The Path of Peace

This was my first week back at work after my month off and it was a challenge to get back into a routine. On Monday I had a full day workshop on Data Modeling, on Thursday I attended a DAMA Conference and today I had a presentation to a potential new client and had to drive to Stellenbosch so at least I had a break from the usual monotony of being desk bound for 8 hours a day.

Last Thursday I finally bowed to pressure (pun intended) and went to the doctor and the chiropractor about the headaches I have been having for weeks. My GP told me I had a sinus infection and that my neck was out of alignment. He subscribed antibiotics and muscle relaxers.

I popped into Allegria Cafe and Life for a bite to eat after seeing the doc. I had the chicken salad with avocado and it was delicious.

I saw the chiropractor later that same afternoon but after a day or two of no pain my headaches returned and I ended up going back to the chiropractor again yesterday morning.

That day I shopped for food while waiting on my prescriptions to be filled and so on Thursday night I cooked for a change. I was surprised I hadn’t forgotten how! I roasted a pork fillet in a spicy plum sauce, and to go with it I made roast sweet potatoes, mushrooms and fried red cabbage in butter and balsamic.

It was rather delicious if I say so myself.

I had a lovely last weekend to round off my holiday.

On last Friday morning I went to Blue Route Mall to return some items, finish my last bits of Christmas shopping and pick up something for Lily’s birthday. After shopping I went to Jakura for lunch and had their crispy chili beef. It was delicious and spicy.

They also do yummy sushi and have one of the fun conveyor belts with the sushi on it. I don’t know why but that makes it taste better.

On Friday evening Norm and I had planned to go out for dinner but it had started pouring with rain, the windows were rattling like mad and the sky was really cloudy and misty so we decided to rather stay in.

Norm went down to the village to pick up a curry from The Indian Oven.

I had butter chicken and we shared saag aloo and cauliflower rice. It was OK but I have found their food is not as special as it used to be. I used to love their curry with prawns but the prawns now taste plastic and frozen so I moved to chicken dishes instead, but I invariably find a bit of cartilage or bone in my food which is very off putting. But of the options for curry in Hout Bay this is the best of the lot.

Last Saturday morning we had a lie in and then I made eggs baked in half an avocado and topped with cheese and bacon to go with them.

I found the avo to be a bit bitter when warmed but Norm loved them.

Saturday evening Caitlin popped by and we had our friends Mel and Cyril round for drinks and snacks.

We had a lovely night laughing and telling stories about all sorts. It was a relaxing night and stress free as we just did snacks so I wasn’t running around messing about with food.

On Sunday I had planned to go drumming in the morning but I only woke at 9.30 and it was too late to get there so we had another long lie in bed.

Later in the afternoon we went to La Parada at Constantia Nek to meet friends. They have live music on Sundays and it is heaving. Sharon had organized it and invited several others. Her friend Walter was there.

He managed to knock over 3 different glasses which had us all dodging liquids. Oops.

Our friend Delia was there as well.

We had a giggle about Delia being a mom of 5 yet she struggled to convince the bouncers she was of legal age. She is such a cutie and she is such a nice person as well.

Sharon and I had a good natter, it was lovely to see her. She is such a kind person.

We all ordered tapas to eat. Norm and Delia had the tuna tataki and I had the grilled calamari.

I also had the prawn croquettes.

The calamari was lovely but the prawn croquettes were overly cheesy and did not seem to contain much in the way of prawns at all. They also tasted a bit doughy. I won’t recommend those. The tuna tataki looked divine.

We had some German tourists sitting at the same table and I spent a lot of time chatting to Heloise who was sat next to me. She and I instantly bonded. She said to me that she felt like I ‘was a drummer whose heart was in rhythm with hers’. I hadn’t told her I was a drummer and that freaked me out a wee bit! We talked about spirituality and our pasts and beliefs and she said that I healed her with some of the things I said. I told her that I have been told I am a healer, I just do not know how to apply these alleged skills. Another friend told me that just my energy can heal people. I don’t question it, I just let it flow if I am speaking to someone on that topic. If spirit sends me a message I speak it and try to be a conduit and not block it by trying to be rational.

It was a latish end for a school night but Norm and I went home and relaxed a bit after. I managed to stay awake for my workshop the next day so it is all good.

Norm cooked a few nights this week. One night he stuffed chicken breasts with cranberry and cheddar cheese. He served with roast sweet potatoes and vegetables.

Another night he made spaghetti bolognaise with low carb noodles and topped it all with cheese.

Together one evening we cooked fillet steaks with spinach pureed with mature cheddar cheese and served it with roast vegetables.

My friend Cyril said that the spinach looked like a frog about to jump, I agree that it does! I am glad he didn’t say that before I ate it or it would have put me off.

This weekend we were supposed to have my kids here for a late Christmas lunch and to exchange gifts, however this has been a week full of sadness in that two of Caitlin and Lily’s girlfriends’ fathers passed away and one of Wes’ friends also lost his father. Touched by 3 deaths in one week. I pray for peace for their families.

I woke to an interesting message from a friend today who is a medium and psychic. A friend who passed away a few years ago came through to my psychic friend to tell her that ‘my Native American rituals’ (I assume he meant my drumming and prayers) has meant that he can no longer communicate to me. She said he was very dramatic and she even named him so there is no doubt who it is. I found it interesting that prayer has blocked him from communicating with me. I wonder what that means?

I know that I have a lot of peace when I drum and I feel very close to my ancestors and nature. I hope my friend finds the peace which still seems to elude him much as it did in life.

Caitlin popped around this afternoon to get her presents. She liked her presents and the kids gave Norm a lovely shirt and they gave me a gorgeous mermaid blanket. I love it so much!

We had sushi for dinner from K1.

It was so yummy.

I am off to the hairdresser early tomorrow and then we are going to a friend’s leaving party in the afternoon. We had a huge rainstorm today and as much as we need the rain I hope it clears tomorrow as the party venue is outside at the beach.

Either way it will be what it will be!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

Until then, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x

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Home Sweet Home

As lovely as it was to see my family and friends and as sad as I was to be leaving my Mom, I am very happy to be back home in our own environment with our animals.

I also sensed that my Mom might have had enough of us being around as she got a bit snappy and told me all I did was boss her around. I did tell her to use her turn signal when driving which she never did and I would wake her when she slept late and suggest she went to bed at night when she stayed up late but that was so we a) survived her driving and b) spent more time together. But she is used to living on her own and seemed to struggle with getting into a routine. She also needs a lot more sleep than I do, but then most people do!

Our return trip was broken down into 4 phases: first we took a shuttle bus from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport, we then had a 13 hour flight from Atlanta to Doha, a 9 hour layover in Doha, then another 10 hour flight from Doha to Cape Town. It makes it more manageable mentally to break it down like that rather than to view the 33 hour journey in its entirety. We celebrated the successful completion of each phase and got very excited as we neared the end of the final flight. We did not leave a car at the airport so we had to Uber home but that went smoothly and we were home quickly with no dramas. The only thing that marred our journey was the fact that we were surrounded by screaming babies and toddlers on the first flight. We were in the row behind the bulkhead which had 2 infants, one of them screamed blue murder for most of the flight. His brother was about 5 and alternated between playing full volume games on his dad’s phone and shouting and crying. He kept crawling up the aisles when the air hostess was trying to navigate her trolley. There were loads of men hovering around the children and the men wouldn’t sit down even as the plane was taxiing down the runway. They also kept moving seats throughout the flight. I kept hoping the pilot would slam on brakes so that we could watch the idiots fly off down the aisle. I was struggling with a headache and the screaming meant I had to take a tranquilizer to survive.

The second flight was uneventful as was our layover. At Doha we had a meal then found a quiet place to sit and rest. As I don’t sleep on planes I tried to sleep a bit but kept waking myself up by my snoring. Oops. Embarrassing.

We wandered about the airport being a bit silly and trying to keep ourselves amused.

Our last week in the US was busy yet relaxing.

We went shopping for the kids’ Christmas presents and I got some good buys in the sales. I got a pair of Levis for a bargain and they fit me perfectly. Norm also got a couple of pair of Levis but not as cheap as mine which I had unearthed in the clearance rack at TJ Maxx. His were from a posh men’s store but were still cheaper than buying them in SA.

We drove up to spend New Years Eve on Watts Bar Lake with our friends Joy and Tim. They have a lovely home directly on the lake.

We met my mom and Joy’s lovely friend Raven on the way so she could follow us as it is a twisty windy route which would be difficult if you didn’t know the area.

This is Raven, Joy and I.

Some of my Mom and Joy’s friends came up to see us too. Left to right is Tanya and her mom Evelyn, Joy, mom and I.

I probably haven’t seen Tanya in about 30 years. Evelyn came with my Mom to visit me in George when I first moved to South Africa in 1991/2. It was so nice to see them and spend time with them.

At midnight there were fireworks across the lake.

We were hoping to meet Tim and Joy’s giant pony of a dog Bo but he was put into kennels as there were a lot of people there for the party and the roof was being replaced early the next morning and they were worried the noise would stress him out. Little Pax was there however and he is so adorable.

Norm and he became great friends.

We had a lovely time.

We were hungry by the time we finally got organized and on the road the next day and so we stopped at Abuelo’s for Mexican food as we were going to a shop in the mall next to it.

It was bitterly cold that day.

We enjoyed their queso dip and chips and salsa. I was hoping for some really good carnitas and so I chose the carnitas enchiladas.

I was disappointed in the carnitas as well as the flavorless enchilada sauce. It was all rather bland. Mom had recommended the potato side dish papas con chile instead of rice but in my head I had expected patatas bravas which are Spanish spicy fried potatoes but instead it was cheesy creamy mash with peppers, onions and chilli topped with cheese. I didn’t enjoy that dish very much mostly due to the texture. I’m not a fan of mushy food.

Norm and Mom had the quesadilla.

Mom and my friends love Abuelo’s but I definitely preferred the Mexican food we had the previous week by far, the whole Abuelo’s vibe from the ‘hacienda style’ decor to the food felt a bit gringo plastic. The staff all looked incredibly grumpy and unhappy but I would also be grumpy if I had to work on New Year’s Day. I suspect Tres Amigos is family run and all staff seemed to be Mexican or Hispanic based on their accents and the food tasted more authentic. I give Abuelo’s 3 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

While home I had been trying to track down Peggie who was my bestie when I was in my early 20’s. We used to party hard back in the day and we got into all sorts of mischief. I managed to contact her and we met her at a local diner called Nikki’s Drive In for dinner.

Nikki’s has been around since the 1950’s and is a local icon.

Norm had a burger.

I ordered the shrimp platter and Mom ordered the fried oysters and we shared them.

We stayed for hours and chatted. Our journey there was a bit of a nightmare as it was pouring rain, we were traveling at rush hour and we ended up exiting via the wrong exit and so Peggie was waiting almost an hour for us. I was so glad she waited. When we got ready to pay our bill the waitress told us that it had been paid by a secret Santa! Apparently he paid the full bill for 3 tables!

We met my uncle Joe at The Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar the following day for lunch.

It is right on the Tennessee river.

Joy and Tim drove down to join us.

We enjoyed getting to see everyone again.

Mom enjoyed it too and she treated us all to lunch.

Mom and Joe had the fried oysters and I nicked one and they were divine. Much better than Nikki’s.

Joy, Tim and I all had the shrimp.

It was really good. The shrimp in the south of the US are very different to South African prawns.

We all had a piece of key lime pie for dessert. It was just OK. I am not a fan of whipped cream and expected it to be topped with meringue.

I give the pie 3 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️ but my main course was a solid 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Peggie came to Mom’s house to see us on our second last day and it was nice to spend more time catching up with her. She gave me a painting she had done, a feathered clasp she made as well as some stunning earrings.

On our last full day we had a lazy morning, packed our bags and then went to dinner at Fuji Steak House. I was craving teppanyaki style food and some friends recommended this venue. I used to love Benihana but there wasn’t one nearby. We were seated at an empty teppanyaki table when we arrived.

While we were eating our miso soup and salad 2 other groups joined us.

