This week we travel back to 2009 for #tbt. Say hello to Travis, my nephew. He turned 12 earlier this year, so he would've been a whole 5 years old when this photo was taken - I don't get to see him as often as I'd like to but he knows I love him. Besides, he's the only person who can officially call me Uncle Rev; how cool is that?!
Uncle Rev and Travis, circa 2009.
Jessie; aka Jessica Jane, Jessica Pain or Jess-Jess is the last of our Jack Russell's and no matter how old she turns with each passing year, she's 4 1/2 now - she will forever be my baby girl. This is how she came to be ours.
This photo pretty much sums up her character!
Jessie is the third and last Jack Russell to join our pack. We weren't officially looking for a third dog but after seeing an advert on Gumtree describing a litter of Jack Russell's that were looking for a home - I decided to go have a look - we had Max and Cleo for about six months by then. There was something about the ad that had alarm bells ringing; the main thing that concerned me was the age of the litter, it seemed the dog breeder (well, we can debate whether they were dog breeders or farmers....) was trying to sell off the litter well before they were ready to leave their pack. My intuition was right - I arrived at this suburban home, that had makeshift cages with various breeds of dogs separated from each other. The hair on the back of my neck started to stand up. As the woman took me to see where this Jack Russell litter was; at all of 4 1/2 weeks old - Jessie was the only puppy left. In my opinion that was still a good two weeks before any of the puppies should've been taken away from their mother. I saw this lonesome pup and knew we had to rescue the little mite. It was late on a Friday afternoon, the seller wanted more than I was happy to pay but after leaving and calling Chris to fill him in on the situation - we decided to buy (perhaps rescue is a better word to use) her - he met up with me shortly afterwards so we could go together to collect our Jessie.
As mentioned, it was late on a Friday afternoon so I phoned our family vet and booked her in for a check-up that following Monday but after having spent most of that evening taking countless ticks off her - yes, it sounds gross but it needed to be done - I rescheduled the appointment to that Saturday morning. She desperately needed a check-up and tick dip; how small and helpless she was. I recall how I used to carry her around in a bag; she went shopping with me, she ran errands with me - I forget now how many times people stopped to say hello to my newest baby; not that she minded though, she's always loved being the centre of attention.
As is with Cleo, she is fiercely independent - only showing up when the familiar sounds of breakfast or dinner being prepared emanates from the scullery. Jessie's one 'party trick' is to stand on her hind legs when waiting for a treat, she does it so well that who could resist giving her a doggy biscuit in return? We tease and call her Sid, as in the sloth from the Ice Age movie franchise.
Is it Sid the sloth? No! It's Jessie!
Just as with Max and Cleo before her, Jessie went through the same training; trips in the car to get her used to the sensation of driving - apart from the odd vomit here and there - we managed to get through that ordeal. Whilst I walked Cleo (later adding Justin too); Chris walked Max and Jess-Jess - she has ended up being quite the enthusiastic walker - always ready to traipse as far as we will allow.
We also said goodbye to living in a gated community with her arrival and moved into our first freestanding home, which was a blessing in itself as we desperately needed the space and we haven't looked back since. I suppose, in a way, we are good parents to our animals in that sense. I always hear stories of people who need to re-home their pets because they plan to move into homes that can't accommodate them - which seems a bit selfish in my opinion - why invest your money, time and love into your pets if you're not prepared to take their every need into consideration when looking at places to live or when you're 'following your dreams'? Who would wilfully choose to cast their pet(s) aside when one's situation changes? I'm of the opinion that having a pet is not a right, it is a privilege and with any privilege comes it's accompanying responsibilities.
But back to Jessie.
We were so good with Max and Cleo with regards to having them fixed; both were sorted around their respective 12 week's mark. When it came to Jessie, we were like, 'we really need to take her to the vet' but being third in the pack, we thought we had this all under control. Until I arrived home from work to discover that she was on heat. Ah, the joy! So we did what any parents to dogs would do and bundled her into the car and off to our vet we went. It was only the next day - when we collected her - that he informed us that she had given him quite the scare on the operating table, as he had battled to stop the bleeding but fortunately she pulled through and has been a relatively fit little Jack Russell ever since - bar the odd bee sting, for which we have doggy antihistamines.
