Friday, March 30, 2012

To Quote Winnie the Pooh.

“It’s a blustery day”.

And that’s no understatement.  It’s still the month of March,  and I guess that whole, “In like a lamb,  out like a lion”  thing has some merit. 

We’ve had wind,  rain, sleet,  hail.   Well,  maybe not sleet, but definitely hail. 

I have no photo evidence.  It was too miserable.



Will this do?  Probably not.  But when the wind blows the rain up against that side of the building,  that usually means it’s crappy.


So obviously there won’t be anyone sitting outside in the “Schanigartens”,  unless they’re wearing a Sou'wester.

I don’t quite have a Sou’wester,  but I do have something similar.


big yellow coat

Meh,  sort of like that.  Only sadder and older looking. 

The thing is though,  I don’t wear it that often any more,  since I saw a homeless guy wearing the exact same coat last year some time.  And his wasn’t in much worse shape.  The original intent was to wear it in inclement weather when out on the boat,  and if I just happened to go overboard,  then at least I would be visible and could then be plucked from the water. Hence the once bright yellow colour.  We never had to test that theory,  thankfully, although there were a couple times there when the “life lines”  came in really handy.




See the little “railing” off to one side there?  Those are “life lines”.  Seriously.  Some times they’re all that’s keeping a person from going into the drink. That, and the black partially submerged bit right along the deck called the “Toe rail”.  Both aptly named.   This is a boat that I’ve never been on by the way,  since it’s a picture pinched off the net.  The “view” is fairly familiar however.


Anyway,  I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t be confused with that one homeless guy if I wore that coat this morning,  but I didn’t see him anywhere.   So that was a good thing.   Not too sure where the beggars and their friends hole up when it nasty out,  but there was nary a one to be seen this morning.

The thing is though,  and I’m not sure if it had anything to do with what I was wearing,  but I was asked for directions twice on my way back home.   I didn’t see a big sign pinned to my backside,  so I can only guess it had something to do with the big goofy yellow coat.  One interrogation was from a lady looking for a flower shop of some kind (this was in German, or something close to it)  and another was at the corner of Neubaugaße and Mariahilferstraße from a tourist.  (English,  and also a derivation thereof.)

See,  I can do directions no problems.  English, French or German,  and I might even take a stab at my long forgotten Spanish,  but flower shops?  What the hell do I know about finding a particular flower shop?  Did I look like I had just stepped out from watering the plants?  I don’t understand.

Giving directions to the little oriental chick on the street corner was by contrast,  easy-peasy.  Please note the reference above to the English.  Or maybe we could call it “Engrish”.  

And no,  I didn’t approach her,  lest I be taken for an old creepy guy.  That’ll never do.   She wasn’t sure if she was heading in the right direction for the Naschmarkt,   and that was a no brainer.  I mean,  I stopped short of giving her an entire treatise on the history of the Naschmarkt,  how many vendors there are,  and what position they are in,  in relation to how long they’ve been there or anything,  but I did mention which end was which.  

Tried not to overdo it.   And you believe me that I could spout off all that?  Please.


And I’m sure when she caught up with her friends,  she no doubt told them how she was helped by “An older gentleman”.    *sigh*



My only hope is that she wasn’t subconsciously thinking of this guy.



big bird


Oh see,  he’s holding a flower!  There you go!  That explains the “flower shop” lady. Yes?

Alright,  that’s it!  The coat is definitely going back in the closet.

Just as soon as it dries off.


Have a fine weekend.


Thanks for lookin’.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is this a hobby?

I’ve been thinking about this,  and I realise I don’t actually have any.  I wouldn’t consider reading or following the stock market a “hobby”,  with the latter being more of an obsession.   Sometimes an annoyance.

I also realise that, although I’m a pretty good “beginner” when it comes to woodworking,  if a person is making things that are ultimately going to serve a purpose or some sort of function,  then is it still a hobby?  This is not something I do here,  obviously.  I’m talking about when we’re “back home”.


Case in point:


Dana's Bed

One of those times when “making the bed”  has a double meaning.

It’s presently being used as a place to pitch things,  and I do have a better picture somewhere,  but I could spend gobs of time hunting through folder after folder looking for a picture where it’s made up all nice and pretty.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

I suppose this silly blog is a bit of a hobby.  There’s certainly no financial gain involved,  and it serves no useful purpose.  Kind of like having a train set.

This morning when I had this idea to go back to the store and grab yet a couple more bottles of wine on sale,  I thought that maybe that might qualify as a hobby.  Being cheap,  a hobby?   Hm.



Just as a demonstration of how little I have going on “upstairs”,  when I got to the store yesterday and stood there in front of the vast array of wine,  I really and truly wasn’t 100% positive that this was one of the ones I like.  It looked kind of familiar….

There’s very few that I DON’T like,  so most bets are fairly safe ones, and that’s probably a good thing.

As long as we stick to wine or beer. 


I KNOW I’m not keen on this stuff,  but that’s a whole other story.



I was tempted to buy a bottle just for the cool little sombreros,  but I was able to control myself.   “Tempted”?  Well,  no.


You’ll note the bottle of wine on the far right has a bit of a frosty look to it,  and that’s because it is the one that was already in the fridge,  so YES,  yes Bob,  it IS the one you like.   *rolling my eyes here*    So I went back this morning and bought two more. 

Of course,  I would buy a wheel barrow full,  but then I’d need a wheel barrow.  A couple bottles of wine,  along with a few other provisions starts to get a tad heavy after a mile or so.   Is it a mile?  I don’t know.  It’s a ways,  and I need all the blood flowing to all extremities I find.  I’m referring to my fingers by the way.  Don’t go there.


This wine is offered as a “BOGO”,  which in some retail circles is readily known as a “Buy one get one”  promotion.  And that’s OK if the price isn’t too onerous for the “one”.   In this case it was €4,99.   The “El Cheapo” in me likes to think that’s a bit on the high side,  but compared to Canadian wine prices,  that’s a bargoon.


So,  is hunting down deals a hobby?   Not sure.  Does wine “serve a useful purpose”?   Good Lordy,  a person could write an entire thesis on that one.

If “No”,  then  “Yes”.    Just like the train set. 

Sorry,  that’s too much thinking.  Let’s move along.

Oh,  before I go too far though,  I just minutes ago came back from a different store,   and as it sometimes happens,  I was presented with a “Gutschein”  (coupon)  that was attached to my receipt.  And what’s on offer?  25% off all Austrian wine.   Hmmm.



While I can certainly appreciate Big Brother keeping an eye on things,  this did seem like an interesting coincidence.   I’ll check to see if there’s anything worthwhile tomorrow.  Grüner Veltliner comes to mind.  A feller needs a hobby!




This is what we’re not doing today.



I’m not sure if you’re familiar with any of these objects, but the toilet sitting out in the hallway should be a clue.  

Travelling Companion and I noticed a particular van sitting outside the building this morning,  and she thought it had something to do with pest control. 



I briefly explained that a “Rohr” is a pipe,  and that these guys are plumbers.  Kind of like Roto-Rooter.

What we didn’t realise at that precise moment,  was that they were doing a service call in an apartment one floor below us.   My impression is that it wasn’t a complete stoppage,  but more along the lines of something that wasn’t quite “flowing down hill”  the way it should have?  When I got on the elevator a young lad from the company got on with a device that looked suspiciously like a video camera attached to some sort of snake.  He muttered something about doing some “rooting”  when I asked. 


Definitely NOT something I’d recommend as a hobby.


It’s just another Thursday,  with the usual “stuff” you see in the city. 

A couple guys up on a rooftop.  You know.  The usual.



Other than seeing the Dude on the right using a reciprocating saw at one point,  I have no clue what they were up to.  Could have been breaking in,  although I’m not sure how they would have climbed up there in the first place.


That’s it.  I’m empty.   Я пуст.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for coming by.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I could be…a Hockey Player!

Well,  sort of.

OK,  stop the presses for a minute.  Blogger seems to be having some issues.  First I got a '500' error,  then that sort of subsided,  and now I notice that the three images that I uploaded ain't there.   I'll remove this part later on if things improve.   This is beyond my control.  

Remember how last week I proposed that I could operate a crane?   Of course,  only from the ground,  since I’m scared of heights.   Just a minor thing.

Well,  I would like to present to you exhibit “A”.

I’m only showing my golf clubs here,  since getting them cleaned up seems to tie in nicely with some of the activities of our local hockey team in Toronto.  
Just a snippet:

“Stick a fork in them.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are now officially, mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, done in after yet another dismal outing in a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
This particular defeat caps an epic collapse by a Leafs team that had been sitting in sixth in the Eastern Conference as late as Feb. 6 – a date since which they’ve broken a franchise record with a 10-game losing streak at home and gone 5-16-3 overall.”

There you go.

And seriously?  A team from Carolina?  Geez.

That link above will take you to the Google search page,  where there’s a host of links if you’re at all interested.  I know I’m not.
So see?   With the exception of all that skating around business earlier in the season,  I’m just as qualified as most of those guys to be a hockey player.   My golf clubs are standing at the ready. 

Truth be told (and when have I ever not?) I’d probably have to get in some serious practice on the links,  since most of those guys are quite likely considerably better golfers than me.   I mean,  if you’re already out on the golf course in the beginning of April,  you’re bound to improve.  I’m just saying.

Needless to say,  I’m not really a hockey fan.  You didn’t actually think I was, did you?   Oh I’ve been to the odd game, and to be brutally honest,  I’d just as soon watch from home on TV.  At least then I could see what’s on another channel.   Plus,  what you are blissfully unaware of when you’re tuning out a two minute run of commercials between periods is,  there’s a host of CR*P going on rink side to annoy the fans.  Well,  they’re trying to “entertain” the fans.  I’m afraid I was the only ‘fan’ that was annoyed.  I’m talking about the loud music,  flashing lights,  scantily clad bimbos launching T-shirts towards the eagerly waiting idiots.  This is the kind of gimmicky nonsense that the organisers come up with to “entertain”  everyone between puck drops.  
So fine,  maybe they’re not scantily clad “bimbos”.  I’m sure they’re all aspiring University students just trying to make a buck.  What.  Ever.

Seriously,  I’d just as soon sit there and quietly chat with my companions about what a “great play”  we just saw,  if there was such a thing, rather than watch some sort of amateurish version of “Cirque du Soleil”  being mashed out in front of me.
Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind noise and mayhem.   But it shouldn’t be at a hockey game.  If I want noise and mayhem,  I’ll go to the drags.  I have ear plugs.  I know how to use them.  I shouldn’t need them at a hockey game.

Now you have to understand that I did not drag my hockey gear golf clubs from the basement storage just because the Leafs are out.  Like we didn’t see it coming.  No no,  after the “Schimmel”   incident of a few weeks ago (um,  “Schimmel”  is German for “mould”  btw)  I thought it might be a fine idea to check over the clubs and bags to see if there were any “issues”.  With the exception of some run of the mill dirt,  they were fine.  There was just a tiny little bit of mould on one of the straps, but nothing any where near the mess I had discovered on the bike bags.  *phew*
I’ve since schlepped them back downstairs,  where they’ll remain until that fateful day some time in the future when they get to come out to play.
Or get packed up and moved to another country. 
Sad to say,  but our clubs didn’t really get to go out to play very much at all here in Europe. 
When the idea of moving over here was first floated,  we thought it would be just a wonderful idea to “go golfing”.  We’re both beginners,  that’s for sure,  but in North American culture,  that’s never anything to put a stop to going out to whack a ball into the rough a few hundred times.   If you’re suitably attired and don’t act like complete idiots,  most public courses will happily take your money,  point you in the direction of the first tee and set you lose.

On this side of the pond however,  it’s a wee bit different.  We discovered early on,  that in the Netherlands you need a license to play golf.  No,  I’m not making this up.  Either that,  or you have to show that you’re a member of a bona fide club with a recognised handicap.   Nope,  still not kidding.
To get around that,  you had to first take lessons and then pass a “test” in order to have the privilege of shelling out even more money to play on one of their less than stellar courses.   Oh ya!  Just sign me right up!   (not)   So let me just spell that out for you.  Lessons will run three or four hundred Euros,  then there was another chunk of change for the “test”,   and IF you pass all those steps,  you’re a “golfer”.    Isn’t that special?
Let me see if I can remember what I said aloud when I first found this out?   Right,  I think it was something like, “I don’t f**king think so!”   So with the exception of taking a couple clubs over to the driving range to work on my swing,  we never got on a course even once.   Meh,  no biggie.
Almost forgot,  there was that minor event there when I actually taught Travelling Companion how to swing a club and HIT the ball.  That was ‘something’ I must admit. 
We have therefore lived without golf in our lives up to this point,  and that’s OK.  We’ll get a turn at that sort of thing in due time.  To quote Liza Doolittle from My Fair Lady,  “Just you wait.”

A brief mention about the photo below, that was taken in the Dominican Republic back in 2007.   It would seem the caddy who took this shot was better at golf shots than the other kind?   There was never anyone next to me,  not did anyone mysteriously “beam” out,  even though it looks that way.   And if you haven’t figured it out,  I’m the one with the Panama hat and the crazy coloured shirt.


1playa grande

This was at a course called Playa Grande,  which was pretty damned spectacular.

Here’s one of the “hazards”:
12playa grande 
Um ya,  that would be the ocean.

I only managed to lose maybe three or four balls (I know!)  and came in around a 120.  I was happy with that.  Mind you,  there were a couple times there when I decided to play it safe and NOT shoot out over the abyss. 
It was one of those occasions when I realised,  “I think I want to do more of this”.
But of course,  I don’t play for the Leafs,  so I’ll have to wait a while.

Thanks for coming by.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A mailbox surprise.



First of all,  why is it that we go “ga-ga” over sunsets?   What is it about the human condition that has us stand there like a bunch of Neanderthals and go, “Whoa,  that’s beautiful”.   You can add your own inflection.

Of course,  my guess is that real Neanderthals would only have been able to grunt,  but I find spelling those kinds of things to be a bit of a challenge.

I’ll readily admit that I’m a sucker for sunsets,  and when Travelling Companion called last night as she was “getting out of jail”,  she mentioned the “Red sky at night”  quip,  and I looked outside and realised I was missing a good one.   They’re a little more drawn out here than in the sub tropics,  and we rarely get that “Looking through Rose coloured glasses”  effect that we used to see in Puerto Rico.  If you’ve never experienced a sunset in the sub tropics,  there are a few moments during the event when it seems as if everything around you is being seen through a reddish filter.  It’s not quite the same as when you’re “blacking out” or anything,  but it can be a little hard to believe your eyes.  And then it goes away.


So what about the mailbox?  

Well,  most days I shove my hand in there and come up with nothing.  Maybe a couple flyers,  or an Amex bill.   But today there was a bit of a lump for my hand to bump into.   Nothing scary or anything mind you,  and since the box is fairly well sealed from the outside,  it’s never occurred to me (well,  up until now) that there might be any kind of a critter in there.  I’ll try not to think about that the next time.  I don’t need to be getting creeped out every time I put my hand in there.   Kind of spoils the fun.

She here’s what we got!



Oh goodie!

My guess is that,  in a conversation with one of her sisters,  T.C. must have mentioned that she was running out of this particular type of cream,  so this sister took it upon herself to send off a tin.   What a sweetheart!



*Hm,  note to MY sister.  A little surprise in the mail would be just awesome!*


Far be it from me to speculate as to whether or not this particular salve is available here in the “Body Shop” out on Mariahilferstraße,  but my guess is that T.C. has done the necessary leg work when it comes to this issue,  and would no doubt have picked some up if it were available.  That’s all I know.  Further research is beyond the scope of my meagre abilities.


So we were going to take a brief look at this Viennese thing called a “Schanigarten”,  weren’t we?  You thought I’d forget,  didn’t you?

It’s a funny thing,  and is perhaps indicative of the ego-centric nature of a city like Vienna, but this is a term that originated here,  and is now being used throughout the rest of Austria.   There are other words that are typical Viennese,  but we won’t digress too much.   Makes it tough for a foreigner though,  since a person thinks they are learning German in school and university,  when in actual fact what they need to also study is “Viennese”.   Known as “Wienerisch”  in German…or well,  Austrian?  

Had a similar experience in Puerto Rico where I thought it would suffice to learn Spanish.  Nope. Turns out that didn’t quite suffice,  since the Puerto Ricans also use some words left over from the now extinct indigents whom the Spaniards enslaved and subsequently wiped out. 


The Wikipedia article I referred to above is rather poor I find.  There was an explanation a couple weeks ago in the local paper,  which basically gave the origins of the concept of the Schanigarten.     It would seem that,  back in 1750 (six years before Mozart was born for those with score cards)  somebody presumably with the name “Gianni”  either an owner or a waiter at a cafe in the First District,  though it might be a neat idea to set up a few tables and chairs outside the establishment for the enjoyment of the patrons.   The idea caught on.  Could be total nonsense.  Who knows?   But it’s possible to go from “Gianni”  to “Schani”,  right?  

Needless to say,  they are now everywhere.  

Whether it’s a cafe,  restaurant,  a bar or even a butcher shop or a bakery,  if there’s a place outside for tables, benches,  chairs, or whatever,  it’ll be out there.   Down in front of our building,  the owners take up three or four parking spaces and set up skids on which they put out tables with umbrellas.   Of course,  the city collects a fee for this,  but it’s worth while for the establishments,  otherwise they wouldn’t do it.  

I’ve been collecting examples:


This was back at the beginning of March.  This is going to be an outside area for a bakery.  Even though this street is restricted to traffic,  they put up a partition between the customers and any vehicles that might go by.



I’ve been watching the following one take shape over the last few weeks:




Of course,  I missed getting a picture of it,  but in addition to the overhead canopy arrangement,  the owners of this one have even installed lighting.   You’ll have to take my word for it.


Here it was on Saturday,  open for business:


This was yesterday morning:



So the thing is,  it’s all about  “street exposure”,  since people are too lazy to wander off the beaten path any more than a few paces. 

If you’ll notice on the photo above,  this “Schanigarten” belongs to the “Levante”  cafe.

So where the heck is the “Levante”?   Well,  it’s way in the back there, in a little alleyway,  40 metres away from Mariahilferstraße.    That will never do.


Here’s a slightly better view.


If you go back to the first photo that was taken from across the street, you’ll see there’s a bit of an alcove there?

Only “regulars”  are going to go back there.  Not the tourists.  So,  presumably that’s a good thing for the regulars,  since they don’t have to be concerned with the tourists,  but the regulars are only going to spend so much,  after all.   Those extra tourist Euros can make all the difference.


Of course,  here’s the rub.   You can’t go fifty feet without having to dodge somebody’s outdoor cafe.  All part of the “charm”  I suppose,   but sometimes I just want to get where I’m going?   On the narrower streets it can be down right annoying but again,  part of the charm.


Not exactly PhD material here,  but if your attention span is anything like mine,  this will do.   I may throw in the odd photo as the summer wears on.   We’ll see.


Thanks for taking a gander.



Monday, March 26, 2012

My sense of “time”.

Or most likely the lack thereof. 

Within minutes of hitting the “publish” button on Saturday,  it was pointed out to me that last year we in fact were in Rome over Easter,  and that it was two years ago that T.C. made Potica. 

Fine,  so time seems to have slipped away from me.  I still haven’t really come to grasp with the idea that we’ve been in Europe almost four years.  Who’d a thunk?

There was a question about just how it tastes,  and whether this had become an expensive endeavour? The answers to which are,  “Hard to describe”  and “No, not really”.

Lemme “splain”.   Potica is kind of like a courser version of “six egg” cake,  with the addition of finely ground walnuts in the centre.  That’s as close as I can get.


This piece is “no longer with us”,  since I had it for breakfast.  Other than the above rather loose description,  the only other thing to add is,  it’s good.  My powers of description when it comes to food are somewhat diminished,  and with the exception of a dish having some unsavoury texture issues,  most things I eat either fall under the heading of “Good”  or “That was a once in a lifetime”. 

I think I only ever spat something out once,  and that was a mouthful of horseradish a couple years ago.  I had never before had the sensation of a tiny and angry army racing up through my sinuses.  So I paid a visit to my white porcelain friend and made an introduction.  It was a good decision,  since T.C.  thought she’d brave it out,  only to later regret her choice.  She made some visits of her own to the porcelain friend a little later on.  We won’t go there.


The expense?   Well,  T.C. quite possibly baked the previous (two year ago) version on a baking pan,  but she wanted a couple souvenirs from Vienna.   Hence the little shopping trip on Saturday.  It mostly had to do with an upgrade,  as opposed to a necessity.  We can be a little frivolous once in a while.  We’re pretty damned frugal when it comes right down to it. 


I’m really coming up a little dry today.  It’s possibly since it’s yet another Monday,  and nothing is really all that hell fire and brimstone exciting to write about.  

Tomorrow I’ll do a little thing about Shanigartens here in Vienna,  how’s that?    I even have pictures. 


There,  that wasn’t too painful,  was it?


Thanks for stopping by.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Looking for the Easter Bunny.


Rain out of the west

We actually didn’t start out looking for him,  since the original intent was to find a pan of some sort in which to cook the Potica.  I think I explained Potica.

We can’t for the life of us figure out what the heck Travelling Companion used last year.  I’m sure it was a “spring-form” pan of some sort,  and I do remember eating Potica some time around Easter.   I also recall we went to Rome over Easter,  so I’m not sure when we had time to eat Potica.  No word of a lie,  we did go to Rome at Easter time and were in fact in St. Peter’s square. 

Just the same,  T.C. figured she would like something from here,  like some sort of a souvenir kind of thing,  so we went off for a little jaunt down Mariahiferstraße.   There are a few stores with some pretty neat kitchen stuff.  And some pretty neat prices.   Didn’t go to the same one where I bought the grinder.  It’s a little too far for T.C. to walk,  what with her painful knees and all.

In the meanwhile,  when you find yourself on a street like Mariahiferstraße,  you’re bound to see some well,  *sights*?

Like this,  fer instance:


There was quite the crowd gathered outside of Thalia by the time we came by.  You can look as close as you’d like,  and you won’t figure out how that person is perched up there.  Obviously there’s a platform that is covered up by the towels or whatever on the ground.  A rather harmless way to beg for money I suppose.   Better than these stupid chicks who try to shove flowers in people’s faces and then ask for money.   I didn’t do a good job of getting her picture this morning,  since I wasn’t quite willing to keep up:

Be warned,  I’ve made this one into the ‘large’ format,  so you’d better have the bandwidth….


These “young ladies”  have a Eastern European look to them,  possibly Bulgarian,  and their “shtick”  it to give you a rose and then put the bite on your for some money.   We seem to have the same two who regularly parade up and down the main drag.  They must recognise me or something, since they’ve not approached me in a long, long time.   I tend to just give them the “look”.   Kind of like the way a major league pitcher will look back a runner who might be taking a lead off first base?

Anyway,  we got a couple different pans.  Nice ones.  That’s all I’ll say.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a pic.


But we did find the Easter Bunny! 

Ain’t he cute?


That is him,  right?

Not sure where he would have kept them,  but I’m pretty sure those are the same ears he was wearing last year.  And probably the year before.   I do have pictures.  Somewhere on a drive.  But then again, maybe he makes new ones every year?  One of life’s mysteries.  We’ll never know.  Trust me.


Enjoy your weekend.


Thanks for coming by.



Friday, March 23, 2012

Just a Friday.

Not so sure that there will be any wild and wonderful words whizzing their way from my fingertips today.  

Can’t even think of a good word that starts with “w” to replace “fingertips”.    “Wee wigglers”?

That really doesn’t work. Never mind.

There’s a “Gone fishing with my Red Wiggler” joke in there too,  but we’d better not.


A couple things caught my eye today.  Remember the “artist” from last week?   And how I wasn’t willing to go down in the afternoon to see how she made out?

Well,  she was back this morning.



There she is,  plugging away.

Maybe she does have a “day job”  and only gets Fridays off?  My guess is that at that rate,  she won’t be finished today either.  Besides,  does she get the people who were sitting on the bench to come back the following week?  How does that work exactly?   I suppose I never would have made it as an “artiste”. 


In the area of seeing things,  we do have the odd sight that bears some sort of “witness”.  




The pants kids,  the pants. 

Are they pyjamas?  Or just really awful looking?  She seems to be talking on the phone,  so presumably she’s wearing them as a result of a conscious choice,  not like she had to pick them out of a pile at the Naschmarkt.  Or better yet, if you’re from the Maritimes,  maybe Frenchy's is a good example?  I didn’t realise Frenchy’s was such a big chain until I went to their web page.  How cow!  

Anyway,  let’s not get off course here.

Speaking of clothing that makes you say, “Oh dear”,  I became somewhat entranced by this flyer from the local C & A.   We have one right around the corner from our front door here on Mariahilferstraße.   It’s kind of like,  Target or Kmart.  Only maybe not as high class.  They seem to only sell clothes,  and have a lot of stuff for kids.  Not necessarily anything that Travelling Companion would buy for any kids whom she knows,  let’s just say?  She went in once.  Never went back.  Which is really too bad,  since it’s right around the corner.


In a very broad,  far reaching sense,  it’s kind of like when you stand and look at the Mona Lisa long enough.  You start to think,  “What’s with the face?”  I don’t know if that was da Vinci’s intent,  but that was the result.  Actually,  it has more to do with the smile,  but I need the proper analogy.  Cut me some slack.

Just like this one below.   The face on this young person looks to me as if she’s saying,  “Why would you make me wear this God awful thing?  I know it’s only €13,  but seriously?”



Click on it.

poor thing

I don’t know.  Looks painful to me.  Poor little wretch.  Hopefully her modelling career will survive.


That’s about all that has popped into my pea brain for today.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.




Thanks for passing through.

Try not to pass out.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hey! I could be a crane operator!

Well,  sort of.


Not that one.


There’s a dude in there.  Caught a glimpse of him just before the crane turned.  So he had to climb up.


Not that one either.  I could clearly see the dude in that one,  which meant that he too had to climb up there.  Besides,  I don’t speak Hungarian.   Well,  technically I suppose it’s ‘Magyar’.  Or something.




But wait!  This one!

There’s nobody in the cab,  which means the crane operator dude is working the thing from Terra Firma.


See?  Ain’t nobody in there.

Click it,  you know you want to.

I think I’d like that job.

There’s no freakin’ way I’d be climbing that ladder to get up there.  I get an extreme case of butt clench-itis just looking out our kitchen window,  and those cabs are way higher.   Besides,  earlier today I’m sure I saw the whole thing swaying ever so slightly.   Gah!  I’m clenching just thinking about it!

Actually,  I couldn’t even find the guy.  He’s probably chilling in a patio chair somewhere up on one of the rooftops.   Hey, sign me up!  

It’s a curious thing,  but I can go up in a small aircraft and do spins, stalls or any other gut wrenching stuff,  (well, except for some slight motion sickness issues) and it doesn’t bother me in the least.  However,  if I’m up just a few feet on a shaky ladder,  I’m not happy.    You can keep all your safety harnesses and the rest of it.  I’d sooner be in the plane,  or on the ground.  More ‘in control’ in the plane?  Beats me.


This whole thing about looking up at the cranes was only brought on by an issue I had with my left knee this morning.   Every so often that sucker just doesn’t want to leave me in peace,  so I thought I’d try to “walk it off”.  Couldn’t get any worse.  Sure enough,  after about five kilometres the pain did subside.   It’s still a bit puffy though for some reason.   I’m not sure why moving the stupid thing would make it feel better.   Probably why I never really excelled in Gym class.  It’s that whole relationship between exercise and feeling better. It’s never really made sense to me.

There was one particular moment of Zen however:

“What?  We’ll start off by running a mile?”    Um ya,  that was the beginning and end of my “Going out for soccer”.    What was I thinking?  Those guys run all the time. 

Anyway,  let’s not go there,  shall we?





Got a little update on the washing machine back home.  Not terribly good news.  As it so happened my daughter woke me up out of a sound sleep to tell me about the service call she had that day from “Fast Eddie”.  This was Tuesday night,  and T.C. and I had hauled ourselves out of bed a wee bit early,  so I was ‘out’.

Come to find out,  it wasn’t really “Fast” himself,  but one of his guys who,  according to our daughter looked older than me.  How the hell is that possible?

So the thing is pooched.  It’s a front loader,  and not only are the bearings shot,  but there was something about a ‘yoke’ being kaput as well.    Swell.

There won’t be any “the yoke’s on me” jokes either.

When she mentioned the age of the machine,  he seemed to think that it had “lived it’s life”.  Really?   Well,  apparently front loaders don’t necessarily last that long.   There’s a lot of strain on the bearings.   Helluva way to find that out. 

He did say that they could keep using it,  but just to keep the loads smaller.  It’ll still work,  but not too damned well.

The funny thing is,  before Daughter Number One moved out last spring when she and her fellow bought their house,  there had been some ‘grousing’ about the fact that she never put in a full load.   Well,  it turns out that that is just the thing that will keep the stupid machine running that much longer.   So in spite of what the salespeople say,  you can’t really cram the things full like they tell you to, even though it’s “more efficient”.   Maybe it’s “more efficient”  for them,  since then they can sell you a new machine?? 

Kind of like that, “Oh they’ve improved RV fridges a lot,  you don’t have to worry about having them completely level”,  crap that the salesman was trying to tell me when we bought our motorhome?   Ya right buddy.   What,  so you can sell me a new fridge in a few years?  Jackass.


So the kids can muddle along with the machine for a time,  and if there’s a top loader that’s too good of a “scratch and dent” deal to pass up,  she can buy it.   There are enough strapping lads around to sort out the logistics.


Oh oh!  I almost forgot! 

Here’s the best part!   Daughter Number Two was quoted a certain amount for the service call.  I don’t remember exactly what it was,  but it was something like $57.50.   Seems like an odd amount I know,  but it did seem reasonable,  whatever it was.

Then when she goes to cut him the cheque,  it’s less.   Like,  quite a few bucks less.  She asks why?   Well….wait for it….they gave me a “Senior’s discount”!   *snort*!

Alrighty then!

I guess when she was talking to the receptionist/order taker lady  (would it be “Mrs Fast Eddie”?),  and mentioned that T.C. and I were in Vienna,  I suppose she thought we were on vacation?   Who knows?  Who cares? 

That’s my very first ever Senior’s discount,  and I hardly think of myself as a Senior. But I’ll take it, dammit!  Maybe I need to write it on a calendar?  Wait, better yet,  I need a new “tag” for these posts.  “Senior’s discounts”.   

Yes,  I’m doing it.


Keep on truckin’.


Thanks for coming by.




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tough Crowd.

I’ll have you know,  I went to several different stores,  even the ones that are all hopped up on perfume smells,  and I could NOT find any Old Lady soap.   OK fine fine,  I know it’s “Oil of Olay”.  

What. Ever.

I think I might have bought Dove the last time,  and Travelling Companion just thought it was….that other stuff?  Plus, I can’t for the life of me figure out what could possibly be wrong with Palmolive?   Well,  except perhaps that their stock is a bit pricey.  I mean,  ninety-five bucks with a P/E ratio of something like 19?  Gimme a break! Both those numbers are a wee bit too high for my liking.   Of course,  if the market continues to stink for the rest of the week the way it did yesterday,  Colgate may very well find itself in my comfort zone.  Meanwhile I’ll only be buying their toothpaste.  Well,  and maybe some soap.

I’m so easily distracted.  Sorry.

So I might get some Dove as a back up.  

We shall not speak of this again!




Speaking of crowds, (see how I did that?) I see there are now 40 followers. 

Well shucks. 

I don’t really acknowledge followers.  Is that bad?  I suppose it’s nice when someone says something if I’ve decided to follow their blog,  but this whole internet thing is so elusive.  Here today.  Gone tomorrow.  Well,  maybe not the internet, but more like the people on it.  To me it’s like entering into some sort of an “agreement”.  Following seems like,  oh I don’t know,  a commitment?  Or maybe it’s the expectation that,  with more followers,  I actually have to come up with something to say?  *Yikes*.  No pressure.  What happens when you get up over 400?   You’ll note that I didn’t put in the exact number there,  since it could change. 

Hey,  some blogs have big followings.   I’m just over here in the corner.  Keeping an eye on the dance floor.  Hello.

So here’s the reason that I bring this up.   Stepping into our “way back machine”,   one of my very first followers happened to be related.  Not sure if it was either one of our daughters,  or her husband.  That’s not a stretch,  who else would read this?  It’s sort of like getting the “pity vote”.  Then there came a long a few others,  along with some guy from Brazil.   Ya, Brazil?  Like that made a whole lot of sense.  My impression was that he/she/it just went around the net and followed every single blog that came along?  

One of the cool little things with ‘followers’ is,  you can be done with them if you choose.   So after a time,  I punted him/her/it off.   Back then,  I think that one follower represented a significant percentage of the entire lot.  I mean,  if you only have eight,  and you get rid of one?  That’s harsh, but worth the sacrifice I thought.

Anyhoo,  it turns out that follower number 40 is ALSO related to me.   Cue The Twilight Zone music.   

Of course,  this little snippet has absolutely nothing to do with that TV show,  I’m just stalling.

See,  the brother that lives in the shack out in ‘Dog Plop’,  Nova Scotia has a couple offspring living out on the left coast.  I haven’t seen either of them since they were little ankle biters,  but they would be my niece and nephew.   Oh,  and note how I’m sticking with the “excrement”  theme there?   Pretty good, huh?

So “Alexandra Otis”,  or follower number 40,  turns out to be my niece.   Well now,  to quote Al from the Bayfield Bunch,  “Welcome aboard”.    I think secretly he always wanted to be a boat captain.  Just a hunch.


And as yet another crazy coincidence,  *as I chuckle maniacally*    there just so happened to be an article this very morning on MSN having to do with “Hoarders”.   I’m not sure how long that link will be up,  but I’ll only copy the title.   You can guess the rest.

Hoarding disorder making a mess of people's lives


Oh ya.

Remember how I said that,  when we went there (to Dog Plop)  for a visit back in the summer of 2005,  that it was a good thing it was a nice day,  so we could sit outside?

*I think it was 2005,  but seriously,  I could be totally wrong on that.*

I was tempted to put this in the other day,  and now I’m going to go for it.    Here we are…. outside.


in Meteghan:  George, Angus, Alice, John and Bob.

It was a challenge coming up with a back drop without any junk,  but we did it.  Those are my siblings.  Possibly the last time we’ll all be together,  so we took a picture.

Hover your mouse over the picture….

I’m pretty good at describing most anything,  but I’m having some difficulty here trying to describe what the inside of the shack was like.   If you want to have an idea,  there’s now a TV show called “Hoarders”.   Probably best that you don’t watch right around meal time?   Just a suggestion.

Oh,  and when it comes to “reality TV”,  which I tend to look on as some sort of an abomination,  I want to tell you,  they are NOT making that sh*t up.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes, (in Dog Plop) so what you see on TV wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  It’s true.  People do this.

The word is lately,  and I get this from the other brother who lives up in the Annapolis Valley,  (he’s the one wearing the tie,  don’t ask) that they now have several “out buildings”  which have subsequently been filled up with junk.   I hear they even have an RV,  I think it’s a fifth wheel,  that my brother’s ‘charming lady friend’  has proceeded to fill with crap.   I (thankfully) haven’t witnessed this latest bit myself,  but I’m fairly certain that I can rely on the updates that I’ve been able to glean from up in the Valley. 

What is it again about “friends and relations”?   Right,  I get to choose my friends.

Also thankfully,  there are no animals involved.  That’s when it gets really well,  nasty.   Let’s leave it at that.





Back to my world.

How’s your German these days?    Have you picked up anything?



Never mind.  I don’t expect you to.  Mine hasn’t improved, why should yours?

Got this letter in the mail the other day.  Since we receive absolutely nothing in the mail,  I was a little excited at first.  That was short lived,  to be at first replaced with trepidation,  followed by annoyance.    Even though they put my name on there,  it’s just a form letter from the local Councillor,  Thomas Blimlinger.   Something to do with planting outside.  No,  not “Planking”,  “Planting”.

They want you to.  Just to spruce up the city. They’re even having a “contest”.  Wow,  that’s exciting!   Can you sense my excitement?


I think our neighbours have done enough for all of us.   At first I though that maybe they had singled me out,  you know,  putting my name on the letter and everything?  Arial surveillance maybe?  We’re really not into planting too darned much here.  We’d only have to figure out what to do with any plant material when the time comes to leave.  Moving plants across borders is pretty much a no-no as it is,  even if anything were to survive sitting in a shipping container during the time it takes to cross the Atlantic.   See the problem?  

So nope.  Not much going on upstairs.   I don’t mean in my head,  although I certainly could understand how you would jump to that conclusion.  No,  I’m talking about our “Terasse”  upstairs.  “Patio” maybe?   Whatever you call it,  it’s a big open space.



And I’m OK with that.


You’d think I had taken that when we first moved in?  No sirree,  took that just the other day.  No need to worry about bumping into stuff in the dark.  Just don’t have that “Hoarder” in me I guess.  There are chairs that go with that table.  Four of them to be precise,  but they are hanging in a storage room just around the corner to the left there.



So fine.  MAYBE I’m a little anal.  I like for things to be “in their place”.  And really,  if I were all that anal,  the umbrella would be somehow hanging up too,  wouldn’t it?

Wouldn’t it?  *slow down your breathing there Bob*   I might go up later and try to figure something out.  No,  I’m just kidding.  I’d have to go out and buy some special hooks.  I’m not going to do that.


Well,  I see by my word count thingy that we’re getting well into snooze territory here.  I’d better stop while I still have ANY followers. 


Keep those sticks…..oh never mind.  Just keep them.


Thanks for lookin’.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Old Lady Soap.

This is the way these conversations go sometimes:

“I’ve run out of soap”

“Uh-huh,  what kind?”

“You know,  that ‘Olay’”

“What? Old Lady?”

“Noooo!   Not Old Lady,  Oil of Olay!”

“Right,  I’ll be looking for some Old Lady soap.”



“You’d better not!”


So of course,  in keeping with the way my brain works,  I set off this morning in search of some Old Lady soap,  which meant that a second conversation played out in my head.  Don’t worry.  *Only in my head*.

To the store clerk:   “Um excuse me,  my wife needs some Old Lady soap.  What do you recommend?”

Thankfully it doesn’t translate well into German,  or I just might have been tempted, only to see the look on some young store clerk’s face. These language barriers aren’t always a bad thing.

Truth be told,  old guys think they’re being cute when they do this sort of thing,  when really and truly they’re just being a huge jackass.  Just saying.



Drat.  I don’t see any Old Lady soap in with that lot.   I’ll see if I can get the next best thing.   No chance of getting that el cheapo stuff over there on the bottom right.  That won’t pass muster.

Most any time it says “Clever”,  that doesn’t mean you’re being clever by buying it.   Especially if it’s going to be used on your wife’s skin.  Danger Will Robinson!


So here we go.


I think the “Delicate Care”  helped influence my decision.

I won’t find out for a day or two if I chose wisely.

That’s not because Travelling Companion only uses soap every other day or some such thing.  (Oh Gawd if I said that,  I’d be in such trouble!)

It has all to do with the fact that she’s away for a couple days.   Had to head out early this morning and motor up to her second office in Schrems.    Can’t remember what that was about.   All I know is,  I had to get up early.   Started waking up at 3:00.   It’s that stupid built in alarm clock. 


Not much happening out there at six in the morning.   Just the street sweepers,  garbage trucks,  and people like me staggering around half awake.


What you don’t see in the sky there is clouds.  It’s turning into yet another gorgeous day.  If spring temperatures are in the teens,  I’m happy.

I’ll try to keep my nap short.


Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Another weekend.

We’re wearing them down.  

Thankfully the weather was just about perfect,  although it decided to cloud over this morning.  I’ll survive.

Not much to say about yesterday.  Started off very nicely:



If you don’t understand the significance of that image,  then that’s too bad.  Something to do with blueberry pancakes.   Not sick of them yet!  No sir!

It’s impossible to have anything but a good day after blueberry pancakes.


I mentioned on Friday, yes?  that we tried out the grinder.  Well,  we ended up grinding up just about an entire bag of walnuts yesterday, because T.C. just had to use the thing I think.  She didn’t want to do any baking.  Just grinding. 

Hey,  I never question these things.

And yes,  I suppose I did have to try out my new thickness planer just to see how it worked once upon a time,  even though I didn’t really NEED to plane anything.  So I do get it.

So now there are exactly three and one half cups of ground walnuts in our fridge.   Didn’t hurt a bit.

It turns out that this machine/devise/whatever is actually BETTER than the one she used to borrow back home.  Well I’ll be!    Once in a while,  the boy hits one out of the park.  Without even knowing it.

I don’t think T.C. would say that just to be nice.  She’s not like that. “Niceties”  usually only apply when it comes to things of a complimentary nature.

Speaking of which,  (sort of)  it seems that I have to make sure that applying make-up is on the “better check that” list each morning before Travelling Companion heads off to work.  One morning last week, and I don’t at the moment remember which one, this activity or rather the lack thereof escaped my notice,  which then means that this non-event is something that I needed to hear about at the end of the day.  Really?

The, “Oh,  I hadn’t noticed you weren’t wearing make-up dear”, response wasn’t going to cut it.   C’mon!  What do I know?   She did seem to be ready to head out the door in fairly short order that morning.  I just thought maybe I was dawdling is all.   Come to find out,  she missed a step.   And it was my fault.

I’m glad I don’t have a list of the things that are supposedly my “job”.  I think I’d get depressed.




So now,  is this a “gaggle”  of tourists?



Just wondering.

Every so often I see one or two,  but now and again I see a whole flock.   Oh wait,  maybe it is a “flock”?   Like,  “C’mon kids,  let’s get the flock out of here”?


Like that?




This one is for the boys back home:



For those of us with a Merkur member card,  the price is a very reasonable €9,99.   Oh joy.  I didn’t buy any.   We have enough home made Slovenian hooch to do just nicely thanks.  At a much better price too.


And now for another silly picture that has nothing to do with anything:


I mentioned that I had called the one brother for his birthday?  Well,  there’s yet another brother who will be having a birthday in a few days.   He has no internet, although he does have a phone.  I suppose I could call him,  but he’s as deaf as a post,  and I have no huge to desire to chat with his ‘charming lady friend’.

*I just shuddered*

So I figured I’d zip off a letter and mail it to him with some birthday greetings.   I managed to write a couple pages,  even though it’s hard to stay away from the “I’m here and you’re not”  kind of thing?  I usually come up with something to blather on about though.  The weather.  Avalanches.  Whatever.   See,  this is the same brother who,  back in the day when T.C. was going to school, (where she got an Honours Degree in Economics, by the way,  just thought I’d mention that)  thought that the whole “University thing”  was a big ole waste of time.   Or something like that.  I only remember snippets.  This was something he felt fit to tell directly to T.C.,  and I only really heard about it a little later, after he had left.  Probably just as well.

So I don’t actually come out and ask him how life is working out for him living in that hole in the ground,  but I’m tempted.     Well,  it’s not literally a “hole”,  but I do remember thinking,  “Wow,  what a shit hole!”  that one time when we went down there for a visit.   Thankfully it was a nice day and we could sit outside.  Let’s leave it at that.   *I just shuddered again*

Even though I make sure to write to the guy on the order of about twice a year, (hey,  I can go into my documents folder and check if it’s really all that important to you)  I ultimately never ever hear a peep from him.   Oh well.   Word is that he does get these letters.  So that’s that.

I had no qualms about putting the address on there,  since you can go and do all the searches you might like,  and you’ll be hard pressed to come up with any meaningful location as to where he lives,  and frankly I wouldn’t even care.

Let’s just say,  it’s not that bad in the summer,  but I’ve lived within a mile of the shore of the Bay of Fundy,  and I don’t recommend it in the winter time.   No sirree.


Well,  I see my ‘silly’ gauge is running on empty.   That’s it for today.


Keep those upper lips stiff.


Thanks for coming on by.




Saturday, March 17, 2012

Should I have shopping bag envy?

Not a whole heck of a lot going on today, which is pretty much the way I like my Saturdays.   The only slight exception would be doing a little shopping in the morning,  which is where I saw this rather neat shopping bag.



OK,  there’s a “bag” joke in there somewhere,  but whether the lady was an “old bag” or not,  I’m not going there.  I was being sneaky,  since I only wanted a pic of the bag.   I suppose I could have struck up a conversation with the lady and asked her where she got it,  but I try not to get agitated with those who think standing in line at the checkout somehow can be a replacement for a proper kaffeeklatsch,  so it therefore follows that I have no intention of agitating the people behind me by engaging in mindless chit chat about where someone bought a particular shopping bag.   I just thought it was neat.  

Considering that was today’s “big excitement”,  I guess we’re more or less scraping the bottom of the barrel here.



We did take a couple minutes and to give the outside table a going over.   I had just cleaned this thing a week ago and it was already kind of black.  It’s either soot,  or brake dust,  we’re not sure.


I didn’t take a picture of the dirty paper towel.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.


Unless the weather takes some sort of drastic change for the worse,  I’d say that spring is pretty much on its way.  It was in the high teens today (just think nearly room temperature,  and learn some Celsius!)  


I decided to do a “do over” when it came to the birthday call to my brother in Nova Scotia,  since last week’s call didn’t go all that well.  Having to go to a funeral service on your birthday kind of sucks.   He was in better spirits yesterday,  although he couldn’t chat for too long,  since there was someone there quoting on some work to the house.  It’s a rather old farm house that they have,  with lathe and plaster walls and ceilings,  and my understanding is that they’ve pretty much gutted the dining room and kitchen. 

Now I have to say this,  I’ve torn out lathe and plaster,  and I know just what kind of a job it is.   Best to wear your respirator.   I don’t even think a dust mask will quite do it.   If you can manage to protect your lungs,  that’s really only half the battle,  since the dust just goes everywhere.  True of drywall dust as well,  but with any old building,  there’s years of additional cr*p that gets unearthed when you start the tear-out.  It’s just a horrid,  horrid job.


Anyhoo,  that’s it for today’s missive.   Tomorrow will quite likely be more of the same,  so there may very well be a big gaping hole where some words might other wise have appeared.   Time to pour another glass of Pinot Grigio.


Happy St. Paddy’s Day for all you green beer drinking types.


Thanks for lookin’.