Life Goes On

The last week or so has been challenging. I seesaw between normality and sadness. But one has to keep on keeping on…it is the nature of life.

My friends rallied round while Norman was away. Retha came and collected me on my 1st night alone and we went to the harbour for take out sushi from The Lookout Deck (yes again. I like sushi OK?). While there we had my fave – a frozen strawberry daiquiri. We had such a charming and devoted waiter even though we were getting take aways – his name was Tonic and he was indeed a tonic for my mood and had us laughing over our cocktails. We took our goodies back to join Pierre and we watched a film and had a laugh. It was just what I needed and I spent several hours with no tears.

I had booked a girls weekend away with the ladies in my bookclub ages ago and even though I was not feeling very sociable I packed up and went. I am so glad I did as we had a brilliant weekend. These ladies always make me laugh, all are brits and that is my sense of humour so we all chattered and giggled like schoolgirls.

We went to Aquila Game Farm and we were so lucky on our game drive, we saw elephants, rhinos, zebras, peacocks, buffalo, lions, hippos, ostrich and many types of bucks.
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But to me the cherry on top of the whole weekend was our horseback safari. To be on such a majestic beast while riding in the most stunning country looking for animals was just so special.
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I came home feeling like life was good, and I am blessed. I also came home to Norm and that made life complete.

Tonight I am off to a birthday party of someone I have only met online – nothing new there as I am used to that from my twitterati events and other networking events but I am still looking forward to it. There are so many people I chat to who will be there and I look forward to getting to know them in 3D. Enjoy your weekend and count your blessings.

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Not on My Watch

The last few weeks have been very stressful for our family. My kids have had such a tough time. First they lost their childhood nanny. She was with them since Lily was a baby. She came into their lives at a point when they needed her and she spent the majority of their lives looking after them until she retired recently. The kids were devoted to her and rang her every Sunday.

My step dad Tom has been fighting cancer now for several years. He had so many times where we thought he could not recover, and each time he managed to rally round and keep on going. He fought such a hard battle and I think he only gave up after the scan where they broke it to him that the cancer had spread to his bones, brain and liver. Until then he had kept fighting as he thought he had a chance to beat it. Once he realised that despite all of his optimism, the many hours of chemo and treatment that he was losing the fight, I think he just ran out of energy to keep up the battle.

The girls and Josh had intended to stay in George after Jean’s funeral and have a holiday as well as attend their Dad’s 60th birthday. But when we got the call that Tom had passed we started to check for flights. I have no annual leave, sick leave or compassionate leave left from work. I took 3 weeks holiday in December so that was my annual leave. I took over 2 months of sick leave when I had my hip replacement and I took my compassionate leave after our armed break in as I was unable to function, must less work. So I knew I would not be able to go to the USA myself. Luckily the universe was watching out for us again as the girls have a few weeks off of University. I could only afford to send one of them over and as Caitlin had lived with Tom when she was in High School she was the obvious choice. Right up to the night he died Tom remembered Caitlin. He did not remember his own family but he did remember Caitlin. He really loved her like she was his own daughter. When ever she would challenge him, his response would be ‘Not on my watch!’. Which always made me laugh.

So even though we are all so full of sadness, I also have to be grateful. I am grateful that my children had so many people to love them. So many children have no one who loves them, no one to parent them or teach them right from wrong. My children were blessed with a Mother and a Father, a wonderful Step father, Jean who was at times their mother, their grandmother and sometimes just a friend, and all of their biological grandparents and Tom, who despite having no biological children turned out to be a brilliant father and grandfather.

I am picturing Tom and his mate Bob and maybe even my Dad kicking back having a beer together, out of pain, looking down on all of us, protecting us and still watching our backs.

My Weekend in Photos

I had been planning on meeting a couple of girlfriends for afternoon cocktails but one of them had been a bit under the weather so we rescheduled, but then I got invited to join other friends who were going to the same venue. We went to the new bar/restaurant Re:Public.

I had bought my daughters’ a hair roller and asked Lily to roll mine, I loved how it turned out, it made me look like I have a ton of hair!

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I hadn’t realized only girls were going out and I took Norm along, only to have to give him the boot. Oops! We had a few giggles as well as a few drinks….

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3 of us had the fillet and it was a gorgeous cut of meat. Very tender. As was my head the next morning after all of those vodkas, so not very happy when Norm dragged me out to the bank at 10am. Our deal was he had to treat me to Eggs Benedict. So true to his word we went to Greens in Constantia after the bank. It was delicious. It came with your choice of bacon, ham or spinach. We both opted for the gypsy ham. Their hollandaise is delicious.

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I saw on Face Book that The Lookout Deck was having a half price sushi and cocktail special that evening so I went home for a cheeky afternoon siesta. Then Lily, Josh Norman and I headed down to the harbour.

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It turned out that they also had the rugby on so Josh was happy. And they had a band on, so Lily and I had something to amuse us.

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They were pretty good.

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Isn’t my daughter a beauty?

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They had the gas heaters going and it felt rather cosy despite the cold weather.

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You can’t beat strawberry daiquiris and mojitos for half price. Yumm. Add in fresh sushi and it is heaven.

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Norm had some beautiful fish and chips, it was both crispy and juicy. Josh had a basket of calamari rings and chips.

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Lily spotted the lady who supposedly collects for charity and sales a load of tat and insisted on Hello Kitty earmuffs. Add this to half price cocktails and this makes for a lot of silliness.

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This morning we all had a long lazy morning lying in bed, then Lily and I made pancakes and bacon for brunch.

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I have had a fabulous weekend.

Today will be a pajama day. I intend to do a whole lot of nothing at all 🙂

A Twist of the Tongue

My accent can be a real mishmash of the various influences in my life. There are some words which have been phased out of my vocabulary – like ‘ain’t’ or saying ‘good’ in place of ‘well’, i.e. saying “He did good” vs “He did well’. Some of those things really bug me now but I would never have changed the way I speak if I had stayed in Georgia.

One phrase which my ear always picks up on after I say it is ‘Come On’. In Georgian that sounds like ‘Moan’ with all of the letters all mashed up together like gravy and biscuits. I know the concept of ‘gravy and biscuits’ will have most of you scratching your head at the insanity. But to us Georgia girls a biscuit is not a cookie – it is like a savoury scone type thing. And the gravy is not the equivalent of Bisto – it is made from a roux created in the leftover bacon grease which sounds a bit gross but it is delicious. (And deadly probably but all good things are bad for us, right?) You can also make it from your leftover sausage grease – and to us southerners sausage is not always shaped like a sausage. To me the best sausage comes in a roll like ready-made cookie dough, and you slice it off and fry a patty of it. And if bits of the sausage end up being incorporated into the gravy, then all the better.

Here is an image I blatantly stole from the interwebs to show you what I mean.
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When I first meet people they sometimes have a hard time placing my accent. To me, I find this funny as I feel like I sound soooo American. But then I hear myself pronounce certain words and I can see why it can be confusing. I often soften my ‘R’ – as in the American ‘Waterrr’ is pronounced ‘Watah’ here or no one can understand what I am saying.

Sometimes I even struggle to remember what word applies to which country. For example is it ‘rubbish’ or ‘garbage’ or do I ‘pop it in the bin’? And that example from above – is it a ‘cookie’ or a ‘biscuit’? Is a biscuit a ‘scone’ or a ‘cookie’? I think I just created a referential integrity conflict.

In our house we have American, Scottish, South African and a hybrid of these all chirping away, often all at the same time. We quite often take the mickey out of Norman and his scots words – like ‘book’ (poronounced ‘booooohk’ or ‘toys’ pronounced ‘tays’).

Living in SA there are so many varied accents around us and we sometimes struggle to understand some of them. But I love that I have been lucky enough to experience so many different accents, cultures and lifestyles.

Yes the crime is on the up – yes our lives are ruled by this at the moment – but I love Africa. I love the spirit of the people who all live here. We all take a little of everywhere we have been with us when we move to the next place. It is what makes us grow.

That Sense of Privilege

Our household have joined the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) in an attempt to help our village get to grips with the crime which has gone on a sudden upshoot. This has had both positive and somewhat of negative aspects to it.

The positive: direct access to everything happening in your area, awareness of any potential dodgy characters which have been seen in the area, a stronge sense of community and a feeling of empowerment.

The negative: direct access to everything happening in your area, awareness of any potential dodgy characters which have been seen in the area, inability to pretend you live in a land of rainbows and unicorns as well as a radio buzzing at your side constantly, waking you up…am sure you get the idea.

The newest thing to adjust to is my husband shooting off when there is any sign of trouble. Unarmed, unprotected and vulnerable. This happened today when he got an alert there is a break-in in progress a few blocks away. I was really worried about him, you never know what you are going to arrive to see or what you may run into. I started to get a feeling of resentment that I am worried because my husband is out looking after other people.

But then I had a bit of a wake up call and got to grips with my sense of privilege – how can I expect HBNW to look out for me and yet I am not willing to do the same for others?

I am so thankful to the men and women who work tirelessly for the HBNW, who get so little sleep, who live on full scale alert, who jump to run and protect their neighbours. I have been on the receiving end of this protection, the night of our first break in we had so much support from them. Even people calling in the next day to check up on us.

Now is the time to pay it back. It is time to take back our village, to clamp down on these bastards who are wreaking terror on our community. The only way to do this is as a united front – together.

All Grown Up

Last week was my son Trevor’s 27th birthday. I still get surprised when I realise I have ‘children’ so old. How did that happen? Trevor and his girlfriend Amber arrived down to visit us on Wednesday which meant I had several days with them and I was so excited! I have not spent Trevor’s actual birthday with him in so many years I cannot remember when it last was.

We tend to dine at home for family birthdays and the birthday person gets to pick what meal and what cake we have. Amber had made some carrot cake cupcakes already so Trevor opted for chocolate fudge. The girls and I then made a mexican feast for the birthday boy. Caitlin made home made chilli poppers, and I made enchiladas with home made sauce, and we all helped to make tacos and burritos. It was yummy if I say so myself 🙂 Trevor got lots of cool pressies and seemed very happy with our choices.

Trevor is such a sweet, handsome young man, and I am just so proud of him. I sometimes look at him and just see my Father – the older he gets the more he resembles my dad. It is sometimes quite uncanny!

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As the weekend progressed I felt my throat starting to itch and my eyes started to water and I just got worse and worse. We had all planned a visit to the HB Harbour Market on Friday as Trevor and Amber had never been, but I just was not up to it. Instead Norman and I just got some take outs and stayed in to watch a movie. It made me happy that all of my kids and their partners were out together. I love that they are friends and enjoy spending time together. To me there is nothing worse than siblings who have nothing in common, and cannot be friends. As I have no siblings myself I find that hard to understand.

Saturday night was a friend’s birthday at La Mouette which is one of my favourite venues and I had been looking forward to it all week, but by that evening I could barely sit up much less go out and function. Norman phoned Tony the birthday boy and gave our apologies but I felt so bad as I am generally a reliable sort. if I say I am coming to something I will be there. The trend in Cape Town is to play it by ear and show or not show depending on their mood of the moment or whatever better offer they get! That annoys the hell out of me! Trevor, Amber and Caitlin all went off to the other side of town to visit some friends and Lily and Josh chilled out at home with us.

Yesterday was a day of relaxing for all. I made a big pot roast and we all just chilled out and relaxed.

Tonight is a Neighbourhood Watch meeting for the new people to get to know each other. I had been looking forward to meeting some of the voices I hear on the radio and chat with online but I am still not up to it. Norman will have to represent our household in this meeting….maybe it is best if they get to know the calm, rational spouse before they meet the noisy one??

My Food Evolution

Yesterday I had a “Duck Dynasty” marathon and watched all of series 1 and 2. I am addicted to this show. I wanna be a Robertson. But one of the guys, not the wives. The wives just seem to mill about looking pretty while the men have all the fun. And I’d never have to wax again. Any part of me. Ever.

The one thing repulsive on that show is when they eat squirrels. Apparently rednecks do this. I have to say maybe it is just Georgian rednecks who abstained but I never ate a squirrel. I wonder if my Grandma ate them? When I told Caitlin I have eaten frogs legs she was a bit repulsed. But they are nice! It may help in this balance of views that I hate frogs and love squirrels (as animals not to eat).

One of the pieces of advice the Grandfather in Duck Dynasty gave his Grandson was to try and find a woman who could cook better than his mother as Mama’s cooking is always the best to a man. What do I remember my Grandma cooking? Big pots of pinto beans with fatback, served with chopped onions and cornbread. Big platters of fried chicken, crispy outside and soft inside. Fried potatoes with onions, fried green tomatoes…and there lies why I seldom make these things is the health risk. But they still remind me of growing up in Georgia.

When Norm and I were out for the dinner at Pure we reminisced about one of the best meals we had ever eaten. We were living in the UK and had flown to Pisa for a long weekend over Valentines Day. We had been sight seeing all day and wanted something nice to eat so we decided to just follow some local Italians who looked like they had good taste. We picked a stylish couple and just started following them, just far enough back so that we didn’t look like pickpockets. They ducked down a side street you wouldn’t know existed if you were not a local. They entered a tiny little stone building with a small sign all in Italian and joined a big party of people celebrating. We went in and the maitre de asked if we had reservations and we said no. He said the kitchen was closing as there was a private party on but if we were happy with whatever the chef had in the kitchen we could eat. Thank goodness I had lived out of the US long enough I had been weaned of my ‘sauce on the side and this instead of that’ mentality and just accepted what life presented to me.

1st we were served a light salad with Parmesan shavings and Parma ham with some gorgeous bread and butter. We were then given a huge steaming bowl of seafood risotto. It was so creamy and the tastes of the sea were just light enough to not overpower you. It was just the most divine meal.

Sometimes when you let the universe be in charge what you are given can surmount even your highest expectations.