Monday, 20 February 2017

A Sunday In Two Countries.

The power of words.

It was the last day of the Alpine Skiing World Cup in St. Moritz yesterday and a bit sad knowing that there won't be such a smorgasbord of events day after day. Seeing Switzerland from such beautiful perspective was often breathtaking. White mountains , icy pistes and gladiators champing at the bit.

The whole of Austria was in a state of euphoria due to winning Gold and Silver medals at the last race. The gold was predictable and well deserved by Marcel Hirscher who is one of those competitors who seem unbeatable. The silver was won by one of my favourites ( luckily, my other favourite won bronze, despite being a bit long in the tooth at 32. Ah, sorry Felix! ) who is the nicest guy imaginable. A sort of imp and rebel, but a kind one. True son in law material...

The skiing started rather early in the morning and for once I postponed my walk for mid morning. Strange for me and strange for a handful of villagers who I met along the way. Clearly they don't subscribe to the let's make a huge home cooked Sunday lunch club as I met them just before twelve, galavanting through the vineyards...

At the moment I am enthralled by an autobiography that I have been lent to read. Brilliant stuff, often page turning and sadly informative. I say sadly, because it is a story about the Puszta compounds of Hungary in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is a book that will make most of us who love to complain about the unfairness of life sit up and suddenly feel extremely lucky and abundant.

What is even more amazing, is that the lives he wrote about were lived not that far from us and often this past week, I would ask Bob to Google a village written about in the book, only for him to tell me that it is close to Eisenberg.

This book was first published in 1936 and I wondered if the author had written anything else. Googling his name,Illyes Guyla, I found out that this author was a national literary treasure of Hungary. Can't wait to read his other books. Another great Sunday of not doing much, but seeing plenty.

Biggi

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Wise Men Said...

Always nice to read...

" When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. "
Henry Ford
" The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803-1882 )
" The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. "
Winston Churchill ( 1874-1965 )
" Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same. "
Oscar Wilde ( 1854-1900 )
" You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. "
C.S. Lewis ( 1898-1963 )
" As to the matter of dress, I would recommend one never to be the first in the fashion nor the last out of it. "
John Wesley ( 1703-1791 )
" When a girl uses six derogatory adjectives in an attempt to paint the portrait of the loved one, it means something. One may indicate a merely temporary tiff. Six is the big stuff. "
P.G. Wodehouse ( 1881-1975 ), Jeeves in the morning.
" I marmaladed a slice of toast with something of a flourish and I don't suppose I have ever come much closer to saying ' Tra-la-la' as I did the lathering for I was feeling in mid season form this morning. "
P.G. Wodehouse ( 1881-1975 )
" A James Cagney love scene is one where he let's the other guy live. "
Bob Hope ( 1903-2003 )

Biggi

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Under Pressure.

All in a day's work...

Most cars do have a touch of Ford about them. Henry Ford and his famous " Any color, as long as it's black " slightly adjusted in hue. At the moment all cars seem grey. Sooty grey, abetted by the prolific smoke stacks rising from chimneys during winter. At least that's my take on grey.

One does get a few car enthusiasts who were born with a bucket and cloth attached to their hips and luckily they are in a minority which affords me the freedom to hide in the grey crowd knowing I won't be pointed at. But, even the crowd gets a bit boring and with that in mind I did a sojourn at the Kofidsich Spar.

Not entering the portals of temptations ( Friday, cold and yearning for cake ) I drove around the bend to the car wash. A self service car wash which took some time for Bob and I to adjust to. Back in S.A. a self service car wash was extremely rare and often we'd just sit on a bench outside and watch the labour of others.

If only I'd known how simple it can be...all you need is a pair of strong biceps as the pressure hose tends to have a life of its own. Oh and a fair degree of fitness as time is of the essence because the minute you put your euro in, the seconds tick. Alarmingly fast by the way. Yesterday afternoon, I had put aside a 1 & 2 euro coin.

Seeing that we don't pass there often, even a 2 euro wasn't quite enough. Well, it would be if one doesn't mind motoring about the countryside in a two tone chariot. First I usually use the hose with a big brush attached in order to get the sticky soot moving and that eats the first euro. Fair enough, two more to go but a wash & shampoo and a rinse still needed to fit into the budget parameters. I have to say, a race against time but rather fun.

There is of course one golden rule with this whole chore...making sure all of your windows are properly closed, which I had a slight reminder of yesterday. Oh, Schatzi, don't worry, only a few drops...hopefully they will have dried already else I might get a frequent reminder of my forgetfulness!

Biggi

Friday, 17 February 2017

Attending A Village Funeral.

A well attended funeral.

Funerals and the cause of them, dying, are par for the course and yesterday was a nice send off for a lovely village character and gentleman. As the saying goes, he slipped quietly into the night.

As is usual in the days following a death, discussions of the how, when and where were in full swing. Especially in a little village such as ours. Lately, I've been around folks who are already discussing the merits of the how and their preference of the above way. Yikes, no need to remind the grim reaper of oneself too early.

Yesterday was an almost spring like day. Sun shining despite the early morning temperature still hovering around minus 4 or so. The funeral started at 10 and unless you stood in the sunshine, it still felt wintry. Having had an inkling that the local church would be cold, we tried to dress warmly. Not so easy, when the funeral dress code needs to be adhered to.

The local firemen ( Bob too ) came to pay their last respects for one of their former members and were all in dress uniform, seated in the front of the church. Falling prey to odd feelings of claustrophobia, I chose the first pew coming in, and the isle seat. Just in case I needed to bolt.

Sitting there a bit too early for the service gave me an opportunity to really have a look at the church. It is one of those delightful catholic marvels. Small, but with beautiful little bits of interesting details and artistic genius. The huge stained glass windows alone are stunning to sit under, especially when the sun's rays bring the differently coloured pieces to life.

Most fascinating of all is a wooden beam high above the altar with two inscriptions.

Built in 1751 and extended in 1936
I sat there thinking about the men who had worked on the extension and if they had had any inkling of how their life would change drastically a mere three years later?

The meditative feeling of the service, really often an only place where one can be at peace with one's own thoughts, was harshly interrupted and pulled into the here and now by the unmistakable music of a cellphone. A personalized ring tone on top of it. Our local priest is known more for his strictness and despite everyone being at least over forty, a collective breath was held and one or two giggles barely stifled, but only a querying look was swept over the congregation until the ringing stopped.

Sometimes, these humorous intervals do make a somber affair more bearable and remind us that despite it being a funeral, life goes on and we shouldn't be afraid to live it.

Biggi

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Back To Basics.

A most important job indeed.

This week the sun and warm(er) weather have felt they needed to come and say hello to us. Glorious and stunning, the way everything takes on a different slant once the sun infuses a black and grey landscape with colour. Apart from nature most villagers blossomed this week. More smiles, more chit chat and much more outside activities.

Wine being the main raison d'etre of our village and villagers, one of the many necessary steps to get the grapes to grow, was and is being done this week.

Pruning of the vines. Sounds very easy but is actually one of those seemingly simple tasks that carries tremendous importance. The way a vine gets pruned, helps determine the quality of the grapes and the quantity although often they are not mutually exclusive.

Bob and I went to help our parents with this task. Equipped with hat, gumboots, gloves, sunblock and pruning sheers we set off. The many weeks of icy weather have transformed the ground into a muddy pit and at the end of the afternoon, my boots were decorated with oodles of sticky mud and my walk was suspiciously like a moonwalk. Very toning for the muscles.

You know, when you stand in front of a vine and need to make a decision to cut away all the shoots and " branches " until you are left with one, possibly two good ones, can be a bit nerve wracking. Remember, the wrong snip and a year of nothing. Bob is good at it and doesn't dilly dally over each snip which means that he was a few meters ahead of us.

Pruning those vines is very therapeutic as all of the focus is on each vine and the task ahead. Standing in the muddy ground tops it all off by earthing one and any small irritations just seem to seep into the ground. At times I did imagine how the grapes would turn out to be or rather how delectable this particular vintage would be.

Bob among the vines...

Biggi

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Waiting For The Other Foreign Shoe To Drop.

A very hollywood-ian plot.

All one needs is a big bowl of popcorn while sitting in front of the news. Goodness me, what a lot of different and sadly all politically interesting plots are unravelling one by one. Loo breaks need to be timed during commercials these days.

This could almost come out of the pages of a paperback and have us read all night through. A new sport of sorts...watching the verbal punches, out of bounds, penalties and own goals of politics. I know it sounds silly, but I keep on getting flashbacks of one of my favourite movies, Airforce One with my own addendum of belief that Harrison Ford would sort all this out in no time.

The last decade or so has made most of us the world over become inured to reality tv shows, not actually realizing that even they are scripted and staged. What a decade ago would have made us blanche in fright, now merely merits a raise of our shoulders and disinterest that is slightly worrying.

Our need to constantly buy cheaply and prolifically has made the world a global stage. Like it or not, we are all connected, some with big threads and some with a tiny thread. Whatever happens across the pond will in some way impact globally.

" Every action has a reaction. "

So far we've just gleaned the outlines of the plot from the various news programs and they do need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but where there's smoke there could be a fire.

As to that very hot potato mumbled now and again on the news shows, the one about the alleged interference in the election process, might that possibly mean a re-vote as one does expect an election to be fair and square ...

Biggi

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine's & Halloween, Days Of Masquerading.

Cupid only once a year?

A slight cynic here. Valentine's seems to have morphed into a day of spending outrageously on professing love to your other half. Love, that by rights shouldn't carry a price tag with it.

Already it starts with honeyed words, photos of gifts received, fancy dinners booked and engagements announced on the town's square or rather Facebook. Does real love really need all that public display? Or is it only displayed for the public?

Valentine's should be every day. Love isn't expressed by big presents, over sweetened poems or a fancy night out. Love is expressed by the little things. The everyday things. The things we don't share publicly because we think they are just normal. Yet, this is the glue that makes a romantic start to a relationship turn into a lifelong love affair.

  • Making breakfast for the other half who perhaps isn't fond of getting up early.
  • Bringing a cup of coffee to the bedside when it's darn cold outside and it is so jolly difficult to separate from the warm duvet.
  • Making the proverbial chicken soup when the other one is sick.
  • Letting each other just be, you know, not making the other one change the way they are.

Look, the list of little things that show love is endless and it shouldn't have to be a thing that needs to have bells and whistles to look good online.
Perhaps it is this con game of love must be glamourous that is the cause of the prolific rate of divorce. It seems that not many are satisfied with normal and are always on the lookout for the gold plated relationships, those that look good to others but are not that nice to live within.

Spoil your love with deeds that don't need to be announced to all and sundry. Oh, and not just on Valentine's...

Biggi

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Tranquility Of Sundays.

When most are still asleep.

Of course there is nothing wrong with sleeping in on a Sunday and for some it might be unavoidable considering a Saturday night on the town, but there is nothing nicer than a long walk early on a Sunday morning.

The streets are devoid of cars but to be honest, in our area they mostly are during the week as well. Walking and admiring the scenery means just that. The air is clear and nature at its best. Vibrant, colourful and unspoiled.

Depending on what time I get going on my walk, I encounter a few villagers along the way. Before you imagine a village full of athletes, eh, no...often I meet them while they drive past me on the way to church, or to visit family.

Sundays are quite traditional here with church in the morning and a cooked meal for lunch and a snooze in the afternoon. Roast being a staple then. Lest you think that everyone is saintly I'll tell you about the Frühschoppen that is held every weekend across the road from our house at the pond's clubhouse.

The men come and have a beer or two with their friends while shooting the breeze about this, that and perhaps a nagging wife. Pretty sure that Bob's dropped my name once or twice in that regard! Why should men be any different to us ladies when we meet for coffee, walks or book clubs?

The funny bit about this meeting of the village men is the fact that the minute the clock strikes midday, they all tear out of there in a hurry. The lure of a home cooked lunch or the ire of a cross wife who spent all morning preparing lunch...of course, at times a beer or two too much might have been consumed which entails a terse phone call from a wife...

Oh, don't worry it wasn't me as in order to avoid this particular marital spat, I have decreed that each makes their own lunch however and whenever...Marriage, a give and take after all.

Biggi

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sundays, Days Of Sport, Relaxing And Saturday Night Live.

No more spare time on Sundays.

The mighty sport Sunday with either alpine skiing or Formula One has just got another addition. The weekly Saturday Night Live skit on YouTube.

My admiration for these actors grows by the week, as they put on brilliant performances with only a few days to rehearse. Despite the short rehearsal time they are often spot on as the laugh barometer proves. How often does one laugh out loud these days? Soon they might have to either extend their show or perhaps put on a Wednesday Night Live.

The daily political antics must be like manna for the writers and producers of SNL and in the cut throat world of television it must be nice to know that the next four years will be spectacular and profitable.

Of course, the cynic in me is just waiting for a presidential decree, banning the court jesters as many a jest has a truth to it which could be too close for comfort. Ah, won't that be a bit of breaking news, real breaking news.

But enough of politics; my other Sunday treat apart from fried eggs on toast involves watching alpine skiing on TV. Slalom, Super G and Downhill. Nail biting stuff and addictive too. Bob and I have been fans since we got here and both have our clear favourites that we cheer and cry for.

The World Cup is being held at the moment in the spectacular mountains surrounding St. Moritz. Almost picture perfect apart from yesterday's men's downhill race which sadly had to be cancelled due to fog. Don't laugh, fog is a serious threat when one races down a steep mountain on waxed skis at over 140 kph. Seeing the piste is vital. Luckily it has been reschedule for this afternoon.

The women's downhill race is in the morning and the men's after lunch. I can't wait and just hope the weather is behaving today. If you have a chance, try and watch it. Those skiers are top athletes, seemingly fearless and considering the danger they face, dressed inappropriately. A thin spandex suit and a pithy helmet seem a bit meagre when one faces an icy piste at such speeds.

Yesterday, the race was at first postponed a few times before it was cancelled outright. In those two hours, they showed interviews with a few of the skiers and apart from the odd one, most of these athletes are friends and behave in a manner worthy of gentlemen and ladies...something that is sorely lacking in the world today.

Biggi

Saturday, 11 February 2017

An Abundant Week Indeed.

The joys of life.

Wednesday morning saw me walk past the chicken man. Or as I like to say, the man whose chickens sometimes lay green eggs. Throw in some ham and you'll have the title of a Dr. Seuss book. Talking of which, have you ever tried to read it without making a mistake? Words tend to mingle alarmingly.

As I was walking along, he gave me his usual friendly greeting and topped it off with giving me 20 of his hens' eggs. Mere eggs to some of you readers, but delights to Bob and I. Alone the colour of the shells range from ochre via green to egg-shell white. A feast for the eyes and never mind the taste of them. They simply cannot be compared to the cheap supermarket eggs. Of course the main plus being that the chickens have a good life with him.

A fantastic midweek gift, although the Tuesday was an even better present day. I stopped by at my parent's house and as I had told my mum earlier that I'd swing past, a Bavarian specialty was waiting me. A freshly baked bretzen, with oodles of butter.

A treat that can't be beaten for any snack. It brought back plenty of childhood memories as my village was literally littered with proper bakeries. Fresh bretzen, the real hand made ones, were often eaten to and from school. Yum, a rare delicacy in our new neck of the woods.

Oh, and a bottle of mum's wine. Yes, handmade wine that's oh so divine. Eggs, wine and bretzen had made my week. That mere food and wine ( well, wine most of you will know about ) can give such pleasure and satisfaction is a bit of a well kept secret in societal circles...

By all means, go and try your might and luck at supersizing your life and lifestyle, but don't forget to now and again try the simpler things in life. You never know, you could grow a fondness for them and a reason to at least take one foot off of the consumption treadmill.

Biggi

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Bard & Company Never Fails..

The folly of men never grows outdated.

" The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue. "
The Bard
" Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows? To plainess honor's bound when majesty falls to folly. "
Kent in King Lear.
" Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves. "
George Gordon Byron
" The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. "
Bertrand Russel
" Oftentimes the excusing of a fault, Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse. "
The Bard
" Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. "
Groucho Marx
" Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken by his word. "
Charles de Gaulle
" A Conservative government is an organized hyporiscy. "
Benjamin Disraeli
" When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property. "
Thomas Jefferson

Biggi

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Would You Work 365 Days A Year And Not Earn Enough To Pay Your Bills?

The arrogance of consumers.

Milk may just be milk to most of us. Milk, cheap and available. Most of us look for the cheapest price and pat ourselves on the back for finding a bargain.

Making dairy farming your career, means working 365 days a year unless you are blessed with helpful children or have enough to hire someone to help. Being a dairy farmer is jolly hard work. Yes, some have mechanical help with the main tasks of milking, but they still have to get up at the crack of dawn, and be there every single day of the year.

Most small dairy farmers are going under because they don't get enough per liter of milk produced to cover the costs. Never mind a profit for themselves.

Especially in Europe, the average worker would have a heart attack if they would have to firstly work more than 37 hours per week, have no holidays, no public holidays, no paid sick leave, maternity leave and no weekends. Secondly, if they would have to do 365 days on the trot without getting paid a reasonable wage...!

It isn't as if the farmers are asking us to pay oodles more for milk. The middle men are of course often responsible for not paying a fair and reasonable price to the farmers, but at the end of the day, it is us consumers who are responsible.

We can make a difference to dairy farmers by buying milk that we know is produced locally and also has a fair trade seal on it.

Paying an extra 10 to 20 cents more per liter of milk isn't that much if you compare it to the silly amounts of money we spend on arbitrary things such as mobile phones, trendy cappuccinos or a trip to the fast food corner.

Truthfully, I have been guilty of buying cheap milk, but will make an effort to buy with care and help in saving smaller dairy farms.

Biggi

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

We Travel With A Log, A Wooden Log.

A trip to Oberwart.

For days the fable of that famous Emperor sans clothes has been circling in my mind and after today's news segment about the First Lady's law suit, the proverbial plot thickens. Does nobody have the gumption to point out reality, or rather the reality of us ordinary folk?

So, to that log of ours. It was last week during our shopping trip to Oberwart. It was raining and that created some treacherous and slippery surfaces. The car park being a case in point.

Men, have a tendency to circle for hours in order to find a close enough parking space, whereas most women will take the first space available, be thankful for having a bit of a walk and do a shop, have a cup of coffee and be on their way home while men are still crusing for a parking space. Yes, a bit of Fake News right here.

Bob surprisingly found a parking space straight away but it had a tiny incline. Not good if your handbrake is not working due to the icy temperatures.

Honestly, I was joking more than being serious when I said to Bob;

" Schatzi, the log of wood is behind you on the backseat. "
Good golly gosh, he took the log of wood and put it in front of the back tyre. And not hidden either. We had a parking bay at the edge of the lane and the wood was clear and present.

I did feel a tad bit embarrassed to use a log in the middle of the main shopping center. Everyone shops there and in case you have forgotten, our neck of the woods only has about a few hundred inhabitants and knowing who's car is where doesn't take much intelligence. A good memory is all one needs.

Getting up to any mischief is impossible as everyone knows who lives where and who drives which car...Well, from now on we'll probably be known as the Beavers...

Biggi

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Therapeutic Day Of Rain.

Complete with a book.

The ice and snow have been thawing for the last few days and yesterday it rained all day. Great. Cars are getting a lovely shine again, roads are swept clean of salt and slush and that dreadful ice has gone.

There will always be drawbacks, of course. Just in our little front yard, the lack of ice has made everything muddy. Walking at times feels like a moon walk. This too shall pass... Bob loudly stated his dislike of the rain a few times but stopped himself after a few minutes, when he remembered his parents telling him of the dire water situation in South Africa. Water restrictions and no end to them in sight.

On our way to do a weekly trip to Oberwart, Bob had to stop at a client's for an hour. It was on the way and while he was at the client, I waited in the car. Why waste more petrol and put more exhaust fumes in the air?

If it would have stopped raining, I would have gone for a walk but, it didn't. My book it was to be and I can't tell you how divine it was, sitting there in the rain. The steady pounding of the raindrops on the steel roof, the opaqueness of the windows and the cozy interior, made that hour feel like therapy.

Raindrops falling on either the roof of a car or on the sloping sides of a tent have this therapeutic effect on me, until the tent turns out to be only slightly water resistant and not water proof.

While I was reading my novel, there were hardly any distraction apart from a few people going to their post boxes or walking passed me with a slightly questioning look. A quick lift of the book reassured them of my lack of nefarious plans.

Some might think of sitting for an hour waiting in a car as a punishment, but I find it rather a treat. Where else can we sit without having to multi task our lives away?

Biggi

Monday, 6 February 2017

Our Kitty Turns As Brave As Simba.

Animals have the most amazing personalities and characters.

It started off with a suit jacket which Bob had hung outside to air. He brought it in and instead of hanging it in the cupboard, hung it over the door of the back bedroom.

Sitting at the computer yesterday afternoon I noticed our cat, Mausi, slinking past me but must admit that I got rather a fright when our little kitty screeched in horror and ran away from the back room at supersonic speed. She clearly was startled to say the least. Gosh, I thought perhaps a troupe of mice or a big rat until I realized the suit jacket was dangling menacingly there.

After a few moments she returned and stopped a few meters from the door to stare at the mysteriously altered back room. Even my soothing endearments didn't register with her. She was startled and on edge.

Back to the computer and about ten minutes later, I saw out of the corner of my eye our little princess edging stealthily towards this suddenly scary room and stopping at the door to look up and inspect. Wow, how brave indeed. She had no idea what could have been lurking behind the door of one of her rooms in her fiefdom, but nonetheless, she went to have a look.

A giant foe to her eyes and yet, she overcame her fear to have a look. I was never more proud of her and before you think that this has a touch of madness do remember that this little kitty is the apple of our eye. Bob and I carry her in the palms of our hands and often read her every wish from her eyes.

Spoiled? Of course and extremely so but she repays us with wonderful cuddles, never displaying any aloofness nor scratching willy nilly. She converses with Bob and when he now and again forgets to feed her on time she applies her own feline tactics. With cats, feeding time has to be adhered to with military precision as else they make themselves felt and heard.

Yesterday Bob was playing a game on his computer and was lost to the world. Feeding time had been missed by two minutes and Mausi, clever as she is, jumped on his desk and ran between his arms over the keyboard. Then she hopped back onto the floor and within seconds had Bob rush to feed her, even apologizing for having forgotten...

Biggi

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Wintry Haste Of Disappearing Fridge Dwellers.

Our fridge seems to have a revolving door...

Remember that Bob and I live in the hinterlands of Burgenland and happily so. Hinterlands to some but paradise to others. The concept of just popping out to shop has changed to a weekly shopping expedition.

We don't own a freezer although in these cold times we could just try using the windowsills and hope that feral cats aren't fond of our tastes in food. Freezers are dangerous appliances as I would just fill them with a variety of ice cream and gateaux.

Bob and I look upon these shopping trips as just that. Adventures in town. A chance to drive in gridlock. A chance to shout at other drivers ( more the Bobster's territory ) for not moving fast enough. You know, I think he secretly likes those few hours of mingling with other drivers and exchanging hand signals.

The two of us have become quite adapt at shopping weekly, or so I thought. Usually the glass shelves of our little fridge only saw the light of day towards day five or six but lately, day two makes it necessary to don sunglasses while opening the fridge. Sunglasses and a dose of optimism.

Wintry weather has a way of making us more hungry. But hungry for snacks. Finger food. Easy food. Fast food. Who hasn't stood in front of an open fridge and spent many moments looking for the perfect bite of something? Who hasn't cried in frustration at only seeing a gnarly bit of old cheese, perhaps a jar of pickles and not much else? How to appease those in between hunger attacks...

Having to cook something from scratch when a yearning strikes isn't the same. Firstly, by the time you've made it, hunger is usually gone and secondly, who has the enthusiasm to cook a snack?

Today the big thaw out has started, thaw out of the snow that is. Winter is almost over and hopefully once Spring is here, the fridge will take its time to go bare again or we might just have to buy a bigger fridge.

Biggi

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Allure Of Documentaries Grows.

Hollywood versus Realityville.

In my youth having to watch a documentary was tres boring and torturous. Why watch something real when movies provided entertainment and grandiose ideas?

With age, a different insight has gained upper hand and it must have a lot to do with the wonderfully interesting documentaries that are shown about Austrian personalities. Yesterday, it dawned on me why I am recently so keen on these documentaries. Even the ones in black and white film.

Most of us were surrounded by Hollywood make believe while growing up. There was either the concept of the Prince Charming that we all should aim to find, come hell or high water ( what does this 50% divorce rate suggest about that ) or the other nirvana-esque ideal of becoming so rich that instant happiness is guaranteed.

Well, I tend to think that Madison Avenue nefariously tilted the odds in their favour betting that the public at large would do anything to be and look like movie stars, who ironically are often unhappy underneath their window dressed exterior. Ka-ching!

Documentaries are eh, real and honest. Being average, not thin, not rich, not pretty are the attributes we grew up thinking we needed to avoid in order to be happy. They kept us constantly thriving for their counterparts, buying into the consumerist society and feeling distraught at the thought of merely being average...

Hollywood and industry keep on making those little reminders for us to not settle for normal. By the way, we women get reminders of it every time we go shopping for clothes.

Unless we are extremely thin, we are banished to the plus size aisle and if the stores were clever enough to put diet pills for sale in the changing rooms, they'd be sold out as in those garish moments, despite happily being average outside the change rooms, we soon get caught up in the unattainable Hollywood ideal on sale while struggling to fit into a pair of jeans.

Documentaries are reminders that ordinary folk do and can have marvelously interesting lives, happy lives and show us that happiness is easily reached by being an average Jane or Joe. Honestly, what a relief indeed...

Biggi

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Sunshine Has Arrived And With It Warmer Temperatures.

A lovely morning walk...

The sun's rays were rippling through the forest and giving hue to a simple leaf.
All that could be heard were the birds singing and the ice thawing while losing its dominance to the sun.
The same tree surprises me each and every season with its colourful foliage.
The fallow fields will soon be blossoming with the various staples we so depend upon. Wheat, maize or potatoes.
My favourite bench excels itself amid the icy display of winter.

Biggi

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Two Young Viennese On The Road To Save Vienna's Book Stores.

A David And Goliath Story.

As you know, Bob and I have a tendency to be bibliomaniacs and all that goes with it. The mere thought of spending a few hours in a bookstore, with money to spend will make us salivate and think we've gone to heaven. There is just a special feel about a brick and mortar bookstore that online can't replace. Throw in some comfortable couches and coffee, and suddenly a mere book shop has turned into a nirvana destination.

The collective scent of a new books permeating the air and the many new adventures awaiting between the covers of books are addictive and yet, with the preponderance of shopping online, this is in danger of becoming extinct. Let's face it, the parable of David and Goliath tends to be spot on. Even I have recently bought books from Goliath but my only excuse was the dearth of English language books in the local stores.

Anyway, these two young Viennese bibliophiles have come up with an idea to keep the bookstores alive and thriving. So far, it is being tested in and around Vienna, but they do have plans to expand nationwide. Brilliant.

Their idea? Well, they have created an app ( well, who doesn't these days? ) which lets you, the customer, send them an sms with the name of the book, author or ISBN plus your address and they will organize to have this book delivered to you that same day. They are sourcing their books from existing stores from your area and not like Goliath, creating a warehouse that has a tendency to hasten the demise of brick and mortar stores.

Lobu.at

Why shouldn't we have books delivered from real shops the same way a Mr. Delivery delivers from restaurants? The idea is so simple and for those addicted to getting stuff delivered, this is a perfect panacea to salve guilty minds.

At the moment only the lucky Viennese can make use of this, but I am hoping it will catch on countrywide...and for the meantime, I will have to be very nice to those Eisenbergers who commute weekly to Vienna...

Biggi

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Most Of The Village Is Indoors.

Due to snow and other things...

Maybe it might be quite a good thing to stop the cheek-kissing during the cold winter months. Do you also find it a bit of a social dilemma? Should you do it the French way with three cheeky kisses, or the twice cheek affair. Not sure where this originated or the air cheek kiss, which tend to make one feel rather silly, when responding the French way...

Often the hand extended for a more formal greeting, does the trick of side stepping any of the above cheeky kisses. But enough of the greeting rituals and more to the exchange of bugs.

I know, one should just mingle and get it over with or rather get the bug done and dusted. At the moment it seems like half of our village is indoors, nursing the usual wintry bugs that circulate. Touch wood, so far so good.

When it is icy cold outside, one can understand the habit of not getting much fresh air into the room. " Shut the window, you're letting all the warmth out. " but, what about keeping the bugs in?

At the moment, the schoolkids seem to have been hit the hardest and one could argue, doubly so. They are off school sick for a few days without having the luxury of resting properly. The school curriculum doesn't stand still and often, when they should be lying down resting, they are WhatsApping to find out about homework and course work to keep up. With such pressure, it is no wonder they are often sick or exhausted.

I wouldn't be surprised if our new way of living life does compromise our immune system. Look at any of us today and you can be certain that a Smartphone, laptop or ipad is close at our side. Electromagnetic waves circulating 24 hours a day cannot be that healthy. Not to mention the mental exhaustion of keeping up with all the WhatsApp, Twitter & Facebook vernacular circulating constantly.

Biggi