Friday, October 2, 2009

New Roomate-New Experience for the Life Bag

Ching-Ching the doorbell for the apartment rings. It is one of the many weird European sounds like the ambulance or the police siren. Eamon pops up hoping it is the rather attractive girls from upstairs looking for salt again. He reappears, slightly disappointed, and says, shoulders shrugging,"It's John the landlord." I steal a quick look at my indiglo Timex watch and it says 21:15. Is it possible that John is interrupting our family time as we watch the TV series 24 (you remember it came in our care package)? Besides CNN Europe, our dvd, is the only English that comes out of the loudspeakers on our TV.

John apologizes for the interruption, his hair is tossled and he looks like a guy that lost his best friend. He says "I have problem" and I think to myself "So does Jack Bauer on 24!" History tells me that John's problem could be everything from he doesn't want me to leave the windows open when we leave the apartment to the kids leaving the scooters on his new hardwood floors. It's late so I am hoping that it's something simple since my tea is getting cold and Seamus is eyeballing the last Danish Butter Cookie in the tin, the one with the sugar on top. I say "John, what's the problem?" He says "I double book the apartment upstairs on the 3rd Floor." Hmmm, this is not unusual because Team Glavin is on its way to Istanbul,Turkey on Tuesday since John booked OUR apartment because he got his "rent" days mixed up. The pain on John's face reminds me of the look when you get into a car accident with your dad's car. I ask John "How can I help you?" He says "Can the guy from the 3rd floor stay in your apartment Friday night, he leaves on Saturday?" Now lets see if I got this right, you'd like to have a stranger stay with Ann, the 3 kids and me. John says, in his best salesman's pitch, "He's American and a language professor." I look at John and say "Maybe a priest too?" He doesn't get my joke.

Well, if you asked me 4 months ago to give an answer to this question "Can a total stranger stay with you and your family in your apartment in Vienna?" I would have said "Are you out of your freakin mind?" but tonight I simply said "yes." I am growing as a person over here in Europe!! John's relief is just like the feeling you get when your health insurance cost stays the same this year vs last year. He takes me up to the 3rd floor apt. It is the same apartment where I swiped the toaster last time I visited it with John. Who knows maybe I'll get a roommate and a WOK this time around.

I meet Mike Corley, our new cohabitant for Apt 1-4 Shubertgasse. He is not quite 80 years old. He comes down to meet all of us and see his room. We will kick Eamon out of his bedroom so the octogenarian is close to the bathroom. In a mere 20 minutes we learn that Mike's son is the lead tenor in the San Francisco Symphony and outperforms the orchestra, his wife who is 53 years old had surgery for a brain tumor and to correct 2 eyeballs that weren't lined up right after brain surgery, he taught at a community college in Northern California and loves to fly fish. Imagine what we'll learn over 12 hours.

I escort Mike back to his 3rd floor apartment and make arrangements for him to join us the next morning. As I re-enter the 1st floor apartment I can't help but hear the giggles and the loud uproar coming from the living room. I ask "What's so funny?". Seamus almost in tears and Eamon barely able to contain himself yelps "He sounds just like pop-pop Glavin." Did you hear him? "His son is the best in the orchestra, like our Jake in football or me on stage or Pearse in baseball'!!" "He's awesome."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is an update on our video logs. The videos I have made are over the limit for Blogger, therefore we have decided to upload them to Youtube. I have made links for all three of the videos in the Videos section of our website. My Youtube account is ExtremeSnowPandemic, and you have to click the heading "Youtube" to go to my channel.


You see it all the time in the movies, guys huddled around an olive drab army jeep, bombs exploding in the distance as they hope to hear their name called making them one of the lucky few to get that cherished "letter from home." The movies tapped into the simplest human emotion, the desire to be connected. Well Team Glavin received its first "care package from the USA." The UPS brown truck, universal in color and efficiency, dropped a box. Actually he didn't have a key so he called the landlord on the cell phone and delivered it to John the landlord's house. John rang the bell to our apt, yelled "halo" and naturally I thought he wanted to collect the rent a week early. I was thinking"he'll just have to come back later because we didn't get to the bank yet."

You could barely see him as the large brown corrugated box was hiding most of John's body and head. He is a slight man, you know the kind, one who eats fish and salads his whole life. Did I mention he is a Dr.? He is excited to announce "Peekage for you." I suspect that he wants to hang around and see what emerges from the cellophane wrapped, Christmas in September box, but this is a family moment and John kindly excuses himself. He'll be back soon, the rent is due.

The label reads Sender: Total Scope, Inc. and the To: Maurice and Ann Glavin and Family, Wien Austria, Reference: stuff. There is a buzz in the room, anticipation is high. The kids are participating in the centuries old tradition "What could it be?" There's so much cellophane tape that we use the leatherman's "saw blade" because the knife "won't cut it", literally. Sensing an opportunity to prolong things, every dad's prerogative, I slowly open the box ever so slightly and peer in as if to protect the kids from any unknown harm that might be contained inside Pandora's box. The boys are coming unglued "C'mon dad open it already." I pull out the first thing and award a prize to mom "Dan Brown's new book The Symbol" She is elated and the kids have that look "are you kidding me, a book?" 6000 miles of travel and the first thing that emerges from the box from the United States is a book. Mom is elated and the kids, not so excited, Eamon says "If this is this all school stuff, I'm going to kill someone!" Like a magician sensing a crowd change I need to act fast, I throw Eamon multiple bags of Herr's Barbecue potato chips, there are so many he can't catch them all and yellow foil bags drop to the floor. He yelps with glee and I wonder to myself "Would chips work for Christmas?" The fun continues: 2 seasons of the TV series 24. Jack Bauer will be the nightly entertainment until at least November when we depart for Spain. Pearse is elated to get American M&M's because as he says"The European M&M's just aren't the same." Seamus looks longingly hoping for something, anything and his prayers are answered as the word TASTYKAKE jumps off the familiar blue and white cellophane wrapper as if in 3D and he's the only one wearing those special glasses. He's whooping and hollering and runs to turn on the kettle. Dad gets 2 boxes of Lipton decaffeinated tea bags. It is perfect timing because I just started to reuse my tea bags as the concept of "decaffeinated" hasn't hit the European continent yet. The silence is deafening as each boy chows down on his American treats.

UPS package to Austria Cost: $37.00, Total Scope wages to box and ship the package: $180.00,
3 elated kids and a happy wife PRICELESS

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Sunday Morning in September-Vienna

It is hard to believe that we say goodbye to September in a few short days. We are going to start week 12 of the "trip of a life time". The weather in Vienna is cool and crisp, "sweatshirt weather" and not all that different from Pennsylvania. Our return from Russia was fairly easy with the exception of the highly scrutinized passports in Moscow airport and equally investigated upon entry into Austria. The border patrol officer shot us a quizzical look and said "Moscow?" He was having some trouble reconciling the bright gold eagle on the front of the USA Passport and the return to Vienna from Russia. Frankly, you can see his point. That's not exactly a "normal" tourist path but then again "normal" and Glavin aren't usually words found in the same sentence. Thwap thwap, thwap, thwap, thwap went the stamp onto 5 passports and "Welcome back to Austria" said the border patrol agent. And so we close the trip to "Russia" with pictures, memories, a snow globe and a Russian Cossack hat as a memento.

We head to Istanbul formerly known as Constantinople. I don't have the heart to tell Pearse they have a few churches in Istanbul too! Hey at least he knows what a mosaic is now!

til later