Wednesday, October 27, 2010


My sister tells me (more nicely than this) that we suck as bloggers.  It’s true, I suppose, but the past couple of weeks have been especially bad for anything other than the most pressing of responsibilities.  Blogging didn’t make the cut; grocery shopping barely did…  So, to any faithful readers we might have, our apologies. 
Why so busy?  I’ll blame Kim, even though it’s not fair to do so.  Mostly I’m envious.  The craziness started when she and the students took off for a 10-day trip through Budapest and the Balkans.  I was jealous at the start – since being a single parent at home is never fun for anyone.  And then, once they were back and I saw the slideshow of their exploits I was even more so.  It looked like a spectacular experience for all.
Back at the homestead, we managed to have some fun.  My single-parenthood was an exaggeration….  Grandma Bud came to town for 10 days to help with the kids, get to know Salzburg, and, since she’s Grandma Bud, clean.  I tried to stop her, at least at the beginning.  Then I just gave it and told her where the cleaning supplies were.  By the end of the visit, she and Claudia (who works with us here and does most of the house cleaning) were managing to communicate despite no common ground language-wise.  The kids adored Grandma, and of course she adored back.  We toured the sites, mostly guided by Teo, and paid particular attention to the Sound of Music sites.  If you know Sue, that’s not a huge surprise.
Kim and the students returned last Saturday night, and we had three days of togetherness before Mom left on Tuesday.  Then Kim left again.  This time for Edinburgh to serve on a Ph.D. committee – all good, but again, I’m totally envious.  We have wonderful friends in Edinburgh that we both miss, and she got to see them!  And this time, I was a single parent.  And this time, the students were here.  Well, for one day, and then they all left on their weekend travels except for those whose parents are in town.  Many many parents, and many are our age, or look it.  Yikes.
In other less whiney news: Teo speaks German now at school, probably half the time.  Amazing, and I want to be five.  Mara is also saying more in German.  “Daddy, fünf is five.”  That sort of thing.  Kim’s German atrophied while she was traveling, but mine has gotten better.  Not proficient, not literate, but I think I’m going in the right direction – being trapped here has its benefits.  We’re settling into the community at the kids’ school as well – making more friends, socializing a bit…  Frankly, it’s all starting to feel a little bit more normal.
Until, that is, we’re confronted with things like registering Teo next month (not sure where, not sure how) for school next fall, or asking for some silly little thing at the store, or calling the exterminator on the phone.  Or the rest of the things that we all do in our normal lives. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Avoiding the Wanzen

Hallo!  We are having trouble keeping this thing current – maybe because our 26 students for the fall are here, maybe because the kids aren’t yet in full-time school, but maybe also just because we’re not very good at this.  With that said….

Our students are here!  We’ve had 10 days together here at the Marketenderschlossl, and we’re happy to report that we have really good group of students.  There have been bumps, of course, and there will probably continue to be.  But overall they are nice, they work hard (and play hard!), and are wonderful with Teo and Mara.  They are also really excited about being here, learning some German, exploring Austria and Europe.  So we’re happy.  The house is full of life.  Sometimes a bit too much life, a bit too noisy a life, but what did we expect, right? 

We escaped for two fun outings this weekend.  The first was to Legoland – the postponed trip from the day of Kim’s diesel accident (see prior post). 
Turns out it is exactly the same as in Carlsbad.  A little spooky, but also exactly like Ikea is the same as elsewhere…. That is globalization for you.  (Not exactly the same, the city models are of European cities and places.  Check out the FC Bayern stadium!)  

Kids were thrilled, and we were too, especially after we both got soaked on the pirate ship adventure by a gang of angry German 12 year olds.  Of course, we got ponchos for the kids, so they were fine.  We thought we would get nailed again at the Lego store on the way out, but Teo is in a character phase, so didn’t even hit us up for a big set.  We were puzzled, but didn’t ask any questions and headed back to the car for the three-hour trip home.

This morning we went for a nice nature walk with our friends Kirstin and Gerhard and their kids, to a small lake (Seewald See – Lake-Forest Lake) just a half-hour from Salzburg.  As you can see, beautiful.

We like these friends a great deal – and not just because they have repeatedly taken us to nice places known mostly to locals.  The kids can’t communicate with each other (yet), but Florian seems to always have airplanes nearby, so he and Teo manage… quietly.  We’re also getting used to relaxing nature walks that are followed by wursts of various sorts and a weissbier.  There are worse routines.  Get the pun?  Sorry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The man on the cross

You know.  Jesus.  There's a particularly vivid and gory statue of Jesus on the cross down by the Salzach River.  Its just across the pedestrian bridge, in front of a spa.  Mara inquired about the hurt man as we passed him, suggested we bring Mr. Bump (our ice pack) down for him because he clearly had some injuries.  When I suggested that it was a statue, she got mad.  She was definately coming with Mr. Bump tomorrow morning!  Then Teo got into the picture.  Who was injured, who needed Mr. Bump?  Oh, just this statue, I replied.  Why, what were the injuries from?  In the olden days, they used to kill people by hanging them on wooden poles/crosses, but we don't do that anymore.  I don't see rope to hang him.  Well, no, actually they used nails.  Is that why he's bleeding?  Yes.  It goes on like this....  Why.  Why.  Why.   Finally I say, that these statues are everywhere and we see them a lot.  No.  Yes.  No.  Yes, you know who that is, that's the baby Jesus when he's an adult.

Dumb Girls and Cars

So the good news is that I didn't ruin our new car, but the bad news is that I tried to.  I managed to get 14 liters of regular gas in the diesel tank before I realized that I was not putting diesel in.  Alas, we were on our way to Legoland for the day -- the promised nirvana trip before the students arrive -- but needed fuel for the drive to Munich.

It could be a lot worse ... we could have filled the tank and been driving and runied the engine while on the way to Munich.  Instead it just needs to be drained and cleaned, and its only 200Euro instead of 34,000Euro for a new car.  I feel like an imbecile of course, and we can't go to Legoland today as we wait for the tow truck and the cleaning, and I have to tell everyone. Plus, we were dropping off IKEA items at the kid's new school (I had done a run to IKEA for them to help get appliances/lights for the new school building) on the way out of town, and so someone from the school had to come to the gas station to transfer the lights from our car into another. Also, have to tell our staff as they will wonder why we didn't go to Legoland afterall.  Had to tell Brooke, our new friend, because she became plan B. Now I figure that I might as well confess to everyone! I think we'll go to the Salzburg Zoo in an attempt to salvage the day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some happenings

Phil Doolittle from the UOR campus was here this week to help the transition process along.  Great to have him here, and we think we’re positioned for a productive but probably a little crazy final week of transition work with Jim and Eva.  We have to-do lists, our assistant Kevin has one, and they should have them too.  So this week will be spent checking things off lists in the hopes of giving us what we need to make it through the term with minimal bumps.  Bumps will come, we know, but we’d like smaller ones.

While we’ve been learning, Teo and Mara have gone feral.  We have a new babysitter, Anjieska, who was a German classmate of ours.  She’s very nice, but speaks no English.  So, we and the kids communicate with her in German.  That doesn’t always work.  Dictionaries are located in each room now, and it turns out that Teo is already translating for Mara and occasionally correcting my German.  Impressive, and insulting, but whatever… we’ll get over it.  Soon we’ll have him negotiating with our employees on our behalf.  Anyway, Anjieska doesn’t play by the same disciplinary handbook we do, so the kids aren’t cleaning up after their activities, aren’t always listening, etc.  And they seem to get really dirty, but we’re not sure how.  We are anxious for Montessori in Salzburg to begin in September, and can only hope that evenings and weekends with us can make up for the mornings with her.  We’d like Kasia back, but she selfishly says that her law school future is more important.    

We’re having a wonderful time getting to know the instructors for the program, Kevin, our program assistant, and also the friends we’ve met here in Salzburg.  Today we went with Brooke/Nathan and family on a beautiful walk in a forest/to a waterfall about a half-hour from Salzburg.  Picnic lunches, a beer break before a pit stop (into a toilet that emptied directly into the river), a park with a great zipcord nearby.  What more could we ask for?  It looks like I’ll be doing a bike ride to Linz with Nathan and some of his friends for a couple of days later this month.  Great!  And a good reason to finally go and buy that bike!  

That was today.  Yesterday, just the family went to explore the Festung, the beautiful fortress on the photo of our blog.  It looks over al Salzburg, and we and the kids had wonderful time seeing the whole areas from on high (our second time this week, since Father Schwarzfischer had invited us over to the monastery while Phil was here).  There were also cannons, instruments of torture, ancient toilets, princess furniture, and everything else a child or adult could want.    

Best to All,

Can't seem to easily/conveniently get photos into this blog, but I (Kim) can get them easily into picasa photos

Sunday, August 8, 2010


My friend Diana told me last week that my blog entries did not all have to be masterpieces.  So, I'm going to work from that!  She wants to know about our normal life, and maybe some amusing tidbits.  She said that perhaps not everyone would be endeared by stories of the amazing dinner we had in France two weekends ago....  You can go to the restaurant too, its in Zimmersheim, a non-descript town outside of Basel.  But the food was gorgeous!  I won't tell you about it.

We have been traveling a lot on the weekends: 1.  St. Gilgan am Wolfgangesee (Lake Wolfgang), 2.  Hallstatt, 3.  Basel, Switzerland, 4.  Murnau, Germany, 5.  Strobl am Wolfgangesee.  This will come to an end soon, but its been nice to explore the immediate surroundings some (granted that Basel is not close). 

But, the bigger news, as Steve alluded, is that we are finally into our apartment.  This has helped a lot!  The dorm room with bunk beds got old really really fast, and a whole month nearly pushed us over the edge.  Steve told me the other day that I needed to be happier.  This has helped :-)  It has also helped the kids, who still fight a lot with each other (and more than "normal), but they have a great new room.
Making a 2 bedroom apartment
Kevin and Eva's handiwork
I'll take some pictures of the kid's room tomorrow, and throw in some of the kitchen and living room.  We've spent some time rearranging furniture, and its beginning to feel like somewhere we live.

We went scootering this morning around the hill too.  Normal life.  Tomorrow a new babysitter arrives.  Since she doesn't speak English...

What else structures our quotodian lives -- mosquitos, rain, snack.  We're finding the real supermarkets!  That's been great.  We are better fed again, although still not on Sundays.

Wolves and other such things

We don't have any wolves on the Mönchsberg.  Cattle yes, and slugs galore, to the kids' glee and Kim's dismay.  But no wolves.  That said, we've been hearing a lot about them this week.  
Kim and the kids went to the Salzburg public library this week with our new friend Kirstin and her kids Lena and Florian.  Kirstin has been wonderful in introducing us to the town from a local's perpsective, and also has helped us settle into the community of the kids' new school, Das Kreativ Kind (where Kim did some service work yesterday and met some other parents).  Teo, Mara and Kim came home from the library with viele viele books, a couple of videos, and, very exciting, library cards for everyone!  White Fang was among them - the kids' version, but the establishment of the pecking order of the wolf pack is, well, not terribly sanitized.  It also came with an audio version, which Teo is listening to now as I write.  Just a precursor to video games where he shoots to kill.
Other wolves: Mara is having nightmares.  Last week, several times, she awoke in the night scared of the wolf that was in their bedroom.  As you know, you can't just tell a kid it's not there.  So we did our best to figure out how to help her.  Solution: Mara is now a big bear, a good big bear.  Apparently bear trumps wolf.  Good to know.
We're involved in a wolfpack of our own here, but are managing to learn our new job responsibilities and get along with our staff, meet new friends and colleagues, and speak some Deutsch too.  German class ended yesterday – a great month, and we’re both happy with our progress.  We’re also happy that Anieska, our Slovak university-student classmate, was planning to be in Salzburg in August working, but has time to babysit for us every morning in August! 
At long last, we are moving into our apartment!  It’s not quite photo-ready yet – you’ve all seen apartments with boxes everywhere, piles of luggage, and the like.  Despite all that, we’re thrilled to have our own kitchen, our own refrigerator, and, mostly, to be sleeping and living on a single, lower floor of the Marketenderschossl.  We’ll have to find a way to fit exercise into our schedule now that we’re not trekking up 56 steps every time we need something.
Bikes will help that.  Today we bought new-used bikes for the kids.  A red one for Teo and a little tiger cruiser for Mara.  Photos of bloodied knees also forthcoming…! 
UPDATE: It’s been a day because I didn’t want to post without photos (which Kim has on her computer).  Struggling for a wolf-thing for continuity’s sake….
Today was a long but good day – off to southern Germany to reconnect with Steve’s friend Gretchen Vogel, from Ames, who now lives in Berlin.  A great but quick visit – cold lake, ice cream, park, and buttered pretzels.  Problem was it’s August 1: everyone in Europe is going to Italy and Croatia on holiday, and our road is the road that will take them there.  Traffic was killer.  Made LA look nice.  I’m sure there’s a wolf allusion in there somewhere.