Takers and Fakers

I mentioned that the Budget Speech was done last Wednesday. I also discussed the failings of the current government to adequately plan for the number of children in the Western Cape province and how 10k children have no placement in a school. I found it rather ridiculous that the ANC blamed the high levels of uneducated Africans solely on the past years of apartheid when the ANC have been in power for over 20 years. From what I have seen the ANC have done very little to better the cause of their constituents during those 20 plus years.

Unemployment in January 2018 was 26.7% as compared to the official unemployment rate in 1994, as recorded by Statistics South Africa, which was approximately 20%. The ANC have failed to improve in this area either and the two issues are intrinsically linked. Education is one of the paths out of poverty and unemployment.

Statistics SA calculates an “expanded rate” of unemployment which includes people who do not have a job and are available to work but have not taken active steps to look for work. Calculations using the expanded rate put unemployment at 31.5% in 1994 and 35.6% between July and September 2013. So either way you slice the data, the ANC is failing to progress the living conditions of the voters.

It is estimated that 53 million girls do not have access to education. This can be due to many different reasons but some of the girls are too isolated to be able to attend a physical school and so a proposal was made to the African Union (AU) Summit by the ONE foundation which suggested digital learning could be a way to reach many children. Globally there are so many challenges to getting access to education and this needs to be addressed strategically, hopefully the new first lady will help to further that agenda.

Another issue compromising the rights of young girls is the high incidence of sex trafficking and child trafficking and other ways of suppressing these young girls from living their best lives. A crazy situation has just literally blown up in South Africa. This oppression was done in the name of religion.

Back in February 2016 a raid was done on the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry church where 18 kids between the ages of 7 and 13 years of age were removed from the care of the church. This was after months of investigation into the practices of the church where it was identified that none of the children there were being allowed to go to an external school and were also not being educated by the church. This is illegal to not educate a school aged child and so the police removed the children on the instructions of the Social Development MEC.

A report by chapter 9 institution the CRL Rights Commission was presented to Parliament’s portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs in October last year where they warned it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told City Press that she interviewed the cult leaders in 2016 during her investigation into church practices and made the parliamentary committee aware of her “serious concerns” however for some reason this case seems to have slipped through the many governmental cracks and the predictions by the CRL report were realised when the cult leaders ran out of money and then decided it would be a good idea to go on a crime spree in the hopes of topping up their coffers.

The cult members ambushed a police station in Ngcobo on the Eastern Cape. There were 5 police staff killed as well as an off duty soldier. Three of the SAPS members were shot on site while two additional members were kidnapped before being killed and left on the side of the road. During the attack, ten firearms and a police van were stolen from the police station, and an ATM a short distance from the police station was robbed.

Investigations into the raid on the police station led the police to the doors of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry church yet again where another shoot out occurred, this time the interaction left seven people dead and resulted in 10 arrests. Further exploration of the ‘church’ premises revealed that there were approximately 100 girls here who were being kept as sex slaves. These children ranged in age from infants to teens. The adults who lived on the premises were not allowed to leave the compound either.

If only the government had acted on the report they could have saved those girls from years of sexual abuse and gotten them into a school so that they could get an education.

There has been some rather horrid news over the last week.

There was a post going around social media regarding a woman who went missing on her way to work on Thursday, a notice was put out by the Pink Ladies organisation. 57-year-old Gill Packham‚ a teacher at Springfield Convent in Wynberg‚ was reported missing by a relative on Thursday morning. On Thursday night a burning BMW was discovered at the train station in Diep River and a body was discovered in the boot of the car. It is feared but not confirmed that this body is the missing teacher. I pray that she died prior to them setting the car alight as that would be a horrendous way to die. I feel so sad for her children and loved ones. Such a senseless death.

We also heard on the radio that there was some sort of taxi war going down on Thursday night in Hout Bay, very near our home. There were reports of gun shots from multiple people.

“Hout Bay police have now confirmed that a 22-year-old man was killed during a shooting incident outside the OK Mini-Mart in Hout Bay on February 22.

The shooting, which occurred at 9.30pm, is believed to be related to a taxi war.

“Another victim was shot inside the OK Mini Mart and sustained injuries to his head. He was transported to Groote Schuur Hospital,” said Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch. “A murder case and attempted murder case were opened. No arrests have been made as yet. All leads are being followed up to establish the cause of the incident.”

Rumours were circulating that this incident was linked to the most recent fire in the township. The fire is rumoured to have been caused by a fight over taxi routes. The man who allegedly started that fire has gone into hiding and the way things work in the community is that if you are not there to pay the price of your actions yourself then a family member will be given your punishment. The rumours are that one of the victims was the brother of the alleged arsonist.

The local Driftwood Restaurant & Pub in Hout Bay was reported to have been robbed by 4 armed men the morning after the shoot out. This was potentially an inside job as the takings from the previous night were all on site. There are various gambling machines in the pub which also would have been emptied. Who knew the patterns of the bank deposits? This has happened before at this same venue.

I had a relaxed weekend at home despite all of the chaos swirling around the village. Norm was away from Friday morning when he flew to Zambia at ridiculous o’clock in the morning. He left the house at 4.30am but I did not hear him tiptoe out, I only woke when Josh left for work.

Friday night Josh and I stayed in and ordered a curry from the Indian Oven and it was ever so delicious as always. As I had been awake so early that morning and Josh was working the next day we were both asleep by 10pm.

Saturday I had a friend pop by to drop off some cleaning products that I bought, but other than that I had a lazy day just doing not much of anything. Of course everything I do is accompanied by my shadow.

I started watching a new series called Retribution on Netflix. There were only 4 episodes in the series and I binge watched them all on Saturday night. It was such a great show, I really recommend it and give it a full 5 Kitten stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday I had to emerge from my nest and go shopping so I showered and went down to the village. I did not bother to put on make up so of course I saw so many people I know. Typical.

I decided to cook a beef curry for that evening and I put in loads of veggies and lentils and some cannelloni beans. It cooked all day and we had it that evening for dinner. I forgot to buy any cauliflower rice so we just had it as is with some poppadoms and some chicken samoosas I bought at woolies.

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Beef and veggie curry

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Norm arrived home late on Sunday night so I waited up for him to get in. I am never sure who is more excited to see him, me or the dogs. Navajo has barely been eating while Norm was away and he is also limping on his back leg again. I am not sure if this is just amateur dramatics or whether he really has a problem. He is a bit of a drama queen.

On Monday Vanessa came around to do my pedicure and after she left I made dinner. I had cooked a bolognaise sauce on Sunday afternoon. I sliced up a couple of aubergines and fried them to make sure they cooked properly. I then created a sort of Lasouka or Mousana. (What you get if a Moussaka and a Lasagna had a baby.)

I layered the meat sauce in the bottom of the pan and topped it with a layer of the fried aubergines.

