Friday, May 30, 2008

The very last one...

...of the Austrian caramels my mother in law bought me when we were in Baden.

Blair Via Motorola Q Smartphone

Newton was a bit of an arse

The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors by John Gribbin

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I started out loving this book, it gave glimpses into the men who helped form science. When we approached the modern era, a time when some of the scientists discussed are still alive possibly, the tone changed... the book stopped being about the people and more only about the science. It was this change that threw me off... I suppose there is a valid reason to not continue the quirks to include something like Richard Dawkins has had a propensity to wear short shorts in public places (which I have witnessed), but it was precisely that the insights into scientists like Newton and Linnaeus were so fascinating to me.

Plus the soap box on the end about how sociologists and historians malign science by not giving it its merited status and instead "consider" it as not quite theory and merely subject to the whims of people... I thought that was unnecessary.

View all my reviews.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Austria - Day 4 : We start the Austrian Mafia: AKA the Godfathers. part 1

So, I am getting back into the blogging of things trip related. Since my goal was to try to do this in some semblance of chronological fashion.. we end up with my having only 2 or so hours of sleep and a trip to Traiskirchen, the Austrian village where Schatz grew up (he also grew up in Germany). It started out an an uneventful trip, until the last few minutes when Squink got car sick for the second time in his life. all over his baptism "suit".

Thankfully, I was able to get him cleaned up a bit.

So, I decided I was not going to try and make him sit through mass. He lasted a few minutes, but wanted to go outside. The church we were at had a moat. A lovely empty moat that had loads of dandelions. So, we worked out way down and I taught him about blowing them. He loved it, he loved going over as well as under the bridge for the moat.

After the mass, we met Father Gregor, who spoke Russian or German. And provided me with the instruction on what I was supposed to say... sadly, I still have no clue what it was, or what it meant.

We had a cup of coffee at the church and walked across the street to Schatz's sisters home to get ready for the baptism and wedding mass. Here we are with the most fabulous Godfathers ever.

the absence of original sin
Squink is trying to squirm out of my arms repeatedly saying he wants to go home.


Folks were nervous as to how he would handle the Holy water and oil, he was actually serious for this part of the ceremony.

the holy water

And here he is with the oil, see, he was serious.


Then Oma und Opa had their wedding vows renewed for their 50th anniversary.

very serious

It was lovely.


But Squink was not ready to sit still. So we walked to a special area where you can light candles and we used his baptismal candle to light candles for Aunt Anne. repeatedly.


Here are the "Godfathers", they are mighty handsome! They are brothers too!

The godfathers

This is Lisa, the French girlfriend to the dark haired nephew. She is one of the loveliest women. She was funny, kind, gentle, and gracious. What a pleasure it was to meet her.

Isn't she beautiful?
SO, they presented Oma and Opa to the congregation...
the happy couple

And since Squink is never one to shirk center stage, ran up and joined them.
Squink gets in on the fun.

He then told Father Gregor he loved him and held his hand as they walked out the church.

Coming soon; Austria - Day 4, the feast (part 2)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I forgot to add how lovely it was to walk on lovely flower petals strewn on ones path.

Blair Via Motorola Q Smartphone

Procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi

Well, it was quite a day. Here is a quick glimpse into the procession. It was exhausting... physically and mentally or possibly emotionally. I am still trying to process the experience.

Near the end I spoke with a woman who was from France and she spoke of how well the Squink was doing, and that this was more common back there... Schatz and I said it was part of our experience too, and how wonderful to have it here. She grabbed my arm and said, yes, it is finally here, and walked away.

Again, I am not catholic, nor do I feel any close affinity to most other religions. What I do have is a deep appreciation for ritual, and yes I do like the ones that are a bit more "over the top" like processions such as this. It brings back memories of gentle times, when I admired others faith. It fosters a sense of community.

It is interesting to note that most cars we very respectful, and stopping and waiting as the very long procession passed, the only exception being a adolescent male in a "souped up car" with the bass blaring a thunderous beat as he speed by, clearly thinking he was impressing the girl in the passenger seat next to him.

