Wednesday, December 17, 2014

bitches without borders

A friend who lives abroad messaged me on Facebook this morning to share the link to a blog she'd discovered, a smug, twee, self-aggrandising blog of the kind we just LOVE to HATE.

Mean hey? Narrow-minded and callous and nasty of us wasn't it? Yeah.

What made it even more fun? The blog author works in my friend's building! Yup, it's internet GOLD: discovering the awful blog of an awful colleague. Doesn't get much better than that.

The blog wasn't as bad as this one, but pretty damn close. And we've spent the day in a fine old feast of reading and international bitchin' and googling and bitchin' some more.

My kids have eaten toast all day, I've got a backlog of emails I need to attend to and I just had to rewash a load of laundry because it's been sitting wet in the machine since this morning.

I imagine my friend has been similarly unproductive.

We've basically spent the day leaning over our cyber-picket fence having a good old bitch about the suspiciously-perfect-lady-down-the-street. I love the internet.

What was that about the season of goodwill? I'll get back into that tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

love and (no) light

South Africa is currently (electricity-related pun #1) having a Power Crisis. 

Newspapers, dinner parties, online everything - it's all End of Days out there. One, two, three .... Zimbabwe y'all.

And yes, I know it's serious, and yes it's not convenient to lose power in scheduled 2h chunks (excepting when it goes out at 4pm on Fridays - I can kind of live with that), and yes it speaks of Bigger Problems ... but I've just not had a lot of head space for extraneous problems of late. 

We have a gas stove, we have a solar-powered mason jar, we're okay.

And when the lights went out on Saturday evening, we had resident otters visit us on our lawn as the wild yellow moon rose behind them.
We had wild tumbling dogs, skittish and free, to entertain us and bang into our ankles.

We had an enormous girl, all recovered from her tonsillectomy and back on form, chasing miggies in the dark while her sister, sticky and exhausted from a party that afternoon, slumbered away upstairs.

We might not have had lights, but we had a lot of love. And I know which one powers my world.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

all the crazy

I'd written the final To Do list on the back of the in-flight sick bag flying home from Joburg one evening earlier in the week.
Reading through it made me feel vaguely ill.

That Friday I was on fire. Tearing around town with my hands-free plugged in - taking calls, sending docs from Google Drive, answering queries and mails, the pre-event Whatsapp group trilling like an insistent baby bird.
All hail the smart phone.

Meetings, collections, ego stroking, deliveries, putting out fires and lighting new ones.
It struck me I'd never felt so alive while at the same time wanting to die.
That's what event work does for me.

At home the madness continued. Wedding cake prep, food for the kids for the weekend, must do something about my toenails, deworm the dogs, email, email, email.

And into the next morning ...

Kids to my Mum's, frantic working until the very moment of departure - cake and accouterments in the back, me in the middle with lists, dogs scattered about, glad rags carefully packed.

We were off.

Emails and texts from the back seat, bull terrier drool on my contact list, car sickness and an over-riding impatience to just BE THERE.

Finally I sent the last text, we dropped the dogs off at the boarding kennels .... and we were free.

Free to watch our friends commit to each other. To laugh and play with some dearly beloveds. To soak in this view at sunset and moonrise while celebrating life and love.
That's some freedom right there.

Later there was The Cake - so unexpectedly yellow, but so delicious -

- and dancing and margaritas and night swimming and stumbling home to our chalets in big white fuzzy robes.
There was waking to birdsong and a hangover breakfast which couldn't be beat, and a swim in the ocean on our way home.
There was this brief respite before ....

A dawn flight to Johannesburg on Monday morning. A totally moving tribute to the work of the Treatment Action Campaign and a couple of personal tears for the memories of working with them nearly a decade ago - how far they've come, how far I've come!

Work hard.
Play hard.
Loved ones.
Back to me.

These are the recurring themes for 2014. It's been such a good year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I was in Johannesburg yesterday, just for the day.

A pre-event recce, venue walk-through, planning session, shake 'em up kind of day. I'm coordinating a big event there on the 1st.

I didn't take a single picture because I was moving too fast, and also because Braamfontein's not really the kind of place you take out your camera and linger.

But luckily others have, and I'm borrowing some of their pics here ....

The giant Eland we flashed past on our drive in from the station.

The achingly cool coffee stop where I picked up a delicious Flat White for FIVE RAND LESS than you'd ever buy one in Cape Town.

The colourful buildings I ran-walked past on my way back to the station in the late afternoon, a mix of adrenalin and unease fueling my suspicion that it was a little late to be out walking - the rainclouds looming along with my paranoia.

Other fun things which happened:
Telling someone over the phone to calm the fuck down, in full earshot of the whole office.
Accidentally exposing some massive internal incompetence.
Spilling hot chips down my cleavage in front of the ultra-Orthodox accountant.

I love visiting Joburg, I think I've said this before. And this short jam-packed visit to the inner-city was really inspiring and energising.

I'm back at my desk today. I should be exhausted from a busy day and a late night. But I think I brought some Jozi energy home with me. I feel okay, I feel motivated.
And this is a good thing, because there's fuck loads to do!

Monday, November 24, 2014

the best of times, the worst of times

It's a BIG month of affirmation and freedom for husband and I.

I'm working like a maniac and being appreciated and affirmed daily for the job(s!) I'm doing.

Husband is hooking new clients, building relationships and laying the foundation for a new future for his company.

I had that marvelous girls weekend ....

.... he's still recovering from a wild bachelor weekend ...

I had an exhilarating, exhausting, misty, death-defying, amazing walk up Table Mountain to celebrate a special friend's 40th yesterday ...

... and we've still got The Wedding to look forward to this Saturday. The best of times!

But at the same time ... Frieda's had her tonsils out and it's been a rough week for her the poor, stoic, darling.

The op was last Tuesday and she's still in so much pain ... hardly talking at all and writing the most heart-breakingly sweet notes.

Twelve words to tell me the puppy was looking at her yoghurt. The child clearly misses communicating.
She's missing school, and her friends, and jumping on the trampoline - but she's also been a total hero; colouring next to me while I work, playing games on the tablet, watching lots of crap, thinking, dreaming, cuddling with the cats. She's really handled it so well, but it's not been fun.
The worst of times.

It is weird that we should all be having these vastly different life experiences right now, but it's even weirder that we're able to - that the bonds of parent and child have stretched just that much that we can be experiencing different things, while still being so close together.

With babies and young kids when they're miserable, you're miserable. When they're not sleeping, you're not sleeping. The boundaries between your experience and theirs are virtually non-existent. Now slowly we're able to live our own lives, parallel but individual.

Interesting times.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

the very best of friends (vol 4)

We've a best friend, someone we've loved dearly for years (he and husband have been friends since they were 7!).

This guy is special. He was one of these.
One highly eligible bachelor.

But only for another week or so.

There will be a wedding next weekend. One of those where we'll dance with the lightest of feet and the happiest of hearts.

A wedding for all the right reasons - for love, for friendship, for celebrating life - a wedding to bind two people together, and strengthen the ties which connect us all.

But first there was an idyllic beach weekend for the girls, and this weekend there's a river adventure for the boys, and then next weekend, next weekend we dance.

*First pic mine, rest by friends. Gotta love Instagram filters right?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

halloween grinch

I just ... don't really like Halloween.

Most of my reasons place me firmly in the 'old fart' camp, but strangely I'm okay with that.

1. Really? Since when is Halloween a thing?
It wasn't when I was a kid, or even a young adult, or even a not-so-young adult, but gradually the long arm of consumerism has elevated 31 Oct up out of the calendar and into a place in which money must be spent and effort made and something celebrated.
Oh no wait, nothing gets celebrated, except by the manufacturers of candy and fake blood - they're having a lovely time.

2. The candy is gross.
I'm not a sugar nazi. I have a firm suspicion that my youngest (she of the remarkably sweet tooth of course) should probably not eat too much of it, I suspect it makes her bonkers, but I'm not proactive enough to try and ban it and I think I have a pretty standard policy on sugar consumption (ie not enough to ruin dinner and/or make you puke), but I don't like shit sweets.
And because everyone's compelled to buy so much of it to hand out on Halloween, there's usually a lot of shit, fake, disgusting plastic-masquerading-as-candy candy.

3. Scary is not cool.
We live in a country, nay a WORLD that is completely and utterly terrifying on a daily basis. Scary lost its cool in my book a long time ago. Round about when I become an old fart probably.
Ditto: wounds, blood, violent deaths, embracing the dark side, jokes about Ebola, weaponry of any kind.

4. Entitlement is unattractive.
Already our kids, all of our kids, even the really nice ones, are becoming painful about expecting Christmas presents, birthday parties, chocolate at Easter and cash from the Tooth Fairy. Now we're encouraging them to run around with buckets demanding sweets from people not even related to them or obliged to put out because of a complex social code of reciprocal present-giving.

