Thursday, 31 March 2011

Monday, 28 March 2011

Please explain...

...Why I always get called by idiots with the wrong number who don't understand when I tell them they've got the wrong number!


Some quick, random catch-up points:

Embarrassing event of the week:
Had to take my car back to the panel beaters on Friday. Since it had been worked on it was taking in air by the windscreen (which is an annoying sound, according to TSC) and also had a weird rattle or two. I like my cars quiet. This is genetic. Rattles drive my father mental and I have inherited the low tolerance for cars that make noises they shouldn't.

They fixed the air problem in about 30min. I got in my car, drove off and drove back in 5 minutes. The rattle was worse than ever. I made the mechanic get in the car with me and drove him up the street so he could hear it rattle.

After about 2min, he took hold of the little air freshener strung around my rearview mirror. The rattling stopped.

Such a blonde I am.

They'd obviously adjusted the string of the air freshener when they worked on the car and the bottle of scent was now vibrating on the mirror as I drove, causing the rattle.

I sheepishly dropped him back at the panelbeaters and left in disgrace.

To be fair, I did figure out the other rattle on my own - the Honda service team fiddled with my door when my car was in for a service and they didin't fully clip the plastic inner back into place, so the loose plastic was vibrating against door. I've sorted that out now.

The most awesome part of the week:
Just booked and paid for a weekend away at the end of April. Seeing we're off to visit the outlaws for Easter, it's necessary to have a break scheduled when we get back for yours truly to recover. Can't wait. Bushveld, camera, good food and just the two of us... recipe for awesome.

Stressful bits:
I have so much work at the moment it's insane.

TSC is working ridiculous hours because a) he LOVES his new job and b) he has to make up the hours he's spending at class, plus the two days leave he's taking to visit my outlaws for Easter.

The challenge is that he's a morning person; I'm a night person.

Basically, he gets up before the sparrows have even considered farting and comes home in the evenings. We have a little time together after gym, supper, small group or whatever else and then it's time for bed. We go to bed at the same time; I wait for him to fall asleep and then I come back to the study and work into the early hours of the morning.

I crawl back into bed and we sleep for three or four hours, then he gets up to go to work again. I wish him a bleary-eyed goodbye and go back to sleep for a bit longer.

Neither of us is getting enough sleep and we're both running on empty. My love language is quality time, so I'm really missing having enough "us time".

It's not a permanent situation - it's learning to adapt to a new routine and getting through a particularly busy period of tests and learning the ropes at work for him and loads of projects with insane deadlines for me.

We'll be just fine. But it's tough at the moment to engage with each other and other people because we're both walking around wearing permanent yawns and headaches.

The silver linings:
As I said, he's loving his job. So aside from being dead tired, he's happier and more secure. And although I have no idea how I'm going to fit all this work in, at least I'm getting new clients (and mainly by referral, which is great) and managing to pay the bills.

Also, we're looking at hiring our once-a-week cleaner on a twice-a-week basis from April, so that will mean less time spent on the un-fun stuff like ironing (*shudder*) and cleaning cat pawprints off of every imaginable surface.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Happy Birthday, Schmee

It's my brother's birthday today. I know he's not going to see this, but...

Happy birthday my not-so-little-anymore brother. I know I'm not a great sister, but I love you and I'm thinking of you and praying for you on your special day. We don't always see eye to eye, but you have a great big piece of my heart. I can picture you rolling your eyes at that, but hey - it's the truth. Imagine me saying, "great big piece of my heart" in a terrible Scottish accent and I'm sure you'll be able to deal with it.

I wish I could spend the day with you, give you a big hug and tell you I love you, Schmee. Then tickle you mercilessly, tease you about your multi-coloured facial hair and swap awful baby jokes.

So here's to you, my charming, hilarious, impatient, gorgeous, silly, wonderful brother... I know you'll appreciate these:

A doctor of psychology was doing his normal morning rounds when he entered a patient's room. He found Patient #1 sitting on the floor, pretending to saw a piece of wood in half.Patient #2 was hanging from the ceiling, by his feet.The doctor asked patient number 1 what he was doing. The patient replied, "Can't you see I'm sawing this piece of wood in half?" The doctor inquired Patient #1 of what Patient #2 was doing. Patient #1 replied, "Oh. He's my friend, but he's a little crazy. He thinks he's a lightbulb." The doctor looks up and notices Patient #2's face is going all red.The doctor asks Patient #1, "If he's your friend, you should get him down from there before he hurts himself"Patient #1 replies, "What? And work in the dark?"

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Tuesday that thought it was a Monday

If I had to describe today in a word, it would be green. But more about that later.

For those of you who don't live in South Africa, yesterday was a public holiday here. It was Human Rights Day. So today, Tuesday, was the first day of our working week here. And Tuesday decided that seeing that was the case, it would take on Monday's usual responsibility of being miserable. Here's a run-down of my Tuesday:

12.15am: Lie in bed and have a mild panic attack thinking about how much work I have to do today and this crappy situation with the two women I work with. Attempt to panic quietly so as not to wake TSC - it's his first day of work and he has a massive test at varsity that he'll only finish at 19h30 tonight. He needs his sleep.

12.30am: Have mad dreams about work. Quietly.

01.00am and every half an hour after that: Wake up convinced we've overslept and that TSC will be late for his first day of work.

05.50am: TSC and I are now both awake. We get up. He gets dressed in his "first day at work" outfit. I make coffee.

06.00am: I strip the duvet covers off the bed and chuck them in the wash to rid myself of the temptation of getting back into bed.

06.30am: TSC leaves for work. I sit down at my PC and start typing the longest email ever to my colleague, trying to sort out the messy situation going on.

07.00am: I open the front door for our once-a-week domestic worker and continue with my email.

08.05am: As I'm about to finish the email, the power trips. I yell unmentionable things at my PC and at Eskom. I pace up and down panicking (loudly now) about how I'm going to fit in all my work with no electricity. I decide to go to gym and do an 08.30am pilates class to calm down, reasoning that the power should be back on when I get home.

09.35am: Feeling self-satisfyingly zen after pilates, I float to the locker room to shower and change. Upon opening my gym bag, I find everything is sparkly green. My bright, sparkly green eyeshadow that I hardly ever wear somehow came along for the ride today and burst in my make-up bag, somehow managing to leak out of that too and coat pretty much everything in sight.

10.00am: I am given the evil eye by the gym cleaning staff as I painstakingly wash green sparkliness off my hairbrush, make-up, moisturizer, flip-flops etc in the gym basin, which has just been cleaned, leaving Leprochaun magic dust in my wake. Everything from my black pants to my hands now has a shimmering green tinge to it. The cleaning staff tut. I debate saying something snarky along the lines of, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

10.20am: I arrive home. There is still no power. Grumbling I pack the laptop into its bag, sort through all my work for the day, pack the papers I need and wipe off green shine from my cell phone. I get in the car and drive to the nearest coffee shop with WiFi, leaving my cleaning lady, Margaret, with instructions to phone me when the power comes on.

10.30: I arrive at the coffee shop, wait for parking, park, pick up the laptop bag and start trudging towards the pavement when my phone rings. It's Margaret. The power is on. I can come home.

11.00 - 15.30: I work like a demon, stopping only to intercept emails that make me cry from my work colleague (in response to the one I spent two hours composing), marvel at the taste of green eyeshadow and panic loudly.

17.00: Having dropped Margaret off, I stop at the haberdashery to pick up some needles for my sewing machine, then return home to start supper, only to discover that the cottage cheese I was planning on using is off (I wanted to make spinach-filled cannelloni with a napolitana sauce). I get back in the car, head to Woolies and pick up a new tub. I make the drive home yet again, waving at the bemused security guards at the gates of our complex for the umpteenth time today.

18.00: I make supper. This entails cooking the spinach, mixing it with cottage cheese, blitzing it with a stick blender and funneling the green mixture into the pasta tubes with a piping bag. Can you see where this is going? Can you tell that I'm going to get covered in green again?

19.00: Having wiped down the green kitchen counters, pots and other utensils covered in spinach mixture that shot out of the piping bag with great force when the nosil clogged, I sit down to write a blog post. Still wiping green streaks off my face.

So that was my green day. On the upside...

  • The spinach mixture was nothing compared to the mess that I dealt with last week Wednesday when our pressure cooker exploded soup all over the kitchen walls and cupboards, five minutes before my church small group arrived for a soup supper.
  • I no longer have to wonder whether that green eyeshadow suits me, as there's none left to wear.
  • TSC made it to work on time and had a fantastic first day (he arrrived home a few minutes ago). I'm going to hear all about it now.
  • Supper turned out to be delicious. The kitchen counter tops agree.
  • I have a brand spanking new laptop, which means I can retire The Sheep*. The new one is also red and shiny. Makes me happy! And it's not green. I shall call it the fox**.
  • I had a conversation with the colleague this afternoon and I think things are ok. Not sure, but I'm tentatively optimistic, which is pretty impressive in itself after a day like today, methinks.
  • The Tuesday that thought it was a Monday is coming to a close.
  • I ended on an even number of bullet points.

*Our old laptop, so named because it is roughly the size, weight and intelligence of said animal. It was also previously known as Lucifer until I realised that people in internet cafes were beginning to think I was invoking the name of the devil.

**Because it is small, sly and foxy looking. And red. Not green.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The good, the bad and the fugly

  1. TSC starts his new job next week. He's super excited and I am so pleased for him. I think that adjusting to the new routine may take some time, but this really is a wonderful opportunity.
  2. I'm really bonding with some of the women in my small group that I've been trying to get to know better for ages now... great break through! I met with one for coffee yesterday and another one today and I'm excited that they've opened up to me. It's the start of great friendship, I believe.
  3. I ran into an ex-colleague today for the first time in almost 3 years. Things didn't end well between us and I've always wished we'd patched things up better, but there was lots of hurt and I honestly didn't think she wanted me in her life, so I let her be. But she approached me today when she could've walked away and we had a quick catch-up, which was awesome. I think about her lots and wonder how she's doing, so it was exciting to hear all the good things happening in her life. She's getting married and doing some work on her own and she looks fantastic. It made my day. I nearly cried.

TSC has one really moronic lecturer at varsity - one of those childish people who would not cope out in the real world. All the students try to collect old test papers to get some idea of what their exam questions will look like and how to prepare. This is fairly normal practice and all of TSC's other lecturers encourage it. Not this man.
Anyway, last year he made the mistake of using one of his old test questions exactly as it was with no changes (which is against university policy). One of the students (let's call him T), who had the old test paper, got 100%. The lecturer made the whole class rewrite a new test, which he made much, much harder than any other test, and he hasn't let it drop. Apparently he's found some of test papers missing from his departmental file and has assumed that T stole them.

He apparently phoned T last week, swore at him, told him he's going to make sure he gets expelled and that if he sees him on campus he'll have security remove him. T phoned TSC close to tears. The lecturer then took TSC aside at class last night and asked him if he has any old test papers and where he got them. TSC said yes and that he'd got them from the department's secretary, C. The lecturer then stormed into C's office, insulted her and told her he's arranging a disciplinary hearing and that he's going to try to get her in as much trouble as possible for handing over test papers to the students. C was understandable angry and upset, even though she's done nothing wrong. She phoned TSC, who feels terrible that he's dragged her into this whole mess.

It's just such a childish, stupid situation. The lecturer should not have used the same question in the first place. Chop.

I would so desperately like to give him a slap.


Remember awhile ago I have having issues with two of the people I work with? I thought it was all sorted out. Apparently not.

It's all so flipping complicated! I've tried to explain the situation here and erased the paragraph four times now.

Basically, the situation sucks and there's no easy way out of it. It's nobody's fault, but someone is going to get hurt and one of the relationships is going to get damaged. On the one hand, I have to try to save a three-year business relationship with someone I owe a lot to. And on the other hand I have to grow my business and relationships that will help me to do so.

The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a way to do both in this situation. And it's stressing me out to the point that I have not slept for two nights now.


Anyone have a deserted island I can escape to for a bit?

Monday, 14 March 2011


Pic from here.

TSC got a job! And it's a great opportunity, not like the last dodgey offer he got. He starts next week. So proud of him!

Stability - at last.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Worry warrior

I worry too much. People are always telling me that. And it's true. But I'm good at worrying. If worrying were a competitive sport I would be like the Tiger Woods (except no dodgey hanky panky) or the Fernando Alonso (except with better kept eyebrows).

Random aside: I just realised I know very little about female sportspeople. Sad.

Anyway, the point is that I could kick your ass at worrying. And then I'd worry about having offended you, apologise and offer to let you prove you're a better worrier than me.

One of the things I worry about a lot is my writing. I feel like I shouldn't really get paid for it. If I didn't, we wouldn't eat, so I'm glad there are people out there willing to pay me for it, but I personally think they're off their heads.

Now I know some of you very nice blog people will feel obliged to tell me that you think I write very nicely, but the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of you (can there be a vast majority in a handful of people?) have not seen my writing.

Yes, you've seen my writing here on my blog. But you haven't seen my writing writing - the stuff I write for clients; the stuff out of which I make my living; the stuff I get paid to write.

And even if you have seen a piece of my writing, let's say a magazine article, you haven't seen all the other stuff I write - brochures, website copy, press releases, annual reports (can anyone say "ugh"?), personal profiles, case studies... the list goes on.

They are all different types of copy that require different styles. And every single time I have to do something new, I freak out that it won't be good enough and the client will wonder why the hell they pay me money. Or they'll refuse to pay me money. Which is worse.

Case in point: this week I had to write someone's CV. Bear in mind that I've only every written about five CVs and they were for me, TSC and a few friends. We are young(ish), inexperienced start-out career seekers, so there's really not that much info to put in a CV. Easy peasy.

But this dude... He's a senior executive at one of SA's biggest manufacturing companies and he's been working for 20 years. He's been at his present company for 10 years. Writing his CV... very different. Very difficult.

He needed something WOW that would make him stand out, not a 25-point list of impressive things he's done at his company. His CV looked like a shopping list. It was BAD. Technically, anything I wrote should be better than what he had. But I am WORRIED.

I've researched CVs. I've studied examples. I've given my draft to a recruiter friend for some critical feedback and I've now sent him the first draft. And now I wait. And worry. Worry, worry, worry.


It was the same with the book I ghost wrote for my client, which turned out just fine. It was the same with the trade presenter I did for an ad agency two weeks ago. Still waiting on that one. And worrying.

I feel like a fraud. Like I'm pretending to be a writer and one day someone will discover I'm actually just me - good at spouting nonsense. And a champion worrier. But not much of a journalist.

Having lost my big retainer client (even though it was because they need the money to hire more sales people, not because of something I wrote. Or so they say), my confidence has taken a knock. But I have to go and find work. This means marketing myself. Marketing myself means telling people why they should hire me. How can I do that if I'm still asking myself the same question?!


I know what I need to do in terms of marketing:
  • Finish setting up my website
  • Update my easy peasy CV
  • Start actually handing out my pretty business cards instead of just looking lovingly at them sitting in a box on my desk
  • Try not to let clients catch glimpses of my neurotic behaviour
  • Start a Twitter account in my real name and use it regularly for work stuff (Blergh... not keen)
  • Ask current clients for recommendations
  • Collect testimonials
  • Start to believe that there's a reason people pay me to write
  • Start a work blog. Maintain total separateness (is that a word? Can I be a writer if I don't even know the answer to that question?) between that blog and this blog (I would DIE if clients read my navel-gazing nonsense here).
  • Pitch ideas to magazines I want to write for. Try not to grovel whilst doing so.
  • Consider valium as a new inclusion in my diet.
  • Learn not to be so hung up about ending on an even number of bullet points.
Now the challenge is to actually get to doing them. Instead of just worrying.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Food fix and funny faux pas...

As mentioned yesterday, I have two guys staying with me who are not used to eating with a knife and fork. I'd already bought those giant mushrooms for TSC and I (we eat vegetarian once or twice a week), so I decided to make the mushrooms into burgers. They were awesome.

I grilled the mushrooms with a little olive oil and garlic and popped them onto breadrolls spread with basil pesto and a little mayo, plus sliced tomato and some lettuce. Mmmm! Served them with mielies (that's corn on the cob for non-Saffas) as a side.

Tonight I'm doing my bolognese / bolognaise sauce (Italian or French spelling? Which is better?) with small pasta shells that are easy to manage with a spoon.

Tomorrow night's dish... I have no idea yet.

Anyhoo, let me leave you with something from the funniest site I have seen in ages, Damn You Auto Correct (thanks to dbawiw for linking to it on her blog). TSC and I laughed so hard at the auto correct bloopers last night that we were both crying. Our guests found it somewhat disturbing.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Words and pictures

It's been a busy time. TSC's dad was in hospital for a few days to have a kidney stone removed. The process was more painful than expected and TSC and his family have been quite stressed. We also had a lot on this weekend and TSC's helpers, Isak and Johannes, have been staying with us on and off to help him out on the odd jobs he's doing, which has meant no real privacy for a bit.

The weekend was good, despite being busy. I am so broke after Hobby-X, although I came away with awesome loot. I have lots of craft ideas now - just no time to execute them! On Saturday afternoon we had a picnic in the Pretoria Botanical Gardens to say farewell to my friend and her hubby, which was lovely, but made me sad. We also went to Moo Moo for supper with my folks, which was great.

Thankfully, after a mad Saturday, we got to spend Sunday chilling with my folks at their place. It was the perfect day - naps, good chats, swimming, a great Sunday lunch and a leisurely walk around the estate where they live. TSC and I felt like we were on holiday. Neither of us was keen to come back to our house to do laundry ;-) Being a grown-up... *sigh*

Isak and Johannes are with us for the rest of the week, which is challenging in terms of cooking because they struggle to eat with a knife and fork. We did a braai for them the week before last and burgers last week and I've made a chickpea curry with rice, which is easy to eat with a spoon, but I'm running out of ideas! Especially seeing these odd jobs are always last-minute, so I've already bought ingredients for food for TSC and I this week. I was planning on grilled black mushrooms with some nice toppings for tonight with sides of salad and roast potatoes, but you can't eat those with your fingers or a spoon. Well, not without some difficulty, that is. Any bright ideas?

In other news, TSC's cell phone contract was due for renewal, so he got a new BlackBerry yesterday. His is much fancier than mine and he's very happy with it. He hasn't stopped playing with it since it came out the box. It's nice to have him on BBM - he's the person I SMS the most, so it's going to save me some money. Yay!

I'm super excited that we're going to see Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco next week. CANNOT WAIT! I really didn't think we'd get tickets and was so bleak that we'd miss it, but my folks stepped in and saved the day.

I have so much work to do today, so I'll sign off and leave you with a few pics...

Sapphire, in the desk drawer next to me. When I'm at my desk, this is where she is.

Marble, loving my high threadcount duvet cover as much as I do. Spoilt boy.

I took this shot at the wedding we were at two weeks ago. I don't know why I love it so much. Maybe it's the contrast between the groom's masculine shoe and the feminine rose petals. Or maybe it's just because I remember how he was almost dancing while he waited for her to arrive and be walked down the aisle - he was just so excited!

Eh... I had more, but they're taking too long to upload. Next time.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Another list

Shot in my gran's garden in Graskop
Stuff I love:
  • People who reply to comments left on their blogs.
  • My new hair. Hah - wait till I wash it tonight and my salon blow-dry is no more. Then I'll hate it for the next week. Predictable.
  • Ginger and peach tea with a little honey.
  • My cats. One is currently sitting in the drawer of my desk next to me, just so she can be close.
  • My camera, which is the most awesome tool. Just looking at my photos on canvas I am amazed at the difference in quality between shots from this camera and my little (lovely for snapshots) compact.
  • Entertaining. Our church small group is having a bring and braai tonight and I'm loving deciding what puddings and salads to make. I'm thinking of trying a recipe for Turkish Delight Mousse. Mmmm.
  • TSC, who just made me filter coffee and brought it up to my office.
  • Being busy. Although I've lost my big retainer client, I've had lots of little jobs come in last week and this week that are keeping me busy and bringing in little bits of money, which will all add up.
  • The fact that it's Hobby-X this weekend. Time to stock up on new craft supplies. Must leave the credit card at home! Temptation abounds.
  • As always, ending on an even number of bullet points :-)
Stuff I don't love:
  • Early morning client phone calls to talk about something that could wait until office hours. Grrr.
  • People who don't do what they say they're going to do.
  • Admin. 'Nuff said.
  • Feeling tired and achy because that's how my body chooses to manifest stress.
  • Our mattress. We bought it when we got married and it's supposed to last 20 years. 4 and a bit years in and it already makes a huge dent where TSC sleeps, even though we turn it every two weeks or so.
  • My bank balance. It was looking impressive because there was a big deposit from SARS, but it belongs to my dad (not sure why SARS stuck it in my account. Maybe because one person handles our whole family's tax stuff?), so now I'm back to my usual, far less impressive, state ;-)
  • Family stuff.
  • Annoying and common spelling mistakes (example: lose / loose. If you lose weight, your clothes will be loose).
  • Not having enough time to write proper blog posts and settling for lists instead.
Updated at 14:25... THIS POST is now also on my list of things I love... laughed so hard!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Hello Tuesday.

I'm so glad it's you and that Monday's gone for this week.

Especially seeing Monday started with a fight with Honda about my car's service plan, which ended in a draw. Well, that's how I'm choosing to see it. Then I got told by their service department that I need new tyres. Joy. More money spent on something that's fallen apart. It appears my car and my house are in collusion. I feel betrayed.

Not really.

Anyhoo... The weekend was at least good. Crazy busy, but good. We took our neighbours out for dinner on Friday and went to a morning wedding on Saturday (which we thought would suck,but actually turned out to be lovely, despite running horribly late). Then we managed to pop over to a birthday party, although not for long because Isak stayed with us Saturday and Sunday evening seeing his company has not paid him again and he needs money desperately. TSC had organised an odd-job for the two of them on Sunday at a mine, "pulling cables", whatever that means.

I was left to my own devices, so I did my usual Pilates class, then met a friend for lunch and then visited another friend for a tea party. It was great, but I didn't get any alone time with TSC the whole weekend, so we'll have to plan some this week.

I saw my friend who's moving to the Cape yesterday for a catch-up before she goes. I'm going to miss her so much :-(

The high point of the day was picking up my photos that I've had printed onto canvas for display in our lounge. I was given vouchers to do so for my wedding anniversary by my folks and I am so chuffed with the results. Now we just need to give the skirtings the final lick of sealant and I'll show you pics of the whole effect.

Today started out far better than Monday - with a much-needed haircut. Yay! Then my mom dropped my granddad off with us while she went to China Mall. He was up here visiting a sick friend and we didn't think we'd get to see him, so it was nice to have him and get to catch up with him too.

Of course, that means I haven't had much time to work (although I've got a lot done in the last two hours), so I'll probably have to do some this evening. Damn. I was hoping to go out for a sushi dinner (something a girl should always do when she has salon-fabulous hair). But finances and time will not allow it. Blergh.

So it's off to write about battery power monitoring devices. Woo hoo. Wish me luck. Or sushi. Preferably the latter.

PS: I'm considering finally ditching Telkom as my ISP and going with Afrihost. Anyone had experience with them?