Monday, November 30, 2009

food for thought

The builder told me today that they'd be done with all the inside work by the end of the week, that he'd like to see us 'move back in on the weekend'.
Me, I'll believe it when I see it.

It's not so impossible. The floor tiles are laid, the windows and doors replaced, plastering done, 1st layer of paint down, lights are in, cornices are up. But the kitchen sink's not in, none of the bathroom sanitaryware is installed, the kitchen counter top is still in production. So I'll reserve judgement and wait and see.

But truth be told, all I really want back is full use of my cooker. All I want to do is cook and bake and mix and play and then, have the dishwasher installed to take care of all the necessary afterwards.
It's gotten to the stage where I'm lying awake at night planning menus, creating dossiers of the first things I'll cook, I'm dreaming up dinner parties and braai's and brunches and (am I completely fokken crazy), excited about inviting Husband's family over for a big Christmas meal.

And so while the point of this post is actually just to rack one last one up for November, hereby bringing the total up to a totally un-awesome 10 (I'm so slack), here's a list of the first few things I intend to cook as soon as I can.

1. Lazy Chilies Rellenos ~ jalapenos, eggs, cheese, tortilla. Who could ask for anything more?
2. A batch of Nigella's Apple & Cranberry chutney. To have with cold gammon at Christmas. Droolishes.
3. Tres Leches Cake. I have to say I'm well over a newbie-blogger crush on the Pioneer Woman (in fact I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually exist but is a creation of Harpo Studios), and I stopped reading her ages ago, but I can't resist visiting Pioneer Woman Cooks every now and then. This cake is one of the reasons why.
4. Mince Pie Pinwheels. A possible replacement for my normal Christmas mince pies. Naturally I'll have to do a batch now to test ...
5. A good ole roast chicken with all the trimmings. Especially roast potatoes. And 3 veg. And a big ass chicken. You can hear the longing in my voice hey?

Husband also has a list, his goes something like this:
1. Curry
2. Curry
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Curry
5. Curry

Oh my god I can't wait.

Friday, November 27, 2009

while you're down there ...

For various reasons (which I may get into in a future post), I've changed obstetricians for this pregnancy. This time I'm seeing a male doctor. A young male doctor. The kind of guy 'I might meet socially' according to the friend who recommended him. Some recommendation for a gynecologist indeed ...

The first time I went to see him was when I was 12 weeks pregnant. Husband came along for that first glimpse at our new baby. But he was a little nervous about being in the room when a strange man examined his wife (not, please note, nervous of a strange man examining his wife, he just wasn't particularly keen to witness it all. Interesting ...).
I assured him that a) I wasn't too wildly enthusiastic about the prospect either but that b) at a 12 week exam there shouldn't be any reason to 'pop the hood' so to speak, or for anyone to make use of that delightful piece of equipment a friend of mine refers to as the 'vag wand'. A 12 week exam should be purely external, a trip to the dentist more invasive, all we could possibly find to be embarrassed about would be that he'll know that we've definitely had sex, at least once (ok, twice), and that there'll be large amounts of KY jelly in use.
Gnh gnh.

So we get there, we meet the guy, he seems personable enough. Professional but not clinical. He uses the word 'boobs' which kinda weirds me out and makes me more comfortable all at the same time.
We chat about Frieda and the last 12 weeks and our expectations of the birth etc. He asks me some basic health questions and then invites us next door for blood pressure test etc.
I sit on the unnaturally high examining table, Husband leans nonchalantly against a cabinet in the background.
I'm wearing a skirt. Husband is wearing pants. Just to be clear, so is the doctor.

Blood pressure - fine. Urine sample - fine. And just when I'm thinking we're done and will be moving on to the main attraction, the scan, the doctor does the most unnerving thing.

He drops to his knees in front of me.

Husband and my eyes fly to each other in silent screams of terror. Surely, surely, he's not just going to dive on in under there?
The doctor reaches out a hand, Husband is poised and ready to flee at the first glimpse of my undergarments, when quickly the doc squeezes one of my ankles and then the other. 'No sign of water retention there. Shall we move on to the scan?'

Which we did. And she was beautiful.

I know it's extremely unlikely that I'll get through this entire pregnancy and birth without Dr Not-Dreamy getting a eyeful of my lady parts, but I'd kinda like to be prepared when that happens. Or at least in the throes of labour and therefore, utterly uncaring.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

shredding chicken

I've so many blog posts half written in my head (and in my drafts). Abandoned due to lack of time or head space, thoughts half formed, arbitrary ramblings of a half crazed far too busy mind. I've made peace that I'm not going to get to them, not in this lifetime, but I'm feeling the restlessness of having them lurking, I've got brain clutter and this is the only way I can think to clear it:

... it's getting harder to blog like nobody's reading. I'm far more aware of those eyes out there then I have been before. It should be getting easier as my followers numbers seem to be dropping of late (am I the only blogger in the world who feels a twinge of relief and absolutely no regret when this happens?).
Am I inherently lazy and unambitious for thinking like this?

... this building malarkey is starting to get just the slightest bit tedious. It's all still very exciting 'n all but as the decisions we have to make have gotten more difficult (who knew choosing kitchen counter tops was far more stressful than deciding which walls to knock out?) and the builders have started fucking up a little bit here and there (no biggies, our neighbours seem perfectly happy with the new bathroom roof they inadvertently received yesterday - merry christmas y'all) and everything seems to be getting grimier every day, I do have moments of longing for it all to be Over and for them to all Go Away and for the incessant noise to Stop.
And I really, really miss cooking. And baking. And having a dishwasher.

... this baby is really actually going to spring from my womb one day in the not too distant future and maybe, just maybe I should start focusing on that some time soon. Or maybe not.

... so summer huh? It's going to be a doozy. (apologies Miss Buckle, please don't read on if this is going to be too painful)
Last Friday was the first of those completely magic, still, hot summer nights. Frieda and I stayed on the beach 'til well past her cut off time, we stopped at Granny's for an impromptu supper and a bath and she nodded off to sleep in the car on the way home. Driving along the Peninsula the setting sun caught the tops of the oak trees, greeny gold buttery waves of light all the way to the foot of the mountains, then bouncing up in radiant shafts into a sky just starting to blush around the edges.
I tucked her into bed and went out in search of a curry. Our 'bohemian' neighbourhood was a-flurry. Outside the ice-cream parlour a young fey girl sat, dressed in an apple-green satin evening dress, licking a pink strawberry cone. Further along, across the street from the Asian all-you-can eat buffet, a group of Hare Krishna's banged their tambourines and chanted, their skinny ankles in stark contrast to the gluttony before them.
Later, sitting outside in the velvet dark (and no, that's not a cliche - it is velvet see, that's how it feels on your skin), listening to the neighbour's party getting rowdier and rowdier, I felt overwhelmingly nostalgic, as summer nights often make me feel, thinking deliciously morose thoughts about how one probably only has a handful of such perfect evenings allocated to one in a lifetime, and as each one passes your quota gets less. (Note: I love nostalgia, it's one of my favourite emotions indulgences.)
The next day someone voiced those same thoughts to me, and I sagely concurred, but you know, on Monday, we had another one - another evening of still, magical warmth, of mosquitoes and tangled sheets and ice-cream at midnight and not wanting to sleep 'cos you want to be outside soaking up the balmy night air - and I remembered that it's only November, and even if there is a quota, this summer's allocation has only just started. Hooray!

... child, and then Husband, have both had Hand, Foot & Mouth disease in the last two weeks. Yup, the human strain of that killer farm animal virus. Husband got it from child who probably got it from the kiddie-park. Kids are gross. I'm just mentioning this for the sympathy vote. Sympathy for me that is.

... life is busy and full and not showing any signs of letting up until say, 2020, but it's also manageable and exciting and balanced for the most part. I did however have to check myself this week and point out (to myself) that I'm busy, not stressed. That there is a difference and I'd do well to remember that. Busy is productive and manageable, stressed is counter-productive and an utter waste of time.
[Busy also means I really shouldn't be blogging in the middle of the day but you know what ... ]

... strawberries. I thought I was over them but it turns out I'm not. Current favourites: mushed strawberries with sweet balsamic and vanilla ice-cream, sliced strawberries on toast with cream cheese and a drizzle of honey. Delicious.

... I've had great blog honour recently bestowed upon me by two kind bloggy buddies, Tooting Squared and Miss Buckle. Especially kind as I've done so little recently to deserve any blog recognition, although maybe that means I should take the award's name to heart: the 'I Shoulda Been a Stripper' award. Most apt no? No? I'm not going to be heavily pregnant for ever okay?!

Who can resist a pink bunny humping a dance pole?!

I'm supposed to list 7 personality traits as evidenced by my blog so here goes:
1. I have a foul mouth
2. I like food
3. I'm creatively frustrated
4. I love where I live
5. I have a strange attraction to arbness
6. I've a love/hate relationship with parenting (not with my child, just parenting as a concept)
7. I'm a big softie

Ack and I'm supposed to pass this one but I'm notoriously bad at that part and now I really have spent far too much time on this post so - shock shock horror horror - I'm not going to!

Oh and shredding chicken? The most therapeutic thing I've done all week.
Shredding a rotisserie chicken by hand - perfect for processing all kinds of brain-mess. Just not so great when you've then got greasy, fatty hands and only a small bathroom basin to wash them in. Bring on the end of the renovations for the love of blog!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the name game

For some odd reason I'm starting to pay close attention to names at the moment. Perhaps it could because of that upcoming responsibility of bestowing a name on an innocent little being who'll have to carry it for the rest of their life?
(Or at least until they're 18 which is when you can legally change your name in this country).

Here's a collection of names of people we've encountered over the course of this renovation:


a) I love living in a multi-cultural country.
b) Yes, I have spoken to, and in some cases spent considerable time with, a truckload of strangers recently.
c) No, I'm not shortlisting any of these for my unborn child.

Monday, November 16, 2009

marching to tiletoria

One thing about renovating, you find yourself in the weirdest places. Places you'd never in your right mind (or normal life) frequent.
Tiletoria is one such place.

When you've lived in one city for 15 odd years you think you know it fairly well. But as life likes to remind one, there's always more to learn out there. Even if you feel the lessons best left unlearnt.

And so it came to pass that we spent a bit of time at Tiletoria last Saturday morning. More time then either of us would've thought we would really, but we went in looking for a lowly basin spout and immediately I had to start taking some pictures of the horror.
Then Frieda discovered the indoor aquarium, so that took a while.
And then as we leaving Husband noticed the daily special in the tearoom (yup, Tiletoria boasts its own one) was scones with cheese and jam and coffee for only R15 and so, I'm ashamed to admit, we sat down and had elevenses there.

Sitting right near this:

Too close for comfort to this:

Nauseatingly conscious of this:

And reeling in disbelief at this:

The whole time we were there I was pronouncing the name of the place as Tile-tor-ia. Eventually Husband pointed out to me that it was actually pronounced Tile-toria. To rhyme with Pretoria.

Instantly it all made sense.

Besides the scones we bought nothing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

don't panic

Back in January I wrote about intuition and the debilitating panic attacks I had during my first pregnancy.

I remember the awfulness of those feelings very clearly, but the more time has passed since I've recovered from them the more I've realised how they were so very much a condition, how foreign those feelings of anxiety are to my normal everyday existence, and how in retrospect the seeds of those panic attacks had been quietly germinating for some months, finally blooming at a time when the most stable of minds starts panicking a bit at the thought of the approaching responsibilities of parenthood.

Anyway, the point of that post, and the worst thing about the panic attacks, were that they made me doubt my intuition, a sense I'm 98.5% confident about most of the time (gotta allow that small margin of error to cover my ass in case of any future 'I told you so's'). In that post I referred to an incident which occurred when we were on our pre-baby holiday before Frieda was born in 2007, an incident truly bizarre in it's circumstance, and maybe one which should've proven to me that my strong sense of intuition was still operating well.

One of the places we visited on that trip was Die Hel (translated - The Hell), a remote and isolated place of very few inhabitants and great beauty. Yes, it's at the bottom of that road.
Die Hel has a weird history; apparently many, many years ago some farmers from the region trekked deep into these mountains to establish their own hamlet after some kind of disagreement with their neighbours. Rumours of cattle-rustling, pig-headedness and even incest abound, all of which add to the mystery of this already weird place.

We arrived in the late afternoon and almost immediately I felt really uneasy. We moved around looking for a campsite where I'd feel better but soon I was in tears and wanting to leave, and as always during one of these attacks of anxiousness the main thing freaking me out was whether I was being irrational, or if my intuition really was screaming at me to Get Out of There Immediately. I couldn't tell through the fuzziness and emotional overload, and that was what was making me panic.
It really was impossible to leave, we'd driven for 6 hours to get there and even if we'd turned around and driven back through the dark there was no guarantee where we'd find the next place to stay in this remote area of the country. So we stayed, I took some of my anxiety meds, Husband heroically set up camp and got a fire going all the while trying to reassure me that everything would be Fine.
'Mols' he said, 'this is probably the safest place in South Africa. There's maximum 20 people living in this valley, all of whom have lived here for years, all of whom rely solely on tourism for an income - so aren't going to do anything to jeopardise that - there's no wild animals which could be a threat to us and no one is going to trek all the way here across these massive mountain ranges purely with the intent to do evil. We're fine babe, everything'll be fine. Here, have a lamb chop.'
Between him and the meds (and the lamb chop!), I calmed down from near-hysteria, but I wasn't comfortable and spent a fitful night in our tent, a night so still that (I kid you not) we could hear the termites chewing in the tree above us.

In the morning everything felt better, as it always does. Our campsite was lovely and we were keen to go out exploring a bit. We drove up the valley, admiring the views, stopping at a couple of landmarks. At the end of the road (it was short, the valley community is tiny - this is the point see?) we found a tiny little museum attached to the house of the government conservation officer and his wife, the only real 'authority' up there.
We went in and were pottering round the museum when I started to become aware of the telephone conversation taking place in the next room. I glanced at Husband and realised he'd noticed too, and was shooting anxious glances back at me. The conversation was in Afrikaans and the snippets I was overhearing were:
'Ja, we don't know where he came from'.
'My husband noticed smoke in the riverbed at 5 this morning, went down there and found this stranger.'
'He was acting really odd.'
'Later the lawyer up the valley reported a man on his doorstep, being threatening and irrational.'
'My husband and some other men have been out looking for him again but he seems to have disappeared.'
And ...
'He must've just hiked in here from god knows where.'

He must've just hiked in here. Hiked all this way to be weird and threatening and irrational.

We drove back to our campsite in silence. I could tell Husband was cursing that we arrived at the museum in time to garner this news. I was experiencing this strange mix of concern, obviously, that there was now an unidentified and odd-acting stranger at loose in the valley, and also oddly, relief. Maybe last night's anxiety attack wasn't pure over-emotional irrational pregnancy hormones, maybe my intuition was still functioning afterall. Who'dve thought the confirmation that a weirdo was about when camping in a small isolated site could hold any relief at all?
But relieved as I may have been, I also had every intention of packing up and shipping out as soon as we got back to camp, and I could tell Husband knew there was no way of dissuading me this time.

Luckily for him, when we returned we found some other campers had set up nearby to us, and immediately the presence of others put me at ease. We stayed, we braai-ed more lamb chops, we had a giggle and although I can't say I slept very well, I was more at ease than the night before.

That whole holiday was lovely, in the time we spent just the two of us, but looking back through the photos I can still sense that feeling of creeping unease that tinged that whole period.
As I enter month 6 of this pregnancy I've been looking out for signs of those feelings returning, but am relieved to find that although I remember them clearly, they're also very foreign to me. I think it's safe to say I'm not in that headspace at all.
But I often think of that incident in Die Hel, and wonder at the bizarreness of it all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm not going to make 100 but here's a few more ...

The friend who first set me on this course could probably work out how many crafty things I'd have to do/make a day for the rest of 2009 to reach the end goal. In fact even I could do that kind of maths I guess, but it's a bit disheartening.
Unless I'm allowed to count growing a foetus and revamping half my house for a good 30 or so points (each) I don't think I'll be reaching 100 crafts in 2009. I'm okay with that.
But even though I last boasted posted on this in July, I've not been completely useless since then. Although I'm taking wild liberties with what I count, as you'll see ... oh and, some of my photos are shite.
I'm like, so creative.

Back on my blog's 1st birthday I made these quirky and delicious cupcake burgers.

no. 34

Then there was this artfully wrapped birthday gift and card.

no. 35

A batch of birthday cupcakes and a card for a friend.

no. 36
(maybe next year I should aim for 100 cupcakes?)

Never having been to boarding school I'm a big fan of macaroni cheese. And while it may seem that counting such a mediocre dish as a 'creative' thing is stretching the definition way too far, can I just say that I found heaven when I discovered this recipe, for souffled mac 'n cheese.

no. 37

Then there were two cards for newborn baby girls.

no. 38

no. 39

And during my strawberry obsession in the beginning of this pregnancy, this strawberry sponge cake:

no. 40
And the latest, totally inspired by this, I started making a candygram for my brother's birthday. But of course it took on a life of it's own, not a little influenced in my growing interest in diorama's (which I'll get into some other time), and with the addition of a homey action figure and some scrapping materials it became a most uniquely wrapped book voucher.

no. 41!

Just 59 to go before the end of the year. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... 

list of 5: 5 things inspiring me

People, most of whom have happened to be women recently but I'm sure this is incidental, who know their shit.
From buying a toilet to downlighters to splashback tiles, I keep finding myself wildly impressed by the technical know-how and expert opinions of sales people all over the city. This is all the more inspiring for the generally crap levels of service we've come to expect here.
My 90 yr old grandfather who surprised as all by arriving at his birthday lunch on the weekend dressed in a traditional Red Indian Native American costume, dancing into the room to the beat of a drum.
Beloved father of 4, grandfather of 12, great-grandfather of 9 (with no.10 on the way), we were all once again awe-struck by his vitality.
During the speeches his children honoured him by saying he was the most unflaggingly positive person they'd ever known (could you ask to have anything better said about you?) and that throughout their lives they'd been able to go to him with any problem or concern, and while he may not always have been able to provide a solution, they'd always walked away feeling better. I cannot think of a higher accolade for a parent. (Incidently, my grandfather served in North Africa during the war, an experience he never talks about but is generally accepted to be the reason for the little bit of sadness which lurks in his eyes, and he would totally agree with Mr London Street on this.)
Another great irreverent and gentle parent, Jim from Sweet Juniper, with this post. He manages to just get it right every time.
Cupcakes! As always. It's quite weird 'cos I don't really love eating cupcakes, it's the making of them I'm starting to suspect I'm developing an addiction to ...
When we were packing up the kitchen Husband kept going on and on about 'exactly how many cupcake baking tins does a girl really need?' as he unearthed more and more from the bowels of the baking cupboard. Answer: lots. Can't wait to get the use of my oven back for a celebratory batch.
Frieda's unerring ability to answer 'NO' to any question or request posed to her. Any question. Including: 'Would you like some ice cream?', although admittedly that answer is 'NOyes' like it's one word.
Okay, I exaggerate, this negative trait is not inspiring me as such (most of the time it's annoying the fuck out of me), but I have to have some admiration for a stage in life in which you have no concern about pleasing others, don't give a hoot about social niceties or the 'right thing to do'. Every question, request, demand, inconvenience thrown at you gets immediately deflected with a firm 'NO'.
I plan to revert to this the day I turn 75.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

and so it seems ...

... I am to be the mother of daughters, parent to sisters.

I don't have sisters. Most of my closest girlfriends don't have sisters. I've never been a girly-girl. I don't especially like pink. I'm not big on sibling rivalry. I abhor Barbie.
And while I was never one for dreaming about my future children and planning how many I'd have and what their names would be etc, I always kinda assumed I'd have a son. I really did.

But very possibly I won't, and that's taking some getting my head round. It's not a tragedy by any means, I'm not wailing and gnashing my teeth and taking to my bed with disappointment (although some do I've been told, in fact just yesterday I met a woman whose sister-in-law was about to pop number 6 in her desperate quest to have a daughter - 5 boys and finally she was expecting her girl. Can you imagine that lady's angst, and the extreme likelihood of that long-awaited little girl growing up to be a bull dyke, 'cos why wouldn't the universe work like that?), but I'm taking a while for the news to sink in, I'm reconfiguring my mental picture of our family, I'm pondering raising sisters, girls, women.

And I'm finding there's a lot to be excited about in that. Imagine a girl child who is not Frieda - what a mind bend. Naturally a boy would've been different to her, but another girl, anatomically the same but a whole new personality? That's almost more challenging, and certainly quite exciting.

And while I've not had a sister, I almost did. My Mum lost a girl baby just after she was born, 2 years after me. Had she lived that would definitely have had an impact on the person I've become and I'm now being given the opportunity to experience sisterhood, albeit from a different perspective.

I've spent my life surrounded by incredible women, from my grandmothers, mother and aunts, to my parent's friends, to my own wonderful girl friends, a collection of fine, strong, formidable ladies, and I think I'm excited about spending the rest of my life with two more.

Friday, November 06, 2009

it's all good

Dusty and tired.
But very, very happy. I can't express how much I've enjoyed watching parts of our house get ripped to pieces this week. Really, it couldn't have happened to a nicer kitchen.

It's only been a week but this whole process has, so far, been fabulous. Really, fabulous. I'm not just throwing around gratuitous superlatives here.

I love the problem-solving required when packing up half one's house and storing all that crap stuff in the other half in a way which defines items into 'deep' and 'shallow' storage, which allows a family of 3 (and a bit, and a bull terrier and 2 cats) to live in relative comfort and ease, which is still vaguely aesthetically pleasing and, most of all, safe from the rambling thuggery of an inquisitive nearly two and a half year old.
It's allowed me to flex an organisational muscle I've not exercised to this extent for some time now.

I love the transience of a make-shift kitchen (though admittedly this could start losing it's appeal), the change of perspective when one's sofa is moved to a corner you'd never usually sit in, the discovery that the second bathroom which was never more than a spare loo and a storage space actually boasts a wicked shower, the oddity of waking in the night and hearing the fridge hum and click in the lounge room.
It's reminded me of how fun it was to rearrange my bedroom on a whim when in high school, that interesting feeling of going to sleep with all your familiar possessions in unfamiliar places, and waking up to a seemingly new world.

I love watching the building progress each day, seeing the plans we've been hatching for 6 years come to fruition, love the translation of those plans to a physical actuality.
It makes me wonder if we'll function a bit differentally as a family in this new space. I know we won't change as people - obviously not - but this new, improved living space has to affect the flow of our days, and I'm excited about that.

I love sharing a project like this with my man. Making practical and aesthetic decisions together; the thrill of discovering how often we think alike, the shock when realising sometimes we really, really don't.
It forces us to communicate in quite a unique way, to express serious differences of opinion with no hostility, to argue for, or against, the other's opinion without insulting their taste or logic, and to relearn those old relationship favourites: how to pick your battles, when to walk away, at which point to play your trump cards. It's fun.

It's all fun, and the real fun, the enjoyment of the final product, is still to come.