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".

Monday, January 04, 2021

A Special Gift

 

I am probably one of the few people for whom 2020 was not a horrible year. Needless to say, I, too could have done without the permanent threat of catching a potentially deadly virus and the side-effects that came with it, such as minimal personal interaction with friends and family, spending way too many hours in video conferences, not being able to travel and enjoy activities I used to take for granted in the past...
2020 was a special gift for me as it brought me even closer to Highflyer and proved that spending 24/7 together for months without a single argument or disagreement is indeed possible if you share unconditional love and respect for each other. This past year was slow-paced, but eventful, uncertain, but secure, stationary in terms of location, but so full of growth and learning. 
A surprise proposal on a seemingly "random" evening walk back in May would be an obvious highlight of this year, but it was just the icing on the cake, or rather the red ribbon on this gift of a year, to stay with the metaphor.
I will forever be grateful that this crazy year allowed us to spend so much time together, discover so much about ourselves and about each other, and to rediscover the joy of some old hobbies. 2020, you were a tough one, but I owe you a lot.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Tried and Tested

 

Like most Austrians (or at least people with parents aged 60+) I decided to do a rapid antibody Covid test before visiting my parents. In order not to "corrupt" the (negative) result I took it the evening before I went and didn't even stop for my usual toilet break on the motorway halfway between Vienna and Klagenfurt.
I am well aware of the fact that these tests are not 100% accurate, only show if you carry enough of the virus to be traceable at THAT very moment, ect, etc. And yet, it gave me some ease of mind and most of my friends felt the same. The topic of when and where people would be tested or rather had managed to secure a slot at one of the mass testing sites or at pharmacies was probably the number one smalltalk topic in the last week of advent. The last few times I had stayed at my parents' I was on the verge of paranoia that I might have infected them with the virus unknowingly. Every single sneeze or cough was very worrying and I was almost relieved when I left. This time round, I at least did what could be done given the circumstances, other than stay away.

Monday, December 21, 2020

2020, So Over it

Last Monday I had several reminders all in one day that many people are obviously so OVER 2020 and desperately need a holiday. One of these is pictured above. One of my online orders that got delivered came with the security tag still on one item. I knew from a prior experience when I ended up going to a local branch of the brand (not possible in this case), was given strange looks as if I was a shoplifter and eventually had them remove it, that you cannot take out these things yourself without the necessary device. As it was only the leg of PJ bottoms in this case I ended up making a small hole in the fabric and sewing it together after I was done removing the thing. In any case, this should not have happened and was clearly a careless mistake.
That same day I also got a stern reminder by another company to pay for an invoice...that I had settled immediately after receiving my order about a month ago. I included proof of payment and the lady replied, thanking me for my documents that made it clear that I had indeed paid. ..which she could have easily have found out herself as I had used the correct bank details and reference number.
Also that same Monday one order arrived incomplete with one of three items missing and another thing that I had not ordered included instead. I contacted the retailer with a screenshot of my original order and a photo of what arrived. A gentleman replied immediately telling me that the missing item was on its way and the additional one was in fact a gift. Nice gesture and I assume he made the gift thing up on the spot, but never mind.
The fourth thing that happened was that my reprint order of this year's Christmas cards contained 9 cards and 10 envelopes. I couldn't be bothered complaining...
Hang in there people, things can only get better!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Pandemic Light

 

On Saturday I was in Vienna to get tested for Covid ("negative", in case you were wondering) since one of the 3 testing stations was just around the corner from where my flat is and I wanted to be a good citizen. It was an extremely bizarre experience and felt like a dystopia to see people in hazmat suits and face shields poke around in people's noses where I used to jump up and down singing along to my favourite musicians who gave concerts at that same venue. All in all, my weekly visits to Vienna are a reminder that there is indeed a pandemic going on. From people in supermarkets or on buses who annoy me by wearing their masks as chin warmers to the urge to constantly wash or disinfect my hands, it is a way different experience from my isolated existence at Highflyer's house in a little village where he often is the only person I see for days on end. When we go for a walk we don't need a mask and working from home has become such a routine that there are some days when I actually forget about the whole "situation". I'm actually glad that this is the case, but I often feel like a somewhat bewildered tourist from a rural area when I navigate the "big city". I can definitely understand the current rush to buy real estate outside of cities as you definitely experience the "pandemic light" version when you live in a remote area, or even the outskirts or suburbs as opposed to the city centre.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Myth, busted.

 

I recently ventured into sourdough bread baking (like 80% of the global population this year, judging from Instagram coverage...) and fermenting vegetables. For some reason, I always thought this was an extremely complicated and in some ways "mysterious" process and way too fiddly for me. Turns out it's not, really and anyone can do it, given the right ingredients and tools (those are optional, but we know that I am a willing marketing victim, don't we) and a little patience (definitely not  my forte!). Now that those culinary myths have been well and truly busted, what's next? Will I try nuclear fusion in the garden shed? The mind boggles...

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