Inspiration to Travel Down Memory Lane

Last night I was reading The Brain Bleacher, the final short story in the second Sticky Fingers anthology by JT Lawrence, with whom I was at school with for a short time before moving to Mossel Bay.

I was chatting with Charlie after I’d finished the book, and said to him that one day I will write like that – as in short stories, because while I know I have a writing gift, I do not possess the mad skills to weave a tale in a limited amount of words that grabs you from the word go.  JTL just has it.

One quote in the story above really resonated with me: “While a memory is a mental snapshot of a moment, it carries with it layers of emotion and texture and scent.

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It reminded me of quite a few mental snapshots and something my colleague, Carla and I discussed when we spent a girls’ night away at a local lodge about three years ago one November weekend.  She said when she looks back in time,  she doesn’t necessary remember the things that were around her at a time, but she does remember the smell of the air, or the warmth of the sun on her skin, or the song in the breeze; most importantly she remembers how she felt in that moment. Thinking about that outing, I remember being stretched out on a long wooden deck chair, with a book listening to the trickle of the stream nearby.  While I don’t remember the title of the book, I remember the feel of the parchment between my fingers and the smell of the ink.  I remember feeling completely content, even if only for a few fleeting moments.

Another memory that popped into my mind was our visits to Mossel Bay when I was a child.  The Bean and I would catch the train from Johannesburg and travel to visit my matriarchal grandparents and all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  The one olfactory memory I have of these journeys is pulling into the station and smelling the oceanic saltiness in the air – a world removed from the Johannesburg smog that enveloped us during our time in that concrete jungle.  I remember loving the feel of the sea sand between my toes and being bribed out of the freezing cold water with what was probably an even colder ice-cream cone.

I recalled other memories too – and with focus on the emotions, texture and scent, I was transported back to those moments in time, and it felt as if I was there again.

In one, I felt the gooseflesh rise at the receipt of a gentle touch in a tender moment, even though my heart was racing with uncertainty and angst and flaming desire at the same time.

In another, I felt the dread and horrific realization induced by the smell of burnt chicken (I won’t live it down either, I promise!)

In another I was warmed by the soft heat of a gas heater with the fairy-tale lights of a Cape Town Waterfront Christmas display to illuminate my friend, Andrew’s face as we caught up five years’ worth of news over a chocolate-berry-spiced red wine and lekker South African fare.  I also remember the indigestion that followed shortly after seeing the bill.

In another I remember sitting against the trunk of a tree, after a particularly trying parkrun.  My hair was plastered to my forehead with glue-au-de-perspiration and my breathing was laboured, so much so I’m sure I could have given The Big Bad Wolf a run for his money (bacon, anyone?). A woman approached me asking about Herbalife (yes, I was branded for the walk – not my finest advertising moment) and we got chatting.  Eighteen months later, that woman, Harriet, is one of my closest friends.  I haven’t been able to do our routed parkrun since though because of my bum knee.

I could reminisce like this for hours, and I think each day I shall get in my time machine and take myself back to at least one happy (or funny) memory – where I can relieve the sensation, feel the grain, and inhale the fragrance of times gone by.  And sure, sometimes it’s necessary to revisit the sad and bad memories, to remind oneself how far you’ve come, but for the most part, I want to simply revisit the happy times, filled with laughter, hope, friendship, family and most importantly the love that surrounds all those things.

So, here’s to joyous recollections, all inspired by a single line, from an incredible book.

Cheers to you JTL!  I aspire to be an author like you.  You are a creative genius and an absolute legend.

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Desiderata: A Memory

It’s funny how some things are stored in one’s memory bank without your even knowing. Many years ago, I was at an all girls’ school in the town of Potchefstroom, in the North-West Province of South Africa. In the beginning I hated it, but once I’d made friends, I grew to love it. Some of my fondest memories were made in those grounds and some of the friendships forged, still live on today. Had I been able to make a decision on my high school career, I would have opted to stay in boarding school until my final year.

During my time there, I had many friends, but three in particular really touched my heart, Remy, Kendra and Astrid. The four of us were almost inseparable – the proverbial awesome foursome, if you will.  A quarter of a century down the line and we’re all still in touch, thanks to the wonder of social media. Add siblings to this mix, and you have a whatsapp group called Twisted Sisters.

Remy’s mom in particular, Aunty Ang, was always open to having her children’s friends over for sleepovers on weekends or for sarmies after school. I remember Aunty Ang with great fondness. She had the gentlest blue eyes and a soft voice that could calm even the testiest teenager. My last visit with her, in the late ‘90’s she whupped my ass at Scrabble numerous times.  Sadly, she contracted cancer and lost her battle with the awful disease.

During our visits to Remy’s house, Aunty Ang would always sit in her chair in the living room and behind it hung Desiderata, printed on a black velvet-like material, with rose-gold-coloured lettering.  I never took the time to actually read it, but when it came up in my FB newsfeed today, I thought I should share the memory and the poem, (which I discovered was written by Max Ehrmann, in 1952) itself with you, because it contains some great life advice.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

As I write this post and read these wise words, I am grateful for the privilege of having known Aunty Ang, if only for a short time, and for the memories I have of her and the friendships I have with Remy, and by default, her siblings, Carin and Shelley.

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!

 

 

The Big Things in Life are Often Inexpensive…

…Yet leave us with a wealth of contentment.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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That Peace…

…that Peace that Paul wrote to the Phillipians about…I received it!

Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

A great deal of things happened this weekend…Roosterkoeks the size of tablets, coffee at Steve’s folks on their farm, a touch of the mysterious at Sulina’s Faerie Sanctuary, an ice-cold something at the Dros in Roberton, a wors-braai on Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, a walk from Three Anchor Bay to Sea Point and back, photos at Signal Hill, a stop at the Lindt shop, a pop in at that Waterfront, rugby in a box at Newlands, watching the lights from Ou Kaapse Weg, a drive over Chapman’s Peak, via Hout Bay and Camp’s Bay, feeding the squirrels and pigeons in the Company Gardens…but that is not what I want to share today… despite all these wonderful memories, one moment, a few fleeting seconds actually, is what I will probably carry closest to my heart for a long while still.

This past Sunday, whilst on a weekend away to Cape Town with Steve and Elizabeth, I experienced a fleeting few moments of that God’s Peace that surpasses all understanding.

On a whim, we jumped in the car at 06:25 to find a good spot to check out the sunrise…knowing that the best sunsets are seen from the southern side of Cape Town, I took the two “tourists” up the scenic Boye’s Drive then into Fishoek where we decided to take a walk on the beach. I was dressed in my skinny jeans and the shirt I’d slept in (we weren’t initially planning to be getting out where people would see us) and no shoes. While Steve and Elizabeth took photos I rolled up my jeans (with no real success) and put my feet in the water. Before I knew it I was thigh deep and after a quick conference with Elizabeth regarding the use of her jersey, I walked right back into the water and it happened…just before I dived under the waves, there was complete silence around me.

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I could have dived under the waves and not resurfaced. It wouldn’t have mattered because…I. was. at. Peace.

I can’t qualify my experience with words, be they spoken or written. All I can say is that in that fleeting five to eight seconds, nothing in my life mattered, except me and my Father in Heaven. He touched me in a supernatural way – I have been teary ever since, but I know that tears bring healing, so I am letting them flow. God is working in me, making changes for the better. So, even as I am not sure what lies ahead, I know that I can walk in faith, because I am filled with peace.