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Archive for the ‘MC’ Category

For a while there I got so wrapped up in the consistent pain in my foot I just couldn’t write about it. Because — who wants to hear about nothing? For a long time there it was impossible to spot ANY improvement at all. I was just in pain. Inside the foot. Each time I tried to put some weight on it it was like a knife went up through the foot and into the ankle. Have you ever read The Little Mermaid?

“I know what you want,” said the sea witch; “it is very stupid of you, but you shall have your way, and it will bring you to sorrow, my pretty princess. You want to get rid of your fish’s tail, and to have two supports instead of it, like human beings on earth, so that the young prince may fall in love with you, and that you may have an immortal soul.” And then the witch laughed so loud and disgustingly, that the toad and the snakes fell to the ground, and lay there wriggling about. “You are but just in time,” said the witch; “for after sunrise tomorrow I should not be able to help you till the end of another year. I will prepare a draught for you, with which you must swim to land tomorrow before sunrise, and sit down on the shore and drink it. Your tail will then disappear, and shrink up into what mankind calls legs, and you will feel great pain, as if a sword were passing through you. But all who see you will say that you are the prettiest little human being they ever saw. You will still have the same floating gracefulness of movement, and no dancer will ever tread so lightly; but at every step you take it will feel as if you were treading upon sharp knives, and that the blood must flow. If you will bear all this, I will help you.”

I’ve spent two weeks as a mermaid with legs. PAIN! I almost ended up limping again. But that did not help neither the pain nor the walk so I kept forcing myself to walk normally, if slowly.

Today is the first day I can say it’s better. And: I can now almost lift my weight off the ground when going up on half-toe on the left leg. THAT is a major improvement. I still feel as if there’s a lump in my foot, I still have two numb toes, and turning the leg out still makes me feel crackles of shocks up and down the outside of my leg, but strength wise things are vastly improved. And that, my friend, is good news for you. Because it means that EVENTUALLY I shall shut up about it. In about a year’s time when the nerve is completely healed. (You didn’t see that one coming, did you?)

Good thing: the exercises I dug up from my dancing days are toning my legs nicely and I put it down to them that so much of the former strength has returned. Thank you, dance teachers, for torturing me into never forgetting those. I still have nightmares about some of the exercises we did.

I go back to work tomorrow. Because I’ve been on sick leave for so long I received a letter from WGKK (Wiener Gebiets Krankenkasse — social insurance agency) calling me in for a check-up with their doctor to see if I was worthy of all the money spent on me. Whenever I have to deal with something official I feel as if I’ve done something unforgivably wrong, though I am never sure what, and I attend whatever I have been called in for with a huge amount of trepidation and the look of a guilty dog. So also this time, and the doctor started out with the statement “So, you’re on sick-leave.” “Yes.” Why?” “A major prolapse in my lower back.” At this point I probably sounded as if I was telling truly tall tales. “Yes, but you only got conservative treatment, therapy and such, right?” At this point Thomas felt compelled to take over as I was by now reduced to a gibbering wreck close to screaming “YES! I DID IT! IT WAS ME! I’LL SIGN ANYTHING AS LONG AS YOU STOP TORTURING ME! I’M GUILTY OF ABUSING THE EMINENT AUSTRIAN SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM! I’M A BAD, BAD FOREIGNER! WHERE DO I SIGN?!” He calmly said: “She was operated on the 30 May.” With shaking hands I pulled the surgery report from my bag and handed it over. The doctor read it in silence. The atmosphere changed completely and with smiling admiration she said “For my sake you can stay on sick-leave for another month. I’ll see you again then and we’ll see.” I felt as if I’d won a contest for worst-injury-and-most-deserving-of-treatment-within-the-social-healthcare-system.

I still start work again tomorrow. My nerves can’t deal with this stuff.