I was also lucky in that I had a friend join us for the experience. It was nice to have someone there, to make silly jokes, catch up and chat as we both fumbled our way through the liturgy the procession called for.

The most miraculous part; Squink walked the whole thing (about 1 mile). He even got down (mostly) on his knees when called for... which impressed Schatz.

Corpus Christi Procession on Roosevelt II



Saturday, May 24, 2008

The annual family prom picture

It is told it all started here.

It sorta started here.

Then there was here.

And now our annual family prom picture.

Family Portrait

Monday, May 19, 2008

Feast of Corpus Christi

While I am not inherently a typical religious person, I love ritual and therefore have a deep appreciation for ritual of all kinds. Well, rituals in the presence of a moral good.
I think that there are many reasons for this. Among those reasons I would include one that I consider the main reason. That is;
It is an ethnographic experience: As someone who has looked at culture in detail, I see religion as the practice of any particular culture. It can even give insight into a sub culture, it provides a historical glimpse into a psyche of a country or people. Which is why I often am bewildered by people who claim to be ethnographers or ethnographer-like who show disdain for religion.
When I was younger there was plenty of evidence of this burgeoning "ethnographer" in me. I would often seek out experiences to try to understand the culture around me. I enjoyed the stories my parents told me of Native American creation stories, I loved going to the old cathedrals in Europe and South America, I even enjoyed watching pilgrims and the various sites of pilgrimages, I liked descansos, I took various religious courses, I joined in pilgrimages (even if I knew nothing about it) I enjoyed ritual foods and meals. All these things helped me identify and understand the cultures I was living in.

Once, when I was about 6 or 7 (possibly 8, but I don't think so) my family was visiting friends in a village in South America. My guess is that my father was going to bullfight and there was an associated religious holiday. We took a stroll outside the home we were staying at to watch the pilgrims or possibly penitents. The people were moving on their knees (not crawling) toward some place that I believe was the local church. I knew not where they were going, I had never seen the town. I became separated from my family, and instead of crying like a lost child is wont to do... I joined the procession. I walked, what I recall as being, a short distance on my knees (though walking is not the right word, I am not sure what is appropriate). There was an indigenous gentleman "walking" next to me, who was very worried about my participation. I thought, at the time, that he perhaps did not consider me holy enough to be there... but now that I am older... and understand the world and things a bit better... I think perhaps, that he thought he might be accused of kidnapping a white girl. After we arrived at the church he helped me figure out where my family was and walked me there. I could tell he was worried, but I honestly thought it was because I was a non catholic and had participated in a catholic ritual... I think he was worried he would get in trouble. When we arrived at the house we were staying, he stayed across the street and got a woman to walk me to the door while he watched and made sure I made it inside. When I crossed the gate that was the entrance to house I looked back, he was walking away.

I loved this experience, I was never afraid, I felt safe the whole time in part because of the ritual and in part because I knew the man was kind.

I have no idea which religious holiday it was, but I knew it was something special. So when my husbands church proclaimed that they would be having a procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi... I recalled that event from my past. Apparently, this will be the first such procession for the parish and I can't wait to walk in it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Four Foods On Friday #30

Four Foods On Friday #30 questions

#1. What’s your favorite white beverage? If you don’t have one, what’s your favorite beverage with something white in it?

A white russian

#2. What’s your favorite white gravy, sauce, condiment, dressing or topping?

The gravy on biscuits and sausage gravy

#3. What’s your favorite white item from the refrigerated section?


#4. Share a recipe for something white.

White Gazpacho

Serves 6

Half pound of blanched almonds
1 bulb garlic, peeled
1.5 tsp salt
6 to 8 slices of slightly stale crusty bread, crusts removed
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
Seedless green grapes
8 cups iced water

Soak the bread in the iced water. In a food processor or blender; blend salt, garlic and almonds. Squeeze the water out of the soaked bread, break it up and add it in pieces to the garlic and almond mix while the processor/blender is running. Add the oil gradually, followed by the vinegar and the remaining ice water.

