Monday, February 22, 2021

Nerd

 

Half a year before, I had never heard of the word "proofing basket" (and neither of its German translation) and now I own several different varieties of those and have perfected both the recipe for dark bread, as pictured here, and for French baguette (thanks to the Empress sharing her killer recipe with me). Oh, and I also own a baguette baking tray, FYI. Half a year ago as the peak of global lockdown bread baking had already been reached I was still in the "nah, I don't even eat that much bread, it's not worth the time and effort to even look into that sourdough business" field. Now I still don't actually eat that much bread myself, but it takes a lot of self-restraint not to bake some variety of bread every single day. Highflyer is a more than willing guinea-pig of my efforts and thus very supotive of my current passion. I have also amassed an impressive array of bread-baking related gadgets and bought different varieties of flour. What happened?
For once, my previous crafty outlet, sewing fabric masks in all types of patterns has become obsolete due to the fact that in our country, you are currently only allowed to wear FFP2-type masks in public and there is no use for those masks at the moment, i.e. nobody would appreciate getting them. I could of course venture out into sewing proper clothes more, but I am an impatient instant-gratification type of person who gets a kick out of projects that can be done pretty quickly. Okay, sourdough bread is not exactly fast-food, but the different steps it takes are quick as such.
Another reason is that home office is starting to lose its appeal a bit or rather, sitting in front of your laptop for hours on end is more frustrating when days are shorter and you can't balance it out with many outside activities during daylight hours. I am thus very happy that days are getting longer and meeting friends outside won't have you frozen semi-stiff after a couple of hours, but can take the shape of sitting outside a café or in your garden. One can dream.
Until then, I shall be nerding it out and giving fancy bakeries a run for their money.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Wallpaper Change

 

There is an idiomatic German expression for "change of scenery" that literally translates to "wallpaper change". When you long for a bit of excitement or break from your routine you say you are in need of some Tapetenwechsel. Last weekend a visit at my parents' provided just that: a welcome change from home office in Lower Austrian suburbia with the highlights being my various domestic adventures and walks in the pancake-flat neighbourhood. Our less than 48 hours in Klagenfurt included a wonderful (if absolutely freezing) ski day, a lovely walk by the lake combined with a bit of wedding location scouting, views of snow-capped mountain peaks from pretty much everywhere in the city, home cooking other than my own and overall being spoilt by my parents. Visiting another part of Austria has taken the place of weekend trips abroad and even these national adventures have become a rare treat due to lockdowns and hotels being closed (not everyone has relatives or owns property near a ski resort or some kind of landmark). So, batteries have been recharged for the week(s) to come.

Monday, February 08, 2021

The Place Not to Be

 

Last week the janitor of the building I live in in Vienna called to ask me if I would like to contribute to a wreath for the funeral of a neighbour who had died the previous week (on my birthday, actually). I knew that that nice old lady, the prototypical nosy Viennese neighbour who spent most of her time looking outside the window, had moved into a nursing home last summer, but as I had not seen her or talked to her for months I had no idea about her physical condition. When I asked what she had died of, I learnt that she had died of Covid, contracted in the hospital where she was taken after injuring herself from a fall on the way to the supermarket right next to the nursing home. This made me really sad as it is one of many stories I recently heard of elderly people who had to go to hospital for something completely unrelated and then caught the virus in those hospitals. It is really infuriating that those very places where you should feel safe and in the best hands, such as nursing homes and hospitals end up being "death traps" for helpless patients who had no choice. By using public transport or going to the shops during a pandemic you put yourself at risk and maybe (assuming you are able-bodied or computer-literate and financially well-off) you could have avoided that by walking or using your car instead, and having everything delivered to your doorstep. Nobody forces you to go skiing or ice-skating during lockdown, either and you know that it is a "frivolous" activity that might end up in you getting infected. Going to hospital for some treatment is rarely ever something you choose to do "for fun" and you usually expect to leave those places in a better condition than before. Well, this really has not been the case, recently and that's a shame.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Anniversaries


It was my birthday last Friday and as I have mentioned before I did not imagine that I would experience it in a lockdown this year. In the end, I did not mind at all as I got spoilt by friends and family, received several parcels and a flower delivery, and above all, Highflyer took the day off (unlike myself, actually) to be at my disposal for every wish and whim I might have. The day after my actual birthday we spent an afternoon on the slopes of the nearest decent ski resort so I'm not complaining at all. 
While we're on the matter of anniversaries, I was hit by the realisation that the first anniversary of our country's first, and thus most memorable, pandemic lockdown is coming up in less than two months' time. How did that happen? I still remember that state of confusion and disbelief that united us all and that has long since been replaced by universal annoyance (no matter if you are in the conspiracy theorist corner or just a "normal" citizen who would like a semi-normal life back that allows you to make plans of some sort).
What is the protocol for celebrating the anniversary of a pandemic? Should we get out balloons and pop some champagne? Will the lockdown have ended by then? Suspense is killing me. Well, a bit anyway.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Next Phase: Monochrome

 

Starting today, FFTP2-grade masks are obligatory in Austria in shops and pharmacies, on public transport and other public places. This means that the countless masks I sewed (most of them pictured above) will have to go into hibernation for the time being. I remember when I first started "mass production" last spring and gave the first few away, some people thanked me but thought they would only need them in the coming weeks. Well...All in all, I must have sewed dozens of masks until then and I truly loved this quick and gratifying sewing project. Mine are all 2-ply and I always used some type of tightly-woven fabric so I am pretty confident they were semi-decent in terms of protection. I once saw a guy on a tram in Vienna who wore the thinnest, flimsiest excuse of a mask, made of a gauze-type material and he could just as well have worn nothing. Given this type of people, I totally support our Government's decision and I also don't mind wearing FFP2 masks from a comfort point of view but it will definitely make interacting with people even more boring and dystopian-looking than it is already. Everyone walking around wearing the same kind of (mostly white) masks. Ah, well. 
While I never thought that masks would disappear in 2020, I actually did not anticipate that my birthday (later this week) this year would fall in a lockdown. I pitied all my friends whose birthdays took place last spring during lockdown one and tried to make Highflyer's all the more special. In hindsight, the fact that the Empress was able to celebrate her 40th with a large group of people last summer is almost a miracle as I remember wishing almost everyone whose birthday fell between Mid March 2020 and now a happy birthday "despite it all", i.e. the fact that they couldn't celebrate properly.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Summer Then?

 

Lockdown nr. 3 in Austria has just been extended for 2 more weeks (fingers crossed that it won't be even longer) and our Chancellor apparently has promised that our lives would be "normal by summer." Hmmm. Now this sounds familiar. I still remember that at the beginning of lockdown nr. 1 people kept telling one another that everything would be back to normal by summer. Right. Now that didn't happen and I am getting broken record vibes. I sincerely hope that by January next year we won't be in a lockdown, dreaming of the summer when things might be back to normal!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Lockdown on the Slopes

I spent the past 10 days in Tyrol, skiing on 8 of them. When the present lockdown was announced, it was unclear until the very last moment if skiing would be allowed after all. When it looked as if it might not be (there was a lot of political pressure by neighbouring countries), both Highflyer and I were utterly crestfallen. This was our one silver lining, the carrot we'd had hanging in front of our noses for months and now it looked as it was not going to be possible. In the end, ski resorts were allowed to open (minus the hotels, restaurants and those notorious après ski bars, of course) provided they had a decent Covid-19 prevention concept in place and we were so, so happy about this fact. 
It remains a very controversial and polarising issue with opinions ranging from "complete and utter madness" to "skiing is our birth right as Austrians". Mine is: it's open air and as long as you keep a distance and wear a mask when queuing for the lift or gondola, you should be much safer than in a supermarket. I do know that injuries on the slopes could (unnecessarily) add to hospital workload and that it's an entirely frivolous activity if you so will. Bestie Boy forwarded an article from a German newspaper that commented on the skiing exception that "it's for Austrian what jogging is for us", and this is of course an exaggeration. It is, however, the highlight of the long winter months for many Austrians and I admit to being one of them. 
I really feel very lucky and privileged (not everyone knows someone with an apartment near ski resorts and I have this great fortune in not one, but 2 provinces) that I got to enjoy so many ski days in good weather this year already. We never know when regulations might change, too, so my attitude was: "enjoy it while you can".

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