Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boys and their Toys

Pascal got a pirate ship for Christmas. It was something he really, really wanted for a long time: "Ich habe so lange darauf gewartet" sagt Pascal. The pirate ship is pretty neat, and is lots of fun to play with, even for bigger boys like me. We went to the old Bibliotech Saturday, and there above us on the ceiling mural was a picture of a man with a model ship. It reminded me of Pascal's ship. Boys and their toys, right? Many things never change.

Weihnachts Bilder

Schnee Fun

After two days of snow we went to play in Stadtpark. We even tried out a sled, although the snow was pretty thin (about 4 inches), nonetheless we had some near accidents (Tessa and Pascal) and everyone had fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

SNOW richtig Schnee!! (for Tessa)

Tessa is here!!!! And it's been slowly, but steadily snowing for the past 2 days. This Sunday morning we have a nice 4 inch layer of snow covering the sidewalks, parked cars, trees and rooftops. Yesterday we took the sled out to Stadtpark, and played in the snow. In the morning Anika was narrating a cellphone video tour of the apartment, Pascal was taking pictures of everything and everyone, and Tessa was setting up a photo shoot by the window in her room. I was videotaping the videographers and photographers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Krampus and St. Nikolaus

As part of our Bauernhof vacation we got to partake in a traditional visit from Krampus and St. Nikolaus. St. Nikolaus is not exactly Santa, but he is a good guy; whereas Krampus (spoken like 'Grampus') is almost devilish, and is the bad guy.

So the two come on the first Advent to visit the children. St. Nikolaus is dressed in white, wears a bishop's hat and a long white beard. He reads from a golden book all the good deeds, and bad deeds of the children. Krampus rattles a black bell, and threatens the children with a rough broom, when he hears about the bad deeds. Krampus is (and his minions) covered in black fur, draped with chains, and has a devilish face with horns. The head Grampus has four huge horns, two spiral curved horns, and two 'L' shaped horns. These masks are carved from wood and are very heavy.

So St. Nikolaus and Krampus knock on the farmhouse door and are led into the kitchen where the children and parents sit.

St. Nikolaus begins to read about each child from his book, and the three Krampus's crowd and shuffle around the kitchen while twitching their rough brooms and rattling their rough bells. Krampus makes quite an impression on the kids, and some are near tears when St. Nikolaus starts reading about their bad deeds.

Pascal, on the other hand, is smiling like crazy; he is absolutely loving the Krampus. He giggles when they threaten with their brooms.

After St. Nikolaus finishes reading from his book, he and the Krampus are offered snacks, beer and schnaps! The Krampus's take off their heavy masks, and show themselves to be 20 something year-old young men. It's probably pretty easy to find recruits for the job of Krampus, considering all you have to do is carry a heavy mask, grunt, shuffle,threaten and then drink a beer at every house you visit!

So while the one Krampus with the two big black bells around his waist is sipping his beer, Pascal sneaks up behind him trying to rattle the bells. He does it a couple of times before the other Krampus' playfully threaten to stuff him in their basket to take him away with them. Pascal certainly showed himself to be one of them in spirit!

After the snacks and drinks St. Nikolaus and the Krampus leave the house into the night. Outside is their ride: an open trailer with a roasting fire in a drum, all pulled by a rumbling tractor. The Krampus' climb in and begin to tend the fire. As the tractor pulls away into the pitch dark night, the Krampus shoot blazing red flares into the black sky.

Wow. All I can say is wow.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Urlaub im Bauernhof

Vacation!! Spent three nights on a farm in the southern mountains (Steiermarkt) from Wien. Boy was it a relaxing change from the hustle and bustle of the city. We helped the farmers with the cows, kittens, goats, bunnies, chickens and dog. Anika loved chasing the kittens around the barn, petting the calves, feeding the cows, collecting eggs, and generally running around the barn, hopping in the hay, and getting really, really dirty. There was also an 8 year old girl (sarah, the farmers daughter) for Ani to play with. They had lots of fun. The farmers, themselves were really, really nice, down to earth, not complicated, and intelligent too. We learned a lot about what it takes to run a dairy farm. It's not such bad work taking care of the animals, except you have to do it everyday, once around 5:30am and again around 4:30pm. Everything else around the farms gets done in between. We even got to watch one of the cows get "artificially inseminated." Not a sight for the squeamish, but the cow didn't seem to be bothered at all by the whole procedure.

The other crazy thing about a farm is the smell. Just walking around the barn your clothes and hair get impregnated with the cow/chicken/hay smell. You need a separate set of clothes for the barn, and thankfully the farmers had extra jackets and boots for Anika and Pascal.

We had so much fun, we're pretty sure we'll go there again in the summer or fall, then we can take the cows out to the pasture, and maybe even ride some horses or ponies.

More Still Life Paintings

Austermann im Winterkleidung

1. Beanie with feather 2. Scarf (mandatory) 3. Quilted jacket over a soccer jersey 4. Shiny leather gloves 5. Walking stick/skipole 6. Lederhosen 7. Soccer training pants 8. Animal fur covered wooden stool 9. Hiking boots --- He's AustroKool!!!


The austrians say, "Passt" for a lot of things. It means, good enough, alright, o.k. My cousin in Germany gave me the idea for the drawing. He sent me a bavarian saying, about a carpenter who makes a custom chair for a client: "Passt, sitzt, hat Luft, wackelt und faellt knapp rein" which if I get this right means: Passt - it's a seat, with lots of air, wobbles and practically falls apart.