Christiaan Conradie – no one does old ladies like you!!

The Bellville Library has an art exhibit area, and I pop in there from time to time and take a walk around.

The gallery often has interesting work, and artists I might never see, just because our paths don’t cross.  It is free, so if you are in the area, stop by.

Today I saw this piece by Christiaan Conradie and if I had a cheque book I would have written out a cheque right there.

(And the cheque would have bounced, and the Sherriff of the court would arrive to repossess my furniture as I hid in the wendy house with this painting, because no one is going to take this away from me … my precious)

I did not take the picture of the picture featured below – I “borrowed” it off the website – so it unfortunately does not really give you a clear idea of how fantastic this artist’s work is.  I plan to go and look again on Thursday.  Yes I can visit a piece of art if I like, I am grown up like that.

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I got home today and googled Christiaan Conradie, and oh my word, how brilliant is his work?  I love the piece I saw today.  Do you think I could buy it, put it on my wall and when Kennith goes: “What the fuck is that?”

I can just go: “What, that ….. I’ve had that for ages …. you’ve just never noticed…” and then I can pick a fight with him about how he never notices anything I do, and so the fight can begin.

Anything to draw attention away from the painting on the wall.

Here are some examples of his work:-

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I really am beside myself with his work.

Trying to figure out the cost of the painting I saw today, divide it by 54 months and find out if he has a buy-now-and-keep-and-pay-me-with-really-small-installment plan, and really where would I put it just so I could sit and just stare at it all day.

More on this artist.

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I spent Sunday with Tertia Albertyn …

On Sunday morning I finished “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver – what an incredible book.

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I am stealing a review from Amazon, which is exactly as the book is:

I read Kingsolver’s earlier “Pigs in Heaven” and “Bean Trees.” I picked up “The Poisonwood Bible” on impulse to read while on vacation. Once I started reading it, I found it hard to put down.

I have never had much interest in African history, but this book made me want to find out more. Her characters, as in her earlier books, are very well realized and fascinating.

The story begins with the arrival in the Belgian Congo of Nathan Price, fire and brimstone Baptist preacher, and his reluctant family. The family’s story is told by Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, and their five {Reluctant Mom – error here, there are four daughters, unless I am missing something} daughters – shallow teen-age Rachel, twins Leah and Adah, and five-year-old Ruth May.

The voices of the characters are authentic and believable.

Other reviewers are correct in their assessment that this is, in a sense, two books. The first is about Nathan’s clumsy and ill-advised attempts to fit Africa to his fundamentalist beliefs, and the family’s attempts to fit their lives to Africa. The second is about the way a family tragedy marks its survivors and the different ways events in Africa mark them as well. I don’t agree that Kingsolver should have “stopped writing” at the end of the first part.

I was absolutely spellbound by the way the voices changed and the way they stayed the same from the first to the last of the book.

One believes in the characters, they change and grow as the book progresses. Other reviewers found Rachel grating, but I think that was the point. Her shallowness brought home the points that Kingsolver was making even more effectively than the earnest preaching by Leah. I got the sense that in her own way, Rachel understood the events perfectly well, but that she did not care.

I felt very complete when I finished the book. It was a satisfying experience

Source:  Amazon reviewer.

Finished the book, took a look around and thought, I really need to read another book.  So Close by Tertia Albertyn was lying on my study table.  I picked it up, thought, okay, I will give this a gander.

And that was where I spent my Sunday.  I started at about 09h30 and finished it at about 16h30.  There was the usual shopping, kids, making lunch, trying to stop the kids arguing about whose turn it was to change the channel — all the normal Sunday stuff in between.

I am not sure why I have not read this book earlier.

I was captivated/engrossed/sucked in/ignored my children totally from page one.

I have never met Tertia, but I felt like I was sitting next to her, and her mom, through each scan.

The book made me cry, makes me laugh, made me smile through the snot in certain places.  It made me hold my children a bit closer (when I remembered they were there), made me shake my head and wonder how infertiles manage to survive to face another day.

I did not like the book.  I loved the book.

It is an easy read, it all feels familiar – strangely so.  It was like I was sitting with a girlfriend and having a long lunch, with lots of wine and she was telling me her story.

Tertia writes in such a genuine way, you do not feel like she is trying tooo hard, or that she is so hopelessly painful that you prefer not to look.

Her story is incredible.  Her story is human.  Her story is pain and pain, and hope, and then pain, and repeat as many times as necessary.

I cried for Hannah.  I sobbed for Luke.  I tjanked for Ben.

Would I recommend the book to you to read?  Yes, most definitely.  Tertia brings with her an energy, a humour, and a spirit that you cannot but admire.

