Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

beef stew


No, I am still alive.

I keep telling myself that I am too busy to write. There is such a lot of TV to follow: Transparent, The Handmaid's Tale, The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, Westworld... On top of that there are Pinterest and Minecraft. At other times I simply tell myself that I am too tired, too stressed, too lazy...

Frankly, all of these are just excuses. The truth is that it has become as difficult for me to write as it used to be easy. Where my words used to flow, sometimes even erupt, I sometimes find it hard now to string together a simple sentence.

Anyway, I'm making a concerted effort to write a decent post tonight. Perhaps the (mostly) restful long weekend has had an effect on me, after all. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

*

On Saturday The One left home just after 7:00am for a band performance that would keep him busy all day. With winter's first chill in the air, I wanted to prepare something hearty for him to come home to and I decided on a nice, rustic pork stew using meat I know we had in the freezer.

Before I could begin, I had to drop off Geoffrey at the doggy salon for his bi-monthly trim, about two months overdue (spot the difference between his before and after pics).



I raced home, quickly mowed the lawn and then set down to putting together what I needed for said stew. I failed to locate the pork in the depths of the freezer (I discovered, however, that it could do with a good defrost and scrubbing). Taking this minor setback in my stride, I decided that it would be beef stew instead. I found this easy to follow recipe online.

Traffic was a joke but I hit the shop and managed to collect Geoffrey on time.

I had to improvise a bit with the recipe. While it calls for 2 pounds (4.5kg by my reckoning) of beef chuck, Queenswood Spar only had a single pack of chuck of 800g. I added a 1.6kg pack of stewing beef and hoped it would be all right. Also, The One cannot tolerate onions so I replaced those with some sad, limp spring onions (it is almost winter). I left out the sweet potato because they only sold it in bulk and added mushrooms instead.

Back home, it took me all of 20 minutes to compose this photo of the ingredients.


I had to prise apart two carrots that had been growing together all their lives. It was very sad but I couldn't manage tears because there were no onions so I carried on peeling, chopping and dicing the veg as needed.


Covering the meat in seasoned flour and searing it took a great deal longer than I had anticipated. I checked my calculations and discovered that I'd bought a lot more meat than was needed.... the recipe only calls for 1kg of beef (when you convert pounds to kilos correctly). Nevertheless, I mixed together another batch of flour and pressed on.

Finally I could add the rest of the ingredients; then I spent another ridiculous amount of time to compose this photo.


By this time it was 16:00 and The One would start making his way home soon. Luckily the pot I had chosen to use was no ordinary one; it was an ancient Tedelex pressure cooker we'd inherited and I knew it would make up for all the time that I'd lost. Fine-tuning the stove to keep the pressure optimal was fiddly but I managed and soon a mouth-watering aroma permeated the house.

The finishing touch to the rustic feel I was aiming at called for the stew to be served on a bed of barley cooked with brown lentils. The microwave gave its final ping as The One drove up the driveway.

*

There was an obscene amount of stew; much more than we could eat in one go. The One enjoyed it immensely; he finished off the last bit of leftover stew for breakfast this morning.

*

Pretty successful story, no?

Written by I

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Margaret


Well, she seemed to be a Margaret.

Short and stodgy with more than a bit of Corgi, she ran right under the car in front of me and its back tire drove over her hindquarters with a sickening crack. The car sped off without a pause and Margaret tried to get up, loudly shouting in pain as her broken backside collapsed every time she was on all fours. 

Over and over again.

Babies must have been waiting for her to come feed them somewhere because her pitiful, lactating teats were very pronounced; I noticed them even in the pouring rain.

I pressed a shaking hand to my mouth to stop my wail from joining hers. I grabbed my car's steering wheel tightly with my remaining fist, clenched my jaws as hard as I could, put the car into first and sped off too.

Surely someone else would stop, or dodge traffic and save her like this awesome kid had done.

*

Having had time to reflect, I am absolutely clear now what my response should have been... I could easily have stopped in the middle of the road (hazards ablaze) and I could have gently lifted poor, injured Margaret onto the vacant back seat of my car. Following that preliminary rescue, I could have taken her to our sympathetic vet where I'd just had an obscene salon wound of Jeffrey's doctored, and instructed him to do everything to:

  • Save Margaret's life
  • Ease Margaret's suffering
  • Assist Margaret's expeditious healing
..so Margaret could come home to live with the eight of us.

In addition, I could have made every effort to locate Margaret's starving babies and I could have fed them from an artificial teat attached to a bottle filled with the concoction that humans feed baby dogs so that they can grow and thrive.

*

Instead, I drove off.

*

Had my beautiful sister or The One been in the car with me and Jeffrey, I'm sure that Margaret's fate would have turned out awesomely different.

*

Every time I close my eyes, Margaret is there, begging for help.

What would you have done?

Written by I

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

sky boobs



These dramatic clouds presented themselves after a smallish hailstorm let loose above our house late afternoon on 30 December 2017. Going outside for a fag, I noticed the eery yellow luminescence and looked to where the sun had begun descending in the west. In ecstasy, I grabbed The One's behind to draw his attention to the source of the unusual light. He exclaimed, "Take a photo!"

True to the stars, I raced inside to grab my trusty Canon, running back outside to shoot them clouds from all angles, all the while shielding the sensitive lens from rogue drops of rain.

I'd only ever seen such beautiful cloud formations in National Geographic magazines and I was extremely proud when my random shots turned out so well. Having paged through many professional sky shots, I knew that these here clouds had been dubbed mammatus ones.

My Matric Latin was finally of some use when my brain made the connection - that cloud tag meant breast, udder, teat. Boob. Mother.

*

Sunlight slowly dissipating, we remained transfixed, witnessing the most unbelievable light show... mother clouds presented to us in every imaginable shade of exquisite until the light finally ran out.


Written by I

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

f-d up


There's a saying in South Africa, among the lower classes. Something (or someone) is f-d up when they are or it is idiotic or stupid or inconceivable.

Only we say the entire word, not blanked out like that.

*

Firecrackers

Although our resident gangsters gave their children less of these things to play with this year, it's still pretty f-d up that the little tsotsis choose to pop them haphazardly starting at the beginning of the festive season, peaking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I have sympathy for the fact that morons adore shiny, noisy things... however, those two are not days on which to terrorise the neighbourhood with random volleys of your stupidity. Peace on earth? Sure.

Come to think of it, the same goes for New Year's Day. Honestly, firing crackers more than 12 hours into the new year is seriously f-d up.

*

Windows 10 Creator's Update

I diligently waited for 12:00am on the 22nd December to download the forced update so that I could finally use our MTN Night Owl data (12:00am - 6:00am) which goes unused every month.

When everything was set up I went to bed and left the update to download and install on its own. After some sleep I checked that the computer had switched itself off after updating and happily went off to visit mom.

It was after 16:00 when I got back and had a chance to fire the 'puter up so that I could check out the promised cool new features. Some of them were pretty nice but very soon, to my utter shock and horror, I discovered that the entire contents of "My Documents" had been overwritten with clinically empty new folders. Every photo, every video, every document I had ever digitally created or owned had been wiped.

Backups? Those are, like Karen Blixen says about insurance, for pessimists. And those who have enough space on their hard drives.

In a panic I found a recovery tool online to undelete my files. By 23:00 I was smiling because I had most of my stuff back! Only, upon closer examination, more than half of the recovered files were empty, garbage. However many more promising tools I downloaded, all the king's horses and all the king's men could not put them together again. 

Now that is f-d up.

*

Garbage

Our municipal garbage bin gets emptied on Mondays. So. I set my alarm for 7:00am on Monday 25 December. Not only to drag the bin outside, but also to go buy toilet paper which we had run out of, before the Christmas mobs hit the store.

I checked throughout the day but the bin always sat patiently in the sweltering sun on the edge of our driveway and by 19:00 The One dejectedly dragged it back in. The homeless had been at it and had emptied a third of it in plastic bottles and such. What was left was disgusting, decaying organic matter. Leftovers. Bones. Used cat litter and week-old dog poop.

Apparently the neighbours knew more than me because nobody else had put their bins out. Perhaps they were too busy drinking and shooting up the place?

On Tuesday 26 December my alarm woke me at 7:00am again and I stuffed the stinking bin full of brand new garbage before optimistically dragging it outside. This time it was joined by one or two others down the street, but sadly no garbage truck came and by the time The One dragged it in at 19:00 all the maggots inside the lid had been slowly steamed to death in the relentless sun, which added to the unbelievable stench.

On Wednesday 27 December I defiantly got up at 8:00am and dragged the stench to the curb. This time there were more bins outside... the owners of the other two bins from the day before had simply left them stinking outside all night.

