Sunday, August 29, 2010

Love Slumbers on.

Dusk came and with it a sense of loss. A certain and secure feeling that all was not well. Stillness preceded the telephone's shrill call and in that second my eye captured the stark cruelty of what was to come. "An accident," the stranger spoke the irreversible truth. Dusk and forever I would know the shade of light that extinguished his life. Now a decade later, as I prepare the evening meal, I have no need to consult the wall clock ticking the hours away. The early evening shadows are my time piece now and as the light fades so does my strength. I relive that moment at this time each evening and wonder what would have happened has dusk not fallen on that day.

I wrote this five years ago today as I contemplated another anniversary of loss. One of the things that I remember vividly from the day Craig was killed was the eerie palour of dusk - twilight! Each of us grieve quite differently but there is a pattern to grief - Denial, Anger, Bargaining and finally Acceptance. I could tell what time it was without looking at the clock for several months after that day, as if time was ticking away inside of me - counting the seconds and at this time of year it's that moment of dusk that I find the hardest.

I always said that I could never bear the loss of a child - I bet you have too - but guess what - you don't get a choice! That night the sun went down and when it arose, I faced a world without my son in it and I had no choice but to breathe and count the seconds ticking away. Learning to accept - learning to live with a piece of glass in my heart. What I hated most was the sympathetic look in people's eyes when they encountered me. I had never been an object of pity and it didn't sit well with me. Three months later - I made a conscious decision to LIVE again..... and so I have. Making that decision was the easy part - the LIVING has been the hard part! I have thought of him everyday and today will be no different.
Now, fifteen years on, I can remember my son with love, laugh at his mischief and know that wherever he is the is the centre of attention and much loved. Those of you who knew and loved him will also remember him..... and that is all I ask ..... that he is not forgotten.

"And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

G Spot - Unplugged

I am officially a statistic - Our house was burgled last night at the tools of my trade stolen - My laptops and my camera. I don't know what alarms me the most - the fact that we were sleeping at the time, that we heard nothing and that the dog didn't alert us or is it that the alarm technician was at my house yesterday and miraculously the sensor in the study was bypassed and that is why our alarm didn't go off. If you cant trust the people who are supposed to keep you safe - how do you trust anyone.

I can deal with the loss of possessions but the loss of trust is devastating!

The police have been and gone through the motions - they looked a little resigned and defeated about it all. Our insurance company have been their usual efficient selves and the process of getting quotes in has started. All time consuming and irritating stuff but it does not compare to the inconvenience of losing all my data since the last backup or the terrible loss of my photographs and writing.

Yes we are thankful that we were blissfully unaware of what was happening on our doorstep (literally) and that no-one was hurt, but peace of mind is something we will have to work on and I reckon a few sleepless nights are ahead.

Hopefully I will be blogging again on my own equipment soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sitting Pretty!

A little while ago I was basking in the glow of a compliment about my complexion when my sister brought me down to earth by commenting, "There are no wrinkles on a balloon!" wiping the smile off my face,popping my balloon and bringing me down to earth with a bump!

There is a theory that when you get over 40 you have to choose between your 'arse' and your face. In other words to look good in your jeans you have to be skinny but a skinny derrier will give you a drawn and wrinkled face. A Catch-22 situation indeed! My youthful bloom,I think, is a combination of good genes, healthy living and my size 16 bottom! I have become a sitting beauty!
This knowledge has also made me question my role models, Judi Dench, Nigella - the Domestic Goddess and Oprah are all women who have obviously chosen their face too!

I can’t help thinking that any 40-plusser who strives for exactly the same body she had in her twenties, before babies and a thousand delicious meals left their mark, is destined for a solitary life spent in the gym and the salon or under the knife. But such is the pressure nowadays to be not just slim, but super-slim, that it often seems that what women want isn’t simply the perfectly reasonable package of a niceish bum and face, but eternal teenage-dom. If 50 is the new 30, then 30 is the new erm... 10. Some of those faces in cosmetic adverts persuading us to buy the latest miracle are only a little older that that.

Perhaps the real crux is not which to nurture, but how to make them both feel loved. Once your fifties arrive, tending to both is almost as time-consuming and challenging as dealing with two demanding, illogical toddlers. Although all the science devoted to keeping us young ought to mean that one can keep both in firm and youthful condition, the hard facts suggest that this is the case only for a fortunate few.

I am not suggesting that being obese is the price you have to pay for supple skin – fat women might have lovely, plump skin, but an out-of-shape body can be just as ageing as a lined face. This, it seems to me, is much more about not trying to emulate the body of a teenager. It’s about eating and exercising right, good posture, wearing fashionable, flattering clothes – and challenging the theory that if slim is good, skinny is better.

I have spent this week looking around - with my own slightly wrinkled eyes - conducting my own research and have come to the conclusion that the best beauty accessory that you can have is a genuine smile - one that comes from your heart which is beating strongly because you love life. One of the most beautiful and vibrant women that I know and admire is in her seventies and doesn't look as if she denies herself anything - who eats cake by the slice and not by the sliver. "Life is too short to live on lettuce", she quipped beaming from ear to ear. Hear! Hear!

So I will continue to live a balanced life hoping my cheeks don't get any bigger and on the assumption that no one’s looking at your bottom when you’re sitting down, I will be a sitting beauty. Sitting down is what I'm quite good at and, at this time of year what I like doing best!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wishing August was over!

August is a difficult month for me. I have never enjoyed it! In the UK it was usually a disappointment and spent lamenting the Summer that wasn't and bemoaning the fact that the days were getting shorter which meant the 'summer that wasn't' was over. The l-o-n-g school holidays were in full swing and days out and planned activities were usually wet affairs. August was like a damp squid!

Here in the southern hemisphere it's about the same temperatures as the Augusts of my past but it feels a lot chillier. ;Our homes are designed for summer and its colder inside than out. People seems to be in hibernation mode and outings are an effort between work and bed. That's why I have been spending my days this month looking for small reasons to celebrate.

This pansy cheered my up as I pottered in the garden last week as did the sighting of a shy bird that nests in our shady border. A walk along the beach and a plate of grilled calamari eaten while watching a whale frolic at Schoonies was a feast fit for a queen. A Skye call to our newly relocated son and family and being given a guided tour of the their home via the laptop - including a trampoline performance by Jessica on her new bed made my heart sing.

Time spent with old friends, listening to Lambada on my car radio at full blast, learning a new dance and reading a debut novel by a talented new author. These small celebrations have cost next to nothing but have raised my spirits and got me half way through this dreary month in no time at all - proving that there is always something to get excited about, something to learn, a reason to celebrate life. I have learned that life is too short to label months as dreary and wish that they were over - wishing your life away is a bad habit!
I have promised myself to purposely look for something to celebrate everyday. Today it's a gathering with lots of lovely ladies who love to sew and an evening spent with dear friends. Tomorrow - who knows!

At the end of the month I am looking forward to a weekend in a cottage on a wine farm on the Montagu Pass that was given to me for writing an article for a travel publication, and I am planning on taking my camera to Addo to see if I can capture something worthy for a photographic competition.

Before we know it, it will be the first day of spring and another reason to celebrate. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Four Legged Friends

Pets have been a feature of this month - A new kitten in the family and the death of a much loved family dog in the same month has encouraged me think about our pets and why we love animals so much.

Although my mother loved nature, she wasn't a great lover of having animals inside and we were discouraged from having pets probably because she had her hands full with six children and,as we lived in the country - often a garden full of cows! She used to say that "I don't want any livestock in this house" - her definition of livestock included dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits - in fact anything with four legs! We smuggled pet guinea pigs into our garden shed but sadly they didn't survive the winter. I would bring the school hamster home for the long summer holidays without her permission, knowing that for six weeks it couldn't be returned.

I was afraid of dogs as a child so much so that if I saw one coming home from school I would stay rooted to the spot till it went away or until I was rescued. I was terrified of cows too and my journey home from school often coincided with milking time so they stopped my in my tracks! I learned to love dogs but am still not sure about cows!

I like cats but have never owned one (unless you count the one that moved in with us for a short time in the UK and had kittens in our lounge)because we have always had a canine friend or two.

Our current best friend is a staffie called Zimbeni - she came to us from a farm and was looking for a home about the time we lost our Rottweiler, Sally. Her name means second in Xhosa, as she was the second puppy born. We tried to rename her but her Xhosa name stuck and she became Beanie. She is a pretty girl - a brown eyed brindle with a wide grin -She is lovable, loyal and easy going but protective when it comes to uninvited guests.

We have owned many dogs and each one that has found a home with us has happened by chance. We had a Jack Russel called Paddy because he came from an Irish friend who was repatriating - true to his Irish nature, Paddy was fierce and incredibly naughty. We should have named him Houdini because he was an escape artist of note!

We came home with Shandy after an unplanned visit to the pet shop. We were told she was a male cross between a Ridgeback and Golden Labrador. She - yes she - grew to a height about 30cms. Ridgeback she was not - Labrador neither - she was a pedigree impostor who lived to the ripe old age of thirteen. Other dogs came to live in our home and left us - but she seemed to outlive them all!

Chess was our incredibly intelligent Border Collie whose speciality was shredding the newspaper. He also had a great talent for fetching the ball from the swimming pool and was probably a nicotine addict.His party piece was sitting intently besides unsuspecting visitors as they smoked, and catching their ash as they flicked it away. His energy was boundless and when we moved to a townhouse we had to make the decision to let him go, as walls were no deterrent and couldn't contain him. He lived until a ripe old age on a farm - loving his retirement and even fathering a little of pups - one of which was promptly taken in by our son and family.

Lucy and Sally were very special rottweilers who changed our perception of this wonderful breed. They played their role as watchdog perfectly. Looking fierce when on guard but their true nature was energetic yet gentle, loving and playful. We were so devastated when Sally died from biliary at the age of three that our son donated Lucy - his rottie - to us. She had nine wonderful years in our care.

That's the sad part - that we have to loose our pets. It's part of the deal as their lifespan is shorter than ours, so we have to accept when they come into our lives that they will leave before us. We pour so much love into the relationship we have with them, and they serve us so loyally, that parting is just too sad. However,the great thing about loss is that time heals and on reflection, the joy they bring us outweighs the sorrow when they leave us.

That's why there is an other bulldog puppy on order. Last month Cleo, the much loved pet of our eldest son and his wife died. There will be great excitement in the family when the new puppy arrives. Watch this space we are planning a puppy party of note!

We popped up to meet the latest pet addition to the family yesterday. A six week old kitten - as yet unnamed. So helpless, so fragile and so dependant on the care being given to her right now. She came from a lady in North End in Port Elizabeth, who has a hundred stray cats and kittens in her care, which she funds from her own pocket. There will be special place in heaven for this lady I am sure! It was just lovely to watch the love and attention being bestowed on this little ball of fur - perhaps her name should be 'Lucky' - all our family pets are...... and so are we to have them in our lives. We love our four legged friends because they are companions and confidantes - they instinctively know when we need cheering up and snuggle up close! They make us laugh -they entertain us. They keep our secrets and give us unconditional love - they protect us and are loyal. As any true friend should be.We can learn a lot from our four legged friends!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inspirational Woman

In celebration of National Womans' Day Pick and Pay are asking bloggers to nominate women who they believe are an inspiration to others. All entry blog posts should mention the link to Pick n Pay's Facebook page [] and/or Twitter account []

This is my response to their request and one that could see her rewarded with some lovely gift vouchers but the real reward for this accolade comes from the recognition of being an insiration to others.

What woman inspires me? I am surrounded by amazing women and always have been. I'm not sure if I found them or if they sought me out but they have always been there.

I have experienced joy and how to celebrate life with the women who have laughed and danced with me.

I have learned compassion from the women who cried with me and consoled me when life tested me with the toughest of lessons.

I have learned humility from those women I know who sacrificed their own dreams so that their children may live theirs'.

I have observed the glamour of the women around me and listened carefully when they whispered the names of the potions and lotions they have used to accentuate the beauty that they were born with.

I have shared recipes and lunched, brunched, wined and dined, sharing the most festive company with the women in my life!

I learned how to love and care for others by those who have loved and cared for me - who have reassured me, voiced their concerns and encouraged me. My cheerleaders - the women in my life - you know who you are!

A friend of many years,over 20 years, encompasses all these qualities and more. She deserves a special mention. Dawn is a nurse by profession and a nurse by nature. She was in the operating theatre when my two grandchildren where delivered and I would trust her with my life - as many have and do each day!

Recently a young man was admitted to the hospital where she works in Port Elizabeth, after a car accident in St Francis Bay. Not only did she look after him as they operated to save his life, she cared for his family after their long drive through the night from Pretoria, and opened her home to them so that they could stay close to the hospital and him as he struggled to survive for three weeks. She walked their journey with them and shared their joy as he progressed and was well enough to be moved. This is so typical of her.

Is that not an inspirational woman, a phenomenal women, a woman who cares deeply, a woman who does what her heart tells her is right? I am so happy and privileged that she is my friend. Dawn Scheepers- you are an inspiration!

A Celebration!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of sisterhood when a group of women come together to celebrate their femininity. This happened last night at BWA in Port Elizabeth where we had a Bollywood theme. Walking into the Hellenic Hall was like walking into a rainbow. Red, gold, blue, silver, gold, purple - What colour was not there? Tables glistened like illuminated alters and sashaying amongst them were the most beautiful women - all decked out in saris, shalwar kamise and langas.These ladies had gone to town and dressed up to the nines and tens. The bling was out big time and like their glittering jewels the ladies sparkled.

It was our Woman's Day function and we were invited to kick off our shoes and relax - the sigh of exhalation was audible. Betsy our beautiful Chair, resplendent in a red sari trimmed with gold, likened the event to a Bollywood film with us the cast - we all played our parts brilliantly. Michelle Brown our very capable MC directed the event with her precious efficiency so we didn't even know we were being directed. When Michelle announced that Port Elizabeths stadium had been rated the highest by FIFAs measuring process we cheered on cue and celebrated not only being women but being Port Elizabethan women.

We ate Indian cuisine - a little sweet and a lot spicy - just like most of us! It wasn't our usual fayre but we welcomed the adventure of trying something new and laughed as taste buds experienced the strangeness of an Indian dessert!

We were entertained young and beautiful Indian dancers, glossy and supple,performing a graceful and elegant dance of light. Then a local gal with attitude belted out songs to make us feel strong, sexy and proud whether we were "big,blond and beautiful" or we just "enjoyed being a girl."

But the best was yet to come - a brave and energetic purple clad leprechaun was invited to give us wakka wakka lessons and the hall rose to the occasion hands pressed together and held aloft in an Indian Namaste and hips swaying in the way only a woman instinctively knows how.

Some of us where lucky and won prizes in the draw and the rest of us were lucky too as we celebrated our connectivity and friendship, let our hair down and danced the night away.

Slipping away into the misty night air I felt privileged and grateful for the joy of being a woman and a Bolleywood star!