Saturday, March 30, 2013

Legs a bit wobbly.

I have to confess that I haven’t actually been on any form of two wheeled device in a couple years,  a fact of which I was reminded this morning after heading off to the store for a container of milk. 

I’m sure the sight of a Dutch bike parked in front of the store must seem a little strange.  First of all,  since it was the *only* bike,  and then of course,  it has fenders and stuff.

“New and Shiny” is pretty much still well,  new and shiny.  It’s easier to keep a well made bike clean I find,  even though all the bikes got a little filthy in the basement of the apartment in Vienna.

It was a rather harsh environment.


Didn’t matter.  These bikes are made for harsh environments.  If you ever happen to venture over to the Netherlands,  you’ll see Gazelle and Batavus bikes, (among a host of others) some of which have been in continuous use for twenty,  thirty years or longer. 

You won’t find much going back before the second world war though,  as the word is that the German soldiers stole all the bikes they could find to ride back home when they were being forced to retreat.  It’s a story.  Not sure if it’s entirely accurate.

Of course,  I could have walked to the store,  but the interesting thing is,  since I chose to take just a slight detour on the way home (just one street over,  no big deal) it so happened that I was able to exchange a “good morning”  with a neighbour I never knew we had.  I mean,  just some person coming out of their house,  possibly recognised me.  Don’t know.  My point is, being on two wheels,  one does tend to interact with others more readily.  Just one of those things.

Maybe that’s why most Dutch folks whom I know like to yak?  They’re good at it.  Trust me.


Anyhoodle,  you’ll notice the containers there,  one of which has “yard waste” plastered on the side?

Well,  this is one of the slight annoyances of suburban life, especially when one no longer has access to a honkin’ big dumpster at work. *ahem*

We have to put out our clippings to be picked up.  I think I read somewhere that it’s supposed to start as of the First of April.   This is good.  The roses out front have gotten out of hand,  and I’ve having to be a bit ruthless when it comes to getting them back down to size.

There hasn’t been anyone with the fortitude to do this nasty business over the last four years,  so it’s up to me.


And that is most of what is on the agenda for today.


Fun stuff.

I’m sure I could blather on here,  but I’d best get out there.


Hope the Easter Bunny is good to you.  Just remember, if what’s left behind looks like raisins,  they’re probably not.


Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why do I have to find the horseradish?

I don’t even really like the stuff either,  but it’s something that Travelling Companion and certain brave members of her family like to sample at Easter.  Just Easter dinner,  not the whole weekend.  That would be just wrong.

I’m thankful that I put that “search” function up there on ze blogue, as it allows me to surf back in time and see where we were and what we were doing.  Otherwise I’d just be makin’ up sh*t.

It was two years ago that we were in Rome for Easter,  so I guess it was three years ago that T.C. asked me to see if I could find some horseradish in Vienna.  Before that I guess we had done without?  Who knows? 

The thing is,  there’s an actual German word for Horseradish (or at least the only one I knew up until that time) and that is “Meerrettich”,  or something like that. Whether that’s the right word or not,  it doesn’t matter,  since that’s not what they say in Austria. 

Go figure.

No, they use the word “Kren”.  Don’t try looking that one up.  Unless you have some sort of funky “Austrian-English” dictionary,  you’ll just have to take my word for it. 

So,  trying to find a stalk of horseradish was a bit of a challenge.  I wasn’t asking for anything they could recognise.  After about the third store,  one of the produce clerks (who apparently spoke *actual* German) knew what I was trying to say, and gave me the proper word.  Such fun.

See,  here’s the thing.  If I had asked T.C. what the word in Slovenian for Horseradish might be,  then I would have maybe had a hint.  It’s “hren” in Slovenian.   Remember how they were part of the “Austro-Hungarian Empire”?   They have been sharing words with the Austrians for a while it seems.  With a slight Slovenian twist here and there.

Anyhoodle,  that was the nastiest horseradish I had ever tried,  which is why we subsequently, quietly decided that we’d give the Horseradish program a pass last last year. 

So, to recap: 2010,  horseradish up the nose.

                    2011,  Easter in Rome.

                    2012,  passed on the Horseradish program.


But now that we’re back in the land of lame, weak-assed Horseradish,  T.C. decided she’d like to try that game once more.  She wasn’t happy with the specimen she found at Longo's on Saturday.  “Too soft”.  

So on Tuesday when I had the car, (Doctor’s appointment,  no big deal) one of my tasks was to try and find “the good stuff”.  Something like that.   Had to go to two different stores.  It turns out that the specimen that I chose met with approval.  *phew*

We haven’t tasted it yet.  The jury’s still out on that one.  If it’s already been “approved”,  then it’s no longer within my purview.  It just might taste like horse *whatever* for all I care.

Now you might think that running around and then successfully finding horseradish would be the end of my pre-Easter tasks?  Well, no.   I mean,  I did.  But I was wrong.

