Sunday, 31 August 2014

Seen & Heard This Week Around The Village #2

More seen than heard.

Coming back from a client, I parked the chariot gaily in the driveway in order to open the gate. As I set my second foot on the ground my eyes were drawn to a movement in front of me. I looked down and saw a big mouse or a medium sized rat on the floor, jumping a bit too close to me. In fact it felt as if it was gunning it for me! For a moment I froze but then I opted for the only possible course of action...I screamed like mad. Luckily Bob heard me, rushed out and eventually understood why I refused to drive the car in. Oh, I was heard in the village! So much for the heard part...

Back to the seen part!

These lovely horses have such character and often when I walk passed them I do a bit of
" hiii-haaa " complete with tongue clicking. A classic expression right there.
" Look, there is the crazy lady. "
The three amigos...or as they say in German:
Die 3 Lausbuben!
From big to tiny. This colourful butterfly started to clam up as soon as he saw the camera. But you can still see his autumn inspired colouring.
The street around the corner from our house. Somehow I never tire of this view. It is beautiful in summer, winter or in between.
The flowers were my object but I managed to get a perfect photo of an original Burgenland farm house. I love these type of houses because they have oodles of character. Modern houses just pale in comparison.
Beholding flowers, especially those vibrant ones, causes an instant lift to our feelings. Doesn't this sweep the doldrums away?
Guess who strayed into this shot? Oh yes, the chickens from last week. Amazing how much bigger and bolder they are a week on...Clearly this is their neighbourhood.
When I saw this photo, I laughed. Look at the one at the back, inspecting the ditch? I know one shouldn't show a pair of white bloomers like this, but this chick's bottom in the air is rather funny.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together In Eisenberg.

Gathering for the long trip home or rather a long vacation.

The lone ranger making a statement. The weather is so glorious at the moment, that it must take quite an effort to plan this long and treacherous journey South.
Putting the wire into context. Seeing so many birds in various stages of landing, taking-off or parking is amazing. Especially against the blue backdrop of our local Burgenland sky. Catching birds with one click!
A wing here and a leg there....a true balancing act!
I wonder what those tweets are about?
" Stay on our flight path and do as I tweet! "
" Okey Dokey, I am off. See you in South Africa. Don't land at Rick's Cafe as Sam will just play it again for you. "
" Look kid, stay with me. I'll take you under my wing..."
Off they go to warmer climes. Excitement and adventure ahead for the birds!


Friday, 29 August 2014

A Gaggle Of Geese, A Tractor & A Threatening Cloud.

Country living at its best.

These geese and their gaggle are a constant companion on the last part of my walk. The bigger they get, the more noise they make. Gosh, at times you can hear them arguing among themselves a few hundred meters away. There are the leaders and the followers in the flock of geese.
This could be a goose fight. The two opponents in the middle and the crowd gaggling them along....
" Don't be a chicken, go on and peck him! "
I know that to you it may be just a boring tractor plowing the field. But to me, it has many aspects: the chortling of a tractor engine is soothing, seeing the field change colour where he has plowed is almost hypnotic and of course it means a profitable season for our local economy.
The minute I can afford it, I am going to sign up for tractor driving lessons. Kind of the extreme version. I want to be able to reverse a tractor & trailer into a driveway, looking as cool as the local farmers do. A lot of the local men, who work in Vienna during the week, come home on weekends and hop on a tractor, looking like they were born into the saddle. Rather attractive, I dare say!
A storm is threatening. The sky started clouding over; almost looking ominous. The wind changed pitch and strength enough to rattle windows and some chimneys.
Even with the promise of a storm, the plains look amazing. I was on my way to Bildein and was so mesmerized that I pulled over at the side of the road and took these photos.
I hope you have enjoyed them...


Thursday, 28 August 2014

2014 Military World Championship In Our Village!

As small as we are, we do pack a punch.

As you know, I have seen the tents up and the men clad in browns perusing our village & surrounds but I had no idea until yesterday of the magnitude of it all. Wow, what an International event. A Military World Orienteering Championship is nothing to be sneezed at.

