Saturday, 28 February 2015

Seeing A White Horse Brings You Luck, So Here's Something For You.

May your day bring only good things...

I stumbled across this fellow during yesterday's walk in the Eisenberg vineyards. My gosh, this stunning horse is full of character with a bit of cheek for good measure!
A model of a horse...full of fun too, as it looks certain that he did a liberal bit of rolling in some mud or his coat is changing from black to white. When the weather is a bit warmer, I will take a deck chair and sit for a while until I see this horse rolling in the mud. Those will be spectacular photos.
A classic beauty, don't you think?
" Hey, who're you looking at? "

As I had dozen photos by then, it seemed to me that he ( sorry, not sure ) was getting tired of me. Little does he know, that I will be back ...

A kind of zoom out picture...As you can see, the essentials of life are in the background. Oh yes, the vines.
His friends were roaming the paddock and could the reason he wasn't with them, be because he is a cheeky rascal after all?

I hope these photos will bring you oodles of good luck!


Friday, 27 February 2015

Winter, Really? Doesn't Look Like It In Eisenberg.

Some nice depictions of yesterday, another fabulous Winter's day.

As you know, my favourite colour combination is in full force. The chill that does seem to hang in the air was definitely there! The gentle curve of the road to Eisenberg is almost hypnotic.
The same place but about 90 degrees to the left. Deutsch Schützen would be to the right of this picture, and straight ahead is the Hungarian village of Grossdorf. A cat's whisker away and still on the Eisenberg itself.
A closeup of Kroatisch Schützen's village church.
A bit later, about mid morning our little Tigger did her thing. A pose, preceded by a guilty look. Yes, Bob and I were on our way to Oberwart.
A chicken yard somewhere in Hannersdorf ( a village about 10 km from us. ) When I see and hear happy chickens, it makes me consider having a chicken yard of our own. Yes, these chickens will be gracing the inside of a pot at some stage, but at least they had a life of running wild. When you buy a chicken from your supermarket or discounter, it might be better not to imagine the life it had...
The rooster prancing around and ordering his entourage to stop looking at me. For a minute they all ran to the fence in glee and excitement. As I didn't toss a morsel to them, they soon turned away...


Thursday, 26 February 2015

One, Two, Three And Your Pet Has Got The Key To Your Heart.

A tale of a couple and their cat...

Somehow, Bob and I never thought that much about pets until we moved here to Burgenland. A good friend of ours had a whole household full of pets and as nice as it was to visit and cuddle the dog and odd cat ( they are those notoriously fickle lot ), we went home and never gave it much thought except to pull a few dog or cat hairs of our clothes.

As you know, we have grown extremely fond of our Tigger. Yes, she is our darling and rules our roost. Just one of her glances, and might I say, that they are worthy of a few Oscars, has us in parental bliss or guilt. Should we dare leave too soon to her meal time without giving her a meal, she can expertly mimic a guilt-inducing hungry look and languish on the lawn as if too weak to do much else!...Oh, that little rascal.

To be honest, a few times these looks have worked like a charm and I reopened the house to feed her early. How can I not, when she looked oh so endearing and cute. As much as Bob gets the mutters, he willingly waits while I feed her and there has been many a time, when he nudged me not to forget Tigger.

Like any actress, she knows her cue and has made a big plank of wood ( conveniently positioned opposite our kitchen window ) her daily perch...come rain or shine. Clearly, she remembers the odd occasion when we did forget to feed her. Never mind that our garden is a natural Deli, worthy of any cat's taste and cravings.

I got home late yesterday afternoon and it was way past her feeding time. Even though I hadn't seen Bob all afternoon, the first thing I said was:

" Honey, have you fed the cat? "
and why wouldn't he...Bob is as besotted with our little feral Tigger as I am. In fact, the two of us have this little competition of who our cat gets closer to. Oh yes, she has got us wrapped around her little paw.

If you have ever shopped for pet food, you'll know that the pet food isle is almost longer than the baby food isle in any supermarket. Clearly we are not the only pet lovers, crazy enough to pamper their little treasures. Goodness me, you can even buy diet cat food ( gosh, what next? )...but rest assured, we haven't crossed that line yet, and our little pet gets nothing too special.

Over the years, I have kind of learnt that she prefers 3,5% Milk and only because she left any milk that was less fat. But, with food, I have become a strict Mummy...if she doesn't finish her food, I won't put more in her bowl until it's empty. She only tried this once or twice, and now her bowl is empty when I get to fill it again...

P/S: We love our little cat.


Our little darling striking a pose.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Why Can't A Soccer World Cup Be Held Twice In A Row In The Same Country?

Where is the common sense?

Every four years, a country rejoices and starts building like mad to entertain soccer enthusiasts for a mere four weeks. Of course it is a tremendous advertising affair for the host country and some will make oodles of money although it seems that the main " oodler " of money still is FIFA.

The 2010 World cup was a success for South Africa on the one hand but what about now, with unused stadia and debt still being paid off? The average man in the street is still waiting for the proverbial gold raining down upon the FIFA chosen country! Or in other words, they are waiting for the amenities that were promised to them for relocating ( a BBC report ).

Gosh, I can still remember someone telling me, that in Pietermaritzburg ( which was not a venue but an hour away from the Moses Madiba stadium ) where she had a small B&B, she had to agree to up her prices by about a third and also to hand over money to FIFA for every client had during the world cup period, or she wouldn't be put on the official list of accommodations...even if it was an urban myth, a bit of truth still remains. Even domestic airlines upped their prices!

Not many countries have made a pure profit from one of these major sporting affairs and even the Olympics is questionable. We all know that at the moment, Greece is in financial turmoil. Greece has hosted a recent Olympics and why can't they be chosen to hold a few choice tournaments right now? One way to help financially.

