Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 25 January 2007

McElusive and my JHB Trip

After being very disappointed about not getting to see the notorious McNaught comet on Thursday, I was certain I would see it on Friday when I arrived in JHB. I was being sent up for the company's annual Strategy Session - as the Site Manager I have to plan the strategy for my site for the year...

After an uneventful flight (which is just the way flight should be - none of this nearly throwing up and dying stuff like we had in November!) we touched down in JHB at 18:20. Where I met the new Cape Town Sales Exec and we found our driver and set of for Maropeng. Maropeng is 8km from the infamous Sterkfontein Caves, which is a world heritage site and known as 'The Cradle of Humankind'. The Sterkfontein Caves and surrounds are the site of many significant archaeological and anthropological finds including Mrs Ples, and Little Foot. I was certain that I would get a spectacular view of the comet from there, and had assured the kids that I would take photos when I saw it, to show them.

As we drove the long and slow journey through the Johannesburg Friday rush hour(s) I was scanning the Western horizon in search of Comet 'McElusive'. At around 8pm we suddenly saw it - very faintly between 2 banks of clouds. We pulled over to look. It resembled an air-craft vapour trail at that point as the sky was still quite bright. We were only a few kms from our hotel at that point so I thought we should just head to the hotel from where we'd get a better view. Of course in those 5 minutes the clouds zoomed over and obscured that entire section of sky and nothing more was to be seen. *sulk*
I decided to have an early night on Friday and went straight to my room, which was lovely (as above). I ended up staying up far too late watching TV for far too long though. Still I managed to wake up by 06:30 on Saturday (very unusual for me) and decided to go for a quick morning run. I dressed and set off only to find I was suddenly really unfit and battling for air. Hrmm... it was only after a good few minutes that I realized it was the effects of the altitude. The highveld is MUCH higher than Cape Town - which is sea level, and for the first time ever I got a good demonstration of the effect. Gee it makes a HUGE difference!

I showered and then headed back for the start of the Strat Session.We worked solidly from 08:30 till 18:30, with a only a lunch break in between. We were presented with the company strategy for the year and then had to draft our site strategy (to achieve said company strategy) and associated budget. Whew.

After that drinks were ordered fast and furiously and we watched the setting sun on the veranda overlooking an African savannah. Beautiful. Much as I love Cape Town there really is something special about the rich, raw and untamed red earth up-country where everything grows bigger & faster. It oozes vibrancy and is quite breathtaking.
Of course the clouds zoomed in and thwarted any ideas of comet spotting for that night too, BUGGER!

We all chatted and laughed over dinner and then got silly challenging each other to drink vile and potent shooters.
Of course by Sunday morning we all felt (and probably looked) like crap - and for our sins we had to present our site strategies to the management team for critique. Fun! It went well, and by the time we left after lunch I was feeling motivated and inspired.

We were collected and shuttled back to the airport with plenty of time to spare before our flight. So I decided to try to get an earlier flight. I asked super nicely at the check-in desk, but unfortunately the next flight was over booked and nothing could be done. Oh well. The check-in lady told me she'd give me a nice seat in compensation. Cool. I was expecting a window or emergency exit seat. She handed me my ticket and said, 'You are in Business Class, enjoy'.

Wa wa wee wah! Hooray. I have never ever been in Business Class before. I quickly bid the Sales Exec dude adieu and sauntered off to the inner sanctum of the Business Class lounge where I wiled away the few hours wait surfing the net, drinking cappuccinos, nibbling on muffins and reading the paper on a comfy leather couch. Oh, I could so get used to that kind of life style!
When it was time to board the flight I strolled down - and boarded the plane - no tedious queuing for me this time *efg*. When I got on board I found that not only was I in Business Class but I was in the FRONT row, which has only 2 seats, and more leg room AND I was on the window. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

I was seated next to a wonderful older man who is a Barrister and works between London and Cape Town. We had interesting chats over our respective Sunday newspapers. We were served a delicious 3 course meal with real cutlery and crockery and salt and pepper shakers, and thick pressed linen napkins and glass glasses. I had a really tasty and tender piece of chicken. I must say that even though it was a short flight (2 hours) Business Class is far superior and much more comfortable than cattle class. I like!

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Comet McNaught

Yeah the name is spot on, because there were nought comets to be seen in our skies tonight. *sulk*

So after hearing about Comet McNaught (aka
C 2006 P1) on the news, from Mel, and then from colleague who said it was clearly visible from Cape Town last night and worth a look. I was keen to check it out. We can't see it from our house as we have a great galumphing mountain in the way.

I had also planned on going to gym tonight, because I am off to JHB for a work annual strategy planning session, so will not be able to do any of my usual week-end workouts.

So I rushed home, threw everyone in the car, managing to remember to grab a jersey for us all, and told Quinn to grab the toy telescope he got for his birthday. I managed to make it (only just) to the 5:30pm Bums and Tums class (where I was 2 people away from the aforementioned 'hot teacher'. At least now I know how she gets herself hot ;) )

After that we set off towards town, stopping at a shop to pick up some snacks for an impromptu picnic. I had explained all about the comet to the kids and we were getting very excited about seeing it. The weather was looking ominous though and it was touch or go as to whether it was going to lift or settle, and there was a chance that it was clear in the Camps Bay side of the mountains... so we continued our journey....

Well it was raining and the fog was all the way down to the sea, there was NOTHING to see at all! Boo Hoo. So disappointing.

Apparently this is what it looks like.
Hopefully I will get a glimpse of it from Maropeng tomorrow (where I will be spending the week-end). Doing management pow-wow thingy.

Hopefully the boys will get another chance to see it, because comets don't come by very often... "
For those who miss it over the next week there will be another chance when the comet returns in 85,000 years." Funny - NOT!

Quinn and his hot teacher.

On the way to gym tonight we were rushing to get to a 'Bums & Tums' class on time, when we saw one of Quinn's schools teachers running in too (we were still driving).

I said 'look there's a teacher from your school'.
Quinn said, 'Oh, that's Mrs Meredith...all the boys like her cos she's HOT'


So I said (feigning ignorance of course): 'Why? How do you know? Is she sweaty?'
He said, 'No she is not THAT kind of hot.'

So I asked what HOT means. So he says, 'I know what it means - but I don't think you do'.

I never knew that Grade 2 boys check out their teacher's hotness!

For anybody interested in Ubuntu

And Mark Shuttleworth.

Here is an interview with him on You Tube.

(jbailey - cool being mentioned as the cream of the development team non? )

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Back to School

Then & Now. First Day of Grade 1 vs First Day of Grade 2...

Quinn first days - Grade 1 vs Grade 2

Quinn started Grade 2 today. I took him into his class and got him settled in. As usual he was very calm, confident and nonchalant about it all. He takes it all in his stride. His class is fairly shuffled, but he knows most of the boys who are in his class so he is happy. His teacher is new so we'll see how she turns out.

Griffin started Grade R (aka Grade 0) and he is very 'chuffed' to be in the oldest class at school now. No longer a littlie and no longer in a shadow. He is thrilled.

Griffin Grade R, Quinn Grade 2

Surprisingly even after such a long holiday I am slightly sad that we are back to school and back to the usual grind stone and routine. The holiday didn't seem long at all, and we really enjoyed it thoroughly. But I am thankful that my boys love school and never complain about going. They enjoy learning and socialising.

Monday, 15 January 2007

My baby came home injured :(

When I called to check on arrangements for getting Griffin back today I was told he had had a bit of an accident - falling out of the bed, and had bitten his lip, but was fine.

Well this is how I found him! :(

He had decided to sleep on the top bunk with the 2 girls he was staying over with, and he fell out the bed in the middle of the night. He said he woke up and cried, but then climbed back up there and went back to sleep again!

He is being a real trooper, and is quite perky despite admitting that it was and is pretty painful. I gave him some Arnica pillules and put some 'monkey blood' on the broken inner-lip skin. His chin has a carpet graze from the fall. I am a bit annoyed that there was no guard rail on the bed. Admittedly their children don't seem to fall out the bed, but still at this age I think it is still necessary.

It's pretty swollen and sore-looking!

Green Belt Running and Parlotones Rock

After Quinn's Army party on Saturday, I made plans with a friend to do a Sunday run on the Constantia Green Belt.

We met at the gym. She was rather late so I had already done 4km on the treadmill by the time she arrived, and was all hot and sweaty already. Still I decided to brave it anyway, but told her to be gentle on me, and that I might flake out quite quickly. The benefit of the treadmill is that I know I can stay next to her, our differing paces are not an issue, so we chat away merrily and can run or walk or go at whatever pace we are comfortable with at the time. Actual outdoors running involves compromise and cooperation... Luckily she is kind.

Anyway we set off, and amazingly I was able to chat and run. Gasp. I have certainly progressed from the days when it was all I could do not to pass out and die of a coronary if I so much as tried to break into a trot. We took it easy though as it was already 11am and very hot and dry. We probably did a 4km circuit in the end. I will definitely go running there again, as it is very lovely.

After a good shower and leaving Griffin to spend the day and night with his beloved Maxine, Quinn and I headed off to pack a picnic for our Kirstenbosch concert.

We also had to go past my rental house , which is a complete nightmare right now! I see a lawyer and suing the tenant, who has just disappeared amidst a heap of steaming lies, in my near future. Bastard! But enough about that now. If I have learned anything in the last few years, it is to detach and not treat each crisis as the end of the world. I will deal with it in due course and will not let it suck all the joy out of my life in the mean time.

So after that Quinn and I set of for Kirstenbosch. He was initially not THRILLED about going, and despite inviting heaps of people, no one else decided to go.... I half considered going back to sell our tickets and just go home, but then thought that would be boring and a real anti-climax after being so looking forward to it, so we went in anyway. I heard later that people were selling their extra tickets for R100 after they sold out. They cost R40 originally. Perhaps I should start a mini-business there. ;)

We arrived at about 3pm, and had to park miles away. These concerts really get crowded these days. Gone are the days of sauntering in at 5pm for the 5:30pm start. Anyway I like being early and having time to relax and sprawl and watching everyone else arriving, and on my goodness are there some stunning people who come out to these gigs. As well as some ridiculously over dressed and over made up girls!

We settled ourselves down and relaxed with our picnic. Watermelon, grapes, baby tomatoes, roast beef rolls with sweet mustard, blue cheese and crackers, cold shandy, and chocolate. Mmmm! Quinn is a brilliant partner, and we had lots of fun. It was quite warm, and I caught a bit of sun on my back, but it doesn't seem bad, and I think it has blended the terrible tan lines I had from my Christmas Eve toasting.

I popped of to the loo and dashed out the back, just as the band were arriving there, and almost ran into them... They were looking pretty cool. (Lindy I also saw Panic and he daughter there.)

The Parlotones were brilliant as usual. I really really like their music. I am tempted to buy the CD actually. I think they were blown away by the venue and the crowd, as they kept mentioning how awesome it was, and how it was the coolest gig they had played. The usually semi-comatose 'we are so relaxed' Cape Town crowd all got up and were really getting into the mood of the concert. Near the end the lead singer, Kahn Morbee, was so in awe he paused the concert so that he could take some photos of the crowd, with a 8000+ strong yelling of 'CHEESE!!!', followed by a 'shit! Memory card full, hang on...'. LOL.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and a great way to end the week-end.

There are more pics of the concert here.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Quinn's Army Party

We'll I am feeling rather shattered right now - hosting a party for 5-8 year olds will do that to you!

Let's see, we had no idea what to do this year, and I wasn't even sure if I was going to do a party, or when. Part of me wanted to keep it simple and just have 5 or 10 kids and go do a simple contained activity, like Ice Skating or Laser Quest or something. In the end we found some cool army party gear and decided an army party it had to be.
The cake

The result has been spending weeks scouring shops for Army related clothing, toys, balloons, guns and caps. Surfing the internet for downloadables and game ideas, making dog tags, certificates, potato hand-grenades (explained later), signage, party packs, prizes, planning activities etc etc. Not to mention staying up till 12am last night, after going out for dinner, making the cake. *yawn*

Unfortunately, even though school is only days away, many people have stretched their holiday trips right to the very end, and so we not available. Pity. Still we had 12 kids in the end, and that worked well.

Quinn has nagged me for guns for years, and I always tell him I don't do guns. Well I decided to make an exception and let him have cap guns at the party. You know those ones with the round red cap cartridges or the cap paper ribbons? Did you know that the action of squeezing the hands like firing a gun or squeezing a Windowlene bottle strengthens the hands and helps for writing?

(By the way our OT (Occupational Therapist) recommended this for Griffin, and let's face it boys would rather fire guns than wash windows. Hell so would I!!!).

So, Richard told me JUST after I finished inviting everyone (hrm) that he was leaving for week long trip to Australia today, to attend
LCA. Gee thanks! After threatening him with death, I revised my penalty saying he could get respite as long as he helps with the party preparations - and admittedly he did - and I only had to nag and tantrum a few dozen times! ;)

So, after a relatively early start this morning, especially considering my late night last night, and quick run, I had to gallop around to make sure I had everything sorted for the party, and pack the Hyundai, then dash off to take Richard to the airport, and then rush back via hi-fi corporation to get the cardboard for the forts, which Richard was meant to build *mutter* *mutter*. We then zoomed home to swap cars, cram the cardboard and cooler boxes in, realize there was no space for the kids, so pile them on top of each other & then head off to get the party set up.

We had to stop en route to buy ice, and then make another 4 stops to put up signs and direction markers and balloons to guide the party guests to the venue. We finally arrived at the venue which was half-way along the Alphen Trail green belt. A lovely setting with grass, trees, a stream, and logs etc.
I set everything up and was just getting to turning to boxes into camo forts when the guests started arriving.

Once everyone arrived each 'recruit' was issued with their dog-tags, and party pack. Then it was time to start the games. I gave each child a piece of paper, and they had to make paper jets. We then had a competition to see whose jet could fly the furthest, and which jet could land closest to a target. The winning person for each category won a prize.

Then we had arm wrestling competitions. They were very keen on this, and there was much challenging going on. Finally Mathieu and Thulani were declared joint champions and won prizes.

We took a break from the competitive games and I haded out the cap guns and caps, and the kids roared around shooting off the caps and started playing in the forts and round the streams, trees and bushes. They really had fun doing this.

Then it was time for 'dispose of the hand-grenade', which was basically a potato and spoon race, with the potatoes decorated as hand grenades.

The most fun games was '
Rescue the Wounded Soldiers' I split the kids into two groups, and they chose one person to be their injured soldier. I gave the wounded soldier painted wounded on their arms and legs and took them to the other side of the field and got them to lie down. At the sound of the whistle the rest of the group had to run to their wounded soldier and 'dress' their injuries with 'bandages' (toilet paper) until they were no longer visible. They then had to place their wounded soldire on a 'stretcher' (towel) and carry them back to the start. The winners would be the team returning with a properly bandaged soldier and who was not crying from being dropped or man handled. ;) The kids really got into this race and there was much yelling and excited co-operation to work together to get it done quickly. The competition was strong.

After the competitive games ended, we brought out the water balloons. We had about 150! I took them to the far side of the stream with the forts and the kids went wild, plowing through all the balloons in several minutes, as the saying goes you can never have too many water balloons.

After some more free play, it was time to do the cake. Most kids had been too busy playing to eat much at all, so it was nice that for a change the cake was a huge hit with kids asking for big pieces and even coming back for seconds. (So often you end up stuck with more than half a cake, and who wants to eat green and blue cake after 2 days!?). We only took a tiny piece home.

I forgot to play 'Sargeant Says' which was meant to be a variation on Simon Says, and I also forgot to hand out the certificates to the competition winners. D'oh. However I think the party went great. It would definitely have helped having Richard there to help with hosting and making sure everyone had enough to drink and eat, but hopefully everyone did.

I am also very irked that my camera batteries refuse to charge properly anymore, so despite taking **3** sets of batteries with me, I still ended up with flat batteries and missed most of the party, and some of the best photo ops. *SULK* What I did manage to get is on

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Lose weight now - ask me how!

I saw the funniest t-shirt the other day 'I gained 20lbs - ask me how!'. LOL.

So I hit the gym last night after my first day back at work. I braved the scale... closing my eyes for a few seconds afraid to see what it was going to read - and pondering just how much I would regret my holiday laziness and over indulging...

Well I was down a kilogram! And about the lowest I have been for a good few months. Go figure!? WTF???

So my diet advice - eat more, exercise less!

After that I was less inclined to be all exercise-hyper, so I did a 40 minute treadmill session and then went home to make dinner! :)

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

I'm blue and squiggly

My dear friend Dave. Made this for me (pictured below).

It is his artistic impression of me... I LOVE it. I think it is beautiful!

Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but,
until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
David Hume ("Of the Standard of Taste" Four Dissertations)
Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.

Khalil Gibran, (1883 - 1931)
Beauty is not in the face;
beauty is a light in the heart.

John Keats
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness.

and I couldn't resist this one... ;)
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.
- Spanish Proverb

Monday, 8 January 2007

The rest of our holiday

Well it's been a while since I blogged - I guess I got too busy living in the real world, and I must say that was very nice for a while.

Let's see what's happened since last time... Christmas came and went and was a nice simple and relaxed family day. I did not write a family Christmas letter, or send cards to anyone but our immediate friends and family. What can I say I was just SLACK! So sorry if you were left out, I will try to be more Martha Stewart-esque this year. ;) (Note that it is unlikely so don't get your hopes up too much!), I also didn't do the obligatory retrospective 'The Year that was' blog. Tough!

I took 2 weeks off work. We spent most of the first week after Christmas relaxing at home and enjoying our home and neighbourhood. It is really nice to do that sometimes, as during the year home seems like just a place to sleep and we really don't get to enjoy it. I liked having time to relax and just BE in my own home. We went out and about a bit and visited town, the government gardens, where we caught tadpoles for our pond - but alas they died, so there are no frogs to eat our mozzies and other bugs in our garden. We also explored the Cape Town Castle a bit. The boys hadn't seen it before.

Exercise-wise I was pretty lazy. I went to gym twice and went for run/walks a few times, but nothing strenuous or serious. I just didn't feel like it, and I decided that was fine. My holiday was all about taking a break. I also ate what I wanted when I wanted. At times going a bit overboard though! Of course I now feel a bit unfit and out of shape, but I'm sure in a few weeks it won't have made much difference, so I am not too worried.

On New Years Eve we were very undecided about what to do. I wanted to go to the Vortex/Alien Safari 3 day event (yes the semi trance bunny in me is still alive), The 5 FM Savanna Party or the Tiger Tiger event, but all would have been sans kids, and we never made a firm decision. Then we had half a plan with Richard's sister and family. At the last minute we decided to go through to our good friends in Kommetjie. They were hosting a house party. We ended up having a lovely time there, and seeing many friends we haven't seen for quite some time. A friend from Quinn's school showed up next door and ended up coming over as he was stuck with a group of boring adults, and our group of many kids and adults behaving like children looked MUCH more fun, and it was. (When I took him back at 1am they were sitting silently around a table. Weird.)

We all took drinks and snacks and various food items and ended up having quite a feast. We revelled the night away pausing at 12am to all strip and jump into the swimming pool. Picture around 15 'adults' of all shapes and sizes, tipsy and giggling trying to undress and leap into the pool discreetly as the clock struck mid-night! All the kids were still awake (3-7 year olds) and they just thought that we had all lost our minds. The visiting child was still there and I had visions of his civilised and responsible people coming to collecting him and finding our debaucherous selves sullying the children's minds as to what grown-ups get up to late at night! Still it was fun, if not frikking freezing! It was a very cold night and we didn't stay in very long. Still it got us hyped and vibey and the dancing started after that. The boys finally went to bed in their tent in the garden some time around 1:30am.

I finally threw in the towel (so to speak) at 5:30am and decided some sleep was required. At least 4 people decided to just stay up all night. Loco!

The next morning we mooched around before we mustered up the energy to get into the already packed car and drive the 5-10km to our camp site where we were going to be camping for a few nights. We went to our regular tried and tested local camp site which we love. Richard and I celebrated our 9th (!!!) anniversary, and Quinn turned 7 while we were there. It was relaxing and fun. We lay in the sun, read books, chatted, snacked, played, walked around, braaied and just had a jolly good time. The best parts were the bottle of JC Le Roux La Chanson in the afternoon and the fire roasted marshmallows stuffed with chocolate (my own invention) after dinner. OMG YUM!!!

We also took Quinn to the local mall and let him get a henna tattoo for his birthday. He loves it. He also found a scary biker-type transfer tattoo which he put on his chest and had several other spider transfers from a party, so he looks like a rabble rouser!

We took a walk to the Noordhoek Farm Village on the morning of Quinn's birthday where we had a delicious and decadent breakfast.

Then it was back home and off to Ratanga Junction for the whole of the next day. I went on 3 rides with the boys (Monkey Falls, Bushwacker and Star Gazer) and oh my, although they were fun I was petrified! I would not cope with the major adult rides like the Cobra and Conga Queen or Diamond Devil. I saw my life flashing before me and had visions of the rides malfunctioning on my turn. The boys were terrified too, but did enjoy them. After the Bush Wacker they were saying 'That was frikkin Scary!' and 'That was AWESOME' alternately. They were having so much fun and were so excited about trying rides that for possibly the first time ever I had to drag them off to eat. They were getting tired and ratty but didn't even know they were hungry (these kids normally want to eat first!), it was really funny. We were there all the way from 10am when the gates open, to after 4:30pm. The place closes at5pm, so almost the full day.

On Saturday we met up with Richard's sister and family finally, and had a lovely afternoon with them. The boys ended up going home with them to spend the night, so we went off to see a movie 'The Holiday'. It was ok, but nothing memorable.

On Sunday my plans of getting up early and going for a run were thwarted by me totally oversleeping (no boys to wake me up) and I only woke up at 9:30am and then we stayed in bed er 'drinking coffee' and finally got up at 10:15. We had to be at a Wedding by 11!

There was much scurrying around to get showered and dressed and write out a card, do nails etc etc, oh and find out where the hell the wedding actually was - all the way over in Parow. Yikes!

It was a Moslem colleague's wedding. We finally arrived at the hall at 11:25. Luckily we were not too late as the group from the Mosque were only just arriving as we got there. The wedding was HUGE and elaborate. They had 12+ people in the wedding party all with stunning dresses, including a fully dressed mini bride and groom of about 3 years old. Although I have no idea what the point of that was. The bride looked awesome in a huge full dress. She is tiny so it looked very spectacular with her impossibly minute waist. She looked very formal and demure throughout, but I noticed many of the Moslem women kept straight faces for the photos, so I am assuming that's the way it is done? There were 800 guests!!! I don't even want to know how much that cost, although I guess they save a LOT by not having alcohol.

It was an interesting cultural experience. With the Koran readings and chanting etc. Although for the first part of the chanting it felt exotic and Moroccan, but then he started wailing and all I could think of was Peter Sellers in the beginning of 'The Party'. I had to be careful not to burst out laughing. Only about 12 of the 800 people were non-Moslem! We saw one woman at the table behind us clad in full burkha, with the tiniest slit for her eyes and she was wearing glasses, so she was hardly there at all. I watched her eating and she has to take a small handful of food and then use the other hand to lift a flap of fabric to slip her food hand in so she can eat. It doesn't look very enjoyable to me at all!

After collecting the boys and going home for an evening cuddling on the couch, our holiday was over and I am back at work today. :/

Various pics are on flickr.

Happy 2007 everyone.