Hold The Guavas

Last week was a four day work week in South Africa as Friday was a public holiday. It was National Women’s Day. It commemorates the events on 9 August 1956, when more than 20,000 South African women of all races staged a march on the Union Buildings in protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the “pass laws”. In South Africa, pass laws were a form of internal passport system designed to segregate the population, manage urbanisation, and allocate migrant labour. Also known as the natives law, pass laws severely limited the movements of not only black African citizens, but other people as well by requiring them to carry pass books when outside their homelands or designated areas. Before the 1950s, this legislation largely applied to African men, and attempts to apply it to women were met with significant protests. Pass laws would be one of the dominant features of the country’s apartheid system, until it was effectively ended in 1986.

I celebrated the day with my friends Melodie and Bronwyn. We jumped on the bus in Hout Bay at about 11am and went into Sea Point. We got off on Main Road and strolled along popping into any shop that caught our eye. Bronwyn bought herself a gorgeous pink cardigan and bought the same one for me in a stunning bright blue. It is so soft and feels lovely against your skin.

It is an early birthday present. I am very lucky and felt so spoiled.

We stopped at Mojo Market where there are loads of different food stalls and live music.

We had not had breakfast so we ordered a cappuccino and donuts.

They make the donuts to order so they are hot and they are lovely and crispy outside. You can have them sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar or with hot icing. The icing comes in vanilla, chocolate and caramel and I asked for a bit of each. Wow those were sinfully delicious.

After we finished we walked down to the promenade by the seaside to Winchester Mansions. It is a gorgeous Cape Dutch building with a lovely sea view.

We were seated on the front patio looking out to the ocean.

My selfy skills need work.

Mel ordered chicken wings and wedges and Bronwyn and I both ordered chicken strips and chips.

The serving was huge but the chicken was moist and tender and the batter crunchy. It was very nice. If this was a ‘light meal’ the portions of their mains must be unmanageable! I was very impressed.

There was a sweet baby redwing starling which hopped up onto my handbag and begged for food. It was the sweetest. I love birds and this little guy seemed almost tame.

We had a lot of laughs. Bronwyn was telling a story about an interaction with someone and said that she almost ‘kicked her in the guava’. I had never heard that term used to describe someone’s lady bits and I laughed myself silly. We then somehow got onto the subject of mushroom soup and I pointed out that it smells like semen. These two discussions gave us a lot of amusement.

After we had finished eating we strolled back up to catch a bus, but the stop for the one we needed was back on Main Road so we walked around to that stop. We waited ages and when our bus came through it was so full the driver did not even stop. After standing in the cold wind for about 20 minutes we gave up and booked an Uber.

The rest of the weekend was pretty chilled and relaxed. It has been sunny but cold. I put Panda out on the front porch so he could get some fresh air and sunshine.

Sunday it started raining again. Last week it rained on and off for most of the week and was very cold. We had fires most evenings.

We have had a busy week and ended up with takeaways for dinner several nights.

I had a prawn yiro from Spiro’s with loaded chips.

It was very tasty and the home made pita bread is one of the best I’ve ever eaten. It was quite silky in texture. The yiro came with feta and tomato saganaki sauce as did the loaded chips. The sauce was divine. I enjoyed it very much.

I had pizzas a few different nights. I had a Regina pizza from Massimo’s one night.

And I had a Mexican pizza from Cassarechio.

They are very different styles of pizzas but both are nice. Massimo’s is more like the pizzas you get in Italy but the one from Cassarechio was tasty too.

Norm cooked a delicious dinner on Thursday night. He grilled fillet steaks and halloumi cheese, fried sweet potato rounds in butter and served it with a baby spinach and rocket salad topped with pomegranate seeds. It was all perfectly cooked.

Panda has made more progress this week. We took him to see a Physio to see if he is ready for hydrotherapy. She did not think he is quite ready but she gave us some additional exercises to do at home with him. He is trying so hard. When you lift him he’s trying to stand, he puts his legs out straight to hold himself up. Norm even managed to hold him up so he could pee. He practices wiggling and scoots his body from one end of the bed to the other.

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Physio time ❤️

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Despite my relief at Panda’s progress I had a high anxiety week. I have had an intense headache and palpitations for weeks and finally on Thursday I reached the limit of my endurance and booked an appointment with my GP. He did a test where he asked questions about my stress and anxiety and determined I had moderate to high anxiety. He discussed my options and we agreed that I should try a daily dose of anxiety / depression medication as I could not take the Ativan on a daily basis as I had been doing recently. He also gave me something for my headache which has now improved.

On Thursday there were protests in Hout Bay at the harbour. The protestors were upset that they had not been paid. Who was supposed to be paying them I’m not sure and why they had to cause obstacles for everyone who lived in the area I am not sure. Many of these protests make no sense.

There was another truck petrol bombed in Cape Town this week. I also don’t understand who can be benefiting from this. There have also been a series of cars stoned just off the motorway.

The death of Ivan Ivanov that I blogged about recently has led to the implementation of a new team of guards on Table Mountain. I hope that they make a difference and make it safe for people to use the parks and mountains without so much risk.

With so much chaos and ineptitude in our country I find it farcical that the government is attempting to implement a National Health Service (NHI). They should focus on resolving the current problems before attempting such a huge transformation.

Many of the government hospitals are in dire straits so they have to sort that out before they have any chance of it being a success.

Norm and I have started watching a new series on Netflix called The Family.

It is as fascinating as it is worrying. It is about a secretive Christian Conservative organization in Washington, D.C. called The Fellowship Foundation, aka ‘The Family’. It outlines how they infiltrated the Washington political scene and the power they wield. I really recommend it.

I hope you all have a fabulous week. Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

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Do Turkeys Have Totems?

This week crime has been predominant in the news. We read about three policemen being shot in Delft, one of the areas which has a high incidence of gang related violence. One of the policemen died and the other two were seriously injured.

This happened despite the recent deployment of the SANDF (the army) to help with the gang issues.

I also read that Shoprite, one of SA’s largest retailers, has implemented its own crime squad due to the high numbers of armed robberies they have to contend with. Apparently the chain has at least one a day!

Closer to home, on Saturday over the neighborhood watch radio we followed a chase of 3 criminals being pursued through Hout Bay. An Ukrainian tourist, 44 year old Ivan Ivanov, was stabbed multiple times in a struggle over the theft of his backpack. He was on a walking trail very near our village and was only a short distance from the public car park for the hiking trail. The tourist died.

I have heard that 80% of the crime in the Western Cape province is committed by people who are either on bail awaiting trial or are on parole from a crime. I wonder whether the perpetrators of this murder fall into that statistic? One of the three murderers was apprehended but two are still on the run.

Another tourist was robbed of his bags on the beach in our village and a woman was attacked while walking on the beach this weekend. Keri Cross is the Director of Community Crime Prevention (CCP) and she said the woman was out walking around noon when she was attacked on a trail just above Sandy Bay nudist beach.

Fortunately, another walker heard the woman’s screams and rallied the troops.

Cross said Hout Bay has about 820 cameras at different locations and the CCP Watchcon control room could track the suspect’s every move.

