Friday, July 10, 2009

What do you see when you look out your window?

From my desk I can see the top few floors of the buildings on the next block.
Building 1 is a social housing type apartment block. The residents wear track-suits and yell a lot and I'm fairly sure many of the conversations we witness during the day could very well be drug deals. But who am I to judge.
The building next to that is an office block. Slightly bedgraggled flowers in pots occupy window sills next to stacks of papers and pen-holders, and the window-blinds are always rolled up. Occasionally I see people moving around in the murkiness inside; probably, like us, getting up to a) make coffee b) have a meeting c) potty / smoke break or d) lunch break. Not terribly interesting.
Building 3 is the prettiest of the lot. It has been built in the manner of the French style, with rooms in the roof, so to speak. I think it is an apartment block because the windows all look different from each other. I never see signs of life, leading me to believe the people who live there are not home during the day; i.e. they have jobs or go to college or do whatever else fills their lives... Except for the window on the end, second from the top. It seems a young couple live there. Every morning at around 11:50 Rapunzel flings the window open as wide as it will go, and smokes a cigarette, blowing the smoke outside. I notice the time because it's 10 minutes before I head downstairs for my own midday fag. She obviously doesn't want the apartment to smell of smoke; my guess is she is house-proud - there are 4 healthy-looking potplants on that window-sill and the curtains are prettily draped. And yes, I call her Rapunzel because she has really long blonde hair.
Her flatmate is as just as predictable but much more disturbing. He must work night shift because every afternoon he arrives at the window for a good ol' stretch as if he's just rolled out of bed... stark naked. It's kind of distracting, for example if I'm on the phone with a colleague and I happen to glance out of my window just at that moment to see yer man in all his glory exposing himself to the Universe - does anyone remember the whole "Ugly Naked Guy" debacle from Friends...?!

Yep, sometimes my life is just one big sitcom.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Holiday snaps

Hello all! (All being the 3 of you who still read this blog. You're still there, aren't you?)

Well we're about half way through our holiday and having a ball but man, being on holiday can be tiring. I've done more socialising in the last week than I have in the last 6 months.
And I caught a cold. But that's OK, I'm surviving and it's great to be home.

The weather is great - as expected, warmer here in mid-Winter than Dublin is at the moment where it is mid-Summer. Our neighbours, who are travelling with us, can't quite get over it.

We spent the first 3 days in Cape Town and an old friend of ours was kind enough to play tour guide and show us around the place. He even stopped regularly so I could take photographs, although the temptation to disrupt my photography almost got the better of him outside the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay...

We hired a car and drove from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, breaking the trip into 2 days so as not to overwhelm our Irish friends too much with the vastness of our beautiful country.

I was glad we decided on this. Normally Hubby would be in such a rush to get the 800km drive over with that there's no way he would have stopped for me to take arbitrary pictures such as this one...

But he did, so I could, and you lucky things are the beneficiaries.

Well since getting to Port Elizabeth we have been on the go non-stop. There are so many things going on I am not even going to scratch the surface of them now. To be honest I am sort of on auto-pilot right now, hence the fluffy photo post. It's about all I can manage but I sort of needed to do something to take myself away from reality for a few minutes. I'd forgotten how draining it can be to come home, sometimes.

We're going to see some lions tomorrow (hopefully) and this weekend we're heading off to a game farm where the lads will do some hunting and we gals will probably do a lot of book reading and nail painting. Aaah, some rest, at last...


Monday, June 08, 2009

Little Grey Meltdown

What exactly are the symptoms of a mental breakdown? How does a person know they're having one?
Or 'burnout' for that matter... are they the same thing?
I look around me at all the people going about their daily lives without problem or issue or interruption, mundane smiles and normal expressions on their faces and I wonder, "How the hell do they do it?"
Here I sit, at my desk, the only thing keeping me from falling apart completely are the earphones playing the beautiful music of Rob Thomas in my head. Or the sassy tones of Daniel Powter. Giving vent to my expressive side. Because heaven forbid I should express myself at work - that is Simply Not Acceptable.
The Little Grey People, you see, among whose millions of numbers I am counted as one, are not allowed to be expressive. We sit at our desks, shuffle papers (or, as in my case, tap on keyboards) and smile benignly at one another, then go home to our standard-design houses in sprawling estates and do what all the other Little Grey People do, week in and week out.
I'm afraid I don't think I can do this anymore, though. I'm afraid that if I live the life of a Little Grey Person for much longer my head may just explode and that would just be terribly, terribly messy.
Luckily for all concerned, I am about to go on holiday. "Again?!" I hear you ask. Yes, again. Hubby and I are going back to South Africa for 2 1/2 weeks, and this time our friends / neighbours are coming with us. (This one of those ideas... born in a bottle of wine while watching the home movies we've been transferring from video tape to DVD... They wanted to see what our homeland looks like, the next thing you know we're booking flights!)
So anyway, yes, another holiday. And not a moment too soon.

It doesn't sound like the life of a Little Grey Person, does it? Then again, how often do I update this blog? Only every time I have something interesting to share. In fact most of the time I fudge it, in fact. Sorry about that. I'm hoping that will change shortly though.
Watch this space.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Soundtrack to The Life Of Terri

I started writing this post a very long time ago - 2005, in fact. I kinda borrowed it from fellow blogger Undr, who has long-since departed the blogosphere (more's the pity). He was a really nice guy, and I'm sure he won't mind me using his idea.

The idea is to compile the soundtrack to the movie that is my life.
This is not my list of favourite songs - not even close. They are just songs that have very strong memories attached to them.
So I guess mine goes something like this:

1. Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell) - It's the first song I remember knowing the words to. I must have been all of about 4 years old and I remember dancing around in the kitchen when it played on the radio while my mom was doing whatever it was that moms do in kitchens when one is 4 years old.

2. Dancing Queen (ABBA) - Memories of cold winters in the Transvaal (South Africa), me and my sisters dancing to this in our pyjamas in front of the old asbestos heater in the lounge after we'd had our bath on a Sunday evening. I'm sure our parents were mightily entertained.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) - Makes me think of my oldest friend, when we were kids and our parents used to have parties together. In hindsight I'd say there was an awful lot of beer, etc, consumed by our parents. We were oblivious, happy just to have long days and nights to play together.

4. Cracklin' Rose (Neil Diamond) - We gave my father a Neil Diamond tape for one of his birthdays when I was a child and we listened to it in the car on the way to a weekend away at a hot springs resort called De Bron. I got dunked in the swimming pool that weekend and it scared the wits out of me. I also ran full-tilt down a hill and smacked into a split-pole fence (I just didn't see it!) giving myself an almighty black eye. D'oh!

5. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel) - Another car song that reminds me of my dad, and my sisters, because we all love it and my Mom still has the LP at her house. Hey, I just noticed the connection to #4..!

6. Lawyers in Love (Jackson Browne) - One of the first songs I remember from when I first started taking an interest in the Top 20. Cool song, and I still love it.

7. Two Tribes (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) - Aah, my first boyfriend... He was shorter than me, and when he dumped me (via a note passed across the classroom) he told me I was too pushy and should go burn my bra. The laugh was on him - I hadn't started wearing bra's yet, haha!

8. You Win Again (Bee Gees) - From the first time I heard this song I knew it would make #1. I love being right!

9. You Spin Me Round (Dead or Alive) - Ooh, my first French Kiss... I didn't have a clue what to do!

10. Wake me up before you go-go (Wham!) - Dancing in front of the TV with my oldest friend and singing our heads off. Puberty, eh? Oh wait, I still do that ;-)

11. Last Christmas (Wham!) - Hm, 2 "Wham!" songs in a row? My first unrequited love - someone told me I had a crush on him so he asked me to dance to this song, and I thought I was in heaven. That was really nice of him, don't you think? One of those far too infrequent random acts of kindness.

12. With or Without You (U2) - I kissed my first Serious boyfriend to this. It was the 80's; a time of tight jeans and big hair. Needless to say none of it lasted.

13. Locomotion (Kylie Minogue) - My final year in high school - what a party! Kylie pretty much summarises it... (ooh, and there was also that Beach Boys song that year... "Kokomo" - good times...!)

14. Sealed with a Kiss (Jason Donovan) - He broke my heart...

15. Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers) - Always made me cry because of the movie "Ghost", but then hubby dispelled all of that by dancing to it with me when we were on holidays in the Canary Islands a few years back. We were the only two people on the dance floor and it was incredibly romantic :-)

16. Black Velvet (Allanah Myles) - My party years as a student. This particular song always brings to mind my very good friend, who has the voice of an angel. Sadly, we're not friends anymore, in the way the world taught me I could expect to get kicked in the teeth when I'm not expecting it.

17. I Can't fight this feeling (REO Speedwagon) - First time I danced with hubby, long before he was my hubby. He sang this softly in my ear while we danced and I still think of it as "our song". The lyrics could've been written for us, and tug at my heart every time I hear them.

18. Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden) - Rang out at our wedding after the signing of the register. I chose it because of the

19. Angels (Robbie Williams) - I went mad on Robbie when we moved over to Ireland because you couldn't go half an hour with the radio on without hearing one of his songs. I was on a bus going to work one cold, dark morning, and when Angels came on the radio the bus driver turned up the volume just a tad, and everyone on the bus fell completely silent until the song had finished.
Then there was me and 135000 other people who sang it 'unplugged' at his concert in Phoenix Park here one summer... magic!

20. Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison) - The "Thelma & Louise" moment of my life: driving through the countryside in Cyprus with my sister, wind blowing in our hair, sun shining, and us singing our hearts out with not a care in the world!

21. Unwell (Matchbox 20) - Pretty much covers how I've been feeling the last 5 years or so. Check out the link. Enough said.

22. There's something missing here and I'm not really sure what it is. Although, perhaps it's exactly what I'm listening to right now. Here's a shocker: something classical. Because I even stopped writing a few minutes ago to close my eyes and listen to and dance in my head to Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the flowers from the Nutcracker (and to be honest my feet and hands were going a bit berserk too).
It symbolises something that has been a constant in my life; the style may have changed over the years - from ballet as a kid, to disco and then club, and now Salsa, but dancing has always been an important form of expression for me and this piece of music is so uplifting that it's impossible NOT to want to dance to it. Do yourself a favour; take a few minutes of time-out and click the link; check out the audience and you'll know what I mean. And tell me you don't feel uplifted afterwards.

Well I think that about covers it so far.
I'll let you know about the sequel in another thirty-something years...

Friday, May 22, 2009

can I have my brain back please?

For the last few years I have been fighting a losing battle against migraines. I find the whole thing terribly frustrating, particularly since up until I started getting them, I didn't believe in them. I thought they were just a word used by people who had a bad headache when they wanted the world to feel sorry for them. So when I started getting these 'headaches' that wouldn't let up for 3 days at a time, accompanied by nausea and extreme sensitivity to light and noise, and leave me feeling like I'd swum the English Channel or something afterwards, I was rather annoyed when I was diagnosed with the word "Migraine".
The worst part about these things is that no painkillers help. Some of them manage to dull the pain slightly, but most just make me sleepy. And considering that one of the symptoms is extreme 'grogginess' (for want of a better term), this is Just Not Cool.
I have tried a number of things in an attempt to bring them under control. I cut out caffeine, for one thing. This did help, to a degree; it brought the frequency of the attacks down to about once a month. But they have still been getting steadily worse and it is getting to a point where I just want to sit in a corner and cry when I get them, now. I am losing the will to fight.

I think my GP finally got the message because he referred me to a Neurologist, whom I went to see a couple of weeks back.
It turns out there's hope.
He asked me a bunch of questions, made me touch my nose with my fingertip and walk in a straight line and checked my hearing and reflexes. He then sent me for an MRI scan, and put me on medication, which I should apparently take for up to a year, after which, if all goes according to plan, the migraines should disappear. Hallelujah!!!
(They couldn't have tried this a few years back...?!!)
The MRI is a just-in-case thing, to be 100% sure that there isn't a cabbage growing in my head or something, but he seemed pretty confident they wouldn't find anything. The cool thing about that is that I now have pictures of my brain. The not-so-cool thing about it is that halfway through the scan I discovered I am, in fact, quite claustrophobic. Not the greatest timing in the world, and it wasn't an experience I would be in a hurry to repeat; I soon forgot the giggles I had when I initially went into the machine (eyes closed) and the weird mechanical noises started and the thought crossed my mind that this must be what it feels like to be abducted by aliens. Just a hint: If you ever have an MRI, KEEP YOUR EYES CLOSED. Pretend you're in a field of daisies or something. It's much better than the reality which is that you're in a Very Confined Space where Nobody Can Hear You.

That aside, this whole post is not actually to give you a guide on how to behave when getting an MRI, nor a complete medical history on Yours Truly. What I actually wanted to share was something of an epiphany.

You see, two days after I started on these tablets the Doc gave me, something truly weird happened. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I just felt strange; but in an entirely good way. My mood lifted quite suddenly and it was as if I was really there, in my skin, instead of slightly disconnected from the world; as if a veil had been lifted. I felt focused - my thoughts, my vision, my feelings and even sensation. The word that popped into my head was "Clarity".
It felt bloody wonderful, let me tell you!
I find this extremely difficult to explain, but I want to try because it is a really big deal to me. It has been a difficult few years for me; apart from the migraines I also went through quite a bad depression that involved medication and therapy - all of these are things that I never thought would happen to me, but never mind that now. Somewhere in the midst of struggling through all of this I lost my mental sharpness. This is the part that is hard to explain and I fear I may end up sounding somewhat condescending or uppity or ... oh what the hell, this is my blog so if you don't like it, don't read it. Throughout my whole life the one thing I never had to worry about was my intelligence. I'm a very bright girl and I don't think I have ever been confronted with anything that I thought was too difficult for me to do, or to figure out. It was kind of comforting to know that I could always count on my brain. But somewhere in the last few years that changed. I started finding it difficult to concentrate at work, and battled to work through problems. The last course I went on was almost frightening in the way I just wasn't able to keep up. And then the unthinkable happened: I actually failed an exam.
Needless to say this hasn't done my self-esteem much good, but that, too, is another topic entirely.
When all this went on, I just accepted it as part of getting older; I figured I was now over 35, and they say the mind is the first to go and this was obviously what was happening to me. Best I just learn to accept my new limitations because there's nothing that can be done about it.

Except... then the Clarity came. And I was able to do my work and know when I was done that I hadn't made any mistakes, that I had remembered to check everything, and that it wasn't necessary to go over everything again. I did, anyway, almost unable to believe it, and I was right. There were no mistakes. I was able to hold my focus all the way through the task at hand. I was also able to hold conversations without losing the thread of what I was saying. I was.... Lucid!
It even showed when we went out over the weekend and I played a game of pool. When I put my mind to it I was able to willingly focus on what I was doing. I haven't been able to do that in such a long time... and I had thought I wouldn't be able to do that again.
And I never said anything to anyone, because I thought they'd think I was just mad.
Perhaps I thought I was a little mad.

All of which leads me to suspect that these migraine things are worse than I thought; One of the symptoms, as I told the Neurologist, is a sensation of being 'disconnected' from myself and the world. But what I didn't realise, because it's been that way for so long, is that even between the episodes where the headaches attack so violently, I think I have still had some of the other symptoms lingering; this constant mental noise or fog being one of them. (A need for afternoon naps is another - I made it through last weekend without even considering a nap!)

Now I'm not a medical expert by any means and perhaps I should spend some more time on Google with this thing. Or perhaps I'll just mention it the next time I see the man.
But right now I am just holding out hope that perhaps I'm not crazy... and perhaps I will get my brain back after all.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Holiday, Portuguese style

I'm going to give you the abridged version of the Trip Report this time.

Portugal was Fantastic!!!

Hm, I guess I should say a bit more than that. OK, here goes...

The hotel was lovely. If ever you decide you want to nip off to a small, quiet-ish town in the Algarve you should try the Tivoli Almansor in Carvoeiro. The room was spacious, the food brilliant and the staff impeccably helpful. And you can only imagine the view from our room on the 6th floor...


We took it easy for the first couple of days, then did one or two things in between relaxing. Being a de facto Irishwoman, it would be remiss of me not to mention the weather: It was Great! Plenty of warmth and sunshine, just what we needed. It was tempered only by a chilly breeze on our last couple of days there but it wasn't cold enough to keep us indoors by any means.

To help us relax, on our second day there Dave had a full body masssage, while I decided to see what Reiki was all about. I had a migraine so I was desperate enough to try anything to get rid of it. Well I don't know if I would rush back and do it again but I must admit that lying in a room with only candles for light, with classical music playing while someone energises your shakras (is that right?) is a wonderful way to relax. And to be fair, a few hours later the migraine lifted so who knows. Perhaps it wasn't just coincidence.

On day 3 Dave decided it was time for us to get off our sun loungers and do something. So we went scuba diving. We were both scuba-virgins and I must admit I was a little nervous. We got a bit of a theory lesson, then squeezed into our wetsuits and plopped into the swimming pool.


It was really convenient to have the scuba-diving centre on the hotel premises where we could practise in the pool before heading down to the private beach and into the sea (once I had gotten my head around breathing while underwater, and moved on from a mild panic attack in the process). Dave, of course, took to it like he'd been doing it his whole life. And when we did venture into the sea, I loved it! There were still a few moments of angst but the instructor was so kind, he actually held my hand while we were underwater, which helped to reassure me.
I was truly touched at how kind and patient he was - would that there were more people like that in the world.

We did a bit of shopping while we were there, too. The little town of Carvoeiro has some great little clothing shops, but me being the bargain-hunter that I am, I waited until we went on a day-trip to the inland town of Loulé, where we spent a few hours wandering around a Gypsey market. I didn't buy any Gypsies, but I did pick up a beautiful dress, among other things.


We also ate a snack from a caravan there, that smelled and tasted just like Vetkoek[1].

On our second-last day the wind was blowing fairly strongly, not great for sunbathing at all. I wanted to walk up to the end of the cliff we could see from our room; it looked really inviting for some reason. So we did this, and ended up spending the whole morning on the cliffs, walking and climbing a bit, stopping to find sheltered spots to sit and stare out to sea and watch the seagulls, of which there were plenty. The way they played on the wind and squawked and cried to each other made me want to come back as a seagull in my next life. It just looks like so much fun!


And that was the sum total of our activity while we were there. Apart, of course, from our evening meals. I love going to a different restaurant every night, and the food didn't disappoint at all. There wasn't much other night life to speak of. We tried to have a big night on the Saturday night after our dinner, but the few bars and pubs that were open were pretty much empty, save a small number of golfers. I can't imagine why one would go to such a lovely part of the world and play Golf all day, and spend all night with your Golfing buddies. But then I'm not a man. Apparently beauty and romance are not high on their list of priorities.


So that, in a nutshell, was our holiday in the Algarve. It was the sort of place that I could happily have not come home from. Sunshine, friendly people, slow pace of life, great food and beautiful scenery - what more could a girl ask for?!

If you're interested in seeing more of my photos from the holiday, check out my Flickr photostream.


[1] Vetkoek: A traditional South African food, basically a really light dough mixture that is deep-fried the way Donuts are. Yum. Yum. Yum!

Monday, April 20, 2009

some time can be such a drag

This has to be the longest afternoon in History. The sun is shining brightly outside with only a faint breeze to stir the air; the window next to my desk is open 'cos the aircon went on the blink earlier so I can hear the sounds of summer outside. Have you ever noticed how Summer days sound different? It's almost like you can hear the sunshine.

(Don't get the wrong idea here; when I say Summer I only mean it's not grey, cold and wet outside. This is still Ireland, after all. For us 14° Celcius is genuinely pleasant after our long, dreary Winter, though I realise this is hardly rush-out-and-get-a-tan weather.)

So here I sit inside at my desk with nothing to do (it's been really quiet here just lately, I'm pretty sure it won't last, though) and all I wanna do is leave now, get out there in the sunshine and... well just be anywhere except where I am.
Tick-tock Tick-tock
I'm sure my impatience to get started on my holiday is not helping matters.
Tick-tock Tick-tock
Did I mention I'm on holiday for a week starting tomorrow?
Tick-tock Tick-tock
Ugh, if the minutes were going any slower I'd be getting younger...!
Tick-tock Tick-tock
Not that I'd complain about that, though. Maybe I'd get my old butt back then. I'm not so very fond of the new one, I gotta tellya.
Tick-tock Tick-tock
45 Minutes to go.
I doubt I can drag this post out that long though. I just don't have that much to say.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I dreamt about home last night. Home as in my home town in South Africa. Only, it wasn't really my home town - it looked completely different - but I knew I was home because it felt like home and I knew where everything was. Plus, I knew it wasn't Ireland because the sun was shining and it was warm.
I've dreamt of that place before, the same as it was in my dream. It must be the way my brain has put images and scenes from home together in my head. There is a long promenade running along the beachfront, lined with seafood restaurants, bars and cafés. Further out there is a big cliff overlooking the sea, where I like to park the car and take photographs of the sunset; from there I can look down and see a large cultivated park where people walked their dogs and take their children to play. Further inland dense green bush hides camping grounds and game farms; places people go for long weekends, reached by red-gravel roads.
In my dream I didn't want to leave but I had to; I guess you don't have to be Freud to figure this one out..!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coincidence? Or shared consciousness?

I overheard a conversation between some of my colleagues this morning, in which they were discussing George Clooney. It was nothing new: the same tired argument - the men were saying he is gay, the women were arguing. In my personal opinion the only reason men say this is that they are all horribly jealous of M. Clooney - and why wouldn't they be?!
But that is not the point here.

The point is the weirdness, and that is that this conversation pinged something in my head and I suddenly remembered that I dreamt about the man himself last night. Yep, George Clooney, large as life, was in my dreams. It wasn't one of those dreams either (unfortunately); it was far more realistic. I was in jeans and a T-shirt, he was in a group of people obviously pandering to his every need (secretaries, publicists and the like) but for some reason we started a conversation and he ignored all of them for a few minutes. It was then that I told him I'd always known we would meet each other, which he found very amusing. We got along really well, and then he had to go, which was a little sad but sure, I have a husband you know and I have no desire to be part of the whole Hollywood scene. Far too many fake people there for my liking!

Yeah, kind of boring, I know.
Makes you wish it WAS one of those dreams, doesn't it.

The thing is, though, it's not as if dear George is a regular topic of conversation in our office. Nor do I dream of him every night (more's the pity...!) So what's up with the timing?
It's like when you think of someone, out of the blue, who hasn't entered your mind in ages and then the next day you bump into them on the street. That happened to me a LOT, with one particular person, actually - the ex-boyfriend of one of my sisters. If it had happened once, OK I can put it down to coincidence. Twice, maybe. But we're talking about maybe up to 10 times, spanning a period of something silly like a decade.
(And then one day we moved into a new house only to discover a few months later that this guy was one of our neighbours!)

There comes a point where I have to start wondering: Is there such a thing as coincidence? Or is there something going on in our subconscious that creates these things. Some might even play the 'psychic' card.

I figured I would put my own theory in here, but when I tried I realised I don't have one. At least not one that is a fully formed idea.

So what do you think? Psychic? Shared consciousness? Or just plain coincidence..?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top o' da mornin' to ye..!

Ireland is a mass hangover today courtesy of that ancient serpent exterminator, Saint Patrick.
It's quite funny to look around the office; pretty much everyone has an ever-so-slightly gray pallor and the drone of voices is a little huskier than normal. It's a funny aul' place, this. Every year on March 17th traffic across the country grinds to a halt around midday as St Patrick's Day parades take to the streets not only in Dublin but in pretty much most towns. Even the little town I live in had a parade; apparently about 1000 people turned out to watch which is actually pretty good (you haven't seen the size of the village I live in!)

In my 8 1/2 years in Ireland I have only bothered watching the parade in Dublin twice. The first time it was bitterly cold and lashing rain outside, but being our first year in the country we kind of had to go, really. The second time we went because it wasn't lashing rain and we wanted to see if the parade was any better. It wasn't. This seems something of a tradition here: Mobs of people watching a mediocre parade that has been advertised as the best thing since they discovered the Bog Man.
Only, you don't get to see anything except the back of the head in front of you and to do this you have to be trained in the Art of Fighting for your Space in a Crowd, else you get elbowed and pushed and shoved until you pop out of the back of the crowd like a champagne cork. So most people forego going into Dublin for the parade - the onlookers on the streets are mostly tourists. The locals are all in the pub, eating and drinking waaaay too much and perhaps watching the Parade as it is broadcast on the small out-of-focus TV mounted in a dark corner above the bar.

This was the tradition we followed yesterday, Hubby and I (after going for a breakfast run on our bikes in the morning because it was one of those rare St Patrick's Days when the sun was shining on the Emerald Isle). For the rest of the afternoon pub grub and too much beer was the order of the day, in an old country pub filled with locals from the area thirsty for a pint after the parade.

'Twas a grand day indeed :-)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The cavemanperson in me is alive and well

A good friend of mine is due to give birth within the next few weeks and I have become aware of a very strong need to be with her around about the time the baby comes. It's not the first time I have felt this way since moving away - it happened when my niece was born, in Cape Town, as well as when two of my other friends had their babies, also in South Africa, while I was over here in Ireland.
And this one is even further away, in New Zealand.

Don't get me wrong, I pretty much always miss my friends. I think we make the strongest friendships in our younger years and these are the people I'm talking about; the ones with whom we have grown from girls into women. We have seen each other through falling in love and heartbreak, through marriages, births, divorces and the deaths of loved ones.

It is in these milestone times that women draw strength and support from each other as much as sharing happiness. The term "I'm happy for you" isn't just a pleasantry, we feel genuine joy when a friend finds true happiness.

Childbirth, however, is a time when I feel a much stronger pull than simply missing my friend. It is an instinct, almost primal, to gather around her, make tea, boil water (for the tea, perhaps?)... whatever, just make sure mum and baby are nurtured.
(And husbands, too, I suppose, although they should be well able to feed themselves if they have reached a point where they feel they are able to become fathers!)
But, no offense, this is about a woman and her new offspring.

Perhaps it stems from centuries ago, when communities lived in closer quarters, when men went out hunting for ages at a time and women were left to take care of... pretty much everything else, really. In fact I have a very clear picture in my mind of me, with my closest friends, my mother and my sisters, all hovering around a woman with her newborn child, in our cave wearing clothes made from animal skins, cooking meals over an open fire. It seems to fit in with how I am feeling now.

Unfortunately, I will have to make do with emails and phone calls and digital photographs and SMS messages again. It's a poor substitute, but then again, it's better than nothing, and I know that my friend knows I am with her in spirit.

Say, I am kind of liking that picture of being a cave-dweller; civilization is sooo overrated sometimes!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When is it time to shoot the horse?

I am not really asking advice on horse murder here, it was a metaphor. What I really want to know is how does one know when the time has come to delete one's blog.
Is it when one only gets round to posting something new once a month... at the most?
Is it when the comments on one's infrequent posts become even less frequent than the posts themselves?
Or is it when one no longer has the thought, "I'm gonna blog about this!" half a dozen times a day; in fact one battles to find anything at all that seems blog-worthy in one's life.
Ponderous questions, indeed.

But then what if one doesn't want to delete one's blog and lose all the hours of work that have gone into it in the sum of all those posts. One can't help but think of the time spent writing, rewriting and agonising over the wording, not to mention finding and editing pictures and photographs. A blog is a creative thing, something born of one's own inventiveness. Hitting the "Delete Blog" button is quite a big deal, when the blog in question has been a work-in-progress for around 5 years.

Perhaps I'll ponder the question a bit more. After all, no-one ever accused me of making decisions quickly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The funny side of politics

Our intranet page scrolls the latest news headlines in the sidebar.
Two of today's headlines (in this order) were...



Am I the only one who finds this incredibly funny?

On the same topic, actually, though on a slightly less humorous note, I overheard a conversation between two colleagues this morning that sum it all up perfectly:

Pleb 1 (voice dripping with sarcasm): "So did anyone watch the 'coronation' on TV yesterday?"
Pleb 2: "Ah c'mon, dude, give Obama a bit of a break, willya? Even I, the hardened cynic, want to believe in this guy. The world needs a bit of hope, man."

'Nuff said, I reckon.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Randomness: the good, the bad and the odd

Is the Universe smiling on me?
Everyone told me, when I got to my home town in December, that I must've brought good weather with me. It was gorgeous the whole week, and only on the day I left did the wind pick up and was blowing at around 110 km/h when we took off. When I got back to Dublin I was told how shockingly cold it had been while I was away, but the day I arrived the sun was shining and we had a really mild Christmas. I think the Weather Gods are finally on my side...
Even today when I really needed the roads to be dry, I couldn't have asked for better (not at this time of year, anyway). My prayers were answered and I now have my full bike driving license.
(Hooray for me!!!)
I'll try keep the blizzards at bay a bit longer, 'kay?

Oops, I did it again...
Speaking of driving tests; I booked last May to take the test, thinking it would be a clever idea to do the thing sometime over the Summer months. Who knew there would be a 6-month waiting list?! (The website said 10 weeks; I think I can be forgiven for my naivety)
The day before I went to SA, I had a lesson with a driving instructor - not to learn how to ride the bike, but to learn about the things the testers would want to see on the day. Like spending more time looking in mirrors and over my shoulders than in front of me, and keeping my right foot up off the ground, on the rear brake pedal, when at a stop (and praying at the same time there aren't any strong crosswinds about, no doubt). And that they would ask me to do a U-turn. What I learnt that day was that although I have no problem turning sharply to the left, the U-turn in question would be to the right, and that I wasn't so very strong at...
So after Christmas I took the cover off the bike to go practise my U-turns, only to find I'd ridden over a nail and the tyre was flat. Ever tried getting a new bike tyre over the Christmas season? It's somewhat like trying to find snowballs on the beach in South Africa at that time of year.
Nonetheless, we finally got a new tyre fitted on Saturday morning, leaving me the weekend to practise my U-turns. I did so in the parking lot at the local train station. That was when I dropped the bike for the first time since I started riding about 2 years ago. I almost dislocated my body from itself trying to lift the poor machine off its side, before finally admitting my limitations and calling Hubby to help.
The bike was OK (it had been going really slowly when it fell) and I continued my practising until my Prince Charming told me I was doing fine and would have no problem in the test.
That was Today's test, on the way to which I thought I would quickly practise just one more U-turn. And I promptly overbalanced again, this time with the bike ending up in the middle of a busy road with no Hubby around for miles.
But within seconds a kind young man stopped and helped me pick it up, and then I had to go directly to the Testing Centre. Um, no nerves at all, really.
The good news is that the U-turn went fine in the actual test; the Universe must've been smiling on me again :-)
And the bike is still fine.
And don't panic; it's my 'old' bike I was on, not the new one. Perhaps it was acting up because it knows it's been replaced by the Baby Bird. I haven't shown you a side view of it yet, have I? It was hard to get a good angle while it was still in my kitchen!

Best of the Worst
The worst part about flying home to SA is, well, flying home to SA. There were no direct flights this time, so I went via Paris on the way there, and via Amsterdam on the way back. On the long leg going there I managed to get an aisle seat, which was OK because at least I didn't have to clamber over people to get to the bog.
Coming back there were no aisle seats available, and no window seats. I feared the worst but was pleasantly surprised to see a young, slim woman on either side of me. It could've been worse... and it very nearly was when the young lady on the aisle seat, to my right, was switched with a woman so large she couldn't fit in her own seat in the front row because the armrest was fixed. As she spilled over onto my seat I decided that this was one occasion I was prepared to be That Passenger; you know, the one who bitches & moans until she gets moved. As it turned out, all that was required was a mild - and not even remotely rude - objection. Next thing I knew I was across the aisle, not only in an aisle seat but in the front row, with all the leg room I could have wanted, and more! My companion was a young Ukranian girl, a delightful slip of a thing with whom I became friends for a few hours as we flew 10,000km around the globe and then wandered the maze of Schipol airport looking for the smoking area.
(There is one, by the way, but it's so small and horrible I wouldn't recommend it. Just so you know.)
I even managed to get some sleep on the 'plane and had enough energy and wakefulness in my body to squeeze in a spot of airport shopping before boarding the flight back to Dublin.
(I think the Marijuana-patterned boxer shorts I bought for Hubby may have seemed a tad less generous than the motorcycle parked in the kitchen, for me, from him, but how was I to know?!!)

And on a final, totally unconnected note...
There's a book called "PS I Love You", written by Cecelia Ahern. When it was released it went straight onto the Bestsellers list. I specifically didn't buy it because the author is the daughter of the former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). I like books to earn their spot on their own worth, not because the author's daddy is Top Dog in the country. I figured I'd wait until I found someone else who had a copy, and borrow it, instead, to see if it was worth all the hype.
Well I have yet to read the book but on Sunday night I watched the movie on TV.
Yes, this is a movie review of sorts.
And what I have to say is that it was a really, really good movie. The story was heart-rending, the performances real (although one of the Irish accents sounded a bit iffy to me). But most of all, do NOT attempt to watch this movie without a box of Kleenex handy. I bawled my eyes out on a number of occasions (and it was quite tricky putting them back in, I'll tellya!)(mwahahahaha!).
Anyway, as far as I'm concerned any movie that moves me from tears to laughter and back again a few times in the space of 90 minutes (I'm guessing) is a good movie, because isn't that what it's all about? Hooking in the audience and having them feel what the characters feel?
But I did have a very strong urge to watch some sitcoms afterwards.

OK that wasn't the final note, this is:
Because that last bit just didn't feel like an ending, y'know?
So here's a better one for you:

May you all have enough random goodness and oddness in your lives to keep you happy and interested in 2009.