The vineyards and villages are painted to perfection.
Men are real geniuses in the kitchen if and when they put their minds to it. They are efficient with the dishes ( very important as usually the one who doesn't cook does wash the dishes ) dirtied or maybe I am just fortunate because Bob likes washing as he goes along.
Bob decided to make supper last night and had a bread on the go while at the same time chopping vegetables to start his homemade vegetable soup. Divine indeed and his parents are more than impressed at the culinary talents their son has.
Being good at BBQ'ing doesn't compare with making meals inside a kitchen. Putting meat on the outside grill is easy as can be especially when the assistant chef is never far off;
" Honey, can you bring me the tongs, salt, meat, dish to put the meat in and oh, don't forget a cold beer for me. "
Fresh homemade bread ripped, oh, sorry with parents here it is cut in a proper way, topped with butter and dipped into a thick vegetable soup is one of life's pleasures. The thicker the butter the better. Perhaps the only thing better than butter would be real homemade butter fresh from the dairy. Bob, what do you think about that ?
We were just talking about the fact that most women are so scared of putting more than a mere hint of butter on bread in case they put on weight... a whole legion of women have missed out on a lot of culinary adventures in order to look thin. Rather sad, isn't it?
The weather has changed from cold to warm overnight and Bob is in a great mood which bodes well to more homemade bread, soup, pizza and maybe a biscuit or two.
As I am looking out of the kitchen window I have to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming. The roof across the yard is covered in white dust. It looks like powder sugar but is the celestial snowy kind. Outside on the window sill is a clay rabbit left over from Easter and it makes a nice contrast to the snow covered roof. Snow at the end of April, who'd have thought?
In looks it is rather romantic but in reality it is a nightmare for the vintners. Tonight they are expecting minus 5 degrees which might devastating for the budding vines.
Tonight will be the coldest night and a lot of the local wine farmers are lighting hay bales between the rows of vines to keep the iciness at bay. Bob's been put on standby by his fire chief in case a spark lands in the wrong place. Please hold thumbs that the vines will be okay and that the predicted cold spell was a slight exaggeration by the weathermen.
For our visitors from warmer climes, the falling snowflakes were a first. Gosh, they have been glued to the windows following the individual snowflakes in their pirouetting dance to the ground. Did I mention that we've also had extremely strong winds? Bob told his parents to bring warm clothes, but what parent ever listens to their offspring? At least Bob can say I told you so...
This too shall pass and before we know it, the sun will be out in full force and summer will continue. A cold spell now and again isn't that bad as it gives one an opportunity to pursue the fine hobby of reading. Reading a book while reclining on a couch, a cup of tea or coffee at hand is after all one of life's pleasures.
Thank goodness we live so far away from bustle and hustle as the temptation to mindlessly meander along the long corridors of a shopping mall is removed. We might go for a walk later on, we might not. We might clean the house, we might not. We might eat comfort food...oh, how silly of course we will, starting now with a Bavarian style Bretzen smothered in butter.
Only last week it was so warm that Bob and his dad pranced about in shorts. Granted, Bob's were a tad more fashionable but wear them they did. Washing on the line dried in record time which surprised everyone but me. Burgenland is hot...
The lawns put on a colourful base for all and sundry wild flowers to grow. Dandelion being the main one and I was thrilled that I could distinguish the buzzing sound of bees grazing on our lawn from the plentiful tweeting of birds. Let me tell you that it isn't always easy keeping the Bobster away from pushing his lawnmower over this collage. So what if the neighbours think us lazy at least we provide fodder for the bees and quizzes.
Dear friends, please leave your lawns looking hippy-ish a while longer. Don't forget we need the bees strong and healthy.
Well, from those lovely warm days we've gone straight bang into a round of extreme cold ones. Yikes, some areas of Austria are expecting snow. Bob's already muttering.
There was a village funeral yesterday which I attended but due to the high numbers of mourners and my being a bit tardy, I heard the whole service from outside the church doors. Oh, I wasn't alone and many of us late comers were whipped about by the freezing wind. A whiff of snow was in the air.
Funerals are moments where we collect our thoughts, ideas about life and take the time to think of the person who's gone. I must say, yesterday's funeral was the best attended I've been to in Eisenberg. Great send off to a nice lady.
