After the rain the flowers sparkle.
Plastic is everywhere and most alarmingly a ' not given a thought ' commodity. Where does it all go once we've unwrapped a product, eaten a box of biscuits or bought a variety of organic cling wrapped produce? Here in Burgenland we put any and all plastics into our yellow collection bags and hope for the best that it doesn't land up floating across oceans or being eaten by fish. Still, it is most alarming to witness our daily pile of discarded plastics.
Why is almost everything edible still cosseted in plastic? Are the plastic producers in cahoots with the supermarkets? That old excuse of people complaining about others having touched the produce etc is stupid. Yes, some will complain bitterly but one always does get the hecklers, doesn't one? Unwrap the stuff already. Why use plastic around an already encased box of biscuits, pasta or tea?
Perhaps they should pass a law that every town must have a packaging-free supermarket. Imagine having that choice. Imagine bringing your own glass containers and buying beans, pasta or rice from a bulk dispenser? Most towns or even villages will have enough customers to make such a shop viable and entice other shops to follow suit.
As much as we like to put blame on our politicians and producers, we are too blame. Each and every one of us has the power to vote for what we believe in and stand for with the way we spend our money. Each and every time we open our wallet we make a choice for something, even if it is abetting the destruction of our planet.
" In our age there is no such thing as ' keeping out of politics '. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. "George Orwell
" Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. "Groucho Marx
" I really rebel against this idea that politics has to be a place full of ego and where you are constantly focusing on scoring hits against each other. Yes, we need to be a robust democracy, but you can be strong, and you can be kind. "Jacinda Ardern
" Many individuals are doing what they can. But real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics. "David Attenborough
" Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. "John Stuart Mill
" There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable, for in politics there is no honour. "Benjamin Disraeli
" Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. "Otto von Bismarck
It has been raining buckets the last few days and along with horrid gusts of wind lasting all day and night, we have had less than nice May weather. At least we could be indoors which is more than can be said for our outside lodger, Tiggi.
The little cozy house that Bob has made for her stood empty. We speculate that she has a touch of forgetfulness about her or she just doesn't like the new blanket in it. Suffice to say that she decided to rather sleep underneath some shrubs, in the driveway and most shockingly of all, in the middle of the road. Suffice to say that both of us have been running around carrying her into her house ( in case she remembered its warm coziness ) many times to no avail.
Last night she never came home and added to the fact that she refused to eat breakfast, Bob and I were distraught at the thought that she might have entered the celestial portals. Off course we do realize that nature will take its course but still, she has found a little place in both of our hearts right next to Mausi.
When we woke up at five this morning we were overjoyed to see Tiggi sitting on the windowsill, looking slightly bedraggled and hungry. Overjoyed I rushed to find some food for her, put on shoes and ran outside. When she saw me she was besides herself with happiness and couldn't stand still for a second. Knowing she must have been hungry I bent forward next to the sill in order to put food into her dish. Well, luckily I am not faint hearted because all of a sudden Tiggi jumped onto my back and made herself comfortable. Bob, who was watching this through the window, shouted for me to be aware...as if I didn't feel her!
She wasn't trying to hurt me at all but merely wanted to be close to me. As I couldn't stand up without hurting her, Bob had to come out to dislodge her from my back. We eventually got her to eat and settle down a bit...that is until Bob went back out a bit later for a smoke.
All I heard was a big scream from Bob. Turns out she had sidled up to his legs and before he knew what she was planning to do she had literally jumped up his legs trying to be in his arms, using her claws to get leverage. Rather funny if the same wasn't on the cards for me. All she wants to do is be on my lap or in my arms for a cuddle and thus her new place to rest is in front of our door, so that we can't escape her attention...
They predicted it but in the beginning I didn't really believe it. Yearning for veggies as one did for steak and co? Once the quest to healthy living via the vegan-wholefood road starts, taste buds go along and discard old and jaded feelers and emerge new, vibrant and clean. A rather yummy discovery as suddenly food tastes of food. Blueberries burst with sweetness, avocados melt on in the mouth and mushrooms are a treat to look forward to. I wouldn't be surprised if Bob and I could blind taste for an organic cherry tomato, although to be frank, any tomato not organic tastes of nothingness and water. Ah, soon our garden will be dotted with cherry tomatoes.
The first few months of our vegan adventure we were transitioning ( gosh, we sound like extras in Vampire Diaries ) from the SAD diet ( Standard Austrian Diet ) to the vegan one where ham, eggs, milk and co were gone. Hofer sold various vegan ' hamburger ' patties and we did eat them a lot during the change over. Easy as pie and they did taste good, as any processed type of food does.
This afternoon I was shopping in Oberwart and could have had my pick of a dozen pre-cooked hamburger patties but despite the extra work involved, I decided to make the patties from scratch. Each time I make them they are different because it depends on what veg I can find and what beans I have idling their time away in our fridge.
Once you start to experiment and aren't afraid to have the odd culinary failure, cooking the vegan way becomes great fun. Tonight's main ingredient will be white button mushrooms along with cooked beluga lentils, wholewheat couscous and a medley of onions, spices and garlic. Keeping it all in a hamburger shape will be my secret addition of soaked flaxseeds. Binds like glue and doesn't alter the taste...
The other day Bob and I were watching an episode of Tiny House and of course we liked everything we saw and with enthusiasm planned a purchase or two of tiny houses once we'd saved enough or the lotto finally decided to send fortune our way. Cool, I thought, what a great way to live.
Bob was already apportioning our friends and family on their future visits into them. A tiny house or two on our property would would give everyone their privacy and look cute in the process.
When I espoused the whole romantic notion of living in a tiny house ourselves, my husband baulked at the idea. Living in such a small space without rooms to retreat to was a no-go for him. Ha, if and when we do have one in our yard, Bob would be the first person to move in and love it.
But, it got me thinking about how we use our spaces at the moment. As big as our house is, we usually only use half of it. The lounge, kitchen and bathroom are where we spend most of our time and happily so. No, it isn't as small as a tiny house would be but not far from it. We are merely burdened with extra rooms which we have filled to capacity with stuff we don't use and may never need again.
I think that that must be the appeal of tiny house living. No spare rooms for collecting stuff. Bob and I arrived here in Burgenland eight years ago with only boxes of books and a suitcase of our clothes. One would imagine that we are living clutter free but sadly no. For some reason we have collected a lot of things that we might use one day. Not necessarily bought either. A lot of stuff we hoard has been given to us by those who have cleverly decided to go clutter free.
I do hope the concept of tiny-house living catches on because when I look around I tend to see a lot of home owners only using half the space of their home for living and the other half for storage...
" Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. "Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
" ' Classic '- a book which people praise and don't read. "Mark Twain
" Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. " Charles W. Eliot
" In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. "Mortimer J. Adler
" I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. "Ralph Waldo Emerson
" People can lose their lives in libraries, they ought to be warned. "Saul Bellow
" To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. "W. Somerset Maugham, Books and You
" Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading. "Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge
" Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. "Henry Ward Beecher
I only noticed yesterday whilst cuddling her on my lap that her mouth sports a gap. Yes, our darling Tiggi has lost her teeth and as sadly there are no cat-dentures on the market, yet, we have to make a different plan with regards to meals.
Both of our cats at times get a treat, a treat they seem to love and one that resembles a slim salami, nicely flavoured but though as nails which I discovered this morning when Tiggi battled like crazy to eat one of the little pieces I'd broken off for her. Shame, poor darling.
Not that I have looked for them but I am sure there must be treats for senior cats on the market. As I said to Bob earlier on, the next lot of food for her will have to be the soft, no-need-to-be-chewed kind. Mausi has a small selection of pates in her food larder, which I know she at times refuses to eat ( maybe she'd rather wait until old age when she's got no other choice ) so they have been designated for our toothless gal.
With every passing day this gal keeps melting my heart further and further. She now jumps onto my lap when I sit on the front door step and the two of us sit like that for at least ten minutes. Her purring and cuddling into my lap and I glad to give her a feeling of being loved towards the latter half of her life.
This morning when my folks came over for a Mother's day breakfast, Tiggi was as usual outside in the driveway and the minute she spotted mum, she rushed up to her to be picked up. So, when I came to the door to give mum a hug, she was already busy giving a long hug to an ecstatic Tiggi...
What makes Fridays so special? Everyone is excited, happy and friendly. Two days of not working might have something to do with it. A Friday evening is not to be scoffed at after all. Knowing one hasn't got to get up at the crack of dawn changes the whole outlook. Movies can be watched, soccer matches seen ( don't get me started on our misfortune of not having watched those two epic, once in a lifetime, games. Klopp, my new favourite soccer coach ) and elaborate suppers made.
Bob should be home any moment and like a good wife I have chilled a couple of bottles of beer for him. Well deserved ones. The weather has been warm bordering on hot despite threatening clouds encroaching on the horizon and working in hot humid conditions walking up and down the vineyard is not for the faint of heart. A real fitness challenge.
Tomorrow a cold front is yet again gracing us with a visit albeit and thankfully a shortish one. Once it has vacated the premises we can get going with planting in our vegetable garden. No more frost in store for a while. I for one can't wait to eat home grown tomatoes. Absolutely fabulous to be able to step outside to pick one's vegetables.
Let's get the weekend started...
As you know, our little wildcat has become a pussy cat. Sweet and cuddly with a mind of her own. Just the other day she decided to grace our new neighbours with a visit that lasted all night. Yes, I found out that she shivered on my neighbour's veranda and thus has managed to procure a second home. A shelter from us?
Mum says that she was looking for me and got lost but for whatever reason she left for the night, we are glad that she has somewhere to go to. Although I did ask Stephanie not to feather Tiggi's nest too well as I would miss her terribly if she changed residence.
Having missed her so much this one night ( she is back home again ), I now take extra care to make her feel at home. Bribing her with a new lushious blanket in her lair and a vitamin paste for dessert. I know, I know!
A few moments ago I came home from work and was faced with a cat lounging on our driveway waiting for my return and when she did see our red car, said cat jumped up and ran towards me and the car. Any thought of driving swiftly up to the garage was negated by her constant return to the middle of our driveway even though I did get out three times to carry her to the windowsill, flower pot and doorway. Anywhere but the car's path.
Apart from looking like a fool for any neighbouring eyes watching our red car inch backwards and forwards in the driveway there was only one solution. I got out, picked up the gal, got back in the car with her on my lap and leisurely drove up our driveway. Miss Tiggi was as good as gold, happy as a camper and looked into my eyes as though to tell me, that this is now the new norm. Oh dear, I haven't told Bob yet...
Bob had a medical check-up day today and we coordinated it with a bit of grocery shopping culminating with the coup de grace, flea medication for our feline kids from the local pharmacy. Yes, in Austria many ointments and pills which one can buy over the counter in South Africa can only be obtained from a pharmacy here. Headache tablets included!
When we got to the parking lot, Bob did what any self-respecting husband would do...he sent me in while he waited in the car. Who wouldn't be happier out of germs' path? Gosh, the few minutes I was in there at least three people bought cough medication and one person a course of antibiotics. A flue spike perhaps?
Eventually it was my turn and after the obligatory banter across the counter, I went outside, and got into the car. Driver's side as Bob had had his eyes tested and wasn't up to driving. Not often I get the chance of sitting in the driver's seat...
Well, Bob was pale and had a slightly shocked expression on his face.
" Honey, are you alright? " " No, I am in a state of shock! "Now I was alarmed and seriously thought something bad had happened...
" Oh my god, you won't believe it. I was watching a young family with a baby in the pram and a girl of about four walking past me into the pharmacy when the little girl smiled, waved and said to me:Enough said, suffice to say that Bob is considering cloaking material for his slightly greying hair...' Hallo Opa ' "
" Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself. "Basil Bunting
" They travelled for thirteen hours down-hill, whilst the streams broadened and the mountains shrank, and the vegetation changed, and the people ceased being ugly and drinking beer, and began instead to drink wine and be beautiful. "E.M.Forster, Where Angels Fear To Tread
" The only way of rendering life endurable is to drink as much wine as one can come by. " James Branch Cabell, Beyond Life
" What's foreign one can't always keep quite clear of,For good things, oft, are not so near;A German can't endure the French to see or hear of, Yet drinks their wine with hearty cheer. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
" A vine bears three grapes, the first of pleasure, the second of drunkenness and the third of repentance. "Diogenes Laertius, The Complete Works
" Wine is the nurse of old age. "Galen
" Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares. "Ralph Waldo Emerson
Despite the rain it was a good start for all our wine farmers. To me it felt as if there were even more partakers than last year but maybe I based this on seeing the bus filled to capacity. Many expectant faces rearing to taste their first sip of the good stuff.
Rechnitz was on form again what with the ease of transport. If the bus didn't drive there, the local taxi would, free of charge. Funny thing about the taxi. It was a new owner/driver and the only words I spoke with him was the polite " Thank you very much for driving us " as I got out the back seat and straight away he said:
" You aren't from here, are you? You must be a Bavarian! "How perceptive of him...turns out he is from Salzburg which is only a hop skip away from where I grew up. Small world and good hearing.
Eisenberg, the parts of it where I tasted wine, was great too. Many people were milling about with obligatory wine glass dangling from their necks. A real successful crush indeed and hopefully the tills were ringing for our wine farmers. Those that drove themselves did buy a lot of wine to take home.
Luckily I had an excuse to leave early to feed our cats, who by the way where overjoyed to see their mummy. Day two today and I think we are sampling some of Gaas's and Deutsch Schützen's wines. The weather isn't going to fantastic but it is the company that counts after all...
Weinfrühling is upon us again and I for one can't believe how quickly one year melts into the next. But, there it is. We are mere hours away from the start of our wine tasting weekend and rearing to go. One slight complaint is that rain is accompanying us the whole way.
It started yesterday afternoon and hasn't stopped since. Our friends from London have arrived and this time in a deluge of water and not the usual sunny sky. Gosh, they feel almost at home because isn't that sort of normal English weather? Good for the complexion at least.
Somehow we have started a tradition of eating at our ' local ' restaurant in Hungary and last night we ate in yet another hither undiscovered room. The cellar, and literally the wine cellar which proved to be a stellar evening. They ordered their platter for two and luckily they knew to wear stretch pants...of course not but it was a lot of food indeed.
This morning after breakfast will see us heading out to Rechnitz by bus and it should prove to be a great day despite the rain. We all have umbrellas and honestly, after a few wine tastings one tends to forget the climes around one!
Not that long ago old Tigger used to scatter away from us whenever she caught sight of us but now, just the opposite, she toddles towards us. Clever as she is, her new spot to lounge is outside the front door and sadly, regardless of rain or shine. She stays there in order not to miss out on seeing us, often though, mainly me.
Hanging up washing, a shadow. Taking the rubbish out to the bin, a shadow. Going to the car, a shadow. Cute indeed, but slightly alarming too. Tigger lives dangerously. She thinks nothing about casually lounging in the middle of our driveway, when we, Bob or I are reversing on it. Bating us to spend more time with her. Often when Bob leaves for work in the morning I hear him hoot and know that said cat is delaying his departure by lounging near his car. Only way to solve that problem is by hooting for moi to assist.
Not so when I am on my own, as I was this morning. On the way to help mum, I tried to be on time but alas, it took me five minutes to get out of our driveway. Tigger followed me to the garage, laid herself comfortably in the path where I had to reverse and despite hooting, refused to move. Like one of those silent black & white movies, yours truly got out of the car, walked to lounging cat, picked her up and put her gently on the bench outside our house. First time I walked back to the idling car only to find her missing from my rear view mirror which meant she'd moved again. Not bad for an old gal.
Oh yes, there she was again on the path, grinning up at me. Second time around I hastened my gait slightly back to the idling car but only got my pace right on the third and last try. I just managed to pass her without her being in any danger of the rolling tyres. Dear Tigger, what on earth?
Coming back home later, after doing some shopping, the whole sequence of events described above took place in reverse. Gee whizz, it took me three tries to get her out of the drive way and the car up it. She thinks it is sheer joy to be picked up by mummy and honestly, I see trying driving times ahead.
Earlier I went outside to talk to some workmen across the road and there she was, sprinting at high speed to be at my side and to save her from an oncoming lorry, I picked her up and held her in the crook of my left arm whilst talking to the workman. Oh, she was enjoying it and nary moved a paw. And to think that she was feral for so many years...
" I cannot live without books. "Thomas Jefferson ( 1743-1826 )
" The sound of a kiss is not as loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a deal longer. "Oliver Wendell Holmes ( 1841-1935 )
" The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it. "Woodrow Wilson ( 1856-1924 )
" Simplify, simplify. "Henry David Thoreau ( 1817-1862 )
" How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese? "Charles de Gaulle ( 1890-1970 )
" My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. " Claude Monet ( 1840-1926 )
" The deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles. "Montesquieu ( 1689-1755 )
" To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight. "Montesquieu ( 1689-1755 )
" Not to be loved is a misfortune, but it is an insult to be loved no longer. "Montesquieu ( 1689-1755 )
A few years ago we were given one of those fancy coffee making machines. The one that you put coffee beans into and the machine grinds and brews them for a perfect cup. Many a year the two of us have been sipping nice strong coffee in the mornings, alas, made one after the other and with enough noise to wake up the neighbourhood. When family or friends stay with us we only have our first cup at the decent hour of six o'clock.
A guest had left a Bodum coffee maker in one of mum's and as she doesn't need or use it, she passed it onto me. It has been faithfully gathering dust on our shelf while it was awaiting a chance to be used. That chance was slim to none as Bob is enamoured with his coffee machine. The odd occasions when we have family to stay, or we have a big family breakfast, I haul out another ancient but perfectly sufficient beans to cup converter. A filter coffee machine, magically able to make coffee for all simultaneously!
Last week, I took it upon my self to clean Bob's machine. I took out all the bits and eh, bobs, washed them and put them back together again. Or at least tried to. Oh dear, something was clearly wrong and after twenty minutes of ardently trying I threw in the towel and called for backup. Bob came to have a go and after a while was heard to mutter ( apart from expletives ) that I had had it in for this machine for some time and perhaps I had helped it along. As if I would have done more than thought that!
Happy visions of making coffee the old fashioned way floated in my mind but after a few hours to cool down ( Bob that is ), the machine decided to grace us with its presence for another while. At least my husband was happy again but I had already strayed to a cup of coffee made with the bodum.
We only have coffee beans but we do have a smoothie maker. I put a few beans in it and gave them a whirl. Yeah, it worked and they morphed into delicious smelling ground coffee. Easy indeed and fresher too.
Only a moment ago I made myself a cup of brewed coffee in my Bodum, complete with frothy soy milk. What a treat and what a nice afternoon pick me up. It has taught me to think a bit further than merely running to the nearest shop to buy stuff as most of the time there is an easier solution and in this case, a better tasting one as well.
Oh, who hasn't had them? Those moments where everything seems to have lost its shine, moods are moody to say the least and thoughts are annoyingly clouded by the ' glass half empty ' lens and words are weighed minutely on the scale of outrage. Luckily these moments are fleeting and can be blown away by the tiniest of things, deeds or words.
Our treasure Tigger has morphed into a real sponge for our moodiness. How could I not discard any loitering unhappiness when the moment I open the door to step outside she comes running in that awkward gait of hers, beaming from ear to ear? She has shaken off any last remnants of shyness and lives her days trying to get close to us.
Her new abode de rest is right outside our front door and when we are out, she reclines a bit further down our driveway with a view of the gate. Doesn't want to miss out on seeing us return. In fact, we often have to stop the car, get out and shoo her to the side lest she thinks that the car won't hurt her. Yes, both her eyesight and hearing is slipping but then again, when she spots us, her legs kick into a faster gear.
Animals have a unique ability to make us forget troubles, problems and situations even if for just a few minutes. Animals have the most special characters and idiosyncrasies that attest to their intelligence. Tigger has now realized that we are there for her and has placed her little heart and life in our hands...
Don't worry, our princess Mausi is still top-dog in our house and has enough personality to wrap both of us around her little paw although the last few days she has been giving a running commentary, complaint and orders to Bob non-stop which I can only equate to young kids irritating their parents by asking ' Why? ' all day long. Oh yes, the patience of even this saint is tried...
I admit that I am overly enthused about health and how to get it but that isn't such a bad thing, is it? In any case, my wonderful husband mostly bears the brunt of my healthy madness but as someone asked him the other day : " Gosh what is your secret to looking so young? ", I am sure he'll put up with more of my many ideas and suggestions.
We had family to stay last week and I purposefully kept quiet on our way of eating apart from eating that way. Our nephew, almost twelve, is a typical kid, one who picks at food and isn't overly fond of the healthy variety. Well, day two had me offer him a breakfast smoothie, which he was willing to try. Oh yes, I sneaked in healthy ingredients under the taste disguise of banana and blueberries.
He liked it. He finished it and over the course of their stay with us, he asked me to make him one every day. Yeah! Towards the end I even put in a dash of dried kale ( I do the same with Bob's ), linseed and chia seeds. All the stuff kids normally won't touch. Well, disguised in a banana smoothie, they tasted just fine.
Anyway, about a week after they had gone back home, my sister in law contacted me to ask how to make this infamous breakfast smoothie. Turns out that our nephew had asked her:
" Mum, I really liked that smoothie Auntie Birgit made. Can you ask her how to make it? "Wow, I can't tell you how fabulous that made me feel. Another convert to healthy eating. Bob's chuffed too and we both hope that the healthy winning streak will continue...
It was mum's idea and a good one. A walk through the forest ending up with lunch in one of Czaterberg's Buschenschanks. The weather was better than expected and apart from t-shirts we only took one thin jersey. Bob was euphoric as he wore a pair of shorts. Yes, summer is upon our doorstep.
We set off mid-morning and had a nice walk amid the forest behind our house and found our destination fifty minutes later. Easy peasy and we were rewarded with a great lunch sitting outside in the Easter sunshine. My folks, a friend and the two of us. My folks of course were clever as they had the car there to take them back home but we youngens in high spirits after a couple of glasses wine decline their offer to drive us home. No, we wanted to walk back...the same way we had come.
About twenty minutes after my folks left we three set off back home. Soon after that Bob had the brilliant idea to do a short cut. A short cut he had never been on and a short cut in the local forest. Well, they do say all roads lead to Rome and I had it in my mind that all unknown walks in a forest go around in circles.
Bob, old tech style used the sun for orientation and kept on mentioning for us to walk in such a way that the sunshine touched the right side of our face and as he usually is spot on with directions, I tamely followed. Well, let's just say that we all walked off our lunch and impending supper as it took us close to two hours to get home. After a while all paths look familiar even though they were not.
All is well that ends well and of course we got home safe and sound albeit extremely tired. Just like swimming on a full stomach is eschewed, so should walking with it be. As we turned into our driveway ( almost dropping to our knees to kiss it ) we happened across our new neighbours. A young couple who asked us where we had gone to as they had seen us leave earlier on and also why there were three not four people coming back! Oh well, the neighbourhood watch is alive and well...