We all ordered our food and the chef got busy cooking.

One of the groups at our table was a family of 3, a young man and his parents and they were revolting to be near due to the way which they ate. There was a very sweet white sauce served with the food and they dumped 4 servings of the sauce all over their food and mixed it all together into a sticky sweet mess, running their fingers round the serving bowl then loudly sucking their fingers clean. They took huge bites and chewed loudly with their mouths open. It rather put me off of my food. I also found it odd that the father was wearing a trucker cap while eating. It is basic etiquette to remove a hat when dining. Almost every man there had on a trucker cap. What is that about?

Mom and I ordered the shrimp and fillet steak. As is traditional it was served with rice and vegetables done on the grill.

The food was good but I found the sauce quite heavy. The steak was tender and the shrimp tasty.

I give our dinner 3.5 Kitten Stars, the food was acceptable but the overall experience probably pulled that score down due to the finger suckers at our table.

Later that evening Warren and Anita popped by to visit.

He seemed to be minding his manners after falling out with Mom on his last visit. He chose to blame me for my Mom getting upset over his behavior during his previous visit rather than apologize for his being inappropriate. He loves to shock people and takes pride in having ‘no filters’. However if that is how he wants to present himself then he has to take responsibility for the impacts of that. I love him but he can be hard work.

Norm said to me that he understands me much better after this visit. He found it odd that no one was at all curious about our life in South Africa. Everyone mostly just talked about themselves. He also found it odd that some of my family made very little effort at all to spend time with me or even to ring to say goodbye. My religious and political beliefs are diametrically opposed to my family but that should not matter. Family is family. My uncle Joe surprised me in the efforts he made, he was sick but we still saw him many times. He even popped by on our last day to say cheerio. I really valued and appreciated the time with him. Much like our last visit to the UK the people we thought would make an effort couldn’t be bothered and the ones we thought we might not even see did make the effort!

As they say in the UK, ‘There is nowt so queer as folk’. I still am permanently surprised by the interactions I have with people and their behavior. Life is easier without expectations and then you are never disappointed when those expectations are not met.

But maybe I am a bit unfair today as I am incredibly hung over and suffering from lack of sleep.

We arrived home on Monday around lunch time and I showered and went straight to bed for a nap. I slept a deep sleep until 6pm when Norm woke me. We got a takeaway for dinner and I forced myself to stay awake until 11pm to get onto local time. I kept nodding off but we soldiered on. I slept really soundly that night despite my long nap.

On Tuesday I had plans to meet my friend Cathi for lunch as she was here visiting from Canada and it was her last day today. We picked her up in Constantia at 1.15 and headed to Bistro 1682 at Steenberg winery.

Norm dropped us off and we were given a lovely table on the patio.

To start they brought a complimentary platter of bread, olives, olive oil and raspberry vinegar.

For our starter we shared the Panko Crusted Cheese Fritter at R88: Tender greens, goat’s’ cheese mousse, charred courgettes, tomato & jalapeño jam. It was divine but I forgot to snap a pic before we wolfed it down.

I ordered 2 tapas dishes, Tempura Prawns for R110: Chargrilled pineapple salsa, coriander, chipotle aioli, pineapple syrup.

This dish only gets 3 Kitten Stars as it was a small portion of prawns for that price. Maybe I am spoiled by the giant American shrimp and portions.

I also had the Beef Tataki for R105: Seared beef, truffled corn, shimeji mushrooms, wild rocket, chilli, mayo. The chilli oil gave it a nice little kick. The beef was very tender.

This dish gets 5 Kitten Stars as it was a nice sized portion and tasted delicious. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cathi ordered the Sesame & Ginger Sirloin Salad at R185: Tender greens, red cabbage, onion, coriander, sprouts, aioli, chilli & soy ginger vinaigrette. It looked lovely and Cathi seemed to enjoy it.

We had just finished our meal when our friend Nicola arrived to join us.

We have all been friends for over 25 years. It proves that for true friends the passage of time makes no difference at all. We all chatted nonstop and laughed ourselves silly. It was a very long leisurely lunch and I consumed far too much wine and was rather tipsy when Norm collected Cathi and I at 7.30pm. We dropped Cathi at her mom’s and tootled off home. As we had eaten at 2pm I was drunk hungry and we stopped at Massimo’s for food to take home. Norm tried to get a lot of water down me as well but I passed out on the couch and woke at 11pm and got a second wind. He eventually persuaded me to go to bed at midnight but my snooze meant I was feeling the acidity of the wine and my hangover had started to kick in so I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours.

As Cathi was flying today I hope she felt better than I did when I woke this morning!

We are trying to get back onto our low carb eating and Norm made us a low carb high fat brunch.

For dinner tonight we got a takeaway from Spiro’s as we still haven’t done a proper food shop. I didn’t make it out of my pajamas all day much less to the shops.

I had crispy baby squids, grilled halloumi, vegetable medley and cucumber slices and creamy feta. There is breading on the squid but other than that it was mostly HFLC.

I’ve had a horrendous headache again today. I’ve had one on and off for a few weeks now and if it is still bothering me tomorrow then I will go to my GP.

On Sunday morning I have drumming in the morning and Norm and I have a lunch with friends afterwards and on Monday I am back at work. I have really enjoyed my long break but I will not be able to take off any time for ages now.

The girls are coming here for a belated Christmas lunch the following weekend and I am looking forward to seeing them. I wish Trevor could come with them but he only has a few more days with Amber before she goes offshore again so I understand that he cannot do so. Hopefully I can go down to see him soon as I miss him.

I hope you have all had an enjoyable break as well.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

Elasticity

Relationships change, just like people change. I know that I have definitely changed as it has been over 35 years since I left the south.

As much as I had been dreading the trip here, it was long but uneventful. We flew from Cape Town to Doha, had a 8 hour layover in Doha and then took a second flight from Doha into Atlanta. It was about 33 hours of travel in total. My cousin Brent was kind enough to accompany Mom on the drive from North Georgia to Atlanta airport to pick us up as Mom was ill.

Mom’s new home is so lovely.

She has such beautiful decorations for Christmas.

Her tree is so pretty too.

Mom’s cat Irie is a very spoiled demanding kitty.

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It was so nice to wake up at my Mom’s house on Christmas. She has been so generous with both Norm and I.

She gave me a lovely black wool cardigan and two new pairs of boots.

Norm got a couple of lovely new tops and a puffer vest.

(Excuse his ‘just got out of bed’ hair.)

The kids and I gave Mom a lovely aquamarine bracelet.

Christmas Day was spent at my Uncle Joe’s home in a suburb of Chattanooga.

It’s on a large plot which is right on the Tennessee River.

Joe’s son Brent, his lovely wife Kelly and his cute and funny daughters were there for lunch as well as my uncle Harley. Several of my cousins and other family members popped in.

My cousin Mona and I grew up together and call each other sister. It was so special to see her.

Norm and I had a lovely day.

One afternoon Norm and I went for a walk around Mom’s new estate. There is a pond behind her house.

There is a little clubhouse that residents can use.

It was brisk with cold and on our way home we got caught in the rain.

One thing about returning to your childhood home is that you want to experience the foods you cannot get wherever you live. One of those on my list was good old southern BBQ. We went to Bailey’s BBQ which is a large metal shed type structure which you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t looking for it. But the food was delicious.

Mom and I both enjoyed our food.

My uncle Joe joined us.

One night we went to the Home Plate Grill which is a small diner in the centre of Ringgold. I ordered the Shrimp Plate which comes with hush puppies and 3 sides. I chose fries, fried okra and pinto beans.

After dinner that evening Mom and I dropped Norm off at the house and went to Chattanooga to the mall. There are loads of sales on and Mom bought me 3 beautiful bras.

I usually buy my bras from the grocery store and guess at the size, so Mom is trying to class me up a bit. She had them measure me and I had to try on several designs to find the perfect fit. Living in Africa has lowered my standards as decent bras are incredibly expensive there. I’m so happy with my fancy new bras.

When we left the bra shop it was bucketing rain and Mom and I got soaked going to the next shop.

Mom also bought me some plain black trousers for work. She has given me a stack of her clothes which are like new. Luckily my suitcase was mostly empty on the way over here.

Mom hasn’t been feeling well so I have been cooking breakfast and tidying up around the house. At first I had fallen into a pattern of waking at 4:30am and then being unable to go back to sleep. I forced myself to lie in bed until 5 and then I would move to the couch so as to not disturb Norm. As the week has gone on I have managed to sleep a bit later each day and this morning slept til 7am.

I sit quietly on my phone playing games and Facebooking until everyone else wakes up around 8 or so then I make a proper southern breakfast of eggs and sausage, country ham or bacon. Mom has to make the biscuits if we have them as that is beyond my skill set. Mostly I just made toast or English muffins.

I have been trying to keep things tidy whereas normally I would have just taken for granted that Mom would look after us all. This trip I see how my Mom has slowed down, I see how frail she sometimes seems and I want to look after her. At what point does the caregiver become the one who needs care given? I wish I lived closer to her.

On Friday we were supposed to go on a road trip across the mountain but the weather was abysmal as it was pouring with rain and several areas ended up flooded. We decided to have a lazy pajama day and we stayed home and relaxed. That night we went searching for a Mexican restaurant and chose Tres Amigos near my Mom’s house.

I ordered a combo plate with a taco, tostado and an enchilada.

It was yummy. I really miss proper Mexican food. The fact that you get complimentary chips and salsa is fabulous and the idea of refillable drinks is also unheard of in SA.

Mom was kind enough to allow me to have some of my old school friends around for a visit. I did a post on Facebook and tagged lots of people whom I would be happy to see and asked those who wanted to come to send a private message for the address. That way we did not compromise Mom’s security or privacy and it also meant that we had an idea of numbers for catering. We preordered a tray of sandwiches and a fruit and cheese platter from Publix and we got up early to tidy up the house and collect the food.

People arrived from 2pm. Karen is one of my oldest friends as she has been my friend since we were 5 years old. She has been married to Mike since we left high school and they still seem to be the perfect couple. Next my lovely friend Jackie arrived and then my friend Larry.

Last to arrive was my cousin Mona and her daughter Stephanie.

It was a perfect sized group for my Mom’s house.

It was so nice to see my friends and to catch up with news of other classmates. Larry brought his old annuals for us to revisit.

Some had replied to say they had other plans or were no longer living in the area. Several other people had RSVP’d that they intended to come but then cancelled due to illness.

Many people never bothered to even acknowledge my invite however. Several people whom I had sent personal messages to didn’t respond to those either. Today I rationalized that as I literally flew halfway around the world and hadn’t been home in 11 years if people are so rude as to not even respond then they are not my friend and so I culled them from Facebook and unfollowed them on Instagram. Why pretend to be friends? I’ll most likely never see them again and why allow them to be a voyeur into my life. The people I find the funniest are the men who are quite often alllll up in my inbox but did not bother to respond publicly. What are they hiding or who are they hiding from? They are all married but I tell my husband who messages me, but they are obviously being shady. I should call them out on their bullshit.

So many people around this area seem to be ill and after everyone left I also started to feel a bit achy and my throat started hurting. I went to bed early with a hope that it would go by morning but I’ve woken today feeling dreadful. Mom and Norm went to the chemist to get meds and I’m dosing up on immune boosters, vitamin C and flu meds.

We were supposed to go for lunch with my cousin Warren today but I felt too bad so we stayed home and Mom cooked dinner for us. Norm has had a bit of cabin fever I think.

Warren and his wife Anita popped around to see me tonight so at least I got to see him. He was drinking and he behaved a bit childishly and annoyed Mom and they had a row and he stomped off dramatically. The joys of the dysfunction of family.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be going to our friend Joy to spend the night and she has organized a NYE party for us so I am really hoping I feel better.

The same thing happened a few years ago when we went away for Christmas to the UK, I went down with a bug on NYE and was laid up for several days of our holiday. Obviously new bugs find me when I travel.

I’m at that point of my holiday where I start to panic that I am running out of time to do all of the things we want to do. I’ve still not bought the kids their gifts, we will do a belated Christmas when I get back to SA.

I want to go to downtown Chattanooga to see the city as I’ve heard that it has been transformed into a vibey metropolis with art galleries and restaurants. When I was a kid it was dangerous and run down so I look forward to seeing it rejuvenated. We went for a drive through the small town of Rossville where I grew up but it is so rundown and derelict. Every corner seems to be a pawn shop or second hand car lot. It made me rather sad. The little town my Mom has settled in is very sweet, it still has that charming country town feel.

I am glad Mom has settled here. She is in a lovely estate with family and old friends nearby.

It’s perfect and I’m so happy to see her happy.

I hope you all enjoy your New Year.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

High Times

It has been fabulous being off of work this week and I’ve mentally started to finally chill. Even the village energy seems relaxed and it feels like we are away somewhere exotic on holiday rather than roaming round our own town.

Tuesday was the start of my annual leave and I’m now off work until mid-January. I couldn’t have a long lie in that morning however as I had a doctor appointment in the northern suburbs and left home just after 730am to make it. Traffic was abysmal and it was pouring rain and foggy and I barely made it there for my 830am appointment.

After my appointment I collected Norm and we went to Allegria Cafe for breakfast. The tourist season has launched for sure as they were rammed! The owner was running round and keeping everything on track and we were shown to a table off in the corner. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with bacon and it was perfectly cooked.

Afterwards we had lots of errands to run and we went to RockChic to shop for my Mom. I narrowed it down to these choices and sent the pic to my Mom to choose from.

As it was the middle of the night in Georgia I decided to come back to the shop the next day to make my purchase after Mom had replied.

Norm and I did some shopping for our upcoming trip and for dinner and we headed home afterwards as Norm was busy writing his report that was due. On our way we stopped off to collect Norm’s car from the garage. The reason it broke down when we collected it last time was that the fuel gauge was broken and it had been out of petrol. They only discovered that when they dropped the fuel tank to check the fuel pump. The funny thing is I had told Norm I thought it was out of petrol and he said ‘don’t be silly there was a quarter of a tank’. Miss Witchy Pants was right. When will he learn to listen to my messages?

Never mind. At least it did not cost any additional money.

We were invited to our friends Tim and Nicola’s anniversary party that evening in Simons Town.

Nicola looked stunning as always.

Their house is directly on the beach of a nature reserve and they have an amazing view.

There were endless trays of delicious canapés making the rounds and a huge trough of bottles of wine and champagne. We met some lovely people and caught up with those we knew already. It was a beautiful warm night and we were all sitting outside on their veranda overlooking the sea. We had a great night but we were both up early the next morning and so we didn’t stay late.

Norm was busy working and I was up early and off to the city to Pause, the hair salon. I had a lovely relaxing session under the hands of the fabulous Thembi. My hairdresser Leandra snapped a pic afterwards.

Norm was in the city for a meeting and he rang after he finished to find out where I was but I had already left the city. We agreed to meet for lunch back in Hout Bay.

I went to purchase the bracelet for my Mom then walked to the pub and got a table in the beer garden.

While waiting for Norm I heard the clatter of tiny hooves on the roof and looked up hoping for a glance of Santa.

It was just a man cleaning the gutters and the magic was ruined. 🎅😂

Norm arrived and we ordered. He had his fave scotch eggs with chips.

I ordered the popcorn chicken starter with chips.

It was a stunning day and we had a leisurely meal then went to the chemist to see if I had a refill on my tranquilizer script but I did not. I prefer to use CBD oil for my anxiety but I cannot travel with that so I reverted to my script. I popped into my GP and they said they would email the script to the chemist for collection. Norm picked up something for dinner that night then met me at home.

We grilled out as it was a lovely warm night. I made a simple salad with lots of feta and Norm grilled sweet corn and fillet steaks.

Thursday morning Norm had a Skype call at 7am and I had a long lie in.

We were invited for Christmas drinks at the British High Commissioner’s residence that evening. The historic home is so exquisite and the old cape Dutch furnishings and interior are as well.

The gardens are so stunning.

I wore a dress Norman bought for me, it’s a few years old but has only been worn once before as I seldom dress up or wear short dresses.

We had a giggle trying to get a decent selfy with the cheetah in the background.

And again trying to get one with the house in the background.

There was a bar on entry and waiters were roaming around with trays of delicious canapés.

We had assumed it would be a large group attending but it was an intimate gathering of only a few dozen. The High Commissioner, Nigel, gave a speech and we all toasted to the end of 2018.

Not long after that we booked an Uber and headed off to get food in Constantia. However as we drove there I remembered that we had not taken any cash or cards as the food and drink is catered and we did not intend to go on anywhere after. Luckily we could just update our app with our home address and redirect our driver. Thank goodness we realized before we got to the restaurant, tipsy and broke.

Once home we used OrderIn to get a pizza delivered from Massimo’s as we have no food in the house at all and we had drank too much to drive.

It was delicious as always and we were happy when we toddled off to sleep full of pizza and wine.

Mom rang when we got in to say she was really sick and on antibiotics and might not be able to come to Atlanta to collect us. We looked online at our options and the bus would take an additional 4 hours on top of our 33 hour trip so we decided to rent a car for one day. Luckily Norm sleeps on planes so he should be fine to drive.

We have booked a lovely couple and their daughter to house sit and the dogs know and love them. We have also booked a dog walker to come walk them every day.

I will miss seeing my children over the holidays but I won’t miss cooking in the intense heat.

I am excited about seeing my friends and family whom I haven’t seen in so long. I will take lots of pics and share our adventures with you when I am back home.

Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful holiday celebrating whatever it is that you believe in. I hope the remainder of your year is full of love, family, good food and fun.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

Rolling into the Chaos

Life has been building up to the Chaos of Christmas.

The joys of the holidays have not been a deterrent to the criminals in the bay however. Or maybe the holidays were the impetus? The need for festive cash? Or maybe there are some humans who are nasty year round as there was an attack on our local little gem, the World of Birds. World of Birds is a local tourist attraction and sanctuary. They have cute little monkeys and reptiles as well. It has been in Hout Bay for 45 years. Before we emigrated back to SA, whenever we would come on holiday we used to always take the kids for a day out to let the little squirrel monkeys climb all over them in the Monkey Jungle.

The venue has been struggling financially as animals are expensive to maintain, especially exotic ones. Last weekend after a busy weekend of visitors the 81 year old owner was tied up and robbed of R70k worth of takings.

The crime around the ongoing bus strikes has also resulted in more chaos when last week the police used tear gas and stun grenades on the protesters who were causing disruption near my office.

Meanwhile life carries on for those just trying to get shit done.

I presented to my UCT project clients last week. I decided to wear a dress as it was very warm and I was facilitating.

Norm cooked for us a few nights this week and I cooked a few nights. One night we had chicken sausages and the poms love chicken sausage.

On Thursday after work I collected Norm and took him to collect his car which has been in the garage for 6 weeks. It cost us R20.5 thousand rand as it had some major things wrong with it. I left him at the garage and drove home. I had just changed into my pajamas when I get a call from Norm saying the car had broken down again on the way home from the garage! It has been there ever since with the only info we have been given that it might be the fuel pump. It is so incredibly frustrating.

When I arrived back home I saw that I had a big parcel waiting for me and when I unwrapped it, it was a box of goodies and treats sent from our company directors. There was a bottle of bubbly, some chocolates, nougat, nuts, biltong and other treats. The company who produced it is called Gift Lady which is an awesome online gift service where you can choose your own hampers or order flowers and other goodies.

On Friday we had take out sushi from K1 sushi in Hout Bay.

I had my usual order of salmon roses, bamboo roses, prawn roses and prawn tempura. It was all delicious.

On Saturday night we went to the Artscape Theater to see the musical Matilda.

I had bought tickets for Caitlin’s birthday months before and we were so excited to finally go.

We met Caitlin for dinner at Col’Cacchio at the foreshore before hand.

I chose it as they have low carb alternatives. Saying that, both Caitlin and I had a pizza 🙂

I had the Smokey Babe with Asian deboned smoked pork ribs, red onions, corn, spring onions and coriander. I asked them to hold the mint. (Who TF puts mint on a pizza??)

Caitlin had a half and half: half Brie and half Sedriano (sesame seeds, tomato, avocado  and some sort of salami-ish something which I cannot spell or understand and the silly website restricts you from copying text).

Norm was a good boy (who left hungry due to just a single bit of chicken in his dish). He had the Zuchetti Verde Rosso which is chicken parmigiana over zucchini noodles. He did say it was very tasty but they should have the choice of a half portion or a full portion and the size he ordered should be the half portion.

After we ate we drove over to the theatre and parked up and just had time to grab a bottle of water and get seated before the bell rang.

The show was an absolute delight and we loved it so much.

The children were incredibly talented and it was amazing that they could remember the sometimes complex lines!

But the little actress who played Matilda was just incredible. Three different actresses share the part and I do not know the name of the one which was starring the night we went but it is the little one on the left.

We had such a brilliant night!

The rest of the weekend was relaxing for me as Norm was working on writing  report so I was just keeping myself amused. I watched a few Christmas themed comedies yesterday and an old but cute Susan Sarandon film called The Meddler. I also enjoyed Four Christmases which was silly but funny.

Pixie has been my sidekick.

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. It is the Day of Reconciliation. It is a day to commemorate the end of Apartheid. The actual holiday occurred on Sunday the 16th but the day we were given off of work was Monday. However as my annual leave starts on the 19th I chose to work today, take tomorrow as the paid public holiday and start my annual leave on Wednesday.

I am working from home surrounded by the animals. Blue is on the balcony next to me enjoying what little breeze is available.

I have a busy week planned as it starts to ramp up to silly season and we prepare for our trip. I have my annual gynae check up on Tuesday morning and a friend’s drinks party on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday I am at the hairdresser early in the morning and on Thursday evening Norman and I are invited to the British High Commissioner’s residence for Christmas drinks.

It is such a gorgeous venue and they always throw an amazing bash with open bars, delicious canapes and live music.

I may be going out on Friday night to see a friend who is over from Canada at the moment but as Norm and I fly early the next morning it cannot be a late one or a very alcohol fueled one. Our flight is 33 hours and that is a challenging enough expedition without being tired or hungover. But my friend who is visiting has a packed itinerary travelling around SA and I do not know if she will be able to fit me in any other time which makes me really sad as we have been friends for almost 30 years.

This year has left me evaluating so many relationships in my life. It has been a sad and emotional year for me, a year of pain and transition. But with growth comes pain, with transformation comes pain and as I have seen, often with awareness comes pain.

I can attest to all of these. As I am becoming more spiritually aware and ‘conscious’ of the sincerity and energy of others and more trusting of my instincts I grow. With this growth comes the growing pains. I hope I will come out of this year a stronger person or at least more aware and trusting of my intuition.

I am really looking forward to spending time with my Mom and with Joy (my second mom who is too young to actually BE my mom). I have not been back to the US since 2007 and have not seen any of my cousins or other family members since. I am very excited to see my Mom’s new house as well. I am so happy that her house in Atlanta finally sold and that she is settled back in North Georgia near where she grew up as she is near friends and family. Her old home was too large for her to cope with and this new one is a bungalow so she can get around easily and manage much better on her own.

Joy has organised a NYE party for us and we are driving up to stay at her lake house for a few days. I am sad that I will not be able to see my children for the holidays but they all have their own partners and are generally scattered all over for the holidays.

Life changes and we have to change with it.

If we are lucky we might get a bit of snow for Christmas, if nothing else it will be nice to not be cooking in the brutal SA heat.

Mom has offered to host an afternoon tea one of the days we are there and I will invite some of my old school friends around for a catch up.

If I do not connect with any of you again before the holidays I wish you all a happy Christmas and New Year.

Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x.

When the Student is Ready

I had such a relaxing lovely weekend last weekend and this weekend has been such fun.

Last Saturday Pixie was booked into the doggy chiropractor in Noordhoek and I had expected to be up and away early but Norm was so sweet and he offered to take her for me so I had a chance to properly relax. As Lily and Josh were here it was nice as I got more time to hang out with Lily.

