So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog

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Back to Blogging!

Confused hound!

I’ve finally reached a bit of quiet and some space to write and I’ve got so many ideas that I want to get down too!  Its been a hectic few weeks compared to the rest of the summer, the high point being my daughter’s visit, much chat and SHOPPING!  Even without new blogs, I had one day when I had 30 hits, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to it.  I think I will go on Twitter just so I can link the Blog.

 As I write, I’ve got the neighbours Dalmation dog with me, who is very confused and thinks I’ve kidnapped her. Roland has been ill for a while and I’ve always said if I can help with Aika, please let me know.  This morning Lizzie herself was ill and also needed to talk to the Doctor so she rang me and I’ve had a glorious dog walk.  It was so good to get out with Doggie company,but my cynical voice said, this wouldn’t be such fun when its all icy!  Now I just wish Aika would settle a bit, she’s worried she’s been abandoned.  She’s hoovered the kitchen floor, you forget what dogs can find on an apparently clean floor!  Having seen Spotty dog in the Wooden Tops (that ages me), I’m glad to report that Dalmations really do walk like that!

The Indian summer has passed, with a fall of snow on the tops and the sycamores and larches turning gold at the same time, usually they’re a few weeks apart.  We’ve the National day bank holiday coming up, where we coould have done some specatcular walks – but not only are the high paths snowed up, its going to rain! Funny how one EU country has no trouble celebrating their land, (and they technically lost the last war), compared to our feeble washed out, scared of its own shadow UK!

Dave and I were all set to go to Germany this week for an Andrew Wommack conference, which we missed two years ago because of my working for Lois. This time, Dave’s  boss suddenly cancelled his holiday, and while I was annoyed at the time, I can see God’s hand was in it. During the time we should have been away, I’ve been able to help next door a little, and also run an EAGALA workshop with Edith and the horses, where we think we may have our first Lungau  customer. We were able to demonstrate the therapy to our sponsors from Tu Was (and I was allowed to do it in English!!!), and from the ensuing evening meeting, we have sponsorship for riding lessons for one of the Asylum seekers. Then when we watched Andrew online, his theme was something I’d been listening to on the old MP3 player while bog cleaning at the Burg!

The past few weeks have seen the end of the season at the Burg, with the last children, and a TV company filming which meant the season was extended while Stef was here – still I went, cleaned and came home!  It was one of these living in the middle ages and voting out a contestant each day things.  Having watched them filming, it makes you realise what a sham these things are.  When I last saw them, the two last contestants were knocking seven bells out of each other in the Hof with padded sticks…hmmm.  Just one more day this week to tidy the last bedrooms then finish.

I still havent really decided about next year. I’ll say I’ll be back so I have the option.  I did really blow it a bit with Erna too! We were cleaning the Rittersaal and I had to do another room, and I asked if she needed me again and she said no, so I wandered off, only to get shouted later because she expected me back to help after I’d done the room. Michaela confirmed I had said the right thing in German too!  Maybe just a miss understanding but quite honestly, I have no respect for the woman any more – it’s when you respect someone that its stressful. If I have to work with her again, I’ll just ignore her as we’ve done the end of this season.  I also went to the Docs, to find that my cholesterol is finally ok, but my thyroid is on the blink again – hence the extreme tiredness this season.  I wish I’d been able to see him sooner. On the higher medicine, I feel great, but of course I’m not working either. I’ve also managed to have a stinking cold and cystitis, which needed horse pill size antibiotics in the past couple of weeks too.  Not to mention the Panda having a major illness.  It was some speed control box, which was causing it to hiccup.  Dave’s still convinced I was imagining it, but the guy at the garage tried it with a bx from another Panda and it was ok.  Hence a huge garage bill too, but at least  Dave has a very small pension coming – if the Prudential can just get their system to accept our account number!

Well Aika has now been rescued and we’re going to have another round this afternoon -she’ll probably refuse to go with me!


Some comments please – what would you do?

Am I on the right way and I’m being so attacked because of it and should be rejoicing, or have I just really, really screwed up? Maybe there isn’t even enough evidence to convict me as a Christian!

Edith and I rowed after the last session with the Asylum seekers.  It was hot, they weren’t really interested as they had a Play bus coming, and we had a toddler which shouldn’t have allowed to come.  I also made the mistake of presuming that one of the horses was familiar with the horse ball we were using but he was scared.  When it was kicked, the horse jumped and nearly knocked the kid over. I then had to think on my feet for new games. Edith was out of the arena and no help when we should be together as a team.  Maybe I’m too used to working on my own and my own resources.  We were also being watched by some teacher doing an MA on integration.  So Edith tore me off a strip in front of him twice and I of course responded.  Why she couldn’t wait until after the session and do this in private, we looked like a couple of stupid women not professionals?  It was because she didn’t understand the games and I hadn’t explained.  We did go on after, and she came out with accusations of us needing to assess each session –completely forgetting we have done so each time and it was because of her appointments this time we couldn’t.  She admitted has no idea of working with kids, or the games, and when I suggested she needs to read her EAGALA  manual, she said she didn’t like taking people’s ideas – I gave up.  I tried so hard not to obsess about the whole thing, everything having been said and maybe I shouldn’t have had some beer with Paggy and Dave but I was hurting and lashed out at Dave in my pain.

After a day of calming down and praying, I was due an Erna day.  I was so calm about the whole thing and prayed I would be ok and not take offence etc, and I failed.  It began after breakfast when I said maybe we could do the Rittersaal if the rooms weren’t ready, she turned and looked at me as if I’d crawled our from under a stone and muttered about seeing rooms first.  My heart sank, I was in for another bad day. So I decided to separate myself from them and do the loos and turning the quilts so I didn’t have to be in the same room but working along side. Maybe this was a wrong decision as far as the other two were concerned I’d disappeared. I started sweeping one corridor which was dirty and got shouted at to leave it and go and take the rubbish away.  I was so annoyed, I’m afraid I uttered annoyance as I walked away and she kept on talking.  She may have been telling me they were having a break, I couldn’t understand, so I couldn’t find them where expected and it happened again later, no one said what we were doing, I was abandoned.  Things got late, there was an awful lot to do. And I could see we would finish late.  Now this was the one day I could not do that. I had a changeover to do at the holiday flat and didn’t know when they would arrive although they had been told 6.  I had prayed, used tongues and went around saying to myself I can take being ignored, but the whole day was getting to me.  So it happened, Erna asked to borrow Michaela’s phone to ring home and I had to say, I can’t stay.  So I got shouted at, YOU MUST, and I repeated I couldn’t.  She then said then I had to see Helmuth and other things which I couldn’t understand so I stormed out.  It was such a relief just to shout back in English at the top of my voice ‘Ahh SHUT UP’.  I went straight to Helmuth and said I just couldn’t stay and I’d been shouted at and ignored all day and had found my colleagues rude.  I said I would stay till 3, then I would be gone.  He of course did the tear welling up thing but was ok, so I went and cleaned bogs.  Michaela joined me and gave me all this rubbish about being left alone to finish stuff etc, etc, and I was so far gone I just said I couldn’t care less, I had covered for her when he was ill and had done areas on my own myself. I had told her that morning I had the flat to do, but of course it hadn’t registered. I left, the guests turned up two hours early, there wasn’t enough bed linen and so on.  I felt later I should offer an Olive branch and texted Michaela saying I’d come the next day and help, the reply to which was it was all done, why did I need to help?

So I don’t know what my reception will be.  I go back to work tomorrow, I’ve written my notice.  Will I give it in?  I feel disloyal leaving midseason but they are already advertising for more kitchen staff. Do I stay and hack it?  See what happens on the next Erna day on Friday?  What do I do?  I haven’t slept properly for days, it goes around and around in my head. Do I send Michaela a text asking if I can still have a lift or just say I’m coming in my car?  I have prayed and the answer is I have to follow the peace that God will give me – but so far I cant find it.

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An Encounter

Diktler Hutte, Weisspriach

Another late entry!

We had a lovely Easter weekend….. eventually.  I was exhausted by work and the Erna business.  Still we had a great time at Edith’s Easter fire on Saturday, there really did seem to be more fires despite all the new restrictions – a good healthy disrespect for petty minded officials!  I ate a chocolate bunny on Sunday – stuff the cholesterol. Of course now I keep worrying and have to pray myself out of it!   Oh but it was gooooood! Monday was spent sewing the garden with the veggie seeds – I just hope it doesn’t snow again.

Sunday we took a walk to the Diktler Hutte at Weisspriach again.  I love watching the old lady cooking Kasierschmarnn and ladling huge noodles out of the saucepans and onto the plates. I had Lungauer soup ane was presented with clear soup with the most enormous bacon noodle sat in it, wonderful! We sat inside and had a sudden conversation with an elderly couple at the next table. Who of course thought we were Dutch and then complimented me on my German!  Har har. He told us as usual about how the climate has warmed here in the past 50 years, and he remembered a metre of snow outside his house as a kid.  In the 1950s, there were 17 avalanches between Tweng and Obertauern and the trees were just snapped off.  He then got onto the EU, and we found as we’d thought, Austrians hate the EU as much as us, as well as the USA,Obama  and the Euro. Maye be we’re all more european than we thought in our dislike!  He then said, when the rest of the world has blown up the Lungau will still be here because it is so cut off from the rest of the world because of  the mountains in the north though less in the south. We were agreed Lungau is special!

Back to work tomorrow, as I write I’m leaving it to God, and I will endure, Lord give me the grace to live with the difficlt Austrian!

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EAGALA at last- yaaaaaaaaaay!

Our partners, Avarkur and Lucca the Icelandics

Last week Edith and I  finally began our work  under the Tu Was project.  After so many set backs, delays and  frustrations, we collected our first little group of four from the Asylum Seekers’ Hostel in our cars. We can get their bus fares paid, but we have to take the money to the Hostel, collect the used tickets and then take them to the Caritas office and get a refund – completely impractical, so for the first few times we’re collecting them and maybe it will sort itself out.

We began with some grooming, just so they could have their first contact in an unthreatening situation.  One girl (the 15-year-old translator) was dabbing delicately at the horse, scared of the dirt and  hurting it.  Two other kids cleaned just the tummy, keeping away from the head, but they all quickly relaxed and got into it.  Unlike most situations, we know nothing about these people except they have been through some sort of trauma to be there. We cannot talk to some of them as their German is limited and we rely on one of the group translating.  They are mostly children and mothers with a few teenagers, I would be a bit worried with younger men, but I don’t think they would come. Asylum seekers have such a negative press these days, but I hope I’m seeing them just as people to help, faith and culture are irrelevant.

 All became accustomed to the horses, so we lead them over to the school, freed the horses and asked them to collect a horse and bring it to us.  We did make the mistake of giving them the headcollars, we should have let them choose how to do it – well it was our first official session too!

The small girl got quite upset as the horse repeatedly walked away from her, then when she came over to us, he followed her.  I asked her what had happened, and after trying so hard not to prompt her in my bad German, she realised she had achieved her goal, having brought us a horse and was thrilled.  The boy was more concerned with working out how the halter fitted, but eventually to his joy made it.  Grandma helped our translator and after doing  the task herself.  She was  talking to the horse and I saw her smile and surreptitiously give the horse a kiss on the nose!  She was adamant she has never worked much with animals, but I would say her body language belies this – but maybe it was only donkeys!   The translator also achieved with some help from Grandma, and was so pleased she wanted to do everything including  riding back to the Hostel! 

We did a leading exercise with cones, but our younger horse read too accurately the boy’s body language and ran away as he was asking her to trot, so we had a break.  After that we did Life’s little obstacle, where one horse quite happily walked over the pole while they were trying to get the other over and they missed it.  They couldn’t keep quiet, but achieved it easily.  We then took the horses away as they were both becoming a bit uptight, it was their first full session too!   The group was so excited, it was so much fun, the only negative aspect was the formerly full of confidence girl  lost it around the horses.   They all signed up for next time, lets hope they will come. Coming with nothing, we’re also having to find some of them  shoes and jeans, to protect them a bit.  We will also never know if they’ll be suddenly moved on, and so have to treat each session as an entirety.

Under their situation in the Hostel and language difficulties, several of those who said they’d come to the first session didn’t, Doctors appointments, something to do, or maybe just fear held them back.  Hopefully the experiences of our first group would encourage the others.  I would so like to find out their stories but as yet feel unable to ask.  Next time, we’ll repeat the haltering with any new guys, then try to get them to find a metaphor the in obstacle for their lives, or we’ll suggest one and try to go a little deeper.

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Tales from the Burg

Berg not Burg!

Last Saturday, I was on my own for a shift, feeling refreshed after three days off and with a devil many care attitude as I arrived – quite a change for me!  The film crew had left the major rooms in the Burg in chaos, so there was relatively little to do.  I got chatting to one of the cooks who I know is a gossip monger and when she asked If I found Michaela ok, I said she is great to work with, but Erna not. The reply to which was she was glad not to have a lot to  do with her – quite uplifting to find it isn’t just me.  We then discussed finding work here, and I said I may leave this autumn – I wonder how long till that gets around!   Then I bumped into our boss lady from Vienna, and it was so nice to have a chat – and I was lazy and spoke in English.  I told her that I have ideas about changing how we clean the castle, but every time I mention it I’m completely ignored or unpopular, but she said she was interested to hear, and we made a date to meet next week when she meets collects her son. We also got into a talking about the lack of team spirit here, organisation and communication, and I told her a little about my job in the UK, and how here  a simple thing like a maintenance book as we had there would make a difference. Some repairs are never being done here and we need things like new bins and baby changing mats but no one will take responsibility to organise it.  Helmuth has enough on his plate. Then she said that next year there will be a part-time bloke doing just these things and stuff like team building on a regular basis.  Cor my subconscious went nuts- wouldn’t mind that job, but I’d have to spend the winter seriously improving my German! I expect it’s already decided but it gave me a little hope to dream.  When I spoke to Michaela the next day about changing the cleaning, as expected she said she has absolutely no interest whatsoever – except for rebuilding the shower rooms! We had a brilliant day that day, catching up on news and giggling in the Erna free zone.  We see less of each other now as the groups come and stay for longer, only needing one cleaner.

