Sunday 31 May 2015

Photo on Sunday 2015-19

I didn't quite know what to put up for today and then I happened to be in the garden stroking Miss Oswin and my fell upon this calcified shell.

So, in I went to get my camera and take some shots. I especially loved the layers the shell is made up from. Doesn't it look pretty?

The other shell was also found in my garden. There are plenty more and I wonder where they came from. Because I would have imagined that if they came as part of a 'gardening project', they would have been smashed. Perhaps the gulls?

Saturday 30 May 2015

Miss Oswin is not happy


Mara had told me two weeks ago that I had to go to the vet for my yearly check-up and shots. But then last week nothing happened and I thought she had forgotten about it. She hadn't. 

This Tuesday (or Mara-at-home-day) she snuck up on me, grabbed me and then put me in a tiny cage! I told her I didn't like that, but she didn't listen. At all! She put the tiny cage with me in it in the noisy thing and then she put a seatbelt on me. I told her all the time I didn't like it, but she still didn't listen.

She then drove in the noisy thing to the vet. Well, I think it was the vet anyway. There were some other animals there too. There was a baby sheep, there was another cat and there were two dogs. 

The other cat had been found (like I had been found last year), but was very ill. The lady who brought the cat, said that she was worried it would have to be put to sleep. I was very sorry for that, because even though I was not happy right then, I am usually really happy with Mara and I hoped that the other cat could find a home as great as mine.

When it was our turn, the vet checked me a bit and then went away. I took the opportunity to jump off the table and hide, but Mara got hold of me very soon. Then the vet came back and he gave me an injection. He said everything was fine with me and I looked very pretty. Harumph! I bet he says that to all the girls!

I went back in the cage after that and Mara took me out so she could pay and then go home. The little dog was there as well, and he sniffed my cage. But I got him. I know I did. And he didn't come close again!! One claw is all it needs after all...

Wednesday 27 May 2015


Ever since I got back to work about 7 weeks ago, it has been hard to find a parking spot, because somebody in the parking department of the town I work in, thought it necessary to close the parking spots we were using. They were free you see, and they want the money coming in from paid parking. Or, we could use public transport to come to work! Which is a joke of course, since we are the drivers driving the first shifts!

Be that as it may however, until now I have been able to find parking places every day. I have had to pay twice when no spot was to be found, but all other times I was in luck. And recently I found the perfect spot. 

This morning however, the perfect spot seemed quite tiny. I have a tiny car, but even then I felt I was living on the edge. And today at work we were talking about it as well. About how until now I had been lucky. About how the traffic wardens didn't come out as often anymore. 

I walked to my car after work and saw it from a distance: the little notice under my windscreen wipers. My luck had run out. I had parked too close to the crossing (as I had already feared) and was fined 500 kroner! Which is money I would have preferred to use on other things. Ah well, live and learn I guess. Tomorrow I will have to scout around for a better place still!

Monday 25 May 2015

Our twelve points go to...

A wheelchair, something that looked like a potato sack, huge dresses, simple suits, punk from mentally challenged Fins, some false notes (well, a few more than some), winged shoes, some severe dancing, headphones, corny presentation and of course the endless voting. Which resulted in the end that next year we travel from Austria to Sweden. Because Sweden won. For the second time in 4 years. It must be in their water!! Of course I am talking Eurovision Song Contest now!

Sweden didn't have my favourite number though, even though the act was the best of all and he was certainly very dishy. I loved the Italian entry that ended up third, the Israeli entry that ended up somewhere in the middle and the French entry that ended up close to the bottom. However, it didn't do as bad as the numbers from Germany and Austria who had to share 0 points between them.

Now for a bit of a rant. Over the last two decades there has been much talk about bloc-voting, political voting, own language versus English and a lot of other nonsense. The bloc-voting is slowly disappearing. Cyprus gave Greece only 8 points, even though the Greek entry was a girl who came from Cyprus! And that is only one of several examples. 

The British are always complaining about how they don't get voted for because nobody likes them and that is why they end up quite low down the ladder. Well, Britain: get over yourself! Nobody likes Russia, including the millions of gays, lesbians, bis and transgenders in Europe. It came in second this year, because it had a good song! So, instead of blaming others: take the contest seriously and send something good next year! Although I must admit, I quite liked this year's entrance.

And then the language complaint. Which is mainly brought up by France, Spain and Portugal, who all quite standard sing in their own languages and end up down the list. Last year Spain sang in English and woohey, they ended up quite high! I admire their choice of singing in their own language and I expected the French song to do quite a bit better than it did. But, Italy has been singing in Italian for several years and yes, they did well. This year it ended up being third, only a few points behind Russia! I will give those 'English-haters' the same advice as the British: get a good song and get over yourself!

So, basically: if you want to enter Eurovision, take it seriously. Find a good song and a good artist. Just because you're automatically in the final (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy), it doesn't mean you can take it easy. Remember, by the time the final comes around, we've already heard all the other songs and yours are new! And don't blame the rest of Europe if you don't get first place! Rant over!

Sunday 24 May 2015

Photo on Sunday 2015-18

I bought this lovely bunting a few weeks ago. It contains most European countries, which is very important for a Eurovision Song Contest lover. 

More on that to follow tomorrow, but can you spot the very obvious omission in the mean time???

Saturday 23 May 2015

Miss Oswin went hunting


Last Tuesday (Mara said it was Tuesday, for me it was Mara-at-home-day), I was allowed outside. The weather wasn't very nice, there was wind and it was not very warm either. So, when Mara called me to come inside again, I was very tempted. But I was hunting and you can't just leave that and go inside to a few treats, now can you?

So, I didn't go in. When Mara called me again five minutes later, I was still busy hunting and still didn't go in. Then I heard Mara come closer. She had come out to look for me because she heard me miaowing she told me later. Ha! I wasn't miaowing! It was the cat I was hunting that was miaowing. 

Now I say I was hunting, but it was more guarding really. Because the other cat was sitting on top of the electricity pole and was too scared to come down! Mara wasn't happy with me at all and tried to catch me, but I wasn't having any of that. But after a while I gave in and let Mara take me inside. The other cat was still on top of the pole though!

After about 15 minutes Mara looked again and the cat wasn't on the pole anymore. This time it was in the garden being scared by yet another intruding cat! Mara said she felt very sorry for the poor cat and chased the other hunter off. 

Well, I think it was a silly cat. And it shouldn't have been in my garden! Next time I see it, I will try and chase it up the pole again. But Mara says I have to be nice and that the garden is big enough. The cat was only young and very friendly she said. 

Well, we'll just have to see about that!!

Thursday 21 May 2015

No inspiration at all!

Lapwing (kievit for you Dutch)
It's one of those days again, where I don't really have anything to say. Work is fine, the weather is not. I am fairly tired, even after going to bed ridiculously early last night. Tonight however, there is no going to bed early: it's semi final number 2 tonight and I can vote! I know exactly who for as well, unless he really messes up.

Just to tell you about the photos: the photo at the top was taken last Sunday on my walk towards the local parade for May 17th (Norwegian 'independence day') and the second one is the main church window and the altar in 'Our Saviour's Church' in Haugesund, where I went to a service on the same day. 

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Getting sorted

The wide downstairs book case.
Over the years I have amassed a few books. Even now in this digital age, I keep buying books. Which means I have a fair amount that need to be put somewhere. Now, the house I live in is not one of the biggest. In fact, it is on the small side with low ceilings everywhere. 

The narrow downstairs bookcase
About a year or so ago I bought a set of nice book cases. I wanted to put them up upstairs, but alas, they were too high. So, they were put in the living room, where I would have preferred not to have any bookcases. Don't ask why, it's just something I don't particularly like. Two of the four book cases I have downstairs are however filled with dvd's (plus a whole shelf in a cupboard), which leaves only two cases for books. They are full. Both of them.

