Sunday, January 30, 2011

month-end post

I write this while half-watching Star Wars over Steve's shoulder, so excuse any lapses in continuity! - blame the Dark Side... The boys have been watching some of the movie with Steve, over several days, but it just gets too dark and too violent for either of them, so Steve is finishing on his own.
I've been busy planning the lessons and rosters for the Rockets Sunday School team (ages 4-7/Grade 1) - it's very rewarding being welcomed by a young child's hug and smile, and I realize they've all crept into our hearts, even though we only see some children once every 6 weeks or so... We have a very solid foundation to work from, in terms of set-up and systems; but also some new input from Sarah, who is my co-leader and ideas-person, and from a whole group of enthusiastic teens who seem to have sprung from nowhere! Of course, God knows about them and has been working on His plans - and I'm sure we have some prayer warriors to thank for their appearing...
My dear Steve's health remains up-and-down, but it does teach us to really appreciate the "up" days, like yesterday and today. And he braaied today, only about the second time ever in our 7 years in this house with its TWO fireplaces (outdoor, plus indoor built-in braai, in the lounge - the previous ownere was obviously a regte Suid Afrikaner!). The boys LOVED the whole experience of watching Dad chop wood, lay and light the fire, and braai the meat and sarmies.
Here's to a few braais with friends in the near future...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bothered and bewildered...

...but not by love or you, as Sinatra sang! I find myself with a distinct lack of concentration and follow-through at present, forgetting what I've come into a room to do, or forgetting to complete a mundane task. However, everyone has been fed and has clean clothes, no pots have been burnt, and no animals have been harmed in the writing of this blog, so I guess it's not as bad as it feels! Ever burnt a pot?--simply forgotten you had something cooking? I once managed to burn a pot so badly it was warped--it ran out of water and just kept cooking... Ho hum. There's probably a book or at very least a magazine article in there somewhere...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back to school

This week has been quite hectic, with William and Alexander back at school, me back at my usual occupations, and a new dog too! The dog first: she is called Candy (we changed from the "Angie" given by her original owners.) She is a Welfare special, with bulging eyes and forehead, a long body, and huge ears. Her pretty blonde colour somewhat makes up for this strange combination of body parts! When we walk her she bounces along and doesn't pull at all, a nice change from Penny.
William is now in Grade 2 and has a teacher whom everyone describes as kind. She is also head of the Foundation Phase (G1-3) and obviously knows her stuff. We had a parent evening tonight, which yours truly attended while Dad babysat. Interesting talk from child psychologist about discipline, boundaries, choices, etc. Don't make threats ("I'll leave you behind!") but always follow through with promised consequences... Everyone laughed and winced - all guilty of doing the former and neglecting the latter! Need to re-establish weekday routine after the holidays - William cried buckets because I said no TV when he arrived home. I then later allowed them to watch a movie (Asterix) on the computer while I worked...Hmmm...not sure of my consistency there. I don't think the psychologist would approve.
the online marking has begun with many timed essays, which means there are no essays to do, so we log in and click every 5 minutes to show we are there ready to work. A pleasant way to ease into the year; got lots of filing done in between clicks! We also have a somewhat revised review-process, which I put into practise today with a few essays. Seems easier and QUICKER!!! That also seems like a good note on which to end for today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Holiday update

This blog began in part as a journal of planning a trip to Natal...That idea fell by the wayside almost immediately, but I persisted with the plan for a family holiday. We considered the game parks, but many are quite a distance away ("Are we there yet?" starts after about half an hour with our two...); and expensive. I then set my sights on "close by" and "affordable" - and we are going to Mossel Bay for 8 days over Easter, with Steve only needing to take 3 days' leave, due to all the public and school holidays! So hurray for dreams and ideas, and hurray for practicality and persistence; and blessings on the lady who is giving us such a good rate that we can have a long family holiday...We are all buoyed by the thought of it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lazy days...

 A gap of a few days in this blog...Steve still on holiday on Monday, so we went up to the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Last year Mom and Steve and his sisters scattered Donovan's ashes there, so we went to find the spot. The boys came too, and I explained to William what we were doing. He and I had to race off to the loo (the kind of things they never do in movies!) and by the time we returned up the path, the others had found the bench and come back down to the dam to feed the geese! We dodged lots of scurrying black ants on the hot, hard-baked path while returning down to the others. The dam was calm, half-covered in great green lily leaves; we even saw two terrapins in the muddy water between the geese's feet.
Yesterday and today were spent getting things done (leash for Penny, TV licence, etc), playing with the boys, crocheting, and swimming...I have a shawl I've been putting together out of crocheted squares, all autumn colours, and I'm now finally sewing it all together! Very satisfying and pleasing.
I'm busy cutting down on the anti-depressant I've been on, so feel a bit switched off - I can feel the old brain is not very fast at times! But it's going very well on the whole, much easier than I expected.
I am expecting a very positive and fulfilling year!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Putting off the good to achieve the great

