#BlackMonday

October 30th, 2017.  In South Africa, Black Monday.  A day when many of the country’s citizens donned black clothes and stood in solidarity against the heinous farm murders taking place in our beautiful country.  Yes, I did attend one of many gatherings held all over the Republic.  The message is clear.  The violence must stop.  Now, many of you know me in person, but for those of you who don’t, I like to be a bit of a Devil’s Advocate.

And, before I any of you decide to stone-, waterboard-, bury- alive, or burn me at the stake, I categorically state that I do believe in the cause.  But farm murders are not the only problem our country faces.  There is a ridiculous amount of violence against particularly (but not limited to) women and children, committed not only by adults either.  Just this past Saturday I was told of a young female teacher who is being targeted by her male students, and another incident of a second- grade little boy being sexually assaulted by three other boys a year old than he.  Every year there is a whole month dedicated to Awareness of Violence against Women and Children, yet the statistics continue to rise.

Earlier this year, almost the entire country just about came to a standstill to march against the state president, because he is not doing his job.  There is proof of corruption and collusion with a very controversial family that subsequently left South Africa when things got too hot to handle, rape (yes, despite the activism against violence against women and children, our state president ignored a young woman’s right to say No! #RememberKhwezi) If you’re in the dark about what I’m talking about, read it here.    Again, he’s still in office, with a cabinet of ministers that he has reshuffled for the umpteenth time since January.

I believe in the Collective Voice, but I’m also a realist.  The only hope for South Africa (and other parts of the world too) is a Divine Intervention.  The problem is that as a country we are divided – because of racial-, cultural-, gender- and religious differences (to name but a few).  Until we really stand together long-term against the system that is failing us, we’re merely a few needles in a colossal haystack.

And it’s with the haystack analogy that I come back to the farmers – without them there will be no food (or milk), no jobs for the farm labourers (nor shelter for those fortunate enough to receive housing on the farms), increased import costs (because we will have to get produce from somewhere).  In short, it is going to set us back and put us on par with our African neighbours who really have nothing to show for ‘righting the wrongs of the past’ except barren land and empty store shelves.

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Image from SABC

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The Big Things in Life are Often Inexpensive…

…Yet leave us with a wealth of contentment.

Last week I headed off to the The Mother City to write exams.  My Herbalife-friend, Tina tagged along for the ride.  I was so grateful because she drove most of the way and as a result I had a few extra hours to study.

We stayed in a delightful flat in Mowbray that I found on Airbnb.  Our host, Noel, was absolutely amazing, adding a personal touch by including a small bottle of sparkling wine to the welcome basket in the flat, which we drank on Thursday afternoon after we’d spent the rest of the day at Signal Hill, playing silly buggers and The Company Gardens feeding the pigeons and the squirrels.  A highlight was “The Perfect Cup” which was served at the coffee shop at the latter.

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Other highlights included catching up with my friends, Jakes, and Alijay for quick coffees.  Oh, and I had the best curry of my life the Wednesday night (yes, in Cape Town, not Durban!)

and a smashing Lemon Meringue with “The Perfect Cup”.

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All in all, looking back, I am glad that I didn’t once, set foot in a mall and spend money on stuff that I not only don’t need, but can’t afford – and that will be fleeting pleasures.  These #memories are forever!

 

Aimee’s at It Again…

My blog is a relatively no-holds barred space.  I write about different things, and often from one extreme to the next.  I know that I have different readership, for which I am grateful, but I want to state, again, that I will not tolerate prejudice from those readers who disagree with the content of any of my posts – like the atheists about my religious/faith posts, or the Bible followers that disagree with my view on people like Aimee and her choices.  If you can’t respect that, then I’d rather have you unfollow me.

Thank you.

Now, if you’re still reading:

Read this post first, so that you have the background.

My exams are finally over.  *Happy dance*!  I got back from Cape Town on Friday afternoon, and was surprised to hear that Aimee was in town.  Obviously, we had to get together to catch up on what’s happened since our last visit, a fortnight shy of a year.

Poor woman.  She is totally fucked – in the physical sense of the word, but in the psychological realm too.  She’s not crazy (well, then again, she is in my inner circle, so maybe she is a bit touched), but mind-fucked.

A lot has gone down in the past year, which is the last time I saw her:

Junior got involved with a girl his own age and from what Aims tells me, he seems idyllically happy.  She seems okay about it, telling me that on the odd ocassion he’ll call, just to hear how she’s doing, which she appreciates, although he did tell her the other night that while he was in the shower, he thought to himself that he should phone her.  Hello?!  He’s involved with another chick, yet he thought about Aimee when there was steam surrounding his naked body while hot water was pounding his flesh.  Well, maybe it wasn’t just hot water…   In the back of her mind though, I think she knew even if they had got their groove on, it would have been short-lived.

Mr. Married Willy is also out of the picture.  I say, “Thank God!” even though she is devastated.  While all he initially wanted was the intellectual sex, they decided to meet in person a while ago, but he couldn’t get out of the house, “for fear of making my wife suspicious” and then again recently, but nothing came of it.  I said he got cold feet, she said he got a cold heart, which shriveled his dick and crumbled his spine.  I get her anger, but he is married, although I know better than to bring that up because it’s not what she needs-, nor wants to hear right now.

She tried to be brave when telling me of her disappointment, but I know she’s hurting.  I’m not sure if she was in love him, but she was curious, and with her vivid imagination, I think she had some kind of picture in her head of him getting a divorce, then having rip-roaring, sheet-tearing, chandelier-swinging sex with him, and possibly, some kind of future.  It’s a definite no-go after he made some shitty excuse about not being able to see her.  Snap!  That’s the sound of the little bit of frayed line that held whatever-it-was-they-had together.  I want to phone him and tear a strip off of him, but she’s put a leash on me, so she’s planning her own revenge.  She knows who his wife is, and it’s easy enough to get in touch with her on Facebook.  She has every last text message, and e-mail exchange of the almost two years they’ve been corresponding, and she has no qualms about forwarding them to his unsuspecting wife.  I can only hope she changes her mind because while he deserves to be miserable and alone, his children didn’t ask for this.

There’s no shortage of virile men around Aimee though.  Mr. Freak, now known as Mr. Hot Bunz is still in the picture, which surprises me, especially after her disconnection from the moment the last time and because Friends with Benefits is not her style; being a fuck-buddy, with the right guy is.  For those of you not sure what the difference is:

Friend with Benefits:  Person who is a friend, with whom you enjoy spending time, doing friend-stuff, but it may or may not end up with you doing the horizontal mambo.  When either one is in a relationship, then the benefits are forfeited.

Fuck Buddy: You both fuck each other senseless and then sleep in your respective homes.  There is nothing friend-like about the arrangement.  You’re basically carnal rabbits in a cosmic pheromone-filled warren. Synonym: Booty Call.

So, now that you have the nutshell meanings, Aims is the kind of girl that’ll hook up for the occasional one-night-stand, and if he has her coming like a garden hose, she might even enter into a fuck-buddy arrangement with him, but it will never involve doing ‘relationshippy’ things, like drinks at a fancy bar, walks on the beach or a movie-night, with pizza and wine, nor will it ever involve him/her spending the night.  It will be wanton sex. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it’s different with Mr. Hot Bunz and it’s messing with her head.  He’s become her friend and a confidante.  I’ll chalk the latter off to the fact that I live too far away for her to pop in for a heart-to-heart over a glass of good red.  She hooked up with him the same night Mr. Married Willy stood her up, and it blew her mind, but she feels guilty now.

“Oh. My. God!  Aims, you’re not…”

Yes, she’s in love with him, and she has made the epic mistake of telling him how she feels.  Kudos to him for not getting into his car and riding a million miles in the opposite direction, even more so when she may, or may not have told him in a hazy sleep-awake moment that she loved him, or someone else.  She knows she heard a loud, “What?” from a voice, but she’s not sure if it was his voice, or if she dreamt the whole thing.  If she did say it out loud, I hope it was that she loved him, because she’s already had one strike.  I also hope that if he is an actual knight in shining armour, that he will at least be open to something more, because while Aimee almost never has her shit together, she is a one in a million girl and when she’s in a committed relationship, she’s in it for keeps.  All she needs is a good guy to take a gamble on her.  I know if he does, he will have struck the biggest jackpot imaginable.

To balance things out, Aims finally stopped gushing about herself and Mr. Sexy Ass, just long enough to ask about how things are with my love life.

“Less complicated than yours”, was my response, which is the truth, but some days I wish I had her open mind, smoking hot body and happy-go-lucky (for the most part) attitude towards life and fiery rabbit-love.

I have a feeling too, that another year isn’t going to pass before I give you an update on Aimee’s Escapades, given that she is seeing Mr. Sexy Ass more often now.  So, ‘til next time…adios!

Ma-V: Steel Magnolia

 

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On Saturday evening, Wolf’s mom has left her diseased earthly body, exchanging it for her angel wings.  Her pain is finally over.  Yes, the doctors said three to six months, but the reality of the situation was, that today marks nineteen days since Wolf shared his mother’s diagnosis with me.  How sick she was before then, I do not know, nor did I ask.  The news in itself was awful enough.

While she was Mom to Wolf, she was an unofficial mother to many of his friends too.  Her name was Verona, or as I sometimes referred to her, Ma-V.  I was fascinated by her name, and only a while after having met her, did I find out Verona is a town in Italy.  Verona and I often talked about our dreams – both of us wanting to tour Europe, having even gone so far to get the brochures, check out the tours and make plans – only to never execute them, because we were always too busy with the things our lives threw at us.

She often said that she wanted me to write her life story.  I thought she was being flippant, but it turns out her desire for me to tell her story was genuine.  I feel dreadful about not taking her seriously.  I said to Wolf I would write it posthumously, but he said there is so much even he doesn’t know, and if I’m honest with myself, I would be doing it for the wrong reason:  guilt.  And I know Verona well enough to know she wouldn’t have wanted it that way.

I have fond memories of her.  Our first meeting – an unplanned New Year’s party at Wolf’s house, where a few of us, Elizabeth included, shared a concoction of booze out of a giant wine glass, while we laughed at Wolf who decided the best outfit for the occasion was his late Gran’s bathing costume.

I spent some time with her and Uncle Jannie, who I endearingly refer to as Oom Brombeer (Oom Grumpy Bear).  For the first while of that holiday, I spent time with them in their little home in Queenstown, where I learned that wild spinach or umfino is an edible weed.  It was a cold night and we sat at the little kitchen table, each with a little tipple and she made pancakes for us.  She tried to teach me to make them, but alas, I am not made for such delicate kitchen ventures.  That same trip she ran me a bath after a phone call to my parents that had left me particularly upset.  She even went to the trouble of lighting a few kombuis-kerse  – “for effect, Koeks”.

During that same visit, I convinced her that she and I needed a spa day.  She had never done something that indulgent, Koeks, but she eventually conceded defeat and made the appointment.  Not wanting to scar her for life during her first visit by taking her for a therapy that required any kind of undress, we opted for Indian head massages.  While she said that she had “loved it, Koeks,” she couldn’t wait to get home fast enough, so she could wash the oil out of her hair.  I tried to explain that the longer she left the oil on her hair, the more relaxed she’d feel, but she was having none of it.

We left Oom Brombeer in Queenstown and headed off to East London where he would join us later that week.  With no real plans, we took a slow drive, turning off at a sign that said “Thomas River”, which is a historical hamlet with a population of less than ten residents.  We had a ball there, taking pictures and chatting to one of the gentlemen in the restaurant/bar.  It was amazing to be in a place that time had literally forgotten about.

That weekend, Wolf and his dad joined us and we went out for a seafood dinner.  What. A. Night.  She still talked about it the very last time I saw her, which I will get to shortly.  We happened to walk into someone that she and Oom Brombeer did business with, and well, the man did think he was the last Adonis.  He passed some remark and without missing a beat I replied with something that had him opening and closing his mouth wordlessly, like a fish out of water.  A while later, the waiter brought a bottle of wine, “compliments of the gentleman at that table,” he said, pointing at the Guppy Man.  Nodding our thanks, we proceeded to savour that bottle of wine and regale tales of all sorts which had all of us laughing to the point of losing our breaths.  That night I really began to wish Wolf had made different decisions about his life and having me in it on a more permanent basis, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I wanted to pay the bill, given that I had spent almost a fortnight with them, but when I took my credit card out, there was a scuffle, some confusion and my deceptive ears heard, the bill had been settled, so I hooked my ‘skoonma’ (Afrikaans colloquialism for Mother-in-Law) into my arm and we headed off to the car, quite loud and cheery, mind you.  Imagine our surprise when the waiter came charging after us to tell us the bill hadn’t been paid.  We had unintentionally bilked, but I sorted it out quickly enough.

Another time I visited them in East London, I had big plans to cook mussels in garlic and white wine as a treat for them.  I had just got the sauce simmering on the stove when the electricity blacked out.  Verona was looking way too forward to that meal so she delegated Uncle Jannie to find the gas bottle so I could finish cooking that way.  It is probably a good time to mention that I am shit scared of anything that remotely has to do with a gas bottle, and that, as a really short person, I most often, when forced to use this means of heat, have to either stand on a chair, or have the cooker on the floor so that I can see into the pot.  This time was no different.  The gas bottle stood on the floor with the pot gently bubbling on top of it.  Every so often I would flick on the torch to see that the food wasn’t being scorched by the scary blue flames.  Oom Brombeer pulled the car close to the verandah, popped on the headlights , opened the doors and put the radio on and the three of us danced on the stoep, like we were the only people in the world.  We were brought back to reality quite quickly though because when I passed the kitchen on the way to the loo, I happened to notice thick, white sauce – all over the kitchen floor.  I was horrified, but Verona laughed it off and set to quickly mopping the gross, garlicky mess up.  I don’t remember what, if anything, we ate that night, but I remember laughter, fun and smiles.

I used to also send her and Oom Brombeer a care-package every so often – in the days when I could actually afford to.  One time I packed them a box with all sorts of goodies, including a bottle of home-made ginger beer.  As there were also fragile items in the box, I filled the box with polystyrene chips to protect the goods.  This was in the time that Verona still drove the Fiat Kangoo panel van.  I will never forget that phone call as long as I live!  “Koeks,” came the panicky voice, “the entire panel van is covered in polystyrene chips!  Something exploded in the box.  Good thing I wasn’t in the car.”  Realizing what had happened, trying not to laugh, despite the ridiculous picture I had in my head of the scene, I mentioned that there was a bottle of ginger beer in the box and that I hadn’t thought it would “go kaboom”.  Later than night she sent me a message telling me that now that she was sitting down with the little bit of ginger beer that hadn’t made it out of the bottle, she was roaring with laughter at the memory.

Later she and Oom Brombeer adopted a little girl, Kerry.  That is also something I will always remember about Verona – how she had always said she’d wanted a daughter, and how, by an unplanned turn of events,  she had been fortunate enough to have that one desire of her heart.  One thing about Verona is that she was a great mother, not only to her own flesh and blood, Wolf, but to little Kerry too.  She was a great second mom to me too, even though as life happened, and we didn’t get to see as much of each other as we would have liked, we still stayed in touch.
The last time I physically saw her was about two years ago, when she, Oom Brombeer and Kerry were here on holiday.  Oom Brombeer took Kerry to the water slides and Verona joined me for a spot of tea, in my flat.  It wasn’t a long visit, and had  I known it would be the last time I would ever see her alive, I would have told her more important things, than just the mundane.

There are many more memories I have of Verona, but I think for now, I’ve shared enough.

Ma-V, thank-you for setting such an incredible example to so many of us about tolerance of hardships, gentleness during perseverance, faithfulness in times of hopelessness and loneliness, and for being such an inspiration to so many, myself included.  I promise that one day, if I am ever fortunate enough to visit Italy that I will go to Verona, and find a quiet spot somewhere there to tell you all about it, because I know you will be listening.

Thank-you too for the happy film reel that will continue to play on in the hearts of all the people that you touched with your gentle, open and ever-joyful character – You will not be forgotten because your spirit lives on in your family who is left behind.  You are the epitome of the term, steel magnolia, Ma-V.

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Elation and Heartbreak … at the Same Time

I have many best friends.  And they’re all besties for different reasons.  There’s Elizabeth who has dried my tears and hated my ex-boyfriends for me even before they became exes to begin with.  There’s Keira, from Jozi, who even though more than 1000 Km’s (over 580 miles) separates us, when we see each other, it’s like no time whatsoever has passed.  There’s Theresa, Harriet, James, Carmen, Eliza, Steve, and many more.  But there are two in particular I want to share with you about today, and how I am torn between them, because they both need me, and it is breaking my heart.

There’s Shayla-Rae who has been my best friend since we were 9.  That’s a whole 29 years this year.  We were thick as thieves at school, lost contact for a while and when we finally did reconnect after more than a decade, the bond forged in fire, stood the test, and strengthened even more after her dad passed a little over two years ago.  She and her husband are expecting.  Their first.  A petite girl who will be named Lily.  Shayla-Rae asked me to be the little flower’s godmother, which both scared and exhilarated me at the same time.  She is going to bloom very soon as the due date according to the gynae is this coming Tuesday, the 30th.  I am almost as excited as the Mamma bear herself.

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On the other side there’s Wolf.  Wolf and I have been friends for about 13 years now and had it not been for life happening and our respective responses to those events, we could very easily have got hitched.  I could have been writing my bestsellers while he tended to the garden and cooked amazing meals.  I love him, and he knows it, but alas, we’re just two star-crossed lovers, fated to either be with other people, or as is more preferable to us, alone.  I met his parents when they were holidaying here one year and we just hit it off.  I refer to them as Mom and Dad, and in an unofficial capacity, they will always be my in-laws.  It broke my heart when Wolf let me know less two weeks ago that Mom had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Stage 4B.  For those of you not familiar with what I mean – Stage 4A = localised cancer, in the pancreas only, Stage 4B means that it has spread.  In Mom’s case to her liver and her kidneys.  She wanted to see me, and once again, because of life happening, I was forced to put it off. He was (still is) willing to fork out the fortune for me to fly to East London via Johannesburg for me to fulfil one of his mother’s dying wishes. I let him know the soonest I could be there was the first weekend in July.  I was thinking the first weekend in June, but explained to him that I wanted to be here for the birth of my god-child (she may make an early/late appearance), the following week we have customers visiting from overseas and because I am the Account Manager for that specific customer, I have to be here.  The following week I am alone in the office and the week after I am writing exams.  He was fine with it.  After all, the doctors said her prognosis was 3-6 months.

But, they are not God.  They do not know He plans to call Mom home.  Wolf called me just after lunch to let me know that Mom is in a deep sleep now and it is not likely that she will wake up.  His words to me, were, “Be strong.  I’m okay.”

Goodbye April! Things are already better in May…

Inspiration.  It comes from the strangest of places sometimes most times.  More often than not, it isn’t really subtle either…

Today, the Giggling Gourmet, @Jenny Morris, whom I follow on Facebook posted a quote by Marilyn Vos Savant:

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If you read my previous post, you will be more than aware of how defeated I felt, how close I was to tossing it all in the fuck-it-bucket and having a pity party of epic proportions.  Giving up really did look like a promising option.  Not only because of my flooded flat, which more than two weeks later has still not been assessed by the insurance for damages, but because of the struggles my parents have faced of late.

Mom still mourns Marley daily, and their living conditions leave a lot to be desired, but, with that said, acceptance of- or resignation to the fact that this is how things may be for the foreseeable future, has made things a little easier to deal with.  I still hate having to see my parents live in an industrial area where all sorts of noxious fumes are the order of the day, especially with Mom’s propensity to bronchitis and asthma.  The confined space that she and Dad have to share is also not ideal because he is frustrated to the point of physical aggression.  Just yesterday, he tried to hang a shelf which he spent hours making.  A piece of the wood split when he drilled it into the wall and he almost smashed the thing to pieces with the hammer.  It worries me a great deal.  I wish there was something I could do, but short of holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to come and live with me, my hands are tied.

Then of course, there are the tired expressions, such as, “this too shall pass”, or “it could be worse”, or “count your blessings, not your problems”, which I will admit, are all true.  Hearing these platitudes from people who actually are in my- and my parents’ life is acceptable, but I have to muster every last bit of self-control not to tell other people who know us, but prefer to live in happy obliviousness in their ivory towers, to shut the hell up.

Before I get lynched, I have the greatest respect for the trials we all have to face, but no two situations are the same.  Your wife leaving you for another man is regrettable and tragic, but so is my parents’ loss of almost everything they worked hard to build up.  I could go on like a long-playing record, but I would rather not rant more than is necessary.

In between all of this drama, I had to still find time to complete my second assignment before my upcoming exams in June.  I finished and handed in by the deadline, but part of me feels that had things been a bit calmer, I could have done more.  I anxiously await the results.

Since last week I have received incredible support from not only my friends and my colleagues.  Elizabeth and her parents put me up for a few nights, feeding me well (she still makes the best chicken pie in the whole world!) and allowing me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings.  The restlessness of living out of a suitcase got to me though and I opted to take a colleague and his wife up on their offer of staying in the granny flat on their property until such time that my flat is habitable again.  At first I was hesitant, but after arriving, and seeing a beautiful bunch of proteas on the table to welcome me, I immediately felt at home.

The stability of a “home-away-from-home” without distractions, has afforded me the opportunity to begin revision for my final exam.  Heaven knows, I want to get this subject over and done with.  Having failed twice, many years ago, I’m hoping that the third time will indeed be a charm, otherwise I will forfeit all the credits I have obtained to date, and then have to do the entire year over, which is something I cannot afford.  So, putting the positive vibes out there – when I receive the notification that I have passed my Diploma in International Trade (Exports) exam, I will be celebrating with something bubbly – even if it is just sparkling mineral water.

The messages of care from friends far and wide have been a comfort in a time that has been so dark for my parents and I.  A surprise visit from a Capetonian friend last weekend also did a lot to lift our spirits, as did a visit with Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and some friends.  Speaking of Uncle Barry – he worked incredibly hard to get dad’s car running again, which we are all so grateful for.  Dad can now get to work every day without hassles or stressing about rapturous steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Eliza and Nicholas have invited me to eat with them in the evenings (as they are very close to where I am residing for the interim), so I don’t have to cook.  Yay!

To every single one of you, who has, despite your own storms, blessed my parents and I with words of encouragement, a loan to keep the bank from taking my car back, a pot of soup, a bed to sleep in, an ear to listen, a long, flaming-hot shower, a back & neck destress massage or who did a load (more like a mountain!) of washing.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  You are the people that I will roll a boulder out of the way for.

So yes, things are not ideal, but they are 100% more ideal than they were in April.  And for that, I’m grateful, because while we’ve been defeated, we’re a long shot from giving up.