I can’t actually believe it’s #MoodboardMonday again already.
Let’s talk orange today. This colour has many positive associations and is perfect to get in the mood for the warmer weather (here in South Africa, anyway). I can’t wear orange, it just isn’t suited to my skin tone, but I decided that it might be a good idea to wear different shades of it on my nails. Every time I look at my hands, I feel a pang of enthusiasm and energy. I need both after the downer-week I had last week.
I’ve lost count; I think it’s day 76 of the lockdown, or as I’ve come to realize, the new normal. It’s been challenging, but slowly I am beginning to get used to it. I’ve pretty much given up wearing my specs when I go out because they constantly fog up when I wear my mask.
My cooking skills continue to improve. I made an amazing Thai green chicken curry a while back which was beyond delicious. As I become more confident, I will experiment with spice mixtures myself, rather than the readymade ones. The Amish apple loaf is something I can make with my eyes closed and it is an absolute hit.
I also tried my hand at making a vegan tropical rice pudding. Oh my word! It was so delicious, I at the entire pot all by myself.
Tomorrow I plan to make chicken a’la king and somewhere in between then and Monday, I want to try a Jamaican banana bread. Yes, I’m finally climbing on the bandwagon. I also want to try making pizza dough in the breadmaker.
Staying in the kitchen, I finally used my juicer. I made an amazing mix of beetroot, cucumber, apple, pineapple, and orange juice. I stored it in a Douw Egberts coffee bottle, but it didn’t last. I drank it all. I felt spritely afterwards. My body must not have known what hit it – such freshness! I made some for Elizabeth and when II went into work, I took some for Carla and Rowena too. Carla is quite keen to try anything that comes out of my kitchen. I feel bad for all the pulp that goes to waste, but I will freeze it next time and use it in waffles, soup, cakes, or even try to make vegetarian patties of some sort.
On June 1st, the ban on alcohol was lifted. People queued for hours to get booze. I waited until Tuesday, went to Woolies and bought a bottle of Diemersfontein Chocolate Shiraz there. In and out in under ten minutes. Elizabeth and I drank it on Friday night while sitting a great social distance apart from each other.
There are rumours doing the rounds that some MEC’s are requesting a reinstatement of the ban because abuse cases are on the rise, as are accidents. Just last week, someone posted on a local Facebook group that a visibly drunk man knocked her son over – this while the inebriated prat had three children in his own vehicle. Apparently, he was let go, because under COVID-19 regulations, he couldn’t be breathalyzed. The question begs, why wasn’t he detained and taken to hospital to have his blood drawn? What if the child he hit had sustained serious injuries? The mind boggles…
On the subject of blood, I went to donate a pint yesterday. It’s been over a decade since I last made a donation. Turns out my details were still on record after the extended hiatus, and yesterday was a milestone donation: number 25. I got a nifty picnic blanket to mark the occasion. My hope is that when a modicum of normality returns to life, I can convince our management to host a clinic once every two months. I broached the subject in March, but then lockdown happened.
Last Wednesday, Lily-Rose celebrated her crown birthday. I could unfortunately not spend the day with her, her parents and her Nanna because I had work but took a drive out to the farm on Saturday. The great thing about the farm is the wide-open spaces, so visiting with social distancing in place is easy.
They have a few orphaned lambs that are bottle-fed which is always a highlight to me. I can confirm that Ba-Ba Black Sheep is indeed real. And he is a glutton for milk. If I didn’t have a tight grip on the bottle, he would have pulled the teat clean off.
I also got better acquainted with the chickens.
One thing I love about going to the farm is t a drive down to the river. The reflections on the water are always magnicient.
Rachel the Rocket continues to grow, giving me hope that I might be able to cultivate other edible indoor plants after all. I don’t have the right set-up at The Cave to grow plants outside, and with the way the wind has been destroying things of late, even if I could, I wouldn’t.
Tonight, a ridiculous wind storm is expected, bringing with it a cold front and freezing temperatures. I fortunately still have some Cape Ruby Port left from last year, and The Bean gave me a pair of warm slippers to wear, on the proviso that I buy her another pair that simply slips on.
The one thing I do enjoy about the winter is the sunsets (I just hate that the sun is down by 17:30 already).
