Sunday, 30 November 2014

My Precious....Mein Schatz!

Lord of the Rings and the art of conversation.

Thank Goodness I had a hint from Bob earlier because for some reason, the Lord of the Rings epic has never grabbed me. At the moment there is a trilogy rerun of it on TV and Bob has been calling me precious ( in a strange voice ) more than usual...

We were sitting with my parents and friends of theirs ( and ours ) waiting for the choir to sing. The hall was packed with what seemed like the whole village and one could call yesterday's Deutsch Schützen Advent's Bazaar a successful Squeeze!

As small as our community is, it can show the rest of the world a thing or two...most of the money raised gets put back into the village school. More books, more computers and so forth. Fabulous.

Bob was quietly sitting and perusing the hall and people. Being more of an introvert he naturally is not the initiator of any conversation....German or English for that matter. Often people forget that and naturally assume that Bob doesn't understand or maybe just can't speak German. No, he just isn't a talker.

Well, do I have news for you! Johanna, our parent's friend was sitting next to Bob ( across the table from me ) and somehow they started to talk about The Lord of the Rings. She ( 60 + ) is as huge a fan as Bob is. In almost fluent German, they were lobbing movie and book story lines back and forth.

" Mein Schatz..."
"" My precious..."
were among them. It was tres amusing to see both of their expressions while discussing and re-enacting the movie.

For a whole 10 minutes they were totally absorbed in Tolkien and need I say, all in German. I was so proud of Bob. Of course his German still has rough edges but he held a conversation from start to finish.

It just goes to show, that one of the main ingredients of any conversation is a topic that interests both parties. Whatever the language. Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set)


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Are Most Of Your All-Time Favourite Songs Also From Your Teenage Years?

Picturing our life through music.

Yesterday, Sasha Martinengo ( a South African radio D.J @F1sasha ) asked about our favourite opening line in songs. Great idea and it had my mind flitting from one to the next. The most amazing thing was that once I thought of a song, I recalled in vivid detail when I heard it and how I felt. Really great memories.

Anyway, I thought I would post a few of my favourite song titles and I wonder if you can also recall it's opening line or where you heard it first and if you liked it...

  1. Bonnie Tyler: It's a Heartache.
  2. Donna Summer: Last Dance.
  3. Bee Gees: Stayin' Alive.
  4. Abba: Take a Chance on me.
  5. Commodores: Three Times a Lady.
  6. Queen: We Will Rock You.
  7. Manfred Mann: Blinded By The Light.
  8. Supertramp: Give A Little Bit.
  9. Elton John & Kiki Dee: Don't Go Breaking My Heart.
  10. Chicago: If You Leave Me Now.
  11. Doobie Brothers: What A Fool Believes.
  12. Barry Manilow: Can't Smile Without You.
  13. Frank Sinatra: New York, New York.


Friday, 28 November 2014

The Christmas Cheer Turns Into Pressure Of Peers.

How immune are you?

The first clue that Christmas is imminent ( such as 2 months away ) is the sound of Christmas songs sung by Boney M blaring in all the shops. The first time it is cute but it tends to get a bit much. On the plus side is the fact that most of us can recite those words of each song verbatim!

Once we've grown up there isn't much we still need. I mean things that friends give us for Christmas. There should be an unwritten rule, that no one buys presents for anyone over 18.

Naturally spouses and children are excluded from said rule!!!!
Merely buying something because that's the norm is not good. Hands up who hasn't received presents from friends or family, which you have either never used or used them once and realized that they have only one use or are useless. I know that sounds harsh considering it was a gift, but rather donate money to a worthy cause.

Withstanding a wish list in its entirety from your kids takes courage and fortitude. How do you explain and teach your child that

" I have to have an Ipad / Iphone / Xbox / Grand Theft Auto 20 because all my friends have it!"
is not a reason to have something.

Look, I am not going to rehash that uniform chant of parents the world over:

In my day I walked to school barefoot for 10 km in the snow, so you should be grateful if you get a pair of shoes!
But really, don't you think that the kids of today have a tad bit too much stuff? Do they even play or use all of it? No, they look at it for a few moments or possibly days before it looses its lustre. Never mind that as parents you have properly done the old swipe of your credit card.
Oh yes, you will be paying off the presents you buy for your children much longer than your children will play or use them!

It is impossible not to buy presents this holiday season, but how about if for each new present you buy or receive, you give something away to charity?


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Chocolate, Do You Have A Secret Stash Too?

The habits of many...

Goodness, a mere hours after writing my blog piece about the gathering of women, there I was a part of one. This whole week our community ( well not everyone, as it is voluntary ) is busy making Christmas wreaths and decorations to sell on Saturday. It is a lot of work and I popped in for a few hours yesterday to see if I could help.

Where did I end up helping? In the back room with two other ladies and it took maybe 10 minutes before the subject of weight entered into our conversation. Granted, I was the culprit because I refused a biscuit.

It doesn't take us women long to scuttle along and cover the various thought avenues. Jumping from one subject to another is a piece of cake for us. Connecting the dots is like slipping into an old pair of comfortable slippers. Could it be due to our impressive skill of multi - tasking? I think so.

Anyway, back to the chocolate. It turns out that the love of it doesn't help with having it around. Loving chocolate equates to a case of

Once you see it, it might as well have not been there in the first place.
and often there is not much difference between us and a hoover to be honest!

You cannot say that we women aren't clever. Who is it that hides the chocolate as soon as we buy it? Oh yes, there's a conundrum. Now and again we even manage to hide it so well that we forget it's there. Who hasn't stumbled across an old slab of chocolate gathering dust somewhere?

Growing up, I vividly remember that on the occasions where my mum was out for the evening
( or even if she fell asleep in front of the TV ), a hunt for treats went on in our kitchen. Often it was successful but took a lot of determination. Crawling almost into the kitchen cabinet where the pots resided. Usually the big one in the back held the treats...

One of the ladies yesterday told us that she puts the chocolate on top of a cupboard so that it takes energy and determination to get each yummy piece. Oh, we all have our strategies it seems, what is yours?


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Can You Remember How Many Diets You Have Tried In You Life?

Have any of them helped?

In a way, the phrase Weight-loss Diet should really be named an oxymoron. Who ever looses weight with one? We should be a world wide nation of slender peeps. If not, why do we still fall for the next best one?

Someone said the other day that the minute you have a gathering of more than one woman, the subject of diets and loosing weight comes up.

That does reminds me of Shakespeare & Macbeth:

When shall we three meet again: In thunder, lightning or in rain?
and how we could adapt it to :
When shall we three meet again In thinness, thickness or in vain?

Off the top of my head, here are some diets I've either tried or heard about:

  • The cabbage soup diet. An exhaust-ing week of only cabbage!
  • The Banting diet. The new kid on the kitchen block. Let me know whether you can do that for ever...Surely walking passed a bakery and getting a whiff of freshly baked bread will make you weak in your knees?
  • Weight Watchers. Tried, lost & gained.
  • The alternative day diet: A few locals swear by it. You can eat everything you like on only alternate days. Otherwise nothing.
  • The Blood Type diet: Goodness, they allow one so little food on it ( albeit your blood group's favourite ) that anyone would have lost weight.
  • The Detox diet.
  • The Low Calorie diet. That should knock all the others out of the race.
  • The Atkins diet. The forefather of the Banting perhaps?
  • The Raw Food diet.
  • The Zone diet.

My list has only scratched the surface and it'll be nice to hear your about your diets.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Dignity: Stop & Think Before You Take It From The Elderly.

Or from anyone else...

Who taught us the fallacy that just because someone walks slowly, with a stoop, with a shuffle or not at all we have to talk as if they are mentally slow too? How dare we?

The exception doesn't allow us to tar all with the same brush. Far from it. Yesterday I had occasion to be inside an old age home. A very nice one to be honest. All the staff were cheerful and very friendly.

The home is light, airy with all the mod-cons needed. Satellite TV, Radio, smoker's room, card player's den of inequity and of course a couple of coffee drinking places. Not quite a Starbucks but then again, at that age the thought of paying a few Euros for a cup of coffee would be met with derision. So the comfortable coffee nooks are just the thing.

But what had me aghast, was that once an elderly person is checked in they are almost forgotten in the questioning. Relatives get asked about what they eat for breakfast, bathing habits, financial affairs etc...while the person concerned is right there. Please, award them the dignity of sharing their likes, dislikes and abilities themselves!

Imagine how you would feel, if you had to pack up your house into a few boxes and be moved into an old age home. Even a great and luxurious one takes a lot of adjusting.

At home you could just slip into your kitchen and make a snack or a meal. No more of that. Now there are strict meal schedules. Fair enough, someone else makes it for you but what is left for you to do? Sit and wait?

Most of us look forward to being retired and doing sweet all. Some cross off each day towards it, year after year. Others save like mad, to then be able to live it up during retirement. Yet, the reality of it is that after a while you get tired of doing nothing.

Most of the retired folks in our village are doing more chores than the non retired. Chopping wood, clearing trees, planting gardens, maintaining the house and constantly being exhaustively ( for us watching ) busy.

Being younger, we often want to help do all these things to save them the hard work. But, if we do that we merely are taking away a reason to get up each day. Their purpose.

Dignity comes in many shapes and forms. Someone who has lived so much longer than us, has to be revered, honored & respected. Give an elderly person the respect they deserve and see the light shine out of their eyes again...


Monday, 24 November 2014

Bob and I Discover Real Peanuts.

Do you even know what a peanut still in it's shell looks like?

Since my discovery on Saturday the two of us could be mistaken for a pair of monkeys. The supermarkets are running a special on peanuts. The hulled kind. 1 kg for Euro 3,99 and when you consider that shelled almonds sell for over 2 Euros for 200g, buying a bag of peanuts made sense.

When I got home and showed Bob, he mumbled something along the lines of

" Why didn't you get almonds? "
oh well at least I would have the whole packet to myself. With great foresight, I put a piece of paper over the keyboard and proceeded to shell peanuts and puzzle online.

It only took the first shelled peanut to make me a fan. Oh my gosh, how divine. Tasty and oh so moreish. Cracking the shell ( and I found I could do it with one hand ) made a bit of a crackling noise and sure as nuts, it attracted Bob. When I came back from a bathroom break, there he was with his own bowls of peanuts.

" These remind me of my childhood and how we ate them at the Durban harbour. If my Dad were here, he would finish the whole packet."

Someone should invent a bib for eating peanuts. Cracking that pliable shell makes it splatter into pieces and everywhere. Both of our chairs are surrounded by bits of shell. Bob is a bit more adapt than I am as it isn't his first time monkeying about with peanuts...

How often do we forget the pleasures that simple things hold in store. Of course you can buy shelled and salted peanuts, but you would miss out on all the fun and exercise of de-shelling a peanut. Shelling peanuts is so easy, a monkey could do it....

Bob has also discovered that making peanut butter is really easy and so a trip back to the store for a few more bags is inevitable!


As you can see, our stash has shrunk alarmingly...

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Wouldn't You Like To Live In Welsch Riesling Lane?

One of our villages gets new street names.

When I first heard it I thought it was a tad bit silly. There are only about 300 odd souls in the village. By the way, our Gemeinde ( district ) is made up of 5 villages which I tend to think of as boroughs of a 1100 odd souls...but, don't forget that as small as our Gemeinde is, it is littered with the Who's Who of Vintners.

A few weeks ago I had to run an errand at the Gemeinde house and as I went back to my car a TV Reporter and his cameraman stopped me.

" Do you mind if we ask you a question? "
Jeezalou, quelle blamage...sans make-up and in my oldest yet comfy togs. Talk about a rabbit caught in a headlight! What could I say other then, eh okay?

The reporter stuck a furry huge microphone close to my face and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the cameraman swing his camera onto his shoulder. It looked like the boom boxes of our youth!

" Your village is getting new street names.
What kind of names would you suggest? "
As it isn't everyday I get set upon by TV crews, I only had two thoughts in my head.
Don't make a fool of yourself and did I maybe put mascara on today?

Luckily the Gemeinde house is opposite one of those Who's Who / Wine Glitterati and there was only one answer I could think of...

" You know, since we live in wine mecca, I would name the streets Blaufränkisch / Welsch Riesling or Grüner Veltliner."
the reporter agreed wholeheartedly and switched off his microphone and thanked me for taking the time.

For all I know, they might have cut my tiny little interview but it was a touch of excitement for sure and I didn't stutter or falter much.

Last week, I was at our village shop and the guy in front of me asked me when I had started to become famous and on TV? I had forgotten about this interview but when he reminded me of it, I asked him whether he had seen me on TV...

" No, but I was driving passed the Gemeinde house and saw you surrounded by a TV crew! I just assumed they were there for you.

Ah, living in a small village, I just love it!


Saturday, 22 November 2014

My Cat Has Gone Potty.

Cats and dogs are the best comedians for sure.

Those rare moments of genuine laughter are quite often caused by our pets. Aren't those droll actions they take the best elixir?

Have you also noticed how much character our pets have? Only yesterday I was talking to a friend who was on her way to do the " Gassi Runde " ( German phrase for enticing your dog to transact business outside ) with her dog, and was again reminded of how fabulous animals are.

Just like men tend to get impatient when we women get talking, so my friend's dog turned around and gave me one of those glances...

" Oh, are you still talking? Get on with it, I want to go already! "
and believe me, I got the message.

As you know, we inherited a cat with our house. To put it more correctly, Bob and I moved into her house and are sharing her space! The privilege of cuddling her is sadly still denied to us but we live in hope to crack the nod, hear the purr or feel the warmth of a cuddly feline body doing the figure eight between our ankles.

Tigger's antics are priceless and Bob and I get so much enjoyment out of them and often a good laugh too. One of her most favourite treats is to watch me do anything to do with laundry. She has a laundry radar and pops her head out of her chambers as soon as she hears me shake out a wet shirt, sock or towel. Those are the rare moments when she comes closest to me. She is my most loyal spectator when I hang the washing on the line. Too cute.

Well this week she upped the ante. Who knows where she was ( somehow I suspect she collects morsels at several neighbours too ) but she missed the whole laundry affair. Well, not a problem for Tigger. Bob called me to see how cute and slightly dotty she was.

There she was sitting in the flower pot. Bob and I burst out laughing but I still ran to get the camera. Gosh, she must have been a model in her past life as she loves to pose. With camera in hand she lets me get rather close...
Now you get an idea why she perched and pretended to be a bit potty. She was so miffed that she had missed out on my hanging the laundry up, that she made sure to not miss me when I took it down. Of course it helped that this was also a sun kissed spot. Oh, our cat is the best!


Friday, 21 November 2014

Discovering Rechnitz On Foot.

An unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Normally, we only cruise through Rechnitz either on the way up the Geschriebenstein or on our way to Hungary. For some reason I have had it in mind to do a flyer run in Rechnitz.

For Bob's business as a Computer Technician, we have had the best results from handing out flyers. Even in today's age of Internet, an old fashioned paper flyer still comes out trumps and when you think about it, once your computer is striking, how on earth would you look up a computer technician online? Flyers are a no-brainer!

We set of mid morning and as it is a mere 15 km from Eisenberg, we were there within minutes. When we found a parking space on a side road, we both just saw the street ahead and thought we'd be finished sooner rather than later. We normally each take a side of the road and proceed to put flyers into post boxes.

Even that is rather fun as at times we get greeted by a barking dog, a cat that gives us the stare and of course by an array of interesting post boxes. Some have flaps that open inwards, some are hidden behind gates and others are ornate. Walking the pavements of any town or village is never boring.

Even Bob didn't realize how sprawling Rechnitz is. We eventually got separated by the lovely criss crossing of lanes in the suburbs. Yes, it is such a big village / town that it has the most amazing suburb. We handed out all of the flyers and will need to go back a few more times to cover the whole village.

Walking around there, some of the lanes had an old world charm and feel. It could have been a suburb in any major European city. We even discovered a lovely property that could be dead ringer for a Halloween special. All spooky and romantic.

The garden is so overgrown and untended that even without seeing the For Sale sign, we knew it was empty. The property wall is a very old stone one and by the size of the surrounding garden, we both deemed it to be a former country seat of someone well to do.

Of course we'd never leave Eisenberg but we both thought that should we crack the nod of the Lottery Gods, we might set up a weekend retreat in Rechnitz. Our own little haunted house...a house that we would be ideal for big family gatherings, especially around Halloween!

When we got home we had a look online. The property is selling for 370 000 Euros's. A touch & a half above us, I am afraid. Dear Lottery Gods, it's in your hands now...


Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Late Afternoon Walk Through The Weinberg.

Even the tail end of Autumn has stunning scenes in the Deutsch Schützen Weinberg.

Walking to a friend's house, I climbed the steps of the new look-out place and took this photo. Even as nature is preparing for Winter, it is a wonderful view. You can almost feel the crispness of the air.
As I went to visit someone and only walked home after 4pm, I was awarded with a glorious spectacle of a sunset. Too stunning. A mixture of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. Divine.
The sky was illuminated in the colours of a sunset. The birds were providing suitable background music and it formed one of those perfect moments.
As I was walking along the Weinberg, the angle changed and with it the colours of the sunset. A mauve background for the bareness of the tree branches. Nice.
There are two massive oaks along the way and they made a great frame...
Turning around from taking the ' tree shot ' I was met with this image. A flaming sky. Another day in our beautiful bit of Burgenland...


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Those Birds Of A Feather, Do Flock Together.

Twittering is happening everywhere in Eisenberg.

It makes a nice change to hear a chorus of tweeters serenading at all hours of the day. Morning, noon and night it seems. Even this late in the year our bird life is in full swing. The only irritating member of the chorus seems to live just across the road from our bedroom ...the woodpecker. How can a little bird like that can make such a drumming beat...?

Here are some of them. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. All sweetness indeed. It is not so easy to photograph birds as they scatter at the drop of a pin, never mind my pins.
The lone outsider wanted to hide behind non-existent leaves. Ha, easy work for me. Some of the birds have an innate sense of style and know how to pose to their best advantage.
Bob has decided to up the food ante over Winter. We have a bag of bird food and throw handfuls of it on our kitchen garden in the mornings. Gosh, it is a hive of activity. I came back from my walk and saw a lovely display of speed-diving for sunflower seeds.
The bird almost blends in, doesn't it? The center stage of feeding. A week into our feeding and the seeds barely touch the ground before they get picked up.

When they became aware of me, it took a while of standing still before they ventured out again. This little fellow reminds me so much of a masked superhero. His stance, look and glance. Isn't his plumage amazing in its detail?
Appropriately he had had enough of me and turned his other cheek. I got the message and left them alone.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Bob's Cooking Up A Storm.

A husband who cooks, is a treasure!

Honestly, when we first got together, Bob didn't venture much into the kitchen, except to do the dishes. Fair is fair, if one cooks the other one has to do the dishes. But ever so slowly he has and still is developing a taste for cooking.

It started on those occasions that I might have been ill. Like the darling he is, he made sure I had food. Once he phoned my Mum to ask her how to make my favourite soup. Brownie points all around! Of course, pizza is his forte and I make sure never to interfere as he has a tendency to say:

" Well, then you do it! "
Gosh, I treasure my time watching the telly while someone else is chopping & stirring in the, why did you never let on how nice it is to just sit, watch and have a glass of wine?

Anyway, it was a cold and rainy day yesterday and I had a craving for a hearty meaty soup. One like my Dad makes. With proper and fatty meat simmering for hours, so that the meat falls apart as soon as the spoon comes near it and where you can see more than the odd globule of fat floating about. Yummy.

Of course I am not so happy handling raw meat as I don't like the look of it. Cunningly I made a plan. Sitting on the couch, I dangled the proverbial carrot:

" Oh, Bob, do you remember the yummy meat soup my Dad made last time he was here? "
It didn't take more than that. Hook line & sinker! Bob took a minute to ponder and then took it a step further. He set off to the village shop and got two pieces of meat. Suitable for soup with some fat still on it. Nowadays, it is not so easy to find meat still with fat. This mad craze of everything being fat free, apart from not having much taste, is a nuisance.

When he came back from the shop, he was chopping away tout de suit, while I thanked my lucky stars that I have such a fabulous who likes to cook.

Of course, being fair, I did the dishes...


Monday, 17 November 2014

Having A Cuddle With My Deer Friend Ben!

A Sunday morning cuddle with Ben...

It's not often that we get to be close to these animals that we either see in movies or learn about in school. Deer are notoriously fast on their hooves and even seeing one close up is difficult.
Until I met Ben.

He was found on the road as a baby deer. The local Hunter, Stefan, was called to collect the baby deer. There was no sign of his mother and he would have starved had it not been for Stefan. You couldn't get a better carer. At times he even got up 5 times a night to feed is a link to my blog post about a really small Ben!

I hadn't walked past Ben's new home for a while and when I did yesterday morning, I saw that Stefan was feeding him. Of course I stopped to say Hello.

Gosh, I couldn't get over how much Ben has filled out. But a honey nonetheless. He came over to me and if I didn't know him as a deer, I would have mistaken him for a friendly puppy. He rubbed his body against me just like dogs do. I tried the trick of rubbing behind an ear and it worked like magic. Ben loved it.
He even posed for me but got so nosy as to poke the camera. An inquisitive soul, but as friendly and loving as can be.
Here is Stefan massaging his foreleg. Stefan just loves this deer and you can see that the deer loves Stefan.
Have you ever seen anything so cute? Earlier I did the same and Ben was snuggling up to me for more ear stroking.
Stefan and Ben. It was such a treat for me to be around them for a few minutes yesterday. Really nice.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bob And I Had A Taste Of Thailand.

A fabulous discovery.

Most of us rush off to have our cars serviced, our roofs fixed and the garden weeded...but how many of us actually tend to our most precious asset? Our bodies. Merely going to the doctor when the wheels have fallen off, is not what I mean. No, I mean being preemptive for health.

Bob's been doing hard manual labour rather often lately ( eight hours on the trot wheeling small stones around helping out a friend, as well as washing the dishes daily! ) and his childhood injury to his shoulder was sore. Really sore. Sore enough that he jumped at the chance to have a massage. My back is always up to tricks so to have it seen to now and then is also a must.

Last week, I heard from two different sources about this great place just down the road in Hungary. In fact, when my friend told me about this place she was so ecstatic about it, that my curiosity was awakened. When she whipped out a pamphlet from the place and gave it to me, Bob's and my fate was sealed.

Even before setting a foot into their business, I knew they were good. Opening times until 8 pm six days a week...perfect. We had been lucky to get appointments at 5.30 pm yesterday. Yoohoo, a nice treat for the weekend.

Bob is still rather a novice when it comes to having massages so I ( just for a minute ) stepped into his mother's role and told him:

" Bob, you'll have to wear your new underpants and not the loose boxers either! "
well, I was only 90 % in his Mum's footsteps, as I didn't say clean undies!!!

I don't think I ever told you about the very first time Bob had a massage. Funnily enough it was while we were here on holiday four years ago. My parents had whisked us to a day spa in Hungary ( they were pulling out all the stops to show us how fabulous this area is and we knew already before all the treats! ) and that's where Bob went off to his cubicle, masseuse and...

...When I had finished my massage and went to see how Bob's had been, he bashfully told me about his traumatic experience. Bear in mind that Bob was new to the etiquette of massages.
" It was all great and she was massaging my back when suddenly she pulled my undies way down past my bum to massage the bottom. Biggi, I was so terrified that I would have to turn over and she would see...luckily she didn't! "
Bob, remembering this experience had donned new & fashionable underwear. As did I. Well, both of us needn't have bothered. The place we went to is so professional, that each of us got a pair of wide linen yoga pants to put on.

The room was partioned with curtains and each cubicle had a mattrass on the floor. Comfortable. When the massage started, the lights dimmed to a very pleasant dark setting. No bits of cellulite would ever be noticed. Honestly, it is a much better feeling than being exposed under those bright search lights. For me at least.

My massage was out of this world. A proper Thai massage. My masseuse found all my weak points and worked on them. This hour of heaven was over far too quickly. What was great too, was that there wasn't a lot of talking. Isn't it annoying when you are lying there having a precious hour of a massage and needing to engage in a conversation?

The staff there are extremely nice. Polite, smiling and happy to have had you as a customer. Doesn't happen that often nowadays, does it?

Here is a link to their website.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Not As Courageous As I Thought...

An afternoon's commute through the forest & vineyards.

By five o'clock each afternoon it is very dark already and feels more like the middle of the night. Time change and Winter's doing. Yesterday afternoon I went to a friend's house and knew that it would be dark when I would return home.

Bob was using the car and so I had walked there. It is just up ahead on the neighbouring Weinberg. Well, Bob said it only takes him 10 minutes to reach her house and so I took his word for it. Well....!

Like a good girl scout, I left the house prepared although with only those 10 minutes to spare. Just for walking at dusk, dawn or in between, I have a warning vest. A spare one from the car. Very effective as I light up like a Christmas tree when caught in headlights, but not so flattering.

Worn over a bulky winter jacket, it makes me look like a Michelin woman. But, when you are on the far far side of 30, comfort and safety trumps looks.

Getting to my friends house took me an extra 10 minutes and for the life of me I couldn't think how Bob could get there so fast! Of course when I asked him later, I got the answer:

" Eh, you know that big tree where the hunter's lookout is? At that tree turn left into the vineyard and go across it. You will come out directly behind her house."
...a bit late for that, Bob!

Anyway, when I was leaving my friend's house, she offered to take me home, but I told her that I was prepared and wanted to walk home. Not too far anyway. She knows that I walk everywhere so she accepted it. All well and good. That is until I stepped outside.

Goodness, it was dark. I couldn't even see my hand in front of me. About a hundred meters on, my sight did adjust to the darkness, but knowing that I would have to walk near and through the forest, was my undoing.

Wild pigs were sure to feed at that time and I would be an easy spotted supper treat while wearing my neon vest... Eh, no thank you indeed.

Now I know why having a cellphone with me was a good idea.

" Bob, please can you fetch me? "
Like the honey he is, he arrived soon enough and luckily with the aid of my yellow vest, he couldn't miss me...


Friday, 14 November 2014

Three Cheers For Plain Old Processed Cheese!

the current mouse saga seems to have paused.

These last few blog posts have seen me go into mouse-hysterics, mouse overdrive and perhaps a slight bit of mouse melodrama. A little thing like a mouse...

Those of you who have had the pleasure and excitement of a mouse in the house will have performed their own bit of mouse drama and fully understand my hysterics...and have maybe even surpassed it!

Gosh, that phrase mouse in the house always reminds me of that episode of Friends ( #3/13 ), where Gunther famously says to Phoebie's boyfriend:

" Hey buddy, this is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house."

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

Yesterday morning was the zenith of our mouse saga. Washing the dishes ( still stamping my feet every now and then! ), I kept on hearing our mouse guest nagging away behind the kitchen counter. The traps laden with peanut butter where untouched, so I thought that maybe I should dangle a plain bit of process cheese over it.

Thought turned into action and when I came back from a trip to the bathroom, lo and behold, the cheese had gone! Ha, this cheese was the winner. The tempter of mice! Nothing fancy but a processed cheese slice. Bob was out on an errand, so I re-did another trap, hoping for capture.

I had barely turned around and our mouse had pulled the cheese from the trap. An un-sprung trap! Well, there was only one thing to do. Wait for Bob.

When I told him how the mouse liked this cheese, he redid the trap a la Bob, but muttered that the mouse was full after pulling off two lots of my cheese bits.

One doesn't like to boast about it, but when 5 minutes later the loud snap of the trap reverberated around our kitchen, we were relieved. Our mouse guest was no more. A relief, even though we set up patrols in case there where far so good.

To be honest, we both felt bad for a while, but the alternative of having a rodent put its stamp on all your things ( edible or not ) is worse.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Mouse = 1...Mouseketeers = 0 !

Our house has turned into Mouse-catraz.

One little bit of a mouse is tyrannizing us in his small and not so subtle ways. Can you believe that the other night, the last bastion of my insomnia has been taken?

My pull out couch in the lounge is the last resort of sleeplessness. A place to at least toss and turn in front of insipid late night TV programs. All I can say, is " Thank God " I put on the light when I yet again migrated from our bedroom to the lounge.

At first I thought I was hallucinating but on taking a further look, I recognized it for what it was! Good grief, there at the bottom of my other bed were a few mouse droppings. Now I knew without a doubt that, yes, a mouse does climb up on beds. I tell you, the rest of the night I slept sitting up on the other couch, lights ablaze and everything off the ground.

When I did find that pesky little fellow's droppings, I saw red and with a seething determination, even at one in the morning, I changed all the traps.

Did I tell you that neither ham, salami nor cheese tickle our mouse's fancy? I took Lorraine's advice and used peanut butter on a few of the traps. Yes, there are so many traps about, that each morning I have to warn Bob to tread carefully. Even though we both hope to hear that loud clap of a trap closing, I don't want it to be around Bob's toes...

Two days on, and the mouse has evaded all our tricks and traps. Even a friend down the road has given me a mousetrap that she swears by along with a small helping of Camembert. She thought our mouse might be a posh one with posh tastes...gosh, our mouse is posher than Camembert! What next to tempt him with? Stilton?

To you readers, it must sound silly. A small little mouse doing so much harm? Bob and I are wary of going to sleep. Bob will at odd moments during the night utter :

"That #%&@ mouse has wee'd again! yuck what an awful smell. "
Even as I am writing this, the mouse is going berserk somewhere behind me in the kitchen. Under or behind the cupboards. This morning I saw it's head peaking out but alas, I was too slow.

Getting a cat would be the answer, but by the time this kitten is big, the mouse will have proliferated with a thousand little mice...

Here are a few rules that we adhere to in our Mouse - catraz:

  • We walk with loud stepping noises into any room.
  • Sitting at our kitchen table writing my blog, I continuously shift my feet, just in case it decides to run over them.
  • All food items are locked up in high glass fronted cupboard or put into containers.
  • Nothing can be left on the floor. Shoes have to be elevated.
  • Sleep is only achieved with one eye open!

Well, wish us luck on our mouse hunt...


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Quotes To Me, Are Like Footprints Of History.

Some quotes I like, or find amusing but always interesting.

" Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. "
Michelangelo ( 1475-1564 )
" A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself. "
Arthur Miller ( Observer 1961 )
" Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. " William Morris ( 1834-1896 ) Hopes and Fears of Art.
" I was looking for a job, and then I found a job /
And heaven knows I'm miserable now. "

Morrissey ' Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now ' 1984
" I get no kick from champagne..."
Cole Porter ' I Get A Kick Out of You ' 1934
" From a mere nothing springs a mighty tale. "
Sextus Propertius ( c. 47-15 BC. ) Elegies
" Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might have been. "
Arthur Ransome ( 1884-1967 ) We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea 1937
" Always design a thing by considering it in its larger context-
a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment,
an environment in a city plan. "

Eero Saarinen ( 1910-1961 ) Time July 1956
" Be assured that nothing is more pleasing than beauty,
but nothing is shorter-lived. "

Suetonius ( c. AD 69-140 ) Domitianus


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Red Beauty, A Yellow Rose & A Sunny Day In Eisenberg.

A lovely day, six weeks before Christmas.

When I saw this red beauty towards the end of my Sunday walk, I couldn't believe it. So vibrant, so proud, so prominent. Against the backdrop of its green neighbour, this tree's colours jump out the photo. This tree is opposite the Eisenberg Vinotheque. Co-incidence or not?
Same tree, different angle...still stunning in its simplicity. Yet, the red is so world class.
A yellow rose. Not seen as often, as most like to have the red and pink roses. This rose shrub blends in perfectly with the Autumn coloured vines in the background. This rose is in the Buschenschank garden of Kopfensteiner Wine Estate. Well worth a visit....they have a red wine, that was crowned one of the best in Austria 2014.

The most breathtaking white rose, stunningly positioned in front of the Eisenberg vineyards ( you can see the look-out platform in the background ) is also a resident in Kopfensteiner's garden. Beautiful.

This hedge caught my eye as I walked passed it. How does nature achieve such vibrant and eye catching colours? As per usual I took rather a lot of photos in order to get a good one...As I was clicking away, I heard a delicate cough out of an open window. The owner of this hedge made himself known, and I almost ran away...

The vineyard slide....imagine taking a slide down that steep slope! The village seen through the fog is Eisenberg Weinberg.

The vines in this area produce the famous Blaufränkisch grapes, grapes that make the wine which puts any wine lover into a state of euphoria.

Can you see how steep the vineyards are? Imagine picking grapes or even tending to them all year round...far from easy.
Half way up the hill are two heavy vehicles. Would you rather drive the top or bottom one? Just imagine the feeling in either of them. No, not for me!


Monday, 10 November 2014

Walking About With A Slice Of Salami Dangling Precariously Between My Fingers.

All in a day's work...

In a way I should be grateful that no buzzards or some such made a grab for that one slice of salami between my fingers. Now that would be a thrilling bit of adventure indeed.

But, this whole salami saga started on Saturday night. Even in mouse circles, a Saturday night seems to be the night to live it up. Good grief, most of the night our little lodger, the mouse, kept making loud noises in the kitchen. Many a times I jumped up to see and encountered the ire of Bob. He was snoozing ( and snoring so loudly that no mouse would ever come near ) on the couch and resented being woken by my loudly stomping about.

Who would want to step on a mouse? Of course I needed to make a noise while walking over to the kitchen. But what put me in a tizz, is when I heard a noise underneath me, somewhere in my pull out couch. Oh, believe me, I slept the night somewhere else ( and as they say with one eye open ) and promised myself to get a mousetrap tout de suite from Kainz.

My Sunday route is a different one because of our fresh bread roll habit. But I thought I would kill two proverbial birds with one stone. There is a magnificent autumn leaved tree just before one gets to Eisenberg and when we drove passed it on Saturday it looked so breathtakingly divine that I wanted to take a photo of it. Naturally by the time I got there Sunday morning, the memory was nicer than the reality.

Kainz, our tearoom, is open on Sundays and sells those fresh bread rolls. As it is only about 800 meters from our house, I looped my walk to end it in that direction. As you can imagine, the fresh bread rolls tempt a lot of villagers out on a Sunday. There is only a finite number of rolls to be had.

Rolls in a bag, I went to the mouse section ( oh yes, there is one ) and chose the simple traps. Bread rolls in one hand an mouse trap in the other...

Frau Kainz, could you slice me just one slice of salami please? "
when she looked at me a little strangely, I held up the mouse traps and she understood and disappeared to the back, to slice the salami for me.

In the meantime, rather a lively and entertaining conversation in regards to catching a mouse ensued with one of the other customer...until Frau Kainz came back with a slice of salami. Not wrapped at all.

Having paid already and knowing said slice was on the house, I didn't want to be forward and ask for a bag. I took that oily piece of salami and held it in my fingers.

Those of you who live in our area, know that when you don't want to be seen, everyone sees you! Law of village living.

Even though the way home from Kainz has a few dogs and cats living along the route, none saw fit to grabbing my slice of salami. Of course, fast forward to this morning and it seems that our mouse is also not partial to this salami. Either the mouse left for tastier pastures or it was so exhausted from Saturday night's rumblings, that it slept off all its excesses...

Note to myself: next time I go to get a treat for our mouse, take a bag of sorts...


Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Leafy Sunday!

With all the flowers we forget about the leaves it seems.

This vibrant red leaf is the Raison D' Étre of our area.

Eisenberg, Deutsch Schützen and the mouthwatering wines we produce. A taste sensation, that the rest of the world is slowly waking up to.

If you are a member of the slow-food-movement, it might be a good idea to move here. A handful of world acclaimed vintners are within walking distance. No carbon emissions!

An artist couldn't have placed these few leaves better on their perch. The rest of their compatriots have given up and bowed to the wind, but these few leaves are making sure the vine is eye catching.
The red of the leaves, the hearty brown of the turned soil mingled with a spot of green field in the background make it lovely to behold.
The forest and it's leaves need no introduction. They are simply nice. Can you remember how we used to collect leaves and press them in a book when we were children?
Dry it out, in a way. A few leaves ended up glued to a page or were used as outlines to draw our pre-school pictures... Memories indeed.
This happy yellow hued shrub is standing guard at the edge of Eisenberg. A nice welcome.
These leaves are more aptly named blades, I suppose, but seeing the drops of rain on the individual blades is another display of nature and its brilliance.
This last picture reminds me of a song sheet. The leaves seem to be holding a place. Maybe D-minor, D-major but definitely D-vine...


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Two Mouse-Keteers In Eisenberg.

One braver than the other...or not?

When one lives in the country, it is proper etiquette to keep animals. Cats, dogs, cows, horses, pigs and chickens create a lot of choice. Of course Bob and I have to go for something else. A mouse has taken up residence again in our home. Yes, we do have a cat who we ironically call Tigger, but as we overfeed her ( spoil her rotten ), she doesn't quite see the point of hunting for a mere mouse. No, that job is left for us...the mouse-keteers!

Those who have been ' blessed ' by a mouse, will know. Before you ever get to spot it, you smell it. For some reason they are worse than dogs. Marking their territory seems second nature and wherever they scurry they eh, mark. Good grief, every room ( even the toilet ) has been ticked off by the mouse.

It is a funny smell. Once you've smelled it you never fail to recognize it again. At first I blamed poor Bob and his dirty socks and shoes lying about. Oops, sorry Bob. A sort of sickly and acrid aroma...the mouse, not Bob's shoes!

Anyway, our mouse is faster than a speeding bullet and we only get to see a flash now and again. He ( somehow it seems fit to assume it is a he, considering all the marking ) is very small and even if he tried he couldn't hurt us. But, the thought of him jumping on the couch while I am sleeping is frankly

" Yeewh "

The other day he cornered himself behind our paper recycling basket. From a long distance away, I poked the the basket every so carefully with a broom and nearly had a heart attack when I saw how high the mouse jumped. High enough to jump on a couch.

Bob ( mouse-keteer #1 ) keeps on laughing at me and throwing one liners at random:

" A mouse is more scared of you than you are of it "
" Don't be such a ninny. It's only a mouse!
and just for those manly statements, I, mouse-keteer #2, holler like mad when there is a mouse sighting. The other day Bob had to reduce his time on Le Throne to catch the mouse. No such luck. The mouse has spunk and evades all our attempts to catch him. Even ham left dangling temptingly over a trap is ignored. Gosh, that little fellow has pet potential.

As soon as Bob and I are watching TV in the lounge, all snug on the couches, we hear our mouse go mad in the kitchen. How such a small thing can create such noise is simply amazing. Those little teeth must have a microphone built in. All you can hear over the sound from the TV is a constant gnawing.

Bob, as brave as he sounded earlier, makes sure that his feet aren't touching the floor in case the mouse wants to join us in front of the TV...and of course he asks me to go and see what our mouse is doing in the kitchen!

Life, is never boring in Eisenberg...


Friday, 7 November 2014

Bob & I Have A New Project: Project Pigsty!

A real outside one!!!

Just like most mothers, mine might think I am talking about our house. Honestly, does anybody ever live up to their mum's idea of a tidy household! But no, Mum you can rest assured, I am talking about our real pigsty. The one outside

Maybe I should rephrase it and call it a pig-pen because that is what it once might have been. Our homestead has lots of outbuildings ( even an outhouse ) that are in need of lots of T.L.C.

The first year after we moved here, we did fix up our house. Not just the odd paint and clean, but digging up floors and taking plaster of the walls and then putting it all back again. Might I add that Bob and I did it by hand. Digging up the floor in each room up to 70 cm is hardly a in a way that is our excuse for being idle with the outbuildings for some time. Builder's fatigue!

But now we have the pig pen in our sights. All this talk of pets ( small and large ) has us at least making room. Did I mention that for the last few days we have had a mouse in the house. A fast little thing. When I told my mum, she quick as a button said:

" Well, instead of having a cow, you can have a mouse as a pet! "
and promptly had a big chuckle.

The entrance to our pig sty. It has been a storage area for things we needed to throw away. Out of sight, out of mind. Here in Austria one can't just throw anything into the bin. No, recycling is a law. These windows can either be thrown away like this, but then you pay a fee per glass pane, or you take out the glass and only throw away the wooden frames.
Bob did the smashing and afterwards he told me that it was quite a stress reliever to bash in the window.
Some of the windows were double glazed and even with the big hammer, Bob struggled for a few moments to break them, but you can see how he enjoyed his work!
Our new windows are triple glazed and keep cold, noise & intruders out.
Spider webs everywhere. At one stage Bob's back was covered in them. As you can see, in Europe / Austria we do the work ourselves. It always seems easier to ask somebody else to do your work and once you start doing stuff yourself, you realize how hard the work was that you had asked others to do!
This is a photo from last year and oh, yet again Bob seems to be the only one working...but don't forget, someone has to now and then take a photo. Otherwise we worked together as a team. The entrance to the real pig sty is the striped door on the right of the picture.
This photo is more a reminder to myself that we have done a huge amount of work. Most of the building rubble, earth and wood lying about, has been dug up one shovel at a time by Bob & I.
" Bob, the two of us have done alright..."


Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Rainy Thursday Needs Some Cheerful Photos.

Some late Autumn reflections from Burgenland.

Oh, I know that the purple beauty is out of focus, but herein lies its charm for me. This cosmos
( Lorraine, I hope I am correct ) knows where to stretch and show off. The interwoven green blades make the cosmos's purple pop out of the picture.

Wouldn't you love to also go for walks along this forest? My hope is that maybe, possibly and hopefully some local peeps will start to go for walks too. It seems such a waste to not be a part of the stage show nature puts on throughout the year.

No words apart from: " Awesome & soothing " are needed.

This bed of foliage ( still attached to the branches ) makes one think of hot chocolate, a good book and sitting in a comfortable chair enjoying both.

A typical meadow scene! Autumn is hanging on with great bravado and even though a few of the buds have drooped, the impact is still fantastic.

The pond view is nice. This is right at the start of my walk and seeing the perfection of the reflection is astonishing most days.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Good Better Butter.

It's all in the fine print of course.

My musings yesterday about having a cow ( no, not a hissy-fit but a real one ) has taken a few interesting turns. Bob is still so against it as he secretly does fear that I might embarrass him by taking our cow for a walk...As if?

By the way, researching into the inns and outs of keeping a little darling, I stumbled across a Lady in Wyoming- The Daily Coyote who keeps several cows. Well a bull, a cow and a ( sorry guys ) neutered bull. She says they are the best pets out. Intelligent and loyal. Anyway, who knows what the future holds...

One of the bonuses of having livestock is that they produce food. Milk in the case of a cow. Milk makes butter, cheese and joghurt. Nice.

Depending on how it is made, a pound of butter takes a lot of milk to produce. But somehow the price doesn't reflect it. Butter starting at 1,30 euros at the discounters. Ah, there's the rub. Do we know where the cheap butter comes from and how it is made?

When the budget is tight, those questions are better left unanswered. But if there isn't a problem in that department, it might be worth our while to dig a bit deeper into our wallet and buy organic butter. Yes, I hear you smirking lot...

" Do you really believe they put organic milk into it? How would you know? "
We all know the rule of what you put in, you get the case of butter, if non-organic milk is used, we indirectly get the benefit of the various foods that the cow ate. Did the cow eat luscious grass on the fields or chemically enhanced feed? Did the cow get hormones to grow faster and produce more milk? How about antibiotics while we're at it?

All of us are inundated with gazillions of chemicals in our food, in our air and in our clothes. I don't know about you, but I feel that even one less chemical my body has to deal with, is a win. Easing the burden, so to say.

Maybe when it says organic on the label, it isn't so, but I'd rather chance it...let's not forget how much better organic tastes!


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Where Have All The Cows Gone?

Have you also noticed that there are not too many cows about?

It struck me yesterday morning. There I was, walking among the pristine, beautiful and abundant grass covered meadows and guess what, there were no cows to be seen. My goodness, this should be bovine central.

Cows here, would have it made. This would be the equivalent of moving to the best bovine neigbourhood. Lush meadows as far as the eye can see, not too many irritating concrete houses about and a mild climate to boot.

From what the older villagers tell me, everyone used to keep a few cows. Well, not everyone as having livestock was expensive and during the war years people really battled. But, if you had a cow or two, a few pigs and hens, you were able to feed your family during those awful lean years.

In fact, if you were lucky enough to be a farmer it meant you could survive. City life didn't ensure that you had food on your plate and a lot of children were sent to family in the country during the war.

Cows provide us with milk and thus the ability to make butter and cheese. Of course we all know the story of how children nowadays seem to think that milk is made at the supermarket. Imagine the answers to the question of where cheese and butter are made!

Honestly, now that I think of it, there are no cows in our village. Sure, further out one can see a herd or two but not as often as when we were young. Is there anything nicer then seeing a herd of cows in a meadow? When I was a young lass ( back in the last century ) trips to the country were highly prized. Being able to stand next to the fence and mooo-ing a cow to come towards you was just so special.

Special and frightening at the same time. When you are small and a big cow stands in front of you, it takes a lot of willpower and guts not to run away. But once that big tongue slobbers your hand, all is well. Cows love to be stroked, don't they? Oh, nice memories.

Why, are there so few cows about? Money of course, or rather the lack of it perhaps. Dairy farmers don't get paid enough for the milk they produce. This culture of making more and more profit for shareholders has most of us forgetting the amount of hard work that goes into producing a liter of milk, or anything else for that matter.

We can buy it at the supermarkets for give or take one Euro. How much of this do you think that the farmer gets? Remember, a dairy farmer has to:

  • ...feed his cows. Use his fields for grazing instead of planting. Buy in food in winter.
  • ...milk his cows.
  • ...always be at home. Not many holidays for the farmers.
  • ...has to pay the vet.
  • ...has to pay a third party to deliver the milk.

Milk should be more realistically priced and even if it cost more, we as consumers would appreciate it more and not waste so much of it. Once the farmer gets more money per liter of milk produced ( enough money to make a good living ), more cows might be prancing around in the meadows. No, no one wants a battery kept cow.

Living in the country, we could go back to the olden days and buy milk straight from the farmers. Once that would happen, the price should drop because there would be no middle man then!

Walking about yesterday morning, I thought to myself how nice it would be if Bob and I could keep a cow at our house. Gosh, ours is an old farmhouse, so space is not the issue. Feeding and vet bills might cause a problem though.

But still, wouldn't it be nice if we could get a calf almost from birth and rear it. I could take it with me on my walks and when it is older, we would have milk and butter...

When I told Bob my string of thoughts as I got home, he blanched instantly, because all he could see in front of him was how people would look at his wife...the one taking a cow for a walk!


Monday, 3 November 2014

Forests, Fields & The Eternal Rose Yield Great Images.

Autumn scenes needn't always be orange in hue.

Granted, this beautiful white rose is neither in the forest nor in a field. Yet, this picture is so magnetic to me.
A perfect bird landing in a backyard. A backyard in Eisenberg...
A stately tree dressed in greens. Even in the morning fog it stands out.
The road between...this forest lane separates Eisenberg from Deutsch Schützen! Oh, there is a clear distinction and sometimes a small bit of rivalry between the villages.
Autumn colours inside the forest do differ from the vibrant reds and oranges of the vines. Lack of sunlight perhaps?
Amazingly, when I turned and faced the other side of the lane, this green beauty was right there. Vibrancy is all over it. A perfect green and a green that cheers one up.
I know, this is a picture of a mound of dirt. A turned field, yet I love seeing these large grooves in the fields. This earth equates abundance. This is where our food grows. I love seeing these tossed fields throughout the seasons.