Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Can't we have a Hottie from the 21st Century?

The Austrian Times has reported that:

“Supermodel Cindy Crawford (pictured) is the new poster girl for Austrian supermarket chain Spar Österreich.

Spar Österreich boss Gerhard Drexel said: "Spar focuses on stars when it comes to marketing. I am proud we managed to sign Cindy Crawford."

The US star, who was number three on TV station VH1’s "40 Hottest Hotties of the 1990s" list, follows TV presenter Mirjam Weichselbraun and model Heidi Klum as Spar’s poster girl.”

Hang on – “number 3 on the 40 Hottest Hotties of the 1990s?”

Isn’t it 2009? Aren’t we being dudded here? If I am going to line up for hours to get through the Kassa at my Spar I least want my poster girl to be a Hottie from the 21st Century.

But I don’t really care much – unless she is going to be at the Kassa taking my money and getting me out of there – but I think this is unlikely.

Gosh - I bet she was hard to get. “Spar? what’s that – and in Austria? – do they sell Kangaroos? How much did you say?”

Some wine bottles here have glass ‘corks’. They would be called ‘stoppers’. These are some of the weirdest things I have ever seen and take some getting used to.

The first time I encountered one I had a lot of trouble opening the bottle and buggered one corkscrew completely.

Admittedly it was not the first bottle of wine opened that night and neither of us was in peak condition when we had to engage in hand to hand combat with the rogue ‘cork’.

It took me some time to discover that that stopper was glass – and somewhat longer to accept that this was apparently common practice.

I did a search and discovered that glass stoppers are infesting the globe because:“The glass stopper makes perfect sense. It is attractive, functional and eliminates the problems associated with natural cork." So says a wine maker.

I need to get accustomed to them because they are apparently the next big thing and will replace both cork and screw tops.

There is a campaign by the cork growers in Portugal to stop the use of glass and other things but I am sure that I am probably one of only about six people on the planet who cares about them so they may as well move on and grow something more useful.

Perhaps if they start growing Poppies the USA will pay them to stop and they can retire. Better still – make wine and the EC will pay them to stop.

As cat day is approaching we have been thinking about names. If the cats are in fact delivered and we complete the payment and documentation processes to the satisfaction of the cat owner - their names will be:

Moni (Monika) Rupert Jerilderie and Sissi Leopoldina Katoomba

You may think these names are strange but we have chosen them very carefully for specific purposes. They may not mean much to you (or indeed to Moni or Sissi) but they do to us.

We have to sign a document saying that we will not eat or torture that cats, put them in the microwave oven, allow them to jump off the terrace and, if we decide to get rid of them, we have to allow the current owner the first option to take them back.

Other than this, the long wait, the clearance from Interpol, the house inspection, the payment of money, the personal references, and the bank guarantees there has not been much to the whole transaction.

Next time we need a pet I am going to Simmering to get a hedgehog.

For some time Cate has wanted some trees for the terrace so on Saturday we went to Dehner and bought two tall plants called Liguster. They are round shrub lie things on the ends of sticks and will need to be trimmed.

I am not worried by this extra task – they will be dead within a fortnight. I brushed against their leaves on Saturday and they started turning brown – I am like that with plants.

This transaction was done entirely in pig German with many English words and much gesticulation.

The plants are about 1.5 metres tall so would obviously not fit into Billy. I asked for them to be delivered and this elicited an extensive interrogation about the type of car we had and why we could not take them with us.

Having been temporarily stymied, the sales person then brandished a sheet showing the extraordinary charges that they made for deliveries to outposts such as Wien but – after clearing my head by dunking it in the fountain – I persisted with my request.

Eventually she cracked under the sustained barrage of my really bad German (she spoke NO English) and – holding her hands over her ears – ran screaming off to find a trolley and get rid of me.

I then had an entertaining discussion with someone who I think was the man who arranged deliveries. He was very friendly and I think he is either going to deliver the plants on Tuesday or come to lunch.

I was then taken by both of them to the young lady at the Kassa. Of course the numbers that the sales lady had written down were not in the computer so there was some farnarkling while this was sorted out.

She was the only Kassa open so the other customers started to get a bit edgy after 20 minutes or so. I told them to go to Spar to see Cindy Crawford.

This may have been the first home delivery they have done and it certainly caused some interest. People were shouting out at each other - probably ‘Hey we’ve got a live one here!’

As the plants are sort of shaped - and I will need to trim them for a short while until they die - Cate has bought me a dainty pair of secateurs.

On the bright side – we bought something called a "Cat Charm" which is like a little castle for cats with scratching pads on the side of it. It has two levels so can contain two cats (three if one sits on top) but Muffin – having a modicum of taste and good sense - has shown no interest.

She is quite happy with the rug for claw sharpening, as a dinner plate and for a regular vomit. (We keep the Katzengrass next to the rug so she doesn’t have far to go when her tummy is a bit wobbly).

The "Cat Charm" is less attractive than the cat net – which gives you some idea of how ghastly it really is – and Cate says I have to keep it in my dressing room – which is really the third bedroom where I do the ironing.

It can be dismantled easily so you can theoretically pull it apart and clean it. But it is made out of carpet and the designer has clearly never had a cat or seen what they do to things like carpet.

I imagine that after a couple of weeks it will be declared a safety hazard and I will put on my rubber gloves and put it in the rubbish bin. Cate can walk in front of me with a red flag in case there are any neighbours around.


  1. I thought I'd accidentally visited an adult entertainment site ! Trying to get my head around a poster girl for the supermarket. Is Spar the same as woolies or kmart ? Can't really see it here. Could you please post a photo of the cat nets and plants - am intrigued as to how hideous the nets might be. Perhaps you could encase the whole balcony with the net and then the cats could have an aviary to play in.

  2. Spar is the same as Cole or Woolies - only smaller - but there are lots more of them. Will post pics soon of cat nets and plants.

  3. Liguster are hedges, not trees. That's going to be work. Would you like my two 5 year-old potted cedars? They survive all kinds of weather (even tornadoes), use very little water, and never need trimming. They're about 4 feet tall now, including the concrete urns they're in. Of course, they're so heavy that your terrace likely would break off of the building, but they're survivors. Your neighbors below probably would not fare so well.

  4. OK Hedges - picky picky. Can they survive in full sun or do I need to buy them regenschirms?

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  6. Sorry about that. I posted a link and it didn't work.

    Privets (Liguster in German) bear white flowers in late spring-early summer; berries succeed the flowers. Prune after they have flowered; thereafter, prune them an additional 3 or 4 times during the course of the summer. They will become bushier if they are pruned frequently.

    They prefer partial shade to full sun. Grow in a soil that is slightly wet. They tolerate a wide pH range.

    Be sure to sweep up all of the trimmings when you shape or prune them, because they're highly toxic.

    Apparently, they're very popular as topiaries!

    They grow more quickly and are more malleable than boxwood shrubs, for instance (another shrub widely used in hedges). Privet hedges tolerate heavy pruning and don't seem troubled by the pollution that plagues plants in urban settings.

    Your apartment is beautiful! I can't believe those construction cranes are still up all over Wien. What a view you have though!