The flower of human rights – an unlikely combination

There is a public holiday in South Africa today – Human Rights Day. A worthy celebration if ever there was one – the right to sustenance, employment, political freedom, safety, quality of life etc

Yet, (despite being especially proud of our piece of the planet) I look with a jaundiced eye at our own failings and those around the world – war, famine, poverty, discrimation, intolerance and while heaping praise on everybody that continues to fight the good fight and struggle uphill, unceasingly, I’m a little uncelebratory today!

Instead, on a selfish note, I’ve turned my focus back to our time away. The KZN Drakensberg is not known for its floral splendour – the harsh conditions are not condusive to blowsy splendour yet if you look a little closer you will find beauty in the smallest detail ….

I think DH was beginning to wonder if my knees were giving out as everytime he turned around I was on my knees peering at something in the veld.

All you need is love ……

ratatata. – horse bloody twaddle. If the only pre-requisite for a successful relationship was being in love then divorce lawyers would be out of a job! Relationships require work – knock, knock *hello, hello, anybody in there*. Right now swiflty clambering down from one soap box and onto the next ……………

Valentines Day – red and pink and cupid and teddy bears and schmaltz! So in the spirit of cock – a – mamie Monday I throw a curved ball at the world – if it’s all about love (which I know is in direct contrast to my opening parry but work with me here) then why is love only celebrated once a year???? Ah hah – check mate, the prosecution rests its case without too much further comment.

Here’s a controversial thought that will send all the schmaltz producers into a veritable pink fit – celebrate the goodness every day with your words and deeds (save some trees, close some sweat shops and prevent soft toys ending up on the rubbish heap (is that just not the saddest sight 😦

I adore fresh flowers (especially roses) but on our first “valentines day” (which was a multiple decades ago) DH bought me a red silk rose. To be honest, I was a smidge disappointed but then he said “I bought you a silk rose so that it, like our love, will last forever” (good save you might say)….it’s entwined around my kitchen calendar – it makes me smile and when I want “real” roses I buy my own!

How much heartache because you didn’t get a card or flowers, or a squishy toy on 14 February – phooey! Personally I’d rather an sms in the middle of the day, a skype message in the afternoon or a warm smile when I open my eyes. Besides have you noticed the stratospheric prices – a friend of mine is in the “business” (she’s a real sweetheart despite this epic failing in choice of profession) and everything gets escalated by 200% in most cases.

DH and I do like a bit of romance though and we have a pair of “lovebirds” in the garden. Yesterday a tortured whisper of “darling, Slinky has a girl – bring your camera” had me haring upstairs to peek. Ahem, people of the world meet “Slinky” a striped skink that lives inside the iron clad decorative guinea fowl in the garden and likes to sunbathe

He’s a bit of a poser is our boy 😉 

and this (we think) is his girl (currently nameless).

She’s also quite shy and retiring (this was as close as I was “allowed” to get before she skedaddled into the ferns).

Then again, I suppose, it could of course be the other way around ……. hmmm no matter as sexing a lizard is not my forte and not a skill I care to cultivate any time soon!

The afterlife

(All my personal opinion – no insult intended – just a thought.)

Do you think about the hereafter? Irrespective of your religious inclinations (or not) do you ever ponder the prospect of life after death? If you’re a Christian (like me), the whole heaven and hell thing is apparently what lies ahead. One would deem it safe to assume that in heaven it’s all moonlight and roses, everybody gets along, there’s no poverty or crime or war or hunger – utopia. The thought did cross my mind though that does utopia exist because all residents are in spiritual, ethereal form and the thus there’s no wing size envy or covetous desire of somebody else’s better fitting robe?

In fact most religions seem to believe in the afterlife in some shape or form with a liberal dose of reincarnation thrown in for good measure depending which way you lean (Wikipedia has quite an extensive write up here if you’re interested). The thing is if you’re a big bang theorist then what’s the deal? When you pass on do you decay and go back to forming part of the earth again – which has a distinct religious hook to it? 

