Thursday, 26 February 2009

Stupid is as stupid does

I posted an ad on an online "jobs wanted" notice board quite awhile ago, detailing my freelance services and contact details. I mentioned that I was looking for freelance work in Gauteng.

Today I received the following email (with no greeting, no formatting...):

i have been informed of the advertised post for a freelance writer and inotice that my knowledge and experience are adequate for the jobadvertised, therefore i wish to be considered.
i have gained valuable experience having worked as a journalist for***** communications (currently known as *****) and would cherish theopportunity to work for your organisation. i'm a person who enjoys newchallenges, as i'm addicted to learning and i strongly feel that i willadd quality to your organisation.
please see attachment for details of my cv

Firstly... I'm sorry... What part of LOOKING for work not OFFERING it do you not not get?

Secondly, if you don't know how to address and sign-off an email or use punctuation and you clearly have no idea where the spacebar is on your keyboard, do you seriously think you're cut out to be a freelance writer?


They are out there. They live and walk among us. And they breed.

In other news, I gave myself 45 minutes yesterday - got home and made a cup of hot chocoloate, which I enjoyed curled up in a blanket on my bed, magazine in hand, before dozing off for about 20 minutes. It was sheer bliss. I actually had the energy to get up, make supper, mend a pair of pants I've been meaning to fix for months, exercise and do the washing and the rest of the chores, all before TSC arrived home. Yay for power naps!

Have a fab friday and and awesome weekend. See some of you at Bloggirls ;-)

I leave you with a Friday funny:

Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement - not even her parent's nasty divorce. Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear and would be the best dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!
A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new young wife had bought the exact same dress! Jennifer asked her to exchange it, but she refused.
"Absolutely not, I look like a million bucks in this dress, and I'm Wearing it," she replied.
Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, "Never mind sweetheart. I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day."
A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress.
When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, "Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it. Her mother just smiled and replied, "Of course I do, dear. I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding."

Memes and Men Jokes

So how did I do on my to-do list from yesterday? Not too badly. On my way home I stopped at Design Quarter to get some coasters (to protect my new coffee table from glass marks) and discovered that Woolies was having a big sale on their home stuff. So I browsed to my heart's content and picked up some gorgeous placemats, pillows, a cute little woven dustbin for the spare room and some sweet napkins. Then I went home and played with my cats for awhile before settling into all the chores that needed to be done. This morning, before work, I made breakfast for our guests and then sat outside on my veranda, reading my book with a cup of coffee, until they were ready. Such a lovely way to start the day!

So I'm in a fairly good mood this morning, despite the fact that a client sent me a snotty email about an invoice (which has nothing to do with me. I'm the writer, not the accountant. Duh). Here's a meme that Louisa tagged me to do, and something from my inbox that made me smile.

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his forehead while he is on fire. No further studies are expected.

Love it!

Handbag meme from Louisa.


  • Post a picture of whatever bag you are carrying as of late. No, you can’t go into your closet and pull out your favourite purse! We want to know what you carried today or the last time you left the house.
  • List how much it cost. And this is not to judge. This is for entertainment purposes only. So spill it. And if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, we’d love to hear it.
  • Show us what’s in your purse. Spill it out! Take pictures! Tell us what it is!
  • Tag some chicks. (sorry boys, but I’m guessing not a lot of you carry bags around anyway).

Here's my bag that I'm carrying today... I have no idea how much it cost - it was a Christmas present. I love it because it matches so many colours, it's huge and fits all my crap inside (and usually TSC's too), I reckon it's stylish (could be wrong) and it has a solid wood handle, which is unusual (and a pain to carry).

And here's a pic of all the stuff in it at the moment...

We have (from the top left):

  • Car keys with broken green beaded keyring that I keep forgetting to fix
  • Purse (and my driver's licence, which is still in my maiden name)
  • Cool notepad thing that Ruby and Arkwife gave me for my birthday
  • Eclipse mints (pre-interview prerequisite in my book)
  • Ancient and irritating cell phone that is in the process of dying. Dramatically, as Nokia's are wont to do.
  • Butterfly sparkles. ??? I think these are left over from the housewarmign party where I sprinkled some on the tables for decoration. Dunno why they're in my bag though.
  • Tissues.
  • Three pen-shaped sprays from Dischem. One is Hand Sanitizer, one is Instant Spot Remover and the last is SPF30 Sunscreen.
  • Six pens (as a journo, I live in fear that all my pens will dry up during an interview. It's happened before, and I've been carrying even more pens since).
  • Compact mirror and brush.
  • Three shades of lipgloss.
  • Pomegranite handcream. Mmmm!

I now tag: Ruby (suck it up, tag-hater - I wanna know what's in your bag), Kitty Cat, Helen, Mylifescape and Hayley. Sorry if you've already been tagged. I can't keep track of these things. Everyone else who's keen is also welcome to play along ;-)

*added later: I dunno how many of you have seen the cartoon strip that rins at the bottom of this blog, but scroll down and have a look at today's... So funny!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

My to-do list

I don't usually tell you on this blog about the fights I have with TSC (or the making up afterwards. *naughty grin*), but I will say that many of the arguments we've had of late are about my to-do list.

I come from a perfectionistic, uptight family of over-achievers. I love my folks and I'm glad they've instilled a little ambition in me, but as a family we can be very critical of ourselves and others, always wanting things to be just right. I think I also have a bit of a complex because I'm a writer, while my dad is an engineer and CEO and my mom is a doctor, so I tend to think that my job is not good enough or smart enough in their eyes. Blah blah blah... What does this have to do with my list?

