Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Menfolk and chillies

I just watched a friend of mine bite right through the middle of a red chilli.  It made my entire day.  It started as a simple conversation.  I had been "sent" to go and procure the chillis for the stew, and when I came back he expressed doubt at what I had bought.  So to prove that these could be "used anyway", although not exactly what he wanted, he tore open the plastic, grabbed one and bit through.  The expression on his face and horror in his eyes told me immediately that I had actually bought exactly what he asked me to. 

What followed was certainly very amusing to all of us who witnessed it.  A dishcloth to swab the mouth, liquid to swallow, eyes watering, coughing and then a bout of hiccups. 

It made me think of an evening two years ago, before my hubby became a vegetarian.  I had made a pasta dish and I decided, before dishing up his portion, to spice it up for him.  Now not really ever cooking with chillis, my quantity perception was obviously skewed.  I grabbed several red chillis and simply hacked them up, seeds and all, into not really small circles, and dumped them in.  I dished up and waited for his expression of joy and adoration and love to bubble up as he tasted my wonderful food that I had prepared.  

I was not adequately prepared for what came next. 

He put a large forkful in his mouth.  There was dead silence.  He looked up in sheer horror, his eyes the size of saucers.  He did two things simultaneously ..... dropped the plate (it shattered) and spat the food out his mouth.  He then said "&*%$ Laverne (he calls me Laverne) are you mad?"  This was not quite the accolade I was aiming for.  He dashed to the basin and started gulping down water.  I did not think this was the best time to say don't put your mouth against the kitchen tap.  He then reversed and grabbed the 2lit milk out the fridge.  He chugged the entire lot.  In between he kept looking at me with horror.  He had now moved on to some delightful spicy language, to go with the heat of the food.  Jeez, it was a little mistake.  

It was a little awkward that while I was apologising and telling him to calm down, his lips were starting to look like 189 ml of botox had just been pumped in.  

Sjoe.  Men just can't handle their chillies it seems. 

till next time
c'est la vie xxx

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Seeking that pot at the end of the rainbow for NPO's

"Great goals make you stretch.  They absolutely can take you well beyond anything you could possibly imagine!  The most important part of setting great goals is not the goals themselves, but the person you become in the stretch" - Fran Briggs 

"Chance is always powerful.  Let your hook be always cast;  in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish" - Ovid 

My career choice of the past 3 years has not been an easy one.  Fundraising.  The art of asking people for money for something you believe in passionately.  The ability to hear 100 no's for every yes you get.  The knowledge that you can work for weeks on piles of appeals and re-tell your story to a myriad of people without finding a "fish".  It is probably all at once the most interesting and diverse but most soul destroying choice of work.

Most NPO's currently find themselves in very challenging times.  The National Lottery Board is still trying to catch up and we all wait with bated breath for our appeal outcomes from our last appeal ..... more than a year ago.  Corporates find themselves covered in a deluge of needs from an ever growing number of NPO's.  In Gauteng alone we compete for money against hundreds of others in a similar boat.  Paying residential fees is becoming more and more of a challenge for many people who place their family, friends and loved ones in our care.  With almost half of the mentally disabled ladies we care for (36 out of 88), being adult orphans, we find ourselves increasingly pressed to find the funding to carry the R9 000 cost per adult each month.  

If you have a family you will be all too familiar with the cost of food, clothing, medicine, toiletries, bedding, blankets, outings etc etc ...... and everyone we care for is part of our "home" and we want them to have the same cared for feeling.  The eToll is a massive problem as our Government in their wisdom, have not given a subsidy or reduced fee for NPO's such as us. We are up and down on the freeway all day long .... doing collections of items kindly donated to our 2nd hand shop, taking residents to the doctors, dentists and the Kalafong Hospital.  The bill is mounting.  It is not a recoverable cost for us.  As a 105 year old NPO our 8.4 hectares comes with a preventative maintenance and general maintenance bill that is scary.  Many of our 8 houses that house the 88 ladies, are in need of major upgrades ..... these amount to six figures at a time.  

In between there are the great moments like today.  An invitation to attend a meeting with a major corporate.  A guy with great insight, not only into the world of CSI but also into my world. Plans are made, meetings set ...... another day in my life.  A good one.  

And there will be many more.  Because if I get a donation 1 in 10 times or 1 in 100 times ...... perseverance is what it takes.  And I am nothing if not passionate. 

Irene Homes for the Mentally Disabled

2 Albert Road  Irene South Africa
Tel 012. 6671035
Mobile +27 790362262
Fax 012. 6672888

BEE Rating Level 4

till next time
c'est la vie xxx

Friday, 25 April 2014

Bathing is not for sissies

So you know in the movies or the Lux advert when the woman has that deep oval bathtub, foam for days and little candles everywhere?  And she lies back, relaxed, blowing the foam into the air and thinking about her day?  Don't believe everything you see in movies and adverts.  

Jess left at least 2 dozen of those tealights around our deep oval bathtub.  When she had the candlelit foam bath the night before, she raved about it. 

Enter me. 

I ran the tub full, foam for days, lit all 2 dozen candles.  The scene was set.  I made a kickass cappuccino, got my book, told everyone not to call me, and descended on the tub.  I say descended because the lady in the advert is about a size 8.  I am not. 

It was going well for the first 5 minutes.  Ensconced under the foam I decided to put only my hands out to hold my book.  Roadblock number one.  The tealights did not produce enough light for reading.  Cancel that idea.  Back under the foam.  Let me think about my day.  

Even with my eyes closed I became aware of more intense light on my right than on my left. I ignored it.  Until I smelt something.  I opened my eyes ....... there was something resembling the burning bush 15cm away from me.  The candle was close to the little white "rope" attached to my big loofah.  The rope caught alight.  Then the loofah caught alight.  I threw enough water onto this disaster to extinguish the mini fire and ten candles in the process.  I now had a cappuccino with milk foam and bath foam in it. 

Back under the foam.  Toes resting on the opposite edge of the tub.  I started feeling intense heat on that edge of the tub.  I wriggled my toes.  It became worse.  I looked down.  My two big toes were directly above 2 of the tealights.  I have a burn blister under each toe.  I was now having decidedly less of a good time. 

I am now so paranoid that whilst lying back I will set my hair alight, that I decide to get out. I slip slightly on the bottom of the tub as I have about 9 litres of foam bath in there.  This causes the water to move back and forward and then a tsunami size wave of water splashed over the side, extinguishing all but 2 of the candles.  

Next time I rather use 2 camping lights. 

Shower anyone?

till next time
c'est la vie xxx

Monday, 21 April 2014

My journey to find myself - Lent 2014

🍫🍬🍭 So it has been a very nice Easter.  We usually spend a large portion of Holy Week at the parish, and this year was no different .... Except ...... It somehow was a completely overwhelming and emotional experience all the way through.  A wonderful Paschal Meal with more than 100 parishioners in the church hall on Wednesday evening.  On Thursday evening it was the Mass of the Lord's Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet.  It was a very deeply touching Mass in which our priest humbled himself as he re-enacted the actual way in which the feet of the disciples were washed.  We followed it up with 3 hours of silent Adoration.  Good Friday the Tenenbrae service was a meditative chanting hour and by the time we got to the Good Friday Service at 3pm (CBC) I was experiencing a deep emotion like never before.  As I watched my daughter read and my son read the part of Jesus in the Passion play, I was really feeling the agony of that day in a very real way.

On Saturday evening we started the Easter Vigil around the Easter fire in the grounds of the Parish.  As we proceeded, in our hundreds, by candlelight into the church, preceded by the Easter candle and listened to the many readings, those candles carried us more and more into the growing light of Christ.  As I did my reading from Exodus, the combined candlelight of a whole community was lighting up my heart.  We had a lovely young man be received into the Catholic faith and be immersed completely ... Our priest does nothing in half measures .... He sweeps us up to feel like we too are continuously completely immersed in our Faith.....Music and singing that lifted the roof, our new church bell was able to be rung a little for the first time and by the time the Mass was over almost 4 hrs later, there was such a sense of happiness, peacefulness and joy in my heart that the first thing I said outside to Fr Chris was "is it not fantastic to be Catholic?" ..... We stood around in groups chatting and eating our 1st Easter eggs given out by the parish .... All joined by the incredible common thread of such a beautiful experience.

On Sunday morning we returned with joy in our hearts for the service in which we celebrated that The Lord is risen .... It was a happy and special morning in which Fr Chris reminded us to view Sunday, and not Monday, as the start of our week.

This Easter was not for me about giving up stuff ... I cut down my coffee drinking by a massive amount and I had a few other personal Lenten sacrifices.  But to me, this Easter was about my faith, about getting to weekday mass, even when it meant getting up at 430 am to read at the 6am mass.  It was about joining Bible Study which turned out to be addictive.  It was about giving up my time.....which is very scarce in between my commitments and being a mom and wife and driver and employee, and spending that time on my knees ..... Examining, questioning, challenging, growing and revelling in my Faith.  It was 40 days well spent.  It was 40 days in which I went on my own personal journey.  It was not always fun.  Our priest presented me with and challenged me on many issues in my life ... I am grateful for this ....   I did not always like what I saw.  I had plenty of religious questions for my priest.  I grew.  And my Faith grew.

And you know what?  As it did, my life seemed to fall into shape.  My own personal space became a little more un-mudied.

And for me ..... That was well worth the 40 day journey.

How blessed I am.

till soon
c'est la vie. xxx.  ⛪️

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

the taller child and travel

So the taller child is leaving for his overseas sports tour in 12 days.  Excitement is now moving towards fever pitch level.  I am green.  With jealousy.  A flight to Dublin via Dubai, touring through Ireland whilst playing hockey.  Then off to London sightseeing with Madam Tussauds, West End Theatre, London Eye etc all on the cards and in addition Nic is spending his well saved money to use for tours to the soccer stadiums of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.  Also the Beatles Museum.  And pens for his mom. Next he moves on to Manchester where he is for quite a few days whilst playing soccer.  Soccer.  That 5 letter word that rules his life.   

The exchange rate is brutal.  It is hard for any teenager to understand that when you sweat and save R3000 you in actual fact have a couple of hundred pounds if you are lucky.  But save he did, and he is going to be glad of that now. 

I have been away from him for 15 days before, but somehow when he is down at the coast with gran and grampy you know you can speak daily and that he is "close".  But this far ..... mmmmmm ..... going to miss him terribly.  

I think packing within the luggage restriction is going to be tricky .... own clothing, soccer kit, hockey kit, togs, shin pads, mouth guards, thick socks ...... it is going to be a challenge.  Probably just as well Jess is out of school because she would never manage this restriction thing ... her matric vac packing was enough of a challenge for her for the flight ").  Also I am reminding him constantly that he needs to leave enough space and weight for my pens he must bring back.  

So it is holidays now .... Nic can play xbox until the sun rises and then sleep until the sun sets.  And in between he can eat everything in sight. 

Oh the life of a teenager. 

till soon
c'est la vie xxx

Thursday, 10 April 2014

veldskool and kleinmannetjie-sindroom

School camps.  I remember them well.  Today they are called camps or tours.  In my day it was Veldskool.  If you look up that word in a dictionary it says "a week long trip during which you are treated like crap by camp facilitators with overblown egos whose sole purpose is to humiliate you".

Nic just returned from a fabulous 4 days away ...... 1 day spent on the waterslides at Aventura Warmbaths .... hard to tell who had more fun ..... Nic & Dev or the 2 male teachers.  All reports I have is that the 4 of them REALLY got value for money as they outslid, outraced and out foofie-slid each other.  ZE and BdT ... well done on a great bonding day!!  Next they flurried off to Cullinan or thereabouts for 3 days of team building .... but the nice type ....... spirit building, not destroying. 

My kids have also seen the entire Pilgrims Rest, God's Window, Valley of a Thousand Hills area.  On a school tour.  Touring, learning, seeing, exploring.  Coming home with good memories.  Yes, showers are cold, yes they walk far, yes it is not all namby pamby. But till today I am still trying to work out why the head guy at our Std 8 camp decided mid-breakfast that we had breathed too loudly while chewing and made us get up and run 2km and then come back and eat further.  Also, not eat until we were all back, including one poor skapie who had an asthma attack en route.  Why the hell did they make her run in the first place?  

In Gr 11 it is slightly less fun.  A week of hiking in the Drakensberg.  Carrying your 15kg rugsack all the way up.  And camping along the way.  And when you camp at the top .... delightful.  No water, no loos, a little Bunsen burner thingy to cook your "survival pack".  When Jess went it rained the entire time.  No, not rained .... bucketed.  Every photo we got showed a blurry pack of kids whose bodies and rugsacks were covered with plastic and it was pooling around their feet.  I remember her tales of how it rained up there and the water was just pouring over their sleeping bags.  But still, done in a team spirit kind of way.  Building, not breaking. 

I remember our Std 5 camp.  We stood guard duty at night.  I always got the 2 to 3am slot.  It was winter, freezing and pitch dark.  The previous guard woke me up and torch in hand I felt my way to my "station".  I dozed off at one stage ..... 13 year old girls will do this when freezing cold and a little scared.  When the head honcho came on his patrol and found me sleeping .... the reaction was akin to me having let 68 refugees cross the border between SA and Zim .... he went ballistic.  I had to go without breakfast.  Real great life lesson.  He asked me what I had learnt.  I think a suitable answer is "that you are an asshole". 

No wonder I hate camping.  Go figure. 

till next time
c'est la vie 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

wheezing. board games and onesies

So yesterday my entire day (in fact month) was made by one simple thank you gesture made by one small group of people for something I had done.  The gesture was completely surprising and very generous and was quite successful in giving my bronchitis chest a well needed little jump!

Today I returned to the Homes for the first time in 9 days, clutching a Fournos bakery box (yes sacrilege I know since my daughter is a chef), bearing chocolate brownie biscuit cookie things for my colleagues ...... it was met with the normal resounding cheer that NPO staff give when anything arrives to boost their daily intake of not very exciting Ricoffy.  It was nice coming back.  Even to those who did not notice I was gone (says she whilst coughing up more phlegm).  

I miss my boss.  A lot.  She is visiting her family in Australia.  Every alternate year or so when she goes, it becomes a long month and a bit without her.  She knows me, she knows my job, she knows how I operate ....... I feel like a wheel nut has fallen off the wheel at the moment.  Luckily it is not so long anymore. 

There is a lady outside on the patio, she has come to play a game with some of our residents.  It appears to be a mix between Mensch (a German game) and Uno (a much loved game in my house).  There is a lot of shrieking going on.  It is delightful to watch from my office window as the residents carefully count out the moves on the playing board and wait to hear the "instruction" for that block.  Why can life not be so uncomplicated all the time?

Tonight the taller child is working at the Spur for 4 hours as a "runner".  Last time they can fundraise for their sports tour which is now less than 3 weeks away.  Kudos to the UK Visa Dpt who not only have some of the most efficient staff I have ever met (impressive, as the staff are all locals), they did his visa in 5 working days.  I suppose for R1500 I should expect no less.  Nic is chomping at the bit to get on that plane.  His mind has just one thing on it ...... he is going to play football with his team in Manchester.  What more could a boy who plays soccer for 3 teams and trains 6 days a week, want?

And Lent?  Lent goes on ...... I have had to miss some of the 6am masses and some of the evening classes thanks to my wheezing chest, but as Fr Chris said ..... the last 2 weeks lie ahead .... make the most of your Lenten commitments.  That is just before he likened Lazarus' shroud to a "onesie".  Got to love our priest for making things real. 

enjoy Tuesday,
till soon 
c'est la vie xxx

2019 - new beginnings and other excitement

2019 is a big year for me.  For the first time in probably 30 years I am not in a fixed Monday to Friday job.  This is huge.  I return from...