Saturday, September 30, 2006

random stuff

i seem to be over my cold, which is good! the weeks are getting busier, and i don't want to start into next week with its additional evening classes (english) feeling blah.

i have reached day 21 of 30/30. i'll somehow manage the other nine days too, i'm sure.

vii.18 - myspace chat
vii.19 - lester lewis takes inventory after the shipwreck
vii.20 - poetic collaboration
vii.21 - beryllium (be) - twelve signs of the approaching apocalypse
lauren and sharon have finished their rounds (7 and 6 respectively) - congrats!

collaborations with driving miss arly and mr nathan "double entendre" mcclain are going rather well, i find.

i've stocked up on chapbooks (mine, apples for adam) and am swapping with frank matagrano, kristy bowen, and corey mesler, among others. yay!

work on new chapbook manuscripts takes place when i have nothing else to do, which is not very often. question for you out there: are there any chapbook publishers you can recommend? any you have had bad experiences with? i find some of them still refuse to work with writers from overseas, or don't correspond via email, etc which is a hassle.

james reidel's collection of translated thomas bernhard poems, in hora mortis, has arrived. so far, i have only read the translator's foreword but i cannot wait to dip in. i'll certainly have more to say about this. other than that, i am still reading haruki murakami's kafka on the shore. very strange, very intriguing, very good.

our indian summer has been incredibly beautiful. i love it.

election day tomorrow. i don't expect any nice surprises nor happy endings. sigh.

about 25 people are waiting for emails from me. i know. i know.

new summer travel entries posted below. enjoy.

song of the day: this side of the blue by joanna newsom

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 10: survival of the fittest (*G*)

wednesday, 23 august. (happy birthday, dad!) the weather looks promising. very promising. the plan is to walk the marlinger waalweg as far as töll, and then either walk on (algunder waalweg, tappeiner weg, back to merano) or turn back or take the train back to marling. a waalweg is a path along the old water irrigation channels (still in use) above the apple orchards. so the waalwege themselves are not steep at all, they are perfect for walking, but getting to the waalweg is a different story: the centre of marling is quite a bit uphill from alex' flat, and from there it's a steep ascent to the actual waalweg. but once we are there, sweating and panting, we know that the hardest part is done. *phew*

since sepp usually walks faster than i do (especially uphill) i decide to set out at a fast pace and let sepp catch up with me eventually somewhere along the way to töll. so, after admiring the view of marling, merano and surroundings, i set off.

on my way to töll, i overtake quite a few people who are strolling along rather more leisurely, while the only one overtaking me is a jogger. yay! whenever i look back over my shoulder, there is no sepp. still, i walk on. it's wonderful. the sun's shining, it smells of apples, the view is adorable, and i love walking like this, developing a rhythm. i can't quite believe it when i reach töll after only 50 minutes or so. i sit on a bench and wait for sepp. read a little, have a bite, and wait. only, sepp does not show up. eventually, being a bright young thing, i take out my mobile phone and check for messages. a-ha! one from sepp telling me that he can't seem to catch up with me (ha!!), and he is turning around and heading back towards marling. hm. i call him, letting him know where i am and trying to persuade him to follow me. no such luck.

i am not quite sure what to do, so i stop for a drink in töll (certainly no cocktail though) and decide to walk on - the algunder waalweg to gratsch, and to take the bus back from there, or to walk all the way back to merano. it's actually quite hot, and just beautiful. the algunder waalweg seems to be less frequented than the marlinger walk. i've got my mp3 player, so i can listen to some lovely music, there are apple orchards all around, only occasionally interrupted by vineyards, bees are buzzing, butterflies fluttering, and i follow the little gurgling channels to algund, and from there to gratsch. i don't stop often, only occasionally for a sip of water, and to admire the view. unfortunately, sepp's got the camera, so there are no pictures at all of the walk back towards merano.

at gratsch, i still have not had enough. just below dorf tirol the waalweg joins up with the tappeiner weg which leads back to merano city centre. it's a promenade offering glorious views of merano and its surroundings, mountains included. it's not nearly as late as i'd expected when i get back to merano (only 3pm), and i am not completely exhausted either, but i still catch a bus back to marling from the city centre instead of walking back, simply because there are so many people around that i'd have to stroll back - continuing at my brisk pace is out of the question. i'm lucky to just make the 15:12 bus to marling where i find lazy sepp reading on alex' balcony.

i don't know exactly how many kilometres i've done, maybe 14. just about perfect. i'm in desperate need of a shower though!

