Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slow,Slow, Quick, Quick Slow!

Slow, Slow, Quick Quick Slow!

Last week I had 2 very different experiences - both new and both fun!
I drove a tractor - A Massey Furgerson - no less! I am told that this is the tractor to have and this particular one is almost Vintage but chugs to life at the flick of a switch as if it was landed here from England yesterday and not 35 years ago! I had no idea that tractors had such a complex gear system and the model I drove had no power steering so turns had to be planned ahead and controlled with much tugging on the wheel. I could only go forward at this stage and I managed to drive around a grassed area without knowing where the break was while fearless V stood far too close taking photos - Brave man!

I also attended dance lessons at Ben's Dance Studio where I discovered that you also need power steering to do the turns as quickly as Ben! I am dancing with a vintage model too and we chug around quite well in time to the music in second gear! I have read that dancing lessons are a good place for singles to meet but as far as I can work out,  there is only one guy who comes on his own and gets to dance with whichever female hasn't got a partner. He bobs around quite energetically with a huge grin on his face - I hang onto my partner for dear life in case he comes and bobs and grins in my direction!
So far we have learned how to do the Modern Jive, Quickstep, a little Salsa and last night we learned the Promenade Hold and Walk to add some fancy flourishes to to our dance steps. I have found that it is all very pleasant and civilized being led around the dance floor in a vice like grip while your partner concentrates and counts - One - Two - Three - Together! It is a lot different from dancing classes in my school years where, if you were a tall girl at our all girl school, you got to dance the male way - forward - just like my tractor driving - full steam ahead! When I danced a real dance with a boy - we both stepped forward together and bumped heads. Even now almost 50 years on - I still have to fight the urge to dance forwards!
A lot of my fun comes from watching the others in our group taking it all so seriously - Lots of sweet young couples perhaps learning to dance for the bridal march - We are the oldest by far!! I  have a lot to learn but am looking forward to the first social where I am sure the mirror ball is illuminated and there will be a dash of Lycra and sequins, by then I shall be gliding gracefully around the floor - not chugging - and perhaps the counting will have stopped.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Man Cave

I have recently quipped that, "I am a prisoner in a man cave and I hide the key from myself everyday."The official definition of a mancave is " a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities"

Being a bachelor for ten years has meant that V has been able to tailor make his abode to his personality and everything about it says 'I am a man!' Man caves are pretty cool - if you are a man! There is a whole website devoted to them which tells you the term was first used in 1992  - there are some wonderful man spaces here to browse at. Many of them involve cigars, beer and car paraphernalia but Vs mancave is a totally functional living space - Its not a room in the house - It is the house! It has taken me some getting used to the spartan existence and I will give you an idea of what his space is like - a combination of what is to be expected in a male domain together with some unique personal touches.

THE SHELF: Most mancaves have a shelf - or at least a drawer - full of STUFF! STUFF is a collection of wires, screws, old chargers, the odd empty jar and perhaps a folded piece of paper with hieroglyphics on.It looks like this:

THE BOOK COLLECTION: Mencave dwellers don't read fiction - they want the facts, the truth and nothing but the truth! I was quite impressed to see Enid Blyton in this collection but this man has a soft spot for his grandchildren and these were picked up at a booksale to entertain them with when they visit. Mein Kamp and war books are not negotiable - and not for grandchildren!

Remotes, Remotes Remotes - mostly without batteries so to work anything you have to take the batteries out of one set to get the other to connect. this all adds to the fun and satisfies the need to 'tinker' with things! Rubic Cubes are pretty common and man size torch is the ultimate decor accessory!

This mancave has a very African collection of Assegais, carved walking sticks and a knobkerrie and a commissioned officers sword which is very useful for pirate impersonations. There has to be a pocket knife or Letterman in the arsenal or some other tool with lots of little fiddly bits for tinkering. Yes ladies that is where all these things are and why the man of the house uses the end of your steak knives to fix things inside the house!  This arsenal includes an interesting hat too! The dust next to it is all part of the mancave look!

The cutlery drawer has an assortment of mismatched knives, forks and teaspoons and ONE dessert spoon. When V has company he very politely allows guests to use the ONE spoon and he uses a rather large serving spoon! The kitchen area has everything a man needs to exist - a microwave and a kettle and a fridge!

The money that could have bought nice crockery and cutlery has been spent - nay invested - in THE sound system. V could host a rock concert with this speakers with all the bells, whistles, tweeters and volume a real man could hope for. More volume than is necessary for Jim Reeves and Brook Benton!

Yes this is also a decor must and has a dual purpose when not in use, clothes can be hung on the apparatus. note the eye catching man sized fire extinguisher for when sparks fly off this machine! This mancave sports a rowing machine (well we are close to the Dusi River) and an inverter -  very useful for hanging upside down - this could mean I am in the Bat cave!

The man has just looked over my shoulder and feels the need to defend himself and his cave and wants me to tell  you that he is very civilised. His luxurious bathroom boasts a bidet and he does have framed poetry on the wall as a man of culture would have! He also has electricity (sometimes) and a wi-fi connection. Percale sheets (but lumpy bumpy pillows) and plenty of nice smelling soap and hot water. There is an old landrover and a vintage tractor parked below and of course - a bakkie!

In reality this mancave is a very relaxed, restful and comfortable space painted in earthy shades of ochre and spice. It is upstairs and has a view of the treetops and a large thatch.  It is furnished in creative natural wood and home made furniture  Although spartan it has everything a person needs to live well and it reflects the warm, relaxed, creative nature of its owner. It's a space that says, "I am happy to be me." and "I am comfortable with who I am and have no need to impress or compete with others." and above all a space that says "Welcome." Joking aside - I am happy in this place and that has all that I really need.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness seems to be a state that eludes many people - it's very evident from the glum faces that surround us daily - at work, while shopping, driving and even on holiday. Yes - I was once on holiday in Paradise aka Mauritius and greeted the other breakfast diners with a happy face on our first morning, only to be looked at with sullen dismay! "SMILE!" I wanted to shout - "Be Happy - You are in a tropical fairyland!" Granted they were French, but alas even cheery a "Bonjour!" didn't do the trick. My further attempts at French during the holiday, did bring an unattractive smirk to the faces of a few but c'est la vie!
Happiness is something that is so easy to find, if only one will look around. It starts with gratitude and being thankful for each day that is given to you to enjoy - a gift to be unwrapped each morning and celebrated. This year I took the challenge (Thank You Samantha Bowers) to submit photos to a facebook site called #100happydays thinking that it would be a reminder to look for happiness for the next 100 days. I have found my biggest challenge is not finding a happy moment but choosing which happy moment to photograph and post. Over the last month I have been drawn to this site to see what is making others happy as I suspected that perhaps my happy moments were a little mundane - I had fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others which is the biggest cause for unhappiness that I know of!
Here you will see that it is not the big things that make people happy but the simple moments of joy that truly define us. It has also surprised me that whatever nationality you are, wherever you are in the world it seems that the same things make us happy and the site is full of .........

  • Proud photos of children, small love tokens and notes left by those we love,
  • Birthday celebrations
  • The adoring eyes of our pets 
  • Simple meals shared with a friend or a stranger. 
  • Having our aging parents still with us and being in the presence of wisdom brings happiness
  • The unconditional love of good friends and particularly of our parents is a joy. 
  • Pretty blue nail polish and a flower in your hair brings happiness to some while others are grateful for surviving cancer and other illnesses.
  • A scenic view of a mountain ranks the same as a city skyline if you are in a happy place.
  • Creating things whether baked, grown, painted or stitched gives a sense of fulfillment to many.
Nowhere on this site are there pictures of expensive cars, yachts or luxury items - OK there is the odd pair of designer shoes but we ladies can all relate to that! Mostly the photos are of people with people they love.
It's food for thought that we seem to think that material things are what make us happy and therefore we spend most of our life chasing a rainbow in search of the pot of gold when in reality our own home, garden and life is paved with gold.
I agree that the pursuit of happiness need not be measured in days and there will inevitably be times when we feel sadness, anger, loneliness and frustration. We need to understand that to be human we will experience a colourful spectrum of emotions - all of them ours to own and to express. More often than not we feel a flurry of different things at the same time. I don't want to merely be happy for 100 days - I want to experience all human emotions - curiosity, spontaneity, excitement, bliss, grief, resentment, surprise, restlessness, excitement, euphoria and peace and all of what life throws at me - along with the many happy moments
I have also noticed that many people depend on others to make them happy - they give the key to their happiness to others who then have the power to turn their happiness on or off as they turn that key. Likewise there are some who tolerate the cruel and unacceptable behaviour of people towards them and either suffer in silence or complain about them to anyone who will listen. It makes sense that if someone or something is making you unhappy then you need to act to change that. We teach people how to treat us and they can only treat you badly with your permission.
So - I am grateful for each  happy moment during the day and will continue as long as I live to photograph and savour these moments - celebrating life and the universe in all its glory. Be Happy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SH** Happens!!!!!

I thought I would share with you an interesting topic of discussion from Book Club the other night. We are a group of over 50s - some happily married and others happily single having experienced the pleasures of dating in later life.  Its hard enough to meet someone in that age bracket but a meeting of minds will unfortunately lead to shared space where two bodies will have to navigate the physical side of a relationship - and I am not talking about the bedroom here but the bathroom!
 I confessed that since I had met V I had become a master of control - this is the windy city after all but I have never considered myself a windy sort of person. I surmised that it's like running out of tea or coffee - as soon as you know there is none in the house you just want some. Its the same with wind - the situations where you know that you just cannot 'let off' become a desperate battle of control. Yes - I have learned to pass wind through my ears with the only tell tale sign is a gentle blowing back of my hair and providing I eat enough Turkish Delight  - a gentle rose scented waft. It was quite challenging to perfect but I feel confident enough now to practice in public.
The bathroom proved a greater challenge. At home its not difficult at all - I have an en-suite which is mine - ALL MINE and two other bathrooms to escape into. However the problems start when you go for romantic weekends away and there is only one bathroom. Number ones are a doddle but number twos are a nightmare of planning. Taps are turned on - showers run and little bottles of essential oils become really essential if one is to maintain the English rose reputation. I was managing pretty well until the trip to Graaf Rienet. We awoke to clanging pipes and a dry shower head. V was summoned to bring male expertise to the situation and when the water still didn't flow, he went to find out what the problem was and was told that they were draining the reservoir. Thankfully I was prepared with a hand-bagful of wipes. Dating over 50 requires that you carry moist wipes for every bit of your anatomy and I was so glad that I had heeded this advice. V washed with what bottled water we had and was ready for breakfast. "I'll be there just now - when I have got my hair right." Anxious for coffee - he went ahead and I spied my chance and headed to the bathroom  for a much needed number 2 - Great!!! Until I went to flush the toilet - I had forgotten that it needed water!!!!! No water!!!! A whole loo roll was torn and wrapped and placed on top of the evidence and generously sprayed with half a bottle of Issey Miyake perfume. A prayer of thanks was offered for Issey Miyake! The toilet seat was placed firmly down - if I had had nails and a hammer it would have been permanently sealed. Every window was flung open and I left for breakfast with the bathroom door closed behind me and my bags packed for a quick getaway.
Breakfast was lovely - and our hosts chatty and friendly.We made light of the fact that we really were having a 'dirty' weekend away! Just as we were sipping the last of our tea they announced that they had heard that the water was back on. V took this as his cue to get going and strode purposefully towards our room, unlocked the door and horror of horror walked towards the bathroom. "STOP" I commanded in such a loud fashion and not at all like an English rose - he looked at me startled. "What's the matter?" he inquired. "There is something that I have to tell  you," I cringed and confessed my crime. I had not just spent a penny but a shilling! He laughed at me................!

This story was topped by a book club member who knows a friend of a friend who stayed over for the first time at a new lover's apartment. She liked him, she really really liked him and the evening went fabulously well . He had to leave early for work so he invited her to take her time, shower and just close the door behind her - he would call her soon - very soon! She languished in a bubble bath and then used the toilet. When flushing it she found to her horror that it floated - no matter how many times she flushed - just one little bit would not flush away. Apparently a lack of fibre in the diet is the cause of this. What to do???? Can't leave it here - I really like him! So for that reason - it was fished out and wrapped and wrapped in loo paper to make a neat little parcel. Clever girl to take it home with her! Ready for off and on her way out she stopped to leave a note of thanks, a reminder for him to call her as she had had a really lovely evening. She picked up her bag and walked out - closing the door behind her and then stopped in her tracks when realising what she had left behind - in a neat little parcel next to the note!!!  We thought this was hilarious - but I know that the person involved will die a thousand deaths every time she recalls that door closing behind her. He never called her - I think she's relieved that he didn't!

So I suppose that sums up our choices. Eat fibre and learn to pass wind through your ears or risk having to make little parcels to take away. A catch 22 situations if ever there was one! There is a lot to be said for a single life. Dating after the age of fifty is only for the fearless!

PS. I arrived home from book club to a message to phone V. "Hmm - I have found your dentures," he informed me sounding a tad confused and bemused. "My DENTURES!" Yikes....He had been on a little treasure hunt looking for sweets and came across an interesting packet - he opened it to find my tooth bleaching trays smiling back at him on the molds provided for them so that they keep their shape. I laughed - I smiled - showing my pearly whites - All my own of course...for now!!