When you start to look at the impact a World cup has on the environment ( interesting article in Scientific America ), we should really demand that any venue gets used a few times in a row despite all the promises that all building of stadia is environmentally friendly.

At the end of the day, white elephants are built ( eg in Cape Town, Nelspruit and shockingly in Manaus, a town located deep in the Amazon. There are reports that the latter stadium will be used as a detention area to help with already over crowded prisons ) that are only used for 4 weeks. Again, 4 weeks only!

Wasting resources and money, when so many are going without is not a nice thing to do...and that is why I am wondering,

why we can't reuse stadia a few times at least?

Yes, even writing this, I know it sounds naive given how intricate and bundled up the money making FIFA machine is, but yesterday I heard a former Finance Minister say that at the end of the day,

it all boils down to what his mum taught him...don't spend more than you have!
Often we do make things so complicated that a humble teaching from long ago does make more sense. Why should we build more, when we have so much standing idle and empty?


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Inflation In Theory Is Only Understood When We See It In Reality.

A bar of Lindt Chocolate.

Flitting through my Twitter feed yesterday, I happened to see that I that a bar of Lindt chocolate cost R 40,99. The R standing for Rand, the South African currency.

It's been almost four years that we have been in Austria and when I thought about this some more, I remembered that when we left, a bar of Lindt was more or less R20. Ouch indeed, that is a 100 % increase in price...

Of course Lindt is a luxury item and not everyone eats it. Yet, it sends a loud signal and I would love to know whether local salaries have also increased along with it. I am not naive, never would it increase 100 % but maybe 50 %?

Now for the extremely interesting part:

Looking at the prices of a bar of Lindt chocolate here in Austria, I found that they fluctuate between Euro 1,59 to Euro 1.89.

The exchange rate of Euro to Rand is about 13 and that makes a bar of Lindt chocolate ( if you were to buy it in Rand ) cost form R21 to R25.

Rather amazing that it seems to cost almost as much to ship it overseas, taking into account that the price of a bar here in Austria does include the supermarket's mark-up!

Now that the price of crude oil has almost halved and for some time too, it might be interesting to find out whether the price at the pump has dropped accordingly?

Often the world of finance and economy is overpopulated with words only understood by a select few. If the veil of mystery where to be dropped from what, let's face it is a simple buyer and seller concept, more of us would understand and maybe not accept everything placed in front of us.

I tend to believe that the world of finance is changing...that incessant greed permeating it, is being dismantled one brick at a time. Instead of watching a soap opera in the afternoon, try watching any of the business channels.

You'll know when a brick is being dismantled, by how upset the various presenters the moment, the fees earned for recommending a pension plan in the USA being one of the bricks in question!


Monday, 23 February 2015

What, You Don't Sleep With A Broom Next To Your Bed?

Move over urban legend... rural necessity has arrived!

There are many ways to catch a monkey, and of course there are many ways to sleep at night. Before your mind does a bit of a hop, skip and jump into those shady grey areas, let me clarify: One can sleep comfortably, alone, not alone and sleep through the night.

Of course, sleeping through the night is not always granted to me as my mind seems to think it's time to get up, even if it is one in the morning. Fair enough, one learns to adjust.

Somehow, life seems to be determined for Bob and I to embrace the rural lifestyle with both hands. Our problem with a few mice having an outing in our home is known even beyond this blog...the other day I met our local " cat woman " ( no, not Michelle P, but the lady who looks after stray cats... ) and merely hinted that we were interested in having a little kitten.

" Oh, that's right. I have heard you had a mouse problem! "
clearly the cat's out of the bag!!!

Mice having a field day in your home seems typical for a rural setting and we are sorting that problem by getting a little kitten. In fact, Bob and I are already discussing the possible character traits of said kitten and hopefully it is a well behaved one.

The last few days, we have been getting a few hints from above. Not the celestial type, but the ceiling type. Thankfully, both of us knew that what we heard wasn't ghostly but rather ghastly. Something is crawling around on top of our ceiling and no, it isn't our darling feral cat Tigger. Although, in an effort of tough love, Bob and I are discussing whether we should not feed her a day or two.

Calm down, it isn't an act of feline torture, but let's not forget that an outside cat should control her fiefdom...mice in the roof should be an appetizer for her and if it is a rat, then that clearly is the main course. At the moment she is so lazy and moves slower due to her middle age spread.

At first it was merely a bit of a scratch here and a running there above our heads. Definitely the calm before the storm. Our little resident ( mouse, rat or marten ) has gone crazy. It will spend at least 30 minutes scratching like mad right above us in the ceiling. The most awful sound and I kind of expect our ceiling to develop a hole soon.

Bob gets so irate, that instead of watching Tatort he is busy creating his own. Last night he spent a long time knocking the broom handle on our ceiling along with a string of choice words. In a strange way it was rather funny. There was Bob swearing and using the broom for anything but sweeping the floor and I got the distinct feeling that whatever was up in our ceiling, took this knocking as a sort of game.

The more Bob knocked the more this little bugger scratched around. Eventually, I made Bob realize the futility of this game and casually mentioned that he would have to climb up there during daylight hours to see. Gosh, he was so irate that the thought of getting the better of this twit in our ceiling made him agree to an excursion up above ....which means that yours truly needn't go up into a dusty ceiling.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Exercise Or Meditation In The Vineyards, You Be The Judge.

A Nice And Arduous Saturday Afternoon In Deutsch Schützen's Vineyards.

Friday still saw us do a stint of gentle meditation. Pruning of the vines was the order of the day. Nice and gentle indeed. We lived in the moment and thus didn't give a thought to the twigs of vines that were artistically chopped off and thrown on the ground. Well, I did have a distant memory of what would be the outcome, because we do pruning every year...

