Monday, December 31, 2012

just gopher it

After my recent moan about productivity, or the lack thereof, husband suggested that I try picking a project (off the list of many), declaring to the girls that that's what I'll be doing for the day, or weekend, and just going for it.
He had a theory that, if forewarned, they'd respect my 'work', and give me the space to do it.
I rolled my eyes.

But then one Monday morning in early December I did just that. All the walls in this house need painting, but there's a little alcove wall in the dining room which was particularly bad, and I decided to paint it.
I announced at breakfast that it would be so.

And by later that day, much to my astonishment, it was.

Lesson: threshold anxiety is a real thing. The proximity of small children is a handy excuse to justify that anxiety. Women are, I think, more prone to this than men - what if it doesn't work out? What if it's not perfect? What if it was the wrong choice? What if someone needs a poo halfway through?

In my experience men are more likely to just ... gopher it ... and as Julochka noted of her husband's ambitious and very successful sawmill project, we should take a lesson from this: deciding what we want and then going after it.

I too will try and remember this in 2013. With the amount of unknown this year holds I think it'll be a good one to arm myself with.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the fat of the land

When we moved here we had visions of a healthier lifestyle. The water, the space, the proximity to the beach and the mountains, the great outdoors.

Turns out there's also the marvelous patio, the sitting, and looking at the view. The many drinks on that patio, the indulgent braai's and plentiful snacks - for who feels like cooking indoors when you can fill yourself with chips and dips and ... beer? The indulgent meals with friends.

Turns out there's also back fat, and an ever-burgeoning beer baby.

It's the corniest of the corn to speak of these things as the new year approaches, but something's got to be done. And 2013 seems like the time in which this must happen.
I'll not breathe the words 'new year's resolution', but I am resolved not to see this year out in the same tight pants I'll be wearing going into it.

Two and half years to go 'til 40 ... tick, tick, tick ...

Friday, December 28, 2012

the after grinch

This morning I started this post, feeling pretty after-Christmas Grinchy.

I love Christmas, love the build up to it and the 2 days of celebrating we spend with all our beloved family. I don't get people who hate Christmas and I kinda resent having to be told that they do in those lovely anticipatory weeks of December.

By Boxing Day however, I'm totally over it.

Tired, a little hungover, my children and thyroid both wildly over-stimulated, my house a mess, suddenly the excess of it all starts to irk me. The tinsel looks tarnished and the perpetual blinking of the lights on our little tree (despite their being really cool little red chilies) starts becoming very annoying indeed.

But then we spent this afternoon with friends, their kids and their dogs, lots of beer and good food and fun, and I was reminded anew why I love the summer holidays, and how it wouldn't be as ... sparkly ... were it not for celebrating Christmas right in the middle of it.

Were it not for Christmas we wouldn't all be on leave now, we wouldn't necessarily have friends here from up country, would be less likely to have the time to loll (and LOL) on the lawn, the excuse to drink as much beer and eat as much rich food. We wouldn't really be allowing our kids endless treats and concessions on the normal house rules around watching TV, running about outside in their pyjamas after bath, staying up late and not washing their hair for, um, who can remember how long?

As we cleaned up the kitchen after everyone had left, not at all a tedious chore when you've moments to remember and anecdotes to relate (when you're hosting you always seem to be in on different conversations, and it's fun to swap notes later), husband and I unconsciously did a little tally of gratitude for this particular festive season.

We didn't receive nearly as many 'spam' Christmas greetings via SMS this year - from colleagues, acquaintances and businesses. Those friends who didn't send cards used facebook and email to wish us, and  we them, and all round we had fewer hollow greetings from people or companies not important to us.
By being more organised in getting gift shopping and meal-planning done early, and by living in a quieter and more remote part of Cape Town we've managed to avoid crazy traffic and shops and malls altogether.
And by being more specific with family who asked for suggestions for gifts for the girls they still got terribly spoilt, but all the new stuff which has come into the house is what they, and we, wanted - things which'll endure and not just spread more clutter.

And, for not having big elaborate New Year's Eve plans, to be honest for not having any plans at all, this time after Christmas has become just that - time. Time to do some DIY jobs around the house, to hang out with friends, to hang out with each other, be spontaneous, be slothful, to just be.

Maybe the best thing about Christmas is that it's made me, once again, count my blessings, be conscious of my bliss and then given me the time to enjoy just that.

This evening I thought, ''What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more.” 

Friday, December 21, 2012


I recently got a new phone (Samsung Galaxy S3 woot! woot!) and started the process of getting my apps in order.
I spent most of last Friday night upgrading, re-installing and downloading some favourites, exploring some new ones (such a rocker, I know). It's been fun.

As with everything in my life though I haven't found the time to do all I want to do. I still have some standard message notification tones, don't know whether I've gotten an email, a text, a Whats App etc. It pings and I run to it, stroking it's cool, lithe casing (because of course I haven't found the ultimate sleeve yet) and trying to convince myself it's not somewhat ridiculously big (it is really).

But I quite like this two-yearly upgrade. The perfect opportunity to change and refresh my digital life. I haven't installed Google Reader yet, and am really enjoying reading blogs online and actually commenting - remember that? I haven't installed Twitter so only check that when I'm sitting in front of my PC, and as a result only really check the accounts I'm particularly interested in.
I haven't installed Evernote 'cos I'd stopped using it a number of months ago. Trimming the deadwood all round.

There are however some drawbacks, I don't have a proper calendar app yet and twice this week have managed to forget events or double-book myself. Amazing how reliant I'd become on my phone to keep my life in order.
And on that ... another unexpected result is that I've no idea when to expect my next period. I'd left that wholly in the hands of a 'period tracker' app - just clicking on the start and finish tabs and forgetting about it completely in between, until the app told me to expect the next one.
I've stared long and hard at our family (paper) calendar trying to remember when I had my last one but have drawn a total blank. Guess I'll just have to wait and see and maybe tune into my body more closely to let me know when it's imminent. So old-fashioned.

God, talk about a 1st world problem.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


As South Africans we know about living in fear. Unfortunately we've reason to.

And I've often thought there is no worse fear than not feeling safe in one's own home. I'm not going to look for the stats but apparently we're one of the nations which spends the most on our home security - beams, bars, dogs and weapons, exorbitant monthly fees to security companies.

We've reached a point where one often feels safer in public, surrounded by people, then alone and asleep in one's home at night.

I've always thought that was weird.

But far weirder to not feel safe in public. To become a society which doesn't go to the movies, to shopping malls, to school for god's sake, for fear of lone psychopaths with semi-automatics, or coordinated terrorist attacks, suicide bombers or missile attacks from a neighbouring country. That is a whole different kind of fear.

Today I'll stick with mine thank you.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


There can be few occupations as unproductive as raising small children. Yes there's joy and drudgery and heaps of entertainment and utter exhaustion and the (arguable) benefit of being able to do it in your pyjamas etc, but productive?  Not very.
Some would argue the proof is in the very long baking pudding, but even that you can't count on. Some of the best serial killers had at home parents.

I still can't quite get my head round how I can be so busy, for so much of the day and yet have so little to show for it in the end. A good home-cooked meal which everyone ate is often the highlight of my productive satisfaction. Add a spot of de-cluttering and I'm in ecstasies of achievement.

So when I manage to do this in a weekend, this one small thing, I'm beside myself.

Before: this very, very old desk - which used to be my change-table (as in to change my bum all those many years ago) - and spent 8 or 9 years rotting in our garden shed at the previous house ...

After: a good clean and drawers all freshly painted.

It's not a thing of any great beauty, and for that reason I can't promise I'll get round to painting the rest anytime soon, but it suits my small deskular needs and I couldn't live with that green for a moment longer.
I even rubbed soap along the wooden drawer rails inside and can happily report that old trick works wonders. Added bonus that the desk now smells clean and fresh as well as looking a whole lot better.

The room in which it stands was the previous owners home office, complete with wood paneling and cork floor for that fetching headmaster's office look. For now it's my study, and our art room, and perfect for flinging paint and good ideas.

I had a happy realisation while painting those drawers too (for isn't that the real benefit of doing something vaguely creative/crafty or DIY-ish, the time it gives your mind to wander and think freely?), I've got two and a half years until I turn 40.
And I pledge to myself that by then I'll be doing something a whole lot more 'productive', whatever that may be.