I Hear You Knocking

 

I suspect that I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life but I just did not have a name for it. When I moved from a tiny little town in rural Tennessee to Los Angeles in the 80’s I was diagnosed with asthma because when I would drive on the motorways I would hyperventilate and it was assumed it was a reaction to the air quality. Now I realise that I was experiencing my first full blown panic attacks.

Over the years they have reappeared in moments of extreme stress with different intensities. At their worst I faint and at their best I just feel a bit ‘twitchy’ and hypersensitive. A few years ago I was interviewing the CIO at a client and I blacked out in the middle of the interview, my vision went black and I heard the roaring in my ears but I stayed upright. Luckily the project manager I was working with realised something was going on with me and carried on the interview and I came around within a few minutes. On Wednesday this week the same intensity of breathless panic hit me. It started with being aware of my heartbeat, it seemed to be jumping around loudly in my chest. Then my bottom lip went numb which is the signal my doctor told me to be aware of, it signifies a panic attack. The symptoms then escalated until I could feel myself about to faint, I heard the roaring in my ears and my vision started to go dark. I managed to talk myself out of it by breathing deeply and slowly and reassuring myself that I was fine, it was not a heart attack, it was anxiety. Naming it took away some of its power. I scrambled around in my bag and found my anxiety medication and slipped an ativan under my tongue, drank some water and sent an SOS whatsapp to Norman asking him to ring me and talk me down. I walked around the office talking to him until I felt a bit more steady. However I could feel it’s insidious presence at the back of my mind, like a steady knocking to remind me of its presence.

One thing I find with anxiety is that if I try to be a typical Virgo and analyse what may have triggered it, it makes me more anxious. However I am pretty sure that it is the combination of work pressures, money pressures, the fear over Panda’s health and worries over his prognosis.

Sometimes you just have to accept that it is what it is and try to just take things a minute at a time.

When I went home I had to shower and get ready to go out again as it was Norman’s birthday.

We have a lot of history together.

We had made plans to go for dinner with our friends Mel and Steve. Caitlin had offered to babysit Panda so we could have a night out and so we dropped him off there enroute to Peddlars.

Caitlin has 2 kitty cats and neither of them were very happy about the interloper.

In fact there were a few stare offs going on between little Mittens and Panda.

We had booked and were seated at a nice big round table.

Soon after we were seated our friends Mel, Steve and their daughter Chloe arrived.

We were not allowed to take any pics of Chloe (teenagers) but it was lovely to catch up with them all, they had just returned from the UK where they were looking for Universities for Chloe.

We had a lovely dinner. Everyone except me ordered starters but I knew I wanted dessert and could not manage 3 courses. Mel was very generous and gave me one of her spinach and feta croquettes which were delicious! I will order these next time we go there. They were R59 and amazing, tasty little balls of heaven.

Norm ordered the Gnocchi Gorgonzola for R68: Potato dumplings with spinach, assorted mushrooms, cream and gorgonzola. Norm enjoyed it but I tasted it and thought it was revolting but then again I do not like gnocchi or gorgonzola so there you go.

Chloe had the calamari and it was a massive portion. Steve had the beef carpaccio. Everyone seemed to enjoy their food.

For his main, Norm ordered the fillet steak which was on special and had it with sweet potato fries but I did not snap a pic of it. The rest of us ordered burgers, Steve and I both had the Bacon and Cheddar Burger for R125: Crispy bacon, mature cheddar served with chips and onion rings.

Mel chose the Camembert Chicken Burger for R120: Chicken breast with melted camembert, cranberry and herb salsa, served with chips and onion rings. She enjoyed it but said it was very salty.

For dessert both Chloe and I had the chocolate brownie at R49. It came with ice cream and was garnished with strawberries.

I had asked the waitress about the brownie because as an American I have high standards for brownies and she assured me it was divine. She was wrong. It was full of chunks of chocolate and had very little actual brownie taste. The texture was wrong. I did not enjoy this dish very much at all.

I had advised the restaurant when booking that it was Norman’s birthday and so they did a special little bit of decoration on his cheesecake.

Norm gave his dinner 5 Kitten Stars but mine gets 4.5 as the brownie disappointed me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

We stayed quite late for a school night just chatting and having a laugh and then we went to collect Panda. He was so excited to see us, I am sure he thinks we may just abandon him. Silly boy. We are in it as long as he is willing to fight.

Norm has been working on Panda’s prototype for a walking frame to assist him with rehab once his legs will function. He bought an aluminium side table and removed the top so that he just had the frame. He tested out the size using towels and clamps to hold Panda up.

During the week Norm went to a fabric shop in town to get neoprene. He had Panda in his arms and the manager stopped him to advise no dogs were allowed in the shop. When Norm explained his illness and why he needed the fabric, the lovely manager went to get samples of the fabric and brought them to Norm, let him choose, cut the size needed and helped Norm pay. So sweet.

On Saturday he made a sling from the cloth to go into the frame.

Panda was confused as to what was going on.

Panda is slowly starting to get stronger while simultaneously losing weight and muscle mass. Trying to get him to eat is a nightmare, some nights Norm has to almost force feed him the recovery food with a syringe and some nights he will almost bite your arm off for a bit of roast chicken and sometimes he turns up his nose. However he always has an appetite for biltong or dried meat treats.