We  had our first load shedding in Hout Bay last weekend and we were without electricity for a few hours on Saturday night. Of course it happened at night when you cannot see to read or otherwise amuse yourself easily. Here is a link to an article about the grid shut downs that are being done by Eskom. Cape Town finally rallies and just squeezes out of the water restrictions when we get hit with electricity restrictions. Such incompetence by our government.

But you have to make the most of life. Me, Norm, Lily and Josh played 30 Seconds by the light of a few lanterns and some candles and it was actually lots of fun! Josh seldom hangs out with us as he is usually playing games online upstairs when he is here so there was that advantage too. We had a laugh. The boys played against the girls. Norm and I are very good at it seeing as we have been married so long and so we have verbal shortcuts. Lily and Josh would argue if they were on the same team so we thought the girls vs boys option the safest.

Sunday I was up and away early to go drumming at my friend Gerri’s. Gerri is the drum master and she also organised the recent Dance. She is a lovely, kind woman. She gave each of us drummers a gorgeous wee bag of sage and a smudge wand to burn it with as a year end present. How sweet? It is nice to have a portable set of smudging tools for taking with me to various places or to have with me at ceremonies.

I would like to find a container for burning it in with a closed lid and a heat free handle. Maybe I should design one.

I stayed afterwards as we had all taken a dish to share at our year end lunch for the drummers. I had stopped at Alphen Farmstall in Constantia and bought a vegetarian spinach and feta quiche as well as a melktart for dessert. It was nice to chat to everyone and hear about their experiences at the dance. We also discussed Shamanism and the Red Road and discovered that several of us wish to study The Path of the White Wolf.

Here is a clip of the author, Grandmother Robin discussing it.

Gerri has already studied the Path of the White Wolf years ago with Grandmother Robin but she was saying that she would like to do it all again. I have wanted to do the course since I first met Gerri and discovered it, but I have not had the money or the time to commit to it. I have decided that I will send my desire out to the Universe and if it is meant to be, then the doors will open to allow it to happen. When it is meant to be, it will be.

I am considering giving up my gaming addiction to Covet Fashion as that consumes hours of my day. I could better spend that time enriching my life and proceeding on my spiritual journey. I feel that my Grandmothers have been pushing me towards this learning and I have found my teachers. I hope that it becomes possible for me to study the teachings of Grandmother Robin.

When I was packing up my car to go to drumming I dropped my iPhone and the screen shattered.

I was so upset because as a consultant I must have my phone.

Lily and Josh were out and so Norm and I just got a Chinese takeaway from Blue Lotus for dinner as I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

I had prawn dim sum to start.

For my main I had crispy chili chicken with noodles.

It was all very delicious indeed.

The kids arrived home from Josh’s prize giving ceremony just after we ate but they had already eaten at the track. We were all a bit knackered and so Josh played games and the rest of us watched a bit of telly.

On Sunday afternoon we heard of a rescue operation underway on Chapman’s Peak where it seemed that a woman had fallen over the cliffs. There was limited information via the radio to know whether it was a suicide or an accident. The following day we heard that the woman had died. It seems she died while taking a selfy, the article says she was trying to make it look as if she was jumping over the setting sun. She and her husband climbed over the railing onto the crumbly mountain. Her husband risked his life trying to get to her after she fell. It was her 31st birthday. It is such a tragedy for her loved ones and a sad loss of a life.

Monday I was back at work and Lily and Josh drove back home to Mossel Bay.

I had such a crap day at work on both Monday and Tuesday as I’m trying to upgrade my ancient laptop’s Operating System. It did not go smoothly and it was stressing me out. To be honest I am not bothered by the old operating system. My actual issue is that my MS PowerPoint decided to have a fatal error and I cannot open any presentations people send. I can open my own, but nothing emailed to me. As a consultant I do a lot of presentations. My colleague decided that I should update to Windows 10 and that required updating my operating system too apparently.

It led to a cluster feck of chaos. I spent several days staring at various updates happening on my screen or on the phone to the Helpdesk.

It did my head in. It was all for nowt as my laptop refused. I do not know how to resolve it without wiping my machine and doing a completely new install.

Now one of my clients has messed up my email address and I cannot receive email and have to walk over to their offices this Monday. I’ve also got to go to UCT to present to them in the afternoon so it’s going to be a busy day,

I left work at 2pm last Monday to go to the phone shop to get a new phone. I got a sexy new red iPhone XR. I’m ever so chuffed but it is hard to get used to. It took ages for me to figure out how to do a screen grab! (OK I admit that I did not figure it out I had to google it.)

It’s not the latest model but it’s what I can afford and more importantly it was in stock and got me up and online quickest. We are trying to decide whether to sell my broken screened old iPhone as is, fix it and let Norm use it, or fix it and sell it. I could maybe get a couple of grand to go towards my credit card debt.

After my phone was sorted we popped over to collect my new contact lenses and then stopped at Woolies and shopped for a few days food supplies.

For dinner last Monday night I made a Mexican salad: spicy mince on baby gem lettuce leaves, topped with half an avo, cheddar cheese, salsa & fromage frais.

It was HFLC as well as yummy but the best thing about this dish is it takes very little time to prepare and I always have some left over for my lunch the following day. As we did not do taco shells or tortillas it was low carb.

When I came home on Tuesday the garage door was open, the back gate was flapping in the wind and Norm was not answering his phone. I carefully pulled into the garage and Norm appeared from the back of the house in a bit of a state. There was load shedding all afternoon and he had managed to lock himself out of the house. Navajo was locked IN the house and he was freaking out. We have now discovered that our front door key only works from the inside! For some odd reason it does not work from the outside. Unfortunately Norm only discovered this when he got home from his meeting and could not get back in. As there was no electricity he had also been unable to cook Mzudumo lunch or conduct his Skype meetings or even charge his flat mobile. It was a stressful day for him bless him.

When we got in Norm went off to make the calls he missed and so I decided to cook again and it wasn’t totally low carb as we had fish cakes which had a wee bit of potato in them. I made roasted pumpkin, stir fried vegetables and coleslaw to go with them.

