Update and Comment 17 February 2019

I cannot believe that the last occasion on which I wrote anything under “update” was over a month ago. As I have said before, the world seems to be literally spinning out of control when it comes to having enough hours in the day. Surely I am not the only one out there who feels like putting a huge brake on time just to be able to do so much more than we are currently doing?

Although social media has its down side, it does help to a large extent when it comes to reminding us of birthdays and anniversaries of people who are important in our lives. However, it is so much more personal to pick up the phone and give that meaningful someone a few minutes of your time instead of just joining the list of well-wishers on facebook or twitter etc. A phone call is so often extremely gratefully received and for many people can make a huge difference in an otherwise possibly lonely day. However, making these calls does take up more time than keying in a quick sms or whats app message.  All this waffling is just to justify the ridiculously long interval between my last update and this one – loads of birthdays and anniversaries of happy as well as sad occasions that needed communication have taken up quite a lot of my time recently, but I am here now!

The year has been busy so far and constantly trying to multi-task can be a challenge especially when the weather decides to get involved with non-stop rain for days on end (in a country which suffers from weeks and often months without even one drop) then things can be complicated. A leaking roof with its resultant flooding of a living room, running a business and keeping in touch with clients and associates, as well as still having all the usual mundane day to day domestic chores that need to be taken care of all sound like a good excuse for my tardiness in this instance. I will try hard not to allow this to become my usual modus operandi.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I can hear many of you saying “thank goodness!” as it does tend to be a money making racket in many instances. I heard something very interesting on a local radio programme on 14 February regarding the happiest relationships being those where the parties concerned hardly ever, if at all, post photos and personal information about themselves on social media platforms. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Well, this update is already starting to look too lengthy, so until next time – au revoir!

Just Another Day

When I woke up this morning, I could hear the rain was still coming down and it seemed to be dark outside so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep. Not for long though, as one of the people with whom I share my home decided it was time for me to get up, have breakfast and go out for an energetic run. Honestly, no peace at all for the wicked in this neck of the woods.

The constant rain of the past few days has really made me very anxious, and my behaviour has left a great deal to be desired. I find that I want to eat anything and everything I can get hold of, and this must be to do with being inside more than I would really choose to be. Still, I heard someone say that on Sunday the sun will start to shine again, so I will be able to carry on with my usual outdoor activities.

My housemates seem to have a total obsession with toilet habits. They worry about the number of times I have to relieve myself, and I hear them discussing this all the time. Can’t be normal, but I am starting to think that I am the only really normal soul in this house.  What is that saying about not being able to choose one’s family as they are foisted on you, but you can choose your friends? I don’t have any close friends at the moment, but I do interact with a bunch of like-minded individuals on a weekly basis, but this is coming to an end next week, sad to say. After that I have no idea of how my social life will continue.

I love sleeping – this could be a sign of depression perhaps? I think that it has more to do with the amount of food which I consume. I eat, do the necessary toilet things if needed, have a bit of a run, and then it’s time for another nap. I have a very high IQ and hope that I don’t sound too big headed by mentioning this. My mother was quite old when she had me, although my dad is a lot younger than her and is known as a real stud. Mum didn’t have too much patience with me right from the start and, as an only child, I suppose I have been rather spoilt by good friends of my mum. Anyway they do say that the brighter the child, often the more challenging they can be.

I looked in the mirror the other day and got quite a shock to see how my appearance is changing. My hair seems to be getting coarser and no longer as dark as when I was younger. My teeth bother me a lot and I just hope that this problem is temporary as I have the desire to chew things all day long – I don’t think this is acceptable judging by the reaction it gets from those around me. I also get so excited at times (an adrenalin rush perhaps) that I have been known to jump up and down like a deranged individual and it cannot even be blamed on a sugar overload.  I really must try to control myself or I might just end up in an institution.

I have excellent eyesight and my hearing is tops but it is my sense of smell that causes me the most concern. I can identify scents from months ago in my home and outside too and this seems to irritate people an awful lot. They just don’t appreciate how finely tuned my nose seems to be.  What would appear to be a great benefit to me is not perceived as such by anyone else. A pity when one’s talents go unnoticed or unrewarded, but that’s life isn’t it?

Although it has been pretty chilly these past few days, there have been several times when I have hovered on the edge of the swimming pool contemplating jumping in for a dip. The trouble is that, although I plan on improving my swimming skills next summer, right now I need to stay on the top step as my legs aren’t long enough to get out of the water without a helping hand – so embarrassing having to accept that kind of assistance as I am very independent by nature. I am capable of giving a great deal of affection, but I do have a tendency to often break the rules and give people a bit of a run for their money in their dealings with me. I do try to please people but it can be a lot of fun to see the frustration when I refuse to toe the line.

I can hear those wretched birds chirping outside my window, and if I weren’t so sleepy I would get out there and chase them all away. They have no respect for my garden and I just cannot understand why one of my housemates insists on feeding them all the time. I feel a bit jealous sometimes of the attention they get as I like to be top dog around here.

You probably realise now that, although my name is Kelly and I really am the most beautiful creature with an amazing intelligence, I am just a 4 month old German Shepherd puppy with a rather bad attitude much of the time!

Mind Travel

The sun was beating down, the seagulls were circling overhead making their raucous sounds, children’s excited voices could be heard coming from the distant beach but she was blissfully unaware of anything that could detract from her glorious feeling of aloneness.  Floating over the gentle waves, totally relaxed, this was the most incredible therapy. The past few months, and even years, if she was honest, had been extremely difficult in many ways. Some old friends had moved to distant shores and several had died. There had been the stress of coping with huge financial losses as well as certain health issues. On top of this, there were always decisions to be made and she loathed making decisions especially as they always tended to involve money, or the lack thereof. So very difficult to switch off and relax, but today was different.

Right now all these complications were of no consequence. She was experiencing the most incredible form of relaxation and she managed to clear her mind of every thought as it threatened to creep into her state of semi consciousness. Peace, calm, floating, floating, gently over the waves without a care in the world. This was something she should have done months before instead of trying to relax through the usual methods such as watching a movie, chatting to friends or reading a good book. Those activities used too much energy. What was needed was a mindless drifting form of relaxation. Today was absolutely perfect-just what her inner voice had been nagging her to do. Far better than trying to lie back in warm, essential oil infused bath water surrounded by fragrant candles – the persistent background noises caused by the other members of the family destroyed any true feelings of peace and harmony. Floating in the ocean away from the trials and tribulations of the real world – this was the closest thing to heaven.

What’s that ringing sound interfering with her feelings of calm? It’s going on and on. She forces herself to become aware of her surroundings and with feelings of dismay realises that she is lying on an inflatable mattress in her pool in the back garden and not floating in the ocean at all! It’s that wretched mobile phone that’s causing the disturbance to her tranquillity. Darn it – she should have turned it off, but with the possibility of business calls and potential problems with family and friends, it was usually left on twenty four hours of the day and night.  Oh well, that’s today’s mind travel episode over she says, and feeling cheated, clambers out of the sun-warmed water and forces herself, reluctantly, to get back to reality and answer the call.

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub”- Elizabeth Kubler Ross

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Short Stories

Imagination is the divine body in every man – William Blake

So often it is a short story which catches the imagination and there will be times when some of my posts are really short and, I hope, enjoyable. However, at other times I may divide a writing into several separate posts. Time seems to be the enemy of many of us, so I trust that the short writings will be received favourably by you, the valued reader, if you find there just don’t seem to be enough hours in your busy day.

Thai Green Curry

You could make your own green curry paste for this recipe. Personally, I think life is too short for that. Besides, in my opinion, you can get great curry pastes at virtually any supermarket these days. You could substitute this with a red or yellow paste if you so wish.

Ingredients

  • 750g firm white fish fillets (monkfish, dory, swordfish, yellowtail), cubed
  • 500g green beans chopped
  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 250g fresh shitake mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 Tblsp green Thai curry paste
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 can full cream coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tblsp oil
  • Fresh coriander

Method

  • Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion until golden and soft
  • add the curry paste and fry gently for a minute or so.
  • add the mushrooms, green beans, coconut milk, stock and fish sauce and simmer gently until the beans are cooked to your liking (I prefer them with a bit of crunch)
  • Season the fish pieces, add to the sauce.
  • Poach gently until the fish is nearly cooked all the way through (approx. 2-3 minutes)
  • Taste, and season if required
  • remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh chopped coriander and stir through

serve in bowls on top of steamed rice (Jasmine or basmati works)

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Winds of Change?

Introduction

I made the statement when I first began blogging that I would avoid writing about politics and religion as both these subjects tend to be extremely controversial.  However, the fact that I am passionate about people per se necessitates my having a slight change of heart.  My wish is to be able to express some feelings as well as to share my many positive experiences regarding my dealings with people from all walks of life. Some comments will, of necessity, be viewed as negative, but by the same token, I am not writing a fairy story. So, to my readers, I want to ask you not to look on this or the one or two follow-up postings as a political commentary, as this is not my aim at all. Rather, I would like this to tie in with future socially themed postings.

The entire world seems to be in chaos at present, but then hasn’t it always been to some extent? The past conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the situation regarding Basque Separatism in Spain, a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany, Trump and his attitude towards the Mexicans (building a wall to keep them out), towards China, as well as his own government, the UK debacle over Brexit and the antagonism this appears to have caused in many sectors, not only in the UK but other countries as well – the list goes on and on. The fact is that, wherever there are human beings, there will always be discrimination and conflict of one kind or another, and this is fostered more often than not by the mouthings and actions of politicians suffering from a dose of verbal diarrhoea, and hoping to enhance their own often dubious image.

In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics”. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia – George Orwell

The current South African Situation

If one is living in South Africa then politics are part and parcel of every day life, and from the poorest to the wealthiest of people, everyone seems to be very quick to want to voice their own opinion.

The politicians are having an absolute field day in destroying the legacy left by Nelson Mandela. With Jacob Zuma in power for two terms, racial tensions became absolutely rampant. All the problem areas created by mismanagement of funds and blatant  corruption were blamed on the legacy of apartheid, and ultimately the fault of White people. The truth of the matter is that the majority of Black people have been neglected over the past 25 years since the new democracy came into being and have been denied even basic, never mind quality education, adequate health facilities and job opportunities. Billions of Rands which should have been allocated for all of these areas, have been stolen by thieving politicians and their lackeys. If one is unable to read or write, how easy is it then to be convinced by the rantings of politicians that all one’s woes are due to the greed of the White population.  Fostering this kind of attitude amongst the masses is frightening to say the least. By making false promises to illiterate people regarding job creation, improved health care and adequate housing is the way in which the ruling party manages to gain and retain the votes of the majority.

We are talking about mainly Black politicians, and those currently in power, actually not giving a damn about their own people. Millions of South Africans are frustrated as the realisation kicks in  that they have been given false hope regarding a higher standard of living and job opportunities. Schools and hospitals may have been inferior in the past and things were certainly not comfortable for the majority of South Africans   but many citizens did get educated and were able to read and write and had reasonable access to health facilities which is not the case in certain parts of the country these days. Keeping people ignorant and illiterate means that you can control them as they are totally reliant on the lies and garbage spewed out of the mouths of corrupt politicians. Blaming the Whites after all these years of independence just does not make sense any more and a large number of the population which includes many of the emerging black middle class would likely attest to this as well.

 

When skin colour is inconsequential

The truth of the matter is that, for many of us living in this country, the colour of one’s skin is actually irrelevant. It’s a fact of life that human beings choose to associate with others of similar belief systems, educational levels and, often, similar economic situations. Whether you live in Europe, Australia, America or Africa, people will always gravitate to groups within which they feel comfortable and at home.  Children are born not knowing prejudice and racism is something which is learnt and not inherent.  If youngsters are given the opportunity to make their own friends within a multicultural environment, they are likely to ignore the colour of the skin of their playmates, and start a friendship based on mutual attraction.

Since Nelson Mandela was released from jail, and became our first Black president, we have all been freed. (See my earlier posting dated 29 Nov 2018 and entitled “Those early days in South Africa”) Multi-racial marriages and relationships are evidenced in many areas and no-one bats an eyelid. Obviously there will always be those fringe bigots who, for whatever sick reason of their own, are disdainful of this integration, and have no intention of trying to change their unhealthy attitudes, but that’s life. Human beings are strange animals to say the least.

Nothing is more heartening than watching small children playing together, totally oblivious of any skin tone differences.  My own daughter was fortunate enough to have the advantage of being with children of other races for most of her school career – due to the change in policies in this country. She made friends with an African boy and they went through most of primary as well as high school together. After school they both pursued legal careers and their university years were spent at the same institution. When it came time to do their internship, both of them were handpicked by one of the most prestigious law firms in the country.  Despite her friend moving over to another company several years ago, they are still in touch with one another and their friendship has always been based on mutual respect and actually liking one another.

In politics stupidity is not a handicap – Napoleon Bonaparte

An experience of a lifetime

For many of us who remember the oppressive apartheid years, there were also many occasions where a person’s race was of no consequence. I would like to tell you about the following situation. My daughter wanted to do a speech about Nelson Mandela for a school project and had no idea how to get the relevant information. This was shortly after Nelson Mandela had been released from prison, so there was no googling to help her. When she told us about her choice of subject, her father actually suggested that we try phoning the ANC head office for help. She was only about 12 years old at the time, so I offered to do the phoning for her although I was very dubious about getting any help whatsoever.  Imagine my surprise when the phone was answered immediately and, when the person who answered heard what the call was about, gave me the home number of Walter Sisulu, who held the position of deputy president of the African National Congress.  I was flabbergasted as there is no way that during the years of the white Nationalist party being in power, anyone would have given out the home telephone number of any of the top dogs.

I rang the number and Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, his wife, herself answered. I explained about the speech and what my daughter needed to find out and I was told that she was busy cooking dinner for the family but if my little girl called at 7pm she would be able to help her.  True to her word, the conversation between the two of them carried on for about an hour and my daughter had the most incredible amount of information to put into her speech for which she got top marks. The point is this, that here was a woman who had fought for the rights of Black people her entire life, had been arrested on many occasions due to her political involvement  and had every right to be anti-establishment and perhaps even anti-white, prepared to help a young white girl with a school project. Colour was of no importance, it was about an adult with the necessary facts being prepared to help a child with a school project.  This is one of the many highlights of life spent  in South Africa over the years.

When Ma Sisulu (as she was affectionately known throughout most of her life, by many South Africans) died several years ago, there were many tributes to her being posted in the local newspapers. I felt that I had to add my bit, and wrote a short letter describing my experience, regarding the communication between me, the lady in question and my daughter. I was thrilled when I saw that my letter had been published but what happened next took me totally by surprise.  A day or two later I received a call from one of the top television studios in the country asking me to appear on a popular afternoon show in honour of Albertina Sisulu. The presenter had asked her production team to try to get hold of me and somehow they had managed to locate my contact details.  My daughter at the time was on secondment at a legal firm in London. It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I accepted the invitation and, through linking up via satellite with my daughter, she was able to recount her memories of her conversation with Ma Sisulu as well. What an absolute privilege that proved to be.

From the moment I arrived at the television studios, I was the only White person there.  From the young woman who met me, to the well-known presenter of the talk show, to the technicians – all were Black people.  I was looked after amazingly and the entire experience is one which I will never forget. The only fly in the ointment was my make-up for the programme. When I looked in the mirror, I was a bit disturbed to say the least, but who am I to know what makeup must be like for a live broadcast.  I realised later that it may have been the first time that the make-up artist had to sort out a white face. I looked horrendous, but for the partially sighted, my voice sounded great – and my daughter was live from London, so the make-up for her wasn’t an issue! All in all yet another situation where colour was totally irrelevant. A true feel good experience all round.

I have so many other incidents and anecdotes which I intend to add under this subject heading in the coming weeks, and hope they will be positively received by you, the reader.

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Moving On

Moving On

Sitting by the window, she allowed her mind to wander. She found her thoughts filled with nostalgic memories, and the dreary look of the early winter garden did nothing to cheer her mood. She loved the crisp winter days, but this bleak, still, grey weather made her miserable.  She remembered the day over 23 years ago, when she had brought him home from the hospital – a beautiful, big, blonde baby boy. How the years have flown, she mused. No longer so blonde and the baby fat all gone, he had become a good looking young man with light brown hair. A fledgling who had left the nest to try spreading his wings. She was the last person to think of clipping those wings. She had encouraged the move, knowing the importance to their relationship of letting go. Possessive mother was not part of her makeup.

She loved him dearly, but the past few months had been fraught with frustrations on her side. She had begun to feel used, and somewhat abused by his apparent selfishness. Passing his open door and viewing the mess within had made her fight to control her anger. She knew this was all a part of the cycle – outgrowing the family home and no longer having any regard for family rules. Shouting didn’t help matters. It just caused her to feel exhausted and nothing was gained. Finally, he mentioned his hopes of getting a flat of his own to rent.  All of a sudden there seemed to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel! Could it be possible that, before those men in white coats came to take her away, her sanity would be saved?

He had been an easy child with a good sense of humour. The teenage years had often proved to be challenging, as any confrontation seemed to end with the slamming of doors and the threat of running away. She blamed this behaviour on his father’s genes! She took the credit for his love of socialising and his sharp wit. Funny how easy it is to pass the buck for one’s children’s shortcomings! She was proud of his accomplishments. He had worked hard for the past five years and was beginning to find his feet. Soon he would be able to consider making a down payment of a home of his own.  No doubt marriage would be the next big step. The cycle would start all over again with the birth of his first child, just as it had the day he was born.

She had to force herself not to feel depressed. After all, this was the beginning of his true independence, so why was she feeling sorry for herself? For the first time in years, she had a room to pursue her arts and crafts and how she had yearned for that moment! It must be the weather that was making her feel down. Exercise would do the trick. She dragged herself from her thoughts and started changing into a tracksuit. Running the dogs always managed to cheer her up.

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