Actually, I'm not sure that quote is the right way about: is it "putting off the great to achieve the good"? I think it's from Mary Pytches, who is a counsellor and whom I heard speak about 20 years ago in the Presby church in Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg. I probably still have the notes somwhere! I know Gwen and her mum gave me one of Mary Pytches' books, but a quick scan of my shelves reveals it has been lent out and never returned...Now there is a chapter for another day! - books that have never found their way home, for various reasons. My mum is good at buying books for others; so is Stephan; and Gavin and Susan lend books they've enjoyed or found helpful...Years ago I used to keep a book-lending book, a record of where books went off to.
Back to what I really wanted to write about: I so enjoyed singing in the band/ worship group this morning. Quite a few people said it was good to see me back; and Erica gave encouraging feedback. The problem I now face is choosing between leading Rockets, the childrens' work, and rejoining the worship group, as it doesn't seem practically possible to do both. How do you choose between two things you enjoy and are good at and effective in? My usual solution is to write a pro's and con's list, so I guess that will be my next step!
Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Steve's brother Donovan, from whom Alexander gets his second name. Tomorrow we hope to go up to the Nature Reserve and find the place where Mom and the children scattered his ashes this time last year; Mom has been unable to find the exact spot. It ought to be lovely weather, cool like the last few mornings. We have been blessed with some lower temperatures and cool evenings, after the heat of early last week! (Is there a synonym for "cool"?)
Lastly, I went and bought a baobab tree today...Well, just a wire one, but truly a work of art. I saw it on Friday and went back to the roadside artists today to get it. I fell in love with them on our trip up to Messina in 2001 to watch the solar eclipse; now I have one of my own, about 50cm tall!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Foggy beach morning

With a cool fog rolling in, we decided to visit Strand beach at a spot suggested by a friend. It was the ideal weather: warm enough for costumes, but without the sun baking down on us. We spent a pleasant hour searching the rock-pools, seeing many hermit crabs scuttling along and even a few small, freckled fish. The crabs close their front door with their large claw, while the fish quickly spotted us and darted under overhanging rocks. The boys didn't really swim, but waded in the warmish, shallow water. They also clambered on the huge, ochre rocks that have been placed as a breakwater. We watched dogs splash after balls, brisk walkers and chatty ones, and fishermen perched out on the rocks, now exposed by low tide. Alexander in particular was intrigued at how the water went further and further out.
From the beach we went to visit Granny and Oupa, and found Florence and Derek there too. An hour went by swapping stories about kids, Mom and Derek's childhood, and Derek and Flo's new home.
Late in the afternoon Granny June joined us in her pool - a warm family time. Today (Saturday) was also a family day, as we spent the morning with Mum and Dad - Steve doing some fixing, the boys swimming, Mum and I talking about the possibility of their moving to a smaller home... We are about to go back there for supper together, and maybe some stargazing. More about that tomorrow!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sing to the King

Finally made it to band practice tonight! It had to be the hottest night of the season so far, literally, and the church building very stuffy; but it felt solid and "right" to be back behind the microphone. I found Elmarie's leading very relaxed yet direct. I can't quite place her husband Alfred yet - left him to do the harmonizing. Not much communication from him, so I watched Elmarie for cues. I won't be able to watch her on Sunday morning though, so much...

Poor Steve has spent the day at a very boring test match, and developed a nasty cold. His new small RC plane has arrived though, and tonight he was able to try it out as there was no wind. It's called The Beast and is bright red and looks fantastic as he does loops and rolls and other manouvres. The boys and I managed to watch for a few minutes as we went off to band practice.

The boys were very good at practice, playing with Dawid's two girls and generally entertaining themselves without disturbing us! The three of us had a quick swim at about 8.45, when we got home. Alexander especially was thrilled by the novelty of swimming at night! We have so many blessings to count...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


At dinner last night the idea of visiting Natal in December was pretty much squelched. Steve had spoken to a colleague who lives there and reckons December is no time to visit, what with humid weather and crowds of holiday-makers (do people still use that word? - it probably dates me terrribly!). Kevin, here for dinner, agreed. He has also heard that parts of 'Maritzburg are not what they used to be - Church Street is now "down-town" due to a new mall on the outskirts that has attracted all the big stores and shoppers with plenty of money (read "white" in our socio-economic terms). I felt quite lonely and misunderstood as to my desire to visit agian the places of childhood and coming-of-age - it's not about "doing", I guess, but "remembering"; and this is not really the stuff of family holidays...
I still have a notion just to do the trip on my own - what do you think?

We are now setting our sights closer to home, and earlier in the year: the long Easter weekend, followed by May Day, when the schools are also having a few days off. Even the National Parks seem out of reach of our budget, though, with costs of at least R800 upwards per night for our family. So it's back to the drawing board, or map book... We have agreed to spend time tomorrow night trying to agree on where to go, what to spend, and what to do!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Birthday inspiration

Friends remind you of your dreams, and then nudge you on as you take steps towards those goals... What better way to celebrate a birthday than with two close friends, as we caught up on husbands, children, friends, important debates, and dreams. Jackie hadn't forgotten a remark I once made about beginning a blog, and together over tea she and Rachael and I plotted how to make this a reality - with plenty of digressions along the way! Last night I set up this page, and now here it is: my first post!
One goal for the year ahead is to visit Natal, where I grew up and went to both school and varsity. The goal date is December, so part of this blog will be an account of how that trip takes shape. Blog and trip will complement each other, as each grows and fulfills its own purpose. I feel the energy and excitement of this new venture already...and I look forward to sharing it with you, as you comment and give input and encouragement.