“Alerts were immediately sent out on all channels and a number of service providers and volunteers sprang to action to try to find the suspect. The chase lasted for over 90 minutes, with the suspect managing to evade response teams a few times. Shortly after 1pm, OmniVision Security spotted the suspect on CCTV along the mountainside and response teams moved to intercept him. The suspect was cornered, taken into custody and handed over to SAPS.”

As one of the key industries in Hout Bay is tourism these types of issues could be catastrophic to our village.

A study by the Western Cape community safety department has revealed some shocking figures, showing why the province seems to be losing its fight against violent and gang-related crime.

Nearly half – 45.8% – of Western Cape detectives have not received even basic training, while over 90% have had no specialised training.

Speaking to 702 Radio, MEC for Community Safety, Albert Fritz said, “Of the 875 cases monitored during the assessment, 380 dockets just did not arrive at court – this is completely unacceptable. When dockets are received, they are often incomplete, leading to cases being struck off the roll. Eventually, in some of the very serious crimes, like gangsterism, they only get a 2% conviction”, said Fritz.

This is shocking but not surprising. A skills audit done in the SAPS (SA Police Service) revealed that many officers are illiterate and that over 1000 policemen have criminal records themselves. Corruption is also very high within both the police force and the government.

Basically, in summary, we are fucked if we rely on the police for safety.

It made me so angry that the police were up in arms over the shooting of the officers in Delft and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole has vowed to stop at nothing to get the killer(s). Why are the police not as irate over the crimes and murders visited upon us every day citizens and visitors?

In Hout Bay, the majority of the criminals are apprehended by our amazing network of security providers: Hout Bay Community Policing Forum (CPF), Community Crime Prevention (CCP) various volunteers, and Watchcon coordinating it all with the police only acting as bit players. I am so grateful for the selfless individuals who rise to the occasion and risk their own safety to protect others.

“Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said Hout Bay had one of the best neighbourhood watches in the city. It’s extraordinary, the speed of the action. They have really mastered the art of crime-fighting and what we call plural policing where they combine Law Enforcement, SAPS and private security companies. They form a line of people, and if you’re a suspect, you can be sure that they will catch you, brilliant people doing excellent things,” he said.

Meanwhile life goes on.

I mentioned in my blog last week that I made a curry last weekend which we had for dinner on Sunday. I tried to keep it low carb and high fat, but we did have a few cheeky poppadoms which I just microwaved.

For the curry I fried onions, red and yellow peppers, chilis and garlic in curry powder and coconut oil and once done I used my hand blender to liquidise it. I fried cut up chicken breast in coconut oil and curry and various other spices then once cooked I added a bag of butternut chunks, more spices and a bottle of passata then let it simmer all of Saturday afternoon. I fried another onion, added cauliflower rice and loads of coriander to serve it over instead of traditional rice. I also stir fried a bag of baby spinach, then liquidised it with some cream and some spices. It was delicious and was enough to last for dinner on Monday night too.

On Tuesday Norm cooked a recipe from our favorite low carb site but we were not very keen on this dish. It was incredibly, overwhelmingly meaty and not very flavorful.

We won’t try that one again.

On Wednesday evening Norm had a meeting at Massimo’s and brought home dinner for us. I had tapas: pepite (fried polenta bits with truffle salt and Parmesan), calamari and fried baby artichokes. It is all high in carbs but I am addicted to these gorgeous polenta bites.

It was all so delicious. I had never eaten baby artichokes like those. I liked them a lot!

On Thursday we tried out some of the offerings from the new menu recently launched at Spiro’s in Hout Bay.

I had 2 of the prawn skewers priced at R60 for one or R110 for two skewers and there are 3 prawns per skewer. You order your side dishes separately and we ordered hand cut chips and loaded chips and shared them.

It was all very tasty and I loved the Greek version of loaded fries. I wish them much success with their venue remodel and new menu.

Friday we also had yet another takeaway and I chose sushi from K1 in Hout Bay.

I had crab salad, tempura prawns, salmon roses, and cucumber roses topped by prawn. It was all very yummy but I have noticed that their portions have gotten smaller. They used to give 4 tempura prawns instead of 3, the crab salad is about half the size it used to be and there are now 3 pieces of sushi in a portion rather than 4. Every restaurant appears to be struggling but once customers feel they are not getting value for money they will go elsewhere so I hope this reduction in value doesn’t affect them.

I cooked last night. I baked pork chops, fried red cabbage in balsamic and made fondant sweet potatoes.

I had a bit of drama with OrderIn this week for lunch. I ordered buttermilk chicken tacos from Knead Bakery in Wembley Square. The app provides a status of the delivery process and the status was sitting at ‘accepted by the restaurant’ past the time when I had been told it would be delivered. I sent a query on the app to ask whether there was an issue but I received no response. Finally after over an hour the status updated to say the food had been collected from the restaurant and the driver was on his way. I tracked his journey via the app and when I went to collect the food I asked him what took so long. He said he needed air in his tire. Umm what? It took an hour and a half.

When I got to my desk and opened the box the food was in complete disarray.

The OrderIn description said it came with salsa, a sriracha sauce, cheesy nachos and slaw but none of these things were included. The food was ice cold and incredibly dry. There was a small container of an incredibly sour, disgusting sauce which I could not stomach.

On their menu it is described as: BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN TACOS R95. Buttermilk marinated chicken breast coated and deep fried with tangy slaw, fresh salsa, creamy coriander dressing, fresh coriander, avo & radish.

But on the app it says: Buttermilk marinated chicken breast coated & deep fried with tangy slaw, fresh salsa & sriracha mayo in a 4×10 mini taco served with a side of cheesy nachos & sriracha mayo dip.

I wrote to OrderIn customer service and complained about the clusterfeck of chaos. In their defense, Knead admitted that the dish no longer comes with nachos and the description on the app is wrong and that they had inadvertently sent a vegan sauce instead of the promised sriracha sauce. Poor vegans.

Knead offered to give a free replacement meal the following day so I agreed to give them a second chance. OrderIn said they will credit me with 2 free delivery fees as well.

The food arrived and the driver was surly and short, obviously he was annoyed that he did not get a tip as I hadn’t ordered or paid, it was done by the agent dealing with the complaint. But the food was warm and intact and came with the correct sauce.

It was very tasty but I found a small bone in the chicken. I won’t order from Knead again despite their efforts to compensate me. It literally left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The weather has been a bit crazy this week, bringing a lot of much needed rain.

On Monday when I got into work I realized I had left my mobile phone in my car. I park almost half a kilometer away and it is still dark when I get to work so I was not keen on going back to get it. As I work in a dangerous area and I knew the phone could be seen once it became light I was worried my car would be broken into and my phone stolen.

Walking back and forth again resulted in an almost 1.5 kilometer walkathon before I could start work. But it could have been worse if it had happened on any other day as the weather turned on Monday afternoon and it started raining on my way to my car that afternoon and we even had a bit of thunder and lightning on Tuesday night. We built big fires every night to keep the chill out.

Despite the weather I had two hair raising incidents driving. One morning I was in a long queue of traffic and due to the rain and mist I left plenty of space between me and the car in front. As I neared Bakoven a SUV came flying up onto my rear, flashing his lights and swerving around me as if to overtake. There were cars coming on the other side of the narrow coast road and there were cars in front of me, so there was nowhere for me to move to and nowhere for the psycho driver to go if he got around me. I eventually got fed up, slammed on my brakes and gave him the finger out of my window and he backed right off.

The same day on my way home I was stuck behind a bus which was going slowly, but the road is very dangerous so I settled in and relaxed. Next thing in my rear mirror I see a fancy SUV racing up on the wrong side of the road, overtaking a long queue of traffic and then overtaking the bus on a blind bend. If a car had come around the bend it would have taken out me, the bus, and countless other cars. For the gain of at most, fifteen minutes.

The roads are full of arrogant arsehats.

We have had some progress with Panda’s illness. He is starting to get stronger and can hold his head up longer. He can even lift his head up from a side leaning position which shows his core strength is coming back. His bark is also getting stronger.

When I come home from work I am greeted by his yips, wiggles and happy smiling face. We still have to try and decipher his whines and barks. This week he was moaning a lot and squirming and we tried everything to settle him. Eventually Norm picked him up and put him on his lap.

Next Panda lets out a giant loud burp. He obviously had a bit of trapped wind is why he was so unsettled.

Norm has continued with putting him in his walker even though he cannot move around yet, but it gets him used to the walker.

Navajo is so protective over little Panda.

He had a busy day yesterday as Norm and I attended a fundraiser for CCP. I had told them when I booked that we would have Panda with us and when we arrived at Dario’s they had reserved a table for two people and a dog.

So cute.

Our table was out on the patio.

Norm held Panda so he could be a part of the social aspect.

The set meal included a coffee, orange juice and champagne, 2 eggs, 3 bits of bacon, a potato rosti, stuffed tomato and toast.

We popped Panda down on his bed while we ate.

There was an adorable baby French Bulldog sitting next to us, I love this breed. Look at that face!

After we finished we headed to the shops to run some errands. On our way home we saw that the new skate park was full of people skating.

It is lovely that the kids in the community have this venue.

We gave Panda a bath when we got home as he was starting to smell like an incontinent geriatric’s underpants. It took us both to do it as holding him and washing him is not easy since he cannot stand and he has tons of hair! We dried him with the blow dryer after. He smells so much better and I’m sure he feels better.

Last night Norm and I watched A Star is Born.

I loved this film so much! I adore Lady Gaga and also enjoy Bradley Cooper. His affected voice and accent was a bit annoying but he has a nice singing voice and of course Gaga was fabulous. I give the film 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Tonight we are watching Bohemian Rhapsody during dinner and I am really looking forward to that.

I had mentioned that the girls and I had bought my Mom a voucher for her birthday and she went shopping and bought some Chanel perfume with her voucher.

Look at her cute little smile. I love that we found a way to treat her despite being so far apart.

Work is slowly moving along. We had a BI department meeting and we were given a lot of information from teammates who had attended several recent conferences. I was rapt as I am always eager to learn new info.

It was a bit distracting that the guy behind me talked throughout the entire meeting. Ironically he is one of the people who has so much to learn. He also spends our smaller team meetings on his phone.

Why is it that those who need education the most are those who are the least eager to learn? Or is that why they need the education? A chicken and egg sort of situation?

Conversely my other colleague (the one who reads out loud and verbalises everything he types) is curious about everything. He has the most obscure conversations with me. He said to me that my bone structure reminds him of the ‘Red Indians’ on television. I had never heard Native Americans called this until I moved to Europe. It is a colonial term freely used there and in South Africa. I find the term incredibly offensive. I told my colleague that it is not politically correct to call us that and that I am of Cherokee origin. He obviously read up about my lineage and the next day he said ‘so do turkeys have totems?’ I said to him I did not understand the question and then he said ‘oops I meant Cherokees’.

That made me giggle. I’m happy to discuss things with him however as he is inquisitive and eager to learn. Even though he called me a turkey.

I hope you all have a great week. Until next time, Kisses From The Kitten xoxoxo

Protected by Women

The last week or so the vibe in our village has been a bit tense after the recent protests that resulted in the roads in and out of our village being closed and 5 men being murdered.

Community Crime Prevention (aka CCP) posted an update the day after the 4 taxi drivers were shot to reassure us that our concerns over our safety were being addressed:

“6 Vehicle Control Points held in the course of the day and 8 taxis impounded. 14 traffic warrants served and 3 arrests made on outstanding warrants during vehicle stops. Strong Police presence along with Traffic/Metro/Law Enforcement continues.”

There has been a heavy police presence all week.

I have had a few of my international readers asking me about the background to the taxi violence and I have found an article to explain it which you can read HERE but in summary it is that there are 2 different taxi associations who are fighting over the right to use the lucrative Hout Bay to Wynberg routes. There are many people in Hout Bay who use the african taxis and the difference in cost between the government run MyCiti buses and the african taxis is supposed to be about R14 each direction per day according to the people I have spoken to. This is a lot of money to those who are paid so little.

Last Friday there was a meeting in Hangberg (a suburb in Hout Bay) which was meant to be a forum for all of the political parties to speak to the voters and it started peacefully enough but it erupted into a brawl and was eventually called off.

Today the police minister Bheki Cele was due to arrive in Hout Bay to address various issues. The police were out in force.

However I saw on social media that this visit triggered another protest. I later read that the protest was local students, specifically organised by the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and I cannot find anything online regarding this protest in Hout Bay specifically, but the march was held across many areas in South Africa. The students have stated that they ‘want the Education Department to improve the school’s infrastructure and implement a safety programme to rid places of learning and South African streets of drugs.’  I also read that Cosas is raising concerns over the violence, the sexual assault of learners by teachers and the need for the provision of sanitary towels in schools.

Below is an update on the outcome of the meeting with the Police Minister.

Throughout all of the chaos and nonsense, the rest of us have to keep on with the requirements of living life.

I had a phone call from my gastroenterologist to tell me that the results of my biopsy were back and that it was all clear! Such a relief. The medication he has given me for the heartburn is working well and my reflux is minimal. If I avoid overeating then I am  mostly okay. If the meds do their job then hopefully I will be able to avoid having another op. I had a bit of dizziness on Wednesday when I went back to work but that has  gone away. I think it was from too much caffeine. I do not cope well with excessive caffeine.

Norm has been looking after me as always. He made a delicious dinner on my first night back at work last week. He made chicken sausage fried with mushrooms which he served with sweet potato mash and baby spinach. It was so yummy. Sausage and mash is such a warm cozy homely meal.

I cooked on Thursday night and made tacos, one of my favourite foods. They are so quick to make when late home from work.

We got sushi from K1 on Friday and I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried some different items.  I had salmon roses, prawn nigiri, crab salad and tempura prawns. It was all so delicious. This might become my new normal.

We had takeaways from Spiro’s one night last week, I had crispy squids and chips and Norm had chicken souvlaki. We love Spiro’s and it is one of our fave take away spots, the portions are big and the prices are reasonable and the food is consistently good.

