"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"

Monday, 31 October 2011

inside your mother's kist

My mother recently cleared out her kist which is still at Dalene's house - quite a treasure trove of memories.  
Out of it came her wedding dress (the first one to my father "who art in heaven") which we promptly made Amy try on.  It fits the skinny whippet like a glove and the dress is very similar to what Kate's wedding dress looked like.  Slightly yellow but it has a lovely antique look to it.  Amy is determined to wear it when she marries her prince but I think we are going to have to wrap her tightly in bandages and put books on her head so that she does not grow up or sideways.  She grows taller by the day and definitely has inherited "taller" genes from her two (not so fairy) godmothers!!
the dress
preserved since 15 February 1951
beautiful bride
(I actually prefer the neckline on mother's dress)
The lace work is incredible and it is amazing how some things never go out of fashion.  We are getting into wedding mode at the moment.  It is my brother's wedding in less than two weeks.  11.11.11 (how cool but not at 11).   David has been back in Cape Town for about 3 weeks and Lucie arrived this weekend, so it is becoming very real and exciting.  International guests start arriving from next weekend - busy times.   Everyone seems to have an outfit (except me) and I was hoping that some amazing creation would be in the kist for me (even some of my grandmother's jewels at this stage will do).   There was a mantilla. When did people ever wear them?

I am obviously not up with the latest fashion
(mmmm.....maybe I could find a place for it together with my outfit?)
There were 2 hand knitted bed jackets and even a crocheted poncho!!  We were having a ball.

My mother was not looking for wedding dresses or heirlooms or mantillas but was looking for her old photographs.  A great big wooden box full of them.  This lead to Dalene and I sitting laughing and reminiscing long after mother had left with her chosen few pictures for her scrap booking class.  

Amongst the many memories were pictures of our Christmas's spent at Franschoek when the boys were still at junior school.  The last year we spent there was when Amy was a year old, so that is nearly 14 years ago.   My mom and Dick had bought timeshare at the Swiss Farm Excelsior and our week was the Christmas week.  We must have spent 4 or 5 years in a row there and it holds very special memories.  (That is until that charming, famous, very blonde SA cricketer (fast bowler whose name begins with a "G") and his development company went into liquidation and Swiss Farm closed down).  Sometimes it is difficult to forgive (or forget).

It was the place where Dick (and Tom) developed their love of bowls and where the tradition of our Christmas "fun game" was born.  We used to put a time limit on our shopping trip into town. We were only allowed to spend R25 (it went pretty far in those days) and it turned into our own Amazing Race.  Biltong, wine, tea pots (from Pep Stores), t-shirts, coffee mugs and so many other weird and wonderful presents. We play with a dice, you choose a present when you throw a 6, then once everyone has opened their presents you steal the present you want from someone else (after throwing a 6).  A time limit is set and there is always one favourite gift that the family will fight over and will end up changing hands many times (unlike the teapot from Pep Stores (which I got stuck with and now love dearly)).

No-one in our family, will ever dare argue about the fact that the best gift ever bought for our Christmas eve game was "the Hairy Man".  Bought by Dickles at Cardies in Franschoek for R19.99.  I have just searched Matthew's room for the original one - he presently has "ownership" and it is probably in his room in Kimberley.  I wanted to take a picture to show you.  This is the closest I could find on the internet:-
Our "Hairy Man" is furry and fluffy (and blondish) and not quite as "in your face" as the one above (but you get the idea).  You lift the bearded flap and underneath the fluffy beard you would find the "Hairy Man's" little felt balls (quite sweet really).  The boys were fascinated and there were tears at the end of the game because everyone wanted him.  He has never been used as a key-ring and for many Christmas's after Dick had died he used to find his way back into the game (and still cause a fight and tears).  It sounds like a dreadful game with tears and fights but it really is lots of fun.

On thinking about those special times at Franschoek we think of all the games and contests that were held.  Besides the daily mountain walks, bicycle rides (and men and boys sometimes ducking out to play golf) there was a sun downer bowling challenge every day, the "break the record at beach bats" competition, cricket matches in the long driveway, lunches at La Petite Ferme, swimming races in their wonderful swimming pool, snooker and foosball in the games room, long drawn out braai's every night and always Jenga on the dining room table.
I took the box of Jenga out the other day.  It is such a simple game of 54 perfect beechwood rectangular blocks. 

From Wikipedia

"Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Parker Brothers, a division of Hasbro. During the game, players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses. Jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning "to build"."

It is a game that Dick spent hours teaching impatient boys to play.  Dick was a patient soul and would think about each block he removed from the pile and know where the best place to reposition the block would be.  In this simple game of blocks so much was learned about each persons personality and their strategy in playing the game. You could quickly spot the risk takers and it is a great game to play in teams instead of individually. 

Dick worked with his hands, he knew how to build houses and fix things.  He would explain to the boys that the stronger the foundation was, the less shaky the structure would be and it was easy to pull out the wooden pieces without much care. When the foundation pieces were barely there to support the structure, it was difficult to pull out a piece from any part of the structure and required a great effort, time and concentration to pull it out.  

Quite a difficult task when all the boys wanted to do was get the tower as high as they could and then watch in delight when it smashed down in a split second, not appreciating all the time and effort that it had taken to get it to that point.

Now as I sit typing this post, I am thinking of my stepfather and the lessons he taught me, many of which I did not fully appreciate at the time. I have never been one to dwell on the past or have regrets but I often think about time travel and how amazing it would be to be able to go back to the past, in your mind, and remember everything clearly.  One of the things I would choose to do would be to go back to an evening in Franschoek, playing Jenga with Dick, and I would listen more closely to all the philosophies he had about life and the importance of strong foundations, debating what the 3 blocks at the base would be.  Love, trust and respect got the general vote (there were a couple of others thrown into the pot).   How true that a relationship could maybe stand (and sway a bit) with one of those foundation blocks missing, remove 2 and it is more unstable (it can balance on one block in the middle - but not for long) and as soon as the 3rd block is bumped the whole lot comes crashing down.

I don't think we have played Jenga since Dick died.  I know it has been taken to Plettenberg Bay on our holidays but I don't remember anyone playing it.  Maybe it is time.

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Friday, 28 October 2011

if you don't know reacher - you know jack!!

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Not my idea for the title - but oh so clever (it could almost have been mine :)).  I found it (and lots of other trivia) on the Jack Reacher website.  I am totally fascinated by him, want to meet him and spend hours thinking of who the right actor to play him in the movies will be.  I read somewhere that Lee Child decided on his name when unemployed and in the supermarket with his wife.  Being tall himself, he was often asked by little old ladies to "reach" up to the top shelf for them.  His wife called him her "reacher" and so the name was born.  In Jack he has created the perfect fictional character .  He is a loner, a wanderer, has no fixed abode and travels with only a toothbrush.

He is a the hero you fall for, be you male or female.  6'5, 250 lbs, strong, punctual (although never wears a watch), he acts on instinct, he is super intelligent (knows numbers, square roots, prime numbers better than a machine).  He is an ex-military cop, a street fighter - you are safe with Jack.  He owns nothing, has no roots and is always on the move.  Through his adventures you find out more about Maine, New York, New Jersey, Colorado and although born and bred in England, Lee Child has mastered the American landscapes.  He is married to an American.

Woman lose their hearts to him although they know that he will never be with them for long, he never commits and dresses very badly. When his shirts get smelly, he buys a new one.

Gareth started reading these books many years ago.  I have only been hooked for the last 18 months or so and I have not read them all and am no authority on the subject but of the 7 or so books I have read, I love them.  I love his style, I love the pace but mostly I love Jack Reacher.  The first thing that hooked me on these books were the short chapters.  I read in bed and long chapters don't do it for me as I end up having to re-read the last read chapter the next night (and the next).  So, I get into bed and say "OK Jennifer, you are tired, just one chapter of Reacher, light off and sleep".  Never works, I end up reading at least 5 chapters and I don't have to re-read them the next night.

Now the buzz is on about who is going to play Jack in the movies.  Top of the pile is Tom Cruise - oh my word, PLEASE, PLEASE no.   He is too short and far too smooth looking.  We need an American version of Javier Bardem
or a younger version of Jeff Bridge
What about the guy from Prison Break? Dominic Purcell - too bald, not quite right
Jeffrey Dean Morgan?  Quite a bit like Javier (don't you think?) but American and handsomer.  He has apparently moved on from Grey's into movies and, to me, has the right look. He has recently shot The Resident with Hilary Swank and All Good Things with Ryan Gosling and Ms. Dunst. I like him (a lot).  
Ryan Reynolds, that Viggio Martinegro guy and many other names have been bandied about.  Very much like who should be the next Bond and all the controversy that goes with that selection.  I really hope Lee Child will have some say in the selection.  I think that Reacher is Lee Child.

Last night while looking for pictures and stuff I came across this bit of very interesting information.  Facebook have a whole page debating who should be Jack.  Who is the profile picture?  Lawrence Dallagio - my bestest rugby player.  I forwarded the link to Gareth (he who berates my love of the English rugby team and their present and past members) and have not heard a peep from him (could it perhaps be that Larry is the face that comes into Gareth's mind when he devours the books?)
Who would Jack Reacher look like?

Perhaps Nick Faldo too?

They are both the right height and fighting weight.  Nick probably has more before the camera and behind the mike experience than Lawrence.  However, probably the one thing against them both is that they are a tad too English.  Deary me!!  Back to the drawing board.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

a random list of smiles

Have you noticed the sudden popularity of clever quotes, cheesey sayings, inspirational and motivational words popping up all over your computer.  Facebook now has pages devoted to them and Pinterest (my favourite) has thousands of boards with words in every font available.
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I love around 29% of the ones I see and of those 29% I probably cut and paste and save about half (nearly 15%) in different folders and draft sub-folders on my computer.  Then on an evening like tonight, I take a look and either delete the ones I thought I liked the first time and say to myself "Jennifer, what were you thinking?" or use one (like the one below) for a little bit of inspiration.
So here I sit alone at my computer in the dead of the night, unable to sleep and smiling to myself at the amazing wit of Oscar Wilde (Dorian Gray is one of my top 10 books) and before I get totally off the subject, a little snippet from the book and then I will get back to the title of this post (promise):-

"Dorian started and peered round.  “This will do,” he answered, and having got out hastily and given the driver the extra fare he had promised him, he walked quickly in the direction of the quay. Here and there a lantern gleamed at the stern of some huge merchantman. The light shook and splintered in the puddles.  A red glare came from an outward-bound steamer that was coaling.  The slimy pavement looked like a wet mackintosh.

At the end of the hall hung a tattered green curtain that swayed and shook in the gusty wind which had followed him in from the street.  He dragged it aside and entered a long low room which looked as if it had once been a third-rate dancing-saloon.  Shrill flaring gas-jets, dulled and distorted in the fly-blown mirrors that faced them, were ranged round the walls.  Greasy reflectors of ribbed tin backed them, making quivering disks of light. The floor was covered with ochre-coloured sawdust, trampled here and there into mud, and stained with dark rings of spilled liquor."

Isn't that awesome?  Enough of brothels and debauchery and back to "freedom, books, flowers and the moon" and "happiness".  I have decided to compose a random list of smiles.  To compose of list of "happiness" is just too difficult and far too broad so I thought I would start with a list of the simple things that make me smile everyday.

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1.   the first sip of hot morning tea
2.   hot shower
3.   trying a new shampoo for the first time
4.   first squeeze of a new tube of toothpaste
5.   freshly washed clean towels (crisp and white)
6.   birds bathing outside the kitchen window
7.   feeling of wet grass under your feet
8.   green lights, no traffic
9.   chatting and laughing with friends
10. coming home to a clean house
11. coming home to the smell of a pot roast in the slow cooker
12. the first sip of ice cold wine
13. all the family around the dinner table
14. warm hugs
15. a postcard in the postbox
16. the smell of johnson's baby powder
17. a few chapters of a good book to end the day
18. freshly washed bedding and crisp pillowcases
19. "love you mom" text messages
20.  night time cuddles

Enough from me for tonight, it's now 2.35 and I am a bit chilly (and sleepy) so back to bed.

21.  cold body on warm Michael

and life goes on it's merry way

1. first sip of hot morning tea

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

on the subject of memories and mothers

A mere mention of the Grapevine canteen restaurant at Garlicks, Adderley Street in my post the other day jolted a couple of people's memories.  My mom (and greatest fan) sent me a sweet email this morning telling me how much she enjoys remembering things through my eyes so I started thinking (I think too much) about my mother and the early days.

Firstly when I think of Rosebank Junior School the first thing I remember are the toilets and the smell of the toilets.  Do you remember the soap that school toilets used to use?  It looked like blue cheese.  It was Carbolic Soap and not as trendy as the type below, but you get the drift?  Farmers, I know, used it to wash their hands after milking their cows.

The toilet paper they used we used to take home to use for tracing paper.  I still have a thing about toilets, soap and tracing paper.

Rosebank Junior school of the young
Teaching us wisdom for what is to come
Inspiring us strongly with courage to fight
for happiness, knowledge and all that is right
'Neath the mountains green and tall we learnt to play the game
(forgot the rest)

Then on thinking about RJS I started thinking about getting ready for school in our little green dresses with a round pink collars.  I remember my mother, being in a hurry to get to work, giving us pigtails (very high pigtails) or plaits (very tight plaits).  If my mom could be "top of the class" for any one thing it would be for making the straightest path down the back of her childrens' scalps for their pigtails (or plaits).  For her to attain this perfection she used the edge of her steel comb.  Exactly like this one:-

For the entire morning we were aware of exactly which path our mother took to attain perfection, because our little blonde scalps were weeping and the pigtails were so high and tight that it gave us that oriental look that the little boys in our class found so appealing (if only she knew).  Sorry a mistake - mixed metaphors - it gave us such an attractive look that the oriental boys (the Tongs) found us so appealing. 

As most of us know, once we become mothers we find ourselves sounding like and becoming our mothers in many ways (the good and the bad) and I think God was being kind to little children when he gave me boys who did not need to have their hair put into pigtails (Matthew cut those locks, quick).

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Bad mother, skew path (too cute, I need one of these)

Hair for little girls!
Oh my sainted aunt - Imagine if Dalene and I had to go through this many hair paths in the mornings?
Also definitely not from my mother's school of straight path making, she lost interest at the bottom
Nearly neat enough from the front but what lies behind?
This is probably the closest I could find, but the pigtails are not tight or high enough though. 9/10 for the straight (ish) path though
OK, I'll stop now.  This is getting scary.

Amy and Kelly, when they were little, used to cry if I (their beloved, sainted aunt) was given the task of washing their hair - lie back flat in the bath, head dunked under, up to surface for hard rub with shampoo, bubbles in eyes, back again to rinse (eyes and hair).  Easy Peasy, I don't know what the fuss was all about.

Back to mothers and mothering.   I knew I had kept this list.  Sometimes I surprise myself that there is some order in my disorder.  

  1. my mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE - "if you're going to kill each other, do it outside.  i just finished cleaning".
  2. my mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL - "if you don't behave, i'm going to knock you into the middle of next week"
  3. my mother taught me LOGIC -"because i said so, that's why"
  4. my mother taught me MORE LOGIC - "if you fall out of that tree and break your neck, you're not coming to the shops with me"
  5. my mother taught me FORESIGHT - "make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."  (actually my grandmother's favourite expression, she carried an extra pair of panties in her handbag in case of an emergency - could just picture her "Excuse me ambulance driver, close your eyes,  I have to change my panties!!")
  6. my mother taught me the SCIENCE OF OSMOSIS - "shut your mouth and eat your supper."
  7. my mother taught me CONTORTIONISM - "will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck"
  8. my mother taught me about the CIRCLE OF LIFE - "i brought you into this world and i can take you out"
  9. my mother taught me BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION - "stop acting like your father!"
  10. my mother taught me about ANTICIPATION - "just wait until we get home" or "just wait until your father gets here"  (lucky for us, he was always late)
  11. my mother taught me about ENVY - "there are millions of less fortunate children in this world who do not have wonderful parents (a plate of food) like you do"
  12. my mother taught me JUSTICE - "one day you'll have kids and i hope they turn out just like you"  
So tell me truthfully, how many of these expressions have you heard or used?  My mother used to love the "hitting you into next week" expression (although she always said "next month").  Another one of those expressions that never really made sense to me as a child and still doesn't (as an adult), but it sounds good.

and best of all-

   13.   my mother taught me WISDOM - "when you get to my age, you'll understand."

This one is not a joke - Mom, I am beginning to understand.

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How true.  

Monday, 24 October 2011

there are places i remember

This song has been in my head the last two days.  It is one of my favourite Beatles songs because it has good lyrics.  Never one to complain about their voices and melodies but their lyrics sometimes left much to be desired.  This is yet another of the subjects that gets me into trouble with my loved ones.  Don't ever mention the name Elvis to me - he is up there with Michael Jackson (actually they are both poking coals with Lucifer making music to drive all the dead bad beings down there crazy), Mariah Carey, Lance Armstrong and the New Zealand rugby team (but not their cricket team, they are pretty cool) as my least favourite people.  However, the English cricket and rugby team, Nick Faldo and Lawrence the Great (Dallaglio) are right up on a pedestal with Dave Matthews (who does a better version of this song than the Beatles).  Well, I think so.  Take a listen and then I will get on to the real story behind this post.  

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Last year sometime Michael was helping his aging and forgetful mother list all the places she had lived, starting with where she was born.  The list was extensive.  Her father was a minister and they were moved around a lot.  She and her husband (the late Rev. Theo Kotze) were also in the ministry and moved around South Africa before living in exile overseas. They came back to South Africa after Mandela was released.  If I recall correctly she had lived in more than 20 different homes.

On the other end of the scale, my world is very small.  Yesterday I went around taking some pictures of the places where I have lived and, although I did not measure the distance, I have never lived more than approximately 4km's from where I was born at the Mowbray Maternity Hospital.  Three homes in the Rosebank area took me to my teens, then a move when my mom remarried to the Red Cross Hospital side of Rondebosch Common.  John and I moved into a flat on the mountain side of the common, then to a cottage in Rondebosch East and to Parry Road, Claremont, the only home the boys knew until I got divorced in 1999.   A short stint in a small flat next to Westerford, a move to Albion Road and now St Denis Road.  OK, 8 homes is a fair number but it is the fact that I have never ever moved out of the area, for anything that is unusual.  Schools were also all within the 4km radius.

Now as I am sorting through the photographs from yesterday there is one picture that sucks me in. 

Albion Road. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love our house in St Denis Road.  It has been changed to how we want it, I have the perfect sized garden to work in and manage, everything works (except the hot tap in the en-suite shower), I love the way the light comes into the lounge through the blinds in the morning, the courtyard is a small oasis and I am happier than I have ever been.

So what is my love for this battered little tin-roofed cottage next to the railway line where the cupboards tremble and plates chatter every time a train pulls into or out of Rondebosch station all about?  Michael and my mother don't understand it.  The cottage is dark but not too dark.  It is lovely and cool in summer and not too cold in winter.  You have to negotiate certain floorboards in the dark, the electricity trips far too often, the kitchen floor is subsiding and the door frames are warped. Nic now lives there and, for my sins, I now have the role of landlady.  Whenever I have had the opportunity to "pop in" to sort out a washing machine or a roof leak and even although it is sometimes a mess, I always get a good, coming home feeling as I open the front door.

I know the boys feel the same as I do and now that I am writing about it, I am understanding my own feelings about the house better.  Albion Road was the first home of my own (even although I do not "own" it).  It came at a difficult time of our lives but from this rattling little cottage at the bottom of the tree lined road so many good times were had.  We all learnt so much.  For the first time in my life, I was in control (the boys will challenge me on this one).  Our home became home-from-home to so many of their friends, there was a stack of mattresses and on Sunday mornings, Matthew would do a head count of bodies on beds all over the house.  He was 12 years old and so chuffed to have Gareth and Nic's rugby mates sleeping over that he would hide his chocolate Pronutro away from them and proceed to help me make bacon and eggs for his rugby hero's.

The dynamics of the house changed over the years.  Gareth went off to the UK for 2 years, Nic had a gap year in America and the UK.  Nic came back, Matt left to have his gap year at Clifton College in Bristol.  They all came home and went off to study and to work.  Matthew and I left the older two behind when we moved in with Michael to St Denis Road.  Things kept changing but never too much.

Gareth lived there after I had left with Nic and his friend Grant, Nic is now there with three friends including Bob, his great friend who had left but got "homesick" and returned.  It is a house that you cannot quite put your finger on about what makes it special.  James has not been living there for long but is making changes and enjoys fixing and making things.  He has re-established the garden and so proud of it that I have promised that I will take some pictures and let you all see his work, soon.  I have realised that a home does not have to be perfectly decorated or built to make you happy. It is how your home makes you feel physically and emotionally that is important to your happiness.   I have wonderful memories of my time in Albion Road.  Always feeling safe, walking Rusty our staffie up the road late at night.  Watching the boys walking off to school in the morning (and never having to negotiate the traffic).   I will always be sentimental about number 47.

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Well said John Lennon wherever you are.  I really hope that you are not having to endure "Love me Tender" or having to learn how to moonwalk!!  You surely should have been forgiven for the words of "Love, love me do", but on further investigation ......

God is a concept, By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I'll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I don't believe in magic,
I don't believe in I-ching,
I don't believe in bible,
I don't believe in tarot,
I don't believe in Hitler,
I don't believe in Jesus,
I don't believe in Kennedy,
I don't believe in Buddha,
I don't believe in mantra,
I don't believe in Gita,
I don't believe in yoga,
I don't believe in kings,
I don't believe in Elvis,
I don't believe in Zimmerman,
I don't believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that's reality.
The dream is over,
What can I say?
The dream is over,
I was dreamweaver,
But now I'm reborn,
I was the walrus,
But now I'm John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over. 

-  perhaps you are playing poker with Lucifer.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

a forgotten sunday tradition

So families have their own words for things and their own traditions when it comes to food.  Sunday night suppers are one of those peculiar things that every family has their own idea about.  I know for most families it is always leftovers from the Sunday roast (we are not that lucky).  Michael's mom (and sometimes a friend) always come for lunch on Sunday.  I enjoy cooking and fiddling around on a Sunday morning but there is never really a pattern and right up until 12.30 when Helen (Michael's mom) starts setting the table, I am never sure how many people are coming for lunch. She cannot believe that I do not know many places to set for and probably thinks that I am trying to confuse her even more.  What usually happens is that Caroline is usually here, Kelly is mostly here (if she likes what is on the menu), more often than not either one or the other of Gareth or Nic (the other will arrive mid-afternoon for "leftovers").  By Sunday evening there are no leftovers so another plan is needed.  Michael and I very seldom have bacon and eggs for breakfast but often enjoy it for a supper (and often on a Sunday).  So either a toasted sandwich or bacon and eggs is our Sunday night norm.

When I grew up it was always "Welsh Rarebit" for Sunday supper (because we had lunch at my grandmother and never had leftovers) and it was only when I was nearly all grown up that I found out that it was not "Welsh Rabbit".  Why when we are little don't we ask important questions?  We ask so many other questions about all kinds of things but our parents are unaware that their children think that a rarebit is a rabbit and a hambag is really a handbag (we won't mention batatoes).  Welsh Rarebit is something that I followed on making in the family tradition and made it for the boys almost every Sunday night (and sometimes for supper during the week when it was close to the payday and the Salticracks had been finished).  Somehow (like quite a few other things), I had forgotten about making it and I don't think that I have ever made it for Michael.  Matthew is at home at the moment and I have forgotten how much he can eat, Nic is a hungry honey badger as he is writing exams and Gareth, I suspect may read this blog and be around in a flash for his share.   It is so easy to make - really cheese sauce on toast - and a good way to end a weekend.  It also brings back memories of the old Garlicks in Adderley Street and the "cheese melt" that they used to serve (the Grapevine, I recall).

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Preparation method

  1. In a small saucepan melt the butter and make a roux with the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent the roux from burning. Stir in the warm beer by degrees, until you have a thick but smooth sauce. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted. You should now have a thick paste. Mix in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and season well with black pepper.
  2. Lightly toast and butter the bread, then pile up the cheesy mixture on each slice. Cook under a hot grill for a few minutes, until browned and bubbling.

    What's on your menu tonight?

Friday, 21 October 2011

a melancholy feeling....

Maybe I have been thinking about words too much this week.  What does the word melancholy mean to you?  It is a lovely word and I, until looking it up now, never really thought of it as meaning what it really means:-

Noun: A deep, pensive, and long-lasting sadness.
Adjective: Sad, gloomy, or depressed.
Synonyms: noun.  sadness - melancholia - gloom - sorrow - dejection
adjective.  sad - gloomy - melancholic - mournful - dismal - blue

It is a word that evokes some sadness, I suppose, but I have always quite enjoyed my melancholy moods.  Maybe it is the "melan" part which I kind of have associated with "melodies" and music and feeling melancholy - totally wrong of course but I always think of being melancholy when you think and reflect on life and love and good and bad while listening to some old favourite melancholy songs.  Off the top of my head songs like "Tears in Heaven" - Eric Clapton, "Everybody Hurts" - REM, "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol, "Wild World" - Cat Stevens and so many more.  Damien Rice (sorry Gareth and Nic) and "The Blower's Daughter" is one of my most hauntingly melancholy songs.  It brings back memories of Nicky and I on a bus in Ireland with a hungover bus driver belting out Damien Rice on the amazing sound system on the bus.  Now whenever I hear the song I am happy to had the opportunity to have a wonderful 5 days in Ireland with Nicky but sad because she is no longer here to share those memories with me.

Please listen to it.  

Then I think it is the weather and the dullness of the day that has me feeling a tad melancholy today.  I suppose it started with a few tears (OK lots of tears) when I woke up this morning and read Nic's blog.  Nic and his three great friends are all now 26 (and have all been in Cape Town this week) and this posting about his friendship and the three of them "being closer to 50 than to newborn", drinking beers and solving the problems of the world had me blubbering like a baby (OK a menopausal mother).  It was 8 - 10 years ago that Nic and the same three friends used to spend weekends at Albion Road.  They would come in after a night out and I would hear them raiding the fridge and giggling and laughing (my bedroom was next to the kitchen).  Now these same four are now sitting around drinking beers and discussing their future - they are all so full of ideas and hope and have the world at their feet.  This should not evoke in me the true meaning of melancholy but I do feel melancholy and happy at the same time.  Only sad because those days flew by so quickly and because I really hope that all their dreams will come true and they do not give up or become disillusioned.  Happy because I am so proud of these four young ("closer to 50 than newborn") men who grew up before I even noticed.  

That, I think, is the essence of the word - You can be melancholy and happy at the same time.  "You agree?", she asks while turning up the volume on The Blower's Daughter because she is the only one in the office today.

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

a pigment of my imagination

Dalene and "batatoes", Gareth and "Huggins", Kelly and "Please press the "Peews" button" (pause button on the TV and no one has ever corrected her).  This all got me thinking about how complex our language really is.  Do you remember this poem from the "olden days"?

The English Lesson

We’ll begin with box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot… would a pair be beet?
If one is a tooth, and a whole set is teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth?
If the singular is this, and the plural is these,
Why shouldn’t the plural of kiss be kese?
Then one may be that, and three be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim.
So our English, I think you will agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.
I take it you already know
of tough, and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
on hiccough, through, slough and though.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead!
For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language: Why, man alive,
I’d learned to talk when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.

Make that fifty-two.  I regularly get messages from Gareth correcting me on the spelling of lose and not loose (or the other way round). Chose and choose I know the difference but lose and loose gets me every time.  I have worked my way around it, I just use different words - I hope the All Blacks don't win (lose) on Sunday.  She (me) is trying to shed (loose) a few kg's.

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I then found this cartoon which has confused the lose and loose even more
(Perhaps Gareth composed it?)

I do love the way that each family have their own word or words.  My boys just love Michael's word "moham" (his boarding school word for a poo).  "Excuse me, I am off for a moham".  Problem is he does not remember how or why it got that name and google does not help.  Only information on Moham is that it is the name of a band in Thailand (hence the capital letter).  Nice name though.  Perhaps some anal boy in the Natal Midlands once had a moham in a field after eating ham.  I think of "one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow".  However, in Michael's vocab dogs don't have moham's they make a molly.  I always thought of a Molly as a doll (hence the capital letter) and the word disturbed me a tad "Watch out, Jen there is a molly".  I would look out for a rag doll, closely missing the molly on the lawn!!

A couple of other words I have heard recently (in the yuppie mould) are:-

"Wow, she's a real GLAM" (greying, leisured, affluent and married)
"EEek, he is a DUMP" (destitute, unemployed mature professional)
"EEEEek, he is a LOMBARD" (lots of money but a right dickhead)
"He is a NONY" (not old not young)
"She is a lucky PIPPIE" (person inheriting parents' property)
"EEEEEk he is SCUM" (self-centred urban male)
"She's a SINBAD" (single income, no boyfriend, absolutely desperate)

Oh and another bit of trivia - you do know that there is no word that rhymes with orange?  Well there are other words in the English language which do not have a rhyming partner - silver and purple - all colours.  On further investigation however, I find that some chap has made up a list of 70 words including, angst, bachelor, elbow, citizen, film, citrus, luggage, olive and laundry (and a whole lot more).  Check here if you need to see them all.

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I like that last word "Sgriobn" - but a bit difficult to pronounce.   I think I need to invent a word to describe that feeling when your first sip of perfectly chilled wine hits your tongue.

Two nights without wine and I am writing about inventing words to describe the pleasure.  I may have a problem.  Watch this space.