Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Older

So yesterdya I downloaded The Gimp to get past my lack of Adobe Photoshop issues. And it's been hugely successful for the minor requirements I had just to keep my blog picturesque ;) So thanks to that, I've been able to continue with my Singapore and Thailand retrospective. Yay.

Last night was pretty quiet again. I think after last week we kinda needed a quiet one! Last week and yesterday. Yesterday was a tough one for Varen & I and I think we just needed some down time together. We again lazed with the bunnies. They're so lovely and I can't believe how much Henna has grown in a week. And she is jumping so much higher than Bell ever did ... luckily she doesn't seem that in control of her powers yet ;)

In other news, it's my birthday tomorrow. Yup, I'm getting older (wiser? probably not). I can't believe I'm about to be 28. Where did my twenties go? Where is my life headed from here? Sigh, birthdays always seem to bring out those sort of life questions.

Happily I'm taking leave next week, thank goodness for South Africa and it's multitude of public holidays :) And my Mom will be flying up from Cape Town tomorrow too - the best birthday gift ... although it was mine to her :) And then Daddio will be joining us next Thursday (he couldn't get leave at month end) for the 4-day weekend and we'll all be heading down to Varen's family farm in the Free State. I'm really looking forward to it :)

But it does, however, mean that I will not be posting till the 5th May. Have a fabulous week :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interest Rate Worry

Aaargh. Today is not a great day.

Yesterday started out the badness with a company-wide Adobe audit. I've had to delete my Photoshop ... which does not bode well for resizing my pics for the blog. So I may just be pictureless for a while :( It also kinda hinders the retrospective posts project I was working on! But I did manage to finish up my whole Southern Africa trip. Sadly I only barely managed to get started on the Singapore & Thailand one. But keep your eyes peeled for more :)

Then I headed home and spent some quality time with the buns ... they are so cute and half an hour with them does wonders to calm me. After Varen got home we went out for some sushi at Sakura, we haven't had sushi in absolute ages! Sadly they've put their all-you-can-eat special up to R130 ... but they haven't increased the prices of the individual plates. Starting to not be worth it for me anymore.

And then once home we watched another good old movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

Andy Dufresne, is sent to Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and secret lover. He is very isolated and lonely at first, but realises there is something deep inside your body, that people can't touch and get to....'HOPE'. Andy becomes friends with prison 'fixer' Red (Morgan Freeman), and Andy epitomises why it is crucial to have dreams. His spirit and determination, leads us into a world full of imagination, filled with courage and desire. Will Andy ever realise his dreams...?

I loved this movie the first time I saw it. I loved the story when I read Stephen King's book (that the movie was based on). And I loved it again last night.

I loved it even more because we sat watching with the bunnies. I got my first licks from Henna who seems to be settling in more now :) This was an amazing moment! Hard to believe she's only been with us a week now.

This morning I have such mixed emotions. I'm so excited for my Mom's upcoming visit and Daddio joining us for the 2nd long weekend. We'll even get to see my cousin when she's up here for a school dragon-boating competition. It's gonna be awesome :) But things with Varen, although good, seem to have some underlying issues. Which is sad. I'm a little worried about us right now. They're all financial ... which seems so superficial. But in a relationship, you have to have a balance of all aspects and this one for us is supremely out of kilter.

I'm a saver. By nature, he's not. Although these days I know he's trying to be, probably mostly for me. He earns quite a bit more than I do, but it all seems to get spent each month without actually buying a thing! He's bought the house we live in (I do pay rent, but it's not a huge amount) and he's bought himself a fancy-ass car (he's a boy, apparently that's what they do). He's even spent a fortune furnishing the house in the last few months. But even tho the decisions might have been sound when he first bought these things, with the constantly rising interest rate, it's just costing more and more each month.

And I just want to book my holiday :( Yes, I know it sounds like I'm the frivilous one ... worried about my holiday while he tackles the bond but I'm sure the exchange rate is getting worse as each day goes by and we have yet to actually book (the trip is priced in US dollars). And on top of that, paying for the trip is not the end of the story ... we need some spending money. The plan was to save that between booking the trip and actually going on the trip. Sigh. Needless to say I am worried. I *need* my annual International Trip (almost physically. Hey, other people have smoking!). I have my heart set on these tours I chose. I can easily afford to do any one of them (I have half a bond for a way cheaper place that's technically already sold). I don't know how to fix this and it's driving me batty. I don't want to give up on my holiday and I sure as hell don't want to go without him.

Will this situation ever come right? Will planning next year's holiday be easier, less of a financial strain? Or will it just be worse because the exchange rate has gone up to 20% and his repayments have tripled from what he was originally paying. Never before have I been quite so glad that I didn't buy my own home. I just friggin' wish the sale would concluded on the place Bean & I own. Property is suddenly on a slippery slope here in SA. The prices sky-rocketed and now with the number of people reconsidering an international relocation, there are more houses for sale than people who can afford to be buying with the current interest rate! Aaargh. And my next psycho appointment is in May :(

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Load Shedding & Historical Posts

So not much news ... I played Action Cricket last night and we had a very convincing win :) With some very good bowling by the girls ... mostly because it was to some very inexperienced boys. Sigh, all's fair tho, right?

In the most entertaining news tho, the Hopefully Separated Husband was playing (for his new team, he left our previous department too) last night. And The Ex-Office Crazy was there to cheer him on (or should I say to mostly just hold his stuff ... she's a very dull girl!). > If this makes no sense to you, catch up on the story here and here. Needless to say we didn't even make eye-contact. Although I was hugely tempted to go up to her and say "Hi Tammy" (obviously not her real name ... but her Stalker-name). Pahahaha. I think that would've been great. But I'm an adult and above such things in real life ... but my brain still revels in coming up with them.

Then I went home to find Varen bundled up in bed with his runny nose in the dark. Load-shedding. Sigh. Last night I found out just how disastrous load-shedding actually is. How does anyone plan dinner these days? Or is everyone sans-generator braai-ing on a weekly basis these days? It was a nightmare. He ended up going to get take out Nando's while I lazed in a hot bath. Sounds rude since he was previously bundled in bed, I'm sure. But actually, I had just come from where the nearest powered-up Nando's was (en route home from Action Cricket) and he didn't think to mention it when I told him I was heading home. *And* I 'd been out previously to scout around some of our nearer take-out spots ... but alas they had no power either. *And* he actually waited till I'd given up on the idea of dinner and was in the bath before announcing gallantly that he would go ... since he is the boy and shall provide (yes, he actualyl says things like that!). So it was very sweet of him and much appreciated ... naturally shortly after we'd finished eating and gone to bed, every light in the house burst into light. We couldn't even prepare any lunch for today. BFL doesn't stand a chance in these load-shedding times! It's hugely annoying.

Oh, and I almost forgot ... on top of all that Varen had missed my Action Cricket game to go home and clean the bomb site that was our kitchen. The maid is apparently in hospital (eep! Never a good sign in this country which is rife with AIDS) and we'd sorta left the house in rather a state after Saturday night. I'm so spoilt :)

In other news, I'm very excited about two blogging projects I've set myself for the remainder of my free-time online (or rather till I'm outta this place and set up at the new one). The first I started yesterday. I've decided to do some historical posts about some very specific events, my travels. They're not really going to be deep and meaningful, but more itinerary based with pictures. I think they'll be pretty interesting (naturally) and keep me busy (more important) :) So the very first of the series is up and you can find it in the Southern Africa 2004 section. Keep checking back till the section is complete. Soon to follow are the Singapore + Thailand 2005 and Egypt 2006 sections :) The second is still under wraps till I'm back in May (yay, I'm taking leave next week while Mom is visiting, can not wait!).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm Resigned

So yesterday was a busy busy day for moi. I got the official offer of employment from JofH's company. Exciting times. And yesterday it all fell neatly into place. I discussed it with my current Manager ... and in his own words "There's nothing I can even say to convince you to stay". He actually apologised to me for the current lack of work situation. You see, before I had my chat with him, I discovered that the project I've been waiting to get involved in has been put on hold (again) because of budget constraints ... so who knows how long this sheer boredom might've continued. At least now I know. Only until 26 May when I start at the new company :) I'm looking forward to it.

I put in a leave request for next week even ... I figure how can they justify no leave in my last month of work as I have *nothing* to hand over and it's not even as if I have any of my own work to do! So there you have it :) The papers are in, the contract has been gone over with a fine tooth comb (okay, so it's not signed yet, but it will be!). Things are looking up job-wise :)

What else? Yesterday was absolutely freezing (okay, so nothing actually froze but still!). And Varen's getting sick which meant gym was another write-off. I'm too afraid to go into the kitchen till later today (after the maid has been) ... so BFL is well and truly off the rails! Annoying but life-changing does not appear to be my strong suit. Other than that, Varen & I just lazed around watching Bones Season 2 with the bunnies.

Henna is still an absolute mission to pick up but Bell is just such an affectionate little girl. She was quite happy lying about on my tummy, letting me stroke her and licking my fingers in appreciation. I hope Henna will catch on soon :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Warm House

What a weekend. Friday started with some lovely outside time with Bell & Henna :) They seem to be getting on really nicely now and were officially moved out of the bathroom and back into the (cleaned) hutch on Friday evening.

And there was an amazing sunset :) Varen & I spent the evening catching up on some series and watching Smokin' Aces.

The film involves an intricate plot to kill Las Vegas showman and mafia wannabe Buddy "Aces" Israel (Piven), in part because he is considered the FBI's key witness to bringing down some of the final vestiges of La Cosa Nostra in the U.S., and because he has effectively split the family of Don Primo Sparazza into two competing factions. With his health failing, Sparazza puts a $1 million bounty on Israel and included a demand for Israel's heart. Two of Sparazza's crew, Underboss Sidney Serna and Capo Victor Padich conspire to hire a cadre of assassins to take care of the Buddy Israel problem, collect on the $1 million bounty themselves, and make a play to take control of the family from the ailing Sparazza. Being the key to the Justice Department's case against La Cosa Nostra, the FBI is intent on keeping Israel alive.

This was a pretty decent film, aside from the fact that they seemed to have an awful lot of irrelevant stuff happening ... you know, things that by the end of the movie didn't really tie-in to the primary plot. Now usually this might be okay. But then again, usually they'd have some sort of connection with the main story line. Sigh. Oh well. Still a fun flick to watch :)

Saturday was rather crazy. The morning started out with a trip to Makro to purchase additional wine for the evening's house warming. For some reason Varen suggested we cater at least 2 bottles per person (needless to say a mere 10 of 26 bottles were drunk that night ... hey, and at least wine keeps!) .We followed that up with a trip to The Cheese Shop (owned & run by Varen's uncle & aunt). If you can't tell yet, we'd planned a Cheese & Wine for the house warming :) We didn't do much else for the rest of day but prepare the house & food for the evening's event.

23Apr08 Quick Update: For more information on The Cheese Shop, call Costa or Rita on 071 218 0000. Their opening hours are Mon - Fri: 08h00 - 17h30 and Sat & Sun: 08h00 - 15h00 (these two don't seem to ever stop working!)

The evening went really well ... aside from 2 people who didn't end up arriving and my general dismay at my friend's lack of commitment (not you JofH & YogaCherryl, I mean the ones who didn't even bother to show up! Yes, I'm still bitter) In our usual style, we completely over-catered. <-- See the spread in the pic. And thanks to everyone who did come and make it a memorable evening :) We eventually got to bed at around 02h30 on Sunday morning. The house still looks like a bomb hit, but Sunday was more a day for lazing around than dealing with the state. On Sunday we popped by GalleryGirl's for brunch ... and for Varen to sort out their computer. We followed this up with *nothing*. It was fabulous. We let the bunnies run around and tried (unsuccessfully) building them a portable hutch (for when we go to the farm or they have to stay over at Varen's folks while we're off gallivanting on holiday!). There are improvement plans for the hutch. But we gave up on it for the day and vegged around watching some Bones, eating far too many leftovers :) BFL ceased to exist this weekend!

That evening we headed to Pianogirl's piano (surprise!) recital. Which was pretty impressive skill-wise ... but I'm just not that into the classical music or the general sound of a piano. Sigh. Uncultured or what ;)

And that was that. It is now less than a week till my 28th birthday and until The Mom arrives in Jhb for a week long visit :) Yay!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The First Official Games Night

Yesterday afternoon / evening turned into quite the run-around. I left here around 15h30 and headed to JofH's offices in Rivonia. I spent half an hour there chatting with him about the figures and the deal is almost signed and sealed. I'm thrilled about this, it's one of those things that just feels right in my gut. And then I wandered around chatting to the other people I already know there already. The really cool thing is that everyone else there also seems as keen about my possible employment there. I hope this spells the start of Great Things.

And then I raced home to spend a little time with Varen and the two buns out in the sun on the grass ... and I took some pics of Henna for you too :) She is such a honey but she's still pretty shy and although she's perfectly quiet & calm when you're holding her, trying to pick her up is a giant mission ... she's pretty speedy for something that tiny :)

I have also included a pic of the two of them together so that you can see how much bigger Bell is ... even tho she's less than a month older. After some much needed outside playtime, we put the buns away for the evening. We've now given them full run of the main en-suite bathroom ... the bath just seemed a little tiny.

And then we headed to Pick 'n Pay to get the snacks for my newly initiated Games Night :) About halfway into our shop, Eskom's load shedding kicked in and we found our selves in pitch darkness for about 30 seconds before their generator started up. Yup, this did not bode well for our electricity at home either.

But even without electricity, the games night was a huge success with 8 keen players :) Varen thankfully built a braai and rather successfully managed to cook the few snacks that should've required the oven. But luckily I'd planned a finger food type array so we didn't do too badly at all! We played both Eco-Fluxx (with a lot of required reading and learning of the new game!) and 30 Seconds. Looking forward to next month hosted by Pianogirl :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

... There's More

So yesterday I left work early to go home and wait for Telkom to arrive and install our DSL line. But not a soul pitched up at our house between 3 & 5pm. Sigh. Freaking typical.

And as soon as Varen arrived home, we took Bell to choose her new friend. She didn't seem especially interested in the 3 little bunnies when we let her run loose with them and ended up choosing a lovely little light brown sister (with big dark brown eyes) for her (there was a little boy, but he'd already been booked ... not that we wanted a boy, thankfully!).

And so Bunny 2, now named Henna, arrived home. We took a few pics last night (unfortunately it was getting a bit dark by the time we got them both home) that I wanted to post this morning, but unfortunately they seem to have been misplaced ... Varen said he put them on my external hard drive last night, but they're no where to be found. Will definitely post a few tomorrow :)

Henna is about half the size Bell is now, although still probably fairly close to how big Bell was when we first got her. But she's already showing signs of having a completely different personality! Where Bell is curious and quite happy to run around exploring her world (and still is!), Henna is skittish and far more shy. We let them both run around on the grass in the garden for a bit when we got home and Henna proved a complete nightmare to try and re-apprehend. We chased after her like mad things for about 10 minutes.

They've spent the night in the bath (neutral territory) and will "live" there for the next few days, except when they're let out to run around in the garden. It helps them bond in an unknown environment before letting them both move back into the hutch, previously exclusively Bell's home ... if you do it before they've bonded, Bell might not be too happy about it.

So, yes. At the moment we're just trying to get Henna familiar with us and being picked up and trying to let her adjust to her new home. Sadly this does not bode well for our "back to Gym" plan ... last night we were supposed to go, but stayed home to play with the 2 bunnies. And we especially came to work early this morning, but I'm off for my meeting with JofH later and then I've gotta get some shopping done before the first Official Games Night this evening :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Finally!

Sheesh. 14h00 and it's my first foray online all day ... work's access has been down and it's affecting our external emails as well. Bloody irritating since I have nothing much else here to do but browse around online!

So, last night was action cricket again. Thankfully we won although I had a particularly shoddy game :( But we made up for it by heading over to Pianogirl & Vori's after to meet up with the Goof Troop. And it all went downhill from there ;) Somehow we ended up playing drinking games with plenty of wine till late. Luckily I didn't have too much of a hangover this morning tho :)

And in other very exciting news, it looks likely that I will be making a bigger move than just departmental. I decided after an entire month of twiddling my thumbs to see how things were looking elsewhere and JofH's company (who I almost went to work for last year) had a position opening. So tomorrow I'm off to discuss an offer and who knows, I could be working my last month here :) I'm super keen about it. JofH and I have been dancing around this possibility for ages now and for the first time it really does feel like the timing is right. So fingers crossed for that one! And in other exciting job news, Varen got an offer to go permanent at his company ... which will be fabulous and ease the burden of not working for 3 weeks while we holiday in September ... since he will be able to accrue leave like normal people.

Also this afternoon, Telkom should be coming to install our home internet line (yay!) and we will be collecting Bunny 2 a little later as well!

Things are looking up :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon

What to do if Matthew, your secret lover of the past four years, finally decides to leave his wife Sophie and their two daughters and move into your flat, just when you're thinking that you might not want him anymore...PLAN A - Stop shaving your armpits, and your bikini line; tell him you have a mustache that you wax every six weeks; stop having sex with him; pick holes in the way he dresses; don't brush your teeth, or your hair, or pluck out the stray hag-whisker that grows out of your chin; and, buy incontinence pads and leave them lying around.PLAN B - Accidentally on purpose bump into his wife Sophie; give yourself a fake name and identity; befriend Sophie; actually begin to really like Sophie; snog Matthew's son (who's the same age as you by the way. You're not a pedophile); buy a cat and give it a fake name and identity; befriend Matthew's children, unsuccessfully; and, watch your whole plan go absolutely horribly wrong. Getting rid of Matthew isn't as easy as it seems, but along the way, Helen will forge an unlikely friendship, find real love and realize that nothing ever goes exactly to plan...

I loved this book :) It was such fun. I mean I can't see myself stealing someone else's man or anything, but I wonder how often it happens that you spend ages with someone, only seeing them on specific occasions and then they are suddenly living with you and you're left wondering why you're even together! A very easy-to-identify-with story of a woman trying to right the wrongs she'd created. I'd recommend this read to all the girls out there who are bored of Jodi Picoult (who isn't?).

But Wait ...

So there's not that much exciting news this morning ... we didn't managed to get Bunny 2 yesterday evening unfortunately. We'll be taking home one of a litter of three baby bunnies but, Bell will be making the actual choice. So truthfully we don't know if she'll be getting a little sister or brother yet. It's best for her that we get another bunny she likes so we'll take her along when we finally go to get Bunny 2 and let her play with all three babies for a bit and see which she gets along best with (with bunnies, that means not scratching or biting ... but rather lots of nose rubbing :) )

So, the three babies (I say that, but Bell isn't yet 2 months old so I guess she is still rather a baby herself!) have not yet been fully weaned from their mom yet. And if we take them before they're drinking water on their own and done with mom's milk, they can die. And we certainly don't want that. So have chosen to wait a few more days before getting one. Fingers crossed for Wednesday evening :)

Yesterday I went to my new psychologist and she seems pretty good and easy to talk to. I certainly felt lighter after our hour ... although admittedly we didn't get thru that much in depth stuff. It was more of fleshing out the story of my life so far, giving her background. And I'm still feeling upbeat today so I think it's been a good decision.

Other than that, not much to tell. Varen & I have been shocking on the gym front. But we've also been very tired lately - not sure if that's weather related or not tho? We'll be better ... I promise, starting tomorrow :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Movies & Gardening

Wow. It turned out to be a fabulous weekend after all :) Friday night was very quiet & laid back. Varen & I made a Chicken Nut Curry sauce with pasta for dinner (turned out far better than I expected!) and watched some movies (courtesy of TheBrad).

We started with the original Batman. It's always fun to watch one of those "good old movies" that you remember from your youth. It's also nice to have watched it in preparation for Heath Ledger's final performace as The Joker in the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Can't wait. I'm still devastated he died. So sad.

Gotham City is in the grip of mob boss Carl Grissom. Reporter Alexander Knox and photo-journalist Vicki Vale begin investigating the truth behind the rumors of a shadowy vigilante figure dressed as a bat, who has been terrifying criminals throughout the city. Vale and Knox attend a benefit at the mansion of millionaire Bruce Wayne, who is taken by Vicki's charms. That same night, Grissom's second-in-command, Jack Napier, attempts to raid a chemical factory. When the police arrive, Napier realizes he's been set-up by his boss, angered by his affair with Grissom's mistress. In the midst of the shoot-out, Batman arrives and Napier falls into a vat of toxic waste. He survives, but is left with chalk white skin, green hair, and red lips twisted into a permanent grin. Upon discovering his disfigurement, the deranged Napier goes completely insane and renames himself "The Joker".

It was fab to watch again and we'll definitely be making time sometime soon to watch the 2nd installment ... with Danny de Vito as The Penguin!

And then we watched a truly dismal slasher-horror flick, The Cook.

Over a long holiday weekend, unable to escape the confines of their sorority house, a handful of unsuspecting girls are left behind to enjoy the quiet sanctuary. The normal house staff has taken off for the weekend, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Thankfully someone was kind enough to send them a temporary replacement chef to cook their meals. However, when the girls start disappearing one-by-one, they begin to suspect something may not be quite right with... THE COOK!

Sigh. What can I say ... it was late on a Friday night. The movie was rubbish tho. Oh and it firmly seems to believe that half the girls in an all-girl's dorm must either be lesbian or at very least willing to experiment ;) Not especially original and I would highly recommend that you give this one a skip!

Saturday saw Varen getting up very early and heading to Pretoria to watch his mom's "Dance-off". Pahahaha. I just rolled over and went back to sleep for a bit. I had a very restful day - aside from my sheer inability to find anything I want for my birthday :( And I got regular smses from him during the day ... like this one at 10h30: "I'm watching section 7 of 112. Sigh". Pahahahahahaha. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't revel in his boredom.

I went for my Reflexology session at Spa Afrique. It was quite interesting, but I think next time I'd rather just skip straight to foot massage. I am however, fascinated by how they can pick up health issues ("You're holding a lot of stress and tension in your neck & shoulders" - okay, pretty standard horoscope type guess-work, but it is true none the less) from you feet. Will have to quiz Meira on this a little since she's started to study the technique!

I also did a little more gardening in the afternoon. Bell "helped" too ... mostly just by affirming my choice in her future food (if she ever give's it a chance to grow!). She is such a cutey! I especially love the determination to reach the leaves shown in this pic >

I got a new mint plant (how could I have killed the previous one in a mere 3 days ?!). Either way, this one is a way more established bush so I think it may just survive! And then I got some spinach and brussel sprouts, both of which should bush if given the chance.

After her enthusiasm and determination, the new plantlings have been "fenced" off. Although that didn't stop her finding a way under the fencing on Sunday and enjoying a nibble!

And that evening I met up with GalleryGirl & her sister at Rosebank for dinner and a movie. We had a lovely dinner at Doppio Zero and watched Starter for 10.

"Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be clever," Brian Jackson confesses in voice over at the start of Starter for 10. A working-class student from Essex, navigating his first year at Bristol University, Brian (James McAvoy) has a lot to prove. While his mates worry about him, Brian's biggest concern is making the team for the long-running British television quiz show, University Challenge. The game show, which began in 1962 and is something like the UK's answer to 'Jeopardy,' pits four-member teams from posh universities against each other. 'Starter' questions, worth 10 points each, give the film its title.

Yeah it had it's funny bits ... but it was otherwise pretty flat storyline-wise. And no eye-candy for a girl's night out :( But otherwise the evening was really good and nice to hang out with the sisters without the rest of the Goof Troop for a change.

After that, I met Varen at Zej's (barely up the road from us) because we'd been load-shud and Zej had gas :) We whiled away the remainder of the evening till about 23h30 after the electricity had come back on and we headed home. I had a good day.

Sunday was a touch more frenetic. After a whirlwind grocery shop and some other admin items (needed more bunny food and a bolt to hang something etc. you know, the little things!), Varen's folks came over with his sister & Brother Zion for an afternoon braai. And naturally to see all the house advances (we also managed to get our final 2 orange-range cushions for the dining room chairs and hang 2 more of my wall-items before they arrived! All on track for the housewarming next weekend).

Was completely surprised by just how badly Bell handled the strangers. She was fine when Zej & Hammi had been over last weekend, but I guess having 6 people around was just a bit too much for her and she spent most of the afternoon in her hutch hiding away. After she was sure they'd left, she came and ran around as normal while Varen & sat smoking hubbly on the veranda - I can never decide what to call the damn thing. It's not a balcony cause there's no railing. Porch and veranda just sound too grand. What else is there?

It was very relaxing ... although the house is in a complete state of dirty dishes! So we decided to continue on our relaxed state of being and went to a movie instead of tidying up :) We saw Vantage Point.

In Vantage Point, Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) are two secret agents assigned to protect president Ashton (William Hunt) at a landmark summit on the global war on terror. When president Ashton is shot moments after his arrival in Spain, chaos ensues and disparate lives collide. In the crowd is Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), an American tourist videotaping the historic event to show his kids when he returns home. Rex (Sigourney Weaver) is an American TV news producer who is reporting on the conference. It's only as we follow each person's perspective of the same 15 minutes prior to and immediately after the shooting that the terrifying truth behind the assassination attempt is revealed.

I thought it was great ... once you get used to the way they've decided to tell the story. Admittedly it doesn't take too long to see some of their twists, but it was still great fun (although with a pretty unbelievable get-out-an-walk-away-from car chase). And that was the weekend.

Later today I'm trying out a new psychologist (it's so hard to find one you feel completely comfortable with). But I'm trying to be pro-active about all the "I Hate The World" feelings I've been having and the obvious impact it's having on my life. So fingers crossed there. And we're also getting Bell's little sister this evening, I can't wait :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Crazy Bell

My bunny is so cute. I could sit and watch her for hours ... which is what I did again yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately Varen got home a bit late after picking up some ostrich steaks for dinner and we skipped gym ... again.

It's hysterical to watch her. She has her favourite places inside, namely playing in the curtains or hiding under the couch. Or her new worrying fun-favourite is climbing up into the belly of my hippo table (it's a welded wrought iron hippo with a glass table on top ... I'll take a picture sometime, it clearly doesn't translate well into words!).

This is especially frustrating for us because we can't really manage to get her out of there so we have to wait for her to climb out herself. But before that happens I worry terribly that she'll hurt herself as one leg pops out between gaps too small for her whole body.

Three more sleeps till Bunny Number 2 arrives :) Can't wait ... but I sure hope Bell is ready to share her space.

Other than being entertained by Bell, the evening was fairly uneventful. But, the day was fairly promising ... Varen & I finally seem to have picked our 2008 Holiday Destination.

The Trans-Siberian trip was quickly discarded as it cost the same as the other 2 trips but was a far shorter length (we're all about value-for-money here!). Sad, but we'll get there one day :)

So yesterday the final choice came down between:
1) The 23-day Spain, Portugal & Morocco trip with Intrepid
2) A 21-day trip to Peru, also with Intrepid (this was the original Peru trip I'd investigated but thought was too expensive ... turns out it was in the exact same region as the other 2 trips we considered, so it came back in the running)

Since both of these trips were fairly similar in length, cost and required the exact same number of leave days, I let Varen make the final choice. To be honest both trips look amazing and I'd be happy doing either of them :) He chose the 23-day trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. We should be jetting off sometime in September!

Well, that all depends on when he can get his sodding Pension Fund payout from his previous job. Apparently this should ordinarily take 6-8 weeks (like most other things in this country!) but it has been even longer and he hasn't seen a cent. So he has to get that resolved before we can actually do the booking and have the trip signed & sealed. Aaargh, please hurry up!

And in other good news, I managed to book myself a Reflexology session and dinner & movies with GalleryGirl and her sister for tomorrow while he's watching the dancing ... tee hee, can't wait!

Somebody Else's Kids by Torey Hayden

From the author of Sunday Times bestsellers One Child and Ghost Girl comes a heartbreaking story of one teacher's determination to turn a chaotic group of damaged children into a family. They were all just somebody else's kids -- four problem children placed in Torey Hayden's class because nobody knew what else to do with them. They were a motley group of kids in great pain: a small boy who echoed other people's words and repeated weather forecast; a beautiful seven-year-old girl brain damaged by savage parental beatings; an angry ten-year-old who had watched his stepmother murder his father; a shy twelve-year-old who had been cast out of Catholic school when she became pregnant. But they shared one thing in common: a remarkable teacher who would never stop caring -- and who would share with them the love and understanding they had never known to help them become a family.

Torey Hayden's books seem to bring out the same reaction to me, every time (okay, so this is only the second, but I'm noticing a trend). The stories are well written and captivate you, but the end result generally fails to deliver because these are true stories. At least this one had a little more of an ending than the previous one I read. I think the scariest sub-story for me in this book was the pregnant twelve-year old. And it wasn't due to sexual abuse, she'd had sex. At 12. That's frightening and scarily is not unheard of these days! So sad ... I think of my cousins who turned 12 last year and I seriously just can not imagine how someone the same age these sweet, still mostly innocent children could end up like that ?! Blows my mind and scares me to death.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You Should Try Colour Therapy Too

So not in the mood for this right now ... yesterday was such a lovely day. Today, however, is not.

Yesterday my friend Lady came in to the office to do some Colour Therapy and Reiki sessions for the girls in my previous department. Luckily I managed to score a session myself since I had originally organised the shebang. Sorta like when Jeanius came in to give the girl's massage sessions.

The Colour Therapy was amazing and gave surprisingly accurate readings and assessment of my life and head-space right now! I'll admit I was rather skeptical when I walked in there. I mean surely I'd pick the same colours today (just because I like them) as I would in 6 months ... apparently not. Right now I'm still planning to test out this theory with another session in 6 months tho :)

So, what is colour therapy (don't worry, I didn't know before yesterday either!)?
As per Lady's Colour Therapy write up (obviously this remains copy-writed to her!): During a colour reading the client is requested to select 7 coloured bottles out of a choice of 17 different shades. Depending on the order in which these bottles are selected, an accurate 15 – 20 minute reading can show some relevant and deep insight into the client’s current mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states.

Colour therapy can be an extremely useful tool to draw attention the areas in our lives that create unnecessary stress and uneasiness. Colour can also assist in the treatment or release of these issues, resulting in a happier, healthier and more balanced self. When we feel balanced we are more efficient employees, more motivated individuals and happier friends and family members.

Lady's company is called Iridesense but sadly her website is not currently up & running. However, if you are curious in trying out this sort of therapy for yourself (or organising a corporate day), I'd highly recommend getting in touch with her on sally at iridesense dot coza :) After the colour reading, she did a reiki session which, I can tell you, is fantastically relaxing in the middle of the work day!

So the day itself was good. Varen came home nice and early and we decided to skip gym and just spent the evening chilling out. Me reading my book and watching Bell's antics and him messing around on his laptop. Then we had a rather disastrous dinner which turned out okay in the end. It started out fairly make-shift since we hadn't planned what to eat and were stuck with whatever we had in the fridge & cupboards (not that much as it turned out). And then Varen managed to shatter an oven-proof dish while grilling chicken! Hmmm .... But it all tasted just fine :)

And then we had a huge argument ... Okay, a little background. His mom booked him a ticket (300 Rond, nogal) to her dance competition on Saturday 12th. We both (and I assume me because of what he implied ... since I wasn't involved in this plan at all) thought it was at Emperor's Palace in the evening (I don't even know where he got that idea from?). But, this date has been booked for a few weeks now so you'd expect he'd have some clue as to where & when it was. So yesterday I made some evening plans of my own for Saturday with GalleryGirl.

Then last night he casually mentions that no, it's not at Emperor's, it's somewhere in Pretoria and he has to be there at 9am. Excuse me? So now I have an entire day to myself (and we were supposed to be getting more house stuff finalised before the house warming next Saturday, I had a list of things that needed doing that he'd already okay-ed even!) ... and that part, I don't really mind. It's the preparation. I now have nothing planned for the day because I thought he'd be around and we'd be going shopping (for my upcoming bday as well!!) and doing admin sorta usual Saturday stuff. Sigh. Why can't people be understand that their plans affect other people? I think it's time to book myself something very girly for Saturday ... and keep my evening plans too! Even if that means he'll be sitting home alone all evening after watching a "dance-off" all day :P Aaargh. Silly boys.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Myron Bolitar's ex, Emily Downing, tells him he's the father of her son, a dying 13-year old boy. Jeremy is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, but the donor vanishes without a trace. Staggered by this news, Myron plunges into a search for the missing donor that leads him into a mystery involving a broken family, a brutal kidnapping spree, and the FBI.

I wasn't really that into this book when I first started reading it ... it was a bit of a slow starter. But, by the end I was hooked. And in fabulous twisty writing style, the end was not the end, there were at least another 40 pages where the satisfactory expected ending got pulled apart and re-written. Definitely an enjoyable read!

> Follow Harlan Coben on Twitter

A Much Calmer Day

I woke up in a surprisingly good mood this morning. Actually, it might not have been so much present on waking as after our now morning ritual.

If I'm in the right state of mind, it can be so relaxing and warm my soul to enjoy the pre-work morning. Getting up and showered not so much, but after that ... Going downstairs, letting Bell out to run around. Preparing our lunch while Varen makes breakfast. Sitting and eating together. It's really nice and I should appreciate it more :)

Yesterday I left work early. Really early, at about 2pm. As I've said before, I'm not doing much here at the moment and this can be highly frustrating. And based on yesterday's mood, I needed the space and time to just be ... away from work and computers.

So I left early and headed to a nursery nearby ... for the soil I didn't get yesterday. And I was really saddened. Usually I love wandering pet shops. And there were the cutest little kittens who got very excited when I stopped briefly to say hello (it's so hard to leave them there in their cage, so I kept walking). And then I saw they had bunnies. But these bunnies did not look that well cared for. They were the usual, big bunnies, quite a lot larger than Bell. Eating bread and cabbages :( And then there were 3 tiny little baby bunnies (literally half the size of Bell when we first got her). The were sooo cute. But they were in this cage with all these giant bunnies (and I assume their mom). I hope they're okay in there! It now amazes me as I watch Bell zoom around our little garden that has become her home at how lucky this little bunny is. It makes me smile :) But I have begun to wonder how she's going to handle an interloper in her space next week!

Anyway, so I spent the afternoon in the garden potting my herbs (the mint is looking a bit limp ... I hope it perks up!) and reading my book. It didn't take Bell long to discover the pots, which I then had to move up off the floor. And it turns out she's developed a taste for mint as well - yippee :)

And then eventually after a lovely restful afternoon at home, it was time to head off to Action Cricket. It was kinda weird not playing with my old team /department. But I think it'll be good to help me meet more people from my new department. My old team has certainly suffered some set backs with quite a few people having left since last season. Either way (and even tho we lost ... by 6 runs!), the evening was good and I remembered just how much I enjoy playing :) Sad to miss Tuesday night dinner with the Goof Troop, but there'll be plenty more opportunities for those. I think Varen also had a good time catching up with some of the folks from work (he used to work here too, remember?).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Growing My Own

Last night was quite uneventful .. .aside from the fact that a) I have decided to start a Herb Garden (in the interests of Bell's love of Sweet Basil which sadly goes off too quickly when store bought) and b) Varen & I went to gym last night *and* this morning. Yes, I'm still knackered.

Okay so it's kinda fun learning what my darling little bunny loves to eat from her Allowed Foods list. So far Spinach & Mint are out (sad since I bought a mint plant yesterday too ... which, incidentally, is how I discovered she is not a fan!) but Carrots, Apple and Sweet Basil are up there on her list of favourite things. In the photo you can see her having a good nibble on the new basil bushes. This was after she slowly chewed the grass getting nearer and nearer to that heavenly smell ... it was very cute :)

Sadly tho, the garden is still just a dream because I now need to buy some soil :P How ridiculous. Probably my fault for not reading what was in the big yellow bag ... aside from the fact that it said "Planting & Vegetables". I'm also growing some Raddish & Beetroot sprouts to see if she'll enjoy those. And I found what looks like a pretty cool blog on all things Herb-y: Timeless Herb Secrets.

In other very exciting news, yesterday I *finally* received my travel reimbursement from my Januray business trip to the UK. Only 2 months and 6 days after landing back in sunny SA!

Sadly however, my mood is still up & down. I'm not sure what it is ... but I'm kinda hoping at this point that it's only the usual Birthday Month depression. I hate feeling like this. That everything is wrong (but I know it's not) and that nothing is within my control to fix or improve. Sigh. Powerlessness. But still, I endeavor to stay sane ... sadly Varen bares the brunt of my chaotic personality these days. What to do, what to do?

Oh, and in a complete change of topic, I found a fantastic free online sms service yesterday and it is specifically for South Africa! Check out MahalaSMS and start sending :)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

Okay, so originally, The Peeb reviewed this book. It sounded fairly interesting and then Jeanius mentioned one day that she owned it. Obviously at that point I asked if I could borrow it and she ended up putting it into the Book Club library.

So I read it. Literally in like an evening, Friday evening in fact. And I have to say, I don't get it. I mean it's an okay enough story but I didn't really think it was scary or frightening. I can see how it might be for the characters (obviously) but it certainly wasn't for me, the reader. And the story line, to be fair, is lame and dull. My other issue with it was that nothing was ever explained. Was she just imagining this fantasy-world escapism or what? What did the Beldam even want with her or the other 3 children she'd captured?

Oh, and what is the deal with her name?! They make quite a thing about people getting it wrong ... fair enough since it doesn't seem all that common to me. But still, why didn't he just call her Caroline then? It didn't really add anything extra to the storyline.

Yeah, a little beyond me. I'm not into the deep and meaningful (if that's in fact even what it was - I remain unconvinced!). I'll stick with murder, mystery and forensic detection, thanks :)

> Follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter

Double Feature Weekend

This weekend was fairly uneventful. I can't even remember what we did on Friday night ... sigh. I *must* be getting old!

Oh wait, thanks to Varen reminding me ... I do remember. He went out for work drinks and came home a little liquored (some kind of new-guy tequila initiation!) and then slept for an hour or two before joining me for some Series in the lounge :) Quiet.

Saturday I was in a melancholy mood and we didn't do much at all. Varen had to work between 12 & 6pm. I stayed home and watched some series, played some Caeser IV and loved Bell. She's getting bigger and is now running around the house & garden - luckily she hasn't worked out how to make her way upstairs. She's almost too big to fit under the TV cabinet ... which is good because she seems to have developed a taste for those electric cables - eep! Apparently it's the buzzing their over developed ears can hear in the wires that causes them to chew them. Anyway, we've mostly managed t okeep her out from under there and now she's enjoying the additional floor space. So cute!

When Varen came home from work, bearing Ghazal's, I was finally in a better mood. Amazing what a phone call with The Mom can achieve :) After dinner we decided to do a double feature and went to see Juno & Fool's Gold.

Meet Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) - a confidently frank teenage girl who calls the shots with a nonchalant cool and an effortless attitude as she journeys through an emotional nine-month adventure into adulthood. Quick-witted and distinctively unique, Juno walks Dancing Elk High's halls to her own tune - preferably anything by The Stooges - but underneath her tough no nonsense exterior is just a teenage girl trying to figure it all out. Faced with a sudden, unplanned pregnancy, Juno and best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) hatch a plan to find Juno’s unborn baby the perfect set of parents, courtesy of the local Penny Saver. They set their sights on Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), an affluent suburban couple who are longing to adopt their first child. Luckily, Juno has the support of her dad and stepmother (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney).

Now I'd heard rave reviews about this (and to be honest most people seem to absolutely love it!) but I only liked it. I don't think Jennifer Garner (who I don't like at the best of times) was particularly well cast. And as amusing as Juno's character was, I just don't know that she was a likely sixteen year old. Either way, the dialogue is amusing and well written. Did love the soundtrack tho!

Ben "Finn" Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) is a good-natured, surf-bum-turned-treasure-hunter who is obsessed with finding the legendary 18th century Queen's Dowry - 40 chests of exotic treasure that was lost at sea. In his quest, Finn has sunk everything he has, including his marriage to Tess Finnegan (Kate Hudson) and his more-rusty-than-trusty salvage boat. Just as Tess has begun to rebuild her life, working aboard a mega-yacht owned by billionaire (played by Donald Sutherland), Finn discovers a vital clue to the treasure's whereabouts. Certain that his luck will change with the newfound information, Finn manoeuvres himself aboard Nigel's yacht and, using his good-natured charm, convinces the tycoon and his Blackberry-wielding, celebutante daughter, to join him in the pursuit of the Spanish treasure. Against Tess' better judgment, the search rekindles her love of discovery.

Now this was just good fun. Simple story-line, no great expectations, just good mindless entertainment. Ideal for 22h30 viewing!

And oddly what we noticed in both those movies ... there were bunnies! Juno's friend Leah is holding a giant floppy-eared one when Juno calls her to tell her she is pregnant. And Big Bunny (an island-owning Rum-maker) who originally invests in Finn's quest is holding another giant floppy-eared one when we first meet him. Weird ... or perhaps we're just more attuned to it these days ;)

On Sunday we had an admin-shopping morning followed by lunch with Varen's folks at Piatto in Eastgate. After that we hit the gym (OMG. I'm finally seeing some results. This is the 2nd time in a row that I've seen the scale numbers go down! Okay, so it's not by much, but I'm weighing less than when I started BFL which is some kinda improvement) and then we had Hammi & Zej over for dinner. They got back from India & Nepal on Saturday and it was great to catch up :) And I must say, Varen cooked us a divine Salmon dinner.

Oh, and in other exciting news, I was impressed to see that Standard Bank, the sponsors of the Pro20 cricket and the Kaboom Room actually took the time out to leave me a comment :) So far I'm impressed by their forward-thinking marketing team for bothering to feedback to a blogger like myself in my chosen medium.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Blackouts & Book Club

Righto ... So I mixed things up a little this morning and got my Book Review post out of the way first.

Last night was fairly uneventful. Varen got home around 17h30+ and we lost our power shortly after 6pm ... as we packed Bell away in her hutch and headed inside to start on dinner (Gym was officially skipped due to Varen's late arrival home and my impending Book Club date).

So I used up the last of our hot water on a relaxing bath (what else can one do when dinner is no longer an option and you have a mere 20 mins to spare?!). Varen sat with me feeding me oranges as we caught up on our day. I guess sometimes it's nice being forced to slow down and not be able to switch on the TV or laptop or stove ...

And then I headed to Book Club (luckily they had power there!). It was GalleryGirl's first time joining us and it was fab. Jeanius cooked up some yummy wraps and we nattered on as girls do :) I was sorta dreading the evening ... We all know I just wasn't feeling at all sociable yesterday and it was centered primarily around my dimming faith in Friends. No don't get me wrong, I have some fabulous ones. But it's hellishly difficult to forge new friendships ... and so many people seem closed to the opportunity. Now me, I'm and inviter. I like to include everyone. And yes, this leads to feelings of self-doubt and rejection every time people either a) fail to appreciate the opportunity provided and b) fail to reciprocate. I hate having my nose rubbed in the face of girl-group cliques. Generally, honestly, being friends with boys just seems so much easier. But, like all other girls out there, I crave the company of those like me, other girls. But girls are a fickle bunch. Sigh.

Twilight Children by Torey Hayden

From the author of the phenomenal "Sunday Times" bestsellers "One Child" and "Ghost Girl", comes a startling and poignant memoir of three people's victimisation and abuse - and their heartbreaking but ultimately successful steps to recovery, with the help of Torey Hayden, an extraordinary teacher. Two children trapped in a prison of silence and a woman suffering in the twilight of her years - these are the cases that would test the extraordinary courage, compassion and skill of Torey Hayden and ultimately reaffirm her faith in the indomitable strength of the human spirit. While working in the children's psychiatric ward of a large hospital, Torey was introduced to seven-year-old Cassandra, a child who had been kidnapped by her father and was found dirty, starving and picking though rubbish bins to survive. She refused to speak, so Torey could only imagine what she'd been through. Drake, by contrast, was a charismatic four-year-old who managed to participate fully in his pre-school class without uttering a single word. Then, there was Gerda, eighty-two, who had suffered a massive stroke and was unwilling to engage in conversation with anyone.;Although Torey had never worked with adults, she agreed to help when all other efforts had failed.

This book thoroughly surprised me. I took it from Book Club as a last resort in a month with a number of public holidays thinking if I managed to get thru the rest of my books I would give it a read. I wasn't overly enthusiastic.

But I really enjoyed it. Sadly the endings do fall a little short, mostly because of the "True Story" factor. I wanted more information on what happened eventually but sadly because it's real life, you never get the wrap-up one becomes used to in fiction. But still, reading about the process and trauma of real lives was fascinating and frightening all at once. And, I've taken another one of Torey Hayden's books for this month too :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

An Evening at The Cricket

So I know this post is later than usual ... but I'm just not in the right mood for sharing this morning. It has not been a fabulous 24 hours and even tho everything has been resolved, it's that kinda aftermath where the feeling of hopelessness kicks in (or is that just me?). I swear, when I first moved to Jhb, it took me 3 months to find a job and I fell into a depression like 3 days after I got one. It's like your body & mind keep things even keel until it's safe for you to really break down. Because if it happened before then, then nothing would come right. I've also experienced the same sort of thing when I'd fallen really badly on some rocks and I was all alone. I only broke into tears and felt the pain when I got back to my family at our beach cottage (after a walk up the grassy hill) and I knew someone else could look after me which meant that I could then collapse and not have to be strong. Weird, huh?

Anyway, so I'm hoping that's what this is ... well, a minor version of it because to be fair nothing too terrible has happened.

I got home to find our gushing river replaced by a mud-slick. The problem had been fixed, not an unimpressive task. Admittedly they happened to leave our house's water switched off, but we set that right this morning in time to miss the shower at the gym!

And then it was off to The Kaboom Room at Supersport Park in Centurion (practically Pretoria!) for the Pro20 cricket. Now I can't find much on the Kaboom Room online so let me explain ... because I didn't know what it was before yesterday either. And aside from the Free Drinks, I wouldn't bother to be going again. Standard Bank has set up their Kaboom Room on the grassy knoll (The best place to be at Supersport Park, the same does not apply at Wanderers). Essentially it is a tent with minor elevation and they provide you with branded outdoor chairs - which we sadly did not get to keep :( Now this might sound like an almost ideal way to watch the cricket ... especially since you have your own free bar with no queue (the Kaboom Room fits *maybe* 30 people max and it wasn't full yesterday) But sadly the tent is rather ill-suited to cricket watching and our view was regularly impaired. After almost every big shot, people were craning their necks in order to see the replay on the screen or the scoreboard (even tho there was a 2nd scoreboard opposite us, it's numbers were barely legible). And they did provide the promised snacks in the form of a half-time snack-packet. A brown paper bag with a burger, a salad (no dressing), an apple and an Energy Bar. But, most people were eating from the outside stalls well before half time.

Oh, and there was *no* atmosphere inside the tent. Every time I spoke to Varen I felt I should be whispering as if in a cinema (although I do NOT talk in the cinema, but for those of you who insist on doing it, I wish you would whisper!!) So, yeah, not an all round fabulous experience. And this was increased by the fact that it wasn't the most entertaining game of cricket (although that hat-trick of wickets by the Cobras was damn impressive!). We left shortly before the end and enjoyed a traffic-free drive back home to Joburg. Hell, I still don't even know who won ... but if it wasn't the Cobra's I'd be rather surprised!

Sadly the evening was further ruined by bickering between Varen & myself (or rather plenty of not speaking to each other). Sigh. So all that along with a minor lack of sleep has left me in this blue funk this morning.

Oh, and the SA Blog Awards were held in Cape Town last night (I'm guessing fate was trying to even the score of my inability to attend by allowing me to win the tickets to the Kaboom Room). Sadly I didn't win, but that wasn't terribly surprising. Thanks for the support shown by all of you who did vote for this blog tho :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More Of An Update Than I Expected

Okay, so due to total boredom I'm caving to a 2nd post for the day :)

The total boredom is due to the fact that since the 3rd March when I changed departments I have yet to do very much. The official line (from my new boss) is that they are wrapping up their current projects before starting on new ones. Mine are all new, upcoming ones and they have yet to start. And let me point out right here that even once they're started, my job does not commence immediately. So who knows how much longer it'll stay like this ... I guess I should be sorta grateful, but I'm even becoming bored of the internet at this point! And I just know that when the projects do start there's going to be more work than I probably know how to do (well, maybe ... ?) and I can't even start on any of it with all this spare time. So freakin' typical!

And then ... The Real News: The Burst Water Main. Yes that's right (folks who don't follow my Twitter), Brad The Plumber went out to visit our gushing stream (previously referred to as the walkway to our front door) and established that the problem was Gigantic. It's a burst water main ... it requires excavation. And the whole complex's water needs to be turned off a) before this can be fixed and b) before the water bill hits a kajillion Rand. Brad The Plumber unfortunately couldn't find the water mains switch and the water has been pouring out at a rate of knots at *least* since 5am ... the Maintenance People from the Managing Agents (Status Mark, so far completely unimpressed with them) were apparently heading over to check it out at 12. So that water has been wasting for at least 7 hours now! Shocking. Our little Complex Dude (the guy at Status Mark in charge of our complex) has been unavailable since at least 10:20am ... and counting. Does no one realise that the longer they delay this the more likely it is that no one in our complex will be showering any time soon (at home at least, Varen & I will be hitting the gym for use of their hopefully available facilities). Sigh. Being the naturally cynical person I am, I'm just not convinced that this will be resolved soon enough.

And then ... Fingers Crossed Opportunity Number One: Finally a Payout. I also heard today (after much nagging on my part!) that my travel claim (of approximately 9000 Rond) should be paid out before the end of the week. Now previously I have yet to get a date attached to this fabulous prospect so I'm ever hopeful. But considering I got back from the UK marginally over 2 months ago ... this is tarnished somewhat by it's long-overdue-ness. So, finger's crossed.

Which means there must be ... Fingers Crossed Opportunity Number Two: My 2008 Travel Plan. As I've said previously, I like to plan one big annual overseas holiday. And so far we've got nothing booked for 2008 :( It's a little more complicated since Varen moved into Contract Work because every hour he's not working, he's not earning. So, not only does he have to save for the mammoth sort of trip I like to do but, he also has to save a little bit extra to cover the money he won't be earning while we're off gallivanting around the globe. Not ideal when trying to plan a holiday, let me assure you. And I certainly hope he doesn't become a blithering wreck while we're supposed to be away relaxing by calculating what he could've been earning! Already certain aspects of proposed trips have been translated into rand amounts not earned. Sigh.

Anyway, we were thinking of Peru ... I so have to get there someday. But it seems like the expansive 21 day trip I had in mind works out to be a trifle too expensive when you include the flights (they just kill us lowly folk from South Africa!). Plus Varen thinks 21 days+ (for flying time) is just too long to be out of the office and not earning. Fair enough, I can compromise ... there are still plenty of places left on my To Do List :)

So it's now come down to these options (feel free to vote via comments and offer any recommended must-see's and or reviews):

1. The Trans-Siberian Railway
I found a lovely 14 day tour from Moscow to Beijing with Russia Experience that even includes a day of Husky dog-sledding (yay!). We would also add on an extra day in Beijing to visit the Great Wall of China (seems a little silly to go all that way to the same city and not see it!). Sadly however, it doesn't look viable to extend the trip (and obviously the expense) to pop into (by "pop" I mean take a 12 hour over night train trip!) X'ian to see the Terracotta army.

This holiday covers (from my Life List): Ride on a Husky driven dog-sled (yes, that's a recent addition!), See the Great Wall of China and Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

2. Spain, Portugal and Morocco
But I also found two very nice tours that travel from Spain, via Portugal to Morocco. The first is a 15 day tour with Intrepid Travel and the second is a 23 day tour, also with Intrepid, that includes the first tour as well as some additional areas in Morocco.

This holiday covers
(from my Life List): Travel to Morocco, Travel to Portugal and Travel to Spain

So with 3 things I really want to do in both trips, it's mostly coming down to prices ... so, fingers crossed while we wait on the quotes. I just know it's going to be the flights that screw us again tho because we won't be booking a return flight for either as both trips end in a completely different country than they start!

Minor Plumbing Problem

Last night was supposed to be the start of our annual office Action Cricket league ... but it wasn't. Our game got postponed. Which was just fab actually because it meant we could go to the usual Tuesday night dinner with the Goof Troop.

Last night was at Koet & Nambi's and they made the most delish blue cheese pasta (good thing we're making this BFL thing fit into our lifestyle these days and got to eat along with everyone else again!) But, before dinner we did manage to get to the gym ... since we'll be missing it this evening in favour of the Pro20 cricket game at Supersport Park, home of the Titans (I won tickets yesterday!!).

And even tho we were planning an early morning today (in order to leave work in time to drive out to Centurion), we were woken even earlier than expected! I woke up at 5am and heard a constant gushing water sound - you'll know exactly what I mean if you have one of those finicky toilets that need the handle lifted completely up in order to stop the water flow after flushing. And that's exactly what I figured it was (in my blearly barely woken state I didn't quite click that the noise wasn't there when we went to sleep) so I sent Varen off to check that the handle was lifted (he'd woken almost simultaneously as well!). That wasn't it. So he came back to bed. But still the noise persisted. I was a little concerned by this. So he dutifully got up to inspect and discovered a veritable Nile River outside our doorstep (thankfully outside the house!). Something has clearly burst or whatever, who knows but it is causing an excessive amount of water to go to waste.

So far I've called Brad The Plumber, a new acquisition of mine since I had to have a geyser valve replaced at Bean & my place last week. Boy is that number coming in handy now! Sadly, our Managing Agents don't open till 8:30am and we have no idea yet if there is a Maintenance Manager for the complex or not. Although we're quite sure it *must* be a Body Corporate issue since the problem is clearly on the outside. But, even worse, after describing the problem to Brad The Plumber, he thinks the pipe gushing water is a sewerage pipe (it's one of those giant plastic ones) ... eep! Thank goodness it's not gushing sewerage!

Sigh, there's always another thing that needs dealing with.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fish in a Foil

Okay, so this one is a surprise entry. We tried it for dinner last night and it was unexpectedly yummy. So I thought I'd share it :) Unfortunately, the fact that it's yummyness took me by surprise means you'll have to wait until we make it again before I can take any photos.

Ingredients (for 1 serving ... although I doubled it and made 2 servings in one foil):

  • 2 Handfuls of Chopped Spinach
  • 1 Raw Onion, sliced (I doubt you'd need a whole onion per fish fillet ... probably one shared between 2 would be enough, unless they're tiny)
  • 1 Fillet of Fish (we used Norwegian Salmon fillets from Woolies, but the recipe says you can basically use any firm fish - personally I have no idea what a "firm" fish is but anyhoo ...)
  • Seasoning (paprika, pepper, a little garlic salt etc.)
  • 1 fresh Mango
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
Take a sheet of aluminum foil (approximately 12" however big you need to fit your fish fillets with a bit of space around them)and layout out on counter. Take fresh spinach leaves and make a bed on the foil. Take raw onion rings and lay over spinach bed. Take 1 filet of fresh firm fish fillet and lay on top of the onion rings & spinach bed. Season fish with paprika, pepper, a little garlic salt and anything else you prefer. Slice a fresh mango, taking slices of mango and laying on top of the fish. Then slice a fresh tomato and place several slices over the top of the mango. Then several onion rings on top of the tomato followed lastly by numerous fresh spinach leaves.

Take another sheet of aluminum foil and place over top of the fish (or, if you made your foil base large enough, you can just wrap it over the top & sides). Fold in sides so that everything is held inside foil. Punch several small holes in foil top with toothpick. (Eep, we forgot to this bit, but it didn't seem to matter)

Place on hot grill, for 15 20 minutes each side, then serve in foil (we didn't do this either because we did 2 fish fillets in one foil, but it was pretty tricky getting the layers off the foil and onto the plates neatly so I'd probably go with the served in foil option next time!) . This is a very high protein dinner with low fat content. Serve with your favorite carbohydrate, like sweet potato.

It was amazing just how well the sweet flavour of the mango went with the fishy Salmon taste. Even the spinach played really well with the others. I, naturally, picked out all the onion rings before eating, but I'm sure they're lovely too ;)

Average

Last night was average. We cooked ... quite a bit actually. Made some more Ostrich Chili Soup for the week and remembered to take a photo for the blog recipe so check it out :) And let me tell you, photographing soup is harder than it looks!

Anyhoo, we made that, and some butternut fritters (they're my 9am snack ... will wait to see if they're any good). And for dinner last night we had a lovely Salmon dish (recipe to follow because it was just that good!). I was completely taken by surprise at how good it was ... I guess some recipes really do work the first time ;)

And then we even went to gym again last night. Shoo.

I'm dealing with some other more emotional head issues right now that I don't especially want to get into just yet ... but suffice it to say that I'm not very impressed with some people who are supposed to be friends lately.

Oh, and happy April Fools ... I'm just not that into it, so this is all perfectly true. Sorry, I know that may seem to be unbelievably boring of me but that's just the way it is :)

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