Unplugged 2019

3 weeks.

No cellphone.

No social media.

No Whatsapp.

No laptop.

Heaven.

Detoxing from my daily online life was not a walk in the park. It caused tremors and withdrawal, but it ended in utter relaxation and freedom.

Of course, getting back to work today and firing up the old Mac was a little anxiety producing, but it turns out that, as I thought, nothing earth-shattering had happened.

I indulged in time with my little nuclear family without all the drama of mobile phone holiday tunes _ ping, ping, ping PING!

We played board games, we hung out, we went to the movies, we went canoeing, some of us went ziplining (not me), we binge watched Netflix series and we found out that we all quite like each other.

Who knew.

I hope that your holidays were happy, peaceful and fun and that this year, you’ll find some time to unplug too.

It’s my birthday!

Birthday

37 years ago today the world was gifted with me.

How terribly conceited is that?

As I get older my birthdays get better.

Gone is the stomach churning terror no-one would come to my midwinter birthday party.

Gone is the mid-twenties depression that saw me hiding under the duvet waiting for the day to pass.

Now I just enjoy them.

I like being serenaded.

I like getting pancakes in bed made by eager little children.

Tiger of Sweden Freya

I like that my husband remembers my birthday meal – roast lamb, roast potatoes and butternut.


I received a joint birthday and wedding anniversary gift of an exquisite full length jacket from
Tiger of Sweden from the Husband.

Brilliant man – be brought it back from his last trip to Stockholm and managed to hide it from me and three would-be 007s.

IMAG014My mother took me to lunch at Chez Girard where Girard made me a crème brulee exactly as he did for my 21st birthday.

He used to be the chef at the Inanda Club during its heyday. As a small child I used to check out his desserts before choosing anything to eat.

The trick was to get to the desserts first or they’d disappear in about 0.2 of a second.

 

20120409_An-Evening-with-John-Cleese-orgMy belly full of good food we spent the rest of the day at An Evening with John Cleese at MonteCasino.

I did not know his name is really Cheese. Apparently his dad changed it when signing up to go to war. Not a bad thing.

 

He was truly brilliant and it was incredible to have this man whose work has been so much a part of my life and my yardstick for judging other people, right in front of me.

If you can’t pick up a Monty Python reference you are dead to me. I went home and watched Fawlty Towers, Clockwise and a Fish Called Wanda.

For all its faults, social networking and FaceBook have made my birthday a truly wonderful day with messages from people far and wide.

I also have a sparkly new laptop. She is as yet unnamed, I shall have to think about her moniker.

Now, all I need to make this day perfect is for my court date to be issued against The Man Who Won’t Pay Me.

4378197206_dd6765fb09Now I am going to finish my very large slice of chocolate fudge cake that my lovely colleagues bought for me this morning. Even better – they’ve given me the day off!

Thank Mom and Dad for having me, for being the best parents any child could have hoped for. For showing me the world and giving me a sense of humour with which to view the world.

Most of all thanks for putting up with me for 37 years!

 

How can I embarrass my child? Let me count the ways…

Copyright Derek Hardy
Copyright Derek Hardy

Way of the Warrior: Run flat-out into a wall at laser games and knock yourself out in front of all his friends.

Today I face planted.

I’ve never really understood that term until now.

Looking in the mirror I am mildly surprised my face is not flat.

It was not my proudest moment.

Understatement.

It was The Birthday Party today.

The party that has been freaking me out for weeks, months even.

Doctor Who Tardis Cake and DalekI spent yesterday afternoon making The Cake.

Of all the cakes each child requires I try to make one special cake.

For J it was Doctor Who’s TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). A big blue police box.

The reason I do not outsource the cake is pretty simple.

Someone once told me that in Japan there is a saying that equates to, “You can tell the depth of a mother’s love by the content of her child’s lunchbox”.

I may not make award-winning cakes, but they are definitely made with love.

Robyn from Kadies
Robyn from Kadies

The girls at work sent me to Kadies in Fourways for supplies. I am no super baker. I don’t craft masterpieces of cakedom like Cake Boss’s flushing toilet cake.

John and Robyn Brukman from Kadies did not make me feel like an amateur on professional heavyweight fight night.

