Sunday, May 31, 2009

one city : two bizarrely different experiences : both with pampering

Part the One: 

I'm driving by myself, with a mild hangover, and that niggly feeling that my hair is not as clean as it could be, through Parklands (est. 2000). A sprawl of a 'burb with endless same-same streets of 'modern' 'architecture' and bland gardens.

I'm on my way to a 'Girl's Morning'. A tea, hosted by a not-awfully-close-but-nice-friend, to which a bunch of us have been invited to eat cake and hang out and hear a couple of 'low-key' presentations by other acquaintances of this not-awfully-close-but-nice-friend who sell things. You know, like a Tupperware party. (Omg you guys! While googling that link I stumbled upon this fascinating fact I had to share: Did you know that somewhere in the world, a Tupperware party starts every 2.2 seconds? - wtf?!).

Anyhoo, it sounded harmless enough, and who'd turn down an opportunity to hang out, sans child, with a bunch of other chicks and eat cake on a rainy Saturday morning right? Also, the morning was to culminate in a promised pole-dancing lesson (yup, dancing. around a pole. all erotic like. in front of a bunch of strangers). Hmmm. Cake + girls + pole-dancing. It all kinda sparked my curiousity.

So I finally get there, after a couple of wrong turns and a low-blood sugar moment which forced me to consume 2 of the cupcakes I was taking to the tea, I get there and after a glass of champagne and a cup of coffee simultaneously, I'm feeling much better. Until the first presentation that is.

Now I'm not really a big body-image girl. I'm not big into make-up and treatments and grooming and suchlike. I live in Cape Town see. And maybe I've been living under a big ole rock but I'd never before heard of Nu Skin. I didn't know about the home Galv@nic Spa System (and, no jokes, I'm using that '@' on purpose 'cos I've got a nasty feeling this might just be the anti-christ and I don't want them finding me), and I'd been blissfully unaware of Age-Loc(k) technology. And I really, really wish I'd stayed that way.

I could've done without an hour of horse-shit by two women who looked not-unlike plastic dolls, with unnaturally smooth and unlined, unmarked, unreal skin, telling me that they worked for a company who had discovered the 'science' of stopping the aging process completely. That I was no longer doomed to a future of looking 'old and haggard like my grandmother'. That I should go home and take a really good look at my face in the mirror that night and 'decide what my youth is worth to me'. It sounded like something from Oryx and Crake. And it gave me the chills.

And it went on for what seemed like days. Thereby making me run out of time to attend the pole-dancing lesson. Which was, however, maybe not such a bad thing.

As the Nu-skin clones went on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... the pole-dancing 'team' arrived, and luckily from where I was sitting I could see into the front hall to witness this fascinating ensemble. First came a tall attractive young thing clad in Lycra (the pole dancer), then came a middle-aged creepy looking dude with the pole (her handler?), then came a trashy looking blond middle-aged woman with really, really bad genes jeans (um... her mother?) and then came an even trashier looking stringy-haired ancient looking crone with too-red smeared lipstick (her grandmother??). Is it a family business and they travel in a pack, pimping their youngest whilst the others go around with a hat? Did they all come along for the free cake? 

Have I entered an alternate reality in which everyone has become either a genetically enhanced version of Meryl Streep with bad plastic surgery or a wizen and tasteless parody of that overly-tanned old woman in There's Something About MaryIs this Oryx & Crake??

I eat two bite-sized chicken pies, a revoltingly delicious glacéd cherry wrapped in bacon, a slice of lemon meringue pie and a chocolate brownie and leave, a little shaken.

Part the Two (later that day):

I'm driving, with Frieda, hangover has left in search of fresh victim, hair is starting to behave. I'm driving through Athlone, an old CT suburb, one filled with history and controversy.

I'm on my way to a Baby Shower for an old colleague. We've been out of touch the last few years, but once worked (and played) really well together. She's had a rocky history of a semi-arranged marriage, adultery and divorce and has finally married her true love (after some resistance from her family and his conversion to Islam) and is expecting their first child after a long battle to conceive. It feels like a bit of a modern day fairytale to me. 

The Shower is a surprise and I arrive knowing no-one. But Frieda and I are welcomed into the hostesses home and instantly plied with food and tea and entertainment from the young cousins. The aunties and friends steadily arrive, all bearing platters and pots and baskets of food, and the room quickly fills to capacity, Frieda being indulged and kissed and made to walk around in a tiny pair of pink plastic heels (provided especially for her, I despaired but obviously she loved them).

The mum-to-be arrived and wept to see us all. The women of her family (ranging in age from 13 to 78) embraced her and cried as well. A few made spontaneous speeches about how they welcomed this child and rejoiced that the couple would finally be blessed. We all cried. And ate. And laughed. And reminisced.

We were a funny old bunch of mixed faces and lifestyles, but we easily found enough in common to while away an afternoon, and when the cousins revealed with much giggling that some beauty-school graduate friends of theirs had arrived to give us all pedicures and facials, the whole room erupted in squeals. And soon all of us, some of whom clearly had weekly grooming appointments and some who had never had anyone else wash their feet, were lounging around in states of undress, being pampered and spoiled. Even Frieda had a little foot scrub (walking in heels is hard work as any gal will tell you!).

I got my toenails painted, ate two chocolate eclairs, a heap of fresh fruit, any number of chilli-bites and a couple of hundred pretzels and left.

Reeling in the bizarreness of this diverse city, the oddness of my day, and the fact that despite everything, all girls like a little pampering!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

smile for change

Here's one of my favourite things:

A local 'copy shop' (i.e. digital printing, photocopying, litho, scanning place) has come up with this great job creation initiative.

They produce a really simple black & white, A4, 3 fold flyer called 'Funny Money', filled with jokes and funny sketches, and then give them -for free- to unemployed guys to sell at the traffic lights. There seem to be some rules, and I've yet to find a Funny Money vendor who doesn't abide by them.

1. they must be friendly - and often the vendors take this one step further and dress up or wear silly wigs to get into the 'we're in the business of selling funny' vibe

2. they can't charge a specific price - they've received the flyers for free and therefore accept whatever someone's willing to pay for a chuckle

3. if a motorist shows that they've already bought the latest edition from someone else - the (surely disappointed) vendor thanks them with a big smile for supporting the project

The copy shop in question invites the public to submit jokes, and the humour ranges from seriously naive to nice and irreverent - something for everyone.

Everything about this project rocks my world, and is the most perfect example of the best kind of social upliftment: small business draws public into job creation scheme while empowering and improving the lives of normal guys who just want to feed their families. All while having a laugh.

Smile for Change. Couldn't be more apt.

And my favourite joke from the last few editions?

Tag line: Every office should have one

Monday, May 25, 2009

i'm toadally serious...

If anyone didn't take my toad phobia seriously, hear this: I just unsubscribed from one of my favourite blogs 'cos a certain photo came up for the second time and I kind of had a little retch, a prickly back-of-the-neck sweaty feeling and uncontrollable shudders when the tiny little thumbnail pic came up in my blog reader.

I will return Petunia Face, but until that post has well and truly moved down your front page, I must alas stay away. One day we will be reunited!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

me. husband. bike. happiness.

As part of my ongoing birthday treats (I don't call it a Birthday Week for nothing), Husband whipped me off for a romantic bike-away yesterday, something we've been wanting to do for months. Don't we look cool?

We stayed in a small-town hotel in a really small town called McGregor, about 2-3 hours drive from Cape Town. Frieda was with her doting Grandparents, Lego the Pup spent her first night Home Alone.

And we relished being unfettered and free ~ a gorgeous drive, an extremely yummy dinner - patè, lamb, a magnificent wine and verging-on-orgasmic crème brulee at a tiny, 16 seater restaurant housed in an old mill house - 

- and a dawn departure this morning, to wind our way home (a little hungover ...) through picturesque farmlands and along magnificent coastal roads. 

Quality hubby & me mini-break. Yum.
Some gratuitous notes on biking:
  • avoid wearing underwear with a lacy trim, the itchy vibration of the lace in the small of one's back can drive one M-A-D.
  • remember not to have a fizzy drink with one's greasy roadside pie - the small pocket of air inside one's helmet doesn't circulate that quickly, thereby trapping even the smallest burp for longer than one would like.
  • try to plan your route to avoid sewerage plants for the same reason. Small pocket of air. Slow circulation. Trapped. Eeuw.
  • when riding pillion one tends to look mainly round one side of the driver's helmet, often missing beautiful scenery on the other side of the road. An important life lesson: by shifting your butt just slightly, you can change your whole perspective.
  • when bored on the back of a bike (as if), one can use the reflection inside one's visor to ponder one's open pores and increasing wrinkles. This is not recommended.
  • be cool. Putting one's gloves on before one's helmet, catching one's foot when trying to swing onto the back of the bike and trying to scratch one's nose with one's visor down all immediately peg you as a newbie.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

66 x 2

I was in Johannesburg this last weekend working another Baby Expo. A 4 day event aimed at expecting, expectant, existent and exhausted parents.

I was there to help out my friend, a multi-talented international business lady who is single-handedly revolutionising maternity underwear in this country (and watch out world), and to whom I could dedicate a whole post of praise and admiration (and might just soon, watch out blogosphere) for her massive business balls prowess. (And btw, if you're wondering what's to revolutionise about maternity underwear then you've clearly not been pregnant so just trust me on this: l-o-t-s).

Unlike last time, this show was in a rather nice part of Joburg so alas it didn't provide as much material for a nasty little post about bad shoes and ludicrous jewellery, however I did find something to catalogue, and I didn't have to look too hard either.


66 sets in 4 days.

Sixty. Six.

I mean, I know I was at a Baby Expo 'n all, but is it just me or is that a truckload of twits? Er, twins?

Apparently studies have shown (and don't ask me which studies, I just like to throw in this kind of speak to impress) that the twin gene is getting stronger. That although the fairly recent increase in numbers of twins is largely attributed to the increased use of IVF to conceive, this is actually strengthening the gene. And soon even mother's conceiving naturally will be more likely to have twins than twenty years ago.

Does this count as genetic engineering? Is anybody stopping to think about what we may be doing here? Are architects starting to plan for wider doorways for those monster twin-prams? Could this be why 'family cars' are getting so ridiculously big? Are twins going to become de rigueur? A sign of wealth and prosperity? Must they always be dressed the same?

These are the thoughts of a woman pondering another pregnancy ...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

list of birthday loveliness

In no particular order ~

  • sunshine
  • hearing the words 'happy birthday mummy' for the first time. ever.
  • cupcakes for breakfast
  • smoked salmon for lunch
  • chocolate birthday cake baked by my husband
  • birthday greetings from my 87 yr old grandfather
  • not one, but two pairs of Campers (for serious. TWO.)
  • not one, but two Liesl Trautmann ceramic bowls
  • one most beautiful vintage black filing cabinet with brass trimmings (yup, from here)
  • non-stop calls & text messages to make me feel loved
  • lots of lovely bloggy greets
  • oodles of facebook messages including this, my favourite, from a long-lost childhood friend 'hey babe - happy birthday! hope you get utterly spoilt! the date has been imprinted in my brain since we were 8 - it's great to be able to wish you again!'
  • shome very shpectacular wine
  • an electric toothbrush (I too shall be dragged into the modern age)
  • someone here thinking I turned 26. How sweet! But really... 34!
  • the promise of a weekend getaway with my fella and his sexy motorbike
  • having supper with my favourite people in all the world, my family
  • having truly the most wonderful collection of friends. truly.
  • more birthday fun to look forward to
  • being so happy it almost hurts

Thank you world!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

happy birthday me!

and obviously, no. 25 ...

aerial patchwork

Back from a fabulous few days in Joburg. My second favourite South African city. Not that there's a whole lot to choose from or anything...

Lots to tell, lots to think and blog about, head feeling a little full and crazy. All in a good way. Raas kop leef.

But I did love these.

Shots of farmlands from the plane.

Wouldn't you love a patchwork quilt in these colours and patterns? 

Did you know those circular irrigation thingiemajigs are a South African design? We rock.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

random tuesdayness

~ managing to brush my teeth and set the washing machine going while cradling a 14kg kiddie swathed in 2 blankets, clutching 2 dollies and a toy panda, makes me feel like a super-hero

~ after years of practise I am now able to drink a cup of hot tea while driving without spilling any on myself but I've yet to work out how to prevent my sunglasses from steaming up [and the sunglasses are non-negotiable so no, wise-asses, 'Don't wear them' is not a acceptable solution]

~ is it uncool to love a homeless person's coat so much you consider offering them 100 bucks for it? Would the more humane approach be to offer them a new (but obviously not as stylish) coat in exchange?

~ today the gods of green traffic lights smiled on me

~ I hate having to carry actual cash, bring on that implanted bar-code thingie in my forehead I say

~ sandwiches cut into little stars really are more appealing to toddlers. This is not just a cutesy-pie myth as I'd long suspected

~ after pondering for some time whether I'd rather eat a hedgehog or a rock, I've decided definitely a rock. All the pain in one mouthful.

