Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Happy One and All.

We haven't gotten the snow we had hoped for, but we do have Our Girl and my McG Folks with us for Christmas - which, as far as I am concerned, is way better than snow!

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and a 2014 that is filled with realised dreams, renewed vision, passion for the day-to-day, all with a good dose of fun and laughter tossed in!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)

Friday, December 6, 2013

You and those shirts...

We woke this morning to the news that Madiba had finally found real freedom. We all knew it was coming, and I suspect many of us had quietly said goodbye in our hearts a long time ago - but it didn't quite cushion the grief I felt on hearing it 'for real.'

I got dressed and wore my SA flag around my waist, as I am in the habit of doing with my scarves, and tied a black tie around my arm.  I couldn't help swallowing hard and trying not to cry on the bus - everyone was just going about their normal daily routine as though nothing had changed in the world.

It was horrible. I just wanted to be home, in my country with my people - where we could look at each other and know we were all feeling the same sense of loss.

Standing alone at the bus stop, in the hectic morning traffic, I prayed "God please, just one person, one South African, just send me one."

I heard a hoot, and a black car whisked by me, I couldn't see who was in it, but looking between the seats through the back window, I could see their arm raised in a fist, in the Amandla salute - and I frantically waved back.

I can't tell you if I cried then because Madiba had left the building or because God so graciously answered my prayer before it left my heart.

I suspect it was a bit of both.

I will always remember you like this... filled with passion for life and people, for dancing and for shirts that only YOU could get away with.

 And, of course this one!

There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. So, thank you for your unselfish life of courage, for not backing down even when the going got tough, and for demonstrating how to forgive and live graciously.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting what you ask for, or not.

We've been here four months now. I was thinking about what I prayed for on waiting to come out here. I had asked only a few things that I felt were absolutely necessary if we (or I) was going to be settled.

Because my #1 concern was thinking I needed people around me and perhaps being lonely I prayed:
  • for a home that was in a big town within walking distance of shops and a gym.
  • for neighbours surrounding me so that I could have "over-the-wall" conversations.
  • for a spiritual home - but different. I didn't know HOW I wanted it to be different. But different.
God in his infinite wisdom chose to give me none of the above.
  • There is not a shop AT ALL in our village, never mind a gym. I need to take a bus to get to either.
  • I have neighbours on either side of me that in the 4 months we have been here, we have laid our eyes on once. I have no neighbours in front or behind me. In fact, I have forest.
  • Church in its "normal format" - nothing fresh or new. (Same procedure as every year, James)

I wonder how much more isolated and far away from my requests I could have gotten.  Yet, the strangest thing has happened. I am not lonely. Not even a little bit.

I love looking out at the trees and the sky -every day the scenery appears different. I go for runs or walks with the dogs through forest trails and stumble across caves, rivers with quaint bridges and castle ruins.  One day the forest is green, then the leaves are orange and red, and soon the trees are merely ghostly shadows.

On the bus, I have begun to recognise people and we greet and attempt to make conversation, and have even met up socially. God can bring people together on a bus as much as over a wall.

I feel like I am getting to know a part of myself I didn't know I was. I may never have known that I can live in such a minute community.My desire to be around people has little to do with need and more to do with want. I just enjoy company!

We have found a spiritual home, (not nearly as epic as our Cpt spiritual home). However, yesterday I went to the first of their "Bible Studies"... I have found that perhaps the Sunday meetings are the same format as I am used to, but the group is filled with women from various countries and I found that THIS IS FRESH. Each one of us, although sharing the same faith, appear to walk it out and express it in so many different ways based on our culture. It's exactly what I love. Variety. Conversation.

I feel as though I have the best of both worlds. I have the lovely quiet of our home and surroundings and the beginnings of added friendships..

Sometimes God doesn't give us what we ask for because he knows exactly what we need.

* * * * 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blah Blah Snow

By now family and friends are probably already scrolling past all my excited rambling about snow.  I wouldn't blame them, but it's so hard not to take photo's and clips. Even the bus this morning was alive with chatter! Yes, even us! :)

I am certain that people who live in parts of the world where snow is common, will roll their eyes and think thoughts like "The novelty will wear off, just wait until....blah, blah" - but I put my hands over my ears and I do not hear your voice.   I will fight losing the excitement when the inevitable slushy aftermath appears. 

Standing in the middle of the city this morning waiting for the bus, surrounded by old buildings with snowy roofs, trees shimmering and snowflakes settling on my hat, I felt as though I was in a snow globe.  It's completely magical.

Driving home through the forest I felt my eyes involuntarily tear up just because it was so purely beautiful.

Even now, looking out of my lounge window, the hounds are lying on the balcony, covered in the still falling snow flakes.

The gray & white world outside is not a true reflection of the mood today. 
It's a rainbow mood day!

* * * * * * 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Men and The Burgers

Neither My Man nor I are fans of MacDonalds, however on seeing an ad for their new McBaguette My Man decided that it looked just way too good not to try.

So, to surprise him on Friday evening, I went into the city early to buy him one for supper. As I was walking in I noticed a young guy, probably in his early 20's sitting with his back against the wall, his dog with him, and a cup in front of him. My heart went out to him as it was getting a little cool.

I went in and ordered the McBaguette and then ordered a Big Mac for the youngster outside.  Leaving, I went out and there he was, with the lead in his hand, chatting to a guy who was now standing with him, I don't know how to say "Here you are, enjoy" so I just thrust my hand out and smiled. He looked at me and at the burger, smiled and said "Merci!"

I walked away and suddenly it dawned on me that MAYBE he wasn't even a street beggar?!  I didn't look in the cup to see if it was money or coffee and EVERYONE (and their dog)... has a dog with them in the city and when I was leaving he was just standing chatting to this other guy, he could just have been sitting there and waiting for him!

I suddenly felt so embarrassed, but what could I do, I couldn't run back and ask, or explain - I just had to believe, hungry or not, that he really needed that burger!

..... and that  it was better than the McBaguette which turned out to be totally forgettable.

* * * 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Removal of Rose Tinted Specs

We have been here just over 3 months and a recent conversation has made me realise just how idealistic I was before coming here - even up to last month.

We were so determined not to be the "expats" who joined the "South African Expat Group" on Facebook, (we still won't), so determined not to just connect with English speaking people, that which would be familiar and comfortable. Our hearts were so much to make friends with the locals of this country and find our way into their traditions and culture.  (Yet, when I hear an SA accent my heart leaps with excitement - it's who we are and always will be!)

However, we recently had a conversation with a local friend of ours and he listened to me sympathetically and I have not been able to get his response out of my mind. He basically chastised me in the nicest possible way by saying that this country is filled largely with people from other countries, there are tons of Brits, Americans, French, Irish, Portuguese, German, South Africans and Flemish - and he asked me "What makes a person a local?"  To me that felt like an odd question - you are local if you are from that place. However, as he pointed out, all these foreigners have been here for years, some are even the children of previous generations that moved here - surely that now makes them locals?  I couldn't disagree.

The point of his conversation with me was really to not be so narrow about WHO or HOW we decide to fit in here, but more to just accept that there are lots of people here who are far from 'home', and just because they speak English, doesn't make them "not a local".

I realise that this sounds all horribly fuzzy - but now we have to rethink this. I kind of feel as though we live in a country that is like a stew: It's made up of interesting and flavoursome people, all sourced from different places with cultures and traditions stirred together to make something warm and tasty. 

Maybe it will change a little of how I am experiencing people here, seeing it this way. It may not. All I know is that the word "locals" has taken on a new look that I hope will start to feel more familiar.

I know too that there is a bigger plan for us being here, it's a gift that came by way of employment - but I know there is more to it. 

Each day is an adventure that we are embracing - but I am so looking forward to it all!  We love it here!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Just me & my umbrella

Usually when I go and meet My Man in the city after work, I wait at our designated meeting place. 

Sometimes I go earlier to do the shopping then it's all done by the time he arrives.  I have always done the shopping and then made my way straight to where we meet, and wait.

Today, it was wet. It was cold and it was windy.  I had to do some shopping which I did, and then, as I came out I looked up at the almost dark sky (it was 17h00), at the rain pelting down, and thought it looked all rather dramatic.  The pedestrian walkways were bobbing with umbrellas, and it suddenly felt rather surreal.

Knowing I still had at least 20 min before he arrived, I opened my umbrella and decided to embrace the weather, and for 20 minutes I strolled around the cobbled streets in the rain and the twilight, and for the first time I really felt as though I could do winter.

It was really quite a lovely 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A little bit of French goes a long way

A few weeks ago we popped into a shop here to buy some appliances. As we paid, we asked the lady at the counter where we go to collect the stuff. She rattled off something long and fast in French and we both stood there, staring at her blankly. Noticing that there were people in the queue behind us, we said "Pardon" and she repeated it slowly in French again.

At some point in that reply I picked up one word and said to My Man "We fetch it from behind the shop."

He looked at me stunned and said "How do you know?".  I smacked him on the bottom and said..."You have a nice derriere". 

Needless to say the couple behind us thought it was funny. That was the only word I picked up - but who said knowing how to say "Nice behind" in French wouldn't help one day.

* * * 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Bah Humbug Post

*Warning: A little rant ahead....

Perhaps it is like this everywhere, but since I have never gone in and out of the city on public transport, or walked around a city as often as I have here, I wouldn't know. Another thing has really struck me. Most people, and not only the younger generation, grip their cell phones and have their headphones in as though they relied on them as a personal life-giving charger.

When I see them on the bus, plugged in and hooked up, and on FB or watching a movie on their phone, I want to gently shake them and say, "Please, at the least, greet the person you're dumping yourself down next to, and wow, what if you actually tried to have a conversation with them?"

When I see friends walking down the road next to each other, phone in hand and earplugged in - I want to shout at them - TALK TO EACH OTHER!

Bah humbug - social media may be succeeding in making us anti-social in real life situations.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"My South Africa...."

This was shared on Facebook today, I loved it.

Being away and hearing foreign news reports about home - it's easy to see why the world has such a distorted view and why people are wary.

But this is my home - and will always be my home and I share these sentiments and I wish more people knew the real heart of the people there who care deeply for their country and the welfare of all cultures who live there.

'My South Africa' by Prof Jonathan Jansen.
“My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker’s children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.
My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them – with the permission of the givers – to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer’s wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.
My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentelman’s game. It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighters outside his home.
My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery. It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the ‘Prime Evil’ in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.
My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school everyday, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.
My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kenilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.
My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country whose deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o’-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.”

* * * * 
Yes, our people are warm-hearted, colourful, generous, compassionate and open-handed. 
I am proud to be South African.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Instant Recognition Factor

If one had to stick the outline of say, Australia, or the UK, onto a shirt, they would look like you spilled gravy on your clothing and tried to wipe it clean - probably...

But stick the outline of Africa onto a shirt and it's instantly recognisable. 

I have a story to back this up.  These are both mine and worn often. 
In this account I was wearing the one on the right with the colourful stripes.

Just the other day I was walking through the city wearing this shirt, and a black guy with a beautiful face, big smile and bright eyes was standing outside a restaurant handing out flyers to passers-by for the eating place.

As I approached him, he called out,  "Hey Africa!"  I smiled, waved and walked towards him.

Our conversation went like this:

Me:   "Hey, yes - Africa!  Best place ever!  Where are you from?"
Him:  "I'm from Ghana!"
Me:   "Oh! I loved your soccer team in the 2010 World Cup! When we were out, I supported Ghana!"
Him:  "Where are you from?"
Me:   "South Africa"
Him:  "Ahhhhhhh --- Bafana Bafana!"

We both laughed together, and I said ---- "Yes! Sometimes very good, sometimes very bad!"
He agreed.

I took the pamphlet, we said good bye and wished each other a good day.

It was just a precious minute or two in a day that left me smiling, feeling all warm and fuzzy.

* * * 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The "British Ladies Club"

I read Heathcote Safari's blogpost this morning and she pretty much stole my thunder  ;-)
A snippet is this, but read her whole thing - it's a great read.
"When we moved here, we could have decide d to do things ‘the ex-pat way’. It’s not necessarily completely straightforward, but it does make life easier … you send your kids to an English-speaking school, you go to an international church, you buy your food in Lidl and Aldi and when you want to go out, you go to hotels or restaurants where you know they speak English. Hey, I’m not knocking it; there’s something to be said for making yourself understood.
It’s just not what we want. The focus of our ministry here may not be local, but our lives surely are. Clearly, we’re never going to pass for Spaniards but we still want to be able to talk to our neighbours, to understand why things work the way they do, to shop and eat local food."
(Obviously nationalities are different to ours, but the heart intention is the same)

The 5c worth that I would like to add for me, is this. A few of the English speaking people I have met here have said to me that I must join the "British Ladies Club" as it will be a good way for me to make friends.

I know that these people have only good intentions for wanting me to fit in and be involved, and I am grateful for their enthusiasm. At the same time, anyone that knows me will know that any of those three words would be enough to make me break out in a rash - and the three together would have me running screaming into the hills.
  • British - I have nothing against Brits. Except their cricket team.... ;-)  So it's not the nationality.
  • Ladies - Never ever do "Ladies" things, ladies breakfasts, Ladies Meetings, Ladies Bible Study.... Ladies Gym even - big no, no for me. I don't know why, I just feel a bit like a man there!   :-)
  • Club - Usually, but not always, too exclusive. Look at each one on its own merit, but when combined with "Ladies" --- no.

If we were to join any group of people, which we would actually like to do, they must be local people or families, so that we can feel that we are doing everything we can to embrace our new home.

It's not always easy. Especially when you are always surrounded by conversations, at bus stops, in buses, in shopping queues, restaurants....everywhere, and you realise you don't have a flippin' clue what they are saying. Whereas back in SA, I would happily initiate conversations with perfect strangers in any of those places.  

So there are language challenges, but in a way they are good because it keeps the desire to learn the language, fresh.  So far I can pretty much:
  1. greet and thank
  2. ask for bags at the supermarket
  3. get tickets for the bus
  4. ask for a burger with cheese 
  5. and (drumroll) ask for red and white wine!  HAHA!  (and beer when it's really hot!)
We are just waiting to hear which language school comes recommended from My Mans employer and then we will begin evening school together.

