Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Review

Well, who can deny that this year has far surpassed any that have come before? Not I. And re-reading this again, in my mood, this morning has immediately cheered me up :) Yip, I'm spoilt. And loved. Must learn to not sweat the small stuff :P Haha.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Became a cat-mommy. I've never owned a cat before and now I can't imagine life with out The Gypsy Cat. Oh, and I had my first General Anaesthetic. And made home-made pasta for the first time. And went to Oppi Koppi. And, of course, revealed photos of myself on my blog.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yeah, my friends: @Arkwife and @nadia_ass. And friends of The Trucker's ... in New Zealand, so we were hoping to get to visit them & their little boy next year, but that won't be happening anymore.

And a few others on the periphery of my life, you know, like at work, facebook friends ... that sort of thing.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
Rexy, my bunny. My great aunt. Madiba. But no one really close.

4. Did anyone close to you get married?
I don't actually think we went to any weddings this year ... but obviously, like a million people in my Facebook timeline o_0

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the whole US of A! Oh, and Bermuda :P Short list this year - haha ;)

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I guess the big "Quest for 2014" has been on the cards for ages ... here's hoping 2014 is The Year of Falling Pregnant!

7. What date, from 2013, will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The 2nd of February. When I had my fairytale moment all thanks to The Trucker who whisked me off my feet with the most amazing romantic gesture. Still get goosebumps!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Um, I dunno.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm gonna guess: moving on? Haha. Although I don't really consider that a failure in the grand scheme of things ;)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope, not really. Unless you count surgery ...? And The Wart That Would Not Die?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well I really like my new car :) I dunno if our house technically counts as "bought" till transfer goes thru?

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Definitely The Trucker ;) He Who Made Fairy Tales Come True. Haha.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Um. depressed, probably also The Trucker, January was a pretty emotionally tumultuous month for me. But, I don't think I've been really depressed since, which is obviously a good sign ;)

What has upset me in the last few months are the break-up stories I've heard from friends and colleagues. Some people really treat each other (the people they were supposed to love) so badly, with no respect. That upsets me, knowing how broken I was after our break-up and how lucky lucky lucky I am now!

14. Where did most of your money go?
Car, house ... USA & Bermuda. Yup.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
This has been a year of many highs: Getting back together with The Trucker, owning a cat together, moving in together, buying a house together.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Couch Potato or Keanu Reeves by Shortstraw

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Much, much happier :D
Thinner or fatter? Sadly, fatter ... America will do that to you :/
Richer or poorer? Probably about the same?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Honestly, this year, I don't think there is anything ...

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Erm, not sure about this one either.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
The Trucker is *finally* joining me for a family Christmas in Cape Town. We're heading down for a whole 2 weeks and I can't wait! So much planned!!

21. How will you be spending New Year?
No idea yet. Neither The Trucker nor I are big into New Years.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Over and over and over again, with my beloved Trucker <3

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favourite TV programme ?
Probably The Killing. I think we watched all 3 seasons this year!

25. What did you want and get?
My life back! Haha. Okay that sounds sorta pathetic, but what I mean is that life that I was dreaming of, the happy ending.

26. What did you want and not get?
Well, the honest answer would have to be that there was absolutely nothing I wanted for this year that I did not get. It was a watershed year for dreams coming true!

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned a whopping Thirty Three this year and spent it being spoilt at work (with a life-size bunny serenade) and driving to the Kruger Park with my boytjie.

28. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Definitely Damon on Vampire Diaries ;) Har har. Quite possibly the hottest man on earth!

29. Who did you miss?
I guess, my family. Mom in particular ...

Last Post for 2013!

Meh, I should be in a spectacular mood today! 4.5 hours and counting till my Xmas holidays officially begin and I can blow this joint till Monday 6th Jan 2014 <--- eep!

But I'm not. I mean I'm sure I'll get there but my mood is strained this morning.

It hasn't been too busy a week. Work started quietening down yesterday, finally. Although there was still some mad scramble and chaos earlier in the week. I spent the whole of Tuesday training clients. Not something I ordinarily do. So it was quite nice, since it was different, but I don't like having to be constantly concentrating. A large part of getting thru a work-day for me is distraction. Having people around constantly, watching what you're doing, does not allow for sufficient distraction. In fact it requires some serious focus. Quite draining. I couldn't do it every day!

Tuesday and Wednesday evening were normal. Aside from another storm on Wednesday night when I noticed that the entire inside of Lily's hutch was drenched. Turns out the tarp which would ordinarily be keeping her dry was leaking terribly ... quite likely to do with The Gypsy Cat climbing all over it and clawing it (she lands on it when she jumps down from the roof). Lily was also drenched.

So I whisked her out of there and into the very old mini-hutch and brought her inside for the night. Gypsy was fascinated. We shut Lily in the spare room. I reckon I'm gonna have to try and buy a new hutch *this* afternoon!! #sigh At least we've been looking at new (much smaller) ones already. So I have an idea of what I want (the exact one in the photo below!!). But what if it's not available today? How will we manage this while we're away. Lily does NOT like the little hutch and it's much harder to give her some space from Gypsy in it. So I spent about half an hour last night trying to get her back into the small one, but eventually gave up and let her go back into the still-drenched big hutch, her home.

And then when the rain started at around midnight, I went and moved her to the little hutch again. The timing of this is ridiculous o_0

Yesterday afternoon, The Trucker and I had both booked massages and I had booked a Deluxe Pedi for myself at the new Siami Spa in Bellairs. R200 for a Deluxe Pedi, yes please!

I quite liked the Pedi, I'll probably go back. The massage wasn't that great for me, it was a bit sore ... it was a sports massage but not like what I was expecting. It seemed to have a lot of pressure-point aspects. Their prices are good so I think I may go back for a Hot Stone or a Back, Neck & Shoulder massage sometime in the future.

Anyway, The Trucker had his massage while I was getting my toes done and then I went for my massage and he went off to "quickly" (his word, not mine) drop off a laptop with some friends and then collect his passport which he'd left in the bakkie he'd taken to Botswana (all within a 10min drive). I was surprised after my 90min massage that he didn't get home before me. Especially since he had said earlier in the afternoon that he had bought something to make for dinner (and based on his messages he was looking forward to whatever it was).

He arrived at 8pm. Dinner was ready by 8:30pm. I didn't eat. That is far too late for me to eat at night and he made pasta. Needless to say I wasn't impressed since I definitely was not expecting him home so late and he never once told me he was going to be late ... Boys. Pfft. His expectations are so different from mine sometimes, it's crazy. And then instead of just apologising, he gets in a huff because I'm annoyed he's home so late and didn't bother to tell me. Based on what he'd told me he was doing while I was having my massage I really didn't expect it to take 2.5hrs o_0 But, you know, apparently plans change ...

Often, I wouldn't really care. I mean if I was expecting him home at 5 and he came home at 6, or even 7, it wouldn't matter (assuming it was just another regular night at home and we didn't have plans). To me, that's still in time for dinner and so "not late". I guess, for me, not keeping me in the loop and coming home late like that leaves me feeling very low on the priority list. You know, everyone else is more important, obviously. Whereas I don't have any problems being all "Oops, sorry, gotta get home and make dinner still, but it's been great catching up".

I know, in the grand scheme of things, he actually does care about me and I'm not really at the bottom of his priority list, but sometimes with a partner / person you live with and see everyday, I think it gets forgotten since you will still see them, and you'll still see them tomorrow again ... so what is an extra hour catching up with someone right now, while you're there. I do actually get the logic of that. But tell a person your plans with them are off and you're staying where you are catching up?

To me, it means that getting home to me and the dinner plans I thought we'd made wasn't important enough to be on time for (although we hadn't set a time, dinner at our house is generally ready to eat between 7 & 7:30pm). And then he sat and worked till midnight. So yeah, stellar evening. Urgh.

So, I don't feel very special or cared for at all today. I know it'll pass, but adding to my disappointment is the timing of things. I wanted to be in an awesome almost-on-holiday mood today! I am going to go and re-read my 2013 Review post now to remind myself how lucky I actually am with this boy.

Oh, and yes, it is quite likely also a Love Languages issue. He still dished dinner for me, although I'd told him I wasn't eating. Offered me a drink and hung the washing (which I was going to do myself but it finished while I was in the bath). Quite likely: Acts of Service. But that means absolutely nothing to me ... It doesn't mean he cares, it means he is going thru the motions, doing what needs to be done. Urgh, some days it is so hard to live with someone else!! Haha, no doubt he feels the same! No, that doesn't make me feel any better right now. Cuddles. I need cuddles.

Anyway, I have a quiet work half-day ahead and then a spectacularly busy afternoon ahead o_0 Collecting the ironing, buying a new hutch (fingers crossed, peeps) and cleaning the house (before CollegeInstructor comes to house sit). Tomorrow, we'll be leaving this overcast rainy city and heading to Cape Town. Which I am really looking forward to :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

King By Gareth Crocker

Elijah Rolene is a lost man. Following the death of his wife, he quits his job as a police pilot and turns to prescription painkillers for comfort. Not content to watch him destroy his life, his veterinarian sister convinces him to help out at her animal shelter.

Soon, they rescue a rare white lion cub from the heart of Detroit's gangland. The lion is brought to live with them and instantly connects with Elijah's autistic niece, Harper. As Harper is brought out of her shell, so Elijah begins to heal as well. But something happens that puts their family at risk and threatens to tear their world apart.

Elijah is faced with a question that will define the rest of his life: How far will you go if you have nothing left to lose?

So, I've been looking forward to this book since I read my first Gareth Crocker novel. Relying on his laugh-out-loud funny blog posts in the meantime.

This book was different, as I was expecting it might be. Although it still has his easy-going storytelling style, this was a sad story to read.

I'll be honest, as I finished the last pages, I had tears in my eyes. And I never cry in movies ... and only very seldom cry when I read books. Animals, they tug at the heart-strings, without question.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a heart-wrenching story, who wants to feel something, who hopes for the better lives of animals everywhere.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like A Lion in the Bedroom by Pat Cavendish O'Neill.

* This is one of my Featured Book Reviews, sponsored by Penguin Books.
Read more here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Girl Who Couldn't Say No by Tracy Engelbrecht

A sharp, occasionally shocking, memoir that will change how you look at teenage mothers, The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No is told with frank South African humour and refreshingly mature insight. Tracy Engelbrecht tells the story of how she came to find herself pregnant at 15, and how she coped with pregnancy, birth and homework.

An eye-opener for teens and their parents alike, as well as a message of hope, empathy and respect for those who have experienced a teenage pregnancy.

No M-TV teen moms, no sugar-coating, no horror stories - just honesty, humility, humour and love. Real life.

I loved this book! It's been on my reading list for a while now ...  and I finally got hold of it and read it.

It is a bit like reading a blog. It's written in a very conversational, colloquial style, which I adore. And being South African is even better :) It was more like reading a blog for me, I guess, because (afaik) she went to our sister-school and was only a few years ahead of me. And although I don't remember hearing about it at the time, the other later link is that I went to primary school with her daughter's daddy. So it feels a bit like the personal connection you feel with someone via their blog, if that makes sense.

Completely enjoyed this and regardless of your age, I think it makes for great reading. Especially if you enjoy reading my kind of blogs.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Long Weekend of Bliss

Ah, there is nothing quite like the morning after a long weekend. If you ask me, every Monday should be a public holiday! Haha.

But this one definitely didn't turn out how I was expecting! After working 3 *three* hours of overtime on Thursday afternoon/evening (2 of them from the comfort of my own home while trying to wolf down dinner), I was in dire need of a restful and relaxing long weekend.

I got home pretty much at regular time and relaxed for a few hours, before The Trucker arrived in a less than stellar mood (and he'd had a pretty similar week to me too). Turns out he'd spent the last 2 hours looking for a truck part and would be spending the better part of the long weekend heading 900km into Botswana to rescue one of his trucks that had broken down.

Because of a few issues, like we don't yet have the papers for our cars yet so he had to borrow one and get the papers, he was only ready to leave by 8pm on Friday night and made the decision to rather leave on Saturday morning.

So we joined some friends of his for dinner at Col'Cacchio. That was fun :)

It may sound like an awesome opportunity, long weekend in Botswana on the spur of the moment. I mean, it's not like we actually had any plans for the weekend yet anyway (shock, horror). And we did weigh up the idea of me tagging along. But the truth is, it was a very long drive and all he'd be doing was driving there, fixing the truck and driving back. And we're off to Cape Town for 2 weeks this weekend ... and Gypsy wasn't exactly thrilled with us when we got back from USA, so I wasn't so sure about leaving her for the long weekend before going away again. And honestly I needed lazy mornings in bed and time to read my book and recharge. None of which were likely on his mission.

In the mad scramble while he was getting hold of a car on Friday evening, I made some calls ... trying to make some plans for my empty, looming long weekend.

Turns out I had an amazing long weekend after all :) Definitely missed the boy, but it was a great opportunity to catch up with some people I haven't seen in a while.

After a very lazy morning at home on Saturday, after he left, eating left over pizza and finishing my book in the morning sunshine (jees, was the weather not spectacular this whole weekend?!), I headed to the shops.

Got some supplies for dinner and some wrapping paper and one of the last gifts I needed (The Trucker's niece). And then I headed to the Foundry Cafe for lunch with @Sascha_with_a_C. Loooong overdue. We drank craft beer and ate pumpkin fritters (which were NOT up to their usual superb standard, I was disappointed after raving about them to her!) and shared a platter of meats and cheeses. Perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon, without question!

I had a lazy afternoon and painted my nails. This was a terrible idea. The left hand (since I am right handed) came out okay, but I had to re-do the right hand 3 *three* times! Not only that, 2.5 of them have already peeled off. My painted nails don't even have a survival rate of 48hrs o_0 Note to future self: Waste. Of. Time.

Later @jarredcinman came over for Vegan Veggie Burgers and wine for dinner. Shew, but what a storm arrived along with him. We had a wonderful evening chatting and catching up.

I got word that The Trucker had arrived at his destination, finally, at 9:30pm that evening. Thank goodness he got himself a Bots sim card as he has no roaming on his phone. Poor boy apparently spent 4hrs at the border o_0 It was too late to find somewhere in Nata to spend the night, by my internet search there are only 4 options and all are fairly expensive lodge type places. So he ended up sleeping in the bakkie on the side of the road next to the truck. Now really glad I didn't tag along. Poor boy!

On Sunday I had another lazy morning at home, although no sleeping late (woke at 7am) and then headed thru to @louisabouwer's folks place for a visit with her and Nicola and a swim! Nicola had had her 4th birthday party on the Saturday so the place was strewn with her loot. We had a blast. We got to colour in and I got to (briefly) hold Princess Aurora. We swam and played with her new water gun and ate all sorts of left over party goodies. We blew bubbles and watched her bounce on her trampoline. It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday, feeling a little like part of the family on a regular lazy Sunday afternoon, not something I get too often up here in Joburg.

I did hear a little of the funeral on the radio on my way there. And I was wondering, does anyone know when else in history you could switch between all the stations and just continue hearing the same thing where you left off? It must be some kind of record?

And then home again for a very lazy Sunday afternoon. But, I did get all my xmas wrapping done :) The Trucker made good time, after finishing the repairs at 10am just outside Nata, he was back home in Joburg by 10pm. I was thrilled. It was very weird, I think Saturday was the first night we haven't slept in the same house since we moved in together in May!

I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild on Saturday night. Meh, I wasn't overly impressed with it, although the young actress was pretty damn impressive!

So on Monday, we did sleep late (he is very good at that!), woke up at 9am! And we grabbed some breakfast at Doppio and then did a little grocery shopping and then headed home for an afternoon nap (him, not me, I just finished my next book! Haha).

And then in the evening, his sister came over for dinner. He made us delish Prego steak rolls and we drank home made beer and champagne. We ended the evening watching Moonrise Kingdom and eating chocolate mousse. A perfect evening.

Can you believe neither of them had seen any of Wes Anderson's movies? But I don't think they were too impressed. Me, I quite like their offbeat nature and this was really no different :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What have we done to each other? What will we do?' Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when his wife Amy suddenly disappears.

The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war... 

I'd heard this book was good, I think I found it via a twitter discussion of recommended reads. Either way, it somehow ended up on my list and then slowly made it's way onto my Kindle.

Shew. I was hooked. The writing style was great and the story wormed it's way into you head. It's diary-entry style and absolutely gives those two sides to the story (mentioned over there on the cover).

I wasn't thrilled with the ending exactly, but I adored the journey and story getting there. I would definitely recommend this one. But probably best not to read it during crazy week - haha.

* Recently I was introduced to Grammarly's proofreading software and I think it is a tool so many people should be using! 

For a laugh, I tried it with some MXit Feedback we've been getting on a project at work (MXit's users, in my experience, have notoriously bad grammer and use incomplete/shortened words). See the results below. 

I was disappointed that I couldn't see the actual fixes / recommendations for my text without signing-up and you can't get the 7-day Free Trial without advance registering for their paid-for service which will kick in when your trial ends.

I guess it makes good business sense for them, but it was hard for me to gauge what actual results on my text I'd be getting and if it'd be worthwhile (although you can cancel you subscription during the 7-day Free Trial this seems like too much effort to me).

But, I think if I had a kid in High School who struggled with these sorts of things, I'd probably sign up for an annual registration (it works out to about R120 per month)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not Fast Enough

Shew, Thursday already? This week feels like it has already been 2 weeks long, without a weekend! And instead of winding down (which looked like it was happening from the start of December), it seems like they are now trying to cram every thing into these last few days. This holiday could not come fast enough.

When you don't want to fall asleep at night because it'll make the morning come quicker and you are dreading work the next day, then folks, I think we have a problem.

On the plus side, the last 2 work days have been pretty awesome. Although long and draining, but still awesome. Our team got 2 days off real-work to work on what we dubbed our Code 4 Purpose projects. Basically we found a non-profit organisation (Love Trust) and did a little of what we do best for them, to help them, for free.

Okay, so for most of the rest of the team, it was about learning and dabbling in some new programming language or tool. For me that didn't feel productive. I set about coming up with a concept I felt passionately about, that I felt would bring about the most benefit and one that I knew I could actually build in our 2 days.

So it's not complete, but I came up with a pretty awesome little concept to Gamify the Donation process for them. I loved building it, I loved watching it work ... I think it might actually be turned into a real project next year.

Unfortunately, these 2 days of hard work and job satisfaction will be fast forgotten in the downward spiral I can see coming before my last day, next Friday. Pfft.

And socially, well I worked later than usual on Tuesday and Wednesday, but still managed to fit in my last day at Boot Camp for 2013 (in the rain!) and an SCM Xmas Dinner.

That was a blast, they always are! Everyone makes such an effort to attend and everyone contributes to the evening with crackers or food or drinks. Warm and fuzzies. I made my (now traditional) Spinach & Feta Pie. Yum yum.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Just What I Needed

Things are better. Thought I'd better get that out the way upfront. We started speaking again slowly during the day on Friday. Sometimes after a fight, Whatsapp and Skype are better ways to communicate because you have to think before you type and have a chance to mull things over before you respond. To say what you mean to say.

The Trucker is actually so much more stable than I am. He sees a fight for what it is, a momentary annoyance where we need some space from each other. Not the end of the world. I go into panic mode and my brain starts calculating what we do with the house we've just bought and who gets the cat.

Anyway, also on Friday it was our office year end function. Vegas themed. We were supposed to dress up, I think most people were a little exhausted as our 3rd dress-up since September! Last Friday a few of us had decided to go as Vegas Brides. Only 2 of us actually did it (from that group, there were a couple of others in the office). I actually wore the dress and the shoes I had taken along to Vegas, just in case ;) I paired these with a little white fascinator, a Bride-to-Be badge, a red lacey garter and a plastic lily (I presume these are for floating in a pool?) I'd Vegased-Up with some playing cards as my bouquet. My trusty red-lace umbrella from my cousin's 21st completed my outfit. My outfit cost R75, mostly from Party Spot and I'd warned The Trucker in advance ;)

I was home by 8pm. I found the party boring, I was yawning my head off and I really just wanted to get home for a much needed hug from The Trucker.

On Saturday we had a lazy morning trying to decide what to do with the day. We didn't come up with anything important, but damn we need to get moving on those last few xmas pressies (his sister & niece and each other)! We went for breakfast at 2B Bakery and then ended up back at home for a relaxing afternoon.

We've started to discuss alternative (read: cheaper) holiday plans for next year. Sound like there's a dive trip to Moz coming up in Feb (hopefully) and then we thought we'd do an SA road-trip with all those Public Holidays in April. And maybe throw in a cheapy package trip to Mauritius, Madagascar or Thailand later in the year ... There is definitely not enough cash for the trip we'd been thinking of for April: Australia & NZ :( Another time, hopefully.

Anyway, so I started doing some research. Looked into Mediterranean Cruises, but they're definitely out of the budget once you add on a European flight and a Schengen Visa o_0

What is your favourite place to stay / town to visit / experience in South Africa that you would recommend I don't miss on our Road Trip? A few things on my list are: the Old Mac Daddy Trailer Park in Elgin and Addo Elephant Park. Was also hoping to finally get to the Owl House, but it doesn't look likely ...

He spent the afternoon working and in the evening we decided we needed to get out. We headed to The Eatery for dinner. Even tho I've only been there once before, it is definitely one of my favourite spots in Jozi.

Luckily this was not my first visit as I had huge order envy with every course :( I just did NOT get it right on Saturday night. I started with a Tomato and vodka consommé with fresh basil - R45. I expected it to be more like soup than basil infused water with some tiny chopped cherry tomatoes, I didn't even finish it. The Trucker's spring rolls (Yakitori chicken spring rolls with ginger & lime dipping sauce - R55) were superb!

For mains, there were only fish, meat or veggie options (their menu changes every 3 months and there are only 5 options for each course). I wasn't really prepared to spend R135 on a main that I "might" like. So I went with the veggie option: Roast brinjal, buttermilk yoghurt and pomegranate, on green couscous - R95. I like aubergine, so this was probably my best choice of the evening. But The Trucker's rump steak (Greenfields grass-fed rump, chimichurri, roast baby potatoes & greens - R135) was very good.

For dessert, I had the Strawberry and pistachio crumble - R45. Which had an overwhelming flavour of basil, which The Trucker didn't like at all. I didn't mind it tho, but all in all, the dessert seemed a little like a yogurt and muesli breakfast honestly, instead of a dessert. Still tasty, if dessert basil is your thing.

The Trucker had the blondie (White chocolate and macadamia blondie with passion fruit custard - R50) which was very nice. Yip, he definitely won this round of ordering - haha. At least he liked the restaurant too, so hopefully we'll go back when their menu changes again :)

On Sunday we had another lazy morning. And after he'd made us some delish Harissa Eggs for breakfast, he headed to cricket and I went to visit @Arkwife and her little baby boy. Wow. I don't know when last I saw a baby who was under a month old. He is a tiny (although long) little thing. Such a skinny little guy too ... is it because it's summer?

But shewee, what a cutey. And such a happy little guy! Yes, it made me broody <3 Awe.

Then I got the shopping done and we relaxed away the rest of the afternoon and watched Elysium in the evening.

Hmm, I think I am jaded by movies these days ... even the ones that are supposed to be brilliant and I'm looking forward to seeing just don't seem all that great. Jodie Foster was annoying in this (what was that accent). Sharlto Copley's South African accent grated me everytime he spoke. Although I thought it was hysterical that Jan Pierewit made it into an international movie o_0 Never mind the words boytjie, poes and howzit. And well, Matt Damon. Meh.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Sad. Sad. Sad.

Last night I had the surreal experience of watching a girl in the group we were out with (at Stanley Beer Yard) trying to be subtle while switching her wedding ring from her left to her right hand. While talking to some lecherous guy and telling him his friend was a 12 out of 10.

Later in the evening she switched it back to it's rightful place. And then again later, before I left, she switched it off again.

Now this was the first time I've met her, I don't presume to know anything about her. I did ask if she was separated, but no one else knew either. But still, it was a very disconcerting thing to see. It has upset me, to see how easily some people can do that. It did nothing for my mental stability or insecurities.

Thrown into the mix was a fight of epic proportions last night between The Trucker and I. I thought things were on the mend, turns out that light at the end of the Crazy Week tunnel was just a passing flicker.

Today I have barely slept. I have that fight-hangover feeling, which makes me even more needy and need reassurance that everything is actually okay and not completely broken. But we are both to stubborn for me to act like that right now, so we are not talking instead. This is his coping mechanism, not mine. I'm a scream and shout till the problem is resolved or we have no fight left so we make up kinda girl. I find that his method leaves things hanging in the air for days ... I struggle so with it, but he just shuts down completely when he gets properly angry and that leaves no alternative for me. Right now it feels pretty broken and I am sad and my head and heart are both sore. How do we swing to such extremes? When things are good they are *so* good, but when they are bad, yoh!

It's hard at this time of year for me this year, with him. Today is our office xmas party ... last year the xmas party marked 5 days of single. I feel almost exactly like that again. Hollow. But I still have hope, I have to. I love that boy <3

And then, this morning when I got in the car on my way to work, I heard the news. More sad, sad news. Mandela passed away last night. The weather today definitely suits the countries collective mood: sombre and sad.

Today is not a good day. Today sucks. A lot. I think I may go throw up.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Crazy Week

Meh. It has been a very meh week. Not a good one by any stretch. At least it feels like it's finally on the up.

It's crazy week at my house o_0 It hasn't been crazy week for a ages ... but the stars aligned just so and made my brain go all introspective and self-doubty, which leads to all sorts of other nonsense. Basically, during crazy week, my brain hates me and tries all forms of self-sabotage.

So, needless to say, things between The Trucker and I have been strained this week. When I'm filled with self-doubt and loathing, this translates into neediness and, more specifically, needing reassurance from him. And total disbelief of whatever he tells me, because I had to ask to make him say it. I know, it's no fun for him either, but I can't seem to stop myself.

This led to an entire evening of not talking on Tuesday night. I hate those nights. And he came to bed well past bedtime after spending the entire night working on his laptop. I'm talking about nights where you send Whatsapp messages to tell the other person their dinner is ready. Yep, crazy, right?

Coming out from the other side of crazy week, into the light, I can see how crazy it is. But when you're in the midst, you can see nothing but trees!

I can't remember much from Monday evening, so I presume it was a regular boot-camp-and-dinner-at-home one. Tuesday was Boy's Boot Camp which I'd really been looking forward to. Then he was a bit of an idiot in the class, basically (in my mind) highlighting my faults and foibles in the "gym" department, which I already know I completely suck at, there is not a sporty bone in this body ... but I try, you know? And that is what Boot Camp is about. Trying. Doing as much as you can. So I spent the whole class in a huff, him none the wiser. My afternoon ruined because, the way I was already feeling about myself this was kinda the cherry.

I know, now, he really had no idea and didn't mean a thing by it, it was all playful goading ... which probably might've been fine had I been in a better head space. But I wasn't.

Then, quite obviously due to that same head space, I woke up in the middle of a night after a horrid dream. You know the ones that leave you panic-y and your heart still racing after you wake up? That. I dreamed I'd cheated on The Trucker. I didn't dream that part, by the time I was in the dream, it had happened and I was panicking about how on earth I could've ended up in that situation and how badly I didn't want to be there, I just wanted to fix everything! It was awful. Even in our not-speaking state, I made him turn over so I could curl up in his arms, even tho he was still fast asleep and quite unaware of my emotional rollercoaster o_0 Just. Awful.

Last night we had CollegeInstructor over for dinner. At least The Trucker and I were talking again. We made delish Peanut Butter Ostrich Burgers (since our usual catch-up with CollegeInstructor involves a meal at Gourmet Garage). It was actually a very nice evening :)

I was still feeling insecure last night, but I think I'm okay again this morning. The boy thinks I'm crazy. And, I probably am. I know he is not the cheating type. And he never once doubts or questions me or seems to feel insecure about us ... but I've been on the receiving end before and I know how easy it is to be secretive in this day and age where we all have private email addresses, can control our facebook feeds (per person!) and have our own cellphones. I dunno, technology, more days than not, I feel it is both a blessing and a curse.

Anyway, here's to crazy week being over!!

Monday, December 02, 2013

A Happier Year Than I Could've Expected

Well, it was another good weekend of much socialising and much rest. I stayed late at work on Friday (not working, pfft) because I had a dinner with some of the work girls this side and I didn't think braving the traffic for (maybe) an hour at home was worth it.

I'd booked dinner at Gwefey for us. I'd never been before, but had heard it was good. It's in that weird little center where Midori is too. Awkward spot. But wow, I was quite blown away when I arrived at the restaurant. The roof is pretty much entirely glass. It's pretty awesome. It obviously could be a little better because it isn't on the sunset side of the building and, being Sandton, there are many tall buildings blocking out some of the view, but I loved it none the less. Especially all the paper birds they had strung up.

The evening was spectacular. Such great company and conversations, complimented by the superb food. Now, I've been to China. And before that I wasn't a big fan of Chinese food. But our "take-out" Chinese food is not like the food in China, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I've been on the hunt for good dim sum ever since I got back. And this is the place! They have fantastic variety and it is all how I remember. So delish! My 2 favourites were the Deep-Fried Shanghai Buns and the Chinese Barbecue Pancakes.

For mains I had the Kung Po Chicken (small) with noodles (you must order this separately). Yum! And I got to taste the Sichuan Aubergine Hot Pot. Which so reminded me of an aubergine dish I'd had in China. In fact there were so many dishes I'd had there.

I really enjoyed the food. And, unheard of for me, we even had dessert (I never have dessert at Asian or Indian restaurants). Their Green Tea Creme Brulee and Chocolate Spring Rolls hit the spot!

Even more unheard of for me, I ended up taking The Trucker there again on Saturday night! Haha. Yup, I dined at the same place 2 nights in a row. I don't think that's ever happened before.

My only disappointment is that when the food comes you don't get the tiny bowls and ceramic spoons I'd expect with the Chinese traditional sharing meal. But, that is really minor.

If you like Asian food, I would highly recommend you give this place a try!

On Saturday morning, The Trucker was up early as he was replacing a friend in the Warrior Race #8. Damn, I kinda wish I'd got to go watch ... I definitely have no interest in trying it myself! He seems to have enjoyed it. I headed to Papachino's for a Secret Santa Brunch with @louisabouwer, @RubyLetters and @RebeccaHumphry. What a lovely morning!

The afternoon was spent at home. @bronwyngale came to fetch some of our furniture she'd bought for her new place and the National Auto Glass guys (cheaper and quicker than PG Glass) came to fix my windscreen. #sigh so I discovered on Friday afternoon that there are about 5 or 6 hail dents in the roof and bonnet o_0 So we'll have to get that fixed too. Urgh.

And, as I said, on Saturday night, we were both feeling lazy, and couldn't decide on dinner ... and somehow we ended up back at Gwefey. The Trucker enjoyed it, but wasn't completely blown away. For me, it's a bit far to be a regular thing, but it's definitely on the list of places to go back to, eventually.

On Sunday he was up early again, this time off to Cricket. I had a very lazy morning in bed reading with my Gypsy Cat followed by the usual household chores. When he got home we did the grocery shopping and had some lunch. And that was pretty much our entire Sunday. Naps on both afternoons this weekend #winningatlife.

In the background. I've been feeling a bit weird. I shouldn't be, as I reminded myself last week, life is awesome, but I think it's that slippery slide towards the holidays. Work is frustrating, I hate having to scrounge for things to do, ending up doing all the stuff no one else wants to and has been avoiding! It gives me some serious Sunday Blues.

And, of course, today is the anniversary of our break-up. This time last year, my life was very different. And no one could be more amazed or thrilled at how the year has gone since that day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Real Friday Post

Shew. I dunno about you, but that was a big one for me. Luckily I've had 2 weeks to adjust to the idea of "coming out" on my blog ... I mean, it's not like I'm putting phone numbers and addresses (or surnames) here, right? How bad can it be. Probably not too bad at all :)

I guess I've always shied away from it because in the early days of blogging, and now even, when you interview at companies and what not, they google you, they look for your facebook profile, your twitter profile, instagram now maybe? All those things. When I started, I was working at a big corporate and was keenly aware of these things. Now it seems to matter less so, since so many people do it and it actually gives you some Social Media cred.

And, while I'm not quite ready to completely merge the two, there is no mention of my blog on my facebook profile and I have another twitter account under my real name, I think this will help my transition to "real person" from "stranger blogger". I guess we'll see and time will tell?

Anyway, back to the rest of this week *tries to remember*. On Monday and Tuesday I went to Boot Camp, yay me! My Thumb Wart, while not completely disappeared has shriveled and is no longer causing me pain. I suspect, however, I may need another (hopefully final) attempt at burning it off as it is still there (although smaller). #sigh. It was sore, I am dreading a repeat!

On Tuesday evening, instead of #SCMDinner, The Trucker and I went to the Bryanston Organic Market. When I first moved to Joburg, this was like the ONLY market there was and I spent many Saturday mornings there. I took my folks there on their visits to Joburg. Bean and I went to the Christmas Night Markets every year. Until I realised it *never* changed. And once you'd seen everything and bought everything you were ever going to (because really, there is only so much there one person needs), I stopped.

Years later, all the other markets popped up and I've been to most of them so decided that this year, in the quest for an Xmas pressie for Mom, it was time to give it another try. I reckon it's been about 8 years, maybe more ... so I dragged The Trucker along and off we went.

Let me tell you, the place has NOT changed one bit. The same stalls are still there, in the same places. Okay probably a few have changed, but Emma's Wyckedd Food is still right where I left it (probably where I bought the most and this time was no different!), so was the nursery. The guy I bought my currency frame from has moved, but he's still there ... And the place is still packed to the brim!

We took a wander, I found Mom's xmas pressie (score!) and we bought a Pineapple Chili and Basil & Almond Pesto from Emma's mom who has been selling it there since I remember.

We didn't stay long, the rain looked like it had only briefly stopped and was on it's way back and the food stalls were crowded, there was no where to sit and I'm not sure how much they had left anyway. So we headed to Anat, which The Trucker was craving and I haven't had in absolute ages!

Yum. Did you know there is a whole Lego store in Fourways now? They do parties. It is probably a little inappropriate for my 34th next year, tho :) But if I had a kid ... definitely!

Wednesday was a little emotional. The Peeb's op went fine, from what I gather. Chatted to her briefly (of course) yesterday. Poor thing has already used up all her sick leave this year :( But she's at home convalescing, like a good patient.

But Wednesday was also awesome. I recently introduced The Trucker to the Raspberry Pi when we were discussing the sale of his XBox 360 (with full Rockband set, if anyone is interested?) and potentially also the Mede8er and upgrading to a better entertainment system. Well I thought, since he was interested, it'd make a fab xmas pressie. But the boy simply could NOT wait! So he went and bought one for himself today (he did ask first - haha). And then found an amazing deal on a Sound Bar, which was on the list of purchases with the money we've made selling our stuff. He got it for about half price from the Demo Stock store in Strydom park. It's an LG NB4530a (or whatever). It is a lot bigger than I realised from the pictures online ... but it is pretty and sleek and works like a bomb. We love it!

So yeah, Wednesday was like an early, buy-it-yourself xmas in our house! Haha.

Yesterday. Well yesterday was a little crazy. I arrived home just after the hail started ... The Pajero has been sold so in theory there has been a single car-sized space in our double garage for a while now. Neither of us have used it. With no electric doors, garages are just a schlep. But, hail.

So in a mad scramble we got my car into the garage. But what about The Truckers? The hail was getting bigger! So we shoved and pushed the 4 seater couch (hopefully going next week!) and the queen mattress (going on Saturday) and all his bottles of beer around and squeeze the Polo in ... we couldn't close the door, but it was protected.

I was drenched after that. Our house has the dumbest design, the roof juts out a bit over the edge of the house, which is where one has to stand / walk under to open and get thru the front door o_0 It is a terribly impractical design for a Joburg house (thundershowers, hello, they've been happening for hundreds of years ... or more most likely). Not that I expect our new house, with only one undercover garage space, will be any better #sigh

Anyway, so I hopped into a hot bath and The Trucker, kindly, made me some hot choc. An excellent way to spend a hailstorm, if I do say so myself! He went to collect some of the giant hail from the garden (that's his had in the photo above). Sheesh, I haven't seen it this big since just after I moved up  to Jozi!

A little later, the boy headed out to grab some dinner (had such a craving for Pizza Perfect's Pepperoni pizza. About the closest I can get to Famous Famiglia!). He left his car out so we could close the garage. Until about an hour later when the 2nd storm arrived. I'm not kidding, after the first bout, it calmed enough to let Lily Bunny have a nice afternoon run and I even saw the sun shine!

This time we had to make another plan to try get the car in completely. More tetris-like moving of our full garage but we managed! Only to discover my new car was not left unscathed by the storm ... it has a dent or two in the bonnet and a bizarre spherical crack in the windscreen. Urgh. Hopefully windscreens are faster to fix than the panel beating I think most people are going to be needing after last night's storms (another came over in the night cause it woke us and we had to close the bathroom window!).

Seriously, it looks like someone used one of those glass-cutters you see in movies o_0

Hi, My Name is ...

So, it turns out that tomorrow is my Bloggerversary. I have been blogging for 7 years. Shew, where has the time gone?

I've got to know quite a lot of people thru my blogging, more so in the early days when the community was smaller. Bloggers tend to come and go, after 7 years, I imagine, it is quite an achievement to still be here. And to not be scarce on top of it. The longest breaks I tend to have are while I'm away, and I always make up for it when I get back :)

But the internet has changed and grown in that time too. And after 7 years of blogging pretty anonymously, I thought I'd introduce myself to celebrate this anniversary. It seems the way things are going, it's easier to relate to an actual real-life person than a pseudonym and an icon. So here I am.

Hello, my name is Phillipa and this is my blog :)

There is a snippet of my life in pics, the ones you haven't seen, the ones with me in them. (For a change these photos actually link somewhere ... to the relevant posts from when they were taken within the blog)

So, I'm still gonna stick with nicknames for the people I write about, but here I am, this is me. It's nice to finally meet you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For The Peeb ... I'll Try Harder

I seem to be writing quite a few Draft posts lately. Am not yet sure, as I start typing this one, if it'll end up the same. But here goes anyway ...

Life feels weird right now. A bit heavy, if I'm honest. There is a lot going on in my mind, and not about my life really. I guess it's all about perspective. And while I already know my life is pretty good, I still find plenty to gripe about in my day-to-day. Okay, let's be honest, that mostly has to do with relying on other people in the work place ... I don't really often have much to complain about in my life outside of the office. Oh, wait, there are also all those many, many Service Providers that never fail to annoy as well. Okay, but really, the rest of my life is really good :) <3

I know, I know, it's that whole Pyramid of needs thing, at it again. When you have the luxury of nothing else to bring you down, these small and trivial things can feel enormous. But it's good to sometimes get a wake-up call highlighting that they really are small and your life really is quite simple, easy even. Spoilt, perhaps. Spoilt with love (from both my lovely boy and my fabulous family), spoilt with luxury (hello, we just bought new cars and a new house!), spoilt with opportunity (a good job, those fantastic annual holidays), spoilt with activity (my weeks tend to be full and my weekends even more so, as no doubt you've read about here, packed to the brim with every interest or experience I can fit in).

Anyway, I digress, this wasn't really supposed to be about me, it was about the chasm between here and there.

I had a long conversation with my sister, The Peeb, yesterday. And, while that in itself is a pretty momentous occasion, that's not the point of this. It's more about the content. And trying to understand Life For Another. I don't think I'm very good at empathy. For some people, it's innate. It's not for me. I can sort of understand things as other people explain them, but if I fail to identify with them or haven't experienced anything remotely similar, I struggle with it. I guess it's probably like trying to understand how hard it is to stop smoking if you've never smoked (yeah, I don't get that at all). And I don't really have a clue what to do or say if someone close to someone else dies ... (aside from the truth: "I'm sorry").

I like to think I'm more interested in the plight of animals than people, I'm not terribly active with that either. Not like some other people I know. I am not explaining this very well.

Okay, okay so enough with the "I am a terrible person" narrative. My point is, that in the last 24hours I have had a lot to think about, and while I can't say I know how anyone is feeling, I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to understand. And I won't lie, the stiffness I feel today, after 2 days at Boot Camp (of really trying to make up for missing last week), has given me a (albeit) minor inkling. But tomorrow I'll feel back to normal again.

The Peeb has probably recently arrived at a hospital in Cape Town for an operation later this afternoon. That is what she called to tell me last night, and that spiraled into many other discussions about her life and all the differences between our lives. We are sisters, but we've never been similar or close. The differences may always have been there, but living far away it's easy for me to forget how many and how real they are.

Aside from the superficial differences between us, she has more medical issues than I would wish on anyone. I asked her last night how many pills she takes in a day. It varies, but as she started reeling them off (not even getting to the final number), I realised how different our lives are. None of her pills are vitamins (well, maybe she throws in a few of those too, but you know what I mean). She needs all of them, some to make her life a little bit easier, to make sure she can physically get out of bed in the mornings, some to make her mood a little lighter, to make sure she wants to get out of bed in the mornings and even more to make sure she gets a few hours of sleep each night. I don't think I've even covered all of them o_0

Sure, I take a few things for my allergies, my birth-control ... but that is pretty much the extent of it. There is no experimenting with new dosages and new types. And aside from all the pills, there are the underlying things that she needs the pills for. Her life is much harder than mine. And, mostly, I've never really understood just how much.

I was grappling with all this when I read this article: Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense. And it also fell resoundingly into place for me.

In some ways they seem so related. When your day to day is consumed with the right here and now and just making it thru the day (as it sounds like The Peeb is often also doing), it's hard to worry about the rest of it.

I love the Spoon Theory, I've read it often, trying to relate to The Peeb's experience. But that's also hard. Often I feel like I have my own spoons which I run out of (particularly in those instances I mentioned above: the office, dealing with Service People) ... when it feels like you just can't anymore. And that's the problem. It's not at all like that. While I don't get to chose who I deal with and whether or not they will frustrate me, I can rebuild my spoon collection during the day. They are isolated instances, which we deal with in the moment and then they're gone.

Also she doesn't have a flashing counter on her head of remaining spoons for the day or a litmus indicator of how she's feeling on any given day, so it makes it hard to sometimes tell. And it's hard to ALWAYS remember she is experiencing life somewhat differently from the rest of us. Her priorities are different and for her it is just, quite simply, life. Same as we feel about our lives. She has a lot to be thankful for too, and I'm sure she probably is, when the other overwhelming bits of her life give her space to be. But we forget, and she lets us forget ... because my little Peeb doesn't talk about it much to us (her family, perhaps to other people?), and she never has. Like everyone else, we take our familiarity with family, who've known us our whole lives, for granted and I guess she just assumes we understand what it's like for her, every day. But I don't think any of us really do. It's been a very long time since we all lived together in one house, exposed daily to each other's magnified ups and downs. Forced to face them head-on.

And to be fair, she's rarely as chatty with us as she was with me last night, in that almost-hour-long phone call. I can count the times on my fingers. My go-to reaction when I saw her calling was, honestly, panic. She tends to phone me when people have died. That is when we truly draw together as sisters, when there is a family crisis. That's when we're really not so different after all.

I don't really know what I'm saying. But I feel sad today. Sad for the lives other people have, sad for changes they can't make and have no control over. I also feel lucky. Superbly lucky and blessed that I've had a storybook life (with the regular up and downs, but nothing I haven't managed to survive, yet).

My heart breaks that it's not like this for everyone ...

Author's note: I wrote this earlier today, but I waited to get the thumbs up from The Peeb before I hit publish. It is, after all, her story as much as mine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass

It seems a routine case for Dr. Bill Brockton, the exhumation of a body to obtain a bone sample for a DNA paternity test. But a shocking discovery awaits Brockton and his colleagues when the coffin is opened: the corpse inside has been horribly violated. The grisly find embroils the Body Farm's founder in a dangerous investigation into a flourishing black market in body parts, as Brockton is recruited for an FBI sting to bring down a postmortem chop shop—using corpses from the Body Farm as bait.

But as he descends deeper into a ghoulish empire on the trail of a ruthless grave robber, Brockton faces a devastating choice that could compromise the investigation and place him in even graver peril. And for the sake of a damaged friend—a medical examiner who has lost his hands—Brockton may be forced to risk his principles, his freedom . . . and even his life.

Yip, yet another Body Farm novel and I flew thru it (as with the rest of them). I adore this whole series and it is a very easy read. Literally the sort of holiday novel I can devour over a weekend.

If you enjoy a little crime and mystery reading and you're looking for something light to read over your December break, I would highly recommend you try one of these!

* This book is part of the Body Farm series: Carved in Bone (2006), Flesh and Bone (2007), The Devil's Bones (2008), Bones of Betrayal (2009), The Bone Thief (2010), The Bone Yard (2011), ~Madonna and Corpse (2012), The Inquisitor's Key (2012), ~Jordan's Stormy Banks (2013), Cut to the Bone (2013)

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