Rows of vines seem endless and once they're pruned, little heaps of branches amass on the ground waiting to be collected. If you've ever picked up a bunch of branches, you'll know that they all have a mind of their own and getting them all facing the same direction is far from easy. Picking them up and carrying them to the trailer is an exercise in perseverance and stamina.

My mum and I did that chore while Albert and Bob drove numerous times to the local organic refuse dump. Also no mean feat. Somehow, I think it classified as a meditation affair, because even though it was arduous work ( bending down, picking up sticks, walking back to the trailer 50-60 times ) the time flew and before I knew it, six o'clock was not far off.

The sheer joy and fun of living in a small village is always present. As we are a small village, most of us know what car the others drive...who is where and with whom! When a friend drove passed and saw our car parked there next to the vineyard, she naturally stopped to shoot the breeze. Gosh, we lead a brilliant life.

The only photos I took where on the last run to dump the vines. Bob, being the gentleman he is, let me watch from the side lines and I took the opportunity to snap away.
At least you can see the big pile of vines that my mum and I had picked up and carried to the trailer. This morning, my muscles are staging a protest and remind me of yesterday's workout every time I bend down and get up...
Sorry, I couldn't resist...Bionic Bob in action!
Twisting 90 degrees to my left, I was rewarded with this beautiful view of Deutsch Schützen in the distance. A nice and gentle path leading to it. You can just about make out the vineyards in the distance. A lovely afternoon ending with the sun dipping ever so slowly.
Turning 90 degrees to my right, afforded me the back view of eh, Hö and the turns we take.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Meditation In Suedburgenland Takes On Many Interesting Shapes And Guises.

You know, a yoga mat is optional!

Meditation in one of its guises. Naturally wine is a part of it and contrary to popular belief, it isn't always necessary to sip a glass to become reflective. A sunny and warm day in February means being able to go about pruning the vines. Gumboots were a must because it was rather muddy and even a light weight would have sunk into it...The only heavy machinery I lifted was this pair of pruning shears.
As a relative novice, I still stress terribly about which twig to give the old chop! Golly gosh darn it, I kept on thinking about the outcome of a wrongly chopped vine...less wine to sip in Autumn ...My mum showed Bob and I the art of pruning and each year we retain more knowledge. There are the legendary Super Pruners in the village, who merely go through the vines and chop, snip and cut, while someone else goes after them and disposes of the cut vines ( No mean feat trying to separate the cut vines from their uncut cousins...those tentacles are hooked solidly on the wires ).
Bob was in his element...he was so quick this year and was yards ahead of me. He's on his way to maybe, possibly and certainly be inducted into the league of Super Pruners in the future.
Have you also noticed how breathtakingly divine
most vineyards ( worldwide ) are cosseted by beautiful surrounds? Nature in top form and you can understand why it classifies as a type of meditation and definitely a privilege...the sun is on your cheeks and the only thoughts bouncing around are whether to cut this or that vine.
A in the moment type of eh, moment.
Now for the other gentle meditation: our area in Südburgenland is a mecca for bird life. The trees and shrubs are teeming with birds of all sorts and who needs Twitter, when you have the real tweets outside your front door?
Life here is so tranquil and nice, that even the odd bird or two is entranced by it...This one seems to be meditating.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Could There Be A Changing Of The Guards Outside That Citadel Called Capitalism?

There are more ways to skin a cat but one...

Goodness, you'd think the Pope had come for a visit, the way this bit of news was covered by the financial media. Of course it is a big deal to raise the minimum wage, the way that Walmart has finally done.

The debate is still open whether it had a bit of an altruistic motive behind it or if it was a realization that workers are important. Let's favour the high road on this.

Did Adam Smith envisage a society where the general workforce could not even afford a lot of the things they helped produce? A free market is good, but how free are our markets when one considers that most politicians are helped to their office by the generous support of lobbyists.

He who pays the piper chooses the tune...
might be mere conjecture but could have an inkling of truth to it. Why does it matter? Well, government puts the rules in place where the gladiators in the capital arena can do their thing. Who is favoured by most of the laws and who gets a few road blocks put in their paths?

Another little fissure is the fact that some big public companies want to return to the tranquility of being private. Dell, for one has done so and can now focus on their customers and staff, instead of always having to worry about satisfying the shareholders with their incessant thirst for more dividends every few months.

Raising the minimum wage to a threshold, where workers can live comfortably, has so many positive implications.

( If I was king for a day, I would instantly pronounce a reasonable jump in every one's wages...let's not forget, that every worker is also a customer. Wouldn't you like your customers to have the money to buy your produce? )

We all know that things made in China are very inexpensive. Be they food, clothes or machines. Once you don't have to stress about making ends meet every single month, you can afford to buy items made locally. Every time you do, you help lessen the environmental damage and even help create more local jobs.

There is nothing wrong with capitalism, but it must be a fair one. At the moment, it has a slight likening to that era before the French Revolution...a lot of Sun Kings with even more hungry and exhausted workers enviously watching from the gloomy sidelines.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Cook Your Own Food From Scratch And Help Save The Planet!

Try and give frozen foods a rest for a while.

As you know, I was lamenting about the use of the microwave oven and what it means for real food. Of course a lot of you are extremely tired and exhausted when you come home from work and still have to tackle homework, household chores while producing a meal for your loved ones along with an occasional peep at your online social life.

When you buy any frozen pizza and notice how inexpensive they are, do you ever wonder where they are made and where their ingredients are sourced from? Most frozen pizzas have more air miles ( carbon footprints galore ) to them than your favourite celebrity.

Grace Foundation: Taking a bite out of Climate Change.

The cunning factory management source the cheapest components for that pizza, because they have to make a profit for their owners ( shareholders etc ) . They kind of absolve themselves from any blame, by merely saying that we, the consumer, wouldn't buy a frozen pizza made with less well traveled ingredients. In other words, they think we are cheapskates...and you know, they are not that wrong either...but we can change, can't we?

  • Tomatoes usually from Italy. When a pizza costs less than a Euro or two, how much do you think the tomatoes cost? Remember, they need to be harvested ( using cheap labour ), collected and transported to the pizza making factory.
  • Garlic, is grown cheaply in China and that adds a lot of miles onto your pizza.
  • Salami and ham on top...draw your own conclusions. Maybe it is time to return to our neighbourhood butcher, because he can tell you for sure where and how his salami or ham is made!
  • Flour and the stuff that makes it plyable and moist...Palm oil.

Palm oil is one of the worst contributors to climate change. Reading up on this Article from World Wild Life Organization, made me see that each of us can make a jolly big difference to help stop climate change.

Did you know, that our buying habits fuels the palm oil industry to such an extent, that in order to grow more, the Rain Forests get the chop, as this is a good place to grow palm trees.

There is only one force stronger than any government...

The consumer, each one of us has power.
and somehow, we have forgotten how powerful our own opinions and behaviour is. At the end of the day, it is we, who have to make a choice whether we buy well traveled food, or whether we buy local, or at least closer to home.

Ironically, buying closer to home, might reinvigorate jobs, jobs that had left for foreign climes... Shopping responsibly is not often easy and gosh, I have bought plenty of well traveled stuff.

Even if we only buy one or two things responsibly per day, just imagine the outcome for our planet...and how many local jobs we would re-create!


Just to show that we make our own pizza...Bob is the pizza chef in our house and his pizza taste divine.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Do You Still Cook Meals Or Do You Belong To The Wavers?

The micro & non micro wavers...

Hands up, if you remember a life before the microwave came onto the scene? Those good old days in the 70's and 80's where cooking still meant taking your time and where we knew how to cook.

Believe it or not, there is a generation of us, who still had home economics or rather cooking at school. A required subject, where I can just about remember how to make rock cakes ( although even my scones at times qualify as rock cakes and could be used to break a window ) and that deceptively easy white sauce...the one without lumps.

Microwaves have been given the goodbye wave from me many, many years ago. Food never tasted the same or it was so darn hot that you'd burn your mouth. Personally, I tend to think that the microwave is not good for our health. Why else would they warn you not to stand in front of it, while it is in operation?

It's funny how as a married couple, Bob and I tend to think alike. The other week we were invited to a birthday bash held at the fishing club house. We sat at the end of the table, and suddenly the hostess went to an old contraption standing on the windowsill behind us. A jolly old microwave. As she was putting bread ( Agh, bread from a microwave!!! ) in it with the required wooden spoon to keep the door closed, one of the other ladies piped up:

" Oh, that is our old microwave. We had it for 10 years and gave it away a few years back. "
Suffice to say, that both Bob and I tried to nonchalantly duck out of reach from the microwaves...

Cooking eggs in your jolly awful. Eggs fried in a pan on a stove are beyond the pale. Yet, the extreme waver is far from rare. Popcorn, toast, bread and cakes to name but a few foods made in the micro by the wavers.

Ready made meals that merely need to be pronged and popped into the microwave are everywhere in our supermarkets. Good lord, have we been brainwashed into preferring their chemical offering over good old fashioned homemade meals? A proper stove, electric or otherwise might sadly morph into an ornament. Kitchens in homes are getting smaller because no one cooks much any more.

A space for a fancy capsule coffee machine and obviously a microwave seem to be the main considerations for a modern kitchen. Even the sink has shrunk. I defy you to find a double sink...less cooking and a proliferation of dishwashers have shrunk the average sink into a small sized affair where you couldn't swing a big pot around.

Luckily, my dishwasher is top notch, most efficient and friendly and rarely rumbles...Le Bob

When you walk passed those offerings of artificial food and look at a label of those " just pop it in your microwave " foods, the list seems never ending and all these E's and exotic numbers of the various ingredients surely can't be good for us?

The art of cooking is more than producing food to eat. Cooking is relaxing, cooking is fun and cooking ranges from the mundane spaghetti and mince, via a pizza ( homemade from top to bottom ) to maybe a Sunday roast complete with Yorkshire Pudding.

The list of what we need to pass on to the next generation is growing: Reading for the sheer joy of it, knitting and now cooking...


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Some More Wintry Aspects Of Eisenberg In Burgenland.

Nature, nature oh glorious nature...

Even when the pond is frozen over and snow is covering the landing, it looks one hundred percent romantic. Sitting in your waterproofs sipping a glass of wine or maybe rather a shot of Schnapps, might not be a bad idea...
It does look like a moon lit lake, doesn't it? Alas, it is a close up of an iced over path...treacherous indeed.
The path in question...the road to Eisenberg seems paved with ice and maybe good intentions too!
An outlaw in the bird society. This one stood still long enough for me to raise my camera and click away. A rascal indeed.
A crow inspecting its talons, or being glad to be apart of the other murder of crows whiling the morning away in the tree next door.
This particular tree, in the Deutsch Schützen Weinberg, intrigued me. It almost looks like a nappy ring....
One of our neighbour's horses. Our area is made for riding horses. I love walking passed his place because that distinct horse manure smell is unique. Horse riding is associated with the fables of our childhood. The prince of any Grimm story didn't arrive by a Mercedes, but on a sturdy stallion...


Monday, 16 February 2015

FaceBook Is So Much More Than Just A Social Place To Share Your Meal & Utopian Dreams.

Facebook, a modern genie of sorts.