* Disclaimer: 
This post is in no way meant to knock The British Ladies Club or those who are part of it. Each to their own! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Picking up the Signals

A couple of things we've noticed between last week and today:
  • There were lots more people on the bus to work this morning, (and wearing coats),
  • The heaters were on in the bus,
  • From the morning bus ride, I noticed that some of the trees had lost all their leaves over the weekend,
  • The forest around us is not the overwhelming green anymore, but rather beginning to look a little more golden in patches,
  • The leaves in our garden are beginning to turn  from the greens to red and orange.

I don't think we are anywhere near the winter that I am half excited / half terrified about, but today I definitely felt the signalling in of autumn, and am definitely looking forward to the colours that will emerge in this most beautiful season!

Friday, August 30, 2013

City Slicker

Yesterday afternoon I headed off into the city where I met a friend.  I thought it was a grand occasion, and decided to landmark it with the ultimate in "grand occasion wear" - heels.

Those of you who live in heels, your eyes probably just lit up a little. I'm right, hey? You didn't think you would see the day, did you!?

My heels were awesome walking to the square, and they behaved so well while we sat outside at a little cafe drinking our cupaccino's, eating our lovely pastries and chatting away.  They only started to become a little hot and bothered when I insisted that they had to do some walking. I could swear I heard them whisper to me "These shoes weren't made for walking...."

I sucked it up - I'm a big girl! It was way too much fun being out and about to allow a silly pair of heels to ruin it. We popped in to toy shops to look for puzzles, and a gorgeous hat shop (that I will be going back to) and did plenty of looking in windows.

At around 16h00, as we said our farewells, I popped into the supermarket for a nice bottle of white and a steak for My Man (and other less interesting things) for when he got home this evening. Then began the long walk (its not really long but seemed long), to the bus stop. With horror I noticed I had 40 min to wait for the bus. Looking up, I saw another bus arrive that goes past my home as well, but it didn't stop were I was waiting - so, me, heels, parcels and handbags all flew down the road after the bus looking very unladylike I am sure - I didn't care, I just was NOT waiting 40 minutes!

It was a lovely ride back home - until for an instant I forgot this wasn't my regular bus and pushed the STOP button! HORRORS!  A stop BEFORE my stop. Feeling hugely embarrassed, I felt I had no option BUT to get off the bus since I was the only one getting off there (and people saw me press the blasted thing). SO I tried to look like "Oh yes! This is my stop, yay"... inside I was thinking "Bugger!"

Oh well, me, my heels, parcel and, by this point, my blisters and I were beginning to see the funny side. I would now have to walk probably about a kilometre down and then up the hill to my house.  Of course, the story would not be complete, if there were not loads of workmen doing roadworks alllll the way up my street and it was very difficult not to (a) crawl up the hill (b) cry up the hill, (c) walk like a newborn calf!  So, I smiled and waved and tried to walk normally. I am not sure I succeeded.

So ladies (and gents) who wear heels... you can smile - and keep your heels.

In spite of them - it was a fantastic day and I would do it again - and in heels if I had to!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Long Week

My Man had to go away on business this week.

I have been mentally preparing for this for almost a month since we are seldom apart and have never been apart this long.

I find myself in bed at the sad time of 18h00 today having decided that I don't feel like food and was just going to turn in early.

While browsing I found this and it just sums how I feel today....
Tomorrow is a NEW Day and am heading into the city to have lunch with a friend and do some shopping.
I plan to buy lots of his favourite food.

This has to have been the longest week ever and it's only Wednesday!

* * *

*  I am absolutely perfectly fine, I am not withering away - I am painting the walls ferociously and achieving very little. However, I hear the soccer game is starting, so may haul my lazy butt out of bed for a watch and a little glass of wine.  

(Think I have a packet of sweets stashed somewhere too!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Twinkie & the Beast"

Twinkie is the name of our SatNav lady person.....
                             The Beast is the black car lurking in our garage.

The don't prowl the empty streets at night.

The Beast is My Mans company car - it's a beautiful Beast for sure, it's only downfall (for us) is that it has gears. Yip, we are "Proudly Automatic" drivers, which clearly is not working in our favour right now since we were presented with 2 main problems:

(a)  How to get the car home from the city
(b) Most importantly, how to drive the Beast

My Man and a colleague concocted the plan that would solve (a). The colleague has an automatic car. My Man drove the auto behind his colleague who drove the manual car to our home.  This was not only helpful in that My Man didn't have to try and risk life and limb (his and others') trying to drive his car home, but he also got to see HOW to get home by following his colleague.

So, now the Beast is in the garage. Saturday morning we decided we needed to do shopping so we would "risk" (literally) popping into the next little village with the car.  Although we stalled twice in traffic circles that was nothing compared to the amount of navigating we had to DO to GET to the next little village. Between, yields, hills, parking and circles, we were both feeling like a piece of chewed string by the time we got home, and swore that we wouldn't do that again until we (he) felt more confident.  Frankly, I thought My Man was a Super Hero!

I have to give credit to him, he never once made me feel nervous (other than me thinking we were about to drive on the pavement, which had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me), and yet when we got home, I thought it very wise of him to "man-up" and say... "Practice would be good - that was not fun.

We were meant to go and braai with people the next evening, but I just put my pride in my pocket, phoned them and basically told them that there is NO WAY we can drive 40 minutes through the city to come to them. It's got nothing to do with wrong side of road or not knowing the way - but EVERYTHING to do with "how do I drive this car while trying to find my way".  I have to trust that they understand and will not think we are ridiculous children - frankly, if they don't understand....  that's sad.  Enough stress is enough for one weekend.

My Mans company had offered him 5 Lessons to help him get accustomed to the car, the roads and the road signage, so next week Twinkie and Beast will go for Training. 

In the end they will know....My Man IS the boss of them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Time to "Just Do It" (Anything!)

Today is My Man's third day at work.

So far all reports from him have come back and been so positive. He has enjoyed meeting his new colleagues and has been impressed by where he is working.

We travel in by bus together in the morning, in total it takes about 35 minutes (change to connecting bus in the city) to get to his office.  Then I come back home, try to keep myself occupied until the afternoon, when I take the bus back into the city and we meet at "our connecting" stop and travel home together.

We've actually really enjoyed this. It gives us time together in the morning and in the afternoon we chatter away together about his day and his new experiences without having to concentrate on traffic and driving. I think we may be the only people who talk in the bus! (OH! Such a cool thing I saw with the bus yesterday - there was a guy in a wheelchair, and the bus door opens about a foot off the ground, I was thinking that I would ask if I could help wheel him in, when "My Man" pointed out that the whole bus drops down to the height of the pavement and he just rolled himself in. Maybe that happens everywhere, but I just thought it was super cool and thoughtful!)

Anyway, getting back to morning routine....It's really new for me, because in all of our 25 years of marriage, the most he has seen of me before work is me standing at the window and waving goodbye! I'm not joking. His mom used to get up and make breakfast for them until they left home, and bring them tea in bed. From the outset I said to him "Do not expect that from me" - and he didn't! He is an early bird, he has no problem waking up and getting up in the same instant - I need about an hour to twig that it's morning and about 3 cups of coffee before I can string my first cohesive sentence together - so I think he realised it would be pointless.

However, all of that being said - the days are long with him at work... and quiet. Yesterday I did a whole pile of washing and hung them over my balcony. It was a lovely sunny day so I sat out there and admired my view, (which would have been more spectacular had I not had underwear pegged up in front of me).

Last night I begged him not to do the dishes, he asked why, and I told him I needed something to do today. He just laughed - but he left them.

This morning when I got home from going with him to work, he had made the bed (I usually do do that!), and I sms'd him and (playfully!) gave him "what for" because now I had one less thing to do!

He thinks its all quite comical - but the truth is, I am serious. Who would have thought I would want to come home to do the dishes! 


I have downloaded "Beautiful Outlaw" so have planned to go in to work with "My Man", take my Kindle, and every other morning find myself a little coffee shop with wifi, read my book, have a cup of coffee, come home much later, and deal with the day from then.  

I may even venture to a new town for a walk with one hound at a time... Except, I would rather be on an adventure of discovery with "My Man" than alone - so scrap that idea.

Anyway - typing this Blog took all of 10 minutes! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Locals Impressions

I want to start by saying that I am so Proudly South African, and that we must never stop being the friendly, warm, wild and welcoming people that we are. 

I was chatting to a young girl at the bus stop last week, she was raised here, and as we were talking about what she wants to do now, she began telling me how she wanted to go and study in Germany. She said that this country is too quiet, too conservative and too closed minded - she wanted to get out. When she heard where we were from, her jaw dropped and she could not believe that we would leave there, no matter for how long, to come here. She literally was speechless and it is one of her "bucket-list things" to visit our home city. It was strange to hear a local say that they struggle to make conversation with other locals because everyone is so reserved - this in contrast, she says, to Germans who will be welcoming and easily strike up a conversation.

We went into a shop to buy pre-paid sim and a young girl came and tried to promote a product with us in French. We told her that we had just arrived and only spoke English. She was very helpful anyway, and as we were talking, My Man asked about English channels on TV, to which her reply was "if you live here, you learn to speak the language". Of course she is right, and I said to her that we will, but give us a chance! I don't think she understood that part - but the sting was there in her comment.

Interestingly she didn't speak the local language either!

In another chat with a local guy, our age, he also said that this nation is quiet and reserved. He made no apologies for it, and why should he have to, it is their culture. We must be such a rude shock to this neighbourhood, where they are conservative and softly spoken - we are loud and gesture wildly. 

Everything is quiet. I swear even the cars and buses are quiet! 
Maybe God is trying to get me to be quiet?

I can't say I am not enjoying it though - I really am.

Enjoying our wine and the backs of lots of people watching some performance in the Square.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Not big on "Goodbyes"

Had to stick My "Little" Girl on a plane today and send her home.

Her "holiday" time with us here has come to an end. I know that she was ready to go home, she is missing her BF and her friends, and her life. Knowing that she was ready to go home made it easier to say Goodbye. I must confess that I thought I kept it together pretty well at the airport, but when I could no longer see her I couldn't help having a little cry, and another little cry when we saw her bus taxi-ing to the plane, and another little cry when her plane took off...

... and another little cry as I am writing this.

We waited at the airport until she took off and I wouldn't leave until I could no longer see the plane.  After that we promptly found a bus back to the city, did some early morning shopping, and came home. The dogs were happy that we were back. I think the suitcases and strange activity yesterday freaked them out a little.

Now, I just have to keep busy until I know that she has arrived, is safely with her friends at home, and I know there will be lots of noise and hijinx.

I am going to miss her but am so thankful for the time we did have here before she left.  I wish we could have given her more of a "holiday" - so much of her time with us was admin-ish, and we were able to do very little in terms of spoiling her (or us) at the moment, but anyway, it's nice to know that if we talk about places / sights / house etc, she knows exactly what we are talking about now.

Anyway - we are off to find something to keep ourselves occupied with for a few hours.

This has been a tough morning.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How not to introduce yourself to the neighbourhood...

Last night we had friends over for supper. (I was so chuffed because I managed to find not one, but two bottles of Mrs Balls chutney, which my dinner REALLY needed.)  

The weather was gorgeous and we moved our couch onto the balcony with our two newly acquired "very basic" chairs and there we sat until well after midnight.  If you had ANY idea how quiet this area is, you would understand that even our talking would have reached the periphery of the valley, never mind the laughing and joking. I am sure that the neighbours were not thoroughly impressed with the late-night noise.  (That is if anyone actually lives here?!)

Then this afternoon we headed back from the city after a few hours of walking around, a glass of wine, and watching some of the Summer in the City festivities. Walking up the hill I mentioned that there were now two dogs in a garden that we usually walk past that usually had just one. At which point My Girl pointed out that they were OUR dogs!  

My Man promptly climbed over their fence, and proceeded to pass first Tigger to me, then Jack, and we marched them up the hill toward home. On the up side to that, at least we now KNOW that people do LIVE here. A young man popped out of a house, he was really pleasant and told us that the dogs were actually in the road. It's a miracle that they survived since we live on a very busy main road. How they even got into the garden we found them in, is miraculous. A lady walking down the road said that she had kept an eye on them and given them water. She was really kind and concerned.

I guess that's one way to meet someone.  Not the best introduction to our new neighbourhood - but hey, I think even God was desperate for us to meet someone!

Now, the fence is fixed where they managed to escape from, we have a cup of tea and are half-watching the first soccer match of the season from our balcony.

* * * 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Settling In

We have been here 8 days. It feels longer because of everything we have achieved in that time. We have not had time to act like a tourist other than a very brief 3-hours on Day 2.

So far we have:

  • Registered in our village as residents
  • Received our temporary papers (which means I can work now too)
  • Moved into our home
  • Put up a fence
  • Found the correct bus routes from home to the city
  • Opened a bank account
  • Applied for internet at home
  • Got a Cell phone no.
  • Have a Mobile Wifi for home (until internet is installed)
  • Welcomed our dogs (last night)

The language thing is still fun. Some days I understand a bit of what is being said, and others ... not so much and we have great fun playing charades!

Shopping is another adventure.  For all I know I am washing my hair with dog shampoo...  (Don't say what you are thinking!!!)    There are vegetables I have never seen before.

We were laughing about this last night, saying it was like being newly married. We have to build up our food cupboard - things like spices, tomato sauce, mayo etc, you kind of take for granted that you will always have them... try suddenly cooking something that you have bought all the ingredients for, to suddenly realise that you don't have SALT!  Yip, we lived with no salt for about 5 days.

Until we get the car, we have to take a bus to the nearest shop.... you can't just walk there. Even though its not far, about 1km, its through a part of a narrow winding forest road with no pavements - so its impossible to walk there.  The result is that if you forget to buy something, you go without until your next trip, you can't just pop back to the shop.

We have also met stinging nettles. Well, My Girl met them first, and a day or two later, while busy with the fence, My Man had an epic encounter. Apparently not much fun at all - so I have decided to avoid them at all costs. 

