Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moving on - one moment at a time

Okay! My blog is not boring!
I thank you (the faithful readers of hillybillyfarmgirl) for letting me know.
AND - I agree! I do!

It's just that I wish I had more to share at the moment.

Even though I am not posting regularly, I do take blogging very seriously.

I think we all try to leave a "foot print" or "skidmark" in some way, right?!
Well, we do anyways. Even if we don't try.
We all leave a print or mark in some form, on something, someone, everyone we ever meet, with everything we ever do.

Deep or shallow.
Big or small.
With words and actions.
Even with passivity.
Positivity or negativity.

Our goal should be to leave a positive print/mark, right?!

To get there we must be positive from inside. It all starts inside.

I did have a brief, negative "down" those past few days.
One of those downs where you worry too much, where you let yourself down.
But now I am back on track.
*i hope* ;-)

MIKA is doing great.
He's playful and happy.
He was just "out" for one day, the vet did a fantastic job.
Mika was cryptorchid, meaning that one of his testicles failed to descend into the scrotum.
But the vet was able to locate and remove the "hiding" one as well.
We are happy for him, now he will be able to grow up without any hormone - caused stress.

Tomorrow we'll go and see the (German Shepherd) puppies again.
They are now 3 weeks old and their eyes are open. I am curious how much they have grown and if they are seeking contact with us. Maybe it is too soon for that, I don't know.
I might take some photos if the breeders allows it.

Now I will go and keep my pillow company, for the next 8 or 9 hours, at least!
Mika has accepted that the door is closed and hasn't scratched for days now.
Our "ignore - policy" has worked.

Oh ja... it's still very cold here. Many parts of Sweden had to deal with blizzards yesterday and last night. Lot's of additional snow has fallen.
BUT NOT HERE! We did't get anything. It was just a bit windy and COLD.
A friend (living just one hour south of here) called us this morning to tell us how much snow had been falling. She even send a photo with her cell phone...
It took me some time to "find" the bike...
I wonder how she managed to even open her front door. She said there was snow literally everywhere!

Well, the fire (in the tiled stove) is almost out. Time for my beauty sleep! :))

Have a great (Saturday and) Sunday everyone!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Love Moose!

I realize that my blog has become pretty boring and I don't quite know what to do about that yet.
Writing about the weather and temperatures and putting in some nice photos just doesn't do it anymore.
Quite boring to do a blog like that and I can imagine that is is also quite boring for my readers.
Life in blog-land can be truly boring.

Luckily that isn't true about my "real" life. :))
Especially on days like today, when you drive through the country side, unsuspecting.
You drive and enjoy the winter landscape.

You are on the way home from a walk with Cleo and Hasi is driving, the camera is on the back seat, Cleo sitting in my lap.


Until Hasi hits the brakes and - in a very firm way - says "Grab the camera! Now!"

She stopped the car, backed it up about 20 meters.

That was when the two animals started to move, they really didn't want to hang around for us.
Here are the shots (cropped) I took before they disappeared behind the hill...

This happened just about 1 - 2 miles from where we live. Maybe they'll stop by our place someday...

We love Moose!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And the "winner" is...

Just interesting...

AUSTRIA (That's where I grew up):
Austria has around 8.3 million citizens.
Austria's size is 83.871 km²

The NETHERLANDS (Hasi's homeland):
Citizens: 16.5 millions
Size: 41.528 km²

SWEDEN (The country that we call "home" now):
Citizens: 9.2 millions
Size: 450.295 km²

USA ( A country we love to visit):
Citizens: 308 millions
Size: 9.6 million km²

And the "winner" is.....

Holland! Congratulations! :))

Well, now you might wonder what this is all about, right?

We all know what happened in Haiti.
We are all very shocked, some call it the biggest human disaster ever.

Those people need help and the only way most of us CAN help, is giving money to those who lost everything. All they have left is their lives.

I think that almost every country and every organization around the globe is reaching out to the people in need, by collecting money.

I have to admit that I don't have any numbers of how much money has been collected in Sweden or the US, or other countries for that matter, but I have numbers for Austria and Holland...

Since that terrible day of the earthquake in Haiti the austrian folks donated (up to today) around 6.9 million Euros.

The dutch people managed to donate 43 million Euros - yes 43! In just ONE DAY.
Isn't that remarkable?
And the dutch cabinet "just" doubled that amount. Just like that.
Not bad for such a small country, don't you think?!
Despite the economic crisis we are all having to deal with right now.

So that is why I call the dutch people "winners".
Respect! Respect!

The real WINNERS of all the generosity all around the globe, are the people in Haiti though.

Nature Reserve - Where are all the birds?

Here are some more photos I took on our walk on tuesdays.
This was the first time we drove out to that place, we'll definitely go back there when the snow is gone.
I mean, it's really not that much snow, it is no problem to walk down to the lake and look for birds, not for us anyways.
It's Cleo that is having problems with it. Not that she doesn't want to, she just simply can't do it. Her legs are quite short and her little feet are getting sore after a running for a while in that very cold, sharp snow.
I am sure that those little dog boots would be great for her, but would she like them, I don't know.

Here's two pictures of the reserves guideposts.

I hope we'll be able to get closer to the water next time and see some birds. Doesn't matter what kind.
In the meantime I will focus on other nice motives like fenceposts and snow for example.
I went down on my knees for this shot...

Can you see the tire on the fence?

There it is...

Nothing spectacular, just some very level country.

View oft the village of VIBY, their church is very pretty.

Can you guess who that is? ;-)

All dried out and frozen. Waiting patiently to be awakened again in just a few weeks.

Mika's operation went well. I dropped him off at the vet at 11:45 am and picked him up again 45 minutes later.
He's still asleep in the transport box, tugged in into a blanket so he stays warm. We started up the fireplace, not only for him, also because the snow storm has arrived here.
The wind is blowing and it's snowing here and there.

The roads are really bad to drive on so we are glad we don't have to go anywhere.

I hope you all around the globe stay safe and warm too!


Lovely, cold day

Yesterday we were blessed with a sunny day, very cold but sunny.

After my two appointments at school (about the bus-drivers education), I had to get some grocery shopping done. I decided to take home something sweet for coffee too.
Around 2pm we enjoyed that afternoon coffee and the cake-thing, and Cleo enjoyed the sun (that was coming in through the window) on her belly, laying in the big blue basket.

Then we went for a little drive.
I took my camera, just in case, and my iPhone which has a very useful little navigating application. That way we can find any (maybe hidden) backroad there is and navigate ourselves back home as well. :)
So we drove down (south) to one of the Nature reserve parks south of here. It's part of the "Vattenrike", the birding paradise of Skåne.

On the way there we "ran into" a pheasant who looked very surprised to see us.
At first he wasn't sure what to do..

Then he decided to prepare for take off...

Lift off...

And bye bye!

A new snow front has moved into Sweden, the snow started falling about one hour ago.
First it was just tiny crystals coming down, now the flakes are getting bigger and bigger by the minute.
In about one hour I have to leave, Mika has his vet's appointment today.
Of course he doesn't have a clue and is playing upstairs right now, wondering why we took his food bowl away last night...
He is very hungry I guess.
(Just in case you wonder why he isn't allowed to eat... he's scheduled for surgery around noon and that has to happen on an empty stomach)

I also have news about the bus drivers course. I will start next week wednesday. I am all excited and hope to be able to be finished, have my license and be ready to drive and work in April.
I don't think driving a bus will be any different then driving a truck, so that won't be a big deal but still...
I will have to study hard, there are a lot of swedish therms (in transportation) I have to learn.
I can't wait to get started! :)

In my next post I will show you a couple more photos of our walk yesterday. Nothing spectacular or so, just some more snow pictures...


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Walk up the overlook

We did get to walk in sunshine yesterday.
It was a wonderful day, cold but sunny.

The weather was inviting enough to climb up the hill to get to one of the few overlooks in the area.
The few was beautiful even though the air was kinda hazy.
I grew up on a farm in Austria, not in the mountains, but with a very nice view at the mountains, the Alps.
I was very often sitting outside and behind the barn and on clear days the visibility was hundreds of kilometers.
We could see countless mountaintops, the panorama was breathtaking.
I have to admit that I miss that sometimes.
It's nice to have those memories. :)

Here we don't have mountain view, but we do have lakes around here!
Love that!

Cleo enjoyed the walk as much as we did, or maybe even more.
Even though she's already 9 this year, she's as happy and lively as always. She is so happy and playful.

This is a crop from the above photo

And here Cleo is a bit out of focus, but I love the shot anyways!

Again Cleo running - I also took a couple of B&W's

A look on the lake north-east

And another look north-west, where the lake is covered completely with ice and snow.

Back at the parking lot I realized how dirty our car is and couldn't resist to take a couple of shots...

The sun is shining again today and of course we'll go on a little trip today, drive around a little, taking some backroads maybe. I am hoping for some good photo opportunities...

At the moment we are looking at the Slalom-Race on TV...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's sunny!

Yes, the sun is shining. Blue Sky!

Cleo will take us for a walk later, but first we have to watch the men's downhill race on TV, the famous "Hahnenkamm-Race" in Kitzbühl in Austria.

This race is always good for spectacular acrobatic histrionics, very entertaining.
AND the austrian runners are usually very good.
A little bit of patriotism can not hurt, can it. :)

The last part of my swedish test yesterday went well. I passed.
I'll have keep working on expanding my vocabulary every day, of course.
But now I have a solid foundation I can build on.
Grammar is not fun to learn, but it is necessary to be able to use vocabulary the right way.

Body Miller is racing down the hills of Kitzbühl right now...
I like him, he's such a crazy dude!
Lets see how fast he is.....

NO, he does not take the lead, probably he didn't go to bed on time last night.

We'll now watch the "rest of the best" racing downhill at a speed up to 140 km/hour....

Have a great Saturday everyone!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Good News

Good Morning!

We slept like angels last night. :))
Mika didn't scratch on the bedroom door once!!!
He seems to be a very fast learner and accepted the fact that the door is closed.
We would prefer to be able to let the door open though, you get just so much more fresh air that way, especially when it's too cold outside to open a window. I can't stand the draft that comes in that way.
But for now the door stays closed and that is okay.
And we don't have to feel guilty, he has several very cosy spots in the house where he loves to sleep. There is cat baskets upstairs, blankets near the radiator downstairs (where he lays on sometimes together with Cleo), the Sofa in the living room, and the big dog basket. AND between the shoes in the hall, he loves to nap there, when we are not home.
We are very proud of our little boy.

I really believe the best training method for a dog (or cat in that case), is to ignore bad behavior and reward the good one. Besides setting clear boundaries and rules AND having lot's of patience of course.

Remembering that will come in handy the day we'll get a new puppy in the house.
We are in the process of buying a German Shepherd puppy, we found a good Kennel and the puppies are already born. They are now only 2 weeks old and we haven't picked one yet.
We visited them last saturday and they looked like cute little guinea pigs.
Their eyes and ears where still closed and they were only making cute noises.
It was so wonderful to hold them and they smelled sooooooooo good!
Have you ever smelled a little puppy? They really smell awesome! No kidding! :)
We'll go there again next weekend to see how they are doing and if we can make a decision.
I'll keep you all up to date on this of course!

Today I'll have the last part of my swedish exam, the oral part.
Last night I got a text message from my teacher (and examiner) that I passed the written part, the exam was wednesday and took all afternoon.
I was so happy to get the good news already last night, it gave me a very good night sleep (which was not interrupted by a certain kiddy-cat;-)

It's nice to be able to look forward to a little break from all the books and the studying. Between now and the start of the bus-drivers course will probably lay a week or two.
I have been invited to a informative meeting nest Tuesday, then I will know a lot more about the when, how and where.

ALMOST WEEKEND PEOPLE! Isn't that cool?!!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update on "the problem"

Mika has only been scratching on the bedroom door 4 times last night.
We are determined to ignore this behavior and hope this will be the solution. We hope that he will eventually give up and accept.

It would be so easy if this house would have more doors. What I mean is, that the owners (we are only renting) took out the doors between the hall and outer office, and also the one between the outer office and dining/living room. So there's just no way to "remove" the cats from the sleeping/living area.
We will not crate him over night, that would be very cruel I think and it breaks my heart when I think of him spending all night locked up in a tiny space. He's a cat and he needs his freedom.
Besides, he would probably make even more noise trying getting out of the crate!

Another option we are considering (if the ignoring doesn't work out) is that we will put him in one of the upstairs bedrooms over night. He would be miserable up there, but he could move around at least.
We will see how things progress.
Thank you for all your tips! :))

We've got some more snow yesterday. Not much, maybe just one inch or two.
The birds are coming to the bird feeders every day now. I noticed that the blackbirds are "back". I don't know really where they have been and what they were up to these past months, but they are back.
Mika and Missy like to watch the activities from inside, their little noses glued onto the windows.

Life around us changes every single day.
So much is going on in this world and the shocking news about the people suffering at Haiti makes you pause and think for a while.
It reminds you how fortunate you are that you have a nice, warm home, a car, a warm meal on the table every day.
It reminds you of having the privilege of good health care and you just need to turn the knob and you have warm and clean water coming out of the faucet.
It reminds you of how quick things can change, even in your own country, your own home...
Even though the disaster happens thousands of miles away...
you might think you are safe, but are you really?


Tree in the yard...

Once there was a swing on a big, strong tree.
I hear the children's laughter, it's still there even though
those years have passed.

The tree is dead and the swing is gone.
The rusty chain is the only reminder.
If it wouldn't be for the chain, we could not hear the children's laughter anymore.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Houston, we have a problem!

Now you might think I mean the hole in the gutter is the problem, right?
No, it's not.

It's not Missy either, she is one adorable, always well behaving cat!
She's not going out now, it's way too cold for her - she thinks.
I took this shot of her and her beautiful green eyes from outside through the window.

Back to the problem.
Yes, it has to do with our sweet juvenile tomcat Mika.

The problem is that he thinks he's a dog!
The fact that he's following us around everywhere we go is cute, we enjoy his company because he's funny and very playful.


whenever we try to sleep a little longer in the mornings (that would be mainly in the weekends), he gets bored and comes every 5 minutes to kiss and cuddle.
OR he plays with those imaginary mice under the bed!

He's used to us getting up around 6:30 every morning and when we do so, he's all happy and races around the house.

But if we don't he's not that happy...

BUT when WE are in the need of some extra hours of sleep, WE don't care so much about his happiness.
Why should we, I mean he's lucky 5 days out of 7 right? That's not too bad, isn't it!
We close the bedroom door.
YES, we look him out!


BUT as I said, he sometimes thinks and behaves like a dog, he really does.

Every other cat would sit on the other side of the door, MEOW a couple of times and give up eventually.
But Mika doesn't think about MEOWing, he thinks scratching on the door is more effective.
He must have been a dog in his former life, OR Cleo gave him a hint... who knows.

So he scratches the door, and he's very consistent on doing this.
It's very annoying cause as soon as you fall asleep again he's doing it again!
We really try to ignore him and not reward this bad behavior with attention.

I might have made that mistake once or twice - and he's a fast learner! :(

What a bummer!

Any suggestions?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today I saw...

AN EAGLE !!!!!!!

(I wish the following photos were mine, but they are not...)

Source of photographs is

I was on my way home from school today when I saw my FIRST swedish Eagle.


I don't know if it was a Golden Eagle (Kungsörn in swedish)
or a young White-tailed Eagle aka Sea Eagle (called Havsörn in swedish)
Actually I saw two, but I couldn't stop the car and one of them was circling over the field very close to the road. Unfortunately no chance to pull over or anything...

I surfed the net after I got home and there are about 150 (mostly juvenile) White-tailed Eagles spending the winter months here in the area around Kristianstad and it's famous Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO) and the nearby coastal line.

The Sea Eagles were almost exterminated in the late 50s due to the use of the pesticide DDT.
But then activists started to set up a program to help those wonderful birds to survive. Up to this day it has not been possible to take this species from the "red list" of endangered animals, but the numbers have gone up remarkably.
There are counting around 300 pairs today in Sweden (numbers relate to Sea Eagles only).
It doesn't seem a lot, but it is compared to 30-40 years ago.

Here a couple more facts:
Eagles can reach an age of 30 years.
In captivity an Eagle can live up to 40 years.
The nest they build starts out with a weight of about 100kg.
Over the years, as the birds are improving their homestead/nursery, the nest can grow up to a weight of 1000kg, be over 2 meters wide and a couple of meters high.
It's no surprise that they need a very strong tree to build this nest on, right!
That tree should be high and at least 100 years old.
So that is why it's no surprise either that today's modern forestry is now the Eagles biggest enemy.
Another fact is that they are majestic animals.

We really gotta visit one of the bird-watching towers around the Vattenriket pretty soon.
Gotta see more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God morgon allihop!

It's quite early and still pitch-dark outside.
Mika is playing with his tiny, furry (toy) mouse in the big "front" room as I'm trying to get ready for swedish class.
It's going well - I think - and my fellow students are nice people.
They come from countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Rumania, China, Irak, Russia, Kurdistan and Lebanon.
It's fun to learn about other countries and the way all of them used to live before they came to Sweden.
They tell (that's how we train swedish of course)
about why they had to come to Sweden and what they like about their new home country and what they don't.
Some definitely don't like the cold weather.
Snow is something many of them have never seen before.
Funny, for me it's the most normal thing ever.

But then I've never been in a real desert before.
Both snow and desert can be beautiful and harsh - same as the inside of a human being.

I've also never witnessed revolutions, starvation and war.

I'm so blessed.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold winter days

We've had some very cold winter days her in South Sweden.
During nights the temperatures went down to 15 below zero.
Even during the days it didn't get any warmer then that.
But now things seem to calm down a bit, at least here where we live.
The wind is coming from east and is blowing really hard since yesterday.
The thermometer shows temperatures around zero now, but the stormy wind makes the outdoors feel very hostile at the moment.
It's quite a challenge to keep the house warm at this point, the rooms are just too big and the house seems to have bad insolation.
(Good it's a rental and not our own, we would know where most of our money would go through the renovation process. )
The central heating is doing part of the job, the open fireplace here in the living room has to do the rest.
It's funny to see how the animals curl up around the fireplace.
We do too btw. :)

I was brave yesterday and went outside with my camera for a while.
I read an online tutorial about my camera all evening the day before and found out a lot of new things I didn't really know before.
I found out that I could preset things like sharpness and contrast IN the camera.
So I played around with that out in the cold!
Of course!
And I tried to get a nice HDR shot as well which is posted first on this post.
It's not really obvious maybe (compared to others) but it's a start.
I will play with this some more and post the results when it's time.
Conditions were not so good for trying this and I have to get to know the software I use to merge the images before I can present a couple of decent results.
(HRD means High dynamic range. An HDR image is composed of two or more separate exposures, taken at different exposure levels to capture the dynamic range that the eye can see but the camera cannot. So you take 3 images of the same object or landscape and special software layers them on top of each other.)

Here I took a "simple" shot of bunny-tracks in the backyard. :))
Cleo doesn't like it that they come into "HER" territory...
but I guess the bunnys have to take risks when they are in need for food (we throw out some old bread every now and then for them)
even though they know that this is the home of a very dangerous and wild little Jack Russel Terrier.

This is tracks in the snow on the field just outside of our yard. Someone seemed to have been looking for food there...

Following two pictures were taken on the inner yard.
The wind was blowing the snow off the roof.
In the second picture I was in IN the snow cloud myself.

Now it's time for me to start on my homework assignment.
And I have to take my meds too, that cold is still messing with me...

Have a great Sunday everyone!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

February 2006

It's hard to believe, these pictures were taken almost 4 years ago.
This was our house in Austria when it was still white. (We painted it green in 2007 - or was it 2008...)
Anyways, the winter of 2006 was a tuff one.
The snow started falling in November and it seemed it never stopped till february.
I mean it didn't continuously snow, the problem was that we didn't have a single thawing period in between.
So the snow kept piling up on the roofs...
We were practically snowed in and we were afraid that the truss would not be able to hold the weight of the snow any longer.
It was an older house and the beams just didn't look strong enough to me.
A lot of people seemed to have the same problem, some got help from the fire department to clear the roofs of snow and some had to go up there themselves.
I was one of the latter.
Can you see me up next to the chimney???
And look at the driveway, there was no way of coming through anymore.

It was quiet scary at the beginning but then my fear got replaced by despair.
There was SO MUCH SNOW!
And it was heavy too.
I think I was up there close to four hours that day and got most of it off. At least at the most crucial places.
I couldn't free the gutters from all the ice though, but that didn't matter anyways, they were already destroyed.

I will never forget that day.
I had never seen so much snow in my life before... at least not on a roof!


Today's the last of the christmas holidays here in Sweden (and most of europe).
It's snowing, grey and cold outside.
AND we are under the weather meaning we somehow managed to catch a cold.
We are sneezing and sniffing and didn't sleep well for two nights in a row, it's no fun.

Tomorrow school starts again and I really hope I'll feel better then.
I was hoping for some sunshine today so I could go out with the camera... no luck so far.

But I am not complaining, life's good in general.

Isn't it!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Random Horse Shots - Part 4

So, this is the last part on this series. I don't know if I have time to dig some more in my archive anytime soon since school starts again tomorrow...

Andalusian (Austria 2008)

Jumping 1 (Austria 2007)

Haflinger / Jumping 2

Jumping 3

Jumping 4

I hope you all enjoyed the series!