Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Another Habitual Practice Gets Pawed.

Who would've known we'd get a little genius kitty...

Blah blah fish paste and so forth concerning the cuteness of said kitty but honestly, her cleverness needs to be mentioned.

For years I have been a slave to a morning routine, starting with the first earsplitting sound of the alarm clock. Even Mausi has adjusted her routine and she steps ahead of me as she's now understood the way mum wakes up. When the first chime of the alarm resonates, she rushes through to the other room, where I have to walk to to switch it off. Insurance tactics against falling back to sleep.

She endures the sound of the coffee grinder and with a wily glint in her eye awaits the next bit. The couch has to be sat on just there, there where I can put my coffee cup on the desk, can see the TV with clarity while the iPad just has to be put on my lap to peruse mail and of course play games.

Mausi has instinctively understood what many scientists have studied for years...

Once the iPad is open, attention is gone into the cloudy realm of the Internet.

This last week, she has perfected her assault on this usurper of my attention. At first she'd jumped up and down on the couch next to me and that garnered her an absent minded cuddle. Sad, but true! Well, yesterday she hit jackpot. While I was playing that addictive Candy Crush, she stood firmly next to my lap and kept on bumping her little face against the side of the iPad.

I put it aside more out of worry that she'd push it off my lap than to give her attention. Within two seconds of my taking the usurper off my lap, she jumped into it. Into it with the cutest of cuddle moves a cat can make. Nothing for it but to have her doze on my lap for ten minutes while continually stroking her.

Lest I thought it was an aberration, this whole process was repeated in its entirety this morning. Apparently a new morning routine has been minted...

An hour later, she paraded her little blue rubber ball around ( she carries it with her teeth and then drops it, lets it bounce a few times and then she chases it ) and clearly wanted me to join in a game of fetch.

" Mausi, go take the ball to your father and he'll play with you. "
Goodness, was I surprised when a few seconds later I heard:
" Oh, what a clever girl. Come let me throw it for you. "
Can you believe that she actually took her blue ball to Bob and dropped it at his feet?


This photo was taken last year, but as you can see the blue ball was her favourite toy even then.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

" There Is Just No Time To Read. "

A bit of a red flag for this book lover...

Ingenuity makes time:

  • The obvious is naturally in the sacred chamber; ie the bathroom. A room where often reading is the first order of business!
  • At the kitchen table while awaiting for the water to boil for pasta, tea or anything else.
  • During those incredibly long TV commercials.
  • Waking up half an hour earlier to finish a chapter.
  • While waiting anywhere, be it at the doctors, dentist or coffee shop.
  • After bedtime, reading with a torch under the blanket ( my fond memories of finishing the Famous Five while still a very young Mädchen ).
  • Turning off the television and just reading.
  • Taking the book to work / school and using every bit of available break time to read pages. Once a book has taken hold of your reality and mingled it with its, any and every sentence sneaked in is a bonus.
  • Becoming a library monitor at school and having the best of both...choosing good books and being able to read them there in the guise of work.
  • Inventing a mysterious and sudden stomach upset and staying home from work or school. The ultimate luxury for a reading fiend.

A final and rather frightening thought:

Teens spend an average of 9 hours a day on media, which might just be more than they spend the way, that doesn't include homework related usage.


Monday, 28 November 2016

A Weekend Of Advent Events In Our Village.

A weekend of mingling, singing, eating and dare I say drinking.

Deceptively simple yet a powerful proof that our village is alive and happening. The annual advent event, has everything needed for a village to function. Small villages in general aren't often as vibrant as they should be, but our mayor and his council have managed to make our village attractive for families.

Sadly, or perhaps just as well, the world at large hasn't cottoned on to the privilege of living in a small village. All and sundry make the grand tour of a stressed out life in a big city as their mission in life, in the mistaken belief that life in a small village is not livable or enjoyable.

Anyway, as small as we are, we have enough youngens for a kindergarten with two teachers and also a primary school with four classes. Only when you see the kids performing at events, does it sink in how fortunate our village is. Funny how life works, but kids attract kids and quite a few new families have moved into our area.

Just by observing the crowd, I noticed quite a few toddlers, babies and a baby to be. Brilliant, when you consider that the sum total of our village ( actually 5 boroughs or villages ) is about 1100 people.

With kids come of course parents, and there is a strong parent's network. Parents who support the various clubs in the village and by doing so cement their links with each other.

On Saturday the local kindergarten had most of their charges either singing or reciting poems that they've written. The audience was big and parents were vying for a spot to take videos. Two to three generations of each family were there. The Urlies or rather the great grand parents were also there beaming with pride.

Sunday evening saw the lighting of the first advent candle on the village electric one. But, in a good village, it is a reason to come out and be there. The local choir sang seasonal songs and evoked a magical Christmas feeling, while one of the local clubs provided a spread and just like that old friends reconnected, new ones made connections and others mingled and caught up on each other's life.

Of course you can attend the lighting of the first advent candle in big cities, but chances are that you won't even know the people standing next to you...


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Oh, What A Copy-Cat.

Alarmingly, our window sills are endless...

It almost gets to the point where Bob and I get hissed at by other cat owners when we mention that our feline princess is a pure and utter house cat. She's got the run of the house and of course our hearts.

Since her majesty has moved in, our lovely feral cat, Tigger, has become more domesticated too. Despite our daily offerings of food, we still haven't been able to stroke her. Although, there is a ray of hope as the distance is closing.

Both of us are pretty sure that Tigger thinks that our Mausi is a descendant of a line of feline royals. How else would she explain to herself the fact that this little cat spends hours on our laps, sits on the couch, get's hand fed tidbits, chases a little blue rubber ball around and to top it off, she is as warm as toast inside.

