Monthly Archives: August 2013

Wear flowers in your hair

MeadowI can’t believe that in four days it’ll be spring. We haven’t had much of a winter here in Johannesburg but the weather’s supposed to make up for that by being freezing this weekend – just in time for spring day. Oh, Weather, the irony is not lost on us. Despite this imminent freeze caused by hell hath no fury like a winter ignored, spring day is almost here and, regardless of how much it snows, I will celebrate my favourite spring things. And these are:

1. Jasmine blooms7 Overgaauw Chardonnay 2012

2. Lighter mornings and lighter evenings

3. Weekend braais

4. Chilled white wine

5. Chilled sparkling wine

6. Very big Magnum ice creams

7. Voile curtains billowing in the the afternoon breeze

8. Dogs splashing in rivers

9. Salads with dinner

10. Fewer clothing layers

11. Pretty painted toes

12. New sandals

13. Lying on the hammock reading a book

14. Frogs singing

15. Spring rains and the new life they bring

If you’re planning on spring day festivities, grab a copy of the September issue of Essentials (or go to the website www.essentials.co.za) and have a look at the fabulous recipes and delicious wines we have for you. And if spring day turns out to be the coldest day of the year, and you have to postpone your celebrations due to the snow, you’ll have a fab mag to keep you company as you bundle yourself up in bed with a hot chocolate.

Hot choc 1

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog

This was the closest I could get to a pic of Fernando

This was the closest I could get to a pic of Fernando

Our one dog, Jimmy used to have a bed called Fernando. I’m not entirely sure where the name originated or even why we decided to name his bed in the first place. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that we moved it around the house, upstairs, downstairs and outside for Jimmy to lie on. So, instead of longwindedly asking each other, ‘Where’s Jimmy’s bed?’ We’d just say, ‘Where’s Fernando?’ It was a time saving strategy, see? Yes… our dogs are very spoilt. We have two spoilt mongrels (they really are mongrels from the Animal Anti Cruelty League): Jimmy and Idumbe.

Jimmy2

Jimmy is part bearded collie and part pavement special. He was our first dog and was also an only dog for a good couple of years before Idumbe came along. Jimmy is a dog with… quirks. For instance he likes to sleep in the shower.

So, very often when friends come around, they’ll get the fright of their lives in the guest bathroom when they look up and see Jimmy snoring away in the shower. It also gets us some strange looks when one of us asks: ‘Where’s Jimmy?’ And the other replies, ‘In the shower’. He also gets upset with you if you cough. He’ll physicslly remove himself from a room – glaring at you over his shoulder as he storms out – if he’s in there and you dare to have a bronchial spasm.

Idumbe1

Idumbe gets her name from the African potato, the amadumbe. When we adopted her she was skinny with a big round belly and scraggly hair. Her name couldn’t have been anything but little brown African potato. Idumbe is part German Shepherd and part Brown Dog. A very small part, like maybe her back paws and her left ear are Shepherd. And a large portion is everything else. She’s the canine equivalent of mixing all the crayons in your pencil case together.

Having said that, she’s also one of the smartest dogs I’ve evet met. And I’ve met a few! It’s actually reached the point where my Mister and I have to spell certain words out so Idumbe won’t know what we’re saying. We taught her what ‘downstairs’ means to send her outside if we were upstairs. Now, whenever we’re upstairs and someone accidentally says the word ‘down’, she’ll get super excited and charge downstairs as fast as her potato chip legs will carry her.

Jimmy and Idumbe are a part of our family. And now we have Holly too. And I’m so excited for her to get to know her dog friends better. I see them playing together in the garden when she’s a little bit older. I see her sharing her marmite sarmies with Idumbe and combing Jimmy’s hair with her little pink doll’s brush.

I’m leaving on a jet plane

So tomorrow I’m flying to Cape Town for a lunchtime launch for a well known store’s Christmas food products. I’m excited but, I have to admit, a little nervous too. And there are a couple of reasons for this…

1. I’ve never flown anywhere alone before. I know… I’m 33 and I’ve always flown with someone – my Mister or, when I was younger, my parents. So this first trip alone is a little scary. And very grown up. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I still think of myself as being 17, so doing grown-up things is daunting.

Train

2. I’ve never been more than a few kilometres away from my baby, Holly. And now I’m going to be on the other side of the country. With no car! Not that having a car would help me but still, I’d feel somehow more in control if I had transport I was maneuvering by myself. But I’m being dropped at the Gautrain station by Mister, zoomed to the airport by the train driver, flown to Cape Town by a pilot and driven by a driver to the launch. I’m going to be completely out of control. The. Whole. Day. (You’ve probably gathered that I’m the type of person who feels more comfortable when she’s in control of her environment and situation. If not – I am.)

Sarmie

3. I’m going on a plane without luggage. And, for some reason, that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Like I won’t have what I need when I need it. But that’s ridiculous. I’ll have my giant mommy bag with everything I usually carry around and never use. For some people it may be freeing travelling unencumbered, with just the wind in their hair and their boarding pass in their hand – but not me! I need to be weighted down by bags and jackets and books and scalding coffee and a sarmie.

4. I may sit next to a strange person on the plane. One who wants to chat or who has broccoli in his teeth and who’s wearing an anorak. Whenever I’ve flown with my Mister I’ve always used him as the security buffer between me and weirdly-dressed (an smelling) strangers. I have a thing about my personal space and aeroplanes definitely test me by insisting I invite other people to sit virtually on my lap or grunt in my ear.

Big girl panties

So tomorrow I’ll take my well-packed mommy bag, stocked with everything I may need in the far reaches of the country. I’ll pull on my big girl panties and navigate South Africa’s first high-speed underground rail system alone. I’ll sit next to the perfect stranger, whom the airline teams me up with. And I’ll listen silently as they cough, sneeze and grunt right next to me.

And, finally I’ll relinquish transportational control to the professionals. I’ll look at it as a type of ‘flooding’ therapy session or Fear Factor where I’m forced to confront my deepest fears. Let’s just hope there aren’t millions of beetles going clickity clack that I have to cover myself in. That’s where I draw the line.

Workin 9 to 5 what a way to make a livin’

Last week I wrote about women in my life who I believe have incredible personal qualities and could teach our baby girl Holly important life lessons. Qualities that I believe will shape her into the most amazing woman who’s going to change the world. Thinking back on what I wrote, the qualities I discussed all seem to be personal traits like patience, tolerance and kindness. And it’s obvious that I admire these qualities and see them as virtuous otherwise I wouldn’t have devoted a blog post to them.

suits

But I’ve been thinking about another side of the women I know that I didn’t mention, a side that’s so often overlooked, undervalued or scorned. I have a group of mommy friends who I met at my previous job when I worked for a very corporate, very male-dominated, very cut-throat consulting firm. The kind of place that measured your worth solely by the number of hours you billed your paying clients.

wand

Emmi, the mother of a gorgeous two-and-a-bit-year old boy, is one of the funniest people I know. She is witty, intelligent and has an incredibly dry sense of humour. She is also the best project manager I’ve ever worked with. I do believe she could put Mr Trump to shame. She single-handedly rescued a number of multi-million rand projects from destruction simply by waving a very pink, very sparkly magic wand. Ok, obviously that last part is slightly embellished; the wand was only minimally sparkly. It emitted more of a soft glow than sparkles like a vampire. I don’t actually know how she did it, but she more than once prevented clients from pulling the plug on difficult projects.

toddelrs

Candice is a woman who has the most stamina out of anyone else I know. (She has two strong-willed and curious toddlers with only a year between them.) She’s also incredibly ethical and has the moral standards of a particularly pious monk. When I worked with Candice she led her teams to the successful completion of some ridiculously difficult projects for unbelievably demanding clients. Without once resorting to violence. She didn’t even swear at her clients (even when they clearly deserved it).

Lisa also has two children – a sweet little boy and a very busy little girl. And she manages to work full time as a training manager for a multinational corporation. And, while she effortlessly (or so it seems) transitions between the role of mommy, devoted wife to a husband who’s just completed his MBA, and corporate high flyer, Lisa is also a very talented media designer.

And the thing that these hard working, intelligent, ethical, strong and determined women have in common is that they’re all madly in love, obsessed even, with their little children. And, when they climb into their cars at the end of the day and slip off their Nine Wests, they seamlessly slip out of their roles of women to be reckoned with into the much more demanding role of Mommy.  And it is these women who, on the eve of Women’s Day, I want to salute for being the backbone of, not only society, but of our economy too. Their strength and hard work is laudable and the love they have for their babies, faultless.

 

Sisters are doing it for themselves

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.

Holly1With August being Women’s Month I’ve decided to dedicate this post to some of the amazing women I’m fortunate enough to know. All the women in my life have stories and qualities that make each of them worthy of their own full-length feature film (played by a movie star of their choice). So I’ve decided to focus on those who have the qualities I hope my baby will one day have herself.

I have to start with my mother because, well, she’s my mother. My mom is tolerant. She is one of the most placid and laid back people I’ve ever met. There is very little you can do to irritate her and it takes a lot for her to lose it. I can count on my one hand the number of times I have seen her throw her toys during my life and those times were when someone had really provoked her. Next is my mom-in-law. She’s patient. But like biblical-Job patient, not nursery school teacher patient. I’ve never seen her lose her temper and she has six granddaughters under the age of 13! She once went on holiday with five of these shouty, energetic (sometimes whiny, always demanding) little girls and they all came out alive on the other side.

My sister in law, Charmaine is kind. She is one of the nicest, most giving women I know. I once asked her to babysit Holly for a month when we were stuck without a nanny and, without thinking twice about it, she agreed. At short notice (like two-days-before short notice). My other sister in law, Bianca is nurturing and maternal; she’s a wonderful mom to her two beautiful, clever and funny little girls and somehow she always knows what the right thing is to do for them.

map

My Mister’s two sisters, have so much they could teach Holly. Vanessa is a published author, a mother of three stunning, smart little girls, and lives in America. Vanessa could teach her niece courage. It takes an astonishing amount of bravery to leave the country you know and love, and your family to pursue wonderful opportunities in another country. Lesley is my Mister’s other sister. She could teach Holly how to balance her home life and her work life. Lesley has a very highly respected position at a bank and does quite a bit of travelling for her work. And she has two tween daughters. Somehow, and seemingly without effort, Lesley manages to balance her work and home life like a particularly skilled tightrope walker in a Russian circus. And… and she still manages to bake the most delicious cakes and treats!

From these six amazing women, I want Holly to learn: tolerance, patience, kindness, how to be nurturing, courage and balance.

path

From the women I work with, who all have their own stories of strength and who’ve all travelled incredible journeys, I’d like Holly to learn the qualities that will make her the kind of woman people don’t easily forget. I want her to learn resourcefulness from Kirsty, who’s also one of the strongest women I know. Kirsty is so incredibly resourceful, not only can she make anything out of nothing, but she also always knows what to do and say in every situation.

Tahra can teach my daughter charity. She’s always looking for new ways to help people in need and will regularly take on fund-raising initiatives to help others without a thought about how it’ll affect her.

Working girl

I want Holly to learn independence from Grace who wouldn’t have been out of place in a movie like Working Girl and could easily have been a pin-up for the 80’s, power-suit wearing, ball-busting corporate high flyer.

From Taryn I’d like my baby girl to learn generosity. Whenever Taryn goes to a launch, or ‘town’, she comes back with a little something for us. Whether it’s a book she thinks we might enjoy or a coffee we desperately need, Taryn is always sharing.

Stephanie could teach Holly curiosity: she’s not scared to ask questions when she doesn’t know something, a quality that’s so admirable and so rare.

And from Caryn I’d like her to learn humility – a more humble, almost to a fault, person you’ll never find. Caryn is so good at what she does, but she’ll be the last person to blow her own horn (or wear her own designs?).

These incredible women I work with could teach Holly resourcefulness, charity, independence, generosity, curiosity and humility.

If my daughter grows up to have all of these qualities, she will certainly be a woman to be reckoned with; an empowered woman of strength, courage, patience and kindness – the kind of woman we all aspire to be. I am so lucky to have such amazing women in life and, this month, I will honour them in as many ways as I can, starting with this story about their strengths.

Walk

Grab a copy of the August issue of Essentials magazine to read about more inspiring, real women like you.