Well, every morning I start the day armed with my impressively long to-do list that contains everything from work items to house chores and admin tasks that need to be tackled. For example, today's list has everything from, "write last three freelance stories for ***** website" to "hem jeans", "phone Telkom to get ADSL at home" and various other unappealing things that need to be done. Currently, the list is two pages in length.

The problem is that it never diminishes. Things just get added. For instance, yesterday, when one of our church elders called me and asked me if I could host two visiting pastors tonight, chores like, "sort out medical aid details" were immediately superceded by "change all bed linen in spare room" and "fetch extra single bed from Stephen's house". Blah blah blah...

And what, dear rambling journo, does this have to do with poor TSC, you may well be wondering?

Since my man has started varsity, he has had a very long day (he leaves at 6.30am and gets back at about 5pm on most days and then still has to do homework and study for tests). And trying to be a lovely, understanding wife (and usually failing miserably at this), I am doing my best to make life easy for him by doing most of the chores, even the ones he usually does. And that, of course, adds to my blasted to-do list.

Most of the time, I'm glad to do it, because it means that we may have a little more time to spend together. But sometimes, if I feel like what I'm doing hasn't been acknowledged or I'm being taken for granted, I get angry or upset in typical female fashion and throw my toys out the cot. and I don't throw like a girl.

See, truth be told, I have a long day too. And once in awhile, I would like to have five minutes to do something I feel like doing instead of tackling something that needs to be done. And it's not TSC that's making me do these things - it's me.

I know I only work half-days at the office (although usually I stay a bit late), but then I take my freelance work home and do that, along with all the admin for the life group we lead, the welcome teams at church (we head up that section), the house stuff that still hasn't been sorted out (like our gate intercom that STILL doesn't work. Growl) and various other things. And don't get me wrong... I don't mind doing any of it - I choose my commitments carefully and only pick those that I'm really keen on.

But I can't remember the last time I came home and picked up a novel or a a magazine, or took out my easel and did some painting, or lay on the bed and played with my cats. Yes, I do a lot of stuff that I enjoy, like gardening or baking, but it's all for a purpose (gardening for veggies and baking for life group or for birthday presents). It's like I can't let myself do something that won't benefit someone else or give a tangible result because that might be a waste of time. And it shouldn't be like that - I shouldn't have to justify doing something nice for myself!

So today I got to thinking that maybe I need to write a list of some of the things I'd like to do just for me. Not because it will make the house look better (I've spent many evenings fixing old furniture, hanging pictures and unpacking the last boxes). Not because it's a good idea (I spent last night picking all the pepperdews, de-seeding them and bottling them. My fingers are still burning from that. Will wear gloves next time). Not because I should do it (weeding the garden, washing the curtains or sorting out my old bank statements). But just because I feel like it.

Here's my list:
  • Take a long bath with some yummy bath products.
  • Read one of my magazines that have been sitting next to my bed waiting for free time.
  • Start reading a new book.
  • Catch up on some poetry writing.
  • Spend time playing with my kitties.
  • Nap. Without feeling guilty.
  • Drink a cup of creamy hot chocolate while curled up on the sofa.
  • Paint.
  • Make jewellery (haven't done that since we moved).
  • Explore my recipe books.
  • Drink a cocktail on my veranda with TSC.
  • Paint my toenails.
  • Do some crafts.
  • Write letters.
  • Sit still in my garden and watch the birds.

I'm going to try to do more of these things, starting from today. I'm not going to stop doing the other stuff that needs to be done, but I'm going to make time to do things purely for pleasure, and not to feel guilty about it.

What do you do for you?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

One of the most useful things my father ever told me:

"Don't mud wrestle with a pig. You'll get dirty and the pig will just have a whole lot of fun."

This guy obviously didn't have my dad around (story taken from here):

Farmer Could Be Fined For Pig Mud Wrestling
It appears a Baltimore County farmer is going to be fined for conducting pig mud wrestling matches.
Richard Sher reports Spring Meadow Farms owner, Stan Dabkowski, received warnings from animal rights groups and the county health department, but went forward with the matches, all of them videotaped by the health department.

Eyewitness News received this message from the Baltimore County Health Department: "There were clear cut examples where the pigs were being mistreated. Citations will be issued accordingly."

"They've got qualified people here, videotaping the pig mud wrestling. All they had to tell me was they felt the pigs were being mistreated and I would have said OK and stopped," said Dabkowski. He canceled planned pig mud wrestling for the following three Saturdays.

Dabkowski no longer has the pigs. He says he is inviting the entire community to a free pig roast, Saturday, Oct. 18.

"I'm sure people who are opposed to eating animals will be opposed to the roast," said Dabkowski, "but pigs are for eating."

Fines could be levied some time this week.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Not enough hours in the day

Because we do our office status meetings on a Monday morning (which takes up to two hours sometimes), I never seem to have enough time to do everything I need to do on the first day of the week. The fact that I write every single press release / newsletter / advert / piece of writing that this agency sends out means that my workload increases with every new client we sign. Currently, I am under the whip and battling to do all the work within my half-day. I find this very stressful. Discussions are underway about finding me a writing assistant. Let's hope that happens. If you know of a suitable candidate (i.e. good English and communication skills, in this for the love of writing rather than the love of money, able to work to insane deadlines and keen to join our hyper-emotional all-female company), please let me know.

Until then, I leave you with a picture of my vegetables that I picked out of my garden on Saturday. Why? Because (as Jackson's Mom will understand) I am incredibly proud of these fruits of my labour, more so than of the million-odd press releases I will write this week. Rightly so, I believe. The veggies definitely taste better.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Can taking vitamins make you thirsty?


I started taking them a few days ago and I've been so thirsty! I normally don't drink much at all - a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of water during the day, maybe two glasses of water or juice at home and perhaps a glass of wine. I know, I know... I should be drinking six glasses of water a day minimum aside from my coffee blahblahblah...

