Friday, 30 September 2016

Yet Another Funny Blonde Moment.

And there I thought that my grey streaks would temper blonde incidents...

My dad has very kindly sent me his digital camera because he had noticed that mine had those inexplicable spots hovering over the lens. He posted it from New York on Monday and on Thursday afternoon our postman brought my treasure to me.

I unpacked it, did a few inside shots of my dozing cat and a couple of hours later went to visit one of our neighbours. ( The delightful elderly spinster who has great fun and joy with her neighbour's two new kittens. ) She was in her garden replanting potted flowers into several flower pots to be taken to grace her family's grave. Can you believe that she replanted seventy-two potted flowers altogether?

She carried on filling these pots while I sat next to her on a tree stump and we chatted about this that and yet another funeral. When I asked her where the cute cats were, she dropped her voice and said that often they come over to follow her every step but that she had learnt to outfox them at midday.

Noon is her time to go inside and make lunch, but now this former leisurely walk has morphed into a dash and a sprint to outrun her feline entourage. Apparently they even scratch and meow outside her closed front door. Despite telling me about this noon dash with a sort of
' Gosh, can you believe what I have to put up with ' intonation, she has clearly fallen hook line and sinker for those two feline rascals and they have rejuvenated her life.

After a good hour or so, I started my homeward journey but noticed the most beautiful coloured shrubs further on in her garden. In a flash I had my new camera out and snapped away. She was quite chuffed and showed me the various points of beauty. So far, the cats had not made an appearance and as we neared the front of her garden, she stopped and wouldn't go turns out that her voice and step attracts the little kittens and she did want to go inside.

Too late, suddenly a most stunningly patterned little ball of mischief rounded the corner and made a beeline for her. Of course she cooed over it and was thrilled when I pulled out the camera yet again. This kitten posed like a pro and could quite easily grace the cover of Cat Monthly.

Eventually I made my way home. Having used this camera for the first time, I couldn't wait to upload the photos onto my computer. After having cuddled Mausi for a few minutes and having greeted Bob ( eh, in that order too ), I settled down in front of the computer, opened the little slot on the camera in order to take the chip out when...I stared into a blank space! Yes, yours truly has taken at least thirty photos without a chip in the camera.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Typical Night's Sleep Of A Cat Lover.

Eh, what sleep?

The term cat lover says it all. Once you've brought home your little furry bundle from the pound, all rules and regulations applied to any other member of the household ( ie husband ) are out the window. Tout de suite. It's those cute little and extremely expressive pair of cat eyes that melt your heart.

Cats are elusive, exclusive, aloof, moody and dish out their own brand of love often favouring one over the other. Truthfully, our Mausi is my shadow and I do get more cuddling time than Bob does. Yet, on Monday I happened to be out all day and when I got home, Mausi gave me the silent treatment for at least 12 hours. Yes, seriously and to add to my guilt, she made a point of cuddling up to Bob while looking at me. Almost as if to say; ' Next time you leave me alone, I'll become daddy's shadow! '

Last night, when I couldn't sleep, I got up and migrated to the couch in our lounge. Comfortable but rather narrow. While almost dozing off in front of the TV, ensconced in my duvet, I heard the jump before I felt it. Cunningly, she awaited my entry into slumber ( maybe I do snore after all? ) before jumping onto my chest. At about 4 kg, she can be a tad bit heavy.

At one stage she was a bit to close to my face and I tried to nudge her towards my stomach. Cats move and twist to get comfortable and if she is to high up on my chest, I stand a good chance of getting her behind rather close to my face. I have learnt this from personal experience!

When I tried to move her gently, she just held up her little face and directed those soulful eyes at me. Goodness me, I didn't have the heart to disturb or upset her. Mausi had the run of the bed so to speak because I didn't dare do anything to upset or upend her. At one point I wanted to turn onto my side but literally lay there for a few minutes trying to decide how to do that without waking her, while at the same time giving myself a pep talk with the words ' Goodness, she's only a cat ' in it.

Believe me, her four kilograms felt more like forty when I finally plucked up the courage to move her but she changed her position and adopted a pose that was too cute for words and eh, too cute to disturb. Her little head was resting between her paws, and she sighed with contentment.

The moral of this tale...if you adopt a cat, be prepared for sleepless nights coupled with days full of joy, fun and love received from this little cat.


A cutie, isn't she?

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A Suedburgenland Winemaker Embraces Crowdfunding.

Uwe Schiefer, a rare and passionate combination of excellent winemaker and great businessman.

That old adage of: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. is true indeed. The last few years have brought forth disastrous weather conditions. Hail and frost, nature's henchmen and assassins for vines.

Winemakers love wine. Love the process and love the challenge of making great vintages. Walking as I do all year round, I often see them meandering about in their vineyards, inspecting, cajoling, imbibing and hoping for a great harvest. The few times that nature's henchmen drop by, it hits them hard. Vines and their grapes are not just a business to them, but a part of them.

Uwe Schiefer started off small sixteen years ago and has expanded ever since. His wines are sold locally and he also exports to various countries around the world. He didn't grow up on a wine estate but went to Hotel school and worked himself up to head Sommelier in one of Vienna's top restaurants.

He loves wine but wanted more then just to drink it, he yearned to make wine with his own individual nuances in each vintage, bottle and sip. He decided to enroll at the wine academy in Rust and afterwards started his vineyard with guts, determination and his passionate love of wines.

Eisenberg, our area, has a great combination of natural minerals and clay in the ground ( even the Romans made wine here ) which translates wonderfully into the various vintages. Ironically, those of us who have the privilege to live here forget how good the wines of our area are as opposed to those who've never had a chance to even taste a sip of them. Well, here is your chance. By the way, the short video clip gives you a glimpse of our beautiful wine growing region.

Crowdfunding Uwe Schiefer

Crowdfunding. Uwe has set up a crowdfunding account. On his side it helps him over the obvious business hurdles caused by the henchmen and on your side ( when you purchase a lot ) you will get a chance to drink his awesome wines. Delivered to your door. Easy, isn't it?

The various winemakers in our area not only make great wine, but also provide much needed local employment. So, imagine how great you'll feel when you sip Uwe's wine, knowing your help with crowdfunding might save someone's job.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Age Of Tannies And Ooms.

A sobering state of affairs.

South Africa has many official languages including Afrikaans. Yes, it is one of its official languages, mostly unknown in the rest of the world except perhaps in London. Quite a few South Africans try and do a gap year in London, sandwiched between the end of school and beginning of university.

Afrikaans has many aspects of respect in it and the main one being:

If you talk to somebody who ( appears ) is at least 10 years your senior, you address them as either Tannie ( aunt ) or Oom ( uncle )

A friend of mine, who was in his early 30's at the time met a pretty student and tried to chat her up. Suffice it to say that while he was expecting her phone number, he merely got a one liner with the word Oom at the end of it...

Even the acclimatized German spoken in South Africa has adopted this custom. Oh yes, there is a big German community in South Africa ( many German settlers arrived in the 19th century ) and when you have to juggle at least three languages ( English, Afrikaans & German ) in your daily life, you are forgiven the odd adapted phrase or custom.

It was rather fun to see the reaction of Germany tourists being addressed as Tante or Onkel during conversation or just while being helped with directions. Germans are sticklers for social etiquette and at times it takes years before one is allowed to use the first name of a person. Yes, silly, isn't it? Much easier with the English language and its universal you.

The German version of Oom & Tannie is the polite Sie, which is used in conversation with people who appear much older than you.

Yesterday I was having a long chat with a girl in her early twenties and honestly, in my mind I didn't feel that much older, yet I did almost stumble when she addressed me with Sie. It's the small things which make a big difference and when Tannie, Oom or Sie is used on you for the first time, you realize just how much!


Monday, 26 September 2016

We Serve Good Food In Our Shed.

The word has spread like wildfire.

For years we've been feeding our feral cat Tigger a square meal per day. Winter or summer. A while ago Bob even dug a path from her lair to the feeding bowl during a particular arduous winter, one that was blessed with mountains of snow.

Since the arrival of our little Mausi, she who rules the house with an iron paw constantly wrapped around the both of us, Tigger apart from feeding, spends her days and nights watching Mausi. Rather entertaining and cute. We usually feed our almost tame feral cat about 5 o'clock and as soon as the heat of the day has given way to a four o'clock breeze, she is within striking distance of her food bowl.

The last few days I've notice a couple of extra cats lingering in the yard, in a sort of holding pattern. Eating in relays seems apt. A ginger tabby that I don't know and Checkov from down the road. Not that they look hungry but keen nonetheless. The haute cuisine we practice has been whispered around the neighbourhood alleys.

Normally I go and feed Tigger and did tell Bob about the two extra customers in our cat-diner. Do you know, sometimes I wonder whether Bob just nods along to whatever I tell him. In the one ear out of the other ear unless it has the words: Bob / can you do in it.

Why you might Bob went to feed our feral cat and all I heard was his stern voice:

" No, you can't eat here. This is Tigger's food. "
followed by him calling me outside to tell me about the ginger cat already lying in wait. It takes about two minutes to put the food in the bowl but today Bob was outside for at least 15 min. He was standing guard in case our Tigger would be chased from the food bowl.

Yes, Bob is the kindest and he might even put out an extra table setting outside....yes dear cats of the neighbourhood, the buffet is open. Come and place your orders...


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Bob Joins The Family Firm.

While I get to re-calibrate my safety zone.

There are only so many occasions during the day, or rather week, that our little cat turns into a ferocious tiger. Muscles quivering while doing her own brand of in-room-skating. In other words running circles with proverbial froth if not glee hanging from her mouth.

At exactly a quarter past eight last night those symptoms erupted and the only reason I am so precise with my timing is that it was the start of a murder mystery on TV. Gosh darn it, if I were to miss the murder, I might as well have called it a night and gone to bed. Only one alternative. The Bobster was playing on his computer, that is until I made him aware of the tiger in our bedroom. Eh no, not me.

Succinctly and with one eye on the plot, I told him the facts and how to sort it out. Our cat had a mouse in her sights not to mention her paws.

It wasn't so much out of kindness ( although Bob is very kind ) but out of a desire to also catch a mouse with his bare hands like I did on Monday. Well not bare hands, but with two hands and a bowl. Off he went into the bedroom and shut the door behind him. All I heard as he went in;

" Honey, let's catch this mouse. "
Honestly, the plot on the telly paled in comparison with the sounds and noises coming out of our bedroom. I couldn't resist and forsaking my movie, headed for our Mouse Gladiator's Colosseum. High pitched screams ( either from Bob or the frightened mouse ) and our cat thumping about all over the wooden floor.

As I opened the door, I saw a sight that I wished I hadn't. Bob was standing next to the window, holding the bowl over the top of the curtain. He could barely reach it with his outstretched hands, so you know how high that was....

" What on earth are you doing? "
" Quick come here and help me. The mouse has climbed to the top of the curtain just below the rail. "
Being a good wife, I helped him yet mind mind was recounting the many nights that I deemed myself out of rodent reach, being a foot off the ground. Well, that safe harbour has gone for good!

My only feeling of comfort is our precious cat who is doing such a sterling job at keeping the mice away from mummy. As Bob caught the mouse last night, he carried it across the road and released it into the wilds of Eisenberg. My dear neighbours, don't fret, the mouse wasn't released anywhere near you homes.

When he got back, he fetched a cat treat ( a long thin salami type of treat ) and gave it to our cat while praising her effusively...I dare you to try and find a dull moment among our delightfully fun rural life.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

It Doesn't Always Have To Be Pristine.

A different side to life.

A mere glimpse back made me stumble over a slice of old world charm, coupled with beauty, authenticity and humbleness.

Most of the little Burgenland villages have homes that are perfectly kept with the owners having sleepless nights over a chip in the wall, never mind a crack in it. Lawns and gardens are kept pristine and somehow rather uniform.

Bob and I are enthusiastic supporters of the Keep it authentically real movement also known as the club of those whose house has wrinkles and lines that tell its story. A house with character. Not many of us about. Not many have the guts to go against trend and norm. Alright, to be truthful, we'd rather read a book then fill in cracks. Yes, we are a bit lazy.

Driving home from an English lesson in a neighbouring Hungarian village, made me pause in awe. Yes, the roads are blessed with potholes, the houses do have cracks and aren't freshly painted but, there was such charm and beauty in this road, that it made me stop and admire. A few roses in a front garden gave it even more depth and grace.

Not that long ago, Hungary was part of the Eastern bloc and we can still see where the Iron Curtain ran alongside the beautiful Pinka river. Some of the old guard towers are thankfully slowly rotting away. Life back then was hard and surviving was the name of the game.

Maybe I am wrong, but I tend to imagine that any money one earned was spent from the inside out; food, clothing, schooling, furniture, garden and finally if possible the house.

As wonderful as it is to have a house, we mustn't forget to enjoy it and have fun in it. Let it develop character while we are busy living life.

Society is so fond of perfection - be it in women who spend a fortune to look emotionless and like peas in a pod or homes that have to outdo the neighbour's one - that we have slightly lost the plot...real beauty develops through living life and not hiding any wrinkles earned.


Friday, 23 September 2016

Are We Women Nurturers Or Do We Just Have A Healthy Dose Of Common Sense?

Bob's adventurous day out.

Before I had even met Bob, I read an interesting relationship advice:

" You are not his mother, but his wife / girlfriend. Stop mothering him. "
and I've tried sticking to it as much as possible...yet, it's not always that easy!

Take today, a beautiful autumn's day complete with a very cold morning breeze and possible evening breeze too. Bob's off for the day to help harvest grapes somewhere in the Neusiedl See region. Lucky fish indeed, as it is a spectacular bit of Burgenland. Sort of like Cape Town is to the rest of South Africa.

He will be gone all day, and because he has the gift of being in the moment he wouldn't consider taking a lunchbox along. He'd eaten breakfast and wasn't hungry anymore. Whereas I think ahead to at least the next three meals and what, how and where I will eat them, he didn't give a thought to lunch or any other meals. I was imagining him in the vineyards bereft of food all day.

" Stop stressing. I am NOT taking any sandwiches because they properly will give us lunch. "
But what if they don't? Suffice to say that both of us turned a tad bit stubborn, with me pressing a bunch of bananas ( easy to bring back if not eaten ) on him and he repeating that they will give him food.

A Burgenland standoff almost ensued, but eventually Bob took the bananas, and with a huge sigh of irritation ( yikes, mothering again ) the tube of sunblock that I held out in front of him.

Was I being wifely or was I being motherly? Somehow I lean towards the latter. Does it happen to other wives too, this constant muttering of one liners:

" Did you lock the car? "
" Did you put on your warm socks / underpants / beanie etc? "
" Have you fed the cat / dog / kids? "

On the bright side, it does show that we love our spouses...but what would happen if we stepped out of the (s)mothering role for a few weeks? Gosh, our men might surprise us and be fine, if not better without our daily nagging reminders.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that this is one of nature's chicken and or the egg affairs.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Some Call It Winter, Some Call It Hibernating.

Is there anything better than hibernating the days away?

The other day I had the pleasure of sharing a table with a new crop of villagers. Yes, new recruits to the fabulous and delightful life in a village, or should I rather say, our village.

They have relocated from one of the most beautiful cities, Vienna, to one of the most beautiful villages, Deutsch Schützen. Rather a lot of couples choose to spend their retirement years in a less hectic environment some because they were born here and some because they want to slow down their lifestyle and find the time to actually enjoy their life after working hard for most of it.

Oh, I know that moving here from Vienna is a bit of a culture shock. We haven't got museums, hordes of people nor any traffic lights. What we do have is undulated hills, vineyards, forests, stunning scenery and the most wonderful bunch of people. Friendly people, who mostly aren't afflicted with the big city syndrome of having to do, see and have everything.

Both of the couples I met, still had the Viennese shine to them: dressed in a certain way with big city flair and expensive togs. Soon, they will dress more for comfort than show. Naturally, some do take dressing for comfort to the extreme and go to the local shop with sweats ( tricky to know whether they were used as leisure or sleep wear ) and bed know, the unbrushed, just out of bed look.

One of the nice traits of small village life is that ( mostly ) we aren't judged by what we wear.

They were discussing the upcoming Winter season and their plans for it. Goodness me, they weren't sure if they could last the whole time here and have planned escape hatches. A flat in Vienna. Fair enough, but I think that a summer filled with the delights of village living will have changed their outlook quite a bit. Let's wait and see...

This cold season ahead of us is lovely. Cold yes, but also a time to hibernate over a nice book while enjoying the warmth from a fireplace, a time to relax and reflect. Our Winters are't as harsh as elsewhere and lend themselves beautifully for long walks among the vineyards or day trips to the numerous Spas around us.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Being At High School Is A Full Time Job Indeed.

Who has a longer workday...students or adults?

School term has started and the first week's shine has worn off. Admiring new text books and pristine exercise books only last for so long after all. Gosh, there are a lot of text books and with the dearth of lockers at school, one can almost see a generation with back problems ahead.

Have you ever picked up a modern scholar's school bag? Yikes, a mountain climber's backpack weighs less.

Yesterday was my ' term start ' and I did feel a bit sorry for my charge. Homework, and plenty of it seems the order of each day. Going through it together ( and no, I never do it for them but rather help them figure it out ) took almost an hour. Sneakily, the last bit of the worksheet was an essay of about 100-150 words and if it weren't for the frequent pauses to do a word count, his writing hand would have cramped up.

Writing 100-150 words on a topic seems easy, but remember it is in a foreign language and it takes time to find stuff to write about, even if there is a topic.

If it were only English homework, that would be doable, but alas, I saw the set of Biology, German and Maths books lying about. My hour was up, but the young man still had many more ahead of him.

Of course some kids will get through their homework assignments with ease and speed but there are many others who will battle endlessly over it. The Finnish way of not having homework, seems a great example. Imagine a kid coming home from school ( usually after having spent 6-7 hours there ) and instead of having homework assignments, being able to just be? Reading a book, playing outside or visiting friends.

Article in the Smithsonian

As much as I disagree with the prolific use of Smartphones, it is a reality that almost all teenagers do have them. On them and on all the time. Unless a phone gets taken away by parents, it gets answered, stared at and used. So, you can imagine how long each afternoon tends to stretch in regard to homework. Endless.

The kids of today are under so much pressure. Pressure to do well, pressure to fit in, pressure to look good and pressure to measure up to their parent's expectations. Happiness gets pushed to the end of the line, and as a society, wouldn't it be better to have happy kids rather than overworked and burnt out ones?


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Seat At The Table Completes Our Cat's Exciting Afternoon Adventure.

Who says that cats aren't human?

It had gone on four in the afternoon when I came home, knowing I had about ten minutes before one of my extra lesson charges would arrive. First time as he has just entered the hallowed and often scary grounds of high school.

As per usual, Mausi greeted my return with happy meows and numerous figure of eight circles. I love that, by the way. On my way to wash my hands, I heard her play with one of her toys, the squeaky kind. High pitched and rather irritating.

Thinking it would disturb my lesson, I went to take it from her but to my surprise and not inconsiderable dismay, she was standing away from the toy and the squeaking continued. Yikes. A real mouse affair. Double yikes that Bob was at work, which meant that I had to step up to the plate...

Normally I'd have left the dealing of mouse business for Bob ( a manly job, don't you think? ) but a young guy was coming around for his English lesson and that left me about ten minutes to sort it out. By the sounds coming from our bedroom, our Mausi was having the time of her life chasing a small little mouse around.

Somehow I had visions of either a mouse running around under our feet while we'd be learning English or, even worse, our cat proudly doing a Godfather imitation and dropping a headless mouse in front of us. Good lord, that would cause a stir in our village.

I got a bowl, and after several attempts finally plonked it on top of the mouse. Sliding a newspaper underneath it, I managed to give this frightened little thing another go at life outside our house. Across the road, just in case it wanted to come back into the horror chamber.

Even though I wanted to say " Yeew and eeeh " I made sure to praise our cat, as this was the very reason she came into our home. The catching of mice. Remember that we live on the edge of a corn field and as soon as they harvest, the mice look for a new adventure with us.

Luckily I had saved a potentially embarrassing mouse situation and when the little chap arrived, we sat at our kitchen table, and started the conjugation of To Be. A few minutes later, our lovely cat jumped on a chair next to him, and started to follow the lesson.

Not wanting to distract him, I shooed her off ( three times, for she was determined to take part in the lesson ) and her last perch was a chair across the table from me, out of reach and all we could see was her little head peeping over the table's edge, wondering what we were doing. Too cute for words, and proof that she is clever and most definitely our pride and joy.


Monday, 19 September 2016

A Changing Of The Guards.

A strong bond of friendship.

Deutsch Schützen had their Kirtag yesterday and it was a success which the who's who of most surrounding villages attended. Packed to the rafters and as the day progressed, they had to put out more and more tables. Super. Nice.

Sitting outside with my parents and Bob, it gave me the perfect opportunity to peruse the scene. People watching is interesting and insightful. I like it. As with any village fete, kids were in abundance and makes one wonder whether the rural air is more conducive to the storks and their little parcels of joy.

The food and drinks were served without delay and the Schnitzel Semmel that I had was rather tasty indeed. I would perhaps have been tempted to get a slice of homemade cake, if it hadn't involved a long trek to the front of the packed hall to choose it. Of course I was slightly mad with myself when I got home, because all I had an inclination for was a nice piece of cake. Serves me right.

From our English language expeditions to the various villages, we do know quite a few of the youngens and some even greeted us before we greeted them! Last year, at any village function this bunch of youngens ( a group of about 10 friends ) were still mainly whiling their time away, playing soccer, tag, or some form of hide & seek. They mostly were boisterous, outside and never ever sat down except to wolf down their food.

Well, I couldn't believe it...yesterday, this bunch of youngens shook off their childhood mantle and any games associated with it and were parking their behinds on a bench. Yes, they have progressed to a table. There they were, sitting and discussing life ( parents, school & girlfriends no doubt ) while sipping their lemonades.

What these friends have is a rare bond, a bond that is disappearing fast in our globalized world. They have known each other since they were born, have been in kindergarten together and are now mostly attending school together. Living in one place your whole childhood, is a treat that hopefully they cherish for the rare treasure it is.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Seen In The Vineyards.

A bit of humour too.

No no, don't worry...not a real person. Mum and I were driving when we both saw it the first time...oh yes, we thought someone was stuck. The artist has made a tres macabre image...To make it less frightening, I took this photo with the tree close by. In reality, the ladder man is free standing in the vineyard.
I took this photo looking from one hill of the Deutsch Schützen vineyards to the other. Somehow the Kellerstock in the middle of the photo reminds me of an old painting.
As you can see, the rain arrived yesterday en force with still a bit of it lingering in the clouds overhead this morning.

The many shades of green make a soothing image.
The beautiful grapes are almost ready for harvesting. The next few weeks will see a lot of activity across all the vineyards.


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Some Village Dogs Had A Field Day Yesterday,

Promenade Friday perhaps?

Again it was one of those picture book perfect end of summer days, where the sky was insanely blue, the leaves protesting hard against the gravity of autumn, with a bit of orange starting to emerge. Not a cloud to be seen, but for a change the lane next to our forest was teeming with dogs, oh, and their owners too.

Having finished my weekly walk with a friend, I was on my way back home, which incidentally took me along said forest lane. You know, one of those lanes we all remember from childhood; two pebbled strips with a grass bridge between them. Nowadays it's jolly difficult to stumble, yet along amble over them as everyone and their uncle Charlie are rushing out to build, build and build some more and thus destroy those reminders of our childhoods.

At the start of this forest lane, I met my first dog with its owner. An extremely happy and friendly dog who just took me for granted and carried on imbibing the wondrous aromas and treasures of a forest edge. Don't fret, he left many a calling card just in case anyone would doubt he'd been there.

The three of us ambled ( next to a tempting forest, walking isn't possible unless you count stop starts, jumps over a leash or even untangling of leash as a walk ) along for about a few hundred meters and then they turned back home. Still thinking of this nice encounter, I rounded a curve and saw another dog, with its two owners standing shooting the breeze with a friend on a tractor. Real rural stuff indeed.

Friday must have a calming influence on dogs, as even this one never barked nor showed that much of an interest in me. Another pit stop for me, some more conversation interspersed with a few dog cuddles. He didn't mind. It was nice to chat, especially as everyone was in a fabulous mood, and honestly, I felt re-energized, content with my world.

Waving my goodbyes I turned another corner and yes, met another dog and owner pair. This dog had seen me earlier on my walk from behind garden gates and had given me the proper dog reception...a cascading crescendo of barks and quivering muscle display, which I told him then and there, to give it a rest.

When he came towards me, leashed of course, I expected another display of noise but to my surprise he was as meek as a church mouse and just seemed to be pleased for the opportunity to follow the delights of a forest edge, while leaving a few reciprocal calling cards in his path.

What a nice start to my Friday it turned out to be...


Friday, 16 September 2016

Goodness, A Supermarket Stalking Affair..

Is it her, or isn't it her?

A normal casual trip to the supermarket got a bit more interesting, if not a tad embarrassing. I blame many things on it, chiefly my new prescription sunglasses and the lack of modern etiquette being practiced by the younger set.

There is no better feeling than driving with my new sunglasses. The whole vista is transformed into a sharp and rosy coloured backdrop and makes driving super fun. But as I am perfectly visioned with my sunglasses I tend to leave my other inside glasses at home. Look, I can see without them, but often people in the distance seem a bit foreign. Maybe they are after all...

Anyway, I was on aisle two at our local Spar when I thought I saw a neighbour of ours. One from a few houses up the road and not one I have spoken too. The odd nod, but on the whole she doesn't really make a point of greeting. So, I formed a plan to go and say hello, but only if it was her...

Famous last words indeed. There I saw her mostly as she changed aisles and as I had just entered said aisle, I sort of stared to see if it was her. Stalker alert for sure. You know, until the check out I went about my shopping, eg standing in front of the ice cream fridge and thinking:

' If I buy this ice cream will I get back in time before it melts, and do I have space in the freezer oh, surely it must be her?

Even in my check out aisle, she was two behind me but had a conversation with the person behind her and the opportunity fizzled as if a nail had been stuck into it. And I was still not so sure that it was her. Only when I went to pack my groceries into the chariot, did I espy her vehicle...oh yes, that one I recognized immediately as I do walk passed it most mornings.

Good grief, I just had a flashback to my younger days and shopping every evening after work in a supermarket and thinking that this or that hot looking guy might like me, when in fact he might have just wondered where he'd seen me before and if he should greet me out of politeness. Tres embarrassing.

Remember, that back in the day, a supermarket was the best place for singles to hang out without having to go online to find the perfect date. Many a romance might have started in the dairy, bread or wine isle...


Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Chimney Sweep Tends To Be A Good Luck Symbol.

Well, more like a good person really.

Who can say that they set their yearly time table by the appearance of a chimney sweep? Not so many, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, were chimneys are often more of an ornament to complement the lounge's look.

As per usual, I almost forgot, well I did and would have looked silly if my mum hadn't reminded me in the morning. Thank goodness for mums. Especially mums that write down stuff and dates. We are on the same chimney sweep rotation by the way. Later when I chatted to the sweep, I fessed up about having forgotten and mum's reminder...

" At least somebody writes it down. "
don't worry, I will try to make more of an effort.

But, this chimney sweep, dressed all in black, his hands and face with touches of soot, is the nicest of guys. Always friendly, always smiling, never in a hurry. Four times per year he does the rounds of chimneys. He has to climb into attics and I mostly want to cringe when he has to climb into ours...a small opening reached from a rickety ladder.

" Don't stress, your's isn't the worst. "
Well, that's nice to know.

Yesterday was another extremely hot day and even the thought of using an oven seemed outrageous, but we tend to forget that in almost three ( yes, three ) months, another personality will use the chimney. Dressed in red this time and the larger the chimney the bigger the presents that come down it. Or that is many a youngster's reasoning.

Routine is one of these comforting things. For me at least. Seeing this good luck figure sets the stamp on the gallop of summer and gently prepares us for the cold winter. Routine, helps to cement roots of life and it is awesome when those roots are associated with someone nice and friendly.

As for the good luck symbol, the chimney sweep carries good luck with him and even being around him for ten minutes starts the good luck osmosis. Yeah, yeah, it's a great day.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Deutsch Schuetzen Bathed In A Hazy Glow.

Early morning mist, eh, fog that is...

The start of my Deutsch Schützen round is breathtaking in itself. A stony path guarded by a row of fruit trees, ending at the local chapel. Apples and pears mostly.
Yes, still same walk, same time, same day. Today. A mere turn in the path took me on course with the rising sun. A hazy warm glow was cosseting the whole of the village. Soul food indeed.
The church tower always seems so close to everything and of course it is, as the villages were built around the church. A place where everything happens in a small village.
Christenings, Confirmations, Weddings, Funerals, Church teas and of course, Sundays.
As we are surrounded by forests, or so it seems, there are many tree houses to be found. This one was on my route, and it must be great fun to sit and reflect on life up in the safe palm of this tree.
A photo of nothing and yet of needn't be lived in super-sized moments. A mere glimpse of quietness, albeit wrapped in a warm glow, can do wonders.
Round trip completed, a few people met and nice exchanges had. All before eight o'clock...


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Abundance Dangled Over Our Gate.

A nice start to the week.

It seems that our village could double as egg-central ( not to be confused with eccentric ) any day. Actually more like our little neighbourhood. There is Willy up the road who has several handfuls of chickens providing industriously for the English breakfast crowd of two, and there is also Ferry.

Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while, will know that he is the lawnmower driver, he with the Ray-Bans. The nicest guy by the way. Anyway he also has a handful of hens who are slowly popping out eggs. He did tell me that in the beginning the eggs were more like egg-lets and very sporadic too.

Now and again I take Ferry to the doctor's and as a thank you, he has given me eggs before, also a cubic meter of wood, or even taken Bob and I for lunch at Bruni's.

Eggs, shouldn't be taken for granted. Not only because of the hen's leisure but don't forget, eggs from happy free roaming chickens are at times a luxury and should be appreciated. Once you've tasted these eggs and seen their orange yellow yolk, it is very difficult to eat the battery laid eggs. Not to mention the plight of those poor suffering chickens.

It was just before lunch time that I came back home and as I was about to open our gate I saw a purple packet dangling vicariously over it. There is only one person who leaves packets dangling like that...Ferry. Sure enough, when I looked inside it, I saw two full egg boxes. Twenty eggs, a fortune.

Bob came home for lunch a few minutes later and I was able to make him a nice fry up for it...delicious indeed. As I was frying the eggs, I heard the familiar sound of Ferry returning home form his sojourn in the woods and tried to run out and thank him in person, but alas, he was too quick for me. Although I did phone him later!

His lawnmower's pitch is well known in the neighbourhood which at times is teeming with many others. For some reason the older lot prefer to mow their lawn at leisure and also use their lawnmower like a golf cart to go and meander around the village in hot pursuit of village news.

Just goes to show that abundance is everywhere...


Monday, 12 September 2016

A Healthy Dose Of Domestic Simplicity.

A day of rest.

Yesterday was Sunday. A warm end of summer day and a day of rest. We sometimes forget that we do need those rest days as, quite frankly, the commercial world around us wants us to rest according to their, shop and shop some more.

So far Austria has no Sunday trading hours and whatever you need for a Sunday gets purchased on a Saturday. Easy enough. Having moved from a country that trades what seems like 24/7, it was a bit of a cultural shock not to be able to shop on a Sunday. The first few ones we were caught out with lack of certain foods, but most of us have enough groceries in our kitchen cupboards to feed us a few days without going for a shop.

Thinking back to South Africa and Sundays, they were mostly spent in the mega avenues of a shopping mall. Be it for a mere meal out or another useless item bought. At times we drove to a bigger shopping center over an hour away, to squeeze with the hordes of other aimless Sunday revelers. Did we not like our home?

How my Sundays have changed...a nice walk, a great fry up for breakfast, a leisurely time spent reading, a sandwich or so for lunch, an afternoon snooze in front of the telly and the occasional strenuous forays into the kitchen.

Bob was on a roll and made a divine tasting loaf of bread after breakfast ( he thought ahead and wanted some for lunch ) and like the heathens we are, we almost ripped it apart and devoured a few slices with dripping butter. Yummy indeed.

As he was in a cooking mood, after the required afternoon snooze, he went up into our garden and picked bowls full of plums. They are almost passed their on the tree sell by date and with that in mind, he made two batches of plum jam. Enough to last us through the winter and enough for the odd birthday present.

Often Bob and I sit back and ponder on the rather alarming fact, that when we were living in South Africa, the birthplace of so much delectable fruit, we never even once made a batch of jam! And we were not the only ones...Don't people realize how great homemade jam tastes and how easy it is to make?

A Sunday like this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is more refreshing to my body and soul than a few hours spent at a mall, a mall where you still have to grapple with finding parking, not to mention the space for all those unneeded purchases.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Good Morning Dear Sunday.

Another gentle Eisenberg Sunday morning with nary a soul astir...

Walking along the Hummergraben, one sees a selection of Kellerstöckels along side it. One of the first to grace the way, is a delightfully dainty one, almost like a gingerbread house.
What is extraordinary beautiful, is the way the owners have outdone themselves with a mini garden, this year in pinks and purples. Amazing and soothing for the soul.
Unofficially summer should be waning, but to the delight of most, the sun keeps on shining with another week of high temperatures predicted. Just the last bit of seasoning the vines need ahead of the harvest...
Aren't these dainty beauties a treat for sore eyes?
At the moment the fields are littered with soya bean plants and I have to say, it is wonderful to see the golden colours alight in the morning sunshine. Fields of gold.
The haziness hovering over the valley, can only mean a very hot day ahead. I never get tired of this roller coaster view, and am so happy to call this my home.
Some of the leaves have already left their summer perch but there are still a few oasis of flowers clinging on to the coattails of summer.


Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Surefire Way To Get Rid Of A Snorer.

Cunning and resourceful indeed.

Honestly, do you really think that us gals are afflicted with this annoying trait? Others yes, traits that is, but snoring surely not. Personally, I think it is a figment of the Bobster's ( and most men's for that matter ) imagination or a clever way to disguise his own snortles.

Throughout the years, he has used different ruses from the basic of making so much noise that I'd wake up, to the intricate

" Turn onto your side. You are snoring. "

Last night, he excelled himself in inventiveness. Whilst in a deep slumber a sound broke through the outer layers of it and eventually I heard

" Boo, turn onto your side, the light is too bright for your eyes. "
Eh, what light and was he hallucinating?
" But my light isn't switched on. What are you on about? "
At that stage I had shaken off any remaining slumberous layers and was wide awake. Awake enough to see him reach for a book. Fair enough, great when one can't sleep ( if he hadn't awoken me, I probably wouldn't have noticed ). The light wasn't right and he switched it off to give sleep another go, all the while apologizing for waking me...

Too late she cried...counting sheep isn't my best and with duvet and pillows in tow, I headed for the couch. Fast forward to this morning, the Bobster had a good round of sleep, only interrupted by two mosquitoes doing their best to torment him... perhaps as a payback for waking me?

Married life, wouldn't change it for the world...


Friday, 9 September 2016

Oh, For The Love Of Books.

Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day.

" That moment when you are reading a book, and the whole world around you fades away."
" Book Hangover: Inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world. "
" A room without books is like a body without a soul. "
" A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. "
George R.R. Martin
" People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned. "
Saul Bellow
" All good and true book lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed
...No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over. "

Eugene Field
" There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It's like falling in love. "
Christopher Morley
" A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them! Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. "
Horace Mann, Life and works of Horace Mann, Volume 3
" There is no friend as loyal as a book. "
Ernest Hemingway


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Punkt. To The Point.

The new way to phone smartly.

For a while it felt as if it was just me and a few grown ups, who didn't use or have a Smartphone. Partly because of costs and partly because of the other cost involved, my spare time, and the way I see the Smartphone set proudly strutting about, spare time is an antique relic, just like the Studebaker was for us.

I was pleased as punch to hear a news segment about a new group of Smartphone renegades, the perhaps new In-crowd?. They are a subset of Smartphone users who've cottoned on to the loss of spare time, thought or anything else. They are switching to a new cell phone, an upgraded modern version of the good old cell phone. A phone, that is only there to actually make calls...

If you need a Smartphone to do your work, fair enough, but most others use it constantly to peruse social media or take pictures for Instagram. For a while I was flirting with the idea of joining Instagram and actually did sign up only to be told that I would need a Smartphone to upload photos, thanks but no thanks.

All those hashtag names are confusing anyway. Newly weds are fun to unwittingly follow ( for some reason they copy everything onto their Facebook stream ) as they settle into married life and over the course of their first year of marriage use less and less soppy adjectives to describe each other.

Well, this new cell phone, The Punkt., seems the antithesis to the new iPhone 7 that has just been released. If I had been using Apple products in the past, this recent tax debacle would have changed me toute de suite to a Punkt. user. Funny, how instead of being embarrassed at being caught less than socially minded ( taxes do pay for social programs ) and remedying it, they are fighting it...what is this world coming to?

I hope The Punkt. will go mainstream, as that would portend well for future parties, evenings out and holidays taken...people will start to talk to and with each other again without being constantly distracted by the ping of that small rectangular device in their hand.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Eisenberg's Ladies And Their Flower Power.

Visual feasts of beautiful flower displays scattered around our village.

A dressing for the old wine press.
The blue fire hydrant has a front row seat to this spectacular flower display. You know, it isn't easy to get all blossoms to bloom at the same time.
The pink corner display is enchanting and instantly shoos any or all dismal feeling away.
We still have a proper telephone box, although to be honest, I've yet to see it occupied...At the top left edge of the picture you can see the upper Weinberg, or as I like to call it, Millionaire's row!
A look across the road, elegantly veiled with a fountain of blades.
Even the bus stop on the main road has been enhanced with a delightful pink flower display...


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Longevity Of Village People.

A day without laughter is a day wasted.

It started off innocently enough with a trip to the metropolis of our area, Oberwart. Actually, I should say Unterwart and its main source of our many visits, Hofer. No, not the Bundespresident elect, but the supermarket chain. Bob loves going there and meandering down the aisles.

A year ago he bought some workman's overalls ( which he uses daily ) but not the workman's pants. By workman's pants, I mean those reinforced pants, those that Bear Grylls tends to wear. They have a hook for hammers, pencils, telephones and numerous other things. Tres sexy indeed.

To this day, each time we are in Hofer, Bob has a look if they have any workman's pants on offer. Last month it was workman's shorts ( seriously, how do you then protect your shins? ), which had Bob in a state of anticipation each time we've gone to shop in the last few weeks.

Well yesterday, he hit the jackpot. Workman's pants, not dungarees, in either black, blue or grey. Bob was beaming form ear to ear and loudly summoned me from the dairy aisle.

" Boo, quickly, quickly, come and have a look! "
The choice of which colour was easy enough, but the size not so much. Workman's pants shouldn't be too tight as one needs to bend and so forth without showing one's underwear, ...Side stepping a mini marital tiff, I eventually told him to get the size he thought was best!

Once we were home and had unpacked the groceries, Bob, in true manly style ( ladies, we'd never do this ) tried on his new purchase in the kitchen. Luckily they fit perfectly and as Bob had also taken off his t-shirt (? ), I looked at him ( and goodness me, he did look rather spiffy ) and said:

" You know, you could be a member of the village people. "
to which his straight faced, coupled with a John Travolta pose, reply was...
..." Young man..."


Monday, 5 September 2016

And Before Bob Could Blink, I Was On Top Of The Sofa.

Our cat finally earns her keep...

There are many other ways to spend a Sunday afternoon and I wish I could have. Believe me, standing there on top of the couch, screaming like a girl for Bob to do something while the cat played tag with a mouse, wasn't such a proud moment.

It started innocently enough with me watching Wedding Date for the xth time ( pray tell, who doesn't on a Sunday? ), and our cat sleeping, clearly with one eye open, through most of the movie. As the last scene had me entranced in a fairy tale bubble, I only heard her frantic antics in the vestibule because they kept encroaching on my fairy tale. Pausing the DVD, I turned my head just in time to see her inserting her paw into Bob's work shoe. With elegance and self assurance.

" Quickly Bob, have a look at how cute she plays with your left shoe! "
There he was, trying to help her with whatever she had found interesting in this shoe, when even the Bobster screamed like a girl as a tiny little mouse fell out of the upturned shoe, almost onto his chest!

Bob stood frozen, I instantly sought refuge on top of our sofa and the only sane one, ahem, was Mausi toying and playing with this mouse. I thought she had already killed it as she was carrying it around in her mouth with pride and joy.

At one stage she headed towards her mummy with her bounty bouncing around in her mouth, when she dropped it...oh no, on the contrary, the little mouse was alive and kicking and alarmingly headed for my couch. With Mausi in hot pursuit, and in a state of excitement and euphoria.

Gosh, what a brave little soul indeed. I alternated between berating her and praising her for her excellent hunting abilities. The one thought that never crossed my mind was that she'd lose in the cat & mouse affair. The mouse hid behind the sofa, indeed rather too close for my comfort, and after trying to lure her out into the open, Mausi decided that this game was not fun anymore. Goodness, where is her patience? As we speak, she is slumbering on our window sill and yes, the other mouse is still on the loose...

" Oh yes, you are darn right...I am not going to sleep well, if at all tonight. "


Sunday, 4 September 2016

A Wise Sunday Perhaps?

For the love of reading...

" To find yourself, think for yourself. "
" Each man's life represents a road toward himself."
Herman Hesse
" Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. "
Abraham Lincoln
" The true perfection of man lies not in what he has, but in what man is. "
Oscar Wilde
" Come what may, time and hours run through the roughest day."
William Shakespeare
" Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain
" As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed."
Vincent Van Gogh
" Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. "
Denis Waitley
" Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. "
Abraham Lincoln
" Instead of seeking new landscapes, develop new eyes. "
Marcel Proust
" Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Re-Use Box, How Cool Is That?

Südburgenland trumps yet again...

Only this morning I was perusing a free magazine ( normally they do go straight & unread to the recycle bin ) and saw this tiny advert for this magic invention:

The Re-Use Box
and just like the name says, it gives a hand at reusing our prolific possessions. Let's face it, there are so many things we'd all like to get rid of, yet we are too lazy to go and set up a flea market table. Merely tossing it out into the wide sphere of rubbish options feels too much of a waste as they are usually still good things only not things we want any more.

Books are paper, yet it would break my heart to put them into the paper recycling bin. Well, this re-use box is a normal sized cardboard box, which can be filled with all those items you will never use again, but you'd like other people to get use out of.

There are collection points where the B.M.V. ( one of Burgenland's refuse company ) picks up the boxes, and takes the contents to be sorted and resold at a minimal price at a Re-Use Shop in Oberpullendorf. A real second hand shop, one which incidentally I've been hoping to find in our area. As I've just discovered this marvel of an idea this morning, I will have to ask my trusty man to drive me to Oberpullendorf ( instead of mad ) to have a snoop around this second hand shop.

Just at the top of my head, there are several items I can put into this box. Books, toys, jeans that will never fit me ever again...

...Yes, we all need to face this at some point in our adult lives. we'll never be as thin as we were in our 20's. It used to be just one pair but lately the top shelf of my cupboard is filled with these never to be worn items.
a fancy beer glass and the ultimate dust collector, a vase.

No folks, just in case you were wondering how large this box is...putting an irritating spouse in it isn't allowed...or is it?


Friday, 2 September 2016

A Family Holiday From A Dog's Perspective.

Going to Oma & Opa for a stint...

Family holidays are great stuff except for the family dog. Well not always, if one is blessed with parents living close by. Yet, for the dog it might seem like second prize, visiting Oma and Opa instead of the beach or some such exotic location.

Don't get me wrong, it is super to have someone who is familiar with your dog, look after it but from the dog's perspective, things are different. Even for us, visiting grandparents isn't the same as visiting parents. Not for lack of love, but each generation has its own set of rules and strictures which somehow don't bode to well for a dog.

Cuddling a lot, yes, but jumping on beds and sleeping there....not a chance. Unlike the younger set, the older generation has enough backbone to counteract any subversive paw slowly edging towards that attractive bed. One could say, that grandparents had eyes in the back of their heads!

Yesterday I went to see one of the these dog sitting grandparents. As we were chatting, she mentioned that they were looking after the dog ( an adventure in itself ) and the subject of sleeping on the bed came up...not in the dog's favour of course. But she told me that the dog got so much more attention than normal including lots of cuddling. Young families lead such busy lives that unless the dog's a puppy, it now tends to reside on the peripheral of mind and house.

Anyway, I have seen this dog often in his own house and when he greeted me at his Oma's front door, there was surprise and joy. In fact, we had an elongated cuddling while he pressed closely against my legs ( heart melting stuff, I have to admit ), with alternating flips onto his back ( not so easy for an older dog ) with all four legs excitedly flaying my way as I scratched the stomach. Too cute, but the cutest and most interesting bit for me was the accompanying chin wag.

Since setting eyes on me, this delightful dog was doing his best to speak to me in dog language. Not barks but little yips and yaps of varying pitches. Either he was to tell me that life was stricter here or that he was simply missing his family and was asking me when they would be back to fetch him...By the way, I talked in a high pitched voice too...

When I left a while later, there was no rush to come home with me, no, this cute dog just lay on the floor doing absolutely nothing but enjoying his own holiday of sorts.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

September Again!

Time stands still for no one.

Isn't it amazing how fast time sneaks passed us without giving us a nudge, hint or clue that the best way to live is in the Now? Just the other day it was the end of May, school holidays were counted down in style ( each day on the calendar crossed out with glee ) and a hint of summer was in the air. Well, that has gone by rather quickly.

On Monday, Burgenland's scholars are returning to their school desks and I am guessing not with much elan either. Who would after two months of sleeping till lunchtime, going swimming with friends and never even having to worry about any tests or homework.

Of course there is one group of children who are eagerly awaiting the start of the school year. Yes, the first timers who are so excited at having the mysteries of school explained to them by teachers instead of their parents.

Burgenland has a wonderful policy of giving each new first grader one hundred euros to help defray the costs of pens, pencils etc. Great, isn't it?

Ironic how at each stage of our schooling, we get put back to start: After a few years of kindergarten and finally being a senior with mega clout ( being able to choose which game to play and having a posse of followers ) you go back to basics and become a newbie at school, where you have to start afresh at carving your place in its social pecking order...high school, university and real work have the similar tendencies and come to think of it, so does everyday living.

For the last few weeks, summer has put out all the stops so that we won't forget it. Hot, sunny and languid days indeed. Almost too hot for me, but since yesterday there has been a soothing cool breeze doing the early morning rounds. Cool enough to need a jacket. Lovely.

September is also the time to pick the grapes now dangling enticingly on the vines and send them to their next stop on route to becoming the nectar of gods and, eh, ordinary mortals. An exciting aspect to the year as often friends and family from far flung places come home to help out for those few crucial days of wine harvesting...

Life, isn't it great?