We also had takeaways from Massimo’s one night, I had the creamy prawn and crab granchio pasta and Norm had the fritto misto that was on special and both were delicious.

On Saturday I had to buy a birthday gift for Bronwyn so Norm and I popped into Culture Box at Oakhurst Farm Park in upper Hout Bay to look for a gift as I wanted to support our local shops and designers. They had some lovely things and I finally settled on a gorgeous thick, soft black scarf which will be perfect for winter. They wrapped it in tissue paper and put it in a bag for me so I did not have to wrap it.

Norm and I then went off down to Hout Bay village to find some lunch. We decided to try the new Famous Bean Cafe which I had not yet been to.

It was overcast but still warm enough to sit outside and we found a nice shady table on their patio.

I had heard good things about their burgers and the menu said they are hand made patties so Norm and I both ordered the ‘Famous Burger’.

It arrived on a wooden serving board with a little bowl of fries.

The burger was OK, but only just OK. I far prefer the burgers from Dario’s personally. I also ordered a chocolate milk shake but it was not nice at all. It was more milk than shake and the ice cream used was not nice, it tasted quite artificial. Maybe I am spoiled by the amazing hand made Italian ice cream at Ice Dream? Hout Bay has some brilliant restaurants so the owners of Famous Bean Cafe will need to up their game if they want to survive. All in all I give my experience at Famous Bean 3 Kitten Stars and that is mainly due to the attentive and chatty waitress who served us and the free WiFi. I will give them another chance however, I will go for breakfast and see how their eggs benedict stand against the other venues in the bay.

Norm and I popped into Woolworths and did a shop of bits and pieces we could heat for an easy dinner as we had such a big lunch. We bought chicken samoosas, mozzarella arancini, sesame chicken, asian slaw, potato salad and beetroot.

We spent the evening relaxing surrounded by the animals. Navajo chilled at my feet with his head on the footstool. He is such a beautiful boy.

On Sunday I met up with Bronwyn and a few of her other friends to celebrate her birthday. We met at Kirstenbosch Gardens which is such a beautiful special place. It was a hot day and the gardens were very busy.

Norm dropped me off as I intended to have a wee vodka or two and I met up with the other ladies at the gate. We went into the gardens and managed to find this little secluded area under cover of the trees and we set up our little camp and put out all of the goodies Bronwyn had bought for us to feast on. She had brought loads of gorgeous freshly baked breads, salami, pepper ham, parma ham, brie and several types of cheese, lots of dips and spreads and pate as well as crisps and cupcakes. She really spoiled us!

I had brought a jug of vodka, apple juice, soda and passionfruit cordial and Bronwyn had brought wine and champagne.

We posed for some funny photos which had us all giggling like school girls. We did a cheesy album cover shot draping ourselves all over the giant trees that were sheltering us from the sun.

Then we straddled a different tree and did a sort of human centipede shot.

Several of us tried to master a group selfy but only Bronwyn had any measure of success.

We spent all day there and finally wandered home around 5:30pm, I for one was a little tipsy from my vodka concoction. We had such a wonderful day chatting and munching and I so enjoyed spending Bronwyn’s special day with her and such fabulous women and our one token fella (he was the photographer and is not in the pics I posted).

Our little spot was like a magical fairy garden, it was such a divine special area. I love the energy you get by being surrounded by ancient trees and I also gained energy by interacting with the less than ancient humans sharing the fairy garden with me.

We talked about all manner of things ranging from who would make up the perfect dinner party if you could invite dead people, to the ideal table of living hot men. We touched on the foolishness of the young, dissected the traditional gender based roles of men and women in society and how we ignore these stereotypes and apply our own rules in our own relationships, and we discussed the physical and emotional abuse suffered by so many women all in the name of what masquerades as love.

Angie raised a very salient point about how so many of the abusers are protected by society, by other women or even by the victims themselves. Society tells women they should be grateful that they have a man, any man, regardless of how he treats ‘his’ woman. So many african families will tell the wife that she must do as she is told and bow to the needs of the man. If the man wants a houseful of children, even though he is unwilling to work to feed or clothe them, the wife must accommodate his wishes. This pattern of subservience is also still prevalent in many Afrikaans families so it is not restricted to race. It is prevalent in most countries within many races and religions.

Silence may be the only protection offered but sometimes that is all that is required. Whether the silence is there out of fear of reprisal, or just due to the gaslighting that occurs to the victims, the end result is still men literally getting away with murder or with ongoing repeated abuse. Does this silence make the victim complicit in their own abuse or is it just a symptom of the victim hood?

Last week the mother and step father of a child who was systematically tortured and abused until he died were both sentenced. The courts have called the child ‘Baby Daniel’ for the sake of anonymity of the mother’s other children.  The step father has been sentenced to life in prison, while the child’s mother was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. The judge said that the mother was guilty in that she did nothing to remove the child from the reach of the step father. The report from a social worker states that the mother was a victim of sexual abuse and physical abuse as a child which resulted in her making poor relationship choices and violence was normalised for her.

As a survivor myself I feel some level of sympathy for her. I know that I also made many poor life choices due to the damage of my childhood and I also made poor relationship choices which led to more abuse, first being engaged to a man whose emotional abuse convinced me that I was so ugly and stupid that I was lucky to have him as no one else would be interested in me, all while trying to lead me down a path of drug addiction, a road he was very familiar with. I managed to get out of that relationship but then ended up marrying an angry, violent man. However I could never have stood by while anyone harmed my children. My children’s father did not abuse them, he only directed his violence towards me. Once my son was old enough to witness the abuse something clicked in my head. I still remember it very clearly, we were living in LA and one night while I lay on the floor having been thrown across the room, I looked up to see my son standing in the doorway. He was less than 2 years old and I was pregnant with my second child. I then realised that if I did not do something to change my circumstances that my children would grow up with this violence as the template for their own relationships. I stood up and picked up my son and put him back into his bed. I then calmly walked up to my ex-husband and I told him that if he ever laid another hand on me and did not kill me, that I would wait until he went to sleep and I would bash his head in with a brick. He later told me that he could see in my eyes that something had changed. He never hit me again after that. He still abused me emotionally and played power games with me but he never laid a hand on me until many years later after our divorce. I am proud to say that I stood up to him that time as well. Part of the issue with abuse is the loss of power, the helplessness associated to being a victim. Not everyone has the strength of character or the confidence to break these chains.

Obviously Baby Daniel’s mother did not. I feel so much sadness for Baby Daniel, for his mother and for the other children from that family. I hope that the other children are able to get counselling to help them heal from the horrors that they have seen or experienced themselves and can break that cycle in their own lives.

As for his step father, I hope that karma deals with him in the manner he deserves.

Hold your own loved ones close and tell them that you love them.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x

 

Covens and Crises

We have been blessed with a bit of cool refreshing weather and even quite a bit of rain.

After the intense heat of the previous week I was walking into my office one morning and I was feeling jaunty as the cool air felt wonderful and I was so pleased about the rain. I encountered several street people as I always do. There are several homeless shelters near where I park my car. The sight of these men dragging along their sodden bedding and looking so cold made me feel so sad for them. Some of them have mental illness issues, some are addicts and some are just unlucky from circumstance.

I thought about the times when I was basically homeless myself but the difference is that as a middle class white woman, there were always friends I could rely on for support. I could couch surf or even sleep in my car if I did not have an alternative place to stay. But for the majority of destitute Africans, this is not an option. The majority of Africans live in small shacks which may have several people living in them with no couch to surf. Most people who live in shacks or on the streets may not even have a car as a back up place to provide a safe dry place to sleep.

I cannot imagine how hard the lives of the homeless must be. Having nowhere warm or dry to sleep, nowhere to store your meager belongings. I walk across the city every day and I see entire families sleeping on the streets. It makes my heart so sore.

I have had a few high anxiety days the last few weeks and I have tried to note the conditions which may be triggering these feelings. One is sugar, on the days when I had oatmeal with a banana in it for breakfast I had high anxiety levels mid-morning. The second trigger appears to be caffeine. If I drink the free coffee the client provides then I am twitchy and anxious. It is from a machine which grinds the beans so it must be a stronger bean than the single shot lattes I have from the cafe next door.

Often we can manage our issues by observing our triggers. Internal observation is not something that comes easy to most of us however, whenever I suggest to friends and family that they keep a food diary to try and identify what triggers various responses or pains in their body they seem to look at me like I am tripping. However that process requires ownership of our problems and most people seem to prefer to just take a pill rather than change their behaviour.  I hate the dozy feeling I get when I take anti-anxiety meds so I would rather try and understand the root cause of the issue. Maybe that is my Virgo analytical nature coming through?

The other issue I have been having is with my stomach. I had a hiatal hernia repair in 2007 and am now having symptoms which tell me it is back. I have chronic heartburn and reflux that wakes me up several times a night. On occasion I have a pain in my upper abdomen. I know I need to go to a gastroenterologist but I am hoping to wait until this current project ends as I suspect I will need some time off work and cannot bail on my client.

I have been feeling quite low all week as I had another instance of someone I thought was a friend very clearly sending me the message that we are not friends. Again, some people only consider you useful when you can do something for them. If they need something they contact you without hesitation, but then drop you when it is convenient. I suspect I am quite naive, to me if we act like friends, then we are. But to others they have no problem with being superficial if it suits their needs. I do not have it in my nature to be superficial, my feelings are worn on my sleeve. (Not very Virgo like is it?) If I do not like someone I am unable to hide that and if I do like someone then I want to hang out with them. Seems quite straight forward to me.

My client and I are still getting along great, he comes and asks me for advice on decisions that have nothing to do with me as a consultant, it is quite flattering that he respects my opinion. We had a funny conversation this week when he came to tell me that he has been accepted to do his PhD at a University in Arkansas. He was pronouncing it ‘Ark-kan-sus’. I told him that ‘Kansas’ is pronounced ‘Kan-sus’ but when you add the Ark it is ‘Ark-an-saw’. Now imagine this convo with a french speaking African who only learned English in his teens. It was quite funny.

It was my client’s birthday last week and when I discovered he is a Pisces I was very surprised as that is the opposing sign to Virgo and they are usually too sensitive for my abrupt and uncensored points of view but he and I get on great and we actually seem to balance each other out quite nicely. I told him that is because he is my client and I am on my best behavior. He gave me a look that said ‘if this is your best I don’t want to see your worst’.

Lily and Josh came down last Friday afternoon and Caitlin came over to join us that evening for dinner and a visit. We ordered take away pizzas from Posticino in Hout Bay and really enjoyed them. I hung out with the girls downstairs while Josh played video games upstairs and Norm faffed around being Norm. Lily was sad that she had to leave Toothless with a cat sitter as he was too small to bring all the way to Cape Town. She is so in love with that kitten. He is adorable.

It was so nice to see my girls, I wish Trevor could come visit but Josh and Lily were down for a wedding so that would not have worked even if Trevor could get away as the road closures for the Cape Town Cycle tour made life rather complicated.

On Saturday afternoon Lily and Josh went to Kalk Bay to the wedding that they were attending. They chose to use AirBnB for the night as it was cheaper than using an Uber to get there and back from Hout Bay and they knew they would have a drink or two and couldn’t drive back. The bride looked stunning, she is a gorgeous girl.

That night Norm collected dinner from The Blue Lotus. I had a portion of salmon roses.

I also had the crispy chili chicken with fried rice.

I really enjoyed it all but I always order the same thing and need to broaden my horizons in regards to their menu. I am a creature of habit.

Norm cooked for us a few nights this past week and last Wednesday he made a delicious chicken and mushroom dish. He fried the chicken and mushrooms then added double thick cream and some stock to made the sauce. We served it over creamy cauliflower mash and to go with it he stir fried green beans and mushrooms in garlic and butter. It was so tasty.

Another night he baked pork chops and served them with roasted butternut and the rest of the packet of green beans.

As always we had take aways a few nights, we had food from Spiro’s and Casareccio too. They are two of our usual take away faves.

We had a few random visitors this week. One evening as we were heading off to bed I looked up and noticed a rather large spider on the bathroom ceiling. We never kill spiders and so Norm caught him and took him out into the garden and released him.

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Then a few days later a wee birdy flew into the house and settled on the curtain rail. I cannot tell what type he is but he has a hummingbird type of beak? Is he a sunbird? I am not sure and the pic is not the best (Norm’s work not my own usually dreadful pics). Here is a link, have a look and let me know what you think?

On Sunday my friend Carol came around to help me decorate my drumstick. It is still not finished as I want to re-lace the padded end with red waxed string and I need to also add waxed string to the top and bottom of the section with the beads, but I love the effect so far.

The colours represent the colours of the Native American medicine wheel. The Four Sacred Directions are represented by the colours yellow, red, black and white. Blue represents Father Sky in the upper realm, Green represents Mother Earth below, and purple represents the self, that spirit that journeys in this physical world.

It was a nice relaxing afternoon. I had invited Carol for lunch but the whole village was rammed due to the cycle race and the road was closed so Norm had to go to Constantia as the shops in Hout Bay were empty so we ate quite late. He brought back a roast chicken and some salads and we all had a yummy and easy lunch.

That night we were lazy again and Norm got take aways from Massimo’s. I had the Granchio pasta which was on special: real flaked white crab meat, prawns,
mascarpone, a hint of chili & garlic. It was absolutely divine. The cream sauce is so light and not too heavy (I detest a thick slodgey sauce) and the prawns were delicate. I really enjoyed it.

We chose Massimo’s as it meant we did not have to drive into Hout Bay itself as it was rammed with visitors for the race. But I wasn’t considering that I was at Massimo’s the following night too. But it is one of my fave restaurants in Hout Bay so I did not mind.

Monday night I was invited to join an all women quiz team representing Community Cohesion who do amazing work in Hout Bay and the surrounding areas.

We met at Massimo’s at 6.30. There were 8 women in total and we called ourselves the Community Cohesion Curvaceous Covenettes. That is a lot of C’s at one table (pun intended).

We had such a laugh and to make it all the more exciting we won!! We all got a bag of goodies from the Richard Bosman range. We received a packet of Prosciutto, some unsmoked bacon, a piece of chorizo, a jar of bacon jam and one of bacon salt. I was happy just to have the laughs but to get to go home with these treasures made it an amazing night.

Our table also won 2 of the raffle prizes, a bottle of wine and an overnight stay for 2 people. Our clever little coven of beauties did well!

The next morning I was feeling a tiny bit hungover from the vodkas consumed the previous night. I slipped out of the bedroom in the dark as usual but when I got to the gate to go downstairs it would not open, the key wouldn’t go into the lock. I had to wake Norm to help and after much fiddling he managed to unlock it. The dogs and cats all had to get involved though and poor Naked Norm had to dodge Navajo’s attempts to shove his cold nose up his bum, avoid a dancing Pixie who was needing a wee and tripping over little Lola kitty winding around our legs while Panda yipped excitedly to cheer us all on. I was so glad it happened when Norm was here to deal with it as I would have panicked about not being able to get out.

Then when I finally managed to get downstairs and went dashing through the garage in the dark, the cord from our hoover grabbed me by the leg and I stumbled and careened around the garage and almost broke my neck. All this while slightly hung over from our quiz event (well it was actually from the vodka not the actual quiz).

Then when I got home last night I was sitting watching telly when it suddenly went off. I went out and checked the fuse box and the plugs had tripped. Water seems to be getting in somewhere and it is tripping the earth leakage thingy (she says vaguely). However once I switched the fuses back on, the internet would not start up. Our main router is based upstairs and we have a repeater downstairs to boost the signal to allow us to watch Netflix on the telly downstairs. It would not connect, I could not get on the internet to play games either. After running up and down the stairs flipping and resetting everything a million times I finally managed to isolate the issue. The power tripping had blown the downstairs modem. Norm had spent several hours trying to get hold of our service provider Sonic Wireless but first the phone just rang out and then they would answer, put him on hold and then disconnect the call. Every time we have an issue they are useless. They usually dismiss any queries by telling you everything is fine on their end (their first line of support ‘it’s not me, it’s you’). You have to send screenshots of the download speed tests to prove we are not getting the bandwidth or speed that we pay so dearly for. As soon as fiber rolls out to our street we are changing over to someone else (anyone else would have to be an improvement!).

Then today when our dog walker arrived he could not get into the house as his remote did not work. He also said that the alarm was not on. That meant that Navajo could not get out for a wee if he needed to. It also meant the house was not secure. I assumed that the electricity had tripped again and I was worried about our freezer full of meat melting and arriving home to puddles of dog wee so I left work early and came home to sort things out. That sounds nice but it just means I have to work late to make up for the lost hours as I cannot work from home.

It has been a stressful week so far other than the laughs and giggles we had on Monday. Thank goodness for the coven!

At least my week can only improve, right? Let’s hope so as my whinging is annoying even me!

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x

Home Sweet Home

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

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

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

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

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

Our last week in the US was busy yet relaxing.

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

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

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

This is Raven, Joy and I.

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

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

At midnight there were fireworks across the lake.

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

Norm and he became great friends.

We had a lovely time.

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

It was bitterly cold that day.

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

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

Norm and Mom had the quesadilla.

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

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

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

Norm had a burger.

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

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

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

It is right on the Tennessee river.

Joy and Tim drove down to join us.

We enjoyed getting to see everyone again.

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

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

Joy, Tim and I all had the shrimp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later that evening Warren and Anita popped by to visit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

The Evolution of a Hermit

This has been a week of great sadness and tragedy interspersed with brief moments of happiness.

Norm was away on business from Sunday afternoon until late Monday night when Caitlin was kind enough to go and collect him from the airport. Normally for such a short trip he would just leave his car at the airport, but his car is still in the garage. I am so worried about what it is going to cost. Just one part was quoted at R18k from the Opal dealer but the garage managed to find the part second hand in a scrap yard but I am sure the bill will be a bit scary as there were major problems with the engine. It is over 10 years old and that is somewhat to be expected.

The tragic news started to come in on Monday when I woke and saw that over the weekend my friend from back home in the US had lost her home in a fire. She has small children and this must be so incredibly traumatic for them all. There is a Go Fund Me account for the family and if you are in a position to donate I would be most appreciative. The link is HERE.

Then on Tuesday we heard that our friend Anthony, or Flying Ant, as he was affectionately known, had fallen to his death in a paragliding accident. Norm knew Ant well as they were both very involved in security patrols and responses in our little valley. They sometimes had coffee together and Norm had a lot of respect for Ant. I did not know him very well personally but I have often used his aerial photography in my blogs and would see him out and about in the village. He even took my son up in a tandem jump a few years ago.

As Ant was so young and well respected this has hit the village hard. I cannot imagine how his widow Bev is coping, they seemed to be a couple who were truly in love. This was not the first marriage for either of them and from personal experience I know that marriages a bit later in life can result in very strong bonds, you both know what you want from a partner when you are a bit older. From what I have heard Bev also lost her first husband in a tragic accident. It is just so sad and heartbreaking.

On Wednesday night everyone in the village agreed to hold a tribute and light a candle on our balconies or in our windows to show our sadness and respect for Ant. Norm and I participated.

I hope knowing how many people were grieving for Ant brought Bev at least a small comfort.

To add to the tragedies swirling around us, I contacted a friend this week only to find out that she has just had a double mastectomy! The family had kept it private and she only let me know after the fact. I then read on Facebook about a childhood friend in the US who lost his wife this week from cancer. It is a horrid disease.

I also read about another friend from school who is in hospital with pneumonia.

So much sadness and tragedy.

But our lives must go on, we must try not to get too overwhelmed by the sadness.

Work has been very intense as we are wrapping up our deliverables and on Wednesday  I had nothing to take for my lunch and I used OrderIn to order from Knead. I chose the BBQ Pulled Pork Taco @ R82.00. The pulled pork was nicely done, the food was intact when it was delivered and I have no complaints about it. It was tasty. I wasn’t too keen on the tzaziki sauce rather than sour cream, but hey ho, it did not kill me.

It was really warm on Wednesday when I got home from work and so Norm cooked dinner for us on the gas grill. He made fillet steaks and corn on the cob on the braai and I made a salad for us with cucumber, tomatoes, avocado and feta cheese. It was all delicious.

Norm finally received his police clearance certificate in the post, he needs it for lodging his application for a spousal visa. He had applied for this certificate months ago and had rang the post office as it had not yet arrived. He was told by the post office that there was a major backlog of post sitting in containers in Johannesburg. Apparently this Post Office backlog happens every year.

Yet another example of the gross incompetence prevalent in our state owned enterprises.

On Thursday night we decided to braai again as we still had corn and salad fixings so Norm bought some chicken sausage and cole slaw and we had that for dinner.

The one bright moment in our week was that we have decided to go to the US to spend Christmas and NY with my Mom and family. Norm has to leave the country as his visa runs out and so we decided we might as well just bite the financial bullet and go over. We will pay it off throughout the year. Life is too short to worry about finances. It always works out in the end. I am trying not to think about the 33 hours of travel to get there, I am not good with flying and the whole experience stresses me but I am trying to focus on the end goal of time with family and friends.

Norm and I have decided to make more of an attempt to be sociable. We realised that we have become hermits. When we first met over 20 years ago we were both big party animals. In fact we met in a bar, doing tequila body shots! Then once we were married we were out most nights either at the pub, out dancing or on a mad bender. In Northern Ireland we often just had open nights at home where I would cook a big pot of chili and anyone who wanted to pop in could do so, we would play music, sing, and have a laugh with whomever popped in to join us that week. We were also very social when we lived in England.

When I moved to South Africa I was on my own for a few months and so I was trying to make a social circle in my new country and I would go for drinks after work with my new colleagues or just go off exploring with my friend Mandi who was also living in Hout Bay when I emigrated here. Then when Norm joined me in SA we were often out for drinks during the week and on most days over the weekends. Then when my daughters moved in with us to attend Uni we preferred to spend time with them and we started staying in more for family time. We eventually ended up becoming almost reclusive and only going out if invited to join others, seldom organizing anything that did not involve just our family or one other couple who we often hung out with. Then my daughters moved out, my friends’ marriage broke down and Norm and I continued our pattern of rather staying home with the animals and being cosy on our own.

With our new determination of getting out more we went down to the village on Friday night after work. I had seen that there was live music outside at The Vine so we decided to check it out.

When we arrived the patio at The Vine was rammed with people and kids and Norm was struggling with his allergies so we thought that sitting under a tree outside might not be the best solution for him and we decided to rather have dinner at our friend Spiro’s restaurant next door. We were early so we had no trouble getting a table.

I did not manage to Ninja a pic of Norm and so we get a pic of his grumpy face.

Spiro was working the crowds and he brought us some snacks to occupy us while we waited on our food to arrive. Norm ordered the Biftekia for R145 which was like a big meatball with feta cheese inside and he really enjoyed this dish, he said it was something he will order again. If he has salad instead of chips it is low carb.

Sorry about the typically dreadful nature of my photos, it was dark and I am blind.

I had a few dishes from their meze menu. I had the Naxos for R65 which is the greek equivalent of cheesy onion fries. I love these, they are crispy and full of yummy flavours.

I had the crispy squids for R70 and the chicken livers which are in a creamy sauce and come with wedges of pita bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

We were so full up that we could not be tempted by the dessert which Spiro was trying to get us to try so we compromised and took home a slice of the Baked Baklava Cheesecake that Spiro and Julie’s daughter Mary had made. It is so divine and delicious. We had planned to share it later that night but someone (me) greedily ate it all when someone (Norm) was not looking. Oops.

We decided to watch a film once we got home and we watched Outlaw King which is a film about Robert the Bruce.

I have to confess I fell asleep but the bits I watched were very good!

On Saturday we had a busy day planned and so we were up and out early. I had a hair appointment booked for 10 and Norm dropped me on Long Street and shot off to the V&A Waterfront to run some errands and shop for the braai we were attending later that afternoon. We recently bought a new printer and it has decided it likes to eat paper and has proceeded to do so for every item we try to print. So he had to return that and he also had some other things he needed to do.

I had my hair coloured, cut and blow dried and when I finished I messaged him and he came back to collect me and we headed off to the Northern Suburbs. (I dunno why I capitalised that except it is feckin far away.)

We were invited to a housewarming party for Sue, a woman I first met on Twitter years ago but have only met in ‘the flesh’ a few times. But she is a nice person and we are being sociable so off we went! Norm had picked up a poinsettia for a house warming gift, some drink for me as he was driving and some healthy snacks and some meat as Sue was providing the salads and breads. We managed to find her new house with no issues, it is such a charming house! She was very lucky that she had very little to do to be able to move in, it is modern and airy and was nicely maintained by the previous owners. I did not know anyone else who was attending and I am so socially awkward when it comes to meeting people. I quickly got a cider down my neck to assist me with that challenge and everyone was very friendly and welcoming and we met some lovely people.

Then a guy named Stephen arrived a bit later and when he was introduced to me I just felt an instant kinship to him! He and I pulled up chairs in the shade in the garden and started chatting away. Within 5 minutes we had found a common friend, there was far less than 6 degrees in that separation. I mentioned Hout Bay and he said ‘oh do you know Melody Diamond’ and I said ‘YES I love Melody!!’ And he explained to me that he had met Melody via a Facebook group page and that Melody had been so helpful to him, this group had set up a Go Fund Me account which raised money to get new teeth for Stephen as he had a gum disease and his front teeth all fell out. He was depressed and struggling to get work and this group did so much to help him. His teeth look amazing!

Stephen and I realised we had lived very near each other throughout several of our moves – we both seem to have itchy feet! It seems we circled in each others peripheries for years until we finally collided in a garden in Durbanville.

I also had a long chat to two young people who were there whose names I did not catch and after talking for so long it is then too awkward to ask! But we talked about so many things about spirituality, energy, positivity, religion and shamanism. It was a lovely afternoon with good food, good conversation and I really enjoyed it.

Usually I am terrible at small talk, I find there is a fine line between being friendly and being overly intrusive and I am not good at walking that line. As an only child I am not very skilled at making friends so I usually find these situations painful. But maybe because Sue is also a bit of an introvert, her friends are also of that nature and so we were all in the same awkward boat, but whatever magic was at play, it all worked.

We left late afternoon as Norm had to walk the dogs and our house alarm had been going off all afternoon as the wind was insane. We had the security company pop in so knew there was no safety issues but we did worry about the neighbours who had to listen to our alarm.

We decided to watch a film last night after we got settled in and we chose The Ballad of Buster Scruggs as it is a Coen Brothers film and we enjoy their work.

It was a series of short stories revolving around life in the old West and what a challenge it was just to survive. It is a black comedy full of irony and if you have an aversion to tragedy this is not the film for you to watch, however it seemed the perfect end to our tragedy laden week.

Life is just a series of happenstance occurrences and we are all lucky to get out of it alive.

Until next time, hold your loved ones close and tell them you love them.

Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x

UTC 2 UCT

This week has disappeared in a blink of an eye. I guess the new project means we don’t have any time to waste and as we are focusing so intensely the days pass quickly. I have so many gaps in info from the client but I need to leave time to document it all so it’s a balancing act to take time to obtain the info and still leave time to knock it into a decent deliverable.

I had a ditzy moment last week when I set up my new client email account and was then confused when someone sent a meeting request for a slot in the past. The client heard the discussion with my colleague when I said I set my time zone to “UTC” time. The client pointed out I’m at UCT not UTC and that UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time, not the actual University where I was. I felt a right eejit.

Then I realized that why I keep saying UTC instead of UCT is that I grew up near Chattanooga which is where University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is located. No wonder my brain gets dyslexic.

On Monday Norm only got to the shops after I got home so it was quite late and he wanted something quick and easy so he just grabbed some fish cakes and veg. He stir fried the veg and baked the fish cakes. He made fresh cole slaw to go with it.