If you met me you'll know that I'm small - if I drank that much water every day, I would have to set up office in the toilet cubicle. I try. And I drink when I'm thirsty. I figure my body knows how much water it needs.

I wonder if it's the vitamins that are making me so thirsty? They also taste rubbish - you swallow the damn things and then burp vitamins all day long. Gross. And they do strange things to your pee... Why am I taking these again?

Sigh... I know - they're good for me. They happen to be luminous purple, which does make me question that. Can anything healthy really be the colour of a neon highlighter?

On a completely unrelated subject... Bloggirls this month is at my house. Yup - housewarming number two! So if you're a girl and you blog and you live in Gauteng, please come (and bring your partner and kids)! You can sign up here, along with the supper event happening this month too.

Lastly, here is a (not very good) pic of the mosaic mirror I've been busy with... I'm quite chuffed with the results. I promise you... it looks better in real life.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

What I learnt last night

For those of you not in the know, TSC and I lead a church small group at our home every week. This term our group decided to investigate other world religions to try an gain insight into the different beliefs and find any common ground. Last night we invited K, TSC's Muslim friend, to talk to us about his faith. Here is what I learnt:

  • I can cook Halaal! K enjoyed my chicken roast, and aside from the slight awkwardness in the beginning (he's definitely not used to chatting to women), I had a good time.
  • K is a Shi'ite Muslim. He prays in a different way to people from other Islamic sects, and although he says there are many similarities, there are also differences in the interpretation of the Qur'an and in various religious practices. It's kind of like the way that within Christianity there are various denominations... Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans and so on.
  • In Shi'ite law and religion, women and men are equal although different. K was quite funny about this - he's been living in Saudi Arabia, and when I asked him about why women there wear burkas, aren't allowed to drive and are treated as inferior, he said something along the lines of, "That's not in the Qur'an. They are overreacting to what is written." He believes the teachings have been misinterpreted and "stretched too far".
  • In K's culture, "love marriages" are permitted, although arranged marriages are also common. K will have an arranged marriage and says he prefers it this way. When asked why, he replied, "If you saw the girl my father has found for me you would agree!" He added that women are allowed to veto the marriage if they don't want to wed the man chosen for them, and that they can also disagree with the bride price that has been suggested. He has known the girl he will marry since childhood. He is currently 19 and she is 17, and discussions have begun, although the marriage will only take place once he's finished studying (in three years time). K stresses that this is a cultural rather than a religious practise - both arranged and love marriages are allowed in Islam.
  • Polygamy is also allowed in Islam - a man may have up to four wives at any time. K's great grandfather had a total of seven in his life, and K explains that this was because, in a religion where family and community are of vital importance, men may marry widows or vulnerable women in order to assure them of security and shelter.
  • There are different types of Jihad in Shi'ite Islam. Jihad is a religious duty and means "struggle". K says that he is required to "struggle" against those who try to hinder him from practising his faith; against those who assault him (for example, if someone breaks into his house and threatens him or his family he is entitled to defend himself through violence) and against a state that is attempting to force its religion on its people, as people should be free to choose their own faith. In the third case, he notes that Islam retains respect for the Jewish and Christian faiths, as they are based on some of the same holy books as Islam.
  • Muslims believe that your kismet (fate, destiny or luck) is predetermined by Allah. In other words, your life is already written and you are following along a pre-planned path. Your kismet can, however, be changed according to your behaviour - if you follow the will of God and do good things, you will be rewarded.
  • K finds aspects of our culture unnerving. He had many questions for us, especially about how women dress and the use of alcohol in our society. Our group had some nice debates going answering these. It was great fun.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A bullet-point post...

...Is always good when lacking inspiration. So here it is:

  • Stress for the day: Aside from clients, the fact that we're having K over for dinner and to spend the night. I've decided to cook a roast (Halaal) chicken with roast veg and crusty rolls on the side. Apparently, K can't eat anything I've cooked in one of my pots or pans becuase the metal may have absorbed fat from previous non-Halaal meals. But he can eat off my porcelain plates and casserole dishes as long as they have been washed. I'm just worried that he'll arrive and I'll discover that I've messed up in some way. But TSC assures me that he's a nice guy and that everything will be fine.

  • Thought for the day: I am very blessed to have TSC in my life. He is kind, loving, affectionate, funny, generous and generally awesome. Yes, he can tick me off more quickly than anyone else on the planet and he leaves his stuff lying all over the house and does irritating things like making us late for every appointment, but I love him with my whole heart and I'm so proud of him.

  • Food of the day: I'm loving the delicious yellow cling peaches from Woolworths at the moment. Had one an hour ago and it was so firm and juicy and sweet. Yum!

And that's me for today. How about you?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

People don't understand my job!

Not my afternoon job - there's nothing that complicated about journalism (although people do tend to assume that I write for a newspaper. Dunno why. I'm completely useless on the subjects of current news / politics / sports and so on, so that should give them a clue).

But people don't understand my morning job. Yup... they don't understand what the field of public relations is all about. And I guess that's understandable because PR people tend to spin a fancy story that makes it sound far more complicated and impressive than it really is.

You'll hear phrases like "strategic communications", "integrated marketing strategies" and "outsourced one-stop marketing departments", all said in a sexy Cell C stage whisper*. But basically, the agency I work for in the mornings, let's call it Red Tree (because there are an inordinate number of "communications" companies named after a colour and a random object. Trust me on this) does one major thing - we try to get free, positive editorial coverage for our clients in the media.