Strain the soup through a strainer (go for a texture you would like; smooth use a fine mesh or just blend really well). Add more salt or vinegar to taste. Chill the soup in a covered dish, preferably overnight (or as littel as a few hours; the longer the better). Peel and/or slice the grapes in half. Serve ice cold with the grapes in chilled soup bowls. I have also had some slivered almonds to float on top just before serving, or some mild parsley.

Austria Day 3 - Meet the Mayor(s)

Before I continue to regale y'all with more mis-adventures from the trip I just wanted to share that Squink is very conscious of his "carbon footprint". What this means is that he only eats the tomatoes that I manage to grow and not the ones I buy at the grocery store.

OK, so we return to Austria....

I manage to be woken up at about 10:30 or so with a loud knock... I still have not slept, but we (the royal one) are expecting guests, important one.

There was loads to do... however, I woke up after most of it was done. Here is Opa with the table set for 15 (I think).
Opa with the set table

Here, don't I look tired? At this point I had not slept worth a dime for 5 days.
tired, oh so tired.

Before I continue though, I must show you this gift basket that Schatz's parents got from Manfred, Agnes and Max... it was so cool. It had the most appealing culinary delights I have ever seen... but then, Manfred is a chef de cuisine... or something like that... all I can say is he is a damn fine cook!
the coolest gift basket ever.

Here is a picture of Agnes with Oma und Opa.
Opa, Agnes und Oma

This is Manfred. He is very tall. really tall.

[insert gratuitous Squink picture]

Myself with Max and Opa.
Looking tired, with Max und Opa

Still looking tired as we await their arrival.
still pretty tired but I manage to choo-choo spielen

The Mayor and his entourage arrive and chaos ensues... he came with the vice mayor, the town photographer and someone else whose role escapes me...
chaos ensues, the mayor arrives.

The mayor and vice mayor make a presentation to Oma und Opa. 50 years is a big deal over there too!
the presentation

Then it is the vice mayors turn to talk...
The vice mayor presents a gift basket

Here is the whole town crew.
the town honors oma und opa

Once they left we could relax and Max and Squink took to the TV.
Max and Squink

Or, Squink would want to choo choo spiel again.
more choo choo spielen

or he would give me a lecture on how to choo choo spielen correctly...

We had to drive to the town Chris grew up in in Austria the next morning and be there for mass which was at 8 or 9 a.m. so Schatz and I could meet Father Gregor before the baptism and wedding renewal masses... Again, I could not sleep. More on that soon.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Eurotrash Finals, I <3. 2008.

So. Here are the remaining group that will play in the Final. Eurovision. 2008.

Yeah, I am not sure how it all works either, but I am thinking it is like the European Union and the big countries get something a little special.

The Cheetah Girls. Older. and German. 2008.:
Disappear by No Angels from Germany

John Lennon was French?. 2008.:
Divine by Sébastien Tellier from France

A reason to like Myspace. 2008.:
Baila El Chiki Chiki by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre from Spain

Lovely. A reapeat of 2007. 2008.:
Oro by Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic from Serbia

Reminds me of the 80's. 2008.:
Even If by Andy Abraham from the United Kingdom

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I may still <3 Eurotrash. 2008.

And now the second Eurovison semi finals. 2008. are a week away. And because it is my job as the lone fan of Eurovision. 2008. in this realm... I am presenting my highlights of the second group. 2008.:

Finnish Numa Numa guy. 2008.:
This Is My Life by Euroband from Finland

Not. ABBA. 2008.:
Hero by Charlotte Perrelli from Sweden

Well, it may be my fave. 2008.:
Deli by Mor ve Ötesi from Turkey

Sweeny Todd or Meatloaf. 2008.:
Nomads In The Night by Jeronimas Milius from Lithuania

Carlos Ponce meets Ricardo Arjona. in Switzerland. 2008.:
Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi from Switzerland

Pirates. Drinking song. 2008.:
Wolves Of The Sea by Pirates Of The Sea From Latvia

I do like this. 2008.:
Romanca by Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents from Croatia
(Enough to not amke a joke on that 75 cents)

May make you want to yell Opa. And throw plates. 2008.:
Femme Fatale by Evdokia Kadi from Cyprus

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

According to Esquire I am more man than most of the men I know. Explained.

In case you caught my random twitter... and were like WTH?

So, Tom Chiarella wrote this article for Esquire Magazne called The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master!

And I thought it was actually a very good article... but frankly I think he was describing your average mother. Some highlights below....

A Man Should Be Able To:

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence.
2. Tell if someone is lying.
3. Take a photo.
Now, most men have the ability to take a photo... yet most, however, have this freaky thing that forces them to take insane pictures of landscape and not their loved ones... women, naturaly know better... even if they don't understand light for poop...
20. Sew a button.
23. Be loyal.
28. Play go fish with a kid.
31. Make a bed.
34. Dress a wound.
40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear.
43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help.
44. Ask for help.
46. Tell a woman's dress size.
47. Recite one poem from memory.
48. Remove a stain.
49. Say no.
50. Fry an egg sunny-side up.
51. Build a campfire.
52. Step into a job no one wants to do.
54. Break up a fight.
59. Write a thank-you note.
60. Be brand loyal to at least one product.
61. Cook bacon.
62. Hold a baby.
63. Deliver a eulogy.
69. Tie a knot.
70. Shake hands.
71. Iron a shirt.
72. Stock an emergency bag for the car.
74. Know some birds.

Out of his whole list, there is only one thing I will give them, and not because I am not interested, but because IFF I am at a baseball game... I am usually doing something else from the list.

Additionally, I know of NO man on this planet truly able to say yes to same degree I am (or any mother I know for that matter) to these 75 things, but a few are close, though a few are waiting for me to teach them how to tie a bow tie.

How much of a man are you?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I <3 Eurotrash

Yes, we are one week away from the start of Eurovision. 2008.

Still not all that much of a fan of this years entries, but then... it IS the Eurovision Song Contest. 2008. For your Euro"vision pleasure"... my high**cough**lights from th first semi-final!

Song I tolerate. 2008.:
Complice by Miodio from San Marino.

Oddly catchy. 2008.:
O Julissi by Ishtar from Belguim

O. M. G.(not in a good way). 2008.:
Day After Day by Elnur & Samir from Azerbaijan

Turkey techno?. 2008.:
Irelande Douze Pointe by Dustin the Turkey from Ireland

Because I like trying to make up the English words based on the sounds of lyrics like"Pokušaću da te probudim a ti se pravi budna " oh yeah. . 2008.:
Pokušaj by Laka from Bosnia & Herzegovina

Because its Death Metal. Like. 2008.:
Missä Miehet Ratsastaa by Teräsbetoni From Finland

A Greek Shakira? wait. for. it. . 2008.:
Secret Combination by Kalomira from Greece

All the above, and more, will be judged (again) next Tuesday in the First semi-final for Eurovision. 2008!

But, for your general annoyance, I present my fave from last year (much to the horror of my nephew's French girlfriend I think):

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My aunt

.Just before we left and during our trip my aunt was embarking on quite a different kind of journey. I was very hesitant to mention it here, it was her journey and her path, and she was writing about it herself (until she could not log in anymore at least).

She gave her family and friends assignments, and I thought mine had been to help figure out what her original pathology report meant. However, her surgery was scheduled while we were gone so I could not even add hand holder to the list. Which was frankly very sad for me as one thing I was very grateful to her for doing was sitting in emergency room cubicles with me during my pregnancy. It is nice to have someone there, even if there is nothing you can do. So, we flew overseas and I had plenty of time to think about what must be happening to her and my family while I was away. It was a rather helpless feeling.

So, I lit candles for her in churches I managed to visit. I lit a candle for her right after Squink was baptized at using his baptismal candle to light it. Squink was with me and we lit the little candle and Squink blew it out, repeatedly. I was a little bewildered about what to make of him blowing out a candle that you are supposed to let burn, but as I watched the smoke drift I decided it was a bit like a smoke signal and that the thoughts concealed in the lighting were being sent to her. I then managed to light a candle in Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, then one in Saint Stephen's Basilica as well as a donation at The Coronation Church of Our Lady in Budapest (the latter being my most favorite church in all of Europe).

It felt like nothing, at the time and frankly as much for me and my inability to be there as much as I did it for my aunt.

This weekend, my aunt had a party to celebrate her friends who had assignments during the surgical part of this process. When I got there, I was told t put on a name tag with my job... and I was getting ready to write "researcher" when she said I was the candle lighter. I was stunned... so simple an act was what received her notice. Though, frankly, it makes the most sense knowing the woman she is.

The party was fun, and it is oh so different to celebrate something like breast cancer though it was not the cancer we celebrated but rather its absence.

So, I though I would post, with her permission, some photos from the event. Below is her "chandelier", it may be a bit bawdy to some, so if you are intrigued click through to the original size image to "get it"


Here she is with her "special cake", we all got to try a piece... it was fabulous.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Austria - Day 2 (meeting the family and preparing for a visit with the Mayor)

Aloisa, a small town bakery that has a national reputation. It was lovely. The treats were lovely, the cafe they had was lovely, the little town was lovely and little. The kind of European town where the streets are so narrow it can only fit one car. Of course, we were exhausted and did not even think of taking a picture of the lovely treats.

A deer stand; they were everywhere in the area where the in-laws live. I promise that next time I go, I am going to climb up one and have myself a little pic-nic. I will probaly forget to tell you this by the time I get to that day; so I might as well go ahead and tell you now. When we returned from Hungary oma und opa picked us up in a border town inside Hungary... of course it has only been about 17 years or so since they departed from teh communist block and unsurprisingly there are still remnants around, mostly architectural. One of those in the area where they picked us up was the border stations, or better said guard towers. In some ways they looked a lot like these deer stands. Anyway, when we drove past one Opa pointed at it and said "checkpoint charlie" so, for the rest of the trip Squink called them "che-point chahlees".

When we returned from the trip, I put Squink to nap and shortly there after I put myself down for a nap. Time differences suck!

While we were sleeping, Chris took his telephoto lens and took pictures of the town church which is slightly visible with the naked eye. It is across a valley, if that gives you any indication on what the telephoto can do.
When we woke up, there were some new faces to meet, but there was also a fabulous rainbow.
Squink is still a bit obsessed with the whole concept... and sadly, as much as I would like to indulge him... there is not much rain in this part of town where we live... the whole state actually.
It was a fabulous rainbow. And don't you love my socks!
And this is my nephew Max, he came with his dad (Manfred) and his dad's fiance (Agnes). Sadly, we were too out of it to take pictures of them this day.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Austria - Day 1

We scheduled our trip so that we would arrive at around 3 pm, this would give us time to drive to the town where Oma und Opa live and eat dinner and get to bed at a time that would not be too early, nor too late... all in a vain hope to ease the time difference I may add.
So, as we forced ourselves to stay up...we decided to go on a family walk. These pictures are of that walk. This first shot was taken just down the street a ways. Schatz does not like it for the very reason I like it... that itty bitty rainbow!

So, they live in the country, and we walked through some fields (Schatz said the farmers would not mind too much). Schatz calls this one "Field of Dreams"

This one is for Agnes, Squink's blogger auntie. I am not sure why seeing this in Austria surprised me. I suppose it is because I had it in my mind that it was a Latin American catholic thing. Now, for all the similarities in the "descansos" they do have some interesting differences. The one below was about a man who died in a motorcycle accident in 1973. This one looked brand new, it had a picture of the man who died, and it was not sun bleached. It looked as if it had been put up yesterday...

Schatz had an aversion to taking pictures of living people with the descanso so Squink and I sat on the bench beside it and I taught him how dandelions can turn your skin yellow (when you rub it on your hand). He seemed rightly impressed.

In a fit of fatigue I commandeered the camera because I wanted more pictures of people and less of the vistas, below are some pictures from the part of the walk where we headed back home.



This is where I deviate from my mission and take pictures of a bumble bee because it was HUGE, like the size of my thumb huge... and furry, and in the middle of the road and not able to fly so I could get close with the freaky lens.
Did you see its fuzzy butt, it is so cute! Is it cute overload material? Bee tocks?

After this we went home. and fell asleep at about 10 PM, though I woke up at 2 am... which would be a hideous foreshadowing of my sleep habits for the rest of the trip.