Today I had to grind some nuts. 





Gripping stuff!  Man, I know you’re just on the edge of your seats.  Probably best not to use “gripping” and “nuts” in the same sentence though. 

The curious thing is,  that grinder there is made in Austria.  Belongs to one of the sisters-in-law.   I think she just might have brought it over with when they landed at Pier 21.  ( ←  Interesting article there on Pier 21 by the way)

It’s well…old.   Maybe older than muggins here.  And that’s old.   Does a fabulous job though.  Sure wish we could find a newer version,  or at least find one so we don’t have to rely on borrowing this one. 

You can buy ground up walnuts and pecans,  but they’re not fine enough.  Bonus points for anyone who can guess why T.C. needs ground up nuts?   Starts with a “P”? 

If you nodded off during class,  then I’m just sorry.  No hints.  OK one hint,  go up to “last year”.  You’ll see.



So….Happy Easter everyone.


I’ll be back.  Promise.


Thanks for lookin’.



Monday, March 25, 2013

It’s not the bank!

I have to suck it up here and admit that I jumped to the wrong conclusion regarding our issues with our bank, and wire transfers we’re expecting from the very smart people in Texas who are *allegedly* looking after our “Ex-Pat Expenses”.

First of all,  therein lies the good news.  Once we get all this crapola cleared up, Travelling Companion will no longer have to deal with these boffoons.  (Texas people,  not the bank people)  So,  if she has to fly out to Edmonton say (yes, that might just happen),  then The Company that Cannot be Named can pay her directly out of the Burlington office.  Directly into the bank,  just the way the very smart people in Texas are supposed to do.

Let’s not forget though,  that there was indeed some wrong information on a form provided to me by the bank earlier on,  but that’s not the issue any more.  Or it least it shouldn’t be.

Really and truly,  I should have had some sort of “tag” on all the posts over the last four years wherein I’ve ranted about these Texas dough heads.  There would be quite the string of posts,  trust me.   The thing is,  I never in my wildest dreams thought they would continue to be so stupid.  I mean,  T.C. was one of the first Ex-Pats in Austria,  so we chalked up their dough-headedness to inexperience.  Of course,  they do have an office in the U.K., so we never could figure out why we were dealing with an endless string of toothless wonders somewhere in Texas.  What would they possibly know about Europe? 

Not much,  it turns out. 

But that’s in the past. 

We’ve had that rather large bowel movement,  but the unfortunate thing is that there are a few little clumps of cr*p hanging around that just don’t want to fall into the bowl.   Best analogy I can come up with,  without using really,  really bad language.

It turns out that they have a knack for making up sh*t.

(like the theme?)

I’m just sticking with the excrement theme here for as long as possible.   You can work “sticking” in there somewhere too,  if you have a mind to.


A few days ago,  I soldered down to the local branch here and we made absolutely sure that we had all the correct information so that wire transfers would come through just tickety-boo.  I figured that was that.  They would now know just what an account number looks like,  and that our bank address is not “Scotia Plaza”.   Where they got that one from,  we have no idea.   “Scotia Plaza” is an office building in downtown Toronto.  Owned (presumably) by Scotiabank.  Nothing to do with day to day banking.  I’ve never been there.  We don’t live there.  There’s no bank there!


Well,  as of today still no money had come through.  *grumble*   This time around though,  I had the name of an actual contact person at the branch down the street here,  and lo and behold,  she answered her phone!  I was sitting down at the time.  Probably just as well.

Apparently the branch,  or at least those who were in the know,  were on some sort of ‘high alert’,  since she knew exactly what I was talking about (wha?)  and said there was indeed a wire transfer that had come through today, BUT that they STILL had the wrong information on the damned thing!  So, in spite of receiving the correct information from us,  (It was on a form.  I scanned it.  We sent it!) these twits in their twisted imperialistic type of thinking,  had discounted the information that had been provided,  and decided to just make up some shit on their own.  Because I mean,  they must know better than those simple Canadians.   Interesting to note though,  how our banks had no issues whatsoever in the “big crash” of 08-09,  but I’ll not offer any opinions on American style banking.  Because I mean,  they *know*,  right?


I don’t recall moving to “Scotia Plaza”.  That’s all.  Why would you put something back on a form when you have explicitly been told to leave it off?   Why oh why?   And the account number is 12 digits,  not seven.  Just write it in there,  would ya?

The latest is,  they wired us a couple hundred back on March 11th,  (I knew nothing of this until it was pointed out to me by T.C.) and apparently it went into an account.  Just not ours.   I can go on line.  I can see all the ins and outs of that account,  going back as far as my little heart desires.   It. ain’t. there. 


My new contact at the bank is now on the trail of this mysterious two hundred bucks.    All told,  we’re out about eight Gs though.

All I can say is,  it’s a damned good thing we don’t *need* this money right now,  or we’d be in deep,  you know,  excrement. 






