Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Colourful Bookend Of March.

Hard to believe that tomorrow we'll all be fools!

The Burgenland Troika...Vines, Fruit trees & the vibrant kaleidoscope of nature dotted everywhere and reminding us that is is a piece of paradise.
Seemingly nothing special, yet it is the lifeblood of nature. A place for bees to recharge and be nourished, and a place for the air to take a breather.
A perfect setting for a murder mystery, don't you think? The nebulous haze lingering in the air reminds me of those old black & white movies such as: The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels

To refresh your mental browser, another image of brightness...these Forsythia shrubs are gracing many a garden in our village and it is so lovely to see flashes of yellow while driving through.
A budding crab apple shrub right outside our front door. With each day, more and more spill out of their winter dormancy. Very soon all will be abuzz with the yellow & black lifesavers...bees.
Isn't it a nice image of nature to bid March adieu and welcome April, despite starting a bit foolishly!


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Suddenly, Tea Has Center Stage.

What's it to be, tea or coffee?

In some way I feel rather shabby right now for all the scoffs I've uttered and muttered towards those who tend to wake up with a cup of tea.

" Really, tea first thing in the morning? That surely doesn't get rid of the cobwebs? "

Did I mention, that I have drunk tea for years, but not as a wake me up beverage?...The tide has turned and for the last few weeks, tea is favourite as soon as I am awake and I know why.

Bob and I have been given a fantastic coffee machine. One of those professional ones but not a capsule one!, because I wouldn't have those in my house. This delightful machine more than makes up for its hefty circumference with the freshly ground cups of java it percolates. There is one draw back, a tiny tends to be noisy, enough to awaken the slumbering giant.

As we've packed the filter coffee maker away along with the ground coffee, I had a choice of making tea or waking up a not-fond-of-waking-up-before-the-sun man...pulling the proverbial tiger's tail would be more fun and so I chose tea. In Bob's defense, I do get up at 5 bells and as I have been sporting his wedding ring for years, he doesn't see why he should impress me by getting up early. Oh, those days of courtship and going for early walks together!

Drinking tea in most European neighbourhoods is not the same as drinking tea in the English and formerly colonial countries. Let me warn you right here, that when you go into a cafe in Austria and order tea, chances are you will get a fruit or herbal tea. A pot of tea might only be served at special hotels in the metropolis.

Politely asking for a spot of milk to mingle with the tea tends to make people shiver in distaste. Tea & milk is a foreign concept indeed, but I love it. Milky tea, is there anything better? Oh, naturally it has to be a white cup, and not a dainty one either.

Not all tea is the same though and tea fanatics can be as enthusiastic as wine lovers. At the moment I drink the 5 Roses tea that Bob brought back from his trip back to S.A. and when this stash is depleted I will have to go on a couple of tea-tastings. A tea without strength is like a wine without alcohol and what would be the point to that?


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

And Just Like That The Long Weekend Has Evaporated.

The teaching & learning ranks are one step ahead of the game.

Many an unwilling worker will be queuing up on the never ending long road to work. Traffic jams will induce the much rested yet always alert tempers to flare and I hope that the radio stations are using their trump cards...BeeGees, Abba, Frank Sinatra, Elton John and the like.

Protest all you like, but just about everyone calms down and enters the content zone when any of the classics by the above are played. Let's rather all be groupies of Wayne's World than of the finger flaunting group.

As for the idiom of Trump card, I think it is high time to drop it from our vocabulary as it does make the mind stray into marshlands of politics which seems to have eschewed the Queensberry Rules...

Sugar highs are almost instantaneous and sadly stay a while and with one of the main commercial focus of Easter being the having, hoarding and hiding of chocolate Easter eggs, one can just about imagine the crash on the other side of this mega sugar high. Bad tempers, tiredness and generally slower pace are more than likely on the cards of businesses.

Of course the teaching establishments are a huge and clever step ahead. They are only returning tomorrow and cunningly have kept the sugar affected kids in the care of their parents for another day. Hoping of course, that the chocolates would have all been eaten on Monday...

Mondays should be painted red in calendars but then, Tuesday is the new Monday and then what? Even though we've all had a taste of a Monday being a holiday, the spectre of Tuesday looms just as large. Being in the glass half full category, at least the advent of Friday moves that much nearer.

Luckily for me, the first order of my work schedule is to meet for a long walk with a group of villagers. With the elation of a post walk-work-out last week, it was arranged for today and I hope nobody has has fallen prey to this long weekend bug.


Monday, 28 March 2016

And Just Like That The Hooks Of Opulence Have Found Its Prey.

All it took was Easter...

Honestly, by now I am all chocolated out and you might as well call me Sweet Cheeks! What is it about those tier one holidays that make us lose all sense of time, and willpower and yet at the same time hone our orientation skills?

Like bloodhounds we can locate any and all morsels in our larders, kitchens, fridges and beyond. A back up plan or rather the one place open during this holiday is imprinted in the back of our minds.

Our Easter breakfast started off rather humbly with eggs, ham and homemade bread but morphed into a much more opulent occasion with my parents bringing a whole lot of goodies, and a rather nice surprise too.

Before they were both through the door, I heard a shout of

* " Oh, darn ! " ...or something along those lines!
accompanied by the shattering sound of a bottle. As no one was hurt, I took it for what it was...another christening of our home. A good luck ceremony one step better than the champagne bottled bow. Our delightful home was blessed with a bottle of green gold or rather Pumpkin Seed oil...and yes, just in case you are wondering, the front step is a tad bit on the shady side of green.

But back to the breakfast table which was now laden with salmon, boiled eggs, chocolate eggs, bars of chocolate, homemade blackberry jam, freshly baked rolls and a glass of white wine to chase, it was more of a brunch. Quite literally I was sitting at the table not too sure what to eat first, next or even last, but like the trooper I am, I did lighten the load.

Are you also afflicted with that strange phenomena of being hungry not even an hour after an opulent meal? In a way it might be the lure of a fully stocked fridge, stocked with ready-to-eat goodies ( the original finger food ) calling my name and of course Schatzi's too. Amazing how nimble of foot he gets when he tries to sneak a peak at the fridge without me knowing!

The time change is still afflicting my behaviour and I blame it for my trying to eat yet another Easter egg at four in the morning...How scandalous indeed! Oh well, in the words of Scarlet O'Hara:

" Fiddle-de-dee, tomorrow is another day "


Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Riddle Of The Annual Flux Of Time, Gets Me Every Time!

Easter Sunday with an added twist.

Honestly, that wasn't a good time to change the clocks. Summer time and Winter time sound more like a Fred Astaire ditty from the 1930's than the annual irritating time change overs.

I can't say that I am brilliant, but at least I can still add in my head which comes in jolly handy while in the supermarkets or restaurants, which is nothing to be scoffed at...Yet, this simple and rather simplistic time change has me stymied! Are we ahead or behind time? Sad but true!

Did you also love learning the time ( oops, sorry about the pun ) tables as a child and asking all and sundry to test you on the 8's, 9's & 10's?

Let's get back to this Sunday morning, a day squashed into the middle of a long weekend and of course a main Holy day for some and a major holiday for the rest. Bob and I are quite excited and happy to have my parents for a long, leisurely Sunday breakfast at our house. One of those delightful affairs where eggs, bacon ( oh drat Bob, we've forgot the bacon ), ham, homemade bread, chocolate, etc. will grace the table.

As to the ham, it is a special one because it survived three days unopened in our fridge! Bob, every time he opened this appliance, uttered his " Ooh, look what I found! " which almost had me put a sticker on the packet: Hands off! Sunday breakfast fodder.

The best laid plans usually don't get off the ground. As both of us tend to hover mostly in the
Oh, let's do everything at the last moment corner, we now seem to have lost one hour in which to do everything...that is unless my parents are also confused with this time change and perhaps arrive an hour later? Although I think they will be led by their growling stomach, and choose the right time.

Why is a simple one hour so difficult to work out and into the day? Those who don't have digitalized time instruments ( TV, computer, alarm clock ) will have to be alert to get to the church on time...Imagine getting married today and not being sure if one has been stood up or has the pleasure of marrying a timeless classic.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Forest Mushrooms, Humble Yet Slightly Elusive In Nature.

A walk to the office...

Yesterday, I literally walked to work but work of a different sort. A morning appointment to accompany a slightly older lady on an hours walk. Before you scoff and snort about such being anything but work, turn your mind inwards towards those good intentions to walk and where they are gathering dust...

We all need some encouragement and if you knew that I was waiting outside your door to take you for a walk, excuses would be null and void...somehow, strangely enough my powers of persuasions seem to have no impact at all closer to home because Bob tends to put on his earphones to tune out my nagging.

The only way to get him walking is to mention that I encountered a handsome ( and rather fictitious ) young man on my walk...
eh voila, just like that his aching toe, hamstring or pinkie are forgotten!

Anyway, this delightful lady and I were careering around the neighbourhood and decided to take a turn in the forest. As I am not too fond of forest meanderings on my own or with someone who is a forest novice, I made sure that she knew how to get out of the forest sans breadcrumbs.

Gosh, I needn't have worried as she told me that firstly she loves mushroom hunting and secondly that she has walked in and through the local forests all her life. Great stuff. For a while we picked our way over slightly rain-soaked terrain and she pointed out the much desired mushroom hot spots. The season is still a month or so away, but she mentioned that unless you get there at the crack of dawn none are left over.

My parents go mushroom hunting each season although the last one was bereft of fungi as the rains were a bit scarce.( Fantastic for the vines though as they adore the heat and dryness. The local 2015 vintage will be out of this world! ) Honestly, I do have a healthy respect for these handpicked forest mushrooms. My mum has a mushroom bible at home which even puts the skull & crossbones next to the relevant pictures, but she hardly uses it anymore!!!

When she cooks the divine smelling mushrooms for all of us, I tend to abstain because someone has to drive to the hospital after all...but perhaps this season I'll take the plunge into the culinary adventures of handpicked forest mushrooms. My favourite way to prepare them is as a sort of cream laden, topped with parsley stew alongside a homemade Knödel...

Ah, is there anything better than being with family, eating simple yet mouthwatering food while drinking a beverage that is fit for the Gods and which the Romans have already enjoyed ?


Friday, 25 March 2016

Never Underestimate The Power Of A Great Set Of Gleaming Teeth.

No wonder dentists & orthodontists are smiling brightly all the way to the bank...

A visit to the local surgery reminded me of it. Waiting in line to get medication I happened to see one of the local young women sitting there on the bench and she greeted me with a smile and a whispered Hello, as one does when the waiting room is packed with a bored and well hearing crowd. Gosh, nobody ever imagines that anyone else can hear them, especially if they are afflicted with hearing aids.

A few weeks ago I bit off more than I could chew and had to frequent the less popular branch of medicine...the dentist. For some reason I was talking to one of the mothers, a mother with a twelve year old boy, about my dread of the dentist. Not surprisingly she isn't fond of them either and it wasn't long before the two of us were comparing teeth.

We both grew up in the era of Coca Cola, sugar, ice creams and chips with our gnashers reflecting this diet although, reflecting is not the right word because the mercury tends to take the shine out of everything. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't get gold fillings because that would have been a bit embarrassing never mind dangerous.

While we lamented the state of our less than pearly white teeth ( have you ever tried to keep your teeth white while giving in to the lure of coffee and red wine? Oh, and dark chocolate... ) her son was listening to us and sported an expression of Oh my god, what next?. Naturally his teeth have been filled and drilled with the white stuff.

So there were the two of us older lot, showing our rows of teeth very akin to horses drawing back their lips before trying to nip you. Not a pretty sight! Well, out of the blue her son dropped a comment that made us smile:

" You know, Sophie * from Deutsch Schützen has the most perfect, white and beautiful teeth I've ever seen."

* Naturally in a village the size of ours, I had to change her name!
Classic to know that young lads do also take notice of a gleaming set of white teeth....especially in an attractive woman who's in her mid twenties!


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Close Encounter With Another Eschewed Good Intention.

The roads are littered with them.

Walking with a friend who happens to be single, yesterday, I had a moment's pause when she was ( and I hope it was a generalization ) spewing forth on the #1 relationship killer...The Television! Gosh, I nearly stumbled over my guilt and it reached dangerous levels when she mentioned the bad form of eating dinner in front of the evil thing.

My whole walk I listened to her with only one ear while in my mind was trying to count the times Bob and I have sat at the dinner table for supper.

You know, she might have a point and perhaps that is another major contributor to this unbelievable high divorce rate. Just the other day someone mentioned a couple deciding to split after they had just celebrated their Golden, really, they should have just done it after the Silver one!

Distant memories of being single broke through the -What should I cook for dinner?- thought pattern which is ever present with us married folk. There were so many good intentions I was not only going to adopt, but to keep for good. None of those silly mistakes I saw the braggers do. You know, those irritating couples that dress alike, talk alike, sound alike and never ever fight.

Ruminating, for an hour's walk, on the evils of television ( sadly I am a loyal disciple ) and how to re-introduce this good intention, that I or perhaps even Le Bob had thrown by the wayside very likely mere minutes after the courting stage was done & dusted. Perhaps it was both of us when we realized the joys of watching Friends re-runs while tucking into a nice homemade pizza.

Well, the minute I got home, I broadsided Bob:

" I was just reminded how bad it is for any relationship to watch TV while eating or in fact while being awake. We should eat at the dinner table from now on, with the evil one turned off! "

Ironically enough, it took a minute before Bob even heard me over the noise of Puls Vier Frühstück TV but when he did, he raised his eyebrows with exaggerated care, sighed a long sigh and reigned in my abundant silliness with one sentence:

" Honey, we've been happily together for nearly 13 years with the TV on, why change a good thing? "

Just goes to show that I married well...


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Random Fleeting Chance Encounters Are What Make Life More Colourful.

Just an average day...

As you know, yesterday was kept clear of everything except the bottling of wine. I don't know about you, but I tend to think that this is the most important step in the viticulture else would you ever get to drink the wine?

Each year we hone down the set up procedure and make it flow more smoothly and this year we were on track to have a flawless start until my mum realized that the filters were the wrong size. Never mind, we drove to Deutsch Schützen's Lagerhaus to get some more.

It was a sunny morning and I was waiting in the car, just as well because it was nice to sit there and see the minutiae of village life pass by. Some villagers on foot, some on bicycles and some in motorized vehicles aka tractors.

Some ignored me, but some didn't. After five years of being entrenched in this fabulous village lifestyle ( eh, Bob and I are now Village People ) I know most by sight and quite a few from these random chance encounters. Be they in the local grocery shop, in the bank or at the various functions in and around our village.

Well, there I was perusing villagers and one came out of the Lagerhaus with his dog by his side. Waving and smiling I greeted him and he waved and smiled back. All in all we perhaps exchanged two to three sentences with the weather and dog being the main topics of conversation, before he got into his car and drove off.

For me, these types of chance encounters with friends and acquaintances are what make life highly enjoyable and interesting. These few minutes of seemingly superficial conversation are really the essence of life...connecting with others and feeling included.

As for the bottling of wine, we had a long 10 hour day and managed to bottle the red, white and Uhubler wines. Please don't feel bad for me, because some of these bottles are definitely heading my way...Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more!

After our 10 hour day of bottling, bending down, picking up heavy crates and having fun ( really! ) we were a tad bit exhausted at the end of our day. Bob was even too tired to be in the picture...


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Spring Cleaning Into An Abundant Kellerstoeckl Season.

The joys of spring do involve a bucket, water and organic cleaning material.

Somehow it has established itself as the season for visitors to imbibe in the manna of our bit of Burgenland. Sunshine, nature, wine and peace coupled with quiet. April to October is almost set in stone, yet for me, Winter has many aspects of a beautiful holiday wrapped in it.

As cute and small as the Kellerstöckls are, a spring clean is still a spring clean and takes time and energy. At first it always seems a bit daunting, knowing that each and ever corner of it will be brushed, washed and polished but after a few minutes, memory returns and it is almost fun and the best part is being with my mum. The two of us have established a nice cleaning routine and apply it throughout the season.

Imagine spending a few days in this charming, cute, romantic and affordable holiday cottage in the middle of a vineyard...

Easter is not far off and it has been whispered that the thermometer might reach into the 20's. How fabulous! Vienna only being a hop skip and a jump away, I think that there might be a few clever Viennese coming to spend a long weekend with us in Burgenland.

" Dear Viennese, just imagine stocking up on the divine Burgenland sunshine & wine straight from the source. "

Now that spring is officially stamped on everyone's calendar, the hills are alive with the music of wires being pulled, people chatting while tending the vines and the clicking sound of the Nordic walking sticks.

Today, is another nice working day coupled with wine making...filling the bottles of wine. This will be Bob and my fifth year of helping with the wine making process and it is another nice tradition to have.

Memories have already been imprinted and as always I will think of my uncle who passed away two years ago. He always had a sense of humour second to none and it was great fun filing the bottles of wine alongside him. He, no doubt will be watching us from a comfortable chair up above, while sipping the wine from there... ( gosh, I do hope they serve wine up there... ).


Monday, 21 March 2016

Living In An Old Farmhouse Isn't For The Faint Of Heart.

If walls could talk...

The creaks and groans don't happen to a schedule but surprise one often in the middle of the night. Either a footfall above in our attic, which luckily we've assigned to either our feral cat outside ( she gets fed every day, so being feral might be not the right term ) or the odd Marten doing its nefarious thing. Believe me, fresh of the boat we spent many a sleepless night.

In the times of B.C eh, Before Cat, we've heard the scurrying of tiny mice feet, the dropped items and let me tell you it took a lot of courage to fall asleep...wondering if they were agile enough to climb up onto the bed?

By the way, most houses along the edge of the crop fields get unwelcome visitors after harvesting. Not just us I'll have you know!

Since our beloved cat has entered our life, the mice have left the building ( either through the front door, back door or digestive tract ) but the noises have stayed behind.

In good faith, I assign most of them to little Mausi...but some are just too odd. I wasn't sure if I had dreamt it, but I could have sworn that I was in a production of Romeo & Juliet. I heard the sound of pebbles hitting our window.

A case of " Bob, oh Bob, where art though?
but oddly, I knew he was slumbering next to me. Never mind, I went back to sleep.

A few winks later as Bob got up to make us coffee, he let out a little chuckle. It seems our cat has a clothes fetish. We've got a lovely old wardrobe with the top half consisting of shelves enclosed by glass framed doors. The place for jerseys, jeans etc. Well, it turns out that Mausi likes comfort too, because she jumped up into this warmly padded shelf after having found the door ajar, sometime in the middle of last night.

She must have been scratching an ear and mistakenly hit the glass with her claws, which might account for the pebble sound!

Oddly enough, she plays musical chairs with her slumbering arrangements. Only the other day, Bob made her a throne fit for a feral queen which lies gathering dust nowadays. On Saturday she discovered our clothes hamper ( the pre-wash one ) and had seen it fit to sleep in.

So far, she has almost slept everywhere and if we are not careful, our house will resemble a feline hotel, with various sleeping perches in every room... No, my princess, I think you'll have to go back to sleeping in your wicker basket. You know, the one that Daddy outfitted with soft cushions and a soft warm blanket.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

A Sunny Sunday Morning In Burgenland.

A sporting day ahead and hopefully complemented with cake...

We nearly forgot about all the sport happening today because we were out and about yesterday afternoon. As one does?! The Eisenberg Fire Department had an open day to show off their new truck. And a beauty it is too.

Bob was in his regalia and also jolly cross that I ( for once ) didn't have my camera on hand to depict him in various poses around the hoses. The local kids were in their element looking at this real life version of the red truck, and I think they were and still are spewing forth excitement because they all were given a ride on the red truck. A ride with klaxons too!

Their faces said it all and some kids managed to squeeze in for more than one ride around the block. At one stage the cheeky firemen announced a ride along for all the older ladies and I was so shocked when they looked at me as well, that I missed the opportunity. Apparently there were more than a few older ladies and the truck was full!

Just goes to show that most of us women go weak at the knees for a fireman on a truck...

Perhaps next time. This morning I was planning mundane stuff such as what to make for breakfast when the voice of reason and knowledge ( eh, not God but Bob ) asked why I wasn't watching the Formula One? Oh, you have never seen such a fast sprint towards the telly and luckily we'd only missed the first seven laps although at the moment the race has stopped due to a bad though luckily, no injuries, accident.

Today is the one Sunday of each year, where the Formula One and the Alpine Skiing collide. After today, the skiing is on hiatus until November and just to tide us over, the Formula One will take over on Sundays.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Mighty Paw Of The Law.

A new sheriff's at home...

The innocence just beams out of her eyes...Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth....
" What, do you think I swung from the curtain? It was somebody else! "

Bob, in a booming voice tried to tell her off for swinging on the kitchen curtain. Well, best laid plans etc tend to fly out the window or out both ears. As you can see, the paw came out and if she could, she would have sniggered
Oh, it was so cute to watch. There is Bob wagging a finger at her and saying:
" No, Mausi, don't swing on the curtain! "
and she again, pawed him out of the way. Naturally, Bob couldn't keep up his stern demeanor and almost collapsed into a fit of laughter.
...guess who's got Bob wrapped around her little paw? She of course thought Bob was playing with her and just for good measure she provided a running commentary...
In the end, Bob left it at doing a High Five gesture and walked away knowing that at least the new Boss in Town has giving him the okay...( he is already her slave and you can literally see his heart plop at her feet )
She is afraid of no one and nothing...


Friday, 18 March 2016

A Collective Cheer Went Up All Over Austrian Schools This Morning: Easter Holidays!

Not just the pupils but the parents too.

Somehow not having children ( sorry Mausi, close your are our little bundle of joy ) we skate blissfully unaware passed that fast lane occupied by harassed, stressed out and at the end of their tether parents.

As much as most kids hate going to school and have a running countdown to any and all holidays, so do the parents dislike the effort needed to get their kids to school each morning. A packed lunch is the least of their problems. Wanting the best for your loved ones does mean going to school twice.

Homework isn't just supervised, but often done with them, even though the parents themselves have had a long and stressful day at work and would much rather put up their feet and watch a soap opera.

Maths is of course a subject where most parents have to call in a tutor because cunningly the Math Teachers' of the world have changed the material each and every year. If you don't believe me, just have a squizz at a school Maths book. If you can do any of the Math exercises, I will bow my head with respect! Parents definitely won't be doing the homework...

School was more fun back in the day. Oh, of course we all hated it at some point but on the whole it was a fun place to spend the day. Not too difficult to traverse. We still had time to play outside in junior school and laze around our bedroom in high school.

Looking at the schedule ( yes, a better word because a timetable denotes an easier day ) most kids have, makes me sad. When you include the homework given each day, most of the young kids are working 8-10 hour days, and often leave for school before 7 am. Especially children with perhaps dyslexia spend even more time each day preparing and catching up.

Well, after today they will be on holiday for about two weeks. Some will go away and some will just spend each precious minute of their holidays doing everything that isn't related to school...

Happy holidays...


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Luckily St. Patrick's Day Took The Snow Away.

What a crazy day it was yesterday...

Snow in the morning followed by sunshine in the afternoon, was a lot to digest. That hour in the morning that a snow storm threatened to descend on Eisenberg had us fire up both ovens full force. Our cat didn't know which perch to choose and did an alternating slumber option.

Bob even organized a piece of soup meat and made a mean soup for supper. If you ever have the option, try making a soup on a wooden fire, either a la campfire or a la Aga. Even the prelude to eating this soup is surrounded by divine aromas wafting through the house. Possibly the drops of broth landing on a hot iron surface...

By sunset, the sun really set and it had me wonder whether it was all in my imagination because if someone had told me that a few hours earlier the air was filled with snow flakes, I would have asked him/her to cease drinking.

Being a good wife, I mumbled to Bob that a championship soccer match was being shown on TV and surprise surprise, he heard me loud and clear. I did say that I mumbled, didn't I?

We settled in to watch the game, and true to form, I only became a spectator three quarters in...oh, that couch of ours must be sprinkled with laudanum. So, there I snorted awake as one does when slumbering elegantly in front of the telly when Bob did a cheer of note.

After an almost written off match, Bayern Munich scored their first goal. Oh, I was awake and with the luck of the Irish (!), was able to see Müller do his magic just before the end, which luckily extended for another half hour. And what a fantastic overtime it turned out to be.

Love him or hate him, but Pep the trainer is fantastic. His team stepped it up a gear and did what great teams do when the pressure is on...they won. Even without Robben ( flue ), Schweinsteiger ( Man U ) and others. I don't know about you, but I see a few trophies floating towards Munich, perhaps even three.


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

It's Raining Snow!

Could the Easter eggs be buried in snow this year?

" Never count your chickens before they have hatched ", seems like a good idiom to live by. A few days ago, the skies were brilliant in their azure colours, the sun was beaming a lovely warm smile and Bob would have worn his shorts, if I hadn't put them away at the end of last summer.

Warm being a relative term and what is shorts & T-shirt weather in Burgenland ( 12-15 Degrees ) is a cause to cuddle up in a few blankets in South Africa.

It started yesterday afternoon with one of those weird weather situations. The sun was trying to pierce through a dull blanket of cloud and all of a sudden, a gust came up and carried snow flakes in it. We both looked out the window in disbelief at seeing many snow flakes doing their spiral tango.

Well, that lasted a few hours and perhaps went elsewhere but now this morning, it is back with a vengeance. Why do I call it a rainy snow? Well, the roofs are wet and yet there are many flakes dropping down. Hopefully it won't be a barrage of snow because it is a bit late in the season and the kids are all looking forward to hunting down the hidden Easter eggs in the gardens.

Easter seems to have snuck up on us out of nowhere...just the other day we were having a lovely Christmas dinner and now another feast is on the immediate horizon. One, that is bracketed by chocolates from all sides. The shops are bursting with all types of Easter paraphernalia and it takes a lot of discipline to walk past the various displays of chocolate without delving in.

There was an amazing program shown on Austrian TV about our area and the many fabulous and interesting people living in it. One lady a few villages away, is an artist who creates the most divine Easter eggs. Real shells, decorated with minute detail and beauty.

This ORF program is about 45 mins long, but also includes many amazing talents of our area. Wine, Food and Art

As for the late flurry of snow flakes: It is getting more intense despite Bob muttering a liturgy of prayers wishing this Winter away...


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Tuesday Blues Or Rather A Podcast From Burgenland.

A few rays of sunshine transform the winter norm...

There is this particular tree at the edge of the forest and it is magnificent in its beauty. The blue skies enhanced it even more.
A podcast of note, isn't it?
Like little worms twisting in the wind.
A blue and grey maze...but wonderfully uplifting for me.
We forget that this stunning tree grew out of a small seed. Nature, simply marvelous...


Monday, 14 March 2016

The High Price Of Privacy.

Twenty years ago, we had less stress.

It isn't as though we have a Smartphone, yet if we had had one, they might have solved our problems earlier. Well, our cell phone is on strike and is refusing to let calls or texts come through and it turns out that because it isn't connected online, there is nothing visible to the cell phone company. Good to know, that a mere cell phone might provide more privacy.

The helpful people at the other end of a phone call to the service provider were nice, but they needed one small yet vital ingredient to make a diagnosis.

Our password for online help

So there I was hanging onto our telephone receiver, moments away from a solution, when the lady asked me for my password.

" Password? Eh, What password? "
" Just the one that allows me to help you over the phone. It is a very easy one, but I need you to say it! "

We invented this password almost five years ago, and for the life of me I cannot remember it or where I would have written it down. Passwords aren't things we keep in open view...just in case someone decides to use them.

You would be within your rights to call us silly, or indeed Buffle-Headed!, to not have written it down, but how many do? Look, Bob and I will have to hot foot it into Oberwart to their shop and they will sort it out. A bit of an inconvenience though.

When you think about it, there are so many different passwords and codes we need to remember these days. It used to be a mere signature at your bank and often it was enough that the teller knew us. That would fall under personal service...

Honestly, I have a yearning for yesteryear with landlines and phone booths


Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sayings Of Another Era...

Some interesting descriptions from another time.

" Active Citizen "
A louse
" Buffle-Headed "
Confused, stupid.
" Covent Garden Nun "
A lady of easy virtue.
" Cupboard Love "
Pretended love to the cook for the sake of a meal.
" Fly Rink "
A polished bald head.
" Butter Upon Bacon "
Too much extravagance.
" Sit-Upons "
" Sneeze-Lurker "
A thief who trows snuff in a person's face, and then robs him.
" Sober-Water "
A jocular allusion to the uses of Soda water.
" Tickle One's Innards "
Have a drink.
" Bags Of Mystery "


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Personalized High Speed Cordless Floor Cleaner.

For all those who love companionship but have a dislike for cleaning floors.

Goodness, this must include mostly everyone. Cleaning our floor isn't something I look forward to and luckily for us, our floors aren't white and we now have one of those cordless magical cleaners.

All those who've put a white floor into their homes must be regretting it by now? This is a magnet for every bit of fluff, dirt and flint on an hourly basis. No, I am so glad we've got wooden floors, and proper wood as opposed to the laminated kind. It changes colour and no, not because of lack of cleaning!!!

Anyway, for the last few months, the few rugs that are scattered about on our floors, have a tendency to move around. At first, Bob and I suspected a ghost ( well, honestly it was just me, as Bob tends to ignore anything to do with the floor ) and it was a tad bit like an Encounter of the Third Kind . Recently, any and all items of clothing discarded willy nilly on the floor also have a tendency to disappear into different rooms.

Well, whereas we humans go for a jog around our neighbourhood, our delightful little kitten loves to rug surf about in our house. Nothing third rate about her, because she takes the proper starting distance of a few meters, before running at the highest speed she has. With great glee, balance and precision, our little Mausi hops onto the middle of the rug and surfs it to better shores.

Adopt a cat in Austria

Too cute indeed and for good measure she does the return trip too. One strip of our floor is gleaming beyond description and all due to her. Marvelous, and all we have to do is to make sure she has enough tidbit to eat. Carbo-loading indeed.

Adopt a cat in the U.S.A.

Socks are of course a staple for this floor cleaner, but the other day while Bob was cat proofing the outside door, I heard an irritated and slightly alarmed Bob utter:

" Schatzi, I'm missing a nail, have you or Mausi taken it? "

Can you believe that he asked a few times while searching for this missing nail. As if I would tease him like that...he quickly apologized when he found said nail in Mausi's lair...her perch on a windowsill...

Here endeth another episode of:Catabury tales of Bob and Biggi


Our exhausted Mausi taking a break from surfing...

Friday, 11 March 2016

Sometimes We Need To Allow Ourselves To Be, Just To Be.

Most of us have that silly item of clothing called a societal straitjacket in our wardrobes.

Perhaps it's more noticeable in a small village. Most know each other's business. The other day, a villager asked me why I hadn't walked that morning and told me that she sees me every time I walk out my gate!

In my age group, the childhood of many villagers was coupled with helping out at home. That's what one does when your family farms. Lazing about in your room, just wasn't done! One friend told me that when he got home from school, a list of chores to be done that afternoon was next to his lunch plate. Guess what, he still does chores all day around the house and yard, when he is on leave...

There are a lot of housewives whose kids have left the nest and who have worked hard bringing up children. They really deserve to take life easier and do what what makes them happy because being a housewife is not an 9-5 job but a round the clock occupation.

A housewife who brings up children has in fact worked a full life's worth of work by the time the kids leave home...A housewife's workday often ends after midnight.

One villager told me, that she feels guilty going for a walk in the morning as that might send a signal out to others, that she hasn't got any work to do...

Let's be honest. How often do we do things only because it is expected of us?

" Oh my Gosh, what will the neighbours think, say or whisper? "

  • Getting a bigger house even though the one you have is perfectly fine and paid off.
  • Getting an expensive car to show you've made it.
  • Going on expensive holidays in order to post ' Oh, look at us on holiday ' photos on Facebook.

This constant need to be like the proverbial Jones's ( remember that nowadays our neighbourhood is global ) is like a straitjacket that is keeping us from being, just being...Life is at times difficult enough and often we make it even more so.

Just imagine what our life will feel like once we let go of the need to impress the Jones's...?
Oh, and imagine the money we'll be saving!


Thursday, 10 March 2016

I'll Be Watching Juergen Klopp Tonight!

Manchester United versus Liverpool...

Bob very politely but firmly told me that he'll be watching the game on TV tonight and therefore yours truly will too. Just to get me into the soccer mood, we watched the UEFA game last night, but I fell asleep and Bob didn't see the end either.

This Mr. Klopp has something about him, and even though he tends to project a slightly scruffy look, he has a loyal female fan-club and I put myself in it. Thus, Liverpool will be my team to cheer for.

Tonight is one of those nights that used to be had watching Dallas back in the 80's...supper done early, chips and drinks ready and separate couches occupied. My Schatzi prefers Manchester United to Liverpool and it will give us a healthy bit of competition.

The local pubs and clubs will be filled to the rafters and quite frankly, the noise level might be a tad bit too much. Soccer fans plus beer, equal a lot of noise and rules re-explained to the referee, who of course can hear every word that is thrown at him from every TV screen across the world!

A quick trip to the shops to get the staples needed to enjoy a match ( chips, dip, chocolate ) might be a good idea, and just so I don't nod off before halftime, I think I'll get out a hard backed kitchen chair to sit on instead of the slumber inducing couch.

The game being played between two English clubs will mean that a handful of WAG's (Wives and Girlfriends ) will be decorating the stands and of course causing a thumb-pede online, with women trying to copy their look.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Unexpected Beauty Of An Ordinary Forest.

A walk in the woods...

This almost bare tree drew me like a magnet. It has strength, grace and beauty.
It had rained the night before and perhaps that accounted for the dark and shiny tree trunk.
Same tree yet a different look at the leaves dressing it. The majestic orange bringing to the fore the strength of the trunk.
The pods of all sorts are hanging loosely on the branches waiting to join a gust of wind to see greener pastures...
This tree seemed like a designer made specimen. The trunk, branches and pods are all a heavenly grey. Not everything needs to be fifty shades of it...
The winding, intertwining and snake like branches of trees is amazing and underscores the intelligence of nature.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Fun Of Having A Cat.

Or rather the sheer fun and love of being adopted by a cat!

They say that cats will settle into their owner's routine and it seems that our little bundle of purr, loves to be a couch potato...goodness, where could she have learned that odd behaviour?

Even though she has a few staples of behaviour, no two days are the same. At the moment she has deigned to favour us with sleeping on our ( Bob's or mine ) lap for hours at a time. I tend to use this wonderful treat by asking Bob to do a lot of the chores I should have done:

" Honey, please could you make me a tea, sandwich, cake, curry etc. You know, I can't move Maus as she looks so comfortable. "
At time it even works!

Both of us have learned the basic bits of Meow and we can tell, if she is hungry, fed up, bored, excited or in need of the loo. Yes, each has a different pitch.

Last night she felt in need of security and spent most of it cuddled on me or at my side. Clever as she is, when I turned in my dazed state onto my side, she merely moved off for a moment and when I'd settled myself in a different position, she reclaimed her spot! When she thinks it's time to get up, her little nose will usually touch mine and she will gently nudge me awake.

She is a strong supporter of the Let's stay offline! and the minute I angle my iPad on my lap, she will sit between it and me and obscure my view entirely. A choice of switching off the iPad or move the question, she wins!

The other day, Bob admitted that he loves coming home and being greeted by his little princess...oh, and then he quickly amended it to:

" I love coming home to the cat and you...


A re-run, but too cute not to post again...
...ah, the good life with us...
My favourite photo of her...

Monday, 7 March 2016

Another Successful & Hilarious Village Play.

Relationships tend to bring about laughs or at least knowing smirks.

It almost seems surreal that this was our fourth play to have watched. Time, has a way of flying by. The local thespians put on a tremendous show and had the audience captive to each and every line.

A funny take on relationships and marriage tends to do that and coupled ( eh, sorry ) with local flavour and knowledge, this play was certainly a hit. There are two more performances, so you'd better hurry...

The gist of it was women going on strike ( in all rooms of the house, while vowing not to speak to their other halves ) because their men came home once too often under the weather. Gosh, fiction, true fiction of course! The men did act wonderfully, performing a drunken routine and throughout the play they were imbibing in various pretend (?) alcoholic beverages. My seat was very close to the front and when I watched the various expressions as they knocked back a schnapps or two, I was torn between thinking it was water or indeed the fiery type.

My favourite bit was when an actor playing the part of a twenty year marriage veteran came walking into the scene seemingly on clouds of happiness, saying:

" I am so happy. For the first time in twenty years, she hasn't said a word. Oh, bliss not being nagged at all day long. "
There were plenty of men in the audience laughing out loud and a few women huffing and puffing in defense!

The play had three acts of about half an hour each and I take my hat off to all the actors for knowing all of the lines. Rather impressive and should any have had a lapse of memory, there was even a souffler in the pit.

Intervals are always fun and refreshing. When in the heart of wine-mecca, you can be rest assured that great wines were on offer. No chateux de box here!

A village play is a way to connect with friends, enjoy a good story and a way to have your cares slide off your shoulders. Laughter is indeed one of the best medicines around.


Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Blue Skies Of Spring.

A magical awakening after Winter.

As much as I like the hibernating time of winter, I have to admit that seeing a blue sky that portents a warm day is an elixir for my soul. The birds are tweeting their joy at finding more food with happy abandon and hopefully soon the buzzing of bees will be heard.

Winter is nice and cozy especially whilst reading a book on the sofa, cat on lap and glass of Blaufränkisch at my side. You know, there is just something so fabulous about seeing snow flakes pirouetting towards an awaiting ground because it gives you even more reason to snuggle up.

Of course there are a few minor twitches of dislike associated with winter. Doing laundry, or rather drying laundry is not as easy as it is in warmer weather. We don't own ( nor want ) a tumble dryer, so we hang each load of washing on a rickety clothes rack in the middle of our bathroom. Rather bothersome to hang up a load over those closely set strings.

Oddly enough we also do less laundry over the winter...suspicious indeed! Well, with our recent batch of warmer weather, we've hung up a few loads of washing outside on our beloved washing line. The sun has been appearing at odd times but has been accompanied by a cold wind which ironically enough blew the washing dry that much faster.

Walking about in our neighbourhood, I haven't seen any occupied washing lines and again, Bob and I are the odd ones out, especially since Bob has chopped our hedge to the bare branches. Oh yes, walking passed our place yesterday, I saw a few of my delicates prominently swaying on our line.

Once I was home, I speedily took down those few items and hung them up inside because I didn't want to see them floating all over the neighbourhood due to a gusty wind...

The yellow hue is a welcoming marker on these boulders...
The blue skies are welcome.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

A Chipped Tooth Ensues!

Perhaps I should leave my rock cakes be...

When you live away from shops in rural bliss you develop initiative and in our case, it meant whipping up a batch of rock cakes which I took to be scones, to make a meal. We were going grocery shopping at the end of that day, but lunch still needed to be had.

Most of us have these staples in our cupboards no matter how bare it is. It might have to do with the amount of work to be done in order to eat flour. Who doesn't want to just open the fridge and grab a bit of ham, cheese or cake?

You know, on the whole I do make a good batch of scones and carried on the wave of baking success, I tend to wing it with the measurements and ingredients. A dash of this, a heap of that and a pour of oil. Bob, bless him, always praises my cooking but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a sort of culinary insurance policy, as he wants to have his daily meal...

Well, this particular batch of scones only tasted nice while they were piping hot out the oven, but the second one I ate an hour later took it upon itself to emulate a rock cake and made me chip a tooth. Naturally, you only realize it a bit later when your tongue encounters too many open spaces.

Dentists are in demand on every continent. In South Africa they were booked up weeks in advance and here it is no different. Is that because there aren't that many prepared to become dentists, or because we all have a touch too much sugar in our diets?

My Family - Series 1-7 [12 DVD Box Set] [UK Import]

Anyway, Tuesday will be my day to have it seen to. Toothy Tuesday a week after Super Tuesday. A round of soupy meals has made me long to have one of the local specialties...a Kümmelbraten Brot, but that will have to await the outcome of Toothy Tuesday.


Friday, 4 March 2016

Without Adjectives & Adverbs A Story Might Turn Into A Short One.

Do you know the difference?

Honestly, I had to look it up myself because telling a student that I know it instinctively, doesn't help. They need guidelines to make it through the obstacle course of English Grammar. In a way it's rather fun to rediscover those rules that we learnt in school. We did, didn't we? Both Bob and I can't remember having had to learn complicated grammar...

An adjective describes the noun of the sentence,
while an adverb is used to further enhance the verb.
Of course, nowadays with the brevity of words used in order to not overstep the number of characters allowed, a lot of these beautiful descriptions are lost.
Mary sings beautifully. She sings a beautiful song.
Aunt Mary is a good cook, she cooks well.
Simon is a fair and good football player.
Simon plays fair and well.

There are so many wonderful ways to make a sentence come to life and most of it is due to these two points of English Grammar. What for us seems easy and natural, is rather more difficult to master for the students. Isn't it ironic, that if only they would read three or four books a term, those tricky nuances of the English grammar would be as easy as 1-2-3.

English wouldn't be English, if it didn't include a few exceptions as with these adjectives:

  • do with distance.
  • do with order / ranking.
  • do with time.
  • Late-(the) latter-(the) do with order and ranking.
  • Bad-worse-worst
  • Evil-worse-worst
  • Ill-worse-worst
  • Little-less-least...quantity.
  • Little-small-smallest...size.

You know, at times I had to take a quick look at the answers, because after a while I start to doubt myself...


Thursday, 3 March 2016

A Sobering Thought, Being A Literary Dinosaur

What a poser...

It isn't as if I was a specialist in the literary circles of the Shakespearean age. No, in fact I am a mere upstart of the 20th Century. A phase in time, where good reads were penned.

Somehow I should have known, that when an author ( of course the Bard is an exception ) is used as an extra byline to confuse students or as it is mistakenly referred to as Reading Comprehension, that my joyous question of

" Do you also like Agatha Christie? "
is met with a blank stare and a response of
" Never heard of her. "

A definite case of Oh, my! ...As much as the Twilight Saga has followed in the footsteps of the Harry Potter Sagas, in bringing young kids back to reading, it seems to have stopped for most at these mega books.

Not many have taken the momentum by storm and gone on a book tour of the ages. Most have put a toe across the threshold of unlimited imagination and entertainment but have sadly turned back and dropped the one easy way to go on an adventure whenever and wherever they would have wanted to.

Now and again one does stumble across a few kids who have not only put a toe across, but are living amid the stories held between the covers of a book. The irony is that they are so involved, absorbed and busy reading the next page, that they haven't got the time nor inclination to be online.

Books don't have to be expensive as most schools, villages and towns do have a library. There is something special about meandering down the isles of a library and knowing you can take any book that you feel like reading without it costing much. In Oberwart at the library ( it is rather small, I have to admit ) they only charge for late returns and then only a few cents a week...

Going to the library also teaches one very important aspect of knowledge...

Finding your way around the alphabetical way of storage. Be it books or words in a dictionary....another one of those " unheard of " books penned in the 20th century!


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Burying My Head In A Historic Novel.

A genre to forget the world's troubles.

What brought it on, you might wonder? Well, anyone who does occasionally watch the news will have noticed that for the longest of times one thread has been running through each and every news program and it culminated yesterday into Super Tuesday. When I spent a few hours over at some neighbours, I nearly turned tail when they also started discussing this eventful Tuesday.

A pre-election of sorts and when I picture the end in November, I understand that the news is going to have to be a non topic in our house.

Somehow I can't imagine the amount of energy and strength it must take for the candidates themselves to be on the campaign trail for over a year. Apart from anything else, I admire them for that, because it must be simply exhausting.
When so much misery is happening almost everywhere, a misery which could be made a bit less miserable with donations of dollars, it boggles the mind to imagine the amount of money being paid by these political parties. Who hasn't heard the outrageous amount paid during a Superbowl for advertising and there will certainly be a trusty few who are laughing all the way to the bank.

But, I cannot change the world and I would love to know what the Founding Fathers of America would make of all this hoopla and at times, less than polite language?

Our thoughts are constantly swirling about in our heads and last night, I picked up an old Georgette Heyer again and even though I have read it in the past, it was so nice to be immersed in a world without all these modern headline acts. A breath of fresh air and a wonderful collage of quaint expressions.

Again, I am jolly grateful that I love reading because those who are not very fond of it, aren't able to escape into the fabulous fictional world where life tends to have a habit of working out famously.

Is there anything nicer than finding refuge within the pages of a novel?


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

At Least I Can Still Shower On My Own...

Ah, how quickly a cat changes a routine.

As you know, the two of us have gone dilly over our little cat, Maus, and as they say, the rest is history. Privacy, what is that? Wherever we go...there can be heard the footfall of our little one.

As docile and angelic as she looks while slumbering in her gold plated bed ( a.k.a. the basket-bed that Bob hand made specially for his little princess ), she can outrun us if she thinks we are headed toward the larder or ehem, the loo.

One of our loos, is in the back of the house and the door doesn't click shut, because an electric cable ( for the laptop ) runs at the bottom of it. If I were to move the cord a bit, I could close the door properly, but as it is only us in the house, merely pretending that the door is closed was enough, that is until...!

When I visit said abode in the mornings, Maus would sit outside it and meaow bitterly and heart wrenchingly. Well, it turns out our cat is a genius because she figured out how to push her weight against the door and push it open. Imagine, there I am stuck on the loo and what can I do?

Sometime you see her paw coming through the bottom of the door, and it is the cutest thing ever...

With lazer like precision, our cat jumped onto my lap and promptly settled in for a nap! Goodness, what a mad cat...When I called Bob to have a look, he nearly fell over backward with laughter and thankfully he didn't know where my camera was.

Each and every morning, the cat either pushes open the door or if it is locked, performs to such an extent that Bob gets up to open it for her.

Upon further investigation I discovered that I am far from alone as there are hundreds upon hundreds of stories where the cat insists on sitting on the lap, while in the smallest room of the house. Luckily she is not fond of water and the sound of the shower gets her into supersonic gear on the way out.

Although, I have to admit that on Sunday while I was cleaning the bathroom, there she was watching ever step I made with great interest. It turns out that cleaning with an audience is much more fun...but not as much fun as being the audience!