They were not as burnt as they look trust me, I am a Mousana Master. I then added a layer of ricotta cheese and topped with a layer of sliced mozzarella and baked it all for about 30-40 minutes.

It was very rich with all of the cheese, it would have been fine without the ricotta. But it was rather tasty and was a nice change from my usual low carb lasagna.

We have had a bit of rain here and there as well and the current estimate for Day Zero is July 9th.

Our new president has announced his new cabinet and I am rather disappointed to see that it is littered with Gupta owned Zuma supporters. His choices are driven by what is good for the ANC, not what is good for the country.

I am most disappointed in the retention of Bathabile Dlamini. Her incompetence has been proven many times over. David Mabuza will be sworn in as the Deputy President of South Africa which is also a slap in the face of all of us as he has been surrounded by scandal and corruption charges. A few of the ministers who did get moved out were a relief so it is not all doom and gloom. However this was a missed opportunity to do a proper clear out of the Gupta-ites and Zuma sycophants.

Ramaphosa only gets two kitten stars for this new cabinet. And that is me being incredibly generous.

⭐️⭐️

I’ve got my eye on you Cyril!

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

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Dirt, Water & Foxes

Last Thursday South Africa swore in Cyril Ramaphosa as our new President and the State of the Nation Address (SONA) occurred on Friday. I have added in a clip of some of the high points as the full speech is rather long. This clip highlights the difference in how our new President Ramaphosa expresses himself in comparison to the way that Zuma stumbled along unintelligibly in his resignation shown in the clip from my last blog.

Our new President has stated that he intends to put SA back on track and to rid the government of corruption and release the country from state capture.

For one, Ramaphosa has vowed to focus on resolution of the issues we are currently having with the management and corruption of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This hopefully means good bye to both Lynne Brown, Minister of Public Enterprises and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane both of whom are also allegedly on the payroll of the Gupta family and instrumental in state capture. Ramaphosa has said he will implement governance to stop board members from being  involved in any processes related to procurement to mitigate the risk of conflict of interest.

Our electricity parastatal Eskom has been the focus of many investigations into corruption and state capture.  The CFO, Anoj Singh recently resigned and the investigations seem to be heating up. The former CEO Brian Molefe has been ordered to pay back the 11 million Rand he was illegitimately paid from the state owned company as part of his supposed ‘pension’ pay out when in fact he resigned due to the allegations of state capture from the public prosecutor’s report, he did not retire. He also has to pay almost 2 Million in legal costs. He tried to blag that he retired but it was proven that he did not, he ran from the risk of imprisonment due to his hand in the corruption and collusion with the Guptas.

The new president has also promised to clear out of the cabinet of the corrupt members who were allied with Zuma and captured by the Guptas.

In my opinion, one of the first to get the boot should be Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini who has proven her incompetence over and over. If she is not incompetent then that means she really is evil as her mismanagement of the processes to distribute funds intended for the vulnerable children and families in SA is shocking. You can never convince me that she did not get payouts from Cash Paymasters Services (CPS) for continually delaying the roll out of the child services financial processes to being managed by the SA Post Office.

We all got to witness Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba playing Candy Crush on his iPad while our new president spoke. I suspect he was not that interested in the future due to his past and he knows his days are numbered. He was given his current position in order to further capture SA, this time the treasury was in the pocket of the Guptas. The Budget speech was today and full of drama from the EFF abstaining to the DA grand standing. The DA have raised a complaint to the Public Prosecutor about Gigaba’s previously proven lack of ethical behaviour and hopefully he will be removed from post ASAP.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is also shrouded in controversy and is certainly not doing enough to protect us residents from the high levels of crime in SA. He was previously the Minister of Sport, I hazard a guess that he has zero clue about how to implement a strategy to resolve the corruption in the police services.

A recent audit of the South African Police identified high levels of illiteracy among the staff which helps to explain why they are often so reticent to make a report of a crime when it occurs. Paperwork is never much fun but if you cannot read or write it is a complete non-starter.

The audit also identified that there are more than 1,000 convicted felons employed by the police. This helps to explain the high number of case dockets and other info which goes missing resulting in cases being dropped.

There is also a huge issue with internal corruption and missing weapons or mis-allocated funds. Often times this is done with a helping hand from the top cops. A ‘top’ cop was recently arrested for selling police issue guns and ammo to criminals. Another for corruption over fraud and other charges.

There is even a member of Zuma’s family who is highly implicated in the State Capture report and that is his son Duduzane Zuma. He has absconded and there is a price on his head for his capture. Hopefully without his father to protect him he will be found and justice will be served.

The new president has promised free higher education available to those who qualify. SA has many challenges around schooling and access to education. In the Western Cape there are over 11,000 learners who have not been placed in a school as yet for 2018. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says it’s on track to accommodate these children by installing mobile classrooms in the rapidly growing communities. Once again the current government proves it has no clue when it comes to forward planning. I hope that there is a major shake up in this department too.

Our new first lady Tshepo Motsepe has quite a long list of kudos of her own, independent of her husband. She is a medical doctor and she is a graduate of Harvard where she obtained a Master of Public Health [MPH] in Maternal Child Health and Aging at the Harvard School of Public Health. Mrs Ramaphosa has successful family connections as she is the older sister of South Africa’s first black billionaire, Patrice Motsepe. Also her sister Bridgette Radebe is married to a Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe. Hopefully there is no bitterness between Radebe and Ramaphosa as Radebe fancied himself as a contender for the presidency himself.

The new first lady is active in several NPOs (Non-profit Organisations) mostly around children and education.

They both sound as if they will be a great asset to SA, but Zuma and his wives did not set the bar very high. I will withhold any judgement for a bit and see where this new president takes the country. I do have such hope for transformation.

The latest projection for Day Zero is that it has now been pushed back to the 7th of July. As we have had minimal rain this can only be due to other factors. However I will not question this push back, I will be grateful for the delay.

Personally, I had a lovely weekend. On Saturday Norm and I woke very early to the sound of alarms on our street. We realised that this was due to the electricity being off yet again. We found out that it was the same transformer as had blown the two previous times that we were without power for many hours.

I made us both a coffee by boiling water on our gas cooker and then I just tied up my hair and threw on some clothes and took Pixie to the doggy chiropractor.

It was an early appointment and after I got home we still had no power so Norm and I set out to find some breakfast. A new German restaurant has opened in Hout Bay called Zur Holzbucht and we had seen on social media that they were doing breakfast so we decided to give them a try.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and we went to sit outside but Norm spotted that they were setting up for a child’s birthday party so we skulked back inside to the shaded inside for optimal peace and quiet. We both ordered the farmer’s breakfast, an omelette with pan fried potatoes, bacon and onion.

This was a really nice omelette, I like my omelette’s properly cooked with no runny bits and this was just the way I like it. The addition of pickles was a bit odd but I liked the sliced tomato and red onion. I liked some of the other items on their menu and we will definitely be back to try more things.

