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In this issue:
Who's Birthday Is It, Anyway?
One my birthday greetings went to the correct family, but the wrong person. A very big "mea culpa" to Rev. Shannon Kimball-Auth, who had her birthday last week. Her husband Michael isn't due for a birthday until December.
Links from Heck
I also need to apologize for all the bad links in the email version of the last newsletter. All of the aquarium picture links I provided last week were missing an important directory, so they would've all failed. Since I did get too many emails complaining about dead links, I'm hoping it means that most of you are reading the web version of the newsletter, which worked just fine. Either that or you're not reading the newsletter at all, or are skipping the pictures. If it's the latter two reasons, please don't tell me. :-)
The Name Game
Congratulations to Andy Arenson (to whom we will never knowingly serve zucchini) for being the first person to submit guesses for the name of our baby. His prize is this mention of his name in the newsletter. You, too, can get your name into the newsletter, even if you never have a birthday (I know several people who have sworn off of birthdays forever) announcement.
I write this on Tuesday afternoon, after several days of rather cool weather (15-20 degrees Centigrade), and a very intense—but short—storm. Since I need to be on my way to the internet cafe very soon, this newsletter will be long on pictures and short on text. So lets get to it.
I've shown Karin how to use my camera in the waterproof case, which might've been a bad idea, as these pictures are the results:
These, of course, came from the latest birthing class session at the spa. Karin claims that my hair makes me look like a hedgehog when I'm floating in the water. Luckily, we had a hedgehog sighting that even at my in-laws' house:
Comments about my resemblance (or lack thereof) to said hedgehogs should be sent to me or Karin. We'll put the best comments in the next newsletter.
We actually spent half of last week in Wiener Neustadt. We had a birthing class, Karin had an appointment, there was a coffee/dinner invitation at the home of the Hecher family (parents of Sophie, one of Karin's "recorder tweenies"), and Karin's folks hosted a small birthday party for Karin. You've already seen the birthing class pictures, but I didn't take pictures at any of the parties. Must've been sick. For her birthday, Karin had an "un-request": no candy. So instead of the usual chocolates, Karin got fruits and vegetables, some of which came from the various family gardens. We are now knee-deep in fruit salad ingredients, which pleases Karin to no end. However, we did get one special gift from Petra Hecher:
The ladybug is a lucky symbol in Austria (not sure if this also goes for southern Germany), and this particular ladybug is destined for the new house. So a very big Thank You to Petra.
We have windows! A very big truck dropped off four sets of windows and a pair of patio doors on Wednesday, just before lunch (picture of truck omitted as I couldn't get a shot of the window company logo on the truck):
That afternoon, a pair of profession installers came and put in everything:
Excepting for having to scrap out a bit of concrete on the window frame to get the unit to fit, the installation went very smoothly. You can get a better view of the new windows here:
The unit at the top of the frame holds the integrated shutters and insect screens. The shutters are controlled by cords on the inside, and the screens by the tabs just above the window openings. People who want geeky details should check out Gaulhofer's site at "http://www.gaulhofer.com" Tell them I sent you (better yet, my father-in-law Rudolf Reißner) and maybe we'll get some sort of commission. :-)
As I mentioned last week, the next big item (after the windows) is the bathroom. So I was not surprised when I returned to Fischauer Gasse to find this:
Apologies if this looks like I've run my picture through the "Picasso" plug-in in PhotoShop. The most important thing to note is that there is are steel-framed walls on the right, which is the new bathroom. Here is a less disorienting picture of just the bathroom, with "green board" up on a couple of walls and the tub cemented into place:
Here is a close-up of the tub itself:
The yellow stuff under the tub is fiberglass batting, crucial for letting us have baths that last longer than five minutes without having the water freeze up. The white slabs on the side are some sort of insulating concrete, which has about a quarter the density of regular cement, and can be worked with a saw or hand chisel.
I haven't heard from my father-in-law about working this week, which probably means that he's putting in the heating (radiators and the water heater). Hope to have at least a pictorial house update for next week.
As I said, a newsletter with few words and many pictures. Next week, a discussion of driving in Austria, honest.
 " 'Picasso' plug-in in PhotoShop": Adobe PhotoShop is the grandfather of PC graphics applications. "Plug-ins" are software additions which adds features to applications like PhotoShop. Other "plug-ins" can make an image look like a pencil sketch, water-color, even Pointillist-like.
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