Monday, March 30, 2009

How finite is your dinner table?

As everybody knows, it was Earth Hour on Saturday. So The Pond and I decided to invite a couple of people over for a braai. Then Saturday morning dawned, grey and rainy. So we changed the braai to soup. But this post is not about the food (although, knowing me, I'll mention it again). It's about the fact that The Pond and I do not have the ability to have a small dinner party. We just don't.

Now we do share many friends in common and, when we initially thought of our little Earth Hour shindig, we came up with a nice, short, list of about eight. Perfect to sit around the table in the kitchen. However, as the week expanded, so did the list. The thing is, you see, that both of us find it impossible not to invite anybody who phones us, or we bump into miscellaneously in the Spar etc, during the week leading up to any kind of 'intimate' dinner party. I fear that, in fact, were we not aware of the fact that the house is of finite size, we'd probably invite the lady she chatted to in the queue at the Post Office and the guy I met while reading the notice board at work... you get the picture. Sometimes the finity of the house alludes us.

Despite all this, and with three people cancelling last minute, and two people not pitching, we dragged the outside table into the lounge, moved the kitchen table in too, and had a (very) cosy, candlelit, Earth Hour soup dinner, with twenty of our closest friends. And it was great. An ecelectic mix of people, lots of chitter-chatter, laughter, wine and yummy soup, bread and cheese. So some people had to sit on the heirloom pear wood coffee table which was charading as a bench (my granny would've loved that actually), and a couple of people had to eat their soup with the measuring spoons, but nobody complained. And my nasty neighbour even turned off his lights at 8:30. He is now my not-so-nasty neighbour.

I do like the fact, though, that the dinner table in my brightly-coloured house, seems infinite.

I wonder if I'll ever have something I can refer to as an intimate dinner?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Would you mind unzipping me, please?

I'm feeling uncomfortable in my skin.

I was just thinking and wondering (as I do), whether it'd be unsuitable to unzip it, let it fall to the floor, and sit here, in the office in just my skeleton and flesh?

I suppose not.

But who gets to make up the rules of what's suitable or unsuitable in the office anyway?

Mantras and desires

Sometime during last year I watched my friend Oprah on the television. She had some friends around to chat about visualisation and intent and affiirmation and all that airy-fairy stuff. They had some people on the show who had big pieces of cardboard onto which they'd stuck cut out magazine pictures of things they wanted to happen in their lives and they looked at them alot. And got them. Or something like that. I'm not very good at paying attention and tend to lose concentration and chat through TV shows, or so I'm told (and that above description of the show seems to correlate).

Now, to me, the point of the show was to get people to pull out their scissors and glue and cut up old magazines to make pretty collages, thus taking them back to nursery school days, and possibly the simple joys in life. I could be wrong though. Perhaps there was more to it.

Okay, okay, obviously there was more. Like Oprah would ever just do a show on cutting and pasting. The whole thing was about positive affirmation so, despite my feelings on self-help books, I decided to try it. Dedicatedly. Because, after all, Oprah is never wrong.

I created my own little mantra, to be said in my head each morning on waking, sometimes even twice. I thought long and hard about this (admittedly while half-watching TV. It was a programme on lizard reproduction and how they're cross-breeding with lemurs. Hmm, maybe I wasn't concentrating on that either. Anyway, back to the point) and came up with a sweet little ditty to say to myself each morning, while thinking positively.

I must be honest though, I have not always found it easy to muster up the positivity in the early hours of the morning. Some things are too difficult, even for Oprah. But I did my best. And I did say it (nearly) each morning.

It's been over six months now and, each morning, I mantra myself while grinning (possibly slightly maniacally) in bed, then slowly open my eyes to see if my desires have been fulfilled, as Oprah promised. I tend to open one eye at a time, not to overwhelm myself on the day it happens, because it will, of course.

And yet, each morning since I started, after going through this whole process (and, no, it is not just an excuse to get an extra five minutes in bed), I open my eyes to find that my house has not been magically converted into the one in my mantra - the bricks are not made of chocolate cake, the roof is not wafers, the door handles in the kitchen aren't Jelly Tots, and the chocolate spring flowing into a meandering stream through my garden is just not there (there is more, but I'll stop there, I'm sure you get the picture). It's disappointing.

Then I turn around to check if my last little mantra-request has been granted... No, still no wings. Sigh.

I wonder if I'm doing something wrong?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trafficking it

I feel like I'm trying too hard to write, rather than just writing, so I'm going to stop that. I wake in the night and think of things to write about and then I sleep and forget, like dreams that flutter out of my window. Moths flying into the dead of night, up and away.

My drive to work in the mornings takes me past a number of schools, one of them being a Very Expensive Boy's School (that breeds a Certain Type of Priviledge-expecting Boy). All of the children being dropped at this, and the other three schools on my route, seem to be dropped individually by their doting mommies and daddies. What happened to lift clubs, the school bus, and walking to school? While that may all be a sign of the times and probably a topic for large social debate, it's not my point. My point is that it makes traffic. And this makes my trip long. And, no, it's not about the state of the world and the fact that our kids can't safely walk to school anymore. It's about me. Of course.

So, you guessed it... I drafted another letter:

Dear Headmaster of Very Expensive Boy's School (that breeds a Certain Type of Priviledge-expecting Boy),

I drive past your school each morning on the way to work (nice new pool you've built there, by the way). And, while I like to see healthy young lads being dropped by their loving parents, and feel all warm and fuzzy about the fact that their heads will be filled with highly-educating facts for the day, followed by some healthy exercise, I'd actually be happier to miss out on this. The traffic just makes my trip too long and, honestly, a little irritated.

So, I was thinking that the easiest way around this, would be for you to change your school starting time. To 6:30am or 9am - you pick which one, I don't mind either way. It's completely up to you.

Thank you ever so much.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. While I have your attention, just one more thing: could you perhaps have a word with said doting parents about their environmental impact, please? I really don't think it's necessary for them to drive around the city in those gas-guzzling 4x4s... Some of which have seen a dust road about as often as I've seen the inside of a gym (that would be: none times).

Maybe if I took out the sentence between the brackets in the greeting line I might have a better response?

Monday, March 23, 2009

My uncluttered view

From my fifth floor window I can see across the city suburbs to the mountains way on the other side. Well, sort of. You see some bright spark in the 1970's decided to build another building in front of ours (not that I was here then. Had I been, I would most definitely have put a stop to it - by standing in the way of the foundation-digging bulldozers. Or something). And, to make matters worse, not only did they build it to block my view a bit, but they built the ugliest building too. It's pebble-dashed. Need I say more?

So I've drafted a letter to the maintenance guy:

Dear Maintenance Guy,

While I realise this might be a slightly bigger request than you normally handle, it would make my working days so much nicer, so I hope you consider it carefully, and say yes. I'm sure you will, as it is perfectly reasonable, as requests go.

Could you please remove the top two floors of the new building, and the funny tower things on top (I presume they're something to do with ventilation). They're blocking my view. The only problem I could see with the whole idea would be the wind sock on top which, I'm pretty sure would work just as well if you placed it two floors lower.

Thank you so much. I look forward to your agreement, and my uncluttered view.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. Just a thought - when you do it, please make sure you do it as dust-free as possible, I tend to suffer from hayfever from building dust. Again, thank you.

I wonder if it'll work?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Storms and procrastinaton

My body is so filled with it that I fear my skin might split, straight through the middle of me, allowing it all to gush out and splash onto the hot concrete, evaporating into the clear air, recondensing into fat, grey clouds on a summer afternoon, the electricity of my emotions slamming together as lightening bolts, crashes of thunder, and then the downpour.

Oh, look, it's Sunday. And I'm struggling to make myself work on the stuff I neglected on Friday, and yesterday. Like a naughty schoolgirl avoiding homework. I feel the same rebellious, kicking-dust-with-my-school-shoes feeling.

Is that my cool bed and book I hear, calling my name, ever-so-clearly?

Silly hat and ridiculous comments

Somebody needs to take the silly hat off that Pope guy. His brain needs to be given some breathing space because it's obviously not functioning properly. While I realise he's just the frontman for a whole bunch of other old guys, I'm just clutching at straws as to what, possibly, could be the cause of the thinking behind the condom comment. Other than the tight, silly, hat, of course. But I'm pretty sure they don't all sit around the big table in The Vatican boardroom, sipping tea, chewing the fat, all wearing those hats, making stupid decisions on what public statements to make en route to the continent that is suffering worst under that crippling disease.

Now I realise religion is a touchy subject, I guess especially on a Sunday, but this post isn't really about religion, more about humanity. I work in the field of HIV and ludicrous remarks such as these make my blood boil. And as far as I can remember (admittedly it's been a long time since I went to Sunday School) one of the points of Christianity/religion is tolerance and love. And, surely, reality?

While abstinence before marriage, monogamy etc are all brilliant anti-HIV tactics, the truth of the matter is that it doesn't really happen all that often. We all have sex. Shock, horror... who would've thought? Most of us before marriage. Some of us don't get married, or wait longer to get married. And, therefore, we generally all have more than one partner, as do our partners. (And this is beside different cultural beliefs, whch, surely, should be respected too). This does not make us bad people, it makes us humans. Humans who should be encouraged from any, and every, aspect to protect ourselves from AIDS.

So any comment regarding not using condoms, especially from a 'world leader' is blatantly irresponsible and completely unacceptable. When will that antiquated system wake up, look around, embrace humanity, as we are now, and protect the very people it supposedly 'looks after'?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Waffles, sunshine and Nini

Good grief, that might've been a bit heavy for a Friday morning. I have been revived by The BFF bringing a King Cone to shmush up on a waffle. Let me tell you a little secret: this is one of my best ideas. I think possibly ever. The combination of hot waffle with squashed ice cream/sugar cone/chocolate sauce and nuts is beyond description. Yum. Now that's what breakfast is about.

And now I sit, listening to ocean sounds (no, The Fridge has not come down yet), knowing I have work to do but not feeling like doing it, looking longingly at the patch of sunshine on the stoep, thinking it'd be nice to just, well, sit in it for a bit. Just a little while you know. Not too long. It's just that this morning was the first morning with that impending winter chill-feeling and I feel like I shouldn't waste the last bits of summer sunshine. And there's always tomorrow to work. And if not, there's Sunday.

So, yes, with heaviness aside and sunshine outside and, oh look, The Fridgeman inside... He's back to hold The Fridge's hand while gently (hopefully) bringing it down. Let me away to work sit in the sun. Ah, and one of my favourite songs on the radio - I miss my friend Nini, who escaped to London for a bit. Come home now. It's time we went Spring Day delivering, singing songs at the top of our (most melodious) voices with the car radio on full blast.

"Don't waste your time on me, you're already a voice inside my head"
Blink 182, I Miss You

Sunshine? Work? Sunshine? Work?


Please note this blog carries an age restriction. It may contain scenes of violence and strong language. Parental guidance is advised.

Oh no, you don't!

Don't you dare come slinking through the dark night, sneaking through my window, slipping through the crack in my door. Please. Don't creep in under the covers behind me, and snuggle up to me, caressing my arm with your long fingers, breathing on the back of my neck. Don't make me invite you in, open up for you.

Don't whisper those thoughts in my ear, half-waking me. Please. Don't send your being coursing through my veins, freezing my blood, making my pulse race. Don't get into every nook and cranny of my body, my soul, my brain, filling me. Chilling me.

Please. Don't.

Fuck off, Fear, you bastard. And take your cousin, Insecurity, with you.

Or, is it something else?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How big is yours? Mine's probably bigger

My colleague who I share an office with is on leave. My favourite person at work (yes, you) has left to go and live in The Big Smoke. These two people are the ones who listen(ed) to my, some would say incessant, personally I prefer regular, chitter-chatter all day. I miss my favourite person at work. And I even miss my colleague (when he's here we bicker like an old married couple, and he's very grumpy). It's just so, well, quiet.

So, to amuse myself, I experimented with how big my mouth is. Think plum. And mouth. I can safely say, it's a large one, mine. Mouth that is, not plum. Although the plum, too, was of a decent size. It had to be, to be a scientifically-sound experiment. Only about 0.25ml of plum juice was wasted to the plate.

I wonder if I should try a peach next?

Aroma-induced nostalgia

My aunt sent me a bottle of perfume of the variety I used to wear way-back-when at varsity. I used it this morning for the first time (since then). Isn't it amazing how smells can bring memories gushing through you? I am suddenly in my second floor room in digs, mattress on the floor, with love-of-the-time sprawled in it. It is evening and my curtains are open, allowing the cool night air to blow in through the trees outside. I loved that huge 1800's windowsill onto the road. Sitting there was like sitting in the tree outside and I could watch the world go by. It had been an incredibly hot day and I was sitting in my knickers, one foot up on the chair, trying to finish an assignment. This morning, in my oh-so-different room in a different place and a different time, I felt my twisting conscience of that night... to finish, or join him?

Why that particular moment, I don't know, but I shall use the perfume again, in the hope that it will bring other flashbacks, of times and places and people. Looking back, it was an idyllic time. We were truly free. To love and drink and learn and over-indulge, purely on living. Of course, there was heartbreak, and hangovers and sad things too, but the overwhelming sense I have of that time is unadulterated happiness and so much love.

Here in blogland, there is a guy who is far more masterful at capturing the spirit of that time, in that place. Two of my favourites of his are here and here. So, yes, here's to a little aroma-induced nostalgia. Pass me my vodka and cream soda. Cheers!

When one drinks that heavily on life, there are bound to be hangovers, non?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fire and fragility

I'm a worry wart (or is it wort?). This is a well-known fact. In fact, I find it impossible to hide it. The people I love are exceedingly important to me (maybe unhealthily so, but I'll keep that for the shrinking couch, when/if I decide to go again). I am the one who needs to know you're home safely when you leave my house. I will phone you at 3am in the morning to check, if you don't. New people may think this is as a result of The Tragedy*, and it probably is heightened by it but, really, I've always been like this. I categorically cannot not say goodbye at the end of conversations. If I get cut off just before we're going to say goodbye, I will call back just to say it. I'm a freak. Of the common-garden-worrying variety. It's intrinsic. I like to think it's endearing, but I may, well, just be kidding myself.

The thing is, though, that I always find it amazing how quickly we forget the fragility of it all. This has all been brought about by my phone ringing at the crack of dawn this morning (the sound of the phone piercing the dawnly sounds always fills me with panic). It was just my mother (bless her) to say there were big fires in the city, traffic would be atrocious, leave early.

Then The Pond ambled through my room to use my shower and informed me her friend had just called from closer to the city with scary tales of smoke inhalation and people being evacuated from their homes. More panic. You see, The BFF lives on that particular mountain that was gushing with flames and smoke. So, yip, you guessed it: the poor boy (who'd been up half the night, what with fires and things!) had to be woken by me at about 6:17am, just to check he was okay. Normally he sleeps like the dead but, three rings in, he answered and informed me he was fine. Judging by his tone, he'd been expecting my call. Like I said, I'm known for my worry wortedness (wartedness?).

I duly checked with other loved ones in the city who live not quite so close to the edge, at a more decent hour - all good, one set had to evacuate but are back safely now. The whole thing is just a reminder of how small we really are in the nature sense, but how huge the people we love are, in the close-to-home sense (if that makes sense).

It's a good reminder though, to keep us aware of the thin line we walk on. The BFF did it to me a couple of months ago too, when he cut his hand open by slipping on a wet kitchen floor holding a porcelain mug... There's nothing like watching somebody important being stitched up while losing an inordinate amount of blood and going very pale, to remind you how fragile we are.

So, yes, a rambling post on worry warts (worts), people I love, and the fragility of our existence. In less dramatic news, my office (also being on edge of said fiery mountain) is covered in a fine layer of ash, and the air I'm breathing in, is unpleasantly smoky. Cough, cough.

Here's a pic from last night which The BFF took:

I wonder if worry wortedness (wartedness) is really genetic?

*I will, at some stage go into details, well, when I do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ghosts and dreams

I had the wierdest night last night. This seems to be becoming a recurring theme... I wonder if I should start worrying? Anyway, let's leave that point just there, this is neither the time nor place for looking into my psyche. Hmm, maybe it is. Maybe that's what this is about. Nah. Buggerit, back to the story. After being offered some really fun work, like in being-given-money-for-writing work yesterday I was, obviously, thrilled. The BFF came over and we celebrated with champagne. On. A. Monday. Night. I mean, really. It was great fun at the time, but now I have a fuzzy head and that's not fun. I will, again, blame The BFF (this is the only place I can get away with that, so I'm going to use it. Over and over. And, possibly, over again).

Anyway, after going to sleep relatively early, I was awoken by someone using the bathroom next to my bedroom. It was wierd though because it sounded like my door was shut, and the bathroom door was shut - muffled-like. Now, I can't sleep with my door (and window) shut. It gives me (more) wild dreams and makes me feel like I can't breathe. I guess it's my version of claustrophobia. So my door is always slightly open, and the window wide. The bathroom door, too, is always open.

This is getting rambling. I heard the clank of the toilet paper holder, the flush of the loo, and then the sound of the taps as the person washed their hands. Of course, I assumed it to be The Pond, and was waiting for her to come out to ask if she was okay (it was aboout 2:20am, give-or-take), but nobody came out. On asking her this morning, she announced she'd slept straight through the night. I have to assume it was the ghost. I have seen her once before, many years ago. She came into my room, stood at the door, and then left that time.

I know I sound kind of blase about this. The thing is, I get no feeling of malcontent from this thing, and I'm not really sure that I'm not just dreaming. It seems real though, and I spent about two hours afterwards thinking about it (so, yes, I'm tired, very). I often have very realistic dreams but, when I wake up, I can discern that they were dreams after thinking for a bit. Mainly, though, I got to wondering whether ghosts actually pee, and how they'd wash their hands?

Then I finally fell asleep and had inappropriate dreams about a Danny de Vito-type character who seemed to be a bit like Willy Wonka, but without the sweets, unfortunately. It was all a little creepy. The creepier thing, though, was I seemed not to be that creeped out in the dream.

Maybe it is time I gave my psyche a good old dusting?

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lift Phenomenon

Sometimes I am thrilled by human nature, other times I’m horrified. But mainly I’m intrigued. Like The Lift Phenomenon, for instance. What's that all about? I work on the fifth floor of a lovely, old building with an angel on top of it. Due to the fact that it is old, it has old lifts too. And they are somewhat rickety and can be a little bit, well, let’s just say, tardy. They're the type of lifts urban legends are made of - there are many, many stuck-in-the-lift-stories here. But, mostly, there are complaints of their slowness.

The thing is this though, why is it that people think that if they keep pushing the button (often viciously), the lift will come quicker? Do they really think that they have some super-power-like energy which travels directly from their finger tip, through the electrical wiring, to the little box that tells the lift that someone is looking for it, making the lift jump to attention, go faster to the floor that it was taking its current passengers, whip its door open and push its passengers out, and then whizz back down to pick up the impatient twit with a pressy finger and a super-power-complex? I think not.

It’s pretty obvious it’s Monday in my world, isn’t it?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The tripping fridge

I have a mild case of the Sunday Blues. Just a mild one, mind. Sunday Blues are something I stumbled upon aged 12, when I went to boarding school. It's that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. The feeling that you want to wedge a pencil between the clock hand and the clock to stop time from ticking over. The case I have now (and I get it pretty much every Sunday, sometimes cripplingly, sometimes mildly) is not anything near what I used to feel knowing I was to be dropped off back at the hostel in those early months of boarding school. Then it felt like my heart would break. It did get better though, the homesickness became a hazy memory as I got used to it.

In other news, though, The Fridge was duly fiddled with and 'fixed' last Monday. Only one problem: it was still not getting cold in its belly. This is not a good thing for a fridge, as we all know. Especially not mid-Summer. Again, I gave it a couple of days, thinking maybe it was just going through 'a phase'. Then I called The Fridgeman again. He sent two shiny new Fridgemen, bringing with them an impressively big gas bottle (sorry Ozone, again) and a welding thing. They tinkered and toiled and vowed it would be better, waving as they scuttled out of the front door.

I'm pleased to announce that the dear thing has a beautifully cool stomach. Of course, there's a but... It's making the most annoying ocean sound. The kind they play in those hippy joints you go to to have your chakras dusted. All the time. While my kitchen is fairly far away from my bedroom I can hear it in there. So now what? This can't be normal. The Fridge could surely not, due to a regassing, have changed personality into a tye-dyed-t-shirt-wearing, rama-rama-ding-ding teenager playing ocean sounds in its room, incessantly?

Maybe its just tripping on its new gas and I must just wait for it to come down? I hope so.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Full moon and sunrise

Somebody hung the full moon above my driveway this morning and then dragged it along my path to work by an invisible string, above the gorgeous grey mountain, then pulled it down, out of my sight. I thought it was very kind of them. I got to see the rabbit and everything.

On getting to my place of work, I discovered somebody had put a big fan on down in the harbour which had brought the beautiful, fresh salty scent of the sea up here so I could breathe in some ozone. Again, how kind.

Then they pushed the sun up over the mountains on the other side, which I can see across the city-filled valley from my fifth-floor office (I like to think of myself as Rapunzel, up in my turret, but without the kilometres of hair). It seems somebody had thrown a few whispery clouds about the sky too for said sun to light up and make all picture-postcard-golden.

I really should come to work early more often.

And I got that full moon bath again last night, through my window. It was really rather nice. There's something terribly satisfying about hot nights with the full moon wrapping you up in it's cool silver-blue light through the open window.

Sheesh, I think I need more sleep... Shall I stop being so frillilly prosaic and planetary now?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I might well be not-that-bright, after all

It's been a funny old morning really. I woke up having seemingly lost the ability to string a sentence together. Or, at least, unable to think of the words to put in said sentences. The Pond was kindly taking me to work as my car is going in to have it's insides checked out (it seems to be leaving a puddle of something on the driveway and it's way too young to just be incontinence). Anyway, we are quite talkative, The Pond and I but, at one stage I actually just had to keep quiet because I was trying to tell a story about paste, as in 'that stuff you use to brush your teeth with' but I couldn't find the word. Very strange.

Then, when I got into work and logged into Stalkbook for my daily fix of Scrabble moves, Stalkbook was talking to me in Afrikaans. All the links and everything. Now, while I am actually quite a fan of the lanuguage (who couldn't love a lanuguage where candy floss is called 'spookasem' which means 'ghost's breath'), it does seem a bit in-your-face of Stalkbook to just decide to do that, of it's own accord. It provided for some sniggering from me though (still being unable to string sentences together, I am limited to making noises, like sniggering, or grunting). My one friend became a fan of a band and, in Afrikaans, he's now going to be an 'aanhanger' of Sugardrive. Snigger. Literally translated, that means a 'hanger on'.

Good grief, and this post was supposed to be about those damned massive mosquitoes again. It's a funny story really. So I took everybody's advice about getting an anti-mosquito weapon. Putting some thought into it, I remembered that, in fact, I did own one of those pluggy-inny-anti-mosquito-poison-emitting-things. It was just a matter of finding it. So we rumbled around and looked in all the normal pluggy-inny-anti-mosquito-poison-emitting-things hidey holes, with no success. We even looked behind The Fridge (which, by the way was fixed on Monday but it still seems to not be getting terribly cold - I fear it might be getting to that age. You know the one. When The Fridge needs to be 'sent to The Farm').

To cut what could become an awfully long story short, we eventually looked in my bedside cupboard to find it snuggling cosily between a very old cellphone recharger and a Barbara Trapido book. It was lit up by the light behind me, like a ray of sunshine through the clouds and looked positively, well, heroic I guess.

So, on Sunday I dutifully went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the massive mosquito family would happily buzz off elsewhere, leaving me at peace. But no, at approximately 2:03am (give or take a minute), I awoke to hear one, two, and then the whole blooming chorus. I swear I could hear them setting up the choir stands, drinking tea, breathing in the poison quite happily and chatting in their high little mosquito voices before practice. And then practice began. It sounded like they were doing a Beatles medley of sorts this time.

Monday I decided to persevere, thinking maybe it was just some freak anomoly on Sunday night, and if I tried again it would be better. No such luck. This time at about 1:24am (and please remember, it's full-moon-periodical-insomnia-time for me anyway right now). I spent the awake hours listening to them most productively wondering if I dressed up in a mosquito suit when sleeping, they'd leave me alone.

Then The BFF came over last night and I whinged at him about my problem (a sound, I'm sure, not unlike the mosquito choir). He picked up the offensive plug, looked at it, and said "You need to put a pad in it". Bugger. It's supposed to have the little poison-emitting pad in it. I was happily 'sleeping' with it, sans the poison. No wonder the massive mosquitoes weren't perturbed by it. Hmph. And... blush.

So, yes, a funny old morning. I wonder where I could find a massive mosquito suit to use as pyjamas?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Here on the tip of Africa we're a month-and-a-bit away from general elections. It's an exciting time. I am one of the lucky ones in this country to have voted for the first time in our miraculous and awe-inspiring first democratic elections in 1994, having just reached voting age. It was an electricity beyond compare as we joined that queue on that day, a happy, laughing bunch of students with such bright horizons. I stray though, this is about this one coming, not that one. In fact, it's not really even about this one coming. It's about something I saw.

Back to my setting the scene... So, yes, the electioneering is in full force, our lamposts are strewn with posters of politicians each in their chosen 'election-emotion' pose. You know the types - the friendly-efficient-Supermom type, the slighty-stern-morally-correct-Christian-value type, the fatherly-smarmy grin type (that one gives me the heeby-jeebies - he looks like someone my mother warned me not to take sweets from as a child). The slogans accost you on said lamposts too, over the radio, and the TV is choc-a-block full of debates and roaring people, making (many empty, I fear) promises of alleviating poverty, improving education and empowering the people.

So, I was on my way home from work last week, in that post-work kind of daze, where you see things as if you're looking at a photo album. It's not a continuous movie, rather a book filled with stills - the squirrel in the park, sitting on it's haunches watching the traffic, the old lady waiting patiently at the pedestrian crossing, the large truck with "Empower Asphalt" written on the back... What? Double-take out of reverie. Empower asphalt? I looked back to check and, true as Bob, on the side it said "Empower Asphalt". WTF?

Now this, I thought to myself, was taking it a bit far. Asphalt? We needed to look after asphalt's rights now too? Children - yes, I understand that; animals - absolutely; old people, all of the rest of us - sure. But asphalt? And my mind wandered to men made of tar picketing outside court, holding up boards saying things like "Asphalt has feelings too - Stop walking all over us" and "It's hot and dirty out there - More road cleaners for Asphalt". I even got to wondering what food one would serve at the AGM of the Ashpalt Empowerment Party (AEP)?

At that point I shook my head and looked back at the truck. It was parked happily beneath various other political posters on two lamposts, with their slogans, it's back filled with little squares of pulled up tar next to the donga they'd dug to fix some pipes. It wasn't a political slogan after all.. just a wierdly electoral company name.

I wonder if I need to get out more?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Karoo, desolation and spirits

I love the Karoo. It has a sense of enormity that is breathtaking. The sky goes on forever and you feel like there is just so much air. Like you can really breathe. Not that I'm saying I don't breathe here in the city. Of course I do, otherwise I'd expire (not being some superhero who can take in oxygen through my pores or anything), but it just seems easier there, in the wide expanse of the desert.

It was there, in the middle of that desolation, that I broke, and perhaps that has something to do with it. A chunk of my freedom is flitting about there, an angel flapping in those vast amounts of air, flitting around amongst the scattered clouds. Maybe it's her that I like to go and visit, to see her swirling high above.

Nieu Bethesda. Turning off the tar and driving along the dusty windy road towards it makes my insides squelch and my heart contract with joy. I can't explain it except that it just feels like I'm home when I'm there in that secluded little valley, once home to Helen Martins and still home to her house and garden filled with concrete creatures and owls.

Going into the house, you can feel the spirits flitting about it. Her story is not one filled with happiness and her decoration of her father's room is testimony to some serious childhood pain, but the rest of the house certainly gave me the feeling that this woman had joy in her life.

So, yes, although I only went to that little place in the middle of the desolate Karoo for the first time when I was 31, it just felt instantly like home and I' ve been back, but I long to go back and spend a proper amount of time there. Just breathing, and watching the clouds float by in that enormous, neverending sky. And stroking the velvetty noses of the donkeys there.

I wonder if I'll ever have my own donkey?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hot, hot, hot

It's Friday, which means I get to do my 'other job'. It also means I get to stay at home and work in my lovely orange kitchen with my Big Black Dog and Litte Siamese Princess and Big-boned Tabby all frootling around beneath me. Today, however, they are looking as listless as I feel. Reason being that it is 38 degrees celcius. For the second day running. Big Black Dog, in fact, is lying very unladylikedly spread-eagled with her tummy against the cool(ish) orange kitchen wall.

While the idea was for me to have Fridays off to pursue my other interests, of the paying kind, I find that, often, I use it to pursue all sorts of other 'other interests', like waffle-eating or tea drinking with other lucky souls who don't have to be in an office on Fridays. This means that my 'other interests' (the paying work kind) land up being done in early mornings before real work and evenings after real work. Which is fine too. On a value scale, waffle eating is way up there toward the top.

This is going to be a rambling post I fear, my brain is slightly melted. Not yet liquid but kind of the consistency of melted chocolate. And, surprisingly, one of my appliances broke yesterday. "Which one?", I hear you all chorus.

No, not the oven, so I can still cook that delicious casserole to fill our tummies and give us comfort on this icy (38 degree celcius) day.

No, not the stove, so I can still cook the rice to go with the casserole to fill our tummies and give us comfort on this icy (38 degree celcius) day.

No, not the microwave, so I can still make minted peas to go with the casserole to fill our tummies and give us comfort on this icy (38 degree celcius) day.

Not even the kettle, toaster, washing machine or waffle maker. The heaters are all in perfect working order.

The Fridge broke. The poor thing is sitting hotly in the corner of the kitchen, also looking listless. It got defrosted and cleaned out two days ago and has never recovered. Half of the little freezer section at the top is beautifully frozen (Only half though. Said peas are huddled with the fish fingers and ice-cream in that corner, cringing away from the warm side) but the fridgey section (a.k.a. The Fridge's tummy), harbouring all the lovely cool juice and water and beer is warm. Like in 38 degrees celcius warm. Not that we're all gagging for icy drinks on a day like today, no, of course not. It's hot chocolate and gluwein for me. All the salad stuff and other things that like to stay cool got shipped off with The Pond to her place of work which just happens to be the home of friends of ours too. I waved them all goodbye and wished them well in their new home, all the while thinking how nice it would've been to have a cool and crispy salad for lunch.

So, here is sit, oh-so-patiently supping on lukewarm tap water, waiting for The Fridgeman. I have a horrible feeling I might be breathing in CFCs too and destroying my very own ozone layer (not to mention the big one that we all share). I hope he comes soon.

In the meantime, I think Big Black Dog and I will take ourselves outside and spray ourselves down with the hosepipe.

I wonder if I should take The Fridge out too, poor poppet?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Disturbing dreams and tragedies

I awoke out of an inappropriate dream this morning. Very, very. I can’t tell it here, lest I get locked up in a very tight white jacket. Let me just say that it was an extremely disturbing mix of adult sexuality and childhood naivete and involved somebody, well not unexpected, not even unsuitable (he'd probably be the most suitable, if he were present), but just, kind of weird feeling. I am SO not ready to acknowledge those sub-conscious thoughts. Yet. Moving on swiftly.

Those monstrous mosquitoes I spoke about before? Yes, well, they’re thriving. Despite the fact that The BFF came over to play last night and killed approximately four thousand two hundred and twenty six (give or take a couple), after he left, the rest of the family (and boy, do those guys know how to breed) came out to play.

The Pond (she who is so wise about sore wings, and vodka) has moved back into my house for two months between leases and I was (quite cruelly I realise, but dire circumstances excuse such behaviour) hoping her sweet blood would draw the bastards away from my room, and to hers. Not happening.

Needless to say, I had plenty of thinking time. So I got to thinking about tragedies (as one does in the dead of night, while listening to Beethoven’s 4th being buzzed at you by a choir of mounstrous mosquitoes, or was it Nine Inch Nails? I can’t be sure ). Not like in the Shakespeare version, but more the common garden version. Not that tragedies could ever be ‘common garden’ really, but you get what I’m saying.

So I got to wondering if each of us gets to experience one great tragedy in our lives or some people get away with none. I suppose it’s all in the context. What’s a tragedy for one person is not really a tragedy for another. I’ve had mine already (well I hope I don’t have another big one, that one was enough for me). I broke, literally and a bit later figuratively and I still can’t tell you which of those was worse. I’m not sure I’m completely fixed yet. Okay, that’s a lie. That sentence order is wrong. I’m completely sure I’m not yet fixed. Hmm, this is a longer story than I thought. Let me leave that one there.

There was also some discussion last night on the fact that, in this life, you may be paying for the sins of previous lives or those of your ancestors, which could explain hardships (and tragedies). I struggle with this concept. I am of the belief that, when we die, our souls split up into tiny silvery pieces that fly about and land themselves in everybody we’ve ever known or touched. That’s how our characters build as we get older.

I just don’t like the idea that what I do wrong now will have to be paid for by my ancestors or future lives. It seems unfair, and horrible. So I think I’ll stick to my philosophy for now.

I still wonder though, if some people are lucky enough to get away tragedy-free?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An elephant

Oh dear, it seems I have no head for work, and now Frank has started something with the paint application, and thinking of Babar made me all elephant-befuddled, so here's another picture. Of Babar, before he left the jungle. Behind a tree (I couldn't work out how to draw an elephant's tail). And a hot sun.

And now, with my mind all elephanty, it's brought back the memories of my mother telling us the story of The Elephant's Child, who lived on the banks of the great, grey, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees. My little child mind seriously thought it was her own story (she did make up the most wonderful stories too - flower children, we had curtains with them on - story for another post). until we read it at school!

Ah, how to coax my mind back to work I wonder?

E-mails and elephants

I do some work for people who live over the sea and have a different e-mail ,which The BFF kindly created for me, which I use for this work. They're quite big files that fly back and forth over (or is it under? I try not to think too hard about the whole internet concept. It makes my brain hurt to work out how stuff can be, well, so instant) the sea. This morning it just wouldn't send.

I did all the usual - wrote my message, attached the files and clicked the little Send Button. The lovely little star thing came up with a message saying "Sending message" while the points of the star twirled prettily. I pressed the button again. The star twirled some more. So I pressed it again. The star continued twirling... For ten minutes. After that, I picked up my phone, whinged at The BFF (of course, it's his fault) and he contacted the administrators or techies or whatever pimpley youth deals with such problems.

Pimpley youth replied with:

Hello The BFF*

The user is logging into the mailserver successfully so the only reasons for the delay in sending are either that it's a large email (and the user keeps pressing the send button while it is being sent) or that they have a sluggish internet connection.
In order to troubleshoot, I will need to know the size of the email and the email address it is being sent to.

Kind regards
IT-guy* Babar
Tech Support

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Babar! Like in that wonderful book, Babar The Elephant. I loved it as a child. So I chose to dump my e-mail woes and went in to read up on it. Turns out Celeste, his wife, was his cousin. Horrors! I just love the fact that children's books are filled with little quirks like that.

Anyway, I ignored IT-guys insinuations that I was repeatedly pressing the send button, and that my computer is sluggish (I get very protective about these things) and, instead, drafted this e-mail:

Dear IT-guy,

I see your surname is Babar. Are you related to the Elephant? I was very close to him as a child. Maybe we should be friends too? Only if you are related, of course. Otherwise we probably have nothing in common - you being an IT-type, and me not.

Anyway, let me know.

Shiny x

I wonder if he'd reply if I sent it?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Please hold... Ding-a-ling

My mind is abuzz with a VIQ (Very Important Question). It is one of those things that, with finding an answer, we could affect billions worldwide. It could change the course of history. Understanding that answer and the machinations of the psychological workings behind it could bring universal peace (and possibly solve world hunger). Okay, maybe Im over-exagerating a tad. It could just stop my mind buzzing. And reinstill my patience.

Why-oh-why do people put doorbell music on their phones for you to listen to while on hold? I'm sure I'm not alone in not really wishing to listen to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in those dulcet doorbell chime tones, followed by an equally toneless version of "Guess Who Died On the Bus Today, Doo-Da" (or whatever the real words are) and so on, ad nauseum, through the five different songs. And back to "Twinkle Twinkle".

The thing is, I am adamant that I don't wish to. What was wrong with the good old ringing tone? Or, even better, just silence? I am generally rather a good, cheerful phone person (I spend a lot of time on the phone - work, not social. Ok, social too, but lots of work) but, make me sit through a five-minute doorbell aria, and you''ll find me short-tempered and grumpy on the other end. And singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to myself.

Buggerit, how to do I get that song out of my head?

Monday, March 2, 2009

That privacy thing, again. And a sheep.

I've been tagged by the lovely Frank. The thing is, though, that I'm not sure I want to do it. Because I'm silly like that and am so conscious of my privacy. I say I'm silly because I know that the only people who read this, are people who know me anyway but, well, ja. It's Monday you see, and it's one of those Mondays where I'm feeling squirmy and unsure. Go figure.

So, what I'm supposed to do, is take a photo of myself, and then draw my version of it using the Paint application, in only 12 strokes. It's quite fun really, but nothing can convince me this morning to just blatantly reveal my identity. I like being Shiny in this sphere. Just Shiny.

I really like Frank though, and would hate to hurt his feelings so I drew a sheep using Paint instead. In 12 strokes. I like sheep and they're one thing I can draw to look (vaguely) as they should. While I've had many delusions of grandeur regarding my artistic talents, I have had to admit that I'm no Picasso. As simple as that. I'm okay with it though. Really, I am.

So there it is. A sheep, standing in the sunshine, on some lovely green grass, beneath a vast blue sky. I hope it satisfies Frank.

Other than that, I'm a bit sad today. A friend has moved away to a town on the other side of the land. And now it feels a bit empty here. And I don't feel like being in the place I am right now. And my sister was here visiting with all her joyous happenings and now she's gone back to The Big Smoke and I miss her and her joyous happenings already. I would say I'm pre-menstrual, but I'm hoping I'm not because, if I am, it's going to be a long haul!
I wonder if I should worry that I chose to draw a sheep?