Monday, 30 November 2009
I feel like the weekend skipped me. That tends to happen when you spend the majority of your weekend in a car, I guess.
It all started on Friday afternoon. Remember I said I was going home early, having worked late the day before? Well, our genius *sarcasm* gardener, let's call him Special K, left the pedestrian gate unlocked on his way out. We have a gate kinda like this (except the small gate within the big gate is on the other side, close to the gate motor):
If you leave the pedestrian gate unlocked, it is not only unsafe as anyone can walk into your house, it is also likely that when you press the button on the remote for the gate to open, the small pedestrian gate will swing open, which is exactly what happened when I tried to leave the office. The pedestrian gate swung open and got firmly wedged in the gate motor compartment, meaning that the gate would not open or close and that we couldn't even get the motor open to switch it to manual.
Boss Chick was not at the office, so Roo and I tried to push the gate back. No luck. Being in high heels probably didn't help. I eventually called TSC who had to come and lend a manly hand. He managed to lift the gate off its tracks so we could move it backwards, out of the motor casing (now with a nice big dent in the middle), and close the pedestrain gate, which we then taped shut. Needless to say, I ended up not leaving early.
Then, in a rush to leave home for Pretoria before the Friday afternoon traffic started, with our two cats in tow (we had to take them with to my folks' house so my brother could give Sapphire her antibiotics while we were away), I grabbed the wrong handbag. We discovered this when we'd been on the road for about 25 min. We had to turn back to fetch it, seeing my phone, purse, keys etc were all in the other bag. This wouldn't have been a train smash if one of the cats hadn't decided that now would be the perfect time to have a dump. Thankfully he went in the litter box we'd brought with, but we had to drive home with the stench. Ugh.
We eventually all arrived in Pretoria intact, albeit in a bad mood, to find Gogo's stuff being loaded onto the truck. Sad stuff. I gave her the Christmas and birthday presents I'd brought with for her and realised how much I'll miss watching her open her gifts every year. She always gets so excited.
We had supper at Primi Piatti at Irene Mall and tried to get an early night. Unfortunately the felines would have none of it. They are quite used to being at my folks' place, but in the guest room downstairs. When we stay there, they get access to the veranda, lounge and kitchen, which can we shut off from the rest of the house so that we don't wake up to midnight cat fights between my two kitties and my mom's.
But because Gogo's furniture had been moved out, she was staying in the guest room and TSC and I were sleeping in my old bedroom upstairs. The cats, cooped up in such a small space during their prowling hours, were going beserk - running over the bed, meowing at the mosquitoes and generally not letting us sleep.
Needless to say, when we got up at 6.15am, I was not in a happy place. At 7am, my folks, Gogo and I climbed into my parents' double-cab bakkie (pick-up) and started the trek to Ladysmith. We stopped for breakfast along the way and then met up with the furniture truck at Van Reenen's Pass. We reduced speed so that it could follow us to Gogo's new house.
The house is gorgeous. I am so proud of her and glad that when I'm missing her I'll be able to picture her there. Family members and friends gathered around to help unload the truck, which took all of 20 minutes. I snapped photos and followed Gogo on a tour of the house and garden area (not yet planted because there's currently no fence and the goats will eat anything green within minutes) and listened to her plans.
Her sister's daughter died last year, leaving five children behind. Gogo's lazy sister, Florence, has done nothing to help them, so Gogo has met with social workers to arrange food and clothing, and plans to build a small traditional house for the children on her property so that she can care for them. She's incredible.
Then it was time to say goodbye. 25 years of knowing someone and you have five minutes to say farewell without knowing when you'll next see them. Somehow unfair.
I waited my turn, wanting to be last, because I knew I would need silent time in the car to stop crying afterwards.
How do you tell someone with words about the impact she's made on your life or how knowing her has made you a better person? How do you say 25 years' worth of thank yous, I love yous and goodbye all at once?
I don't think I did a very good job. But we cried together, with her laughing even as she held back tears, and hugged each other tightly. And then I got back in the car and waved out the window as she and her family grew smaller and smaller as the distance grew. As we pulled back onto the highway, I sent her a text message from my phone:
Gogo, I love you and I am so proud of you in your beautiful new house. I hope I see you again soon! I will miss you.
We eventually arrived in Durban at about 2.30 and visited the site where my folks are building their retirement home. It's now half a house and things are moving quickly. The plans have been altered so many times because of city council regulations changing and the house is no longer what they originally wanted, but it's looking good nevertheless.
After that, TSC watched the rugby on TV while I snoozed at the B&B. Then we went out for a meal at Musgrave Centre, which brought back floods of school memories. TSC and I watched Shadowlands, a 1993 movie with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, which we both enjoyed.
On Sunday we had breakfast at the B&B and set off on the road again. We stopped in Howick to see my granddad and Lilly for tea. After that it was back in the car again. We continued for what felt like forever, punctuating our journey with a stop to pick up drinks and then, much later, at about 5pm, a stop in some dodgey corner of Benoni for suspect Chinese food. When we eventually arrived in Pretoria, TSC and I packed up the cats and our bags and got into our own car to drive back to Joburg.
This morning I feel like it should be Friday. I always forget how exhausting doing nothing for hours on end while stuck in a car can be.
Have a good week, all.
Friday, 27 November 2009
- TSC and I watched dvds again last night to give me some time to make more jewellery. We saw The Hangover and Management. Meh. Management was ok. It was sweet but nothing special, IMO. The Hangover was daft. And long. I still have no idea why everyone told us it was so awesome. I was expecting TSC to enjoy it, but he reckons it was stupid.
- I spent some time playing Free Rice, the vocab game, yesterday. I don't think I've played in about two years. It's such an easy way to kill time and it's totally addictive, but you can feel good about yourself because for every answer you get right, the site sponsors donate 10 grains of rice to feed the hungry. 10 grains is not a lot, but in about half an hour of playing, I had my total up to about 3 500 grains. There's also different subjects to choose from, aside from vocab and I was pleased to see that in the French language-learning scetion, I did really well and still remember most of the words. The problem is that I don't remember how to put them together!
- I worked late at the morning job yesterday, so I can leave early today. Woo hoo!
- I had a monthly meeting with a client scheduled for Wed afternoon at 3pm and he only called to cancel at 3.10pm when I was sitting in the reception area waiting. This is not the first time. I dislike the lack of respect for my time. It also annoys me that I can't finish up his project without clarifying things in the meeting, so now I am sitting and waiting until we can reschedule. Grrr.
- TSC gave our cats their bi-annual bath yesterday and they are looking all fluffy and clean now. I'm glad he did it while I was out and played the bad guy because when I came home they were so grateful to see me that they were ridiculously friendly and affectionate. They both even slept on the bed last night, which they don't normally do unless it's winter.
- I'm not looking forward to the long drive to Ladysmith tomorrow, or the farewells. But I wouldn't miss it for anything.
- There are the coolest environmentally-friendly Christmas gifts here.
- TSC had to take our little Sapphire cat to the vet today and it turns out she has reacted to the new pellets we've been trying, which disagree with her stomach. She has to have a course of antibiotics, which my brother will have to administer while we're away :-(
- Next week it's December! *slight panic*
- I always have to have an even number of bullet points.
That is all. Have a great weekend.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
At least I've been making lots of jewellery for my Christmas open day on 5 Dec (eeep - so close now). I'm starting to get nervous about that. I just hope that the other crafters coming to sell their wares make good money and that those coming along to buy find something they like.
At the moment, I have my jewellery stall (I'm also selling gift bags, homemade yummies and some kiddies stocking fillers), a lady selling pewter crafts (she's without a job at the moment, so I hope her stuff gets snapped up), someone selling lingerie, a friend with Miglio jewellery and Faithwear clothing and a children's home selling donated wine, photo albums and other bits and bobs (also hope they do especially well).
I was hoping for more crafters / sellers, but I think we'll have a nice range anyway, although there's not much to cater for men's presents. Once again, in a shameless plug... if anyone's keen to come, either to sell or to browse, please mail me at doodlesofajourno dot gmail dot com.
I haven't forgotten that I promised pics of the jewellery. I just need to recharge my camera battery after snapping away at the carols evening.
My head is definitely in Christmas space. I've done about half of the gift shopping. Unfortunately, that was the cheaper half. I have to wait to make some money with the jewellery sales before I can buy TSC and my parents' presents. But almost everyone else is done. I'm looking forward to next week's life group, although it's the final one for the year. We are having a bring and braai social and will do the annual present swap game, which is great fun and totally hilarious. If you're having a large gathering, it's definitely a good ice breaker.
The mad gift swap game
Each person has to bring a wrapped unisex gift costing no more than a certain amount. We've said R50 for our life group (the fact that it has to be suitable for a guy or a girl makes it challenging). Loads of people do boring presents like boxes of chocolates, but there are always some awesome and strange gifts. Last year someone brought a mini basketball hoop with a squishy little basketball. The girls all thought it was ridiculous, but the boys were ready to fight for it!
Everyone then sits in a circle, with the gifts in the middle. The person organising (and refereeing!) counts how many people there are and writes out the numbers on scraps of paper. So if there are 15 people, I'll write out 1, 2, 3... all the way up to 15. The paper scraps then get put in a hat / bowl / whatever and each person draws a number.
Whomever draws number 1 gets to pick and unwrap a present from the pile. The person with number 2 on his / her piece of paper can then either choose another present or steal number 1's gift. If he does the latter, number one gets to pick a new gift.
Then it's number 3's turn. He/she can either steal number 1 or number 2's gift or choose a new present from the pile. The game carries on like this until everyone has had a turn.
The interesting twist is that each gift can only be stolen three times. So the third person to steal it will get to keep it. It gets quite entertaining trying to remember how many times a particular gift has been stolen. And it's always a good idea to have some extra gifts on hand in case someone has forgotten to bring one.
Anyone else have suggestions for party games with a Christmas theme we could try with our group?
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
She first knocked on my parents' door when they were living in Ladysmith, a small town in KwaZulu-Natal. She was looking for work as her employer at the time was abusive. My mom couldn't believe how little money she was asking for to work fulltime, and how badly her employers treated her.
My parents took her in and were impressed with her work and willingness. When they moved back to Johannesburg a few years later (I was just a baby), she decided to move with them. While my mom worked fulltime at the Johanneburg General Hospital (she's a GP), Gogo looked after me, carrying me on her back like a Zulu baby and teaching me Zulu songs and stories. At one point, I knew more Zulu than I did English.
When my brother was born very, very sick, Gogo was invaluable in keeping things running at home while my parents stressed about operations and hospital bills. She would keep me entertained for hours, letting me "help" her with her cleaning the house while we sang together and she re-cleaned the bits I'd done ;-)
As my brother grew older, she did the same with him - carried him on her back, tickled him into fits of laughter and sang to him in Zulu. I remember him telling my mom when he was about four that he was going to marry Gogo when he grew up.
I have such fond memories of Gogo from different stages of my life - how she would laugh at my brother as he tried to learn to kick the ball and fell on his bum because he was kicking with both feet at the same time. She has the most awesome laugh.
She would break up our sibling fights and shout at us when we'd been naughty. We would cry for disappointing her and she would pick us up, hold us to her ample chest and hum soothing songs to us until we were smiling again.
She's a champion knitter and used to knit the squares for me that I was given as homework for school in about 10 minutes flat, or patiently unravel my uneven scarves to fix all the stitches I'd dropped. When my parents bought her a knitting machine for Christmas, she turned her talent into a business, knitting school jerseys and taking orders for all kinds of knitted wear.
Every birthday, my mom and I would get a hand-crocheted or knitted item. She worked a whole year to make a beautiful crocheted bed cover for my folks and a dining room table overlay for my mom's enormous 10-seater table that's been lugged from house to house with us for as long as I can remember. I had the most beautiful knitted clothes for my dolls from Gogo and my Gran, and even had miniature crocheted handbags that made me feel all grown up. I remember when we were renting a house in Dunvegan, Johannesburg, how she carefully built me a mini washing line with a few loose bricks and a string of purple yarn so that I could imitate her doing the laundry - washing my dolls' clothes and hanging them on the line to dry.
While my mom instilled a love of plants in me, Gogo taught me to value the veggie patch. At each house we lived in, she would cultivate potatoes, marogo (a plant that many people think of as a weed, which is a brilliant spinach substitute), mielies (corn) and whatever other veggies would grow well wherever we were living at the time (she moved with us from Ladysmith to Joburg to Durban to Pretoria... she said she'd move anywhere with my family except overseas).
As I grew older, I began to feel guilty about the fact that she was living so far from her own family (she and her husband split many years ago, but she has children and now granchildren to think about).
One day, I had decided to give her a pedicure and was in her flat painting her toenails when I brought it up. She laughed and said that she was very happy with us. I asked if she didn't miss her home. She said yes, sometimes she did, "But Mommy and Daddy (she always refers to my folks this way when she's talking to my brother or me) are good to me. I have a nice house here, friends, food, money... I get to send money home for my children and I go on holiday and see them. And when they get too much, I come back again." All of this punctuated with hearty laughter.
On occasion over the years, some of her children have visited us. They are all older than me, but I loved meeting them. I remember being amazed when Elsie, one of the older kids, made me a mini Zulu broom out of long grass prettily woven with coloured thread at the top and shyly handed it over. I treasured it for years.
Now that Gogo has two grandchildren, she makes sure to bring us new photos after every holiday to show us how they've grown. She is a good soul and the glue that keeps her family together. She organises jobs (often with my mom's help) for sons, nephews and cousins, mediates family arguments over the phone, picks up the slack in her lazy sister's family and oversees all finances. When her ancient grandmother died recently, she went home and put together the funeral and made sure everyone behaved themselves.
She must be in her early 60s now, although she looks like she's in her late 40s, and last year she told my mom she's building a new house in Ladysmith. We've visited her home before to drop off furniture my parents had given her, and at the time she had three long, skinny houses with sheet metal roofs and the traditional mud walls. But her new house is brick and mortar with roof tiles and framed windows and she's extremely proud of it. Her sister is so jealous that she's apparently stopped speaking to her.
Gogo has been wise with her money and savings, as well as clever in her entrepreneurial ventures, and she's now the talk of the neighbourhood in Ladysmith with her big, fancy house. I'm proud of her and how she has supported her family, but I'm also really sad now because she's retiring this month.
When she told my mom about her new house, she asked when she could retire. My mom said whenever she was ready, so Gogo asked if she could finish last year, work this year, and then when her house is ready, retire.
My parents don't actually need a fulltime or live-in maid anymore - I'm not at home (and I make a big part of the mess), my mom is no longer working and my brother will move out (into Gogo's flat) soon, so they were really keeping Gogo on until she was ready to finish up, so since Gogo's request they've starting getting things in order for her.
The new house in Ladysmith is done now, except the tiling. My parents have bought the tiles Gogo wanted as a Christmas and retirement present and put a large lump sum into a bank account for her pension. They said she can have all the furniture from the flat, so this weekend, my dad has hired a truck and we are going to load up the furniture (which is quite a bit - the double bed, microwave, lounge suite, mini-stove, two eating tables, six chairs, the coffee tables, bedside tables etc...) and drive through to Ladysmith on Saturday morning.
I'm getting all teary thinking about it. Gogo has been such a large part of my life since I was born and I can't bear the thought of her not being around to talk to, hug, swap veggies with, laugh at my brother's antics...