Alternatively, do I really care what happens when I depart this mortal coil? When I’m dust, ash or anything in between will it really matter what part of the cosmos I inhabit. This metaphysical, philosophical internal debate happened while pounding the pavements last night after work. Perhaps it was the most spectacular sunset to grace the skies for quite some time, perhaps it was an overdose of sweat and heavy breathing – whatever the reason, my conclusion is that the hereafter can look after itself, the here and now needs my full attention and (on most days) it’s a whole lot of not too shabby!

                                                          (The parking lot is is bloom)

Living in South Africa

My Kiwi sister-in-law asked me a few days ago, “aren’t you afraid to still live in South Africa? The rate of crime and especially violent crime is so terribly high.”

To be honest, it’s not something that’s in the forefront of my mind everyday like some malevolant toad but after some thought, let me say this:-

~Yes, we have crime.

~Yes, we have have a comparatively high percentage of violent crime.

~ Am I afraid to live – not in the slightest. I am, however, very aware of my surroundings – where I am and who’s around me. I am vigilant but not to the point of paranoia.

~Yes, my home is secured against intrusion (as best possible). No, we dont have attack dogs!

~ Yes, I would love to be able to go for a walk at night and not lock my doors but the phrase “asking for trouble” is not one I want to get used to.

~ We live on a continent that is rife with political upheaval, poverty, corruption and unemployment: all manner of people plagues yet the people are also the life blood and the hope.

~ Don’t ignore, but look beyond the ugliness to the citizens that are inexorably bound to this topsy, turvy land. Mostly good, mostly hard-working, struggling to survive in a fragile economy. The concept of ubuntu still has meaning.

~Is living in South Africa easy ? – No

~ Is living in South Africa worth the trouble ? – Oh yes, every day.

Footnote

One of our country’s celebrated author’s Alan Paton penned a marvellous book “Cry, the beloved country” – a highschool set work for many of my generation. It’s a superb piece brimming with anecodotes and memorable quotes. One that has stuck with me over the years and has vague relevance to my ramblings today goes like this:-

“Sorrow is better than fear. Fear is a journey, a terrible journey. But, sorrow is at least an arriving. ”
Alan Paton

“If tomorrow never comes”

In the dulcet tones of Ronan Keating.

Have you had a good long look at the concept of “what if tomorrow never comes” – will those that are nearest and dearest to you know “how much you love them”? With the latest onslaught of in-law issues – my FIL’s pneumonia and my MIL’s now officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s (big surprise – not!) there was a delegation at their house on Saturday night. My SIL has come haring out from New Zealand, my BIL was down from White River and us of course (being only 5 minutes up the road). Our phone has been going non-stop with the other two overseas siblings – questions, answers, “advice”, and instruction … ad nauseum!

They are normally not a close family (no humungous reason that I’m aware of) and the most poignant part of Saturday night was this sudden outpouring of care and concern because of the current situation. In a way, if blame were being apportioned, my in-laws would have to shoulder a large chunk thereof. As parents, the most uncaring and unconcerned people I’ve come across in a long time – you know the kind where “I’m the parent, you’re the child so you owe me”. It has, as expected, bitten them hard with most visits (from all the children) being a duty thing and not a genuine desire. You could argue and say that any concern is good concern whatever the spark is. I would argue that and say envisage a scenario where there was no long term illness and they both passed without warning (for example a car accident) – would DH’s siblings have been overwhelmed with the what if scenario and I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve? Guilt, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions – if you’re distant that’s ok if you’ve made your peace with it but if you’re distant because you can’t be bothered then you’ve taken the lid of Pandora’s box and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

The point of this rambling is this – tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your family, tell your friends (if it’s the way you feel) that you love them / care for them / wish them only well. Tell them today – it may feel a little weird, they’re may think you’re a little off but let their most recent memory of you be positive. If you’re having a fight and you don’t want any more verbal exchange, tell them electronically! DH and I are very close with my parents who are both in their late 70’s/early 80’s and chatting to a friend of mine the other day about loss and that sort of thing she remarked on how devastating it would be for me when my parents pass away. She was, I think, somewhat taken aback when my answer was contradictory. Obviously I’ll be sad but I’m so very grateful to have had a steadfast, reliable, nurturing relationship with people who tell me they love me every time we communicate.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ” ~Stephen Levine

PS. A quick confession – trolling through my blog looking for something else I came across a very similar post that I wrote in April last year – identical title, different circumstances and slightly different content :O Deja vu of epic proportions – so apologies to anyone who may have thought – hey, she’s already done that!

