Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy 2nd blogoversary to me!

And happy Halloween to you.

Seeing the week has got even better *sarcasm*because my boss has not paid me my full salary (she's paid part of it, late, and says the rest will get paid on Mon), I reckon we celebrate both occasions with this yummy cake:

Want a piece?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Lost - episode two

I had the chat with Lost yesterday. It was so hard - I hate confrontations like this! I took some herbal calming pills beforehand and said some prayers.

In between writing yesterday's post and the chat, he managed to frustrate me even further by calling TSC to ask him to fetch him from his business meeting and then not being there when TSC arrived and by telling he'd like to visit some church on Sunday morning (meaning that I would have to take him there).

When I got home, I sat him down and explained that while I don't want to hurt or offend him , I believe in honesty and that if I don't get stuff off my chest, I will end up resenting him , which will ruin the friendship or whatever is left of it. I asked him to give me my turn to speak before he replied.

I said that I find it strange that I don't hear from him for six years and then suddenly he thinks we're best friends and invites himself to stay for a week. I also said that while I had offered for him to stay the night, I hadn't expected that to include transporting him, feeding him, trying to fit him into our social engagements and the various other complications that had arisen.

I underlined that TSC is writing exams and how it's a stressful time for us and said that I actually feel a bit used and taken for granted - that I feel my time is not being respected.

I added that it's not fair on TSC to bring a strange man he's never met into his house for a week with no notice and that the way Lost interacts with me is sometimes inappropriate. The fact that we have both changed a lot since we were last in contact and that things are different now was also a point I tried to underline.

I think I was as sensitive as I could be, but still totally honest about my feelings.

He took it better than expected. He thanked me for being honest and said he wasn't hurt or offended. He did manage to get a few tears and digs in, about the fact that I had invited him in and now was moaning about it (to which I replied that I had invited him to spend the night and hadn't realised that would mean a week of transporting him, lending him money and stressing about how to shuffle my life around).

He offered to clear out immediately if I didn't "want him around" *sniff, sniff* (trying to manipulate me into feeling even worse). I said he was welcome to spend another night, but that I didn't think it would be appropriate for him to tag along to our social function as he had previously said he would (it was WineX - the annual wine tasting festival) because he's a recovering alcoholic. I don't want to be the one that helped him fall off the wagon and I told him that straight.

He said fine and that he'd be seeing a friend instead. Later, when we were all having an early supper, I said if his friend's place was on our way we could drop him off. Turned out the friend lives past Clearwater Mall, which is miles and miles in the opposite direction from the Sandton Convention Centre, where WineX is held. He said he'd take a taxi. I gave him my set of keys, with strict instructions to lock the doors when he left.

When we returned from WineX and coffee with friends afterwards, it was past midnight. As we arrived, I could see that every single light was on downstairs - the ones in the kitchen, dining room, lounge, loo, patio... even the ones we never use. The stair lights were also on and upstairs, his bedroom light and bathroom light were on.

The front door was open. The back door was open. The veranda door was open. His wallet and my keys were lying on the table outside. Very secure!

He was fast asleep upstairs, with a pillow over his head (I wonder if he's scared of the dark?) and obviously hadn't bothered to turn off lights or lock up. It was apparent that he hadn't been out (I now think it's becuase he didn't have taxi money).

This morning I made coffee for Lost and myself (TSC had left for varsity to write a test) and asked him about his plans for today, seeing we leave for my folks this afternoon and I had no intention of leaving him my keys again.

He told me that *sniff, sniff* he'd be moving across to the guest house where he'd be staying for the rest of the time. Refusing to let the guilt wear me down and make me offer for him to stay I simply said, "Ok. Where is it?" In Bryanston. Seeing it's near where I work, I offered to drop him off, which would mean that I wouldn't have to leave him alone without knowing if he'd lock up after himself.

I then told him that I need the money he borrowed back (it's not actually mine - it's from the church to use for an outreach event and was the only cash I had in the house at the time). He said fine, I should just stop at an ATM.

When we stopped, he withdrew money and climbed back into the car. "Here's R180," he said. "But you borrowed R400," I said. "R350 for the cab and R50 extra."

He said that he was expecting money to be deposited into his account today and that I should send him my bank details and he'd do a transfer. Not sure how he plans to pay for his stay at the guest house. I was too emotionally drianed to make a big fuss about thought and just left it at that.

I dropped him at the lodge. And instantly I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I hope I don't have to pay the money back out of my own pocket and that he actually does the cash transfer, but even if I do - at least I don't have a frustrated TSC and a strung-out me anymore!

Have a good weekend, all. It's my second blog birthday tomorrow (and Halloween), so cheers all around!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Horrible week continued

I am in slight shock this morning.

Awhile ago (in my baby rant post) I said someone I haven't spoken to in six-odd years called me out of the blue. Let's call him Lost, because he is rather.

Well, he called again yesterday morning at about 10am and said he was in Joburg. He wanted me to visit him at the airport (which is miles and miles away from where I live). I said that unfortunately I had plans (true - I have some freelance work that's on deadline that I need to finish urgently). I said maybe next time and that he should give me more notice. And off he went.

