The changing pace of an autumn day.MAM-Baby products manufacturing plant. A world wide company, right here in a neighbouring village in Hungary.
Words have such import, subtle nuances and of course many meanings. That is premised on our understanding the language in the first place. Well, yesterday I got a taste of what it might be like to understand no words at all.
Our chariot had first draw in the level of importance once again and we were at a car-spa in Hungary. Part and parcel of being a car owner. Well, we set off, unsuitably attired as both of us still thought we were on the edge of summer. No, it was bitterly cold and the Hungarian Pusztas tend to be a touch colder. Bob was in his usual long and short T-shirt combo and I had a T-shirt plus jacket. Not enough to keep the cold morning wind out of our hair.
Bob and I tried to stand in the early mornings sun's rays and at the same time avoid the strong winds blowing. Eh, rather fun! Anyway, we had to wait an hour before a cafeteria, adjacent to the garage opened up and while we were doing this sun-spot dance, a teenage cat ( we can't really call it a kitten ) befriended us. I think she was intrigead by our hopping about and joined in the fun.
At last, the coffee place opened and we were able to sip a cup of coffee and sit inside. Warm and cozy. They didn't have food, but a big screen TV, which we watched. All morning. The shop manager must have felt sorry for us, because two hours in he came and gave me the TV remote.
A jolly nice gesture, but little did he know that we were merely watching the pictures and actions. Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn ( even the written words look extremely complicated ) and I have the utmost respect for the young children in our village who are bi-lingual. German and Hungarian.
One young lass, who comes to us for English, is in fact tri-lingual. Can you imagine that? She uses a Hungarian-English dictionary and at nine years old, can speak and read Hungarian even though she goes to an Austrian school. Wow. Triple wow!
We watched a lot of TV yesterday morning and even though it was in Hungarian, we both recognized a soap-opera straight away. In those dramas, the language tends to be implicitly understood by the actors' expressions. The diva, the protagonist, the hero, the damsel and the evil one.
For me personally, it is so amazing to see how words can form a language and of course a tool to communicate with. Different countries defend their individuality with insular words and spelling. I also gained even more respect for Bob because when he came here to Austria, most words were foreign to him too.
...Never make fun of a foreigner speaking your language in a funny way, because he can speak one language more than you...
A word has so many facets and it can be arranged alongside other words to make the most divine meanings, sentiments and essays. The mere word has power behind it. Words and their use of them, defines us as a society.
A friend gave me a book by Melvyn Bragg The Adventure of English and it is fascinating to follow the long journey of the English language and its adaption in order to survive.The Adventure of English. The Biography of a Language (Sceptre)
Even the French language has been partly absorbed and tweaked in order for English to have longevity. I find it so interesting to see how the various words we use today came about. Take the phrase old codger for instance. Centuries ago, the wealthy ( mostly royalty really ) had the ability, money and time to do sports. Falconry being one of them.
In these times, the gentry spoke French while the serfs spoke English. So, in Falconry, there used to be an elderly man who carried the hawks in a cage ( cadge ) and that might explain our use of the word ( old ) codger!
Despite the language changing during the various centuries, it has survived as a language. Well, by that I mean that we can use word and string them together to form a sentence or sentiment. Words in their entirety. But, here is where the future of languages might be under threat.
The main communication at the moment seems to be via social media and often done via a Smartphone. In itself that should be fine yet, words are getting abbreviated, letters dropped and prose left out. When you only communicate in bite ( or should I say byte ) size chunks of 144 character, the beauty of our languages will cease to be.
The abbreviated from has taken hold with the youngsters. Numbers have morphed with letters in pursuit of more space.
Great = gr8
Lots of love = lol
Liebe Grüsse = LG
As Far As I Know = ASFAIK
Before = B4Some of these have crossed my keyboard and they shouldn't have. When you think about it, in that short blink of a moment in history, a new language has and is morphing. The language of Internet.
Do you remember those times at school where you had to read a book for class. A book in the old language of the middle ages? An original Shakespeare or a Goethe, where you had to focus on each line in order to understand it. These old texts are not like a novel that we can read without looking up the meaning of words.
It worries me, that the young people of today will look at ordinary novels as works that need firstly a dictionary and secondly lots of persuasion to read. Somehow, the love of reading which has already declined, will dwindle into a trickle and the ability to live an adventure through the pages of a book, might be lost. And how sad would that be?
I think it was on Tuesday that I got a SmS about Yoga. Would I like to go? Heck yes, definitely. Saturday afternoon where most of us hanker down to a romantic comedy on the telly, saw plenty of us congregate in the village hall. Ready and dressed for our first yoga session.
I find it fabulous, that in our small village, the siren call of a yoga lesson was so well heard. Gosh, even our teacher was surprised at the turnout for her first lesson. One could tell that she was a good yoga diciple because she exuded an air of tranquility and peace, one that only serious yoga followers achieve.
