What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence 😛 But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row 😛

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. It’s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and ‘burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me 😉 ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me 😉

4 things

I saw this little game on my Facebook timeline, and decided to share it with all of you… just for fun. Because we all need some fun in our lives 😉

4 names I go by :

Meg
Megs
Megster
Meggie Pegs

4 series that I like to watch :

(Hmmm… so it’s really tough to choose 4… and these are not my top 4… but I like them 😉 )

Criminal Minds
Law and Order – all of them
NCIS
Forensic Files

4 places I have visited :

Morgan Bay
St Fagan’s outdoor National Museum of History (My favourite international place so far! 😉 )
Hogsback (my favourite place in my country 😉 )
Cambridge

4 things I love to eat :

Salty biscuits/crackers with a variety of cheeses
Vegetable Spring Rolls
Beef curry Samoosas
Cheesecake 😉

4 things I love to drink :

Water
Coffee
Water
Tea
😛 😉

4 things I like to do :

Make a braai (similar to a BBQ).. but not for the purpose of cooking meat. More to just sit and watch the flames, and enjoy the warmth and peace I feel in doing so.
(Although the kids get super excited, and I wind up cooking meat on it in the end 😉 )
(One day I am hoping to have a house with a fireplace – I just know I’d sit there for hours though 😉 )

Read, read, and read some more 😉

Writing. I love to write. 🙂

Spread love and kindness in practical ways, offer encouragement, help others to feel hopeful when it seems like all is lost.

4 things I don’t like to do :

Iron. I just don’t like ironing.

Washing/Mopping floors – it’s endless with two dogs and tiles! 😛

Cooking liver, kidneys – basically all those types of delicacies! :/

Watching someone chew gum with their mouth open! 😛

 

If you want to make a list for me in the comments on just one or two of these, or even all of them, please feel free 😉
If you decide to do the same on your blog, please let me know so that I can go and read! 😉

Be safe, be well… and remember to laugh 😉

 

 

Tales and Tails

Today’s blog post was inspired by an occurrence this morning – more of an encounter with a local creature. But I’ll get to that 😉

was going to post a picture of said creature… BUT, I am sensitive to the fact that there may be someone out there who is terribly afraid of this kind of animal. SO….

Here in SA we get lots of Gecko’s – I believe they are a worldwide creature, so they get around 😉
Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder, Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. (I got that from the site I’ll link you to in a moment.)

My house sometimes seems overrun by them – I don’t mind, except that they make a mess! Because I am not afraid of them, as such. I welcome them, in actual fact. So long as they stay running along the walls and ceilings!
Mine are Albino. So they’re not as pink as the picture on the site I am going to link you to. In fact, they’re really a creamy colour, with a pink hue – and they’re pretty much see through. Yeah… they’re not very attractive at all! But I kinda like the little fella’s. And in my house they are affectionately known as ‘Geckies’.

I have had to rescue a few, that have dropped in the empty bath and can’t grip the smooth sides. Or the little ones that hang out in the shower and need to be caught and moved before we send them down the drain. Catching them is always quite stressful and usually ends up with an ‘ewwww’ moment – they lose their tails! And the tail still thrashes around for a while afterwards! Ugh!

So before I share my Geckie tales… here’s the link (which has a picture, please be warned) in case you want to check them out and read some interesting facts.

‘TAIL’ one :

That’s not the right spelling, but this mornings encounter was with a tail!
Outside my bedroom, I have an undercover patio area/veranda. There are about fifteen Geckie’s who reside there. It’s not surprising, because I leave the outside light on when I go to bed, and they congregate around it and have a feast! 😉 They usually hide out of sight during the day. This morning, my dogs woke me at 06:00, wanting to venture outside. It was still quite dark out, which meant the Geckie’s were still dining.
I always need to keep an eye on my little dog – she’s a Yorkshire Terrier cross, and loves hunting my poor Geckies. I climbed back into bed, to just be, after I’d opened up for the dogs.
And I heard the Geckie drop off the wall, with quite a thud. I quickly jumped up and cordoned off the area, so that little Miss couldn’t access him. And I watched him run off under the table and up the wall again. But he left his 7 centimetre (almost 3 inches) tail behind! It was thrashing about like there was no tomorrow! I needed to pick it up before little dog decided to try and eat it… so I grabbed a couple of tissues.
And I uttered my ‘Ewwwwwww’ and then picked it up… still feeling it moving around!
Down the toilet it went!
And then I desperately needed coffee!

