Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am better at Hello's than Goodbyes!

Whilst most people get into party mode on this date, I am the opposite and have coax myself into celebratory status. I said goodbye to my dad on this day 29 years ago and  I feel like I am saying goodbye to another year of my life. I am better at hellos than goodbyes -  I enjoy beginnings more than endings! So to prevent becoming introspective and melancholy this year and to cheer myself up, this year I am going to think of the highlights of 2011.

My birthday in January celebrated with special friends at Shamwari Townhouse was a lovely day to remember. Being spoiled in such elegant surroundings was divine!
In March I crossed another item from my bucket list by enjoying Cirque du Soleil in Cape Town - I have admired this art form since I fist saw it over a decade ago on the Royal Variety Show.

More special because we we went with Sean and Nadine and also enjoyed some family time exploring  wines farms in the Robertson district.
April was a double celebration and we proudly attended Sean's MBA graduation and two days later I flew to the UK to see family and to enjoy a very special wedding!

May brought adventure and the opportunity to cross off another 'must' as we floated above the Karoo in a hot air balloon to celebrate the special birthday of an old friend. It was very peaceful up there and the experience was followed by a weekend of fun with friends.
June brought another flight - this time to visit the family in Pretoria and to sped precious time with our Grandies - who are now back in PE - YAY! another reason to celebrate!
Sean and Nadine set off for Melbourne in July for a year - which is flying by - and then in September, Paul and Shelley relocated back to PE as if the universe knew that we needed family close by as Tony celebrated his 60th in Hugh Heffner fashion with his bunny girls!

It seems that all I did in July, August and September was work. I embarked on a programme to be trained as a Business coach - a lot of hard work and tricky time management but I was VERY proud to find out that my POE was accepted and I was declare competent first time! Quite a rare achievement.

A visit to Shamwari with Jessica was a trip to remember - I was lucky enough to be a winner on Algoa FM and this was a prize to treasure.

October brought more YAYA fun with the Greek Christmas Tea and an opportunity to get close to local celebrity Fab Gino Fabbri!
November brings about a flurry of activity as we run out of time and the year rushes to an end! This year was no exception. In the midst of all this I was putting together a photobook of family pictures and the time spent scanning in memories was a welcome breather from the race against time. We also celebrated a successful year at the embroidery guild, bookclub, work functions and BWA.
So in retrospect its been a busy but successful year - Two radio interviews, three magazine articles and several letters published, 51 blog entires this year and my blog is getting more attention, lots of my photographs in the media and I have managed to get another qualification ......and through it all I have spent precious time with friends and family. Lots to celebrate, be thankful for and feel good about.
Some goodbyes are bittersweet but you have to let go to make room for the new and next year's experiences await with more memories in the making!   Goodbye 2011.

 Happy New Year!




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Adventures

Cant believe its 3 weeks since my last post - that's quite a scary fact as it seems like last week! However it is the silly season and I have been away for a few days ....not far away and not for long...but enough to catch my breath and spend some 'together' time with my beloved!



We arrived in JBay on Sunday afternoon and headed straight for the beach to clear our lungs of city air and explore. We paddled along the waters edge stopping to admire the treasures that the sea threw at our feet - JBay is famous for surfing and shells. The latter are a wonderful distraction and I lagged behind photographing some of the most beautiful ones. When I raised my eyes to the horizon my dearest was sat on a rock waving - I raised my camera to capture the moment and watched as his smile turned to surprise and then a grimace. Remember the poem by Steve Smith - Not Waving but Drowning -  well he was not waving but he had an octopus attached to his leg! Yes - of all the fish in the sea - my unique 'usband had to catch an octopus! There it sits smiling under the rock chewing a small spec of Tony's ankle!


Later we dined at the Kitchen Window, we were rewarded by a beautiful rainbow and were tempted to order octopus but decided to forgive and forget.....Perhaps not the waitress though as she was treated to a viewing of my unique one's foot in an effort to get some sympathy from a pretty girl!

