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…

Quick Reflections on a Year Past, Resolutions for the One Ahead

Last night I sat, chilled Chardonnay in hand, on the comfy chair in Elizabeth’s lounge chatting about 2011.  Personally it wasn’t a bad year for me, but many people close to me lost someone important to them.  Every time there was a loss, even though it didn’t directly link with me, it made me more and more aware of my own mortality.

I remember a post Aunty Carol put on Facebook – “Children, be careful of growing up too fast, because you forget that while you are, your parents are growing old.”  This really touched me because I realize every time Dad comes home from a month at sea, that he has aged.  Mom told me one night that she is ready to die and I burst into tears.  She looked at me tenderly, “We’re all going to die sometime, my girl,” she said, “it’s the one thing no-one can escape.”  Tears streaming down my face I said, “I know Mom, but I don’t want to think about it.”  

I started a new job in April and I am so happy – I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues, an understanding boss and enough stimulation for my mind.  Even more importantly, this job allows me to spend time with my family, my friends, do my writing and enjoy a good book every now and then.

I stopped drinking my anti-depressants (cold turkey) in mid-October and towards the end of November, I hit a very bad downer, but with the help of mostly my friends, I got through it. 

Also, something I never thought I would ever do was exercise every day, let alone join the gym, but I did – and that too has made me a better person.  I have made new friends there and even though I go for only an hour every day, I come home feeling energized and positive.  

All in all, as I reflect on 2011, it was an okay year for me.  I’m looking forward to 2012.

I don’t have any major resolutions for this year, but a few things I want to achieve are:

1.  Submitting a complete manuscript to my tutor for proof-reading and editing and then rewrite it well enough to submit it for publishing consideration.

2.  Practicing a random act of kindness every day – after all, there is a saying that says “be kinder than necessary to everyone you meet, for everyone is facing some kind of battle.”

3.  Walk through the night at the annual CANSA Relay for Life.

4.  Go on another cruise holiday (for my leave in December).

5.  Blog daily – even if it is a short post, or simply a wordless photograph.

6.  Be the best friend I can be to my friends.

7.  Leave behind the past and focus on the future.  

8.  Reach my goal weight of 61 Kg by the end of June.

A friend of mine sent me this message this morning – and I believe that it is perfect to end this first entry of what I KNOW is going to be a great year…

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters to what lies within us.  We all have questions about what this New Year will hold for us, but we have courage:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

A Reminder to Say “I Love You, Mom”

Life is strange…sometimes it deals you a Royal Flush and you are soaring high above the clouds, because you know that nothing can beat it, and other times, it chucks the cards aside and changes the game to baseball, pitching you a curve ball so unexpected, you’re not sure if what you’re feeling is right or not.

In my job I don’t get to deal with as many people on the phone as with my previous jobs, but the few I do, I feel I have built a good repore (sp?) with. I heard from one associate that the person I normally deal with, Ray, would be out of the office for a few days as his mother had passed away.

I received a mail from Ray this morning, concluding that he was back at work. I don’t quite know why I sent him this mail, but something inside me kept urging me to do so, so I did.

“Hi Ray,

I heard from Patricia about your Mom’s passing. I am so sorry for you loss. I am not going to say I know how you feel, because I don’t think anyone does. I only hope that with time the sadness and longing will become less and that the good memories will stay with you forever.

With condolences,
MTM”

His reply was short:

“Thanks MTM. It’s tough, my heart is so sore.”

I can understand that – I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be for a person to lose their mother, regardless of what age they are when the loss occurs. What I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming heartache I felt for Ray at that moment, nor the tears that followed. My heart too is so sore – and I don’t know him personally. He is simply a voice on the telephone…

As I sit here, typing this, I am overwhelmed by sadness and gratitude at the same time. Many of my friends have lost their Moms already, mainly to illness, yet I still have mine (and so often I don’t appreciate her enough). I am going to make a point of telling her today and other days too, that I love her. I’m going to stop assuming that she knows it.

Day Two: Nine Loves

Nine Loves…

I uhm’ed and ah’ed about this one quite a bit, but I realized I have more than nine – deciding on the top nine was the difficult bit. 

  1. My Parents

Yes, yes, it probably sounds so clichéd, but it’s the truth.  Without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  They still chide me when I do something wrong, but are supportive of me in every way.  I sometimes think about what life will be like when they’re gone, and it breaks my heart – the time we have is so precious…

  1. My friends and Some of my Family…

 …Most of them anyway, although honestly, I love some a lot more than others. 

 I can count on a single hand the really awesome friends I have (and this is in no particular order) – there is Kerry in Jo’burg – no matter how much time goes by without us seeing each other, we are always able to pick up where we left off, and she is always there when I need to talk. 

Elisabeth is another top-notch friend – sure, there are days when she makes me so angry I’d like to throttle her, but I will never find another friend like her – she is loyal, caring, always willing to listen, and always around with a helping hand to help plan or clean up after a get-together.  I love the way she always brings me back to earth – even though the ride is sometime bumpy.  She said to me one day that I am her “honourary sister” and that made me feel so special. 

