Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Pride & Prejudice's Mr Darcy-Oh My!

The original tall dark and handsome hero...

Isn't it amazing that in a time of chasteness and nary a public display of affection, a hero emerged that even today holds our ( well, at least my ) attention. It's that hint of something nice that keeps us riveted.

Perhaps I am biased by seeing the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and his spectacular interpretation of Mr Darcy. Let's face it, Colin Firth is dishy as it is and not only from playing Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary. In fact, if you want to see a slightly younger version of him, get yourself this adaption of the classic novel.

This version is several hours long but once you sit down and watch the first few minutes of it, you begin to get an inkling that a treasure lies in store for you. Watching this series, is akin to having a nice warm bath. It gives you a feeling of warmth and that everything is just dandy in your world. How can it not be, after watching this series?

Life seemed so much simpler then, but also so much richer. Richer in time, richer in splendour and richer in the real abundance of life...family, nature and time to enjoy what life had on offer.

Could any of us survive a life without electricity and all that implies? Who hasn't in times of extreme stress and technological overload, wished to live a week at an Amish village? This return to the classics of fiction might be explained by the ever increasing burden that our modern and highly technological lifestyle places on our shoulders.

The other point that a Jane Austin novel highlights with glaring obviousness, is our modern exhibitionist tendencies. In Jane Austin's era, even showing a tad bit too much of your ankle was considered cheap and common....oh my, if she could only see us now!

Reading and watching Pride & Prejudice is a breath of fresh air and to my mind, everyone should see or read it. By the way, there are so many movie versions of it to satisfy everyone's tastes.

Anyway, Mr Darcy is the ultimate romantic hero of and in fiction and Colin Firth with his expressive and sparkling eyes is a perfect embodiment of this romantic Mr Darcy.


Monday, 30 March 2015

The 80 Word Story, That Strikes Fear Into Most Pupils Hearts.

English as a second language has its moments indeed.

It sounds extremely funny, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Oh yes, the counting of words written. Even after the second sentence, each word gets an important number attached to it. What sounds like a walk in the park and let's face it, 80 words is not a lot for us, is far from it for the kids.

At first I thought that it might be a better idea to say: please write a story half a page in length, but I soon realized that that would make the kids highly inventive with their handwriting's font.

By the way, so far I have written 99 words!

Counting words is the last thing I would have ever thought of, and I try and challenge the kids to stop doing it except at the end of their little essay, for peace of mind. Goodness, when a number higher than 80 gets reached ( and I am only talking about a possible 88 or so ) there is a sense of ' over-achievement ' in the air.

Sometimes when I help one of the kids with their homework, which does now and then include writing an 80-100 word story, I let them structure it themselves as there is no point in me doing the work for them. Of course I nudge them along or help with the odd word.

As they start to write their sentences, I always tell them to think of ' filler ' words.

" If you are writing about a dog make sure to add that it is tall, what colour it is and that it is perhaps beautiful. Straight away you'll have an extra 3 words."
But then I realize, that the teachers hardly ever get the children to read books, stories or fun stuff. If you don't read, finding the filler words is not really possible, as you don't know how to.

Oh yes, English Second Language students do know

  • an adjective from an adverb
  • or a form of present tense from a form of past or future tense
  • or a Gerund ( I bet you have to look that one up,...I did )
but sadly, they don't know the real joy of the English language. The poetry of words and their various meanings. The artfully structured stories. The pleasure of reading a classic and seeing the words paint a character with substance and form. A character that you can see in your mind as you read the story...How did you picture Mr Darcy / Long John Silver / Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot?


Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Marvelous Sunday Morning In Eisenberg.

An early morning walk on Sundays is special, wherever one is.

A sensational yellow backdrop.
This was taken yesterday afternoon, but spectacular nonetheless.
Getting lost is not an option here unless it is in one of our lovely wineries or Buschenschanks!
A typical look in our area. The wooden logs for the fireplace are stored outside the home. Rather charming.
Eisenberg on an early Sunday morning. Most will be asleep...
Somebody is building atop the Weinberg and I had to laugh when I read the name of this modern " longdrop " !
I think this is a cherry tree and the first one I've seen in bloom.
There is so much beauty all around us.
The greens and browns mingling in our backyard.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

It's The Attitude That Does It Every Time..

A surprise visit to an old age home.

Just before the onset of Winter, an acquaintance in our village moved to an old age home in order to forgo the chores of Winter while living on her own in a big house. Things that we don't really even notice, do take a big amount of strength and effort for an older person. ie; dealing with the snow on your driveway, putting wood in the oven, going to the shops and generally taking care of your household while trying not to slip on a pesky bit of ice.

This lovely lady got to go to a place where this was done for her. Yes, an old age home, a place that does strike fear into many hearts the minute they have to go there. Goodness, urban myth are even invented.

Even back in South Africa, I thought how wonderful communal living in an old age village might be. Gosh, I had heard many a story ( as one does working at the hairdressers...fount of all village going on's ) of what divinely scheduled days they had...

...A leisurely breakfast perusing the village newspaper ( isn't that what Miss Marple did? ), perhaps a stroll outside, many cups of Earl Grey followed by my personal favourite: a lunch with oodles of wine to lubricate the meal and to end the day off, a bridge affair that might involve some more lubricants such as the old faithful Gin & Tonic...What a marvellous place!

On Thursday, I went to visit this lady at her new residence and oh, how fabulous to hear that she was in her element there. While we were chatting and catching up, she casually mentioned a tidbit, that was like a nugget of gold to me:

" Birgit, you told me once that you walk an hour each day and I kept on remembering this and started to do the same. "
I was speechless when she told me that each morning she takes an hour to walk up and down the hallways of the home and that she noticed that others had started to do the same. Others, with walking frames, walking sticks etc. Oh yes, they have seen how well she looks.

This wonderful lady is in her mid eighties but looks in her mid sixties. This change of scenery has done her the world of good and she wouldn't change it for anything. But she did say, that even there in her new home, one gets folks who see it with a jaundiced eye and moan about life there.

If you look for the good, you'll find only that...conversely, should you look for the pitfalls and not so nice things, you'll find those too, and might I add, faster than you'd want...


Friday, 27 March 2015

Saving The Rain Forest One Face Cream At A Time.

The hunt for Red October is minor compared to finding an appropriate face cream!

Of course it is so much easier to just grab a tube of " instant radiance " as described on TV and even then, the choice is endless and really, how do we choose? Surely advertising shouldn't be the clincher of this particular deal?

As you know, I have recently read an article on how the usage of palm oil in cosmetics ( and a myriad of other uses ) is slowly but surely destroying the rain forest. Why should we care? Well, we do want to live in and leave a healthy planet for the next few generations.

Collectively our lives have become more and more lazy and selfish. Anything that is a tad more laborious, is eschewed with the well worn excuse of:

" Why the heck should I do it, when XYZ isn't doing it? Let them start first, and then I'll do something too! And anyway, if it was so bad, the government would tell us! "
...sadly, politicians who should lead the way, are answerable to lobbyists and those who helped them get into office ( not only the electorate but those who might have paid the piper? ).
Here is a thought: Let's only elect politicians who are under 35! They will want to have a comfortable retirement 50 years on, sitting in a green garden surrounded by fruit trees and a healthy air...

But, back to my face cream adventure. If you ( hopefully ) want to follow suit, might I suggest you take a magnifying glass with you and a lot of patience. As per usual, the devil's in the fine print.

I have used a range of skin care products, where I knew it was palm oil free ( and free of a lot of other chemical additives ) but I thought that maybe I could find other ranges too.

Well, 30 minutes later and a pacing husband outside the shop ( cheekily he shouted through the open door and told me he would while away the wait in the shop next door! Nudge nudge, hint hint... ) I was back to this skincare range I had used before, NONIQUE, and surprisingly, it is not expensive at all. NONIQUE is so far the only skincare range I found, that clearly states on the packaging that it does not use palm oil.

Honestly, I did hover with my hand over a product touted on TV as being the elixir of youth and beauty, but then my conscience made itself known...once you know what damage an ingredient does to the planet, only a fool will keep on buying and using it.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

From Helpful Neighbours And Rorschach Images To Budding Roses All In A Day.

The mundane hides many chapters of beauty.

Ah, our famous fish pond down the road...the clubhouse frequented by Frühschoppen crowds and my golly gosh, if walls could talk! At times I can hear the laughter from our garden.
Early morning sees this clubhouse tranquil and reflective.
Bob's friend and our neighbour is always helpful and last week, Bob only asked if he could borrow a tool to cut some trees in our yard, and voila, our friend hopped on his tractor and helped Bob cut and pull trees...true friendship!
The portal to our backyard gets revealed! Bob ( wearing his favourite tatty fatigues ) on the trot before the tractor. The two of them felled 4 trees in the orchard. Wow. Without our friend's help, it would have taken the two of us a few years, due to procrastination.
This sort of shrub is to my mind " the easter tree " and while my mum and I were spring cleaning a Kellerstöckl, I happened across this nice one, complete with three birds.
Outside, on the pavement this little purple flower caught my attention and had to be immortalized.
We had finished a marathon cleaning session ( really! ) and while I waited next to the car, I saw this still dormant rosebush. We all rush to take photos of blooming roses, yet for me, the first little buds are magnificent in their promise.
Hands up, if you also thought this was a Rorschach ink blot test? If so, what did you see in this budding rose?


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

An Ordinary, Typical And Oh So Nice Day In Eisenberg.

Bob and I go walking or rather on a photographic trip along the forest.

Straight out the gate, so to say, these buck crossed our vision. Actually, Bob spotted them first but by the time I got my camera out ( my fingers were still frozen so early in the morning ), I merely managed a side / back view.
Along our route is the now familiar paddock of this white beauty. Normally Bob gets impatient when I take numerous photos, but yesterday I think he wanted a breather...p/s: don't forget that seeing a white horse brings you luck!
My reputation as the chicken paparazzi has spread, and it seems that the chickens are trying to make a run for it...
Why is it, that females tend to always butt heads over a male? I wonder who wins this lucky fella's favour?
Coming home to a cheerful greeting. These yellow Irises always brighten my day.
Here is our little darling whiling away a sunny afternoon awaiting her food. Somehow she loves this little roof top, which happens to be atop the old and no-longer-used long drop in our garden. By the way, the camera adds ten pounds and no, we don't overfeed her...or do you think we do?


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Warren Buffett's Biography, What A Gem.

A book that makes you feel like you have a new friend.

Look, I read Warren Buffett's biography ( by Alice Schroeder ) about seven years ago and yet, it still feels as if I had the privilege to accompany him through his life's journey and most of us know how amazing and interesting it has been.

Bob and I watch a lot of the American Business channels and often, not so much to do with the actual business of business but because there is a dearth of English language TV stations here. Frankly, some of the business shows are far from boring or mundane, as some resemble more the format of a talk-show or as Bob likes to say,

" Ask your illustrious guest a question, but for goodness sake don't let him answer it in full before you interrupt. "
and somehow I must agree with him about that. If one asks a questions, good manners do command to let the person finish the answer...? One would think at least.

Often, a insert about Mr. Buffett would be aired ( and let me tell you, he is one of the few guests that they let finish his thoughts and sentences without rudely interrupting ) and you know what, I straight away am back in the story of his life and I recall those odd but highly interesting facets of him, such as his passion for playing Bridge. And that he loves to go on holiday with his very good friend, Bill Gates. Holidays where they both play Bridge ad nauseam.

This morning, he was on Charlie Rose, remembering a good friend and neighbour of his. When he mentioned that they lived across from each other in the 60's, it is refreshing to know, that Mr. Buffett has always lived in the same house. Not for him, that constant striving to super-size one's lifestyle.

When you think about it, he is a perfect example that possessions and clothes don't make a man...and yet he often is the richest man in the world. Makes one think, doesn't it?

If you get a chance, try and read his biography because it is an amazing and interesting book. As an extra bonus for those of you who also love reading, this biography is 834 pages long. Oh yes, you'll be mentally a part of his life for a few weeks. Happy reading.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Reflections Through Time...

Quotes to start off Monday morning.

" Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow/ He who would search for pearls must dive below."
John Dryden All for Love - Prologue 1678

" Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism."
Jean-Paul Sartre on existentialism.

" Gambling is the great leveller. All men are equal - at cards."
Nicolai Vasilyevich Gogol ( 1809-1852 ) Gamblers.

" God and I both knew what it meant once; now God alone knows."
Friedrich Klopstock ( 1724-1803 )

" The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races: the men who borrow, and the men who lend. "
Charles Lamb ( 1775-1834 ) The Two Races of Men

" The belief that words have a meaning of their own account is a relic of primitive word magic, and it is still a part of the air we breathe in nearly every discussion."
C K Ogden ( 1889-1957 ) The Meaning of Meaning 1923

" Our nature holds so much envy and malice that our pleasure in our won advantages is not so great as our distress at others'. "
Plutarch ( c.AD 46-120 ) Moralia

" There is a Southern proverb - fine words butter no parsnips. "
Walter Scott ( 1771 - 1832 ) ' The Legend of Montrose ' 1819

" In a somer season, when soft was the sonne."
William Langland ( c.1332-c.1400 ) Vision Concerning Piers Plowman. Prologue.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

My Love Of TV-Cooking Shows Pays Off, Or Not?

The art of decorating a sandwich.

At the moment my favourite show is Lafer, Lichter & Lecker and often the actual cooking is less important than the witty running jokes and great one-liners. Now and again a morsel of something vaguely related to cooking, does stick in the mind.

As you know, our local theater group has had its annual run of their play ( extremely funny ) and Bob and I volunteered to help with the second most important point of attending a community theater- the libations and vittles needed for mingling before, during and after the play.

Bob has shown such a prowess the last few functions, when he manned the glass washing station in the bar area, that good golly gosh, Bob, they ain't never gonna promote you to barman...you excel at the job no one really likes doing 6-7 hours on the trot. Secretly Bob likes the order of his task or rather the ordered structures he puts in place and I have a feeling that Bob even has a running count of glassware in his head.

On Friday evening I showed up for duty ( actually I shouldn't call it duty because I loved helping out and being included ) and was seconded to slice the garnishes for a lot of Belegte Brote
( Austrian style sandwich ). As the knives we have in our own kitchen are a tad bit on the blunt side, no living on knife's edge in our house, I was in heaven when I used the little black knife provided. It sliced with equal ease through onions, tomatoes, peppers and pickled cucumbers.

Bob, please talk to Helmut, as he sharpened this knife.

My planned station was the coffee and cake area but nothing was happening there yet, so I could help some more in the garnish department.

" Biggi, you can garnish these slices of bread with the things you've just sliced."
Ooh, pleasure and pressure all in one. Everyone has there own way and I did so want to be asked back for the next function. Nothing for it but to give my best. A collage of TV cooking shows flashed through my mind and that universal adage, that it must be pleasing to the eye!

The first sandwich I garnished was very diligently arranged and in fact the bread's topping was almost hidden by my artistically arranged synergy of onions, peppers and the odd pickle. Of course that got me into a pickle, because as there were hundreds of toppings to be arranged, the lady in charge took one look at my creation and rightly realized, that I had overstepped the boundary of a thin budget.

With a level of diplomacy that no TV chef has ever shown, she kindly told me that the coffee station was ready for me. Fair enough, I finished about five slices of Biggi-special sandwiches and went to do my stint in the corner...the coffee corner!

Later on, when we were at home, Bob told me with great pride that my one and ony tray of sandwiches was sold out the fastest.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Ah, Three Cheers For Those Lovely Spring Flowers.

A rock star, a yellow beauty and a few stray cats...

This purple number seems to be holding fort or rather being the lone star of the rock! Anything else as a backdrop to it would have paled in significance.
These yellow bundles of joy are on all of our lawns and should be called "Gladness " as one can't help but be glad to have seen them.
A perfectly shaped petal complete with a two tone yellow.
The humble, simple and most loved Daisy.
An early morning view of Eisenberg with the church featuring prominently. A spring morning that combines a warm sun with tentacles of cold air is unbeatable for beauty. Combined with a misty horizon it is tops.
Not too fond of the paparazzi, are they? Nothing nicer for a cat than to lounge lazily on a sun kissed pavement while doing a mini pedicure.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring Is Really Finally Here Again...

The sun seems to be on schedule.

A good measure of spring in a way is, when you can put your laundry on the line and it comes back dry and augmented with that special something...no, not bird poop but a mixture of aromas made up of grass, flowers and nature's good cheer.

As soon as the birds tweet us awake and when nature's alarm clock is accompanied by a clear early morning sky, most of our villagers do a load of washing and proceed to hang it on the line before eight o'clock.

Seeing that laundry swaying on the line in all its cheerfulness, is one of my personal metrics of spring. A clean sweep affair...

Bob was searching for a missing sock early yesterday morning, and there was only one place left to look: The laundry basket. Of course he was almost speechless when he realized that there were 28 pairs of missing socks at the very bottom of our laundry basket. I don't know how to explain it, but catching up with all the laundry is a near impossible task to achieve.

You know, our washing line was rather fun yesterday morning with its 56 odd socks swaying in the wind. Spring still means that the hedge is kind of see through as the foliage is still in infancy. Anyone who walked or drove passed our abode might mistakenly have thought that we have a sock fetish! Although....Bob never wears matching socks because he considers a mismatched pair a sign of good luck!

Anyway, Spring is here and the whole Northern Hemisphere seems to have a spring in their step...

Iris's are making a colourful point outside our front garden wall. The stony base makes them even more attractive.
Casting a friendly shadow.
I hope you'll have a fabulous day today...


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Gosh, Teens At School Have An Extraordinary Burden To Carry.

Let's take a load off their backs...

The other day I picked up a schoolbag to pass to its owner and was almost speechless. Good grief, have you ever lifted one of those schoolbags of today? What on earth are the teachers thinking?

A normal schoolbag of a 12 year old weighs the proverbial ton. Obviously not as much, but at least a number of kilos. My goodness, the schoolbag I picked up was h-e-a-v-y.

When I inquired about why it was so darn heavy, she told me that this is normal and as they get such a varied amount of homework ( i.e, each subject teacher wants to contribute!!! ) they need to have the relevant books at hand.

Some of the kids aren't tall and strong yet and I can almost picture the smaller lot almost toppling over backwards with that added burden.

Most kids in the rural parts of Austria catch the school bus and usually walk a fair bit to reach it from their home, with their extra load on their backs. That cannot be good for developing bones and maybe each teacher should carry around the a relevantly heavy schoolbag as their pupils.

Apart from carrying this extra load, the pupils do still have to learn and do homework with all those books they have schlepped home. Oh yes, a heavy schoolbag equals loads of homework.

When does this generation of kids have time to smell the odd rose, play soccer outside with their friends or read a novel? Ironically, the one task that would help tremendously in anyone's language skills is reading for pleasure and unfortunately with so much homework to complete along with studying for exams and tests, there is hardly any time for reading, socializing or just being a teenager.

...and they say that school is supposed to be the best time of our lives...


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Mysteriously Funny Case Of Husbands' Travelling Pants.

Rather close to home, I'd have to say!

Remember, that old saying of throwing stones while living in a glass house? Oh yes, before you judge little ol' me, there is a fair chance that you too, have done this...

In a way I thought there weren't too many of us out there, but I seem to have been mistaken. Well, now it's official, men are attached to their pants.

Oh, not just any pants, but those pants that they wore before they met us, their wives, and possibly also those pants they had on when they first started wooing us! The security blanket pants. The date(d) pants. The holey pants. The ' soon-to-be ' dishrag pants...

When I met Bob last decade ( just to set the scene ), he sported a pair of these pants. Purposely I say sported, because they were those army coloured jobs. The camo pants. Ooh la, la, they looked great on Bob and...now we are together!

But through the years, these pants have become so threadbare, that they are bordering on the indecent, when he wears them. Never mind that through my cooking skills they have become a touch too small. Of course I told Bob that I had washed them mistakenly in a hot wash, and they had shrunk!

Before we moved here, back in South Africa, I once tried to cunningly make these pants disappear. I did say tried...gosh, Bob was like a golden retriever and "sniffed" out the pants locale in minutes.

On another occasion he put them on, bent down to tie his shoelaces and to my great joy they developed a tear on the derrier. One that my sewing skills were no match for. When Bob told me,

" You know, I think I will have to throw them out now. Oh, I loved those camo's."
I secretly did the old happy dance and as it turns out, too soon.

A few days after his momentous announcement, he grinned from ear to ear as he told me:

" I got talking to our neighbour as I was on the way to the rubbish bin and somehow (?) it came about that she was a seamstress and guess what...she is busy fixing my camo's! Isn't that fantastic? "

As I am writing this, the camo pants are still around and because as I once got caught trying to make them disappear, Bob routinely does a search for them and won't stop before he has them in his hands. My attempts to slowly move them further and further from his memory ( leaving them at the bottom of the clothes hamper for eons ) are futile and either we go and have them framed, or mended with Teflon tape...

Please take the time to watch this clip. This ad is fantastic, brilliant and to the point. I love it and let me know if it strikes a cord...or if you too, have done this before?

Bob's camos...there are more tears at the back!


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Wonderful Top Of The Morning To You...

A few pictures with even a green one on St. Patrick's Day.

Would you believe it, but we have our own St. Patrick's sign here! Well as close as can be. The main thing on this whole green sign is the caption:
Paradise straight ahead...
oh, and this sign is right outside our village, Eisenberg!!!
Everything is starting its cycle towards blossoming and it is a sight for winter weary eyes.
Those two know what the simple pleasures in life are...friends, chatting and a worm or two!
...and not to forget about that comfortable feeling of sitting in a bathtub! Living it up in our gutters.
This morning the cacophony of tweets coming through the open lounge window, made me go outside and take a few pictures. Gosh, there was a communication highway atop of our trees and roofs.
This dove (?) chose to sit and observe in a ladylike manner.
The excitement of this little birdie almost jumps off the picture. Goodness, he was tweeting constantly and furiously.


Monday, 16 March 2015

Our Local Thespians Deliver Another Knockout Performance.

A comedy with a few moments of realism.

Community theater at its best. Community, what does it actually mean? Well, I am discovering aspects of it all the time. Take our local theater group who are all pillars of our community.

People I know from bumping into at a Buschenschank, public meetings or at the local grocer. When you know the actors, their thespian parts are so much more interesting.

The play had a four acts, with a proper curtain signalling a change of scenery complete with hearing the hushed giggles from behind the curtain or a clank from something dropped that shouldn't have been. Oh yes, I sat in the third row from the front and I must admit it is much better than always sitting at the back, close to the exit. Seeing and hearing, make a big difference.

All of us are so used to Hollywood productions where everything is filmed to perfection, that we tend to forget how the art of acting started. It takes much more talent and skill to act out a story without having the benefit of 20 retakes. Real live performances do have the odd blooper which paradoxically makes them even better.

A community play is fabulous because it is real. Sitting there, I was in awe of how well our local thespians performed. At times they had all of us in stitches. Old and young alike. At one point in the play, I heard a voice without seeing a face to go with it, and suddenly the penny dropped. I was witnessing a prompter in action. Wow, those are almost an urban myth so it was great to hear a prompt.

One of those nice community traits was that all the children sat in the front row and not with their parents. As our local school is small, it was a school reunion... The children laughed the loudest and were following it all with amazement. At one point, oh it was so cute...one of the actors didn't close the ' fake ' door properly and one of the kids shouted ( prompted ) loudly:
" You forgot to close the door " .

At half time there was an appropriately time break. Enough time to cue for either coffee and cake, the loo or the more popular glass of wine accompanied by a sandwich. Mingling was far from easy as the hall was in a crush of people... my guess is that there were at least 300 people there and everyone of us loved the play.

Life in a village is perfect for me.


A short ad...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Bob's Stride Gets Noticed!

A case of two birds with one stone...

As much as I like to brag about Bob, I do have to be honest and mention that he has recently fallen off the fitness-wagon and landed on our comfortable couch. A couch that it is not so easy to get up from, or so it seemed.

But, a wife or rather a good wife wouldn't be one if a tad bit of nagging wasn't involved now and then. Oh, and good old bribery. Honestly, they should have mentioned this in the " how to be a wife " manual.

Bob, for the benefit of his health, should exercise but somehow that has been banished to the last page of his To-Do list. About a week ago, I thought that the time had arrived and I nagged Bob so much, that he put on his trainers and joined me on my forays into the Eisenberg surrounds.

The first day was a welcome novelty and Bob didn't need any extra nagging nor dragging on route ( oh yes, until we were half way, there has in the past been an excuse for turning around ). Day two was still ' oh,la la what a novelty ' and saw both of us stepping out in the wine berg with gusto. Day three needed a little bit of persuasion on my part. Just that special touch.

Having been married for eons, I knew the signs of Bob wanting to forgo his walk. A mention of a saw toe here and a pressing need there were casually thrown into conversation by my Schatzi. But, being an expert in Bob-speak, I chose to ignore it and used my trump card:

" Bob, yesterday so-an-so saw you walking and today someone else from the fire department might see you. Imagine your street cred when it gets around that you are on the fitness wagon? You might be a trendsetter..."
If it was that, or if Bob sort of realized that I was adamant that we would go for a walk, is debatable. That proverbial third day was one where the wind was howling and icy. Honestly, if I hadn't tried to persuade Bob, I am not so sure that I would have gone for a walk...

Bob was amazing and didn't complain once about the cold. Thankfully for me, one of his firemen buddies saw us walking and we had a quick chat. Yesterday evening, Bob's effort paid off. Bob helped out at the local theater play ( working behind the bar ) and when he got home at midnight, he told me with pride in his voice:

" Babe, you won't believe it, but the fire chief came over to me and told me that he has heard that I am getting fit. "
Well, now Bob won't need much wifely persuasion to do a two-step with me. Here's to the good life of walking with my Schatzi!


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Martin & Lucie Reiger's Organic Wines From Eisenberg Burgenland...Wine Of The Day.

Another wine treasure in our Eisenberg. Wow.

Look, I already enjoy the delectable organic wines of Martin and Lucie's and so it came as no surprise to me, when I saw that Martin was being interviewed for his Blaufränkisch 2012.
The Reiger's wines taste fabulous and are organic to boot. What more could one want? But now it seems, that others have discovered this Eisenberg treasure...and about time too!

When I stumbled across this video clip this morning ( link at the end of this blog ), it warmed my spirit and my villager's heart. When you know the wine-celebrity being interviewed in person, and when you have eh, sampled his wine before, it feels like:

" Gosh, I knew and now everyone else does too! "

All of our friends and family, who come to visit us from far away places, know the calibre and value of the delectable array of wines produced in our area. In fact, when they do come to visit, they make sure they get a taste of many samples!!! Hey, when in Rome, do like the Romans.

...The wines produced in Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen are for want of better words....sensational on the palate and of course, World class.

Martin and Lucie's conviction to make their wines organic, gives it that special extra touch that is so vital in today's times. A natural wine.

For those of you, who have never had the pleasure of sampling a glass of Reiger wine, a treat lies in store for you...

Our area is being brought to the wine world's attention one vintner at a time and yesterday, it was Martin Reiger's turn to showcase the result of all the hard work and conviction...a feast for any wine lover's palate.


Click here to watch the video interview.

Friday, 13 March 2015

You Know, There's More To Chickens Than A Breast, A Thigh & A Wing!

They have oodles of character and are a sight to behold in their plumage...

A proud master of his realm or rather chicks...could there be a better posture?
...it seems every neighbourhood has its gossip:
" What do you think of her? "

Good grief, is it just me, or does this remind you of a runway model strutting his stuff?
A bit of a windy situation, and as Bob aptly put:
" Not a good look when your entire existence is to please the ladies..."

Ooh dear, your bloomers are showing...
A chicken run or a running chicken...
Somehow this reminds me the stance men assume when they visit the outdoor plumbing institution!


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Germany's Best Baker: Craftsmen With Heart And Soul.

The return to the good old days, and not a day too soon!

Bob and I have been rather glued to a series on television. As you might have guessed, it is a reality show that searches for the best baker / bakery in Germany.

Like any show, it is addictive to watch and of course it has moments where it has been ' Viewer-fied " but it is fun to get a glimpse into the typical day of a baker. A slice of the good stuff.

The real beauty of this show is that it reminds us of the treasures we have among us. Craftsmen need to be cosseted. Craftsmen need to be supported. Craftsmen need to be emulated by the next generation. Otherwise, I am afraid to say that we will have to bite into a lot of tough bread rolls.

Alas, in our modern day society, youngens want to have it all: fame & fortune and thus all try their hand at being a banker, lawyer, doctor or some profession of the same ilk. Their is more to life than a penthouse and a luxury vehicle.

Being a tradesman or a craftsman should get top billing again. Having your child enter an apprenticeship is one of the best ideas. Earning while they learn and afterwards always being able to find work. Or open their own shop...( A lot of university graduates aren't that fortunate to be paid while they learn and find jobs! )

Of course it's convienent to pick up fresh bread at your discounter or supermarket. It is cheaper too and yours truly has been guilty of it numerous times. But seeing this program has opened my eyes to the difference in quality and pureness that a real bakery's wares have.

Maybe, whenever you can ( location and financial ) try and buy a piece of handcrafted yumminess from your local bakery. If you fortunate to be anywhere in Europe, the chances are that you have a bakery in your neighbourhood that sells any one of these delectables:

  • A fresh Bretzen. One made that morning and where all you need is a big piece of butter to dress it. Of course, when you buy your Bretzen, make sure to buy one extra...for the journey home!
  • A loaf of bread. A loaf where you can do a version of " Knock knock " with your knuckle and get a reply. I defy you to not rip into it without the aid of a knife!
  • Don't get me started on the abundant and mouth watering display of freshly made cakes and gateaux. Torten. Oh my gosh, the choice is the hardest part and also the most euphoric one.

I do tend to stand in front of the display case and in my mind's eye go through the various stored taste sensations and, please don't tell anyone, but I do salivate at the imminent pleasure of taking a spoon full of a creamy layered torte... It is not unheard of that I let at least 3 customers take my turn...as a Gemini it takes me oodles of time to make up my mind. In an ideal world, I'd savour them in one sitting.

Let me know what you've chosen at your local bakery!

Bon appetit, Biggi

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

How Attached Are We To Things And Possessions?

I am rediscovering the books of Dr. Wayne Dyer

Every now and again I amble passed my Self Help shelf and say to myself that I will pick up the right book for that moment. Oh yes, through the years I have collected an impressive amount of self help books. Frankly, who doesn't pick up these aptly labeled books after going through a break up or some such event?

My thirties were the heydays in regards to perusing all angles of the self help genre and I eventually whittled them down to a few choice ones. Often, friends would raise an eyebrow or smirk at the perceived gullibility of any self help disciple, but, each to his own and I had an added crutch through times that were slightly harder.

But here's the thing: by reading so ferociously among the self help genre, I knew and know that difficult times do two things.

  1. They help us peel another layer to reveal our veiled inner strength. Difficult times make us notice our inner strength.
  2. Difficult time do pass. This too shall pass....

This morning I started to reread Dr. Wayne Dyer's 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace (Puffy Books) and even though it was published in 2001, its message is timeless and in fact really applies to the " more, more and then some more " sentiment experienced throughout the world.

His simple question of what defines us, cuts straight to the heart of most of our problems...

" ...If your primary identification is with your body and your possessions, your ego is the dominant force in your life..."

"....Nothing can make you happy or successful. These are inner constructs that you bring to your world, rather than what you receive from it..."


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

No More Washing Drying On A Spindly Stand In Our Bathroom!

My personal yardstick of when Spring is here and Winter is over.

Having lived in South Africa for so long, I must admit that I got spoiled by the hot weather. Washing a load in your machine was barely hung on the line, and it was dry. Bone dry. Extra sun kissed dry.

In fact, in Summer one could do 4 or 5 loads a day and they would be dry, dry without the help of a tumble dryer. Tumble dryers do tend to make everything feel damp and cloying. Never mind how quickly the clothes get threaded.

Bob and I must be about the most adventurous couple of ' laundry-ists ' in our area. Even though technically it is still Winter, the moment either of us spots a ray of sunshine, the washing is on our line...toute de suite. Again, we must be known as the silly foreigners. In the colder months, our hedge is devoid of foliage and all is apparent. Even knickers blowing in the wind.

" Please Schatzi, don't hang my undies on the line, just in case the wind blows them off! "

At times the washing is almost dry, at times it is dry with a lingering feeling of being frozen ( yes, the temperature is still hovering around 10 degrees yet sunny ) and at other times the washing is bone dry but has an aroma of smoked ham / cedar or worse. When it's cold, the wooden stoves of our neighbours run at maximum capacity, blowing smoke onto our laundry spot.

If you've ever hung a load of washing on a spindly clothes drier in the bathroom, you will understand why we put our washing outside even in winter. Hanging anything over, on and between the rungs of the clothes dryer usually involves a few choice words and each of us tries like mad to make the other one hang up the washing...

On Sunday we did two loads of washing and it dried on the line...a clear signal that Winter is moving on to other parts of the world.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Move Over, Pie In The Sky, The Lofty Grapes Are Here.

Gosh, those trees in a wine region are something else...

Now this would create a lofty flavoured wine indeed! Walking atop the Eisenberg Weinberg yesterday morning, I saw these few vine-pretenders and thought they were ever so pretty.
Have you ever? Oh, I do know that they aren't grapes, but it is rather spooky how alike they are to grape clusters...
One could make a case of the forbidden fruit just being out of reach!
Nature outdid herself with splendid colours and a perfect blue background.
Not too far from the lofty grapes, small circular shaped leaves were eye catching because of their unusual colour...or rather lack of it!
Perfection in nature is everywhere and it was such a nice Sunday morning walk. The birds were conversing, the buck issued their grunts and barks along with the odd field mouse rustling among the dry leaves.
Our whole wonderful district has been ' Mapped '. All along the vineyards and forests are these yellow signs to tempt people ( locals too! ) to experience more treasures of Südburgenland.