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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Delusions, sweet delusions

Photos? More blogging? Who am I kidding?

I just don't have the time at the moment, in spite of all my best intentions. (Okay, so I did knit more on the secret project - but you can tell Blogger to wait. Babies pay me no mind.)

And I'd do more tonight, but I'm off to London for the day tomorrow - for work, though I will admit that I'm hoping I'll have a few free hours in which to prop up the British economy...

So I'll get back to you soon... ish.

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DIY Laksa

The Asian food in Dublin is in a pretty miserable state, at least compared to Auckland. I'd give my left foot for a Food Alley-style food court, but alas.

Ever since watching a cooking show where a girl made her own laksa, I've had it on my mind so last night and today I went and bought all the ingredients: noodles, laksa paste, fish balls, tofu puffs, coriander, fish sauce, fresh prawns (scary), peanut oil, chillies, bean sprouts - I think that's it.

The prawns were a right hassle as I tired to de-vein them but in the end it turned out pretty good! I'd give it a 7/10 and where a good Food Alley laksa is a 9.

The proof:

Photo A - Cooked noodles, fish balls and tofu puffs

Photo B - As above with pan-fried prawns

Photo C - Laksa paste, stock, corriander all bubbling away

Photo D - As above with the additionment of coconut milk

Photo E - All assembled!

Photo F - .. and garnished

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It's been ages since I've blogged properly, and I'm not convinced that this post will stem the tide. People, there is SO MUCH to do!

I'm diligently working away at various baby-related items, none of which I can show you here, because the recipients may know of our blog. There are two cute-as-can-be sweaters to send off - one to a new arrival, and one to a baby that, thankfully, has not chosen to appear just yet. The other project I really can't talk about, but Mark & Reiko will be very pleased when they receive it. I hope!

In addition to the baby stuff, I've been working on some socks. I've got part of a pair done for David, because his other hand-knit socks are in a terrible state. And I kind of started a pair for myself, because... well, I just did. Everyone else has Jaywalkers, and I wanted some too. I'm still not in love with the pattern, but it is growing on me a bit, and it kind of looks ok with the yarn I'm using. Maybe.

It's been so freaking freezing everywhere - including work - that I bought some yarn to make fingerless gloves/armwarmers. They're just having the ends sewn in - a very quick knit in approx 2 evenings' worth of effort - thank goodness, because it is COLD, people!

Even as I contemplate all the knitting work I have to do, I start to feel guilty about everything else I haven't done. Christmas cards, tidying up my very messy workspace, catching up on other people's blogs, attending to Facebook... And the usual cooking/eating well/getting exercise, plus making the most of Dublin & its surrounds. I won't even get started on work, which is mad.

And I haven't even commented on pretty much anywhere we've travelled to this year, which is a bit useless of me.

It's tempting to stay overwhelmed and just kind of give in to it all. But I do like a bit of order in my life, and my casual filing system (piles) is starting to make even me a bit grumpy. This afternoon, I *will* do some chores, even if only so I can relax and be lazy tomorrow. There may even be blog postings and photos involved - stay tuned...




We're back from our week away - and it was amazing! I think we're just getting really good at travelling together because each trip gets better and better.

The flight from Dublin was about 2.5 hours and we arrived late at night and holed up in a perfectly nice hotel in Pisa. The next day we had a look around - there's not much to see in apart from the tower - but the tower and its surrounds are very cool. From there we caught a train to Siena (which involved changing trains at Empoli).

Siena is a beautiful medieval gothic town. Our hotel, which was a few minutes out of town, was a converted monastry and it was really quite charming - much better than I'd expected. That night I ventured out in the cold to find us dinner. I managed a pizza (5) from a place just around the corner, then ventured into town for gelato. The streets were nearly empty so it was just me and the little houses, shops and occasional shrine. It was loveliness heaped on loveliness. We spend the next two days bumming around, eating lots of pasta, and hanging out in our hotel room watching BBC World and CNN (the only English channels).

Then we bused to Florence. Firstly we found our palazzo which was pretty amazing (especially gien what we had paid). It was pretty much frequented by middle-aged American couples so we were a bit of an oddity. The building is a converted mansion with about 10 rooms over 3 floors. The bar/ breakfast room had the most amazing ceiling I'd ever seen - it was 15 centure I think. Our room was sumptuously decorated and the service (especially the turn-down service which Laura liked a lot!) was really good. Florence itself dazzles. The river is beautiful (see our night-time photos of the river), the piazzas are lovely, the buildings look great und so weiter. Just like the Lonely Planet says - "Such a good looking city". I could have stayed there, lived there, for quite some time.

So we Ryanair'ed our way home in just over 2 hours. And now we're back. Today it's not really gotten above 4 degrees. I went for a marathon walk after work to pick up my old camera which was being repaired: coat, new leather gloves from Florence, scarf and beanie. Once you warm up, it's quite pleasant. Then I went to a big Asian supermarket and bought everything I need to make Laksa - that will be my weekend project - yumm!

Big slideshow here.

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Toughin' it out

Life it hard for us at the moment. It's just one European destination after the other. The schedule is punishing.

We've just booked our hotels Tuscany! One night in Pisa, 3 nights in Siena and 3 nights in Florence! The hotel in Florence looks really cool - it:

...dates back to the 1500’s. During the French domination of Italy it was occupied by an important French dignitary who threw extravagant parties, entertaining guests that included sovereigns from other countries. In the middle of the seventeenth century it was bought by the family of the present owner and used as their own personal residence. In time it was known as an extremely prestigious antique gallery around Europe and is now a luxurious and welcoming all-suite Palace in the center of Florence.


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Too Many Angels - part 1

I had very mixed feelings about traveling to Austria. Of course I was excited to see two new countries (we flew into Slovakia) and discover, rediscover, and otherwise explore the traces of my family. On the other hand I had in my mind the image of central Europe as the ‘dark continent’ — for centuries the unwilling host of the Jews — and in large part, eventually their murderer and undertaker.

Austria, as I discovered, had as complex a relationship with the Jews as any European country. We visited the Jüdenplatz Museum in Vienna which told the early history in Jews in the area: Jews began settling there from around 1150CE and by 1400CE some 800 inhabitants lived there including merchants, bankers and scholars. Things took a turn when, under Duke Albrecht V, the persecution of the Jews which had begun in the autumn of 1420 grew to a climax in 1421:

In the beginning were many imprisonments, with starvations and tortures leading to executions. Children were deprived and deceived into eating unclean foods, those that were defiant were "sold into slavery" or baptized against their will. The poor Jews were driven out, while the wealthy were imprisoned. The few Jews still living in freedom took refuge in the Or-Sarua Synagogue at Judenplatz, in what would become a three-day siege, through hunger and thirst, leading to a collective suicide. A contemporary chronicle exists, entitled the "Wiener Geserah", translated from German and Hebrew as the "Viennese Decree". It reported that the Rabbi Jonah set the Synagogue on fire for the Jews at Or-Sarua to die as martyrs. This was a form of Kiddush Hashem in order to escape religious persecution and compulsory baptism.

At the command of Duke Albrecht V. the last approximately two hundred survivors of the Jewish community were accused of crimes such as dealing arms to the Hussites and host desecration and on 12 March 1421 were led to the pyre at the so called goose pasture (Gänseweide) in Erdberg and burned alive. The Duke decided at that time that no more Jews would be allowed in Austria henceforth. The properties that were left behind were confiscated, the houses were sold or given away, and the stones of the synagogue were taken for the building of the old Viennese university. However, Jewish settlement in Vienna would not cease as the Duke intended, and a second major ghetto would emerge in Leopoldstadt in the seventeenth century.1

The museum had a video featuring a computer model of the synagogue, and you could walk through to actual archeological site (significantly below street level) and see what features remained.

Again in 1670, Leopold I banished Vienna’s Jewish community “partly at the behest of Viennese merchants, but partly to satisfy the Catholic zealotry of his Spanish wife”2.

And yet, in 1703 a Bavarian attack left this same Leopold unable to pay to defend Austria (the Habsburgs’ were pretty much broke due to unending war). Who should step in but Samuel Oppenheimer, Leopold’s ‘court banker’ who acted both as financier and military contractor — “Hence it was a Jew, resident in a city from which Jews had been expelled, who largely financed and provisioned the war that saved Christendom from the infidel Turk.”3 A delicious little footnote to that story: When Oppenheimer died, the Habsburg regime cancelled the huge debt owed to him and declared his bank bankrupt but this backfired bankrupting the regime as well.

And, in the possibly the only piece of European history that I have read about in two different books (this being an indication of the paucity of my knowledge rather than anything else) in 1744, Maria Theresa, then the reigning Archduchess of Austria ordered the “total and immediate expulsion of the distinguished and long-setting Jewish community of Prague. It was to be carried out immediately. It was to be followed in short order by the expulsion of all Jews from all of Bohemia and Moravia”. Fortunately when leading figures in he Habsburg area were alerted, and the news spread, the response “was electric”4:

Every ruler, minister, parliamentary assembly, or prelate thought likely to be willing to intercede with the empress in Vienna and plead for mercy for her Jewish subjects was approached: the Dutch States-General, the king of England, the king of Denmark, the Senate of the Venetian Republic and the rules of other Italian states, numerous bishops and archbishops, those of Bamburg-Würzburg and Mainz among them, the Pope himself, the Sultan of Turkey— some directly, some indirectly, as each case was thought to warrant.5

Remarkably, “the response was gratifying”6. Eventually the empress was persuaded to change her mind:

Three Jewish nobles were allowed at long last to kneel in the dust before the empress’s carriage and submit a petition for mercy to her. The full expulsion from all Bohemia and Moravia was first postponed, then, in effect rescinded. After a decent interval, those Jews of Prague whose exodus had already begun were allowed to return to their city and to their homes7.

But “Maria Theresa herself remained unrepentant about her hatred of Jews: ‘I know of no greater plague than this race, which on account of its deceit, usury, and hoarding of money is driving my subjects to beggary’”8.

And that is just the “ancient” history.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judenplatz
2 A Concise History of Austria (ACHOA), Steven Beller, p70
3 ACHOA, p78
4 A People Apart (APA) — The Jews in Europe 1789-1939, David Vital, p2
5 APA, p3
6 APA, p3
7 APA, p3
8 ACHOA, p88




Lots to say about Vienna - I intend to write more soon.

It was a very successful trip in that we did everything we set out to do (and more).

For now some photos (large slideshow is best):

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