Easter at the in-laws

As every year, my mother-in-law cooked a Sunday lunch for us this Easter. Only difference this year was, I wasn’t her only American guest this year. Gordon and Pat were on their best behavior, Helene was totally charmed and Karl spent nearly an hour telling Pat stories about his childhood in WWII and fishing with salvaged hand grenades despite the fact that Pat speaks very little German and kept trying to answer in Dutch, much to everyone’s amusement.

Helene cooked a noodle soup and schnitzels with some sort of green salad made with early greens her friend had grown in her garden, and a potato salad. Karl served the men beer.

Except for Gamma announcing during lunch that she had stuck a tiny (doll-sized) pink Barbie comb up her butt, and showing us the comb (which I then washed, just to be safe, although I think she had merely put it down her pants) things were fairly civilized the entire time. We listened to the Pope try to give his annual “Urbis et orbi” blessing on television, and Gordon explained what “urbis et orbi” meant, which the Austrians already knew, but they didn’t tell him that, although they did discuss it among themselves in German. The Pope wasn’t looking too good.

We had coffee and cake – Helene had baked Alpha a birthday cake 3 days early – her birthday is on 3 April. She baked a Sachertorte. I kept trying to think of a Sacher-Masochtorte joke, but with the Pope giving his blessings in the background I finally abandoned the idea.

After that I sort of lost sight of everyone for a while, because although it was a beautiful sunny day, Gamma wanted to watch a video of “The Frog King” she had recently received (maybe even for Easter) so I went upstairs with her to set it up for her. It was a Czech production – there were for some reason tons of fairy tales filmed in Czechoslovakia and for all I know they’re still being filmed in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. This one was, oddly, in German with German and Austrian actors, which I guess is perhaps not that odd considering the size of the German market…

Now it’s 9 at night and I’m still full from lunch.

How to keep children busy

Tell them two more easter eggs are hidden in the yard than are actually hidden. This buys you time for a cup of coffee in peace until they figure it out.

Off to Easter lunch at the in-laws. Happy Easter!

Golden day

For getting off to such an unusual start, today sure shaped up into a brilliant day. Bright and sunny, warm and cloudless. I was in no mood to drive anywhere, so I gave Space and Pat the keys to the car and let them drive the girls back into Vienna. That was before lunch, after we finished the eggs.

They’re still not back yet, and I haven’t heard anything from them, which I suppose is a good sign – if they’d been in a terrible accident, the police would have called.

But we had a great day, sitting around in the back yard most of the time. Carried the picnic table and lawn chairs out of the cellar with Alpha. Beta had her first rowing practice of the season. Couldn’t row very much, though, because the stream was too full of debris from the flood, and the Danube is still too high.

Gamma got pretty tired pretty early from all the fresh air, and fell asleep quite easily, despite no Dutch tonight. Beta had an excellent idea – she told her little sister that the earlier she went to sleep, the earlier she could get up to hunt easter eggs.

One last weird thing: I’ve lived in this house now for 9 years, and almost never get phone calls. Today, both Space and Pat got calls while they were out, Space from Tonia or Tanya or whatever her name is, Pat from the Filipino guy.

Anyway. Happy Easter if I don’t post anything tomorrow.

Major headache

They all think I’m taking a shower, I’ll keep this as short as possible: two young women from Iowa, Tanya and Chris, are boiling eggs in my kitchen. Chronologically: Went to see the library at the Melk Monastery yesterday. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house up the very scenic Danube valley. Fortunately for Pat, yesterday was a big fasting day in Austria because of Good Friday, so it wasn’t hard to find vegetarian entrees to eat. Unfortunately for Pat, the access road to the library was closed for repairs due to flood damage, but we enjoyed the outing. Some Dutch tourists asked us for directions at one point, and Pat ended up trying to record them with his tape recorder.

And he keeps saying, “Kruuuuugerstrassssse” in what he thinks is a funny accent.

And Alpha has started saying what a nice guy Space is, and how he is more cultured than your average American. And so polite. And Pat is so good with the kids, especially Gamma. Scheesch. Kruuugerstrassse.
And these two are costing me a bundle in telephone charges. It’s hard to keep them off the Internet whenever we’re home. Have to go out more.

In the evening we went to the Irish pub in Vienna, “Paddy’s Singing Irish Pub”. Space and the two Iowan coeds we met the day before talked incessantly of Iowa, comparing Vienna to Iowa. “But in Iowa it’s like this…” “Yes, but in Vienna the beer’s better…” etc etc. Iowa this, Iowa that. What could I do but drink? After a while, I had Jameson’s with my Guinness, big mistake.

Pat, meanwhile, met a Filipino guy I vaguely knew from the U.N. and talked to him for a while.

The music was good, I had more beer. Then I woke up in my bed this morning, went down to the kitchen in my pyjamas and everyone is already awake and giving me funny looks… Tomorrow is Easter. Beta is 12, so she is going to confirmation class at church. This being Easter week, she’s quite busy with church stuff nearly every day. Sunday, Easter, big day. Beta – without asking us – volunteered to color twenty dozen eggs. So that’s what they’re doing in the kitchen right now. Instead of getting upset over I’m still not sure exactly what, Alpha put four young American strangers to work hard-boiling and coloring 240 eggs in our kitchen. I admire her approach. More later, time for a shower and more coffee.

Mixed results

Turns out the Vienna Art History Museum was closed today, sorry Pat. Luckily Pat is an agreeable sort. He didn’t mind that the hotdog stand had no vegetarian options, either, because he met an Austrian blogger, Lisi, by talking to her in Dutch, which she found amusing, I hope, although I would have found it frightening in her shoes. Luckily the Natural History Museum across from the Art History Museum was open and we went and looked at mummies for a while before walking around. Mummies were used in medicine in the renaissance, and there was a big market for them, leading to the production of counterfeit mummies.

One funny thing, for me, about hanging out with young single guys is meeting chicks again. Some Iowan university has an exchange program in Vienna – I met a bunch of those people when I was a student here 20 years ago – and Space met two Iowan women today as well and spent the rest of the day comparing Vienna to Iowa, which was funny. Tomorrow we’re meeting them again at an Irish pub.

Just a thought

Another thing I never expected as a child is that, when I grew up, librarians and linguists would not only be cool, but would also rule the world. Yet now, look: what is google.com but a librarian and a linguist combined? And not only that, it turns out librarians will babysit your children (sorry about that) and a linguist is able to make Gamma sleep by speaking Dutch to her. Now if I could only prevent librarians from drinking my best single malt whiskey.

Today’s plan

We’re leaving in a few minutes for a stroll through Vienna. Pat really wants to see a certain picture at the Art History museum, so we’ll go there. Then, look at St. Stephen’s Cathedral or something in the inner city.