Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The problem with being the baby in the group is this...

The problem with being the baby in the group is this...
30 July 2014

I was looking back at some of my old photographs the other day.  Mind you, only the digital ones on my computer.  I never even glanced at my hard copy prints. 

It was a friend’s 50th birthday.  And as the self-appointed photographer at any gathering, I’m always the one taking photos.  And on this occasion, we had bought Thea a digital photo frame.  But what is the purpose of a photo frame if it is not filled with pics?  And who should have all of the pics?  Moi! 

Now, this was not an easy task.  I have over ten years’ worth of photos.  Thousands and thousands and thousands.  Entire hard drives full.

Making even a small selection of some of the very best photos was a mammoth task.  Eventually I dedicated over three hours to the project on Friday morning (nothing like last-minute-com), and eventually whittled the selection down to a mere 5 000.  And this was only up to January 2008!!!

I eventually called it quits, and trimmed it down further to a measly 763.  I will continue my task, but for now it’s an ample start.  Two hours’ worth of continuous photo play.

But here’s the thing I noticed on my three hour long photo journey.  A journey filled with awesome memories and really good times.  The one and only Cole is the baby in our crowd of friends.  And for a really long time, he was the baby of the family.  Our nuclear family, as well as the extended family on both sides.

One fact became blatantly obvious – he didn’t need legs.

There are very few photos of the little bugger walking at all.

He was permanently attached to someone’s hips!  The adults carried him around – family and friends.  Our friends children.  Our other children.  Our family members.  Random people at social gatherings and school functions would claim him.

He was forever hoisted.  And attached like a limpet to someone’s side.

Even once he was able to walk.  And even then, he didn’t really fancy walking either.

Instead he opted to run.  Very much a reflection of his personality.  A trait still evident to this day.

So perhaps he was saving himself.  Reserving his energy.  Knowing full well, that when the time came, he’d leap through life.

And run.

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A rare photo of little Cole with his feet touching the ground - and even here he's running

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Doctors and their handwriting

Doctors and their handwriting
24 July 2014

Funny how certain careers and very specific characteristics, tendencies and mannerisms, just naturally pair up.  As if they're inexplicably drawn to one another.  By powerful magnetic forces.  Surpassing mere human control.

Sure you know exactly what I mean.

Plumbers tend to wear low slung hipster pants, over which they usually sport rather large muffin tops as well as impressive (in a bad way) butt cracks.  Ballerina’s have severely pulled back hair and sharp features.  Accountants can at times drone on in a monotonous tone of voice (not you Nicole), about numbers, of all things.  Teachers have their teacher voices (yes you Maggie).  In fact, my mom, as a long standing teacher, has a rather impressive one.  I think it’s all about vocal projection and tone of voice.  Arty Farty people often sprout forth about crystals and star signs (not you Bettie), and wear loads of tie-dye and are often fairly into dreadlocks and layers of clothing.  Professional army/soldier types, tend to wear camo type clothing even in their free time.  And I suppose even in a social setting, psychiatrists, really listen to people and draw them out.

Now these are all traditional stereotypes.  I know that.  But how did they become stereotypes?  Well, they were true for lots of similar people, with similar interests.  Enough so to be noticeable.  To form a kind of pattern.

And the same can definitely be said for doctors and their handwriting.

What’s with that?  One would think that after spending an extra seven years of studying, they should, if anything be better at writing, than those of us who didn’t.  They most certainly had more opportunity to do so.  Hello!!!  Seven extra years of schooling!

Yet, it is a pattern for sure.

Loads of scribbling.  Of the tightly scrunched up variety.  As well as the big overflowing loose type too.  Almost as if they can’t be bothered.  Truth be told, it makes me a bit nervous…

Which is actually quite dangerous if you think about it.  I mean let’s have a moment’s consideration for the poor pharmacists out there.  Those charged with dispensing our medicinal cures.  I’d wager that they spend a good year of their tertiary education, completely dedicated to the art of deciphering.  I bet they study handwriting prototypes, techniques and samples.  Thousands of different varieties.  Slanted to the left.  Slanted to the right.  Lefties.  Righties.  Cursive.  Print.  Combo of the two.  Possibly they do speed and accuracy tests?  Fastest dispensing times, of accurate and appropriate medicines, that perfectly match the scribble they’ve been handed?