Then at about 4.45 yesterday afternoon he called and said he had flown back to Durban, but that he was flying to Joburg again (that's right - two sets of flights to the same destination in one day) and that he'd be staying to Tuesday. I said that maybe we could make a plan to see each other at some point. I explained that this is a bit of a mental week as TSC and I had plans for Wed (church small group at our house), Thurs, Fri (going away to my folks), Sat and Sun night, but that I was sure we could work something out.

I then made mistake number 1: asking where he was staying. No idea, he said. I stupidly followed this with mistake number 2: doing the socially correct thing and saying that he was welcome to "crash at our place tonight" if he needed to, although we would be busy.

"Great!" he said. "Can you pick me up from the airport tonight?" I repeated that I had church small group and explained that I couldn't pick him up. He decided to take a taxi.

He arrived during life group, while we were trying to finish up in prayer. He didn't have cash on him, so I had to pay R350 for his taxi. Thankfully I had money on me for a change - I normally don't seeing I use my debit card. He also hadn't eaten on the plane, so I fed him supper.

He keeps acting like we're still in high school (I met him when I was in grade 11, eight or nine years ago) and kicking me in the bottom or nudging me with his hip and alluding to in-jokes that I can't remember from almost a decade ago. To him, it's like nothing has changed. But it has - I've grown up, moved on and have my own life and family now.

Bear in mind that while he and I were never romantically involved (although he was interested, I wasn't), TSC has never met him, so you can imagine how upsetting it is for him to have this male stranger who used to have a crush on me turn up at his house with no notice. Especially seeing that Lost seems to have decided to stay until Tuesday.

He helped himself to breakfast this morning - TSC's lunch. He has no transport, so TSC had to drop him off at the company he's doing business with this morning. He has also invited himself along to the event we're attending with our friends this evening, despite the fact that I booked tickets ages ago and invited a select group of friends I want to spend time with. Now I'll end up babysitting him instead.

I know that I need to talk to him and get things straight. If I don't, we'll be his personal hotel and butler service every time he's in the city. But I do have a history of friendship with him and he is at heart a nice person. He just has no social skills.

I don't want to kick him out on the street, but at the same time, I shouldn't have to be responsible for him - he's an adult and as I've said, I haven't seen him in six years, so I'm feeling really used and abused and it's not fair on TSC.

Lost has no boundaries. He never has. And his lack of respect for my time was not so much a problem when we were kids. But it's not ok now.

I get the shakes when I think of the conversation I have to have with him this afternoon and I feel on the brink of tears. But it has to be done.

I called one of my best friends (who introduced me to Lost years ago and knows him better than I do) and asked her advice on the situation.

She agreed that I need to sit him down and explain the situation and tell him that it's not ok for him to stay. She advised that I make sure I tellit from my point of view and not make out that it's TSC that's upset, becuase he'll just take it that TSC has "turned me against him and ruined our friendship". That's fine by me, because I think I am more upset than TSC is. TSC is just mad. I am mad, hurt, offended and generally not feeling good vibes towards Lost. I just need to be sensitive. Yet unshakeable. Because he will try to manipulate me emotionally.

I think it helped to talk to my friend about it though and have her validate my feelings. Becuase my Catholic upbringing is throwing a world of guilt at me and I haven't even done the deed yet!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The keys to keeping us frustration-free

So the garage saga is sorted out. We have new locks on both doors and spare sets of keys for each. It has been an expensive little exercise.

The thing is, I really should have gone and had the keys cut myself instead of nagging TSC to do it. Brilliant as he is at DIY, keeping me warm and taking out the garbage (among other things), he is USELESS with keys.

The other day at varsity, he spent ages stressing out because he thought he'd lost his car keys. He unpacked his bag three or four times, checked his pockets over and over and retraced his path a few times.

Then he found them in his lunch bag with the remnants of his sandwich.

Another day, he borrowed the keys for the squash courts to have a game with a friend. At UJ, if you get the keys, you have to hand your student card in to the keeper in exchange. So when he wanted to get his student card back, he started hunting for the keys. He hunted. And hunted. And stressed. And unpacked the bag, checked the car etc, etc. Do you know where he eventually found them?

On his head.

No lies. He had put them in his cap so as not to lose them, and when he stuck it back on his head, the keys were still inside. I dunno how he walked around all day without feeling them there.

Funny man. He once also left our car keys on the backseat of my parents' car after we'd been out with them. They left for a holiday the next day with our keys still in their car. We had to borrow their other car for the week.

In short, I think I should be the keeper of the keys. I tend to lose tickets and jewellery, not keys. So TSC should keep those (Well, not so much the jewellery. Most of my earrings suit me better) ;-)

So my dears, that I have decided is one of the keys to keeping us argument-free. Har har har... yuk, yuk, yuk.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


TSC has managed to lose our one and only set of garage keys. I have been telling him for ages to get spares cut. I guess now that we have to change the whole freaking lock (having broken in to the garage from the back window), at least we will have more than one set.

Also, the web-based system I use to capture data for one of my clients is "experiencing technical problems". Basically, I typed out a whole bunch of info into the millions of separate data fields and then when I tried to save it, it failed and everything is lost.

NOT in a good mood.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Singing cats and search terms

How was your weekend? The highlight of mine was seeing CATS at the Teatro at Montecasino. Most of the "cats" had incredible voices and when they harmonised I got goosebumps. I was also impressed by the fact that they could keep perfect pitch and rythm while dancing like mad things. It was great.

