Nature accompanies the changing seasons with aplomb.that went for a walk the other day...
" I hope she didn't see me! "
" I hope she didn't see me! "
Last night I stumbled across an interview with Helmut Schmidt ( chancellor of Germany 1974-1982 ) and after a few moments I was hooked. Having been absent from Europe for thirty years, I couldn't tell you if and what his policies and views were, but hearing him answer the interviewer was amazing.
First off, it isn't every day you see an interview with an 96 year old man. A man who was powerful, and ironically a man who ( I imagine ) every smoker in Germany has put on a pedestal. One of the things he is famous for, is his chain smoking and even during the interview he lit up one after the other...at 96!
In today's anti-smoking environment, you can get a feeling for how important Helmut Schmidt is as he must be the only one allowed to smoke on air.
He doesn't look 96 and his mind is still as sharp as ten daggers. In fact, he has that air that only powerful men sport. He took a second or two to give his answer and at times he reminded me of a caged tiger. Some of the questions thrown at him were banal and stupid ( my humble opinion ) and to his credit, he didn't lash out in response. But it looked like a close call at times.
His views on current affairs are spot on and he must be an extremely well read man and that is inspiring to me. He has just published another book and I can't wait to get hold of a copy. He was a politician at the heart of the creation of the European Union.
As he was puffing out numerous nebulous smoke signals, I was wondering whether the interviewer would make a comment. Oh, yes, she couldn't help herself and had to add her two cents worth...rather tacky and stupid because why on earth would he stop smoking now at the age of 96?
I knew I should have gone with Bob yesterday, when he set off to mow a few lawns. That inner voice told me that excitement was ahead ( not only Bob in shorts ) but alas I refused to listen and rather heeded the siren call of a housewife and cleaned the bathroom! Never again, I tell you...
Bob came home after lunch and told me what I had missed. He had been mowing the grass along one of the Kellerstöckl and when he looked up to wipe his brow, he thought he was hallucinating. There, cool as cucumbers were two sheep meandering down the tarred road. Side by side and almost like normal tourists.
As luck would have it, my Mum was in the vineyards and Bob got her attention to show her these delightful newcomers. My Mum, quick as anything put two and two together and phoned a neighbouring sheep farmer. It turned out that these sheep had been sold to one of our villagers and of course Mum knew him too.
After a few comical minutes phoning about, the new owner showed up to lead home the stray sheep. Imagine the excitement of cars careering down our roads, in search of a few errant sheep. Oh darn, I wish I could have been part and helped lead one of the sheep back.
But these new shepherds still have a bit to learn about the ingenuity of sheep! Bob, had gone to a different Kellerstöckl to mow that lawn, and was privy to the next installment of this sheep saga. Oh yes, one sheep had done a runner and had energized almost everyone to scramble all over the forest, looking for it.
Once all the hide & seekers have been found, a new paddock will see them grazing and looking mighty pretty. These sheep, as far as I can gather are the new producers of goat cheese for one of the local eateries.
Quizzy as I am, I will make sure my walk this morning leads me passed the sheep-paddock! When I did the to-be-expected cooing yesterday:
" Oh how cute, I want sheep for our yard too! "the master of the house informed me that our fences would be a walk in the park for ingenious sheep.
Farm animals must be the coolest thing ever and in our future I see a few horses, cows, sheep and perhaps a pig or two. Oh yes Bob, our hitherto tranquil mornings will then be taken up by mucking out stables and feeding the crew.
Life in our village is tops!
Sunday brings with it that wonderful feeling of being on holiday albeit for only a short time. Sleeping in is the norm, a leisurely breakfast is a must and reading a Sunday Paper a bonus. ( Gosh, do you know that the New York Times Sunday edition is so full of things that you could read it all Sunday? )
In that lovely state between waking up and still being in la la land, I had the fabulous idea of having breakfast at Aloisia's but Bob put damper on this idea. Oh yes, he has a 10 am practice with his fire brigade. Really, Herr Kommandant, on a Sunday?...at least part of our village will get fit with all this extra running practice.
Breakfast at home it is and to be honest we have all the ingredients needed for a great one. Leisurely it won't, at least for Bob. At lunch time I will have to do the arduous task of tasting white wine. Oh golly gosh, hardship indeed.
My mum asked me to taste her white wine and as long as it is nicely chilled I will do as my mum asks!!!
Talking about chilled white wine, the other day we were out at a Buschenschank and dare I say that the white wine was far from chilled! Not nice and it does affect the taste of it, for me at least... The wine must be so chilled that the outside of the wine glass is cloaked in dew.
Can I mention that in Summer I put my red wine into the fridge? Room temperature is fine in Winter but when it is 35 degrees outside, the red must be chilled. In South Africa, most of us did put ice cubes into our full wine glasses and even restaurants put a bowl of ice cubes on the table.
The trick of course is to either drink your wine quickly before the ice cube melts or to freeze mineral water. When it melts into your wine, it won't disturb the taste much.
Sunday afternoons in our house are spent very leisurely. Of course now that the weather is inundating us with delightful sunshine, sitting outside and listening to birds chirping, dogs barking and catching the odd bit of conversation of villagers walking passed is rather nice and relaxing.
A typical Sunday where we graze & laze all day tends to ground us and make us realize how nice it is to spend time with family and at home...
One only gets to realize it, once you move to a new place or new country. A new life means being incognito for a while at least and like anything else in life, you only realize what you are missing when you don't have it! Oh, very philosophical indeed...
We take it for granted that on the way to a shop, work or school someone will greet you, wave or stop you for a chat. Yet, this only happens when you've grown roots in the community. Having roots is naturally easy when you've lived there from year dot, but when you move there in year dot plus 40, nothing is certain.
Bob and I did our weekly shop in Güssing yesterday because on the way, there is an old age home and I wanted to pop in for a few minutes to say Hello to a former ' Eisenberger '( she was so happy to be thought of, that I think I got more out of this visit ). Bob was extraordinarily patient and waited in the car...in fact I could have chatted for longer as Bob had dozed off in the warm sunshine...
At about lunchtime we got into Güssing central ( don't be fooled, it is just bigger than a village yet very scenic and pretty complete with a medieval castle ). As we were waiting to cross the road traffic was abundant, for Güssing that is, and we both waited patiently next to the road.
A vaguely familiar looking car stopped in the road and also stopped traffic behind and we thought, wow what a friendly motorist...well, it turns out that it was the mum of one of our English tots and she had recognized Bob and I straight away. Of course she couldn't stop and chat but a friendly and vigorous wave from her and her son, made all the difference to Bob and I.
Feeling good, I ducked into the pharmacy and Bob paced outside, waiting for me.
Do you also have to bribe your husband to patiently wait for you? Somehow, men don't understand how we love to read each and every word on each and every package handled by us in a cosmetics section...and come to think of it, even in the supermarket!
Eventually I finished my shop ( luckily for me, Bob doesn't always wear his watch!!! ) and was surprised to see Bob smiling. It turned out, that while he was waiting for me on the pavement outside the pharmacy, a bus drove passed and the bus driver opened the window and shouted:
" Hello Bob! "Our neighbour had recognized Bob. Recognized him and had taken the effort to give a greeting. Those seemingly insignificant moments are really what make life so enjoyable and special.
" I think you should turn around and take some photos of where we entered the forest. Show your readers our backyard! "
A couple of our neighbours keep horses and go for out rides in the forest. On horseback it must elevate the feeling of peacefulness even more...Our forest, a nice and necessary place of nature.
Some might not remember Al Gore and his run for the US Presidency, yet it was not that long ago. In the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, and if it weren't for a recount of votes in Florida, Al Gore could have become the leader of America 15 years ago. Looking back, that was the most crucial time indeed. A time where a change in status quo was needed.
Mr Gore would have been first and foremost for our planet and its survival. He would have made different decisions and even if unpopular at the time, it would have become norm and acceptable.
This new era of Greed 2.0 might have been avoided, one hopes! What do I mean by this: This new way of life where only bigger and better is the thing to have, has implications. Firstly there is a constant need to make more money. Invest more money. And if there is money around to invest, stuff gets made / done / destroyed in the process.
Do you think the almost depression of 2007-2012 could have been avoided under Al Gore's rule?
The world is constantly building more structures while a lot of older ones stay unoccupied. How much more can our Planet still absorb and take? Just about anything that gets made today, hurts the ozone layer. That pesky little phrase that most of us have been ignoring or lamenting as a lie. Much easier to pretend to be ostriches, isn't it?
We have all been seeing the effect of our collective greed. Nature is saying, enough already. No more. How many more natural disasters and calamities must nature send us before we take real notice?
My generation might still be able to run in meadows, drink water from a stream or eat real homegrown vegetables, when we are in our old age. but I think that a lot of you with young children do worry about their future.
It has been mentioned, that 2015 is the last turning point for us. Collectively we need to change right now, or all those fears buried deep in our hearts, will become a realistic reality...
Every now and again the mood strikes Bob. The mood to visit his local bar. Well it isn't the type of bar you picture ( like Rover's Return or Cheers ) but a place where they sport an over-sized TV so large that you'll develop a squint ( might I mention that the younger contingent have organized a PlayStation there ), a snooker table and of course the manna for all ills...ice cold Puntigamer.
Some of the local gals do go there, but it is trés noisy and smoky and unless you're in your 20's those attributes aren't a draw card for gals. Bob usually ventures out alone and why not. We ladies lunch or do coffee's ( some almost daily ) and men do the Bar-visits.
Whereas we exchange interesting details about our lives over a cup of coffee and a black forest cake ( depending on the level of detail, we might go for the stronger Chardonnay! ) men hang out in bars. Their local bar and as corny as it sounds, a place where everyone knows their name!
There isn't a place on earth like it for men. A beer in hand, a game of soccer on the telly and fellow men to share it with. No irritating questions such as:
" Honey, why is that man standing in front of the net? "A local bar, when not full of us ladies, is also a place where our men can relax, scratch where they shouldn't and eat the ubiquitous peanuts on offer. Somehow, I tend to think that the main attraction might be that it is also a place where our men can exchange irritating details of their lives / wives. I can almost picture a group of guys playing a game of Who can trump this :
" Oh, I can trump that. Can you believe it, she asked me to pick up my dirty socks! How dare she..."
" Oh, that is nothing. Mine had the nerve to ask me to wash the dishes! "The nice bit for us poor ladies is of course that often the recipients of these awful marriage details, mostly forget all after a few more Puntigamers...Shoo, lucky save!
Bob's local is only about 300 meters down the road and he can walk there and hopefully back. Unlike his local in South Africa, I don't have to stress that anything happened to him if he is not home on time. When he is late toddling in, I just hope he'll remember all those interesting detail of Who can trump this in the morning.
Bob put his foot down and was adamant about the daisies. He just loves daisies and even though the wild sort are a dime to a dozen in our backyard, the daisies that Bob wanted were slightly different and for our window boxes.
You know, wherever you travel in our part of Burgenland, during Summer the windows come alive with colour and abundance. Almost every window in every village boasts a display of flowers in the aptly named window boxes. Last year the trend was a sort of peony with the only difference being the colour of them.
One thing Bob is not fond of, is uniformity ( Bob, back in the day ahem those early 1990's, was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt under a short sleeve one. Now that look is copied world wide it seems ). Anyway, in Oberwart there are a few Garden Centers and on Thursday we did our weekly shop, and also stocked up at this emporium. Oh yes, you could call it a Mega Garden shop and when you meander through the well laid out lanes, it is hard not to put plants and flowers into your trolley.
Bob, declined my suggestion of peonies for the window boxes, and headed for the daisy display. Can you believe it, they even have blue and pink ones! Luckily for me, Bob only wanted the yellow and white ones and with masterly fervour selected an appropriate amount for two window boxes.
We are both not so sure if they will prosper in them, but we will certainly try. On Thursday it was another scorcher of a day that would have made Johannesburg proud. Thirty degrees - hot and dry. As we were heading for the checkout in the Garden centre ( which is jolly hard to get to without being bombarded with divine displays of flower power ), Bob suddenly stopped in his tracks and muttered:
" Oh look, there is the friendly girl who helped us the other day! "The other day, was actually 30 days ago and I think that friendly was only one of the adjectives that would be appropriate for this young womam. Oh, she was a stunner and as it was hot, she was wearing shorts. Bob, pretended to inspect some more plants, and didn't think I would notice his admiring glances. Aha, now I know why we chose this particular garden center!
It is actually rather funny how men ( Bob ) react when they get caught having a glance...Bob gets all blustery and drops that well used one liner.
" What woman do you mean because I didn't see anyone? "Little does Bob know, that I just like to tease him and see his stunned reaction that I could have noticed his, oh so obvious moves.
Oh course, I have to confess that there are certain shops I favour for perhaps a similar reason...oh my, the other day my eye was examined by an oh so dishy opthamologist...my new eye-doctor of choice...
Married life, I love it.
" Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. " Kenneth Grahame ( 1859-1932 ) The wind in the Willows 1908
" With the brush we merely tint, while the imagination alone produces colour. " Theodore Gericault ( 1791-1824 ) letter c.1821
" They ( the poor ) have to labour in the face of the majestic equality of the law, which forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
Anatole France-pen name of Francois Anatole Thibault ( 1844-1924 ) Le Lys rouge 1894
" You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. "Norman Douglas ( 1868-1952 ) South Wind 1917
" The average man is more interested in a woman who is interested in him than he is in a woman - any woman - with beautiful legs. " Marlene Dietrich ( 1904-1992 )
" Study the past, if you would divine the future. " Confucius ( 551-479 BC. )
" There are only two families in the world, as an old grandmother of mine used to say: the Haves and the Have-nots. "Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra ( 1547-1616 ) Don Quixote
" We must love one another or die." W H Auden ( 1907-1973 ) ' September 1, 1939 '
" My old man and the forest. "