Tale two :

This has happened to me a couple of times…
Turn off the lights to go to bed, seeing the Geckie on the ceiling near my bed. Telling it, ‘You better stay up there, buddy!’, and then getting myself comfortable for blissful sleep.
Hearing the plop, and feeling it at the same time, as it just drops off the ceiling, on to me!
This is usually followed by a mad scramble as I try and grab the little dog, and get out of bed to switch the light on, as quickly as I can. Then it’s Geckie location attempt time, and if I manage to find him, then I chase him to the nearest wall to climb for safety, before little dog gets released. All the while, she is struggling and whimpering in my arms, because she just wants at him so badly. Thank goodness it’s her in my arms (6kgs) as opposed to my big baby who is 24kgs.
The Geckie usually scrambles up the wall as if nothing has happened – I swear he drops off the ceiling just to try and scare me for fun! 😛

Tale three :

I’ll end with this one – it was the absolute worst! We’re all VERY careful now!
This was a triple ‘ewwwwww’ and had me ‘yuck-ing and gross-ing’ for hours afterwards!

About two years ago, in Winter time, on an unusually cold night for my area, I decided that I felt like a nice hot bubble bath. Someone had gifted me a bottle of Sweet Rosé Wine, so I even poured a glass to enjoy while I relaxed with my bubbles. I never drank it. I did drink a few after though 😛 Here’s why :

I added some Sandalwood scented foam bath to my running water, and went to the kitchen to pour my wine. Back to the bathroom to check the water level, and deposit my glass on the little shelf next to the bath. Off to my bedroom to fetch my warm fluffy pj’s, and make sure the back was locked up. Told both my kids that I was going to bath, and then returned to the bathroom. Satisfied with the water level, I switched off the taps, stuck my hand in to check the water temperature – and I felt like Goldilocks because it was juuuuuust right! Noticed I’d left the window above the bath open, so I closed it, and then quickly took off my clothes to disappear in my bubbles.
I like really hot water, so my skin was almost instantly pink. It took a few seconds to actually be able to lie back properly, which was when I let out a satisfied sigh and reached for my wine.

And that’s as far as I got. I felt something on my leg. Thinking one of my daughter’s sponges or something had fallen in (they’re always on the side of the bath) I sat up and dipped my hand in to get it. And felt something almost rubbery and squishy. I cleared away my bubble heaven….
And there he was, minus his tail. Which was floating elsewhere in my bath. He was about 12 centimetres without it! (approx. 4.8 inches)
And he was dead, either from being burnt or from drowning. 😦
No one has ever before, or ever since, seen me get out of a bath so fast! I pulled the plug, making my usual noises, and both kids came running to the other side of the door, wanting to know what was wrong. I wrapped myself in a towel and opened the door for them, telling them about the Geckie in my bath. Both screwed up their faces, announced ‘Ewww gross!’ and left me to it. I dressed, and had to wait half an hour for the bubbles to clear. His tail had gone down the drain, but there he was, stuck in the plughole. I had to try and dig him out with toilet paper – it was just awful!
He must have come in through the open window in the few minutes I wasn’t there, and lost his grip on the steamy tiles and fallen in!
I was very sad for him.
Nowadays… if I am adding bubbles to my bath… I sit and watch it from start to finish! I don’t like guests when I am bathing 😛

If you ever travel here, don’t worry about encountering them. Most guesthouses and hotels kill them off. Geckies really do make a mess, and they can’t have that!
I just don’t have the heart – they’re harmless, and as I mentioned before, I kinda like ’em.
So if you ever visit me, you’ll see lots  😉

Thomas River

Eight years ago, I worked for a payroll software company. Instead of having a ‘Christmas party’  at the end of the year, our boss decided to instead have an ‘extended weekend away’. Our boss paid for us, but we had to contribute for partners and children – which was entirely fair. (and we had to supply our own alcohol – the really funny part was that a whole trailer – similar to the one in the picture –  was used for this purpose! – and there were only 11 of us adults on the trip!)

VenterEliteRangeTrailer004-1

Photo credit : gccaravans.co.za

We stayed on a large farm – 9 of us in the main house, and the rest in a smaller second house on the property. A swimming pool and entertainment area separated the two houses. We had the run of the lot.

The place we stayed at is called ‘Thomas River‘. It was a time of lots of walking/hiking, riding horses for those who rode, visiting neighbouring farmers who opened their homes for us to have drinks on their patios, or just to appreciat the beauty of their lands.
Early evenings were spent at the pool table, competing against each other. Later in the evening, we’d all sit around the fireplace with our wine, and just wind down.
No cellphone signal. No television. It’s still hard to believe that we were only there for three nights and four days – we packed so much fun into our time there, it was amazing.

My favourite was the morning we spent in the historical village. I am not a person who is particularly fond of history – but this place? It had an eeriness to it, almost deserted – so rich in history that I couldn’t help but be taken in by it all!

My reason for telling you this is that I found some old photo’s that I took of our time there. So I thought I’d share them 😉

The last one is a picture of me (my hair was dyed with a red tint those days) – it’s one of my favourite photo’s of me. We’d hiked to the neighbouring farm, where the children were given a chance to ride a pony. Everyone was sitting on the big porch and stone steps, sipping on Gin and Tonic’s. I don’t like gin, so I declined the offer. I propped myself up on the stone wall, and still took part in their conversations. I can even remember now how very relaxed and happy I was that day 😉 (despite not sharing in Gin time 😛 )

Enjoy the photo’s, (photo credits all me, but can’t remember who took the one of me) and stay well, my friends.

th2th3th4th5th6th7

th1

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 😉

South Africa’s Tummy

There are so many more word differences like the ones mentioned in yesterdays post that I definitely want to touch on some more of them in a later post. But as I rummaged about in my kitchen in search of something to eat, I started thinking about the foods in my country. I’ll mention some that are considered ‘traditional dishes’, but I will also mention some products that are ‘exclusively South African’ – although with the internet being what it is, I am sure you could find somewhere to purchase the products, if your stomach so desired 😉

Koeksisters – pronounced ‘cook-sisters’. (An Afrikaans word) These are truly sinfully delicious, if you have a sweet tooth. I can usually only manage one or two, but my daughter could eat a whole bag of ten in one sitting, if I allowed her to. They’re about 4 inches in length, and are made of dough, which is braided/twisted and then deep-fried. Once the deep-frying is done, they are dipped into a cold, sugary syrup, and are best served/eaten straight from the refrigerator. I know someone who makes the best ones I have ever tasted. They’re crisp on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside. As you bite into it, the juice/syrup runs down your fingers and into your hands. If you eat another, you’re guaranteed the stickiness will find it’s way to your forearms. Eating them can be a messy job, but someone has to do it! 😉

Biltong – Similar to beef jerky, but not. I always use the beef jerky reference, simply because biltong is also a form of dried meat. But I have a feeling that that is where the similarity ends. I’m not sure though, since I have never had beef jerky.
There are different variations: Kudu, Beef, Venison….and recently I found bacon biltong. It’s not quite the same taste as the traditional biltong, but it was rather delicious – it is bacon, after all. Biltong is air dried for 3-7 days, and then doused in vinegar, before adding salt and various spices. The biltong is dehydrated as one large strip of meat, and you can either buy it as a whole, or ask to have it sliced. It is probably the most delicious ‘savory snack’ of our country – but can be on the expensive side for us…not so expensive for you, and you have the exchange rate to thank for that 😉

Ouma Rusks – (Ouma is pronounced ‘omar’, without the ‘r’; and is an Afrikaans word which translates into ‘Grandma’.)
Rusks, I think, may be the South African word for this treat. I did a google search and I think it’s similar to what Americans might call ‘Biscotti’.
This particular brand of rusk has been around since 1939, and it has yet to disappoint. There is nothing quite like a cup of coffee, and a buttermilk Ouma rusk.
It is essentially double baked bread dough, and comes in a wide variety of flavors – the most recent addition being ‘condensed milk’ flavor. A box of those lasted two days in my house – but then again, I don’t buy rusks very often, so when I do, my children just can’t get enough of them!