Let's be honest, we have all had to wade through a mountain of meals partaken by our friends. Pictures of meals had and cappuccinos sipped at various shopping centers are strewn all over the news feed and make us ponder the great disconnect!

What about that other loiterer of news feeds? The perfect storm of Utopian dreams of expats is ever present. The pictures of a seemingly joyous youth spent in bars ( luckily not behind them ) and venues no longer there, the " When We " string of conversations of expats mingled with unflattering comments about the weather of their new domicile and of course the last leg of that perfect storm that feeds an imaginary but constant feeling of not belonging where you should...photographic homages to recent holidays taken and the joy had.

Goodness me, we all know that what happens during a holiday is never reproduced in real life. When expats visit back home, of course they only get shown a slice of what they are one wants to look like they made a mistake not leaving when you did.

Isn't it ironic, when for years people do everything they can to get a chance to emigrate and become a member of that elusive club of Expats, once they are, the crocodile tears flow for the life they have left behind. Not fair to the country that took a chance on you, is it?

But as usual, I digress. Facebook has a lot of good sides to it too. Yes, it sometimes is jolly hard work getting to the bottom of your news stream ( or can one? ) and just like in school, the popular ones get all the support or likes.

Facebook only needed one little red number to reaffirm its ingenious way of keeping us befriended with it for a long time to come.

A friend request came through last night. An old ( not that she is old ) friend sent it to me and instantly made me recall happy memories of way back when. Facebook, when you think about it, is that one social media that can reconnect you with old friends in a way that no amount of letter writing can.

So, despite all the grumbles about Facebook every now and again,

I have to say a big Thank you to it.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

All For One And One For All.

And I am not talking about the Three Musketeers either!

As much as most of us tend to live as if the world is just there for us and our own enjoyment, we need to catch a strong whiff of reality. Whatever we do affects someone directly or indirectly.

Let's take the easier problem first and I can't believe I said easier, but alas it is.

We all know that the Mother Earth is hurting. We shake an angry fist at fate when there is a fatal fire, earthquake or storm, yet we are not prepared to do anything about it.
This incessant hyper consuming has to stop. How much more do we all need and to be blunt, when you are faced with losing your life due to a fate from nature, all the stuff in your house means nothing.

Even the simplest bit, each of us could do without, being too " Inconvienenced " such as recycling, is not done by all. Perhaps having a rubbish collection strike is not a bad thing after least you can see the rubbish / garbage piling up outside your own front door.

If you keep on saying that it makes no difference if you recycle or not, have a look at those new glamorous islands floating in our oceans...Isle de Plastique.

In case you are still in denial, fish that you eat ( from canned tuna to fresh fish ) have been feeding on this lot. Draw your own conclusions.

But now for the worse problem. A problem that affects us all even though, again we think we are safe in our lounge chairs looking at it from a safe distance.

We need to find a way to end all those new wars taking place. Has history taught us nothing? How much more painful must the lesson be before we take notice? How many more people need to lose their homes, livelihoods and lives before we say:

Enough. No more. Do something or we vote you out of Government.

What is worth so much, that it warrants the lives of so many? And by the way, why are nations still allowed to produce the weapons needed to fight wars?

What we do to others, we do to ourselves...


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentines On A Saturday - Oh How Convenient.

The day of endless possibilities and broken dreams.

Woe be the man who has the gumption to forget Valentines Day in regard to his true love. Or so it has been made out in folklore or rather the media.

Valentines is one of those momentous days where even the petrol station sells out of iffy bunches of flowers. The type of flowers that look almost artificial and pronounce loud and clear to the recipient that it was a close call.

Bob and I were reminiscing about our school days and the pressure of a Valentines day. Yes, quite horrid to live up to expectations. Unless one was part of the A-team at school which neither of us were, ( the jocks and pretty slim girls, who by the way mostly lose their lustre after school ) there was no guarantee of receiving one of those so longed for Valentines cards or a rose dangling knowingly on your desk.

Fast forward to work life, and I can recall many Valentines Days where spouses of co-workers, only by the skin of their teeth managed to send a public display of love. A gift basket, a card or a bunch of flowers. In order to keep up appearances of a happy relationship, a few hushed phone calls were placed to a hapless husband.

Name me one person who is able to resist the lure of a bar of chocolate or even a fancier Valentines creation of it, but still, the strength of a relationship should not depend on this one public day.

That person by your side through life, the one that is a constant in your thoughts deeds and actions, even in the odd fight or two, doesn't need an annual reminder of your love....

...but a daily one. Those little thoughtful gestures we make daily are what it is all about.

  • Making coffee first thing in the morning and bringing a cup to them.
  • Opening the gate for your love just before she gets home from work, to save her getting out of the car.
  • Making soup when the other spouse is too sick to get out of bed and secretly phoning a parent to get the exact recipe.
  • Holding hands in public....even after being together a long time.
  • Going for a long walk together.
  • Showing kindness to others, because that is one of those deeds that makes one feel fuzzy around the heart...

So, if you went all out and bought flowers, chocolates or lingerie ( men, don't think we are fooled by that! ) by all means, hand those rare treats over,

but please don't forget the true Valentines Day...Everyday!


A Burgenland, or rather Eisenberg bunch of red roses.
Complemented by a white rose. Eisenberg has many treasures...

Friday, 13 February 2015

Who Knew That Fifty Shades Of Grey Is The Colour To Have?

The many shades of it...

Talk to any Hairstylist and you'll get a sense that grey is their favourite colour for the simple fact that grey can and should be coloured. Hiding grey is a raison d'etre of hairdressing...

Call me behind times if you must, but isn't this whole affaire d' grey slightly jaded? I could have sworn that all the hoopla over the many shades of Grey ( okay, 50 to be exact ) had happened already a few years ago? Clearly I have been in a slumber because now it is topic of choice on most talk shows....Enough already!

