Baby Daddy

The World Cup has kicked off and our office has been bitten by the fever. We were designated teams and so the office has allowed each team to decorate their section with the team colours.

My section got England.

My British colleague brought in a flag for us.

Last week flew by as work is quite busy. I was keen on a weekend of relaxation.

Lucky for me Norm cooked most of the week and kept us on track with low carb eating.

He made a gorgeous bolognaise and served it over low carb spinach noodles the first night. He made roast veggies to go with it.

The next night he made the rest of the sauce into a low carb lasagna. He used zucchini instead of pasta sheets. It was delicious.

On Friday night Norm and I were watching telly and chilling out in front of the fire. Lola was cuddling with me.

Then we heard over the neighbourhood watch radio that there was a fire at Clay Cafe which is just up the road from our house. We dashed upstairs to look from the balcony and we could see huge flames leaping above the trees several miles away. We heard continuous explosions but were not sure what was exploding.

Next day we saw on social media a post about the damage that had been done by the fires and explosions.

This is the venue where we went for my last birthday to paint plates. You can see everyone’s pottery shattered in bits strewn across the lawns. I love this venue and I do hope that they get back in full operation soon. I am just glad that no one was injured in the fire.

On Saturday we did not have to be up and out so Norm and I had a slow morning drinking coffee in bed then eventually made our way downstairs to make brunch. I made some ‘flapjacks’ from Banting on the Go. I had thought from the pic that a flapjack in South Africa was just a pancake in American-speak.

FYI: It is not. It is more like a crumpet so I had to add tons of milk but they were still quite stodgy.

Norm made scrambled cheesy eggs and bacon to go with it all. I used a tiny bit of honey to sweeten my ‘flapjack_wannabe_pancakes’. In the end it was all really tasty and set us up for the rest of the day.

Not that we did much of anything. It was really cold and rainy on and off all week. We are so grateful for the rain. Hopefully this pushes day zero even further away, except now we read that it was all somewhat of a farce!

I was chatting to my Mom on the weekend and when I told her we had received a lot of rain she said ‘does that mean you can wash your hair more than once a week?’ She knows all about Day Zero and what it could mean for us residents to have our taps turned off. I thought that really sums up the way my mother thinks. Quite frankly, I don’t give AF how my hair looks!

Anyway.

Later on Saturday evening Norm and I decided to get a take away from Indian Oven.

We ordered our usual order, I had the prawn curry, we shared saag aloo and some spinach bhajis. We usually love their food but the last two visits the prawns have not been nice. They taste like they just thawed out some frozen prawns from Woolies and chucked them into the sauce. Their prawns used to be de-shelled and tasted like they were quickly fried and then added. There is a difference in both texture and shape. They are now not very nice at all. I could not finish them.

I won’t order that dish again, I will have to find an alternative as this is the only decent Indian food venue in Hout Bay. The rest of the food was nice, the spinach bahjis were a bit doughy but edible. The saag aloo is always yum.

My daughters Lily and Caitlin were both down in Cape Town for their friend Jess’s hen weekend and on Sunday we were surprised when my daughter in law Amber and Caitlin both popped in to take Norm out for Father’s Day brunch. We did not know that Amber was in town so it was a lovely surprise to see her. Her newly cut and coloured hair is so cute! It makes her eyes look so blue.

Caitlin had booked us into a local Hout Bay favourite, La Cuccina.

Norm and I like it here and often pop in for breakfast or lunch. It is a lovely open and airy venue.

I ordered the Sweetcorn Fritters Breakfast for R75:
Sweetcorn fritters with two poached eggs, oven roasted plum tomatoes and crispy streaky bacon, topped with homemade tomato chilli jam.

It was delicious but the fritters were a wee bit soft for my liking. The bacon was crispy and the eggs soft however and it was all very tasty. The chilli jam adds a nice tinge of sweet spicyness.

Norm ordered the Full Breakfast at R85. It consisted of two eggs, crispy streaky bacon, beef sausage, mushroom, roasted plum tomato and two slices of toast.

It was so lovely to see the girls. Caitlin has been so busy lately we have not seen her very often and Amber has been working away at sea a lot and we had not seen her in 6 months. Amber had not seen Caitlin’s new flat or met her kittens so she was going to stay over another night in Cape Town with Caitlin.

After we finished I could not resist a cheeky piece of Lemon Meringue Cake. It is a lemon cheesecake topped with meringue. It was delicious but I could only manage half and I took the rest home for afternoon tea.

The girls were struggling a bit from their weekend of drinking and partying and they headed off to Caitlin’s place after brunch.

I love that my kids make an effort to celebrate Norman on Father’s Day. He has been such a wonderful supportive step-dad to them and I am so happy that they recognise that. I am so blessed to have this kind, wonderful man in my life. It doesn’t hurt that he is sexy and has that Scottish accent.

For the rest of the day Norm and I had a lazy afternoon. Norm was surrounded by his pack of Pomeranians.

❤️

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We built a roaring fire and settled in for some Netflix binging.

Snuggly Sundays ❤️🔥❤️

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When we were at La Cuccina we decided to pick up a couple of their ready meals to just chuck in the oven for that evening’s dinner. We chose the Vegan sweet potato cottage pie and the Vegetarian aubergine, spinach and butternut bake. We topped both with cheese and baked for half an hour. They were both really tasty and we will definitely try these again.

That night in the middle of the night Norm and I were woken by a bang. When I say ‘woken’, I am only partially correct as I do not remember anything. Norm says I sat up and we had a long conversation but I don’t remember it. We have a set of 3 paintings which hang above our bed and one of these fell off in the night and crashed onto the bed with a bang.

The next morning when Norm mentioned it happening I immediately thought of my father since it happened on Father’s Day and my Dad has sent me messages like this before on other days of significance such as his birthday.

I know that I am being watched over by both my father and my maternal grandmother. It makes me feel protected and very grateful.

Our spirits never die, they simply transform from one form to another.

We repeat various patterns until we resolve our character defects, but even that condition is temporary. Some of us take longer than others to resolve those issues. We often rub up against the same souls ad infinitum until we finally resolve that particular soul contract we have been dancing around for many incarnations.

I spoke to yet another friend this week who is a survivor of domestic abuse. This type of relationship is inconceivable to anyone who hasn’t been involved in one. Abusers, like many serial killers, have an incredibly high level of charisma. They are able to turn on the friendly, charming part of their personality and make a woman feel like she is incredibly special and well loved. They often pick lonely women who have been on their own for a while and are almost desperately lonely. They choose their victims. After building the woman up for several months they slowly start to tear them down, bit by bit, chipping away at her confidence and often her sanity. He will exhibit violence or intense anger, then try and make the woman think it is her that is either the cause, or that she is overreacting or ‘hysterical’. The violence escalates, the woman often living in such terror and insecurity that she feels she deserves no better or that she is the reason for the anger.

Even mental abusers follow the same patterns, first making the woman feel he cannot survive without her, that she is amazing and he adores her. Then the little misogynistic jibes start, talking down the gender and then targeting her specifically. Denigrating her intelligence or capabilities and making her feel less than in order to make him feel superior. I almost think emotional abuse is harder to recognize. When they thump you the bruises are visible, when they use words to destroy you it can be harder to identify and women are culturally indoctrinated to believe what men say, they are superior aren’t they? It takes a switched on woman to recognize these behaviors. It takes a strong one to realize it is better to be alone than with half a man.

It is a long psychological game that positions the woman to be willing to allow her boundaries to be pushed or even violated.

It is something that will make or break you. It almost broke me, but I realized that only I had the power to make better choices. That I deserve to be happy and respected.

That I am a Fucking Goddess TYVM.

If I don’t believe it, then no one else will, right?

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

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More That Binds Than Tears Apart

I recently heard on the radio that there is indeed such a thing as Man Flu. Apparently there is research which proves that men are more incapacitated by illness than women. That is the good news for you dudes lolling about clutching your tissues and Vitamin C and suffering with a case of severe helplessness. The bad news is that the reason you are so helpless is that men are the weaker sex. Women may tend to be weaker physically due to their size and musculature, but we are superior in every other way.

Hey, don’t blame me, it has been validated by science.

Dr. Kyle Sue, a medical professor at a Canadian university performed the analysis. Several studies he cited suggest that female mice have stronger immune systems than their male counterparts, and that gender hormones have a direct effect on the immune system.

A 2013 study from Stanford University found that women’s antibodies tend to respond more rapidly to an injection of the flu virus than men’s antibodies. The study also found that men with higher testosterone levels tended to have the weakest antibody response. As a result, the study suggests that testosterone suppresses the immune system, while estrogen boosts it.

This explains why the flu has decimated me and had such a strong effect. Menopause results in a decrease in estrogen and an increase in testosterone. I often joke that I have more testosterone than most blokes, based on my hirsutism and aggressive, snarky personality. Apparently this may be true.

I started feeling dodgy weekend before last and by the following Wednesday it was coming on thick and fast. I still made it to work that Thursday and Friday but on Friday I was not fit for thinking much less working and after our morning meeting I came home and went straight to bed. I spent Saturday in bed popping every medication possible in the hopes that I was well enough to attend my friend Melanie’s 50th birthday party which was last Saturday night, however it was not to be. I was feeling like death that night and knew I was in no state to be partying much less did I want to go and spread my germs and create some sort of epidemic. On Sunday I was due to go drumming but I was not fit for that either. I took both Monday and Tuesday off of work and barely left my bed for 4 days. Wednesday I worked from home but I did not make it for a full day, I crashed in the afternoon.

I had plenty of company, Lola never left my side and Panda popped in and out depending on how cold he was and where his beloved Daddy was at the time.

Norm brought me breakfast and lunch in bed.

I got up to go downstairs for dinner if only to give my back a bit of a rest. Norm has been cooking healthy banting meals most of the time. This was various squash, sweet potato and roast pork.

He made a delicious beef and bean curry with cauliflower rice and poppadoms.

He built a roaring fire each night, wrapped me up in furry blankets and settled me in with a tray.

Tonight he made fillet steak, perfectly pink inside yet crusty outside, exactly the way I like it. The man now has a meat thermometer FFS. He is Jamie Oliver in a kilt. He boiled sweet potatoes, fried red cabbage in balsamic and butter and steamed some mixed broccoli, green beans and zucchini. It was simple yet delicious.

He has been so good to me. I could not have coped without him as the congestion was making my vertigo worse so my head was spinning like a top. I walked like a crab for a few days, skittering sideways, holding onto the wall and bumping into things due to my dizziness. It was like drinking a bottle of wine without the happy part.

Thursday I went back into the office and then also worked Friday and today. After work today I finally gave up and went to my GP. He listened to my lungs and my cough and decided I have a chest infection and he has put me on antibiotics.

We did venture out of our nest for a wee bit on Saturday night as we were invited out to our friend Helen’s birthday celebrations at Quentin’s which is just up the road. We said that if it was the UK then one of the restaurants in that area would be our local and we would walk there, however to do that here in SA would require risking our lives. In fact, when Helen and her friend drove home from dinner that night about midnight they had giant rocks thrown at their cars and a lot of damage was done. They were driving past the township at the police station when it occurred.

Yes. This happened right opposite the police station.

Welcome to Africa.

If that was the UK there would be manned CCTV in place and if that horror did occur it would be nipped in the bud immediately instead of happening to at least 4 other people that night according to the number of posts from the victims.

It was a dreadful end to a lovely evening. There were about 20 or more of us and we had two tables. It’s a lovely venue and the winter special is on.

I chose the avocado ritz to start.

It was nicely done, the avocado was ripe but firm, the prawns were fresh and perfectly cooked and the sauce was light and nice.

For my main course I chose the Roast Loin of Kingklip. It was all Banting which was nice as my dessert definitely wasn’t!

The fish was perfectly cooked, very firm in texture. The sauce was lovely and the spinach was tasty.

For dessert I chose the dark chocolate pudding. I was so eager to tuck in I didn’t snap a pic. Oops. It was so rich and decadent. I would have liked a bit of ice cream to cut through the richness of the chocolate but it was really creamy and gooey and lovely.

We didn’t last very late we were home about 11pm. We were one of the first to go but I was still feeling a bit rough. Norm snapped a pic of Helen and I on our way home.

On Sunday Norm just picked up a roast chicken and made some salads for a late lunch. My friend Retha popped round for a few minutes and had lunch with us. Norm and I spent the rest of the day snuggled up on the settee watching movies. We built a big fire and the critters all gathered round.

Lazy Sundays ❤️

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One thing about being ill was that I watched a lot of Netflix. When I watch on my own I try to find things I know Norm will not enjoy and as a result I chose a documentary series called “The Keepers“. It is a heart-wrenching series and for any other survivors of sexual abuse, there are triggers galore in this story. I found it a very difficult yet riveting story to watch. Like a train smash.

It is based in Baltimore Maryland in the USA and it tells the story of years of sexual abuse and deviant behaviour by several Catholic priests charged with the care of children. It is revealed that not only did the nuns and various other people at the schools or churches know about the abuse, but so did the Baltimore Diocese who chose to rather cover up the abuse than to deal with the issue of negligence in their duty of care. In fact, after the abuse was reported in the ’60’s by an altar boy who was attending St. Clement Parish, Father Maskell was removed from the parish and put in charge of looking after young girls at Archbishop Keough High School which was a girls only convent school. This gave Maskell and his colleagues free rein to abuse these girls in some horrific ways. They even brought in other pedophiles to be serviced by the girls in the priest’s offices on the school grounds. The girls all remembered that they were raped by police officers and various other men and that even Dr. Christian Richter, a local gynecologist colluded in the abuse. Maskell was also chaplain for the Baltimore police department during that time and he was good friends with the police chief at the time. Maskell’s brother was a police officer. The breadth of the cover up reaches right to the level of at least a Bishop and goes down deeply into the seedy echelons of the people who worked as police, those who had a duty to serve and protect the community.

There were several murders which have been linked to the perpetrators of the sexual abuse, one was the death of a nun, Sister Cathy, who knew about the abuse and was thought to have confronted the abusers and was subsequently murdered. The other death was a woman who resembled the nun. There are other rumors of deaths which people now think could be related to Maskell and his deviancy. None of them have been solved.

One of the ‘girls’ who seemed to have been a particularly favoured target of their abuse has since recovered many of her suppressed memories about that time and even recovered a memory of Maskell taking her to view the body of Sister Cathy. This victim had gone to Cathy to ask for help in dealing with the abuse. The priest had told her when he took her to see the body that if she told anyone else about the abuse she would end up in the same situation as Sister Cathy.

The concept of Recovered Memories was quite new at the time the 2 survivors had taken their case to court. This as well as the long period of time between the abuse and the charges was used as a means to suppress the case. There should be no statute of limitations on abuse of a child.

The church representatives tormented the witnesses and tried to diminish and intimidate them. In the end the church and the courts colluded to stop the case going forward to trial. No one has been prosecuted for the death of the two women nor the dozens of sexual abuse victims who came forward. The Church has subsequently paid off several of the surviving victims of the abuse who incriminated Father Maskell. They call it compensation but we all know it was guilt money which they hoped would make it all go away.

They don’t realise it is never about the money.

The #MeToo movement has empowered many victims to come forward. Many of these people were victimized decades ago but have not come forward for various reasons. Many victims repress all memory of the abuse.

I did not remember being abused as a small child until many years later when I was a mother myself. An episode of trauma triggered all of the memories to rush in just after Trevor was born. It all came hurtling back. I fully believe that our minds can restrict us ‘viewing’ information which we are unable to process or endure. Complete escapism. It’s a survival mechanism.

I was in a conversation the other day with 2 other women. All three of us are survivors of an abusive first marriage. We all found it hard to believe as we are all really forthright almost bolshy women. I know that my past is why I am who I am. I am a survivor. I know that whatever life throws my way cannot be worse than the things I have already made it through. This gives me a sense of bravery I might not otherwise feel.

I have a strong bond with the underdog and my kids call me Mama Bear. Woe betide anyone who messes with my children. Even though my eldest is 6’6″ and just turned 32 this week I still feel protective over him. At some point I’ll have to hand over that baton I guess! For now I am happy being Mama Bear.

We are hoping Norm hears some good news about his ongoing visa dramas this week, so we will appreciate any good vibes you can send our way.

Until next time, kisses from the Kitten xoxoxox

Letting Go

What is it about us that makes us self-sabotage? Even though we know how great we feel when we give up our vices or lose weight or eat healthy, why do we not adhere to these best laid plans? Is it lack of will power? Lack of self worth? Or is it just chemistry? When you eat sugar, you crave sugar. If you smoke a cigarette it makes you crave another one. These actions set up a cycle of dependency within our bodies.

