Thursday, July 31, 2008


Sigh. I'm quite bleary eyed again this morning :) ... after another late-ish night (they're not really late nights, but coupled with my 05h40 alarm clock, anything past 10pm means an extra few smacks on the snooze button!).

Last night I headed off to my first Girl's Poker Night. Sadly Maroon (my invite and the only friendly face I knew there) was home sick in bed. But I decided to put my big girl panties on and go anyway (how scary could a bunch of poker-playing girls be anyway, right?). What fun we had :) There were 7 girls there and one guy, our "teacher". We played a few practice round as he got everyone accustomed to the rules and the flow of play and debriefed every game so that we will hopefully soon start to think strategically (the thing I'm sorely lacking in my own poker game). I think it was super handy to play like this because although I know all the rules and combinations, I really have never been playing with anything more than gut-feel. So it's really nice to hear what other people are thinking while playing and how you should actually have been thinking.

By the time we started playing for real, I won the first two hands (although I really shouldn't have) and amassed a nice pile of change. But I soon lost a fair amount. And then came back with a vengeance to clean up 2nd and win back my original R100 contribution (R50 for the dealer/teacher guy and R50 for the pot). It was marvelous fun and I can't wait to do it all again next month. And of course, it's always fabulous to meet some new potential friends :) Oooh, and I nearly forgot ... one of the ladies I was playing against was none other than The Fairy Godmother.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another Cosy Bookclub

So last night was Bookclub and after keeping me company for the late afternoon, at 7pm Varen was relegated to the bedroom upstairs with his new iPod Touch and laptop (thankfully the internet is re-connected after a dismal Telkom experience, aren't they all?).

I made my yummy Ostrich & Chili Soup and we topped that with a dessert of Lindt Chili Chocolate (my all time favourite chocolate of choice these days). The evening was lovely (as usual) and we nattered away will almost 11pm. And boy did the new discovery of indoor use for my Chimenea come in handy :) Now here I am yawning the morning away.

Oh, but I did see something pretty fun on the internet this morning :) They've come up with some kind of weirdo formula for estimating a user's gender based on their browse history. It's pretty funny ... although mine guessed me as only 42% female (and thus 58% male) ... I'm guessing it's all the work browsing I do looking up Computer Programmey type stuff :P

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger

Book Cover for Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren WeisbergerThe in-crowd wears Gucci but one girl wears her heart on her sleeve...From the bestselling author of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA comes a no-holds barred expose of the world of the Manhattan super-rich. Bette gets paid to party ! Well, to plan them, anyway. And she can hardly believe her luck. Running with celebs, gaining VIP access to Manhattan's hottest spots and meeting 'everyone worth knowing' is a million miles away from her old banking job. Overnight, New York has become her sexy late-night playground. But quicker than you can say Birkin bag, Bette turns up in the gossip columns as girlfriend to a notorious British playboy. It's news to her -- but news that delights her publicity-hungry new boss. Her family and old friends, however, think it's not very Bette. What happened to the girl they know and love -- who always had time for romantic novels, 80s music and junk food, not to mention them? As her new and old worlds threaten to collide, can Bette say goodbye to the glamour and the Gucci, the parties and the Prada, and step back into the real world -- and find a prince who's got a heart to match his charm?

Paha, well this was a little light fluff (I need to alternate my books!). But, that said, it was still a decent read if you enjoy the lack of twists (cause all Chick Lit twists are pretty predictable, you just know they've gotta end happily ever after and the Perfect Man must always swoop in before the last page to proclaim his undying love ... that's why we read 'em, after all!) and the generally unbelievable world of fictional characters. In the last few chapters, I discovered that Bette turned a mere 28. Hello, I turned 28 in April. There is no way that this could be my life! Well, perhaps if I weren't in the computer industry, so maybe it's just me that these character's lives aren't believable for ;)

All that said, unless someone buys it for Bookclub, I doubt I'll be reading her latest.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Book Cover for The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThis extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing. The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

I absolutely loved this book! It is just such a startling unusual story, although somehow the same as other but the novel way of telling the story (or rather the novelty of Henry's CDD) makes it refreshingly new and beautiful. I cannot say much more about this book, other than I think everyone should read it. This is one I think I might have to go out and buy for myself one day :) (it was a Bookclub book, thanks to J9!)

The Long License Loiter

Righto, so here's a full catch up of yesterday morning's drama. Varen & I were up early (I'd asked him to accompany me since I had no idea where the Randburg Civic Center was, and knowing it was on Jan Smuts & Hendrik Verwoed led me to feel it was not exactly "single woman hanging about in the still-dark hours of the early morning" territory), 6am in fact and arrived at the Civic shortly after 6:30am where I proceeded to get some id photos taken by some clearly foreign entropeneurs for a massive R40 (well, it ended up being R50 cause they had no change :P). And then we found the appropriate queue and waited. Let me tell you, there is nothing similar about the Car License and Driver's License queues, be sure you're in the right one (especially cause the car license one only opens at 8am on a Monday morning, nearly had heart failure!).

The Driver's License department opened promptly at 7:30am (as the websites promised) and we were herded upstairs and handed a 4 page green form to fill out (only in black pen, mind you). And then we waited. And waited. Hey, I was just happy to be in the warmth of the building but seriously, there were people wandering in and out looking official but making sure not to make eye-contact with any of us. Close to 8am (and I thought if I got there early and was in the first 10 people, I could be out of there within half an hour of opening, pah!), and small man with some serious face scaring and injuries (seriously, he looked like he'd recently been mauled by a small dog or something) came in and started handing out new white forms that needed filling in (also in black pen, to be sure). And then he started processing us.

At this point I should tell you that I was 3rd in the queue and staring at 5 tables, 4 of which had huge equipment filling them. There was also a sign (printed A4 page, sticky taped to the wall, like all the others in no discernable manner) saying somethign to the tune of "The Joburg Traffic Department has recently installed new eye-test and fingerprint machinery which is slow. We appreciate your patience". This one little man took up his post on the empty table and proceeded to call us up one by one to take out fingerprints (no spanking new machinery used here, although he was pretty slow!). Before he'd got the whole way thru the room, he started at the front of the queue again (luckily we were sitting down for all this) and started cutting our id photo's to the correct size with his little clamping-cutting machine (hi-tech!) and telling us to stick them to the white sheet (which also had our fingerprints). After he'd done most of the rooms photo's (again not all of them), he went back to fingerprinting. After a short while of that he got annoyed because people weresitting in the wrong places. Which started a bit of an argument because, naturally, no one had been told where to sit or what the right order etc. was. He proceeded to ignore them, stop fingerprinting (again) and started at the front of the queue ensuring that our white forms were signed (by him). Eventually he went back to fingerprinting, cutting the rest of the photos and completing the rest of the white forms (all very peculiar, I tell you).

Eventually, around 8:30am, someone asked about the eye-tests (Naturally there was one crazy lady telling anyone who'd listen that she'd had her eye-test done at an optometrist already, the little man told her to sit down and wait with the rest of us). Turns out whoever is supposed to be there doing eye-tests had not yet shown up this morning (fabulous!). Luckily very shortly after that, someone came in to assist and we started doing them (at probably the most archaic looking machine on the 4 remaining tables). It's a strange eye-test, no letters, no closing your right eye and then your left.

Anyway, once that was out of the way, we left that room and went to stand in a new queue, waiting for the cashiers. They'd been in and out all morning so far (the only way into their cubicles is thru a door in the room we'd all been sitting in) but by the time we were finally ready for them, there wasn't a person in sight. Eventually one arrived. Do you think she was ready? Nope. She proceeded to (all while not making any eye-contact ... I'm beginning to realise why they're protected by glass because there were some pretty frustrated people by this point) check her printer paper, get out her ink block and stamp, set the stamp to the correct date (hello, they've been there since 7:30am, you'd think they'd be ready to handle customers by 8:45am?). Anyhoo, by the time I got to the counter (the crazy optometrist lady had just joined the queue, after having to re-do her eye-test), there was a second lady at the counter (who'd also had to set-up before being able to process anyone) so after that, it was all over pretty quickly.

So yay, after hours of waiting and a few minutes of processing, I have applied for my new Driver's License and currently have a temporary one to tide me over. Relief, I can drive legally again :)

Other than that, not much happened last night. Varen and I got into an argument (about absolutely nothing, as usual) and barely spoke, so I went out grocery shopping (for Bookclub dinner this eve) and to buy Bookclub books from Estoril (I love love love their 20% off all books sale on the last Monday of each month!) and then to gym (shock, horror, I know!).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eat Out Much?

So, this is a pretty damn late post ... but I had to get my driver's license sorted this morning and it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences

Night Shot of JBs Corner in Melrose ArchBut let me cast my mind back to Friday first. It seems to have been a weekend of duplicates (sort of ...). I had a lovely catch up lunch with TheBrad, Singher and the Ex-Boss from The Big Corporate at JB's Corner in Melrose Arch. I had a yummy haloumi, avo and roasted aubergine sandwich. It was fab to catch up with them, although it doesn't sound like much has changed back at The Big Corporate ... certainly nothing that made me remotely miss the place! And Singher & I have a dinner plan we're gonna get started on so that we can all occasionally get together with the folks we still wanna see :) Eep, and TheBrad started smoking again which horrified me. He & Varen stopped within a week of each other in November06 ... it just seems such a waste for him to have started again now. Sigh.

In the evening we headed off to The Gypsy Lounge with J9-double0blonde and Squeak (was the only suitable time to see them, otherwise I wouldn't be having lunch & dinner out ... although the rest of the weekend followed much the same trend, and there was little I could do about it sadly). Sadly, the had a private function booking out their entire inside area so we were relegated to a cold table outside surrounded by what I'd call "The Friday Newscafe Crowd", not my ideal dinner-mates. And after a brief perusal of their minimal menu, we decided to move on ... to the nearby Melrose Arch (and the first of my duplicate experiences).

Logo for Orient in Melrose ArchWe decided to try Orient. The decor is pretty cool and the food was delish! I started with Salmon Roses (sushi) (a mere two did not touch sides tho). Varen started with Prawn Toast which I definitely think I might order next time ;) I thoroughly enjoyed my Peking Style Duck main course! And although I completely loved my 'O' cocktail (Varen hated it, but he hates ginger) it's a bit odd to have a cocktail menu without a single price or symbol to indicate costs ... especially when cocktail costs are regularly exorbitant. It turned out to be a lovely evening all round :)

On Saturday we started the morning with an hour at Wonder Wall, followed by a very relaxed afternoon. We couldn't really decide what we wanted to do for the evening, Varen was in the mood for a movie but I was skeptical as The Dark Knight had only opened on Thursday (eep, picture a packed cinema, on the evening Saturday show of a newly opened, long anticipated movie ... annoying people delux!). So, we decided to try Brightwater Commons (the best place to find yourself in an empty cinema!) and find out what time the movie was showing. 20h30 ... an hour and a half to kill. Not quite long enough to go elsewhere for dinner (aaargh and I was craving Xai Xai's Chicken Trinchado).

Logo for Babylon Again in Brightwater Commons, RandburgSo we wandered their dismal restaurant array and since I was already scheduled to try the Scrooge Diner at the bloggirls lunch on Sunday (and my second instance of duplicate experience) Varen chose Babylon Again! (for lack of better options ... I was so anti eating at any of the few restaurant options that I just went with the flow). In truth, I think he picked it based on the fire they had burning inside :)

I won't go into the bizarreness of eating sushi at a Greek Taverna but that's what we both ended up ordering (with our brief timeframe before the movie). The sushi wasn't bad and I guess it was close to the ideal meal since I wasn't terribly hungry. But here I must just say that when eating sushi, I love to pick & choose from a sushi-go-round rather than ordering a plate of 8 of the same pieces. What if I don't like it? Those 7 remaining pieces are a bit of a waste if I can't stand what I just ordered ... Give me manageable portions, at lower prices naturally, and I'll be much happier!

Logo for Let's Go BowlingTurns out we still had about half an hour to kill before the movie so decided to have a game of bowling :) Great fun ... although I suck (I had scraped skin off my thumb at climbing earlier so I'm claiming this disability impeded my performance!) and Varen is way better! I'd definitely like to do this again and try to become at least an average player! And then it was time for the movie :)

Movie Poster for The Dark KnightThe follow-up to the action hit Batman Begins, The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale. Bale once again embodies the man behind the mask. The Dark Knight takes Batman across the world in his quest to fight a growing criminal threat. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman had been making headway against local crime until a rising criminal mastermind, known as The Joker (Heath Ledger), unleashes a fresh reign of chaos across Gotham City. To stop this devious new menace - Batman's most personal and vicious enemy yet - he will have to use every high-tech weapon in his arsenal and confront everything in which he believes.

Loved loved loved this! I'll warn you in advance that it's long. It started at 20h30 and we stepped out of the cinema at 23h15 ... with only a mere 2 trailers beforehand or so. But so worth it! I'm just re-devastated by Heath's untimely death :( It was a brilliant performance from him, and by far, I think, the best Batman of the series! Christian Bale was his usual smouldering hot self, but I still don't get how he can sound so different when he's Batman and when he's not. Oh, and again, you have to get passed his S slurring (the only minor annoyance of the movie). Definitely a must watch. I'd see it again, one the big screen ... and as Varen said that's about the best compliment I can give a move ;) Brilliant.

Logo for Scrooge's Diner in Brightwater Commons, RandburgAnd then on Sunday I found myself back at Brightwater Commons (it's not really worth even 2 visits in one week, let alone twice in a weekend, let me assure you!) for the July bloggirls lunch and Scrooge's Diner, picked by Angel :) This month there was only Jackson's Mom from The Jackson Files, Angel and Doodles of a Journo and myself, naturally. It was an absolute blast :) Every time we have one of these lunches I re-realise what a fab bunch of girls we have blogging in this country. So come on, the rest of you ... sign up and come along to the next one on 31 August!

And then I got home to find a very bored Varen ... so we headed to his folks. This did not turn out to be such a fabulous way to spend my Sunday afternoon because shortly after we got there, we got dragged off to Centurion (from Bedfordview) to have a look at the hole that Brother Zion will be moving into next Tuesday. And then (following the distinct trend of the weekend!) they decided to go grab a bite to eat - sigh. Even tho I'd already had a pretty large lunch, I couldn't say no in the face of 5 others who were keen. So we headed all the way back to Bedford Center (I refrain from comment about the lack of thought put into finding somewhere half way between a) their house and b) our house and c) Centurion since Varen had driven us to Centurion in his car ... but anyway) and I ended up barely finishing some tomato soup (that could've done with a helluva lot more puree-ing) at Ciao Baby Cucina.

Sigh, you have no idea how thrilled I was when we got home just before 8pm to jump into a nice warm bath with my book! And now I need to get some work done. I'll get the Driver's License renewal done a bit later ... sigh, it was exhausting tho, let me tell you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Book Cover for My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult'A major decision about me is being made, and no one's bothered to ask the one person who most deserves it to speak her opinion.' The only reason Anna was born was to donate her cord blood cells to her older sister. And though Anna is not sick, she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukaemia that has plagued her since she was a child. Anna was born for this purpose, her parents tell her, which is why they love her even more. But now that she has reached an age of physical awareness, she can't help but long for control over her own body and respite from the constant flow of her own blood seeping into her sister's veins. And so she makes a decision that for most would be too difficult to bear, at any time and at any age. She decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

I read this while I was in Cape Town, I was scared of finishing The Time Traveler's Wife before my 2hr flight home. I gather that this was her first (her first in a very long list of quickly turned out books) and was (from what I've heard) the one everyone loves (even if you're not really a Picoult fan like myself). So I had to read it and mom had bought it for her flight in May.

I did enjoy it, it makes you think about things from a different perspective (like The Pact, which I actually didn't enjoy that much). I must say after reading it (and it's atrocious ending!) I wouldn't know what I would do in a similar situation (touch wood that I'll never find out!). I think it's such a moral conundrum that there really is no right answer that a parent could give. This story makes you think ... and if you like that in a book (which I do) then it's one you should definitely be reading, even tho it's not going to help you make your own mind up about the rights or wrongs of the situation, it'll make you think about the difficulty of parental decision making and how to balance your love of two (or more) children. Which is probably impossible in a life or death situation anyway.

Oh, and I gather they're in movie making mode already for this one (staring Cameron Diaz, I think?)

> Follow Jodi Picoult on Twitter:

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Book Cover for The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. JacobsAvoiding shellfish was easy. The stoning of adulterers proved a little more difficult - and potentially controversial. Was it enough to walk up to an adulterer and gently touch them with a stone? Even that could be grounds for accusations of assault, especially with female adulterers in Manhattan. So what's a good Bible-reading boy to do? Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in head first and attempt to obey the hundreds of less-publicized rules. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal, and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes. Jacobs immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, fights idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations - much to his wife's chagrin. His beard grows so unruly that he is mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He tours a Kentucky-based Creationist museum, dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and studies scripture with Jehovah's witnesses. And he wrestles with the seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first century brain, yielding unexpected ephiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers secular and religious, The Year Of Living Biblically is part York Notes to the bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down...

Pahahahaha, now this is a fabulous book and I'm actually quite keen to read his first, The Know-It-All. I like the way he writes and being quite certainly anti organised religion myself (let me remind you that that says nothing of faith, people) I think it's a marvelous idea for a year-long experiment. And that said, I don't much like the way it ended ... I mean, I guess there's no other way for it. His year was up. But I think I would've liked an "after" chapter, discussing what he kept in his real life from his biblical year. Because, don't get me wrong, I think there's a lot of cool things one can steal from organised religion (all of them really) without needing to be a church-going fundamentalist. I like the Jew's Friday Night Supper (Shabbat) ritual and I think one day when I have a family I'd like to have a weekly family dinner night (needn't be a Friday), including some extended family. I think it's a fab idea to have a tradition where your kids know that once a week you're sitting down for dinner (at a table, something we did rarely as kids) and interacting with your family, discussing your day etc. Granted this should ideally be a part of everyday, but I think it's nice to have something special too. I also am in-line with just about all moral tradition, which is a lot of what religions are trying to teach.

That said, it was fascinating to read about some of the lesser known more hysterical (fanatical?) rules that the Bible dishes out. One of my favourite bits was how he compared the fact that the Bible mentions homosexuality 6 times ... the exact same number of times that it mentions "the law of fair weights and measures". And as he so truthfully points out, no one is out there "focusing their wrath" on improperly calibrated weigh stations?

So for me, this book had many laugh out loud moments. I can't say whether a staunch believer in religion will feel the same, but I'd recommend it!

> Follow A.J. Jacobs on Twitter

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Book Cover for The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaLate one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to 'My dear and unfortunate successor'. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of - a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright - a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions - a captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful - and utterly unforgettable.

I actually really liked this book, although Varen thought it dragged around the middle. It's quite detailed and having not actually read Bram Stoker's Dracula (that I can remember, although I think I've seen the film?), a lot was new to me (obviously not the basics like garlic and holy water!). The one thing that was marginally disappointing tho was that I think the discovery of "the mother" was supposed to be this huge twist, when in fact you see it coming for chapters. If you like Vampire-type stories and have an interest in history then this is probably a good read for you :)

A Reminder

Oops ... and I forgot to remind all the Joburg bloggirls that the lunch will be on Sunday :) Looking forward to seeing you all there ;)

Consider this a mere addendum to my post below ...

Cop Stop

So yesterday was unusual. On my usual drive home from work at around 4pm, I got stopped (on a back-road even) by the cops. The asked to check my license which I happily handed over. Cop-stops have never really bothered me before cause I don't have anything to worry about. Or so I thought. Turns out my drivers license expired 2 weeks ago. Eep.

There's no warning letter, they just expect that you'll remember that 5 years later you need a renewal. Hello? I barely ever look at my drivers, mostly I am just showing it to other people. Hell, I handed it over to two airport check-in counter people in the last week and none of them noticed it either.

So this nice lady cop who is checking my license proceeds to call over a guy cop. I hop in my car (had my bag locked in the boot as a anti-hijack precaution) and try my best not to freak out about the injustice (I mean, if I'd know, I would obviously not be driving around willy-nilly without a valid license, I'm just not that sorta girl) and of course, try desperately to get my driver's license back into my clutches ... after our Mozambique experience, I remain suspect about these things. Now this man-cop is a scary looking guy and he starts telling me that it's a R600 fine. Now I must tell you here that Cops scare me. In South Africa, I don't believe we have one of those places where little kids feel safe around their local policemen. Hell, forget little kids, I don't feel safe. And it's not really about the police themselves. It's the really scary people pretending to be police and trying to get your personal details etc. There are plenty of these stories, they may be true, they may be urban legends, but it does not leave me feeling warm and cuddly when surrounded by the men in blue uniforms. And that all says nothing about the (often blatant, like when Varen got out of a ticket with a mere Litchi water) corruptness of them (and I know, I know, they earn a pittance and I firmly believe they should be paid more and it should become a respectable career choice, but it's not, okay so let's move on). And as such, I have no friggin clue if he's telling me the truth about the fine amount or just making up the number that he thinks he'd like to earn off this little oversight of mine. Sigh. It's sad when your average citizen (that's me) doesn't trust the people in authority (that'd be the cops).

I try to argue with him and he asks me some weird but innocuous questions (do I work? yes. Where do I live? [insert Vague Greater Suburb Name here]. All the while he's freaking me out more and I'm doing my best to concentrate and not give away any specific details about myself) and then asks me how much I think I should pay. R200 I guess ... I mean I'm only 2 weeks over on this and hello, how much is it gonna cost me anyways to get the damn thing renewed. So he's hum-ing and ha-ing over this and I ask if he's going to write me a fine cause I don't have any money with me. And in an instant he changes tack. Okay, he says, he'll let me off this time. Thanks very much I say, I'll look into renewing it first thing tomorrow (I mean you know all government agencies are closed by 4pm).

So sigh, I survived and I didn't have to shell-out an inordinately large sum of Rond for a mere 2 week overdue driver's license ... which I wouldn't be if someone had just thought to remind me in the first place, I mean seriously, where's the service ;)

Pahahahahahahahahahahaha. Actually I've just found the South African Government's Website detailing Driver's License whatnot and they say quite clearly: "Although the expiry date appears on your licence, a renewal notification will also be posted to you." And the lady-cop was trying to tell me it was my fault when I nicely explained that I didn't receive a notification. I mean obviously, it is partly my fault ... but as I said before, who bothers to read their driver's license on a regular basis? I mean really.

So, in light of this I have found some very useful online information regarding driver's license renewal's in Johannesburg (and I'm kindly telling all of you this because my google search on the topic was pretty useless!). Here's a list of all the Joburg Traffic Departments. FYI. a word to the wise, you can actually only renew your driver's license at these 3 departments: Midrand Licensing Department, Randburg Licensing Department and Sandton Licensing and Testing Department. And here's a really handy outline of the basic process you'll have to go thru, thanks Brannor McThife.

Anyhoo, sadly I won't be able to do a thing about it till Monday, being that it's after 8am already this morning, I doubt I could get thru their queues in a manageable time today ... plus I have a lunch date with the bunch from The Big Corporate - which I have to drive to, I can tell you, I'm freaking out a little. Varen says the chances of getting stopped again are unlikely, but the worry still woke me at 3am this morning. And I went on to have a dream where they wanted to fine me R25000 for my expired license ... but then the lady writing out the fines (she was in a weird box / stall type thing and all the admin was being handed to her by the cops actually pulling people over) lost my license, so she gave me a discounted fine of R5500 (discount? It's still a giant chunk of change, people!) So ye, it's freaking me out :)

So, could all you South African's reading now haul out your wallets or whatever and please check when your's expires :) Thanks.

The rest of the evening was decidedly quiet. And I know I'm overdue on about 4 book reviews, I'm hoping I'll find the time this weekend :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Warming Up

Righto, still on my good(ish) mood streak so things seem a lot more back to normal. I mean yes there are things niggling at my brain, but for the most part I've been successfully blocking them out until they fade into nothingness ;) You know the sort of ridiculous issues that one gets stressed over but really, can do nothing about whatsoever.

So moving along. I finally downloaded the pics from the weekend and added one of the Black Label Irises to Tuesday's post. I think it's a fab pic ;)

Last night was lovely and quite at home. I attempted (what was I thinking?) a quiche based on what I'd learned from mom's uber bake-a-thon on the weekend. I've learnt a thing or two for next time and it certainly wasn't inedible (Varen ate till the dish was clean!). What's fab is it's pretty healthy (it's a crustless quiche) with lots of veg and so easy to make (once you get the hang of kitchen-type things). Sometimes I dont' know why I cook tho, I get very little pleasure from it ... although I keep trying in the hopes that it will somehow give me some. I get so frustrated and it never quite turns out the way I planned. The only time it's worked out perfectly is a Mexican Chicken dish I made up out of my head. That remains my signature dish ... hmm, must make it again soon ;)

We also went out and did a little shopping. I was particularly looking for cat litter and bio-gel. I'd heard from a friend of my mom's while in Cape Town that you can actually use a Mexican Chimenea indoors, without piping the chimney outside. All you needed was some cat litter for the base (or sand or whatever) and this bio-gel stuff. It's long-burning, smoke free and odourless (mostly, unless you're up close) and creates a fabulous warmth. We tried it out last night and are completely thrilled with the results :)

So the evening was spent in our recently warmed lounge, eating quiche and watching Weeds S4. Lovely :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

Well I am in a much better mood this morning :) Varen & I got to spend a little quality time at home yesterday afternoon (until he got annoyed with Henna for making him chase her round the garden for about 15 minutes cause she just wouldn't come inside!). And then I went out for dinner with Band.

Logo for Cafe SophiaWas fabulous to see her again, even under the guise of handing over her old Bookclub books :) We tried out a new little tapas bar in Greenside called Cafe Sophia (no discernible web prescence, sadly ... but it's opposite Cafe Flo). I will be going back. They have a fab range of cocktails (although we stuck to the red wine) and dinner was delightful. I love picking from a wide variety of flavours and their pricing works according to plate combinations. We decided to have 8 plates at R106 (or thereabouts) which was perfect for two girls who weren't completely starved. Band ended with chocolate & banana spring rolls and I just tried their espresso cup of Spanish Hot Chocolate (I think it's pretty much just liquid chocolate with a splash of milk or something). It was fab.

Updated 29Aug2008: Yay, Cafe Sophia has just recently been added to Dining Out :)

Yesterday I also tried Teriyaki Experience for lunch (since Varen did nothing to keep our fridge stocked while I was away this weekend). It's recently come to South Africa and opened in Chili Lane (Rivonia). The food was tasty, I must admit, but the portions sizes are huge and you're certainly paying for it. I think I'd be far more likely to go back if they had a half portion (at half the price!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sigh, It's Tough Being Back

So here I am, back in the office, less than enamoured with the idea of being here. I dunno why ... for the first time ever, coming home was not what it's supposed to have been and that's just left me off-kilter completely.

Lilies in Black Label quarts bottlesI can't explain it, it's not like anything I can put my finger on ... The rest of the weekend in Cape Town was family-filled. The memorial was on Sunday afternoon at 4pm. We arrived at my aunt & uncle's place in Hout Bay at 2pm to set up and get prepared. We ended up leaving at around 20h30 that evening. It was a long and exhausting day. My uncle did a speech mostly outlining the facts of Gum's life and I adjusted my blog-post and read that. We had a beautiful flower arrangement on arrival ... Twenty (his nickname) Black Label (his tipple of choice) quarts, each with a single white iris all in a line down the entrace. It looked lovely.

On Monday, Mom, Bandi, Peeb, Marga & I went down to our beach cottage for lunch. It wasn't a brilliant day, it was super windy, but I think we all just needed the time away. And I do love any time I get to spend there now that it's no longer just half an hour's drive away! Sadly it was punctuated by us all pointing out where we wanted our ashes scattered when the time came. Amazing how any death in the family makes you face your own mortality.

And then it was time to head home. We were partially delayed on the Cape Town side, sitting in a giant tent which is masquerading as their departure gates while they're busy with construction. Luckily we didn't end up being too late landing (only about 15mins off our scheduled time). Was fab seeing Varen and my buns again (I missed 'em!) although I still smeeled of dog so they weren't too thrilled to see me ;) And now it's back to the grind ...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fab New Bag

Okay, so here's an unusual Saturday afternoon update ... it's that or help my mom bake for tomorrow's memorial / wake (none of us can decide what the right term to use is since we're not religious and won't be having a funeral service of any sort. I figure it's a memorial cause we'll be remembering Gum ... Any opinions?).

Anyhoo. So I flew down to Cape Town on Thursday late afternoon / early evening ... from Lanseria nogal. I must say I was quite impressed. Checking in was speedy and efficient, I guess cause at the moment only Kulula offers flights from there ... and there are only 3 flights to Cape Town a day (not sure where else they're flying to from there, but my point is, there is far less air traffic and hence nothing in the way of the par-for-the-course crowds one finds whenever flying from Ort). Varen & I had a quick bite at their only restaurant and were thrilled to enjoy the open-air deck (probably ideal to just visit if you have any young boys interested in aeroplanes!).

My flight was on time (a luxury I have long since forgotten with most regional flights these days!). Sadly however, I couldn't listen to any audio books on my podcast as planned since the plane noises (and all the bizarrely chatty people around me) were just too loud. At least I took my real book along just in case ;)

Friday I went shopping with Mom to stock up on all the ingredients she needed for her share of Sunday's baking and then we went to collect the Peeb (and I got a look round her & Button's new flat - jeez, but it is big ... although the lack of discernable decor / furnishings are not really my style ;) but at least they have the chance to spread out now and a lovely view over Cape Town /* a little jealous */) and went thru to Hout Bay to visit Marga (my gran) and my cousins.

I gave Marga a book I bought for her ... and she was even more thrilled than I expected. I think it's really her sort of read :) And it was fab to catch up with the family in general.

Logo for Cape Town Fish MarketThat evening, the folks, Peeb & I had dinner at CTFM in the V&A Waterfront. What a horrendous experience. Our theory is that the restaurant has just gotten a little too big for itself and hence rather unmanageable ... which just ends up for a shoddy experience for patrons. But dad had a R500 voucher for the place from the St Luke's Hospice Auction so we persevered. Dad sent his food back cause it arrived cold (it took absolute ages to actualyl get the food in the first place either). Peeb & I had sushi ... sadly because we were sitting at a table "outside", it was quite a hassle to keep wandering all the way round to get inside to their sushi-go-round. And we struggled to find anything we were interested in when we went back - it sucks only being able to carry 2 plates at a time! I must say I thoroughly enjoyed their salmon roses. While at the sushi-go-round, Peeb & I overheard a conversation between the manager and some other eaters. Seems the waiter had miscounted (he counted an extra plate) and over charged them. The manager promptly told them the bill could not be changed and the waiter would have to cover the cost of the mistake (this is apparently standard practice there). A good thing we overheard this because when our bill came there were no less than 4 mistakes adding up to R88. It didn't seem fair that our waiter who seemed barely capable of understanding English would be charged for an extra plate of food that didn't exist (when I'd eventually gotten sick of waiting for something interesting to pass by on the sushi-go-round, I went back to the table & ordered what I wanted. When the bill came, those plates were on our bill as separate orders as well as part of the colour-coded plates he'd counted on our table). Mom promptly called the manager over. Luckily we did manage to get our bill corrected and our poor waiter was not out of pocket. But I wonder how often this happens to them because I don't think many people eating there would assume such an injustice is taking place - I mean waiters earn so little generally as it is! You can sort of justify it if they spill a plate of food or drop a bottle of wine, because then the restaurant has lost the ability to sell that food and it has to be paid for somehow ... but to charge them for food that was never lost or didn't exist in the first place just seems so unfair! Anyhoo, just something to keep in mind if you do happen to enjoy dining there ...

This morning has already been quite eventful :) Mom has started on her mini-quiches (I'm taking notes!) and carrot cake (yummy!) for tomorrow and Dad took me to the Farmer's Market at the 3 Arts (I remember watching the Garbage & Placebo concert there way back in the day!). It was fab and I was quite glad not to have eaten yet because there were so many good things to taste. Everytime I come here there's some new produce market or another and I just wish I could find some more in Joburg :) I did buy some yummy Snoek Pate to take back to Varen ... although I know he was hoping for an actual Snoek that we could braai but, this did not seem like a practical item to take back to Joburg as hand luggage ;)

Tulip Bag by WrenAnd then (highlight of my day so far!) I headed to Constantia Village to meet Wren and buy one of her fabulous bags (bigger & better pic to follow shortly) :) We had a wonderful time chatting away for at least an hour ... and here's a handy tip: She's got a discounted price for locals (since the postage is cheaper and the exchange rate exorbitant ... plus, local is lekker!). I love that my new bag is completely unique and made by someone tangible who, it's such a novelty and you just don't get that very often :)

That's my trip so far. Will no doubt next update when I'm back at work (but I sorta felt I should get all this out of my system now and not leave it all to a marathon update then ... I'm a busy girl and I know it's sometimes a lot to read at once!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off to the Cape of Storms

Last night turned out to be pretty cool, Koet & Nambi came over for a braai (yes in these freezing temperatures, but the girls didn't step one foot outside, I can assure you!)

I didn't sleep very well again last night. I think my subconscious is acutely aware that this weekend is not all about fun and games and a good old catch up with my family ... anyhoo, that said I'm not really in a very bloggy pace this morning (was in early so I can get to the airport on time - for the first time in my life this is stressing me out?!).

So, I may find myself blogging from my folks home computer while I'm away ... or I may just wanna wait till I get back. I dunno yet, so I'll be back writing on Tuesday at the latest :) Have a good one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Red Letter Day

Last night was back to normal. Varen went to gym, I skipped at home in the garden with my bunnies. I've figured out why Bell is thumping tho. She was perfectly normal till our newly moved in neighbour came outside with her giant black lab to play ball ... Belly wans't impressed. She immediately took up a position in the middle of the garden (I assume so she could see the entire garden from where she sat) and started thumping. I read up online a little about it last night and it seems she is trying to warn Henna & I about the nearby danger. She's also trying to intimidate (I can only assume this is because she hasn't yet seen the size of the dog) the danger and protect her territory. Didya know bunnies are quite territorial? Anyhoo, Henna get's quite girly and goes to hide in the house at the first sign of the dog next door while Bell is all "bring it on" trying to play top dog (scuse the pun!).

Varen & I settled in to watch a documentary he'd downloaded from the History Channel, called Life After People. It was quite interesting although I was quite disappointed in their American-ness. They visited Chernobyl since it's an amazing reflection of how animals and plants take over human spaces after all the people were evacuted (and obviously have not moved back!). I was disappointed that they didn't visit our nearby Kolmanskop in Nambia for a desert contrast.

Oh, and before I forget, let me tell you about my day in the office yesterday. We played a hearty round of Red Letter (can you imagine?). For those of you who don't remember this game from your days on the playground, even I had to look up the rules :) I'd made a random comment about someone's name saying that they'd suck at Red Letter and so it ensued that we had a practise round across the office to figure out how the game worked. It's not very much fun tho ... although we did have quite a laugh at ourselves!

Oh, and a quick reminder to Joburg girl-bloggers to get your name up for the July lunch ... Angel is supposed to be choosing a venue for us, so go nag her ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Read Something New

Not really in the mood for posting this morning. Things have just been getting to me for the last little while ... traffic (seriously!), work (I wish specs weren't changed long after the work was actually done!) and Varen & I had a huge fight last night. And being that we're both particularly stubborn and I like to get it out of my system while he prefers to withdraw, this does not make for a very pleasant evening. Luckily we did eventually manage to bury the hatchet (no, not in each other's backs!) before bed. But I think I still have residual frustration at the giant waste of an evening.

I think I really need this weekend in Cape Town with my family. So ye, not really in a very good blogging place right now ... so let me rather tell you about some new blogs I've been reading instead.

First off is an Aussie blog called ... Can You Point Me To The Bar? I think I first found it because Miss Em left a comment here. So far I've really been enjoying it :) And today I learnt something interesting on it ... apparently the world's oldest blogger (a 108 year old Australian woman named Olive) died last weekend. The fact that she died is very sad (jees, 108!) but now I'm really curious to start reading her blog!

Second is a newly started blog by a friend of mine's wife called Se7en. They have seven (yes, 7!) kiddies under the age of 11 and she is home-schooling them all. Sheesh, exhausts me just thinking about it. Either way, it certainly makes for interesting reading ... and I guess sorta knowing them makes it more fun for me too :)

Third is one I've been reading for a while that's also only recently made it onto my side-bar list, Wren. Wren is a Cape Town based designer with a fabulously creative and colourful blog :) I'm dying to buy one of her bags, as soon as I find a colour scheme (Wren, if you're listening, green would be magical!) that screams me! I was very close to getting one for my bday earlier in the year, I was just too nervous to commit to orange ... although it was stunning and (although sold) remains my favourite!

So, that should keep you busy for about half an hour ;)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Movie Weekend

So it was a very lazy, very grey (the sky I mean, not my mood) weekend.

Friday night we went to try out a new "all you can eat" sushi spot (Sakura is getting a little expensive at R130 a shot, I can barely eat more than that anyway, which doesn't make it much of a saving!), Kung Fu Kitchen in Grant Ave, Norwood (their's is only R90). We had a large group so the initial order of sushi took ages to arrive but afterwards they were quite on the ball! I think the winners of the day were definitely the Salmon Rose California Rolls :) Yum. I'd go back ... well, I'd probably rather just go to a closer one, actually (since this is a typical Chinese-Style restaurant and you're definitely not visiting for their plastic decor!)

On Saturday we got a little admin done and planted some Elephant Grass (we brought it back from the farm last weekend) for the bunnies. This is apparently a real novelty for them because we haven't hidden it away and rationed them (like with the poor veggies that would barely get a chance to grow if we didn't!). Okay, so that's not a fabulous pic of Bell (it's better when it's a bit bigger tho!), but I just wanted you to get an idea of just how tall the grass is compared to these two tiny buns ;)

They've both already got quite comfortable climbing right up into the pot to eat it ... especially Henna, our resident foodie! And it seems Bell is going thru a bit of a teenage thing. She has been acting weird all weekend and has started thumping! She just sits in the same spot for a while and then as soon as you go near her, she thumps her back legs on the ground (it is loud enough to hear!) and prances off. I say prance because she looks rather like a lipizzaner horse or something, all upright with her ears in the air. It's mostly entertaining, but also a little frustrating when we're trying to catch them to get them back into their hutch. Needless to say I think the overcast weather is her ideal sort of day ;) But we soon settled down to watch a movie.

Ryan Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, an extremely shy young man living in a small town. He purchases a sex doll online and proceeds to introduce her to his brother and sister-in-law as his girlfriend. Despite the concerns of his friends and relatives, a local doctor notes that since Lars otherwise has a highly functional personality that threatens no one, this delusion is a sign that he is working through some personal issues and his loved ones should play along in the meantime. With some persuasion, the entire town eventually participates as well with growing enthusiasm for this unusual, but enjoyable, activity as Lars continues to pursue what he perceives as a deep and meaningful relationship with the doll.

Now this was a bit of a weird one. I think it's entertaining to watch and wonder just how accepting we all might be of a guy rocking up at our Office Party with a mannequin doll in a wheelchair. I guess there are some saving graces to living in a small town, eh? Needless to say, it's a very sweet heartfelt movie.

We followed this with a trip to the cinema to watch Hancock.

There are heroes. There are superheroes. And then there's Hancock. With great power comes great responsibility - everyone knows that. Everyone, that is, but Hancock.
Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock's well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but they always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough. As grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy. Hancock isn't the kind of man who cares what other people think - until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), and the sardonic superhero begins to realise that he may have a vulnerable side after all.
Facing that will be Hancock's greatest challenge yet - and a task that may prove impossible as Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), insists that he's a lost cause.

Paha, now this I really enjoyed. It's just good fun ... and I think has a lightness and amusement needed after things like Iron Man and The Hulk (the more action-type super-hero movies). I gather the Americans didn't especially enjoy this because of the lack of action tho. Their loss ;) I thought Will Smith was perfectly cast and was impressed but the mid-way turn of events that I didn't see coming (without giving too much away there!). Watch it for a laugh ;)

On Sunday we took a wander around Rosebank and bought a couple of new books. When we weren't watching movies, we were probably in bed reading this weekend ;) And went to watch Wanted (Varen's ill-chosen movie) and The Happening (because for some reason I keep expecting Midnight to make something on par with Sixth Sense again ... silly, I know!).

25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but while away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut. Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity - a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad’s death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers that this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: Carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutors, including the Fraternity’s enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. Slowly, he begins to realise there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye, and as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: He alone controls his destiny.

I tried to warn Varen in advance about this one ... I'd listened to Mark Kermode's Podcast review. And it was as rubbish as I was expecting. In fact, I was lost right after the first car-chase (about 10 minutes in) where Angie's Gone in 60 seconds training came in handy once again. I must say also tho that I think this is probably the only movie she's stared in that requires her to have more tattoo's than she actually does in real life! There is just so much that is ridiculous in this movie (even if you can get past the bending bullets) that it's not worth the characters spent going into them all. That said, everyone beware the blog-post of fate ;)

And then, after we came out and he admitted it was a poor choice he volunteered that we should see another movie to cleanse our minds ... unfortunately we chose The Happening. It's a tough day at the movies when you realise that Kung Fu Panda would probably have been a better movie choice! Anyhoo ...

Don't look for the answer. It's already too late. A lightning-paced, heart-pounding paranoid thriller about a family on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable event that threatens not only humankind, but the most basic human instinct of them all: Survival.
It begins with no clear warning. It seems to come out of nowhere. In a matter of minutes, episodes of strange, chilling deaths that defy reason - and boggle the mind in their shocking destructiveness - erupt in major American cities. What is causing this sudden, total breakdown of human behaviour?
For Philadelphia high school science teacher Elliot Moore, what matters most is finding a way to escape this mysterious and deadly phenomenon. Though he and his wife, Alma, are in the midst of a marital crisis, they hit the road - first by train, then by car - with Elliot's math teacher friend, Julian, and his eight-year-old daughter, Jess, heading for the Pennsylvania farmlands, where they hope they'll be out of reach of the grisly, ever-growing attacks. But it soon becomes clear that no one, and nowhere, is safe.

Meh, where to begin. Let's start with what they refer to above as "A lightning-paced, heart-pounding paranoid thriller". Me thinks this movie might even be more tedious and slow that War of the Worlds, lightning-paced and heart-pounding it was not. This movie is fine (it sure beats his Lady in the Water!). But well thought out, it is not. Without giving too much away, let's just say that an awful lot of people appear to have been killed by this "inexplicable and unstoppable event" yet in the last scenes of the movie (3 months later) there was no property or financial or economic crisis ... I mean just picture what would happen if, say, 50% of just Gauteng's population (forget about large-scale like the whole of the American East Coast) was magically killed in the space of 24 hours. 3 months later, things would still be in serious recovery. Now that, that would be a more interesting movie ... that should give you an idea how dull The Happening actually was!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Righto, so there is plenty of catching up for me today, not least of all at work and on my rss-reader ... because I did end up going home yesterday at around 12h30. Sadly I did not manage to avoid the involuntary un-burdening of breakfast in the company loo's ... I was literally on my way out the door. But hey, I guess I should be greatful it didn't stirke at any point on my 20 minute drive home. I literally spent the rest of the day on the couch under a duvet (I was freezing the entire day), reading or sleeping. Thankfully it seems to only have either a) been something I ate (can't imagine what) or b) a 24hour bug. because I managed to keep down the toast and apple I had at around 3pm and some chicken soup Varen brought home for me for dinner.

And today I'm back feeling just about back on top form :) I will say tho that when I was sick for a week back in 2006, I remember Woolies chicken soup being an awful lot better ... it was more of a broth than the tinned chicken soup they have today (or maybe Varen just bought the wrong one?). Either way, it was not very tasty and I can't imagine why anyone who wasn't ill (and going for something particularly bland) would bother eating it. Sigh.

But I must say, I'm glad I'm feeling better because I have a lunch with some of my old colleagues scheduled for later and an all-you-can-eat sushi night tonight ... I think I'll take it easy at lunch and hope that by the time we start on the sushi I can eat to my hearts content without worrying if I'll be seeing it again shortly!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not Feeling Great

So last night we went for a surprise dinner at Varen's folks. By surprise I mean he got home and said hey, why don't we go for dinner there tonight and proceeded to phone his mom and invite us over. Which was handy because we didn't have much in the way of dinner ... although neither really did they since they'd just got back from almost 3 weeks in USA & Canada the night before (which was another reason for our visit).

Was fab to catch up. Varen's dad managed to bring back the most divine Reindeer skin. You can not believe how soft and think their fur is!

So, needless to say I didn't do any skipping last night ... and I'm feeling quite ill this morning. Wasn't at all sure I was even going to be in this morning, but here I am, pushing thru. But I tell you, the moment I feel inclined to throw up in the work loo's, I'm heading home! So far so good tho :) Sheesh. It's weird how everytime I get pangs of illness (which is very rarely!), I have flash backs to the only time I've been memorably sick as an adult - a 7day stomach virus on return from my Egypt trip. Now that was a nightmare I am loathe to repeat!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

She Escaped!

So firstly, I finally got round to uploading the pics in the weekend farm post so check 'em out. I especially like the one at the end :)

Secondly, Mom reminded me that today is a week since Gum died. A week ago he was barely living his last few hours. A week. Somehow it seems like it wasn't that far away. Everyday it just gets further tho. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my few days in Cape Town with the family next weekend. I think it's been especially hard for mom who has had to deal with the admin side of things since my gran & uncle & fam are all still in Namibia and my aunt lives about an hour outside of Cape Town. She's a practical woman, but I wish I was there with her at the moment.

Anyhooo. The real news is that Bell escaped yesterday evening. I got home and let them out of their hutch and headed upstairs to go to the loo, fetch my book, find my skipping rope (you know the sort of stuff). I wasn't gone long, maybe 5 minutes, if that even! And I went downstairs and saw Henna happily munching on the grass. She cutely ran up to me as I went outside and I started to wonder where Bell had gotten to. She wasn't on the grass, I checked inside & under her hutch (under is a favourite hiding place of hers) and inside the house. Still nothing. I rushed outside again following a gut feel and I was right.

Let me explain. We live in a complex and all the houses & gardens are joined together. because we live on a slight downhill, the developers made a hole in each adjoining wall of the garden so that when it rains, the water can wash away without flooding the garden (although when it really rains, the 10cm hole is barely big enough and the garden generally floods anyway!). There is also another little hole in the wall that doesn't really seem to go anywhere. When we first got Bell, we patched up the holes with some plastic mesch-type stuff. Within the first week, the gardeners (they randomly come in an mow the lawn ... I'm thinking of getting a lock for the gate actually) had removed the mesch from the hole leading into the garden to our right. I promptly used an old plastic plant pot to fill the hole, it fitted pretty much perfectly. This did the trick until about a month ago when Bell, curious as ever, realised she could move the pot around (by biting the edge and lifting her head ... cute, actually!). I promptly moved the cat-box (the one they traveled to the farm in) in front of the hole instead (I figure since it doesn't rain in winter it should be fine for now ... but it's far from a permanent solution). Bell then discovered the next hole (luckily the one that doesn't seem to go anywhere!) and kept pulling the plastic mesch out of the hole herself. And then I'd replace it and she'd just remove it again. It was a bit of a game for about 5 minutes. So we blocked that hole up with stones.

Since we used the cat-box on our trip to the farm, I'd replaced the pot to block the hole and while I'd been upstairs, Belly had removed the pot and gone wandering thru the hole. Luckily a) there is no one living there at the moment (the previous owners had dogs - yikes!) and b) she hadn't got far (there are multiple rain-holes out of this garden too ... and it's at the edge of the complex, so even more scary!). I managed to get to her (at least they don't have a lock on their gate either!) and pick her up and get her back home. And naturally replaced the cat-box to block her new-found exit. Sigh. A little excitement I could've done without!

I did my skipping again yesterday afternoon and boy were my calves stiff this morning. A good sign, I feel :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Skip to my Lou

Not much to report. Except that yesterday afternoon I bought myself a skipping rope. Hysterical, I know. I decided that I need some sort of (cardio-type) exercise I can do at home because we are not getting to the gym nearly enough. Mostly because the buns really need their time in the late afternoon early evening for a run around the garden and to snack on the grass etc. and it just seems too cruel to deprive them of that. So I always intend to go to gym a bit later, but let's face it once you're home and have started relaxing (reading your book or whatever) it's very difficult to get into the mood to get changed and go out to gym only to come home and then have to start on dinner etc. So I decided I'd give skipping a bash. I can do it outside while I watch my bunnies and even listen to my podcasts at the same time (thank goodness for back-episodes!). So yes, that's about the gist of it.

Oh and my sleeping has been really weird lately. I fell asleep reading my book last night at 9pm and woke up with a start to find the lights off etc. I really didn't think I'd been asleep but apparently Varen had been up and about checking doors were locked and switching off lights all while I remained oblivious. Anyway, the crux of the problem is that even tho I fell asleep so early, I still could not drag my ass out of bed until 06h40 this morning (a full hour after the alarm goes off for the first time!!). Sigh. It's just too damn cold lately. Brrrr.

Oh, and I am so completely annoyed with Google Reader right now. I don't know what the hell is up with it at the moment but all the posts I've read seem to randomly "un-read" themselves ... it is very annoying and makes it damn difficult to know what I've read and what I haven't! Sadly since they upgraded a while back, the only option I have is to keep things un-read ... which is not really helpful in light of this issue, as you can imagine! And neither is their "Mark all as Read" since each subscription is taking so friggin long to load and then I have to check if in fact I've read all the items or there are some new ones ... sigh. Makes for a frustrating morning when all I'm trying to do is catch up on my blog-reading!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Q & A by Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup's spectacular debut novel opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all twelve questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question. Ram takes us on an amazing review of his own history -- from the day he was found as a baby in the clothes donation box of a Delhi church to his employment by a faded Bollywood star to his adventure with a security-crazed Australian army colonel to his career as an overly creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal. Swarup's Q & A is a beguiling blend of high comedy, drama, and romance that reveals how we know what we know -- not just about trivia, but about life itself. Cutting across humanity in all its squalor and glory, Vikas Swarup presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle between good and evil -- and what happens when one boy has no other choice in life but to survive.

I absolutely loved this book :) I loved the way it was written, the story construction not by chronological order but rather following the order of how Ram learnt the answers to each of the questions thru his life experience. I will tell you though, there's a twist that even I didn't see coming at the end :) I'd really recommend this!

Perfectly Relaxed

Hmmm, Monday morning with frozen fingers ... you'd think I'd be used to that by now after a weekend in the ice-cold Free State. Well, apparently not.

The weekend was perfect! We left work early (14h30 or so) raced home and packed everything (food, clothes, bunnies) and waited for the girls (J9-double0blonde and Squeak) to arrive and once they did, managed to tetris-load the car, squeezing in every last thing :)

We drove through and made it to the farm just after 7pm, but still in the dark. We got a fire going and the girls cooked a yummy Risotto. Sadly I was still not feeling all that well after our decadent night on Thursday (over did it a bit me thinks) but, I made up for my measly portion of delish Risotto by sneaking in the leftovers before breakfast on Saturday (I was up really early, okay?). We chilled in front of the fire playing Fluxx and relaxing before heading to bed.

Saturday, as I said, I was up early and reading my bed (and nibbling left-over Risotto) in bed. Then the everyone else started emerging and Varen & I got down to the business of making breakfast (Spinach, Red Pepper and Feta scrambled eggs, my favourite!) and we generally all chilled out in the sun, watching over the bunnies in their outside area (I was terrified they'd figure out how to hop over the sides and escape onto the farm!). Bell did seem to really enjoy climbing up onto the cat-box (how they travel in the car) and peering over the top of the wooden sides.

A bit later we all took a walk to see the bokkies and the sheeps (yeah, that was on purpose, I know it's not proper English) with their new little lambs (they look so funny with their spindly legs and those long pre-docked tails!). Then after a few hours of soaking up the winter sun, reading our books and watching over the buns, we moved inside (with the buns, of course!), charged up the fire and started playing a new game, Backpacker. We didn't really have lunch proper ... we rather snacked (Woolies muffins, chips and Lindt Chili chocolate!) and drank wine and chilled out.

Around 16h30 we headed outside to start up the braai and got dinner sorted. As soon as dinner was cooked, it was back to the warmth of the lounge to eat and continue with our games. Turns out Backpacker is pretty fun when you understand the rules (there was plenty of refering back for the first few games) and there are more than 2 players ;) And that was how we spent the rest of the evening. I won't even hazzard a guess at how many bottles of wine were polished off just on Saturday tho!

Sunday was just as relaxed, although the morning was far more freezing and we went straight from the comfort of our beds to the fire (newly started) in the lounge under duvets (with a brief interval for showering and breakfast - a delish fry-up by J9 & Squeak). We proceeded to read away the morning and eventually ventured outside around 12h30 to find it had turned into a lovely day (warm in the sunshine only tho!) and put the buns outside for a bit of fresh air and a run around on the grass (within the confines of their pen) and I took a stroll to see the sheeps one last time (and take soem photos, sadly I have yet to download them, so check back ;) ). At about 3pm we started the drive home. Varen seems to have got himself a little sick and was sneezing up a storm for the entire drive ... he wasn't feeling any better this morning either, I might add.

It was a perfect weekend break from Joburg and just what I needed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Degustation Plate

Okay, things forgotten in light of yesterday's memorial post are (in no particular order):

1) In a bizarre twist of fate, another person our family knows died on the same day as Gum. We didn't know him that well, but well enough to know he is being missed just as much (if not more since he is a fair amount younger!) as Gum. He was (now follow closely) my mom's ex-boss's wife's mom's husband :) That said, we knew him slightly better than that cause he was married to my Cape Town psychologist (a truly wonderful genuine lovely lady!) and they both lived in the small dorp of Riebeck West (just down the road from my aunt). See, plenty of little connections there. His story is particularly sad because he was now suffering thru his 3rd and final bout of cancer ... and it'd spread to his brain. Sigh, clearly 02Jun was not a good day all round.

2) It turned out to be an even worse day than that by some added admin issues. Out of the blue I got a phonecall that afternoon from Citroen Northcliff (the good folks who'd sold me my zippy little motor). Seems there's been a little mix up they said. Turns out their incompetent sales person (well, he apparently no longer works there so that's where they're laying the blame, but really who honestly knows??) mixed up the registration of my car along with 2 others. They only picked this up when one of the mixed up cars was stolen. I've been driving around with the wrong licence plate since September! Forget just that, my insurance has been insuring a car with a VIN & Engine Number that are apparently not mine! You can just imagine how this cherry topped my day. Now let's see how the folks at the insurance & Netstar take it ... sigh

3) At least this is a good one ;) I'm happy to report that Henna seems to be successfully potty trained (no word on Bell yet). Yesterday afternoon while they were running around outside she came inside the house and peed in their potty. That's the fourth time she's done it (okay so it doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm just so impressed!). The downside, however, is that they are aiming for the smell to figure out where best to pee ... and despite being asked specifically not to, the maid insists on cleaning out the potty every single time she's here (that's twice a week). Which means we have to wait until they pee in the hosue again before we can expect them to be able to use it properly once again. Quite frustrating. I'm thinking of cunning places to hide the potty on the day's the maid comes ... who would've ever thought ?!? Oh and btw. the veggie garden is finally coming along (seems those holes in the bottom of the pot are a definite must-have for water-drainage!) and the buns have been enjoying a few tasty leaf varieties every so often. Oh, and did I tell you that Bell has started digging? She started her first hole on the weekend and it has now become a sort of dual hole. I can't tell if she's digging to get at tasty grass roots or because she's trying to make herself a burrow ... fingers crossed for the first option!

Last night Varen & I went for dinner with JofH (YogaCherryl is off yoga-ing in Hong Kong, lucky thing!) and Maroon at a new restaurant called Faff. It's taken over the premises where the Singing Fig used to be. It was lovely. I think the best thing about this restaurant is the concept of their Degustation Plate, which allows you to try up to 3 dishes from each course. Sadly you can't mix and match with these (I would've liked to have mixed up my mains with the pasta's but it wasn't allowed) so I only tried it for dessert. But let's start at the beginning. I started with their Twice baked Gruyere cheese soufflé. I don't really know what I was expecting from this but it sounded delish so I tried it :) The cheese flavoured sauce was good, but the whole dish was a bit too much like a scone with cheese sauce so, I think I'd try something else in future. For mains I had Polenta crusted salmon & crab cakes, grilled radicchio, creamed potatoes with ginger & honey jus. This was very good, but 3 cakes were far too many for me to finish. Varen had a combination of the Meat Mains and said it was very good, so good he didn't even need his knife to cut it, the side of his forked worked just as well ;) JofH and Maroon both had a variety of pasta's and pronouced the House Gnocchi the best they'd ever had. Dessert was an excercise in sheer indulgence. Ordinarily I wouldn't have had dessert but it seemed to good to resist and had a variety of their Chocolate truffel tart, Lemon tart & crème fraiche and House made Belgium chocolate truffles. Decadent and far far too rich for any of us (except JofH, we all indulged in their Degustation Plate for our desserts) to finish! Oooh, I felt it this morning - a combination of the late night (11pm and still waking up at 5:40am this morn!), the wine and the rich food!

Anyhoo, we're off to the farm this weekend with J9-double0blonde and Squeak, I'm so looking forward to it :)

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