I must vacate The Cave by the 31st, which is still a week and some days away, but this moving in installments has me at my wits’ end, so two angels from my day job are going to come and help me pack the last ‘kaggel kakkies’, and then we’re going to hunker down and give the place a good clean. If all goes according to plan, maybe I can finalize the move by the end of the weekend – here’s hoping!
Being a sentimental person by nature, it is incredibly difficult to part with the possessions that friends have given me, but I’ve had to be ruthless in getting rid of the excess. I’ve donated clothes and some small appliances to a family that lost their home in a fire, and I’ve put a lot of stuff in the trash, and still, I have too much stuff. I am learning the lesson now, at the ripe age of forty-something, that it isn’t necessary to have five pairs of black pants or a wristwatch to match almost every outfit or two and a half dozen champagne flutes – although granted, if I do live the life I’m destined to, I will be sipping Mimosas with my besties for breakfast, lunch and supper dahling.
What. A. Year! Looking back, 2022 wasn’t a bad year – when compared with its two Covid-lockdown predecessors – but it wasn’t one that I will remember with insatiable amounts of fondness because it was a hard and often unforgiving, relentless with its onslaught of car troubles, illness, and teary goodbyes.
I should have known that things didn’t bode well when I had to get The Toppie to the doctor in January because he was too weak to even stand. He was diagnosed with an intestinal bleed, which later required hospitalization. His iron levels were very low and combined with hyperglycemia, his symptoms mimicked those of a stroke. It was a scary time for our little family, with me driving home from the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, crying into a voice note to a friend in Cape Town who was still awake to offer words of wisdom and comfort. Visiting The Toppie was tough because Covid infections were still high. The security guards at the provincial hospital see themselves as gods, which only exacerbated our already-high stress levels. The Toppie had scopes and what-not to find the source of the bleed but to no avail. With meds, the symptoms cleared up, but for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. More about that later…
The Bean and I went to a coffee shop in April called Axara. They serve pink lattes! Needless to say, I had to have one.
It was also the month I took myself out to dinner – something which I seldom do because it seems pitiful to dine alone. I went all out, three courses, and a tall G&T.
I also got to don a pretty dress because I was asked by my boss to attend the launch of the Garden Route Fashion Council.
June brought with it the end of mandatory mask-wearing. Three cheers for no more fogged-up glasses and maskne on my chin and cheeks. Finally, life was starting to feel pre-coronavirus normal. During the last week, our factory had its annual winter maintenance shutdown, so I had some time off. My friend, Shireen treated me to Elvis. Shireen is a real aficionado on the King of Rock ‘n Roll, so watching it with her made it even better!
Elizabeth and I also took a drive up to the St. Blaize lighthouse one morning for coffee and breakfast, mine being delicious carrot cake.
I had a few petsitting gigs too – I looked after a colleague’s two cats and three dogs in mid-August. Few things beat kitty snuggles and wagging tails.
For the first time in two years, I celebrated my birthday in September. Pre-2020, I would always have some kind of get-together, but this year, I didn’t have any kind of zeal to organize anything. The night before my birthday I went to watch little Nic’s school concert, a rendition of one of my best-loved stories, Alice in Wonderland. It was delightful.
On my actual birthday, my folks and I went to my favourite coffee roastery for a flat white, and the unveiling of a surprise for my folks – I had booked a cruise for them and me for April 2023.
Afterwards we had fish and chips at The Point and the weekend after, Eliza, Nathan, the kids and I ate ice cream sandwiches and then went for a meal. While it wasn’t a ‘regular’ birthday for me, it was one of the most memorable I have had in a long time.
The week after, I took ill. I contracted bronchitis, but thanks to Covid nine months earlier, it was the worst bout I have ever had; I eventually relented and went to the doctor when I started coughing blood. The GP prescribed meds and a chest cavity x-ray, but I could only afford the former. I petsat for Corine and another friend of hers – two brilliantly lovable Bassets Hounds.
Had life worked out differently, and had I also had a stronger stomach to deal with the dark side of what humans are capable of, I would have loved to have studied journalism. One of my biggest aspirations was to have my work published in a newspaper. The dream eventually came true, when my good friend, Corine, put in a good word for me with the local community rag, securing me a regular column. The brief was that it has to incorporate something about the town, without being advertorial. I would have loved to have called it Reflections of a Misfit as I do here, but ‘misfit’ has a negative connotation to some, so I went with Roots ‘n Reflections instead, because my roots run deep in this Sleepy Hollow (well, it’s not so sleepy anymore!) and because of the mandate, I like the idea of the posts being somewhat reflective. My first column was published in October. I was beaming with pride.
The Bean makes The Toppie buy the paper whenever a column of mine is inside, because she cuts them out and keeps them in a scrapbook. My friend, Ray, In East London also asked me to send hard copies to him so he can keep them with his late Mom’s stuff. She wanted me to ghostwrite her life story, but pancreatic cancer took her before we ever had the chance to sit down and make notes.