Owning to a missing bit in my knee ( a scalpel happy orthopaedic surgeon in my teens ), doing certain yoga bends was out of my league. But, not a problem as I merely sat these exercises out. I wasn't the only one with slight problems as I heard the word sore hip in the front row. Isn't it funny, that as we get to a certain age, we revert to childhood with a show & tell scenario, alas now it has more to do aches & pains with the odd titanium hip replacement thrown in for good measure!
The whole room morphed into a tranquil and peaceful environment even though most of us were novices. It might have something to do with the various Sun Dogs / Greet the Morning etc positions as they were jolly difficult to do. Concentration deluxe all around. Not even time to see how the floor neighbour was doing it.
There is something so awesome about being in a room where the energy is positive and calm. Normally when there are exercise classes during winter, the air is usually full of chatter and giggles, but not yesterday. The teacher's calmness transcended on all of us and we all looked rather relaxed when the lesson finished.
As I said, as small as our village is, we pack a punch and we have a better turnout for a yoga lesson than most big cities do.
Luckily they only give you so many lives over a certain time or rather, so many attempts to solve each puzzle. Otherwise, what feels like minutes might turn into hours...
Candy Crush Soda is a game, a game which can be played anytime and anywhere. I play it the old fashioned way, on my computer but it can be played on any Smartphone of course.
The game seems simple enough and often it is. With dexterity you can rise up the levels and each time you reach a new one, it shows you how well your friends have done before you. I tend to say Wow! while Bob tends to say How?
The thing about Candy Crush Soda is that often, a particular level in the game seems insurmountable. Being stuck at a level for more than a few weeks ( even though you try every day to pass it ) is not unheard of. There are times that I wished the game to Jericho, and even asked Bob to pass the level for me. In a way I am glad he also couldn't do it, because when all of a sudden ( weeks later ) I do some moves that change everything and get me to the next level, it feels amazing. A feeling of success!
The trick is to never give up. Just keep trying and eventually the problem gets solved. Isn't that what we should do in life?
Keep trying, show up, but never give up!
There are times in all of our lives, where it all seems so difficult and near impossible to get passed a problem. But, here is the thing, just trying, showing up and never giving up eventually can move mountains, and move us into the next level of our life.
Looking back, it often seems that those times where you thought your problems are insurmountable, are the times where you learned the most about yourself. Those are the times that shape us and reveal our inner strengths...
Isn't it the job of kids to deny any and all homework? Especially when the lure of playing X-Box is dangled like a participle in front of them...
" Look, you can only play once you've finished your homework. "Stands to reason that often there isn't one!
It used to be that we all had the often mysteriously disappearing homework book. A book, where you had to write the homework to be done and in which your parents had to sign daily. Sign, to see that firstly you had homework and secondly that you had done it! That was back in the day, where we tried to ditch the tedious bore of doing homework, for either playing outside with our friends, watching television or reading novels
When we were children, it was best to treat us accordingly. Expecting most of us to be grown up enough to do our homework without being checked, was just silly. When in Rome, do ...When a kid, do ...
Nowadays, teachers are giving homework, without a safety net of parental signatures. And right there, parents are thrown into the role of detectives...
" Do you have any homework? "is often denied. Well, until a moment in the week, rather a common moment used by many, when the truth is uttered, often accompanied by tears. I'm not sure who does the crying...the kids or parents.
That fateful moment...oh yes, Sunday evening! Suddenly, after the X-Boxes and Playstations have been overused, sanity returns and the truth gets revealed. Projects, essays and pages of sums get put on unsuspecting parent's shoulders.
Somehow, I can imagine that some teachers might sit on a Sunday evening, sipping a glass of wine and chuckling to themselves while imagining the furious workload of parents.
As with anything older, it needs more T.L.C. and our car didn't want to be left out. The annual C.O.R. test had to be made and even though we grumbled and moaned, I could have sworn our car loved all the attention.
There is nothing wrong with keeping a car that is more than a decade old and I am not in the habit of changing a car because a trendier one has been launched or for the frivolity of " Keeping up with the Joneses ". Anyway, our Diesel Chariot has many miles still left in her.
A silly encounter with a pebble while driving, had made it necessary to replace the windscreen and we had the scheduled appointment yesterday at 8 am in Güssing. We also knew that it would take until 4 pm to be ready. At first Bob and I planned to take a bus back home but quickly discarded that idea when the relevant connections weren't there.
We decided to treat our day in Güssing as an adventurous mini holiday. Suddenly, what seemed like hours to be killed, were opportunities to explore. Like good scouts, we were prepared. Instead of a handbag, we took one backpack and filled it with a book each, sunscreen lotion, lip ice, Bob's business flyers,bottled water and of course the wallet. Both of us wore our walking shoes and were actually looking forward to our day.
We discovered a lovely bakery that had a breakfast buffet. Coffee, various bread rolls, ham, boiled eggs, spreads, juices, yoghurt, muesli and more for 6 euros per person. Nice. The bakery was rather busy and one of Bob's firemen colleagues was also having his breakfast there. Running into friends and acquaintances is a sure sign that we are growing roots. Divine.
