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A constantly curious and melancholic wanderer...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Moments like these...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

                                                                                                     Tale of Two Cities
                                                                                                     Charles Dickens

I love this first passage of this book by Charles Dickens.  And what a wonderful description another year that passed.  There were so many changes in my life.  Some good and some bad, some scary and also many wonderful ones.  There was definitely some darkness and despair, but so much Light and Hope. And isn't Hope what makes every new year special and people think that maybe this year will be different from the previous year, and that maybe just maybe -  this will be the best year of their lives...

I hated some moments in 2013, but I also loved so many moments.  I realized again just how much I love nature and how good it is for my soul to be surrounded by it.  But I also realized that I really loved my life in a city without knowing it at the time and this made me realize that I need to appreciate moments more.  We live in a moment, one moment at a time and each moment we live, we can never relive again...

In 2014, I want to appreciate moments more... The best ones, the worst ones, the wise ones, the foolish ones, the believable ones and the unbelievable ones, the ones filled with darkness, because they make us appreciate the ones with Light so much more, the moments which make us feel despair and then those magical moments, sometimes so small, but mostly if you look closely - all around us  - moments of Hope.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Paris in Black and White - part 1

As the end of the year is drawing near, I started remembering the trip we took to New York and Paris last December.  I am so happy that we are going to be with family over Christmas time this year, but I will never forget our white Christmas and my amazing birthday in Paris.

I finished putting up all our New York photos, but never got to the ones I took in Paris. So here are a few of my favourite photos of one of the most beautiful cities in the world...


  We finally arrived in France after an eight hour flight and a session on the airport where there were no signs in English and no people speaking English and no way of figuring out where to go.  We soon discovered that "Sortie" means "Exit". 
This was taken in Antony, a little community in the Southern suburbs of Paris.  We stayed at a flat of someone we knew and had to sort out the keys and put our luggage down, before we could go explore Paris at night...



 First thing we did - before even fetching our keys, was to buy croissants and eat them immediately.  I was laughed at because of how I pronounced "croissant"  and wasn't so sure whether I liked French people (who by the way cannot understand any English).  Living in Mauritius - now I can actually pronounce "croissant" the  right way and will probably be able to say "I want 2 croissants please" and maybe I won't get laughed at if we go again.  I must admit, they were delicious and definitely made me forget about the rude lady in the shop.



On the subway and ready for the nightlife in Paris...



I love this photo of graffiti on a building side.  We were in Belleville - Paris and a bit surprised by how everything looked - not at all like in the pictures. I was starting to wonder why some people called it the most romantic city in the world... We did start with some of the more dodgy parts of Paris without knowing it following an "Exploring Paris in 2 days itinerary" I found on the internet.  I did buy an awesome red coat in China Town as I left my old coat in New York somewhere next to the road.  



I love how the entrances to the subway look.  So medieval.  But as I was soon to discover - a lot of buildings in Paris has that look and feel.  



 It still didn't look like I imagined Paris, but I thought it was quite pretty.



   Montmarte with the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the background.  We had a beautiful night view of the city on top (after climbing many many stairs) and our first peak of the Eiffel Tower.  I was getting a bit more excited about Paris - it might be very romantic after all.  



Lots of photo opportunities in the streets of Montmarte...  



Moulin Rouge!!!! What an awesome feeling it was to be at this famous theater.  I love the windmill on top and we stood there for about an hour just looking at it and taking in the vibe...



One day when we are grown up and can afford it, we will go and watch a show here.

Fun fact:  Did you know Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. *



One of our favourite places whether in New York or Paris and something that we can afford (if it is not more than one cup a day)




Back to the subway and ready to go home.  We had a lovely first night in Paris...  Or did we?  


Stay tuned for scenes from Paris Day 2.


#It was a cold cold winters night, with temperatures falling to the minus degrees.  Jaco and Charlene had an old mattress to sleep on in what used to be a beautiful home, but was now a student flat with old food and dirt everywhere.  Problem number 1: they could not find the geyser to switch on the hot water.  Problem number 2:  they could not get the internal heating system to work.  With 2 dirty blankets and one plastic bottle filled with hot water from the kettle (no coffee or tea or milk) they go to bed for the last night of Charlene's 27 year old life...  


*Wikipedia







Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving...

As November is generally seen as a month of giving thanks, I have decided to make some time to just become aware of the many things in my life that I can be thankful for.  I think if we made a list of things we can be grateful for every morning, our days will be filled with much more positive energy.

So here goes...

