Aunt Do

As a faithful follower of my blog, you are already familiar with me mentioning “Aunt Do” occasionally. And as you know, I sometimes like to take a trip back memory lane. Cause … memories is all I have left. Many, many memories.

I had great role models in my childhood, teen years and adult life. And Aunt Do was one of them. My aunt, my confidante, my friend. 53 years separated us. But she was the one I could talk to about anything. My sorrows, my joys. One of her favourite expressions was “One never stops learning.” And she never did. She was up-to-date through her interest in anything.

She influenced all of us. Starting with my father and his siblings, who used to live in the same house as her and her late husband Wolfgang. With the three kids spending more time with them than at home. I still remember one story my father used to best describe Uncle Wolfgang and his fine sense of humour, who I never was fortunate enough to meet. My father was supposed to write a quick summary of “The cavalier of the rose” (by Richard Strauß) in his teens with his help. Well, the tutoring session turned out quite differently than planned, a little too cheerfully, enjoying the one or other Gösser Beer. Coming up with the brilliant one-sentence-summary of “She, the old one, loves a young one”. Summing it up perfectly. Of course, my father’s parents were less than thrilled … But. This is the kind of couple they were. Modern, loving, liberal, witty, elegant in mind and style.

My Mum stepped into her life later, they went to driving school together and spent many lunch breaks together. Becoming involved into each other’s lives more and more, including my mother’s sister, my grandparents, my sister. Interwoven forever. Till the end.

And me. I learned so much from her. We all did. The way she wrote letters … funny, heart-warming, intelligently witty. The way she used calendar sheets for messages and as wrapping paper. The way she threw parties, all of us squished together around the large table on the corner bench, piles of food wonderfully prepared and decorated with love. The way she had afternoon tea. The way she talked about her late husband, his family and the past. Just the way she was …

For a few years during my student life we lived together in the same house. She moving down one floor, me moving into a smaller part of the renovated apartment she used to live in with Uncle Wolfgang before his death and her move across the hallway. And for me, this also meant “Back to the Roots” because my father grew up in an apartment of exactly the same 19thcentury house I had moved into. Thinking back, those probably were some of my happiest student years. It might have cost me some of my studying time, but my time with Aunt Do can’t be taken away. Memories I treasure, making me smile. All those little rituals we had … not one day passed when I didn’t look in on her and her cute Beagle Xavi. In the morning when getting the mail, in the evening when returning from uni or work. Often having dinner together. Thursday was “Braunschweiger Day”. (A certain kind of sausage, which on Thursdays was fresh and warm.) So, Xavi and I headed to the butcher to get fresh bread and the sausages and hurried home to Aunt Do to enjoy it. Oh yes, Xavi too. He loved Braunschweiger!

Saturday morning was grocery shopping day! Always lots of fun, ending with me walking Xavi again while she was cooking. My favourite? “Knuspernudeln”. Basically, pasta grilled in a pan with butter to make them a bit crispy with veggies.

Sundays, we sometimes went to visit her cousin Hella a 20-minute drive away to go out for lunch. Well, a girl in her twenties and two lovely elderly ladies … boring, right? WRONG!

Aunt Do was not a blood relative, but family. And that’s what family is all about. People who care and love each other. She was part of us as we were part of her. And I miss her dearly. The pain has gone now and what’s left is the gratitude that she was such an integral part of my life. And I just know, that like my parents, she is up there somewhere, smiling down at me and watching over me. And when the beer sun rises … so will all of you with a glass of Gösser.

Thanks, Aunt Do! For all those memories and your huge impact you had on all of our lives! Never forgotten!

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Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer, nanana na nana na

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This year I’m in full decoration mode … as in actually having an advent wreath (with beautiful fake red berries, fir twigs and a candle) and an advent calendar again. Awesome, right? It’s the first time in years I’m looking forward to Christmas. Am still not the world’s greatest lover of Christmas, Christmas markets and Christmas songs and all that stuff. And I refuse to buy special wrapping paper when I still have ordinary ones and calendar sheets at home … But at least we managed to get a tree yesterday. 159 cm. A bit larger than my sweetheart wanted. But he let me choose and I think I picked a gorgeous, well grown tree. My dad and my uncle, who were very critical and finicky when it came to Christmas trees – size, slenderness and straightness were big criterions – would have been proud of me. And lucky as I am, I won’t even have to decorate it because my sweetheart’s girls will take over this task gladly.

In terms of bringing some British customs into our lives we made two plum puddings – one we’ve already extinguished (after all we needed to test drive our first plum pudding experiment, drowning it in a little too much rum for the flambé) and one we’re saving up for the big family party. Hopefully not turned mouldy …

Darn, alright, I admit it! Not that exciting! And right now, I don’t have a single clue what else to write about Christmas, Christmas decorations and my Christmas decorations. Since that’s basically it. And I also have to admit that my mind is completely elsewhere at the moment with the big move coming up in a few weeks, the Austria vacation just behind me and packing and chaos in front of me. (Don’t worry, will keep you posted on THAT as well!) Which leaves me with a short, a very, very short article for this week and I hope you’ll forgive me!

I wish you all a very happy Christmas, with lots of fun, some melancholy to think of the ones we miss dearly and plenty of relaxation (I know, not easy with all those family visiting obligations). Enjoy this time, as will I in my new life.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Yours, MJ

 

Hollariodiriö in Tyrol, griaß eich und pfiat Gott

Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch! The pain is indescribable! Every single muscle in my upper and lower thighs is sore, my knees feel as bad and I can hardly move. Taking the stairs is an unthinkable concept and I drag myself around as best as I can. BUT … I survived my first couple of days on the slopes.

This is my first skiing vacation. A real skiing vacation. I mean, who needs a skiing vacation when he grows up close to the mountains, being able to just go there to ski after school or work? Exactly, we had seasonal tickets for the slopes. And après ski meant eating sandwiches and drinking lukewarm rosehip tea in the car after skiing … So, my imagination of a skiing vacation was staying at a nice 4-star hotel and enjoying après ski fun every day after returning from the slopes. Warming up frozen feet at the open fire with Jagatee and hot chocolate with rum.

Well, we managed the 4-star hotel, the après ski fun not so much since we both are too sore and dead on our feet after a couple of hours hitting the slopes. But it’s only day 2, so there’s still hope.

My sweetie and I – plus Rangey – totally lucked out. The day we arrived it started snowing heavily so that we don’t have to endure a mere three open slopes, surrounded by green hills and mountains. In fact, if we hadn’t been the first at all in the season we would have had the whole skiing area with 145km of skiing fun at our disposal. Now we just have about half of it (and a tiny wee bit less, like … 5 slopes for our preferred blue ones). We were lucky to even catch a skiing instructor for a couple of hours and one of the rental shops was open to get our equipment. Just imagine … being in the middle of the snowy Tyrolean alps, not being able to ski because nothing is open yet. Our skiing instructor we had hired for 2 hours? A British guy! Imagine that! I’m speechless!

Skiing vacation in a mountain village is exactly how you would expect it. Not a single cliché is not fulfilled. The hotel is homey with lots of wood, traditional style interior and furniture. The receptionist welcomed us in heavy Tyrolean dialect, dressed in a Dirndl (of course), the rest of the crew heartily greeting us with a “Servus” whenever we appear. The half-board food is good, uninspiring, but of good quality with the one or other Austrian speciality mixed in. (Still waiting for my Schnitzel or Käsespätzle, though.) The music far from. Slowly but steadily we’re going crazy being hammered with good old German 60s songs and Austrian folk music, preferably in Tyrolean dialect as well. Wherever we go. The hotel, the shops, the catered alm huts, even the cableway and lift stations. It’s awful. Horrible. Mind numbing. And so typical and unavoidable. We just have to endure it and drown our sorrows. At least at dinner.

All in all, it’s great! Rangey enjoys the snow and the steep mountain roads, we enjoy the food and the skiing. But all of us are certain of one thing: that 5 days is more than enough traditional Austrian mountain lifestyle for us. Looking forward to return to civilised life.

 

Vacation coming up

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Finally! Finally, finally, finally! Vacation is coming up! Yes, I can imagine your reaction, which basically is you yelling at me, “What? AGAIN? Your last one was only a few weeks back!”

Yes, again! How unfortunate that we have to take our vacation days until the end of the year … and time is running out. So, poor me has to take off a couple of weeks before Christmas to enjoy some pre-Christmas holidays. Now, how am I going to spend my vacation? Staying home, enjoying my vast apartment? Reading, drinking tea in my library corner, relaxing on one of my sofas, comfy chairs or recamiere? Shopping? (After all, this year I actually have to get some Christmas shopping done!) Darn, you are so right! Of course I have already got together everything for everyone, even wrapped up. I’m so transparent. Last day panic shopping will never ever happen to me.

So, no, I will not spend my vacation shopping … well, maybe for some groceries, because – drums, please – my winter vacation will lead me to Austria. Yes, back home! Kind of! After two years I’ll be going home for a few days! A week of skiing included. Meeting friends and family, stocking up on the most important essentials like mustard, bread, smoked meat, sausages, my favourite ketchup, sweets, cakes and lots more. And of course, I don’t have to mention that Wiener Schnitzel will be on my daily menu. What a cliché. I know. But I can’t help it. I just love it, crave it, miss it. Served with French fries or potato salad, not to forget ketchup and cranberries. That’s all I need to be happy. A good schnitzel. Easy, right?

Our bags are packed and Rangey is ready to take the adventure of mountain driving for the first time. I know how excited he is. I’m too. It’s been too long and chasing him up and down the mountain serpentines with squealing tires is something I have been looking forward too since the day my sweetie broke down on his first near Austrian trip.

Being the optimist that I am – well, most of the time … or … rather sometimes – I hope we will even be able to ski. After all, it’s the beginning of December and cold days as well as precipitation have been rare so far. Ah, what the hell! What are snow cannons for! Exactly, for the desperate skier, who can’t wait to hit the slopes in early fall! Which includes us. With me not having been on skis for at least 20 years and him a little less. Oh, that’s gonna be fun! I can already see myself … limping around with hurting thighs and arms and everything after the first skiing day … unable to move from the comfort of the deep couch in the lounge, drowing my pain in Jagatee (tea with rum) … but you’ll probably read about my skiing adventure very soon. Until then … wishing you a great pre-Christmas season!

Christmas gifts for your worst enemy

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Oh yeah! The time has come – again, after all first advent is coming up – to think about your family and best friends and which gifts would be perfect for them. I know, Christmas is still weeks away but you can never start early enough! Or do you want to rush through the shops on the 24th? Still intoxicated from your tenth Christmas party? I don’t think so! You should consider your choice very carefully, though, or you’ll be in major trouble! Apart from the fact that you should never ever buy kitchen appliances for your dearly beloved wife or give your husband a hand knit pullover à la reindeer, I’ve come across a few Xmas gifts you shouldn’t even buy for your enemy. (Well, maybe for your worst one! Like your mother-in-law!)

  • Mistletoe-to-go!Imagine a plastic mistletoe with suction cup for sticking to your forehead. THE stylish accessory of the season. Will soon be worn by desperate stars or wanna-bes! The perks? Everyone’s got to kiss you! (Well I would reconsider the “everyone” being an advantage …) No matter how desperate you are, you should still avoid wearing it the rest of the year, though, since you might be considered loony!
  • Santa Clause conquers the Martians!The coolest Xmas movie ever! With Pia Zadora as an Earth kid! The synopsis: Martians kidnap Santa Clause and two kid Earthlings. I wonder why they never received an Academy Award. It’s such a tragically beautiful story with wonderful actors! This movie is going to save your holidays for sure!
  • Moses doll with ten commandments!Apart from the tiny fact that today’s kids probably don’t know biblical figures – unless they can be seen as Nickelodeon animations – what’s the point? Is there a Moses fan club I don’t know about? What about King Herod, the 12 apostles, Kain, Abel and whoever else made his appearance in the Bible?
  • Hillary Clinton nutcracker!One can interpret several things into this: a) She’s got balls! First competing against Obama in 2008 until the bitter end and then taking on Donald Trump until the bitter end! b) She’s nuts! Competing against Obama, believing she could have stood a chance. Competing against Trump and NOT winning! How could this have happened? I’d go for the Donald Trump toilet paper roll, though!
  • Inflatable moose head!Bad enough there are plush toy moose heads around for you to hang onto your wall! But inflatable? That’s even worse! Although, what does speak for it is the storage dilemma. You just deflate it and it will barely take up any space. Or just kill it with a dart/knife/needle/gun – whatever sharp you can lay your hands on. Oops, how could this have happened to this marvellous gift!?
  • Men’s underwear repair kit!Come on, as if men would actually repair their underwear! They either wear them until they’re stiff from dirt or fall apart by a mere touch! Nothing to repair there in any case! Hint: you can get very cheap underwear at $/£/€ 1 stores! Even Britney Spears’ ex KFed had to buy his clothes at a cheap chain after she dumped him.
  • Leg lamp with high heels and real fishnet stockings!Actually, I like that! As tacky as it is, but it’d look great in a little seedy looking boudoir style bedroom. Imagine lots of bordeaux velvet curtains, heavy throws and pillows, a canopy king size bed and lots of lacy lingerie … yes, I want those lamps! Will start redecorating my bedroom right away!
  • Electronic yodelling pickle!It can’t get any worse than that. A yodelling pickle! (And I always thought the wall mounted singing and wriggling fish was bad!) I’m short of words on the thought of receiving such a gift. The imagination alone makes me keel over, unable to move because of uncontrollable fits of laughing! But beware, it’s getting even better!
  • Screaming rubber chicken!Who doesn’t remember Tom “Magnum” Selleck’s world famous rubber chicken once beheaded by Higgins and healed again with duct tape? If the series had been filmed today, Magnum’s rubber chicken wouldn’t have put up with this cruel treatment silently. It would have screamed – especially when thrown around the room. Forget a feeble screeching, screaming is the new way to go.
  • The “How to tie a tie” tie!This is nearly as bad as Simpsons, Mickey Mouse and Superman ties! How embarrassing! Wearing a tie with the instructions of how to tie exactly that very same tie printed in front. The only occasion I could think of where you could wear this tie is … nope, actually, I can’t think of any occasion such an ugly piece would be appropriate.
  • All those pretty dust catchers! The pretty things you receive from someone you think who likes you … and then wonder if they really do by being so insensitive. Giving you horrible colourful stoneware vinegar and oil sets, presenting you proudly with an imitation of a designer art piece even more ugly than the real deal, and what about this one gift you know has been a gift to your gift-giver before you?

Well, I hope you are getting into real Christmas mood now! I certainly am! Can’t wait to get the worst gifts for the people I don’t like … and definitely need to get the leg lamp! Happy shopping, you all!

(Pic courtesy of a dear friend, who was a tiny bit disappointed by receiving this gift … )