Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm not in a great mood today. Just down, I guess. Just disconnected from everything. Thinking life sucks. I hate feeling like I have to wait for all these little things to come together before anything can happen to move forward. I hate feeling like I'm just going to waste it all and acheive none of my dreams (and it's not like I want to be a spaceman or something completely unrealistic, you know?) ...

Yesterday was pretty crap. I worked an extra hour again. Went home, spent some time outside with the bunnies, finally had a hot bath (Yay, our water came back on at 17h30 and was still on for me to shower in the comfort of my own home this morning - but I'll admit I was too nervous to put a load of laundry on in case they switch it off again!) and then went to bed. I was asleep around 19h30. Varen & I were having a marathon fight over email yesterday. I hate fighting over email. I especially hate fighting over email because I try to be careful of what I say (which I suppose is actually a good thing) so re-read and re-type everything a million times ... and then I get emails saying "Oh, so you're just ignoring me now?". Sigh. One can not win.

So today is sure to be spectacular (that was sarcasm). But I did have a little smile this morning :) I went outside to say hello to the boons before I left for work (a morning ritual) and saw that Rex (who was in the big hutch with Lily) was up on top of the box with her. I thought it'd be a good month / month & half before he'd manage to jump up there ... I wonder if he jumped or wriggled up the side against the mesh - I've seen Lily & Coal climbing straight up facebrick so it's not as crazy as it sounds!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Water or Electricity?

Nothing exciting to report. You'll notice I did finally download some weekend pics and upload them (see yesterday's post). But it was very hard to choose what to post and to find enough space :)

This morning I'm not in an ideal mood. We'll be working a bit late this week trying to get a project finished while half the office is on leave. Okay, so I only worked an extra hour yesterday, but it takes up time I would've gone to gym. Instead I went home to let the boons have some time outside in the sunshine (harder now that it's getting darker earlier everyday!) and download my photos.

Yesterday morning we woke up to no water ... I discovered this only once in the shower with no water pressure :P Varen went downstairs to check if someone had turned the tap off overnight - I seriously think these things should be locked away because I've had that happen before and it is ANNOYING). Tap seemed fine, but we were out of water and I was barely wet - luckily I'd bathed the night before. When I left for work yesterday, I saw streams of water flowing down thru the parking area and assumed it was something similar to what happened last year. I realised as I left our complex that it was not ... just on the other side of the booms, the tar had actually lifted up to let the water out from underneath. Something must've burst. And it's not inside the complex ... so who knows how long it'll take to fix it :(

When I arrived home yesterday afternoon, they said the body corporate would switch the water back on between 17h30 & 20h00 and this morning between 6 & 8am. Needless to say our taps are still dry and Varen & I headed off to use the gym's facilities this morning. I can't help but wonder how many women were wondering what was up when I didn't bother with gym but headed straight for the showers after arriving!

An interesting question Varen asked me was "If you could only have either Electricity or Water, which would you choose?". Mine is water, definitely water ... you can use candles and gas for light and cooking. Let's not forget that without water, little things you take for granted like flushing the loo, brushing your teeth and giving your animals a drink become impossible ... we've bought a 5litre of water to hopefully get us thru for now. Which would you choose?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One More Year

... till I'm 30 :P But for now we will ignore that niggling fact and focus on what a fabulous weekend it was :) It really was, I think, the best birthday weekend in quite some time.

Friday started especially well as I arrived home to find that my new bunny-hutch cage had arrived (and I'd only ordered it on Thursday morning - how good is that for service excellence? Thanks must go to Mesh4Birds who I can now highly recommend!). Now aside from the fact that there are already changes I'd make to my design if I were ordering the cage again (and who knows, in the future I may well replace the entire front panel), but that comes from actually seeing it in real life and practical things like it's wa-ay heavier than I expected, it's exactly what I wanted and fits perfectly into the space (like a glove!). I have one picture on my BB that I'll post now (of the newly arrived hutch in the garden) and another later (in it's final spot) when I finally download my weekend photos :)

So that is thrilling. It also means that little Rex spent his first night outside on Friday. We've got the old hutch up against the new hutch in the hopes that close proximity will get the boons used to each other's smells and bond them faster. So far the bonding is going okay, last night we let Rex & Lily spend the night together in the big new hutch which seems to have gone just fine :) We'll be doing more bonding on this long weekend coming up and hopefully by this time next week they'll all be together in the new hutch. I've also designed the wooden levels we need to build, which only Coal & Lily will be able to get up initially ... I figure it'll take Rex about 2 months before he's big enough to jump high enough. We (Varen) will be building those this weekend too hopefully :) And then the new bunny hutch will be perfect! Yay.

On Friday evening BrotherZion came over for a Snoek braai (rather successful taste-wise but damn those bones are irritating!) and to stay for the weekend bunny-sitting for us. I made us all a good breakfast before Varen & I set off on Saturday morning at around 10am. We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us, but it went smoothly and was quite scenic.

We arrived at our destination, Otter's Den, around 15h30. As their website says: "
Where the Blyde River meets the Lowveld, near Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province, you will find a small island paradise." I couldn't have been more thrilled with my chosen birthday weekend venue. It's lovely and I'd highly recommend it :) (photos to come later this evening when I've downloaded them). When you arrive, it's not that far from the R527 to Hoedspruit, you park your car and wander down a path thru lush overgrown jungle. I love that feeling of being encompassed by nature. You then reach their suspension bridge (to get across the Blyde River onto the island). My first attempt at this was not a moment of pride - it wobbles, okay ... and I only had one free hand. (Let's just say I'm not terrified of heights ... as long as there's something waist height between me and the drop!) Anyhoo, by the end of the weekend I was crossing the bridge like a normal person at least :) But what an awesome way to arrive somewhere!

After crossing the bridge you find their main deck area, where we had breakfast & dinner (in the photo above). And then were shown to our room. Which was the very last along the path :) The really nice thing about this place is they only cater for up to 10 people at one time, so it's nice and quiet and private. Our room was on stilts in the forest and we could see a bit of the river a few meters in front of us (where the forest wasn't too thick). We had a lovely 4-poster bed and an outdoor shower - I lovelovelove outdoor showers! Oh, a word to the wise, this spot is not for you if you have *any* aversion to spiders. We didnt' have any problems with spiders in our actual space / room etc. but they are all around you in the forest. And you notice them because they are golden orb-weaver spiders, pretty large colourful creatures (photos to come, you have been wanred) who spin huge webs! After arriving, before dinner we spent some time watching a quite distant hippo in the river (from the suspension bridge) and doing a walking trail.

On Sunday morning, my twenty-ninth birthday, we set out quite early after breakfast and did almost all there was to do in the area by the time we arrived back at 17h30. It was a full day and thanks to everyone for the twitter wishes, the facebook messages and the sms & phonecalls. It was a lovely, lovely day.

We started out learning about how silk is made from a lowly silk-worm cocoon at the Bombyx Mori Silk Farm. I'll tell you, it's not a long tour (and I think we were lucky to even get one cause we didn't pay a cent and there seemed to only be about 4 people plus the tour guide / cashier in the shop working that day), but it is very interesting! I had no idea how they turned a teeny little cocoon into something really. And silk really is quite the most incredible substance! I was amazed at how rough they seem to be with it, pulling tiny squares of it into large duvet-sized sheets, without it breaking. I was also amazed to learn that the web of the spider's around our room are used to make bulelt-proof vests. Varen & I have now been sold on the wonders of silk and have our hearts set on a silk duvet :)

After that we took a drive to the Swadini Dam (which is basically what you're looking down on from the Blyde River view-point). The have a rather hysterical room there with wildlife pictures and whatnot (I assume related to the area), but it hasn't been updated since the 1970's or mid-80's.

After that we headed to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center (previously the Cheetah Breeding Project). The "shows" run hourly and we arrived for the midday one. It starts with a 20-minute video explaining how the Center started and what they do. I was worried it'd be like the video I watched at Elsamere, but it was far more interesting! And then we went on an hour long "game-drive" thru the area. I put game-drive in quotes because their animals are all fenced and you only actually get to drive inside very few of the fences with the animals (the young cheetahs and the wild-dogs). But it was very interesting learning about their breeding project. Sadly you don't get to even spy on the cheetahs in "the maternity ward", which was a little disappointing. All in all an interesting and worthwhile experience.

After that we were quite hungry and tried to find somewhere in the area to have some lunch ... although we only had an hour & half before heading to our next thing. Let me tell you, we should've just stayed and eaten lunch at the HESC. There were 3 restaurant / eating-type places marked on our map and 2 of them were closed :( So we ended up having lunch at a place called the Wildebees Lapa (in Kampersrus). I won't be heading back in a hurry. All I really wanted was a toasted sarmie or something. But they only mentioned that all they offered on a Sunday was a 3-course buffet after we'd ordered our drinks. Now perhaps this would've been fine but we were having 3-course dinners (and delish ones, I might add) at the Otter's Den ... I did not need this for lunch. But we were out of time and options so we had it anyway.

And then it was off to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center. This was a 2 hour show. It started with a talk by one of the conservationists about what they do which was super interesting as well. I am so against poaching, I can NOT tell you.

Is it wrong for me to feel more in favour of animals than people? I dunno, sometimes I feel like it is cause there are so many people trying to help the poor and sick and poverty-stricken people in this world, and really, that does not tug at my heartstrings nearly as much as seeing an animal wounded by man's cruelty. Anyway, this was quite an awesome experience. We got to feed vultures & have them sitting on our arms (they're huge!) and see all sorts of animals, also mostly fenced, except for two baby rhino who were just wandering around who we got to touch. Saw loads of wild rabbits and couldn't believe how like Lily they looked! While there I also had my heart stolen hearing about the antics of a naughty little Honey-Badger called Stoffel.

We came back to a nice surprise at the Otter's Den. For dinner they'd put a little table-for-two in the separate area next to the fire. We were completely alone for a romantic birthday dinner :) Not that they knew it was my bday ... and I asked Varen if he'd organised it ... silly boy was honest and said no, he could've just taken the credit and I'd have been none the wiser and mucho impressed :)

On Monday, after a leisurely morning, another outdoor shower and breakfast, we left Otter's Den and started the journey home. The journey was far longer than it had been on Saturday because we decided to do a little more sight-seeing en route. We took a huge detour via the Blyde River Canyon view-point (and got to see where we'd been the day before) and Bourke's Luck Potholes. Varen had never seen them and I remember them being my favourite sight during a weekend I'd spent in the area with Bean when I'd first moved to Joburg.

(view from the top & bottom of Blyde River Canyon)

We stopped for Harries Pancakes in Dullstroom. I'd heard it was the place to go ... but I won't be recommending it to anyone. I dunno if it's just because I make bad choices when too hungry, but I was not especially impressed with my Thai-Chicken (I had quite different expectations) pancake ... shoulda stuck with the spinach & feta one I had originally chosen!

And then there was still a bit more of a drive till we got home safely at 17h30. Our bunnies were safe & sound and played happily on the grass for a while before we went to bed exhausted after a lovely long weekend :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Like Sand Thru the Hourglass ...

So the long drive we took on Wednesday to bond the bunnies has already been forgotten ... I had a feeling it might since Rex is still living in our bath and therefore they weren't "exposed" to each other for the whole night & day yesterday while we were at work again. Such a pity. But the new hutch-cage should be arriving later today - I can NOT wait! Once it's there Rex will move outside and we'll start swapping their hutches each night, getting them used to each other's smells. And then next Friday (the last public holiday for a while - boo!) we'll do another bonding drive and hopefully move them all into the big hutch. Would be doing it a little sooner if we weren't going to be away this weekend, but anyhoo. On the plus side Rex is such a little sweetie and has become a very, very friendly little dude :) I think it's all the time spent bonding with Varen & I and not with other boons yet.

Last night J9-double0blonde came over and we all went out for dinner at the Throbbing Strawberry in Douglasdale. The restaurant was very cool, and so was their food :) Wish I'd had space for dessert! I started with their Duck Spring Rolls and had their Martini Sole for mains. Yum.

It was the fourth attempt to use my Deals on Meals card. It almost didn't work ... When we tried to pay the manager came out to say that it was only valid for main meals up to R75, our cheapest was R79. I was under the impression that we'd still have the R75 deducted from our meal, and luckily they let us have it ... because after checking this morning, that is what the Deals on Meals website says:
"For example if the discount limit is R60, and the cheaper of your 2 main meals costs less then R60, that main meal will be free. If it costs more then R60, then a maximum of R60 will be deducted from your bill."

Still, we had a lovely evening with a little too much wine :) I got my birthday pressies from J9 & Squeak and I was spoilt :) I think J9 was a little nervous cause she knows I'm terribly fussy ... but she got me the most awesome gift! I got an hourglass. Okay, so I'm sure that just sounds bizarre, but it's lovely. It's about 15cm high and just plain blown-glass. It's got white sand and the closest picture I could find online was this one. But mine is a bit more "bulby" :) I will try to remember to take a photo on the weekend. Here's hoping the maid doesn't break it! (I left it packed away in it's box today, just in case!).

And that's all folks :) Have a fantabulous long weekend ... next time I'll write I'll officially be 29. Sheesh.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Voting Day 2009

On Tuesday evening, despite Wednesday being a public holiday, Varen & I had a very normal evening at home. I made Steamed Spinach-Wrapped Chicken fillets for dinner which were delish :)

On Wednesday I spent the morning with the boons, trying to get them to bond some more. Coal is definitely calmer than Bell was. Varen went climbing. Which was annoying because I would've prefered to get voting out of the way earlier in the morning. But we ended up at our polling station at just before 11am. And the place was crowded. We almost left to come back later but luckily thought better of it ... I doubt there was any let up in the queue the entire day. In the past I've mostly voted at schools and have never ever waited this long before. I put it down to discovering they had a mere 4 (increased to 5 just before I voted) voting booths. Seriously folks. It took us just under 2 hours, probably 2 if we include the drive time from & to home.

The most disappointing thing was the process. First they scanned our ID books with their zip-zip machine. Now this in itself seems smart to me. They've clearly loaded all the registered voters because it spits out a little receipt type thing with a number on it. The stupid and terrifically annoying bit was when I then had to go to the next table and someone looked me up in a pile of paper to find the number on my receipt and crossed my name out with a ruler. Hello? If I just got scanned, surely the little zip-zip machine could electronically cross me off!! To make things more annoying there were only 2 people available to cross out names ... and the other guy was only doing surnames from T - Z. That's not half, people. We had about a 5 person queue at this step :P This was my least impressed moment. C'mon people, get yourselves organised. Varen raised an awesome point, how cool would it be if they could get technologically advanced enough that you could vote at an ATM. How brilliant would that be? Obviously you'd still need polling stations for the people who don't bank or don't know how to use / don't trust ATMs. But I think that's a fabulous idea :) Obviously this would only work if we didn't have ID books, but rather had ID cards ... Since I have no firearms, I'm only actually using 2 pages of my ID book anyhow.

And then we voted. I still have lots to say about politics and how ridiculous I think a lot of it is ... but as I said, I'm still working up to that post, perhaps in time for the next election - haha! Now I just wish they'd take those dreadful party boards down off our light-poles. I'm sick of looking at all these ugly faces already and at an average of 4 posters per pole, it just looks like litter stuck up there.

(I have a thumb photo to post, but I can't seem to get it off my blackberry ... it'll be up as soon as I figure this out! haha) How awesome is that, my first blackberry email delivered the photo to my computer for upload - I'm thrilled!

After that, Varen & I took the boons out for a drive. This is what finally bonded Bell, Henna & Coal so we were hoping it'd work for Coal, Lily & Rex. It seems to have ... although they were pretty exhausted after the drive (we went to Magaliesburg via Harties and then took a wrong turn and ended up coming home via Roodepoort ... definitely a longer drive than we were planning!) Rex is still sleeping in our bath tho ... I'm not that brave yet, but they seem to be interacting fine so far.

And having barely eaten yet, Varen headed off to get us pizza from Lapa Fo - we were so not in the mood to braai a snoek as we'd planned, so we're saving that for Friday evening now :) I will say that Lapa Fo has deteriorated in my opinion. Their pizza's are far from as good as I remember them being the first time we tried them :( Don't get me wrong, they still have fantastic flavour variety (although I tend to order the same thing every time ... they don't have menu print outs for you to take home so it's hard when ordering take-aways), but I think it'll be a long while before we order from them again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Good Monday

So, I skipped gym yesterday afternoon ... wanna spend as much time as possible bonding the boons before they're left with BrotherZion this weekend (while we're away for my birthday - yay!). I also popped into my local Curves and signed up. I don't pay a cent at the moment for Virgin Active (through Discovery ... aside from my monthly Vitality fee ... and the extra each month so that I can go to any of the gyms ... which I must stop now, thanks for the reminder!) but, it's also not doing anything for me and I tend to get bored because I a) don't see results and b) don't have a clue if I'm doing the right thing. I'll still keep my Virgin Active membership (hello, I get Vitality points!) but for the next 12 months I'm seeing what Curves can do for me. The Mom signed up and seems to be getting results, which is promising :) Plus it's closer to me than the local Virgin Active and their routine is 30 mins, 3 times a week. Ideal for moi who hates the thought that I'm wasting precious free time at the gym!!

So anyway, as I said, I spent the afternoon bonding the boons. It went much better yesterday :) I kept Rex in the cage as I'd done when bonding Coal & Bell. Coal seems less antagonistic than Bell and has thankfully also stopped chasing Lily :) I also gave them some basil and a new treat, grapes. Boy do they love it! I even took some pics to try and give you an idea of the size differences. If you compare these photos to the one I posted in December of Bell & Coal you will easily see just how massive Coal is in comparison ... and how teeny Rex is!

I was also back on my new-year-new-recipes challenge yesterday. Mom gave me a new Women's Weekly cook book as an early birthday present while we were at JBay ... she likes me to have something to open :) I tried to make the Chili & Lemon crusted John Dory (we used Kingklip tho) with Coconut rice. I didn't like it ... I messed up the crusting, the flavour wasn't too bad but I'm not a huge fan of fish anyways. Varen loved it, especially the rice :)

Tomorrow is the big Voting Day in South Africa. I hope all of you will be voting! I will :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome Rex, Goodbye Neen

On Friday evening, we headed off to collect little Rex (yes, it's a boy and this time we're sure!). We got to look at the little Siamese dwarf we'd been interested in previously too. Looks like it will turn out to be a dark chocolate Siamese after all. But I had my heart set on a Rex. We could choose between our little guy and his brother, but Varen wanted the little runty one ... who has no tail. So far we're calling him Kanga-Rex. Seriously, he looks like a tiny Kangaroo to me. Varen says he's more like a Dassie with no tail! We took Rex home and after a little bit of a run around on the grass in the dark, settled him in our bath.

I can't believe how similar his colouring is to Lily's, I'm sure she must have Rex in her somewhere! He's got similar grey under coat with the brown on top and the same colouring on his tummy. But his fur is much shorter than hers, as is typical with Rex's.

On Saturday we started the bonding process. It's gonna be slow, like it was when we introduced Coal to Bell & Henna. Coal is super unimpressed with this new interloper. And the real problem is that Coal was a big baby and Bell & Henna were both dwarfs. Whereas Rex is a little runt (he's already 8 weeks and still so small!) and Coal is a standard bunny (and not yet fully grown, I don't think). She's frighteningly bigger than the little guy! And she is also taking it out on Lily (as Bell did on Henna). At least Lily's fur has stopped flying and Coal is now only "zooming" her. Zooming is my word. It's the only way I can explain it. It's like Coal isn't chasing Lily to catch her, she's just trying to show who's boss. But Lily is pretty skittish at the moment. Lily also does not seem as easy-going as Henna was and has done her fair share of chasing Rex too. We have to let them chase each other a little ... although for the most part we've been protesting Rex. The girls need to smell him and put him in his place. Hopefully without hurting or scaring him too much. So far the girls are living outside in their hutch as usual and Rex is staying in our bath ... everyone has been getting some "free time" in the garden while we're there. Will be harder with us at work all day now that the weekend is over tho. At least there are plenty of long weekends coming up :)

Oddly, we got Rex a year to the day after we got Henna. I'm back in supreme worry mode. Could someone please remind me to never get a new baby bunny after mine are older than 3 months. It just doesn't work. I thought this would be easier than it was the last time round cause Bell & Henna were about 10 months when we got Coal ... but really, it doesn't seem to matter than Rex is only 3 months younger than Coal, because Coal is over 3 months old and now a "teenage" bunny with territory and dominance issues :( We'll be taking the 3 of them for a long drive on Wednesday morning in the hopes that it'll finally bond them like it did with Bell, Henna & Coal. Finger's crossed people, it breaks my heart when they're not all getting along happily :(

Otherwise the weekend was quite relaxed, we spent a lot of time outside reading, being on guard while bonding the bunnies. Rex seems to be the first bunny that's a real daddy's boy and Varen is loving it - I have some adorable photos of Rex sitting with Varen while he was reading.

On Saturday morning we tried a new spot for breakfast, Paputzi's in Linden. It's quite a lovely garden setting (although one of the people at the table next to us had a voice that just carries over everything!) and the food was good :) I had a spinach & feta omelette that I couldn't finish that was very yummy! Unfortunately I couldn't use my Deals on Meals card ... even tho it says on the website that the discount is valid for Breakfast or Lunch, we were told at the restaurant that it was only valid for Lunch. I was quite annoyed because after my previous similar mix-up, I'd checked the website to be sure. Still, it was a great breakfast venue so I think we'll be back.

Varen got me my birthday present this weekend too (since we'll be away next weekend). I got a 8900 Blackberry Curve :) Sadly not the red one ... because they don't import it (aargh! anyone know where we can get a red cover for it?). But still, cool! But now I have to sync all my stuff up properly so I'm not yet on the ball ... But, to be honest this is the ideal gift because I'd never buy it for myself but it is really handy and no doubt will be great fun :)

On Saturday evening I went to HarassedMom's birthday celebrations at Cool Runnings in Fourways. Was a fun evening with a good crowd, familiar faces like Angel&Glugs, Exmi, Jackson's Mom & Jenty along with some new ones like @bergenlarsen and Wenchy.

On Sunday I got one of those calls from my Mom. You know, where you can just tell there's bad news. There was. My 2nd cousin had died in childbirth, she was only in her mid-30s. Her new-born son survived. I was horrified, I still am. I didn't know things like that still happened! I still don't know the details, except that she went in for an emergency caeserean on Friday night and died from complications. She was super-fit, a personal trainer last I heard and it was her first child. I feel so dreadful for her family. They're really close and I can't imagine the heartbreak when the joy of expecting your first grandchild / nephew turns out like this :(

Friday, April 17, 2009

On Chinese Restaurants and The Perfect Hutch

Varen & I were supposed to try out another Deals on Meals restaurant last night, but I really wasn't in the mood ... and neither was he. So instead we went to our new favourite sushi spot Yi Ping Ju (or something like that ... it's in the Newscafe Center behind Malibongwe MacDonalds, if you're interested). It's so funny, we were saying last night, I wonder if there's one guy (or little old lady) that does the decor in ALL the Chinese restaurants in South Africa. Seriously ... for the most part they all look identical. Lanterns hanging from the ceiling, fans on the walls, some kind of water feature / fish tank, tiled floors and plastic table clothes ... oh, and don't forget the menu with pictures! Are they doing it for us, to feed into what we think a Chinese restaurant should look like? Is this what restaurants actually look like in China (I haven't been yet, but it's on the list)?

Anyhoo, we started with some very hot Hot & Sour Soup, which did wonders for my blocked nose ;) And then followed up with some 30% off sushi (I think it's some sort of opening special, but I'm loving it!). Again, I don't like ordering 8 pieces of the same thing, but Varen was happy for us to make up a platter and share. Which worked out perfectly :) It was delish and we were home early.

Should be collecting the new baby boon this evening. I'm nervous! Still have not made much progress on the new giant hutch. Finally got a quote for the original design this week. But on Monday night I'd completely re-designed it in my head. And I really feel the new one will be much better, easier to clean and provide them with more space. And I think it'll work out more cost-effective over time. It's basically a stand-alone wire-mesh outer cage (this is the bit I'm struggling with ...), this is the bit that will last and be easy to clean. Inside we'll put wooden boxes and levels for them to climb onto. The wooden boxes can then be chewed to their hearts content and easily replaced when neccessary, or when I feel like re-designing (and can even maybe be made by us ... maybe). See, that is a huge problem with the combo wood-n-wire hutches you get generally. They only last so long before you have to turf the entire structure because they've chewed away at it and it's looking grotty because it's quite hard to clean a porous substance like wood. The wire-mesh cage I've designed caters for up to 3 storeys and will be so much bigger than what they've got now. I can picture it so clearly, I just want it already?!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

All is not well between demon-magnet Bella and Edward Cullen, her vampire Romeo. An innocent papercut at Edward's house puts Bella in grave danger when various members of the Cullen family can barely resist their hunger at the smell of blood. The Cullens promptly leave town, afraid of endangering Edward's beloved, and Bella sinks into an overwhelming depression. Months later, she finally emerges from her funk to rebuild her life, focusing on her friendship with besotted teen Jacob from the reservation. Bella's unhealthy enthrallment to Edward leads her into dangerous and self-destructive behavior despite her new friends, and supernatural complications are bound to reappear. Bella's being hunted by an evil vampire, and Jacob's adolescent male rage turns out to be incipient lycanthropy: It seems many Quileute Indians become werewolves in the presence of vampires, their natural enemies. Psychic miscommunications and angst-ridden dramatic gestures lead to an exciting page-turner of a conclusion drenched in the best of Gothic romantic excess. Despite Bella's flat and obsessive personality, this tale of tortured demon lovers entices.

Okay, so let's be honest ... if this were the first book, there wouldn't even have been a second. Yawn. Look, I like Jacob, and to be fair what was coming was hugely obvious ... since (hello!) the "surprise twist" is written in the back cover write up above. And their relationship that was developing was great ... but, it just really fell short for me (the book in general, not their relationship, that was one of the few good things).
Throwing werewolves into the mix was one step too far for me. I mean Bella can somehow easily accept that the love of her life is a vampire but the fact that she was even remotely surprised by it, just plain annoyed me.

There was one other teeny tiny part of the story I liked ... and I remain hopeful that it becomes a huge giant awesome part of the future story (can't give it away here ... although I think I may actually be the last person *in the world* to be reading these books!). I've heard the first & the third books are the really good ones tho, so I hold out hope and will keep reading ... next month when I get the next installment from book club ;)

> Follow Stephenie Meyer on Twitter

The End of Battlestar

Nothing exciting today. Feeling a little less like I need a bubble than yesterday. I think it's my birthday. April is always a weird month for me. I have very weird moods and am overly sensitive and take offense for me. I've read that it's not uncommon round someone's birthday for that to happen. But knowing that doesn't help stop it tho :P

Anyhoo ....Varen & I finally finished watching Battlestar Galactica last night. It's far far from my favourite series. And to be honest it's kind of a relief that the entire show is now finished. I liked about two characters on the whole thing (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace & The Chief / Galen Tyrol). Far more annoyed the crap out of me - any episode that didn't feature moronic Gaius Baltar (or, as I like to call him, Jordan Collier :P It's not a compliment) or that whiny Felix Gaeter was a winner in my books! So yeah. It's over. I guess they ended it the only way they could. Which was not fantastic or earth shattering (scuse the pun - haha).

I will say it was really lovely to have a nothing evening at home ... has been probably a week & half since we did that :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people's hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, 'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.

I enjoyed this book far more than I expected. It had laugh out loud moments. But I'm not a boy and I didn't grow up in the 50's ... in America or anywhere else. So I'm sure plenty was lost on me. The whole way thru I thought Daddio should read it (being both a boy and born in the 50's) ... so I took it down to JBay for him and he finished it off in 3 days! And he also had some laugh out loud moments. So yeah, I'd recommend it as something light that you probably wouldn't ordinarily read.

Assorted Stuff

So I'm in a weird mood today. Ever wonder why you bother. With life, with relationships, with anything. Sometimes I wish I could just wander off and live in a bubble (with my boons, of course!), away from everything and everyone.

Meh, I'll get over it, I'm sure. So Varen went to the doc yesterday to get the 'English version' of his catscan results. His right kidney is basically dead. It is 100% non-functional. The catscan dye didn't even penetrate it. They've told him he can have it removed if he'd like. He has one kidney. Which apparently is fine. He could still live to 105. As long as the left one stays happy and healthy. The other good news is that it's not genetic.

Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday in my JBay post (It was a pretty rushed first day back post, so forgive me) ... I can say for a fact that there are no architects living in JBay. Here is a career opportunity for someone, seriously. The houses are all hideous and badly designed. Never before have I seen so much facebrick (which I loathe but I get why it makes sense at the coast). Never before have I seen so many badly designed piles of bricks. Driving down the road was like watching a car crash ... it's horrific but you can't look away. Seriously. Maybe it's cause I'm from Cape Town, but I expect coastal towns to be cute and designed around, well, the coast. Any house that has the potential of a sea view should be designed accordingly. Surely?

Last night we had a yummy dinner at Koet & Nambi's house. Was sorta weird. I don't think I've seen them, Vori & Pianogirl or Zej & Hammi this whole year.

Oh, the other thing I wanted to mention was the 2min Party Pitches that 702 is doing. I heard them on the radio the other morning and found the rest on their website. I think it's pretty interesting, if only for the fact that I had NO idea we had so many parties running in the election. I have a politics-type post brewing with more on that, but I'll see if I ever get inspired / the time to actually get it written ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter in JBay

Easter is over :( But I had a lovely time. BrotherSwoop came over on Wednesday evening to house & bunny sit for the weekend and the 3 of us went to try a new sushi spot. Yum. I completely forget the name (something Chinese maybe?) but it's in the Newscafe Center behind the Malibongwe MacDonalds. Try it. Although, I will say that I much much prefer sushi-go-rounds to ordering sushi straight off a menu. I like to see it before I choose. Not only that, I like variety and having a plate of 8 pieces of the same does not spell wonderment for me. But last Wednesday night it worked out perfectly, I choose a selection for the three of us to share and it was perfect :)

Varen & I left at 3am on Thursday morning. I am so lucky the boy just loves to drive. I got to sleep for at least a few more hours :) And we munched on the delish sarmies I made us. We arrived in Jeffrey's Bay shortly after my folks at just after 1pm.

The weekend was a whirlwind. We stayed in Varen's folks house and did a fair amount of relaxing. We read our books, watched DStv (a luxury for Varen who soaks up as much Discovery Channel as he can), took long walks on the beach and ate ... A LOT! The weather on Friday was overcast, but Saturday was perfect. All of us except Varen had a lovely swim in the sea. It was divine ... aside from all the sand in my costume :P Then Sunday was windy as all hell.

We tried two of the local restaurants while there, De Viswijf and Die Walskipper (Jeffrey's Bay was surprisingly Afrikaans!).

De Viswijf comes with quite a cool little story about how it got it's name :) I had their squid heads to start with ... and luckily Daddio warned me that local squid heads are a far sight larger than the teeny little (imported) ones I'm used to from Ocean Basket, cause these were huge in comparison. but yummy :) Then I had 12 prawns. I had to, I was on holiday at the sea. And then somehow we convinced ourselves we still had enough space left for dessert ... we didn't really, but I had a Malva Pudding anyway :) Boy was I stuffed after all that!

Die Walskipper is an interesting little spot, unfortunately we got tucked away right inside so couldn't enjoy the view. But they have great decor for an on-the-beach rustic restaurant. It is, however, insanely overpriced (you have to pay extra R8 for tartar sauce with your Calamari or Garlic Butter with your prawns?!?!). Still the food was good. I had a Walskipper Special with Prawns, Calamari, Scallops, Mussels and Crabsticks. To be fair, I didn't eat the Mussels or the Crabsticks (kinda weird to have processed Crab on a plate with fresh seafood, plus it was barely a portion so I didn't feel I was missing out). I also could've done without the 2 Scallops that acoompanied my meal. I will say that as a purely Calamari & Prawn combo, it was delish :) They do another weird thing where you meal "comes with" bread, jam and pate. It was not my idea of fun. Although I did enjoy the bread to finish off Varen's garlic snails sauce :) Somehow we ended up ordering dessert *again* (seriously, I never usually have dessert!), but who can resist koeksisters? :)

So, I had a good weekend. But I will say I'm not in a rush to head back there anytime soon. It may have a better walking beach than Plett (in my opinion), but I will never understand why someone would own a holiday house a more than 10 hour drive away. Especially as I'm not a surfer. If you're a surfer then it sorta makes sense. Was lovely to see the folks again tho ... too short as always, but I'll take what I can get :) (photo on the right is the sunset as we drove home)

Yesterday evening we arrived home at around 18h30. We had a bit of a petrol-incident in the morning, running completely dry 5kms outside of Cradock (on the left is the view I had while waiting for Varen to return with petrol!). Varen was very lucky to get a lift to the petrol station and back (although on the way back he did walk quite a way before getting a lift!). Both times with police who were very helpful. It's surprisingly uplifting to have good police-experiences :)

I can't believe how much I missed my girls, Coal & Lily while we were away. I found a photo in my email inbox when we got home of our darling little Rex. Isn't she/he (not sure yet?!) adorable. I think I will *have* to get her. Didn't sleep much last night as my brain came up with new ideas for the larger hutch ... :) Awww.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Off For Easter

Had bookclub last night, was great fun :) Cooked my Apricot Chicken Cutlets ... but there really wasn't time for photos so there's no recipe today. Am excited to get today over with :) Then it'll be off home and practically straight to bed (with some good new books!) to get some sleep before setting off in the very early hours of tomorrow morning for Jeffrey's Bay! Yay. Can't wait to see the Mom and Dad. Just know I'm going to miss my boons tho :( Can you believe I've ent my hutch design off to so many people and I have yet to get even a single quote. Am beginning to become quite disillusioned about this. Come on people, do you not want to make money? It's not a complicated design ... if I had any woodworking skills and could be guaranteed I'd only have to pay for the materials I needed (that's the problem, they only sell wood in giant pieces ... what on earth would I do with the remainders), I'm sure I could build it. Annoying.

See y'all on Tuesday. Have a fabulous (and safe!) Easter long weekend!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another New Restaurant

Okay, so Varen is only actually having his cat scanned today ... do you know how many jokes he's made about this as well as his lab(rador) results. Seriously folks. The silliness continues :) Anyhoo, turns out you have to find a specialist to say you need the scan in order for Discovery to authorise it and you need authorisation before you can book. You also need to stop eating & drinking 6 hours before and instead have a glass of this foul liquorice-smelling liquid every half hour before. It looks so much easier in House :P

Anyhoo, so it's booked for today. Wonder how long the results take ... finger's crossed it doesn't involve any immediate hospitalisation because I have my heart set on us spending Easter long-weekend in Jeffrey's Bay with my folks!

Last night we finally put my Deals on Meals card to good use and ate at hanna b. in Greenside. The food was superb and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. They had a DJ playing some great background music that wasn't at all invasive (which is what I sort of expected on seeing the tiny venue and the table with sound equipment!). The restaurant has a lovely vibe. So back to the food :) I started with the Pecan Coated Chicken while Varen had the Crostini. Mine was definitely too much to start with. And if you like mushrooms, apparently the Crostini is delish (I could smell the mushrooms across the table!). Varen says he'd order it again. My main was my favourite thing. I was trying to decide between one of their specials (Chicken Trinchado, one of my favourites when made properly!) and the Grilled Sole. I went with the Sole cause it sounded so interesting: On a bed of lentils and served with rocket, lemon wedges, avocado and peppers. It was so yummy! I would highly recommend this to everyone. The flavours worked so well together! Varen had the Lamb Chops for mains and it was just exactly what he wanted. A good meal all round :)

Anyhoo, when we paid we used our Deals on Meals card. It saved us about a 7th of the bill, which we ended up turning into the tip, so I'm not entirely sure if it's worth it yet ... but I guess every saving at a different restaurant adds up. Aside from the fact that you're eating out more than usual because you think you're saving. The premise on the Deals on Meals site is this: Deals on Meals is a concept whereby the cardholder gets the cheaper of 2 main meals for free, up to a limit that is set by each participating restaurant. Which is all fine and well, but most restaurants seem to have set the saving limit between R50 and R80. Which really means you pretty much end up with one free starter. I do think it's great for encouraging people to try new restaurants tho. All the restaurants I've picked for April (while my complimentary card is valid) are ones we've never eaten at before ... which is the best part in my opinion :)

Ps. I uploaded some new photos of the boons enjoying their bale and corn with yesterday's post. Check it out :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

How We Survived Last Week

Okay, so before I start on my usual weekend post, let me get you all up to speed on last week. Varen had a pain in his left side, that for a week he kept thinking would go away on it's own. It didn't and finally on Wednesday morning he went to see the doc. The doctor said it didn't seem to be serious, but with weird internal pains there's a 5% chance it could be cancer or something. So he sent Varen off for an ultrasound. The dude taking the ultrasound did not have good news. Apparently he couldn't see any healthy tissue in Varen's right kidney and struggled to find his spleen - the kidney is covered in cysts (apparently he has Polycycstic Kidney Disease) and was blocking the view of the spleen. And the left kidney is apparently infected. They wanted to do a CT Scan but, because that involves injecting dye that needs to be processed by the kidney's he needed some other tests done first ... otherwise the dye could poison him. That was Wednesday.

First thing Thursday morning, he went for blood and kidney function tests. And then we waited. Apparently the results of the "Urgent" lab work should've been back by lunch and if all was well, he could have the CT Scan that afternoon. We heard nothing. Eventually after he followed up with the Doctor, they discovered the lab "hadn't realised" the results were urgent and they'd only be ready on Friday.

Okay, you can all breathe a sigh of relief now, as you can be sure I did too ... we got the lab results on Friday afternoon and he is fine. In spite of the cysts covering his right kidney, he has 100% kidney function. They said if they did the blood and function tests before the ultrasound, they'd never even bother to check his kidneys because they are in good working order. The cysts are more like a shell surrounding his kidney.

So, besides starting his new job today, he'll also be going for the CT Scan this afternoon. I don't know at this stage what can be done. They still have to sort out the infection in the left kidney. If he sorts out his diet and goes to gym more often he should be fine for now apparently. But he'll have to be careful as he get's older and reaches 60. Am beginning to wonder if I should be looking for a new sperm-donor since it's genetic ;) Kidding! But you can not believe our relief on Friday ... it got a bit rough there last week.

And so, Friday night was quiet, just spent at home together. And then he was off ... from 8:30am on Saturday morning till just after 11am on Sunday morning ... at his friend Koeties' bachelors. Sounds like the boys had a blast, they went go-karting and paintballing before braai-ing and staying over at some place out Lanseria way. The groom was quite lucky, his brother, the surgeon, fixed him up with some kind of banana bag after they carried him to bed round midnight and he was right as rain when he woke up on Sunday morning :) Now that's something I think every bachelor party needs. I will say Varen was the perfect boyfriend and I was lucky to get a few smses during the day. He understands that discovering the morning after a bachelors that my ex-boyf, Bean, was in hospital with stitches in his head leaves me a little paranoid about these things. So I just need to know that they're all alive and safe. Especially after the week we'd had! Poor boy, he could barely drink a thing ... but he still seems to have had a blast.

Me, I had a very relaxing weekend. I bought new books for bookclub, had a drink with J9-double0blonde and Squeak and just generally enjoyed some me-time.

On Sunday afternoon we went to see Varen's mom's new place. His folks are now officially divorced and living separately. Now hopefully you can understand a little of the chaos that's been going on unmentioned in the background. The first I heard mention of a possible divorce was when I landed after my East Africa trip ... in 2007. They've been in various stages of on and off since then. It's been exhausting. But his mom's new place is quite lovely and we had a good afternoon.

AND the bunnies were thrilled because we also got a bale of lucerne and an ear of corn from Varen's dad (I'll post a photo later) who had been at the farm this weekend.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Still Waiting & Celebrating

Yesterday wasn't a great day. It wasn't as surprising a day as Wednesday, but anyone keeping up with my twitter stream knows Varen is waiting on some lab results. Waiting is horrible. And to top off the day, the stupid lab didn't treat them as Urgent, even tho it was written all over the form. So he'll only be getting the results today. Today is his last day at his current job. This was supposed to be a good week for him. Tomorrow is his friend's bachelor's. Finger's crossed things go according to plan. And I promise to explain all this cryptic stuff when we actually know what's going on.

But, before all things involving lab results reared their ugly head (Tuesday seems a lifetime ago!), I'd planned a celebratory dinner out for last night ... since we never really celebrated him getting the new job (he was working too many late nights at the time), I decided we'd celebrate his last day. I thought it'd be the first use I got out of my Deals on Meals card ... sadly I didn't read the small print and when I was picking out new restaurants to try from their listing, I failed to notice that the card was only valid during lunch at the restaurant I chose for last night :P But we still had a great night out, which was a perfect end to a crappy day.

We went to The Attic in Parkhurst. I will say that the service was fantastic. and I really enjoyed my food :) I tried out two starters, instead of a start & main ... so that I'd have space for dessert - I have been craving chocolate this week. I started with their Duck Cappuccino and then had the Ravioli of Lobster. Both were sublime. Varen had their Kleinrivier Gruyere Cheese Soufflé which I managed to sneak a tiny taste of. Also quite yummy! And then he had the Chicken Supreme for mains. I had a taste of that too. He loved it but it would've been way too much and way too rich for me. I then I topped it all off with the perfect Hot Chocolate Pudding. It was exactly what I was craving although I felt quite ill afterwards ;) A truly decadent meal out and a perfect distraction.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hoping For Good News

Don't want to write anything this morning. Am a bit distracted by something bigger going on. Hopefully all will be well but I will say that Varen is having a dreadful week. Luckily Tuesday's mishap has been corrected. But then there was yesterday's unpleasant surprise so, I'm hoping we get some good news later today. Finger's crossed, people.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell

Leaving behind her forensic pathology practice in South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta takes up an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured patient in a psychiatric ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk ? and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard. He says his injuries were sustained in the course of a murder ...that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed and stalked by the actual killer? The only thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered ? and that more violent deaths will follow...

Generally I love Patricia Cornwell and her Kay Scarpetta novels. But the background stories have all gotten a little messed up (you know, the bit about what's going on in the characters lives at the time of the novel). This was pretty good tho, but not my favourite, by far. Meh, I'm indifferent.

Things I'm Looking for in a Podcatcher

And so, it's April Fools Day. I haven't seen anything yet along the lines of square grapes or turning Table Mountain into a parking lot ... so what's happening this year? If you see any great April Fools leave me a link in the comments section, please :)

Public Service Announcement: The following is NOT an April Fools Joke.

Otherwise, what's news? I am struggling to find any Podcatcher software I'm happy with. I started out using Banshee (Linux) which was fine enough ... till the program started to crash on opening. Not ideal. So I switched to RhythmBox (also Linux), which I've never much liked but have tolerated :P I briefly installed iTunes at home (on Windows) which I can not bare to use anymore! Have now got GPodder (on Linux) which seemed ideal, but really is far from it. And Songbird at home ... which I have yet to actually use. So finger's crossed it's the winner!!

Here's the thing, I don't think I have extreme or even unreasonable requirements. All I want from my podcatcher is the ability to a) subscribe to podcast feeds b) choose which of these to download c) to be able to choose which of the downloaded podcasts to copy to my iPod d) to erase what is currently on my iPod and e) be able to play my podcasts one after the other automatically.

Sounds easy? As I said, Banshee worked fine ... when the app was still actually working. Perhaps I should try uninstallign and re-installing it? Then I started using RhythmBox because of lack of alternative. RhythmBox isn't too bad, but there's just something about it I don't like. I can't quite pin point it ... but right now I might end up going back to it :P iTunes sucks for *so* many reasons. I can't choose what to transfer to my iPod ... it has to do it's ridiculous "sync" thing. What if I just wanna delete the podcasts I've listened to, before putting on some new ones ... but leave the ones that are currently on there that I haven't listened to yet alone. No can do with iTunes, folks. Unfriendly. When I first installed GPodder I thought it was the answer. It's got a great looking interface for downloading current and historical episodes. Unfortunately it doesn't display your iPod ... so everytime I wanna clear my iPod before transfering new podcasts, I still have to open up RhythymBox to delete podcast-by-podcast. The other *annoying* thing I've discovered with GPodder is that it puts all my podcasts into a podcast genre. Which means they come up in a completely different section of my iPod and I can't just click "play" and it goes thru them all. Which is what I want when listening in my car ... now every time one ends I have to start clicking around trying to start the next one :P I can see how maybe this might be handy for people who keep songs & podcasts on the same iPod. I am not one of those people I have a music iPod, which I mostly use at work when trying to create a bubble, and a podcast iPod (it came with my car, okay ... I didn't buy it especially), which I use purely in my car, purely for podcasts ... it sure beats the radio ;) So that for me is the GIANT downside of GPodder ... which is hugely disappointing. Because as an interface, I love it :( And then there is Songbird ... which I have yet to try.

Any other suggestions on what to use? Naturally a free download is required.

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