After breakfast we walked to a suburb of Güssing to hand out business flyers. Gosh, we discovered a whole new side to the town. Wonderful old villas with spectacular views all around. Two hours later, saw us resting on a shady bench in the town square. With the marvels of technology, we phoned my parents and organized for them to meet us for lunch. For us it was a nice way to spend part of the day and for them it was a nice change to their day.
Before we met for lunch, Bob and I still walked up to the castle, more for something to do than to see it. We normally take our visitors to it, so that is why we know it so well.
We meandered around town until we met up with my parents for lunch. When was the last time you met anyone in your family for lunch? For no other reason but because you could...It was such a nice change from the norm, and we kind of felt like tourists ( with the backpack and sturdy shoes, we rather looked like them ). After lunch, my folks drove back home and we walked to the garage. They did offer to drive us, but as we had still a few hours to kill, we decided to go on foot.
Funny, when you think about spending seven or eight hours walking around a small town, it seems at first daunting. But it turned out such fun for both of us. A day to spend together without the distraction of computers. A day to walk for miles. A day to discover new places and a day to be grateful that we have a car....
Being a lady, I tend to drive at a lady-like speed. Not quite Miss Daisy's but as we all know, the tortoise gets there too. Those very rare occasions that I am allowed to drive Schatzi around, the odd comment about my lack of speed or the imagined closeness to the edge of the road gets banded about by him. Cheeky, isn't he? Fair enough, I have heard that several husbands like to do this.
Often, Schatzi drives me about and the only comment I might drop, is about exceeding the speed limit!!! An angel indeed...Well, recently, I had to remind him to speed up. Driving around our village, he has taken to almost idling along. Idling along and sticking his head out the window.
Bob's enamoured with making his own Schnapps and it is a good thing to make instead of buying. We do have ample fruit in our garden but alas, not the correct fruit for his Schnapps adventures. Peaches and Plums are of vital importance to Bob. The few plum trees our garden has, have been stripped of plums, but they were not enough to fill his barrel.
Just about everyone has apple, peach and cherry trees but the plum variety is scarce. To make Schnapps, you actually use the plums from the ground. The overripe, dropped fruits are perfect as the sugar content is higher.
Driving around our village, Bob's been busy playing plum detective and keeping note of who has which trees. As Bob isn't the only plummer in town, a lot of plum-tree drive byes are happening. No, you can't just pick up the plums but you need to ask the owner's permission first. For all you know, he has been hoarding his stash to make his own Schnapps.
Bob hit the jackpot yesterday and found a plum tree bursting with plums, and more importantly a friendly owner who didn't mind Bob taking them. When Bob got back from his plumming trip, he was grinning from ear to ear. His barrel was filled and the homemade Schnapps not too far off...
A big barrel of fermenting plums only yields a few liters of Schnapps ( prime quality of course ), just in case you were hoping for a bottle in the mail!
Life in the country just keeps getting better and better...everyone knows how to drink Schnapps, but not everyone knows how to make it...and organic Schnapps to boot.
Have you ever wondered what might have happened if you had perhaps taken a left turn instead of a right turn, or had gone to this pub instead of the other one, that your life would have developed differently. A whole new set of circumstances, people and experiences.
Sometimes we fight so hard to swim upstream in our life. It feels like we have gained some distance and whoosh, suddenly we are back to where we started our upstream workout. Time almost wasted. What if life just wants us to go back and drift the other way? Go with the flow, so to speak.
Do you also get those days where all the traffic lights are green? Not just the on the road but in other areas too. Work that seems to go easier than expected, a parking lot right outside the shop, having great ideas and generally just feeling good. What or who then causes our traffic lights to turn red?
Here is the million dollar question: Are we the ones on the switch of our personal traffic lights? Is it our thought pattern and behaviour that puts barriers into our road? The other day I was privileged enough to hear a webinar with Eckhart Tolle.
If you have read his books or heard him speak, you know that he emphasizes on the destructive power of our ego's. Yes, that inner voice that constantly tells us that we are what we have, what we do, what we look like and what we know. when in fact, we are not!
I tend to think, that if we learn to ignore our ego, our traffic lights will automatically switch to green and take the struggle out of an ego driven life. Of course, learning to ignore our ego is not so easy, as our egos are " ruling " the world at this time...
BiggiPracticing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from The Power of Now
All that training does pay off and yet again the Eisenberg team did fantastically well. Gosh you guys, it is becoming a habit!
The various competitions might sound like fun, but don't forget what they actually are. In the competitions the men have to show how fast and accurately they can get the gear into use to douse a fire, to save lives. Ingenious really when you consider that most villages don't ( luckily ) see a lot of fires. But through these competitions, they are current, fast and on the ball for emergencies.
It's all very well having a firetruck, but knowing how to use it and the equipment is the most vital part of saving lives.