TSC didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did. Although he said the second half was much better, once I'd explained to him what was happening. Before that, he said it was just "people running around onstage wearing cat ears". Shame. The fact that some of the actors didn't annunciate very clearly meant that if you didn't know the storyline, you might get a bit lost. The lyics are all-important.

Those people in cat ears did a far better job than our two looney felines who thought they'd wake us up with a pre-dawn serenade / fight with our neighbour's cat this morning.

Anyway, my brain has not yet kicked into gear (I use dup most of its reserve fuel summarising two of TSC's subjects and teaching them to him this weekend), so I'm copping out on writing anything sensible and leaving you with some bizarre search terms that have led people to this blog recently. Some I vaguely understand, but others...

  • climates in africa in swaps hot or cold (huh?)
  • mxit pics Sorry - you won't find those here!
  • a song the words which have not gone bad (Hate to disappoint you, but most song lyrics suck these days)
  • what era is the side ponytails and leggings (You obviously weren't around in the 80s)
  • milky lane ice cream cakes midlands (When you find one, can I have some of your ice cream cake from the Midlands?)
  • how have boarding schools changed in south africa (Most of them haven't.)
  • clients that dont understand PR (You poor thing... have a quiet cry here. I feel your pain.)

Have a fabulous week everyone!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday and minor panic

It's Friday! And it's 23 October! And that means it's only eight weeks till Christmas! Eeep!

Ok, enough exclamation marks. They are exhausting. *wipes sweat from brow with dramatic gesture*

I'm so glad it's the weekend (it has been a boring week). But at the same time, I'm freaking out that I don't have another weekend completely free until... next year. Good grief! (ok, one more exclamation mark)

That's a bit hectic.

It's all (mostly) good stuff. But still. I like spontaneity. And this is not leaving much room for it.

But, in happy news... We're going to see CATS this weekend. Yeah! (oops - again) I'm so keen. The church is taking us as a thank you for the work we do on the ushering team. Other than that, TSC is getting tutored in maths by a friend and then I'll be drilling him on two other subjects (communication and management) in preparation for another hectic week of tests and exams.

I'm hoping to have some garden time too. My soul needs it.

right now I'm bopping along to some awesome 80s and 90s hits on the giant exercise ball I use at my desk instead of a chair. Lionel Ritchie, Cyndi Lauper, Richard Marx and Belinda Carlisle. Woo hoo... I wonder how long I can bounce with my feet not touching the ground before I fall over?

Hah... Just answered that question. Not long.

Have a fabulous weekend, super people! (one last exclamation road for the road)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Little bits and pieces

Is it just me or is Blogger's scheduled post function not working so well? Very frustrating.

Another of my friends has started a blog for the first time ever. This brings the total of people I know IRL that have recently started blogging to three over as many months. I like to pretend that this is because of the influence I exert on them. Visit Brett and give him some comment love, please. He also knows Helen IRL. That further boosts his credibility ;-)

I remember when I first started blogging (which will be two years ago next weekend). I wasn't quite sure why I was doing it and I sure as hell didn't have a clue how it worked. I struggled on for awhile before I discovered the fairly close-knit SA blogging community and other international blogs worth reading. And I struggled even after that to get people to interact with me on my blog. Now I love that I have blogs I read daily and people that I consider as friends, even if we've never met, that I found on the blogosphere.

So when I discover a "fledgling blog" (as my other IRL new-blogger friend Live Strong calls his), I feel like I want to help that person reach the nice space in blogging and get over that "is anyone else out there?" phase ASAP.

Is this making any sense?

Anyway, having read through all the comments on yesterday's post about bartering, I think I am going to host a "swap circle" early next year (so we can include the Christmas presents we don't want along with anything else we want to swap - books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, accessories, food, furniture... whatever). I'm still slightly uncertain of the idea, so some affirmation and interest from you lot would be greatly appreciated. Also ideas on logistics.

Right, I've run out of random (for now). Off to read some of yours.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Back to bartering

I am a serious believer in the barter system. You know - trading good or services instead of money. TSC and I barter whenever we get the chance.

We traded yummy lamb from TSC's family farm for our TV unit (not a bad deal, I must say). I swap organic veggies from my garden with my neighbour in exchange for salted butter from her husband's business. I also trade plants and clothes with my mom and swap home-grown spinach with mushrooms from my friend's mother who does cooking promotions for a mushroom farm. We have bachelor friends who come over to tutor TSC in various varsity subjects in exchange for a hot meal from my kitchen. It really works for us.

I'd love to take it to the next level, somehow. Not one red paperclip level, but the next level. I had a dream that we did a home swap with someone from abroad for a few weeks. It was great in my dream. And Po and I are thinking maybe we should trade places for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, seeing she reckons it would be cool to be in South Africa and I'm over the hype already.

I remember when I was a kid we used to trade stickers. And Magic Diaper Baby figurines (does anyone else remember those rather scary-looking plastic babies with the nappies that would change colour in cold water?).

So as adults, I reckon we should hold a trade-off for unwanted Christmas presents after the event. Who's in? I get hand towels from my grandparents every year, if anyone is desperate for a pair? ;-)

Have a good Wednesday.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

People who don't think

Between my hyperactive felines and the bloody peacocks, I didn't get much sleep last night. I don't function well sans sleep, so if none of this makes any sense, sorry. I am also fairly grumpy.

