Monday, August 28, 2006

We’re still alive ...Working, cooking and entertaining

I know that we haven’t been visiting or posting much lately and since I’ve been using my laptop so little lately, Dale hasn't had much of a chance to post either. I’m even using my lunch break to write this one. Geezzz!

One of the reasons for our latent blogging activities is that Ma and Pa (OrangeX’s parents) are visiting us. They’ve been here a week already and will be staying for another two. Ma has been cooking delicious Indonesian and Dutch food for the past week and it’s a blessing to come home after a strenuous day and dinner is already prepared.

The other reason is that I’m very busy at work. We have a big exhibition coming up mid- October where we’ll be launching a new product: Merchandising articles have to be ordered, photo shootings organized, launch pack prepared, leaflets need to be completed and printed, artwork for the booth, and the list goes on. So when I come home these days, I’m just too exhausted to read or write much. But we do have weekends!

Last Saturday, we invited TBFs over for an Indonesian dinner before they left for their next trip to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Ma and I prepared following (well, I helped and she did the cooking): Bami Goreng (Indonesian stir fried noodles), Tjap Tjoi (pronounced Chap Choi, a mix of stir fried vegetable and chicken), Babi Ketjap (pork simmered in sweet soy sauce), and Foe Yong Hai an Indonesian omelet filled with thinly sliced vegetables, ham and crab meat. It was fabulous!

Ma was not only impressed, but loved to watch TBF go for second and third servings (or wasn’t there also a small fourth serving, TBF??). Ahhh! That’s definitely a way to make Mama Orange-X happy!

After a small break, we brought out the Spekkoek, a “thousand layer” spice cake that we served with the coffee. Ma and Pa went to bed around midnight and we spent the rest of the evening with TBFs and had many more laughs. I will add some picts this evening when I get home, or a link to the album, should Blogger not let me! You will notice that we were too hungry to take pictures before the meal, so you'll see mostly leftovers.

Next week, we’ll be having another group of friends over for dinner and I hope that the weather will be better.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vienna part 3 – Quickly through Wiener Neustadt, then Vienna

Finally, I’m getting around to it.

On the Monday, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! After breakfast (coffee for me) we just had to go to Wiener Neustadt for 2 reasons: a) I needed a new pair of sunglasses (I broke mine) and b) we absolutely wanted to see the renovation of Pinki’s (drum roll…) new Bar! Yes! He decided to leave the company and start up his own bar. It’s a thing he’s been dreaming of for ages; plus, he’s a very well known DJ in the region. These past few months, they’ve been tearing down walls and renovating. I tell ‘ya, it’s going to be fantastic!

He’s opening the Backstage Bar on 6th September 2006 and this is what he’ll be offering: a relaxed atmosphere in a mix of modern design and arched ceilings, easy jazz, funk, soul, groove, “chill out” style music (live music on Thursdays), AND you’ll be able to have a normal conversation with friends without having to scream at each other in order to be heard. He’s planning to have live music every Thursday evening. Hey, you might get a chance to see and hear Christoph and Bones live! If you do get an opportunity to drop by, go there. And don't forget to say hello from CS and OX!

Ok. I have to calm down now. Where was I? Oh yes. I needed a pair of new sunglasses. I did... find a pair, that is. You can see them (I think) at the end of this post. Anyway, it was past noon and we were getting a hungry so we walked around a bit and decided to stop by a café. And guess what? They had those lovely opened face sandwiches that we loved so much. Not the same as Trzesniewski's , but pretty darn close! They offered 3 sandwiches and a glass of Sekt (bubbly wine). That was just perfect for me! Of course, the boys needed more than just a mere 3 sandwiches. So, they ordered double the amount… each!

We then started thinking about whether we should postpone the day trip to Vienna to the next day and just enjoy Wiener Neustadt. We knew the weather conditions for the next day were quite unstable, so we decided to drive up to Vienna. Good choice!

We decided to do about the same route we did last January, only with much more liveliness on the streets due to fantastic weather. Besides, it was nice not into got into every second shop just to warm up. I love seeing all those outdoor cafés and watching people. We did a bit of shopping as well. We walked through well known streets such as Kärntnerstrasse, Graben, Stephansplatz to the Stephansdom, made our way to the Heldenplatz to the Hofburg Imperial Palace and to the Museumquartier and, by then, we really needed some refreshments.
We had a beer or two on a terrace overlooking a park and then Pinki’s phone rang. It was one of his friends, Harry, who we had also met in January. We decided to meet him about halfway between Vienna and Wiener Neustadt for some dinner in one of these typical “Heuriger”. We met at the guesthouse “Krug” where Harry and Michaela were already waiting for us. The weather was so beautiful that we decided to have dinner in the lush garden. We ordered a first bottle of wine and considered this to be our aperitif.

We went inside and found quite an impressive choice of cold and hot dishes to choose from: a wide variety of salads, cheeses and bread, hams (warm and cold), braised duck, and much, much more. We were in heaven! You just tell the nice lady behind the glass counter what you would like and she puts it on a plate for you, you pay and take your plates and bread baskets back to your table and DIG IN! Harry had already ordered more wine. It was delicious! All of it!

We ate until we almost burst and then knew we needed schnapps (to help digest, of course). A first round of Marillen (apricot) schnapps was served and then a second. During dinner, we had live entertainment. An accordionist made his way from table to table playing his repertoire. I must admit that I am not that fond of this kind of music, but somehow, it just fit in. We had so much fun, but we knew that the restaurant wouldn’t be open much longer, so we said our goodbyes to Harry and Michaela.

We drove back to Pinki’s after this great dinner and sat outside on his terrace for a while, just enjoying the warm summer night and chatting a bit until we decided to all hit the sack.

We woke up the next morning to non-stop rain. We knew we’d be leaving that same day, so we decided to visit this huge outlet village called the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in Parndorf which is close to the Airport. We had to leave the outlet again at 3:15 to catch out flight back to Zurich, so we didn’t have that much time. If there’s one thing I can not do is shop under time pressure, so Orange and I ended up empty handed. Maybe it was better that way. At least for our credit cards! Pinki and Andrea had more luck in finding a few things for themselves.

We drove to the airport and few words were said as we would have loved to stay a bit longer. We were sad to leave our wonderful friends. Saying goodbye is always difficult for me, but I managed pretty well knowing that we’d be back and also that real friendship wins anytime over distance, no matter how far. You'll find the album here.

So for now, it’s: “Auf Wiedersehen”!

PS: The flight back and drive home went well, and we were happy to see our “purring son” again. And so was he.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Home alone!

I woke up on Saturday morning as CS and OX got up pretty early. What the heck is wrong with them?? It's Saturday and they get up early after coming home late on Friday evening. I guess I'll never understand humans. I yawned and stretched and walked down the stairs. This darn morning stiffness, I guess I am getting a bit old. CS and OX remind of it time and again, telling me I'm getting grey. I guess they're right, although I hate to admit it...

When I came down the stairs I saw OX packing his suitcase. Man, not again! Are you going somewhere? I hate suitcases! Ah well, I can complain a bit later, but now I have to go for my morning stroll. I went for a short stroll and came back to have my breakfast served. CS and OX are so well trained. I just have to rub myself, meow once and they jump up to serve me breakfast. Just the way I like it! After breakfast I went outside again and laid down in the garden. Then the moment came that the suitcases came down. I could hear them, but I didn't get up. Okay OX and CS, if you want to go away again, your choice, but I'm not getting up to say goodbye. Yeah, yeah, a bit of petting and off they were.

My only question at this stage was: “Who would serve me while they were gone?” I would probably find out soon enough. I spent the day in the area, walking around a bit, sleeping in my hiding place and beating up another cat, who was trying to eat from my snack that was left outside for me.

This is me, strolling in the area

And here I am lazy, lying on my stretcher in the garden

It must have been around 18.00 hrs when I saw the friendly faces of the neighbours popping up. Aaah, Gaby and her cute daughter Rahel were the ones to serve me. Excellent choice! They always spend time with me and Rahel loves giving me the tube. That's good! They opened the door and I followed them in. Okay people, start petting me and I'll show how cute I am. While Gaby cleaned my bowls Rahel was petting me. Great, but uuhh, where's the tube??? Okay, I get it, dinner first and the goodie later.

Me and my tube!

After I finished my dinner, Rahel came up with the tube. YEEAAHHH!! Feed me! I got a good part of the tube and the neighbours decided to leave. I had to stay inside, but that didn’t bother me too much. My belly was filled and it was getting a bit chilly outside, so I laid down to snooze a bit. Actually I fell asleep and didn’t wake up till the next morning.

When I woke up I felt I really had to go for a pee. I went to the door to find it still being closed. Hello? HELLO? HEELLLOOOO?!? Neighbours, let me out!! Darn, they’re probably sleeping in on Sunday. Okay, I’ll use my bathroom. While I was peeing downstairs, I heard the door opening: YES, time to go out and have breakfast. Uuh, maybe have breakfast first and then go out? Ooh, decisions, decisions. I decided to have breakfast first after all. After breakfast I went out and spent a wonderful day outside. The weather was very nice, the sun was shining and it didn’t get to warm. B-E-A-Utiful. Before I realised it, Gaby and Rahel came over again. Is it already that late? I must have lost track of time today. Mmmm, get up, stretch and get ready for dinner. Yummie, I just love food. I quickly worked my dinner down and looked at Rahel, hoping for my tube. And yes! Ha ha, the little girl is a fast learner as well! Again I got a nice treat of tube.

While I cleaned myself Gaby and Rahel went down the stairs to go next door again. Okay, I get it. You go home; I stay inside and wait for you to return tomorrow. I’m a fast learner too, you know. While I was cleaning myself I all of a sudden heard a scream. What the heck is going on?? Rahel was crying and I decided to go check it out. Ouch, apparently Gaby wanted to close the door while Rahel was still holding on to the door, putting on her shoes. I decided to show my discontent and I hissed at Gaby: “Be careful lady, watch what you’re doing. Didn’t you see your little girl still had her fingers there?” Rahel was crying and I felt her pain, so I cried with her, hissing at Gaby every now and then to show my anger. I had to be careful though, she still had to serve me the next day…

I got a bit bored in the evening. I was wondering what I could do. Watch TV? No, that’s not a good idea. CS and OX hate it when I watch too much TV. Maybe I could go down in the basement and throw a few darts? Yup, good idea. I walked down the stairs to go into the basement and…darn, door closed. Shit! What could I do now? Aaahh, I knew what to do. I could start writing my post about my weekend “Home Alone”. I went up the stairs again and jumped up on a chair at the dining table. I know CS keeps her notebook here and she hardly ever switches it off, so I should be able to start my writing. I could see the notebook, but it was closed. How could I open it? I tried with both paws, even used my teeth, but all efforts remained without success. I could get the darn notebook open. I was disappointed and decided to go to bed. I walked all the way up, jumped on the bed and fell in a deep sleep.

On Monday morning I woke up when I heard the sound of the key turning in the lock. What time is it? I looked at the alarm clock beside the bed with half opened eyes. Don’t worry dear reader; I’m not going to tell you what time it was as I cannot tell time. I jumped from the bed and went down to greet the neighbours. Same ritual again: petting, purring, waiting for breakfast and of to the garden. Unfortunately the weather was not so nice, but nice enough to motivate me to go for a stroll. Sometime in the afternoon, while I was taking a nap in the garden, I was disturbed by noise. What is going on? What is this loud noise?? Oh no, kids are playing with fireworks! I hate the sound of fireworks just as much as I hate thunder. Fortunately the neighbours were at home and I saw Gaby coming into the garden to open the door for me. I went in, walked up and decided to hide under the bed. At least I would be safe there.

In the evening my lovely neighbours came over to feed me again. I had a great dinner, got my tube (third day in a row! This doesn't happen to me often) and received some nice petting from Gaby and Rahel. I stayed inside because the fireworks really started to shoot out loud. Man, I hate this. I hid under the bed again and fell asleep at some point…

Next morning Gaby and Rahel came in to serve me my breakfast. I heard them come in, but I also heard fire crackers outside again. I don’t like this. I’m staying here, where I feel safe. All of a sudden I se two pair of feet beside the bed and not much later after that, 2 faces. Hello neighbours, are you looking for me? If you are thinking I’m coming out from under the bed, forget it! It’s to damn loud outside. Apparently seeing me with my eyes open was enough prove that everything was okay, so they went down again. I could hear them preparing breakfast and calling out: “Dale, gutti-gutti.” Yeah, yeah, I know, but forget it for now. Just go away and lock the door okay? I’ll come down for breakfast once the noise outside has stopped. I could hear Gaby and Rahel walking down the stairs, go out and lock the door. I stayed under the bed most of the day. In the evening I heard the key turn in the lock again and then I heard 2 familiar voice! CS and OX were back again!! Now I felt a bit safer and I crawled from under the bed to go down the stairs to welcome them back home. They seemed to be happy to see me again and actually I was very happy to see them again as well. I dropped to the floor, rolled on my back to get the attention from the both of them. And as usual, it worked. Four hands were petting me; two voices were telling me how much they missed me and how happy they were to se me again. All that attention, just for me!

So, that’s all folks. That was my weekend at home alone. And uuhh, have you noticed I can write about my weekend in one go? No part 1, part 2, etc. This is the proof that we cats are more intelligent than humans. I guess I’ll never understand humans, but that’s okay. At least they make great servants ;-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Vienna connection Part 2 - The private concert

Where did I stop last? Ah, yes. The day after the party. As you could read in Part 1, OrangeX and I actually slept through the “private concert” given by Konrad "Bones" Windisch, Christoph Schellhorn and Sascha (Links only in German. Sorry) after they had finished a gig in a club nearby. We were told that the music during the night was so loud, that Pinki expected the police to knock at his door any time. The party and music went on until about 7 am.

The next morning OrangeX and I woke up quite rested and found Andrea in the kitchen and then Pinki rolled in to join us. They had slept only about two hours, or so. All of a sudden, Andrea called us all over to the terrace where we saw this and this great picture (photos by Pinki) and sorry, blogger won't let me again.

Christoph and Sascha had fallen asleep on the terrace furniture. I still wonder how Christoph could even breathe in that position! Believe it or not, we then (noisily) started cleaning up, folding tables and benches, clearing away empty bottles, etc. and it took both boys about 10 minutes before they even opened one eye. I had already prepared coffee (they needed it more that we did) and when I came back with the cups, they were already helping out to clean-up the mess of the evening before. We sat down at the table, and Pinki offered to make breakfast for all and came back shortly after with a huge pan of scrambled eggs “à la Pinki”. Everybody dug into it and enjoyed the more than welcome meal.

It didn’t take long that Christoph reached for his guitar and started playing, and Sascha took over the second voice. For the next 1 ½ - 2 hours, we had a second private blues/jazz/bluegrass jam session. It was just fantastic! It’s such a pity that “Bones” wasn’t there, too. What fascinates me the most is when musicians are so concentrated and in their element, that you can literally see the different emotions going through them as they play. Christoph is one of them. He lives the music and music is anchored deep in his soul. I can tell you one thing: this talented young man is 23 years old and I’ll bet he’ll be up there with the big lead guitarist names sooner than we think. So keep your eyes and ears open! HA! And we bought both his CDs and had them dedicated.

After the boys left, we sat around wondering what we’d do for dinner, so we decided to take it easy and go for a meal at a local restaurant about 15 minutes walk from Pinki’s house. There are some really beautiful mansions there. Wiener Neustadt used to be a weekend getaway for the Viennese folk to be able to relax and enjoy some countryside.

We came back home, tummies filled and satisfied but still tired from the week before and the party. It was a beautiful warm summer night, so we went on the terrace, lit a few candles, put on nice background music and laid back on reclining chairs to enjoy a last drink, chat a bit and gaze at the starry sky. We had quite a laugh when Pinki's left legt went a bit crazy (muscle spasms) while reclining. Sitting in a wheelchair all day, he keeps a pretty fixed position ,so when he stretches and his body weight is shifted, his legs start to shake. He's a complete paraplegic at level T8 (8th vertabrae of the thorax), so has no control whatsoever over it. The funny thing is that you totally don't expect it. It's like:"Hey! You can move your leg!" Not!

Anyway, more to come this weekend. All about our short trip to Wiener Neustadt and Vienna... and a certain bar. Oh, and for now, you'll find photos of our day here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Vienna Connection Part 1 – A chaotic start

At 6:30 am on Saturday, the alarm went off. Damn! Only 4 ½ hours of sleep? Oh yeah, we came home at 2 am from TBF’s and we still had to pack and clean up a bit before leaving for Basel Airport to Vienna. We were vising our very dear friends, Pinki and Andrea and were going to have a blast at their annual summer party.

We arrived at Basel airport and looked at the departure screen. What??? Where’s the flight to Vienna? We checked the printout of our e-ticket to see if I hadn’t made a mistake when I booked. Date: July 28. Check. Departure time: 10:45am. Check, we’re here on time. Look at the electronic board again: No flight to Vienna.

So we went to the Swiss information desk and asked what was going on and showed our E-ticket to the lady at the booth. She made a quick check in her computer, frowned and said: “I’m sorry, but that flight has been cancelled… since June 26th. You mean you haven’t been informed?” By then, I was fuming! Double WHAT??? June 26th? That was over a month ago!! And NO, I received no information from Swiss. The friendly lady behind the counter shook her head in disbelief and started looking for alternative flights for us. The next flight from Basel was at 6:40 pm! No way! We had friends on their way to pick us up at the Vienna Airport and they had already driven 3 hours to make it to Pinki’s party. We ended up having to drive to Zurich to catch the 12:40 flight. We thanked the nice lady for her efforts and she promised to file a report about this and told us to send a complaint to Swiss in writing as well. You bet we’d do just that!

So off we were to Zurich, called Ernst to tell him that we would be arriving approximately 2 hours later, then informed Pinki of our delay. No problem, he said. The summer party starts around 4 pm, so we wouldn’t miss anything. We finally arrived in Vienna and were happy to see Ernst and Helga, who greeted us with hugs and kisses. These two are absolute sweethearts.

We arrived at Pinki’s in Bad Fischau around 3:30 pm and he, Andrea and his mom were already waiting for us to arrive. We were so happy to see each other again! It had started to rain, but that is not a reason for Pinki to cancel any party. His basement is one big party room and the grill and a few tables could be moved to the garage. Although Mama Pinkernell and I saw that the skies were clearing up, but the boys started to take the grill, tables and benches from the terrace to the garage anyway. Half an hour later, the rain had stopped, we had blue skies again and the sun was quickly drying up the terrace.

Ernst, Helga, Pinki mom and CS

Great! The party would take place outdoors after all. Soon after having moved everything back onto terrace and garden, the guests started arriving. After a few drinks and meeting a lot of new people (all in all 58 adults and 14 children!), Pinki started the grill and little after, the scent of grilled sausages filled the air. The guests seemed quite famished, because the 100 sausages we gone before you knew it! Later that evening, Pinki contacted a friend – who just happens to be a caterer – and ordered some pork chops for the hungry guests.

I hope he won't turn the sausage with that thing!

Andrea takes over the grill.

It was a great party with lot’s of music and a variety of interesting individuals ranging from artists/musicians to top management; exactly what we love. Around 2am, OrangeX and I could hardly keep our eyes open any longer and decided to call it a night. Just then, three musicians arrived and took out their guitars and played all night. We thought of staying up a bit, but then again, the need for sleep was stronger. I must say that whether Orange nor I heard anything of the loud music although they were playing just above our bedroom and our window was tipped. We slept through it like babies and woke up to find… Well, more about our trip to Wiener Neustadt and Vienna will follow shortly.

You'll find the first set of pictures here.

How Time Flies

It's hard to believe that it’s been over a week since our last post.

Last Friday, we were invited to TBF’s for dinner. We had the starters and a drink up in their so called fishbowl (roof terrace) and went down to the covered balcony afterwards for a lovely dinner. As you might have read in previous posts, Mr. and Mrs. TBF are excellent cooks. We were treated to fried zucchini blossoms with a creamy filling as a starter, followed by a zucchini carpaccio, then a delicious lamb (and two extra pork steaks for the boys) from the grill served with young potatoes swirled in butter and parsley. Of course, delicious wines accompanied the whole meal. I couldn’t eat another bite so I stuck to coffee, but OrangeX and TBF couldn’t resist having a banana split after dinner.

While chatting, I was told by Mrs. TBF that one of my readers, The Medium Swede, thought I should change my profile picture. I won’t go into details, but thanks for the compliment TMS. Oh, and TBF…. Here’s proof that OrangeX doesn’t have his mouth open on every picture. Boy, you really had an influence on him!

We had a lovely evening and left TBF’s around 2 am only to get up at 6:30 am again to pack and catch our flight to Vienna (details in the next post). You’ll find a few more pictures of our evening at TBF’s here.