Day 20: Celebrations, Nostalgia and Britcom

Today is day 20 of the lockdown. Like the featured image of this post, it feels as though time moves at a snail’s pace of late. I have slowed down. As I sit typing this post, I can hear the waves crashing in the distance, and the occasional cheep of a wagtail. The local hotel’s resident ducks are also meandering around the neighbourhood by the sounds of things. All these sounds have just been drowned out by an aircraft that is audibly flying very low.

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Frightfully Awful Friday

I was at work today, but I may as well not have been. I woke up to news from Charlie that the ship on which he works has been exposed to COVID-19. Isolation and quarantine are imminent. I am sad, anxious, and unable to concentrate. He was so close to returning home (albeit it to self-isolation here).  

I can only hope that he isn’t infected and that once the mandatory quarantine has passed, the airlines will have resumed their international and regional flights that he can get home.

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Happy Birthday to MMMMEEEEEE!

Yay!  Cake for days…

This is what Tina said when I sent her a picture of the FOURTH cake I’d had in as many days in celebration of my fortieth birthday this past weekend.  It was the absolute best commemoration of my earth-joining ever.  To say I’m all caked-out is an understatement, but knowing me, and my insatiable sweet-tooth, the feeling will pass soon.

On Sunday (my actual birthday) night, as I lay on the couch with a sore tummy (not from cake, but lots of laughter), I felt immense gratitude for my blessings – my parents, my friends and their love for me.  I know I’m special to them, but somehow I was reminded of it, and extremely overwhelmed.

It all started on Friday evening.  Eliza, Nathan and Carmen, along with their little ones hosted a surprise party for me.  There was sushi, the most amazing quiches, milk tart (a South African confection) and a coconut cake.  There was also bubbly…

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We spent the evening on the couch under blankets watching Rocketman.  I have newfound love for Elton John’s music.  When I suffered my major depressive episode earlier this year, I would often play I’m Still Standing, singing along at the top of my lungs.  Then I’d burst into tears afterwards.

The next morning I woke up at 06:15.  For those of you a little slow on the uptake, it was Saturday.  Who in their right mind wakes up so early?  I’ll tell you:  People that are (almost) forty.  I made the best of it with a cappuccino as I watched the sunrise.  This photo doesn’t do it justice.

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The afternoon The Bean, some of my closest girl friends and Cousin Lara got together for a vintage high tea at Déjà vu Vintage House.  The Bean and I even “bopped” on the stage and the pillbox hat I was wearing came right off.

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We regaled stories and shared memories and Cousin Lara had us in stitches with some of her tales.  Our host, Joan, baked a royal lemon and elderflower cake for the occasion and her husband, De Waal took many photographs for us.

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The day was perfect.  It ended with The Bean, The Toppie, Elizabeth and I staying over in Eliza and Nathan’s Airbnb, Eagle’s Rest.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling different.  I can’t pinpoint what exactly is different, but something is.   It makes me excited and hopeful for the future.  That morning, I did something that I’ve always loved:  I crept into bed with my folks and had coffee with them.  I realize more and more that these moments often taken for granted are going to be no more some time in the future, so I cherish them even more now.  We had a lazy morning before heading off to The Cork & Plunger for lunch.  As always, the food and service was en-point.  This was also where we enjoyed cake number three, a Vegas-themed one, baked by one of my colleagues, Marjorie.  The wording underneath the cards reads A Royal Start to a New Decade.  After way too much food, everyone went their separate ways.

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Yesterday I got to work and there was another cake, again baked by Marjorie.

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I got a lovely card from my colleagues.  Many of the messages inside touched me deeply, but one in particular brought tears to my eyes.  It read “May you receive the abundant kindness you always give to everyone around you”.  Even just thinking about it makes me emotional.  I’ve always said that I want to be remembered for something.  To be remembered for kindness is better than my name on a plaque.  I’m blessed to know that I do reach people and that it is my heart that they see.

I’ve made a promise to myself – to be as kind to myself as I am to others. Cheers to forty!

Friends – The Real Family

Cousin Lola always used to tell me when I was younger, “God lets you choose your friends, because you can’t choose your family.” I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately, especially since The Toppie lost his job at the beginning of the month.  Family are nowhere to be seen – and yes, I’ll concede that some of them are estranged because of bad attitudes, stupid feuds and stubbornness.  I keep coming back to the adage “blood is thicker than water”.  I don’t see much of my family, and to me it’s not really a big deal – there is no animosity between any of us (well almost any), it’s just that we move in different circles, and we have virtually nothing in common.  These family members are those that I don’t ask for anything, nor they from me.  It works.

But then…let’s face it – we all have someone with whom our DNA is interwoven that quite frankly we’d rather not be related to.  Others unfortunately join the ranks through marriage.  The upside of this is that the feeling is usually mutual and as a result paths don’t cross that often.  These people are the ones that you might bump into at a wedding, or a funeral. In my experience it’s usually the latter.  I could chalk it up to paying respects, but sometimes attendance is merely to say I’m still around, Fam-i-ly, just in case… you know, my name might be appearing in late Uncle Joe’s will.  I always did love that landscape painting by Obscure Artist that hung in his dining room.  What my hypothetical Wannabe Art Collector doesn’t know is the good ol’ Uncle Joe ended up on the bones of his arse and worked himself into his grave to keep his wife safe and cared for as he promised her a lifetime ago in front of many of the people at this very funeral. It doesn’t say much for my Wannabe Art Collector, but it does speak to the kind of person Uncle Joe was.

Moving away from hypothetically dearly departed Uncle Joe, and back to the reality at hand…

The past three months have been hell for my parents.  The Toppie had a tough time at work (more than that I am not allowed to say at this stage), and he was let go four days into 2019, tensions were (still are!) high because of rising costs and the place they’re living is in an industrial area, so human contact is almost non-existent.  I’ve tried my best to get them to come and stay with me (as hard as the adjustment would be for all of us, and they’ve declined), and they’re both still competent, so I cannot force the issue.  I’ve tried too to get even a little help from some family members who should as far as I’m concerned have a moral duty, but with no success.  It’s disillusioning to say the least. I hate seeing the two people I care about most in this world have to suffer as they are, when there are people that knew where my parents were when a hand or Rands were needed. The only thing I have to console myself is not everyone thinks like-, nor were they raised like me.  Add to that, that God doesn’t sleep and I do feel a little better about things.

But, as I have learned in an attempt to become more enlightened, I look to what I can be grateful for in this situation – and it is for friends.  From the ones that travelled from Cape Town in September last year and brought my parents a crate of non-perishables and some meat, to the one that baked them some biscuits, so that they’d have something nice to nibble on over Christmas, to the one that drew money out of her bond to loan to me so they could pay their car (and yes it’s a loan to me, which is to be paid back), to the ones that gave The Toppie a painting job so the rent could be paid, to the ones that are sharing a post I’ve put on Facebook to try and help The Toppie find a job to keep him busy and bring some money in, to the one that lets me travel with her to work, so that I can help my folks out with some things they need, to the one that sent me money to take The Bean and The Toppie out for their anniversary.  These people have zero obligation to help at all, but they care about me, and by extension about The Toppie and The Bean.

You know who you are, and I just want you all to know that everything you all do for me (no matter how big or small), is valued and appreciated.  I’m grateful to each one of you, and I’m proud to call you all family.

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Candles in the Wind…

This past fortnight has been quite emotional for me.  It can be written off to the Mirena I had put in when the doctor did the other two procedures in November last year.  It’s normal.  Apparently.  I must just ride the wave.  Does that mean surf’s up?

Last week was a particularly bad week for me.  I would go from zero to bitch to activist to snivelling heap, to centre of attention to strong silent type in a matter of minutes.  Add to that I sometimes have foreboding premonitions and well, you pretty much have a category five hurricane on your hands.

I don’t often have these gut feelings, but when I do, they’re generally not wrong.  My friend Cassey was on my mind a great deal last week, and instead of just touching base, I kept putting it off.  Turned out she, along with another friend of mine, both lost parents last week, and one of my FB friends lost her brother, but the heartbreak doesn’t stop there 😦  On Saturday Shayla-Rae let me know that a couple of our former teachers lost their eldest son in a tragic drowning accident.  He was only seventeen.  A young man, with his entire future ahead of him.  It puts things in perspective for me once again.  Life is precious and in the blink of an eye, it can be ended, whether after a long illness, or in a heart-rending accident.  It also leaves one asking Why? Why did God decide to snuff their candles out?  Only He knows…

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In the bigger scheme of things – you all know how scared I am to lose my parents, but having heard of all this loss this past week, I’m grateful The Toppie only broke his arm.  It could have been a lot worse.  A few people have sent well-wishes after my post about The Toppie.  As I said, going back to work did him the world of good.  I also think it saved The Bean from committing murder 😀  The next bridge to cross is when the plaster comes off.  I’ll give y’all another update shortly after.

On a happier note, I’m having a catch-up with Carmen after work tonight.  She’s visiting her parents for a few days.  Can’t wait to have a decent chinwag with her.  Even though I saw her three weeks ago, it feels like years has passed.

Have a great week everyone, and remember – tell the important people in your life that they mean something to you.  You never know when they won’t be around anymore!

The Toppie: An Ulnar Fracture Update

Quite a few of you have enquired about The Toppie and his broken arm.  So, instead of repeating the same thing over and over, I thought it best to let you all know the way I did just after it happened.

One thing I can tell you from this experience is that I am grateful I have never broken a bone.  The closest I’ve come is having torn the ligaments in my left ankle some years back.  Accidents happen in the blink of an eye, I tell you.  One minute I was strolling along admiring the Tsitsikamma scenery, the next minute I stepped wrong and bam, swollen blue ankle.  I don’t care who-, or how old you are, unless you have some serious psychological illness, you don’t hurt yourself on purpose or you might suffer from Munchausen Syndrome, but then you’re merely only pretending to be sick.  The bad thing is, an injury like torn ligaments, tendons and broken bones have repercussions for the rest of your life and they get worse as you age.   It’s almost three years down the line and I still have issues when it comes to walking long distances, even more so on uneven ground.

Okay, getting back to The Toppie… the whole ordeal took the obvious physical toll on him, but for the few days he was at home, The Bean and I were very concerned about his mental state too.  He was understandably frustrated because he had to do everything with his left hand, but clearly worried about stuff too.  At one stage I wanted to start calling him Snappy.

He went back to the hospital on December 28th, eleven days after the fall and the temporary cast was removed.  Not all good news, but not morbidly dark report either.  After new x-rays were taken, they showed the bone had moved into the right position and there appeared to be no visible swelling.  The doctor on duty also sent the images to another doctor in a neighbouring town who looked at them too.  Both were satisfied with the progress to date.  The concerning factor was that the open wound on the forearm hadn’t closed entirely and to prevent infection The Toppie was given a course of antibiotics, a petroleum jelly gauze was applied and then he got a proper, hard, plaster cast.  It turned out to be quite a bit heavier than the temporary one and the sling the hospital had given him, did zero to support it.  Uncle Barry lent him a fancy adjustable one, like the one pictured below, which made a mountain of difference, because it reduced a lot of the discomfort.

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He got asked to come into work during his sick leave tenure to help out, driving with one arm, potentially risking not only his own life behind the wheel, but those of other road users too.  Obstinate! He continued to help out, because in our Sleepy Hollow town, December and January are particularly busy months. This resultd in him ending up working for almost two of the three weeks he was booked off.  He said though that the team of ladies he supervises were stellarly helpful, not allowing him to do anything that might result in him causing himself further injury.  It did help a bit to keep his mind occupied at least.

Last weekend when I visited there, he mentioned that his left arm is starting to ache, so much so, that he even started drinking the pain medication again, after having weaned himself off it.  I’m of the personal opinion it is because he has overcompensated with it because he stubbornly hasn’t heeded medical warning, but he swats my words away like an irritating blow fly.

The next appointment is set for February 1st.  The cast is due to be removed during that visit, and new x-rays will be taken and further action, if necessary.  In the meantime, we’re all trying to stay positive and hope for the best.  One thing I will tell you though is every time any one of us has to go down the stairs, the other two parties in the house shout, “Be careful on the stairs!”  Even more so when there’s been a bit of rain because as I mentioned earlier, accidents happen in a split second.

To each one of you reading this, who have sent well wishes and other forms of support, thank you!  It is a comfort to know that there are still some real people out there that do care.

Goodbye April! Things are already better in May…

Inspiration.  It comes from the strangest of places sometimes most times.  More often than not, it isn’t really subtle either…

Today, the Giggling Gourmet, @Jenny Morris, whom I follow on Facebook posted a quote by Marilyn Vos Savant:

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If you read my previous post, you will be more than aware of how defeated I felt, how close I was to tossing it all in the fuck-it-bucket and having a pity party of epic proportions.  Giving up really did look like a promising option.  Not only because of my flooded flat, which more than two weeks later has still not been assessed by the insurance for damages, but because of the struggles my parents have faced of late.

Mom still mourns Marley daily, and their living conditions leave a lot to be desired, but, with that said, acceptance of- or resignation to the fact that this is how things may be for the foreseeable future, has made things a little easier to deal with.  I still hate having to see my parents live in an industrial area where all sorts of noxious fumes are the order of the day, especially with Mom’s propensity to bronchitis and asthma.  The confined space that she and Dad have to share is also not ideal because he is frustrated to the point of physical aggression.  Just yesterday, he tried to hang a shelf which he spent hours making.  A piece of the wood split when he drilled it into the wall and he almost smashed the thing to pieces with the hammer.  It worries me a great deal.  I wish there was something I could do, but short of holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to come and live with me, my hands are tied.

Then of course, there are the tired expressions, such as, “this too shall pass”, or “it could be worse”, or “count your blessings, not your problems”, which I will admit, are all true.  Hearing these platitudes from people who actually are in my- and my parents’ life is acceptable, but I have to muster every last bit of self-control not to tell other people who know us, but prefer to live in happy obliviousness in their ivory towers, to shut the hell up.

Before I get lynched, I have the greatest respect for the trials we all have to face, but no two situations are the same.  Your wife leaving you for another man is regrettable and tragic, but so is my parents’ loss of almost everything they worked hard to build up.  I could go on like a long-playing record, but I would rather not rant more than is necessary.

In between all of this drama, I had to still find time to complete my second assignment before my upcoming exams in June.  I finished and handed in by the deadline, but part of me feels that had things been a bit calmer, I could have done more.  I anxiously await the results.

Since last week I have received incredible support from not only my friends and my colleagues.  Elizabeth and her parents put me up for a few nights, feeding me well (she still makes the best chicken pie in the whole world!) and allowing me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings.  The restlessness of living out of a suitcase got to me though and I opted to take a colleague and his wife up on their offer of staying in the granny flat on their property until such time that my flat is habitable again.  At first I was hesitant, but after arriving, and seeing a beautiful bunch of proteas on the table to welcome me, I immediately felt at home.

The stability of a “home-away-from-home” without distractions, has afforded me the opportunity to begin revision for my final exam.  Heaven knows, I want to get this subject over and done with.  Having failed twice, many years ago, I’m hoping that the third time will indeed be a charm, otherwise I will forfeit all the credits I have obtained to date, and then have to do the entire year over, which is something I cannot afford.  So, putting the positive vibes out there – when I receive the notification that I have passed my Diploma in International Trade (Exports) exam, I will be celebrating with something bubbly – even if it is just sparkling mineral water.

The messages of care from friends far and wide have been a comfort in a time that has been so dark for my parents and I.  A surprise visit from a Capetonian friend last weekend also did a lot to lift our spirits, as did a visit with Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and some friends.  Speaking of Uncle Barry – he worked incredibly hard to get dad’s car running again, which we are all so grateful for.  Dad can now get to work every day without hassles or stressing about rapturous steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Eliza and Nicholas have invited me to eat with them in the evenings (as they are very close to where I am residing for the interim), so I don’t have to cook.  Yay!

To every single one of you, who has, despite your own storms, blessed my parents and I with words of encouragement, a loan to keep the bank from taking my car back, a pot of soup, a bed to sleep in, an ear to listen, a long, flaming-hot shower, a back & neck destress massage or who did a load (more like a mountain!) of washing.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  You are the people that I will roll a boulder out of the way for.

So yes, things are not ideal, but they are 100% more ideal than they were in April.  And for that, I’m grateful, because while we’ve been defeated, we’re a long shot from giving up.

 

2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

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Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

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June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

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July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

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In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

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September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

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I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

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My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

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The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

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One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

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Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

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The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

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Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

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The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

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There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

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