Cuisine, Sunscreen, Tambourine I've Seen '17
Highlighting a year brings back sweet memories. It’s through hard times that we take note, but it’s in the cool afterglow that we can sit back and let our hearts and minds recall good times. This has been an amazing roller coaster year. My 60th!
My mind has been churning with thoughts, words and emotions to write all day. I’ve spent time with my children, I’ve discovered new places and countries, I’ve eaten foreign food, played with my grandbabies, met wonderful people, celebrated life changing events, I’ve laughed and cried, been happy and sad. I’ve been overjoyed and disappointed. Angry, frustrated, misled, often beguiled, loved, sad and surprised are just some of the emotions I’ve felt. I think disappointment is always the hardest to come to terms with.
I never got to my new year’s resolutions, then again I can’t remember having any. What I do know is that most were forgotten at conception. 2018 will be no exception e.g. My cupboards are still hectic, that top drawer with all the bits of string, ribbon, copper cents, buttons and Hilti nails will remain a mess. Chances are the Christmas tree will be stuffed back into the top of a cupboard with all its tinsel, to be dusted off again 12 days before Christmas. I will not sew buttons on shirts, ironing will be my pet hate, the linen cupboard will puzzle me no end, what has become of all the pillowslips? I’ll have to start an eating plan on 3rd January. Doing Spinning Classes, Yoga and dancing to Jenny’s tune is not an option, my aging body demands it.
The first highlight of the year was spending a weekend with the fabulous five. My boarding house best friends. I hadn't seen them since 1972. In all my born days I never expected this event. We all celebrated our 60th birthdays and re-kindled our friendship. We're scattered all over the world yet we have an unbreakable bond. High tea at the Cilo was brilliant. Thank you Cheryl, Lynda, Jenny and Michelle you are such a vital part of my life.
My annual lunch with the class of '74 was of course, undeniably fabulous, we're still the best thing that ever happened at/to Rhenish and I look forward to catching up with these amazing girls in 2018. They're evergreen, solid, beautiful and very amusing.
I do believe traveling is the greatest teacher and we should all try it, not necessarily to other countries but to other towns and villages in our own country too. Traveling on a shoe string is possible, believe me, saving every last cent is how I did it. It was often challenging and as my departure time drew nearer I did suffer nerves as I hoped, doubted and agonized. My confidence went to an all-time low when I had to hand over my completed Visa application forms with the “certified” bank statements, what would they think, not much to go on. I got my visas, that was the point! My budget would hold out. The rewards far out-weighed my anxieties.
Lise and I walked, talked, laughed, cried, struggled and made it from Porto in Portugal to Santiago in Spain. Being a Peregrino, Pilgrim, was fantastic. Not just a walk in the park. We were challenged both physically and mentally. Every morning was started with hope and gusto, many evenings saw us exhausted, in pain, again physically and emotionally. We struggled with our feet, swore at our inadequate boots and when we could take it no more left them on a little wall high up on a mountain, and slipped into our trusty flip-flops. Butch joined one week before the end, having a cheerful raconteur with us was wonderful. The Paella put paid to all his hiking aspirations as he took ill, having forgotten his allergy. We were disappointed, but had miles to go so we slogged on.
Entering Santiago was both emotional and awesome, we had done it. We proudly posed for photographs with our certificates which I’ve framed for posterity. While I was elated to spend some time with my lifelong friend, Bronnwyn, who’d come all the way to Santiago to celebrate my birthday I was sad to think my daughter had to return to Canada, our time together drawing to a close. Time is the great healer and soon my toes were fine and the sadness, although never quite buried, did dry up as Butch and I winged our way to Italy.
Our Italian tour has only fueled our desire to return one day. The villages and cities we visited were breathtaking. We loved the food, wine, the people and the architecture. Art everywhere, modern, masterful, creative, on walls in the street and in magical museums, castles and palaces. I couldn't get enough of it all.
We both returned with all our senses satiated. We spent every last cent on food, and returned with wine and charcuterie for dinner parties and tapas platters. Of course we couldn’t resist the leather goods, a handcrafted handbag and I had an opportunity to even purchase a lovely dress to be worn to my son’s wedding later, the fridge magnet went into my wallet. We rolled home with a new bright yellow wheelie suitcase, packed chock-a-block.
My new toenails had hardly taken root when I was packed ready to go on another Fish River Canyon hike. Second time round proved to be much easier on my body. I loved sleeping under the stars again and our fireside conversations deep into the night were like re-reading a much loved favourite book.
I always rush home with excited expectations to hear of the progress on our Honey Badger, the Overlander truck we’ve been converting for almost 2 years now. Sadly, things haven’t augured well.
We were fortunate to enjoy two weekends away, chugging along slowly to our campsite, spending marvelous times with my brother and sister-in-law, who are seasoned campers. These excursions were a good ploy to get things done and speed up the works as I was becoming impatient. The blow came unexpectedly when we discovered that our truck was 2 tonnes overweight. We were devastated as we'd invested so much time, money and effort into the project. After much hand wringing, and endless sleepless nights we took the plunge and decided to start from scratch. Removing the old “box” and replacing it with a brand new one using an insulated composite.
Work will begin in the New Year as soon as the architect has completed our electrical, gas and water installation plans. I am optimistic and confident we’ll have our wheels within the first quarter of the year.
In the Spring my neighbours and I got together to celebrate Sarine's birthday 89 and going strong. She is an inspiration to us and a road trip over the mountains to Franschoek for the day is uplifting, the atmosphere is unmistakeably French.
It was with extreme excitement that I went off to Canada, firstly to reconnect with my darling Grandson, a big boy now and to meet my newest Grandbaby! He is adorable.
I experienced the first snowflakes of the winter, marveled awestruck by the beauty of the pristine white landscape and surreal igloo effect light has at night. My bubble burst when the snow melted and everything turned grey. Muddy, cold, depressing the landscape became with its institutional grey garb. But, Neil and I had fun on a toboggan, his grandma became quite inelegant as she zipped down the slopes at top speed. Just before I departed we had another light dusting of snow, my first thought when looking through my viewfinder would be "this is cookie tin perfect"!
Blue, yellow, red are the colours of Mexico in my mind’s eye and after a cold spell most welcoming. It would be the first time in years that I’d enjoy a holiday with all my children. I can't recall seeing too many sombreros but I did see a Chihuahua
What made it more special of course was that we were going to celebrate Joe and Emily’s marriage. Sun, sea and tequila cocktails would be the order of the day. For a week we all relaxed, caught up, met new acquaintances, danced, laughed and celebrated the young couples happiness. The beautiful bride made an elegant entrance and the handsome groom expressed his deep love for her eloquently. I am proud of him. I am delighted she accepted his proposal, she lights up his eyes. We all returned to a blustery Canada with golden tans, refreshed.
We celebrated an early Christmas, with a beautiful tree and all the usual trimmings. Santa Clause made an appearance, delighting and disturbing the children as he descended the staircase and later posed for photographs. Soon the room had wrappers floating about. There were happy smiles and I'm sure a few disappointments too.
Our last supper is always peppered with regret it signals that all too soon my stay is over. With a deep sense of loss and utmost sadness I returned to South Africa. The long flight was tedious as I sat sandwiched in the middle seat. My head never quietening down as I lumbered home. The worst bout of jet-lag settled in like a demon putting paid to any aspirations I had to make another trans-Atlantic flight in the near future.
And so the year finally spun around and it was Christmas again. I spent a joyful day, chopping, slicing, grating, steaming and simmering in the kitchen preparing a summer luncheon in the garden. The weather was kind and we enjoyed a glorious day with friends and family around our table. By the time the last guests left, well into the night, I had no left-overs and the refrigerator was bare. A resounding success I’d say.
Christmas was spent with my family, what more could I ask for? While unwrapping my gifts a thought entered my head. I am 60 and catching up with my parents, they’re only 23 years older than me!
It took a day for us to pack up once again and head off to the West Coast. We pitched our tents on a tiny camp site and rang in the New Year in proper Laaiplek style. The wind howled, the music was deafening but good with a songbook filled with golden oldies and boere musiek, the pizzas were scrumptious, the company excellent and the locals cosmopolitan, friendly and hospitable.
With deepest gratitude I look back on my year and know it’ll be hard to repeat, but, there have been tears shed too. My mentor, friend and bridge partner for almost thirty years, Melene, passed away suddenly. One of my favourite friends, Jurie, an incredibly special light in my life who shared my love of cooking, gardening, books and bridge has, it seems, moved away and I miss her. Who will remember her stories and jokes? Many of my book club friends, who’ve shared my passion for books for 37 years have retired and re-located, leaving a huge hole in my heart. These women who shared my secrets, saw my children born and grow up and leave the nest. My comrades in arms. First we were 13 now we are 10.
It was with utmost shock and disbelief that I heard of my childhood friend, the sister I never had, a fabulously talented needlewoman and crafter, always tackling life with optimism, who days after turning 60 was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. My words will never be adequate enough to express my heartfelt concern. I have no comforting words to give her as she bravely battles with her invasive treatments and disablitlies. Yet, she courageously encourages us, loves her children and enjoys her two grandsons. My heart is broken, but, I believe she will make a full recovery, we will sit on the stoep in our old age and reminisce our care-free childhood on an African tobacco farm and our holidays in Mozambique.
My only wish is that we all have a very Happy New Year, filled with prosperity, good health and above all LOVE. Aren’t we lucky to have a page-turner every 365 days, where we get to start all over again, afresh? I am only halfway through my fabulous 60th year, I look forward to many adventures, surprises and fun. There are many stories to tell, adventure to be done, places to visit, food to savour and experiences to share.
Last thought. Is it only our family that make group photographs so difficult? Try as we might we never have that Annie Leibovitz moment. Even Santa is hooked to Social Media or is it a last minute detail? My little prince wouldn't even look up never mind getting him to stand like Lord Fontelroy on a pile of first editions! That is life.