Jun 26, 2009

Iceland Expedition - Part 5

News from trolls, dwarfs, and elves

This is the last blog in the series that documents my first trip to Iceland with Bearbirds. Once again she has shared some fascinating photos from our voyage. And Mops amd Pops rell me that I must confess that these Iceland blogs have actually been written by Bearbirds, who has generously allowed me to post them as if they were my own.

We came to a lonesome place at Trollaskagi, the troll peninsula in the North of Iceland. In the morning the weather looked nice and we went out for a walk. We hiked along a small lake, the sun was shining and a farmer was going to spread liquid manure. He bent out of his tractor for a small talk with Bearbirds. It was so romantic!

When we reached the end of the fjord it got cloudy and a cold wind blew. Bearbirds climbed down to the shore and cried full of excitement, "Look at the wild Northern sea, Edelweiss! We nearly have reached the Polar Circle, we have crossed the 66th parallel already!"

I'm not a fan of such a big bathtub full of cold water, but the latitude was interesting.

"Am I now entitled to get such a cap we have seen in the 66° North shop?" I asked.

"Oh Edelweiss, I fear your head is too little for such a cap!"

I growled extensively (yes I can!).

Next day we intended to visit Gryla. Bearbirds had told me some stories about this old cruel troll woman and I was a bit afraid.

"Gryla isn't dangerous any more. She is turned into stone," Bearbirds said to calm me down.

But it was raining and storming and we couldn't dare to walk over a two miles long dam of billions of slippery pebbles to reach the isle Thordarhöfdi where the petrified or pebblefied Gryla lives. Bearbirds promised the weather would be better in the afternoon, but it wasn't.

We cancelled the troll visit and had a little walk around the hills in a hailstorm. Suddenly I stopped. An odd being peered at us out of the hill. Was this a munchkin troll?

"I don't know what kind of creature it is," Bearbirds said.

"Shall I ask it?" I whispered.

Believe it or believe it not, but this creature was a dwarf. Dwarfs lived in Iceland in the very olden days, but they are assumed to be exterminated since the Viking age.

"I'm the last dwarf maintaining the remembrance of the golden days. There will come a time …"

The last words of the dwarf were blown away. What a fascinating meeting!

On our way back to the East I fell in love with a big black emotionless tomcat.

"Forget him," Bearbirds said, "he has a heart of iron."

And then we had to take the ferry back to Denmark. My heart was full of pain about my lost love.

"I have told you of the elves," Bearbirds said.

"Indeed, you did, but we haven't seen any!"

"Look there!" Bearbirds pointed back at the coastline: "The elves are dancing their 'goodbye and come again' round."

Last week I got a call from Bearbirds. She will go to Iceland again in late August and surely I will come with her!

Comment from Hoopoe

Dear Edelweiss,

Do you agree with Mops and Pops that honesty is the best policy, or do you feel deflated to think that we all now know that it is actually Bearbird's writing, and not your very own? I suspect she has accurately captured your feelings and reactions.

May I offer my condolences over your unrequited love? Hearts of iron are pretty inflexible, and those windows to the soul, his eyes, imply a complete lack of the inner man, I think. A sweet little creature such as yourself is better off without The Black Cat, I'd say.

I wonder if you might consider this fellow as a more appropriate subject of adoration.

Your concerned friend, Hoopoe

Jun 16, 2009

Iceland Expedition - Part 4

The Bird Plague

Here is another Iceland adventure that Bearbirds and I had, with wonderful photos courtesy of Bearbirds.

It turned out that the second part of Bearbirds name was going to get a plague on our journey through Iceland.

Bearbirds was talking with a Japanese Christian missionary in the bus to Mývatn (Midge Lake) when he suddenly cried, "I beg your pardon a thousand times, but have a look out of the window, please!"

Three white swans were flying beside our bus over the deserted Icelandic highland. After a while they turned off.

"Probably they are humans turned into swans by a sorcerer or a troll," Bearbirds whispered to me when the missionary had apologized for the interruption a second time and had delved into his nice Japanese Bible. Probably he had to reread how to proselytize people without losing the famous Japanese politeness. It's like try to square the circle, if you ask me.

Finally we reached Mývatn and stayed in a nice hostel near the lake. In the night Bearbirds tossed and turned in bed and said, "I can't sleep. The birds are crying so loud!"

"It was you who chose the place near the lake," I answered without turning my face.

I was sitting on the windowsill watching the water birds busy in the moonlight to arrange their nesting places. There was a lot of discussions and quarrel among all the ducks, geese and divers.

Bearbirds was tired and grumpy the next morning when we had a walk uphill. The wind tousled my fur but the view to the snowcapped mountains of the highland was marvelous.

Then we went down to visit the mud pools. They didn't smell nice. Bearbirds stopped at a pool with blue bubbles.

"Do you want to have a bath?" I asked.

"Of course not! Silly cat, can't you see that it's boiling? I really don't like to be grilled!"

I would have liked to ask if there was hot blueberry soup in the pool but I preferred to keep my mouth shut.

Later we reached a fenced pool where Bearbirds had to pay an admission fee. I sat down in a beach chair and Bearbirds dived into the steaming water. She met two women, tourists from the other end of the world, and they began to chat.

"We are quite alone in this nice hot lagoon!"

"Oh, yes, there are no tourists here!"

And finally they all began to sing and to cry, "Here are no tourists! We are no tourists! All the others are tourists, but not we!"

Which troll* had turned them into a crazy gaggle of geese? It was extremely embarrassing. And this was the first time when I thought, Bearbirds, you really can be a plague!

* You can see him in this picture:

As you can see, travel with Bearbirds in Iceland was quite an adventure and the natural scenery was eye-popping. I've never had so much fun and learned so much!

May 25, 2009

Iceland Expedition - Part 3

Moon over Puffin City

Another adventure from Iceland as reported by Bearbirds, who also supplied these great photos.

"I'm going to visit the puffins," Bearbirds said.

"What are puffins?" I asked her.

"They are birds. You mustn't come along. It would be too exciting for you."

"Oh, dear Bearbirds, I promise to be as good as gold!"

"Okay, but you have to stay in my backpack!"

I agreed and we walked along the shore for one hour or more till we reached a big rock. Bearbirds climbed up. I peered out of the backpack, but all I saw were shrieking gulls.

Suddenly Bearbirds whispered, "Look Edelweiss, there is a puffin!"

A funny looking bird was sitting on the grassy part of the slope. It had a black cap over its white face and a big orange-red bill making it look like a parrot. Then another puffin came flying, but it had difficulties to land. Like a human who opens his parachute to break his fall the puffin straddled its legs with its orange diving fins. But it stumbled, felt on its back, got balance again and then waddled around in its black tailcoat like a penguin.

The two puffins didn't pay attention of us. They were so clumsy, it would be easy to catch them, but I wasn't allowed. Now they began to argue.

"Really, this isn't a nice place. Let's fly back to our last year's rock!" the he-puffin said.

"No, it's much better here. Think over what happened to our youngsters last year," answered the she-puffin.

"You haven't yet seen this place by night!"

"But I have asked the others. Here are no artificial moons deflecting the youngsters."

"The sneaky humans are everywhere! They have erected so many moons in and outside of their nesting holes just so that our youngsters are not able to navigate by the moon as we have taught them. They will get lost between the big human dwellings both here and elsewhere," he muttered.

They turned away from each other and stared at the sea.

Then thousands of puffins came flying out of the water. They landed, toppled and toddled around with great dignity.

Eventually the two puffins turned and faced each other and the discontented one said to his companion:

"In Moon's name, let's try here."
It sure was exciting to see the puffins, even if I had to stay in Bearbirds' backpack. They looked rather tasty, but I think with their stocky bodies and large beaks they would have made cat food, er...mince meat...out of little me.

Love & hugs, Edelweiss

May 22, 2009

Iceland Expedition - Part 2

Lost in water

The next days we stayed at a lonesome horse farm in the great river plain. On the first day Bearbirds was sitting in the guesthouse starring out of the window and tearing her hair in despair.

"Look, Edelweiss, everything outside is under smeltwater!"

"Gut Ding will Weile haben - good things take a long time, you always say. It will ooze away in a few days."

"But meanwhile - what shall I do here?" Bearbirds shouted. "Nowhere can I ride or hike!"

I nodded compassionately and slipped out. Through mud I sloshed to the farmhouse to meet Skotti, the resident tomcat. We sat down on the windowsill and looked out: A man was balancing on a small plank over the water to reach the stable.

Bearbirds tried to stumble through sludge, snow and mud. Between ducks and geese a snipe was stalking around a tuft of grass. I licked my paw.

"Don't try to catch it. It will lure you in the bog. You would get very wet and dirty," Skotti said.

Next day I walked with Bearbirds on the gravel road. Outside the fences we met a herd of horses, then we reached the river bank. Between black lava sand the glacier river was carrying ice floes to the sea. Bearbirds was interested in a seal and I was watching a couple of red-throated divers.

Later Bearbird was riding her horse along the same road, but it stopped by the herd and didn't want to go on. I heard it grumbling:

""The devil's own horseshoes! They could have chosen another fool but me to be shod for carrying an untimely, stupid tourist!"

It stopped such slander the next day when Bearbirds was holding a switch in her hand.

"I have to resign to my fate," the mare muttered and trotted to the river bank willingly.

The last day the free living horse herd broke down the fences and invaded the farm meadows where the water had decreased.

"They are like humans. Who is restricted wants to be free, but who is unattached desires fences," Bearbirds said.

I have to think over this question carefully even if I belong to a freedom-loving folk.

I hope you like the Iceland blogs and great photos, courtesy of dear Bearbirds.

Iceland has such haunting beauty, don't you agree?

Love & kisses, Edelweiss

Iceland Expedition - Part 1

It's been a long time since the last blog but I am glad to be back. I've had an exciting time in Iceland with Pop's dear friend, Bearbirds. Here is the first report of my Icelandic adventure, as reported by Bearbirds. Here I am hitching a ride on Bearbird's backpack.

The snowshoe lesson
Last month I took the plane to Germany to take part in Bearbirds' third Iceland expedition. I thought we would start immediately but Bearbirds said: "Gut Ding will Weile haben" (Haste makes waste) and prepared and packed for days. How boring!

Eventually we went to Denmark, took the ferry and arrived in Iceland three days later.There was a lot of snow in the mountains and we were going to try out our new snowshoes at once. The snow was very soft and it was a nice and easy walk till we reached a steep slope.

"Be careful", Bearbirds said, "there is a river under the snowbank."

I love snow but I hate water and I didn't really like to fall down through the snow in a hole full of running water. But the sun was shining warming up my fur and I forgot the hidden waterholes.

"Come on!" I shouted to Bearbirds, who had sat down on a rock at half height of the slope.

"I can't see the next marking pole," she said.

"Don't bother about it, we will find our way," I answered.

"You two, you are a bit silly, aren't you?" We heard a whispering voice and faced each other. No, this was neither Bearbirds nor me. Who had spoken?

"Sit down, Edelweiss, but take care of us," it whispered out of the ground.

I looked down to the small snow-free space around the rock. Between old grass, moss and heather some little flowers raised their lilac heads:

"We are the vetrarblóm, the winter flowers. We are the first who come out braving cold and snow. We are the forerunners of the summer."
"But why do you call us silly?"

"Because you are going to break your legs on your first day in Iceland," the vetrarblóm whispered in chorus.

After some thoughtful silence Bearbirds said, "You probably are right. Let's go down, Edelweiss, and many thanks to you, dear vetrarblóm."

The little petals nodded slightly in the wind.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Feb 22, 2009

EK goes home

Since I last wrote, my plans have changed. The global economic woes have made me rethink spending on travel.

So the world trip is off for now and it's back to Edmonton to live with Mops & Pops. They're happy and so am I because there's lots to see and do at home.

I love Winterpeg, or as Pops & Mops sometimes say, "We'll always have Winnipeg." Talk about Rick & Ilsa wannabees. <8-)

It was really snowy there and I was invisible. My only salvation was to stop washing and get 'down and dirty' as shown in this photo. As you can see, a grubby Edelweiss is one unhappy fur ball!

They would not serve me in any of the fancier restaurants but the Salisbury House, or the Sals as it's know locally, came through. The Sals diner has been a Winnipeg institution for over 75 years. Mops tells me that her Mom used to work there in the 1940s. And in her teens Mops herself would stop in for a large chocolate milkshake. "Meow!" is all I can say.

So heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Edmonton I go!

Jan 9, 2009

City of Prairie Lights

Winnipeg at nightI arrived in Winnipeg and toured about in my kitten-mobile. Not too chichi but it does the job.

For map lovers, Winnipeg is the geocentric centre of North America. It's also the place that gave Winnie the Pooh his name.

Some of the city's neighbourhoods have seen better days and some are ultra modern. Happily, most of Winnipeg is between those extremes. I was personally impressed to learn that the Mayor is Sam Katz, but I don't think we're related.

I can honestly say that Winnipeg has romantic appeal. Wide skies, moonlit nights, fabulous bridges, and lampposts all stir the romantic heart. This city of prairie lights oozes romance. I almost expect Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to stroll from the shadows on their way to Casablanca. Speaking of films:

Winnipeg is that kind of place. You feel it almost immediately. It is home to people from all over the world and, because of that, it holds a timeless appeal. I've discovered that the dazzling Golden Boy atop the provincial legislature building was purchased from France and spent most of World War I in a ship's cargo hold traveling back and forth across the Atlantic. How romantic is that? Actually, the entire legislature building is quite a mysterious place.

One of the older landmarks is the Arlington Bridge
brought to the city in 1910. Designed to cross the romantic Nile River in Egypt, it has the single honour of spanning the rail yards in the north central section of the city. I happily trotted across it.

Mops and Pops met in Winnipeg. I found the apartment that they lived in. The neighborhood is run down now and the nearby chapel they were married in has burned down. I wonder how they'll react to that news? But the city has preserved the old church tower.

Went over to St. Boniface via the Esplanade Riel bridge that parallels the Provencher Bridge. When you see it at night it is like walking the streets of Paris and feels very European.

Had a bite to eat in La Vieille Gare, where they had Franco-Manitoban Lucille Starr's The French Song playing in the background.
I tried to sing along, "Quand le soleil dit bonjour aux montagnes..." but the maitre d' (clearly not a song lover) asked me to fermer ma bouche. I think that means put a cork in it!

Every year in February St. Bee (as we anglais call it) has Le Festival du Voyageur with a neat snow sculpture contest. Maybe I'll stay and paw up an entry.

Later I went to The Forks, one of the oldest parts of Winnipeg. It is where the city was founded at the juncture of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Lots to see and do! I even tried out the world class skateboard plaza. Wow! Afterwards, I was totally exhausted and had to have a cat nap.

Frau Bearbirds will love to know that I even met an Icelander or two in Winnipeg. Icelanders were early settlers to this region at Gimli, near Winnipeg. Gimli has beautiful mystical scenery.

Until next time.... I hope to sample some of Winnipeg's many gastronomic wonders.

Love and purrs.

P.S. See all the new comments below.
P.P.S. About the call of the loon referred to in her comments, Skared E.Kat also writes, "
Shivers, for sure. If someone has never heard them, try sound of the loon.
[For interest, unfortunately URLs to link to websites cannot be used in Comments.]


I'm replying here to be able to use a link:
Hi Cuz,

Wow! I did not know about the Titanic connection and neither did Mops & Pops or I'm sure they would have told me. Cannot wait to tell them! Gee, I hope this was not an omen for Winterpeg, but I guess not as it it is still going strong.

I googled and found Manitoba's Titanic victims and walking tour including, 393 Wellington Crescent (owned by Mark Fortune), which is the house you must mean. Mops used to live in Fort Rouge as a child, which is sort of "the other side of the tracks" to these fat cat mansions.<8-)

Now I'm on the prowl for the restaurant....found it, maybe: The old Ashdown house at 529 Wellington Crescent (see walking tour), now is a restaurant and perhaps there's a revolving floor? Gee, that could be like snacking meze style in the Mediterranean / Middle East with a revolving plate or table.

Bring on the "starter goodies", I'm starting to drool. Oops! It's
40C here.... help, icicle alert!

Jan 3, 2009

Innocent abroad

Eisminchin, Frau Bearbird's ice catDear Frau Bearbirds,

Thanks for the new comment on the New Year's Resolutions blog. I am noble and white? How cool! Well, maybe just the white part, despite my name. I love the photograph of Eisminchin. Thanks for letting me add it to the blog. He sure is a chubby cat. Is Eisminchin a "Harz 57" variety or maybe just a Harz cat? (tee hee)

Significant news - I won't be finishing college this year. I have purrsuaded Mops and Pops to let me take a gap year from
school and see some of the world.

I need to become more independent and decide what my future career should be. Maybe it's not music after all. Or maybe it is. I need time to think. Plus my life so far has been pretty sheltered. There's a whole world out there and the time feels right. It's make or break time for this fur ball!

The travel cannot be just goofing off, though. Everywhere I go will have a purpose - things to learn and strengths to develop. Let's face it, this puss has been a bit of a wuss!

You will be able to follow my travels on the blog, starting with some Canadian cities, before heading off to Europe. For sure I will visit Germany and will buy a phrase book to help me order from the katz restaurants. I've been practicing already. Maybe Eisminchin and I can share some milch or a kalt root bier float? Shhhh...don't tell Mops and Pops!

Mops and Pops are taking down the decorations as I write. It's a hoot watching them work. Pops is not a gifted worker. He always opens the wrong end of the box and Mops gives him what he cal
ls "that look". But somehow they manage. Soon the place will be back to its pre-Christmas phase. There will be nothing to play with. Boo-hoo! Already I miss the razzle-dazzle of ornaments.

Later I head east to Winnipeg. Mops was born there and it's where Pops grew up. So I am going out of family respect and to learn about my family's roots. They say to expect a few surprises.

Look for new blogs on my stops around the globe. I hope you'll enjoy reading about the places I visit and what I learn. Through it all, I hope to remain an innocent abroad.

As Mark Twain wrote,
  • Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
Love & purrs, Edelweiss

P.S. Please see new comments. You can also subscribe to my blog to get updates when new entrees appear. See right column.

Thank you to Frau Bearbirds, who has sent a wonderful photo of an ogre that Eisminchin met.