Tuesday, June 30, 2009
After weeks of rain and general miserable iciness (we got our first snow on the Cape mountains last week, and Thursday's max temperature was 9 degrees. I think this counts as cold in anyone's book.), Cape Town gives you a day like today.
A warm and balmy respite in the middle of winter. A day on which there's really nothing else to do but mix a thermos of gin 'n tonic, pack up the kiddie and meet an old Varsity friend in the park for an afternoon of bullshit and bliss.
And gaze upon our Mountain, recovering nicely from the big fire, looking gorgeous in a fiery mid-winter sunset.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Frieda and I went somewhere in the Jeep recently, we don't drive it very often ('cos its just shameful what that ride costs in petrol these days), but Frieda loves it, not least of all because as it's our camping car, it's highly likely to produce all kinds of bizarre bits 'n pieces to play with in the back.
I forget where we were coming from, but as usual Frieda had requested 'shoes OFF Mummy', and was happily foraging around in the back, marauding anything and everything within reach of her car-seat. I let her. It's her father's car after all : )
We got home, it was cold and wet, Frieda was cranky, I had many bags to carry, we had a brief but heated tussle getting her shoes back on.
She cried and whinged. I remained firm. I got her out the car and asked her to walk. She begged to be carried. I remained firm. She threw herself to the wet ground in hysterics. I walked into the house without her. She wailed. I remained firm and unmoved.
She finally crawled into the house, through the muddy puddles outside the door, in the throes of full omg-are-you-2? hysteria. I was aloof and unsympathetic.
She crawled to my feet and begged, begged: 'take shoes OFF Mummy, please Mummy', and as we were now inside (and her jeans were soaked and needed changing), I acquiesced and took off her shoes.
And this is what I found in her right boot.
The gas key from our camping gas bottle. Concealed in the small shoe of my tender daughter.
Bad, bad Mummy. This time I'm not even giggling.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
No, this is not a balderdash, this is a real SA slang word. I think it comes from a mix of the Yiddish 'schtoop' and the Afrikaans 'naai' - both such wonderfully expressive languages, both words meaning basically, to get screwed.
The annoying part is that I kinda knew it was happening, but I just didn't want this well-dressed, nice-looking guy to be yet another con artist. I wanted to believe that in a world where real people do honestly get stuck in bad situations I could help someone out. That just because we get spun so many stories every. single. fucking. day. we don't have to numb that essential element of human compassion which'll reach out to someone in a time of need.
So I listened to his story, while Compassion and Cynic had the following conversation in my head:
Cynic: 'Ja, whatever with your 'sad' story junkie-man, just get out of my face.'
Compassion: 'Jesus dude, he's standing here in the pissing rain in a decent suit of clothes - have a heart.'
Cynic: 'Decent? The jacket has a red paisley lining - wtf??'
Compassion: 'I'm not going to judge a man by his clothes. I'm not going to judge a man by his clothes. I'm not going to judge a man by his clothes.'
Cynic: 'Oh so if he was wearing Crocs you'd still feel sorry for him? Yeah right.'
Compassion: 'Could we focus here? He's offering to leave me his laptop.'
Cynic: 'Which is where exactly? In that bag? Sure....'
Compassion: 'How crap must it be if you're in a genuine bind and no one will believe you 'cos they're so used to being scammed? Maybe this is one of those times when one just needs to trust in humanity.'
Cynic (whiny voice): 'How crap must it be if you're genuinely hanging for a fix and no one with believe your sorry little con story? Trust away girlfriend, but don't think I'm not greatly looking forward to graffitiing I TOLD YOU SO all over your wounded pride later.'
Cold toes: 'Could you two get a move on, we're getting hyperthermia down here.'
So Compassion gave the guy R50 and 'her phone number so he could phone her later to make arrangements to reimburse her'. And Cynic laughed, said: 'What, and then you'll give him your banking details?!', and got out her spray-can.
And as I walked away I knew I'd been schnaaied. And through all my stewing about it on and off through the day I have to admit that while I feel disappointment in the guy who'll consciously lie to make a quick buck, and anger that his scam will make everyone who falls for it that much more hardened towards anyone out there with a real story (and there are many), my main feeling is embarrassment. Seriously, did I really fall for something like that?
Ok Cynic, tag me you incorrigible bitch.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
And crumpled tissues.
And half-drunk cups of tea.
And prescription meds.
And over-read books.
And more tissues.
And pieces of my fragile temper.
And tear-stained cushion covers.
And 2 x serious cases of Cabin Fever.
Yup, the birthday girl and I have both been very poorly. Some more so than others. In a classic 'omg I must be a parent now' moment I took Frieda's lumo-yellow snot to the doctor yesterday and came home with antibiotics for my laryngitis, and the knowledge, thanks to our GP's lovely bedside manner, that the back of my throat looks like 'a slab of raw meat'. Too much information all round I know but this is how dire it has been.
I blame too much fun really. And too much baking. Oh my word, too much baking.
On the 1st day of Frieda's birthday (park party) her true love baked for her: one pink garlic cake
On the 2nd day of Frieda's birthday (kiddie's party) her true love baked for her: 12 Ultimate Frikkin' Impressive Penguin Cupcakes, one Earl Grey Cheesecake (for the Mum's, it was not great - the only part true to its name was that it was somewhat grey in colour - but other than that, too sweet, not earl-grey'ey at all and not cheesy enough), a couple hundred cheese-straws and some awesome yummy Marmite wheels.
And then (sob) on the 3rd day of Frieda's birthday (family party) her true love baked for her: another birthday cake (ok, ok, her father baked this one, but I project-managed and iced it!) and a lemon meringue pie which was EPIC. 'Cos I believe that when life gives you lemons bake lemon meringue pie see.
[Ok listen, do not try and sing the above to any known tune, especially not one which comes from a popular Christmas song, you'll end up frustrated. And I don't want that.]
So the weekend was really, really fab and lovely and we're well and truly stocked with toys for the next 6 months and none of them are broken yet, tho' we've already had to change the batteries on the singing coffee-machine someone gave her (not I, just to be clear, someone), and I've not gotten round to thank you notes to all the aunties etc but I'll get there, one day before Christmas, and maybe some time in the next week I'll start clearing up around here...
But for now we're being languid in pyjamas, watching the Seasonal Forests episode of Planet Earth a gazillion times (it's Frieda's favourite, starting with a snow leopard and a moose - 'kittymoose'- later featuring ducklings jumping out of a tree - 'flyingbabyducks' - and culminating in a [very scary] tiger hunting down a monkey - 'catchingtigermonkey'. What's not to love?) and trying not to get on each other's nerves too much.
Oh ja, and it's utterly freezing and raining and hailing and howling and disgusting outside. How apt.
There's all kinds of other news and excitements involving international travel, tall dark and handsome strangers, new work and romantic mini-breaks but sadly, I don't have the energy to go there now. Stay tuned!
*and if anyone else has read it, don't you agree that if/when there's a film adaptation Bill Nighy must absolutely play Ramsey the snooker player?
Friday, June 19, 2009
I'm impressed, if I do say so myself.
- black food colouring powder (which only really achieved a battle-ship grey with butter icing, dear Husband darkened the mix with a highly technical addition of exact amounts of blue and red food colouring. I like to call it pewter.)
- white dots made from Royal Icing and left to harden overnight, inspired by this magnificence
- beaks & feet cut from the orange layers of Liquorice Allsorts - thanks for the tip Z!
- wings from the black layers (again, Husband's brilliant input)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The actual day is on Saturday, but as multiple celebrations are in order (her mother being a firm believer in The Birthday Week), we decided to stagger them so as to dilute all the attention/sugar/spoilings. Great theory until she wakes up on Monday expecting balloons and cake ... Oh well, I'm sure we'll have some leftovers ...
Anyhoo, so today the games began with Cake at the Park. Pink Cake as requested by Frieda's fabulous nanny, Sylvia. Sylvia only bearly tolerates that there's a very limited selection of pink items in Frieda's wardrobe, when it came to the cake I was instructed that only pink would do. So pink it was. With hearts. And sprinkles.
I think it may have been in the icing.
There's a small chance a knife, last used to chop a clove for supper, was inadvertently used to cut the butter for the icing. A tiny chance mind you, 'cos that's just not something a domestic goddess such as myself would do. No, never ...
No matter, cake was well received. Frieda had Happy Birthday sung to her in at least 3 of our 11 (eleven!) official languages and has gone to bed chattering non-stop about it all. Little does she know this is only the prequel.
I'm off to tackle those penguins ...
Oh and P.S. number 28!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
So here it is. Long may it travel.
I've always had the problem of not being able to pick a favourite. I don't have one favourite movie or one favourite book, or one favourite food. Life's just a bit more complex than that for me. I'm 75% Gemini - go figure.
So the idea here is that you list 5 items in each category, a favourite 5 - but not necessarily in order of favouriteness - to show the diversity/similarity/hilarity/polarity/ or extreme same-ness of your personal likes.
And then tag 5 peeps to do the same. And feel free to add or subtract categories as you like.
Down with meme imperialism!
Herewith the first 5 (Random) Favourite Things Meme:
5 Favourite Songs:
1. Hey Jude - The Beatles
2. We Are Going - Burning Spear
3. Feel Good - Gorillaz
4. Hasta Siempre Comandante Che Gueva - Buena Vista Social Club
5. Gold Digger - Kanye West
5 Favourite Films:
1. Love Actually
2. Room With a View
3. Toy Story
4. Lost in Translation
5. Out of Africa
5 Favourite Books:
1. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenigger
2. Saturday - Ian McEwan
3. On the Shores of Silver Lake - Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
5 Favourite Crushes:
1. George Clooney
2. Buzz Lightyear
3. Snoop Dogg (saw him in concert, was as surprised as anyone by his total shag-worthiness - who knew?!)
4. Cate Blanchett
5. Benecio del Toro
5 Favourite (Random) Things:
So without further ado, I hereby tag 5 random favourite bloggers:
Extranjera - What Will I Ever Do With My Life?
and just to see if their answers are different ...
Vancouver's Enviro Girl - The (mis)Adventures of Veg
Seaside Girl - Seaside Stories
Spudballoo - Chez Spud
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
1. What is a meme?
(Apparently this is a 'cheat question', I told VEG I was about to tag her in one and just realised that could sound a little intimidating if you didn't know what I was talking about, and actually it's a really good question.)
A meme is actually pronounced to rhyme with 'theme', but I totally thought it was pronounced 'me me' the first time I saw it written, which would make perfect sense considering what it is. It's a Richard Dawkins concept dumbed down a little to suit the blogosphere, originally a 'unit of cultural transmission', in bloggie speak it's a list of questions we answer and ask each other. A way of getting to know each other via the internets. Which is, come to think of it,exactly what this is, really.
2. If you could only read books by one author for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Tough one to answer though ... but of all my favourite authors, and there are many, his books are the most diverse, so I think they'd keep me interested for the longest.
3. What profession would you NOT want to attempt?
Teacher. Specifically High School. I definitely don't have the patience for that. And the pay is crap. And you often have to do sport duty. Shudder.
4. What is your least favourite chore?
Cleaning bathrooms. Hate it. Hate.
5. What is your favourite place that you have visited?
A bay we found while travelling through Transkei (the Wild Coast of SA) in 2006. It was getting late, we'd lost our way and were just looking for a place to camp for the night. We found heaven.
I've dug out something I wrote then about the experience:
'A grassy hill, covered in giant gnarled milkwood trees, overlooking a pristine beach and bay of astounding beauty.
We had to stay.
Pitched camp and went down to the rocks at sunset, the boys dived for crayfish (lobster) as the nearly full moon rose over the achingly clear water.
A moment's excitement when we thought a shark was diving in the bay but it turned out to be an ecstatic whale, slapping it's tail on the water over and over, seemingly just from the joy of being alive in such a beautiful place - we felt the same.
Later that night three of us went down the steep path through the striped moonshadows of the trees to the beach. Not one footprint marred the sand, spring low-tide sucking the small rhythmic waves far down the beach, stars circling above.
We started walking round the bay, spreading out from each other. I felt electric, zinging with life and happiness.
Then we noticed a solitary figure walking towards us, and I could feel the vibe shift. A tangible wariness, our 'normal' apprehension and nervousness of a stranger in the dark rushed in.
But as we approached the person, I noticed from his body language that he was wary fo us too. And realised that of course, we were 3, he was 1, if anyone had reason to be nervous it was surely him. And instantly I felt awful for having made someone fear us.
Our friend called out a greeting, and to our amazement the lone strandloper turned out to be a girl, no older than twenty, out crayfishing in the low tide, wandering from point to point with her limpet loop.
She had a beautiful smile, her teeth lighting up in the moonlight, all four of us laughing uproariously from relief, and joy in the freedom that nothing was bad on the beach that night. That all of us were there for the beauty and bounty of this exquisite piece of Africa.
We parted ways with more emotion than our different languages could express, and later her laughter rippled across the bay as we streaked into the ocean, our white bums gleaming, for a midnight swim in paradise.'
Thanks VEG, for causing me to revisit this memory. It's one of my favourite favourites.
Monday, June 15, 2009
This is one of those things: a reference / mood / inspiration / wtfamIgoingtodowiththisohwaitI'lljuststickithere board.
Which I whipped up during Frieda's afternoon nap on Sunday. I'm nothing if not swift. It helps when one has a DIY-handy husband who is a total hoarder (as is self) and ergo have a house full of tools, random stuff like manky polystyrene offcuts and an outside loo full of wood offcuts. Doesn't everyone?
It all came together beautifully, and swiftly (did I mention that?).
Step 1: stick manky polysytrene offcuts to each other and cover with The Perfect Paper
Step 2: saw strips of wood to desired length and hammer full of tacks
Step 3: press strips tack-down into polystyrene, thereby making a temporary supportive frame (and here's the ingenious part) which one can simply pull out when one would like the change the paper.
Aren't you amazed by my brilliant design? Let's hope I'm as successful with those cupcakes ...
Final product installed. With addition of a ribbon strung in front to hang more
And while there's been some offline (read: real time) criticism of my counting my caprese pasta as one of my 100 things , I do believe I'm totally justified in counting this! Number 27 !
Sunday, June 14, 2009
- our lemons are so prolific that my mother has been known to fill shopping bags and give them away to passing policemen
- I once lined lemons up all along our garden wall for passers-by to help themselves. They looked very pretty but few got taken. Do people really think there is no such thing as a free lunch?
- after Frieda was born we gave my obstetrician a 'Thank You Lemon Basket' - a gift purely of our own invention. It had a pretty ribbon on the handle
- we like to call our lemons 'organic'
- we suspect they could be that size 'cos they're growing over a septic tank
- my Mum says deep yellow lemons against a dark stormy sky is one of her iconic Cape winter images
- our whole backyard smells heavenly when the tree blooms
- our whole backyard smells frikkin awful mid-fruit when a bunch of lemons lie, rotting and inaccessible, on the roof of the shed
- our lemons have thick, knobbly skins so they're perfect for zesting
- this also makes them far superior to smooth-skinned, hot-house, shop-bought lemons
- those knobbly skins sure can collect a lot of grime
- our lemon tree has some mean-ass thorns and harvesting lemons is a hazardous task
And yes, that's my one-of-a-kind absolutely divinely gorgeous Skinny laMinx bag in the background : )
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I was all geared up for another epic 'upagar' (translate: helicopter) cake for a certain 2nd birthday we'll be celebrating next weekend. Maybe with less military realism and more colourful kindergarten icing this time.
But no, while Husband and I were away on our
Anyhoo, so now, having thought the birthday cake was in the bag, I'm finding myself googling 'Penguin Cupcakes' and oh lordy, you won't believe the ridiculousness I've found ...
Let's kick off with this a commendable and gorgeous effort but I just can't spend the next week making fondant penguins. I'm just not that kind of Mum. And dudes, check the icing on those things - real snowflake print. Yowzer.
Then there's these And I know I should probably refrain from being too snobby until I've tried this
fun family project myself, but I'm afraid I think these are amateur. (God how I'll be eating these words in a few days time - and probably a lot of half-iced cupcakes!).
But my absolute dripping-with-sarcasm-favourite has to be this: Ladies Home Journal's 'simple steps to make a kid-friendly dessert that's cute and delicious at the same time'. Please note the use of the word 'simple'.
Don't follow the link if you don't want to be inundated with a trillion annoying pop-ups, but here's just one photo. Just to show how 'simple' they really are.
On a cupcake.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Friendship hey. Shew, I could write a book. In my life thus far, even as a wife and mother (both of which are really just another type of friend), I think I can honestly say that friendship is the thing that's taught me the most (about others and myself), inspired me, challenged me, made me think and reassess and examine and analyse and goddamn just live.
I have an amazing array of friends - big ones and small ones, happy ones and sad ones, red ones and yellow ones (ok no wait, this is starting to sound like a Dr Sueuss book ...), but basically a pick 'n mix of astounding people, all of whom deserve a monster post all of their own.
But this is about just two of them. For now.
They were friends before I met them. We met through a boy, then the boyfriend of one, later the boyfriend of the other. Their friendship survived this brief love triangle, and my friendship strengthened with both of them.
The ex-girlfriend set off on her own path, travelled the world, had adventures and a little girl who she ended up raising on her own. This child was the first in our circle of friends, they lived around the corner from us for years, and we shared with our friend the immense challenges and sacrifices of raising a child as a single-parent. She's a Libran, and a strong one; ballsy and tough, creative and compassionate, fiercely independent, naturally gregarious.
Her Mum was diagnosed with all kinds of terrible cancer about 2 years ago, and their family's been living with all the awful sadness and emotional highs and lows related to that. My friend's Mum died last week, and she and her heart-broken daughter left this morning to go home and bury her.
My other friend ended up marrying that guy. For better or for worse. The latter it seems. The stupid shmo (I say shmo, but obviously I mean fucktard) upped and left when their son was 8 weeks old, plunging my friend into a (still ongoing) nightmare of divorce, custody battle, life realignment and all the horrible stuff about single parenting. She's also a Libran, and another strong one (have you ever met a Libran who wasn't?). She's insightful and thoughtful, hugely generous, immensely creative and wakes up every single morning of her life with renewed vigor and zeal.
None of us, least of all her, thought she'd be a single-parent too one day, but as I see these friend's paths falling more into parallel, I see them regarding each other anew. They've known each other for well on 20 years, and yet their friendship is still adapting, still growing, still aligning.
And it hasn't ended there. The second friend's Dad finally succumbed to his cancer too last week, just days before the first friend's loss.
So these two women - buddies from Varsity, drinking buddies, feed-you-ice-cream-and-cry-on-my-shoulder buddies, hare-brained schemes and crazy missions buddies, shared outfits and shared boyfriend buddies - grow up to be single parent, nurse a parent, console a parent buddies, friends for life with more in common than they ever thought they'd have.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Life's been a bit weird lately. I've 3 friends who've lost parents to cancer in the last week. 3. All in the same week. Weird.
But we also christened one of last year's premmies on the weekend - an
wonderful (edit: on rereading this I've decided 'wonderful affirmation' sounds naff) affirmation of life in the midst of the sadness - and the sun has been shining, which just makes everything seem more bearable.
And I stole a moment this morning to have a lovely brunch, courtesy of a generous birthday present from my fabulous boss, and hatch a most sneaky plan for husband's birthday next month ...
(relevant details erased gnh gnh gnh ... )
Friday, June 05, 2009
number of black bags full of recyclable paper produced: 1
number of omg it's lost for ever items found: 4 (including new MAC make-up lost for approx. 3 weeks - yay!)
number of small, hairless cats I could 're-hair' with cleaned up cat fur: approx. 1.3
number of as yet unopened bills: stack 7cm high
number of Urgent Overdue OMFG How Could I Have Forgotten To Do That??! items: see pile on laptop keyboard
number of things still To Do Before I'm Completely Happy with Desk: 3
number of times I need to re-learn the lesson that if you just buckle down and Get It Done you feel much better: 10 gazillion million
number of comments I'm expecting about how sad it is that I don't have a Mac: at least 1, from Julochka (but get this, I'm ok with my ole PC. Gasp!)
May I present .... BEFORE ...
... aaaaaaaaand .... AFTER!
Now lets see how long it stays this way!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
number of days it has rained in succession: 7
number of fender-benders I've seen: 5
number of wardrobe crises I've had: 8 (dinner out on Tuesday night necessitated a wardrobe change. ack.)
number of pregnancy tests bought: 1 (just got a funny feeling ... )
number of positive results: 0 (turns out it was PMT. duh.)
number of episodes of Postman Pat watched: 8 (4 x 2)
number of times I've read Penguin: 4562
number of times poor Lego has missed out on a walk due to rain: 3
number of chew toys Lego's annihilated: 4
number of tissues Frieda's used: 852
number of times I've shuddered at the thought of Nu-Skin: 53
number of times I've done something, anything, to avoid tidying my desk: 8
number of blog posts I will allow myself to write before I tidy desk: 0
Goodbye dear blog, I may be some time.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
And I harken back to them in these dark days of nightfall by 5.50pm and ready-made lasagne from Woolworths (dudes, R49.95 for 1kg! That's totally the perfect yoga-night supper right there. But I digress ...).
So here goes, a quick foodie retrospective, and possibly really, and this time truly, the simplest, easiest pasta ever!
At least a couple of hours before you want to eat this (can be 24, can be 2), chop up a punnet of cherry or baby roma tomatoes, cube a medium size block of hard white cheese (edam, tussers etc) and a handful of sweet basil and mix it all together with some good glugs of olive oil, salt & pepper. Leave to marinade.
When you're ready to nosh, cook up some pasta shapes, reserve a leetle bit of the cooking water, chuck the tomato mix in with the hot pasta and (leetle bit of) water, and eat immediately.
The hot pasta wilts the tomatoes (which've already soften in the marinading process) and just melts the cheese to a soft and chewy consistency.
Can be optionally served with anchovy & caper buttered crostini. 'Cos we're all about carb-on-carb action in this house.
It's summer in a bowl ~ a beautiful thing.
2. The cats have doubled in size and the Ginger, who usually sleeps in really obscure places, has moved to her winter abode - our bed. (The Black is a stoically perennial resident.)
3. Everytime I leave the house I see any number of fender-benders. How quickly
morons people forget how to drive on wet roads...
4. Our lemon tree is about 30 seconds away from busting out in fruit and showering us and the neighbours with lemons faster than any of us could possibly use them. Their big yellow globes are particularly fetching against a brooding stormy sky however.
5. Underfloor Heating has just moved up my Must Have list. A couple of months ago it was item about 435, it currently occupies slot no. 2, after New Winter Wardrobe.
Monday, June 01, 2009
So now it's back. From outer space. I just walked in to find it here with that sad look upon it's face. Yada yada yada.
But all credit to Frieda who has remained remarkably sunny and bright. And to her Mama who found innovative and restful things to do on a rainy, snotty Frieda Monday.
Polishing up her 4x4 skillz in front of an off-road instructional video which she loves.
Arts 'n Crafts.
'Look Mummy - dog.'
We is in yr krib, stealing yr warm spot.
'Look Mummy - bad titties!'