I feel permanently exhausted lately. I do not sleep very much but I know that part of this is due to diet, based on how wonderful I felt when we were on 100% Banting. However getting back on track once we have drifted is proving to be a challenge for us both. Even Norm is slipping and he was always so stalwart that it helped keep me focused on healthy goals.

A poor diet also creates horrendous mood swings for me. (As if menopause didn’t throw in enough of those hurdles for me to surmount.) As a result I was a cow all weekend. The problem is, even when I know I am being a cow, there is nothing I seem to be able to do to snap me out of my cow-ness.

Then I go into a mental state of such anxiety thinking about why my behaviour is so horrid, maybe I am depressed? If not, then why do I feel so low all of the time, when I have so many amazing things to be happy about?

And then I go into a spin of anxiety about my mental health. I wonder if once a person has been diagnosed with mental health issues whether this then triggers it’s own issues? My mental health has been relatively stable since I moved back to South Africa, bar a few blips triggered by events such as our home invasion.

And then I wonder am I just thinking too much? The curse of the Virgo, we over analyse every event, every word and every action.

Anyway. Virgos.

On Friday, Norm had managed to sell our old couch and an exercise bike we had been wanting to get rid of for ages. We were rather short on cash due to paying to ship over the few items my mother had given me as well as buying the ‘new’ 2nd hand sofa, so I was happy we had cash to get us through until month end.

We had a quiet weekend. On Friday night Josh was home with us and we ordered take aways from Posticino and just had a quiet evening at home.

Josh was racing on Saturday so he was up and out of the house at dawn. Norm and I lay in bed until 8 when the dogs insisted on their breakfast. I had a hair appointment in the city and Norm and I decided to go for brunch before I left so we popped into La Cuccina.

As it was a last minute plan, Norm did not have time to shave. I love him with facial hair but he says it itches so it never lasts long.

❤️

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Phwaor.

I ordered my usual Eggs Benedict.

Norm ordered scrambled eggs and bacon. They make their own bread and he was unable to resist those carbs. I ordered my bacon well done and poor Norm also got his well done even though he likes his still oinking.

Afterwards I headed into the city to the hairdresser. I love the vibe at the new salon Pause, and I thought about how many different salons in how many different places that I faithfully trekked to just to continue with Leandra and how happy for her I am that she now has her own salon and shops. She is such a lovely hard working girl and I wish her every success with both.

After my appointment I headed home and relaxed outside by the pool for a while, tossing Pixie’s ball to keep her amused.

Pixie and the Pool Pipe #WeirdBandNames

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That evening we decided to go out for dinner and we went to the local pub, however it was rammed as there were several sports games on (she says vaguely) so we did an about face and headed back out again as soon as we saw how noisy and crowded it was.

We decided to head up to Constantia for a change and went to Primi. It was a very dark night, despite there being an almost full moon, it was difficult to see when traveling through the poorly lit wooded areas.

We eventually made it there and settled in and ordered a drink and some food. We got some of their delicious zucchini fries.

Zucchini fries

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I chose the Recco Classico pasta which was described as “A curry-infused Napoletana with garlic and fresh chilli, rounded off with cream and garnished with fresh coriander.” They serve it in 2 sizes. I chose the smaller option. The price for plain pasta was either 65 / 80, or With Chicken it was 80/ 95 or With Prawns it was 115 / 155. I chose to add prawns.

When my dish arrived it looked very yummy and I took a big bite of prawn and pasta but quickly had to spit it out as the prawns were still in their shells. I had to fish each prawn out of the sauce and de-shell it resulting in a right mess and burnt fingers. It also meant the first bite of prawn was pretty much lost in spitting it out. There were only 4 prawns in the dish which meant I paid an extra R50 for very little prawniness.

But the sauce was delicious.

Shortly after eating I had some sort of allergic attack and could not stop sneezing and my throat felt swollen. The only things I know I am allergic to is dust or iodine so it could have been the prawns but I suspect it was dust. My eyes were watering like mad so we did not hang about and we headed back to Hout Bay after we ate. Once home I took an antihistamine which seemed to calm things down but my throat still felt very swollen.

The next day I had planned on attending a sweat lodge but as I had felt so rubbish the night before I was worried it might be the beginnings of a cold and as I was so exhausted I decided I needed a pajama day and I settled in to have a day of rest.

I was a bit sad as I was looking forward to lodge. The weekend before last we had our drumming practice on Sunday at Gerri’s and afterwards many of us stayed to help build a new sweat lodge. Gerri had gotten lots of wattle from Greyton and had been soaking it in the pool to keep it moist.

Soaking the wattle

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The wattle all got classified by size and straightness.

Next we dug 8 holes and 2 poles for each of the 4 directions were placed on opposite sides of the circle and these became the lodge entrances. These would form the ‘doors’ to the lodge.

Then the wattle were bent inwards towards the centre of the circle.

This is quite physical and takes hours to finish. I was unable to stay til the end but Gerri sent a pic of it once it was complete.

When they want to hold the lodge they just cover the structure with thick blankets and this keeps the heat in.

So I was a bit sad I could not christen the lodge, but I have to remember to allow rest time and I feel as if I have been non-stop for months. The weekend before last was busy end to end.

Last weekend on Friday after work we had a team lunch at Col’Cacchio near our offices.

Note my colleague trying to garrot me with his dinner knife.

Charming.

The next morning Norm and I were up and out early as we took Navajo to see the doggy chiro that treats Pixie. As we could not leave little Panda home alone we took all three of them.

Navajo was a bit of a nightmare. He is not good with new situations and he was like a large, slavering bull in a china shop. David the chiro did not seem too sure of him and Norm had to hold Nav tight to stop him nipping David. Eventually David managed to treat Nav and we quickly scarpered out of there. We have put Nav on another dose of strong anti-inflammatory meds and will see if his ankle calms down. It is worrying as it has been months and he is still limping. David is worried his muscles will atrophy.

That night Norm and I had gone to Papino’s for dinner and as mentioned I was busy at the lodge until late on Sunday so I felt pretty knackered when Monday rolled around.

This Saturday I had woken to news that my cousin Mona’s husband of 25 years had passed away. It was their 25th wedding anniversary on the previous Wednesday and he died on his actual birthday.

Mona and I were raised like sisters as we both spent a lot of time at our grandmother’s house. I lived next door to my Gran and Mona lived with her father and siblings a few miles away. Mona’s mother Avene was my mother’s sister and she had died when her 3 children were tiny.

Mona was raised in a Christian church-going family, however my family never attended church, in fact my father was agnostic.

I was the naughty cousin once we got to be teens, I was partying, exploring tarot cards, Ouija boards and all sorts of things and I remember once involving Mona in my Ouija board antics and she freaked out and crossed herself and ran. Mona has maintained her life long bond with the church.

I never felt close to Christianity, however this did not stop Mona and I from being ‘sisters’. We may have drifted apart many times but we never stopped loving each other, so my heart is breaking for her and her daughter Stephanie. Stephanie was from Mona’s first marriage but was quite young when Mona remarried and so she saw Steve as a second father. As I have lived outside of the US for almost 30 years I had only met Steve once or twice but according to everyone who did know him he was a lovely man.

I pray that Mona and Steve’s loved ones all find the strength they need to get through this.

I am going to focus on changing my perspective, and yes I know I’ve said that before. I read in this post that “Happiness is accepting what we don’t control — which is everything outside of ourselves — and investing in what we do control, which is everything inside us.” Control is a huge issue for me, so I am still having challenges with that it seems. Maybe this is a ongoing life lesson…….letting go of trying to control everything so that I can find my own peace and be happy?

Thank you for reading and if you can spare a prayer for Mona and Stephanie I would be most appreciative.

Until next time, kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox

Exploding Kittens & Birthday Celebrations

My life has still been so busy that I have not had time to blog. Writing for me is a stress release, a sort of download of the clutter banging about in my head, so when I do not take the time to write it can make me feel quite off balance.

We have still made the time to enjoy life despite being so busy.

The Saturday after Rosie left, my youngest Lily and I went shopping to get presents for both Josh and Caitlin’s upcoming birthdays. Afterwards we went for lunch at Jakura which does divine sushi and crispy chill beef.

Crispy chili beef and noodles

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The following day was Josh’s birthday and I bought him some clothes and Lily got him a cake and a few other bits and pieces. The next morning Lily took Josh a chocolate croissant and coffee in bed and then we had a gift opening session. I had to shoot off at 10 as I had drumming circle. It was great fun as always.

Our drumming circle ❤️

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The pic is from Aurelie from Voice The Change.

I always leave these drumming sessions on such a spiritual high.

It was my daughter Caitlin’s 30th birthday the following weekend on the 12th of May and she had decided that she wanted to celebrate it by going away for a weekend with the people she loves and so she had booked out a large house for 10 of us to go and spend the weekend together.

She had researched what town was half way between her siblings that live in the garden route and those of us who would be driving from Cape Town. She found a place in Robertson on Airbnb and booked, however 5 days before our booking the owner of the Airbnb property cancelled! She used the excuse that her neighbour had hired a lawyer to protest her using her property commercially and she could not book guests until it was resolved in court. That caused Caitlin a lot of stress as she had everything planned out for the weekend and had also booked a venue for Mother’s Day lunch on the Sunday and now had to start her planning all over again.

Luckily there were still properties available and as Amber and Josh both had to work that weekend and could no longer join us, we booked a cheaper house that sleeps 8 instead of 10 and chose a lovely smaller property in Greyton.

I got off of work at 1pm on the Friday and headed home to pack, the traffic was abysmal and I encountered 2 stop and go traffic queues. Once I got home Norm still had to walk the dogs, shower and pack my car so it was 3.30pm when we finally left home. Hout Bay was completely grid locked from the traffic and it took ages to get to the village. Norm and I were in charge of bringing booze and snacks and I wanted to pick up wrapping paper and a birthday cake for Caitlin. We finished all of the shopping and the village traffic was still chaos, Lily had left just before us and was sending us voice message traffic updates and we knew that even once we got out of the village we would have bumper to bumper traffic to negotiate on the motorway. We decided that as we were at the far end of the village we would just cross over Chapman’s Peak and drive around the coast roads to Somerset West and then hop on the motorway somewhere around that area. It might be a further distance in kilometers than taking the main motorway but it was at least moving steadily and as it was along the coast the views were stunning. We decided to relax and just get there when we got there. After the sun went down we were on a long road with very little street lighting and visibility was very challenging. Then when we were 20kms away from the little side road that took us cross country to Greyton the petrol light started flashing so we ended up having to divert to the next town on the motorway.  For those readers who live in the US or Europe, I have to add that the ‘motorway’ is 2 narrow lanes driving through miles and miles of countryside. It is pitch black outside and it is a challenge to drive at night. A horse, goat or chicken could randomly wander into the road near the townships. It’s sometimes a bit hair raising.

After we topped up with petrol we headed back 3 km in the same direction we had come from until we got to the correct road and we then drove through yet more farmland where it seemed to be even darker. We were so relieved when we arrived at the property we had rented.

Luckily Caitlin, her boyfriend Wesley and Lily were there already and had lit a big fire in the lounge and made a potato bake and salad and were ready to start cooking the meat, so not long after we unloaded the car Trevor arrived and then we were tucking into a gorgeous plate of food. Greyton has plenty of restaurants and pubs, but we just wanted to spend time together as a family and had decided to do our own simple non-fussy cooking.

After dinner we all played Pictionary. Our family loves to play games, and Caitlin and Trevor had both brought along loads of different games to amuse us. The kids and I stayed up until 2 a.m. playing games and laughing so much our bellies hurt. We had such fun. For the turns which were ‘all play’ and the 2 teams were racing to get someone to answer correctly, the more you rushed the more ridiculous the drawings turned out. For example, the top drawing is a squirrel and the bottom drawing was the beginning of an elephant. Could you have figured that out?

The next morning was Caitlin’s actual birthday and we had planned to walk over to the local market for breakfast. I woke first and tiptoed outside to explore the property as it was so dark when we arrived the previous night. The garden was quite large with a big pond in the centre where birds were busy diving after the gnats flying around the pond. The mist was rolling in over the mountains and it was so peaceful.

I made a cup of coffee and bundled up in a blanket and sat outside to enjoy the view and watch the birds. About 9am I went into the house to find my phone and noticed that I had several missed calls and messages. The messages were from a vet who had Caitlin’s kitten Scout. Someone had taken him in after finding him roaming around Caitlin’s apartment complex. As I was listed as the secondary contact they rang me when Caitlin did not answer. Luckily Scout has been micro-chipped and they could contact us. I ran to Caitlin’s bedroom to find Cait and Wes awake and Cait on the phone to the vet. She then tried to ring the couple who were looking after the cats but there was no response and we were all in a hysterical panic. How did Scout get out? Was her flat broken into? Where was Mittens, the other kitten? Was Scout injured? The only open window was a 2 story drop to the pavement, could a small kitten survive that without breaking a limb or worse? We phoned the vet back and asked her to check Scout’s legs which she said were perfectly fine.

Eventually the couple looking after the kittens phoned Caitlin back and said they had not been over to the flat yet so they could not have let Scout out. They quickly rushed over to the flat to find Mittens there safe and sound and all alone. She purred like mad when they came in as she must have been so relieved to see another being in the flat with her after a night home alone.

Caitlin’s friends took her cat carrier from the flat and went to the vet to collect Scout and take him home. Mittens gave him a right telling off and actually growled at him when they arrived! Scout has a naughty habit of bolting for the door when you go in and out and hopefully this experience will have given him enough of a fright that he stops doing that. Once we heard the kitties were both home safe and sound we all relaxed.

By now it was well after 10am and the market was only on from 10-12. We decided to still get dressed and walk over there and try to restore the mood to birthday frivolities. The house was only a short stroll away from the main village and we wandered around the stalls and had a crepe from one of them and then walked back home.

We had all gotten Caitlin some small gifts to open on her birthday, even though the cost of the trip away was supposed to be our gift to her. She also had some gifts to open from Wesley’s Mom. She received a box of coloured pencils and a colouring book and a set of cute owls which are to go under hot pots to save damage to your counters.

We also got her a Cranium Dark game, some books, a dream catcher, a lovely lush beach towel, a bracelet, a few other bits and pieces as well as 2 gift certificates to go towards a Bluetooth speaker that she wants.

I also bought tickets for me, Caitlin and Norman to go and see the musical production of Mathilda at the Artscape theatre when the show comes to Cape Town in December. She was a very happy girl and felt nicely spoiled.

For lunch we made egg, bacon and avocado rolls. As we finished eating, Caitlin’s childhood friend Katherine arrived with her husband Lorien. I quickly made them some food too and then the kids all settled in to have a catch up and chat. They have known each other for most of their lives but Katherine now lives in Johannesburg so they do not see each other very often. The kids then decided to play Settlers of Catan. Neither Norm or I are bothered about that game so we sat it out and instead we poured a drink and snuggled up on the patio.

A bit later I started cooking dinner for the hordes. We put a big pot of potatoes and some eggs on to boil for potato salad and I started frying chopped onions and bacon to go into it. After a few minutes the gas ring blew out under both pots and we then realised that the electric eyes on the stove were not working at all! We had a small gas grill outside and we tried swapping the gas bottles in case the inside bottle was empty and maybe that was the issue, however the gas just blew out each time we put a pot on the flame. We ended up cooking our potatoes on the gas grill outside and Lorien unearthed an electric frying pan to use for the bacon and onions. All of the pots and pans in the cupboards were quite dirty and had to be washed before use. The added issue of the stove was almost enough to crack me, but I persevered and eventually Norm and I managed to produce a rather yummy simple dinner of potato salad, green salad, corn on the cob, garlic bread and lots of grilled meat to feed the 8 of us.

We had brought a birthday cake and candles as well and we celebrated.

I cannot believe I now have 2 ‘children’ who are in their thirties! I am officially old. I am also officially very blessed so I have no justification for complaints.

After dinner we moved inside to gather by the fire and play Caitlin’s new Dark Cranium game I had bought her for her birthday. It is like a combination of 60 seconds, Pictionary, Cranium, Charades & various other games all combined into a bundle of hilarity.

To play you first pick an Action Card and show it to the group. This could be anything from ‘while someone sits on your lap’, ‘speaking like Darth Vader’ or ‘while tap dancing’ to ‘walking a large dog’, or it could be ‘draw with your eyes shut’ or ‘model with clay’. Some of these cards also indicate you cannot speak at all.

You then draw a Cranium Card. Without saying any of the words on the Cranium card, you must get the other players to guess what’s on that Cranium card by expressing it in the style of the Action card. For example, can you get your friends to guess “milk a cow” while acting like you are walking a large dog? How about guessing the words “fried chicken” while drawing with your eyes closed? You only have 60 seconds for each turn. We laughed so much!

We had such a fun night and my kids stayed up quite late again but Norm and I as well as Katherine and Lorien went to bed around midnight. After we went to bed the stalwarts played a game called Exploding Kittens which they seemed to really enjoy based on the noise they were making and the laughter.