I think I just get frustrated with people who can't seem to think before they do or say something. Case in point, awhile back, my debit card started to give me issues. It was so ancient that the bit where you sign your name had worn off almost completely. So I went into the bank (which I hate doing). Nedbank has decided to simplify life and save us all time by creating a dedicated "collections counter" where people can simply pop in and pick up their cards or get a new one.

Hah! I have never waited for less than 30 minutes in this "fast" queue. On this occasion, it was no different. When I eventually got to the front, I explained my case and the woman behind the counter let me choose a new card. The actual process only took about 10 minutes. And off I went on my way.

The next day, I withdrew cash from the ATM only to discover that the card had been linked to the wrong account! Thankfully it was just linked to my other Nedbank account, not someone else's. But I still had to go back to the bank on Saturday morning (when it's busiest) and go through the whole process again. If the woman had simply checked which account she was about to link the card to, none of this would have happened.


Second case in point, we have a client that pays us to do PR for a specific campaign that's running. Our contact person on that end is seriously lacking in the grey matter. She calls yesterday to ask for a list of all the media placements to date. But she hasn't signed off any media releases. Which means we haven't sent them out. Which means there are no placements as yet.

One of our other clients (we do publicity for him. He's supposedly a South African celebrity, although I had no clue who he was before I met him) phoned the other day to ask my boss if she has his ID number. How do you get past the age of 30 and not take responsibility for things like this yourself? One of the other "celebs" called and asked for his own bank details. It's insane.

We have one client who phoned us after leaving our offices to tell us she was lost and ask us where she was. So we asked the logical question - what landmarks can you see or what road are you on? The answer - "I dunno... I'm at an Engen Petrol Station."

How many Engen filling stations are there in Johannesburg? Lots! And surely it would make more sense to ask someone there where you are instead of phoning us and expecting us to guess?

Apparently not.

Deep breaths, Tamara...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Happiness and

*happy sigh*

It was a good weekend. TSC and I went to one of the nicest weddings we've ever attended and danced so that my feet still ache three days later. We met new people and watched our amazing friends celebrate the decision to spend their lives together. We ate good food and marvelled at the beauty of the venue. We plotted to kill their annoying peacocks (seriously - how is it that wherever I go there are damn noisy peacocks around?!) and took countless photos.

We spent time with my folks over a relaxed Sunday lunch and caught up on their news and snippets from their Russian trip. We enjoyed the sunshine and some great wine and talked for hours.

We studied TSC's varsity subjects together (anyone want to know about the different bedding classes for laying drainage pipes? No? Didn't think so) and watched the F1 race.

Well done to Jenson Button on tying up the driver's championship and Brawn for taking the constructors'. And, of course, well done to my boy Hamilton for driving from 18th place to a 3rd place podium finish.

And, finally, I got hold of my package from Kalahari that I ordered with my birthday voucher from Angel and Glug, which has been awaiting collection from the Post Office.

So exciting to get a package in the post! Made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning, even though I knew what was inside the box. I got a small bird guide (so I can figure out which birds my cats keep trying to kill), a LIVE CD, and... the book I have been hankering after since it was published, Jane's Delicious Garden.

For those of you who are not gardeners, excuse me while I sing the praises of this fantastic book. It's rare for me to find a non-fiction work that speaks to my soul, but this one does. Nerdy as that sounds. See, most gardening books are quite factual, scientific and logical and they seem to miss the absolute magic of watching things grow and the way a green garden produces peace. Jane Griffiths understands this.

She writes logically and factually, but the pages are also filled with gardening quotes, personal anecdotes and an underlying passion. From the first sentences, where she tells of how she used to pull carrots from the ground, wash them under the garden tap and enjoy them right there in her grandfather's garden (which is exactly what I would do in my grandpa's garden), I have been captivated.

I can't wait to get some reading time this evening!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Off to download my photos and get some Monday admin (yuck) over with. Have a good one!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pic post

Firstly, here are the long awaited hail images...
A hail stone in the palm of my hand

TSC pointing at the hail (in case I hadn't noticed it)

To show the scale...

And my feline creatures, just because they're gorgeous:

Sapphire, imitating a rubber band

Marble, giving me his opinion of my photography (the cat version of the middle finger)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Climate Change in South Africa

So it's Blog Action Day today. And the theme is Climate Change this year. While it's an important global issue, I want to look at it from a South African perspective. First, a definition. Borrowed from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's (DEAT) Climate Change webpages.

The climate of the Earth is always changing and several centuries ago the causes of this change would have been primarily natural in origin. Nowadays, although natural changes in the climate continue do occur, the term 'climate change' is generally used when referring to changes in the Earth's climate which have been identified since the early part of the 1900s. Many of the causes of these changes are related to humanity's emissions of 'greenhouse gases'.

According to WWF, South Africa uses 40 % of the total electricity consumed within Africa. Most of this electricity (79%) is coal-generated, which is not only a major factor in greenhouse gas emissions, but also creates acid rain.