What must make their task even more difficult and complicated, is that so many medical terms are so closely related.  Medicines too.  Imagine making an error in judgement!  Some poor women, battling to breastfeed her child and needing something for “Lactation” might accidently receive something for “Laxation”, and accidently have her bowel opened up instead of her milk ducts.  This is serious people!

When handing a script over the counter to a pharmacist, I closely watch his (or her) body language, and try and gauge his facial expression.  Interpret the visual clues I’m being afforded.  Puzzlement, leaves me worried.  Conferring with a colleague, followed by pointing and sniggering at me, makes me break out into a sweat.  Consulting the big guns, and pulling out a medical dictionary, makes me downright terrified!

I’ve often pondered, on the odd occasion when I’ve received a script, from someone in the medical field, on this phenomenon.  And I’ve made a startling observation.  Albeit the humble GP, the paediatrician, the orthopaedic, the orthodontist, etc.  After due consideration and through my keen investigative instincts, I can unequivocally state, that there is no discernment.

The handwriting ailment is prevalent in all forms of medicine.  Irrespective of the exact field.  Or the amount of years of study it required.  Thus whether they’re doctors for knees, for lungs, babies, or the flu, they can’t right worth jack!

Moreover, I wonder if there’s a cure?

Perhaps I can write them a script?

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To be fair, this resembles the handwriting of a grade school kid, with very bad pencil control

I would like to contest that this individual never actually received any education whatsoever. Alternatively this is a highly evolved form of hieroglyphics, as yet undiscovered and not yet decoded.

All righty then!


This makes me nervous! Alternatively this doctor suffers from dyslexia, low muscle tone and horrible-handwriting-aphobia-nis-chitis.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My brother plays a little guitar

My brother plays a little guitar
22 July 2014

No, seriously!  Look at the pic above.  When he’s not playing one of his regular big axes, he fiddles around on a little guitar.

I grew up in a very musical home.  Everyone could play something.  Usually more than one thing.  Everyone could sing.  Instruments were aplenty.

It was a natural progression for one of us to pick up the guitar.  Luck would have it, that the right kid did.  And the right instrument too.  Would have been utterly wasted on me.

Can you imagine, Albert Frost, The Dark Prince of Blues and all round rock star – the piano player??? 

We both had a bit of a Clarinet phase.  An even less likely instrument to inspire rock-star-ness.  Mostly likely the epitome of unsexy.  Probably a real ladies killer too.  And not in a good way either.  As in ladies run in the opposite direction.  But, lovely though the Clarinet was, for both of us, it luckily passed.  I even remember a brief recorder phase during Primary School.  Probably one of the most pointless instruments in the whole world.  I mean, even a triangle has more attitude.  And let’s not forget the cymbals!  With those little leather thong strappy things.  And we all know how cool thongs are…

Anyway, my mind is clearly drifting again.  Back to Albert.

Now the remarkable thing about Albert and the guitar, is that it’s all self-taught.  Not a single lesson in his life. 

No one ever nagged him to practice.  In fact, it was more of a challenge to get him to put the bloody guitar down, and stop practicing, than the other way around.  It went everywhere with us.  I remember going away for the odd weekend, when we were kids and driving in a really little car.  My folks, quite obviously in the front seats.  And Albert, Katrine and I, plus a friggin guitar, sharing cramped quarters in the back.  However, in true Von Trapp family style, we always managed to turn it into a fun adventure.  Even a long car trip.  All of us singing along to Beatles or Rolling Stones tunes.  Even a bit of Crowded House – the flavour of the day.

Those were really good times.  Funny that only hindsight made me realise it.  At the time, I was mortified by the little car.  The uncool parents.  The nerdy brother with his guitar appendage.  The annoying little chatterbox sister – I swear she never kept quiet.  Even for a minute.  For about fifteen years.  True story.

But here’s the thing – whilst most teenagers outgrow their obsessions and fads, Albert nurtured his.  Actually the whole family did.  He was encouraged.  Applauded.  Praised.  And without too much interference with his instrument, he quite simply slogged on with his continual practicing, and he flourished.

He could mimic and copy any song, anywhere, any time.  I remember in the beginning, he would battle it out a bit.  Struggle through the chords, and try and work it out on his own.  Lots of strumming.  And yes, like any other novice guitarist, he did a fair amount of “Smoke on the water” too.  It’s like a guitarist’s rite of passage.  Everyone cuts their teeth on that tune. 

I daresay, that he could play anything instantly now.  He knows each and every string on a guitar.  Intimately.  Knows exactly how to manipulate it, to get the exact sound he requires.  Precisely when and how to hit the right note.  With an incredible mastery and knowledge.

He’s a true living testament to perseverance.  Determination.  Drive.  And incredible talent.

Hard work pays off.  But what a bonus, if the work feels like fun.  Practice brings you joy, and the sweetest melodies flow forth from your efforts.

Yip, my brother plays a little guitar.  Like a boss.

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

I miss the old school holidays

I miss the old school holidays
20 July 2014

I really miss the old school holidays.  When my kids were really little.

Especially the winter ones.  Cause winter holidays are awesome!

My work is seasonal, which means I’m busy mainly in summer.  Summer school holidays are busy, busy, busy for me with work.  And a constantly ringing phone, thanks to work.  Which I’m of course grateful for.  Also summer holidays mean Christmas and loads of outside activities and things with the kids.  We do family and friend get-togethers, and life in generals happens at a much faster pace in summer.  Days are hotter, and seem to last forever.  Jam-packed with millions of things.  Fun, but busy none the less.

But winter?  Well, winter and Jumping Castles don’t always gel that well.  And so while I do have rentals, the numbers decrease largely.  And I don’t experience that summer rush and craziness, where my house and my garage occasionally feels a bit like a busy train station, with people coming and going the whole time.

And therefore winter holidays, are traditionally actually my best.  The kids and I hole ourselves up.  We indulge in movie fests, gorge ourselves on popcorn and snacks, constantly munch on delicious winter fruits like oranges and naartjies, sleep later than normal, and generally just recharge our batteries.  The little kids make forts and camp under the dining room table.  Or we make a huge big bed with mattresses on the floor in the lounge.  We usually go to my mom in Tulbagh for a night or two, and the family holiday house in Kleinbaai as well.  And if I can’t get away, the kids go solo with the rest of the family.  Sometimes inviting a friend along for extra company and fun.

Puzzle building on a grand scale is the order of the day.  Baking with my Berry in the kitchen happens a fair amount of time.  The kids all have friends over, or they go to friends.  And then there is also always some or other holiday craft project on the go.  Something the younger kids and I really enjoy.  At sixteen Luke frowns upon enforced family time and holiday activities, and so he’s often on the periphery.  Joining in, when and if the mood strikes him. 

But this holiday was decidedly different.  Rather odd in fact.  For one, I had a whole lot of work, that took up a whole lot of time.  Paid crafting and admin work, which I really enjoyed.  And thus I was house bound.  There was no family holiday house get-together.  And my mom and the band went up to Grahamstown for the festival, and hence she wasn’t home much either.  We battled to coordinate a proper sleepover visit.  Though Luke did manage two nights with my brother on the farm in Tulbagh.  In addition, Grant had lots of work trips away.

Also, for a spot of fun, my darling Amber-Berry will be performing in an upcoming dancing show.  And hence we’ve had dancing rehearsals up to twice a day, with her dancing for 3 hours some days.  Poor chicken!  Mostly I had to drive her to and from dancing twice a day, as the break between lessons, was too long.  Then there were countless trips to the fabric shops, as costume making was stepped up a notch.  Luckily I don’t sew, so there was that.  But there were countless trips to the dressmaker for fittings too.  And annoying little things, like a specific mask, only from this shops.  And a black zip, only from that shop.  Black hot pants, only found there, and white boob tube only found here.  Since the last winter holiday, my darling Luke, has also discovered the gym, and so gym sessions featured largely.  Much to my delight, my darling Cole, took part in the holiday club, so that took care of 3 holiday mornings, where he had loads of fun.  All in all busy time for everyone.

The bottom line though is this – Mom’s Taxi never really had a break.  It actually felt like she went into overdrive.

