Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Coaxing Bob Through A Cold Winter.

Do you think that a ruse is akin to a fib?

It's not as if I am professing to having had a harder childhood than today's youth, but memories abound of having to go on leisurely walks up the Bavarian mountain paths with family...leisurely for whom begs to be questioned. Gosh, back then the adults were ecstatic at the thought of walking up a mountain path for an hour or two only to have to return the same way.

Something must have registered back then, as I now adore walking...but at eight,nine or ten, fondness looked different than my sit ins in the middle of the path when I had enough of walking. One thing I recall vividly was the ever present promise of the end of the walk being just around the next corner...removed by ten, more like it.

Compare that to the hardship of today's youth, which might involve their parents switching off the wifi...our lot had to spend family time outside, ambling up a mountain path, playing table tennis or a game of canasta...gosh, we were lucky after all.

As for coaxing the Bobster along, it has a touch of just around the corner about it. Bob being a man from warmer climes it makes him a touch cranky when faced with winter. The first few days are fine, but then he goes through a liturgy of wintry complaints. The cold being his main one. Fair enough.

Trying to be a good wife and at the same time cutting off the numerous

" Oh my gosh, it is so %$#&$ cold! "
which after a while does grate on one's nerves, I have applied a true and tested method my mum used on me back in my stubborn phase of sitting on the path in protest to a leisurely Sunday walk.
" Bob, I heard (!) that the weather will turn sunny and warm next week. "

He almost saw through my little fib, but he did seem a bit more resigned to his last week of cold weather...so far I've tried it twice and perhaps this ruse has a few more tries in it...although, this winter it might be a hard sell as we are experiencing the coldest winter in thirty years.


Monday, 30 January 2017

A Cold Monday Morning.

Naturally following a cave like Sunday.

The bears do know how to overcome a cold winter...hibernation. Yesterday saw us do just that. Winter means skiing, eh, not by us but the experts that we can vicariously live through on the telly. There were two extremely exciting races and the first one kicked off at just after ten.

To early for me to go for a walk and that set the tone for the rest of this divinely lazy Sunday. A warm cozy blanket, breakfast done and dusted, cat on lap and TV set on the right channel. Just knowing that there were hours more ahead made it special. There were the odd moments of industrious activities punctuating the bubble of ultra laziness...making tea, lunch and the must staple of a day at home, snacks. Yes, in our household that meant numerous games of rock paper, scissors.

Not doing much of anything is a good way to unwind and recharge for the week ahead. Along the way of extreme consumerism, the use of Sundays has been changed to one of stuffing everything you didn't have time to do and buy during the week into that one day.

The Austrian way of closing shops on Saturday afternoon until Monday morning ( yes, there are exceptions of course ) is great and changes one's constant belief that shopping is as necessary as breathing. Not at all. You'd be surprised how easy it is to not shop on a weekend. Not to mention the fact that you save oodles of dosh.

In the past, Sunday was a day to go to a mega shopping center firstly in the guise of a good fry-up breakfast ( which was nice as we spent it with family ) but then, replete with an English breakfast, the shops were visited. Somehow, the maze of mega shopping centers makes it jolly difficult to resist the breadcrumbs of window displays along the way to the exit. It used to be that Las Vegas casinos held the monopoly of confusing one in finding the exit, but now shopping centers have followed suit.

If you've never tried a Sunday of nothings ( not merely because you are still suffering the aftereffects of a night out ), put it into your calendar. Get enough snacks, books or movies lined up and be surprised at how good it feels to not put this ubiquitous consumer tainted straight jacket on...


Sunday, 29 January 2017

An Austen Sunday.

Genius lasts forever...Jane Austen quotes from her books and personal letters.

" Wisdom is better than wit and in the long run will certainly have the laugh on her side. "
" Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us. "
" Life seems just a quick succession of busy nothings. "
" A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as can be. "
" Men were put into the world to teach women the law of compromise. "
" Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions. "
" She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped. "
" Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope for a cure. "
" I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book. - When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library. "
" I am sorry to tell you that I am getting very extravagant, and spending all my money, and, what is worse for you, I have been spending yours too. "


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Prepping And Preening For The Ball.

...so far just the hall.

Today is the day for that annual Eisenberg Fireman's Ball and last night the finishing touches were made. During the week, the strong men from the Feuerwehr did the heavy lifting involved with setting up the many tables, chairs and cables. Bob had helped on Tuesday night and last night the girls were allowed to help...perhaps because of our sense of style?

Anyway, despite the minus - what felt like a thousand - degrees, many braved the cold to help. Rather a festive and social affair this getting together. Mingling is easier than at the ball itself and conversations are much better understood without the band playing. Although they were busy setting up which included a few soundchecks, and dare I say...yikes those were loud and had the occasional screetches.

Many hands do make light work and it took about an hour to do the final finishing touches and with each year the work becomes more innate without having to shadow the ladies in the know. Nothing worse than standing about fiddling your thumbs because you don't know where to apply them. Of course there were some who enjoyed spectating too.

To my mind, these pre-ball get together's are much more fun and help cement local relationships slowly but surely. During the ball ( I've been to last year's one ) the lights are dimmed, the music tres loud and unless one hangs onto the bar counter, the chair at the table is permanent for a good few hours. Conversing with the ear of your table neighbour does pale after a while not least because of the misunderstandings coupled with occasional spittle.

Last week saw the Deutsch Schützen Youth Ball which Bob attended ( it took us a few years to realize that youth wasn't a requirement for attending but denotes the hosts of it ) together with some new friends who are new to Eisenberg ( one has a girlfriend from here ) and the cool way of life.

Surprisingly, one of these new friends is a young man from South Africa and despite living in Vienna, he thought that last week's ball was the bee's knees and he should be there tonight as well...ah, another convert to the good life to be had in our part of Burgenland.


Friday, 27 January 2017

A Red Breasted Robin, Pretty As A Picture.

A backyard affair...

Coming home from my walk, this fellow was waiting for me and couldn't be bothered by anything at all.
In between posing rather professionally, he took leave to have a bite of cereal...as one does for breakfast.
Before seeing my little friend, I heard him and his bevy of feathery friends serenading while the sun was rising. Rather nice, isn't it?
The mystique ice over tree, a portal to many an Edgar Wallace story.
Despite being blessed with a bright yellow chest, this little bird paled in comparison with my red little friend.
Who knew that we'd have a hidden buddha on our doorstep....


Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Bit Of A Laugh Never Hurt.

A diversion from the news...

" He who laughs last, didn't get it. "
Helen Giangregorio
" I am going to stand outside. If anyone asks, I'm outstanding. "
" No man is truly married until he understands each word his wife is not saying. "
It's a funny thing that when a man hasn't got anything on earth to worry about, he goes off and gets married. "
Robert Frost
" I come from a really dangerous neighborhood. Once a guy pulled a knife on me.
I knew he wasn't a professional, the knife had butter on it. "
Rodney Dangerfield
" Some weasel took the cork out of my lunch. "
W.C. Fields
" She said she was approaching forty, and I couldn't help wondering from which direction. "
Bob Hope
" It only takes one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth.
George Burns
" Married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die. "
Johnny Carson
" Whatever you look like, marry a man your own age-as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight. "
Phyllis Diller


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Who Doesn't Like Peanuts?

They are more than merely a staple in smokey bars.

Traversing the whole village has made me astounded that the best peanut product, peanut butter is far from popular and in fact many go " uuugh " at the mere mention of it. Personally I think they've never tried it and the loop continues.

Reading up on the history of the mighty peanut, it transpired that Mr Kellogg ( yes, he of the cornflakes fame ) made the first batch of peanut butter in America, and more importantly made it popular. The jury is still out if it wasn't the ancient Incas who first made this yummy food, but it's difficult to prove...

History of the Peanut.

There are so many divine combinations of peanut butter. On sandwiches with jelly ( jam ), bacon and Bob's grammelschmalz that I find it a shame that nobody is keen to at least try it. Solo.

During both World Wars, American soldiers ate mainly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as it was a fantastic source of protein and nourishment.

Coming in from the cold yesterday I was greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of fresh baking wafting about. " Real butter " baking that reminds one of childhood days. Baking with margarine just doesn't quite cut it in the aroma wafting about the house department. Not to mention the taste.

So, taking off my shoes ( the habit has thankfully taken ahold with us, as otherwise the floors would be covered in little puddles of melted brown snow ) I hurried to the source of this pleasurable experience and found a proud as punch Bob leaning against the stove.

And quite rightly so...the Bobster had a yearning for something sweet and just like that made a batch of peanut butter biscuits. A batch so divine that sadly only a few crumbs remain this morning. They tasted better than any store bought ones and once you've had homemade biscuits, the others pale in comparison...you'll just have to take my word for it!


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Wonderful Icy Day Spent Walking.

At least there were others...

I must say that I was rather surprised to see my walking group congregate at our meeting point. Can you believe that it was close to minus 15 yesterday morning? Yikes, I went, just in case they'd show up and gosh darn it, they did which saw me on my first bit of walking on thin ice.

Despite the biting cold I did enjoy the walk and decided to continue on foot for the rest of the day. Three different appointments to keep and at the end of the day I felt as if I'd put in a day at the gym. One could almost say I walked incognito with all the layers covering me. Sometimes with an unflattering beanie, but as hardly anyone was astir, not a problem.

The question of how to dress warmly is not that easy. Well, it is easy to put on a hundred different layers but bear in mind that most Eisenberg homes are as hot as a Sauna but thankfully the people stop at the shorts and t-shirt look. Coming in from the cold ( gosh, rather Le Carre-ish ) feels great for a minute until you start to sweat and discard layers upon layers of clothing. That is if you planned ahead for company and not merely for warmth.

Each to their own and all that, but constantly having an overly warm home is not really our thing. Isn't the point of winter to sit cuddled up under a blanket sipping a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa? Not to mention the enormous costs involved...there is no shame in walking around in a warm leisure assemble in your own home...leave the shorts and t-shirt look for summer.

Apart from the clothing dilemma, it felt fantastic to brave the elements. During the day it warmed to a cloudy minus 3-4 and the main roads were free of ice. Only the little by lanes were still covered in the slippery stuff although they had a liberal sprinkling of pebbles on them. Mostly half frozen over but gripping nonetheless.

For my last expedition into Eisenberg I knew my return trip would be in the dark and I was quite proud of myself for having remembered to take a torch with me. Walking yesterday felt good and it reminded me of how for centuries villagers walked about. It's only us lazy lot who've got the benefit of motorized transport...A luxury that most of us take for granted.


The pond sporting a rather romantic look.

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Timeless Wisdom Of The Ancient.

A few eons ago.

" Misfortune show who are not really friends. "
Aristotle ( 384 BC to 322 BC )
" A happy life consists in tranquility of mind. "
Cicero ( 106 BC to 43 BC )
" Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. "
Confucius ( 551 BC to 479 BC )
" Afflicted by love's madness all are blind. "
Propertius Sextus ( ca. 50 BC to 16 BC )
" Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternatives. "
Marcus Porcius Cato ( 95 BC- 45 BC )
" The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage. "
Thucydides ( ca. 450 BC )
" Wait for that wisest of counselors. Time. "
Pericles ( 490 BC to 429 BC )
" He who confers a favour should at once forget it, if he is not to show a sordid ungenerous spirit. "
Demosthenes ( 384 BC to 322 BC )


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Another Wonderfully Icy Sunday Morning In Burgenland.

A sub zero walk in Eisenberg.

The first chance I got was halfway through my walk...taking the gloves off to take photos can be rather painful. At minus 9 degrees, it only takes a minute to lose feeling in your fingers.
A layer of ice instantly adds another layer of mystique and pulchritude to even the simplest things like trees.
There is something so comforting about seeing a stacked pile of wood. Even more amazing to see that no pilfering occurs despite the coldness of the season. Nice.
The lane between Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen has been planted with a row of birches. Their white bark mingles very well with the blue of the sky and the glittering of the coating of ice.
On Sundays these newspaper vending machines are put up all over the village. As you can see, it assumes that one is honest. Put the money in and take the newspaper out...rather amazing, isn't it?
Finally, back at home, in our front garden this beautiful and very tame red breasted robin was awaiting...even posing for photos.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

When Eisenberg Freezes Over.

Life slows down.

The slew of ice continues and the roads have gotten another layer of the shiny stuff. Last night the Bobster and I were invited to our neighbour's birthday party and ventured forth on foot, daring the layers of ice meeting us along the way to get the better of us. Close at times but no match for our cunning display of survival....Sturdy shoes ( that somehow got more attention then the ever present pretty footwear the trendy bunch wear at the party ) and a torch!

Earlier, in the quest of earning a few bob, I braved two separate iced over hills with the chariot. Gosh, darn and yikes, a true test of my courage and fortitude...at one stage I parked the car on an even piece of ice, got out to lock it and noticed it rolling back...a quick re-manoeuvring coupled with a prayer.

Someone said last night that the temperature would hit minus 16 during the night, and honestly, if it hadn't been for my own personalized hot water bottle ( a.k.a. Mausi ) the night would have been shivering affair.

This morning it is delightfully sunny with clear skies...more ice. For the last few weeks Bob and I have been looking forward to the Kitzbühel Classic and in three hours it starts. A downhill alpine skiing competition that takes your breath away when you see the difficulty of it. Over three kilometers of steep, icy piste skied on waxed skies which give the skiers up to 140 kph! This run really separates the men from the boys...I've posted a clip for you to have a look.


Friday, 20 January 2017

And Then There's Always Candy Crush.

A companion on important days.

The times they are a-changing and being a little bit unsettled isn't unheard of. Especially today, when the " new leader of the free world " is sworn into office, a changer of thoughts is more than welcome. You know, we can't all smoke an endless supply of cigarettes nor drink and endless amount of alcohol as the sun's still up and it would be a tad bit unseemly.

Brilliant how the makers of CandyCrush have garnered the market of having 100 % of our attention. Without it, most of your friends do surge ahead in this game of skill, luck and levels. Bob and I play it on our computer and no, not all day long ( not because of self control but due to a lack of lives in the game ) and this morning it did the job of making me forget the events of the day ahead.

A decade ago the game of alternate reality was the ubiquitous Solitaire played on a computer. Facebook was still in nappies and one more or less competed with oneself in the aptly called Solitaire. A delightful way to while the time away.

Go back another decade or so, and Solitaire was played in the traditional way, which had endured for centuries...with two packs of cards, a table and only a glass of wine for company. Hours and hours of fun.

Today, History is etching another page to its long list of events and we are witnessing it from the comfort of our armchairs and sadly a lot of us will not learn from past events of history as most of us don't take the time to read up on the lessons learned in the past.

I was thankfully given the chance to read an article about President Obama and his love of reading and how reading helped him navigate the stressful times in office more calmly and more importantly without rash response or judgement.

New York Times article: Obama's secret to surviving the White House years.

What today might lead to, is still a blank page in the annals of history and unless we start to read about history, we are on course to repeat it.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

A Grammelschmalz & Peanut Butter Sandwich.

A South African challenges the culinary staples of Burgenland.

Let's be honest, most of you who have only read about our bit of paradise, also known as Burgenland, have never tried Grammelschmalz. Or have you?

A slice of rye bread, topped with lashings ( some Buschenschanks tend to err on the side of caution and only put a hint of it on the bread ) of Grammelschmalz and decorated with thinly sliced raw red onion rings, makes the perfect addition to a delightful glass of chilled Grüner Veltliner. Harmonious and useful at the same time. Definitely helps defray the effects of too many Achtels.

What might Grammelschmalz be? Well, it is tasty melted pork fat mingled with bacon bits and a eaten as sort of a sandwich spread. Believe me, it has the makings of manna thus naturally making it addictive which tends to be the reason we only buy it now and again.

Once an older Eisenberg resident told me that after the 2nd world war when times we so very tough, how envious she was of a kid who took Grammelschmalz sandwiches to school. In hard times, food trumps possessions.

Monday saw a container of it fall into our shopping trolley and two guesses who engineered this event. As I love it too, I pretended not to notice. Not noticing is a great trait in a marriage at times.

About ten minutes after getting home from our shopping expedition into Grosspetersdorf, we ravenously fell upon our purchases. Honestly, who doesn't? I saw Bob take out the Grammelschmalz and the peanut butter and couldn't believe my eyes when he paired the two together onto a slice of crusty rye bread...at least he didn't add slices of red raw onion to it!

It seems to hit all his taste buttons at once as since Monday there hasn't been a day without this combo sandwich. Will they offer it in Buschenschanks? Possibly not and for two reasons...Burgenlanders aren't into peanut butter plus eating it makes your palate stick together and it might not be such fun to carry on in conversation or taste the divine wines of our region.

Let me know what you think once you've tried it...


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Code Name, Roller Coaster.

A hair raising adventure ride in the vineyards.

Wasn't there a song with the words; "...I should've know better..." and that would have been the most apt description. Even my mum had advised me to get a trusty ( and in her words better coping ) driver, a.k.a. The Bobster. Next time, for sure.

It's not as if we've got a lot of snow but the bit that we've had and been having has had a few days to melt and freeze over and over again. Not very conducive for friction. None at all. Even walking tends to be fraught with such perilous danger that one might as well don ice skates.

Yesterday I had an appointment in the vineyards and as luck would have it, the upper parts of it. Just as all roads lead to Rome, so all roads to the top of the vineyards are steep. Normally not a problem, but in icy times a big problem.

I left early to get there having worked out a different and hopefully salted route to it. Mostly fine apart from long stretches of pure ice on the main road there. Going uphill and feeling the car losing grip accompanied by a slight slide downwards has its moments.

Mere meters from the place I was going to I just about faced a downward ride to Höll or rather slide. Twenty meters of pure iced downhill road, without any chance of grip. Trying to work out the best parts of the road to use, I stalled the car and that had my heart rate jump a notch or two. A ton of steel on an icy slope...Quickly restarting the engine and slowly inching forward, I luckily managed to park the car on the side of the road of where I had to be.

One would think that was enough, but remember, everything is iced and handbrakes don't work at the moment. The car was parked on bits of ice near the pavement, yet it wasn't 100 % straight. Conundrum, as in my minds eye ( ever the optimist ) I saw our chariot going on a solo joyride all over the vineyards. The man of the house was kind enough to lend me a log of wood and even put it under the back tyre. At least a bit of mental relief.

Two hours later, I needed to return home and as it was dark already I knew that more iced surfaces were awaiting me and a lady who I gave a lift into Deutsch Schützen. The whole way, the car was never put into more than second gear though mostly just in first.

How does one go down an iced hill road and still stop at the bottom, without rolling into a major busy road? Yikes, that was a hair raising lesson indeed...what have I learned?

Don't go out when ice is about.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Could You Manage Being Snowed In For A Week?

With only your other half for company?

Obviously there would be enough food, TV and books but no Wi-Fi. Sadly, the latter could be a deal breaker as the addiction to anything online is almost unbreakable and there might be a few spouses walking miles through snow albeit with shoes trying to get an internet reception, rather than spending precious time snowed in.

Our modern lives are so inundated with socializing, be it in real or pretend life, that we often forget or sadly don't even know our spouses anymore. Getting enough likes and shares from acquaintances, school friends not seen since school, and newly minted online friends seems to be more important than finding out how a day at work went.

It might be interesting to find out if since the advent of social media more couples have split up? For lack of common interests which can quickly disappear if not nurtured. Even something so normal as eye contact is being neglected by constantly looking down at a Smartphone to make a well construed off the cuff ( a new oxymoron ? ) contribution to someone's conversation.

Isn't it strange that once you've befriended folks on Facebook, you tend to know most ( only the shiny bits ) of their lives yet, when you see them in town or at a function, they are perilously close to being strangers. Often, I wonder if I should go up to them and say:

" Nice photo / well done / what were you thinking? "

Back to spending a week snowed in...wouldn't that be fantastic? Reading, eating, talking and in some cases re-meeting a spouse. Holidays away are well and good, but incorporating a week of doing nothing in your own four walls, might be a much better way to recharge the batteries of your soul not to mention getting those bits of yourself back that are constantly hooked into the nebulous web.

How on earth do kids manage today? They are never without a Smartphone and even have it next to them at night. Exhaustion must be the new norm...Sad.


Monday, 16 January 2017

A Return To A Simpler Lifestyle.

The world at large isn't that appealing anymore.

At the moment it feels as if a layer of at best confusion and at worst ugly deception has changed our outlook on life. Be it real or made to be imagined, is still a mystery.

It is quite naive of me to say it, but somehow the lack of reading more than a tweet or a social media entry has paved the way for many misleading thoughts, ideas and information to be infused into the daily media diet of the Smartphone generation.

Before the advent of Googling everything, one had to make the effort to read the different opinions to various subjects or ideas. Which is how it should be. It helped to shape our brains into more than malleable material. There was also not such a vast amount of information trying to fight for a space in our minds.

Since this rather less than diplomatic recent presidential election and the consequent constant coverage of the goings on in the political landscape over yonder, I've started to change channels as soon as a newscast begins. Goodness gracious me, there are other more important things in the world than to have to look at tweets.

Suddenly, the world at large has taken second place to the world at and in our home. Feelings of gratitude and contentment are resurfacing with aplomb. Spending time at home is making a fashionable comeback.

Switching off the ubiquitous input of news, be it old style through turning off the TV or by switching off the Smartphone, has made space for that all important feeling of happiness. Our minds and brains weren't meant to be mini computers that store just about every information one could imagine. At first it was fun reading all those posts on social media but it has turned out to be extremely tiring and it's no wonder so many are suffering from stress and burn out.

We can't save the whole world, but by making our own little bit in it happy, content and loved, perhaps ironically that might save whole world after all.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Snow Caught All Of Us By Surprise,

A white weekend.

Friday morning started off rather warmish, that being about zero, and not a bit of snow in sight. The all knowing Bob did suggest that I take a raincoat with me, but it didn't look like rain to me.

I should have known better as he is usually right ( psst, don't tell him ) and not even ten minutes into my walk the first drops started to change the colour of my jacket. Often that is the only way one notices rain. Anyway, I wasn't so much worried about the rain itself as more about what it would do to the lanes, coupled with wintry temperatures. Slippery slopes.

When Bob walked with me on Thursday he chose a walk in the forest and I thought, that I'd do the same to avoid the rain. Sans breadcrumbs I found my way home and am rather proud of it. Before you scoff, remember that Burgenland would be much better named Forestland. Forests everywhere and even on my short walk in it, a herd of deer gracefully crossed in front of me.

As I came out of the forest I met a local man tending to his beehives and as is normal, I stopped and chatted. The universe tends to send the little reminders rather promptly and timely. Lately yours truly had been shortening the distance walked not to mention the days.

Well, this local octogenarian walks 10 km each and every day, usually at 5 in the morning. He has done it most of his life, having been on border patrol way back when. By the way, his health is akin to a man thirty years his junior. No more excuses.

From the time I got home, it had continued to rain and when the temperature dropped a bit, the rain turned white and literally within two hours, the village was covered in snow...

It just kept falling and turning a dull wintry landscape into a magical winter wonderland. Later in the afternoon I had an appointment in Deutsch Schützen and braved driving in the snow. The roads were treacherous and hadn't been ploughed at all which had me inch along the main road in second gear and still feel the odd slip and slide.

When I got home it took me two attempts to get our chariot back into its garage as the little slope in front of our house didn't provide much grip. Talk about a wheel spin...


Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Divine Dusting Of Snow Over Eisenberg.

Burgenland is cloaked in a splendid layer of snow.

A barn in Eisenberg, simple, stunning and fabulous. A picturesque backside to our village.
A delightful white vine...there is something so magical once mere twigs and branches are covered in a white heavenly dust.
The vines next to the leaning man on the ladder. He still catches me by surprise...surprisingly.
The sun is waking up and making mere snow twinkle like diamonds.
As I took this photo the wind made an appearance and if you look carefully, you can see a dusting of snow descending from the tree branches.
A photo can't nearly do justice to the still beauty this view has. A poet's source of inspiration, a place to contemplate and definitely a place to be thankful...


Friday, 13 January 2017

Feeling Slightly British...

You are what you read...

There is nothing nicer than if your other, better or younger half also loves reading and conversely, it is a tad difficult if they don't. As I've had a relationship once where he didn't see the point of reading, the first thing I asked Bob when we met, was if he liked reading...and the rest is history!

Once either of our noses are stuck in a book the other doesn't get offended when answers are terse, leaning towards non existent. Sign language comes to the fore and nods coupled with grunts suffice.

What I've noticed recently is that Bob, as soon as I turn on the sign language, picks up his book and reads on the other couch. Rather quaint and fitting in winter with the roar of the oven being the only noise and our Mausi having a pick of two delightful laps to snuggle on. In fact, she's rather fond of books too as she rubs her little face in ecstasy against the cover.

The most used and useful hand signal in our marriage is the Rock Paper Scissors decision as it magically gets cups of tea, dinners and dishes made. I fear that we look like a couple of extras in Flintstones when we sit, grunt and make fists...

Christmas has been jolly kind to us and we've stepped out and ordered a few books. Cunningly, I let Bob order from his stash first, knowing I'd have plenty of material to read after he's read them. The only fear when he ordered was that the fantasy genre would take center stage ( really not my thing ) but luckily he is on a mystery, thriller bender and thus a murderous feast awaits me.

My new favourite British city is Brighton...oh yes, Peter James has me glued to the goings on there. Goodness me, but he is addictive. Bob's slavilshly following Lynda La Plante and that has both of us feeling British.

Yesterday I got home late from extra lessons and how divine to be greeted by the aroma of baking wafting throughout the house...Bob had made a batch of scones, which we both love. He later admitted to feeling a bit let down as their wasn't any cream to whip up and plum and red wine jam had to suffice for the strawberry variety he loves. Ah, the good life...!


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Ambulating With My Husband.

No, no, it's not as naughty as it sounds!

When he assented to a walk yesterday morning, you could have knocked me over with a feather. It was the coldest day so far and at minus 16, a bit of a marital poser. Was it a mere bluff on his part and was he hoping to deter me with little comments of the coldness outside?

Turning a deaf ear to his hints at the iciness outside, I called his bluff and therefore the two of us were perambulating about the neighbourhood. The roads were iced over and we chose the forest path instead which was a bit less treacherous. The first kilometer was so cold that we hardly spoke but trotted along to get feeling back into our gloved fingers and multi socked feet. Madness indeed.

After half an hour, feeling returned and the odd sun ray warmed a patch of our exposed cheeks and we could even converse without having our lungs freeze. Rather a nice start to our morning. In fact, I loved it.

We did the Eisenberg lower Weinberg circular route and on the return arc, it was brought home to me that Bob might actually be Irish...as he's got the luck of them. It was the first day that he has gone for a stroll in a year or so ( the other night when he walked home, was more incidental ) and a few of his friends were standing on the pavement as we passed.

Naturally, they were mightily impressed that Bob was walking despite it being so very cold. Actually they were more than impressed, they were even a bit awed and envious as we all have to deal with the after effects of a scrumptious and abundant culinary two weeks of holidays but face a glaring lack of willpower.

This morning, the weather is a tad bit warmer and I must say that I'm very much looking forward to another bit of ambulation with my Bobster....although, he's been setting up a bit of a veto situation as he's supposedly already stubbed his little and big toe. Hold thumbs...


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Wednesday Morning.

Somehow it called for quote or two.

" The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. "
Henry Ward Beecher
" Nobody really cares if you're miserable, so you might as well be happy. "
Cynthia Nelms
" It isn't always a change of scenery needed to make a better life.
Sometimes it simply requires opening your eyes. "
Richelle E. Goodrich
" Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back. "
Oscar Wilde
" By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy;
if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. "

" Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. "
Billy Sunday
" An archaeologist is the best husband a woman could have;
the older she gets the more interested he is in her. "

Agatha Christie
" When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife. "
Prince Philip
" If you want your wife to listen to you, then talk to another woman. She will be all ears. "
Sigmund Freud


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Versatile Apple Of The Earth.

Potato, potatoe?

There are so many different names for them, even in the same language such as in German or should I rather say Austrian / Burgenlandish.

Erdapfel / Kartoffel / Grumpian
yet they have one thing in common...potatoes taste delicious in any shape or form. The other day we garnered ourselves a 5 kg bag of Grumpians and have been making various meals out of it for the last few weeks.

Often, my gourmet meal of choice is boiled potatoes with oodles of butter and salt and I am fortunate that the Bobster likes it too. We've also adopted a recipe from a friend of ours and now make a sort of oven roasted potato affair more often than not. Meat is hardly ever included in our culinary Kartoffel creations except now and again for a curry or roast.

Yesterday was one of those days that were cold and had us hungry despite not having a reason to be and at loose ends too. The perfect set up for eating the usual Monday culprits of chocolate, ice cream and crisps but luckily Mondays the local shop is closed so we had to make do with what was in our larder. Isn't it funny how when one is hungry the creativity is firing on all cylinders with hardly any ingredients?

I knew we had potatoes, espied some left over smoked bacon in the fridge and the easiest and quickest would be to make a soup. A Grumpian soup would be a first for me to make although I have a fond memory of tasting a plate at my parent's last year. Just frying the onions with the bacon made a delightful aroma waft through the house and if it had been enough, I would have served this for lunch straight away.

For a change I peeled the spuds and quartered them at the same time. Into the pot they went followed by cups of water and a stock cube. Making soup is so easy and often a great way to get rid of leftover bits of vegetables, bacon or potatoes. If you have a blender it is even more tasty and the odd thing a husband might normally not eat, is well hidden in the mayhem by blending everything together.

Finished off with a dash of cream and pumpkin seed oil, makes homemade soup another raison d'etre of stepping into the kitchen instead of eating out... Did I mention that eating potatoes is also extremely economical?


Monday, 9 January 2017

Have You Ever Hidden Stuff And Not Found It Again?

Do couple hide more or less?

Why do I hide things? Well, mostly from myself if it is a case of chocolates etc and in fact back in S.A. I even hid money from myself in order not to spend it and had such a happy surprise when I found it a year later. Honestly, I had forgotten. Extreme saving...

Lately, after many friends abundantly blessed me for Christmas ( chocolates, pralines, Lindt bits and numerous homemade biscuits ), I have taken up my old hobby of hiding things again. Not because I am mean but because Bob does have a touch of diabetes.

Bob could have made a career as a Trüffel Schwein, as he sniffs out even the merest hint of chocolate a mile away. Plus, through our years together he his gotten wind of most my hiding nooks. Well, almost all of them...

Just a day before Christmas, mum came over to see Mausi and eh, us too. Our little feline usually gets a treat from Oma, but not us. Anyway, mum saw how laden the windowsill was with sugary creations and asked me why they hadn't been hidden away. She knows Bob's love of sweets.

Throwing away stuff was out of the question, so when Bob wasn't looking the two of us hid most of the pralines. Hid them well. Anyway, after mum had left, Bob noticed the lack of delectable treats and asked what had happened?

" Schatzi, you know you shouldn't eat them, so now they are gone. "
" NOOOO, how could you? Did you hide them in the house or did Monika take them with her? "
A nonchalant shoulder shrug and a clever diversion of topic had Bob cemented in the idea of the sweets having changed house. Well, I knew the truth and when he wasn't about, had one or three Lindt pralines. Delicious!

Each time I made sure to put them back into hiding, yet somehow they were hiding in plain sight. Among Mausi's culinary boxes and cleverly at the back row. I knew Bob usually takes the closest one.

This morning, at six am. Bob went to get food for the princess ( she has ways and means of making us get up to feed her ) and stupidly I asked him to get a different type of dry food...well, a few moments later he, who had just woken up, was dancing about and singing; " oh happy days " at the top of his lungs and when I asked him why, he couldn't answer as he was already putting a dent in our stash of pralines.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Feeling Thankful And Grateful.

A trip to the supermarket.

We've been in the grips of a nasty cold front for the last few days, and in fact it has been so freezing cold that yours truly has eschewed the lure of walking. Not worth slipping on an icy patch...and of course a dose of laziness to boot. Going outside when even during a sunny afternoon the temperature only reaches a high of minus 5 degrees, is not ideal, but the Bobster wanted to go to the shop yesterday.

We ventured out at half past two and even our chariot would have rather stayed under cover, as it took a nerve wracking two tries to start its engine. The trip there ( yes, living in the country makes any outing an adventure of sorts ) was icy but fine and we arrived safely at the Kofidisch petrol station as the needle had suddenly strayed rather close to that ominous red territory.

It was so cold that the owner had to ask me whether our chariot preferred petrol or diesel. He has never asked before and by the way, he is a most interesting man. A man who's previously worn the hat of mayor ( for 20 odd years ) and teacher. He had the foresight to town plan his village in such a way that now it is thriving which sadly some villages aren't as the town planning isn't to everyone's forte.

Anyway, we did a small grocery shop at the local Spar and as we came out to pack our groceries into the car ( straight from the trolley into a big plastic container thus cutting out the nasty middle man, a.k.a. plastic bags ) and even those few minutes were freezing and my fingers were numb, a few thoughts flashed through my mind;

  • I am so grateful that we have a warm place to go to...many people don't.
  • I am so thankful that we have money to buy food...many people don't.
  • I am so grateful that we have the ability to heat our home....many people can't.
  • I am so thankful that we have warm jackets, beanies and gloves...many people don't.

The basics of life are what is vital and important yet so often we forget to appreciate it. Just imagine being homeless during any winter, especially a cold one like this one...


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Tape Recorders Should Be Standard Issue For Couples.

It could help spotty memories.

The local sports club had a Glühwein affair yesterday afternoon, to which my first reply was;

" What? There is a local sports club? "
and then Bob explained to me that it was the youth rather than the more older lot. He wanted to attend and organized with his friend to go. I stayed home for two reasons...it was jolly cold outside and a husband needs to go off on his own too.

The event was in Eisenberg - Weinberg, which is about 3 kilometers from us. With foresight I had suggested for Bob to take a torch with him. People like to stay late and it's good to be able to walk home if needed.

Somehow I settled in for a quiet evening and to my surprise, Bob came home rather early and with a new mindset...Honestly, I was rather proud of him for walking home ( which he said he did, but did he really? ) as it was minus 12 degrees and pitch black. Oh yes, he grudgingly thank me for the torch advice!

As you know, I walk most mornings and have given up trying to influence the Bobster ( perhaps I should try it Russian style a la social media ) to walk with me. He is fond of every excuse in the book from he having to do the dishes to his little toe having a gouty twinge. Never mind, I got the drift.

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather last night:

" Schatzi, I'm going to walk with you tomorrow morning. I actually felt good walking home just now. "
Good grief, where is the real Bob? He did have a few Glühweins last night, so as we speak, I am reminding him of his promise and honestly, it would help vastly to have had a recording of his promise.

As I look out the window, I can see my darling husband praying for a strong wind, rain or some other deal breaking event...


Friday, 6 January 2017

Walking On A Verge Full Of Surprises.

Talk about a slippery slope indeed.

The skies did an hourly version of dropping snow flakes and then melting them with a batch of sunshine. Rather weird to see dark grey ominous clouds shimmying all day with the blue cloudless sky. One thing was for certain though, the roads were iced over and treacherous to boot.

When I glanced out the front window and saw a mirroring glaze reflect off the road, any silly ideas of going for a walk vanished. Not such a bad state of affairs as it meant a day spent at home, doing as little as possible...eat, read and watch TV.

Except that I needed to give a message to another neighbour down the road. About two hundred meters away, yet it could have been ten miles away. Nothing urgent but I wanted to pass the message along.

" Schatzi, I'm just quickly going to drop of this message at the ...."
" Whatever you do, don't walk on the road. Stick to the verge and be careful. "
Ah, rather kind of him although he didn't offer to take the message himself...

Off I skittered, which is the only word to describe the finding of ice free patches on the road and after a meter or so, took up Bob's words of advice.

Well, as nice and gripping the verge was, it was peppered with heaps of dog poo at regular intervals. On this stretch of a few hundred meters, at least 8 turds were in my way.

Dear dog owners, the verge of the road doesn't constitute rural pastures. The business needs to be picked up when it happens...or am I being finicky?

Somehow it is no wonder that another neighbour down the road, whose verge is usually dressed in brown heaps, is extremely irate and even considering taking revenge...Ah, who said that life in a small village is boring?


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Honey, It's Cold Outside...

An Austrian Winter With A Difference.

Eisenberg's church. The few leaves left dangling on the branches hint at the coldness of winter. Most trees are covered in a frosting of ice which makes them extremely beautiful to behold.
When most think of winter in Austria, they picture snow packed mountains and a warm chalet high on the alm. Burgenland isn't like that and in fact we are lucky to have snow at all.
Today it must be minus something dreadful because as I ventured outside to take a few photos, my fingers froze.
The birds don't seem to mind braving an icy air. Word has gotten about that Bob throws handfuls of birdseed every morning.
The roads are treacherously covered in a thin layer of ice which makes it impossible to go for a walk. Not worth the risk although it does look inviting. Our driveway.
To end off, another bit of cinema noir....a blackbird looking for food in our garden.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A Cold Front Is Expected.

A wintry tale...

The gossip mill has foretold a temperature of minus 19 this weekend. Bob's in a panic and making me wash all his long johns and other warm undies while I'm rather looking forward to a cozy bit of reading in front of the oven after possibly braving a walk, but this time with ear muffs.

Minus 19 is more Denmark's territory but in a way rather exciting too. These sort of temperatures make it worthwhile, you know, the extra few layers of winter fat we've accumulated. Constant pecking seems to be the order of the day and everything does taste nicer too.

So far we've not had any snow except for a sprinkling once before Christmas and as odd as it sounds, it is too cold for snow. Some icy layers on the lawns tend to emulate a layer of snow, but as soon as the sun's awake, it melts away. There are the odd puddles on the lanes which are now of course mini ice rinks.

Driving and parking a car in these cold times is rather fun and who'd have thought, not for the faint of heart. Handbrakes tend to freeze when it's so cold and trying to pull or take it off can give you a scare...it feels like the cable is made of rubber. So, we ( at least one of us! ) just don't use it.

Easy when you can find a level parking space but yikes when you can't. We travel with bricks and logs to put under our tyres, just in case. Hill starts sans handbrake...yes, flash back to getting my driver's license. Those inspectors do have a way of finding the only traffic light in town that has a steep incline in front of it.

As this is a long weekend again, make sure that you've got a good book to read, a cozy couch and enough food in your larder. For us southern hemisphere types, a minus 19 cold spell is the most exciting adventure out.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Bob Goes Shopping.

Small village living at its best.

At the moment it is freezing or rather below freezing cold and yesterday we planed to drive to Deutsch Schützen to get some more bags of pellets. After a couple of hours of work I got home to fetch Bob.

" Oh, you don't need to come along. I can do the shop on my own. "
Fair enough and honestly, I was rather glad to stay indoors. Off he went, with the added promise of buying some soup vegetables as he felt like making a soup for lunch. Oh yes, you don't need to remind me...I married well!

The whole shop should've only taken ten minutes tops and I got caught up in domestic chores
( they could have included some Candy Crush ) and looked up in surprise as Bob came bouncing in about an hour later.

" You won't believe it, but I met H at the shop and he asked me to go with him to the Lagerhaus for a beer and a chat. "
They are both on leave and Bob was chuffed to meet up with his friend. This Lagerhaus is in fact a builder's warehouse which has a little table where they have a coffee machine and a fridge. This table is mostly occupied with the local men meeting for a coffee, drink and an exchange of news...a.k.a. gossip. Oh yes, men do it too.

Bob told me that halfway into this meeting, the door opened and his doctor ( naturally he lives here too ) came in. Gosh, our doctor is so sharp and clever that with laser precision he singled out Bob and said:

" Bob, this will raise your sugar and cholesterol levels! "
As I've said many times before, our local doctors saved Bob's life by correctly discovering his diabetes and even yesterday, the doctor did his job...Bob was as good as a lamb for the rest of the day and only ate the right foods.

Anyway to get back to the story, when Bob did eventually make it home, I was most surprised to see a little more than just vegetables. He had quite obviously taken a mere shop to heart and came home with a nice chicken to boot.

" We can have soup for lunch, but I thought a grilled chicken would be great for supper"


Monday, 2 January 2017

A Weekend Of Conspiracy Theories, A Fabulous Family Breakfast And A Fondue.

Could life be any better?

The world over TV channels cover the same topics over the festive season. It starts with a murder being solved by Miss Marple and ends with conspiracy theories about the long departed rich and famous. Maybe we are more receptive with a full stomach...

New Year's Eve saw us spending part of the evening with our neighbours and it was a fabulous surprise to see the table laden with three fondue pots and all the yummy bits that go in them. A lovely way to while the hours before midnight. Fondue-ing enables much more conversation during the few minutes spent waiting for each piece of meat to cook.

Well oiled with wine, we had a few conspiracy theories of our own and more importantly weren't afraid to share them ( in this instance the we is royal ). Sitting there among our neighbours' big family and seeing the diversity of its members, it proved once again that it doesn't matter who and what you are as long as you have a family to go to and feel a part of. The family table is a great equalizer and mere possessions alone won't cut muster. Character, humour and kindness are the real wealth that binds a family together.

On Sunday or rather the first day of the New Year saw us go to my parents for a traditional family breakfast, complete with candles on the table, delectables of all sorts covering it and not a TV in sight. A breakfast where a coin toss was needed to decide what to savour first. My mum's an ace at making divine breakfasts and even Bob's eyes took an a particular sparkle when he saw there was enough of everything to go around.

We were back home by half past eleven and full as ticks ready to watch a round of interesting historical programs intermingled with re-runs of classic comedies and movies. Quite nice really, as there was no reason to venture outside for the rest of the day.

It's been said that how you spend the first day of your new year determines the rest of it and what a nice thought indeed as my year will be filled with family, wonderful breakfast and a relaxing time spent at home with not a single dirty dish in sight as Bob was kind enough to do the dishes...How will your year ahead unfold?


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Isn't It Just Another Day?

The first day of the year isn't always full of cheer.

First of January holds many promises but alongside them many headaches, ills and sketchy memories. Some are just now going to sleep while others have greeted the new year already.

Today is the day that we've made a pact ( gosh, doesn't that sound rather devilish ? ) with ourselves to initiate our New Year's resolutions...that is if we remember them this early on.

Hands drawn back from the cookie jar as if burned, wondering at the same time why on earth a diet was part of the resolutions. Whatever habit is to be broken, the attempt of it could drive many a spouse to start another habit. Do you know how cranky the newly non-smokers can get? Or the suddenly cold turkey food crowd...sans sugar, spice or anything nice?

Bob and I haven't made any resolutions and it's been a few years since. Living life in moderation most of the time let's us sail through life with a more even keel.

Ringing in another year is a privilege that many would give their eye's teeth for and I try and to be grateful for it. Thoughts of dieting should be weighed against thoughts of people without food at all.

Don't most of us laugh at beauty contestants in Miss World / Austria / Universe contests when they finish the answer to any question with;

"...and above all, I would like to have world peace..."
but you know, they do have a point. World peace is a good resolution to wish for and I can't help thinking that it starts with being at peace with the people in our life...At least part of this new January, let's try and emit kindness, niceness and laughter to all the people we meet.