Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Dinner For One Day Has Arrived.

Cheers yet again.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I actually saw in the New Year. By ten o'clock the lure of dreamland is greater than the lure of a toast at midnight. Not because I might have imbibed too much, but because my body wants to rest.

How many of us will laugh at this famous Dinner For One skit and feel better for only having had two or three drinks and not stumbling about?

Our neighbour ( no, another one ) has invited us to pop over and join their party and let's see whether we make it to midnight. As I was brave enough to marry a youngster ( the Bobster, at four years my junior seems to be blessed with far more party stamina than his cougar wife ) he might complain about seeing me nod off in a corner somewhere. Nothing more embarrassing for him than to see me inelegantly falling asleep on a chair, with my head doing the sleep nod and on the backward flip letting out a snore or two. Ah, what can one say about the youth of today...

Do you remember how as teenagers we longed and counted the days for the New Year's Eve party as it was the one and the only time to be able to garner a kiss without seeming forward and brash. That is, if one had been clever enough to be in the vicinity of the longed for person. The more popular the chap, the more a bevy of beauties would be elbowing themselves into the correct positions.

Perhaps it helped celebrating so many parties in a hot climate, with most of the time a swimming pool being about. Feeling a tad bit tired was never a problem as a quick dash into the cold pool was enough to enable a few more hours of dancing and mingling.

A lot of the village social circles are highly adept at partying until the sun comes up despite being in eh, my age group or older...with cunning they start playing cards when tiredness beckons and if that doesn't blow out the tiredness, they merely step outside into minus 5 or so degrees. far better than a swimming pool.

Wherever you are spending New Year's Eve, have a fun time, don't drink and drive and for goodness sake, please don't let off any fireworks. Think of the animals and pets.


Friday, 30 December 2016

Yet Another Christmas Tree Gets Taken Down.

A real lumberjack affair.

Our rural bliss has a few less blissful bits and a large and stunning fir tree in our yard unfortunately posed a threat to a power line and thus had to get the chop. Not very tree-hugger-ish but one strong storm could have uprooted this tree and perhaps taken out the village's electricity and in the process granted us persona non grata status.

Energie Burgenland is our electricity provider and we were amazed not to mention very fortunate to hear that they have a designated lumberjack team who scour the neighbourhoods for errant trees. Yes, a special unit with chain saws....Did I mention that it cost us nothing? They are indeed so special, that they come and assess the potential toppling danger first and in our case they came back a few months later to do the deed.

The only downside being that the Bobster and I had to find a way to dispose of the trunk. A ten odd meter trunk. Ever so slowly the two of us are finding our rural feet but the disposing of tree trunks is still a theoretical exercise for us...we love our limbs and fingers etc. far too much!

The beauty of living in our little hamlet is that we have fabulous neighbours. Herbert, is a neighbour extraordinaire who always goes out of his way to help us. Quite clearly he has deciphered the frown lines on our forehead in regards to rural adventures. This morning we got a phone call:

" Good morning guys. I'm coming over with the tractor to help you sort out the tree trunk. "
Did I mention that it is the 30th of December and freezing cold? Wow, what a great guy. Most neighbours will lend you a cup of sugar but not many will lend you a hand, tractor and expertise to sort out major rural problems.

I love life in Burgenland.

A chilly yet fantastic start to a cold winter's morning in our back garden.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

It Turns Out That I Can Make A Fire.

The wrong pile...

It looks so easy and do-able in movies or even while watching Bob, yet since the onset of seasonal coldness, I seem to have had a slight problem with lighting a fire. How hard could it be when all one needs is an old newspaper, matches, kindling and logs of wood?

During the hottest part of the summer, most villagers do organize and refill their stacks of firewood. Is it a case of it being better in summer or a case of lemmings is not known, but regardless, it is a lot of hard work in 40 degree temperatures. The last few years we've helped the parents with this arduous business and we always get a bonus of a trailer full of logs.

Brilliant and not to be sneezed at as it makes the kitchen warm and cozy for at least one month. This year's bonus stack has had the audacity to give me a hard time though. Each time I tried to light the fire in the stove ( Aga ) it would only catch fire after the third try. Believe me, plenty of swear words were heard and to top it all off, the resident expert ( Bob ) would make a fire in seconds and then tell me each and every time how to make the fire burn. Yikes.

Anyway, I had sort of managed to get the fire going with only two tries and was feeling mighty chuffed with myself, when one evening mum phoned:

" You know Biggi, the wood we gave you needs to dry out another year. It is so difficult to light a fire with it. "
Yeah, you had better believe that the first thing I did was to tell Bob that it wasn't me but the wood.

The other day, Bob cleaned up one of the sheds and discovered a whole lot of firewood which he stacked neatly into its various categories. Great stuff as all I need to do is to take a tray and load up the wood. As this wood has been resting for at least eight years, it merely needs an angry glance to catch alight... well, not that much but suffice to say that I am floating on a wave of success, as the last five times, the fire has taken straight away.

In a world where one hesitates to turn on the news lest another petty fight is aired, tweeted or talked about, it is nice to be able to take retreat in ordinary household chores and activities. Back to basics will keep one sane...


The never ending pile of logs that gets stacked.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Fine English Way Never Goes Out Of Fashion.

Who's Barnaby?

Rather often in the last few years I have been told that everyone likes watching Barnaby. At first I thought how odd it was that grown ups watch a children's cartoon. Barnaby, Barney all so similar that is until...

One should never assume and of course I did. The title of a movie or series is never the same in other countries. Whereas we are huge fans of Midsomer Murders, in Austria everyone is a fan of Barnaby...Inspector Barnaby. I should have known.

But the really surprising bit is that despite an average of three gruesome murders per episode, the overall feel of the murder mystery is rather elegant and dare I say, depicting a gentle way of life. The English way.

Even in our house, murder rules and each night we've put in one of our treasured Midsomer DVD,s which we had slavishly collected ten years ago. One would think that after seeing them numerous times the question of who did it? would be null and void but alas, yours truly has often fallen asleep during the vital bits. Quite nice really, a new movie each time.

The other day while walking with the gals, we were discussing the disappearance of a part time village resident and the murmurs being heard of perhaps the local pond being drained! Oh yes, a real who-done-it on our doorstep. Naturally, my brain having been rewired by a string of murder books and films, I quipped:

" Maybe they'll find a few other skeletons. "
Oops, a tad too much...

Naturally the rumour mill is glowing and when the police arrived a while ago with sniffer dogs, it went into overdrive. As nothing was found, one wonders if he didn't do a runner from his woman?

Alas that would set a bad precedent for many a husband as it has been said that not long after the ink has dried on the wedding certificate, the odd wife has turned into a domestic shrew and really, who could blame some men for dreaming of doing a runner...


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Eh, What Day Is It Today?

Losing track of time.

A few public holidays on the trot coupled with a weekend will do the trick. Honestly, quickly, tell me what day it is today. Not so easy, is it?

Christmas is one of the only holidays that help us forget the almighty daily rut. For a few days, no shops are open and thus the only reason to step outside is either to visit family, go to church or for a walk. Rather a relaxing time when the option of shopping is taken out of the equation.

Bob and I went shopping a few days before the event, grocery shopping that is. Conundrum indeed, trying to estimate how much we'd eat, knowing the shops would never be open again...oh, that's how it seemed when we looked into other shopper's trolleys. Stuffed to the rafters with food of every description.

Now that we are approaching some sort of normality, shops are open again, it turns out that our cupboard, fridge and earth cellar are far from empty. The latter place I'm most happy about as it moonlights as a wine cellar. Good golly, imagine running out of vino over this long holiday? What a horrible thought.

For some reason each of the last couple of days has seemed like a Sunday and the cup of those elusive Months of Sundays is filling up. There is a feeling of relaxed joyfulness about and more and more people are uncovering the almost historic fact that life without a turn on its treadmill can be fun, enjoyable and far less taxing on the system.

I have finally worked out that today is a Tuesday but as this coming weekend is another long one, the puzzle of what day it might be is far from over. Thank goodness for that, as there is nothing nicer than to lose track of time and live in a happy limbo, while eating all those divine Christmas cookies, chocolates and Lebkuchen.


Monday, 26 December 2016

Another Idol.

George Michael, the 80's personified.

Being a teenager in those notorious 80's, one couldn't escape Wham! nor George Michael. And why would one in any case? Every disco frequented, had a few Wham! songs and those were the ones that got us onto the dance floor.

There must have been a whole lot of us ( now slightly older ) fans, who had a procession of his songs flit through our minds this morning. Or to put it another way, his songs are woven into the tapestry of our lives.

We all remember where we first heard for example; Last Christmas, Careless Whisper, Club Tropicana or Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

Pop music was just that...popular. Our generation must have been lucky to have so many young performers, that many thought might be those One hit wonders, morph in front of our eyes into superstars that lasted through a few decades. George, Kylie and others.

Back in the 80's, many boys tried to grow their hair into a George Michael do. Slightly longer and very blond. An almost insurmountable problem in South Africa at the time...School was very strict and boys only sported a short, back and sides do. Some did try their best to explain the sudden blonde hair colour as having been done by the sun.

There was such a feeling of glamour in all his videos and I think that too, made us become his fans. Of course when you see these videos now, they look terribly simple and garish, but back then they were cutting edge and helped many of us dream of a different life. Escapism at its best.

Anyway, thank you to this superstar for having given us so many precious memories, not to mention the hours of divine wool gathering we had, while listening to either Wham! or George's songs.


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Leaves On Ice.

Reminds me of Bailey's on ice...

Frozen in prime....the yellow caught my eye first, and the overall serenity, second.
Just a reference point to show you where I got rewarded with the icy beauty of winter.
A delicate dusting of ice.
All along the forest lane, these portraits of nature are in view. A natural museum of art...
A burgundy hue so that we don't forget the raison d'aitre of our area...luscious red vino or Blaufränkisch, to give it its proper due.
Finally, a mere turn down the road takes one into a winter fairy land. Walking through the forest when all is white and frozen in time, the soul delights.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas, Was't It Just The Other Day?

Time is running at top speed.

All those eons ago when I was little, it seemed forever and even longer before that man in the red suit would come and hand out presents. A lifetime, it seemed to be, but one filled with excitement, anticipation and tradition.

It isn't fair to merely blame the fastness of time on our chronological age because I have a feeling that it has more to do with all the activities, work and time thieves we cram into each year. There is nary a spare moment anywhere to contemplate the various markers of each year and before we know it, Christmas in on our doorstep.

Thirty or more years ago we did't have modern technology and all that it entails. At most, we received and answered about six letters per month. Answered by writing on letter paper and dropping the letter into a post box. Each letter contained a summary of life lived and one needed a bit of imagination too.

Especially that one carefully penned letter most of us wrote to Father Christmas, a letter which informed him how good we'd been throughout the year...oh yes, imagination indeed.

Most of us spend our days multi-tasking, if that is still applicable as we tend to juggle more than two chores at a time. Even the simple deed of conversation has been compromised by our beam me up Scotty appliance. Bad enough that it interrupts conversations but now with the Instagram & co's, it has to make snapshots too....Eish, what are we doing to ourselves?

Back to Christmas, which has finally arrived today. Millions of children everywhere have opened the last window of their advent calendar and that means one thing only. The next thing they open are the many presents under the Christmas tree.

Naturally, parents are prepared and snap away to share their offspring's bounty online, and sadly, making sure that even Christmas is an activity hindered by multi tasking...

Just for today and tomorrow, let's switch off our smartphones and just imbibe our children and family's joy first hand and with all senses being 100 percent focused on the present(s).


Just in case Father Christmas is lost...

Friday, 23 December 2016

A Quick Trip To The Old Age Home.

Despite a crowd, loneliness is there.

Bob was waiting in the car while I went to visit a lovely lady in one of the local old age homes. Even though it was bitterly cold, I couldn't budge him out of the car.

" I'm sorry, but it just depresses me. "
In a way he was the clever one. Yes, most old age homes seem to be parking spots for many. It sounds harsh, I know, but the snapshot I got was of a whole lot of elderly people sitting at various tables and as it was close to lunch time, they were subjected to huge white bibs around their necks with food not even in sight. Yikes, whatever happened to dignity?

The lady I visited was just motoring along the hallway with her stroller, and when she saw me, her eyes lit up and she quickly made us dash into a sort of glassed in lounge. We exchanged pleasantries, news, gossip and the oddness of life in an old age home. Quite correctly, she equated it with being back in Kindergarten.

Perhaps carers and nurses become shop blind, as the residents ( ie, their paying customers ) get addressed with words that make it seem as if they don't have a thought left in their heads. These residents are the generation who've endured hardship, raised families, toiled and never complained. Seems kind of awful to aggregate them into grown babies.

I read an article a while ago wherein a doctor in charge of an old age home, observed a most amazing change in the residents, once dogs, cats and birds where given a place in it. Oh and, real plants (! ) in each resident's room replace the plastic ones. Rather a simple idea.

Can life in a nursing home be made uplifting and purposeful?

Loneliness, depression and inertia seem to be the main culprits, often greater than the actual illnesses. Imagine, merely getting up each day and not having any responsibility nor chore to do? Well, he noticed that the residents suddenly woke up from their inertia. Eyes started to sparkle and liveliness returned. Medication needed was reduced by 38 % and death rate by 15%....makes one wonder, doesn't it?

Anyway, the hardest thing is to change routine and culture of these institutions, but at least we can all make an effort and go and visit once in a while. There is usually someone without family and extremely grateful to get a visit.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Something Old & Something New, But Definitely Very Cold.

A cold wind blows...

This darling cow, that in my mind I named Susi, might not be anymore as this photo was taken a few years ago. But, whenever I go through my photos, this one makes me smile.
This little bird almost seemed glued onto his twig, yesterday morning. I did get a bit worried in case he had frozen onto it, but when I got a step closer, he flitted off.
Another old favourite of mine. Two pheasants meandering in the Deutsch Schützen vineyards. Vibrant in colour and style.
We tend to forget the minute and intricate beauty of ice and snow. Amazing to think that each icy crystal shape is different to the next.
A perfect display of how steep some of the local vineyards are. Our village, Eisenberg is at the bottom of these vineyards. This particular photo was taken in our first winter here.
Ice everywhere. As you can imagine, it was bitterly cold yet, the vivid brilliance of the icy creations more than made up for a frozen finger or nose...
To end off, here is another re-run. The delightful and meandering walk along the Hungarian border. Romantic even when the skies are foretelling a snow flurry to come. Our part of Burgenland is a sheer joy to live in.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Just As Father Christmases Clutch Onto Chimneys, So Women Lean Out Of Windows.

A well established pre-Christmas tradition.

It dawned on me yesterday morning, as I was coming back from my weekly walk with the gals, that one of our Eisenberger's was dangling precariously out of her window. Goodness me, apart from anything else, it was minus 3 degrees...

Once my eyes had adjusted to this strange sight, I noticed a cloth and spray bottle in her hand, which explained her winter madness. A bout of window cleaning or in the traditional terms: A Christmas Spruce Up before the family comes over for Christmas.

Isn't it funny how we want to impress a twice or thrice removed relative more than ourselves? It's not as if they'd come over for Christmas lunch with white gloves to test for dust...

Walking home along the street, which is ours too, I noticed a lot of sparkling clean windows which one can only imagine being the tip of the cleaning ice-berg mania. Naturally, there were a few windows sans sparkle and they happen to belong to Bob and I!

As the saying goes - in for a penny, in for a pound - there was nothing for it but to join this craze. After breakfast, I took out a bucket, filled it with hot soapy water and complete with chair, proceeded to our windows. Mausi quite correctly thought I was mad yet despite it all, she followed me faithfully along the window gallery. At least I had company.

Honestly, cleaning windows in Winter shouldn't be allowed. The inside of course, but cleaning the outside of it at minus 3 degrees isn't for the faint of heart. Some of our windows delightfully grace the front of the house, the front which is along the lane and to be frank, I hovered over those a bit longer in the hope someone would bear witness to my domestic diva qualities and share it at the weekly card round.

So far the sun has decided to grace other parts of the world and a Hitchcock like grey has been hovering for the last few days. In a way I am rather glad because I know from experience that as soon as the sun's rays throw their glow onto our windows, the streaks appear. Cleaning windows spotlessly isn't so easy. Perhaps I should practice more...


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Hope, Let's Not Forget It.

" Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. "

Emily Dickinson ( 1830 - 1886 )
" Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ' it will be happier '..."

Alfred Tennyson ( 1809 - 1892 )
" Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exits. Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed. "

G.K.Chesterton ( 1874 - 1936 )
" Oft hope is born when all is forlorn. "
J.R.R. Tolkien ( 1892 -1973 )
" Hope itself is like a star - not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity,
and only to be discovered in the night of adversity

Charles Haddon Spurgeon ( 1834 - 1892 )
" If it were not for hopes, the heart would break. "
Thomas Fuller ( 1608-1661 )
" Remember happiness does not depend upon who you are or what you have;
it depends solely upon what you think. So start each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for. Your future will depend very largely on the thoughts you think today. So think thoughts of hope and confidence and love and success. "

Dale Carnegie ( 1888- 1955 )
" Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803 - 1882 )
" Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. "
Samuel Smiles ( 1812 - 1904 )


Monday, 19 December 2016

Ah, For A Bit Of Humour.

Marriage and hopefully, laughter!

" The secret to a happy marriage remains a secret. "
Henry Youngman
" When a woman steals your husband, there is no better revenge than to let her keep him."
" The woman cries before the wedding, the man after. "
Polish Proverb
" A woman's mind is cleaner than a man's: She changes it more often. "
Oliver Herford
" Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him."
Groucho Marx
" I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception. "
Groucho Marx
" By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. "
" The most important four words for a successful marriage: I'll do the dishes! "


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Those Exasperating Bits Of Spinach, Toilet Paper & Co.

Ah, the complexities of social interactions.

Many years ago I was talking to a couple who had quite obviously just been to lunch. They were a couple who've had many seasons and kids together and clearly they made an impact on me.

The lady in question was making an appointment with me, and they were both standing in front of my reception desk and that was the problem. There was a great, big and not to be ignored piece of cooked spinach stuck in her teeth. Not in an acceptable molar place but front and incisor-sh. A magnet to my eyes. Should I make her aware or not; kept flitting through my mind, but that had a quagmire of other social no-nos attached to it.

Surely her husband should have seen it and told her, bluntly, that she had a green tooth, yet, because he hadn't, if I had, it would have put him in a dangerous domestic situation... Suffice to say, that even now, about eight years later I can vividly recall said situation.

Fast forward to last night, or actually yesterday afternoon. Gosh, as it gets dark before five it seems as if six o'clock is in the middle of the night. A Glühwein stand had appeared at the Eisenberg Fire station. It happened to be bitterly cold, minus 5 degrees and even though we huddled next to huge gas burners ( or some such ) had alcohol to warm us up, it was still icy cold.

Bob and I had a nice chat to a couple of villagers and eventually went home. On the way, my darling husband nonchalantly, without regret and full of laughter told me:

" I didn't know how to tell you, but your nose was dripping from the cold. "
Yikes, instant cold shivers of embarrassment made their way down my spine and a even more quick;
" Oh no, why didn't you tell me? "

Today, I have scheduled an hour of spousal signal training.

  • A nudge on the upper arm for a dripping nose.
  • A quick stroke of the beard for a stubborn piece of spinach.
  • and the old favourite, stomping on his feet under the dinner table when a domestic fable is shared.

The mind is a curious thing and now and again shows some permeable qualities. At some point in the past, I had the proverbial sheets of toilet paper stuck to my shoe while walking through a crowed shopping center. Tres embarrassing indeed, but luckily I only remembered it now and rather hazily too.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Contrary To Popular Belief, Paradise Isn't Always Hot.

Frosted blades of grass weighed down in pulchritude.

The frozen pond of Eisenberg shows off its romantic side.
A bridge in solitude providing a platform to imagination and anglers.
Just as the sun is rising, the frosted blades of grass shimmer in a multitude of brilliance, each bunch more stunning then the next.
The bridge over the Pinka river. The sun's rays were bouncing off the stone wall and gave the bridge a golden glow.
A close up of the stone wall. I wonder when it was built? Our area was part of the Roman Empire from about the first century AD, which is something I find so very interesting. Burgenland does have many layers of history.
To end off, I think this photo accurately depicts the temperature this morning. Jolly cold yet divinely beautiful.


Friday, 16 December 2016

Our Lodger Finally Pays Rent.

Winter seems to be the time to give back.

Who wouldn't like to be inside in a warm cozy house when it's freezing outside, but I have to admit that a little furry rodent isn't my idea of an ideal house guest. These fellows are mostly out of sight, but never out of mind.

Having grown up with the Tom & Jerry show, I tend to think that cats in general catch mice. No one told us that they had to be hungry cats and therein lies the problem. La Princessa is living the life of the rich and famous feline, and little does she know that her mummy is thinking of knitting her a stylish jersey. Won't that be fun to put on. Sturdy gloves needed.

Two nights ago it was full moon and a beautiful one at that. Full moon does affect me ( of course Bob might say that I'm the same all year round, which could be taken either way! ) and when I heard La Princessa running up and down inside the bedroom, clearly having fun, I thought she took after me.

Only when her mad dashes over crinkly newspaper were drowning out the sound of television, did I get up with an intention of dropping a bit of a scold or at least removing the noisy paper. The latter I did and at 2.30 am nearly jumped a foot high when a tiny mouse dropped out of it and ran for cover.

The big Mausi with a grin on her mouth ( yes, seriously cats do grin ) hot footed after her and as this tiny mouse had been chased for an hour at least, it wasn't that fast anymore. It became a pirouetted dance: Cat carrying wriggling mouse in her mouth, dropping it and then chasing it, finally putting a paw on the tail and thus stopping her.

It's not often I wake up the Bobster when he is clearly snoring away, but some domestic duties need to be shared.

" Bob, wake up. Mausi caught a mouse. Help, she's dropping it all over the house. "
Let's us just say, that he was none too pleased with me or with Mausi, but to his credit, he went to have a look. Rather a spectacle to see our treasured darling flitting all over the house with a life bait in her mouth. Good lord, at one stage she growled at us with lionesseque contralto. Oh my, what has happened to our little kitty?

Anyway, Bob, a man of action, fetched an empty bowl and started running after the two. Only on the third try did he manage to cover the mouse, although by that stage the poor thing was tres exhausted. Bob slipped a magazine under the bowl and went outside at about 3 am to release this little mouse. As I reminded him later, it might have been a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire, as we have a parade of hungry feral cats living in our yard.

La Princessa sulked for a bit but then proceeded to park herself on my stomach were she fell asleep with exhaustion. In fact she slept the whole day in order to regain her hunting strength...and thank goodness she did because just about half an hour ago, Bob rescued another little mouse. Hopefully not the same one from the night before...


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Bob Makes A Bookshelf For Us.

Drilling, measuring, hammering with the odd curses thrown into it.

The two of us come with books. Books, an indelible spirit of adventure and not much else came with us to Burgenland. Even though our house is big with many outbuildings, we had a lack of shelving.

A while ago we bought two large plastic containers, filled them full of books and stashed the whole lot in our eloquently named Summer Kitchen ...who knows, someday not to far off, Bob might drill and hammer to make it into a tiny library. A chimney is in there already, and coupled with an old leather chair, it might be the best place to devour books.

Last Saturday Bob made us go to town in order to purchase the bits and "bobs" needed to make a bookshelf. Wondering to myself if and when he would assemble them, I merely nodded along to his suggestions. When he started to measure and drill on Wednesday morning, I sat meekly on the couch, watching him and more importantly, not saying words resembling suggestions or one is wont to do as a wife!

Once or twice a choice word was dropped, but not more than other men would have done. But, he really enjoyed the work involved and the last part of it was his favourite. Bob likes method and order, the main reasons why he was in his element stacking the bookshelf with our treasures.

Bob has got the memory of an elephant and was walking from one side of our house to the other, in order to collect books by the same author. Actually, both of us are serial readers and support authors with fervour ( oh yes, Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer are vying for space on the top shelf ).

At one stage he accused me of giving one of his books to Goodwill, in the same manner that I had disposed of his tight leather pants...oh no, not the Austrian type, but the Ross Gellar- Friends type. Luckily I remembered the plastic boxes in the Summer Kitchen just in time, because honestly, I wondered if I had given some of his books away.

Anyway, I am pleased as punch with our new bookshelves and so proud that Bob put them up. Fantastic, Schatzi.

The first of two shelves made by Bob. Brilliant, I love it.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A Nice Blonde Day Will Do Wonders For The Soul.

The Bobster gets a head's up.

Years of working in a hair salon have made me wise to the fact that almost most men don't notice a freshly coiffed wife or girlfriend.

" Oh, I bet you he won't notice my new cut and colour, until he sees the credit card bill! "

Unless of course the woman in question cut her hair from long to very short, or from brown to blonde....often a last effort to be noticed at home. Sadly, from my observations, it also meant a relationship split wasn't that far off.

At times I felt like phoning the men and giving them a hint before their loved one got home. Even my own honey bunch, a.k.a. The Bobster hardly ever noticed my refreshed hairdo. Only those odd times he had to ask me something and saw me sitting there, wrapped in tinfoil and making him smile because I reminded him of his favourite genre, Sci-Fi.

Well, yesterday, finally I organized with my favourite and by the way, the best hairdresser there is, to have more blonde put in. My mother. After years of sitting in a salon while having the tresses seen to, it makes rather a welcome change to sit in the kitchen, next to the Aga stove and have the foils put in. Surprisingly, my mother can foil my whole head in about 30 minutes. Before you panic, remember that she was a hairstylist for years.

As I was sitting there with a head full of foils, looking rather like a Sputnik groupie, we heard the helicopter hovering over Deutsch Schützen. Never a nice sound as it harbingers someone's pain. It was the medical rescue helicopter. Trying to go outside to have a look, was nixed when I saw a neighbour on the street. If they saw me with a head of tinfoil, they would think I was mad, as surely they've never seen something like it. His wife has short natural brown hair.

When I got home a bit later and please bear in mind that the Bobster knew where I was going and for what reason, I stood next to him in the vestibule and smiled expectantly at him. He, looked rather confused,

" Good god, what's up with you? "

Ah, I suppose it is a compliment to my hairstylist, as it means that no outrageous change or colour mistake was made. When I asked him how he liked my new colour...he merely mumbled that it looked like always.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Things They Don't Tell You When You Get Your Kitten.

Do you think that a cat owner's manual would work?

Some cats are aloof, some cats deign you an audience and our cat is constantly by our side. Aloofness isn't part of her make-up, which is rather amazing seeing that she was a feral kitten, abandoned in a forest and once she was in the cat-system ( pound ), nobody wanted to adopt her. For about three months, this precious creature was ignored.

The universe has a plan and it had her earmarked for us. From that first tentative leap onto my lap when I drove to have a look at her, she ensnared my heart and the minute Bob saw her, he was putty in her paws.

At the drop of a hat, she leaps onto my lap. Her favourite is when I talk on the phone, which makes her determined to get me off it. Be it on a landline or mobile. If I happen to look out a window, she jumps on the sill and joins me.

By now you might put on your mittens to collect your own little kitten, but let me warn you about sleeping arrangements. It took our cat three weeks to wrangle her way onto our bed. Now, she is as standard as the pillows and duvets. She has her own corner of the bed and it always is between my ankles.

Cute, you say? Well, turning onto my side proves jolly difficult as there is this warm cat which I'd hate to squash. She is of course clever as can be and if she senses my intent to turn, she at times jumps out of the way, waits a bit and then snuggles up again.

They say that cat's sleep with one eye open, but I beg to owners do too. Our house being an old farmhouse, it has its own noisy creaks in the middle of the night and our cat jumps off to have a look. When she comes back to bed, she usually jumps up next to my pillow, puts her nose close to my face to see whether I'm awake and then meanders down to the end of the bed.

Bob was more clever than me and the first time she slept on his side of the bed, he ( obviously not on purpose ) kicked her off in his sleep and she won't risk it again. Mummy's more obliging and stays awake to ensure the princess's sleep...

Oh, psst, don't tell Apple, but our cat's not a fan of theirs: this morning she jumped up in front of my iPad and with her nose and paws pushed it away from me. Far enough so that she could lie down in all her length for a cuddle. Really.

Isn't she just too gorgeous?
She would look great on December's page of Cat Calendar...


Monday, 12 December 2016

The Lure Of Sunday's Couch Proves Irresistible.

A couch per person should be the norm.

The older I get the more enthusiastic certain ideas, those that in the past were only enjoyed by the older generation, are being adopted by me. In fact, the more the better.

Is there anything more heavenly than the woozy feeling of sleep about to descend whilst watching something on the telly, reclining luxuriously and lazily on a couch?

Ironically the more noise there is, the easier it seems to enter the la-la land of make believe, dreams and possibilities. A place where my soul gets recharged, or rather charged with taking life a bit more easily. Sometimes this sleep doesn't even reach a full hour but it is a sleep that couldn't be more thorough.

Falling asleep on the couch is also a sign of feeling comfortable in a relationship. Let's be honest, hardly anyone falls asleep as gracefully as they do in the movies. Oh no, in the contraire; mouth agape, snores galore and the odd trail of drool down the side of one's mouth are how us ordinary folks snooze the time away on the couch.

You know, the only way we know about the rather inelegant way of sleeping, is by watching others and the odd (!) times we wake ourselves up through an extremely loud snore. That one, where we pretend to still be asleep for a while in order to suss out if anyone has noticed!

Thinking back, I sort of tried not to fall asleep on a couch for at least a few months into our relationship, just in case the Bobster would have done a runner...

This time of the year lends itself perfectly for an hour's worth of couch sleep. Looking outside and seeing the icy blue of a winter's sky coupled with the odd falling snow flake, makes the couch about the only place to be on a Sunday afternoon. I can't believe it took me so long to find out about it...after all, growing up I'd seen my grandparents and parents occupy couches.


Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Walk Along The Border Of Hungary.

Freezing cold,yet oh so enjoyable.

When the skies are blue and the sun is awake, it is at very deceptive. Cold as blazes only to be noticed once the gloves are taken off. Taking more than a few photos at a time is impossible as the finger tips become numb.
This isn't snow, but the icy water of our local pond.
Dipping a toe into those waters might be a tad bit uncomfortable. The stream about a hundred meters from the Hungarian border.
One of the many hunter's perches around our area. The Hungarian side of the Eisenberg mountain behind it.
A most wonderful spot to enjoy life, nature and to meditate.
Some four legged neighbours. Aren't they beautiful and of course inquisitive?
Another bit of the local pond. A place to ponder on the abundance of life.


Saturday, 10 December 2016

How Soon We Do Forget.

Water, water oh you lovely water...

Driving out of our gate and turning towards the main road, I saw a commotion up ahead at Herbert's house. Well, a tractor, a car and a few men standing about chatting. As our chariot still loves to squeak a tune, I drove especially slowly in order to keep the squeak to a minimum.

And it would have worked if one of the men didn't flag me down to a stop.

" You definitely don't need your hooter, do you? "
Gosh, trying to bridge my embarrassment, I nodded nonchalantly . He then proceeded to inform me ( he is our village's head honcho regarding any water affairs ) that he'd have to switch off the water in our lane, as the pipe was spewing a leak and he didn't want it to extend.

When I asked him when and for how long, it turned out that I could negotiate the times a little bit and he promised to only switch it off at 9 p.m. and to turn it back on at 7 a.m.

" Don't worry, you'll still be able to do your walk in the morning! "

I drove off and even though I knew that in our neck of the woods, a promise is a promise, I had a flashback to phoning the water department back in Pietermaritzburg ( S.A. ) after the water refused to exit any taps and being told that it would be back on at 11 a.m...a few days later of course!

Isn't it funny how a forewarning of having no water for a night can throw one into a panic? How would I shower in the morning should he forget to switch it back on? Well, I did save water in a bucket and a cold wash hasn't hurt anyone yet.

When I thought about the lavatory situation, Bob told me that there was always the long drop next to our garage. In this freezing weather there wouldn't be any lingering in order to read...and just in case you wonder, we didn't use the long drop!

Perfume was out of the question, as I don't own any. Back in the day, wasn't perfume invented to cover the aroma brought forth by a lack of water, and aptly named Eau De Toilette ? It does make one wonder at the prolific use of perfumes nowadays...

As much as I joke about it, I appreciate the ability to turn on a tap, flush a loo or have a shower as it is a privilege and luxury, which sadly isn't a given in today's age.


Friday, 9 December 2016

No Code To Computer Games.

The language of modern gaming leaves a lot to be desired.

A whole plethora of violent video games has been, and is being played by teenagers the world over. Best sellers it seems and I find that rather sad. There are much nicer things to fill a young and fertile mind with. Blood, guts, gore and bad language isn't one of them.

If you listen to school kids talking among themselves, you'd be surprised at the swear words they've included in their conversation. Some might have been gleaned from parental sources but most have come from games.

In our neck of the woods, the teens are just like any other and have got a library full of video games. Whereas ordinary English vocabulary seems hard to remember, choice swear words tend to literally fall out of them. Often I wonder if they actually know what it means, as these words are in English.

It puzzled me for a while trying to align the individual parents with their offspring's bad swear words until I realized that the main source came from adult computer games.

What makes an education? Nowadays, parents try so hard to provide the best for their children, yet, the most important part of it seems pushed into the background.

More than knowledge ( unless you are a genius of your field ) what impresses most are manners, diction and deportment in social situations. Especially for girls. Like it or not, men can get away with more bad language but on the other hand, I wouldn't like to have an arsenal of bad words at my disposal. Of course I have heard them and know them, but I choose not to use them.

You don't need to tell me that I am very old fashioned, although the argument that choice language is used and almost part of normal conversation by most, doesn't convince me. Remember that old parental stricture:

" Just because everyone else does it, doesn't mean you have to do it. "

In the decades to come, the main advantage to be had ( mere education won't distinguish from other job applicants ) is social dexterity...not what you say, but how you say it.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

Bob Surprises Me Yet Again.

And with Leo, the hits keep on coming...

Straight away some of you might think that I was the recipient of a bunch of roses, a bar of chocolate, a candle lit dinner or even a spotless house but alas, it wasn't so.

The two of us were gracing the family chariot with our presence and for a change the radio won over Bob's treasured alternative music CD. Isn't it funny how even though I don't like alternative music, I can almost sing along. I did mention it was one CD? It is no secret that I am more of a Sinatra fan and our tastes in music tend to go their separate ways, but opposites attract and so forth, although at times our tastes in music does tend to leave both of us a tad bit speechless.

It happened as we passed the Grosspetersdorf sign ( oh yes, it was so memorable that I won't forget! ) that the opening bars of a Leo Sayer's ballad struck up. Naturally, I knew all the words, intonations and sang expertly and loudly along, but the real surprise was my husband, he who has an affinity for The Strokes suddenly singing along to Leo word and pitch perfect.

" Oh, oh, oh, yeah, yeah. I love you more than I can say..."

A real eye opener for me to see that he wasn't just merely singing, gosh no, he could have won any Karaoke competition and if it hadn't been for driving, he might have broken out in some form of dance routine too. Oh yes, standing ovation stuff, or hiding below the dashboard stuff...

After having recovered from seeing a few other surprised faces in the passing cars ( village speed limit having applied ), who might have mistaken us for a modern version of Wayne's World , I turned to Bob and only needed to raise my left eyebrow for him to spill his gut...

" I only know this song because Brett made a tape when we were kids and played it all day long. He liked Leo Sayer, not me. "
Aha, the famous blame it on your brother excuse.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Our Frozen Paradise.

A rather chilly affair.

To be honest, it did take me a whole lot of inner dialogue to step outside yesterday morning, but it was worth the constant chill.
The phrase: " Frozen in time " comes to mind.
Everything has an icy border and reminds me of the old-fashioned doilies that were crocheted. Very nice.
Walking along the upper forest lane, one awesome image after the next presented itself to me. Unfortunately, I could only take so many photos at a time because my fingers froze almost before I could put the camera away and my gloves back on...
Along the path there were a lot of frozen spider webs, which couldn't be very nice for the spiders. Doesn't this remind you of that childhood game we all used to play? The one where we would hold a string between both hands while making various creations.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

When Did This Culinary Laziness Creep In?

The joys of bread.

You know last Monday, the day after a Sunday spent grazing almost every morsel in our larder, something made me stop at our local Eisenberg shop and pick up a loaf of rye bread. Yum, it was freshly made and I knew we had butter galore. Anyway, I came home just before lunch and Bob had gotten home a few minutes before me.

As they say, great minds think alike and he too, had picked up a whole loaf of bread at the Deutsch Schützen shop. So, there we were, with two humongous loaves of bread. Almost biblical when you consider that each weighs about 1kg. Never mind the cost...a total of about 8 euros. Crazy.

Anyway, as we don't own a freezer and also didn't want to waste so terribly, ( who are we kidding? we both don't like stale bread! ) we decided to drop one loaf off at my folks as they have a huge freezer. Even that was rather funny...I had a late lesson and when I got to my parents house, the door was locked and knocking didn't help either.

Okay, they might have gone to bed early and so I left the loaf between the two doors and it having been cold outside, it wouldn't have mattered if they had only discovered it in the morning.

Mum phoned a bit later and knowing it was her, I answered the phone:

" Hello, this is the bread fairy's house. "
which floored her, as she had thought a friend had dropped a loaf off for them and they had already had some. Honestly, I was happy that the bread was being eaten.

Fast forward to this Monday, where we decided to make a loaf of bread and like good country dwellers, we had flour, yeast and everything needed. Bob, was deputized as the bread maker and honestly, his bread always taste divine, which he proved by making a most stunning creation with mere flour, water, yeast and precision.

It sounds complicated and full of culinary hurdles to make your own bread, but that is such a misconception. The hardest bit about baking is the hour. But no, I lie, the really hard bit is the self control needed in order not to rip and tear into it like a pack of hungry wolves, the minute it emerges from the hot oven!


Monday, 5 December 2016

Is Reading For Pleasure The Secret To Achievement?

Are some parents barking up the wrong tree...

Reading for pleasure is often seen as old fashioned and not important to cruise along this highway called life. At times, Bob likens me to a stubborn mule and he isn't wrong either. I try with all my might to get the teenagers I meet, to start reading for pleasure.

As a card carrying member of Reading Addicts, the idea of having to nudge, plead with or bribe someone to actually do what I've been longing to do full time all my life, seems preposterous.

Parents are doing their utmost to better their children's lives and there is nothing wrong with that. The competition to get into the right school, university and career is fierce, to put it mildly. When I mentioned to some teens and parents the need to read, I get a version of:

" The kids have no time to read. School comes first. "
Fair enough, but, and this is my own opinion, pupils and students who read for pleasure, will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. They will have what it takes to make it in this modern world...Imagination, empathy and the ability to converse.

Reading for pleasure, is vital for so many aspects of our life. It keeps us out of mischief, it makes us happy, it shows us a different world, it let's us use our imagination and it is the best way to spend time.

With Christmas coming up, please give your child a book, or even a membership of your local library. Just like runners need to have the running shoes before they can set off, so do readers need books to set off on this magical journey that with luck will last their whole life.

Here are a few statistics from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation.

  • 43% of adults with the lowest level of literacy live in poverty, compared with only 4% of those with the highest literacy skill levels.
  • Having books in the home results in children reading more often and for longer lengths of time.
  • Children or teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading and writing tests than infrequent or non-readers.


Sunday, 4 December 2016

" That Stupid Pig Woke Me Up Far Too Early. "

A Saturday morning with a difference.

Extra English lessons on a Saturday morning aren't really the thing with teenagers, and who can blame them. For a morning person like me, half past nine is just on the near side of lunch, but out of politeness I inquired if she had had a good night's sleep and was ready to learn.

" That stupid pig woke me up too early! "
and just like that I was in the middle of a social dilemma. Her mum had just come into the room and she was looking at her as she made this outrageous statement. She is a nice and normal teenager and apart from the odd missing please & thank you nothing that could have predicted this outburst.

My face must have spoken volumes, because before I could find my voice again, and mentally thinking that my mum would have been on the extreme side of irate if I had spoken of her like that, she burst out laughing and said:

" No really, Biggi, a pig woke me up. My grandfather's pig is being slaughtered today and it had got away from them and squealed like mad outside my window. "

Whew, what a relief, although perhaps not for the pig. At first I pictured the scene and felt bad for the pig, but as I eat meat it seemed a bit hypocritical and this is the best way to procure a schnitzel etc. Once you have to slaughter your own pig in order to get your bit of ham, sausage or bacon on your plate, you'll start to appreciate and value it more. More importantly, waste it less...

That whole morning I thought about this sad and rather sudden end to a pig's life and even considered becoming a vegetarian. It's not often that we are confronted with the mental image of what the first step in the meat production process is. The window dressed, and beautified pieces of pork on the supermarket shelves, make us forget that an actual pig had to give up its life for us. Raising them in a big pig sty, with enough of a paddock for a reasonably happy roaming life, is an honest, good and actually the best way.

In fact, it should be the only way if one lives in the country and has the space for it. We'd eat less meat and would get rid of those atrocious pig factories. Bob and I have enough space, but would we have the nerves needed to kill a pig? Somehow I don't think so and our barn and surrounding garden might become many a pig's sanctuary...


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Oh, How Fabulous It Is To Live In Burgenland.

A world without tragic.

" Doctors say that a glass of wine can extend your life. If that's the case, consider me immortal. "
" True wisdom is knowing when to give up and have glass of wine. "
" Did you know that wine doesn't make you fat?
It makes you lean...Against tables, chairs, walls and ugly people. "
" I can't wait for the day that I drink wine with my kids,
instead of because of them. "
" Wine! Because no great story started by someone eating a salad."
" Oh look, it's Wine O' Clock."
" Drink wine: it isn't good to keep things bottled up. "
" The answer may not lie at the bottom of a bottle of wine. But you should at least check. "
" Unlike milk, it's okay to cry over spilled wine. "
" Sometimes I take baths, because it's hard to drink wine in the shower. "
" Wine a bit, you'll feel better. "


Friday, 2 December 2016

If You Have To Shop, Shop With Thought.

The things we buy create jobs, where is up to us.

Jobs, jobs and jobs are on everyone's lips these days. The lack of them. But how about paying lip-service to what we say and complain about?

These last two weeks the Bobster and I have twice ordered from an Internet giant and the only mitigating factor for my guilt is that English books are difficult if not impossible to find in Oberwart. Why should I feel guilty you might ask? Well, every time we shop online, we don't support our local community, city or country.

A lot of what is bought online can be bought off line too. In your local shops, those shops that provide the much needed work opportunities in any community. And yet, how many of us merely swipe a finger and wait for the delivery?

Online is here to stay, but at least we shouldn't forget the backbone of any community, town or city. Let's at least spend some of our money there and perhaps even go one step further and buy products made locally or even nationally. Not because of some nefarious political plot, but because buying locally produced products ensures that someone else has a job. A job to support a family, a job to have money to spend...

By the way, when you buy locally produced items, you know that there won't be any poisonous chemicals in them. Those cheap shoes / clothes we are all so fond of, are next to our skin and skin absorbs...

In this modern world that we've invented, created and are so proud of, sadly every worker has to and will have to compete for his job not with another worker, but with a machine, robot or computer. By shopping with thought, we can at least hold on to some jobs, traditions and comfort.

Applaud technology all you want, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we've gone too far and have started to pull the economical support rug out from under us.

You decide, and please, when you shop this Christmas, shop with care and thought...


Thursday, 1 December 2016

An Advent-ful Competition Ensues.

Marriage, a rather fertile ground for competition.

Some might of course compete on Olympic levels, but in our marriage it's more a case of:

" Good god, you had two rows of this chocolate! Now, I am going to have three rows! "

Isn't it written in stone that it's always the small stuff that matters?

Dear Chocolate manufacturers, please can you invent a type of packaging that doesn't make a noise when opening it. There are ears everywhere...

There are certain sounds and movements in any relationship which penetrate the subconscious with ease; the crackling sound of chocolates being uncovered and the attempt to steal the remote control from a slumbering spouse's clutches.

About a week ago a friend gave me a present, which turned out to be an advent calendar. Not just an ordinary one, but a Lindt one which translates to the most tasty of chocolates. There is only one tiny bit of a problem...she only gave me one calendar. It wouldn't have been a problem at all if I hadn't opened the wrapped present in front of Bob. The minute he glimpsed the first perforated square window, all niceties were off and the competition had started.

It took me all my might to persuade him to at least wait until today to start the fight of who gets to open which ( or eh, all ) little squares.

At one stage he was transported back to his childhood and the joy of opening an advent calendar, but like any seasoned sibling, he'd learned to hide it from his older brother. Older brothers seem to have been born with the useful knowledge of how to eat all the chocolates without opening any of the squares...and then passing it off as a manufacture's fault.

Anyway, the two of us have made a healthy decision to be grown up about it and Bob will open all the odd numbers and I, the even ones...that is, unless he's already had a head start and found the opening on the back?

Marriage, never dull and always fun.


Tomorrow is my turn...