Sunday, 30 September 2012

The fearful " Stage Whisper "...

Was it intended to be heard ?

I think we have all been there. Picture it, you are at a family Brunch / Tea and everything is hunky dory. Laughter can be heard among the separate conversation bubbles. Even with all the noise, you can pick up individual chatting. As with most family occasions, everyone is having a good time.

Until a family member ( in books it is always the old aunt ), leans close to your ear and comments supposedly softly, yet negatively about what " such and such " is wearing, doing or saying ! If you are fortunate enough, this " Stage Whisper " can only be heard in your immediate surroundings, yet luck mostly favours the whisperer and the comments are heard by most, especially the person concerned.

There were occasions where I have been on the receiving end of those and it's not fun !
As I am writing this, I think and hope that I have not done the " Stage Whisper " myself, yet most likely will do some " loud " whispering as I get older ( hopefully not the hurtful kind ).

It's one of those situations, that you can either pretend that it did not happen ( diving under the table, to pick up an errant napkin is one way to escape the awkwardness ) or you cover it up with hysterical laughter. But regardless, the cat is out the bag, and someone's feelings were intruded upon. One theory of mine is, that the slightly older crowd is a tad bit hard of hearing and thus underestimate their voice...or the other is that, they meant it to be heard all along !

Of course it is sometimes extremely tricky, if you know that a certain family member is prone to these " Stage Whispers ". It becomes a game of cat and mouse. When you see the person leaning towards your ear, or when the hand comes up in front of the mouth ( as if that would make it less obvious ), you instantly try to shift the conversation towards something totally unrelated. Personally I have pointed out birds flying past, or the wonderful look of food on a plate or as a last resort rudely interrupted !

What have you done to avert an oncoming " Stage Whisper " ?

" The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all "

Carl Jung The Portable Jung (Portable Library)


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bretzen Made the Bavarian Way.

October Fest in Burgenland, Part 2.

We are an ingenious lot. Bretzen ( Pretzels ) have been part of German Food culture since the middle ages. Possibly more in Bavaria. Of course no one really knows, but personally I suspect that an industrious Beer Brewer started serving the salty Bretzen along with his beer, and thus made his customers doubly thirsty...!

For our little October Fest, my Mum decided to make some Bretzen. That is quite an effort, as they have to be dunked into some sort of " lauge/baking soda " before baking. Never mind making the dough and rolling it into a Bretzen shape. Not as easy as it looks.

As with any party the world over, we women were in the kitchen, cooking and baking. In my case, I was more cheering and chatting along. The men were outside and not letting their Keg get out of eyesight. Every now and again, one of them would be sent in to check on the Bretzen progress ! Beer does not taste the same without it. When we at last took the Bretzen out to the men, they disappeared at the speed of light. They tasted so amazing, that I think they will be part of my baking repertoire.

We did have a opening ceremony ie, hitting the tap into the barrel. A bit of the beer escaped as foam out the top ( which was not properly tightened ). The men almost cried thinking of all the lost beer. My aunt's little dog, Emily, was hovering near the spillage and we suspected that she had a taste, as she fell asleep rather quickly !

My uncle had brought ( special request from my cousin ) his Accordion, and was playing all kinds of ditties. Of course as the evening progressed, he was not alone with his music. Everyone contributed their version of singing which got more interesting as the Keg got emptier ! It was one of those at " short notice " kind of party's, which turned out to be magical and will be thought and talked of often.


I only managed to get a pre-picture, as the Bretzen disappeared so quickly.

Ironic to see the vines in the background of the Beer drinker...

Friday, 28 September 2012

An Expat from Bavaria !

October Fest in Burgenland - Part 1.

It is one of those things, you only get to fully understand, if you are an expat. Traditions which you eschewed while living at home, suddenly become the be-all and end-all of life ! Having lived in South-Africa for so long, I can attest to some " traditional " things I did, that others would laugh at
( Memories of attending, or rather my Mum wanted me to go with, a Heino concert when I was a Teenager still surface now and again ).

Albert ( my step-dad ) was born close to Munich. Most of his adult life, he has been an Expat and his yearning for traditions have grown stronger as time goes bye. As long as I have known him, he never had a pair of Lederhosen ( traditional bavarian outfit ), yet living here in Burgenland, he got a pair and proudly wears them on special occasions, and really looks nice in them.

Lederhosen are made of leather and NEVER get washed. In fact the more valuable ones are extremely old and could stand up by themselves ! Not sure about the smell...Bob is very keen to get a pair, and when he sees them in the shops ( for some reason they are very trendy at the moment and can even be bought at Amazon ), he is in seventh Heaven...

My cousin and her husband ( from Bavaria ) visit my parents almost every year, and thus have realized how much Albert loves the October Fest. It is quite a mission to go for one day, so it is mostly an item on his Wish-List.
Well, most vacationers take sun-tan lotion and books etc, but not my wonderful family. They arrived here with a 20 liter Keg of special October Fest beer. Their logical reasoning being, if Albert can't go to Munich, they are going to bring a bit of Munich to him...

Albert's eyes have had a happy sparkle and his face a huge smile, since he saw the Keg and was instantly planning an October Fest for us here. The beer had to be cooled first, and an old fridge was remodelled to accomodate the Keg...After a worrying half hour of trying to fit the Keg ( can you imagine warm Beer ? ) Bob figured out a way, and saved the day ! Somehow men tend to get inventive when the reward of Beer is involved...