So let's say the client is a company that offers onsite office pilates classes to businesses as part of their employee wellness programmes. The PR company will write press releases on various topics - maybe how an employee wellness programme can help you to improve staff morale and cut down on company medical costs and employee absenteeism; the benefits of pilates or a profile on the charismatic entrepreneur who founded the company - and then send these to the editors or programme managers of various publications, websites, TV shows and radio programmes to try to convince them that this is a topic worth discussing and to include the PR client's name / business details / achievements / expertise and so on.

All in all, it sounds quite simple. And if it wasn't for the clients, it might be.

See, I can excuse the general public for not understanding PR. But the companies that pay us to do their public relations... surely they should have a clue?

Now I understand that charming PR spin doctors in stilettos or a slick suit may have convinced you that what you NEED is a PR company that UNDERSTANDS you and your business and that Red Tree / Blue Fish / Yellow Porcupine / Green Pencil is the RIGHT company for you (and make no mistake - PR professionals do speak in capital letters. Rather like Death in a Terry Pratchett book)...

BUT... If you are going to pay these people money, surely you ask questions / do research / google "define PR" or something?!?! I would. But maybe that's just me.

Why is it that we get clients that ask us things like, "So where will this press release be placed?" before it's even been written? Here's a thought: it's free space. Strangely, my dear client, editors are less keen to dish this out than they are to accept your paid-for adverts or advertorials. Might just be because the magazine also needs to make money and they have salaries to pay too, y'know?

No? Ok... consider the fact that not everyone in the world will think that your product / company / service is as truly earth-shatteringly awesome as you do. I know it's hard to imagine that there are people out there who are not moved by the thought of your laxatives / office blocks / computer hardware, but it's true. Really! I'm not lying. I wish I was - it would make writing about your product much easier.

Also, there's the fact that I'm not psychic. Sorry to disappoint you, but I really can't predict ahead of time what an editor will choose to do. So when I send him or her your latest press release, I'm afraid I can't promise you a placement before it's even been read. Sucks, I know. But such is the way of the (PR) world.

And when you ask me to organise a media breakfast to mark the launch of your new range of tick and flea shampoo, please understand I mean no offence when I say, "Nobody gives a rat's bottom." The truth hurts, baby. And the truth is... the media have better things to do. Unless you can promise French champagne, a free weekend in a 5-star hotel or a Rolex goodie bag, most journos won't be interested in your little media event. Sorry.

Please don't feel the need to copy me in on every email you send to your suppliers / factory / board of directors / mother / ex-boyfriend either. I need to know the newsworthy stuff only. Got it? Ok, maybe that one where you threatened to cut your ex's genitals off and sew them to his forehead was newsworthy, but not in the way I meant!

Then, if you can cut out checking up on my progress every half an hour I'll be infinitely more happy and productive. If Elle magazine refused to place your release on the benefits of your (butt ugly) orthopaedic slippers this morning, chances are they won't agree to it this afternoon.

The only other thing I ask is that you acknowledge the fact that I studied journalism and you did not. When I send you a press release for approval and you change my sentence from, "The shopping centre's design is based on its natural surroundings and the architectural lines echo the curve of the adjacent riverbed" to "The Shopping Centers design is founded on it's natural surrounds; while the architectural lines are based on the gently sloping curve of the nearby river that the Shopping Center overlooks"... I want to kill you. No offence.

If you can keep these points in mind, I'm sure our relationship will blossom as you allow Red Tree / Purple Zebra / Silver Banana / Pink Lizard to address your individual communications needs in a strategic and dynamic manner.

*Cell C is a telecommunications company. Its radio and TV ads are always read by a lady with a low, husky voice who has become known as "The Voice of Cell C". Some say she sounds like a phone sex operator. Others think she suffers from chronic laryngitis.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Rom-coms and randomness

The weekend was awesome.

A fancy dinner at Le Canard on Friday (we finally got to use the voucher from our friends R & A from our birthdays last year). Yum! From the atmosphere to the three courses and all the in between bits (like the palate-cleansing mint sorbet... mmm...), it was lovely.

Saturday (Valentine's Day), we swapped presents in bed over a cafe latte (I got some super yummy Pomegranite body lotion, shower gel and hand cream in a cake tin and he got some *ahem* interesting goodies from Lola Montez - the classy adult gift store down the road from us).

After a lazy morning we got stuck into the garden and finished digging the new flower beds. Then it was off to the hardware store to get the stuff to make the mosaic mirror for the guest loo (which is almost finished - hopefully I can post a pic tomorrow) and then he dragged me off to see He's Just Not That Into You.

Now I'm not generally a fan of romantic comedies. In fact, I suggested that we see Valkyrie insteadm, despite my patent dislike of that Tom Cruise character. But nope, my chick-flick-loving husband was not in the mood for that.

He's forced me to watch very many rom-coms before, including such gems (NOT!) as Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and Swept Away (even he had to admit that this one was a complete and utter waste of time. How could it be directed by Guy Ritchie?! You see what that mad ex-wife of his did to him?! From Snatch to Swept Away ??? Ok. Vent over).

So I was sceptical about this one. But I actually enjoyed it thoroughly. I hadn't seen the previews and I had no idea who was starring in it. Probably a good thing - I usually make a point of not seeing movies with Ben Affleck in them. But it was funny and cute and the perfect movie for a Saturday afternoon that leaves you feeling all happy and soppy. Which is great on Valentine's Day.

Sunday morning, after a BLT and cup of coffee, I headed off to the nursery and grocery store while TSC did his varsity assignments, poor boy. I planted my new flower bed, did some veggie garden maintenance and worked on the mosaic mirror. We had a relaxed braai for late lunch and then headed off to church, which was great. So a good weekend, all in all.

Today I am online trying to find Halaal restaurants in our area. Why, you may ask? Well, TSC and I host a life group (small group) every week at our place. This term we asked our guys what they'd like to focus on, and one dude came up with the idea of studying other major world religions.

