Friday, July 31, 2009

The Previous Evening

Last night, after deciding that investigation was the way to go ... Okay, so I got bored capturing data for people who aren't going to fill up my circular chart, there'll be plenty of time for that in the future. Anyway, so investigation. Right. The hopes I built up yesterday that somehow magically the South African archives would be accessible online (wishful thinking, I know!) were dashed and shattered. I'm still sifting thru piles of sites I found about researching your genealogy in south Africa, but short of heading to whatever province my ancestors died in (and who knows where that might be?!) and sifting thru their archive data, I don't know that it's a surmountable task :( Quite devastating. On the up side I did manage to find one teeny tiny piece of information ... a wedding date I didn't have. So I guess it wasn't a total loss :P

And then Varen & I headed off to meet @JarredCinman and YogaCherryl for dinner at the new Indian place in Greenside, Spiceburg. It's hard to find places to eat out with Vegans and Indian restaurants are about your only option (although they tell me a new vegan restaurant has opened up in Greenside too). We ordered Thali's, which I was under the impression J&C had tried there before, since they suggested it. Turns out they'd had amazing Thali's (supposedly a selection of dishes) at some other Indian place and wanted to try the Thali's here. Apparently they were not up to scratch. Our Thali's were particularly confusing due to the use of a forward slash - We thought you could choose either a starter or a main ... which completely confused our waiter, I think you can order one of each a bit like an odd set-menu where you can choose anything off the menu :P And the only extra was that your main comes with some weird extra stuff in a little bowl that I didn't even bother to taste. I wouldn't recommend ordering the Thali's, but the food in general was good (not Ghazal's good, but good none the less). I had what appeared to be Tempura Veg to start and then Chicken Mahkni for mains.

Unfortunately (and I don't know if it was due to the food or a combination of rich food, wine and sitting under a gas heater all night) I ended up feeling quite ill by the time we got home and spent half the night curled up next to the toilet under a blanket because I was so nauseus. I eventually managed to throw-up at half past midnight and feel decent enough to go back to bed and try and get some real sleep. I wouldn't be at work today, I'm still not feeling 100% and I'm exhausted, but two of the project's I'm working on have the clients coming in today ...

> Follow @JarredCinman on Twitter:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

This is the story of Dr Alfred Jones, a fisheries scientist - for whom diary -notable events include the acquisition of a new electric toothbrush and getting his article on caddis fly larvae published in 'Trout and Salmon' - who finds himself reluctantly involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the Highlands of the Yemen - a project that will change his life, and the course of British political history forever. With a wickedly wonderful cast of characters - including a visionary Sheikh, a weasely spin doctor, Fred's devilish wife and a few thousand transplanted salmon - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a novel about hypocrisy and bureaucracy, dreams and deniability, and the transforming power of faith and love.

Now I dunno what it is about Paul Torday's writing, but so far (this is the 2nd book of his I've read) I'm loving it! And this book is so in no way at all like Wilberforce. This was just a beautiful story of passion for an impossible idea. And had an ending I certainly didn't see coming. I highly recommend this writer :)

And now for the official debut of my new book review feature (all historical book reviews have been updated where a twitter account could be located):

> Follow Paul Torday on Twitter:

More Obsession

Not much to report again today. I was supposed to go to my monthly ladies poker evening last night but it ended up being canceled cause only 3 of us could make it :( But to be honest I wasn't too upset about this ... because instead I went home and got stuck into capturing data into Gramps. Last night I finished capturing the data I'd put into the spreadsheet ... which is really just my direct line of ancestors ... and when I did a sample circular graph I realised just how little information I have in so many segments (although one quarter is packed solid so it looks quite unbalanced - haha!). And then I started the mammoth task of adding in extra dates I hadn't used in the spreadsheet (like marriage and baptism dates) and all the extra people (brothers & sisters off my direct ancestry line).

I'm trying to decide if I should capture all the data I have before starting to investigate the giant gaping holes in my circle. Unfortunately I know that the investigative part, as fun and detective-y as it sounds ... can be pretty soul-destroying because it is so hard to track down the neccessary stuff. I'm really hoping the internet has advanced, that the archives have been furiously uploading useful stuff in the last 10 years and I can find reams of new stuff online. Note: This is a lesson in how to spot wishful thinking in advance ;)

> Follow @Ancestry24 on Twitter:

You know what the best part was? Varen was home late last night (after 8pm), and I didn't even notice, I was so absorbed. And I made time to go to gym and make myself some brinner :)

Oh, and in other *very* exciting news, my Canada trip finally got paid yesterday (only almost a week late!). What a giant relief :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Hobby

Yesterday evening was a bit of a on-event ... I've decided to really try house-training the bunnies (on the nights before the maid comes, until they get the hang of it obviously!). It actually went pretty well. The real problem we have is that because they have a multi-storey hutch, they think jumping up on everything in the house is completely natural ... I think I have somehow created mountain-rabbits ;) And Lily seems to have a thing for the couch ... which usually we're sitting on so is not much of an issue, but we were both on our computers at the dining room table for most of last night and she wouldn't let Coal or Rex up onto the couch with her and was digging away for dear life - I dunno where she thought it'd get her! Haha. Anyway, so I'm off to acquire a proper litter tray for them on the weekend and will attempt to house-train them so they can spend more time inside with us :) Which will be lovely. I think bunnies could make even better pets than ours do ... from what I've heard when people only have one bunny and they live in the house they get almost like a dog. But we have 3 and ours are definitely more keen on bunny-companionship than human, making them a little more wild, I think. Especially Lily as she spent no time bonding with us without another bunny around. Anyhoo will see how it goes.

As I said I spent most of yesterday evening on the computer ... a weird thing to do for someone who spends all day in front of one already! (Well, I think it's weird and I can assure you it doesn't not happen too often!). I have a new project. I'm making a photo wall. I've already started choosing the photos, and I want to buy one new frame every month (at least!) after the holidays are all paid (so starting next month only then ...) and hang them on the wide open wall in the area between out lounge & dining room (it's really just one big room so not as weird as it sounds). And then, as you may already know, I have a bit of an obsession with genealogy, so I decided I wanted to do one of those circular family tree's to print and get framed and put up on the wall too. Harder than it sounds, let me assure you! All the ones I found online cost money (not *that* much, but I can only expect that shipping to SA will add on about a bajillion percent) and aren't quite what I'm looking for (although the ones I linked are probably the closest to the picture in my mind). So in the mean time while trying to figure out what to do about that, I figured I'd start getting the data together. And that's taken about 2 evenings. Yesterday just before bed, Varen convinced me to try out Gramps (open-source linux-based Genealogy software). So far (a mere 15 - 20 minutes in) I'm loving it. *AND* you can generate circular charts ... I just have to figure out if I can get the styling right tho.

No doubt I'll spend the next few weeks capturing all the family tree data I have - and it is *a lot*, because we have had two avid genealogists on different sides on the family collecting data. On the one line I have from myself, picure me marked in column A on a spreadsheet, to column Z! It's a long way back, we're talking back to people who were born in the 1200's here, people. I love it and find it all so fascinating. Especially how many times the tree joins up with itself (and we, like I imagine most early South African families, have plenty of that, let me tell you!).

I am very excited now that I have a new project for my spare time at home ... although I have been thru genealogical phases before (we're talking days spent at the Archives in Cape Town trying to collect data!) and I expect they'll continue thruout my life :) Part of me wonders if my circular chart will ever actually be finished because on other sides of the family we are missing plenty of data - I'm hoping the internet is more up-to-date these days and can at least help me find the right people to speak to to track down long-ago death certificates! And if it never get's finished, will my photo-wall begin (I had sort of imagine this to be a kind of center point for it) ... but I guess I can always hang it somewhere else in the house :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things To Deal With

Yawn. Not much happening here ... it was a Monday evening, after all. Varen was home at a reasonable hour and we ended up watching The Amityville Horror.

George and Kathy Lutz and her three children from a previous marriage move into what they believe will be their dream home, a Dutch Colonial situated on the waterfront in Amityville, New York. When George questions the asking price, which is well below market value, the realtor confesses the house was the scene of a brutal murder committed by Ronald DeFeo, the son of the former owners, who killed his family in their sleep with a rifle a year earlier. Despite some misgivings, George acquiesces to his wife's wishes and purchases the property.

Sheesh, a little hectic for Monday night viewing ... I'll point out right here that I'm not a horror fan. Give me real-life psychotics over freaky-weird unexplainable terrifying sh1t any day! It is also weird to read up this morning on Wikipedia about the "based on truth" aspects.

Other than that, my Canadian holiday payment was supposed to have gone off last Thursday. I only realised it hadn't on Friday on our drive down to the Drakensburg. Apparently it'd been declined by the credit card company (Discovery). So I spent ages being transfered yesterday till I finally spoke to the right person only to discover they put a limit on international transactions. So I got that sorted and assumed that would be the end of it. No such luck. I got an email last night from The Great Canadian Travel Company saying it had been declined *again*. I am so frustrated. I have the cash. I have moved it into my credit card specifically to pay for this. I so want to go on this holiday, why is it so difficult to actually pay for something?

And then Varen & I discovered my blackberry has not been functioning at top form ... for some reason it's not picking up 3G signal ... and I realised I don't think it ever actually has shown the 3G icon :P Sigh, yet another thing to sort out!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Catch-up

The Reasons Why
Last week I didn't post daily. Even the book review post on Thursday was scheduled ... just so you had something to read :) I actually enjoyed the break. It's not often I take a break from blogging and usually it coincides with a holiday where my diary entries move to paper only to be re-captured on my return.

Last week I didn't write for very different reasons. I was having a bit of an emotional week. They happen. Usually they're happening when my blog-posts are a maximum of 5 lines long. I don't like to write it all here ... although I often think I should, and just not publish it. But then, although I'll have vented and got it out of my system, I'll have something to dwell on and re-read. So I don't.

A lot of it has to do with life. My life particularly. Sometimes I do blog about it, but as I said in my hiatus post, I'm prone to write and talk of the bad more than the good. Because when things are good, most of us are blissed-out and just enjoying them. But when they're bad they infect everything. I was having a week where I was really questioning Varen & I. I have days where I can see our whole future in front of us and want it more than anything. And I have days where I can't believe we stand any sort of long-term chance. It's days like that, where I'm assessing and re-assessing the choices that have brought me here, that leave me wondering if I have the strength to make a dramatic change ... and if that change wouldn't be of the "out of the frying pan into the fire" variety ... and if I could live with that.

I wish I was one of those people who "just knew". I'm not. I've never just known anything in my life. So how do you trust the future then. Sure you can just stick it out and hope for the best ... but will that be the right path. On days like last week, I'm obsessed with taking the "right path" and making the "right choices". On my more normal days, I'm quite happy to let life come along at it's own pace and go with the flow. These conflicts surge within me and make me crazy.
What Actually Happened
Well lots, really. It was a rough week for Varen & I, but we survived it (I think having a weekend away planned at exactly the right time helped a lot!). I re-discovered Luca's divine salad. Varen & I met his dad's new lady and enjoyed another dinner at The Attic (I think it's safe to say it's Varen's favourite restaurant these days). I made a delish meal on Thursday night (I forget the exact recipe name, but it was mexican-styled and I learnt a new trick to make the most delicious accompaniment with tortilla's !). Varen made his first disasterous meal on Tuesday night, we attempted Butternut Gnocchi which was a resounding failure with us only eating after 20h30 and neither of us finishing what we dished up :( Hey, all a good learning experience I say ... when you're trying new recipes each week, there's bound to be some things that don't work out quite right and that you don't enjoy. How else would you appreciate the things that are really yummy in life?
The Weekend Away
Our saving grace this week was that it ended with a weekend away in the Northern Drakensburg at Sungubala Mountain Camp. I got a great deal on 2 nights dinner, bed & breakfast on the St Lukes Auction. We arrived at about 7pm on Friday night, in the dark and proceeded to be ferried by 4x4 up to the camp from Reception. Up and up we went! We arrived just in time for dinner.

Both our nights & days there were beautifully clear and we saw endless stars in the evening and had a truly amazing view across the valley from the camp. Stunning surroundings and a still quietness you forget exists in the city. We stayed in one of their A-Frame huts, which are quite tiny, but we were comfortable and warm at night. The only downside is that there is a separate ablution block with the toilets & showers ... which is a bit of a nightmare when you need the loo in the middle of the freezing night! But on the plus side, the entire camp cleared out on Saturday morning after breakfast and we practically had the whole place to ourselves!

Above is a photo from their website, I stupidly left my camera at home - that's what happens when you pack the night before! I did take a few shots with my Blackberry, but haven't downloaded them yet. On Saturday morning, after breakfast Varen & I did one of the walks (they have loads, so if that's your thing I highly recommend it!), a very short one, just to go and see the Silent Lady (right).

After that we just did some serious relaxing and reading. And later headed off to the Tower of Pizza for lunch (I'd been there years before with Bean and we drove passed it on our way to Sungubala so I was keen to try it again - although we'd taken lunch, which we ended up eating on Sunday instead). Some very yummy pizzas (although my pizza had a little too much chili on it!).

On Sunday we left shortly after breakfast and I wanted to stop at the Vulture Restaurant at the Sterkfontein Dam on the way home (I'd also done this years ago with Bean but wanted Varen to see it). Sadly it doesn't seem to be there anymore :( So we ended up getting home around midday (Sungubala is about 4hrs from Joburg) which was great cause I still got to spend time with the boons this weekend and we finished watching Lost S5.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

This is a spellbinding story of family love, courage and betrayal at the time of the Salem witch trials.Martha Carrier was hanged on August 19th 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, unyielding in her refusal to admit to being a witch, going to her death rather than joining the ranks of men and women who confessed and were thereby spared execution.Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and wilful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. In this startling novel, she narrates the story of her early life in Andover, near Salem. Her father is a farmer, English in origin, quietly stoical but with a secret history. Her mother is a herbalist, tough but loving, and above all a good mother. Often at odds with each other, Sarah and her mother have a close but also cold relationship, yet it is clear that Martha understands her daughter like no other.When Martha is accused of witchcraft, and the whisperings in the community escalate, she makes her daughter promise not to stand up for her if the case is taken to court. As Sarah and her brothers are hauled into the prison themselves, the vicious cruelty of the trials is apparent, as the Carrier family, along with other innocents, are starved and deprived of any decency, battling their way through the hysteria with the sheer willpower their mother has taught them.

So I quite liked this book (and I found it a very easy to read book so it was devoured in mere days!), but it wasn't what I was expecting. It was another of my book club contributions based on another one of BBC 5Live's Book Reviews with Simon Mayo. But I'm pretty sure in their book review they said the book was told from two perspectives, both Martha & Sarah Carrier. My book was all from Sarah Carrier's perspective. Hmph. I think what I like most of all about this book (aside from the fact that the Salem Witch Trials fascinate me), is the fact that it was written by a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier's. Now that is pretty cool. I know an awful lot about my family tree (and I have a dream of retiring and spending days in the public archive researching more of it! Family history fascinates me), but we have nothing like that. Like a family member integrally invovled in a world (in)famous event ... to be fair tho, I'm sure the families of the people driving the witch hunt back then aren't too loud and proud about their descendant status.

Again I've read a book and left wondering how different my life would've been if I were born in a different time. Could I have survived in a world so controlled by religious ferver? Would I have been a non-believer and if I were, would I have the conviction to stand by my (non)beliefs or would I fake it for the sake of survival? I always wonder about these things, and I know I'll never know. But it's kinda freaky to think about ... how much is nature and how much is nuture and the different environments that may have impacted who you've become.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


So I wasn't in the mood for posting yesterday morning. And last night I decided to take a break from blogging this week. We're going away to the Drakensburg this weekend, so I'm pretty sure I'll be blogging again next Monday morning all about it :) I am just not in a very motivated or positive place. And something I know that I struggle with here & in real life is venting the bad times but not saying much (since I don't feel the need) during the good times. So things, I'm sure, come off sounding much worse than they are. It's not the case. But I am having a week of lots of life thoughts (like "is this it?" and "am I happy with the status quo?" and "where to from here?") and with that comes some negativity (I'm a lot better at seeing the bad than the good).

Anyhoo, so that's just a heads up. I'm off to find the positive, how about you?

Ps. My gran fell on Sunday night and broke her hip :( She had hip-replacement surgery yesterday and so far as I've heard it went well. It's times like these that really make me sad that I don't live closer to home in Cape Town. It all adds up to my current mental state this week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Left to my own Devices

Well the weekend certainly had it's ups and downs. I expected Varen to be working late on Friday night be he surprised me by coming home before 6pm :) We went off to CTFM to get some sushi, which was seriously disappointing and vastly expensive, I won't be heading back there anytime soon! Seriously I need to broaden my sushi-supplier horizons. Am now determined to try out Jungle Sushi sometime - it's the place that got recommended to me in the comments a while back but I *still* haven't got round to heading all the way to the east for some sushi. And there's a little spot in Greenside I haven't tried yet. Oh, and a place in Norwood (I think) which also comes recommended. See, why do all these little details fall right out of my head when I'm craving sushi?! Anyhoo, next time I promised myself I'd try somewhere new.

We thought about going to see Transformers ... not because we especially wanted to, but rather because my idea of fun is *NOT* seeing Harry Potter on opening weekend surrounded by chatty teens :P Varen is sorta keen to see "the explosions set to sound" movie tho ... me, I'm pretty indifferent. But we didn't end up going. We finished sushi quite early so went home in-between and I ended up under the covers reading my book. And once you've done that, you just know there's no getting up and going back out into the cold, right? So we stayed home and had an early night. Which was for the best.

Because Varen was up bright & early at 6am to head off to his work conference in Sun City on Saturday morning. If you ask me the whole thing sounds like a completely insane idea. Make your staff drive 2 hours to get to Sun City (apparently quite a fun spot ... I've never been, I'm not against going, but I'll be honest and say it doesn't really appeal all that much and there are so many other destinations that'd come before it if I were choosing!) to sit in a conference hall from 10am to 8pm. Fun, huh? Oh no, that's right ... they get to party and drink and dance all night ... with none of their spouses. And then go back to their individual rooms (well some of them anyways, cough) to sleep it off.

I remember when I worked at a big corporate having the "no partners at work functions" discussions. Hell, even when I wasn't at a big corporate and we wanted to organise an overnight work-function it was frowned upon so as not to upset spouses because of the shenanigan-reputation these things have. Last night even I had my nervous moments. And to hear the stories from Varen about the walks-of-shame he saw the next morning, it's a wonder the corporates still do it. I get that having all the staff together in one place without partners is far better for team bonding and what not and I'm all for them not trying to drive home after so much drinking ... but still. I guess it all comes down to the quality of the individual in the end. Anyhoo, that was his weekend, not mine.

Mine involved sleeping a little later than him and then heading off to gym. Then I got home and lazed around for a while and had some breakfast. And then decided to head of to Rosebank to kill sometime before I went to a braai in the afternoon. Haha. Little did I know it would turn into one of my more serious shopping sprees this year! But it did. The card was swiped and the bags piled up. I truly didn't actualyl buy all that much, I guess ... just a lot for me. Most of it was functional (or so i'm telling myself) because I got a lot of long-sleeved tops, because this season so many winter items seem to be sleeveless - I know, what is that about? But anyhoo, I'm pretty thrilled with my purchases and I don't splurge often on clothes at all (how un-girly of me!).

And then it was off to the braai. Bokkie has moved in with his sister into her new house - it's a complicated family. The sister (need a nick for her!) has a 9yr old daughter from a previous relationship who is now living in Cape Town with her dad ... but was up for school holidays. Then there's the hubby and their 3yr old son ... and I found out another little boy due in Jan! And the hubby also has a daughter living in Cape Town. Sheesh, talk about your extended family ... and she's younger than me! Anyhoo, so I had a great time there till about 8pm. We all had great intentions to go out after but I guess when you've been there since 2pm it's already been a long day! Bokkie did make me have a sip of the most awful concoction he's been brewing. Old Brown Sherry with Habaneros. Ouch! But it was good to see them again :) I'm sure their friends think Varen is a figment of my imagination cause he is always busy when I end up seeing them! Haha.

Had a very weird night, woke up in a panic at around 3am and then had the weirdest horrible dreams when I went back to sleep :( Not ideal, especially when you have no one sleeping nearby to cuddle with and make it all okay.

On Sunday morning I met J9-double0blonde at Moema's for breakfast. It's one of those places I'd seen and thought I'd like to try that but when time comes to pick a spot to eat I never remember it because I never actually knew what it was called! I wasn't completely bowled over tho. It was fab to see J9 and catch up, but the service was average and were only 6 tables inside (all full) - you'd think they'd invest in those awesome standing gas-heaters for outside or something ? Instead they have barely-there heaters high up on the walls creating almost no warmth. The food was quite nice, I had scrambled eggs with salmon & cream cheese. But way too much egg for me. I did get some take-away items for Varen & I tho which were quite delish (I would recommend their little lemon meringue tarts!).

And then I went home and relaxed. I lazed in the gorgeous warmth of the Joburg winter sun in my garden on a blanket, reading my book while the boons played :) Then I just really wasn't in the mood to head back inside so I paged thru my recipe books trying to decide what to eat this week - tricky when you're full from breakfast! And then I finally went thru my mound of unopened post. I'm terrible with post. I hate the damn stuff. Firstly it's a mission just to even remember to collect it from the post box. Then when we actually remember to do that it sits around in piles unopened for months. Literally, I was opening statements from August 2008! And I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it all. I used to horde everything. Then I went thru a giant clean-up where I scanned in a lot of it. Then I decided I didn't even need most of it (Vodacom statements or clothing accounts ... they're all paid before I even see the statement!). I'm determined now to find out how many of these I can rather receive via email!

And then Varen got home :) We went and took a walk round zoo-lake in the afternoon - it was such a beautiful day. And then we grabbed some pizza from Pizza on 4th on the way home (was also on my list of new places to try ... like the sushi places!). The pizza wasn't bad, I had one with Avo, Feta & Bacon. The Feta & Avo were seriously impressive, but their Bacon was not. Not in quantity or quality. I quite liked it when I'd added some garlic & chili-flakes for added flavour :) And settled in to watch Lost S5. Varen hasn't watched any of the previous Lost seasons but he watched the "catch-up" episode and is now completely involved :) A great way to spend a Sunday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

'I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license records my first name simply as Cal.' So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Well this was certainly an interesting read. Deep with real lives and relationships. And actually, the hermaphroditism seemed very cursory to me and merely just another thread of the story being told. The one thing that bothered me the whole way thru is the brother's name. I don't get it: "Chapter Eleven". (I looked it up on Wikipedia and am not impressed with the reasoning, something to do with bankruptcy. Everyone else in the story, except The Obscure Object, have "real" names). The thing that was really disturbing about this book for me was that I couldn't stop myself constantly wondering if it was actually a true story, which I think is a plus for any fictional novel.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Trying All The Time

Not much happened last night. Varen was supposed to be home early to make dinner for us. I guess he was ... but still half an hour later than he was supposed to be. Is it just me? Am I the only one who can disconnect work from real life here? Unless there are supremely extenuating circumstances, whatever doesn't get done today can wait till tomorrow. With Varen it feels like (to me) that nothing work-related can wait till tomorrow, and he is the only person who can do any of it. I can feel he's coming to a break-down ... or we are. He's constantly trying to please. Be that at work while he's there, putting in all these extra hours that he no longer get's paid for (since he's no longer a contractor on an hourly rate), just hoping they'll remember all his effort in a year when bonus time comes round again (he started working there too late to qualify for this year's bonuses). Then he get's home just in time to eat the dinner I make or just in time to make dinner himself. Just trying to keep me happy and trying to get done his half of the house-related stuff.

You may think it's cruel of me to make him cook one night a week and have to worry about washing and house-related things while he's working so hard. But I'm sorry, I work too. Just because I'm content to work a regularly hour-ed day and am not trying to make any sort of name for myself does not delegate all house-realted tasks to me alone. He lives there too, if I didn't live with him he'd have to be doing it himself anyway ... and I really think sometimes he forgets that. Which is why I make a point of not letting him get out of doing his share of all the mundane house stuff. I think eventually you need to realise that there needs to be time in your day for more than just work, which is a lesson I think he's struggling with at the moment and just trying to keep his head above water, trying desperately to get everything done that he feels is expected of him. Sadly I think "expected" is the way he feels about everything lately and I think it's going to start wearing away at our relationship. (I think) He feels like I expect him to be involved in all the house stuff ... instead of him realising it's actually his house and he needs to be involved regardless of my expectations but because it's his life and he should take an interest in what's happening in it outside of work. And then there are the work expectations he feels ... which I'm not sure if they're really there or if he's putting the pressure on himself. Guys are weird like that in my experience.

And that's to say nothing of family expectations. Where he hardly has a free night at home to just relax, he has to also fit in dinners & visits with his family. Which I know he does enjoy, but he's not very good at saying no to someone else's request and postponing a visit to a more convenient time for him and his work schedule.

I feel like I'm just fitting into his life right now. It's kinda sad really. It's like I'm living this completely separate life from him and occasionally get to see him. And when we do see each other (like weekends, although this weekend he's away on a work conference), all he wants to do is nothing and relax after a long week. And then I want to get done all the stuff we can't do during the week (like cleaning the bunny hutch - which requires us both, and grocery shopping etc.). Sadly these chores have become our quality time together. And when we're not doing that we're usually slumped in front of the tv watching something because he has no energy or inclination to do anything else. Life is wearing him out, I can feel it. And I don't know to fix it, but I can feel a burn-out coming. I'm not happy with our relationship and the way it's going at the moment ... because although he makes time for it, I always feel like he's doing it because I want him to or because I've made some demand of him that because he's working so late all the time he has to comply with to keep me happy.

On top of that, he has all these other things he wants to fit in too, like go to gym and study. He's barely managing to have a life outside of work as it is, I don't know how he's going to fit in these extras. He goes thru waves of being positive that he can do it, but just a few days later it's like he's given up on all of it because he hasn't even had a moment to breathe. How do you teach someone that they are the only one in control of their lives and that they only get one so they have to make the decisions necessary to live their life the way they want to. I've managed to learn that already and it's so hard watching him struggle with all this when the solutions seem so obvious to me. (Which cause more arguments ... I'm very much a "well then just do it" kind of person). But I know in the back of my mind that when you feel like you're drowning in responsibility it's very hard to break out of it and make a change and do something positive for yourself. I've tried helping him, making daily schedules so that he can work his 9 hours days and fit in gym and studying, but so far none of it's helped because you really can only lead a horse to water. I can't physically make any of the changes, he has to do that himself. And right now, I think he's just too worn out by life to bother trying. It's a very sad thing to be on the sidelines of.

And I have all my own things going on, wrapped up in all my own issues and frustrated by his inability to control his own. I feel like we've become orbiting planets, no longer really involved in each other's lives but co-existing none the less. His 9-day hike in the Fish River Canyon (in August) can not come soon enough, the boy really needs some space and a break from life & work.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Day Out of the Office

So I wasn't here yesterday. Tuesday evening involved me making a Prawn & Chorizo Jambalya, which turned out to be more successful than I expected while watching it cook. Still, I don't think it'll be repeated. Too much effort for too little reward, really.

And on Wednesday I got to sleep in a little later and then frantically rush off to the Rhino & Lion Park for a company away-day. I'd stupidly figured I'd just look up the directions to the place online before I left home in the morning ... what I didn't count on was their website being completely unavailable (I can only assume it had something to do with a broken cable plaguing South African Internet users for the last few days). Actually, it's still completely unavailable. How annoying. Anyhoo, it meant Varen & I were frantically searching online and in the gps trying to find the route there, which I eventually did ... and it was easy-peasy, but *very* badly sign-posted!! I mean seriously?

Anyhoo, we had a cool game-drive around the Rhino & Lion Park. Although we couldn't find the wild dogs. The lions also weren't very interesting to see, just lying around on burned grass. But the rhino's and buck variety were pretty awesome (so many baby rhinos, including one only 3 weeks old!). And then the more fun part ... getting up close with some of the babies and I got to see white tigers for the first time! Sadly we missed out on a visit to their breeding center which was the bit I really enjoyed the last time I went (absolute years ago with my folks when I was still dating Bean).

After that we all headed to Al Fresco for lunch. I was a little worried cause I'm not likely to usually visit a restaurant with their name painted in giant letters on the wall on the side of the road, if you know what I mean. But the food was good and we had a great afternoon and didn't even end that late (I was home around 5pm).

I did end up skipping dinner with Varen and his mom tho. Originally when we'd organised it, we chose a restaurant in Sandton. But then, during the day, Varen's mom phoned in a panic because although he'd choosen the restaurant and told me ... he'd neglected to actually tell his mother. So he ended up changing our plans and picking a new restaurant closer to her. Which meant that he'd have to come home after work (probably a 20 minute drive in no traffic) to fetch me and then we'd have to drive for half an hour to get all the way to Bedfordview. A complete mission on a week night, if you ask me. Especially when I was so full from lunch and quite exhausted. So, instead I canceled so that he could go straight from work (seeing as he only left there at about 7pm!) and spend some quality time alone with his mother ... and I could spend the evening reading in bed. Bliss :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Nothing too exciting to report. I went and had my stitches out ... and as much as I like my new dermatologist, I don't think it was handled very well. I got taken to a different room and some nurse (I presume?) took my stitches out. Then I sat waiting and waiting in the room for the doc to come and give me my results (I hadn't bothered phoning since I knew, or thought, I'd be seeing her 10 days later). So she rattles off the form she received using all their long words and I have no idea what I'm hearing ... good or bad? But it ends by basically saying that t hey couldn't figure out if there was anything wrong (too much pigment or something) so have sent it off for an additional test, please await their addendum. Then while off hunting for my blood test results (that I struggled so hard to find a damn Lancet Lab for), they found the addendum. More long words that meant nothing, and it turns out the mole was fine. Good that it was removed, but not cancerous. Yay.

And then everyone left me waiting while they tried to get the blood test results. I had my thyroid checked, apparently it's thick. At this point I don't really know what a thyroid even does. But apparently I'm gonna have to keep getting it checked because although it's functioning fine right now, there are anti-bodies in my blood trying to attack it. Delightful.

Had a minor panic attack last night. I've never been a sick person, never. But suddenly this year, I've been diagnosed with low-grade asthma and low-grade eczema (both of which she said she wasn't surprised at because of my blood test show that I'm basically having a permanent allergic reaction and those are 2 of the 3 likely causes, I forget the third) and now this thyroid thing, which doesn't sound like a problem now, but one day could be. Don't you just love things where they tell you they can't do anything to stop it happening (ie. to get rid of the anti-bodies in my blood) but if it does attack my thyroid and it stops function, then they can. A bit like closing the gate after the horse has bolted if you ask me. But what do I know? Not much right now, I'll tell you. I do know it's genetic tho and have told Mom and The Peeb to get their's done sometime too.

Mom was asking if this was an auto-immune disease (which it is if @SimoneBiz is right and it is Hashimoto's), because The Peeb's Psoriatic Arthritis is auto-immune as well. These are bits of a puzzle I'd rather weren't coming together at all :P

It's all rather weighing on my mind. Especially not really understanding the implications (if any at this point) of this thyroid thing. Sigh.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

On Three Dimensions and Vegetarianism

Well we had a pretty quiet weekend. Took Rex to have his stitches out on Friday afternoon. Myself and the vet could both NOT believe he hadn't chewed them all out and actually needed them removed - such a good boy :) And on Saturday we moved him back into the big hutch with the girls. The Bunny farmer's vet had told her to keep her male separated for a month to ensure no further litters but when I asked our vet about it, he said he honestly didn't know for sure but since it usually takes dogs 5-6 days (although vets will probably recommend you keep them separate for up to 2 weeks just to be 100% sure) he couldn't believe it would take so long for a tiny bunny boy. So, since the poor dude was pretty miserable on his own and tried every night to "sneak" into the big hutch and hide ... I figured enough was enough.

In other news my awesomest hutch has had an upgrade this weekend. (I love the fact that it is constantly improving!). For a while now we've been trying to find some tarp or canvas or something we could put at the base of the hutch: a) to make it easier to clean and b) to protect the tiles underneath. And on Saturday we found ready-to-use poly-tarp in an assortment of sizes (we'd been looking online till now and had no luck finding anything remotely resembling our needs - literally like a waterproof tent ground sheet) and it was a mere R89 (at *the best* Outdoor Warehouse in Woodmead). When we cleaned out the hutch we put in the tarp at the base (it's folded up around all the sides too) and I am thrilled with the solution!

On Saturday Varen & I went to watch our first 3D movie. Now all the 3D movies I've seen advertised so far have been animations. Which are really not my thing. I'll watch the ones you've gotta watch but really would rather skip the most of them. I am sorry not to have seen Coraline in 3D but anyhoo. So we saw Ice Age 3 in 3D.

Scrat is still trying to nab the ever-elusive acorn (while, maybe, finding true love); Manny and Ellie await the birth of their mini-mammoth; Diego, the saber-toothed tiger, wonders if he's growing too "soft" hanging with his pals and Sid the Sloth gets into trouble when he creates his own makeshift family by hijacking some dinosaur eggs. On a mission to rescue the hapless Sid, the gang ventures into a mysterious underground world, where they have some close encounters with dinosaurs, battle fauna and flora, run amuck, and meet a relentless, one-eyed, dino-hunting weasel named Buck.

Okay, let me first point out here that a lot of people might find my movie-going opinions quite contrary and wonder why in fact I continue to do it. Inevitably a movie-going experience is ruined by some loud obnoxious people (never just one, is there?) talking thruout. Followed by the handful of parents who think their 10month old can appreciate the impressive editing and well-written story-line :P And then there's the price. I can't for the life of me justify more than R25 for a movie. And I get round the exorbitant R45 currently being charged by having an Edgars card (or a Discovery card would be just as helpful except that you only get one discount with it). So to discover that at Nu Metro (where we usually go because it's quieter and we can mostly avoid the annoying people for a slightly higher price), it was going to cost R120 for 2 tickets to a 3D movie, well I was not impressed. So we ended up at Ster Kinekor. Who when we booked our tickets online kindly told us that "included in the price was R8.28 for one-use only 3D glasses". Erm, then why are you charging me R20 more?

Not only that, why on earth are the glasses included in the price? How on earth can they be one-use only? Seriously folks? You are create a vast amount of plastic waste with these glasses *and* charging me repeatedly for something I now already own. How has no one complained bitterly about this??

Another thing that threatened to ruin our movie-going experience was the actual cinema. Hello, I booked online. You'd think I might have done that to avoid queues or something (another bane of my existance ... that and along with dealing with a teller at the movies ... why aren't their 15 self-service stations?!). But instead we had to queue to merely collect our ticket ... why? Because they only have 4 self-service stations. At least they ensure 2 of these were dedicated to those of us merely collecting tickets. Still. I am super-mondo not impressed with Ster Kinekor Rosebank after this experience. I can only recommend that if you insist on seeing movies there you arrive just as the show before yours is starting. That's probably the only time there'll be a gap in any of their queues on a Saturday night. Instead of doing that, we were munching on Cranks for dinner :) Haven't been there in ages!

So, onto Ice Age 3 in 3D. Seriously. After all that fuss and extra cost, the most exciting use of 3D I saw all night was in the promotional clip before the movie started :P Yes so they have some depth ... but my brain is not so disfunctional as to not be able to figure out what's in the foreground or the background without the aid of ill-fitting glasses. They didn't make anything come out of the screen more than once or twice the entire movie. Seriously. I can't fathom why I'd bother with a 3D movie again. Although I see Toy Story will be making it's 3-dimesional debut shortly ... maybe I'll try it again then. But seriously, if you haven't tried the 3D experience yet, my opinion is that you're not missing much!

On Sunday we went to the A-Maize-ing Maze in Honeydew for YogaCherryl's birthday :) It was great fun and I highly recommend it for kids or adults who enjoy unique experiences! The Maize Maze that they're famous for only runs between January and May. The rest of the year you can do their Elemental Maze (which is what we did). We split into teams of 3 and ran round the maze looking for the hidden gardens and quizzes to complete our answer sheet. What fun :)

After that we went for lunch at Angie's, a restaurant I'm not sure how anyone managed to find. I had a delish Duck & Cherry Pie for lunch. Yum yum. The day was lovely :)

The only downside and it's been gnawing at me for a while, but yesterday really came to a head: Vegetarians & Vegans. Now I get it, I can totally understand (mostly) why you're doing what you're doing. And I agree with some of it (not the spiritual reasons, personally, but I can understand them. Mostly I can relate to the being against cruelty to animals aspect) but, I am NOT a vegetarian. I'm not a huge meat eater, but live mostly on chicken. I'm what I guess you might call "a white-meat-etarian" ;) Although I'm not a giant fan of fish either (I'll pretty much only eat salmon or sole). But to be honest, dating Varen, a good Afrikaans boy, has increased my red-meat intake ... but on the flip side it's also decreased his. And I try to be accommodating about people's weird food-requirements (be they vegetarian, vegan, religious or pregnancy), no matter how inconvenient the might be.

That said, my primary gripe (and what almost ruined Sunday's lunch for me) is that I don't want to be converted during every mouthful. On Sunday the vegetarians & vegans close to out-numbered the rest of us. Which meant that for about 60% of the time the conversation was focused around why everyone should become one and how dreadful animal-farming conditions are and all the videos one should watch about abbatoirs. It's like people who've newly found religion and can't understand why everyone around them isn't a believer ... It's freaking exhausting and not a moment of fun. And the similarity to religion, in my opinion, doesn't end there. I don't care if that's what you believe in, I don't so leave me alone. I'm not trying to convert you to atheism or anything similar so kindly do not while away your time attempting to convert me to your religion of choice. I am still a meat-eater and wouldn't dream of telling you that you should be eating it if you've chosen to be a vegetarian. That's your choice and I respect it. Why do they then think that I have somehow not made a choice ... or have just not yet been fed enough information to have made the right choice, their choice? It is *so* the same. At least people with peculiar foodisms due to religion find it a lot easier to understand why no one else is eating *their* way. (Quick aside: I know that not all vegetarians or vegans are like this ... it's just been my experience of late.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Insurance. Who Needs It?

Varen was home latish again last night (after 7pm). He swears it's the last time for a while. I have stopped believing and just find myself hoping one day at a time now. So we went to share a Platter for 2 at Ocean Basket. I was craving it earlier in the week. But we tried a different Ocean Basket and it wasn't quite as delish as our usual one (which is in a mall, which I *hate* ... restaurants in a mall are on my list of places to avoid. Fast food in a mall is one thing, when you have to eat on the run or whatever. But an actual restaurant. Nope, not my style.).

Other than that not much was going on yesterday or if there was I've forgotten already. Oh yes, and for *the first time in my life* I have used up my entire MSA. And by mid-year. Seriously, that never happens to me. But I guess as you get older you get specialists for a lot more things. I have a Dermatologist now, gotta see the Dentist and Gynae once a year. Add to that an Ultrsound guy (and a visit to any of the above all *start* between R400 & R600!). Throw in a few visits to the regular doctor (or in my case Homeopath) and poof, it's gone. To be fair tho, I didn't sign up for a particularly large MSA to start with ... thinking I never really go to the doctor. But still. Medical Aid costs me about a brazillion dollars* a month. So that they can "save" a (very small) portion of that money and decide how it's spent (dontcha just love that?!). Which is annoying. Because I have never yet ended up in hospital requiring coverage or claiming back a cent of my investment. I wonder if I calculate how much I could've saved if I'd plowed that monthly expense into a separate bank account since I started paying it I'd depress myself? Probably. Insurance is depressing and a grudge purchase at the best of times ... but I'm too nervous to go without. I just know that if I ever didn't insure something, it'd be the one time I wished I did. No doubt whoever invented insurance was one smart money-making dude, I'm sure. But damn, I hate you to bits.

Oh, and yesterday, I took total advantage of the latest Springleap sale :) They were giving 50% off all Shirts for 24hrs. I gather from twitter that it was a huge success and they were run off their feet with sales yesterday :) The two I chose were Malicious Bear (to celebrate my upcoming October trip to see the Polar Bears!) and e Sempowenis (because I think it is the funniest design ever, although I don't enjoy The Simpsons, I think the SA spin on them is so cool! And I've wanted one since I first saw it ... but it was always sold out before now)

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Spinach & Feta Free-Form Pie

I am so thrilled with this Vegetarian discovery because Varen & I have been trying to do one Vegetarian dinner a week (seems there are a lot of people I know lately who are trying to do things like this or similar). This pie comes out looking impressive and is so so easy to make. And it tastes like a Spanakopita, which is one of my favourite things, ever! (I am so looking forward to the leftovers for lunch a little later!)

So here's the recipe (serves 4):
  • 25g butter, melted (easy peasy to melt in the microwave, a little trick Varen taught me)
  • 10 sheets phyllo pastry (ready made from PnP)
  • 200g feta cheese (I like to use the soft Woolies Danish Feta)
  • 250g baby leaf spinach
  • 1tbsp golden raisins
  • 1tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200g ricotta, drained
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush Spray & Cook a 20cm-round, loose-bottomed tart tin with some of the butter. Lay over a few sheets of phyllo, slightly overlapping and brush the overhanging phyllo with more butter. Basically what I did here was just line my baking tin with the phyllo pastry sheets, in criss-crossing directions since they are rectangular and the tin is round. I didn't use any butter. I also didn't use as many as 10 sheets (maybe about 6 or 7). Repeat to use up all the pastry. Set aside.

Crumble 125g of the feta into a bowl and mix with the rest of the filling ingredients and some seasoning. I advise chopping the spinach to make it easier to combine with the other ingredients. I also recommend being more liberal with the pine nuts and raisins. Now I usually *hate* raisins, but they end up being nice and sweet so get my thumbs up in this dish. Spoon the filling into the phyllo pastry case and crumble over the remaining feta.

Fold the overhanging filo over the filling and scrunch it up roughly to form an edge. At this point I drizzled my melted butter over the top of the folded pastry rim, which seems to work just fine. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until golden and crisp and the filling is piping hot.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Some Thoughts

Last night was nothing special. Varen came home just after 7pm and made us dinner. I mostly just watched Without a Trace. We had no water all evening so no relaxing reading in the bath time for me. Luckily it was back on in time for this morning's shower!!

Other than that I have two things on my mind.

The first is Lancet vs. Ampath. Okay, so awesome, we have more than one laboratory that can do blood work and whatever else it is they do (?). But how annoyed am I that I now have a Lancet form. Because my nearby Medicross only apparently accepts Ampath forms. Seriously folks, how difficult could it be? How different can your forms be? Could the nurses not just have accepted my form and used it to complete the necessary details on the other one? Why would a blood test spot in a Medicross even have a specific affiliation? Surely they just draw the blood, ensure the form of your choice is completed and send it off *to the appropriate laboratory*. Is this rocket science? Am I the only person who thinks this should be obvious? Anyhoo, at lunch today I'm off to find myself a freaking Lancet laboratory. Sigh.

The second is a question for all of you. So inventions, for the most part, are slowing and the focus in our lifetime realyl seems to be making the things we have smaller, better or faster. It's not like someone who was born in 1900 who was around to see brand new things like a car or a telephone etc. Our greatest invention in my lifetime is not exactly tangible, the Internet. Although I'm not sure I can imagine my life without it. What job would I have ended up doing if not working on computers? Not entirely sure, really. So anyhoo, I was thinking. If you could pick one thing to be invented before you die, what would your choice be (and please be more creative than "a cure for Aids")?

Mine? Mine is easy. I wish for teleportation. Seriously. Forget flying cars, teleportation would make everything just so much easier. You know, I don't think I like driving. But that's just because for the most part a) it's stressful (like when those folk in the lane next to you suddenly swerve into your lane at the last minute with no indicator because some moron has decided that stopping and blocking up their lane is the right thing to do) and b) it's tedious. I think I'd like driving just fine if I were the only one on the road. And I think that must be true for just about everybody. So that's reason A for teleportation. Reason B would definitely be travel. How much nicer would it be if I didn't have to waste half an hour in traffic getting to the airport, absolute ages driving around trying to find a parking spot, 90 minutes beforehand to ensure I can check-in before my flight leaves, 2 hours on the plane (waste of time that!) and then more time waiting for luggage and driving home on the other side (and doing that twice in 3 days !) everytime I went to Cape Town for the weekend? (This is especially pertinent since I would love to visit my folks more often than I get to currently!) And then the international options! I'll admit I'm nervous for my trip in October. It must sound almost crazy flying half way around the world for a week. It's going to take me 3 days (date-wise) to get home. This is all because of a) connecting flights and b) time-changes. How devine would it be to no longer have to worry about all that extra wasted time getting to and from some lovely holiday destination. I'd happily put up with the stress of getting a visa everytime if I could teleport almost instantly wherever I wanted to go. Oh, and it goes without saying that in my dream world teleportation would not be of the version where there is one device here and one device there and you have to book a time-slot to use it or something (although I'm sure those would exist too, this would no doubt end up defeating my "waste of time" issues with the current situation). Ideally I'd like one at home, so I can go anywhere on a whim. And it'd be so much more awesome if a "there" device wasn't required. You could just look up the co-ordinates of where you wanted to arrive on Google Maps or something, key them in and off you go. If I were a scientist, this is for-sure what I'd be focussing on right now!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Went to book club last night which was really nice. Also had a long phone call with my friend in Cape Town, The Bunny Farmer. It helped because lately I've been feeling quite alone. I still have that lonely feeling ... but the sun is coming out and that, I'm sure, will get rid of it for a while. I'm a little sad right now.

But, the awesome news is that we don't yet have any baby bunnies. You have no idea how much of a relief it is each time I check the nests and find them empty. I thought I would love just having one litter, those cute tiny little things. But I'm so worried about them ... that one of the other bunnies will attack the babies or that because the nests are on the higher levels of the 3-storey hutch they might fall. Or more importantly that we'll be perpetuating Rex's cryptorchidism :( Shame poor boy is most unimpressed at being separated and in a hutch alone. Last night when it was hutch-time for them, he ran into the big hutch instantly (usually it takes a while to round any of them up) and hid away. I eventually got him out, but he doesn't understand :( I hate stuff like that ... although I know it's in all their best interests.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Almost Nothing

Am not yet feeling 100% but am definitely feeling a *lot* better this morning. This weekend was very quiet. Was supposed to enjoy birthday drinks with @RubyLetters, but sadly ended up working till 19h30 and was just too exhausted and by that stage the night had brought my unwellness back on (you know, you feel fine during midday hours, but mornings and evenings are the pits!) so we didn't end up going. Instead Varen (who also worked late) brought take-out to my office and sat and ate with me till I was done and then we both headed home and watched some series.

On Saturday we didn't get out of our PJs till about 3pm. It was fantastic :) We watched series the entire morning and most of the afternoon. We let the bunnies run around and they were crazy buggers all day! Since Lily had not yet had any babies by Saturday we let her out with the other two and decided she & Coal could now occupy the big hutch and Rex, who has clearly figured out his role as a boy now (hopefully too little too late!!!) will be in the small hutch for the next few weeks (it takes a month before we can safely say there's no chance of him making the girls pregnant). Unfortunately on Saturday morning Coal went into nesting mode. She was collecting grass in her mouth from the garden and racing back to one of the nest boxes in the hutch with it. She started pulling fur again yesterday evening but so far we don't seem to have any babies (keeping my finger's crossed that these girls are just trying to show their readiness and are not actually preggers!).

Then Varen & I decided it was high time to get up and do something with our Saturday. And we were hungry and I was craving panzerotti :) So I took him to the original Giovanni's (you know the one, on Rivonia Road just passed Sandton Drive). Unfortunately it doesn't seem like non-mall restaurants are open before 6pm in Joeys. So we went and hung out at Sandton for half an hour or so before heading back for dinner. It was exactly what I wanted :) But I'll have to agree with Varen and say they are exorbitantly expensive. But their portion sizes are huge, I've never finished a pasta there. I dunno, me I prefer a smaller portion with a smaller price ... except when it comes to a pasta, cause it makes for great left overs :) Varen wasn't overly impressed with his meal but absolutely *loved* their tiramisu. Me, I don't understand tiramisu.

After that we decided to watch a movie (there's only so much series a person can watch in one day!). Ideally I want to see Ice Age 3 in 3D, which is showing at Sandton but a) was sold out and b) it's the opening weekend ... can you imagine the kiddy-rush? and I don't like to share my cinema with people at the best of times. So instead we headed to our old faithful, Brightwater, because generally there's no one else there. Sadly that was not the case on Saturday night and although our cinema was far from full, the people who were there were in full chetterbox mode. So so so annoying. Please, I beg you, Ster Kinekor & Nu Metro, could you do me a *huge* favour and install headphone jacks into each seat. That way I could bring my own headphones and enjoy a movie on the big screen without interruption. I really think it's the best way forward, how did they not think of this already?! I'm sure I've mentioned it before. Anyhoo, we watched Knowing.

A gripping action-thriller of global proportions about a professor who stumbles upon terrifying predictions about the future and sets out to prevent them from coming true.

In 1958, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But, one mysterious girl fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead. Fifty years later, a new generation of students examines the capsule's contents and the girl's cryptic message ends up in the hands of young boy. His father, professor John Koestler, makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts - with pinpoint accuracy - the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years.

Okay, I shoulda listened to Mark Kermode. This was utter crap. It started out nicely enough but the ending, whoa, the ending. What a steaming pile. I'm not going to give it away, but really ... okay, I'll give you a giant hint. Remember the way Midnight (cmon folks, his name is M. Night ... what else could it stand for ;) ) messed up Signs? It's *exactly* like that.

On Sunday we went and got our week's grocery shopping out of the way and then BrotherZion came over and we went for lunch at Cappello's in Greenside. The food was nice, Varen ordered particularly well. I had my "ye olde favourite", Chicken Trinchado. Which was average. It was more the way I like it than some of the Cappello's I've been to, but not off-the-wall the best. Cappello's is one "chain" restaurant that I've found to be pretty damn inconsistent meal-wise across their branches. Perhaps it's just the Trinchado?

And then we went home and settled in for the afternoon with some movies while the boons enjoyed an afternoon of run-around time :) They were much more back to their normal selves on Sunday. We watched Leatherheads and then The Bucket List.

Clooney plays Jimmy "Dodge" Connelly, captain of a struggling professional American football team in the 1920s (circa 1925), the Duluth Bulldogs. Dodge is determined to save both his team and pro football in general when the players lose their sponsor and the league is on the brink of collapse. He convinces a college football star, Carter "the Bullet" Rutherford, to join the Bulldogs, hoping to capitalize on Carter's fame as a decorated hero of the First World War (like Alvin York, he single-handedly captured a large group of German soldiers).

In addition to his legendary tales of combat heroism, Carter has dashing good looks and unparalleled speed and skill on the field. As a result of his presence, both the Bulldogs and pro football in general begin to prosper.

This was a fun movie. I enjoy George Clooney and will say that he & Brad Pitt excel in those leather-clad bike-riding scenes ;) Renee Zelwegger was looking her usual pinched self and definitely fits right in in the 1920s. I liked it, even tho it was a football movie ... luckily it wasn't too much of a football movie. I'm fascinated tho, how did American Football and Rugby converge or split ... which was around first? It's so weird if you think about it that they have the same goal-poles. I'm guessing they must've started together as one sport and diverge on the rules. I may have to look it up now :)

Blue-collar mechanic Carter Chambers and billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole meet for the first time in the hospital after both have been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. They become friends as they undergo their respective treatments. Carter is a gifted amateur historian and family man who had wanted to become a history professor, but in his youth had been "broke, black, and with a baby on the way", and thus never rose above his job at the McCreath body shop. Edward is a four-time divorced healthcare tycoon and cultured loner who enjoys nothing more than tormenting his personal valet/servant, Matthew, whom he calls Thomas. He makes Matthew serve Carter as well as him and orders his employee and doctor to familiarize himself with Carter's health.

Carter begins writing a "bucket list," or things to do before he "kicks the bucket." After hearing he has less than a year, Carter wads it up and tosses it on the floor. Edward finds it the next morning. He urges Carter to do everything on the list (suggesting he add things like skydiving) and offers to finance the trip.

I've been meaning to watch this since it came out, especially since I like to have my own Life List staring me in the face on my blog, reminding me what I'd like to get done. It was fabulously cast and I enjoyed it :)

Other than that, I made my yummy Ostrich Chili Soup for dinner and that was the weekend.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mr Toppit by Charles Elton

And out of the Darkwood Mr Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us. When The Hayseed Chronicles , an obscure series of children's books, become world-famous, millions of readers debate the significance of that enigmatic last line and the shadowy figure of Mr Toppit who dominates the books. The author, Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter mown down by a concrete truck in Soho, never reaps the benefits of the books' success. The legacy passes to his widow, Martha, and her children - the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalised as Luke Hayseed, the central character of his father's books. But others want their share, particularly Laurie, the overweight stranger from California, who comforts Arthur as he lies dying, and has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all their lives.For buried deep in the books lie secrets which threaten to be revealed as the family begins to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance. Spanning several decades, from the heyday of the British film industry after the war to the cut-throat world of show business in Los Angeles, Mr Toppit is a riveting tale of the unexpected effects of sudden fame and fortune.

I really liked this book. I can't really say why tho. I don't think I completely "got it" either. I just liked the style and the way it was written. There were all these additional layers that I think just passed me by as I was waiting for some big boot to drop at the end or a twist or a something. There isn't one. It's just a story about lives. About bizarre lives, but just about lives, none the less. I liked it :) Ps. It's another book I got for book club based on the BBC 5Live's Book Reviews with Simon Mayo review.

So Many Things

So Wednesday was completely crazy and left me feeling completely run-down and frazzled.

It started with no less than 3 phone discussions with the vet in the morning. The first one telling me that he'd checked Rex (not yet under sedation) to see if he could feel the undescended testicle and unfortunately he couldn't. Because of this he was fairly certain he'd have to be opened up to find it. So he'd made a few calls to no less than 6 other vets (including a specialist surgeon at Fourways and an exotics specialist at Onderstepoort). No one had ever had to open a Rabbit up and go searching for the undescended testicle because they had all managed to massage it out before. Fabulous news :P I was nervous, but he promised to call me after the procedure was done. (The 2nd phone call was me calling him back to say go ahead with the op after chatting to Varen). Just before 10am the vet called me back again. The procedure was done and they'd found and removed both testicles :) What a relief. The dud turned out to be in the inguinal canal just very high up and only a quarter of the size of the other one. Rex was already waking up and by the time I collected him was eating and drinking and back to normal. Including having chewed out 2 of his stitches already! To date he hasn't chewed out any more of them so I'm counting us lucky (when Bell got spayed, she had taken all the stitches out herself in 2 days!). So good news for Rex :)

After work I headed off to a Dermatologist appointment I'd made ages ago (thanks Boldy Benny for the recommendation :) ) spured on by The Blonde Blogshell's recent experience (can't find the link :( ). It was just supposed to be a fairly routine check-up. I have very dry skin and I don't trust the people trying to sell you things at make-up counters so was just hoping for her to recommend the right products for my skin. The entire experience ended up costing me 2 & half grand :( Half of that to the Derm for removing a mole off my back (and I have to go back in 10days for them to remove the stitches ... me & Rex both now!) the other half was spent on weird & wonderful ointments and lotion and whatnot at the pharmacy based on her "Please Turn Over" long prescription! Sigh. Apparently I have eczema around my eyes which I thought was just plain old dryness. Anyhoo, the stuff has really been helping so far so I guess I can't complain. I just hope my Medical Aid comes thru asap!!

So after racing around, from the Derm to the pharmacy (due to the stitches I wasn't waiting to collect the scrip) to the vet, I drove miles and miles. I honestly felt like a single mom, arriving home and still having to make dinner. Being unable to rely on someone else to fill in the gaps. Varen worked late again on Wednesday night. He worked even later on Thursday night too. On Wednesday evening he arrived home just in time for me to have been out the bath and freezing for 10 minutes waiting for him to re-dress my stitches (being on my back makes them awkward like that :( ). I think it's hard enough to have to do this when you really don't have someone to rely on. A part of me thinks it's a little more soul-destroying to think you're supposed to have someone there to help but when it comes down to it you actually don't. It's more of a rude shock that way, I think. I really wasn't in a good place on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday morning I woke up and felt horrible. Run down and coughing with a throat that felt like my last meal might've been made entirely of glass shards. I was in no state to get up. So I took my first sick day in a year. Yes, I probably could've gone in, it's what I've done on the random few days in the last month that I've felt horrible but my conscience has kicked in and told me I'll feel fine later and I can't justify taking a sick day. Today I was feeling low enough to say "Screw it!". I needed the day to keep warm and recharge and come to terms with all the mounting medication I'm suddenly needing: First all the stuff for my sinus / newly diagnosed low-grade asthma which I ran out of last week but finally got a refill at the Pharmacy on Wednesday (my doc's away and they hadn't loaded the repeat and I lost the scrip!). I think that has also contributed to my worsening cough over the last few days. And now all this skin stuff. I have even been prescribed special soap and face wash and have been told to change my toothpaste (who would've thought it causes huge irritation to sensitive lip-skin!!). It all adds up to leave a person feeling low :(

I spent the day at home doing nothing dressed in my pajamas with layers and scarfs and humidifiers and strepsils. Add to that the fact that Lily started pulling her fur out like a crazy person (video to come)! Crap, it's quite likely that we may now be grandparents to a litter of bunnies in 24 - 48 hours. We'll see (luckily no babies had arrived when I checked on her this morning). It seemed like an awful lot of fur for a "phantom pregnancy". I've had to separate her from the others now because Coal went into the box she was making her nest in and dug out all the hay & fur. I would hate for that to happen when (if?) there are little babies in there! Plus apparently you have to separate the mom & babies from the males. So now she's all on her own in the smaller hutch inside the house (in the spare bathroom so she feels more secluded and protected - I'm really just guessing at what's good for her right now!). I am a little worried about her "un-bonding" with Coal & Rex while being separated. There's already something weird going on with Coal & Rex since Rex was away for the night. I think they're fighting over dominance now that Rex is getting older & bigger and he does still have the remains of testosterone coursing thru his body (can take up to a month after the neutering for that to go). It's not a "romantic" thing (like when Rex was circling Lily) at all, it's a lot more angry, like when we first bonded Coal & him. Except now, half the time it's him chasing her back. I don't know who's winning the war on dominance here.

All in all a crazy but restful day spent at home. Luckily even tho Varen was working late he came home for dinner (now I really need him around to re-dress my wound!) and I made Spinach & Feta free-form pie :) The pie was devine ... imagine a giant Spanakopita (one of my favourite things ever!). I also found time to watch Pursuit of Happyness.

In 1981, in San Francisco, the smart salesman and family man Chris Gardner invests the family savings in Osteo National bone-density scanners, an apparatus twice as expensive as an x-ray machine but with a slightly clearer image. This white elephant financially breaks the family, bringing troubles to his relationship with his wife Linda, who leaves him and moves to New York where she has received a job in a pizza parlor. She wishes to take her son, Christopher, with her but Chris tells her no because they both know that Linda will be unable to take care of him. Without money or a wife, but totally committed to his son Christopher, Chris sees the chance to fight for a stockbroker internship position at Dean Witter, offering a more promising career at the end of a six month - no salary - training period. There are nineteen other candidates for the one position. Meanwhile, he encounters many challenges and difficulties, including a period of homelessness and troubles with the IRS.

What a mostly depressing movie. I don't know how I would manage being continuously struck down like that when just trying to get by and do the right thing. How do you keep you motivation? Obviously tho, it went all Hollywood in the end. I like Will Smith as an actor. So I'm not sorry I didn't see it at the big screen, but I'm glad I finally watched it.

Also, a quick aside. Mom reminded me yesterday that it was a year since Gum's death. Where has the time gone? I've been thinking about him a lot lately.

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