Check in tomorrow for part 2 .


Albert and his Keg of Beer...can you see the big smile ?

Goodness, can you see how strong Bob is...! You'll have to take my word for it, that it is still full !

Waiting to be " tapped "

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Now that you are older, do you drive differently ?

Does The Way you Drive give away your Age ?

They say that to change your routine is the way to discover new things. To cut out the hills for a while, I changed my walking route and it now includes a bit of the main road through our village.

Yesterday was again one of those magical days in Burgenland, where the weather was Mediterranean and the birds were on top form producing tweets of music. Contemplating the beauty of life, I suddenly heard a high pitched kind of noise. If you can imagine a mosquito buzzing and multiply this by a thousand. This noise was akin to a nail being cruelly run over the chalkboard. Just plain awful.

Wondering where it could be from, it came closer until suddenly the penny dropped for me. It was a car driven at high speed ( 50km/h ) and in second gear. Worried that it might be someone who had an emergency and needed help, I stopped just in case. But no, a " slightly " older lady was driving and gave me a cheery wave. No problem there !

Of course now, I was fascinated by this and started recalling other similar happenings. Does the slightly older crowd, just forget to switch gear, or is it just too much effort to move the foot and hand, to shift and switch ? Or do they want to protect the gear lever by not using it overmuch, therefore making it last longer !! ? Maybe as we get older, we loose all compassion for our car ?

When does this style of driving encroach upon us ? In our fifties or ( hopefully not ) in our forties ? I know, that I am already driving slower and at night times, I tend to slow down to a crawl ! Definitely no more roaring twenties.

Of course, the funniest thing is watching drivers who are used to automatic suddenly drive a manual. Very high-pitched protest can be heard from the engine, and passengers conveniently slump into their seats trying to be invisible...

Have you any stories about your economic yet unusual driving methods as you progress through life ? Let me know...


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Have You Ever Noticed...

How Set in Our Way's we Become ?

When does it start ? Suddenly you notice that certain attitudes and behaviour change. Or that your tolerance has a different set point. Maybe you catch yourself realizing that your actions and reactions to situations resemble that of your parents.

For me, the different phases of socializing through the decades were a dead give away.
In my twenties, the proof of a " with-it " life ( yes, in our twenties we tend to be more shallow ), was how often I went out with friends to clubs and parties. Tiredness never even crossed my mind when after eight hours of work, the phone would ring and we would organize a night out. Lack of sleep was considered a sign of popularity. Honestly, I could not understand how the slightly older lot, would only want to rush home and stay there watching TV, etc !

In my thirties, it slowed down on its own, as more and more friends moved away or got married. Invites to nights out dwindled drastically, and the few that came along, were conveniently on a Saturday night. Those left enough recovery time on Sunday, so that I would not notice that my stamina had diminished.

Now when I headed into my forties, the pull of the couch ( with a TV not too far ) waiting loyally for me at home, started to enter my thoughts already in the afternoons. One of the most important magazines to have, is the TV schedule, with a hint of panic setting in, the odd times I forget to buy it. In fact, when an unexpected invite comes along, it is not the " be-all " it was in my twenties. Yes, I had and have grown up.

Luckily, now in my forties, discos ( yes, showing my age ) are off the menu. A night out is more sedate, with a meal at a restaurant or at friends. Bob, being four years younger than me, is still at the in between phase...

He compensates by having his " night-out " music in the car, and putting it full volume. So the few times we do have a night out, our car gets turned into a mobile Disco, with the older nag
( ah, that's me ) saying irritating things like : " It's so loud, can't you turn it down " ?
Definitely set in my ways...


Bob's choice which helps him re-live his twenties...!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

In Vino Veritas...?

The Interesting Details always Emerge at some point of a Party...

Most of us have had these experiences. Going to an evening out at friends or family, is always akin to opening a " Lucky Packet ". It definitely will be a surprise, you are going to like it, but you never know how big a surprise, and how much you are going to like it !

Just like any other place where lots of people get to meet, parties are no different. You get the different type of characters, that are the so unique by themselves yet they make a party. The Loner, the Talker, the Joker, the Shy-one, the Carer, the Listener and the Observer.

Most of us can identify with all these characters and I know that throughout my life, I have filled most of these roles at various parties. Lately, as I am the designated driver and don't drink alcohol, the role of Observer is tailor-made for me ( Gosh, to think of all the " gems " I used to say when I had a few glasses of wine and thinking they were unbelievably hilarious...oops ).

Last night, was one of those spontaneous get-together's, that is so special, nice, funny and interesting...! My Uncle, Aunt, Cousin and her husband have come to enjoy the natural charms of Burgenland, combining it with the opportunity to see us all. To me it was like Manna from Heaven, as I am still soaking up all those wonderful family experiences.

We had got to the part of the evening, where the hidden yawns were doing the rounds. Everyone was to embarrassed to make the first move to leave, yet hoping someone would do it. In one of those lulls in the conversation, my Uncle suddenly piped up,
" I know so many secrets about the family that would make you speechless, but I am not going to tell you ! " Of course now we were all awake and highly riveted. Who wouldn't be. Family secrets that might go back generations..." Please tell us. "
" No, I won't tell anyone and I will take them to my grave. "

Of course my Uncle was a little bit tiddly, but adamant that he would not divulge those secrets he teased us about. We valiantly tried a lot of tongue-loosening methods, yet to no avail ! It just goes to show, that there is some truth to the saying " in vino veritas ", yet it obviously depends on the amount consumed...