Day 2.....and after a delicious breakfast and an hour on the beach - - well away from octopus rock! We picked up freshly caught calamari and headed for the estuary at Kabeljous - my favourite part of JBay as its so unspoilt and windswept. Hearing that there had been sharks spotted earlier in the week - I locked Tony in the car with the paper and headed off for an hour with my camera. The waters here are crystal clear and sandpipers love to sit on the sand banks. I chatted to a young father who was teaching his girls to cast off - times have changed - these were girls learning to fish - not knit! The beach was deserted otherwise and I had the horizon to myself - Bliss!

Day 3.... I was on the beach in my nightie at dawn to capture the sunrise and was not disappointed.






Breakfast with roses - not those farmed and unscented horrors but REAL garden roses - all round and open and dripping with fragrance (the B&B owner brings them from her farm garden)
  
Another hour on the beach and then a trip to the mall - at the suggestion of my 'allergic to shopping' 'usband - this was an opportunity not to be missed! We scooted off in opposite directions. Me looking for anything to wear that was different and fits me and Him for anything different. He did not disappoint and came back with a Jolly Penguin Paradise and some rather dangerous looking knife tool thingies!

Getting a little bored - my unique one decided to sit in someone else's chair and I would have stopped to take more photos but I just knew the security guard was about to pop out from somewhere and we had a date with Aston Bay and Paradise Beach on the other side of another estuary. We used to take the boys there for day trips and have spent many happy hours barbequing  and fishing in this secluded unspoilt spot. We got lost - No way did this built up township match our memory of this place and we were feeling quite depressed until we turned off the beaten track and found the causeway that took us down memory lane.

On the other side we parked and watched the birds - remembering the picnics, the mud caked feet, the inflated dingy's, the impromptu hand held fishing lines, the sunburnt cheeks, salty kisses, the laughter and yawns coming from the backseat on the way home...and the sandy bath before bedtime - SIGH! We loved those days!
Remebering ours had flown the nest - I captured these birds and enjoyed watching them take off and land as they decided where to spend the night.

We ate prawns with our feet in the sand at Walskipper and then more beachcombing - today's finds included a smiley faced shell and a shell in the shape of an 'S'



And so our too brief holiday ended - Back to PE and trying very hard to keep that holiday feeling!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Life within that Dash....

At this time of year it is my task to listen to the exit presentations of learners who have completed our Management Development Programme - working people who have invested two, sometimes three years of their life in their development. Without exception they experience a great change in their lives during that time and I am happy to say that the biggest part of that change happens within themselves as they emerge as confident, rounded and enlightened professionals. One of them compared their journey to that of a caterpillar being enclosed in a cocoon and emerging as a colourful and beautiful butterfly.
As you can imagine this is immensely satisfying for us who have had he privilege to be involved with this journey. Perhaps what is unknown to others is how much we learn from them! Each one of the twenty four presentations contained some reminder of how tough growth can be, how immense the human capacity for endurance is and how fragile the balance between work and personal life.

I was reminded today about the timeline that represents our life. If you walk around a graveyard you will see the headstones of people with their existence represented by a date - a dash - and a second date. The game of life is short in comparison to the time that stone will identify us and the life contained within that 'dash' remains a mystery to those who come after us unless we make a record of how we spent our time here.  Of course, there are historical and legal documents, but these don't define the person that lived since what is recorded on paper is abut a diluted version of the event it commemorates. Even if we knew the person there are so many things about him or her that we will never know; the feelings of pride, joy or sorrow at each milestone of their life; the dream, goal or wish that was put on hold for more important life events or reasons of survival; and the exciting, embarrassing or trusted secrets that were too personal to ever share. I guess that's why photographs and capturing the moments are so important to me as they provide a visual record of what life is and the essence of that person.
I also reflected on the fact that the word 'dash' is for many of us, what life has become - a dash from one event to the next, from one activity to another, from one day to the next. This was my last day of work for the year and I was reminded not to go dashing anywhere for a while - to enjoy and savour each moment of the festive season and my well earned rest and to resolve to take more care in creating a lasting legacy from my gift of life.

I guess this poem says it all!

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning….. to the end
He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard….
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider whats true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger

And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
And more often wear a smile….
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's in a Name

In my last blog I told you I spent the day doing factory observations. Apart from enjoying these lovely ladies enthusiasm for their work - I was fascinated by their names. Most cultures hand down family names and in my own family there are certain names that have reoccurred throughout the generations - Leonard, Auchel, Cornelius, Caroline, Lena, Anne Jane... somehow I don't think Auchel and Cornelius will be happening again though!

As it is we decided to choose first names for our boys that couldn't be shortened ...and at hubby's insistence they have 'proper' boys names, "No namby pamby stuff," he said, "they need mens names!" We went with family or more traditional names for second names. Subconsciously I named my boys in alphabetical order which could have been limiting if we had gone on to have a fifth we would have had names befinning with T - Z to chose from.


In true South African style last week my delegates also had names that had been handed down through the family but the difference being was that they were mostly from the coloured community and here that means combining the name of the parents and creating a new name. So I had Davidan - obviously daughter of David an Ann  and Shaunese - perhaps daughter of Shaun and Denise - Janneil, Carlize, Keisha and so the list went on! 
It made me think what my name might have been had my parents, Harry and Lena, had gone this route - I could have been Harlena perhaps or Harryle! It also made me think of what options we may have had for name for our own brood  if we had combined Sue and Tony....Suet...naah ......'Sony'......sounds familiar........Stoned...sounds more like it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A new appreciation for my ironing board!

Last night I was in bed by 8pm - Worn out! I spent the day in a factory where I did 19 observations - part of a Learnership for a qualification in Production Technology. I met 18 ladies and one very brave man  - an Iron Man -  who obviously loves being the centre of attention! They all work for a company that makes wooden products spice racks, clothes driers, breadboards and ....ironing boards. My role yesterday was to ask them about their work, quality, safety and stand and watch them work and assess their competency. I was exhausted doing this so how they feel at the end of a shift I really don't know and yet they were full of fun and energy, proud of their workmanship and love what they do.
I will remember them when I moan about my ironing and remember all the hard work and love that goes into making that instrument of torture - the ironing board!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad to Tha Bone and other Taxis!

I've been meaning to write about Taxis for a while - Since the Mount Road off ramp closed actually, and I have had to come off at Albany Road and drive through North End at least twice a week - For those who are reading this overseas - I am not taking about London cabs type of taxi! In South Africa we have a whole different transport system where people carriers that seat 13 passengers are used to transport most of the African population around. It is like nothing experienced in Europe - think drag racing for mini-buses!


The buses themselves are a feast to the eyes - many have parts missing, some are like metal patchwork wonders. When we had the World Cup here - was it only a year ago? A lot of them were replaced - subsidised by FIFA and most are already looking decidedly worn out!

They have names like "Terminator", "Hail Mary", 2fast 2furious and No Limits - I ask you would you get in a vehicle with such a name? They actually all share a common name - "Death Trap". They follow no rules and can not be anticipated. They will stop in front of you whenever is convenient for them, they will pass you on the right, or by cutting in front of oncoming traffic. They will try to turn right from the extreme left lane. They will drive on verges and almost run you off the road trying to gap in. What they won’t do is give you any warning. I am only here to tell the tale because my brakes are serviced regularly and thank Goodness I drive alone - I 'flooked' my way down Govan Mbeki Drive - more than the paintwork on my car was blue!
Bump! Bump! Bump! and that's just the bass from the sound system they have - They're never gonna hear their grandchildren sing - they will ALL be stone deaf before they turn 40!
Apparently the Taxi Industry has just launched an airline - the mind boggles at who will fly with it!



This weekend I am celebrating - The Mount Road off ramp has reopened and I will not have to take my life in my hands navigating North End any more - Sadly thousands of locals who have to use this mode of transport do..... and that is no laughing matter!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pregnant Pauses!

