Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Where did the time go?

I promised to come online and post volumes describing our experience in Wales, but I've only had time online in 10 minute snatches. The computer is down in the main house. In a couple of hours, the family will be back and we'll be offline - at least, until we can get a laptop or something up in the cabin. I'll catch up properly then.

Thinking of you all and missing you. Thanks so much for all your support and encouragement through this rather dramatic change in our lives!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

We see stars!! Many stars!! Clear, dark skies!!

Coity Bach

Here I am in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. This is a really quick post with no photos. I have to figure out how to get my photos into my blogs without installing software on this pc.

We're on our own here now. The family have gone on their holidays. The sun is still shining... that cold front that was promised hasn't hit us yet, which is something of a relief. As I sit here, the birds are fluttering around the feeders outside my window. I've done the milking and taken the goats to the top field. There's SO much to do! But it's all good. Our cabin is just that... a cabin. It's tiny, but as it will be used, quite literally, just for flopping exhausted into bed at night, all's good.

Thank you Soooooooo much to Kippy for the awesome, amazing, splendiferous box!! It goes well in the cabin and the box has proven invaluable in there too. Oh... and Tat got her portion *laugh* Katey, thank you for the sugar overload. We needed it to stay awake and it helped. It was warming too for the cooler nights. Please thank your mom for me. I assume she did the knitting. Those gloves are going to be Well Used! They're perfect! The card was sweet too.

In all, the Welsh people are wonderful... so, so friendly. Everyone, wherever we go, is ready for a chat. They're open, helpful, friendly, smiley... what's not to like?

Coity Bach, the farm, has two holiday cottages. They're part of my duties here. We have people in both cottages. Oh they're lovely! If you ever come to Wales, you must stay in the cottages! The walks are delightful and the scenery spectacular. We have our own Black Mountain, Table Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain. I'm inundated with new names. The goats... charming creatures ('cept when Lilly kicked the bucket of milk over me), the pigs, the horses (Tat's in horse-heaven), the geese, chickens, peacocks - yes, even the peacocks are charming. I don't know why people complain about them.

Anyway... got to dash. I'll try and get back on here as soon as I can to catch up with everyone and post photos. Missing you all!

Sunday, 09 October 2011

Last post in Brazil

Oooh! That sounded good!

I get a daily post with new Portuguese vocabulary to learn. Yesterday's word was paciencia (patience). Very appropriate! I wondered if they're snooping *looks around for hidden cameras* Today's got even better!

Ah... that about says it, right? We leave home in about an hour. This is it!

Saturday, 08 October 2011

Pizza on paper plates

I forgot we had paper plates. How nice! Paper plates are super rare here. They usually use plastic plates. I found paper plates once and bought a huge quantity... just because. I hate eating off plastic plates. Paper plates take me back to braai's and picnics, an essential for any event, from school fétes to camps.

Tonight's grandiose supper is pizza... on paper plates... with cheap, fizzy wine, what they call a 'frizzante'. Food fit for a king *laugh* Just before we leave, we have finally found the perfect pizzaria. Thick, soft, light bases with a filled border and Loaded with topping... super fresh and a quick delivery. Typical.

We're all packed. At least... what we can take is packed. Funny thing about possessions. I keep hearing things like... you can't take it with you when you die anyway. Trouble is, many possessions are tied up with experiences and memories. Sure, you can take a photo or three and sure you can remember, but it's somehow not the same. I learned that once before, a truly tough lesson. I'm doing it again. This will be the last time I ever do something like that. Never again. Ever.

But... we're packed! What a relief! Now we can relax a bit, though at 8pm, I'm yawning my head off. Weather here right now is 29ºC (can't be bothered to convert - just believe me, it's hot!) and tomorrow's going to be hot too and raining. It was raining here this afternoon. Many parts of the city are flooded. Thank goodness we weren't flooded for a change. The pizza delivery boy managed to come! London will apparently be cool and... guess what.... wet! Brecon's the same. We'll be going to the airport laden with warm clothes. The trip should be fun.

This will be my last post on this end of the Atlantic. I'll see you all on the flip side. I don't know what our access to the internet will be like on the other side. I'll go online with my mobile, though, depending on connectivity. Thank you all so, so much for your support through all this!! You will never know how much it's meant to me!

Sunday, 02 October 2011

Sharing the mood

Yes, we can!


I changed my address details on ebay this morning, so that I could buy and ship a couple of adapter plugs (ah... small things) and got a message from ebay: "Congratulations on your move to the UK!" Got all jumpity, skippity excited *happy grins*

I shed a few tears when I said goodbye to the kidlets this week. Little Zara has started walking. Her mom was so excited to show me. When she has her walking harness on, she holds the 'leash' out in front of her (alone) and walks. She won't walk without it. She just needs the feeling of the harness around her chest to feel secure enough to take those steps. I think she's much like many of us... we need to *feel* as though we're being helped/supported to progress, even if the help or support is an illusion. I was so happy for them though. This child is special and any progress is a miracle. When I arrive, she demands her 'lesson'. Too cute.

Right now, I have two cases packed and sooo much more to organise. The weather has been agonisingly hot with temps sitting around 35ºC. Today, the sky pulled over. 3pm was dark outside with a deep purple sky. Apparently we're heading into a wet week. I'm so glad I'm not teaching!

*yawns* Think a cup of coffee and some biscuits are a good idea....

"A better world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing" Arundhati Roy

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


I write daily, sometimes a little... sometimes pages full. I carry a little notebook around with me for just that purpose. The trouble is that much of my writing lately has been about something I couldn't share... yet. Jurgis made me 'sign' a pact of silence until we had confirmation. We've had too many false alarms in the past.

We've, once again, been in a mess of paperwork. I applied for a visa and was rejected. I can't tell you what a blow that was. I went around for a day quite literally not able to breathe. It seemed as though I was doomed to spend my life dreading red tape of any sort.

Being stubborn and determined, I reapplied. Until the moment the passport and related visa was in our hands, I had no idea if I was approved or not and we were running out of time. It was monumental. I had to take the risk and buy our tickets in advance (what if I wasn't approved??). I had to prove conclusively that I had no intention of living illegally in England. That is not as easy as it sounds when you have no 'real' job and no real family ties to keep you in a country. Luckily, my wonderful students came through for me with letters of reference and confirmation of my work - some were even really flattering. I'm saving them all, of course! Some are in a position to pack quite a political punch.. whew! They were brilliant! I will miss them terribly. Just when I had the nicest group of students a teacher could wish for, I'm moving on.

I've been approved! The visa arrived today, delivered by DHL. Thank goodness the crowd at the British consulate used their heads. We've been terrified, as the local postal service has been on strike for more than a month now and the visa... with all my original documents... had to be shipped from Rio de Janeiro. Talk about nail-biting. To get to Rio, 6 hours drive away, took more than 2 weeks and our flight is booked for next week!

We're going up to the UK, specifically Wales. Yes, I imagine we'll spend quite a while trying to pronounce the place we're in. The farm is in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. Green. We'll be surrounded by green and we laugh that the worst traffic we'll have to deal with is a tractor blocking the road. Ah bliss!! The photos above are taken from the farm house. We'll be in a log cabin near the farm house. It's brand spanking new. We've watched the building in photos. Those who've known me long will know my longing to live in a log cabin.

Tatiana has taken some time off and will be with us for the first 10 days of our stay there. I'm beyond excited. I've missed that girl so, so much!!! We'll be together at Christmas too... and New Year... and... I'm getting all worked up again!

So... we fly on Sunday, October 9th. Our trip is already planned down to the last detail... except for the piles. I'm surrounded by piles of STUFF. Where did all this stuff come from??? We have a couple of cases packed. This weekend, we'll finish packing. This week is my last week teaching before I go. I'm excited beyond words... but at the same time a little heart-sore. As I said, my current students are amazing. I'll miss them. I hope they'll stick around as friends. I have an idea they might just do that. For now, I go down streets and think, "This is the last time I'll.... "

Ends and beginnings... changes...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lost in translation

My shadow in the river canal.
The sharp mid-morning light shows it as clean, which is nice. I cropped a good deal of over-exposed concrete wall from the top of the picture.
This is to give you an idea of how deep it is.
When it rains, it overflows and floods the highway running alongside.

Sunday morning and I'm sitting watching Youtube videos with no inclination whatsoever to attend to the pile of dishes, pile of ironing, pile of laundry, pile of papers, pile of... well, you know...

It started with me briefly visiting the social network sites to see if anything new was happening. Facebook - check. G+ - check. Twitter - ... oh wait... huge miscommunication! Twitter in English is bad enough. I usually only follow people who at least attempt complete sentences. Thing is, I do know some Brazilians and they're there too. My Portuguese is stellar, of course *koff* but my Portuguese in Twitter unspeak? Ha! A guy posted that I had 'accepted' his story and I haven't even spoken to him in a few months. I responded, thinking he had a bit of a cheek mentioning me that way. Turns out he was just rejoicing that a magazine had published his story and was sharing his joy. Oh... Oops! What a difference a tilde makes! A tilde, by the way, is a common part of Portuguese, like the ã in São, for those who are wondering.

Then a colleague posted this video. It's hilarious! Welcome to my world! Note, it is adult humour for the most part, so I wouldn't watch it with the little ones, though they wouldn't understand it anyway.

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And then I watched this... also funny and So true!

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Ooh! And on the subject of language, I wanted to show you the latest gem I found in one of the clothing chains here. If it weren't for the sequins, I swear I'd buy it to befuddle the world (outside of Brazil, that is).

Saturday, 06 August 2011

We've got massive doses of boer-maak-'n-plan-heid!! Yep... that's us!

Maybe... just maybe...

Can you see me? Let's face it, that is an odd way to catch some sun!

I really, really want to get caught up with everyone and even post a blog or 10. I'm making no promises, but lets see how far I get with it this weekend.

So how is everyone? Summarise people! Summarise! *laughing* I've just lectured a student today on keeping his sentences short. Last night, I had to check through a document by a legal personage. Oh my word... they love long sentences!!! Add the Brazilian factor to that and you get entire third-of-a-page paragraphs that are one long sentence. Makes my brain hurt!

The magic button — Make Everything OK

Just click... that's all =)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


I know it's wasteful, but there are few things that are quite as luxurious as well lathered hair. I love the feel of the lather in my hair and then the hot water washing the suds out.

I'm grateful for my hair 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Snippets of life

My walk to work - or at least one of them.
I head to a 2 hour evening class in an industrial area.

My lunchtime student, the psychologist, is off to Spain (which explains my presence in blogland today). Brazilians don't like the winter, especially this lady. We had a gorgeous week of what I'd love as summer though. Warm, sunny days with a light breeze. It's cooling rapidly now. Rain to come this afternoon.

I have enough chicken soup in the pot to feed an army. Got some pasta and mince cooking as well. We haven't had that for a while. Evenings are always a challenge. I don't have any evenings free right now. The weekend ran away with me, so I'm doing a bulk cook-up now.

The guys at Gameloft are trying to persuade me to buy a new mobile. I got to play with the latest Samsung Galaxy in class *drools*

Multiply used to send personal messages to my mailbox. I see I missed a couple : (  I wasn't ignoring anyone. Promise!

I have a new 'friend' on my walks. It's hard to keep her attention though. She's very focused...

This little cat can be found at any time sitting meditating or scheming (you decide which) on the birds. I stood there for about 10 minutes photographing her from all angles. She didn't even twitch a whisker! When I get her attention, though, she is the sweetest, most affectionate little thing. The owner seems to collect and sell all kinds of junk. Both cat and birds seem very well cared for.

I have learnt that a good keyboard is worth its weight in gold! I will not take my keyboard for granted. I will not take my keyboard for granted. I will not take..... The letters had worn off my keyboard in far too short a period of time. The shop told us to contact Microsoft (it's a MS keyboard), which we did. They told us to ship the keyboard to them. While we waited, I used one of those little silicone keyboards you can roll up. It was a Portuguese keyboard, as opposed to the Brazilian abnt2 that I was used to. The keys had No Logic at all! I finally got my keyboard back *hugs keyboard* alçfkjdsçlk r48twpagw Never hug your keyboard.

Winter = naartjie season!!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunny Saturday

It wasn't a terribly exciting day today. I hauled out my leather and decided to finally make the cover for my teaching folder. I love leather. The thread I am using is, I think, older than I am. It's just always been there in Ouma's thread box. Countless times as a child, I'd sort the threads, tucking away loose strands and neatening the box. This spool of thread was always there and yet, it's as good as new. I don't know why it was originally bought. Ouma spoke of working leather as a young girl, but I never saw her using leather.

My Firefox wants to update to version 5. Poor Tat is having so many problems with it, so I'm a little leery. Another programme needed to update and, sure as little green apples grow on trees, it now has its own toolbar wanting to be installed. Oh no you don't. I was just thinking that if every programme's toolbar was allowed, I'd end up with no visible browser!

Supper tonight was pizza... the best pizza I've made in ages. Totally worth it and way better than the bought pizza, except for one minor issue... I had to make it. I love having food made for me!

I tried browsing Multiply earlier today, but eventually gave up. Instead, Tat and I went 'window shopping'. Don't you just love technology? We shopped for trainers. Wow... the variety out there?! Actually, I found an interesting video on buying trainers that talks about your arch and how people with different shaped arches run or walk. You can see it here.

As I typed the title to this blog, I remembered it was sunny today, which reminded me that I hung out washing, which reminded me that the washing is still out there... Oh dear. It's after midnight... a bit late to stumble around by torch light taking down jeans. Oh and the neighbour again has undies on the roof, this time in a bowl! I found the photo I took last time though *grins*

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Fardling fiddlesticks!!

I have just gotten off the phone with Paypal. Did you know Paypal has extended its reach to other countries, Brazil included? That should be good news, right? Ha! My Paypal account is an old, US based, one that I set up to be able to receive payments from my US and Canadian clients. Now that Paypal has opened up in Brazil, I can no longer do my banking in English!! Argh!

Thankfully, some soul out there in 0800-world heard the desperation in my voice and transferred me to Paypal USA where I got to speak to two super-friendly, helpful customer services folks. Apparently no one can choose their language on Paypal any more. In the end, I'm frustrated with Paypal, but the manic edge was taken off my mood.

While I was on hold (did you know that toll-free numbers have no urgency to talk to you?), I surfed the news.... nice, read-worthy articles today:

Dog and man unites (tissue warning!)

And South Africa's very own Sardine Run!



The great HRM (just for you, Marianne) was outside sanding down timber he found to make some herb boxes for upstairs. If we can find enough, Romany may even get himself a kennel built.

Otherwise, it's all in all been a quiet sort of day in which I did much of what I didn't plan to and nothing of what I did plan. Funny how it works that way.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The man who was father to me

Father's day just idled by and I found myself in a time of remembering...

Jim was my grandfather, a step-grandfather, at that, but he was father to me. I wanted to blog all he was, but I remembered I did it before: My hero  I read through that blog and found myself unexpectedly emotional. I loved him. He gave so much and asked so little in return. His was the calming voice when everyone was upset over the latest family ruckus. He wasn't cuddly or huggy or anything. He was just there... and strong... dependable.

So I hung out my Glook. Just because.

This past week, I was wearing my coin. I still remember the day I picked it up. I was about 5 or 6, I think. Jim and I were walking down Rink Street. I don't remember where we were going. I saw the coin and picked it up. "What's that you have there? A lucky penny?" He told me I couldn't spend it, but that it was special anyway. I clutched my 10 pence all the way home. There, Jim drilled a hole in the coin and put a chain on it. The chain was miles too long for the little girl, but perfect for the woman I am now. It's strong, dependable, no-frills, just as he was... and made with love.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Fiddle faddle

A blog of random nothingness...

On Sunday, we considered calling Ghostbusters. The neighbour was sounding a bit like a banshee. She was clearly unhappy with the men in her life (two adult sons and a husband).

A colleague in Germany wrote a brilliant blog on the work I (ok, we) do: What is TEFL?

It looks like I'm losing my little girl (student) because of a time clash. It breaks my heart. I'm fond of her, just not fond of her father. At all. On many levels.

I suggested yesterday that Jurgis writes and publishes a book called "The World's Worst Puns". It's sure to be a best-seller. Gems like: "You're a plant. You stalk people on Facebook, then you leaf." I almost cried, except that crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth in a Metro is undignified. I restricted myself to groaning and rolling my eyes.

They apparently cut our water on Sunday. We were blissfully unaware of it thanks to the roof-top cistern, except... We turned our taps on yesterday morning to brown sludge. Thanks Water Dept. It made for a day of fun drinking, showering, etc. Our water today is down to a weak tea colour. Our filters are totally blocked. Not a happy camper here. If you want to see what our water system here involves, I've written about it before here.

Oh! Before I forget! I wanted to tell you about a new site I found called Quietube. You put the button on your bookmarks toolbar and when you're viewing a Youtube or Vimeo video, you can click on Quietube and watch the video without some of the rather awful comments or so-called 'related' videos that often aren't related at all. If you want to send a link to a video to someone, but don't want the ghastly comments to show, Quietube solves that problem. Nice! Here is an example I was watching this morning.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Oi Vey!

A photo from Monday... I was waiting a few minutes before going in to my student when this guy pulled up at the lights. Biker dude crossed with junk hauler. He had a wagon attached to his bike that he had piled high with the type of scrap the cart guys usually haul around. Not an everyday sight, I can assure you.

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo. It was a rush job.

Sunday - a day of random daftness...

The neighbours have a basket of underwear on their roof. I don't want to know why. Actually, I do. What on earth..... ?! I can take a photo. No... no... definitely not. You'll have to use your imagination.

The youngsters at Tat's centre have gotten it into their heads to inhale helium. And here I thought teenagers were clever. No... wait... they're not teenagers! They're adults!!! The future's in dire trouble.

A student wants his demo class... on a Sunday Afternoon??!! Ugh! Who named it a weekEND anyway?

Neighbours are trying to have a conversation with their dog - a big random-breed dog - barking incessantly between them... at us and the bbq'ing undies-on-the-roof neighbours. How can anyone have a conversation like that?

The bbq'ing neighbours are just winding up for what, I think, will be a long night of raucous yelling. Have you ever heard a tree full of wild parrots squawking? It sounds like that... without the pleasantness associated with bird calls.

Calling all inventors!

Not my socks! My pile is bigger and all boring colours, which makes sorting harder.

I will pay good money for a sock-folding machine. Really!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Translation needed, please

Personally, I can't stand Shakespeare. I spent a large part of my high school years avoiding him like a plague. Only lately have I become amused, not by the plays, but by the way Shakespeare messed with the language.

Tatiana sent me this little snippet this morning:

You think reading Shakespeare is hard? Imagine the poor people in a couple of hundred years time, who will be reading " So, like, I was like maaate I'm gonna shank yuu so ard bruv! and den Tairone was like "you havin' a bubble," and I was like "No mate, are you thick doe! but Shanesse was like OMG doe, Actual LOL innit! because she got a text from Brandon who said that Christa was like, on the chunder train after downing a whole bottle of Voddy and Strongy B......."

I defy you to translate that to normal, understandable English (without the help of someone under the age of 18).

Thursday, 09 June 2011

I'm late!

Which reminds me of a little anecdote from the past...

I tried working, very briefly, in direct sales. Let's just say, I'm definitely not a salesperson. The area I was assigned for the day was Indian. Durban has a very large Indian community. The calls were based on requests prospective clients put in at the shopping centre. I knocked and the lady of the house opened. "Could I speak to Mr X, please?" "No, sorry. He's late." I said I didn't mind and that he'd requested the visit and perhaps I could start the quote while I waited for him. "No, no. You don't understand. He's late!" Yes, I understood that he was late. Did she think he'd be very long before getting home? She got very flustered, threw up her hands and exclaimed, "He's dead!" I was rather nonplussed by the revelation. Late? Dead? Ah yes! I got it!

I woke up at 6:30am, considering my alarm (buried deep in my handbag) was set for an hour earlier. That left me half an hour to get my sleepy butt out the door. The sky was heavy with clouds. I left saying that I needed to take an umbrella. Guess who left without an umbrella. I arrived at the Metro a little more than damp. On my way home, I bought an umbrella. My last umbrella is in tatters. I miss it, a bright lime green. It was a cheerful umbrella. The new one is a rather boring, sombre beige, but it works. Needless to say, because I was now armed, not a drop of rain fell on the way home. As I walked in at home, the rain started again.

The weather has been freaky. Yesterday, the entire state of São Paulo was without electricity due to a cyclone in the south somewhere. Jurgis mentioned where, but my head was elsewhere. We were lucky in that it wasn't off for too long here. Some people are still without power. Over 100 trees were felled by the winds here in the city. That laundry I'd left out? It was tied in knots on the lines. T-shirts don't do well in knots.

I leave for my next student in half an hour. It's raining. I do categorically not want to go out in this. I love the rain, but a 1 mile trek with trucks whizzing by and spraying slush? Nah.

Tuesday, 07 June 2011

Girl in rain

I discovered this sweet image by Pentelka on Deviantart. It fits.

*shiver* I suppose getting changed would be a good thing. The heavens opened in a sheet of driving rain as I stepped off the bus. It was almost as though someone up there waited... "Oh look! She's getting off now. Quick! Get the buckets!" And guess who had no umbrella. Why should I? We haven't seen a drop of rain for weeks. Did I mention my wash lines were full of freshly laundered, almost-dry washing? And the cat litter was outside getting some sun?

Tonight I have to prepare some grammar sheets. I am so not in the mood. But... we have a pot of chicken soup waiting to be heated, so all is well. I'm having some serious schedule conflicts. Everyone wants classes at their time, which is totally understandable and wouldn't be a problem if everyone's preference could be spread out. I need a clone. I have been introduced to another South African girl who's teaching and wants to branch out as a private teacher. I need to meet her still. I hope she's worth her salt as a teacher, so I can pass some work her way. Time will tell. The first problem there is finding time to meet her. Between her schedule and mine, a miracle is needed.

Off to get that soup now...

Student cancelled. I'm giving myself a fly-by hour on Multiply. Let's see how quickly I can get through the blogs. Good speed-reading practice =Þ

Sunday, 29 May 2011


An old school friend posted a photo of me in high school... pigtails 'n all. This sent me down memory lane, so I dug up an old blog, "Did you know...?"  I was reading the blog and comments when Jurgis spotted the Chappies bubble gum in the picture, which led, in turn, to many more memories - funny how that works.

Hm.... I can smell the Chappies now. I believe they now have all sorts of flavours, but, to me, there's only one Chappies flavour. Of course, eating bubble gum, be it Chappies or Wacky Wicks, was absolutely verboten, which, of course, meant we ate them whenever humanly possible.

The conversation drifted aimlessly among childhood memories... Dagwoods, the corner café where I'd stock up on Chappies, TV programmes like Knersus and Haas Das se Nuuskas. Knersus was a particularly dumb programme, but leaves me wanting to name my next dog Knersus just for fun. He was a pterodactyl whose sole aim in life was to catch a bunny for supper. He shared luckless plotting with his 3 pairs of false teeth.

Of course, no meander down memory lane would be complete without spending an afternoon or evening in front of the radio, listening to Springbok Radio, with a comforting cup of coffee. I used to keep my ears open for the illicitly-enjoyed "Wolwedans in die Skemer" - 'Wolf dance at dusk'. I definitely was not meant to be listening and, to this day, I don't know why I compulsively listened, as I avoid thrillers like the plague. It was a series about an axe murderer. I was a kid. What was I thinking? Jurgis would listen to Squad Cars, a series about real crimes solved by the South African police, jam packed with action and screeching tyres - typical boy fare. Actually, I did listen to a snippet online and found myself disappointed that the show wasn't complete. I think I should have listened to Squad Cars instead of Wolwedans back then. I don't know... I think it was the compelling voices and acting. It's one thing acting on television, but voice acting takes special talent. To be able to allow the listener to picture the emotions and actions just with sound is incredible.

I found a very rare clip of Wolwedans in die Skemer online. This is just a snippet.



Saturday, 07 May 2011


My apologies to the squeamish for this photo. It's a good thing we don't have scratch 'n sniff technology. Trust me, it smelt a lot worse than it looks!

For about a week, wherever I walked, there were macumba 'artefacts' lying around - candles in one place, random chickens in another, but none to rival my one walk. Every second block had an entire row of chickens. Is that desperate macumba?

No, it wasn't the prolific macumba that influenced my disappearance... though you never know, right? I got very busy. My weeks were taken up with teaching - with brief stops at home to change clothes or pick up materials, dinner at 9pm and falling into bed. Saturday afternoons were filled with laundry and housekeeping and Sunday found me under a pile of papers preparing for the next week. I think I lost myself somewhere in there.

I've been pretty under the weather, topped, this weekend, by a cold - kindly contributed by the sniffing cashier, I'm sure. I threatened to disinfect my bank card when I got home and forgot. I should sue them for Vit. C tablets... or her. Her... uh... nasal hygiene left a lot to be desired.

I really, really want to write again, but I tend to write 3 lines before my mind wanders and the pen lies idle. I have at least 6 draft posts here that will probably never see the light of day. Their impetus is quite gone.

So, in short, beyond tripping over chicken remains in the road, a very bad diet of snatched snacks at odd hours, blearily looking at my over-full mailbox in the evenings, I have nothing to report. Life, as it is, is continuing at a steady (and, today, noisy) pace. The sun is shining and the neighbours are vying with each other to see who can play the worst music the loudest. Their attempts at barbecues aren't very successful either. I strongly suspect that I'm going to work smelling of wood-smoke this week. I suppose I should take that laundry down before it's totally cured...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Whenever I turn around

... there is one more thing to do, one more call to make, one more lesson to prepare. Work. Live. Repeat.

Wonder who was the recipient of this particular 'magic'.
'Macumba' is still fairly widely practiced here.

Yes, I have been busy, probably no busier than some of you, but somehow, I just haven't managed to get on top of it. It's good though. Busy keeps me from thinking too much. I have a dozen blogs started in my little notebook. Wonder if I'll ever get them written up. Of course, they're all out of date now, except for those with their feet firmly planted in the distant past.

March Madness and April Foolishness spread to the classroom with one little girl being determined to drive me crazy. I was very proud of her, though, when she showed her dad up with a simple word like 'silly'. She was proud to demonstrate what it meant. Um... not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but still.

Her sister now sits in on all classes. It's either that or a wailing to end all wailing is started. It wouldn't be so bad if she weren't hell-bent on getting to the keyboard. She's a special kid with hydroencephalitis and major health issues, but she's made huge strides this year. She knows the word 'laptop' (go figure) and sit and she tries to say my name. Kudos to her. Most adults can't get it right.

I now teach from 7am (that's not the time I leave home, but the time I start) to 8pm every day except Friday. Saturday, I finish at lunch time, thankfully. Then I play catch up here at home. Sunday is just a heap of papers and lesson plans. I'm prepared for most of the classes. When I feel busy, I just think of my one 'new' student. She's not really new. She's a returning student. She's changing jobs, getting married and finishing her MBA all in the next couple of weeks. Insane! Oh and that's besides putting in many hours on an intensive English course.

It's our anniversary on Tuesday. 25 years. That's a long time, let me tell you. I need another medal. We won't be doing anything. I won't be home for that. I may treat us to a pizza for supper. It'll be nice not to have to cook for a change.

The scene that greets me (sometimes) at the metro station
on my way to my final student in the evening.

It rained today... rained quite hard with the usual flooding in some areas and widespread hail. We weren't really affected. I'm tired. Roll on the Easter long weekend. I think I'll vow not to budge out of my chair or bed for the entire weekend. Now there's a plan. Nah. I'll find something to do, like play catch up.

Tuesday, 05 April 2011



stars in our night time

plotting a path

when we can't see the way

* * * * *

Video - Catch a falling star
* * * * *

Photograph by Tatiana Lasevicius

Saturday, 26 March 2011

PC grief

The baby has been cleaned, wiped, fed, burped.... and I'm up and running... kinda. I still have to sort through the mass confusion that is my data to find vital files. In my panic, I baked up vital and irrelevant files all over the show. Then there's the job of finding out which files were duplicated and which are damaged.

On that subject, if you're ever curious about how much duplicated junk you have on your pc, DoubleKiller is a brilliant little (free) programme. You don't install it, but it searches your drive or folder and tells you what's duplicated. It's very accurate. I've used it many times. You check the duplicates and the programme deletes them for you.

I have found bunches of data, just not the most recent data... y'know... the important stuff. Yup... it goes like that.

While waiting for various tedious processes to be completed on my pc today, we took the dog, kicking and screaming to be washed. Ok, not quite screaming, but you'd swear he was off to the torture chamber. He got a decent brush too and feels sooo soft now and smells like a poof. Of course, our little bathroom had to be washed afterward. Man, that dog spread more hair than he has on him!

So yes, I'm back. I'm going to be spending most of Sunday preparing for the week. I now work most evenings too. Fun indeed! I have to figure out my schedule all over again - my calendar file has gone to the land of nod or someplace like that, along with most of my current student records. I'm going to try to pop around to blogs though. I may not be able to comment as much as I'd like though... but I'll try. In the meantime, it's Good to be Back!! =)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Y'see.... it's like this

Kippy started a whole trend here with her pc. I'll blame her. I mean, it can't be my fault, can it?

In short, my woes started when my data drive died. I managed to recover some data, but most of the data appears to be damaged. Less than 24 hours later, my C drive started getting blue screens every few minutes, often not even completing the boot up before going into another blue screen cycle. We're now formatting and reloading my Windows to hopefully resolve the problem.

*huge sigh*

I need to be up and running soon. I have Skype students coming up, one of whom is new and needs to be convinced that Skype is the best thing since sliced cheese. It won't be easy to convince her if my pc is down... kinda.

This whole deal is driving me quietly insane. My schedule has been turned upside down this week and I have none of my resources on hand or my calendar or my students' details. I've been trying to get everything in snatches. There's still a lot to be said for paper. My problem has been coming up with lessons.... it's all on my data drive!

Anyway, I just thought I'd leave a note here to tell you all why I'm missing. Hopefully I'll be back soon. Don't have too much fun without me ; ) Ok, that was lame!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

That'll teach me!

Kippy, is it too late to apologise profusely for making fun of your Apple????

My data drive died this morning. All my information on my new students is gone. I can't print lessons or timesheets. Damn!
Damn! Damn! (pardon the French) Jurgis plugged our external backup drive in and now the pc won't boot up at all. I'm on his dinky little pc just letting the world (at least the world I now have contact with) know.  I need to get life back in that pc SOON. Tuesday morning starts the Skype classes.

I learned something about myself today.... I do well in a crisis. I'm the one who says, "Ok, let's all calm down and think this through." But... hand me a piddly crisis like a cut on the finger or burnt toast and I freak. Yep... that makes me weird.

Ok, back to my ironing... and washing floors... and dusting... while Jurgis tries to work miracles on my pc

It's all numbers

I've been thinking of numbers a lot this week for one reason or another. On Thursday, I was rather melancholy and thoughtful....

"We're a quarter of the way through the year. I'm pretty much half-way through my life. In terms of my dreams and goals, the clock is ticking - very loudly. My life so far has been one of revving engines, tyres spinning in mud, occasionally moving a few inches ahead, even more occasionally moving ahead by a couple of feet - very often just sinking further into the mire.

My tendency to find humour in life has been a survival tactic. If I don't, the misery and, yes, bitterness may just swallow me up. Like many take a pill against what ails them, I take smiles, laughter and positive snippets daily, sometimes hourly. It's my 'silver bullet' against melancholy."
Thankfully, my inner ponderings were disturbed by the arrival of my student. I guess my point was that I felt I was running out of time to get to where I want to be. I've been accused of being Miss Glass-half-full before. I don't mind that, except that it doesn't always come naturally. It often takes a lot of work : )  Luckily, working on being happy isn't odious and it does actually make life a whole lot more tolerable.

So... numbers... for one, I don't mind getting older. I'll never be one of those people who celebrate their 29th birthday till they're 90. Age doesn't worry me. It never has. As a teen, I found it easy to get into age restricted movies... probably because I wasn't trying as hard as the other girls with high heels and makeup. I'd pitch up in jeans and trainers with no makeup and casually go in while they seethed in their dolled-up glory. Now, apparently, I don't look old enough to have a grown daughter *shrug* Hey... I earned this grey hair. It deserves recognition! *laugh*

Thanks so, so much for all the birthday wishes. It made me, once again, aware of how big my tapestry of friendship is. I had wishes from far and near... and even from some fairly unexpected sources. It did, however, make me miss my loved ones terribly. Thank goodness for technology! Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without a 2 hour power failure. Jurgis woke me with a mug of coffee and a bowl of hot oats. Nice! My morning student had cancelled, so the day was pretty much free. For supper, I made us some crumbed chicken with roasted veg. I wanted to make the magic chocolate pudding, but the power failure nixed that idea. Yes, I do cook with gas, but the recipe was on my computer. Not a big issue. There was ample delicious cyber-cake going around ;)

More on numbers, I got a belated birthday gift today. My student this morning announced that the metro is finally open from 4:30am to 11:30pm!!! Now why didn't they tell me that last week. It would have made my logic puzzle sooo much easier to work out! It's an easy 20 minute walk to the metro and from there, a quick hop right into town. I've been waiting for this for years!

I stitched up a pair of shorts for Jurgis today. I've decided to turn the waffle weave fabric I posted about into a hooded cape for winter. It's just warm enough, I think, and I do love capes. It won't be a particularly long one, but hopefully it will be enough to keep this garoa off. Yep, we've gone from torrents into garoa... a fine, drizzly rain that swirls in all directions; thus rendering umbrellas quite useless. Tomorrow, I'll be preparing for the week. I have 2 confirmed new students and one half-confirmed. Then I have to reorganise my schedule and transport. I can leave for work a whole hour later!!! Yes, that is how much the metro cuts off my travel time!

Night everyone! Thanks again for making my birthday special : )

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Wednesday's logic puzzles

I love the look on this guy's face - very apt for me today

Guess who forgot to reset the alarm last night... so I woke up at 4:30am instead of 6am. For the uninitiated, I wake up at a different time every day, depending on my schedule. Well, if nothing else, by the time I headed out, I was quite awake and could take my poor beleaguered limbs on a somewhat less frantic walk today - stop for a photo or two, then later to wish on a dandelion clock before ambling, nay, make that limping into the metro station.

I am sore... so very sore. Monday, I walked to the metro station, a 1.8km (1.1 mile) walk, then back again after the earlier students. I now do that walk at least twice a day, sometimes 4 times. It's not arduous. Because the bus route to my evening student is 100% ghastly, I decided to walk to his offices - an easy (or so I thought) 4.5km (2.8 mile) walk away. I figured it was no less than my workout walk. Ha! I was wearing fairly comfortable shoes that are just a smidgeon too big for me. I walked briskly, not wanting to chance being late and the sooner I could get there, the more time I could give myself to cool down and look less like I've just run a marathon before meeting the client. By the last mile, I felt as though both legs had full-on cramps and my left heel was one big open blister. Nasty. Otherwise, it was good. There was a nice breeze blowing that made it bearable - as long as I ignored my lower limbs.

I felt those lower limbs for the rest of the week... I won't even talk about the blister.

Back to Wednesday morning...
Ugh, the temperature is at a 'fresh' 24ºC (75ºF) and is now deemed too 'cold' for the fans and aircons to be on. Why on earth do Brazilians always look cool as cucumbers, while I look like a roasted pig with sweat tapping off in a highly unladylike manner?? The metro is packed. They really should open it earlier. I was off to a meeting with a new student. It went well. I'm still trying really hard to convince her to have her classes via Skype. I'm not pushy or anything, just hell-bent and determined *laugh*

Juggling three heads... yep, that's me!

I have spent the past two days frantically trying to squeeze 3 more classes into my morning and another two into my afternoon. You know those logic puzzles? The ones where Mary likes apples, but doesn't like bananas, Joe likes peaches, but is allergic to mangoes, Jack hates apples, but loves papaya, etc... and you have to figure out who gets to eat what in the end? I sucked at doing those, so I avoid them. Right now, my schedule is like a logic puzzle, except without the logic and too many 'Janes' like 'peaches'. Everyone wants the 8am slot. Mary wants any day of the week, except Mondays. Janet wants any day except Friday. Thursday is taken by John. And so it goes on.

I ended up dropping one student and convincing another that she can only have one class per week, instead of two. She may just decide on another teacher with that kind of condition *sigh*

I'm itching! I'm sooo over mosquitoes!! Most things in nature, I can figure out why they were created, but mosquitoes.... ?? Can anyone tell me??

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


"Never let go of hope. One day you will see
that it all has finally come together. What you
have always wished for has finally come to be.
You will look back and laugh at what has passed
and you will ask yourself...
'How did I get through all of that?'”

–Author unknown

I'm on the wrong bus!

Catching up on the week's notes...

This photo was taken some years back at Serra Negra

I woke up this morning from a disturbing dream. I got onto bus #102 (buses here aren't numbered quite that way) from my 'usual' bus stop even though I didn't recognise the route on the board attached to the side of the bus. Buses here have the main roads of the route written up on their sides - if you're lucky enough to get one to stop long enough to read it, that is. I took this one, being sure of the bus number.

Not long after, I realised the bus was going in the completely wrong direction. I kept yelling to be let off the bus, but no one helped and the driver ignored me. The bus took me on a roundabout  through an unfamiliar neighbourhood, then did a loop up a bumpy, unpaved hill and back down. By this time, I was in tears of frustration.

As the bus, once again wound through another unfamiliar neighbourhood, one of the passengers kept telling me "Sua machina!" Somehow my cellphone had started blaring out a local TV station. I was livid because it meant my battery had been wasted unnecessarily. I had just turned it off when the bus stopped. I was back where I started!

Now dealing with bus routes is nothing new to me. There is the constant fear in the back of my mind that I'll take the wrong bus or metro and end up late. One digit wrong can take me to the opposite end of the city. The concern is worse when I don't know the route or destination.

Right now, I know my destination - or at least, the place I want to... need to be. It's the route that's fuzzy. I feel as though I'm being taken up bumpy, unpaved roads, only to be brought back to reality by local transmissions and to find I'm back where I started.

On the other hand, it may just be that my teaching routine is once again changing and I spent much of the weekend carefully mapping out new bus routes and noting down bus numbers.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Totally wasted Saturday!

It's not bad enough that I slept for two hours after giving two classes this morning. I hate sleeping so long. It turns me into a zombie for a few hours after. I then chugged down some coffee and a few biscuits (necessary sustenance... believe me!).

Checking my mail showed me that I had some random guy following me on Twitter. Nosiness drove me over there. I'm always kind of shocked when someone adds me as a contact or follows me on a site like Twitter. It isn't as though I use the site. I mean... I go there once every blue moon when someone follows me. I did, however, spend an entertaining half hour browsing through motivational quotes and a hashtag: #beforetwitter (people put this hashtag into their tweets, much like we use tags here on Multiply). So.... for your education and edification...

#BeforeTwitter I read the drivel of friends on Facebook, now I get to read it from strangers.

   -  or in twit (aka idiot) talk:
#beforetwitter i wud neva tell any1 my thotz..now i tel a bunch of strangerz

#BeforeTwitter some spoke their minds; now they just tweet anothers'

#beforetwitter I knew what homework was.......

#Beforetwitter there were these crazy things called books. People read them for pleasure & to be educated so they didn't "tlk lik this."

#beforetwitter these random thoughts of nothingness had no outlet. Now everyone knows exactly how insane the world really is

#beforetwitter I didn't realize how much random nothingness I had to share w/ the world

#beforetwitter I actually had to spend time with you to Learn who u are as a person. These days. Not so much

#beforetwitter following a stranger would put you in jail

#beforetwitter following a stranger was called stalking

#BeforeTwitter I wrote sentences.
The sheer brilliance of the collective mind out there is staggering! *koff*

Supper was a boring affair of pasta with calabresa (Italian sausage), designed to send me up heartburn alley for the night. We watched an episode of Stargate (yes, we watch really old TV shows). After supper, I got sidetracked with music on Youtube. One thing led to another, as it's inclined to do, and I ended up on a witch-hunt for a song that just does not exist on the internet! I ended up writing to a guy who claims to have the 7" single - on vinyl. Yes, it's an old song.

I'm sitting here laughing so hard. Jurgis was helping me find the song I mentioned, when he got sidetracked too. No less than with David Kramer himself. There isn't a South African who doesn't know that name. David Kramer of the veldskoene, blikkitaar, bicycle and long, empty Karoo roads scattered with tiny Karoo towns. David Kramer has well and truly sung his way through South African culture. "Hier sit die manne in die Royal Hotel..."

A bit of random information from Wiki that started this off: The Kramer family name (originally Karabelnik) was adopted by his grandfather who arrived in South Africa from Lithuania in 1899, and made a living as a salesman (walking from farm to farm selling goods). The family's from Lithuania?? I see he also grew up with his grandfather then.



David Kramer's brother paints the most amazing oils of yesteryear, also of those tiny one-horse towns. PEP stores is iconic too...

Do visit his site for a glimpse into sleepy South African small towns.
His paintings are amazing!

Friday, 11 March 2011


A tenuous peace exists. The blue and red 'box' - I promise, it used to be a box... a cat box, to be precise... until Romany claimed it - now has new interest for Specs. She used it, I think, about 5 times since we got it. Now that Romany has claimed it, mooshed it, flattened it and generally abused it, she has taken it back. I lie.... she just occupies anywhere he likes to lie, blankie included, just to thwart his comfort. He takes it in good spirits and generally hides out at my feet under the desk. 

A couple of days ago, we were outside and I decided to finally photograph our giant, man-eating ants. These things are huge, by ant standards anyway, at least 1cm in length... make that just under half an inch (I think). We love bees and encourage them as much as possible. When it's really dry outside, we put out honey water for them. That was a lid to a container with honey water. The bees fled. The ants moved in.

Strangely, it's the little ants that are violent here. We have some that calmly walk over you and bite... just because and it burns! They're so insignificant-looking too. Then there are the ones that aggressively attack other creatures. While I was out, I watched a pack of them attacking a maggot (don't ask... it was ugly). Today, there was a lady bug on Jurgis' arm, so we put it on our most aphid-ridden plant. The ants moved in and toppled the bug to the soil below and attacked it. I quickly lifted it out, shook the ants off and it flew away, no doubt cursing us for nearly getting it killed. Horrible things.

I've been busy cutting and sewing. Today, I rescued a dress I wear far too often - it's my only cool, summer dress for around home. It's neckline and arms were starting to fray badly. It looks more respectable now. I've added another season onto its life, I think. The neighbour has gone away for a time. He gave his keys to Jurgis, so he could open windows to air the place and such. He has a perfectly magnificent granite work surface in the kitchen at the perfect height - he's extremely short, so it's totally wasted on him... no fair. I've been cutting fabric on there for the past few days. Then I can sew at my leisure. So far, I have a pair of shorts for Jurgis, a blouse for myself and a pair of slacks. My plan is to use up all the fabric I've been stashing for so long.

I have a quandary though. This fabric is upholstery fabric. In my dreams, it is to go on dining room chairs. I can just see it. But... it's been many years since we've had a dining room, never mind dining room chairs. When we moved here, a room in our house, the big front room, was being rented by an upholsterer. We let him stay for a time, while we found our feet. The fabric was left over from a job he had. Anyhow, I need to do something with it. Jurgis suggested a bed cover. There isn't enough. It's a lot of fabric, but not enough to cover a double bed. Any ideas? I'm looking for inspiration. I was thinking a jacket or coat...

Here is a close up of the fabric. The texture is that of thick linen...

Then there's this other piece. Very textured, softer, thicker. You can see it falls differently. Also winter jacket potential. Also not big enough for the bed. In its original plan, it was meant to be throw pillows. Again, I have no couch, so that's a moot point. Hm... a pair of pants, I wonder.... ?

Here's a close up, so you can see the texture...

I need ideas... inspiration... anything going? What would YOU do?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Stop staring!

Marty posted a hilarious video earlier. It reminded me of a t-shirt Tat bought for herself on her SA trip a few years back.

Tat was still modelling on and off at that point, though, as life got in the way, it was petering out. In the peak of her time as a model, she couldn't walk anywhere without drawing attention, no matter how frumpily or austere she'd dress. She's still like that. She has the most beautiful face and radiates 'simpatico', as the Brazilians put it. Sympatico is a bit like congeniality with a whole lot more friendliness and niceness thrown in. Back then, it was just more so, combined with a gorgeous figure and curves most Brazilian girls get implants for.

So the t-shirt, which, sadly, had absolutely no effect on the desired audience because it was in snarky English...

The photo is bad. It was one of the outtakes from a totally fun photoshoot I had with her - hey, I lived with a model I didn't have to pay! But you get the idea. It was in-your-face shocking pink: Stop Staring. Grow Your Own. Tat wore the t-shirt on the plane coming home. She'd quite forgotten it until one of the air stewards did a double take and packed up laughing. He then called the other stewards to show them. Talk about an in-flight ice-breaker! Tat really needs to tell the story herself. It was funny.

I loved that photo shoot, incidentally. I often flip through the photos. The postures and expressions go much further than just showcasing a pretty girl. It spoke of a relationship between us. To this day, I match her puzzled frown with "You want me to do what?!" and much goofy laughter. The photo above has Tat covered in cat and dog fur. She had been distracted by the cat walking past. We tried to get the cat into the photos, but had to settle for one of Tat's vast collection of teddy bears in the end.

Of course, I got some stunning photos out of the shoot (my opinion, naturally).

Not entirely photographic excellence, but...

My dreamer... tomboy... lady... 21 years old.... still with childlike wonder at life and beautiful inside and out. Oh ok... I just used the t-shirt as an excuse to show off *grins*