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.

 

2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

parkrun-birthday

Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

first-aid

June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

june-bake

 

July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

july-shelagh-rose-2

In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

august-wine-tasting

September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

mom-birthdayanniversary

I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

whodunnit

My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

herbalife-qualiiersw-dinner

The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

haircut

One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

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Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

movie-in-the-park

The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

colour-run

Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

marleymarley-2

The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

veld-fire

There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

reach-for-the-stars

 

 

Blind Dates, Studs ‘n Flaming Cortinas

I was inspired to do this repost of an entry I wrote in 2008 on another blog platform…before I discovered the wonders of WordPress 🙂 after reading this post from Scholars and Rogues.

I was chatting with a friend online last night and how we got onto the subject of blind dates, I don’t quite remember, but thought I would share my first (and last) blind date disaster with all of you.  Apologies in advance for the long read, but I hope it will bring at least a smile to your faces today, that I promise you.

Before I go any further, I need you all to know that generally, I don’t think I am attractive.  Not that I’m ugly…  It’s just that I can be in a room full of other women and at least 70% of them will, in my opinion, be more attractive than I am.  I regard myself more of a plain Jane than a ravishing beauty.

It all started when my cousin, Lorraine, 2 years older than myself was the chairperson of the local village’s pool club.  Every now and then she would come round to my house and drag me with her to the pool hall to shoot a few balls.  I should have realized then already that I wasn’t destined for this Crazy Little Thing called Love because I literally (and figuratively) have no ball sense.  As we continue this ride, this statement will become more evident and ring even truer than it does now.

We shot a couple of balls, or rather Lorraine did, while I attempted to rip as much felt-cover off the pool table with the cue as I could.  Eventually she lost her rag with me and decided to march me back to the car so she could take me home.  I would have walked, but it was pouring with rain.

As we were walking down the stairs at the pool hall, a guy shoved past us in the opposite direction and then had the audacity to wolf whistle at us and shout something like “Hey you sexy beasts…” 

At this time it should be noted that whilst I am not attractive, I am not a dog either, and thus, do not at all appreciate being whistled at, nor referred to as a beast of any other kind.

Lorraine wasn’t very charmed at the choice language I used in reply to his comment, but she got over it quickly enough because…
 
… two weeks later she sent me on a blind date with him!

I was visiting at her’s house – curled up comfortably on the couch watching a local soap opera when the door bell rang.  I didn’t make an attempt to answer it – firstly because it wasn’t my house and secondly, it was that crucial moment when two of my favourite characters were about to share a passionate kiss for the first time…

I vaguely heard her say, “She’s almost ready.  I think she’s just putting the last touches to her make-up.  Have a seat in the visitor’s lounge…”

Like the Duracell-Bunny on Energizer batteries, she came charging into the TV lounge, whipped me into her mother’s room, threw some clothes (including a pair of her mom’s high-heeled shoes 2 sizes too small) on me, as well as slapped some make-up on my face, shoved 50 bucks in my hand, whilst in very hushed tones informing me that I was going on a blind date to the local dance hall and that she clean forgot to tell me about it…(yeah right!!) She then dragged me out to the visitor’s lounge to meet the Doorbell-Ringer…

“MTM, this is Roger.  Roger, this is my cousin MTM.  Enjoy the evening, you two!”  And with a shove, he and I found ourselves on the front porch as the door thundered closed behind us.

I gave Roger a very quick once-over.  Tall ‘n blond.  Not badly dressed. 

Seeing that I was now in this situation, I decided to try to make the best of it.  I politely asked him where he had parked his car (the dance hall is about 2.5 Km from the house) as there wasn’t any form of transportation visible in the driveway.

He replied, “I don’t have a car.  We’re walking.  It’s not that far.”  I couldn’t believe my ears!  Walking?!  You’ve got to be kidding!!

Needless to say, I was not charmed by the time we reached the dance hall…

Firstly because Roger had taken it on himself to re-christen me to Angelcakes. 

Secondly because he gave me a running commentary of his dream car – an old Ford Cortina, which he was going to have painted gloss black with a Phoenix rising from the ashes painted on the bonnet.  (Lorraine, you are going to be so dead when I get my hands on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

And thirdly, but by no means less importantly, because my poor feet resembled two large oranges trying to make their escape out of a banana peel! They were blistered, but not enough for me to be able to get out of this situation

I think Roger must have picked up that I was feeling slightly harrassed, because he told me he would pay my entrance fee – and then proceeded to drop the money-note on the ground where the wind picked it up and blew it into a storm-water drain.  This, I understand was beyond his control, but what really got me is that he spent 15 minutes on his knees trying to fish it out with a stick!

Eventually I ended up paying for our entrance and he bought me a cooldrink.  He offered me a cigarette, which I turned my nose up at. 

Seeing that we had walked all the way to the dance hall to dance, we decided to give it a bash.  And what a bash it was.  I bashed onto his feet and he bashed onto mine. 

Roger politely enquired as to whether or not I had actually ever danced before prior to now.  Honestly, I hadn’t, but I wasn’t going to let on. 

He told me to look at his feet to get a rhythm and then to look up at him.  It worked.  Everytime I lost the step, I would look at his feet and the steps would come.  Finally getting the hang of things, I decided to check him out properly…

Surfer-blond hair
Nice blue eyes
Clean shaven
Crisp white shirt
Black jacket
Black jeans…and then it caught my eye…

I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t what you’re thinking it is. 

I don’t deny that I was working my way down to check out his package, but I never got that far because it caught my attention…

There between his crisp white shirt and his black jeans was a belt buckle.  And not just any belt buckle.  A belt buckle that read “STUD” in 5 inch letters. Polished to irridescent brilliance…Now, this was just too much.

I feigned a headache and demanded to go home, which Roger was only too happy to accommodate.  We walked back to Lorraine’s house where I politely thanked him for the cool drink and the few dances.  Before he could even try to kiss me, I opened the door, said a very hurried goodnight and closed the door in his face. 

I know it was mean, but I couldn’t face the thought of, while he was not a bad-looking guy, playing tonsil hockey with a guy that “advertised” himself as a STUD

(MMmmmmm you kiss so nice (STUD).  Don’t stop what you’re doing (STUD).  Do it again (STUD)…)

You get the picture I’m sure…
 
I stormed up the stairs to Lorraine’s room.  I was quite ready to drive a stake through her well-meaning heart!

She was lying on her bed.  “So, how was it?” she asked rather nonchalantly, trying to hide a smile.

“How was it, you ask?  I’ll tell you how it was!”  I bellowed.  “It was a disaster !  An utter disaster!  You sent me on a blind date with a man that made me walk to our destination.  In shoes two sizes too small, I might add.”

Lorraine looked rather puzzled at this revelation “Walk?” 

“Yes, walk.  You know.  One foot then the other.  Walk.  You sent me on a blind date with a guy who has no car.  BUT wait, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have plans to invest in one.  He is going to invest in an old Ford Cortina, spray it gloss-black and have a Phoenix rising from the ashes painted on the bonnet.  And then he is going to come and fetch me – aka Angelcakes – for a spin.” 

This was obviously just too much for her to handle because she lost her composure entirely and began to laugh hysterically.  The tears were eventually streaming down her face.  “You always have to be such a drama queen, MTM.  He has to own a car.  How else did he get to the pool hall the other night?”

“I don’t know!  Maybe he walked?  Or maybe he got a lift?  But he told me he doesn’t own a car.  Never mind that, it gets worse!”

She looked completely dumbstruck (which is something that doesn’t happen to her ever). 

“When we eventually arrived at the dance hall, he took out the money for the cover charge, as you said he probably would.  Then he dropped it on the ground where the wind picked it up and carried it into a drain,” 

Before she could interrupt, I continued, “where he spent the next fifteen minutes trying to fish it out with a stick.  I eventually paid for us both to go in.  At least he had money to buy me a cool drink.  And another thing, how could you send me on a date with someone that smokes?  You know I don’t like it.”

She looked at me, started laughing hysterically again.  “No! He didn’t!!  I can just see this.”  More hysterical laughter.

“Lorraine, I can’t believe you are making fun of me.  You sent me on the most disasterous blind date in history and you think it’s funny.  Well, I’ll show you funny.” 

I proceeded to demonstrate the foot-bashing dance routine and my discovery of it, the STUD belt buckle.  “You sent me on a blind date with a guy that literally advertises himself as a STUD .  How could you?!  I don’t know what’s worse, you wanting to send me out with a STUD or should I rather call him Flaming-Phoenix Cortina Man?!

She didn’t believe me.  She just laughed hysterically.  “You know, when you leave school, you should go into acting.  You’d be pretty good.”

So I told her, I’d prove it.  I contacted Roger the next day and asked him to pick something up at Lorraines’s office.  He did – in full STUD garb.  She was gobsmacked…
 
The phone rang moments after I had got home from school.

“MTM, MTM!! you were right!  He does have a belt buckle that reads STUD.  I don’t believe it!!  And, for the record, I checked his package out – he’s anything but a STUD.  I’m sorry.  If I had known…”

Before Lorraine could continue her apology, I interjected, “If you’d known, you would have what Lorraine?  You would have still sent me on a blind date with someone else – and with my drama-queen luck, it would have probably been Jeffrey Dahmer’s love-child or something, so it’s OK.  You’re forgiven.  Just don’t do it again.  Ever.  Promise me.  Please.”

To rid myself of Roger, I introduced him to Neema, a close friend of mine, but I did warn her about the STUD thing.  They hit it off, but it didn’t last long…don’t know whatever happened to him. 

As for Lorraine, she promised and has lived up to her word.  To this day, 17 years later, she has not attempted to play Matchmaker again.

Thank goodness for that! 

Sixty Six and Still Going Strong

Today is my Mom’s birthday – she is 66. Next week I turn 33, the age she was when she had me, and my biological clock is ticking so loudly, it feels like Big Ben has taken residence in my head. BUT, I continue to hold onto the philosophy that God is still writing my love story. He knows the desires of my heart, and He does have a perfect plan for my life.

Not only is it my mom’s birthday, she and my stepdad (who is the best father anyone could hope for!) are also married for 21 years today. Strangely though, he hardly ever remembers their anniversary. Obviously Mom’s logic didn’t have the desired result.

Tonight Mom, Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry, Elizabeth, Aunty Meryl, Cousin Lorian and her hubby Roman are going out for dinner. Dad is unfortunately still on the oil rig in Ghana. We’ll clink a glass in his absence though.

Well, my Old Bean, here’s wishing you a wonderful birthday, may it be a memorable one!


(Picture from: simplewedding.myblog.it)

Movie of my Life

A lot of heartbreak has happened in the last few weeks.  G.T and I have apologised to one another, but what there was between us is something of the past.  In my heart I know that we may bump into each other again, but the possibility of reconciliation – romantically, or even as friends, is nil.  As hard as it is, I’m okay with it.  I am slowly getting my focus back, which feels so good!

I asked Carmen what the first word was that popped into her head and she said, “Cinema”.  My initial reaction was, “Oh-Kay?!”…but turns out that it is exactly what my Muse wanted to hear…

Image

Movie of my Life

 

The room is dark

Its bouquet dank

I’m alone with my thoughts

The ghosts of my life fill the other seats

 

A familiar click of the eight millimetre reel

Shifts my mind’s focus

A quick flicker of light hushes the formless voices

To concentrate on the story being told

 

Dressed in a pink baby grow and swaddled in fleece

A tiny little mite sleeps peacefully in her crib

Her Mother beams with joy, hope and pride

Little Mite’s life lies ahead, a journey, hopefully one helluva ride

 

Little Baby Bunting sitting on a bright bunnied bedspread

Squealing with delight as she plays with a cute kitten

Her laughter echoes off the walls, Her Mother smiles

Neither one of them is aware of the awaiting life-trials

 

Uniformed in red and white, smiling bright, school begins

This six year old serious child isn’t scared

She runs ahead without looking back – excited, challenged

Her Mother’s weeping so, her eyes are redly flared

 

She stares out of the bus window into the black night

The sounds and lights of the city fade into the distance

She knows in her soul this is necessary, but her heart still aches

Her Mother knows best – life can change in an instant

 

Dressed in gold and black for a final year school event

She’s transformed from petulant teen into a young woman

Her Mother smiles wishing her the best, knowing by experience

So much still lies ahead for her child in Life’s tests

 

I shut my eyes to the images on the screen

As a solitary tears escapes down my cheek

My Mother has made so many sacrifices for me

She has always been strong, even though she’s felt weak…

Seriously?! W.T.F? Senator says Single Mothers Contribute to Child Neglect and Abuse…

Okay, so I’m not into huge political debates and the like, simply because I think most politicians are overpaid dimwits.  I also don’t profess to know anything about the political system in theUnited States, but I do have some amount of common sense.

A friend of mine, Alistair Jameson, has started an initiative called A Mother of a Ride where he and a number of other cyclists will be covering over 6000 Km across South Africa (about 10000 miles) on bicycles to make people aware of domestic violence, and what can be done to break the silence against it. He posted this article (if you can call it that) on Facebook this morning and after I had read it, a myriad of emotions went through me – the biggest one being anger, quickly followed by mouth-agape-disbelief.

What on God’s green earth is this Senator thinking?  Or wait, let me rephrase that – did he have a bowl of stupid for breakfast, with a dash of the dark ages on the side?  He has never been married (I wonder why), nor has he had kids.  What does he honestly hope to achieve with this legislation?

I would like to pose some simple-common-sense questions to him, as he obviously can’t think further than his nose.

Senator,

  1. By effectively “penalizing” single mothers (note, not single fathers), you are stating that it is better for a woman, and her child, to stay in a (possibly) abusive relationship.  So, as long as the family is a nuclear unit, to hell with what the long term consequences might be.  Is that right?
  2. You mention unwed, single mothers – what about mothers in common-law marriages, effectively they are unwed.  Or doesn’t that matter, because there is a man in the equation?
  3. How will your legislation impact single mothers, who have become “unwed” by losing their husband to death?  How long will they be “allowed” to be single mothers before they too are penalized, or are you expecting them to be in front of the altar with another man before their husband is even cold in the ground?
  4. What of mothers who become single through divorce?  Even more so, what of mothers who become single through divorce because their husbands filed the suit? 

Let me tell you something Senator – I was raised by a single, unwed mother for a great deal of my formative years.  My biological father was a drunk, gambling, pot addict, who would often disappear for weeks on end when the mood grabbed him.  He abused my mother physically and emotionally and he abused me (and some other young girls) sexually.  It was my mother who sold up and left, who saw to it that I was well looked after, while she often went without.  She eventually married a wonderful man, who treated me like his own flesh and blood – but that very easily could not have happened.

One thing I’m quite sure of – no woman wants to be a single mother – it’s hard, it’s demanding and sometimes disheartening, but she will if it means she can give her child a better life.  I’m sure too, if my mother had to do it again, she would. 

Maybe if you had children of your own, you’d understand.

 Oh, and one more thing – when you sit down to have breakfast tomorrow, try a bowl of reality with a dash of empathy.  It’s way better than a bowl of stupid…