Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I got tagged. And I love a meme ~ great way to waste while away some time ... 

What is your current obsession?

It was exercise until my injured ankle put that on hold - grrr. Then it was knitting small woollen hearts but I seemed to have slowed down on that too ... Oh I know, playing with my new iPod! Oh and, Mediterranean purple figs. Soooo good, soooo expensive ...

Good fika place?

Vida e Caffe. Always and for ever. A great Cape Town story of local boys made good - they've got branches all over the country now and have just opened in London! 

Do you nap a lot?

Not nearly as much as I used to pre-Frieda, and not nearly as much as I'd like to.

Who was the last person you hugged?

My bull-terrier puppy. She looked like she needed one - mournful little puppy eyes ... 

If you were a tree, what tree would you be?

A family tree.

Have you ever had an altercation with the police?

Once, in the parking lot of a night club in Durbanville. I managed to persuade them that the pervasive smell of marijuana was coming from the car next to us ...

What was the last thing you bought?

A single skinny latte from Vida!

What are you listening to right now?

The roar of the rubbish truck passing. Romantic huh?

What is your favourite weather?

28 degrees Celsius. Not a breath of wind. 

What’s on your bedside table?

Don't have one. Our bedroom is a lovely serene, clear room and I decided a bedside table would be just another place for clutter to collect and I definitely don't need more of those! Also we're on a futon and any low table would be an instant kiddie-magnet.  

So all I have by my bed is my current book and my beloved yellow Slabang! clock from IKEA (can anyone tell me what slabang means?), which I pick up and put on a dresser in our room every morning. It's one of very few areas I feel I have control of in our house!

Say something to the person/s who tagged you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the music!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?

Cape Town!

Favourite vacation spot?

The Transkei wild coast ~ supreme beauty, serenity and steady supply of fresh crayfish.

Name the things you can’t live without.

My limited edition Converse All Stars. 5 well-loved years and still going strong ~ what will I do when they die??

Books. Dairy products. Lip Balm. Sunglasses.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?

A ceaser salad ...

What is your favourite tea flavour?

Good ole' Ceylon. Don't fix what ain't broken.

What would you like to get rid of?

The junk in the attic my trunk.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

To any restaurant which serves the world's best ceaser salad.

What did you want to become as a child?

A boy.

What do you like better, e-mail or telephone calls?

Depends to/from whom ...

What do you do when you get time alone?

Worry about when it'll end. Rush about being more productive then I usually can be with toddler in tow. Procrastinate. Day dream.

I know I'm supposed to pass these things on and tag someone else (or in this case 8 people I believe), but I'm kinda shy so I'll save up all my tagging for now and blast some poor newbie blogger with the lot of them one day ...

Monday, March 23, 2009

maybe these should be on frieda's list?

On account of the Ankle last week (physio again today and it's feeling much better thank you very much, still a little cranky in the evenings - just like the rest of me), Frieda & I had to fill our afternoons with non-active pursuits.

Not such an easy task let me tell you. I fear The Winter of My (Toddler's) Discontent which methinks is approaching. Ever the optimist.

Anyhoo, I've been dying for her to get old enough to paint, and while Husband may disagree that she's gotten there (blue paint seems to be very noticeable, everywhere), we had some fun making these handprints (hers).

I backed them with card and stuck little white chocolate chicks on them to be Easter cards for grannies and such-like. I might attach them to straws. I might not. Toyed with the idea of having speech bubbles which said 'Eat Me', but settled for 'Happy Easter love Frieda' written on the back (by me of course).

Because in all honesty if she were to write these cards they'd probably say 'Puppy. Poo. Outside. Good. Puppy.' or 'Upgar (helicopter). Drop. Water. Fire! Mountain.' ~ the two highlights of her most recent existence it seems.

No. 17!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

the deep and meaningful one

I had occasion today to ponder the role of spiritual guru's. 

This is not something I make a habit of by any means. Pondering stuff that is. But today I met a woman of whom much has been said in a number of different friendship circles, a woman who seems to be some kind of spiritual healer, advisor and, from what I can tell, general all-rounder in the field of esoteric um ... anything.

And I found her smug. And self-satisfied. And also, b-o-r-i-n-g. Oh and, she complied with a few too many of my 10 Basic Reasons Not To Like Someone.

no. 4 Ended every sentence with a smile, not a real smile tho' -it never reaches the eyes- just a condescending little 'are you following me?' smile.  ✓

no. 7 Used her hands when speaking in a manner which I find overly dramatic, and therefore pretentious. ✓


no. 10 Annoyed the crap out of me. ✓

And it's not like I'm prejudiced or anything. Noooo, I'm like the least judgemental person you've ever met. No, really ...

Ok, not really. I'm a sceptical, cynical dried-up old hag. Especially when it comes to spiritual guidance. [Please note: not spirituality per se ~ that's a whole other kettle of two fish CGI-ed to feed a multitude ~ today I'm just talking about spiritual leadership.]

I have never been able to shake the feeling that religious or spiritual 'leaders' are almost always entrusted with too much power, too much influence, and too much power too often equals abuse thereof. And smugness. Have I mentioned how much the smugness annoys the f*ck out of me?

Whether it's a sanctimonious Dutch Reform dominee with a perfectly knotted tie and suspiciously clean hands, or a fake lace be-clad ohmming auntie with cool sandals (see? no prejudice from me), it totally frikkin' irks me. No, I don't want to take instruction from you as to how I should feel and conduct myself spiritually. I'm not interested in your interpretation of what's going on 'out there' and what might happen to me if/when I die. I don't really feel like receiving your guidance on how I should handle my relationships.

Is it arrogant to assume I'm qualified to unravel all that alone? With just my context, my experience, my friends, my touch-stones and, er ... my life. I'll risk it.

Maybe when I find one god to believe in I'll be more inclined to listen to it's disciples. For now, I'm just not that into you, guru.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

so we say ... thank you for the music!

Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk...
She says I began to sing long before I could talk
And I've often wondered, how did it all start?
Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
Like a melody can?

Well, whoever it was, I'm a fan.
With apologies to Abba and muchos gracias to the gods of random acts of kindness. And the blogosphere.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the moment before things change

What with my not speaking to my ankle and everything, Frieda and I had a very quiet afternoon yesterday pottering round the house. I was trying to take the physio's advice about staying off my feet and hence allowed three episodes of Postman Pat to run back to back while I lay on the couch with a magazine. Doctor's orders and all ...

But I found I couldn't stop looking at my girlie. Staring in fact. (I've often been accused of being a creepy stare-er in public - not by the public you understand, by my loving friends - but that's for another time).

Yesterday I couldn't stop staring at Frieda. It's not like I don't see enough of her ha ha, but there was just something about her yesterday which I couldn't put my finger on. Something fleeting, something I couldn't quite quantify, something which kept drawing me back to staring. At her. While she of course was completely oblivious.

And after a while I realised what it was. She's transitioning. My little girl is just about to do one of those major leaps in development. She's starting to look like the next version of herself, a real little girl look, and there was something - parental instinct, a maternal eye, I'm not sure what it was -but something alerted me to it, and I couldn't stop staring as I tried to catch the Moment, or maybe just store as much visual memory as I could of how she is Right Now.

Another change which became apparent yesterday: winter's a-coming. I was wearing sleeves!! Sleeves people, not seen round these parts since last year!

And then, just to round off a day of changes: I stood out front of our house with Frieda and the pup in the late afternoon, admiring the light on the mountain behind us and feeling envious of all those strong-ankled people no doubt cycling and walking up there, and just a few hours later found myself standing out in the road in the howling wind watching as the entire mountainside was engulfed in flame.

Another in this summer's series of fires which have played havoc all over the Peninsula. Another one undoubtably started by arsonists (what a weird compulsion, to cause large scale damage and civic upheaval), and this time we had front row seats!

It was an almighty display, the flames sweeping up the slopes at a phenomenal pace, and with such force that we could hear the roar of the backdraft from where we were standing. Fire on this scale really awakens an instinctual fear.

As does standing out in the road with expensive photographic equipment in the middle of the night!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


As we had such a lovely time this weekend and I was feeling all rosy and grateful and humbled by my good fortune, I thought it would be bad form to mention my $!!#*& painful ankle in yesterday's post. So I didn't.

But after another 24h of discomfort and annoyance and this morning's visit to the physiotherapist to confirm that I have indeed incurred some 'muscular distress' I'm more than ready to have a little moan about it now.

Feck! And also; Ass!

Could the timing be any crappier, as I headed lusciously towards toned and svelte sexiness, to be told that I can't exercise for 2 weeks or so? Just after biting the bullet and joining the dreaded Curves, just as I'm simply loving yoga with a verging on pathetic teenage crush type adoration? Just as we get into a nice rhythm of evening mountain walks with the doggie?

All of which is proably to blame for said 'distress' now ...


Guess that mountain walk this weekend wasn't such a good idea. Ditto those brownies. And that cake. And those pears. And the cheese platter. And the two blocks (very restrained I thought) of chocolate I just ate to make myself feel better. Guess I better put up the Welcome Home banner for those 2 kgs I lost in the last couple of weeks. Hope they don't bring any buddies back with them.

Feck. Feck. Feck.

Oh and the gemmest of gems from my physio: 'Try and stay off your feet for the next few days".

One word response lady: t-o-d-d-l-e-r.


Monday, March 16, 2009

and what a treat of a retreat!

We really just had the best time this weekend - fun, food, family & Frieda -what my Dad calls his Favourite Four.

We stayed in this stunningly situated house (and it seems I got it wrong in the last post, this was in fact the fourth year we've been here), a funny place filled with mismatched furniture and crockery - just what a real holiday cottage should be.

Of all the many great things about this place I think the best is it's resemblance to the house we grew up in. The same basic architecture with big sash windows and shutters, the same big lawns all around. We had a very blessed and idyllic childhood there and this annual reminder of that house, where we lived for 20 years, is part of the magic of this March weekend.

We went for a long mountain ramble, right up into the kloof at the base of the 'pig's snout' you can see in the mountain, Frieda being passed from shoulder to shoulder - there is nothing in this world she loves as much as being surrounded by all her family. When Husband put her to bed that night she dozed off listing all our names like a lullabye of love and devotion.

Croquet was played with lots of laughter and bull-shitting, and we spent rather a lot of time being fairly idle...

The weather was superb, not as hot as the city, but warm enough to completely justify snoozing on the lawn.

And of course, the food.

Banana carrot birthday cake (and incidently no. 15), 

traditional family favourite, pears poached in red wine infused with cinnamon ...

... and although this pic doesn't nearly do them justice, the ULTIMATE chocolate brownies - turkish delight, cherry & macadamian. Oh.My.Gob. (and, of course, no. 14).

It was such a recharge, an affirmation, a stolen few days from the humdrum, but I also had to wrestle a little with the weird way in which life works at times.

I have very close girlfriends going through some of the rawest and most unsettling experiences life can throw at one - death, divorce, betrayal - and the knowledge of how lucky I am, and how blessed to be able to have time like this -warm, secure, well-loved time family time - is a strange thing to compute. It's not that I feel undeserving, that would be far too simplistic a view, it's just once again standing in awe before LIFE, this bizarre, unpredictable, unquantifiable state and shaking my head and thinking Jeez Louise ~ how am I supposed to make sense of this?

But maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm just supposed to live the good times, be conscious, count my blessings, be empathetic, be grateful and tuck weekends like this away in a very safe place in my heart to draw strength from if/when the wheel turns. And to gain strength from in order to help others I love, and be the best friend I possibly can be to my girls in need at the moment.

And as for this ~

'Dog tired' aint' no joke!

Friday, March 13, 2009

an annual retreat

It's my Mum's birthday on the 16th and this weekend we're joining the rest of my family for our now-annual retreat to a gorgeous house outside Stanford.

This'll be the 3rd year we're gathering there, and it's been a big 3 years for the family.

The first year I was pregnant with Frieda and my middle brother's girlfriend joined us - her first weekend away with the whole family.

Last year we had baby Frieda with us, the same brother and his girlfriend had just got married and joined us en route home from their honeymoon and we were celebrating my Mum's 60th.

This year we'll have toddler Frieda, middle brother & wife 1 year on and still grinning like newly-weds, youngest brother and his girlfriend, my parents and their dogs as usual, and our new puppy!

We're just getting bigger (and I think better), and this annual weekend in March is such a nice time to recap, hang out, eat like piggies, play horrendously competitive games of croquet and, in the evenings, Black Bitch, take long walks, and hopefully long snoozes, and just be family.

So that's my grateful Friday (the 13th nogal) ~ gratefully looking forward to a fun-filled weekend with my very nearest and dearest.

And grateful for Frieda's long nap, which allowed me to bake a birthday cake and a couple of trays of brownies in preparation.

Did I mention we eat like piggies!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the one about gym

Yes, I cracked. Well I had to do something after making promises here and here. And while Yoga Fit is a-m-a-z-i-n-g and I'm feeling and seeing the benefits thereof, it's still only once a week, and once a week ain't gonna shift no significant bulk ok?

So I cracked. And joined a gym. Loathe and despise the word, the concept, the industry, oh and sweat in general but hey, as the mother of a childhood friend of mine used to say as she plucked out her leg hairs one by one with a pair of tweezers: 'you have to suffer to be beautiful'. Do you? Do you really?

Turns out you do. But it seems in this case, the suffering did not take the form I thought it would.

Let me explain.

You see, still deeply un-enamoured with the concept of 'gym' (odd that this didn't make it onto my list of 100 things I dislike intensely, though I think sweating did...), I was lured into the promise of 30 minute workout, a 'total body workout' and the fact that my 'curves would (apparently) amaze me', I signed up for a month at Curves - the women's only gym. (see emoticon of spitting in disgust).

Omg, this place is deeply flawed.

Firstly, the whole work-out is questionable. 30 seconds a time on 12 or so machines with 'rest stations' in between. Hmmm.

Secondly (and please believe me when I say I'm no sizest), but the instructors are fat. Not just 'big-boned' but fat. Is this supposed to make me feel comfortable there? More comfortable than having a size 0 gym instructor in lycra? Maybe so, but the reality is it just ain't right. You wouldn't buy Jimmy Choo's from someone wearing Crocs. You wouldn't buy a Beemer from someone driving a Beetle (or arguably, vice versa). You wouldn't be happy with a doctor with a hacking cough. You wouldn't go to a dentist with no front teeth. You get my point.

Thirdly, it's so twee. It's like a mix between church camp and girl scouts with a little bit of high-school 1st hockey team thrown into the mix. The franchise is international and each branch must look the same the world over, the same purple decor, the same horrific music, the same twee motivational posters on the wall ('A fit mum is a happy mum!') and the same (and I kid you not here) diaphanous purple curtain which gets whipped across the entrance to the work-out space should (gasp of shock and horror) a MAN enter the office. Urgh!

But yet, I signed up for a month, totally suckered by the 30 minute lure, and in total acceptance of the fact that if I didn't sign up, and pay for the torture, I'd never get round to cardio at all.

So now I go twice a week around midday, and hit the circuit, and try and get into the music, and try to avoid reading the posters over and over again, and try not to follow the waddle of monster purple-clad thighs across the room, and try to get into a zone and work that flab.

And I've discovered that all the above are the true monstrosities of gym. The workout itself is not too bad, the endorphins kick in quite soon to give one a lift, and I've discovered a little trick to get through it quickly and enjoyably: I imagine myself in the montaged training sequence from a movie, the Rocky 'Eye of the Tiger' scene; the slow cut, sweaty sequence which works our hero into his (or her) pinnacle of raw cut muscle and fitness. The fighter. The lover. The challenge. 

And I've lost 2 kg. Go gym!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

the week that was

Yowzer. It's been one of those weeks.

Most exciting thing: starting my new job!

It's been great, starting slowly but getting into it fast. My new boss is super, very on the go. We've discovered we have the same second name - Jean - and have been joking about starting our own company: The Jean Pool, A Pair of Jeans, Jeaniuses - none of which are original I'm sure, but all fun.

It's also been, in case I hadn't mentioned it before, fucking hot!!  Upper 30's every day - 39 degrees yesterday - no wind to give any relief, and a thick blanket of smoke from the wild fires raging on the mountains around. Heat like this is really draining, the late afternoon's a serious trial as one's body temperature soars and one's energy levels drop, but that first slightest breath of cooler air come evening (and sometimes this has only been at 9pm and even then just the merest hint of a breath) is so delicious, so welcome, it almost immediately gives one a lift. 

And reminds me that we must love these days, cherish each one, for each hot, hot day could be the last, each balmy summer evening already tinted with nostalgia - winter will come, oh yes she will, and although it's near impossible to imagine; she'll be a bitch!

Bizarrely, I've also been quite productive (thus proving the adage that the more you do, the more you can do I guess). Wouldn't it be great if I could include some of the long-outstanding domestic tasks I've tackled as crafts to add to my list?

Outstanding tasks of a minute and mundane nature such as finally washing and disinfecting these delightful little wooden fruits which I have long suspected of coming into contact with puppy pee and had therefore removed from circulation (i.e. Frieda's reach). I even finally glued one of little green stalks which had fallen off a strawberry - who ever finds time to do that?

Mundane domestic de-cluttering is remarkably soothing for the soul. And maybe it's not mundane at all. The sense of achievement I gain from knowing that I can tick silly little niggly things off my never-ending To Do list is really energising. And I've no doubt clears head-space to move on to other things. Although I've a suspicion that for women (and yes, I'm sorry, but I think this is a woman thing), there's a small percentage of our brain'swhich we primarily use for domestic To Do lists, and freed up space here is just filled with the next seemingly mundane domestic item on the eternal List.

Like when am I ever going to do anything about my desk??!


But there's been more going on than just serious work and trivial domesticity, more than just picnic suppers on the beach and lots of forest walks (proof, it seems, of another well-worn theory; that owning a dog is a great way to get fit), more to fill a bunch more posts. 

Oh and, yes, I chose the hottest week of the year to take up knitting again. But just very small and manageable knitting. Very cute knitting. And, of course, as yet, very incomplete knitting ... I'll have to save the reveal on this one for another time too.

Oh and, this one ...

Hmmmm ...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

sweaty keyboard

Yeah, I know, I know, it's been a while...

Truth be told: it's too hot to blog.

Seriously y'all, these are the dog days. The hottest, stillest, laziest days of summer. The gaspiest, sweatiest (if you move that is), nakedest, ice-cream-eatingest, air-con-seekingest days of them all. It's like summer's giving us one last blast from the ole furnace, a little something to remember it by, a little 'you'll miss me when I'm gone'.

And we will, I'm completely sure of it. But goddamn it's hot!

And all you can really do, is live with it.

Multiple trips to the air-conditioned Aqarium. Just looking at all that water makes me cool.

Sticking in the shade at the park, taking turns to venture out to march the dog and/or toddler round the pond. Convince dog and/or toddler that pond is seriously skanky and not conducive to swimming.

Having sunset supper picnics on the beach, the only really sensible time of day to get down there.

And spending a lot of time indecently clothed. Or just not clothed at all.

(I was painting some garden furniture and got a little smudge on F, totally unintentional position and design, but ain't it sweet?)