I am in awe of her. I am in deep adoration of someone who can survive that much, and still has the energy to get out of bed.

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I have a slightly used version of the book.  Would you like to read it?  Let me know, and I will send my copy to you.

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Sisterhood of the Breadbin?

{yes this is a sponsored blog post, but not the bad kind, so read further – there is stuff to win at the end, and it does not require you to LIKE several things and repost or retweet or get annoying Facebook TimeLine updates from a product you really do not give a hoot about}

Sasko have approached me with a wonderful hamper they said I can give away.

I can just give it away.

I don’t have to get you to go and like a page, then go and like another page, and then re-post it on your tweet account or what ever the hop-skip-and-three-jumps that is involved with the usual give aways.

Really there is none of that malarkey over here in Reluctant Mom Land.

The kind (and generous) folks at SASKO have a hamper which includes: Carroll Boyes bread bin and Sasko branded products valued at R2000.00 – let me write that out for you in big people’s words two thousand rand!

Shit balls, if I did not write this blog, I would so enter. Like right now.

If Kennith entered and he won, would anyone judge me differently?

The team at SASKO said I just have to tell you about a sandwich.  For Mother’s Day.

Seriously it is a sandwich – there is little in the way of hidden messages here or covert sneaky advertising, other than the suggestion to buy a loaf of their bread so you can use two slices — but in their defense it is really good bread – the Honey and Oats loaf – love it, my favourite bread as a matter of fact – Pick ‘n Pay stocks it.

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Make Mom a Special Mother’s Day Tea with Sasko

 Mother’s Day is the perfect time to thank your mom for everything that she does for you. Moms are there from the beginning; encouraging,  nurturing and guiding every step of the way.

The team at Sasko has created a delicious, light and suitably feminine Mother’s Day sandwich recipe that you can prepare for your mom this Mother’s Day. Invite your mom around for tea, get out the tea set, prepare the sandwiches and present lovingly with a note and a bunch of fresh flowers to really make her day.

The delightful recipe is ideal for your kids to make on Mother’s Day as well.  Just remember to get dad to assist in the kitchen!  And to ensure that in no way are you involved in the cleaning up!!

Camembert, Apple and Watercress:  Mother’s Day Delight Sandwich

 Ingredients: (makes two sandwiches)

4 slices Sasko Honey and Oats Bread {Reluctant Mom – really not punting this, but I buy this bread when ever I see it – it is delicious, and yummy and is great with big chunks of fresh avocado, a bit of coriander, salt and black pepper}

3 tbsp mayonnaise

50g walnuts/mixed nuts

125g camembert

1 handful of watercress

1 granny smith apple

Black pepper

Olive oil

Method:

Crush the nuts in a pestle and mortar or blitz in a food processor and mix with the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt

Toast the slices of bread

Spread a little of the nut mayonnaise on each slice

Cut slices of camembert and place on two of the slice of bread

Cut the apple into round slices, take out the seeds and layer a few rounds over the cheese

Grind over a black pepper and top with watercress

Drizzle over a little olive oil over the watercress and cover with the remaining toasts

So that is it.

I have a SASKO hamper, a kick arse bread-bin and I want to give it away.

Instead of you telling me to pick you. I’d like you to nominate someone.

Your person.  Your go to person.  Your chick with attitude who will use a bread bin.  Your mom.

Someone who is a mom, someone who lives next to a mom, someone who has a mom, someone who can spell MOM is fine as well.

Just someone who you think could really do with receiving a cool hamper and has bread to put in the new shiny bread bin and will make then happy (you will need access to their address, so you cannot nominate Robert Downey Junior  and then think you can saunter over there with your bread bin as a gift ….. come now people, let’s just keep this clean and in an organised fashion — though I do think arriving with a bread bin and a few loaves of bread would be a very clever and ingenious method of getting past Robert’s security detail)

SASKO in no way supports or approves any action which may result in stalking Robert Downey Junior with a breadbin.  Carrol Boyes is still a little on the fence a bit, but I do think they quite like the idea.

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If you feel you really are the one who needs this hamper, then get your mate to log on and nominate  you.

Just leave a comment on this post with a nomination.  

Nominate someone.  Nominate yourself.  Nominate someone else.  Nominate me (just throwing it in there to give you a few options)

Entries/Comments/Nominations close on 6 May 2013 – I would like to say at 17h00, but it really is as soon as I can get to my PC and disable comments, but it will be around 17h00 and then the winner is announced on 8 May 2013.  

Right now I have no criteria, it might be random, it might be the best suggestion.  It might be the person who offers something that makes me smile – let’s play this loosey goosey –  and tah-dah we send you/your person a hamper.

Actually I think I prefer this second image of Robert Downey Junior … I am not sure how this turned into a post about Robert, but he is making me feel all warm in my secret places.

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ANIMAL CIRCUSES …. don’t be part of the show ….

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There was a recently article on Carte Blanche which drew attention to the abuse of elephants at circuses.

The footage was shot at the Brian Boswell Circus.  I may be referring to the Brian Boswell’s Circus by name, but all circuses that keep wild animals are inherently cruel.

Even if not beaten into submission, as is the case in MANY circuses, they do not deserve to be caged up and carried across the country as performers!  The conditions are less than ideal, and at some point that animal is going refuse to perform, or be unable to perform and then what?

I really hate animals in the circus.  I really do.

I do think that as long as a market exists for circuses that feature animals, then tickets will continue to be sold, and these sort of circuses will continue to exist.

The answer is simple in terms of how to protest this sort of thing.

Refuse to buy tickets.  If you are given tickets, do not go.

Nothing convinces circus owners that an idea is not working more than no income and empty seats.

Speak to your child about why animals in a circus are not what you support, and why it is cruel.  Ask your child’s school or class to support a project about educating the children as to why circuses with people are good, but circuses with animals are not.

{The natural next question is, where will all the animals go who are in circuses once they are out of work?}

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There is a really active Facebook Page happening at the moment.  Interested, check it out HERE!

The deep question that is ….

My brother posted this question on Facebook earlier today.

It is one of  those things that I have struggled with, and in some instances I have stood on top of the molehill and screamed “I am the King of the World” and in many cases I have been driven over by the proverbial 18-wheeler.

I spent much of today trying to write a post in answer to this question, but I got a bit stuck in my own stuff.

As you do.  Or as I do.

Maybe you know the answer – or can put some light on that path where we often find we stumble:

Question: When do you get to a point where you stop paying for the mistakes you’ve made in the past? Is that the point where you forgive yourself or when you stop seeking forgiveness from others?

 

Profound much?  My head is starting to hurt from the bigness of it all.

Blogging Sisterhood of the Travelling Book

Because every sisterhood needs an image.

Feel free to use it.  Feel free not to use it.

Pass books on, it’s a great way to get us talking about books which are not 50 Shades of Grey.

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The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book ….

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I have agonised over this — really I have.

I am a people pleaser at heart, though I do come across as a total douché bag and then you wonder: “really a people pleaser, really?”

But I do.

I was earnestly contemplating how I would go out and buy 5 books and send them all out.

I really think that it is unfair to subject only one person to the happiness that is Jenny Lawson.  Really.  This is the kind of happiness that makes you fart you laugh so hard.

Unfortunately Jenny (the bloggess) has totally fkd it up for the rest of us.  Seriously if you are a blogger, and thinking about writing a book, how in gds green earth do you even start when you are faced with the book that is “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” ? As much joy as the +331 pages brought me, it also saddened me to know that Jenny has made it impossible for mediocre bloggers to even think about putting ink to paper.

In the greater scheme of things, a small price to pay.

I do want us all to hold hands and sing happy songs around a camp fire, as we get drunker and drunker, and then we can all start talking trash talk about someone who is not at the fire, with us.  That sort of everyone getting together and being part of how wonderful this book is.

Starting fires in suburban parks without the right permits is frowned upon, and with a 5 litre box of wine does bring more boys to the yard than when I make milkshakes.

I really love Jemina’s idea of making it the Sisterhood of the Travelling Book – and it would be very cool if “the book” (said with the right amount of back music to make it sound quite dramatic) is passed along to someone else as well.

I am going to slip my slightly used, but much loved edition of  “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened {A Mostly True Memoir} by Jenny Lawson The Bloggess” into a white padded envelope tomorrow and send it off to Countess Kaz who blogs over at The Fat Dairies!

I think it would be great if she would read it, sign it and send it on to another Jenny Lawson Stalker – I can’t dictate to CountessKaz where to send the book, as she might get a list off her blog.

Enjoy the book CountessKaz – I hope it brings back a bit of your mojo.

It is brimming with mojo and all sorts of other good stuff.  Laugh hard, snort harder, and got to bed with a smile on your face — think of me!

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I think this squirrel would go really well with my other squirrel …

A few years ago I might have thought this was weird, and left the store shaking my head.

Now? I would put my pants on, find a clean t-shirt, some lip gloss and go and buy this guy.

I think he would work like a bomb with my motorbike riding squirrel that I am hoping to receive for my birthday.

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Seriously who comes up with this stuff? It is so fucked up, I think I would buy it.

Dog trumps cat … sorry Shlumfi, it really is not happening ….

{I got a free box of stuff – there was no pressure or request to run a post — but when someone gives you 9 rolls of 2-toilet paper, well I think the right thing to do is post about it, then toddle off to the toilet with your new gift and put it to good use}

Babysoft are running a Mascot Show Down.

I usually skip this sort of thing, but I think when they start messing with whether to take a dog of packaging to put a cat on it, then really people should not stand idly by while this injustice occurs!!

In the right hand corner, we have the cute and cuddly and doe eyed Contender #1 Softi – what is cuter than a puppy Labrador puppy?

Well, I can tell you not the cat named Shlumfi – Shlumfi looks a bit red eyed and I think he lost it for me when he was referred to as “highest pedigree”

You either have a pedigree or you don’t — a high pedigree is just an idiots way of saying that they have never seen a dog or cat’s pedigree papers have have been duped to pay far more than the animal is worth.

Also Shlumfi looks a bit goofed on cat nip if you ask me …. I just do not think we should endorse a mascot who is clearly out of it most of the time.

That besides, the Lab is clearly the winner – I tried to get Dexter in on the action – he was like “Bitch, please …..”

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Honey Boo Boo Child!

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I will confess that I watched one three episode of Honey Boo Boo.

I am not sure what it is about, but there was a pig named Glittz or Glitter.  The family lives in a very small house.  No one is called by their birth name, and all have nicknames.  One of the daughters, who is about 16 is pregnant, and other than that a fairly every day sort of family.

Clearly none of the glitz of the Kardashians.  The production budget on this reality show must be about 25 cents per show.  Maybe.  I sometimes need sub-titles even though they are speaking English.

They seem to eat on paper plates and with plastic cutlery.  They all appear to sit on one couch, which comfortably maybe takes two people.  I keep wondering if their house is actually a spin off of  “Extreme Home Makeovers” and this is the “before”shots.  If it isn’t, I do think the guys at Extreme Make Overs do need to give the folks over at “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” a call.

The kitchen sink does not have an outlet, so it runs into a bucket, that they empty in the garden,  GO GREEN I guess?  But pageant entries and costumes are expensive, and maybe indoor plumbing is not on the list for this Xmas.

Other than that, I am still a bit unsure of exactly what the story line is.

They seem to be a normal family.  If normal is everyone is a little overweight, and mom has crust stuff in the fat folds on her neck.

The term “broke down red necked-nised hill-billies” … does tend to jump into one’s consciousness when watching this show.

I have no idea what the draw card is to Honey Boo Boo Child – but I am strangely attracted to it.  I am not sure if this is an indication of my taste, or the high quality of the show.

That being said, I have now seen three (I think I might have rewatched one twice) episodes.  I would quite happily spend a few hours with a large packet of Chipniks, a bottle of Chenin Blanc, and some more valuable time with Honey Boo Boo and her family.

Honey Boo Boo is Alana Thompson and one of the breakout stars of the‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ reality show.

On the upside I find that if I just watch half a dozen episodes, get my fill, then I tend to realise that it makes me feel nauseous and then I never watch it again.

But for now I am stalking Honey Boo Boo Child.  And the pig!

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Mother’s Day …. now you know!

I just had to google it, as I had no idea when it is was year.

In case you did not know, circle Sunday, 12 May 2013.

What do you do in your home for mother’s day?

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Hiding in the car …. from the kids

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Fetching kids from school has it’s joyful moments, but for the most part they are filled with screaming, arguing, kids slapping each other, Georgia telling me about Princess Dark Pink, and me trying really hard to turn the radio up and listen to the news.

By the time I get home my nerves are frayed.  I am not wanting a drink, so much feeling an overriding urge to throw back 3 Zolofts and drink wine through a straw.

Today was no different.  It usually starts before I have even got out the parking lot at the school.

The drive home is not long.  But it feels excruciating  and eventually everyone is screaming and I have lost the will to live.  I no longer scream and tell them to be quiet.

The will to fight has left me.  They know it.  I know it.  The people sitting in their cars adjacent to me at the traffic lights know it.

I just sit there staring dully ahead, and watching my knuckles get whiter on the steering wheel.  The voices in my head keep saying – in unison “you just need to make it home, you just need to make it home ….. with everyone alive …..”

We got home today.   I thought, what if they got out the car, carried on fighting, and I just closed the door and remained in the car.

So I did that.

They were so busy beating the crap out of each other, they did not notice me.  I closed the doors, and then I just sat in the car.

Silence.

I could hear my heart beating.  I could hear that tick-tick-tick sound the car engine makes as it cools.

It was bliss.  It was heaven.

I kept thinking of that jingle from the kids show “just 5 minutes more….”

It was lovely.  My life has come down to this where I class happiness as sitting in a car by myself.  Yes.  Yes.  This is where I am.  I bit you sit there and titter, and make fun of me.  Well, chicken, your turn will come.  Sooner or later.

Then the two girls found me.  They brought the dog.  They closed the car door. Me.  Two screaming girls.  And a dog in the car.  Not so much peaceful.  Georgia was talking.  Dexter was going “hhhhhhh” or what ever sound he makes.  I have no idea what Isabelle was saying.

I thought I would stick it out and maybe they would go back inside and leave me alone.  It could happen.  In a parallel universe.

It didn’t.

Isabelle tripped over the gear stick, and somehow got her body wedged between the handbrake and the steering wheel.

I knew it was time to end watching the YouTube video on Britain’s Got Talent and face the evening.

I really forgot ….

I am quite a creative person, but I get impatient with many aspects of  “being creative.”

I love other people scrapbooking, I can’t bear the packing out and packing back process, so I have never scrapbooked.

I love the idea of preparing lavish cakes and cupcakes.  But I know a lady who I can buy from which is far easier than me making anything.

I am creative.  Unfortunately I am about as lazy as shit drying in the sun.

I love photography.  I really do.

I started doing shoots on weekends in 2011, and as nervous as I was about fucking them up, I enjoyed walking away with the bits and pieces of people’s lives.  I did it for about a year.  It was time-consuming.  It tapped in to my greatest fear, which is meeting new people, engaging with them, and then the stress of producing something, which I could fuck up by just setting the wrong aperture.

I liked that I captured a moment through a lens.

I liked being there to see stuff.

I liked the fact that sometimes I saw details that other people might have not seen or disregarded.

For me photography is a hobby.  Even when I charge a fee it barely covers the time it takes me to go there on a weekend, and the babysitters bill.

So photography was never about the money – it is about something that makes me happy inside my soul.

Of course it appeals to my social phobia, and being able to be somewhere, but at the same time hide behind a lens.

The part about photography that is not always realised is the editing time.  A shoot of 2 hours, can often result in 4 – 6 hours editing.  When you are doing it as a hobby, and not a form of income, it can really be a challenge to find the time above work, kids, alcohol, chocolate easter eggs, drugs, reading, trying to start a multi-billion rand business with my metal giraffe, and finding the time to sit and do edit reams of images

My lovely, gorgeous and probably one of the people I love the dearest in the world – Judith Cross – agreed to do a Maternity Shoot with me some time ago.  We did the shoot on the Saturday, it was fkn hot, and she was a star.

I dragged her around, and at some point she was pole dancing with a tree, which I thought alone was worth a prize!!

On Monday she was puking and throwing blood and faeces all over the delivery room, as she pushed Benjamin Cross in to the world.

Today (Benjamin is nearly at first year University) I was sitting going through some of the images, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed being part of someone’s life from the other side of the lens.

There are so many fantastic/wonderful/talented photographers out there, and really I cannot compete with their skill and dedication levels.  I am a total newbie.  I total almost-set-my-SLR-on-automatic-when-the-going-gets-too-tuff.

I really do miss it.

I really do.

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Old wordpress site which I have not updated in ages:  http://celestebarlow.wordpress.com/

I took some photos of The Stiletto Mom some time ago – and I was really happy with how they turned out.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ….

While over at my local Exclusive Books, I stumbled across “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened {A Mostly True Memoir} by Jenny Lawson The Bloggess.”

I have not read many of her posts, but the one about Beyonce the Chicken stuck firmly in my mind.

I laughed and snorted out loud to that post.

If I am feeling a bit down in the dumps I always think about Beyonce the Chicken, and it perks me right up.

I am always looking for the sister/brother to Beyonce the Chicken, because I can’t think of a purchase that would make me happier.  Well, other than the biker mouse I saw on e-bay yesterday.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Bloggess’ book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

She really is hysterically funny, and has this dry “there is nothing to see here” style which I adore.  Enjoyed the book thoroughly.

There were so many bits of this book that I snorted at – here are two – hopefully I do not get cited on a copyright infringement :

“Anyway, my dad had just finished cleaning the deer when I made a reckless fast, ninja-turn U-turn to avoid getting tagged by my sister, and that’s when I ran.  Right. The Fuck. Inside the deer.  It took me a moment to realise what had happened, and I stood there, kind of paralyzed and not ninja-like at all.   The best way I can describe it is that it was kind of like wearing a deer sweater.  Sometimes people laugh at that, but it’s not an amused laugh. It’s more of an involuntary nervous giggle of what-the-fuckness.  Probably because you aren’t supposed to wear deer for sweaters.  You’re not supposed to throw up inside them either,but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

“Then I drove myself to work and I almost passed out from a combination of the pain and the not-breathing, and when I got there I hurt so much I couldn’t even move my mouth to talk, so I wrote ‘I HAVE BROKEN MY NECK,” on a Post-it, and my bewildered office mate drove me to the hospital.  Turns out I’d herniated a disc, and the doctor gave me a pamphlet on domestic abuse and kept asking m whether someone was hurting me at home, because apparently most people don’t herniate their discs simply from brushing their hair too hard.  I prefer to think that most people just don’t brush their hair as enthusiastically as I do.”

I enjoyed this book.  Every page of it.  Loved the photographs.  Loved the captions.

I sat and read this book in about a day and a half.  Best time ever in bed.  With a book!

So, listen, I loved the book, and I am sure you will love the book as well.

If you would like to read “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, and would like a signed copy.  Signed by me.  Not by the uber talented Jenny Lawson I am afraid, then just let me have your postal address.

I have one-previously-read book that I will send on to you – I think this is the type of book you should share with anyone who needs a lie down a giggle.

What would be really cool is if you could read the book, you comment on it on your blog, you sign the book, then you pass the book on to the next person.

How does that sound?  It’s like a game of play-it-forward-fuckness in all its beauty.

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The only downside is Jenny will not be getting royalties as there is only one book doing the rounds.  But I am sure she will understand, or not.

If you have not fully experience the totally fucken hilarity that is Jenny Lawson, then this will be a good day for you.

Want the book?  Leave me your postal address — please only in South Africa.  I only have one book, so this is not an Oprah give away where everyone finds something under their seat.

Happy reading, and laughing, and all kinds of warm happiness.

Customer service epic fail ….. stoopid cow!

After a particularly disastrous time playing Standard Bank on-line banking.

I called the help line, which it appeared was having an opposite day.

The only option left to me was to go in to Standard Bank.

Explain that I have been using internet banking for about 10 years.  Have used the same account number, user name and password all this time, and now it did not work.  Could they fix what clearly I did not break.

I got particularly alarmed when red uppercase letters appeared on my screen telling me to go to my nearest branch.

Going in to a branch of my bank, often feels more painful than when I visit Vera who gives me my monthly brazilian wax.  With Vera at least I get a cup of tea, a chat and the benefit of feeling baby smooth.

With my bank, the sensation to my the hair being ripped from my outer labia is probably a good indicator of how it goes.  I get irritated, it is never ending, and I pray it will be over soon.

Partly because there are signs and posters everywhere of happy people who are getting serviced by their bank. I have never been serviced.  By my bank.  Like that.  And have never been that happy.  At my bank.

I am thinking it is either a different bank. Or I am at the wrong branch.

I stand in the queue at the Help/Information desk, and I explain my problem.

I am already feeling irritated, and the queue wait is doing nothing to soothe my mood.  Banks, how about serving coffee, tea, little sticky donuts?  Anything.  Instead we stand there and wait — and the anger in the group is palpable.

The bank assistant decides that this will be made all better by changing my account number.

Please bear in mind I have used this number since before I had children.

I am quite fond of the account number and I able to remember it more easily than I am able to remember my children’s names.   I never call my bank account by another bank account’s name. For instance.

I have long since learnt not to argue logic with people at the bank.  Or at home affairs or at any place that serves you pizza in a bucket.  It really is a futile exercise in things that are futile.  I tend to stand there, smile, nod and just say “okay” in that way that everyone does when you feel their soul dying.

I duly stand and the lady – let’s call her Ursula, her name escapes me right now –  is typing in reams of information.

I think “shit balls this is taking long” but then Ursula smiles and says that she has to move all my beneficiaries over, and that is just under 100 records.

Same bank, same account, same internet banking I have been using for a decade.  I really do not argue.

I stand some more.  Again, why question why she is changing account details that have always worked.  What ever makes her happy.  What ever makes me get out of here.

If she wants to call me Doreen, I will actually agree at this juncture.  Just what ever I can do to get the fuck out of here.  I really think Dante was describing a bank in his little short story way back then.

I can see Ursula is nearly at the end of what ever it is that she is doing, because now she is printing something which no doubt I have to sign three times with a black pen.

Ursula looks at me and smiles.

I smile back.

What else am I meant to do?  She has direct immediate access to my financial records!

She goes: “Do you know what you are expecting?”

I look at her.

The little hamster in my head tries to make a connection to what is coming out of her mouth, her relationship to me, and what she is doing.

Then I remember that I actually do not have a head coming out of my vaginal passage AT THE FUCKING BANK!!

She is not exactly a candidate for a gastric bypass operation, but she could be on a short list – should I ask her when her gastric bypass surgery is booked for?  Or maybe that they have done a super job on fixing her hair lip, I can barely see a scar!!

No, because that would an inappropriate comment to anyone I did not know. ESPECIALLY FROM A CUSTOMER SERVICES PERSON AT A FUCKING BANK!

I am being asked if I am pregnant by the biggest girl at the help desk counter.  Irony much?

In retrospect I could think of a dozen things that I should have said.

Instead I opted for the rather pedestrian: “Fuck you, I am not pregnant.  Thank you fucking much for suggesting so, as now it is clear I cannot pop next door to eat a Sausage Egg McMuffin – which I have been craving for the last 45 minutes as I stood in this STUPID FUCKING QUEUE.  Not only have you fucking made me feel body conscious and I will never wear this shirt and fucking scarf combination again, but you have now totally fucked my decision to pop next door for breakfast!  How stupid are you to make this fatal customer error 101?  Has the last +25 years on this planet taught you nothing??  Can you get Steve (or what ever his name is) on from FNB – I need to talk to him about moving my account!”

Well that is what I said in the car.  To my self.  After I left the bank.

130415_fuck-you

Because Karma is my friend.  I get home and my internet banking is still not working.  Phone the call centre, and guess what?  Had to go back to the bank.  Well done Standard Bank.  No one said.  Ever!

My birthday gift list starts here …

Squirrel Mount ( Biker squirrel ) Taxidermy Grey Squirrel Motorcycle – I would so buy this guy.

Not sure where I would put him, but $125 sounds like a steal for the Biker Squirrel – I would be the only one I know who could say – obviously when I have had a few glasses of wine: “So, you want to come over and see my squirrel?”

Kennith when you are in the States, can you order this for me?

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Boston Terriers … t-shirts that rock!

This is probably my fav0urite t-shirt in my cupboard.  I purchased it from Shannon McGovern who runs a Boston Terrier Rescuing and Re-Homing Scheme via Facebook.

I don’t wear t-shirts.  But I LOVE this t-shirt – I could wear it every day, to anything.

Kennith is heading to the States soon.   I have instructed asked him to put anything Boston Terrier into his suitcase for me.  I am just assuming there will be Boston Terrier stuff lying around in every shop.  Because it is the United States.  That is where Boston is.

Well, I sort of hope.

I do love all things Boston Terrier.  If you ever come across anything Boston Terrier related that costs just a bit less than a kidney on the black market, do let me know — or add it to my Xmas Stocking!

BostonTerrier_shirt

John, Natalie, the Rhino and the London Marathon ….

{Guest post from John and Natalie Black}

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Here is the Rhino suit that I will be running the London marathon in (42.2km), it is gonna be hard!!!!

Natalie and I have managed to secure entries into the London Marathon (a goal of many years) which is the world’s biggest fund raising event, and we have chosen the Save the Rhino Foundation as our nominated Charity.

We know that the Rhinos have been in the news lately.  It may be a bit boring, but there really is a crisis developing, and with over 180 Rhinos having already been poached this year and a total of 650 in 2012, we all need to do our bit to halt the slaughter.

Natalie and I will be running the London Marathon on 21 April (www.virginlondonmarathon.com) at 42.2km long and to take it about 75 000 steps further.

We will be running the Somkhando Rhino Run (www.somkhandarhinorun.co.za), a 50km trail run 6 days later, in our own country, down in Natal.

Over 90km in 6 days, all for the Rhinos. (Not forgetting the suit)

All the money goes directly to the Save the Rhino Foundation.   We cover our own travel fees, transport, accommodation etc, so everything raised goes to the Rhino.  More info is available at www.savetherhino.org

We have committed to raise R60 000.00 and so we (the Rhinos) really need peoples financial help. So far we have raised close on R30 000.00

If you are able and eager to help us to help the Rhino, the easiest way is to go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/blackrhino which is a secure Virgin money site and make a donation the money automatically goes to the foundation.

Please donate anything, it does not matter how big or how small, every bit goes to a charity that really needs as much support as it can get.

John & Natalie

{If you do not wish to pay through the Virgin Money account, please donate through John Black | Bank: FNB | Branch: RMB Private bank | Branch Code: 261251 | Account: 62186001675 – use RHINO as your reference, and John will in turn transfer the money on to the fund.  Want to find out more?  Contact John Black directly on john@outland.co.za or 082 412 7614}

JohnandNatalieBlackFundraisingLetter

Indian food and olive branches ….

Kennith and I went out for dinner last night.

I thought (it’s my blog so it is all about my perspective) that Kennith was really in an old man grumbling sort of mood.

I got in the car and he started explaining an incident that occurred.   He was getting quite worked up over something that is pretty minor.  As he told the story, he really got vexed and it ended with: “if they just understood and applied basic statistical modelling this would never have happened…”

I tried not to make my eyes go big.  I do get a bit afraid if people start to bandy around statistics, and refer to it as basic principle.  It took me years to understand that “the mean average” was not the “average of the angry people.”

Kennith went on to another issue.

I have learnt from experience, and my anticipation of being ready to say ” yes we are” when the waiter asks “are you ready to order?’ to half listen.  Nod at the right times, and even pull my mouth just like so in empathy, all the while keeping an eye out for the friendly yet elusive waiter.

I volunteered – after I had my drink – that Kennith was a bit obsessed with being right all the time.  To which he indicated that the issue was not that he was right all the time, but that everyone was wrong, and just needed to bow to his superior knowledge.

I might be paraphrasing, but that is sort of the gist of what he said.

I suggested that he should recognise that being right all the time is not as important as maybe just accepting some responsibility for things. And that maybe he was not right all the time, and MORE IMPORTANTLY TO STOP TELLING ME THIS EVENING ABOUT HOW RIGHT YOU FUCKING ARE!!

Kennith had ordered a beer and it arrived.

He ignored my prattling on about how he should desist from proving how right he was.  He was deeply engaged in reading the bottle label.

“Hah!” he said showing me a real close up of the bottle, “see I was right, this beer is made in Singapore and not India!!”

I took a sip of my Millers – which I really have no interest in knowing where it is from –  to eye Kennith steadily over my beer glass.  I indicated that he was maybe doing the “thing” again — the having to be right all the time thing.

His defense was that the beer was not from India.

He was right, and should he not crow about being right when he was right ….. I decided it might be easier to cast my eyes down at the menu and look if there was any biryani available.  There is no sense in arguing with a mad man with a glass bottle in his hand.

Kennith never knows when to stop, he said to me “Well you never admit to being wrong!!  When have you ever admitted to being wrong?”  {does this sound like an evening-out going down the shit pipe at a rapid rate?}

To which I answered: “I admit to being wrong, and that I have made a mistake ….often …. what I do not admit to is being sorry.  That I seldom can admit to!  I really struggle to say “I’m sorry!”

Kennith went on to tell me about how he was right about the positioning of the restaurant, though I disagreed.  He called the waiter over to affirm his rightness.

I ordered another beer. I might have been three ahead at this point. I figured that there was no way we were going to have sex, I might as well just get drunk.

In a desperate further attempt to try to divert the conversation away from all the things Kennith is allegedly right about — and he did go on a bit — I brought up the fact that my family is not one for saying “SORRY.”

We are more of the kind that hold a grudge for 25 years.

Totally forget what it was we originally started fighting about.  We pass the grudge on to the next generation and call it a “clan feud” which sounds better than saying you are arguing about petty shit.  We do have a tendency to get drunk at funerals and then have an absolutely family argument about shit that happened decades ago.

Kennith reminded me that I had not spoken to my brother in more than 5 years.

He lives a few suburbs away.  I speak to the one in Scotland.

I agreed, and said that I really did not have animosity towards him.  A few things had occurred, and I am quite well adapted to sever ties with someone and move on with my life.

I really am far above beyond interested in having gang fights on the hill, and having a shit fit on Facebook.  I simply go into a shut down mode, and remove all traces of the person from my life.  I don’t do anger, I do disinterest like a super hero though.

My brother Shaun and I have not spoken in years.  The reason is irrelevant.  I am sure it is one of those things whose truth is embedded in the person telling the tale.  The reality is somewhere in the middle.

I got home last night and decided to send him a message and pretty much say “hey here is an olive branch, and if you want to get together and move on then, I am fine with that” — notice how I did not say sorry, but I sort of meant it by my actions.

My brother declined my olive branch.

Okay, he did not tell me to shove it up my arse.

He did indicate that there will be no olive branch exchanging, no cups of sugar lending, and definitely no boerewors on the Sunday braai together – he was very polite, and said “no thank you” like a gentleman.

In the end I did have biryani.

I was quite sober.

The meal unfortunately was not brilliant.

Kennith will tell me all the points in this post where he was right, and continues to be. {sigh}

You are a bit special aren’t you ….

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