Gut Feelings…

A mere two weeks ago, I blogged about this very topic. If you want to read that post, it can be found here.

Premonitions.

Forebodings.

Warnings.

Omens.

Signs.

Call them what you like, they’re never good. There is always something dark attached to these feelings of impending dread.

This morning my mom phoned me on my direct office line, with a simple question: “Are you at work with your own car, or did you travel with Nikita.”

“Nikita, why?”

“It’s just a question.”

“No Bean, it’s not just a question. You wouldn’t be asking without some sort of reason.”

She proceeded to tell me that for the past two days she’s seen shadowy figures passing by her bedroom window, or door. I’ve seen one before too, shortly before Malcolm died, so I don’t merely want to dismiss her feelings, because I believe they hold some merit.

I’ve done a lot of reading about Shadow People, which as defined by Wikipedia are:

“A shadow person is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity.”

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They generally are associated with sleep paralysis. The night I saw mine, I woke up to see the figure at the foot of my bed. I was terrified, but it merely put a finger to its lips and I heard ssshhhh and it walked through the door. Gone. Disappeared into thin air. I knew something was wrong and mentioned it to my parents as I had a sick aunt at the time. It never crossed my mind that Malcolm might be coming to say goodbye.

The Bean sees them when she’s awake, and her sense of them extends beyond merely seeing them.
This morning, after her daily quiet time, she felt anxious about me and got a strong smell of my perfume.

“I’m so worried for me, Chickpea.”

“Don’t worry, Bean. I’m fine. My car is at home.”

“Okay, just tell Nikita to drive safely. Please. Promise me.”

The distress in her voice was tangible.

“I will. Promise.”

As much as I tried to downplay it and reassure her that everything is fine, because it is, it does have me wondering…

I told Nikita and the poor woman is now as high-strung as a faulty Jack-in-the-Box.

We’re taking it seriously though. I will let my mom know when I am home.

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Looking Back on 2017…

It’s that time of the year, when I look back reflectively on the year past, and with excitement and expectation for the one that lies ahead.

2017 was a tough year.  As an individual I was tested, as a couple my parents were tested, and as a family, you guessed it, we were tested.  Yet, here we are on the first day January, with hope and courage in our hearts, and the faithful belief that things will be better this time round.  It was also the year that I bid goodbye to seven pairs of shoes, six pairs of which broke at the office.  Pair seven broke as I got out the car for my year-end-work-function. As I look back though, as tough as it was, it was a good year, all in all.

January started off slowly, but I did do one parkrun; the only one for the entire year.  It was a destined one though, because it was there that I met Heather, with whom I have become quite close.  We “get” each other, like uMeredith and Christina do.  We’re both book sluts and Dischem whores, who love drinking wine out of enamel mugs at Kaai 4, or eating fish and chips out of polystyrene containers on top of the iconic red London bus at the harbour.  In a short twelve months, she’s joined the ranks of “heart sister”.

In February I was faced with a bit of a surprise.  The institution through which I studied years ago let me know that if I didn’t complete the final subject of my tertiary year by the end of 2017, I would lose all the credits for that period.  I took the leap, borrowed the money and, at the tender age of thirty-seven, hit the books again.  It was an experience to say the least, because I struggled with self-discipline.  Honestly, had it been anything to do with writing I would have approached it with more enthusiasm.  It was also the month I met Charlie, in passing, at Heather’s birthday party, blissfully unaware that by the end of the year he too, would be someone genuinely important in my circle.

The Toppie, Bean and I also went on a bit of a safari adventure, arranged by Tina and some of her friends.  It was such a special time for us as a family, where memories were made.

March marched right by.  I’ve gone through my photos and I can’t find anything blog-worthy that happened that month.

In April, shortly after The Toppie’s 70th birthday celebration, my parents bid their home goodbye, and moved to a much smaller place, in an industrial area outside of town.  It was gut-wrenching to have to watch them sell off their possessions to be able to make ends meet, but through the hardship, they’ve learned that they didn’t need all that stuff – they’ve got each other.  It broke my heart when The Bean lost her precious cockatiel, Marley, shortly after.

That same month, a tiny pipe in my bathroom broke, resulting in a flood right through my flat.  For three months I couldn’t live there, but thanks to friends and an amazing colleague and his wife, I had a roof over my head the entire time.  If I’m honest, I kind of became attached to my transit-home, which was a garden cottage in said colleague’s back garden.  The fact that their beautiful Labrador would visit had nothing to do with it.

May was a cold month, so most of the studying I did for exams took place under the duvet, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.  I also spent a great deal of time reading for leisure in the evenings.  I discovered the literary genius of Afrikaans author, Deon Meyer and have since read two of his books, Koors and Spoor.

One of my best friends, Wolf also lost his mom, 19 days after having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 😦

June brought with it the birth of Shayla-Rae’s first child (and my goddaughter), Lily-Rose.  She was the most perfect little person I had ever seen.

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Here the precious little mite was not even a full day old yet.

My heart swelled with pride, not only because I was now a god-mommy, but for my childhood best friend, who pushed that perfect little person out of her vajajay.

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Now she’s almost seven months…

I won’t use the exact phrase she did to describe the process of child birth; needless to say, it was colourful.

June also brought with it exams, that, no matter how much I had studied, I still didn’t feel prepared for.  I dragged Tina with me to Cape Town, because she needed a break from the drama with her ex, and because I didn’t fancy being in the Mother City without decent company.  It was during that visit that I had the best Durban curry of my life – yes, in Cape Town.  It didn’t bode well for my exams the next day because it played havoc with my stomach.  I wrote what felt like a million words on the answer sheets provided and when I left, after not having completed the final question, I thought I think I’ve done enough to pass.  I took Tina up Signal Hill where we nearly blew away (Did someone say Cape Doctor?) and then we went to the Company Gardens to feed the squirrels.  The little critters are quite brazen when they know you’re hiding peanuts.

July was a good month.  I got to move back home, to newly installed floors and the luxury of a bath.  While I love my morning shower, sometimes all that cures the ails of a long day at the office in the middle of winter, is a hot, candlelit bubble bath.

I also got to visit Shalya-Rae, Shane and little Lily-Rose for a few days in the beautiful Tsitsikamma.  I really wanted to do the hike to the suspension bridge across the sea and Shayla-Rae indulged me, carrying a sleepy Lily the entire way in the car chair.  It was up countless stairs, and down through steep valleys.  The view, and the feeling of absolute freedom was amazing.  Granted we were windswept and a bit cold afterwards, but it was worth every leg-stiffening step.  It’s something I will definitely do again.

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The view from the end of the bridge – breathtaking!
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Windswept #Selfie
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The bridge is older than I am.

Charlie also came home for a holiday and we spent some time together, in an attempt to get to know each other better.  While he hasn’t managed to convert me to a KFC fan (yet), I think I did well to make him a Sherlockian.  He went back to work in August and his imminent return in January 2018 is something I’m looking forward to.

In August I got my exam results.  Thankfully I’d passed.  With distinction!  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the results.  Over eighty percent.  I still don’t know how I managed the excellent mark; I can only think that there were many prayers going up at the time on my behalf.

September.  The month of my birthday …Usually I have some kind of shindig to celebrate, but this year, I opted for something a little more low-key.  Jensen, a family friend of over twenty-five years, came to visit and took me out for pizza and wine at a new place in town.  It was a great catch-up.  First Sighting Shiraz is a wine I most certainly need in my collection.

Carmen and Ewan also welcomed their second child into the world.  World, meet little Roger!

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World, I love bathtime!

In October, little Liam, Eliza and Neil’s second child celebrated his first birthday.  I have a special tie with him; he’s my “bonding-baby” – the first child I every held that wasn’t even a month old yet, and I believe that he prepared me for Lily-Rose.  In the imaginary world I sometimes live in, I imagine the two of them getting married one day.

It was also the first time I got hypnotised.  Theresa came to visit and I convinced her to tag along with me to a hypnosis entertainment show.  I’ve always wondered about going under but didn’t for a minute think I would be on stage.  For over an hour!  Theresa was awesome, filming all my shenanigans on her phone.  I looked like I had tremendous fun and without a doubt, I will do it again.  I woke up the next morning stiff as a board, but after watching the clips, I understand why – I was really active on stage, from being a dinosaur, to a washing machine, to a goldfish, to a rapper, to a lifeguard and then some.

Now, there are few things as daunting as having a man who you’re not having sex with inspect your lady-bits, but in November I trotted off to the surgery.  I’d been putting off the gynae visit for months, but due to exacerbating problems around Aunt Flo’s visit every month, I was left no choice but to face the Fanny Flapper and his dreaded (to coin a phrase by a good writer friend of mine) dildo cam.  It should be mentioned at this juncture that the past two times I’ve seen him, it has been for emergency procedures, so when he greeted me with, “It’s so lovely to see you here, in my office, instead of the operating theatre,” I couldn’t help but smile.  After likening my cycle to that of pig slaughter, it was decided that a deeper look would be crucial to get to the core of the problem.  Oh yay, off I go to the hospital.  Again.  What I wasn’t expecting was that it would be for two procedures.  I’d had the first, a laparoscopy, before so I knew what to expect.  The second, a hysteroscopy, I was a bit worried about because it sounded a bit scary.  Turns out there was reason for concern:  The monthly vampire bloodfest seeping from my uterus was due to a teratoma (the same thing the first laparoscopy had been done for to remove).  The odd thing was it wasn’t on my ovary, where the little bastards normally cling on, it was between my intestine and my stomach lining.  It had all kinds of different human tissue, which I of course find fascinating; most people find it gross.  The doctor said they do tend to grow back, but in this particular case, this might be the remnants of the original alien that the first doctor didn’t get entirely removed.  Thankfully, I am feeling a great deal better.  The night-dwelling-day-sleeping-bloodsuckers are probably really pissed off with me about it though.

December.  By definition: Hectic.  It is par for the course when one lives in a seaside-resort-holiday-town.  With only three weeks available to do what felt like three months’ worth of work, tempers were clearly frayed and the prospect of a holiday was all that kept me from committing murder.   Fortunately, before that happened, our bosses were awesome and gave us a delicious year end dinner, which gave me a reason to dress up.

I originally wore a pair of killer silver heels, but both shoes broke as I got out the car.

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I originally had a pair of killer silver heels on, but both shoes broke as I got out of the car.

Little Lily­-Rose was christened in the Dutch Reformed Church a stone-throw away from a one-horse-town called Kareedouw.  It wasn’t without its own hysterics.  Shayla-Rae’s mum put her button-up dress over her satin slip (which was keeping her warm).  As we stood up to sing the first hymn, her pretty, pink pyjamas landed in a crumpled heap at her feet.  I of course was the only one who saw it, and trying not to laugh, only made me want to laugh more.  It may not sound funny to those of you reading this, but to me it was hysterical.

It was also my twenty-year school reunion, which I didn’t attend due to other commitments.  From the photos it looks like much fun was had.  One pleasant surprise was seeing Nola and her husband Connor, who decided to surprise my parents and I with a visit.  She was also a best friend at school and boarded with us in our final year.  Our paths don’t cross often anymore, because she lives in a different city, and has Connor and two beautiful boys to look after, but she has never forgotten my-, or my parents’ birthdays.  I on the other hand am an epic failure at remembering hers.

It was also the month I realized what my biggest fear is.  After having written that post, and some of the responses I received, a few things have more perspective for me now, for which I’m grateful.

Christmas was not a lavish affair for which my jeans still thank me.  We had a small braai with Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry and vetkoek.  For those of you not familiar with the term, it is bread dough that is deep friend which can be enjoyed with a selection of savoury spreads or sweet preserves.

Shortly after, my former roommate, Sarah, and her fiancé, Sam, came to visit.  She is also someone I refer to as a “heart sister” and she is the youngest one of them all.  I am her “big (but thin) sister”.  We had plans for a day of catching up in the summer sunshine, but not before this:

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I said, “Yes!!!!!!”

They’re getting hitched in November next year, so I already have something to look forward to in 2018.  You see, I’ve never been a bridesmaid before.

And then, to almost end of 2017, Shayla-Rae and her other half, Shane took me to an open air concert, where there were 12000 people.  It may not sound like many, but in the sleepy hollow town where I live, that is probably the entire population out of season.  It was the most fun I’ve had in a long while.  The R150 Shane paid for six beers though, left a bitter taste in his mouth – it was R10 short of what they’d paid for one (golden circle) ticket.

I’m off to spend the last night of the year with Shayla-Rae and her family at the farm.

See y’all next year!  2018 is going to ROCK!

 

 

Butterfly Kisses

I’ve tried my hand at many creative things.  Fabric painting, cross-stitch embroidery, colouring-in, and quite recently mosaic.  I didn’t attend a class, or anything like that; I just winged it.  The store that sells kits close to where I stay has a limited selection, so I opted for a butterfly, not sure what I was going to do with the end-product.  I found out from my friend, Alice, earlier this week that a butterfly signifies metamorphosis in some circles.

Intent on starting the project to keep myself busy while cat-sitting for my colleague, Nicola, I ended up binge watching Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, with the cats chilling on the couch next to me instead.  Then a little disaster struck (well, if I’m honest, it’s been a long-time coming) and I had to flit off to hospital for two small (although very invasive) procedures, which left me with a week at home to recover.  I’d started the butterfly somewhere before that, but it lay gathering dust on the shelf because I didn’t really have an offset point for it.  I happened to mention it to another colleague, Carrey, (who was kind enough to take me to the hospital the morning of the procedures) and she asked to see the progress as I worked, because she loves handmade things, but is not arty.  At all!

I finished it earlier this week and while I was admiring it, I received a message from her and thought I’m going to give this butterfly to her for her birthday, because every year, she transforms into a more beautiful soul.  The last photo I’d sent her was of it covered in grout, so she didn’t know that I’d indeed finished it.

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She almost dropped it when she opened the box this morning, tears of overwhelming gratitude and excitement running down her cheeks.  I felt a bit of a tug at my heartstrings, because I felt like I’d accomplished more than just completing a project; I’d touched her heart in a special way.  She is filled with ideas of where to hang it, and when it’s up, I will go for coffee and see it in all its glory.

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Just goes to show – everything does happen for a reason.  On some level I must have known why I’d bought this butterfly kit, in these specific colours…

The bug’s bitten me though.  I ordered three more kits from a Facebook friend who has a mosaic-kit business.  The will be here later today!  They’re also going to be gifts.  One, a pink and white cross, for my beautiful goddaughter on her Christening which is taking place on December 8th, and the others (I’m not going to say what they are, because the friends for whom I’ve earmarked them, will immediately know what they’re getting as gifts).

 

 

Where Were You? At Nyaru!

I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.

Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious.  This is not the case with Nyaru.  The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay.  Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people.  But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.

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When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation.  I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration.  The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren.  Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.

The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower.  All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only.  The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve.  If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.

We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units.  Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.

While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings.  The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps.  The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.

Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).

I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules.  I had enough of that in boarding school!  The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.

There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience.  We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.

Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair.  Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us.  Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us.  It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you.  There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.

The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.

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After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well.  The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people.  Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area.  The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas.  If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets.  Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.

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We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic.  The selection of food blew us away!  While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve.  A true ‘dinner with a view’.  We did have an unexpected guest too.

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Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest.  The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’.  I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations.  To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient.  The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee).  The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.

We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends.  We will definitely be back.  After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.

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Exodus 20:12 / Ephesians 6:3

I want to be obedient and receive the promise of the two verses that head this post.  Sometimes though, I look at some people and think Thank God I am not them. And then I pray, God, please don’t ever let me turn out to be like them.  I don’t want to hurt the people closest to me.

There are a few situations that I know of, and while I’m not sure where to start, I feel very strongly to voice my (what many will feel is a personal attack on them (but hey, if the shoe fits…)) opinion.