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry recently when one of my learners asked whether I wanted a boy or a girl! I was very flattered that she thought I was young enough to have a baby (I am WAY past that age) and at the same time mortified that my girth gave people the impression that I was five months pregnant! Of course I sucked in what I could of my stomach, made a mental note to correct my posture and laughed - What else can you do?
It reminded me of a 40th birthday party I went to at a particularly splendid venue and looking around and admiring the decor I remarked to the stranger sat next to me that I must remember this venue when it was my 40th - I was almost 45 at the time. She sloshed her wine around her glass - looked me straight in the eye and said, "So you believe in reincarnation do you?" Bitch! I thought but I laughed gaily and glowered at her all night!
Winston Churchill was the master of insults and even greater at responding to them as he did when Lady Astor remarked to him, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison." Churchill replied, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it." and once Bessie Braddock (yes this is a real name) said to him, “Sir, you are drunk.”  and his response was, “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”  It must have been wonderful to have the ability to send those barbed words straight back to the offender.
I am proud to say that I managed it once. I worked with a particularly lovely lady who knew exactly how attractive she was a milked it for all she could. How she got the job she was paid to do I will never know - not a dumb blonde but a very stupid and vain brunette! We were comparing Christmas gifts and I remarked that my husband had bought me the perfume I was wearing - she took my wrist, sniffed and said it was very nice but she wouldn't wear it - it wouldn't suit her."Just as well," I said, "because you certainly couldn't afford it!" I have to admit I felt very smug for several days! I suppose my sister did too when she said announced that, "there are no wrinkles on a balloon." when someone complimented my on my youthful complexion. I had to admire her quick wittedness. Here are a few clever insults.....

If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here by me. -- Alice Roosevelt Longworth

It may be that your whole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. Anon
A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits. -- Edith Sitwell
A modest little person, with much to be modest about. -- Winston Churchill
Don't be so humble, you're not that great. -- Golda Meir
Abstract art? A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered. -- Al Capp
Always willing to lend a helping hand to the one above him. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald (about Ernest Hemingway)
Don't look now, but there's one too many in this room and I think it's you. -- Groucho Marx
Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome. -- Oscar Levant
He's the type of man who will end up dying in his own arms. -- Mamie Van Doren (about Warren Beatty)
He can't help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth. -- Ann Richards (about George Bush)
He couldn't ad-lib a fart after a baked-bean dinner. -- Johnny Carson (about Chevy Chase)
He had a winning smile, but everything else was a loser. -- George C. Scott
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. -- Winston Churchill

...........................     I'll leave Winston to have the last word - He usually did!

Friday, November 4, 2011

MY CREATIVE SPACE.

I believe that we all have the ability to be creative but that many of us choose to believe that they are not. The seeds of doubt are often sown in a childhood where someone laughed at a painted masterpiece or tutted at a hand-stitched offering. The lucky ones are those that rediscover their innovative talents as adults and more and more people are realising that using your imagination is an important form of relaxation and brings inner satisfaction. I enjoy all types of needlework and always have something on needles somewhere in a basket to pick up and stitch or knit. I have tried decoupage, mosaics and love most crafts but my love of photography feeds my latest love affair – Scrapbooking.
I started scrapbooking several years ago with a lady called Helen Kingsley – she was bravely battling cancer and had decided to leave a photo albums and journal for her sons. I loved spending time sorting through my photos and she really encouraged me to select photographs that told a story and look at scrapbooking in a different way. I started scrapping and journaling my travels and experiences seeing my holiday snaps in a new light. Sadly she has since passed away but when I am absorbed in putting a layout together I hear her advice and comments guiding me in the right direction.

When Jessica was born I started an album for her and again when Craig followed – I have limited myself to two pages per year to record milestones in their lives and record our times together.

I am lucky to have found a space in PE that brings out the best of my creative side. I just have to walk into this space and my brain shifts into right brain mode and ideas start to flow. I just LOVE going into the Scrapbook Nook as you are just surrounded with positives vibes and inspiration.
Whether it is spelled out in patterned and decorated letters or shouts out at me from a beautifully created vision board. It really is the perfect place to find your mojo and get busy making something.
Philipa and her daughter Cassandra just pour love into this unique place and are always there giving encouragement and keeping us up to date with new techniques and the most tempting papers and embellishments.

And talking of temptation – Cassandra has opened a patisserie next door called EAT to feed us body and soul! The most mouth watering red velvet cupcakes taste even better eaten in a bright green armchair with a cuppa and a copy of Ideas magazine on hand to relax with.

It’s my sanctuary – a place that provides downtime from my busy job and where I can forget about responsibility and feed my artistic soul. A place where strangers become friends and where people share their ideas and their scraps generously. I always leave with a sense of accomplishment and a spring in my step and my family get to admire what I have done with their photos. I love to make mini albums, creative cards, tags and paper crafts for my home and family.

There are so many talented and creative people in this area and guess what you are probably one of them!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What are those fowers saying?

I asked for some ideas for blog topics and am hoping to get around to writing on all of them - Thank You! I wills start with Sue who asked me too blog on flowers and their meanings. I looked up what the different flowers used to mean and then have done my own modern interpretation.
The language of flowers, sometimes called florigraphy, was a Victorian means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through  Tussie Mussies, an art which still has a following today.
The nuances of the language are now mostly forgotten, but red roses still imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a lesser affection; white roses suggest virtue and chastity and yellow roses stand for friendship or devotion. the Lily signified beauty and Sunflowers indicated either haughtiness or respect - I think they just represent sunshine!
Daisy means innocence or purity. Iris, being named for the messenger of the gods in represents the sending of a message. Anemone signifies disappearance of hope. Pansies (my favourite) signify thoughtfulness,  daffodils regard, and a strand of ivy fidelity. Quite bizarrely bright orange Marigolds stood for pain or grief (no wonder I don't like them) and Lime blossom for fornication (I didn't know that the Victorians did this).

This got me thinking about today's language of flowers. If you get two bunches of roses...it means they were BOGOF (buy one get one free) on special at Woollies. If you get roses that actually have a fragrance then I got them out of Sean's garden  - he has hundreds of rose bushes. It also means I have a plaster on my finger because they have thorns too! If you get Geberas...it means that the roses were too expensive and at least you can get away with putting 2 or 3 in a vase. If you get chrysanthemums...it means that its late in the month and these were the cheapest bunch I could find. If you get proteas... then I came to you via Mount Pleasant and Dale's had them in front in a bucket and they were really cheap. Ivy, Arums or geraniums mean that I really had no time/money and I got them out of the garden. If you get a bunch of lillies ....it means that you are going to get stains from the pollen on your best tablecloth.

....and this is for Johanne who asked me to blog about the widening waistline that comes with age. If you get flowers (instead of chocolates) it means that your friends think that you are too wide around the middle and don't want you to get any fatter by giving you chocolates. LOL! come to think of it I get a lot of flowers and no chocolate!

I hope this gives some clarity to the modern day meaning of flowers. PS I couldnt find any lime blossom in my garden!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Today has been a milestone day in my life! I went to a new hairdresser. This may seem a little melodramatic to some of you but to me it really is a champagne moment - you see I have been in an abusive relationship with my previous hairdresser for many years - fifteen of them if my memory serves me right! During this time I have had many hair raising moments as she has been through two ...or three husbands - I may have been under the dryer for one of them. She has also had every operation a woman can have and I have been subjected to graphic details of her intestines and have an intimate knowledge of her medical aid plan.
Her bazaar collection of friends have sat next to my at the basin while she gave them drug/HIV/alcohol counselling and once I sat next to a Maltese poodle at the basin - I was too afraid to ask why he was there.
I have also empathised when her domestic stole all her possessions, bought handcrafted 'jewellery' to try and keep her above the poverty line and have a drawer full of hair products that I will never use!
Why? I hear you asking, did you not get out of there soon? Well she's very good with my hair, and those of you who know me well know that I have a problematic relationship with my hair....or lack of it! Her hairdressing skills were beyond reproach but her life was an ongoing saga of bad fortune and instead of walking out from my pamper session feeling uplifted and renewed, I walked out of there with beautiful hair but feeling inwardly like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards!

The salon itself was looking tattier and tattier - the silk flowers dustier, the magazines a decade old and the towels worn and there have been times when I have sat looking at myself waiting for my colour to take, itching to get up and clean the mirror with a vinegar solution to cut through grime! I feel it many have been getting to the point when I would have to inspect the hairbrush for poodle hair before my blow dry!
The decision was made a fortnight ago when I received an SMS to tell me her husband had passed away (very inappropriate I know) and in the moment that I read it I had a fast forward to what future hair appointments would become - grief counselling sessions and heartless as it sounds - I just couldn’t do that! I realised that I have been putting her needs before mine and then paying her for the privilege of rescuing her! What an idiot I am!

So today - I sat in a modern, well equipped salon listening to gentle music and the lively chatter of happy people around me. I was offered coffee - a trendy selection of magazines and some tasty snippets of gossip from my new hairdresser - he's tall, dark, handsome and soooo gay! I felt like a million dollars when I walked out and my hair........FABULOUS!
PS. Yes - I feel a tad guilty - I suppose when you have had the same person messing with your head for fifteen years that's normal.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another lovely day in PE and a sure sign that Spring has well and truly arrived and I can officially come out of hibernation. I have spent the morning sorting out my wardrobe and packing away winter stuff - I feel lighter already - but I am most definitely NOT! Most of my summer things that I found don't fit me and I suspect the ones that do are sitting in a charity shop in St Helens. In an irrational moment brought on by luggage hysteria - I left the summer things that did fit me in the UK. How I am going to get through summer without my trusty white linen skirt, I really don't know...and don't suggest I buy another because the shops are full of  the weirdest assortment of attire.
 When you reach a certain age (or is that a certain weight) shopping for clothes becomes problematic. I am struggling because:-
  • I need sleeves to conceal my wobbly upper arms and most of the stuff in the shops is sleeveless or has those little cap sleeves that just make arms look bigger.
  • Anything with a belt has belt loops or elastic just about under my armpits! Everything here seems to be made in China and oriental ladies must be very short waisted. My waistline as I remember it (it seems to have disappeared), is about 6 inches lower.
  • I am just not going to wear mustard, brown and burnt orange  - this is Africa -say no more!
  • I want fabrics that let me skin breathe in the scorching southern hemisphere summer - not chiffon and nylon.
  • Its hard to do frills when you are over 50!
So it looks as if I will have to muddle through with what I have and pray that Mrs WW takes pity on us fifty somethings. Is it just me that is having a wardrobe crisis or is it a global phenomena???

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'Raisin' my level of mindfulness.

I am on a training programme -  being developed - being stretched and loving it. I am acquiring the skills to become a business coach and as well as being exposed to new information and modern thinking around positive psychology, there is the practical element around the honing of listening and questioning skills.
We have also been exposed to a number of activities and exercises to encourage 'mindfulness'. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience as it is happening.  In practice sessions we have breathed in such a way as to pay special attention as to where that breath is going - even to the point of imagining the colour of it. We have relaxed our body one part at a time - starting at our toes and working our way up to our scalp - yes I have learned that you can contract and relax your scalp! We have conjured up in our minds scenes of great beauty, places we didn't want to leave and we have mentally immersed ourselves into cool streams and freshly mown grass. All of this has been enlightening and truly enjoyable - raising awareness of ourselves and our world. And that is how I found myself this morning sat in Central having a conversation with a raisin!
We had to study our raisin, touch our raisin, smell our raisin, taste our raisin and listen to our raisin! I tried very hard to be mindful but all I could think about are some of the conversations that I would have with my raisin and other fruits.
  • Would there be a bitter argument with a lemon?
  • Sour grapes?
  • A crisp conversation with a Golden Delicious?
  • Contemplation with a 'navel' orange?
  • Talking with a plum in my mouth?
  • Celebrate by going bananas?
  • Say pretty please with a cherry on top?
  • Be a perfect pear?
  • Let it be known who is the apple of my eye?
  • Get passionate with a grenadilla?
  • Ask the fruit of the palm tree for a date?
  • Dig up some juicey gossip?
All of this is very corny - is that a vegetable or a cereal? I tried very hard to be mindful with my raisin but  the sweet temptation of jumping into the fruit bowl was just too good to resist!
Seriously though I shall practice being mindful every day and will be 'raisin' my 'currant' levels of mindfulness at every opportunity.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I was sent an email last week that was so full of wisdom that I went back to read it over and over and I am still pondering on it . That happens sometimes - the universe directs something to you that you really need to see or hear. I thought that I would share it with you.









It reminded me to be brave and brought back a memory of a time I briefly worked for a company who had a security guard who was absent from work. I was instructed to discipline him and take off the days pay from his salary. He was an quiet man who was not in the habit of staying away. When I spoke to him I found out that his 9 year old daughter had been raped by a neighbour and he had spent the time trying to get help for her and for his distraught wife. I reported this to my boss who told replied impatiently ,"I don't care - he wasn't here and we cant pay him!" When I protested and asked  to make an exception under the circumstances on compassionate grounds, he went on to say that if we pay him then everyone will come and claim their child has been raped! I was astounded and I decided my self that there was no way that my values would allow me to deduct money from this poor guy.
A couple of weeks later I was found out and hauled over the coals for 'going against company policy' and 'insubordination' but I didn't care. The moment I found out that my boss was capable of such inhumanity - I decided to leave, and within three months I had another job.When I handed my resignation in, I took in the Company's pompous mission statement off the wall - it said something like, "we value our employees and  we know our success is because of them." I told the MD he was not qualified to put it back on the wall - that it was dishonest to do so!
I felt very brave that day and knew that I had done the right thing - it felt so good! I spoke the truth and yes my voice wobbled - but I got the words out. That company no longer exists - I wonder why???

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's that time of the year...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, sisteen 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."   

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time flies when you are having fun!


I can't understand people who say they are bored - truly! I never seem to have enough time for everything that I want to do. Take today - I wanted to walk, garden, read, stitch and sort my wardrobe out. I managed to do none of that - I made the error of looking through my scrapbooking stuff! Before I knew what I was doing - my photographs were out and then I remember very little until 8pm. I was lost in paper heaven!

I love recording my travels and I relive the pleasure of my journeys as I am organising my photographs, choose colours and paper and embellish the pages. Today I was following a swan's progress on the River Leven in Cumbria. Playing with the photographs taken in May, I remember the light dancing on the river, the rush of water as it gushed under the bridge and towards the weir, the wild flowers peeping in the hedgerows and the scent of rain on the breeze. Its hard to put all of that into a page - but I enjoyed trying.

I also scrapbooked a page of flower close ups that I took on my visit to the Uk this Spring - I used pinks, lilacs and purple to back my photographs and called my page -The earth laughs in flowers! I enjoyed every bloom and can remember where I took the photograph of each one. A peony in Julia's garden, heady lilacs by the boat mooring, wisteria tumbling around a doorway in Tonbridge and a perfect emerald leaf on the forest floor in Wiltshire.

My third page of the day took me to a visit to the family in Pretoria where I watched Jessica playing in water fountains at the Irene shopping mall  - simple fun, enjoying the moment, dodging the splashes and getting a soaking. Life is built one moment at a time to be lived and enjoyed! Whilst she was playing a group of singers were performing opera and we listened to Andrea Bocceli's favourite 'Con Te Patiro' which always bring a lump to my throat and a smile to my lips at the same time! I am making albums for Jessica and Craig and limit myself to two pages a year so that I can give them a couple of albums each and a record of thier growing up. Its hard to be so disciplined so the pleasure of finishing one of Jessica's pages is super special!

A day well spent I think - The garden, stitching and my wardrobe will have to wait until another day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Governments don't raise children - Parents do!


 I can't believe my eyes as I watch BBC showing the rioting and lawlessness that some cities in Britain are being subjected to! Instantly the state of the nation and the government is blamed but actually governments don't raise children - parents do!
I have relations with children who are the same age as those who are smashing shop windows and helping themselves to iPhones and TV sets, and they aren't doing this. Why? Because they know that if they brought anything home that was stolen or they couldn't explain where the money to buy it had come from - then they would be punished and quite likely be marched down to the police station to explain to the authorities where they had got it from. No - I don't blame the government or the police - these thugs have parents - who have been too busy or too lazy to raise their children with discipline and to value responsibility and respect.

Having had four sons - I know the challenges that parents face. We once took one of our own sons to Kabega Park Police station for some misdemenour and told them to lock him up for the night! Of course they didn't (but we were quite prepared to leave him there) but the message was clear - If you break the law don't expect us to protect you - and if you are old enough to do wrong then you must be prepared to suffer the consequences.
Sadly a lot of modern parents seem to have opted out of the responsibility that comes with having children - preferring to be a 'friend' to their child or buying good behaviour with expensive rewards. This is to the detriment of all of society as once they are an adult they have no respect for authority and little idea of their role to serve the community.
Now the same parents are being held to ransom by lawless mobs but so too is everyone else. I am not sure how they are going to undo a generation of bad parenting but perhaps if you know your child was involved then some tough love is in order. The last few nights have been a violent reality check and its time to take ownership of your responsibility as a parent. Don't blame the government - blame  yourself!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My month so far....

All work and no play maketh me a dull person! I have had a hectic schedule this month but I have tried to find interesting things to do to relieve the monotony of work. Books and movies have been a welcome distraction when its dark by 6pm.

I have been watching a British DVD series Irene) and Ann Reid (Vera). Vera and Irene reveal their exploits and adventures to each other in their letters and e-mails, but sometimes their correspondence becomes fractious when one accuses the other of being an alcoholic or engages in too much one-upmanship. Nevertheless, when the chips are down and the going gets tough, each is instantly there for the other, like a charge of the cavalry albeit with a rather sarcastic bugle call.
Other recurring characters include people like :-   Howard Small ("Howie"), Vera's gay son, who runs a sheep farm near the village of Great Shagthorn with his business and personal partner, Anthony Flowers ("Ants"). Howie and Ants have a daughter, "Small-Flowers". Kare n, Vera's daughter, with whom she has a difficult relationship. Karen's second husband, St. John (pronounced "sin-john"), is a vet with whom Vera has an excellent relationship. St. John is also revealed to be the biological father of Baby Small-Flowers; They have two children together - Nelson (who has unusually long legs) and Millie (so-named after her premature arrival around the time of the new "Minnellium" ) Sabrina Small is Karen's daughter from her first marriage;  Lesleyis Irene's daughter, who lives in Australia with her second husband Brian and their two children, Cheryl-Marie (from Lesley's first marriage; 'Cheryl' pronounced "CHAIR-ull") and Bubbles. Brian has noticeably had a hair transplant, and he has a squint that Lesley finds embarrassing.
Vera and Irene always strive to outdo each other, whether with their recipes, holiday destinations or who has the best grandchildren. Each episode kept me laughing and I am very reassured that there are families out there wackier than my own - I am so sorry that I  have finished watching both series - I believe there are more for me to order.

On the dowside I went to see a movie on Saturday, Horrible Bosses, that got 4 stars and was the worst piece of cinema that I have seen in a long time. How Kevin Spacey, who I really admire, got conned into getting involved with it I dont know but it was neither funny or entertaining - just badly acted gross attempt at humour!

I have read a book by S J Watson about a woman who forgets everything each night when she sleeps and has to start ( I can relate to memory loss) each day afresh - a well written debut novel. I believe the film rights have been sold and look forward to seeing this on the big screen.

I have just started reading  A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marena De Blasi which has captivated me from its opening scene of an impromptu alfresco village feast of fried zucchini blossoms, fennel-roasted pork, and pudding made from the cream of a local blue-eyed cow. It is a memoir of the seasons in a small Tuscan village that is rich with food, weather, romance and, above all, life! I loved her Thousand Nights in Venice so much as I had been to Venice - I know when I have read this I will want to go to Tuscany!

I have skyped S & N in Melborne and managed to do a little scrap booking and plan to do more in the breathing space that this week brings.  I am tired now of rain, cold and long winter nights - roll on Spring and new adventures.