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Greetings from Vienna, #24

June 1st, 2004


In this Issue:


Old Business

Coming Clean[1eng]
So remember in the last issue where I had this picture:
which I claimed was a tank for cleaning fluid? Well, there was mistranslation on my part. It contains plaster, which is "Putz" in German. As the German for "to clean" is "putzen", you can see where the mix-up happened. My sincere apologies to anyone who read the last issue and then tried to order cleaning fluid to be delivered in a large tank.


Greetings from Vienna
Part the Twenty-Fourth: Rain, Rain, Go Away[2eng]

It's been raining. Not every day, and not very hard, but it seems like I've gotten rained on every time we work on the house. As I write this, I'm ensconced at my in-law's house, warm and relatively dry, having spent the morning chipping away more concrete and then hauling the dross to the wagon in the rain. The temperature keeps vacillating between the low teens and low twenties (low fifties to high sixties Fahrenheit) without seeming to dwell in any of the intermediate values. Over the weekend (before the previous newsletter) we even got a short hail/snow storm.

(Musical aside: Am listening to an Austrian "oldies" station, and a German version of "The City of New Orleans" is playing, with a femal chorus doing "la-la-la's" in the bridge, trumpets, and a harmonica. Earlier, I heard a country version of "Mona Lisa", which sounded like Willie Nelson was singing.)

Fast forward to Tuesday. The rain was mostly gone by Saturday morning, and we had a warm Sunday and Monday. But today, it's cooled off again. We've heard and seen swallows, which Karin claims is a sign that Winter is definitely gone. I shall withhold judgment until the days start to stay warm.

We've had a long weekend, though I'd quite forgotten that it was Memorial Day weekend back in the States until I read news stories about gas prices. Here, it was Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, and schools are also off today. Karin did go teach today, but that's because one set of her students are having their class concert on Saturday, and wouldn't get another lesson in time.

Baby Update
I've received a number of requests for Karin's feelings on the pregnancy. Karin would like to thank all of you for your concern, and adds that she will be happy to send her own updates once she is done with the tests and concerts for herself and her students. She should be all finished by the first week of July, so look for her reports starting around issue #29.

In the meantime, I can tell you that we've been attending birthing classes with our midwife. So far, it's all been informational, starting with diagrams and a stuffed fetus and pelvis. We've also gotten an overview of diaper options, clothing, baby carrying devices, and other sundry equipment that seems to be spontaneously showing up, courtesy of family, friends, and even neighbors. Karin has opted for the water birth, which means that we'll be going to a spa in two weeks for our first "wet" lesson. Before then, we'll get to see a video. As for the other birth preparation exercises, that should also be coming in the weeks ahead, though Karin feels confident that her training as a recorder player should give her a head start on knowing how to breath correctly.

House Update
The rain has put a damper[3eng] on some of the work on the house, in particular the cementing over of exposed brickwork. At least we're not digging ditches any more. We've removed the tractor shed doors, as you can see here:
and have started on some interior work. We're going to be putting in a concrete sub-floor, which I gathered when I saw this in the yard:
However, we're first putting down some sort of foam sub-sub-floor, which would explain this:

Between my last two trips to the house, my father-in-law has graded the gravel in both of the rooms in preparation for this next step:
IMG_4656_living_room kitchen_window_hole_pano
So this past week, as we waited out the rain, we started on the foam. First, a layer of sheet plastic on top of the gravel (the drab green stuff in the above picture), which I take to be the vapor barrier[4]. The sheets of styrofoam went on next, but we stopped before getting the kitchen/bath completely finished:

You can see that we've left the part where lots of measuring and cutting needs to happen. Part of the problem is that this room isn't square. There is something like a 3.5 degree angle along the right hand wall, which makes the wall closest to the camera something like 35 cm wider than the far wall (where the window goes). The other problem is that the foam will also need to fit around the plumbing for the bathtub and toilet, which are both along the right hand wall. I'm guessing that my father-in-law will get this done before I come back this week, but if not, I'll have a full report next week.

From what I understand, the next step is to install the pipes for the heating (hot water based radiators below the various windows). From where we've bored more holes through the walls, it seems like we'll be embedding at least some of these pipes into the concrete sub-floor. Now, this doesn't make much sense to me; but then I'm used to American building codes, and so have no idea what's considered "best practice". And speaking of building codes and such, I've received some questions about permits for all the work we're doing. From what my father-in-laws tells me (hopefully without serious translation errors), the kind of work we're doing doesn't require a permit in advance.[5] At some point, when we're more finished, some sort of inspector will come by and make sure that we haven't done anything too crazy. When and how many times this happens? I have no idea. I'm going to let my father-in-law do all the talking.

Now a bit of demolition related oddity. The workshop next to the kitchen/bath, which will be our future, covered patio seems to attract big bumble-bees. We've noticed this for the last couple of months while working on the house, but didn't much of it. Karin's grandmother has an extensive vegetable garden, and bees are gardeners' friends. As part of the preparation for installing the foam, my father-in-law and I had to move a tool cabinet out of the way so we can work on the bathroom window we cut in the wall behind it. As we moved the cabinet, we discovered this:
IMG_4681_beehive IMG_4682_beehive_detail

It's a beehive. Now we know why we had bees hanging around. At the moment, we've left it alone, but we'll soon need to work in that space. The current plan is to move it into a sack or a box, then "transplant" to one of the less used sheds near the garden. Wish us luck.


Until next week.

Bis Bald,
- Paul



[1] "Coming Clean": An English expression meaning "to divulge completely; to tell everything", usually implying that the person "coming clean" was previously not telling everything.

[2] "Rain, Rain, Go Away": An English nursery rhyme, of which the short version concludes with "Come again another day,/Little Johnny wants to play." You can see the long version at: "" The verse "Rain, rain, go to Germany,/And remain there permanently." seems apropos.

[3] "Put a damper": English expression meaning "to halt" or "depress" something.

[4] "Vapor barrier": English construction term for anything designed to keep moisture from going through it. Usually, it's plastic or rubber sheets, though it could also be a spray-on foam.

[5] "Building permit": For larger projects, such as adding new rooms, plans do have to be submitted in advance. I guess what we are doing is sufficiently limited in nature to get away with just final inspection.



Except where otherwise noted, all contents © 2004, Paul T.S. Lee.
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