Apart from colour, those slightly off colour movies or novels tend to have numbers in them. Before a whole generation went into euphoria over the various hues of a dull colour, another generation went misty eyed over a movie called: 9 1/2 Weeks

Mention that name and most men will start recalling Kim Bassinger and her moves. Fair enough, she was and is a stunning looking woman. Most of us ladies of a certain age ( 40's ) on the other hand, had moments of swooning over Micky Rourke, yet when you look at him now...gosh, what where we thinking?

Back in the 80's, there was no Internet for the masses. No Amazon to spare your blushes. If you wanted to see a slightly off colour movie or read a racy book, you had to go in person to buy it. Taking out a movie such as 9 1/2 weeks meant facing the barrage of knowing smug looks from the student behind the video rental place. Yes, DVD's were still far far off.

Technology has made it easier to avoid knowing leers and that might account for the instant success of the 50 Shades of Grey novels...

The other day I read a news story that told of the increased incidents of accidental injuries in the bedroom, due to many fans of 50 Shades of Grey trying to copy certain paragraphs in it? True or not...

...but what was so funny, is that often the local fire department was called out to help and I can just imagine how Bob would react if he had to be called out to disentangle a pair of villager trying to recreate the 50 Shades of Grey...


Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Warm Covering Of Moss Wrapped Around A Tree And Other Wintry Looks.

A bright and colourful forerunner of Spring perhaps?

This beautiful, yet slightly skew massive tree is at the edge of the forest between Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen. The emerald green was so vivid and intense as if the rays of the sun kissed it awake.
To you it might just seem like an ordinary forest scene, but when you've walked through a wintry forest, you realize that spots of colour are very rare and when they do occur, they lift the surrounding elements of nature to another level. A level, where the whites are whiter and the browns more ochre.
A very inviting place to rest, don't you think?
The green thread that keeps running through most winter scenes while at the same time making sure we don't get discouraged. Spring does seem just around the corner.
Without the green thread, winter still gives us these amazing collages. The blanket of innocence.
The most sturdy plant in our garden, or rather outside our front gate. As it is a shrub, I tend to forget to water it, which sort of ties in with the fact that I never see it once I am inside our garden. Yet, it thrives in the most adverse conditions and yesterday, it fairly emitted oodles of cheerfulness.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Perhaps A Quote?

Interesting people indeed.

" Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory. "Benjamin Disraeli on Biography Contarini Fleming 1844
" Authority intoxicates / And makes mere sots of magistrates; / The fumes of it invade the brain, / And make men giddy, proud, and vain. " Samuel Butler ( 1612-1680 ) Miscellaneous Thoughts 1680.
" When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason has left them. " Willa Cather ( 1873-1947 ) My Mortal Enemy 1926.
" And certaynly our langage now used varyeth ferre from that which was used and spoken when I was borne. " William Caxton ( c. 1422-1491 ) 1490.
" He was a verray, parfit gentil Knyght. " Geoffrey Chaucer ( c.1340-1400 ) The Canterbury Tales Prologue.
" And then my heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils. " William Wordsworth ( 1770-1850 ) ' I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud ' 1807.
" The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age be contested without danger. "Mary Wollstonecraft ( 1759-1797 ) A Vindication of the Rights of Women 1792.
" Mrs Ballinger is one of those ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as if it were dangerous to meet it alone. " Edith Wharton ( 1862-1937 ) Xingu 1916.
" All the reasoning of men is not worth one sentiment of women. " Voltaire ( 1694-1778 ) Maximes.
" If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us. Hermann Hesse ( 1877-1962 ) Demian.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Sign Of The Eisenberg Times.

How time flies when you're having fun.

As you know, Bob and I have been privy to a few half century celebrations lately and sometimes it almost seems that the whole village has turned 50.

This latest celebration was rather nice. An open invitation to all and sundry to help celebrate his first innings of the game and it was scheduled to start at 2 pm yesterday. A time that Bob and I had marked in our social calender.

As luck would have it, by lunchtime the snow had made a reappearance in alarming proportions indeed. The flakes kept on joining their flaky cousins on the lawn and when we left for the birthday party, ten centimeters had accumulated already.

It might not seem a lot to you, but when you either slip slide down your driveway ( hoping not to connect with the gate on the way out ) or testing your car's ability to spin a wheelie up the driveway, it does become a problem. Just as well we left after an hour, because we spun our chariot's wheels three times before getting the chariot into its abode.

Anyway, we arrived to such a warm welcome and despite the elements of treachery on the roads, his place was packed and filled with a joyful mixture of conversations between the guests. Well, guests who are all friends who have witnessed the various happenings of his first innings.

Gosh, even this early in the afternoon ( it goes without saying, that the party would have only finished this morning ), there were at least 30 people there. A great testament to the Birthday boy. When we found a seat at one of the tables, it and all the others were laden with wine ( he is a vintner too ) and morsels to accompany them. Wow.

But that was merely the beginning. Caterers were offering traditional hot food, cakes had been baked in various styles and wine was flowing in abundance. To be included in such a warm and precious environment was such a wonderful thing for Bob and I.

The cherry on the top was a local special edition of the Eisenberg newspaper ( Der Schoaga ), dedicated to the Birthday Boy's life and those along side him, at the various stages of life. A glimpse into a family. A glimpse into a life of friendship and a glimpse into those seemingly mundane occasions in life, which really turn out to be the best parts of life.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Bob Made Bread Rolls For Our Sunday Fry-up.

Necessity is the mother of all inventions.

Sundays for us are always started off with a nice English style breakfast or at least part thereof, such as fried eggs on toast or bread of sorts.

