Thursday, January 31, 2013

Very quickly now…

We’ve been saying our good-byes throughout the day today,  and now we just have to get ourselves to the airport tomorrow morning.   “Ich leide dem Abschied”,  has been my mantra today.  Which,  loosely translated is something like,  “It’s sad to say good-bye”.   This was met with knowing nods.

I’ll now offer a brief photo essay.


DSC_0008 DSC_0001 DSC_0002 DSC_0003 DSC_0004 DSC_0005 DSC_0006 

And….that has been our life over the last couple days. 

Such fun.


Then it comes down to this.



And actually,  there’s a bit of a story there.   It seems that the bikes were placed on the “air shipment” list.   Couldn’t find them listed anywhere.  Everything has to be listed.  No exceptions.  So the boss and I had to go back upstairs and put them on the normal list.  That was it for anything remotely close to a mishap.  Of course,  we’ll see how things look when we open the packages in several weeks.

Everything gets sucked up into the vortex of the shipment.  Even my old running shoes that I was going to turf out.  Damned if I didn’t leave them sitting in the living room yesterday at the end of the day.  They were starting to hurt my feet,  which is exactly why I was willing to part company with them.  They got packed. Looks like I’ll be seeing them one last time. 


Hey,  maybe I’ll wear them in the garden.  I’m such a cheap bastard.


At the end of it all, there are meters to be read,  along with a fairly thorough inspection.  Everything was in good shape.

We’re kind of anal that way.



And then,  it all goes back to this…



We’ve given back our keys,  car and cards for the parking garage.   We’re done.

Whatever could be given away, went. 

See you all on the flip side.


Thanks for stopping in.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Slip knot or square not?

Both,  actually.

This is where all that Boy Scout knot tying comes in handy.  Well actually,  I was a Boy Scout for all of about a month,  and we moved and I didn’t join up again.  Might possibly have to do with sailing.  Maybe just “stuff” you ought to know?


I didn’t want to do this one until the penultimate day.  First of all,  it gives off enough light,  and there was that whole “putting it off”  thing.

It was easier to put up,  than take down.

Trust me.

Don’t try this at home.



I’ll let the pictures tell….


From this…






To this….



….and that’s how you ship a crystal chandelier.


There’s still gobs more on the list.


Pitter patter.


Oh and,  this…



….is what goes up in its place.

Swanky, huh?




Thanks for looking.



Monday, January 28, 2013

By land or by sea.

No wait,  it’s more like,  “by sea or by air”.   That’s the actual quandary.   We worked away at it over the weekend.  Of course,  the biggest consideration is that Travelling Companion doesn’t want all her clothes to be totally wrinkled by the time they end up at their destination,  so she’s hesitant to lay them out for the “air shipment”.




We *think* we have a pretty good handle on it,  even though it doesn’t really look that way.   Like, not at all?

Both of us really and truly prefer “neat and tidy”,  as opposed to what seems to look more and more like something left behind in the wake of a tornado.

I did manage to accomplish one major thing this morning,  and that was to take back the near empty propane tank and get my refund.  


Looks like this,  only we had one of the big ones. (10kg.)

BP gas canister

This type of canister is really very cool,  and I certainly hope we go this way someday in North America.  They’re light weight (especially when empty),  you can see the level of the liquid through the sides,  and they’re virtually indestructible.  Plus,  I looked high and low, and there was no hint of an “expiry date”. 

Don’t even get me started on that expiry date bullsh*t. 

I was gone all afternoon Saturday,  trying to find a gas station where I could unload the thing.   You’d think it would be pretty simple.  I mean,  using our North American way of thinking, propane bottles or canisters,  or whatever you call them, can be had most anywhere.  Home Despot.  Crappy Tire.  Kmart?  You know.  And then there are some gas stations.

Well,  it seems that here in Wienerland,  BP *has the final word on portable propane tanks.  It wasn’t that way in the Netherlands.  I bought a tank at something along the lines of a hardware/tool store, although it was the metal kind,  which are no longer available.   

*that’s a neat interactive site that shows all the features of these canisters.  Go there.  Really.

Anyhoodle,  I discovered at the my first stop on Saturday,  that they were “full”.   What?  What does that mean,  “full”?   Well,  it turns out that they’re only allowed to have a maximum of twenty canisters on hand at any given time.  Same could be said for the second stop.  And of course,  none of these places are right around the corner from one another.  I mean,  they’re service stations all from the same company.  They’re going to be spread out.   By about the fourth attempt,  I had had enough and just came home. 

Oh ya,  almost forgot,  by then Mariahilferstrasse was closed off for some stupid reason,  so I ended up having to go up Zieglergasse the wrong way in order to get into the parking garage. (Don’t tell!)   Didn’t help that my first stop after getting in the door was the toilet either.  Hence the sense of urgency.


So when I took Travelling Companion to work this morning,  we still had our beloved propane tank standing on the floor behind the passenger seat,  so she was a bit squished.  Even though I was taking it back for my deposit,  I didn’t think it was such a good idea to lie it down in the trunk.   If I had managed to unload the thing on Saturday,  she could have taken the car as she usually does.  Stupid propane tank.  Stupid rules.

You’re probably wondering why I was so dead set on getting back my deposit?   Well,  other than the fact that there was no way I could even think of leaving it behind here,  perhaps in the upstairs storage,  the deposit on the thing was €54.   Yes kids,  fifty-four Euros.   You can do your own conversion.  

I think BP wants their canisters back,  yes??