South African electricity is one of the cheapest in the world (although Eskom seems hellbent on changing that), which means that we've often taken it for granted and not been particularly conscious of the need to conserve energy. WWF points out that South Africa is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gas CO2 in the world, especially when emission per capita is considered.
One would think that in a country that has so much sun, we'd be maximising on solar power, but to date this has not been the case. See, in comparison to our cheap coal power, every other form of energy (wind, solar, hyrdoelectric etc) seems incredibly expensive.

According to DEAT, possible changes we'll see in SA in the next 50 years if we don't do something about our greenhouse gas emissions are as follows:

  • Potential reduction of approximately 5-10% of current rainfall
  • Increased daily maximum temperatures in summer and autumn in the western half of the country
  • Increased incidents of drought and flood
  • Enhanced temperature inversions exacerbating air pollution problems

That all sounds like stuff we've heard before. But there's also stuff we haven't stopped to consider yet. Like the fact that climate change in South Africa might create a shift in the malaria areas and increase the number of people exposed to the disease.

Another sobering quote from DEAT:

Maize production (in SA) contributed to 71% of grain production during 1996. To meet the increasing food demand, agriculture has to expand by approximately 3% annually. Under the climate scenario that predicts a hotter drier climate, maize production will decrease by approximately 10-20% over the next 50 years, and
speciality crops grown in specific environmentally favourable areas may also be at risk. An increase in pests and diseases would also have a detrimental effect on the agricultural sector, and invasive plants could possibly become a greater problem.

So not only will we be be short of water, experiencing droughts and floods and finding an increase in pests and disease, we'll probably also lose tourism business, find plants and animals becoming extinct more quickly and lose huge revenue in the farming sector, among other industries.

All sounds miserable, no? That's because the situation is rather dire, truth be told. BUT (there's always a but) there are ways you and I can help to make a change. And some of them are so simple, it would be a crime not to try.

Visit the WWF page on how to lesson your environmental impact for great tips to use at work, at home, in the garden, in politics, when you're out shopping etc. You can also use the carbon footprint calculator to see what your personal damage is.

And here are a few easy things you can do to make a difference, no matter where in the world you live:

  1. Swap your light bulbs for eco-friendly compact fluorrescent light bulbs. Accoridng to WWF, you can save up to 70kg of carbon dioxide a year by doing this.
  2. Recycle! you'd be amazed at what is actually recyclable. Aside from paper, glass and cans, you can also recycle some plastics, including polystyrene. Here's a list of recyling depots in major cities in SA.
  3. Walk, ride your bike, start a lift club or use public transport instead of driving whenever you get the chance. Hopefully this will be easier once the Gautrain and integrated public transport solutions are in place in SA.
  4. Drink tap water rather than bottled water where possible. It takes 3 litres of water and lots of carbon dioxide to produce one litre of bottled water.
  5. Keep your tyres at the correct pressure. This will help you save fuel, which means saving money and less CO2.
  6. Use less hot water. Make sure you have a low-flow showerhead and wash your clothes in warm or cold water rather than hot.
  7. Pick products with less packaging!
  8. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. And that means OFF not STANDBY.
  9. Take local holidays every other year. Driving and flying to far flung destinations regularly will up your carbon footprint exponentially.
  10. Don't print out emails / documents unless you need to. And use recycled paper where you can.

Please feel free to add your own green living / CO2-cutting measures in the comments.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Overshare and other stuff

Forgot the camera again. Pics of hail tomorrow, k? Have set a reminder on my phone. Also, am guest posting over at Damaria's blog, STORYPOT, today. My topic is how to stay professional while working from home. So feel free to have a read.

Feeling slightly green around the gills this morning. We went to our favourite sushi joint last night for their Tuesday night special. The sushi was fab, as usual. Except for this one piece of nigiri. I don't even know what kind of fish it was. It looked kind of like tuna, but it was not. It tasted really fishy and had a revolting aftertaste. TSC and I both had a piece and nearly hurled. We quickly washed it down with our drinks and one of the yummier pieces of sushi. But you know when you've eaten something that makes you feel sick to your stomach and there's just no feeling better until it's out of there?

I felt so nauseous, even long after we arrived home. Eventually I decided better out than in and up it came. The thing is, I didn't even have to stick my finger down my throat or anything. I had a lot of practise throwing up during my eating disorder days and this seems to be a skill I have retained. Charming, hey?

My stomach felt instantly better, but my mind was turning. I instantly began lecturing myself in my head, telling myself that just because it's so easy doesn't mean that it's a good idea and that those were awful years that I don't want to revisit.

And it's true. Those destructive habits were hellishly hard to break and took years of therapy, prayer (thanks, Mom) and all sorts of treatment, but they're gone now and I don't miss them.

I think though that there will always be a part of me that looks for the easy way to look how I'd like to. Jenty recently wrote a post about a new slimming drug on the market and it made me realise that this problem affects so many women.

There's such a drive to be thinner, have no cellulite and to never look old that women will try almost anything to get there - no matter the consequences. It's tragic.

Yes, it's great to try to be healthy. If that means losing weight through healthy eating and targeted exercise, awesome. But trust me - it's not worth compromising your health to be slimmer. Bulimia left me some scars, and I got off lucky. It could have been far worse. Anorexia with purging got me to my goal weight. But guess what? It didn't make me feel any better. And it still wasn't enough. Do you know that I was proud when someone pointed out to me that my spine was starting to stick out like a skeleton? That is not healthy. In any way.

