Monday, May 16, 2022

Me, in a Nutshell

I am really happy with my tiny little garden here chez Highflyer's. I started growing some herbs, plants and flowers last spring and most of what has reappeared this year is from that first attempt, only much more luscious and abundant this season.

Gardening and "green thumbs" run in the paternal side of my family. My beloved grandmother was the supreme expert of them all, having apparently inherited a lot of wisdom from her grandmother. Both my father and his sister, my paternal aunt, are avid and knowledgeable gardeners. My mother is not a gardener and neither had I been by any stretch of the imagination until I got to spend a lot of time in a house with a garden that started out as just a backyard with a lawn. The man of the house generously donated a stretch of his lawn to my efforts and I went about sowing seeds without any method to it. I was totally overgenerous and I didn't put any labels or markers to remind me of what went where. This means that whenever new leaves appear that I don't recognise I typically take a photo and do a reverse image search and/or send it to my dad to ask for his expert advice. It could be something I sowed or a weed. It could be edible or mildly poisonous...who knows. In any case it reflects my experimental approach at pretty much anything. I don't do to-do lists, I don't project manage or read user manuals at length, I just DO. Yes, I could at least write down somewhere which side of the patch the cucumbers should appear and where the radishes, but I just assume they'll either die prematurely and never make an appearance above ground or I'll recognise them anyway. I've had great success with rocket salad, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary and swiss chard that all grow as if they're on steroids. The rest remains a mystery and pleasant surprise.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Suburban Sadness

The day I unexpectedly "moved in" to Highflyers semi-detached more than two years ago because of Lockdown I, I was introduced to the neighbour who was in the process of preparing the family pool for the season together with his teenage son. I later learnt that this was a family of five who also had a shy cat and two small dogs who were very protective of their garden and liked to defend it by barking loudly whenever someone approached the hedge. They seemed like your typical friendly neighbours (minus the annoying dog barking) and the wife also happens to be a colleague of Highflyer's. We used to hear them entertaining guests a lot during the summer in between lockdowns and the pool was apparently popular among friends of the daughter, the youngest of the family. 
In recent months we could barely hear anything from next door and the only time someone was in the garden was when the wife was out there, smoking and talking on the phone. All that was missing was ominous string music rising to a crescendo - you could feel that something was off and that life seemed to have been drained out of the garden. Before you assume that this is going to end with a murder and us being the neighbours who are quoted by tabloids as not having imagined that in a million years: no. They are "just" getting separated and have already put the house on the market, according to the husband who announced this at a recent proprietors meeting. There had been signs: her leaving alone for a yoga weekend and hime going on vacation the subsequent more eating outside as a family and now: a pool that is still in hibernation as the ultimate sign that all (family) life has been drained of house number 3. It makes me sad that right next door to our happy bubble this couple must have been very unhappy and realised that their relationship was beyond repair.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Back to Office

Last week I spent 3 days (partly) at the office and will again this week. And by "office" I mean the actual brick-and-mortar one. As I have mentioned, I am currently enjoying my freshly recovered super immunity (until a new VOC comes along) so I don't mind being in (more or less) crowded rooms with people whose "infection status" I have no idea of. It's as if a switch has been flipped and everyone is on "whatevs"-mode, pretending it's 2019 again with one exception: everyone - at least at our company - apparently has decided to squeeze their team workshops into April and May and since I am one one of few internal people who are friendly and willing to facilitate them, I have had many requests, partly at very short notice, by people imploring me to help them as I am apparently their last resort and/or facilitator of choice. While I sometimes do feel flattered I often don't see my added value and am trying to get them to do it themselves. It may be a wise decision to seize the moment (of relatively low infection rates) and get all the creative brainstorming and teambuilding out of one's system but it's pretty intense even though I really like this part of my job. Only 3 more months until my so-called mini-sabbatical will start, i.e. I will have all of August off. Can't wait!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Reverse Culture Shock

Last week I had my first hairdresser appointment after over 6 months. I automatically had my FFP2 mask ready as I opened the door...only to see that neither stylists nor customers wore any. Oh. In the past two years, I had always had my hair cut wearing a mask and the hairdresser had worn one too. Now it feels strange and unreal not to. Same in restaurants. I always have my "green pass" app ready when I wait to be seated, but these days, nobody wants to see it. Kay. I have no idea how long this phase will last, but probably not that long before we'll be back in mask-land. Our company decided that after Easter we would inaugurate the "new normal" and should start coming back to the office (at least on some days of the week). Fine with me, but it feels as if after Easter an invisible switch was flipped that says "let's just play Covid-19 is gone now" and not all of the actors have received a full briefing. I'm definitely one of those who sometimes have to take out the script, trying to find her cues.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Rainbows & Unicorns (For Now)

As I mentioned last week I recently had coronavirus. In itself this is not something I actively wanted for myself nor Highflyer what with the chances that some long-term effects might take us by surprise after all, but it does have its advantages for a few blissful weeks, until a new variant of concern takes center stage and gives everyone the "chance" to become (re)infected. For the time being, though, we are enjoying our "recovered" status superpowers and it's incredibly liberating not to have to be as paranoid and cautious as I was in the past 2 years. I still wear an FFP2-mask in more than just the recommended locations, I still wash and disinfect my hands, but more out of habit, than out of necessity like back in pre-pandemic times when I already carried cute Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers in every handbag. Last week I facilitated a workshop at an outdoor week of my company's apprentices and the fact that most of the other groups of youngsters there did not wear masks anywhere, not even at the restaurant buffet, would have made me freak out, in particular before visiting my parents immediately afterwards. Now I have this "whatever" attitude and am thoroughly enjoying this short "back to the old normal" privilege....

