Saturday, December 31, 2005

HaPpY nEw YeAr!!!

The sun is setting on the last day of 2005, I guess now is as good a time as any to reflect on the year gone by.

It began on a boat on the Sundays River in South Africa, and will end it where I live just north of Dublin, Ireland.

For me it was a bit of a rough year. Emotionally & mentally I've been to hell and back... the good news being that I'm on the home stretch back to being my old, happy, bubbly self. The best news being that no matter how bad I got, Hubby never gave up on me. Even when I couldn't stand being around me, he hung in there and loved me and stood by me and now I'm more in love with him than ever.
OK that's the soppy bit over.

So what else happened this year?
I won a small prize for a short story I wrote;
I saw the most beautiful sunset on earth on the stunning island of Santorini;
I climbed a volcano;
I sang karaoke for the first time;
I got the job I wanted;
I went to Rome and saw the Colosseum;
I spent four wonderful days with my mother and sisters in Paris;
I discovered a whole new world when I started Blogging;

Wow, it's hard to believe with all that good stuff going on, I still managed to be something of an emotional basket-case.
Oh well, I guess that just reinforces what I've learned this year and that is that there are no rules to life.

But things are looking up and I'm moving into the new year with a good, healthy, happy and positive outlook on life.

May the new year bring you all peace and happiness.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's astounding; time is..fleeting...

Well that's it for another year. Christmas has been and gone. We all survived our little trip to Cork - my friends' house is still standing and there were no major incidents, no heads bitten off, no broken bones and no family feuds. In fact it all went rather well.

We loaded ourselves, our luggage and the gifts into the car on Saturday morning and hit the road around 7am while it was still dark and early enough to miss the worst of the traffic. (Traffic? What traffic? Half way there I was beginning to wonder if we had the right weekend!) No complaints though, we made good time and didn't even have to shout once at the 3 youngsters in the back for misbehaving. Yay MP3-players!!!

And so we arrived on Christmas Eve on a cold but sunny afternoon and it wasn't long before the cooking started.
Er, well, okay, mostly I sat and watched my friend cook 'cos she's really good at it (me... not so much) and she made a really awesome roast duck (Jamie Oliver would've been pleased - it was his recipe) for Christmas Eve dinner.

The table looked beautiful and so did the little tree sparkling in the corner as it kept watch over all the presents.

Since we had bribed the kids into behaving so well during the day, we opened some of the presents after dinner, but the rest we left for Christmas morning. There was much excitement and ripped paper, mixed with small moments of sadness for each of us at different times of the day, because although we were together, we were all, I think, missing someone far away at home at some point. But it was hard to stay sad with Christmas songs pouring non-stop from the CD-player and the wonderful smells of a late afternoon Christmas banquet permeating every nook and cranny of the house.

Finally, having fed the hordes, cleaned the kitchen and distributed all gifts, my friend and I spent that evening in the kitchen with the door closed and the music on; Hubby walked in on us doing the Time-Warp dance and singing our lungs out to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a bottle of wine and a bottle of Baileys down, and well into a bottle of whiskey... well he just smiled a little nervously and then backed out of the room slowly again... we didn't see anyone else for the rest of the night, hehe! Hey, a girl's gotta have some fun right?!

On Tuesday, with cabin-fever beginning to set in, we jumped in the cars and went off to visit Blarney Castle not too far away and spent the day wandering around the ancient castle and the beautiful gardens surrounding it. I had a whale of a time snapping away with my camera as it turned into another sunny day, although near-freezing.

Coffee and desserts warmed us up afterwards in a little restaurant in the village of Blarney and then the boys went home while we three girls faced the madness of the first day of the Blarney Woolen Mills sale. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to round off a perfect day :-)

And now we're back home again. After all the build-up to Christmas it's hard to believe it's all over so suddenly and in just a few days a new year begins. I'm sure all the bah-humbuggers will be pleased they can relax again for the next 11 months.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For you, at Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year
well thank the Lord for that
'cos all the Happy Christmas cheer
could make a girl quite fat;
With turkey, cake and cranberry sauce,
a drop of wine or two
and Christmas pudding too, of course
Well what's a girl to do?

And then there's all the other stuff,
like what to buy for who;
D'you think she'll like the pink earmuffs
or should I get the blue?
The Christmas party's been arranged
but oh, what will I wear?
This shopping's making me deranged -
I'm coming through, beware!

But now that all the gifts are wrapped
and underneath the tree,
'Tis time for us to all relax
in peace and harmony;
And as I sit and contemplate
this year and all it brought,
I hope that it is not too late
to share with you this thought:

I found myself in Cyberspace
a few months back, you see;
and in the process found a place
in Blogland, just for me.
I've made some very special friends
and had a lot of laughs
You're always there to listen when
the world gets grim and dark

So even though we've never met
I still would like to say
I'll think of you with sentiment
this coming Christmas day.
Have fun out there where'er you are,
be safe, where'er you go
and put away the Humbug's Bah,
It's Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Since things are about to get really busy and what with everyone going away and being off work etc, blog postings will be a bit on the erratic side for a while, I guess.
So I'll say it now before we all disappear for the holidays.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Missing Muse Monday

I think my muse has gone on vacation. I got nothing, zip, zero, nada.

Although I guess I could tell you about a small incident on the weekend when my stepson asked me, in the middle of a crowded street while we were doing Christmas shopping,
"Terri, what's a douche?"

Yikes!!! That's the last time I let them watch South Park!

Hubby just carried on walking like he hadn't heard the question.

"Tell ya what, son, I'll tell you when we get home, okay?"
Fortunately by the time we got home he appeared to have forgotten. I hope.
Or maybe he took one look at my face and decided to ask Google instead.
Sheesh, this parenting thing is harder than it looks!

Or I could tell you about our company's Christmas Party on Friday night. They had a disco (do they still call it a disco?), a hot meal, pool tables, roulette wheel, a bar - you name it. It was almost enough to fool us into believing we weren't still in the building we work in.

Some of the women really dressed up for the occasion - there were enough Little Black Numbers to put the Academy Awards to shame.
And then there was me, in jeans and a long-sleeve black T-shirt.
Boy, did I get that one wrong!
On the other hand, I did become something of a legend by putting to rest all the myths about girls not being able to play pool. Misspent youth and all that, hehe!

When I'd had my fill of free beer we wandered up to a pub to have farewell drinks with the guy who I've been sitting next to at work for the past few months. That was sad. I hate it when people I like leave the company - it upsets the equilibrium of my little world.
[Me? Self-centered? Never!]

On the plus side, though, I finally have my own desk again. It's been a slight case of musical chairs for a while - the department seems to be a bit short on desk space. So I may have lost a buddy, but I've gained a desk.
[Ah, the universe is in balance again...]

Yep, I staked my claim this morning by planting my miniature South African flag in my pen-holder on my desk. Did you hear that? My desk :-)

And now we're gearing up to gear down for Christmas.
I would almost believe that if I didn't have such a typical Monday morning today - almost missed the train, there was no milk in the coffee-machine at work, and one of the servers had crashed over the weekend bringing down 3 systems, and a fourth was being damn obstinate by not working just for the hell of it.
Great way to ease into the week.
Ever get the feeling you should've just stayed in bed?

But... I got my own desk :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The trouble with ships...

Just when I thought our ship was about to come in, someone torpedoed it in the harbour.

I rang the Revenue office today to find out about something called Rent Relief whereby you get a tax rebate if you're renting the place you live in - which we are - so I thought this would be quite a good thing. Instead, I find out that
someone has made a mistake on our tax assessment for the last four years and we were erroneously given a tax allowance of double what we were supposed to get.

Me: So... what are you telling me?
Tax Guy: Well we're gonna have to recalc'late all the years from 2002 and you're gonna end up with a liability.
Me: A liab... you mean we owe you guys money?
Tax Guy: Eh, yeah. Sorry.

Sorry? Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgghhh!

OK, reality check - did I really think the Revenue Commissioner would agree to paying me money?

Although, you'd think someone would have noticed, oh, say, maybe, FOUR YEARS ago when the mistake was made!!
But no, it's much better for it to be discovered by accident right before Christmas, when we're going to be needing every penny we have because oh yes, did I mention we were starting to look at buying a house soon?

That's right folks, me and Hubby, in the interests of our offspring / step-offspring, will be hanging around this manky ol' town for a while longer and have thus decided to join the ranks of the millions of people worldwide who have sold their souls (and just about everything else) for some bricks and mortar and a touch of permanence.

Mind you, it would be nice for me to be allowed to hang a picture if I want to, without worrying about whether or not we'll lose our deposit for making a hole in the wall.

I feel defeated.
Does this count as a Bah Humbug moment?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wicked Stepmother Diaries #2

Paranoia is beginning to set in. Things are too quiet. I arrived home from work yesterday evening and decided I would continue with Operation Child Labour in order to keep them out of mischief, by issuing a list of chores for them to do while I was at work today.
But before I could even take a breath to suggest who should do what, I was drowned out by a chorus of:
"I vacuumed the floors today!"
"I dusted and did another load of washing today!"
"I scrubbed the toilet today..."
...although the last one was said with a lot less enthusiasm than the others, hehehe!

Okay then.

They then proceeded to cook supper - pancakes (which we'd call "wraps" in Ireland) with a savoury mince filling. And darn good they were too :-)

But people, this is waaaaay too good to be true. Think about it: It's not natural! They must be planning something - some dreadful trap for me. I'm going to go home one day and find they've sold everything in the house for crack money or something I'm sure of it... unless either
a) they are actually scared witless by their Wicked Stepmommy, or
b) it is all a ruse and they are planning some terrible fate for me, or
c) somewhere along the line we (the adults in their lives) did something right and they're genuinely the good little people they appear to be.
I'm hoping for "c"...

Mind you, it's not as if they're quiet as mice either. There was a definite squealing noise emerging from the lounge area as I opened the front door coming home yesterday and I am a little afraid to look too closely into the spare room as I suspect the floor may be disappearing under a pile of clothes. Oh well, what they eye doesn't see....

But they have provided us with some laughs.
The two lads spent all the pocket money we gave them in the first week. On the 3rd day I got home to great excitement - they'd hopped on a bus and gone shopping (yes, just the 2 boys) and guess what they had bought...

Yellow Bob-the-Builder style plastic hard-hats with a can-holder on each side and a straw so you can drink out the cans perched next to their ears. Because, of course, everyone should have one.

Mind you, at least now with no more pocket money to spend on M&M's there won't be so many sugar-rushes to contend with for a while. At least until their willpower falters and they strip the beautiful tree of its decorative chocolates.

Anyway, I just thought I should mention that if I suddenly and mysteriously disappear from Blogland one day you will know that my paranoia was not unfounded and hubby and I will have been sold into slavery by three young crack-heads brilliantly disguised as my loving stepchildren and nephew ...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Deck the halls..!

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Actually, 'twas 14 nights before Christmas, but let's not get hung up on the details.

I figured after all my cheer-spreading and ho-ho-ho'ing (minds out of the gutter, people!) it was time to deck my own halls, so today we braved the freezing winter to bring a tree home. OK, it wasn't quite so dramatic - the sun was shining and it was actually quite pleasant outside. As pleasant as 5 degrees can be anyway.

And since our nearest and dearest are rather far away, sizzling away in the South African sun (!*$#&!) I thought I would share some of the joy of our Day of Decoration.

First there was our very own Talking Tree - because it is The Dad's job to get the lights working:

Young Grinch-In-Training had a minor sense of humor failure when we told him the Angel On Top had to wait until the very end of the Tree Decorating Ritual:

Mother Christmas's little (?) helper was clearly charmed at my choice in music (Imagine 100 Greatest Christmas Hits pumping out of the CD player... you get the picture!)

Ah, Mother Christmas and her little helper - can you feel the joy yet?!

The Angel is brought to her perch at last. Poor thing - it doesn't look very comfortable but Young Grinch-In-Training was placated somewhat.

The epitome of the Christmas spirit: Two little elves in front of the tree:

Ta-Da! The finished product.

I tell you, by the end of it all the whole lot of 'em were as happy and excited as I was. I'm a sucker for Christmas and all the kitsh it involves. In fact they were so motivated they all went off and wrapped presents immediately, complete with little Christmas tags.
Yes, even Hubby, which is a minor miracle... I've been known to wrap my own gift from him in the past, lol!

But then I think they got all joy-ed out because the Young Grinch-In-Training felt a sudden overwhelming urge to fire up a PC game and go shoot something, while the rest have become engrossed in an episode of The Simpsons.


If you're looking for some light reading to go with your morning cuppa, feel free to mosey on over to Terristories for my latest attempt at fiction.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Batty Maths 101

Below is an excerpt from Dublin's "Herald AM" newspaper yesterday, Wednesday 7 December 2005:

"Big testicles go together with tiny brains, according to a new study.
The discovery - which many women may not find that surprising - suggests that a biological trade-off has to be made between brains and sperm.
Because of the high energy demands, males cannot generate large numbers of both, scientists believe.
In the study of bats, females are unusully promiscuous, so natural selection pressure has led to males evolving enormous testicles, at the expense of their brains. The genitals of some make up 8.5% of their body mass.
In comparison, the testicles of apes range from 0.02% to 0.75% of body mass. Researchers found the link between testicle and brain size after looking at 334 different bat species.

Does this mean that we can assume that men who drive flashy cars are also intelligent, since it is generally accepted that a flashy car makes up for being, er, small?

I mean, if A=B and B=C then surely A=C right?

if big 'nads = tiny brains
small 'nads = flashy car
surely flashy car = big brain

Actually one can take this a little further by saying that flashy cars tend to cost a lot of money and in general you need a bit of smarts to make enough money to afford them, so really this is just proving the theory.

So ladies, spread the word - our choices are this:

Clever guy with flashy car who is under-endowed
dumb guy who can give you hours of pleasure in the sack (remember, he will probably be in good shape from having to walk everywhere 'cos his heap o'trash car keeps breaking down).

I guess this is where we tell ourselves it's his personality that counts?!

Oh well, I'm off to mourn the death of my Batman fantasies now...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Did you hear that? Someone put the fire out.

Cartoon courtesy of Nicholson of "The Australian" newspaper:

You may recall that I have mentioned before that for as long as I remember I have had an irrational fear of fire. I've always kept a 'safe' distance from BBQ fires and it took me years to get over my nervousness when making chips on the stove in hot oil.
[It didn't help, I suppose, that the first time I made chips I cut the potatoes then left them in water so they didn't go brown while the oil was heating... do you know what happens when you drop water in hot oil? Splutter, pop, splash - now imagine what happens when you dump a big scoop of dripping wet chips in hot oil. Exactly!]

The most ridiculous example of how irrational my fear is occurred around the age of 18 or 19, when I attended a flat-warming party on the 5th floor of a block of flats. There was no furniture in the place and the hosts had decided on a fondue, so they set up 4 fondu pots in one of the rooms. Since there were a lot of people there, we ate in shifts, and once I'd had my fill I moved into the next room, and just after that I heard some kind of commotion. I turned around to see that someone had knocked one of the fondue pots over. I could see the front door from where I stood, but running across the floor between me and the front door was about a 3-inch high flame where the oil had spilled out and was burning on the floor - truly a tiny little streak flame, easy enough to step over to get out and really, it wasn't anywhere near an emergency situation.
But there was NO WAY I was going to be "stepping over" any burning anything, oh no... I started edging towards the window. That's right - 5 floors up and I was getting ready to jump, rather than step over a tiny flame no higher than my ankle.
Daft, I know.
Anyway, they put the fire out and all was well - my sister, who was with me at the time, thought it was hilarious and of course even more so because the first thing I did was light a cigarette to calm my nerves.

So now you may have a small notion of the kind of fear I'm talking about.

And all these years, I have not been able to find a reasonable explanation for my unreasonable fear. Until one day it dawned on me.
There could only be one plausible reason: I must have been Joan of Arc in my previous life - you know, the whole burning-at-the-stake thing!
Yep, that had to be it.

Well, that was it. Until very recently when I wrote a post about Christmas, and my mother left a comment: "P.S. Do you remember when the tree caught fire?"

Er, well, actually no, not really. Nothing past a vague recollection of something she told me once.
So I asked her for the details, and this was her reply:

"Well you see - it all has to do with the fact that your German grandparents liked to remember the old days when they had candles on their Christmas tree. The only thing was that this was an artificial Christmas tree - not a good combination with real candles - especially when nobody noticed how small the candles were getting! Suddenly the tree was alight. Fortunately, Christmas being in the middle of Summer in this part of the world, the sliding door was standing wide open - the tree was dispatched onto the front lawn in great haste and stomped upon. The most disappointing thing about the episode was that most of the beautiful and very delicate tree ornaments which came from Germany many years before, were crushed along with the flames. I wonder if this is the root cause of your fear of fire - come to think of it, it must have been pretty traumatic for you - you must have been all of about 3 or 4 years old. So that's the story."*

So I guess that puts paid to my Joan of Arc theory, huh?!

*Thanks for the contribution, Ma!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Wicked Stepmother Diaries #1

And before you ask, the answer is No! I don't know if there will be a part 2, etc. so stop asking! I can't take the pressure...!!!


Nah it's not so bad. Mind you, they've only been here a day and a half, lol!

The step-kids and their cousin arrived Saturday night, tired & weary and I was so excited about seeing them I could barely contain myself.
Although the giant mock-snowman seated in the waiting area of the arrivals hall put a slight damper on my exuberance because man, that thing is scary! Or maybe it was just me, because the children who were climbing all over it didn't appear to be bothered by the enormous fake-carrot-nose or the slightly cracked paint that made him look, to me at least, like the Michelin Man gone wrong. Perhaps I have an over-active imagination, or maybe I've seen too many horror movies.
But I digress.

My first Stepmommy meal served was takeaway pizza. Yes I know it's not exactly the stuff of a balanced diet but their plane landed late and we were all hungry and it was the best I could come up with at short notice. Don't fuss, I made up for it by cooking a roast chicken last night. Thank goodness my stepdaughter can cook otherwise that's all we would have had - she made the rice & veggies to go with it ;-)

That's right - she cooks, she does laundry, and yesterday she gave me a French Manicure. Plus, she loves shopping as much as I do - this is getting better and better!

We laid down the ground rules after supper on Saturday night and left the option open to add to or amend them as and when necessary.
One is now the Master of the Washing Machine.
One is the Master of the Dishwasher.
One is the Master of Taking Out the Trash.
Yep, hubby's talent for delegation has certainly come in handy.

I'm actually thinking of hanging onto more than one at the end of their five weeks' holiday - and why not? They even make a decent cup of coffee!

And y'know what? On Saturday night hubby and I both slept really, really well - there was something decidedly comforting about knowing that our little family was all together under one roof.

All together now: "Aaaah sweet!"

Regular broadcasting from the Terri you have all come to know and fear so well will resume just as soon as her soft heart has been put safely back in it's box.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It always seems like a good idea at the time...

In a fit of girly-ness and because it didn't feel so very freezing cold when I woke up this morning I decided it would be a good day to once again brave the world in my skirt. Of course the skirt is not complete without my black suede boots. They look stunning together, if I may say so myself.
But... apparently suede boots are not waterproof. I know this now and in future will remember to check the barometer before I decide to give in to my feminine side. The barometer is never wrong - if it says it's going to rain, it will rain.
This morning, although I didn't actually check it, I'll bet it said "Don't even think about leaving home without your brolly!"
Fortunately I NEVER leave home without my brolly.
Unfortunately I was wearing my lovely suede boots.
Fortunately I still had a spare pair of shoes under my desk at work (they are too uncomfortable to walk very far in so in Summer I wear comfy shoes to get to work and then change into the pretty shoes when I get there) because after wading through the puddles between the station and the office my pretty suede boots were soaked through and my toes were wet.

It's okay, though, because the shoes actually look quite good with the skirt too. I hope the boots are dry by the time I leave work this afternoon though. Putting on wet shoes is not fun, no matter how pretty they are.

But enough about the ups and downs and ins and outs of my feet.

I have something of an announcement today.


In two days' time my stepchildren and their cousin arrive for a 5-week visit. Yay! But you knew that already.
What most of you don't know yet is that it would appear I am about to become full-time stepmom to my 15-year old stepdaughter.
That's right, full-time.
Yes, it looks like she's coming to live with us for good.
{nervous giggle}
I'll give you a moment to stop laughing and pick yourselves up from the floor.
May I continue?
Thank you.

So I bet there are those of you out there wondering What The Hell Am I Thinking???
You may be right.
I may be crazy.
But it just may be a lu-natic you're looking for...
Sorry, got distracted there for a moment - wasn't Billy Joel fabulous?

Back to my announcement. Questions, questions, so many questions...
1: Terri, what the hell are you thinking?
Well yes, I know I made a choice in life to not have children, but see, the step-kids are kind of my loophole. 'Cos actually I love them a LOT and I would do pretty much anything for them - I've known them since they were wee brats. The first time I met them I arrived at their Dad's house and jumped into the swimming pool fully clothed. It was really hot and I had just driven from Jo'burg to PE - around 1000km - by myself and all I wanted was to cool off. Well at ages 4 and 5 they thought this was just the coolest thing ever... and I eventually became the coolest Stepmom ever.
So when she said she had decided that it would the best thing for her to finish her education over here in Ireland, saying "No" never really entered my mind.
So yes, I have had the occasional moment of sheer panic at the thought, but on the whole, I'm quite excited about having her here full-time.

2: Terri, what the hell do you know about raising 15-year-old girls?
Now come on, people, surely you must realise that I was once a 15-year-old girl myself! How hard can it be? Er, no, I haven't forgotten. Not at all. In fact I remember like it was yesterday. Which means I know what she's thinking, hehe. No wool is gonna be pulled over my eyes, no way, uh-uh!
(Ah, be nice now, let me live in my little fantasy world, okay?)

3. Terri, do you have any idea of the impact this is going to have on your life?
A small one, yes. For example, this probably means I'm going to have to learn to cook again. Mind you, she's 15 - surely she can cook? And iron? And scrub toilets... hey, this might actually turn out to be a really good move, mwahahahaha!

But yes, seriously, this could be a really huge change in our lives.
We will have to schedule our holidays to fit in with the school holidays.
We will have to move house - a 2-bedroomed apartment is just not going to cut it.
Which means we will be looking at buying a house.
Since she has 3 years left of school, we will be staying in Ireland at least another 3 years, instead of thinking about going back to SA a year from now.

Phew! I think that list is big enough for now, don't you?!

On the other hand, she will be here, with us, and it will mean that much less heartbreak at being separated from the people we love.

So in my mind it will all be balanced out.

Now, does anyone know where I can buy a nice, sturdy chastity belt...?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Shades of Autumn

OK so technically it's Winter already but the road that runs into our little village still holds the colours of Autumn and this weekend I finally remembered to bring my camera along so that I could try and capture them before the leaves are all gone and all that is left is grey.

Pretty, dontcha think?

Friday, November 25, 2005

'Tis the Season

The first thing I heard this morning was the DJ on the radio saying cheerfully, "It's been snowing all night and traffic is chaos so make sure you leave yourself extra time to get to work this morning."
So naturally, I expected to be greeted by the sight of at least 3 feet of snow when I left the apartment.
Instead, it looked like an angel had burst a bag of icing sugar over Dublin during the night. The rooves, window-sills and cars, the railway sleepers and the stones in between on the tracks, were all dusted with a fine layer of white powder that more closely resembled icing-sugar than snow.
But yes, traffic was chaos. I again thanked the gods of public transport for the commuter train, which fortunately was unafflicted by asshole passengers this morning.

Do you remember what I said at the beginning of the week, about Balance? How I wondered what was in store to balance out the beautiful weekend we had?
Well, I think this might be it.
Reasonably chilly has given way to Friggin' Freezing. Walking home last night I felt the icy fingers of a winter wind clawing at my face and I stopped for only a moment to enjoy the sight of the Christmas lights that were turned on in the village for the first time this season, before scurrying home, buried deep inside my coat, hat, scarf and gloves.

This morning by the time I got to work all my energy had been used up just keeping warm, so I allowed myself a nice warm croissant with butter and strawberry jam from the canteen, with my coffee at my desk. Yes, I had breakfast twice. I needed the fuel. Sue me.
I am now happy and warm - much better for everyone, I'm sure you'll agree, than a cold, hungry, miserable Terri. We all know what she can be like...!

And then it hit me: In exactly one month it will be Christmas! I was overcome by a sudden urge to sing "Jingle Bells" but fortunately I had a mouthful of croissant at the time so was physically unable to burst into song, and the urge passed quickly when panic set in because I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet!

But you know what? That's okay. Why? Because I'm too excited to let stuff like that bother me. Next weekend my stepchildren and their cousin arrive from SA for a 5-week visit with us and for me that is the best present any of us could hope for. Having not seen them since January, I also have no idea what they would like from Santa this year... okay, I may not be able to get away with the whole "from Santa" thing anymore since they range in age from 13 to 16... anyway, the point is we can all go shopping when they get here.
And boy! Christmas shopping is fun in this part of the world!

Yes, there is an over-proliferation of Christmas jingles played in every shop you enter.
Yes, it is dark from just after 4 in the afternoon until 9 the next morning.
Yes, it is freezing cold (in fact, it's snowing at this very moment).

But Christmas in a cold climate is beautiful!
The long nights are broken by bright lights and decorations everywhere, and if you go into town there are groups of Carrollers on every corner and you just can't help getting swept up in the spirit of things.

I know I have a tendency to "Bah Humbug" the whole thing, but I must confess, I love Christmas.
I love having the family together to enjoy a special meal - it's the one day of the year I don't mind cooking a great big meal.
I love buying and wrapping the presents, and putting the little gift tags on the paper.
I love decorating the Christmas tree, right down to watching Hubby getting annoyed trying to find the one light on the string that is making the whole lot not work - because there is always one, you know ;-)
I even have a double CD of Christmas songs to play in the background while we're eating and then unwrapping the presents.

For me, Christmas happens on Christmas Eve. We always celebrated it then when I was growing up, a legacy of my German family roots. Christmas day was spent with the other side of the family. But Christmas Eve was always the best and I'm convinced it was because everything looked more beautiful and exciting when it was dark outside.

That is what Christmas means to me. It's not the presents, or fighting off crowds of shoppers or stressing about giving or getting the perfect gift.
It is about being with the people you love and enjoying the time together.
It is about making memories that the children will remember with warmth and fondness when they grow up, the same way I remember my own childhood Christmases.

So the next time you're tempted to Bah Humbug Christmas, grab a glass of eggnog and chill out. It only comes but once a year - enjoy it while you can!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Recipe for disaster?

- A decision that I need to be more assertive in life.
- A pet hate of bullies, or being bullied in any shape or form.
- A high level of irritibility
- A percieved bully
Mix together on a dark, cold winter morning when caffeine levels are particularly low in a commuter train.
Stand well clear.

Some years back a friend of mine insinuated that I have a 'weak' character. I believe her exact words to me were, "I am much stronger than you." Knowing her as I did, I decided against arguing with her at the time, for a few reasons. You see, I knew nothing I said would change her opinion so I figured it would be a waste of energy to push the point. I don't like arguing with people like that. I don't like arguing, period. In my heart, I felt she was wrong and that it takes a different kind of strength to ignore silly disputes, not make issues out of them, and just say ,"Yeah, whatever" and move on. I felt I was right. But perhaps she saw that aspect of my personality - staying silent instead of arguing - as weakness. Who knows?
The trouble is, a few years down the line, it has come to my attention that it is not always in my best interests to avoid confrontation and conflict at all costs. Over the years, continually keeping quiet about things has caused a certain amount of internal conflict and, I suppose, a fair bit of anger to build up. It's not healthy to keep it all in, all the time. This is something I am trying to work on... being more assertive - not necessarily aggressive, mind you - but just making myself heard... so as to avoid the volcano effect, where one day I end up completely blowing my top due to a major shift far beneath the surface, y'know?

Don't ask me how, but I am aware that this ties in somehow with my intense dislike of bullies. Nothing annoys me more than people who force themselves or their opinions on other people. In the same way a Staffordshire Terrier has no concept of size and will tackle the biggest dog around in the course of defending what they see as their domain, there have been times when I have stood up to people twice my size when they have tried to bully me or anyone I care about. Oddly enough, bullies normally back down immediately if you stand up to them.

This is my belief.

So, fast forward to this morning;
It was dark;
It was freezing cold (literally ... 1 below zero when I left home to walk to the train);
My irritation levels had started going up yesterday already, partly due to hormones, I'm sure, and partly due to people like the blonde bimbette who started yesterday morning off by pushing in front of me in the queue for tickets. Yes, I know - get over it, right?
Only, the trouble is, once the irritation levels start to rise, they tend to increase exponentially with every minor annoyance that crosses my path. I'm sure at least some of you know what I'm talking about.

Back to this morning on the train...
I was as comfortable as I could be in my seat next to the window, half-dozing as I listened to my MP3 player. A girl sat down opposite me, and her boyfriend plonked himself on the seat next to me. A large lad, he then proceeded to bump me a few times as he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets... which of course made him expand sideways even further.
And suddenly I wasn't comfortable anymore.

The man was In My Space.
I pushed myself as far into the corner by the window as possible, but I still couldn't sit back in my seat without feeling him rubbing against my shoulder.
Hoping to drop the hint that he was crowding me, I shot him a dirty look or two.
No dice.

You know that feeling when something annoys you, and the more you think about it the more your blood begins to boil, and you find you're clenching your jaw and your heart starts beating faster and you hear a rushing noise in your ears and you realise you're Getting Really Angry Now...?
Well, I do, and I did.
At which point something inside my head decided in its infinite wisdom that what this neanderthol was doing was in fact a form of bullying.
This guy thought that just because he was bigger than me, he could do what he liked and push me out of my space.

Hence, the recipe for disaster was born.

Actually, I thought I was quite polite, all things considered.
I yanked the earphone out of my ear and asked him if he'd like to swap seats, that way he could sit opposite his girlfriend and quit squashing me against the window. The way I saw it, I would then have an aisle seat which would leave me more room to move and he'd be able to see her more clearly, or whatever.
But of course the dumb asshole took offense and said something like,
"Oh if I was squashin' ya against da winda' ya'd know about it, I promise ya!"

Er, does that sound like a threat to you?
'Cos it did to me.

Now, I'd like to tell you how I felled him with one swift, well-placed blow, but I would, in fact, be lying.

As tempting as it was [I actually had one of those "Ally McBeal" moments where I visualised myself beating his head to a pulp with my bare hands], I did the prudent thing instead, and as calmly as I could I just explained my reasoning again.
[Also, I had realised by then that he was probably about 6'4" and not exactly a weenie, despite the glasses]

You know, I got the distinct impression he was pissed off - in fairness, I probably would have been if I were in his place, but I really did feel justified - but I also felt in my gut that he was trying to intimidate me for speaking my mind in public. Only, it didn't work. I don't get intimidated by bullies, I get angry.

Nonetheless, that was where it ended. [sigh]
He declined my kind offer, muttering that he was getting off in a few minutes anyway.
I don't know if he heard me say, "Good!" because I stuffed my earphone back in my ear and spent the rest of the journey staring out the window, looking stern and pissed off.

And for all his objections, he shifted slightly and I felt not a nudge from him again.
The person who took his place after he left perched on the edge of the seat, as far away from me as possible.
In hindsight, it was actually quite funny because you could almost feel the other people in the carriage shrinking into their seats, trying to get as far away from a Potential Incident as possible.

So okay, this was probably not the best or most subtle way for me to begin asserting myself, but I gotta tellya, I felt better for having said something, however inappropriate or misguided you or he or anyone else may think I was.
So there... Get over it!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


One of my favourite things to bitch about, since we moved over to Ireland from SA, is the weather. Seriously, Irish weather on the whole sucks. Big time. But I must say, on days like today - even though it can be reasonably chilly - when the sun shines and the sky is clear and not a breath of wind stirs it can be one of the most beautiful places to be. I'm pretty much convinced that days like today are given to us just to make up for the crappy excuse for weather that normally envelopes the place... which leaves me wondering:
What exactly are we in for this Winter that deserves a day as stunning as today (and yesterday) to make up for it?
'Tis a question I think I will refrain from pondering too much, preferring instead to enjoy today and any other good days which may be sent our way, and deal with whatever follows when the time comes.

I took this photo earlier - just after 3pm, I think - on my way to do the weekly grocery shopping. This is why I never leave home without the digital camera.

But life is all about balance, isn't it?

For example, the stunning weekend we've had will no doubt be balanced out by an equally cold, rainy, windy and miserable one at some point (probably sooner rather than later if I've learned anything during my 4 years here).

And to balance out the peace and tranquility of the moment spent taking this photo, I then almost fell on my ass getting back to the car when I stepped on some particularly slippery mud in the grass because I wasn't paying attention. Very graceful!

Yep, it's all about balance, hehe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

First, last and now...

I decided yet again to take Undr up on his offer taking one of his famous 'meme's' and making it my own. Sheesh, the guy's gonna start pressing for royalties soon if I don't watch out.
So anyway, here we are...
You're my first, my last, my.... current??
OK enough messing around, on with the show!


First best friend: Cindy. We met when I was 2 and have been friends ever since.
First Car: Red & white VW 'Citi' Golf. I loved that car!
First kiss: Brett, age 12. All the girls thought he was gorgeous. He was also shorter than me. He was also my first heartbreak.
First real kiss: John, age 14... I had NO IDEA what to do when he kissed me like that!
First makeout: Ian, age 15. The less said, the better.
First big trip: My mom took us to Durban for a week and I remember lying on the beach watching the Gunston 500 surf competition from behind my first pair of sunglasses. I was 12.

First time skiing/Snowboarding: January 2006 I'm going skiing, yay!
First concert: David Essex (please remember, this was the early 80's, when the movie Silver Dream Racer was popular)
First Alcoholic Drink: Black Label Beer from my Dad's glass when I was very little. Later on? Oh, I can't remember when the rot set in...
First ticket violation: I have never violated a ticket. Oh wait, you mean...? OK then, it would have been a parking fine. Bah humbug!
First job: Working afternoons and Saturday mornings in a second-hand bookstore. Heaven!
First date: What, you mean real date? Like being taken out somewhere? I have no idea.


Last car ride: Visit to the doctor (don't worry, she says it's not contagious and chances of survival are way up around 5%)
Last kiss: My hubby, you (and he) will be pleased to hear.
Last time you cried: When my Mom & sister left Ireland to go away again after their visit {sniff!}
Last movie watched: LOTR: Return of the King. Gooooooo Hobbits!!!
Last food you ate: Pizza. Um, ja, part of my new balanced diet.
Last love: I can't remember when I loved anyone besides my Hubby.
Last temptation: The most beautiful leather bound antique-looking chest / trunk I've ever seen. Did I mention I like boxes? Hmm... I may still go back and buy it.

Last item bought: Hehe, you're gonna love this... a storage box that fits under the bed :-)
Last annoyance: The damn fire alarm that was going off all afternoon.
Last time wanting to die: Probably the last time I had to sit through a meeting.
Last alcoholic drink: Red wine with dinner last week. And I don't even like red wine. This will have to be remedied... what if I get hit by a bus tomorrow? The last drink I ever had was something I don't particularly like? This will not do! Oh wait... do cyberdrinks count? Yes? In that case, it was tequila.
Last concert: OMG you're not gonna believe this. It's almost as bad as David Essex. It was... wait for it... Duran Duran! No, wait, I lie (sorry!). It was Elton John. I think I'll have to go back & re-think the question-before-last...
Last phone call: My sister in London :-)
Last friend you added on MYSPACE: What the hell is myspace?


Current Best Friend(s): Ooh, tricky, 'eh? Y'know, I don't like to name names so I'm going to skip this one.
Current Car: Audi A3. Yes, it is my car. Hubby is just borrowing it for a few years. But it's mine, I tell you, mine!
Current love:
Yep, you guessed it, the secret's out... it's George Clooney. Hahahahaha gotcha! Ah, no, it's Hubby :-)
Current drink:
Coffee. Oh, you mean like when I go out and such? Gin & Tonic.
Current activity:
Duh! Blogging! Well, it keeps my fingers active..!
Current annoyance:
There's no music playing. Well that's easily fixed... hold on a sec. Ah, that's better. OK now it's a cigarette that someone didn't put out properly which is now stinking the whole place out... best I do something about it before it sets off the damn fire alarm again.
Current mood: Goofy. Not that you'd notice.

And now comes the time of reckoning. I know you're all quivering in your shoes (or toe-socks as the case may be), wondering, "Is she going to tag me? Is she? Is she?"
Er, no.
Unless you've been having trouble finding things to blog about lately (no names mentioned... anyone for vodka?) in which case please feel free to copy and paste - do not 'forward' ;-) - this into your own blog, changing the answers to suit yourself.


Or not, as the case may be.
The damn fire alarm in our building is faulty and keeps going off for no reason. Maybe it’s lonely, who knows? Regardless, I took the afternoon off today and was just settling down to do some Blogging in peace when…

I finished posting my comment and then moseyed on outside just in case this one wasn’t a false alarm, to find the geriatric couple from across the hall pressing all the buttons they could find on the panel in an attempt to silence the beast. A few minutes later a plumber appeared, grease on his hands, apologising profusely because apparently he was fixing a boiler on the 5th floor and some smoke appeared… and the rest is history.
Actually he didn’t really apologise, come to think of it.

It was more a statement of fact.
Thanks, Buster… shall I beat you about the head now or later?

Anyway, that was maybe 20 minutes ago and the thing is still ringing it’s head off at full volume.
Do they have to make them so freakin’ loud???

It went off in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago. We had houseguests at the time. It was somewhere around 2am and we were all well away in dreamland by then. And then the fire alarm went off.
Now normally, I sleep through just about anything.
However, as some of you may be aware, I have a mortal fear of fire.

So that night – or rather, morning – I was up out of bed almost before it started ringing. A quick lap around the apartment reassured me that it wasn’t our place that had set it off, so the next step would be to evacuate in a nice orderly fashion.
Only… speaking of fashion, I was, at the time, clothed in my purple dressing gown and matching fluffy slippers. Yeah, right, I’m going to be seen in public in that outfit and with no makeup on, hehe!
So I stood for a few seconds in the darkness of our bedroom until Hubby gave in, admitted he was awake, and very kindly (if somewhat grumpily) offered to go outside and check it out. Which he did – wearing his more masculine navy-blue bathrobe, but he’s a man. They don’t care. Do they? Never mind.
It turned out to be a false alarm anyway and half an hour later they finally figured out how to switch it off…

… Yay, it’s stopped!
Oh wait, it’s started again.
No, it’s stopped again! Yay!…

… Anyway, to get back to my story:
Oh, wait that was it. Yep, they switched it off and we all went back to bed. Our houseguests slept through the whole thing.
I was just amazed at how I will sleep through all manner of nighttime noises but as soon as the fire alarm goes off I’m up and awake. I mean really awake – and without coffee, to boot!

Phew, what a relief that the shrill ringing has stopped. Now if I could just switch off the noise in my head

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Not poetry, but...

maybe we'll call this poeterri...

Disclaimer: Do Not Take This Personally - it's not intended for you!

You used to be a friend of mine.
We'd talk and laugh and dream
about the perfect man, the ideal job,
the grown-ups we were going to be.

I attended your wedding and you were at mine;
True friends we would remain, it seemed
but gradually, over time
our calls grew few and far between.

You see, my friend, there's more to this
than might at first have met the eye.
Between the good times came the bad
and I, too young, could not see you were lying
to me, misleading me;

Though at the time our bond was such
that I forgave the breach of trust.

But trust is such a fragile thing
and as the years went by I found
the hurt began to settle in
my heart and in my mind.

So now the time has come for me
to move along and cut the ties
that all this time have held me back
and brought me down and made me cry.

For though it makes me sad to say
these words, I say them anyway;
Because I can't forget the lie
Goodbye old friend,

Now... if you haven't yet had enough of my drivel, I've also posted something new(-ish) on terristories.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hey hey it's Friday!

I love listening to the weather report here in the mornings. Today it went something like this:
"It'll be mostly dry this morning with gale-force winds and blustery showers, but this afternoon will be a little damper, with squall-ey showers expected. Currently in the city it's 13 degrees, with expected afternoon high's of 8."

Hm, it's them 'squall-ey' showers ya gotta look out for.
Dang, it made me wanna get straight back in bed!

But I didn't, no way, not me. My middle name is 'Diligence', you see. [No, not really, but it should be!]. Even though I worked late last night. As the latest addition to the DBA team I have to take some responsibilty and show some committment. Hehe... actually it's really just my warped sense of diligence and anal-retentiveness that won't allow me to leave if I'm in the middle of something that needs to be done.

OK now that I've harped on the subject of My New Postion a bit, I will continue.

I was on the train this morning, sitting with my elbow propped up on the little ledge by the window so that my hand could in turn prop up my head comfortably, because I hadn't really properly woken up yet, you see, and my head is rather heavy at that time of the morning. I had my earphones in and I was listening to Juluka, and gradually I began to wake up and become aware of my surroundings.
As I glanced around, my eyes fell on a headline in the newspaper the girl next to me was reading.
Now, I must confess, I think I may be one of those annoying specimens who reads other peoples' newspapers over their shoulder on the train, although I do try to be surreptitious about it.
The article in question was about immigrants to Ireland, and being a foreigner here myself, naturally I was interested in reading it.
Well apparently I'm not as surreptitious as I thought, because the next thing I knew this girl had whipped out a second newspaper from underneath the one she was reading (there are 2 free newspapers available at the train stations in Dublin every morning) and offered it to me to read... obviously instead of having me read over her shoulder.

Oops - Bust!!!

Well I must admit I felt a little embarrassed but I just smiled and declined, put my head back in my hand, closed my eyes and continued to listen to my music again. But OMG I wanted to laugh out loud, hehe... that is SO something that I would want to do - in other words, "Back off Bitch, get your own damn paper and stop invading my space!"
It was hilarious to be on the receiving end of it for a change!

Oh wow, you wanna see the weather that's coming over now... eeeuw!!!!
As I look out of the window I can see the sunrise reflecting orange off the buildings opposite while the sky beyond is deep, dark, blue-grey, thick with swirling clouds, and the trees are dancing in the wind.

And on that note, have a good Friday and a lovely weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's a girl!

Due to popular demand, here it is - living proof that I, too, can be ladylike!

Yep, here's me in my skirt, worn on my first official (unofficially) day as a DBA.

Remind me next time to make hubby take it from a more flattering angle... no, I am not preggers, hehe!

Monday, November 07, 2005

It's Official! (Unofficially)

Three months ago I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to work on a short-term basis for a different team in our IT department while someone was on leave and then otherwise occupied with a big upgrade project.

I had been working as a regular ol' Techie up till then, for the past two & a half years or so. When I took the Techie job initially, it was a bit of a step back for me but it suited me because the money was good and it meant I didn't have to drive an hour & a half each way to work each day. I could take the train instead and get there in a little over half an hour with no traffic stress (I am slightly prone to road rage). Also, it was a permanent job, whereas I'd spent the previous year working on a contract basis, which was a little too uncertain for my liking, living as I was in a new country and all.
So it was a very practical decision.

But let's be honest - a job that involves a lot of crawling on desks checking cabling, and carrying computers and other bits of hardware around the place, is not really the ideal job for a thirty-something woman.
And I was b.o.r.e.d. out of my mind!

So last year I bit the bullet, paid the money, took unpaid leave and did two courses to help me start along the path of becoming a DBA - still in IT, still technical but not so physical, and more desk-based and brainpower-oriented.
And I made it known that this was what I wanted.
And then I waited.
And waited.
And waited.

And finally the opportunity came up to use my newly acquired knowledge (albeit really rusty by then) and I jumped at the chance.

Well, ladies and gents, it turns out patience does eventually pay off. (I wouldn't normally know much about this because patience is not exactly one of my strong points, but anyhoo...)

*** ! ... CUE FANFARE ... ! ***

Today, after weeks of wondering, and a complete restructure of our IT department, I was asked if I would like to stay on in the DBA team permanently.
Would I ever..!!!

Now, it won't be official as such until the new organisational chart is released (hopefully sometime this week) but it's official to me.

And tomorrow I will do what I promised myself I would do if I got to stay in this job.
For the first time in my three years of employment I will wear a skirt to work.
'Cos you see, it's not really practical for a Techie to wear a skirt (you just never know when you're gonna end up crawling under desks, y'know?!).
But hey, I'm (unofficially) officially not a Techie anymore!

So there ya go - all is not doom and gloom (until you look outside and see one of our lovely Irish storms raging but that's a completely different matter).
It turns out Mondays can be good days too.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Winter Dawn

I took this photo this morning on the way to work. Since daylight saving time ended last weekend it has once again been light already by the time I get to work. For now, anyway.

I've been carrying my camera with me because at this time of year, for just a few days, I cross the river just around the time of sunrise. If the weather is just right, the view is spectacular.

Today wasn't one of those times.
Maybe next week, if it doesn't pour with rain, I'll be able to show you what I mean.

Well that's it, nothing more to say today.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Mythical Alter-Ego

Well my friend and her hubby have scooted off down to Cork, in the south of Ireland, to start their new life. They stayed with us for about a week and it was great to see them again, but now they're off to make their way in the world. And in this case, the grass is greener on the other side - much greener, in fact, on account of all the rain, see?

And I'm back to having time to blog in the evenings. So, although I'm a little sad to see my friend go away again, I'm also happy to be able to check in with my blogging buddies. Clouds and silver linings, eh?

Speaking of which, did I ever tell you that I like quizzes? [
Yes, I realise that wasn't the smoothest transition in history. Call it poetic license. Or something. Whatever. Get over it.]
Do you like quizzes? I love quizzes. And I especially liked this quiz - got the link from
LoriNFlorida's blog and I liked the answer so much I decided to share it with y'all.

Because, you see, it says I am just like my favourite character in The Lord Of The Rings.

It says that if I were a character in an epic fantasy, I would be...


You are the Ranger, whose most
famous representation would be Strider from The
Lord of the Rings. Rangers are mythic heroes
akin to samurais and cowboys. They are loners;
they roam the woods and wildnerness, and while
they will not throw themselves into a fight
they will defend whatever cause they have taken
up. They are great warriors, but they will not
choose willingly to go to any battle. Rather
they will fight for their own beliefs, when
they want to, and where they want

Color: Forest Green
Animal: Eagle
Stone: Jade
Symbol: River


Who would you be if you were a character in an epic fantasy?
brought to you by Quizilla

...Hm, who knew girls could be Rangers?!

Monday, October 31, 2005

A very personal day

I have a slightly macabre sense of humour. 26 Years ago, today, my father died. I try not to make a big deal out of it but I always remember the day almost as soon as I wake up. Also, it’s Halloween. Am I the only one that sees the slightly sick humour in that?
Today I am wearing black, in honour of the date. Black shoes, charcoal jeans, and a black top. It’s just my own little way of marking the day. But here’s the funny bit.
The top I am wearing today – black, as I mentioned – has a sort of motif where one would find a pocket if it were a shirt. It is a big number 26, and the caption below it says “Keep it moving”.
Sort of coincidence, sort of not, but it’s my own slightly macabre private joke today.
Well if you didn’t think I was a little odd before, no doubt you do now.

Seven-year-old Jade was happily painting away in her Kindergarten class, concentrating so hard on her big yellow sun that she didn’t even realise she was frowning. The other kids around her were chatting and laughing and making a noise, but Jade had a task to do and she was taking it seriously, as she always did. The intercom crackled for a special announcement; the teacher tried to shush the class of youngsters so that they could hear what The Headmaster had to say. Jade didn’t pay too much attention – she was almost finished colouring in her sun – until she heard her name being called. Over the intercom!
This was unheard-of. Nobody got called to The Headmaster’s Office unless they were in Big Big Trouble, and Jade was never in trouble.
But wait, it wasn’t just Jade; her elder sister, Amber, was being called too.
Teacher bustled over to where Jade was sitting to help her pack all of her things into her little suitcase. Jade was confused. She hated being the centre of attention, and right now all the other children were looking at her and wondering what was going on. She wished the floor could just swallow her up. Also, she was a little cross because now she knew she wouldn’t be able to finish her painting. On the other hand, she was a little excited because she would get to see Amber, her big sister, her idol. Normally she had to wait until break-time to see her and even then it wasn’t for long.
One of the Prefects came to the classroom to fetch her, a kind looking girl with long blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. Amber was already waiting at the Office when she arrived. The Secretary looked up when they walked in, but Jade didn’t pay much attention to her because Amber was sitting on one of the blue chairs with Aunty Bernice. She wasn’t Jade’s real aunt, but a close friend of Jade’s mother. Her mom’s family lived far away, on the other side of the country.
Jade smiled and Aunty Bernice smiled back, but something felt strange. Nevertheless, Jade was happy enough because Aunty Bernice told the girls that she was there to take them home. Jade thought it was rather nice to be going home from school early, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Aunty Bernice didn’t say why they were going home and she was quiet on the short drive home.
There were several strange cars parked outside the house when they got home, and the front door was open. Amber took her hand as they walked inside. Aunty Bernice’s husband was there, as was their other friend, Uncle Andrew, and some other men Jade didn’t know. Everyone seemed to be talking in hushed tones and Jade started to feel a little scared, but Amber was still holding her hand so she was okay. The girls were ushered through to their parents’ bedroom, where their mother was sitting on the bed. She beckoned to them to sit down with her, Jade on her left and Amber on her right. Briefly, Jade wondered where their little sister, Amelia was. Her mother said that Uncle Andrew’s wife, Aunty Jenny, had taken her out shopping. The bad feeling grew stronger upon hearing the strange tone in her mother’s voice.
All three of them looked up as the Priest walked in and started talking in his calm, gentle way, but the words started flowing over and around Jade, and soon she couldn’t hear what he was saying anymore. The world stopped for a few minutes and her mother and Amber started crying. There had been a car accident. The Priest was telling them that their Daddy was gone and wouldn’t be coming back. Surely that was a mistake? But her mother was sobbing quietly and then Jade found that she was crying too. She didn’t really understand but she knew that this was a bad, bad thing, although she couldn’t really comprehend fully what she had just been told.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Her mother’s friends stayed and looked after them, made them lunch, comforted her mother and generally bustled around the place. Amber seemed more upset than Jade felt, but then, she was a little older and Jade couldn’t help feeling that she knew or understood something that Jade didn’t. Amelia, who was only four, was brought home later in the afternoon, and when it started growing dark all the people left, and all that remained were Jade and her two sisters, and her mother. They ate sandwiches for supper and when it was bedtime her mother came and tucked them in, as she did every night.
And when she turned at the door after switching out the light, Amelia, who slept in the other bed in Jade’s room, said, as she did every night,
“Mommy, please tell Daddy to come and kiss us goodnight,”
Her mother replied, in a strangled voice,
“I wish I could girls. I wish I could.”
And right then, Jade knew that he never would again, and for the first time that day she cried not because it was what everyone else was doing, but because she knew.

Rest in peace, Daddy.
31 October 1979

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sneakily Tagged and Quirky?

During my absence from Blogging this week, during which time I have managed to pop in for a mere comment here and there, I appear to have been tagged by Ben-O. Sneaky of him to do it while I was otherwise occupied and therefore completely unable to defend myself... but OK Ben, here goes:

Some Quirky Stuff About Me:

When I drink coffee out of a paper cup, I always keep the lid on. If I have to take the lid off to put milk in, I always put the lid back on afterwards to drink it. It just tastes better.

I don't eat a lot of sweet things, but occasionally I like chocolate, and then I eat the whole thing in as short a time as possible to get the maximum amount of pleasure out if it even if it doesn't last long. I think I may be one of those instant-gratification-seeking people.

I don't really like eating rice... because it's untidy. If served rice with chicken, for example, I will pick up the chicken with my fork and scrape all the bits of rice off that are sticking to it, and do my best to separate the two on my plate.

I know I've mentioned this before but I LOVE boxes... when I see a box I am compelled to open it to see what's inside, even if I know it is empty.

I talk to myself almost constantly while I am working but I seldom realise I am doing it. I think it helps me concentrate.

I only like the orange Liquorice All-Sorts.

I frown when I'm concentrating which apparently makes me look either cross, or stressed. I find that quite amusing.

I crave order in my universe. I straighten pictures, square off piles of books, papers, magazines, whatever, and fold all my clothes to the same size so that the piles are neat... without even realising I am doing it at the time.

OK that's all the quirks I can think of right now. Really, I don't come out too badly in the grand scheme of things. I don't do silly things like mix peanut butter and jam on sandwiches, or alphabetise my books (although I do order them on the shelves according to size. Is that a quirk?). All in all I'm probably quite normal, although some might disagree ;-)

And now to pass this tag along. Hmmm, let me think...

Del, 'cos although we're related I really don't know too many little things about you.

Anne, 'cos I know it will irritate the crap out of you and really, you're looking for a good reason to rant these days anyway, so actually I'm doing you a favour.

Chitty, 'cos you're bound to come up with stuff that will make me laugh.

LiVEwIRe, ditto. Plus I'll probably go, "Hey I do that too" quite a lot.

And last but not least, Lori, 'cos I don't know much about you at all.

Now don't the rest of you go feeling all left out OK? 'Cos it's a free world (more or less anyway) and actually you can all do this if you want to. Besides, this is the first time I'm tagging people by name, so rest assured, your time will come, hehe!

And next week life will be more or less back to normal for me so I will once again be spending hours and hours online to bring you more babbling than you can possibly stand.

Monday, October 24, 2005

woohoo and yay!

It's that time of year again - two weeks ago I heard the first BANG! and thought I was back in South Africa. Then I realised it wasn't a gunshot but a cracker. Halloween is a-comin...

It amazes me that in a place where fireworks are illegal there are just so many of them around. It's easy enough to come by them though. All you have to do is drive North from here for about an hour and you reach the border of The North (as the Irish refer to Northern Ireland) and right there, a few metres inside the border, are huge signs advertising "FIREWORKS ON SALE HERE". Needless to say the road is a tad busy at this time of year. These people seem to celebrate Halloween for a whole month. I'm beginning to wonder if we are being invaded by a race of aliens cleverly disguised as Halloween Pumpkins - it would be a great way to strategically position thousands of aliens without arousing any suspicion. They walk among us...!

One can't help being caught up in all of this revelry though. The shops are crammed full of Halloween stuff - costumes, pumpkins (or so they'd like us to believe),candles and decorations of all shapes and sizes (as long as they're either orange or black) and huge bags of sweets for trick-or-treaters. I discovered over the weekend that even I am the proud (?) owner of a black witches hat. When did I think I was ever going to use it?! I can only surmise it must have been one of my shopping-while-hungover purchases.

Of course, just past all the Halloween displays, the Christmas goodies are a-waiting, and the day after, all the orange and black stuff will have magically disappeared and been replaced by twinkling red and silver stuff. And then the carols will start (eesh!). I swear the window-dressers must pull an all-nighter on Halloween to change their displays, poor buggers.

Now, you may be wondering why I'm posting about Halloween so far in advance. Well firstly (and I just know you all want to know this) someone was looking for a good idea for a Halloween outfit not so long ago and I promised I would post a pic on my blog for them. So here it is:
I don't know where this photograph originated - someone sent it to me in an email that looked as if has been around the world a few times - but I just thought this was the cleverest Halloween outfit EVER!

And since I'm unlikely to be using the idea myself, I thought someone might be able to make use of it. But if you win a prize, I get 50% of the proceeds, deal?

Oh, and you have to post a pic of yourself in costume on your Blog, too.

The other reason for the slightly premature post is that my friend and her husband are arriving from SA tomorrow so I'll more than likely be spending more time with real people for the next week or so than with my blogging buddies (although I'm sure I can squeeze in a comment or two somewhere).

I am SOOOO excited to see my friend, and the best news is, they're not just visiting, but are actually moving to Ireland. Yay!!! They'll be staying with us for a week before heading to their new home in the south of the country but I am so happy to have her here I'm almost falling out of myself!

So spare a thought for the weary travellers - they will have left Jo'burg by now and have a gruelling long-haul flight ahead of them. Believe me, this is not a fun trip to make. And on top of that I'm sure their hearts are breaking a little at leaving behind their home and their family and their friends and their lives to start anew on the other side of the globe. Been there, done that. It is not an easy thing to do.

But Yay! My friend is coming!