Friday, 28 February 2014

Deciphering Man-Speak Is Easier Than You Might Think!

Men, its time to up your game!

Where on earth did they learn this language? From their fathers perhaps or is there a special class in school only for the boys? Oh, the mystery and suspense of it. Oh and how easy it is to understand once you have cracked the code!

Bob and I took our car to have a service yesterday and we waited while it was done. About an hour in, Bob took another meander around the showroom to ease his impatience and stretch his legs. I sat in a corner and read a book. Another customer came in and I heard it was a woman, by the clicking of her shoes on the tiled floor. Out of mere habit, I happened to glance up to see who it was. Oh, it was a pretty woman!

Bob was in my line of vision, and it was too comical to see the reaction this gal set off. He stood up straighter, he sucked in his tummy, he smoothed back his hair, he tried to nonchalantly look disinterested and if he hadn't seen me look up, he would have bent down to tie his shoe-lace to have a better look at her walking in front of him.

As I cracked the language code of my man early on, I like to tease him now and again as he hasn't quite realized my language proficiency.

" Bob, do you think this woman is pretty? "
" What, who, her? Really do you think so? I don't think she is pretty at all. Too overdone! "

You know, most of us women want to be the only pretty woman in the world in our man's eyes, but naturally that is impossible. Gosh, we all appreaciate beauty and we women also tend to mentally whistle after a hunky man. Oh yes, really we do!

When Bob and I first got together, I would self-conciously test him when a pretty woman crossed the horizon. Questions of ; ' Do you think she is good looking ' tended to be flung about far too frequently. Eventually the penny dropped, because Bob used the same phrase time and again:

" What, who, her? Goodness, she is not my type at all. Some guys might like that Barbie look, but not me! "

Here are some hints to help you understand man-speak:

  • The obvious answer of: " Oh no, not my type at all " is code for " My gosh, she is smoking hot ! "
  • Suddenly they are very still. Almost like a bird of prey spotting a worm on the ground. You know, seizing up the situation and watching like a hake. At times they even forget that they are in the middle of a conversation!
  • Some men think they have perfected the art of checking out a " hottie " without their wives noticing it. Let's say they are walking together in the park. In the near distance they spot a " hottie " and before she is upon them, they squat down and start to do a big performance of tying their shoe lace. Once the " hottie " is past them, they get up, but obviously in a way that gives them a good look at her. All the while thinking their better halves hadn't noticed... As if!
  • Driving past a pretty woman: Whereas before they hardly ever glance in the rear view mirrors, now they make a huge production of adjusting it. Or they take longer than necessary to glance into the side mirrors...

Oh, there is never a dull moment in a relationship. It is jolly good fun and so interesting learning that supposedly secret language. Once you are equipped with this code, going to any party or function is so much more fun!

The funniest thing about this whole code language is that the women being " checked out " know the code as well....!


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Nickname, Term Of Endearment Or Apt Description?

Men, surely you don't think you are the only ones...

Not that we have anything to do with a pack of wolves. Not at all, yet we do have a pack mentality at times. Get more than 3 women together and the descriptions of the opposite team ( men ) gets colourful, interesting and rather apt! By the way, it needn't be single woman. No, even us ' old & married ' lot know the code and participate with great gusto.

I dare you to prove me wrong! But here is an example of what I mean. Picture a nice and cozy yet well occupied table at the local coffee shop. Oh yes, a bunch of women are sitting around it
( by the way, we only start to resemble a gaggle of geese once we all have a few glasses too many ) and discussing current affairs.

Eh, current affairs to do with us. As a lot of men happen to have similar names ( John, Joe, Peter etc ) we woman have decided to add a further description to this. One that makes it almost impossible not to know who is spoken about. We add prefixes:

  • Dishy John, Peter or David. Sort of self explanatory.
  • Hunky Jack.
  • Tall / short / clever / old / young / show-off...
  • Sahneschnittchen or as one would say in English, cream puff. To be honest, I heard this term in a movie and it was so apt and nice. A " Sahneschittchen " is a man who could be described as a Metro Male. He wears designer everything. From clothing to aftershave.
  • Fabulous Bob.

I happened to stumble across a documentary on the Vatican which included an Interview with the Secretary of both Popes. Strange, but true. This priest, actually an Archbishop called Georg Gaenswein, is in his late 50's but good golly gosh, he looks like a George Clooney and Richard Chamberlin rolled into one. He even featured on the cover of Vanity Fair!

This priest, can only be described in one extremely apt word...Divine Georg. If he still takes Sunday service I would bet that the pews would be filled with woman.

Hearing him speak in the interview showed that he is a proper priest. Genuine and nice. As he already has such a powerful position in the Vatican, who knows, he might be Pope one day...


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Friends & 2 Decades Later!

Another measure of time, that anyone in their 40's will understand.

As corny as it sounds, good friends are for life. Even the nebulous ones. It struck me yesterday that it was ten years ago that the TV series Friends ended. Oh I remember it perfectly.

Friends: The Complete Series

It was ten years ago that I was reading an article on Jennifer Aniston and how she felt about the end of friends. 10 years of her life, but what an advantageous, rich decade. With hindsight we know that she was just entering the not so friendly time of her life, more commonly known as the Mrs Smith phase! Oh, naive as one is in those situations, she pictured a future with little bambinos that she and Brad would have...

Even while I read this article I tried to see a moving picture of my decade past. More of a silent movie. Gosh, I remember being in New York in 1994 and hearing about this hot new series that everyone was watching. When I see the first season now, I cringe at the fashion that was oh so fashionable then.

Of course I double cringe when I realize that moi aussi wore those high - waisted -make - our - behind - appear - huge pants. And I thought how nice & trendy! By the way, I have this strange feeling that this fashion faux pas is making a comeback. You have been warned!

Many many moons ago I splurged out and bought the entire series of Friends. It was an extravagance but it was also nice to see a series without ad breaks. These episodes have come in very handy. B.B. ( before Bob ) I watched those episodes while walking on the treadmill. Two episodes on the trot which was approximately 44 min. When Bob and first got together we would also love watching Friends and we laughed and laughed...

Fast forward to Burgenland and even here Friends have accompanied us. Emigrating does entail times where not everything is hunky dory. A time when one or both of us might feel a bit down. The money spent on this series years ago was well worth it. Bob and I have watched the entire series again. We watched it and again laughed and laughed and laughed!

Friends Superbox - Die Jahre 1994-2004 (41 Discs)(exklusiv bei

The say laughter is the best medicine...and yes, they are right.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Winter's Over, Sun's Out & Laundry Too!

The end of hibernation or just an opportune moment?

If you have ever had to deal with those folding laundry stands, you'll know what this is about. Good lord, surely there must be an easier way. Trying to hang a machine load full of wet laundry over it is not for the faint of heart.

The jury is still out on whether the socks, undies or t - shirts are the worst to hang on it. Those lines are very close to each other. A case of quantity over quality? Or perhaps we just bought the most economical one! The other day the whole contraption collapsed because I huddled too many wet towels over the left side... Oh, you should have heard my language!

The weather fairy gave the nod ( at least I took it for one ) to go ahead and use the outside washing lines. Locally I am a bit of an aberration because to be frank, the temperature was in single digits yet there I was, happily re-acquainting myself with our cheerful laundry lines in the garden. Oh, it felt so good. Even Tigger came out of her hibernation station to watch me. She knew better than to ask for food, as it was only morning. Seriously, she plonked herself not too far from me and avidly watched the proceedings.

Technically it is still Winter and all of our shrubs ( natural fence ) are sans privacy in our garden. Maybe I set the signal for others to hang laundry on the line or there might be a story doing the rounds in the village, about the daring ( mad ) South-Africans!!!

Oh, I know that a lot of Northerners ( those with short Summers ) own a tumble dryer, but somehow I don't like them. They tend to eat away at the fabrics and if you don't believe me, look at the sieve inside. Tumble driers also seem to emulate a steam chamber. When that machine runs all day, the walls mist up! No thank you, I rather take my chances with the folding laundry contraption.

Laundry swinging merrily on the washing lines has that special x-factor. It smells much better. A sort of sun kissed aroma. It feels better. A sort of wind swept feel. It looks much nicer. A sort of kaleidoscope of colour. Doing laundry in Summer is one of the most divine tasks to do. One of those elusive in the moment affairs. A moment when we feel good about life in general. Next time you fetch the laundry from the washing line you'll think of me!


Monday, 24 February 2014

Superb Sochi Closing Ceremony!

Were they the best ever?

Wow, what a wonderful end to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Did you watch it? If you did, I am sure that you also made a little note in your mind to listen to more classical music. In particular the Russian composed ones.

Nostalgic, soul soothing classical music formed a bit of a backdrop to the interesting history lesson. It must be true what they say about classical music. Listening to it will put you in a better frame of mind...a positive influence indeed. Much better than listening to Bieber and so forth.

What a shame that so many of the athletes had left already. Apparently even the NHL had sent a private plane tout de suite, to ferry back their players. A case of protecting their investments? If the USA had won they might have stayed till the end! But across the disciplines a lot of the stars had left. A bit on the rude side perhaps?

The various national teams are made up of individual sports Prima Donna's and it could not be easy for the various team managers to control those stars. Naively I thought that they would all arrive together and all leave together. Not so it seems. Some stars only arrived a week after the start, but maybe that was how the team managers planned it all along. Possibly more practice at home?

Writing this, I am wondering how many bottles of our local wine were had. Austria house had many wins to celebrate and also some defeats. Yet our local wine did accompany those occasions. For the near future, there might be a spot the Olympians alert in our village. Why shouldn't they take a week or so to sample more divine wine from our area / Gemeinde...

Russia should be very proud of these last two weeks. We were all awed, all inspired and most of us have earmarked Russia for a further look see in person.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Alas, 2 Weeks Of Sochi Is Almost Over!

Yet another measure of time...

One second, one hour, one day or one week sometimes seem to just morph into a blur. A blur of time rushed past us. A blur that we could really not identify in detail yet we know it happened. We cooked, slept, had arguments, drove the kids to school, shopped while all the time keeping an eye on the Olympics.

For some reason I remember the afternoon of the opening day and what I did then. The other 12 days were a happy yet " I couldn't tell you what or when I watched certain events " time phase. Of course I am a mere armchair Olympian.

The real Olympians can tell us stories of how the last 4 years morphed into one long blur of training for them. When you consider that some of the athletes, not the all-rounders but the one's with only one discipline, train for this single moment of glory for four long, hard and certainly painful training years,you gain a new sense of respect for them.

We might have boogied the night away while they sensibly went to bed early. We ( eh, possibly Bob ) slunk home at the crack of dawn while they were already up and running. We got married, had children took up daring hobbies ( gardening in Bob's & my case! ) which they couldn't in case of injury. With gay abandon we ate sweets, treats and hamburgers while they kept to a strict meal plan. Gosh, I am rather envious of that will power and discipline...

Yesterday was the Men's Slalom. A two stage / run race. Each stage takes only about 50 seconds of the athlete's time & effort. Imagine, training for 4 years to do a run that lasts only 2 min...What if the day of your race you aren't feeling great? Or have a touch of flu? Or had a fight with your spouse? Or the weather isn't nice for your discipline?

Yes, in between the Olympics, the athletes compete in other events and leagues but if you ask most of them, they will admit that the Olympic medal is what they all secretly dream of earning. It is the prestige of this elusive Olympic medal / metal!

A few times in my Olympic blur I reminded myself of the fact that even those who came last in certain races and categories, are the best in the world. A minor league athlete won't even crack the nod to wax a ski yet alone wear it! A few of you might have wondered:

' Why do they bother if they don't have a snowball's chance in hell to win? '
but don't forget that any race needs more than the top 3 contenders.

For one, nobody would watch a 3 man race and it wouldn't be much fun for the athletes to shine and show the results of their hard training. Oh, and the most exciting fact of all... now and again an old / forgotten / written-off athlete outshines the favourites with pizzazz, aplomb and a best-time!

Olympians, thank you so much. It was simply divine being able to watch your triumphs and even defeats. Thank You.


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Daily Feeding Ritual @Home!

Once you have a pet, it's hard not to show off or show pictures of her!

Tigger and I have a set ritual. Or rather it happens to be Tigger's strategy and my compliance of it...
" Peek - a - boo, can you see me ? " This is her hangout from about 3 pm onward. It gives her a clear view of the front door and driveway. As soon as she sees me, she flits to and fro to get my attention.
Silly cat...her feeding time rules our life anyway and forgetting her is hardly possible. When she sees me approach with the milk in hand, she skits between the barrels and then chooses a safe location across the yard. As if I would harm her...
Every move I make is monitored with vast interest!
Now and again she corners herself next to her bowl and takes a different safety precaution.
She waits until I leave before she ventures down.
Tigger is happy and fed, wouldn't you agree?


Friday, 21 February 2014

Bob Had An Oh-So-Exciting Adventure!

Goodness, what an adventure in the car park.

Years ago I saw an ad for a 4x4 car. It showed a Yuppie driving an extremely dirty 4x4 to the valet outside a Restaurant, and being proud of her car. Something along the line of designer dirt. Eons ago, only those living in extreme territories owned a 4x4, but now everyone and Aunt Mavis drive one. Of course the real rarity and status symbol is having your car coated in real dirt...a fact that I have stored in the back of my mind. A fact that keeps our car-cleaning excursions to a minimum.

We fetched my folks from a two month hiatus ( away from us? ) yesterday and deemed it an event worthy of cleaning our chariot, which by the way is not a 4x4! Look, to be honest, it was just a spritz and dash on the outside and a 1 minute vacuum on the inside. We went to a Do-It-Yourself station and had 60 seconds to wash & rinse and 60 seconds to vacuum! The dashboard dust stayed!

Whiling away our time waiting for the bus to pull in, we stopped at the E.O. ( Einkaufszentrum Oberwart ) and had some lunch. Trying to find our car in the car park afterwards was jolly difficult as most cars are a clean silver colour and a Peugeot to boot. Lucky for us we know our number plate!

It was so nice to see my folks get off the bus, just in case they had decided to maybe go off on an adventure somewhere else! On our way home we stopped at another shopping centre to get some odds and ends. Bob offered to stay in the car to watch the luggage, but I suspect he didn't want to dither about in the shops. He gets impatient with my spouts of meandering down the isles. Anyway, we spent about 10 minutes in the shops and then made our way back to the car park....

I couldn't believe my eyes when I got to the car. Mum was 10 steps behind me. Two images registered at the same time. Bob had a surprised and rather embarrassed
' Oh, what should I do ' expression on his face, and I saw a young pretty woman get out the back of our car! Jeez-a-lou, what gives? Did I catch Bob In Flagrante Delicto? Oh....!

A second later, the young woman came towards me, embarrassed to the n-th degree but laughing shamefacedly.

" Oh I am so sorry. I thought it was my car."
With that she slunk away towards a car ( an exact copy of ours ) three parking spaces away. As I was talking to her, the strangest thing happened.

My mum, maybe still jet-lagged, went to this woman's car, opened the car door and proceeded to put one leg into the car. Gosh, by that stage we all were in tears from laughter. Even the young lady that gave Bob such a ( nice ) scare. It's not every day that a pretty stranger comes to sit with you in a car. Those of you who know Bob, can imagine his consternation and embarrassed expression.

Should Bob push for a monthly car-cleaning expedition, I'll know that he was thrilled to bits with his car-park adventure yesterday afternoon!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Modern Treasure Adventure: Label Hunting!

Have you tried it lately?

Labels, either we have them, crave them or don't want them. Oh, and oh so often we give out labels to others by eh, excuse the pun, labeling them in a certain category: boring, old, young, tall, thin or not thin, pretty or not pretty, rich or not rich.

Labels on our clothing. Oh gosh golly, how much we all tend to pay for this little piece of a letter on top of our clothes. When you stop and think of it, it is rather silly. Yet, this little label is so vital to some, that even counterfeit ones are made and also bought. But, I am talking of a clothing label of a different sort.

The label on the inside. You know, that pesky little rectangular floppy piece that usually scratches our body. Irritates us. Tells us ( sometimes ) how to care for our clothes. When you glance at this label a bit more carefully and dare I say with magnifying glasses you get to see an all too familiar bit of writing....Made in China.

The modern treasure adventure for me, means finding a piece of clothing that is made and produced in the country you live in. It sounds simple enough and you might wonder what the problem is. Yet, when did you last go shopping with the only criteria being that what you would buy is made in your country? Not so easy.

Of course the world needs free trade and the jobs opportunities that it represents. But shouldn't there be a bit of small print: Some part of the local manufacturing needs to be produced locally and not out-sourced and only put together locally.

Manufacturing is the lifeblood of any economy. When you consider the amount of stuff each of us buys each year and most of it is made in some other country, the penny will drop:

  • Whatever you buy needs to be transported to your country. Lots of C.O.2 released in the process.
  • Do you know for certain that materials used are of a high quality and not a health hazard?
  • Manufacturing abroad costs a lot of local jobs.
  • Tourism: Can tourists still buy souvenirs that are actually made in that country?

Trade is necessary. Trade is good. Trade should be fair. Trade creates jobs...but let's make sure that trade is balanced for most countries.

Here is a thought: Let's buy Made in our country every now and again...


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Extremely Well Behaved Kids, Dried Kidney Beans & A Glass Jar.

Simple Works...

A friend told me, how her parents used to have this ' bean-counting ' game at home. As with all good ideas, it was extremely simple. Something Bob and I could do to make our English classes a tad more fun and exciting.

As soon as the shops were open after Christmas, we ventured into town and started to scour the shops for glass jars. Remember, we needed about 10 of them. Price was an issue. In great style, we also bought labels so that each kid could put their name on the jar. After all, Bob and I would keep them between the lessons. The kidney beans were easy to get at the supermarket.

The rules to go with this are simple, and I explained it to all the kids in German:

  • Each competition lasts a month. At the start of each lesson, each child gets 10 kidney beans for attending.
  • Winning at Uno or other games...2 beans.
  • Knowing some English terms or reading in English....1/2/3/ beans.
  • As to speaking German in the lesson, which they were all fond of doing with each other, we told them that each lesson we would take a piece of paper and make a column with each name. Each time someone spoke German, they would get a tick in their respective column. The one with the least ticks at the end of the lesson...3 beans.
  • If anyone was naughty or swore or hurt another kid....minus 2 beans. ( they have been little angles since then )
  • At the end of the month, the one with the most beans in their jar would get a huge bar of chocolate.

Bob was a tad bit sceptical whether it would work. From the start, I explained it in detail to the crowd ( 7-9 years ) and as they say, warts & all. I made sure they understood about the minus points for speaking German. Bob at times thought I was too strict but from the first minute, as soon as I heard German uttered, the mighty pen struck a mark.

In a way, a lot of adults underestimate how important consistency and rules are for kids. In fact, they thrived on this point of not speaking German. As soon as they noticed that I meant business they got with the program! ( I did tell them that even if they only say YES or NO, that is fine but no chatting in German with each other. )

At the start of the second lesson, the plot thickened. The crafty kids had had their Mums teach them how to say " I don't know " or " I am not sure ". Others almost bit their tongue the whole lesson and resorted to shaking or nodding their head. Too funny but also an extremely impressive display of willpower.

The moment a German word or phrase was uttered, they would quickly bat their eyes in my direction whether I had heard. Naturally I had and a tick resulted. On the off chance that I hadn't heard it, I had plenty of eager little helpers pointing out the fact that someone else had talked in German. Even after a two week holiday, the kids came back and were raring to go and earn beans.

We had our first winner yesterday. As there are lessons on two separate days, we made each child count his or her own beans. That amount got written on a piece of paper and I explained to them, that they would have to wait a week before the winner gets his prize. As young as they are, they knew exactly what was what!

Our lot are ingenious to boot. As the last bean was counted, one girl asked me what would happen if there were 2 winners.

" Of course you each get your own bar. "
Then she asked me what would happen if all of them got the same amount.
" Oh, that might be too expensive for Bob and I."
and sangfroid she replied:
" Oh, that's okay. We will lend you the money so that you can buy us all a big bar of chocolate! "

Life in Burgenland...fabulous!


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Moon, As Hypnotic As Ever.

How much influence has the moon got over us?

Have you also noticed that once the moon puts on its last few pounds to form that perfect round full moon shape, sleep is not the same anymore! Next time you go through a bout of not sleeping too well, take the time to go and look up. Look up to see the shape of the moon.

A full moon features prominently in a lot of werewolf movies. Isn't that the time that Mr. Hyde morphs out of brave Dr. Jekyll. Movie directors are so clever. They put in elements that just could be true. That little bit extra that makes us wonder about a real life full moon and if some ordinary man will let his fangs show!!! I dare say, at times when the moon is full, both Bob and I are rather testy and crotchety. Fangs of a sort!

It turns out that a lot of people organize their daily life around the moon's schedule. Even on our Radio Burgenland, they regularly share a moon calender. When I heard it for the first, I couldn't stop laughing but now I do tend to use it if suited. The Radio announcer will read out a list of chores that would turn out better on a certain day. Obviously to do with the moon phase.

Just to give you an idea:

  • Having your hair cut / coloured or even washed will turn out better on certain moon phases. Great for any Hairstylist to merely mutter:
    " Oh, you shouldn't have come in today. It really had nothing to do with me that your hair turned a shade of pink!"
  • Gardening has better results if done on the correct moon phase days. Crops will turn out bigger and better tasting.
  • My personal favourite: There are only so many days in a lunar month that it is recommended to clean in your home. Can you believe it, I keep on missing the perfect day. Oh well might have to wait another month....!

You know, a full moon has an almost ethereal quality about it despite putting a strong symbol into the dark landscape of a night sky. A full moon is bright enough to overpower normal lights. A full moon makes you dream of possibilities. A full moon is just...beautiful.

" Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. "
Mark Twain
" You moon the wrong person at an office party and suddenly
you're not ' professional ' anymore."

Jeff Foxworthy

Biggi Mondkalender 2014: Abreißkalender

Last night's moon in its full glory!
Taken from our front door. The colour palette was magnetic to behold.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Oh My, Isn't Sochi A Feast For The Eye!

Russia, snow and men in cat-suits, need I say more?

Can you believe it, for some reason we can watch a whole 12 hours of Olympic sport on the trot daily ( public TV not Satellite ) with hardly an ad break in sight. Gosh, lavatory breaks get scheduled around the odd news casts. A visual feast indeed. We don't get an athletes performance chopped off half way to show us the latest " This that & other product "...

Like everyone else, I had preconceived ideas of these Olympic games. Wow, have they been blasted away by the stunning backdrop of the Russian countryside. Catching a glimpse of the mountains as the alpine skiers stand at the start is breathtaking. Stunning and oh so on the list of places to visit.

At first I did wonder why they chose Sochi with its rather Mediterranean climes. Winter sport should be underscored by athletes shivering and having icicles form off their noses. By the way, have you seen some of those tight cat-suits? Of course it lessens wind resistance but lets face it, they are not often very flattering. Good golly, the other day I caught a glimpse of a 6-pack stomach as one of the skiers changed out of a hot cat suit. Every cloud has a silver lining!

The Russian government was clever in its choice of Sochi even though there are plenty of locales in Russia that have oodles of snow and ice to offer. The Siberian area comes to mind. But for me, the many, many years of seeing movies in which offenders of all sorts were shipped of to Siberia have left a mark. There would have been no way that I would even consider visiting Siberia.( I know it was mostly make - believe, but still! ) Sochi on the other hand, looks inviting to visit. The fact that you can walk around in a t-shirt in winter is an added bonus.

The Olympics themselves are inspiring indeed. Even as an armchair spectator you tend to get a fresh bout of enthusiasm to start a sporting activity. It's such fun to support the various athletes and or countries. Bob and I often throw our fan - might behind opposing teams / athletes. Nice bit of friction at times!

My favourite types of winter sport are:

  1. Alpine downhill skiing. Wow, these guys ski faster than the maximum speed allowed on most highways. Downhill on an icy hill and with wax-bottomed skies. Pure adrenaline.
  2. Super G / Giant slalom + slalom.
  3. Cross country skiing. This is the one sport that I could actually see myself doing!!!
  4. Ski jumping...Bob is rather keen to try this - although I think he'd drop like a stone!!!!
  5. Ice be honest, this game is so fast, that I don't often see where the puck is. They should perhaps colour that puck in luminous yellows or oranges...

As fabulous as Sochi is, the sad fact remains that it is more than half way over already. The end is near but Bob and I will be watching until the last finish line is crossed. If you don't get to see it on your regular TV stations, remember these Olympics are at the cutting edge of technology and you can see it streamed live on your computer / laptop or mobile device. Enjoy and let me know which category of winter sport is your favourite....


Sunday, 16 February 2014

The #1 Staple In Most Country Pantries.

Nature is a great provider.

In our grandparents day, the kitchen was the place to be in winter. Remember a time without electricity where only the kitchen had a wood burning stove that more or less was in full swing all day long. My Dad sometimes tells me stories of how as a young boy of 7 he had to get up at the crack of dawn to light and make the fire. Believe me making a fire is not so easy and those times I struggled to get a simple fire going ( in my 40's ) I would think of how my Dad made a fire at such a young age.

Everyone lives a more modern lifestyle now, yet some things are ingrained in our psyches. The kitchen is still the place to hang out during winter. You know, it gives you a sense of warmth that goes beyond the obvious. It envelops your soul in a warm cotton wool feeling of comfort. As you step in these country kitchens, the day brightens and brightens a few shades more when coffee and home baked cake are to be had.

I have been in a lot of different kitchens lately and almost all of them had a little pantry off it where there were rows and rows of home made jams. Jams in all shapes, colours and sizes. All of them had neat labels on the glass jar. This is a trick I am going to use this summer because to be honest, our jams don't all have a label. At the time of making them, I thought that naturally I would know cherry from a plum. But as we were so very prolific in our jam production, going into our earth cellar is a bit of a lucky draw. On top of which our earth cellar is dark and spooky. Lingering in there is not something I tend to do.

As you know, our garden is blessed with about 20 fruit trees of all types and friends offered fruit from trees they didn't use ( quince and apricot ). Our jam collection is in a range of colours: reds, oranges, blues and purples. Rather pretty.

The moment you taste your own homemade jam that is it. There is no going back. Apart from knowing you've created this delectable spread, the taste is vastly superior to anything store bought and mass produced.

  • Cherry jam that still smacks of that sweet & tart aroma. A jam that has the most abundantly rich purple colour. Combined with a liberal covering of butter it makes a simple bread and jam event a gourmet excursion.
  • Plum jam is even more special in our home and in our village. Plums have to compete with the enthusiastic Schnapps makers. Unless you are quick to pick those plums
    ( and guard them with zeal ), they end up providing a base for a good schnapps. Yes, plum jam is a treasure.
  • Apple or pear jam was a new creation for us but one that is just as useful. Those oh so cold winter afternoons almost hypnotically entice me to whip up a batch of pancakes. Pancakes with apple jam on top....yummy.
  • Should you ever get a jar of Blackberry jam from Bob & I, count yourself lucky. For this jam we had to go walking in the forest and pick the berries one at a time. F.Y.I those twigs are full of thorns!
  • I am afraid that I can't comment much on our Apricot jam. Now and again we get a bucket of apricots from my Mom's neighbour or we " borrow " some from the vacant house up the road but there are never large quantities. Maybe this is why it is always used up before I get a chance to have some!

At times our modern way of life and all that goes along with it, makes me yearn for an anchor that keeps me grounded and in the moment. It sounds cheesy but making jam is one of those activities that make sense...


Spiderwebs overhead!
Can you see my dilemma?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

You Can Take The Man Out Of The Village, But....

The lure of the meadows, pastures and tractor is just too irresistible.

Ask any farmer worth his salt, and he will tell you that most of his kids ( sometimes the girls too ) know how to drive a tractor before they are 15. This is a treasure that city kids can only dream about.

Landwirtschafts-Simulator 2013 (PS3)

Growing up and learning how to milk a cow by hand, driving a tractor over the fields, stacking hay and taking the freshly laid eggs from a protective chicken must be the best fun ever. Oh for sure, once the hormones kick in a lot yearn for the big city life complete with suit and tie.

Yes, in our village a lot of the youngsters ( 20-50 age group ) work in Vienna. But despite or maybe because of all the glitz, glamour and fun a city offers, some of the men head home on weekends. Either to stay with their parents or family. Sort of like a SuperFarmerAction hero..

Can you picture this SuperFarmerAction hero?

Driving out of the Vienna city limits, he'll start to loosen his tie and take it off. A few kilometers further on he'll ditch his blazers and smart togs. Finally as he stops the car at home, he'll turn into SmartFarmer. I like to picture it as a metamorphosis from that suit & tie to wellies and dungarees. Oh and lets not forget a huge grin on his face.

These bankers and lawyers can hop on a tractor and plow the fields without switching gear. These skills are innate and are never forgotten. By the way, driving a tractor is not so easy. Maybe going forward is manageable but driving in reverse is an art form.

When you see how precise they whip that tractor through its paces, you begin to get a new found respect for them. A few of the local boys have even won trophies for their skills in tractor driving.

Women like to knit / crochet / cross-stitch or sew to relax. For some men, the time spent on a tractor or forking hay bales is better therapy than a spa - holiday.

Let's not forget, that farming is making a comeback in importance and popularity. Farming is a desirable trade to learn. The world needs to eat and without farmers, we wouldn't have food...Thank you, Farmers! Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre


A glorious weekend morning...
Soothing, isn't it?
A rural scene.

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Many Facets Of Winter.

Nature is amazing.

You couldn't get more perfection if you tried. However much we like to compete, Mother Nature always is one step ahead. It takes a camera to have a close enough look to notice it.

Aren't those frozen droplets on the twigs of lavender just too beautiful?

Oh, don't get me wrong. Mother Nature is our foe in some parts of the world right now. A foe that is dealing out misery. What is that old saying: " Never judge anybody until you walk a mile in their shoes! "...let's be honest, we have been meting out gigantic heaps of misery to Mother Nature. The ball is in Mother Nature's court!

I am hoping that there is a silver lining in this dark cloud of Nature's revenge. Hearing how for example 5000 flights have been cancelled for the day, it makes me happy that there is a lot less pollution in the sky. Even if just for the duration of the storm(s). The possible silver lining:

  • Collectively these awful winter storms have made people think of alternate ways to do business. Gosh, isn't that one of the main tenets of the can work from home!
  • Strangers have pitched in to help those in need. Even at their own risk. Human kindness is getting bigger and bigger.
  • Possessions are just possessions. They cannot replace our family, health or friends. The intense focus on getting more & more is starting to shift toward finding ways of being happier with less & less.
    Once we realize that less is more & less is perfect, we automatically cut our carbon footprint in enormous quantities...
  • Power cuts, as disrupting and painful as they are do teach us a few things. When we still lived in South Africa, we would have scheduled and un-scheduled powercuts lasting hours or even days. Guess what? You learn to make do and when the power comes on again you have a new respect for it and use it accordingly.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Job Opportunities From The Swedish Model.

Practicality & a tool belt will suffice...

There are two main bits of friction in most marriages. The first time you encounter them, you have to remember your vows. The good with the bad. It also tends to be the first time that you see a different version of that divine man at the altar! Have you got the two in mind? But sorry, I don't think we are on the same page as yet. Even though one tends to happen in the bedroom.

First, unless you have a G.P.S. and frankly even SHE will mislead you and still have that annoyingly pleasant tone of voice, there is no way around it:

you have to ask your wife to read the map or give you directions.
Oh, Good Lord, let it not be on your honeymoon! Your lack of listening to your ( oh so clever at map-reading ) wife will cause plenty of sparks to fly and often a fair amount of time delay.
" So sorry we are late. For SOME reason we missed the turn-off a few times! "

The second is a bit more nifty, tricky and pervasive. Let's start at the beginning. Moving into your own place means you have to furnish it. We were all so used to living at Hotel Mama & Papa . That rather nicely feathered nest complete with room / laundry / cleaning service nobody really wants to leave! A place where furniture is just there.

Furniture we took for granted and used it to throw stuff on, in or over it. We never thought of how it got there, or did you perhaps? To be honest, it came as a bit of a shocker to me when I realized that the lovely display cupboard / bed / or kitchen unit on the shop floor, looks totally different when you buy it!

Those Swedes and their model of ' ingenuity ' are the culprits. When Ikea first got on the scene their low prices were amazing. What took a while to permeate our euphoric mind was the little left out detail of how to assemble it. Oh yes, that was one reason for this low-cost came disassembled.

Isn't it horrific when you open that long box, and out come planks, a packet of screws and a simple sheet of instructions instead of a lovely bed / chair or cupboard... If you are lucky, all the bits and bobs are in the box. If not, an Allan key might have gone astray or you've got a screw a size too small. Driving back to the store and admitting you have a screw loose..I think not!

Well, here is the other cause for marital sparks. Some men don't want to admit that they haven't got a clue of how to put this affordable furniture together. Eh, so that it looks as it did in the show room. Somehow admitting to not being able to assemble a chair or a cupboard is akin to admitting that you need instructions on how to drive to somewhere.

Imagine if there was a man you could hire to do all those odd jobs of assembling your furniture. I for one would hire him without batting an eyelid. Whatever he charges would be worth not having an argument with your husband over where to put the nail, screw or hammer...


Bob's putting together a chair for friends. A few choice words have been uttered already!
An easier job!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Never Underestimate The Strength Of Us Women!

Men should know better by now!

One woman has managed to do what most opposition party members have only dreamed of achieving! This one woman tactically yet unintentionally broadsided the Defence Secretary with a few well targeted verbal shots.See interview on Sky TV Oh, she hit the Bull's eye in every way. She more or less had him speechless and following her demands as it were.

Within the hour, it appears that this one woman managed to mobilize all the help her town needed. All the help that should have been there days before. Wow, this Lady is fabulous and I would imagine rather infamous in Downing Street...I am sure that her husband will pick up his dirty socks from now on!!!

" A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

The weather is playing havoc all over the world. At the moment most of us have been following the unfolding of the floods in England. Scary, heartbreaking, surreal and just plain nasty. The only bright spot on this terrible event was and is the strength this one woman showed and the powerful results that followed.

To be fair, I take my hat off to the peoples skill that the Defence Secretary showed. Gosh, we all know how hard it is to reply to a verbal attack. An attack with merit on top of it.

Now and again ( even more scary ) the question of what caused this catastrophe was banded about on the various news casts when they interviewed Government members.
Why does the term

Global Warming / Climate Change cause some politicians to change the subject / claim it is not true / say it is not really man-made or childishly ask why should they do something to counter it if other countries aren't?
Do they have a secret escape hatch that us mere mortals don't have? Quite frankly, they also have to live with the ever worsening climate changes.

In so many countries that play a dominant part in world trade their Government Elections tend to pendle between the Conservative or Labour / Republican or Democrat. Well, I wouldn't be surprised if in the next round of elections, the Green Parties will be the winners.

It used to be that we had to worry about pensions, medical aids and social security. In the near future the main problem we face is having a safe place to live and build our life. A life without fear of catastrophic disruptions.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Be Honest, Are You Getting Worried As Well?

This extreme weather has got me wondering what will be next.

The first few months of 2014 have not been kind to some countries. Extreme weather conditions in England ( storms, rain & flooding ) and countries in Northern America ( extreme freezing temperatures ) have made themselves heard. Almost a warning siren from Mother Nature. But are we listening?

Article in: Union of Concerned Scientists.

At the moment, all that can be done is to save people, livestock and property in the flooded areas. An instant address to this terrible situation. Yet, if all of us don't change our lifestyles, these types of extreme weather patterns are just going to become more frequent along with those terrible weather disasters. What used to be a

once in a lifetime / century / 200 year event
might be
once in a decade / annual event.
Frightening, isn't it?

You know, apart from the obvious damage in flooding ( homes destroyed etc ) there are also the not always thought of damages. Damage to agriculture. Damage to food production. Yes, in the near future, the easy availabitly of grown food might not be so easy to get. Apart from anything else, food will become jolly expensive.

Those with gardens, can at least re-plan their strategy of impressing the neighbours with a few rows of vegetables, a couple of fruit trees and a few bushes of herbs.

" Gosh, have you seen her vegetable garden? It's not fair, I try so hard but mine never looks as nice as hers! "

So, what should or could we do to help save our planet? Deep down we all know what we can do. Carbon emissions are the major problem and gosh golly darn it, we know when we are guilty of causing it!!!!

Eartheasy: Some practical tips on helping lessen climate change.

Yes, industry and jobs need to keep going. People need to keep shopping to buy the products made.

But, this new reality of our environment needs us to have a new reality of spending, producing and living.
All the money in the world won't be of comfort if there is nowhere to use or spend it...

Please, try and do 1 Earth Friendly deed today. It need not be anything major but of course if it is that is fantastic as well.

  • If you shop daily at your supermarket, change and do this weekly. Same amount of food, yet because you leave out 6x the driving, you cause less carbon emissions.
  • Use your clothing more. Remember, it takes a lot of H2O to produce any item of clothing and more often than not it takes a huge amount of carbon emissions to get it to your local store.
  • Use your bicycle or walk whenever possible. Not only will you save carbon emissions, but you will get healthier in the process. Imagine if we were all a bit more physically active...we would save a lot of money on health problems. Money that could be spent in better ways. You know, to ensure a future...

Biggi of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming of Doubt

Monday, 10 February 2014

Do You Think Superstitions Are Old Wives' Tale's?

Today it seems, it is Umbrella day...

Early this morning both of us were watching Sat 1 Breakfast Show as they were introducing the umbrella segment. The two presenters were each holding their own colourful umbrella. All well and good. That is until they started to open them in the studio. Goodness, both of us shouted at the TV:

" Noooo, don't open it. That is such bad luck!!!"
. It seems that Bob and I have a lot in common. If nothing else, we just found out about this Umbrella Day. Eh, how does one pay homage to an umbrella?

Someone somewhere must have started on this superstition business. Doesn't it create a dilemma for us? I don't open an umbrella in the house and don't get me started on walking under know, just in case it might be true!

Do you believe some of these superstitions or do you think they are Old Wives' Tale's to be ignored?

  • Walking under a ladder will bring you bad luck.
  • Friday the 13th is a day on which it is better to stay at home, because most of us see it as an unlucky day.
  • A black cat crossing your path...some think it good luck and some bad luck.
  • Spilling salt: take a pinch and throw it over your shoulder.
  • Crossing your fingers for good luck.
  • When a bird poops on your shoulder...good luck.
  • Lucky numbers: 7 or 8.
  • Touching a chimney sweep! Mainly a Northern Hemisphere superstition because in the Southern Hemisphere, chimneys aren't really used a lot!

Most of us could make this list endless. Maybe these superstitions make life a tad bit more exciting and adventurous and it can be jolly good fun waiting for our luck to come in...

Happy Umbrella Day


Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Lofty Heights Of Our Attic.

The Sole Domain Of Our Cat, Tigger!

Jeez-Louise, I mustn't forget to tell anyone who is visiting us overnight about Tigger and her attic or should I say antics! She has got plenty of them and the uninformed might take them up as know the ghostly type.

As Bob & I didn't grow up with a tool-belt attached to our trousers, we are a little bit handicapped when it comes to insulating our roof. But clearly Tigger is loving this fact. All the warmth goes up
( and sadly away ) via the attic. This whole winter she has made this her castle and I fervently hope that she has chosen only to leave said castle when she feels the urge to " you-know-what ". We feed her enough stuff that she surely needs to go sometimes!

Sometimes I can hear her doing what I can only think of as aerobics / acrobatics. If she is not alone, we might get a pleasant surprise of a few kittens soon...but I think not, because when she does prance around her stomach seems to drop quite low on the floor. An almost sure sign of having been " fixed " or so the locals say. Remember she is a feral and we have yet to have the pleasure of meeting her close up. You know, just to run a friendly hand over her back.

When I feed her, she is already waiting for me. Sometimes she peeps over the top of the ladder down at me, sometimes she watches a few meters away and when I am not there she is clever enough to remind Bob that it is her supper time! Bob at times gets so caught up in what he is doing, that he forgets everything around him. Gosh, he doesn't even hear me when I ask him a question. ( Of course that could be a defence tactic against a nagging wife!!! )

The other evening I came home from work, and Bob couldn't wait to tell me:

" We had a visitor come around and knock on our window. "
" Oh really, who was it ? "
" I was finishing my puzzle and all of a sudden Tigger jumped on the window sill and made sure I heard her, by throwing her body against the glass. "

Ah, the little darling. Isn't she the greatest? Well, Bob did to her bidding and hastened outside to feed her. Of course he doesn't heat up the milk like I do and she tends to therefore come a bit closer to me than to Bob. I know its not nice to compete for affection, but honestly, we do compare who Tigger likes more!


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Opening Ceremony Sochi 2014: A Fabulous & Visual Feast.

Many " Aah / Ooh / Wow " moments during the opening ceremony.

Let's just say that the bar for opening ceremonies is resting on the highest rung at the moment. Even though there were elements of High - Tech ( is there ever anything without it lately? ) it had evocative soul resonating classical elements and music.

Russia is often depicted in just one way and not always a flattering one. To see a version of historical events that does a 180 degree turn from the usual Newscast scenarios was for me frankly thought provoking. In fact, I might even pick up a history book to have a proper look myself.

Timelines of History

And yes, before you think me naive, I do know that the history shown was a brief layer of the vast surface. But don't we all do the same in a manner of speaking? When we meet anyone for the first time, when we go for a job interview or on a first date, gosh only the brave mention every skeleton in their closet...

For once, we were able to watch a 3 hour special on TV with No advertising breaks. Can you imagine? Yet, Bob and I were glued to the screen. They just put on such a stunning event. Even watching the different nations emerge with their flag bearer and varying uniforms was enjoyable. Honestly, some uniforms were eh, not so nice and seem a tad bit too big in size!

As each nation of competitors emerged with the flag bearer out front, the camera zoomed in on the corresponding Heads of State or even a Royal at times. Monaco was special in a way, because the German reporter ( of sport news! ) took a pause and commented on the fact that seeing
Albert & Charlene so close to each other and smiling obviously negates any relationship rumours...

The Mexican Olympic contestant came out bearing the flag and cast a cloak of possibilities over Bob. Jeez-a-lou, this competitor is 55 years old! In a few years time the classic " Cool Runnings " might be trumped by " Old Runnings " !

Oh, as for that missing 5th Olympic ring: We all make mistakes and unfortunately most major News Channels couldn't help but point out this missing link. But here is the thing....this little faux pas has ensured that everyone is talking about this opening ceremony.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Red Wine From Our Village Is Served At The Austrian Olympic House In Sochi 2014.

Polczer Wine Estate has the honour.

Wow, imagine making wine and having that wine served at such an illustrious occasion. Fabulous and fantastic. Let's face it, this wine made by Polczer Wine Estate / Weingut will be sipped and tasted by the Who is Who of Olympia / Show Biz / Industry and Government when they visit the Austrian Olympic House.

Not only has our Gemeinde the honour of making the best Red Wine in Austria of 2014 but now wine made by another local winemaker is served at the Olympic games. The whole village is pleased as punch, proud as peacocks and rightly so.

Imagine how cool it is to live so close to this fantastic source of wine. Polczer Wine Estate is literally 200 meters down the road. Future visitors to " Bob & Biggi's Home " might take a stroll down there and buy a bottle or two. In fact, in our whole Gemeinde ( and wine producing is the major industry ) is full of these delicious pit-stops of wine estates.

One could theoretically start a leisurely stroll mid morning and sample the various offerings at the local wine estates. One could have a hearty, filling and strength providing meal at one of the many local Buschenschanks. In fact, just writing this makes me wonder why more wine aficionados don't come and take their holiday in our area? Gosh, as long as you have a good sturdy pair of shoes and a good constitution, you could spend your whole holiday without using your car.

Where to Stay in our area.

For the less-fond-of walking crowd there are E-bikes to let in the village. Oh those are the coolest. A bicycle with a little electric engine. What more could you want?

Gosh, today is the start of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014. We are all so excited and everyone I know will be watching it. Austria has so many champion Athletes competing that winning a Gold Medal is not a question of when but of how many!

When you see those captains of industry / Celebrities or Who's Who watching in the stands, there is a good chance that they will have tasted our local wine made down the road by Polczer....


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Olympic Timekeeping...!

Living in Olympic intervals.

We all count our age the same way. Every year we put another candle on the cake and increase the number slightly ( 39 and 1/4 etc ) Kind of like those ancient tree trunks they keep discovering. You know, where they do the carbon dating by counting the rings ( wrinkles ).

All well and good. Another year? Oh yes, we know, ha ha! Jolly good show and no big deal. It is only one year extra after all!

But, let's be honest. Please tell me that you also get blindsided by the Olympics? Summer and Winter Games alike.

It is almost like a punch in the stomach. Gosh, golly darn it...another four years have gone! As nice as the Olympics are ( and I have to say that I have been counting the days leading up to Sochi 2014 ) it is a very, very stark reminder that we have added another 4 circles to our age count.

Isn't it almost second nature to sit and ponder what we did 4 years ago and what life we lived between that Olympic interval? If you are anything like me, you can remember when you heard the announcement for Sochi 2014 back in the day. Nobody likes to think away 7 years.

These epic tournaments ( Olympic and World Cup ) are those pesky reminders that life keeps rushing by. Life keeps going. Life happens faster than we would like it to. Participants who were hailed as the new best hope are suddenly in their penultimate Games. These world class athletes must have incredibly thick skins. Imagine being called an over the hill athlete in your early to mid 30's ?

One bright spot on the horizon is that we sport-plebeians can take part in them as long as we like or can. Unlike those top athletes that are honed and practiced to perfection, we fortunately don't have a cut off age. As long as we can sit, watch and operate a remote control we are in the game...

As an aside to the Olympic committee: After these games, could we please just start re-using the many venues already built all over the world? All these new sites being created can't be good for our environment and hardly necessary if you consider all those White Elephants scattered around the globe.

Let's hope these games will only be games. Let's hope that the weather behaves and that there will be enough snow to give the correct backdrop to a Winter Olympic Game.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Breweries & A Global Winning Marketing Idea.

It couldn't have been thought of by anyone else?

By pure chance I stumbled across the first one yesterday. There was someone I knew standing with a beer can and ready to do something silly in his uploaded video. Of course I had to watch it.

But how strange, what was the point of it other than proving that this man who sports a batch of grey foliage on his head, can still do inane tricks that he did in college or at school...

Downing a can of beer. Stuff the lads normally do at B.B.Q's or in the pub. Even though they think it is... it is not a gal-magnet. Far from it. Invariably they tend to burp after this bout of unusual drinking and lets face it, those are not great selling points for romance.

Wherever you look in your Facebook news stream, there is someone doing this party trick. Some better and more decked out than others, but however you put it, it is a boys party trick....

Regardless of how I think of it, it has gone viral and still has plenty to go. The breweries must be smiling all the way to the bank. Bravo!

How would the wine industry do this? There would have to be elegant settings with people sipping a glass of wine. The colour of the wine would be a selling point and of course the crystal it is in. Naturally those videos would be a full feature length as wine drinkers don't down a glass of wine....

Oh, and what do you think about eating a bar of chocolate? How long would that video be? Depending on the mood I am in, it could be a rival for the beer downing crowd!


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

" Would You Like Some Food With Your Plastic? "

Is it even possible to buy food without plastic wrapping?

That old saying:

" Would you like some fries with this? "
should change to:
" Do you want this wrapped in more plastic?"

Burgenland & Austria is fantastic in its recycling of rubbish. We had not been used to it while living in South Africa. When we first arrived here in Burgenland, it was rather daunting, funny & difficult to learn how to separate our rubbish. You know, paper, glass and the ever present plastics. Gosh, seeing the amount of rubbish we generate is mind boggling.

Unlike in S.A. we get given a roster of when each genre of rubbish gets collected. Just in case you think it is anything so silly as weekly, think again. More or less each category / genre of rubbish gets collected every 6 weeks. Yes, 6 weeks...even for the non-recycleable rubbish.

Surprisingly once you filter out the recyclable elements, the rest - rubbish is not that much. A black rubbish bin is ample for a 6 week period. But what scares me the most, is how much plastic we collect in a 6 week period. Bear in mind that we are more mindful of not having a lot of needless plastic when we go shopping.

When you toss rubbish out in one piece ( not having to separate materials ) you don't get a feel for how much plastic there is:

  • Milk, yohurt and dairy products...all cased in plastic.
  • Store bought bread...cased in plastic.
  • A lot of vegetables...cased in plastic.
  • Sweets and chocolates....cased in plastic.
  • Ice cream....alas also cased in plastic.

It is jolly difficult to shop plastic free. Our way of life is geared towards this. We are more lucky than most because we live in the country side where we can still go to the Butcher, Baker & Dairy with our own basket and containers. Living in a big city makes it is not so easy, although that shouldn't stop us from giving it a go.

Being mindful of not consuming too much plastic should be second nature. All this plastic in our lives can't be good for us or can it? Interesting article in Scientific American.

If you don't recycle your rubbish already, why don't your do your own experiment for a 6 week period. Start collecting any plastic you generate in everyday'll get a rude awakening about the amount of plastic you will have generated / used in that 6 weeks.


Monday, 3 February 2014

The Icy Adventure On Our Iced Over Roads.

Never mind the roads, the driveway is too.

On Friday I sat in on a pedicure-party. Oh yes, I told you that our village is a place of fun and good times. One little tidbit I gleaned was from a local gal ( born & bred ) telling us that she told all of her family at home:

" You only go outside the front door if you really have to. It is far too dangerous and slippery. "
Now that surprised me no end. I assumed that Bob and I, hailing from warmer climes were just being silly when it came to navigating our icy environs.

Well, there was the proof. Everyone seems to be battling. Just to put you in the picture: Merely walking out your front door and stepping on the lawn in front of you is pure danger. It has snow on it that has frozen over into this icy cover. After the snowfall it also rained a bit and this
' mish mash ' has frozen over again. Oh yes, one could easily play ice hockey on our driveway.

Bob has had an outlandish idea of Bob-sleighing down the driveway using a plastic lid and sitting on it. As I to pointed out to him:

" How on earth are you going to stop before you cross over the main road? "

Let me tell you, even getting our car back into its garage is a nightmare. So difficult to get a grip for the tyres. Gosh, the only cars you see coquettishly using the road are the elusive 4 x 4 and of course tractors. The other day, I was shuffling along the side of the road ( if you ever walk on treacherous ground, you'll realize that shuffling is an apt description ) when a 4 x 4 whooshed past and even gave a jaunt wave!

This has been a weekend of relaxing for us. I have not been out the house for two days. Oh, except for giving nourishment to our lovely Tigger. Even that little walk to her hiding hole is far from safe.

At the moment, when you look outside the snow looks all nice and woolly. But as you step on it, you sort of break through it. This snow has iced over and is more a collection of white looking ice.

It was so cute yesterday afternoon when I went to feed Tigger a tad bit late. We are only talking about 30 minutes or so. Yet, outside each one of our windows were here distinctive little paw prints in the icy snow. Almost as if she had tried to work out which window we were hiding behind.

At least I know that she is not underfed. Her paw prints had power behind them. A lightweight would hardly have broken the surface....


Start with the pretty. This is the tree outside our bathroom window. Isn't the ice formation stunning?
Our driveway meets the road. Wherever you put your foot, it slips out from under you.
A close-up of the road. Yes it has gravel on it, but they are covered in ice and that makes the road still extremely treacherous.
Tigger leaves her mark...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Save Water Now Because You Might Not Get A Rainy Day!

In a few years time, water will be an extremely valuable & rare commodity.

Oh, I know that some of you have never had to worry about where your water came from and if it would come. You simply turned on the tap and used water in copious amounts. But at any one time, there will be a drought somewhere in the world. With our climate change or Global Warming, which we are responsible for, the advent of drought seems to increase.

California is one place. A place where the world might take notice of it. Take notice enough to do something about our water wasting way of life. The African continent is used to droughts and once you have been in one, you tend to automatically save water even in the rainy season. Great. We all need to be involved in saving water & our nature.

Collectively we can make a difference to prevent or at least hinder global warming ( at least I think along those lines ). Remember, a collection is made up of one item after the other. I firmly believe that every one of us can help and make a difference. It doesn't matter how small your contribution is. It all helps collectively. Stop thinking along the lines of:

" My bit won't make a difference anymore, so why should I even bother?".
Yes... it... does.

  • Switch off the water tap while you brush your teeth. There is no need to keep the tap running while you do your 2 minutes of brushing.
  • Eat less meat. In The HuffingtonPost Green. there is a great chart on how much water simple foods take to be produced.
  • Re-use / recycle stuff. Don't just rush out to buy new stuff.
  • Buy new clothes only if the old ones are tatty and not just because they might be
    a tad bit last season. It takes gigantic amounts of water to produce each item of clothing and there is also the issue of chemicals used in the production of clothes. Start to think of the consequences when & while you shop.
  • Plant your garden in a way that doesn't need a lot of extra water.
  • here is a link to a Eartheasy website & their tips for saving water.

Life is so precious. Life is fun. Life is good. But without water, life is not fun and we will be lucky to have a life.

Just do one thing different every day. Maybe your aim is to save water or maybe your aim is to counter Global Warming. Please don't stop and remember, Sharing Is Caring. At the bottom are a few Social Media avenues that can give your friends a bit of a nudge.


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Feng Shui, Cleaning & My Instant Money Success.

Cleaning is not such a bad idea after all!

Bob was out at a client, it was icy and cold outside and I was at a loose end. What to do? A book beckoned, the computer lured with hard to refuse baits but strong I stayed and went to attack the bathroom with a scrubbing brush and mop!

P/S: Only copy me at your own risk. Fair warning...!

The one bright spot was a new floor cleaning cloth ( the common term would be a rag! ) I had purchased it this week and isn't it the case with anything new that we love to give it a test drive... As for the scrubbing brush, it doesn't mean that we live on the side of messy. No, when I chose the bathroom floor tiles, as a novice chooser of tiles I of course selected the wrong one.

Oh, they look alright but are a pain to clean. They have a rough surface. My reasoning was that it would prevent us slipping on a wet tile. Fair enough, that won't happen but these tiles love to collect and hoard dirt for eternity. Only a scrubbing brush suffices.

As only happens when you get bitten by a temporary cleaning bug ( do they happen to you as well? ) I went the whole hog in the bathroom. The shower curtain was taken down & changed, the tiles in the shower gave me a bit of a fright once the protective shower curtain was gone. Never the less, they got a good clean. The washing machine got a new load, the floor got an extra scrub and generally everything was neatened.

While I was still in this euphoric mood, I got started on the vestibule floor and did a few twists and turns getting it spruced up. Apart from a slightly sore back, it was a good feeling. When you are not a cleaning fanatic ( oh yes, I have heard rumours that they exist in the world ) these odd cleaning attacks bring a new found feeling with it. Pride and of course a vigilant eye in case someone ( Bob ) walks into the house with muddy and wet shoes!

Funny enough, it didn't take me long. Maybe an hour tops. As a reward, I made myself a cup of tea ( with the 5 roses teabags sent from S.A. ) and finally answered my computer and its pervasive lures. A bit of social media, a check on the blog and a chat on Skype felt rather nice.

This peaceful state was interrupted by a knock on the front door. Thinking it was Bob I went to open the door and was surprised to see the postman. Gosh, he had made it up our icy frozen driveway. Anyway, he only knocks when there is a parcel or some such.

"Oh Hi, have you got a parcel for us? "
"No, I have one better. Money."

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Money. Money delivered to our door in person. Wow. Upon further questions, even asking if he had the right house, it turned out that it was a refund from our medical aid to do with dental repairs.

I have a lot of Feng Shui books on our shelves but it has been a while since I have read them. This was clearly a reminder from somewhere to be a bit more active on the cleaning front. My two lessons learned:

  1. Feng Shui does work and quicker than we think.
  2. It is not a bad idea to send in receipts to a medical aid. You never know... Shui that Makes Sense - Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks Shui gegen das Gerümpel des Alltags: Richtig ausmisten. Gerümpelfrei bleiben