Sunday, September 21, 2008

Current Addictions Meme

I haven’t done a meme for ages but Jeanne of Cooksister just tagged me for the Current Addictions meme, so how could I resist?

The rules:
* Post at least five current addictions (with some details, please).
* Mention the person who started this meme (Being Brazen) and also the person who just tagged you
* Type your post with the heading "Current addictions".
* Tag at least two people and pass on the above rules.

1. Lindt Intense Orange chocolate – dark chocolate is my secret indulgence. I hide it in the larder and in moments of stress, or just when I feel like it, I sneak in and a grab a few squares. Unfortunately this Intense Orange has also grabbed my husband’s taste buds, so now I have to get it out openly in the evenings and share it with him.

2. Mamma Mia – Jeanne listed this and I am totally in agreement with her – we’ve seen it twice now, once on our movie date and then we just had to go back with the children and friends – it gives you a total wild and wacky teenage high just by going and singing along! As long as you don’t have a disapproving neighbour glaring at you that is.

3. NCIS – we used just to catch the odd episode every now and again, then it became a regular weekly date.. then Kate was shot. Devastated, as it was the end of the series, we had a year’s break and then we started watching the DVD set of series 3. Series 4 was my husband’s birthday present and then series 5 was released in time to be mine! We love the characters, who would think crime investigation could be so funny and so emotionally involving – love Abby the goth forensic girl and Gibbs is gorgeous (except when he grew a moustache at the beginning of series 4!).

4. Messages – I compulsively check my e-mail far more often than necessary. Text messages on my phone, comments on my blog, e-mails, Facebook messages – it is probably some deep psychological fixation – I get messages therefore I exist. They have to be written messages though – I’m useless on the phone!

5. Reading blogs - even when I’m frantically busy I still turn to Bloglines for distraction at regular intervals. I read everybody’s blogs even when I’m not blogging myself and turn into a non-commenting lurker. Just tuning out of my every day and getting fresh perspective by reading all your views, stories, rants, raves and musings is good therapy, even if it is just a short term escapist measure and I then have to return to the translation or article that I was plodding through.

6. Marmalade - I love marmalade and have to have a supply available at all times. Nobody else in the house likes it, so when I make a batch it is pure self-indulgence and self-protection. You simply cannot buy proper marmalade in the shops here - unless it is home-made by someone else. It has to have chunky bits of peel in - none of this Golden Shred nonsense! My current combination is Orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime. Perfect on bread or toast and essential to round off lunch with, sometimes if I'm feeling degenerate, combined with crunchy peanut butter!

As if you haven’t already got enough to do I’m tagging Mary Alice and Caffienated Cowgirl!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tinsel Alert

I received my first Christmas card today.

I know it’s still September – who is thinking about Christmas, apart from over-zealous sales teams and really super organized people (that is for my mother who I know is already preparing to come out and visit us this Christmas and so has started shopping already!)

My eight year-old daughter – that’s who. She has started producing a nice line of Christmas cards, with added decorations and notes.

I promised to find them envelopes (Youngest was creating her birthday invitations at the same time) but promptly forgot about it. This proved to be a perfect example of the benefits of idle parenting, because they then made their own beautifully decorated envelopes. Our paper supply is rapidly dwindling …

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pre-school Hit Parade

Don’t tell the social services....

At bed-time last night Youngest told me which are her favorite two songs. I was expecting something innocuous from Abba given their enthusiasm for Mamma Mia, but No! It turns out the Top Ten for not-quite-six year olds in this house is headed by ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ from the soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs and ‘Don’t want to go to Rehab’ by Amy Winehouse….

No, they haven’t seen the movie Reservoir Dogs. I haven’t seen the movie Reservoir Dogs… it’s just back in the days when we lived in a photographic studio in South London, the happening crowd of photographers were listening to the Reservoir Dogs CD a lot and it rapidly became our baby son’s favorite – he’d bounce energetically up and down in our arms when the second track started with its Ugga Ugga, Ugga Chakka beat and it was a full cardiovascular workout dancing to the first three tracks with him. We told the story of this recently and of course had to dig out the CD to play to him. All three kids now love it.

And Amy Winehouse – well my husband just took a shine to her wonderful husky voice, so she is on the play list in our house with three kids singing along, protesting that they don’t want to go to Rehab – I don’t think they know where exactly Rehab is – probably somewhere cold and very wet – a bit like the Western Cape right now!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mamma Mia

Have you seen it yet? The perfect outlet for my inner rock-chick-Abba-washing-up-80s-retro self combined with soppy fun plot, great cinematography and Meryl Strreep letting her hair down in a big way and incidentally singing incredibly well.

We went to see it, just us two, last week on a movie date and immediately wished we’d taken the children, while they’re still young enough to think Abba is cool. So we went back with friends on Sunday: 4 adults and 5 children all singing along and dancing around in their seats … all except me that is …after the woman next but one to me leaned over her teenage daughter to ask me to stop singing :(

It was during the chorus of SOS with Pierce Brosnan managing to look sad and serious while leaning in the doorway, and I wasn’t belting it out, my voice pretty much drowned out by the high volume sound track or so I thought, but I guess if you’re a teenager it is embarrassing to sit next to a forty something woman with only moderate singing ability – I don’t blame her … much! But it’s obviously festering so I thought I’d better let it out in a mini rant and have done with it:

Mamma Mia is meant to be fun, how can anyone sit through it motionless, without a glimmer of a smile or chuckle, let alone the odd chorus line escaping their lips. If you’re going to watch Meryl Streep and appreciate her fine acting, you can still let the music infect you with a certain lightness of spirit – I mean how can anyone not want to sing along to Abba, unless they really hate it.

I promise I didn’t sing along to any of the solos – I did have that much respect for the poignant moment. All the rest of our group sang along sotto voce to their heart’s content, as I was the buffer zone fielding the occasional pointed look every now and then. Perhaps they should divide the cinema into zones - singing and non-singing zones with a sound proof barrier for those who prefer not to join in.

Anyway for anyone who enjoys Abba or likes a rollicking musical, I highly recommend Mamma Mia – the children were asking when we could get the DVD before the movie had even finished, so I can see many private viewings in the future, with the floor cleared for singing, dancing and such-like embarrassing behaviour – now all we need to do is get hold of some incredibly high platform boots and glittery jumpsuits, a touch of dry ice and a Greek island!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Bed

We’re still swaddled in winter layers of clothes here – I sit at the computer with a plaid rug over my knees and start wondering whether mittens would be a good idea, as the wind howls around the roof in the intervals between the drummings of rain. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking we’re in England here – it’s certainly wet enough. The dry winters when we yearned for a good rainstorm and sangomas held rain ceremonies to break the drought are long forgotten. They were certainly successful!

Our school Spring Fair ten days ago was chased inside the classrooms by gale warnings and the bouncy castle was only in action for a short time before being taken down again in case it blew away Yellow Brick Road style.

That night the heaviest and blowiest rainstorm in years centred itself over our house and we found leaks where the roof had never leaked before. The power had long ago gone that evening and we sat by the fire, with our sons head lamp lighting our books, until carrying a candles and oil lamps we retired to bed … only for my husband to put his hand down on his side of the bed and find it sopping wet… the roof had never leaked in our bedroom before. Unamused by my rendition of the song in my blog title, he hurried up stairs to position containers under the drips and we grabbed the duvet from the spare bedroom, piled on the blankets and lay in bed listening to the gale playing with our roof.

This weekend we’ve had yet more rain – a sunny warm Saturday pretended that it was spring again and we rashly squandered a few hours of it going to the movies to see Mamma Mia – but then by Sunday morning we woke up to clouds and drizzle again. (Mamma Mia, by the way, was brilliant, we loved it and came out singing wildly and wanting to go back for more with the whole family.)

More rain in the night tested out the repairs my husband had made to the roof and happily we stayed dry inside, but it carried on relentlessly through Monday, turning our dirt road into a quagmire bordered by raging torrents. The new car has made it through numerous times on the school run and now looks very similar to the old car, well bespattered with muck.

The spring flowers are hardly getting a look in this year. The daisies only show their faces when the sun shines and so our photo session at the start of the flower season looks destined to be the only one, as the white daisies are already almost over.

I now feel thoroughly English having had a good moan about the weather, but now I need to remember to be South African too, and be thankful for such a nice lot of rain that will see us through the hot summer ahead, with dams and reservoirs replenished. I only wish we could share a bit of it with friends and family in Australia where they are in desperate need of good rain in their catchment areas, it seems so unfair for us to be so soggy when their reservoirs are drying up.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cars in the Family

For a couple of years now, we have been saying that we must trade in our car before it gets shaken to bits by our dirt road and the mileage gets too high. This is the car we bought when we arrived here in South Africa, a sturdy Opel estate, and it has done duty as our family car ever since, clocking up the kilometers on the school run, commuting to Cape Town, occasional holidays cramming it full to the roof with luggage and canoe perched on top. It has coped with the 3 km of bumpy dirt road day in day out, corrugated and dusty in summer, muddy, flooded and rutted in winter. Bits have shaken loose with all the bumping – the back bumper fell off a couple of years ago and was lost, the rear door lock has been shaken to oblivion and is extremely temperamental, but still the car has kept going.

Yesterday we finally bit the bullet and bought a new car – a two year old Opel Zafira, which has those clever extra two seats in the rear that fold away to nothing and make plenty of luggage space. It’s a sleek spring chicken compared to our battle hardened, mud encrusted (t)rusty steed.

As I drove home from the car dealership in the old car (now destined for a quick private sale, as the dealers would only offer a laughable peanut gallery trade-in price for a car with over 300km on the clock) I couldn’t help a pang of sadness. This stalwart car has seen us through our life here with hardly a faulter, carried toddlers and baby seats safely, and despite the occasional odd gurgle or tinkle from under the bonnet, it’s still going strong.

My husband picked up the kids from school in the new car and they arrived home gleefully amid great excitement, thrilled with the folding seats, folding trays and all. Youngest kept telling me how excited she was about the new car throughout the afternoon. It wasn’t till she went to change into pyjamas that the reality dawned on her:

“Mummy, when I talk like this, it means I’m sad” she said, chin down, in a choked voice.

Sobs escaped as she continued, “I’m sad about our old car.”

She cried for a few minutes on my lap as I tried to console her.

Distracted by TV time she was soon cheerful again, until it was time for bed. Dissolving once more she sobbed,

"But I’ll think about our old car in the night” and “But how will you put it in the garage?”

The forlorn thought of it parked outside, ousted from its warm garage by the shiny new car was too much for her and it took a while to turn her thoughts in a happier direction.

Today she was more philosophical about it:

“I’d feel more sad if it was one of our animals going to someone else” she said thoughtfully at lunchtime.

We’ve assured her it will go to a good home, which we hope will be as soon as possible, as it’s making me feel sad too now!