Lo and behold,  after dropping T.C. off at the Company that Cannot be Named,  I went right around the corner to the nearest BP station,  and they had LOTS of room.  I don’t even think the dude bothered to count.   Why the hell didn’t I just go there Saturday?   Come to find out (after I told the guy he had just made my day) the clerk or whatever you call him,  had lived for a time in Ireland,  commutes every day in from Hungary (really?)  and he and I had a very nice little chat.  Most of it in English it turns out.   Oh,  and his opinion was that the Irish are a lot more friendly than the Austrians.  I’ll reserve judgement.

Not much else has dropped into my simple noggin,  so I guess that’s it for today.


Back to whatever the hell it was I was doing.  Half the time,  I don’t really know.


Keep those sticks where I can see them.


Thanks for stopping by.




Friday, January 25, 2013

One week Baby!

Next week at this time we’ll be sitting in one of Air Austria’s finest.  Actually,  we’re going to try and shoot for an upgrade either tonight or on the weekend some time.  I mean, I can do it, really, back there in “steerage”.  When it comes right down to it though, I’d just as soon not.

I try to put myself into that semi-comatose state that works for me when it comes to sitting for eight hours in economy.  You know,  keep the liquids to a minimum so as to avoid having to use the facilities.  Maybe keep the earplugs and painkillers handy.  That kind of thing.  Oh, and of course,  best to keep pen, passport and flight number handy,  since we’ll be flying in to Canada after all.   Have to fill out that customs form.



Other than that kids,   I got nothing. 

Today is just more of the same.   Wandering around the apartment,  trying to sort out sh*t.   Well,  you know,  not *actual* excrement or anything.   I just mean all the flotsam.  Somehow I have this crazy urge to have it all organised.  Hopeless, I know.


I can’t quite imagine just how things would go without email and the internet.  So far today I’ve been back and forth a couple times with Relocation Lady about terminating our services and such,  and then I’ve booked us into a hotel down on Webgasse.   Even though we can walk there,  I may very well shove our suitcases in the car and drop them off.   We’ll still have the parking garage until the end of the month (at least)  and it’ll still be within walking distance.  

I’m just hopeful that the guy who says he’s interested in purchasing the washing machine doesn’t flake out.  He’s admitted that he’s has his “fingers in a few pies”,  (I think that’s what he said)  and is moving on the first of the month,  so that might explain why he failed to call last weekend to say he’d be stopping by for a look at the time.   We’ve since been in contact.  The jury is out.

This is one of the reasons why I’d just as soon give away any and all appliances that require 220 volt power,  as dealing with prospective buyers is mostly just a huge pain in the posterior.   As it is,  I’m working up a pretty good heap o cr*p that will get taken away either Wednesday some time or Thursday morning.   Travelling Companion is working on that one.  Seems some of the boys from the Company that Cannot be Named are willing to come by and cart off some stuff for charity.   Something like that.  Whatever.   It’s got to go!


No pictures of sunsets today I’m afraid.  Just life as I know it.



Have a fine weekend if I don’t check in,  and thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

The joys of moving in the wintertime.


But first,  this is from the “Well now, would you look at that!”  file.

On the first leg of our journey,  we were surprise to find a few little gems in with all the “stuff”  that had been shipped over from Canada.   The movers who were sent to pack us up,  consisted of a team of three,  two of which were brothers.  My suspicion is that, one of the brother was perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer?

See, we didn’t move the entire household (oh Gawd!)  so it was important to set aside all the items that were going to be shipped so that the rest would be left behind.   Well, the brother was upstairs, and I had been checking on him, but apparently not often enough?  I suppose he was setting things out in the upper landing which would then be inventoried and taken down to the truck.  The thing is though,  there were a few items already on the landing,  and it never occurred to me that I should somehow hide them from him.  I mean,really.

So we ended up with a few extras.  No biggie.  It meant that we had some Christmas ornaments for the tree last year when we stayed here in Vienna,  so that was cool.  There are three brand new door knobs that I had up there to match all the ones I had replaced up to that point.  (they’ll get shipped back home now,  finally)  and there was also a small box of books.   I’m pretty sure I had set the books out in the hallway because I was going to turf them out,  or at least take them to some place like the “Reuse Centre”.   

Well,  they’re here too.   And they’re finally going.  We had a little issue with some water back in the spring of 2010,  and they didn’t fare so well?  

However,  since I have a problem with parting company with books in general (have to break that little habit) I did take some time to flip through a couple just to,  you know,  remember the good times?   Something like that.

These were all from courses I took way back in University.  Um ya,  I’ve been hanging onto some books for a while?  So sad.


There were the usual suspects from FlaubertGoetheThomas Mann.  There were a few others too,  but who cares really?

Oh,  and I did discover a copy of “The Nose”,  by Gogol.

Can you imagine I used to be able to read this stuff?  Hurts my head just to think about it.



Click on the picture,  you’ll see.

Anyhoodle,  when I was flipping through the copy of Madame Bovary,  a post card popped out,  and I just thought it was kinda cool.  It was sent from England, and it’s a picture of Lloyd’s Avenue,  in Ipswich.  The cost of postage was 8p.



Once upon a time I had a couple “pen pals”  (remember that idea?)  with whom I would correspond from time to time.   One was in Gmünd here in Austria,  and the other person was from Hamburg.  (I think…memory’s dim.)

Well,  here’s what she wrote.

Dear Bob!

Hope you have received my first card from England. This is now the second and last ‘cause in a week’s time I’ll be back in Germany (HORROR!)

We aren’t very lucky with the weather this summer. It’s raining all day long.

Write soon,

Love Gabi.

(Note the slightly stilted grammar?)

Um yes,  “Gabi” was a young lady.  Just makes you wonder where this person might have ended up.  The card was post marked Ipswich, 2:30 p.m., August 28, 1977.

I never met this person, and if she had ever sent a picture, that image is long gone from my memory banks. 

I wonder if I ever did “write soon”?   We’ll never know.


Now back to the main attraction.  Not much to say really.  It was just warm enough yesterday that I was able to get the snow off the patio table and get it inside.

Of course, that means there’s going to be water.  Not the best thing on hardwood floors, so I shoved the frame in the kitchen before taking it apart.


This is the other reason for trying to clear off the balcony.  There used to be a table there.


And then of course there’s a continuation of the usual.


I’m sure you’re thrilled.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for poppin’ ‘round.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making his list. Checking it twice.

No,  not that guy.  I’m referring to the Moving Dude.

Not sure if he checked it twice though.

We did our little walk through.  He was quite surprised when I told him I’d be disassembling the tables and beds,  but when I explained how there would be some storage issues when our shipment finally makes it back home,  he began to understand.  I didn’t do that whole,  “cause I don’t trust you idiots”  thing.  I didn’t think that would be prudent.  They think of themselves as the very best

Hate to burst your bubble there, Moving Dude.

So at some point over the next day or so I should be hearing back from one of his associates,  but the bottom line is that there will be movers here next Wednesday.  Moving Dude seemed to think they’d need two days.  I have no opinion.   We’ve always been out by mid afternoon in all of our moving experiences,  but again,  he says they want to pack everything up properly.   Hey,  whatever it takes I suppose.

He explained to me how normally there’s a certain amount of back and forth with quotes and such nonsense,  but at this stage of the game,  the very smart people over there in Texas are pretty much backed into a corner. 

I did go over to the notice board we have in the kitchen and point out the print out showing the tickets we’ve booked for the Friday morning at 10:20. 

So,  come hell or high water,  we’re leaving here at the end of next week.




Yesterday’s title was a little bit ahead of its time,  since I really should have been referring to this activity….


The tube on the left was left over from our move from the Netherlands.  It’s basically drywall mud in a tube.   Even though I had a few things on the walls,  when we left the Real Estate lady said,  “It’s as if you were never here!”  

Ya see,  that’s the idea.

Unfortunately,  when I went to use it yesterday,  the contents had completely dried out,  so I had to take a little hike down the street to a quasi-hardware store out on Mariahilferstrasse.   The contents of the replacement tube isn’t as tidy whitey as the previous stuff,  but it’ll do.   So I’ll still be plugging away. 

Good times.

Meanwhile,  I decided to upend the couch,  and discovered that,  if you PUSH DOWN on the bottom support,  it’s entirely possible for things (along with a few crumbs I might add)  to get hidden in the bottom.


Well now.


Not exactly an archaeological discovery or anything,  but I think this just might belong to Daughter Number Two.   This is the same girl who will take off her socks and leave them behind in the couch,  so it comes as no surprise.

It seems that one never knows what one might be carting overseas, yes?   

You want to bet your bippy that we checked everything pretty damned thoroughly when we moved back from Puerto Rico.  Plus, before we moved in to the house that we rented,  I negotiated with the homeowner to have the place completely furnished. He built that outlay into the monthly rental amount,  which the Company that Cannot be Named was happy to pay.   Considering how little they paid to move our meagre belongings,  they actually may have come out ahead on that deal, or at least pretty close.

So we had no furniture to move home from Puerto Rico, basically.  Besides, in terms of “bug tolerance”,  Puerto Rico was NOT the best place for Travelling Companion.   Within about a month of moving there,  we had already hired a “bug man”.  He came every month.  Used the good stuff.   So, we had no bugs in the house.  Well, except for a couple dead cucarachas that made it as far as the patio before expiring. 

We had to be a little careful  when it came to mosquitoes though.  Look up Dengue fever.  Scroll down to “transmission”.  You’d be careful too.


Well,  pitter patter,  better get at ‘er.

Keep those sticks on the ice.



Thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just plugging away.

There are some things that I’d prefer not to leave to the movers.  That usually means items that need to be disassembled.   And it’s mostly because Muggins here is the one who will need to reassemble these things whenever the shipment arrives at its destination.

I don’t remember exactly when it was,  but at one point maybe a few moves ago, a bright eyed, bushy tailed but perhaps not so bright packer-upper said to me, “Oh,  we’ll just put all the hardware in one box.”   *pfft* Right.

I very diplomatically shot down that idea in a hurry with,  “Soooo,  I won’t be able to put anything back together again until I find that one little box,  and then what happens if the box gets lost??”   “Then I’m really screwed.”

Which is why I prefer to, 1) Disassemble certain thing like beds,  say.   And, 2) Put the bloody hardware with the item to be reassembled.  It shouldn’t be a hard concept. 


Too late for any visitors at this point,  I’m afraid.  Sorry all.



I have to tell you a little story about this bed. 

See,  when Travelling Companion was first on her way to being punted up to the level of the “Top Team”,  as they call it in the Company that Cannot be Named,  we rented a cute little apartment in Horseheads,  New York.    It’s a real place,  trust me.  Look it up.

Anyhoodle,  rather than cart too many things down from Canada (there was no provisions for a “move” as it were)  we just bought a few things,  and eventually I did take along a few items in the back of my pick-up truck as the need arose. 

And you know,  the Border Dudes never looked under that tonneau cover once.  I could have had a couple illegals in there each trip.  I was going to Horseheads every two weeks.  Being a “Coyote” has never been something I’ve ever considered as a career choice however.  Plus there’s all that jail time.

But let’s not get too distracted.

So when the bed was delivered,  I put it together.

Then we were asked to move to Puerto Rico.  (We had to find that one on a map.  No clue.)  

So I took it apart.   When it arrived in Puerto Rico,  I put it together.   See where this is going?

Moved it back to Canada.  Took it apart.   Arrived in Canada.  Put it back together. 

Moved it to the Netherlands.  Took it apart…..


Oh hell,  you get it. 

I’m hopeful that this’ll be the last time I have to disassemble and then reassemble it for a few years.  Mind you,  I am getting pretty good at it.

Oh,  and I forgot to mention that I took it apart and reassembled it here in Vienna at least a couple times,  since we couldn’t decide where it would end up. 

It’ll go back into what was once a spare bedroom and stay there for a few years.   Unless someone makes me an offer…


Then of course,  there’s this chair.

It’s been around too.   It’s one of two remaining chairs from a set that was in the house when we bought it.   For those of you who skipped a couple classes,  we purchased the house from the estate of my late father-in-law.   There was stuff,  believe me.  Some of it more useful than others.   The house was built in 1958,  so some of the items were “vintage”.   That’s the best word I can come up with.

I tried to turn it around to get the “good side”,  but it turns out there really isn’t one.



At some point in time,  maybe as far back as 30 years ago,  the seat was “recovered” with the best vinyl money could buy.   We do have some lovely furnishings though, don’t we?

When the movers were packing us up for our departure from Canada,  I almost left it behind.  The horror! That would have been like….breaking with tradition.   I mean,  it had been to Horseheads and then Cabo Rojo,  PR.   Why not Europe? 

It’ll find its place back in Travelling Companion’s sewing room.   There will be some space reclamation from Daughter Number Two methinks,  who is presently using it as her crap er, …craft room.  


You do of course realise that,  as we get closer to lift off,  I’ll have less and less time for this sort of silliness.  I might have to do some…. actual work.  Gah!


OK,  time to wander the aisles of the grocery store in hopes of coming up with something for dinner. 


Watch that sharp edge on the packing tape dispenser.

Thanks for stopping by.





Monday, January 21, 2013

We’ve started the countdown.

I make it eleven sleeps. 

There was some rumblings at the end of last week from an actual moving company (Oh my Gawd!)  and a preliminary walk through is happening Wednesday morning.   This is standard proceedure for this type of deal  where an emissary is sent on ahead to get the lay of the land,  so to speak.  I’m not sure if at that point we get our big box for the air shipment or whether they bring that the following week with the monkey boys who will be doing the packing. 

I realise that’s a bit of a harsh term for these “professionals”, but trust me,  we’ve done this often enough to know that, if you want to “keep it”,  then you need to keep it at home.  There has always been something or other that has gotten damaged with moving,  and it’s usually best to just let it go and not get all bent out of shape over a table that gets scraped or a cabinet that somehow has something fall against it.  It’s just the way it is with moving. 

I like to keep a close eye on them as they pack,  but that’s still neigh on impossible as being in several rooms at once is a challenge.

I’m calling the air shipment box the “big box” with tongue firmly in cheek,  as I understand that it’s roughly a cubic meter.  Hey, whatever.



The trip down to Slovenia and back was uneventful.  There was a bit of snow up in the hills,  but nothing serious.  The roads were wet,  which only meant that I went through a certain amount of washer fluid and had to continuously play around with the wipers.  I think I would have preferred if it had just been raining the whole time,  since then at least I could leave the bloody things on and be done with it.  

Such a first world problem.



Ljubljana had just about as much snow as Vienna,  but we were able to get around with our shoes on.  We took our boots, but I find driving with boots on to be less than ideal.  Big feet.  Close pedals. 



They don’t seem to get the extreme temperatures in Slovenia that we do in parts of Canada,  so although they may get their share of snow,  it never gets to be bitterly cold.  It was something like -2°C maybe?  These folks didn’t mind sitting outside.

Like a complete idiot I had left my toque and gloves at the cousin’s house,  so it didn’t take long for me to start looking for a place to get inside.  Balding head = me get cold fast.


Not much else to say except for a couple visits with some folks we may not see again for a long time.   We’ve managed to get to Slovenia about three times a year (so we were told by the cousin in Sava) for each of the three years that we’ve lived in Austria,  plus that long journey that we took when we lived in the Netherlands, so I think we’ve made a decent effort.  It is an attractive country,  with a good mix of everything from seashore to mountains,  all within a very compact area.  Will we go back?  Not sure. Best to never say never.


At some point when we were somewhere this side of Graz on the way back, I noticed that 60,000 kilometres was about to come up on the little BMW.  Those are all ours.  We’ll be dropping it off at the Company that Cannot be Named at the end of next week,  and I should imagine that the leasing company will want it back in the not too distant future.  We had briefly considered buying it and shipping it home,  but that’s just too scary.  Unless a vehicle is manufactured for the North American market,  there can be certain “cost overruns” involved satisfying all the bureaucratic bullsh*t involved.  Not worth it.


I was fortunate enough to get in one last piece of cream cake,  which I have to admit was every bit as good as what can be had right at the source.  This stuff is whipped up in Bled and then hustled off to various locations within a two or three hours drive,  so the freshness can vary. 


To be honest,  I was quite sceptical,  but I was assured that it was the real deal,  and it was.  Oh Kremšnita,  how I’ll miss you!

I’ve put a whack of pictures on the book of face,  if you feel like passing some time.  T.C. tried her hand at taking a few shots from the car window.  I’ve thrown out a few,  but she was able to capture some of the scenery.  It was mostly white.

Click away!


Hopefully a little more of our snow melts before next week,  since I have to get the two patio tables in, wipe them down and disassemble them.   Such fun moving in winter time.  Hadn’t really planned on that little bit of excitement,  but we’ll see how it goes.


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



Thursday, January 17, 2013

They do grow up fast, don’t they?

Note, after checking road conditions and the weather prognosis we’ve decided to head out this morning for Slovenia.  Have a fine weekend,  and I’ll catch you on the flip side.







After this one,  I promise to stay away from the “news” for a while.  Honest.


Runaway 13-year-old boy drives across Europe



Ooh look,  there we are…

A 13-year-old runaway boy who took his father's car and drove nearly 1,000km (620 miles) across Europe is being re-united with his family.

The boy fled after a reported row with his parents in Italy.

Having driven from Italy into Austria, he proceeded to Germany where he was stopped by police after his family had alerted Interpol.

The boy, who had been adopted two years ago, was reportedly heading to his original home country, Poland.

The teenager lives in the northern Italian town of Montebelluna.

After an argument with his adoptive mother - allegedly over a mobile phone payment - the boy, a keen go-cart racer, left on Thursday afternoon.

And he seems to have been completely confident at the wheel of his father's high-powered Mercedes car.

Mercedes-Benz cars.


The boy was said to be comfortable behind the wheel

His parents say he was probably heading for Poland - he was said to be missing his sister who lives there and to have been in touch with her via the internet, according to Italian media.

The car was eventually tracked and stopped near Moisburg, about 150km from the Polish border.

Police said it was "incredible" that the boy-driver had managed to cross two international borders and filled up with petrol twice without anyone en route raising the alarm.

The teenagers parents are understood to have gone to Germany to bring him home.


Now,  you’re probably thinking at this point,  “Well Bob,  who cares, really?”  I mean, nobody got gunned down or anything.

The thing is,  this little story reminds me of something my ole Pappy told me once upon a time, when I was all of about 16.  I might have been 17, but I doubt I was much older.

By this point in our lives we had relocated from Nova Scotia to Ontario,  and it was the misguided notion of my father to go “back home” each summer for a visit.  I think he just wanted to show off.  I mean, both of my parents were gainfully employed, which wasn’t exactly a common thing for a fair chunk of Nova Scotia’s population at the time.   Not so sure it’s changed that much.

Of course,  Mom wanted ME to go along,  to “help with the driving”,  with the hidden agenda of trying to keep the two of them from getting wrapped around a tree somewhere in rural New Brunswick.  

See, the Old Man had a nasty habit of nodding off at the wheel. 

Ya,  scary shit that.

Of course, at the slightest indication that he was dozing off, with the subsequent offer of being relieved of his driving duties,  he would invariably counter with,  “Nope, I’m fine.”   and then proceed at some point to scare the living daylights out of us.

Vacations with Dad.  Oh ya.  Good times.  It’s a wonder we survived.


But here’s my little take on the “growing up” part.  At one point in time,  and I think he and I were driving through Middleton,  out of the blue he said, “You know,  it’s the damndest thing,  but when I was your age,  I knew how to get from our place out here,  and here you could drive back to Ontario if you had to.”   And he was right.  I knew the way.  It wouldn’t have been a problem.  Putting gas in the car might have been a consideration.  Well,  that and getting through Montréal but hey,  years later I would drive a class A motor home through Montréal,  so I’m sure I could have figured out how to get around Montréal in a ‘73 Caddy.

See,  by “our place”,  he was talking about the old farm out in Margaretville.  Well,  it’s now referred to as Margaretsville (and my spell check doesn’t even like that) but we always stood fast on leaving out that ‘s’.  It didn’t belong to Margaret,  it was just named after her.  Seems trying to use proper grammar goes way back in my family.  Some sort of genetic predisposition. 

OK, maybe that only applies to those of us with higher education.  Never mind.

No idea who Margaret was, and besides, my older siblings referred to the place as “Maggotville” most of the time anyway. 

Ya ‘cause,  they just loved growing up there.

Poor bastards.

Remember that “forced labour” on the farm thing?  Right.


It was roughly ten miles (no, not kilometres,  this was back when we too,  had miles.)  from the farm out to Middleton,  and my father had to know the way at the age of 16,  since his parents had bought a Model A Ford.  Neither one of them wanted to drive the thing of course,  which meant that my Dad was pressed into service.  He probably could have driven around most anywhere without a license,  since there weren’t that many cars on the road,  but they thought it best that he should get one.  The place to do that was at the Stedmans in Middleton.   There was no such thing as a “Licence Bureau”.  It was usually something handled over the counter at your local drug store,  or in this case, a department store.

This would have been about 1924.


So this is how it went down.  My Dad and Grandpa (whom I never met, by the way) saunter into the Stedmans, and mosey over to the counter.

“We’re here to get my son his driver’s licence”.

The clerk looks at my Dad and says,  “Can you drive?”

“Yup. Drove here from Margaretville”.

“Well, that’s good enough, here you go.  That’ll be two dollars.”

And that’s how you got your license in 1924.   Damn good thing those cars had sturdy bumpers,  and couldn’t do much more than about 25.


Me?  Even though I had been driving for at least a little while,  I still thought it prudent to take “Young Drivers of Canada” when I turned 16 to help with my insurance rates,  and nowadays?   Hell,  you damned near have to promise your first born!

There’s what?  G1.   G2.   Gee, this is getting expensive!






That’s it.  That was the “story”.   Time is fleeting.  Have to jump in the shower.  Later.


Thanks for stopping in.



If the snow keeps up.

We won’t be getting out of Dodge tomorrow,  that’s for sure.

I think I mentioned a plan to tool down to Slovenia for the weekend, but we’re supposed to get 40 cm today (that’s around 16 inches for you metrically challenged)  and my impression is that it’s going to continue….



I know it’s just a boring picture out our balcony door,  but that was at eight this morning.  Right after I got home from driving Travelling Companion to work.   We’re at opposite ends of the stress spectrum when it comes to driving in the snow.  She’d be nearly in tears by the time she got there if she drove,  whereas I’m more concerned with whether of not I might need to go to the bathroom.  The driving conditions are nowhere near the top of my list of “concerns”.


The traffic wasn’t all that bad, but then again we did head out at the crack of crazy time.  Something to do with someone waking up way too early?  It’s a gift.

We did encounter one slight mishap on the way,  where a hapless fellow was going a little too fast on one of the underpasses and pranged into the concrete barrier.   He started to skid out and managed to avoid hitting the right side,  but then went perpendicular and sort of wrinkled the front end of his Saab.  I think it was a Saab,  it was kind of covered in snow.

My guess is he didn’t have all the bells and whistles that some of the cars are equipped with,  since Travelling Companion mentioned how she nearly wiped out in that very spot one morning but,  “the car made some funny noises and I stopped skidding.”   The “funny noises”  were actually a combination of ABS and Traction Control.   Something that can easily be poo-pooed as unnecessary, until that one time when it saves yer ass.

Even after he extricated himself from his little dilemma,  which was a darned good thing too, as he was blocking the only way onto the highway,  he still managed to drive fast enough to disappear into the traffic ahead.

I just said to T.C. “Well,  you can’t fix stupid”.

We saw him parked at the side of the road not too far from the office of The Company that Cannot be Named,  and I was quite willing to take a photo for you on my return trip, except he was still in his car on the phone.  Didn’t think it was prudent. He was quite likely calling the cops to file a report.  Or maybe he was talking to his Mom.  



This is just outside the Museums Quartier,  not that you’d be able to tell.  I know that second word looks like French,  but it’s a German word that they borrowed, and so it’s pronounced ‘kwarteer’.  Rhymes with ‘steer’. My phonetic spelling is nonexistent, so that’s the best I can do.

You won’t see those streets looking like that in the brochures.


I actually did see someone on a bike this morning.  I suppose there’s some sort of thought process that sees riding in that stuff as a challenge.  It’s not a thought process I’m familiar with.


If it snowed that hard in the Netherlands,  where the bike was my primarily means of transportation,  I would either be driving somebody to work,  and would therefore have a fine set of German engineered wheels to tool around in if need be,  or I’d simply stay home.


The “story” that I was going to relate will have to wait for another day.   It was just something that I started spewing out a couple days ago,  and all I need do is check it over and hit “publish”.  It’s one of the reasons I kind of like this Live Writer program,  since I’m not really then dependant on having a working internet connection to blurt things out from the tips of my fingers.  Plus, all the spewing is saved right here on this computer.  Of course, it never hurts to hit the “save local draft” thingy once in a while,  as well as do regular back-ups of the whole shootin’ match.  Don’t ask.


I highly recommend it, and by that I mean the program,  but I may very well be preaching to the converted.  Oh,  and do the back up thing too.  So far so good on that front.


This is now at 10:00 o’clock. 


There’s a ball of bird seed under there somewhere.


OK, enough of that. 


Oh!   We do have a moving company.   It’s going to be Interdean,  and they’re the same bunch that moved us over the Atlantic back in 08.  I suppose as moving companies go,  they’re fine. 

Late yesterday afternoon Travelling Companion got a call from someone in Canada (quel suprise!)  going over the expectations.  It seems that the very smart people in Texas somehow thought we wanted out of here in the second last week of the month.  What?  Not sure where they got that idea.  I don’t want to talk about them any more. Just hurts my head. 

This time around we’re going to be doing an “Air Shipment” in addition to the regular move,  which has been an option for each of the moves over the years,  but one that we didn’t feel we had the need for.   We get something like 62 square feet.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

So this morning I’m trying to decipher what the heck they mean by “sixty-two square feet”,  and as near as I can figure,  they’re trying to say it’s a cubic metre.  That makes sense,  but maybe someone forgot (again) that we’re Canadian,  and we can in fact do that metric thing. 

OK, that sounds fine.  Enough room for some extra clothes, and maybe a sewing machine.  Not sure about the guitar.  It might have to go with the regular dog and pony show.


I realise I’m at that age where I still use feet and inches when it comes to building materials and such, but it never hurts to be bilingual on the measurement end of things.  If you’ve never tried it,  you should.  Measuring by TEN instead of 12 is so simple even I can do it.   It’s just something you learn and get used to.  Not unlike driving on the left in the UK. 

OK, maybe that’s a bad example. 


Once upon a time I had to install an entire kitchen that had been purchased at Ikea and of course it was all metric.  It took a couple goes with the tape measure to figure out what was what,  but it wasn’t too long before I knew exactly what a “70mm cabinet”  looked like,  for example. 

I think that’s the part about measuring in metric that seems to scare the bejeepers out of those unfamiliar.  “Twenty centimetres?  What’s that?”   Well, try this.  Hold your (reasonably normal sized) hand up and spread it out so your thumb and pinkie are as far apart as possible.  That’s close enough.   Can you measure out eight inches without looking at a ruler?  Maybe.  But maybe not.   So if the snow is going to pile up to 40 cm?   Well guess what?  You just figured it out.  See,  it’s not that hard.

End of lesson.




Have a fine day. The jury is out on ours.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for stopping by.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not so fast there, Bucko!

Still hanging out with those phones,  as it were.  Somehow in our conversation I failed to point blank ask the Relocation Lady (that’s going to be her moniker from now on, methinks) if she handled everything right up until and after “moving day”.  Well, it’s probably just as well I didn’t, as I would not have been overly keen on the answer. 

