The last couple of years have seen me attempting - and it's a decision I had to make consciously - to really be there for people. Sadly, I'm not talking about the ever-increasing number of homeless, begging people who seem to be swarming every intersection and stop street at the moment - even though my heart goes out to those poor souls, there's not much I (as one person) or we (as a couple) can do to make their lives better, apart from making donations to The Salvation Army in the hopes that at least a few people will benefit from our small donations.
I have come to realise that I can't be there for people that I don't know, especially if I'm not able to make myself available to the dear, sweet souls I interact with on a fairly regular basis.
Unlike Chris, who happens to be blessed with this ability to give of his time - be it an ear to listen, business advice - you name it; he will always try his best to be there and be present. Unfortunately, there have been times when a few people have taken advantage of this and Chris has had to learn when and when not to be there for others - it's sort of ironic in that sense - Chris having to learn to be more selective in his giving nature, whilst I'm having to learn to be more giving of myself. It's like we're simultaneously working - though, as individuals - towards that oh-so-fine middle ground between learning when to say no and when to say yes. We obviously aren't at the same place, yet, but it's comforting to know that I am not alone in having to realign my inner self and that my loving hubby (side note: I can't believe we've been married 6 months already!) are on the same - in an alternate universe sort of way - journey. It would be very easy for me to romanticise it and say that we have brought these qualities out in each other, who knows, perhaps we have. It's certainly not as easy as flipping a switch on and off. It takes effort and understanding - from the both of us - especially when one has their foot on the accelerator pedal and the other has their foot pushing as hard as possible on the brakes!
But I digress, back to the subject at hand.
I am more guarded; I have always had to be - thinking of it now - perhaps it has something to do with my tumultuous family life growing up (which I can't change and which I really wouldn't want to truth be told - it's a part of me, it defines me) I think it's given me a better, whole-view of situations - without my past, I wouldn't have everything I have now - in the form of Chris, our dogs, our life together - but there is certainly an element of me keeping people at arm's length; not sharing my time, not letting people see the best of who I can be. Why it took me over 30 years to realise that I am indeed able to contribute, have my voice heard - without fear - and be of meaningful service to my - albeit - very small social circle but baby steps, right?
I suppose in order to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, I indeed have to walk through the tunnel!
In order to grow - in my opinion - you have to put yourself into situations that force you to climb out of your comfort zone, no matter how trivial it may seem to you.
The last three weeks I have spent Monday through to Thursday evening's staying at Aunty Helen's place whilst her son is overseas with his daughter, visiting her maternal family. She politely asked a few months back if I'd mind staying over at hers; I said yes, the thought of her staying alone wasn't really an option but it's something I always do; I agree to - fill in the blank - and when it comes to showing up, I start questioning whether I can or cannot do it and sometimes I bail. This time I didn't, I couldn't. There was no way I could break my word to Aunty Helen - especially after the emotional and traumatic months the first half of this year have brought with it.
It only then dawned on me - two weeks into me staying over at Aunty Helen's - how used to a certain routine both Chris and myself had become accustomed to. Evenings spent with me making dinner and us debriefing each other on our day's news, etc. Little did I know how much we would actually miss each other whilst I was away - even though we saw each other during the day! How I worried if he was eating properly and just general stuff like, 'should I have agreed to stay over? Did I make the right decision?'.
Then last week Friday evening - whilst I was making supper - Chris arrived home with a bouquet of flowers; a huge smile on his face and when he told me how much he loved me and how glad he was that I was home for the weekend. I knew then, with that small gesture of flowers, that my small gesture of agreeing to stay over at Aunty Helen's place meant just as much to her as Chris' flowers meant to me.
The penny dropped! It indeed is the small gestures that count the most.
I may not always get it right but I am certainly heading in the correct direction and that's the important lesson I have learnt from these past three weeks; it will certainly act as a reminder the next time I am considering bailing out on whatever situation I may find myself in that requires me having to climb out of my comfort zone - that I actually can do it. That I indeed can be present and show up for those whom I love and respect.
The bouquet that inspired this blog, in full bloom!
Until next time,
Chris and I officially became members of the Durban & Coast SPCA in July and with that attended our first AGM - it's my intention to start doing more volunteer work within the organisation. There were also many a warm Winter's afternoon spent relaxing in the Durban Botanical Garden, having a good laugh with friends and sneakily sipping on the odd glass of Prosecco!
July brought with it evening's that were chilly, hence the visit to our local gas refill shop.
A sunny afternoon sky as seen from the patio of Blue Zoo Restaurant at Mitchell Park.
A light lunch was had with two sweet friends.
I'm not often in front of the camera but when I am, it's usually Chris sneakily taking photo's whilst I'm busy chatting away and not looking - he always seems to take such candid shots - until I notice what he's doing, then the quality of the photos seem to take a dive, as can be seen below!
If I had to choose a single place that makes Durban, Durban for me it has to be it's botanical garden - it costs nothing to enter and I don't think I've ever walked through the front gates and not seen people from all walks of life chilling and taking in the abundant views of the different flora and bird species from the comfort of a blanket spread out on one of the manicured lawns. Over the weekends there are usually a few different bridal parties having their photos taken in and amongst families, friends and couples enjoying the freedom that this green lung offers. Coupled with the fact that the garden has been impeccably maintained and with the added comfort of knowing that there are friendly guards patrolling - you know you're safe and that counts too. Every few weeks, the venue hosts a Music by the Lake concert - our tickets are already booked and paid for the upcoming Mi Casa concert - can't wait!
Chinese from our local Maan Hing Restaurant for supper!
The sky obviously drew my attention in July, as I took various photos whilst out and about. These two photos were taken on a Friday afternoon, spending some time with a friend before her return to Dubai; the afternoon was spent listening to her reading out loud from one of the 50 Shades of Grey volumes, the both of us critiquing where necessary and people watching. We saw a good few people - walking in groups of two - eyes glued to their phones, gathering Pokemon tokens (is that correct, are they tokens?). Definitely not how I'd like to spend my time but each to their own.
Aunty Helen and I took a couple of red roses and placed them by Uncle Lenn's side. We sat on the grass adjacent
and chatted about him for a short while; nothing morbid, just a few sweet words of love and adoration. A friend of ours lost her husband to cancer during July and Chris graciously accepted her request to be a pallbearer at his funeral. I can't remember the words verbatim that the minster said during his sermon but he something along the lines that a broken heart is our price to pay for loving someone and we should wear it proudly and to accept that the pining will never totally disappear and we should learn to live with it; that, that grief is our way of knowing we truly loved someone. Those words stuck with me.
We attended the Durban Pride 2016 after party - pity it was a wet and cold evening but luckily we were in good company - safe to say, laughs and a good time was had by all. I have to admit that I wouldn't ordinarily attend a party like this but I felt compelled to show my support, especially in the wake of all those party-goers who were tragically gunned down the month before at a gay club in Orlando. Personally, for me, it was my small way of saying that I am not afraid to go out, that homophobia should not exist in this day and age. According to Chelsea Handler, 1 out of 50 people are born Gay yet the LGBTQ community still has to contend with blatant discrimination and all for what? Being who you are? It makes no sense to me. The sad thing is that half the atrocities committed against the community are done by people who haven't been able to accept that they are gay, which all comes down to acceptance and love (or lack thereof) from their close circle of family and friends.
At the carwash!
It goes without saying that if one leaves Justin in a room on his own, he'll make his way from the hound's bed to not only on the couch but under a couch blanky too!
So that's July all summed up in a few photos - now for August!
Until next time,
Spring is knocking at our front door and with that, I thought it's time to come out of my Winter hibernation and return to the online world! I was thinking what would be the best way for everyone to catch up on what I (and to a certain extent Chris) have been getting up to these past few months. Why not share a few snapshots?!
On the topic of dogs, our old man, Juzzie, gave us a bit of a health scare that lasted from June through July.
We noticed that Justin was battling to eat his food - he's never battled to eat his food! We took him to our Vet who first advised us that he may have an infection of the gums, so round one was a course of antibiotics - which seemed to help at first but once the course was finished, the problem persisted. So back to the Vet we went, this time we were advised that he'd need to be booked in for a teeth cleaning session (which involved a general anaesthetic) - at this stage we were trying to eliminate any potential causes. So an overnight stay at the Vet and another course of meds ensued. He was okay for a few days before the symptoms returned.; by this stage, I was starting to worry as Justin has always been a healthy and happy dog - back to the Vet we went. After a thorough examination, he was finally diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disorder, which essentially means that where certain nerve endings connect with the next set of nerves, the connections are breaking down which in turn starts causing pain - in his case, it's in his jaw - thus preventing him from drinking and eating with content. If he was 10 years younger, we could have biopsied to find out what's causing it but because he's pushing 14 years old, our Vet recommended that there's not much we can do other than to keep him as comfortable as possible - which we are now doing with a daily dose of anti-inflammatory meds. He will be on the meds for the rest of his life.
Mia turned a whole 2 years old this month and Chris and I gave her (well, her dad Andre) a padded toilet trainer seat and a step up to help him when it comes to potty training her. Yes, it wasn't the most exciting gift to give but practical nonetheless!
When we moved into our house, some globes needed to be replaced. We were at PnP Hyper and found these globes that would stay on should there be an electricity cut. At just over R100 a globe we cringed but bought three for the kitchen area. As luck would have it, January through May we didn't have any power outages but low and behold, one evening in June the lights went out and boom!, our fancy globes kicked in and we had light in the kitchen. Mental note to self: buy some more for the rest of the house. Well worth the investment.
Aunty Helen and I took Candy for her annual check-up at the Vet. She can be seen chilling on our doggy seat cover on the back seat of Chris' Ford Ranger.
During the month I made two Polenta dishes - having never made anything with Polenta, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was - hence the reason I made two variations during the course of the month! It was also the perfect excuse to use the Le Creuset ovenproof dish that Donovan gave as a wedding present to us.
I have no idea what 'PHENYLALANINE' is but Sprite Zero obviously felt it needed a little asterix - I'm too afraid to google what it is...
Saturday afternoon at the Durban Botanical Garden with friends!
There is always time for a cappuccino!
June also marks the beginning of us moving away from eating any red meat and pork - so it's seafood, chicken, ostrich and vegetarian meals from here on out. Sadly, no more perfectly grilled rib-eye steaks!
Another Nutbrown product to add to my vintage kitchenware collection.
So that's June all summed up in a few photos - now for July!
Until next time,
Our gorgeous rental in Morningside, Durban has been a fantastic place to live - bar the odd noisy evening emanating from the hub that is Florida Road - which is to be expected from living in the centre of things.
She's a well proportioned home, consisting of 4 1/2 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a lovely upstairs balcony leading off the master bedroom and my creative, office space - upper right hand side in the photo - but she's just too big for the two of us and the hounds. There, unfortunately, wasn't any other suitable options for us at the time, so we have been very creative in decorating the rooms - two offices, a guest bedroom, a library, etc..
Don't get me wrong, Morningside is so central to everything; the office is a short 2Km drive away, the Durban-Folks are about a Km away - in fact, everything is mostly a walk away from us - which has been fun.
We've even managed to walk the hounds down to the beachfront, we just follow along Argyle Road, over the Umgeni Road intersection and boom! at the beach. One of the funniest moments was us walking the hounds past the Stables along NMR Avenue and us passing a paddock with about 10 or so horses grazing in it and having them all gravitate towards the fence, following us along as we passed by - just watching and following us. It was so random, having these beautiful animals curiously following us go by.
I have even started walking by myself again and have been doing so for about the last 6 weeks - something I would never have done in Johannesburg, after the attack anyhow - so am very pleased to see that my tan is coming along nicely, I even have my various routes all planned out (I use a pedometer, which captures the amount of steps one takes and I try to do 10 000 aerobic steps, which is essentially non-stop steps as opposed to stop start - I try as much as is possible to jog a bit too but it invariably turns into a combination of the both, which I fondly call 'wogging' - jog for the duration of one song, walk for two songs, etc. All depending on how I feel and also depending on the heat - its been super hot down here along the East Coast!
We even had to have curtains made for the lounge and dining area - our curtain drop is a massive 3,2m - which is crazy, we have never had curtains made, let alone having them the size of theatre proportions! But if we look after them, they should last us 20 or so years and at what they cost to make, they better!
It's no secret that I found this particular move very traumatic to my person - up until recently (i.e. being prescribed sleeping pills) I was on a daily basis getting up anytime from 02:00am onwards - which was starting to wear me down - as would anyone who was totally sleep deprived - but we soldier on! We've now been here almost a whole four months and I don't regret our decision to leave Johannesburg. In fact, my recent trip up there confirmed this - I naively thought I'd arrive there and immediately miss all that we had become used to - apart from Super Sconto (my go-to Italian delicatessen and pantry stock up shop - which I shall always go to when up there to stock up on pasta, chick peas, anything Mediterranean) which Durban unfortunately doesn't have - and taking a drive by our rental - I miss nothing! If anything, I had totally forgotten about the horrendous traffic, traffic lights out at every second or third intersection and the constant smell of exhaust fumes (I know it's weird but the smell of those fumes drove me mad! Aircon was always on.) Amazing what one can forget in four short months.
Our little Johannesburg home
All stocked up whilst sipping on a cappuccino in the canteen above the store - Note some was for my Durban Mom
Dawn and myself went there last year on my Birthday for a quick something something to eat and drink
Dawn - my true Italian friend - we ate a lot that day!
Later that day at Tashas with Dawn again, the restaurant where Oscar infamously fired a bullet whilst it was packed with diners!
Chris' father asked me to join both him and Chris in growing a moustache for Movember - along with a small donation to a cancer research organisation - so... both Chris and myself are 23 days into Movember, along with Totes - so look out for a mo' photo coming soon to a blog post near you!
I have added a comfort food recipe, some vintage finds and a collection of photos of Chris under my Media page - just because I can! - ok, off for my daily walk soon, then some gardening and then some baking - shall be working on our company accounts later in the week, so getting some things out the way early on in the week.
Again, really, nothing comes close to living on the East Coast!
Until next time,