Last Sunday, Orion nearly drowned. Thomas and I needed a break from the work of reorganising the flat so we joined the barbecuing hoards of Romanians and Bulgarians on the shores of the New Danube for a day in the sun. Once shade was set up I refused to move an inch so Thomas set off with the two dogs to do some watersports of throwing stuff in the water for Orion to fetch. Next thing I hears was Thomas shouting “INE!!!!” which left me in no doubt that my services were required and headed in the direction of the shout. As I reached the incident scene I found a dripping and shaking Orion staggering out of the water towards me, Mischa confusedly leaping here and there and barking and wanting to jump into the water, and Thomas far ashore swimming towards a small orange Frisbee. It is important to rescue the orange Frisbee when your dog has nearly drowned trying to do the same.

Orion may nearly have drowned, but I still took a picture of these precious ducks that swam up and down the Danube while we were there.

Turned out that Orion’s legs had simply gone stiff when he jumped in and he was suddenly unable to swim. So he sank instead, panicking and desperately trying to stay afloat, only his nose showing above the surface. As Mischa’s confused excitement was less than helpful, Thomas yelled for me and dashed in to rescue dog and retrieve toy, and I arrived at the point Orion was able to reach the bottom and scramble ashore.

We were all watched attentively by a large group of eastern Europeans and a few Chinese who found the rescue operation great entertainment on a sunny day.

The result of being rescued means that now Thomas has reached new heights of Godliness for Orion. Thomas is God, and I am Godette. Not quite Goddess, but I will do.

As I write, Thomas is busy doing “various” which includes: writing an article about a Moto Guzzi Stelvio “we” test-rode yesterday. (Thomas rode, I was the pillion cum photographer with Thomas’ camera (and he is not happy with the pictures — oh well).) In the evening we went to a “Bierfest” with lots of bikers and I ended up with a migraine which I can only put down to having had a coffee too many. I’ve not had proper coffee in years, and not had a migraine in about three years, and lately I’d started drinking coffee again because in spite of all the years of getting used to not having it I still miss it and it all seemed to be just fine as long as I stuck with a couple of cafelattes per day but the add on of a Corretto and a Coke Zero turned out to be a shitty idea and today I’m just a useless wreck.

Other “various” includes drilling a hole through a 70 cm wall to pull Internet cables into the living room. I love it when he swings his power tools… 🙂 Now he’s preparing dinner, another of his many talents, and I feel cared for and loved and a little tipsy from cooling down in the 35°C heat with a succession of white wine spritzers. I’m on my third. Actually, I just finished my third. So I will soon be on my fourth unless I take to my senses and start drinking the very good Soave undiluted.

The dogs are knocked out from the heat though Orion still finds the energy to follow us around like a restless ghost — Mischa only has the energy to lie in the middle of the way wherever we try to go. I.e, all is well in the city of Vienna.

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Thomas, Brian and I are about to head off to Germany (via the Czech Republic) to meet a bunch of other bikers from one of Thomas’ bike forums. Thomas is not member of any club (unless you count the ToyRun as a club which I am sure some do) and I am no longer member of one and that leaves us as “free agents”, free to join any group we want — or not, as it were.

I have been looking forward to this little break for a while as I am totally exhausted from the mess that is my life. Last weekend I also had a visitor from Norway. Trine, whom I had not seen in about 25 years. But it turned out that ours is a friendship built to last and it was as if we’d seen each other only yesterday and just as back then she had me in stiches within seconds. I wish the entire world could have Trine as a friend. There would be peace on earth and a lot of sore faces from the pain of laughing and smiling so much. That would be my plan if I were to become Miss Universe — introduce the world to Trine and thus World Peace and Fun For All!

I had great plans for leaving work early to get my final preparations done for tomorrow. We will be spending most of the day on our bikes getting there (sorry, totally forgot the name of the place so will have to get back to you on that — I’d never heard of it before so it may just be somewhere in Bavaria where everything and everybody are strange and I will not understand a peep of what people say to me — another way to have a good time: spending it looking like a live question mark). 700k, mostly on German motorways. Please dad, don’t let mum read this! We all know that Germans are crazy drivers and likely to kill me with their speed and BMWs and Audis and that.

Minor stuff like that aside, Mischa will be taken over to Karin’s tonight to spend the weekend with her and Knickers. Next week, on the 22 May, we pick Orion up to add him to the menagerie. At the Tierschutzhaus they have decided to have a party for him and Thomas that day as they are so happy that he has finally found a new home. Orion gets incredibly exited when Thomas comes to see him now and is just sweetness and sunshine with me and the kids too. We’re cautiously optimistic about it all.

And now — dinner party with good friends! We’re good at these last-minute preparations. Packing to go to Germany? Pfft! Partytime!

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What a bugger of a year. And if you’re not a native English speaker; don’t look it up in the dictionary. I had a group of students do that. In my efforts to avoid swearing in front of my students I had landed on that very word as a mild expletive, not counting on their Germanic tendency to want to get everything right and that they all marched off to look the word up in Leo. The result was that I had twenty enjoyable minutes of young men trying to explain the true meaning to me while blushing.

I woke up this morning to a white world. No, not snow, but a thick carpet of frost on everything in sight. Outside. -12C, which is a mere spring day in Siberia, but as Siberia is bottom of my list over places I wish to visit that is neither here nor there. I feel the cold quickly and simply looking at all that white frost made all my body hair stand on end and pretty much stole my will to live. It was very pretty, though. And then my mother sneezed and scared all the world’s birds and broke the spell and my will to live was completely extinguished.

The year started with my tenants in Edinburgh informing me that they wanted to move out. We were friends until then. The friendship did not end because they wanted to move, after all, flushing money down the toilet on rent year after year is not what a normal person wants to do. But my pettier nature thinks that when you rent from a friend at a very reasonable, below average, rate, you should at least treat the place as if you cared. At least a little.

My job was still quite new and I got the chance to travel as one of its perks. I have seen more of Europe this year than in the past decade. Hamburg, Coimbra, Tallinn, Paris. In addition to the usual places; Oslo, Edinburgh, London, and Vienna where I live. I totally love this side to my job, and luckily I also love the job and think I have great colleagues (I even like Ms Phobia) and hope EU will continue to sponsor us so we all have a job to go to for the foreseeable future. And I really don’t mind my boss’ show of Swedish patriotism in displaying a rather frightening postcard of the Swedish royal offspring in the office. I can live with that. Really, I can. After all, they are more glamorous than the Norwegian royal offspring which is more of the oafish kind.

In between travelling we also found time to look after various pets belonging to friends; Mischa, Alex and Livia’s dog and my favourite among our charges; Amy, Graham’s Golden Retriever; Lucy, Adrienne’s black mongrel; and Snowy who belongs to Howard and Kaki. In addition came three rats gerbils hamsters belonging to Tom — he had asked us to look after one and turned up with three. Neither of us were able to relate to the rats gerbils hamsters, but the dogs all gave us lots of joy and at times some major worries such as when Amy threw herself into the smelliest pool of mud in all of Prater, Lucy barred Mischa from the bedroom (the only time we have had two dogs at the same time) and Snowy refused to eat for days and almost vanished. Until I discovered that pancakes were the key to his heart. If I can buy a dog’s affection with pancakes I will do so.

Half way through the year I was given the devastating message that I had myomas in my uterus and would have to have a full hysterectomy. According to the plumber who diagnosed me. Humpty-dumpty reversed the death-sentence and said reassuringly that the experts at the AKH (Allgemeine Krankenhaus) had an assembly line approach to myomas and could whip them out in no time. Which they did, and I met a woman who had been given the same sentence and who, as a South African, I could communicate with. Which we did. Over copious glasses of wine and amidst lots of laughter that hurt the operation wounds and the trapped air that for some inexplicable reason seems to be pumped into the body during an operation and how come they can’t give you a quick squeeze before closing you up? Just thought I’d ask. At least I learned how to spell gynaecology.

Louise has become one of my closest friends. And sometimes I wonder how I would have got through the past few months without her. Because not all has been well in the Kevin and Ine paradise since we moved to the 4th district, and while convalescing at home after the op I split up with the love of my life. That is the all-time-low of this year. Frustrations that had built over a long period came to a head with the operation, an operation which made me question my entire life and my dreams and hopes.

Suffice it to say that Louise has become invaluable as a friend. And when Alex and Livia gave me Mischa he too became an invaluable support with his silent gentleness and cuddly presence. And Thomas, whose instincts seem unusually tuned in to the state of my mind. His ability to grab me by the scruff of the neck and either shake or hug me before I completely succumb to self pity has several times been my saving grace.