According to one of my books on Jack Russell Terrier's; there are certain breed standards that need to be confirmed before they can be legally registered as a Jack Russell Terrier (which is important if you're planning on breeding). We weren't interested in registering them - as they are our pets - not a source of income. Temperament wise they are meant to be bold, fearless, friendly and confident - Max, Cleo and Jessie all conform to this standard but physically all three of them would be disqualified on the following three points: Max is less than 50% white, a Jack Russell's coat must always be more white than tan and /or black (this harks back to their hunting background with the breed needing to be visible and not confused for foxes); Cleo has a major underbite - an automatic disqualification owing to a genetic fault; last but not least, Jessie would be disqualified because of her almost albino-like skin pigment, as can be seen with her pink nose. Saying that we wouldn't swop these three Jack Russell's for the world, they truly are an amazing breed and I can't imagine what life would be like without these three little characters running around.
So now you've officially met Justin, Max, Cleo and Jessie - almost done introducing all of our hounds.
Until next time,
We travel back to 2001 for this week's #tbt - the year I applied for my identity book - I can't believe my ID is 15 years old, yikes!
Me, circa 2001.
This past Saturday we were listening to the news on the radio, whilst on our way home from Builders Warehouse - we're busy with a few projects in and around the house at the moment - the newsreader happened to mention that the autopsies of the 7 Wits students, who had tragically lost their lives in a road accident, at the beginning of the month had been completed.
As she was rattling off what they were all studying prior to their deaths, only then did it dawn on me how tragic this accident was; we as a country in that one accident lost 7 future teachers, engineers, lawyers, doctors and actuaries. In a country like ours, can we really afford to lose youngsters - who were all studying professions that are in such dire need here in South Africa - to a taxi accident? Aside from the fact that so many people in our country put their lives at risk every time they climb into one of these taxis - which is their only form of transport.
From what I understand, the taxi collided with the trailer of an overturned truck and caught fire with all the victims stuck inside the vehicle. I understand how that can happen but what confuses me most is that this was an avoidable accident with the innocent passengers paying with the ultimate price, their lives. Should the taxi driver not have been able to see the trailer of the overturned truck had he been traveling at a safe following distance? Why did he not see the trailer? Was he speeding? If visibility was an issue, why had he not slowed down to a safe driving speed? These are just some of my thoughts on this subject matter.
The same long weekend that this accident happened, a further 230 people lost their lives to accidents on the road - we were also on the road over that weekend; traveling from Durban to Johannesburg and back - Chris made sure that he followed the correct speed limits, safe following distance.s and also just generally keeping an eye out for what other drivers were getting up to. I had checked my tyre pressure and made sure all was in correct working order with my car (even though I drive a relatively safe car and know all is in working order, I always double-check) before I and / or we hit the roads in my car - like we are taught to do whilst learning to drive. Not to forget taking regular breaks to stretch your legs - if you're driving long distances, there's really no need to rush it - if you're pressed for time rather catch a flight, if possible. Do you follow these guidelines? Or are you one of those people who think, 'ah I have been driving for 10, 20, even 30 years - I know what I am doing'. 'Who cares if my car is not completely roadworthy?' 'Why do I need to observe safe following distances?' 'I've been driving for so long, I can anticipate anything.'
That's where the problem starts, in my opinion.
Yes, we all know taxi drivers are a law unto themselves here in South Africa and they generally do what they want but one can't point fingers and say ah well a taxi was involved in that accident, they were at fault - even though 90% of the time it may be true - it's about holding yourself accountable too. Do you hold yourself accountable when driving?
My headlight recently needed to be replaced.
When I ask if you hold yourself accountable whilst driving, I mean; do you indicate your intention to turn or merge into another lane every time? Do you buckle up and insist your passengers buckle up too? Refuse to use your cellphone whilst driving? Are you driving with a legal drivers license? Is your car in good working order? Do you follow the rules of the road? Stick to speed limits? If you can't answer yes to these few questions, then - in my opinion - all of us aren't really in a position to point fingers at other irresponsible drivers, are we? I don't like to think of myself as naive, I get it - life happens and our driving skills adjust accordingly. I think the one small change that may make a difference in this regard and I also like to think that all of us can attempt trying it - by simply being considerate. I try to be, do you?
My one headlight needed to be replaced recently, towards the end of the week before last. Fortunately, my car is still under warranty - so it was just a case of calling and booking it in to have the bulb replaced - but whilst my headlight wasn't working I made sure that I wasn't on the roads after sunset - apart from it being against the law to drive without both headlights working - I also know it makes me less visible to other drivers too, so I was being considerate, right? Nothing annoys me so when drivers blind you, whilst they drive with their main beams on to compensate for one of their lights not working - or worse still, if they don't even know they have their brights on, that is being inconsiderate in my opinion.
Perhaps it's because I was involved in a car accident myself - luckily I wasn't killed but I was injured severely enough - and that has made me ever aware of everything around me but that still doesn't help when you have people who don't use their indicators correctly (if at all) - that's inconsiderate. I indicate my every intention, even if I am reversing out of a parking bay - that's considerate, right? Why people don't use their indicators correctly is beyond me..
Or how to treat a four way stop, even a traffic circle - the list is endless, really.
I admit that my driving skills may lack in certain areas but I consciously attempt to drive the best I can every time I climb behind the wheel of my car - not only for myself, or if I have a passenger or two but for all people I encounter on the road; these include fellow drivers, their passengers and pedestrians too.
Can you say the same? If not, we run the risk of even more tragedies like this taking place on our roads.
Until next time,
CD single cover.
This week's #tbt is the duet 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough' from 2007, featuring two of my favourite rock bands; Manic Street Preachers and The Cardigans. Apart from it being a really cool song, it also is a random collaboration between the Welsh band and lead singer from the Swedish outfit. I was toying with what to post today, whilst driving with my music randomly playing, when this song started. I was - ah, I really like this song.
Turns out the song's title comes from the last line of a suicide note left by the friend of someone close to the band - creativity, it seems, not only comes from places of light but from those darker places too.
'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough'
Your love alone is not enough, not enough, not enough
When times get tough, they get tough, they get tough, they get tough
Trade all your heroes in for ghosts, in for ghosts, in for ghosts
They're always the ones that love you most, love you most, love you most
Your love alone is not enough, not enough, not enough
It's what you felt, it's what you said, what you said, what you said
You said the sky would fall on you, fall on you, fall on you
Through all the pain your eyes stayed blue, they stayed blue, baby blue
But your love alone won't save the world
You knew the secret of the universe
Despite it all you made it worse
It left you lonely, it left you cursed
You stole the sun straight from my heart, from my heart, from my heart
With no excuses just fell apart, fell apart, fell apart
No, you won't make a mess of me, mess of me, mess of me
For you're as blind as a man can be, man can be, man can be
I could have seen for miles and miles
I could have made you feel alive
I could have placed us in exile
I could have written all your lines
I could have shown you(I could have shown you) how to cry
Your love alone is not enough, your love alone is not enough
I could have shown you
I showed you how to cry
Your love alone is not enough
Your love alone
Until next time,
Are you one of those people who think knowing your blood type is only important in the event of a transfusion?If so, perhaps you should rethink that as research indicates that your blood type can be a a key genetic factor that influences many areas of one's health and well-being.
When it comes to following a diet - and by that I mean how and what you eat - rather than following a set of prescribed rules a la Atkins, Banting, any random 'soup diet' (as examples) - to maintain and / or lose weight. I am of the thought that a little bit of everything, in moderation, will probably do you no harm; combined with some form of exercise that suits your lifestyle, then you're winning in my books.
I like to think I am doing my best in trying to put healthy, home prepared and cooked meals on the table for myself and Chris at the end of each day - there are and will always be a sneaky takeout ordered - but that's an exception, not a rule. I also have a soft spot for woolies chuckles and digestive biscuits. Chris loves his wine gums and potato chips. So invariably these, in some form or another, will always be in the house but I won't deprive ourselves of our little indulgences - what's the point of exercising and eating as healthily as is possible if you can't treat yourself? It makes no sense to me but then again that's just me.
I know I may sound like a stuck record but I am and will always be a strong proponent for trying to exercise on a regular basis - you can follow the strictest diet but if you're not burning more calories than you're consuming - you're never going to lose weight (if that's your goal). Mine is to maintain my weight and yes, I would never have had to lose the - roughly - 35kg's that I put on over the 2 1/2 years after the accident if I had not been in a self-induced funk and pity party of sorts; but for the almost 3 years since I started my first walking session I can proudly say I have managed to keep it at bay. I am certainly not as toned as I used to be, but I will never be that person again, nor do I want to be. I am as happy as I can possible be - right now.
I found walking enjoyable and eventually I returned to yoga. My yoga journey started almost 10 years back - yes, there was an almost 4 year gap in the centre where I didn't practice it - but the accident left my collar bone rather damaged and after the weight gain that followed, I felt really insecure about whether or not I could do it again. Also, if my arm could handle it without hurting myself. I have become so self-aware of my ever recovering injury and how it effects my day-to-day life. At my peak, prior to the accident, I was super toned and had rather good core strength. I had finally found a form of exercise that I loved and that felt right for me. At the time most people were like, 'yoga as exercise? that's so out there, how esoteric of you, that's so new-age, how can bending and stretching - coupled with measured breath - be considered an exercise'? It had me thinking.
I digress though.
Me, doing the hands to feet pose back in the day!
Whilst I was injured and indulging myself, the Atkins and Banting diets started gaining traction and it seems everyone and their dog is either following one or the other. Truth be told, I can't be bothered to weigh out this amount for veg, that amount for protein, etc. I won't lie, and fully admit that I haven't delved too much into the respective theories behind each diet. In the interests of enquiry, I have done some light research - nothing annoys me more than someone who has an opinion on a topic they haven't even read up on - and the one thing I have noticed though is that they tend to focus only on what you eat and how it affects you, as opposed to taking a holistic approach to it. I like looking at things as a whole, instead of in isolation.
I don't believe a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition can work.
Over the last year or so I have started developing an interest in the living - note: not just eating - according to your blood type theory - again, it's just a theoretical approach to a certain lifestyle. I am not saying the one is better than the other - my choice does not necessarily suit yours, but what I do like about living according to your blood type is that it is centred around you as a person and not just around watching what you eat as most other diets do.
Here are a few interesting facts that I have come to learn.
Your blood type may predict your susceptibility for certain diseases.
Various research has indicated that individuals of certain blood types may be at higher risk for certain diseases; studies have found that people with blood type O may have a lower risk for heart disease but have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. People who are blood type A may have a higher risk of microbial infections and those with blood types AB and B may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Your blood type may indicate how you react to stress.
People with blood type A naturally have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their bodies and produce even more in response to stressful situations. Whilst people with blood type O have a 'fight or flight' reaction to stress - which in turn results in them overproducing adrenaline - which then extends their recovery period from said stress as it is more difficult to clear the extra adrenaline coursing through their bodies.
Your blood type antigens (molecules capable of inducing an immune response) are not just in your blood.
They happen to be everywhere in your body - particularly in the surfaces that interact with the environment - think of your digestive tract, your nasal passages and lungs, not to forget your mouth through to your intestines. These blood type antigens are everywhere and they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. As an example, the lectins (a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes) in certain foods adheres to your blood type antigen and can cause your blood to agglutinate (just a fancy word to say that your blood cells clump together) which can result in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues and skin problems - to name a few.
Gut bacteria is related to blood type.
People with different blood types have different gut bacteria and this originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over the other. As an example, in blood type A individuals the micro-organisms developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently than people with blood type O, who tend to store carbs as fat.
I could go on for a while describing everything - but this isn't a dissertation, it's merely an introduction - below is a quick summary of the different blood types and what best suits them.
Type O: People with type O blood benefit best with intense physical exercise - ideally aerobics, running and contact sports - and on a diet of animal protein. They don't do so well on dairy products and grains, with their leading weight gain factor being the gluten found in wheat products.
Type A: People with type A blood are more naturally suited to a vegetarian diet and tend to be predisposed to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They also derive significant benefits from calming, centering exercise such as yoga.
Type B: People with type B blood have a generally robust immune and a tolerant digestive system and tend to resist most of the severe chronic illnesses - or, at the very least, survive them better than the other blood types. They fair best with moderate physical exercise requiring mental balance, namely: hiking, cycling, tennis and swimming.
Type AB: People with type AB blood - the most recent blood group in terms of evolution - is the most biologically complex. People in this group fair best a with combination of exercise and dietary habits taken from blood types A and B.
I am type A and Chris is type O, so on paper we are on the opposite ends of the dietary and exercise model for living according to your blood type. I'm suited to a vegetarian diet whilst Chris can handle animal protein better than I can; with exercise I'm more suited to yoga and walking whilst Chris benefits more from a plan that includes physical activities like running. We try and meet someplace in the middle; some meals may be more veggie packed than others and we team up to do our jogging at Parkrun every Saturday and try walking with the hounds at least twice a week - I slot my yoga in and around this schedule.
That's the thing, for us as a couple, it's not about religiously following a diet it's about working one around us - as individuals - to suit our needs and that works for us.
In closing, and totally off topic: I achieved my personal best time at Parkrun this past Saturday, it took me 24min 53sec to complete the 5km course! Well done me!
Until next time,
We find ourselves in 2000 this week; the year that my dearest Chris received his Diploma in Financial Planning at University of the Free State.
Chris, circa 2000.
Until next time,
Don, this wedding card really brought a smile to my face!
Just in case you're not friends with Chris on Facebook and missed his announcement, we secretly made our union official on Thursday,
28 April 2016!
When people ask me and / or Chris how long we've been together - we tend to usually answer by however many Christmas's we've spent together - this year's upcoming one will be our seventh. It's not because we starting dating around that particular festive period, it's just easier to remember the years like that - the first Christmas was spent road-tripping from Durban to Oudtshoorn; the second was spent in the UK; the third was hosting Chris' folks and some friends of ours for a lunch; the fourth we moved to Johannesburg; the fifth one we brought Mom out from the UK and the sixth was our first one back in Durban. Simple, logical reasoning behind our train of thought. After about the second year of dating, we started having to dodge the 'are you two thinking of getting married yet?' question. We managed to dodge that particular question for a whole fours years and that's where Cape Town and it's surrounds comes into play.
Cape Town holds a special place in both our hearts, We spent our first (of a few) holiday there, a very dear friend to the both of us - Shaun - calls it home, we've seen if from the sky in a helicopter and Chris proposed to me in Muizenberg.
It was late September 2014 when Chris had to attend a conference that lasted a few days in Cape Town, ending on a Friday - the company he used to work for was sponsoring some tickets to a SA vs Australia rugby match at Newlands Stadium that following Saturday - so he had planned to return the Monday following. I wasn't too fussed, he often goes away for a day or two maybe three for work - but just before he was meant to leave he invited me down, from the Friday for the weekend. To put this into perspective, I am not the greatest flyer and if a destination can't be driven to in a day, then I very reluctantly board a plane. As it was only for the weekend, it made no sense to drive the Johannesburg - Cape Town route, so I thought about it and agreed. I'm so glad that I did! Chris used the excuse of us both being able to watch the SA vs Australia rugby game in person - he seemed really keen, so I thought why not? I could watch a rugby game at Newlands Stadium, right?
I still remember the day clearly in my mind - I left a sunny, Spring Johannesburg Friday morning only to arrive in a windy, miserable Cape Town afternoon - Chris collected me from the airport and we set off for lunch in Muizenberg (I love that little hamlet or is it a suburb?). We hadn't booked anywhere, we just arrived and had a look-see. It was grey and overcast and windy as can only be expected along that part of the coast. We stumbled into the cutest looking place we could find, Knead Bakery - Chris would later go on to tell people that he started off his asking me by saying he 'kneaded' me in his life... how sweet! - just to set the scene: owing to the weather all the stacking, folding doors were closed and the restaurant was packed, the noise of a busy feeding trough surrounded us and to top it all off, we were seated at a table right in the centre of things - safe to say I didn't suspect a thing. By that stage we had already been together for almost four years, so marriage, let alone an engagement was the last thing on my mind.
Chris looked at me and started off by saying how much he needed me in his life, how good I had been for him as a person and that he never wanted to lose me - I was now thinking, hmmm where's this going - and then he looked me in the eyes and and asked quietly, 'will you marry me?'. I said yes without hesitation, in retrospect I should've made him sweat it out for a minute or two longer but oh well! I then looked around and through all the chaos that comes with a busy seaside restaurant on a chilly day - we quietly had a life changing moment occur - in and amongst all the noise around us. It was very precious and I shall always remember it.
Chris has never been one to wear jewellery - apart from his watch and on the odd occasion the earrings for both his ears - but when he asked if we could go buy him a ring to wear, to show everyone that he was taken, my heart melted. Little did I know I would have to wait another 15 months for my engagement ring but in the end, all things good come to those who wait.
It was a very busy 19 month engagement, we bought two houses - in two very different cities - we bought a business and relocated to another city. I repeat, it has been very, very busy.
So when we decided to draw up our will a short while back - we took a long, hard look at everything - at this stage in our lives, we have three adorable godchildren (plus one adopted godchild) and a nephew that we wanted to include as beneficiaries of our estate - not to mention nominating a caregiver to the hounds, should something happen to the both of us but the one thing that kept holding us back on completing it was whether or not we should get married first, as opposed to having the will drawn up only to have to amend it again once we were married. We tossed and turned between both ideas but being ever the pragmatists that we are, logic won out at the end of the day.
I'm not saying that we didn't want to have a big ceremony and celebrate with friends and family afterwards but we've been so focused on the business and making a life for ourselves that when we did indeed decide to tie the knot it just didn't make sense for us to go the traditional route, in a way we're fiercely private individuals - says I as I type a blog that chronicles mine and by default Chris' life too! - and this may come as a surprise but we both don't like being the centre of attention. So it was a win-win situation for us.
We decided to elope instead - the only arrangements we needed to make was booking accommodation for us and Margot (our best woman) and sorting out flight arrangements to get her to and from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg. Donovan (our best man) lives there and Iain, another good friend (who also happens to be a Marriage Officer) did the honours - under a tree in his garden, with two of our dearest friends as witnesses - on a gorgeous, sunny, autumn Johannesburg late-afternoon. The rest of our time in Johannesburg was spent largely unplanned. We took in a lot of sights and kept everything super casual - eliminating any stress that is normally associated with weddings.
Selfie at The Wilds Nature Reserve mere hours before tying the knot!
At the end of the day getting married, or should I say how you want to get married, is entirely up to you as a couple - there is no right or wrong way to do it - no opinion other than yours and your partner counts in this regard. Did we cop out and go the easy route? No, not at all. Did we do what we wanted to do on our day, for sure. Did we keep it a secret after the fact, no we did not. Would we do it all over again exactly the same, no doubt in my mind.
April is now forever cemented as the most important month on our calendar - we celebrate not only our marriage but also both our birthdays - but from now on as Hurford-Douglas.
Until next time,