"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"

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

a song, a laugh, a prayer

There is so much to tell, so much has been happening and there is a juicy post coming up (when I can find the lead to download pictures off my camera).  We have just spent quality time in the mountains with family and friends (unfortunately only 3 days and 2 nights).  A really special time with Mike and the boys (and Hayley and Kim), Caroline and Steve, my friend Cheryl from New Zealand, Kathy and her boys, my sister and her family, my brother and Lucie, my mum and Rob and Rob's son and daughter-in-law down from Kenya - 23 of us in all!!  We then left the family on Christmas Eve and headed home.  We have just had the quietest and simplest Christmas ever - (ham rolls for lunch and my first glass of wine at 8.30 (pm) after another roll (with cheese this time)).  Most important to was get home to spend some time with Michael's mother who is not in good shape but still pretty amazing for a nearly 93 year old.

Anyway last night I was listening to some Christmas music and getting a tad nostalgic (again).  My favourite Christmas song (I know you won't all agree) is Fairytale of New York which always reminds me of the wonderful rendition Nic and Bielle sang about 3 or 4 years ago (maybe that is why it is now my favourite).

I was trying very hard to get my emails working and gave up in frustration.  After pouring my second glass of wine Michael and I settled down to watch some television.  A bonus of Ricky Gervais on Graham Norton and then the Michael McIntyre show.

What a co-incidence....

Well I laughed till I cried because I can never remember the lyrics.  He is the funniest guy ever.  Then I cried a bit more because it felt like the right thing to do.

As I closed my eyes last night I prayed for the first time in awhile (it was the first time in over 10 years that we did not make it to church with Helen on Christmas morning).  Although pretty tired I lay there for ages thinking and praying and then getting sidetracked in between.  I said thanks for my very special family and wonderful friends, a husband who is always behind me to support and listen, three sons who have not had an easy 18 months but have come through stronger, Gareth who keeps us laughing, Nic who wrote amazing positive tributes to everyone around the Christmas table that were so special, Matt who embraces everything with open arms and went to so much trouble organising the Mexican themed dinner, Caroline who just gets stuck in and is always there to help, my mum who holds it all together (and tells us when to sit down and "eat before it gets cold"), my sister who trudges on with a smile (and a cackle) no matter what is thrown at her, a brother who is like an extra son, nieces who are like my daughters and add so much to our lives, Kathy and her boys, who are and act like brothers with my boys, Cheryl who kept us in continual fits of laughter and slotted right in like she had always been there (wish she was) - the list went on but then, like it often does in the middle of the night, you start thinking about things like - I hope Nic has arrived safely in Nature's Valley and then you think bad thoughts about the roads and what if something has happened and now it was too late to phone him and then because it is the middle of the night everything seems so much worse, and then about Helen (Mike's mom) and how I hope that she will hang in until her two sons from Canada and Boston arrive in a couple of weeks (it is so difficult to judge just how long she can carry on and she seems so small and helpless) so I prayed a bit more for family that are getting older, family that are far away, friends that are travelling and friends who have health issues and, of course, happiness for everyone too and then you get a bit afraid because so often you think that you have too much good in your life and something has to go wrong and that you do not deserve to be so lucky.

Thank goodness it was not too much longer until my sleeping tablet kicked in (don't tell my mother) and I awoke to another beautiful day in Cape Town and an early message from Nic telling me that he is now safely in Cape St Francis.

Good times and so much to be thankful for.

What I forgot to pray for was a little bit of energy - just a tad - today has been the most lazy day ever!!

Oh dear, I forgot the lyrics:-

It was christmas eve babe 
In the drunk tank 
An old man said to me: won't see another one 
And then they sang a song 
The rare old mountain dew 
I turned my face away and dreamed about you 
Got on a lucky one 
Came in eighteen to one 
I´ve got a feeling 
This year´s for me and you 
So happy christmas 
I love you baby 
I can see a better time 
Where all our dreams come true. 

They got cars big as bars 
They got rivers of gold 
But the wind goes right through you 
It´s no place for the old 
When you first took my hand on a cold christmas eve 
You promised me broadway was waiting for me 
You were handsome you were pretty 
Queen of new york city when the band finished playing they yelled out for more 
Sinatra was swinging all the drunks they were singing 
We kissed on a corner 
Then danced through the night. 

And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay 
And the bells were ringing out for christmas day. 

You´re a bum you´re a punk 
You´re an old slut on junk 
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed 
You scumbag you maggot 
You cheap lousy faggot 
Happy christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last. 

And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay 
And the bells were ringing out 
For christmas day. 

I could have been someone 
Well so could anyone 
You took my dreams from me 
When I first found you 
I kept them with me babe 
I put them with my own 
Can´t make it out alone 
I´ve built my dreams around you 

And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay 
And the bells are ringing out 
For christmas day.

Friday, 14 December 2012

can it get any hotter or busier?

Busy, fun, hot, stressed, sweaty, exhausted, not sleeping but energised - that has been my week. Times are crazy.  Gareth turned 30 on Monday and we had the family and godparents over.  It  does not take much and suddenly you have 25 for dinner.  Hans was visiting from Holland so it doubled up as time for him to see everyone.  

Hans spent the last three days being my travel companion, delivery assistant and packer.  I even had my first 2 difficult customers on one day.  One was grumpy because we could not find the house to deliver (How can you have a "crescent" which is like a road and a road with the same name (that is not marked) and both have a number 36?).  So that was two visits to Higgovale in two days.  Not a shabby place to be lost though.  Right up there below mountain and the cable car so we did not mind driving around and admiring the houses and the views.

Then a rather fussy customer who bullied me into changing the products in his hamper because he had increased the value by R50.  Hans looked on in amusement and then translated the conversation they had just had in Dutch.  I am going to have to toughen up a bit!!!

A quick preview of my week in pictures:-

Lunch at the Vineyard Hotel on Monday
(surprisingly reasonably priced for such a wonderful venue.  I had a caesar salad and Hans a thai chicken wrap with salad with 2 glasses of stunning wine wine, the bill was R220)
The only picture I took of Gareth's birthday
(no reading glasses, wrong camera setting and no Gareth - 1 / 10 Jennifer)
Tokara on Wednesday - 38 degrees in Stellenbosch
We had a wine and olive oil tasting before heading to Franschhoek over Helshoogte
Hans had never been to Franschhoek and was suitably impressed
Exploring Franschhoek
Then back to work.  Hans lugged lots of wine boxes and hampers around for me.  He was amused by my "office in a box" that travels everywhere with me (and gets heavier and heavier).
Mobile "Office in a Box"
"Step into my office for a minute please"
(no glasses, camera on wrong setting - 2/10 this time Jennifer)

Hans headed back to Holland last night.  Matthew cooked supper last night for his "sponsor", his wife and two delightful children.  The little boy Noah is 4 years old and is going to be a professional golfer.  He has already shot a 117 for 18 holes.  So last night was another late one.

Hamper orders have started coming in.  I was up at 5 this morning putting together some orders.

Hamper conveyor belt

I have not bought a present or unpacked the Christmas decorations.  More overseas visitors have arrived, Cape Town is more beautiful than I can ever remember and the place is humming.  I think I may have to start drinking Red Bull for breakfast!!

Have a great weekend - It is a long weekend for us.  Visitors to see, a wedding in Elgin and another party on Monday.  

Monday, 10 December 2012

finding time to breathe and smile...

Life does not seem to be getting any less busy but it is all great fun and I am trying hard to fit everything in.  Hans arrives from Holland tonight and will be spending a couple of days in Cape Town.  Cheryl has arrived from New Zealand but I have not heard from her yet.  I posted numbers on Facebook and have been anxiously waiting for her call but she has obviously been hijacked, handcuffed and is in hiding with her family (who have also not seen her for years).  (Joshua my number is 0765081513 - if you need help!!) 

Nothing like expecting visitors to get you dusting, tidying up and throwing out.  Yesterday Matthew also decided to do some furniture removals and a major cupboard clearout so in between all that was going on we had to re-arrange furniture (and I had to retrieve all the perfectly good clothing he was "throwing" away).  I was not impressed at the time but it has all worked out well and things have found new places to live and his room is perfectly organised.  However, we still have wine packaging in the lounge, the garage is overflowing with empty boxes, wedding decorations and bags of Matthew's clothing.  I have people for dinner tomorrow night for Gareth's 30th birthday but nothing that a few deep breaths and quiet time making lists won't solve.

Cheryl who is coming to stay closer to Christmas comes from a long line of domestic goddesses.  Her drawers and cupboards are colour coded and I remember getting a lesson from her mother many years ago about how to do my washing.  Everytime I mix my colours, I have a little look upstairs to Jonsie and apologise.  She will be most impressed however, that ever since she looked at me in horror, I never put my dish towels in the washing machine with socks or underwear and save the dishtowels for the bedding and towels.  Quite a gross thought actually and something I had never thought of before she gave me "the look".

The weather in Cape Town is good, friends and family from afar are starting to arrive, wine orders are coming in steadily and there is plenty to smile about.  Breathe slowly Jennifer!!

Loved this.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

pre-empting disaster..

Jan and Ellen popped around the other night to taste some wine and collect their order.  I served Ellen her wine in one of my new glasses

She commented on the lovely glass (and the excellent wine) and in her very wise voice said "I hope you are not letting Albertina near these glasses".

Dear Albertina - a member of our family for over 20 years who now also works for Jan and Ellen one day a week - but the proverbial "bull in a china shop".

Yesterday  morning as I sat preparing my blog, putting up the pictures of my 2 new champagne glasses with the champagne, sitting admiring them and how beautifully they photographed, sitting being busy and totally aware of what was going on in my kitchen.
There was not much to be done as the dishwasher was full and busy.  There was a roasting pan to wash and about 6 glasses (four of them my new lacey ones).  

Albertina was at work.  The radio was blaring out Xhosa gospel music, she was singing along and at the same time giving our monthly gardener Michael a bit of lip (well it sounded like a bit of lip and the next thing he was sweeping down the lane under the washing line - usually her job).  She has her way with people our Albertina.

She also had a bit of a moan to me that all Nic's washing was in our washing basket.  Patricia her daughter works for Nic's commune on a Monday and clearly Nic's washing was part of Patricia's job and not hers.  "Jen, the washing machine at Albion Road, she broke again?" (questioning look over the top of her glasses).  "No Albertina they never bring the dry washing in so there is never place for him to hang out his washing", I reply meekly.  "Well they must make a plan, Nicstix has too much dirty stuff" (not impressed)

I am now ready to leave the house and head off to work laden with boxes and bags.

"OK bye Albertina, if I am not home please put on the alarm and leave at the same time as Michael (the gardener)"

Albertina following me into garage:-

"Oh Jen, I'm very very sorry for this....I was drying the glass and it cracked, in my hand, like this (demonstrating her large hand wrapped in a dish towel in the neck of the champagne glass) and now she is broke" 

Worldly goods, I suppose.  Albertina who I have trusted to care for my boys when they were young but not my new drinking glasses.  

I should have listened to Ellen, I should have just washed my own fancy glasses.

Jenny, Jenny, Jenny!!!

Monday, 3 December 2012

december fun...

So hard to believe that December is here.  The calendar is starting to fill, things are really busy and I am having to get diary printed out and keep updating it.

Yesterday I had fun pretending I was a stylist and arranging glasses and bottles of bubbles.  I even added bicarbonate of soda to wine to make it look like bubbles.  (I had no visitors so no excuse to open a bottle).
Don't you love my new champagne glasses?  Treated myself to two of them and thought I would buy one everytime I visited Woolworths (alas on my last visit they were all sold out).

December brings family reunions, birthday parties, office parties and best of all overseas visitors.  Cheryl, my fantastically funny and very special friend is coming to Cape Town from New Zealand with her now 21 year old son, Joshua.  Cheryl left SA about 13 or 14 years ago.  She has been back to visit but this is Joshua's first time back to Cape Town.  She has family here, birthday parties to attend and (lucky for me) will be spending some time with us as well.  We will have time to reminisce - she has the most amazing memory and remembers all the crazy things that we did together (that I have chosen to forget).  She has the ability to light up any occasion and I can't wait to see her and get to know Joshua again.  I was very honoured to be his first babysitter all those years ago when she attended a family wedding and he was only a week or two old.  A couple of months later I was again given the honour.  His hair was starting to fall out and as I fed him his bottle I started tugging (very gently) on his hair and collecting it in my saucer.  Cheryl and Ian came home to a totally bald baby, Cheryl just laughed and said the patchy look was bothering her but Ian looked mortified!!
Lovely lady
Daniel and Joshua (as I remember them).  Note Joshua's healthy 
head of hair

Then Hans is also arriving in Cape Town next week but only for a day or two.  We always have so much fun together and I think I will have to take him on a business trip into the winelands.  He has assured me that he is happy to help with wine deliveries.  We became firm friends just over a year ago when he and his wife Siobhan were in Cape Town for the "wedding of the year".  He helped lay tables, hang hearts, decorate the church and in between we managed to strike up a great friendship, which always includes some sightseeing, good food, lots of laughs (and plenty wine).

Hans and his daughter Madeleine
(hopefully it won't be too long before their whole family visit)

My brother-in-law Colin, his wife Jenny and their son's in-laws are also arriving from the USA for Christmas.  They will be spending most of their time in Hermanus but we will join them on their arrival for the usual calamari on the stoep at Chappies (one of the essentials of any of Colin's visits to Cape Town).  

(Thanks to Villa Afrique for picture)

Heidi sent me this picture today to ensure that I recognise her children.  Owen was a toddler the last time they visited.  Colin has been working hard at getting the family together and it promises to be a very festive time.

My niece Allie is arriving from one of those Arabic places, which name escapes me right now, but she has to wear a burka (burqa?).  She has two little girls and I will be meeting the youngest Ava, for the first time.

Allie would definitely not be wearing shoes like that

That's more like it!!
Besides all the holiday excitement the wine business is going well.  I spent Saturday at an Open Day in Constantia.  A hot day, the most stunning home and garden, lovely people, lots of chats, ice cold bubbles.  My first real sales experience and I am always so encouraged by how great people really are.  The Open Day was at Jane's home and Jane and her sister run an online business called Gift Gardens.  Take a look at their site.  She has those Consol solar powered lights which are just awesome for gifts (or for yourself).

Tomorrow I also have my first ever "interview" with an online magazine.  Watch this space.

There is also lots of wine to sell and orders are coming in steadily.   Please email me at winetimesa@gmail.com if you are not on my mailing list and want to see our wines and prices.