Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Better late than never

Well my goodness aren't I just the little Energizer bunny? Last Friday I made a list of what I wanted to get done over the weekend and I very nearly did it all, 'cept the shopping trip took longer than expected so I had a good excuse for the one or two things I didn't get done.
I'm wearing my new shoes today, btw. They look great!

So last night I finally got working on my photos, starting with those from Paris - take a look at what I've uploaded to flickr so far.
If it weren't for this pesky having-to-work thing, I would have a lot more up there but oh well, what can you do, eh?

Y'know, I knew I needed a holiday before, but I had no idea just how much of a difference it would make. I'm STILL in a good mood, and have enough energy to do stuff other than drag myself to work and back every day. Which is surprising, because it's not like I'm sitting with nothing to do. If that were the case I would have blogged again before now, in the last week! Perhaps it helped that my appointment at the Chiropracter on Saturday morning involved a massage, too, of the variety that made me want to offer to pay double if he would just keep it up a little longer. The massage, that is - get your minds out the gutter!

So perhaps that's the answer: 3 weeks' holiday, followed by a massage, then work for a week or two at the most, then start again.

Anyone else want to join my club?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

back to reality

Oddly enough I was actually not devastated to come home to Dublin this time. That is not to say I didn't howl like it was the end of the world when we said goodbye to my Mom and stepson at the airport on Friday evening because I did. So much so that I set Cinderella off too... and I could've sworn I even saw Hubby's eyes well up. Hardly surprising, I suppose, since he had his two favourite girls sobbing on his shoulders at the same time in the departures lounge.
But once I'd recovered from that, I was OK. In fact I was actually glad to be back in our own house again (and my back was most pleased to see my own bed). I may not have exactly skipped off to work yesterday morning but I didn't want to stick a poker in my eye over it either. Perhaps getting to ride my bike again helped. [Insert Cheshire cat grin here.]

So what can I tell you about the holiday? The weather was fantastic - sunshine and blue skies for all but 2 days of our 3 weeks there, and warm enough to wear T-shirts. Except at night when it actually got quite cold and the houses in SA wouldn't know double-glazing or central heating if it hit them in the facias. But it was certainly an improvement over our Irish summer (53 consecutive days of rain, so I've been told!).

In some ways it was like we had never left, after just a couple of days there. In other ways it was like a flashback to a previous life. And somewhere along the way something settled in my soul. It's really difficult to explain but it's as if something has been resolved inside of me, something that was causing conflict before; I am now genuinely OK with not moving back there. It feels good.

We partied with our friends and yes, karaoke was involved. You can check out the evidence over at Oodlesofnoodlesoffun.
We had a highly entertaining (and rather extended) lunch with both the aforementioned Buddess and another blogger, Katt, with whom some of you may already be familiar.
We ate braaivleis (BBQ) and seafood until we were hankering for no more than a sandwich.
We sat in the sun at every opportunity and I'm pleased to say I no longer look like a corpse.
I even read a book from start to finish.

I also took a couple of hundred photographs which I will be sorting and uploading along with the promised pics from my latest Paris excursion shortly... Just as soon as I've managed to catch up on some blog reading.
It's amazing how much you people manage to write in 3 weeks!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

missing the picture

I really hate leaving things unfinished so here's the pic of the beach at Cannon Rocks that belongs to the challenge from my previous post...

By the way... From where I'm sitting it looks like the photo has gone all fuzzy-ish after being uploaded here. Is it my imagination or does the quality look not quite right to you guys too?

Friday, July 13, 2007

lets do the time warp!

I think I may have entered a time warp. Two weeks back in my hometown and it's like I never left. It's really relaxing to be in a place where you don't have to think so hard about everything... you just know, because your surroundings have been there your whole life. I don't have to choose my words carefully to make myself understood to people. I can go to the till and ask for some potato salad in a bakkie, just enough to take to a bring-and-braai, and the lady behind the counter knows exactly what I'm looking for (as opposed to asking for about 500grams (?) of potato salad in a plastic container please, to take to a barbeque).
It turns out, too, that I haven't forgotten how to drive a manual car and I don't have to plan my journeys - I know exactly where everything is in this town and how to get there.
I'm still trying to figure out where all the people are though. We have these great big wide roads here and hardly any traffic; the Irish could take a lesson there somewhere, teehee.

Earlier this week we drove out to a little seaside hamlet called Cannon Rocks to visit our friends, who have recently returned here from their own stint in Ireland. Are there beaches this beautiful anywhere else in the world?
Take it as a challenge, I dare you... and I want photographic proof, 'kay? *

I know I've been harping a bit on how wonderful it is to be home and all but as much as I'm already dreading having to leave again next weekend, this visit has also reinforced our decision not to return permanently. This place, and the people in it, haven't changed much and I guess we haven't either, except... we've moved forward and coming back would be like moving backwards again. I know I'm going to be an emotional wreck when we leave but I also know that my life is not here anymore.
Onwards and upwards, as my good buddy Buzz would say.

And on a completely different note may I just add that I'm really missing my blogging buddies a LOT - I'm afraid blogging by dial-up is just not a viable option. It takes ages to load any of the pages and I'm awfully conscious of my poor Ma's phone bill. so I guess I'm going to have stacks of catching up to do when I get back to Ireland.


* OK so this challenge has lost some of its impact as a result of me not being able to get the photo uploaded. Yay dial-up. I'll try again tomorrow. Pfft!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting Poetic in Sunny South Africa

This place of ours cannot be told
To understand, you must behold
first hand, the glowing sunrise
bursting into skies
of endless blue;
a mirror of the ocean
crashing merciless upon white sand.

Here lives go on as others do
but not,
for though so beautiful
the land is harsh
sun beating down
turns seas of grassland golden brown
We pray for rain and when it comes
new rivers form where none should be.

Survival is a daily fight
and so we leave;
we search the globe
for better lives and gentle days
but soon enough that dusty land
that grows inside from when we're babes
calls out from deep inside our soul;
No matter where our feet may lead
our hearts are in this land, our home.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I'm Home

I'm home.
I have such a mish-mash of emotions raging inside at the moment that I don't know where to begin.

Friday was a disaster. Well, that's not entirely true - I got everything done at work that I was supposed to and left it all in readiness for my boss's return on Monday. By the end of the day, though, I was a wreck from working late on Thursday, in early Friday till late again and flatout all the way. I had to take an emergency break in the ladies' room at one point to avoid a tearful outburst from pure stress. The upcoming trip probably didn't help things as I like to have time to prepare for a journey; you know me - I have to have lists of things, and lists of lists of things in order to feel prepared. I had nothing; Cinderella and Hubby jumped in and took care of the household and shopping stuff and all I had to do was pack my suitcase.

I thought a good night's rest would see me feeling better on Saturday morning but the stress was still there. I was taught as a piano wire and my sense of humour was nowhere in sight. The check-in queue at Dublin airport was beyond ridiculous and even though we were there well in advance, we only just made the flight with no time even to stop for a spot of duty-free shopping. My family and friends in SA would just have to do without their Butlers Irish Chocolates this time.

I castigated a bloke in the queue who asked us to keep his place while he dashed to the loo because he left his bag behind in our care. In this day and age, with all the airport security, how stupid can some people be??! Cinderella and Hubby stayed well back and I pretended not to notice them laughing at me while the Irish all around looked mortified at my nerve in having a, er, quiet word with the guy when he got back. He's damn lucky I didn't get airport security to remove his bag and have it blown to bits just in case!

Two young lads who were jangling while we were waiting to board got the fright of their life when I barked at them for pushing each other until one of them stepped on my foot. They ran off to their parents then, who gave them a proper tongue lashing.

Is it wrong that I felt better for having growled at strangers? Because I tellya, it did help lower my stress levels.
A bit.

Then we flew to London's Heathrow airport... and the first thing we saw was a newsflash on a TV about the car bomb incident at Glasgow airport. 'Twas a good day to be flying, for sure. The already tight security was even tighter - we went through more security checks than I thought possible by the time we eventually boarded the flight to Johannesburg, which left late as a result. Hunger wasn't helping my mood any and then when I was finally seated in the middle seat in a cramped 'plane I felt I was going for meltdown. And I didn't understand why. And I was too tired to figure it out. So I spoke not a word, ate my dinner, watched a movie and spent the next 10 hours trying - rather unsuccessfully - to sleep.
The dude behind me who appeared to be on a mission to clean out the entire stock of Heineken on the flight did not help; the only person who thought he was amusing at 3am was himself and eventually the flight crew put him in their own quarters to sleep it off.

But after breakfast this morning I was feeling better... right up until it got light outside and we were on final approach to Johannesburg and I looked out the window and I saw the land of my birth, the area I spent my childhood in, in the days when my father was still alive and life was innocent. That was when it all came bubbling over and the pain in my heart would not be stilled and I started sobbing.
All the homesickness and missing my Mom and my family and friends that I have blocked off for so long emerged with a ferocity that took me by surprise, and it took some time for me to regain my composure.

Once it had had its say, my spirits started to lift a bit and the stress eased. I burst out laughing when I heard the first announcement over the PA while we were waiting, in that uniquely delightful flat Jo'burg accent, "Goood mawning laydeees and geentlemen..."
LOL! I was home.
The fact was hammered home by the chaos when we went to check in for the final leg of our journey to Port Elizabeth and the systems were down and the manual check-in process was being handled in the slowest and most disinterested manner possible... and all the passengers could do was make light of the situation and roll their eyes a lot.

The hour-and-a-half flight from Jo'burg to Port Elizabeth was passed in and out of consciousness (partly from only having had about 3 hours sleep in total at most, and partly from having taken a couple of good strong painkillers to deal with the headache brought on by lack of sleep). When I was conscious I struck up a conversation with the two chaps next to me who were both born and bred there, too. In fact one of them went to the same high school as me. Um, it's kind of a small town, hehe..! They were eager to catch me up on what had changed in my absence, and welcomed me home. PE is not called The Friendly City for nothing.

We landed in weather pretty much the same as what we had left behind in Dublin. The smell of salty sea air hit me as it always does when I stepped off the plane, and then there were my Mom and stepson and his mates, and Hubby's sister and her offspring all waiting with big hugs to greet us and it's been like the twilight zone ever since. Things have changed but it's still the same and I feel like I never left.
But I saw the Southern Cross star constellation for the first time tonight in two and a half years.
It's weird the things that you remember. The sounds and smells are the same and the view from my Mom's verandah hasn't changed at all.

I think I may be a bit jetlagged and the emotions are still running a little high, but it's not surprising, I guess.

Because I'm home again.