He is still having tissue salts melted into his drinking water and he loves them. He licks any sediment up from the bowl when the water finishes. He is also now taking a daily dose of Colostem. It is a mix of colostrum and stem cells. Colostrum is taken to strengthen your immune system and help your body fight disease-causing agents.

Stem cells have the following benefits:

  • Synergistic formulation,
  • Colostrum supports healthy immunity.
  • Supports many aspects of healthy adult stem cell cascade (activate, specialise & regenerate) Encourages normal immunity
  • Helps to maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal environment

He also has CBD drops at night to help relax him for sleep.

Next on the agenda is to take him to Dr Barry Hindmarch for acupuncture next month when I get paid. Meanwhile Norm and I do a bit of light physio to keep his joints supple. I work on each leg individually and take them through their range of motion and then give him a massage but he is just a bag of bones, skin and copious amounts of hair.

I have seen his back leg kicking and this week when it happened I clapped and cheered and he did it again. Initially we weren’t sure if he was using his body to move his leg or whether it was deliberate fine muscle movement. Either way it is encouraging even though it is such a minor thing.

His bark gotten a bit stronger.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with Panda, on Monday when I got in from work Navajo was unable to get up from the floor. He had obviously put his back out. Against my advice Norm went behind Navajo and tried to lift his hindquarters up. Navajo screamed in pain and nipped out to try and bite Norm and barely missed his face. If you have ever had back pain you know that if someone tries to help you up it can cause you pain. We messaged David the doggy chiropractor to request an appointment the next day and fretted over him all night. We had been given some CBD Jell-O shots for Panda and I decided to give one to Navajo to help with his pain. He happily took it all and about an hour later he was as high as a kite. He refused to come upstairs and he collapsed and fell sound asleep. I worried about him all night and woke feeling like death. When we came downstairs Navajo was as good as new. He had refused food the day before but he wolfed down his breakfast and acting like he had no pain at all! Norm took him to the chiropractor and David also did a little treatment on Panda to release some tension in his neck.

I’ve not stuck to low carb this week. Norm and I are both stress eating. On Monday he made a nice chicken stir fry but we had no sauce and I made a sort of satay sauce with teriyaki, sugar free peanut butter, chili and a bit of honey. We served it on noodles.

Tuesday night we had pasta takeaways from Cassarechio which left me with leftovers for lunch the following day. Thursday we had takeaways again, I had tapas from Massimo’s: calamari and fried polenta bites.

Friday I went for lunch at Nuri sushi with my friend Sakshi. I left work early as I was having another high anxiety day and had to take my meds to cope. It meant I was really tired and as I had done my billable hours there was no need to stay.

That evening Norman decided to try this recipe from one of our favorite low carb sites. He bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded it up so it was quick and easy and they tasted delicious.

He made homemade coleslaw and frozen chips in the air fryer.

This week there was an armed robbery at the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel. It is a very high end beautiful building and has amazing service. Police spokesman FC Van Wyk said 15 armed men arrived at the hotel in two vehicles. The security guard at the access control gate was threatened with a firearm. Two of the suspects removed the guard’s baton and hand radio and stayed with him while other members of the gang proceeded to enter the hotel.

“They pointed staff members and guests with two firearms and robbed them of their personal belongings,” a statement from Van Wyk said.

“The suspects then started breaking the glass cabinet display windows in the foyer with big hammers and removed jewellery, and also took an undisclosed amount of cash from the cash register.”

The suspects fled the scene shortly after the robbery and 5 of them were later arrested.

Such high profile crimes are sure to impact tourism which is a large part of Cape Town’s economy.

The Army has now finally been deployed to the high crime areas around Cape Town to deal with the gang crime and high number of murders. It took a few weeks to get them on the streets. I hope it makes a difference.

Before the press all told us the Russians were stealing our information I downloaded the FaceApp and did the obligatory old lady shot.

I look just like my Grandmother ❤️

Saturday we just relaxed, I slept until 10 which is unusual for me. I obviously needed the rest.

It was freezing cold out so I built a fire. All five of the animals kept close by.

We had seen a few episodes of Killing Eve on a flight and we really enjoyed it and Caitlin downloaded both series for us and we watched a few episodes of that. It is gripping.

I put on a pot of chicken curry late that afternoon and it wasn’t ready for dinner that night so we are having it tonight. I’ll do spinach purée and cauliflower rice with coriander to go with, it smells divine.

Today I went to Marina da Gama for drumming. I have missed a few sessions so it was lovely to see everyone. Drumming and singing helps to ground me and gives me peace. This song is one of my favorite songs and I always get a lot of positive feelings from it. It is so beautiful.

I hope Panda makes more progress this week and I hope you all have a great week. Until next time. Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

 

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A Pyrrhic Victory

This week has been a week of lovely adventures and disappointing events. Or I guess under the circumstances some of them were non-events!

In my last blog I mentioned how excited I was about seeing Sam Smith in concert but Sam lost his voice and had to walk off stage in the middle of the first of the three nights he was booked to perform in Cape Town. We read about the cancellation of the Tuesday show on Wednesday morning but the promoters held back on making a commitment about whether the next two shows were going to be cancelled or not and in fact the news sites were still reassuring us that the Wednesday and Thursday shows were still going ahead.

Big Concerts finally made an announcement on social media at 2pm on the day of the show to say the remaining two shows were cancelled. They stated that Computicket would issue refunds to the same credit card we used to make the booking. As mentioned in my last blog, this is an issue for me because the card I used has expired and just getting the tickets printed was a major issue. As far as I was aware you cannot refund an inactive card? I emailed Computicket and their reply was to inform me they would refund the card used to book the tickets, which was the same info I had queried them about! I have tweeted Big Concerts and Computicket, raised a query via Facebook and raised a customer service query on the Computicket site. They finally told me to go to a Computicket branch and get my refund there so today Norm and I went to the offices at the Waterfront only to be told that the refund has already been issued and the bank will be able to route it to my account despite the card being expired. The bank holiday weekend appears to have slowed down the process but I will keep monitoring it as the tickets were almost 2k.

From the last minute confirmation of the cancellation to the responses to my queries, the customer service from Big Concerts has been abysmal.

On the night we were supposed to go to the show, as a consolation prize Norm suggested we go out for dinner so we decided to try a new spot and we picked the Cattle Baron in Constantia. We had not booked and they were very full but we were offered a table outside on the ‘patio’. The restaurant is in a little mall so the patio is actually inside the mall but outside the actual restaurant if that makes sense? We were seated under a gas heater so it was nice and cosy.

I chose the sautéed mushroom 200g fillet: Grilled beef fillet served on deep-fried rosti and topped with garlic sauteèd mushrooms for R195. It came with a choice of a side as well as creamed spinach and roast butternut and I also ordered onion rings (you all know about my onion ring addiction).

I am always torn about how to order my steak. I like it pink but not bloody. They had a little chart in the menu telling you what each ‘doneness’ meant in their terms and I went with ‘Medium’. It was utter perfection. The steak would melt in your mouth it was so tender. It was very garlicky and the mushrooms were very tasty. I enjoyed it so much!

Maybe not as much as I would have enjoyed Sam, but you gotta take your pleasures where you can get them.

Norm was brave this week and tried out a new low carb recipe I found online. He made cauliflower cheese topped with bacon and it tasted every bit as good as Mac and Cheese!

It was delicious and it was so cheesy that you could convince yourself that it was macaroni and cheese. I was so impressed.

He baked pork chops and roasted sweet potatoes, fried baby mushrooms and steamed broccoli to go with it another night.

I had a few lunches from OrderIn as I’m getting a bit bored with the NowNow offerings from next door to our office and OrderIn is so easy!

One day I had chicken strips and chips from Smak Deli.

The chicken was moist and tender and I enjoyed the panko crust. The chips were thin and crispy, more like crisps but they were very nice.

Another day I ordered a mexibowl from Tortilla Modern Mexican.

A mexibowl is your choice of protein, refried and black beans, corn, onion, sour cream, cheese, coriander and salsa. I had the shredded beef option as my protein and it was delicious.

One day I walked down to Nuri sushi for lunch. I had prawn pops.

I also had salmon roses.

It was as delicious as always. I love their food.

This week Woolworths released the products from their collaboration with Sir John. Sir John is Beyoncé’s make up artist. They all look lovely!

Speaking of Queen B, over the weekend I watched ‘Homecoming’, the Netflix documentary she has done about preparing for and starring in the Coachella festival.

She looks so amazing! The difference in her body from the start of rehearsals when she had not long given birth to her twins to the time of the actual show is unbelievable. She worked so hard to train and get her body back into shape. In my opinion she looks even better than she did before she had her children, she is so lean and toned.

I love that she brought on Destiny’s Child for a few songs.

There has been some chaos and negative events both locally and internationally.

Close to home this week we had a mugging near the graveyard where you turn up towards our house. This resulted in a chase by police and one of the perpetrators getting shot. Let us hope that deters the group who have been terrorizing Hughenden homeowners.

A church in Kwazulu Natal had thirteen people, mostly teenagers, killed on Thursday night. A wall at a Pentecostal church fell on top of congregants who gathered at the church for Easter celebrations. There had been heavy rain and there are rumors that lack of adherence to building regulations was the cause, however investigations are still underway.

After a bit of relief from train drama, it started up again this weekend when two Cape Town trains were set alight in the Cape Town city station.

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services received a call about a train alight at Cape Town Railway station at approximately 3.51pm yesterday and 8 coaches were badly damaged before it could be contained.

This weekend was the legendary Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon which normally routes through our village. It is an event of note with residents lining the streets and cheering on the runners. However this year there was a threat of protest action and the risk of violence was too great and the race was rerouted to avoid Hout Bay.

Many businesses in Hout Bay will suffer greatly as most of us park off and drink and eat and enjoy the vibe of the event. The restaurants will have lost this income. My friend Bronwyn called it a “Pyrrhic Victory” for the protestors and once I looked it up I totally agreed! (She’s a clever cookie) I do not know what benefit the cancellation will be for the protestors. Do they feel heard? Will it bring change? Will the City politicians listen? I just see another blow to our already struggling local venues and the potential for more layoffs of the very people the protesters are allegedly providing a voice for. I do understand the frustration of the protesters as their living conditions are abysmal, however I cannot see how moving the marathon benefits their cause.

There have also been multiple catastrophes globally.

The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral caught fire this week and has burned. Luckily many of the artifacts were spared. Caitlin and I visited the Cathedral when I took her to Paris for her 18th birthday. I am so glad I was privileged to see it before the fire. Such a sad event and loss of history.

Jerusalem’s revered Al-Asqa Mosque was struck by a fire that broke out at the same time that Notre Dame was ablaze. Luckily the fire was contained quickly with no reported injuries or interior damage to the 2000-year-old building.

There have been multiple bombs detonated in Sri Lanka churches and hotels. At the time of writing the death toll is almost 300 innocent victims. Police found 87 detonators in a private terminal of the main bus station in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and a controlled explosion was carried out on a van near St. Anthony’s church, one of three churches targeted in the attack. On Sunday evening, an improvised explosive device (IED) was defused near the capital’s Bandaranaike International Airport. There had been intelligence warnings received days before the explosions but they were not acted upon.

And for a bit of light relief from the drama, we have been told that the SA police force have a new instrument for testing drunk drivers.

That is our Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande. While amusing it is also pretty scary stuff. Was he tongue tied or is he really that ignorant? Hard to know really! It is even scarier that he was formerly the Minister of Education. You can see why SA’s education system is ranked as one of the worst in the world! I worry about the future of this country in so many ways.

I had another one of my sleep paralysis incidents this week. Norm was woken by my keening, a horrid noise even to my own ears. I have read so many different points of view on what is happening when this occurs. Some say it is astral travel. I believe this is correct as I am always interacting with people from my past but in a different relationship than in this life. There is always a sense of loss when I wake and I often wake in tears.

Both of the shows I am watching at the moment are both about life in multiple dimensions (Outlander and The OA). Many of us believe in reincarnation but is it a ‘new life’ or is it a parallel life? Whatever it is, it fascinates me.

There are so many things that our one dimensional minds cannot conceive.

Norm and I have had lots of relaxation over the bank holiday. We had no plans and just played it by ear. We had long lies in bed most days and had outings when we got cabin fever.

Thursday was the new Friday so that night I had my usual sushi fest from K1. Prawn tempura, crab salad, prawn nigiri and salmon roses.

On Friday we went on an excursion to Game to get some steam cleaner stuff (she says vaguely) and enroute we stopped in Constantia at the newish Botanicum Cafe and Grill for lunch. We had not been to this venue since it changed over from the Bootleggers brand. The renovation looks lovely.

Norm ordered a chicken and avocado wrap.

I ordered the open faced chicken and mayo on ciabatta bread.

We both ordered chips which came in a cute little flower pot.

They were proper hand cut chips. I give our lunch 4 Kitten Stars.

We just had a takeaway from Massimo’s that night for dinner and watched some Netflix.

On Saturday we had a lazy day. I played games on my iPad and was amused by the silly pooches.

That night we decided to have a date night and we took a chance on getting a table at Cheyne’s and we were in luck! We nabbed the last available table.

I ordered a Passionate Buddha cocktail.

We chose the Yum Cha dining experience at R280 for 4 dishes. I chose the Baby Shrimp Tempura with garlic truffle mayo and red pepper flakes as my first dish.

Norm chose the Crispy Hake Tempura with pickled shallots, miso mayo and unagi sauce. He raved about this dish!

We both ordered the potato and coconut dumplings with penang sauce and toasted nuts.

For my third choice I had the Mumbai chili beef with cardamon and ginger syrup and toasted coconut.

Norm had the chicken yakitori with togarashi chips and pickled pineapple.

For dessert I had the vanilla creme brûlée with toasted banana bread and miso ice cream.

Norm had the Fuji apple crumble with apple caramel and peach ice cream.

The service was great and the food divine. I give our evening a full 5 Kitten Stars.

On Sunday we decided to venture out of the bay and we decided to drive across Chapman’s Peak drive.

It is a beautiful scenic drive.

We decided to stop at Jakes. We arrived at about 3 so the lunch crowd were finishing off and we managed to get a table.

There was live music on and the singer was brilliant, I really enjoyed his setlist.

We both ordered burgers, Norm chose the Whatta Burger with sweet potato fries. His burger had cheese, bacon, gherkins, port & mushroom sauce, crumbed feta & crispy onions.

I ordered the Classic American burger. It came with mature cheddar, chipotle mayo, gherkin & onion rings.

The service was a bit dodgy, the drinks took a lifetime to arrive, then they brought Norm’s burger a good ten minutes before they brought mine. I give the service 3 stars at most but the burgers were a solid 5 Kitten Stars they were divine. They were awkward to eat and we were not given side plates to juggle the toppings but we managed. We really enjoyed the food.

I had a Kahlua Dom Pedro and it is only now that I check the menu I see that they charged me for a separate shot of Kahlua yet the menu includes the shot in the price of the Dom Pedro! How dodgy!

Oh well, it was nice even if I was overcharged for it.

We came home via the longer route through Noordhoek and around the mountain, it is also a stunning view out over the entire city.

When we got home we sat out on our balcony for a bit enjoying our own amazing view. This is my happy place.

Today our adventure was based around trying to get my refund from Computicket. We did that as soon as we arrived at the Waterfront as we were not sure how long Computicket would stay open on a holiday. Afterwards we were walking down the steps from the upper level to the lower level and there was a lone woman standing on the stairs faffing about with her tightly tied hoody. As she was stopped on the stairs I went around her and as soon as I got in front of her she started to move up close to me and reach toward my handbag. She obviously had not seen my bodyguard Norm who smoothly slid in between us, triggering a string of profanity and abuse from her, she started yelling “I am not a pick pocket” and ran off in the opposite direction. The waterfront is so busy and is full of tourists so is the perfect setting for opportunistic crime.

We were still a bit shocked but we carried on our way and went to Sevruga for lunch. We were given a table in the glass surrounded veranda so we could see the sea and people watch, but yet we were protected from the howling wind.

We love people watching.

Norm ordered the kingklip that was on special. It came with an orange beurre blanc sauce and was served on a bed of wilted baby spinach and was surrounded by cubes of fondant potato, wedges of grapefruit and orange and grilled artichokes.

Norm gave this dish 5 Kitten Stars and I must say it was a feast for the eyes as well.

I had sushi. I ordered the Prawn salad, chopped prawn, cucumber and spicy mayo. It had some slivers of avocado on top.

I also had 2 pieces of prawn nigiri.

I also had an order of Creamy Salmon Roses which is salmon roses with a lovely creamy sauce and topped with a large tempura prawn.

My food was also amazing. That was the best prawn salad I have ever had. The added bit of chili made all the difference and elevated it from bland to fabulous. The creamy salmon roses were hands down the best sushi I have ever eaten. I was literally moaning with pleasure.

We had such a lovely meal and then we went for a walk around the waterfront. There is a gorgeous view of Table Mountain from the waterfront.

We watched the Cape Wheel for a bit.

And we listened to a band playing who were really talented.

We had a wander around the shops and then headed home. I am back at work tomorrow so we are just relaxing this evening. I have really enjoyed my long weekend and all of our adventures. I hope you have had a lovely break as well.

Until next time, Kisses from The Kitten xoxoxo

Shutting Down

We have had a bit of on and off rain this week with more water to fill our dams. However after our weekend last week of sunny gorgeous weather it was a bit disorientating to have some days of cold weather interspersed with the warm sunny days. Do I wear boots? Do I wear flip flops? Those are predominately the only foot wear I wear and the weather in South Africa can change from one extreme to the other as it has done all week. We have not had a fire in the evenings all week so that tells you the temperature has been manageable by just wearing a warm sweater and wrapping up in furry blankets. Then again today was 27 degrees Celsius and it was a glorious day (that is about 78 in F for my American readers who can’t be arsed to google and covert).

We had one morning this week where it was pouring with rain and on my way in to work I spotted a huge bird of prey sitting on a road sign. The bird was as tall as the road sign and really fat with fluffy brown and white feathers. I wish I could have snapped a pic as he looked so majestic but trying to shoot a one handed photo while hurtling along a curvy road in the dark while it is pouring with rain is maybe not the safest so I chose to rather not risk it. I love it when we spot random animals just going about our daily lives, there are a few little bucks which have been spotted in our suburb lately as well, I would have thought it could be due to the drought except our streams are full again.

On Tuesday night Norm cooked dinner for us. He chopped up chicken breasts and mushrooms and fried them, then added baby broccoli and made a sauce out of cream, chicken stock, fromage frais, and a wee squizz of tomato paste.

It was low carb and very tasty and it was nice to try something different as it is easy to get into a menu rut, especially when trying to eat low carb. One can only create so many different types of salad or make cauliflower into so many different potato or rice substitutes.

Tuesday afternoon after work I had to stop for petrol. The South African petrol price had a monstrous hike of a Rand a liter on Wednesday. This puts our petrol up to almost R17 a liter. If my math and metric conversion skills are correct, this translates to $4.50 (USD) per gallon. As everyone was trying to fill up before the midnight price change I had to visit 2 different petrol stations to fill my tank up completely as the first station ran out of petrol in the middle of filling my car. The hike is being blamed on the poor rand value, however the poor rand value can be blamed on the cluster feck of our government and the fact that most of the government’s funds have been embezzled in the State Capture fiasco. So the root cause is the government’s lack of proper governing without the ability to avoid sticking their hands in the taxpayers pockets. I was curious about how our petrol prices rank against the rest of the world and I found this info which tells me we are not the most expensive globally. However this link is NOT considering the average salary in that country so there is very little perspective on the impact of the price to drivers. If the cost of petrol is high as are salaries then the effect is negligible, however South African salaries are not very high and this will really impact all of us. No road trips in my future for a while and this will probably mean my kids cannot pop down for the weekend as often.

Later on Tuesday night I had a dig through our family dress up box. We are having our annual Halloween party on the 27th of October. I am still not even 100% sure of what I am going as but I found a dress which I wore before I met Norman. I was unable to fit into it for decades, but as it is such a lovely funky dress I kept it, if only for Halloween options.

I was so pleased to see that it fit me again! I will possibly use this as the basis of my outfit and just tweak it. It is velvet and I love velvet. I am on the hunt for a crinoline and then I will be able to create the exact look I am after.

Meanwhile, we have had plenty of turmoil in South Africa with multiple different protests occurring across the country. (Much like the US where many women are protesting the potential Supreme Court appointment of the petulant man child Brett Kavanaugh.)

I received a demonstration alert from the US Embassy notifying us that there was a protest planned in the city on the 2nd October under the Western Cape Total Shutdown banner. However I later saw an article saying that this was fake news so I am not sure whether the Cape Town demo went ahead on the 2nd or not?!

