We have been laggardly in our blog posting, with our last one being posted at the end of November as Vienna was getting ready for Christmas. Well, Christmas has come and gone, as has New Year's Eve. We are muddling through a mostly bland, gray, rainy winter with just the day-to-day stuff of life going on.
So, I'll recount the holidays, which may be interesting just because they are a little different, and thus exotic, on the banks of the Danube.
We purchased a slightly smaller tree this year from the guy down the street, decorated it Christmas Eve day, and spent some time wandering through the chilly streets to pick up some last-minute gifts at the Christmas markets. Buying Christmas trees here feels more like renting them, because when the holidays are over, you take the tree back to the place you bought it and give it back. They dispose of it.
|Keir at Rathaus Market|
I'm glad we bought a slightly smaller tree this year.
|Twas the night before Christmas . . .|
|Keir and the Tree|
The actor in our family is Dylan, who once played a toy soldier for a Mannheim Steamroller concert. I tried to channel his experience, but failed. I read from the Golden Book as St. Nick and did the Ho Ho Ho thing and handed out gifts at the Christmas lunch (I was hoping for scotch, but instead was paid with a bottle of Sour Cherry Liqueur).
At a dinner a few nights later, a Russian couple who'd attended the lunch discovered that I had been Santa and offered this review: "Santa was very quiet." My immediate thought was, "What do Russians know about Santa?," but I just told them that Santa didn't want to scare the kids.
|Frost on the Woods|
Keir and I were returning from his school on the edge of the Vienna Woods after the cold weather arrived and saw the woods and the vineyards covered in frost. It was beautiful.
|The IIASA Schloss|
We often write about the Viennese being rude and reserved, especially the older ones, but there was evidence of change last month. As we walked through a market we came upon a bunch of what I assume to be younger Viennese. Literally a bunch. We're not sure what they were doing, but how rude can you be when you're dressed as a banana?
Misti and I spent New Year's Eve at our apartment, being boring. But at the appointed hour, we leaned out the window and watched fireworks in every direction. People were shouting, honking horns, all of the usual stuff. It was actually very entertaining, and it beat being assaulted by a troll pick pocket as happened last year. Keir was out being rowdy with his friends and made it back before sunrise.
When I repeated that as part of this krav maga drill, the instructor stopped me and said I must back away after breaking free and that I couldn't hit my attacker. "Why not?" was my response. "Because it is illegal in Austria to strike somebody before you have asked them to stop and warn them that you will hit them if they don't," the instructor said. "If you hit them, legally the violence will be your fault and you will have to pay the fine."
"You're kidding," I said. He wasn't, he said. I'm still sorting out what that means. But the class is fun.
Keir has applied to a bunch of colleges in the US and we are entering the "what are we going to be doing next year" phase. If my contract is extended, Misti and I might stay, but that is up in the air. We are both old enough that it will likely be difficult to find full-time work with benefits in the US, so we might not have the luxury of deciding to come home. But a contract extension here is not a sure thing either, so we are living, as we have in recent times, in a sort of unattached way ... floating on the surface so we can quickly move in any direction with the currents.
Keir put together a photo portfolio for his college admissions process, so we spent some time out shooting pictures. This one is of Keir at the Globe Museum Misti and I visited when we first arrived. In this picture, Keir is in the ornate hallway leading into the museum. I've also included one of my shots of globes of Venus.
|Keir at the Globe Museum|
|Venus x 5|
That all sounds exotic, but we've now become so accustomed to living here that running off to Budapest for the weekend sounds sort of normal.
Finally, for my friends who I misspent my youth with in Germany, I've included a few of the cars I've come upon that you don't see much in the States.