I think it's a great idea - as Christians we can be so quick to judge other faiths and I think it's a good chance to look for common ground and get some insight into what other people believe. So we started off with Islam last week, and we're continuing with that theme this week. TSC has asked his Muslim friend from varsity, K, to come and chat to the group about his faith and he's agreed.

I'm so keen to meet him and really excited that he's agreed to share his faith with us, but I need to figure out how to make him feel comfortable in our home and organise food that he can enjoy. I know the basics - no pork or alcohol to be served, no dogs to be present (dog saliva is considered extremely unclean), no physical contact between members of the opposite sex (so I should not hug him - must remember that), providing washroom facilities for wudu (ritual washing) and a clean, private space for prayer so on.

But I'm not sure how strict he is when it comes to food - he may be fine eating in our home or he may prefer that all utensils that have been used to prepare non-Halaal food be washed three times before being used, or he may prefer not to eat from pots that have been used to cook non-Halaal meat. So I figure that it may be easier to take him out for supper to a Halaal restaurant.

Anyone know of one? The only options I can seem to find are fast foods (not my thing) or Karma Nirvana in Fourways. And anyone have any other advice on how to make K feel at home?

Oh, and have a great week, all.

Friday, 13 February 2009


I have just broken the power cable for my external hard drive.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Poetry post

There are many things I miss about varsity, and as TSC embraks on his studies, I am reminded of this. One of the things I really enjoyed when I was at UCT was a poetry seminar given by Stephen Watson. I have always written poetry, but he taught me about rhythm and style and introduced me to poetry masters.

One of the poems we studied that struck a chord with me was Pablo Neruda's Ode to Tomatoes:
Here it is, translated from the original Spanish:

The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its giftof fiery color
and cool completeness.

We were asked to write a similar ode to an everyday object. Here is mine that I wrote then, followed by one written this morning:

Ode to the Coat Hanger

Of the cupboard
Is the coat hanger,
That great isosceles triangle
Forces clothes into
Neat rows
And dictates wardrobe hierarchy.
A knight -
Guardian of our most precious wear:
Christening gown,
Wedding dress
And cherished Levi low-cuts.
With metal claw,
He rules each one,
Captain Hook coat hanger.
When disaster strikes,
Our wiry hero
Bends to
Lend his tongue,
Slipping it through
The vehicle door
To rescue
Stranded keys.
Never do his shoulders sag.
Sturdily he bears
The weight
We lay.
Timid is our
Helpful friend,
And content to take his
Quiet place
On a dark and

Ode to my pillow

Every morning as I wake
Your softness caresses my cheek,
And at the long day's finish
You wait for me under the covers,
To cradle my tired head
And listen to my breathing ease.

When trouble comes to visit me
I turn to your embrace,
Clutching at you desperately,
Holding you close and
Staining your pale face
With my own tears.
And yet you stay.
Cushioning the blows,
Comforting me.

As my day draws out like a long, winding thread,
My thoughts turn to you and I long to return to our bed.

I'd love it if any of you were to take a bash at writing a poem of praise to an everyday object in my comments section or on your blogs. And if you have any favourite poems, please do share!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A brilliant business idea

Wouldn't it be great if there was a service where you could order a brief visit from a clown / civil servant / used car dealer / telemarketer / lawyer / some other irritating being to your office or home for the express purpose of giving him / her a slap across the face to relieve your frustration?

Seriously... I'd pay for that privilege. Wouldn't you?

And on the other hand, I wouldn't mind stepping in for the occasional smack if it paid well enough. I'm sure there are many people who'd cough up good money to slap a journalist or PR person.

I'd call it... "Slap to Smile". Or something.

Imagine if we could get irritating celebs involved... they could donate their smack-cash to charity. I'd pick that couch-stomping Tom Cruise to slap. Or Christian Bale if I was contemplating suicide.

Who would you choose?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Above and beyond blog standard

I follow a lot of blogs. Some of them are funny, some are raw and honest, some are informative and some have great photos. And when I find a blog that I really heart, I somehow want the rest of the world to know about it and enjoy it too.

Here are three of the many blogs that I follow regularly. There are many more that I think are awesome, but these are the ones I wanted to tell you about today.

Chris is super intelligent to the point that his writing intimidates me sometimes. But he can be hilarious, insightful, sarcastic and I often learn something new from his posts, so I keep going back for more. He writes fantastic movie reviews and has an absolutely endless supply of trivia at his fingertips. He also seems in tune with the spirit of the internets and often posts current topics / memes before they become a hot topic.

Mother Jungle

Susan writes from Costa Rica and is the mother of two children, Coco and Addison. Reading her blog I've learnt about everyday life in paradise - from its many bugs to how to open a green coconut properly. Addison has Down's Syndrome and I've also learnt a lot about the thrills and spills that brings. Susan's writing is from the heart and her blog is an absolute gem.

I Am Tom

Tom is a fairly new blogger, but as a copywriter he's taken to the task like a duck to water. His posts are hilarious and often have me laughing out loud in the office, whether he's bemoaning the loss of his girlfriend to the Twilight book series or telling the story of how he stalked the drunkard that ran into the back of his car. He's also a great commenter, so if you read his blog, he's likely to leave some love on yours.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Weekend away in Mooinooi



Well, at least the weekend was good. Friday evening was spent with my folks in Pretoria and we all went out for supper to Fishmonger in Centurion. It's a Friday favourite with my parents because they serve the most delicious fish (for some reason my parents don't eat meat on Fridays. Catholic upbringing, I guess) and TSC enjoys it because they do a mean steak too. It was great (especially my squid heads - yum). I love that I'm finally at a place where I get along with my folks and we really enjoy each other's company.