And so, rather than the conventional winter holiday break, where we all just lounged about, we did this – we danced, we gymmed, we holiday-clubbed, we crafted, we admin’d, we had friends over lots, we went to friends lots, we had the odd outing, we movie-fested, we popcorned, we baked, we Madiba-Day’d, we had family days, we had cousins sleep over loads, we had the in-between-relaxing-weekend-day too, we watched lots of soccer, we cheered, we watched many-a-series-on-TV, we ate waffles, we spring-cleaned (a very little bit), we slept later than normal.

We had fun.

I really miss the old school holidays.  When the pace was less frenetic.  Yet somehow, this holiday was really good too.

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Friday, 18 July 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Blog!!!


Happy 2nd Birthday Blog!!!
18 July 2014

And just like that, my baby is a toddler.  At two years old, my blog is gaining feet.  Walking.  Occasionally, even bursting into a sprint.  Arms spread out wide.  Joyfully embracing the world.

Happy, Happy Birthday to my much beloved blog.  What an incredible, and unforgettable journey I started on the 18th of July 2012.  One I never imagined would lead me here.

Two years, 533 stories, 233 037 views, and 2 123 843 google hits later.

But those are just numbers.  Quantifiable.  But numbers none the less.

The personal growth for me has far exceeded that.  In leaps and bounds.  Unmeasurable ways. 

I’ve always had a conscience and a sense of self awareness.  Of the influence one can have on others.  How positivity, can cultivate positivity.  How what you give, is more important, than what you get back.  The value of chronicling your life and experiences, so that you can remember.  Not just the extraordinary.  But the very ordinary, special-because-of-their-very-mundane-normality days too.  The speed with which my children’s childhood is whizzing past.  The importance of commemorating events.  Of rejoicing in the small things in life.  Because the truth of the matter, is that they’re actually the big things in life.

And the blog has highlighted all of this for me.  In beautiful, amazing, bright and brilliant techni-colour. 

Giving me both a microscope at times, to analise things intently, and the hazy comfort of stepping back and seeing the bigger picture at other times.

What a wonderful, marvellous, incredible gift.

Looking back at old stories, I am so grateful for the gift of descriptive words.  Because without them, those special little stories would get lost.  You think you will remember them.  But you won’t.  It gets hazy.  And eventually, it just gets lost.

And thus, perhaps my greatest gift of all, has been a selfish one.  To me.  From me.

My writing. 

My creative outlet.  My voice.  My space to indulge in my odd sense of humour.  To appreciate the quirky side of life.  To be able to see the funny in everyday ordinary things, that might otherwise drive me batty.  A platform for me to express myself and process that which I see around me.  To try and make sense of it all.

And for me, an exceptionally and remarkably unperceptive person, the reward I’ve gotten back, has been life changing.  The gift of really thinking about things.  Of looking deeper.  Seeing further.  Of perhaps becoming more perceptive. 

I don’t know if it was lurking there the whole time already.  Maybe.  And perhaps all that was needed was to tap into that ability.  Cause to be fair, I never really knew I could write either.  And that once I started writing, it would be so ridiculously easy.  So fun.  Each story, like going on a marvellous adventure or trip.  Without the tedious and boring packing of luggage.  Or going for vaccine shots.  Exploring along the way.  Bursting forth with speed and fervour.  Never tough to write.  Never laborious or dull. 

I celebrate the opportunity the blog has given me to archive my children’s lives through their very own words and actions.  Their stories and adventures.  And mine on the side lines.

Thanx to those of you, who’ve joined me on this journey.  For the likes, the comments, the shares, and the connecting.  The kind words in person.  The encouragement and appreciation.  But mostly for the reading.  For listening with your eyes, through my words.

It’s been amazeballs!  And I look forward to the next exciting chapter. 
When my blog is 2 years and 1 day old…

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Just an average Lombard get-together

Just an average Lombard get-together
15 July 2014

So what to do when a cousin comes down from Joburg for a week?  Well, have a get-together of course.  What else?

My lovely cousin Maria, or Mia as she’s known to most of us, graced us with her presence for a weeklong visit to the fairest Cape.  How lucky are we.

