Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fried Pingu? Tastes Like Chicken

Really, it was only a matter of time before someone fell ill in our house.  But a pneumonia diagnosed by stethoscope was totally unexpected.  Over the past couple of weeks I noticed that some of the kids on Jake's bus were missing here and there.  Last week I rode his bus to school and heard one of the older kids in the back hacking up his lung and the antennae went up-smoker's cough or something more sinister?  Mike and I were surprised on a recent trip up to school just how many teens were lighting up on the walk away from campus.  That being said, I started making mental notes of all of the coughing and hacking surrounding us from ubahn to grocery store.  Much more than the typical smoker's cough we normally hear.  It never ceases to amaze the number of Austrians who shop for organic and bio foods and then light up a cigarette on the way out the door.  In addition, as a certified member of the germaphobic society (we drink wine and use Purell at our meetings),  I am always amazed how many people do not cover their cough.

When Jake started with his sniffles and cough, we chalked it up to typical cold season. With his history of asthma, we know the drill and pulled out the puffers and decongestant.  Until early Sunday morning when his fever spiked, breathing turned shallow and heart started racing.  This is known in our house as Code Red.  Cue "Pingu" our trusty nebulizer.  Even at 3:15 am, our deliriously ill kiddo knew help was on the way with Pingu.  Until we made the ill-fated decision to plug in Pingu using only a plug adapter.  ZZZZZapoof.  In a moment of clarity, Jake asked, "Did you fry Pingu?"  I had to answer that we did.  Cue the tears for our faithful friend.

Luckily, we saw the Pediatrician on our street for a same day appointment and with a stethoscope he diagnosed what I suspected through previous experience, a pneumonia in the right lung.  Last time this happened, Jake ended up in hospital for IV fluids.  This time, we trundled home with instructions to stay home, start 10 days of antibiotics and buy a new nebulizer.  Settled at home with some of our supplies, I texted Mike an placed an order for some chicken soup and asked him to stop to pick up our "new Pingu".  God Bless dear Mike, here is what we got.

It Ain't Your Nonna's Recipe, Guarantee!

New Pingu Looks Like a Soviet Cell Block
With Thanksgiving on the way, our plans have obviously changed, but our humor about this new life away from the comforts of "home" will not.  When Jake asked what fried Pingu might taste like, I only had one answer……"tastes like chicken, of course."

"Or sushi,"  he replied.

Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to all!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Your Market, Get Set, Go!

It is mid-November and Christmas Market season is underway!  No Thanksgiving to butt into the Christmas frenzy here in Vienna.  We barely had a brush with Halloween.  I have the feeling that I'm losing friends on Facebook from posting one too many scenes of "Christmas in Austria".  So, if you clicked the link to the blog, that must mean you want to be here, in my personal Winter Wonderland.  Expect another Christmas Market post or two before December 25th, especially if there is some snow involved!

The somber Austrian mood lifts when the markets arrive in town.  In multiple locations around Vienna small wood huts are set up and open for business selling food (bread bowls of soup, candies and pastries, yum), drink (hot wine and spiked punch, double yum) along with Christmas ornaments, gifts and trinkets.  Large or small, strolling the markets is a darn good time.  We had the opportunity to hit some on their opening weekend with visiting family, my Mom and Aunt Barbara.  Their presence was an early Christmas gift for us.


Vintage Ornaments at Naschmarkt

Santa's Street Interview….Naughty or Nice?

The beauty of the St. Stephen's Market was enhanced by the full moon.

Drinking Hot Wine in Refillable Mugs
Table Top Skills
Rathhaus Market on Opening Night

Full Moon Over Snowman Tree

The lights are also going up around the Inner Stadt.  With the pedestrian shopping streets sparkling above and some hot wine in hand, I plan on doing some Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree.  Best wishes to all of you for happiness and good health during this Season of Joy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm A Bag Watcher

I've been considering this topic since summertime when I saw an elderly woman cross the street towards me.  She was wearing a floral snap-up house dress and sensible elderly woman shoes with black socks.

She was carrying a Prada shopping bag.

There was something about the sight that wasn't quite right.  "One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong" was my Sesame Street ear worm.

At that moment, I became a bag watcher.
Now, months later, I can't stop.

In Vienna, shopping bags are the necessary accessory.  Women and men will carry the extra "papier pouchette", in addition to the traditional purse, briefcase or backpack.  This is a dress code rule I've not yet adopted, but do enjoy taking note as I'm out and about.  Of course, on occasion,  these bags will represent an actual purchase.  More often than not, they are like the glove compartment in a car or a portable junk drawer.

At the risk of getting yelled at or worse, I deployed my Secret Squirrel skills and started surreptitiously checking out the contents of these bags (snapped a few pics too).  Typically, the bag contains some outerwear, shoes, newspaper or magazine and umbrella.  Sometimes a bottle of water, snack bag or fruit.  Utilitarian indeed.  Generally, women tend to go with the luxury or clothing brand bags and men tend to have Nespresso or "non-denominational" bag.  On rainy days, they go plastic.

Dolce & Gabbana and Daisy Dukes

Man Bag

The most amusing bag watching was on Halloween at the school sponsored "Trunk or Treat".  I spied an elementary school kid in costume collecting candy in a Louis Vuitton shopping bag.  Of course, I wanted to track down his Mom to see what LV she was carrying!

So, I've started my bag collection (yes friends, in addition to my purse collection), just in case I decide to join in.

I'm ready, rain or shine.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Welcome to Veniceland

We are back from a whirlwind trip to Venice during Fall Break.  It was exciting, beautiful, and delicious.  Ah....la dolce vita.
Land Ho!

A View to a Thrill

St. Mark's Basilica

Doge's Palace

House of God

Rialto Bridge

Gondola's for Hire

So why am I feeling sad in a happy kind of way?

I think it's because I learned that Venice is now an exterior shell.  The city's people, along with much of its heart and soul, have relocated elsewhere.  In fact, according to the tour guide we spent time with, there are only about 58,000 full time residents in a city that once boasted a residential population of 175,000 in the early 1950s.  Been to Disney?  Know how the Main Street is just a shuttered facade of joyful commercialism?  That is where Venice is headed.  Boutique hotels, restaurants and shops of all shapes and sizes now make up the "Main Street" where there were once Venetian families living life.  I've linked an interesting article on the topic in the side bar.  Ticket lines, huge cruise ships and crowds of tourists like us have changed the face of a city where St. Mark the Evangelist's remains were returned from Egypt, heralded by the construction of St. Mark's Basilica in the year 828, and when Venice became City of the Winged Lion.

The Rotterdam 

That being said, we adored Venice and hope to return.  If you go, put these two "must see" places on your list after making the typical tourist rounds:  The Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the island of Burano (yes, with a B).

Peggy Guggenheim, the socialite whose father went down with the Titanic, purchased the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in 1949.  It now houses her vast collection of modern art, from Surrealism to Cubism, as well as a modern sculpture garden.  She collected and exhibited Jackson Pollock before he was Jackson Pollock.  For several years she purchased "a picture a day" from the cutting edge of the modern art movement including, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Ernst, Picasso, Calder, Miro, and Dali and many more.   Even if modernism is not your thing, wandering the Palazzo and gardens captures the imagination of what it was like for Peggy to live in such a beautiful space from the 1950s until her death in 1979.

Alexander Calder "The Cow" 1970

Marino Marini "The Angel of the City" 1948

The view from Peggy's bedroom

Jackson Pollock "Circumcision" 1946

Man Ray "Peggy Guggenheim" 1925(?)

Rene Magritte "Empire of Light" 1953-1954

Pablo Picasso "On The Beach" 1937 (reportedly Peggy's favorite)

Robert Delaunay "Windows Open Simultaneously Part 1" 1912

A view through the jeweled gate to the sculpture garden

Spending our final day on Burano was a family highlight.  This colorful island remains one less travelled, a place where you can still see families walking together and children playing in the square.  While Murano is known for glass, Burano is known for textile and lace making families with histories dating back to the 15th century.  Of course, I shopped at Emilia Atelier and left with an embroidered linen tablecloth (thanks darling husband!) and a tour of the family's lace making museum.

Color Washed Canal

Colors of the Sun

Burano Under a Blue Sky

Even the Laundry is Photogenic

I cherish our dear boy's exclamation as we vaporettoed through the Grand Canal, "I'm proud to be in the land of my ancestors!"  Lucky for him, there are more ancestors and more lands to explore.  Ciao Venezia.