The Western Cape Total Shutdown concept was implemented to protest gangster-ism, violence, unemployment and crime in the suburbs around Cape Town. But I am struggling to find any details other than this link.

A march had taken place on the 29th of August where scores of Kensington residents shut down a large part of Voortrekker Road as they peacefully demonstrated with placards and posters. A similar demonstration occurred in Bonteheuwel a few weeks later on the 25th of September when there was another protest held about the crime in the Cape Town suburbs. Residents in areas including Kensington, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Kraaifontein and Hanover Park took to the streets to highlight an increase in gang violence in their communities. A total of 13 protesters were arrested in Bonteheuwel and the police shot rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds.

On Thursday in the Bonteheuwel area a man was murdered by a known gangster. This issue with gangs is part of the basis for much of the protests. the gangs rule these areas. The victim was not associated to a gang so the reason for his murder is so far unknown or at least not yet publicised.

Today the Total Shutdown protests continued, this time in the north of SA near Johannesburg. The coloured communities are protesting over the killing of a woman during alleged gang violence.

They also highlighted their dissatisfaction with what they believe is the lack of prioritisation of people who identify as coloured. The term of ‘coloured’ is not a racial slur, this is a term used in SA to designate a particular distinct group of people. The term may have originated during the apartheid era, however now it is part of every day terminology here and is used by the coloured community themselves.

Another protest which occurred this week is regarding the ongoing issues with the Train Services in the Western Cape which I have blogged about previously. The rail service has been targeted for attack with many fires being set and many instances of robbery due to lack of proper security on the trains. This protest was under the banner of #UniteBehind. We have had at least one death from the arson attacks and at least one death from the robberies. In July alone 32 coaches were damaged as a result of arson. The damage caused to trains and infrastructure came to a total of more than R50m.

#UniteBehind launched #DelayRepay, a campaign to demand better rail service and compensation in cases of continued delays on Thursday. The coalition of civil society movements held a rally at the Cape Town Train Station.

The #DelayRepay campaign is a response to the “disastrous” deterioration of the Metrorail service. The rail service, the organisation said, “robs commuters and the public of money and human dignity”. People have lost their jobs due to this issue when they were late on a recurring basis. Some people spend up to 5 hours commuting every day due to delays and cancellations.

On Thursday there was a collision between 2 trains in the northern part of SA and 320 people were injured.

The first train was stationary due to technical problems when it was rear-ended by the second train. Metrorail’s spokesperson said they were investigating how the second train driver was allowed into a section where the existence of a stationary train had been reported to the depot. They were using the controversial manual authorisation system at the time. Metrorail has said previously it is forced to use this method because of severe cable theft and infrastructure damage that has crippled electronic communication to the signalling network.

Yet another issue due to lack of policing and non-adherence to safety processes in our rail system.

I am so grateful to have a car and to be independent of this drama (and to have a valid license albeit a temporary one.)

Another huge challenge in SA is unemployment where the unemployed rate is over 26% and is as high as 30% for the unemployed youth. This equates to over 6 million people without employment according to stats from the last quarter. The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 36.7% in the first quarter from 36.3% in the previous quarter. The cycle of poverty can lead to an increase in drug abuse and crime. I am so blessed that my children are all employed.

Thursday night Norm and I cooked dinner together. We did a Mexican themed dinner of spicy mince and beans.

We just served the mince like a salad, on a bed of lettuce and topped with cheese, salsa, fromage frais and home made guacamole. It was really yummy and the best thing is it is so fast to prepare when there are two of you to chop and prep.

This weekend I have to take Pixie to the chiro for her 5 week adjustment. Navajo had a visit this week, Norm took him on Thursday. He is such a curious alert dog.

He is getting better about going to the chiro, he was a raging nightmare the first visit but he has gotten used to it now and still remains alert, but is more relaxed.

As for the rest of the weekend, it is open to possibilities. I hope you enjoy yours.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox

Take Me To Church

This has been a very expensive last week of the month as we had to replace our WiFi router, our fridge water filter and a few other random items. We also ran out of electricity so had to top that up. All relatively small things which added up. As a result we have been on a very tight budget for the last few weeks.

I have to ask does everyone who has a fridge with a built in water dispenser in the door know that you have to change the filters? If not, prepare yourself as they are bloody expensive! But in the long run it is cheaper than buying bottled water and it is better for the environment to not be disposing of all of those bottles, so I guess that it is the best of the possible evils of water consumption.

To try and keep our expenditures down, Norm did a small shop last week and he cooked for us several nights.

He grilled fillet steak and halloumi cheese and served it with stir fried vegetables and mushrooms fried in butter on Monday.

I made a big pot of chilli con carne when I got home on Tuesday and we left it overnight to let the flavors develop. For that night’s dinner Norm made chicken sausage, mashed sweet potato and gravy with steamed veggies. It was really cold outside and it was a yummy homely meal which we ate in front of the fire.

On Tuesday night we had my chilli over nacho chips. We topped it with grated cheddar cheese and a big dollop of fromage frais.

The next night I boiled some rice and we had the last of the chilli with rice, cheese and fromage frais.

I love chilli con carne so I was happy!

On Friday we dusted off the credit card for burgers from The Kitchen Takeaway. I have my limits, I prefer to not cook on a Friday if I have been working that week.

