Waking up to white.
The weekly shop was much easier when Bob and I did it together. A team, with Bob organizing the driving, parking, placing goods on and off the conveyor belt and of course stowing all in the chariot. Biggi the bystander!
The tables have turned and as Bob is at work I tend to organize the shopping trips. Winter ones aren't my favourite as it involves schlepping 150 kg of pellets from the shelves into the car and off loading them at home. Yes, today I carried 450 kg at least...
But back to pensioner's day. The roads were devoid of ire, rage or haste and what a pleasure it was to meander along the curving roads to Unterwart. Obi, Fressnapf, Kika and Billa.
Obi was a bit of a challenge. Ah, their trolleys are a nightmare. I needed the bigger one and it won't steer the way one wants it too. In the end one of their staff gave me an insider tip...lead it like you would a sheep, next to you. Well, I traversed a few of Obi's isles with my trolley in tow. Loading the ten bags of pellets was okay ( the only downside to shopping with the older generation is that nobody offers to help due to bad back, legs, hips, knees or sight ) but leading a bucking trolley to the cashiers had me close to the end of my tether and many a customer hopping out of my way.
There was a special on Mausi's favourite food de jour and I pounced, buying 20 cans of Gourmet at half price which prompted the lady behind me to utter;
" Someone's getting spoiled ".if only she knew how much. Bob and I would be happy if she ate at least 10 of them. Yes, I can hear you but, she is our baby after all...
On the way back home I stopped at the Grosspetersdorf Garage because the front tires looked a bit deflated. They are a full service station or so I thought as now there is nobody there to help. The last time I checked any tire pressure was back in the 90's and I have no clue what to do with that funny machine. Conundrum indeed...but as luck would have it the owner of the garage had just popped in and heard my pleas. Or was he just being polite to an older woman?
The irony of it isn't lost on me. My generation who only heard of computers from the nerdy fringe element is now devoid of opportunities to put pen to paper. Literally. Even now my fingers follow my thoughts at outrageous speed across the keyboard which a few decades ago they did across the full scape pages of notebooks. At one time I even tried to learn shorthand but that didn't work out well.
Maybe a short shopping list which in any case I can never decipher in the shop due to unrecognizable squiggles, filling in my address at a meeting or writing a few names in my diary. Apart from that, writing long hand is an almost lost art. Until now!
My new quest is to write a page a day of nothing, everything or whatever material is close at hand, in order to be reacquainted with my longhand. Just now I sat at the kitchen table with a full scape writing block in front of me, a ball point pen and an old copy of The Economist. Eh, no, I didn't copy any earth-shattering economic news but had to contend myself with writing out an advertisement. The font of articles are very small indeed.
Wasn't it the best to write with a new fountain pen, sharpened pencil or fine ball point pen? Or learning to write in first grade between those three ( or was it four? ) lines. The f, j & g having to go below the line. Back then, who would have ever imagined a world where writing by hand is not required?
Another Monday morning, the same as last week and yet not so. Mondays seems to be our reset day. A day to start afresh or a day to bemoan the fates that make one have to go to work.
Some weeks are full of emotional episodes and last week didn't disappoint and as I set off this morning on my walk I did have the smallest little twinkling of " oh no, Monday. " until I started to smell the crisp fresh air, saw the blue blue sky and the beauty all around me. Often we forget to appreciate what we've got and this morning I walked in gratitude.
Noticing the fullness of a glass instead of an apparent emptiness is a skill learned like any other and once acquired this skill is akin to a toned body. It is an ongoing process. Well, there's my mission ahead.
I was reminded this morning on how good it is for the body and mind to walk daily. All I can say is that there's method to my madness...
Bob works during the week and I mostly tend to the shopping side of things but now and again Bob likes to have a go at shopping too. Obviously I don't cater to his love of chips, spicy sausages and breads. Nothing for it but to do it himself.
We knew that Tesco's was open today and with foresight we had a late big breakfast thus not salivating over the baked goods, breads and treats. One can always tell the ravenous lot...empty packets float among their groceries and breadcrumbs cling to the side of their mouths.
Hungarian is a difficult language to learn, understand never mind read. Some of Bob's work mates are Hungarian and they've taught Bob some words. No, not swearwords but numbers, greetings etc.
The aroma of real Hungarian sausage permeated the meat counter and there was no way back for Bob. He had to get some. Standing next to him I was so awed and proud of him when he introduced some of his Hungarian vocabulary into the conversation. The lady behind the counter was pleased and gave him a bigger one.
Bob with great care and pluckiness has picked his way through the linguistically challenged road. Today he mingled German with Hungarian and made me realize what a great man I've married...
A trip to the bakery was out of the question but my yearning for something resembling cake was unabated. There was still a packet of strudelteig in the fridge and that clinched the deal. One can find culinary intelligentsia that can transform flour and co into a perfect strudelteig alas not here. Pretend homemade stuff will do just fine!
Strudelteig, tick, apples ehh? Bob and I are blessed with a fruit orchard behind the barn and despite it being less than a month to Christmas a few stray apples had kept themselves ready for me.
Equipped with warm jacket and bowl I headed to the back garden avidly followed by a pair of feline eyes from the window sill. Enough red apples were dangling defiently on branches and were easy pickings for me.
Apples peeled, drawn and quartered landed in a pot joined by some dainty raisins to slow cook for a bit. The dough was as easy as pie to handle and from pot to oven tray took less than half an hour. A bit of butter on the edges and in it went. Bob came home early from work and I could surprise him with the wonderful aroma of apple pie baking in the oven. I know it's frowned upon to say it, but it felt good to be at home baking waiting for my husband to come home from work...
If I didn't have front row seats I wouldn't have believed it. After a doctor's run we stopped for the obligatory groceries at the local shop. Milk, bread and lotto was on the cards with the odd impulse buy thrown in. My perch is outside and when I see them shuffling closer to the till I rush in to carry the bag. A heavy one today.
But a bit earlier I was chatting outside to our local electrician when a lady parked her car in the middle of the driveway leading to the extra parking. To be fair, most locals ( me too ) park happily somewhere on the road and in peak times it can be an obstacle course to drive past. Well, as she parked her car in a devil may care attitude ( or she was inundated with housewifely thoughts of organizing lunch ) another lady had to park her car elsewhere and threw the most peeved look. Never mind that every one knows everyone else and often from cradle onward.
She noisily put her car into reverse without realizing that the object of her anger wasn't even aware of her parking crime. The electrician I was talking to, quickly ( as men do ) diffused the situation in the best way possible.
" Hey, you better reverse your car. You are blocking the driveway. "Meanwhile the seething lady parked along the road and stormed into the shop while doing continuous anti aging facial exercises with her eyebrows.
Of course the devilish park'er merely shrugged her shoulders and giggled. I tell you something, standing outside a village shop can be most enthralling and for the cherry on top, at least two gentlemen offered to open the door for me and seemed dashed when I continued to stand outside waiting...
I was in Güssing this morning to do a shop and also to look in on one of our villagers who is whiling the time away at local old age home. As you know, visiting and running the gambit of reminders that we all'll have to age someday isn't for the faint of heart. Nothing like the fun I remember watching on " Golden Girls " back in the day. Wasn't it brilliant and funny while making one look forward to graying temples, stretch pants, adventures and spare time galore?
The lady I was going to visit had moved into a newly built section of the home ( yes, the one industry that's recession proof ) and despite asking for direction I got lost. My brain shut off when they were halfway through directions because I thought I knew... listening is a skill indeed. Wondering along the long drawn out corridors of the home I couldn't help but notice the divine wall art.
Sporadically placed, a whole entourage of old black and white photographs were mounted on the walls. Obviously enlarged but nevertheless, it was so lovely to slowly make my way to the right room. There were depictions of families in the 1930's, youth club year photo of 1966 and numerous visual stories told of a hard life lived.
If they were donated by family of the various guests I am not sure or perhaps these folks hold historical value. There is nothing nicer than to look at an old photograph and imagine the life lived, the joys experienced and the hardships overcome. What an absolutely fabulous idea.
When I eventually found my lady it turned out that she was suffering from a sore tooth and couldn't talk much. As it was obvious that it wasn't a good day to visit I stayed a short while and then left. Oh yes, you guessed it...on the way out I dawdled along the other side of the corridor stepping for a few moments into another era.
As scrumptious as all those walnuts are that is if one bothers to pick them up off the ground, the revenge of their leaves leaves nothing to be desired. Good gracious me... how many can there be?
My mind had it all mapped out. After breakfast I took my rake ( no, not Bob ) and a big green gardening bag and drove to my rendezvous with a blanket of leaves. I had an inkling that the neighbours over there would have come knocking pretty soon. Any old wind tends to deposit many a leave in their gardens. They are so precise as it is and use scissors instead of a lawnmower.
Last year one of them demanded that Bob takes the leaves off the garage roof, a roof not safe to crawl on. No no, we drew the line and chose to drive the other way when we saw him. Luckily for us he has a personalized number plate and is easy to avoid.
I was sure that today would perhaps take two or three bag-runs. Stuff the bag to the rim and carry it about 100 meters to the compost heap in the back of the property. By the fifth time I took off my jacket and promised myself to stop after the eighth.
Who doesn't like to see another person labouring away? Various villagers drove past and they looked pretty happy that it wasn't them having to scrap those stubborn leaves about. One guy drove past a few times because he's never seen me work so hard! Jeez, what a workout. Eight trips to the compost heap turned into 14 and that's were I downed tools. I was finished after two hours of solid power gardening. Truth be told, a few more bags could easily be filled but enough is enough.
Gardening is serious business indeed. Even now, I can feel every muscle complaining and begging me not to go back too soon to do rest of the walnut leaves. Country living, what a blast...
Isn't it funny how we ( or maybe just me ) tend to feel that we'll run out of food over the weekend or more specifically, run out of snacks. A lazy Saturday reading or watching romantic movies does require that certain something. Chocolates are too normal and cakes too laboursome, but a packet of crisps wouldn't go amiss.
Nothing even remotely like it hiding anywhere in the cupboards and yes, I mean hiding as over time I've learnt to hide the culinary contrabands in the strangest of places. Mostly Bob doesn't find them ( they are in hiding because of him ) and often I forget as well. Nothing worse than finding a long lost stale packet of crisps.
So off I went to the shop in Deutsch Schützen for the weekend essentials and I should pat myself on the back for having forsaken the slightly bigger supermarket further out. Much easier to say no to perhaps ten junk food options beckoning from a shelf as to deny basket space to any one of the hundred temptations residing in supermarkets.
Oh it was a treat at the local shop. Saturday has its own rhythm and order. Shopping tends to be of less importance and whilst I was waiting in the bread queue I was asked whether Bob and I hail from the same country as that Mumgumbo somebody or other that has been mentioned in the news. No, that's one over from where we lived.
On the way driving into the village I happened to spy with my little eye the one morsel of food that my husband would flip out over. Many a times I've steered him away from it when we drove past
" Oh, look over there, a bird. "but today, I thought I might spoil him with my culinary ideas.
One Saturday a month, a little caravan is parked next to the Lagerhaus and draws many a client. The Grilled Chicken Truck was advertising its wares a street back already. They must have a fan to waft the aromas about. Grilled chicken, yum. After leaving the shop, I headed straight for chicken central and bought a whole chicken, read to eat...
I didn't even have to show the packet to Bob as I got home because it pied pipered him into the kitchen the minute I stepped through our front door. Mausi too caught a whiff and was excitingly dashing figures of eight on the kitchen floor. The chicken was a hit, and will have to be repeated sometime soon.
Reading any novel which depicts times before a big historically correct disaster makes me sometimes want to shout out loud:
" Can't you see the writing on the wall? "and it scares me a little bit to think that in the future some student will think:
" How could they've not seen it coming? "
A painting, even if it is a masterpiece shouldn't be worth almost half a billion dollars. At a time where so many are suffering from hunger, homelessness and poverty, it's unbelievable that one individual has enough spare cash to buy a painting with a price tag of 450 million dollars. The world is out of kilter because many other individuals could easily have paid that price tag but perhaps wisely chose to stay out of the limelight.
For those who have it, a lifestyle to make The Great Gatsby blanch in envy is second nature. Some are clever enough to keep under the radar but others are foolish enough to show off to the masses via social media and I can't help but wonder if it has any similarity to Marie Antoinette being driven in her golden coach waving a diamond laden hand disdainfully at the starving masses outside the palace gates?
The world is out of kilter and the reckless 1%'s think that they are untouchable but there's always that notorious last straw. Across the pond the 1%'s have just been give a pay rise via a tax cut which the masses might actually have to work and pay for...
One can't help but wonder whether the French Revolution would have happened if Marie Antoinette had traded in some of her jewels and treasures to buy bread for the masses.
A scene from The Godfather kept flashing through my mind and at times last night, while sleeping with one eye open, I was almost expecting the head of a newly departed rodent next to me on my pillow.
It was a long and rowdy night at our house. An old house occupied by a slightly less than young couple has a set of noises that might be irritating but are routine and one gets well versed in them. A creek here, a squeak there with the odd cough in between. Last night, a high pitched squeak followed a rumbustious heavy tread of Mausi trying to track every move a mouse was making. As elegant as she can be, once the scent of prey hits her nostrils, she morphs into a ferocious predator getting ready for the kill or in her case, the thrill of tormenting a tiny mouse all over our house.
Bob was almost asleep when the sound of the battle being played out got through to him. Like any husband would, he said;
" Can't you keep her quiet? Go and take the mouse from her. "
If an agile feline can't quite get her teeth stuck in a delicious mouse, how on earth could I ever run interference and take her toy from her? Good gracious me, next Bob will have me climb the walls to catch a spider...
Intermittently throughout the night I heard the squeak sometimes closer and sometimes further away from me. All I prepared myself for was the inevitable offering that might land on my head, pillow or chest. Believe me, I was ready to jump but eventually I drifted off into the pre dawn deep sleep and only awoke to the alarm clock annoyingly beeping away.
As Bob woke up I told him to be careful because there was a mouse on the loose. He who can sleep through thunder and lightning had of course rested extremely well and as he walked to the bathroom, he saw our princess sitting in front of a tiny lifeless body. Sensing a heavy parental tread she picked the tiny mouse up with her mouth, growled like crazy and was in the process of schlepping it under the bed to safety when both she and I were startled by the voice of reason and authority.
" Drop that mouse NOW ! "Unbelievably, the princess sat back, dropped the dead mouse and let Daddy take it away ( to dispose of out the front door ) and seemed stunned to say the least. Leave it to Mummy to praise her for keeping us safe from a mouse ( it had at least 3 cm in length ) and to ensure further feline protection in the future...
Mausi has been exhausted but somehow content and has been sleeping the day away not even bothering to eat...
My mum said it would be cold and how right she was. Minus five this morning and I guess it was similar in Deutsch Schützen. They are afflicted with much more fog and dampness than we in the neighbouring tropics of Eisenberg. Minus five is a sure sign that any hopes of Autumn outstaying its welcome have been dashed.
For those of you, who perhaps I count lucky at the moment, living in sunny South Africa, this unique car accessory might not have much importance for you. Bob usually leaves at about half past seven and today the world was white, icy and opaque. Icy mornings translate to a layer of ice covering the whole windscreen of one's car. Bob's work van being no exception.
It was rubbish collection day today and I was taking out the rubbish when I espied Bob scraping the sleeve of his jacket across the windscreen. Well done to Bob for embracing a colder environment with such aplomb...that is until I saw him about to drive off with a small circle to see out of his window. No no no no I thought and resolutely stood in front of the car to stop him. Rather dangerous in case he hadn't seen me or in case he had!!! Most mornings I see the look in his eyes that says one thing only: nag
Last week after having a winter check done on our car, the garage gave me a present to say thank you. An ice scraper elegantly wrapped into a warm glove. At the time I wondered about that but this morning the penny dropped. As I rushed to get it from our car in order to use it across Bob's windscreen, I was in heaven when my cold hand slipped into this woollen glove, thus keeping my fingers nice and toasty while clearing Bob's windscreen.
He hasn't told me yet, but I am sure he was thrilled to see all around and at no cost of fingers sticking to glass, fingers freezing or scraper not working...the last one we had was the one used to clean the bath tiles after a shower...Pree- garage for making wintry car excursions more comfortable.
When the season ended last March I couldn't envisage that in what seems like a blink of an eye the next season's upon us. Alpine skiing has kicked off and kicked off fabulously with my guy winning. Go Felix! Yeah, one of my favourite sports to watch on tv and my enthusiasm has rubbed off on Bob as he can be quite keen to follow races but of course he prefers to watch the women ski!
There are usually one or two races that overlap with our other favourite tv-sport...Formula 1. Juggling both can be rather tricky but since I've got wind of Hamilton's financial interlude in paradise, my enthusiasm for Formula One has waned a bit. Maybe if he voluntarily gave a slice of paradise back to the state coffers, I might feel more sporty again. Dear me, whatever happened to the gentlemen's code? It will be interesting to see who's named next.
Yes yes, I know I sound naive but where does this collective greed end? A lot of ordinary folks are battling to keep a roof over their family's head, pay school fees and medical aid by working several jobs hoping to get some help from their government. ( Ironic that it again is an apple that leads many of us into temptation. Have you ever wondered how much less you'd buy if you had to physically walk to the shops? ) . And you guessed it, an apple features in the paradise papers too.
But back to sport. Bob and I spent almost the whole of Sunday watching sports. As fast and exciting as Formula 1 is, at times a 60 second race down a steep slalom course is more exciting. Never mind the Downhill races!
There is one more Formula 1 race left and then the season of snow, speed and couch dwelling can begin.
Rechnitz was my chosen port of supermarket call and mainly for the princess. There is a Spar and god forbid they run out of food, a Billa right next door. Door hopping has been acquired by yours truly. Yikes, am I approaching that age already although in my defence I don't drag coupons, calculator nor magnifying glasses with me.
Spar has a 25 % discount on all their pet food today and seeing that our child is so well versed in sniffing out even an ounce of questionable grade meat, the joys of giving her cheap morsels is denied to us. Believe me, Bob's tried every trick in the book including the old bait and switch, although the plucky little thing'd rather show ribs than leniency.
Having almost cleared out the shelf of choice and only buying these items, I couldn't help mentioning to the cashier;
" Alles für die Katz! "which at least gave her a moment of levity on a Friday morning.
My main shop was done next door at Billa. Wheeling a trolley about puts me into the zone. The happy zone interspersed with self denial zone. Many an item has been taken in and out of the trolley whilst I mentally counted the various treats I'd like to eat. When I got to the meat counter I already knew what would occupy the soup pot. Pot luck a la Biggi...A big piece of beef is already stewing happily surrounded by root vegetables of all sorts.
The butcher was circulating checking his wares and I set the cat among the pidgons when I asked him if he had any cold cuts sans nitrates!
He and his ladies behind the counter hadn't hear of the nitrate cover up and by the barely repressed eye-roll, I could almost hear them put me into the nutter category. Anyway, I tootled along to the cheese display when the butcher got me.
" Look here young lady, this definitely hasn't got any nitrates. I made it myself this morning. Cevapcici. They only take a few minutes on each side. "Oh well, Bob deserves a treat and when he gave me 50% off, the deal was sealed. ( meat discounted...I better not have any in case I need to take Bob to the doc's )
Finally, after eons of meandering up and down the isles of temptations I had managed to put my footprint on the conveyor belt. Bob's the grand master of arranging the items and as he likes to do things just so, I feel rather at sea when I am shopping on my own. Too many balls to juggle. These cashiers are fast and I could have used an extra hand to put the bought items into the trolley while at the same time observing the till display.
Supermarkets all over are so very fond of offering discounts, two for the price of one and of course the special de jour. But, the money is often lost in translation as the computerized till is always the last to know.
Today, eagle eyed Biggi earned two euros eighty. Tschibo had a special on their Black & White coffee. One 500g packet costs 5,39 while two 500g packets bought together drops the price to 3,99 each. Ha, they didn't take it off and yes, I asked the cashier to double check. She even went to the coffee section to look. Ah, it was the fine print that did it. The special only ran for ground coffee and not beans...Of course as they didn't have any ground coffee there, she kindly gave me my discount. It pays to hold up the line.