They went out of their way to help me earn the look of wonder on J’s face when he saw The Cake.

Kadies Heidi and John
Heidi and John from Kadies

They coloured my icing for me, cut out my numbers and waited with utmost patience while the bank and I had a small altercation about my right to access my money.

Without them I would have been certifiably insane by this morning and would have spent the day in lockdown in a mental institute being feed little coloured pills.

In retrospect, perhaps that might have been less painful than what actually transpired.

I am a lazy party parent. I do not like having people invade my home and I do not like cleaning up before and after them.

As a result I seek venues.

This is what I wanted to look like.
This is what I wanted to look like.

We decamped to LaserMaxx for three adrenaline-fraught Daleks versus The Doctors games to the death. In some cases more brutal than others.

The odds were stacked against my team.

Along with the tweens were The Father, a target shooting champion, and three ex-army infantrymen.

On my team I had one of them and thank God for him.  We managed one decent win.

This is what the kids looked like
This is what the kids looked like

In Game 2, I was determined to take out the sniper that was hell-bent on killing me.

I stormed his base.

I hit the base.

Hard.

Flat out.

BANG!

This what I ended up feeling like
This what I ended up feeling like

And my lights went out and Tweetie Birds sang a sweet serenade only slightly marred by the warm flow of my life’s blood streaming Nigeria Falls like down the lower half of my face.

The physical pain was nothing in comparison to the body blow my pride tried and failed to bear.

I lay down in the foetal position against the wall and begged the earth to stop spinning.

Whereupon I was shot by my child.

Who was actually on my team.

The Husband came to my rescue.

“Are you alright?”

“Dho.”

“Well, just lie there, there’s a few minutes left of the game.”

“Kay.”

I made the Walk of Shame past the twenty-somethings with pity shining in their eyes.

This would have been a better look
This would have been a better look

I got some ice from the bar.

I went and hid in the ladies loo.

Then my phone rang.

A colleague asked me to attend a client meeting with the potential to take my career into the stars.

I explained that my nose felt broken, I had a black eye and my lips look like Angelina Jolie after a silicon injection.

His response?

“Dude! Ask them if they have a video. That’s a YouTube moment.”

I hung up.

I stalked over to the chaps behind the counter.

“Is. There. A. Video?”

“Um… Well you know we’ve had way worse,” said A.

“Yup,” said B, “We’ve had like 6 foot guys knock down entire walls and stuff.”

“Is. There. A. Video?”

“Well, everything is recorded.”

“You. Will. Not. Put. That. On. YouTube.”

“No, ma’am,” came a chorus.

Better men than I. I would have that video up there faster than I ran into that wall.

After that the cake paled in comparison. I didn’t even blink an eye as my masterpiece was decimated.

My concussion had caused a massive headache and my ego required some downtime and a call to my mother who was very supportive and tried hard not to laugh at me.

The Father was invited to join the LaserMaxx league.

I was not.

Surprise.

Find LaserMaxx

http://lasermaxxsa.co.za/

lasertag@lasermaxxsa.co.za

Stoneridge Shopping Center, Shop M4 – Undercover Parking Level, Greenstone Hill,

Johannesburg

Find Kadies

http://www.kadies.co.za/

https://www.facebook.com/kadiesbakerysupplies

Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Kingfisher Drive, Fourways

Foot in Mouth

foot in mouth

It’s a disease.

Not the bovine one.

A wholly human one.

A socially inappropriate one.

I am not psychic in the sense I can tell your future. That might be useful. No. I am the kind of psychic who can pick up on the wrong thing to say and say it loudly. Then I can’t stop. I’m like a babbling runaway train heading towards disaster but completely unable to stop.

I’m doing it again aren’t I?

I think it is genetic. I blame my mother.

She called me earlier to relay her latest verbal misadventure.

Bond_-_Sean_Connery_-_ProfileOn Friday she visited a travel agent. A very nice young lady promised to get back to her this week.

Today she thought she’d pop in and see if any progress had been made.

It was like that scene in James Bond where there’s a crystal meth factory or something one day and the next time he goes back it is an office.

The travel agent was staffed by entirely new people.

This did not faze my mother. She approached another young lady and asked if she might talk to Friday’s travel agent.

New Agent: “I am afraid she is not in today. There has been a passing.”

A passing. This is such a confusing term, a passing of what? A passing of wind? Of the parcel?

travel agentNew Agent must have picked on my mother’s discombobulation: “We’ve been brought in for the day to they can attend the funeral.”

Mother: “Oh! Who died?”

New Agent: “I’m afraid I can’t say ma’am, but I am sure someone will get back to you.”

Mother: “Well, I hope it wasn’t the lady I talked to who died, because then she bloody well won’t will she?”

About now, my mother digging in her purse dislodged the business card of Friday’s Agent.

New Agent bent to retrieve it: “Oh dear. This is the lady who died.”

My mother left the store. She stopped. I wouldn’t have. I would have assumed New Agent was taking the piss and acted accordingly.

While retelling this to Husband, he reminded me off the infamous IQ Incident.

My colleague had found an online IQ test and had spent the morning happily plugging away at it completely unaware of the time based nature of said test and frequently stopping for a chat or coffee.

Joining myself and a few others for a quick break outside she jumped and joy in glee.

geniusColleague: “I am a GENIUS!”

Me: “Why?”

Colleague: “I got 80% on my IQ test.”

There was silence as we digested this and turning to the others I realised someone had to say something. And that someone was me.

Me: “Um, they don’t measure intelligence as a percentage.”

Colleague: “Oh. So what does that make me then?”

Once more my friends were silent and stared fixedly at the sky or their feet, shuffling nervously.

I espied a new member joining us and immediately said to him: “Hey, what do call someone who scored 80 on an IQ test?”

He answered immediately, “A moron.”

There’s no coming back from that.

 

Y is for You Are Not Crazy, You Can Change the World

 unslump

Sometimes I get caught in a funk or a slump and in the immortal words of Dr Seuss, “Unslumping yourself is not easily done.”

I get all “Poor me, I can’t save the rhinos or end world poverty! Why do I even bother?”

I know my answer, because if enough people bother we can unslump the world, even if it is just our small part of it.

SeussThis week I was astonished at the BIG things people have done. Some of them I know and some I don’t, but the point is they all come from my neck of the woods.

My weekly knock-and-drop arrived on Friday. I usually dump in it straight in the recycling bin before ten tons of advertising falls on my dislocated toe.

I didn’t on Friday. I didn’t because my friend, Heather Oosthuisen has done a BIG thing and was on the front page.

She was appalled by the commercial dumping of building waste in her neighbourhood parks and the decrepit state they were in, with vagrants and muggings to add some spice as well.

She did not go home and shake her head and say, “Well what could I do about it?”

She did something.

When the city council told her they no money, she went out and got donations from private companies and individuals. Enough to resuscitate one of the few green areas in the city where people can walk their dogs, take a picnic or mountain bike through green pathways.

CircusThen of course the circus has come to town and the Boswell Circus’s mistreatment of animals is well known.

In the old days it was the Boswell Wilkie Circus until the Wilkie side decided that using animals was inhumane.

So many people I know turned out in force to oppose them over the last week and this weekend. Bronwyn Feldwick-Davis, my school friend, was one of them.

Jason Drew_PictureFinally the man I don’t know, but wish I did, Jason Drew.

What do poo, mosquitoes and abattoirs have in common?

Well, Jason Drew obviously, but it is what he does with them that is so fantastic. He completes the value-chain or Simba’s circle of life.

He makes the last link in the food chain where most humans tend to lose the plot.

Let’s start with the Lord of the Flies…

After visiting an abattoir in the Middle East Jason was shocked at the amount of blood and gore that was thrown away, more than that the sheer number of flies feeding on it was a revelation.

Most of us would have lost our breakfast, but he is made of sterner stuff and his brain started ticking over.

He started a business called Agri-Protein with the University of Stellenbosch. Very simply he buys all the blood and guts and feeds it to fly larvae.

Fish farmThey recycle it (I don’t want to know the details) into useable protein for animal feed, at a fraction of the cost of existing natural resources.

It is mostly sold off to fish farms to replace fish meal and might make a difference in the state of our over-fished seas.

Then we have the blood suckers…

Jason is involved in an English company called Oxitec. They breed sterile male mosquitoes. Yes, my skin is crawling.

Mosquito Isolated on WhiteWhat is so cool about these little chaps is that they are sent out to places where malaria and dengue fever are rife.

Their sterility does not negatively affect their sex lives and the local ladies love them. Then the next generation just doesn’t hatch.

It’s a lot cheaper and better for the environment than pesticides.

He’s just sold something like 30 million of the little buzzers to Brazil so that no soccer fans succumb to anything other than footie fever during the World Cup.

And for last, I have saved the poo…

Many of our communities are without piped water and sanitation. So, Jason erected a number of porta-potties in the locations around Stellenbosch.

cup-of-coffeeThen he (well probably not him personally) collects their contents and turns it into liquid fertiliser.

This is sold to coffee farms in Kenya.

Next time you sip your coffee think of that! It much cheaper than other alternatives and apparently grows pretty good coffee beans.

The point is that you can do something.

Just stop whining and use your noggin.

You might even get rich.

 

Check Jason Drew out on Ted.com

Visit his blog on: jasondrew.blogspot.com

Or find more about him from this article on ITB Digital

I am an Interesting Blogger. It is official.

Interesting Blog Award

I am enjoying this award thing. First I get to feel all warm and fuzzy, then I get to do my happy dance and finally I get to send it on like viral chain letter of awesomeness.

The award was started by another fabulous blogger crazybunny.

I do not like the word blogger, I must think of a new one. Blogger always conjures up an image of vomiting words out on-screen. It needs to encapsulate the ability to make a person smile a million miles away not verbal diarrhoea. 

There are of course on blogs as in life rules.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. List 5 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate a minimum of 5 blogs for the award
  4. Ask the nominees 5 questions of your choice
  5. And finally, let them know you have nominated them

Number 1 – Thanks!
Thank you Running without Socks for a look at life through your eyes and the images of you running without footwear. Your blog makes me laugh, shake my head and get through the day.

Number 2 – 5 random facts

  1. You spend about 3 years of your life on the loo. I will spend about 5 years of my life there, as the loo is only place in my house I get a little privacy and peace and quiet.
  2. Some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. I am the mosquito equivalent centerfold and give thanks for their seasonal demise.
  3. Studies show that drinking tea raises your fertility levels. Three children later they should have paid me to part of the study.
  4. Despite popular opinion I cannot put your logo on the moon without a multimillion dollar investment with NASA. Why don’t you tattoo it on your ass instead?
  5. In a house three children and a pre-menstrual mother it is unnatural to assume your Lindt chocolate bar will remain uneaten for over a week. Testing us is a form of torture

My answers to Running without Socks are…

What are you listening to right now (if anything? if not, what would you like to be listening to right now?)

I am listening to the sound of my fingers nimbly leaping across the keyboard, but I wish I was listening to Justin Bieber or that long-faced chick, um… Celine Dion. Just kidding, I wish I was listening to The Cure.

What food would you hate to be without? (not basic staples – your favorite indulgences)

Tea. Must have tea.

Chocolate. Life is not worth living without it.

Cupcakes. They make the kid in me rejoice.
If you woke up and were transformed to the opposite sex, what would be the first thing you do?

You really want to know this? Pee standing up. Stand in front of the mirror naked and wiggle my hips from side to side. Then laugh hysterically and look at my closet in horror realizing I will have to walk naked into the street.

If you could change your job title, what would it be? (not the job, just the title. If you don’t have a job, give a title for what you do)

Well, freelancer doesn’t seem to be working. People apparently get confused about the “free” part. I think Creative Solutions Architect. Hell, just writer will do.

City or beach vacation?

Beach. Somewhere exotic. With a cocktail that involves a little umbrella.

Number 4 – My nominees are

Shaun at prayingforoneday.wordpress.com whose blog is always interesting and most of all human

Gareeth who I know will not be able to send this on, but whose blog is interesting and humbling and if I could I’d send a hug instead

The Reluctant Mom whose post today on the circus made me cry (in a good way), but who usually makes me laugh

2 Summers who never fails to make see my city with new eyes and surprise (good surprise not scary surprise birthday party while in your undies surprise)

Learus whose posts resonate with me and who never fails to peak my interest

Number 5 – Some questions for you

  1. Elvis or The Beatles? This is important. It places you in a very specific target audience for people like me selling you stuff you don’t want or even need but will buy anyway. Also the husband was at an office party where some guy was dressed up in an Elvis onesie – so it is on my mind.
  2. What the one place you have to see or thing you have to do before you kick the bucket and shrug off the mortal coil? Dive with sharks, go trolley racing down a hill, get a whole night’s uninterrupted by snoring and small children, sleep?
  3. What did you laugh out loud at today? I watched Eddie Izzard’s Star Wars Canteen on YouTube with my son. “I will kill you with this tray. It will be death by tray.”
  4. What is a better word for blogger that doesn’t sound like throwing up? I have nothing.
  5. If you were a superhero, what power would you have?  The power not to have to wear lycra or my panties on the outside.

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my page, who I ever made laugh, who has left me a comment, who inspires and motivates me to carry on.

Boy by Kate Shand reblogged from Rattle and Mum

If you have ever experienced grief or the loss of someone inexplicably taken from this life, please read this book – Boy by Kate Shand.

Kate and her family are an amazing group of people I have been very privileged to get to know over the last year.

They have lived through the appalling loss of their son by his own hand and this is Kate’s story to tell. Her wisdom, her strength and her tremendous love.

This link will take her to a review of the book which is available at leading bookshops including Exclusive Books and Love Books in Melville, and online at Exclusives, Takealot and Kalahari.

The book I couldn’t put down this weekend: Boy by Kate Shand | Rattle and Mum.

The Shining Girls is here!

It is finally here! Another great success from a school friend and sure to be even more fabulous than her previous books. She’s finally coming up to golden city, so if you’re around, make a plan…

The Shining Girls

by Lauren Beukes (Goodreads Author)
The Time Traveler’s Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in this story of a time-traveling serial killer who is impossible to trace–until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.

Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery.

THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the classic serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing girl in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

Schedule « Lauren Beukes Lauren Beukes.

APRIL 2013 SOUTH AFRICA 

JOHANNESBURG

Monday 15 April — 6pm Magwood & Twigg Literary Salon at Gingko Restaurant BOOKING ESSENTIAL

  • Venue: Gingko Restaurant, corner Dundalk and Roscommon Rd, Parkview
  • RSVP:  Cost R120 (includes meal and wine) Email camillatwigg@iburst.co.za

 

Tuesday 16 April — 6pm Exclusive Books Melrose Arch

  • Venue: Corner of Corlett Drive and M1 Highway, Melrose Johannebsurg | Map
  • RSVPFacebook invite

 

Wednesday 17 April — 6pm Love Books

 

Thursday 18 April — 6pm Jenny & Co: with Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls) and Claire Robertson (The Spiral House)

 

CAPE TOWN

Friday 19 April — 5.30pm The Book Lounge

Kulala desert lodge – kids on safari can be done…

There are a few options for “Best Job in the World”. I think my schoolfriend has had most of them. If you have ever considered a safari and wondered whether it would be better to simply feed your children to the lions rather than take them with, she can answer your questions.

Read her wonderful article on moving her family from the Okavango to the Nambi Desert…

“Having emerged from the lush Okavango Delta into Namibia, my family took a little while to adjust to the change in environment. At first, I was concerned that my kids would balk at the change in scenery – used to lions and elephants, and baboons hanging off trees to laugh at…I was uncertain how they would feel about endless sand dunes, stark images of thousand year old trees and an infinite, magnificent sky. The attraction of space to breathe and think, solitude and the mind-boggling fact that anything survives there at all are all very adult appreciations. I am sure there are some kids out there who take time out for the good of their souls, but mine are not them.”

Kulala desert lodge – kids on safari can be done….

Friendly words of wisdom

I’m always searching for quotes from “famous” types to make my writing seem more serious and as a way to get out of writing sentiments that other people have said better anyway.

Trolling through my Facebook page I realised something quite incredible.

My friends have some fabulous quotes that should be preserved for posterity.

So here are a few from today:

Bongi quoteMongezi2 mongezi1 mongezi3frank2 frank1Drew1 Andrew Pearson Jerm on pregnancy Jerm on per second billing Jerm

Find Jerm here