On Saturday Norm was at a conference and Josh was out all day at the track. I had an early appointment to take Pixie to the doggy Chiro in Noordhoek.

It was raining on and off on the journey across the mountain and it was really dreary out. The wind was howling.

I came back home starving & freezing cold.

We had bare cupboards but we had some bread in the freezer so I took out two pieces to thaw while I made a big fire to warm up the house. Once the fire was on the go I went to sort something to eat.

I had a couple of eggs in the fridge so I beat them til smooth and dipped the thawed slices of bread into the eggs and then fried the eggy bread in butter.

I topped the French toast with a bit of honey and cinnamon and it was delicious.

I snuggled up in front of the fire and played games on my iPad while waiting for the house to warm up.

Eventually all 5 animals were clustered round me. Panda was not impressed that Pixie was in my lap as he thinks that is his exclusive territory.

Norm got home about 4.30 in the afternoon and he quickly took the dogs out for a walk as the intermittent downpours had stopped for a bit.

I put together a few bits from the fridge and freezer for mine and Norm’s dinner while he was out with the dogs. I chopped a large carrot, a baby red cabbage, a Birdseye chili, an onion and some spices and fried them in coconut oil. Once the veg was cooked I chucked in some left over rice and made a stir fried rice type of concoction. I baked some breaded prawns which I had in the freezer from Woolies. I made a sweet & sour sauce and drizzled it over the prawns. We had a bit of left over salad from our take away on Friday which we added to our bounty. Put all together it was very tasty even if it did not look so amazing.

I love the challenge of creating a meal when ‘we have no food’.

Sunday morning I had to be at drumming at 10am so I was up and out and off to Constantia. There was a massive roadblock going out of our village with many police stopping and searching cars and checking for paperwork. Luckily I did not get stopped as I was really late. I assumed they were stopping the taxis to check their documentation and road worthiness (road worthiness is not a concept they have in South Africa, you see cars on the road which appear to be held together with bubble gum and glue and about every 5th car does not have both headlights functioning, some have none.)

At drumming we had a great turn out in attendance and we sang our entire repertoire from our song list and my voice was a bit croaky afterwards. We are drumming for a dance in a few weeks and needed the practice. It was lovely seeing everyone. I always feel so in touch with the universe after singing our prayer songs, I feel it is my church, my place of worship.

After I came home I collected Norm and we went off to Hout Bay village for something to eat and to do a shop. We popped into the German restaurant Zur Holzbucht. The England game was on but it was quiet, but they had all of the doors open and it was freezing!

To cope with the cold we both ordered the Pork Goulash which was on special.

The waiter brought a huge bowl of steaming goulash to me and said, “Enjoy”.

Norm and I looked at each other a bit confused and said “But we both ordered this dish” and the waiter said that was the last portion.

How odd! Why did he not say that when we ordered? Now we each had to eat on our own and we had to wait for them to cook Norm’s food.

Norm chose the frikkadels with spatzle and slaw. A frikkadel is a meatball for those who do not know. Spatzle is a sort of home made noodle. He said his lunch was very nice. I could only eat half of mine and he had the rest the next day for his lunch. Waste not, starve not. He enjoyed it too, it was really rich and delicious.

As it was so cold there we finished our lunch and headed off to the shops. We bought enough food for 3 meals, each of which would also provide me and Norm with lunch the day after.

On Sunday evening we had a ready made roast chicken that we bought that afternoon and Norm made cole slaw to go with it. As we had a big lunch we just needed a few nibbles that evening and that did us just fine. I made a chicken and cole slaw sandwich for my lunch on Monday too.

When I got to work on Monday I received a message from Norm asking if I was safe and telling me that Hout Bay Police held an operation early that morning to arrest a wanted man in Imizamo Yethu (the township next to our house). The 28 year old suspect resisted arrest and tried to stab the police officers and the police fired 2 warning shots. The suspect has been charged for 4 robbery cases, possession of ammunition & a dangerous weapon as well as resisting arrest.

Apparently I drove right through the midst of this shootout as it occurred near the graveyard by my house the same time that I was on the way to work. I was oblivious! However when I drove in on Tuesday there were loads of vans and police cars near the township entrance so I wondered if there was another raid or police operation in place. Then I read on social media that from Sunday, 24 May to Tuesday, 26 of May from 05:00 daily taxi operations were conducted in the Hout Bay area. Members of the Wynberg Cluster, Hout Bay SAPS, Law Enforcement and Metro Police held several vehicle check points where more than 100 vehicles were checked. A total of 459 Traffic fines to the value of more than R100 000 were issued.

However when we read reports about the city scrapping R854million in traffic fines you wonder why they bother.

On Monday evening when I got home Norm was heading out to assist with directing traffic as a large truck had broken down on the side of the Main road into the village. He was away for hours and so I built a big fire and started dinner. I put some chicken breasts in a pan, chopped up a pepper and some mushrooms and made some chicken stock. I mixed the chicken stock with some coconut milk and covered the chicken and vegetables and baked it. To go with it I steamed some gem squash and stir fried some baby spinach and roasted some butternut in coconut oil. I added a bit of the sauce from the chicken into the gem squash.

It was all rather delicious if I say so myself. It also gave me and Norm enough leftovers for our lunches on Tuesday.

We had also bought some minced beef as that is great for stretching for a few meals. The plan was that Norm would cook the mince during the day and then we just had to sort the veggies but the electricity was off in our neighbourhood for the entire day so he went to a cafe to work and our best laid plans were derailed.

Instead when I got home I started dinner and then when Norm got home he took over. We fried a whole chopped onion, a carrot and a red pepper with the rest of the mushrooms left over from the previous night. Once they were browned we removed from the pan and fried the mince. Then we added in some spices, a tin of beans, tomato paste and a container of beef stock. We just let it condense down while I roasted some chopped butternut and sweet potato in coconut oil. To give a bit of green we sauteed the remainder of the baby spinach from the previous night.

It was very tasty and nutritious.

Later that night it started raining a bit and this morning I woke to torrential rainfall. When I left home the roads from my house to the coast road were all flooded with deep rivers of flowing water. As it is pitch black at 6:30am and we have no street lights over most of our village it was so hazardous. Visibility was very poor as it was raining down in sheets. I was so worried my car would flood. There was little traffic at that time as the school kids are off on holiday this week so luckily I could drive on the other side of the road to avoid most of the flooding without risking a head on collision.

But do not get me wrong, we are thrilled with the rain! We desperately need it, however all of the construction in our area has destroyed the natural paths of rainfall off of the mountain and the scarcity of rain has meant that the ground is very dry and the rain just scoots overland and pools into the roads, taking dirt and debris with it. Tomorrow the roads will be full of sand, dirt and rocks.

Today Patricia De Lille, our Mayor of Cape Town is in court. Her party are desperate to get her out of office. There have been ongoing claims of misuse of funds, collusion with criminals and negligence of her duties. The way that the drought has been handled has been incredibly ham-fisted and blundering. We hear that she is involved with the darker elements of our village and that payments have been made to the elders & illegal slumlords to allow her to subvert the planning regulations. She cares not for the law, she is a mini dictator. I do hope that they manage to remove her or the DA has no chance to maintain their hold in the Western Cape in the next elections. Patricia is like an abusive husband, unwilling to let his victim escape from his grasp, preferring to see his victim decimated than to survive without being under his domination and control.

And we all know how I feel about abusive relationships, especially when my beloved Mother City is the one being victimised.

I will update you on the outcome on my next blog. Until then, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0

The Heart Knows

I’ve been promising to start blogging again, a public blog, less introspective and more frivolous. So I may as well start today.

The thing most prevalent in my life this week is safety. As most of you know we were robbed by 2 armed drug fuelled African men in January. Until then we had been rather complacent with safety, not very vigilant and possibly even foolish. Despite hearing regular horror stories, we felt safe as we live opposite a security estate, have cameras up and down our road and had our own beams and security in place. But all it takes is one slip – not putting the beams on, not putting the alarm on because you are in and out of the house…just once is all it takes and if the opportunity arises then you can be a victim.

As a result of this incident we beefed up our existing security, added new beams, new sensors, metal slam lock doors and a new system to support the additional items. We met with a security consultant and devised a plan in case it happened again – allocated the paths we take in an invasion, plan what needs to be there in that room etc.

Luckily when the latest incident happened my daughters acted perfectly. Lily shouted at them but did not go near them, Caitlin hit the panic button and ushered everyone into my bedroom and then slammed shut the metal safety door.

The family were nowhere as distressed as we were by the 1st incident, partly because there was no face to face contact and partly because they were not actually in the house – just the property.

The next morning I posted in Hout Bay Organised Facebook group and I received an email from a guy who said he could be at my house at 9.30 am and could sort my door for me. He posted a link to his company page so I could see that he is a professional contractor. He showed up on time and fixed the issues.

I had a call yesterday from the neighbour across the road who told me that she caught the guys on her camera and that they had been in her property the week before, they had lifted her gate off the rollers and entered her property.

So we have some footage of them and hopefully the screwdriver they left at the property after mine will result in them getting an arrest. But even if they do, chances of it resulting in a conviction in this country is slim to none.

It is frustrating but that is just the way it is. I can get annoyed or angry but it does no good. I refuse to just accept it but what are the alternatives?

I phoned the captain of the police station today to tell him about the camera footage and to complain that no one had come to take fingerprints, and that an officer phoned wanting to do so today but this is several days later when the work has been done to repair the door so obviously the door has been wiped clean of fingerprints.

His response is that his systems have been down for days, they have not even had email for a week.

WTF.

This is life in Africa. It moves at its own pace.

The only remaining issue I am left to deal with is the pressure from friends and family telling me enough now, time to move to a more civilised less violent place.

That is not happening. Norm and I gave up so much to return to SA. We lost so much financially and we have given up good careers to come here and earn pennies.

But we made this choice. We want to be near my children. I want to be near my future grandchildren. I want the lifestyle we are able to have in Cape Town. In Europe we made a lot of money and we had a lovely home. But it was NOT my home. I never felt like the UK was a place where I could live forever, it always felt like a stop gap to me.

After over 20 years outside of the USA I can’t imagine going back there to live. The only thing I miss is my family, big spacious houses, air conditioning and 24 hour shopping and that is not a reason to go back.

If we had to leave due to a change in the political climate I do not know where I would want to go. I do not see the point of even contemplating that until forced to do so.

People who have never been to Africa do not understand. It is a country which gets into your blood, your heart, your soul. I love the climate, the people, the rich diversity of cultures.

For now, here I am right where I am meant to be…..