Monday, July 30, 2012

A photographer she is not!

I'm a cruel and horrible mom, but I just have to post this.  Hoping my Paula-girl will forgive me ;-)

If you want your photo taken, Paula is clearly not your go-to girl!

Photo taken by Grant of Paula and her boy-friend, Calvin:


Paula reciprocates by taking this photo of Grant and me:



Photo taken by Grant of Paula and Cal at the Roman forum:


In return Paula takes this stunning photo (not!) of Grant and me:


Finally, Grant took this photo of Paula and Cal:



And Paula took this one for us (gotta love the lady who appears to be scratching my bottom!):


So if you're wondering why there are very few photos of Grant and me on the blog I did of our holiday... you've got your answer!

Love you Paulz xx


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Little Meme

I found this meme on Angel's blog and being a sucker for memes........ here it is:
  • Right now, I am: parked off on my bed in my ancient old tracksuit with my dog and my lap-top, couldn't be happier!
  • I’m currently obsessed with: the thought of moving to Hillcrest at the end of next year.  Ch-ch-ch-changes….
  • Cannot live without: Lindt Mint

  • I’m reading: Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series
  • I’m listening to: the late afternoon traffic, a happy little bulbul and the sound of the sea
  • Favourite place in Joburg: Hmmmm – haven’t spent very much time in Jo’burg at all.  Can I change that to Durbs?  My current favourite place in Durban is La Lucia mall.
  • Favourite place in SA:  A toss up between:
the Drakensberg

and

Sun City

Favourite place in the world: How to pick one??  Up there in my top 5 would be:


Burley in the New Forest,

Paris,

London,

Mijas on the Costa del Sol

and Italy in general.
  • I’ve lived in: Springs (as a teeny-weeny little thing) Durban, Greytown, Himeville and the South Coast of KZN
  • Next up on my bucket list: Hopefully it will be to go to the Oktoberfest in Munich in 2017 – but that’s a long way away and who knows what could happen between now and then….
  • The last thing I crossed off my bucket list: was seeing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in real life.
  • I realized I was an adult when: I held Roxy in my arms for the first time
  • I realized I’d never be an adult when: I laughed until I cried at Damn You Auto-correct.
  • In the movie of my life, I want to be played by: Meryl Streep!
  • Best invention since the wheel: Cell phones!
  • A house is not a home without: a decent dining-room table that just begs you to gather around it with good food, good friends and good wine
  • This week I’m crushing on: Jesse Williams a.k.a Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy!  Man that dude can get my sole surviving ovary in a twist!!
  • I’m currently working on: a packing list for my forthcoming holiday
  • I’m really proud of: the fact that I walked 20 kms in the last week.
  • You’d be amazed if I showed you my: yoh!  Ummm...  I’ve gone blank with this one! Uuuh, my deviated septum?  Wanna see it?
  • I cannot survive winter without: Gluhwein!  And a snuggly blankie.
  • Signature dish: Probably my veggie soup.
  • Guilty pleasure: Reading when I should be doing any number of other useful things.
  • When no-one’s looking: I eat more than my daily allowance of Lindt Mint J
  • In my next life I want to be: Jesse Williams’ concubine.  Just Kidding!  Sort of.  No, seriously!
  • Every morning I get up and take Jackie for wees…. And I thank my Daddy Upstairs that I have the ability to get up and take Jackie for wees and make Paula’s school lunch and read the newspaper…. and all those other silly little things that collectively form my very comfortable and pleasing existence.  Frankly I don’t always remember to thank my Daddy Upstairs, but I darn well should!
  • I believe that life really begins at 44!  It’s only now, at the ripe old age of 44, that I feel like I am living an authentic life that completely reflects who I am.
  • I’ve really got to work on the size of my thighs!
  • Best advice I was ever given:  I feel so sorry for me. I grew up surrounded by women who were very quick and eager to dish out advice.  Trouble is it was terrible advice!  And there I was a vulnerable and innocent young girl who lapped up this advice as though it was the gospel truth.  Bullshit.  I was a strong-willed, prickly young girl who thought she knew better.  Thankfully.  Otherwise I would have grown up believing stuff like “With all that lies within you, keep the peace” – that nugget came from my beloved (mis-guided) Gran.  What a lot of poppy-cock!  Personally, I firmly believe that “with all that lies within you fight for what you believe in!”  And my mother’s favourite was “Husbands are replaceable”  Yes, well she certainly went out of her way to prove the veracity of that, but it’s not quite the adage I want to base my marriage on.  Snigger.  So as far as advice goes… I take it with a pinch of salt and form my own opinion thankyouverymuch!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Introvert