The next day was Mother’s Day in South Africa and the USA. I woke up early as I always do and had a coffee outside on the veranda. I got showered and sorted my bags as I knew there were a lot of people to get ready and the house had only 2 bathrooms.

Norm and I were the first ones up and ready to face the day.

The kids got up and Katherine and Lorien were packed and away early to go and see their twin boys for Mother’s Day and to hang out with their own family who were also down holidaying in the Cape for a few days.

The rest showered and the children then gave me some garden ornaments for Mother’s Day which I adore.

Our family are trying to only give useful gifts and not just ‘things’ to sit around the house and look pretty and gather dust. I love these birds and am always keen to receive any garden art as a gift as I love sitting in my garden.

However my real gift was waking to all of my children under one roof.

We tried multiple times to do a cute video for my Mom for Mother’s Day and it proved a challenge.

That also led to a lot of hilarity.

We had to check out by 10.30 a.m. so once the cars were packed we all walked around to the far end of the village to a place called Fiore Garden Centre where Caitlin had booked for us to go for Mother’s Day brunch. It was a charming little place with tables in a courtyard which was surrounded by plants.

I ordered the french toast and bacon. It was tasty but it was cold when it arrived. I had asked for well done bacon and some of it was barely cooked but it was edible and I was starving.

We hung out and chatted a bit and had a wander around the garden centre.

It was quite cool and overcast which is perfect travelling weather. We all headed out once we finished our coffees as we all had a few hours drive ahead of us.

It was such a wonderful weekend full of laughter and love and it made me even more aware of just how blessed I am. I am so privileged and proud that this fabulous trio of humans are part of my life.

I am such a Happy Kitten.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x

A Scotsman, an Irishwoman & an American walk out of a bar….

It has been three weeks since I have had the time to blog. I was signed off of work due to stress for two days just after Norm arrived back home from his trip to the states. We are under such time pressure on this project that I could not afford to have any down time so despite being signed off I worked from home both days. I made great progress at home with no distractions. When we are in the office we spend up to four or five hours of the day in meetings rather than designing our solution and documenting it.

I went back to work the following Monday and have focused on applying various tools to help me deal with the personalities around me. The work does not stress me, I am one of the few people who enjoy creating documentation, but I love writing so to me it is paying me to do what I love to do, as long as I have the proper level of understanding of the design I am trying to document. The stress comes from the people around me who cannot cope with their own stress and therefore displace it towards the team.

My friend Rosie has been over to visit us for the last 2 weeks. We have been friends for over 20 years.  I first met Rosie when I moved to the UK to live with Norm in November 1996. Norm and I still lived in Belfast when we got married in Scotland in July 1997 but I cannot remember when we left there to move to England, but we were probably living there about 18 months to 2 years. Rosie was part of the group I hung out with in Belfast, we went to the same pubs, went on weekends away and attended various other events as a group together. Rosie was also one of our friends who made the effort to come and spend time with us when we visited the UK in January 2017 on our whirlwind tour.

Unfortunately I was knee deep in my very tightly dead-lined intense project for the majority of her visit and Norm was left to be the tour guide. He took Rosie to the Cape Point Nature Reserve and they were lucky enough to see a pair of Eland, DassiesPenguins, Baboons and all manner of lovely things. He took her to the V&A Waterfront where she got to see the new Zeitz MOCAA museum and wander around the shops. She went to the Slave Museum and saw the Bo kaap and District Six.

We took her to dinner and lunch at some of the area’s nicest spots for either their vistas, their food or both. I will not do my usual blow by blow or it will bore you to tears so I will touch on the highlights of her visit.

Lily and Josh came down for Rosie’s first weekend,

My baby girl and I ❤️ #daughters #love #family

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and Caitlin and Wes also joined us all for dinner at my fave venue, Cheyne’s.

We had a lovely evening and a lot of laughs.

How funny is the photo bomb dude in the background?

I do not have a copy of the menu that night but I will try and remember the basic description of what I had. The beauty of Cheyne’s food however is the alchemy of the combinations he puts together and I will not be able to express that level of granularity. We all went for the Yum Cha experience which is any four dishes from his menu. His menu is divided into 4 themed sections: one with seafood dishes, one with carnivorous choices, one with ‘side’ dishes and one with sweet dishes.

I started with this dish in the pic below. It is baby shrimp tempura with a delicious sauce. I adore this dish.

For my selection from the Land section of the menu I had the Mumbai Chill Beef. It is always divine and nothing else tempted me away from choosing it again this visit. It was so yum, I love the combination of the raw coconut and the slices of chili.

I was delighted that the sweet potato fritters were back on the menu. I adore these fried dumplings in the rich peanut buttery coconut sauce. Rosie asked to swap one of her duck fat fries for one of my fritters and I threatened to impale her in the eye with my chopsticks. I think she got the message I do not share my food.

These are little balls of heaven.

For my fourth choice I had the peanut butter shake. There was a bit of drama when the waitress forgot our fourth course. She came around to our table after having disappeared for ages after our third round of dishes and asked us if we wanted anything else or should she bring the bill and we said ‘ummm yes, we would like the rest of our dinner’. Josh had just been about to give up and leave as he had a race the following day and was up really early so in order to get him to come out with us we had promised him he would be home by 9pm. But he had also ordered dessert as had the rest of the table except Wes and Cait who both had 4 savoury courses. Josh got home late but luckily it did not impair him as he still kicked ass and took home first prize.

He also loved his milkshake luckily!

We had a great evening and it was lovely having my girls and Rosie all together. They were so tiny when Rosie and I were friends years ago I wanted her to get to meet them, I only wish Trevor had been here too.

Saturday morning Rosie and I got up and headed out to the Hout Bay Harbour Market. We had a wander around the stalls and a tour of the food section and Rosie bought a hat and had a healthy salmon poke  bowl.

Salmon Poke Bowl @bayharbourmarket ❤️

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It was too early for that for me as I was feeling a wee bit hung over from the previous night as my Cherokee liver cannot metabolise the fire water and I ended up being tempted by a plate of bite sized, fresh, hot, iced donuts.

Oh my gawd they were amazing.

I regret nothing.

We left the market and drove over to the actual harbour and had a wander around the stalls selling African artifacts. Rosie bought a little musical instrument at one of the stalls and then found some sunglasses to go with her new hat.

It was a stunning warm sunny day. We bought a gorgeous soft serve ice cream at Muriel’s and walked to the end of the pier, watching the variety of people strolling around us.

We are so blessed to live in such a stunning village.

The local man who feeds the seals and drags them out of the water to beg for tourist donations was around but we avoided him and I took a pic of the seal as he headed back out to sea.

That evening we headed back to the Harbour for dinner at the Lookout Deck as we went for their Saturday night kilo of prawns special.

We had our prawns and sat by the window looking out to sea, it was a lovely setting and the food was nice, the prawns were quite difficult to peel this time for some reason but once you managed to wrest it out of the shell it was lovely. A huge catch of tuna were being processed just nearby and we watched all of the activity with interest.

On Sunday we went to the stunning Constantia Glen vineyard.

It was a gorgeous sunny day outside with just a bit of wind to keep it pleasant.

Both Norm and Rosie had the flammkuchen. (That is just German for pizza.)

Norm had the Caprese Flammkuchen.

Caprese Flammkuchen @constantiaglen

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I had the charcuterie and cheese platter.

Cheese and Charcuterie platter

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I really enjoyed the Constantia Glen Two wine, it was a blend but was really easy on the palate and not too acidic.

I was back at work on Monday but Rosie had been struggling with anxiety since her Mom’s recent death and so I arranged some healing treatments of various modalities for her and Norm took her to them during the week. Luckily I knew who to make the first booking with and that person helped with the connections for the other treatments which Rosie managed to have. She went for Reiki, hypnotherapy and family constellations therapy which deals with how our past can affect our present. She also happened to time it so that she was here when my spirit workers group held an all women sweat lodge and she got a lot of benefit from that too.

I booked midweek for us all to go and see a singer we knew nothing at all about on Wednesday night at our fave music venue, Cafe Roux in town. Usually I watch a video to gauge whether the artists will be my type of music before booking but this time I was so busy I just looked for someone appearing that week and chose Lucy Kruger and the Lost Boys.

They were very talented, Lucy had a haunting voice and she called up various other artists she knew to perform with her. There was a guy next to her who she called Andre who was half genius and half irritating twat. He needed to be noticed and sometimes he just made a lot of noise, occasionally adding a positive element to the sound. Another woman sang with her and their voices were the perfect complement to each other.

However we had a brilliant night despite Andre and toddled home quite late for a school night. I was sluggish the next day at work, however I had promised Rosie a night out on the legendary Cape Town gay scene the following night. I asked a gay friend to recommend some options and she suggested we go onto the group Cape Town Lesbians on Facebook and look for suggestions. I went on to the page and saw an event posted for a singer called Janelle Botha who was performing at what appeared to be a small venue in Cape Town called the Cheeky Bean Cafe. It was a really cheap entry of R30 and there were only a few people saying they were attending so I thought it sounded like a nice cosy environment in which to gently dip our toe into the Cape Town scene. We thought we might meet some friendly women who could direct us onto our next venue.

Norm had to take Caitlin to the airport that day and had a busy day chasing around trying to sort his visa (that is a blog all on it’s own) so he decided to have a chilled night at home. Rosie and I booked an Uber and set off into town in high spirits. We did not know exactly where we were going but once we got to Somerset Square the driver got out of the car and spoke to the guards and found the venue and dropped us right outside. There were less than 10 people there all of whom were sitting outside smoking, however all of the inside tables had signs saying ‘Reserved’ on them. We walked up to the bar and were approached by a very pretty and friendly member of staff who asked if we knew about the cover charge. I said we did but it looked like the tables were all taken. She said they would ‘sort something out’ for us. She told us to pay at the bar when Rosie offered her a R200 note for our joint R60 cover charge. I placed an order for a round with the bartender and also handed over R100. The barmaid then gave us a sour look and asked did we not have anything smaller. We dug around and came up with exact change which she took. We got our drinks and we asked the first waitress again where could we sit? She said they would ‘sort something out’. In the meantime we went to sit on the couch in the corner of the room. As soon as we sat the grumpy little barmaid stomped over and started ranting again about us not booking. We told her the invite said nothing about booking being required, besides which they took our entrance fee! You cannot make someone pay entrance and then tell them there is not enough room for them. We got up and moved to a table which had become available outside but it was a cold evening and I was dressed for being inside in a bar, not sitting outside. Besides which the smell of cigarettes was overpowering. I was freezing cold and very hungry. We again asked about a table inside for the third time when Rosie went for a new round and the grumpy barmaid shouted ‘I don’t know you!’ which seemed a bizarre thing for a manager of a public venue to say. We clearly were not welcome and she seemed to be rather angry about us being there and asking for a seat apparently! Why did they not just ask a group at a bigger reserved table whether we could join them? The singer was average but we would have enjoyed the event except that the manager was so unwelcoming and unpleasant that I phoned Norm and begged him to rescue us. He was not happy as he had driven all the way to the airport and had just arrived back home and had to come back to the city. He kindly agreed to come through and collect us and we all drove down the main road until we spotted a Hudsons Burgers and parking available just across the road and we were lucky enough to get a table with a stunning and friendly waitress who was very efficient and had us all munching happily on a burger in no time at all.

I was feeling so traumatised by the horrid experience at The Cheeky Bean Cafe that I even had a milkshake to cool me down.

Our waitress asked us where we were from and when I said ‘Hout Bay’ she looked perplexed so we had a laugh and explained how a Scotsman, a Northern Irish woman and an American all ended up together in Africa. She really was lovely. She proved to me again just how the waiter or waitress is such a big part of your overall experience.

When we got home we enjoyed relaxing on our new sofa which I bought second hand from a friend. Our old one was lovely but Norm hated it and I knew that this one was really well made and comfy and as I am a red freak I bought it spur of the moment.

I love it so much! It was a bit of drama getting it home as it poured with rain and it was being temporarily stored on a patio but luckily it did not get damaged. The dogs are baffled by the change as the back is not cushy enough for dogs to be draping over it and there are no blankets covering it like we needed with the creamy sofa so there are no hidey places for them under the blankets. It has just confused them terribly.

I was off work on Thursday as it was Freedom Day in South Africa and Rosie had booked to go to Robben Island. Norm and I drove her to the waterfront and put her onto a boat then we had some shopping to do and a nice afternoon together planned. We did the things we needed to do and then we went to the Zeitz MOCAA and were pleasantly surprised it was free as it was a public holiday. We went to the 6th floor and grabbed a table with a gorgeous view all around us.

We ordered a simple lunch of chicken and chips. We were a bit naughty and both indulged in the gorgeous looking desserts we saw being served. I had a piece of the Red Velvet Cake of the day.

Norm had the lemon meringue with coconut sorbet.

Norm and I had over 4 hours to kill in total. We wandered through the Zeitz after our leisurely lunch even though we saw most of the displays recently, but we saw some new items and noticed things we missed the first visit. Afterwards we walked about outside the silo and spotted that the Chavonnes Battery Museum had a sign announcing a Mandela Photography exhibit was on. It was R100 entry each but profits go to youth development so we decided to bite the bullet even though we only had less than an hour before Rosie was due to arrive back.

Mandela photo exhibition

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After that we sat by the water at the arrival point waiting for Rosie, it was a moody and dark and somewhat gloomy day inland but when she returned Rosie said the weather was gorgeous at sea.

On our way home we drove up to the top of Signal Hill so that Rosie could see the beautiful view of the city laid out below but as we drove up the mountain, the already dreary weather turned worse and a thick mist rolled over the city. Rosie hopped out and tried to snap some pics, I snapped this pic of her snapping a pic which I thought looked quite cool.

That evening we took Rosie to Papino’s for dinner, one of our fave venues which only locals have discovered. Norm and I both had our usual, the hollandse biefsteak but Rosie had lamb shank and raved about it. Ours was as divine as it always is.

On Saturday Rosie attended the sweat lodge I mentioned so Norm and I dropped her off and then popped out for lunch. We stopped in at Pastis in Constantia as it was a lovely sunny day and it feels like you are in a pub garden in Europe when sitting there outside under the vines.

We had two of the items on special and shared them. We ordered fishcakes and Portuguese calamari. The fishcakes were a bit gooey for my taste and the calamari was a bit chewy despite the coating being a bit insipid in colour. It was OK but nothing amazing.

Calamari and fish cakes

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We were enjoying sitting in the sun however so we decided to linger and have dessert. I had the lemon meringue.

Norm had the cheesecake.

We woke to a sunny morning for Rosie’s last full day and Rosie and Norman headed off early to catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. After they returned home Norm dropped Rosie and I at Dune’s on the Beach for a late lunch.

The venue has a gorgeous setting of simple picnic tables under umbrellas with a sand floor. We got a seat under the shaded area at the back of the restaurant.

I ordered the chili poppers for us to nibble on as starters.

Rosie and I both ordered the mussels with fries to share.

They were delicious! We both really enjoyed every morsel of our food, the bread was fresh, the chips crispy and the sauce on the mussels was moreish.

We had a gorgeous afternoon chatting and munching and drinking. I had to be back at work on Monday so I took it easy and only had a few ciders and we did not have a late night.

On Monday I shot off early as always and arrived at the client site about 7.30am. I knew the client was not going to be in the office as they had all taken a day’s leave as Tuesday was another public holiday. I did expect my team to be in the office though and when I discovered they were all working from home I was so annoyed. What a waste of petrol just because no one seems able to communicate in a professional manner. I packed up and drove back home and started working from there. I was using our Bluetooth mouse and when working my screen suddenly flipped upside down and my spreadsheets started closing down. I lifted my hands up but the typing in front of me continued as if my laptop was possessed by a demon. I quickly pulled out the USB thingy (what the hell is that thing called?) and tapped furiously on my laptop mouse rather than the Bluetooth one. The crazy activity all stopped. I restarted my laptop and Norm googled to find out how to reset my screen and then I managed to retrieve all of my documents. I assumed it was a virus of some sort that caused it and then carried on working. A bit later my wrists started aching so I asked Norm for the keyboard which goes with the mouse. Norm went to rummage around to find it and when I came back into the room he confessed that while rummaging around in that same box earlier he had bashed around the keyboard which was linked to my laptop and that was what had resulted in my bizarre pseudo-possession. I think he only confessed in order to shut me up going on about bad juju and muttering about doing a spirit cleansing on the house.