  • I am thankful that I know and serve the living God and that I can experience his presence every day of my life. 
  • I am thankful for a husband that loves me just the way I am - even though sometimes I try to change him.  
  • I am thankful for family that supports me even though we are miles apart and that I have special relationships (even though there are some ups and downs from time to time) with all of them. 
  • I am thankful for all my special friends - each one of them accentuating a different aspect of my personality.
  • I am thankful for nature and the peace that it brings to my heart.  
  • I am thankful for all my senses that are in tact and that I can take all of the beauty and craziness and melancholic wonder of life in.
  • I am thankful for the small things in life that makes me happy: 
    • waking up next to my favourite person in the world every morning
    • that delicious smell and taste of my first (and mostly only) cup of coffee of the day 
    • the old man that I see every day when I am driving home, standing next to his red taxi, watching life pass him by, giving me a small smile.  Even though we have never met, I feel strangely comforted every time I see him.
    • the little cardinals that watch me when I am sitting on our porch writing or reading or just contemplating life.  
    • the way that the entire sky is painted with amazing, indescribable colours every afternoon when the sun sets over the ocean. 
    • a text from a friend or family member saying they are thinking of me. 
    • a glass of red wine on the rocks in front of our home, sitting quietly with just the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. 

I am thankful for so many things and my heart swells when I think of everything that I am privileged enough to experience and for all the people that I get to experience it with.   Let's be thankful more often.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Interesting facts about bumblebees...

Did you know that the word for bumblebee and for heavy are very similar in French.  And if you have to use google translate while trying to figure out what a person wrote on a piece of scrap paper, you might see "bourd"  instead of "lourd"  and therefore have to assume that the care workers in a care home for elderly people are experiencing back pain because of  the bumblebee cargo they have to carry around.

So just for interest I went on to Google (which by the way I am sure is helping our brain cells die a slow death, as no-one needs to think anymore with Google just a swipe of the finger away) to read more about bumblebees.  Probably just because I really love the sound of the word bumblebee, but mostly because I needed a break from French translations.

So here is the real interesting fact: if you Google bumblebee, you don't find any information about bees right away, but rather you can read up all about the fictional characters in the (not so great) movies Transformers.  Fascinating...

Then you first work your way through companies and brands with the name Bumblebee and then you can finally read that bumblebees are in fact bees and that although they are peaceful in nature, they will sting you when they feel cornered or disturbed...

 Further on, I found this song about Bumblebees that is supposed to be played on the ukulele...

I caught a little Baby Bumble Bee
CWon't my mummy be so proud of me
FI caught a little Baby Bumble Bee
C7#11Ouch! It Stung me!

I'm squashing up my Baby Bumble Bee
Won't my mummy be so proud of me
I'm squashing up my Baby Bumble Bee
Yeuch! What a mess!

I'm licking up my Baby Bumble Bee
Won't my mummy be so proud of me
I'm licking up my Baby Bumble Bee
Hmm? Needs salt!

I'm throwing up my Baby Bumble Bee
Won't my mummy be so proud of me
I'm throwing up my Baby Bumble Bee
Ugh! Sick!

I'm mopping up my Baby Bumble Bee
Won't my mummy be so proud of me
I'm mopping up my Baby Bumble Bee
Ooops! Mummy wasn't so proud of me!








What I have learned from this

  • Do not confuse words that sound/looks the same with each other
  • Knowing facts about Transfomers is more important than learning about bees
  • There are some really horrible nursing songs out there


Mauritian Jakarandas

Since living in Mauritius where everything is strange and different from what we are used to, my husband and I have decided to look for things that remind us of things at home and then just call it by the same name we have for it in SA, but add the "Mauritian"  in front...

So here follows some picture of what I believe to be Mauritian Jakarandas.  They are a different colour I admit and they are not quite as glorious as the purple heaven we experience every year from October in Pretoria and Johannesburg, but these red blotches of beauty has given me a lot of joy and comfort over these past few weeks...




























One day I will find out what their real name is and let you know, until then, I hope you enjoy these Mauritian Jakarandas as much as I do...



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Charm is my middle name...

This is a story about a boy named Clumsy and a girl named Snowflake.  You might be wondering how they got their peculiar names.  Well, Clumsy was born right after his mother almost had a big fall from tripping over her own feet.  “How terribly clumsy of me!”  she exclaimed, as she realized the consequences such a fall could have so late in her pregnancy.  But before she could even finish her sentence, she went into labour and gave birth to a beautiful little boy, which she then decided to call Clumsy, as a reminder how lucky she was not to have lost her baby.

And Snowflake?  Well, her story is a little different.  During the last months of her mom’s pregnancy she started having a severe craving for frozen foods.  She constantly indulged in it, eating it without heating it, ice-cold from the freezer.  Later on, she started replacing all other food with frozen foods. She wouldn’t even drink water, but insisted on eating ice-cubes.  Her husband told her to be careful as her baby would probably be born frozen.  And sure enough, her baby came out white as snow, and cold enough to give you shivers.

And so these two somewhat peculiar children grew up in a somewhat peculiar town, called Bakerville.  Clumsy grew up…well clumsy.  He could not walk even a few meters without stumbling over something, but most of the times he just fell over his own feet.  Even when standing still, talking to somebody, he would end up knocking things over or accidently bumping something off a table.  Even though it was a peculiar town with a lot of peculiar children, he still got teased a lot.  Love Bug, Ditzy and Violet all made fun of him. Only Snowflake kept quiet.  She never really said anything, but no-one made fun of her.  She was always handled with respect, especially since she could turn the temperature in any room to very cold if she wished to do so.  When the other children started teasing Clumsy and it got to a point where all he wanted to do was cry, he could always feel a change in the temperature.   And then the children would stop teasing and run to fetch their jackets.  He wanted to thank Snowflake, but as soon as he starts walking towards her, he would fall over his own feet again.  She would just give a little smile and then walk away.

Clumsy couldn’t stop thinking about Snowflake.  He wanted to tell her that he really appreciated what she does for him every time he gets teased, but also he really wanted to tell her that he thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world.  On his sixteenth birthday party, it was just him and his parents.  He didn’t really have many friends and he was too scared to ask Snowflake to come. That night at dinner, his mom could see that he was not himself.  Before bedtime, she went to sit with him for a little while.  “Do you want me to tell you the story about how you were born again Clumsy?” she asked. “No mom” he said quietly.  “Not tonight”.  His mom accepted this and then told him:  “I still didn’t give you your last present you know”.  He looked at her without much excitement “What is it?”  His mom replied:  “Well, I have decided to tell you you’re middle name.  I think you are old enough now to use it wisely.”  “I have another name?” he said surprised, “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”   “I think sometimes in life, we just don’t see who we really are Clumsy.  You just look at your clumsiness, but you don’t see what I see.  I see who you really are… And that is so much more than just a clumsy boy.  And I guess, I hope if I tell you you’re middle name, that you will see a bit of who you really are too.” And she whispered something in his ear.


The next morning Clumsy walks to school differently.  He still has a few stumbles, but he seems to care less about them and get up quicker than usual.  He looks confident and doesn’t even notice the other children shouting things from the side of the road.  When he gets to school, he walks straight up to Snowflake, looks her in the eye and say:  “Hi, my name is Clumsy, but Charm is my middle name”

Mauritius - Take 2

It has taken me just more than five months to adjust and feel slightly more settled in Mauritius.  I thought that as soon as I got to Mauritius, I would start blogging every day and get to everything I never used to get to. But it seems that life and my always-meeting-new-people-and-making-life-extremely-busy-for-myself personality did not allow it.  

But here I am, sitting on our veranda, overlooking the beautiful ocean and a great view of a small, but very distinctive island called Coin de Mire, finally working on a new blog post.  

A lot has changed in my life...

  • I stopped working.  This was a major life-change in itself and I had no idea how much this would affect me before I was in the situation.  Most people probably think that I am living the dream.  Trapped on a beautiful island, with no work worries and woes.  But to me this was really hard.  First of all, I loved my job.  Yes, it had lots and lots of challenges and sometimes I wanted to run away, but there were so  many daily rewards of working with elderly people that made it worthwhile.  Also, it seemed as though everything I worked for over three years fell into place right before I left.  So, it was really hard to say goodbye to that and to a hundred or more older people, who had stolen my heart and who I cared for dearly.  And then I came to Mauritius and although everything was new and exciting, I just could not picture myself as the typical housewife that I now had to be. I realized that I was very much defined by my work and that it was going to take some time to just sit back and think about what more there is to me than just being an occupational therapist with a passion for geriatrics. So that is more or less where I am now.  The first few months, I ran around, trying to find work/volunteer work/anything that would keep me stimulated and although I found a lot of excellent opportunities, I also realized that it is okay not to get everything right from the beginning and that this time in Mauritius is actually the perfect opportunity for me to really find out what it is that I love doing and also what it is that I really want to do (besides work) and then do it.

  • I started horse-riding.  This happened almost by accident, but it is one of the best things I have ever done.  Horse-riding must be one of my favourite things at the moment.  When I sit on top of my horse (or rather on the stables' horse), I feel like I can do anything.  Until I realize that I actually really still suck at horse-riding off course, but it still is a great feeling.  And I think there is something very therapeutic in trusting a horse to not throw you off and a horse trusting you to steer him/her in the right direction.  My horse's name is PS.  I Love You and she is beautiful.  She is very stubborn and slow, but I am also stubborn and I can use a bit more "slow" in my life. 

  • We already moved since being in Mauritius.  Our home has lots of bugs and cracks and weird furniture and linen, but when you hear the ocean every night when you go to bed and when you have the most beautiful view every morning with your first coffee, then you don't complain. And you just feel very blessed.  

  • I joined a Writer's Circle.  So although I did not blog much, I did at least write something once a month.  It is very interesting what can be written when a topic is given - especially with topics such as Charm is my Middle name. 

  • I made some new friends which made my first few months a bit easier here in Mauritius.  Life is hard when you don't really have anyone to talk to, especially for a chatterbox like me.  

  • I learned a few words in Kreole and a few words in French.  I can ask someone whether they would like to go to dinner with me as well as say that I want to go to the beach.  I think that is enough to keep me going for a while.


So, that is it for now.  I hope to be writing more regularly from now on.  Mauritius is a beautiful place and there is lots to say about it.  For instance, did you know that Mauritius is a leaf-shaped island and the most populated one in Africa.  And five months ago, the island's population of almost a 1,253,000 people went up by two.  Our adventure begins :)

Au Revoir








Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rest for my soul

There is no place in the world that is more beautiful to me than the Freestate.  Especially where I grew up, on a farm close to Steynsrus (some would call it "The Middle of Nowhere").  People don't understand this or agree with me most of the time and they actually think I'm a bit crazy :)  But my opinion will never change...

I think its the simplicity of the beauty that draws me.  There are no extravagant mountains.  There are no waterfalls or huge trees that makes it special.  Only golden  fields that stretches out as far as the eye can see and here and there a small farm house and some cows.

It is here where I find rest for my soul.  And I will always return to the place where I grew up...













































Saturday, June 8, 2013

Scarborough...

Before we packed up our lives and moved to Mauritius, we made a few pit stops to say goodbye to special people. 

One of the pit stops was in the Cape to visit a few very special friends of ours.  On  a road trip with my friend and her fiancĂ©, we discovered... Scarborough.  This is were you will find Jaco and me in 40 years time when we are both retired :) 

Here are some of the photos:



A Wikipedia description of Scarborough: 

Scarborough is a town situated on the Cape Peninsula to the South of Cape Town in South Africa.This town was designated as a conservation village in April 1996, defined as "a residential area of limited extent, surrounded by a conserved natural landscape, committed to reverse past environmental damage and to avoid future environmental impacts."

 
Why are we moving to Mauritius again - white sandy beaches are right here... (oh yes, maybe to save enough money to retire in Scarborough one day)









 




 
A friendship that has stood the test of time (16 years and counting)
 

 




 
 
 

Can you see our little house hidden in there somewhere? 
 
 
What a beautiful beautiful country we live in...
 
 
 


Friday, June 7, 2013

New Life

I have been completely of the grid since February and has really missed blogging... However since there was some life-changing events happening (like the possibility of moving to Mauritius and then the possibility becoming a reality and then deciding whether we want to move to Mauritius and then working really hard to get things in place at my work before leaving them and then basically packing up our lives and moving to Mauritius...), I do hope you will forgive my abscense from the blog world.

So yes, I am writing this post from the beautiful Mauritius (or Paradise Island as called by some people) and I am still not even sure if I am really here or if it is a dream...   And I'm also not sure yet what kind of dream it is - something between really exciting and adventorous and very scary and very weird :) 

So, I will be doing some Mauritius posts soon.  To share what I am learning here and how to survive in Mauritius as a complete stranger.  he he

But I thought before I start with the Mauritius posts, I will do one or two South African ones, so that everyone can see just why I am going to miss South Africa and my special people in it so so much...

Hope to do a bit more of blogging in the future... If there is anyone out there that still reads my blog - hallo and...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Word of the Week





This is definitely something I suffer from :)

Thanks to Time and a few Moths.



I'm famous...

...but not really :)

I recently wrote an article for the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa and have my very first article published in the Focus Magazine that comes out once every 4 months.

It's probably just because they are in desperate need of articles and also because I know the editor really well.  But who cares? :)

Here is my article: