Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Last Day

Well, all I need to do is make it thru at least half a day's work and then stress a little more about whether I've packed everything I need, enjoy a last dinner with Varen and hop on my plane at some un-godly hour.

I do however have one last quick review ... I especially picked this book after The Apologist since I knew it would be a quick read and I could get it done before I left: George Saunder's The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.

Citizens waiting to enter the country of Inner Horner, a strange land that is only large enough for one resident at a time, fall prey to the tyrannical rule of the ambitious and power-hungry Phil, igniting an outbreak of injustice and mass hysteria, in an unusual novel by the author of Pastoralia. Original.

A quick and truly bizarre read. I'm guessing I didn't pick up all the political innuendos but it was otherwise fairly entertaining and definitely had some amusing bits! Not for you if you require realism ;) In my defence, I did only buy the book because of it's fantastic title!

For now, goodbye till my return ....

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Quick Review Before I Leave

Oh, and this weekend I finished reading Jay Rayner's The Apologist.

Marc Bassett has a reputation as a pitiless restaurant critic. When he writes a devastating review of a particular establishment, the chef commits suicide, roasting himself in his own fan-assisted oven, with Basset's review pasted to the door. Suddenly Basset is moved to do something he has never done before: apologize. After a series of virtuoso expressions of regret, word of Bassett's mollifying power spreads, and he is invited to become Chief Apologist for the United Nations. His job is to travel the globe in his own Gulfstream V private jet, apologizing for everything from colonialism to exploitation to slavery. It is a role that brings him fame, wealth and access to a lot of very good chocolate. But in a world overdosing on emotion, does Marc Basset really have the stomach to be the sorriest man in history? Built of delicate layers of heinous crime, forgiveness and outrageous gastronomy, Jay Rayner's glorious new novel is a piquant satire of modern appetite and etiquette.

I loved it. It is a very offbeat book, but I enjoyed the writing style, the story and the main character. I would definitely recommend it as an alternative to whatever you usually read :)

Sometimes it's Easier to Lie

Okay, this morning there is plenty to report back on ... It was a fairly busy weekend, although it started off in a very relaxed manor on Friday evening with some Mochacho's (used their Chicken Strips for home-made wraps, delish!) for dinner and some 4400 to entertain.

Saturday was a blur of more shopping and an attempt to purchase dollars. Okay, let me begin my rant on all forms of financial institutions here ...

Last weekend I attempted to collect my replacement Petrol card - these things expire. Now this in itself is a bone of contention for me. Why on earth do banks think I have any desire to go to one of their branches? I mean really, it always just turns into a black hole of time that you'll never get back. And does anyone ever leave a bank branch feeling better because they did what they came for. Well, lucky for you if you do, but I never have. So, in the days of internet banking and registered mail, I cannot understand why they would still be forcing you, their client, to bend to their whims and take half a day's leave (the only way a normal working person could possibly ever make it to a bank branch before closing time!!! Note: Bone of Contention Number 2) to go into a branch. So anyway, last weekend I had attempted to collect my card from my pathetic branch ... which it turns out closes at 11am on a Saturday morning ... for those of you who wake up late all week and like to get up in time for the sunrise on a weekend, this is for you. Because it certainly isn't for me, I got there at a perfectly reasonable time (or so I thought) of 11:30, to find it closed. Hell, even the sodding Post Office is open later than this. What the hell are you bank employees doing in there ... it's like they think they're school teachers or something and are making up for all the 6 week holidays one day at a time!

Anyhoo, so this sent me into a mild rage where I couldn't even speak for half the morning. Exactly where is our customer service, because I cannot think of a single person who these ridiculous banking hours might suit - except the employees themselves. Perhaps the branch I'm at is just too pathetic and I should move to another ... but guess what, to do that you actually have to go into a branch. I mean really?

So that was last weekend's experience that left me spending the week actually coming frightfully close to canceling the damn card and signing up with a competitor who would let me collect my card from my nearest Post Office as an alternative - which as I stated earlier, although they have equally ridiculous opening hours, are still open later than the banks on a Saturday. Again, this is more than likely just a pathetic instance of my useless branch ... since it is not in a giant mall like Sandton or Cresta.

This weekend was rage-inducing on a par. I needed to get my dollars, and of course this means I need to prove where I live thanks to the stupid FICA Act. FICA is, at best, useless in my mind. My banks all think I still live back in Cape Town, which is what I proved to them back when the Act first came out ... because that was where I lived. Even tho, I've now updated my postal address to Joburg. What really annoys me about this act is it is completely useless for someone who a) doesn't own property and b) uses a PO Box. I fall into this unfortunate category and struggle desperately to prove where I live.

On Saturday I did my best. I had Loulou sign a letter vouching for me and got her to give me a copy of something proving she lived there and then toddled off to the Foreign Exchange mistakenly thinking I was prepared. Oh no, they wanted a copy of Loulou's ID. Hello, what, do you think I'm faking it? I made up a person and got a Vodacom contract in their name so I could prove I lived somewhere I didn't. After raising my voice more than a notch at the incompetent cashier, I promptly left, livid. Fine then, screw the government. Turns out it's easier to lie about where you live than tell the truth, I was left with a number of false options available to me ... a) I still had proof on my tax return of my residency at Bean's place; b) I could probably prove I lived at the place we own together (although neither of us has ever lived there) or c) I could prove I still lived in Cape Town (let's see them try to prove that I don't!). Anyway, option a proved simplest since my Tax Return had just arrived in the post :) Needless to say they accepted this without batting an eyelid. See if I bother to make the effort of trying to be honest next time, it just ruins my mood. And I plan to do the same when they deliver my petrol card to me at the office tomorrow (at a grand expense to me of R110 - an insignificant price to pay for not having that vein bulging in my forehead again!)

Oooh, I've just remembered, before the foreign exchange debacle Varen & I had breakfast at Capello's in Sandton (no web prescence ... unimpressive for such a widely spread chain). I first discovered Capello's in Hyde Park and then one popped up in Jhb City Centre and apparently in Newtown. I've been to one in Bedfordview with Varen before as well. The quality varies in my experience. The Sandton one was impressive, if only because they have these awesome gadgets on the table: a Service Indicator. They have buttons for Menu, Service and Bill. When you press a button your table number and selection show up on a red LED board at the back of the restaurant. We didn't really get to use the fun toy, but I can certainly think of a few other restaurants around that would benefit from this sort of thing!

Erm, the rest of Saturday is a blur of shopping. The evening wasn't any more spectacular that Friday. Dinner and more 4400. I was pooped after all the inter-mall driving! Oh, but we did briefly stop to check out the C2 ... when I get back I'll be test driving a bunch of cars and hopefully finally buying myself a new one :)

Sunday we zoomed off on the bike for lunch with JofH & YogaCherryl at Irene Dairy Farm. It was a nice day out and lovely to see them :) The buffet was average, but I love the relaxed environment - probably better for folks with kiddies tho. And the deli is always good. The rest of the afternoon we spent relaxing and enjoying our last few real hours together before my trip. And we finish Season 3 of The 4400.

I'm getting nervous for my trip ... you know the "have I forgotten anything" feeling. And Varen's spent so much time worrying about my safety, I think it's rubbing off. But I am looking forward to the break and my fingers are tightly crossed that I'll see everything I'm hoping to (the migration & the gorillas).

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Wash-Out

Last night was supposed to be the kick-off of our corporate Action Cricket season. Unfortunately the team we were playing against failed to scrounge up sufficient players and our game was forfeited by them. Nice to have one "win" under our belts before the first ball has been bowled ;)

So I went along anyway to watch our 2nd IT take a beating. Last year our team managed to win the tournament whereas our 2nd team managed to come stone last. Which makes for some amusing competition between the teams who are made up pretty randomly from the people we work with - although we've tried to keep players who participated last year in the same teams as before.

Varen came along to watch too since he knows everyone and was an avid player last year.

After the cricket and a few drinks with the work folk, the two of us headed off for sushi at Sakura. Much needed before my trip ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reading and Relaxing

Last night was good, nice and quiet. Decided to skip yoga and spend my afternoon relaxing, since I'm not expecting to get much relaxing done on my trip - what with the climbing up mountains to catch a glimpse of the Gorilla's in their natural habitat.

So I lazed at home with my book until Varen popped round after work and then we headed off to dinner at Cranks. I haven't been there in ages and it seemed more appropriate to go to an old fav before I'm headed out of the country than trying somewhere new. But make no mistake my list of "Restaurants to Try" is growing and we will be having a serious bash at it on my return.

And then it was home for a lovely relaxing bath and some more quality time with my book ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Night at Book Club

Yesterday I went and did a little more shopping for my trip - you know, the boring (but necessary in case) stuff like water-purifying tablets, anti-septic cream, plasters and wet-wipes (and essential for African travel!). It is getting expensive with all these little things that I may or may not end up using, and I still haven't bought my dollars yet!

And then it was Book Club time. Unfortunately I couldn't take very many books this month because I'm still busy with The Apologist (not having had much time to read lately since I've been watching so many movies and seeing so much of Varen) and then I'll be off on my trip ... I'm a little nervous to be hauling Book Club books off to Africa with me. Luckily I have 6+ books that I've bought myself over the last few months (I know, shocking and unnecessary but I just couldn't resist!) that I need to get reading, so I'll be taking one or two of those :)

Oh, and my arm still feels a little sensitive after that jab yesterday - it was fine until the afternoon, maybe I wasn't moving around enough to notice ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In Other News

I find myself completely addicted to the new Strawberry Fanta! This comes not long after my still-current addiction to Bonaqua Strawberry Water. Hmmm, I'm noticing a trend :)

Poked and Prodded

Last night was fairly quiet. I went to Yoga and then Varen came over and I made my "signature" dish for dinner. I call it Mexican Chicken, but I doubt it's whatever you're thinking of. Without giving too much away, it involves crumbed chicken breasts, a spicy peppadew-kidney bean topping and plenty of guacamole (although plain avo will suffice in a pinch).

And then we spent the evening watching Season 3 of The 4400.

This morning I had to zip off to the Netcare Travel Clinic to spend a fortune on my Malaria tablets, a replacement Yellow Fever Card and a Tetanus-Polio vaccination.

And that is about as exciting as my day has gotten. Must still buy my forex ... it's gonna cost me a fortune :( I find I'm having to mentally prepare myself for this kind of pre-emptive expense, because hopefully I won't spend it all. Perhaps I could just pay off some small country's foreign debt instead? Okay, mebbe not, but I've never denied that I'm prone to exaggeration ;)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Even More Movie Madness

This weekend was fairly busy. Friday night Varen & I were supposed to go to Pianogirl's concert but Varen had a splitting headache, which is not (as you can imagine) conducive to sitting thru any sort of musical event so instead he came over and we watched dvd's with Loulou.

We started with Saw 3.

Saw 3 focuses on the again resurfaced Jigsaw Killer, the antagonist of the previous films, who is working with his unstable apprentice Amanda to finish the final tests he had prepared and planned before he dies. The film also contains additional backstory information on the two antagonists.

I still think the original Saw is the best in the series. I didn't think Saw 2 was all that and although I do love the twists of these movies, they are getting just a bit to horrific for me! Either way, it was definitely worth watching if you've enjoy the rest of the series.

Then we moved onto something lighter, Zach Braff in Fast Track.

Tom Reilly is a bit of an underachiever when it comes to his career (or lack thereof), but his adoring wife Sofia, a formidable lawyer, has always been happy to act as the breadwinner. With the birth of their first child, Sofia decides she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, so Tom needs to step up and take care of his growing family. Unfortunately he gets fired from his job in New York City and is forced to start working with his father-in-law in Sofia's hometown of Ohio. Tom soon clashes with his work colleagues, especially the outrageous Chip, who still carries a torch for Sofia from their high school days, and Sofia becomes increasingly uncomfortable staying home with their new baby. In doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons, the couple needs to get back to what they're good at, before their model family goes completely off track.

This was okay for light entertainment, although I think trying to follow on the lines of Meet The Parents and such. Either way, a good, mindless follow up that ensured I could sleep after Saw 3 ;)

Saturday was a busy, busy, expensive day. I meant to go and sort out all the last little things for my upcoming trip (barely over a week till I'm off now!) but I hadn't done enough preparation on Friday so was left scrambling for whatever I thought might be useful and unable to buy my forex - must get to that this week! Dragged Varen around the shopping centres till 4:30pm by which time even my takkie-clad (sneaker to those not in SA) feet were exhausted. Then we went home and lazed for the rest of the evening with some delish Sfigati pizza and the rest of Season 2 of The 4400.

Sunday was another blur of shopping ... well not exactly. We headed to Rosebank for 2 more movies (gotta get them seen before I head off on my trip!!) and a quick whisk round the rooftop market, which Varen had never been to before.

We ended up buying ourselves a Hookah Pipe. I love them and unfortunately Bean took the one we'd bought in Egypt in the break-up ... And Varen has been wanting one for a while too :) And then it was off to see Transformers.

Their war. Our world.
The Earth is caught in the middle of an intergalactic war between two races of robots, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, which are able to change into a variety of objects, including cars, trucks, planes and other technological creations.

It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, you'll notice from the movie choice of the day, Varen got to pick one and I got to pick one ;) Anyway, the story has been put together better than some of the other movies in this genre and the effects were good. Although, unlike Koet, I wouldn't be aching to see it a second time (hell, I'd probably skip it if it was showing on Mnet). Either way, it wasn't too much of an overly "boy" movie so that at least was good :)

After that it was time for a quick bite and then off to my movie pick, Pan's Labyrinth.

Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine.
In this fairy tale, a small family in Spain moves into an old house in 1943 after the rise of Fascism. Their eldest daughter, at age 12, falls in love with a fawn that lives in the old ruined labyrinth which resides behind their new decrepit home.

Not at all what I was expecting from the movie poster of the previews. And I must admit Varen put up far less of a fuss that I expected when he realised there were subtitles ;) I thought it would be a far more fantastical story, but it was good none the less. And admittedly there were some moments that had me hiding behind my hand (not unlike Saw 3).

After that it was off home with enough time to break-in the Hookah Pipe before bed :)

It was a good weekend, although my feet are still aching from the amount of walking we did. I think it's going to be a bit of a crazy week too, what with finalising everything I still need for my trip!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Movie Madness

Last night I skipped Yoga (again!) to do a double feature at the movies with Varen.

First we saw Zodiac.

There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer.
Based on the actual case files of one of the most intriguing unsolved crimes in the nation's history, Zodiac is a thriller from David Fincher, director of Seven and Fight Club. As a serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters, investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

Now this movie has a star-studded cast (Hello, Jake Gyllenhaal!) and looked pretty awesome from the trailers. I wish I'd read the write up more closely tho because that "
Based on the actual case files" should've been a dead giveaway! It was a lengthy story and unfortunately started to slow down towards the end ... and you just know since it's a true story there are no hollywood twists that you never saw coming ;) So, unfortunately, it scores a "not that impressive". And I'd also like to ask ... when will Robert Downey Jr be going back to those sexy cocky roles we love him in? Considering this and Fur were the last two movies I saw him in, his sex-appeal rating is falling rapidly!

Then we headed to the newest Harry Potter on-screen offering (the latest literary offering will be released tonight at the witching hour!)

The rebellion begins.
Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strength in his friends, beyond what even he knew; boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice.

I was mildly disappointed with this ... although as a rule I do love the Harry Potter series, but I by far prefer the books! I think the real problem with the latest (and upcoming) movies is that the books are getting longer and more involved every time. Which means the movies are leaving more and more out ... which is fine, I guess, if you haven't bothered to sit down with the books at all. So although it lived up to it's Harry Potter wonder-y, it didn't fulfill all my expectations (though nothing can miss the spot quite like the Jurassic Park sequels!).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Much Better

I am feeling a million times better this morning :) It may be something to do with my 9:30 bedtime, but probably more to do with the fabulous massage I had yesterday afternoon.

Remember way back when I was a Thai Massage Guinea Pig for Lady. Well, the woman who was training them (Lime was doing the course too) ended up joining our book club. We'll call her Jeanius. Jeanius does all sorts of massage and I've been desperately needing one. So I booked an appointment.

It was fabulous and I can highly recommend it. For recommendation purposes I will tell you that in real life she trades as Jean Moore and is based in Melville. You can contact her on bodyworx at telkom sa dot net for completely amazing massage, without the "happy ending" .... unless you count relaxed muscles and pain relief ;) And as I said before, she offers all sorts of massage training courses too.

After that, I went home and caught up on 24 and How I Met Your Mother with a very healthy dinner of popcorn and a tub of my favourite yogurt :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Too Tired to Type

I'm really not in the mood for writing right now. Mostly I feel like I don't have time to do anything. I'm not getting enough sleep, because really, who can get to bed by 10pm in the evenings? And I'm waking up at 6am to be at work by 7am. Last night I started my stand-by rotation again so am thoroughly exhausted. This coupled with the fact that Varen hosted Tuesday night dinner last night. Which means we were up till fairly late and drank a fair amount of red wine - none of which helps my sleeping patterns.

The evening was good, we made Mexican mince and then filled tortillas. The food turned out well :) The company was nice, everyone except Hammi was there. I'm getting used to this lot and they're a pretty good bunch of people generally and definitely a very interesting mix!

Anyway, on the plus side I didn't dream last night. Generally I am not a "dreamy" sort of person, what I mean is that usually I don't remember any of my dreams. For the last few nights (except last night) I have been having and remembering my dreams. It's a rather bizarre state of events. Especially because dreams are generally most peculiar in nature and make little or no sense.

Righto ... well back to work. Which is also exhausting these days. I appear to be working harder than before and although I'm generally enjoying it, it adds to my general state of exhaustion. I guess it's a good thing I have a holiday coming up soon ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Plaas Meisie

So, it's been a while and I have a lot of catching up to do this morning.

The weekend was spent on Varen's family farm in the Free State and although freezing, it was a lovely break. And the last one I'll be getting before The Trip so I'm glad it was relaxing! We drove thru a little later than hoped on Friday evening and arrived just before 8pm. Not too bad but still dark and getting awfully chilly in the Free State. We spent the evening in front of the fire watching Eddy Izzard.

Saturday was a fairly lazy morning ... although we were awake early, we dozed and read our books before emerging for breakfast. Then we wandered off to visit the sheep who've started having their little lambs. They were so cute :) Although sadly the one I was all excited to feed as it had been abandoned by it's mother had died before we arrived :( And then more sadly we found there were 2 more dead lambs - one had drowned in the water trough and another had got separated from it's mother during the night and died from the cold. Not a good start ... but there was a new little addition who was so adorable to watch as he didn't quite seem to have complete control over his legs just yet :) I could've watched them for hours. And listened to then calling to each other ... they really do all have different voices.

Around midday we popped thru to Senekal for a quick shop of last minute items and would you believe, I found the yogurt I have been scouring Joburg for there in abundance. I bought 4 tubs just to be safe :)

We spent the afternoon relaxing and started watching The 4400. By the end of the weekend we were half way thru the second season and I'm definitely enjoying it so far :)

Sunday was another relaxing morning with a breakfast of restaurant proportions: Omlettes with green pepper, salami, tomato and cheese and then strawberries on the side. We spent a little more time watching the sheep and then took the quad bike out for a spin around the farm to see the buck - shoo, they've grown since last time! And then we decided to venture out and down the dusty country road for variety. Unfortunately we only barely made it back to the farm on the fuel fumes. But we did make it back, which it the part that counts!

And then it was time to head home. We ended the weekend at Sakura for some sushi.

Yesterday I spent the entire day off-site in a day-long meeting. Exhausting. Yesterday evening was the typical Mondayness: Yoga and a quiet night at home with Jack Bauer.

> Will post some pics as soon as Varen is awake and can send 'em to me :) As you can see ... my pic has arrived!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Nothing very exciting to report back ... went to yoga, was exhausted after, made dinner and watched some series.

Sheesh, that's a lot of hours combined into a one-liner! Anyway, this won't be very long (aside from the fact that I can sum up my night in a sentence) because today has turned into a very hectic day at wor kand I am only expecting to have my next breathing moment at around 11am! But then Varen & I are off to his (freezing) Free State farm for the weekend, so at least it won't be a long day :) Can't wait to do some serious relaxing in front of the fire with my books. Oh, and they have a whole lot of lambs that have been / are being born ... can't wait to see them - there's even one we can feed who was sadly (for it, not me) rejected by it's mom, yay!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Ring

Varen & I had a fabulous celebratory dinner with JofH & YogaCherryl last night. Finally saw the ring in real life and it is lovely :) Although not your conventional engagement ring, I prefer it to every other engagement ring I can think of - although I'm not sure if I would chose it for myself ... just to ward off any possible future Mr Phillygirl's from rushing out to buy something ;)

People think it's strange, that as a girl I haven't put any thought into my dream engagement ring or wedding (although I may have been picking children's names since I was 12!). I guess it's the skeptical realist in me, I don't want to think about that stuff until I'm given a reason. And surely part of the dream is the man you'll be standing next to? I'm not a believer in painting the picture with a place-holder for whoever it may end up being one day.

Anyway, dinner .... we went to Soulsa because it is a firm favourite of all 4 of us and ideal for celebratory dinners :) We had a truly hysterical night discussing their future accident-prone son, Snorkel - pahahahahahaha, the memory of that conversation has me in tears again! Was fab to see them again :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Vast Improvement

Last night turned out far better than expected :) I made it to Yoga (which wasn't canceled by the Exercise God, who hates me). And in a mad rush showered, packed and headed the million miles to Varen's place (via Bloem, or so it seemed - but it was all in an attempt to bypass the crazy Jhb evening traffic, which I did ... so it was worth every extra km).

Then after a brief breather in my semi-comatose state (exhaustion from yoga) we headed off for another Tuesday dinner with the insta-group. I'm happy to say that this was a vast improvement on last week :) Perhaps it was because it wasn't the same onslaught of new people for me ... plus they'd already had a week to decide what they thought of me. Maybe it was just us all crammed into a smaller room that meant the conversation flowed far more easily, and there were some really interesting ones - let's just agree to disagree on Homeopathy vs. Western Medicine ;)

Oh, and the food was amazingly impressive. I must admit I was a little skeptical since we were promised fish but it turned out really well (especially since it was the first time the recipe had even been attempted by the chef!). The sisters had been trout fishing over the weekend and brought back some delightful specimens that they proceeded to bake and smoke for dinner.

So as you can see, I had a much better evening than I did with them last week :) And tonight we're seeing JofH & YogaCherryl for dinner and to ogle the ring!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where's My Dairybelle?

So yesterday evening was lovely and relaxing. Finished work at 3:30 and scooted off to yoga ... which I didn't know had been canceled. The canceled it to honour the memory of Bikram's guru Bishnu Charan Ghosh. A heap of rubbish if you ask me, since I'm not really into all the yoga spiritual gumf ... I'm just there to exercise.

Anyway, so this left me with a lovely free afternoon and not much planned! I went home and settled in for an early dinner (yummy tomato soup with cheese sticks!) and some dedicated time to spend watching series. I started on 24 Season 6 and How I Met Your Mother Season 2.

This after finally giving up in my search for anywhere that actually stocks my newly discovered favourite yogurt: Dairybelle's Bliss Black Forest. I have been desperately searching for anyone (Spar, Pick 'n Pay) who might actually have stock of this ... no one does. It has been a very disappointing few weeks. But, now I have calmly given up. Even Dairybelle's website doesn't say why no one has stock.

Anyway, that's just a minor aside that has been bugging me for a few weeks now ... anyone who finds this yogurt should buy at least 3 extra tubs and send them on to me, please :)

Last night I finished reading Sabine Dardenne's I Choose To Live.

'I lived through the Dutroux affair from the inside, and all these years I have kept silent about it - about my 'personal' Dutroux Affair, my time in the company of the most hated psychopath in Belgium. I need to write this book for three reasons: so that people stop giving me strange looks and treating me like a curiosity; so that no one ever asks me any more questions ever again; and so that the judicial system never again frees a paedophile for 'good behaviour'.' 'The Dutroux Affair' shook the whole of Europe. In the middle of the immense machinery of investigation and justice there was Sabine Dardenne herself, Dutroux's last victim. She was held captive for eighty days - and survived. Far from sensationalising the horror, her story, dignified and restrained, is ultimately uplifting. Says Sabine Dardenne, 'I choose to live'.

Quite a hectic story, although one without any gruesome details. She is a strong woman who has lived and survived a truly frightening experience. I scares me that there are people like Dutroux out there in the world. More scary is that he had a wife who knew all about what he was doing to these poor girls, yet she still had his children. How messed up is that? Anyway, since I am a fan of these sorts of themes in my fictional books, it was good to read a true account.

Monday, July 09, 2007

One Marvelous Month

So, it was an extremely busy weekend - although I did have 2 surprisingly early nights, but that was purely because I passed out, it was not planned that way. I think the exhaustion of my new early morning arrangement along with having been on standby and a couple of too late nights last week were the culprit.

Anyway, Friday night was nice and relaxing. Varen cooked me dinner (3 courses even ... although he didn't make the dessert himself) and it was lovely - for now I'll keep him ;) And then we watched his new Eddy Izzard 6-pack dvd, which was brilliant! Even so, no matter how brilliant, there I was asleep on the couch by 11pm.

Saturday morning was mostly filled with admin type stuff, as usual. And then in the afternoon we headed out to a little place in Harties called Olive Grove. We'd booked a night away in their River Bungalow since Sunday was officially our One Month ... and, well, after all the ups and downs it seemed worth celebrating :)

The place was absolutely lovely :) I would love to go back there. We were in a quaint little bungalow connected to a separate bathroom where the shower had shutters to open and look out into the wilderness. We were close to the Magalies river and could see it thru the tangle of trees. On arrival there was even a bottle of champagne chilling. We relaxed for most of the afternoon, reading our books and watching some House ... even snoozing a little ;) At about 6pm we got up and ready and then Varen built us a bonfire (admittedly it had already been prepped for us) where we sat reading some more enjoying the champagne. We were then brought strawberries - such lovely little touches :) And news on our dinner: The place they'd tried booking for us was full so we were booked elsewhere.

We ended up at the Silver Orange Bistro. Which was lovely (although a little overpriced with the wines!). And we did a little celebrity gazing because Mad Mike (from Animal Planet's Mad Mike and Mark) was dining there too.

In other even more exciting news, JofH and YogaCherryl got engaged on Saturday evening, it was her birthday and he took her away to Clarens for the weekend (after many a recommendation from Varen & myself). An ideal date 07 07 07 ;) So congrats to both of them, I am thrilled for you both and cannot wait to see the gorgeous ring in real life (having been privy to the choosing upfront).

Sunday morning was fabulously relaxed, it's marvelous when you don't have a check-out time! Breakfast wasn't your ordinary affair, it was all stocked in the room before we arrived and we ate as we wanted (yogurt, cereal, muffins etc.). We stayed in bed and finished watching House Season 3. The we emerged to use up all the hot water in our shower with the shutters open :) If the hot water had lasted longer it would've been perfect. As it was, it was still spectacular!

After that we headed to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve for the afternoon :) It wasn't as impressive as other Game Reserves I've been to, perhaps only because their restaurant etc. was under construction and currently under tents and very unorganised. We had some good game spotting of 5 Giraffe's and their salt-lick and more rhinos than I'm used to seeing.

Once back in civilisation, we decided to end the weekend off with a little mindless entertainment so headed off to watch Die Hard 4.0.

An attack on the vulnerable United States computer infrastructure begins to shut down the entire nation. The mysterious figure behind the shattering scheme has figured out every digital angle – but he never figured an old-fashioned, "analog" fly-in-the-ointment: John McClane.

I enjoyed it ... just not as much as my favourite in the series, the third one. Bruce hasn't lost it and it didn't have all the twists I was expecting, but it was still a good action flick ;)

And that was the weekend. Here I am at work expecting a week as busy as the last one. Got a new recruit starting today, so I figure that'll take up a fair amount of my time ... unfortunately on top of that, the work just doesn't stop either. Here's hoping I get some sleep this weekend so I don't end up passing out all weekend again!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cold, Wet and Bleary-Eyed

So, this is not a good mood day. Yesterday Varen & I ended up in an argument before he left work. After which I had no way of getting in touch with me since I had his cell phone and wallet (he'd left them in my bag after the movie).

Then he arrived at my house in the evening and I wasn't quite sure if he was just there to collect his things or if we were still off to dinner with Hammi & Zej as planned. It's tough when you're both stubborn and waiting for the other to let it go or make things normal again ... it leads to lengthy periods of silence where we both truly believe we are "fine" and it's the other one who is holding onto the issues. Such trivial stuff.

We ended up at Zej's and effectively gate-crashed his dad's birthday - since we had no way of getting hold of them with Varen's now dead cellphone except showing up at Zej's house and hoping they were around :) Then we headed off to Ghazal's. Which was full - seriously, on a Thursday ... I guess everyone has discovered the wonder of Ghazal's Indian Cuisine ;) So we popped in to the little pub around the corner (I forget the name) for a drink. Eventually we got a table back at Ghazal's around 9pm (this does not bode well for my current early morning). Dinner was generally fabulous ... made more so by the fact that I haven't had Ghazal's in absolute ages! And even after it's dubious start, it turned out to be a nice evening :)

Unfortunately Varen & I ended up in another war of misunderstanding and misinterpretation on the way back to his place which meant the evening got later as we ironed things out and apologised. So needless I did not get all that much sleep before the 6am alarm clock (I'm on standby too so there were those delightful mid-night phone calls to contend with as well).

And to top things off, this morning the hot water ran out mere seconds after I stepped into the shower. Hence the lack of smile at this early hour in the freezing cold of Joburg :P Blegh, it's a Friday so I sure hope things improve!

In exciting weekend news, Varen & I are off again on Saturday evening to celebrate an official one-month since he delivered the hard-drive that got this all started again :) Should be fabulous ... assuming my mood lifts!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Surprisng Sweetness

So I skipped Yoga yesterday afternoon ... wasn't in the mood for a fourth consecutive day, I am not that motivated. But I think I'll try going on Friday again :) So I went shopping with my newly free afternoon time, bad idea. Well, I got plenty done. I got my travel insurance and new fancy shampoo ... and then I saw Exclusive Books was having a sale (here's where things turn). Naturally I bought two books, at least it was under a hundred bucks tho. But still, it pushes my un-read book total up to six (not including book club books!). I really must stop buying!

And then there was more general shopping at Woolies & PnP. But still, it adds up. Varen came over a little later and I whipped up some dinner and then we headed off to see Shrek 3.

In a brief aside, I have the best boyf ever ... We'd originally planned to go to the 7:45 Nu Metro show. Since, I always go to Nu Metro because I cannot justify spending R40 a ticket on a movie ?!? But, Varen was running late. Without any prompting whatsoever, he called Ster Kinekor and found a 8:15pm show nearby. Just because he was going to be late! Now I don't know about you, but I have never had a boy do something like that before. It would always just be a case of sorry I'm late (if they noticed!) and we'll go another time. Not this boy :) So sweet, I must admit I was thoroughly impressed. So, on with the movie review:

Who’s ready for thirds? Being king isn't for everyone – especially if you're an ornery ogre who smells like the shallow end of a swamp. When Shrek married Fiona, the last thing he wanted was to rule Far Far Away, but when his father-in-law, King Harold, suddenly croaks, Shrek is quickly fitted for the crown. Now, unless the reluctant would-be king can find a suitable replacement, he'll be royally screwed for the rest of his days. As if Shrek didn't have enough on his plate, Princess Fiona has another little surprise on the way. Reeling from the duties of running a kingdom and impending fatherhood, Shrek sets off on a quest to find the only other possible heir to the throne, Fiona's long-lost cousin Artie, a medieval high school outcast. While the ogre is away, his old nemesis Prince Charming rears his handsome head and returns to the kingdom of Far Far Away with redemption on his shallow little mind. Even with Donkey and the ever-so-suave Puss In Boots by their side, it's going to take an ogre-sized effort – and a whole lot of help from Fiona and her band of princesses – for Shrek and Artie to save the day and find their own "Happily Ever Afters."

It was okay. Not nearly as good as the first two tho, which was a little disappointing because I had high hopes for it. My favourites were the baby Dragon-Donkey's ... too cute!

I also owe you another review. This week I finished reading (finally, since I'm just not finding the time anymore) Air Babylon by Imogen Edward-Jones.

Heard the one about the airline that has introduced 'corpse cupboards' on new planes to cope with the number of people who die in the air? Heard the story about the First Class air hostess who got fired for sitting on the face of a passenger during a long haul flight? Heard about the amount of knickers and false teeth that are left behind in the body of the plane? Heard how pissed-off stewards put laxatives in your drinks? Heard about the pilot who ran out of runway? Heard of the disabled passengers who miraculously walk again? No? Then you haven't read Air Babylon. Do you know the best place to have sex on a plane? Do you know how to dress for an upgrade? Do you know that one drink in the air equals three on the ground? Do you know who is checking you in? Who is checking you out? Do you know exactly what happens to your luggage once it leaves your sight? Is it secure? Are you safe? Do you really know anything about the business that you entrust your life to several times a year? Air Babylon is a trawl through the highs, the lows, and the rapid descents of the travel industry.;It catalogues the births, the deaths, the drunken brawls, the sexual antics, and the debauchery behind the scenes of the ultimate service industry - where the world is divided into those who wear the uniform and those who don't...

I quite enjoyed this book, although it does make me a touch more nervous when I think about flying next time around ... now knowing what's most likely going on behind the scenes! Definitely entertaining!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Welcome To The Gang

So I was in early again this morning ... exhausting stuff. But it definitely makes for a better day. I managed to get out of here just before 3:30pm and get to the 4pm Yoga class. Then I was ready for the evening by 6pm. Nice.

Had a minor crisis yesterday after someone at work pointed out that the license disk on my car was horribly out of date (expired back on the 31 October last year). Oops. So after I checked it myself, I flew into panic stations ... and naturally handled it like all these sorts of situations, I phoned my Daddy.Thankfully after many phone calls home and plenty of confusion around where it could be (turns out mom could prove she paid for it), I found it still in it's registered envelope. Shoo.

Mostly the focus of last night was finally meeting the rest of Varen's insta-group. And now I do sort of have to be sensitive about what I write here ... I gather one or two of them read this and I have only just met them.

The evening was nice enough as first introductions go, I must admit that it's been a long time since I was the only one in a group of people who didn't know anyone else there ... okay, so that's not entirely true, I did know Varen & Nambi (I think that's what he's calling her?). Anyway, it was at Piano-girl & Vori's (now where does that nickname come from??) place and dinner itself was a sort of comical affair, let me explain: Piano-girl called Varen earlier in the day to ask if there was anything I didn't eat (good start, very considerate!). To which he replied "Mushrooms" ... well, because I don't - I don't eat gray food, I know, I'm weird but that's the way it is. Which pretty much ruined her plan of Mushroom Risotto. So when we arrived later, slightly earlier than the rest, she said "I hope you eat asparagus". At which point I sneakily hid behind Varen ... well, because I don't. She'd opted for Asparagus & Bacon Risotto instead. Pretty amusing and my plain Bacon Risotto turned out just fine :) But it certainly provided an amusing start to the evening!

Other than that, I didn't really speak to too many of the bunch. It's kinda hard to break into a circle of people who have known each other for so long ... especially while I was trying to suss them out myself ;)

So not a terrible evening by all accounts, but still it was a little off-kilter for obvious reasons ... certainly not the same sort of comfort levels as when I hang out with Lady&Bug or JofH & YogaCherryl for example ;) But that's how it is with new people ... and it is definitely sort of nice to be meeting new Jhb people since, really, I know so few of them after spending most of my time in Jhb with Bean and his bunch, and we were all pretty much from Cape Town originally.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Catching Worms

So I'm in here at a previously thought un-godly hour. I have made a deal with my manager ... if I can manage to get in to work at 7am (and hour and a half earlier than my usual arrival time), I can leave at 3:30 in the afternoon. This sounds like a fabulous arrangement to me (it is only day one after all) because it is all in aid of me getting to the 4pm yoga class instead of the 6pm one. This in turn will allow for me to actually have some semblance of life during the week. Currently life only begins at 8pm in the evenings and this is fairly late to start with things like dinner (hence the appeal of Woolies heat-up meals ;) ) or going out. With my new plan, I figure I can get done with yoga and showered/bathed and it'll still only be 6pm .... plenty of time to go shopping or whatever else might need doing (movies / dinner out etc.)

Which is why last night was not terribly exciting. I went to yoga, made some dinner (spinach & ricotta pasta) and watched a little of Grey's ... not as much as usual since I had an impending early morning - that was definitely the hardest part, switching off and not watching just one more episode!

Just had an sms from Varen who was supposed to be up just as early as me for his gym routine ... he just woke up :) He fell into the "just one more episode" trap and only ended up going to bed at 1am ... silly boy :)

So that is my news ... and now it's on to the real work stuff :P

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sheesh, It's Been a While

So, I have a lot of catching up to do. The first week of that Leadership training left me plenty of evening time to keep up with my blogging ... not so much this time around. They upped our evening activities after a group that was on course a couple of weeks back ended up skinny dipping in the pool - or so the rumour goes ...

Now, where did I leave off ... Oh right. On Wednesday evening I escaped the confines of our hotel confinement and had dinner with Varen at Lekgotla in Sandton.

It was nice to be away from buffet food, but it wasn't exceptional. It's kind of the same thing Moyo is trying to do. I like Moyo better. But I don't think their food is spectacular either ... I like their vibe for sundowners rather :)

And then it was Thursday. I found the second week of the course far more hectic and a lot more soul-destorying, as in: OMG I will never be able to do this, maybe I need a new career! Luckily we had a fabulous speaker, Amon Jack. I think he must be fabulous as a Personal Life Coach because he certainly impressed me after just one day.

On Thursday evening we had our Last Dinner. We had a separate section of the dinning room and played our music, handed out awards and generally had a good time ... which deteriorated to the bar. It still wasn't an exceptionally late night, the course itself was exhausting.

And finally it was Friday :) By this stage, as much as I had bonded with some of my fellow attendees, there were others that I was sincerely looking forward to seeing the back of! It seems funny, but you forget how much you appreciate being around people who already know you, accept you and like you. The day was a blur of exhaustion and ended with our graduation ceremony.

Varen came to fetch me and whisked me away for a relaxing night of take-out pizza and dvds and lots of hugs :) It was just what I needed! Although I must comment that we tried the Il Capo's pizza in the East and it was not quite up to the standards of the one in the West.

Due to the lack of elec (thanks Eskom) at his place, we ended up at his folks place watching our dvds: Fur (my choice) and Open Season (his) - don't ask, I know it appears we have vastly differing movie tasts, but usually we don't ... finding dvd's neither of us has watched is a truly tricky task tho!

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (also known simply as Fur) is a 2006 film starring Nicole Kidman as iconic American photographer Diane Arbus, who was known for her strange, disturbing images. She committed suicide in 1971.

Fur was interesting, but unfortunately for my current state of mind (I was drained from a long week), a little slow and unfortunately had far too little of Robert Downey Jr for my liking ;) Otherwise it's an interesting arty movie - definitely not mainstream but interesting none the less. I'm certainly interested to find out more about Diane Arbus and her photographs after watching this.

Boog (voiced by Martin Lawrence), a happily domesticated grizzly bear, has his perfect world turned upside down after he meets Elliot (voiced by Ashton Kutcher), a scrawny, fast-talking wild mule deer.

Okay, I must admit this movie didn't interest me in the least and thankfully we watched it second as I fell asleep half way thru. It is your typical kiddie animated movie. Generally I'm not a huge animation fan, there are a couple I really liked (The Incredibles, Nemo) but more that I just didn't (Toy Story, Cars, Open Season).

Saturday was a bit of a crazy day with plenty of driving and admin type stuff but, Varen & I did head to movies to watch Shrek 3 ... well, that was what we intended till we got there and saw the queues almost exclusively of tiny screaming people and their parents. Shrek was out in order to keep me sane - we'll try again soon, but definitely after their bedtime! So we saw Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer instead.

The Fantastic Four are back in this sequel to the 2005 blockbuster. The superhero team includes: Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic, who can elongate his body; Susan Storm / Invisible Woman, who not only can become invisible at will but can render other objects invisible; Johnny Storm / Human Torch, who can shoot fire from his finger tips and bend flame; and Ben Grimm / The Thing, a hideously misshapen monster with superhuman strength.

It was okay. The first one was better. It falls into that category of Spiderman 3 ... pretty dull after you've seen the rest. It wasn't exceptional but enough mindless entertainment to keep us happy. I still would've rather seen Shrek 3 :)

We had a quiet Saturday evening at home watching some House snuggled on the couch and again I fell asleep, this time in the third of fourth episode. It really was an exhausting week!

Sunday we had a lazy morning and had a much needed late sleep-in. Then we went house-hunting. Varen has decided he needs to find a new place. At the moment he's in a fairly complicated living situation with his folks living in his brother's place while their house gets built and him living with his brothers in another temporary situation while his own apartment gets completed. But his apartment was bought when he still worked here with me, and now that he doesn't ... it makes his morning drive frightening, so he figured he'd start looking for somewhere more viable.

Anyway, that was quite an exhausting process ... house hunting always seems like an insurmountable task on the first attempt! After that we went our separate ways to gym & yoga. I really felt I needed it after the week of buffet food :P

And after that exhausting work-out we headed to Sakura for some much needed sushi! I was having withdrawal :) And we ended the evening off with another few episodes of House ... very relaxing :) And now here I am back at work struggling to catch-up after a week away ... which is the reason for this very late post ;) Here's looking forward to a more relaxed week ahead - finger's crossed! Although apparently the time has come to meet Varen's inst-group of friends for real at dinner tomorrow night ... yikes!

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