Being Military, they didn't advertise this event to all and sundry ( or someone just forgot to do so ). Fair enough, one can imagine a bit of cloak & dagger stuff in regards to Military events. Scrolling through my newsfeed on FaceBook yesterday morning, I stumbled across some pictures posted by a friend in the village. Pictures of her surrrounded by different military guys. Oh, and she kind of asked everyone to come and spectate. Oooh, my first social media invite. Almost like the rave parties the tweenies go to...

She said that from 10 am, we could spectate. Bob was busy at a client and I thought that it would be rather bad form if I didn't go and show my face there! One does what one can...Oh, the hardship. Anyway, just after ten I set off on foot. It is about a 20 minute walk and the weather was just perfect for ambling through the forest.

When I got to the event, I noticed that not many villagers were there. Rather embarrassing to be the only one but I walk into the arena. When I asked one of the sentries ( young chaps in uniform ) if I was allowed to spectate, he replied:

" Oh yes, Mam...."
Being called Mam, is like getting a bucket of cold water thrown over your head. Don't we all feel like we are still in our 20's ? Ouch, young man, that hurt.

The helicopter parked on the edge. When I started to take pictures, I wasn't so sure that it was allowed. The whole time I took aim, I wondered whether someone would tell me to stop...
The finish line. These men and women had just run a 14 km orienteering course through the forest and they still looked rather fit at the end. I was a bit sad to see that hardly anyone clapped and cheered them over the finish line. The announcer merely mentioned country and position. Nothing like the Comrades Marathon.
Behind where I was standing, a fleet of dark green cars lined up from one end to the other. Rather impressive and I so wanted to get the photo, but the drivers were standing guard. I took this frame instead. What a strange looking vehicle?
The different nations were warming up. Nice to see everyone get along.
The Danish team.
As I was leaving, this was to good to pass up. A perfect summary of the event. The fabulous Eisenberg Vinotek and the military calling card parked in front.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Drive, A Hug & 3 Salzstangerl...

A gentle Tuesday.

My first port of call was to take a nice lady to the local doctor at 8 a.m and I made it to her house just in time. She lives at the bottom of a steep vineyard and once I drive up her drive-way, I usually do an 3-point ( in winter it might be a 10-point ) turn to park facing the right way using her lawn, which can be muddy at times. Hair raising for me but I try to make her walk to the car as easy as possible.

To my pleasant surprise, her friend was there as well. The three of us set off to the doctor's rooms and beyond! By now the villagers know that there is a good chance that I am ferrying elderly ladies about and I get loads of cheerful waves. In one part of our village, the Army has put up a few huge brown field tents and to be honest, wherever you go there is a man clad in browns about. A temporary training camp of sorts.

On Monday I happened to be at Aloisia's to buy a few erm, cakes. Walking up to the shop, I spotted three big tables full of men in browns. Men in browns having a slice of her delicious cake & cup of coffee and all looking my way. Oh my, that was embarrassing. Imagine, knowing 10 steps ahead that a whole bunch of men in uniform are watching you walk passed? My internal mantra sounded something like:

don't trip, don't stare, look nonchalant, don't trip, don't stare, look nonchalant

Driving passed this temporary field camp yesterday morning with my two ladies, I casually mentioned that even though I am very happily married, I love to see men in uniform. To which I got a giggle and a few nods of agreement ( it seems that most gals love seeing a man in uniform ).

Anyway, after the doctor's we drove to the shops. Yes shops, because we stopped at two different ones, one in each village. When you have a car and the ability to shop for groceries wherever and whenever you want, you forget that for some it isn't so. Most of the ladies I take places, don't shop at the drop of a hat like we do, but wait until a family member does or phone in an order. A simple trip to the local village shop turns into a huge event. Knowing this, I always tell them to take their time, no rush...

When we drove home after the last shopping pit-stop, we of course drove passed the army camp once more and we all had a jolly good look. It did help that I almost idled the car in that stretch of the road. Once I dropped everyone off at their house, I was feeling super ( when you help someone else you can't feel anything else but great ) and I was the owner of 3 homemade Salzstangerl. As you can imagine, when I got home and showed Bob, my ownership was taken away from me before I could explain where I got them from...

Oh, I nearly forgot. I also got a hug to say Thank You...Isn't life grand?


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Bench & A Half Man!

A bit of fun in the garden...

Good grief, the first time I saw it, I pictured myself in a Miss Marple mystery. A proverbial village who-done-it. It gave me quite a turn to be honest. Who would expect it after all. Frankly, there should be a warning sign for the faint of heart or the pace maker brigade.

It is rather an eye catcher and hats off to our First Lady Of Deutsch-Schützen, who was the first
( at least I think so ) to cut a man to size. I must say, she has got style and pizzaz enough to carry it off and in such plain sight as well. Small villages lend themselves to beautiful gardens. At least the front and visible part of it. Everyone knows who lives where and who does what...or not... in regards to gardening.

Luckily our house has a very overgrown hedge - a perfect ruse to not garden behind it. The front verge gets a haircut every few weeks and voila, we at least look partly neat. Remember, unlike almost everyone else in our village, gardening does not come naturally to Bob and I. Back in South Africa, we thought of ourselves as ace gardeners if our sole pot - plant ( geraniums! ) survived a month after coming to live with us.

Of course, in our first year here, Bob was extremely overenthusiastic and in one foul swoop, chopped down the hedge. Frankly, this did cause a mini-marital tiff and considering that all Winter long we were on display ( our whole yard and garden to be spied upon ) and seen, many a wife would have also thrown their toys out the cot / conversed in a higher octave from the usual. Oh you better believe it, I held the shrillness for a few minutes. So far so good and the hedge lives on...

As with all things stylish and " unique ", the idea gets replicated. Walking on Sunday morning in Eisenberg, I again almost had heart failure. Gosh, they do know how to display the cut to size dummy at such an optimum angle, that one only knows at the last minute that it isn't real.

Should more villagers jump on the band wagon and display their perfectly chopped men, a tour could be arranged or even better yet, a competition of who best cut their man down to size...And of course it is a perfect opportunity to recycle old pants. Beware Bob, your Camo-pants might disappear from the cupboard!

This is the Deutsch-Schützen cut to size man...
The Eisenberg variety. To be honest, I don't know whose dummy was there first and for all I know there are more dummies about!


Monday, 25 August 2014

Chickens Rule The Roost!

Chicks do have a cuteness factor.

Was it the rustle of the leaves, the clucking of the mother hen or the sudden movement or all three combined that made me pause in my stride? When I saw them cavorting over the lawn, it had the same cuteness factor as seeing a kitten or puppy. Heart melting stuff indeed.

" Psst, don't tell Bob, but I started to imagine having little chicks in our backyard! "

Look at him(?) flit around the corner. Oh, that could be a scene from a vintage Donald Duck comic. The little legs still a tad bit unsteady but incredibly fast.
Of course Mama, was not far behind. Even though I crouched down and made clucking sounds, she took to fright and shooed her bunch along.
An obstacle course indeed. Mother hen might be clucking how to traverse the terrain.
" Lift your foot high darling and move forward. Just do as your brother. "
The family swells rather quickly. A few naughty chicks had been exploring a few bushes further back, but were clucked back into line by Mother.
" Come along dears....stop looking at everything! "
Could be a scene in the epic movie: An escape from Biggi!
It sounds silly, but doesn't she look proud as a peacock?
I had just put my camera away and started off on my walk again, when ten meters further on, another mother hen was clucking her troupe along. Amazing to see the different colour plumage of her chicks...What a beautiful Sunday morning it was.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Seen & Heard Around The Village This Week, #1

If you go out to see beauty, that is exactly what you'll find!

When I came back from my walk, this little gal was hopping gaily about in our vegetable garden. More of a vegetable grave, but it didn't deter her. Having lived in our garden for the summer, even a big person like me doesn't scare her. She's put on weight preparing for her trip into warmer climes. Our little Tigger ( feral cat ) is so spoiled with vittles from Hofer, that she is not even interested in this bird...
Clearly she has had enough and our photo opportunity was at an end.
The neighbour's cat portending good fortune. Although when this delightful cat runs across the road, I let it go first. Just in case!
This whole summer I have been wondering what this field of white plants is, and the other morning a friend stopped his tractor next to me and happened to mention that it's Buckwheat. It's amazing to think that the kernels from this flower - type plant makes flour. Bees love to congregate in this field and it tends to sound like a Formula 1 race track.
Nice to see the cottages on the vineyard peek through.
My privileged walking route. Each season offers a safe haven for errant thoughts. Walking in nature like this, is almost as if the Angels are on route...brushing any problems away.
There are a few sunflowers guarding a vegetable field, but most of the sunflowers are sadly losing their shine and bloom. Some are hanging on though!
The sunflower jungle it seems. Mystery and hidden beauty perhaps?


Saturday, 23 August 2014

A New Buschenschank Is In Town!

The Kopfensteiner's have added a new dimension to tasting their fabulous wines.

We got the call at 4.30 yesterday afternoon.
The " do you want to go to the Buschenschnank "call. Luckily for us they happen with great frequency.

" Biggi, do you and Bob want to join us at Kopfensteiner's? But we are leaving in 10 minutes. "
This call yesterday threw a bit of a spanner in the works. Bob was doing manly stuff out back...mowing the grass in the back garden, and I had a seldom made curry on the stove. In great haste I ran up to the back garden and it took a while to get Bob's attention over the loud yet wonderfully hypnotic ( to me at least ) noise of the mower.

I explained the invitation along with the curry on the stove situation. The minute my Mum asked me, I knew that Bob would drop everything to go to Kopfensteiner's. ( It wasn't advertised yet everyone has been talking about it today. ) He put up a show of indecision but only for a second. Bob morphed into Speedy Gonzales: Lawnmower packed away, shower greeted, clean clothes put on, all in under 10 minutes. Unheard of!

Anyway, we all got to the place. The Kopfensteiner family purchased the house a while ago and the scuttle bug was that they were fixing it up to do a Buschenschank. Only winemakers and producers are able to host a Buschenschank, and as winemakers go, the Kopfensteiner family are on the top tier. Thomas, the vintner has just won an award for best red wine of Austria 2014 and this is an opportunity to taste his wine along with some vittles. Yes, they are offering their various wines by the glass ( or bottle if you like ). A wine lover's Nirvana.

Yesterday was their inaugural Buschenschank day and what luck for us. When we arrived, we saw Thomas carrying a big 6 liter bottle of wine inside. A gimmick I thought...but no, when we had paid and where ready to leave, his father came to our table with a decanted wine and 5 glasses. A special reserve red from 2009. From this super-sized bottle which apparantly ages the wine differently. Either way, it tasted out of this world.

The wine left a velvety residue when I swirled it. Always a good sign. Isn't it funny how the people in the know, such as vintners, Sommeliers, wine-fundies, wine-buffs and frequent wine-quaffers do have a special way of swirling a glass of wine. Honestly, I haven't mastered this art form yet.
When I try to look nonchalant while swirling my glass of wine, it shows an alarming wish to escape over the top of the glass. Lessons might be in order, because when you see an expert do it correctly, it looks oh-so-cool!

The entrance. The painted winebarrel is all the rage right now, yet I am not too fond of them. But they are jolly effective.
Sitting with my folks and enjoying the scenery, company & wine.
This one is for Lorraine.
The B & B team! We really did have a few glasses of wine each, but the photos taken with a glass in front of us were not that flattering...
The celebratory wine at the end. Can you see the velvety smoothness running down the bottle? Very nice wine indeed, and a very nice you'll have to put on your to-do list as well.


Friday, 22 August 2014

The Local Village Shop: Vital, Interesting & Fun.

The blueprint of the modern social media platforms perhaps?

One of my part time jobs is to help those not able to, with maybe driving them to the local doctor's rooms or to visit their friends and of course to do a spot of personal shopping at the local village store. Phoning in your order just isn't the same. We all like to look, see and touch whatever we plan to buy. The best part of it though is spending time with people who are often alone and lonely.

Our village might be tiny, but it is very progressive and I dare say on the cutting edge of taking care of the seniors. A few weeks ago I was talking to a visitor who also happened to be a Neurologist. When I told her about our village and my job, she was amazed because that is what it is all about. Lonely seniors sometimes just need someone to visit them for a cup of coffee and to listen. I love the fact that I am able to do just that.

Anyway, we were on the way back from the doctor's rooms when we stopped at the village shop. It was still early, just after 9 a.m and after helping my friend inside, I took up my wait outside the shop. I know that shopping is a great thrill for her and it takes time. Nobody likes to hurry through a fun activity.

It was rather fun for me to stand at the entrance door ( waiting to help her out again with her heavy basket in tow ) and to watch the happenings. And boy, stuff happens at the local shop. Yesterday was the weekly card game of the slightly older men ( all grey haired ) at the restaurant adjacent to the shop and I saw them all pull up in their different modes of transport: on foot, on a scooter and a few with cars. One of the men usually sees me walking and asked me bluntly, whether I had stopped walking. The last two days have been rushed in the mornings and I haven't seems people know already.

One by one, the cars pulled up and friends, neighbours or even people I hadn't seen before, went to buy milk, paper and bread. Or was it just an opportunity to collect the latest village news? Everyone returned my cheerful greeting and some stopped to shoot the breeze with me.

A plain old conversation is essential for a happy life. Talking, listening and interacting face to face is one of life's forgotten pleasures. Yes, in today's age of technology, Smartphones and the Internet, the art of an old fashioned chat is slowly dying out. On top of that, most people are so stressed by taking on more work than they can handle ( so they can buy more stuff they don't need ), that they don't have time for even a small chat.

When I finished school, the norm was for everyone to go overseas for a year or two to find themselves and what they want out of life.

Times have changed drastically and maybe the new thing to do after finishing school, is to move to a small village for a year. A year where the teens can re-learn the art of conversation. A conversation without any electronic devices....


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Did You Also Try To Look As Cool As Your Favourite Pop Star?

The fun of being a teenager!

All I can say is that thankfully we didn't have the Selfie / YouTube / or FaceBook back in our day. It sounds long ago, but was actually only about a decade or two ( well, sort of ).
Bob and I were driving to town the other day and as opposite as our music tastes are, there is one genre of music we both love and know by heart. The music of our teens.

Driving with the Chief means either listening to his CD of spine-chilling music ( I think it's currently Nick Cave and remember I love Frank Sinatra! ) or there is one radio station he tends to like as well. 88.6 plays a mix of music that includes our common musical ground. The pop songs of our youth. Oh, for a hardened alternative music fan, I am amazed how Bob can sing along word perfect to pop songs of the 70's and 80's.

The DJ announced one of those 20 minute play-affairs which included a Billy Ocean number. Oh, it was too classic. Both of us instantly mentioned Loverboy . I recalled dancing to it at the local disco ( yes, that what a club was called back in the middle ages ) and Bob regaled me with his fond memory of dressing up like Billy Ocean. He and his best friend Ian used to gap it to town to try and get the right outfit: the shiny jacket with the sleeves pushed up halfway.

Aha, some of you dear readers did the same, didn't you!!

Do you remember the various trends:

  • Wearing white socks with black shoes and the red leather jacket made us stand out as Micheal Jackson fans.
  • Ripped fishnet stockings over short skirts, ripped t-shirts, heavy eye make-up and teased hair. Madonna fans indeed. Vintage Madonna that is.
  • The longish, highlighted hair of George Micheal in Wham!
  • The ridiculously low riding pants. In fact, they should have been called almost hippsters but definitely thigh'sters. N'Sync and their new look of the early 90's. How on earth could those boys even walk with their trousers halfway down their thighs. Usually that look only happens when you need to urgently run to the toilet...

Luckily for a lot of us, the school yearbook, or the dusty photo album ( with real photos ) are the only evidence to show our wild teenage crazes. Now and again a funny photo of our youthful style indiscretions might be shown at our weddings or at round numbered birthdays, but thankfully ( & hopefully ) we look different now and can laugh along.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

How Quickly Would You Throw Your Clothes In The Hamper If You Had No Washing Machine?

