Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can’t let this go.

Well.... that didn’t take long.

Now,  what I’d like to do here for your amusement,  is to simply inject a couple comments into this article that I saw this morning on the CBC website.   I’ve changed the font colour to green,  in the hopes of it being different yet legible.  (no “magenta”,  thank-you)

You can go to the website and read the article there if you wish, (along with all the goofy comments) just to verify that I haven’t left anything out.  I’d prefer to make my comments here for a select audience.


OK,  here we go:

“Sports balls are making a rebound at an elementary school in the city's east end following parental outrage over a controversial all-out ban.

The decision to lift the temporary moratorium on soft sports equipment such as tennis balls, Nerf balls and basketballs came out of a parent-teacher meeting Monday night at Earl Beatty Public School.

While a ban on hard balls had been in place at the school for more than a decade due to the small size of the schoolyard, staff only began to enforce the rule earlier this month.

An incident involving a parent who suffered a concussion earlier in the month after being struck in the head by a soccer ball triggered the ban.

Um ya, I still think that whole “concussion” thing is B.S.,  but whatever!

Under the revised rules, softer balls will be permitted on school grounds during school hours.

Toronto District School Board trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher was astounded by the level of fuss the ban had caused, saying it seemed to make the "the earth tremble" and even made international news.

Wait wait wait!  Sheila!  Sweetie!  Ever heard of something called the internet?   I mean, it’s a mixed bag,  there’s some a lot of junk out there intermixed with a some pretty neat stuff,  but the main thing is,  IF YOU DO SOMETHING REALLY STUPID,  there’s a chance it’s going to end up on the internet.   Welcome to “modern times”.  Oy.   (And hope that nobody has a cell phone with a built in camera,  and you don’t end up on Youtube!)

Oh,  and by the way folks,  to be a “trustee”,  you just need to get elected.  That’s your only skill requirement.


Safety a 'double-edged word'

"This is one of the biggest tempest in the teapot I've ever had the pleasure of working with," she said.

*sigh*  This is when you need to stop talking?

Among those who disputed the Code of Conduct that restricted sports balls was Chris Stateski, a parent of a student at the school.

"Safety is a double-edged word here, because safety to what extreme?" Stateski said.

Parents and teachers spoke on Monday about solutions for schoolyard safety, including staggering recess and lunch breaks.

Hold on!  You mean they’re not staggered now??

Maureen Hall, a mother of a student at Earl Beatty, attended Monday's talks and said there were wide-ranging opinions on the topic.

"Listening to these conversations, there are some very extreme responses to this, so this is a first step," she said.

The challenge, according to school officials, was to create a playground that would be safe for all age groups, as some 350 children ranging from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 currently share the space.” 

Didn’t we talk about this?   I can’t really determine from the way this is worded whether or not all of the 350 kids are on the playground at once,  but surely to goodness that CAN’T be the case.   350 in that space?    Please let it not be so.




I realise that it’s almost a national pastime for many,  many Canadians to make fun of Toronto.   Even Torontonians make fun of Toronto,  and the problem is,  their politicians and other decision makers keep doing stuff to make so easy. 

Do we need to talk about their mayors that they keep electing,  or the way they handle snow removal?   Just a couple examples folks.  I’m not making anything up.

I’ve said my piece about this and it’s been fun. Thanks. I’m done.




Do you know what this made me think of?   One of my sisters-in-law decided to rejoin the workforce after being a stay at home Mom for a few years,  and her attitude was this:  “There are a lot of really stupid people out there with really good jobs making decent money,  and all I have to do,  is be slightly less stupid than them,  and I’ll get a job!”

And you know what?  She did!   She had to take a few courses on “cost estimating”  or something like that,  and now works for a huge construction company in some sort of related capacity.  Has to wear a hard hat once in a while,  but it seems like it’s a pretty decent gig.    And…she makes a pretty decent buck too!   Good for her!

Apparently it’s all a matter of being “slightly less stupid”.


Once again,  feel free to talk amongst yourselves,  and thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday night at the Opera.




You may recall that I had taken this gratuitous photo of the opera tickets I had ordered a while back.  I might just keep them now as souvenirs,  even though I don’t really do that.

It’s going to be hard to describe the experience without sounding like a complete fool.  We’re pretty sure that La Bohème is now our very favourite opera.  Ever. 

I’m also pretty much convinced that Puccini wrote just about the most compelling music of any composer who ever thought about writing an opera score.  Travelling Companion said it gave her goose bumps.  For my part,  I’m sure there was someone peeling onions nearby, since I was having some difficulty with my eyes.  So was the old fellow next to me as it so happened.  Silly old buggers.

I mean,  we know going in that Mimi dies at the end.  Where’s the surprise?   All three of the operas that we’ve seen by Puccini end with the death of the female protagonist.  Madame Butterfly,  Tosca and now La Bohème.

For those of you who have been remotely curious,  here’s a peek at Travelling Companion.  This was during intermission.  

And yes,  one does get dressed up a bit for the opera.



We have no desire to queue up for overpriced water or libations during intermission,  although we did get there early enough to sit down and each have a glass of wine.  I was actually a little surprised that the price was comparable with café prices. It’s so much nicer to arrive early enough to actually have time on your hands. 

The slightly silly thing is,  we never bothered to get a program,  and now I’m not even sure who it was that was singing the role of Mimi.  It was supposed to be Maija Kovalevska,  but when I went to her website, it said that she had been ill.  Huh?   So who is this chick?


Her understudy,  presumably.  I guess we’ll never know.  She was awesome,  that’s for sure.  Maybe that was her big break?  Who knew?




Now, in a completely unrelated vein,  I had to take a quick pic of these boots I saw today on my out and about.




Lucky for you though I didn’t take a picture of the creature  woman who was wearing them,  or it would have been,  “whoa!”. 

Life in the city!   Gotta love it!



Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, November 28, 2011

We don’t always get along.

I’m talking about me and a computer program here.  What were you thinking?

I’m sure it’s really and truly dependant on something along the lines of “operator error”,  but each and every time I go to add any new music to Travelling Companion’s IPod,  I just want to punch something.

Again,  if I did this little procedure every day,  or even a couple times a month, maybe it wouldn’t be so frustrating,  but the whole “user friendliness”  of Apple products is somehow lost on me.  It’s more like,  “it has to be our way,  or no way”.   I’m not even going to stress about it any more.  I figured it out, that’s the main thing.   And why is that any time you find an “online tutorial”,  it never quite matches the settings you see on the computer screen in front of you,  hm?

How do you “eject” without an actual “eject” button?  What,  are you trying to be cute?   F**king programmers.


It seemed like most of yesterday (which just so happens to have been,  “Silent Sunday”,  if we want to keep with the alliteration theme) was spent looking for one particular package of gold coloured Christmas bulbs.  Never did find them.  We eventually convinced ourselves that we hadn’t in fact seen them here anywhere on this continent at all,  but quite likely saw them last Christmas when we were at home,  and only thought they were here.   That’s our story anyway.  There are not that many places for things to hide here.  I looked in all of them.  I even made sure to have a second set of eyes “check my work”.   I ain’t that dumb.

This was also the reason for the IPod fun.  As a happy by product of looking in every possible tote we own (well,  at this location anyway)  we did come across a couple CDs of Christmas music.   Only a couple.   The rest,  and I’ve long ago lost count,  are back in Canada. 

We could go down and listen to them in the car I suppose,  but other than that,  we don’t actually have a means of playing CDs here.  I can copy them.  I can play them on my computer.  Neither of which is really a viable solution.  So that means somehow extracting the music,  putting it on to, and then playing it on this mysterious little Apple device.    I think I could do it again right this minute if I had to,  but that’s the thing,  I might not want to change the music on that thing for another six months.  By then it won’t be user friendly again.  It’s that CRS.




Travelling Companion just called to say she’ll be home at 5:30.   I hope that works out.  She was originally going to work from home again today,  but realised she had an important pow-wow.  A Board meeting of all things,  or maybe it’s more like a “bored meeting”?   I’m sure she explained it to me,  but it doesn’t matter anyway.

Tonight is opera night,  and that was the reason she wanted to work from home.  I always get a little nervous when it comes to being in the building where the opera will be taking place in a timely fashion.  It’s a funny thing,  but they won’t wait one minute.  If they say they’re starting at 7:30,  they’re pretty good about starting on time I find.



Saw these kids this morning when I was out and about.  Seems one of the banks will be having Saturday hours,  and they’ve been hired to hand out flyers.  It’s a job I suppose.


Hm,  Saturday banking hours.  We’ve had that for what,  twenty years? 


That’s it for today.  I’m empty.


Keep those sticks on the ice.

Thanks for stopping by.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunny Saturday.

Yes it’s true.  The sun actually made an appearance today. Wasn’t sure what it was at first,  since it’s been a while since we’ve had that experience.

Today is the first “Shopping Saturday”,  also referred to the first “Advent Saturday”,  but I don’t think the shoppers were too concerned with any kind of religious reference.  Just a hunch.  At least I think it’s the first Advent Saturday,  I could be confused.

What that means for the main shopping drag,  is that it becomes a pedestrian zone for most of the day.

Not much happening though at about 9:30 this morning when I took this:


Not only that,  but human nature being what it is,  it takes a while to get people used to the idea of being able to walk on the road.  When I first rounded the corner,  I thought I had set off a little too late for my morning jaunt,  since the sidewalks were a little crowded, but that was because nobody was walking on the street.  I did soon realise that there was some protection from the wind if you were in close to the buildings,  but that was hardly a consolation.

Travelling Companion and I did go out in the afternoon and hit a couple stores.  No more or less crowded than any other Saturday I found.  Mariahilferstraße is usually mobbed most any Saturday.  Divulging any of our purchases wouldn’t be wise.  Never know who is reading.  I did place a little “Black Friday” order on yesterday.  That should be delivered in time for Christmas.  I sure appreciate that whole “free delivery” concept.  If I could do all Christmas shopping “on the line”,  that’s all I would do.  Even in the pre-internet days,  a fellow could haul out the Sears catalogue,  get on the phone,  place an order and then whip over to the Sears catalogue pick up area during a break in the evening,  they were open until 9:00 p.m.  This was when I was working afternoons.  Man that was handy!


I just now went down and took a couple more pictures,  and everyone is still on those sidewalks.  Seems to be mostly working out to be a pain in the ass for the car drivers as far as I can see.  Hm?



Those shots certainly aren’t the best,  and there’s probably some setting or other that I could have used to make them ever so slightly better.  Wasn’t willing to dig out the big camera,  but I think you get the idea.

The rest of the day was filled with a whole lot of nothing.  Not sure if the term “delicious” could be applied to nap taking,  but I seemed to have a had a pretty good one in the late afternoon. 

We had originally planned to nip out in the car this morning, but when I discovered the closure of the street,  that put an end to that idea.   Makes it tough to get back into our parking garage,  unless I’m willing to go a short distance the wrong way up a one way street. I had to do it once,  the first November we were here,  but I’d just as soon not push my luck.  Vienna’s finest are out in convincing numbers when there are that many shoppers around.  Always on the lookout for the pick-pockets,  and possibly knobs going the wrong way up a one way street. 

Here’s hoping for a little more sun tomorrow,  and that everyone is having a fine weekend.


Thanks for stopping by.




Friday, November 25, 2011

Fabulous Friday.

I’m trying to keep with the alliteration theme here,  and that title is a only just a slight exaggeration.

I’m certainly not talking about the weather.  There was a German adjective that just popped into my head,  and that was “scheußlich”  (ooh,  spell-check doesn’t like that one),  which I would like to loosely translate into the “Caretaking Vernacular” as “shitty”.   That’s close enough.

I’m not complaining.  Yet.   It’s just an observation.  We’ve had some really fabulous weather back in the summer and spring time.  A little bit of crap once in a while is inevitable.   I haven’t had to dig out the snow shovel.  So that’s a good thing.

See,  when Travelling Companion came in the door last night (at a pretty good time too,  I might add)  the first thing she said was, “I’m working from home tomorrow!”

So what that means is,  since there is a certain amount of evaporated time that gets lost getting ready for,  and then having to drive off to work,  we both get to sleep in,  I don’t have to pack her a lunch,  and generally speaking,  life is nothing short of “fantastic”.   

Oh wait,  my mistake,  I meant,  “fabulous”.  

Take your pick.

Now,  having said that,  one of the things she has to do this afternoon is go on a conference call.   I may have to put in my earplugs,  or make myself scarce.   There’s too much talking,  most of it loud.   I must say,  she does seem to be able to understand all the instructions from AT&T,  which are all in German.   Typically anyone on the call starts out in German,  until they realise T.C. is on the line,  and then they switch to their barely understandable English.   Of course,  it’s not that much worse than whatever version of “English”  that the Brits use.  Some of those guys are pretty bad.  And I’m not referring to the “Queen’s English” either.   Very few people in the UK actually speak the “Queen’s English”.   It’s too bad they don’t really,  and the different versions of spoken English is so varied that people from towns that are no more than a few miles apart have different ways of saying the same word.    I mean,  it’s easy enough to tell the difference from someone from say,  Boston as compared to someone from Indiana,   but in the UK it can be literally a few miles.   Fun to study,  hard to understand.

Much to their credit,  I would say the Dutch have the best handle on speaking an English that can most readily be understood by all parties.   Something along the lines of a “broadcast standard”.    I think it’s a direct result of their exposure to English being spoken on TV each and every night.   I’ve gone on and on about this in the past,  but the Germans and Austrians like to translate (i.e. dub) everything that ends up in front of their audience on the boob tube,  and that’s not the way to help the population learn a second language.  The Dutch use subtitles,  leaving the programming in the original. The fact of the matter is,  people do watch a lot of TV,  and if you want to influence (and possibly educate) the masses,  it’s the perfect medium.  Just my humble opinion,  but one that was shared with my highly educated German teacher from a while back. 

I think that’s going to be about it for today’s missive.  We’ll probably meander downstairs later and eat with “the boys”.   It’s either that or grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles for dinner.   Not too sure I’m overly enthusiastic in that respect.


Try not to get mobbed on “Black Friday”  if that’s your thing.

Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Thursday.

My alliteration is suffering somewhat,  but that’s the best I can do. 

It’s just a regular day here in Wienerland,  which was also the case back in October for Canadian Thanksgiving.  We’re in a foreign land here kids.

Since 1957, Canadian Thanksgiving always falls on the second Monday of October.   In terms of the weather and whether or not it’s going to cooperate (see what I did there?)  I think I like the Canadian version just a wee bit better.  It gets cold up there you know.   Mind you,  the year that we were in Puerto Rico, it certainly didn’t matter to us that Thanksgiving came along in November,  their weather is pretty much the same, all year around, whether you like it or not.



For the last few years before we buggered off to Europe,  for Thanksgiving we would have a gathering at Bronte Creek Provincial Park,  where having a group 30 or 40 people get together wasn’t a problem.  The curious,  and somewhat satisfying thing was,  a little report came back to us that the kids really looked forward to Thanksgiving,  and for a couple of them,  they were the only ones in their entire class that had any kind of enthusiasm for Thanksgiving at all.  Sure made us feel pretty good,  but I kind of felt bad for anybody’s kids who don’t look forward to Thanksgiving.

How much would that suck?

I guess it’s not all that much fun to get dragged off to Aunt Zelda and Uncle Slomo’s and have to sit around and be bored.   With our Bronte Park program,  there are literally acres and acres of places for the kids to run.  Off you go!!  Not to mention the play barn.   I think that was what it was called.  All I know is,  the kids would all vanish after dinner,  leaving the adults to sit and quietly chat.   Bliss.

A perfect symbiotic relationship between Man and Nature in my view.   Not only that, the pavilions that were available had running water,  electric outlets,  and also a fireplace for a fire!   Not just a camp style ring,  but an honest to goodness fireplace.  Chimney and everything.  Nice to have the heat,  not so much the smoke.

I do realise that there was always the issue of squatting at the pavilion from the early hours to make sure you had the place for the day, (first come first serve!) and we would more or less draw straws to see which poor unfortunate person would be sent off to ward off the hoards.   That was still a minor inconvenience compared what we did in previous years.  Cleaning the house for days on end,  trying to locate enough tables and chairs,  and then trying to figure out how the hell to get that many people in the house.    Then of course,  having to clean up and get everything put back over the next day and a half. 

So if the Canadian Thanksgiving were in November?  We’d be screwed.  I’ll stick with October,  thanks.


Now,   since we’re not going to be having turkey today either,  I figured the closest I could get in the fowl department was to make chicken soup.

Besides,  it’s easy peasy.

Start with a bunch of stuff:



There’s chicken in there,  trust me.  It’s actually better to use as much dark meat as possible,  for the flavour,  but I end up having to buy the thighs and drumsticks together. It seems to work. 

And yes,  I will add water.  Bring the whole concoction to a boil and then let it simmer for a while.  The pot should not be covered!  I have it on good authority that this is a no-no.  Makes the broth turn a dark colour.  I’ve never witnessed this,  since I take the warning of “authorities” seriously.   A key ingredient to marital bliss,  or failing that,  tolerant cohabitation.


You end up with this:



The only parts that you keep are the chicken and the carrots.  That’s a whack of carrots I know,  but I like them.

I suppose you could put in most anything you’d like,  but we put in carrots,  celery,  salt (sea salt is best)  pepper corns (a few, whatever) a couple peeled onions if small or one big one,  and a bay leaf.   I also put in a clove of garlic,  and this time around I sprinkled in some oregano. 

So after you’ve removed the chicken and carrots,  and strained off the broth,  the next part is kind of tricky,  bordering on painful.

You then remove the meat from the bones and set it aside.  Care must be taken to leave behind any of those little tiny bones that chicken is notorious for,  or any little bits of gristle.   Not good.


If the chicken hasn’t quite cooled off enough,  you’ll figure out the painful part right quick.

I try to have enough broth at this point to be able to freeze about half of that.  Works great instead of water if you’re cooking up rice,  or making say,  leek soup.  I just wish I had more room in the freezer.

At this point, everything gets covered and goes in the fridge.

Then come supper time,  haul out the pot,  put the chicken and the carrots back in,  bring it to a boil,  and add your noodles.


Care should be taken to not add too many flippin’ noodles.  If you add too many noodles,  you’ll end up with something more along the lines of “Chicken noodle stew/gorp” or something like that.  You should NOT be able to set your spoon on top of your soup and not have it sink.  You also shouldn’t have to use a fork.   

I know this.  Don’t ask.


So there you go,  “Bob’s yer Uncle”.  Chicken soup.



Oh, and for those of you south of the 49th,  Happy Thanksgiving!


Try not to over do it.


Oh,  what the hell,  go crazy.   (just,  no paramedics,  please?)


Thanks for stopping by.




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Witless Wednesday.

Some folks call it “hump day”.  There’s a tiny part of me that finds that ever so slightly rude.  Something an overzealous male dog might try to do to your leg.  That kind of thing.

Speaking of rude…

Gawd I love the way these segues pop into my head. 

I was about to head out this morning for my usual morning (and lately somewhat frigid) jaunt down Mariahilfer Straße,   (that’s pronounced “strasse”, with the “s” like the hissing of a snake, if you’re new here.  And the “e” isn’t completely silent.  It’s hard to explain, but I thought I’d try.)

…when the doorbell rang.

It’s not all that difficult to get into this building,  since we do have at least one Doctor who has some sort of varicose vein practise,  along with a lawyer or two.  Plus half the time the bloody front door is open as a result of the twits from the Quick Green joint around the corner having to get into their storage room.  And even if the door is locked,  chances are that you can hit any number of door buzzers and someone will just pop the door open for you.  This is why it’s nice to have a peep hole.

I should also mention that there was a break-in last winter on New Year’s Eve.  We were in Canada at the time.  It was in one of the apartments down below,  and although their doors are huge,  they’re only made of wood after all,  and the thieves simply used a cordless drill to drill past the deadbolt.  Apparently there’s a certain amount of noise making going on over New Year’s here,  and nobody really noticed the noise that the crooks were making.  Bastards.

Getting in to our humble abode here wouldn’t be that easy,  since anyone wishing to drill through the door would need to make a hole big enough to climb in and out,  since there’s not only a key only operated dead bolt from both sides,  but seven additional bolts that get thrown into the frame around the perimeter of the door.  Three on the hinge side,  and four on the lock side.  Those are in addition to the dead bolt.   A bit of a “Fort Knox”  theme going on there,  but I’m OK with it.


I’ve taken a picture,  but I’m not sure it helps.



See the little nubbies?

And,  if I leave my key in the lock like that,  then Travelling Companion wouldn’t be able to get in this evening.  Just saying.


Anyhoo,  I peeps through the peephole,  and it looks to me like there are two ladies standing out there,  so I have my suspicions,  but figure I’ll open the door to them anyway.

I should mention that, hardly anyone just shows up at the door anymore,  but in the first year of living here I had all manner of unsolicited “visitors”,  including Jehovahs,  some guy wanting me to pay my TV tax (not happening)  and even a couple Catholics from one of the bazillion Catholic Churches around here. 

Yes.  Not kidding. Catholics.

I explained to those two,  who were very pleasant by the way,  that they didn’t have a hope in Hell of getting us in their Church, since they were competing with St. Augustine.  And for me being the non-Catholic type,  you’d better have a pretty good choir, a couple top notch singers,  and maybe a twenty piece orchestra. 

I realise that’s a pretty tall order,  but if you’re going to make me freeze my feet damned near off,  sit on a hard pew, and pony up €5 for the collection,  you’re going to need to entertain me.  Sorry. 

I know I could put in less,  and in many areas I am indeed a cheap bugger,  but the sound of “coins” being dropped into the collection has always bothered me.   Not sure why that is.

Just to be clear,  I didn’t say “hope in Hell” to those two.  That would be rude after all.  But I did explain it in those terms.  They understood.

I’m starting to really get off topic here.  Presuming there ever was one.


So I open the door to the old ladies. 

Oh that’s right,  they weren’t exactly young snappily dressed,  radiant beauties, since that might have actually held my attention for more than about five seconds.   And as soon as the one on the right went to peel off one of their “this is a message that will change your life”  type of pamphlets,  I basically said,  (in German) “Oh right,  we have your types back in Canada,  just let me show you the technique I use there too”,  and at that moment I pointed to the lock on the door (it’s a distractionary tactic) and proceeded to close it.  

If, by the way,  you ever find yourself sitting in front of a really good salesperson,  you may notice that if they want to draw your attention to let’s say a contract they want you to sign,  they might take their pen out of a breast pocket (this is in the case of a man,  obviously)  and then use it to point to a line on the page.  Human nature is such that your eye will follow that pen,  thereby distracting you from whatever objection you might have had to the proposal.  Works every time.   As far as female sales types are concerned,  I won’t get into the use of cleavage,  hand wringing or any of that crap.   It’s not hard to figure them out either.


Now,  you might consider that to be a bit rude. (closing the door.  Not the cleavage.)  But here’s the thing.  If you’re going to show up at my door without an invite,  we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen.  You’d certainly better not show up empty handed.   Some pamphlet,  or a copy of the “Watch Tower”  isn’t going to cut it.   I should have asked,  “Did you bring chocolate?”  but I didn’t want to get involved with them even that much.   Plus,  I would have been ever so screwed if they had said,  “Why yes,  yes we did,  and it’s the good kind.” 

Crap.  Then what do I do?

But see,  that would be one helluva an angle.  Just hand out chocolate!  Put your message inside. I might even read it.   But a couple of old gals?   Not happening.

My apologies to any of the “older gals” out there,  but at least you’re just sitting there reading something on your computer,  and not out bugging people at their front door.  Good for you.


When we first moved into our house back in Canada,  we had a host of people showing up at our front door.  Uninvited.

I’ve even been known to ask for their address,  just so I could show up at their house during dinner,  uninvited.  

The first summer we were there,  I was out cutting the grass with the old lawn mover that the previous owner had left behind,  and out of the corner of my eye I see two ladies coming up the drive.   With a little bit of a sigh I shut off the machine,  waited for the smoke to clear,  and got ready for the “pitch”. 

“Oh, where’s the older gentleman who used to live here?”

(See,  we bought the house from the estate of my late father-in-law)

“We used to have such lovely chats with him”  Those were her exact words.  “Lovely chats”. 

(Well of course you did,  he lived there by himself and,  not unlike my father,  he would sit and talk the ear off an elephant.  They probably couldn’t get away from him.)

So I kindly explained to them that,  that was my late father-in-law,  and that he had passed away the previous December, and that we were living there now. 

Also,  that I would love to sit and chat,  but since I had to go to work later that afternoon (Afternoon shift Caretaker)  somebody was going to have to cut the grass,  and which one of you would that be? 

There was a lot of silence.

Since neither of them volunteered to cut the grass for me,  we said our good-byes.

And here’s the thing about that particular old lawnmower,  the exhaust pipe of which just happened to be pointing in their general direction,  when you first fired ‘er up,  there would be this great blue billowing cloud of smoke that would come belching out.

I think they got the idea.  They didn’t come back.  

Was that rude?


I actually have several more stories like that,  but I can see by my word count that you’re probably starting to nod off,  so we’ll leave that alone.   For now.


Be nice to your neighbour.


Thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meatloaf Monday.

This isn’t really about the meatloaf,  although I did make meatloaf last night.

And no,  there’s not going to be a “Turkey Tuesday”,  or a “Wasabi Wednesday” either.   I haven’t given any thought to the rest of the week.  You’re on your own.

I just like the title.

It’s actually going to be “Meatloaf Tuesday” as well,  since Travelling Companion didn’t make it home until some time around nine p.m.,  and that’s a little too late to put on the major feed bag.  Even if I stay up until midnight,  which sometimes happens,  if I eat that late there’s a whole festival going on in my nether regions for far too long to allow any kind of less than fitful sleep.

Once upon a time I could drink a gallon of coffee in the evening and lie down on a bed of nails and still be asleep in about 15 seconds.  As time marches on however,  it would seem that there’s a certain amount of “due diligence”  involved when it comes to actually getting to sleep at night.    Getting old ain’t for sissies.


The meatloaf was/is very tasty,  but I didn’t take a picture.  Sorry.  I find those types of things are really not very photogenic.  The disclaimer that, “it tastes better than it looks!”,  will only go so far when it tends to look like a big loaf of dog poo.   I’m just saying.

It did smell wonderful when it was cooking,  and I’m sure some sort of “smell–o-blog”  function would be the cat’s pyjamas when it comes to that sort of thing,  but I don’t think we’re quite ready for that leap in technology?   A reference back to the “smelly man” story will suffice.


It’s a decidedly grey and cold day again here in Wienerland,  and depending on when you tune in,  you’ll be able to take a gander at the temperature off to the right side of the blog.  I really doubt that it’ll get much above the freezing mark.  I broke down this morning and put on my winter coat,  and dug out a scarf.  Oh the humanity!

I was going to wear the gloves but thought,  “No dammit,  I’ll just stick my hands in my pockets”.   That sort of worked.

One of the other minor side effects of getting a wee bit long in the tooth is,  one does tend to come to terms with certain “facts of life”.   Fact:  I really don’t like winter.    Don’t misunderstand,  I’ve had my share of fun on snow machines,  snow shoes,   in snow drifts,  etc.,  but when it comes right down to it,  all of those things could remain in my long term memory,  and then I could fondly reminisce,  all the while sitting on a warm beach somewhere with a cool drink.   Or at least some place where I could step outside without looking like Bibendum.




The News.


I almost never comment on the news,  unless it’s some goofy thing that I spot in one of the local newspapers that has some sort of entertainment value. 

However,  and in keeping with the “goofy” theme,  I came across a story yesterday of an Administrator of a school in Toronto who decided to ban a number of types of balls from the school playground.  Let’s not get side tracked with any “balls” joke here people!

Apparently,  it was even mentioned on Saturday Night Live.  Hm,  not really a way I’d want to make a name for myself but hey,  I’m not a school Principal. 

You may or may not have heard of this,  and it all depends of which little nooks and crannies you happen to read when it comes to internet news.  My preference would certainly be to watch either the National on CBC or the CTV news at eleven.  Sometimes I’d even watch Irv Weinstein out of Buffalo,  just to see how many fires there were that day,  or how deep the snow was.  None of those choices are really an option here.

So just go to Google and plug in “Toronto School bans balls”,  and you’ll get all kinds of hits.   Have fun.


Now let me just say this about that.

After working some 22 years in a school system,  I can safely say that I’ve seen some pretty goofy things.  I’ve had some thoughts going around in my head concerning a couple stories about some of the “higher-ups”,  and I’ll spill those beans one of these days.

Out of curiously,  I plugged the address of the school into Google maps and had a look at the situation from the “street view”  feature.  I’ll save you the trouble,  you can click on this link and take a look.

Somewhere in amongst all the “bla'-bla”  I read that they have something in the neighbourhood of between 325 and 350 kids,  and that it’s a “Kindergarten to Grade eight” school.  I suspect that means “Junior Kindergarten”,  since Ontario schools have had “Junior Kindergarten”  since about 2001.  My memory is a bit dim when it comes to the exact year when it was introduced,  I just remember that it was a major pain in the ass for Plant Operations,  but that’s another story.

School hours are up to the discretion of the Principal, and can vary from a start time as early as 8:15, to as late as 9:00 a.m.,  with the school day ending anywhere from 3:00 p.m.,  to as late as 4:00 p.m.   These are all times off the top of my head here people,  and are only from what I’ve seen in my working days.  There may have been schools that started earlier or ended later,  but none that I knew of.   A lot of it had to do with bus schedules and the like.

Here’s the thing,  if you take a gander at that playground,  there’s no way in the name of Aristotle that there should be that many kids outside at one time.   That’s just silly.  I once worked in a school where there were three different “nutrition breaks” (um ya,  they don’t call it “recess”  anymore?  Go figure.) just to keep the big kids from murdering the little guys.    It ain’t rocket science!   It just takes some planning.   That way,  you don’t discover that after a couple months of school,  things aren’t really all that peachy keen on the playground.  If I could use the “hen house analogy”,  if you put a 100 hens into a henhouse that’s only built for 75?  You’re going to have some attrition.  Plain and simple.

So naturally, for her at least, the only option this principal thought she had was some silly knee jerk reaction when one of the parents on the playground was no doubt chatting with her buddies over coffee,  not paying attention and got beaned by an errant ball to the head.   They said it was a “concussion”.  I don’t think they understand what that means.  Was this individual removed by the paramedics?  Lost consciousness?   Ya,  whatever.

And trust me on this,  I’ve seen my share of do gooder parent volunteers supposedly helping with playground supervision,  while blithely chatting with their neighbours,  completely oblivious to their surroundings,  large “double-double” in hand,  having a glorious time.    Right up until they get hit in the head,  of course. 

I never had any desire to be out there for the carnage.   My job was to keep the tarmac free of debris, litter off the playing field,  hang up the tether balls (oh ya,  they’re a source of getting beaned in the head,  trust me)  and stay the hell away from the playground when it was in use.   That sort of thing isn’t exactly in the “Caretaker’s play book”,  but it’s something you learn in due course.


Anyway,   feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Hope you all have a fabulous day.  Keep your eye on the ball.


Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, November 21, 2011

The things you see.

Or maybe it should be,  “The ‘things’ you see”?   Not sure.  This will be revealed in a moment.

The weekend was very,  very quiet so there wasn’t too much of interest to add here.  Travelling Companion basically took it easy.  Can’t say I did much more than that. 

LAST Sunday we did the Church thing,  and my lower extremities darned near froze,  so I wasn’t too upset to not repeat that this week.  It goes without saying that the Churches like St. Augustine's are huge,  and therefore not heated.   In some of the Churches they do heat the seats,  and that’s always nice,  but your feet still freeze.

Or at least mine do.  Last winter I actually started wearing my winter boots to church. 

Anyone who knows me at all, understands that sitting on uncomfortable Church pews isn’t one of my “Sound of Music” type “favourite things” to start with,  and then if my feet start to freeze as well?   Oh ya,  good times.




Anyway,  there is this one gas station/service centre/car wash/restaurant that I pass by from time to time when I’m in the Gmünd area,  and this time around,  when I found myself in need of their “services”,  I remembered to take my camera.   Always best to be discrete of course,  but this isn’t the first time I’ve taken a picture or two in such a location.


It’s these ladies here that can give a person a bit of a “start” at first. 


Yes,  you can click on her.


If I show you the second one,  you can see exactly where these photos have been placed.




Somebody certainly has a sense of humour.


I just noticed the conveniently placed ashtrays.  That’s clever.  Keeps the butts out of the urinal I suppose.


I’ve mentioned the idea that you can get used to anything,  but I tend to forget from one visit to the next,  and most any time I go in here,  I tend to get a bit of a jolt.  Thankfully they’re just pictures,  or I’d still be standing there trying to go.

Talk about “stage fright”!



We’ve pretty well had four days of dreary weather,  and this morning isn’t much different.

The only sun we saw was on Friday afternoon as we were coming into the city.  Even then it went down so fast I didn’t get the camera out in time. 




Keep those sticks on the ice kids!


Thanks for stopping by.




Saturday, November 19, 2011

Short Shrift.

After I checked out of the hotel yesterday morning,  I realised that I had presented a really abridged version of Gmünd and the surrounding area.   I’ve posted lots of pics in the past of the area,  but that may have been as long ago as 2009.  Seems hardly possible.

But here’s the thing.   This:


…is somewhat representative of the excitement in a town like Gmünd. 


Here’s another angle. 


Fascinating.  The stupid ducks must have thought I was going to feed them,  since they all started to swim frantically in my direction.  Silly buggers.  

I didn’t get a picture of the rapidly approaching ducks,  since I figured it was more sensible at that point to simply leave.   Did I also mention it was a whopping 1°C?


So are you starting to get the idea that I might be getting a tad desperate for something,  anything of interest?   Oh,  here’s the backside of some old Dude on his old tractor.

Taken through the windshield of the car,  with the resulting pitiful results.


Love the fedora hat.   It ain’t just some “costume”.

So I just figured I’d go for a little drive,  and maybe something would jump out at me. 


There was a time when we lived in the Netherlands, when I got so desperate that I actually took a picture of a log that had been felled and left at the side of the road.   I was taken to task for that,  and I’ll be darned if I can find that actual entry at the moment.   But I do recall that one of my “pub buddies” did have a few words of admonition for me.  I suggested he might want to start his own blog.   The thing is,  as a woodworker,  I sometimes find myself doing a double take when I see logs.  Especially if they’re just sitting there at the side of the road.

So you can well imagine how I get a little ga-ga when I drive by this place.   Even though these logs are all spoken for:


Suffrin’ cats,  that’s a lot of logs!


Well,  this isn’t quite the same,  but the good folks of Breitensee dug up a log out of the muck,  and decided to put it in it’s own shrine!   I almost drove right on by,  but the sight of a log in a glass case made me do a bit of a double take.


Here ya go:



Yup,  that’s a log that has been housed in it’s own little (well,  big really) display case.

I’m going to include a couple snippets of the details,  but for those who may be inclined to skip ahead,  the abridged version is,  it lived for some 250 years,  and keeled over some time around 650 A.D.   If you’ve ever wondered what the term “old growth”  is,  this would be a pretty apt example.

There are some woodworkers who would simply drool over the prospect of being able to make something with the oak from this log.   Lake Superior happens to be one location where old growth lumber has been salvaged, and if you have enough money,  you can buy some of the lumber.  The thing is though,  you really and truly have to have the creativity and skill level to build something worthy of such a find.

You’re certainly welcome to wade through all the bla-bla that they’ve put in the display,  but what I found curious about the whole thing,  is the typical way in which they’ve tried to milk this log display for all they could.   You can see this type of well,  for lack of a better term,  “desperation” in just about any small town on the face of the planet.   “We’re special and we want to show you why”.    You’re welcome to come up with your own answer to that assertion.









I mean,  I do appreciate the effort,  and the old log is definitely neat and all,   but somebody went to an awful lot of trouble to try and embellish the simple fact that they hauled some old log out of the goop.  I’m just saying.

It so happens that this elaborate little display was off to one side of the fire hall.   I’m not sure what the significance of the Roman Dude is,  and you can draw your own conclusions about the quality of the artwork.



For my part,  my first thought was,  “Now why would you do that?”   No budding Rembrandts in town I guess.



And now for something completely different,  I was tooling along on one of the roads that follows the border between the Czech Republic and Austria,  and I spotted a business that,  from what I gather,  was selling stone?  Actually,  I haven’t a clue what they were selling,  but what was interesting was this little cabinet that they had out on display. 


See the stone piece over behind the display?   There were lots of them lying around,  and I think they were selling these things.  Planters?   Watering troughs?   No idea.

This display was obviously outdoors,  and about 20 meters from the roadway.  Maybe there was video surveillance,  but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it hadn’t been vandalised.  Maybe I’ve forgotten what country life can be all about?  And maybe it’s a pretty sad thing when the first thing I think of is vandalism.  

I suppose some folks have these kinds of items on display in their house,  or maybe tucked away in a drawer or two.  These people decided to put it out there for all to see.  

Of particular note is the ticket for a motorcycle race that took place in May of 1936 in Gmünd.   The cost of admission was one Schilling.  I’d bet that was an exciting day.


The bottom line on the ticket states that it had to be worn so as to be visible.  Judging by the way the town is so compactly built,  I can see how easy it would be to close off all access to the roads,  and only let people who had bought a ticket in to see an event.   Only a guess mind you.   I’m sure you’d be able to see some parts of the race,  but to get to see from the really good vantage points,  you’d need to cough up that Schilling.


Well I certainly hope this has rounded out the educational portion of your day. 

You’re now ready for the New York Times Crossword.

Good luck with that.


Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, November 18, 2011

I talk to the trees.

That title is only the result of digging down to the bottom on the barrel here.  This is coming to you from the pulsing metropolis of Gmünd.   (do I even need to tell you to insert the sarcasm font?  Seriously.)

The drive last night wasn’t too bad at all.   There are always a few idiots who just need to go that little bit faster of course.   Once in a very long while,  karma comes around to bite them in the ass,  and they wind up in the ditch,  and I’ve always been tempted to get out and give them a little sermon,  but usually just drive slowly on by.   Hasn’t happened in a long time though.  Most of the hurrying folk last night had licence plates from places like Horn,  (yes,  that’s an actual place name!) so you know they drive that road every night,  and are racing home.  Not sure why there’s the need to race.   I just let them sail on by.  Always planning my “out” if the passing situation looks like it’s going to get dicey.    Thankfully there are enough passing lanes along the way to give them all a chance to go on by,  and to get around the transport trucks.  It did start to get foggy in the usual spot,  when we were about two thirds of the way here.  The last couple times we’ve come through this one particular little town during one of these trips,  it has been foggy.  I just thought to myself how I could never live there.  It was like something you see in the movies.   I think it would depress me to the point of no return.

We’ve made out little trip up into the Czech Republic this morning,  and I dropped off T.C. at about ten past nine.  She wanted to have a little chat with a couple folks before the first candidate shows up.   Some of the stuff they put on their résumés is a little mind boggling,  but maybe it’s somehow part of the culture here?   Like,  who cares if you have two kids,  or when you were born for that matter?   These are questions we wouldn’t even dare ask in either Canada or the US.   Makes for good entertainment I suppose.   My thoughts were,  if you put something on a résumé,  shouldn’t I be able to verify it?   Does that mean you’re going to parade your children in here like a scene out of “The Sound of Music”?   Just wondering.


Anyway,  check out time is approaching,  so that’s going to be it for today.


Keep those sticks on the ice,  and thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back into the fog.

And no,  this isn’t going to be another attempt at explaining how I like 220 over 110.   We’re going to leave that one alone. 

A week ago or so I guess it was,  Travelling Companion mentioned that she had to be in the Czech Republic on Friday morning for a couple interviews.  I take it she has the final say in the case of a couple people they’re looking to hire.  Something like that.

When we started to work out the travelling time,  it would have meant leaving here at some silly hour.  She was willing to do this on her own,  but I’ve had misgivings about sending her off on her own in those situations in the past,  and with the temperatures dropping in these parts, well I think you know where I’m going with this.

Personally I’m not too annoyed with leaving at a “silly hour”,  and I’ve done that many times in the past.  By getting away early in the morning,  at least there’s the thought that eventually the sun will come up, and you won’t be driving in darkness for long.   Of course,  it’s heaps better when you’re getting up at some silly hour and then being picked up by a cab or limo,  to then be whisked off to the airport,  followed by a flight to some sunny destination,  but I realise that those kinds of thoughts are just a product of some sort of weather funk that we all start to go through here in the Northern Hemispheres as Winter approacheth.

I’ll try to lighten up.  We’ll get our reward in June.  Thankfully.


So that means I have the car today (big whoop)  and I’ll be heading out to fetch Travelling Companion from the salt mines at our prearranged time of 5:30. p.m. (the p.m. is kind of redundant,  don’t you think?)  

That also means a couple hours of not only driving in the dark,  but by the looks of things,  also driving in the fog.  We thought the lesser of two evils was to go up and stay there over night,  and then it’s just a short jaunt into the Czech Republic in the morning. 

When it comes to driving, there’s really and truly only one thing that makes me use all the concentration that I can muster,  and that’s limited visibility.  Both of us have realised that driving at night is a challenge these days,  and adding some fog or snow falling just makes it that much more “peachy”.  

I actually don’t mind driving on ice or snow.  It might possibly have something to do with spending the first few years of my life in a province like Nova Scotia?  I don’t know,  but as long as I can see who’s coming,  and which side of the road they’ve decided to drive on,  it’s not that big a deal.  It used to be though,  that it was better if I did that kind of driving all by my lonesome,  since there was at least one occasion (and this was way back,  when just driving in Toronto would send T.C. off the deep end) when I actually had to have someone move to the back seat,  since she was freaking out so much.  I’m not kidding.   These days,  I can be doing 200 k.p.h on and Autobahn in Germany,  and she’ll be fiddling around with her crackberry.   Completely at ease.  

I’m not sure what happened.  It either took her 30 years to figure that I could in fact drive a car,  or perhaps she figures the kids are old enough to fend for themselves,  and she’s willing to let the chips fall where they may. 


So that’s the big “excitement”  for today.  Here’s hoping the weather forecast is wrong,  and the fog between here and Gmünd has magically disappeared.  I wouldn’t bet on it.   If you click the link,  you can follow our route.  I’m sure you care.   Of course,  IF you click that link, it still shows Gmünd as ‘Gmunden’.   In spite of actually getting a reply back from one of the dullards at Google a few weeks back that they would fix this error,  they’ve only made it worse,  by now having the Google maps search engine take you to Gmunden,  when you plug in Gmünd.   *sigh*

Kind of like when we’d have the I.T. guys come in to the school for whatever “upgrade”  we were deemed to get (I almost wrote “doomed”)  and we’d then discover that they had made things worse.   So it was important to try and open just about all the important programs BEFORE they made their escape.  Just a minor thing really,  but it would save having to wait another few days for them to come back again.  See,  if I can’t open the program that allows me to the send off a “repair ticket”,  then how am I ever going to get my computer to work?  Should I bring one from home?  (I actually offered to do that once,  they didn’t like that)  It got to the point with the computer that I had in my office,  that I actually found one that was a cast off from a school we had closed,  cannibalised the motherboard from the thing and got my computer back.  I had to recreate a bunch of stuff that I had set up for the sake of convenience (and I lost my dreamy screen saver of some resort we stayed at in The Dominican Republic),  but that was hardly a problem.   Gets to the point when,  if you figure you’ve got nothing to lose,  they you may as well go for it. 

I really don’t mean to start slagging off on I.T. folks,  since in the case of my previous employer,  they were all for the most part very personable types,  but were quite often set upon my the higher ups to flit from location to location as expeditiously as possible to “get the job done”.   With over 80 schools,  that’s no mean feat.

I could really go off on a rant about some of the expectations of the “higher ups”,  but I don’t want to put you to sleep.


I haven’t decided if I’ll take the computer with me tonight.  The internet at the Goldener Stern is just a tad slow,  but usually fast enough to eventually upload a blog post.   Mind you, this is where Live Writer really shines.

Note the address in that web page?   See,  I do know where the hell I’m going,  and it’s not “Gmunden”.   Gah!


Keep it between the ditches.   I know I’ll try.


Thanks for stopping by.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life with 220.

I’m not talking about “life at 220” either.  Although I’ve had occasion to boot it along on the Autobahn at those speeds,  it takes a certain amount of concentration.  I seem to come up short in that department.


It’s surprising what you can get used to.  I remember my old man used to say that you could even get used to “shit in your hat”,  and he and some of his Harvest Excursion buddies even did a little experiment once upon a time back in his days as a bachelor.   Something to do putting some smelly substance in the lining of someone’s hat, and the idea that they eventually got used to it.  Bit of a nasty trick I thought. 

Back in August when we were home in Canada,  for some reason that I don’t seem to recall,  I had to iron a couple shirts.  Something to do with not looking like a street person I guess.  So I got the iron all set up and ready to go,  plugged ‘er in,  waited the appropriate length of time (I thought)  and then couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with the thing.  It’s a good one.  We don’t cheap out on those types of things,  since that particular one had previously been used by Travelling Companion in her sewing room,  which was now my daughter’s craft room.  I sometimes refer to it as the “crap” room,  but I’m funny that way.   Note how were tying everything in with the “excrement theme”?

I even asked my daughter what the heck I was doing wrong.  I just hadn’t waited long enough.   See,  it was only getting 110 volts.  It takes a while.   The iron that I use here heats up in nothing flat.   Naturally, it runs on 220.  Everything does.  I guess it’s something I’ve gotten used to.

I’d even go so far as to say that, somewhere along the way someone made a bit of a blunder when it came to the voltage that was chosen for the “Americas”.   220 works heaps better.  Trust me. 

(I blame George Westinghouse)

Maybe I’ve been in Europe too long?  I’m not sure,  but this is one little snippet of the “lifestyle”,  if I could call it that,  that for the most part,  while unobtrusive,  whenever called upon,  makes life a whole lot easier.  

Now you might say,  “But,  that’s a lot of voltage!  Isn’t it dangerous?”   Well,  let me tell you,  you can do a good number on yourself with 12 volts if you’re really,  really dumb.   Ever take a spark plug wire off and crank over the engine?  See that spark?   That’s about 40,000 volts going over to the block there.   Come in contact with it,  and you will land on your ass.  The hope is that your heart is still beating.   It’s not the voltage kids,  it’s the amperage that’ll do you in.   (OK,  I know it’s heaps more complicated than that,  but let’s not get too flippin’ carried away here,  shall we?)

So to make things “work”,  with 220,  we don’t need as much amperage as with 110.   The wires for household wiring and extension cords and such seem desperately thin,  since they don’t need to be all that thick in the first place.  

If you go to that link,  and I suggest you do,  and plug in 1500 watts in the first spot, then 220 in the second and hit the “equal” button,  you’ll get roughly 6.8 amps.  If you drop it to 110?  You’ll probably trip a 15 amp circuit breaker.   Too much amperage.   Let’s not forget the 80% rule.


Do you have an electric hot water heater?  How does it work?  Why,  we need 220!    What about any half ways decent power tool?  Needs to be wired for 220!  See where I’m going with this?   A lot of extra messing around with wires.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just “plug in” your 220 volt table saw? 


And don’t even get me started on how I’m going to “plug in” if I ever had the bright idea of going anywhere other than Europe or North America.  


You can click on that one for study purposes.  Try not to get a headache.




OK,  enough of that.  Now for some different “fluff”.


I had mentioned previously that we went out on Saturday and picked up a (fake) Christmas tree.   We haven’t opened the box yet,  and I might do that today,  just to have a look at the pitiful thing.   They didn’t even have the kind that already comes with lights,  and we weren’t about to either spend that much money,  or go on an extended search.

Typically when I find myself in some sort of home supply type of store such as Bauhaus, Baumax or OBI,  it’s with a specific purpose in mind, and I rarely wander off course,  unless it’s just to browse and see what’s available.   I have enough “stuff”  back home,  and it’s not too often that I buy something that I already have.   Just the same,  and as a rare example,  I had to buy a second hand-cart not long after we moved to Vienna,  since retrieving heavy items from the car in the parking garage around the corner and bringing them up seven flights wasn’t something I was willing to struggle with, without some two-wheeled help.    The other one (the only hand cart I thought I’d ever need) is hanging quietly in my shop back home.  Had no idea we’d be moving to an apartment.  Drat!

So most of the time when I’m in one of these places,  the voices in my head are repeating,  “Already got one”.  “Don’t need it”.  “Maybe,  but not at that price”.   That kind of thing.

Don’t we all have those “voices”?   OK, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.


HOWEVER,  when I saw these particular Christmas tree stands,  I was quite intrigued.   I haven’t been “intrigued” when shopping in Europe for a while now,  believe me.  There’s a lot of crap in the stores.

First of all,  the fake tree already has it’s own stand.  I don’t need another.  We do have a stand back home that I’ve been using for quite a few years now for our “real” trees.  It’s pretty reliable,   but not entirely user friendly.   It’s probably something like the third generation of Christmas tree stand that we have up to this point,  and I had no intent of ever replacing it.  


It became obsolete just as soon as I saw this one:

This is the way it came out of the box.



But then it opens up to receive the base of the tree.


The lever on the side is a foot pedal.   By pumping it down,  the cable tightens the supports around the base of the tree.   I have this suspicion that I’m going to be putting up a Christmas tree for many years to come.  Crawling around on my hands and knees (and getting poked and prodded by the low hanging branches)  has never been one of my all time favourite things.

That time has now passed.

Made in Germany!   My kind of souvenir.


And it doesn’t run on 220.


Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Monday.

Why do the weekends fly by?  It seems like time speeds up over the weekend,  and then slows down to a crawl when T.C. has to head back to work.

She’s very much looking forward to taking some time off at Christmas.  The flight arrangements have been made for one set of “Children” who will be coming to Vienna for a couple weeks over Christmas.   These “Children” are in their forties,  so it’s not like they’ll be getting on the plane with big I.D. tags on each of their necks.   The other two “Children”  have both started new jobs,  which means they’ll both have to work over Christmas.  Kind of sucks,  but I’d sooner see them both gainfully employed.   We’ll have them over in the New Year some time.  That could get a little complicated,  since it could possibly mean that Travelling Companion won’t be able to get too much time off.  Hm.

We’re pretty much used to there just being the two of us,  which has been the case for the last three years or so.   There’s a segue in there,  since I somehow want to mention how I seem to have adjusted to just cooking for the two of us,  whereas T.C. hasn’t quite made that transition just yet?

I thought we had been able to get past the “cooking for an army” stage years ago.  Not quite. 

Last week some time,  and I don’t remember exactly when,  the subject of making Squash Soup came up,  and I happened to spot a Butternut Squash on Thursday morning.   There was a rather huge one that looked to be just a tad too expensive at something over €6,00 and I refused to pay that much,  so I bought a smaller one.   The other thing was too,  that any purchase like that,  that I make when on foot,  means I have to lug it home.   Only a minor consideration,  but it’s always in the back of my mind.   Blood circulation to the tips of the fingers is a good thing.

So I sat the thing on the counter and didn’t think too much about it,  but when T.C. got home Thursday night,  she seemed to think that I should indeed have got the big one, so I bought another one the next day.  I don’t argue about these things.  It’s a freakin’ squash,  and not worth the bother.   It so happened that I had the car when I got the second one,  so I could have bought a dozen I suppose.


Well,  it turns out we’re going to be eating Squash Soup for a couple nights it seems.   This is the pot we had to use in order to be able to fit it all in. 




I’m not even sure what size of pot this is,  but there are two of them in the set that I don’t even have room for in the kitchen here.  I think they call this one a “stock” pot.  I don’t think that has anything to do with “stock”  cars though. 

I keep them upstairs in the storage room.  We shipped an entire set of cookware,  (and yes,  you might recognise that it’s Paderno,  made in P.E.I.) but with just the two of us,  there were a couple items that I figured we’d never,  ever use.   Who knew?

Thankfully I had something else planned for last night’s dinner,  or we would have been eating much, much too late in the day. 

And I suppose the good news is that I won’t have to do too much thinking in terms of our meal choices for a couple days. 

No thinking = Good.

Hopefully we don’t get sick of it before Wednesday. 

Oh,  and before you think,  “but you could put it in the freezer!”.  That won’t work.   Our freezer here is about the size of the one we had in our motorhome,  and I’m constantly battling with the thing.   I have to make sure I open the freezer door and check how much I have in there before making any plans to buy something to put back in.    Such a drag!   And if I don’t defrost the stupid thing soon,  it’s going to get even smaller.


I don’t bother clicking my heels anymore.



Thanks for stopping by.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Honey! I made some money!

That was the start of our dinner conversation on Thursday night, to which my dear wife’s reply was,

“Ya, right”.

“No really.  I did”.


OK,  I know it’s already Sunday,  I’m not that daft.  Please bear with me.  Or is that,  please “bare” with me?   I think that would only be if we thought we’d be going skinny dipping… English can be quirky sometimes.  I’ll try to stay on track.

While the boys in the back were cutting down the huge tree,  and Max (neighbour,  remember?)  was helping himself to some firewood,  I was out for my morning constitutional.   Most times I try to get out and back before it gets too hectic on the streets,  since I’m not overly keen on wading through the crowds,  but I had been whiling away my time taking pictures of the tree cutting event.   There’s always the blog to think of.

Oh,  and by the way,  Max said that the tree had been dead for a couple years,  since I had asked him just how dry it was.   I suppose it’ll burn OK.    I guess I’ll never really know.   Nor care.   And we don’t have any fireplaces up here in our Dachgeschoss. (“Penthouse”?) Unless I want to burn something out on the terrace, and that’s not happening.

I usually do a pretty good job of fending off most anyone either begging for money or whatever out on the street,   but actually stopped for a couple minutes to talk with a lady who had asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a survey.   I mean,  I had seen these same people in that spot before,  so I had a reasonable idea that there was some legitimacy in her offer.   It turns out it was a small company that does market research for one of the Austrian beer companies,  so I ended up sitting at a computer for about 20 minutes watching a couple commercials and then answering some silly questions.   I don’t remember the wording exactly,  and you’ll have to insert the sarcasm font here,  but there were questions like,  “When you see this scene,   do you feel…   1) Annoyed? 2) Inquisitive? 3) Suicidal?” 

OK fine,  those were NONE of the choices,  but it was still kind of silly I thought.   Now,  if it had been taste testing…?  Hm…

The thing is,  all they wanted was anyone who could understand,  read and write German (my written German is a tad rusty)  with about 20 minutes to kill,  and there ya go.   Bob’s yer uncle.

Oh,  and someone who does in fact consume beer.  That was important.

I told this person that taking her picture would have to be part of the deal.  Of course,  I didn’t mention anything about the blog.  Oops.



This brings us to the old guy with the headphones.  


There was no need for the microphone.  Thankfully.

And for my 20 minutes?  She gave me €10!


Alrighty then!

Yes,  that’s ten Euros.  I’ll save you the trouble of converting,  that’s $13.75 US  $13.89 Cdn.   Possibly about a million pesos?  (OK, actually 185)


I can dig it.


I still haven’t spent THAT ten Euros.   I might have to have it framed.  It’s the only money I’ve ever made in Europe.  Investment income back home doesn’t count.




Yesterday,  (Saturday) the big deal was to go out and find some sort of Christmas tree.  *sigh*

We’ve managed to dodge that particular bullet for a couple years,  but since the “children”  are coming over for Christmas this year,  SOMEBODY thought we should have a Christmas tree.

In all the years that I have “observed”  Christmas,  there has never,  ever been a fake tree.   Yesterday we bought a fake tree.   Shameful,  I know.   But I can carry it home in a box,  and quite possibly ship it home when we leave and either give it away or sell it in a garage sale.  Either way,  having a real tree,  while possibly less money, (and more environmentally sound) was out of the question.  

We also bought one more string of lights.  They’ll most likely stay here when we leave.  I could lob off the end, change it and plug them into a 110 volt outlet when we get home,  but they’d end up being pretty dim I’m afraid.  

(I think I sense an additional blog post coming up)


So you’re probably wondering what the heck we’ll be using to decorate this fine outstanding tree?   (There’s an “outstanding in my field” joke in there somewhere)

We didn’t buy any ornaments.  No sir.


The thing about not moving “lock,  stock and barrel” when doing these overseas assignments,  is that you have to sort out and have the movers pack all the stuff that you want to take along.   So Travelling Companion and I (I made sure she was back in Canada with me for this one)  went through and organised everything that they were to pack up.  Pretty simple.

But some for some reason, (see one of today’s “tags”) the fellow who was working away upstairs (with not close enough supervision it turns out) ended up grabbing a couple things that were sitting in the hallway,  ready to be shoved back into the attic.  Gah!   So,  along with three brand new doorknobs, still in their packages, (upstairs renovations have been ongoing) we also have enough Christmas ornaments to decorate a whole tree!  Oh goody!


In total,  we probably have enough Christmas ornaments for about four trees,  but that’s a whole other topic.

I don’t know how he made the leap from,  “OK,  everything in this room”,  to “Oh,  and whatever you find out in on the landing”.

Whatever.  At least we don’t have to buy EVEN MORE Christmas ornaments.   So it was a fortuitous error.


The tree is still down in the car,  sitting in the trunk,  and I’ll probably schlep it up here tomorrow morning when I see T.C. off to work.


I hope everyone is having a fine weekend.


Thanks for stopping by.