Work continues at a reasonable pace. The lockdown has changed many things and there is a ripple effect as a result. It can be extremely frustrating at times, but I’m still fortunate to have a job, and even more so, to still be able to work remotely. On cold days, I’m extra grateful because I can work while sitting under a blanket, with an unlimited supply of coffee.
That’s all for now. I promise my next post won’t be weeks away.
Until next time, stay safe and keep warm! And remember:
Today is day 20 of the lockdown. Like the featured image of this post, it feels as though time moves at a snail’s pace of late. I have slowed down. As I sit typing this post, I can hear the waves crashing in the distance, and the occasional cheep of a wagtail. The local hotel’s resident ducks are also meandering around the neighbourhood by the sounds of things. All these sounds have just been drowned out by an aircraft that is audibly flying very low.
Refusing to put the light on because I didn’t want to be alert enough not to be able to resume the glorious slumber I had been enjoying before, I stumbled to the bathroom to well, expel the demon was causing the stomach cramps that had awoken me. Muttering to myself about the wee hours of a Wednesday morning being a crap time for a bowel movement. I heard a kind of scratchy sound, which I attributed to my medication not being completely absorbed into my system.
My friend, Yolandi Claassens, writes Afrikaans motivational, Christian-based stuff drawing from her own testimonies. She has published one anthology already, entitled Padlangs (translation in context of her writing: The Journey), which started as a blog and Facebook page (much like Reflections of a Misfit). Padlangs and it as well as her second manuscript, Padkos (translation in context of her writing: Soul Food) are currently being edited by a different publishing house for publication later this year.
The story of why she changed publishers is outlined in this book I purchased from her today. It is entitled #EkOok (#MeToo), a collection of stories written by various South African women from all walks of life who share their stories of hope after disappointment and rising after defeat.
Obviously if I only bought the book today, I haven’t done much in the line of reading. I jumped to Yolandi’s story, where she had penned the message “Jeremiah 29:11 – make it yours”. I then happened upon another story about a woman who found out about her husband’s infidelity when she received a text intended for his mistress. She fell pregnant and came to after the birth, only to discover her husband and his mistress in her hospital ward. But that’s not all, he went on to tell her that due to her disobedience, he would not be tending to her-, nor the baby’s needs. If she wanted anything, she would have to ask his mistress. If your jaws haven’t all dropped in disbelief, then I’d like to know what is wrong with you?! The writer goes on to say that she has moved on, forgiving her (which I gather must be her now ex-) husband, in order for her to be able to live her life to the fullest.
From my own experience, I know forgiveness is hard. Especially when you did nothing but care for someone who betrayed your heart so badly, you would rather have died than go on. But (there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) forgiveness does enable one to move past the hurt, resentment and anger – eventually. Also, drawing from my own life, forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to let them back into your life when they have (apparently) seen the error of their ways. I wrote, well ranted, about such an instance here.
Both Yolandi, and the other lady’s story have one thing in common: We are not always in control of what happens to us, but (this is a good ‘but’) we do command the power of how we react. As someone who needs medication to keep Darkness at bay, I do know that I can either decide to let It envelope me, or I can take a rest and give myself time to regain perspective. That is where my authority lies – in knowing that I need to heed the warnings and that having a boundary of I’m not able to (insert whatever seemingly normal activity may become overwhelming at times) is not a weakness. I can choose to do what I need to do to remain strong.
There are seventy-one stories in #EkOok and my intention is to read at least three a day, because there are stories in it that remind me that no matter how hard things seem for me, there are women that have faced worse and reached a point in their life where they can share their story – that’s true healing, right there. There are times when I feel unworthy or unloved and there, on the crisp pages of this book, ink dances to remind me that I am enough!
As I mentioned here, Carmen once told me “you either have a heart for Africa or you don’t”.
During my trip I did two sunrise cruises at the Old Drift Lodge, and both were spectacular. The boat sets sail from the jetty shortly after 05:30 AM, but dawn breaks much earlier, meaning me getting up at 04:30 AM to catch the first light, which changes from dark shades of blue to warm oranges and then fiery red, with a touch of purple. If I hadn’t had a heart for Africa before, I would have after seeing the magnificent sunrises.