On Wednesday there was load shedding again. It was from 6-8.30 that night. I fried red cabbage and boiled sweet potatoes on my gas cooker and Norm cooked a pork roast and mushrooms outside on the gas grill. Norm made buttery mash from the boiled sweet potatoes.

Thursday I had a meeting at UCT planned but we ended up moving that out and instead ended up missioning out to Stellenbosch for a 10am meeting. We didn’t know what the traffic would be like and it’s a long drive so we left the city in plenty of time and arrived at 9.30. We walked over to a little coffee shop across the road from the client’s office. They told us it was load shedding so they had no electricity and couldn’t make a coffee, only an iced coffee. We ordered an iced coffee and sat outside. The coffee was bitter and dreadful and as I had just had a coffee on the drive up I felt a bit twitchy after drinking another. We walked over to the client offices to meet our MD and he told us that the meeting was moved to 11.30 and we were still an hour and a half early. We used that time to catch up with the tool vendor that we are partnering with for the project. Then we had a 2 hour requirement gathering workshop followed by an hours drive back to my car and then I had another 45 minutes drive to my home. We will spend the next week putting together the proposal and will see if it gets a foothold.

If that project takes off I will not be happy to drive out there every day!

On our way back to Cape Town we were starving so we stopped at a roadside burger joint. They had a really cool bright yellow truck parked in the window.

The food was mediocre but we were so hungry we wolfed down our lunches and were quickly heading back towards Cape Town.

Caitlin came around for dinner on Thursday night. It was lovely to see her. I seem to see my closest child the least!

We had an easy night in on Friday as we were both pretty tired. We got takeaways from the local Indian food restaurant The Indian Oven.

Saturday I was invited to a ladies only wine and cheese event for lunch to celebrate my friend Sharon’s 50th birthday at Buitenverwachting vineyards. It is only a few minutes away from our home. First I decided I should be sensible and line my stomach so I did not get totally paralytic. Wine is not my friend and there were loads of women I had not met going to be there and I was full of social anxiety. Second, I also needed to get Sharon a little gift and I could do both if Norm and I went to Deli Delish as I could pop next door to The Barn to shop for a gift.

We got a sunny table in the corner and ordered and then I popped next door to look at their offerings and as I walk out I run into Sharon going to collect her birthday cake!

We said a quick “hello, see you later” and carried on with our individual missions. I loved so many things in The Barn Village Store and I found a lovely necklace, an amethyst little crystal gem in a silver holder.

I went back to Deli Delish just as my coffee arrived and our breakfast came shortly after. I had a small breakfast, 2 fried eggs, bacon and a piece of whole-wheat toast. Norm had the Eggs Benedict. It is a low carb version with black mushrooms. I was distracted by my shopping expedition and forgot to take a pic of our food and I was distracted by our food and forgot to take a picture of the gift I bought! Shocking. 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

After we ate we went back to the house so I could put on my face and dress. I wore a dress I had bought when we went to the UK a few years ago but I have only worn it once if that. I adore polka dots.

Norm drove me to the wine farm and dropped me. It was a lovely warm day after an overcast drizzly morning. The venue is lovely. I was engrossed in talking and quaffing wine and did not take a pic but here is one I found on IG. Sharing is caring right?

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They served several large wooden boards with fresh crispy bread, a variety of different types of cheese, red pepper pate, olive tapenade, trout pate, butter, olives and various other tasty bits.

The wine on offer was their buiten blanc and a rose and many, many bottles of both were consumed! There was a wonderful group of women there, I met some women I hope to add to my own circle of friends. I really connected with several of them.

Sharon’s gorgeous kids were there and also sampled the yummy cake which was both vegan and Banting.

It was a really lovely day. It reinforced what Sharon said to me about my feeling anxious but still showing up- “braving always brings big rewards”. I think this should become my new mantra.

It was wonderful to see Sharon so happy.

When Sharon made her speech she talked about the tie that bound all of us women together: we are all her spirit sisters, tied together through our common stories of survival and adversity. Most of us have survived things that might destroy many other people. But yet, despite those challenges, in the words of Maya Angelou, “…..still I rise.” We are all strong, survivors.

I went away feeling uplifted by female energy. And rather tipsy from 6 hours of drinking!

Norm collected me and took me home and fed me and looked after me. I feel so blessed by my life.

Today he made me coffee in bed and when we finally got up he made me a HFLC breakfast of bacon, cheesy scrambled eggs and avocado.

I’m having a quiet day today, Norm is working and I’m doing life admin.

I hope you have all had a good weekend and I hope you enjoy what is left of it.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

The Product of our Environment

I had to get up very early last Saturday to take Norm to the airport for his flight to Johannesburg. I have not been feeling great for the last few weeks, I seem to have had a long running tummy bug so I spent the day languishing on the sofa with terrible stomach cramps.

I was due to collect him at 6pm that same evening but then his flight was delayed when they had an issue with the plane. He asked me to come later but as I can’t see at night it meant still going to the airport early while still light and just hanging out. Eventually he landed and we set off towards the city. Parking for an hour was R40 but an Uber home would have been around R200 so it was worth the mission.

By the time we headed off to find dinner it was almost 9pm and we were starving. We decided to go to Constantia as parking is easy and it was less hassle. Mugg and Bean were closing so we went to Primi Piatti.

Norm ordered the Chicken Campagnola “Chicken scallops sautéed in garlic, mustard, mushrooms, rosemary, parsley, cream and white wine. Served with linguine and roasted vegetables.” But instead of pasta he had it with zucchini fries. I was not feeling that hungry so I had “Sylvia’s Crispy Chicken Livers” which is described as crispy chicken livers sautéed with onion, garlic, fresh chilli and lemon. It is only R55 as it is a starter portion and I had it with fries.

We were both tired and my tummy was very crampy so we headed home. We did not want to go straight to bed and started a new show called ‘Sick Note‘ starring the ginger lad from Harry Potter.

It is absolutely bizarre. Funny, but in a dark off kilter way. Don Johnson is also in it and he plays the stereotypical obnoxious American.

I’ll give it 3.5 Kitten Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

On Sunday we woke to a cooler day thanks to the cloudy weather.