We were chatting to Katrin who was doing some ironing, and she hadn’t worked all weekend, although they were short staffed.  All the kitchen staff were in that day – doing what we wondered, most of the kids were out all day.  Katrin then said she was told she had to stay until 3 and has to do 53 hours this week to make her time up – it could be that someone was winding her up but Michaela and I heard them saying they must work as many hours as possible.  Michaela reckons they’re doing this so they don’t have to sign on so soon – extra hours mean are given at the end of the year as free/ time in lieu, if you see what I mean.  If they’re doing this, working unneeded hours, isn’t that a form of stealing?

The film crew ran seriously over time, and were still clearing up on Monday, they’d left a hoover in the Rittersal to clear up the remains of the fake smoke they’d made, fleck of white everywhere.  For the first time in xxxx years I cleaned between some of the floorboards and lumps of ancient dust and muck lifted out. This is why when we scrub the floor, the copious amounts of water wash some of it out, but it goes back in again, and sweeping just shoves more down, let alone the damage all this water does to the joists below.  All it would need would be once a year maybe a thorough deep cleaning and occasional hoovering.  Trouble is the boards are so worn, everything stains and that really can only be removed by scrubbing – or maybe something, like a carpet cleaner that pushes water in then sucks it out…….

Just as we were finishing, a group a ladies came on a tour, one was so sweet, dressed in a dirndl, great big boots and her hair in a plait around her head.  They went up into the minstrel’s gallery and sang a folk song, Wow, the hairs on my arms stood on end, it was beautiful.

When I was telling Helmuth about this, he told us he’d had a call from the village hotel (run by Russian mafia according to Paggy)  wanting a tour at 9.00 oclock in the evening, he’d of course refused as the Bug is full of kids and they are supposed to be settling for the night. He said blow him down if he didn’t find the ‘Verein’ or club that does the tours when he can’t, doing a tour later that night, so he chucked them out of the Burg and in a huff they went and had a drink in the Naschkammer.  Only for a couple to wander off to take photos, given away by the flashlights – he chucked them all out once mre!  I suppose now we’ll have guys in big suits threatening to burn the Burg down (again)!

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It was the bananas that did it!

Since I discovered the scheduling button I’ve put a load of blogs on but now have caught up with myself and need some new stuff.  It’s now early July and  lovely summer.   After our friends came and stayed and we had a trip to Tirol, I was exhausted, couldn’t sleep and just couldn’t catch up on myself. This lead to deep gloom and bad temper.  Exacerbated by that Erna too.  There has been one joy, and that’s teaching a young Croatian girl to ride, a highlight!

Michaela and I had a couple of relaxed days working and it was fine, then it was back to the three of us.  Erna’s completely insane about cleaning – it was so embarassing when she went in the Rittersaal which was all nicely laid out with candles by one of the teachers, obviously for some sort of end of course celebartion and she insisited on us putting it all away, and then the teacher returned……..  On the last shift I was ignored, shouted at ( I was actually waiting for instructions!), and to beat it all, she fetches bananas for herself and Michaela and none for me.  Oh the injustice! There’s an Erna ban on me scrubbing,(except when its puke)  I do it too dry apparently, so the two twits do all the work and I’m left hanging around and then they’re tired! I had a day on my own today and as there’s a film company in the Burg it was chaos and I couldn’t do much in the half hour before lunch so I sat with Gabriel in the Hof and chatted, watching the workmen putting up some sort of stage.  Rosie – the head cook and Erna’s main buddy saw us.  So I’m waiting for tomorrow to see if I get a moaning at for sitting.  On our last shift Erna also contradicted everything I said.  I feel if I’m going to be so treated I’ll take my MP3 player with me and ignore them!  If she moans I’m going home. Yet  we don’t have Erna much more this month (twice), and but a few times in August and not in September.  Is it worth making a fuss?  I’m not going back next year, God I’m sorry; whatever lesson you needed to teach me, I’ve got the point.  No where does it say in the Bible that I have to be a victim. I’m at the end of being able to live in peace with her.  I have such a sense of frustration, with the Therapy work , constant delays – Edith having been ill, my shifts not right and now she’s away for a week.  Her old horse really needs feeding up for the winter, he’s too thin now but she does nothing about it, despite my constantly asking her.  Dave has been great but is one of his phases of criticising all I do, the other day it was what I do with the butter knife and so on. I just have this huge rage in me which says WILL SOMEONE JUST LISTEN TO ME? Maybe this is all the frustration from childhood seeping through and maybe it’ll be resolved.