Saturday morning we left for Mooinooi, a small town built around a mine near Rustenburg. Literally translated from Afrikaans, it means something alongs the lines of "pretty girlfriend".

Since moving to Joburg we've become good friends with the parents of a friend from varsity, who was also the MC at our wedding. While they are the same age as my parents (maybe even a bit older), we get along really well with them. They (let's call them Elle and Zee, which, lucky for them, are not their real names) had invited us to spend a night at their plot along with an Australian couple who were visiting Africa for the first time, Jo and Steve.

It turned out to be such fun. We arrived shortly before lunch, unpacked and had a lovely al fresco meal on the veranda. We chatted for ages and eventually retired for an afternoon nap. Afterwards we headed off for a short walk (about an hour in total) to watch the sunset. Most of the sun was obscured by clouds, but it was pretty anyway. Well, judge for yourselves:

When we got back, the two dogs who live on the property had arrived and TSC had a great time playing with them (big puppy that he is) before getting the braai ready. I made pap (pronounced pupp) and relish for the Aussies to sample and TSC, resident braai-master, dazzled all with his deliciously spiced and perfectly-cooked beef steaks and lamb chops.

After a few glasses of nice wine (Backsberg rosé and Inkspot vin noir) and a few hours of easy conversation, the Aussies headed off to bed and our friends followed shortly. TSC and I decided to give the outdoor showers a try.

What a cool experience! Because the plot is set in the middle of the bush, there is no-one around for miles. Under the full moon we took a steaming hot shower in the cool night air. The showers are open on one side, facing away from the buildings and have no roof. It was a new feeling - the cold air, the moonlight and the hot water.

If I ever have a house in the middle of nowhere, I will build a shower ilke that. And one inside for winter, of course ;-)

Sunday morning TSC and I awoke before dawn (we're not used to taking Saturday afternoon naps and it completely threw our sleep out) and had a cup of coffee alone on the Verandah before Elle and Zee joined us. Eventually Jo and Steve appeared and we enjoyed a light relaxed breakfast together.

Then at about 10am we donned our hiking shoes, hats and sunblock and climbed into the bakkie (light utility vehicle / ute / truck / pick-up for you non-locals). We stopped on a nearby plot where the walking trail begins and set off for the river. It was really hot, and by the time we arrived at the waterfall and pools, I wished I'd brought my bikini with. Elle and Zee got into the water and the rest of us rolled our trousers up and dipped our legs in. It was cold! But lovely. The rocks are textured from hundreds of years of rippling water, and the deep pools were beautiful. I wished I'd lugged my old manual SLR camera along instead of my snapshot camera.

When we eventually got back it was almost 2pm. We had another great al fresco meal before packing up our things. TSC and I dashed off, picked the cats up from my folks and made it back home in time to have a quick shower before we had to be at Montecasino for church, which was great.

We're in our third week now and we've got an average of 260 people attending. I think the concept of a church in a casino establishment makes people curious. And I think it's more accessible to many people in terms of location and time than our morning services at a local school.

So a good weekend, all in all. Let's hope it's a good week too. For me, for TSC (who is writing his first varsity test today) and for all of you!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Follow up post

Thanks for everyone's support and comments on yesterday's post. I actually considered taking it off my blog because it's quite emo and a little embarrassing. But I figured it's good for me to keep a record of the stuff that goes on in my head. For some reason it helps me to make sense of things.

Strangely, although I have no problem blogging when I'm angry or really excited, I struggle to blog when I'm depressed. It's only once I've got through the worst of it that I can share the stuff that's been going on.

In other words... I reckon I'm fine now. It's been a crap period, but I think I'm heading upwards again. My mother thinks I'm manic depressive, so if she's right, I'm due for a happy spree round about now ;-)

Depression unfortunately runs in my family, and although I've been off the meds for a few years, I'll probably always battle with it. I tell myself it's ok because my extreme emotions seem to mean that I am capable of feeling things very deeply. This can actually be a good thing (and a bad thing) because just as darkness will strike me hard, so too the small joys of life are highlighted and enjoyed to the fullest degree possible.

For those who have never experienced chemical or clinical depression, please understand that it's not something that you can just "snap out of". And taking a walk, listening to happy music or being with friends doesn't fix it. I wish for everyone's sake that it was that easy.

Unfortunately, most people tend to withdraw when depression hits. When you need family, friends and support most, you don't actually feel up to it. If there's someone in your life battling with this, please be patient. And please keep trying. It does matter. Even if the person can't show you that.

I know there's some of you who think I'm being a drama queen and that I don't know how easy my life is and how blessed I am. If that's what you think, ok. I have no beef with you.

But I do know that I am incredibly fortunate to be well-off with a husband, family and friends who are the best a person could ever wish for. And my life could be infinitely harder - I understand that. It's hard to explain how the feelings conflict within me. The best way I can put it is that the psycho twin doesn't get these things. The sane one does.

So basically, thanks for your love and support. I think blogging has been a breakthrough therapy tool for me - when I can't bring myself to talk about these things with TSC or my family, I write about it here, and getting it all outside of my head helps the sane twin to put things in perspective and take the reins again.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Weird space

First of all, thanks to everyone for the well wishes yesterday. And I honestly wasn't that upset about the follower. It just makes me wonder: "Did I write something taht offended him / her? Does he / she find that I'm no longer entertaining..." And so on.

Good news is... the follower is back. *gleeful grin*

Secondly, overshare warning... this is one of those self-involved navel-gazing posts that would probably be more appropriate in a private diary. I have warned you.

So... onwards...

I'm in a strange space with myself at the moment. You may be thinking that any space I'm in will be weird simply by association, but it's more than that. See (here comes the overshare), for those of you who don't know, I've suffered from various eating disorders over different periods in my life. And although I have been fine for the past three and a half years, I don't think I'll ever really "get it out of my system".

