Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Cup of Kindness....

Ten pm and I am in bed - So what you may think....but this is 31 December and the rest of the world are attending a big party! Life is different - I am different and its a wonderful feeling when you take the pressure off yourself to conform and just do what you really want to.
Christmas was also different this year and it was the most relaxed that I have had since I was a child when all the grown ups did the work and the kids just enjoyed. I was up in Natal having bought and wrapped the gifts for the family before I left so it was just a couple of hours of shopping left to do up there. Granted I worked quite hard decorating the Christmas Trees at the Lodge but I enjoyed it - I kept it simple and took my time.
We went out for Christmas Lunch to Lythwood Lodge here so there was no rushing around at the last minute looking for Brussels sprouts, cranberries or for jelly. One year I started to gather my ingredients together to make a trifle and some mince pies only to discover that Tony had emptied the cupboard and taken it all  to EP Children's Home causing panic and a near divorce!  Of course I missed seeing family and friends but I had Skype time and was able to see and hear all that Father Christmas had bought for the grandies. I thought that Christmas lunch out would be a soulless affair but at Lythwood the Christmas decor was festive, there were Christmas crackers on the table, we were surrounded by happy families and the food also great - I was pleasantly surprised by it all and best news was there was no washing up. After lunch we languished on a shady stoep drinking in the view and some chilled something - it was incredibly hot, 38C and I was so relieved that I hadn't had to do the cooking.
V was supposed to be here with me for 'twixmas' and New Year but things didn't worked out as they should have. I spent some catchup time with friends and family and of course a sleepover with the little people in my life - I cancelled my Plett plans when the weather didn't look like improving and got stuck into chores here. there is something therapeutic about cleaning and de-cluttering on 31 December - almost like wiping the slate clean.
So last night it was me and my photographs. Scrap booking, Fireworks on TV - a short messenger chat with my Singapore son at 6pm our time - midnight there - and a longer chat with my man in Natal. So ended the year - quietly, peacefully. No Okey Kokey! No Knees Up Mother Brown! The year just fizzled out and 2015 crept in quietly.
Long may this simple life last - T'is my resolution for 2015 - Don't sweat the small stuff ...... or any stuff for that matter, Keep it Simple. Be Kind, Give thanks for small mercies and Embrace change - There will be a lot of it in 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I started this blog two weeks ago so I will finish it in true Sue style - I like closure!!

Well a whole month has gone - Swoosh - at the speed of light November came and went so I can't do my regular 'Peek at my Week' more like a run down of the run up to December!
Where I have been?
I have been dashing around at the speed of lightening and clocked up about 4000kms! I had the privilige to go back up to Vredendal for work and this time V came with me. We drove and the ten hour journey was a doddle after our trips up and down to Natal - and the scenery on the Langkloof lovely. We resisted stopping in at Ronnie's Sex Shop and made our way through Worcester and  Citrusdale. Our B&B in Vredendal was a quaint farm to V's delight with a view of the long rail bridge that spans the valley to Saldana. We were booked into the Vry-Kamer (Kissing Room) - a huge joke as we passed out after an early start, a long drive and pizza for a hasty supper - Dining out in Vredendal is not just limited but none existent on a Sunday night!
As we left we popped into Clan William, a historic little town where people settled in 1725. Nothing much seems to have changed since then! It was named after the Earl of Clanwilliam and is one of the ten oldest towns in South Africa. We enjoyed lunch there and explored the High Street in ten minutes flat before we departed for Saldana Bay for the second part of my work. We then had a night in Paternoster and an overnight stay with Vs daughter in Cape Town and arrived back on Saturday to pack again - V for Natal and me for East London. PHEW!
Who I have met?
More lovely learners in Vredendal and Saldanah who have valiantly made their way through a leadership programme. One in particular stood out for me - I could see he had had a hard life, apart from the fact that his skin was the colour of Namaqualand earth - he had the look of a person who knew what it was to survive against the odds, and when he gave his presentation he told me that he had been working on the mines for 20 years (he is now 35) and learning in a group situation for him didn't come easy. He had lived on his wits since he could remember and the only thing he had of value was what he knew about his job and about mining, and it didn't come easy to him to share the only wealthy that he had. His knowledge was his only currency and he had learned to protect it. What a lot of us take for granted, he had fought hard for.
I met Vs young grandsons again for the second time and we had some fun time in front of my camera. We also bumped into the lovely Austrian owner of Ilse du Paine in Knysna as we passed through. Sadly he was locking up as we called for coffee and we had to go elsewhere but I had a bread making lesson with this lovely man a few years ago and remember his passion for his craft so well. He truly believes in our daily bread and he speaks knowledgeably about today's allergies and gluten intolerance and blames it on poor quality, over processed flour and ingredients and he reminded me again to be mindful of what and how we eat.
What I have bought?
I bought a heart made of shells from a young boy on the beach in Paternoster, as he walked and threaded small shells on a piece of strong wire - he spoke no English - only Afrikaans - and V translated as he answered my questions. He told me it was R30 and that he would give the money to his family to buy bread. He was 9 years old and didn't go to school  - he obviously lived in the cottages where the fishing families live and I wondered sadly what his future held. I also stocked up with my usual collection of marmalade, rusks and home made goodies on route including a lovely rose scented candle that can make me feel as if I am in a summer garden in the UK when I close my eyes!
What I have learned?
Not a new lesson but a repeat of an old one - I have learned how when the end of November comes, I am so so ready for a holiday as I have given everything to my learners and these weeks ahead are about giving back to me if I am to be of any use next year. I have again learned that the universe provides what I need and has its own plan for me - we think we are in control of our lives but we are not! The sun sets everyday whether you want it to or not! I have also learned that I can make a Christmas type fruit cake surprisingly easily out of what lies in my food cupboard - and that V can demolish it overnight! I have again realised that V and I travel easily together - Long distances in a car often challenge a relationship - they seem to build ours! I am looking forward to the road ahead.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shopping madness

While I was in the shops today I remembered this..... It's an excerpt from a talk I did for retired people on the joys of being a parent of adult children!
"One Saturday morning in December – THE Saturday morning when no sane person leaves their home – I find myself gridlocked on route to Greenacres. My Christmas gifts were bought, wrapped, ribboned and ready. “MOM the bright cheery voice says – you have to help me or there will be a divorce." That sort of limits your options to refuse – they know this! "I’ve bought her Xmas gift but I haven’t got the other stuff – I looked under the tree this morning and she has got me all these little things! And I haven’t got those for her and I’m working." "Stocking fillers," I reply. "Please Ma – I need some you know - girls stuff".Unfortunately I do know – I have been rescuing my sons since their teens and have bought more “girls stuff’ than I care to remember!I even got a call the day before my youngest got married (no – not the ring that was taken care of) I answered the phone to a cheery “Hello mom and was immediately suspicious! "I haven’t got a tie for tomorrow.""But it’s your wedding day – how can you forget to get a tie!" 
"I am running around today doing all sorts – she’s given me a list! Mom will you get me a tie?" I sighed,"What colour?" "Blue!" came the reply.
"What shade – light, dark, medium". "THAT blue – the same shade as her bridesmaids are wearing." I haven’t seen the bridesmaids dresses! "Oh mom you know - THAT blue that she loves …its sort of a bluey blue."Three hours later I am stood in the queue at WW with half a dozen ties in my hand in various shades of blue – I am three from the front – I can see the cashier – I can taste the coffee that I am going to have then I get out of this madness – the phone rings! “MOM – have you got the tie yet – I am in the queue paying I say – "Oh thank goodness – because I need 2 the same – My best man needs one too!!" I need wine not coffee!I believe I cured my youngest of his shopping laziness the following year – I got the usual request to get the ”girls stuff” on 24th December when the shops were mad busy and took a deep breath and went off to Walmer Park – fighting my way through the queue in woollies with a silk nightie and some smellies in my hand – I had a brainwave. I popped into cardies on the way out with a little something to pop into the parcel.When we arrived on Xmas morning – I smuggled the gift in – he whipped it off into the bedroom to write on the card and sneaked it under the tree.After Christmas dinner – we opened our gifts. All eyes were on my daughter in law as she opened hers – A range of bath goodies, a lovely silky nightie – and ......a pair of black furry handcuffs. Her face showed surprise – her parents looked horrified – my son's face – PRICELESS!
I haven't been asked to shop for him since - lol!