But I'm glad that I'll have the chance to see her new home in all its glory and to see her homecoming. And I know it's not goodbye. She has a cell phone so I can call her and we can SMS each other, and she has told me that when I have a baby she will come to stay with me for three weeks to look after me (but we all know that's not in my immediate plan).
But it's still the end of an era and it saddens me no end. I am thrilled for her that she will be able to retire and enjoy having her beautiful house where she can spoil her grandkids and plant another veggie garden, but I will miss her so, so much. This has come so much faster than I was expecting.
I am so blessed to have had her in my life for 25 years. I will miss seeing her so often.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Colin broke his foot doing the show last week (jumping off the stage as Angel Gabriel) so he was confined to a barstool to sing and had his injured foot in a festive Christmas stocking. Other church band members had to take up doing his actions. It's always funny for me, knowing these guys IRL, to see them onstage. Totally different!
After the show we headed to Primi Piatti for drinks with Brett, Kim and their mate Mike. After me berating Brett for his bad blogging habits (not posting enough) and all of us listening to Mike's horrible baby jokes for awhile, TSC and I returned home in high spirits, with me singing carols the whole way.
Now that we are only a month away from Christmas, I feel I have licence to continue in that vein. "Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shiiiiiiiiiiining..." Be very glad you don't have to live with me - I try to do the descant at the same time as the melody. Poor TSC ;-)
I am so looking forward to an evening at home doing nothing tonight!
Monday, 23 November 2009
Friday night we had some friends around for supper. Sadly, the vegetarian and partner couldn't make it as they were both feeling sick, but everyone else seemed to enjoy the roast veggie lasagne and warm chocolate pudding.
On Saturday morning, we went for our sushi-making adventure. My folks gave me a voucher for two for my birthday, and this is the first chance I've had to use it.
Can I just say that if you live in Joburg, like sushi and ever get the chance, you should do a course at Miya's. It is awesome! Chef Miyamoto is a fully qualified sushi chef (that means five years of training). After he'd explained how year one is spent just training in hygiene and cleaning, and year two is solely about how to cook the rice, I felt a bit bad that here was this group of South Africans all expecting to learn how to make sushi in just a few hours.
But he was really patient with us and his wicked sense of humour made it very entertaining. He was full of fascinating info about the differences between Japanese and South African sushi, how using a different type of rice affects the way you cook it, where the names of the sushi types come from and where to buy the best fish in Joburg. I was astounded to learn that there are only a handful of properly qualified sushi chefs in the country and that in Japan, you don't get wasabi to mix with your soy sauce - the chef just grates the horseradish into the sushi as he makes it.
It was a long morning (9.30am until just after 2pm), but we both had such a great time and really enjoyed eating the sushi we'd made (even though it didn't look as professional as Chef Miya's). Maybe I'll post some pics tomorrow.
After that, we rushed home, did a quick clean-up of the previous night's dishes and then our Zimbabwean mates Sarah and Phil arrived for a visit. I met Phil through my best friend, Nic, at varsity and then TSC became friends with him when he too moved to Cape Town. He was the MC at our wedding and is one of the most lively and entertaining people I know.
Phil introduced us to his sister Sarah and she became a friend too. When we moved to Johannesburg, we got in touch with their parents and now we are friendly with the whole family, bar one sibling (who lives in Australia. We may meet her for the first time in Dec).
We had a good catch-up with the two while we watched rugby as Phil told us some of his bush adventures (he's a professional hunter and photographer) and Sarah told us where she'd been placed for her physiotherapy community service year. It was great fun.
Yesterday we went to the Rosebank craft market again to pick up some stuff my mom wants and then I spent the afternoon making a Christmas wreath and bottles of mint jelly before church.
Tonight we have our church's annual Christmas carols concert at the Barnyard, which is more like a dinner theatre production, actually. I'm lookinf forward to it, although our neighbours who were supposed to be coming with us knocked on the door to tell us they're sick this morning and can't make it tonight, so we now have four empty seats at our table of 12. Anyone keen to come?
Have a good week.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Now for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I know that nine degrees is not very cold. But consider that we generally have no central heating (in fact no heating at all in my office) and that South Africa is not geared towards the cold (it's difficult to even find cold-proof clothing here), and maybe you'll feel a bit more sympathetic. In fact, we had someone visit from Toronto, Canada who said that he'd never been so cold in his life as his winter stay in the Drakensberg in South Africa.
I suppose it doean't help that I have sopping wet hair. But I've never been a fan of hair dryers, so I often go out with wet hair, even in the middle of winter. And it doesn't seem to make me sick. I just wear a nice warm hat. Today it's a purple mohair one. If I had my camera handy I'd snap a pic.
At least it's FRIDAY! Woo hoo!
We have a sushi-making course this weekend. Yay! Can't wait. Except that it feels too cold for sushi. I want hot comfort food. Also, it means we have to be up early tomorrow morning. Blah.
Watched My Life in Ruins last night while making jewellery. Worst movie I've seen in awhile. Made Benjamin Button seem positively riveting in comparison.
