So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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The Farmhouse

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I’ve been really trying to get myself back into the swing of things here,despite my doubt over our future here. I must be wholehearted or it will of course fail. So, having missed all the outings of the Trachtenfrauen, I got in contact and joined them for a meeting about the coming up inaugration of our new Mayor. The ceremony is indivivual to Ramingstein, although it echoes the Tamsweg Verein(Club) inauagration, in that there will be a parade and little plays about the life of the Mayor. It will start from his house in Kendlbruck and go on foot to the Gemeinde building in Ramingstein. Apparently, something else unique is a chest which is placed in there for people to post ideas -good and bad.  The theme the group has chosen remains top secret as I write, there will be ten groups and none know what the other is doing!!!

I took off on a wet and windy night with three other ladies right up into an alm farm house in a remote part of the area. The meeting was great, I got my cossy sorted, learnt the song and enjoyed some really good zirben schapps.

This is all a long winded way into what I want to talk about!  The farm was really old, with its own Troad kasten and we were led into a hall full of boots and coats and a farmy atmosphere. We went into what must be the guest Stuberl, a large room with a Kachelofen and a table with fixed seats around it- I was itching for my camera. On the walls were photos of the family, sewn tablecloths, and the Crucifix, along with solid wooden furniture. A musical, shooting family, I could see from the shields and instruments in the room, And so much clutter, one whole cabinet filled with gifts, and knickknacks just tumbled in on each other. The room had a frieze around the edge and white walls.

It was a mix of old and new, traditional and modern and a living family, just what I would expect from a modern farming family. Having only ever been in the farm museums, it was a real insight. Outside was a bit too tidy for an old farm -the yard outside was grassed rather than mud and the buildings all mended and looked after. I was also a bit jealous. But here am I after seven years here, still being amazed at my experiences, as an outside and it always being a bit new -hope it lasts. What also strong me was the longevetity, the family living there all their lives, the constancy, and to me I feel that so restrictive- all that time in one place, not for me!

And it was a bizarre time, here was I in an old farmhouse half way up a mountain in the pouring rain, sipping schnapps and singing songs and dancing with twenty odd women dressed in various stages of costumes as…..tell you later!

 


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Stripey paint

What a job, going around Austria with a tin of stripey paint!

This was originally written abotu a year after we moved here, but I think it still applies, with more I’m thinking of!

Things I love about Austria and the Lungau

*Walking in the mountains following footways marked in red and white stripey paint

* Driving into Tamsweg in the early morning in winter and seeing the moutains literally pink in the sunrise

*Eating Kasierschmarrn in mountain huts

*The fields full of dandelions in May, covering the whole valley in shades of yellow

*Burg Fintsergruen, although working there was a little stessfull at times last year, the old place has got a bit of my heart – maybe because I see it out of the kitchen window everyday.

*Seeing farmers going to do their shopping on their tractors with a crate of beer in the lifter behind

* Spring flowers in the mountains and the smell of the meadow flowers below our flat

*Cows going to the Alms in spring

What I don’t like

*Smoky restaurants and Pubs

*Ice


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Niedermohr – a place without culture

View from Guest house window

Niedermohr, the village we stayed in, I found fascinating and found out what all I could. The whole area is very low-lying and is obviously drained water meadows with thick black soil.  Yet at the top od the hills, the land is red, like in Devon, and I found they think it is full of sand, copper and iron. 

The houses I soon noticed had their cellar windows above ground and asked the Landlady if this was right.  She said the area is prone to flooding and where they are converting an old house, the earth cellar is constantly wet and they have to lag it.

She herself offered the idea that this area is without culture.  They local population was wiped out by every plague that has swept Europe, with only a resurgence in the 16/17th century before another bout of illness.  It’s not surprising with the low lying, swampy nature of the land. There  was a couple of battles there in the 18th century and a couple of castles still survive.  Farming is decline apart from growing Maize for heating fuel. So how do you attract people to an area where there is no culture?  Is this an attraction in itself?  The village looked just like a commuter belt place, no shop, just the station and many old farmhouses either abandoned or converted into flats. Most of the income in the area is generated by working for or coming from the USA airbase.There is the attraction of miles and miles of unlimited riding or walking.  But this would have to be marketed, with maybe a marked path such as the Niedermohr route if you see what I mean.  The couple who run the Guest house where we stayed have just built extra flats, and maybe they can bring the riders in if they create a riding centre – but the buildings at the Riding school require a bit of investment to get up to licensed standard, at the moment it’s just half livery,maybe if someone needs to invest in a whole new centre! Yet I feel they are on the right way, maybe Niedermohr will just have a horsey culture of its own!

Maybe you could visit to for a ride!

www.husarenhof.com


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Der Lungau, Four Years along -Winter

Schneeeeeeeee!

I wrote this last year, so may be a bit repetitive, we’ve more snow now too!

Four years, my the time goes by.  Life seems to be settling into a new, seasonal routine which makes all seem familiar and like home. It seems to be that the months after Christmas are the most boring, almost a time of hibernation.  I’d rather have the summer off like when I as at the Fortune Centre.  New Year begins with loads of fireworks like in England, but sometimes, they are just chucked about in the big parties in the square.  They’re never sold from a locked cabinet, although teenagers are banned from buying them. If you want you can buy Children’s fireworks – smaller versions of the adults ones -ahhh! If there’s enough snow, Dave and I can go Langlaufing or even falling over in the snow. 