Monday, 24 September 2012

Spending Time with Family.

Don't forget your family !

Moving overseas at the ripe old age of 12 was the most exciting thing for me. When you are that young, you think in increments of days or possibly months. Just as well, because the notion of forever ( or in my case 30 years ) would have been daunting.

What I did not understand too well at the time, was the implications of not seeing all my various family for long stretches of time. The odd visit now and again. My life was enriched immensely by moving overseas, but of course, the fly in the ointment, was not seeing my family often.

Now that I am back in Europe, I have had a feast of seeing family.
In fact, when I get to see family, I tend to hang onto their every word, to garner facts and information which I imbibe and treasure. I am pretty certain, that they have never had such a captive audience !
When my uncles tell me about their grand kids, I realize that I skipped a whole generation and would not know them, if I passed them in the street. But that is life, you gain in one area and loose out in another. Yet, every turn that you take on " life's " streets, was the one meant for you.

Through the years of working in The ( Hair ) Salon, I was privileged to be able to have great conversations and interactions with clients. The one thing that I always felt sad and slightly angry about though, was how families used to not see each other, even though they lived in the same town. It was mostly because of some slight ( imagined or real ), or just not finding the time in these busy times ( really ? ) to visit.

Each time I heard anything along those lines, I wanted to remind them, and sometimes did, that I would have to jump on a plane, to see family. They could just jump on a bicycle, or in a car and visit. I suppose that this is human nature. You only tend to appreciate what you don't have.

Maybe just today, make the time to visit a family member or just phone them to say " Hello "...


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Who's in Charge, My Ego or Me ?

Trip to the Dentist with Surprising Results.

For months now, I have been eating lopsided. A painful tooth on my left side, forced me to chew only on the right side. Visions of having a overdeveloped one-sided jaw, were always there. In June I had a filling, yet it was no better.

Like a lot of others, I am not overly fond of Dentists. One gets used to many things, even a one-sided eating habit. My Mum, of course, nagged me to go and have it seen to. When she saw my reluctance, she knew how to convince me. Several tales of teeth rotting or teeth just falling out, came my way ! Mums are good in that department.

The day arrived for my appointment. Bob made jokes about what I would look like without some of my teeth. Cheeky sod ! I already had an image of joining the denture brigade ! Knowing that Dentists are on a par with Hairstylists, by letting you wait a while for your appointment
( possibly a few experience the same amount of fear for both ), I took reading material. Thinking it a good opportunity to read something positive, I chose a book by Dr.Wayne W. Dyer.

Sitting on the uncomfortable couch in the waiting room, and seeing other sufferers, was no picnic, until I began to read. Usually I just open a page at random and know that that is what I need to read. Wow, was I right. It distinguished the difference between Ego and Self. Ego is the one that makes us feel scared, cross, angry, poor and paints negative outcomes to situations. When you acknowledge that the ego is not the true you, life's problems are just stepping stones for our journey.

Right, I thought, let me think of a successful outcome today with the Dentist. I really did. When it eventually was my turn, I sat waiting on the comfortable recliner ( the one with all those torture instruments attached to it ) and pictured my teeth being well. By now, I know that a lot of you are rolling their eyes, but that is me...!

The Dentist came in, asked me where it was sore, looked on the X-ray and told me that it was just an errant yet ( thankfully ) alive nerve. There was no need to do anything, the situation would right itself. With the biggest of grins, I skipped out of there and could not wait to get home and tell everyone...Seeing how quickly good thoughts often work, I have been glued to his book all weekend.




Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Surefire Way to Meet Your Neighbours !

While At The Same Time Making a Good Impression...

Put on your old clothes, take an upturned Beer crate and sit in front of your garden wall, on the outside of your house. Take a chisel and a hammer with you and use it ( correctly ). When you start to do the work, mysteriously, someone will drive by or walk past. It is the greatest conversation opener.

Most people love to chat while watching someone else do the work ( in fact, I could grow quiet fond of that, Bob ). Suggestions of improved methods will come by the dozens and you have to diplomatically nod to all of them. Before you know it, you are part of the community. Of course, you have to make sure not to talk too much, as you don't want to get a reputation for being lazy ! Hey, these things happen.

Gosh, the work around our house just never ends. In a way it is therapeutic and also gives us a bit of a work-out. But there are moments, when I feel like writing to all those Home Make-Over programs. They ( in a typical Hollywood manner ) put fairy dust into my eyes and made me believe the fable of " It is so easy ( and fun ) to repair & fix up an old house "....

Tomorrow we are plastering parts of our garden wall, especially those facing the road.
My Mum has been pointing out that it is a bit of an eyesore for the neighbours. Possibly also for her ? The paint has started to part company with the wall and been hanging precariously off it. That is why Bob and I have been sitting in front of the wall, chiseling and peeling away the errant paint strips. It sounds rather simple, yet it packs a punch, especially when you miss the chisel and hit your hand instead. At least we got to interact with the neighbours and definitely gave them a good show !


As I mostly take the pictures, there is never any proof of me working !

Friday, 21 September 2012

Indicators That The Honeymoon Phase is Over !

How Long Did It Last in Your Case ?

Being with someone special is just the bee's knee's ! It is what we all secretly hope and pray for, and if we are lucky enough, we get to be with that special one.