in the evening, alex takes us to the forst brewery beer garden where sepp can enjoy his new favourite drink, forst beer. lovely food too! afterwards, we get some ice-cream in town, and wander along the promenade listening to live music, watching a couple of middle-aged ladies discover the joys of head-banging (and their husbands edging discreetly away). it's a mild evening - our last in the area. back at alex', we keep him from getting enough sleep that night by chatting way too long before finally saying goodbye.

pictures of day 10

Friday, September 29, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 09: ... the flowers and the trees

tuesday, 22 august. another lovely day, and thanks to alex' parents, also not a very expensive one: being guides at the botanical garden, they get us in for free!

the gardens of trauttmansdorff castle are relatively new. in fact, they celebrate their fifth anniversary this year. the whole world in one garden, plants from asia, the americas, various deserts, africa, all over europe, as well as local plants are gathered together in a beautifully situated, terraced 12-hectare enclosure surrounding trauttmansdorff castle.

it's a gorgeous day, very warm and sunny, perfect for a good, long look around the gardens.

we start in the forests of the world section of the gardens. one of the highlights is a plant called wollemia nobilis. a little over 10 years ago, this tree was discovered in new south wales, australia, after having been presumed long extinct. the oldest known fossil is about 90 million years old, which makes the wollemia one of the world's oldest trees.

the special exhibition about ginkgo trees is quite interesting, it even includes poetry, eg a poem by johann wolfgang goethe.

we make our way up the serpentines to one of the viewing platforms, stopping at some olive wood sculptures by gianfranco timossi - they are his take on dante's divina commedia (inferno, purgatory, paradise). olive wood is so beautiful, and the artist certainly did a wonderful job, as if what he wanted to express, what we wanted to show, had been there all along, merely asking him to make it more obvious, to lay it open.

the view from the platform is stunning. and the parrots in the background provide an unusual soundtrack.

we enjoy the sun gardens, with plants of the mediterranean including italy's northernmost olive grove, and all their lovely smells. we are amazed at the beautiful cacti and other succulents.

we make our way across the terraced and water gardens, with an english style garden, an italian style garden, etc as well as a water lily pond full of fat fish and tortoises. there, we sit for a while and enjoy the sunshine, and some peace.

finally, the landscapes of south tyrol present regional plants: flowers, shrubs, vegetables, trees. parts of it seem to drown in colours and are swarming with bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

basically, we spend the whole day there. we even bump into alex' parents who are doing a tour for german tourists.

before we leave, we also check out the touriseum which is devoted to the history of tourism in the area, before and after empress sissi. it's incredibly interesting to be taken back to a time when travelling was something hardly anybody did for pleasure, to see how people travelled 150 or 200 years ago, and how tourism changed the world. i think we spend over an hour in there!

if you ever find yourself in the merano area with a few hours to spare, make sure you go and visit the gardens, they are just too amazingly beautiful to miss.

pictures of day 09

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

elements, cattle, and mysterious strangers

day 17 at 30/30.

vii.11 - zinc - galvanize
vii.12 - nickel - nikolaus, she said
vii.13 - hop, skip and jump
vii.14 - silver - conversation with a silver chalice
vii.15 - zebra in b flat major
vii.16 - selenium - serenade in f minor: sixteen people, locoweed and cattle at full moon
vii.17 - an angel dangles her legs from a low-lying cloud

an angel dangles her legs from a low-lying cloud

this side of the blue, a cloud is my home. i sit and dangle my legs
in time with the opening of buds. orange is my favourite colour
today. there is no doubt about the flavours of the week: chili pepper,
stale gun smoke, the stubble-covered skin of strangers. i pick up
a knave of spades. my halo wobbles. a story shatters at my feet.

a hand stops me from tying up loose strands. i taste the stranger's
accent before he speaks – four millimetres of butter on a thick slice
of black bread. he wears mystery like a handsewn shirt, like chain
mail on a sunny afternoon. he steps into a circle i have drawn in my
sleep, claims the space of an eyelash, says nothing about my irises.

and i dangle my legs and ask about the last time he held a lemon-
coloured flower in his teeth, the angle of the moon above his city.
he smiles. curiosity killed the cat, he says. but then – a cat has nine
lives. he blinks as if day had come early, twirls my heart around without
lifting a finger. i want to tie him to my apron strings, bruise his mouth,

scratch out the purple lettering of his past. what's in your gun, i ask.
the touch of a butterfly wing, a pinch of sunrise, frivolous pastiches
of an otherworld
; his words melt into my sky. and i dangle my legs
and ask his name, but he has already turned to go. he no longer reads
my lips. but i know what he would reply: a name is a name is a name.

