Sunday, June 23, 2013

small creatures Saturday

It was back to Eichgraben on Saturday for another trifecta of wwoofing fun at the apiary. We did some hive maintenance, a little bit of roadworks, and checked in on a litter of two-day old Russian Blue kittens (closely supervised by Mama Blue. Also, not exactly "work"). And I picked up a jar of holunderblütensirup processed since the last time I was there.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

schnitzel: take two

The last time I was in Vienna I went to Schnitzelwirt and ordered a schnitzel without a side salad. My waitress seemed a little perplexed, but didn't press the issue. When my dinner arrived, I realized my mistake - unless all you really want is two slabs of breaded meat, so big they overhang the edges of the plate, accompanied by only a lemon wedge, you really need a side salad to balance it out. I've sort of been haunted by this incomplete meal ever since, and finally got a chance to make it right on a lazy Sunday. In a perfect alignment of the schnitzel stars, I even got the same waitress as before.

Monday, June 10, 2013

wwoofing mit Bienen

I signed up with WWOOF Austria, and spent part of the weekend in Eichgraben, helping out with some bees. As far as I can tell with my limited experience, bees really don't require too much maintenance. The hives at this place are fairly small boxes, with rectangular hanging frames that the honeycomb is built on.The only thing we ended up doing with the hives was adding some expansion room; we opened each to add new frames with a sort of starter comb inserted so the bees could get busy(er) building more combs, and then stacked another box on top. The starter combs are basically a sheet of wax with a shallow honeycomb matrix, and if I understood the bee lesson correctly, the size of the matrix ensures production of worker bees, rather then drones. However, this was my first time working with bees, and some of the finer points may have slipped by. It's entirely possible I have no idea what I'm talking about. But I didn't get stung, which I'm taking as a sign that I did something right.

Other small tasks included cleaning up old comb frames in preparation for new starters pieces, and we also started a batch of elderflower juice (Holunderblütensaft). We filled a big bucket with blossoms, added water and citric acid, covered it with a cloth, and left it to steep in the corner. I wasn't there long enough the witness the next step.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


There's too much rain in Central Europe right now, and many towns are flooded. The Danube levels running through Vienna are very high, but since the Donauinsel provides efficient flood control, only the riverbanks and walking/cycling paths are under water (at least that's all I've seen). You can see partially submerged trees in these photos, as well as the water level risen almost to the bridge in the background.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

new pathways, neural and otherwise

I've been in Vienna for just over a month now. I've learned a little German, enough that I've stopped being completely flustered when someone addresses me and I don't understand what they say. I only become minorly flustered, and sometimes even manage to keep my composure enough to squeeze a little language lesson out of some people. One of the staff at the Kunsthistorisches taught me the common term for a timed entry ticket (Zeitfenster), and also the fancy term (Eintrittsgelegenheit). The next time I went back I correctly asked for an Eintrittsgelegenheit, but for the Schatzkammer (which is another museum across the street) instead of the Kunstkammer (which is in the Kunsthistorisches, and requires a Zeitfenster for entry). At least I got half of the sentence correct. What else? I've eaten more than half of the würstel offerings at Bitzinger, although I think I need to slow my consumption a bit, because sometimes I feel like I'm eating my way through a barnyard. I've watched some opera, including a punk-infused production of Handel's Orlando at the boutique-sized Kammeroper. With a whopping five-person cast, and a small orchestra, it was a refreshing change from the sprawl of the Staatsoper productions, and also a lot better. So far I've only been watching the Staatsoper via their continued live telecasts, but sort of fizzled out on those a bit. And I've wandered through town. I try to explore a little at least a few days a week. I just take the metro to a random destination, get out, and wander around. Or I hop on trams and buses and gaze out the window as they wind through the streets. Vienna's public transit is so efficient, it's impossible to get lost.

So basically, it's been a good month. So good, I gave myself another. The next level of German starts Monday morning. I think I'll celebrate with a handful of pastries and a melange, the ubiquitous coffee drink of Vienna's cafes.