Depression has still reared its ugly head and in November I did a “Britney” and cut my long hair short. The hairdresser had doubts about my sincerity — having doubts about my sanity would have been closer to the mark. But I have no regrets: someone who is depressed will try anything to shake the feeling, and that was just one attempt. There will be others. Such as when I get my new motorbike at the end of April. A clear sign of a mid-life crisis. If I’m going to have a crisis, I’m going to have one all the way.

Louise’s husband, Max, died in November. His prolonged illness is one of the things that has brought Louise and me closer together. Within an hour of meeting at the AKH we had told each other all the important things, and one thing she told me was about Max and how he had been in a coma for two-and-a-half years after a prophylactic shock from a wasp sting. Louise and I have emptied several bottles of wine together while laughing and crying over our miserable lives. I have a feeling we will continue to do this at regular intervals, and no, it was neither me finding a new flat or the flat finding me. It was Louise offering me the flat. We will soon be neighbours. And both be cuddling Mischa when we have bad days and need a complacent male. Poor boy; he has no idea what awaits him.

Splitting up has of course brought finances to the fore, and I can no longer afford to keep Cleo and complete her restoration. I had to go to London to hand over the rest of my money to Peter and make a few heartbreaking decisions, and while there I stayed with Colin who is dying from cancer. And isn’t this just about to turn into the most cheerful post you’ve ever read? Death and depression everywhere you look. Years don’t come much better than 2008 in that respect. But I did like Colin’s remark as I was on my way out to meet Richard, my depressed (…) fashion photographer friend. Colin looked me up and down, then he said: “You dress well. That should be in your epitaph. ‘She dressed well. All else was shit’.” I love my friends. They always know how to say the right thing and invariably make me feel better.

So now, on the eve of 2008, I sit in Ski, a place I never learned to love, or even particularly like, contemplating my life. It’s pitch black out, I can hear the odd pop of fire crackers, the news is on TV about the storm “Yngve” causing havoc to a small community up north. And about Israel bombing the Gaza strip to smithereens in revenge at Hamas firing rockets into Israel. So samme bloody procedure there as every year, then.

I wish me a vastly improved 2009. And if you need one too: Happy 2009! May things be nothing like 2008.

Eidsvoll, 20 December 2008. Norway as I know and sometimes didn't love it at all. But in general I'd say it's a pretty country. In the summer. When it's a bit lighter. Ok, I'll stop now. You get the picture. I suffer from SAD -- something to do with light deprivation. There's a lot of it here. Ask someone who knows and is feeling sorry for herself.

Eidsvoll, 20 December 2008. Norway as I know and sometimes didn't love it at all. But in general I'd say it's a pretty country. In the summer. When it's a bit lighter. Ok, I'll stop now. You get the picture. I suffer from SAD -- Seasonal affective disorder. There's a lot of it here. Ask someone who knows and is feeling sorry for herself.

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Been there, done that, got the t-shirt

When I do things I don’t do them by halves… I must have written about the sale of Molly and how sad I felt at no longer being a biker…? If not; well, I should have. I know I wrote about the Toy Run and being invited to join the charity run around the Ring and about joining again this year and then I wrote about the test ride with the wee Kawasaki Ninja 250. Remember? All that stuff about motorbikes?

Ok. Here goes. The REAL Toy Run event is in June each year, and this time Thomas talked me into joining on my own bike. I know. I no longer have a bike. I’m not completely senile yet. But he, being the man who fixes stuff, fixed a hire bike for me and that was it. I no longer had a choice. I joined the run.

I was terribly nervous. He’d got me a Honda CBF600, a bit bigger than Molly, and heavier. Great. I had a hard enough time with Molly, so after a three year break going straight onto a 600 was perhaps a bit ambitious. At least when you’re of midget proportions. And the start was perhaps not the most impressive. I got the bike with a virtually empty tank, so the first stop was at a petrol station. We rode in, I stopped at a pump which didn’t have the petrol I needed and I had to make a u-turn to get to the next pump — which had me very nearly falling over. It was not confidence inspiring stuff. The last decent u-turn I did was when I sat my bike test in the UK, and that went the other way around; you know, from the left side turning right.