See,  she can look after handing over the keys, reading the meters, closing accounts and all that stuff,  but she doesn’t get to pick the movers.  That’s not her deal.  That bit of activity has to come from the very smart people in Texas.  Oh joy.


When Travelling Companion finally got home last night she mentioned this little snippet,  and then proceeded to call someone in Texas to ask just what the plan was.  I don’t remember her exact words, since I think too much blood had rushed to my head at that point.  Deafening,  really.

The simpleton on the other end was going to “call someone right away”,  at which point T.C. mentioned that it was after 8:00 p.m. in Austria (and the rest of Europe for that matter,  not that they’d know where that is)  and whom exactly were they going to call??


I’m firmly of the opinion that the people who are running that dog and pony show only have one set of functioning teeth to go around,  and half their time is spent looking for it.   Not that I’d want to imply that they’re a bunch of toothless… idiots or anything.  Who me?

There was a word that starts with ‘f’ that I wanted to insert between ‘toothless’ and ‘idiots’,  but I’ll let you figure that out.

I’m calm.  Really. 


I mentioned that Travelling Companion was a wee bit late last night,  and that was due to her last ever trip up to the Czech Republic.  She and her replacement decided to make the trip together.  Some sort of act of solidarity or something.  Certainly not a requirement.  It wasn’t really T.C.’s deal at all,  but I guess she felt bad about sending the replacement off into the boonies on her own.   

My preference would have been for the two of them to just stay over night in Shrems or Gmünd, instead of driving home in the dark. 

None of us (I’m including myself here, especially) do so well driving at night any more.  Visual acuity going down the tubes and such.  To top off the lateness, the Crackberry that she had been using for the longest time finally decided to take a powder a few weeks back (wouldn’t hold a charge) and the new one has been having some fits connecting up to the Bluetooth in the car.  So phone communications were somewhat pitiful.  I therefore had no clue where the heck they were. The original plan was to leave at 3:00 p.m., and when I hadn’t heard anything until well into the evening,  I did start to vacillate between being concerned and annoyed. 

I gave up worrying about what could possibly happen on the road way back at some point in 1999 or 2000.  It’s just not even worth troubling my little pea brain.  Just the same, when there’s no word?  It’s very easy for the mind to wander.  It would have helped if my call at around 7:30 p.m. didn’t go straight to voice mail.  

Turns out the “leaving at three” plan was a bust.  Presumably there was some evaporated time involved,  since she came to the door with a bag of goodies,  along with some flowers.



Of course,  having an actual flower vase hanging around is a bit of a challenge in these parts,  and we only have one glass one,  which was part of a previous “parting gift” when we left the Netherlands.  It was in use,  so we had to rummage around for the collapsible green plastic one that Daughter Number Two discovered and gave to us for Christmas a few years back.   It’s actually kind of a neat thing really,  since it stores flat,  and then to use it you fill it with warm water which softens the plastic enough to make it into a vase.  Who thinks up this stuff?

You’ll notice though,  that the flowers are in the corner?  The vase is actually too small and the whole arrangement is top heavy, but it’ll have to do.



It’s ever so slightly above the freezing point today in Wienerland,  although it just didn’t feel like it.  Probably had to do with wind I would imagine.

The view out on the street this morning. 

Oooh,  look at all those shoppers!


You’ll notice the red and white sticks leaning up against the buildings?   Those are to warn passers-by of the possibility of snow falling off the buildings.  I guess it’s their version of “due diligence”. 


I think tomorrow is going to be story time around here.  I might have something in the wings.  

Y’all come back!    And keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for looking.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A bit of progress.

I was going to say,  “Got the call”, but actually,  it was me who did the calling. 
I hadn’t checked emails until some time in the early afternoon (which is unusual,  I know)  probably because I was getting tired of checking,  only to see that there had been nary a peep from anyone on the relocation front.  It gets to be discouraging. 

It got to the point that I was taking both phones with me (land line and mobile) from room to room (including washroom) just to mitigate the chances of missing a call.  Kind of sad,  now that I think on it.

But then there was a note from Travelling Companion,  *gasp* saying she had heard from our relocation contact here in Vienna!   I’ve dealt with this person.  Very competent.  Only thing is,  she can’t do too much until she’s been given authorisation from the very smart people in Texas.   Hence the delay.

So I called her up!

We had a nice little chat concerning the very short time span between now and the end of the month,  and after we got off the phone, I’ve been occupying my time with scanning all of our account numbers  and sending them off to her.  She’ll begin the onerous task of extricating us from our various commitments.   You know, gas, electricity, internet and phone.   Those kinds of commitments.   Thankfully we don’t have to worry too much about the rent,  as that is handled directly by the Texas bunch and,  even though there were rumblings about the move going way back to December,  when notice COULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN,  nothing was done,  and our rental contract calls for three months notice.   Betcha that will be a surprise!  Glad I won’t be paying.  Oh well.  I think The Company that Cannot be Named should remove that cost from their charges,  but it’s no skin off my hind end.



And that’s about all I got for today.  Really. 


There was a question yesterday concerning why the heck (my words) I would bother to shovel the balcony.   Well,  it’s mostly so I don’t fall on my keester.    If the snow doesn’t go away between now and moving day,   I’ll still need access to the upstairs storage.   I just pile the snow off to the side,  and then it can melt and run over the edge.




Hopefully it will be a bit milder between now and the end of the month,  since those tables will need to come in and be disassembled. 


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for stopping in.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Quiet weekend.

Travelling Companion had the idea that she wanted to do a little fabric shopping,  with possibly one or two other stops along the way.

I think the last time we went into this fabric shop was a year ago,  right around the same time.  We keep meaning to get there at other times,  but there’s rarely the opportunity, or the desire. 