Is your glass half full or half empty?

I’m routinely a half full exponent (which does conjure up all manner of alcohol related anecdotes none of which have any relevance here so moving swiftly on!) However there are days where the finely-crafted crystal goblet of life seems to have a permanent leak!

Let me expand on my theory:-

Scenario 1 – the drive to work

Your burst onto the motorway, full of vim and vigour, raring to get to the office (or not, completely the opposite – whatever, you’re on the road!) One sandal clad foot teeters towards the accelerator and is firmly brought under control by the following manifestation in your line of sight. Left lane – two middle-aged women, yapping (involved hands) and obviously with all day to arrive at the gym/tennis club/coffee shop and hence an average speed of 2. Right lane – articulated truck trying to overtake, driver on mobile phone to boot. Would like to do 120, 2000 tons vehicle, logistically not possible – he doesn’t care, average speed 2.

Scenario 2 – the work day

Twelve seconds ago they all worked – computer, printer, land line phone, mobile. Now any combination thereof has decided to strike, no warning, no negotiation – a simple case of I’m going to down tools and bugger you if you need me to complete a critical task. I don’t give a jot, so there!

Scenario 3 – the grocery store

Most womens least favourite venue for retail therapy but you have to eat and therefore our daily wonder through the aisles (what, you buy in advance for the week!) I shop at odd hours because of my work schedule which usually means empty aisles but every so now and again you come gambolling around the corner to find ……….

Two trolleys horizontally placed to create an impenetrable barrier. Critically important to note that these have not been abandoned and thus cannot be summarily shoved asunder – they are owned and have drivers in situ! I have the utmost empathy for the need to chat, I’m a girl – I get it. I could also go down two aisles and across three to get what i want which is just behind you but I may not want to. After negotiating the aisle accident and thinly veiled barbed stares you arrive at the till. That “special” buy two get one free ………. the techno fairy hasn’t tweaked the computer!

Aftermath – so much heavy breathing and counting to ten, shares in a paper bag factory would have quadrupled.

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society.  The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”  ~Gil Stern

My “best” thinking …………

is done in the shower. For yours truly no zen retreat or mountain hideaway, the humble shower is the wellspring of tumultuous inspiration. The only problem with this liquid enviroment is that there is never any functional writing material at hand to preserve these fleeting nuances.

That said, one thought that did linger long enough to be grasped between thumb and forefinger is that of the concept “how important is it to be friends with your husband?”

Perhaps its an age thing or even more mundanely the time of year but I find myself in flux, in a constant state of review and observation. As always my frame of reference is my own marriage and my opinions are in no way intended to be judgemental. DH and I are so very alike and yet in the ultimate cliche’ so very different. There are days when I’d like to figuratively crown him, days when he vexes me so much that I question my mental capacity when we tied the knot (Rita Rudner always makes me chuckle …….. “I love being married – its so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life”)  and I’m sure the same applies to him. Yet despite the run of the mill ups and downs we have a genuine affinity for each other.

I firmly believe that the importance of being friends in a marriage cannot be over emphasised and would perhaps even go as far as saying it should be the number one priority. When the sweet and frothy has turned wishy washy and the horizontal mambo has turned into a soft shoe shuffle, what’s the next step if you dont like each other. To clarify, a million miles from the “soul mate” horse twaddle which goes hand in hand with the pink and pretty.

I’m aiming for plain and simple:- 

Do you want to spend time together and do you like to spend time together?