Afterwards we went and did a shop for that evening as we were not sure if we would have electricity restored before dinner time. We just relaxed and I played offline games on my ipad while Norm napped. The electricity came back on around 5pm.

Later that evening Norm braaied dinner for us.

He cooked corn on the cob, halloumi and chicken sausages on the braai and I made coleslaw and sliced up some figs to go with it. Simple, yet delicious.

We are now addicted to Designated Survivor a series we started watching this weekend and we really love it!!! We spent the evening enjoying the intrigue (and rejoicing in having electricity – small pleasures).

On Sunday I had plans to meet my friends Lila and Nicola for lunch at Foxcroft.

Norm snapped a pic on our way out, I do love my view so much.

These ladies were some of the first friends I made when I moved to South Africa over 25 years ago.

Lila is also an American expat and she and her husband Nigel spend half the year in St Francis Bay on the east coast of SA and half the year in Florida. One of the other women who had booked bailed on us at the last minute so we let Nigel come along and fill the extra seat.

Nicola is a South African who spends part of the year here in SA and part of the year in England at her other home in Bath. It is rare that we are all 3 in the same city (or even country!) at the same time so we made the most of it.

The food was amazing as always and we had such a laugh. Lila and I are both your typical loud Americans and we had managed to involve the couple sitting at the table next to us in one of our convos with the waiter which got the couple laughing and they ended up chatting to us so much we almost offered them a seat with us. Our new friend took this pic of the group for us, while chirping to us the whole time, hence the laughter.

The set menu was for 2 tapas dishes, 1 main dish and 1 dessert for R435 per person.

I started with the Seared Tuna Tataki: Chipotle, avocado, cucumber, rice puff.

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Tuna tataki

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The second tapas I chose was the Honey-glazed Quail: Confit leg, rhubarb, pecan, liver jus.

For my main I chose the same Pork dish as I had on New Year’s Eve when we ate there. There are 2 different bits of free-range Pork accompanied by Gemsquash, charred cabbage, fermented plum.

This is some of the best pork belly I have ever eaten. Oh so divine.

For my dessert I had the Compressed Strawberry: Lemon curd, geranium, sour cream, matcha. I adore this dessert. Light and oh so delicious.

We all had such fun, we laughed so much and gossiped about whomever I could remember from those days. I have blocked out a lot of memories from that time as it was very traumatic for me around the time of my divorce. Lila and Nigel let me and the kids live with them when I first left my ex-husband. Nicola had helped me out financially by using me as an assistant for various painting jobs she had when she was doing interior design.

These ladies will be my friends for life, wherever we may all end up on the planet I will always have a special place in my heart for them.

On Monday as I left work the security guard waved at me and pointed to my car tire. I put down the window and he said that I needed to get to a garage to check it. I was in a queue of traffic so I could not get out to check but I could hear it making a noise as I drove. The traffic in that area is horrific so I could not pull over safely and being stranded in South Africa is a huge risk for a woman so I kept going, praying continuously to my guardian angels and my ancestors to protect me. I finally made it to the garage and we saw that there was a nail in my tire. By this time it was completely flat.

The petrol attendants were ever so sweet and asked me to pull over to a parking spot and they very quickly replaced the damaged tire with my spare.

The following day I had to drag Norm out of bed to run me into work. He then went back home to let in Cordelia and Mzudumo and then went to sort out my tire. He came back to collect me that evening. Bless him he spent most of the day driving or sitting in traffic.

Cape Town traffic is getting so congested. Part of this is due to the dysfunctional train service. So many of the trains have been put off line due to vandalism. This puts extra pressure on the buses and the roads. The least that could be done would be to increase the allocation of buses in the areas where the train services are suspended but they do not even do that.

This morning it took me an hour and a half to get into work. There were no visible accidents, this was just the sheer volume of cars on the roads.

I guess even without water, a lot of people want to live in this fabulous city so that is the price we have to pay.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

Facing The Music

After our busy week last week Norm and I were quite happy to have a quiet night in last Friday. Norm made a delicious low carb cottage pie using cauliflower mash instead of potatoes. He topped it all with a thick layer of mature cheddar. To go with it he served baby zucchini fried in butter.

It was nice to have home cooked food on a Friday as we normally have a take away. Norm is getting pretty impressive with his cooking skills!

After dinner we started watching the People vs. O.J. Simpson docudrama which was shown a while back in the US and garnered great reviews. It is part of the American Crime Story series and I intend to watch some of the other ones after this is finished. We found it funny that even though we knew a lot of the info around this case we were still in suspense. I think the acting is brilliant. We finished the series on Tuesday night as we devoured it.

The weather reports had been predicting rain for Friday and as we were relaxing a call came in over the radio asking for assistance so Norm got dressed and headed out. As he left the sky opened and it poured with rain for several hours.

I thank the Cloud spirits and the Water spirits for blessing us with such abundance.

While Norm was out I looked for something on Netflix to keep me amused on my own. I spotted that they have done a new series of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this time branding it simply ‘Queer Eye‘. I did enjoy it but they jerk the heart strings and I’m too much of a bawler to watch many of those without getting too sad.

Saturday morning I had an appointment at the hairdresser in the city centre. I was lucky and got parking nearby on Long Street so I only had one near death experience walking across the chaotic traffic. Pause is such an airy gorgeous venue and I joined the throngs waiting for the lovely Leandra to work her magic.

Due to the drought most people are only washing their hair once a week. It is a bit of a bonus when that once a week falls on the day you get your hair washed at the hairdresser. I did not have a cut this time, we just did a half head of colour to cover my roots.

When I got home I asked Norm if he fancied going out for a late pub lunch and then skipping dinner. He agreed and so I waited for him to shower and then we headed out to the Woodcutters Arms in Hout Bay. It was a warm sunny day with a wee bit of wind but we found a table in the beer garden and we settled in.

We ordered drinks and noticed that they had changed their menu and added on a few new items, however we were not tempted to stray from our usual starters and so we did not. I had the jalapeno cheddar cigars and Norm had the Scotch Egg.

The chicken burger I normally order was gone from the menu however and so I chose another starter as a main, the Popcorn Chicken. I just ordered a portion of fries to go with it.

The chicken was nicely moist and not over cooked. The sauce was really bitter. Not sure what was going on there but it was inedible. I just used my tomato sauce I was given for the fries instead as a ‘dip’.

Norm ordered the Fish and Chips with mushy peas. He encountered a lot of bones when eating it but it was a nice large piece of fish and he did not seem to mind the bones.

I had spotted one item on the menu which was new. There was a peanut butter and popcorn sundae. I can’t get the exact name and description as it is not yet on their website. But it was a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream and another flavour I could not quite identify and there was a swirl of peanut butter sauce on the top and the bottom of the sundae. Peanut butter and popcorn are 2 of my favourite things and I was not disappointed in this tasty little pot of sinful deliciousness.

After we finished eating we headed home so that Norm could take the pups out for their daily constitutional. We just had a relaxing evening at home that night.

On Sunday we had invited Caitlin’s childhood friend Lee and his mom Carla over for lunch. Lee is wanting to set up an NGO and Norm has a lot of knowledge in that area so he has offered to assist Lee. Norm and I got up early to tidy up the back garden and Norm did a shop for us. We kept it simple and just did salads and grilled meat. It was a really hot afternoon but it was enjoyable company so we did not mind too much.

When driving to work on Monday morning I heard that there had been yet another fire in the township in Hout Bay. A firefighter was stabbed by a resident while he was battling the blaze. This is such a bizarre thing which happens in the townships sometimes, the very people coming to assist are then attacked. I have blogged about this from an ambulance point of view but it appears to be wider spread than I understood.

Later that day we also heard about a group of girls who had been raped by four men at the beach in the wee hours of the morning. The girls were parked at the beach and these 4 men attacked them. The alleged rapists were all caught which is at least some comfort.

It is not all doom and gloom and bad news however as we just heard that Day Zero has been pushed back to June! The drought has also finally been declared a national disaster so this should free up some funding. According to the statement released by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the government will “strengthen and support the disaster management structures to implement contingency plans and ensure that immediate relief, recovery and reconstruction measures are put in place to enable the national executive to effectively deal with the effects of this disaster”.

The three provinces – the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape – have already been declared provincial disasters and now they will all be declared national disasters.

On a global scale water scarcity is a huge issue.

In its most recent data (2014), the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said 45 countries were experiencing water shortages, defined as less than a thousand cubic metres (one million litres) per person a year. They include South Africa, Cyprus and Morocco.

The UN’s climate science panel, the IPCC, said in a 2014 report that for every degree Celsius of global warming, about seven percent of the world’s population will see a drop of at least 20 percent in renewable water resources.

Pollution and global warming as well as the population explosions over the last few decades have led us to a dangerous point regarding the resources we need in order to survive.

This week has also been full of some brilliant live music. Both compliments of Cafe Roux, but one was in the city centre branch and the other at the Noordhoek branch.

On Tuesday night Norm and I booked to go to see his former colleague Mae Sithole perform with her band at the Cafe Roux branch in the Cape Town city centre. I love how they make sure that the audience is there to listen and not whitter on to their pals.

We had the best seats in the house. We were on a raised platform at the back of the room and we had a brilliant view of the stage. After we sat down we both started to cough and I had a major sneezing attack. Our waiter, Maya, told us that there had been a fight in a club up the street and the bouncers had used pepper spray to break it up. The intense wind meant that it blew into the other bars down the street and we were all choking. They turned on the air con on high and eventually it dispersed but I would hate to imagine what it was like closer up!

We each ordered a drink to calm our sinus passages and then ordered some food.

Norm ordered the butternut ravioli with sage butter sauce. He really enjoyed this and raved about it.

I ordered a pizza as the menu said they make their own bases and the toppings for the Mexican pizza sounded yummy. I was not disappointed, they do nice thin crispy pizzas with plenty of toppings. I loved the fresh coriander.

To give you a taste, I found this video of Mae performing a while back on the Expresso Morning Show.

Mae’s live performance in Cafe Roux was much more passionate. But appearing at 7am on telly might lead one to be a bit less enthusiastic in their delivery.

Mae’s rendition of Jailer had everyone in the venue on their feet shaking it and singing along with her.

I love this video which was filmed on the streets of Cape Town. It will give you a feel for our city’s vibes as well as Mae’s.

And this is one of my favourite songs of hers which was filmed at UCT, the University where I am currently consulting. I wonder did she write this song about her and her German origin husband Joerg meeting and falling in love?

We chatted to Joerg before the performance and he was telling us about their wedding and his need to pay lobola or a bridal dowry as is customary in many African cultures. I think that Mae is Shona as she is from Zimbabwe. Joerg paid 8 cows for the privilege of Mae’s hand in marriage. As she is such a beauty with an amazing voice and a few University degrees under her belt, I think he got a bargain.

The staff, the comfy seating, the food, the venue, the performance were all brilliant. The only debit was getting slightly pepper sprayed, however that is not the fault of the venue.

I will give the evening a full on 5 Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

After the performance ended we joined the crowds trying to greet Mae and exit the venue. We gave her a congratulatory hug on our way past and we went out onto Shortmarket Street to walk to our car and saw that it was pouring with rain! Giant fat raindrops were falling, with thunder and lightening making a rather spectacular show above us. Normally we would run to avoid getting drenched but I was quite happy to revel in it. It poured with rain all the way home and we were so happy, we just hoped that the weather was not upsetting the pups at home but our dogs are never bothered by loud noises such as storms or fireworks. Norm has been walking them while it was storming over head before and they were not in the least bit fazed.

The following day was Valentine’s Day. Norm and I never exchange gifts but I was surprised by stunning flowers when I got in from work.

He had left the sweetest handwritten message on my card.

I am such a lucky girl. ❤️

We did book to go for a night out however. We booked at the Cafe Roux Noordhoek venue for dinner and to see Alice Phoebe Lou. The show was sold out so I am glad we booked in advance.

When we arrived at Noordhoek Village we were rather surprised that there were huge numbers of people milling around. There was no parking so Norm dropped me at the venue and went to park and I went through to get our seats.

We then discovered that there was a market on. Every Wednesday there is the Village Market from 4-8pm. It looked like a lovely market, however it was directly adjacent to the venue where the music was being played and the noises from the market stalls and the people who were attending it was rather overbearing and we struggled to hear each other or the music when it started.

When Norm dropped me I had first been escorted over to sit in the middle of a picnic table where there were already 2 other couples sitting. I had been having issues with my back for a few days so I was not keen on not having a seat with a back to lean on and when the waiter came over after Norm arrived and offered us a table on the perimeter of the venue which did have a back to the seats we gladly abandoned our new friends and moved over to the other table.

We ordered our food which came pretty quickly. I chose the pulled pork which came on a seeded bun with coleslaw and fries. I did not eat the bun but I did have most of the fries.

Norm ordered the cheddar cheese burger which was really messy but he seemed to enjoy it.

Alice came on at about 8.30. She was performing on the opposite side of the courtyard to where we were seated but we could see her OK.

However people would get food from the market behind us and then come and sit on the wall of the bench we were seated on and yammer on loudly. I shushed a few of them and glared at the rest but it was really distracting.

I found a video of Alice performing one of the songs from her last CD so you can hear her.

And this contains some of the songs she sang last night.

Alice has a lovely voice but she spent a lot of time talking to us and in some instances even lecturing us about one subject or another. She was a bit rambling in her conversation and somewhat distracted. She even forgot the lyrics a few times. As a result of that and the background noise I will only give the night 3 Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Later that day we heard the horrific news from the USA of yet another school massacre, this one being the worst since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. This is also the 18th school shooting in the US since the start of this year only.

Let that sink in. In six weeks there have been 18 shootings which have occurred at a school. I am so glad I do not have children attending an American school.

However my sadness was somewhat alleviated by the resignation of our president Jacob Zuma. In typical Zuma fashion, he was very late for his own scheduled media appointment. If you can endure listening to his illiterate ramblings and bizarre speech patterns I have embedded the video below.

He jumped ship before the vote of no confidence could occur that was tabled for the next morning in Parliament. Jerking around the bollock deficient ANC and the rest of the country right up to the last minute.

I have my doubts about the proposed new President Cyril Ramaphosa because of the history of his involvement in the Marikana tragedy. I hope as the president he learns to put his constituents ahead of his bank balance. That concept seemed to be a challenge for the last president.

I hope that South Africa can recover from the damage done by Zuma. I also hope that he and the cronies who assisted him in raping our country will be brought to task and justice will be served.

On a more personal level I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend. I have another busy one scheduled. But of course, you will hear all about it soon enough.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

The State of Turmoil

There is so much chaos going on in South Africa that I am not quite sure where to start!

Let’s start with an update on the drought. The day after our Dance to Heal the Earth we read that Day Zero was pushed back to mid May!! I thank the Universe for the sign that our prayers were received and acted upon.

The farmers have gifted Cape Town with some of the water from one of their own dams. Between 7.5 and 10 million cubic meters of water is being released from the Eikenhof Dam in Grabouw by farmers who are donating the water to Cape Town. The water will flow via several smaller dams and end up in the Steenbras Dam, from where it will be pumped to City residents.

It is an impressive sight to see this much water flowing. Such a blessing of abundance.

The Day Zero date changed prior to the gift from the farmers however. Could the citizens have reduced their consumption so severely to make such a difference already or was it the dance? I know what I choose to believe and I give thanks.

I hope that the additional month delay before the expected implementation of Day Zero does not give people a false sense of comfort which results in the consumption increasing again. Globally water is at risk and this precious resource needs to be treated as such. I know that I will never again take it for granted.

One of the other areas of chaos is around Zuma, our incompetent fool of a president. The way that elections work in SA is very different to the US. In SA we vote for a political party and the party then chooses who will be our President. Zuma has been in hot water almost since he was put into power. He is corrupt and has been instrumental in the state capture by the Gupta family. Financial mismanagement, deception, corruption and nepotism are pretty much the extent of his skill set. We won’t even mention his previous charge of rape. Oops, I think I just did.

In December last year the ANC elected a new leader of their party, Cyril Ramaphosa who is currently South Africa’s Vice President. This puts Mr Ramaphosa, a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle and one of South Africa’s wealthiest citizens, in position to become the next president of the country, as the ANC still holds a voting majority. However this transition has not gone smoothly as Zuma has refused to step down.

At this point there are 5 options available for Zuma.

One option is that he is recalled as the president of the country by the ANC. The ANC’s top six met with Zuma over the weekend in an unsuccessful bid to persuade him to resign, after which the top six met with the party’s national working committee (NWC) on Monday evening. The NWC then convened an urgent meeting of the national executive committee (NEC) for Wednesday evening in Cape Town which was subsequently cancelled. The NEC is the body that can recall the state president.

If Zuma continues to refuse to resign, Parliament can remove him with a motion of no confidence. Such a motion has already been tabled at the request of the opposition for February 22. Discussions are underway to have this brought forward to as early as next week.

The ANC could also lodge their own vote of no confidence in Zuma.

If a motion of no confidence fails, he could be removed with an impeachment. For this a two-thirds majority support is needed in the National Assembly. Parliament’s Rules Committee is yet to adopt final regulations regarding the impeachment of a president.

Finally, Zuma could resign voluntarily, however he is panicking about his fate should he no longer be president and has tried to ensure his supporters are kept in power to protect him. His position as head of state was all that stood between the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) reinstating the 783 charges of fraud, money laundering and racketeering which had been set aside in 2009. The Supreme Court of Appeal set aside the 2009 decision by then prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe to withdraw the criminal case against Zuma. The effect of the judgment is that charges are automatically reinstated.

Mr Zuma’s term as head of state will be up in 2019 when national elections are scheduled to be held however the party want him out sooner than that due to his impact on the overall party.

The other impact of this leadership turmoil is the postponement of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The fact that they had to postpone SONA gives us an idea of the state of the nation – it is bloody chaos and confusion!

This party has gone downhill rapidly since the wonderful leader Mandela left office.

The resulting delay of the SONA will cost the citizens as all of the politicians and their entourages had already made arrangements and bookings to be in Cape Town and we will all bear that cost. The timing of the new date for SONA will have to consider the Budget speech, which will be delivered on February 21. The SONA is supposed to position the budget speech.

Meanwhile, life goes on for those of us struggling to survive financially while trying to conserve water and function as law abiding adults.

On Monday night our electricity went off again. Norm had a business meeting via Skype that evening and so he had grilled our dinner early so that he could take his call. He did roast veggies, sweet corn, organic chicken sausages and pork chops.

After Norm’s meeting he was busy eating his dinner when the power went off. We knew it was the whole street as we could hear all of the burglar alarms being triggered when the power cut. Ours has a back up battery so it behaved itself. This time it was a transformer which blew knocking out the power on our side of the valley. It may have been due to power surges from every household putting on their air conditioners and fans in the hot weather. It was HOT!

The electricity was still off when we went to bed and only came on at 11am on Tuesday, 14 hours or so later. Puddles of melting ice were forming under the freezer so it came on just in time before everything had to be chucked out (or eaten).

I was so exhausted on Tuesday at work. It was so hot the previous night and it was hard to sleep. With no electricity obviously my fan was not on so I could hear every little pant, grunt and groan from the dogs. I woke before daylight but had to wait for a bit of light to see to get dressed. I was at work before 7am.

That day Josh had driven down to Mossel Bay and Norm had gone to a late meeting so I was on my own that evening. I was not that hungry so I just had some tempura prawns and other bits from the freezer. It was nice to have the house all to myself for a change. The only problem was that I forgot I had to feed the dogs at 6pm. When I finally got a bit peckish myself at about 6:30pm I went into the kitchen to see what I could find. I had a poke about in the fridge, shut the door and then turned to see all three of them sitting in a row with their adorable furry faces staring at me, heads cocked in confusion. I could hear their questions: A) Where is our Dad? and B) Who is going to feed us? I then twigged that they were asking me what the hell is going on and I hurriedly gave them their dinner. Luckily dogs have a short memory and give up their resentments immediately.

I could learn from dogs.

On Wednesday I had nothing to take to work for lunch so I used OrderIn to order from Obz Cafe. It was still hot out so I chose the Prawn and Avocado salad for R106.00.

This was yummy and I will order this again. It was swimming in the dressing though so I will ask for that to be served on the side next time.

Wednesday evening Norm and I were invited to Caitlin’s for dinner as a thank you to Norm for all of the help he gave her with her flat renovations. However midday Norm rang to say he had an invitation to the British High Commissioner’s for a function and so we quickly rescheduled Caitlin’s dinner to Thursday evening instead.

Every year the British High Commissioner holds a huge event at their official residence to mark the Eve of Parliament. However, as SONA has been delayed while the ANC take out their trash and get their house in order, this means that the opening of Parliament is also delayed indefinitely.

Norm and I are always invited to this event because of Norm’s MBE. This year Norm’s invite did not arrive so he contacted his friend at the embassy to ask was it cancelled because of the delay of Parliament opening. His friend told him that the invite had gone to his old email address which was from his previous job. Once Norm found out it was still being held despite Parliament not opening, we rescheduled with Caitlin and decided to pop in.

It is such a stunning old Cape Dutch thatched home with terraced gardens going down from the back of the house. The area where the house is has many hills and there are large crowds attending so sometimes you have to walk for quite a distance, however Norm kindly dropped me at the front gate where I waited for him to walk back up. I had been so silly as to wear not only new shoes but new shoes with a bit of a heel as I was wearing a cocktail length dress. I never, ever wear heels as my knees can’t take it. But a girl has gotta look cute.

Even an old one with dodgy knees.

We were greeted by an African choir at the front of the house and we joined the reception line to meet the new British High Commissioner HE Mr Nigel Casey and his wife Clare who seemed nice and friendly. (‘HE’ is the honourary title given to an ambassador in case you think my caps lock got stuck or I was emphasizing his gender or something random.)

We were greeted by rows of staff bearing trays laden with cold sparkly champagne but I waited to get a drink until after we were inside and had gone through the reception line. I know what it is like trying to balance a drink and a handbag while trying to shake hands. I am too clumsy for that challenge.

Open bars were set up on each end of the upper garden serving mixed drinks, cocktails, wine or champagne and there was a stand from Ocean Basket serving complimentary sushi. At the bar there was a very cute, suntanned and tattooed bartender with long blonde surfer hair in a manbun who served me. Ignoring the man bun, his cuteness was somewhat dampened when he could not understand my accent when I asked for ‘water’. Water is one of those words which I always struggle to get people to understand. My southern accent seems to throw them. Too many syllables in those vowels Scarlett!! Never mind, another bartender caught the exchange and just before I was given a straight up large vodka on the rocks he intervened and told the guy ‘dude she asked for water. NOT Vodka.’ Oops. Can you imagine me taking a giant glug and then spitting it out all over the fancy pants people around me?

Somehow I can. And that lovely scene would probably be promptly followed by me rolling down the terraced garden with my dress over my head.

The cocktail of the day was a whisky sour and so I took one just because it looked pretty and I love cocktails, however I seemed to forget that I detest whisky. It was a yummy cocktail however it was rather heavy on the whisky. It was kind of like a margarita with a shot of whisky in it.

Ay caramba.

I amused myself watching the women who were rookies at this event for the first time as many had on stilettos which impaled them into the grass. I struggled to walk steadily over the rough grass in my wedges, I would have broken an ankle in stilettos. The attire of the attendees ranged from a old dude who like a right tramp in mismatched wrinkled clothes and flip flops, to women who looked ready for the Oscars. My fave is always the people who wear ‘traditional clothing’ whether that be kilts or African designs. I love the bright and energetic colours.

We had a wander around the garden, trying to see who we could recognise. However I am half blind and Norm has a memory like a sieve so the only person we noticed was Patricia De Lille skulking about in the corner of the garden surrounded by body guards or protectors.

Norm was worried she might recognise me from my twitter profile and quickly scuppered me off to the other end of the garden before I was accosted by one of her thugs as a social media vigilante.

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At the British High Commissioner’s event

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The new High Commissioner gave his welcome speech to the crowd.

Afterwards everyone continued to mingle, munch canapes and guzzle the free booze. In his speech, Nigel had told us that the cocktail of the day was a Whisky Sour in honour of it being ‘International Whisky Day’ however he appears to have told us a wee porky as I checked and it is only in March. Maybe he said National, but then I wondered whose nation, his home country or his current assignment? After a bit of research I see that it was International Scotch Whisky Day on the day of the event so I will let him off.

The choir from the front of the house then moved around to the back of the garden and performed from there.

They had amazing voices and a lovely harmony. I really enjoyed them.

We wandered about until about 8pm and then we headed off to get some dinner. As we were in Bishopscourt it seemed easiest to pop over to Constantia Village so we went to Primi. I ordered a strawberry daiquiri to cool me off as it was still very warm. Neither of us were terribly hungry so Norm ordered a salad and I ordered tapas.

Norm had the Caesar Salad: Cos lettuce tossed in PRIMI Caesar dressing with boiled egg, pecorino shavings and garlic croutons. You can choose to add either Anchovies for an additional R20, Grilled Chicken for R25 or Crispy Bacon for R20.

I had 2 items off the tapas menu. I chose Sylvia’s Crispy Chicken Livers which was described as ‘Crispy chicken livers sautéed with onion, garlic, fresh chilli and lemon.’ This was R55. They were incredibly salty and slightly burnt but I still nibbled a bit of them.

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Crispy Chicken Livers

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For my other dish I chose Zucchini Fries, described as ‘Tempura battered zucchini with garlic aioli’ for R40. I loved these, they were both crispy and tasty if not completely low carb due to the tempura batter.

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Zucchini fries

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We arrived home relatively early but my feet were killing me from balancing on heels in nobby grass clumps. The drought has meant the previously lush grass is now dry and clumpy.

Thursday after work we headed over to Caitlin’s for dinner. She and Wes cooked together while Norm and I played with the kittens.

They have grown so much since I first met them. The kittens, not Wes and Cait. they are pretty much fully grown.

Scout kept jumping on me and bumping his face against mine.

As a result he had a lipstick smudge over his eye which we at first mistook for an eye infection.

Caitlin and Wes spent ages carefully rolling the pumpkin into gnocchi but it was so worth it. The sauce was baby tomatoes, sage, cream and bacon. It really was divine.

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Pumpkin Gnocchi with bacon and sage sauce

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For dessert Caitlin surprised Norm with a chocolate brownie cheesecake from Martin’s bakery which is owned by Wes’ uncle and aunt.

We both felt very spoiled. Wes even brought a bottle of wine for Norm and a very funky looking bottle of a creamy liqueur I have not yet tried as a thank you for treating him on Lily’s birthday. I will be cracking this baby open this weekend. He is such a polite young man.

I hope you all have had a great week and that you have a lovely relaxing weekend free from chaos. Mine is expected to be busy!

Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

On Sunday my drumming circle had an all day dance for rain. Norm and I had a lazy day on Saturday as I knew that Sunday would be exhausting and I wanted to be well rested in order to give all of my energy to the drumming.

Norm and I decided to just get a take away and I opted for my fave pizza from Massimo’s.

Lily, Josh and his Dad were at the track all day Saturday and Josh won his race so they were in a festive mood when they got home that night around 7pm. We all sat outside when they arrived home and enjoyed the cooler evening air.

Sunday morning I was up by 6.30 as I was wide awake and excited for the dance. I dressed in a long dress with sleeves as you must show modesty and respect when in a mixed gender ceremony. I packed up my own lunch and a salad and a french stick to contribute to the evening communal meal. I took my own drum, but we all drummed using the one large communal drum.

I was not sure how many drummers might be there and whether we would all fit around the large drum but as the drummers kept changing in number as people arrived and left throughout the day it was fine. There were about 30 people there in total between the dancers, the drummers and the people who were in charge of managing the ceremony. The supporters and drummers varied, only some of us stayed all day.

The dance was held at Sacred Ibis which hosts many different events that are open to public attendance. It is a lovely calm space and feels like you are out in the middle of the country instead of less than 5 minutes from my front door.

When I arrived they were still setting things up and getting organised.  I headed down to the field where they had already set up the drum and the arbour which is the area where the dancers dance.

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The arbour for our dance yesterday ❤️

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In the centre of the arbour was a large tree which was being used to symbolise the Tree of Life. The dancers would place their prayer ties on this tree and pray to Mother Earth at the tree.

Before anyone enters the arbour they must be smudged with the smoke from burning sage and a prayer said. All of the items used in the ceremony are also smudged. All day there is a designated smudger who goes around the dancers and smudges throughout the day in order to keep the energy pure.

Once the dancers have been smudged they are to remain separate from any one else and must remain in the dance or rest areas. The dancers were instructed to fast from the previous night. They have no food or water throughout the day and the dancing is hot and tiring. It is a real sacrifice.

Once the arbour is dressed, no one may enter except the dancers or the people who are part of the ceremony. The arbour is an open structure made of poles with string woven between them to form a circle. The design is based on the same concept as a medicine wheel. There are openings to each of the 4 directions. Prayer ties and crystals mark each of the gates.

Before the dance the elders must set the intention. The intention for this dance was defined as: “The only thing we truly “own” and that we can give in return for the Abundance that Mother Earth gives to us, is our bodies. For that reason, we fast, dance, sing, drum and pray, giving ourselves fully to Spirit and the Tree of Life, in complete focus and devotion.

This One Day Dance is in love, honour and gratitude of the Water, holding the prayer that our dams be replenished in Cape Town soon. Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.

Dance To Heal The Earth is about Restoring the Balance of Life – the Sacred Feminine and Masculine, in Respect, Honour and Healing for Mother Earth and All Our Relations. It’s important to come with an attitude of humility, and a sincere desire to give of ourselves in sacrifice for all the ways that humans have desecrated the Earth. We seek forgiveness for our human family; awareness of and connection with All Our Relations, in order to understand how we may better serve them; and celebration of Life by honouring the Tree of Life.”

There are 5 rounds of dance with the drummers calling in the procession of dancers. There are two rounds of sweat lodge for the dancers where they pray and call in the spirits and guides. The first is the Brush Off Sweat to brush off worldly energies, cares and worries. The last round of the event is a Gratitude Lodge where they give thanks to the spirits and ancestors who joined into the celebration and express their gratitude of the experience.

After each round there is a Pipe Ceremony. The dancers held their ceremony down in the lower fields in the sweat lodge area, under a group of trees, the drummers and supporters held ours in a seated area near the farmhouse under the shade of a giant tree. The Pipe Ceremony is also part of the event, each of the participants pray and give thanks for the day and for being allowed to participate. I prayed for water in abundance.

While the drummers were conducting our Pipe Ceremony we could hear songs being sung in Imazamo Yethu cascading across the valley. It was such a special sound. One of the men there said that it sounded like a Xhosa wedding celebration song as it seemed to be a call and response format with the Lead Man calling and the remainder of the men repeating, then the Lead Woman singing and the women responding. It was so beautiful. I wondered if they could hear our drumming and singing too and what they thought about it.

This is one of the songs we sing, we sing in multiple languages. This song is in Japanese I think.

And we sang the Water Song as well, we sing it at a faster pace which is more suitable for drumming.

The lyrics are “Ne-be Gee Zah- gay- e- goo Gee Me-gwetch -wayn ne- me — goo Gee Zah Wayn ne- me- goo”. Translated to English you see that the words are very appropriate for the ceremony we were conducting:

“Water, we love you. We thank you. We respect you.”

There are 5 rounds of dance in total. With the 2 sweat lodges and the pipe ceremonies added in it is a very long day.

While we were in ceremony the energy was amazing. We could see so many birds circling our ceremony. Thank you to all the birds that came swallows, doves, hawks and the 7 eagles that made the infinity sign over the Dance. A huge white butterfly flew into our drumming circle and skimmed across my head and then swooped down into the circle and flew off to sit on a nearby bush. The butterfly represents transformation and the world is in such a state of transition this is no surprise. It gave me chills.

When the dancers went into the lodge to do the Gratitude Sweat, the drummers all went up to prepare the feast. Everyone brings a vegetarian dish of some sort to contribute and it all gets laid out at the end for us to nosh on.

After the final sweat is completed, the dancers come out of the lodge and the drummers and supporters join them. We all stood in a circle around the fire pit and we were each given a string of prayer ties. Prayer ties look like little ghosts tied on strings to me. They are squares of fabric which have a pocket of tobacco put into the center and are then tied with string. I did not take any pics of my own as phones were banned, however I found this pic which looks exactly like the ones we made.

Most of ours were bright yellow, the colour of turmeric as turmeric was used to dye many of them. Saffron-hued Buddhist robes are dyed with turmeric. Turmeric has been used for centuries in many different cultures. The followers of the Hindu religion see turmeric as auspicious and sacred and use it as part of their bridal ceremonies. Ayurvedic medicine has used it for centuries as well.

We all went into the circle one at a time and dropped our prayer ties into the fire pit and we all said whatever word that came to us. Mine was ‘Abundance’.

After the burning of the ties we all went back into the dance arbour and had a final round of Pipe Ceremony and then we had a closing prayer where we released the ancestors and spirits who came to join us and we gave thanks to them all and to the 6 directions. We gave thanks and praise to the Spirits and the Ancestors, first to the Centre, then to Mother Earth below, then to the East and the South, the West and finally to the North.

After the closing ceremony the procession was led up the hill to the farmhouse where the food was waiting for the fasting dancers. The dancers were allowed to fill up their plates and find seats and then the rest of us had a bite to eat. Everyone was very tired but glowing with the energy we had created.

By the time I got home it was after 7pm and I was completely finished. My legs ached from standing, my arms ached from drumming and my voice was rough from singing.