What I mean is... Yes, I don't make myself throw up anymore. Or abuse diet pills / laxatives anymore. Or starve myself or exercise compulsively or weigh myself a million times a day (in fact, I don't even own a scale). I no longer compulsively count calories, pretend to eat food and then hide it or even forbid poor TSC from eating certain food groups along with me. I don't do any of those insane things I used to do. But... I do go through periods of "darkness" when I feel tempted to step out of my sanity and do one or more of those things again.

I never do.

I KNOW that the best way forward is to eat healthily and exercise enough. I understand that eating small meals throughout the day and allowing myself treats without going overboard or being a food Nazi keeps my metabolism up and stops me from craving. I know that exercising regularly not only stops me from freaking out but also gives me a great endorphin boost.

I know these things. That knowledge doesn't, however, stop me from having stretches of absolutely hating my body (specific bits more than others) and getting completely distraught about the fact that I can't change it quickly enough to make me feel better. And I'm not talking about a blue mood or two... these are spells of depression that last weeks and sometimes months and remind me of really dark times when I was fighting against hospital admittance and contemplating suicide and all that crap.

I once explained it to my shrink (poor woman) as having twin personalities that battle it out in my head. The one twin is fairly normal. She has moments of insecurity like most women and doesn't like her squishy tummy very much. But she believes that she's doing her best and that should be good enough. She lives moderately, understands that certain times of the month will be rough and gives herself a little leeway.

The other twin is completely loopy. It's when she's won the argument that the insane complusive behaviour starts. She is never satisfied with herself and gets disproportionately upset about things. She overanalyses compliments and turns them into insults and she rages with anger at the drop of a hat. She believes that everyone secretly can't stand her and is convinced that action - severe action - must be taken against her useless self as punishment or something. A complete control freak, she is irrational and unreasonable and she cannot live in a middleground of any kind.

Hmmm... just reread all of that. I'll forgive you if you do stop following me - I don't make very much sense sometimes.

I've been in one of those yuck phases for the past few weeks. Not too extreme, thankfully, but still not-so-nice for TSC to have to deal with. I really wish I knew what triggers these things, but I just don't. They happen seemingly without my involvement - pyscho twin takes over and I'm just along for the (unpleasant) ride. My brain seems to turn into an organ of pure, extreme emotion and lose any ability to process logic.

For instance, I discovered that one of my favourite girl bloggers is pregnant a few weeks back. She wasn't planning it and she and I had actually discussed how terrifying the thought of pregnancy is. Reaction? Psycho twin latched onto this new idea to explain her unhappiness with her body - she must be pregnant. Her body had decided to wage war on her and do something really extreme.

Now please understand that TSC and I sorted out our contraception ages ago and have been very, very careful ever since. Neither of us feel ready for children yet. But almost every month, psycho twin has a panicked moment when she supposes she might be preggers. Until the curse arrives and then sane twin steps in.

This month was infinitely worse. Sane twin should've done the smart thing and bought shares in the home pregnancy test company before psycho got going. But she didn't. And psycho went into all-out-compulsive mode, stressing and fretting and measuring and imagining. She's a bit stupid, this twin, because she doesn't talk to anyone about her panic. She just carries on, dragging the weight of her crazy illusions with her in a constant blind stress-fest.

Thankfully, her period arrived at long last. Relieved as she was, this meant that she needed to find another reason to explain why her body won't behave the way she wants it to. And her thoughts turned once again to those severe methods that might beat it into submission.

Sane twin continues to resist these compulsions towards self-abuse. Fortunately her strength is enough to hold her twin back from taking action. Even if she can't make her stop thinking about it. That's something, isn't it?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

200th Post

Yep... This is my 200th post on this blog. It came a lot faster than the 100th post. Happiness ;-)

But also a bit of sadness... I lost a follower today. *sniff*

Concentrating on the happy stuff though - tomorrow is Friday!

Here's a funny for you:

How to make twins...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Weary Wednesday

It's only the middle of the week, people! How can this be? Is the universe and all its cretins conspiring against me to tie me down in a tangled web of incompetence and inefficiency, tied neatly with a bow of bereaucracy and ignorance?


What has set me off this time, you may be wondering? Is the infamous UJ? Surprisingly, no. Although that paragon of patheticness has given me grief this week. But that's a whole other rant on its own...

No, my friends, the culprit this time is far more sinister, with scaley arms and metallic claws that reach even further afield... it's TELKOM.

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have experienced the mammoth uselessness of South Africa's archaic telecommunications (non)service provider, the utility is widel-known locally by its well-earned and appropriate nickname, Hellkom. In fact, there is an entire parody site dedicated to Hellkom here.

So what did they do this time?

About three or four weeks ago, TSC and I took a trip to our local Telkom Direct outlet to get our landline sorted out. Our mission was simple: to get the line that had previously been in the house re-activated in our name.


An hour and a bit later, the dreadlocked dude who was "assisting us" finally finished up the paperwork and told us our line would be active within 48 hours.

Surprisingly, it was. Only it was a different number to the one that had been operating from the house previously. We didn't give it much thought and happily informed family and friends that we had a new home number.

Just over a week later, the line went dead. There'd been a big storm, so we figured it was that. But it wasn't. See, somehow, Telkom had managed to give us a number that already belonged to someone else - an IT company in a nearby mall.


So TSC went in to the shop to sort it out. "No" they told him, "It's in your wife's name, so she must do it. Tell her to call this number and they'll help her."

K... I called that number about 50 million times. Okay, slight exaggeration, but it was a lot. Eventually I got through to the waiting line. I waited for five minutes or so and was given the option of a call-back (you leave your number, they call you when an operator becomes available). But nobody ever called me back.

So this morning I called again. After answering many questions or varying relevance, I was told that they have no record of my application and that I have to go and start the whole bloody process again.

Can. You. Believe. It?

Please note, Slyde, that there is no mention of sunburn in this post. So I hope you can relate now.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

More sunburn and some yummy Mythos

If my sunburn on Saturday wasn't bad enough, I decided to work in the garden in my bikini on Sunday morning. Seeing it was quite early and it looked like it was going to rain, I reckoned I wouldn't need sunblock. See, I figured I'd only be busy for about half an hour before rain set in.

Instead, the sun came up, I got so involved in planting a new bed that I forgot the time and I ended up with a luminous pink back and my usual pale white front. I actually took a picture, but decided for your sake not to post it here.

It didn't hurt until Sunday evening, when it started to be all hot and prickly. But now it hurts like hell on my one shoulder (the other one mysteriously remains pristine white) and I struggled to sleep last night, especially seeing TSC kept creeping onto my side of the bed and (unintentionally) elbowing me in my sunburn.

If that wasn't bad enough, my cats decided that they'd investigate my bathroom cupboard and ended up knocking my make-up foundation off the counter so that it shattered on the floor, waking us up with a huge fright.

Cleaning up base is no fun. Especially early in the morning when you should be asleep.

Needless to say, I'm a bit bleary-eyed this morning. And I'm running out of clothes that don't chafe my sunburn.

Sunday afternoon I ended up wearing a sleeveless poloneck shirt so that my mother wouldn't yell at me for getting burnt. Normally I practically bath in sunblock before I go out thanks to her training.

It was her birthday and we went to a restaurant called Mythos in Bedfordview. There's actually one in Design Quarter in Fourways, which is much closer, but my mom had been to the Bedfordview one and loved it, so she booked there for her birthday lunch.

As the name suggests, it's a Greek restaurant. The decor is gorgeous - walls lined with stacked white pebbles and tables with holes in the centre that had (very pretty) fake olive trees "growing" out of them. It looks much better than I'm making it sound, I promise.

My mom's best friend Anne shared a meze platter for two with me. Kleftethes (Greek meatballs), lamb and chicken souvlaki (kebabs), prawns, grilled calamari, yiro (thin-sliced beef strips), tzatziki (cucumber and yoghurt dip), taramosalata (fish roe dip) and pita bread. Yum! So good.

For dessert I had the grilled halva topped with peach, which was sublime. When our budget is less stretched, TSC and I will have to try the one that's nearer to us and see if it's as good. That's something to look forward to ;-)

The lunch went well and my mom liked her prezzies. Now... to figure out the next gift for the anniversary...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Sushi and sunburn

What a cool weekend it was. Well, not literally. We finally had some sun, and of course I wasn't prepared for it and toasted my fair Irish skin to an alarming shade of pink.

But let me backtrack to the beginning of the weekend... Friday evening, TSC and I decided to try the Japanese restaurant down the road from us called Tsuyu for an early supper. It had been highly recommended to us and seeing we were both really hungry, we liked the fact that it was so close. At 6.30pm it was already packed, and we could only get a table on the sidewalk, which wasn't ideal, but we decided we'd put up with the nosy shoppers checking out our food as they passed for the sake of some good sushi.

They have some interesting things on the menu - proper Japanse dishes, not just the tame version South Africans are used to. TSC decided he'd like a hot meal and went for a rice dish topped with pork and egg. I thought it was really good, except that it arrived 30 minutes before my sushi did!

By the time my food arrived, TSC had tired of trying to be polite and had stopped waiting for me. He'd long polished off his rapidly-cooling food when my sushi eventually appeared. And it was the wrong order, so back it went.

When the correct order eventually made it to the table, I was so hungry it probably would've tasted like heaven-sent manna even if it had been old and soggy. But that said, it wasn't. My tuna nigiri was fresh and super-yummy. The crab California rolls were average, but my deep-fried-chicken California rolls (apprently for those who want to try sushi without the "eww" factor of raw fish) were a delicious surprise.

But all in all, I think we'll stick to the other Pinslopes sushi restaurant. I can't remember it's name, but it's next to Billy the BUM's and it's the best sushi I've had in Joburg. Plus, Tuesdays are buy two plates get one free. Yum!

Saturday was a spontaneous day - we had promised to entertain our British friend Ephraim from church, who has been in SA since Nov 08 and has yet to see any of the sights. He doesn't have transport and hadn't told us that he had been spending weekends and evenings sitting home alone. So we took him to the Joburg Zoo along with our friends A and R. Off we went, with a picnic packed for afterwards.

We had a cool time walking around, eating snow cones and trying to spot the animals (most of which were hiding in dark corners from the hot noon sun). But I must say, the zoo was way cooler when I was a kid. We had a picnic at zoo lake afterwards and I realised I'd once agian managed to get a weird-shaped sunburn. It looks like someone drew a semi-circle on my shoulder in sunblock, coz I'm burnt everywhere but there. Bizarre!

Then it was off to my boss's birthday drinks with Ephraim (poor boy) in tow, where we were accosted by several hammered people who each tried to convince us to do Jager-bombs with them. No thanks - hate Red Bull, hate Jagermeister. Not going to happen!

And then we went to see Rock n Roller, Guy Ritchie's latest film. It's not up to the standards of Snatch (one of my favourite movies ever). But since divorcing Madonna, it does seem like Ritchie is back on track and this flick way infinitely better than Revolver.

Anyone else seen it? It so, I'd love to hear what you thought. And your favourite quote form the film. Mine must be Johnny Quid: "Don't worry. He can't defend himself - he's got no head."

Still giggling over that one.