Geri & Dan in Durbs – who strangely enough are friends I met online (in a trivia chat room).  We met in person in November 2002 and just gelled so well.  They have two gorgeous kids and they are always willing to open their home to me.  They were Godsends in January when we had our car accident – the towing company wouldn’t come and get us out until we paid the money upfront – (really now, talk about unreasonable), but when I phoned Dan and Geri with the details, they didn’t hesitate to immediately transfer the cash and get us sorted.

Cousin Lara – while we live in the same town, and don’t see each other as often as we should, when we do, well, there are always tears – tears from laughing so much that our tummies ache. 

That’s not all of them, but if I have to list everyone – this will end up being a thesis-long post. 

  1. Books

I cannot function without books.  Sure, the Kindle is a great invention, but to me, there is nothing like the feel of turning a page to find out whodunit.  I have been gifted some old books over the years, and there is something magical about the smell of the yellowing pages that makes me wonder what those books had seen before they landed on my shelf.  My love of reading is something I inherited from Mom (another reason I love her… Dad on the other hand doesn’t understand why I spend a fortune on books that I am only going to read once…) 

  1. Cooking

While I am by no means a foodie like some of the blogger friends I have, I do love being in the kitchen rustling up something to eat.  Mom has a number of kitchen gadgets, which makes the exercise all the more entertaining.  I am totally in love with (her) Russell (Hobbs Bread Machine).  I have mastered a Cottage Cheese and Herb Bread and on Sunday I made a Trail Mix Wholewheat Loaf (it was almost perfect, except that all the raisins were on the outside of the loaf.  Generally I am not a bad cook (well, nobody has died from anything I’ve made), but heaven knows, I am definitely not a contender for Masterchef… 

  1. Writing

I have been blessed with a vivid imagination, a knack for telling a story, and a love of words – this combination has grown into a love of writing.  I enrolled for a novel-writing course with the South African Writers’ College.  I am loving every minute of it and I am so inspired because the feedback I have been getting from my tutor has been constructive, but always positive.  One of my dreams to be on the New York Bestseller’s List – who knows, maybe this is the beginning of realizing that dream. 

  1. Children and their Innocence

Even though I don’t have any of my own, I love children.  I love their innocence – like a friend of mine’s daughter telling the minister’s wife that she has big nose.  Her mom is cringing with embarrassment, yet the little one doesn’t realize that she has just committed a social faux pas. 

  1. A Good Red Wine

Elisabeth and I hadn’t been friends long, but she took it upon herself to turn me into a red wine drinker – and I love her for it!  There have been countless evenings when I have polished off a bottle with either her or another friend – and always felt better for it.  A spicy Shiraz on a frosty evening wards off the cold – and what’s better, the empty bottle doesn’t tell secrets… 

  1. Rainy Weekends

 Because then I don’t have to find an excuse to lay in bed all day watching DVD’s or reading a book or working on my novel.

  1. Chocolate

It doesn’t matter what shape, size, form or colour – if it is chocolate, I love it.

 

Crush ‘n Brunch

I have a new celebrity crush – Nathan Fillion…

You see, Elizabeth got me totally hooked on a TV series called Castle in which the gorgeous (or as one of his scripts says “ruggedly handsome) Mr Fillion portrays the lead role of Richard Castle, a mystery writer who ends up helping the police solve homicides, based on what he would write in his novels.  What I also enjoy is that in some episodes he plays poker with some of my favourite real-life authors, like James Patterson and Michael Connelly.  I don’t know what I am going to do when I have no more episodes to watch (eek!)

On other news – Mom and I seldom get to spend some quality time alone, so I thought I would treat her to brunch this past Saturday.

We went to a place in one of the little villages close by.  The place is called Die Ou Pastorie (translated, The Old Manse).  The house used to be home to the Dutch Reformed Minister, but is now privately owned by a local family, who live upstairs, while downstairs has been converted into a homely shop with all sorts of interesting things to buy, from homemade jams, to rusks, to secondhand clothing, to new clothing, to chunky, arty jewellery.  The place is a gem!

We sat in the garden…

 

 … where we had the creamiest cappuccinos and breakfasts with a difference.  Mom opted for vetkoek (a doughy breadroll-like South African dish) which was served with savoury mince, Marmite, cheese, homemade jam and real farm butter. 

Wanting something out of the ordinary, I ordered an African breakfast and well, it was amazing!  It consists of stiff African maize porridge, topped with two perfectly fried eggs, which are smothered in white sauce which in turn is sprinkled with beef biltong (jerky).  I loved the way it was presented – on a leopard print plate, complete with a porcupine quill to finish it off.  I also had a fresh farm roll with homemade jam. 

Onto more other news…  Work as I’m sure you have gathered, is keeping me incredibly busy.  But I’m not complaining.  In fact, I am loving my job!  I was told at my interview that stress levels can be high sometimes, particularly during month-end.  I have been through two month ends already, and I can honestly say that on my side, they have been virtually stress free (early days, I know, but still, it’s a good start).

I am anxiously awaiting the results of my 6th novel-writing assignment.  I neglected my writing for quite some time because every time that I would open a clean word processing document, the blank white page would taunt me – so much so that I couldn’t get a word typed down.  Hopefully the dry spell is over now.

Anyhow, I best get some work done – before I get caught loafing. 

See you on the flip-side!

Monday, Monday…

This time next week, I will be three quarters through the first working day at my new job.  How cool is that?!  I am looking so forward to the new challenge.  I set my alarm for 06:00 this morning and woke up without any problems 🙂

Saturday night we had a Girls’ Night at Elizabeth’s house.  Everyone had to bring something to eat and I took brownies – which had flopped.  Elizabeth, the genius that she is mashed them up into a million crumbs, whipped some cream and grated a peppermint crisp into it and voila, we had a trifle-type of tarty-dessert-thing, which tasted quite good.  There were only five of us there, but enough food to feed an army!

We played 30 Seconds and because Elizabeth and I have age on our side we nailed the young gals’ asses to the wall.  It was great fun and some of the descriptions that came out were hilarious.

 

I had a windfall at the casino yesterday!  I used the money I won to buy my essential monthly cooking mags and then some ingredients for dinner – I nominated myself as the household chef this evening.  On the menu this evening – Chicken, Mushroom, Cashews and Veges in a Creamy White Wine Sauce on Angel Hair Pasta.  Doesn’t that sound divine?  What’s even better is that there was enough money left over to settle my Truworths account!  Two down and two to go, then I can start focusing on my larger debts.  It is a great feeling knowing that I am slowly but surely making headway.

So, it looks like April is the month that good things really start happening in my life.  Now, if I could just find the perfect gift for Dad’s birthday next week, everything would be hunky-dory.

 

Kelly’s Chicken

Last night I made Kelly’s Salad Dressing Chicken for my folks.  Dad was very impressed, but Mom not so much.  She isn’t keen on chunky veges, even less when they are roasted in the oven.  It doesn’t matter though, because Dad had two helpings so there was virtually nothing left!

What I love about the recipe is that it is so easy to make and there isn’t a huge amount of washing up to do afterwards.

Apologies for the poor quality of the pic, but the steam off the food kept fogging up the lens on my phone’s camera.

For those of you who want to try it:

6 – 8 Chicken Pieces

125g Mushrooms, chunkily cut in quarters

200g – 300g of Chunk Mediterranean Roasting Veg (I buy the packet from Woolies, with the patty pans, butternut, shallots, and zucchinis)

1 Bottle of Knorr Light Salad Dressing (I used the Greek one) or other Creamy Salad Dressing (the vinaigrette one makes the dish a bit too frank)

If you have a pot that can go from stove top to the oven, then you can use it for this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.

Brown your chicken pieces in some oil.

Add the mushrooms

Add the mixed vegetables

Season to taste and pour over some olive oil

Place in oven for 15 minutes

Remove from the oven, turning the chicken

Pour over the entire bottle of salad dressing and replace in the oven for another 30 – 45 minutes, checking every 15 minutes or so to turn the chicken

Serve with rice or couscous

Easy Peasy 🙂

 

From Semi Good, to Good…

…I am truly blessed with wonderful friends – who are supportive beyond description, and who I often fail to appreciate enough.

A number of my friends sent me touching text messages after the darkness gripped my soul on Monday night – a dreadfully lonely feeling engulfed me and I did something I haven’t in years – I cried myself to sleep.  My mind was racing with all sorts of negative emotions, that it was the only outlet that I could make use of.

Last night Mom, Dad and I went to Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry’s house for dinner – fresh fish, chips and coleslaw (which I made).  It was a lovely evening, so we dined outside. When we got home, I had a chat with Jay – the issue between us has been resolved, which I am truly relieved about.  He was my shoulder to cry on last night about a number of things that have been plaguing me the past couple of days.  He listened, offered advice and asked the right questions to provoke me into thinking a bit differently.

I woke up this morning feeling like a bit of a zombie, but that is because I have started drinking my prescription sleeping meds again – just ’til I can sleep through again.  I plonked myself in front of the PC to check my mail; hoping, wishing, praying that there would be something about employment there, but alas…Instead I got the results from my fifth novel-writing assignment.  I scored a whopping 95%!  With this high mark, my average is now running at 91%.  I am so proud of myself.  Now, if I could find something freelance to get my foot in the door, it would be wonderful, but I have no idea where to start.

Looks like things may be starting to look up a bit 🙂  On the upside, things could be a lot worse.  I need to learn to be thankful for the blessings bestowed upon me every day.

On a totally different subject, another blogger commented on the sign at the strawberry farm I posted earlier.  This is a sign I took a pic of – it is on the toilet door at a restaurant at a farm stall just outside the lovely town of Robertson.

‘Til later…