song of the day: clouds across the moon by rah band

Sunday, September 24, 2006

on 24 09 2006,

i have a pretty horrible, nearly sleepless night - which means i am not having the best of days either.

two people i know celebrate their birthday (i hope they do).

austrian qualifier tamira paszek wins her first wta tour title in portoroz at the age of 15 years and 9 months, beating maria elena camerin of italy 7:5, 6:1.

i have a headache.

the sun is shining, but it is terribly windy.

the last (rather tiny) pepper of the season on our balcony is bright red.

three morning glories bloom, tilting bright blue heads towards the sun.

i write a poem called zebra in b flat major. don't ask where such things come from.

sarah finishes her second round of 30 poems.

i am halfway through my seventh round of 30/30.

i finish three witches by terry pratchett and start reading haruki murakami's kafka on the shore.

a shrill sound from somewhere on the street is driving me crazy.

song of the day: happy hawaii by abba (stuck in my head since yesterday. it's starting to get on my nerves ...)

Friday, September 22, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 08: ultimate valley

monday, 21 august. while alex has to go back to work today, sepp and i take archie for a ride. or the other way round. from lana on, the road winds its way towards st gertraud in the val d'ultimo (ultental / ultimo valley). alex has recommended this valley because there aren't that many tourists, it's famous for the old farmhouses, and there is a hiking trail which takes you from one village to the next, and back.

we leave the car in st nikolaus and make our way towards the trail in the direction of st gertraud, at the back of the valley. the weather is lovely, sunny and warm. just what we need. the farmhouses we pass on our way are indeed gorgeous - old wooden houses with traditional roofs, usually a lot of flowers on their balconies and in beautiful gardens.

the pastures surrounding the farms are exceptionally steep - working here must be incredibly tiresome as everything has to be done manually.

we're both amazed at cows that are grazing even further up on those steep pastures. whatt if they lose their footing? do they land on unsuspecting hikers' heads? or has it, quite simply and quite amazingly, never happened?

at st gertraud we stop for lunch, at a restaurant across from a small mill. it's rather quiet here, and quite beautiful, with a fantastic view of mountains.

we take a different way back to st nikolaus, on the opposite side of the valley. pretty soon we get to the ancient larches ("urlärchen") - a few imposing trees well over 2000 years old and thought to be europe's oldest conifers. even though they are not the oldest trees i have ever seen, it is quite awe-inspiring to think that they were already there during the rise of the roman empire, and already quite old when charlemagne was still charles the little one.

for a while we enjoy the sunshine sitting on a bench with a lovely view of more farmhouses and the valley below, then we make our way back to st nikolaus.

alex was right though - very, very scenic valley, and if you ever make it to the area, do pay it a visit.

tonight it's bruschetta and pasta time. talk about delicious ...

pictures of day 08

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

good things

i love this time of year. especially on days like today. what a glorious afternoon! after work, i went for a walk on donauinsel (danube island), and sat in the sunshine for a while, in my t-shirt and skirt, bare legs and all, reading my terry pratchett book (witches abroad). i wish i'd had a camera, the light was amazing, so pure. i hope it stays like this for a little longer. hard to believe that it could be snowing in 5 or 6 weeks (not usually, but we have had snow before the end of october, even in vienna). *shiver*

when i came home, the new edition of poetry salzburg review was waiting for me in the mailbox; only yesterday i'd said to sepp it must be out any day now. yay! the nice thing about this issue is that i've got three poems in it (which i'd mentioned before, when i got the acceptance note) - two of them nigel poems, the other one of my rules poems, and all of them 30/30 poems. the other nice thing about it is being practically cheek to cheek with the ubiquitous ms agnetha ang - the two of us probably making up the loonie section. if you want to buy the magazine or further support poetry salzburg review (and it is worth it), you can get information here.

day 11 at 30/30 - to those poems listed in the previous post i've now added

vii.09 - neon - signs, signs, everywhere are signs
vii.10 - germanium - germania
today's poem has not been written yet. or, not finished, anyhow.

song of the day: o sole mio by luciano pavarotti

Sunday, September 17, 2006

goodbye holidays

sunny morning. i should try and enjoy the day, as it is the end of my holidays. back to work tomorrow. no more turning night time into day, no more sleeping in. but of course, i do need the money, especially since last week's class was cancelled. but i am a bit angry with myself for not making more of the two weeks i had since we came back to vienna. i have not finished putting together the manuscripts, nor is my inbox cleared (ha!!!). i have not been clothes shopping (i really haven't been in a mood for shopping this year), and i have not been out with friends much. i spent too much time surfing the web. but i have been writing, poems and emails and holiday reports. i have started working on manuscripts, i spent time reading, all holiday pics are edited. and the first english lessons for october are prepared.

it's day 8 for me at the 30/30 forum. so far, all poems except one are part of the periodic table series - and believe me, i'm learning a lot about chemistry through research. i used to abhor the stuff at school. (what i remember most vividly about chemistry lessons, is the one time when our teacher, a small, round woman, found one of my male classmates, then about 16, reading a novel that was part of the "denise" series - girlie romance novels. she started to investigate and, by the end of the lesson, had collected over half a dozen of those books. somehow, the boys lost their tough guy image for a while.) most poems are also ekphrastic; i seem to have a thing for kandinsky these days.

vii.01 - into the fire
vii.02 - scandium - in the blue
vii.03 - sodium - after paradise
vii.04 - magnesium - an abandoned woman considers alchemy
vii.05 - radium - a day in the life of marie c.
vii.06 - lithium - counter/gravitation
vii.07 - helium - being helios
vii.08 - Gallium - Le coq est mort
the official note has not been sent out yet, but the new tattoo highway looks finished to me, except the bio page. my poem Exit Centre Stage got a honourable mention in the a picture worth 500 words contest - as did arlene's Cat Woman.

acceptance note from eclectica - the secret meaning of greek letters: iota was written for their word challenge and will be published in the next issue. arlene and cheryl will be sharing zine space with me.

i am collaborating with a) arlene and b) nate for a challenge at ITWS. and yes, they consented. own free will and all that. never mind the gun i pointed at their heads.

song of the day: plug in baby by muse

Friday, September 15, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 07: under the influence?

sunday, 20 august. something is wrong. definitely. and in a way that i don't recognise. i wake up feeling dizzyish, but not in a familiar way. it is decidedly odd. it's like ... do you know the feeling when you get off board a ship or boat and the ground seems to be moving, gently rising and falling like waves? it's a bit like that. it's also a bit like watching myself, as if there were a delay in reactions or something. as if i were under the slight influence of some drug. what on earth did they put on my pizza last night? the mushrooms didn't look suspicious! for the life of me i cannot explain what is going on. as we sit in the kitchen over brunch, it keeps hitting me in waves. sometimes i am okay, and then, suddenly, everything swims, or feels slightly surreal. anyway, i am in no state fit to go hiking. so for a while we just sit around, and sepp cannot seem to make up his mind where to let alex take him.

alex shows us a brochure which mentions the alpine coaster, a summer toboggan run, and for some reason, it is called something french in the french note, something italian in the italian note, etc, but alpine coaster in the german article - which alex sums up as: "only in german it's in english." um. he has a point.

eventually, the guys leave to walk up some mountain from hafling-avelengo, and i spend the day resting, reading. it starts to rain rather heavily about 40 minutes after the guys have departed, and i expect that maybe they will be back soon anyway. but they are not. when lightning and thunder increase, and the mountains are all covered in clouds, i get a bit worried. but alex is experienced, so i trust they will be okay, perhaps sitting in some hut.

and i am right - they have nearly reached the first hut when the rain catches up with them, and they sit out the thunderstorm (which lasts a while), listening to a young teenage girl rather listlessly playing her accordion to entertain the guests. and, think back, wouldn't you have loved spending a sunday afternoon playing to a throng of tourists, when you were 13? no need to answer that one.

due to the change in weather, alex and sepp have to abandon their plan of going higher. the pics show that the view from up there is quite spectacular.

they also stop by a little chapel which features this poor gentleman:

they return with the news that there is a dinner invitation from alex' parents, and i am incredibly sorry to have to decline, but i am still feeling a bit funny. but so there's all the more left for sepp and alex who do accept the invitation - as they should. frau pastore has got a new fan since then. sepp gets all starry-eyed when he speaks about that dinner. he still does. no kidding. apparently they have to eat huge portions of mushroom risotto and at least three helpings of dessert. poor guys.

pictures of day 07

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

today, i have been

a night owl ~ an absent daughter ~ a silent sister ~ a faraway grand-daughter ~ a part-time wife ~ a poet ~ a reader ~ a looker-on ~ a passer-by ~ a listener ~ a picker-up of overthrown pots ~ a singer-along ~ a non-teaching teacher ~ a receiver of an acceptance note ~ a customer ~ a photographer ~ a woman ~ a girl ~ a deleter of junk mail ~ a worrier ~ a viewer of newborn-fanny pics ~ a blogger ~ a dreamer ~ a wannabe hiker ~ a sun worshipper ~ a procrastinator
tired ~ quiet ~ unfocused ~ solitary ~ creative ~ weak ~ honest ~ indecisive ~ calm ~ relaxed ~ frustrated ~ happy ~ interested ~ concentrated ~ uncharitable ~ prejudiced ~ right ~ wrong ~ confirmed in some opinions ~ critical ~ hopeful ~ thirsty ~ self-conscious ~ a little melancholy ~ full ~ attentive ~ surprised
and aware of the fact that what looks like still-summer, is not quite that anymore. it's in the cool evenings, the four a.m. chill, the smell of the wind, the quality of afternoon light, the colour of berries on bushes.