Wow... this post got way more deep and ouchy than I was expecting it too. Sorry about that.

What I'm really trying to say is that we have to fight for balance. I don't know if we'll ever get there. I know despite my recovery, there are still days when I struggle. And I'm still not 100% happy with my body. But then, I don't know many people who are in that lucky place. I can say that it's a helluva lot better in this middleground than out there on the edge. So I plan to stay here.

Anyone going to come and camp with me?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Goodness gracious, great balls of ice!

Yesterday evening the northern suburbs of Jozi got hit with a hail storm like none I've ever seen. The hail pieces were like ice cubes. They set off car alarms and made the roads a nightmare. My heart goes out to any pedestrians who had the misfortune of getting caught in that. I actually took pics of the chunks of ice to show you how big they were, but in true Tamara fashion, forgot the camera at home today. Will try to post them later in the week.

I think there's a storm brewing in the office too, but we won't get into that here.

I have so much admin to do at the moment - my CC's tax, my personal tax, renewing my driver's licence, following up on some freelance stuff, sorting out a City of Joburg screw-up with my rates and taxes, church ushering admin, end-of-year budgeting... blah blah blah... I don't feel like any of it. I am not an admin fan. At all. Ever. But I'm going to try not to procrastinate anymore (haha - let's see how that goes), so off I go to try to figure out where to start.

Have a fab Tuesday, folks.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Monday randomness

I sometimes get a sneaking suspicion that Blogger's word verification displays are created by taking a dictionary of truly rude phases and scrambling them ever so slightly so they're still vaguely recognisable, but not so offensive. Seriously... the ones I get are always like two letters away from being plain disgraceful.

Randomness aside (not really), thanks for all the comments on the previous post about lurking. I found them fascinating. Just to clear things up: I do not dislike lurkers (how can I dislike you when I don't know who you are?) - it's just really awesome when people de-lurk because I discover someone new who cares enough to read this bizarre blog.

I think I started on this train of thought because I discovered the other day that my dad has been reading my posts occasionally (and lurking) over the past few weeks. This immediately made me want to check my spelling and grammar on every update. He's really interested by the whole concept of blogging and keeps asking me how things work. He asked about Twitter too. I explained as best as I could (not being a Tweeter myself). I think I shall have to take him into the back-end of Blogger to show him how things are done, because for someone who works with words all day long, I'm not very good at explaining things. But it's nice to be able to teach my dad something for a chnage, seeing I regard him as my walking encyclopaedia.

I realised again while my folks have been in Russia how much I adore them. It hasn't always been like that. We weren't particularly close when I was younger and used to have quite a stormy relationship. I've always been fiercely independent and I think I felt the need to prove that I could do things without them. But things started to change when they moved away and I went into boarding school for grade 11 and grade 12 (my choice). I began, albeit very slowly, to appreciate them more and be grateful for all they do for me, which is a helluva lot.

Since we've been living in Jozi, only half an hour's drive from them, I've come to relish spending more time with them and being closer as a family. I've really, really missed them while they've been away. And I love that we're finally in a great place in our relationship now that I'm "all grown up" (haha! whatever) and that we can do Sunday lunch together without tempers flaring or someone sulking (that was usually me as a teenager).

The fact that I started to understand what family is all about when I started boarding school (which I loved) has made me think that if I ever do spawn children, I would probably consider sending them to boarding school for the last few years of high school. Not from a young age (TSC was a boarder from age six, which I think is way too young), but just for grades 10 through to 12. Maybe.

I've had many discussions about this with friends who disagree with me (most of whom didn't go to boarding school). Now I don't believe that a parent should ever abdicate responsibility to a school for teaching children discipline, obedience and all that other good stuff, but I do think boarding school helped me to learn a few important lessons: that I wasn't the centre of the universe, that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do (like washing your own sheets and shining your school shoes) and also to appreciate my family and the time I have with them. I also had to learn how to live with people I didn't particularly get on with and I made some incredible friends.

I have friends who feel the same way and other mates who went to boarding school and hated it. I think a lot depends on personality and all that jazz. But boarding schools are really common in South Africa and while any hypothetical kids I may one day birth are looking very unlikely at present, should they one day exist, as far as I can imagine now, boarding will definitely be an option.

Or maybe I'll read back on this in 20-odd years time and laugh at myself. Who knows ;-)

K, enough brain farting for a Monday morning. Need some muesli. Bye.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Lurk: To exist unobserved or unsuspected

It's Friday! Woohoo!

I feel like I've had an unproductive week. And I hate those. I've actually got quite a lot done for the morning job, but almost nothing accomplished for my freelancing. Blegh.

Anyhoo... I have a question that often goes through my head when I'm thinking about blogging (which is often):

Why do people lurk?
I usually come up with a bunch of answers (yes, it's like a little dialogue in my head. And yes, I am fully aware that makes me sound crazy. If the straight jacket fits...). Some of the possibilities I've debated are:
  • People are voyeurs. We like to see without being seen, or read blogs without alerting anyone to our presence (I'm using the royal 'we' here despite the fact that I don't actually lurk on anyone else's blog).
  • Perhaps lurkers feel no real need to comment. This might be particularly true on a blog that gets gazillions of comments on every post. It's kinda like, "Why should I bother? Everything's already been said." Or on blogs that focus on news, sports, tech or other info stuff.
  • Maybe lurkers don't feel their comments would be funny / wise / insightful enough. I know that on some of the blogs I read, there are posts where I don't comment for this reason.
  • I guess some lurkers can't comment / interact even if they want to. I know when our internet connection was running at dial-up speed, I couldn't comment on anything becuase it kept timing out.
  • And I know that lots of lurkers don't know that lots of bloggers (like me, for example) prefer them to show themselves.

Any thoughts from any of you on lurking? Lurkers? ;-)

Well, have a fab Friday. Let's hope it goes quickly until close of business. Then things can slow down for the weekend.

Have a good one.

PS: See that pretty blue badge on the right for Blog Action Day? Dare you to join! This year's theme is Climate Change. Sign up NOW as it happens next week. Please? And thanks to Damaria for the reminder.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Random thought streaming

Here's what's going on in my head at the moment...

  • I can barely keep my eyes open. I wonder why I'm so tired? It could be the bizarre dreams I've been having. Last night's was like an episode of House. It was totally bizarre, I remember that. I can only remember bits of it though. Like desperately wanting to slap Hugh Laurie.
  • My motivation levels are somewhere between zero and nonexistent at the moment. End-of-year-itis has definitely set in. Must fight it! If only my current subject matter was more inspiring. *sigh*
  • We have peacocks in our complex again. I don't know where they're from or why they're back, but I wish they would shut up. It's hard to sleep with their persistent noise, which sounds something like a cat in labour. Hey... that may explain my first point too. Peacocks + House = no sleep.
  • Although I am so ready for a holiday, I'm freaking out a bit at how little time there is until the end of the year. We're scheduling our end-of-November weekend social events already, because there's just no time left anywhere else in this year. There are so many people I want to invite over for supper or a braai, but just no time.
  • Last night's life group was interesting. We watched a dvd on creationism versus evolution theory. Fascinating stuff. I find that people get too wound up by these things though. I mean, whatever you believe - that there was a big bang, that God created the world in seven days or some mix of those theories - the fact is that earth is here now and we live on it. I can't help but think that we shouldn't get caught up in fighting about how the earth was made, but how to take care of it now. Still, it was really cool to learn more about both theories. I think I'm still a middle-grounder - I believe God created the earth, but how He chose to do it and how old it is and all that stuff... I'm not sure.
  • Why is the first phone call of the morning always from some annoying telesales marketer? It puts a little dampener on my sunshine. I wish I didn't have to answer the phone until after 10am, when my brain is more likely to be functioning. Actually, I wish I never had to answer the phone. I am not a fan.
  • Why am I still the only one in the office this morning? Was there a public holiday someone forgot to tell me about?
  • It's time for breakfast and blog-reading. Today it's going to be strawberries and yoghurt with muesli clusters. Yum!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Taste of Joburg

Right, if I'm going to publish a moaning post (below), I will publish a "nice" post too. Keep some balance in my little universe.

I was fortunate enough to win tickets to Taste of Joburg from Glad to Be a Girl, so TSC and I headed there on Thursday night to discover some new yummies. It was good fun, although I'm not particularly keen on crowds, so we missed out on some of the more interesting meal samples because I couldn't handle standing at the overcrowded stalls for ages just trying to place an order. Patience has never been my strong point. And being my height is not fun in a crowd (I'm at armpit level).

Most of the meals we sampled (TSC and I managed to share each sample so that we could taste as many as possible) were really good. I've included the links to the recipes for the dishes we tried (those that were available) in case some of you have grand gourmet ambitions ;-)

My favourite dish at the festival was the slow-roasted springbok with a sweet potato puree, pickled beetroot and juniper jus, from Roots at Forum Homini. We opted to pay a little bit extra and have it paired with a wine, which was the 2005 Rust en Vrede Shiraz. The food was divine. The wine was divine. Together they were a match made in heaven. Drooling at the memory!

TSC's favourite was the ostrich prego roll from The Westcliff Hotel. It was pretty damn good. So tender!

Also great were:
  • The Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square's bunny chow and chisa nyama.
  • The vegetarian pasta shells from Ritrovo (although, IMO, the best thing about this restaurant is actually the opera-singing chef who entertains patrons at the restaurant venue in Pretoria).
  • The honey-glazed lamb from Piccolo Mondo at The Michaelangelo.

Not quite as great:

  • The dim sum from Koi. Not bad, just not my thing. At least I've tried it. I've heard good stuff about the restaurant, so I would consider going there and trying something else off their menu. Perhaps one of their green curries.
  • The white chocolate tiramisu from La Cucina Di Ciro. If you like tiramisu, I imagine you'd enjoy this. I'm not a fan though, so I'm not sure why I tried this dish in the first place. I did think the price was a little steep (R35 for a two-bite portion). The restuarant looks gorgeous though!
  • The crab fettuccine from The Attic. It also wasn't bad - just not what I was expecting. I think they had one of the most generous portions though, and I am still really keen to try this restuarant. The people running the stand were so friendly and it looks very cute and quaint.

I also picked up a subscription to Fresh Living magazine (at long last). I paid the normal price (R132 for a year) and got a book of crowns (the festival currency) worth R100. Great deal! Wish I'd known about it when we arrived, seeing we'd already tasted most of the dishes by the time we got to the Fresh Living / PnP stand. We had to go back into the festival and figure out how to spend our crowns. We ended up having some yummy Amarula cocktails and getting some deli meats and biltong, which made TSC happy.

All in all, we had a good time. Thanks again to Phillygirl and to the Tribeca PR folks.

Baby rant revisited

Ok... here is yesterday's rant of a post. Published due to popular demand ;-)

Wah! So frustrated with the stupid work ADSL line. It hasn't worked properly since Wed, hence the lack of a post on Fri. It's finally back up now, after they finally sent a Telkom technician to have a look. Finally. *rolls eyes*

So please forgive my lack of commenting / reading over at your blogs and my present black mood (see below). The persistent internet issues, coupled with various weekend frustrations, have left me with a personal thunder cloud over my head.

This is largely due to the fact that I seemed to spend the whole weekend being asked when I'm planning on having kids. This was probably because I was completely surrounded for most of it by couples who are either pregnant / trying to get pregnant or have recently spawned offspring of their own. And I have nothing against any of that. For real. I'm happy for you guys! Rock on! It makes me happy to see you so happy. I think you'll be brilliant parents.

And yes, your baby is gorgeous. She really, truly is. Cute little button nose and teensy tiny fingernails. But no, it doesn't make me broody. Not in the least. And I really don't appreciate the fact that you seem to pity me because of that.

*Sigh* I know I'm being totally over the top. But honestly, TSC and I were the only couple at a very couple-ish get-together that aren't planning on procreating at any point in the near future. And this seemed foreign to everyone else there. We were like Prawns in a friggin alien petting zoo - everyone felt the need to have a good old prod as to why we don't want a baby yet.

And after I had spent five hours straight of listening to conversations that revolved entirely around babies and being questioned on whether I ever see myself having kids at all (who knows? Certainly not me!), I got a phone call from a friend I haven't spoken to in six years. And the first thing he asked me (after "How are you?") was "So, you've been married awhile now... when are the kids coming?"

Poor bloke. After six years of not having chatted to him, that remark unleashed the fury of hell and I came down on him like a ton of bricks. I doubt I'll be speaking to him again in the next six years either.

I guess I just feel a little stuck in the middle at the moment. TSC and I aren't up for hectic partying with our single friends, but we're also not ready to have kidlets yet, like almost all of our married friends seem to be. Something that frustrates me enormously is the fact that once you're married, so many people seem to think kids are the immediate next step. We didn't get married because we wanted babies. We got married because we wanted to be married.

Slyde once blogged about how friendships happen in seven-year cycles. And maybe we're just at a point where we need to start finding a fewof friends who "get" where we're at, whether they're at the same place or not. Our friendship circles gradually changed when we got married, and they're probably going to change again now, seeing we're not following the same five-year plan everyone else in "our group" seems to be on.

And (now for the positive bit) that's part of why I'm so grateful for friends I've met online who are now friends IRL. If I hadn't met them online, our paths would probably never have crossed at all because we're all so different. And I LOVE that! I have online friends of different ages, creeds, job industries, races and opinions. I have blog friends who are parents to grown-up children, those who have young'uns, a bunch who are pregnant and some who are still trying to figure out if whether or not they're kids themselves. And I find that these people I've met through blogging tend to know me for who I am (probably because I routinely overshare my inner monologue on this blog) and accept me as I am, same or different.

So thanks to you all. You counsel me, you teach me, you take the piss out of me, you occasionally lecture me, you often make me laugh and you sometimes move me to cry. I treasure your honesty and I enjoy sharing your experiences. When I'm walking about with my thunder cloud over my head, I can come here to vent and then head over to your spaces to hear about what's going in your life. Which is what I'm going to do now.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Back I am!


Just wrote a looooong post, but it's all aggro and stuff, so I'm going to leave it in my drafts for a while before I decide whether to publish it or not. It's once again about babies, offspring and other people's expectations. And that's all been said before. Besides which, it's always a sensitive subject. Right now more than ever on the blogosphere.

So publish it now I will not. But read your blogs I will.

Expect a proper post tomorrow. Maybe.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

It's October! And other random and obvious observations

I can't believe it. Where has the year gone?! But I do believe I've had enough 2009, thank you very much. We can have holidays now, please. Although I must admit I'm not particularly keen to be around for the 2010 World Cup insanity next year. German tourists in socks and sandals I can deal with. But South African marketers playing the soccer card to it's death are old news already. And it's bound to get worse.

In other news, my home internet is up and still running smoothly. Seeing you can't have everything at once, the work line is now making up for things by moving at the pace of a tortoise on tranquilisers. Joy.

A dear, dear friend of mine from varisty days has just started his own blog and needs to get to know the ropes and some lovely internet folks, so please go give him some comment love over at Tittle Tattle. He and I will both appreciate it.

Taste of Joburg is tonight. Woo hoo! Bring on the yummy goodness. My stomach is growling in anticipation. Or in reaction to those Neurofen monster-pills I mentioned yesterday. Not sure which.

Right... Let me see how long it takes to publish this post on afore-mentioned super-unspeedy internet connection. Bye.