I cannot put into words the feeling that being on the water as the sun begins to rise brings. The water is so calm, a mirror of only beautiful reflections and yet there is an underlying excitement within which surfaces when a pod of hippos does the same, although I did get a huge fright one morning while taking photos (from above, on the jetty) when a hippo decided to make his presence known to me, but the river was so calm, even his reflection was captured on camera.
Both morning cruises, Fanwell was the guide. He is friendly, well-versed with the birdlife and game along the river, and he is a good boat Captain to boot.
The first cruise I shared with a South African couple, Marko and Maryke, from Pretoria, both keen bird watchers. As we sailed up and down the river, we saw many birds, many of which were firsts for the pair.
I recall great excitement and joy when they saw a Lesser Jacana, and a bird with bright reddish orange feet (and beak) which name I can’t remember, but Marko told me that what I was seeing was something truly special.
We saw Maribou Storks nesting in the high treetops, and an array of other water birds, including a Black Heron, which Maryke explained to me, spreads its wings to form an ‘umbrella shadow’. The little fish swim towards the shade and before they know it, breakfast is served and they’re it!
There are also many Water Berry trees on the banks of the river. Their roots are exposed during the drier months, but when the rain comes and the river rises, their roots are covered entirely and the don’t drown. How incredible is that?
My last morning at the lodge, I went out on a solo trip with Fanwell and again we saw much birdlife. I was so lost in the serenity of it all, at peace for the first time in as long as I can remember, that I almost forgot to take photos.
It was only when a lone hippo (not the same one from the jetty) stepped out of the shallows that I grabbed my phone to snap a picture of it.
We saw a few crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, with some white billed ducks keeping a close eye from what I don’t think was a safe enough distance. To me, crocodiles always look dead, but I’ve seen how quickly they can move. They are reptiles not to be trifled with.
We heard the call of an African Fish Eagle, and while we spotted him with the help of binoculars, I couldn’t get close enough to get a picture. I was a little sad about that because again, The Toppie and The Bean would have loved to see it. I did get to see a Water Buck drinking on the banks, which was a super consolation prize.
The Zambezi is known as mighty, and it is. But for me, it is a soul-restorer too.
Trains are in my blood. My maternal grandfather worked for the South African Railways all his life, and The Toppie started out his career as a steam locomotive stoker. When we were still living in Johannesburg, I caught the train from Park Station to Doornfontein to attend school and back again every day for four years, before we left to come and live at the coast.
When I saw that there was a dinner experience on a steam train at Victoria Falls, I was like, Shut up and take my money! The train only runs twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and booking is essential.
The Bushtracks Express boards at the beautiful Victoria Falls Station, a stone-throw from the legendary Victoria Falls Hotel. It was the first hotel built in the village and is known to the locals as The Grand Old Dame.
While waiting on the platform there was a gentleman playing the saxophone. When he did a Satchmo number, I shed a few tears, because in that moment I thought about The Toppie, and how he and The Bean would have loved to have experienced this.
The train chugged into the station with a familiar toot-toot. While waiting to be checked-in (which was a quick process handled efficiently), passengers enjoyed cocktails on the platform before boarding the luxurious coach for its destination: The Victoria Falls Bridge, where guests could disembark, purchase souvenirs from the vendors, take photos of the sunset, and even get into the drivers’ seat for some photos.
I opted to sit at the rear of the train, on the balcony, hoping for some reprieve from the heat. The train manager, Tulani introduced himself and shared some history about the railway line; Cecil John Rhodes envisioned a railway from Cape Town to Cairo, but unfortunately the line ends in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Prince and Melinda, two local celebrities provided the entertainment, filling the air with both local- and international songs.
The food provided on the excursion is of the finger-variety, beginning with simple snacks like peanuts and dried figs, progressing to canapés of seeded crackers with hummus and guacamole, to goat’s cheese and salmon, to other savoury treats so delicious I gobbled them up before taking a picture (#facepalm) and the perfect dessert to round the evening off. Drinks are included in the fare paid for the trip.
Before the train comes to a stop on The Victoria Falls Bridge, it makes a short stop at the hydro-electric power station, where Tulani shared some interesting information.
