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Greetings from Vienna, #38

September 8th, 2004

 

In this issue:

 

Old Business

Some of you have not been able to see the Chinese characters of Tobias' name on the web version of newsletter #33. Doesn't everybody have the complete Chinese character set installed on their computer systems as a matter of course? :-) Ok, here is a graphic of "Xiao-Shan":
xiao-shan_chinese
I've also updated the archives page of Tobias' pictures to use the graphic. However, I've included Tobias' full Chinese name in Unicode at the bottom of that page.

 

Greetings from Vienna (New City)
Part the Thirty-Eighth: Which Box Is That In?

As you might have noticed, I'm off my newsletter schedule again. We are still surrounded by boxes, though there are more empty ones this week than last, so we're at least making progress. I've been working mostly on the outside of the house, laying out a walkway of concrete blocks—technically "Waschbeton", or "exposed aggregate concrete." The "aggregate", which is just a fancy word for "small rocks", is rounded but not so smooth as to be completely slippery when wet. Not only did I line the path in front of our living/bed-room, but I also continued it around the corner to our "front" door and on to the front door of Grandma Reißner, our ostensible neighbor:
IMG_5131_walkway_terrace_doors IMG_5130_walkway_from_oma
Here is a panoramic picture of the walkway, taken from the corner next to our front door:
cement_walkway_pano

Several of you commented on the "European" style of our new place. If this is because you don't see a real shower/tub combination in our bathroom, rest assured that we're working on it. We've actually purchased a new shower head (the other one tended to send out water sideways), a bar to attach it to, and a shower curtain. We're having to wait on the shower curtain rod because our tub is in a corner instead of a niche, which means that we have to figure out how to get the shower curtain to go around the corner, and how to support the rod from the ceiling. And while we've seen very cleverly constructed folding panels that can be erected around the perimeter of the tub, their cost is—for the moment—prohibitively high; so we'll have to consult the folks at the DIY stores and see what they recommend.

We've also been busy shopping for things like light fixtures, bath mats, garbage cans, etc.; the usual things one needs when one moves to a new place. And we still need a door for the living/bed-room. And door knobs. And we should paint (or stain) these doors and their frames. Did I mention that Karin would like to start her own garden? So there is quite a list of things to do, starting with getting all of our stuff out of boxes, the attic, the basement, the shed next to our part of the house, from under the piano, etc. All this has gotten more complicated with Tobias recently (see the next item), so it's taking a bit longer than we'd planned. We'll keep you posted, and definitely more pictures.

Happy Birthday To:
Mark Schlatter. At least I hope that it's your birthday, Mark, unless it's Lynn's, in which case, Happy Birthday Lynn.

All Through the Night
Tobias has started to sleep through the night. It's not consistent, but we enjoy it when it happens. On the flip side, he is suddenly being needy and doesn't like to be laid down unless he's dead-asleep. He also seems to want to eat more frequently during the day (which is expected when he's slept through the night); but now he has a tendency to eat a little, want someone (usually Karin) to "play" with him for awhile, and then exhibit all the usual signs of hunger. If we don't stick with his program, then we get some "extreme" crying. This new trick has added a magnitude of complications to the whole unpacking thing, as whoever has Tobias has only one effective hand, and often only half an effective ear (his cries are loud). And since Karin is still recovering from her cesarean section, her ability to lift things or work at awkward angles remains limited. Plus, Tobias seems somewhat less comfortable with me than he used to be, but we think this is true for everyone other than Karin.

All this adds up to us squeezing all non-Tobias activities into those small blocks of time where: a) he's asleep or at least quiet, b) we're not exhausted from trying to get him to quiet down or sleep, and c) when things like stores and city offices are open. All this in a place where a grocery store being open until 8 p.m. is a big deal, and you can't shop on Sundays. Sigh.

Other than that, life with Tobias is great. And I don't mean for that to be sarcastic in any way. While Tobias is a source of significant time management issues, we're enjoying him immensely. He is now shaped much more like my idea of a "baby", but he remains small enough to attract attention everywhere we go. Being back in her home town means that Karin sees many familiar faces when we are out and about, but we also get attention from other parents, cashiers, and random people who just happen to pass by our shopping cart and see Tobias. And of course, he is the cutest baby in the world, so we should just keep expecting this. :-)

A Visit by the Family Sigmund
We've had our first non-familial visitor to the new house. The female four-fifths of the family Sigmund came by this morning (Wednesday) to see Tobias and the house (in that order). Some of you might recall that we had a house concert at the Sigmunds back in May (see issue #21). They'd promised a return visit and so here they were. Here is a picture of them checking out Tobias:
IMG_5132_marcellaS_chiaraS_fionaS_Teresa_Schön_fabiolaS_tobiasXSL_karinLN

Aside from the three Sigmund girls—Chiara, Fabiola and Fiona—they brought along Teresa, who happens to be one of Karin's former pupils. Of course, the girls all wanted to hold Tobias and touch him, so we had to accommodate them on the only piece of furniture we have that was big enough for all of them: the bed:
IMG_5135_fabiolaS_teresaS_tobiasXSL_fionaS_chiaraS
After they've all had a chance, the girls were kind enough to pose for a group photo:
IMG_5138_teresaS_fionaS_tobiasXSL_chiaraS_fabiolaS
I've already warned Tobias that he's not going to get attention from four girls at the same time all his life. :-)

More pictures of Tobias and the visit can be seen at: http://www.meteorplum.com/Tobias/Tobias_01.06.html

The Sigmunds also brought a gift for Tobias:
IMG_5140_tobiasXSL_big_jacket_closed
We expect him to grow into it.

More German Expressions
In German, someone who is not good with their hands has "two left hands". I've been trying to think of an equivalent expression in English, but can only come up with "ham-fisted" or "ham-handed", which is not quite the same idea.

German speakers use the word "blue" to indicate that someone is drunk. This makes no sense to me, as drinking turns most people (and especially me) red, except those who turn into six-foot tall pink rabbits named Harvey, but that's a different story. This is doubly perplexing as the traditional association with blue is of purity; e.g. the Virgin Mary is often depicted as being clad in blue.

You know, it's like a whole 'nother language. Go figure.

 

That's all for now. Until next week (ur, Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? I have no idea when).

Bis Bald,
Tschüß
-Paul

 

 

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