Younger Sisters and Female Umbels

Ingrid and I spent hours in the two Mozart houses in Salzburg. There was a sound track playing in the background and several of the numbers were straight off of my old meditation CD, minus the crickets.

Why did I quit meditating?  I credit it with helping me get through some really stressful situations.  Gradually, perhaps thanks to meditating, my constant companion of anxiety subsided.  I still feel anxious now and then but nothing like the stabbing, physically painful, constant anxiety I felt for years.  Thanks, meditation, you worked your way out of a job!

I know nothing about music so the personal titbits about Mozart were of most interest to me. “Did you know his wife was the younger sister of the woman he really wanted to marry, but she didn’t love him?” I asked Ingrid.  She nodded disinterestedly.

It was time to move on to an actual concert.  These take place all over Salzburg for tourists.  Ours took place in a thousand-year-old cellar-type place.  A young Russian woman played the harpsichord, which was a forerunner to the piano and has a bit of a canned sound to it.  The acoustics were great.  She played for 45 minutes, got up and bowed, and walked out. Doing it every day must get old.

That was fine; we were hungry.  As we started to walk back to our hotel, the skies opened up again and I was grateful I had carried an umbrella with me all day.  We sloshed along til we were within a block of our hotel and noticed a restaurant our concierge had recommended, the unappealingly named Fuxn.

Fuxn’s deal was genuine Austrian food.  As Ingrid described some of the dishes to me my face may have turned green. Pig knuckles were on the menu.  I had seen a Chinese tourist order pig knuckles in Berlin and they turned my stomach.  Was it the gelatinous goo they sat in? Was it that they were the size of a Volkswagen Beetle?  Was it that the Chinese tourist took one look at them and pushed them away?  All of the above.

I did appreciate the schmalzbrot.  Thanks to my 100-word Yiddish vocabulary, I guessed that it meant bread with chicken fat, and beyond that I didn’t want to know.

About 80% of the menu items involved pork, which made my job easy.  I ordered a salad and Ingrid ordered a dish her mother had made when she was a kid.  As is always the case, it wasn’t as good as her mother’s cooking.

I also ordered a Budweiser, which apparently contained—not just female umbels, but female umbels of the exquisite Saazer hops.

This was the original Bud, not the cheap tasteless beer by the same name that is a frat boy favorite in the US.

“I wonder if Hitler had siblings,” I asked Ingrid in the middle of our meal.  This was not as abrupt a question as it might seem.  We were in Austria, after all, his birthplace.

“I don’t know!” she said, sounding as if she thought she should.

“I bet he was an only child.  No one with siblings could do what he did.”  Apologies to my son, who is an only child, but I do think that being an only can be lonely.  I am biased, since I have three siblings, but how does one learn how to fight fair, share, or empathize without any siblings?

Back at the hotel, Ingrid Googled “Hitler, siblings.”  She had lucked out when she opted for the cot because it was closer to the door so she could just connect to the weak wifi signal.

“Hitler had six siblings!” she read. “Including several step siblings from his father’s first marriage.  He didn’t get along with his father ….”

“Well at least it’s not all the mother’s fault, for once,” I said, turning to my book.

I was reading Little Women and when I opened to where I had left off, it was about how Laurence, who wanted to marry Jo but couldn’t because she didn’t love him, looked up at a painting of Mozart and thought, “He married the younger sister.  I wonder if I could ….”

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