The stop on the Victoria Falls Bridge lasted about 45 minutes, which was more than enough time to purchase souvenirs, take photos and drink in the sunset, while listening to thunder in the distance, and seeing the occasional strike of lightning. I was even fortunate enough to sit in the cab, and make the train toot-toot myself (and I made sure I did it good and proper, but the video clip I have is too large to share on my blog).
The ride back to the station was a bit more jovial. (A few drinks will do that to you!) Passengers joined Prince and Melinda in song, and some danced. Tulani even grabbed me for a few twirls, which I found very sweet.
There are many benefits to solo travel, but moments like that are when one misses having someone to share the fun with.
As we slowly re-entered the station to the synonymous na-na-na-na-na-na of Hey Jude there were cheers of “one more song!” which were heard, and we all joined in to pata-pata for one last time.
I left that station with a full tummy, a happy heart and the coolness of the first raindrops on my face.
What a memorable excursion it turned out to be – the first of many during my visit to Victoria Falls, in fact.
I am at the point again that when the phone rings and someone asks, “What are your plans?” I just want to hide. Partly because I’m a little emotional, but mostly because of The Big Freeze that seems to have taken hold of the Sleepy Hollow Town I reside in; I’d much rather stay holed up in The Cave under my duvet with a book, or a movie. Elizabeth was having none of it when she called with this very question on Friday last week. She had been roped into helping a friend’s daughter (a young high-school learner doing photography as a subject) with her project on Saturday. She’d also kind of already told her friend I’d be more than willing to help too.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was reluctant to get out of bed. It was cold. And I was out of milk. Not a good start to my day. Anyhow, I did the no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up thing and went to Elizabeth’s house. I’d arranged for a friend, Joy, to do our make-up. Hell, if I was going to have to be in front of the camera, I didn’t want to look like a washed-out ghost from the 1920’s. Joy was quite excited to hear that the shoot was Gatsby-themed, because she has always thought of me as “the perfect Gatsby girl”.
My confidence boosted, and my lashes ab-so-lutely gor-geous, Dahling, Elizabeth and I set off the the venue, Deja Vu Vintage House, where we dressed up in real vintage clothes from the era, right down to pearls, feather boas and cigarette holders. Once I was all flapped out in my purple frock, it was as if I underwent a complete personality change. My inner Gatsby-girl took over and I ended up having so. much. fun.
Elizabeth, the two other ‘models’ and I laughed till our stomachs ached as we waved to random strangers driving past. The student taking the photos also had quite a few giggles at our antics. I’m sure the photos are going to be a-ma-zing!
Elizabeth’s elder sister, Olive, had made a delectable curry and rice to ward off Jack Frost’s spell. I love Indian food, so it was a given that I would stay for dinner. With a full tummy and a happy heart, I went back to The Cave and slept incredibly well.
Sunday I met up with Charlie at his place where we had a bite to eat, and I showed him how to make a killer fridge tart with 4 ingredients. I’m a firm believer in few-ingredient cooking, because I deteest pantry shopping almost as much as I hate doing the dishes.
Afterwards we watched two episodes of Elementary followed by a movie called called The Book of Eli.
One scene (of an attempted rape) triggered a minor anxiety attack in me. I’ve become increasingly aware that my friends and some family don’t understand my condition, and as a result, don’t know what to expect, nor how to react around me. The reading I’ve done on high-functioning depression states that sufferers become ninja-level-experts at hiding things. I surreptitiously (I hope!) popped a chill-pill and curled back on my comfy kick-out chair, snuggled under a blanket. Barring the upsetting scene, the movie is quite brilliant; with Denzel Washington in the lead, and Gary Oldman as supporting actor, how could it not be?
I will admit, I was feeling drained on Monday, and yesterday still, but today I’m feeling on the up-and-up again. I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I’m not feeling sprightly, but to continue with one-baby-step-at-a-time. I’m staying with Eliza and Nathan tonight, and I’m cooking (something I love, but don’t do much of at home, because the stove in The Cave is cursed – every time I cook on it for guests, it cremates the contents of the oven, making them a burnt offering!) On the menu tonight is (you guessed it), a few-ingredient, creamy seafood marinara pasta.
Catch y’all on the flipside! Have a Wonderful Wednesday 🙂