That afternoon we drove Rosie to the airport and went in to have lunch with her and send her on her way. She has now messaged to say she has made it home safe and sound. I have had a lazy pajama day today and have a pot of chicken curry on the stove bubbling away. It will be a 3 day work week for the remainder of it, our project ends at week end and then I move offices back to the foreshore. It has been an exciting & busy few weeks for both work and our social lives, I could do with a bit of quiet now really! We have a few weeks until the family all go away for Caitlin’s 30th birthday. I hope I have some peace until then.

One thing that having a visitor highlights is just how beautiful my home and country is and just how blessed I am.

I am such a lucky woman. Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

Touched by an Angel

One more sleep.

That is, there is only one more sleep until my darling hubby is waiting eagerly at the Cape Town airport for collection.

All I can say is phew. I would say more but kids might be reading.

Managing a home as well as starting a new client and new project has almost done me in. Thank goodness we don’t also have small children, I wonder how single moms cope. Hats off to them. We have so much pressure just as women in general. Waxing and coloring and styling and making up. Feck it can be hard work. Add to that keeping a house functioning and it is a lot to keep juggled. It’s like a finely tuned machine, I used a calendar with color coded keys for each person, the domestic, the gardener, the pool man, the dog food delivery man, the house sitter and dog walker. If one factor shifted it all went awry. For example, Josh was planning on staying in Mossell Bay from Good Friday until the following Thursday so I had booked Vanessa a few nights to stay over and help me, but then Josh had to come back early for work so I ended up having all three of us here but that worked out ok. Luckily we had the new bed for Vanessa.

But then as I had originally cancelled Vanessa from Easter weekend I was on my own on Tuesday morning when I started my new project at our new client site. I had told our cleaner when she was here in person the previous week that I was starting a new project and was supposed to be in an 8am meeting and I also sent an SMS the day before to remind her that I had to leave by 7:30 at the latest and if she wasn’t there I could not wait. I was ready by 7 but there was no sign of her by 7:30 and when I rang her phone was off. Often when she goes to the Eastern Cape she is late coming back to Cape Town so I assumed she was not back and I left a voicemail and sent a text message to say I had to go to work. As she wasn’t here our gardener could not get in to work later at 9 when he arrived. It also meant the dogs were on their own all day. On the days when no one was going to be at home, I booked Vanessa who popped in to let the dogs out for a wander and a wee and filled their water bowls.

I had a meeting with a colleague on Monday even though it was a public holiday just to prep me for Tuesday but it was still exhausting sitting in workshops most of Tuesday. I left as soon as I could and raced back feeling so bad that Navajo was inside unable to go to the toilet from that morning but he did so well bless him.

We could not get our ID badges which meant I could not even go for a wee on my own, eventually that was sorted and yesterday I got access to the WiFi and network. Those niggly little details make such a difference when you get on boarded to a project. It’s lovely being in the city Centre with so many choices of food and a nice coffee place across the road. I’ve mostly eaten at Now Now which has a really great menu and delicious food and a few Banting choices. I have a coffee there every morning and usually my lunch is there too as it’s across the street and I don’t have time to faff about.

I had this Banting dish for lunch Tuesday, it has cauliflower mash topped with spicy chicken, sour cream and sliced almonds. Yum.

Peri Chicken Pot 👍🏼

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Josh and I were surviving off of OrderIn. This went fine most nights but one evening we ordered burgers from The Kitchen Takeaway and had a major drama. The order got stuck in the app. Eventually I noticed that it had been a long time since I placed the order and I had not had an SMS so I checked the app to make sure the order had gone through and noticed it had not been completely processed. I rang the call centre (I won’t call it a ‘helpdesk’ as it certainly NOT that) and after sitting on the phone in a queue for 5 minutes someone finally answered and when I asked her about the status of my order she then put me on hold and disappeared for ages, she then came back to say that the ‘restaurant had refused the order’ and when I asked her why she said she had to check ‘with a colleague’. She then put me on hold again. After another 5 minutes listening to an annoying call centre message she comes back to say that the restaurant was missing an item we ordered and had cancelled the order. I told her that we only ordered burgers – how many ingredients could be missing?! This sounded rather unlikely.

Josh had subsequently rang the restaurant on his mobile who told us that A) they had not refused the order as they had not received the order and that B) there were no missing ingredients, they had all that we asked for. This can only lead me to the conclusion that the call centre agent was not being truthful. This has happened before where OrderIn agents blamed the restaurant for the issues in delivery and when I rang the restaurant they told me that the story I was given by the call centre agents is not true. They are obviously told never to admit a glitch on the app however the damage that they can do to a restaurant’s reputation can be terrible.

Petrol went up this week and I missed that memo. By the time I got the message I was home and in my PJs and not a chance was I moving. It is already taking twice the petrol driving up the mountain now that I drive the coast road.

I was presenting very tedious information to the client in workshops twice this week and both days I had such a sore tummy. Presenting stresses me out especially when I have not written the documents myself. I hate surprises. But both days went well and I have my rules confirmed. I’ll package for sign off next week.

Driving out of the city yesterday a car stalled at the traffic light in front of me. The large truck behind me got annoyed at the delay & overtook the queue of traffic & drove around us & cut in front to turn left at the same time the poor dude got his car to start resulting in a major collision right in front of me. It was rather shocking and loud but no one was badly injured. I was then starting to shift into victim mode and think “why me? Why are all of these stressful things happening to me?” And then I pulled myself up for languishing in egotistic self pity. I needed to shift my focus and say Thank You! Thank you spirit guides and protectors and ancestors for keeping me safe in that accident. Thank you for a job. Thank you for a job where I get to talk to people all day about a topic I love, data and data quality. How lucky am I that I get paid to write, even if I am writing technical approach documents, at least I am doing something I love to do and getting paid a cracking good salary to do so.

I need to refocus. Maybe being without Norm has made me more appreciative of what I have. I just know I can’t wait for him to get home and I’m feeling renewed in how I am approaching this project. Life is good. I’m a lucky Kitten. I just need to focus on those positives and keep myself in gratitude mode.

This morning I was up early and took Pixie to the doggy chiropractor. We were a bit early so we canoodled in the car.

I put a ham in to bake when I got back.

I baked a gammon ❤️

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I then popped out to Spar and bought some veggies so I will do roast butternut and cauliflower, corn on the cob and serve those with the ham.

I’ve just been chilling outside with the dogs and relaxing. Feeling blessed to have this view.

And feeling pleased the plants I repotted are thriving.

The view from my happy place ❤️😍

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Enjoy your weekend and until then, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

Path of Persistence

I’ve been trying to keep up with all of my own tasks as well as those which Norman  is usually responsible for and so far the house is still standing and all 5 animals are still alive.

Some of them are coping better than others.

Navajo is still hopping about on 3 legs and his ankle is still so swollen.

I am spraying arnica on it twice a day. It does not hurt him but it is cold and it smells funny so at first he scooted off in the opposite direction whenever he saw the bottle. I praised him and gave him so much love each time I treated him that he eventually started to stick his leg out and wait for the spray as he knew it would be followed with lots of attention. He was on anti-inflammatory meds every evening which I mixed into his mince. Norm tried every means possible to hide it, wrapping it in a block of cheese, in a sausage, in a ball of mince, he tried everything. I just grind it up and mix into the mince and he is eating it but the meds are now finished and I need to get him back to the vet but I can’t take him myself as I am in the city all day on a new project and cannot take time to get back to Hout Bay in business hours.

We gave Navajo a few days rest without walking, he was a bit overexcited about life (poor cats) but I think he needed to take it easy. He is struggling with getting up the stairs. He has no problem going down, he lifts that back leg and flies down the stairs. He is struggling a bit with weeing, he prefers lifting the ‘good leg’ and of course when he tries he wobbles about and then remembers and rights himself. Bless him.

He is a clever boy. The other day I heard Pixie snuffling about under the stairs and I managed to crawl in there with her to discover both of her balls lined up in a neat little row just outside of her reach. She has a little smushed up Pomeranian face and not much of a snout, whereas Navajo has a really long nose. He deliberately puts her toys there and sits back and watches her repeatedly trying to get to them, knowing she cannot reach them with her wee mouth. He has a strong streak of sadism.

