Today we spent the late afternoon and evening at the ChristKindlMarkt held at the German School in Pretoria. It was lovely because the food was cheap, wholesome and perfect for dinner and the hall was full of little stands selling mostly things that make traditional German Christmas - little wooden tree ornaments, hand made lanterns, Stollen, Adventskranz, candles, marzipan, Christmas incense cones to burn and much more. You did not have to spend money to go there and enjoy it, it was just as much fun seeing the lovely things and ideas. Most of all, especially with tomorrow being the 1st Sunday of Advent, I got the feeling for the first time, that Christmas is coming. I smelt it in the incense in the market, in the beautiful big pine tree with lights. However the greatest thing about the evening was the beautiful choir accompanied by an orchestra. I was not able to catch where they were from, but they were not youngsters and it was magnificent. I love carols, and I love orchestral music and we found a nice little spot to sit, a bit buffered from the wind. We had schnitzel and potato salad and a coffee and just sat there. Sometimes chatting and sometimes in silence. The carols were mostly in German, but you will recognize the tune of carols in any language. The air was a little crisp, the sky was adorned with a criss cross of little gold lights that had been strung up, interspersed with stars. The voices rose and we sat with our closest friends, in a semi-circle, my bestie close to my side and my hubby and the long child on the other side. And I felt it .... as the first verse of Stille Nacht sounded up, I thought of my dad, who loves this hymn and is of German descent. I thought of our Christmas Eves where we always start with this hymn ... I felt the first stirrings of peace. And as I sat there, I felt it, Christmas is coming ..... there is hope. We have to believe that there is always hope.
And so today exams ended, and thereby the long child's gr 10 year. Only one day left next week for the Liturgy for end of year and then he is home ..... for a lovely long break. It is much needed and I intend to see that he enjoys every minute of it. He has worked. Late nights almost every school night and during exams he was joined by the hip to his books. I am proud of him. This year has not been easy for us and he soldiered on - head up, chin up in his quiet gentlemanly way. The fact that his sister, aka chefgirl, will be home for 5 days next month is a great source of joy for him. He is, besides his dad, the funniest person I know. He has this off the cuff, laissez-faire way of remarking on things, a dry as Savannah sense of humour and is so astute it always amuses me. We spend a lot of time laughing ... in the car to school and back, at home and when we go places. He often sleeps in the morning on the way to school, interspersed with the odd laughing moment. Other times he brings along his speaker which he plonks on the dash and plays us a plethora of music of every genre. One day we are listening to Eminem, the next to John Legend and the next to Elvis. He is a huge Elvis fan. We play 20 questions (he says I have a bizarre way of asking mine) or we sing along to the beat. Homeward bound trips often include a stop at the Lollipop Roadhouse a few blocks from the school. We get two lekker icecreams (sugar cone me and cup him), then we open the boot and sit on the inner edge while we discuss all kinds of things, serious or other, whatever comes along. He is also a master at accompanying me for groceries. He always chirps because I say "we are just getting 2 things we do not need a basket" and yet he always has to go back for one when we are no longer able to carry the things between the two of us. He is 6ft 3" of love and kindness, deep humility, intelligence and humour. A real "old soul" I think. And he thinks his mother is highly amusing. How blessed am I.
So today my dad is turning 78. What an awesome big number. So many fun memories ... so many lekker places we have gone on holiday, so many special weekends together. We have had meals together in so many places, seen so many shows together .... remember the Follies? And the Angus Steer? And football at Callies - cheering me at Pilditch as I finished the ten gazillion km race ... about 2 days after I started running it ..... all those galas you supported .... the fantastic cappuccinos that you churn out on your machine when we visit, the drawer that has a neverending supply of biltong and Lays. The dried peaches that I like only when they are rock hard, the lebkuchen when Christmas arrives, the hunting for Easter eggs in the garden ... even though we are all grown up now. Each year we try see who can find the most bizarre hiding place. Always listening to Silent Night before we open our gifts on Christmas Eve. Board games with the kids .... you are a Thirty Seconds Addict and you have more newspapers still to read than even I do. You and mom have a social life that I aspire to and I know you are making a concerted effort to spend our entire inheritance .... a family joke that amuses you and us no end. You spoil the kids rotten and visits are much enjoyed because they always come with 2 fun things .... board games and prawns and just as fun are the visits to the sea - full of outings and fun times. I remember going to the sea with you as well ... and you and me swimming out so we could be the two that were the deepest in the sea ... and you would eat 6 grenadilla snowball icecreams ..... and those rides on the rollercoaster ... the only person who would go with me. Remember your bday when we got you the hot air balloon ride? You were so excited and that made us really excited. I also inherited your love of watching TV till late and we even got a pair of headphones for this. You also like rollmops just like me and eating the chocolate Dr Oetker pudding as long as you only eat it with a teaspoon and from the side .... nicely. Just like chocolate ice-cream ... remember the awesome chocolate icecream cones we had at the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The best ice-cream in Italy!! And when you blew the horn in Austria ..... whahaha with your serviette attached to your pants!! And then there was Paris where we spent no time in the shops and all our time trying to buy tickets on a public holiday whahaha. Then there was the time in the Kruger Park when the boot jammed and you packed all the luggage on the back seat along with me and my sussie. What a fantastically crappy trip home. And you have been ill .... so ill ..... and so brave. I have watched you fight many very serious problems ... never moaning or complaining. Remember the New Years Eve you were in Little Company of Mary and we decorated your entire room with streamers and balloons and Happy New Year signs. I am sure there was glitter as well. And how we laughed when I pulled the April Fools Joke on you by sending you a fictitious letter from the City Council saying you had to move the front house wall back 3 metres ... after living there for 30 years ...... and you got me back by sending me to the hardware shop for a long weight. And they made me wait and wait and wait ... for long whahahahahahahahahahahaha.
We are so blessed to still have you with us at 78 and still so fun of love and silliness. Plus you can fix anything which is useful. Happpppy Biiiiirrrrthday Dad ... see you later till soon c'est la vie xxxx
So last week was a big week of firsts. First time I dyed candles with paint and oven baking to make Advent candles. First time I made Christmas wreaths (see my previous blog) and first time I did something I thought I would never do ... make Eisbein and my last first (get it?) ran a little teeny food stall at our Church Patronal Feast Day. The money it made was not mind blowing in the big picture. But I made money, I was able to add to the fundraising of the day and that is all that matters. Every drop helps fill a bucket. What a lot of firsts I had! Despite the fact that my dad was born in Germany, we make very few traditional German dishes from scratch. He came to SA when he went to High School so to date the best place for Eisbein when I was growing up was at the German Club in town. And now it is at a restaurant in the East of Pretoria. The most silly of all .... I have never eaten an Eisbein until I tasted a piece of the ones I made. Nor have I ever had any inclination to make it. Then the International Food Stalls were needed for the Feast Day at the Parish and I in a weird moment of bravado said to my son ... let us do a German stall with Bockwurst Rolls, Potato Salad and Sauerkraut. A week before the big day, whilst in the Repository, a man said to me "so you obviously going to have Eisbein?" .... "yes" I said, whilst my son looked at me wide-eyed. Now those who know me well know that I have a pretty gung-ho attitude when it comes to doing new things ... so I started gathering prices for fully cooked and ready Eisbeins to sell on the day. This is expensive. Ridiculously so. So then I struck a sweet deal with a major SA brand's factory shop and bought lovely 1kg Eisbeins - uncooked. I went with ten. Because I had never done it before and mostly so that when they did not sell I would only have 10 lying there and not look like a complete idiot. I also have my daughter, a professional chef, on speed dial. She was proud that I did not have to call her. Let me just jump to the end of the story ..... we added up the people who came and asked if there were still Eisbeins available to have there, and to take home with them ...... if I had made 60 I would have been closer to the mark. Live and learn ne'. Self-confidence needs an adjustment it seems. So I got a kind friend to let me use their stove which can take a lot of pots at once and on Saturday afternoon I set about cooking my little round pieces of beautiful Eisbein. I kept looking into the pot ... not sure what I was looking for, but I boiled those little buggers until they were fall apart soft. And then stored them overnight. We set up our stall with German flags, home-made posters (no I did not use glitter, I was banned for this event from glitter) and put out all our goodies. Thank heavens for super salesmen one and two .... my son and his friend and then a 3rd friend who joined and they really performed when it got busy. So I grilled the Eisbein and when my son carried it from the oven and placed it on our stall table .... we sold the ten in literally 4 minutes. Boom. And had to take our sign down. I was both excited and mortified all at once. We sold lots of bockwurst and weirdly people came with their very delicious food from other stalls and asked to buy potato salad (I make mean potato salad) so all in all we did ok. Having a stand is not something I would ever have done in the past. Now I have received requests to make and sell Eisbein, from a number of people. One described it now to me on the phone as "to die for, crispy on the outside and fall apart on the inside". Go figure - I can make Eisbein. Dad must be grinning. So the handful of people who wanted one and never got one, I will be making yours especially, as arranged, at the end of the month - and in addition I got an order for several for a dinner party. So I am going to take on that too. Go figure - 4 new things in a week. Never too old to learn.
So to work out my frustrations I decided to turn to creativity. It was either that or boxing but my son's punching bag and I had a small incident when it swung back towards me recently. Having decided 2 weeks ago that I want to do some different holders and candles for Advent this year, as well as try my hand at Advent wreath making, I knuckled down yesterday, bought a bounty of items for my moment of inspiration, checked Pinterest for exactly how to bake the paint and set out. I wanted to make enough to stock and sell in the Repository at the Parish. Now for those for whom Advent is starting on 29 November, you know that you have 3 purple and 1 pink candle and these get lit starting with 1 candle and working up to all 4 candles over a four week period leading up to Christmas. Some people have just the candles, others have the wreath as well. I grew up in a home where we had the Christmas Krantz every year. So armed with glue spray, glitter, decorations, pipe cleaners, pegs and craft glue I made what I think is very decent wreaths in the end. I did pinch my finger in a crocodile clip and get glue on my teeth .... but that is not for now.
Then I set about painting 60 of those votive glasses .... 45 purple and 15 pink. This was work of great patience as the paint had to be swirled around in the glasses to cover the sides completely. It was a matter of trial and error. Thinned out with too much water, the paint simply poured out the glass and onto the table (thank heavens for a plastic table cloth). Too thick and you were left with a sludge like substance everywhere. Also important to note that you wear surgical gloves. Not because you are going to have a medical exam of your family, but because this stuff is meeeeesssssy. I had it on my clothes, my arms and of course my face from rubbing it with the gloves. Once done they were dried and then popped into the oven for 4 hours (no I was not wasting electricity ... you bake for 40 mins and cool for the rest of the time). With a tealight in each, I packed them in fours and then consulted Pinterest for the "how to make bows" bit. As always it was easily learnt and executed.
Everything is now in the Repository (please note parishioners and friends) - the candle sets (4 votive glasses and 4 candles) are R25 and the wreaths incl the candle sets are R230. “Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.” Bill McKibben
This week has been trying, to say the least. I have behind me a very busy last week at work, 3 nights of terrible nightmares ... covering all kinds of bizarre things, they have haunted me right until I wake up. I dragged myself through today with a searing headache that gripped me the minute I opened my eyes this morning. Add a pounding heart from the headache meds and my day was anything but fun. I drove home in absolute turmoil today. Anger and frustration. Tiredness. Anxiety. It has me in it's grip. I do not have to wonder if this is it, I absolutely know - anxiety brings the headaches, but a sure sign is the nightmares - I have walked this road before. Is it not amazing how our bodies react - the renowned fight or flight reaction. How we allow the things in our lives, often not from our own doing, but many that we do by choice, to grip us and throttle us physically. It becomes a rolling ball of stress, pressure, work, anxiety, anxiety and yes, anxiety. I find solace across the road ... twenty steps from my office, in the Adoration chapel, where I found myself on Monday, asking God to just let me hang on by my fingertips for a little longer. I wore the newly washed carpet even thinner with my pacing in the front - God must have felt like he was watching a tennis match. I have to remind myself that life is ebb and flow ...... and sometimes it feels like it is just a thunderous crash of waves. But I wait. Because I know this too shall pass, or I shall have to make decisions that make it pass. And I wait in Faith. because I have no choice.
Every time my world gets very full, I think about the things that make it so. When my world gets overfilled with things that I can handle, and make me happy, then all goes well, I deal with the tiredness and everything that comes with it. However when it gets full of just STUFF, then I become run down and even more tired ---- like dragging a chain behind me. My dad's favourite question to me is "when are you going to slow down girl?" - "you do not rest enough and sleep" - probably because every time I go to their house I visit and then end the visit with a hour long sleep on the couch, irrespective of the day or time. I have this thing - I don't do half measures. In anything. If I work for you - I am all in. I give my everything. Throw myself in heart and soul. When I am with my friends - I am all in. All the laughter, joking, friendships. Heart and Soul. Especially with my bestie. At home - double heart and soul - it is a home of great laughter and love. And when I lose my mall parking ticket (often), my car keys (regularly but always find them), trip over something, fall on something .... man I do it ..... heart and soul. There is a lovely little quote I often see which says "wherever you go, go with all your heart. and whatever you do, do it with all your heart". That leads me to asking you ...... Where do you go with all your heart? What do you do with all your heart? Your job? Your marriage? Your relationships? Kids? Religion? Fun? .... the list is endless. But life is short and I have started to ask myself ...... the places that you do not go with all your heart ..... and the things in your life that you live, tolerate and endure ...... not with all your heart, when do you walk away, step away, move away and ask yourself what the point is? And I know .... there are no perfect marriages, jobs, friendships etc etc .... but hell, you at least want to be acceptably happy. So what I want to ask you ..... where you go .... go with all your heart ..... and what you do ..... do with all your heart. And if you are only 60 % happy ..... then do that 60 % with all your heart. We have one life. Make sure you are living yours. I am giving it my very best shot!
Been thinking about the heat a lot (how can you not) and also been thinking about the rain we are praying for - which will bring much needed relief for our country and our crops and also a small reprieve from this murderous heat everywhere. Chatting to a friend with Nic this morning and commenting on how awesome this overcast sky is today, it suddenly reminded me of something - how we often in life want the opposite of what we have, and then when we get that - we long for the very thing we had in the first place. I know someone, lets call her X. She was married for 20 years, to what appeared on the surface to be a great guy (who knows what goes on in other people's marriages). Then along came person B - charming her and eventually this lead to an affair. So she had what she wanted - she was bored of her mundane, every day the same life with her husband and longed for adventure and excitement. And then? She realised one day that she missed the stability of her husband, the warm snuggly place in life where she had someone who knew her best. Sadly he was hurt beyond reconciliation, and now she fell neatly in the middle. No hubby, no lover. Just her. How often in life do we wish for something else - riches when we are struggling (ok no-one wants to go back to that), thin when we are fat, bigger homes, better cars, younger faces, bigger salaries, higher job titles .... the list is endless. Not every time that you get your way is a huge success - because when you are always chasing something (not aspiring, that is different) you end up on a never ending treadmill of always wanting more. So why not pause. Just for a bit. Think about what you have (I mean material things - not serious illnesses or such) and ask yourself -- will bigger be better? Will more or different make you more happy? Or can you pause and love the place you find yourself now? So it is overcast ... and I will love it, and when the sun beats down, I will try and love that too.
That I can work out why I never ever look for my work keys and then apply it to the above 3 points
That I remember to take my tablets every day
That I discover that I do not have to carry everything I own in my boot
That I can just once go into a secure parking alone and not have to pay the Lost Card Fee when I leave.
That I charge my phone when it gets to 10%. Which is 3 x day.
That I can find my car key when I leave work every day. And not have to put it in my boss' fridge so that I know where it is
That I understand that the orange fuel light on my vehicle means the fuel is about to end. It is not a suggestion.
That I can find my house key every day (yes I repeated it, it is unbelievable)
That I can drink less Coke (please do not lecture me - I get it)
That I understand that making time for myself every day is not breaking any great rule
That I stop worrying about other people's analysis of me - I am OK - elke huisie het sy kruise.
That I realise that not everyone you love will love you in return - but as the saying goes - I will love them anyway. It is good for me. And them.
That just once I can find last month's L & W account (oh yes I solved this - I get it electronically now) ..... um .... now where did I put the laptop whahahaha
That I can have a back and shoulder massage every month
That I can fall asleep at night when I must and not every time I sit on the couch at night (and that never happened before)
That I can drink more water, eat less chocolate, finish my mags, do more crosswords, untangle the Christmas tree lights, get my son's organ to play (speaker prob), find a way to keep our Husky from bomb-dropping into the water bowl.
Did You Know: The average lead pencil can write 50 000 words before it becomes too stumpy. You breathe on average about 5 million times a year. For me it must be 6 million if I add in the eye rolling and sighing my one friend says I do. Months that begin on a Sunday always have a Friday 13th in them. "Almost" is the longest word in the English dictionary with all the letters in alphabetical order. A silkworm consumes about 86 000 times it's weight in 56 days. Hold back on fat jokes please. 11 % of the world population is left handed. Rubber bands stretch further and last longer if refrigerated. You also then know where they are ... like my car keys (yes I put them in the fridge at work). A snail can sleep for 3 years. I am clearly a member of the snail family. All the continent's names end with the same letter that they start with. A goldfish has a memory span of 3 seconds. I have some friends like that as well. A hedgehog's heart beats 300 times a minute. The same happens to me when I see a picture of Richard Gere. Some worms start eating themselves if they cannot find any food. Giraffes can clean their ears with their 21 inch tongues. I feel I should comment. But I won't. Billy Goats urinate on themselves to make them more attractive to females. Uhm ... ok. Polar bears can eat up to 80 penguins in a single sitting. About like me and Woolworth's Chuckles. and lastly Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. He also had only one testicle.
till soon c'est la vie (with thanks to Google Top Random Facts)