention.

“Niki Lauda prefers lederhosen to swim in

Three-time Formula One champ Niki Lauda has revealed he loves to go swimming in bathing trunks made of leather.The 60-year-old airline manager said in an interview with magazine News he had been provided such extraordinary bathing trunks by his friend Peter Goach, the chef at top Vienna restaurant "Steirerstöckl". Lauda added the Krapfenwaldlbad in Vienna-Heiligenstadt was his favourite place for swimming”.

I will not comment but will leave this with you to mull over while you eat your morning Coco Pops. You can see them here;leute/promis_und_vips/promis_machen_mode/13/;kid;789?flags=nopop;1

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pictures only

Moni and the babies (Sissi is the black one and Rozalin’s Balu is the grey and white one).

The ducks on the terrace.

The new plants (untrimmed)

Muffin circumnavigates the Cat Charm

Wien through the cat net.

Wien at sunset through the cat net.

Harvey in situ.