Our furniture has not even started the journey here yet - disappointing, but there is nothing we can do about that. We have bought 2 beds, a couch and a cupboard and that is pretty much what we have in this rambling house at the moment.  It echoes like crazy and all of our voices seem to be magnified hugely!  

The agent that I was corresponding with, and his wife and son, have been amazing and helped us with so many things and I think, (I hope) are becoming friends. They popped over on our 2nd night in the house, bringing with them meat, a braai, champagne, cutlery, plates, and great senses of humour, and we sat on the balcony, braaiing and chatting till almost midnight.  He is a local and she is from Cpt - it was such a lovely evening and good to be able to have company so soon in the move.

The next step is to paint. The house is not in great nick inside with lots of holes in the walls and grubby patches everywhere.  So I figure that the best thing to do while waiting for furniture is to paint the most used areas and get it ready for when our stuff does come.  So that is on my agenda for when My Girl goes home.

There is SO much going on, I wish I had blogged more beforehand, because I feel as though I am leaving tons of stuff out.... but so far, it's been pretty amazing and I am so thankful for the opportunity for us to live this adventure!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's a Dogs Life

How much smoother this move would be if we didn't have dogs...

How much smoother it would be if we didn't feel that we really WANT our dogs there.

You would never have heard that last sentence come out of my mouth 5 years ago. If anyone had suggested spending the amount of money it's costing to get the dogs there, I would have laughed at them and told them they were daft. They are providing us with HUGE challenges since it seems that no-one there wants people to have pets in a rented house, and if they say "Pets Allowed" - suddenly it's only a "mini-pet"....

Truth is, our dogs are "home" for me now, and while we are away, and My Girl is not home, and My Man is at work, they are my company often - I can't imagine them not being there. I love them. They have their own characters and quirks, and they are our "kids".

We have pretty much run out of options for houses to rent there. We basically have ONE house left as an option. It's been there a while, and we have avoided it because frankly, it's been there so long - I am wondering what is wrong with it!

We have an agent there who has been - honestly - an angel. He is going to look at it for us this afternoon. I don't know what we would have done without him.  Funny story, we started speaking to him there in February about property, and it turns out he is married to a Capetonian lady, and we got together when they were here on holiday and had supper together... How amazing is that? Such cool people!

Annnyywaaayyyyy.....Too late to make a long story short - I know He knows what we need as a family, so I need to breathe and clean cupboards.

"It will all be alright in the end, and if it's not alright, it's not the end!"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hitting Home Time

I've known at arm's length for ages that it was coming, but last night it hit me. Hard.

I suddenly realised that in exactly one month's time we will no longer be in our house, in our city, in our country or even on our continent.

It was as though a fog descended on my thoughts. "What the heck are we doing! I am terrified. Is this a mistake?"

I don't know if I am the only person that this happens to, but the middle of the night is not the time to start thinking like this. The enemy seems to love to take a small thought like that and drag up every mistake you've ever made and replay them to you. This makes the night long and miserable.

Eventually I just had to sit up a bit, open my eyes, give myself a good talking to and remind myself of precisely how present God has been in this whole event and that even the Main Manne in Scripture who were asked to move must have felt scared at some level, whether physically or emotionally - the fact that they were scared didn't mean that God didn't lead them, nor did it mean they didn't trust him, and nor did it mean that what they were doing, was a mistake.

As a friend said to me the other day "Fortune favours the brave" - I need to be brave this month.

I think being a little scared is probably human, and if I wasn't a little scared..... maybe that would be more worrying.

As scared as I am, I am completely at peace that this is not a mistake but a gift - a gift from One that knows how often we have dreamed of doing this and who is kind enough to help us do it.

Yes. Scary.
But good.

Cool Runnings....Peace be the Journey.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Funny Mom Memory

I was driving with my mom along the highway this afternoon and the raining was pouring down.  I had this flashback to when I was probably about 9 and we were driving along the same highway, my mom and the then 3 kids, and it was also pouring with rain but her windscreen wipers decided to pack up en route.

I reminded her of this while driving this afternoon and commented that I remembered how scary that was and that she had reassured us that she could see fine and that we were not to worry.  

After telling her the story today, she laughed and said she vaguely remembers and she was pretty scared herself.


In 2005, My Man, My Girl and I went to Europe for the first time and My Girl was about 11. Due to a bit of a planning glitch we ended up in Alicante later than we expected and couldn't get to Calpe by train as planned. We had to find a taxi driver to take us. He spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish. After vigorously pointing at maps we got into the taxi and off we went. Driving on the wrong side of the road (to us), at a million miles an hour (it seemed), during some festival, my daughter sitting next to me asked anxiously "Are we going to the right place? Does he know where to go?" I reassured her that he lived there and knew exactly where we needed to go and that everything would be absolutely fine.

At the same time I was busy sms'ing my mom back home "Mom, I don't have clue where we are and if this bloke even knows where to take us and he drives like a lunatic!"  Within a minute I had received an sms back from Mom saying: "It's going to be fine Lis, he knows the place. These are the stories that make great memories one day. Don't worry about it, everything is going to be fine!"

It was fine and it did make for a great memory.

PS. I have to add that My Man, as always, took everything in his stride and wasn't in the least bit concerned about anything.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Wordpress Blues

I am having a huge issue and I really need a solution.

For about two months now I am unable to comment on any Wordpress Blogs.  It's never been a problem before and now suddenly WP wants me to log into my WP account before I can leave a comment.

I think if I can't get this sorted out soon, I may need to create a "Fake" Wordpress Blog just to comment from!

Eish!! Any suggested solutions will be appreciated!

* the next day: I left a comment on our School's WP blog and it worked. Since I am the administrator of that Blog, I know that I have not installed any of the latest plugins and upgrades.... maybe this could be a problem if one has?

Journeys & Destinations

We were in McGregor over the weekend and I took this photograph at the top of the mountain overlooking all the surrounding valleys.

The journey up the mountain was beautiful and unspoiled and the destination was worth every moment of the trip in the car. However, as I looked at the sign, I thought to myself (not about life so much, but more about waiting!) ... "I really do love the journey.... but sometimes getting to the destination is really good!!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Possibly, Woe is Me?

Beware... this may come off as a "Woe is Me" post.
It probably is.

I am feeling sorry for myself. First off, we sold my car, and to put a stop to all the questions, here are the answers:
1. It was a petrol guzzler.
2. Yes, we will get another one.
3. I don't know when.
4. I don't know what make.
5. I don't know.

That, in itself doesn't make me feel sorry for myself, it's actually quite interesting realising how much one relies on their own transport, and I am thankful to family and friends for their offers to help, although, with the exception of my ride to school and home, I have not asked anyone to take me anywhere.

What I REALLY WANT to do, is haul that bicycle out of the garage and use that - because, I think this will solve the reason why I AM feeling sorry for myself.

The main reason I am feeling a bit miz, is that I had gotten so into going to gym, and it was going so well and I realised how much I enjoyed running again. I got to the place where the treadmill wasn't enough, and went back to the street.  Together with some friends and colleagues, we ran three times a week, and did a couple of races, but the BIG race that I really wanted to do was the one through the historic part of our city.

Long story short, ( a bit late for that now I think!), about 2 weeks before the race, the arch of my right foot became an issue and was really sore, affecting my knee as well. I bought new shoes, thinking that perhaps I needed something better. It didn't help, I stopped running in the hopes that it would be better by the race, but it wasn't. Then I slipped down my front step and twisted that same ankle. Not badly, I can walk on it OK, but if I turn my ankle in a specific way, its pretty sore.

I missed the race.
I was sad and just so disappointed.

I guess my frustration is just that I am not getting to run at all.

Which is why I need the bicycle.

I just need to get out there.

OK. That's all.
Sorry about the pity party.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Then.....and now.

I was going through all my CD's to see what I could ditch and came across this that I had written in 2005 in the midst of a really traumatic "Church" time....   

How have You loved me?      (John 13:34)

 What kind of love is this….
                      That has no complications
                                                            ‘ifs’ and no ‘buts’,
                                                  an unconditional love….
                                                       Its all ‘in spite of’
                                                 and not ‘because of ‘ us.

                 What kind of love is this….
                          That knows me so completely  —-
                                               When I Walk,
                                                      When I sit,

                                                                 And when I stand –
                                                 who has me in the palm of His hand.

 What kind of love is this…
                     That loves me through insecurities,
                                                             fears   and     a n x i e t i e s

                            Who sees all that I can be – so continues to bring change in me.

What kind of love is this…
That forgives every thoughtless word …
                                               Every selfish plan devised….
                                                                   Every action unrequired….
                                                                                 Every lust and flesh desire?

 What kind of love is this…..
                      That knows every hurtful word received
                                        and then each bitter thought conceived

                                And YOU challenge me – 
                                                     Just Love...     and let it go.

 I give you the hurtful words received,
                             the doubts and disappointments,
                                              the unmet expectations, anxieties and frustrations…

 and I ask You Lord –   May I love as unconditionally
                                                        And forgive without exception
                                                                   May I accept others as they are
                                                                              Understanding our imperfections.

In short Father………Help me love others as You have loved me.

* * * * 

Reading this now I am just so overwhelmed with how faithful God has been in the years since. As traumatic as it was, He used that painful time to bring me into a freedom I may never have known otherwise, so I am thankful for it.

I came across this Thomas Merton quote today...
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

Thought provoking words from a guy who had lots of wise things to say...