Hope floats but still the f-d up truck didn't show and The One was a pale shade of green when he dragged The Thing back inside that evening. We left it as far away from the house as possible because it felt as though it would spring to life at any second.

On Thursday 28 December hope abandoned me and I slept late. I didn't even bother thinking about garbage, choosing to worry about the upcoming New Year's celebrations (firecrackers) instead.

In this spirit I watched every film I could lay my hands on and I was still at it on Friday evening, when at exactly 20:44, I heard the next door neighbours suddenly drag their bin out. Then I heard the garbage truck in the street.

I flagged down The One in my race to the kitchen door; he ran to open the gate, I grabbed the slimy handles of the bin and dragged it to the street. Every man, woman and child stood beaming outside; some were in pyjamas, some, like the two of us, in tattered housewear. Even so, there was a festive atmosphere as the husky garbage men grabbed our bins and emptied them into the grinding belly of the long awaited garbage truck.

Written by I

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I went to London this week


So, I went to London this week.

Yes, London, UK. Look, I even posed for a selfie while I floated in front of that building they call "The Shard".


Yeah. in my dreams.


I just made a really cool wall banner for the British High Commission.


*

No, instead I went for training on Thursday in Jo'burg this week. Incidentally the two guys from EFI that presented the course really were from London, UK.

Anyway, I'd been told I'd be going on this day-long seminar some time ago but still it only really dawned on me the night before... the way things do. Luckily I'd had a haircut last week so I wasn't too shabby but while showering I discovered an alarming budding pimple right on the left grief line on my face.

Happily I have some peroxide cream that always works and I lathered the bud with layers of that sweet H2O2 and went to bed a confident man.

Nobody else was interested in my course so I still had to open the shop at 5:30am and could only leave by 6:30am when the first worker strolled in. The 40km trip would have taken 50 minutes under normal circumstances but at that frenzied hour it took me more than 2 hours of bumper-to-bumper agony to get to the Xerox Head Offices close to OR Tambo International Airport.

The training proved to be very informative and I gained a lot of valuable knowledge.

I left at 15:30 and envisioned getting home early as the boss had kindly offered to lock the shop up so I could drive straight back to The One. Unfortunately, the rest of Gauteng had been given the afternoon off as well and it took me well over 90 minutes to get home. By that time my love had gone to teach his afternoon piano lesson and I was at home alone, all of 10 minutes earlier than usual.

*

I had an early shower. It was bliss after the long, stressful day I'd had.

As I wiped the condensation from the bathroom mirror to watch myself apply moisturiser to my battered face, a beacon suddenly shone its yellow beam upon me. Wiping the glass harder, I could see that the beacon was located somewhere on my face. When all the vapor was gone I realised, to my utter disdain, that my goddamned pimple had not shriveled and died... despite the peroxide, it had flourished and presented itself in all its shiny, buttery splendour.

I'm guessing that the cute guy I'd been batting my greying eyelashes at all day had not been staring at me because I'm hot, after all.

PS: If you zoom in on those selfies at the beginning of this post, you can see the remains of Richard, which is what I named le grand bouton.

Written by I 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

bad blue boy


Last week I discovered a delightful local radio station by chance in the work's delivery vehicle when a convoluted delivery was forced on me. The station is named "Bosveld Stereo" and the large Levina's radio was loudly tuned to it at 107.5 FM when I turned the key in the ignition.

Pleasantly surprised, I rediscovered long-forgotten songs from my early childhood and the trip was made that much more bearable. Who remembers "Sorry, I'm a Lady" from Baccara? How about "Endless Road" from the Time Bandits? And "Take Me Back" by Geraldine?

*

Over the weekend I tuned into the same station for some background music (on our much appreciated superb quality hand-me-down home stereo) and on Sunday night while slouching on the couch after a long, hot day in the garden, heard one of my high school favourites - "I Totally Miss You" by Bad Boys Blue.

I am still fascinated by the power music has to transport my mind to a specific time in my life.

Now I guess it's a sad thing that those bad boys were one of my favourites during high school but there is just something about their music that still controls an emotional flood switch in my mind. I was reminded of my matric year, 1992, and another one of their songs that is contained in the soundtrack of a very blue time in my life.

You see, there was this boy I knew in high school. His name was Paul Coetzee and from the very first time I laid eyes on him I was consumed by the most enormous crush. My school divided pupils into classes alphabetically according to the first letter of their surname. Since his surname started with the letter before mine, we always ended up in the same class. He was also in the school choir and his position was right behind me in the bass section. I remember always leaning back slightly so that I could feel him touch my back throughout the course of choir practices... and even performances.

We were never friends and during a casual group conversation once he made it pretty clear what the thought of "faggots" and the things he would do to one of those if they ever made a pass at him.

Still, the heart wants what it wants.

Close to the conclusion of my school career and throughout final exams, I sensed that the end was nigh and I started listening obsessively to a specific Bad Boys Blue song. Over and over I played it on my Walkman, rewinding the tape when the song was over for just one more listen.

Bad Boys Blue - Save Your Love

It started one night in Milano
A candle-light dinner, Italian style
We danced - she whispered "Ti amo" 
A morning came, and we had to say:
Good-bye - so hold me once more
Good bye - and kiss me one more time
Just one more time

Save your love
Until I will return
Let the flames of fire burn
In your heart forever
Save your love
Don´t give it someone new
Everything is up to you
Till I'm back forever

She gave me one night of devotion
A fire of love was burning inside
I couldn't escape my emotions
And I nearly died when we had to say:
Good-bye - I want you to stay
Good-bye - so please, come back one day
Come back some day

Save your love
Until I will return
Let the flames of fire burn
In your heart forever
Save your love
Don´t give it someone new
Everything is up to you
Till I'm back forever

I´m so in love with you
The first time I feel this way
I promise - I´ll wait for you

Such anguish! After five years of almost daily contact, the thought of never seeing Paul again crushed me into the ground and I am still not sure how I survived that blow. I guess reading this excellent book helped a lot.

*

Watching the rediscovered music video now, though extremely cheesy, still takes me right back to that teenage anguish.


Luckily The One will be home soon to nurture and calm me the way he does.

Written by I

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

perspective


Last night my phone's video player randomly selected one of my favourite ABBA songs and I was instantly transported back to 1981 when I was seven.

I gustily mouthed the lyrics which, like all of the band's songs, I know off by heart. My silly mind made some silly notes and I thought I might share them here... see turquoise annotations in italic below.

The Day Before You Came - ABBA

I must have left my house at eight, because I always do
5AM for me so I miss traffic
My train, I'm certain, left the station just when it was due
Swedes would die here waiting for public transport
I must have read the morning paper going into town
And having gotten through the editorial, no doubt I must have frowned
Reading about Zuma's latest antics on Google News does the same for me
I must have made my desk around a quarter after nine
Wow. I make mine at 5:30AM.
With letters to be read, and heaps of papers waiting to be signed
Sounds about right if you add responding to sottish and demanding emails
I must have gone to lunch at half past twelve or so
The usual place, the usual bunch
Lunch? What's that? Sounds like fun.
And still on top of this I'm pretty sure it must have rained
The day before you came
I can't remember anymore how my days were before The One came

I must have lit my seventh cigarette at half past two
Rarely smoke at work. No time.
And at the time I never even noticed I was blue
I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day
Without really knowing anything, I hid a part of me away
Sing it, sister.
At five I must have left, there's no exception to the rule
A matter of routine, I've done it ever since I finished school
I made it my rule recently... to beat traffic
The train back home again
Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then
Oh yes, I'm sure my life was well within its usual frame
The day before you came

I must have opened my front door at eight o'clock or so
How far away does she work?? Takes me 40 minutes to get home by car.
And stopped along the way to buy some Chinese food to go
Ohk. Chinese place must have been busy.
I'm sure I had my dinner watching something on TV
There's not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see
I always thought she said "Yes, now that I think a single episode..." See mondegreen.
Also, I used to crawl under my parents' bed and illegally peep-watch Dallas from there.
I must have gone to bed around a quarter after ten
I need a lot of sleep, and so I like to be in bed by then
11PM for me
I must have read a while
The latest one by Marilyn French or something in that style
I'm still trudging through Dostoevsky, page by dreary page. Beats sleeping pills every time.
It's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim
What.
Oh. Yeah . Yes. That'ts me before The One.
The day before you came

And turning out the light
I must have yawned and cuddled up for yet another night
Every night I cuddle up to a purry cat, a nervous Maltese, a farty Pug, a pushy and licky Rottweiler.
And my beautiful husband.
And rattling on the roof I must have heard the sound of rain
Really nice music
The day before you came

*

As a bonus, here's the video so you can watch and feel nostalgic with me:


Written by I