~ I love my new shoes

Sunday, May 10, 2009

craft catch-up: no.'s 21-24

Although I'm far behind on my target of 100 crafty type thingies for 2009, I've not been completely craft-less lately, just entirely too busy and distracted to post about them.

I've a couple more incomplete projects which I hope to list in the next few weeks, and I'm really hoping the mid-year spate of birthdays and celebrations will allow for some creative outlets. Of course all I really need is about a month of me-time and I'll be flying, but failing that (and I think we can check that off as a complete and utter FAIL), I try and do a little bit here and there and not get too frustrated ....

no. 21 ...

 ... little knitted hearts. I've been making these for some time, just kept giving them away without remembering to photograph them. These are the first things I've knitted since high school and I got mildly obsessed with them for a while. But I'm over that. For now.

no. 22 ...

... a silly little patch for a silly little hole in a silly little shirt.

no. 23 ...

... a baby shower gift & card.

no. 24 ...

... brandy snaps! Made for a lovely Mother's Day lunch with the family this afternoon. Served with double-cream vanilla ice-cream & heart shaped caramel marshmallows.

I'm off to make that Sunday evening list. Ever the optimist!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

does my butt look happy in this?

On the subject of happy butt ... I couldn't resist this.
(apologies to those of you who already received this from me on email, I just had to share it further and wider. Wider like that smile :)
Oh and hold on, just so we're all clear: that is not my happy butt. I would never wear yellow.

a diamond in the dust

I think it was at 02:16 this morning, standing outside waiting for the doggie to have a wee, enjoying the still of a rare warm night, bathed in the 99%fullmoon light, that I stopped feeling arb. And since then the weekend just got better.

This morning we set off in search of some refurbished office chairs for our study. Husband has ongoing back issues and works from home often enough that he needs a decent chair, I always blog work from home and could do with one too. So we hit the first of a couple of 2nd hand office furniture stores, and discovered ... this ...

At first glance a smallish warehouse of sad, repossessed office-ware; on closer examination (and we ended up hanging out there for over an hour), a veritable treasure-trove of the bizarre, 

the magnificent,

and a complete set of 'omg are these kinda out-there enough to actually be awesome or is my sense of awesome completely addled by the copious amounts of dust I'm inhaling?' chairs.

Fear not, I'm now convinced of the latter.

But it turns out this dusty dungeon of delights did have the perfect (normal black office) chairs for us - I'm sitting on one now and without too much o/s can I just say my butt is very happy :) - but also ... my birthday present! Here's a clue.

I have to pick it up on Monday and drive it home with my eyes closed. But that's not the hard part. Husband has to hide it somewhere I'll never think to look for a whole 9 days after that. Tricky.


Friday, May 08, 2009


arboa ~ the mantle of arbness I've worn around my neck this week

And I couldn't even say why. It's not like I've not been having a nice time. I've had some lovely times with Frieda, two very nice evenings with friends. I've had some productive work time, and cooked and eaten some yummy meals.

I even got new olive-green velour sweatpants to glamorously arb around in. You'd think that would make me happy ...

But then, I'm not unhappy. Just arb.

Is it too soon for SAD? 'Cos I might just have a touch of that.


Ok, here we go - a little pick-me-up challenge. I will now search Google Images with the word 'arb' and post the first pic that comes up. Uno momento, por favor.

Oops, that didn't work. Turns out there's a brand of 4x4 accessories called ARB. The first 4 pages is full of it. (Seriously? ARB?)

Let's try 'arbness' (yes, okay purists, its probably not a real world but just play along). 

Oh. My.God. Get THIS: there's only 25 picture references for the "word" 'arbness'. 9 (yup, nine) of them link to my blog.

Am I wildly re-energised by the notoriety? Or feeling even more arb?

Think I better change into those sweatpants and think on it.

Rocking Friday night over here, can't you tell?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

parents say the darndest things

For a while I've wanted to do a shout-out to all the mummy (and daddy) bloggers I read, and love. One of the fundamental lessons of parenting is how very, very, many ways there are of doing this job, and one of the earliest lessons learnt is that there's only one way for you to do it: your way.

The path to comparative parenting is fraught with angst and self-loathing. Don't go there. Find your feet. Forge your own way. Fall over. Have a cry. Dust yourself off. Set out again. Repeat. To infinity and beyond.

But do listen, read, laugh, puke, judge, stand in awe and generally keep your eyes and ears open to how others do. For you can only learn. And you'll often be entertained, inspired, moved and motivated. This ole blogosphere is so good for all that.

So check out my blogging mama's on the right. They're a strange mix, but each of them speaks to me. Which is an indication of how eclectic my parenting style is if nothing else!
I love to laugh with amalah. She has a turn of phrase which cuts right to my funny bone, even while dealing with some pretty tough parenting challenges.
Girls Gone Child sometimes makes me laugh, often makes me think - the best kind.
Inchmark just makes me stand slack-jawed in the face of her meticulous needle-work. Her advent calendar is something else... And I love her regular posts on the library books she and her children are reading. I've seen many old friends there.
And then there's SouleMama. So much is said about her, and its all so deserved. While I don't aspire to her life (4 kids!), or relate to some of it - home-schooling, home births - her blog is a place I love to visit, and I always come away feeling peaceful and positive. Her's are the posts I read last thing before going to bed.
There's lots of other bloggers I love who blog about parenting in between other life things (so I didn't include them on my blogging mama's list exclusively). Sweet Juniper is a Dad with some of the luckiest kids in the world, just for being his. Eyeblog is another calm and restful haven I like to visit, Tara is a great Mum. Super Fiona is just starting out with her gorgeous Hallam.
And then there's Petunia Face. I've a major blog crush on her right now. She's just so dang honest. And insightful. But I heard a rumour she recently posted about toads, so I won't be going round there for a few days....
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think the same should apply to parents. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories!

Monday, May 04, 2009

don't know why I still do it ...

.... write a To-Do list on a Sunday evening that is. 'Cos Frieda Monday holds many surprises and delights, but seldom does that include actual practical necessary things like making a gynae appointment or finding a tree-feller. Or is that tree-fella?

On a Frieda Monday, when the kiddiwink declares, after breakfast, 'Mummy. Painting.' Then that's what we do. 'Cos Frieda Monday is sacred. And I love it.

But it does make for a hellova To-Do list looming for Tuesday ...

And yes, I really should add 'Buy more paint' to that list. As delightful as Cyan Blue is, it's a bit been there/done that.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

to be perfectly honest...

One of my new blog buddies tagged me for this 'Honest Scrap' meme some time ago. And as I'm feeling much better but still recouping in bed (can I just pause for a moment's acknowledgement of the universal awesomeness of grandparents, who have happily whisked Child away for the day so I can lie about in bed recouping? Here goes ............ . Moment acknowledged, thanks), I thought I'd play along.

So, herewith my list of 10 honest things about myself (and be warned, they're pretty random):

1. I'm feeling a little blasé about this whole swine 'flu hype. I obviously feel really badly for anyone who has it etc, but living in a country where HIV/AIDS is an actual pandemic, we have 3 or 4 strains of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis on the loose, cholera recently killed thousands of people, we regularly have (admittedly isolated) cases of Ebola virus and malaria is an illness many of us live with every day ... it's a little hard to get my panties in a knot about swine 'flu. Sorry.

2. There's a big bag of mud and cow-shit bespattered shoes outside my backdoor which I still haven't cleaned after that weekend and I don't expect to get round to until, oh, maybe very late the evening before our next camping trip?

3. Having been a committed cat person my whole life I never expected to love our new doggie as much as I do. Dogs win hands down in the unadulterated adoration stakes. That's her adoration - of me. Love it. But also, and you know who I'm talking to here, I still love my kitties the best.

4. I've never wanted to run away and join the circus. I'm a homebody through and through.

5. I'm more nervous of having a 2nd child than I care to admit. I'm completely convinced that we should have one, but the reality scares the bejesus out of me.

6. Sometimes I go to bed without brushing my teeth. I find the minty taste of toothpaste too jarring if it's really late and I'm really tired.

7. I'm so over this renovation thing. Seriously, can we move into a finished, complete, free-flowing family home already?

8. I really enjoy doing laundry. I find it quite satisfying and find it gives me a sense of order. Weird huh.

9. I have a base and compulsive addiction to Survivor and The Amazing Race.

10. I still like to believe I'll have dreadlocks one day - stylish, thin, blond dreadlocks. Just for fun.

I'm supposed to tag seven five fellow bloggers for this one but you know, I'm just too damn lazy! Play along if you'd like tho', and let me know if you have so I can come snooping.

Friday, May 01, 2009

big fat sulk

Entering 48 hours of dread stomach bug.




All stricken.

Surviving on miso soup and fragile good will.

Big fat sulk: missing the LKJ concert tonight which we've been looking forward to. For. Ever.