Speaking of games I didn’t know I was playing….

(like that one?)




There’s nobody in there.  Just the cat.  Waiting for someone to walk by it seems.  (*he’s a bit nuts*)




Today’s offering.



Not that I need something to distract me from any perceived banking “issues” or anything,  but baking something never hurts.  It’s all I got.

I may very well be in a banana bread induced coma later today.   Just in case I never utter another peep.

Now you know.


Peace out.


Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Just to break the monotony.

You know,  cutting open boxes,  stacking up the paper to be used later by Daughter Number Two and son-in-law.  Wandering around the house with some item or other in my hand wondering where it should go. That kind of monotony.

It’s all fine and dandy to say opening moving boxes is “just like Christmas”,  but it turns out it’s well… not.

Like that’s a surprise.

It just so happens that a company that I know and love (hey, my customer number ends in ‘86,  so that’s how long I’ve been coveting their wares) had free shipping this week,  so I thought I’d break out the gift certificates.

Every year at Christmas,  I end up up with a certain amount of gift certificates from Lee Valley.  My kind of Christmas gift.  Really.  I have plenty of socks,  not to mention most any other type of clothing imaginable. Probably enough to last me ‘til the end of my days.



Anyone not sure what to get me for Father’s Day or my birthday?   Right.  You can even order them on line


I do tend to hoard them just a wee bit,  but every so often I see fit to treat myself to a ‘Christmas present’. 


I was really tempted to buy some tool or other when I was over in Europe.  Just to,  you know,  say I bought something there?  The only thing with that is,  Lee Valley seems to import most of the good tools that one can find in Europe,  and although we cringe at the HST here in Canada,  it turns out that the VAT in Europe is even higher.  Most often it hovers around 19%.  They very cleverly build it into the amount you pay,  so you’re only aware of it once you take a closer look at your receipt,  but when it comes right down to it,  this little gem that was delivered today is actually cheaper here in Canada than in the same country that it’s made.  Crazy.

Some of you probably haven’t been hanging around long enough to remember that I actually went to the factory where they make these hand planes,  back in November of 2008.

It just so happened that Travelling Companion had a meeting in Bonn,  and I had sniffed out the location of the factory where they are made in Remscheid, Germany.

Even though it was a Friday and there wasn’t much going on,  or maybe because of it,  the owner took me on a little tour of the whole production.  It was awesome.

I won’t bore you with recounting that whole thing, but you can read a little about the history of their factory here.



They make sure to put the name on the outside of the box,  just to add to the excitement.




Oh here,  let me turn that around for you.



Those of you who may be a little more familiar with German will have noticed that they didn’t exactly translate from one side to the other?   The German says something about “Hand plane adjustable without a hammer”,  and “The joy of good tools”.   Dat ain’t wat the English sez.  Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to speak a second (or third) language.  Even if you’re just a woodworker.

And here it is.



Kinda sweet,  huh? 


OK, so maybe I’m the only one who gets a little giddy when I pick up one of these things.  Fine.  I’ll go away now.


Not much doing today.  Still unseasonably cold here in the Great White North.  Supposed to go a few degrees above the freezing mark on the weekend.  Oh goodie.  To think that last year at this time they had record high temps.  (like 23°C.)  HOWEVER,  this is actually more like what spring conditions are supposed to be.  We want apples.  We want maple syrup.  When it’s too warm,  *things* get screwed up.  I can live with it.  Really.  All the plants start growing too soon,  and that’s bad. 

And that I’m afraid,  is the extent of my agricultural know how.


Have a fine weekend.


Thanks for lookin’.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

I found the hooch!

Not that you care.  But I figured I’d share our “cunning plan”.  (there’s a BlackAdder reference in there)

Although we were quite *willing* (well,  take that with a grain of salt) to admit to the bureaucrats that we were importing several bottles of wine,  there was some reluctance on our part to own up to much else.  There’s this particular medicinal libation that is prepared by the cousin in Sava, that we simply couldn’t leave behind, or even admit to owning for that matter.  Something to do with blueberries and straight alcohol.   Stick ‘em together and you get these stewed blueberries.

Quite good I’m told.  I do seem to recall sipping on a wee bit,  but I’m not much of a one for hard spirits.  I seem to recall my eyes watering just ever so slightly….

I discovered earlier on that the Slovenians like to share their various types of medicinal libations with you.   “Oh, this one is good for digestion!”   All I say is,  “Um, OK.”  and drink.  Would be rude not to.  Thankfully these medicinal libations come in tiny glasses,  or I would have been in trouble.


So here was my cunning plan. 


See,  nobody’s going to pop open some innocuous looking thermos inside some cooler, right?  That’s pretty much the extent of my willingness to smuggle though.  Well, OK, I’ve been known to throw away a pair of running shoes and wear the new ones home across the US/Canada border (don’t tell!!)  but beyond that,  I don’t need to be getting tracked any more than the current situation allows.   And believe me,  we’re all getting tracked,  but let’s not go there.


Other than that,  I’m empty.  There was some more back and forth with the bank today,  and I’ll mebbe update on that later.  It wasn’t bad stuff.  I just wanted to point that out.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for lookin’.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Transition? What transition?

OK so, maybe there is just a little chaos in our lives at the present time, hence very sparse efforts on the blogging front.

I mean,  I could go around and take pictures of half opened boxes, or self portraits of me with a bewildered look on my face.  We’ll get there.  Eventually.

Well fine,  here’s one or two.


I mean,  I take these stupid pictures,  I may as well post them.  Happy to oblige.

Actually,  (and I’m not taking another picture) it’s not quite as bad at this very moment, but that’s beside the point.


Mustn’t forget the helpers of course.  You may roll your eyes.



Our well travelled chair arrived unscathed.  I know it’s not very pretty,  but it’ll most like go into T.C.’s sewing room at some point. 



It’s your basic fifties, set of four chairs and kitchen table type of thing.  One of two remaining. This one has been not so very professionally recovered, as you may have notices. The table and other two chairs lived their lives a long time ago. 

I think I mentioned at some point in time that this chair has been to Horseheads, N.Y.,  then on to Puerto Rico,  back home again and then over to Europe.  It’s kind of like taking along a mascot.

Speaking of Puerto Rico….I’m sure it’s a heck of a sight warmer there right now.  Travelling Companion mentioned this morning that the last time we moved home from an Ex-Pat deal, (from Puerto Rico, hello)  it was unseasonably cold.  This was in April of 2003,  when our limo driver (whom we had used on several occasions) was not even going to attempt to get up our driveway,  since it was covered in about six inches of snow,  on top of which was a nice crispy layer of ice.  Sure was fun trying to shovel that the next day.   It was April sixth,  and lucky for us we came in by way of Buffalo, since Toronto International was closed,  as they ran out of glycol.   The “snow plow” and “airplane de-icing” season was supposedly over.  Not.

But let’s not dwell on the weather.  These things happen.  The story goes that last year at this time,  it was wonderfully warm.  We weren’t here.  I’m dwelling.  Sorry.


Oh oh!  Almost forgot.  I finally have a driver’s license!  Well,  the temporary one until the little card with my mug shot comes in the mail in a few weeks.   Travelling Companion has had hers for a few weeks now.  She didn’t need the whole translation thing.  She had a Dutch license.  Silly me,  I waiting until we got to Austria.

The thing is,  the Translation Dude who was on the list,  while only a few blocks away (the next nearest person was in Kitchener!) had not done this particular little thing before.  Sooooo,  it turns out he needed a stamp from the “Translator’s Association”.   Or something like that.  He had offered to notarise a translated copy that I could have prepared,  but my suspicion was that the bureaucrats would turn up their noses at such a thing,  so we had to wait for his stamp to arrive.   Not sure how much this stamp cost him, but he only charged me twenty-five bucks for the the work. 

Seemed reasonable. 


It also had to be stamped on the overturned corner of the two pages.  OK whatever.

Anyhoodle,  I took that along with my Austrian license and passport back to the Driver Testing place on Monday morning.  Hardly anyone waiting,  so that was a plus.  Filled out the form, (it’s only four questions)  did the eye test,  (you know,  which side is the blinking light,  and reading increasingly smaller numbers), got my mug shot,  coughed up another seventy-five bucks,  and got yet another little piece of paper. 

Yay.  Good for five years.  It’s the best I can expect.

I think that’s about it for today kids.   My “big job” for today is to cook up some chicken broth,  since we’re out.

I started that already by ten,  so it’ll simmer all day.

Grippingly exciting stuff,  I know.



OK,  I’m off to skim off the crud that comes to the top.

Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Winter’s last go at us.

Or at least that’s the hope.


This was the view yesterday,  but it didn’t do anything more than freak out the dough heads who still haven’t figured out that it’s a good idea to have winter tires if you actually need to commute anywhere. 

The neighbourhood here is pretty quiet,  and if it weren’t for traffic reports on TV or the radio, we’d really have no clue as to any sort of chaos out on the by-ways.   Even Travelling Companion’s “commute” is only about ten minutes,  and it’s against the traffic. 


This was this morning’s view.  *Watch out for all those cars!*

Fortunately there was little to no wind, which was a good thing, as it was just a wee bit cold.  Something like -8°C, but who’s counting?  Rumour has it that last year at this time it was well into the plus side of the scale.  Something like plus 17?  That’s almost room temperature, or at least in the “sixties”.  I’ll only use Fahrenheit if I’m actually in the United States.  Only because I pride myself on always trying to “speak the lingo”. 

Anyhoodle,  the month of March anywhere north of the Mason Dixon line is a bit of a crap shoot.  As long as I’m not shovelling it, I’m fine.  Besides,  I’d sooner be here and bundling up against a little cold, rather than be in some place like Texas.  If I went all that way and it was still cold, I’d be pissed.  Just sayin’.

If you want to remain in the States and be really warm in the winter,  I think Puerto Rico would be my first choice.  Gets cold in Florida.  Who needs that?


So just a couple notes on the unpacking.  Yes, I did some.  There.


I don’t think that really counts though. I stacked it all up again ‘cause we ain’t got no place to put it all.  Yet.  Daughter Number Two and T.C. need to come up with some sort of schedule.  Or something.

There were a few things that I managed to temporarily put away this morning,  but at a certain point I just stand there and gaze at the pile, with no sense of what to do next. 

In terms of the quality of the movers,  we’ve gone from “pitiful”,  to “slightly adequate” to “pretty damned awesome”. 

Lemme ‘splain.


Here’s an example of the silliness of the man and wife team and idiot brother that we had to pack us up in July of 2008.


Yup,  those are doorknobs.  (Oh, is there some sort of “knob theme” there?)  Purchased right here at the Canadian Tire store in Burlington, waiting for me to install them upstairs.   They got packed.  So they ended up in Europe, and now they’re finally home.  It occurred to me on more than one occasion to bring them home in my luggage any time we made a trip home,  but most times I either didn’t have the room (packed light) or moreover, I didn’t want to have to explain to Canada Customs just what the hell I was doing with three doorknobs in my luggage.  They might have checked,  who knows?   Luggage does get scanned,  but you knew that.

Then I noticed on one of the huge cartons sitting in the garage that the movers had written “beshädigt” on the outside,  and I thought “damaged”?   What?  But then I realised that it was one of the couches,  and sure enough,  when unpacking in the Netherlands,  the very clever fellow who was unloading the truck had indeed cut into the fabric with his box cutter.  *grrr*

Now,  maybe it’s because I mentioned this sort of thing to the first mover Dude who came to the apartment to size things up (in Vienna)  but this last bunch really packed things.

They took things back to their warehouse,  and just went to town.


I mean,  can you tell that’s a bicycle?




Or maybe I should say, now that’s how you pack a bike!


They even packed my tool boxes. 


The first jokers just shoved a little tape on the outside and called it a day.  Which is why a couple of T.C.’s sewing boxes got beat to pieces.  They were never designed to be slammed about in a shipping container.


Mind you, putting that red tool box on its end wasn’t without some consequence, but not a big deal.


Gravity will do that.  However, there’s no way for the contents to escape.  That’s the main thing.


I’ll leave you with this image.


This is from inside the shed.  Actually,  it’s better now, since I shoved a few things around.  There’s no way to take things off the truck in exactly the correct order.



And of course,  we mustn’t forget the “help”.



Since lying there like road kill is so helpful. 


Oh, and I must say,  judging from the number of comments yesterday (OK, two days ago?) my impression is that moving might have “hit a nerve”?   Almost up there with politics or religion.   ‘Cause moving is such fun,  isn’t it?

It just so happened that I bumped into someone I’ve known since our University days yesterday,  and one of her questions was,  “So where to next?”  and I just said, “Um no, we’re done.”  

We *might* go out east and see one of my brothers,  but rumour has it that he and his wife just might come to Burlington for a visit,  so I *might* just stay home.  Hey, I could conceivably get sick of being home,  but not just yet.



Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for stopping in.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A little excitement.

I suppose I could have also said,  “Welcome to my nightmare”,  but it wasn’t too bad.  Really.

I’ll let some of the pictures speak.


These guys showed up at about 8:15.


Um, with an empty truck?


Within a few minutes it all started to make sense.




Transport Dude has to then cut off the seal that was put on in Hamburg.  So our stuff went from Vienna to Hamburg to Montreal to Burlington.  In case you were keeping score.


Then he backs the container right up to the back of the empty truck,  and the boys go at it.

I had previously tried to figure out where everything would go,  so as we were checking off the items,  it was all getting shoved here and there.   There were only a couple mystery items that ended up going wherever they would fit.   The list was 177 items long.


Kind of like an early morning “brain game”.


So…in the garage.



In the shed.



Yes,  that’s a shed.  Not a little house.


In the living room.


And in the upstairs hallway. 


No comment about the cat.  I ended up sequestering him in the bathroom.  He likes to be under foot.   The dog spent a couple hours in the kitchen on his bed.  He didn’t mind too much,  since he could at least see what was going on,  and there was no danger of him suddenly having the urge to bolt out the door. 

There were a couple bed thingies that I had the movers shove in the basement,  although I had no way of knowing if I got the right mattresses or not,  since they had bundled up some of the items after they had taken them out of the apartment.  So the boxes that the mattresses are in are all the same size!  I’ll sort it out eventually.

Speaking of sorting out.  One of the first things I wanted to check was the chandelier that we shipped over.  It didn’t do too badly.

The little links that hold up each individual ring on which all the shiny bits are hung got a little stretched in the jostling, so I spent some time checking it over very carefully.

It has to hang of course,  in order to do that,  which meant having to remove the cardboard cylinder that I had put on in Vienna.   I’ll put it back on before I take it in the house.

I had to devise some sort of Rube Goldberg arrangement to accomplish that little nightmare.  I’ll tell you right now,  I wouldn’t be able to do that for a living.  Either my fingers are too stubby,  my eyesight is too poor,  or my patience are too lacking.   If I had any more hair,  I probably would have pulled it out.



It looks rather fetching hanging there in the garage though, don’t you think?   Um…it’s not going to stay there.

OK so,  stuff to do.  I’m outta here.


Thanks for lookin’.   Keep those sticks….oh whatever.



Friday, March 8, 2013

It’s so you’ll *think* about it.

For a couple weeks now,  I’ve had this annoying thing going on in my left ear,  and this morning at about two, it finally woke me up out of a sound sleep.  This is where I draw the line when it comes to this paper bag crinkling every time I swallow or belch phenomenon, and like a fool,  I happened to mention it to Travelling Companion, who very quickly advised that I should “go see the Doctor!”


Um, this is why it’s usually best to keep these types of things to myself?


It’s not that I mind the poking and prodding.  They’re welcome to any number or quantity of bodily fluids that they may deem necessary for a prognosis.  All I really wanted in this case was for someone with a certain amount of experience or training,  to take a gander in my left ear and let me know what the hell is going on in there.  That’s all. 

I haven’t been traipsing around in the jungle, so I was reasonably sure it wasn’t any kind of bug or anything,  and it turns out it was/is some kind of blockage,  and there’s this spray I have to shove up my nose once a day for a time.  Swell.

This little snippet of information took me just about a half a day to find out…


Our regular Doc is presently on vacation, so there was some mention made of the “walk-in clinic” in the same building where he has his practise.  I wish they sold shares.  This “family health centre” type of place is a gold mine.  They got everything!  Massage therapy,  physio, X-Rays.  An eye place.  There’s even a pharmacy right on site.  Like I said,  a gold mine.

The only thing though is, it should be called a “walk in and wait clinic”.   My only concern was that my minor ailment might have cleared itself up by the time someone got to see me.  I totally understand the kid still in her gym uniform being taken there by Mom (Ace bandage and ice was all she needed)  but the young mothers taking their runny nosed little darlings in to be told what any mother should already know?   C’mon.  Even if you don’t have your own mother to ring up and ask,  there’s this thing called the internet.  Until you get to the ear infection stage,  my preference would be that you don’t bring your germ spreading little bugger into a crowded waiting area.   Which, by the way, is why I prefer to stand off by myself.  Call me paranoid,  but I haven’t had a head cold in four years.  Coincidently, that was right around the time I walked out of a school for the last time.  Curious thing how that works.

Not wishing to prolong my stay,  I didn’t visit their fine upstanding on-site pharmacy however.  Too busy.  We have a perfectly acceptable drug store just down the street from us, where I was greatly outnumbered by the staff.   Plus,  they had tooth paste on sale!  Can’t beat that with a stick!


So the “walk-in clinic” was free.  Just had to show my “health card”.  However, I’ll think long and hard before I head back in there.  Even if they had an assortment of decent magazines (and what professional office ever does?) I wouldn’t want to touch anything anyway. 


Now for something completely different:


This morning when I went to fetch the Merc out of the garage,  a broom fell against one of the sensors,  which meant that the stupid garage door refused to close again.  No big deal.  You can just unhook the thing and close it manually.  Had to get out of the car of course.  Such an effort.

So what am I doing here with the ladder and the impact driver?   Well, it has nothing to do with the sensors,  since they’re very easy to line up again.   I just noticed (for about the millionth time) that the opener is just a tad noisier than I’d like.   It’s not the most expensive one you can buy,  but just the same has operated reasonably reliably for just about twenty years now.  It owes us nothing.  We’ve gone through a few batteries and such,  but I make sure to lubricate whatever needs it at least once a year.  I guess it helps.

Over the last little while I’ve been going through the scads of little parts drawers I have and sorting and heaving out various bit of flotsam that I find,  and it just so happened that I had come across some grommets the other day,  and got this bright idea that maybe I could quiet the thing down a bit if it wasn’t bolted right to the rafters. 

In the final analysis, it did make a bit of a difference,  but of course,  my suspicions that it wasn’t going to be just a simple job were confirmed.  



See the little broken bolt?   Well,  the whole thing was put together with an impact driver,  so that was the tool of choice when trying to loosen a couple uncooperative nuts.  That one wasn’t going to loosen.  On the scale of hardness,  these guys aren’t even on the scale.  And it’s not like it’s an aircraft part or anything, so having hardened bolts isn’t really necessary. 

