Friday, December 29, 2006

So, Christmas has been and gone

I always have very mixed feelings about Christmas, for a number of reasons: It all began when I first discovered that there is no way that Jesus was actually born on the 25th of December - to say I was shocked is putting it mildly, it was almost as bad as the day I discovered that there was no Tooth Mouse! To make matters worse, someone then enlightened me as regards the Three Wisemen and I discovered that they were nowhere near the stable on that very important night - they probably only pitched up when Jesus was about 2 years of age. In fact, we don't even know that there were 3 of them, only that there were 3 gifts. Since I discovered these horrible truths I have never felt quite the same about Christmas.

In any event, I decided to embrace the whole notion of Christmas anyway - you know, "goodwill to all men", Christmas mince pies, sweltering in the southern hemisphere in artificial snow bedecked houses etc etc. But somehow I have found that as middle age creeps up on me, it all becomes a bit much... all that shopping, the crowds, tacky Father Christmases (the little red and white guy who, by the way, originated thanks to Coca Cola... another shattering discovery!), cooking this huge meal in the intense heat.... bring on the new year!

On a personal level, Christmas Day is quite a painful one for our family as it was my brother's birthday and since he was killed in 1996, it has become a day to be gotten through, as opposed to a day to be celebrated.

But I have to say that this year Christmas was truly lovely. It started off rather badly on Christmas Eve when I woke up in the morning so dizzy I couldn't think straight! A quick trip to the hospital revealed a sinus related ear problem, but assorted medications soon had me on my feet again, if rather drugged up!

We had my whole family around for a cold Christmas Eve dinner. The girls and I decorated the table beautifully, and went to a lot of trouble with the meal, but did not slave away over a hot stove all afternoon - bonus! Later on in the evening we played the "Christmas present swopping game" which was a lot of fun, the kids lit sparklers, we had Christmas CDs playing in the background. It was all really Christmassy and stress-free.

On Christmas Day we woke up early and the girls unwrapped their gifts - much excitement as for once they had not guessed what they were getting beforehand! We then all went to church together and later on we went out to a hotel for a fantastic lunch. Pure bliss.

Grant's parents arrived on Boxing Day and spent two nights with us. They are always a pleasure to have - not least because my mom-in-law arrives bearing boxes of delicious baked goodies!!

So I think I have laid the Grinch within me to rest this year..... 361 days to Christmas and counting!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Life and Death

For the past couple of weeks I have been following the Atomictumour blog – it has been an emotional rollercoaster as “AT” has shared the details of his beloved wife’s illness and subsequent death. BJ, AT’s wife of 10 years and mother to his 2 young sons, became ill with flu-like symptoms at the beginning of November and her condition deteriorated rapidly, she suffered acute renal failure and subsequently fell into a coma, she died on the 17th of November.

AT’s blog has made compelling, if not always comfortable, reading. Part of what makes this blog so special is AT’s sometimes brutal honesty – he doesn’t sugar-coat any of his experiences. You just have to love this guy for his “humanness” and the love for his wife that radiates out of his posts.

AT’s experience has brought it home to me, yet again, that we truly never know what the future holds. A month ago his wife was a healthy, 29 year old woman and today she is dead. A husband is grieving and two little boys are growing up without a mom. It makes me want to hug my family that bit harder, love them that bit more – while I have the chance.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One cute stationary bike

Anyone who knows me even slightly will know that I am not hugely into exercise. When looking at me, the words "gym bunny" do NOT come to mind. But I have to confess that something strange is happening to me, I am becoming more and more attached to my exercise bicycle! This is surprising to me and completely mind-blowing to my family.

It all started when the mountain bike fanatics in my family decided to purchase the exercise bike (or spinner, as they call it) so that they could ride even when it is raining and the wind is howling outside. I thought they were completely mad - to my mind, bad weather would be an exceedingly good excuse not to ride! In any event, this piece of gym equipment arrived in my home and to begin with I feigned complete lack of interest. I have to confess that right from the start I found it quite fascinating, it has buttons to press and records time, kilometres covered and even calories burned - cute!

One morning, when no-one was home, I decided to climb on the thing, just to feel what it was like. Of course once perched on it, I had to ride it a little, just to see how the calorie counter worked. And so the bug began to bite... But boy did my behind ache! Those seats are really hard and they catch you in all the wrong places. I realised very quickly that if I was going to continue to flirt with this sexy little piece of equipment, I was going to have to borrow some cycling pants from hubby, to cushion my bottom. So, much to his surprise, shock and total amazement, I borrowed a pair of well padded, skin hugging, lycra shorts. (I never thought I would see the day that I would be wearing lycra!!)

A couple of months down the line and I am thoroughly enjoying being on the exercise bike. I have gradually climbed from 5 minute sessions to 20 minute sessions. It seems ridiculous to find exercise relaxing, I would have the thought that the two concepts were mutually exclusive, but I truly do find it relaxing. No-one bothers me while I am on the bike and my thoughts drift lazily about, as I bowl along, going nowhere, slowly. The bonus is that I have dropped a couple of kilos and I am definitely beginning to feel a little firmer.

The family are quite convinced that eventually I will make the move from cycling indoors to braving the great outdoors. They already have their eyes on a mountain bike for me, but it just isn't going to happen. Nope, I am perfectly content to spin away in the comfort of my own home on my sexy little stationary bike.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My bundu bashers

My husband and 16 year old daughter love to mountain bike. A lot. It strikes me as strange, because from what I have seen mountain biking involves an enormous amount of discomfort.

Nearly two years ago my husband fell off his bike, quite spectacularly I gather, and broke both his tibia and fibula, developed a deep vein thrombosis and found himself in ICU with a pulmonary embolism and various pins and other assorted metal bits protuding from his body, all in quick succession. Now that would have put me off the sport - but it didn't deter him from hopping back on that bike in the least. In fact, a few weeks into his recovery, I got home from work to find him riding around the garden on his bike, plaster cast and all.

Having watched the entire above-mentioned episode, one would have thought that my daughter would never, ever want to get on a bike again - but no, she is more enthusiastic than ever.

Earlier this year my hubby and his cycling buddy did the Sani2C, a 3 day mountain-biking event of epic proportions. From what I can gather it involves enormous quantities of mud, mountains, smelly men and tiny tents. It seems that things get so dire that the participants need to coat their nether regions with the cream normally applied to the udders of cattle...... need I say more! This does not sound like a particulary pleasant way to spend 3 days from where I am sitting.

A couple of weeks ago he did a weekend ride called the Source II Wild Coast 2006 - he emerged from this with a smile on his face and the worst case of nappy rash I have ever seen on a grown man - okay the only case of nappy rash I have seen on a grown man, but I digress. Undeterred, he applied some baby bum cream and a week later did the Hill2Hill.

Now don't get me wrong, I am enormously proud of their achievements in this sport, but I just don't get why they do it. Why do something that is seriously uncomfortable, exhausting, sweat-making and dirty? When I asked my daughter this very question she gave me a look of complete incomprehension and said "duh..... because its fun!"

Well yes..., but give me a cosy couch, a slab of dark chocolate and a good book anyday!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

This week has been seriously busy - I am talking non-stop action from 5:30 am on Monday morning.... Tomorrow morning we have to be up bright and early to take Little Daughter to a gala in Durban. So, this afternoon has been a lovely oasis of peace in a frantic week. We have had our first summery day in a long wet patch, which has made it especially pleasant.

Two people close to us had heart attacks in the last week (yes, I do ask myself whether associating with our family should perhaps carry a health warning ;-) Fortunately they are both going to be fine, but it has certainly given our family pause for thought. There is nothing like a health scare to remind one how precious each and every day is. I only wish we could carry that appreciation of the value of each day with us always, without the nasty reminders.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pearls of wisdom

I have recently read a gem of a book called “Frangipani” by Celestine Hitiura Vaite. It’s the simple, yet profound, story of an incredible Tahitian mother and how she copes with everyday issues, from a husband who isn’t too keen to part with his pay check, to nosy relatives and letting go of her children as they get older. In it, the mother has a “coming of age” talk with her daughter, in which she gives her basic rules to live by, pearls of wisdom passed on from mother to daughter - simple things, for example – Don’t visit people at eating times unless you’ve been invited, and (my personal favourite) Never visit a woman who has just given birth looking your best.

It got me thinking – what “pearls of wisdom” would I pass on to my daughters? So I came up with the following list:

Be kind to small children and animals.

Keep your house at least reasonably clean – you never know when visitors might arrive

Be responsible, but don’t forget to have fun.

Find a good hairdresser who cuts your hair well – a good haircut can really boost the spirits.

Keep your hands and feet clean and pretty – you can tell a lot about a person from the condition of their hands and feet.

Accept that men think differently from woman and this sometimes makes them do seriously silly things. It’s how they are made and they can’t help it.

Don’t marry someone who is overly serious and fussy – you need a partner you can laugh and have fun with.

Don’t marry someone who is only interested in having fun and who has no time for housework and maintenance – you need a partner who is going to help around the house and who you can lean on in tough times.

Don’t make fun of old people – that’s going to be you one day; treat them the way you want to be treated when you are old and grey.

Keep your washing and ironing up to date – there is nothing worse than a pile of ironing glaring at you from the basket.

Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.

Don’t tell a new friend your deepest secrets.

Before you speak, think. Is what you want to say kind, necessary and true?

Accept that in marriage and motherhood there are going to be huge disappointments, get over it. Rather dwell on the moments of bliss.

White shoes generally make a woman look like Minnie Mouse.

Wearing winter shoes and a jersey with a summer dress is never a good look.

Get enough sleep.

It is usually worthwhile making an effort to get on with your in-laws.

If you really believe in something don’t let anyone try to persuade you otherwise.

Respect other people’s opinions and beliefs.

Don’t do something tonight that you will regret tomorrow.

There are some basic rules that are non-negotiable:
Never eat with your mouth open
No one night stands
Always wear a seatbelt
Don’t go to bed with your make-up on
Don’t do drugs – ever
Never, ever drink and drive

Sunday, October 01, 2006

15 Things To Do before I am 50

  • Go to Europe again
  • Learn to meditate
  • Finish paying for our house
  • Learn to speak better Zulu
  • Write a book
  • Stop eating meat
  • Have a long holiday in Cape Town
  • Acquire a little “lap dog” all of my own
  • Lose 6 kgs and keep it off
  • Finish decorating our house to my complete satisafaction
  • Save enough money to comfortable retire
  • Get physically fit and stay fit
  • I hope to have a couple of grandchildren while I am young enough to enjoy them
  • Finish my daughters’ baby albums!!
  • Worry less and smile more

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's raining again....

Yesterday we had torrential rain. It rained steadily most of the morning and then at around about lunch time it began to come down in buckets. Little daughter (LD) and I got drenched to the skin coming out of the shopping centre - funny how there is something both exhilirating and annoying about getting sopping wet in a downpour. By the time we had left the car park we found the streets turning into rivers and got home to find the swimming pool overflowing!

Later on in the evening we took a drive to a couple of the local beaches. Wow! The sea had turned into chocolate milkshake and was full of debris, the waves were huge, it was quite something to see.

I really feel for the people in the rural areas who live in appalling conditions at the best of times - life must become unbearable under these conditions.

This photo shows what Uvongo Beach (my favourite beach) looked like after the rain

Saturday, September 23, 2006

And so it begins....

My first post - I'd love to write something earth-shatteringly relevant, something smart, something that captures the attention of any person out there who happens to stumble across this page. and as I sit here I can think of .....nothing. Not a very auspicious start!

Why is it that new beginnings are so scary? The perfectionist in me comes to the fore and I want everything to be just right - setting myself up for failure from the very start.

However, I have done it! I have written my first post. Next time is bound to be easier and a whole lot more fun.