Saturday, December 31, 2011

What’s with the pigs?

Seems like everybody and their dog is letting off fireworks too.   Something about keeping away the evil spirits.   Right.

I’d wager that if asked,  half the people wouldn’t know where that one came from,  since any excuse to let off fireworks is usually met with a certain amount of enthusiasm.

Like most everything else here in Absurdistan,  fireworks are regulated,  with there being four different “classes”,  with class three and four being those used by the professionals.    The other three classes are broken down presumably by their level of danger,  with the rules being that you have to be a certain age to buy whatever type of firework it happens to be.  Kind of like one of those signs at the amusement park that states,  “You must be this tall to go on this ride”.   You must be 16 to buy bottle rockets,  for example.   Nothing in there about letting a younger sibling light them up though…


This also explains why there were remnants from the aforementioned bottle rockets on our balcony when we came back here last year after being in Canada for the holidays.  I think if I dare go outside I’d best be wearing some sort of full body armour.   Or at least a hoody.

I really didn’t have a whole lot to say today, but I seem to be going off at the fingers here.  

I’ve been seeing every possible size and example of swine out on the streets,  (little stuffed piggies,  not the inhabitants of Vienna) and there are now even vendors that have set up who are selling little tiny figurines for New Years.   The figurines are still a bit of a mystery,  but the I did sort out the bit about the pig end of things.   It seems that first of all,  Austrians will quite often have a roast pig on New Year’s day,  so as a result,  the pig is somehow a sign of good luck.  This is making very little sense as I type it,  but it’s true.  Really.

I found this snippet on the web: “The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the new year. It's served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.”

There ya go.  One more piece of totally useless information.

There is some sort of plan afoot to actually GO OUT tonight and head down to Stephansplatz,  although I’m reasonably certain we can see the fireworks from our balcony.  I mean,  it wasn’t for nothing that we moved into a top floor apartment after all.


So I hope everyone has a Happy New Year,   or as I’ve heard said in there here parts,  “Guter Rutsch ins neue Jahr!”,   which is kind of hard to translate.  “rutschen”  is to slip, skid or even crawl,   so to wish someone a good “Rutsch”,   doesn’t really work in English I’m afraid.  “May your skid into the New Year be a good one”?   Something like that.  That’s all I got.


Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, December 30, 2011

You may already be a Wiener!


A recently overheard conversation:

“Look honey,  it’s a wiener dog”.

“Ya,  but here they’re just called ‘dogs’.”


So now that I’ve got that out of my system,  did I tell you what the kind folks at the butcher shop gave me when I picked up our turkey on Saturday?   It may very well have been because it was the most expensive turkey I’ve ever paid for in my entire life,  or maybe it was because I spent over a certain amount.  I’m not sure. 

But I ended up with a “Viennese Christmas Sausage”.



Well,  something like that.   I mean,  being an “educated guy”  and all that,  I really should have a bit more self control,  and just point out that “Wiener”  in this case is an adjective,  meaning “Viennese”,   but I’m sorry.   There’s just too much of a gag in there to let it go.   I had even put this in the fridge and forgot about it,  and Travelling Companion hauled it out yesterday afternoon (get your minds out of the gutter)  and asked,  “Are we gonna eat this?”   Turns out it has an expiry date of January 8, 2012.  Yikes!  That’s just around the corner.  

Getting free food and then leaving it in the fridge is some sort of venial sin I’m sure.   We’d better get busy,  even though red meat and I don’t always get along.


In other “news”,  (‘cause that last bit was important),  we’re just spending a quiet afternoon here getting readjusted to there being just the two of us.   It always sucks saying good-bye to the kids,  and visitors in general.

Traffic on the way to the airport this morning was surprisingly fluid,  considering it was a Friday morning,  but a little later I happened to notice something in one of the local rags about practically all of Austria being on the ski slopes right about now.   Apparently there’s not a spare hotel room to be had in places like Kitzbühel.  Now it all makes sense.   THAT’s where the traffic jams are.  I thought maybe we had missed an air raid siren or something.  I’m new here.  Last year at this time we were in Canada.


Something else recently overheard:

“Oh Gawd,  it’s only 8:30 and he’s taking our picture!”



(Um,  you’ll notice clicking on that one only gives you a SMALL image?   Discretion is,  after all,  the better part of valour)

Not sure what the fast hands was all about,  but there was no chance for a second photo. 

The departure photo at the airport is kind of a tradition,  so that one will have to do.


And that,  as they say,  is that.


Oh,  I should mention,  I discovered a rather neat website earlier today when I was trying to figure out if they had left on time.   If you click on this link,  it will open up and show an area close to where ever your IP address is located.    At least I think that should happen,  I’d need to clear all my cookies and try over to see what happens the first time around.  I’m not about to do that,  since I want my cookies right where they are for the time being.  What I’ve also noticed is that flights that are too far out over the ocean are not getting picked up.  At first I though that was a bit odd,  until I looked to see how the information is gathered.  It’s a platform called ADS-plane finder.



You’ll notice there has to be a “base station”,  which explains why I’ve lost track of them over the North Atlantic for the time being.   Fun stuff though.  We don’t realise just how many planes are in the air at one time.   It’s busy up there!



And so,  life goes on. 

Travelling Companion has a few things to sort out before heading back to the salt mines next week.


For my part,  the kids have left, the beds have been stripped,  and there’s gonna be laundry.


Enjoy your Friday.


Thanks for stopping by.





Thursday, December 29, 2011

Many thanks.




Just thought I’d mention how much we appreciate all the wishes that have been sent our way for Christmas.  I’m sure there are more cards that may have arrived at the house in Canada that we’ll get to see at some point in time.    I think though that the word did get around that we were staying here for Christmas,  since many more cards have arrived over the last few days as well.   Always fun.


Rather than go all crazy with photos from out jaunt down to Slovenia,  (I think it’s “down”,  seems that way on a map anyway)  there’s a way to post a bunch of pictures on Facebook and then provide a link for anyone who is remotely interested.

It would be this one here…link

Go nuts. 

(hey,  somebody’s server has to have room for all my useless photos, it might as well be facebook)


Our days have been spent generally being in each other’s company,  which has been quite fine so far. The only possibly exception,   for me anyway,  would be a couple excruciating games of Scrabble.    I usually reply with a terse, “NO”,  when asked if I’d like to play,  but in the spirit of having some company after all,  I thought I should be a good sport and play along.  Fool.

I hate to admit it,  but I suck at Scrabble.  It’s possibly since I have the attention span of a gnat.  I’m not sure.  What’s even more embarrassing,  I’m the only one in the group with a “liberal arts” education.   Guess that was a waste.  I somehow have the innate ability to confuse golf with Scrabble when it comes to my score.

The “kids” are at this very moment somewhere down in the first district,  since one of their objectives today was to climb the steps of Stephansdom.  I should point out that there is a lift (OK, elevator)  on the other (north) tower,  which we’ve taken,  but if you’re up to it,  there’s a better view from south tower,  but that involves ascending something like 343 very narrow steps.   Actually,  it’s more like exactly 343 steps,  but whatever.   I did the 90 some odd steps up the Arc-de-Triomphe a few years back on a visit to Paris.   That was enough to last for a while I figured.

Other than that,  there’s not too darned much happening.   It’s that post-Christmas,  pre New Year’s Eve lull,  only I’m not at home to go out and futz around in my shop. 

Our weather has been surprisingly mild,  with it being almost sunny every day,  with temperatures that are at least above freezing,  even if only in the single digits.   For December,  I’ll take it.

Tomorrow we have to do the dreary trip back to the airport,  since our visitors will be heading back to Canada.



Keep those sticks on the ice people.



Thanks for stopping by.




Sunday, December 25, 2011

And just like *that*, it’s Christmas.


I don’t have much to say today,  since I’m too full to actually make my fingers move on the keyboard. 


There were only the four of us,  and yes that’s a lot of turkey.

I ordered it a couple weeks ago from Radatz,  which is a chain of butcher shops in these parts.  It’s an Austrian turkey.  It was a good turkey. 


That’s about it.   This is for the “kids” back home.  


Thanks for the stuff.  I’m already well into the Randy Bachman book.  Very simply written,  but a fun read.



Hope everyone has had,  or is having a fine Christmas.  


Once I recover,  I’ll do a bit more about Slovenia.  Might take a day or two.


Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

We’re in Slovenia, really.

After dinner the other night,  we were walking back to our hotel (which was all of maybe 100 metres from the restaurant)  and I spotted this white truck parked outside.

Couldn’t help myself but take a couple pictures,  and my daughter said, “Pretty sure that’s going in the blog”.


Well,  t’ya!

My apologies to anyone who might own one of these “pick-up trucks” (note the quotation marks) since it’s a Honda “Ridgeline”,  but there are two things going on here.  First of all,  it’s goofy looking.  It might be all practical and everything with a storage area under the truck bed and all,  but I’m sorry.   Goofy.   Apart from that,  any pick-up truck in Europe already looks somewhat out of place,  but this one is extra “out of place”,  and here’s the kicker.   Check out the license plate.


Just click on it if you can’t make it out.

Are you kidding me?  This was taken outside the Sava Golf Hotel in Bled,  Slovenia.  If you prefer,  you can check out the hotel’s website itself

We never did get the story on this truck.  I see the plate is good for an entire year,  since the tag doesn’t expire until December 2012.   I think this just might prove my theory of “more money than brains”,  since I’m not too sure just who would buy one of these things,  and then SHIP IT ACROSS THE OCEAN?    Right. 


Anyway,  I’ll sort out my pictures and put up a choice few in a day or two.  Sitting at a desk in the hotel here is not something that I find particularly comfortable.  I need my comfy digs back in Vienna. 

Tomorrow we’ll hang around Ljubljana for the morning and then head out to see the cousin in Sava for 2:00. p.m.,  and then we’ll make a beeline back to Vienna tomorrow night. 


Keep those sticks on the ice.  See you all back in Vienna,  and thanks for stopping by.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Christmas Markets

We thought it would be worth while to make a visit to one of the many Christmas Markets that pop up around this time of year in Vienna.

Now,  you have to understand that I’m not a huge fan of being in the midst of crowds,  but I try to be a good sport when it comes to these things.  I drive.  I park.  I go along.  Simple.  Oh,  and I keep my mouth shut.

So you have to understand that,  when the first words out of Travelling Companion’s mouth were, “There’s too many people here!”,   I wasn’t really all that upset?   Mind you,  it’s still not a terribly good idea to jump on that particular band wagon right away with a suggestion that you head back to the car.   That’s just not prudent.  It’s best to let the situation just play itself out.  Show some restraint.  Go along.  Be patient. You’re reprieve will come soon enough.

The last time we were at this particular place in Vienna,  there was a circus in town.  I think I made some snide reference to the circus being somehow in close proximity to city hall as some sort of natural association,  even though that may not have been entirely fair.  I’m still a foreigner here and probably shouldn’t offer any sort of disparaging opinions as relates to the political goings on in these parts.  I can easily make fun of Canadian politics if it comes right down to it,  so there’s no need to go all “international” or anything.


So there’s city hall in the background,  along with half the population of the city in front…


I only took something like four pictures,  and I’m putting them all in here dammit.



I could have gone to each and every hut and taken pictures of all the junk,  wonderful little things they were selling. 


Oh my.

Of course,  there were some items that were more tempting than others, but I’m pretty sure I’ve had my quota of sweets in the first half century of my life to last me well into the second half. 

Just best not to go there.


really fattening stuff...

Besides,  I don’t even think I could even eat ONE of those huge things, whatever they were.  (just click the picture,  you can figure it out for yourselves)


It didn’t take us long to get far away from the Christmas market,  but we weren’t quite done for the day.  The time allotment mostly has to do with how much more time Travelling Companion has left on here “knee-o-meter”,  since all festivities must cease when her knees get to be too painful for her to bear.   I suppose it’s more like a “pain-in-the-knee-o-meter” if I wanted to be a little more accurate.


Next stop was the parking garage outside the Opera.  Sometimes we’ll take public transit.  More often than not,  we don’t.   It can be a bit of a gamble when it comes to how much we end up paying for parking,  but at the first stop it was €4,00,  and in the second garage it was only €1,90.   You have to pay more than that for a bag of dirt,  so I figure that’s a pretty good deal.  Plus,  down and back by subway would have been €7,20.  Some times it works out.  Plus,  I like my “own space”,  even if it means I have to steer.


I didn’t have any huge desire to take pictures at our second stop either,  since it was mostly just a slightly thinner hoard on Kärtner Straße.  This is another huge shopping area,  much like Mariahilferstraße,  only in the first district.  A lot of shops are closed for Sunday, but it doesn’t seem to matter.   People are still out there!

I was somewhat taken by the honkin’ big bow on the side of this building however.  I thought that was photo worthy.


Where the hell do you store something like that for the rest of the year?


We had this fleeting idea to get some “Sacher Torte”  at the Sacher Hotel,  but just about every time we go by that place there’s a line up out the door.  There’s no way I’m lining up to shove something in my pie hole.  Even if it’s pie.  Well,  it’s “Torte”,  so it’s not exactly pie, but certainly not something I need in order to sustain life or anything.  We opted instead for coffee at Starbucks.   That place was slightly mobbed as well,   but at least there wasn’t a line up out the door.  

About half way through the wait to get my coffee I always have these thoughts that I really have no business being there,  and that I really don’t NEED a coffee,  and whose idea was this anyway? 

Then of course we had to take our coffees to go,  since there were no seats (and they have a huge upstairs seating area) which was just as well anyway,  since I was getting warm as it was,  and had no desire to start peeling off clothes to be comfortable. 

We decided on one more stop,  which was going to be the “Kaisergruft” since it was just over on the next street.

In the whole time that T.C. and I have been here,  we’ve never been to the Kaisergruft,  and even though we had been to the church,  we somehow completely missed the entrance to the crypt.  Such intrepid tourists!   Rather than get into some great long explanation about this crypt,  I’ll simply direct you to the Google search page here.  That’s much simpler.  You can read as much or as little as you’d like.   You could spend a considerable amount of time reading it all though,  so just be warned.

What I notice that seems to be missing from the photos on line is any mention of Otto,  who was entombed there this past summer.  He was the “Last of the Habsburgs”.  I did a little synopsis back in July.

Don’t you just love all these links?


Anyway,   here’s his sarcophagus.  




He’s in there,  but his heart is in Hungary. 

Isn’t there a song title in there? 

Never mind.


Just about at that point, the time had run out on T.C.’s knees,  and my coffee was due to ‘find and outlet’ so to speak,  so we opted to head for home. 


That was our “big outing”.  

Fascinating,  I know.


My suspicion is that tomorrow there will be some baking going on (I baked banana bread today, but that’s kind of old hat)  and then Tuesday morning we’re heading off to Slovenia for the rest of the week.   I haven’t decided if I’ll take the laptop or not,  but probably will.   I mean,  no blog for four days?   The horror!


I certainly hope everyone has had a fine weekend.  Ours wasn’t too shabby.



Thanks for stopping by.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

There’s Here!

And I’m probably going to go for a nap.

Seems that SOMEBODY had that Christmas morning kind of excitement going on this morning,  and was up and had turned the coffee on not too much later than 5:30.

Normally that whole coffee program is my deal,  but with the caveat that well,  I have to get out of bed first?  

Checked on the flight on line,  and saw that it was going to arrive a bit early, at around 8:05,  which turned out to be somewhat optimistic in the grand scheme of things,  but no matter.   There’s always a certain amount of waiting around when it comes to these things.   Usually it’s me waiting for T.C.,  so it was nice to have some company for the wait.

It didn’t seem to be all that busy at first,  but as the international flights all started to arrive,  the arrivals area was getting to be more and more crowded. 



If you know whom to look for after you click the pic,  then good for you.  If you’re not one of the chosen ones,  I’m sorry.


Leading up to the arrival,  all the while watching the arrivals board,  waiting for the flashing lights to indicate when the plane had finally touched down etc.,  I was approached by a young lady asking for directions.   This might be because I tend to hang back? Maybe I look like I could be approachable?  Not sure.   She was very pleasant,  both in her demeanour and looks,  and was speaking a language that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me at first,  but I got the idea she was looking for Gate B.  That part made even less sense,  so I thought maybe she was just a wee bit confused.

Since we just happened to be in a German speaking country,  (and I still didn’t really know where the heck she needed to go)  I proceeded to try and give her some directions to either the outside taxi stand or to the trains. That didn’t seem to have the desired effect,  as  I was getting that blank look of a person who has no clue what you’re talking about,  so I said,  “Perhaps English would be better?”   Well yes,  she did speak a little English, and was wondering where Gate “B” was, (see, that’s what I thought,  but it was some Slavic tongue that wasn’t quite lighting up all the lights in the ole language centre….)   since she had to catch a connecting flight to Düsseldorf. 

Um ya see,  if you’re out in the arrivals area,  past the point of no return,  you can either rent a car and drive to Düsseldorf,  or take a train, or maybe there’s a bus?  But getting back on a plane means you need to stay on the other side of that “point of no return”?     I wouldn’t say that and stress the person out even more than she already was,  but it was a thought that briefly crossed my mind. 

All I said was,  “Oooh,  that’s a good question.  I’m not 100% sure,  but I think you shouldn’t have come out through those doors.”    

I don’t even think she said anything at that point,  since there was that moment of realisation that she had taken a wrong turn, and that was why there were no signs to the gates!  After that second or two when I could quite clearly see her come to this realisation, she made a hasty retreat back through one of the doors,  never to be seen again.  This was good,  since if she had re-emerged,  that would have meant I was dead wrong.   We didn’t want that.

Oh,  and if you’re wondering how that’s at all possible?   Well,  security is done at the gate.   There isn’t one big “Cattle Call”  like at some airports,  where you have to line up with each and every person who is ever going to be flying anywhere that day.   No,  here in Vienna and in most of the other airports I’ve been in so far in Europe,  you only have to line up with the clowns who will be on your flight.  It’s a good time to size up just who the idiots are,  since T.C. and I always breeze through, (knock on wood) get a good seat in the departure “pen”, (kind of reminds me of preparing livestock for transport)  at which point I quite enjoy watching all the shenanigans as people who apparently have never been to an airport in their lives,   proceed to do all manner or really dumb things as they attempt to go through security.   Quite entertaining really,  but only if you’re not behind them. 


Speaking of being entertained while in your comfy seat, our departure from the parking lot was somewhat memorable because of the freakin’ wind chill!   I swear I put two,  two Euro coins in that stupid machine,  and then it had the nerve to tell me I still owed €1,90.   The total cost started out at €3,90!   Grrr.  Somebody owes me two Euros!  The thing was,  the wind was just pickin’ things,  my eyes were getting kinda watery,  and I just wanted to get out of there.  Ya,  that was fun.   It seems it was quite entertaining for my three passengers as they sat nice and toasty in the car.  “We couldn’t figure out what you were doing.”  Right.  Well,  apparently neither could I.  Glad you enjoyed the show.



I seem to have a number of pictures of guests in the back seat of our car. 



Just for fun,  they brought along a can of Tim Horton’s™ coffee.  Always good.  Along with a copy of Friday’s Globe and Mail.   I think I know what I’ll be reading for the next few days! 



We already have fly swatters and cling wrap,  what more could I want?


Well,  at this point it seems I’m the only one who is awake.  We’ll have to see about that.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for stopping by.




Friday, December 16, 2011

Just a Friday.

Not too sure just how long Travelling Companion is going to be tonight,  since there are a heap of things to sort out before she leaves her office.  As it is she realised that there are a couple HR related items that she needs to plug in by the 31st,  which is why if I were a betting man,  I wouldn’t have taken that bet that she’d be able to leave work alone between now and the end of the year.  There’s no point in doing the “I told you so”  however.  Not conducive to marital bliss. 

We’d be home for almost a week at this point,  and I’d be thinking about just what time I’d like to head out to the Big Bang Boozerama 

Let’s not go there.   We’re here.  The kids will be here tomorrow.  It’s all good. 

Just wish the other two could have made it,  but I’d sooner see them both gainfully employed, even if our only Christmas contact might be by way of Skype.  

I just now looked up and noticed it’s started to rain.   That wouldn’t be any kind of a big deal,  except that all morning it’s been rather pleasant and sunny,  which was the reason why I thought I’d try hanging out one of the bed sheets.   That plan didn’t quite work out.   Should I say again how much I miss our dryer?  

We did have “red sky in the morning”,  so that should have told me something.  I was just blissfully unaware.  I also find it somewhat troubling just how quickly it gets dark at this point in time in the afternoon. It just seems to be way,  way too early.    I go through this every year.   You’d think I would figure it out.   The days get shorter Bob,  it’s no big deal. 


Speaking of taking a while to figure stuff out.  (gotta have those segues!)  For as long as we’ve been here in Wienerland,  I’ve been going to the honkin’ big pharmacy around the corner from our front door in order to pick up prescriptions for Travelling Companion.   The thing is,  they never have the stuff in stock,  always have to order it,  which means I have to go back the next day.   That wouldn’t be so bad,  but there’s always a huge mob at this place every single time I have to go there.   And yes,  if you’re picking up,  you can go to the dedicated “pick-up” area,  but there’s always a line-up there too.

So then I finally had an epiphany and realised that,  if I have to go back the next day anyway,  I may as well order these things from the tiny little “Apotheke”  that’s down the street.  Sure enough, I went in there yesterday morning,  and there was ONE person ahead of me.  I placed my order knowing full well that they wouldn’t have it on hand.   Got my little claim ticket and left.   Went back this morning and there was NOBODY ahead of me and I was in and out in about five minutes.   I’ve gone to this small place a couple times before,  which is why it’s even more vexing that I hadn’t figured out the ordering part beforehand.  What a bonehead.

It so happened that when I was in there yesterday,  the one person ahead of me was speaking English to the lady behind the counter, (I guess they’re called a “druggist”?)   so when I got up there,  I said to her in German that I supposed that we could either speak German of English.   She preferred German,  (“Mir geht’s besser Deutsch”.) so that was fine.   Good to know one’s limitations.  

I only mention this,  since the fellow who went to retrieve my order this morning,  (I never seem to get the same person twice.) thought he’d try out his English with me,  even though our conversation up to that point had been in German.   He quite possibly noticed that I had “Bronte Harbour Yacht Club” on the front of my jacket,  and something to do with St. Andrew’s golf course on my hat?  Not sure.  Well,  I did pay with my Scotiabank visa,  so I guess there were some definite signs.

I don’t know why he thought he’d switch to English,  since his English was pitiful.   Try thinking of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes?   These people just don’t get enough practise.   “Sank yoo,  haf a nice dey.”  

Ya,  spell check doesn’t like it when I try to write à la Sergeant Shultz.

Most of you in North America quite likely know who Sergeant Schultz is, since you probably watched Hogan’s Heroes,   but just for kicks and giggles,  I’ll put up a brief video as a bit of a retrieval cue. 



Don’t for a nano second think that this silly show was in any way shape or form based on the reality of being a POW.  There was no laugh track in any of the Stalags,  trust me.

The accent however,  isn’t that much of an exaggeration.   Mind you,  I’ve met a few Austrians who have a fairly reasonable command of some semblance of a “Broadcast Standard English”,  but then you find out that they’ve lived part of their lives in an English speaking country.   I guess that’s the only way they can do it.

A somewhat trivial but nonetheless pleasant by-product of my visit to this small Pharmacy this morning was that they gave me some free stuff!



Always good to get free stuff.  There have been a couple times when travelling by air when I’ve wished I had my shaving cream along,  so the middle one just might come in handy.  Not so sure about the outside two.   “Wash lotion”?    Meh,  don’t think so.


Mind you,  I think I spent enough.  Did I mention I had to use my visa?   It’s no big deal however,  since the Company that Cannot be Named will give us back all the money.  (So yes,  it really is “free stuff”.)  That’s the nature of our “plan”.   They tried using an actual insurance company when we first moved to Europe.  That didn’t really work all that well.  Good blog fodder though!  Especially when some outfit in Connecticut sends a cheque drawn on a US bank.    (Oh, I guess I should say “check”,  whatever).  I don’t know what they thought we were going to do with it?   It’s just a piece of paper with some numbers and letters on it.   Ever heard of a direct deposit?

First of all,  they don’t use cheques in Europe. Besides, we don’t use a US banks since, (here’s the biggie)  WE BE CANADIAN.   I want to say I’m not sure what the thought process is,  but then I realise,  there was no thinking.    Or the thinking was,  “That’s the way we do it, so that must be right.  Right?”    Don’t get me started.  I realise I just now rolled my eyes.

For the most part,  that’s all water under the bridge,  but then every so often there’s just that hint of dimwittedness, when you say to yourself, “but I thought they figured that out?”.  We’ve been here since about the middle of 08,  so the learning curve shouldn’t be quite so shallow?   It got to the point a few months ago where the big kahuna over in Switzerland was getting so annoyed at the way these kinds of things were being handled, all the while threatening to use another relocation firm,  that after some serious butt clenching,  they’ve been trying to clean up their act somewhat.  

Names have been omitted to protect the stupid.

It’s a unique experience,  this Ex-pat thing,  I’ll give you that much.


Hope you all have a fine weekend.


Thanks for stopping by.




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two more sleeps!

And that too could be a previous blog post title.  I’m never really sure.

Plus,  it’s a funny thing what one tends to find acceptable as “family vocabulary”,  since I would think twice about using the number of “sleeps”  to count down to an event with a total stranger.  Try this out and see if this works for you:  “Nasa has confirmed that their new rocket will launch in two more sleeps”.   See?  There’s something just wrong about that.

So when Travelling Companion said those two words last night before she crashed at about 9:30,  it didn’t sound strange to me at all.  This is a person who has more than just a couple letters behind her name,  yet has also been known to use another bit of family jargon,  which is “bake to hork”.

OK,  so now you’re really confused.

I guess I have to explain that one.  But if I do,  and if I read it somewhere in some scientific journal (as if),  I’m going to be really pissed,  and I’m going to want to track down whoever blabbed.  So keep it to yourselves.

See,  many years ago,  when I worked afternoons,  I transferred to a school that was even closer to our house than where I been working up until then.  During my entire time as a Caretaker,  I had always tried to have a commute to work that was never any longer than about 10 minutes.   Twenty minutes MAXIMUM,  and that only happened because we moved across town.  As soon as I could,  I transferred to a closer school.   Hey, there’s something to be said for “seniority”.

I think it was some sort of overreaction to my previous experience in the restaurant business where,  within the span of one year,  I put 100,000 km on a company car.  That’s a lot of driving.  Didn’t want to do it no more.


All transfers are done towards the latter part of May,  on into June.   What that means is,  one typically finds oneself in a new school just in time for the dreaded “summer clean up”.   *ugh*

“Summer clean up” is just about the worst part of the job.  It’s hot.  It’s humid (this is Southern Ontario remember)  and there’s gobs of work to do.   There were very few air conditioned schools in the system, and in most cases,  the stupid air conditioning was shut off in the summer anyway.  That’s a whole other story.


It so happened that the fellow I was going to be working with,  and who is still working as a Head Caretaker for the Board,  is originally from the Azores.   That link will take you to a wiki article,  just in case your geography is a tad weak.

The thing was though,  this fellow had only made it to about grade three in the Azores,  so you can well imagine that,  not only was his written Portuguese not that great,  but his English was even worse.   I didn’t realise it then,  but there would be many times later when I’d have to “translate”.   And we were ALL speaking English.

I seem to recall, just after being transferred, that I worked with him for a few days,  at which point he was taking some vacation time,  and then he was coming back in after a couple weeks.   So there I sat, all by my lonesome,  in our tiny little office next to the boiler room on the first Monday that I’d be working there by myself,  knocking back coffee number two,  and trying to come to grips with the situation, when I happened to notice on the calendar over the desk,  that he has written down our “vacation schedule”.   You can well imagine that I’m using the term “written” in the most broad sense.  Here’s why:

I could decipher where,  for his vacation time, he had put in the word “off”.  “Off”  is pretty easy.  But then on the following Monday,  he had written in “Bake to hork”.    Sound it out a few times.  I did.  And after about four tries,  I realised it said,  “Back to work”!   Eureka!

So there you go.  Our immediate family has been using “Bake to hork”  ever since.   If we’re with strangers or those who are not ‘in the know’,  we get looked at like we’re a bunch of complete idiots,  but we don’t really care.

There’s a segue in there,  since the thing he used to do before getting a job as a Caretaker was cut hair.  He would regale me with these stories of how many heads of hair he used to cut,  back when he first came to Canada.  As best as I can recall,  and as best as I could figure out, (it’s that “translating” thing?)  it got to the point where he was physically no longer able to comfortably hold the required hair cutting equipment for all those hours.   It’s possible it was carpel tunnel syndrome, but I’ll never know,  since that wasn’t part of his English lexicon.  

Um ya,  there were times when I had no friggin clue what he was talking about.

So,  that brings me to one of this morning’s chores:   It was time for Bob’s pre-Christmas hair cut.   The pre-Christmas hair cut turns out to be no different than any other haircut,  but it just has a nice ring to it.


It’s always good to have pictorial evidence.  I had no clue what I was taking a picture of,  since I would need to put on my glasses to actually check.  I was just pointing and hoping.

Both Travelling Companion and I have been going to "Frau Gabi” since arriving here in Wienerland,  Not only is her salon within a city block of our front door, but she also has a passable grasp of English.   She and I always speak German when I’m there,  but the English comes in handy for T.C.  

I don’t know how we got on the subject,  but she was telling me a story about a hair dresser (or perhaps more accurately,  it was a “Barber”) whose name she wasn’t about to divulge,  in the sixth district,  the bulk of whose customers go to him so they can all have a drink!  

Oh,  I remember. It was because I was telling her about my Dad taking me to his brother-in-law (my Uncle Merrill) to get my hair cut when I was a kid.  It was only twenty-five cents!   I remember that part,  but I also remember him being drunk most of the time.  Actually no,  it was all the time.  Not my Dad,  he hardly touched a drop.  I mean my Uncle Merrill.   And this was during the daytime, well before the sun had ever come over the yardarm.

And man, did he stink!  And I remember one time how he managed to cut me.  Bled like a stuck pig too.  Funny the things we don’t ever forget.

So….  drinking and cutting hair?  I know from personal experience that it’s not a good combination.  “Frau Gabi”  went on to say how all his customers (men, presumably) would come out of the place looking like their hair had been cut by a drunk.  Pretty much the way my hair looked for roughly the first ten years of my life.   Not a pretty sight,  believe me. 

And no, there will be no pictorial evidence.  I hope there are no old photos lying around.  Gawd help me.


Oh,  and the “two more sleeps”?   What?  You thought I forgot?  We’ll be picking up daughter number one and her main man at the airport Saturday morning.   Hehee!


Almost forgot to mention,  and this was a pleasant surprise,  “Frau Gabi”  likes to give out little Christmas presents in the days leading up to Christmas.

I got me some hand cream. 



Because I mean,  I really need hand cream.  Admittedly there might have been a time when I’d slather on some hand cream, back in the day,  but it’s been a while. 

Don’t worry,  I was very gracious in accepting my hand cream.  I’m not that much of an ingrate after all.

Does your hairdresser/barber give out a Christmas present?

I didn’t think so.


So just remember,  be careful with sharp objects,  or better yet,  no cutting hair while drunk.


Thanks for stopping by.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Inspection.

That does sound a tad ominous.  It’s not,  really.

Once upon a time,  back in August it so happens,  I was checking my emails,  as I do from time to time,  and there was a note from someone at the Landlord’s office.

It went like this:


“Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Wir teilen mit, dass am Dienstag, den 30.08.2011 ab 9.00 Uhr eine Wohnungsbegehung durch einen  Sachverständigen stattfinden wird.

Dieser wird einen Ortsaugenschein zwecks Feststellung von etwaigen Baumängeln durchführen.

Wir ersuchen Sie, zu dem genannten Termin in Ihren Räumlichkeiten anwesend zu sein um den Zutritt zu Ihrer Mietfläche zu gewährleisten.

Wir ersuchen bitte um Kenntnissnahme und Veranlassung.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen”.


Oh right.  It’s is German.  For anyone whose first language is German,  you can just skip the next part,  since I’ll briefly sum up. 

Seems they were sending someone on over to have a look around,  just to see how the place was holding up.  That’s a pretty loose translation,  but I’ll not bore you with specifics.

The supposed appointment was going to be for the 30th of August.  Now here’s the thing.   First of all,  I pointed out to this chimp that giving me a week’s notice was really rather unacceptable and secondly,  that it just so happened that we were in Canada at the time.   And August?  Half the country is still on vacation in August,  we were no exception.

So the next note had something to do with “several of the parties are unavailable….bla,  bla,  bla,”  and, “Der neue Termin wird voraussichtlich Mitte (sic) September stattfinden und wird Ihnen zeitgerecht bekanntgeben.”.

OK,  see the word “September” in there?  You get the idea.  I think I replied.  I don’t recall.

So the bottom line was,  they got around to doing this “inspection” today. 

It was fun.  Trust me.

I tried not to get too carried away,  and hopefully I was able to curb my enthusiasm when it came to describing the door installer Dude with his Coke Bottle glasses,  and missing finger,  or how somebody managed to completely miss using drywall tape in one of the bedrooms.   Y’know,  stuff that they never ever would have gotten away with if I had been doing the “inspecting”?   Hanging doors plumb,  and wiring up light fixtures that actually have power going to them is kind of the way it should be done?   But hey,  what do I know?

I’ve heard of “plumber’s crack”,  and I suppose this is some sort of “drywaller’s crack”?   That will be the extent of the crack remarks.  Let’s just nip that in the bud, shall we?


See the ‘black line’?  That’s where the dry wall installer didn’t use enough (or any) dry wall tape,  and the joint (seam) has subsequently opened up.  Oh,  and just for kicks and giggles,  here’s a three minute video on using dry wall tape.  Again, ‘been there,  done that’.




Little Dude on the right was making notes in his little book.  I didn’t offer him a little coffee,  even though at the moment,  the bigger Dude on the left looks like he wouldn’t mind one.



At that particular moment I think he was asking me if we had a humidifier,  so I’m not sure what the “coffee grasp”  had to do with it.  Possibly some unique Austrian hand gesture that I haven’t yet learned. 

Curiously enough too,  little Dude on the right sort of reminded me of George Costanza,  but that’s probably since I watched a couple episodes of Seinfeld last night.  My mind can be a mysterious and frightful place. 

At this precise moment I don’t recall the word for humidifier in German,  but I knew what he was talking about.  That sort of “German by osmosis”  thing is what has been working for me all along.  When it comes right down to it,  I really haven’t a clue.

And the answer was no,  we don’t have a humidifier.  We don’t even use one back home where it can get heaps colder,  and heaps dryer in the house.  Break out the ChapStick!

He was intrigued by the fact that our neighbours have more areas of their hardwood flooring that have opened up than we do.   It has nothing to do with the inhabitants,  I’ll tell you that right now.

I went on to describe the ins and outs of installing hardwood flooring (been there,  done that,  got the sore knees to prove it,  trust me) with particular attention being paid to something called “directions”  that most every manufacturer will include with each and every package of hardwood flooring that they sell.  And on these directions,  if you’re not too proud to read them,  it clearly states that the material in question has to “acclimatize”,  for some times as long as 48 hours.  Minimum 24.  Minimum.

So here’s what I think happened.   We know that our neighbours moved in in August of 09.  I found this out from my neighbour a couple floors down,  since it seems they were trying to move in on the same day.  That must have been fun.  Anyway,  my guess is that the flooring would have been installed some time in July,  and if their floor went in first,  that would have given the packages of flooring for our place more time to “acclimatize”.  The verb in German is not too hard to come up with,  it’s “akklimatisieren”.   Again, German by osmosis.

That would explain why their floor has more places where there are now cracks.   The cracks that we have in our flooring opened up the first full summer we were here (2010) and have never really moved since.   No crack jokes.  I implore you.

So that was the inspection.   They were very polite.  Took no more than 20 minutes I’d say.  Didn’t go up on the terrace,  and didn’t seem to be too interested in anything outside at all.   We said our good-byes,  and I sent them on their way.


Meanwhile,  in spite of getting home this morning at about 12:30,  Travelling Companion was on her way once again to her other office up in Schrems.   She was picking up an associate at 7:30,  so it was another early morning.  After this Friday,  she has promised that she’s not about to do another stitch of work until the first week in January,  so of course that means that all the work has to be compressed into this week.    Judging by the fog outside,  I don’t think her trip will be all that enjoyable.  At least there’s a second set of eyes travelling along with her.   

I recall that when we were home last year at this time,  she did have to go on a couple conference calls from there,  with the time difference being the one truly huge annoyance.  After the first one or two times on previous occasions when she’d have to get up for a 3:30 a.m. call, (9:30 a.m. in Wienerland) they started scheduling these calls for a little later in the day.  That was at least a consideration.  So the work from this particular week did continue,  even though we were in another country at the time.    Whether or not she can go until the New Year without turning on her crackberry or computer?   I’m afraid I’ll need to experience that first hand to believe it.  Stay tuned.


Happy Trails!


Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, December 12, 2011

The package is away!

Getting tougher for me to come up with titles.  Obviously. 

Even though yesterday was a “Silent Sunday”,  I’ve used that one.  Never to be used again. 

Since it’s Monday,  and December,  that must mean I was at the post office this morning.  There were a few more cards to be sent off,  a couple of which are headed for spots within Europe,  along with a box of “stuff”.  I shouldn’t even allude to the contents,  since it’s Christmas related.   Might only be bubble wrap!  I’m not telling.

Man,  that would suck,  wouldn’t it?

It turns out that if the box was being sent as a “package”,  it was supposed to go by December 5th.  BUT,  if it’s being sent as a “letter”,  then it’s all good.  Confused?   You’re not alone.  I mean,  it WAS a box,  but I sent it as a letter.  Right.  Welcome to Absurdistan!   I had to pay something like an extra €10 for this little parlour trick,  but I did get a tracking number and the faint hope that it would arrive at its destination by Christmas.  “Nicht garantiert”.  But is anything guaranteed when you send it in the mail?  Seriously.

So I think I’m done with the post office program.  I seem to get the same lady each and every time I go there,  and I told her it was my intent that she wouldn’t have to lay eyes on me again until some time in the New Year.   If ever.  Since she normally has a somewhat glum demeanour,  I wasn’t actually sure whether,  by making her crack a smile,  she was being charitable,  amused, or was genuinely happy at the prospect of not seeing my ugly mug for a while.  Now I’m full of doubt.  I guess we’ll never know. 


Speaking of the post office,  I think I’ve alluded to the somewhat sketchy delivery service we’ve received at our Canadian location over the last 20 years or so?  Quite often we’ve had to do a “mail exchange”  with an elderly gentleman about twenty houses away on our street.  Something to do with dyslexia.   Well,  I received an email from a friend back home on Friday, saying the Christmas card I had sent the previous Tuesday had already arrived at her door!    That’s four days folks!   What the hell planet are we on?

I’ve known it to take longer to get mail from our place to Toronto,  and that’s only a 40 minute drive from our front door.   I don’t understand.  I notice they put that little “priority” sticker on each envelope,  but I just thought that was to make me feel important.  I guess it does mean something. 

Of course,  that’s only one recipient.  I have no way of knowing if any of the other cards arrived at their destinations.  Maybe they’re sitting in a bag in a freight car off on some railroad spur in New Brunswick?  We’ll find out some day I suppose.


Speaking of December.  Wasn’t I?  We realised on Saturday that it was the 10th.   Well,  I did anyway.   See,  last year on the tenth of December,  we were on our way home.  It was a Friday.  I had tried to lobby for a Thursday departure in the naive hope that I could make it to the pub on the Friday night.  Fool.  I’m a complete mess for almost a week after we get home,  so I don’t know where I got the idea that I could function any time after about six p.m. on the day of our arrival.  *pfft*  Go out again?  C’mon!

Anyway,  it was just a thought that crossed my mind,  since were not doing the “home for Christmas” program this year.   I suppose the good news for daughter number two is that she didn’t have to fret about cleaning the house for the week leading up to our arrival.   The other slightly ironic thing is,  had we gone home,  we would have to go and visit daughter number one and her main squeeze at their new house for Christmas, or they’d come and see us,  or whatever.  Whereas over the last few years,  it was only a matter of them coming up a flight of stairs to join us for Christmas.   The other twist is, they’re coming HERE for Christmas.  So there won’t even be a “first Christmas” in their new house.   I guess there will never be a return to “normal”,   whatever that was.

It’s all too confusing.


Since we’re staying in Vienna,  did I mention I put up some lights?


Freaky,  huh?

They’ve actually been up for a few days now.  I had to go out and buy another timer for the bottom (white) string,  since I got tired of traipsing out there in my slippers each night trying to unplug the stupid things.  One thing about European style plugs,  when you plug something in,  the plug isn’t going to come out all that easily,  so going through that routine on a daily basis wasn’t working.


I certainly hope the weather is considerably better where ever it is you find yourself at the moment.

Keep that stick on the ice,  and thanks for stopping by.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wandering aimlessly.

And that’s about all I have to say.  It was another “shopping day”,  which was more like a “shopping,  couple of hours”,  since I had pretty well had enough after about the first hour or so.   It was like being at the Vatican at Easter.   Seriously,  it seemed like half the world had decided to head to Vienna today.

There was no point in taking the car, since the objective was to go down to the first district,  and we really didn’t even know where we wanted to end up.  That meant taking the subway,  getting off at Stubentor and making our way back until well,  we couldn’t take it any more. 

If I tell you all the streets we were on,  it wouldn’t matter anyway,  so I’ll just put up some pictures.


Ah,  and see the clock?  T.C. didn’t want to believe me that we got such a late start.  She wanted to “go early”.  Hm.

And if you want to overdose on Viennese Schnitzel,  this is the place.  Didn’t go today,  I’m just pointing it out.


The Schnitzels are bigger than a dinner plate.  Of course,  that’s pretty much all you get,  but that’s OK,  since that’s about all a person can eat.  There’s a pretty good description of various types of Schnitzels here.

We actually went in and bought something here:


A person could seriously haemorrhage a bank account at this place.  Men’s clothing by the way.  Youwzah.


The store we were actually looking for was this next place.



Yes,  that’s Spiderman hanging off the wall.  It’s a sort of claustrophobic kind of merchandising store that I had to get out of after about 10 minutes.  I can handle it when things are nicely displayed,  but this place was just way too busy.  I didn’t take a picture inside,  since even if that were OK, it wouldn’t have made much sense anyway.  Besides, it wasn’t only about comic books.  I could have handled only comic books. They just had way too much junk for my liking.  When you start buying things like Star Wars slippers,  or a Simpson’s loofah?   Please.  I’ll admit I just might be making up a couple things here, but you know what I mean.  There’s a nice little video that sums up the silliness of merchandising here, if you’re so inclined.  My apologies for the humour of Mel Brooks,  but it’s your own fault for sticking around this long.

Now,  speaking of things that make you go,  “whoa”,  there was this fellow zipping on by with a furry hat on his head.  There’s a story about those hats.  They ain’t cheap,  and wearing them has something to do with tradition.



Why am I suddenly whistling the theme from “Fiddler on a roof”?  Wrong bunch,  I know.  Indulge me.

The name of that particular hat by the way,  is a either a Spodik, or a Shtreimel.  I’m more or less at the outer limits of my research capacity here,  you’re welcome to find out on your own.

Anyway,  we didn’t find anything at all in the Comic store, mostly since buying something there for the intended recipient is like buying a hand tool for yours truly.  I either already have it,  or the one you picked out is perhaps not quite what I had in mind. 

What will follow is a succession of pictures I took right up until we decided we needed to go home.





And if you can believe it,  there were actually tour groups making their way through these hordes!   For the most part,  with the exception of the tour groups,  making our way through the throngs is almost tolerable.  People aren’t overly rude or anything,  and do tend to make way,  or whatever.  Once in a while though,  you get the ladies and their baby buggies,   and when the frequency of tour groups and baby buggies reaches a certain threshold, that’s when I start to formulate a plan to get out of there and go home.

I’m afraid I’m not clever enough to come up with a mathematical formula to demonstrate this urge to slap somebody silly,  so you’ll just have to take my word for it.   It would be something like:  Frequency of tour groups times baby buggies,  times the square root of the increasing pain in my neck and shoulders, equals Bob get’s really crusty.    Time to go home.

Don’t try to make sense of that,  but I think you understand the “formula”.


We had this naive idea that we’d go out again this evening and take in some of the sights,  but after dinner we just no longer had the ambition for much more walking around,  standing around or higher math.

The night time crowd must be heaps younger than yours truly.


Hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far.


Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, December 9, 2011

I feel like Willy.

Although,  now that I’ve started reading up a little bit about Willy Nelson and his tax troubles,  I realise he was in the BIG LEAGUES.   Whoa.  Those are some scary numbers.   No no,  we’re not even remotely close here…

See here’s the deal.   When you’re an “Ex-Pat”,  the Company that Cannot Be Named will do whatever they can to “keep you whole”.   So what that means is they hire the lawyers and tax people to sort out all those little details,  and we just make sure we sign the papers in the right spots.  Some times there are pages and pages,  but it’s been working so far.  The Puerto Rico gig was OK,  but the various entities that are supposed to be handling these little issues have been dragging their heals a bit when it comes to our European Experience. 

The Dutch government in particular has been pretty slow in getting their end of things sorted out, and it was only just recently that that whole mess was put to bed.  We moved here (i.e. left the Netherlands) in 2009.  Just thought I’d mention that.   Doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,  since it all has to be dealt with by the hired hands.

Meanwhile,  back at the ranch,  our good buddies over there at Revenue Canada,  (yes, I know they call it something else now and I don’t care,  “The Revenuers” OK?)  have been getting a wee bit anxious.   See,  for a while now,  Travelling Companion has been telling somebody in the Company that Cannot be Named,  that not enough was being deducted from her pay.   See where this might be headed?    Scary thought,  I know.   We have been dutifully setting aside our shekels for a quite a while now.   We knew.   Oh ya,  we knew them chickens was comin’ home to roost.

It’s not supposed to be this onerous.   The Company that Cannot be Named sent some dough off to the Revenuers to keep them happy,  and then when all the dust settled,  they wanted their money back.   That’s the way it works.  Sucks,  I know. 

I thought we should offer some sort of monthly payment plan like,  oh I don’t,  Fifty bucks a month?   T.C. didn’t think they’d appreciate that.  

Well,  we don’t have a cheque book lying around in these parts,  but thankfully we gave daughter number two signing authority at the bank.  There are simply some things you can’t do from half a world away.   My impression is she had to practise a little in order to get all the words into that little line on the top of the cheque,  but she managed.  I mean,  even when you get a mortgage,  you don’t actually have to write the cheque,  so writing those bigger ones can be a challenge.   The other slight wrinkle was,  she naturally wrote the cheque on our Canadian bank,  and we weren’t too sure if the fine folks at the Company that Cannot be Named would even know what to do with it.   Several days passed, *several*,  but much to their credit,  and to the detriment of our bank account,  they did figure out how to cash it.  *groan*.   That’s the thing with on line banking,  you can find out any time day or night just what kind of shape your finances might be in.  So much for being blissfully unaware.

So for anyone out there who thinks,  “Oh those executives,  they don’t pay their share”?  You can just bite me.  That’s all.


I guess it’s like having a tooth pulled.  Once it’s over with and the pain subsides,  life goes on and you get over it.   Sort of.

So no,  we won’t be going “On the road again".




Last week some time I guess it was,  I noticed this ad for a production of “Carmen”  that will be put on next summer.




Had no clue where this open air theatre was,  and couldn’t for the life of me decipher where it was from all the bla bla in the ad.  I guess they figure you should know?   Well,  it turns out it’s a former quarry that goes back to Roman times,  (in German, a Römersteinbruch)which is now used as an amphitheatre.  

It’s also under an hour’s drive from here,  which you can see by clicking on this map link.   I have my suspicion that this isn’t necessarily something that is a draw for the average tourist in these parts,  and that’s mostly since the tickets were not as overwhelmingly expensive as most opera tickets tend to be.   The total amount came in under €200,  for both of us.  This will sound a tad silly,  but that’s “cheap”  for opera tickets.  Well,  unless you want to stand at the back,  but I think I’ve explained how that will never be an option.

Not only that,  but the quarry itself if quite something, so we’ll get there a little early,  have a look around and go and enjoy an opera.   This isn’t happening until next July,  so there may even be a chance to take a drive down there in the mean time. 

We’ve seen Carmen,  (back in 1991 I think?) and this isn’t like we’ve seen all the operas we’d ever want to see in our lives and have now decided to go back to the beginning.  That’s not the way it works.  It’s here.  We’re here.  We have to go.  That’s all there is to it.


Now back to my regularly scheduled Friday activities. 

Hope you enjoy your day.


Thanks for stopping by.




Thursday, December 8, 2011

It’s a Holiday!

Big whoop.  All that really means is that some of the stores are closed,  making it just that much trickier to figure out what to make for dinner.  It’ll be chicken soup I’m thinking.

Speaking of dinner,  there were a couple questions about what was in the other three pots.  They weren't just for show,  by the way.  The little one had some sautéed pine nuts,  the one to my immediate left had about five cups of chicken broth that I was slowly adding to the rice concoction,  and the other big one had the shitake mushrooms,  that had been added to the sautéed onion and garlic. 

I think. 

Hey,  it was two days ago.  That’s already ancient history when it comes to the stuff I can remember.  Hope that helps.   Further details will not likely be forthcoming.

So ya,  about that holiday.  It’s the Immaculate Conception,  and we won’t even touch that one with a ten foot dogma pole.  It’s only 17 days until Christmas.  Hello?  We won’t go there either.


Back here in the real world,  that means Travelling Companion is supposed to have the day off.  That never happens of course,  since there’s always somebody working somewhere who doesn’t know if their hind end is bored or punched,  but at least she was able to work from home.   No commuting,  which therefore translates into sleeping in just a wee bit. 

I was surprised to see Mariahilfer Straße was closed when I went out for my morning jaunt.  There are a fair number of stores that are open,  so I’m not sure what the set of criteria might be in terms of who closes and why.   The folks at the bakery mentioned yesterday that they would be open,  and even though I didn’t really need to go,  I went anyway just to get the blood flowing.   I did find it of note that only the franchise owners were working,  which tells me that the “help”  would be getting time and a half or double time. Hm?   I remember having those little puzzles to figure out once upon a time when I was in the restaurant business.  Sometimes it’s not worth it to open up if all your take is going to pay staff.  Good for them.  Not good for the business in the long run.

In typical fashion,  there’s always something going on out on the street.   No clue what these guys were up to,  but when I came back,  there was a small film crew there.


Somehow I don’t think the heater was all that effective?  Too windy.


The temperature out on our terrace is about 7°C,  but the wind is pretty brutal again today,  and I had a sharp reminder of just what “wind chill”  is all about on my way back.  Gah!   They don’t seem to talk about something like wind chill here.   Too temperate I guess.  I know it enters into our lexicon as Canadians on a fairly regular basis. 

Wish it didn’t.

I’ve included a chart for home study purposes.  Knock yourself out.


Not too much else happening today in Wienerland.   Travelling Companion has taken a little break and is in the bedroom watching yet another episode of "Cold Case".  I think she’s going to run out of stuff to watch soon.  Not sure what we’ll do.  There’s always the stuff she missed after falling asleep during any given show.  This is an oft repeated conversation when it comes to this phenomenon.

Me:  “We’ve seen this”.

T.C.: “No we haven’t”

Me: *sigh*

“Yes.  We watched this last year some time.”

T.C.: *silence*

Me: “Oh right,  you fell asleep”.

I try not to roll my eyes.

On a positive note,  an hour of programming can turn into about three,  so that’s good economy.  But that’s usually why I’m not in there watching too,  since I’ve probably already seen it.   TV keeps me awake.  Puts her to sleep. 

We had a similar “Are we strange?” kind of moment on the weekend,  when she was cleaning the bathroom and I was baking banana bread.   See,  the last time I cleaned the bathroom,  apparently it didn’t quite meet expectations,  and the last time she made banana bread well,  you can fill in the rest.   It’s tricky,  but it needs to be cooked.   I’ve been managing that chore ever since.    I refuse to throw out over ripe bananas is all.  Some sort of “farmer boy” mentality.



Tomorrow,  more opera stuff.   Betcha can’t wait?



Remember to close your mouth when the wind picks up.


Thanks for stopping by.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cooking Alone.

And that’s really the only way to do it,  since I don’t know of too many cooks* who really want anyone else hanging around. 

Or,  as one of Travelling Companion’s former associates used to say,  when he meant “hanging around”, he’d say, “Hoovering”.   He was trying to say, “Hovering”,  but his first language was Dutch, and there was the odd time when some things would come out a wee bit wrong.   Like the Bay of Foondy (Fundy).   We never did offer to correct any of these little slips,  since it was so entertaining.  Was that mean?

And besides,  correcting folks who are using another language other than their mother tongue to communicate all the time is just rude I think.  Who gives a shit,  really?

Having said that,  (the cooking alone part that is)  there are times on the weekends when Travelling Companion and I will muster up some sort of joint effort.  Last weekend wasn’t one of those times.  Some times we’re just not hungry.  I think it’s some sort of lack of discipline during the day,  as we tend to graze just a little too much.   All I seem to recall was the steaks we had Sunday night. 

This is what they look like before adding some  Denninger's Steak spice and Worcestershire sauce.

(Click that link for a clue as to what exactly Denninger’s is…)


The butcher actually cuts them from a tenderloin,  and will cut them as thin (not good) or thick as I’d like.   Thicker is better,  since then we don’t end up with insoles instead of steaks.  Travelling Companion likes hers a little more done than me,  so hers might just be a little thinner.  That’s heaps easier than trying to stagger cooking times.   Staggered cooking times!  Ha!  Please, are you kidding?

See,  I took that damned picture,  and I had to figure out a way of sticking it here.  So there you go.


Speaking of simple.  I was,  sort of, right?  I usually try and keep meals simple.  Because well, I AM.  It’s taken me a lot of years to realise that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer,  and after I came to that contusion  (I mean,  conclusion) everything got easier.  Believe me.  Just accept it.

Which is why preparing last night’s meal was a bit of an undertaking.  It’s one of those that is usually at least a joint effort.  Well,  either that or I just stay safely off to one side.  It’s a one person kitchen after all.


This is a recipe that we got from my sister-in-law from WAY around on the other side of world,  off there in West Vancouver.  Thanks “L”!



Yes,  I was actually using FOUR pots!  Jumpin’!  There’s only four burners,  so I suppose that’s pretty much the limit.

Now,  I just realised that I’ve run out of segues.    It’s an unfortunate situation really,  but I haven’t a clue how to make the jump to this next idea.  I must have used them all up in November.  Sad, really.  I apologize.




There’s an expression that one should be mindful of whenever you find yourself on a boat. (this will make sense,  just wait)

And I’m not really kidding around here.  Whether it’s a sailboat,  powerboat, doesn’t matter.  It’s simply this:  “One hand for the boat”.  

What that means is,  whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re moving,  you need to be hanging onto something.  One hand or the other.  Boats can do some unpredictable things.  Sailboats even more so.  Trust me,  it saves a great deal of blood letting or having the rest of the crew do a “man overboard” drill.  

Mind you,  if you’re tying a bowline in the clue of the headsail, and need both hands, my preference is to be right down on the deck.  But that’s just me.  Tougher to get hurled overboard that way.


As an example of the mumbo jumbo confusion that I’ve long ago realised is the best that I can possibly do when it comes to “thinking”,  this was a thought that occurred to me as I was stirring the rice while whipping up the Chicken Risotto..

“One hand for the glass.”

Not that I wanted to make the whole procedure more complicated or anything,  it’s just that the recipe calls for white wine.  I figured, to be on the safe side,  I should really test it.  We must err on the side of caution after all.




But then,  really and truly, I think it’s a pretty good cooking motto!  “One hand for the glass” people!  Look sharp!

I can’t see why that wouldn’t catch on.

I’ll alert the media.


With that,  I’ll bid you a pleasant day.

And, as usual,  thanks for stopping by.


*I’m using that term “cook” in an overly generous fashion when referring to myself of course.