Naturally, the various villages taking part in these events are extremely competitive and after the prize givings, there is robust boasting among them. And why not, they train jolly hard for it. Don't forget that most of the villages have volunteer firemen and any training gets done in the evenings or on weekends.
Above and beyond!
The last time Bob's team were placed, Bob was given the team's trophy to bring home. His sanguine team members had an inkling that it might impress me enough, not to moan like a fishwife about the fact that Bob was only coming home at 2 am...Eh, it did the trick.
Last night, even though they won 2nd place and a trophy, Bob didn't bring it home. No need to, as he was home and dry by 10 pm. I did deliberately say dry, as the competition was a Nass Bewerb and this time around, they used water. Sounds easy, but if one coupling is not connected properly, either no water runs or all the water comes out in the wrong place.
Well done, Eisenberg Fire Department, you are amazing.
When you actually think about it, only one artist of our youth has morphed, spandexed, accumulated and kept up with the times. Back in the 80's a few laughed and labeled her a flash in the pan / one off, but she has proven to be a leader in music. Oh yes, the one and only Madonna. Like her or hate her, she is successful beyond the pale.
She accumulated and separated herself from the pack, while others like Duran Duran broke up and reformed but never to the same popularity or band members. Silly really, as we all bobbed along to their tunes with great pizzaz. Young men all over the world tried to have a Simon Le Bon - Do and it drove men into the hairdressing empires for more than just a short back and sides. Scores of young men braved being seen with a thick rubber cap on their head...The " Highlighting " had taken hold.
Since then I haven't often seen nor heard of them except for bits in Hello! ( a magazine which specializes at depicting a casual lounging of stars, models and royalty in their homes. So natural that only coiffed hair and designer clothes will do. Just like us normal lot... ) Oh, and of course when they did tributes to the 80's and showed those iconic videos of The Reflex & Hungry Like The Wolf songs. I bet you anything, that in your mind you are already humming the opening lines of both.
The comebacks are piling up and it seems that Duran Duran have brought out a new album. The cynic in me tends to think it might be correlated to a bit of living-beyond-their-means but, it might just be that they have more music in them.
The youth of the 80's ( eh, us ) are in our 40's and if you are anything like me, listening to the music of now ( granted, some is good ), is rather like that infamous sound a chalk makes running the wrong way down a blackboard. Yikes. So what can we lot listen to? By now we are a bit fatigued with listening to The Reflex for the thousandth time, and as we are now the middle aged moneyed lot, buying their new album is not a problem. Even if we don't like it.
Funny, Bob hates it, while his older brother loves it. But then, he was one of those guys, who tried to copy the Simon Le Bon-Do along with rolled up jacket sleeves...well, who else do you think is going to be part of the Eighties 2:0?
Weather, weather and some more of the same is what makes everything happen in the vineyards. It determines how good the grapes taste, how big and prolific they are and of course when we get called up for harvesting. Even though summer is over, we did get a late reminder yesterday as it was 30 degrees and perfect for picking.
All morning the troupes gathered and tractors could be heard everywhere. I find our wine area rather authentic as almost all the bunches of grapes are hand picked. In the movies it tends to look rather romantic but it is jolly hard work. Grapes like to grow on a slope and once you've picked them, collected them in simple buckets, you have to carry them to the road.
Despite all the grumbles, picking grapes is nice work and I find it so amazing that a mere bunch of grapes can make great wine. We've most of us grown up believing that factories and supermarkets make food and beverages. Wine has been made for thousands of years and not that much has changed in the making of wine.
Grapes plus time equals wine...
At the end of our harvesting, Bob and I were outside the wine cellar ( Kellerstock ) cleaning the various utensils with high pressured water, when one car after next, filled with eager pickers, drove by. Remember, in our village, seeing more than three cars pass one after the other, is akin to a traffic dilemma. Smog is luckily unheard of here.
To harvest the various vineyards, and some of them are huge, friends help out. It is an unwritten rule that you help each other, and naturally your friends ( or family ) get chosen first. Once you know who owns which vineyard, you can easily work out the social circles of our village. Miss Marple would have had a field day.
Picking grapes is an honour and let me tell you, that there are legions of big city wine lovers, who take a week off work, in order to help with the harvesting. An authentic, soul refreshing, humble, exhausting, wine filled and yet fantastic holiday.
So really, what would you take in your backpack? We've seen the pain and suffering on refugees and before they have even arrived anywhere, they had to make a choice. What to take of a lifetime of possessions and experiences. The other day I was waiting in Oberwart and saw some refugees waiting for the bus.
There were a few young kids about four years old, in the group. The one girl had a colourful backpack on her shoulders. One of those My princess or so and it got me wondering about what she had chosen? A favourite teddy perhaps or a colouring in book? Quite sad to think of this while most kids battle to walk into their bedrooms because their excessive amount of not-interesting-anymore toys are scattered everywhere!
So, what would you take if you had to?
As you can see, the list is endless but the space of a backpack is oh so small. Remember, you will have to carry this for many miles and many days. And don't forget, all this is carried with a feeling of fear, sadness, hope, anger and hopelessness all bundled together.
The way this crisis has unfolded has so many aspects to it and so many rights and wrongs with it. Collectively, we will solve this crisis and suffering, not tomorrow but soon.
As for your life in a backpack...
Next time you buy something, ask yourself if it is important enough to be taken in your backpack...if not, perhaps don't buy it!
I should have known first off when I saw the new English text book for the school year. The first chapter was obviously an exercise in musical expressions and terminology and they chose The story of the iconic Beatles.
Assumptions are bad things indeed and about halfway through the homework exercise I asked:
Oh, by the way, you have heard their songs, haven't you? "
" No, are they any good? "To say that I was speechless for a moment is an understatement. The Beatles are as much part of our background as some of our family members. Haven't they been there accompanying us through our life, either on the radio or on the turntables of our youth.
Who doesn't get transported back to their younger days when hearing a song by The Beatles on the radio? Just reading the story and stumbling over the various song names, made me hum the entire song in my mind, almost word perfect. Need I say more than...
Yesterday / Help! / Can't Buy Me LoveBeatles in Mono [Ltd.Release]
Clearly, Yesterday is an aptly named song of theirs as even to translate the term Record Label into German posed a problem...the teenagers of today have never seen a record and if only it had been named a Disc Label..!
I tried to explain the magic, revolutionary and just plain nice music of the Fab Four to him and asked him to download ( it even hurts me to write this, as the music sounds more authentic if heard via the medium of a record player ) one of their songs, and make up his mind if he liked their music.
The funny thing about the Beatles is that when I first heard their songs, they were already classics of an older generation. Bowie, Madonna, The Cure and ELO, Status Quo and Wham! were more with it, but still the magic of any song by the Beatles was trans-generational, at least for me. But then, as Bob likes to point out to our friends, I love Frank Sinatra and his music too.
Yesterday I read somewhere that tablets and laptops pale into insignificance when you compare it to a Smartphone. Think about it, your Smartphone is closer and with you more than your significant other half.
The time we spend in our daily virtual world is an addiction and just like sugar addicts get another hit with a cookie, so do the virtual addicts get more of what they crave through the virtual cookies.
Those aptly named and rather ingenious cookies are really bits tailor made to your tastes. Things you like and use a lot, will be dangled in front of your eyes via ads and so forth making it a virtual vicious circle.
We all know how hard it is to get the better of any form of addiction, and perhaps this new-age one might be the hardest to break.
So, just imagine going on your virtual lent ( however long it might be ) and suddenly being inundated with time. Spare time, that you normally dedicated to swiping a finger across the little window in your hand. Time you normally spent with virtual friends can now be spent with real friends...friends that can come over when you have a problem or who can meet you for a cup of coffee.
If you have young children, imagine being present and actually looking and listening to them during a meal? Yes, it sounds rather harsh, but don't you have your eye on that vital message coming through from your virtual ( never to be met ) friends, instead of focusing on the most valuable possession in your life...your children?
Remember that old story about the frogs? If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will instantly jump out but if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, he won't notice and thus perish without fight in the pot...here is my question, are we like the frogs being put into the cold water?
Be honest, at first you actually wondered why you should have and use a Smartphone, but now you are so addicted to it, that you can't imagine a day without it.
Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank by our addiction to the Smartphone as we now can and do shop 24/7...
They say that after doing something new for 21 days, it becomes a habit so perhaps we should aim at getting to 21 days of virtual lent. Well, a virtual Smartphone only lent.
Do you ever wonder if you would be happier without being connected all the time?
At least I chose a Saturday afternoon for it. This marvelous and rather not so well known activity of doing nothing. The lawn can wait, the laundry hamper will survive and the dust is rather happy living another day on the shelves.
By pure chance we discovered that on top of watching our TV programs through the art of streaming via the internet line, we now have a bonus subscription to six months of Unlimited Series. Friday night I realized that we now have a smorgasbord of locally flavoured series waiting to be watched. Need I say more except:
Vier Frauen & Ein Todesfall / Winzer König & Schnell ErmitteltFlipping or rather learning to use the fancy remote we also espied a lot of American series. The usual suspects, yet they were dubbed into German...until, both of us discovered a magic button, a button that suddenly changed every word into its original English. Hooray.
Back to yesterday afternoon and my frivolity. Bob was not yet ready for this frivolity and was busy cutting a hedge of the side of a house ( not ours ), so I chose this solitude to laze on the couch and watch a batch of Perception. Pure bliss indeed.This constant need or ( is it guilt ) of being busy doing something, makes us stressed out. We all need to learn that we are allowed to just do nothing.
Bob came in to tell me that he was going to help his friend down the road, and I merely waved a vague goodbye. About two hours later, the phone rang and it was Bob. Just in case I had wondered what had happened to him ( eh, I was so engrossed in my series, I hadn't ) he told me that he was at the little fishing dam watching his friend fish.
For some people, fishing is a bit like watching paint dry and yet for others it is the best thing out. Bob was in his element and when you consider that fishing is a form of stillness and not doing anything but watching the waters, Bob too had discovered this marvelous state of doing nothing...
Perhaps we would all be a bit more content with our lives if we took the time to actually sit still and enjoy it...
I'm singing in the rain...
Our area has an unofficial neighbourhood watch ( and frankly I am just as guilty of it ) as nothing, and I mean nothing happens without someone noticing and commenting. Rather nice, I think.
Walking around the last corner up to our driveway, I saw our neighbour busy weeding his driveway. He hadn't seen me yet but I shouted a loud greeting and went over to shoot the breeze. When he asked me why I was walking, I mentioned that our chariot had been seen to all week. Oh yes, he had been wondering if Bob and I had gone away as our garage was empty all week!
We talked a bit more and then the generational schism or divide went from idling to second gear. His wife had come over to chat too and he went back to weeding ( in fact, he was pulling the bits of grass from the corners of each cobble stone ) with the same fervour that my generation uses to change the channel while lazying on the couch.
I have come to realize that there is no way I can glean as much happiness as my parents generation have in doing these odd jobs around the house and garden. Weeding, scraping, painting, cementing, excessive cleaning etc...My mum is still praying and hoping like mad that I will wake up one morning and decide to morph these chores into my favourite hobbies....Sorry Mum, I don't think it's going to happen...yet.
She had a brief glimpse of me being fast tracked into the Keep Everything Tidy State of Life, when Bob was first courting me. Bob is a typical Leo and very neat and extremely tidy in some aspects but in other's...not so much.
Anyway, I mentioned that when Bob had helped me wash dishes, he even wiped all the counters, hung the dish towel neatly to dry and put everything away in its proper place... My mum was convinced that I had met a perfectionist and that he would get my untidiness into ship shape. I swear, that I heard her chuckle and she might have mumbled a Hallelujah...Well, don't we all exaggerate our good points during courtship?
Through the ages, this divide has and will always be there I think. Phrases such as
" You know, in my day that would never have been..."
"Our generation still knows what it means to work hard. "
Each generation feels that inner guilt when we don't measure up to our parent's ideal and who hasn't done an extra bout of vigourous cleaning and or weeding etc when parents come around to visit? To try and forestall the...
" Oh, are you just going to leave it like that?"Memories are short lived and even my parents jumped through the hoops when my Grandparents came to visit...
Even now I could kick myself because the day I was privy to this delightful show, I forgot my camera at home. Yip, dreadful but never mind. It started off with a walk from the Deutsch Schützen Hall and even before I saw them, I heard them.
Walking towards the country lane that meanders beautifully between the various fields I heard a tractor. Nothing unusual except it was going at a faster speed than normal. A big tractor with its trailer brim full of crushed maize. The only reason I knew it was crushed maize was the fact that with the speedy driving, bits were being caught up in the wind and floated down to the ground in front of me, almost like a prelude. At least I solved that particular puzzle. There are sporadic bits of crushed anything on the various lanes.
If you've ever seen a combine harvester, you know they are huge. Huge and rather scary when one comes towards you on an open road. Best to pull over and let it pass. Most of the times its fangs take over half of the oncoming lane in any case. You actually get to hear a combine harvester driving before you see it. It gives off a grumbling roar of engine noise, that trumps a mere tractor by far.
As I turned the first corner into the country lane, I stopped in awe. Well, at first there was a tad bit of caution and dare I say had a healthy respect for those huge fangs. The driver lords it majestically in his driver's sofa, so far up in that tiny capsule and just in case he has a blind side, I stopped a very safe distance away.
Just as well I could stand and be a spectator of this rural ballet. The supporting stars were two tractors and their huge trailers, although they alternated on stage. The star of the show was this combine harvester. Oh, you should have seen it manoeuvre as gracefully as a ballerina around the maize field. Not a centimeter misjudged and reversing with a skill that even the most experienced taxi driver never attains.
All the while, the Stack of the combine harvester was spewing out a continuous flow of cut up maize. And here is where the waltz comes into play. The tractor drivers follow in a close two step each and every move of the big machine and catch every morsel of the chopped maize. The combine moves an inch to the left, the tractor does too. A reversing of the one, mirrors a similar move on the other.
This whole production goes in five minute intervals as this is how fast the trailer is filled. They must have had plenty of rehearsals, because the way the two tractors alternated in collection the spew of chopped maize was poetry in motion and a joy to behold...
Harvest time is not yet over and you'll be able to catch a performance at a field near you...well worth it.
The vineyards you can see behind it, are as steep as can be and maybe that is why they produce such superlative Blaufränkisch wine.
Nature is just so clever. The pink of the petals, the green of the stem with the thorns that give it a longer lifespan. Just try and touch a rose, never mind plucking one without pruning shears...
Living in the country everyone, or just about everyone, has a car attached to their hip. Heck, some older and lazier folk even drive a hundred meters to the shop to get milk and bread. Oh yes, really.
Hopping into your car to visit, go to work or just go for a drive seems normal and even natural. But here is the nice thing when you are car-less for a while. No pressure to go anywhere. No silly ideas of perhaps buying something else at the supermarket. Something that you can easily survive without. There is always the local shop to be walked to and unless you have a mule ( eh no, I don't mean Bob even though he can be as stubborn as at times...birds of a feather etc! ) along for your shop, you are limited by how much stuff weighs.
Even without a car, life and work do go on. Yesterday I was walking home from an English lesson and had about a 2 kilometer walk in front of me. Not a train smash and as you and the whole village knows, I do walk for fun each and almost every morning. Anyway, I heard a car idling up behind me. Yes, courtesy rules of the road are adhered to. Driving past a walker or cyclist, one slows down to crawling speed.
I moved onto the grass verge and heard the car slow down to more than an idle. It stopped next to me and a villager asked me whether I would like a lift or ( seriously) if I wanted to exercise and walk home? Obviously he knew of my love of walking but as it was close to lunchtime with the sun reminding us of it still being summer despite a very cold and fresh start to the day, I accepted his offer.
He lives two lanes away from us but still took the time to drop me off at our gate. Bob, who was getting the post at that exact time, at first wondered who was stopping outside the gate, then who was driving his Miss Biggi to our gate and only when he realized that it was a local pensioner in the driver's seat, did the green tinge in his eyes disappear.
Someone phoned me and asked if I could visit her in the afternoon. We arranged it for three o'clock which would give me enough time to get there. It is a brisk 30 minute walk...She phoned at half past one to ask me to come over a bit sooner. Not wanting to make her feel bad, I merely said:
" Not a problem, I'll see you in a good half an hour."Little did she know that I wasn't being vague but meant it literally.
My mum knew where I was walking to and offered to drive me back home in style afterwards. I gratefully accepted and was even rewarded with a few bottles of her fabulous Blaufränkisch wine. It just goes to show that rushing around and through life, we forget to smell the roses or God forbid forget to drink great wine.
Information is gathered almost at the speed of light but definitely at the click of a keystroke. We are in fact inundated with information. Most of it useless and mundane, some of it funny and some of it so terrible we almost don't take it seriously.
For years, or rather four years there has been a civil war in Syria. We've been shown the sad and evil images on TV yet, did it really sink in? We've seen the hundreds of thousand refugees in tented camps. But as it was on another continent, it became just one of those things.
One of those things that got pushed to the end of a news cycle by the really important news about the celluloid royalty. That was a shameful refection on humanity, because what if it had happened to us? Would we have become a nightly parting shot on the news cycle? There all the time that we would be invisible to the senses, the senses of those who could help us?
As a people, we failed miserably in helping out with the situation that has been the civil war in Syria. Should our politicians have done more?
Well, the universe has brought the crisis onto our doorstep. Now, it has been noticed as more than just a glimpse of a distant nation.
One day, our kids will judge us by how we handled this. We should never forget that the refugees arriving, have gone through hell and back already. They have seen and experienced more evil in a short time, that anyone should ever have to experience in ten life times.
What if it was us? How would we feel if after four years of living each day not knowing whether we will have enough to eat or even worse, we might die that day. we are finally ringing at the door of a real Save Haven, only to have the wrong pass word.
Yes, it isn't easy to do all that is needed, in fact, it is rather difficult to change and upset the smooth sailing that most of our boats have done through life, but isn't it the handling of the difficult moments that make us better human beings...
Some couples go for a nice leisurely Sunday breakfast, others go for a drive while we make plum jam! Yip, living on the wild side indeed. But the mere thought of making our own jam is a reminder of how great life is. Imagine, having enough fruit in your garden, and just walking out there and picking a bowl of fruit.
It has that flavour of reality, pure and simple. Life is not all about meandering down a supermarket isle and picking out your preference. Well, you can of course but making jam is, apart from being easier than making a pizza, a task that will have you reconnect with real life.
If only you knew how easy it is to make jam ( even if you have to buy the fruit ), you would try it more often. There is nothing better than eating your homemade jam. Putting a few spoonfuls in a cup of joghurt, topping a lavishly buttered slice of bread or freshly baked scone or buying some vanilla ice cream merely to showcase your jam on a cold and neutral canvas. Divine
Some of our fruit trees are outside our garden and if we aren't quick about it, the Schnapps brigade might get there first. As soon as the fruits are ripened on the trees ( they tend to prefer plum and peach ), the eagle eyed Schnapps makers of the village, cruise past at idling speed. Look, they do ask us if they see our fruit dangling off every branch and twig and it is hard for me to say No...
The more fruit they garner, the more homemade Schnapps there is to be drunk. Homemade is better then store bought, but in the case of Schnapps, the work is plenty and arduous. Bob has tried too and now that I think of it, our fruit trees are rather bare...that is the peach ones!
The local homemade Schnapps has plenty of legends attached to it. I've heard stories of women in their 80's having one tot of Schnapps upon waking. Mind, only the one. As they are still working the vines, driving and generally having a good time, it might just be that homemade Schnapps is the elixir of youth...
Ah, the good life...
" Back off sister....he's mine! "
" Hey, have you heard the latest about...?"Could this be the definitive pot-belly? Oh dear, or a pot-head?
"Thank you so much for this, Ladies of Deutsch Schützen..."
Perhaps it's time to start reading the fine print. Of everything. How does a the magician conjure out the white rabbit or cute dove from his black top hat? Never mind that poor assistant in her sequence dress who has to climb smilingly into the about-to-be-carved-in-two box.
Naturally, there is a trick behind it. A sleight of hand, that makes us lose focus for a moment or two. Of course at the crucial moment and voila, the rabbit and the dove are here and the lady is in pieces. We missed the bait and switch.
Turn your thoughts to the current headlines. The world is upset, quite rightly so, with the terrible sufferings of the refugees and their subsequent treatment. Wherever you turn to get your news, it has top billing.
But are we witnessing some conjuring on another front or fronts? Mother Earth is in a state of emergency and needs to be treated and not kicked and wrung out some more. Yet, there was a small news clip about the American Government giving its go ahead to do yet more damage by drilling for oil in Alaska.
Two weeks later, there was a ' magical ' appeal from the American president, to do our bit to halt climate change. Ah, sorry, but what about actions speaking louder than words..
Another white rabbit scenario for me, seems to be the Transatlantic Trade Deal-TTIP. There is so much ( other ) unrest in the world right now, that the negative impact of this deal isn't being talked about as much as it should be.
Maybe now is the time to take a stance. Greenpeace petition.
If this deal is signed, then finally a spade is called a spade or rather, the puppet master is going to step forward and discard his puppets. Big business would call the shots from then on. Good luck to all of us, because I have a feeling that it will be profit before people...and it won't be nice to experience or watch. We got a small taste of it during that recent Subprime affair of 2007.
Our gal has style and pluck!
You must remember that Le Bob and I have moved into an age bracket where we can start to boast about having been there at the beginning. Like now for example, we can eh, boast that we have watched TV when they still showed a start signal test pattern. Television was, after all, only introduced to South Africa in 1976. The good old times where late night viewing wasn't even invented and bunny ears were standard.
As most others around the world, our house has that odd round decorating ornament hanging precariously ( and rather ugly ) from our roof. Almost standard issue nowadays and clearly a dying technology.
In the last few months our viewing pleasure has slowly dwindled to a constant no signal screen on our telly. To add insult to injury, our DVD machine has joined in on the strike! We have tried several different satellite decoders ( all second hand ) and after the third one also didn't feel the urge to work more than a few minutes, we realised that we had a problem anywhere from the wall socket to the dish on the roof and the cable running in between the two.
The option of Bob climbing on the ladder to reach the dish and perhaps stand there for a while to twist and turn it, was discarded immediately as I didn't think it would be the thing to call out Bob's firemen buddies to help him off our roof!. For a while we re-watched our precious stash of DVDs until the DVD player had had enough!
As it happens in life, our Internet-modem joined the trilogy of striking appliances. That we sorted out in a jiffy via the help line and the A1 brick and mortar shop in Oberwart. As I was organizing our new modem ( no charge, can you believe it, even though we've had it for four years!!! ) I saw their new line of television viewing. Casually, to shoot the proverbial breeze, I asked my sales assistant how it worked as it did look rather fancy.
" Streaming your tv programs via your internet cable. "Oh, that sounded too advanced for us and remember we live in a village of about 300 way in the country.
" I suppose that wouldn't work with us, would it? "...well, little did I know. We actually have a fast enough fiber optics connection ( and of course a new modem to direct it all ), to stream our TV programs and even better, now we don't need a dish. The best new of all was that it only costs 4,90 euros extra each month.
We signed on this new adventure and with only a few hiccups-we were held in suspense over the A1 technician rezoning our internet speed for a few weeks. One said we had ample, the other one said not enough. A few phone calls later and each and every day rushing out to meet our postman in case he brought the new decoder, it finally happened yesterday.
Driving on the opposite side of our village, I saw our postman sitting in his yellow car, about to drive on. When you've lived here for a while you learn that when you see a yellow postal car, you slow down a bit...which I did.
It goes to show, that even the postman knows our car and obviously me behind the wheel. He flagged me down and with hand signal showed me that the box had arrived. I was so excited that I left my car idling in the middle of the road while I went over to see our postman. Don't worry, I had to sign that electronic invoice before he gave me my A1 parcel.
" Now you can finally watch TV again! "