Tails From the Vienna Woods



All About Anna

Because there is so much more going on in our lives than weekend outings and jetting about the globe.

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It is January after all. II

Just a few words on our comings and goings. It is January after all.

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So This Was Christmas…

Day 1. Feeling Hopeful.

Me. “I am calling to check on the status of this lost baggage.”

KLM. “The baggage is not lost. The Amsterdam ground team is looking for the baggage.”

Me. “If the baggage is not lost, why I am calling to check on the status?”

KLM. (Looooooong Pause.) “I am sorry.”

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Once upon a time…(more like, just six years ago) our American Thanksgiving weekend followed a well-honed routine: Thursday of course was Turkey Day; and on Friday we procured the Christmas tree (no Black Friday nonsense for us!), which meant pulling the Radio Flyer wagon to our local parish and selecting an always-too-large tree from amongst the Boy Scouts offerings. ‘Tis a gift of maternal heritage; I also only know how to cook for either 2 or 10 people.

The entirety of the weekend was reserved for decorating both the tree; and, especially, the white picket fence around our garden with precisely-aligned lights and pine garland. Our home was on a corner near the elementary school and our neighbors and others had come to look forward to the glow of said precisely-aligned lights during the holiday season during their to and fro; in the first year following our move overseas neighbors even sent us sad photos of our house, void of holiday cheer, and writing about how much they had come to look forward to the lights.

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The Summer Wrapup

An assortment of amusements.

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Genuss and Gemütlichkeit, Family Style

Jack was home for the months of May and June; and when we were not on one of our “official” adventures, whenever possible some combination of the four of us were up to something involving hiking or eating, and often both. Recently a Facebook friend even commented, “You all are having just too much fun.”

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Our American Thanksgiving Weekend (with a little help from Central Europe)

For the previous two years we have taken the long school weekend to venture across Austria; the first year, to Innsbruck and its charming Christmas markets, and last year, to the Wolfgangseer Advent, hands down our favorite of all of the Austrian markets we have visited. This year, our desire to be home on Saturday for THE GAME* compelled us to stay local and embrace some of our favorite American Thanksgiving weekend traditions as well as to enjoy the season of European Christmas markets.

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And She’s Only a Freshman

Early last week an AIS community service club hosted a benefit concert to raise monies for the facial reconstructive surgery of a young victim of domestic abuse. The Strings Director, who was the highlight performer, invited Anna Grace to perform her recital piece with him as part of the concert.  The entire hour was filled with beautiful music, and it was nice to see many families in attendance.
The following evening we attended our least favorite event of the school year, the MS and HS Band and Strings joint concert.  The concerts run about an hour, perhaps a little more, allowing families to be home around 2000, not an unreasonable time for the 10+ age group, and especially at the end of the school year when most of the learning is long over. Despite requests by the band and strings directors that the audience remain for the entirety of the program, many so, so appallingly rude MS parents left at the MS/HS intermission.  We have witnessed this time and time again over our four years here, and it is always a tremendous disappointment to us.  Do unto others? Teach your children well?  Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten? Not for these parents.
On Wednesday the school held, as Jack referred to it, “The Nerd Awards.”  AIS presents a small ceremony celebrating academic excellence across the HS, and there is not a single participation trophy in sight. Overwhelmingly the awards are given to upperclassmen with proven academic records, so it was a surprise to have received an invitation to attend. 
Anna Grace was but one of two Freshmen who received an award. Her award was presented by the Strings Director for her outstanding competition results leading to Honor Orchestra placement and her leadership in the school orchestra.  The photo is terrible, I know. I was more interested in applauding.
Wrapping up strings for the academic year, her studio held its recital Sunday evening. Anna Grace performed the entire Summer from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (including the solos), and her studio director (who is also the AIS Strings Director) invited the orchestra to accompany her. Understandably not everyone was available; it was nice to see not only the students who joined her, but a small cadre of friends who attended the recital as a study break (it’s final exam time) to listen to the group perform. That’s what friends are for. 
Last night was the end of the school year in terms of school functions (for parents, anyway), the HS Sports Banquet. The sports banquets are great fun. They are casual,  the food is delicious and no one leaves until the banquet concludes
The new school records were already in place in the “Knights to Remember” hallway outside of the main gym.  Congrats to all of the AIS Knights, who balance academic and extracurricular activities with teamwork, respect for one another, and the opportunities for leadership throughout the year.
And to our favorite Lady Knight: a straight-A student, Honor Orchestra violinist, and athletic record breaker, a special congratulations on a tremendous Freshman year! ❤️

Mother’s Day Weekend, Part II: Genuss! and More Genuss!

My fabulous weekend transitioned from exploring the WasserSchloss to exploring the, “Best of Austria,” this year’s theme for the annual Genuss Festival in one of the city’s largest parks and peddling 52km along the Danube.
“Best” Tirolean Pecorino? Why not bring home a wedge? We did. 

Schlicher Gespritzt, from a grape exclusively found in the Steiermark, and best paired with a plate of cured meat. When in Rome…

 From Kärnten, the Kärtner Knodel, dumpling-like and akin to the Polish pierogi. At the demonstration I gave the preparation of the Knodel my best effort and, according to tradition, am now, “Marry-able” because I can press a Kärtner Knodel good enough to woo a husband. Good thing, too, because Tony and I celebrated our anniversary on Sunday and I’d hate to think that 23 years was all for naught.

 Ah, Wildschwein (boar) salami and something white from Niederösterreich.

 Back to the Tirol and its Kaspressnödel, a delicious concoction of potatoes, farm cheese and herbs that have been shaped into cakes and fried. We brought a bag home.

From a Wiener vendor, the Käsekrainer, a grilled sausage studded with cheese. Not for everyone (I dislike the street vendor versions), though I found myself taking more than a single bite from the plate.  When paired with something G’spritz, the sausage was quite good. 

 What is not to love about a country that displays its Schmalz (lard) on cake stands?

 Or slices its meat with table saws?  Hard to believe, but we somehow managed to find ourselves hungry in time for dinner on Saturday!

And on Sunday, the lure of a gorgeous day had us up and out of the house by 0830, peddling our way along the Donau and the Donau-Auen, Central Europe’s largest wetlands reserve. 

The things one discovers. Along our path we found a marker erected as recently as 2010, memorializing the Jewish women and children who had taken refuge in the woods along the river between 1938 and 1945, just on the edge of Vienna.

Cycling through the wetlands was a highlight. We were even treated to several beavers flapping and splashing about!

Hunger struck about halfway into the planned 60km ride, but there was not an Imbiss (“fast food” stand offering Wursts and easily-eaten snacks) in sight, so we were left with no choice but to sit for lunch at the only restaurant in a nearby village. Everyone was dressed for Sunday lunch (except we) and fussing over Mutters and Großmutters for Mutterstag (except we). Though no one in the restaurant was overtly rude (unless you count the stares), it was clear that we English-speakers (we spoke German to the waitstaff, natürlich) dressed in shorts and polos Did. Not. Fit. In. 
Like the dutiful people we and our children were raised to be, not a morsel of that ginormous Schnitzel remained on our plates when we left the restaurant. That probably explains why we only finished 52 of the 60 planned kilometers for this ride!
Exploring a WasserSchloss, eating our way around Austria, and cycling the Danube. How much better could a Mother’s Day Weekend be?

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