Work in progress upstairs
Not only are those two full, I still had a few boxes upstairs that I hadn't yet unpacked. Filled with books, photo albums and maps. And then last week at work, I saw two bookcases sitting in a hallway doing nothing. I asked about them and yesterday morning I was told I could have them. I needed some help getting them here (colleague with a car with trailer attachment, trailer and another colleague to help lift/carry/do the heavy work), but this morning they arrived. 

The finished result
I started putting the first books in and then found the remaining boxes to empty those as well. A few hours later and I am quite puffed out, but the book cases are full and the boxes (bar one with leaflet maps and such) are empty. 

The almost empty shelf will be used for English children's books
Freeing up some space downstairs.
The bulk of the books were travel books. Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, France and even Japan. Maps from Denmark to Canada and from Italy to Norway. Plus I found a few books and maps of Scotland. Which were put apart to be used later this summer. 

Monday 18 May 2015

It beggars belief!

The garden gnome at the back? That's me!!
As I wrote yesterday, it was the Norwegian national holiday yesterday and one part of the celebrations is the so called Kapproing (rowing race). The first year we came in second, something we thought was very good since it was our first time! Then last year we did even better and came in first. We were so proud of ourselves because we had done good.

I am never the most elegant getting out of a boat
So, our hopes were high for this year. Yes, we had one new guy on the team, but he was a good solid guy that could keep rowing for six minutes without any problem. All the others had been on the team at least once before so everybody knew the drill. A good start, hard rowing until a good turn and then hard rowing on the home strait. We even had the same boat!

The average age was 69 and you had to have had at least 2 heart surgeries to be on this team
Unfortunately the same boat was a little bit off this year. We had already changed one oar with the pink boat (it got broken last year by an overzealous rower) and we had found some oar holders that actually were good. Also from the pink boat. And then on Friday during our last training, we found that our oar holders had been stolen! Three of them were ruined. The oars could fly out at any point.

These (hunky) firemen didn't have any oar or timing trouble.
They beat everybody!
Today during the race, two of our rowers had severe trouble with the oars. They 'lost' their oars twice each and each time it happened the rower behind them and to a lesser degree the rower in front of them was hindered. Which caused timing problems: the left was out with the right for part of the race and in the end we made it in 06.44. A time that was 40 seconds slower than last year!

The mixed team winners
And the beggars of the title? Well, there are several beggars in town and they had been roped in by a church charity. They weren't that good, but they didn't have to fight the oars and finished before us! They won! In other words, they were better than we were!!

Next year we will have to make certain the oarholders are perfect. And the timing. And the oars. Because the rowers were perfect!

Sunday 17 May 2015

Photo on Sunday 2015-17

This photo was taken on last Thursday before we were going on our annual training. Training I hear the newer followers ask? Training for what?

Well, training for the annual rowing race to mark the celebrations of May 17th, the most important national holiday (not counting the religious ones) in Norway. Two years ago we came in second. Last year we came in first. I wonder how we will do today! Oh, and I don't row. I steer. And yell!!

Saturday 16 May 2015

Miss Oswin loves to hide


On Friday Mara was home very early. Which I liked very much, and I got out the door the minute she got in. Normally I don't do that, but the weather was so nice I couldn't wait for her to say yes. After a while Mara got the noisy thing out to make the grass short. I like it short, because then I don't have to lift my paws so high and it doesn't tickle my tummy either! Plus it makes it easier to see and catch a mouse.

After Mara was finished with the noisy thing she got the flashy thing out and started taking pictures of me. I don't mind her taking pictures, but she always wants me to look into the flashy thing. What's that about? And when I walked away, she followed me! 

She took some more pictures and then I thought I would hide myself. I found a really good place, but I guess Mara had seen me go there and she took a picture of me there. Of course I had to find another place then and this time I know it was a lot harder to see me. But even there she did. 

Fortunately she then went inside to do something on the tappety thing (she always does something on the tappety thing, even when I want to sit on her lap). And I was allowed to stay outside to hide some more!

Friday 15 May 2015


Being the au-pair to Camille (baby girl in my arms) and Jean (the little boy)
I had a hysterectomy earlier this year as those of you who are old hats at reading my ramblings will know. And not only a hysterectomy, it also included the removal of one ovary and both fallopian tubes. Which severely cuts my chances of becoming a mother. 