Amarula – Amarula is a cream liqueur with an alcohol content of 17% by volume. It’s made from the fruit of the African Marula Tree – which we also call the Elephant Tree…and sometimes is referred to as the Marriage Tree. Sugar and cream is added to the fruit, to create a delicious tasting alcoholic beverage.  It won a gold medal in 2006 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and I have read that they are trying to break into the American market, but I don’t know how long ago that was – so by now, it might be something my American friends could purchase in store? I am not a big drinker, but I have tasted a glass of Amarula, with crushed ice. It’s smooth, and definitely enjoyable when sipped slowly. At Christmas time, my friend gave me a box of Amarula chocolates, and I have to say, they were every bit as delicious as the drink itself – minus the alcoholic content. The best part was that my children didn’t care for the ‘fruity’ flavor, and so I could eat the whole box alone.

Mrs H.S. Balls Chutney – Although the name brand is slightly disturbing (and was selected way before my time, so my generation had nothing to do with it), there is nothing disturbing about this condiment, other than its addictive taste! What I love most about this particular brand is that it was a recipe that got shipwrecked…and survived. And the shipwreck? It happened right here, in the seas of the town where I live, in 1852! In doing some research, I was pleased to discover that there IS in fact a US range – so I won’t have to go without it when I visit 😉 I am still more inclined to go with the ‘Original Recipe’, but enjoy the Peach Chutney too. I don’t eat it a lot, but always keep a bottle in my refrigerator, because there are those times…oh yes, there are those times!

Bunny Chow – No, you will not be eating a rabbit. So if you ever see this and order one, in the hopes of some form of rabbit stew, then you will be disappointed. Originally created in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal here in South Africa, it’s a delicious meal that can be found all over South Africa. It consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread (although I buy the smaller version if I do get it, which is usually a quarter loaf of bread – and still never manage to finish it all)  filled with curry – the Indian kind, although not always too hot. A lot of places will let you choose your filling when it comes to the ‘burning your mouth’ possibility, and you can opt for a mild curry filling. I prefer to have it hot! 🙂

Afval  – another Afrikaans word, pronounced ‘uf- file’ (although I found it difficult to tell you how to pronounce that last part, and I still may be wrong. I know how to pronounce it, but trying to explain it is sometimes tough).  This word translates into ‘waste’.
I have to mention that I have no personal experience when it comes to the taste of this dish – I don’t eat livers, hearts, kidneys, or anything of that sort.
This particular dish is made from the stomach lining and trotters of lamb. It’s either served curried or stewed, and I have been told that if you are a person who enjoys oxtail, then you’ll enjoy this dish too because the meat is very tender and tasteful.
if you ever happen to visit South Africa, and taste it, please let me know if my information  on the tastiness of the dish is correct. I’m afraid that tasting it is not a sacrifice I am willing to make, even for the purposes of this blog!

Sheep’s Head – Yes, you read that right. And it’s popular. But again, it’s something I have never tasted and probably never will – not like this anyway. You get served the entire head of the sheep on your plate, after it’s been cooked for several hours in the oven. I am told that the meat is, once again, full of flavor and extremely tender. I’ll leave it to you to decide!

Frikkadel – pronounced ‘frick-a-dell’.  This is something I do eat, and my son says I make the best ones, but I think that’s just because he wishes I would make them more often. They’re basically just meatballs – deep fried balls of minced meat, combined with grated onions and carrots, bread crumbs, a little bit of whisked egg, and herbs and spices. They are sometimes served with a sauce, but not usually. Smaller balls are often found on what we call a ‘snack platter’, which is pretty much what it says it is. A platter with various ‘small’ versions of foods, for snacking purposes – and usually supplied for entertainment purposes. Sometimes, I will make a snack platter for my children for supper – I can hide the vegetables in the makings of the platter, and they get happily consumed 😉

Amasi – pronounced ‘uh-maas-i’. It’s basically fermented milk, and I am told it tastes a lot like cottage cheese or plain yoghurt. I have never tried it as a drink on its own because it has a tendency to have a lumpy texture, but it is very popular amongst black South Africans. I have, however, used it in a recipe for ‘traditional bread’, and it certainly didn’t affect the taste negatively in any way!

Umngqusho – this is one of my favorite ‘black South African’ dishes. I don’t have a clue how to tell you to pronounce this word, so I will just say that an English way to ask for it if you’re ever here is to request ‘samp and beans’.
There are so many different variations, but the base ingredients are stamp mielies/samp (which are dried corn kernels that have been stamped and chopped until broken into pieces) and sugar beans. The best way to make this particular dish is by soaking the samp and sugar beans overnight. The next day, you begin the cooking process, adding onions and butter and often times a ‘soup meat on the bone’, for added flavor. The cooking process usually takes about four hours, then it’s ready to be drained and consumed! I cook mine with the meat in it, but when I serve it up, I keep the meat out of it. I add extra butter and salt, and have been known to overindulge – in other words, it’s something I will always have a second helping of! It can be quite filling though, which sadly rules out a third 😉

There are so many other foods and branded products that I have yet to mention, but I hope you enjoyed the ‘taste’ of South Africa’s food variety for today!

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’. 😉

South Africa and the Welshman

My father is Welsh. I was born and raised in South Africa, with a South African mother – but I am part Welsh. Some people tease and say I shouldn’t say that out loud, but I’m proud of the bit of Welsh blood in my veins. 😉

It posed a slight problem for me when Wales took on South Africa in the Rugby World Cup a few months back. Rugby is something similar to American Football, although there are some key differences, but I won’t mention them all here. When I asked ‘one of the guys’ what he thought the biggest difference was between the two, he said that Rugby is played by ‘real men’, because they wear no protection gear. I found that rather amusing!
I was invited to watch the Wales vs. South Africa game with some friends – and as is SA tradition, we accompanied the game with a braai. (Rugby is big in South Africa, and a braai is essential to the pleasure of the game.) If you’re unsure about what a braai is, then please see my post relating to that here.
I was in trouble with my friends the moment I walked through the door – I wore red, for Wales, as opposed to the green and gold of South Africa. I teased and said, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve’. One of the couples told me, ‘I couldn’t lose’ because I am part Welsh and part South African – I think it’s the first time I have ever been in a win-win situation 😛 Wales did in fact lose that night. But the braai was good, and so was the company, so I had no real reason to complain.

But braaing, and rugby, and my blood are not what this post is about. This is about a visit I received from my father, accompanied by my Welsh cousin, and some things about SA that my cousin inadvertently brought to my attention to teach you something about my country.

My cousin, Dai, was the first member of my Welsh family that I had the pleasure of meeting. He’s a strange little man, with a great sense of humor, but he curses regularly, so I will omit that from this post.
I was most excited when I heard my dad was coming for a visit, and bringing along someone from his rather large extended family. (My dad has three brothers and three sisters.) So excited that I cooked a roast for their arrival. I’d like to say I have great culinary skills, confirmed by my cousin as he commented on the roast potatoes being ‘the best he’s ever had’. Unfortunately, as it turns out, my dad confirmed that our potatoes are in fact quite different to the ones they grow in the UK, and so it had nothing to do with my cooking. At this point in the conversation, I learned something new, because I didn’t know you got different types of potatoes. You’re never too old to learn, I guess.

The evening was spent discussing how things had changed since the last time my dad had been for a visit. Of course, the increase in crime had to be addressed – I needed to make my dad aware of certain factors that were now very different, so that he could take the necessary precautions when out and about with my cousin, if I wasn’t with them. Of course my dad can be a bit stubborn, and insisted he’d be fine.
Dai seemed to be taking special note, and had already commented (and been enlightened) about all the security bars and gates on the windows and doors. (Also in my previous post, along with the fact that we don’t have air-conditioning.)
Now is the time to mention that my dad and Dai visited us in one of the hottest months of Summer. That night, while preparing for bed, I went in to the spare room to check that Dai had everything he needed. I found him closing all the windows. To my amusement, when I told him he needed them open for the air to circulate in the heat, he replied, “And let someone stick their hand in and slit my throat. Not a chance. I’d rather overheat.”
Now while that may have been a very slim possibility because crime is bad, it definitely was not high in probability. But since I couldn’t convince him of this, and we had obviously scared him with what to us was ‘normal’, I left him to sleep in his hot box – but did give him a free standing fan for the night.

The next morning, as I struggled to wake up (it was, after all, 06:00) and was making myself a second cup of coffee, Dai came rushing out of his bedroom, muttering a string of expletives. When he saw me standing there, he apologized, and then asked, “But what is that?” At first, I wasn’t really sure what he was talking about. And then I heard it. I laughed out loud, at his expense of course, and received a well-deserved glare in return. When I could catch my breath, I took him over to the window and showed him. It was a bird, called a hadeda ibis – although we just call it a ‘har-di-dah’. And it’s possibly the most annoying bird ever – which says a lot coming from me, because I love birds and the different melodies they have. But this bird has no melody. It’s loud, and annoying. It’s a screeching “haa-haa-haa-de-dah” call, and we often joke that they’re afraid of heights, because they make the most noise when they’re up high, or flying. Their favorite time to ‘cry out’ is early in the morning, and it can be rather frightening on your first morning in this country, because you’ll be convinced someone is being murdered outside your window. You get used to it eventually, and so sleeping late does not pose a problem – but if you’re a visitor? Then it’s a different story! Not only is their sound alarming, but they’re rather ugly! They’re big birds, with a very long beak, and are mostly grey and black in color.
If you go here and listen to sound 1 and sound 2, you’ll get an idea of it’s screech. It’s great preparation for a planned trip, but the real thing is still much more frightening 😉

On a trip to town later that day, there were a few other things that fascinated Dai. I needed to stop for petrol for my car (same thing as gas, but when we use the word gas, it is never in reference to our cars, but rather to our stomachs). As I sat waiting patiently at the petrol pump, Dai looked a bit confused. He asked me, “Are you wanting me to fill your car?” I was the one who was then confused. A chuckle from my father, and a quick explanation made everything all right, and Dai spent the rest of the time at the petrol station in open mouthed awe. In South Africa, you don’t put in your own petrol (or pump your own gas). There are men (and the occasional woman) employed by the petrol station to assist you. You have to wait patiently for one of them to be available and approach you. You then pop your petrol cap and tell them how much you want them to put in, in currency, and off they go. When they’re finished at the pump, the petrol attendant will usually also offer, “Oil and water? Tyres?” I guess in some ways we’re spoiled – but it’s job creation, and I’d hate to think how our already rather shocking unemployment rate would rise if they were all suddenly put out of work!

Our economy leaves a lot to be desired. But it goes without saying that this is a huge advantage to overseas visitors. Everything seems cheap here, when you’re bringing in dollars and pounds and doing direct conversions. For us, it’s all expensive. But I’ll go into that another time, because it needs another post all of its own.
Needless to say, Dai was continuously surprised as we made our way from store to store, and was amazed when we got home to find how much he had bought ‘for so little’. This is also about the time where he took up chain smoking, and I don’t think we’ve braaied so much expensive meat in one sitting ever before, or since.

Dai became very interested in the vast amounts of bead work being sold on the side of the road by street vendors. This opened the door to explanations about the different types of African culture, and their beliefs. Bead work is one of the most important symbols in African culture. Beads are made from a variety of things, and their placement in a string is of great importance. Africans can tell if their fellow African recently lost a loved one, or are of wealthy importance, which tribe they are from etc. by the beads that are worn. Of course, I also had to tell him about the ‘witch doctors’ scattered all over our country. A witch doctor (traditional healer known for witchcraft) is a huge thing in African religion among the black people, and very real – except that around here they are known as ‘Sangoma’s’. They create lotions and potions and powders, (from things I don’t even want to begin to discuss) and can ‘cure any ailment, including love sickness’.
That night before dinner, I spotted a bottle of baby powder, and got a brilliant idea. I placed some in a piece of paper, and then folded it up carefully. At dinner time, I put it next to Dai’s place setting, and then called everyone to come and eat. Dai noticed it, and asked what it was. I told him,
“It’s a powder for you to drink.” Of course, I wouldn’t have let him actually put it in his mouth. He looked confused and asked why. I smiled mischievously and replied,
“In town today, an African lady noticed you. She asked me to give you this powder tonight, and by tomorrow you will be madly in love with her.”
The look on his face was priceless, and he flung the paper on the floor, jumped up, and looked like he might take flight at any moment. We all burst into fits of laughter, and even my dad had to wipe the tears from his eyes.
My cousin Dai now calls me ‘Miss Love Potion’. 😉

I am sure there were a few more things that happened, but I can’t recall them now. I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane though, and hope you did too. And maybe you learnt something new?