lotta's newborn daughter fanny

this afternoon at wienerberg

song of the day: didn't leave nobody but the baby by gillian welch, alison krauss & emmylou harris (o brother where art thou OST)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 06: padlocks on bridges, poetry on benches

saturday, 19 august. it's good to have one's own personal tourist guide, especially one who knows quite a bit about the city he lives in (merano, in this case) as well as its surroundings. alex does a wonderful job that day, and he probably isn't personally to blame for un-cooperative mountains ("over there are many mountains that are over 3000m high, only you cannot see them right now, because of the clouds ..." - a sentence we grow rather fond of that day).

over there, the mountains over 3000 metres ...

first, we walk around the city centre where it becomes apparent that alex knows just about every other person who isn't a tourist. the place is packed. but quite beautiful. lovely arcades. parks. jugendstil buildings. brand-new thermal baths. the catholic church. padlocks on a bridge, left there by those who are done with military service, and happy about it.

we've left the army now!

a very inviting promenade along the passer river, that goes past the spa house. we're following in the footsteps of empress sissi here, and in the wandelhalle, a colonnade whose walls are decorated with paintings of landscapes in south tyrol. we follow the gilf promenade, quite a romantic path that leads up to the zenoburg castle. subtropical plants grow along the way, and on the other side of the promenade, the passer river has eaten its way into rock, forming a gorge.

what appeals to me is the benches along the gilf promenade - most of them are inscribed with lines from poems, in italian, german, and even in english. what a lovely idea!

one single specimen of eternity - each of us poets.

up we go until we have reached the pulverturm (powder tower). we climb the stairs, and yes, alex is right: what a great view of the city and the surrounding countryside and mountains! houses, churches, narrow streets lie at our feet. in every direction - mountains. though of course, those over 3000 metres hight, well ... those clouds ... *grin*

merano & surroundings

and although alex looks like a really nice guy, well, he can do things like this to unsuspecting visitors:

will you let us out if we do the washing up?

the gilf promenade joins the tappeiner weg, a high-altitude promenade that's actually about 4 km long and goes as far as the village of gratsch - which you will hear about again on another day. we follow the tappeiner weg as far as the serpentines to descend into merano's centre again.

live long and prosper!

i wish i could remember half of what alex tells us!

pretty soon we head back to the car and pay a visit to alex' parents before going shopping and getting changed at home. that evening, we join alex and several relatives at a pizzeria - an aunt and cousins, alex' parents and his sister martina whom we have not seen in far too long, and a cousin's cute little boy who is very fond of motor cycles. it's quite fun actually. afterwards, martina, alex and the two of us sit and chat over few drinks, and we don't go to bed till very late.

pictures of day 06

Monday, September 11, 2006

should i know better ...

... than to start another round of 30/30 at ITWS? i don't know what got into me. the forum is very busy these days, seems like everybody is there - including arlene, sarah, lauren, and sharon. (nate, where are you??)

i started with an ekphrastic poem - inspired by an untitled basquiat painting:

into the fire

midday draws smoky covers over one
solitary eye, melts colours on a grand
palette. a house wants to tilt left, sink
sighing to its knees. overhead, a hole
in the sky replaces languid birds.

clumsy letters scream on dark walls:
there is no deliverance. children have
abandoned them, forgotten to arrange
their spindly arms and vampire's teeth
in tidy formulae. ladders lead nowhere.

behind them, fire coaxes bats from
secret roosts; its breath spreads heavy
blankets over insects in their little sleep.
a man in ragged clothes walks towards
flames, his hat about to burst into wings.

really not sure how long i will last this time. i may not be working right now, but i will be working quite a bit starting next week, and then we'll see. it's just that i hate giving up once i have started. so far, i have not had to quit early.

watched the us open of course. federer is just a league of his own. ah. how effortless he makes it look. austrian junior tamira paszek made it to the girls' finals, lost to the #1 seed in a close match (6:3, 4:6, 5:7). one to watch!

song of the day: since i have been living in the 80s today, it's cock robin - the promise you made