As a fairly legitimate reason to have a family get-together, it was ideal.  However we are known for throwing random family get-togethers for no apparent reason either.  We’re weird like that.

Even a small hang-out, that not everyone is able to attend, makes for a huge amount of people.  And thus, we indulge in the standard practice of bring whatever and we’ll share.  Making a virtual smorgasbord of food, where everything is fair play.

I love days like these.  There are always pockets of people everywhere.  Youngest kids, playing with a ball in the garden.  Teenage kids, huddled over a screen, either watching funny YouTube clips, or showing off something else on the computer or TV.  Huge guffaws of laughter all the time.  Random chatting about whatever interests teenagers.  Sport inclined men, hovering in front of the TV, watching some or other sport.  Admonishing the constant traffic of people in front of the TV, to please move away.  Women mingling in the kitchen.  Much laughter too, whilst sorting out the meal, and chatting up a storm as well.

However, this shifts all of the time.  People interchanging and connecting.  Across age barriers.  And on this occasion, we had four generations.  Pretty standard fair.

Laughter usually forms a common thread, as well as the all-pervasive air of love and family.  I think it is rare for such a large group of blood relatives and relatives by marriage to enjoy one another’s company so much.  To get genuine enjoyment from the presence of others.  Everyone is accepted and celebrated for who they are.  It’s just the most relaxing, and easy feeling of comfort being around these people.  Like slipping into a pair of comfy pajamas at the end of the day.  You can say anything, do anything.  Just be yourself.

Knowing you’re loved, cared for, and accepted simply for being you.

No stress, no tension, no rivalry, no problem.

I had the most incredible stroke of good luck, when I chose this family to be mine.  I could’ve been stuck with a bunch of uptight duds.  Perish the thought!

And so on our family day, we ate.  We laughed.  We chatted.  We scrambled for the best spot in front of the fireplace.  We took photos.  We ate some more – pudding too!  We shared stories. 

We embraced.

And we loved.

Lombard for life and damn proud of it too.

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A mix of gals in the kitchen - milling about

Cousins Elaine (left) and Mia (right)

Admiring the beautiful photo's on the covered outside stoep

Some of the gals

The womenfolk, from left to right - Charmaine, Elaine, Mia, Alex, Katrine, my mom (Maggie), Ouma Helene, Moi, Amber and little Honeypot in the front

The leeetle gal cousins, though technically, Amber and Honey are the daughters of cousins, and our lovely Alex is a cousin's husband's daughter from his second marriage - which bizarrely still makes her a Lombard. There is no escaping it.

Now just the gal cousins and their offspring

Gal cousins some more

The older gals - my aunt, Charmaine, my gran, Ouma Helene, and my mom, Maggie

Somehow Katrine and I qualify as both younger (wishful thinking) and older (more appropriate) gals

Having a laugh

My decided to aim for a Lombard cousin photo - and it didn't take long, for someone to haul out the big life size Levi's poster of Albert. Well, just because he wasn't there, didn't mean he couldn't be in the photo.

And then we all decided to face the same way as him, with big wide open smiles and laughs. We thought we were particularly funny.

Still, we thought we were funny

It was but a short leap from there... It just takes one warped mind.

And all of a sudden, my brother was sporting black stockings and a mean pair of red boots

He sure loved those boots!

Practically put a swing in his step!

Elaine stepping forward to try and admire her legwork

And then, seeing as the whole leggings look was working so well for Al, he decided to change into a pair of grey leggings, with an awesome pair of black boots. Well, to boot.

And then it was my turn. It takes a fair level of skill to match the real legs with the not-so-real legs. It's all about perfect alignment.

And I happily succeeded. It practically made me burst forth into a skip!

And just randomly hang around. Looking to my left. With two sets of hands.

Even The Pot had a go

Chilling around inside. That would be my man, with his hand on my sister's...hip? Arse? Thigh? Never mind. They're practically siblings too.

Katrine was a knobbly-kneed 10 year old when Grant and I started dating. And they have a very, very special bond. Mutual adoration and lots of love.

Amber-Berry and Pottie. Hogging the fire!

Willem and Charmaine - our charming Lombard hosts. Absolutely adore them! Such amazing, special people.

Cousin best friends - Mia and Elaine

The boy cousins