Thanksgiving Thursday

It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

In my country we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. There is, however, an awareness of it – probably most of the credit for that going to the wide variety of American movies we feast our eyes on.
(Up until a few years ago, Halloween wasn’t really acknowledged either – and then suddenly our shops were filled with the decor! There is still no official trick or treating though, because of huge safety concerns.)

But because I have an American spirit 😉 it is a holiday I have always acknowledged in my house. Not fully – because there is no such thing as Thanksgiving decor or meals… but I make an effort and make something of my own. We have never tried pumpkin pie though – mostly because my children refuse, so I’ve never bothered with making it. This year, in celebration of this special day, I shall. And although I will force feed a teaspoon of it to each, I am almost certain that my all my meals today will be pumpkin pie – pretty much the entire thing for only my consumption 😛

What you may find interesting to know is that South Africans have only recently jumped into the Black Friday traditions. I think it was about ten years ago when I first heard of Black Friday – and I’ll admit it, I thought it was to do with racism. 😛 I had no knowledge of what it entailed and so that was my first reaction. After some discussion, I understood more and knew better, and so when it arrived in SA I wasn’t outraged like many others.

Black Friday only became ‘a thing’ here about four years ago. Our deals are nowhere near as good as those overseas though. So far, it’s been relatively successful for retailers, and an absolute nightmare for consumers. In a third world country where most things very seldom ‘work’, overpopulation is a problem and crime rates are exceptionally high, Black Friday is now another day where ‘the bad stuff’ just escalates alarmingly. Add to that the pressure of our failed economy and most people having so little and being after deals for survival, it’s more than the usual reported US chaos. It’s no surprise to me that non perishable foods are apparently at the highest percentage when it comes to sales here.

My children are caught up in the hype and buzz, and both wish we had an abundance of money to spend on all the sales – because, ‘we can save 30%’ if we shop tomorrow, Mom’! To which I usually reply,

“We can save 100% if we just stay at home, and don’t visit any online sales.” 😛

But back to Thanksgiving….

I found this story and I wanted to share it, because it speaks to my heart and as you should know by now is very much in keeping with the way I feel generally :

When Mrs. Klein told her first graders to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful, she thought how little these children, who lived in a deteriorating neighborhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of the class would draw pictures of turkeys or of bountifully laden Thanksgiving tables. That was what they believed was expected of them.

What took Mrs. Klein aback was Douglas’s picture. Douglas was so forlorn and likely to be found close in her shadow as they went outside for recess. Douglas’s drawing was simply this:

A hand, obviously, but whose hand? The class was captivated by his image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one student.

“A farmer,” said another, “because they grow the turkeys.”

“It looks more like a policeman, and they protect us.” “I think,” said Lavinia, who was always so serious, “that it is supposed to be all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them.”

Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten Douglas in her pleasure at finding the class so responsive. When she had the others at work on another project, she bent over his desk and asked whose hand it was.

Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Teacher.”

Then Mrs. Klein recalled that she had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time; she often did that with the children. But that it should have meant so much to Douglas …

Perhaps, she reflected, this was her Thanksgiving, and everybody’s Thanksgiving—not the material things given unto us, but the small ways that we give something to others.

Readers Digest

Here’s wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and plenty of pumpkin pie.

But most importantly, I wish you the opportunities to share and care, to express kindness and love, and to be the recipient of sharing, caring, kindness and love too.

charlie-1570151656

Photo credit : oprahmag.com

risky business and travel

I was reading this blog post and there was a suggestion regarding blog content. The suggestion was to sometimes take a risk, be creative and fun, and present a blog post that is a little different to what you would normally post about. It was posed to me (the reader) that without the risk there can be no reward. So today I am going to be a little risky.

And when I think of today’s post, there just isn’t any way for me to shorten it. I promise to try and keep it entertaining, so as not to lose you – but I honestly will not be offended with the many parts you’ll choose to skip over…
I mean, how am I gonna know, right?!?! 😛 😉
BUT IF YOU’RE AMERICAN, you may want to read it all 😛 😉

Picture it. (No, not Sicily 1922 Golden Girls style) It’s 1983, actually – the place I am taking you to. We’d had television in our home since its introduction in South Africa in 1976. By 1983 I was five (and yes, now you know how old I am) and thanks to my lovely grandfolks I was constantly singing about hills being alive and the trouble with Maria. This would be because my grandfolks had a video machine, and had recorded The Sound of Music from one of the few channels our TV industry sported back then. It quickly became a firm favourite and was enjoyed a multitude of times. Naturally, I passed that down to my children 😉

But there were others that they recorded too. Mostly for the older grandsons – things my mother would not allow me to watch at home. But so long as I played a good game of scrabble with the grandfolks, there was always the opportunity of glancing at the screen in their house 😉 (Yes, I could read and write from an early age – but of course they always beat me. It’s how I learnt the bigger words!)

I was eight years old when I convinced my brothers to give me the pull out posters of my favourite actors – they were going to throw those parts of their silly teen magazines away anyway. (I did have Katherine Kelly Lang adorning my wall too though, even though I didn’t know who she was at the time. I had decided that when I grew up I was going to look like her. Boy, am I disappointed! 😛 )

My little girl love was spread out evenly for these guys :
David Hasselhoff – Knight Rider
Richard Dean Anderson – MacGyver
Tom Selleck – Magnum PI

And naturally my enquiring mind wanted to know all there was to know about them, within reason, because I was still a kid 😉

By age 10 my love for American TV shows and movies had grown. And actor obsessions changed from ”just the looks” to something a little more meaningful – I wanted to meet all these stars!

But more importantly, another obsession had begun to grow within me.

THE USA!

I ate up all I could find regarding the US in those days, and dreamed of being there – many hours locked in my head in a daydream of the US, many a morning waking with a smile because I had been there in my dreams. I didn’t know anyone there, and neither did I know of anyone who was travelling there. But the USA was still a part of me, I felt.

The internet created a whole new hunk of love. It was like I was there, and the information at my fingertips was a lot broader than what I’d had in the past. It was both wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. Wonderful that I could ‘go there’ at any time, heartbreaking because I wanted it to be physical.

Shortly after my daughters birth, and a two year stint in another town, we moved back to my hometown. A broken computer became the biggest blessing of all! Enter the computer guy – and another whole new world, way better than anything Aladdin promised 😛  The day that he came to fix my computer was a day that changed a very large portion of my life, and my heart.

He introduced me to the world of blogging. He even went so far as to set up a blog for me on a platform he was using – Xanga. He didn’t charge me for the extra two hours it took to teach me the basics, and show me where I could develop my skills. Personally, I felt he just enjoyed the fact that while I was not completely technologically challenged, I was slightly stupid in some of the ways of the blogging world. 😛 He later told me that it was actually my excitement of being able to ‘be in touch’ with actual US citizens that amused him the most 😛

(There’s a standing joke that I am an American in my heart 😉 )

That was 13 years ago. And within a year I had American FRIENDS. Our contact had gone beyond simple blogging – we were emailing each other too. The bizarre thing about all those connections was that those ‘strangers’ knew me better than the people who had my physical presence. (I think it helped that we were all very honest about ourselves and our circumstances – instead of creating a false online persona we were very real with each other.) And when I just couldn’t put any more heart into blogging due to circumstances, we took another connective step and added each other on Facebook. 

Facebook is, and always has been, my private place. When I look at my profile pictures collection, I often laugh and say, ‘the many faces of Meg’. BUT, my appearance is the only thing that really seems to change. Some people keep ‘a place’ on social media completely private, because that is where they are ‘real’. That’s not my reason. I am not hiding parts of my character that I don’t want anyone to know about. What you see here is pretty much what you’ll see there – but in a LOT LESS words 😛
The difference between here and there is that there I share more pictures – including ones of my kids. And there I have family watching – yeah, it’s complicated. I’ve successfully managed (I think) to keep my blogging world separate from the haters 😛
ANYWAY…. I am not one of those people who accept random friend requests….and I also take my time to really know someone before I am prepared to take that sort of plunge, so this was a big step for me.

Soon our communications were Facebook, regular emails, and even telephone calls.

Of those fourteen new friends, who I have never met in person, I have lost two in the past four years – not due to termination of friendship,  but sadly due to their deaths. And I cried a lot, and felt real pain at losing them – as if they’d been right here, interacting with me in physical presence, daily. But in a way they were. They were with me, thanks to the internet, in my home for 9 years +. And they’ll forever be in my heart.

One of those 14 is my sister, L. No, not biological. (Her mom was one of my friends too – sadly, she now keeps an eye on us from up above instead) L and I used to tease her mom and say that she’s lucky we weren’t biological because she never would have coped with both of us 😛

L and I found our common ground in the fact that we had children almost the same age. Her oldest is a year older than my son, her youngest is a year older than my daughter. Once we’d established that, we discovered a whole lot of other common ground in our lives. And for 13 years, we have journeyed through our lives together. We have watched each others children grow, and shared in the moments of elation and devastation that that sometimes brings. We’ve shared the triumphs and disappointments of life and the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in. We’ve both had moments where we’ve lost our way, and we’ve kind of disappeared on each other – only to pick up a few months later as if no time has passed at all – and share the learning experiences with one another.

She is me, but different. I have my strengths, but she’s stronger. She’s the fit one (she runs), I’m the fat one 😛 (I don’t know if I could even run if something was chasing me these days!) She’s successful in all the ways that count, I still have moments where I’m waiting at the airport for my ship to come in 😛 She’s braver than me, and more assertive. I admire her so much, and often look to her for advice and opinions.  For Grey’s Anatomy fans – she is my person.

The bond that has formed is so strong that even my children ‘know her’. And they mention her often, just as if she really was their aunt.  I know it all sounds so crazy and unrealistic. But it’s true.
(And yes, I asked her permission to share all this.)

My American friendships have made me love the country even more. My passion for the USA has gone from being a glowing ember to a full blown fire. It’s no longer just the places and famous people though that fuel that fire. It’s the REAL people! While it would still be great to meet one or two of my now many favourite actors and actresses, and while there are still places I’d like to see; my heart yearns to meet my American friends, who are scattered all over the US.

And I cry every time I entertain the thought of the day I will get to hug my sister and tell her in person that I think she rocks, and I love her dearly!

This blog post is actually based on a blogging question I found :

IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT, NAME ONE PLACE YOU WOULD TRAVEL TO?

I think I made my answer clear 😉

Of course, there are many beautiful places in this world and I have a list of destinations I’d like to visit, and things I’d like to explore.

But my heart lies with my faithful American friends who have been a big part of my life for a long time. So the USA would have to take precedence 😉  With money not being an object, I guess I could go everywhere. But first and foremost (even to the point of moving there) the USA would be my choice, time and time again.

And with all the different places within the US we’d have to go, I think we’d do them proud with tourism 😉 Yes, my kids have caught this passion of mine to a large degree – my daughter a little more so than my son, but I think it’s LA that calls to her most 😛
Kansas, Oregon, New York, Texas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and more!

Oh, how my heart longs for it, and I think I’d find a deep, booming voice inside me yelling out loud for all to hear if I could say :

I’M COMING TO AMERICA!

But. Sigh. Money IS an object.

I have not lost hope though – I still believe it will happen one day. And of course, when that day comes, EVERYONE will know about it 😉

One Lovely Blog Award

The rules are as follows :

# Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in the post.

# They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image. 

# Must add 7 facts about them.

# Then nominate 15 people! 

A big thank you to the lovely SFR for this nomination. I really do appreciate it, and hope that my 7 random facts below do justice to the award.

onelovelyblogaward

7 Random Facts About Me

  1. My first car was eight years older than me – I’m not joking. She was a beautiful gold Ford Cortina, named Goldilocks, of course! I also got my first, and only, speeding fine in her. The traffic cop commented to me that he didn’t know she could still make it to that speed. I, in my youthful innocence (19 years-old at the time), replied, “Oh, she can go much faster.” He laughed along with me when I clapped my hand over my mouth after realizing what I had just said, and I took my ticket, and went on my merry way.pic1
  2. I have never been afraid of heights – I still don’t think I am, since I absolutely love being in a ‘flying bird’ and staring out the window. But I recall immense fear, and the feeling that I was going to fall, when I walked along a very narrow path in the rock face of a cliff, to see the view pictured below. No hand rail, and the path was only about two feet wide. So yes, I was scared, as I leaned as close to the cliff as possible to reach the cave at the top.pic2
  3. I have a problem with feet – and not in a foot fetish kind of way. I just don’t like mine. I am still not really sure why, because they’re quite delicate and I have fairly pretty toes. But I prefer to keep them covered, and when I am wearing summer sandals and I notice someone looking at my feet, I feel like I am going to curl up into a ball and die right there. Most of the time, I am walking around in socks. And if I am in socks (or on the very rare occasion, barefoot) I have a tendency to walk on tip toes.pic3
  4. I love the rain, and sometimes when I am out in it, I’ll even do a little hop and skip across a parking lot, while singing, “I’m singing in the rain….what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!” ….much to my children’s embarrassment.
    (Yes, you may not want to take me anywhere on a rainy day!)pic4
  5. My two drinks of choice? Coffee, and water. Yes, water. I drink too much of both. And yes, there is such a thing as too much water…water retention and all that stuff, you know. A normal water drinking day for me runs at about 0.79 gallons (3 liters). Add to that about 8 cups of coffee, and it’s no wonder my belly constantly sounds like the sea!pic5
  6. One of my favorite smells is vanilla. I love it! My kids get nervous when I bake – which I like to do quite often. If they have a friend over, they avoid the kitchen at all costs. They just know that in between batches and baking time, Mom will be sniffing that bottle of vanilla extract like there’s no tomorrow. I have vanilla room spray, vanilla body lotion, vanilla body wash, vanilla hand soap etc. I suppose it is safe to say that I smell a bit like vanilla too then.pic6
  7. I have never seen snow in ‘real life’ – so yes, I have never made a snowman, or had a snowball fight, or had the pleasure of making a snow angel. Neither have my children.
    I have also never tasted eggnog.
    Both of the above, for me, are ‘American things’ (I am aware they happen in other countries too though – but it’s a me/America thing)
    We DO get snow in my country, just not really near me – and when it is ‘near me’, it’s always at a time when work and school prevent a trip to see it. And it doesn’t cover the earth like a blanket. The US in winter is a big part of my bucket list.pic7

 

(I can’t take credit for any of the above pics, as they were all selected via Google Images)

I nominate the following people (but please, no pressure to participate, promise!) :

And please check out their blogs if you’re still reading this.

Saving Without Scrimping

Random Catastrophe

Bibliophile

Read Between the Lyme

Mother of Necessity

Just Call Me Elm or Something

A Thomas Point of View

t0bec0nsidered

The Scruffy Guy

SincerelyReine

The Bee Sneeze

mylifeinmywords

Yes…I know…there aren’t 15, and I apologize for that. I also apologize if I left you out. Exclusion is not a part of this, and I really didn’t mean to!

EDIT : If you read this post, and your name is not on the list, then please consider yourself nominated. Unfortunately, my brilliance only kicks in after a good few cups of Java – so now no one has to feel left out.

Happy blogging, everyone!

*Please don’t forget to head over to Endever Publishing Studios on Facebook and cast your vote in the short story competition. You can only vote once, for one story. My story (I’d appreciate your vote) is Contestant 1, “Shoebox Sanity” – if you scroll down the page there, you’ll see it. To vote for it, you need to ‘like’ that particular shared post.

While you are there, please also like the Endever page – there is another writing contest coming up that you may be interested in. You can also follow them here on WordPress and keep an eye on what they are up to – I am sure you won’t be disappointed. Thank you.*

Wonderful Words

In my last post I addressed some interesting South African foods. The one before we looked at the differences in the words we use here in South Africa, as opposed to words that are used in America.

There are just so many of these wonderful words, and silly differences, that I could probably write posts for a month and still not have them all covered. But I will make small efforts, and today’s post is one of those.

Takkies  – pronounced ‘tacky-s’
I sometimes forget myself when chatting with my friend in Kansas, and every now and then I revert to South African words. I sent her an email, saying I was taking the children shopping before the schools started up again, because they needed school shoes (they wear uniforms here) and takkies, for sport. Thankfully, the use of the word ‘sport’ helped her to identify what I meant. Takkies is the South African word for sneakers/trainers.

Sucker
If we’re talking slang, then this is most definitely the word for a gullible human being – but I don’t think our country is alone in that line of thinking.
When I offer my daughter a sucker for consumption, I am not offering her the opportunity to eat a gullible human being (yes, cannibalism is illegal here too), but instead I am offering her a lollipop.

Shebeen – pronounced ‘sha-been’
This is the name given to an illegal drinking establishment. If the bottle store (we call it that, you call it a liquor store) is closed, and you’re feeling mighty brave, then you can always find alcohol at a shebeen – although it’s almost double the price of what you’ll pay at the store. It is, after all, what has to be considered a ‘convenience outlet’. The brave part comes in because these are normally located in rural locations, in the middle of an informal settlement, and ‘the party’ is always more than a little rough.

Packet
When you go to the store and are paying for your purchases, they will ask if you’d like a packet. If you have too many items to carry out, this may be a good idea, because what they are offering you is a disposable plastic shopping bag to place said items in. We have to pay for our packets (it’s not a lot, but still), and so it’s always a good idea to store them up at home, and take a few with you the next time you visit the store. I also happen to think it’s better for the environment if we’re re-using as much as possible as opposed to purchasing them each time, just to throw them out. And while I’d like to say that I do this all the time, I am afraid that being human tends to show up in my life sometimes, and I forget!
You can purchase a rather costly canvas shopping bag at the store though, which will last a lot longer than the plastic packets do.

Now now
This is more of a South African expression than a ‘word’. When we say, ‘I’ll do it for you now now’, we mean, ‘I’ll do it for you soon’. We’ll be doing it sooner than ‘just now’ (see the end of this post for that expression’s explanation), but won’t be doing it immediately.
As mentioned before, us South Africans are a strange bunch when it comes to time.

Donga – pronounced ‘don-guh’
When I was still in junior school, we paid a visit to a local game park, and stayed the night. That night, armed with torches, we left the campsite for a night walk, to enable us to hear ‘the sounds of the bush after dark’. Halfway down the dirt road, we were all told to please keep to the right, as there was a huge donga on the left. The strange thing about this word is that it is a Zulu word (one of the African languages of our country) and it means ‘wall’; but when using the word ‘donga’ you are actually referring to a huge ditch / gully type hole. So if I ever blog about a huge donga in the road, or in my yard, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lekker –  a slang word which has Afrikaans origin, pronounced ‘lack-er’
This has nothing to do with being in lack of anything, so if someone tells you your shirt is lekker, please don’t be offended. The English translation of the word is ‘sweet’, but when we use it in a sentence, or as an exclamation, we’re pretty much saying it’s ‘very nice’. When I was in high school, I used this word a lot – it was cool; I was young; slang was in. Thinking about it now, I am actually surprised at how little I have used it in the past decade. This does not mean I am no longer young and cool. 😛 A lot of South Africans still use it though, so you need to be made aware that it’s not insult, should you ever visit 😉

Stoep – I’m not quite sure about explaining how to pronounce this one, so you can listen to it here. The Afrikaans language is a lot like Dutch, and so the two are often ‘together’ when it comes to sounds and translations – but if you scroll down and listen to it in Afrikaans, you’ll hear that the ‘oe’ sound is a bit shorter.
The direct translation refers to a ‘sidewalk’, but in South Africa we actually use it to describe a front or back ‘porch’. So if someone invites you to come and have coffee with them on the stoep, they don’t mean you’ll be sitting on the sidewalk sipping coffee. They’re referring to their porch – although if they’re trying to be posh (or just prefer being purely English) they may invite you for ‘coffee on the patio/verandah’.

I think I’ll finish today with this:

You’ll hear a lot of Afrikaans being spoken in a lot of parts of South Africa. And there’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot, because us South Africans can be quite polite when we want to be.
It’s the Afrikaans way of saying ‘thank you’ – ‘baie dankie‘. It’s pronounced ‘buy-a dunkie’, but when said quickly to ears that are not accustomed to the words, it can often times sound something like ‘buy a donkey’. My step mother is British, and she says that when she first came to this country, she was confused as to why everyone always told everyone else to buy a donkey, when a simple thank you would have sufficed. Eventually a friend explained it to her, and her confusion disappeared, and has laughed about it ever since.

So I am explaining it to you, so that if you come and visit, you do not feel the need to seek out a farmer to purchase an animal 😉

Can you speak American?

A year ago, almost to this day, my daughter was watching yet another American movie that had some dancing in it. She again announced her hearts deepest desire: to attend a school like Juilliard and become a dancer. She currently has lessons in three styles of dance, and is very good. But I could never afford a school like that, or the costs involved with getting us there for her to try either. So all I can tell her is to keep practicing, keep dancing, and be dedicated – and maybe one day she will have her dream. She’s ten, and there’s time.

She has added a few other dance schools to her list, and our discussion prompted the retrieval of that list, and a request to google some of them. I didn’t have anything that needed my immediate attention, and my daughter usually trumps all anyway, so I agreed. We spent the next hour googling, reading and watching. And then the question came that horrified me, “But mom, do you think I could speak American?”

In that instant, my heart stopped and I wondered if I was so useless at being an educator to my children that my own daughter didn’t know that English was the language spoken in America, a country I love. Now, in my house, when my children ask questions that I don’t fully understand, I always say three little words.
“Please explain yourself.”
This time though, seeing the horrified expression on my face was enough, and she quickly added, “I know they speak English, mom. Most of them anyway. What I mean is, some words are different. Do you think I would be okay there?”
And then it made sense to me.

I’ve already explained the difference in spelling here, and in that post we also discussed that when you’re in South Africa, a ‘barbeque’ becomes a ‘braai’. We’ve watched enough American movies, and I’ve learnt so much from my American friends – knowledge which I take every opportunity to impart on my children – that I could, in confidence, reassure her that we would be okay. In fact, I often find myself ‘speaking American’ in small ways – but most especially when I speak to an American 😉 So here are some small differences, which you may or may not already know:

Petrol / Gas : I touched on this here, but will repeat – when we refer to gas, we’re talking about the stomach kind. We put petrol in our cars. And we go to the garage, or petrol station, in order to do this – not the gas station or filling station.

Robot / Traffic Light : I have the pleasure of knowing an American who lives around here. She finds this particular one very amusing. She says that when she first arrived, she kept looking around for Rosie the Maid – the robot from the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ – on our street corners. She actually missed seeing a landmark upon her arrival, because on the drive in someone told her, ‘If you look to the right at the robot, you will see….’, and she spent all her time looking for ‘the robot’. So when we say robot, we actually mean traffic light!

Sweets / Candy : Around here, we all know that candy refers to things like M&M’s and jelly beans and all those sweet things. We also know the saying, “Like taking candy from a baby”, and of course we’ve heard of ‘Halloween candy’. But we still call it ‘sweets’, not candy. When we go to the shop (store) I’ll ask my daughter if she wants some sweets – and she’ll pick out jelly babies or something like that. To ask if she wants candy will take her a while to figure out what it is I am actually offering her.
By the same token, the word dessert is not used very often around here – although a restaurant will offer you a ‘dessert menu’. We refer to it as pudding – and by definition pudding can be either savory or sweet. But where I live, we are always referring to the sweet variety, and whether it be cooked, baked, chilled, served hot or cold, with or without ice cream or cream – it’s pudding 😉
A chocolate/candy ‘bar’ is simply a ‘chocolate’.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup : The first time I heard the word Ketchup, I was about fourteen. I don’t remember what the exact scenario was, or who exactly said it, but someone at school used it in an oral speech for marks in our classroom, and it threw me. He said, ‘It wasn’t ketchup on his shirt, it was blood.’ It sounded like he said, ‘catch up’, and because I was so unfamiliar with the word it made absolutely no sense why his shirt would be trying to catch up, and have blood on it. This particular guy lost marks for using that word which made him rather angry, because as it turns out his wealthy family had just returned from a holiday in America, and he was very proud of his new word. I was a bit embarrassed to be approaching this ‘cool kid’ and asking what it meant, but I had to. When he explained to me, as if I was the least intelligent being in school, stating that it was the American word for tomato sauce, I was not only fascinated, but relieved that his little speech now made more sense. It helped me greatly when I watched an American movie a few months later, and didn’t need to be concerned about the hamburger and it’s need to have to ‘catch up’.

Costume / Bathing Suit : One morning, I phoned (called) my ‘local’ American friend and asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She did, so I told her to grab her costume too. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a big sigh. She told me, ‘I don’t have any fancy dress clothes yet, I have just arrived.’ I laughed and made the adjustment, ‘I meant your bathing suit’, to which she laughed and we hung up – and never did get to swim anyway because the water was too cold that day. We’re certainly weird, because we also use ‘costume’ when we’re talking about dressing up for a fancy dress, or the outfit worn for a part in a production of a show/theater. I guess you have to think about the situation to know which costume we’re referring to.

Washing Powder / Laundry Detergent : I do not do laundry. I do, however, do copious loads of washing. I also spend time hanging washing on the line, and taking it off again, because tumble dryers are not very popular around here. We had one growing up, but I have never had one in my home as an adult. The one we had when I was a child in my mothers house was seldom used, due to its large consumption of electricity and our ridiculous rates thereof – which are worse now. It goes without saying then that I purchase washing powder, not detergent.

Chips / French Fries : Again, we’re weird. If I tell you I ate a packet of chips, I am usually referring to eating a bag of potato crisps. However, I may also tell you that I made chips to go with the meat we had at supper time, and I am referring to something entirely different. In this case, I would be meaning French Fries. If you go to a take-away place around here, and ask for chips with your burger, you’ll get french fries. But if you ask at the local store where they keep their chips, they’ll lead you to the display of countless bags of crisps. Unless you say frozen chips…then you may just wind up in the frozen section where you can buy french fries to purchase for home and cook yourself.

Scones / Biscuits : My new friend was telling me the other day that he needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wait the twenty minutes or so it would take to bake the frozen biscuits he had. Wait, what? Frozen biscuits? Of course, Google is my best friend in cases like this. A quick search revealed to me that he was talking about something we call ‘scones’. Although we don’t buy them with a frozen option, I don’t think. If you go out to tea around here, and you ask for a biscuit, you will get a cookie. Because that is what we call cookies here. It’s a biscuit. Even an Oreo cookie – it’s referred to as either simply Oreo’s, or you may be asked if you’d like an Oreo biscuit with your coffee. So a cookie is a biscuit, and a biscuit is a scone 😉 Tea or coffee with fresh and warm scones, served with jam (jelly, see further down, please) and cream, or cheese, is usually a delightful option when out and about.

Cooldrink / Soda : When we ask if you’d like some cooldrink, we’re not referring to a drink that looks ‘cool’ (although you will be offered ice) and may be sporting an umbrella in a colorful sugar rimmed glass. We just mean soda. Plain and simple. I have to also mention here that if we ask if you would like some lemonade? You’re getting soda, and it’s usually Sprite. I have never tasted ‘proper lemonade’ of the lemonade stand variety – pink or yellow. I really should try and make some one day, just to be able to taste. I think I shall add that to my list of things to do this week.

Serviette / Napkin : There’s a South African comedian who does a very funny example of this – but he can be rather offensive, and so I am not going to link him in here. But I’ll do a brief explanation of the difference in these words, to us. Over here, a napkin is shortened to the word ‘nappy’, and this is what we call a baby’s ‘diaper’. You change a baby’s nappy, but wipe your mouth with a serviette. So you can imagine how this can become strange for us if we buy takeaway food and get offered a napkin to go with it. How bad is your food?

How’s it (Howzit) / Hello : This is a funny one, because many South African’s use it. Although we say it fast and it sounds like ‘howzit’, and it’s usually meant purely as a greeting, as opposed to being a question actually asking ‘how is it’.
We also have a tendency to use ‘is it’ a lot – but not as a question. It usually take the place of ‘really’, or ‘uh huh’, and comes out sounding like ‘izit’.

Jam / Jelly : Around here, jelly is what Americans would probably call ‘jello’, so you can imagine how confused I was the first time I heard about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google once again came to the rescue, and since I happen to really like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, I was happy with its definition.

Just now / Later : I often confuse my American friends when I use this term. I’ll say it without thinking and mention that I am going to fetch my daughter from school just now. This does not mean now, or immediately. It actually means soon, or later, or in a short while. But never immediately. Yes, us South Africans are a confusing bunch.

There are many more little differences that you may (or may not) find interesting, and I am sure I will come back to addressing some of them in a future blog post. For now though, I am going to give you a break from all the reading, and hope that you didn’t find it too boring. I need to think about going to the ‘shop’ ‘just now’. 😉

It’s here, at last!

So……it’s taken me a while, because life always happens when I have other plans…….but here it is, at last!

*Drum roll please*

I was nominated for an award. Yip. You read that right.
I’m flabbergasted! Speechless! (And so were my fingers, for a while!)

It’s called the Liebster Award, and is an award given by bloggers, to other bloggers.
The rules for this award are as follows :

  1. Thank the one who nominated you:
  2. Display the Liebster award logo of choice:
  3. Answer the eleven questions posed to you by your nominator:
  4. Nominate eleven (11) fellow bloggers and
  5. Ask them eleven questions to keep the love going:

So without further ado….

THANK YOU to A @ Moylom Enterprises for this distinguished award! Thank you for your faith in my abilities, and for seeing promise in my writing. Your support is very much appreciated!

liebster-award-digital-art-by-moylom-enterprises

And here is my answer to those amazing 11 questions that you put to me…..

1. What is one go-to thing that cheers you up no matter what?

This is such an interesting question, because in ‘my world’ it cannot be limited to just one thing. A baby’s giggle – that tummy chuckle that starts from deep within, and erupts from their throats; a puppy – everything about it, including its puppy breath; a friend that shows up on my doorstep with a gift – any gift : coffee, chocolate, wine, flowers (but always better when it’s something we can share).

Recently, however, I had a frightening experience. My daughter had a bad reaction to an antibiotic, and vomited for two hours straight. I was instructed to take her to the hospital – and twenty minutes after arriving, she collapsed from dehydration. My stomach sank, and it took everything in me not to crumble. As I looked down at her pale and seemingly lifeless body, every breath that I took was a mumbled, ‘Don’t take her. Please don’t take her.”

We were alone in emergency for two hours, the drip in her arm steadily feeding her liquids after the painkiller and anti vomit medication had found its way into her veins. I sat there, holding her limp hand, alone. And then her little eyes opened, somewhat vacant at first. She turned her head and looked at me, and smiled. In that moment, I was cheered up instantly. My ‘baby’s’ smile did the trick – and it was better than any of the things I have mentioned above. Her antics the past two days, and seeing her eat and drink without losing any of it, has been cheerful medicine for me.

2. What’s your favorite form of exercise?

Garfield comes to mind here. I remember a cartoon with him captioned, “Whenever I think about exercise, I lie down till the thought goes away.”
Another saying comes to mind, “I get enough exercise pushing my luck, jumping to conclusions, and flying off the handle”.
None of these apply to me though – well, not really. Although admittedly, I sometimes do push my luck, and fly off the handle.

I am not big on exercise. In younger years I loved aerobics – but after two serious car accidents, and with age taking me almost to the top of the hill already, I have to be careful with all that jolting and jiving.
I love to dance though. I’m one of those who will get on the dance floor when the music starts, and will dance four hours straight, not stopping for anything. (It usually takes me a few days to recover though.) I don’t get out much to dance these days though.

Walking would have to be my next favourite – long walks with beautiful scenery, like the beach, or a forest. But at the moment, where I live, it is no longer safe to go for a walk – so I have to limit my walking to parking on the other side of the parking lot when I need to do my shopping.

3. Who is your favorite person in the Bible and why?

I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint just one – so many, for so many different reasons. I love the way Noah took no notice of society, and went ahead and built that big old Ark – he didn’t bend under the pressure of his peers; David was only human, and was brave enough to admit when he was wrong; I love how Esther managed to keep her faith, and still submit to her husband – great strength of character; and then there’s Paul, who was content no matter what.

If only we could all carry these virtues in our hearts (what a different world we would live in, and how different our lives would be) : to not bend under the pressure of the world as to how we see ourselves, and what we do; to admit when we are wrong, no matter the consequences; to hold onto what we believe and yet still respect others; to be content with what we have, instead of always wanting more and ‘doing whatever it takes’ to get it.

4. If you had to choose a vacation destination and money was no object where would you go and why?

Now you are NOT allowed to laugh. And if you’re American, you’re going to. Especially if you know the town I am going to mention. (There’s a bigger picture here though.)

Firstly, the destination would be AMERICA – good ol’ USA. You did say that money was no object – so there’d be a few destinations there. But our first stop would be a little town called Hutchinson in Kansas (yeah, you’re laughing).

Bigger picture, remember? Eleven years ago, I began blogging in a community – a very warm one – and I made a LOT of American FRIENDS. I call them friends, because when I just couldn’t put any more heart into blogging due to circumstances, we added each other on Facebook. Phone calls, emails, Facebook friends – these people were more active in my life than my close-by friends. I consider them more ‘my family’ – and they probably know me about as much as I know myself.

There is one friend though who is more like a sister. We’ve been through hell together, from both our sides, over the past eleven years. We lose touch for a few months, and pick it up right where we left off. I have ‘watched’ her children grow, as she has watched mine, and we have shared the triumphs and disappointments of motherhood, and life, along the way. (We still do.) We often joke that the only reason we have different mothers is because one mother couldn’t handle both of us. She is me – only a wilder version 😉  Not wild in a bad way. But she’s the tough one. I have my strengths – but she’s stronger. She’s fit, and in comparison, I’m fat. She’s successful in so many ways, I’m still waiting at the airport for that ship to come in 😛 She’s still married, I am twice divorced. We are so opposite, and yet….we’re the same. For Grey’s Anatomy fans – she is my person.

And before I die, I want to sit on the porch swing with her, (while her husband barbeques, and our ‘little’ kids – who are the same age – irritate each other somewhere in the vicinity), and sip wine, and talk – face-to-face. I want to meet my ‘sister’.

I’m sure you’re still getting over the disappointment of Hutchinson, Kansas…..so here’s a more exciting next stop.

My daughter and I are huge fans of American movies – in fact, my ‘sister’ there hasn’t seen half of what we have, let alone heard of them. Ha!

A popular one though that everyone knows, and is one of our favourites, is ‘New Years Eve’. I want to take my daughter to New York – Times Square on NYE. Even if we’re just in a hotel with a view of it all – our hearts desire. Of course, she wants to see Disneyland, and Los Angeles (so many movies associated with this!) – and she wants to dance at one of the large dancing companies (inspired by Another Cinderella Story). We want to see Texas, and see real life cowboys; and experience ranch life (Dr Dolittle 3 and a few others). We want to experience all the rainy days of Seattle (Sleepless in Seattle), and go to the top of the Empire State Building (same movie). On ‘my sister’s recommendation’, we have to check out Arizona too!! Strangely enough, when I mention Hollywood (and all the famous actors/actresses), she just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Ok”.

My son is 17, and is aiming at pursuing his own dream soon – Australia.

Thank goodness ONE of my children shares my love and passions for the US 😉

So if money was no object : Destination USA. And we’d do the country proud with our tourism.

5. What would you consider to be the most important aspect of a person’s character ?

This is a short one – Integrity. Because it leads to so many of the other character traits that are positive to one’s being.

6. What would you consider to be your ultimate purpose in life ?

To live it to the best of my ability. And by live it, I don’t mean, “Party hard. Die young. Have a good-looking corpse”. I mean, “reaching and striving to be the best I can be, sharing and caring and impacting lives in a way that means something positive, even if only just for one person in a day, week, month, or year; helping my children to grow and build their characters and become the best they can be, no matter how long it takes.”

7. What goals would you like to accomplish in the next 5 to 10 years?

This is pretty much self-explanatory, if you refer to number 4 above. It probably doesn’t seem like much of a goal to many of you – but trust me, it would be quite an achievement. If I wasn’t a citizen of my country, I’d even go so far as to set up a crowdfunding account – laugh out loud!

Reality is that this is a goal that I may never achieve. But I remain filled with hope. I call myself a ‘prisoner of hope’, for even in the darkest days when I think nothing will ever work out, that tiny seed of hope in my heart continues to grow.

My other goal would be to become a writer – a writer who could actually make a living off what is produced by my mind. This would certainly bring me a lot closer to the original goal – number 4 above.

Thing is, in my country, many are struggling to survive on what they earn – and those are couples : two incomes. In my house, I am the sole income contributor – I receive no maintenance for my children ( a long and complicated story, and the laws are different here), and so there are moments where it seems we won’t even survive. In those moments though, that seed of hope receives a sprinkle of water, because something always happens – and we’ve never gone hungry. There is no opportunity to save, no opportunity to invest – but there is the opportunity to continue dreaming, and hoping….and so the seed plants roots.

8. What do you enjoy most about blogging/writing?

As I am sure many will agree, blogging/writing is a great outlet for feelings, and the thoughts that gather in your mind but have nowhere to go. For me, however, the real enjoyment comes in the form of someone who expresses appreciation for what I have written – perhaps something I have said has helped another, or has made someone smile. Maybe they just enjoyed ‘wading through my words’.

It gives me a great sense of satisfaction that someone has taken the time to read something I have written, and have found pleasure in it.

9. What are your thoughts on global warming, renewable resources, clean energy, recycling etc?

Global Warming? This quote : “The most important thing about global warming is this.         Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the        scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the     future generations than we found it.Mike Huckabee

In fact, all of those listed above come down to this : environmental responsibility.

If we don’t take care of our bodies, and continue to live in a way that is harmful for them, then our bodies begin to give in – liver fails, kidneys fail, heart stops…..and our bodies cease to exist. “Despite the high cost of living, it remains popular”, and so we do everything we can to combat failed kidneys, liver, heart. Why would we not do the same for the earth we live on? If it ceases to exist, so do we.

10. What do you like most about where you live right now?

This is a sensitive subject for me at the moment – and I am not going to get into all the reasons why because it might spark a debate that I just don’t have the energy for right now. (And since ‘my kind’ has now been added to the genocide watch list, I am sure you can understand why.)
But after much thought, I will say this : What I like the most about where I live right now is that I have two beautiful children who live with me, a dog who is my constant companion, and I have trees in my backyard.

11. How does it feel to be nominated for this award?

Honestly? Two very strong feelings.
Honoured. That someone would deem me worthy of even attempting this task. And…..

Intimidated. That voice in my head – the one that never keeps quiet (but sometimes gets a root from the seed of hope stuck in its throat) – tells me that I may not be able to do justice to this award, and thus will be a failure. Thankfully, failure is something I am used to….and I am always up for its next challenge.

And that, fellow bloggers, is that. I am working on my set of 11 questions, and will be making nominations soon…..so watch this space! Hope you enjoyed the long read 😉