Sunday, September 10, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 05: the not so glorious disappearance of summer

friday, 18 august. the forecast may still be going on about summer! summer! summer! only nobody else manages to believe it. torrential rain wakes me several times that night, and nothing changes in the morning. it really is quite bizarre: the radio keeps going on about sunshine here, hot & sunny day there, and on the campsite people keep saying they have spoken to friends or family in the west, in the east, and in between, and nobody has actually seen the sun! hm.

we don't pack up straight away - never fun, striking a tent in the rain. also, it keeps getting lighter, and sometimes the rain nearly stops - but only to increase again. and who knows what might happen the next day. somehow we have lost faith in what the forecast says. yeah really. sooo - during ten not-so-wet minutes, we throw our stuff in archibald's (not quite archie yet) big belly, and we decide to visit our friend alex in south tyrol this weekend rather than next.

as we head towards lienz in east tyrol, the rain eventually stops. we cross into italy and drive to meran via sillian - toblach - bruneck - brixen - bozen. we stop somewhere along the way, a very sunny spot and i suggest drying the tent by putting in on archibald's roof. genius eh? it works too. the whole dripping thing is dry in no time. we get in touch with alex who says he'll be home around six. excellent.

the further south we go, the more vineyards we pass, and eventually we enter apple country: trees stretch for miles and miles. in any case, northern italy is sunnier and much, much warmer than the area we have left behind. let's just hope it stays that way.

we get to alex' place in marling near merano about two minutes before he arrives, together with his father. alex is my old roomie - we shared a flat with birgit in vienna for a couple of years, and it was such great fun. he moved back to italy a few years ago, and this is the first time we are visiting him, though we have seen each other a few times in vienna. it's quite a beautiful area, it seems, around merano. mountains everywhere, of course. we look forward to exploring.

thanks to alex, we now know that this is where, geologically speaking, europe meets africa: the reddish rock you see is part of africas tectonic plate, to the left is europe.

laundry, food, catching up, making plans - that's what is on the agenda until bedtime.

pictures of day 05

Saturday, September 09, 2006

why don't you ...

... read collin's blog post "poetry in crisis??!!"?

... listen to the elected?

... tell me the secret of how to sleep on full moon nights?

song of the day (night, really): the elected - a time for emily

Friday, September 08, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 04: the glorious return of summer

thursday, 17 august. ahhh! that's more like it! sunshine! blue sky! no drip-drip sounds, no wet shoes, no puddles around the tent. so today's the day to do what we'd planned for the previous day: we take the chair lift up to naggler alm from techendorf, which is nice, and then we have to choose which way to go. we decide to hike to kohlroeslhuette, and off we go. it's not a difficult hike or anything, quite pleasant, of course going uphill all the time but nothing too steep. the sun is out most of the time, but clouds do move in at times.

lots of mountain bikers along the way, surprisingly no tourists with sandals and other scandalous footwear (you wouldn't believe the things you see in the mountains!), quite a few germans and italians, eg this italian couple with a little boy called ricardo, who seems to have quite a will of his own. when we meet them again later, his father is carrying him on his back, and ricardo keeps going "vroom! vroom!" urging his daddy on. tee-hee.

we don't stay at koehlroeslhuette - too many people, and anyway, we have brought our own food, so we find a nice place somewhere and have our sandwiches. i'd hoped i could stretch out in the sun a while and read, but just when we are having our lunch break, the sun disappears behind big grey clouds, and the wind gets a bit chilly too. so we take a different route back to naggler alm, this time we are not following the dirt road, but descending on a narrow path that cuts across the woods. lots of potential stumblestones (roots, etc) there, but even i manage to avoid them! *G*

at naggler alm, we stop for something to drink and lovely blueberry cake. we sit in the sun a while, though not too long - more clouds are on their way. time to go, and since sepp is developing blisters, we choose not to take the steep but quick descent to techendorf (which we have done before), but to follow the dirt road. takes a while, but we get there eventually.

nice day, all in all - some lovely views, and also some peace and quiet.

we are determined to do something similar the day after, because, after all, the forecast is going on about summer! summer! summer!

pictures of day 04

Thursday, September 07, 2006



the good thing is, today it is actually OKAY if you just do what you want. and you are always right, no matter what. and you can eat tons of chocolate. and drink all the bubbly you can get your hands on. and flirt with some gorgeous italian men.

enjoy the day & rock on!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


12 days ago i stood in front of the residence zenith in cáorle, a little town on italy's adriatic cost, where i spent many weeks with my parents and brother(s) during my childhood and teenage years. after sepp had taken a picture of me at the entrance, i told him that in this house i had been properly kissed for the first time in my life. it was a guy called sean from outside waterford, ireland. i still remember how it happened, how we were joking and suddenly i think we both knew that really, we were talking about something completely different between the lines.

looking through the pictures a couple of days ago, i decided to try and google sean. i had tried before - i sometimes do that, i type in names of former classmates or people i met travelling, or long-lost pen-pals. but in sean's case i had never been successful. this time, however, i was.

what i gathered from the first document that seemed relevant, was this: that sean drowned a little over two years ago. there was an address, his parents', and it did sound vaguely familiar. still, i decided to look further, and found out that sean had died in a diving accident off the coast of northern ireland. the age given and a few other details all pointed to the sean i had once met, kissed, written to a few times, and then lost touch with.

i sent two emails - one to a father gearoid, one to a diving buddy. one answer came yesterday, father gearoid promising to make inquiries, and one came today, with a link to a tribute page for sean. thank you both. i am especially grateful for the link, because it tells me a little about what kind of person the teenage boy i met on an italian beach turned into. (i don't have any doubts now that this is the sean i knew.)

it's strange - we met so briefly, only for a few days, and we never saw each other again, nor did we hear from each other in nearly 20 years, and still, still this affected - and affects - me.

here's the poem i wrote, still kind of in progress (feel free to make suggestions), and incidentally the first one of a series i plan to do that could be hard work.


       in memory of sean power, drowned 2004,
       the first boy to kiss me

even before we get off on the third floor,
something's lurking behind laughter,

the familiar smell of beach half-washed
down the drains. i know the hollow sound

of knuckles on lime-green wainscoting,
but not the way it sighs against my back.

lift doors close discreetly, the hall light
clicks out. inside me, tides turn. a joke

fizzles out in whispers. your hands long
to live in my hair, like wind and sand,

the murmur of waves. cracked lips meet.
you taste of a sea so different from the

cold, determined ocean that will pour
into you one irish summer. my mouth

can't help but open. i understand the pull
of depths, the urge to dive, and dive.

one could forget that surfacing too fast,
air would cut through us like knives.

song of the day: tori amos - northern lad

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 03: drip and plop

wednesday, 16 august. the weather gods do not share my view of all that rain being nonsense. the austrian weather forecast does not share my view of rainrainrain not exactly being the triumphant return of summer. by ten thirty it's getting a bit annoying to hear the radio announcer talking about grabbing your swimming gear and enjoying the sunshine, when all we see is clouds hanging low over the lake, and great big puddles of rain!

there is not much to do around the lake in that kind of weather, so i suggest driving to spittal for some tennis. we stop by my parents', but they have gone hiking, because the weather was better that morning, and they made the mistake of believing the forecast. (turns out they should have stayed at home, they get themselves into a bit of a dangerous situation there along the way.)

sepp and i play for two hours. indoors of course. on the court next to ours, two men in wheelchairs. i've never seen that live before, and now it turns out i actually know one of them - herr podbelsek was a geography and PE teacher at my high school, and his daughter iris was in my class. i briefly talk to him on court, but we have a longer chat afterwards. i know he has been in a bad car accident some years ago, and now he can barely walk, but he is still very much into sports. he is in constant pain too. it's either sports or morphine, he says, and he has never been one to sit around somewhere. in the end he even remembers my brother martin whom he taught for a couple of years.

sepp and i take said martin out to dinner that evening, and he entertains us with stories and anecdotes of student life at the department of history at klagenfurt university. then it's back to our tent for sepp and me. wet wet wet, the world around us.

no photos of day 03. puddles aren't that interesting after all ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 02: first action for feet

tuesday, 15 august. we don't exactly get as early a start as my parents would have wanted to, but eventually we make it out the door, and mom, dad, martin, sepp and i are off to weissensee, a most beautifully situated lake which is lovely all year round. we park the cars and walk towards a place called paterzipf (pater = padre, zipf = point, end, tail, but could also be a slang term for penis, which makes the name a tad funny). from there, we hike up to bodenalm. the headache i woke up with is not getting better, and i am feeling really faint somewhere along the way, but after some rest, it does improve. it's quite warm, especially when the sun comes out and we are not walking among trees. we stop at the hut at bodenalm to get something to drink, and also a bite to eat – from kaiserschmarren to huge slices of bread with bacon, or bacon & eggs.

mom & dad at bodenalm

cowbells tinkle faintly, bees buzz, the sun's out … pretty much the holiday feeling!