Right... off to change my dinner menu for tonight. Was planning a nice summery menu for the new friends we're having over, but I think hot food is in order. Lasagne, perhaps. And warm pudding too. Any suggestions?
Have a fab weekend.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Absolutely ages ago (sometime in July), I promised I'd show you pics of how we transformed our spare bedroom. So here it is before (at this stage we had moved the furniture out, done a test patch on the wall and covered the floor with drop sheets):
And here it is after. Those pictures above the bed are the ones I created when TSC was away (I also painted the lamp shades. But they're not as pretty, IMO):
Here are the requested pics from my jungle style veggie garden. I tried to take ones where you can't see all the weeds on my pathways (I still have to find some money to get gravel to make proper paths). This pic shows my beetroot, mielies and the mint in the background. There's also baby marrow plants in between, which I'm hoping will climb up the frame.
Lastly, some Just Joey roses from the garden, just because they are gorgeous:
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your bakkie, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me... Call (011)885-6420 and ask for Annie, I'll be waiting.....
Monday, 16 November 2009
- Sometimes people will let you down. This is especially true of possible interviewees for magazine stories, who have a tendency to fall off the planet just before the deadline.
- Really special memories can be made anytime, anywhere.
- The blueberry cosmopolitan cocktail at Bottega Cafe in Fourways Crossing does wonders on a weary Friday afternoon.
- Ask (or even mention) and you may just receive. I happened to say that I would like a pair of decent sunglasses, and when TSC went to order his prescription lenses and somes frames on Friday, he got to choose a free pair of Daniel Hechter sunglasses. Seeing he already has lovely glasses, he let me choose a pair instead. Love my man and his amazing generosity!
- China Mall offers great bargains but also big headaches.
- Going out on the roads during the 94.7 Cycle Challenge is a bad, bad idea.
- The Rosebank Rooftop Craft Market is a great place to do Christmas shopping. But you need lots of time!
- Sunday lunch spent laughing and chatting with awesome friends is the best way to recover from horrible Cycle Challenge traffic.
- My concentration span is ridiculously short on a Sunday evening.
- Sometimes it's good to be reminded of the bigger picture.
What did you learn this weekend?
Friday, 13 November 2009
The thing is, twee as it sounds, I pretty much have everything I need. Of course there are things I would like to have, such as a small garden bench so that I can indulge my bizarre veggie-watching tendancies, tickets to Cinderella on Ice, or a decent pair of sunglasses (instead of the R50 pairs I am prone to buying at flea-markets), but by and large, TSC and I are incredibly blessed. We have an amazing house and garden, two wonderful cats, a car each, food in the pantry, clothes in the cupboard, a computer in the study... We are more fortunate than most people, especially at our age.
This strikes me often as I'm enjoying a late afternoon walk with TSC up to the local Woolworths Food to pick up some or other supper ingredient. I love our neighbourhood, I love our relationship and I love enjoying a Woolies ice cold gingerbeer on my way home ;-)
It's so easy, especially in materialistic Jo'burg, to get caught up in the need to have nice things. Or just to have more money. Because everything costs money. It's not like we can walk 10 minutes to the beach with a picnic lunch and enjoy a free day of entertainment like we used to do in Cape Town (when we had no spare money whatsoever). Here, aside from a distinct lack of beach, everything is spread out across a large distance. So spending a day out usually means driving a fair distance and paying an entrance fee, or hanging out in a shopping centre, the ultimate temptation zone. I am not a fan of shopping centres.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the pace and the variety of Jo'burg, and love the opportunities here. But when I catch myself thinking, "I wish we could afford to go see that show / re-do our bathrooms / buy that blue-ray player", I want to be able to remind myself how very fortunate we are and to re-focus on the stuff that actually matters.
What I really want for Christmas is time out away from the bustle with the ones I love, espeically my aging grandparents. And that is already planned. So for now, all I can think of for my Christmas wish list is a new beach towel (mine is about 1o years old and worn through) and a subscription to SA Garden magazine. And that makes me happy!
Of course it makes things challenging for my mother. We both love to give presents and will happily spend forever hunting for the perfect gift for a specific person. Still, I've been struggling to find meaningful gifts for both my folks for years, so I'm sure the rest of the family can manage ;-)
Thursday, 12 November 2009
In fact, it's quite bizarre and even disturbing how much I love my veggie garden. I rush outside in the mornings before work to check on my seedlings and I want to cry when I see my baby Asian greens have been the victims of a seven-course snail supper.
When I get home, the first thing I do is kick off my shoes and do a garden walk-through to enjoy the green-ness of it all. It's actually a little embarrassing. But my garden just doesn't cease to amaze me. Seriously! Planting seeds and watching them grow into big, healthy plants that give me delicious food is an awesome process indeed.
We have been our house for almost a year now and in that short space of time, my veggie garden has given me the following:
- Green beans
- Tomatoes (cherry ones and the juicy big ones)
- Spinach (two different varieties)
- Peppadews (before Ches craps on me, the plant was there when I arrived. It was a present from the Peppadew folk. Apparently.)
- Mielies (or corn, for non-South Africans)
- Sweet potatoes
- Asian greens
- Assorted herbs (mint, thyme, lemon thyme, parsley, various types of basil, sage, bay leaf, chives, chamomile and fennel)
I have also recently planted baby marrows, asparagus, eggplant, strawberries, beetroot etc, along with lots of non-foodie but useful plants (like comfrey, catnip, artemisia and marigolds) and am waiting (not very patiently) for them to grow up ;-)
But I digress...
The point of this post was actually to write down that recipe for vegetarian cannelloni. So here it is (Tamara-style, which means there are no proper measurements. Sorry):
Forgot to take a picture, but it looks something like this. Pic from here.
- Bunch of spinach, washed thoroughly (gritty spinach will ruin the nicest of meals) and cooked
- Half a readymade box of cannelloni pasta (normally about 8 - 10 tubes)
- 250 ml tub of fat-free smooth cottage cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- 250 ml tomato pasta sauce (I make my own by cooking fresh skinned tomatoes with a little salt, pepper, spoon of sugar and Italian herbs like oregano, basil and thyme)
- A little bit of grated cheese to top
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Mix cooked spinach with the cottage cheese, nutmeg and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Pop this mixture into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds (I prefer to just use a stick blender - less mess, IMO).
Now, the fun bit: Line up your pasta tubes in an ovenproof dish and fill each one with the spinach mixture (it will be messy, but I find that using my piping bag is the easiest way of doing the filling. Just make sure your spinach is finely blitzed, or it will end up on the ceiling when you squeeze the bag. Trust me on this).
Top the tubes with your tomato-based pasta sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover (either with a lid or tin foil) and pop in the oven. Bake for 35 min. Serve with a green salad and some nice wine ;-)
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
It was a dirty and sloppy place and because I was but a poor student, the folks there never took me very seriously. I always had to find my own way back to my flat or campus when I'd dropped the car off, because they didn't do drop-offs. Thankfully it wasn't far to walk. Although Murphy's Law being upheld, it would usually rain on those days ;-)
The nasty people at the garage also used to take advantage of my ignorance and do all sorts of things to my car while they had it, at great expense. My poor dad would get a shock when I phoned through to request money to pay for all the extras. I have whined about this before at around the same time last year (far more eloquently, I would add. I'm seriously losing my touch).
Thankfully these days it's a different story. My darling Ella (my little Honda Jazz) enjoys only the best from the fabulous folk at the Sandton Honda dealership, who phone and ask for permission before they incur extra costs. And they also don't mind giving you a lift to the office when you drop your car off, or picking you up to fetch it.
But today, seeing my man is on study leave, I didn't have to use that particular service. TSC and I drove to Honda in two cars at about 6.45am (they open at 7). I dropped Ella off and got into his car and we headed to gym and then had a quick coffee over breakfast before he dropped me off at the office at 8.30.
It's actually been a lovely start to the day.
This surprises me seeing I am NOT a morning person. In fact, that's the understatement of the century. Mornings to me are like garlic to vampires; like red flags to bulls; like Eskom rate hikes to South Africans, like... you get the point. I don't do mornings.
I used to. In fact, when I did my gap year and shared a room with five other girls, I would get up an hour earlier than everyone else. Why? To make sure that I was awake enough to seem human by the time everyone else appeared (also, it was the only way to get some alone time in that house).
I also used to get up early to go to gym with my dad when I was in high school. Why? Because you're more likely to get me to gym when I'm half asleep and can barely remember my own name than when I'm awake enough to argue with you.
That said, TSC and I are now finally getting into a nice space where we have a happy balance between letting ourselves rest when we need to and pushing ourselves to get moving. I love this balance. It is new to me.
Before, I would either compulsively over-exercise or not exercise at all. Now, I'm enjoying being able to exercise outside (either walking around the neighbourhood with TSC enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine or working on my garden, which is fun and a hardcore workout) as well as doing various hilarious gym dvds in front of my TV (I'm not sure whether I get more of a workout from the exercises or from laughing hysterically at some of the instructors) or hitting the gym for a 30min blast on the cardio circuit.
I also feel the freedom to not exercise when I'm feeling exhausted and have learnt not to beat myself up about it. And, contrary to what a (lunatic) biokineticist told me a few years ago, I don't have to exercise seven days a week.
This is good. Now if I could only learn to apply this theory of balance to the rest of my life!
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Yesterday I got this email:
It’s your opportunity to experience the difference! I am proud to announce that our Gary Rom Hairdressing brand, my signature salon group, has taken up the opportunity to be a part of Edgars’ “Top Fabulous Brands” flagship store, which recently opened its doors at Melrose Arch in Sandton.
This Gary Rom Hairdressing salon is located on the cosmetics floor, and shares company with brands such as Chanel, Lancôme, La Prairie, Estée Lauder, Clarins, etc.
The new salon is equipped with a sound-proof cabine, as are all our salons, where our clients enjoy luxurious hair treatments that moisturise and nourish their hair in a quiet, tranquil environment – a truly relaxing experience. Also, clients are able to shop in our retail section where they can select from premium hair care brands which are not normally available in department stores - like Kérastase, L’Oréal Professionnel, Redken, Redken For Men, Pureology and Mizani! And the pièce de résistance is that you have the option of charging your hair care services and product purchases to your Edgars store card!
So what’s the point? Well, I hereby formally invite you to indulge yourself at our new Gary Rom Hairdressing salon at Melrose Arch and experience this exciting new concept in South African shopping. All you have to do is forward this e-mail to 10 of your friends and be sure to copy/cc our GM, Mike - firstname.lastname@example.org – and you will receive an electronic voucher for a complimentary Kérastase ritual treatment in our sound-proof cabine, as well as a blow dry, valued at over R500!
But wait, there’s more! Once you have redeemed your voucher at Gary Rom Hairdressing at Edgars Melrose Arch, you will automatically be entered into a prize draw where one lucky winner will receive a year’s free hair services and products, valued at over R 40 000.00! This fantastic prize will be drawn live at the Edgars Melrose Arch salon at 6:00pm on Thursday 4 February 2010.
If you want to contact the new salon for any other reason apart from this promotional offer, then please contact: Gary Rom Hairdressing Edgars Melrose Arch Tel. 011 214 5805 e-mail email@example.com
Take care, Gary Rom
Shortly afterwards, it was followed by this one:
Unfortunately, this offer has been over-subscribed. Please refer to http://www.garyromhairdressing.co.za/apology.htm for more info.
If you click on the link above, it explains that they were expecting maybe 100 responses. They got 17 000. Within the first 48 hours.
It would take 16 years of working for free to get to everyone. The apology is well worded and sincere, but I'm sure the folks at Gary Rom learnt a thing or two about the power of the word "free" on the interwebs ;-)
Monday, 9 November 2009
Friday we tried to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs at Fourways Mall. Don't ask me why. It seemed like a pretty boring movie, made infinitely worse by the fact that the soundtrack was warped. The music constantly sounded like a stretched cassette tape. Not cool. We complained four times and when they still hadn't fixed it, had a little discussion with the manager. He tried to tell me it was supposed to sound like that. Whatever, dude. We're not stupid. I think he reckoned if it had been that noticeable, other people would have complained too. But most of the other people in the theatre were about 10 years old ;-) Eventually we got vouchers from him and headed home to watch a dvd instead.
I spent Saturday in my garden, happily planting and trimming. The veggie garden is finally beginning to look like the jungle I want it to be. I'm not one for things planted in neat rows. I like Jane's Jungle Style of gardening much more.
Went to Papachino's at Crowthorne for supper with TSC and my folks on Saturday evening. We had such a nice time! Good wine, great food and enjoyable company. It was probably the highlight of my weekend.
Yesterday was the ushering team thank you function I'd organised. I had specifically asked everyone to be there by 1.30 latest, as the show starts at 2pm sharp and you need time beforehand to order drinks, have your picnic lunch and socialise.
At 1.30, there were two people there aside from TSC and I. In the end, three people still hadn't arrived when the show started and came in during the first half. Two people didn't pitch at all.
The show was excellent and I sang my heart out enjoying all the musical hits I love so much, but I must admit my day was seriously dampened by the stress. I know it's silly, but I felt downright panicky when it was 1.45pm and there were only six of us out of 23 people. Anyway, at least that's done now.
I also had a row (such a quaint word) with TSC about him taking up more responsibility. We supposedly lead the ushering team together but I actually do everything on my own. I think he got my point, so we'll see how that goes from now on. Poor man - he looked so bewildered when I got all upset about it. I think sometimes we women forget that men don't catch our subtle hints - we have to actually spell out what the problem is.
In other news, I've decided that in order to make a little Christmas money, I'm going to have an open house to sell some of the jewellery I make (and various other crafted stuff) on 5 December at my place from 9am until 1pm. So if you are interested in selling your wares or in coming along to do some Christmas shopping, please drop me a mail at doodlesofajourno at gmail dot com.
Have a good week, everyone.
Updated, 11.20: THIS is the best post I've read in ages.
Friday, 6 November 2009
I'm feeling the happiest I've been in almost two weeks, I think. I got a new commission from a magazine I occasionaly freelance to, which is good for my little business, and TSC and I got up early this morning and had a brisk walk around the neighbourhood before popping into Vida e Caffe for skinny cappuccinos, which made for a great start to the day.
It's nice to smile again. It's been a not-so-fun patch and I am not usually a miz person (well, as far as I know), so being so grumpy and unhappy for that long was just blergh. Yeah, that's a word. On this blog, at least.
Which reminds me... I know I have squillions of typos on this blog (for a journo I'm really rubbish at typing) and that I make up my own words (yay for neologisms), but I have been noticing a consistently misspelled word on other blogs that is driving me mad.
The word is "lose". As in, "If you steal my mug again you'll lose an eye."
But almost everyone spells this word "loose". As in, "When you smacked me in the head for stealing your mug again, I'm sure you knocked my brain loose."
Another example, this time using both words: "Seeing certain words spelled wrong makes me lose my temper and I have dreams of setting grammar tigers loose on all offenders."
I should have been an English teacher.
Scratch that. I wouldn't last a day!
Now that my grammar Nazi stint is over for the day (maybe), let me introduce you to some fantastic neologisms from this lovely site:
- copyrighteous, adj.
Relating to a feeling of moral superiority based on one's responsible copyright views and actions.
- bad tongue day, noun
A day in which a person frequently mispronounces words and stumbles over sentences.
- mental hairball, noun
A word or phrase coughed up at random.
- slackademic, noun
A perpetual student who prefers the safety and comfort of academic life over the trials and tribulations of the real world.
- agressocracy, noun
A society in which the most aggressive members rise to the top.
And some more from this cool site:
- abstinate (ăb'stə-nāt')
a. (v.) The act of not giving one's self to anyone, no matter how much they beg.
- backronym (băk'rə-nĭm')
a. (n.) An acronym that was clearly thought of first, and the (usually dull minded) phrase was secondarily crafted to fit it. Example: Determined Involved Supermodels Helping to End Suffering: DISHES!
- camouflush (kăm'ə-flŭsh)
a. (n.) The unnecessary flushing of a public restroom toilet to mask embarrassing bodily sounds.
- dark matter song (därk măt'ər sŏng)
a. (n.) A song of such awfulness that it alone outweighs the rest of an artist or band's body of work.Example: "Shiny Happy People" is REM's dark matter song and "Walk of Life" is Dire Straits'.
- elbonics (el'bŏn'ĭks)
a. (n.) The actions of two people maneuvering for one arm rest in a movie theater.
Have a fabulous weekend, all.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
There is, however, something that still frustrates me enormously - the fact that people wear their busyness as a badge and can't commit to stuff.
What does that mean? Well, chances are, if you ask anyone in Joburg how they are, the answers will be busy / stressed / tired / hectic / frantic / various other synonyms. And that's usually the truth - the pace here is insane and most people are working incredibly hard. Living in Joburg can be stressful. You just have to spend five minutes on the roads here to realise that!
(of course there's a but)
People use this busyness as an excuse for anything, from being bad at keeping in touch to forgetting a birthday or not arriving at a function. And I am guilty of this on occasion too - I have pulled out of a social event because work got too crazy at the time. It's normal, it's human and it's probably healthy.
(oooh... another one)
It's very frustrating to try and organise a social event in Joburg when this is the norm. I recently had to organise our church ushering team year-end thank you function (we're going to see show at one of the Barnyard theatres this weekend). What a nightmare! Trying to get 50 people to RSVP was impossible. After three emails and an SMS to the people who hadn't responded, I gave up.
Then, days after the final RSVP deadline, I had people asking if they could still come. And bring a partner.
I finally bought the tickets (which the church is sponsoring). Of course, I've now had a whole host of last-minute pull-outs, even though this was organised weeks ago. Some people have good reasons (one guy had to unexpectedly fly to Kenya on business, for example), but others don't. One of the guys asked to bring his sister, who is visiting for the weekend, and now neither of them are coming because he hadn't checked with her first. So I have a bunch of tickets that have been paid for and will probably go to waste unless I can find some folks to fill the empty seats at this late date.
I think there's a difference between saying you can't come to a relaxed braai anymore because you have been dumped with a mammoth last-minute project for work and saying you can't come to an event you've committed to where money has already been spent on you because you found something better to do or you didn't plan your time very well.
For example, I didn't mind when someone called me on the night of my birthday party to say he was down with flu and wouldn't be there after all. Poor dude! I did, however, mind when a supposed friend RSVPed "yes" to our wedding and then simply didn't show up on the day, meaning we still had to pay for his seat and meal that had been prepared for him.
Am I making any sense?
I know this is not a Joburg-specific problem, but I do seem to find it worse here than the other places I've lived. If you organise any sort of event here, whether it's a work function or a dinner at your house or a big get-together birthday celebration, chances are that you will have a handful of people calling you on the day to cancel or just not bothering to pitch up because they are "too busy".
And we perpetuate this cycle in Joburg because (consciously or unknowingly) we judge each other and ourselves on our level of busyness, which we somehow think equates to productivity or success.
I know so many people (including me) who feel like we have to be sick or on our December holiday before we can slow down, even for one day. We pack our days with activities and engagements and run ourselves into the ground trying to get everything done.
And eventually we are so exhausted that we end up calling some poor sod who's trying to organise a church ushering year-end function and saying we can't make it anymore, because we are just too busy.
Diatribe aside, I'm off to try to find some people who aren't too busy to come to a show this weekend.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
I still don't really feel like blogging though. Everything I think of posting about, even if it's cool stuff (like the lovely Halloween supper we had with friends on Sat) just seems to stick in my brain. The creativity is on vacation, it would seem. It's having a holiday somewhere with my motivation.
I'm not a big meme fan, but they sure are useful things for filling a gap. So here's one Meriel tagged me to do - my desktop (the one at work).
It's a photo I took of the flowers in the fountain at our hotel in Zanzibar. Those few days were pure bliss and looking at this picture reminds me of that time and makes me smile.
I'm not tagging anyone, but please give it a go if you'd like to and let me know.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Lost left his laptop at my house. I have been trying to contact him to get it back to him and pick up the money he owes me at the same time. I have left voice messages, sent text messages, called the guest house where he's staying... nothing. No reply.
I was seriously worried that something had happened to him. But the lady at the guest house says he's fine. So I am giving up. If I don't hear from him, he can go without it. TSC can sell the thing to recoup costs.
Anyone know where the Randburg testing centre is so I can renew my driver's licence? The phone number listed on the web does not exist. Three cheers for efficiency.