Sunday, 31 March 2013

Do Manners Still Count ?

Are we teaching it to the next generation ?

Someone posted a lament on how today's youth is not up-to-date with manners. Interesting on so many fronts. Yet it certainly got a reaction. I must say, there are times where I think ' has nobody taught you manners ? '

But is it because the younger generation hasn't learnt manners or is it just a generational thing ? You know in our parents view, we were wild and often heard stories of : " When I was young this wouldn't have been allowed ". Have we turned into ' that ' generation..

As a teenager or twenty-something, you have no idea how important manners really are. They can open and close doors in your life. Something as simple as " Hello, how are you ? " and " Please & Thank You " can make you glide along life's paths. Without it the road ahead could get sticky and at times closed for you !

My parents mostly taught me what manners are and ( most importantly ) to apply them. Luckily school re-enforced them. My school life involved school uniforms, strict rules and consequences. Here are a few :

  • Skirts couldn't be above the knee, and there were rules on how to wear your uniform...mainly with pride.
  • Anyone older, even pupils, were to be shown respect and greeted when seen.
  • When riding home on the school bus, you gave up your seat for any older person.
  • When in school uniform ( even out of school grounds ) you had to be respectful and polite. When tales did get back to the school, detention involved weeding the garden.
  • When entering a door, you stood back for the older person and held the door open for them.

A lot of you will shake your head at this and at the time I did too, but now I realize how vitally important simple manners are. Oh, there are times when I am far from perfect...who isn't ?

Biggi, Please. Thanks: The Essential Guide to Teaching Your Child Manners, Respect and the Social Skills Necessary to Get Ahead in Life Dude, That's Rude!: (Get Some Manners) (Laugh & Learn)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Week Without Assuming...

Assumptions, we all have and apply them.

Who doesn't remember the business lecture to do with assuming ? It was eloquently put like this: Breaking up the word ' assume ' is to make an ' ass ' out of ' u ' and ' me ' !

Gosh, I've lost count of the many times I've assumed...but I will try not to do it for a week !

Do these assumptions sound vaguely familiar ? :

  • All Blondes lack I.Q.
  • Large people eat all the time.
  • The European Union consists of only a handful of troubled countries.
  • He or she is looking at me strangely and therefore must be in love with me.
  • The person you talk to wipes something from their nose - you immediately panic that something is dangling blatantly out of your nose.
  • Africa is a country.
  • Women should do most of the household chores.
  • Men only think of one thing....Sport.
  • Only people with a Degree will succeed in life.
  • All dogs are friendly.
  • You see some tourists wearing socks and sandals and assume they are German.

Let me know if I have left some out.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Removing Wallpaper !

A painstakingly tedious process.

You only have to do it once, to promise yourself two things :

  • I will never put wallpaper on my walls.
  • If I ever meet the person who put it there in the first place, I'll tell them...

We started on a room yesterday. The major easy bits had been stripped already but the small stubborn sticky bits were awaiting us. Its a case of doing the first little section and experiencing a slight panic because you suddenly realize that the task ahead seems endless and possibly exhausting !

As is usual with anything in life, once you get over the first ' hump ' it kind of gets easier. At times it can almost resemble an archaeological expedition. Layers upon layers of stuff gets unearthed. In fact, you get to realize that the tenant before you was lazy and sloppy. Didn't they know never to paint over wallpaper ?

At one point, I got to a bottom part of the wall and unearthed a little red hand print. Instantly my imagination went into overdrive. That is until I found a few more hand prints in various colours. Kids and their fun !

In an opportunistic way you can use the monotonous scrape & peel as a form of meditation. Life gives you lemons...make lemonade. Gosh, who doesn't remember the " Wax on / Wax off " scene of the " Karate Kid " ? Apart from anything else, scraping anything off a wall is an incredible workout ( 'Home gym' a la Bob&Biggi got us fit ).

I would be willing to bet, that if you have ever removed old wallpaper of your own walls, you will stick to nice and easy wall paints from now on !

Please let me know whether I am the only one who dislikes this task !


Fun & Games.Huge concentration...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Other Side Of Winter-Beauty.

It's your choice whether you see the good or the bad !

As is usual lately, the weather seems to have been turned on its head. Could it be Nature's little ' Tweet / email / text ' to us ? You know, to look after her.

Of course this late winter spell causes problems, but it is what it is and I choose to see the beauty of it. It won't last and before we know it, we will be complaining about the severe heat of summer !

Here are some photos I shot on my walk yesterday.

Just seeing the different tones of colour, is breathtaking.

Somehow I just wanted to find a sled and be a kid again. Or failing that, a snow fight of sorts.

That would be the perfect for a horse & carriage drive. It kind of reminded me of fairy tales.

Trees cloaked in the season.

I can't decide whether I prefer this view in summer or winter ?

The little chapel down the road. It just seems to perfectly belong there.

I just wanted to share my view of winter with you. There was an amazing article that trended on Twitter, to do with Nature and how we can all make a difference. Here is the link. It is thought provoking !


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Uno-Great Fun To Play At Any Age !

Uno is a great tool to help teach English as a Second Language.

We have been using the Uno pack almost from the start. A wonderful way to teach colours, numbers and expressions. By now, all the different kids can describe each card they use in minute detail.

We tend to have a democracy of sorts in our lesson and usually the kids tell us what they want to do or play. At times it seems like a reverse dictatorship, as the kids can be rather adamant.

Bob was having an Uno-duel with one of the little girls ( five years old ). At first, Bob kept back all the ' interesting ' cards. You know, plus 4, miss a turn and change direction. He didn't want to upset her by winning...That is until he realized that he was dealing with a professional Uno player !

It was comical to watch. Bob studiously considered his cards, while she multi-tasked and kept on drawing a picture at the same time. When she cunningly kept the plus 4 as her penultimate card, the penny dropped for Bob. Game two. Now Bob wanted several re-matches to assuage his ego. No good, she won every game but one...could she have had pity on Bob ?

In the past, when Bob or anyone else had dealt me an ' interesting ' card, I sort of said " Oh no ! " in a slightly theatrical voice. Well, sitting next to the two of them, I now and again heard the little girl say to Bob; " Oh no " pitch perfect.

As almost an aside ( or stroke of genius ) I have tried to teach them to say ' please ' and
' thank you ' in English. Imagine my pride, when the little girl rushed up to her Gran and asked her if she knew how to say ' please ' and ' thank you ' in English. Before the Gran could answer, she proudly told her the correct words...


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Still Watching Sports The Old Fashioned Way ?

Interact your way into being hip, modern & with-it !

As you know, yesterday's blog revolved around F1. While I was glued to the gripping action on the screen during the F1, I realized that Bob was in the process of blinding me with his dazzling display of youthfulness.

He had entered the hallowed ground of digital viewership . Oh yes, I was still stuck in the last century ! Alas, I sort of outrank him by 4 years ( at least not dog years ) and once or twice it shows !

Ashamedly I have to admit, that I am not able to communicate well while watching sports on TV. Actually anything on TV. Why is it that when you are trying to follow complicated scenes of a thriller, someone asks you a unrelated question expecting an answer ? Conundrum indeed ! To answer or not to answer...

Coming back to the F1 of Sunday. Hearing is a funny thing. Usually the sound is almost on full blast, yet I heard Bob typing on the computer. Like hearing a pin drop in the middle of a nightclub. Wow, Superwoman ! ( No Bob, there is no way I'll wear tights and a cape for you ! )

Naturally married people are nosy: " Bob, who are you writing to ? " ( of course I waited for the long-winded ad break to ask him ). " Oh, I am communicating with my cousin on FaceBook " .

How terribly hip. Bob and his cousin were furiously typing well sounding one-liners ( remember it is privy to the public and family at large ) about the various attributes of their favourite drivers. The one thing that they forgot was the actual drivers driving ability !

Why is this special ? Well, his cousin lives on the other side of the world. Yet, through Social Media, it felt like she was right here in the room. Fantastic indeed.

Watching sport in this modern way is impressive, eye-opening and a tad bit confusing. That is, for someone who was pre-teenager during the MUCH LATER years of Abba and BeeGees. Typing, texting, pin'ing or tweeting while at the same time trying not miss a thing, is sadly beyond me.

After the game, I did have plenty of stamina, attention and opinions to participate in Social Media's arena...Ah, there is hope for this ' old gal '!

Don't ever forget: " An old hen makes good soup "


Monday, 25 March 2013

Formula 1 And The Now Infamous Vettel / Webber Race.

The team engineers will want a Robot driver next...

The Formula 1 race in Malaysia yesterday really covered most bases of entertainment. Who can forget Lewis Hamilton's quick visit at his old pit ! Never mind the other little mishaps on that suddenly interesting pit-lane. Gosh, I didn't dare take a pit-stop myself.

Watching F1 is and should be nail-biting stuff. Most of us viewers have a favourite driver and follow him with great gusto throughout the season ( in fact, I don't bother too much with the type of car ). Fans expect their guy to do extraordinary stuff. Just going the distance while tamely following orders issued in their earpiece somehow makes it a tad bit boring to watch.

By the way, why do we suddenly know most of the communication between driver and engineers ? It should be need-to-know basis...and I don't need to know ! I must admit that I miss that mystique of it all. If like yesterday, the 3rd and 4th place was kind of predetermined, why should we still watch the race to the end ?

As for the Vettel manoeuvre, apart from not listening to his ear-piece, he did what he is trained to do - win ! Just imagine: a leopard in the zoo at feeding time. He is hungry and can smell the meat coming his way. The meat gets thrown into his lair but he gets told to not touch it yet ! Not going to happen, is it ? Changing a leopard's spots and all that.

I for one, take my hat off to Sebastian Vettel and have more admiration for him. We all know he didn't follow orders and thus made a ' mistake '. Yet, he apologized several times to his team mate and team. In front of millions of viewers ! We all have made mistakes and know how hard it is to admit to and apologize for it, even in private. Eh, throwing a stone in a glass house....

Do you think that in, lets say ten years time, the drivers of the F1 cars will be replaced by robots ? Robots who get programmed to do as they are told...and most importantly, will you still watch the Formula 1 season ?


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Animals, Nature, Burgenland.

Nature rules !

After nearly two years here in Burgenland, I instinctively know its breathtaking and stunning nature. Yet now and again, I stumble on just some little gem that makes me say " Wow ".

I don't know about you, but for me it is usually the small and seemingly insignificant things that mean a whole lot to me. It's been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder....I hope you like my little selection of images that I find beautiful.

All the photo's are taken from within a kilometer from where we live !

The pond in front of our place.He's found a big morsel.It's hard to find a worm !Doing it " gangnam " style ?The big boss ! Winter has it's own beauty.A lucky white horse !


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Learning To Prune Our Peach & Apple Trees.

Even fruit trees need their yearly trim.

Before we moved here, Bob and I lived in a flat on the eighth floor and we were ( rather the plant was ) lucky if we remembered to water the odd plant on the balcony. Well, imagine life's irony; we now have about 20 fruit trees and all the garden upkeep that goes with it.

We have finally turned the corner from being overwhelmed to getting stuck in. Last year we sort of chopped the odd branch here and there but yesterday, a friend came to teach us how to do it properly.

With infinite patience he showed us and uttered the one phrase that no one else had : " You can't go wrong and remember that no one gets it right the first time. " Aah, that man is brilliant !

The logic of it is actually quite simple. For the tree to bear big, sweet and juicy fruit, you have to
' chop chop chop ' and make sure that no unnecessary twigs grow off the branches. For me the hardest part was doing the first major chop. It sounds silly, but I wondered if the tree felt it.

Our property has been vacant for a number of years before we got it, so it is fairly certain that all of our fruit trees are organic. Wow, isn't that great. This year we want to make scrumptious jams. We did our first batch last year and have caught the bug.

Nature is a fantastic place to recharge our batteries. Look, Bob and I are miles away from being competent farmers ( gentleman farmers that is ) but just the act of stepping out the door with a pair of Wellies on, is Panacea for my soul.


This was rather a small tree to start with.

Check out how cool Bob looks with his gloves shoved into his back pockets !

This photo was taken last spring, but you get an idea about the work involved.

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Man-Bag And It's Many Uses...

Frankly, I don't know how you can function without one ?

The other day, Bob went to fix a computer in the village school and he heard one of the kids shout: " Hey, there's Bob and his man-bag ". Bob is still trying to decide if he should take it as a compliment or not.

Luckily the fashion has sort of turned in favour of men and their many bits of
paraphernalia ( Cigarettes, matches, keys, wallet, snack..the list is endless ). If your man hasn't got a pair of " Bear Grylls " trousers yet, why not ? Pockets seem to do the trick. But of course that's not enough. Bear Grylls Men's Survivor Regular Trouser by Craghoppers

Fashion designers really are pushing men towards man-bags. Have you seen those ridiculously low pants, that everyone is wearing ? Thank goodness the trend goes along with wearing a well-covering pair of undies ! Geez-a-lou, some of those pants are almost dangling around the knees. How do they walk or rather waddle in them ? This takes builders-butt to another level entirely.

So naturally gravity takes hold, and having bits and bobs in your trouser pockets tends to really threaten the eyesight of the public ! There is really no other way. The man-bag is a must have.

As soon as Bob got one, even my life got easier. Gosh, I can't remember how often I heard :
" Schatzi, won't you put my wallet in your bag ? ". Oh yes, before the man-bag it used to be the Hand-bag. My one shoulder still aches from carrying a double load...oh I admit that is a bit of a self-pity violin moment !

Another great use of the man-bag is of course the many hidden objects it can hold. Take the lunch-box for example. Before the man-bag, Bob would never take one; " I am not in school anymore ". Really Bob, it's not a Superman lunchbox.

But what can you do. Ah, the joys of married life.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Being Grey Suddenly Seems Fashionable.

Just as well because covering up is hard work.

Wherever you look these days, you stumble across that message; " Grey is beautiful ".
It's alright for some, but when it hits you personally...

Oh, you get the select / anointed / lucky few who look amazing with the " short & grey " do. But for the rest of us, it can be a bit of a gamble to follow that crowd. What if the " short & grey " actually makes you look it ?

The few that somehow, grey prematurely have an excuse. They can even wave their birth certificates in front of doubters. For the rest of us, sadly I have to acknowledge that grey puts a stamp on us.

Nature is mostly kind and gives us a lot of time to get used to it. Usually it sends little forerunners ( a grey streak here or there ). Those can either be cleverly disguised ( oh, Salons need to make a living too ), ruthlessly pulled out or explained away " look, a sign of maturity "...

At times the " grey-coverage " on TV is rather funny. Spotting men who cover up is sadly, quite obvious. Bad colour jobs bear fruit of this. Even some politicians are lured by the stroke of this supposedly " brush of youth "...

Those in the trade ( in my past ) know the golden rule : As you get older, your hair colour should go lighter ! Staying a youthful dark brown or blue black in your seventies, can at times
be kind of " iffy "...

On the whole, I don't mind seeing those little reminders of my maturity. But when you see it in a bad ( bright ) light, it takes some getting used too.

Never mind nature's revenge: Have you also noticed that most men look even better once they start cultivating the grey-do ?


In case you don't believe me.... for Men Shampoo In Hair Color, Dark Brown H-45, 1 application, (Pack of 3) Just For Men Pflege-Brush-In-Color-Gel für Bart, Schnurrbart, Mittelbraun

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Arianna Huffington, What A Classy Lady.

Arianna Huffington visits CNBC's Squawk Box .

Admittedly I like to watch CNBC's Squawk Box. The financial news almost always come with a side-show. Personally I think that Joe Kernen is sort of like a little Kitten dressed up in a Feral Cat's costume.

At times he just likes to be contraire for the sake of it and often I wonder whether there isn't a voice in his earpiece saying: " Crack it up a notch Joe, we need controversy "...You know, the show isn't the same when he is away and I prefer watching it when he is there.

So yesterday Ms. Huffington was a guest presenter on the show. She outclassed them all. What a lady. Beautiful manners yet a backbone of steel. At times she reigned in one or two rather outlandish comments with a few well delivered words underlined with a smile.

The more I get to know of Ms.Huffington, the more impressed I get. What she has achieved in such a short space of time, is amazing and also groundbreaking. For those of you who haven't read it yet, head over to the Huffington Post and have a glance !

Her message that " me-time / meditation / recharging " is important in conjunction with work was easy to understand and comprehend ( well, clearly not for everybody ! )

At one point, someone asked her a question that really was not-thought-through ;...
" Arianna, do you know anyone there in Cyprus ? ". To which she sanguinely replied
" Well, actually I am Greek, so no !".

When I still lived in South Africa and was on holiday overseas, one question was somehow always asked.
" Oh, I have a cousin living in Kenya, do you know her ? "...South Africa is not Kenya and anyway the Continent of Africa is HUGE...


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

If Not In A Bank, Where Else To Put Your Savings ?

It seems that the trust in " systems " is dwindling.

A lot of people are now worrying that this Cyprus Affair is in effect a sort of blue print of things to come. In the Euro Zone, that is. Whether true or false, is besides the point. It is the thought that it might be, that will fuel a lot of actions and talk.

Governments have the option of taxing more to fill the coffers. Not the obvious tax, but the one we don't really think about. For example petrol. A significant part of the price of it, are taxes.

Yet in this Cyprus case, it is the people with savings, that the government is in a way taxing. Reminds one of Robin Hood, except that the less wealthy are also included.

But now the conundrum of the average " Joe & Jane ". You know, we who save our money in the bank as opposed to doing fancy stuff in the stock markets ! The last few years of roller coaster rides in the stock market, have curbed the average appetite for that as well.

One option is putting it under your mattress. You may laugh, but I think it is happening. Yet, if you don't trust the banks with your dosh, then putting it in your bedroom will make you stress even more. What about burglars ? This whole issue will surely increase the mattress raiders ?

If you take your dosh out of banks, that denotes that you are worried about the system and more likely the Euro as well. So the mattress option is no good either ! You don't want to be stuck with a king's ransom of non-usable currency.

What is left ? Spending and using it, of course. Why deny yourself most things now, in order to save for that rainy day ? Especially if you are not sure whether someone takes part of it at a later stage. Spending on oneself might be the new " hip " thing to do.

Paradoxically, that might just be what the doctor ordered... Spending some savings to buy more goods and services will spur on the dragging economies. Could this Cyprus-Affair actually be the final & definitive turning point out of this blasted recession ?

Look, I can already hear the laughs and guffaws of the Finance elite. Be my guest, but you know, sometimes common sense beats fancy forecast models...Just saying !


Monday, 18 March 2013

Listening To Your Inner Voice.

Or should we call it Gut-Feeling ?

Right off the top of your head, I am sure you can name a few instances where you didn't listen. Even if that all-knowing inner voice was almost " shouting " at you.

Isn't it stupid the way we tend to listen after the event ?

  • " Oh, I always knew deep down, that he / she was not right for me " or
  • " Somehow my gut told me not to invest that money, but everyone else did it. " or
  • " There was often that little voice that told me not to trust XYZ. "

But don't forget, that little inner beacon we all have, can also give us a good feeling. A sense of good things to come. You know that deep sense of knowing that :

  • everything will work out fine.
  • you are at the right place.
  • this is the right person for you to traverse life with.
  • this is the work you love to do.

Why is it that we need to be slightly older to start to even tune in to that inner voice ? In our roaring twenties, we just ploughed on ahead. We took the good with the bad and shrugged off the regret.

Makes one wonder, what is actually better ? To do it and regret afterwards or to listen to our gut and avoid questionable situations before they happen ?

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you...


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Networking Works Even Better In A Small Community.

In a small community its not what you know, but who !

At Friday's Play , Bob took to Networking in a big way ( Its rather funny, because Bob Networks Computer cables too ). But this was ' people ' networking...

It must be every boy's dream to be a Fireman. Those of you who had " Ken " dolls ( alright, lets call it an action figure ) when you were young, most likely had one dressed as a Fireman ! They always had those big and strong bodies modeled in lots of muscle. Girls wanted to look like Barbie and Boys like Ken, the Fireman...

Now here in Burgenland, every little village has a volunteer Fire Brigade. As you meander through the sometimes quaint yet picturesque villages, you can't help but notice the Fire-houses in each. They usually are painted a bright yellow colour and just in case it has the writing in big letters on the wall.

Saturday's still sport the noon tradition. A horrendously loud siren goes off for a minute. Note to self, don't live too close to firehouse. At any other times it comes to life, it is unfortunately to call the volunteers together for duty.

So at the mingling on Friday evening, Bob grabbed his opportunity and asked one of the local firemen outright : " Do you think it's possible that I may join ? " and voila, the reply was " I'll check with the others, but I think that should be fine ". Well, that had Bob beaming from ear to ear !

When Bob starts his volunteer-career, he most likely will wash the fire engine numerous times
( wax on, wax off ), do thousands of sit-ups ( which will be okay to develop a 6 pack ), kilometers of running and lots of parties. The local Fire Brigades do a lot of fundraising for the community by organizing Wine evenings etc...

Aah, I do love a man in Uniform..
.By the way, I have seen the inside of the Firehouse, and to my disappointment there is no pole to slide down. Bob would have looked very Ken-like, sliding down it.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Enjoying An Evening Out At The Local Theater.

Pure entertainment and great fun.

At the start and during the Intermission it was the usual. Mingling, greeting, checking out other people and drinking the good local wine. Yes, an ordinary evening out at the theater !

Oh, I know you are most likely wondering how such a little village can boast a theater ? Well, the local theater group puts on a play once a year. A rather good one !

Sitting there last night with my family, watching the play, it just felt good being firstly able to watch and secondly being kept captivated and interested for three acts.

The play was a comedy and laugh we all did. The characters were richly exaggerated, yet done to a " T " and knowing the different actors as ordinary villagers, made their characters even more poignant. Oh and so very funny !

The play seemed to flash by so quickly as it carried us along in waves of entertainment. The laughs around the hall ( at least 300 people ) were plenty and applause was always there. Oh, did I mention that they have quite a few performances and are mostly sold out ?

There are so many wonderful facets to this wonderful gem. The gem of living in and being part of a little village. Ah, the good life...!


" Mingling "

Filling up.

Not so easy to take a photo in the dark.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Are You A " T.G.I.F. " Disciple ?

Is Friday the most liked day of your workweek ?

Well, then today is for you. A Friday. Even for those working part of the Saturday, a Friday is much liked. Friday evenings are filled with excitement and anticipation, because Saturday is a half day followed by the blissful break; the weekend !

The possibilities on a Friday are endless and can range from going out for dinner or having friends over to your house for dinner. Talking about Friends, isn't it rather astounding and slightly scary to realize that next year marks the 20th anniversary of the first episode of Friends. Oh dear, time is not our friend, it seems... Friends: The Complete Series

It used to be fun going to pick up rental DVD's on your way home, but what is the done thing now ? Should you tell your friends that you " streamed " and would they like to come over ?

Doesn't sound right and anyway, unless you are blessed with the latest HD TV/Computer console,
I somehow can't imagine everyone being huddled around a tablet or ' quelle horreur ' around a smart phone ! Roku 3 Streaming Player :

Might that be the reason that going out to the cinema is on the increase ? Urban legend has it, that in the 1950's and 1960's ( at least in South Africa ) going to the cinema involved dressing up in evening wear. Suit & Tie for the gentlemen and Evening Frocks for the gals. No one would have dared to wear jeans !

Here is a thought. Ask your parents and or grandparents what was the first movie they saw together at the cinema. Most of them will remember vividly and also what they wore...

Just a bit of funny to end off. Here is a Tweet from Joan Rivers ( @Joan_Rivers ).
...." A new study says that ham, bacon and sausage increases the risk of dying young. It certainly shortens the life of the pig "... Too funny.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Humble & New Pope...Pope Francis.

In today's world, traditions and history are like manna from heaven...

With our need of and obsession with the fast-paced Internet and its many uses and functions, we have displaced calmness and stillness. This papal election in a way pulled us collectively into a parallel universe of time where stillness is valued and acceptable and sought.

It felt very calming and comforting to be a witness to this old tradition of choosing a Pope and it seems most of the world was spellbound as well. Why else was it shown on most channels replacing scheduled programming ?

Have you ever know such an obsession with seeing puffs of smoke ? Yet we were all spellbound. Even the seagull on top of the " papal chimney " started tweeting on twitter...a tad too much !

Who remembers as a teenager sneaking off behind the house to have a quick puff of a cigarette? Giggling smugly at being much too clever for the parents to catch us...only to get the fright of our lives when they caught us in the act. We didn't realize what powerful signals puffs of smoke seem to be, did we ?

Pope Francis seems to have those qualities that a lot of us are chasing. Calmness blended with an incredible aura of charisma. He seems like a man who can walk into any situation and sort it out pronto...a Superman of churches ! Interesting times ahead in the future, I am sure.

Anyone who watched the days of coverage inside the Vatican, Catholic or not, must be enthralled by the splendors of the Sistine Chapel. Wow, how impressive. Especially the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. It was the first time I had seen it, and Bob and I have put it on our bucket list of places to visit.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Finding Valuable Stuff In Our Old Farm's Attic.

Our part of Burgenland has so many old Farms for sale.

When I first stumbled across the series on TV ( Antique Roadshow ), thoughts of " fuddy duddy " and pensioner and dare I say boring came to my mind ! Only at first though, because ten minutes into the program, I was hooked.

Don't we all dream of instant wealth ? Well finding stuff in an attic surely qualifies. Only the other day, there was another story of someone finding a stash of paintings worth a few million. Ah, the Holy Grail.

Well, when we first climbed the steep and somewhat precarious stairs into our attic, we were excited and giddy as schoolkids...The smell of decaying air filled with flying dust and cobwebs and the spooky unknown terrain, drew us like magic. Oh, there was an old-fashioned chest, plenty of wicker baskets and an abundance of old clothes. I think those were never taken off the washing line when the old owner " left ".

Old magazines and pictures were discarded but we did stumble across a reasonably old looking dinner service. I must say, the older generation of yesteryear did have a good idea. How often did you ( and do ) see them using old broken and cheap stuff while they had and have their good and expensive stuff in the display cupboard ?

Personally I tend to feel that is a waste as we should use the nicer things for us. Yet now, I see some point to it. We now own an old yet chip free dinner service !

Gosh, what will I leave for the next generation to find in the attic ? Maybe an Ipad or a flat-screen TV. Can you visualize their giddy excitement and shouts of " Oh my Goodness. Look at all the old communications stuff. How on earth did they ever manage with this stuff ? "

Of course Bob usually finds a way to make me one stage I could hear his excited voice from the depth of the attic: " Schatzi, I found an old fur stole. Maybe its mink ? " only seconds later I heard a high-pitched note of disgust and horror followed by sounds of near nausea. Oh dear, his fur stole turned out to be an old, dead & decaying cat !

Biggi :Antiquing For Dummies :Antiquing For Dummies

Old dinner service complete with designer dust...

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Why Is N.Y.C.'s " Cup-Size " So Important ?

Surely smaller is better ?

I can already hear an outcry from a lot of men. Men who value themselves around the size of their cup ! But, rest assured men, its not that cup I am referring too...

From an outsider's point of view, this debate going on about how big the cup-size of soft drink served in a Restaurant is allowed to be, is slightly baffling.

Who can even drink such big portions of soft drink in one sitting ? If it's ice cold ( as it should be ) don't you then suffer from brain freeze ? Most importantly, where do you still find space for the foods that you ordered with it ? Oh, the mind baffles.

A limit to the size of cup sold is surely not an insurmountable problem. Should you want more, just order two cups. Easy.

By now, the health hazard of too much ( added ) sugar in our diet is not just some " health-nut's " far out claim. Most medical professionals are agreeing. Too much of it is bad for your health. Moderation is the key, as to all things in life.

This proposed ban on bigger sizes of soft drink being served in New York's Restaurants and eating places, is stirring up a lot of controversy. Yes, hardly anyone likes being told what to do and certainly not by law.

But if, as a society you have to share the burden of health care costs, wouldn't you want those costs to be minimized ?

If this ban doesn't go through I can just imagine, that in the future someone will sue the State for allowing those bigger size cups to be sold in the first place. Cries of: " We did not know any better and you should have made us aware of it ", will make the rounds.

What is that old saying....It is hard to please everyone !


Monday, 11 March 2013

Our " Little League "....

Our English Second Language lesson for the Toddlers.

Those in the know, nod sagely at our adventure and courage. It's not so easy to impart knowledge to a group of toddlers. Well knowledge is a bit over - exaggerated. We trying to immerse them in an English Speaking environment.

Since January we have started a new group in a neighbouring village. The average age is 3, yet somehow they seem to have formed their own character already. Rather interesting to witness the interaction among them.

Each week a parent brings a different toy of sorts, one that we can interact with in English ( we've had Lego, memo, building blocks and mini tractors ). Naturally it can sometimes get a bit hairy as more often than not, the kids are still learning to share...willingly.

Their is one little star in the group, who goes out of his way to share with the others. Food, sweets and his toys. Too precious.

For us it is not always easy to see if the kids are liking the hour with us or are learning anything. Well, Friday was a great revelation day for us...
One of the mums who has been sick for a few sessions, told me: " You know Biggi, he is getting cross with me because he is missing all those English lessons."..Yippee.

Another Mum, who has two in our group, dropped off her son and he came rushing eagerly up the stairs. But the nicest thing that happened was that she came back 15 min later with her daughter;

" Sorry, she was napping and when she woke up and realized that her brother was at English already, she demanded to be taken to English as well. " Just fabulous for us to get feedback. She is actually a kid that hardly ever speaks and keeps to herself....

Naturally little ones also have other surprises. When they suddenly want to go to the loo...and not for a number one either !

Biggi ( Twitter:@Simplyburgnland )

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Who Remembers Going To An Actual Library ?

You know, the Kindle of yesteryear...

Gosh, when you get into your forties the list of " Do you remember when " seems to grow exponentially. What is it they say..." Life begins at forty ".

Going to the local library once a week used to be the highlight to look forward to.

  • That anticipation of new treasures to devour. Even the hunt through the isles of books was addictive.
  • The dread of having to pay a fine for returning a book late. Even smuggling it to the bottom of the pile of returns didn't help. ...Eagle eyed librarians.
  • Trying to get your hands on the latest release and someone snatching it before you.
  • Killing two birds with one stone, and doing a bit of flirting with guys who looked for books...
  • Reading through foreign magazines or newspapers opened up a whole new world
    ( remember this was before the Internet )
  • Before taking out a book, opening the cover to see who else had taken it out. Fun, interesting and educational.
  • That glorious smell of books. Old, new and used books in one location emit that special scent, that any book lover will recognize anywhere..." Eau De Library "
  • The difficulty of deciding which book to read first, when you got home.

As easy and convenient as it is to read your books online, there is just no substitute for the real thing. How else would you sport the mark of a true reader....a paper cut !


Saturday, 9 March 2013

It's Usually The Little Things That Tell Us A Whole Lot.

Keep your eyes peeled !

Don't you find that a voice has the ability to make us like someone even without knowing them. That sort of deep, gravelly southern accented voice. Almost like James Garner's one.
( The Rockford Files - Season One ) It just draws you in and makes you feel comfortable and somehow trusting.

Well,I came across such a voice while watching an interview. The two men sitting opposite each other in nice chairs. Just hearing that hypnotic pitch of voice made me want to believe everything
...I know, rather shallow !

Thinking what a good gift he had been given by nature, I suddenly noticed his shoes. In fact more the bottom of them. Yes, he had the tell tale sign. His voice was not natural but rather self-made...he was a smoker. You know, he had that ashy patch on his sole. The spot where he would grind out his cigarettes ( hopefully picking up the butts ).

Life being as it is now, that clue or fact disappointed me. Maybe in the past I would have thought aah, how great, he smokes ! You will be surprised how many people have soles with ashy patches. Keep your eyes peeled and be surprised.

Of course, one of my favourite tell tale signs must be about the men who have been married for less than a year. How can you spot them in a crowd ? Oh, it is easy. Just look at their pants, or rather the lack of them...

These guys on average, wear their pre-marriage pants but now they are up to an inch short. Why ? Well, they are now getting a lovingly prepared meal most nights and are eating better.

This in turn makes them put on a kilo or two with the result that their pants are being worn a bit higher in order to accommodate the bigger belly...after a while they either buy bigger sized pants, or start the workout routine.


P/S : I have finally joined the Twitter scene. At the moment I am sort of tweeting in the dark, but give it time...@Simplyburgnland.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Could it be a signpost that your life is heading in the right direction ?

They say that one way to notice synchronicity is if all the traffic lights turn green as you drive. Of course that yardstick is not applicable to me, as we ( luckily ) don't have any traffic lights in our village...!

But there are plenty of other signs. When you get the feeling that most things in your life are running like clockwork or rather like a well-oiled machine, then I think you have some synchronicity.

Here are a few examples of synchronicity :

  • You have an idea, and unexpectedly someone talks to you about the same idea.
  • An appointment you look forward to cancels at the last minute and in turn an even better prospect phones to see you.
  • You find a parking space right in front of where you need to be.
  • You have doubts that what you are doing is the right thing and a friend phones you to tell you that your work is making a positive impact.
  • You need a plumber / electrician / therapist / etc and the right person for the job will appear or be recommended.
  • You go to the doctor for a minor ailment and luckily they notice a more serious underlying problem which you would not have noticed in time.

What I think it boils down to, is that synchronicity shows you that you are living an authentic life. It is a way for you to realize that the path you have chosen is the right one. Most importantly it helps you to trust in yourself and feel good about yourself !

Oh, there are so many examples of synchronicity and I would love to hear about yours. Please, drop me a comment.

Biggi :Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind :The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place In The World Using Synchronicity, Intuition, And Uncommon Sense

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Colon Cancer Screening.

Burgenland is leaps ahead of others...

As you know, our village is tiny with about 300 inhabitants. Fabulous in so many ways, and now it has moved up another notch in my fabulous chart !

Every couple of weeks we get a missive from the mayor in our post. In today's era of having everything delivered online, it is refreshing and fun to get a mayoral update in the post. Great to see the pictures, happenings and who turned what ( Birthday's over a certain age are put in there...oh yes, our turn will come too. )

Health is taken very seriously here. The last newsletter announced the annual free Colon Cancer pre-screening in Burgenland for every villager over the age of 40. Oh drat, that includes Bob and I ! Wow, I have never really lived in a country, city or village where so much is done for one free of charge.

As it normally happens, you read about something and want to do it, but then forget it and suddenly remember and wonder how to go about it. That dithering has even been take care of by the district. The other day we were working in the garden and there was a shout of " Grüss Gott " at the gate.

A lady was walking door to door and hand delivering the Colon Cancer Pre-Screening kits. Unbelievable and great. When I later told Bob and showed him, we noticed that we each had already our name and address printed on the label of the vial.

Maybe a few countries / towns or villages around the world should take notice and do this too. Our Burgenland ( see all their different programs for Health prevention ) is very progressive in a lot of ways. They know, that early detection is cheaper to deal with than later detection and saves many lives in the process...I love Burgenland.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Children... Mini-Comedians !

Where do they come up with it ?

On Wednesdays, we have English Native Language with the older children ( ages 7 to 11 ) and it is always fun. They understand most things and we can have great interaction with them.

It's not often that they render Bob speechless, but last week they did. I was not feeling well, so Bob was on his own. When he got home after the lesson, I couldn't wait to ask :
" Bob, how was it ? Did anyone miss me ? "
" Not really, except for Maxi, who swaggered up to me, put his hands on his hips and asked :
" Bob, where is your Woman today ? "...

Well, that was it for Bob. He didn't know whether to burst out laughing, or correct him in his phraseology. Bob, I am sure, had instant visions of cave man scenarios. You know the kind where he hauls me over his shoulder, or where I am at home in the kitchen with apron and cooking up a storm.

Incidentally, Maxi is too funny for words. Often he regales us with stories of his adventures
( imaginary of course ), yet all in English. His favourite is a trip to Las Vegas, flying First Class and being driven to the Hotel in a black stretch limo. At times he even tells us what drink he got at the bar..

A great kid with great stories. Bob and I wonder how he comes up with his stories, but as he tells us in English we don't really mind. What a privilege to have these kids for English conversation.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Pruning The Vines.

Here in Burgenland we still handcraft our wines...

The amount of work that goes into making a bottle of wine is tremendous. In fact, if you knew how much, you would savour every drop of it. In our area of Burgenland, most of the wine is hand-made.

Oh, there are machines used in some of the process, but for the small vintners, hand-made it is. It is great, because they know everything that is in the wine. For the wine buyers and wine connoisseurs, it must be Nirvana. Where in this day and age do you still get hand-made stuff ?

When you think that the average bottle of wine from our area costs about 6 Euros ( here is a list of Vintners of our area ), it should make you sit up and take notice...especially as the wines are of such great quality and taste.

The last two days, Bob and I have been helping out with the pruning. It is jolly hard work, but rather nice as you can contemplate life while you do it. Being in touch with nature is therapeutic after all. It helped that the sun was shining and it was a warm 8 degrees Celcius !

My part of the pruning was actually more as an assistant who took the cut vines off the wire. You know, all along the never ending rows of vines. Now that was hard work. I had no idea how much these vines grow shoots and attach themselves along and to the wire and other vines. It was similar to undoing a knot in your wool or working the way out of a maze ! But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Today we will be helping with another part of the wine growing and making cycle. I am not quite sure what it will entail, but I will let you know. It's great to be part of the wine crafting process...


P/S: I just want to say Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, +plusing or commenting on my blogs.

A crisp yet clear and wonderful Burgenland day...

What a handsome and happy worker...

Choosing the right vine to cut !

Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday, The Day With The Most Possibilities.

Starting with a clean slate each and every week.

Oh, I know that there are plenty of Monday morning " blues singers " around. You most likely see them slouched over their desk with numerous cups of coffee, wailing about having to be at work !

It's best to not get too close to them, as it can be catchy. Don't even bother trying to cheer them up with Monday's possibilities, as they are adamant in their Monday misery...let them stew.

Mondays just have that something; a renewed spirit, a new idea or seeing your co-workers again. Who else listens with such a captive manner to your weekend exploits, adventures, purchases or the " can you believe he/she did that " stories ? Aah, makes you think...

It is kind of entrenched in our mindset, to start new things on a Monday. Be it starting a new diet, or a new work project. As I said, a clean slate.

I love the fact, that all types of interesting and good things can happen on Mondays. It's the unexpected that makes it so exciting. As I firmly believe that the mind creates our reality
( as you think, you ink ), looking forward to Monday and it's wonderful opportunities almost guarantees a fantastic Monday.

Have a great Monday and remember : Attitude determines Altitude !


Even small things can have beauty.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Eating Out versus Cooking At Home.

Is the trend shifting ?

As they say in the movies, picture this scene:
It's been a long and hard day at work and you are wondering what to do for dinner ? Your mind is thought-out and you just want simplicity. Do you

  • Instead of going straight home, rather go to a restaurant and eat out ?
  • Stop at your local supermarket and pick up ingredients to make dinner at home ?

For me, there is nothing nicer than going home, to my " nest " and making food for dinner. Sometimes the actual process of chopping, stirring and tasting is almost like a mini vacation from work ! You know, just stirring the pot, often sends your thoughts into a better haven.

Oh, I admit that chopping the veggies is not my favourite as it tends to cramp up my hand. Of course the pro's have their little tricks, but unless you have Jamie teach you in person, its not least for me. How on earth do the junior chefs chop themselves through a mountain of vegetables, each and every day ?

But one of the deal-closer's of staying at home is the fact that you can change into your at-home gear...I am sure, that like Bob and I, you have your personal favourite. Bob likes loose jogging pants and his well worn Springbok Rugby Jersey and it's much the same for me, except I don't do the sports jersey !

I've even heard stories of newly ' together ' couples cooking with an apron and only an apron...jeezalou, how original ? ...Oh, the romantic phase, where you want to look your best and impress the pants of each other ! Luckily the real phase is just around the corner.

Is it true that some people eat out on average 4 times a week. That sounds way too much ? How often do you eat out, or stay home ? Let me know...

Biggi least wear a nice apron ! & White Embroidered Set of Aprons "Mr & Mrs" : Spreadshirt, Kiss the cook, Kochschürze

Saturday, 2 March 2013

In The Northern Hemisphere You Need A Chimney Sweep.

Even Chimneys need a service !

In the thirty years we lived in South Africa, we never had central heating. Well, apart from the odd electrical mobile bar heater every now and again. Most of those winters were spent with layers of warm clothing and plenty of warm blankets. It was enough and winter only lasted about 3 months.

Well, blankets and warm clothing on their own won't cut it here. We need proper heating and we are fortunate enough to have a pellet oven to warm our house. Yet old habits die hard, and Bob and I only switch it on for 6 hours a day. Winter is just not the same if we don't huddle under a layer of blankets in front of the TV !

I hardly ever think about where the smoke goes to, but of course it escapes through the chimney. This chimney of ours had its service on Thursday. You wondering why I can remember so clearly ? Well, the chimney sweeps of today are different.

Surely you all remember Keanu Reeves in Speed ( Speed [Blu-ray] ), when he is dressed in this swat uniform and has that ( at the time ) uncool yet soon to be cool crew cut. Yes, well, our chimney sweep is like him. All dressed in a black swat uniform and a crew cut.

Whereas Keanu had a gun on his belt, our chimney sweep has a torch and a brush...but a steel brush ! But he still looks like a member of the swat team. I was telling a friend of mine about the very cool chimney sweep and had promised to take a picture for her...but, just now he gets the wrong idea and thinks I want his picture as a pin-up !

The chimney gets serviced four times a year, and last year even Bob thought that the chimney sweeps uniform was ultra-cool. Well, now our chimney is sorted for a few months and we have racked up yet another new and fun experience here in our Burgenland...


Friday, 1 March 2013

Wars....Why ?

Shouldn't we have learned by now ?

While still in primary school I remember having to watch documentaries of the atrocities of the Second World War. It was part of the curriculum and I think it was to make sure that the World would never engage in one again. Very hectic stuff for a young girl to see and it is imprinted indelibly on my mind.

Throughout my life I have seen documentaries of the awful and horrific acts done during wars. It is almost as if the participants think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. What people did and still do to each other is just evil because there can really be no other
explanation for it !

When I saw these black and white documentaries, I realized that a lot of the World didn't know exactly what was going on. It was the time before TV, Internet or even a phone in every household. Naively, I thought that might have been one reason it took so long to stop the atrocities...

Well, maybe not. We all know that there is another War ( civil ) going on right now. In fact it just turned two and seems to be heading into the third. Daily, graphic pictures and videos of it are shown on the News or online, yet's still going on.

Have we somehow become immune to the scenes of war ? What does it say about us, when one celebrity killing, caused more people to take umbrage or even notice for a whole week, then they have done of the war going on, where so many are killed daily ?