You might ask how our feral cat knows this; well, for the last few months she ( in her old years ) has hefted herself onto our window sill in order to have a front seat to the royal lifestyle. At times she sleeps on it and I have to be honest and admit that a few times I did get a bit startled to see a big dark shadow looming outside the window.

As a loyal royal subject she spends hours on this sill, awaiting her feline audience. When we open the window, Mausi sniffs her for a few seconds, but then looses interest and goes back to her luxurious life. All under the yearning and watchful gaze of Tigger.

Bob even gives cat treats to our sill resident each day, which means that once or twice we've been able to give her a quick pat on the back. Rather cute.

If you remember, I did tell you that there is a long queue of 2-3 cats ( some feral and one from our neighbour down the road, who obviously doesn't serve as good a spread as we do ) each and every day waiting to get a bit from Tigger's bowl. Bob is so concerned that she might starve, that he stands watch after feeding her and often I can hear a;

" Shoo, get away you silly cat! "

Well, the other day I got a big surprise. As I walked into our bedroom I looked outside its window and stopped in my tracks. Can you believe it...there was another sill dweller in residence. A gray tabby has started to copy our cat Tigger and has taken ownership of the back bedroom window sill...

Dear cats and felines everywhere...we still have a few sills available...


Who's the boss here?

Saturday, 26 November 2016

How Mean We Are To Ourselves At Times.

Sabotaging our reality.

A lot of people will merely raise their eyebrows, roll their eyes and do an imaginary finger roll at the head. That is when they are told that what they say and think about themselves, creates their life and reality. Is it esoteric or is it common sense?

You know, we all do it. Mumbling to ourselves, the various insults and critiques we deem fit. Oh, they can range from the way we look, to the way we parallel park (!), to the way we conceive our intellect. Sometimes we're not even aware of our negative self talk.

" There can be no positive result through negative attitude.
Think positive. Live positive. "

Albert Einstein.

Not everyone will agree, but I believe that what we whisper to ourselves creates and becomes our reality. We think it we ink it. Just like anything else, it takes practice and perseverance to only be kind to ourselves. By the way, our inner self doesn't understand irony or double negative expressions...

Some of the kids I help with English, will at times burst out in frustration and say that they are too stupid to understand parts of the English language. But, they only say it to me once because I straight away tell them that they should never ever call themselves stupid, because they are not. Lazy perhaps, but with a bit of hard work, even the mysteries of English grammar will be solved.

Changing their self talk changes their fears of English and I suppose of many other subjects as well. It is so amazing to see them adjust their expectations. Suddenly, it's not a question of passing a test or not, but more a case of getting a good grade that reflects their true ability.

We should choose one day a week in which we drop all those adverse adjectives describing ourselves and only use favourable ones...Just imagine what we could suddenly achieve?

" The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. "
Albert Einstein


Friday, 25 November 2016

" Miaow, Miaow! That's Not My Job, Is It? "

Our little princess goes on strike, alas a domestic one.

You know I was going to title it: The Queen of Eisenberg..., but I didn't want to offend a few of the local doyennes. Oh, even the the smallest of ponds there is a pecking order, if not a bigger one! I could have unwittingly hit a bull's eye and let the cat out of the bag, ahem!

For those of you who've been hosts to a family of mice, you will understand when I say that the nose knows first. Those pesky little rodents mark their territories with over exuberance. A male mouse perhaps?

Our princess first entered our home for the express purpose of hunting down last year's family of murine lodgers. She seemed to do the job as for a while no mouse dared to enter our suddenly dangerous home. I have got to hand it to our cat, she is fast and furious with only one flaw...she's hardly ever hungry.

Apart from being extremely well fed, she is also tends to turn a deaf ear to certain commands " catch the mouse, don't scratch the door / stop purring while I sleep." which points to only one thing...a spoiled cat.

Back to this year's family of mice. They need to be chased out of our four walls and at times it sounds like they are literally in a wall, and in a way that doesn't hurt our princess.

Old fashioned, simple and highly efficient mice guillotines won't do. The princess certainly will try and eat the piece of cheese in the trap.

Today, Bob and I will order some mouse traps that capture each and every rodent efficiently and in a healthy alive state. Which brings me to our next perceivable problem...where to let the captured Von Trapped Family free. It can't be too close to our house as they are then just going to turn tail so to speak and come back home.

Hold thumbs that these humane traps work, or our princess will have to be put on a diet. Oh, and also that we don't by mistake wander into your garden while letting the mice meander out of the traps.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Natural Wine From Burgenland Wows The New World.

The fabulous wines of Burgenland are being discovered more and more.

One might say that the secret is out. Yes, our part of the world which is part of Austria and really a small one at that, makes wines that are wowing the world. I purposely say makes as saying creates might sound a bit unnatural.

Luckily for me, my parents in N.Y.C. send me links to anything pertaining to Burgenland's wine. There was a RAW / Natural Wine wine tasting in New York recently, and it was such a success, that wine lovers stood four deep to cue up for a sip of natural bliss.

New York Time's article

Natural wine, should be a wine that hasn't any additives apart from the sulphor. Natural wine also means the work in the vineyards is as organic or rather natural as can be. I tend to imagine it more as the way wine was made a hundred or more years ago. A time where chemicals weren't even thought of.

I am not saying that our friends or family drink too much, but when they come from all corners of the world to visit, it stands to reason that they try our local wine and at times too much of it...yet, not one has complained of a headache the next day.

One of the experts described Natural Wine as having personality and character. Doesn't that sound nice? At this wine tasting in New York, a wine estate from Burgenland vowed New Yorker's palates. A husband and wife team, one that I've seen a documentary of a while ago. Isn't it amazing how quality never goes unnoticed? Fantastic and about time that Burgenland's wines find a wider audience.

Wein Gut Oggau, Burgenland

The part of Burgenland that we live in is in the south, Südburgenland, and is home to so many natural wines, some of the wine makers only make enough for own use and some make much more. But they all make it with pride.

So happy and proud to live in this little paradise called Burgenland.

A mere bunch of grapes, but so much more... a way of life really.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Surely It's Not That Difficult To Make A Cup Of Tea?

One of the last bastions of mental retreat and a sense of tranquility.

Drinking tea is one one of those ubiquitous healing drinks. We drink it for any and every occasion. A cup of tea is the best medicine or at least a step in the right direction.

Perhaps it is the ritual of making a cup or the actual drinking of it, that makes a troubled day seem okay. Knowing how long to leave the teabag in the hot water and how much milk to add to it is rather therapeutic. Having grown up in South Africa, the habit of drinking of tea has become part of life. Don't get me wrong, I prefer a glass of wine to tea at the end of a day, but until late afternoon, a cup of tea is heaven.

Bob is also rather fond of tea and herein lies the problem...a domestic one! Neither of us can merely make tea for one, as the minute either of us hears the kettle being switched on, the other will shout loudly:

" Thanks, I'd love a cup too! "

We use tea bags, which aren't as authentic and queenly as loose tea, but regardless, one doesn't have to be a brain surgeon to make it. Which brings me to my point...

Alarmingly, the art of making tea is being outsourced too. Imagine buying a tea making machine and more scarily, individual tea capsules in order to make a cup! Yikes, my good sense revolts at this. What is wrong with making your own tea and even worse, why use those aluminium encased capsules that are bad for people and the environment?

Have we become extras in those childhood fables of long ago? Particularly the one about the Emperor with no clothes springs to mind. Advertisers are luring us away from common sense and make us feel as if it's the done thing to become enslaved by machines.

A point in case: The prolific use of capsule coffee machines. Just because George Clooney advertised them, a herd of women rushed out to buy a machine. Never mind that a cup of coffee now costs about 20 times more than if made with a normal filter coffee machine and that those cups of coffee are awfully small. Three sips and it's finished. Sad, how easily advertisers strip us of our common sense...


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

In The Scheme Of Things And So Forth.

History, life and gratitude...

As you know I've been entering the world of history one page at a time and haven't even made it to 2000 BCE, yet, it has made me ponder. Oh, the term BCE did also stump me, but I looked it up and found out that it means: Before Common Era or also, previous to year 1.

History shapes, or should shape our foundation of thoughts and ideas and just by reading about the hunter gatherers, it makes me appreciate what I have.

You know, I can't remember the last time I've had to go out and spear supper, drag it home, skin it and cook it over an open fire!

Sometimes, stepping back and getting a wider perspective of life is a good idea. Especially nowadays where everything good, bad and ugly is magnified a million times through our love of social media. Envy of other people's life is easily felt, yet we forget that most of the picture perfect entries are made up, glamourized and a tad bit exaggerated.

Being grateful is one of life's simple yet so powerful secrets to being happy. Alas, we don't pay it that much attention because most of us want a bigger bit of everything. Funnily enough, having everything isn't always a passport to happiness...

What is happiness after all?

  • Being healthy.
  • Being in relationship isn't full of friction and arguments.
  • Having enough to eat, each and every day.
  • Having a place to call home.
  • Family that is there for you in the good and bad times.
  • Having a warm jacket /shoes / home during winter because many people don't.

It sounds simplistic, but when I read about the lives of long ago, a time where if you were hungry, you'd have to go out and hunt, it suddenly moves modern simplistic into the column of luxurious.


Monday, 21 November 2016

The Unexpected Weight Of History.

A book lover's idea of paradise.

Finally on Friday morning the welcome sound of a knock was heard by Mausi and I. Bob was out working and the two of us were still a bit startled by the sound of a knock but rushed to the door nonetheless. Mausi was more than likely waiting for Oma, in order to spill the beans of life with us and of course to get a treat.

It was our postman with two parcels. Gosh, I think I must have been the happiest of his customers because I didn't know whether to smile, jump up and down with excitement or just enthuse about getting these parcels.

Having signed his computer device ( what has happended that from postman to waitress, hand held computers are the thing ? ) and having wished him a nice weekend, I took the parcels into our lounge and waited for Bob to come home for lunch so that we could open them together. As you can imagine, he was thrilled beyond the pale at our books having arrived.

Yes, we had ordered books, mostly fiction but one non-fiction. A history book and one covering the beginnings of time and I suppose mapping out the path of our ancestors. Well, Bob had chosen it and he chose well.

This bound history book, is a massive tomb of knowledge and can only be read sitting down. Sitting down with a table as support. This book weighs at least four kilograms. Beautifully illustrated and mapped out. A wealth of knowledge that has already peaked my interest after the first 30 pages. But it isn't a book to read lying down, because if one should nod off to sleep, the chances are great to be hurt by it falling on one's face.

Bob and I are avid and wholehearted readers, but despite our common interest we still have different approaches to reading books. When I opened one of the ones I'd ordered, I nearly fainted with pleasure at seeing such small writing and thick circumference. Almost 600 pages of closely packed adventure, murder and romance. Without delay I started on page one and straight away had left Burgenland for the shores of America.

Bob, on the other hand, was deliberating most weekend which book he should read first.( He is also someone who saves his favourite food on a plate for last.) Eventually, yesterday afternoon he did the only thing that would open the first page of either book...

" Schatzi, choose a hand. Left or right? "
and just like that he spent the rest of the afternoon with Deon Meyer in Cape Town.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

A Small Village Equates To Non Stop Action!

Some things I wish I hadn't seen...

There are a few neighbours and villagers who seem to be addicted to work. Yes, unless it's a Sunday, they are seen more often in their yard than anywhere else. Their homes are spic and span, nary a blade of grass out of place or a speck on any window. In a strange way I envy them but not enough to join their ranks.

By the bye, should you ever want to buy a house in a small village, make sure it's set back in a cul-de-sac or surrounded by tall trees. It'll save you lots of work.

Coming back from a walk the other morning, I stumbled on a sight that I wish I hadn't seen. There was an Eisenberger hanging out the window, equipped with what looked like professional window cleaning paraphernalia. Clearly it wasn't his first time!

Too late, even though my retinas were imprinted with the business of cleaning windows, I did a cheery wave, one that hopefully disguised my guilty dismay. When had I last cleaned our windows? Did I mention that he'd just come home from a long shift at work? Whatever happened to watching TV or reading a book after work?

The domestic bliss of cleaning windows is only done when absolutely necessary...such as when our view gets blurred. Once or twice the spirit of cleaning had infused me with a bout of passionate window cleaning only to be saddened, cross and disappointed a few hours later, when the streaks appeared prolifically making me wonder, why I had bothered in the first place.

Anyway, as I was almost home, this image of him cleaning the windows so prominently and expertly had my mind fired up. The minute I'd taken off my shoes and jacket, I accosted Bob without delay:

" Schatzi, your friend is cleaning his windows. I think he's just come home from work because he's wearing his safety pants. You know, we should also clean our windows after breakfast. "

Oh, I am so glad I married a man of common sense...

" If he wants to clean his windows, that's his problem. Ours are fine as they are. "


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Today's Too Nice Not To Share It.

From wet fog into the sunlight.

Despite the amazing picturesque ambiance, I had a few occasions of wanting to go back home to read my book.
A farmer was already tilling his field, the birds were tweeting and the fog was slowly lifting.
You'll still get to your destination despite the bends in the roads of life! No need to panic when things go awry, as it usually leads to something nice.
Amazingly, only about half a kilometer along and a turn to the right, brought a totally different light and mindset.
Blue skies, green fields and warm temperatures makes one doubt that we are in the middle of November.
To end off, a view of some of Deutsch Schützen's Kellerstöckels. Have a lovely Saturday...


Friday, 18 November 2016

Donau Soja, Another Reason I love Austria.

We are what our chicken, pig or cow ate.

We often eat without a regard for what the animal ate first, although I think that this year the plot has thickened through the many petitions against genetically modified food ( organism ) online. The proverbial line in the sand with one side being GMO free and the other GMO

Of course as with anything of that magnitude, profits call the shots most of the time, unless we as consumers change our buying habits.

In 2012 a new initiative was started right here in Austria by a group of young, talented and passionate people, the Donau Soja initiative. The main objective is the cultivation and processing of GMO-free soya within the Danube region of Europe and then labeling the final product
( produced from animals fed with this soya ) with their stamp. A stamp that we consumers can easily recognize and support.

Here is a link to their website, which explains their objectives DonauSoja

Just think about it...not only can we buy one less item that has been genetically engineered and put one less manipulated food source into our bodies but buy choosing food that was mainly or partly fed with Donau Soja we help reduce our carbon footprint. The soya is grown along the Danube river region.

In today's world it is extremely difficult to only eat healthy and " safe " foods, but I always find that every little bit counts and if I can buy some of the products of animals that have been mainly fed with this locally grown and safe Donau Soja, my body will thank me later on.

After seeing this documentary yesterday I had a look at our collection of old egg cartons and was amazed, pleased and so happy to find that two of them had the label on them.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Time For Documentaries, Reading and Knitting.

The world seems obsessed.

Love him or hate him, the people have democratically chosen and the results should be accepted as otherwise it makes a mockery out of any election. Let the man do and then judge.

What really makes no sense to me, is that most reporters clinch onto a campaign promise ( which by the way would be harmful if carried out ) and remind him again and again of having said it. How many unrealistic ideas have we all said in the heat of battle, knowing we'd never carry it out? Maybe the Saving Face policy wouldn't be a bad thing.

This morning I nearly choked on my coffee with laughter, when an American news presenter mentioned that he had been neutral and had treated both candidates the same during the last two years. Ha, nice one, trying to be a bit sycophantic.

Facebook has also become ( or maybe I wasn't aware of it before ) a place of vitriol and not much fun anymore. Hopefully it'll calm down, but in the meantime, it has afforded me the leisure of pursuing a different genre of entertainment.

Documentaries of all shapes and sizes. Some are foodie orientated, some historical and some with a dash of real crime. A nice and welcome change from all the news programs and talk shows.( English, American or German ).

Knitting a scarf while learning about the ancient Romans is great. Calming in fact and a wonderful way to change from this recent fatalistic mindset to a more gentler one. One, where the future looks mostly fine.

Bob and I have ordered a few books online. Of course I am not proud of it, as I am more in favour of supporting bricks and mortar shops, but in our part of Burgenland it is jolly difficult to find books published in English.

The upshot of it is that the two of us are so excited about the prospect of reading, that each time we see our postman at our gate, we ask him about our parcel. Maybe today!

As history is an important way to learn about the behaviour of people and nations and how it might shape the outcome of the future, Bob and I have ordered a book on world history from the beginning of time. This book is the one we're both so excited about and as there is only the one, there might be a few minor tiffs about who can read it first...


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

My Gratitude For Nature's Splendour.

All seasons have their inherent charm about them.

This vibrant birch outshines all its neighbouring trees. This morning it was slightly overcast and less than bright, but this divine birch made my day.
Winter fodder for horses or cattle. These perfectly rounded bales are seen everywhere. This photo was taken on yesterday's walk and as you can see, it was chillingly cold. Minus five degrees some have said.
The last leaves left hanging are usually the most picturesque. In the background you can get a glimpse of the frozen blades of grass.
The charm of autumn. Cold, stark and yet magnetic in its ability to make one ponder the magnificence of life.
Again, in its unadorned starkness lies the true beauty. Be it of things to come ( wine of course ) or of the privilege of witnessing the seasonal changes of nature.
Aren't I blessed to be able to walk in these surrounds? A good way to mentally detox and change one's outlook.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

We Cat Owners Are A Pretty Delusional Bunch!

One word sums it up: pet shop emporium.

Fellow cat owners do get along almost from the start and can hone in on each other at any party or function. Might have to do with part of our cat's fur deigning to recline on our clothes. The other evening was a prime example.

As you know, we have the odd occasion where the princess refuses any and all tidbits brought to her on a sliver platter. Bob and I rearrange and change our shopping excursions in order to have a shot at tempting the royal pallet. How many times have the two of us inched slowly down the isles of the local pet emporium almost coming to a marital spout over the choice of cow or wild boar?

Gosh, there are rows upon rows of appetizing feline fare. From expensive to cheap, from exotic to ridiculous and here lies the crux of the matter, which we were discussing with a fellow cat owner:

" You know, we've even bought her a can of wild boar cat food
and she won't touch it. "
" When did your cat last hunt a wild boar? "

And just like that, the big illusion that we've bought into suddenly collapsed like the proverbial house of cards. Our princess would never hunt and kill a boar, let alone a cow, rabbit, or kernel of rice. Gosh, when an odd cricket or spider crosses her path, she might play with it but never ever eat it.

The one delectable morsel she would love to munch on would be the eternal feline foe, the irritatingly fast mouse. Domestic or wild, any mouse is a cat's delight. Which brings me to my question...why don't they sell nicely apportioned bits of mouse as cat food?

  • Mouse julienne
  • Mouse tartar
  • Deep fried mouse
  • Steamed lean cuisine mouse
  • Curried mouse
  • Sweet and sour mouse

Since we've moved into rural territory, we've been made aware of the prolific appearance of mice. Once the crops get cut in Autumn, mice try and find a gap to enter the warm haven of a house. Mice, as cute as they look in Tom & Jerry are actually rather dangerous inside. Why then not use them as prepacked cat food?

Anyway, one guy who's way ahead of this new trend is our nephew. He's only seen our feline princess via Skype, but he has made up his mind to bring her a mouse the next time he comes for a visit.


Monday, 14 November 2016

Some More Quotes From Yesteryear.

A different train of thought might be a good idea.

" Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in calm spirit. Do not loose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. "
Saint Francis de Sales ( 1567-1622 )
" Nine-tenth of wisdom is being wise in time. "
Theodore Roosevelt ( 1858-1919 )
" Correction does much, but encouragement does more. "
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 1749-1832 )
" With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts. "
Elanor Roosevelt ( 1884-1962 )
" Well done is better than well said. "
Benjamin Franklin ( 1706-1790 )
" Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy. "
Benjamin Franklin ( 1706-1790 )
" Do something wonderful, people may imitate it. "
Albert Schweitzer ( !875-1965 )
" Leap and the net will appear. "
John Burroughs ( 1837-1921 )
" If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. "
Milton Berle ( 1908-2002 )
" Give thy thoughts no tongue. "
William Shakespeare ( 1564-1616 )


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Extremely Sunny Yet Bone Chillingly Icy.

Hardly a cloud in the sky and a treat to behold Eisenberg.

A bit of mystique or a bit of romance? You decide.
The birch tree still has a summer glow and makes a perfect frame for Eisenberg's vineyards.
One of the many hunter's lodges scattered about the fields and forests. A nice perch.
A way into the maize of our local forest. Unless Bob's with me, I tend to avoid these tempting lanes.
Hidden in plain sight. It was so spectacular seeing the sun's rays illuminate the colourful bits of this bit of forest.
These two buddies are purely there to scare off the birds...and I have to admit that this eh, bird, once or twice called out a cheery greeting. Of course only when I didn't wear my glasses.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Unwitting And Rather Accidental Wisdom Of Teenagers.

The Bobster and his brother should set a trend...

Like any story worthwhile and hugely amusing, this one only saw the light of day after a few glasses of schnapps and amid other ditties of the same ilk. Personally, I think the Bobster had forgotten this gem of a story until last night.

We had a nice evening at my parents with the addition of a man from Florida who chose to spend a week in our neck of the woods and loved it by the way.

Comparing apples with oranges, we started to talk about the habit of expensive cars. No, not the luxury ones but Audis, BMWs and Edward's favourite, Volvos. Fair enough, good cars but our guest was saying that he would never ever dish out such a lot of money for a vehicle.

That gave a gentle nudge to Bob's memory and he regaled us about the time when he and his brother became motorized. As his brother is older, he was first over the no more bicycle line by having passed his license. If he had been a teenager today, he might have been given a new car by his parents, as so many do. But, he got his license back in the 80's.

Bob was too funny, retelling this story.

" You know, my brother got my mother's car, which already was about twenty years old. But he was so happy to have it. "

A powder blue two door Ford Escort 1100.

Then he revealed a little tidbit; my father in law being a motor mechanic had made sure that this elderly vehicle had a bit of oomph under the hood.

By virtue of association, Bob had a set of wheels now too. A set of wheels that would motor on the whiff of petrol. Very fuel efficient, and just as well...they had to get a part time job to fill it with petrol. As Bob said, there were other priorities and fuel often was an afterthought, resulting in his brother putting in a few Rands worth at a time. Enough to get him home from the disco.

Now to the piece de restistance...Bob, his brother and some friends were at the local agricultural show ( The Royal Show ) and had parked their chariot between two new cars. Fast forward to them going home, and they were perplexed, horrified and sad to see that the two new cars were still there, but their old car had been absconded.

I can just about imagine the to-do with going home and telling their parents, and of course reporting it to the police. Teenagers being teenagers, they might have had a drink or ehem, two.

But, Bob triumphantly told us that as his brother had only put in a few Rands worth of petrol, the car was found by the police a few hours hadn't even made the city limit before the thieves had run out of petrol and had to abandon the car.

Just goes to show, that a full tank of petrol isn't always a good thing...


Friday, 11 November 2016

On A Brighter Side...

Same language yet slightly different interpretation.

One of our radiators has sprung a leak. A few water drops cascade into a bowl underneath it as soon as we fire up the central heating. Not such a good omen right in the middle of a cold spell. Never mind, our plumber lives two villages over.

As can only happen in our village, I met up with him outside the doctor's rooms on Tuesday, while I was taking someone there.

" Hi, so glad I saw you. Would you be able to come and sort out our dripping radiator? "
" Of course I can. Just call me when you've switched it on and then I'll run it through. "

Honestly, I think that is what he said and we eventually organized that he would be at our house Thursday at 8 a.m. As a seasoned procrastinator, I made huge plans to have the house ship shape for this 8 a.m deadline. Did I mention, that the plumber is a known perfectionist and keeps his house tidy? And more importantly, he is a friend of my parents and it wouldn't do for them to be exposed as having an untidy offspring, but I tend to think that this ship has sailed long ago.

In that important mental run-up to the actual cleaning, I ran through the various rooms he might have to go into. Bathrooms because he might have to put more water into the heating loop, the actual radiators, general tidiness and of course the floors, which he would have to lie on to look under those radiators. A tall order indeed.

Yesterday morning arrived faster than expected, and I had left myself 40 minutes to do all of the above including having a shower, washing my hair and getting dressed. Yikes, wonder woman indeed! My subconscious mind had warned me that he might even arrive early. Perfectionists aren't known to be late or even fashionably on time...

Oh yes, I heard his car driving up our driveway at a quarter to eight. Luckily I had showered and done most of the tasks, except for washing last night's dishes. The kitchen looked like a whirlwind had blown through it, and it had: moi! The Bobster of course is unexpectedly the neat one in the kitchen.

Never mind, I would have to make light of the less than sparkling kitchen. Look, he more than likely didn't even notice and I'm sure that in his profession he's seen much worse. So, there I was prepared for him to pull out and replace the pipe underneath the radiators, and had cleaned the bathrooms to my mum's standards, when all he did was to pull out a spanner and tighten the bolts. Five minutes tops, no rooms inspected.

The great part about this linguistic mishap was that I have done a stint of house cleaning and don't need to do it again too soon...


Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Mere Picture Might Change Your Mindset.

Let's lead our thoughts into a more positive direction.

Icy frost was all about, yet this faded old wagon wheel propping up our barn, was a perfect foil for this vine leaf. Yellow, vibrant, alive. A nice image to stumble over.
It was a dicey and rather icy walk yesterday morning but so very worth it. Seeing the frosted blades of grass, aging leaves and everything else be awoken by the sunshine, was magical. The frost seemed like a diamond coating.
Alongside the walking path, which was rather treacherous with its own coating of ice, was a constant vying of impressions, soul refreshing ones. Yes, it is a muddy field combined with a green verge, but isn't it stunning? The depth of brown contrasting with the flashy green.
It was a miracle that I got home at all...wherever I turned, something beautiful caught my eye.
As I wanted this post to take your mind of current world affairs, I couldn't resist putting in these next two pictures. I took them in November 2014 and 2015, but as I like them, I thought I'd post them for you.
Have a fantastic day...


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Jane Austen, What A Brilliant Woman.

Pride and Prejudice: My favourite literary romance.

A few exerts of her brilliant dialogue and artful yet timeless description of human nature.

... The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature, must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained...
Pride and Prejudice
"...There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense...."
Elizabeth Bennet to Jane Bennet
..."Pardon me for interrupting you, Madam, " cried Mr Collins; " but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute to my felicity. " ...
Mr Collins talking to Mrs Bennet about Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
..." My dear Jane, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man; you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who marries him, cannot have a proper way of thinking..."
Miss Elizabeth Bennet talking to Miss Jane Bennet
...Mr Bennet treated the matter differently. " So, Lizzy," said he one day, " your sister is crossed in love I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. "...
Mr Bennet talking to Miss Elizabeth Bennet


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Cat's Out Of The Bag: Deutsch Schuetzen-Eisenberg Is The Place To Be.

Deutsch Schützen-Eisenberg has been voted the best family friendly municipality in Burgenland.

What we locals have know all along, has been made official. We are an ideal place for a family to live. From Kindergarten, via primary school to a weekly senior's club.

Since the clip was aired on the Austrian TV Chanel, ORF, a feeling of pride has swept through our municipality like a wildfire. How could it not? Our mayor and his team are constantly working at making our municipality family friendly and it has paid off.

In the past, the trend has been to move to large cities, but I think the tide is turning and many are yearning for a less hectic lifestyle.

  • A lifestyle where parents can spend time with their kids while they are kids.
  • A place where kids can and do still play outside with their friends.
  • A place where many good high schools are within 10-30 kilometers and all covered by a bus service.
  • A place where the community has various clubs one can belong to: gardening club, theater club, fire department, youth club and many more.
  • A place with two highly experienced and wonderful doctors.
  • A place where senior citizens aren't forgotten. Card games, bus outings, walks etc.
  • A place where one can ride a bike, go for a run or a walk along the many different paths and be part of nature, with hardly any traffic.

Here is to the mayor and his team who have worked so tirelessly to give us a fantastic place to live in. Well done to our municipality.


Monday, 7 November 2016

Tomorrow's American Elections Emit A Touch Of Nostalgia For Me.

School revisited.

Maybe it was only in my era, the notorious 80's complete with Aha, Depeche Mode and of course the enduring Mad-onna. School had to be endured but had the odd moments of lassitude and laizez-faire.

The 80's was book ended onto the 70's, that decade where everyone of course had to have a tan ( by the way, some women still persist that they have to sport a prune like tan and pretzel themselves on those awful tanning beds ) , gold jewellery and a crush on John Travolta. The tan craze eventually mingled with the 80's craze to be thin. The 80's was a hotbed of diets.

Gosh, the Atkins Diet, Beverly Hill's Diet, Rosmary's Diet along with many many others complete with Jane Fonda's aerobics tape were constantly on our minds or a part of our daily life. Yes, stupid really.

Now to those nostalgic events during my years in high school...Every now and again a rumour was started and went viral the old fashioned way by being whispered from one ear into the other. By the way, thank you to whoever did start those rumblings.

" Have you heard, that in two weeks time life on earth will end? "

Seriously, I can still remember sitting around with friends during break time, munching on the fashionable celery and carrot sticks and suddenly being thrown this Get out of your diet for good card. never mind the obvious worry about the world coming to an end!

Those few times that these rumours kept on reappearing, were the times we lived without a real care in the world. Break-times were suddenly inundated with toasted cheese sandwiches, chocolates, chips and Chelsea buns. Tests that were scheduled in those rare weeks, often weren't studied for at all, why bother at all if life would end?

Fast forward to today and it being the last day before this rather un-gentlemanly like American election and you sort of get my might change on Wednesday for a lot of people and it might loosen the tight binds of conventions and restrictions we have put into our daily life.

But just like those fatalistic rumours of my youth, whatever the outcome on Wednesday, life will adjust and more importantly, go on.


Sunday, 6 November 2016

A Mixed Bag Of Local Photos.

The curtain call for most of the foliage-troupes.

There are a few trees scattered about our neighbourhood that are magnificent in their siren red cover.
Even the more frequently seen yellow leaved trees are magnetic in their ochre plumage.
One of my favourite shots...almost like those hula hoop girls swooshing us along with grace.
If you take the time to look at the details, you'll be in awe of mother nature...
These two carried on lazying about shooting the breeze. More than likely about me...
As Deutsch Schützen is built into a valley, it tends to attract the morning fog rather often. Spectacular if you are out walking, but less so if you live in fog.
It was jolly cold yesterday and as you can see, the blades of grass have an icy sheen to them.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

" Turn Right At Curvy Gerti's House! "

Directions, Burgenland style.

Lest you organize a trip to perhaps catch sight of a curvaceous Gerti, don't, as firstly Gerti isn't very curvy and secondly, it was a description of the bend in the road next to her house.

Hardly anyone local explains directions with the proper street names:

" Turn left after you've passed Kainz. "
" You know where the church is? Take the road next to the cemetery and turn right after blue house. "
" She lives next door to where Susie's Oma was born. "

The beautifully green new street signs are really more for show and decorations as the postman, salesmen or the odd tourist are the only ones who seem to make use of them. Getting around our village with often cryptic explanations being the only clues, is rather fun and fashionably eccentric.

Learning to navigate the roads around our area is better than a history lesson. It's those little tidbits dropped in casual conversation, or while giving directions, which make life delightfully rounded and ever so different. I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of locals can't place the street names as they are so used to talking about the families who have lived and still live in the houses.

Having conversations with the matriarchs of our village requires an out of the box way of linking thoughts. The scaffolding holding up their memories is indelibly linked with the lives lived inside the various houses in our village. Often a conversational train of thought gets derailed with a delightful story about a particular house and the women who married into it.

Even our house is locally known by the previous owner's nickname. Isn't it strange how as soon as one finds out about the history of a house, it changes into a home and more importantly, you can visualize a life lived in it.

Men from our village who are more known as Silver Foxes, were those lads in short pants decades ago, making their mark on their home or rather giving it its character.

By the way, even Bob and I have taken to this way of giving directions. We live on Teichgasse
( Pond Lane ) and most of the time we merely tell visitors to turn left when they see the pond and that our house is the one next to the pink one...


Friday, 4 November 2016

The Man On The Ladder Among Other Things.

Not in everyone's garden.

Not always a welcome sight when I exit the forest joining Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen. Far from it, most of the time it or rather he, catches me unawares and makes me startle.
An often seen scenery, but in each season it has a breathtaking quality about it. The valley clouded in a sea of fog with the only recognizable island appropriately being the local church.
A sturdy tree trunk setting the ambiance and giving more hue to the foliage at its base. A bit like the tree is holding court.
Walking passed this little pond was stunning. The sun had just risen and had switched on the ponds reflectors. Apart from running deep, still waters hold a lot of sublimity.
...Awaiting transformation in idle pulchritude...
As I started off with a hanging man, it is only fitting to finish with a working man. Bob working out Burgenland style...Who needs a gym when you live in the country?


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Common Courtesies Do Pack A Punch.

Surprisingly, they don't cost much either.

However much one stretches the imagination, Oberwart is not even close to being a city like Vienna, London or even Pietermaritzburg for that case, yet yesterday a touch of big city sentiment reared its superfluous head.

Living in the sticks as one might say, a trip into Oberwart ( which some of you might consider to be the sticks ) is an adventure and full of excitement for Bob and I. Yes, seriously. We get a chance to meander along the long hallways of our mall and for a moment get that feeling of ubiquity that only the standardized layout of malls can give. If you close your eyes, you could be anywhere.

Talking about being anywhere, Bob and I had many sightings of Dopplegängers yesterday and for a few moments we both had that feeling of confusion about seeing familiar faces in the wrong places.

Both Bob and I love the small town feel but somehow quiet a few shoppers do leave their nicer characteristics at the entrance of this mall. Faces get a more pinched look, impatience is apparent in the angle of heads and audible sighs, queues get cut into and are accompanied by almost a growling expression daring the person behind to veto the move.

One of our favourite shops to just walk into is Eduscho, where the minute you step over the threshold, a feeling of giddy happiness envelopes you. Well, me at least. Is there anything more divine than the smell of freshly roasted coffee?

Yesterday I queued up to purchase a pound of it. The selection is rather prolific and it can be hard to choose the right blend. Anyway, as per usual, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful even if there were some irate shoppers tapping their feet behind me.

Even paying for the coffee was a pleasure as in my mind I imagined that first cup of freshly brewed coffee the next morning. When she handed my purchase to me, I did what I usually do...

" Thank you so much. I hope you'll have a nice rest of the day too. "
You know, for a moment I thought I had said the wrong thing. The lady stepped back a half-step, her eyes opened wide into a saucer like state and more importantly she was speechless for a few seconds...but then:
" My gosh, thank you for saying this. You are the first customer in a long time who has actually wished for me to have a nice day. "

As much as I was thrilled with my pound of mood altering coffee beans, I was more pleased to have made a difference to her day.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Bob And My Funny Carnival Adventure.

It could only happen to us, couldn't it?

We locked our gate for Halloween and it brought to mind our funny adventure. In fact, we both remembered at the same time and had a good giggle.

When we were still renovating our house, we were fresh off the city bus and had no idea of the local customs and habits. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, and we could hear a rowdy bunch of voices and a lot of noise stop outside our neighbours house. Bob peaked around the corner and saw a carnival procession or as he later told me, a bunch of people dressed like the original Village People, who were obviously headed to us next.

Bob being prudent by nature, high tailed it to the barn, and thought he'd chosen a wise hiding place, when the carnival procession came into our yard. Being either the brave or stupid one, I was the one answering the door and was rather embarrassed to be surrounded by a bunch of people in disguise.

Look, they were jolly happy ( how could they not when they had to drink a tot at every stop ). At that stage I was lucky enough to not drink any alcohol and could without guilt decline the many offers of a tot of schnapps.

The troupe was of course well oiled by then and demanded to see the man of the house...the man who had to come down from the barn and mumble an excuse of sorts. Just for good measure, he was made to dance with a nun ( don't fret, it was a lady who had chosen the habit for a day ), surrounded by a clapping circle of villagers. Those who know Bob, will know that it was his worst nightmare come true. Dancing and and on public display.

Fast forward to the next year and Fasching ( carnival ) and you can surely imagine that Bob had a plan. We decided to outfox the carnival procession by pretending to not be at home. I think we might even have parked the car somewhere else too! From 9 am, the two of us were barricaded in our house. Curtains drawn and lights out. Even any excursions into our garden were done to an almost military standard.

My mum was aware of our planned internment and thought we were silly and should have just joined in for those few minutes. Oh no, Bob was adamant not to live through his own personal horror again...By five o'clock in the afternoon, we still hadn't heard the loud voices and shouts coming down our lane and were debating whether we could brave a peek outside, when the phone rang.

It was mum, a mum who was laughing so much she almost couldn't talk properly...

" Biggi, the carnival procession is only every second year in Eisenberg. This year they were only in Deutsch Schützen. You hid for nothing."

Yip, a rather funny adventure indeed and Bob and I still laugh like mad when we think of it...those that laugh together, stay together...


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What Does A Typical Knitter Look Like?

Clearly not like me...!

From an early age I've had a love of knitting yet like all passions it has a tendency to ebb in and out of my life. At times the muse takes hold of me and I will fill every free minute with knitting and have several items on the go at the same time. In knitting circles these many objects have a proper name: U F O's or Un-fnished Objects.

When the last wave of knitting passion came to the fore, I knitted jerseys, bags, beanies and the odd scarf. Just look at my relations during a cold spell and how fetching they look in multi coloured and often ill fitting beanies.

After a few years of dormancy, I can feel the yawning of my muse and she should be fully awake within weeks. A wool shop is needed because as any lover of knitting knows, there is no better feeling than to step foot into a cozy knitting shop. "Shear" heaven being surrounded by balls of wool, oodles of ideas and fellow knitting addicts.

Yesterday, I mentioned my reawakened passion to my walking group, and was rather surprised when one of them burst out laughing. Clearly she doesn't think I have the look of a knitter or perhaps doesn't credit me with the dexterity needed. This has happened before, and it makes me wonder if knitting is still thought of as a grandmotherly hobby?

When I excitedly mentioned to Bob my intention of picking up needles again, he only had one thing to say:

" As long as you don't knit a pair of jeans for me. I won't wear them!"
Either he has watched one too many episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, or he hasn't told me all the embarrassing childhood bits that marked his youth...could his mum or gran have knitted him an un-trendy pair of trousers and more importantly, expected him to wear them?

Now there is a challenge indeed, maybe not trousers but I think I could manage to knit him a pair of undies!!! Depending on the severity of my reawakened knitting passion, there might be a new trend starting in Eisenberg with some sporting a knitted item made by yours truly.