The next few days will be extremely cold and we've fired up our oven again. The weather vane on our neighbour's roof doesn't know which way to turn first. The wind is howling, the skies are pitted with dark grey clouds and rain might not be far out and yet I love it. A bit of cloak and dagger weather is divine and reminds me of many a murder mystery read. Life is grand, whatever the framework we are blessed to live it in...
Please, I know that leftover cake is an oxymoron unless the cake is more of a fly-cake or more politically put, a fruit cake. Years ago when I worked in the divine surrounds of the Scottish Highlands the cake of choice rather often was a fruit cake. As you can tell, I am not fond of it and often used to wonder why it was so very popular.
Yesterday afternoon we hosted a coffee and cake do and due to miscommunication, I too made a cake. Pretty sure that mum said I should make one ( obviously as the hostess ) but when they came over, mum sported a divine cake. A homemade apple cake that put my pound cake into the shade ( quite rightly, as mum's cakes are legendary ) and made sure that there would be lots of leftover pound cake.
As I was pondering how to keep this cake, knowing that mum would leave whatever of her cake was left with us, I remembered the cantuccini lot. Or, as they say back home, the rusks. One forgets that a rusk is a dried out cake. Oh, the memories of being at boarding school and dipping an Ouma rusk into a milky cup of coffee!
So, while the table was still having discussions, memories and jokes passed across it, I whipped my cake away and started to slice it. Mum, got up to help me and we did a whole tray of rusks. Well, not perfect yet but on the way.
My pound cake has rather a lot of butter in it ( a whole slab ) and coupled with the 5 farm eggs, the rich fatty substance didn't help in drying it out. Even this morning, they still had a moist texture to them. Tasty though.
At the moment our house is loaded with cakes, biscuits and morsels of interest, so only a saint could withstand the temptation. Isn't it funny how when one gets visitors who quite rightly experiment with all the local fares on offer, we tend to join right in.
" Oh, I have to try this...haven't had it for at least a day. "
Last night was worthy of writing a term paper. A psychological one. Interesting and incredibly funny watching it from the peripheral.
We'd just ended a lovely evening with my folks. An evening of great company, a BBQ and delectable food. Oh, did I mention the wine? Of course it is a give in our neck of the woods. As is the annual village Easter Fire the night before the great day. Believe me when I tell you that some villagers are so eager to search for Easter eggs that they even stay out all night at this do. Often an inadvertent stumble does the trick of finding treasure hidden behind bushes.
The Bobster, despite his folks being here, wanted to be part of the dawn squad. His argument being that everyone would be asleep anyway so why shouldn't he go. Well, how to get there was the problem. He didn't want to walk and had refused to get out the car earlier when on the way home from the BBQ I'd done a drive past. Clearly, too early in the night for the Bobster.
We were sitting having a cup of tea before bed and I, almost (!) in the fashion of a nagging wife, tried my hardest to dissuade him from taking the moped. A beer or three too many already. But, men are men and tend to be a tad bit on the stubborn side when they smell a chance to escape to join their brethren for a few drinks, a scratch and a moan about the wife.
I tell you, it was classic to see how one or two short sentences from each of his parents changed Bob's mind tout de suite. No argument or muttering in the manner I would have been privy to. His mum used the classic fail-safe of:
" Bob, don't let me sit up and worry about you coming home like I had to when you were a teenager. "and his dad;
" My boy, I think you should just stay at home. "Meek as a mouse the Bobster changed into his pyjamas and we all went to bed.
The cherry on top was this morning, when as he woke up he informed me;
" I'm so glad I decided to stay home last night. "
This morning was a real treat. We were up early and I decided to go for a long walk on my own. The chickens down the road were still in their coop dozing away and most houses showed little signs of life within. An ideal time to walk and let the mind roam.
My route was rather long but the various birds along the way tweeted their approval and the many lilac shrubs enveloped me in an aroma of their distinct perfume. A lovely scent wafting about every hundred meters or so.
For many of the houses I know who lives in them. Have taken enough interest to find out the individual life stories. Who wouldn't want to know...that is what makes life so jolly interesting. For example, the renowned artist on top of the Eisenberg was shuffling to his postbox. Unfortunately he was back inside before I could greet him but I saw how he had changed the mere door of his garage into a piece of art.
About half way into the walk I happened to notice a beautiful yellow arrangement a bit off the road. The house looked empty so I didn't hesitate to go and take photos. Half hidden from the road but not quite. My bright scarf would attract anyone's eye.
Murphy's law, I heard the engine of a car approaching but as I had a great shot in my sights, I carried on clicking. When the car seemed almost next to me I could just about picture what the driver might think. This gal needed to go to the loo! Yikes, I quickly stepped back out ( just like someone would do who'd used nature's facilities ) and swung my camera wildly in front of me to make sure whoever saw me knew the reason I ducked into the shrubs.
Well, I almost died with embarrassment when I heard a hoot and saw the driver wave hello while clearly chuckling to himself. Drat and darn, it was a driver who has been my constant passer by through the years. Somehow he drives passed me at some point along my walks and now he will think of me ducking into the shrubs whenever we meet at a local function.
We were doing a typical Burgenland thing...we went to a Buschenschank with family and of course had a great time. Who wouldn't? Sampling the local fare ( the edible and liquid sort of course ) set a nice full stop to a busy day. Actually more of an exclamation mark.
Anyway, we were just about to leave when one of the locals, a delightful character who loves the nightlife of our village, came over to sit with us for a bit. He was funny and even started to serenade Bob's mum with a local, a never-ending song. She was rather flattered of course. As one does when a man serenades one! Somehow the fact that she wouldn't understand one word he sang did sort of encourage him further!
He then started to tell ( or rather brag ) about his various illnesses and how he beat them. Isn't it funny how when one reaches a certain age, the stories of prowess are swept aside by stories of illness? Don't get me wrong, I was impressed like mad at how much he has managed to shake off and carry on with life and more importantly with a smile.
He is rather fond of the local wine and really folks don't throw stones in a glass house and told the story of how he outlived many of the specialists who either gave him a new hip, knee or advice. Two of his medical advisers had already been left behind and despite not listening to their kind advice, he was still about.
Often when I talk to the old guard in the village, they tell me how for most of their lives, they had a shot of Schnapps with breakfast. Kick starting the old engine, so to speak...Who am I to raise an eyebrow when the person in question is over 90 and hale as can be? Also, who could ever forget the Queen Mum who lived to be 102 while enjoying a glass or two daily?
When the world's awash with tablets and pills it might not be the worst idea to listen to those old household remedies from yore...at least some of the time.
A few of our windows are covered with mosquito netting which, believe me is extremely necessary as we live next to a big pond and often the mozzies are busy buzzing about. This netting is also a grand way to have Mausi be a part of the outdoors without being outdoors. Remember, she is a house cat.
Often she repines hours and hours in the open window just watching the world around her without ever wanting to join it. How do I know? Well, she isn't constantly clawing at the netting.
Yesterday morning while brushing my teeth I heard a big loud clonking sound. Going to investigate I saw little Miss Muffet hanging precariously on the netting. Half way in and half way out. A bird doing its thing outside the window had caught her attention and wanting to follow its antics, Mausi had leaned a bit to vigorously against it. It gave way.
When I saw her and she saw me- halfway out the window - I swear I could see her lift an imaginary paw and wave a cheeky goodbye to me...
" Thanks for everything mum, see you later..."Naturally it didn't take me longer than two seconds to be by her side. Lifting her out of the dangling frame I could feel her little heart beating quickly and it might have been beating for the bird that nearly graced her pallet.
In case you were wondering, I will set your minds at ease...she loves being with us and hasn't clawed and meaowed in front of windows or doors. Remember, there are many many dangers outside for her. The foxes often cut a painful path through farmers chickens, tractors career about alarmingly not to mention the speeding cars but somehow I feel that the many tomcats that are scouring our yard would be the most harmful to her...Bob would have his shotgun out constantly, protecting his little girl!
I sort of knew that we'd attend and we did en masse. Five of us were on a mission to mingle, see and hear the Deutsch Schützen choir contribute their bit in the Eisenberg foursome. Not often can one meet so many different folks who have almost the same address.
Having to garner a table with enough chairs posed no problem. Our parent's generation has a surefire way to never have to stand on the periphery...get there an hour early and in our case we were so frightfully early that even the bar was still closed. Luckily one of Bob's friends took pity on us and offered to organize some drinks.
The Bobster who hails from a younger generation, the one that likes to be fashionably late to any function in order to merely be absorbed by the masses, tried his best to look cool and blase under these circumstances. Bad luck for him having to sit facing the door and being so jolly visible...
It took over an hour for the hall to start filling up and suddenly our early arrival had paid off. We were seated and ready to listen to the choir, of which mum is a member.
Bob's dad was raised on a farm and is fluent in authentic Zulu and I think he couldn't believe it when the choir's first song was a stalwart of Zulu culture. Who would have thought...a Burgenland village choir singing a Zulu song! And surprisingly in almost perfect pronunciation. Bob's dad was bobbing along and almost joined as a background singer. ( Bob was on high alert in case his Dad made his way to the stage )
The mystery of the near perfect pronunciation is quickly unveiled: A few times in the past few months, Bob was roused from his TV slumber by mum phoning from choir practice asking if he would please tell them how to pronounce the odd Zulu word correctly and he explained it so well, that both my in-laws were amazed at how good the choir sang this song.
Despite getting there even earlier than the usual early bird crowd, we had a fantastic evening. A nice way to see another slice of village life...
Oops, was it three or four Eisenbergs? Just like us folks, villages and towns do have their namesakes. Rather alluring to know that there are a few more Eisenberg villages out there in the world. For as long as I can remember ( in this case 6 years ) there has been the annual convention of these few villages on a rotating basis.
Buses are hired and the dignitaries and those looking for a good bash are ferried to the appropriate Eisenberg. This year it is in our village and as we speak, I see the bus parked outside our gate. Since their arrival yesterday the village has been teeming with walkers dressed in bright colours. A clear signal of German tourists. No, no, too cold for Birkenstocks.
You laugh, but I myself love my Birkenstocks and during winter wear them with socks albeit indoors. Too comfortable for words and heels are so last year...
A pity that this weekend the skies have clouded over and decided to drop a continuous supply of precipitation. Look, we do need it but as a show piece our village does look better set in blue.
I remember our first summer here and of course our first encounter with our village's namesakes. Good gracious me, it was as hot as blazes and we were busy mixing cement for our floors. Mixing cement all Saturday ( actually each Saturday for 4 months ) long ( 7am-5pm ) and doing it the manual way.
Even in my sleep I can recall the ratio....14 shovels of sand, 2-3 buckets of water and 7 shovels of cement. Who knew how much cement goes into a floor never mind a house! One chap walking passed stopped to watch us work ( is there anything nicer on holiday than to watch someone else's travails? ) but took it upon himself to tell me how to better shovel the sand...I nearly told him where to put the shovel....
Rainy weather doesn't really worry me that much. Reading is a great way to while the time away and walking about outside is far better in a drizzle than in a fizzle.
Rather small village, I should say. It was an icy cold morning today or more accurately said, the day was cooler than most with a bit of a biting wind in the offing. Walking is fun in any weather when dressed appropriately but with the renewed feelings of summer I have banished the warm walking arsenal to the barn.
Today saw me stepping about with an Eisenberg lady and she decided to take the route to the shop. Spending some money and meeting up with others. No really, a chance to mingle and catch up on the tidbits associated with living in a small village.
Friday is the perfect day for it as a new guard of shop-able items gets delivered. Almost a crush as the ladies vying for the best cut of meat, salads or breads. I love standing there and listening to various on dits of village life floating past.
As we left the shop on our way back, we encountered a few local ladies either getting in or out of their cars. What is the most natural thing in the world to ensue when a few women meet? A round of chit chat, a round of news gathering or quite simply a round of village gossip. And why not, that is what makes living in a small place so attractive.
Gossip sounds so harsh and in reality is only a way to find out what so and so has been up to or who went on holiday and who is this that and the other. Gossip tends to be the glue that binds a village together. Often it is in these casual conversations that one finds out about someone needing to be visited or someone needing help.
Later, when I walked home on my own, I met one of my distant ( two roads over ) neighbours. She was enjoying the solitude and quietness of a walk. For very good reasons, as she told me that very soon she'd be a double granny. Goodness gracious me, what have they put into our local water? So far three babies have lined up to become valued Eisenberger's in the next few months.
Ah. the good old village life...
In my defence, I have longish hair which tends to be enhanced with colour and unfortunately dulled by the local water. Harsh alkaline water, water that makes your chrome bathroom fixtures pale to a scaly white and makes short shrift of any coffee machine or kettle. Imagine what it does to my hair when unaided by those special alchemist potions we ladies like to wash our locks with.
If I hadn't worked in the hairdressing industry the whole goldie locks potion business would have passed me by, but once you know how silky and shiny the locks can be there is no turning back.
For a long time I had used some generic less expensive shampoo & conditioner and sadly, my hair looked rather thatchy. Hair is hair but hair is also a woman's self image, security and femininity. Men don't tend to understand but most women will. Men will get an inkling when they see us sport a shiny head of hair coupled with a renewed sense of confidence. Vanity deluxe of course, but that is just the way it is.
Anyway, for Christmas one of the ladies in my walking group gave me a shampoo & conditioner set. We had talked about hair months back yet she'd remembered and ordered me the stuff she uses. Oh, it was divine and after the first day I could feel more movement in my hair. Never mind a bit more shine. Heavenly.
Knowing my husband well and bear in mind that he has short hair, almost a number 2 all over, I chose to find a different abode for these two bottles. What he doesn't know won't worry him...until the day I forgot to take them out of the shower. Once used it is hard to resist and even though I made a daily effort to hide the bottles, suspiciously they were finished before they should have been. Tellingly, the last centimeter of shampoo was weak and runny like water. Perhaps a coincident and perhaps not...
A new lot of fabulous hair enhancing potions have found their way into our home and cunningly I have decanted them into different bottles. Very mean spirited of me but all's fair in hair and marriage. Dear men, don't judge me yet. Try and use your other half's tailor made hair goodies and see what reaction that evokes.
Bob's parents are here on holiday and yesterday we went to fetch them at the airport. Or should I say, collect them? Standing at an airport arrival's gate is akin to waiting at the post office for your parcel. A mingling of people standing there waiting with balloons, banners of welcome or mere taxi-pick-up boards. Oh, and there were we, eagerly awaiting the arrival alas, sans balloons, banners or cameras but equipped with big smiles.
Mingling at an international airport is like being on holiday and why does one not simply take the kids for a day at the airport? All the attractions are there. The feel of a mall ( no going on holiday without stopping at a mall ), a McDonald's, a bookshop and several food emporiums. Not to mention the fact that all types of people and languages are about. Personally, I felt as if I've been on a holiday and am so so so glad to be back home...
From our home in the midst of Burgenland it is about two hours to the airport and usually involves a long stretch on a busy highway complete with trucks and irritated rash drivers. Not that much fun. Well, Bob found a wonderful new way to the airport and the best part of it is that it only takes an extra 30 odd kilometers, perhaps an extra 20 minutes and in the process leaves you your sanity intact.
Navigating the many turns on a highway around any Mega city is not for the faint of heart and definitely not good for marital bliss!
We drove the rural roads via Eisenstadt, Purbach and Neusiedl am See to get to the airport. Oh, how absolutely divine. The scenery was breathtaking especially now that the blossoms are ubiquitous dotting the landscape with brightness. We drove through quaint villages and in the process saw yet more of this magical place called Burgenland.
We've seen the usual airport route so often but yesterday, driving the road less traveled made it seem like a Sunday drive. The cherry on top being that the actual driving on a highway was a mere 30 odd kilometers and it took us straight to the airport, circumventing Vienna itself. Well done to Bob for discovering this route and showing me yet another beautiful facet of our new home...
As much as one tends to grumble about the swiftness of time, it is a blessing to be a part of it. Life seems rather fleeting for some and often we only get reminded of this, when we hear of some who don't get to experience life.
How long will it take for us to knuckle down and enjoy life instead of putting hurdles and obstacles in the path?
Oh, only when I am this / that/ or the other will I take the time to enjoy my life.Does that sound familiar? A plethora of self help books on my shelf and on bookstore's ones can attest to our modern problem of quite simply having none.
Let's face it, being separated from perfection, perfection geared towards societal norms ( although to be honest, how many women could be eligible to be arm candy accessories apart from that infamous 0,001 % ? ) is hardly a reason to put full stop on life. It shouldn't even be a little comma in our road to happiness.
Our modern obsession with being connected has swung the pendulum a bit too far. Facebook has many uses but often serves as a type of mirror. One of those mirrors of distortion we all visited at a country fair. Everything looks oh so perfect and makes us feel like the distorted image. Are we really that shallow and dare I say taken in?
A Monday morning is often a great start to some sort of resolution, denial or priority...well, I think the main goal for most of us should be a promise to be happy with what we have right now. To be happy for a chance to experience a sunrise. To be happy to hear the early morning bird serenade and be able to walk among it. Oh, and did I mention the fact that I am happy to have all those vital necessary bits....food, shelter, health and Bob to share it with!.