Another highlight was a visit with Michelle, Len, their two lovely kids, Michelle’s friend, Val, and Michelle’s folks at De Vette Mossel. Sand, sun, superb company and unlimited seafood – what more could a girl ask for? As always, visits with special friends are just never long enough though.
In November, on the eighteenth, Elizabeth turned 50 – she didn’t want a big shindig, so her family and some of her friends had a light bite to eat with her at her parents’ home. To many, fifty is a dreadful milestone to reach, but Elizabeth says she’s worked hard to be so old. Mind you, she doesn’t look it – not a single wrinkle, just like her mom who’s already in her late 70’s. Three cheers for good genes! Sadly, the day before, The Toppie got bad news – the meds he was on for the bleed, along with his other chronic prescriptions for diabetes and high BP damaged his kidneys. He now has stage 3B chronic disease, the likelihood of which means that his kidneys will eventually fail. I took the decision to move back to The Toppie and The Bean to be there for both of them. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but it is one I have peace about. The Bean is not going to cope on her own when things really take a turn for the worse with The Toppie. Some of my friends think I’m making a grave mistake; others understand that my parents are my priority because they are my immediate family. I often say there is a reason God didn’t give me a husband or kids – He had already laid this path out for me.
December finally arrived, which meant time hadn’t stopped as I had hoped it would. I had to bid farewell to Eliza, Nathan, and their boys on the 12th, because they were embarking on the next chapter of their lives in Australia. Generally, I’m quite stoic when it comes to saying goodbye, but as I got up to get my keys, uttering the words, “there’s no point in delaying the inevitable”, my voice broke, and my vision blurred. We stood in the thick fog, all trying not to cry, failing hopelessly!
A week later Facebook reminded me that a year to the day, I had tested positive for Covid. It did a number on my lungs, which came to light when I got bronchitis earlier this year. I’m prone to chest infections, which I’ve often been able to shake off with OTC meds. Not this time… I eventually admitted defeat in the doctor’s surgery after I started coughing blood. He ordered a chest cavity X-ray and a list of meds including antibiotics. I couldn’t afford both, so to this day, as I write this, we still don’t know the extent of the damage to my lungs.
I shed more tears a few days before Christmas as I spoke to my landlord and his wife about having to move. They were the first ‘landpeople’ I’ve ever had, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for better people to let me a part of their home. Nine years I’ve lived in The Cave, and to think, in less than thirty days it will be as it was when I first set foot in it back in 2014. I can only hope that the person/people that rent it in the future have as wonderful a time living there as I did and realize how lucky they are to have Uncle H and Aunty J as their lessors. They really are good people.
And here I am, winding down the first day of 2023 – unsure about what the year holds, but earnestly praying that it brings fewer trials, because 2022, despite all the happy moments here, left me physically and emotionally exhausted. I chose not to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year – instead, I am just going to take each day as it comes and try to find something good in it. I may as well start here – the good thing about today was that I finished a book a friend lent me titled Mr Wrong Number by Lynn Painter. It was relatable and ridiculously funny. Not a bad way to kick off the year…
Happy New Year to you all!
PS. The months of which I’ve made no mention in this post, don’t mean that nothing happened, it’s just that I don’t have any ‘happy snaps’ (as Elizabeth calls them) to share with the written content.
I’ve been a bit quiet blogging-wise. It’s that time of the year when the days flow into one another. I’ve missed two opportunities for #MoodboardMonday. Hopefully I’ll get back into it soon.
Today marks the beginning of a new month. With 2020 being as unpredictable as a hormonal woman on a bad period without her wine supply, I wondered if we’d ever see December. The world has been completely turned on its head, with people having strong opinions about the realness of the Coronavirus and the lockdowns attached to it. Honestly, I’m over it and by it I mean 2020 and the Coronavirus. Add to it that everyone is just gatvol, and you have a ticking time-bomb waiting to go kaboom!
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:
I’ve been a bit quiet, I know. I’ve not felt much like anything save for drinking copious amounts of coffee and sleeping.
Level 5 is over (for now). Friday morning saw the majority of the population out in the streets to exercise between the 06h00 and 09h00. I’m not sure if the virus is on a sabbatical between those hours, or if it is the COVID-19 happy hour. Photos on social media show that the social distancing that we worked so hard to maintain literally walked, jogged and cycled right out the window.
It’s day 25 of lockdown. As far as I know The Bean and The Toppie are fine (from COVID-19, that is), my friends haven’t murdered their spouses nor eaten their young, and my lettuce experiment appears to be successful.
I’m fortunate to be able to do my day-job work from home. It’s weird though, knowing that for 21 days I’m not going to see my colleagues. It’s not like I se them during my annual leave either, but this… this is different.
Last night with no warning, everything was eerily silent. Not a breath of wind, or the usual whir-whir of the neighbour’s kid’s skateboard wheels. It was deathly silent.