In an attempt to draft a ‘getting to know me better’ post for you, my awesome readers, I put a post on FB which read, ‘if you could ask me any question, what would it be?’ The response wasn’t all that great, so I searched ‘how well do you know me’ images online and found one with thirty questions:
Do you have an addiction?
If I had to admit an addiction, it would be ice-cream. It is one of the few things I can’t resist – even when the weather is colder than the ice-cream is.
Who is/are your best friend(s)?
I have many besties – all for different reasons. It wouldn’t be fair to single out only one or two.
When is your birthday?
Soon – September 22nd.
What is your current mood?
I’m still a bit cheesed off because of Stage 4 loadshedding, but I’m feeling remarkably chipper otherwise.
I will never tire of the roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.
What is/are your favourite movie(s)?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dirty Dancing, Fatal Attraction, A Few Good Men, An Officer & a Gentleman, Dead Poet’s Society, Shanghai Noon, The Holiday, Two Weeks’ Notice, and Notting Hill.
What is your favourite colour?
What is/are your favourite food(s)?
Homemade: The Toppie’s curry or The Bean’s cottage pie. If I splash out at a restaurant, I prefer a medium-rare steak, sushi, or seafood.
Which of your girlfriends do you trust?
All of them – we wouldn’t have a friendship without trust?
Which of your guy friends do you trust?
See the answer above.
What is/are your favourite TV Show(s)?
Lately I’ve been watching Nurses and Pure Genius and loving them. A few of my all-time favourites though are: Bones, Dr Who, NCIS (all of them), and Suits.
Do you have any insecurities?
Show me someone who doesn’t, and I’ll show you a liar.
What is the last lame joke you heard?
On AlgoaFM Breakfast yesterday, Charlie T told this one:
A woman goes shopping and when she gets back to her car, she sees she locked her keys inside. A man stops, asking if he can help She explains what happens and the man removes his pants, wiping them across the lock on the door and it springs up. She asks how he did it and he replies, ‘these are my khaki pants.´
Who is the last person you hugged?
What is/are your favourite hobby(ies)?
Blogging and more recently, cooking.
Who is the last person you texted?
My colleague, Nikita.
What is a random fact about you?
Before I got my braces, I could fit my fist in my mouth.
What is your current relationship status?
I’m so single that if I was a dollar a stripper’s g-string would spit me out.
Do you have any children?
Of my womb, no; of my heart, many.
Who/What do you miss?
Charlie, Suki, Carmen, and my mind most days.
What is something you hate?
Being woken up when I’m not fully rested. Seriously. Just. Don’t!
What is something you love?
Spending time with my parents and with my friends.
What is something you want?
To travel abroad again.
Who is the last person you called?
If you must know, it was Teresa – and that was on Tuesday night.
Where are you from?
What do you look for in a significant other?
Honesty, integrity, loyalty, trustworthiness, and compassion.
Do you have a morning routine?
Yes. Most mornings it is to try to get to the office on time after working from home for almost five months.
After 126 days in lockdown, there is still no real sign of when a sense of normality will return. I know that life as we knew it before COVID-19 will never be the same, but still, having the freedom to do some of the things we used to, would be nice. Anyhow, I’m not going to rant. It just sets me off into a downward spiral.
There I was, merrily typing away when poof, off went the computer and the deafening silence that only loadshedding brings, set in. We were supposed to be on stage one, but apparently a half hour before 14h00, they upped the ante. I had a number of consequential four-letter words that I silently screamed at Eskom. Aside from work that gets behind, I am worried about the fridge. It has taken to making a loud knocking sound every now and then. I hope it isn’t on it’s way out. Anyhow, I caught up some of the lost hours, with a delicious treat-coffee.
Given that I couldn’t work, I decided to go to the shop for the missing ingredients for the boozy mac and cheese that I keep seeing in my saved FB items.. Holy crap! Dinkum hard cheese is pricey. I’m talking R420 a kilo expensive. To add insult to injury, it is better travelled than I am! Made in Poland, matured in Italy. Pfffffffft!
As I stood with a mere 148 grams of it in my hand, uhm’ing and ah’ing about if I really wanted to try the recipe that much, the Cookery Goddess, Penelope (who has been on hiatus) emerged and said, “For crying in a pot of minestrone soup, you’re willing to toss half a cup of Old No.7 in this dish. Buy the effing cheese!” I knew best not to argue – people tend to look at me funny when I have a conversation with Pen in the middle of the dairy aisle.
I am going to make the mac and cheese tomorrow, assuming Eskom doesn’t put the power off in the early afternoon. Lord knows, this mac and cheese better live up to all the anticipation I have built up and the money I’ve spent on ingredients. Penelope had better come up with other recipes to use this cheese because I’ll be damned if I’m letting it turn into a penicillin-based science experiment in the (possibly retiring) fridge. On the flip-side I got paprika for almost R12 less than the local grocery shop here. The brown sugar was on special too. Penny best be clever there too. Last time she had me buy castor sugar for something and when I eventually wanted to use it, the ants had built slopes in the box and were donning skis.
It is less cold than yesterday, for which I am grateful. Even though there isn’t much warmth in the sun, the light is bright and the sky is blue. The alien tapeworm is also dormant – another thing for which I give thanks. I’ve only had a cup of coffee, my Herbalife shake, and two apples today. Tonight I shall most likely have some fish and roast vegetables.
I tried to wear my ankle boots that have a slight heel. I lasted all of ten minutes walking with them. My ankle did not appreciate being bent at an awkward angle. I very quickly put on the spare pair I had in the boot of my car. The Toppie is always on me about my car being like a travelling wardrobe, but today it was a blessing. My ankle is sore, but without a change of shoes the pain would be worse.
Before lockdown was implemented a hundred and whatever days ago, a few friends and I celebrated a friend’s birthday. There we joked about driving around ever weekend in search of the perfect carrot cake. We even joked about having a van, with WortelKoeke on the outside – the blokes being the wortels and the gals being the koeke. In this spirit, I want to do the same kind of thing, but for the perfect savoury pie, preferably pepper steak.
This may be #TMI, but after shitting through the eye of a needle for four days earlier this month thanks to a dodgy chicken mayo vetkoek sarmie, I’m averse to the idea of eating anything chickeny unless I’ve cooked it myself or seen it being prepared. I don’t wish diarrhoea for days on anyone.
Many South Africans are sad because Nestle is discontinuing Chocolate Log bars. They’ve been around since 1969, but in all my life if I’ve eaten one a year, it’s a lot.
I’m not big on marshmallowy chocolates, except Sweetie Pies; if it has peanut butter in it I will devour it, but failing that anything wafery is good, as is a Peppermint Crisp, Flake or anything by Cadbury. I swear I can taste the glass and a half of milk in every block. When I came back from my holiday to Singapore in 2004, I bought a Cadbury Black Forest slab at the airport. It was deliciously indulgent. I broke off a single block every so often and savoured it. That slab must have lasted at least three months which is a record for chocolate when I’m around.
While infections continue to rise, recoveries go unmentioned, and Eskom continues to freeze us out of the warmth and light many of us pay for, life is good – Rachel the Rocket continues to grow, work chugs along, and I’ve not yet acted on murderous impulses – but, it is only Wednesday…
( I always try not to use real names in my blog, but for this entry, I must. It pays homage to a Grand Old Dame, one who will live on in the hearts of many people. I cannot write from a perspective of knowing many of the other family members, so the fact that I reference only a few is simply because they are who I know.)
There are legends, and then there are legends. I’m not talking about people like dead presidents, imaginary superheroes that stop the world imploding, or people that started some kind of revolution that brought about a type of good in the world.
I’m talking about regular people that have more life experience than many of us could ever hope to have. One such person is Sylvia Palmer aka Shelagh-Rose’s Granny. I also called her Granny. Aunty Sylvia always sounded wrong to me. She passed away in the early hours of this morning at the ripe old age of 100 years, 8 months and 12 days. How many people to you know are even close to that age?
Shelagh-Rose and I have been friends for thirty-one years already, and through it all, Granny had always been there, guiding her. The bond they had was a close one; something incredibly special and in today’s day and age, extremely hard to find.
What never struck me growing up, is that my maternal side of the family knew the Palmers, so my friendship with Shelagh-Rose is more deep-rooted than I knew. I like to think destined.
My Aunty Cathy would often regale the tale of how she, my cousin, Lorna, Douglas (Shelagh-Rose’s uncle), and their friend David took a bike ride down Park Side West. David was in the saddle, Douglas on the carrier, Lorna (Cathy’s niece, my cousin, Douglas’s girlfriend) on his shoulders and Cathy on the handlebars. Yes – four children on one bicycle. It sounds like a circus act! As if that’s not enough to give any one a mild panic attack, the bike had no brakes! David scuffed his shoes to try and stop the bike, which shot across the Marsh/Church Street intersection, finally losing momentum at the dry cleaners close to The Point. I wondered this morning when I heard the news of Granny’s final breath if she every knew of this specific adventure.
The Bean told me a story about how her interactions with both Sylvia and her husband, Ray. They had a shop in town called Palmers. Every day Mrs. Gogerty (who was The Bean’s senior at the Scheltema offices) would send her to Palmers to buy a packet of biscuits for the office and Granny would write it up – back in the day when people were still honest enough to buy on the book.
There are many stories that I’ve heard from Elizabeth about her mother. All of them depict Granny to be a woman of incredible poise, wisdom, and everlasting love for her late husband. The two were married for only ten days before Ray was called up to train for combat in the Second World War. All through it Granny never doubted that The Love of Her Life, her Beloved Ray would one day return to her.
During the war, just before his return home, his platoon drew straws to be flown home, or sent by ship. Ray drew the short straw, which meant a longer journey home, but a journey home indeed. His fellow brothers in arms weren’t so fortunate; their plane was shot down and there were no survivors.
I was in primary (elementary) school when tragedy struck Granny. She was attacked in her home and sexually assaulted by a young criminal. Despite the horror what no woman ever hopes will ever befall her, Granny survived, exuded more grace, and was resolute in her decision to stay in her home of countless years. Elizabeth had a wedding photo taken on the steps of that very house, and years later so did Shelagh-Rose.
Granny lived on her own until the age of ninety-seven, when a nasty fall resulted in her hurting her hip. Strong as an ox she lay in agony for a few days before finally calling Elizabeth for help. As expected, she needed a hip replacement and the shock of major surgery began to take its toll.
Granny got dementia. There were days when her mind was still sharp, and there were others when she didn’t know her own children. She adamantly fought with Shelagh-Rose one day for having a child, but not being married. This while Schalk, Shelagh-Rose’s husband, was in the room with them.
She knew I cared deeply for a friend that works on the cruise ships and kept asking me if we’d got married. I eventually told her we had, that it was the most beautiful wedding and that he was set to be away for a year. She never asked again. I don’t know if she forgot about my phantom nuptials, or if my answer satisfied her enough not to ask again. Either way, I appreciated that until I gave her an answer, she always asked.
One afternoon while she was still staying on the farm with Elizabeth, before her move to the ACVV home where she was well looked after, she told me a story about a woman in the district who would come to fetch her to take her to town to have her hair done. She also told me about the nurse who would visit. Both these people turned out to be Elizabeth. Some much change in such a short time was tough on Granny.
During her stay at the farm, Granny had a need to unpack and repack her cupboards every day. Try as she might, Elizabeth couldn’t convince her mom to stop doing it. Maybe in Granny’s addled mind it brought order, although to Elizabeth it brought some chaos. As short as Granny was, she also always managed to get stuff off the high shelves, but she had to get Schalk to put things back. These things seemed silly and frustrating at the time, but now they won’t ever happen again.
Even though I never visited the home where Granny spent the last few years of her life, and even though I’m not family, I feel incredible gratitude to the staff. From what I’ve heard from Elizabeth and Shelagh-Rose, they cared for Granny with compassion and patience – two characteristics that are often difficult to maintain when working with anyone, particularly an elderly person who for so long was independent, and towards the end was almost as fragile as a newborn baby.
I was privileged to be at Granny’s centenary birthday celebrations last October. I got the job of capturing the moments, not that I’m much good with the camera, but Elizabeth and Shelagh-Rose seemed pleased with the results, so all’s well that ends well. It was a momentous occasion, with Granny as the guest of honour (completely unaware of the celebration). All her family and friends that could be there, were in attendance, including her brother, Robert, who himself is in his seventies. Granny was lucid that day – something which I think her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were happy about. For many, including myself, that is how I will remember her.
On the walls at the party, there were photos of Granny’s life – from the age of knee-high to a grasshopper, to her wedding, and so on. When she saw her wedding photo, she cried. Oh how, she missed her Beloved Ray. It was such a poignant moment. How many of us ever find love, especially a true, everlasting love that not even death can overcome?
Sylvia Palmer, you’ve run a great race. You’ve been a beacon of hope, a shining light, and a pillar of strength to those around you. The wait is over… you are now with Your Beloved Ray. We mourn your departure, but we celebrate your incredible life. Rest in Peace – you’ve earned it!
If for nothing else, this lockdown has taught me to utilise my kitchen. I am not going to lie – if The Cave didn’t come with a dishwasher included in the rent, I would be living in PB&J sammies, served on paper plates and drinking my coffee out of a paper cup.
It’s been a quiet day on the work front. I’m looking forward to going into the office for a bit tomorrow. I have managed to rig up a small table so that I can bring my work PC home because my Mac and our server are still not talking to each other. All the surfaces in The Cave are too high for me to sit at and work. When I first moved in here, I had to stand on a chair to see inside my pots when I cooked. I found my little el-cheapo kitchen island in storage and brought it back home, making cooking a little easier, although I still stand on tippy-toes to see inside my larger pots.