Friday, May 30, 2008

Eep, Here Comes Linux

Righto, so I know this post is pretty late ... but I've had a busy morning so far. I took the plunge and decided to load Linux onto my work machine - no, no, don't worry I still have WIndow's installed on another partition (this may be a bit too much computer speak for some of you so I'll apologise now). Anyway, I figure I'll give the whole Linux thing a bash (since we were neever using any Windows specific software anyway) and if I'm comfortable enough in a month or two, I can scrap Window's entirely ... so not such a plunge, more of paddle ;)

So, now I am completely set up and it's back to work again. But I have a littl time to tell you that although Varen & I were both home from work at a reasonable hour (before 5!) yesterday afternoon, we still did not get up to much at all. This has been a super quiet week ... which doesn't bother me in the least knowing what's in store for next week! Oh, and I think I've got my route to work almost perfected now :) It's the little things.

Update 13h04 : Oops, I forgot to mention that yesterday we had Heather Ford from iCommons come and chat to the company for about an hour - apparently it's a Thursday Speaker thing they do here. It was more interesting than I thought (once we got past the dull copy-write bit and into the more question & answer bit) and I'm looking forward to our future Thursday speaker sessions :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Time in the Traffic

Aaaargh. So since I'm now working in a new office, in a *completely* different part of town (practically opposite ends, i tell ya! Oh, and by town I mean Johannesburg as a whole, not specifically city-centre), I've been spending the week trying to find my most efficient, least-frustrating route here. This morning the alternate I tried really screwed me over and I ended up wading my way thru the worst traffic this week. But I think I'm close to finding my ideal route.

Sadly tho, Joburg traffic never seems to be consistent. And the other funny thing I'm noticing is that my ideal route here is not the same as my ideal route home. Odd hmmm.

Anyway. Last night it was pouring here again so the bunnies braved the weather to chew on the grass - Henna more than Bell because she's a far more dedicated eater :) I sat inside watching series and Varen worked late (till 7pm, but he still wasn't done so he was in early again this morning). But, he volunteered to pick up Ghazal's on the way home from work, which was delish so I was happy :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not Much

So last night was another quiet rainy one. But at least the heavy grey clouds have now disappeared and the sun is back out in Joburg :)

Varen & I hung out at home watching some series - I'm so totally not getting the Sarah Connors Chronicles ... although I do like the robot girl, sometimes she's hysterical :) But I also started Lost Season 4 and am so far quite impressed with the route they've gone with it story-line wise. Like in the first season when they looked back on everyone's life off the island. Whereas now they keep looking forward to when they're off the island. Which is good, you've got to find ways to spice things up after 4 seasons :)

The new job is going well. I had a induction-type meeting yesterday and am getting adjusted to using Thunderbird (instead of Outlook). It took 2 days but I finally managed to get my calendar items imported and my address book sorted ... I even figured out how to add a signature at the bottom of my emails (it's way different to how one does it in Outlook, but still an easy process if you know how!) and filter messages into different folders. Things are looking up :) The rest of yesterday was spent with more software installation and this afternoon I have my first training session on the software I'll be developing for. Exciting times, people.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I Hate Insurance

Righto, time for that rant I promised.

So, last week I got an unexpected phone call from a very well-spoken gentleman. The underwriters (for my car insurance) it seems, had decided to cancel the policy I am currently on. Sigh. And my car insurance expires at midnight on 31 May ... even better, a mere week and a half to sort this all out. But he was very helpful and phoned me back the next day (at my request since I was about headed home when he originally phoned) to give me a new quote assessment.

So we went thru all the particulars, none of which have changed, and he proceeded to provide me with a new rate. Now let me explain how this perfectly nice tale turned into a rant: I'm currently paying approx R790 for my monthly car insurance. The cheapest quote he could offer me (with another company, even!) was R1300 or thereabouts. If I stayed with them and just moved to the next closest policy, my repayments would be approx R1400 and first for women and some others were over R1700 ... that's more than my current monthly car repayment, people! In which case, surely it'd just be smarter (and cheaper too!) to buy a whole new "back-up" car. Pffft, madness.

Being completely furious at the situation, I just couldn't bring myself to deal with it during my few sweet days off last week, but am left dealing with it again this week ... rather urgently. Luckily yesterday I did manage to get my first quote under a grand (barely!) - friggin' hell, put that on the list of all the reasons I just can't help but hate insurance!

Sigh, but I will have to get it sorted asap. Nothing like the threat of being insurance-less to make you get up and pay attention (or pay more for insurance :P)

But in good news, the print cartridges from Canon got delivered yesterday and I could officially switch on my MX310 for the first time, error-free!

Other than that, not much to report ... the weather in Joburg is bizzare, it rained thru the night again last night.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Starting The New Job

So the weekend was particularly quiet, I think mostly because we'd had such a busy week. But Varen & I spent Friday & Saturday relaxing in front of the TV catching up on all the last episodes of the Series we've been watching lately (most of them finished during the week in the US). It was fab.

We finished (this is going to sound like an awful lot, but it's cause we only watched the few episodes of most series): Bones S3 (super hectic ending!), Criminal Minds S3 (damn, they ended with another to-be-continued to join up with S4 ... waiting desperately!), Desperate Housewives S4 (okay, I did ... while he was fiddling on the computer), Grey's Anatomy S4 (just me again), How I Met Your Mother S4, House S4, Numb3rs S4, Supernatural S3 and The Big Bang Theory S1.

Yep, I told you we barely moved from the couch, breaking in our new Windows Media Center Remote (very handy, ow if only we could get the codecs right!) But he did manged to show me how to download the pics from my camera ... so here's my sweet tiny Henna climbing the stairs (and getting into my book case just like Bell!) for the first time :)

And then on Sunday, Varen & I woke up particularly late (11am!) and I was supposed to be at the first bloggirls lunch at 12. So I woke up in a mad rush, showered and raced off to Nde Bushe, petrified that the London drizzle I'd woken up to would put people off. And for a little while I was the only girl there, hell I was the only girl in the whole restaurant. But not for long :) First Doodles of a Journo showed up and then Sweets & Angel arrived together (they had met each other previously so were one step ahead of the rest of us). And the MsMozi arrived, followed closely by Jackson and The Mom and SleepyJane.

Conversation flowed surprisingly easily and the food was yummy and the venue turned out to be ideal considering the weather, nice and cosy with gluhwein. I am definitely looking forward to next months one :) Which reminds me, after the success of the Joburg lunch, I'm now desperately looking for a girl-blogger in both Durban and Cape Town who would be willing to a) pick a venue b) book the venue and c) attend the event on a monthly basis - keep in mind it needn't be the same person each month! So if you are keen, please visit the bloggirls wiki and let me know!

There wasn't much left of Sunday by the time I got home (at 4pm) but Varen & I spent a lazy evening with the bunnies watching Good Luck Chuck.

Good Luck Chuck is a 2007 comedy film starring Jessica Alba and Dane Cook. The premise of the movie is Chuck is a "good luck charm" lover. That is, women will find their "one true love" after sleeping with him. He then meets a girl who he thinks is his true love.

It was rubbish. Varen even stopped watching about 20 miutes into it and went to play on his computer! I wouldn't even recommend it to people who usually enjoy Romantic Comedy's ... it is completely, predictable from the opening credits!

And now I'm at work ... my new job. I'm typing this on someone else's computer at the moment because I'm waiting to install Windows's on mine (I was going to go with Linux but after attempting to use it on Varen's laptop for the last 4 days, decided it wasn't worth the hassle) but unfortunately, the install cds are in a locked cupboard and the person with the key has yet to arrive - eep, here they come! So that is how I'll be spending my first day :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Games Night Part 2

So the rest of my time off has been fab :) I had lunch with Zej & Hammi yesterday which was very cool ... have not spoken to either of them in ages because of that whole Tuesday Dinner Group fall-out I've had (sigh, too complicated to bother with an update really, but I'm completely cool with it all these days, which is a good thing!)

Anyway, it was nice getting to see them and catch up again. And then I fought with the Canon Guarantee Place, they forgot to replace my 2 printer cartridges before giving me back my printer! I know?! Anyway, so now even tho I don't get the annoying scanner error that it originally went in for, I still can't do a damn thing with it because of the missing cartridges. I phoned them twice yesterday afternoon (both times with promises I'd be called back as soon as they found out where my cartridges had got to) and once this morning ... I'm still waiting to see if Customer Services Person #3 is as good as his word. Sigh. So friggin' frustrating!

I have another huge bother regarding my car insurance that I'm just really in no mood to deal with or write about ... but I really should deal with it asap. I'm just so furious that I can't begin to accept what's going on with it. But more on that another time ... I am on holiday, after all ;)

Last night was our second Games Night. GalleryGirl & Squeak hosted and we had 6 enthusiastic players. We spent the evening in front of the fire drinking wine and playing Pictionary and laughing hysterically at each other's drawings! It was a fabulous evening :)

Today I was up even earlier than yesterday morning, but this time not for gym, but rather a Spa visit ;) JofH & YogaCherryl got me a voucher from and I decided to make use of this fantastic gift with my free time. I went to Hands on Healing in Craighall for their half day Copacabana Pamper package. It was brilliant and I highly recommend that if anyone's looking for something a little longer than the standard 1 hour massage but doesn't want to spend a fortune, this is a great choice! In it's fabour, it's not miles outside of Joburg, but I must warn you that there are no waterfalls or wild animals roaming around (if that's your Spa preference?). My therapist (Tumelo) was superb and I'm almost certain I'm going to be organising myself another half day visit :)

And now it's time to sign off and enjoy my last free afternoon before the new job. No doubt I'll spend it watching some girly series like Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy with my darling bunnies underfoot :)

ps. *Still* waiting for the Canon guy to call back as promised ... I think I'll give him until 14h45 before nagging yet again!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

If I Am Missing Or Dead by Janine Latus

At age 37, Janine Latus's younger sister, Amy, was strangled to death by her live-in boyfriend, bundled in a plastic tarp and buried beside a remote country road. It was a wretched end to a too-short life, one frequently marked by disappointment, sadness and struggle. In the hands of a less gifted writer, Amy's story might stand only as an encomium or a cautionary tale: a glimpse into the life of one abused woman, representative of thousands like it. But Latus weaves a double strand. Part memoir, part biography, the book (which grew out of an article in O Magazine) explores Latus's own relationships with abusive men—and her eventual emancipation from a marriage riven by emotional and physical violence. Latus has a spare, economical style, softened by an undercurrent of humor and marked by a total absence of self-pity. When on a ski vacation, a boyfriend brutally beats her, breaking several of her ribs and her nose—and then makes love to her, in a twisted form of penance—Latus doesn't wince in the retelling. She lets ambiguities and contradictions abide: she loved her husband, even as he humiliated and hurt her. Had things been slightly different, she seems to say, she—and not Amy—might have perished at the hands of her partner.

This was a very interesting, hugely personal book to read. It's a true story so the ending falls a little flat when you're used to expecting some twist or justice to settle things. It's the story of abuse, but not the physical abuse we're used to reading about (although there's a little of that thrown in) but rather mental and emotional abuse over a lifetime. The family seems to have turned out quite well all things considered, especially as they band together. But Janine herself has lived quite a rocky road of experience that she only finally managed to overcome. It's shows in precise detail that as close as people can be ... there are somethings you'll never tell because of how you feel they'll reflect on you personally and because deep down you really do end up believing it's your fault. I don't think there's a person out there (woman, at least) who can't relate to this story on some (albeit hopefully lesser) level.

Enjoying The Time Between Jobs

So yesterday I left the office for the last time at around 2pm and spent a blissful afternoon at home with my bunnies. Henna took her first foray up the stairs :) Sigh, they're growing up so fast ;) Have got some pics, but can't quite work out how to download the damn things on linux (can you tell Varen is a bit of a computer nerd?).

Last night he & I went celebrating at Montecasino for dinner followed by a show, Defending the Caveman.

We ate at Gourmet Garage so he could have his favourite Peanut Butter Burger (it was delish, I'd order it next time!) and I tried their Chicken Satay Burger. But I think the best part of the meal were the Jalepeno Slammers (like mini Chili Poppers). They were divine!!

And then we headed for the show. I'd seen it years ago with the family but Varen had never even heard of it. It was brilliant and Varen thoroughly enjoyed it. I think for me it was even better the 2nd time around because I was now watching it with my boyf and there were so many instances of nodding and pointing and giggling at our shared knowledge of how spot-on the comedy was regarding our own interaction. I'd highly recommend all couples go and see it :)

This morning hasn't all been lazing in bed, although I've definitely been enjoying my first day off (and y last till my trip in November!). I woke up at a reasonable hour while Varen was getting ready for work and did, I admit, read in bed for a while. But then I got up and hit the gym at 9am ... impressive, no?

Since then I haven't done too much aside from finalyl collect my printer from the Canon Warranty Centre.Have yet to actually plug it in, but am desperately hoping that this time it will in fact work as it should :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cars vs. Pedestrians?

So, it's my last working day here at The Big Corporate. This in itself is exciting but also equally nerve racking, making sure I've removed all the personal stuff I want to keep from my laptop hard drive and onto my external drive as well as making sure all my bits and bobs are out of the laptop bag itself. But today will be light and pleasant. I have an exit interview with HR - in these big companies, it's obligatory to let them know why you're leaving ... and I can't wait to tell them :) And then I have a last lunch with TheBrad, My Ex-Manager and Singher.

Last night was good ... aside from the fact that no one mentioned we were playing the later Action Cricket game at 19h40 instead of 18h30. That kinda messed up any evening plans Varen & I had, but he was thrilled to spend some time enjoying his new internet connection at home :)

But we had a fantastically convincing win (169 to 79) and I played a brilliant game too :) It was great fun and I am gonna miss it ...

I had an interesting experience on my drive to Action Cricket. On one of the roads I drive along, there were no less than 3 "shadows" crossing in front of me, one on a bike no less! It was hectic, the street lights were out (and no, load-shedding was not to blame) and these people were wearing what appear to be pitch black. The moon was rising and although it was beautifully full last night, did nothing to highlight their crossing! Hello people, what are you thinking? I barely managed to see each one of them (they weren't crossing together people, these were 3 separate incidents in less than 5 minutes) as the oncoming car's lights shone a halo around each of them.

I drove on highly annoyed. Honestly, if you're going to be crossing a road in darkness, while wearing pitch black clothing, you deserve to be run-over. And then, as I was almost at Action Cricket, the traffic ground to a halt. There was a police car with blue lights flashing and a car with it's hazard lights blinking, stopped in the middle of the road ahead. As I drove past, I saw that some unfortunate driver had obviously knocked over an even more unfortunate pedestrian jay-walker who was now lying in front of his car. Just as I was thinking this deserved to happen.

It was quite a shocking experience and I don't really know where I stand on the issue any more. I mean, it's easy to stand on one side of the fence until you see it actually happen. I think I'm still on the side of the cars tho. Hello, here's a tiny little frail-by-comparison person crossing the road ... and here comes a big giant moving metal machine, who's primary domain said person has just wandered into, who do you think science is gonna favour? And I'm not saying that drivers should aim for pedestrians, just that pedestrians need to realise that when crossing the road (at night, wearing all black?), you are the lesser being and need to be the one watching your back and being especially careful. Hint: If you see headlights coming your way, it's probably best to wait on the pavement.

I can only compare it to birds vs. airplanes. See, that analogy is great, birds are living creatures (as are the pedestrians) and planes are man-made (like the cars). And in the air, if a bird happens to cross paths with a plane, there is little chance of it's survival ... the only difference here is that there's really no chance of swerving out of the way by the plane. So, I think perhaps it's pure arrogance on the part of the pedestrians.

I have a friend who has the most ridiculous opinion of the situation (and I wonder how many other people do too. If there are many of you out there, then this could be the cause of pedestrian silliness). She thinks (when she's driving) that she has right of way and pedestrians must stay out of her way yet she also firmly believes (when she's walking), that cars should stop if she steps into the road. Could you get a more contradictory thought? And perhaps, in the light of day this is viable, and perhaps at pedestrian crossing it would be too (if our South African pedestrians used them ... hell, even I don't!) but at night, when there's no light for a driver to see you and you're not wearing anything that might show up in the darkness, is it really a fair expectation? Should you as the pedestrian not be the responsible one in that situation? Really?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unwelcome Cat

So, there is not much to report. Varen added a splash of vodka to my ginger beer (sugar-free from Woolies) last night with dinner, and he's a little heavy-handed, so by the time we were supposed to be heading for gym, we were both curled up on the couch watching series. Ah well, I've got Action Cricket tonight and I'll go on my day off on Thursday instead ;)

So yes, yesterday was quiet ... aside from the Cat. While I was sitting inside, letting my buns run about on the grass, eating, I suddenly saw a dark gray shape fly over the wall. Luckily the door was open and I raced outside, scaring the cat away back over the garden wall. But Bell & Henna were not impressed and I scooted them inside with me to calm down for a bit. Bell seems quite philosophical about it and was outside again almost as soon as I was. Henna on the other hand was quite a bit more shaken (she definitely has the more nervous disposition of the two!). Sigh. So now we're really going to have to be on the look-out when they're outside enjoying the day.

Anyone know of some kind of cat-repellent I can apply to my wall and/or entire garden?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Busy Yet Quiet

Well the weekend was equal quantities busy and quiet :) Friday night I went to movies with GalleryGirl and her sister, Squeak. We started with dinner (and 2 bottles of wine- eep!) at The Red Chamber. Dinner was yummy and the conversation was good and we had plenty of time (which led to the 2nd bottle of wine) ... which wasn't very conducive to movie watching!

Two strangers awaken together to discover that they've gotten married following a night of debauchery in Sin City, and one of them has won a huge jackpot after playing the other's quarter. The newlyweds devise ever-escalating schemes to undermine each other and get their hands on the money - only to find themselves falling in love amid the mutual backstabbing.

The movie was typical Hollywood fluff, with not much concentration required - which was lucky considering all the mid-movie loo breaks we had ;) Still, a fun night out with the girls!

On Saturday morning, DJMike came over and replenished our empty Series collection :) And then we headed to Pentravel to sign on the dotted line and confirm our November trip - can not wait ;)

That evening was spent at Bokkie's Birthday Braai which was less than well attended ... but hey, more food for us :) And I *almost* had my first experience on a Wii, but sadly the remotes weren't working quiet correctly having been recently thrown across the room by his niece. Sigh.

On Sunday Varen & I met up with GalleryGirl and Squeak at Doppio Zero in Rosebank for some delish breakfast before we headed to the JAG (Johannesburg Art Gallery, for those of you not in the know). Sho, it is in a dodgy part of town ... but a beautiful old building! Although we rushed inside as we heard the police firing rubber-bullets (or so we were told after) to break up the current xenophobic attacks - it was more than a little scary being so nearby and watching a sea of people run across the gardens in front of the Gallery.

We specifically went to see their new exhibition, Ars Moriendi. It was a great experience to see the gallery and I'd definitely go back :) And in true artistic style, there were pieces I really liked and things I just didn't get. I think my favourite piece in the Ars Moriendi exhibition was definitely "Commune: Suspension of disbelief" by Wim Botha. It's a sculpture of the crucifixion made entirely out of bibles (cut to the shape of Christ). I thought it was amazing! Thanks must go to GalleryGirl for advancing our Culture Quotient ;)

After that, the rest of the day was filled with Series watching and spending some quality time together :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

You Want To Give Me What?

So last night Varen sorted out our internet and that's how we whiled away the rest of the evening. Him catching up on all the online reading he can't do at work cause of their 100Mb monthly cap per person and me catching up on Fakebook. But I must say that even with internet at home now, I don't plan to become a regular there ever again!

Boring, huh? So since I don't have much interesting to tell this morning, I thought I'd tell you a Friday Funny ... and it's a true story too :)

Varen is Afrikaans. He doesn't often speak to me in Afrikaans, but I can generally understand the language enough to get by when we're with his family. I don't speak it myself (unless I get drunk, and then only because I know he thinks it's "cute"). I think I sound like a moron, and I prefer not to.

One night last year we were kidding around and he said to me "I'll give you a pakslae". Which is Afrikaans is slang for a hiding or spanking (no, don't worry, he doesn't hit me ... as I said, we were just joking around). So, knowing perfectly well what he meant, but still playing, I innocently looked at him with shock and asked him in all seriousness why he would want to give me "a packet of salad"? The Afrikaans word for salad is "slaai" which means that "a pakslae" ends up sounding pretty similar to "'n pak slaai"! I'm guessing this will only really be funny to people who understand Afrikaans tho, but we thought it was hilarious :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Technology Update

So yesterday we finally had Telkom back to actually install our internet at home (turns out they hadn't had the address right the first time which is why I waited myself silly for an hour and a half while they complained that no one was home! Sigh.)

Yesterday Varen dashed home and waited around while they dutifully installed the neccessary bits and bobs. Unfortunately they couldn't test the modem because Head Office (or whoever does such things) had not yet switched on the line. But apparently we could test it ourselves later, sounds doable.

Last night after ages spent on hold with their call center, we discovered that although the lines had been switched on (we were talking on our new land-line here people!), clearly the modem was faulty. Bah!

This morning Varen popped into a local Telkom shop and got a new modem and was thrilled to report that we are now well and truly online at home. Yay!

And yet another incident in Phillygirl's Technology Update: the MX310 I bought ages ago, insists on not working ... and all I did was plug it in and switch the damn thing on. I have not even connected it to my computer yet and already there are errors! Double sigh. I've been fervently looking online for solutions to my bizarre problem with no luck. Although I did get 2 suggestions, neither worked. I finally phoned Canon SA this morning and they were very helpful (this is worth mention because it's pretty rare!). But my printer still has to go in to their technical support guys to either a) be replaced or b) be fixed. Bah! I have not even had the opportunity to even use it yet. Can you imagine my frustration?

So, as I said, we stayed home yesterday evening and Varen spent most of it trying to find a way online unsuccessfully. I, on the other hand, made an interesting pasta for dinner. Wholewheat tagliatelle with yummy Woolies prawns (will buy those again, they were delish!), steamed cauliflower and broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes in a white sauce. He liked it ... I remain unconvinced.

Updated 10h55 : Eep, I knew I forgot something! I wanted to say that I'm thrilled to announce that my 2 blog-initiatives for the time before I have to do real work again are completed :) All 3 of my holiday retrospectives are now available: In March 2004 I spent 5 weeks traveling around Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique). In August 2005, Bean and I visited Singapore and Thailand. And in June 2006 we went to Egypt (that was the last one outstanding which I finally got finished yesterday). And I got bloggirls started. We're not doing too badly with 8 girls signed up for the lunch so far :) I'm really looking forward to it ... and I have great future plans for it eventually too! Not too shabby, me thinks ;)

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday

'You really love me don't you?' she said. 'Of course I do.' 'It's hard to tell because you never talk much. You've never really had any fun in your life at all, have you?' 'No, but that's about to change.' Late one summer evening, Wilberforce - rich, young, work-obsessed and self-contained - makes an unexpected detour on the way home from the software company he owns and unwittingly takes the first step on a journey that will change his life. His uncharacteristically impulsive act leads him to the door of Caerlyon Hall, to the vast undercroft beneath it, and the domain of Francis Black, a place where wine, hospitality and affection flow freely. Through Francis, the eccentric and enigmatic owner of Caerlyon, Wilberforce is initiated into a life he could never have imagined: a life rich in the promise of friendship and adventure, where, through his new set of friends, with their shooting parties and stately homes, the possibility of finding acceptance, and even falling in love, seems finally to be within his reach.As his horizon broadens and his heart expands, Wilberforce becomes a willing pupil to Francis's master, and in the cellars of Caerlyon he nurtures a new-found passion for fine wine. But even the finest wine can leave a bitter aftertaste, and Wilberforce will learn that the undercroft holds some unpalatable secrets, and that passion comes at a price. Chronicling the vintage years of Wilberforce's life, The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce is a dazzling, haunting story of obsession and addiction, of loyalty and betrayal.

I don't know why, but I really liked this story. It's not anything very special story-line wise, it just follows one man's life path (admittedly backwards) of change and self-destruction. But, I think there's a sad honestly in just how far-fetched your life could seem in 5 years from now, depending on the choices you made.

Spoiler Alert: I was particularly disappointed that Torday, while merely alluding to the possible family connection between Francis Black & Wilberforce, didn't tie up that loose end nicely at the end. Was he, wasn't he? Me, I like a good twisty conclusion, myself ;)

> Follow Paul Torday on Twitter

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Best News Gets Better

The tours and flights are being booked as I type ... We managed to get a spot on the required tours in November. I'll be doing the amazing 23-day Spain, Portugal and Morocco trip and Varen will be joining me for the last 10 days touring Morocco :) I am so excited, I could burst! It's finally happening, it's all working out ... a bit of a compromise since I won't have Varen by my side for the whole trip, but thankfully he won't be missing the trip completely and we'll get to enjoy spending a night under the stars in the Sahara Desert after our camel safari and visiting the beaches of Essaouira together :)

It's gonna be fantastic ... and our first overseas trip together, which in itself will be a good learning curve about each other. I can't wait!

Another Engagement

So yesterday was quite fun ... went to Action Cricket, but we got slaughtered and I came away with a giant bruise on my leg from being hit by a ball recently hit by the batsman :( Oh well, you can't win them all.

This morning I'm slightly nervous and slightly curious at the same time. Last night was the first Tuesday Dinner after all the blog posting and I'm wondering just how much more bitching got done because of it. Sigh. I know ... it's not worth thinking about. But as I've said before, my brain hates me and does. I do so hate it when people have something against me for no good reason. But, no doubt they're absolutely sure it's a damn fine reason and are sticking to it none the less.

In other news, we found out on Monday evening that Koet finally popped the M question to Nambi :) I wasn't allowed to say anything till she'd had a chance to enjoy telling her nearest and dearest in person so, this fantastic news had to wait till this morning. But I'm thrilled for them both ... it's about time, guys :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Million Blog List

So someone decided to do an experiment and see just how long it'd take to get a million blogs to list themselves. I've just listed at a lowly 1532 (hopefully I'm not the last!). Either way, they have a long way to go so, if you have your own blog, go check it out and put your link on the list :)

Typical Monday

Last night was a typical quiet Monday. I spent the fading daylight outside with the bunnies ... and some of that inside watching Bell speed up and down the stairs :)

We also made it to gym ... Sigh, we really need to try to do that more than once a week! And then we ate some dinner and read our books (me while in a nice warm bath!).

I was still a little upset last night about some minor repercussions of last week's incident from during the day but I'm okay again now ... the light of day does wonders for me, it closes the box on all my irrational worries ;)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Venting Works Wonders

I'm feeling quite at ease this morning ... and I had a lovely weekend. I think the vent on my blog last week has really helped me move past the issue (although, sadly it really may only be the tip of the iceberg for some of the others). Either way, I'm happy with the decisions I've made so far and am sleeping easily once again.

Friday night was nice, Varen & I went to see Ironman with some friends at Hyde Park. We started with a lovely dinner at Cappello - I love their Chicken Trinchado!

The big-screen adaptation of Marvel's legendary superhero, Iron Man will launch into Nu Metro Cinemas on May 2, 2008. Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. stars as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, in the story of a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

This was a fantastic movie :) Thoroughly enjoyable! Even with some of it's completely unbelievable death-defying feats ... but for Robert Downey Jr, I for one am willing to suspend belief ;) Thanks to EveD for the heads up regarding the scene after all the end-credits, not that it was especially earth-shattering. Oh, and not a particularly impressive "welcome back to filming" for Gwyneth Paltrow but hey ...

Saturday went more smoothly than expected. I went to the Shape Health and Wellness Workshop with GalleryGirl. About 2 months ago (well before all the drama), GalleryGirl organised tickets to the Workshop as a birthday surprise for Daisy. Ironically enough, I was the only one of the Tuesday Dinner Girls to accept the invite. Saturday could've been a truly awkward day! But by Friday afternoon Daisy wasn't speaking to GalleryGirl (they have some of their own issues to resolve, apparently this has been a long time coming but it was all brought to the forefront by my blog posts last week) and even tho she didn't know what had been planned for her on Saturday (or that I'd even be there), she decided she wouldn't be joining us. Which left GalleryGirl and I with 2 spare tickets (Daisy & her mom were supposed to join the fun). Luckily a colleague of GalleryGirl's and her sister, Squeak (decided it was high-time she got her own nickname), managed to fill the gap.

It was an amazing day, well worth the 480 bucks per person :) The venue, Summer Place, although ostentatious, was perfectly suited to the event. The food thruout the day was absolutely delish ... and apparently just as healthy! And our speakers were brilliant! First we had Dr. Carol Benn on Breast Awareness and then Alison Sparg, a Chartered Accountant (SA) with over 10 years of commercial and corporate experience, speaking about Financial Wellbeing ... I'm sure this topic is invaluable to some women, but she wasn't saying anything I didn't already know. Which was just as fabulous to learn :) After the tea-break, we had the first Black female mountaineer in the world (a South African!), Deshun Deysel speak to us which was completely fascinating. I mean climbing mountains is not my idea of fun, but she has certainly accomplished some amazing things! And then we had Durban's Traffic Guy, Johann van Bargen, speaking about Anti-Hijacking techniques. Very interesting!

And then after lunch we got a chance to sample some therapies ... I tried the Body Talk System which was quite accurate and Aura-Soma which wasn't that accurate and seemed a lot like the Colour Therapy I'd had by Lady ... which was way more spot-on! And then we found the queues were just too long for some of the other things so ended with a 10 minute Neck and Shoulder massage by Hands on Healing ... the place I'm planning to spend my birthday Spa gift voucher from JofH and YogaCherryl! Nice to have a sneak preview :)

Oh, and don't let me forget the goodie bags as we left ... I'd highly recommend getting yourself to the next one if you can! Anyhoo. That evening Varen & I got all dolled up and went to his folks for their Housewarming / Annual Formal Dinner. And even tho I was quite tired from my busy day, it turned out to be a lovely night ... with a vast amount of food :)

Sunday was very quiet. Varen & I got the bulk of the week's shopping done and then he headed off to Mother's Day lunch while I stayed home with my bunnies. I really just needed a day of nothingness after being out all of Saturday. I took loads of new photo's as requested ... can't believe how they've grown. Bell is being so darling, I just love her curious nature. Now that Henna is big enough, we let them have free access to the house & garden when we're home on weekends (and when it's actually light, trying to find Henna in the dark is tricky!).

And Bell has a new game. She's learnt to climb up all the stairs ... and luckily back down too :) It's so cute, but now I have to keep making sure the doors upstairs are shut so she can only get to the landing / study area. She must've gone up and down those stairs at least 10 times yesterday :) Henna is still just eating like she's planning to hibernate. Cutey.

Managed to get a pic of Bell exploring my fab new shelves, on the landing. And Henna definitely enjoyed my Shape magazine (from the goodie bag) ... she did give it a nibble but obviously decided it wasn't food ;)

And yes, I did remember to phone the Mom for Mother's Day yesterday ;)

Like Water in Wild Places by Pamela Jooste

The stories and legends of the Bushmen were told to Conrad when he was twelve years old. He was on a hunting trip with his father, Jack Hartmann, a brutal but confused man who 'gave' Conrad an old Bushman to teach him the ways of the land. Bastiaan taught him not only about the beasts and plants and soil, but inculcated in Conrad a philosophy that would remain with him throughout his life.

But at home Conrad learns a different set of rules as he and Beeky, the young sister he adores, huddle together listening to the sound of his mother being beaten and told she is trash. Jack Hartmann, a senator and man of power in the community, hates his wife and daughter as much as he loves his son, and Conrad's mother impresses on him that he must always protect and guard his little sister.

As they achieve maturity, Conrad appears to conform to the vision his father has for him. But Beeky defies her father and the establishment, and goes her own way, yearning for a new South Africa, a new life, tenderness and kindness in place of hatred and derision.

I quite enjoy reading the occasional South African novel. This one was well written but lacked cohesion in my opinion. It seems to have many underlying story-lines that never quite combine properly, The Old Madam and her traitor son and even Jerome's detailed side-line story. It was a nice read, but nothing spectacular story-line wise. Read it if you enjoy South African fiction in general.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Best News

Okay, I shouldn't really be saying anything ... just in case I jinx it, but I'm just so excited that I can't hold it in :)

As you regular readers will know, I've been quite anxious over my holiday plans with Varen ... at times even wondeirng if we'd manage to go on holiday, but knowing that we needed it. We've been dealing with, what I like to call, his Pension Fund Debacle. When we were choosing trips, waiting for the 6-8 weeks since he left the company to be up and expecting the payout to come, they hadn't even filed the paperwork! Sigh. And then they told us that it'd be yet another 6-8 weeks wait when they did. And we had to wait for at least the payout figure before we'd know what could be done. As I said he's dealing with a little debt consolidation at the moment in the face of the rising interest rate (like most South African's) and we didn't want him to be stretched too far.

While waiting patiently for the figure, we made a new hopeful holiday plan ... I'd do the full 23-day trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco and he'd join me for the last 10 days, the Morocco Express leg. Luckily the trip I'd chosen was a combination of 2 of Intrepid's tours so this was actually quite viable. As much as I'd love to have him there for the entire trip, this seemed like the best compromise. Especially with his contractor-factor ... if he's not working, he's not getting paid so the less days of leave required for him, the better.

This morning while we were expecting to just get the Pension Fund figure, he in fact got paid out in full :) And I have just requested an updated quote. So please everyone hold thumbs that there is still availability for matching tours! That's the next big hurdle. Thankfully the figure turned out to be enough to cover his trip and still have a sizeable amount to plow into his bond ... so everybody wins :) ... If there's still space on the tours :(

Closing The Can of Worms

Okay. So I've been thinking that yesterday's post needs a little follow up. I don't think I managed to say everything I quite wanted to, or convey it in the right way, mebbe.

I had 2 reasons for writing the post originally, which wasn't explained in enough detail, me thinks.

Firstly it was a personal vent for me. The issue had been eating me up ... you know, the sorta one where you're having pretend conversations with the people in question, formulating your argument and defense properly, long after bedtime in the wee hours of darkness. It's always nighttime that gets me worrying. And here's the thing. I'm actually not confrontational at all. I just stew over the things I should've said or want to say ... but somehow they just float by the way-side in real life. This time I thought I'd put them down on the blog to get them out of my system.

Secondly it was done in the hopes that the situation may be resolved. Even tho I had no idea if any of them were still reading the blog (based on some of the comments I'd heard were made, it was fairly safe to assume I'd been boycotted completely), one could still hope. When it all originally came up I didn't have much of a response to the situation ... honestly, I wasn't aware I'd need one. But a few days later I'd given it some thought and although they weren't talking to me about it anymore (actually I haven't spoken much to any of them since the house warming), I now had something to say. It needed to be said. I felt a burning need to explain that I'd done nothing wrong in my opinion and couldn't understand why I was being lambasted for it.

It's not like I have a Tuesday Dinner mailing list, I went thru my list of email contacts and went: interested, not interested, interested, not interested, not interested
, not interested, not interested, not interested, not interested, interested, not interested - I think you're getting the idea :) There were a *lot* more not interested's in my opinion than interested's ... my inviting criteria was never on a group level. By all means bitch about me if I've been a bitch, but when I really don't think I have, that's just unfair.

I think the weirdest thing is that I don't even feel any animosity towards any of them, not even Daisy. I can see where the misunderstanding came in and just really wish I had the opportunity to make them see things from my point of view too. And I'm not even annoyed about the apparent bitching that went on. I mean, let's be honest here folks, every single one of you could point out the character and personality flaws of the people you love, your friends and your colleagues. As people we notice them all over time, hell I'm sure there are even people you see from a distance and ascribe personality perceptions to too! It's just that usually we choose to ignore them or very least not mention them ... at least not to people's faces. And I can completely understand how one would end up discussing these things when one's feeling victimised. I would to. Alright, let's be honest, I have. No one's perfect.

As I said to one of the group last night in the mere 160 characters an sms allows. I'm actually quite willing to let the whole thing go. Well, with the people who are willing to do the same. And the odd thing is, that although I've heard about comments made as recently as this week, everyone does seem to be acting the same outwardly. So perhaps Varen and I will be brave enough to make it back for dinner when the Action Cricket season is over ... that's still a few weeks away and I have every hope this will all be a distant memory by then :)

Sigh. Let's hope that's the last word on that.

Last night Varen and I skipped gym. It was all his fault, I tell you ... there's no way you an get the man to head to gym after he's poured himself a glass of wine :) Instead we stayed home loving our bunnies and watched Fallen.

Police detective John Hobbes, played by actor Denzel Washington, gains notoriety for capturing wily serial killer Edgar Reese. Immediately after Reese is executed, Hobbes is plunged into the case of a killer who seems to be copycatting Reese. Hobbes's investigation soon leads him to discover that this is no copycat, however; Reese -- or at least the evil that was inside him -- has managed to survive the execution, and is jumping from one body to another to continue killing, and to terrorize Hobbes himself. As the battle of wits between good and evil becomes increasingly personal for Hobbes, he must turn to a theologian's theories on demonology as his only hope for defeating the demon that was inside Reese.

TheBrad has been bugging me for ages to watch it ... I did. And it was okay aside from me being slightly distracted by my bunnies and the fact that it definitely got predictable towards the end. It's and interesting concept tho :)

And finally it's Friday :) This weekend promise to be an interesting one. It's a surprise so I won't mention it here ... till Monday. But keep your fingers crossed for me that tomorrow goes smoothly.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why Girls Make Sucky Friends

So, here's something that's been bothering me for a while ... at least a month. It's one of those girls-are-weird kinda stories and helps explain a part of why I started bloggirls. But first here's some background.

I don't have a lot of girl-friends. I've always got on better with the boys. Mebbe it's because I'm direct and to some degree lack tact and most certainly can't fake my opinion just to please someone else (something Varen has to deal with daily, bless him).

I know there are good and decent girls out there, so please excuse this diatribe on what awful friends girls seem to make. This is not directed at you few fabulous ladies (I'm lucky enough to know a handful of you and am supremely grateful for it!).

So as you all know, since I've been dating Varen, we've been going to Tuesday Night Dinners on a pretty regular basis. This has stopped. It was a temporary break since I, unfortunately, had Action Cricket scheduled at the same time, but has recently been made permanent. By us as much as by the rest of the group, I imagine (you'll understand, maybe, when you've read the story).

If you've been a regular reader, you'll also know that last month I started a Monthly Games Night. Now here's the thing. Games Night was supposed to be an opportunity to interact with some new people and make some new friends. In fact, I didn't include a single girl from Bookclub (except GalleryGirl who is a new recruit from the Tuesday Night Dinner Gang). I did however (and here's the unwitting mistake I made) invite a handful of people from the Tuesday Dinner Group ... because they're fairly new friends and I was keen to get to know a few of them better outside of Tuesday nights and I knew some of them would be keen. And me, I'm pretty naive when it comes to invites. Generally I invite anyone I think will be keen and get very few responses - as you may have noticed so far on the bloggirls first event :( I always think you never know when someone may want to do something. But there are some things, like Board & Card Game playing that even I wouldn't take the chance on. People don't seem to be undecisive about this sort of thing, they're either completely into it (also, this can depend on the actual game ... but for my new evening, you need to be up for them all) or completely against it and pretty much see it as a Loser Activity. Yes, believe it or not there are those of us who like our nights in and don't need to still be standing on the dance floor at 3am to prove we're having a good time.

So, I made the fateful flaw of assuming that the Tuesday Night group could be considered individuals outside of their regular ritual. We'll all find out much to my future character-assasination that I was, in fact, wrong.

Now I found out about all this the Tuesday Dinner before Games Night (which was on a Thursday eve, if you recall?). Apparently there was huge drama because I'd not invited a specific person. By my own count (and I did send out the email personally), I'd left off 5 of them (out of 10 ... yes, discriminatory, aren't I?). One of whom ended up coming regardless (and that's not said in a bad way at all). Which brings me to my primary point, when I sent out the invitation, I said "Please feel free to forward this on to anyone who you think might be interested".

So here's what ended up happening, the whole rest of the group got up in arms because I hadn't invited Daisy. The rest of them all "felt" invited by a partner receiving the email (or didn't care cause they weren't interested anyway, I assume). So at the Dinner in question, they called me on it. And I explained the two honest reasons I didn't send her the email invitation.

Firstly, because she doesn't seem to respond to emails - by the time we had our housewarming (that she attended, the Saturday after Games Night), she still had yet to reply to the email invitation, although when I asked her personally she said she'd be there. I guess she's just too good for email. Which is useless when trying to organise things like a Monthly Games Night which relies on regular email corresspondence.

And secondly because I didn't think she'd be interested. Now I'm fairly new to this group. Newest by far. So surely it's not a stretch of the imagination that I might not think she'd be interested (honestly, to this day I'm not even sure if she would be or not). But I will say that not a single one of the people in the group that I did invite has had to defend why they didn't forward the email on to her or extend the invitation verbally and respond on her behalf. Since it was discussed at the Tuesday Dinner prior to the first Games Night, they clearly had all noticed well enough in advance that she had been left off the list. Petty. Petty. Petty.

And can you believe it's all still going on in my absence. We had Games Night and myself plus 3 of the girls from Tuesday Night were there. As much fun as the evening was, it was technically a flop in terms of meeting new people ... of 8 there was only one person I'd never met before. But that's to be expected, I started the whole thing. And now, almost a month later, I'm still apparently being bitched about behind my back at every Tuesday dinner I miss because of not inviting Daisy - hence the not bothering to return on Varen & my part and the not feeling especially welcome there from theirs. And I'll be honest, I know it's not all of them. Of the 6 girls, I've talked with some of them about it and those that I have, don't care one bit ... they're as over it as I am and can't see what the issue is (or even was in the first place ... like moi!). It's some of the others (including Daisy herself, naturally) who are dwelling on it making the situation toxic. And I hate it. I never left her off the list in a bad way. I never even thought twice about it. And suddenly I'm a terrible person. Things like this make me wonder how girls form any friendship at all!

And here's another point. It's the *girls*. Boys just really couldn't care about these sorts of things. I bet (if their girl's have let them) they would have forgotten all about it by now and carried on with life as normal. See why boys are so much easier to deal with?

And yes, I know ... technically I'm not actually certain that all the bitching is even going on (since at least one of them has been perfectly normal to me when I've spoken to her), but I have heard from a reliable source that it is. That and I've been at Tuesday Dinners when other people are away and have heard the "chatter" that goes on by all these so-called friends about whoever is not around. Makes me scared to miss an evening ... which is another reason we've decided not to go back.

Let me tell you something else, Varen & I have organised almost every time we've seen any of them outside of Tuesday Nights and that's enough of a hassle regarding who to include already ... how many of the group can you invite before you hit tipping point and it stops being about who you included and starts being about who you've excluded. Sigh. Does anyone else reading this feel like I'm back in highschool?

Thankfully I had Bookclub last night and it was a refreshingly nice evening spent with a group of lovely girls :) Sometimes I get sad with some of them who I'm "supposed" to be better friends with since our friendship seems to have devolved to only seeing each other at Bookclub but aside from that they're still a lovely bunch.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Just Launched: bloggirls

So, I did mention I had 2 blogging-projects planned and now it's time to launch the second. The first is very nicely under-way with both my Southern Africa 2004 and Singapore & Thailand 2005 holiday retrospective posts complete.

So here is the launch of the 2nd. I've decided to start an event called
bloggirls. I've made a wiki for it that explains the concept and all that, but here's a re-print :)

I had an idea a while ago and while I still have some time before starting my new job, I thought I'd try putting it into practice :) My idea is simple and I'll be starting it in Joburg, but I hope some of my girl-blogger friends will pick up the baton and help this spread worldwide!

Girl-bloggers are different from boy-bloggers, mostly anyway. From what I've noticed, the majority of girl-bloggers tend to do life-blogs. And we read other girl's life-blogs. I thought it would be nice to have a monthly Sunday/Saturday lunch get-together (where you can bring your kids along if you like) and meet up in real life. We all read about each other's daily up and downs and I've read more and more of girl-bloggers meeting up together and becoming friends offline. This magic is a little of what I'm hoping to acheive :)

For the meantime, I'll be starting the one in Joburg, South Africa and hoping it catches on.

If you are interested in attending the first event in Joburg (and you have to be a girl-blogger), just visit the wiki and add your name to the Who's Coming list :) And if you're a girl-blogger from elsewhere and interested in organising a
bloggirls event in your area, check out the wiki for the new email address I can be reached on for bloggirl specific things.

Much Improved

This morning things are much better :) Varen and I seem to have found an acceptable path to resolve the issues affecting us (they are far more real life than things in your head kinda issues) but I count my lucky stars every day that he's willing to try, just for me :) So we seem to be on the road to recover and we're talking thru things and it really does seem to be helping - keep in mind he's an Afrikaans boy, he needed some prodding in the communication department ;) So I'm feeling upbeat and positive that we can overcome everything ... at least until the next outside influence strikes us down. Sigh.

Yesterday was a pretty fabulous day tho. My birthday present arrived :) Yes, it may seem like a long time coming but I did only order it last week ... I used some money that I was given by my folks & grandparents to make the purchase and I can't tell you how fabulous I think they are. They fit snuggly into the area I measured them up for (it is a precise and exact fit ... you couldn't fit another centimeter of shelves in!) and I spent some time stacking them with all the books that have been littering the landing floor (which is where we're planning the mini-study type area). As you can see from the picture, although I previously thought I had plenty of books, I now have space for loads more! Yippee.

Varen arrived home just before I left for action cricket which was a lovely surprise - I really wanted to be there when he saw my shelves for the first time and share my excitement :) And then I zooted off to Action Cricket ... which we sadly lost. But I was on top form and that's really what counts to me!

Oh and a quick aside. Daddio tried out the Cape Car Care service while he was up here in Jhb. Basically instead of leaving your car parked at the airport (and who can ever find convenient or cheap airport parking these days anyway?) they meet you at the departure's drop-off zone when you arrive at the airport and drive your car off to their storage facility. When you're due to arrive back they'll meet you at the arrival's drop-off zone with your washed and vacuumed car. I must admit he was a little skeptical about the service prior to trying out (would they in fact be there to collect them on time?) but I chatted to him yesterday and he said the service was brilliant, he was most impressed. And I'll mention here that my short fuse with bad customer service comes directly thru Daddio's genes! So for those of you flying from Cape Town, here's a heads up on a fabulous new service that's apparently cheaper than the usual airport parking and you arrive to a clean car as well, what could be better?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Equinox by Michael White

Oxford, 2006: a young woman is found brutally murdered, her throat cut. Her heart has been removed and in its place lies an apparently ancient gold coin. Twenty-four hours later, another woman is found. The MO is identical, except that this time her brain has been removed, and a silver coin lies glittering in the bowl of her skull. The police are baffled but when police photographer, Philip Bainbridge and his estranged lover, Laura Niven become involved, they discover that these horrific, ritualistic murders are not confined to the here and now. And a shocking story begins to emerge which intertwines Sir Isaac Newton, one of seventeenth-century England's most powerful figures, with a deadly conspiracy which echoes down the years to the present day, as lethal now as it was then. Before long those closest to Laura are in danger, and she finds herself the one person who can rewrite history; the only person who can stop the killer from striking again...

This was a great fun book in the almost-Da Vinci Code-genre. And there's a whole section at the back with details on what was fact ... so yo udon't get confused, which caused all the who-ha after Dan Brown's aforementioned book. It was an easy read and I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a quick decent crime read with historical references :)

Will I Survive

I'm in a weird mood this morning. Last night was okay ... mostly. I spent some time with my bunnies and Varen & I finally made it back to gym :) Quite an achievement in this weather, let me tell you.

But I've got some stuff on my mind that is getting me down. It's relationship type stuff and trying to figure out if my relationship with Varen will survive things. I had a bit of a panic attack last night about everything. Luckily in the light of day it does all seem like it might be manageable and that we might make it thru this together. But I still worry. As I've said before ... where is my crystal ball? I hate knowing I can survive something for the next 6 months but what if it'll kill me after 10 years. Anyway, I'm being particularly vague because this is personal stuff and I don't want to discuss it on this public forum any further than I have above. Sigh. I want my Mom back.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The May Long Weekend

Varen and I were woken early on Thursday morning by my mom knocking on our bedroom door. Daddio had smsed, he was arriving on a flight half an hour earlier than expected, which meant we needed to get up, shower and pack clothes, food for the weekend and the bunnies and head to the airport for an 8:30am arrival.

We made it. We were even early :) It was fab having both the folks visiting. And then we headed off on the 3 hour drive to the farm in the Free State. The drive was pretty uneventful and the bunnies didn't seem too hassled. Although they definitely enjoyed being out and about in the fairly large portable-space (only under our watchful eyes!) that Varen made them last week (damn, didn't take any pics!).

The farm was fabulous, we lazed about and enjoyed the weather on Thursday. Varen drove us across both their farms showing the folks the lay of the land and all the animals. We had a fabulous braai that evening, which yielded surprisingly little (considering how much we started out with!) in the way of left-overs. That evening we had a fire in the lounge and watched Bad Company on dvd on the wall projection.

When a mission to retrieve a stolen suitcase bomb goes bad, CIA agent Kevin Pope is killed. Pope was working undercover as an art dealer under the name Michael Turner. The CIA, who is desperate to complete the mission discovers that Agent Pope had a twin brother, Jake Hayes (Rock), from whom he was separated at birth. Hayes hustles chess games, scalps tickets and works at small clubs to make ends meet. Meanwhile Hayes’s girlfriend, Juile (Washington) grows tired of waiting for him to grow up and decides to move to Seattle, Washington.

This was about all worth watching of the 7 or so dvds that live on the farm (and one I hadn't actually already seen!) and it turned out to be quite fun. Anthony Hopkins is always worth watching and Chris Rock was his usual entertaining self. A nice all round movie that everyone enjoyed.

On Friday it was overcast, but we'd planned to head to the Golden Gate National Park via Clarens anyway so it was ideal. We were hoping to get a lunch time cheese fondue at Caledon Gardens (recommended by a girl I was on that Leadership Training course with) but sadly they were fully booked (wtf?). So we headed straight thru to the Park with the intention of grabbing some lunch in Clarens on the way home.

The Golden Gate Park is an interesting place. It's basically more of a drive than a park (unless you're staying over in their chalets or camping ground). So we drove. we drove until we were bored of looking at rocks outside our window. And then we turned around and drove back (past all the same rocks!). Nah, it was a nice drive and the rocks make for some pretty fascinating viewing!

On the way back to Clarens, we stopped at another little food stop (in the hopes of a marginally earlier lunch, by now it was at least 2pm) and I just had to take a photo of my man's bizarre parking skills, yes that's him parked *behind* the tree. He got in next to the red 4*4 on the right and angled around (landing up directly behind the tree) so that the 4*4 could get out before us if they had to. It was quite an impressive feat with very little effort. Un-be-leivable.

We lunched in Clarens at the Artist's Cafe in the Windmill Centre. It's by far the best meal I've had in Clarens (of 3) ... generally I haven't found the food there to be particularly impressive. We all had pancakes (I had Spinach & Feta) and they were delish!

We decided not to wander around Clarens since it was already getting quite late and we had an hour & half drive ahead of us back to the farm and our cooped up bunnies. And the clouds were getting worse!

Luckily I'd planned my Ostrich Chili soup for dinner and we kept warm inside by the fire watching random DSTV (sheesh, why does anyone pay for this service, there's never anything worth watching!).

Sunday's weather did not improve and after some Spinach, Feta and Red Pepper scrambled eggs for breakfast we headed back to Joburg earlier than expected. It rained almost our entire drive back. In fact probably from then till Sunday morning.

Sadly the rain was not such a treat for Meggles who was up with her Dragon Boating team for the South Africa Chinese Dragon Boat Festival at Florida Lake. They even canceled the finals on Sunday because of the weather. But it meant that she came over on Saturday afternoon to visit us (well we collected her) and see the bunnies :) It was fabulous to show her our home and have her up in Joburg for a change!

On Saturday evening The Mom, Daddio, Varen & I headed out for our last (and first, actually) dinner out at F!sh in Rosebank. The food was amazing and I can highly recommend it. Sadly I wouldn't recommend eating a 2 course meal there after you've been snacking on rubbish all afternoon ... but we did anyway ;) I started with their Citrus Prawns, but would rather recommend their squid heads - Mom had it and it was divine! Daddio got all kitted out with a knee length bib and 5 different implements for his seafood soup (it's the crab shell that gets in the way!). For mains I had the Teriyaki Salmon with Wasabi Mash. So delish but sadly by this point I was full to the brim and only managed to finish half of it.

And then sadly it was Sunday and the folks were off home in the afternoon. We had a lazy morning just sort of finishing up things. I went thru a lot of old photos with Dad that I'd got from his Dad when we saw him after our Midlands Weekend.

We also discovered a very temporary new pet. Kevin the Bat. There was a huge storm in the early hours of Sunday morning and Kevin's radar obviously could not get him home, instead he spent the day sleeping under our stoep roof. But he was gone this morning :( Varen named him Kevin and said he just *had* to be a boy (I think he's feeling a little outnumbered with me & the two girl bunnies!) but I tend to agree ... he did get lost and all ;)

I spent the rest of Sunday vegging in front of Season 4 of The 4400. It was a fabulous week but flew by way too quickly!

The Two Days of Leave

So, in light of my soon to be leaving this job (and the fact that I do nothing work-related here either), I decided to take the two days leave last week and truly enjoy the week my Mom was visiting. Plus I'd just get taxed on the leave payout anyway!

So, we raced around shopping (looking for belated birthday pressies for me mostly) for most of the two days. But I did take her to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Victory Theatre on the Tuesday evening. You must understand, Rocky is a staple of our family unit. I couldn't let her miss a performace as fabulous as Brendan van Rhyn's! Seeing it for the 2nd time for me, it wasn't as spectacular as the first, but I think that's because it was as much of a surprise, I knew what to expect. The performances by my favourite cast (Frank & Riff Raff) were all just as brilliant as before but I'm not sure if I actually liked Tamara Dey as Magenta after all (after the last show, I was quite curious to see her tackle the role).

Poor Varen (who had decided to skip a second viewing of the show anyhow) ended up at work until 2am.

On Wednesday I thankfully found my future birthday present (I say that because it'll only be arriving tomorrow afternoon), some shelves at antiquesetc in Fourways Crossing. They'll fit perfectly in the stairway landing, the area that will be our study (the house is still very much a work in progress!). What's even more fabulous is that now, if we do move to Cape Town next year, we can take them with us ... not like the built in floating shelves we were thinking of getting. Will post a picture when they've arrived :)

On Wednesday evening, Varen and I left Mom at home and went to Newscafe Rivonia for DJMike's birthday drinks. We didn't stay too long since we had plenty to do before Daddio's early morning arrival.

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