At the moment, the Alpine Skiing World Cup is being held in Colorado. This World Cup is as important to us fans, as the Soccer World cup is to football fans.

However,there are several flies in the soup, starting with the time difference from Colorado and ending with the mistaken viewing times of the repeat races printed in the TV program. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are simply stunning to see but frankly, when the races are so late in the evening ( last night was at 10 pm ), it is only with extreme effort that I stay awake for even the first 5 skiers.

On Saturday evening we were at the AGM of our Fire Department and fair enough, it was important and worth missing the Men's Downhill race for. But I knew that there was a repeat broadcast on Sunday morning. Goody. With determined dexterity, which did involve the manual covering of my ears when someone blabbed the results, I managed to avoid any and all news of the results and planned my morning to coincide with the 9.15 am start of the program.

At 8.35 I was ready to go to our local shop for a few bread rolls and which would still leave enough time to make breakfast on my return. For some reason, I switched on the channel to have it ready and set.

I nearly fainted when I saw that the third skier was already hurtling down the Raptor piste. Oh, steam was coming out of my nostrils and it took me a skier or two to relax and enjoy the event.
...if I hadn't listened to my inner voice, I would have missed it. Nice one indeed, Eurosport or
Die Ganze Woche. One of you needs to check your schedules!

But back to the breakfast scenario. Bob saw with one glance that there was no way I was going to fetch any bread rolls. With a second glance he realized that snow was falling in alarming proportions and made the decision to make our rolls.

While his wife was focused and unmovable in front of the television, he quietly but with determination made his first ever batch of bread rolls. Wow, isn't he great? The best part of it was that all I had to do, was show up at the breakfast table and sample the delicious rolls.


Sorry Ladies...this man's spoken for!!!
Oh yes, it looks so scrumptious but tasted even better when a lashing of butter was added...

Sunday, 8 February 2015

As Ordinary As We Are, The Libations In Eisenberg Are Divine To Say The Least.

Dining, pot-lucking, feasting or re-pasting in our village is always accompanied by the most delectable wines.

As the proud wife of a newly minted fireman, I do show my support and attend the odd function and last night it was the AGM. As with most AGMs, they can be rather boring for the non-involved but thankfully not too long in duration.

Naturally, the Eisenberger Fire chief put on a spread afterwards or rather we all trekked up a very long and icy hill to the Grenzland Keller and please don't worry, we all motored ( or rather convoyed ) up by car. A buffet was organized and as the meeting was extremely brief, we were ahead of schedule.

The hungry feeling ( it was almost eight pm ) provided a drumming background noise as the various stomachs did their grumbling. Of course not all was lost as the tables had the wines already opened and one could almost imagine their whisper of :" please pour me...". Wine is as freely flowing in our area as I imagine fresh milk is up in the Swiss Alps.

White wine it was to be and even though we are in the depth of winter with multiple minus degrees, the wine was kept chilled in a clay wine cooler. Only the tip of the green bottle peeped out and no one bothered with checking the vintage.

Tasting this divine libation was a nice way to while away the time till supper. From the first sip, the wine showed its class, smoothness and flavour.

Sitting on a long table with all eyes focused on each other, just in case we missed anything of importance, I was rather reserved and filled my glass to a ladylike level...two finger's worth once or twice.

The food was good, but of course not fitting to complement the superb wine on offer. We had a choice of Vienna Schnitzel, roast pork or fried chicken with rice or chips. As I said, it was good food but would have paired better with a bottle of beer.

Honestly, the wine was much more pleasing to the palate before the food and luckily for me, I have the acquired habit of sipping my wine before supper and only paired with some cheese or savoury biscuit.

Just as a couple of centuries ago a young Englishman of good stock would do the Grand Tour, so Bob and I, in our youth, had done the required tour of most wine estates in South Africa...the Grand Tours Of Stellenbosch and Paarl! Cunningly they paired their tastings with morsels delectable in themselves, yet paired with the wines, they lifted the taste sensation to another level. Clearly a worthwhile education

At the moment, the libation of Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen are world class, but imagine how out of this world they would taste when paired with a fitting morsel of food?

Last night's wine was from a young and rather handsome vintner, Mathias Jalits, who is producing award winning wines.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Children With Dyslexia: Powerhouses Of Inner Strength, Dignity, Diligence And Intelligence.

They can teach us a thing or two...

In the past, the term dyslexia was always more of an abstract to me and something one reads about only now and again. Life has a habit, that is if we are fortunate enough to be open to it, of showing us traits in others that we can aspire to. Or at least be aware of.

There are two boys that I am privileged to do extra English lessons with them. As you might have guessed, they both have some form of dyslexia. They have to really make an effort to put some of the letters in the correct order to form words.

Homework for them is not a quick thing. It takes time and hard work for them to finish their homework, but here's the thing, they finish it even if it is late at night.

Exams of any kind ( except the verbal ones ) are a fearful and scary thing to deal with. Yet, they do them and if they achieve a pass mark, that is a huge achievement. Not everyone can be an A grade student. One of the boys moved up a grade from fail to pass and I was so proud of him and awed at his persistence and jolly hard work.

Most parents are aware of the huge work load schoolkids have nowadays. When they come home from school, often almost buckling under the weight of their schoolbags, they have a quick lunch and then get cracking on the numerous homework assignments they get each day.

Now, imagine doing all this homework, where just reading through the assignments and material saps all your energy? Never mind having to learn for tests...and by the way, why do they put major tests in various subjects together like book ends? Dear teachers, have a care!

The irony of all this is, that contrary to popular belief, a dyslexic is highly intelligent, even brilliant. Yet, other kids in their class often make fun of their spelling mistakes or their taking more time to learn and often being in that group that skirts around the school abyss of not passing a test, exam or school year..

Einstein is of course the most famous dyslexic, but alas, a lot of kids nowadays aren't aware of who he was. But, I have found my secret weapon....

I asked both the boys, whether they had heard about the man who had invented the iPhone
( yeah, that got their attention )? Well, I told them, the man who invented the iPhone, was also a dyslexic who had the same problems at school as they have...and look what he achieved!
and you know, I know that the two boys will go extremely far in life and not just because they are intelligent, but because they are learning those all important ingredients of success. Diligence, hard work and persistence.

Anyone who has to go through school dealing with dyslexia has my utter respect. We can all remember how cruel our classmates could be if we looked different, dressed different or spoke different...imagine how many young kids have to face the ignorance of their classmates when it comes to being different due to dyslexia?


Friday, 6 February 2015

Collective Nouns With A Modern Twist Are Still A Marvel Of The English Language.

Give it a century or two and this list will become classical and delightfully old fashioned & quirky!

As fun as these collective nouns are, I think they are important to uphold and keep circulating in conversations. Everyone and their Aunt Fanny ( or Bob's your uncle ) write texts most days. Little ditties that no one thought necessary twenty years ago, a time where we saved up all the good bits of news for when we met someone.

Oh yes, meeting for a cup of coffee was ever so exciting and refreshing as we hadn't heard any of the tidbits yet, unless we used that pre-historic instrument called a land line telephone.

Gosh, whoever started that awful business of texting with the words wrangled, abbreviated in the most inappropriate ways and replacing letters with numbers? Really, they should have rather entered the signals or code breakers. Getting a text with each word beautifully balanced in its setting and of course with a full compliment of letters is turning into a rarity.

Being able to simply talk and write a sentence with all the ingredients to make it a proper one will become a lost art and ascribed as an eccentric's occupation. An eccentric complete with bow tie, suit and leather satchel.

In the same way we have a Meat free Monday we should have a day a week with no abbreviations or substitutions in any form of written language.
A Word-ly Wednesday perhaps...

Here are some more Collective Nouns, ones that are thought of as dashingly modern:

  • A shower of meteorologists.
  • A clutch of car mechanics.
  • A flush of plumbers.
  • A scoop of journalists.
  • An impatience of wives.
  • A ponder of philosophers.
  • A body of pathologists.
  • A complex of psychologists.
  • A horde of misers.
  • A virtue of patients.
  • An annoyance of neighbours.
  • A brace of orthodontists.
  • A billow of smokers.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Collective Nouns Lend The English Language More Flavour.

Very poetic and lovely to hear.

Bob knows most of them and more importantly remembers them whereas I get them through osmosis... Bob's niece is close to being a newly minted teenager and ever so keen on knowing most collective nouns. All in the family, it seems.

Here are a few of my favourites, espied from this website on collective nouns.:

  • An unkindness of ravens.
  • A murder of crows.
  • An intrusion of cockroaches.
  • A flock of lice.
  • A glide of flying fish.
  • A rhumba of rattlesnakes.
  • A babble of barbers.
  • A shuffle of bureaucrats.
  • A hastiness of cooks.
  • A blackening of shoemakers.
  • An eloquence of lawyers.
  • An unhappiness of husbands.
  • An imposition of in-laws.
  • A promise of barmen.
  • A goring of butchers.
  • A disguising of tailors.
  • A stand of flamingos.
  • A surfeit of skunks.

Let me know if some of these made you smile as well...


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Subtler Shade Of The Burgenland Blues.

Burgenland's winter wonder land needs a standing ovation.

The subtler shades of our vivid Burgenland blue has an attraction of its own, especially when it is showcased by the powdery offering of a cold winter morning.
This photo shows Hungary on the horizon.
A frozen branch, yet it still looks fantastic and tempting to hold.
If it weren't for the odd looks that passing motorists cast my way, I could have stayed there for hours. Maybe not as long, as it was a bit on the cold side.
The central feature of all village life in Burgenland and neighbouring Hungary...yes, when you let your eyes wonder over the terrain, it isn't long before you happen upon a Church.
The idea of romance meeting you at the end of this lovely path, holds true in all of nature's seasons.
This lone tree next to the watering oasis created for the thirsty and weary bicyclists and walkers, happens to be in front of the chapel of Deutsch Schützen. A blending of the subtle shades of a Winter's morning.
Last but not least, vines that almost seems to touch the heavens reminds me in a small way, that wine is divine...especially Burgenland wine! ( link to the online wine store of our area)


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Burgenland Blues.

The above & beyond of Burgenland.

As you can see, the blues make everything else pop out with fervour and magnetism.
Braving the icy cold of a winter morning is not for the faint of heart. We have been reacquainted with the awesome iciness of a day starting in the minus'. Somehow, I tend to only notice the first plummet below the zero mark, and frankly, if it does go to the next lower level ( - 8 / 9 / 10 ) it is still cold...once your fingers start to numb, they stay numb.
We were blessed with one of those typical Burgenland sunshine days ( yes, sunshine for about, give or take 300 days per year ) that made everything more included.
The rustling of the branches made me look up. Who would have thought that such tiny birds could make the branches serenade? Honestly, it took me a few tries to get these photos, because the minute my jacket made a noise they chose the high road and fluttered off. Luckily for me, only for a few wing flips and then they perched again on their branch of choice.
" Where's everybody? "
The motley crew assembling for a morning gossip session. These blue skies are the proverbial manna for that winter weary feeling.
This Burgenland blue is so stunning with that certain Je ne sais quoi that it should be trademarked. Just love it and the beautiful setting it provides for everything.
The four friends assembling to take it all in. Maybe they were discussing the best place to find a worm at this time of the year, or they were hailing Bob as a good chap...
" Guys, you must try Bob's place. His sunflower seeds are in endless supply and first rate! "