"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Thursday, 30 June 2011

the "who wants to be a millionaire?" saga

there are two things that michael and i do that i can see irritates my children (probably a whole lot more but these are the most apparent).  the first one is cape talk on a sunday (this also gives daughter caroline the "no feeling").  they don't care for it on any day but a whole afternoon of it on sundays is just too much.  sunday is golden oldie day (some good, some very bad) but to me it is fine to have playing in the background, in the kitchen while you garden or cook.  as much as i like putting on my own music (usually when michael is not around or in the car) sunday's golden oldies are quite comforting to me.   if i look back on my teens, i can also remember my mother having patricia carr on the radio on a sunday. she had the most depressing voice ever and it was at a time that dalene and i would rather be listening to john berks on radio 5 but my mother insisted on "the english service" (whatever it was called, i forget) or springbok radio.

second on the irritation list is "who wants to be a millionaire?" on dstv (channel 120) nearly every night at 7.30.  we both enjoy the show and chris tarrant is a great quiz master.  but what makes it more enjoyable for me is just to watch how engrossed michael gets in the show (nevermind the fact that when you spy the cheque he waves in front of the contestant it is dated 2005 - sometimes even 2002).  it is also not so much about the questions asked but about the choices the contestants make.  michael sometimes gets himself into quite a state and often when i look over at him he is pretty teary about the sum of money the contestant has won (or lost).   but then again michael gets teary in front of the television quite often.  during big golf competitions he is often wiping his eyes (rory mcilroy made him extremely emotional for days afterwards). he has watched "sleepless in seattle" more than 15 times and each time he cries.  "nottinghill" is another one that he starts crying every time he hears "after all... i'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her" and by the time we get to the pink shirt part:-

P.R. Chief: Next question? Yes. You in the pink shirt.
William: Uh, right. Miss Scott, are there any circumstances that you and he might be more than just friends.
Anna Scott: I hoped that there would be but I've been assured that there's not.
William: Yes, but what if...
P.R. Chief: I'm sorry. Just the one question.
Anna Scott: No. It's alright. You were saying?
William: I was just wondering what if this person...
Journalist: Thacker. His name is Thacker.
William: Right. Thanks. What if, uh, Mr. Thacker realized that he had been a daft prick and got down on his knees and begged you to reconsider if you would... indeed... reconsider.
Anna Scott: [pause] Yes. I believe I would.
William: That's wonderful news. The readers of Horse and Hound will be relieved. 

we are both toast.  nothing better than having a little cry together even if while watching "who wants to be a millionaire?"
back to "who wants to be.........?".  in all the time that we have been watching we have only seen 2 contestants win the million (apparently only 5 have ever won it in the uk and one won fraudulently).  i have tried to explain to the boys that we are not watching re-runs and that we have never seen these "old" shows before.  however, on sundays it does happen to be a re-run of the previous week's episodes and michael sometimes tunes in for his mum to watch (one show because of the sub-titles she can participate in - she is pretty damn good on anything about shakespeare, english history and to do with the bible (my phone a friend for sure)).  she is then amazed at michael's intellect and how he "has such a great general knowledge".  not as clever however as the "clever dick" below - have you seen this usa winner? (worth a watch if you have not seen it).  it takes arrogance to a whole new level:-

matthew is home at the moment for a couple of days and was checking out what we have stored on our pvr (we are still trying to master the pvr remote).  for some reason i have been recording all the "who wants to be a millionaire?" episodes for the last 4 months (ever since we got the pvr) and the hard drive is full.   "so", says he, "you watch it most evenings, at the same time recording it, to re-watch  the re-runs of 2002 sometime in the future? -  makes sense."   cheeky child!! 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

another royal wedding or are the bride's feet cold?

i don't know whether the palace in monaco can sue me for libel - that would be exciting (i have my attorney in the wings).  i have always believed in the statement "no smoke without fire" so what do you think of this report in the huffington post? (and in the cape times this morning). is charlene getting cold feet?  i certainly would not blame her.  in my family i have a reputation for labelling people - prince albert i have always wished would just come out of the closet and confess, forget the bloomin' crown and heir and just lead an honest life.  however, i had to eat my words on this count when it was exposed that he had a "love-child".  i still reserve my right.

the "grimbaldies" have always  fascinated me.  caroline was a year or two older than me and i always envied her celebrity life, the amazing clothes she has always worn, her spare time spent sunbathing on yachts, handsome boyfriends (remember that old dude, phillippe who she married?).  she was and still is lovely.  a really tragic life too with the death of her mother in a suspicious car crash and then her husband in that motorboat accident.

and she now has a new husband (and still hangs out on fancy yachts)

Princess Caroline Princess Caroline of Monaco on holiday with her husband Prince Ernst August of Hanover, their daughter, Alexandra (b. 2000) and Caroline's son Andrea Casiraghi (b. 1984).  As the eldest male child, Caroline's brother Albert is heir to Prince Rainier. However, Monaco's constitution was changed in 2002 so that if Albert dies without children, the throne will pass to Caroline and then on to her children with Stefano Casiraghi.

prince ernst-august with a hangover (sorry of hanover)

her daughter, charlotte is the image of her (i think nic should make friends with her on facebook):-

once again i digress, will the wedding happen?  i am sure it will but will she be happy?  charlene is lovely, sylph and statuesque (nice words hey?) but to me she has a bit of a miserable face and her lips tell a lot about her. tight and puckered (and thin).

below is a quote from jenny crwys-williams who interviewed her on radio 702 in febraury:-

"I thought she was one of the most anxious people I have ever met, she was absolutely terrified of saying the wrong thing and falling foul of the terrible women in the palace. There was a fascinating moment when I asked her to tell me about an amazing blue room in the palace, and she said, 'I don't know if I can talk about it.' I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her it would be all right."

there is a resemblance (very, very slight) between the two but grace wins hands down:-

she was absolutely, stunningly beautiful

 oh my word the youngest princess, stephanie, the years have not been kind to her
(has she been kind to the years?!!)

please don't get me wrong, i will be watching the wedding closely on saturday (just like you).  i can't wait to see what giorgio armani is going to pull out of the bag, what the pink palace is going to look like. just to see caroline and her children will be a bonus for me (do you think charlotte could be a bridesmaid? (probably not - too pretty)).  however i can't help but feel sad at the same time.  i grew up thinking that to be a princess must be the luckiest thing that could ever happen to a young girl.  i have now changed my mind.

(and i hope that the wedding is over before the whistle blows to herald the start of the stormers playing the crusaders at newlands).

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

jenny and her magazine addiction

putting that picture of jackie magazine up yesterday has created quite a buzz.  nicky schumann wrote to remind me of how we had to order it from our local newsagent and how we always received it a couple of weeks late.  worst of all you often missed out the special gifts that were supposed to come with the magazine.  we loved it mostly for the news on the pop stars and the posters that you could stick on your stippled walls and wardrobes (not to mock wardrobes,  i even had a dolly varden)*.  some reminders of the content from the covers i have tracked on the internet (this is not made up - good internet research on my part):-

a Jackie Special on Problem Boys

discover the secrets of his handwriting

agony aunts Cathy and Claire help you sort it out

how about this one?:-

a Jackie guide to reading his thoughts by the way he sits down

21 ways to make him notice you

a Jackie guide to unwanted boys and how to get rid of them

do you know that you can buy back copies of jackie magazine on e-bay for £37.99?

so once i outgrew the jackie i remember progressing to my mom's fairlady's for a while (but it was a tad old fashioned for me at that time).  after school i remember that darling magazine was the first magazine that i  spent my own money on. i loved the "blossom" column.  jenny hobbs (i have recently read her book "kitchen boy")** wrote about blossom broadbeam a true johannesburg "chick" who lived in bez valley and had a boyfriend called "bok-bok".  darling was a single-girl-kind-of-magazine and became my new favourite during my late teens and early 20's.

in 1981 it was wedding fever time, i went on a spree buying expensive wedding magazines. i bought all the royal wedding magazines (diana was married 6 months before me).  at the end of 1982 i became a mother (once again 6 months after diana) and marina petropolous and living and loving became my bible.
my living and loving period did not last for too long.  after 2nd son nic i realised that no two babies are the same and that i knew my babies better than they did.  if i think of all the agony i went through, the books i read, all the advice i took and remedies i followed to try to get gareth to sleep through the night.  i even ate two whole raw lettuces at one sitting because someone told me that baby rabbits sleep so well because their mothers eat lettuce all day (can you believe that i did that?).  now new parents can just buy this book:-

 The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f--k to sleep

i am not exactly sure when the first cosmopolitan was published in south africa (being the good internet researcher i am, i should check... sorry).  for a couple of years i never missed an issue.  it seemed like such good value for money.  a lovely thick glossy magazine filled with wonderful secrets and information.  the articles ranged from 77 positions for 77 days,  precise directions to your g-spot, 3 052 dudes tell what they are dying for you to do in bed, why men cheat in august, (serious, check the link if you do not believe), 8 new love truths - what a lot of rubbish.  how much money did i spend before i realised that what i was getting sucked into? one edition in particular i remember looking at and not being able to identify the cover girl (although she looked very familiar).  on further inspection i found out that it was meg ryan airbrushed so hectically she looked like a putty faced dummy after being perfectly made up by professionals. by the time i turned 30 i had outgrown cosmo as well (deary me, was there any hope for me? would i ever be able to perfect those 77 positions or put my finger on the g-spot blindfolded with my body painted in chocolate?!!)

my 30's was the femina and fairlady era and because i could never decide which one i preferred, i bought both.  femina and fairlady remained favourites right through the 40's, woman and home was ok, showed similar aged woman but lacked meat and substance, garden and home was great for awhile, house and leisure...mmmm...not so sure (but bought plenty of them too), getaway (now that is a nice one to buy once in awhile) along with a country life here and there.  then one day while having a clear out of magazines i suddenly came to the realisation that i was throwing money away month after month.  it was only when i went through the magazines to look for recipes or gardening stuff that i wanted to keep, i realised just how little of the magazine i read.  in fact i could pick up a magazine and not remember reading a single article.  time to stop.  this was also about the time that we had girls time away on a friend's houseboat.  faye had brought along her selection of hello and vanity fair magazines.  it took me 2 days at sea to read 1 vanity fair and i was so impressed with the content that on getting home i started subscribing.  it is now the only magazine that i subscribe to:-

however, i still cannot resist an occasional fairlady or garden and home. i like to buy a sports illustrated here and there (because gareth has stuff in it).  i have never bought a you magazine (i do check the back celebrity pages in the pick n pay queue and sorry, i lie, i did buy it once - the issue with brad and angelina's newborn twins (only because it was glad-wrapped)).  oh and i love to read the hello magazine while in the queue at woolies (in fact, if i have time, i let people move in front of me so that i can get through the whole magazine).  then the country life when it has a feature on an interesting local town to visit and sometimes a taste magazine for the recipes.

all things considered, the addiction is under control.

ooops, once again all over the place - magazine addiction led to dolly vardens, jj kitching and a tip on how not to get your baby to sleep through the night!!!

*dolly varden (for those of you who were not lucky enough to have one)

**It’s a novel about a young war hero and rugby Springbok who makes a mistake that dogs him all his life, and about the long-term effects of war on his family, war comrades, friends and associates, mostly set in Natal (as it then was) and POW camps.

What the back cover says: “Luck matters. Life is chancy. An oval ball can bounce any way. Springbok legend, celebrated war hero, thriving businessman – that was JJ Kitching, known to all as Kitchen Boy. His was a life as large as a sports stadium, as thrilling as baling out of a burning war plane. Now he lies dead in his coffin in a Durban cathedral and his life is relived as funeral goers remember a glowing Natal childhood, the thunder of the rugby field, the joys and sorrows of family. But at the core of the man remained, to the end, the memory of WWII and how it could reduce even the bravest of men.”

from Jenny Hobbs's website

Monday, 27 June 2011

we did the smells now for the songs

my music memory goes back almost further than my proper memory.  like the smells that evoke memories there are so many songs as well.  i thought i would do a family portfolio of what song reminds me of which family member.  to start at the beginning would be a good place, so here goes:-

1.   my dad - the late, cyril arthur pay:-

does anyone remember chris montez?  my dad had just got his brand new STEREO pioneer hi-fi system - top of the range.  he had a wonderful selection of records and this song and the record cover brings back memories of sitting with dalene on his "shaggy carpet" in his beachfront flat in port elizabeth.  he had heaps of frank sinatra and dean martin stuff but chris montez was about the most modern of the lot so we listened to it over and over again.  so much so that i can still remember the order of songs on side 1 (promise):-

2.   then my mom, joan gwendoline traill (born carlson, nee pay, nee barber) - almost like elizabeth taylor but alive and well and prettier (and about 5 husbands short of her record):-

at my mom's 70th (a year or two ago) we changed the words to a song that my mom used to sing to us. we got the whole family involved so i could mouth the words (with expression) so as not put the whole cast off-key.   my mother loves the movies and is great at quizzes (and 30 seconds) especially on the old movies and old movie stars.  doris day was a favourite the words and music in this song always make me smile and think of my mom:-

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

When I was young, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

ok mom, who is the dude getting undressed in the first snippet?
3.   my step-dad, the late, great david george thomas barber (also known as dick and dickels):-

oh deary me, this is a funny one.  my step-dad had the strangest taste in music (brother david has inherited some of it). jim reeves was top of his list. when he and my mom married and we all finally moved into the house in rondebosch that he had beautifully renovated along with him came his collection of records.   in this pile of records came a whole new world of songs and artists (mostly country and western) who we had never heard of slim whitman, david allan, hank williams, waylon jennings and glen campbell.  there was also an artist that just whistled - an entire lp of whistling - weird.  so choosing a song for dickels was easy:-

indian love call - slim whitman

he also had a habit of putting a song to any words that you had just said (funny michael also does it) 

jenny:  those roses are beautiful
dickels (in song):  moonlight and roses, bring wonderful mem'ries of you, my heart reposes, in beautiful thoughts so true. (jim reeves - moonlight and roses)

4.   50-year-old sister, dalene:-

after apologizing publicly at her 50th birthday for all the nasty things i did to my little sister (that will be a posting for the future), while writing this post and thinking of what song reminds me most of dalene, it has to be this one:-

we were living in johannesburg in 1969 when the original oliver with mark lester was released (and when neil armstrong walked on the moon).   it was such a sad movie that every time i heard the song "where is love" i used to burst into tears.  dalene caught onto this and in her beautiful little voice she used to sing it to me whenever she thought it was time for me to be brought down to size and to shed a few tears.  i don't lie but this carried on for about 3 years. 

(bet she is pleased that i did not mention abba, donny osmond, david cassidy or david essex)

david cassidy
5.  brother, david john barber:-

david gets a hard time from his nephews (my 3 boys) whenever they happen to see or hear the songs that he has on his ipod.  david once made a comment that he only likes songs with a chorus and this is still true today.  when he was at school he was in the chamber choir (he has a wonderful singing voice).  he and a friend worked at the longhorn steakhouse in newlands (remember it?  next to the transito hotel?).  they were at uct and he and ross used to do the singing thing for special occasions (a bit fancier than the spur's happy birthday rendition).  they sang beautifully and at his 21st they sang this song together (acapella). it is also one of my favourite billy joel songs:-

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest

If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Once I thought my innocence was gone
Now I know that happiness goes on
That's where you found me
When you put your arms around me
I haven't been there for the longest time

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest

I'm that voice you're hearing in the hall
And the greatest miracle of all
Is how I need you
And how you needed me too
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Maybe this won't last very long
But you feel so right
And I could be wrong
Maybe I've been hoping too hard
But I've gone this far
And it's more than I hoped for

Who knows how much further we'll go on
Maybe I'll be sorry when you're gone
I'll take my chances
I forgot how nice romance is
I haven't been there for the longest time

I had second thoughts at the start
I said to myself
Hold on to your heart
Now I know the woman that you are
You're wonderful so far
And it's more than I hoped for

I don't care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
I want you so bad
I think you ought to know that
I intend to hold you for the longest time

Woa, oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh,oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh
For the longest time
Woa, oh, oh,
For the longest time
(Fade Out)

(note the nice long chorus...)

i will give you more on this topic next monday.  music monday's sounds pretty cheesy but it will help give "all over the place" me a bit of direction.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

there's something about norma

yesterday was going to be a lazy saturday.  no plans for the weekend and fiddled around in my gown for most of the morning.  at around 11 middle son nic arrived with nieces amy and kelly (sister was catching up on some much needed 50-year-old beauty sleep).  we had just decided to take a walk to cafeen in harfield

(sorry cafeen hopefully later this morning)
for some coffee and milkshake for kelly (she is a milk-shake machine – only drinks water and milky stuff – never even tasted coke or juice).  well, we get an sos call from dalene – "lets go winetasting at buitenverwachting" (let the party continue).  this call is closely followed by a call from my mum to come to afternoon tea and cake with her, aunty norma is visiting.

by the time sister arrives to collect us nic and i have had 4 cups of tea each and by the time we get to buitenverwachting the tasting room was closed. the trip to buitenverwachting was not wasted because we caught the end part of horses mating (oh my word) – it explained the expression “hung like a horse” (and rogered rigid – the poor mare was paralysed for about 10 minutes) to dalene and i.  nic was fascinated and had to twitter pictures and amy and kelly were speechless.  in a pretty shocked state we headed off to tea with mother and norms but to get there we have to pass steenberg.  dalene had recently been to a 50th birthday party at catharina’s and said we had to go and have a look and “perhaps their wine tasting would be open?”  (let the party continue....)
entrance - stunning proteas in long vases

what a lovely place.  happened to bump into pecan bob (nic’s great friend who was at a boozy birthday lunch – heard afterwards that the bill was split and the damage was R490 each (hectic).  worse was that he had a hangover from a heavy friday and had not really participated in the fruit of the vine (silly)).   so we did the winetasting (free) and ordered 2 of the cheaper wines to take along to “tea”.  it was a quick winetasting and we did get a history lesson as well about catharina  -take a look at the link -(dalene prompted the wine guy to tell us the story as she had heard it before).  interesting catharina was the first woman to own property in the cape. 

the catharina red - a bit out of my price range

poor kelly had lost out on her milkshake but was happy to get to nanna for milk and cake.

well it was 5 by the time we arrived and norms and mum were in hysterics because they were tired of waiting for us and “norms was having nothing more out of the kettle”.  these two ladies have been friends since their school days.  we used to live around the corner from the colli family and aunty norma was a stay-at-home-mom with uncle louis working for the local bakery (the biscuit tin was always full).  they also had a one of the first portapool's (remember them?) and between the biscuits and cakes there was also a connection (can’t remember it now) the “star sweet factory” (remember those pink sweets that when you ate too many your wee turned pink?)

(can you spot dalene?)

their house was full of those too.  so it was a homely home (with lots of treats and a pool) but where you could always have a few laughs and a good time.  mark the oldest son was an entertainer of note, dalene was the comedian, magician’s assistant and/or dancer and poor sean and i were given the job of selling tickets to friends and neighbours in the road.  there was always some show or other in the pipeline.  mark is one of the few people i know who has known since he was 10 years old what he loved and was going to do.  he has lived his dream and works in europe entertaining at circuses as a mime artist and clown.

so enough background – back to the “tea”.  as i walk in i get a friendly roasting from aunty norma about yesterday’s posting – it “exhausted her”, was “heavy reading” and i must please “stick to what i do best” (luckily i think she gave up the reading before she got to the punch line, or i may have been in more trouble).  she has a way of telling you off and laughing at the same time.  so norms (what i sometimes call her but cannot get out of the “aunty norma” habit) hope this one is better.  you are a legend, always happy and laughing (are you ever unhappy or cross?).  as nic said to us in the car on the way home “hey, i did not know that aunty norma was such a hoot!!”.
Norma Colli
this is "norms"
not an after-though just forgot that i could steal pictures from facebook friends!!

Friday, 24 June 2011

can i be chiastic?

i have become a whole lot better about looking up words that i know i have heard before but cannot remember the meaning.  this week i was looking through some course notes for a creative writing course and one of the topics was "the use of chiasmus through the ages in the english language".  a good place to start would be to dust off the dictionary (ok - you caught me out - over to the computer, google, cut and paste).  a shame really the dictionary is becoming defunct.

chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words ("Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" —Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas … . The figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is also found in prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. Adjective: chiastic.

it is so easy to access information today that i feel guilty when i don't check up on meanings and facts (unfortunately i do not remember them for too long). chiasmus sounds a whole lot more posh than it really is and i ended up staying up very late last night reading online excerpts of a book by mardy grothe called "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You".   he traces the use of chiasmus from biblical days through to the present:-

genesis 9:6.

He who sheds the blood of man, by man, shall his blood be shed

isaiah 6:10

Make the heart of this people fat,
and make their ears heavy,
and shut their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed

to shakespeare:-

King: Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern
Queen: Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz

The world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles
dare not perch.
Since every Jack became a gentleman,
There's many a gentle person
made a Jack
(King Richard III (1592))

a couple from winston churchill that i had not seen before:-

Now this is not the end
It is not even the beginning of the end
But it is, perhaps,
the end of the beginning

oscar wilde was another master:-

When we are happy we are always good,
but when we are good we are not always happy

I wrote when I did not know life;
now that I do know the meaning of life,
I have no more to write.
Life cannot be written; life can only be lived
(i like that one, clever man)

those are the older and more classic ones. 

in 1991 vanity fair published an edition with a naked (and very pregnant) demi moore on the cover.  her hands and arms were placed to cover certain strategic places.  the photographer annie leibovitz caused controversy by combining sexuality with pregnancy and motherhood.  ellen goodman who wrote for the boston golden globe at the time had this to say:-

a few more:-

Love is the irresistible desire
to be irresistibly desired

or should it be:-
Love is the irresistible desire
to be desired irresistibly

Lust is what makes you keep wanting to do it,
even when you have no desire to be with each other.
Love is what makes you keep wanting to be with each other,
even when you have no desire to do it.
Judith Viorst

I find Paul appealing
and Peale appalling
Adlai Stevenson

Errol Flynn died on a 70-foot boat with a 17-year-old girl.
Walter has always wanted to go that way,
but he's going to settle for a 17-footer with a 70-year-old.
Betsy Maxwell Cronkite, wife of Walter Cronkite.

Charm is a woman's strength …
strength is a man's charm - Havelock Ellis

it is now very late and i am hesitant to publish this post.  this slightly academic post from a nonacademic is probably leaving you wondering what i have been drinking and now is time to confess (one glass of rockfield sauvignon blanc, promise).  really, here is the reason:-

after looking up "chiasmus" and reading bits of "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You" i saw the quote below and had to share.  the only way to include it in the post would be to give you some background:-
"I've been fucking busy
and vice versa"
Dorothy Parker

to include it any other way would just not have been "right" ;)
sorry mum
(and apologies to the two english teachers who read my blog)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

smells and memories

a while back dalene and i were taking a walk together on a cold and crisp night.  on getting back to her front gate we both took a deep breath and sniffed and at the same time said "it smells like johannesburg".  when dalene was about 7 my mom, dalene and i moved to johannesburg for a couple of months because our doctor had told my mom that dalene would not be able to survive another wet cape town winter.  the previous year she had had such bad bronchitis and pneumonia that my mom had taken her off to a farm in the karoo called "melton wold" for a couple of months.
melton wold
 wonderful place near victoria west

the next winter started and dalene was no better so a move with me this time, to johannesburg, where we could both attend school took place.  my mom had family there and we moved into a boarding house of sorts close by to where they lived.  neither of us had been exposed to the icy, dry, cold of a johannesburg winter and every house had fires or anthracite heaters burning.  to this day the smell of coal or anthracite burning in cape town always brings back those memories of a school term spent in johannesburg to both of us.  this was not a particularly happy smell but it does evoke lots of memories.

the "smell" of johannesburg in the late '60's

a happier smell for me is the smell of old spice.  why don't men wear that aftershave anymore?  it reminds me so much of my grandfather.  when i was young i used to sit on the toilet (closed) and watch my grandfather shave.  it was a fascinating ritual.  he had this tub of soap in a cup and a bristle brush.  he would make so much lather and always give me a dollop on the nose or cheek.  years and years later when he used to babysit gareth for me 2 mornings a week gareth was also shown his ritual (not sure why he always shaved at odd times).  anyway gareth was very honoured to be given his old red bristle bush.  for years it was in our bathroom at parry road and even moved to albion road with us (wonder where it is now?).

my one grandmother "granny carlson" wore elizabeth arden's blue grass.  i was walking through woolworths the other day and saw it on the shelves and could not resist a spray.  still definitely my "granny carlson smell" and brings back memories of her neat flat in kenilworth and tidy cupboards (she kept her shoes in the boxes and her jerseys in zipper bags). but sorry granny carlson i headed back to the office and had to wash it off my wrist.  there are not many perfumes that i can wear because as soon as they hang around my nose for too long, i start feeling sick.  no offence (that is just me).

my other granny "granny housego" was the homely one.  i don't think she bothered much with blue grass and tidy cupboards.  her home was filled with those ducks that fly up the stippled walls, like these:-

(amazing what you can google).  i think this was her set.  i remember that the one in the middle always looked frightened. she had lots of glass ball-and-claw display cabinets but when you visited her you spent time in the kitchen around her formica table.  

around this table she would tell you stories while she cooked or washed up.  she made up the best stories about fairies who drank dewdrops and used your teardrops to cook their rice, also about forests and houses inside old trees (and she would do her best to make dalene, my 2 girl cousins and i cry).  she did it so well though, she got us all to the point that the tears were filling our eyes and then she made everything alright with a couple of happy words.  her kitchen was always full of people, lots of steam and good smells.  the smell that reminds me of her is the smell of vanilla custard (she made it the proper way) and which she served in a jug just like this one:-

after "granny housego" (house-E-go) died my aunt asked me to come around and take anything i wanted.  at the time there were only a couple of photographs that i wanted (who in their right mind would want those ducks and cracked old jug).  now sitting here looking at those ducks and the jug i wish that i could have them in my kitchen (yes, the ducks too).  i also wish that i one day i will have my grandchildren around the kitchen table while i cooked and told them stories to make them cry.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

men and women and colour

we had a discussion in the office the other day about colour.  it all came about because we were choosing colours for the new carpets.   jan came through and looked at the swatches and picked out his two favourites.  the women in the office were mortified.  the two that he picked were a chocolate brown and a dark purple brown.  he then left for golf totally unaware of the stir he had caused because this led to some discussion which was made worse when michael came through and chose the reddish purple colour (i still hope that he was joking) as he thought it would match the new red blinds very well.

do men and women see colour differently?  is my teal not your teal?  i know women do see more colours than men

but the funny part is that we do confuse them (men - not colours - but colours too).  the other day michael wanted to know what shoes to wear with his dark tan (nearly brown) pants.  i told him definitely the black ones.  "but i was taught that black and brown don't go together?".   i also remember that but the rules do change and i told him so.  a couple of days later he came through to the kitchen wearing navy pants and brown shoes.  "no, no, no", said i.  "so black and brown go but why not navy and brown".   i did not have an answer.

when we did the decor for nina and glenn's wedding in march it was amazing to discover how differently people perceive colour.   nina had mentioned that the bridesmaid's dresses were "kind-of- purple".   once we got the swatch of the colour there was much debating.   from periwinkle blue to dark lavender, no one could actually put their finger on it.

 lovely bridesmaid lauren and her girls

looking at the chart below, i would say it is somewhere between blue and lavender.
Men’s Favorite Colors Women’s Favorite Colors

The table is courtesy of Live Silver Prices

and to me the lavender above is not lavender.  but who am i to argue with the professionals?  the picture below of little gracie (michael's sister jennifer's granddaughter) running in a field of lavender proves my point, or does it?

gracie (in the fields)
i hope you don't mind me using your picture janet? *

the colour debate goes on.  gareth thinks he is colour blind but is definitely not afraid of colour and often wears bright cardigans and sweatshirts.    i am afraid of colour - chromophobic, i believe is the word.  i was not always like this.  i did wear a long red dress to my matric dance and i do love colourful things in my life and home but not to wear them.  i am happy to wear a touch of colour subtly sticking out from something black or grey.  denim is fine too.  i love pretty floral shirts (and have a couple of unworn ones in my cupboard) but never wear them. i even put them on sometimes and get dressed but run back inside to change.  weird.  even when it comes to make-up i will stick with the neutral.  gill (who i share the front office with) wears lovely bright lipsticks and always asks why i have "pimple stick" on my lips.  i can't count how many lipsticks and eye shadows i have given away.

i remember years ago when the boys were little and they asked me "what's your favourite colour, mom?" - grey was my answer.  "grey is not a colour" was their reply.

years later when they were teenagers, i could prove my point (and do i love proving my point) when their favourite song of that time - mr jones by counting crows used to be played and re-played in the car or on the cd player:-

lyrics go as follows:-

I will paint my picture
Paint myself in blue and red and black and grey
All of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful
Grey's is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a grey guitar and play

Mr. Jones and me look into the future
Stare at the beautiful women
"She's looking at you.
Uh, I don't think so. She's looking at me."
Standing in the spotlight
I bought myself a grey guitar
When everybody loves me, I will never be lonely

mr jones (if you have forgotten) and want to listen

sorry, seriously sidetracked again and better finish off before i end up talking about the us open or something completely off the subject.  

conclusion - the colour of the carpets chosen for the office is a neutral grey/beige (we women do have a way of getting our way)!!

* (janet writes a brilliant blog http://wordsthatcanonlybeyourown.blogspot.com/ - take a look)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

some winners of the weekend

winner number 1:-

nicky deacon's sweet potato and ginger soup:-

1 bunch spring onions - chopped
2T sunflower oil
3t fresh ginger - peeled and chopped
1 fresh chilli - chopped
1kg sweet potato - peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
coriander leaves
salt and pepper

gently soften onion and chilli in oil, add sweet potato and season a bit.
leave for about 5 minutes then add stock and coconut milk
simmer for 20/30 minutes until tender. 
puree and check taste
serve with coriander


i bought those sweet potatoes at woolworths and it looks more like butternut soup when cooked.  not so easy to find the light yellow sweet potatoes anymore and i think their flavour is better.  my soup never quite matches nicky's special blend.  my friend in new zealand, cheryl was visiting me and the night before nicky left for her holiday in namibia she brought around a large pot of this special soup.  it is still my favourite comfort food and, even the smell, brings back wonderful memories of her.

on the weekend we doubled the ingredients and made a really big pot which we had with ciabatta breads and a greek yogurt, chopped chilli and grated cucumber type of tsastiki (dalene got that recipe from her hairdresser - thanks abeda).  the greek yogurt mix was divine on the crispy warm ciabatta breads which we ate with the soup.

winner number 2:-

this not because i drank it either.  i just thought this label was brilliant:-

if it is too small to read, it says:-
the siren
shiraz / mourvedre / viognier
soft, ripe & juicey.  unpretentious
"this wine is a manifestation of me
if you don't like it.....enjoy your beer"
me, myself, the guy that made this wine

gareth had found this wine at the bottle store on the corner of raapenberg road in mowbray for R19 a bottle.  a really nice, lightish red wine.  if i did not love my ice cold white so much i may have been tempted to have a glass (or two). gareth and nic told me a bit more about it and that the wine started off as a blog (a bit like my book / blog vibe, but not really).  free bottles of wine were given away to wine bloggers.  this was about 7 years ago.   their website needs more investigating when i have some time so not 100% sure of all the details and whether there is much of the wine available in cape town.  this is the site:-

“The one with the back label on the front”

i also found this story:-


"The first 500 people, aged 18 or over, who send me a pic of themselves in Tesco’s, holding a bottle of Stormhoek, will receive a £5.00 Tesco voucher from us, to cover the cost of the wine [N.B. These vouchers are not sponsored by Tesco's. We're covering the cost out of our own pocket]. And hey, you don’t even have to buy the wine if you don’t feel like it. You can spend the voucher on whatever you want. Nor do you have to blog it. Frankly, I’m more interested in the photos.

And to make it a bit more interesting, we’ll post our favorite pics on the Stormhoek blog, and each week we’ll send a complimentary case of wine to the person who took our favorite picture that week.
[AFTERTHOUGHT:] To get the ball rolling, I’ll send a case of Stormhoek [6 bottles] to the first six people who send in a photo [on condition that you're over 18 years old, of course]. Again, you don’t even have to buy the wine, nor do you have to blog it. [CAVEAT:] Though this promotion is in most Tesco stores, it isn’t in all of them. If your local Tesco doesn’t carry Stormhoek, apologies in advance. Drop me an e-mail if this happens and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks. [P.S. For all you Wine Geeks:] The Stormhoek Pinotage that won the “Best Pinotage in The World” award last year is part of the promotion. Rock on.
This might turn out to be quite groovy, it might not. Whatever. Fail fast, fail often etc."

nice marketing.......i like it (a lot) and may just venture out to find some of their white wines to try.  do you know the wine - ellen?  hope?  judy??  nix???? (names in no particular order, lest you think it is "ability to drink white wine" order)

winner number 3:-

caroline's cheese bread.  easy and divine and now i know the ingredients (because i did the shopping)!!  i am not a great baker so she is in no danger of me taking over the role that she has made her own.  i only hope i am not going to be in trouble for sharing the information but as kelly loves to say "sharing is caring":-

500 grams self raising flour
500 ml buttermilk
1 packet brown onion soup
1 cup cheese, grated
little bit of salt (brown onion soup is fairly salty)

heat oven to 190 deg. C
mix flour, butter and soup powder together by hand
mix in some of the grated cheese
place mixture in greased loaf tin (makes 2 medium sized loaves)
sprinkle grated cheese over batter (as much as you like)
bake for 45 minutes in pre-heated oven

get creative too:

add a tin of sweetcorn, some pepperdews or bacon (or both), garlic and parsley and other interesting things to the batter before putting it into the loaf tin. the sky is the limit with this basic recipe and you can change it up any way your heart desires!
makes great toast too!!

more to come.....