Maybe he is paying Pixie back for annoying him. She can be a right little pain in the butt. She has this ‘trick’ where she goes outside at the back just when we are getting ready to go up to bed. She can get in and out of the house via her doggy door but once I lock up she cannot get upstairs to join all of us as she cannot navigate the security gate as she is too chubby to get through the bars. Navajo will not settle at night if one of his pack is missing so I have to go out and try and entice her back inside. If she decides to be awkward then I have to put off all of the alarms, unlock all of the locks to get out the back, traverse the dog poop and other surprises lying around in the dark while shoe less and fetch her. So when she did it this week I said to her ‘come in Pixie’ and then opened the treat cupboard to feed the cats. She then thought I was getting a treat to bribe her in and popped in through the doggy door with a look of expectation. Navajo had come down to assist me (aka get under my feet and make it twice as difficult) and I turned and said to them both in a very gruff voice ‘Naughty children GET UPSTAIRS NOW!!’ and they both turned and ran upstairs as if being pursued by a monster, feet scrambling against the tiles until they got traction. They knew they were being naughty and they were like cheeky children flying up those stairs. It was all I could do not to laugh.

The other doggy drama has been with the neighbour across the road who has several huge dogs. She cannot manage them all on leads while walking them on her own and so she takes them down to the road reserve off lead. This would be fine if they were disciplined. They are not. Twice this week I have had these massive dogs attacking my dogs while mine are in their own garden. They fight through the gate so only their snouts can make contact but this can be enough. When I lived in Los Angeles I had a little American Eskimo dog named Teka and while walking her one evening she had sniffed under a gate and the dog on the other side managed to get hold of her lip and tore it badly leading to a bad cut and a ton of blood.

I lost my cool a bit on Thursday when I got home and the dogs all started fighting for the second time that week and I saw the owner just watching from across the road rather than trying to restrain her dog. I have now told her that I will pepper spray the dogs if they attack my dogs while in their own garden. I hate to do that but I must protect my dogs.

It is a family joke that we always have some major catastrophe when Norm goes away and this trip I have been forced to be Mrs McGyver. The first issue was the garage door which cannot be opened when the electricity is off. Mzudumo and Cordelia were both at the house working that day when the power tripped. Luckily Mzudumo has experienced this before with the dodgy SA electrical supply and he managed to override the electric motor and open the door manually. However he did not fix it back so when I got home I could not open the garage and had to go through the house and open it manually but then I could not figure out how to get it back onto opening by the remote. Norm phoned and talked me through it and I sorted it out.

Next the ice maker in the fridge blocked up due to the electricity being off. This is also something Norm usually sorts out but I managed to chisel out the blockage and get it operational again.

I also have been plodding my way through some of the items on Norm’s honey-do list. I had been given a gorgeous bird feeder a few Christmases ago and I recently found it in a cupboard and when Caitlin and I went for lunch yesterday I bought some dried worms at Earthworx and hung it up. I can see it from my kitchen window and hopefully it will draw some interesting birds.

I have a plant which has needed to be tied to a stick to support it for ages and so I dug around in the garage and found a stick which I hammered into the ground and tied up the plant. So far it is still standing! This one long stem had grown so long and was so top heavy it was just lying on the ground. I could not bear to just chop it off in order to get it to fill out a bit as it had lots of blooms. I will cut it all back at some stage but I thought this was a good interim solution.

Josh has been a godsend as he has fixed the garage motor which kept shorting out every time we tried to open it, the landing light which tripped and various other things.

He drove all the way to House and Home to collect the headboard we ordered weeks ago but it was still not in stock! This is now twice we have driven to the shop to collect it after being told to do so, the first time it was damaged when Norm arrived and she said come back the following Tuesday to collect a new one. Unfortunately Josh was sick and could not go on Tuesday and it took over a week until he was well enough to make it through. He popped in last Thursday only to be told it was still not in stock. The reason we chose this particular head board was because the original salesman told us it WAS in stock. They have now said they will deliver it when it is finally in stock but had no date when that will be. Shockingly bad customer service.

Welcome to Africa. Not much is terribly efficient here.

Last Sunday I had my friends Caroline and Helen over for lunch.

We have all worked together on various projects over the years and we are all geeky girls who adore our animals. We talked data, dogs and cats mostly!

My dogs were barking like lunatics as there were lots of kids out in the street playing. Pixie was so annoying that I shouted ‘OK Pixie, that is enough I am getting my gun’, to which Caroline says ‘bloody Americans, I bet she goes through loads of Pomeranians.’

I laughed so much.

We have a water gun which we use to keep the Poms in check as they really detest getting wet. Pixie especially hates water and as soon as she sees the gun she has a Pavlovian type response and starts shaking the water off of her before it even hits her. It does not phase Navajo as he loves water and tries to catch the stream in his mouth.

That day I had gotten up early and tidied the house and then went to Spar to get some things to serve for lunch. I got croissants for Josh and I to have for a late breakfast. They have divine ones. I over heated them a bit, they were not so brown when I bought them but I prefer them with the chocolate melted.

For lunch I picked up loads of bits and pieces. I bought a roast chicken, some cold meats, some cheeses and fresh bread.

I made a cheese platter and used my lovely Carrol Boyes serving items.

I served salads and various ‘picky things’ which was all perfect fare for a warm sunny day. We have vowed to make this a regular event with the three of us meeting up more frequently.

Wednesday it started to storm in the early evening and the thunder and lightening were rather majestic.

Cape Lightning #storm #CapeTown #lightning

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Our dogs are not bothered by loud noises or the bright flashes of lightening but the dogs at the guest house next door are and they started barking as soon as the thunder started and they were still barking the following morning when I woke up. I think the dogs are left on their own most of the time and so no one is there to calm them when they get upset and they get upset over every noise. A siren sets them off howling like coyotes for hours.

Thursday was my last day at UCT and I had to leave at lunch time to go to the American Consulate to get my passport renewed. It was very sad to leave UCT I have been really happy working there it is a great team.

I had to get a new photo made for my passport and the American passport has a lot of rules. You are not allowed to wear glasses, you cannot smile, you have to put your hair behind your ears so that your ear lobes show and you cannot wear earrings. The US passport pics are also a different size than most other countries require. Add all of these requirements up and top them with some very unflattering down lighting, dirty hair and the inability to NOT smile when facing a camera and you end up with this clusterfeck of chaos. The photographer kept saying ‘don’t smile, look grumpy’ and so caught me pinching my smiley lips together.

I look like a criminal. I am now stuck with this photo for the next 10 years. My last passport was before the new rules and it was quite flattering.

Oh well.

After the photo I went to the Red Gallery Cafe for a quick bite of lunch before my appointment at the Consulate. I sat outside despite the gloomy weather and I ordered the chicken stir fry.

It was a massive portion and was nicely flavoured. There was so much left over I had the rest that night for my tea.

We have a 4 day weekend with two days off of work for Easter holidays.

Yesterday was Good Friday and Caitlin collected me and we went out for lunch. It has been raining for a few days now on and off and we had planned to go down to the harbour and have lunch and walk along the slipway but the weather was not being very cooperative. Caitlin wanted to buy a protea and so we decided to go to Earthworx Garden World as they have a sweet little cafe there where we could still wrap up warm and sit outside but be protected from the weather.

We both ordered the Chicken Pie and salad.

After we ate we wandered around and bought a few bits and pieces. I got a new type of succulent which I do not have, some potting soil and a new pot, I got the worms for my feeder, some stuff you put in the mellow yellow toilets to reduce the wee smell and some spray to try and stop the dogs peeing on the patio. We have a lot of pee related issues.

Caitlin came back and played with the pups for a bit and pottered around with me in the garden then headed home late afternoon. I just made myself a pizza with some left over mozzarella and the last of the salami from the previous weekend. It wasn’t fancy but it filled a gap.

Today is the Two Oceans Marathon which results in one of the roads out of Hout Bay being shut as it is actually the race route. I can see the choppers overhead following the runners.

#OMTOM2018 #choppers #houtbay

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I can also hear the voices over the tannoy cheering on the runners.

Sounds of #omtom2018

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I have the marathon playing live in the background on the telly as I write and I can hear it outside as well. I love seeing the beautiful images of Cape Town and the surrounding areas. The rain and clouds have cleared and it is a gorgeous day. I am going to pop a gammon in the oven and do some gardening today. My new succulent will be split into two plants and re-potted.

The drought has resulted in me changing the plants which have not survived without water and replacing them with succulents. You can literally just throw a leaf from a succulent into a bit of dirt and it grows. Amazing.

I am trying to get plenty of rest this weekend as I start a new client and project on Tuesday. It will be a rather intense project and I am feeling a bit stressed about it from both a logistical point of view as well as worrying about the level of intensity of the project. I am meeting a colleague on Monday afternoon to prep for the next day.

Luckily I have a friend staying with me to help with managing the dogs and the staff and everything else around the house. Like most things we just have to keep chipping away at it all until we get it done.

I am nothing if not persistent.

Enjoy your weekend. Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxo