Friday, February 27, 2009

Off We Go, Up The Stairs

You'll be so proud ... I went to gym yesterday. Even tho it was pouring rain (the least gym-motivational type of weather ... cause it'd be so much better to just go home and snuggle up in front of the tv or with a book!) and I was running late (freaking traffic! And what's with the people driving with no lights on when there were sections of highway I was going at like 40km/h because it was raining so hard you could barely see the car in front!). Well anyway, I was proud :)

I do love the rain ... but it's very sad for the boons, they couldn't have their usual grass-time outside, they were stuck inside causing havoc. Lily has now discovered that she can climb the stairs with Coal and boy did they have hours of fun doing that yesterday ;) Here are some photos. But please excuse the lighting, it really wasn't great what with it a) being indoors and b) there being no sunlight streaming in from outside due to the giant storm.

1. Lily almost to the top 2. What my camera thinks a bunny jumping up stairs looks like - was too hysterical not to post :)

3. Coaly-boy in his usual pose (in front of Singha, my Thai Lion) 4. The best shot I managed to get of the two of them together in front of Singha (they tend not to keep still which is a real problem in bad lighting!), see how big Lily has gotten!

Other than that, Varen got home late ... but picked up some dinner from Simply Asia. I had their Chicken Satay, which was no where near as delicious as Cranks ... the chicken pieces were measly and practically glue to the stick and pretty close to rock hard. Their peanut sauce is also nothing to write home about. But then I had my favourite (in fact the entire reason I have Simply Asia these days), Tom Yum Goong Pla-Muk (that's spicy prawn soup). I love it. You used to be able to get it frozen from PnP and I always had one lurking in my freezer, was quite disappointed whne they stopped stocking it :( But then I discovered that Simply Asia offered the closest thing I've found to it (although they're more stingy with their prawns). There's nothing better!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Visa's, Visa's For Everywhere

Nothing much to report on yesterday. Got stuck in typical accident traffic on the highway going home (have you noticed how often in Joburg, a cop car is one of the ones with a dent?!) so decided to postpone gym till 8pm, after dinner.

Silly idea. I should know better. Varen was supposed to be working late, I was supposed to have my girl's poker night. Both didn't really happen and we ended up being lazy watching series on TV.

This morning on the radio I heard something I was wondering if other people knew about? That from 03March South African citizens will require a visa when just visiting or in transit in the UK. Shoo. Now this doesn't really affect me right now, but I am curious about the whole "visa thing". As I said before, Australians don't require visa's for practically anywhere ... yet we require visa's for just about everywhere! And they're damn expensive, stressful (what if you've booked your holiday and don't get one?) and time-consuming (in both waiting for an embassy to provide the visa and all those lengthy drives to the embassy to drop off & collect your passport - embassy's have the most ridiculous opening hours!). Sigh. I feel marginalised. Like as a South African, they're trying to stop me traveling and visiting all the exciting novel foreign destinations of my choosing. Sigh. Oh but don't worry ... they've made an allowance that "until mid-2009, South African nationals who have previously travelled to the UK on their current passport will be exempt from the visa requirement" ... ooh, a whole extra 3 months or so. What kind of vague date is mid-2009?

Anyhoo, it's not like I'm planning a visit or a stop-over there anytime soon, but it's irksome nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bunny Update

Okay so the blog has been a little devoid of photos for a while now ... I know. But As I said before I've sort-of gone off the internet lately. Well, perhaps not the internet, mostly I'm off spending excess time in front of my laptop at home ... which is where I download photos and what not.

So yesterday I took some especially :) First of all, here's my big boy, Coal, on the couch. He's not jumping up as often anymore, which is fine by me (even tho he's cute as pie!) because he starts to nip me when he wants to go down and he's too scared to jump down himself - silly boy!

And here's is my lovely LeeLoo (she has about a million nicknames!). Can you spot her favourite pose? Those first two pics were taken at the farm this weekend. Yes, in every single one she has a piece of grass she's busy munching on sprouting from her mouth :) So adorable!

I was doing some searching yesterday (for photos of siamese-coloured bunnies) and discovered that Lily has what's called Agouti colouring: rabbits with hair shafts that have at least three different rings of colours, and the rabbits also have lighter markings at the base of the neck, on the belly and inside of the legs, the underside of the tail, inside the nostrils, in circles around the eyes, and inside the ears. Yep, that's definitely her :) I have seen some of her hairs that have fallen out and they have 4 colour rings: it starts out quite light, probably that blue-grey colour, then has a black band, then an orange band and then another black band. Must upload a more recent photo of her coat cause it has changed so much since we got her, no that's it's fully grown in.

So, I'm sure you can tell from all the photo taking that last night was not very eventful. In fact if I didn't know better I might've thought it was a Monday night :) I skipped gym - in some sort of Freudian error, I accidentally left my gym gear at home when I left for work in the morning and only noticed it as I was loading shopping into my car boot at lunch. Now there's an interesting question for you: Boot versus Trunk. I don't get either to be honest. A Boot is a type of shoe and a Trunk should really be at the front (perhaps they were, I know the old beetle has them in the front? Is that where it comes from?). Who on earth picked these words? The closest thing to an explanation I can find is (from wikipedia):
In earlier usage, a boot was a built-in compartment on a horse-drawn coach, used originally as a seat for the coachman and later for storage.
That still doesn't explain very much :P

Anyhoo. Here's a photo of a very naughty Coal in my garden - he sneaks over the little fence regularly and has practically chewed my flowers (who are not surviving this weather very well at all!) to the ground. He knows he's not allowed in there and gets scooted out with a few squirts of water from my spray-bottle. And yesterday Little Miss managed to get herself over the fence too ... more than once. I can see I'm going to have to come up with a new plan :) Varen & I had dinner and watched Series. Nothing too exciting for dinner tho, have given the new-year-new-recipes challenge a rest for this week ... mostly due to the fact that we were at the farm for the weekend and I haven't had a moment to think about food or shopping properly. Hopefully from next week I'll get to start re-making some of our favourite dishes which means I'll have to remember to take photos and post the recipes. Finger's crossed!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Fish And Things

Last night was pretty cool ... for a Monday. None of the usual stay-at-home Monday laziness here. I went to gym (again, the swim-school just makes my skin prickle with annoyance!) and then Varen & I went for dinner with DJMike at CTFM in Cresta. Now generally, although I don't really like CTFM, I've started going on a more regular basis ... since my previous favourite sushi venue became a disappointment. I quite like CTFM's sushi, but their output is pretty slow and the few and far between plates that I crave are hard to come by. So I stuck with sushi as a starter and had prawn & calamari as my main. Varen & DJMike had Dorado. I don't think anyone was blown away by their meal. I've made better Calamari at home from Woolies (that stuff is delish!). It was so decidedly average :( And we were really craving seafood. I knew we should've gone to Ocean Basket for their Platter for 2, I just freaking love that (sadly Varen is not as enthusiastic as I am). I think it's all the sauce.

Other than F!sh (which was more fancy than we were in the mood for last night), where are the good seafood restaurants in Joburg??

Anyhoo, in other news, I have heard that the litter we were waiting for (and hoping to find Coal & Lily a little sister in) has been born and are just opening their eyes. Am now trying to figure out if it's worth going to see them this weekend ... because there won't be much to see when they're so little and still tucked away in their nest. But on the flip side, if we don't go this weekend, I'll have to wait till 14/15 March (cause I'm away in Cape Town next weekend, yippee). Seems like an awfully long wait :( Man, I hope there are some nice siamese-coloured babies in the litter, that's what I'm hoping for :) Varen thinks I'm just broody :P

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend on the Farm

Shoo. The weekend just flew by! Varen & I spent it on the farm with his whole fandamily. The drive there on late Friday afternoon was a bit more hectic than usual. We spent a lot of time driving towards a massive electrical storm (seriously, the lightning was amazing! I have never seen "star lightning" before!) and just after Senekal, we hit the rain. Boy did it pour. And then there were flooding dirt roads to contend with, but we all made it safe and sound.

The weather cleared up quite nicely for the rest of the weekend - thank goodness, was a little worried about Coal & Lily having gone all that way and not getting any decent run-around time, especially since they really do not seem to enjoy being in the car! I spent a lot of the weekend just relaxing, with the bunnies and my book.

Let me explain something here, I do like Varen's family, but sometimes it's hard for me. Aside from the fact that they're Afrikaans and I'm not (there are a lot of unwritten rules that I don't even know exist) and aside from the fact that there's a cloud of drama hanging over the family currently, there's the fact that when there's a mere family event, there are 9 *nine* people there. And there's still the potential for 2 more (currently Varen's youngest brother & sister are single). That's *alot* of people. In my immediate family, there's Mom, Dad, me & The Peeb. Even with Varen & Button that's still only 6 of us. Much more manageable ... for me. Varen doesn't notice that 9 is a crowd. So on these family weekends away I often find myself escaping to a quiet spot. It can be exhausting. My family does see the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins) for the usual sort of occasions: Christmas, birthdays, that sort of thing. But as much as I enjoy that, sometimes it can be exhausting too ;) And being perfectly honest, the only time we tried an entire family weekend away, I spent a fair amount of time escaping to my own space too!

Anyhoo. It's also interesting in other ways. I'm by far the eldest of the crowd (other than his folks, of course), being just less than 2 years older than Varen ... who is a whopping 13 years or so older than his sister. Being around teenagers is weird. It's now 12 years since I left school and I am beginning to wonder how parents ever manage to relate to the strange creatures that inhabit a high-school (clearly getting old here!). I mean, I can remember the feeling, of thinking that you were mature and old and definitely knew what was best for yourself, now if only you could be truly independent and not rely on your parents for lifts everywhere! It's certainly a funny stage to look back on ... because I am only realising now how much effort it must take from parents not to a) shoot their ridiculous ideas about life right down and b) not to pack up laughing all the time. Teenagers have *no* idea about real life. And in some ways I envy them ... they believe everything is possible, because they haven't yet had to consider the consequences. Imagine your biggest worry being your outfit (okay, some people my age still act like it is!) or if that Matric boy noticed you when you walked passed and if your friends think you're "cool" enough (okay, that never bothered me). It is so weird to look at someone at that stage in their life and wonder who they'll be at 30. I know at 16 you think you know who you are ... but I've learnt that you really don't. You still have a lot of learning to do ... although no 16 year old would ever believe that ;)

So yeah, it was a good weekend, generally. But I was glad to get home ... to another rain-storm! We also watched Bangkok Dangerous this weekend (I tell you, I should *never* let Varen pick the movie!)

Joe, an international hit man who follows a simple code, arrives in Bangkok for his last contract - four kills and then retirement. He hires Kong, a local street hustler, to run his errands, and he gets to work. By the second hit, Joe has started violating his four rules, losing his anonymity, leaving behind traces, and getting emotionally involved. Only one rule remains intact: don't ask questions. Can Joe regain his footing and get out alive?

It was rubbish, even Varen agreed (after putting up such a fuss to watch it :) ) I don't know what's happened to Nicholas Cage's movie choices lately. But anyway. Ridiculous, do not waste your time watching this!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Early Bird

I had to write a cheque yesterday (to renew my car license). But first, I had to go hunting for my cheque book. Seriously. I haven't used it since June04. Yesterday's cheque was my ninth. Which got me thinking about kids these days ... who will teach them to write a cheque and do you even get cheque books anymore? I remember growing up, a cheque book was a standard item in my mom's overflowing handbag. I think it might've even been in mine when I first got it (probably sometime in 2003). But these days I didn't even know where the damn thing was. What a ridiculous requirement by a government (assume it's them :P) department. Seriously, a cheque.

Anyhoo. Yesterday I went to gym and went home to make dinner for three, J9-double0blonde came over for dinner. I made Greek-style stuffed pork fillets. Basically, pork fillets stuffed with goats-cheese and sundried tomatos wrapped in parma ham. They came out pretty great (looking) but Varen did not appreciate the taste one bit (so I guess it won't be getting a repeat performance). I don't think it was too bad tho.

Was cool to see J9 again, it's been a while and we all chatted the night away with 2 bottles of wine. Yet still for some reason this morning I was up super early and in at work at 06h30 - we're headed to the Farm this weekend (it'll be Lily's first visit) so wanna leave work half an hour early so worked out great!

But since I left home at 6am, I figured I'd try the highway (it's usually too chaotic by 6:30 when I normally leave). And still, it was 3 lanes of traffic. At 6am in the morning. What the hell. Now I'm more convinced than ever that a mere single extra lane will not be sufficient ... and even less so by the time it's actually complete (2011, what!).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Could I Have Lived Then?

Last night I did another Wednesday 5-o-clock movie. This time I saw The Duchess.

Long before the concept existed, the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgina Spencer (Keira Knightley), was the original "It Girl." Like her direct descendent, Princess Diana, she was ravishing, glamorous and adored by the entire country. Determined to be a player in the wider affairs of the world, she proved that she could out-gamble, out-drink and outwit most of the aristocratic men who surrounded her. She helped usher in sweeping changes to England as a leader of the forward-thinking Whig Party. But even as her power and popularity grew, she was haunted by the fact that the only man in England she could not seduce was her own husband, the Duke (Ralph Fiennes). And when she tried to find her own way to be true to her heart and loyal to her duty, the resulting controversies and convoluted liaisons pushed her to the brink of risking banishment by her husband, her family and all of London society.

Meh, the movie was okay. Much the same as all recent movies of the same style: The Other Boleyn Girl and Marie Antoinette. Mostly it just made me think about living a life back then versus now. Now I know the movies only really show the super duper upper crust of society, they were the ones with money to burn and flamboyant outfits and arranged marriages. So, it's a pretty one-sided view of life back then. But I wonder what it would've been like to be married off and told by your own mother (who presumably had been told by hers) to basically just suck it up, do you duty (ie. have babies, more importantly sons) and that was your lot in life. I know I feel like I'd be a lot more independent than that, but I guess it's the time we're brought up in. I definitely have an opinion, but has that been cultured and allowed to blossom thru my upbringing or is it just naturally there. I definitely don't think I could grin-and-bear-it like Ikea Knightley's (too much Mark Kermode!) character did. Well, certainly not in this day and age. And I wonder when and how did it change. It was 200+ or so years ago ... that's a lot of slow evolutions of opinions. And they only seem to tell the stories of the strong-willed women. The men of that time rarely come off very well. Even her love-interest in the movie didn't dazzle me.

And then again I wonder, is it not best to just get on with your life. Do we expect too much from it these days? I'm sure I do. Mostly in these stories the women start out pretty hazy-eyed, looking for true love (blah, blah) and rarely find it in their own husband. Where did they get these ideas of love and more importantly marrying the man you love (mostly their marriages seem to be more like business deals) ... it clearly wasn't happening. What made them have such rose-tinted ideas as to believe that was possible, since it never seemed to happen. Yes, they had their husband and no doubt they had plenty of lovers ... but their husband funded their lifestyle, along with his own (see, the business deal side of things). On the other hand, what makes us so determined to find our perfect, one-and-only true love that we sometimes waste away our lives. I'm not saying one shouldn't be with someone you love, or that a marriage as a business deal makes any sense ... but I'm saying that sometimes I think we're looking too hard. Sometimes I keep waiting for my life to reach some stage of perfection so I'll know I've made all the right choices. But I'm learning that that's not the most likely outcome of life. Life is choices. Sometimes they turn out to be the right ones and sometimes they don't ... mostly you never know upfront. So sometimes you just have to "do" and hope for the best. Rather than waiting around till you think you'll somehow know that something is the right choice. Mostly you'll just have wasted a lot of time not doing anything while waiting for a decision to prove itself before you make it.

I guess my point is: We never know what the right thing to do is. But sometimes you just have to do something to stop yourself from doing nothing for the rest of your life.

Now if only I could listen to my own advice ;)

Anyhoo, after the movie, I went home and relaxed with Varen and the boons. He sat next to me with his iPod in, on his laptop in Computer-Geek mode while I watched Private Practice :) That's what I love about early movies ... there's still plenty of time in the evening when you get home to relax.

Update 10h37: Oh and I totally forgot to mention ... last night after the movie I finally spent my Xmas voucher for Musica from BrotherZion. Initially I was concerned as how to spend this, let's just say I don't really buy music much. Or dvds. I watch things about once and rarely watch things more than twice. Well these days. Back in my youth, we grew up watching Rocky Horror and The Three Musketeers (ask the Peeb, I don't know why this became a "cult classic" in our household, it might've been our Tim Curry obsession, but we both know about every line of it!), at least monthly. So I spent my voucher on some good classics: The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease. Cheesy, I know. But they are classics and you can watch them repeatedly ... and I figure they'll be good to have one day when I want to teach my daughters about the best movies of the previous decades :) Now I just need to get Dirty Dancing and Three Musketeers and I'll be done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Two-Times-Ticket Theorum

I'm in a better mood today. I woke up yesterday with a burning desire to book a flight to Cape Town to see my family. So I did just that. Most of the time I struggle to justify spending 2grand on a mere weekend trip and find that flying in on a Friday night and out again on a Sunday afternoon can sometimes be more traumatic (just when you're settling back in, you have to leave again). But this time I thought screw it, I wanna go.

So I did just that ... although the actual ticket booking process wasn't as simple as I was expecting :) Haha. So I looked at Kulula - excuse me, aren't they supposed to be our *budget* airline ?! Now fair enough, I was looking at dates that are a mere 3-4 weeks away but seriously, they're charging R1200 - R1850 per flight (yes, one way people!). Ahem. So naturally I checked Mango ... not much better. So I ended up having a look at Travelstart, which can usually be quite helpful. Travelstart could get me a return ticket on SAA for just over R1700. Whoo hoo, happy days. So I start going thru the whole process. Can you believe they now offer all these "extras" (already ticked, I might add!) like TravelAssist (which I think is for people in a wheelchair and the like ... how can this be pre-ticked for every ticket purchased?), a Cancellation Policy (if you get ill or a family member dies and you have to miss your flight), an SMS service (for R19 ?! Just how many SMSes are they sending a person, I want to know!) and my personal favourite: Airline Liquidation Policy (you know, for all those people who were caught out when Nationwide went under). Sheesh. All these pre-selected "extras" add close to R500 onto your ticket price. Needless to say I didn't want any!

And then I thought, hang-on, why not check out SAA directly? Which I did, and got the exact same flights R200 cheaper! Hello, now I'm smiling :) So let's put this all into perspective for you: SAA flights ended up costing me R600 (plus a whopping R900 on airport taxes ... that's 150% of my friggin ticket price people! Now I'd really like someone to explain airport taxes to me cause they seem exorbitant). SAA is our local carrier and serves a meal on each flight. I won't say if the meal itself is good or bad, I can't remember when last I had a meal on a flight to Cape Town! But the main reason I'm pointing this out is that I still get freebies, like a meal, on a return flight costing R1500. Kulula, our original low cost carrier (ie. no freebie meals), would cost me just over R3000 ... and that's with a Discovery Vitality discount!

Anyway, needless to say I don't think I did too badly with that. But that's not the end of the story. I head off to my email account (gmail, duh) to await my confirmation email ... and find a booking confirmation email from Travelstart. WTF? Surely you can't confirm a booking before I pay? Surely. No no, their friendly email tells me I have until the 18th to pay. Eep. I certainly do NOT want to be paying for 2 flights to Cape Town on the same weekend! Panic stations. I've never had to cancel a flight before, do they let you off the hook that easily. Varen assures me they do (especially since I hadn't yet paid), but I wasn't going to be breaqthing a sigh of relief till it was resolved. So I tried calling their hot-line (about 10 times) ... no answer. Their 8 - 5 online chat service ... offline (even tho it's like 9am!). I am freaking out here people! So I mail them. Finally (about 10 minutes later) somone comes online, available to "chat". Shoo! Thankfully she had my erroneously booked flight cancelled a few minutes later and I let out a long sigh of relief. So the good news is, I'm going to Cape Town in March for a much-deserved weekend :) Yay.

Not much else happened yesterday. I did manage to get to gym tho :) And I made a delish Vegetarian Cottage Cheese Lasagne for dinner. Which my red-meat-eating Afrikaans boyfriend gave an 8 out of 10 :) I know! It was delish tho ... but was plenty prep work. Seriously, grilling red peppers till they blister and peeling off the skin is just far too much of a hassle for me! Thanks for helping, babe, you're a * :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hello, Anybody Out There?

Sigh. I am not okay. I'm bored. And I'm boring. I dunno, I seem to be in a rut. But I know it's me who's put myself there. I'm in a routine ... and as a Taurean, I do love my routines :) But I feel like I'm in limbo really (this all may end up contradicting itself, but I don't really understand how I feel exactly, so bear with me please). Like I packed myself into a box and now I'm waiting. Don't ask me what I'm waiting for, I have no idea.

I go thru these phases every so often. I'm an organiser. But when I stop organising somehow things in my life seem to come to a complete stand-still. No one I know picks up the slack ... so I end up not doing very much. Which is oddly fine by me. It's boring, but I just don't feel like I have the energy to do much lately anyway ... other than go to work, go to gym (although have been equally bad at that lately), play with my darling bunnies, veg in front of some new series episodes and make dinner each night. That is my life. I'm not excited by anything at the moment. Nothing captures my attention. People aren't interesting to me lately either.

I feel like I've given up and now am going thru the motions of life. It is a dull place to be. My world has gotten very small. Sigh. Almost thought it was a Monday there, huh? Anyway, as described above, last night was much the same as every other night. Although I skipped gym (was going to go later with Varen but then he wasn't in the mood ... it's damn hard to get motivated to go to gym after 7pm at night!) and made a yummy Apricot Chicken dish for dinner. That's all. Riveting, eh?

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver

Rhyme's cousin has been arrested for murder. The evidence clearly shows he did it, but Rhyme agrees to check things out. It turns out that the cousin along with other people has been wrongly convicted because the true killer knows every single detail about the lives of the victims he kills and the men he sets up to take the fall for those crimes. This allows him to get close to the victims under false pretenses, murder or rape, and escape safely. And then he sets up others to take the fall for his crimes, planting incontrovertible evidence Rhyme, Sachs and the rest of the team have to find out who at the huge, ominous data mining company is getting access to this information. Meanwhile the villain--known only by a number to us--realizes he's being pursued and turns his knowledge of data and information into a weapon. Oh, and lest things seem too delicate, he also gets information through good old-fashioned murder and torture too.

Loved this book ... probably because a) it's a Jeffery Deaver "Lincoln Rhymes" novel and b) it was such a relief to be reading something new after Strange & Norrell! Plus it's a particularly interesting story, in light of one of my projects at work at the moment :) (without saying too much, it uses some of that survey data that's available about the general population)

> Follow Jeffery Deaver on Twitter

Valentines Weekend

Morning. I'm in an oddly off-line mood lately. Have been since Friday. Barely went onto the internet at all this weekend ... except on Sunday afternoon I started to worry about the number of items in my Reader and thought I better get some read before Monday. I also downloaded some adorable photo's of Lily (will have to add them to the post later as I was certainly not feeling industrious enough to re-size them yesterday). Have not been taking many photo's lately either ... instead I've preferred actually just spending time with them, the cuteys!

Update 16h32: And here are the photo's of my cute little girl! She climbs into and sits in the little bowl made by the "extras" from my Mexican Chimenea (the chimney addition and the base plate for inside the fireplace). She climbed into there a couple of separate times on Sunday afternoon and would happily stay in there grooming herself for half an hour at time. Adorable!

So the weekend ... Friday night was lazy, as usual. Just hung out at home. In fact the whole weekend was pretty lazy! I hid Varen's Valentine's pressie under his pillow before bed (thinking he wouldn't find it till I told him to look there the next morning). But he did. We decided not to do the cards thing, we weren't even really going to do the gifts thing, rather just go for a nice dinner out together (get's pretty pricey, like everything else, on Valentines day!) but, I was in Edgars browsing for myself when I saw a shirt that screamed him. So I figured, I'd get it for him ... not exactly for Valentines, but it's a good enough excuse ;)

On Saturday morning we took Coal to the vet to have his stitches taken out ... although we were pretty sure there weren't any left. We were right. Sadly I forgot to have him checked to see if he's ready to be snipped yet :( He's 3 months now so should be ready. Am dreading a) having to take him back to do that this week and b) taking him in for the snipping. The poor boy was so miserable and freaked out by just being in the vet's rooms (guess it was probably all those dogs in the waiting room too) so, I took him outside and sat with him while we waited for our turn. He was much happier like that. Plus, it's only 2 weeks since he last had stitches, it seems a little cruel to take him back for more :( Poor baby.

Erm, I can't really remember what else we did on Saturday, I think we just spent the afternoon at home, enjoying our new stash of series. And in the evening we went for dinner. Varen had booked a table at one of our favourite restaurants (as a surprise although I did end up guessing it beforehand ... he's not that sneaky when giving clues!), which we haven't been to in ages, Soulsa. It was lovely being there again, I love the vibe of the place. But I was a little disappointed by their more-limited-than-usual set menu. The starters & desserts were fine, and I enjoyed the cucumber & mint soup in between starters and mains. But for mains they only offered a) a vegetarian dish, this used mushroom prominently and as such was last on my list of possibilities b) sirloin with peppercorn sauce, which Varen seemed to really enjoy, but meat is not right up there on my list of favourite meals and c) kingklip parmigiano, which is what I ended up having. I'm not a huge fish fan, but kingklip probably has the least appealing taste of them all, I find it terribly bland. Now if they'd had salmon ;) The potato thing they did with it was very nice tho :) And explain something else to me ... who on earth invented the fish knife? Now while it may be handy when delicately separating fillets of fish, it is completely useless when trying to attack anything else on your plate. Anyhoo, the evening was spent discussing our future plans, sipping cocktails and a good bottle of red wine. Despite the not-earth-shattering food, the evening was good :)

On Sunday Varen went climbing and I hit the pool (yay, no swim school!). After that we did our marathon week's shop (I have some good dinner's planned this week!) and then BrotherZion came over for a braai.

Was a good relaxing weekend, and I really did not want to get up & come to work this morning! Sigh.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Friends

So yesterday I skipped gym, yet again. It's this weather, I'm sure ... it's not motivational, all it makes me want to do is go home, crawl under a blanket and watch series or read my book.

Oh, and I don't think I'll be watching the end of Into the Wild either ... I think we may have deleted the file in our mad rush to get new series. Anyhoo, I'm not feeling any sort of loss over it.

Last night Varen went climbing and I went to Doppio Rosebank to meet up with someone I haven't seen in almost 5 years. Sheesh. Let's call him PerfectOnPaper. I guess I should provide a little background to this story. I met him at some random house party back in 2003 ... in my single phase between dating The Lying Pilot and Bean. We actually laughed about this last night because he couldn't remember how we'd met. We never officially dated, but we saw each other every so often for drinks and I went to a few work functions of his over the next 6 months. And then I met Bean and started dating him and moved to Joburg. I think I saw PerfectOnPaper once or twice in those early Joburg days when he happened to be up on business. I haven't seen him since then but we kept in touch (facebook) and he recently moved up to Joburg.

It's a pretty weird situation, really ... I wonder if anyone else has felt this before? I remember thinking in 2003 how he & I should've worked, we were perfect on paper. In theory we'd be an ideal couple. But there was something missing. In 2003 there was definitely spark. So I really have no idea what it was. And it made me a little nervous to see him again 5 years later. But it was so fine. Lovely really. Like catching up with an old friend where although 5 years have passed, it's like nothing has changed (except for the romantic involvement bit). I actually think after all this time we could be quite good friends.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nothing Much

Oops, last night I didn't end up finishing "Into The Wild" ... but I'll get round to it (probably not this evening either tho, going out for dinner with an old friend who's moved up from Cape Town), I must say tho, the story wasn't especially gripping, so I'm not desperate to see the rest.

Had a bit of a lazy day. The bunnies are so cute (although frustrated by the rain ... but if it's not actually raining we still let them run around on the wet grass). Am teaching Coal to jump up onto the couch and sit with me (will eventually get some photos). He's such a cutey and really enjoying his new game. Although he's not so sure about the jumping down part (he sort of slides off). But he'll get the hang of it :) He's even more affectionate than Bell was. And much less naughty :)

Last night we hung out with some friends, TheBrad and DJMike. Was a good evening :) Oh, and I made open-toasted cheese & tomato for dinner ( a quick snack before heading out) ... I had such a craving. It was delish. Sometimes it really is all abotu the simple things :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Only Half a Movie ...

Last night was nothing spectacular. My mood seems to be a bit down lately (the weather perhaps? my current project at work driving me nuts?) and I am picking fault with all sorts of things.

I did have an especially good afternoon (after running thru the rain to my car from the office and then again from the car to my house ... in a T-Shirt!), I lazed at home reading my book under a blanket, with the bunnies inside, watching the rain. Was actually pretty awesome ... Aside from the fact that when I got home Coal & Lily were both out of the hutch (either Varen didn't latch the top storey door properly or they managed to push it open somehow), having jumped from the 2nd storey ... and obviously now had no way to get back in. Luckily they weren't too drenched because the hutch is sheltered under the balconey and Coal seems to have mostly stayed under the protection of the roof. Lily on the other hand had very definitely ventured out to nibble the grass, who can blame her? This morning I tied the top-storey door shut ... just in case :)

Made Thai Basil Chicken Stirfry for dinner last night which was yummy. And watched *half* of Into the Wild. When I started it, I did not realise that it was 2 & half hours long ... I figured guys wanders off, into the wild ... and dies (yeah, I know how the story ends). Hell, do you think there'd have been a Hollywood movie if he didn't? Anyhoo ... plan to finish watching it this evening. Will let you know my thoughts whne I'm done.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sometimes Work Sucks

Sigh. Yesterday was such a Monday work-wise. It's odd to me how I can love my job and not dread going into work at all ... yet I still hate aspects of it while I'm there. Good disassociation, me thinks :) I am currently working on the project from hell. It'll be great once it's done, I do believe that. But unfortunately, at the moment, it is all about shifting goal-posts and fighting with the client about what's in scope and what's gonna cost him extra (lucky those are not my fights!). Oh, and did I mention just how incapable of conveying a concrete concept this client is. Sigh. It's funny how people can end up so wrapped up in their own industry that they can't for a minute comprehend that someone else doesn't understand the lingo.

Anyhoo, dinner last night was good: Salmon & Potato bake. And this morning I've been looking at photo's of the mom of my next possible bunny (yet to be born, but the litter is due any day now). Have you seem siamese-coloured bunnies ... they look stunning! Finger's crossed folks :) If we do get one from this litter tho, it'll probably only be available end of March ... that's miles away!

Oh, oh, oh and I almost forgot ... I have just updated the bloggirls wiki with the February end-of-the-month event. AND this month we're adding something new (born out of the comments on this post), a mid-month Friday-night dinner. Check it out and sign up if you're keen to join us :)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

Okay, so I'll admit that this almost 800-page tome took me almost 2 months to read ... that's not to say it's not a good book. It sorta is. But it's supremely long. And unnecessarily so, in my opinion. It's hard to say if I enjoyed it or not ... I barely remember how it started now. But I'm glad I stuck with it an finished it. It's still an interesting read. If you like magicians and/or 18th century England :) It does get a little tedious however with the excessive use of footnotes, much like The Moneypenny Diaries. Needless to say I'm glad I'm onto something new :)

The Weekend Past

Well I had a good weekend. Nothing too spectacular tho. Friday was a stay at home watch series night. Always nice to start the weekend relaxed, I say.

Saturday morning we took Coal back to the vet. I am sure he doesn't need his stitches in for 14 days and they looked ready to come out ... but the vet was having none of it and sent us on our way ... assuring me that leaving them in longer than necessary causes no harm (I'm not convinced ... but anyway). We have every intention of taking him back this Saturday ... but to be honest by Sunday morning the stitches all appear to have been removed by Coal and/or Lily (I've noticed her nibbling around his wound, who knows!). But both are doing wonderfully ... I can't explain how much I enjoy just chilling outside with those two sweeties.

On Saturday afternoon, Varen & I decided to go for a drink at Moyo in Zoo Lake ... it being the first decent sun-shiny day we've had in a while. It was fab and the service was better than usual for Moyo. We drank cocktails and shared a platter as a late lunch. Sigh, such a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

After that we thought we'd catch a movie ... but the place was packed. We even tried a nearby Nu Metro, but Rock n Rolla (Varen's choice) wasn't even showing there :P (Which we only found out after the drive!) so we headed home for another quiet evenings.

Varen went climbing on Sunday morning while I did the admin-type stuff and then we went round to JofH and YogaCherryl's to meet their new Russian Blue kitty. Gorgeous. After that the 4 of us headed to Xai-Xai in Melville, I've been craving their Chicken Trinchado and darwa's. Another lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon :) Sadly the meal was a little disappointing tho because "they ran out of chicken" and I was stuck with Beef Trinchado ... which I wouldn't recommend. But thanks to the company it was still a lovely afternoon :)

I followed it up with some lazing in the garden with my sweet bunnies, desperately trying to finally finish Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Coal is so cute, he'll come and climb onto my lap and then stand on his back legs and put his front legs on my shoulder to say hello. Such a cutey.

After that, Varen & I finally got to watch Rock n Rolla.

The film takes a dangerous ride into high crime and low life in contemporary London, where real estate has supplanted drugs as the biggest market, and criminals are its most enthusiastic entrepreneurs. With millions up for grabs, all of London's criminal underworld conspires, colludes and collides with one another in an effort to take their cut. But, as high rollers and petty criminals alike jockey for dominance, the true prize of one multi-million-dollar deal will fall into the hands of a junkie rock star, presumed dead but very much alive.

Meh, it wasn't that great. It's very Guy Ritchie ... there are gangsters, and more importantly there are gangsters with the low-life British accents. Sigh, but this one did not have the fabulous turns and twists of Lock Stock or Snatch. Well, I guess he might've thought it did, but I wasn't impressed. And that awful-looking Johnny Quidd or whatever his name was just irritated the crap out of me. Sigh. It was fine enough ... but not spectacular, unfortunately. I wonder if Mark Kermode is tainting my movie-watching ... ?

This morning I tried gym-before-work (I have an annoying late meeting this afternoon). I was amazed at just how packed the gym was when I arrived just before 7am ... but chuckled quietly as the place emptied out not 10 minutes later. I got a whole lane in the pool to myself ;) I figured I'd try Kauai for breakfast ... bad mistake. I've been nothing but disappointed in their food for a while. Oh well. At least that's Monday gym out of the way already !

Friday, February 06, 2009

Could I Plan It?

Skipped gym yesterday (damn!). And then I went to book club a little later. A lovely evening, but lots more news than usual. We have a postponed wedding and a new arrival due later this year :)

I am thrilled for the mom-to-be, Lime. But it makes me feel oddly weird. I realised I'm jealous of those people who get to plan a pregnancy. Who get to do it all on purpose. I hope to get there one day, but I'm just not sure it'll happen like that for me. I don't know that I will ever deem myself or my relationships ready ... will I ever choose to inflict this world on a child? Plus I'm jealous of those people who get to be married for 5 years and then decide that now is the time to add a baby. That'll never be me either ... I'm getting too old. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't just stop trying to plan anything and just let life happen. I know I want kids. Is it worth all the waiting to find the right person and be in the right place as we've been taught? I know there are quite a few people who get that right, but I think there are even more who don't go the "conventional route". Mostly it just makes me realise that I have no idea what I want. I'd love to go the conventional route, get married, have babies, live happily ever after ... all before I'm 30 (with barely over a year to go, there's NO chance that'll happen!). Hell, I wonder if there's time enough to get that right before I'm 35. Time is a scary thing.

Technically my body is going to be 29 in April. My mind still seems to be stuck at 25. Not that I'm not responsible or all those things that come with age, I definitely am. It's just that other bits of my life still make me feel like I should only be about 25 ... instead of pushing 30. Surely I should've acheived more family-or-relationship-wise? But all that said, I'm mostly blissfully happy relationship-wise (yes, we have our annoying moments like everyone else!). But I think I might be a bit of a committment-phobe ... forever sounds like a really long time. Hell, even having kids (and the fact that they're there every single day for a good 18 - 21 years, if not more), seems like more committment than I think I could handle. But then I think about how much I love my bunnies and would do absolutely anything for them (don't worry, I have no delusions that they aren't attempts to mother). And I realise I'd be the same and more for my kid. What about the things I'd miss tho? Would I give those up willingly, as one does when you plan something this big? My freedom to travel (I still plan on doing that, assuming there's enough cash), hell, just doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

Plus, I worry that if you have a child in the conventional way (with your husband / boyfriend) you create expectations for them, that they may or may not live up to. You are essentially setting yourself up for some sort of disappointment. What if they are not the parent you wanted them to be? I worry that if I went into this knowing I'd be solely responsible, it'd be easier than expecting someone to share responsibility, only to discover that they don't.

Okay jees, that was a bit of a ramble. I know, I know, I'm over thinking. But, that's what I do. That's probably the most likely reason I'd never be able to plan a baby for myself. The over-thinking. Sigh. It's Friday ... time to be upbeat and congratulate Lime :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Early Movie

Last night was fun :) Varen & I both made a plan to be home early, skip the gym and/or studying and go to a 5 o'clock movie. It was great, not a queue in sight and a cinema so empty I was the noisiest person there ... my dream movie-watching situation. We watched Valkyrie.

The “July 20 Plot” on Hitler’s life is one of the most heroic but least known episodes of World War Two. Severely wounded in combat, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg returns from Africa to join the German Resistance and help create Operation Valkyrie, the complex plan that will allow a shadow government to replace Hitler’s once he is dead. But fate and circumstance conspire to thrust Stauffenberg from one of many in the plot to a double-edged central role. Not only must he lead the coup and seize control of his nation’s government. He must kill Hitler himself.

Loved it. Absolutely loved it. I didn't know much about the story, other than the obvious fact that it wasn't successful. And even knowing that, you still are hoping against hope that it's successful. My favourite line of the movie had to be "We are the coup" (if you've watched it should make sense).

After that we went home to make dinner, but neither of us were that hungry. So I made it anyway (for lunch today) ... vegetarian pizzas with aubergine, courgette and mushroom (for Varen, I cant' stand the buggers). Ended up eating some of it as a late dinner tho, and they were quite nice. Will make them again sometime, but will thin-grate the veg instead of slicing next time, I think.

In other news, Coal's superficial wound is healing nicely ... scabs are starting to fall off (or he's picking them off, I'm not sure). And he's getting that scar-textured skin. Damn, I hope his fur grows back, but somehow I doubt it will :( Poor boy.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Please Can I Say No!

Sigh. I think swimming is ruined for me. I don't mind sharing a lane ... If. I . Have. To. But honestly, it is not my preferred way to swim. And I seem to have one of those invisible signs (Varen has one that says "Beg from Me"), I'm guessing mine says something like "Swim with Me" or "Share my Lane". Sigh. I can just have climbed into the pool and done a single lap ... there can be 2 other lanes with people more likely to finish up first. But still. Every. Single. Time. Someone will walk up to my lane and say "Do you mind if I share?". Really, why are you even asking. Can I say no? Please, can I?

Anyhoo. Last night was pretty uneventful. Except that the Grilled Prawns with Paw-Paw Salsa (was supposed to be scallops, but what can you do?) that I made yesterday for dinner was delish :) I think it'd be fab as a starter, in Cape Town, with the sunset. So lovely and fresh. I was amazed at how nicely the flavours went together!

Ps. It's a month since Bell died. I feel weird.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dear Virgin Active

So I went swimming yesterday after work ... as I do. I've been going to the new Brightwater Virgin Active these days because they have a nice cosy 5-lane pool, which few people seem to know about. And generally if you're there before 16h30 you can get a lane to yourself. Until yesterday that is. They have gone and screwed it all up by handing over 2 (of 5!) lanes to a freaking swim school. Now because of the bliss of having a lane to myself, I could get past their dreadful "blue lighting" in the changing rooms (that gives me a headache!) and their shower area smelling of mold (already, the place has just been built!). But now, they're fast loosing their charm. What kind of freaking stupid idea is this anyway. Why can't these 7 to 15 year old "darlings" learn to swim at school?! They can't all be home-schooled. Why must they come and invade my space, my paid-for-monthly space. Aaaargh. That completely ruined my day. Sigh, and I doubt it'll be improving today :P Anybody got a heated gym pool with no swim school they can recommend?

But the evening did improve. Last night's new-year-new-recipes dinner was Chicken Tikka and was delish :) I love how easy these all are to make. And I promise, as soon as I've tried everything once and move onto repeat performances, I'll be putting the recipes up here with photos.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Another Visit to the Vet

So Friday turned out to be way more eventful than planned ... and not in a good way! I went to gym after work, got home. Varen got home. The bunnies were out playing on the grass. You know, the usual. Varen was internet-ing and I started to watch an episode of Series.

Now me, I check that I can see Coal and Lily about once every 5 minutes or so ... I'm compulsive like that. And suddenly, I couldn't see Coal. We checked the garden, the little piece of netting in the drainage hole between us and the garden next door was missing, it must've washed away in all this rain. OMG. Panic stations. Varen jumped over the wall. There's a labrador in the garden next door. Coal was no where to be seen. I went inside to look around, in case he'd just wandered upstairs again. Nothing. Varen went up and down outside our garden, looking in everyone else's garden. I did the same. We looked around the *entire* complex. I stood on our balcony hoping like crazy that he couldn't have got out into the field on the other side of the complex walls. He's not an adventurous bunny, I couldn't believe that if he'd got out of our garden he would be more than a few meters away. Where the fark was he?!

I have no idea how long we searched for. It felt like forever. In reality, it could've been anything between 20 minutes and an hour. Eventually I found him. Sitting behind the gate of the "laundry area" (outside all the kitchen windows there's a little enclosure where people keep their garbage bins and sometimes have washing lines) about 5 houses up from our front door. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how he'd ended up on that side of the house instead of the garden side, but I was filled with relief and didn't thin about it too much.

We got him back into the house and put him in the hutch with Lily. Not long after that I got him out just to hold and check that he didn't have any injuries ... there are plenty of cats around. And we fed him some carrot. He seemed to be his usual self. And then I found his wounds. On his back and his hind legs, he had scratches. Varen suggested maybe putting Mecurochrome on it as an anti-septic (which we didn't). We were planning a trip to the vet on Saturday morning anyway, to check if he was ready to be snipped yet anyway. We weren't too worried. Until I looked online. Basically they say if your rabbit get's attacked by a cat, consider it an emergency situation. I called our vet's emergency number. No answer, just the number for Fourways. I called them and they said bring him in.

We raced thru to Fourways and were helped immediately. They shaved his thick thick fur off and we got a better look. One of the scratches is superficial (that's the one you can see in the picture on the left) but the other was caused by a large tooth (not a cat) and left a flap of skin. My poor little boy had to have stitches. Since Friday he's been on pain meds, anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories. Oh, and they've both had another dose of Panacur yesterday and this morning. But he's doing fine. He's thankfully his usual happy self, hardly aware that he's injured himself, running and jumping around the garden and eating and drinking as normal. Such a sweet boy!

We got home from the vet at 10pm on Friday evening. Exhausted and drained. I was very impressed with Fourways and am actually glad we ended up there with their two guys helping to hold him down, a very friendly nurse and a surgeon (although he wasn't very friendly and didn't even speak to us!). I felt good knowing he was definitely getting better care.

Saturday morning we went out for breakfast at Doppio Zero and then headed home. I was quite happy to just sit around watching Coal and reassuring myself he was really okay. In the afternoon, Varen stayed home to study and I went to the Jan09 bloggirls lunch in Edenvale :)

We went to Nescafe and enjoyed some lovely cocktails (strawberry margarita's were definitely the cocktail of choice!). It was such a lovely afternoon, with such a lovely bunch of ladies: Louisa, LauraKim (her first bloggirls!), MsMozi (haven't seen her since the very first one!), Exmi, Sweets, Angel and Jackson's Mom. Angel made us two batches of cupcakes! She made these amazing strawberry cheesecake ones which were my favourites. I forget what the other ones were called, but they had apple. And Exmi brought my Body Thrills loot! The website isn't up yet so we got a pre-launch discount.

Didn't do much on Saturday after that. I've tried out one of my new bath products :) So far I tried the Cinnamon, Ginger and Lime Bath Crystals (on Saturday) and the Chocolate Bath Milkshake (on Sunday evening). The Cinnamon, Ginger and Lime is by far my favourite. It smells divine!! The Chocolate Milkshake smells good too, but the smell doesn't seem to last as long. Can't wait to try the Jasmine & White Tea Bath Sherbet later this week :)

After my bath we watched two movies: In Bruges and Mama's Boy. Neither of which was particularly impressive. I could have happily lived my life, while both of these remained un-watched.

The Irish hit-men Ken and Ray are sent by the Londoner mobster Harry Waters to the medieval Belgium city of Bruges in Christmas after an awry job in London. Ray, in his first assignment, was sent to murder a priest in a church, and he accidentally shot a boy in the head. While Ken enjoys the historic city, Ray, who is in inner conflict due to the death of the boy, feels completely bored and misses his home. Ray meets the small time drug-dealer and crook Chloë, who sells drug to the cast and crew of a movie that is filmed in Bruges, and has an incident with a Canadian tourist and later with Chloë's boyfriend. Meanwhile Harry, who has an stringent code of principles, orders Ken to kill his protégée Ray.

Eccentric Jeffrey Mannus is 29 years old and still lives at home with his mom, Jan. He sees no reason to alter this arrangement, but his perfect world is upended when Jan meets Mert, a motivational speaker. Mert successfully woos Jan and moves in on Jeffrey's territory, something Jeffrey will not tolerate. Jeffrey enlists the aid of an unlikely ally, an aspiring singer-songwriter, Nora, with an anti-establishment penchant and a soft spot for him. As the war between Mert and Jeffrey escalates, something unprecedented happens -- slowly, to both his own surprise and horror, Jeffrey discovers his inner adult.

In Bruges was by far the better movie, but both were pretty boring. I think Mama's Boy made a better trailer than movie (which seems to happen far more often than should!) and as Varen said, it would've been much better if Jeffrey wasn't such an annoying character. The "happy ending" isn't very happy cause you actually just can't stand the guy and don't think he deserves it. In Bruges had a pretty predictable ending.

On Sunday Varen went for lunch at his folks and I went to watch Revolutionary Road.

Frank and April have always seen themselves as special, different and ready and willing to live their lives based on higher ideals. As soon as they move into their new house on Revolutionary Road, they proudly declare their independence from the suburban inertia that surrounds them and determine never to be trapped by the social confines of their era. Yet, for all their charm, beauty and irreverence, the Wheelers find themselves becoming exactly what they didn’t expect: A good man with a meaningless job whose nerve has gone missing; a less-than-happy homemaker starving for fulfillment and passion; an American family with lost dreams, like any other.

Driven to change their fates, April hatches an audacious plan to start all over again, to leave the comforts of Connecticut for the great unknown of Paris. But when the plan is put in motion, each spouse is pushed to extremes – one to escape whatever the cost, the other to save all that they have.

I loved this movie. But it probably wasn't the best thing to watch when you're slightly pms-ing and have just had a huge fight with your significant other. I wished Varen had come to watch it with me. I can't describe what I felt when it finished. I could completely relate and it left me feeling hollow and questioning *everything*.

When I got home, I spent an hour sitting outside with Coal & Lily. They were so adorable. Lily came and lay down on the blanket next to me and then Coal came and cuddled next to her (in the picture below on the left his arm is over her ... so cute!). Jees, I love my bunnies.

Varen got home a while later and we lazed away for the rest of the evening.

Ps. While Coal was at the vet on Friday evening, we asked them to check if he was ready to be snipped ... I was sure he must be. But nope, not yet :) We'll check him again in 2 weeks when he goes to have the stitches removed.

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