Friday, December 26, 2008

how to increase the value of your shares with your loved one

It's not every day a girl comes home to find a Christmas present like this waiting for her in the kitchen:

After a 20-hour trip getting home to Dublin from SA I was, to say the least, quite surprised to find Santa had delivered early.

Years ago, long before I ever thought I would learn to ride, I sat on one of these - a CBR600 belonging a friend of ours. I clearly remember saying that if I ever learned to ride I would want one like this. A few weeks ago our neighbour turned up with one, and I took it for a ride and fell in love with it.
It turns out that while I was away, Hubby was busy wheeling & dealing to buy this bike from our neighbour and between them they managed to get it into my kitchen where Hubby cleaned it till it shone, then got a big red bow to stick on the windshield and a note that says:


I'm a Very Spoilt Lady!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the weird and the wonderful


My week is almost up; tomorrow I head back home to Ireland. Strangely, it feels like I've been here much longer than I actually have, probably because I've done quite a lot this week - nothing constructive, mind you, just being a little social butterfly :-)

I've had a wonderful time.

I went shopping on Friday with my 2 best friends. They hadn't really spent time together before 'cos of not living in the same city and all so it was quite strange for me to have both of them with me for the afternoon. Strange, but in a very good way; I felt quite privileged.

Yesterday morning I went to the beach and had a swim in the sea (well, not so much 'swim' as get wet up to the hips then sploosh water on myself 'cos I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to waves!)... by 10:30 am I was hiding under a giant sarong though; how is it that I used to be able to spend a whole day in the sun as a kid but now I feel like I'm being BBQ'd after 45 minutes?!

Last night I got some of my old gang of friends together at a pub. It was just like old times - except now the conversation was more about kids & families than bikes & partying, and I was home just after 11pm, ready to hit the sack. (Last of the wild party-people - Not!!!)

I miss my Hubby an awful lot though and I'm kind of ready to go back to the cold now so I can be with him. Only 2 more sleeps to go... and one of those will be on an aeroplane

When will someone invent a magic transporter that can move us from one side of the planet to the other without the discomfort of sitting in cattle-class in a giant metal tube, bashing our knees on the seat back in front of us and trying to ignore the smelly stranger next to us who is snoring in our ear? And if anyone mentions Premium Economy, Business Class or First Class I'm going to smack them on the head because paying 3 times the price for a ticket is NOT an option - and I would still have to sit on me bum for 10 hours at a stretch and end up with feet & ankles that won't fit into my shoes for 3 days afterwards!

But I digress.

And now I've forgotten where I was heading.

So I'll leave you with a second picture instead.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

from one extreme to the other

It's mildly disturbing to board an aeroplane in a climate of an icy 0 degrees Celsius, and emerge several hours later on the other side of the planet where it's 27 degrees warmer.

Very mildly disturbing.

Mostly, though, it's fan-bloody-tastic!!!

That's right, Chickens, I packed in the Irish winter and am typing this from a brilliantly sunny and warm Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

I left poor Hubby behind this time. I hear our neighbours are taking good care of him, making sure he eats a meal occasionally and such like. It's weird being here without him - sort of like I have a limb missing. But by this time next week I'll be back in the Big Freeze that is Dublin, and safe in the arms of my other half again, because this is a short visit... no long leisurely holidays at my disposal. I wanted to be back in time to spend Christmas with Hubby and my sister-in-law in Ireland.

So for one week only I finally get to wear my strappy dresses & open sandals (the ones that have been gathering dust in my wardrobe for the past 2 years because Summer appears to have forgotten Ireland completely).

I went shopping with my mom yesterday and lunched with my friend the day before. Today I lunched again, with my other friend, in the neighbourhood I grew up in, under an awning to protect my lily-white Northern hemisphere skin from the hungry African sun.
I'm taking it easy and catching up with my Girls, refuelling my soul with the sights and sounds of the place I come from.

In fact this trip is kind of like a pit stop... I guess you could call it a service for my psyche :-)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A touch of frost

Let's talk about the weather for a change.

That's a joke - anyone who has spent any amount of time in Ireland will know this; talking about the weather is something of a national pastime here. Well, perhaps not so much talking as moaning about it. It's either too cold, too wet, or occasionally (once every 7 years or so) too hot.
Although it should be noted that I, personally, have never complained about this place being too hot.

But it's winter now, and last Saturday Hubby and I went out around midday to do some shopping. 30 Metres down the road I made him turn back so I could get my camera. You just don't see frost and fog like this in South Africa.

So these are for you folks who are complaining about the heat back home...

The first clue: Frozen flowers outside my front door

The not-so-green grass of home

Some of you may recognize Malahide Castle

Ducks getting themselves in a row... I'm guessing they've figured out the time has come to head South!

A cold and lonely crow

I didn't get any photos of the fog around our place; there wouldn't have been much to see in a photo except white noise, after all. But here is the midday sun:

So, which hemisphere would you rather be in right now...?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

only the nose knows

It's late and I have almost the entire wing of our office to myself. Daylight is but a distant memory and I only have the hum of the air conditioning for comfort. I am waiting patiently (?!) for something to finish running on my PC so I can go home.
Despite the fact that it is very much Winter here now, the windows are open and an icy breeze is whispering in from the blackness outside. I have my long woollen coat wrapped around from my waist to my feet, and a pashmina (or shawl, for those of you men who still don't know what a Pashmina is) blanketing my upper body to fend off the chill.

Yes, it's uncomfortable, but will I close the windows?
Not a chance!

You see, there appears to be a plumbing problem nearby and the maintenance guy has been 'fixing' it for 2 days now. The floor is ripped up and the area is cordonned off like a crime scene. A grimy lake lies beneath the open floorboards and every time the dude does one of those mysterious things that plumber-type people do, it seems to release a cloud of gases that stink in a very similar manner to the way sulphur stinks.
And all of this is about 6 feet away from my desk.

... and all of a sudden in a freakish turn of events, the thing I was waiting for has finished running on my PC...
I'm outta here....!!!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

ask a stupid question...

I went for a short walk in my lunch hour today, and was stopped in the street by a couple of people from a local radio station. They were asking people if they thought it was possible for women to balance a career and family.
Oh the pressure! I was like a deer caught in headlights. Say something intelligent, woman!!!
I'm sure they picked me because I looked like a professional woman, (not THAT sort of profession!) attired as I was in my black wool coat and matching hat - the only other people on the street were men and a shabby-looking bag-lady so I guess I was the obvious choice given the question. I managed to come up with something that sounded reasonably intelligent, and then the guy stuck a microphone under my nose and asked if I would mind repeating what I had just said.
How the hell should I remember what I had just said???! The trouble is I don't really have an opinion on the subject so it was really hard to try and recreate the bullshit I had just finished burbling. Urgh, I felt like I was brain-dead.

In hindsight, what I should have said was this:
Of course it's possible - millions of women the world over do it every day. We kind of have to, if we want to have a house, and food on the table. But it's not ideal, at least for most. I think it's a case of priorities. Some women are committed to serious careers - and in that case I would guess that their family life would suffer, at some point, especially if they work long hours on a regular basis. Sure you can hire a nanny or whatever but you would end up spending time at work that otherwise would be spent with your family.
On the other side there are women who work only because they have to, and all their energy is focussed on their family. Those women are unlikely to be high-powered corporate types because given the choice they would sacrifice work to be with their family instead.

But anyway, I think it's a tired and irrelevant question.
Perhaps a better one would have been something along the lines of, "How difficult is it for a woman to have both a career and a family, and still maintain her sanity and identity?"
I'm sure they'd end up with much more interesting answers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

beware the dreaded lurgy!

I am surrounded. They're all out to get me, I swear.

I avoided it at work, but then it started with my stepson, spread to my husband, and now my stepdaughter has succumbed too.
They're sniffling, sneezing, coughing and making those yucky noises particular to those afflicted with colds & flu.

And they've taken over the house, let me tell you. Right now 2 of them are in the lounge, all nice & cozy in front of a crackling fire, snuggled up in soft blankets, one on each couch. I was tempted to join them but it feels like I'm under attack by a viral army when I'm in there.
I would retreat to my bedroom but Hubby has been sleeping off the sickness there for most of the day and I just know there are some horrible little germs hanging around in there, waiting to pounce on me as soon as I settle on the bed.

So I am banished to the kitchen / diningroom, which was fine by me this morning when the sun was in the Eastern sky and filling this side of the house with glorious warmth. Now, though, it has moved over and the November cold is creeping back out of it's hiding places, shimmering up through the tiled floors and gradually reclaiming me, feet first.
Oh well, at least I have a radio in here, right?
(Yeah, I know, kudos to me for looking on the bright side.)

So here I sit and if anyone is interested in hearing my thoughts today, that's easy:

I am strong and healthy; I am strong and healthy; I am strong and healthy...

After all, it's never too late to try this Mantra thing, is it?!

Friday, October 24, 2008

rejuvination for girls 101

I have started writing this post 3 times now. Each incarnation has been discarded; too obscure, too flippant, too serious, too boring... whatever happened to writing from the heart, the words falling out of my head onto the page without check?
Oh never mind; it's complicated.

Instead, let me tell you about last weekend.
Last Friday evening I flew to London to spend a couple of days with my sister. We sat up until after 4am talking - in itself, is not terribly surprising. What was a little unusual was the puny quantity of alcohol we consumed. In all that time we only got through 1 bottle of sparkling wine.
(We won't get into how many cups of coffee / glasses of water/OJ we went through.)
Will men ever understand women's ability to stay up all night talking..?

After brunch on Saturday we took the Tube to Covent Garden, and there we had lunch with an old friend of mine. Dee and I were best friends in high school and I hadn't seen her for something like 9 years - not since our 10-year high school reunion.
(We will ignore for now that next year will be 20 years since I left school, 'kay?!)
We sort of lost touch, until earlier this year when she - now living in London - realised I live in Ireland. A couple of phone calls and emails later and there we were, sipping Earl Grey tea (me) and Cuppacinos (Dee) in Covent Garden.
(I forget what Li'l Sis had to drink - possibly one of each - but I do recall a definite sugar rush because she just couldn't turn down a piece of tart..!)
Well it was as if we do this every week. The conversation flowed easily and sincerely and continued to do so until about 10pm. At some point, when it started getting a bit nippy outdoors, we walked a few blocks to a South African pub - "the Bok" - and there we found a table to sit at in one corner. The yakking continued uninterrupted, and I dare say if it wasn't for the fact that Dee had a long-ish train trip to get back home to her family, the evening might well have progressed in a very different vein, for at some point it was as if we were replaced by our 17-year-old selves, laughing and gossiping in that way girls of that age do, and enjoying that very special bond we have with our friends at that age. No doubt the reminiscing about what we used to get up to helped!

As it was, when the time came we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Li'l Sis and I proceeded to mimic our previous evening, only this time we stayed up 'till 5am, talking.
What didi we talk about?
None of your business ;-)

By the time we managed to leave the flat on Sunday it was already 4pm so breakfast was out of the question. A good solid steak, chips & salad at a place down the road sorted us out just nicely, and then it was time for me to return home, rejuvinated, unburdened and a little bit more like the Me I used to be all those years ago.
I'm beginning to think it should be compulsory for all women to meet up with old school friends on a regular basis. It's really good for the soul.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

my friend says this reminds her of me

It's been doing the rounds & I hope I'm not infringing on any copyrights here, but I love this one!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I don't know if they did but it sounds like something 'They' would say

They say a bit of hard work never killed anyone.
While I'm sure some of the poor souls buried in the Great Wall of China might disagree, I suppose it's hard to argue when one is encased in that much concrete.
The point is, though, that it hasn't killed me yet - too much hard work, that is, not the Great Wall of China. I haven't been to see it yet, come to think of it I must remember to put that on my List of Things to Do before I Die... which hopefully won't be from too much hard work.

What my recent bout of long working hours has done, apart from score me a bunch of overtime pay*, is kill my creativity - or at least force it into hibernation. So in the absence of creative writing, I would like to share my opinion on the current state of the world.

(I hope the world is ready for this!)

Here's the thing: I would like to send everyone a copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. And I don't mean the book written by Douglas Adams, brilliant though it was. No, I'm talking about the actual guide - the one that has the words "DON'T PANIC" on the front in big flashing letters.
Because here are the facts as I see them:
Yes, share prices are down... now I know that this was all started off by some people making bad decisions and losing actual money but let's face it, the more people panic, the worse the situation is going to get. Surely people realise that some point things have to stablilise? We need the banks, and the banks need each other, and the banks need us, so the sooner everyone just stops panicking the sooner the sky will stop falling on our heads and yes, children, things will begin to climb back up again. It's the nature of the beast. We (meaning the population of the world) need to remember that the stock markets are NOT a living organism with a mind of it's own. The source of it all is people. So if the people stop to take a breath and look beyond their noses, things will start to get better again.

I overheard someone say that they have lost a bunch of money in shares. Bullshit. I know for a fact that this person has owned these shares for a few years now. These particular shares are now worth around about what they were bought for all those years ago. So unless the share prices continue to drop and this person then decides to sell them (which would be really dumb, in my opinion), they have lost nothing. They still have the shares. The market will stabilise. The share price will climb again and then they will be back to having made some money.

See how simple it is?

So let us all do us all a favour:


Spread the word. The sooner the better.


* What, you think I do it for the love of the job??!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

i wanna go home!

It's 11pm on a Saturday night and I wanna go home.

Where am I, if not home, you ask?

I'm in the miserable, broken-aircon, smells-like-old-pizza office. Last night I was here 'till midnight. And tomorrow - Sunday - well, I don't even want to hazard a guess at this stage.

I really hope you're having a better weekend than I am.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

off (with) the top of my head

It's finally happened. They said it would but I had my doubts. I mean, there was no proof that it could, and after all this time who could blame me for not believing that it ever would?
But it did.
Yes, folks: we have had two full days of actual Summer weather (despite the fact that we're well into Autumn!).

And I'm not just talking two days without rain, or two days of sunshine where it looks all warm out there but it's actually too cold to leave the house without a coat.
No, this is the genuine thing. Bright sunshine, blue skies and temperatures over 20 degrees - I have worn a T-shirt and open shoes, for goodness' sake!!!

I actually had plans to pack my summer clothes away and haul out all the heavy woollens again this weekend. I had given up all hope of needing short sleeves until next year again. But now that will wait for at least another week.
It was bewildering, really - we've been waiting for weather like this for what, two years now? What to do, what to do, when it finally arrives? Do we BBQ? Go to the beach? Go ride our bikes? Go walking? So many choices...!

So I did what any practical person would do: I sat in it.

It seemed a waste to dash around like a mad person so instead I simply sat out in the back yard and gathered all the photons I could until my headache drove me inside and into a comatose sleep... because of course the Universe would conspire for me to be hit with the worst migraine I've had in months on the best weather weekend of the last two years.

Which explains why my first post in two weeks is about the weather: I haven't the mental energy to be any more creative.
And also why the title has absolutely nothing to do with the post: I'm on some serious painkillers here, Dudes, so my train of thought is somewhat derailed, hehe!

Tellya what, though; the garden is loving the sunshine too.

Long may it last ....

Friday, September 05, 2008

running with the dogs

I was going to tell you about my summer: about the stream of houseguests we've had over last 2 months - father-in-law, mother, nephew, friends, friends' kids - about how our little house has been like the hotel next to Grand Central Station... but I decided not to.

I could bitch & moan about the weather we've had, the flooded roads, the laundry that takes 4 days to dry because of the humidity levels... but I won't.

Instead I'm going to tell you about the really good day I had last Saturday on The Big Dogs Breakfast Run.
We left the house around 9am, Hubby and Cinderella on his Blackbird and me on my pride and joy, the GS500. And let's not forget our neighbours - we've become good mates since The Midnight Incident a few months back, due in no small part to our shared love of motorcycles. By 10am we had been joined by another 4 bikes and were heading off into the mountains just south of Dublin.
(Not mountains like you'd find in Switzerland, mind you; more like large hills - but the Irish get upset if you refer to their mountains as hills.)

I'll spare you the clichéd twisty-mountain-hugging-roads descriptions; suffice it to say the scenery was really pretty during the moments it wasn't obscured by mist or rain and some of the roads were great for biking. Bikers do love bends, after all. Of course, some of the roads were not so great - there was the freshly tarred bit, only it wasn't so much tar as loose gravel that caused the bike's ass to fishtail at will... needless to say I rode rather gingerly and slowly over that, not caring if I caused a traffic jam. Which it turned out I didn't really - the other guys were just as skittish over the loose stuff.
And then there was the really bumpy bit coming down a very steep and very wet road; that was quite hard going and my arms were done for by the time we reached a gentler surface.

But these were only a small part of the 230km ride we did that day[1]. The rest was HUGE fun! And here's the thing: it was the first time I'd done a breakfast run under my own steam. Previously I've always ridden pillion with Hubby. And may I also add here that the other guys were all on much bigger, faster bikes than mine - I may not have been able to catch them on the motorway but I more than held my own on the smaller mountain roads. I was proud. Hubby was proud. Even our neighbour was proud ;-)
It's kinda funny really - this run was instigated by Hubby and he christened it THE BIG DOGS BREAKFAST RUN in honour of one of his favourite sayings: If you want to run with the big dogs, don't pee like a puppy.
(Yeah, I know, he's real poetic!)

What can I say?


[1]BTW... when last did you travel 230km for breakfast..?!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The island with two names

This is my 4th attempt at telling you about our Greek island holiday in May. So what if it took me having a week off to recover from surgery to get the thing finished? The point is it's here. And it's long. You might want to get comfortable for this...

It was only the second week of the Summer season when we flew to Zakynthos... or Zante. Take your pick; both names apply. After a week on the island I was still confused; everything there seems to have an alternative name!
We landed on a Saturday evening and the place seemed deserted, from the shiny new mini-airport to the dusty streets outside. Arriving at our apartment complex in the town of Laganas (a.k.a. Lagana) did nothing to dispel that first impression. The bar was closed and the only person in sight was a guest who had been there a week. She kindly pointed out that the keys were in the doors and our room numbers were penned on our Welcome Packs, saving the small group of travellers that we were from spending the night on sun-loungers surrounding the swimming pool, under the stars. Only not stars really, since shortly after our arrival it rained, in the way that monsoons rain.

Happily, by that stage, we had settled in and headed out again and Hubby and I were comfortably ensconced at a bar just down the road. The further down the road we looked, the more obvious it became that Zakynthos was, in fact, not closed; it was just a bit early in the season and the unwashed masses had not yet arrived.
That would happen in a week or two.

Our plan of having a quiet drink that first evening drowned in a cauldron of beer, Sambuca and Gin. I had forgotten the way of the Greek Islands - whenever you buy food or drink, you get something back for free, i.e. buy a beer, get a free Sambuca. We had a great evening, befriending the young lady from Liverpool who ran the place. She was more than generous with her servings and when it was time to close the pub she had us join her two doors down in the night club run by her brother. I didn't do so much clubbing as sitting on a bar stool, yakking my head off with with the British ex-pats about what it was like living there. I was doing research, you see, for a book I was writing. OK so I haven't actually started writing it yet, but it's amazing how much people will tell you when they think they're going to be a character in a novel!
(And I really do intend writing something set in the Greek islands, I promise; I cannot lie to people!)

I have no idea what time we stumbled back to our apartment; I do recall being really glad we hadn't gone further down "The Strip" than we did.

I thought "The Strip" was a good name for the street we were on. It ran about a kilometer further from where our apartment was and ended on a beach that stretched for miles in both directions. We walked that street the next day - slowly, and stopping often for refreshment in deference to our hangovers. There was no shortage of places to eat and drink. Night clubs, bars, restaurants and fast-food joints jostled each other for position. Dotted in-between were clothing and curio shops, selling all the things that tourists love to buy - beach wear, sun lotions, insect repellents and trinkets made of shells. Not to mention jewellery, which is really reasonably priced in the Greek islands.

It probably should have taken us 15 minutes to walk to the beach. It took us half a day. We weren't in a terrible hurry since the previous night's rain had left behind a low ceiling of cloud so sunbathing wasn't really an option.


Once we got there, it took us the rest of the day to walk back the way we had come, stopping along the way to indulge in some KFC - great hangover food, indeed!

By dinner-time we were feeling human again and I was in the mood for some Greek food, which I love. The restaurant we chose did not disappoint. I gorged on Tzatziki and garlic prawns while watching the passers-by through the open shop-front. Surprisingly, considering the previous night's over-indulgence, I even enjoyed the wine, although I didn't have enough of that to mask the discomfort of my lumpy pillow that night. Well, we wanted a cheap holiday and I guess you get what you pay for!

The next morning we finally got the sunshine we had been waiting for, so we rented a 650cc Yamaha for the day and set off in search of adventure. The island is small enough that you can ride all the way around in a day, stopping along the way to see the sights. The bike rental place - one of dozens - supplied a map with a number of different suggested routes, depending on how long you wanted to be on the road.

Our first stop was the Damianos caves, set into the side of a mountain and reached by twisty roads through some old, run-down villages. Evidence of the last earthquake on the island, in 1953, was obvious by the many ruined buildings that were never rebuilt. The caves were, well, holes in the side of a mountain, really. The jury is out on whether they were worth the short hike to see them.
From the caves we followed the narrow road through vineyards, olive groves and stone walls to the bluest water on the planet at a place called Porto Limnionas.

There we sat on the mountainside and laughed - some people were filming what we presumed was a music video down in the cove; two men wearing bright pink suits were singing, accompanied by a guy on a trumpet, another with a guitar and a third with a tambourine. A handful of models were dancing and whooping and generally going berserk in front of the makeshift stage. Meanwhile we couldn't hear any actual music! It was really funny to watch the fake revelry going on in this beautiful place.


Our mirth soon dissipated when we climbed back up to the restaurant above, only to find that said film crew had commandeered the entire inside of the place; duffel bags, clothes and various props were strewn across the tables, chairs and floors, forcing us to go elsewhere in search of lunch. You see, one can't just eat at any old place when in the Greek islands; one has to find a place with a view, or ambiance, or something special. Mealtimes are an experience. Being surrounded by skinny peoples' bikini tops was not the sort of ambiance I had in mind.

As it turned out, the Universe was conspiring with us for a change, that day. The Yamaha blasted effortlessly back up the steep, twisting road we had travelled and bore us quickly to the next stop on the map: The town of Exo Hora (or Exo Chora, whichever strikes your fancy!).
It appeared to be little more than a junction with a few houses; it's claim to fame was the oldest Olive tree on the island, at somewhere around 2000 years of age.

It turned out to be so much more. Opposite the tree (which actually had to be pointed out to me, believe it or not!) was a square containing the Taverna Cafe Bar "Dafnes" where the tomato and cucumber in the Greek salad exploded with freshness and flavour, the feta cheese made my mouth water for more and the effect was so good I was even tempted into eating a couple of the olives. (As it happens I still don't like them, but you get the picture.) Our 'meal freebie' turned out to be freshly sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon, one of those perfect taste combinations - like bacon and egg, or coffee and chocolate.

Birds tweeted in every surrounding tree, Greek music played out of the café and only the odd tourist car or bike passed on the road, and as I sipped the thick, bitter Greek coffee after my meal a sense of calm and happiness enveloped me. I had found a place of peace.

Our bellies full and our souls rested, we set off once again on our journey of exploration. The roads were perfect - or rather, the bike we were on was perfectly suited to the roads. The engine burbled effortlessly as we practiced our motorized dance, leaning left and right as we dove between olive groves, cypress trees and stone walls, negotiating the bends with care and gleefully accelerating on the occasional straight. Warmly pressed up against my husband's back on a motorcycle as we adventured through the unknown made me about as happy as I can get.

The directions on the map became a little hazy at this point but we managed to stop off to investigate at least one of the old monasteries mentioned before finding our way to a viewing point atop a cliff overlooking The Shipwreck. So determined was I to get a photograph of the shipwreck on the beach about 300m below that I forgot about my heights 'thing' and stepped out purposefully onto the little metal platform to get the best view. It was little more than a gangplank with a handrail and I had only taken 3 steps when my mind and body almost parted company, one of them saying, "You're perfectly safe," and the other, "Aaargh!!!! I'm going to fall down there and die!!!"
Fortunately, whichever of the two was talking sense won out, saving me from utter panic and embarrassment before the bus load of German tourists who were all queued in an orderly fashion to take their turn at getting the same photograph I managed to take.


I like to think the effort was worth it.

By 4pm the wind had picked up and we still had a long way to go. Dave was also a bit concerned about the petrol situation. The pumps in Laganas were dry, bearing paper signs reading "No Petrol. Strike On."
So instead of travelling the entire length of Zakynthos, we cut across the traversing mountain range. It turned out the Universe was still on our side for there, in the middle of nowhere, we happened upon a large gas station that had plenty of petrol - probably due to the lack of passing traffic! With the tank full we relaxed a bit and continued Eastwards through the endless miles of olive groves and the national park, loving the bendy bits that seemed designed purely for motorcyclists' enjoyment.

We were relieved to find it was warmer and less windy on the other side of the mountains. Having set out in warm sunshine that morning, we were wearing only light clothing, most unsuited for the stormy weather that was starting to brew along the West coast. Small villages and yet more olive groves flashed by, until at last we reached Zakynthos town (a.k.a. Zante. Why??!) Civilized sign-postage escorted us to the port, a small bay with a serene surface, where two large ferries and a couple of boats lay obediently at their moorings.


We rode almost to the end of the road and parked the bike. It seemed a long time since lunch. Vines crept up wooden posts and formed a roof overhead, casting a deep shadow on the slightly faded green and white checked tablecloths. A teenager with a shy smile brought our iced coffees and food: Gyros for Dave and hot apple pie with cream and ice cream for me.

The fading light forced us back onto the bike and we set off back towards Laganas, detouring through Kalamaki to check out the beach there.
We never did get to see that beach. No sooner had we passed the point of no return than enormous drops of rain began to thwack! on our helmets. We abandoned the beach idea and found the turnoff to Laganas, making a mad dash along the long, straight road that joins the two resorts. Massive gusting wind stung us with sand as we raced the purple-grey sky that had appeared over the sea. Big, heavy drops started to pelt us as we returned the bike to the rental place and walked back to the apartment; we made it indoors just as the monsoon-style rain swept over our holiday once again.

The next two days were non-days. We did some shopping up and down the strip, in between rain showers, and spent some time on sun loungers next to the pool, where we made friends with a British couple staying in the apartment two doors down.
We had one particularly good meal at a restaurant called Sirocco. There was entertainment, too - we watched with amusement a couple across the road who were having an argument. We couldn't hear what they were saying over the music pumping from "Bar Code" but their body language said it all; she in a peacock blue bubble dress, blonde hair coiffed, one arm in a sling and her nose in the air as he apologised profusely and continuously for all he was worth. She was having none of it. Talk about high maintenance..!

We had booked another excursion for our last full day on the island and the Universe was once again our friend as we awoke to clear blue skies, at last. The sun was doing its best to devour the last of the night-time chill as we boarded a bus to Zakynthos port, where we were shepherded aboard a triple-decker tourist boat with, it was rumoured, a swimming pool on board. It took a full day to circumnavigate the island. It wasn't exactly a luxury cruise; we were packed like sardines onto rows of plastic seats but you know what? It was a great day, by the end of which we had formed a cameraderie with the people around us; the salt-of-the-earth middle-aged English couple, the couple from Eastern Europe somewhere (they were really wrapped up in each other and didn't actually speak to anyone else so their origin was something of a guess), the Irish family whose kids were naughty but completely lovable and the elderly couple opposite who reminded Dave and I of what we might look like a few decades from now.

I took dozens of photographs that day - there were just so many beautiful photos to take!

This proved reasonably difficult from a moving boat because really, a beautiful photograph is probably 85% viewpoint and it's difficult to maintain a viewpoint when moving and rocking.

We stopped a few times; twice for a swim in the cool blue water. The first swimming stop was at Shipwreck Beach, 300m below the site of my near-death experience (You call it exaggeration, I call it creative license!)


The golden sand and unbelievably blue water looked idyllic. Up close it was a different story; the water was freezing and the beach was made up of trillions of tiny pebbles that took great pleasure in prodding and poking the underneath of my feet in a manner that caused me to walk like I was balancing on a tightrope. Not my most elegant moment, but worth every stab of pain, when I eventually found a comfortable spot on my towel on the beach. The beach was deserted when we arrived, and within a few minutes our boat, and one other, had unloaded its passengers and there was barely enough room for everyone. Half an hour later we were back on board and the beach was once again pristine; I was most amused at this periodic human flooding of the beach!

We motored around, just off the coast, gawping at the many caves and how the landscape changed from one side of the island to another.

The captain took us in to see one or two of the deeper coves and then actually took us inside one of the larger caves.

(The picture is of the other boat doing the same thing - ours was roughly the same size & shape but obviously much cooler!)

We tried looking for turtles but it was still a little early on in the season. It seems the turtles know the water is still too cold there at that time of year, unlike unsuspecting tourists from Ireland.

It was a beautiful day all around; there's something terribly calming about being on the water in the sunshine and seeing so much beauty. Despite the long day we were well up for a meal out with our friends from the apartments, and after yet another mouthwatering Greek meal (can't get enough of that Tzatziki!) we all went clubbing. I may have looked like an old, floppy granny compared to the skinny young bodies that were dancing for shots on the bar counter but I didn't care. I'm sure if my step-children had been there they would have, but as it was I shook my bones and made like I was a teenager again!

Because that's what Laganas is about; it's like one big nightclub, a place of loud music, drink and debauchery at the southern end of what is otherwise a sleepy, ancient and beautiful Greek island.

Aah.... so the island with two names appears to have a split personality.
I get it now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Terri the Toothless Wonder

I had been dreading yesterday for the past two weeks, ever since a visit to the dentist resulted in a visit to an Oral Surgeon who promptly declared there was nothing for it but to remove a pesky wisdom tooth from my jaw.
Say whaaaaat...??!!!!

So yesterday morning, just after the crack of dawn (because dawn cracks quite early here at this time of year), Hubby drove me across town to the hospital. It is a very nice hospital, actually, one I was extremely glad my medical insurance was paying for, removing the need for us to re-mortgage the house.
I was, quite frankly, terrified. Not so much for the pain that was sure to follow - I had my tonsils out at age 18 and that hurt like hell and I was sort of expecting that sort of thing again.
No, what scared me the most was going under general anaesthetic. I'm not sure why, exactly, as I've been there twice before and without any nasty side-effects. I think perhaps it's a control-freak's nightmare; giving over control of your state of mind to someone you've actually never met before. Or that's what Freud would say, I'm sure.

Nonetheless, I went under the knife and awoke from a beautiful sleep in a comfortable bed with kind-looking nurses fussing around and bringing me yoghurt and apple juice. A girl could get used to that sort of service. Although to be fair to Hubby, he has been looking after me really well - he was terribly concerned about me and has been very good about making sure I'm comfortable and following doctors' orders, i.e. Don't forget to take the antibiotics and Do remember to wash your mouth out with hot salty water.
Gross, but OK if you insist...

The biggest bonus about all of this is that I've been booked off work for a week. So I don't care if I look like I'm smuggling a golf ball in my jaw, or that I sound like a pissed Sylvester Stallone when I talk - I get a whole week of rest :-)
Of course if I thought I'd get anything constructive done this week I was mistaken; The happy fog from the anaesthetic yesterday has been replaced by a dozy fog from the painkillers; although quite honestly this isn't anywhere near as sore as it was when my tonsils removed!

Plus, I got flowers and a get-well balloon and chocolates and a teddy bear from my friend so really, this whole thing is going much better than I could have hoped.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

So this is how it is for people who don't blog?

Is anyone still there.....?

It's finally happened. Real life has taken all my attention and I've almost forgotten how to blog. I'm tired of stressing about my lack of writing and blogging time and given in.
I'm here now, and that's gotta count for something, right?

So what, you may ask, has been keeping me so very busy that I've deserted my cyberfriends?

Well my bestest shopping buddy in the world came to visit a few weekends back and we shopped for 3 days solid (or was it 4? Felt like 4!). And we went to the movies and saw the ultimate chick flick: Sex in the City. And it was great!

Last weekend Hubby's sister & her brood came up and we adults went to go see Eric Clapton at Malahide Castle.
I've never been a huge Clapton fan, but Hubby really wanted to go so I bought some gumboots and went along for the ride.
... the gumboots? Oh, that's because it was p*ssing with rain. Again. Still. Eric even thanked us for not, y'know, leaving.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the concert. It wasn't one of those scream-and-shout-and-throw-your-undies-on-the-stage sort of concerts or anything; the music was just really good - high praise considering I had never heard most of it before. Except for Layla, of course. And we only got half of that 'cos the power went out. (Probably short-circuited something in the rain!)
Yep, I really enjoyed it.

This weekend I've been studying and will continue to do so - I have an exam scheduled for the 14th and I figured it was time I actually opened a book. I should be studying now but it's late and I need a break. It is weekend, after all, and I've been working really hard lately, at work. You may have noticed this in the lack of blogging I've been doing.

It's been an emotional couple of weeks, too. The one and only person I could actually call Friend at work has left the company... and the country, for that matter. We had a great old Leaving Drinks evening for her, which was fun. And then she left, and I was quite sad about the whole thing. Then again, email makes the world a smaller place and we're still in touch so it's not all bad.

What is all bad is that one of our mates here in Ireland passed away last week. We went to the Removal on Monday evening, followed by drinks till very late that night (was that the Wake? We're a little hazy on the intricacies of dying in Ireland - it seems very complicated!) and then the funeral on Tuesday morning.
That was just so, so sad. He was one of the most fun-loving people I ever met and his laugh is unforgettable. The church was packed to overflowing - there were literally people standing outside during the Mass. When it was finished, and they started to carry the coffin out, the singer sang "Fly me to the moon..." It was the saddest moment in a very long time and I'm not afraid to say I sobbed my eyes out.
Hm, I thought it was all gone but here I am, tears in my eyes again.
We do miss you, Mickey.

But sure, death is part of life and perhaps with each loss I'm finding it easier to cope with.
(What I'm trying to say is yes, I'm sad, but I'm not falling apart so any family members reading this please don't panic; I'm not on the verge of a breakdown!)

Meanwhile, I have actually started writing something about our trip to Greece. I REALLY WAS THERE! SEE, PHONE CAMERA PROVES IT!

Four times I've started writing, in fact. The last draft is about halfway through. I have yet to do anything about the photographs. It'll come, eventually, and you guys will be the first to see it.
Just, you know, don't hold your breath.

'Cos right now there's just a little bit too much going on and although the writer in me wants to fight it, real life sort of has to take precedence.

And now: Chapter 3 awaits me. "Database Storage and Schema Objects"
Betcha wish you were me now...!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Who says life in the 'burbs is dull?

I went to bed later than usual last Thursday night - around 11:45pm - because I wanted to finish the book I was reading. It was hot and a bit stuffy in the bedroom and Hubby was hogging the bed. I had an involuntary muscle twitch in my eyelid and I could almost hear my Mom's voice saying, "You shouldn't be reading so late, it's what gives you eye strain."
I tossed and turned. My pillow felt too flat. A car drove past slowly, as they do outside our place. It's a cul-de-sac and there's not much space to turn or maneouvre. I didn't recognise the sound of it and almost went to peek out the window, but then decided against it.
Instead, I retrieved a second pillow from the floor and tried to find a good sleeping pose.
Was that a noise I heard, or my over-active imagination?
I breathed slowly, quietly, cursing the constant ringing I seem to have in my ears these days. How could I hear anything over that racket?
There it was again. I didn't imagine it, and I knew what it was - the chain my neighbour uses to secure his motorcycle outside his house.
I launched myself off the bed, scaring the bejezez outta my sleeping husband, and dashed to the window. Through the slats in the blinds I could see three men in hooded tops outside, two of them bent over the padlock on my neighbour's motorcycle with a bolt-cutter almost as long as I am tall, and the third having a go at the ignition with a screwdriver.

Well as you know we've had three motorcycles stolen in the last year or so, and I was not going to let them get away with this! Flinging the window open I started yelling at them,
"What the hell do you think you're doing down there. Get away!" My voice was not that of a shrill woman, but deep and enraged. If I had had a gun I would have shot them on the spot. I was still yelling when a dazed and confused husband appeared at my side to see what his mad wife was on about; he took in the situation and started yelling too. This woke up the neighbour, who we could see looking through the blinds at his front door to where the thieves were, only a few feet away from him.
I started to head downstairs, then realised I should put some clothes on so dashed back to the room to grab my bathrobe, chucking Hubby's at him at the same time. I thundered downstairs, causing my stepson to come and see what the commotion was. He was still awake, fiddling on the computer and listening to music on his MP3 player. He didn't have a clue what was going on, nor why I was growling about calling the police. I grabbed the phone and shouted, "What's the number for the police?!"
It's funny how one forgets the simple things in an intense situation like that.

The intruders had, by this stage, started backing away from the bike. Two of them ran for a car I could see parked outside, a couple of houses away, but the third guy - the one with the bolt-cutters - was hanging around still. He threw the big lock they'd cut off the bike at our window, and charged a my neighbour's door to intimidate him into staying inside. I switched on every light I could find inside while Hubby looked for his "Hit Stick" - a pick-axe handle that normally lives by the front door but which had been moved in a fit of cleaning at some stage. All I could think of was that there was someone threatening our home, and I had a 17-year old daughter sleeping upstairs. I swear, I wanted to get out there and rip their heads off; only, I couldn't find my house keys to get the door open. I was still on the phone to the police when the third guy charged our front door, ramming the bolt-cutters into the glass pane. They were trying to scare us but I would not back down, looking hard at them so they knew I knew what they looked like. I was also cursing because I couldn't find my keys to open the front door... never mind that Hubby's were right there, LOL! Like I said, when you're that charged up it seems the mind doesn't think laterally very well - I went into Mommy Bear mode in a big way and was moving on pure instinct. Thought did not enter into the equation at all.

I'm pleased to report that the double-glazed windows are really tough, so the blow just glanced off it. Just as hubby got the front door open to go after them, they got the car started - obviously by hot-wiring it - and I watched as they tore off down the street and around the corner. It was too dim for me to see the license plate but I told the cops on the phone what kind of car it was.

By this time it wasn't just myself and Hubby outside; Two more neighbours had seen what was going on (no doubt alerted by my bellowing!) and there we were, all milling around and wanting to beat the living crap out of these bastards. We rallied around the neighbour whose bike had been the target until the cops arrived a few minutes later, and we saw a second patrol car pass by, on their way to try and find the thugs in the getaway car.
They took statements and I transformed from raging madwoman back into Terri, wishing I was wearing more than a fluffy white bathrobe in the presence of what were, after all, rather nice-looking men in uniform.
I can be SUCH a girl, sometimes!

I don't know if they found the guys; probably not. But I suspect they won't come back in a hurry. They picked the wrong neighbourhood this time and for all their bluster, they were quite eager to get the hell out of Dodge!

Mind you, if I hadn't stayed up late reading "Without Remorse" they may well have gotten away with it.
So thank you, Tom Clancy :-)

weird dream

I dreamt that Hubby told me this:

I was riding my motobike one day years ago with my girlfriend on the back, and I crashed it into a tree. We both stayed on and we stayed upright.
She said to me, "What do you mean?"
I was confused and said, "What are you talking about, I just tried to restart the bike."
And she said, "No, you sat there a moment, looked down at your tummy as you lifted your T-shirt and said, "I'm dead now. How d'you like my bum?"

I swear, I don't make this stuff up!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

then and now

I couldn't decide what to wear last night, but in the end it didn't really matter. The evening wasn't about me, or us - it was about our kids.
Last night our little girl graduated from high school.

Not so much a little girl anymore, eh?! The trouble is, she's quite short (sorry, Sweetie, but you are!) so she still feels like a little girl when she's mooching around the house. But last night she was all dressed up and made up and suddenly she and her friends all looked like adults.

It was weird how many memories the ceremony brought back. The youngsters were so boisterous, full of heckling and clapping and wolf-whistles, and generally being rowdy 18-year-olds.
You remember being there, don't you? I know I do; like it was yesterday.

There were some lovely moments: one of the girls read a poem she wrote about this time in their lives - talented young lady, I have to say. There was a 'ceremony of light' where some lovely things were said.
And then there was the headmaster's address... the man had lots to say, I gotta tellya. Some of it was pretty insightful but I couldn't help wondering if he couldn't have said some of it during the 6 years the kids were in his school, instead of saving it until then. The audience got awfully fidgety towards the end; the kids had their certificates and they wanted to go party!

And, of course, there was the "I know you don't think so now but one day you'll back on your school days and wish you were back there, because they are the best time of your life" speech.
We all heard it.
Some of us believed it.
I didn't.
If attendance at my Valedictory Service hadn't been mandatory, I wouldn't even have gone, and when it was finished I walked out with a huge grin on my face because I was done with school.
I said then that I would never miss school, that I would never wish I was back there.
It turns out I was right.
So kids, don't believe everything your headmaster says.

Now my days at College, well that's a different story entirely...!

Friday, May 09, 2008

If anyone is looking for me...

I'll be here:

I don't care that my Winter ass doesn't fit into my summer shorts anymore or that my lily-white limbs will reflect enough sunlight to speed up global warming.
I need a holiday.
I need sun.

I'll tell you all about it when I get back :-)

Be good!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

'tis the season

I'm pleased to announce that Winter finally appears to have relinquished its grip on us. Yep, true to form the May bank holiday weekend brought us good weather. Yesterday I even sat outside in shorts for about half an hour, trying to get a little colour on my pins before I frighten all the locals away with blinding whiteness in Greece next week.

Speaking of long weekends... did everyone enjoy theirs? You did? Fantastic :-)

On Saturday I took Cinderella shopping in town, to find something for her to wear to her high school Graduation in a few weeks. It was a long and tiring process but successful. We found a striking little red number that I'm sure Hubby thinks is waaay too hot for a Graduation. Mind you, he always has that one-eyebrow-raised-questioningly look when he sees her in something sexy. I guess he has trouble seeing his little girl looking all grown up, hehehe..!

By the time we got home from the shopping I had developed a headache that then morphed into migraine that finally went away some time while I was asleep last night. So although I know the weather was fine for the long weekend, I didn't exactly get to enjoy it too much. Apart from the half hour in the sun yesterday (which I knew I shouldn't do but it was the first hot day of the year and who knows when, or if, we'll get another???!) I pretty much slept for the rest of Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
So much for the weekend of writing that I was looking forward to...

But I'm sure there will be other good-weather weekends. The seasons changed... and just when I thought it would never be warm again!
But of course with the warmer weather come other things. There's a certain, erm, shall we say 'mobile' community in this country who migrate to the seaside towns in the Summertime. Stuff tends to go missing around this time. You may remember that poor Cinderella had not one, but Two motorcycles stolen from her last year..?
Well it's that time of year again.
This morning we awoke to find her brother's motorcycle gone from where it had been chained up with the rest of them, outside our front door. My poor stepson has only had the thing for maybe a month, if that.
I don't want to dwell on this too much because I don't want to get all worked up; it's no way to start the day. Let's just say the temptation to lay in wait overnight with a loaded shotgun is REALLY strong.

I think I have had enough of this now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

oops I did it again

Somehow I missed what has become my weekly posting, this weekend... not that there was a huge amount to be said but here's an update anyway.

On Saturday Hubby and I went to our friends' daughter's birthday party. She turned 1. I don't imagine the little one had too much of an idea as to why her home was being invaded by so many people but she took the extra attention like a true champ. The cake helped, I suppose. I do hope, though, that the poor kid is not left emotionally scarred after seeing her aunty decapitating Tigger with a huge sharp knife as she sliced through the icing figurines to get to the cake. It gave me the heebies... but then I had just been listening in on a conversation two women were having about the haunted houses they had both lived in. Who know there were so many ghosts in Ireland?!
So we - ok, I - gorged on cocktail sausages, sandwiches and crackers with cheese spread, enough to ensure there wouldn't be a need to cook supper later. I think Hubby and the kids were a little peckish by 9pm but I was fine, hehehe! I get to have Saturday nights off as far as cooking is concerned so if they get hungry, well they're all capable of feeding themselves and each other. I should probably mention this latest resolution of mine to them at some point... ah sure, they're all reasonably bright, they'll figure it out at some point.

Sunday morning was glorious. Bright, hot sunshine like we haven't seen in... well so long that I don't honestly remember. We took advantage of this wonderful weather and headed off to the Clay Pigeon Shooting range to bust a few clays. It's something I haven't done in ages but the good news is that I've not completely lost my touch. By this, I mean I hit more than I missed which is always a good thing.
So I haven't been able to move my arms as a result of stiff muscles for the last two days, so what? It was well worth it. Shooting stuff is always a blast.

OK so I've written all this; now for the tricky part... getting it onto the blog without being bust by my boss. Here goes...!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

on a scale of one to ten

I have a new colleague at work. He's a youngster - only just 25 or so - and filled with enthusiasm for life, as young men are.
He recently got himself a new pet. A lizard, called Steve. From his description it sounds like Steve is more of an Iguana than a lizard, but the Irish don't know a whole lot about reptiles on account of they're not native to the place - being cold-blooded and all they tend to not survive here very long in the wild.

I'm finding that Steve the Lizard is a source of much entertainment for me.

A few weeks back I arrived at work to find an email from our boss that was something along the lines of:

Hi Terri,
G is going to be late to work today because his lizard is sick.

Now there's one you don't hear every day...!

Anyway it turns out Steve's diet consists primarily of crickets. Simple, right? Only trouble is, crickets are also not native to Ireland. I don't believe I have ever seen or heard one in the 7 years we've been in this country. So my young colleague has to buy them from the pet shop, by the box.
When I heard this I just started laughing - his bloodshot eyes said it all. The first night, he had the box of crickets in his room, right where Steve lives.
Those of you from warmer climates will know why I found this funny - I remember it was bad enough, living in South Africa, when there was just one cricket somewhere in the house. For their size these are really noisy bugs (and sneaky, too - you could never find the damn thing to shut it up, either!). So there is this young buck with his boxful of crickets all announcing to the world a large how much they like the darkness - he didn't sleep a wink!

Lesson learned, the crickets were promptly moved to a remote area in the shed, or something, where they couldn't disrupt his sleep.

Until last week when his sister brought them in to feed Steve and accidentally dropped the box, scattering crickets everywhere... did I mention how sneaky these things are?
My colleague is learning a whole lot about reptiles and bugs at the moment.

He's a bright lad, though. Not to outsmarted he finally bought a box of noise-less crickets.
Noise-less crickets??? I'm thinking maybe genetic engineering may have found its niche; until he told me that on closer inspection the reason the poor creatures are noiseless is that they have had their wings removed. Am I the only one who finds this cruel? At the same time, though, can you believe that not only are there people in this world whose job it is to catch crickets, but there are also people whose job it is to pull their wings off??!!!

It seems like an awful lot of fuss to keep a pet lizard. I can't help thinking he shoulda got a rabbit or something, rather.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

enlightenment and alien flowers

Because I haven't posted a photograph in a while, here's one I took this morning...
Does anyone else think these look like alien flowers?

I have been reading a book that can best be described as "enlightening"... it has brought into focus all the different things that life and others have been trying to teach me. I get it now. I guess I just needed it put to me in a certain way for the penny to drop. Some people are lucky; they get it without all the emotional fuss and tortuous questioning. They simply get it from what their lives have taught them. Some of us need a little help.
Here's hoping that now I have it, I don't lose it again...

For it's easy to be positive when things are running smoothly. The trick is in not allowing the speed bumps of life to throw us off course. Most of the time, life happens gradually - it's like that whole cooking a frog story [1]. You think everything is fine until one day you realise you're not happy, and that you have been slowly becoming unhappier over time. It doesn't just happen in an instant. Clawing your way back from this can take just as long as it took to get there in the first place.

So what is it that I'm yabbering on about today? Let's just say I hit a speed bump last night, although exactly what it was, I am unable to tell you (not because I don't want to but because I honestly have no idea why I reacted the way I did!)
I am pleased to report, though, that after a few hours of Terri-time today and a little bit of sunshine outside for a change, I am well on my way to regaining that Balance I've been cultivating of late [2].


[1] I forget the details but it's something along the lines of you can't boil a frog by tossing it into hot water because it'll just jump out... instead you put him in cold water and slowly turn up the heat. Horrible metaphor, I know!

[2] I have learned that if you say it enough then it becomes true. Cool trick.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

all work and no play...

Life is all about priorities, don't you think? Well, that's not all that it's about, obviously, but it sort of is because it's the thing that sorts out all the other stuff that life is about.
It's also about balance. We all need balance in our lives. Balance between work and play; between making money and spending it; between looking after others and looking after ourselves.

For a very long time I have felt that my life lacked balance. I never seemed to have enough time or energy left over for myself after doing all the stuff that I felt I should be doing. It may be that I have a rather over-developed sense of duty.

Lately, though, something seems to have twigged in my brain. I've always said that I can't do everything - and it's true. But whereas before I saw it as a personal shortcoming, I have now finally learned to accept that this is true not just of me, but of everyone, which means I am no longer trying so hard to do everything.
Talk about an epiphany!
I don't even want to think about how much energy I have wasted on stressing about not getting everything done.

This is not to say I've thrown my hands up in defeat. Not at all. I have been working seriously long, hard hours the last few weeks (months? dunno - not counting).
But to balance that out, I have also done some serious amounts of NOTHING, and it's been so good for me.
It does, unfortunately, have the side-effect of making me a tad boring. When one does nothing, there is very little to tell people.

"So what have you been up to lately, Terri?"
"Er, nothing much. You know, working, eating, sleeping..."

Not a great conversation-maker.

Well boo hoo. After working as hard as I have been, I deserve to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon. And a Sunday afternoon. And on Saturday and Sunday mornings, if I feel that way inclined.
Knowing that I deserve this rest, that it gives balance to my life, makes it a lot easier to enjoy the time spent doing nothing without stressing about what I should be doing instead.

The best part is, it turns out the rest of the family are perfectly capable of housework, and of feeding themselves and each other and, most importantly, me :-)
All it took was for me to tell them, "Hey guys, I'm working my ass off and I'm exhausted - I need a little help here."
And I got it.
Fancy that.

So I'm still working hard, but I'm resting hard too.
And in working hard, I'm earning a fair bit of extra money in Overtime. To balance that out, I booked a week away on a Greek island for Hubby and I next month. I made it, I can spend it. See how simple it is?

All that's left now is to figure out where to prioritise some regular blog-time and I'll be set!
I miss you guys.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Is that a ship I see on the horizon..?

One of my photographs has been published. I knew fame and fortune had to happen sooner or later...
Switch the view from map to photos and take a look at the "Merrion Square" photos under "Attractions and Landmarks". I think mine is about the 4th one

Friday, March 07, 2008

about this whole turning-over-a-new-leaf thing...

I bought a book last Sunday, called The Secret". I wasn't sure what to expect but it has a cover that sort of makes you want to open it and see what's inside.
So I did, and I started reading it, and it blew me away. You have to read the book to know what I'm on about but it's all about how our thoughts shape our lives. It's not just enough to agree with this, you have to know it.

It talks about a lot of stuff, but one of the things I picked out was what the author says about weight. Now, I don't exactly battle with my weight - my whole life I've been one of those fortunate people who can eat what they want without picking up weight. So I wasn't concerned when I put on a couple of kilograms over the winter - after all, haven't I always been able to lose them again easily enough? Only, I seemed to carry on picking up weight, until my favourite jeans became so tight I could barely sit down in them. And I started wondering if perhaps what they say about it getting harder to lose weight as one gets older is true. And the waistline kept expanding and the butt continued to droop.

So when the author of this book said that the trick is to Think yourself Thin, I figured I'd give it a shot, and for the last 4 days I have been telling myself that I am my perfect weight, and that I look great... and I've been believing it to a point where I've actually seen myself looking nice and slim when I look in the mirror. There was a minor glitch this morning when I put on my black work trousers and they felt really tight, but I persevered and kept believing I look great.

And now comes the punchline...
I was standing at the printer this morning and a woman I work with walked past, stopped, turned around and said, "You're looking lovely and slim, Terri..."
It was all I could do not to laugh out loud! I just smiled and thanked her but inside I was laughing my ass off (haha, get the pun?!).
There's something to be said for this Secret!

So here's my good vibe for today: Have a fantastic weekend, all of you!

Monday, March 03, 2008

some random things

Friday we had "Smart-Casual day" at work. It is no longer referred to as "Casual Day" due to the vast quantities of belly-rings and other attire deemed unsuitable for a corporate financial institution that were in evidence a couple of years back. I don't really mind; it makes no difference to me. I like "Smart-Casual" days 'cos I get to wear jeans to work. I feel comfy in jeans and I believe it actually improves my productivity. They don't occur very often - normally only on Fridays preceding a Bank Holiday Monday weekend. This was an exception.
This "Smart-Casual Day" was to mark something called "Work / Life Balance Day".
The irony was not lost on me that this particular day was being celebrated on the 29th of February... a day that only comes around every 4 years.
And I had to work late.
I found this all terribly amusing; I'm not sure what that says about my sense of humour or my state of mind.

Despite being on-call for work all weekend, it actually wasn't all that bad, as weekends go. Yesterday, in particular, turned out to be a good day. I awoke slowly, in my own time, which is always a bonus, a few minutes before there was a light tapping on the door and when it opened there were my stepchildren bearing coffee and muffins. I was just wondering what on earth Hubby and I had done to deserve such special treatment when they grinned and wished me Happy Mother's Day. Ah, right, so that's what it was. Cool! Breakfast in bed came complete with flowers and a card too. I was really touched (and not just in the head!) and all in all I ended up having a pretty damn good day.

So I'm trying to start again. Every now and then when things get crazy at work and I get all stressed out, then I get tired and start getting ratty at home too. I can be very difficult to live with at such times; I dislike myself so I can only imagine what the people I live with must go through. I get irritated really quickly and all I see is the stuff that isn't done, or isn't done right (i.e. MY way) and I feel like a fishwife, banging pots & pans in the kitchen or flinging odd socks around the place.
Well yesterday I was browsing around a bookstore and I came away with a couple of books to help me readjust my attitude. I am going to think positive about everything; I am not going to allow work to stress me out; I am going to be more pleasant to be around.
But ya know, it's just not that simple. I was doing so well this morning and then BAM! One thing follows the next, follows the next and the next thing you know I'm biting my tongue not to shake someone until their teeth rattle. Is this the Universe's cruel sense of humour?
"Uh-oh, quick, she's starting to relax, let's see just how much it takes to make her crack and return to her bitchy ways!"
Can I please get a break over here???!
I will win out, you know, in the end.
I have to.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

time bombed

Well goodness me and golly gosh, where does the time go?!

I'd say I spent the last week as follows:
Work: 50%
Sleep: 40%
Housework: 3%
Shopping: 2%
Watching TV: 3%
Email / Blogging, etc: 1%
Getting my hair done: 1%

A couple of things to note here:
1 - Only about half the shopping was boring old groceries. Cinderella and I went shopping just for fun on Saturday and bought some clothes for ourselves just for fun. It was my kind of shopping: cheap stuff that I don't expect to last more than 5 washes but that's OK 'cos at that price I get to go shopping again soon to replace it.

2 - On the Hair thing: I forgot to mention that we went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night in honour of my new haircut. I HATED the last cut and it had finally grown out to point where it could be fixed so I decided to celebrate. Well I had to have some excuse for going out, didn't I?

So what was the point of this little exercise? Well I'm not 100% sure, mostly because I'm too bloody tired from working so hard to even think straight. This post could, in fact, have started life as a rant about work but I just don't have the energy.

It ties in well with what I'm really trying to say, though: 1% on email AND blogging (etc[1])?! That's just not good enough. I'm supposed to fancy myself as an amateur writer of sorts... like a hobby that maybe might one day turn into something I could retire to do full-time. Blogging is a great way to keep the writing juices flowing. On those days when you don't have time to work on that story you've been writing, you write up a quick post for your blog, just to keep in practice.
Having half an hour a week to write is just not cutting the mustard! It's been bugging me... but I've been too weary to do anything about it.

It's really annoying.

Having said that, I did manage to do a little bit of creative writing over the weekend, late on Sunday afternoon. My friend Jason Evans is hosting a little Short Fiction contest over at The Clarity of Night, you see, and the photograph he posted for it did it's job well and inspired me to pick up a pen (figuratively speaking, of course - nobody uses pens anymore!) and add my contribution.
You may read the fruits of my labour here.
It's not exactly my finest literary masterpiece but it's better than what I've been writing lately which is pretty much, um, nothing.

Thank you, Jason, for spurring me out of my slump for an afternoon.

Now, if everyone could just spare me 10 minutes of free time over the next few days, maybe I'll finally get to spend some more time with you guys in Blogland. For now, sleep beckons....


[1] The "etc" is the dreaded "F" word - Facebook. It just seems rude not to poke people back y'know?

Monday, February 18, 2008

a day in the life...

07:00 Wake up 'cos Hubby has to get up to go to work. Thank the universe that I'm on late shift so can sleep another 15 minutes. Roll over, shove head under Hubby's pillow and sprawl comfortably. Snore a bit.

07:15 Pandemonium wakes me - phone is throwing a fit with alarm going off. Phone is not next to bed where it should be. Hubby charges out of bathroom to dig in my handbag, finds phone and hands it to me to switch off. Am now completely awake. Get up, shower, etc at leisure... after all, am on late shift this week; no need to rush.

07:55 Check the letter in my rucksack to confirm I have to be at hospital for blood test at 09:301. Oh sh*t! Appointment is actually for 08:30. Panic a bit then gobble down half a bowl of cereal and leave house for first time in about 20 years without first having coffee.

08:20 Turn off motoway to follow big blue H sign to the hospital.

08:30 Stuck in traffic and not at all sure I'm going in the right direction.

08:40 Spy another big blue H sign down road on the right and thank universe for red traffic lights.

08:50 Stop in the hospital parking lot, remove helmet, balaclava, gloves and rucksack. Dig in rucksack for phone and ring the bloody lab to find out where I'm supposed to go.

09:00 Announce myself at the window, take a number and wait.

09:55 Blood test is done, using special test tube to outsmart clumping platelets. Have arrived at work after following naught but my impeccable sense of direction to find my way to work through an area I don't know at all. Pat self on back, change into working clothes and saunter up to desk.

10:05 Arrive at desk to find new young colleague looking pale and panicked and lots of managers looking worried and talking in hushed voices. Pick up info from garbled rumours that air-conditioning failed or pipe burst or something and Comms Room is under an inch of water. Still haven't had coffee. This is not good.

10:10 Establish that nothing has actually failed... yet. Boss arrives and takes over worrying. I get to have a cup of coffee at last.

13:24 Panic is over, water is gone (mostly) thanks to long-suffering Hoover. Ask universe if perhaps I should have stayed home today? Try to remember what I started doing before I was interrupted by an interruption of an interruption of an interruption 2 hours ago. Check today's canteen menu online.

15:35 Is it just me or is it really hot in the office today? Ah, no it's not just me. The air-conditioning is faulty (again) and the temperature is around 29°C (84°F) at my desk. I know this 'cos one of my colleagues has a thermometer at her desk. According to my Accuweather Info Bar in Firefox, it is currently 7°C (45°F) outside. We're debating who to nominate to go demand free ice cream from the boss.

15:42 The guy behind me discovered that Ryanair now charges €4 to check in at the airport. Much muttering and head shaking abounds.

16:46 Interrupt myself to change picture on my PC desktop. Now staring wistfully at photo of Montreux, remembering how nice it was there and how much fun biking 'round Europe was.

17:01 Reviewed weekend in head. Think personal emotional crisis is past. Wonder if going to Salsa club with Hubby and step-children + step-daughter's friend on Saturday night is normal. What's the opposite of dysfunctional?

17:07 Very painful sneeze due to putting neck out while sleeping last night. OUCH!!! Thank universe I don't sneeze very often. Wonder just what I was up to in sleep to cause neck to go out.

17:08 Will this day ever end??

17:15 Wonder how to allocate blogging on today's timesheet. Oh bollocks! More work to do...

17:25 Only 45 minutes to go. Sneak login to Blogger to post this rubbish... oops boss is back. Scratch that.

19:28 Home at last. Had great (if chilly) ride home on motorbike :-)

20:27 Tummy full. Hubby made supper, yay! Kids cleaned up afterwards, double yay! "Heroes" is on in an hour, yay and woohoo!

I guess not all Mondays that start out bad end up that way, eh?


Apparently I have clumped platelets1.1 so my doc sent me direct to the lab as they have to order in a special tube. Just part of a regular checkup, so don't panic.

Seriously... "Clumping Platelets"??? WTF??!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

you may want to get some kleenex...

I have a friend, a very close friend. Our parents were mates from before we were born and so we've been playing together since I was maybe two years old, when we moved from my hometown of Port Elizabeth to what was then the Transvaal. Her family was there already and although we lived in different towns we would get together as families regularly throughout my childhood. If memory serves, it would start as a lunchtime Braai that would last the whole day and result in a sleepover, no doubt due to the amount of Lagers consumed by the adults. As a kid I was oblivious to the why's and wherefore's, though. It was just fun to stay over and spend time playing.

After my father passed away - I was 7 - we moved away, back to Port Elizabeth. And that was when I first got into letter-writing. Thirty-four years later, my friend and I are as close as ever, though the letter-writing has been replaced by email and SMS. Even though we have never lived in the same town (except for 2 months when I was 23 when we lived in the same house, never mind city), my friend and I have been through everything together. First kisses (..etc), heartbreaks, fears, marriages, divorces, births... mostly through letter and telephone.

We are so different from each other. I was always the shy one, a follower, cautious. She was always larger than life, brash, unafraid. I think she likes that I make her laugh. I love that she takes no shit from anyone. It's an odd mix, but it works. We may not be blood relatives but she is as much a sister to me as those I share parents with.

This past week my dear friend's husband passed away suddenly. And every time I think about it I cry because I'm not there with her, my friend, who holds a very dear part of my heart in hers. My heart is breaking because hers is, I feel her loss almost as my own.
I very nearly made the 12-hour flight to be with her, but after calming down and thinking about it I changed my mind. Her parents are with her and if I think about it practically, she probably doesn't need too many people around her now. I would imagine she needs time to absorb what has happened and adjust her life accordingly. In a little while, once the shock has passed, I will think again about making the trip... in fact I think I've already decided I will, because I know that a time will come where perhaps I will be able to do more for her by being there than I would right now. I could hear in her voice on the phone that she appreciated just hearing my voice. We sat in silence for a few minutes on the phone the day it happened, there was nothing to say, I just wanted to be there with her.

You know, I became aware during my period of getting my head right a while back that I have a tendency to make other peoples' problems my own; that when someone I love is in trouble I take it into myself as if it were happening to me. This is not a good thing to do and I have learned to distance myself, to do what I can if I can and then let it go. It's a much healthier way of living and I think I have made this change of mindset rather well. The point is I can see where some might think I am taking this bereavement personally... and I do feel bereaved;
Although I didn't know her husband all that well, it was still a shock.
But I don't think my heartache is because I am taking someone else's pain personally. I don't think I am going through this as she is. And I don't think the pain I am feeling is because what has happened to my friend is the very thing I fear most in life.

What I do see, with unusual clarity, is that the loss I am feeling is my own. It is the fact that I feel an almost primal instinct to be with my friend but I'm so far away that I can't be, not from a practical point of view... it's everything I feel about being away from my homeland all gathered into one single identifiable point. Having it all spread out like it normally is, is manageable; the odd moment of homesickness, or missing my mom, a my friend, or a sister; the occasional feeling of anxiety - what if something happens to someone and I'm not there? But this, this thing that has happened, this monstrous tragedy has brought it all into one single lump of grief in my heart that is terribly hard to bear.

She will be OK, this friend of mine. She is strong and has been through enough in this life to be able to pick up the pieces and carry on. I know this because of what she said to me a couple of days ago, that at least she got to have a few years with him, a few years where he made her happy.
I only wish that she'd had a few more...

+ Rest in Peace, Andy +