This is because he works so many extra hours in the summer, he gets almost all of January and February off.  Even when I was with Lois it was quieter with him too.  Yet it’s so easy to get bored and into lassitude. Cabin fever even.  We did a lot of DIY last year, having tiled the kitchen, so much better than laminate, they actually seem to catch the heat of the wood stove – luvly.  We can’t garden until maybe the end of March as the ground is frozen! 

The year roles out thus. We have the Star singers – the three Kings come in January  (and always one blacked up!).  They raise money for charity, and get a cut, carefully negotiated with the Priest.  All the events I am talking about can be no doubt more accurately read about on the links I’ve put on the Blog.

The Stern singers

 Then it’s party time as there is a season of masked balls and then it’s Faschings or Shrove Tuesday, when there’s lots of parades in fancy dress – not quite like Rio de Janiro, ready for fasting time. We had a real laugh at the Mayor dressed as a Smurf.  These parades go back into folk history and have had people dressed as dancing bears and strange masked costumes.

Fasching parade

There’s Icestockshiessen parties- skittles on ice which we must learn how to do. Where England descends into debt and gloom after Christmas, Austria parties!  The farmers cut loads of timber before the sap rises, mainly by continually thinning, a far prettier way of clearing, but its amazing how they slide the trees down the hills for collection.


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Still no snow!

The forecast says its coming tonight, and certainly the tops of the mountains which we can see  have their coating of icing sugar, so maybe the snow panic will be over this week. The only thing I really don’t like about the stuff is driving before the ploughs have been out and its rutted.  And of course as we’re newcomers to the game, we tend to drive more cautiously than the locals and they get so impatient.

I’m getting quite childishly excited over Christmas, we’ve got a small tree by the porch with white lights I’ve only seen one other in red here, and I’ve got the deccies ready for the tree but that really will wait a couple of weeks. The main thing I’m building towards is my planned party for the neighbours.  I’m inviting all the houses in our little hamlet and to this end have cooked several Christmas cakes and will have a mince pie making extravaganza next week.  The tradition here is biscuit baking but surely I’m allowed to cling a bit to my cultural traditions? My only problem is Paggy, we cannot not invite him but he has alienated himself from most of the people here by being obnoxious and difficult over the years and I’m afraid that because of him the others wont come.  We did think of having it on two days but as Dave may be on selling Christmas tree duties on Saturdays its not practical. I’m going to tell Paggy it will be an alcohol free zone (except in the cakes), maybe he wont stay long.  Oh I hate being in the middle, I seem to have been there all my life – between my mother and my Grandmother, Mum and my brothers, kids and father, I suppose I should be experienced! What would you do?????

Dave had some unexpected time off last week, and so we have a new project of insulating our wooden porch, polystyrene then laminate – which we found  was cheaper than wooden cladding and it looks good! I may have the chance of a job in St Martin, with an English family who run ski chalets, working as a cleaner again, I have to find something. Is it a backward step as it’s a bit in English although I’d be working with local people?


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Follow the Peace

 

When you have God’s will and you are meeting his in your heart, there’s a peace.  It’s difficult to describe and I can only say that by having re found it, I’m now so aware of how I had lost it.  I was so eaten away by bitterness at the Erna at work situation and I was causing strife in my mind because I was just letting my damaged pride eat away at me, when we live in strife the devil has a foothold (Thanks Joyce Meyer)

 So I’ve been back to praying and reading, and come to a realisation that I need a daily realignment in my thinking and actions. I wanted to care for those at work, even Erna. When she started the ignoring me, I thought (and this didn’t come from me), dear Erna, she is a sister in Christ and I’ll be with her in eternity (HELP!!!!!!) and the following sensation was sweet.  Driving up the hill to the Burg one morning after an early shower, the sun caught the rain drops and golden light filtered through, and I was overwhelmed with the beauty of his creation, and was filled with joy.  I haven’t had a moment like that for ages. 

 I’ve been wary of fasting for a while, for those who say that you get closer to God and have new insights.  But surely isn’t that just the effect of having low blood sugar and other chemical changes in the blood?  This moment in a way proved it to me, I was happily well fed and untired when this happened.  I think fasting should be a discipline for the body, God I don’t think loves you more because you’re hungry –someone comment?

 For several days following this I was filled with this Holy sweetness and the light around me on the plants and trees gave them a new beauty.  The supernatural is so close but we fail to perceive it.

 My perceptions changed too, when Edith suggested we work with the disabled people, my heart leapt – mainly because it is financially viable for them which we had thought not.  I thought this way was blocked since I left the FCRT, but maybe it was there all along, after all, seeing the Lebenshilfe workstation was one of the key moments in deciding us for here, although I later failed two interviews – my timing not Gods?

 I was still yearning my alone time, but began to see the element of self in it.   I also had another bout of the unexplained sadness – it during when I was trying to deal with Erna at work and then Edith rang and I snapped at her.  Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit being grieved in me.  I have felt there’s a contraction in being told not to follow our feelings, but sadness/grief etc are part of them.  Maybe its in the sense of knowing.