Monday, April 11, 2022

Took a Walk on the Mild Side

So, yes, I originally had no plans to get last-minute tickets for Omicron World Tour 2022, but then it happened. I had begun to think that maybe there was truth behind those studies that said that people with blood type 0 get infected less easily and then the virus caught me unawares, most likely outdoors.
As I had it first and Highflyer did not test positive until 4 days later, the only explanation was that I must have been infected on Saturday, March 26, when he went skiing and I decided to spend part of the day in downtown Innsbruck. Sidenote, it seems that Tyrol is very detrimental to my health: the reason why I did not join him on the slopes was that in February, I finally got my knee checked that had been hurting after an unspectacular but fateful fall at Seefeld ski resort on January 4: my cross ligament is partly torn and I now have fractures on several cartilages in my right leg, yay. The physiotherapist says that the ligament will grow together eventually and exercise will help with the other issues. We shall see. Anyway, I spent a few hours on my own, took the tram downtown from Highflyer's apartment, visited some shops and a museum. Everywhere inside I wore an FFP2 mask (including changing rooms and the museum toilet) and so did everyone else in sight. It was a beautiful sunny day and the pedestrian zone was pretty crowded so I probably had the misfortune of passing through the "aerosol spray" of some highly infections super spreader whom I crossed paths with. That, or the virus was lingering in the hallway/staircase in Highflyer's house (he lives on the third floor and there is no elevator, in which I would have worn a mask.
We took antigen tests both on Sunday and Monday night before meeting relatives (one of whom is currently undergoing chemo, but actually already had coronavirus recently) and none of us felt any symptoms. Then on Tuesday morning I woke up with a funny feeling in my throat. Not a throat-ache, but a feeling as if I was dehydrated or something. It did not really get better and my voice got a bit hoarse during the day. On Tuesday night we drove back from Innsbruck by car and my throat was really sore plus I could feel a cold coming on. I wanted to take a test immediately as there were some in the glove compartment, but Highflyer said it did not make any difference as he would not jump out of the car in any case. We also drank from the same coke bottle and shared food...
On Wednesday morning I woke up with a seriously sore throat and took a test. Wow, that first "T"-line came up scarlet red before the liquid had even crept up to "C" territory. A PCR test confirmed that I was indeed infected with coronavirus and so my quarantine period started on Thursday. Highflyer did not isolate as we had been together for 5 hours on our road trip when I already had symptoms and after dropping off our PCR tests on Wednesday he went grocery shopping, coming back with enough fruit and veg to last through a zombie apocalypse or two.
In summary, it was really not too bad and I did not even take time off work since I did not feel tired or feverish. The two of us had different symptoms (I had this horrible throat ache that lasted for 4 days plus a runny nose and croaky voice, he had a bit of a temperature and a headache) and both agreed that it felt exactly like "normal colds" and we would have gone to our respective offices with those symptoms back in the days.
We definitely had mild cases and overall were not too concerned, but I have to say it was a bit disconcerting when friends who inquired after my well-being wished me a "mild case" or replied to my update that it was really not so bad "let's hope that it stays that way". It makes you wait for a sudden turn for the worse and doubt your own judgement, while had I not heard of the existence of Covid-19 I would not have been able to tell the difference to a common cold. Being fully vaccinated and boostered we were not too concerned, but then again, you never know. It's also a relief to have at least a few weeks of likely immunity and not to have to worry about getting tested for some time.
I am very grateful for many things. For once, that we had the Omicron variant (I was curious and e-mailed the authorities, who told me that I had the BA.2 mutation of Omicron, to be precise) with mild symptoms that did not include loss of taste and smell, which would really have bugged me. Also, that my quarantine period happened at a time where I did not have any plans (with the exception of one dinner invitation) that needed to be cancelled or postponed. I had originally planned to keep my father company last weekend while my mother was in Croatia, but they let me know even before I found out I had tested positive that I did not need to come so soon before Easter. It was also obviously less boring and more reassuring to be in quarantine with great company and to spend a weekend just reading and catching up on streaming content. 
Also, I now have proof that those "living room tests" as we call the antigen tests that you can do at home (see pictured) are reassuringly accurate when done right.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Hardcore Adulting


What you see is a chicken soup with a whole chicken. That somewhat "radioactive "colour is due to the fact that I added kurkuma, just FYI. What prompted me to make chicken soup shall be the subject for the next post, but let me just tell you, it was a proud moment. Maybe turning Fifty is what makes you do things that you associate with your grandmother, but until recently it had never crossed my mind to throw a whole chicken into a pot and make a soup with it. It's in a different league from baking sourdough bread, which has become a mainstream hobby, and I am not ashamed to say that I gave myself a little pat on the back...

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