Norm has also been busy with work. Not having a car has been awkward for him. On Tuesday he has both Cordelia and Mzudumo here working. Cordelia gets paid monthly so that is no issue but Mzudumo is paid daily as he only comes once a week. In addition to the cash Norm also has to come up with lunch for them both. He usually nips out to the bank and gets them chicken to cook or a pie and chips or something but this week he managed to put together a big plate of bits and pieces from fish cakes to left over veg so he coped without shopping. However he needed to get to the ATM so he trotted off to the closest shops with Navajo. It’s not very safe walking on our roads but Navajo is a great guard dog. Norm just had to make a plan and so he braved it.

On Wednesday we heard that there were some traffic issues near the circle and then we heard that the police station was shut. Eventually we heard that a policeman who was on duty had killed his wife then shot himself. So sad! I hope they did not leave any children behind as that would be so heartbreaking for the kids to lose both parents to such violence. RIP to them both, I assume the husband had to be mentally ill to do such a thing. Once again women are treated as property of their partner, with him feeling he has the right to do as he wishes.

That day we also heard that there had been a second bus fire. This time it was in Khayelitsha. If the buses are not being torched then the trains are! It is a nightmare in SA if you do not drive and have your own car.

Wednesday Norm was trying to piece together dinner from our almost bare cupboards. He had chicken and mushrooms and carrots. He opened the chicken to find it was off. As he had already chopped the vegetables he decided to pop down to get chicken rather than scrap it all for a takeaway. He bought noodles and a sauce and it was yummy.

One night we had takeaways from Spiro’s but I did not snap a pic. I had yummy little crispy squids. Norm had chicken souvlaki.

This week we discovered Norm’s visa runs out on Christmas Day. We toyed with the idea of going to see my Mom for Christmas but the flights were R40k so that’s impossible at this point. Norm will pop into the UK on his own sometime before the end of the year. It’s so annoying that we have to keep doing this while they mess him around.

I also received a text message that my drivers license is ready. Three messages in fact. The problem was that message 2 came hours before message 3 which came hours before message 1 so it was illegible nonsense.

Luckily I managed to decipher it once the other messages arrived. I’ll pop by next week to collect it. Dreadful prison faced photo and all. 🙄

Speaking of an inability to manage communications, I’ve had weeks of harassment by my bank, FNB. The law has changed so as an American citizen I have to submit a tax return, even though I’ve not earned there in 30 years. Not only that I have to go back and submit for several other years. What a waste of money for me to pay a US tax man to file just to confirm that with the exchange rate my salary is below the level which mandates filing. Nonsense.

Anyway the bank is sending me emails and text messages over and over telling me to complete the forms they sent me which I filled in and returned last week. I finally emailed to complain and they tell me I did not submit a different form! Nightmare.

This week I ordered lunch from Tigers Milk via OrderIn. First my order was ‘stuck’ for 20 minutes and finally the restaurant picked up the order. That is the one good thing is you can track it each step. Eventually it arrived. I had ordered taquitos. They were described on the menu as ‘TAQUITOS | (V) Crunchy tortilla fingers filled with nacho cheese sauce, guacamole, refried beans, sour cream and Pico de Gallo”

I lived in LA so I know my Mexican food. I expected something like

->See sexy tacquitos <-.

Instead I got this globby, cold, gooey mess:

The FLOUR tortillas were filled with microscopic amounts of cheese and not even heated, just rolled up and then the toppings were thrown on top. I expected them to be separate. Like fajitas. Or lightly on top of CRISPY corn tortillas. The dish was very sour, I’m not sure what that was about. I barely ate it. It really was exceptionally revolting. There was nothing nice about this dish.

It was a gorgeous evening on Friday and after I got in from my appointment at the chiropractor I sat on the balcony upstairs by my bedroom.

Norm and I fancied some live music and a bit of a night out. We knew there was music on at The Lookout Deck on Friday evenings so we went there once the dogs were walked and fed. They had a duo performing which we had not heard before.

They sang some very cool songs, but did not always get the right key. But they did ok. It was so beautiful there as the sun was setting.

We had seats right by the harbour.

I ordered a vodka with passion fruit cordial and lemonade. At home I have soda but when out I hesitate to order with soda as some places are light on the passion fruit and it’s too vodka-y for me. Our waiter says ‘that’s like a sweety’ and I wanted to tell him to bring my drink and hold the sass. Cheeky fuck. Annnyyywayy.

I fancied a bit of Sushi and ordered my usual salmon roses.

The salmon was fresh and tender. It was excellent.

I had ordered a prawn and avo starter but they were out of breaded prawns (which means they are frozen 🙄). I changed to the starter portion of fish cakes and ordered chips to go with them.

Norm chose the fish and chips.

We did not stay too late, we had another drink then headed home. We are such home bodies.

We have started a new series we are both really enjoying called ‘The Last Kingdom‘.

I love the visuals, the costumes are absolutely amazing. I tried to find the designer but googling just brought back a load of geeks moaning that the costumes were not authentic because there was insufficient embroidery on the tunics, or their swords were the wrong length, or the helmets were the wrong time frame. Give me a break. They were a visual treat full of fur, leather, chain mail, and all manner of interesting designs. I loved them! But I guess to a history nerd it would be as annoying as it is to me when medical shows do silly things like have a patient on a spinal board sitting up. To each their own bête noire.

On Saturday Norm and I left home at 10.30am and headed off to collect some fresh pastries from Martins Bakery.

We then headed over to Caitlin’s flat. We bought Banting pie and rolls, croissants, muffins, fresh milk for coffees and ham for the croissants. Caitlin put out cheeses, jams, butter and other bits and made us all coffees. Her friend Carmel was down from Johannesburg so it was nice to see her. After she left Norm got busy on his handyman duties. He put up a smoke detector.

He hung up 3 photographs and two mirrors in her bedroom.

The cats kept a close eye on things.

After he finished what she needed done we headed off to Constantia to the shops. We then came home to drop our shopping.

Around 4pm we headed out to Zur Holzbucht to pop in and have a drink to celebrate my friend Annie’s birthday.

There were a few people there whom we already knew and we met a few other interesting people. It was a lovely sunny day and we were seated out in the beer garden.

It was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Everyone was quite merry.

Things escalated quite rapidly.

We did not want to get stuck hanging around too long as that leads inevitably to drinking too many and Norm was driving. Later we heard there was a roadblock with a breathalyzer so I’m glad we were sensible.

We popped into the Indian Oven for a Curry on our way home.

We had saag aloo (aka spinach and potato), spinach bajees, cauliflower rice, naan bread and poppadoms. I had butter chicken and Norm had chicken korma. It was delicious.

We had a quiet night in and watched a few more episodes of The Last Kingdom.

Norm made us brunch today once we finally got out of bed.

He made cheesy scrambled eggs & bacon, he served it with some avocado and tomatoes.

We have had a somewhat lazy day with me doing admin, playing games and blogging and Norm has been working. I wanted to do some gardening (aka poking about in my pots) but it’s really warm outside so I’m lying low inside where it’s cool.

We just passed the halfway mark on the project so this week will be plugging our knowledge gaps and getting our deliverables finished and reviewed. Wish me strength as I think I’ll need it!

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxo