A buzz is in the air everywhere...
One could almost use the well worn idiom:
Cutting off our noses to spite our faces.Our collective trait to have everything look perfect ( for eh, who actually? ) might endanger nature even more.
One could almost use the well worn idiom:
Cutting off our noses to spite our faces.Our collective trait to have everything look perfect ( for eh, who actually? ) might endanger nature even more.
Avuncular In the manner of an uncle, possibly an eccentric one.
Coruscate Twinkle, sparkle and glitter often used to describe flashes of wit...
Coxcomb Conceited fool.
Equitation The art of horse riding.
Fabulist An elegant euphemism for liar.
FustianVery pompous or inflated language.
Being of the same shape and general appearance, but not of the same ancestry. Eh, for example, certain dogs and their owners.
Lippitude A bleary eyed condition, which might explain many mornings after a night out!
Mussitation Murmuring, grumbling and not a bad way to describe a teenager.
Nescience Lack of knowledge, ignorance.
The Bobster and I were watching the games yesterday and the earlier Spain versus Italy affair was interrupeted by dinner and the odd online stuff. Funny how during these soccer tournaments he gets rather territorial with the remote control and any thought of seeing a romance ( which they do offer in defiance to soccer mad husbands ) is bounced away at the lounge door.
Don't tell him, but I do enjoy an evening of watching several games in a row. The iconic, historic and awesome Iceland versus England game had me enthralled and awake the whole time. What a team spirit, what a fan base and what an upset.
When did we last see such a enthusiastic and happy team? Usually they are littered with a jaded mega wealthy star and the rest of the ten understudies. It makes me wonder if it isn't a case of appease the ego of our biggest draw? Regardless, it often doesn't lend itself for excitement.
Iceland, you single-handedly have infused this tournament with excitement, euphoria and interest. I wouldn't be surprised if your government will sponsor each citizen a round trip to France for your next game and the final...
Even the local TV experts and commentators were like giddy little boys, brim full of excitement and not so neutral anymore!
After the match they played a snippet of your Icelandic commentator and I have to say, it was amazing and what soccer is all about. When the two goals were scored, he screamed at the top of his lungs and you could really hear the pride in it. Fabulous.
A classic tale of David & Goliath for sure and when one considers that Iceland only has 330 000 inhabitants it makes it even more poignant.
It's too late now, but those lucky few who've bet on Iceland from the start with cold hard cash, might just get a Leicesterian type reward.
Wine goes with everything...happiness, elation, celebration and the odd sad emotion. Wine is an honest drink, one that doesn't pretend ( well some might ) to be anything other than what it is. Red, White or Rose.
Wine tells its own history and the more developed your palate is, the more the structure of the wine reveals its background to you. From the vines' hangout to the vintners' signature.
Wine has already been around to supplement many a Roman's palate and throughout history, wine has been an important marker of it. The French dominance during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries is mostly gleaned from poems and novels of that time. Often I do wonder if even then their was a bit of wine snobbery in society?
By pure chance, or let me put it another way, we couldn't have planned it better, we've landed with both feet in a wine producing area. We are spoilt for choice as to where and what to drink. We are the lucky few who have access to the various Buschenschanks all year round.
Again wine proves its versatility as it helps to bring people together even if it entails the odd secret slipping out...in vino veritas, but in all honesty, in a village our size, knowledge is gleaned from things such as a car parked where it shouldn't, a delivery van dropping off stuff and the empty cardboard boxes ( TV, fridge, or bigger ) left out on the curb for rubbish day.
Wine is the economic lifeblood of our area and luckily, the wine world is taking note of the various delightful wines of Südburgenland. Wine is, to my mind, recession proof:
We need wine to celebrate and we need wine to commiserate...
We've all been on a diet either for imagined or real reasons and we can all agree that dieting can't be adhered to if your kitchen is stocked with everything but the healthy vitals.
Take all these terrible Middle Eastern wars being fought at the moment. The wars that have caused a refugee crisis so vast, that the world is overwhelmed at finding a solution. But, why not take away the temptation to fight? Yes, why not stop the manufacturing of arms?
As we all know, on Friday last week the world changed. Brexit has made many questions the reality of a future and what sort it might be. Markets are in turmoil and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. At the heart of the British wish to divorce from the EU, is the fear of refugees and I am sure they aren't alone.
The fear of having to share. The fear of having to be afraid. The fear of there not being enough for all.
Yet, Europe ( and the United Kingdom too ) are prolific producers of arms.
Making products that are clearly designed to harm and even kill others, shouldn't be allowed in the 21st Century even if the manufacturing of them creates jobs.
Arms are made all over the world but unfortunately Europe through its geographical location is paying a hefty price for it. Until politicians get their hands stuck in the dismantling of arms industries and unwind the web spun by their lobbyists, these companies are here to stay and get more powerful through ongoing armed conflicts.
The refugee crisis is beyond the pale and just imagine it were you, who had to leave everything behind and just escape with the clothes on your back? Until a permanent solution is found, wouldn't it be fitting if all arms manufacturers had to give part of their profits to help feed, house and clothe the refugees?
Oh, I know, you don't have to tell me that this is an Utopian dream...
Right or wrong, the event of Brexit has come and gone whilst leaving in its wake a trail of uncertainty accompanied by the unmistakable whiff of fear.
Just like a captain will batten down the hatches at the approaching storm, many Britons will batten down their expenses. Suddenly, a new car isn't necessary, the old couch is really more than comfortable and who needs a tv the size of a wall anyway...
Not knowing whether you'll have your job next month or next year, changes one's perspective. Going out for a meal, cappuccino or a pint at your local are the first loose hatches to be tightened. Not nice for those businesses but when the chips are down everyone will look after him or herself.
Holidays will be a lilo in the back garden ( which I personally would prefer to the stresses of travelling ) or a trip to Brighton beach and not only to save money, but to avoid the hassle of applying for visas to holiday destinations. Rather fitting, because I remember how South Africans ( former colony of the British Empire ) had to jump through hoops to get a two week holiday visa to Britain. Gosh, they had to show bank statements, deeds of their house and a letter of employment coupled with a few hundred pounds...ouch!
Hobbies will make a comeback. Knitting, reading, mending socks (!), baking and having dinner parties at home instead of going out for expensive dinners. Suddenly the art of socializing off line will be learnt or rediscovered. The joy of spending time in your home knowing that there's no reason to go out. The joy of being satisfied with reading a book on your comfortable old couch, and the simplicity and affordability of homemade meals will surprise many.
Families will grow together in real life instead of apart in the myriad corridors of life online and actually enjoy time spent with together.
As for the cappuccino machines, it is hard to switch to instant after having a Starbucks experience and I predict that these fancy coffee machines will be a hit for the next few years. But not the capsule machines, as those are just horrifically bad for our environment and horribly expensive to boot. Yes, those capsules work out to about Euro 60 a kilo...and that is just a not in the budget.
I say nerdy as that was the moniker given to us at school, being part of the kids who needed glasses. It might have been the lackluster frames most of us had. Back in our day glasses were expensive and often still are.
The Bobster was regaling me with a funny ( well it wasn't at the time ) story of how he got his first pair of glasses while still young. His father took him to his optometrist and Bob got the most affordable pair and if he could have, he would have only worn them at home. Yes, they were the original medical aid frames and as Bob just told me, it was on the eve of his gap year in London, the fashion capital of the world which he had to view through medical aid frames...
Rather typical of youthful exuberance that instead of buying himself some trendier glasses, he chose to support bars, concerts and many Burger chains.
As an adult, one understands that paying for glasses does involve a loan from the bank most of the time but as a youngster it was a almost worse than sporting braces and definitely a thorn in any romantic ambition.
Our medical aid is brilliant except they don't sponsor glasses. Fair enough, at least we hardly ever pay to visit the doctor, hospital etc. ( yes, in South Africa we had an expensive medical aid yet still had to hand over oodles of money each time we saw a doctor ) but Bob needs optical sunglasses, now that he is working outside more often. Last Saturday we headed into town knowing we'd have to bite the bullet and fork out a fortune for optical sunglasses.
Bob was mentally bracing himself for having to get the cheapest medical aid frame similar to his childhood. I was mentally bracing myself for hours of choosing a frame and having to caution against the cost of them...
Well, a new branch of an optometrist chain has opened only a few weeks ago in Oberwart: Fielmann and because they are always playing adverts on tv interviewing happy clients, we chose it as the first port of call.
Having to watch our pennies, we sort of took the offensive and asked for the least expensive option. We need not have bothered as they had an entry price that made both of us speechless while at the same time performing a mental dance of joy.
Can you believe that for the princely sum of Euro 17,50 one gets:
Bob chose two pairs and all in under five minutes which is amazing when you consider that there are hundreds of frames to chose from. We even paid straight away and perhaps there was still a niggling doubt about those possible hidden extra charges, but the price for two optical glasses came to Euro 35.
The hills are teeming with either scantily clad people or with a few mysterious shrouded ones. The summer officially started yesterday yet for us it has already been at its zenith for a few weeks. The vines and gardens have been gently infused with life by the sun's rays.
Bob's been working outside these last few weeks and even without the slight bit of wifely nagging that did take place, he would have shrouded himself from the hot sun. If not on the first day, definitely on the second day, whence he noticed his farmer's tan.
Sunblock, long sleeves, big hat, long overalls and a borrowed blue neck chief. At first he balked at wearing a scarfy thing of mine but only until I pointed out to him its logo...Levi and that did the trick. Yes, Bob is clothed to withstand the strength of the sun.
What most villagers tend to forget, is that we are veterans of a hot climate. A climate where it is a variation of summer all year round. A climate that soon teaches you the merits of covering up and lathering on sunblock. A few middle aged women eschewed this advice thinking themselves brown and trendy back in the 80's and sadly now their skin belies their true age, and not in their favour either.
When one lives in a mixed climate environment ( four distinct seasons and summer only a few months long ) then as soon as the sun appears, people start to walk about in next to nothing and once I nearly crashed the car when I got a glimpse of an older man pushing his lawnmower about his lawn with only a pair of Speedo's...which aren't that fortunate for a well fed figure. At one stage his Speedo was hidden by his stomach and thus you can understand my near accident!
Scarves are my daily companions whilst walking despite it at times being a bit too toasty, but the alternative of a burnt neck isn't for me. Yesterday, Bob was pirouetting with his lawnmower on a now neat lawn, when he told me that a young couple had walked passed and doubled over in laughter at Bob's sun hat...
well, dear people, he who laughs last laughs longest... and we'll see what your skin looks like in a decade or less.
To be honest, this morning was a noisily ordered chaos with items having been mislaid. A little string to hold up Bob's glasses had gone missing. I only found out about it because the Bobster mumbled ( yet extremely audible ) that I'd hidden it from him and if not me, than perhaps little Mausi. ( It turned out that it had dropped on the floor and neither of us were the culprits! )
The string had been permanently attached to his glasses but he had to loosen it in order to don a motorbike helmet. Yes, a new chariot is joining our household. A little second hand moped, a moped that I can only dream of using someday as it seems welded to Bob's behind for the foreseeable future.
Goodness, men and anything on two wheels is another story. Grown men can suddenly turn into excited little boys salivating at the prospect of zooting about the neighbourhood on a moped. Throw in a friend or two giving the thumbs up whilst Bob drove passed and you get an inkling of why I might never get to do my own zooting about.
On the off chance that I might gap it whilst he isn't looking, he tried a different track :
" Look, where would you stash your hair? You surely can't leave it hanging out at the bottom of your helmet? "
Anyway, we've noticed that little items, items of a bite size, have been mysteriously transported from one room to another only to have found a resting place in a small basket on the window sill in our back room. The preferred hangout of Mausi. Ah, yes, our clever little cat is magpie-ing her way through our home and with a gleeful exuberance to boot.
She never misses a trick either and knows where the interesting bits for her eclectic magpie collection are kept. What a privilege that this beautiful little cat has chosen us to look after her...she can magpie as much as she wants.
Yesterday was one of those days where I did feel as if this sign was for me. Jostling through the crowds I wouldn't have minded a please don't touch this old timer. The inaugural garden fete or rather party to join the recent royal celebrations in the perhaps soon to be non-European country was a huge success. Might be distant family in any case.
A two day affair within the garden and grounds of the delightful Kohfidisch Castle was attended by so many visitors that even though I grumbled while having to queue for 30 minutes to get a bite to eat ( yes, seriously and after 15 minutes one gets a bit stubborn and doesn't want to give up one's place ) I was pleased that our neck of the woods is so popular.
The lawns in front of the castle were little oases of garden exhibits, furniture makers and several wine stands. Elegant with proper glasses and none of the plastic variety. The various prices had a royal seal to them, as even the Bobster quickly put down a rose plant when he saw the 50 Euro price tag dangling from it.
Meandering about this beacon of history was interesting, thought provoking and simply marvelous. The castle still needs to be restored in many places but somehow this more than anything else could, conveyed an authentic royal touch. Authenticity and class amid a world that has a collective crazy obsession to always have everything ship shape, perfect and enviable.
Eventually we saw an old timer parked as an exhibit with the required cordoning off around it. Appropriately it was an English MG and in a royal shade of red too. In this modern age of let's reproduce any and everything, I wasn't too sure if this highly polished chariot was freshly made or reconditioned...definitely a car to keep in the garage only to be driven around with nary a rain cloud in sight.
" "To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by rights to hand down to them." Theodore Roosevelt, Message to Congress December 3rd 1907
" The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. " Jane Austen ( 1775-1817 )
" It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one's mouth and remove all doubt." Samuel Johnson ( 1709-1784 )
" What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say." Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803-1882 )
" Many time the reading of a book as made the future of a man." Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803-1882 )
" History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies. "
Alexis de Tocqueville ( 1805-1859 )
" There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys. it is all hell. "General Sherman ( 1820-1891 )-11th August 1880
" Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum."( To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.) Marcus Tullius Cicero ( 106 BC-43 BC )
" When I am traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly. " Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( 1756-1791)
" History is the devil's scripture. "
Lord Byron ( 1788-1824 )
Cherries are the first of the fruits to appear almost like magic but still to their own schedule. Cherry trees are filled with lush green leaves and only as the cherries turn red do they pop into our peripheral and seem to be everywhere.
Walking about the neighbourhood one can easily gorge on cherries along the way. A bit of a sticky affair too, as I tend to leisurely peruse each bit of fruit to see if it might be more than a vegan meal. These little white worms tend to favour some cherries and once you've seen the other half of a just bitten off worm dangling in the cherry, there is no going back. A sort of wormy imprint on one's mind.
Catching a glimpse of the red cherries also brings about a feeling of euphoria knowing that summer is here. Sunshine, warmth, blue skies and the accompanying avian orchestra. Most of us will unearth childhood memories of our own summer experiences. Swimming in the lake, sitting outside in the garden eating homemade cherry strudel, no school and the occasional trips to the ice cream shop.
Isn't there something magic about our happy childhood memories? Life, especially at the moment has many scary aspects to it, what with a possible Brexit looming and the unnerving presidential election across that proverbial pond. It all gets a bit too much to take in and what nicer way to avoid it than to pretend to be an ostrich and bury one's head in a heap of happy memories.
Rural life and its seasonal markers aren't for everyone, but for the life of me I don't understand that urban lifers would rather take their kids to a beach packed to the rafters instead of spending a summer or two exploring the simple splendour of nature. There is nothing better as a child than to climb a tree, pick fruit off it or run around a meadow filled with aromatic wild flowers while occasionally rolling in it just for the sheer joy of it.
Throw in a newly mowed meadow, or a field freshly sprayed with manure and a life time of memories are made, memories which form a strong anchor for us to cling to in this rather turbulent new world.
From the start we knew not to do it yet we couldn't help ourselves. A little cutie like our Mausi deserved to be spoilt and if not her, who else?
A treat here, a yummy sachet of feline ambrosia there and our soup was cooked. The princess has a developed a new sport...Sniff the meal and walk away. Cheekily she doesn't even give it a taste.
" Mausi, eat your food! There are many starving cats in the neighbourhood who'd kill for this food. "Even this age old parental stricture makes her shrug, shake a paw and meander away. For her of course, hope springs eternal and each and every feeding time she runs circles around Bob's legs in happy anticipation.
If you could see our cat food corner, you'd see a prolific selection of various types of cat food. Tried, tested and rejected by her majesty...
When she first came to live with us we made a point of only buying the best ( most protein content ) food for her even though it was outrageously expensive. Only once as the little lady didn't like those either.
If she carries on we'll have to start cooking meals for her and you know, that was how domestic cats were fed before the invention of mass produced cat food....are we really this gullible?
" So, my little Mausi, if you keep on turning your noise up at the sachets, you'll have to eat like the rest of us: porridge, pizza, pasta, vegetables, salads and perhaps a lentil stew...or on second thought, perhaps we'll leave out the lentil stew! "
From what I've heard (!) it used to be a projector and movie reel back in the days of when Bob was young. Rather cumbersome to say the least but a cheaper way for a family to see the latest flick.
As a teenager the next wave of popularity was the video shop. A video tape which might be a foreign concept for the twenty somethings, was often the highlight of a rainy Sunday afternoon. With luck, you could get two for the price of one at the rental shop but those freebies tended to be an old Bud Spencer western...
The older the tape the greater the chances of not seeing all of it. Either it wouldn't play at all or even worse it would get stuck in the video tape recorder. We soon learned the trick of using a pencil to rewind a stuck tape.
There was a nice routine to the business of renting out a movie which started with the divine task of choosing a movie among the many available and hoping that your choice was still available for that day. The routine ended with dropping the tape off the next morning through a slot in the door.
Can you also remember those few selfish customers who didn't return the video before the required 11 am, when the next renters were already waiting with ill disguised irritation and angry comments. Especially if it was a new release! I think I was guilty of it once or twice.
When the DVD replaced the video tape it took a while to get used to it. Provided one had forked out the money for a DVD player which in the beginning weren't always as cheap as now.
Of course now one chooses films online and it all has a hint of Starship Enterprise about it. Somehow a whole movie is carved into bits that are shunted through a fiber optic cable only to be reassembled and streamed on your television or computer. A bit spooky if you ask me.
Even though the new technology is convenient, it doesn't compare with the wonderful times we spent walking up and down the isle of a video shop trying to find the right movie while perhaps bumping into friends or even meeting your future spouse in it.
Soon there will come a time where we needn't step a foot out of our homes and that image has all the online dating agencies frothing at the mouth..
Just as most life changing events, this one was also by pure chance. Flicking through the channels on a Saturday afternoon, trying extremely hard to skip over the soccer mania before the Bobster noticed it, I happened across a documentary on wine. Not just any wine, but wine made mainly in Burgenland by the new guard of vintners.
Surrounded by the beautiful area of Rust in northern Burgenland close to the Neusiedler See, are a handful of avant-garde winemakers, who herald the various flavours of the grapes into vintages that go against the prevailing trend and style of wine, but which has woken up many a faded palate to the sheer joy of tasting one of Burgenland's finest.
These Vintners are the new rock stars of wine with their own lot of fans. Granted, a slightly more middle aged group, but fans nonetheless who instead of throwing underwear on stage might just throw away their names after a bottle too many....
Interestingly, most of these grape whisperers ( don't forget that most of the attractiveness of wine is created before it gets put into barrels ) do a lot of the work by hand and would rather make grape juice if the grapes are not to their expectations.
Ironically, in our modern world where everything has to be quick, complicated and mass produced, those few geniuses who buck the trend and forget about haste and appeasing the masses, are idolized by wine enthusiasts all over the world.
Poetry in a bottle comes with a rather hefty price tag but you know what, nectar like that needs to be appreciated rather than being spritzed into normality and so-so ness. Please don't let anyone break a wine's spirit by mangling it into a spritzer!
As I mentioned in the beginning, watching this program was life changing. Even though we know we live in paradise, it was a welcome hint to see the outer edges of our paradise also being divinely beautiful...
Most days I see this beautifully kept little square with its distinct and very sad beacon of man's folly. War, shouldn't be allowed, but that's another story.
Often I stop and read the names on this tall memorial and it is a daunting thought to peruse the First and Second World War's fallen. Our village is very small and seeing the familiar surnames makes it poignantly sadder, and highlights the sad reality of a lot of wives who were suddenly thrust into the role of matriarch.
The other reason I often stop there is due to the fabulous floral oasis that someone keeps cheerful and full of vibrantly coloured flowers. Nary a weed or drooped blossom to be seen...
Yesterday I saw the lady who makes it so very special doing a bit of garden tweaking. Normally I just give her a wave & a quick greeting, but I stopped to tell her how wonderfully the memorial always looks. She was pleased that I had noticed and we started talking, as one does, about this particular memorial which happens to be right on the edge of her front garden.
Her mother-in-law had started years ago to look after this plot as her husband had fallen during the 2nd World War and his body was never returned home. To her, this memorial was his grave and she kept it beautiful until the day she died. Now, her daughter-in-law has taken over.
These kind of stories are so special and heartwarming. They make you realize that everyone has their own individual burden but also that most know how to overcome it.
As I was saying goodbye to her, she asked me to have a look at her other garden, the one next to her house. Magnificent, colourful, natural and thankfully not designed a la mode. A real garden and I was thrilled that she showed me it. A lovely start to yet another divine day in paradise.
Take a rose which is a flower with infinite beauty, grace and perfume. Just close your eyes and remember the delicate scent of a rose. Yes, isn't it divine?. But have you ever picked one up? Oh yes, painful pricks galore.
The rose is a perfect symbolism for life. We often admire life from a safe distance and seem to circle, hover or prance egotistically around the edges of it. If it looks and smells good, we take it but if it happens to come with a side order of thorns, quite a few of us tend to drop the vision and look for a different life or rather lifestyle.
The secret to a good and satisfying life is to get our hands dirty and to take the thorns that it might have in our stride. Everyone has problems of a sort. You know, the size of the problem is irrelevant because it is each individual's perception of it that matters.
How many of us have lost ( knowingly & unknowingly ) a thing of value, beauty and grace because we didn't feel like tackling the thorns? Be it a spouse, house or job...
It is said that life isn't a bed of roses, but I think it is as long as we understand that owning a good life does involve the odd challenge along the way. Gosh, challenges make everything more interesting and worthwhile. Nobody wants blandness after all.
Talking and engaging in a deep conversation with some of our village elders is eyeopening, humbling and rather therapeutic. They have had a thorny life with only a side order of beauty attached to it. War, scarcity, poverty and jolly hard work but despite all that, most of them tell me:
" You know, we had a hard life, we didn't have much and we worked all the time. But looking back, those were the happiest times of my life."
The art of reasoning is not given to the young or rather the newly minted drivers. Well, in my case it wasn't because as I recall my little chariot back then ( ancient to say the least ) did a fair speed between Pietermaritzburg & Durban. In fact, over and above the limit ( both car and speed ) at times with the ubiquitous symbol of youthful drivers: Windows rolled ( yes, before electric ) down and music blaring at full volume accompanied by the driver's yodeling!
Honestly, I cringe just thinking of it and how absolutely idiotic we must have looked either on a highway or even, shudder, idling while waiting for the traffic lights to change to green. Being young, one imagines those looks being of an envious nature but now, I realize they had a tinge of pity to them.
Thank goodness I escaped those early driving years without a scratch or ache. Trying to look with-it should be forbidden.
Anyway, fast forward to now and when I drive about in the village confines, I do so at a leisurely pace and always within the speed limit. Not because I am too old but it is rather a case of not wanting to be liable for a fine. On top of this, I have seen the odd deer hop unannounced across the road and even a real old dear too, and also rather unexpected.
Sometimes I drive the odd senior to and from the doctor's and naturally I drive sedately as I don't want to be the cause of a quick return trip to the doctor's.
Most of us villagers know each other's make of car and driving style. Admittedly, I think that I've been given the tag of a slow driver by most of the younger lot. How do I know? Well, driving back home yesterday, I noticed a speck in my review mirror morph into a car right behind, mere seconds later.
Do these drivers actually realize how daunting it is to have someone hovering so close behind? At least I haven't reached that certain age yet, you know, that age where one puts on brakes if someone keeps on driving to close...
This driver yesterday must have noticed it was me behind the wheel instead of a more speedy Bobster and when I looked again she had moved back 10 meters, knowing I wouldn't break the speed limit.
If only she knew that I was a risky driver too, back in the day.
We've been raised and reared to shop in supermarkets and blindly reach for whatever we need whenever we want. The cunning supermarkets mostly have the same layout the world over. Bread and milk at the back and everything else in between.
Some of us have forgotten and some of us don't care where the produce comes from, as long as it's cheap and available.
Who produces our food? Yes, of course the cows, chickens and yet again cows but who actually takes to time to aggregate the production...yes, the farmer.
Farming is a worthy profession, a vital profession and sadly a dying profession. Farmers are a hardworking lot, working double the time as the rest of us. An animal doesn't stop needing food over a weekend or Christmas or a public holiday. The average European worker's 40 hour work week is just an utopian dream to a farmer. Never mind paid sick leave, paid leave or unemployment benefits...
If the world were fair, farmers would get a good price for their wares, but alas, it isn't so. Farmers get clobbered by the middle man...the supermarkets. By good price, I mean a price that covers more than their overheads and costs.
Reason would dictate that to get better prices they shouldn't settle for such a low price and sell elsewhere. But here lies the problem.
We are all so used to shopping at a supermarket that we either forget or are to lazy to shop at a farmer's market, farm shop or farm stall.
Often it's either a choice to sell to the middle man at low prices or don't sell at all. Obviously not every farmer but most are battling to make ends meet and whether you want to hear it or not...we are all guilty of helping it along with our shopping habits.
You are quite right in thinking that it is impossible to save the world, but we can all save the farmers near us.
Let's try and buy at least one item a week from a farm stall, farmer's market or if possible from the farmer himself.
Just to give you an example: A local farmer sells free range eggs ( the chickens are in a huge meadow with shady trees, plenty of food and space to be chickens ) for euro 2 per 10 eggs which is still lower than at the supermarkets. If he were to sell to a middle man, he would be lucky to get 2 cents per egg...
Why should we care...well, if farmers stop farming because they can't even cover their costs, then what on earth are we going to eat?
At the time most of us grumbled like mad about our plight. School uniforms each and every school day in our formative years made us try little alterations just to look a bit more cool!
Before the onset of Oh, let's show our butt cheek to all & sundry, the cool dudes at school tended to try a version of it and many a low riding grey school trouser were sported. Not for long as the eagle eyed prefects or even more savvy teachers soon made short thrift of it with a bout of detention and a hitch of said pants.
The girls were also trying to stand out in a sea of similarity. White ankle socks turned over twice to do what no self respecting Edwardian gal would ever do...show off a pretty ankle. The length of skirts should have been standard but the It Girls usually tried to make them shorter. Again, the teachers were wide awake and during uniform inspection make us kneel on the lawn and gosh, if your skirt didn't touch the ground you were in trouble and of course detention.
Haircuts were no different with their also being a strict code. Short back and sides for the boys, and hair bare of artifice tied up in ponytails etc for the girls. From stories told at family campfires and usually after a few drinks when the important stuff comes to the fore, it appears that the Bobster's brother had a few undiscovered days of sporting an undercut at school and the Bobster tried to grow his hair into a Robert Smith look.
Looking back upon this era we experienced, makes more sense now. It did teach us not to judge people by their attire. Of course after school we've all been drawn into this superficial way of gauging character, to our detriment too. But on the whole, those of us who've worn a uniform at school still subconsciously understand that clothes don't make the man.
With everyone wearing the same uniform at school, it gave us an opportunity to develop our social skills ( that important E.Q. that trumps I.Q. ) without being prejudged by our exterior.
As both the Bobster and I firstly went to the same scholastic establishment with a few shared teachers, and secondly had our wardrobes filled with the distinct blue colours of Carter High School, we tend to be less focused on clothes. To be honest, both us us tend to equate shopping for clothes more with a chore than a treat.
Uncanny how the Bobster and I think alike a lot of times, with one of the exceptions being the choice of music while driving and often we agree to disagree and turn off the radio in protest. Marriage tends to make us revert to childhood tactics. Scoff all you want, but I bet you've done that too!
Yesterday proved to be another one of those perfect summer days, hot and sunny with a hint of a storm gathering strength and a grey tinge in the background. Lunchtime had us converge on the kitchen and as I mentioned that I'd be making a sandwich with ham, he said:
" That's perfect, because I am making a cup of mayonnaise. "
Lately, the two of us are rather too fond of mayonnaise ( yikes, even the bought one ) and I blame my sister-in-law for it, as she got both of us hooked on it. Goodness, she even put it on the breakfast egg and being polite we tried it...hook, line & sinker!
Both of us tend to loiter in the mustard and mayo aisle at the shop and only with the greatest display of willpower do we go home without it. When we did give in to temptation eh, once, we were horrified how a tube of mayo could be used up in a couple of days!
Bob's cousin had posted this foolproof recipe for homemade mayonnaise and this is the one he made yesterday for our sandwiches. We didn't have one of the ingredients so we swapped lemon for apple cider vinegar.
Bob, following the recipe put in a cup of oil and a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar too. Experience has taught me to keep quiet if I think it might be too much, or too little. He put everything into a glass jar and got out the soup mixing stick. I even think that I heard him count to twenty, but couldn't be sure over the noise of the blender.
" This stupid recipe doesn't work. They say it takes only 20 seconds to thicken and look, it's still runny. "He carried on for another few minutes, but it stayed the consistency of salad dressing. It tasted great though, but when I glanced at the used cup, I noticed that it was a biggish sort of cup and with the best of intentions, one egg yolk wasn't enough for its depth.
A cup isn't the same as a cup. Why can't they be more specific in recipes and either use metrics or distinctly state: A doll's cup, a normal sized cup or a big tea mug. Well, it's the thought that counts....
Admittedly, I tend to be belong to the minority of people who didn't enjoy school a lot and thus I've managed to blend out rather a lot of it. The Bobster and his slightly older brother are in the other camp and can recall chapter and verse of each and every school day, fellow student and in one of their cases, ahem, the many detentions given by the various teachers.
Detention back then still involved a caning and that said brother can recall each punishment given and more importantly by whom and where each strike left a welt...
The other day a friend invited me into an online school reunion group. A rather elite group, as only those who've served time in a specific decade ( I dare not mention it for fear of revealing my age ) were allowed to take part. The Bobster, being a tad bit more youthful than I, just made it by the skin of his teeth...
Oh yes, did I forget to mention that we went to the same High School?
Anyway, I have to say that it is nice to rehash school days and I really enjoy seeing how and where everyone is. Some interesting statistics have been made glaringly obvious through this new way of holding a school reunion and as you will soon see, it might just be the only way to have it. One question asked, is still receiving replies but so far it is safe to say that just about everyone has left Pietermaritzburg and has settled in all corners of the globe.
Up until now I've not been to any real life school reunions but I can imagine that at those functions everyone gets more dolled up than at their own weddings and perhaps a few will be squeezed into spanx to disguise a growing girth. Never mind the pretend game of Gee, look how much I've got... Let's hope this new way to reunite is not frayed with exaggeration and glamour shots of cappuccinos had.
Some of the questions posed are rather fun to answer and peruse at our own leisure ( eg, Facebook snooping ) but honestly, I didn't answer the question about how each of us is managing our career path. Not because I am ashamed but because it sets us up for judgement and judging.
We aren't what we do but how we are.
Here in the EU, just about any food you eat or buy has a label on the packaging or the menu. Arbitrary stuff, such as a packet of salmon having a warning that seafood is inside...just in case you are allergic to seafood and didn't smell a rat oh, sorry, fish.
Whether you are allergic to wheat, gluten, shellfish, seafood, dairy or meat ( good grief, what do people eat ? ), there is a warning label on every item bought to make you aware of what is in it. Fair enough, there might be some who have adverse reactions to certain things such as peanuts for example. Yes, labels save lives.
But, why doesn't the EU produce simple and easy to understand warning labels which make us aware of what we are about to buy & consume? Wouldn't it be nice, if there were warning labels about the various pesticides, fertilizers or chemical preservatives used in everyday food items?
They could have coloured labels:
There is such an effort being made for food allergies and it almost feels as if the really harmful stuff is, for want of a better phrase, swept under the carpet.
One day in the not to distant future, there is going to be a gravestone floating in the universe pointing out our folly:
There used to be a lovely planet that was filled with lovely people.
Alas, the love of money overtook the love of life and living. R.I.P. Planet Earth.
The slow food movement's cousin?
Maybe we should all sign up for a tractor ride, as it might show us that the slow way can be good too...
It sounds like a day trip when I say that I went to Hungary, but in fact it's only about eight kilometers and I've driven them in snow, rain and pure sunshine on the way to tutor English. Usually I go over the Pinka river at the old mill in Deutsch Schützen which is a natural border.
Lately, the army has been keeping an eye on it and I've seen two or three young army guys sitting on the side of the road. As it isn't an official border post, I never know whether to stop and so I tend to idle along waiting for them to do more than give a friendly wave.
As I wanted to go to Kofidisch after the lesson, I took the Pornoapati road back into Austria and again saw some army guys at the side of the road. Even idling along, I saw that they wanted me to stop. Stop and show my passport which I had on me. Fair enough...
Young single ladies of the area...go and drive back and forth between the the two countries ( only a few kilometers ) and you are assured of meeting a lot of young, dishy & uniformed soldiers. I only mention it because I've heard a few complaints about the dearth of single men!
Anyway, I passed the hamlet of Höll along the way and visited a delightful older lady. She does wear hearing aids and is also a big fan of a local afternoon soap opera, Sturm Der Liebe, and I dare say that she isn't the only one in our parish.
Why, do you ask, would I mention it? Well, she has special headphones to watch her TV program and once or twice I have had to go home without seeing her, as she never hears my loud knocks on her door nor window. Luckily, her grandson was working in the garden and showed me in. He chuckled and nodded when I regaled him with my futile attempts to rouse her from Sturm Der Liebe.
After a nice visit and chat, I finally made it to Kofidisch and its Spar. Even though it is about 10 kilometers from us, I was barely through the dairy aisle when I bumped into a friend. She was rather quick with her shop, while I was dawdling a bit despite knowing that the Bobster had asked me to be quick as he needed the chariot. Oh my, what a marital conundrum indeed.
Well, I put foot and dashed the trolley around the supermarket and naturally had to meet another friend in the chocolate aisle. A few minutes were spent there and to appease an impatient husband, I smartly finished my shop and hopped into the chariot to drive home.
I have to tell you, that these seemingly random encounters are what make life so special. Don't we all like to be acknowledged? Either with a nod, a greeting or a quick chinwag...