All I have to give to Mother Earth is my body and I give of this gladly to praise her for our lives and provision of the sustenance we need and to request that we are blessed with abundance of water.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox

Shadows

The hot weather has continued but despite the mugginess in the air promising us rain it has been scarce. We received a few drizzles again on Friday, we are so thankful to the Water Spirits and the Cloud Spirits. I pray that they distribute water liberally over our dams. I would so rejoice if we had a weekend of rain. I’m trying to practice gratitude for the water we do have rather than stressing and focusing on the scarcity of it. Keeping a positive gratitude is the aim.

We have a houseful this weekend which is lovely. Josh is racing this weekend and Lily and his Dad David came down to stay for the weekend.

Last night we had a braai. It was windy but we were sheltered at the back of the house. Norm cooked chicken sausage, steaks and chicken kebabs and Lily and I made cole slaw and there was potato salad from woolies. Lily made garlic butter for the mushrooms and Norm cooked them on the grill.

Last weekend when Norm and I were at Pick n Pay they had an excellent special on Brie and Camembert and so we picked up some Brie. On Wednesday evening Norm braaied 2 fillet steaks for the 3 of us as I was going to slice them that was enough meat. I put the Brie into some oven proof dishes and drizzled them all with honey and Norm popped those on the top shelf of the gas braai while the steaks cooked. I made a big salad of spinach, cabbage, carrots, cucumber & tomato and for the meat and I made a sauce by chucking in a preserved fig, a green chili, a big shot of lemon juice, a glug of vinegar and some honey and blitzing it until smooth. To serve I sliced the meat and rubbed it with the sauce and lay it across the salad and served a little bowl of it for adding to the salad.

OMG this was so good!

I will try to recreate that again but as I never measure anything my dishes are never consistent. But I try to not get too hung up about that.

I have written before about mindfulness and that I am trying to focus on being in the present and conscious of my internal dialogues. A friend mentioned the work of Tara Brach on The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine website. I subscribed to the site and they have sent me some videos on deepening our connections to others. You can click that link and sign up to the site and watch yourself. I really recommend it.

I also recommend subscribing to Tara’s YouTube channel.

Tara talks about the need for self-acceptance and how lack of this can interfere in our ability to form intimate bonds and relationships with others. I strongly identify with this as I have self confidence issues. People always find this surprising as I have no issues with stating my opinion and to those who do not know me well, I appear to be a confident extrovert. In reality I have this inner voice constantly telling me I am not good enough, that I am inadequate in many of the ‘roles’ I play, from my career to parenting to marriage to just being a woman.

In today’s culture women over 50 are invisible and are often deemed not worthy of attention. In many cultures women are not valued at all regardless of their age. If you have wrinkles or are overweight, you are bombarded with millions of media images of perfection and this can impact your self esteem. With the influx of stories about women being victimized by men and then not believed and even worse of those violators not being taken to task for those violations deepens these feelings of being undervalued.

The first video from Tara is discussing ‘How to Shift from Self-Criticism to Self-Acceptance and Love’.

It is impossible to feel negative about ourselves and still form a strong bond with another person. The two are mutually exclusive.

The second video is discussing ‘How Self-Acceptance Rewires the Brain for Deeper Connection’.

Three points which Tara mentions as a way to help us change our sense of self are:

  1. Learn to Observe your own thoughts. (Mindfulness)
  2. Mindfully Feel your feelings.
  3. Offer a gesture of care to your inner self.

The idea that Tara puts out there is that what we hide from others (and often even hide from our own conscious thoughts) can block us from forming deep bonds.  Hiding what you do not like about yourself impacts upon your ability to have a healthy relationship with another.

This is aligned to what I have been reading from Jung about the shadow archetypes. Jung believed that the Shadow archetype represents all that we are ashamed of, all that we do not like about ourselves and all that we keep secret, the unconscious parts of ourselves which we repress. As long as we repress this part of ourselves we cannot grow into a complete mentally healthy person. We have to become conscious of this aspect of ourselves and bring it into the light. Jung’s philosophy is that the act of making the shadow conscious is the starting point towards psychic health and individuation.

It is not the same as the Cherokee concept of the Shadow Walker. A shadow walker is someone who can walk the line between light and dark, life and death. So both conceptually refer to a division in the person, but very different in actuality.

Many therapists and psychologists believe that shame is the root of most addictions. Addictions in turn can then become part of our shadow self and something that we hide. We also hide various other behaviours which in turn can lead to deep feelings of shame and self loathing.

The 12 Step recovery groups have a slogan ‘we are only as sick as our secrets’. This refers to the idea that feelings of shame and regret about actions taken while not in recovery can quickly derail a person in their attempts to get clean or sober.

For me I know that my issue is around both self acceptance of my physical self and my strong personality.

Aging and weight loss have riddled my body with bags, sags and lumps and bumps. This makes me so self conscious that I cringe at the idea of anyone seeing me undressed, even my darling loving husband who loves me unconditionally whatever my weight.

This is not HIS issue or HIS feeling of revulsion I am experiencing, it is just a thought in my head. I do not have to buy into that thought, I can choose to let it go.

So for me to implement the 3 step guidance that Tara gave in the second video I will need to first witness the voices in my head and listen to what they are saying. To acknowledge that these are just my self destructive thoughts and they only exist in my own head, these are not what anyone else is feeling.

Secondly, I need to name the feelings which are triggered by these thoughts. Am I feeling shame that I have taken so little care of my physical shell? Am I feeling embarrassed that I am not toned and sleek? Am I feeling other emotions? What are they?

Labeling these emotions activates a different area of our brain. We need to think of the emotions as waves and let them just roll over us while mindfully acknowledging our suffering.

For an empath, the need to ‘dampen’ down our deep wells of emotion is a survival instinct. If we allow ‘in’ everything and tap into some of that energy it can be incredibly overwhelming and even depressing. We need to learn the skills to master it and not allow it to ‘stick with us’. To feel the empathy but not let it overwhelm us.

The third step is to offer comfort to ourselves. Tara suggested closing your eyes, putting your hand on your heart and offering emotional and even verbal comfort to yourself. When something which causes us pain rises, to even verbalise ‘ouch’.

Imagine the joy of yourself healing from these useless negative emotions.

To move away from self judgement to self acceptance is the goal.

An easy way for most of us to relate is regarding dieting or food issues in general. We set a goal for ourselves to lose weight, this is sometimes driven by feelings of self disgust or lack of worthiness. If we ‘cheat’ on our diet, we then have even more feelings of self disgust, sometimes leading us to give up completely on our goal. Instead, we should just write that off as an oops and carry on with no guilt. Just pick yourself up and go back to the original goal. It is only one meal. But if you self sabotage repeatedly then you need to address those issues. Why do you not feel worthy of self care and healthy food? Is the weight some sort of protection?

Some of these feelings of lack of self acceptance run very deep, the roots may be buried in childhood. We may have to keep hacking at those roots with a metaphysical machete.

Consciousness is our first step. I am willing to take that step, do you want to come along?

Kisses from the Kitten xxoxoxoxox