Thursday, 28 June 2007

Withdrawal Symptoms

We've had some fairly hefty storms recently. The worst was last Thursday. It was really hot, and the work in a neighboring apartment was getting on our nerves, so Steven and I left the flat around noon. I had arranged to show a few friends my quilt top - great occasion as that group hasn't done much together for over a year. Steven hung out in Jerry's office while I drove over to the shopping centre to leave the car there and do a few errands. Then I hung out in Jerry's office, too, until time for the Fete de Musique concert Jerry was playing in. Just before 5, as we were waiting for the concert to begin, the storm started. It was really something watching it from the top of one of the UN towers: Sand (or cement?) swirled up from the building site where they are putting up a new conference building. The street lights swayed back and forth. lightning flashed across the sky... And I had left the roof windows open.

We got home at about 10. Things could have been a lot worse. There was a lot to tidy up, of course. A large puddle to mop up in Steven's area. The sheet drawers are too full to close properly, and water had gotten in there, so ALL the sheets needed to go through a rinse cycle and then be dried. Some of the drawers on my sewing desk were also open - not overfull, but they stick, and I get too impatient to force them closed. Years ago, when I was pregnant with Edward, we travelled to England, and at one of the National Trust houses I bought some lavender scented drawer liners. Back then those drawers had clothes in them, and I enjoyed the scent while it lasted. Even after the scent was gone I left the paper in. It was pretty, and I had no good replacement for it. Well, when the paper got wet, it released much more scent than it had even new, only the past 20-some odd years did not do the perfume any good. What a stench! still recognizable as lavender, but not at all pleasant.

One of the first things I checked, of course, was the sewing machine, and at first glance it seemed to have stayed dry. Later I realized that there was water on the glass plate it sits on. So I unplugged it, and since Monday it has been at the service place. It was overdue for service anyway, and I had fully intended to drop it off there between the flat and the house, so this is only a bit early, but I can't say how much I miss it. It seems as if even the hand projects I think of to start all need a few minutes at the machine to start with. And I have sorted through all the pile of mending that was on the machine. Some of the trousers I should have mended for Steven don't fit any more. One pair was waiting for elastic in back to make the waist fit. Those are fine without the elastic now. See - the mending takes care of itself if you leave it long enough! But there is more mending that I found that I am just longing to do. I'm honest enough to admit that this great desire will probably fly out the window when I get my machine set up again.

Lat Saturday I was at an exhibit of fabric art postcards by customers of my local Patchwork shop. The store is called Exquisity, and the cards certainly lived up to that. There were lots of really great ideas, and I would like to work on some of those even more than I want to do the mending.

We got off very lightly though. Downtown the storm knocked a building crane over. Not only did it damage the building very badly that it was supposed to be helping repair, but it was in operation at the time. The driver did not survive. Trees and elecricwires were also down all over Vienna and the surrounding area.

Friday was another storm. We were out in the Wienerwald and got thoroughly wet, but again got off lightly - the lightning stayed a good distance away, the wids we experienced were bad, but nothing to what they were like other places, and the airport area had hail the size of chicken eggs, which we also missed. Barbara Streisand was in town, and her concert had to be called off Thursday night. Friday they went through with it, and they showed a bit on the news. 'I'm going to love you... come RAIN or come shine.' She looked wet. This week has been cooled and there has been rain, but no storms.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Museum visit

We have long been curious about an outpost of the MAK near our apartment. But visiting the Geymuellerschloessl is not easy. It is only open on Sundays in the warmer half of the year. There is no parking nearby, and although it is close, that is still several blocks including SchafBERGgasse. Last Sunday we skipped church, and decided it was time we went.

I had heard that it was a lovely Biedermeier house, that it had original/period furnishings, that there was also a collection of clocks there, and that the gardens were lovely. On the basis of the furnishings I hoped for some great textile discoveries, and one of the first items we saw was a sort of wooden piggy bank for calling cards with a beaded panel in front. Lovely. We also noticed a few clocks before climbing to the main floor - including ones worked into paintings. Upstairs we were charmed by the rooms and their furnishings, but no more interesting textiles. But the clocks! Clocks for the day and clocks for the night (translucent faces for a light to shine through or mechanisms to have the time projected onto a wall). Clocks build into pictures. Some of those with moving figures built in. And even waterfalls built in. Big clocks, little clocks, clcks with music boxes, and more clocks, and more clocks. If you like clocks you need to see this place. If you don't really care about clocks, still go look at them. Only once. But do it that once.

The gardens are also lovely, and you can buy a picnic lunch. On first Sundays there are concerts at 11am with special tours. There is some modern art displayed in the garden. I don't get it, but perhaps you will.

I don't think that I will be going back, but I'm glad I went once.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Outings - easy but fun hikes

A good way to introduce your family to hiking near Vienna is the Hagenbachklamm. It is a good, clear path. (You might be able to get lost, but you would really have to work at it.) The scenery is lovely - you follow the line of a creek through the woods, with some rocky outcroppings. Where needed there are wooden bridges. At the end of the Klamm is the opportunity for pony riding or for visiting a center for breeding birds of prey. Some of the birds we saw at Kreuzenstein came from here. 'Officially' the walk takes 45 minutes in each direction. That sounds about right. There are no proper playgrounds, but there are several places where earth 'slides', root 'ladders', and side trails up and over rocks or stepping stones instead of the bridges tempt the younger crowd. Also a mysterious stone doorway into the side of the hill. There are very few steps involved. I wouldn't do it just after a period of heavy rain, as parts look like they get very muddy. There were a few picnic tables.

We really enjoyed the falcon station. We were handed an information book keyed to numbers on the cages. The information was in German, but Latin and (usually) English names were included. The first bird we saw was an owl, who immediately turned away from us, raised its tail feathers and dribbled. But most of the others looked like they wanted to pose with their best sides to the camera. The aviaries are large, and had lots of green. That made it harder to see the birds, but it gave them a lot of privacy.

There is a fair amount of parking available at the entrance. There is also a back way in only 10 minutes walk from the falcon station. Drive through Klosterneuburg direction Tulln. The entrance to the Klamm is between Maria Gugging and St. Andrä. We saw mountain bikes and a twin buggy. Not my idea of fun, but possible.

OK, now you've had a taste of it and want something similar, but a step wilder. Try 'Erlebniswelt Mendlingtal'. This is a museum and two hour hike that shows the way wood was brought into the valleys for burning into charcoal for the iron industry. (The two hours does NOT include getting back to the car!) As the driving time is also about two hours each way from Vienna, this is a fairly major undertaking.

The wood was cut in the mountains, and somehow (often just dropped down steep side waterways) gotten to the small river. A dam in the river allowed the workers to send large amounts of water through at times to carry the wood down to the next collection point where it could be sorted and passed on, or used. The dams and associated engineering have been restored and replaced with the help of an EU grant. Twice a month there are regular shows of how this was done. We were once there when an extra show was being done for a group. Exciting! (First Sunday and third Saturday of the month.)

Much of the museum is concentrated at the lower end of the walk. Exhibits try to explain what jobs needed doing around the valley, and how the families of the woodcutters lived while their menfolk were up in the woods. Unfortunately, the commentaries are spoken, and the sound quality is awful, making the German quite hard to understand. A bit further up there is an old water powered sawmill. Then you hike past the various sites needed for the 'triften'. Other items along the path are an eating shelter and a flour mill. There are frequent commentary plaques with interesting information in German. At the top of the hike there are trout ponds. (Yes, there is an coin-op machine that sells a generous handful of fish food for .50).

The 'Herrenhaus' (squire's house) has been turned into a Gasthaus. We'd had a late lunch and weren't ready for eating trout, but the Apfelstrudel was really good. Children will enjoy the play ground there and the rabbit hutches. There is also an example of the branch and bark shelters the workers would live in on the mountain. Steven thought it looked comfy until we pointed out that more than one person would live in it, and that with all the hard work there were no washing facilities.

The walking is similar to Hagenbachklamm, but you are definitely going up hill, the path is often narrower, there are more wooden sections, often attached to the sides of overhanging rocks, more steps up to the bridges. The official word is that baby carriages don't work, but light buggies do. We saw a young child on a parent's shoulders. Another group had the buggy along - being carried in folded condition by one of the adults. About what I would expect from seeing the route. Comment about mud is also valid here.

Drive out the Westautobahn, get off at Ybbs and take 25 South to Göstling.

BTW If you want less walking, but still want to learn about the wood industry, there is an outdoor museum with models instead of the full size things if you take the cable car up from Mariazell. Hands on for children, but it might be a good idea to have spare shirts along for the kids in case they get wet. Steven loved it a few years ago. I enjoyed our first visit.

Week 24 Project 13 More Cards

Besides a few more unfinished cards similar to the ones mentioned before, I also finished two cards for special people: a wedding card and a baby card.

But mostly when it has been cool enough up here I have been working on the quilt. The top is done! I doubt that I will be quilting it soon, though. We have signed a lease on a house in Essling, and I think the quilting had better wait until we have moved. Having a big project lying around in the process during the move sounds like a recipe for disaster.