I don’t like to ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but one thing I do believe s to “Honour your Father and your Mother”.  The Greek word for honour means “to revere, prize, and value.”  I believe that this honour means all the time, until they are no longer destined for this earth – not only when you as a child live with your parents, under their instruction and teachings, or when as an adult, you deem them to be deserving of it.  We forget that as we are growing up, our parents are growing older and that they may actually need us to be around for them – to revere their wisdom, prize their presence and value (what little) time we still have with them.  I’m the first to admit that I do fail at this, and when I do, I repent and try again, because I want to live a long life.

I was chatting to a friend’s mom, Patty, the other day.  Her dad. Arthur, is in a local old-age village, because he wants to be around people his own age and he enjoys all the activities that take place at the facility.  Every Wednesday, Patty and her husband pay Arthur a visit and on the weekends, Arthur spends time with them, at their home.  It is an arrangement that suits everyone.

Patty did tell me that there are many of the elderly people at the facility whose children don’t even bother to phone their parents.  One lady in particular’s children were here on holiday for almost a month, living it up in a hip beach house – not once did they fetch their mother to have her spend a day with them.  It got me wondering just how many children conveniently forget or simply toss aside their parents, for reasons unbeknownst to me – is it because their parents are no longer employed with an income to bankroll their children out of a bind, or because their parents have become frail and may need some extra care, or as I’ve heard one person say something in the lines of “Mom, you of all people should understand that I don’t have time – my kids keep me so busy”.

Screw that!  Your parents made time for you and were there for you whenever you needed them.  They deserve, at the very least, a visit if you’re passing through their town or a phone call on a day that is not their birthday or Christmas and not for you to hit them up for money, nor to tell them about all the luxuries you’ve purchased, when you know they’re struggling to keep their heads above water.

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Remember that you can get a new car, a new house, a new job, even a new spouse, have more kids, and possibly inherit some if you remarry, but you can never, ever, replace your parents when they are no longer here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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…

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Looking Back on 2015…

And so 2015 is almost over…

 

Once again, as I pretty much do every year, I look back at the year gone by and reflect on both the good and the bad, grateful for everything that has happened because it is all those experiences that mould me into the person I am now, and will need to be to tackle the new year that lies ahead.

January I rang in the new year with some Herbalife friends.  We had a braai, and I learned to play beer-pong.  It was fun.  I got to play it with the same friends just this past Tuesday and have found that I am a very good player when standing on one leg!  January 1st also brought with it the birth of a very special, long-awaited little boy, Richard, born to Carmen and Ewan.  He is such a bundle of joy.

A week after New Year, I was fortunate enough to visit my long-time school-friend, Shayla-Rae at her home in Tsitsikamma.  She and her husband live in the forest.  I took some beautiful photos while I was there – we meandered through the forest.  It is a soul-restoring experience.
January Shelagh Rose
Shelagh Rose
Sadly, as is the case with all things fun, the visit ended too soon, but we have got to see each other numerous times throughout the year, for which I am thankful.
The same month, another school friend, Jessica, aka Wizard, celebrated her 35th birthday, Hollywood style.  The mandate was black ‘n white, with all the ladies having to don red lipstick.  It was a fun evening too, although it was the catalyst to a heartbreak, which I’m not going to get into here.  So, what do you all think?  Did I get the dress code right, or what?
An old boyfriend also got in touch, offering some sound advice, which made the heartbreak process a lot easier and quicker to deal with.  We rehashed some memories and had a few laughs.  It’s hard to believe that 15 years has passed.  He’s married now, with 2 kids, having lived in the UK, but back in SA.  What was great about getting in touch again was that the advice he gave me was from a guy’s viewpoint, but also a guy that knows me.  I look back now, after having followed the advice and realize, the heart-breaker and I would never have worked long term.  I would have got bored soon.  I always do…
Anyhow, onto February, the month of LOVE, or in my case tears and misery.  But, out of that, something really good has come.  Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.
I made a new friend called Janine.  Or rather, she made friends with me.  She contacted me to tell me how sorry she was to hear what had happened just after the party.  At first I was apprehensive about replying to her message because honestly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be friends with the the woman that had been portrayed as the reason for the dissolution of a marriage… but I learned, in just a moment, that this woman had more character than her ex-husband with whom I had been friends for almost nine months.  She has been more of a friend to me this year that some of my friends who live in the same town.  She has taught me about forgiveness, compassion, hope and I have seen that she is the polar opposite of a bad mother.  Not a week goes past without us talking and every time she has been in town to visit her parents, she has made time to catch up with me, even if it has just been for 45 minutes, over a quick coffee.  There is a mutual respect between us, even though I sometimes feel I don’t deserve hers.
Valentine’s Day  brought with it some shock as a video clip of an engagement hit FB.  The very heart-breaker had asked the cocktail waitress from Wizard’s party to marry him – a mere three weeks (yes, weeks) after knowing her.

As is custom when tears flow in our flat, my flat mate and her bestie took a red, bleary-eyed me to Eight Bells for a champagne breakfast.  We had some good laughs and I learned how to set my finger alight with alcohol and swallow the flame.  Don’t ask!  Not something I will try again in a hurry, but I wasn’t exactly in my full mind that day, given the circumstances.  Those two girls that “kidnapped” me and had me running around the car with them at red lights like a loopy teenager really made me realize that love is a gift and it was extra special because I got it when I really needed it after that devastating engagement blow.

 

March brought with it a new craze to Mossel Bay – the parkrun.  Dad and I took part with a number of our Herbalife friends.
Parrun March
I don’t remember what my time was, but it was sub-50 so I was very happy.

 I also shared in the happy occasion of my cousin Ashleigh marrying Arnold in the little town of Heidelberg, W. Cape.  Looking back I’m surprised I didn’t melt that day because it was hot as Haedes.  She was a beautiful bride, and had all her children (from her previous marriage) and grandchildren in her retinue.  It was a real family affair and they all looked so beautiful.  Arnold looked dashingly dapper in his Welsh kilt.  They make a great pair and I’m sure they are going to be incredibly happy living in Wales. It was a very intimate affair, which made it even more special.  I got to see my cousin Malcolm after a long time and we did lots of catching up.  I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed him until we actually started chatting and rehashing old times.  I am still thankful that I got to see him.  I only wish I had known it would be the last time.

I also got to meet Janine in person after a trip to Port Elizabeth with my colleague, Carolyn.  It was an interesting visit, because on the way there, Carolyn and I stopped at Tsitsikamma Falls and took a quick walk.
I twisted my ankle and by the time we got to PE I couldn’t walk.  Turns out I tore the ligaments and that put me out of gym training for much longer than the mandatory six weeks, which has snowballed into me gaining weight again 😦  Janine and I had a lovely visit with her cooking up an incredibly Banting “Paptert” for supper and us having brunch the following day at the beautiful Blue Waters Café, which co-incidentally is also owned by an old school friend of mine.
April brought with it Dad’s birthday.  Every time I see him I see that he’s aged a little, but he is still one of my biggest role models.  It also brought with it Easter, and for the first time in 35 years, no eggs *gasp*
May, like April, was a quiet month for me.  I have no photos to show for it 😦
June was a sad time for me.  I lost one of my best friends, my cousin Malcolm.  I read the tribute I wrote here in the church.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  When I got back to my seat, my dad was crying, because my voice had cracked so many times, yet I maintained my composure.  I am still grateful that I got to see him at the wedding; that we got a chance to see each other one last time before he went to live with the angels.  I am still saddened when I think about his parents, his wife and his two little children.  Even as I sit here typing this, my eyes fill with tears.  I miss him.  He was only 44.  I was once again reminded that time with the people we love is limited, so I love the ones that are in my life, and I’m grateful everyday for them.  My parents, my friends, my colleagues…without them my life would be empty. This is how I remember Malcolm – taken at Ashleigh and Arnold’s wedding, with is wife Jana and daughter Mia.
March Malcolm

June also brought about good news though when Elizabeth’s younger sisters both found out that they were expecting!

July I hibernated.  It was cold!  But not without spending time with Shayla-Rae on the farm where she grew up.  I even learned how to bottle-feed a feisty lamb.

July Lamb
August I got treated to an incredible weekend away at a local lodge with my friend Theresa
T Madi madi August
after her beau at the time (who later turned out to be a scammer) couldn’t make it to join her.  It was a weekend that I will treasure for a long time because we had fun, saw incredible sunsets
Madi Madi Sunset
shared laughs, got accosted by a tame Springbok
went wine-tasting

and one evening when we were taking photos in the reserve at sunset, we heard vegetation crunching under animal footsteps.  To this day we don’t know what it was, but it was a big animal.  Theresa still whispered, “Do you think it is a snake?”  My reply, “Very big snake then…”  Needless to say we took very tentative steps to get back to the car, silently praying that we wouldn’t come eyeball-to-eyeball with a rhino or a buffalo.

 

September…the month where I attended training by my amazing Herbalife upline which inspired me not only to start dreaming again, but to dream BIG!  I had to get refocused on my Herbalife business, as well as helping the members in my organization, because if I wasn’t working, they wouldn’t be either. And if I wanted to achieve my dreams, I had to work at making them happen.
Dream Big - september
It was also the month I turned 18, for the 18th time!  I was meant to have a get together, but woke up with a tummy bug, which put paid to the plans.  It was meant to be rainchecked, but alas, the rest of 2015 ran over me like a freight train without brakes and here we are, on the brink of 2016.  I did get to have a family dinner with my parents at one of the best restaurants in town, Route 57.

October had me realizing that It was the best month I’ve had this year, and one of my members moved up in the marketing plan, giving herself a 10% increase.  I was incredibly proud of her because she has really worked consistently at her part time business.  Sometimes I want to tell her that she motivated me to catch a wake up again.

 

November… well, to say it was busy is an understatement!  The first weekend was the annual CANSA relay for life.  I popped in but didn’t stay long seeing as with my ankle, I am not allowed to walk any kind of distance at the best of times, what’s to be said of on unlevel ground.
The following weekend I went to Cape Town to attend my very first Herbalife extravaganza.  It was an experience that I cannot describe to someone who has not been there.  The energy of 5000 people in one room, radiating positivity, wanting to change lives, is absolutely phenomenal. For the first time in years, the company’s CEO, Michael O. Johnson was on stage.  All I can say, besides that he is incredibly handsome, is that he clearly loves what he does and that he is an inspiration!  Wow!!

Extravaganza 2 NovemberExtravaganza 1 NovemberMOJExtrav

An added bonus was that I got to have dinner with my long-time friend, Allan, who at nineteen years old than I am, is often a father-figure, but with a wicked sense of humour.  The last time we saw each other was five years before, also in Cape Town, for the FIFA World Cup soccer game between The Netherlands and Cameroon.
P and ali
The following weekend was a lot more relaxed, with some friends at a local wine farm, with no cellphone reception.  I think every three months a person needs a breakaway from technology.
 The last weekend saw me celebrating my friends Aaron and Mandy as they tied the knot in an intimate ceremony after having been together for ten years already.  Looking back on 2015, November was definitely the highlight.

Remember I mentioned Elizabeth’s sisters being pregnant?  Well, December brought a dual baby shower for them and it was a huge success with LOTS of presents.  The next day I joined Eliza and Nicolas for a Potluck-and-Pollyanna early Christmas lunch which was tremendous fun. There was SO much food.  We sang Christmas carols and had a church service in the house before lunch.  It was really something so special.  The minister preached to us about taking inventory of our lives, and I guess, to a point, this is what I am doing with this post.  It was a beautiful day, blessed with sunshine and a cool breeze off the sea.

I also had to say goodbye to my friend and neighbour, Zara.  She applied for a teaching post in Pretoria and it was successful.  We had one last night of wine-drinking on her patio…a superb bottle of 2008 Rooiberg Cabernet Sauvignon.  Zara also decided that it would be the night that she would braai a fish.  Even though she had no idea what she was doing, it turned out well.

Christmas Day was spent with my parents, over a lavish lunch at Down to Earth in Herold’s Bay (the same venue where Aaron and Mandy got married).

Christmas Lunch 2 Christmas Lunch

And here I am, December 31st, 2015…trusting that 2016 will be an equally good year, in which memories will be made, lives touched and happiness pursued.  To you, my readers, may it be a memorable year for every one of you!