We all know how unbelievably magical and blinding those first few weeks can be. You would think that the " other " one is faultless and perfect...In fact, we tend to wax lyrically to our friends and family, endlessly boring them in the process.

Usually the chips start to fall off our eyes when we move in together or get married. Suddenly
( unexpectedly ) bits of the magic changes into bits of reality. You know the look, almost this shell shocked expression, when you see a different side of your partner. One that no one warned you about. Gosh, it turns out that they have imperfections like we do.

One of the indicators signalling reality in the " coupledom " is the business of going to the eh...toilet. When your significant other does not worry about certain aromas and noises coming from there ( especially if they know you have to go in there straight after and didn't open the window ) ! Can you remember back to the first few weeks, when you wondered if your partner ever actually used the toilet ?
( I know, that my husband used to leave early in the morning and shoot up the road to his parents, to use their loo ).

Or when you wake up in the middle of the night to this horrendous rattling sound... snoring. For some reason, we all don't like to own up to this one ! In fact, I always tell Bob that he is imagining it, because ( of course ) I don't snore... It is quite disconcerting to find out that you are not this omnipotent hero to the other. Oh, there are so many instances that transition us into the great ( real ) part of
" coupledom ".

It is a fun road to discovery and when you get to the destination of the " real " spouse/partner, it is like reaching a milestone.
The hard work of pretending to be so perfect is over and we can start to sit and laugh ( sometimes cry ) at our traits. From comparing smells coming out of the toilet, to differences of opinions and my all time favorite :
Knowing that you love each other regardless of all the above and that now you can let " your hair down " and just be yourself..


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Burgenland Villages That Look Like Movie Sets.

The Characters Just Jump off the Page.

Winter is approaching and the smart ones start to stock up on some form of heating material. A friend of my parents had a lot of old fire wood in her shed; remnants of the previous owner ( the dust and cobwebs proved it ). She wanted to get rid of it, and we collected it. Fair exchange as we had to do a few car and trailer trips to fetch the wood.

I had never been to her village nor her house. It was at the end of a picturesque road with most of the individual gardens blooming and blossoming. A few ladies were tending to their gardens and dogs were doing their proprietary march along the fences. As we drove past the houses, the heads would come up to see who we were and I saw a few curtains twitch. The sky was overcast with rain just around the corner. Somehow it reminded me of the English villages depicted in movies and books.

It was almost predictable, that the house we went to, was the last on on the street. A white picket fence and three hysterically barking, curious yet excited dogs greeted us . The friend was trying in vain to quieten the mob, while opening the gate for us. She was in her sixties and straight away I thought of a Character in a Miss Marple story set in " St. Mary Mead ".

The church was close by and my mind went into overdrive, imagining all the murder plots in the village and the sleuthing of them.

Living in a small village now, makes me realize how much we know of other peoples business. Luckily, I think, people are curious enough to know about us and our lives. Having grown up in larger towns, Agatha Christie's villages were the most wonderful, comforting and exciting thing to read, but it was pure fiction.

Now, I can see how she could solve all those crimes the way she did. Living in a small village is like an open book. Everyone can see what is on the page, and the curious few can even pick up the open book and look at other pages. I would not change this life in a small village for anything, and should anything sinister happen, my years of reading Agatha Chrisie will stand me in good stead !


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Quintessential Procrastinator.

Doing It My Way...

You get the odd lot of people who jump up and attend to chores as soon as they need to be done. Well ( un ) fortunatley, I am not part of this Elite Squad !

Where did they get their training ? Is that kind of instinct placed into the cradle or is it somehow a reflection on how hard their parents " drilled " them ? Well, sorry Mum, I belong to the thought camp of Laissez-Faire. In fact, if I dig a little deeper and research this field, I am sure that I would be part of the majority.

The irony is that we all want what we can't have or do, so now and again, I try to map out a suitable strategy to make me maybe switch sides and join the elite squad. Surprisingly I put vasts amount of mental energy into this challenge. Sadly this strategy only lasts a few minutes until I see something on TV or go back to reading my novel. In fact, it's almost an art form. Evading chores, that is.

Eventually one of two things tend to happen. Either the " chore " not done gets to be such an eyesore, that I start to do it. Or the guilt, which tends to get a louder voice in my mind ( or could it possible be the " gentle " parental reminders ), gets to much and I just do it.

It just occurred to me, that I have not specified what I would classify as a chore. To me a chore is: re-plastering the wall, painting said wall, re-digging the vegetable garden, cementing the driveway and cleaning out the get the idea !

Now here comes what I call the Kicker or Last laugh of the universe. As soon as I have finished any long overdue chore, I feel enthusiastically inclined to do more and more. The experts
( parents ) are right in their stance of " Do it straight away and you'll feel better ".

It almost is impossible to stop myself from attending to another chore. Almost, but not quite. The lure of lazying contently on the couch is just too strong. No need to belong to the one percent ! Which Camp do you belong to ? My husband Bob enthusiastically announced his membership of the Elite which I am going to hold him to!


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Learning to Become a Money Magnet.

Trying a Different Approach.

As you know, moving to Burgenland was definitely the best choice and we like it here. Though like anything worthwhile in life, it has some difficulties and " Tests " that come with it.

Moving to a new country involves many things and for us it also meant starting again from the bottom of the " financial " ladder. In a way it is exciting and most certainly challenging. A lot of the normal everyday stuff we always took for granted, are now a luxury for us.

It is amazing how we now appreciate the little things. When the phone rings, we both hold thumbs that it is a client, and then do a little happiness dance, when it is. Grocery shopping is also an extremely basic affair. Really just the essentials.

Having always worked and earned a good salary, these kind of problems were always an abstract idea for me. But you know, Bob and I know that it is part of the deal and as the saying goes :
" What doesn't kill you makes you stronger "...

I had bought this book by Marie-Claire Carlyle How to Become a Money Magnetyears ago. The other day I saw it on the bookshelf and started to read it again. With these new thoughts and tips swirling around in my mind, I went for my walk yesterday. About half-way in, I saw a ten cent coin on the path in front of me. Even though a car was coming up behind me, I bent down to pick it up
( hoping the car wouldn't just see a backside sticking up in the air ). Mentally I said a great Thanks to the universe for sending me a bit of money.

Can you believe it, I had not even gone a few meters further, and I stumbled across an Euro. Wow, my money-magnetism is working. The rest of my walk, I kept an eagle eye out for greater rewards but it seems that I have to make small steps first...

Just a little thought : If you intend to help a friend or family member who is not doing so well financially, why don't you get them a bag of groceries ( as little or as much as you want ) and drop it off or have it sent ( Amazon Grocerieshas a grocery section and delivers if they don't live close to you ). From what I have learnt, that would be a good and useful way to help out. Giving is better than Receiving.


Monday, 17 September 2012

More Pictures of our Area, Here In Burgenland.

A Few Of My Impressions.

This Monday morning, I thought to just show you some of my pictures. I hope you like them.


A wonderful little Chapel along my walk, on the edge of the village.

Farming and Wines...The Lifeblood of our area.

Bob picking peaches of our tree. Not sure if we used them for Jam or Schnapps...

The Happy Peach Cutter ! Step one, Fermenting.

Where I took the picture is Austria and the house on the hill is in Hungary.

I never realized that Pumpkin fields also have such beautiful flowers.

Our village church.

Flowers in my mum's garden.

Counting the wine bottles !

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Chickens...Really ?

City Girl Getting a Biology Lesson !

Like any good wife, I try to make the bed everyday. Not always at the same time, but generally it gets done in the morning...Keeping a house tidy is hectic and personally, I think the best time to receive visitors, is after dark. During the day, when the sun is still out, every dusty corner and crevice gets horribly illuminated !

My Mum still lives in the hope that I will turn the corner into a fabulous house-cleaner. Every now and then I throw her a treat, and do a good clean ( when I know she is coming over ).

When Bob and I first got together, he was a neat freak ( only until he knew I was a goner ). My Mum was ecstatic and had visions of Bob keeping me on the clean and tidy path. Now, we both run competitions on who gets to do less housework..

Anyway, while shaking out the duvet ( always less labour intensive ) in a casual manner, I happened to glance out the window. Oh drat, the chickens were out gallivanting again. Among them was Bob's favorite chick, whom he aptly named " Comb-Over ". Somehow, the comb on top of her head flops alarmingly over to the left, and it reminded him a most famous business guy, who sports said hair-do ! ( As it is a chicken and not a duck, he couldn't use the first name ).

" Bob, Comb-Over is outside with all her friends ".
" I'll be there in a minute ". Carrying on making the bed, I kept an eye out out for the chickens. All over sudden, the rooster starts attacking Comb-Over form the back, and sitting on top of her , wings flapping like mad and funny crowing coming from his beak. Now I was really panicked and screamed for Bob, " Come quickly, the rooster is attacking Comb-Over. He has just jumped on top of her. "

Bob came running, took one look outside and started laughing uncontrollably, with tears running down his face and told me " You so silly, he is just having leg-over. You caught them in the act."
Well...I must say, it can't have been fun for Comb-Over, as she carried on eating the whole 10 seconds !


A " goner " for Comb-Over !

I thought she was just stretching...maybe the start of the mating ritual ?

I am sorry, but Comb-Over is my girl...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

More than enough Income yet paying off a Mortage ?

Did our Parents have the Right Idea after all ?

There was a news item the other day about Ben Bernanke re-financing his Mortgage rate. Surely that cannot be true ? Should a man in his fifties, highly successful and earning a lot, still even have a Mortgage ?

This has been bothering me for a while. Why has this economist not paid off his mortgage. Isn't it the first order of the day, to pay off your debt ? Thinking about this problem brought my attention to more " high-earning " individuals, who do the same. Look, not all that shines is gold and more than a few millionaires like to spend like billionaires or live vicariously through multiple marriages and alimony.

My parents grew up just after the second World War, when things were difficult and a lot of people had nothing. To this day, my Mum never throws out left-overs. That would almost amount to a sin. If possible, they pay off all debt, before they spend on luxuries. If you think of your parents or grandparents, I am sure that they had paid off their homes by the time they were middle aged ! Having any kind of debt, was and is more like a red flag to this generation.

Maybe they've had the answer to our modern dilemma all along. Yes, everyone needs to spend to keep the economy going, but if we all spend on credit ( debt ), we mostly keep the banks happy and lose a lot of sleep trying to keep our jobs, which is such a vital link in this chain. Ideally we should all spend with money that we actually have right now. Hectic idea !

Imagine how your monthly budget would be, if you had no debt to pay back. There would be so much more to spend on the things you want or you could just invest it and make it grow.

