AtoZ: Z is for Zen

James

To my beloved son on his 12th Birthday

12 years ago you came.

A small sweet thief of our hearts.

You turned our world around and remade it in your own image.

With eyes of wisdom and wonder.

With a laugh that shakes the foundation of the universe.

A son.

A brother.

A young man.

Our world is better for you being in it.

Much more zen.

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I owe so much thanks to all the wonderful people at Jacklin Enterprises who went so far out of their way to assemble this incredible set for James. Mr. Jacklin, Andrea and HP, you guys are absolute super heroes.

AtoZ: X is for XXX

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“Hello, darling”

Lean in.

“Mwah!”

Or is it…

“Mwah Mwah!”

Or is it…

“Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!”

Is it right cheek first or left?

Right, left, right.

Left, right, left.

Air kissing has its own rules and guidelines and I’m damned if I can figure them out.

However, we have to do it, I’d rather it be airbourne than a full on smackeroo.

In the run up to our elections our politicians seem to eschewing the air kiss for the lip locking, tonsil tickling smooch. It makes my blood run cold. My reaction is in part due to my personal space issues, but those aside, it’s not the kind of relationship I want my politicians engaging in.

jerm-agang-da-donorsWatching middle-aged women smashing their lips together in a weak attempt to create intimacy between opposing political factions is only marginally less embarrassing than watching a white woman toyi-toyi.

If you are not familiar with the toyi-toyi, picture Kylie Minogue twerking and the feeling of skin crawling horror you experience would be akin to that of watching a white woman toyi-toyi. Excruciating.

At least this spate of kissing cousins does a little something to relieve the pall of ennui that lies like a heavy layer of smog over these elections.

Oh, we’ll turn out to put our little X in the box, but with little hope that anything will change. This time next year we’ll have the same bunch of inept politicians and their second cousin’s twice removed best friend pocketing our tax money for nothing in return.

At least, now that we’ve already paid for our President’s R250 million swimming pool, we won’t have that burden to carry in his next term. Unless, of course, he decides he wants it gold-plated instead.

 

 

 

AtoZ: W is for Who?

DorothyParker1

 

Jaunty ringtone.

“Mom. Your phone is ringing.”

“No caller ID.”

“Just answer the phone!”

“Hello.”

“Hello, is that Victoria?”

“Yes.”

“Hi, your good friend Judith (not her real name) would like to try our range of incredible cosmetics.”

“Who?”

“Judith.”

“WTF?”

“Judith.”

“I don’t know a Judith.”

Actually, I do. I once upon a time worked in a company with a Judith. We might exchange passable good morning grunts as we passed on our way to get coffee in the morning. Good friends we were not.

Good friends know better than to give out my phone number. The access code to Fort Knox is easier to get than my phone number. Well, I thought it was.

Turns out Judith thinks nothing of giving out every number on the company phone list in order to get a free bottle of perfume.

Anyway, I took the free cosmetics. I took them because I am a sucker for free stuff. They are actually pretty good and they are delivered to my door and I like that.

Regardless, I cannot forgive her for cavalierly giving out my phone number. It is an invasion of an anti-social introvert’s personal space.

Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who bang on my gate every single Sunday without fail. I respect that they have found their path to God. I have found mine too. It isn’t the same one.

The only thing we have in common is that Sundays are sacrosanct. In other words, do not under any circumstances invade my space on a Sunday.

I tried being nice. I tried explaining my point of view. It was a lovely metaphor, by the way, of a house on a hill with a hundred different paths leading to it.

I tried taking the pamphlet. Then I read it. It was all about how a wife should obey her husband.

So, the next time, I set my husband on them. With Leviticus.

That did the trick. We had a lovely peaceful Sunday for the first time in years. Long may it continue.

AtoZ: V is for Victoria

Victoria1

I was a bit stumped for V today, until my esteemed colleague pointed out that my name began with V.

In the spirit of such narcissism I tried to find adjectives that matched the letters in my name to my personality.

It was a hard call between crazy and creative, talkative and tenacious.

All in all though I think it sums me up (well the good parts) pretty well.

Of course I Googled and I found http://www.kabalarians.com. You can enter your name and voila, up comes a personality review. I was lucky enough to get a result that was pretty accurate. I think.

  • The name of Victoria gives you a clever, quick, analytical mind, but you suffer with a great deal of self-consciousness, lack of confidence, and much aloneness because of misunderstandings.
  • In other words, my inability to bite my tongue gets me into a lot of trouble I could avoid by just being mute.
  • Your idealistic and sensitive nature gives you a deep appreciation for the finer things of life and a strong desire to be of service to humanity.
  • I like pretty things and I like happy people.
  • There are times when you experience inner turbulence at your inability to say what you mean.
  • Like when the perfect comeback arrives at the tip of your tongue for an argument that took place hours before.
  • It is far easier for you to express your deeper thoughts and feelings through writing than verbally.
  • The delete button is my friend.
  • You find pleasure in literature, in poetry, and in your ideals and will turn to them when you feel you have been misunderstood.
  • When I’m miserable I read Pride and Prejudice, Yeats of Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of reading Gaol.
  • You are deeply moved by the beauties of life, especially nature.
  • I like pretty things.
  • Because your feelings run deep, you must guard against the ups and downs, being very inspired one minute, then moody, reserved, and depressed the next.
  • Bipolar, manic-depressive, needs a padded room.
  • Your reactions to people vary according to how you feel.
  • Some days I can live with stupidity some days I can’t.
  • You tend to be secretive and noncommittal about private matters, yet at times you will talk effusively in order to hide your self-consciousness or to lead others away from personal subjects.
  • I talk too much.
  • You are inspired by encouragement from others, yet suspicious of their intent.
  • You gave me a compliment? What do you want?
  • You crave affection but seldom find anyone who understands your nature.
  • Like a cat, only stroke me when I want to be stroked or I will bite your hand off.
  • Physical weaknesses would show in your heart, lungs, or bronchial organs.
  • Pharyngitis anyone?

Of course you might think I am:

Vicious

Intolerable

Crazy

Trashy

Over-rated

Rude

Illiterate

Argumentative

AtoZ: U is for Unbuttoned

CharliesAngels03

The rays of morning sunlight filtered through my dreams.

I stretched a long lazy feline stretch and slowly rolled over careful not to disturb the peacefully slumbering orange cat.

I looked over at the bright led light of the clock and then my heart stopped.

It was 08:30.

08:30!

Never is all history has a shower, tooth-brushing, getting dressed ritual been completed in such haste.

I arrived at work on time on the dot of nine.

Only at 10:30 did someone think to mention that I had buttoned my shirt up incorrectly.

Honestly, they were lucky I came in underwear and matching shoes.

Clothing mishaps are my absolute worst.

I can’t wear white. Wearing white is a neon sigh to the universe to send birds to poop on me, cups of coffee to spontaneously levitate and spill their contents on me and other fates to terrible to mention.

I, like many women, have been the victim of brutal stabbing attacks by bra underwire.

I’ve arrived at work only to realise in the car park I was wearing my furry slippers and had to go to my mother’s to borrow a pair of more suitable footwear.

I went for an interview with a shirt buttoned up wrong (again) and got the job.

I even was pulled aside by police officers late one evening on an emergency chocolate run to the garage shop while wearing my nightie and bunny slippers.

Not some of my finest moments.

This is why I feel nothing a curious mix of sympathy and joy when a celebrity has a wardrobe mishap. It reminds me that they too are human and that I’m not the only one who occasionally puts a jersey on inside out.

At least mine don’t get plastered on every billboard across the world. The thought of seeing my backside blown up bigger than the Empire State fills me sick horror and a not inconsiderable desire to laugh uproariously.

 

 

AtoZ: T is for Taunina

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Teddy bears have a special place in my heart. Perhaps because I grew up on a diet of Winnie the Pooh, Rupert the Bear and Paddington.

My cousin Timothy had a bear I coveted as only a child can covet, it was an all encompassing desire to own a threadbare, jointed antique teddy bear. I thought he was the epitome if everything a bear should be – loved by generations of children. I cried desperate tears each time he was wrenched from grasp. Screenshot 2014-04-24 10.24.57

There is something comforting and protective about a teddy bear, an innocence of childhood and bright boot button eyes wise beyond comprehension.

When I stumbled onto these exquisite hand-embroidered teddy bears I was utterly hooked. Taunina bears are, quite simply, the most beautiful bears in the entire world.

Made in Cape Town, these bears are individually created with immense love by a group of phenomenal women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

1891408_654913894572303_1115231133_oEach bear takes the artist about seven days and becomes an embodiment of her creativity, culture and hope for tomorrow.

These bears have become collector’s items all over the world, but not the type of collector’s item that remains in a box on the shelf.

No, each bear is made to be loved and held, and adored by a child until that child passes it on to her child.

It’s not a gift. It’s a legacy. It’s an investment in hope.

Wherever you are in the world, a Taunina bear can find his way to you.

You can find them at: http://taunina.com/

And on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Taunina

AtoZ: Friday Fictioneers: T is for The Blind Date

buskers

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction photo prompt.

1 photo. 100 words. (More or less, give or take)

Pop over to http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/

Please visit some of the other intrepid writers who write each week by following the link.

AtoZ: Q is for Quadrophonic

“Hi, Vix. How’d your kids like to be a music video?”

“What for?”

“We’re making the Jo’burg verison of Pharrell’s Happy music video.”

And that’s how it started.

So, on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon I assembled the troops and went deep into suburbia.

It was a nice street with Jacaranda trees forming a beautiful arc across the road.

A quiet street with wide pavements and the scent of pomegranates in the air.

A nondescript street with a nondescript gray building at one end.

Not a pretty building. The kind of building you try your best not to have in the shot.

We set up, and by that I mean, I sat on the grassy verge and had a conversation with my son about the merits of Iron Man and Captain America and which of them I’d choose over their father.

The focus of the shot in question was a skateboarding Golden Cocker Spaniel.

Like all shoots it took a while to discuss how this was going to go.

When suddenly a large black security van pulled up. They sat and watched for a few minutes and then descended from the behemoth cradling large semi automatic weapons.

I sent my kids back to the car.

Another black van joined the first.

A flashy BMW came for the party.

Another flashy BMW came to the party.

Soon the crew was surrounded by some rather scary heavyset individuals bristling with firepower and barely restrained testosterone.

Turns out that boring old gray building is a sight of national military importance.

I don’t what threat they though a skateboarding spaniel was, but I wasn’t going to argue.

Soon after that the kids and I jumped into a pile of leaves and threw them at each other for a bit and went home feeling rather uncomfortable with leaves in places leaves should not be.

I didn’t think much about it until yesterday when I got the link on my Facebook.

It was a privilege to have been a part of making this extraordinary homage to my city.

Thank you for letting us be part of it.

 

 

AtoZ: P is for Persiflage

cape-malay-homes

Did you there is actually a word for dirty old men?

There is. It’s pornogenerian.

Isn’t that a fabulous word? He’s such a pornogenerian.

And a pornocracy is a government by harlots.

I live in a different of ocracy altogether.

I live in a paedocracy – government by children, both in my home and the mental age of my actual government.

My daughter has palentine (that’s royal authority) over my home.

It can be a real pain in the podex. That’s rear end for you plebeians who don’t know your Ps.

It’s Good Friday and I’ve observed a rather odd occurrence in my community of friends and Facebook acquaintances. Pickled fish.

Currently, all over the place people who I swear have never eaten pickled fish in their lives suddenly making it from scratch.

Is this a South African thing? Like the Scots and haggis?

Even more stomach churning, is that apparently you eat with hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns and pickled fish. Yum.

Apparently it is a Cape Malay tradition something to do with three-hour church services and not cooking over the Easter weekend. Three hours of church and I just might eat my pew book.

I’m not pantophobic. I’m not scared of everything. Just pickled fish. To feed me pickled fish would be a parapraxis of the first degree. I would be appalled.

However, I cannot judge, that would be very parvanimous of me. There are people for whom Brussels sprouts are the height of culinary paradise. All power to them. Actually, I don’t hate all Brussels sprouts. Just those grown in South Africa that are tough and taste like petrol.

Enough of this persiflage.

Here is a recipe for Malay Pickled Fish if you feel like it.

http://michaelolivier.co.za/archives/7581

 

 

 

 

AtoZ: O is for Ogre Under the Bed

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Flash Fiction Challenge: A desperate man comes up with a unique way to make some extra cash.

“Hey dude! It’s Grant, where you at?”

“Can’t talk now, I’m in a closet.”

“In the closet? Man, you want to tell me something?”

“Not the closet, a closet.”

BOOM. WHACK. BANG. WHIMPER.

“WTF man? You okay?”

“Fine. Call you back.”

My name is Rob. I have an advanced degree in electrical engineering, served two terms in Afganistan and I am a professional monster scarer.

I kind of stumbled into the job. I got laid off and I needed a way to make some cash. At my age job offers aren’t exactly dangling on trees, you know? There are younger guys out there, cheaper too, without alimony payments.

One night I got a call from my kid, she’s seven.

“Dad, it’s me.”

“Sweetheart, what’s the matter?”

”Dad, there’s a scary monster under my bed.”

“What kind of monster?”

“He’s blue and big and has one eye in the middle of his forehead.”

“A Cyclops then.”

“Dad! What do I do?”

“Is your Mom there?”

“She says he doesn’t exist and that I have an overactive imagination. Can you come and scare him?”

What kind of Dad would I be if I said no? I grabbed my baseball bat and headed over. I’ve got to say I got the fright of my life. I peeked under the bed expecting to see a rabid warren of dust bunnies. My ex isn’t exactly a dab hand with the vacuum cleaner. She’s more of a “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” kind of gal.

I ended up going eyeball to eyeball with biggest blue mofo I had ever seen. All that government paid military training really paid off. I nailed him and I nailed him good. I got him right in the eyeball with Fluttershy. The My Little Pony? Never mind.

Then I knew. These things were real.

Of course, my daughter told a friend, who told a friend and so on and the next thing I knew I was getting calls from kids all over the city.

They call me the Ogre Crusher, the Monster Mauler and, my favourite, the Zombie Slayer. I got quite a reputation for this kind of work. No-one messes with the kids under my protection.

I ended up putting an ad in the paper. Got a lot of calls, a few crazies, but some bona fide monster vics too. I even patented my own Monster Early Warning Lazer, MAWL. You can pick one up online on www.killthatmonster.com for only $25.

The kids don’t pay me much. A couple of dimes, a dollar or two, but that’s not where the real money is. The real money is in the monsters. The bounty on those suckers is magnificent. I kill one and a crate of cash is delivered to my door. Tax-free. Courtesy of the Tooth Fairy. I shit you not. The goldarn Tooth Fairy.

Even got myself a crew now. Couple of guys like me. See things you can’t. Ex Special Forces most of them, PTSD the shrinks said. PTSD my ass. They see monsters, like me. When you faced the worst humankind can throw at you, maybe you just ain’t surprised when some metaphysical bully begs to get an ass whipping.

Look, I gotta go. Call coming in. Medusa downtown garbage shoot. Wanna come along for the ride? It’ll be a good one. Only one way to take those suckers down, a good beheading. Real scythe stuff.

No? Well, nice chatting. Remember check under the bed before you go to bed. Night now.