Thursday, 31 December 2015

Cats Are People Too...

What having a cat has taught me.

Sometimes Bob and I look at each other and our hearts burst for this little cat. A cat that we both are convinced was the one to be ours. The right cat that was waiting for us. We had a few other chances to be cat parents, but somehow only our Maus was the one to adopt.

I've always had a love for dogs and cats but more so dogs. It never worked out to have one, because if you do have a pet, it is for life. For the last few months we've morphed into cat peeps. In fact, at the moment our whole household revolves around our little bundle of joy and I am well aware that she might be a bit both of us.

But here is the thing: Each day we are with her, another facet of her character emerges and often, she is as human as you and I. She is so intelligent and it doesn't take her very long to learn new things, tricks to play on us and who to wrap around her little paw...Bob, of course!!

She sticks to a routine that you could set your clock to. Daytime is usually sleep time, early morning is serious cuddle time and night time is her time to wake us up with her incessant use of squeaky toys. A parental torture of note.

As for the early morning cuddle, even for this she has a set routine. She firstly manoeuvres her little body around my neck almost like a necklace and I have learned to be quick to avoid a possible bottom in my face...after a few minutes of this, she changes her perch to cuddle into the crook of my arm. Her face is close to mine and while I stroke her back, we both watch TV.

As I am of the early bird crowd, Maus and I are awake from about 5 bells.
( Well, actually I fib as she starts the cuddling procedure at about 3 am ). Bob gets up about an hour later and from the day he met Maus, I made him take over the feeding. Extra bonding as he was away the first three weeks when I got her.

It used to be 7 am for the first feed, but slowly he has moved it forward to 6.15 am. Honestly, not so much Bob but a cutely meowing kitten ( We do keep dry food available for her at all times ). From six o'clock, it starts. Bob and her have a running conversation.

" Maus, another ten minutes and I will get you your food. "

" Meeeeeooow, meeeoooow, meeeeeeeow, M.E.O.W.O.W "
and when this bit of vocal objection doesn't do the trick, she smartly runs up to Bob, either jumping on his lap to show she loves him, or throwing her favourite little blue ball in front of his feet. Kind of like a challenge of either you feed me or you play with me.

As for that little blue ball, she loves to kick or nudge it under the kitchen cupboard where only the long arm of the broom handle can dislodge it. Oh yes, she does it daily and will sit meaowing in front of it until either Bob or I use the broom.

The other day she even started to become a picky eater. We had bought some high quality food for her which she turned her nose up to...Her concerned father rushed out to buy her some ordinary food and she gulped it down.

" I told you she wouldn't eat that. Look how she loves this cheap food. "

" Bob, you gulp down chips too while you ignore the vegetables on the plate. "


... Maus, pretending to be invisible...

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Winter That's Just Not Happening Yet.

Yet, it is still stunning to behold.

The pond across the road has many romantic spots...alas, Bob and I have yet to take a picnic basket and recline on the divine edge. Of course my Schatzi has spent many a Sunday morning with The Boys at the clubhouse on the other side of the pond.
The hues of nature never disappoint. Does Mother Nature have a stage manager?
Ah, those reds! A beacon of hope, gladness and beauty despite the bareness of the trees and shrubs around it. Nice.
A spot along the edge of the forest made me smile. These odd bits of colour are wonderful to stumble upon. Yes, it is just a mere tuft of yellow blades defying the cold, but to me it shows that even in the midst of starkness, beauty abounds.
When you see it realistically, it is a lonely leaf that has been coated in a dusting of ice, but as I was about to step over it, the sun's rays made contact and made it light up like a diamond in the street. Absolutely stunning and almost bordering on the divine...


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Why Do Men Want A Porsche When A Bicycle Would Do The Job?

Gosh, even running shoes would suffice!

Just before Christmas lunch, our floors had a need to be cleaned and as luck would have it, I had to be out for work. Oh yes, luck indeed as I had to delegate the job to the only other person in our house...Bob.

Of course I wrapped the request into an undeniable way and told Bob that usually my back gets sore ( yes, really ) and it might be a good idea if he took over that part of the household chores. Marriage does mean sharing equally, doesn't it?

Bob has done the odd hoovering but never the wet thing. Even though he has seen me do it so often he must have been hypnotized somewhere along the line into " not-seeing " me clean the floors, because why else did he never offer to help?

So, I got all the equipement that one needs to clean the floor lined up for him and left with a cheery wave good bye. By equipment I mean a bucket of warm soapy water, an old fashioned broom and a floor cloth which has been ample for housewives throughout the centuries, including me. Just for good measure I put all the chairs around the kitchen table on top of it. Men do tend to be easily distracted and seeing the chairs in a different place would be a reminding nudge.

Anyway, I knew Bob would do the floor, but secretly I feared it to be an once-off affair, even though he had agreed to take over the floors from now on.

When I did get home a few hours later, the floors were sparkling because once men make up their mind to help they do so in spectacular fashion. Despite leaving Bob muttering to himself ( and I think I caught my name in it ), once I got home, he was smiling and proudly showed off his work. He must have really done a vigorous bout of cleaning because he was wiping a sweaty brow!

Anyway, I have learned when to drop a subject and wait it out. Well, while we were grocery shopping yesterday, Bob eschewed the Snack Isle for the Cleaning Isle, spending a long time in it and even called me over to inspect a fancy floor cleaner.

We almost had an eh, domestic fight in the isles, because I did't see the need to buy a fancy green plastic broom with some bits of material dangling at the bottom which need a special squeeze contraption and incidentally costs a fortune and will end up in a dusty corner. These things are more for show than glow.

I think that Bob was reminiscing about all those promotional stands he has walked passed in the past. You know the one, where a pretty lady clad in tight clothing shows off the wonders of the expensive equipment...and not just hers either!


Monday, 28 December 2015

Do You Know What Day Of The Week It Is?

Everyday feels like a Sunday.

Somehow, the end of December brings not only Christmas & New Year, but also a few days of uninterrupted rest. Even the most seasoned of workers do take a few days off.

We've all accepted that at Christmas and its peripheral ( you know the week leading up to it and the one after it ) we can let go, and just enjoy ourselves. Diets are on hiatus, routine has dissolved and shoulders have dropped into a relaxed position.

The kids of the village are home too, for the holidays. Even though they are parents or grandparents themselves, they are still kids to their parent. Their big city armour of success often melts away once they are cocooned in the comforting aromas of mum's homemade food. Just goes to show, that childhood is a most important part of our emotional make up.

Isn't it the best when you can wake up when you feel like it, stumble into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee while perusing the inside of the biscuit tin. A tin where with each passing day it gets harder to find the right biscuit. The best ones always dissappear first!

Do you also get that feeling of giddiness, knowing that the day is yours and either you can morph on the sofa with a remote clutched in your hand or you can sleep the day away and my personal favourite, to lie on the sofa reading a gripping book?

This week I have become reacquainted with my Mary Higgins Clark collection and even though I've read them before, they are still a treasure to re-read. Even our cat has assumed a more relaxed than normal position as though she too needs a break from her usual routine of sitting on the windowsill to keep an eye on the birds.

The Cinderella Murder

Yesterday afternoon, we were in our lounge, Bob tipping on his computer with Maus and I reclining on the sofa. I had my Mary Higgins Clark in my hand while she was on my lap, dreaming of chasing birds. Most content and even when I got up to get some wine, she waited until I got back, for another bout of snuggling.

The luxurious pleasures of a simpler way of life.


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Parents, You Do Know That Buying A Playstation Might Make Your Kids Virtually Disappear For Hours, Days & Even Months!

Perhaps that is the point of it...

Somehow I feel as though the next generation of adults will be some copy of the Stepford wives. All the same and all spaced out. Virtually that is.

If you've ever been around a kid that's playing on a Playstation, good luck trying to get them off it. Turning the Wi-Fi off tends to do the trick. Sadly, often the parents are just as much addicted to their Smartphones and Social Media updates, that they are not so happy to switch of the Wi-Fi!

This virtual disappearing act starts much earlier when they get their own smartphone. Yes, you want your little darlings to be au fait regarding the smart world, but let me tell you, that they know it all already and can swipe circles around you from early on.

In any case, I would be rather sceptical of giving children under 10 their own Smartphone. Health warnings are aplenty and once they have a Smartphone they either keep it close to their body or fall asleep with it next to their pillow. Constant wi-fi waves passing through their developing bodies. Remember, back in the day of that other danger -smoking- the early reports were played down all the time...who's coughing now?

Smartphones are hurting our children...

Are smartphones making our children mentally ill?

But regardless of all of the above, what about the most glaringly obvious side effect of all those virtual childhoods, and most parents these days would be surprised if they actually interact more than an hour a day with their kids in the real, old fashioned way...

Social graces and manners.

" Hallo, thank you, please & goodbye " seem to be a dying breed in our daily life. Never mind a thoughtful" How are you? " and often if you do get one or perhaps even all of them, they are coupled with the eternal downward look. The smart look.

If you could get a glimpse into most modern families with children, you'd see children in their rooms playing anything connected ( all alone ) and parents in the lounge, updating their social status on their smartphone...

Oh, you don't have to point it out to me. I know that I am part of that notorious older generation who says: When I was young... but, honestly, I am just sorry for the children and their constant lack of time to Just be...


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Gosh, The English Are Extremely Fortunate To Have Her Majesty, The Queen.

What a wonderful anchor in our turbulent times.

By chance I saw part of the Christmas message that the Queen shares with the world. Through the years while living in a former part of the British Empire, I have seen countless of these. But this morning, it dawned on me what a special envoy of comfort and a sense of safety the Queen is.

Who can believe that such an energetic woman is turning 90 this coming year? Where others, a generation younger than her are bemoaning this that and the other while sitting on their couch, this lady still has engagements, responsibilities and clarity.

Sometimes I wonder what the Second World War generation makes of our current troubles? They have survived unbelievable hardships and not just for a few weeks at a time, but for a full six years of it. Even the times following the war, were hardly a piece of cake.

Shops were bare, houses destroyed, food often non-existent and friends and family no more. In our modern obsession with consumerism, at times we laughed at the war generation for their frugality, thriftiness and modesty. Why wait when you can buy it on credit?

They were the generation who saved up and then bought where as we are the generation who buys and then cries...Who's having the last laugh now... Yet, precisely this thrifty generation is aware of what is important to a life, to live a happy life and to be content.

Things have no meaning, but health, family and time to enjoy them, does.

The Queen is that beacon of hope that most of us do look for. Someone who tells us that it will be alright or at least someone to be there alongside us while the going is tough. The nation's Grandmother, who will tell you if you have made a mistake, will tell you to get over it and to tell you that life goes on.

So, I for one, feel that the British are extremely lucky to have such a special woman behind them and her own family even more so. To have heard her mention how she is blessed by being able to have her children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren decorate the Christmas tree, brought home that all important sense of togetherness and family. Simply marvelous...


Friday, 25 December 2015

At Heart I'm Still A Bavarian Gal.

A Schweinsbraten & Knödel it is for Christmas Day Lunch...

We are hosting a luncheon for my folks at our house this afternoon and yours truly will attempt to make it. Luncheon sounds a tad bit too grand because it is going to be a roast, Knödel and cucumber salad. Dessert is still not a definite but I think it might be a dash of something from Aloisa's.

Bob was panicking that we would all go hungry with such a meager offering, that he organized a few snacks just in case. Personally I tend to think that he saw an opportunity of putting extras into our shopping trolley that we normally don't eat.

At my in-law's family Christmas affairs, the tables are usually groaning with the numerous dishes on them. Often it is a case of twenty family members coming for the Christmas lunch and as most bring a dish or two along, it explains the plentifully laden tables. Let's see how our luncheon will fare. We have plenty of wines & beer on offer so that at least that part of the meal will be enough.

When I told my Dad, who is on the other side of the world about our plans for today's lunch, his mouth started to any authentic Bavarian, there is nothing more traditional nor better than a Schweinsbraten & Knödel for a meal. Heartwarming and great tasting food.

In fact, a few hours ago my Dad sent me an email with a fabulous painting ( made by him on his iPad ) of how he imagined the meal will turn out..." From your lips to God's ears. " He might be a world away, but he is as close as an iSwipe or a Skype.

Of course, I haven't made a lot of Schweinsbraten before but isn't it the thought that counts? Whatever happens to the roast, the crusty crunchy crackling will be fought over by all of us. The dumplings could also be in danger of missing the fluffiness that most of them have and rather resemble a heavy stone...but never mind, it's the meal had together as a family that counts.

Anyway, I am very grateful to be able to cook a lunch and to share it with loved ones.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Merry Christmas From Our Beautiful Eisenberg.

A picture book walk in nature.

It almost seems like a fairy tale setting. The sun's rays are just awakening the beautiful foliage slumbering on the floor. The rustiness of winter. A walk in the Deutsch Schützen forest was an appropriate curtain raiser for Christmas.
Isn't it amazing how the bright green of summer still peeps out underneath the slight autumn reds of the leaves...I have it on good authority, that this particular bit of the forest is inundated with mushrooms, during the mushroom season. I am still a bit wary of picking any, as I am not so sure which are poisonous and which are not!
What magic are you thinking of right now? This is a path in our forest, but it can easily be a path to unlock the imagination.
Even though this lane leads into Deutsch Schützen, it might be a lane from the pages of a Jane Austin novel. Too divine.
Another view of the delightful chapel. Even when viewed through the thorny bushes, it makes an impression.
A friend and her dog walked with me yesterday and showed me this delightful side of the forest. Johnny, her dog, gave his approval. Happiness & contentment is not difficult to achieve.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Home For The Holidays...

An interesting insight.

Bob and I sure know how to pick our shopping days. Afterwards we are never sure why we actually went to town, but at the time it seems the only thing on our horizon. Even circling any regional shopping center two days before Christmas is a touch questionable.

It is supposed to be the season to be jolly, but moving around the halls of the malls, one stumbles into rather a lot of irate people. Perhaps they are irate because they can't carry anymore parcels, or because they couldn't get a certain gift or they had too overcome the traumatic experience of finding a parking space right in front of the entrance...Nobody seems to want to walk a few hundred meters anymore...

On the way home, we stopped at a supermarket and it was too funny to see all the students home for the holidays. There they were, walking up and down the isles with their mothers and girlfriends, lamenting the fact that this or that can only be had in Vienna, Graz or Eisenstadt.

Oh yes, the groovy people have descended into Burgenland. Just like the big city folks can spot a country bumpkin, so we country bumpkins can spot a dandified city'son. Even though they've only been in the trendy environs a few months or a year, they seem to have perfected the city look and sound. Yet, it was great to see that underneath their new plumage they were kids after all. A lot of childhood favourites were put into trollies.

Bob and I did get some morsels for our Maus at the pet emporium and as it is the silly season, we splashed out on some better rations of cat food. Only the best for our Princess...well, both of us were pleased as punch to give our Maus a royal feast and Bob built up the suspense for her:

" Ooh, my little darling. Look what Daddy has got for you. Yummy chicken. Oooh! "
somehow, I think you know how this story ends...our princess didn't like it at all and as I am old school versus Bob's new school, we are still arguing on whether we should let her eat it or put out something new...


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

An Unexpected Black Cat Ninja Attack.

Since when is a big toe considered a tasty morsel?

When I was younger the world was outraged, shocked, definitely surprised and perhaps even amused by the royal " Toe-Gate Affair " ( a Duchess and an American in France )

Toes seem to hold an attraction it seems and lately, our little feline has had this silly idea that a big toe is a toy. A toy to be clawed, bitten and attacked.

Before you go: " Ooh, how cute... " please take into account that our little Maus has claws that should soon be registered as dangerous weapons and she keeps true to the Ninja Code and only attacks my tasty toes in the early morning hours.

Picture it, there I was in the land of Somnus and innocently snoring away when out of the blue, she jumped onto my ankles and launched a starting round of bites. Please believe me, it takes a while before you realize why your toe is sore.

Round two had me raising my voice to say: " No! " which she didn't hear because she was wearing the invisible Ninja Ear Plugs and the only option was for me to try and untangle my feet from the duvet and her.

On her decent to the floor she got in a few claw attacks and stupidly I thought that this was the end to it...If you do own a cat, you know that notorious wild look they get. Out of the blue, I might mention. Once you see it, it's really the best idea to run for the hills.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

Last night, she did a jump and decent to the floor routine at least five times. By this stage I was mad enough to bunker down in my duvet with nary a tempting toe on view.

When I want her to stop doing something that might be a touch nefarious-feline nefarious-, I clap my hands twice and it usually works like a treat along with a resound and strong No!. Usually, but not last night! Which makes me wonder whether I have to practice my Babara Woodhouse manner a bit more? Who can ever forget the iconic:

" Whhhaaalkeees. "

This morning, all is well and forgotten with our Princess Maus curled up quite happily on my lap, as I am writing this blog. But, I am not naive...there might be many ninja attacks still in store for me.

Perhaps I must get Bob to video one stealth attack on my toe by our Maus and just maybe my:

" Maus bit my toe! "
will get as much airtime as
" Charlie bit my finger. "


Monday, 21 December 2015

The 4th Advent Fete Paves The Way For Father Christmas To Arrive.

A lovely coffee & cake affair to mark the occasion.

Lighting the forth candle on the advent kranz is a big deal in our part of the world. A time to reflect and also a time that bubbles up excitement and joy. Christmas is a mere days away and that alone makes most of us forget the everyday humdrum and tunnel in on Christmas.

Some can't wait to open the presents, some can't wait to see the faces of those that do and some just love the few days of rest and feasting on the seasonal treats.

The fete was in the community hall and homemade cakes and for that matter wine were on offer.

Sometimes I wonder if my fellow villagers actually realize how fantastic it is to live among so many winemakers? Well, I for one don't take it for granted and often reflect upon my fortune over a glass of local wine!
The cakes were so prolific that to make a choice was not easy for me, the Gemini. Eventually I settled on a Black Forest Cake and it was amazing in taste and funnily enough also made by Silvia, who I sat next to. She was happy.

The choir, Like a Rainbow performed a small set and it brought home the feeling and atmosphere of the season. Nice. At the end of their performance, the mayor said a few words and I thought it was wonderful when he told us about where the proceeds of the afternoons feasting were to go to.

Our village has many clubs and committees and the advent event was hosted by the Keep our village beautiful club. Naturally I assumed that a new flower bed or a display would be bought but the mayor announced that just like the previous years, the ladies would take the proceeds and buy gift vouchers at the local supermarket and give these to people in our village who don't have enough.

Isn't that great? Often we assume that just because we can have a lot of things, that others have the same fortune...not so. Wouldn't it be a nice idea if all of us were to make a plate of biscuits, cake or put together a food parcels for someone in our peripheral who perhaps hasn't got a lot...


Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Weekend Tailor Made For This Alpine Skiing Fan.

Saturday and Sunday filled to the brim.

It can be rather stressful to organize my morning to be ready in time to see the first heat of the races. Yesterday I managed to still go by foot ( yes, it felt like I walked a hundred miles barefoot in the snow! ) to the Doc to get Bob's eye drops etc. Saturday they only open between 7 a.m and 9 a.m and I made it with ten minutes to spare. Gosh, you should have seen me motor...

I was treated to two lots of downhill races. Women and men downhill. When you consider that these gladiators of the snow careen downhill at speeds of over 100 kph, on icy pistes with waxed skis, one tends to question why they don't get the millions that are paid to soccer players. The only thing dangerous about the game of soccer is if a player is crushed by a group hug which always morphs into a rugby tackle of sorts.

Bob secretly loves watching the skiing but is usually quite scathing towards my favourite and will make silly comments until his Anna starts a race. This year, unfortunately Anna has injured herself before the season started and is out for the duration of it. Not such an insurmountable problem for Bob...he has found a different skier to support. An Austrian naturally

This morning the schedule has moved forward and the races start at 9.15 am and it is often a nail biting affair as the difference between first and second is usually just a blink of an eye. Milliseconds.

One of the all time great skiers on the circuit at the moment is Lindsey Vonn. She is breaking records and winning races. A few years ago she had such an horrendous fall that it kept her out of the sport for over a year. Yet, she is back and with aplomb. Luckily for the sport of skiing, she went out with Tiger Woods for a few years. I say luckily, because it made more folks start to be aware of this amazing sport. Aware and also watching it. If you can, take a look at these clips. Stunning and scary at the same time.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Shopping Local, We Should All Give It A Go.

Sometimes it's easy to forget...

At the moment we can get nice eggs from free roaming chickens just a few meters down the road. We've had one tray and we could tell they were from happy chickens, as they varied in size and colour. Yes, two of the eggs had a green shell, seriously, and it took both of us some persuasion to eat that particular egg.

Each and every day I either walk or drive past their yard. They have ample room to run around in and a few trees to try and fly into. It does make it more special to see where the eggs are coming from and each egg from there tastes better because I know that we are supporting local.

The hardest part is remembering to go and get them and I have to admit it is easier in a supermarket to just grab a tray of eggs...but I don't.

Luckily for me, where we are the other local produce is wine and pumpkin seed oil. Imagine if Le Bob and I had moved closer to Jennersdorf ( 50km south ) and the famous Zotter chocolate factory? Supporting local would have disastrous affects on our waistlines...

Do I even need to write about how fabulous it is to live smack bang in the middle of a wine producing area, never mind the fact that mum makes an amazingly divine red Blaufränkisch wine? Aah, one doesn't need much in life after all!

As for our pumpkin seed oil, it is in high demand the world over. When Bob went back to S.A. recently, the pre-orders for bottles of the green gold had been placed. As the orders were from men only, the folklore of it must have spread.

Pumpkin seed oil is supposed to give men more energy!!!

Christmas has sadly become an almost silly season of shopping and buying with the real meaning lost. Instead of buying gifts that support the Chinese Economy, why don't we buy something that supports our own local producers, economy and therefore jobs? Wherever you live in the world, a safe choice would be a food basket with some vittles from your area.

All of us love getting a food basket and it is a gift that can either be used up or passed on. Our area in Burgenland has the fortune of having ample local produce to stock a gift basket with...


" I am Your Father...!

Some of the happy chickens down the road.
Huey, Dewy or Louis perhaps? Too cute for words...

Friday, 18 December 2015

Shoe Horn, Chausse-Pied Or Schuhloeffel.

However you describe it, it is jolly useful.

Most of us know this aide from seeing it dangling around in shoe shops ( yes dangling on a string for the off chance that someone would pilfer it ) when we try on closed shoes. Winter boots especially are rather a tight fit and often we wouldn't get into these boots without one.

I have never really had a shoe horn of my own and to be frank, in my mind I did think that it was an admission for growing older. What, me, a shoehorn....still too young...

When my Dad visits he brings a whole stash of shoe horns. Shoe horns of every description it seems and luckily he forgets to take them home. Last year I decided to give one of his shoehorns a try and have never looked back. You have no idea how easy it is to put on trainers.

nico Schuhanzieher aus Metall 70 cm (sehr stabil)

The one I have is almost a meter long and apart from tying my shoelaces, there is no need to bend down. Shoe horn in at the heel section of the shoe and a quick slide into it. The bonus of it is that none of my trainers get that hideously frayed heel fold. Who hasn't slid into their shoes without bothering to keep the heel part straight? Many a trainer has morphed into a slipper!

Perhaps I am wrong, but I do think that with the use of my shoe horn the life of my trainers have extended a month or so at least.

In our oh just throw it away and buy new ones society, most of us don't know that it is easy to mend something that seems broken. A hole in your can darn it. Our parents generation grew up in tough times, times where most had nothing be it food or clothing. The mere idea of throwing anything out without first repairing it has never crossed their minds.

Instead of teaching Geometry, Science and Trigonometry to children that clearly aren't ever going to use it in life, we should start having real old fashioned Home Economics classes. Teaching how to mend, knit, be polite, cook & bake from scratch ( bread, meals or jams ) and perhaps the art of writing letters by hand might be a good idea. Oh, and how to live within your means.


The Friday Night Knitting Club

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Hidden Sides To Winter.

Cuddling under a blanket is just one of them...

Coming from South Africa where the winter season is a mere few months long and never very cold ( comparatively ) the thought that the car needs special winter attention is not uppermost in my mind. Funny really, how the mind works. I seem to remember that in S.A. during winter when it got to a maximum of for example 12 degrees, it would almost be an occasion to stay at home from work, school or life.

The winter coats or extra thermal underwear would be hauled out and a bout of shivering under the blanket might have ensued. On the flip side, here in our Burgenland, when we know the temperature is going to be 12 degrees in winter, Bob sports his shorts and t-shirt and I am so bold as to hang the washing outside on the line...Oh yes, the madhouse.

Even though at the moment our winter is almost non-existent, the mornings do get below freezing and somewhere along the trimester that is winter, there will be some very cold days in it. Cold enough to freeze water and thus cold enough to freeze the radiator and windscreen water in our chariot.

Special antifreeze liquid is needed and the Austrian A.A. ( not the non drinker's club ) gives a free winter check up to its members. Which is where the chariot and I were yesterday. All's well in the land of chariots and it is geared up for the icy days ahead and even the battery, after a two year stint with us has still a handsome 84% left in it.

Let me tell you from first hand experience that in winter the chariot needs the battery unless you want to hear that most fearsome of sounds...chugga ...chugga...chuck...chuck... and stay where you are. Our first winter had us be a part of this particular adventure and as Bob was better at hill starts ( okay, I am honest enough to admit that I was clueless about rolling the car down a hill to start it ) yours truly had the honour of pushing our chariot down that not very steep hill.

On occasions it was so #%!@ freezing that I thought my gloved hands would stay glued on the bumper and another time I almost slid down the hill with the chariot still attached to my hands. Running on ice is not particularly nice. Especially when it has the odd unwanted comment from the chariot handler:

" Jeez, just put your back into it and push a bit harder. How difficult can it be! "

Somehow even these icy layers to the winter season do have a tinge of romance in them. When you see the white snowflakes floating onto the windscreen and building another layer to the roof of your car, it brings to mind all those winter wonderland movies and books you've seen or read. Somehow being in a winter wonderland of snow coats everything with a layer of happiness.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Pets Aren't Toys...Don't Forget.

Life goes on after Christmas, you know...

Of course they look cute as can be when they look up at you from their pen. Kittens and puppies especially. Who can say no? But, please consider what happens to a pet when it ceases to have a cute and cuddly look. There are countless dogs and cats the world over, who are being ignored or worse, abandoned.

Children are notoriously fickle when it comes to playing with their toys. If they give more than a weeks attention to it, it must have been a hit. How many cupboards, boxes and attics are filled to the rafters with almost as good as new toys?

Gosh, I have to admit that Le Bob and I have also morphed into those parents and tend to spoil our kitten. Somehow it is hard not to when you see the vast ocean of potential toys for sale at any pet emporium. Yes, pets are a big deal and pet shops have expanded. Our lounge isn't littered with cat toys, but at times you do have to watch your footing!

The irony of it is, that the very first toy she got from my parents, a small blue bouncy rubber ball, is still her favourite. She carries it around and bounces it where she deems it best bounced. Should it roll under our kitchen cupboard, she will put on a meow concert until we do to her bidding...

Way back when I was in high school, the teachers had a clever ploy for teenage girls ( honestly I don't know whether it fell into the biology or home economics category ). You had to carry a 2,5 kg bag of flour around with you for a week. As it was the equivalent of a baby, it had to be with you 24 hours a day. Perhaps it should be done with kids wanting a puppy or a kitten. Let them feel first hand that a pet takes more effort than the occasional pat or cuddle.

Just in case you are wondering if Bob and I had lost interest in our little kitten, not at all...we adore her and she is treated like the princess she has become. We are her servants and do to her bidding at all times. In fact, we bend over backward to garner a royal cuddle and even though parents should be neutral, we have a daily tally of who got more attention from La Princess...


Bob and the princess! Aah, it used to be me....

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Good Morning Sunrise....It's Jolly Nice To See You.

A different side to Deutsch Schützen indeed.

Again, a church in the distance it seems. The village is waking up to an awesome sunrise, and the kids to another chocolate filled window on their Advent's Calendar.
An often seen hunter's lookout makes a nice contrast.
Somehow, with each further step I was awarded with an even more stunning side to the sunrise. Same scene, different focus...
Now you see it, now you don't! Just like the it seems that the churches spire has vanished into proverbial thin air...Honestly, I cannot get enough of this vibrant sunrise.
For those of you wondering where I took these photos, here is the clue. The regal tree lording it over the chapel. Even in its bereft bare state, it has a powerful impact. This tree should have many rings in its trunk and I am sure that it could tell a story or two of the happenings in Eisenberg over the last few hundred years or so.


Monday, 14 December 2015

The Flip Side Of Sunny Weather Isn't So Shabby Either!

The icy side of life holds austere beauty.

Although this particular winter was four years ago, the stunning effect of the icy vines still has impact...
It is a mere collection of blades, blades of grass covered in an icy morning habit. When you walk passed it, it feels as if the ground is covered by diamonds...
Another facet of vines...stark, solitary and holding a hint of the wonders within.
A romantic image that needs no words...
This is a picture of a scene which could hold the key to unlocking dreams, hopes and adventures that are held in our mind. Wouldn't it be fun to spend the winter in this cottage. Knowing of course that you'd have enough wine, food and wood...oh, and I nearly forgot: books to your heart's content.


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Twice A Day In The Hot Seat.

A funeral in the morning and an almost celestial choir performance in the evening.

The community spirit in any small village is amazing and ever present. This week one of the elderly villagers went into her permanent sleep and her funeral was yesterday. As I did know her, I went too.

When a friend had told me the time of her funeral, I must have listened with only half an ear, because yours truly did a dress rehearsal on Friday...It only dawned on me while walking to the village church, that I was the only one in black walking in that direction. At first I thought that nobody was attending as she did have that peculiar way of being older and slightly caustic. When I got to the church though, I had the fortune to read the real time.

Anyway, Saturday morning saw rather a lot of villagers in the church, attending her funeral. Outside it was bone chillingly cold and inside the church it wasn't much better. Built in the 1700's the modern comfort of central heating was yet a twinkle in someone's eye. Coupled with the aesthetics of a catholic church, made yesterday morning a cold affair.

I had sort of dressed warmly, but let's be honest, who keeps a warm outfit in black for these somber occasions? I tried my best to look the part and luckily, they had an electric blanket in the form of a seat covering on all the pews. My God, eh sorry, my gosh, after sitting there for almost an hour, my behind got nice an warm. Not so shabby after all.

Yesterday evening, the local choir, " Like A Rainbow " which my mum is a member of, had a Christmas performance in the the village next door. In the local church, which you can imagine was rather frosty in the evening. Despite the cold weather, the church was packed to the rafters. And rightly so...

The lights were dimmed, the setting amazing and the choir sang in a celestial style that had all of us entranced and euphorically listening in awe. Throughout my years of attending the choir's performances, I have to say that last night was the best. The sound of singing can have the ability to heal and last night, the choir sang their repertoire of songs in a way, that could only heal and leave a lasting feeling of well being. Wow, absolutely fantastic indeed.

Sitting there, being transported to a world of peace, possibilities and beauty, one tiny little point made it an A-...the priest must have thought we needed reminding of what he is preaching all the time. The eternal flames down below and so forth...and let me tell you, the bench was warmed to such an extent that it was the definition of a hot seat...At the finale, when everyone stood up and cheered, quite a few were happy to get a bit of cold air under there...


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Decoding The Language Of Our Kitten Is Getting Easier.

An instruction manual wouldn't have gone amiss though.

We are approaching the two months mark of being cat owners, or rather house cat owners. There is a rather humorous way that it is described in German. You get cats that are Freigängers which means that they are able to come go as they please and coincidentally, the same word is used for model prisoners...makes you think, doesn't it?

But back to our odessy of trying to understand our little Maus, which can be rather fun. She has a voice, a scraggly one at that and she could easily perform with the Stray Cats. Bob has already started a dialogue with her and it goes something like this:

" Let's get your dinner. Would you like chicken or salmon tonight? "
" Meow, meow. "
" Are you sure? You had chicken this morning. "
" MEOW! "
and she does the last meow with aplomb and irritation at the delay.

Even though we are privileged to receive numerous cuddles from her daily, she is not up for cuddling all day and either will do a dash through our legs to get away or give us the paw, and not in the way you think either.

There is one clear and perfectly understood code: when her ears are pointing back and the wild look is in her eyes, hands off and get away!!!
Langenscheidt Katze-Deutsch/Deutsch-Katze: Wie sag ich's meiner Katze? (Langenscheidt ...-Deutsch)

A few days ago she started hovering around my legs while I was sitting at the computer and letting some cute meows slide off her tongue. Oh yes, hook, line and sinker. It didn't take more than a second for me to pick her up and she managed to just about squeeze onto my lap, purring and falling asleep. Funny, how she does it every day now...

Her ablutions are like clockwork and we are starting to know when she is about to go to her throne to do the business. As one of us straight away rushes to dispose of the #2's ( for hygiene and smell purposes ) I am afraid that she might start to interpret it as a new game. For us, it is a return to using the shovel in a sandpit and Maus tends to look at us as if we were mad...

As it is fantastic that she uses her toilet ( imagine if she didn't and preferred the vast space inside our house ), we don't want to make her feel ashamed of the smells that invariably are part of it. In fact, even though Bob almost wants to lose his dinner while digging it up, he puts on a brave face and tells her what a good girls she is.

Playtime, involves either a ball being laid at our feet or a string of short meows delivered with a frisky set of jumps. Easily understood.

How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language

The best of course is the fact that we could quite easily throw out our alarm clock. Come five o'clock, Maus gently jumps on my shoulders and starts to cuddle into my neck. If that doesn't wake me, the fact that in her manoeuvring she at times has her derriere in my face, startles me awake toute de suite...


Friday, 11 December 2015

Burgenland Murders...

A murder series in our own backyard.

Naturally as locals, we've know in advance that it would be shown on television last night. The first of a series that looks promising, divine and addictive. The Landkrimis, a whole lot of nefarious deeds done in the various parts of Austria, a smorgasbord of entertainment.

A few years ago my mum and I went to a talk given by a tourism fundi, in Oberwart. One thing that stuck in my mind was this sentence.

" Your part of Burgenland is tailor made for shooting movies. "
And how right he was. Within a mere minutes from us, there are undulating hills, green pastures that stretch for miles, romantic villages, forests and blue skies. Ideal to stage a murder series. The British have Midsomer Murders ( Inspector Barnaby in German ), so why can't we have SüdBurgenland Murders?

The first in the series last night, had the required top Austrian actors in it but alongside them, were a few of our local actors. Yes, can you believe it that in our little village, there are three actors who played in this movie? Bob and I were glued to our television and kept on shouting things like:

" Oh, look, it's Gabi. "

" Gosh, there is Tina and isn't that Michael from Deutsch Schützen? "

" This looks like Schachendorf. Remember we drove through there last week."
As you can see, both of us were ecstatic to see our stunning backyard on screen, along with our local acting talent. Just marvelous and we were proud as peacocks that our bit of paradise was shown countrywide. The typical Burgenland buildings, architecture and way of life. Not for everyone, but definitely for us.

Landkrimi-Set 2: Kreuz des Südens / Wenn du wüsstest, wie schön es hier ist / Der Tote am Teich [3 DVDs]

There was a scene in the beginning of the movie, showcasing the often almost foreign sounding dialect of Burgenland- Hianzisch-. The two cops from Vienna stopped in the village, next to two old women sitting on a bench in order to ask them for directions.

Even though they were all Austrians, the Viennese clearly didn't understand the Burgenland twang, and their expressions were priceless...


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Nature's Popcorn Almost Looks Good Enough To Eat.

A new surprise daily.

Almost looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be fun if we could just go out and pick a popcorn or two...
As with anything beautiful, this branch knows how to put itself in the optimum surroundings to be noticed.
As much as I like the sunshine, seeing the raindrops dangling precariously on the petals, twigs or leaves makes a rainy day an awesome day.
Just to show you the summery sunny side of nature, coupled with a blossom that could be nature's equivalent of a snow ball...
On second thoughts, the sunny side of life is rather nice. Snowballs in July, somewhere in Deutsch Schützen.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Forgetfulness Is Not The Sole Property Of Old Age.

Sometimes forgetting to do something might just be normal.

It almost seems like another punishment of growing older. The moment you forget anything, youthful relations tend to put you into a box. The box of forgetfulness and let's just hope they don't forget you in it.

Just this morning, I discovered yet another forgotten moment. For some reason I had not switched off the stove after cooking on it and it was on all night. Don't panic, it was on the lowest setting and nothing happened. Was I forgetful? Of course, but nowadays we have so many thoughts to keep in a juggling position, almost like flight controllers keep flights on course.

Most of us inundate our daily lives with just too many things. The promise of technology to make our lives easier, has actually done the opposite. All those smart apps on our Mobiles, take time to ponder, peruse and use. Precious mental time. Is it any wonder that we forget to do mundane and ordinary stuff?

It has been said that doing crosswords, reading a newspaper, playing cards and exercise will strengthen your memory and help prevent memory loss. Isn't it sad, that exactly these activities, which were normal and done daily twenty or thirty years ago, have been kicked out of many homes by the X-box, lap top, Playstation, Smartphone and digital TV. How will the current bunch of 30 somethings cope in thirty years time?

...careful about throwing stones in a glass house...

To be honest, forgetting to take out the rubbish, do the dishes or clean the bathroom could very well be Bob's attempt at blocking out some wifely nagging. Frankly, it is easier to dodge an unwanted chore by simply being forgetful...( let me know if I am the only one with an at times forgetful husband! )

In my time, I have done some purlers...have you ever done this or similar?:

I had just made a pot of tea and had put the carton of milk into the cupboard and the sugar bowl into the fridge!

One thing is certain, I will happily keep on reading, playing cards and going for daily walks...


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Apart From World Class Wines, We've Got Romantic Scenery.

Even without sunshine, there is beauty to be noticed.

It wasn't quite raining, but the fog was so soupy, that the tear drops of nature were forming on the branches. A cloak of mystery was masking or rather enhancing, nature.
Wouldn't you also agree, that many a Vampire Series could easily have been filmed here. As poetically romantic as the fog makes the forest, even I had a quick look over my shoulder in case a creature of sorts would appear out of the foggy nowhere...
Perhaps, this path is best taken with a friend. Not because of potentially running into Edward, Jacob, Damon or Stephen, but unlike Rome, not all roads lead to home......last seen heading into the woods...
The last surviving leaves, do so in a spectacular fashion. They are clinging on for dear life and they pepper the forest with a hint of colour.
A yellow beacon showing the way. Who needs breadcrumbs?
At first it is just twig with leaves, but on further contemplation, it is an entry way into your thoughts. Endless possibilities of happiness, which is what we all need in our turbulent times.


Monday, 7 December 2015

Bob Made The Local Schnapps Connoisseurs Taste Buds Dance.

The daily grind of de-pitting paid of.

Bob likes to frequent the Fisherman's Club House most Sunday mornings, along with a lot of his fire department buddies. Men only and that alone can make us women imagine a lot of the sentences being banded about:

" Can you believe that she ...?"
" Did you see the soccer match last night? "
" What do you think of this car? "

The funny thing is, that come noon, most of them rush off home as their wives are cooking a warm Sunday lunch. Roasts and the whole hog so to say. The Sunday lunch at home is sacrosanct and pity the fool who defies it...

Anyway, a week ago Bob was boasting about his own homemade Schnapps whereupon they asked him why he didn't bring it along. Fast forward to yesterday and Bob took a bottle of his Plum Schnapps. The plums from our garden, untouched by anything other than nature and lovingly de-pitted and stirred daily until it was time to be burned.

Well, at noon (!) Bob came home all excited and without his bottle of Schnapps. He told me that everyone tried a tot, not expecting too much. Until they took their first sip. They were pleasantly surprised at the smoothness and tastiness of Bob's Schnapps. Bob was pleased as punch when they all wanted seconds. In fact, one guy liked it so much, that Bob gave him the rest of the bottle to take home.

Bob is taking to life in Burgenland like a duck to water embracing it to the fullest. Making Schnapps, making jams and making good friends. When he was back in South Africa to see his family and friends, I think they were all secretly in awe at how much Bob has accomplished. He took a few bottles of his creations along as presents, and hopefully the lucky few will learn to savour them.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Vienna: The Charm Of The Viennese Captured On Celluloid.

The charming excellence of the Austrian Movie Industry: Vollywood?

Gosh, I can still remember the times in my youth, when I was addicted to watching Austrian movies. Those classics made in the 1930's and usually with that icon of Vollywood, Hans Moser. An actor in his own class and still bringing posthumous joy to countless movie fans.

Hans Moser Classic Edition [5 DVDs]

As you know, we have been living in Burgenland for the last 5 years, and as would be the same all over the world, counties are often denoted by the accent spoken. Even the villages in a 50 km radius from us all have their own distinctive patois. Imagine, poor Bob trying to get to grips with this...but he is!

In a way, my ears have always been attuned to languages and accents, which has been helpful to say the least. Of course it is easy to distinguish the spoken Austrian from the spoken German
( on paper they are the same ) but somehow, I can pick out a proper Viennese accent a mile away without even having to glance at their car's number plate.

Recently, Bob and I have had the pleasure of getting a six months series & movie subscription for free and we are in the midst of gorging ourselves on them. Luckily, there is a treasure trove of Austrian movies and series. The real McCoy! Many Saturday afternoons have seen me entranced with the charm of life in Vienna.

But, Vienna is a mere city of concrete after all, and it is the calibre of Austrian Actors, that make it so enchanting and enslaving. They are actors, who still act with expressions ( might they have escaped the Hollywood lure of Botox? ), mimics, shoulder shrugs and they all manage to emit in their own wonderful way that special something, which makes Vienna so great.

Often, the lives depicted have a touch of Utopia about them, but watching a bit of Trautmann / Der Aufschneider / Schnell Ermittelt makes me wonder whether we don't all try and make our lives more complicated than they are? Taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee, a small schnapps and or perhaps a glass of wine coupled with a bit of real conversation ( sans Smartphone ), can dispel many a dark mental cloud.

Trautmann: Die komplette Serie (Neuauflage) [5 DVDs]

As much as I have admitted to being a Viennese fan, there is one place the Viennese are not that attractive: Behind the wheel, they are a bane for us villagers...they drive around our gentle, quiet rural treasures as if they are back on the Gürtel or any other fast moving streets in Vienna...Perhaps the Viennese can learn a bit of patience from us humble villagers!

Viva Vienna...!


Aufschneider [2 DVDs]

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Bit Of Old Fashioned Slang To Start The Weekend.

As old as the hills...

Amen Curler
...A parish clerk.
Babes In The Wood
...Criminals in the stocks, or pillory.
Belly Timber
...Food of all sorts.
Blowse, Or Blowsabella.
...A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern.
...An upholsterer.
Christmas Compliments
...A cough, kibed heels, and a snotty nose.
...A mistress.
A Fart Catcher
...A valet or footman, from his walking behind his master or mistress.
...A dismal countenance. Before, and even long after the Reformation, Friday was a day of abstinence.
...A parson: from joining men and women together in matrimony.


Friday, 4 December 2015

Mad About Our Cat Or Just Plain Mad?

Who's the boss now?

It didn't take very long for our little Maus to have wriggled a permanent place in both of our hearts. Sometimes I wonder whether both of us haven't morphed into those parents who give in and buy the screaming kid that chocolate it screamed about?, because let me tell you, the little Maus has early on discovered her vocal cords and who to use them on.

When she wants something, she can put on a heart rendering performance of a string of meows, that has both of us run and do at her bidding. Hook, line & sinker

So far we've held on to the last bastion of privacy and our bed is off limits to her, but not the bedroom. When we do fall asleep, she tries to hop ever so casually onto our bed, but she has realized that Mummy is a light sleeper and has ears like a bat!

As Bob so wisely stated the other day:

" I bet you that when we both are asleep, she jumps on the bed! "
Of course I have my suspicions that if that were to happen, Bob would keep quiet...

The three of us have settled into a domestic routine and are loving it. She is a well behaved cat until the witching hour strikes and then, she at times joins them. Mad dashes around the house, squeaky toys ( don't ever buy those ) being hurled about, the odd crashes and then suddenly silence!

Recently, I have noticed how Le Bob mumbles a quick Morning Schatzi at me, but almost waxes lyrically towards the Maus, asking her how her sleep was and he then sits with her for ten minutes cuddling her. Even when he gets home from work, the main recipient of his attention is our little Maus ...

But, worldwide there are plenty of husbands who adore their cats and often more than their wives...perhaps because the cat doesn't answer back or reminds them about putting dirty clothes inside the hamper, or ask them to clean the floors?

All jokes aside, both of us love being cat people and even though we might seem a bit mad to some, there are legions of cat-lovers who understand the power of a strangled Meow, a gentle feline headbutt and a sudden unexpected cat appearance on the couch next to you, and staying there long enough to be cuddled...

Just in case you are wondering, we still have our Tigger and pamper her daily, but as she has never allowed herself to get closer than two meters to us, we've never had a chance to cuddle her.


Thursday, 3 December 2015

On The Morning Of The 1st Of December, There Was Only One Sound Heard In Our Village.

And very early in the morning too.

Children are notorious for sleeping as long as they can or rather as long as they can get away with and from it. It being a shout from the parental wake up squad. Coupled with this newly discovered craze of computer gaming, it seems to makes it near impossible to get a child up early.

Yet, I have heard from the various horses' mouths, that on the 1st of December, they couldn't wait for morning to come. The props that made all this enthusiasm possible had been lined up on bedroom shelves, kitchen sideboards and various locations around the house a few days before. Almost beyond temptation!

Oh yes, the mighty Advent's Calendar will have children of all ages agog for the next few weeks. Some have the old fashioned chocolate variety and some have the Lego type and a lucky few have both.

The first window to be opened is usually also the most exciting because it is still new. This Tuesday morning, the whole village was a backdrop to the ripping sound of cardboard and the

" Oh, look what was in my little window! "

Admittedly, even I was tempted to return to the environs of my childhood. Was there ever anything more exciting than that little bit of chocolate each morning? But, I have seen them advertise an Advent's Calendar for the whiskey loving crowd...a different bottle each day and why should we grown-ups not have a good time leading up to Christmas?

Secret Speyside - Whisky Miniatures Advent Calendar
Lego Star Wars 75056 - Adventskalender

The rituals of our childhood are so special and it really doesn't matter how old we are, the moment we see an Advent's Calendar, we are transported back to a time when we were the children and a time where life wasn't so fraught with this, that and the other.

We only had two worries to lose sleep over:

  1. Waking up early each morning in order to insure that our siblings didn't " mistakenly " open our calendar too
  2. and that Father Christmas would bring us the right gifts...


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

We Got A Present Of Chopped Wood.

Wood for the winter in perfectly sized pieces.

It was rather unexpected but welcome nonetheless. A kindly soul, who I have taken to the doctor's a few times, brought two trailer loads, full of chopped wood. As a Thank You.

When you consider that he is a septuagenarian, it is unbelievable to know that not only did he chop the wood into small pieces, but that he also felled the tree in the forest. A few winters ago, Bob and I had the opportunity to chop our own wood to size. On TV it looks as easy as pie, but in real life, it's not so easy. Never mind splitting the wood with the axe, the hardest part ( for me ) was actually connecting my axe with the wood. Needless to say, Le Bob was prudently out of reach...

Anyway, we have enough wood, correctly sized for our wood burning kitchen stove ( a relic from the previous owner of our house ) to make our kitchen cozy and to have many pots of soups simmering away.

We do have a pellet oven for the central heating, but somehow, there is nothing more cozy than an old fashioned wood burning stove. I still remember that my Grandparents had one of these stoves and there was a compartment for hot water somewhere on the stove top. I think it had a copper lid and knowing my Grandmother, it was polished and sparkling.

Cooking on any wood burning stove is not for sissies. There is no temperature dial to turn up or down, except for perhaps opening the air shaft a bit more and fanning the fire. A fried egg could become a surprise egg.

A few weeks ago, Bob and I went to a Buschenschank at a castle. Schloss Kohfidisch is about 10 km from us and having a quick brush with a regal ambiance is nice.

We sat in the old kitchen area of the castle and even though nobody was cooking on the stove, it was just so cozy sitting next to it and imagining the meals that had been cooked on it through the centuries.

Bob and I were having a lovely time at the, the plate of nibbles was Bob's and he was guarding it from those wifely fork-attacks with rather too much enthusiasm!
As you can see, this wood stove is huge, but when you consider that the castle has many wings, it is amply sized. If these walls could talk...