The only thing though was,  since I didn’t want to tighten the nuts right down on the grommets, thereby undoing all of the cushiony goodness that I was trying to build in,  I rummaged around until I found a couple longer bolts so that I could then put a couple extra nuts on each end. You tighten them against themselves so they don’t come undone.  Coming undone would be bad.

Pains me to say this,  but I was missing a couple nuts.  Never a good thing when a feller is missing a couple nuts.   OK,  let’s just stop that right here,  shall we?

Since Home Despot is the closest source of hardware,  that was my first choice.  I was able to find my nuts without having to involve any outside help. Usually the preferred method. Stupid things were almost sixty cents apiece.  I guess they were the good kind.

If I go out there and find a couple nuts that I had been missing up until now,  I’m going to be upset.  Just so you know.  This is why I’ll waste more time trying to find an item in with the junk,  rather than just capitulating and going to the store.  I just hate it when the missing item(s) miraculously appear right at that precise moment when I’m no longer looking for them.  It’s just some sort of law.

It’s probably how I lost most of my hair.


We’ll leave that for another day.  If ever.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for lookin’.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Strike 23

You know how you sometimes you have this *idea* or, perhaps just an inkling that some people are just dumb?  And then it turns out that the unfortunate truth is, you were right all along?  

This kind of revelation is met with mixed emotions though,  since on the one hand your suspicions have been confirmed, and who doesn’t like to be right?  But on the other hand, you realise you’re trying to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.


I mean,  I realise that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer,  but when it comes to certain things like say, exchanging numbers over the phone or filling out forms?  I try to be pretty careful.  I make sure I write sh*t down,  usually as the conversation is taking place so as to not completely bugger things up.  I just know that,  I ain’t got no “steel trap” in the brains department.  So, I work around it.  There, I said it.  Pen, paper, eye glasses.  Good to go. Always best to know your limitations.


So what have I got up my a$$ today?

Well,  here’s the thing.  Back when we were wrapping things up in Wienerland, I made a little visit to our Bank Austria branch out on Mariahilferstraße to close our account,  but leave it open long enough to pay one or two bills that we had coming in.  You know, there was an Amex bill,  and a couple of the fine folks who provided us with things like internet and such, either owed us money or we owed them money or whatever.  Like that.

But then just recently, we couldn’t quite fathom why we were still able to log onto our Bank Austria account,  and see that there’s still some €870 in there.  That money is supposed to be transferred over to our bank here in Canada.  We’re into March here.  We’re supposed to be *done*.

I don’t know how you are in terms of being able to make your mouth work (i.e. communicate) at seven in the morning,  but of course with the six hour time difference,  I had to get off my duff this morning and call Austria right around that time.  Some of the folks in that branch could speak English, but not all.  So that meant muddling along in German.  Fun times.  Maybe I should have done a couple “warm ups”?    I managed, but geez.

And it turns out that the person that answered the phone knew EXACTLY who I was and why I was calling.  Two things in play: First of all,  call display I guess,  and the fact that the transfer was refused last Thursday some time and they weren’t quite sure how to contact us.  The chances of them calling us here in Canada would be slim to none,  so we arranged to exchange email addresses.  Got that working,  after a couple attempts.


Well,  here comes the stupid part.   I had provided them with all the information that had been given to us by the branch down the street here,  and it turns out IT WAS WRONG.   And no, I didn’t copy it wrong.  I scanned the document that had been filled out by the bank and given to us.  I figured it was the safest way to not make an error.  I’d like to refer you back the “knife in the drawer” analogy.

I’ve lost count.  Maybe it’s only “strike 22”?   We passed “strike three” with these boneheads years ago,  and I actually stopped keeping count. 

I’m still waiting for the Branch Manager to call me back from some back and forth we had over a year ago.  She was going to call me “no matter what”.   Right.  Good thing I didn’t hold my breath.  I hate when people say they’ll do something “no matter what”,  and then conveniently forget.

Of course,  to find out that there was one extra “one” in the account number has taken me most of the day.  The bank here has “banker’s hours”,  and of course the Bank in Austria is already closed.  Thankfully I have the person’s email,  and I’m sure she’ll check my note first thing tomorrow morning when she comes in to work.  We might get our money by spring time.

Time to take a deep breath.


Here’s the problem as I see it.  The employees of this bank, our bank here in Canada, (and this is a blanket statement that applies to all financial institutions that have more than one location. *Sorry*)  who have any kind of a brain in their head whatsoever,  end up getting transferred out to either another branch or to a position of higher responsibility/authority/whatever.   It’s mostly to their level of incompetence I should imagine, but what that really means is,  all the cr*p that’s left over is what you end up with at your local branch. And then there are a certain number of “newbies” of course. 

We have the same dough heads in there that we’ve had for the last twenty years.  God help us,  every one.

Of course,  we could change banks,  and we may very well do that,  but I’m not sure that’s the solution.  Gonna switch out one set of retards for another?  Why?

Besides which, I can almost SEE the branch from our front lawn.   I can walk there.  I HAVE walked there.  It’s handy.  As long as I don’t ask them to do any actual banking, everything runs as smooth as a baby’s arse.  But just don’t ask them to say, answer the phone.  Oh boy, that’s a challenge. 

Hey, I was nice.  Really.  The lady who answered the phone was helpful.  She can’t help it if she works with a bunch of dummies.  She gave me some new information.  Of course, it was only SLIGHTLY different than the first information.  Getting “close enough” only works in horseshoes.  This could also explain why the very smart people who do Travelling Companion’s expenses are having difficulty transferring funds into our account.  Maybe?


We can only now wait and see.


No pictures today.  Too miserable.


Thanks for stopping in.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Just a Monday.

customs clearance

One guess where we went to (again) on the weekend.  The last visit (for the air shipment?) was during the week, until it was pointed out to us that these folks are there “24/7”.  I suppose it would be a cushy job, but judging by the trickle of people going in to the building, I’d hazard a guess that boredom would be the bigger problem.



This picture that I quite haphazardly took out of the car window of the Canada Customs building pretty much sums it up.  They’re out in the middle of practically nowhere at the Toronto airport,  in a non-descript building,  with *nothing* within walking distance. 


Anyway, what this means is,  our shipment is in Montreal,  and as soon as the moving company receives this stamped document,  we’ll have a garage full of ‘stuff’.   We’re pretty much full up in the ‘stuff’ department,  which is why a certain amount of it will be in the garage until we can figure it all out.   I can *hardly* wait!  (insert sarcastic font)

Daughter Number One seems to think she can take at least one of the wardrobes and shove it in their basement.  Being new home owners (well, under two years) they’re still trying to sort out where to keep their ‘stuff’.  They’re pretty good at purging from time to time,  so it’s really just a matter of having a place to put winter clothes and otherwise being able to put things away. 

We may be able to foist off a couple things to Daughter Number Two,  but they’re going to be going through some withdrawal pains from what I would consider some sort of “larger fish bowl syndrome”.   I think I foresee at least one garage sale in our/their future.   Time will tell.


Meanwhile,  I took a couple minutes today to get reacquainted with a new/old friend.  Just can’t bear to toss out those over ripe bananas.


And with my new/old friend,  it’s mind numbingly simple.  Doesn’t hurt that I almost know the recipe off by heart either.  Because I mean,  you need to know this, right?


Other than that, we’re just waiting for spring here in the Great White North.  Supposed to go up above the freezing mark in a day or two.  I’m almost giddy.  I need to get out and trim back the grape vine at the front of the house before too many days go by.  One year I waited a bit too long and the “sap” was already running.  *Eeep* That wasn’t good.  The grape vine survived,  but I was a wee bit nervous that I just might have done some irrevocable damage.  That thing was leaking like a sieve.  The house wouldn’t look the same without a grape vine growing in the front.

I suppose it’s kind of like having racoon prints on the soffits, although I’ve managed to keep those buggers out for at least twenty years now.  No more room at “Chez Caretaker” I’m afraid.  I wouldn’t wish those guests on anyone.  It’s like having smelly old men in overcoats in your attic.  Crappin’ everywhere to boot.


I’m just going to throw in this one last pic for a gentleman I know who was a previous Mercedes owner.  I’m pretty sure that, back when he had his string of Mercs,  you could actually check the oil in those things.  Not any more…

And that may very well be just why he’s a “previous” owner?? Let’s not talk about it.



That’s right kids,  there’s a place to put the oil in, but there’s no way to check it. 


Not a dipstick in sight.  Well, except for maybe the guy at the wheel.  Don’t go there.


And you know,  I had heard about this from one of my sister’s old friends (“old” as in “older than me”,  and “old” as in “we’ve known this guys since the seventies”)  when he leased a brand new Merc maybe over a decade ago,  and was astonished to find that he couldn’t check his own oil.   I know it has a bunch of sensors,  but once in a while a feller just likes to take a look?  It’s a hard habit to break,  and I’m not even a gear head.

No doubt the oil is refined from “unobtanium” as well.  I can just hardly wait for that first oil change.  (nervous laughter)

Oh,  and it’s a V-6.  I was asked this question, and I honestly had nary a clue.  It’s a sad thing to admit, but there you have it.  I didn’t even bother looking under the hood.  The thing is almost brand new,  has only 40,000 clicks on it (that’s a sideways way of saying “kilometres”,  by the way)  and is barely broken in,  so I wasn’t even going to fuss over what was in there.  When I open the throttle, it goes.  The only thing we DO know is,  it takes premium fuel.  Swell.


That’s my feeble effort for today.  If anything else drops into my noggin’,  I’ll let you know. 


Keep it between the ditches.

Thanks for stopping in.