One of the things I love about having a blog is being able to read through old posts, it's quite fascinating to see how some things change over time and other things stay persistently the same.  I was reading through some old posts on my blog today, and I came across this post, one of the things that persistently stays the same! 

I'm still an introvert, I still hate (hate, hate!) meeting new people, I still hate (hate, hate!) 90% of the social functions I have to attend and nine times out of ten, given the option, I would rather stay at home with my dog than venture out of the house.  Sad, but true.
There was an article about being an introvert in a magazine I was reading a couple of weeks ago and, no surprises, I ticked all of the boxes. 

It's a funny thing, when I meet new people for the first time they often mistake me for an extrovert, because I talk so much!  It's a coping mechanism, one of many behaviours I have picked up over the years to cope with my dislike of social situations. 

I used to work in a bank.  Initially I worked in the data processing department, a job that was pretty much made for a person like me - stick me in a corner with a computer and I am as happy as a pig in poop.  Then I became a clerk in the Saving and Investment department and I loved it, more of a challenge than data processing, with only the odd client to deal with.  Same with the forex department, that was great.  And then I got a promotion and was sent to work as the clerk in charge of the Enquiries counter.  Oh my soul, I nearly died!  In hindsight I can honestly say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I cope with being an introvert SO much better now, having spent a year dealing with the public non-stop, on a daily basis.  I learnt all sorts of strategies and coping mechanisms to overcome my introverted nature and, strangely, I turned out to be really good at dealing with my clients, although I found it exhausting and emotionally draining.


Things I have learnt about being an introvert:

* If you are born an introvert you will always be an introvert, you may learn to cope with it better as time goes by, but you will remain an introvert.  It's kinda like being an alcoholic!  So you might as well learn to live with it in a positive way!

* Being an introvert is not an excuse to be rude.  You may hate having to make conversation, having to meet strangers etc etc, but you need to learn to do it anyway, to be polite. 

* Introverts find social interaction exhausting. The simple social interactions that most people take for granted require effort from introverts and that is so tiring; physically and emotionally.  As an introvert you need to recognise this and deal with it.  I can do a certain amount of socialising and then I have to have some solid, quiet, me-time.  If I try to do too much socialising in a given time I end up burning out and having a bit of a melt-down and then my family takes strain.  I factor this into my planning -  for example I never stay over with friends or family for more than one night at a time, I don't organise too many events in one week-end and I try to intersperse busy week-ends with quiet weekends etc.

* It helps to educate your family.  Grant and Rox find it hard to understand that I really don't want to go to this, that, or the other social event; and that meeting Joe Soap or Silly Susy for the first time is actually a major ordeal for me.  But over time they have learnt to understand it better, because I have explained to them exactly how I feel. 

*Compromise.  I have had to force myself to not give in to my introverted nature ALL the time.  There is a fine line between accepting the nature you were born with and allowing it to impact negatively on your family.  I try to compromise.  I force myself to do certain things that I really hate doing, because I know it's to the benefit of my family; but on the other hand I also expect them to be understanding when I really, really can't face yet another social shin-dig.

Finally, I have to say that there are positive spin-offs to being an introvert.  I think the number 1 positive to come out of being painfully introverted is that introverts are generally sensitive to other people's feelings.  Because you are so often uncomfortable, nervous, scared, awkward etc etc, you learn to recognise these feelings in other people (and animals!)  You learn to be especially caring of other people's feelings and quite frankly that makes you a nicer person than a very large percentage of the population!  So, yay for the introverts!

Random thoughts

  • Paula and I were home alone last night.... Paula and I do "restful evenings" very well.  In fact we have it down to a fine art.  I'm going to miss our "home alone" nights when she leaves the nest! 
  • Talking of which, we are planning a change of nest!  The plan is to move to Hillcrest at the end of next year.  I wish the time would come already, I hate having a big change hanging over me.  Especially when it involves the buying and selling of homes and the relocating of very many animals and the packing of a million or so boxes...
  • I feel so good on my new exercise routine.  Doing the right thing definitely makes me feel better, I wonder why I then have the natural tendency to want to do the wrong thing?!
  • I had to go to the dentist yesterday and got myself into quite a state about it.  Walking to my car on my way to the dreaded appointment (which by the way turned out to be an absolute breeze!) I realised that I had been pushing buttons on my cell phone by mistake, glanced down and the buttons I had pushed had spelt "pooooppp"  I thought that was quite apt!
  • The dentist told me I need to use Sensodyne toothpaste.  That's such an old lady kind of thing to have to do....
  • Seems like I'm fast becoming an old lady.  The guy at the check-out at Game last Wednesday asked me if I have a Senior Citizens card!!!  Can.You. Believe. It?!  My holy aunt, I must look positively ancient.
  • We're all going on a Summer holiday.  Yay!  That should hopefully make me look younger and feel more relaxed.
  • Winter has finally arrived on the East Coast of Africa and I for one couldn't be more delighted! 
  • Best I get some work done.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Train of thought

Having lived with myself for a number of years, 44 to be precise, I have come to the conclusion that I definitely have something going on in my brain, I just haven't come up with a name for it as yet.  It's definitely a disorder of some kind.... 

It's not that I can't concentrate, on the contrary, I sometimes seem to "super-concentrate" - get me focused on my book or my computer and everything else seems to fade completely into the back-ground; to the point where my family will talk to me, and either they get no response at all, or I respond in a vague manner and later on have no recollection whatsoever of them having spoken to me at all.  It drives them completely mad.  Paula has reached the point where she now goes: "Mom, mom, mom... MOM!  GILLIAN!!"  That normally registers on my otherwise-occupied cerebellum! 

But that's not the real problem, the real problem is two-fold: one - I cannot multi-tast at all (I'm a disgrace to the female gender!) and two - I cannot cope with stress, the minute I am stressed, be it at work or at home or wherever I go straight into "headless fowl mode".... I get all dithery and shaky, I pick things up, put things down, have no clue what to do next, run around aimlessly.... you get the picture.  This kind of scenario has often led me to wonder whether I am borderline ADD.   I recently saw this post on Angel's blog and I did the test.  I scored a 31, which confirms that I am indeed borderline ADD.  Interesting!

And THAT probably also explains my crazily random train of thought.   My train of thought can lead to totally bizarre places.  I'll be thinking about one thing and moments later I find myself thinking about something else altogether and wondering how on earth I arrived at that thought?!  If you're new to this blog you really need to read this post to fully appreciate the weirdness and bizarreness of it!

Which makes me wonder about Paula, because just the other day Paula had a conversation with me that went like this:
"I wish I could have taken History, they study the French Revolution, the World Wars and Apartheid and propaganda and stuff. I'm so glad Gerda has given up smoking."  Huh??

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not fair!

It will no doubt come as a huge shock to you to learn that I have begun an exercise program of late. It comes as a huge shock to me too - especially to those bits of me that are required to actually m-o-v-e during this ridiculous endeavour healthy new past-time.

Now the reason for all this trotting about on the treadmill is not a deep and sudden urge to become fit and live a more healthy lifestyle (bwahahahaha!)..... no, no, no it's purely a Means To An End and that End is that I step on the scale and see a figure there that doesn't result in forehead clutching and silent sobbing.

So, it's been 6 weeks now. You might think that those numbers on the scale would be looking a tad better than they did before all the stomping began. You'd be wrong. No sirrreeee. I have GAINED weight. Put on a whole flipping kg. Can-you-believe-it!

I will be brutally honest here and admit that the exercise regime isn't exactly strenuous, to be perfectly frank, I wouldn't look out of place at a Senior Citizens pilates class. Please, cut me some slack, you are dealing with a food and drink loving, sedentary creature who has never moved a muscle intentionally in 44 years of existence. But, hang it all, I am wilfully and wantfully exercising, people! I am showing committment to movement! That's significant enough to warrant a choir of angels breaking out into a rap version of the Hallelujah Chorus! The least the stupid scale could do is shift downwards by a hundred grams or so.

However, when I was weeping and wailing at the injustice of it all this afternoon Paula told me that "Tomorrow will bring positive change". You can always rely on Paula to dispense Fortune Cookie wisdom at just the right moment. So I am clinging to that thought - tomorrow will bring positive change - let's just hope that the positive change involves some downwards movement on the scale!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another favourite thing

On the subject of favourite things (see previous post), another of my favourite things is Geocaching and I felt that this one deserved a post all of its own.  We started Geocaching about 18 months ago and I have to say it is hands down our favourite family activity.  I really, really urge you to give it a try!

For the uninititated, geocaching is something like a grown-up form of treasure-hunting.  You use a GPS device to find the geocache (a container with a log-book in it, that you sign to claim the cache) and then you log your find on your geocaching profile (vaguely like a facebook page)  It's free, it's fun and it often takes you to places you would never have been to otherwise.  (We have been to some stunning places thanks to geocaching, have a look at my dedicated geocaching blog) There are geocaches hidden everywhere, in fact, I'd hazard a guess there is probably one hidden less than 5kms from where you are right now.  (Note: that not all geocaches are out in the sticks, there are geocaches all over the place, in shopping malls, underneath post boxes etc etc)

All you need to start geocaching is access to a computer and a GPS device (we use either a hand-held Garmin or, more frequently, Grant's iphone, which has a geocaching app loaded onto it)

To get started you would go to the geocaching website which you can find here.


The website has a wealth of information (try not to get too bogged down by all the info at first.  My advice is to rather go out and get your first cache asap!) and it's also the place where you would create your geocaching profile (click on "register" at the top on the right).  Your profile page will record the geocaches you have found etc.  This is a small section of our profile page:



Once you have set your profile up, you will want to go and hunt for your first cache.  At the beginning we found it easiest to hunt for caches near our home location.  So we clicked on the link that says "search for geocaches near your home location" - see above.  Otherwise you could click on "Play" and then "Hide and seek a cache" -  this lets you find caches based on address, postal codes, country, co-ords etc etc.

A list of caches will come up, beginning with those nearest to your home.  It'll look something like this:


Click on one that interests you and you will be taken to that cache's page.  The cache below is a cache that Grant and I hid:


So on the page above you have all the info you would need to go and find the cache.  The co-ordinates, the size of the cache (to give you some idea of what you are looking for), the difficulty and terrain and a little information about the cache.  You would put the co-ordinates into your GPS and off you go to find the cache.

Caches can vary widely in size and contents.  The smallest caches are called nanos, and they can be as small as a bullet casing and contain nothing but a tiny roll of paper for you to sign.  Large caches can be as big as a lunch box and contain a log book, pencil, odd little toys (the idea is to give kiddies something to take home with them :-) ) and travel bugs and geocoins

This is what our cache looked like when we placed it:


When looking for your first couple of caches it's probably a good idea to look for the easier, larger caches (often called traditional caches).  Read through some of the recent logs, making sure it was found recently and possibly even look at the photo gallery on that cache's page.  If you go to "Play" => "Hide and Seek" as mentioned above, scroll down to the bottom of the page and check the block next to "highlight beginner caches" you will find some nice easy, first-timer caches.

Once you have found your geocache (yay!) you will come back to your profile on geocaching.com and go to that caches page and then log your find by clicking on "log your visit"




And "voila"!  You have your first find and are probably already as addicted as I am :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

These are a few of my favourite things.....

Karma soap by Lush The best smell in the world!  I will go to great lengths to get my hands on my Karma soap.  It's not available in South Africa, so I have to beg everyone I know (and some people I don't!) to buy it for me when they go overseas.  It's also very expensive when you convert to Rands, so I don't even think about that!  It's not a luxury I need my Karma.....

Love, love, love it.


Satsuma shower gel by The Body Shop.  Okay, so it's not Karma, but it does have a lovely fresh, Summery fragrance and a better texture than any other shower gel I've ever used.  I use the whole Satsuma range, the lotion and the body butter are really nice too.

Lindt Intense Mint.  I cannot survive a day without my Lindt Mint.  It's my medicine.  I must have it in order to function normally. 


 Project Life - I bought the Project Life kit at the beginning of the year and am so enjoying this "scrapbooking-lite" way of storing our photos and recording our memories.




 Graham Beck Railroad Red - man, I'm loving this wine at the moment.  Can't think of a better way to end the day :-)


Neutrogena Hand Cream - the ONLY hand cream that can cope with my OCD hand-washing tendencies.... gotta love it!





Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some questions

I found this over at Conversations over soup and thought I'd answer the questions just for fun. 

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Time spent having fun with my family.  Nothing makes me happier.

2. What is your greatest fear? Dying a slow painful death.

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?  There isn't really one that I identify with.  I find Anne Boleyn fascinating, but thankfully (See No.2!) I don't identify with her!!

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Cowardice.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.

6. What is your greatest extravagance? Cosmetics, I like the expensive ones....

7. What is your favorite journey? Travelling to Europe. I have a major on-going love-affair with Europe.

8. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Where do I begin?  My weight, my height, my fluffy, frizzy hair, my skew teeth.....blah, blah, blah....

9.What words or phrases do you most overuse? The word "clearly" and of course "I can't" - see No. 4 above.

10. What is your greatest regret? Having a fight with my brother the day before he died.

11. Who or what is the greatest love(s) of your life? My husband, my daughters and my pets.

12When or where were you happiest? How to pick one time??  Probably our family holidays at Sun City or our vacations in Europe.

13. What talent would you most like to have? The ability to play the piano.

14. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising two lovely daughters.

15. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? Always a mother.
 
16. What is your most treasured possession? The ring I inherited from my aunt Pam.

17. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Genuine suffering of any kind.

18. Where would you like to live? In Europe.  I dream of owning a villa in Italy (a la Bramasole)

19. What is your favorite occupation? Reading or messing about on my lap-top

20. What is your most marked characteristic? Laziness

21. What is the quality you most like in a man? Kindness.

22. What do you most value in your friends? Their unconditional love.

23. Who are your favorite writers? I read purely for fun, so my favourite writers are not necessarily the writers I consider the best writers, but rather the ones whose books I most enjoy reading:  Katie FForde (she's my very favourite) Janette Oke, Lori Wick, Sherryl Woods, JoAnn Ross, L M Montgomery, Rebecca Shaw....there are lots!

24. Who is your favorite hero in fiction? Don’t have one, but my favourite fictional character would probably be Anne in Anne of Green Gables.

25. Who are your heroes in real life? All the people who do the really difficult jobs that I couldn't imagine having the courage to do.... paramedics, people who work in hospices those sort of people.

26. What are your favorite names? Dylan for a boy and Julia for a girl

27. What is it that you most dislike? Cruelty to animals, homophobia and racism.

28. How would you like to die? In my sleep.

29. What is your motto? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Sun City - then and now

We had our last holiday at our timeshare in Sun City last week.  Hard to believe that in all likelihood we will not be visiting Sun City as a family again.  I had one MAJOR lump in my throat as we drove out the gates.

We have always been big fans of Sun City.  I first visited the place with my mom and dad as a 13 or 14 year old, when there was nothing there except the hotel, the Cabanas and the entertainment centre -  the Cascades, the Palace and the Valley of the Waves were but a twinkle in Sol's eye.  Quite what the attraction was at that stage I'm not sure!! 

When the timeshare was first developed we were among the first to buy and got the timeshare at a ridiculously cheap price, which has enabled us to spend holidays at Sun City almost every year since then.  Unfortunately the timeshare had a limited life-span and this year was the final year.  There is a new timeshare development now, but it's way out of our price range.

I know Sun City is not to everyone's taste, but we have loved our holidays there.  The Valley of the Waves is our "happy place" and the hours we have spent there will forever be among my favourite memories. 

So indulge me while I take a little stroll down memory lane:

Jan 1993 (pre-Paula!!)

Jan 1996 (post-Paula, smile)

Jan 1996

Jan 1999

Pops, Paula and Nana Jan 1999

Jan 2000

Paula, Gerda and Kate Jan 2002

Jan 2002


Jan 2003

Jan 2003

Jan 2004

Mar 2007

Mar 2007

Mar 2007

April 2009

Apr 2009

Apr 2009

Mar 2011

Mar 2011
Gerds, Kate (look how she's grown!), Pete and Luke

Paula and Cal, Mar 2012

Mar 2012

 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nature or Nurture?

I've often pondered the Nature vs Nurture debate - are we a product of our genes or our up-bringing?  Having raised two daughters my conclusion is that it's a bit of both, but overall I'd say that the bulk of who we become comes down to our genes. 

I mean seriously, if it were only a matter of up-bringing, how did a woman like me raise a girl like Rox?  Huh?  I wouldn't begin to know how to raise someone so laid-back, confident and bubbly!  And clearly she got most of Grant's easy-going genes, with a sprinkling of my feisty grand-mother and my loopy mother thrown into the mix too, but it's blindingly obvious that not a lot of my genetic material turned up in Rox at all!

Now Paula on the other hand..... I see a lot of myself in Paula and Grant would be the first to agree.  A couple of nights ago Paula and I had a really serious fight.  It was ugly.  Very ugly.  Shortly afterwards Grant was sitting, staring into the middle-distance, looking for all the world like a returned soldier, who had witnessed too much horror in some war-torn land.  I asked him what was wrong and with his gaze still fixed, as though on something horrendous, he said, "You two are so alike it's frightening" (I got the feeling that this was not meant as a compliment, giggle)

Apart from the arbitary stuff, like the fact that we have the exact same sense of humour, we love to read and like the same books, we are both bunny-huggers of note and hate racism and homophobia;  Paula has inherited much of my personality including the more prickly and let's be honest difficult, sides to it.  She has my stubborn streak (stubborn doesn't even come close to describing it though, what we have is an incredibly concentrated form of stubborness), she shares my determination, except she has bucket-loads more of it, she is even more argumentative than I am and she can be just as scathing (Paula and I know how to do scathing really well!) and we are both very decisive and single-minded.  Most of these character traits are not as negative as they may seem, provided they are channeled in the right direction (personally I think this girl would make a cracker of a lawyer!) 

Unfortunately Paula has also inherited the rogue negative streak that I have going and that's the thing that has us clashing a bit lately.  Negativity on it's own is controllable - negativity combined with fierce determination and donkey-like stubborness, now that's a whole different beast altogether!  I am determined to equip Paula with the means to kick negativity in the BUTT, because if I had to single out a single thing that has held me back from reaching my full potential it's that self-same negativity that I see reflected in Paulz.  So I have declared war on Paula's negativity, which is causing something of a war between Paula and me at the moment and poor Grant is the innocent victim caught in the cross-fire, so when you see him stumbling around looking rather shell-shocked, take pity on the poor dude okay!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My bucket list

A while back, a couple of years ago in fact, I made a list of 1001 things to do in 101 days, on this site.  I was so excited about the project that I created a blog for it.  Unfortunately, once my initial exuberance had worn off, I grew tired of it and slowly stopped working on my list.  Then one day in a fit of "the clean-ups", I deleted the blog.  Man I could kick myself!  I'd love to go back and see how many of the things I've managed to accomplish.   Of course what is even more frustrating is the fact that my list is still up on the site somewhere, but do you think I can remember my log-in details..... of course not!  I've tried every user name and password combination I can think of, but no luck!  How irritating!

One of the things on the list that I have managed to do was to see Van Gogh's Sunflowers in the National Gallery in London.  I've always had a bit of a thing for Van Gogh, I'm a sucker for a tortured personality and that he certainly was.    His Sunflowers are beautiful and I'm really glad I made the effort to go and see them.  It was definitely a "Bucket List" item that I can now scratch off.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that most of my Bucket List is travel related.  I have the travel bug SO badly!  Here's a peek at what is still on my list:

*Hire a villa in Tuscany and spend at least a year there, immersing myself in the beauty, culture, language and food of the area.  Remember this post?  Well I still carry the dream in my heart!  I've read all of Frances Mayes books and would love to have a second home in Tuscany like she has.

*Visit Croatia.  I defy you to read the brilliant blogger Corey's blog posts which you can find here and here and not come away with a burning desire to visit Croatia!

*See the Northern lights

*Spend a holiday exploring the lavender fields of Provence:





*Write a book.  I know that's very cliched, but really, since I was a very little girl, I have wanted to write a book.

The lovely Jeanne of Cooksister fame is responsible for a further two travel-related items on my bucket list:

*Hire a villa in Corfu for a couple of weeks.  How could you not fall in love with Corfu when you have read this blog post?

*Go to the Oktoberfest in Munich.  Jeanne has written a couple of blog posts on the Oktoberfest, here's one of them: Oktoberfest, essential info.  The plan is that Ralph and Michelle will join Grant and I at the Oktoberfest in 2017 to celebrate Ralph, Grant and my 50th birthdays :-)

So what's on your bucket list?


Briefly...

  • I've had this silly sniffely bug hanging around for 2 full weeks and it has finally broken... I am coughing my lungs out and feel pretty rotten, but at least now I should start getting better
  • I am LOVING the cooler weather we're having, can't wait for Autumn to really set in.
  • I have so enjoyed cooking this week.  I HATE cooking in the heat and will avoid it at all costs.  This week we've eaten some good food, thanks to the cooler temps.
  • We have a full weekend planned:  Dinner out with the Boltons tonight, watching the Sharks game on TV with the Clarks tomorrow and my aunt for dinner on Sunday.  Looking forward to it! Provided I don't start feeling any more rotten....  please no!
  • I've been teaching Paula to drive this week and have to confess that teaching a perfectionist to drive is no easy feat!  She is doing really well, but is so incredibly hard on herself.  NOW I see what her teachers mean when they say she needs to lighten up.
  • Had a day for missing my little brother yesterday.  Funny how it will strike out of the blue for no apparent reason, I think I may have dreamt about him, the night before last, because I woke with him on my mind and there he remained all day.  I wonder where he would be now, if he was still alive?
  • We went and saw "Midnight in Paris" on Sunday.  I LOVED it.  I read Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" last year and it made the film so much more meaningful.  To see all my favourite places in Paris on the big screen was just lovely.  I really LOVE Paris.  Would love to live there for a while. Dreams....
  • I have this horrible job I have to do at work and I have been putting it off and putting it off and now I can put it off no longer, Monday I will tackle it and hopefully finish it on Tuesday.  Fortunately I don't have many jobs that create this degree of angst in me!
  • Some swine stole all Impi's money out of his savings account this week.  I am furious the poor kid works such long hours for a pathetic wage and then some idiot has the gall to take what little money he has...  Really, it's just not on!
  • In 2 week's time we are going to Sun City (for our last timeshare holiday there - sob, sob).  I can't wait!

Don't think it's over

I've been thinking about marriage - not about whether TO get married, seeing as I'm already living in matrimonial bliss... duh, but rather about how to BE married.  If you ask me, GETTING married is the easy part, BEING married, now that's a whole different kettle of fish and STAYING married, well that's where it gets complicated.

If you'd asked me ten years ago about my views on divorce I would probably have given you a very different answer to the one I'd give you now.  Having grown-up in and around a whole bunch of divorces I can tell you that, much as we would like to believe otherwise, kids DO suffer no matter how congenial the divorce (is there such a thing really?)  It sucks living in a home where a divorce is going on and it sucks even more living in the aftermath.  Truth.  BUT I think what sucks even more than that is living in a home where there is marital discord in the air, no matter how silently it's happening.  You might think you are pulling the wool over young Johnny's, or Gilly's eyes, but trust me, you're not.  So yes, if the marriage cannot be saved, I'd say, for the sake of your children, end it.  This bullsh*t about staying married for the sake of the children is just that: bullsh*t. 

Those have been my views since I was a kid, nothing new there.  What I have come to realise in more recent years though, and it's been a revelation to me, is that if both parties are willing to put some serious work into it, most marriages that end in divorce could be saved - unless there is abuse happening (sexual, emotional, physical, makes no difference, if abuse is happening I believe you should always get out of there and make it quick!)  My view is that way too many people get divorced way too quickly.  I speak from personal experience here, Grant and I have been on the very brink of getting divorced twice and look at us now, we're happy!  Genuinely happy.

Our poor marriage has had more poop flung at it than most I have to tell you.  Apart from the general friction you will encounter when you have two completely opposite people insisting on co-habitating, we have dealt with bereavement, financial crises, family drama on a scale normally reserved for soap operas, infertility, infidelity (bet you didn't see that one coming, frankly neither did we!) retrenchment, living on different continents (for more than two years!), moving house countless times, the dreaded "I love you, but I'm not in-love with you" conversation......and it goes on and on.....

So how have we seen our way through it all?  Sheer bullish determination.  I think the key factor is that when we have really been in a crisis, before taking that final step and ending it all, we have taken time to think about it and have, thankfully, decided that our marriage, our family, is something worth fighting for.  I am not going to pretend it's been easy.  Truthfully, this marriage has asked more from us than I ever would have thought we'd be willing to give. 

I think the worst day in our marriage, well for me anyway, was weirdly a particular Valentine's Day, Grant and I both had to make sacrifices that day that cost us deeply on a personal level, I mean really deeply.  Horrible!  I was literally brought, sobbing, to my knees.  It took us more than a year to claw our way back to anything remotely resembling what a marriage should be, but we did it and looking back I am so grateful we did.  How did we do it?  Speaking for myself, the only way I could do it was by pretending.  I based this approach on the theory that "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, eventually it will BE a duck".  So I pretended I was happily married, acted like I was happily married, treated my husband as if I was happily married (well most times!) and, so help me, next thing I knew I WAS happily married.  Not an approach I would necessarily recommend, but it worked for me!

So having been through all of this, do I think our marriage will last "till death us do part"?  I so wish I could say "Yes, absolutely", but, honestly, I don't know.  I am enough of a realist to accept that the next blow might be the fatal one.   BUT, trust me on this, I will never watch my marriage fall apart without putting up one HELL of a fight!

I am busy ruminating on an updated bucket list - it's a lot more difficult than one would think!  The last time I created a bucket...