No washing machine...means washing all by hand!

Us youngsters tend to forget, that in our Grandmothers' day, hardly anyone had an automatic washing machine. We take it for granted that we can press a few buttons and voila, one hour later our clothes are washed. I admit, that I love that whole wash-cycle too. Hanging washing on the line is so very therapeutic. Gosh, even our cat loves watching when I hang washing.

But we wash too much and too quickly. How often are our clothes still clean-ish and could be worn another day? A very nice lady who is in the privileged over 80's club, told me that she worries about society and the prolific wasting of resources. Water etc. What a pioneer. She knows how precious life and nature is and only shakes her head at how some of us waste it.

One of her ideas brought on an " aha " moment for me.

" If people had to wash their laundry by hand, they would not throw their clothes so quickly in the hamper. "
Remember, she is of a generation, that brought up children without the luxury of Pampers nor washing machines. No, she had to still fire up the stove ( with wood, I might add ) and boil big pots of water for the laundry. Then, each item was rubbed vigorously over the washboard. ( Ah, yes, a washboard that is the patron name giver of men's flat stomachs... ) One item at a time!

You know, back then having more than one child was the norm. Heck, eight was standard! Think about this: The chances are that at least two of the children were at the nappy stage at the same time. Nappy stage means changing at least 5 times a day and no, not a throw away pamper but a nappy that needed to be washed out, boiled and reused. Take a moment and imagine that work load. True maternal love indeed.

Most of the washing was done either on Saturday or late in the evenings. A Farmer's wife especially had a lot of work back then. Tending the fields, feeding & milking cows, cooking meals and oh so much more. I must say, I am in awe of how women ran their households and lives. Puts all of us ' modern ' women to shame. We, who are so spoiled by modern contraptions.

Is our convenient household-lifestyle speeding up the depletion of nature and its resources?

  • Imagine how much water we would save if we wore our clothes more than once or twice before throwing it in the wash.
  • Imagine how much less chemicals gunge would be pumped out into the grid. Yes, I am pretty sure that those nice and clean smelling bubbles aren't very beneficial to our environment.
  • Our clothes would last longer and we might not replace them as often. Mainly towels and bedding etc.
  • Our electricity and water bills would be much lower.

I don't know about you, but the next time I throw anything in the wash, I will take a moment to say a silent thank you because I don't have to wash it by hand...


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Flowers, Simple Yet Magical And Oh So Cheerful.

A little flower makes the world of difference.

Stumbling across a beautiful bunch of flowers in their natural setting is special. There is no need to pick or pluck them. No, just taking a minute to absorb their power is magical. It is a new imprint on our minds. A new compass of happiness to redirect our errant thoughts. At least it is for me.

Flowers still living at home ( ie not those that have moved out and gone to the florist's shelves ) have the ability to mirror the various seasons. It is such a treat to follow their progress throughout the year. Nature is amazing, abundant and powerful. Imagine a tiny seed morphing into a beautiful flower or plant within such a short period of time. Simply wonderful.

A walk in nature is often enough to wipe away any negative feelings or thoughts. How can it not be so. Here are a few images that caught my eye and instantly made my day brighter and better. Through the ages, artists have made impressions and recordings of beautiful flowers and nature. Aren't those the paintings that are sold for millions of dollars? Even then they knew how powerful a simple flower could be...

This little red stunner grows merrily outside a Kellerstöckl along the Hummergraben. That shade of red simply jumped into my line of vision and I quickly took a photo before the owner saw me....
This is a man - made circle of sunshine. At least I like to think of it like that. The owner planted a circle of wildflowers with the sunshine in the middle. Two lovely sunflowers. They were facing away from me, but I didn't want to walk onto someones property.
A mere 100 meters from our home, is this neighbourhood beauty. So high up in the hedge that I am sure not everyone notices it.
I stood there in the road and took a lot of photos of this stunning picture. Even showing you a few of the same image, you'll get a different impression of each.
Nature is such a genius at showing us a different side to life. The sunny side.