But I joined the run on Sunday the 15th, and here are a few notes I made that morning:

“Never seen so many bikes at the same time. In my life. Thousands + police + ambulance (should I be worried?). It seems like a never ending stream of bikes. The noise is unbelievable. Right now I’m standing on top of a fire scape facing a car park where streams of bikes swing in, get ‘processed’ (i.e., pay their €10 fee and get a Toy Run tag) and take off again to join all the other thousands of bikers lined up along neighbouring streets.

A tiny selection of the around 3000 bikers who took part

Hairstyles come in two versions: long hair or very short/shaved. The women have pretty much given up on the good hair-days and stick with practical braids or short hair, while the long haired guys — you wouldn’t believe some of the hair-brush action going on when the helmets come off. I’m actually impressed; I never managed to maintain good hair as a biker. Today I have resorted to braids.

Four bikers to my right have tassels on their leathers so long I worry they will get tangled in their bike chains… seriously; they’re long. And as the sun finally comes out, so do the tattoos… are we bikers predictable or what? Below, a guy riding a custom bike (I’m too far away to see what kind) stops, takes his helmet off and shakes out his long hair, then dismounts his stallion and slowly swaggers towards the feeding station, bow-legged on bent knees as if he’s spent a week on a horse.

As we get closer to take-off the surrounding streets have filled up and the only space available is the processing area. I can see Thomas as a small black and yellow dot in a sea of bikes directing them here and there to squeeze them all in. They are still arriving. In the middle of it all I see the coolest guy, tassels and black leathers and all that jazz, swaggering through the crowd carrying the most enormous… white and pink toy mouse. As big as himself. I nearly fell off the bleeding fire scape with the shock of it and wouldn’t that have been a tragic end to my re-introduction to biking?

And still the bikes keep coming.

‘My’ CBF is standing over in a corner — nothing special, but I see people milling around it taking pictures… after a short while I realise they’re actually using the rainbow visor on my crash helmet hanging on the side-view mirror to take pictures of bikes reflected in it. I’m a cool biker chick; I have a black helmet with a reflective rainbow visor.

My dreadfully cool rainbow visor which needs replacing. It's a tad scratched now. Sadly.

I don’t feel cool. I feel small. And foreign. And a little alone.”

My hero of the day was Thomas’ oldest son, Brian.

Brian. Thomas' good-looking oldest son.

Not having met me before but only heard about dad’s OLD English teacher he was eager to test his English. He suddenly appeared on top of the stairs, proved that his English was indeed good and more or less remained by my side throughout the event (though not through the run itself). He was so cute and sweet I could have kissed him, but I’m not sure that’s even legal (is one even allowed to call a 14-year-old boy ‘cute’…? or will that totally ruin his street-cred?).

The run itself was amazing. 2226 bikes doing this route:

The route

It was like a celebrity tour… in every village people lined the streets, waving flags, waving in general, applauding, giving us thumbs-up, and we, like royalty, slowed down and waved back. Though possibly with less dignity than royalty. Well, actually, that is questionable with today’s version of them. Not that I read Hello magazine, and if I did I WOULD NEVER ADMIT TO IT! So there. That aside, before long I was grinning from ear to ear behind the rainbow visor. The bike was easy to handle, it responded quickly, I could accelerate and overtake easily and yes mum, I did and I LOVED BEING ABLE TO DO SO! Fast and furious…

Anyway. We nearly rained away to begin with once we got to Rosenburg Schloss.

A little on the wet-side at first

Then the sun came out and the kids and it was all just fantastic and fun and the castle looked like a set for a Disney film. And I failed miserably at taking pictures of the falconers that showed off their birds of prey spectacularly as part of the entertainment organised.

I’m going to cut to the end here as the rest is mere detail. When I got home my face was hurting. I realised I had been grinning all day, and since I’m normally really grumpy the muscles just weren’t used to it… I’m still smiling at the thought of it and I’ve decided that next year, I just have to get a bike.

Picture: Thomas Schluet. Can you see the grin? Never left. It was painful by the end of the day. No, I'm not normally grumpy. Shut up.

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