See,  it’s “Ball Season”, (no crude jokes, please) so sometimes there are some interesting things to be found for those who might wish to make their own formal wear.  Sounds crazy,  I know,  but somebody must be buying the stuff,  otherwise why would they make the effort?


I suppose the displays help with the visualisation.


The other thing too is,  we’re coming up on “Fasching”,  which is the Austria version of the craziness leading up to “Mardi Gras”.   It’s not just restricted to western Austria,  as that wiki article mentions.  Never take any wiki article as the whole truth by the way. 



Or, if you did happen to go to a fashion show and see something that you’d like to make for yourself well,  there you go.  Um, because we all go to fashion shows,  right?



Totally clever idea as far as I’m concerned,  but that wasn’t what we were there for.  T.C. was looking for something to match a particular style and colour of broach she had brought with her.  It didn’t take her long to find something, but I didn’t get a picture of her find, not that she would have even let me.


I did briefly get out into the fresh air on Sunday.  There’s rarely much going on.  It’s a good time for any of the shops to put up or take down decorations.





Taking down the Christmas lights any other time wouldn’t have been a concern,  but the lads trying to sort out the display for “McFit” picked a good day,  since the would have been hard pressed to use that sidewalk on Monday morning.

This is what we woke up to.



And you know, I *almost* don’t mind snow.  It’s just the idea of shovelling it?   Like someone suffering from some sort of childhood trauma,  I’ve almost been able to get past that sense of dread every time it snows.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to that point when I’ll look out at freshly fallen snow and say, “Oh,  how wonderful.”  

Some folks do.  I’m happy for them.  Really.



This was taken this morning out on the main drag.  It’s really the only way you’re going to clear the sidewalk without being hindered by the pedestrians.  Block it off.  Clear it.  Move your barriers.  Repeat. 

We’re supposed to get ten days of this.   It could make travelling to Slovenia for the weekend just a bit interesting.  Travelling Companion placed a call to the cousin last night to say we’re coming.

I’ll take my boots.

She had been waiting to hear from us,  as there had been some talk of taking one last trip,  so it wasn’t exactly a surprise or anything.


In conversation with Daughter Number Two yesterday,  it was mentioned that it was 13°C at the house.   Just watch, we’ll get two weeks of winter here,  and then it’ll follow us home.  I hope I’m dead wrong.

At this point I’m willing to take whatever comes along.

Not too much else going on here.  Just waiting for some word from the very smart people.  Fingers crossed. 


Sticks.  Ice.  You know.


Thanks for looking in.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh my Gawd! Stay out of Florida!

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Police in Florida say they are investigating the deaths of a Toronto couple found inside a townhouse as a double homicide.

David Pichosky, 71, and Rochelle Wise, 66, were found dead Thursday evening inside their townhouse in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Bialik* Hebrew Day School says Wise used to teach there and is the former director of Crestwood Valley Day Camp in Toronto.

Sonia Shron, Bialik's executive director, says the news has hit the school community very hard.

Police say the couple spends their winters in Hallandale Beach.

Capt. Sonia Quinones (keen-YO-ness) of the Hallandale Beach Police Department says a neighbour (hey wait,  shouldn’t that be “neighbor?)  found the couple after they didn't show up for a planned lunch.

The neighbour (huh?) used a spare key to check on the couple and found their bodies after 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Quinones says the cause of death and motive are still under investigation.

You can find the original article here. 

Lock up your old people! 


I like the way they have to spell out “Quiñones”,  even though they forget to put the n tilde on the n.   Which of course,  speaks volumes about this kind of reporting in general.   So what is it?  Florida?  Mexico?   Where be all the killin’?     Toronto, maybe?   The Eaton Centre?


Have you figured out yet that I’m working on a bit of a mocking tone here?  Hey,  people get snuffed now and again.  It can happen most anywhere.   Is this going to prompt a “travel warning”?   Just asking. 

I mean,  it’s sad.  This couple belonged to somebody,  and I don’t mean to make light of their deaths.  Hopefully they didn’t suffer. Condolences to the family.

I’m just not sure how any of these types of things are newsworthy.



In other news,  my left foot hurts,  ‘cause I think I got like,  a corn or something.  That’s newsworthy too,  innit?    No really,  my foot really hurts.  It sucks.

You may mock at will.  Those of you who perhaps don’t have sore feet.  But your time will come.  Just you wait.


I realise I don’t usually have too much to say on the weekends, but I couldn’t leave that one alone.  Of course, it turns out,  I still don’t have much to say. 

Something to be said for tradition.


I said I wasn’t about to report on dinner,  but I will submit the following:





The clear liquid in the tiny glasses is something called “Grappa”.   Travelling Companion thought it tasted like Slivovitz and I thought it had a bit of a brandy thing going on.   I only raised one eyebrow when she offered the Slivovitz comparison.  Not sure what goes on in those “business meetings”. 


We’re not big drinkers.  I mean ya,  I go on about beer prices and such,  but having hard liquor isn’t something we do very often at all.  We have Crown Royal in our cabinet at home from a decade ago.  Unless the kids have been nipping.  We may have to do a little inventory.

So we were a little perplexed when Phaty (one of the owners of the Cafe, and I have no idea if I spelled his name right or not) wanted to offer us something at the end of our meal,  “for the New Year”.   At first we refused,  but then quickly realised, that would be just plum rude.  So Grappa it was.  An ounce or so was plenty.  Trust me.

Kind of happy that Happy New Year only comes once a year,  to be honest.


Sure hope you’re enjoying your weekend.


Thanks for looking in.




*any relation to Mayim?