Should the world of Business and Economics not teach us to pay off our debt as soon as possible. Paying interest on homes or cars, i.e the big ticket items, takes a lot out of our pay-cheques and if you calculate the interest rate charged, you will get to realize how much more you pay for them.

Scouring the Internet, you can find lots of tips to pay off your home loan faster: paying the same amount bi-weekly instead of monthly can save a lot already.


Friday, 14 September 2012

Renewable Engery in Guessing, Burgenland.

Scientists visit Guessing from all over the World

For us, a day out to go shopping, is usually to Oberwart or Guessing. Just to put it into context, we have about 400 villagers yet Guessing has close on 4000 and most of the major shops and Supermarkets.

Most likely you are sitting reading this and having a good laugh and I can understand that. But you know, when we get into Guessing or Oberwart, we do actually think of it as a big town. Once you are in a Shopping Mall, it all seems similar to any other Mall. We can easily buy everything we need and want and the items we cannot get in Guessing are easy to order online.

There is one ( of many ) amazing fact about Guessing. It has created and developed an eco-friendly method to cover most of its own renewable engery. When you read how this came about, you can only be impressed. A small place, that used to be one of the poorest in Austria has turned itself, in the space of 20 years, into the envy of the World !

Visitors, scientist and VIP's come from all over the world, to see this " green " marvel and how they can copy this process. Last year, even a King of an African Country visited with his entourage of many.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has also been a few times to tour the facilities. But as he grew up just down the road ( in Graz ), I imagine that he also likes visiting his childhood " neighbourhood ".
The various radio DJ's often sound the " Arnie " alert on the radio. People are proud of him, and always try and speak to him or get his Autograph. I know that I get rather excited when I hear the alert and often wonder when I see a fancy foreign car, if he might be driving in it.

Who knew, that by moving to a tiny village in Burgenland, I would be slap-bang in the middle of some of those famous people, whom I only read about in Newspapers and Magazines...


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Tourism Event, South-Burgenland.

Wine Farmers of other European Countries

My parents are members of the South-Burgenland tourism association. Now and again they get invited to functions that try to promote the different areas of tourism. We get to tag along so that we get to meet and know people and also for a night out...

Last night we went to Moschendorf and were not quite sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. It was a meeting of smaller wine farmers of the different wine regions of Europe. Croatia, Italy, Germany and Corsica, to name a few. I think the main objective was to meet other wine farmers and to exchange ideas of how to promote and increase the tourism to each area. The renting out of Kellerstoeckls to tourists enhances the whole South-Burgenland experience.

As with most functions, in the beginning everyone was a bit shy, but as the wine began to flow, we all mingled, chatted, bragged and exchanged some ideas ! Strangely enough, the common language used was English, with the Deputy Mayor of Guessing giving his speech in English.
( I will write more about the innovative marvel of Guessing in the next few days )

It was a very casual evening, with the traditional regional foods to eat and wines to drink. As the evening wore on, the organizers brought out fabulous bottles of wines from the other regions of Europe. Very enjoyable for my parents and Bob, but not for me, as I was the designated driver.

The " secret " that I know about Burgenland, was dawning on the guests and also on the locals. Burgenland, with all its regions including South-Burgenland, is a nature paradise. Just driving around and taking in all its colorful splendor and simplicity is wonderful every day. The people are friendly and warm with the food and wines on offer of an exceptional taste. We mostly agreed, that tourists love coming here, because it somehow reminds them of what life is all about.
Simplicity is a new Trend !

The only thing that a tourist should stress about, is what time to get up, which superb local wine to taste, which Buschenschank to choose and to not miss all the spectacular wildlife that runs around so freely.


Everyone was camera shy, so I could only take this picture of the food...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Watching TV Subconsciously...

Another Important Step in Learning German.

Like most married couples who have been together for more than one year, we have our power struggles choosing the TV schedule ! For us, one year was more or less the end of the
" honeymoon " phase and the emergence of the " real " us.
For my part, it used to be " whatever you would like to watch is fine with me, honey ", while slightly cringing inside at the prospect of watching more sport ! For Bob, most likely, he saw far too many romances in our first year of marriage ...But all this is in past !

Saturday evening, one of Bob's favorite movies was on TV ( albeit dubbed into German )...Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. With that in mind, I had free reign with Friday night's TV schedule, and used it well ( Most movies start at 20.15 pm and realistically I only get to see the first 20 minutes, as I fall asleep without fail ).

About half an hour before Bob's movie started, I changed the station onto the right one for Bob. The News ( in German ) was on. I was in the kitchen making our supper and Bob was chatting to me about various things he saw on the News. A curious and funny thing about sound ( for me ) is, that while I am sitting in front of the TV, it seems too soft and I turn up the volume often. Yet in the kitchen, it seems extremely loud.

As I was chopping and stirring the food, I listened to the News and so knew that Bob had really understood most of it ( Bob's been learning German for a year now ). All over sudden, I could hear Bob talking unkindly to the remote ! Finally he asked me,
" Schatzi ( my artistic licence ) What channel is my movie on ? "
" Bob, I already had it on the right channel. You were watching it just now. " To which Bob replied, " It wasn't the right channel. I have been watching the News in English, and the movie is on a German channel. "

Yeah, Bob is already processing German as if it was his native English ! Of course he did not believe me at first, but then when he realized that he watched German but thought it was English, he grinned from ear to ear...


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What an Awful Smell !

Discovering the Culprit.

We went to do a Grocery shop yesterday in one of the neigbouring villages. Slowly, people are starting to recognize us ( in a good way ), as we get the odd but happy " Hello " with recognition behind it.

Bob and I have this little routine at the check out because you have to pack everything yourself. He stands at the end of the conveyor belt and packs the stuff while I put it on the conveyor belt to be scanned. In the process of power lifting a 5 kg pack of potatoes onto the conveyor belt my nose was overpowered by an awful smell.

Instantly I turned to see who it was. Ah yes there was another customer queuing behind me. The thought crossed my mind that it was a damned cheek for her to venture into public spaces smelling like that ! But she was soon forgotten and we were driving home.

Yet even in the car the awful smell seemed to linger. I saw Bob surreptitiously checking his shoes for dog excrement and then throwing me one of those looks that can only mean one thing...
" was it you " ?

It was a hot day again, so we had the windows down with music blaring. Just like any other married couple ( not Newlyweds ) we do have heated domestic arguments over whose music we listen to. For example: The Cure versus Frank Sinatra !

The smell vanished until we got home and started to unpack everything. Gagging at the pure awfulness of it we stumbled on its source...the potatoes. With more daring than sense I put my nose into the packet and almost passed out.

After sorting that lot out it suddenly dawned on me. At the supermarket we ( innocently ) were the cause of that disgustingly and awful smell. Oh, I can just imagine what the lady behind us was thinking... How embarrassing !


Monday, 10 September 2012

Another mouse inside the house.

Morsel shopping at the Butcher's.

A while ago, we had our first ( well, known to us ) mouse visitor. They really are mostly invisible as they zoot about at the speed of something else ! When sitting watching TV or eating a meal, you suddenly see a flash in the corner of your line of sight. Just fast enough, that you know its useless to get up and try to run and catch it. Or you hear a constant little tapping sound in the kitchen cupboards. Must be their teeth hitting the wood ?

Living in the country, it is just part of the deal, but it has to be resolved ( these mice are rather energetic in the reproductive department and do tend walk all over your kitchen ). Our resident feral cat Tigger, has most likely been feed a bit too much by us. As we have yet to be given the opportunity to pet Tigger, I am certain that we would never entice her to go inside our house...

We have tried different morsels of attraction in the trap. Cheese was left ignored for days, yet bits of raw bacon have been the winner. Bob, being the strong husband, has to do all the horrible bits and organize the traps.

We were in town the other day to get more bacon. Bob double parked while I sprinted into the butchery. When it was my turn to be served, I asked the shop assistant, " Can you please cut me a tiny bit of bacon for my mouse trap. About the size of a match box. "
Her eyes popped wide open, and she gave me one of those looks that can only be described in two ways : Are you mad or is there a hidden camera somewhere....

Of course just for good measure, I added " can you also cut it into mouse-bite size ".
She looked at me for a few long seconds, but then proceeded to show me the different cuts of bacon. I couldn't resist..." Give me the one that the mice would like best. ".
In silence she wrapped up my little parcel and charged me 45 cents !

Oh, I so like our new life here in Burgenland.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Family time spent the " Modern " way.

Getting everyone to sit together as a family.

When I was growing up we spent our days ( apart from being in school ) outside. Just playing and having fun. Most of the kids in the village played together. Climbing tress, building tree houses, exploring the countryside or just hanging out. The ages ranged from very young to ancient
( teenagers ). During the holidays, we used to be outside from after breakfast and had to be dragged in before supper.

At my house, after a necessary bath and supper, we mostly watched shows on TV, together as a family. The annoying thing that I remember about it, was that my older brother could watch longer than I, resulting in a few pouts and grumbles from me !

My mum always used to tell me, that in their day they either played cards together or played
( with instruments ) music, as a family. I think she wanted to show me, how lucky I was to watch some TV. Of course being young, I never appreciated that fact.

This morning, I watched a program on BBC...Click. As I was playing a game on Facebook and watching at the same time, I nearly fell off my chair, when I heard the presenter say something along the line of : Watching TV is the new way to spend time together as a Family.

Giving it some thought, I realized that everyone has their own computer or smart phone, which usually means that we are all involved in our own world. It kind of makes sense when considering this, that watching TV together in the lounge, is the new " modern " way to spend time as a family.

Of course this is why the TV's get bigger and better...


Here are two quotes from a Website of Mark Twain's quotes, I found so amazing:
" A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."

" When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you getting old."

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Paying The Bill The Old Fashioned Way.

Wonderful traditions here in Burgenland.

Yesterday my parents asked us, if we would like to join them at a local Buschenschank. That's another thing that Bob finds so great about Burgenland, and if he could, he would go to a Buschenschank most nights. My parents mostly decide to go out at the last minute, and when they call us, it is usually on the way to the place.

It was about six, when the phone rang. I had just showered and made myself comfortable on our TV couch, watching the opening Murder scene of my favorite show. It was my mum asking us to join them. In the blink of an eye, almost like a Super-Hero, Bob lept up from the computer, and already started to change while on the way to the bedroom. Obviously we were going to the Buschenschank ! In fact, he had already started the car, while I was still getting ready.

We are lucky, as there are many different Buschenschanks within a five minute radius. Not even fifteen minutes elapsed, before we were sitting next to my parents, ordering the typical local and homemade food and wine.

Going out in our small village is always a nice way to meet and greet the community. Walking to and from our table included many " Servus's " and " Hallo's ".
Like any other evening out, this one also included fun, a few rounds of drink, good conversation and nice simple food.

The only " downside " usually, when it is time to pay the bill ( only effective if you drink a bit too much ), is that you and not the waitress, must remember what you had to eat & drink. The old fashioned way to pay the bill. Honesty and Trust. I think that this is so fabulous. In today's world, where do you still get such a system ?

The amazing thing is, that when such trust is placed on people, they live up to it...


Bob's in a hurry to get there.

The Buschenschanks are mostly in the middle of vineyards and have great views.

Friday, 7 September 2012

It is impossible to make everyone happy !

Tough Critics...

Why do we worry about what a friend said about us. Hopefully to us and not to someone else. Even voicing an opinion, can become a quagmire of emotions. Surely as we grow older, we should worry less about such rather " trivial " things.

Yet, for me, these worries surface again and again. Did I say the wrong thing to so and so, was
" X " more withholding in our conversation or did " Y " not greet me as usual ? Maybe it is in part a result of being brought up to please and be pleasant to others, so that I will be liked. Being liked is the most wonderful thing, but more importantly, it should be because I am just myself and not some " pretend " persona.

As I get to be more comfortable with myself, warts and all, I have times, where it does not matter too much what others' think about me. But it is an ongoing learning process. A while ago, I read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, which has some pointers and clearly I must read it again...
In part, this makes life such fun, because it is an ongoing learning process.

What started me thinking along these lines, were a few important speeches I saw on TV. I am in awe of anyone, who is able to speak in public. Even more so to speak in front of thousands and keep them riveted. It takes courage and conviction to stand up and state your ideas and opinions !

As I just said, I still stress myself out, over what a friend or relative said about me. So I am humbled by how emotionally tough these speakers must be, because the minute they have delivered their speeches, people start to dissect and critique it.
Can you imagine, how strong of character you must be, not to be too deeply affected by the criticism of many and the praise of few ?


Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Chicken Sitters...

Another reason we love Burgenland.

You can't say that our life is dull or boring. Well to us it is not, but possibly a few readers might think differently.

As you know, our neighbour keeps some chickens, that are a wonderful source of entertainment for us. In fact, our bedroom window overlooks their playground ( yard ) and its gate. When we ( well not that often actually ! ) walk into our bedroom, we see the chickens and their antics. Some funny, some naughty and some irritating. The last one is just for Bob, as he hates the early, pre-crack of dawn yodeling next door ! In his befuddled state, Bob often wishes some bad things for the yodeler ( roasting being one option ).

Once Bob is properly awake, you get to see how much he cares about the culprits across the road. Now and again, some of the ladies meander down the road, alternatively clucking and picking the ground for food. All I hear then is Bob's alarmed
" The chickens are out again. " and before he even finished the sentence, he is across the road starting the herding process...and not for the first time either !

It is so comical to watch. One hen is easy to entice back, but when there is a crowd of cheeky hens, it gets interesting. Once or twice, they play nice and listen to Bob while marching demurely back in single file, to their gate and through it.
But mostly, like naughty kids, they tend to scatter in all kinds of directions. Bob then gets a good workout, trying to cut off their different escape routes. All you see then is a lot of wing " flapping ", clucking and protest from them.

I think that these hens enjoy being herded by Bob, thinking it a game, and that they decide to scatter more often than not, just to get Bob to come over !

When Bob saw Werner, he told him about his deeds. Five minutes later, Bob came back with a big smile on his face, and told me that he can help out with the feeding, on the days that Werner is not here. That officially makes us the Chicken-Sitters and we are very proud of it.


She looks so innocent, yet...

The cheering spectators.

The hide and seek part...

Would you please listen ?

Her head is held high, but she listened.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Compost Heap.

Or simply making your own manure !

Both of us are garden-novices. Bob has some more experience, as he helped his Dad with mowing the lawn and the odd bit of pruning. For me, the height of gardening was my ability to remember to water the flowers. I think you get the picture...

To our credit, we have embraced our garden with gusto ( by my yard stick, others would think that we are a bit lazy ). Bob keeps our lawns cut and makes sure all the apples that fall on the ground are picked up. We have five apple trees, so it is no mean feat. I try and pull out the weeds in the front garden, water the plants and dead-head the pegonias. Cunningly, I focus on the bit of garden that is most visible to the odd ( most of the neighbourhood ) passer-by. At least give them a good first impression. In a small village, these things count !

In the back garden, we have a heap where all organic waste is piled. Our version of a compost heap. But as there are hundreds of rotting apples on it, the aroma is not so pleasant ! Luckily it is not to close to our neighbour, because the thought of moving the pile is just awful.( We most likely would have waited for our next visitors to arrive and ask them to help !!!)

Bob is keen to make a proper compost enclosure with wooden planks, etc. I am very impressed with his enthusiasm for manure. Yesterday I heard him using the axe to shape the wooden stakes. Gosh, that does sound a bit ' ghoulish ', but that is what he was doing.

As he is not quite sure how and where to place it, he asked various friends and family... yes you guessed it, they all have different ideas and advice. The strange thing about getting advice is, that each person's ideas sound plausable, even perfect...until you hear the next one !
Let's see whose advice Bob follows.


Last year, we did not pick up any apples...yuk, it was not nice to walk on.

I could only find this picture of our apple trees in spring...

Bob makes sure to eat the plums, before they have a chance to fall on the floor !