Now, I must say that I never really felt that I wanted, needed, must have children in order to feel complete. I did at one time want children and even had a biological clock ticking once. For a whole of two weeks it ticked and ticked while I was jealous of my cousin who was pregnant with her second daughter. And then the ticking stopped, never to return. 

This is not to say that if I would have gotten pregnant I wouldn't have welcomed the baby with open arms. I would. I would have loved it. It just never happened. Never found the person I wanted to have one with either (I haven't found Ed yet and the real Ed is already taken by a fantastic woman I know cyberpersonally). 

I know other women who have had hysterectomies, both younger and older, both with and without children. And some felt great about it (hey, no more periods, what's not to love?), while others felt it was a loss of part of their womanhood. I am in the first category. Happy to be without pain and everything that goes with that part of being a woman.

I am Mara, I am a woman and no, I am not, nor ever will be a mother. And that is fine. Honestly it is. It is me as well you know. As much as wearing glasses, being a bit overweight and loving Eurovision are. Oh, and proud of the huge big zip as well!! 

The only mother in the house is Miss Oswin, who gave birth to four kittens (one survivor) about two months before she came to live with me.

This post is prompted by Spin Cycle. Thank you Ginny Marie at Lemon Drop Pie

Thursday 14 May 2015


My only 'souvenir' this time was the little white vase with the tulips.
I live by a budget. Ever since I was in serious trouble several years ago where I didn't open any mail, nor paid any bills and ended up being uninsured for about three months. The real wake-up call came however when I found out that when moving to another country they want you to take money with you. Which I didn't have. 

So, I set about getting rid of my financial troubles. Got rid of the car, no more holidays (not as bad as you might think, due to my fantastic job which still allowed me plenty of (free) travel), no more dvd's and no more other frivolities. It took a few years, but I managed in the end. 

I had had a sort of budget when living in the Netherlands, but I didn't really bother with it after a while, but after moving to Norway I started using one again. Just to find out where my money went. Especially after moving to my lovely little red wooden cottage in the Norwegian countryside. And then this year I found an even better version than the home-made version I had used for a while. One with so much more options and possibilities. I was hooked and from then on, I have been quite religious in making sure it's up to date.

Well, up to date it wasn't today. I hadn't updated it since I went away on holiday two weeks ago and I was afraid I would be up Caca River without an oar or even a rowboat, even though I had saved all the receipts. Or had I? Only one way to find out. Write everything down and then try and match it to my bank account. Guess what!

It tallied!! It matched. There is one receipt missing, but I knew what it was anyway, so I was fine. Job well done I would say! I am pleased with myself!

PS: the second photo shows my collection of 'foreign' money. There are Euros (notes and coins), US Dollars (notes), Swedish Krones (notes and coins), Danish Krones (coins) and British Pounds (coins). I tend to forget to take them away on holiday. So the stash grows!

Tuesday 12 May 2015


A post of their own? Is she mad?? Letting Miss Oswin and Brom take over once a week? But then I got to thinking: my Mum always loves seeing photos of my felines and even though my Dad sighs and rolls his eyes at the thought of Brom coming on holiday with us to Scotland (including kilt if you please, I just have to sew one, any bear kilt patterns are greatly appreciated), he accepts and thinks his daughter is lovable anyway. Either that or stark raving mad and I prefer to think he would think the first!

However, letting Miss Oswin and Brom take over is not an option really. For starters, Miss Oswin was highly jealous of Brom. Not necessarily of the travelling: she couldn't care less, but about being allowed to write! Having them do anything together would not be the best idea at all. But, having her write on her own, unless we (Brom and I) are away on holiday would be okay. So, that's what will happen from now on. One day a week Miss Oswin will get the chance to have her say. I dread to think what she will come up with...

Monday 11 May 2015


The orange wasn't used that much during the war. 
But once liberation came: it was everywhere!
During the past week I have seen several documentaries, films and memorial services about the Second World War. Every time equally impressive, thought provoking and at times even scary. The diaries and letters written by Heinrich Himmler were of the latter variety. They were chilling in their 'niceness'. 

Today I saw the VE* 70 celebration on the BBC. Very impressive to see all those veterans come past. They fought for the freedom in Europe. The only problem I had was when at one point, one of the commentators stated that the British do the 'remembering' the best of all of Europe. As if it were a contest (I am writing this a bit out of context, but it marred).

Male farm labourers were not sent to Germany to work as much as other professions.
The veterans who came past were about the same age my grandparents would have been. My grandparents who lived in a 'neutral' country that had been overrun by the Germans anyway and were suffering. The winter of 1944/5 was especially hard. The Germans had taken revenge on the people of the Netherlands for the help they had given the Americans near Arnhem (Operation Market Garden, a failed operation) and had cut food rations even further. People were eating tulip bulbs to stay alive, but still a lot of people died due to hunger and cold.

My paternal grandparents lived on a farm in the North of the country and weren't so affected by the food shortages. It is in fact quite probable that hordes of people from (especially) the West would come past to get some food to survive. My maternal grandmother however, was far worse off. She was a maid and lived and worked in the house of a notary. And even though she never went hungry, she did suffer the cold. What my maternal grandfather did at that time is a mystery. We don't know whether he worked in the Netherlands or in Germany as a forced labourer as many young men from occupied countries were. Or perhaps he was hidden somewhere and/or working for the resistance. 

The millwhips were used to send out messages during the war. 
My maternal grandmother wrote me a letter for a school project in 1983. Some of you have read it before, others may be new to it, but it is certainly worth reading again. Here is the link. I wish though that I had asked more questions while my grandparents were still alive. Unfortunately I didn't and now the chance is gone (they have all passed away). 

*VE stands for Victory in Europe. VJ would be Victory Japan which happened in August 1945,  three months later.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Photo on Sunday 2015-16

During my recent short holiday in the Netherlands, I spent one day visiting with old colleagues. Which was great fun of course! But I had left a bit earlier, so I could take photos of the tulips and blooming apple trees. And then I came across this. A blue and white pole with a red/orange plane on top.

I have posted something similar several years ago, but with ships on top. Here's the link. And basically it's the same as with the ships, except with planes. Now, I saw two of those plane poles, but there are several more. Because during WWII several planes didn't make it back for whatever reason and 'landed' in the NOP in the Netherlands. And since that area had only just become sea-free (1942), they were easily visible. 

Thursday 7 May 2015

Brom on a plane?

Coo coo! Surprise!! Here I am again, your friend Brom!! It wasn't the plan, but really: with two such dopey people as Mara and Gera, there could only be one person writing this blog. 

For days now, they had talked about taking the 07.15am train to Schiphol airport. Direct and easy and with plenty of time to spare just in case, which was important especially for Mara: her flight was at 10.25am. 

And then the two dopes just got on a train. Just like that. Of course I couldn't warn them: I can't read you know! But you would think that two people who have worked on trains, who have travelled a lot and who can both read, would know better than to go down to platform 3, when it was clearly stated (I overheard Mara say later) that the train they were supposed to take left from platform 5! 

Gera was the one who found out, but it didn't matter: the proper train left at that moment. Well, they settled down and then started to take photos of me as if it had been my fault. The nerve of those dopes.

Fortunately they knew that at the next station they could change trains and get to the airport that way and in the end they were at Schiphol around the same time they would have been with the proper train.

At the airport it was time for some coffee (I didn't partake) and then it was time to say goodbye to Gera. She is a good cuddler you know and it will be three months before I see her again.

As you know I have traveled a lot on a plane, but never in the passenger seat and this time I was allowed AND I was allowed to look out when the plane went up into the sky. The most exciting thing. My stomach was doing flip flops and there were clouds and there were tiny little houses and tiny little cars. After that I needed to rest and I spent the remainder of the journey safely tucked away. 

And this time it is for real: see you all in three months with more of my adventures!