5. It blows.
The wind that is. Late October in Cape Town is howling, throbbing, blasting South-Easter season. An invasive and spiteful wind that chills you to the bone, even when the sun shines, that blows grit into all your exposed orifices (and some that aren't), that ruins your hair and your picnic and your mood.
It always blows on Halloween. Really not a good time to be outside.

HOWEVER, the good news is: there is wine. Plenty of it.

And if you're lucky there are friends who aren't old farts and arrange fun and age-appropriate Halloween events in which you and your children can participate.
Friends who make snacks, and provide safe and welcoming environments out of the wind in which to eat those snacks, and drink that wine, while the sugar-fueled children run amok in the night.

My grinchiness abated .... did a slight encore to accompany my hangover the next morning, and then went back into hibernation until next year.

The Littlest Jaguar and SHOUTY MUM, appropriately wind-swept.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

more about the phone

To reiterate, I'm not one of those Mother Grundies who goes on about the whole phone = zombie thing.
I mean, a second related post in one week doesn't count as going ON does it?

In fact, I loved this meme my sister-in-law posted recently ...

... let's keep some perspective okay?

However, I am more consciously noting in public how many people are busy with their phones. Just noting mind you, not judging.

And maybe I'm being more conscious about pulling out my phone as my default response when waiting, or bored, or when hanging out with friends.

I went partying last Friday night and consciously only took my phone out my bag twice. The first time was to send husband this message:

'Have ditched my lift home. Am officially With The Band. Don't wait up.'

The second was to check his response. It was:

'Rock on.'

This is why I love that man.

I don't have any photos of the evening, no Facebook check-ins or updates, I may even one day (gasp) not remember the evening at all ... but I danced for 4 hours and had some hilarious conversations, face to face.

And only 2 people bumped me on the dance floor because they were texting while dancing ... not judging, just saying.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

watch this space

The last watch I owned I was given for my 15th birthday. I wish I still had it. I think the plastic strap eventually perished and snapped after languishing in a drawer for many years.

I'm not a watch-wearer.

Until now.

This morning I bought a watch (the simplest one I could find from the second shop I went into - I'm not a watch-connoisseur).

My reasoning is two-fold:

1. My time management sucks.
2. I'm trying to escape the tyranny of my phone.

We've all seen the campaigns and memes and photo essays about us all becoming zombies, staring at our phones instead of interacting with our fellow human beings etc etc. I don't really buy that too much yet (but we'll talk again when my kids have phones...), and I deeply appreciate how much more flexible my life and my time has become since I'm able to get emails on my phone etc.
When I see someone with their nose in (on?) their phone I like to think they're reading an interesting article, firming up plans to get together with their best friends, rearranging ballet classes so they can have more time with their kids, or checking the time.

Because that's what I'm doing 70% of the times I look at my phone. Checking to see just how late I am.

And, to be completely anal, I've timed myself - to find my phone in my bag, turn it the right way round, wake it up, check the time, turn it 'off' and put it back takes at least 8 seconds. Doesn't sound like a lot of time but it's about 8 times faster to just glance at my wrist.
And then I'm not that guy, the one staring at her phone while the children plead 'Muuuuuuum' and shoppers judgingly veer around us.

So I'll give this watch thing a go.

I probably won't be any more punctual, and I'm sure to get eczema under the strap just like I did 24 years ago, but let's see ....

Monday, October 27, 2014

bright lights, big city

My children have a far, far more urban childhood than I had, but we still don't really do a lot of city-specific outings with them.
They hardly ever go to a mall, virtually never shop with me and we don't do a lot of movies and restaurants and the like.
This isn't so much a big lifestyle decision as a reflection of my lack of enthusiasm for malls and shopping, husband's near agoraphobia in crowds, and a general preference for being outdoors.

So Saturday morning at the V&A Waterfront was a big thrill for the girls. And for me actually.

I would LOVE to travel with them at the moment, proper international travel I mean. We're done with nappies and prams and daytime naps and all that jazz, we're into walking and trying new things and people watching and sight-seeing - it feels like such a good stage for adventuring.

But for now we'll have to make do with being tourists in our own town ...

... sniff-testing every single sample at the Body Shop ...

... getting street 'tattoos'...

... and generally being wowed by it all.

It's a pretty good city to be a tourist in after all!