we take a different path back down, through the forest, across meadows. wonderful for hiking. once we have reached the lakeshore, nobody can stop my mom and me from taking off our shoes and socks and bathing our feet in the pleasantly cool water. perrrrfect! the men are all either too lazy or too scared of water to join us.

weissensee, near paterzipf

back at the carpark, we say goodbye to my family for now, but not, as it turns out, for long.

sepp and i set up our tent at the campsite in techendorf, the main settlement along the shore of weissensee. apparently the bread with loads of bacon was a little much for my stomach, i feel sick and don't fancy a big dinner, but sepp's seriously hungry. he gets what he wants at the restaurant around the corner, before we retire to our "suite". some time during the night, i wake up because it is raining quite hard, and i will the weather gods to stop that nonsense and let the sun out come morning …

pictures of day 02 (and 01)

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 01: archibald. sir archibald

========== ========== ========== ==========
okay, first couple of days of the trip. i'll add some every day or every other day until it's all done, but i will also post other stuff if there is anything to tell. enjoy.
========== ========== ========== ==========

monday, 14 august. 1pm. we are supposed to pick up a small renault megane at schwechat airport, but they don't have any cars left in that category, therefore we get a sport tourer, the biggest car we have ever rented. a diesel. black. quite impressive. it is clear immediately that this one will need a different name than last year's little vw polo called WUZ (after his number plate; pronounced "woots"). sepp suggests archibald. sir archibald. yes, but that is not enough. flanagan, the surname to go with it. but even so, a second and third given name are needed. so, eventually, we settle on sir archibald bartholomew chesterfield flanagan, hoping that after a while, when we have gotten to know each other a bit, he might let us call him "archie". and he does.

once we have figured out how to start the car without a key (instead, we have a kind of plastic card), we are on our way south. while vienna is sunny, 100 km south it is raining. the weather forecast is nothing to get excited about either. but still, we are hoping for the best.

we stop once along the way, and arrive at my parents' in spittal an der drau early that evening. dinner (kaerntner nudel and kletzennudel - aaahhh!), catching up with mom, dad, granny, and my youngest brother martin, and before we know it, it's midnight and time for bed.

pictures of day 01 (and 02)

my other faces

what do you think? do i look like these people?
(for better view, right click, show image)

call me stupid, but: who is celina jaitley? who is kimberly williams? who is rachel bilson? never heard of them. and i hope i do not look like that jaitley woman (in this pic) ... honestly.

nana mouskouri eh? tickles me pink. oh and who is caprice bourret? and karolina kurkova? and that jaitley girl came up again!

what i have learned is: i need to read more international tabloids and women's magazines. if i had read vogue or cosmopolitan just once, i might not have to appear so ignorant here ...

working on travel reports/pictures. caught up with an old buddy of mine, matthew in seattle. you don't chat for what, only a couple of years, and suddenly he's married and has a daughter! tsk.

song of the day: the walkabouts - hole in the mountain

Saturday, September 02, 2006

five animals

five animals we encountered on our trip:

a hungry pig

a nosy cow

a potentially suicidal snail

nessie on vacation

and (this one is for sharon)

a woolly snake

more, much more, to come. i am working on it.

song of the day: bob dylan - man gave names to all the animals

six things

annette tagged me, so here are

six things you may not have known about me

i've been kind of wanting a tattoo for about fifteen years now, but i can never decide what to get. i keep going from some japanese character to something celtic to the @ character (which would make sense for an internet junkie like me), and the latest idea is to get a bar code, with my birth date for numbers (2 1 1 1 1 9 7 1). ask me again in five years. ;)

i have a little scar on my forehead from when a schoolmate accidentally hit me with a table tennis bat during our one-month stay at an english boarding school in 1988.

i travelled australia on my own for half a year after high school one of the best things i ever did. during that trip i worked as a bean-picker in mildura, victoria.

little did i know that a girl's almanac my mother gave me one christmas (or birthday?) would change my life: a poem by a young girl that was printed in the book, inspired me to sit down and write my first poem, which may not have been very good, but it was the start of something that has never stopped. over 20 years later, i am still writing.

my first publication was a poem about autumn, written partly during a geography lesson, which made it into the top 100 poems (out of over 10000) of a german magazine called maedchen (=girl). i think i was 17 at the time.

i share a birthday with bjork, goldie hawn, voltaire, rené magritte and arthur quiller-couch. they're all older than me though. ;)

and now i get to tag six people!
arlene, sarah, sharon, nate, jenni, nicole.
but i am not saying no to anybody else who wants to do it! :)

song of the day: jenny lewis with the watson twins - big guns

And I've won hundreds at the track
But I'm not betting on the afterlife