Wednesday, 7 March 2012

When the bad guys come

As we're sitting down for dinner tonight, Brett calls, from the States. He's just had a message from our security company to say that the panic button at the property we're renovating for offices has just been pushed. Yay international roaming. So up my father in law dashes, tearing up to the other house to meet the security company. Happily he returns fairly quickly, the builders who are living on the site saw some people showing a little too much interest in what was going on.

Cue the dinner conversation, which now revolves around what's happened, starting with discussions about what the security passwords are for our home and for the other property. 

I check with Thandi that she knows that if there's a problem and she's being threatened, that she must give a fake password if the security company responds to an alarm. That way, the bad guys will think that she's told the security company that she's fine, but she's really told them to come quickly. 

"I'll also give a fake password, Mom, " says Daniel. "Which one shall I use?" 

My shattered nerves. Literally. Such frogs in warming water we are. 

Touch wood quickly, we have not been threatened on our property. We had a break-in five years ago, but no-body was home, so the bastards took what they wanted, and nobody was harmed. But our neighbor was held up in June last year, and then of course there was the helicopter manhunt for the hijackers that hid in a roof up the road from us late last year. And the small fact that the office property was pretty much stripped of anything metal in January.  So, as with pretty much anyone who lives in Joburg, we are aware of security. All the time. 

There's a part of me that thinks we should have a security drill, a how-to list of what to do if bad guys get into the house when we're home. Where to run, where to hide, what to do, what passwords to give or not give. 

And then I think. What. The. Fuck. (sorry if your'e reading this, Mom). Really? Why should I have to? Why should I have to drill my children on what to do if the bad guys come? Why should my children have to worry about the bad guys being so close? They're not stupid - they notice when I drive around the block if there's someone near our driveway when I get home - and they ask why I'm taking the long way home. What can I do but tell them? Why should they have to live behind what are effectively jail bars, behind electric fences, in fear of the bad guys.Why should they have to worry about security passwords? 

Because there are a lot of bad guys out there. And the pessimist (realist) in me has this nagging voice that it's just a matter of time until we become a statistic again - and that next time we might not be so lucky as to just have our stuff stolen. (And how sad a statement is that)

And it's in those moments that the "but the climate is fantastic" arguments just don't hold so much water any more. Neither do the "I couldn't do without staff" arguments. Because I don't know how I would live myself if my choice of weather or my refusal to wash floors meant that the lives of my family were endangered by the bad guys. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Still waters run deep

So, if you know me or if you've been following me here for a while, you'll remember a tragedy that struck on 18 July 2010. You'll also remember how my precious boy processed it all at the time.  And there I was, thinking it was all done and dusted and dealt with. After all, Daniel had just turned five when it all happened, and he seemed to have sorted it all out for himself. I didn't think the reality of it all was still a part of his memory. Seems I was wrong. 

My boys have both been Star Wars obsessed of late. We haven't let them watch Episode 3 yet, what with Anakin trawling through the fires of hell to become Darth Vader and all, but we've let them watch the other episodes. This evening, I was sitting doing his reading homework with him, and all of a sudden, he started sobbing. 

I asked what was wrong. " Yoda died!" he cried out, sobbing. "He was sick and he died and I loved him so much!" Cue explanation that Yoda is just part of a story, along with a deeper understanding that this clearly is his mother's child - I also cry in movies. Even when there's really nothing to cry about. But this isn't about me. 

I also explained, ever so gently, that we all try to live as long as we can, but we all have to die sometime. I explained that even though my dad died before Daniel was born, I still carry him in my heart, and I think of him every day. Cue more tears. "I think of Rogan every day, Mom. And I still miss him so much." 

Sjoe. How to deal with that one - when I thought it was all so sorted, and when I, the grownup, had so much difficulty working through it at the time. So, we spoke again about how Rogan and Milla and Monica are still in our hearts, and we think of them every day. We spoke about how Grandpa was sick and in pain, and how even though we miss him every single day, we know that he is much more comfortable where he is now. And we spoke about how Yoda must surely have been tired after fighting the Dark Side of the Force for more than 900 years, and he probably really needed a rest. And that how it's ok to talk about it when we feel sad, and that it's ok to miss the people that aren't with us any more. 

These little people grow up so quickly, and see and feel much more than we realise. I did what I could - I listened, tried to comfort him, tried to support him. 

And then I bought him a Magnum, because chocolate and ice cream go a long way towards fixing what's wrong. And it was right after that when I realised that parenting experts and dietitians would castigate me for introducing comfort eating at such a young age. 

But you know what? I don't care. My boy was sad, we spoke about it all properly, and we needed to get past the crying. Broccoli and magic mince wasn't doing the job that I know ice cream would. 

Friday, 2 March 2012


One of my favorite blogs is written by Lisa-Jo, whose heart is between two countries, and whose talent with words humbles me. Every Friday, she challenges her readers to write for five minutes flat on a subject of her choice - unedited, unfiltered, just your thoughts put down in five minutes. "Ache" is this week's theme.

My husband travels, a lot, for business. He has always travelled - it was part of the package when we met nearly 10 years ago. Sometimes he's away for a few days, this time he's away for three weeks.

I'm used to him being away, I'm comfortable in my own strength that I can cope without him. Things happen, the house is run, the boys are loved and taken care of. I can do it by myself, nomessnofuss.

But when he's away I ache at his absence. I miss the solid foundation that he is for me. I miss his smile, I miss the twinkle in his eye, I miss how he looks at me. I miss his arms around me, I miss him holding me tight to him in that last-minute morning snuggle.

I am proud of his achievements, and am proud of the reasons he gets invited away on press trips. But there's a part of me missing when he's gone - so much so that a good and perceptive friend can look at me and tell that he's away.

I know I'm stronger than that, I know I am a completely capable, strong and well sorted person. But when the love of my life is away, in another city, on another continent, for a day or a week or several, I ache for him to be back home with me, where he belongs.

The Cheesecake of Goodness

Here's a funny thing - my friend Candice contacted me today because she was convinced that my cheesecake recipe was on my blog... but she couldn't find my blog (because I changed its name). The funny thing - the recipe isn't on her (yet), and she was looking for it to make ahead of her 15 year matric reunion. Because she won't have time on Saturday, because she's going to a workshop about how to begin thinking about how to possibly cope with twins. Because yes, Candice is expecting twins in June (probably late May). Perhaps this cheesecake should henceforth be known as the Twins' Cheesecake, although I originally got the recipe from AussieKris.

So... here goes...

Grease a 20cm springform tin. Make a biscuit base by whizzing one packet of EITHER Nuttikrusts, Chockits or Tennis biscuits with some melted butter. Refrigerate. 

2 tubs of smooth cream cheese
2 x 250ml containers of sour cream
3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar (or more if you want it sweeter)
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
Juice and zest of one lemon

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees C. Mix all the other ingredients together in a Kenwood or similar, beating until smooth. Pour into the crusted tin, and put the tin into a roasting pan. Create a bath in the roasting pan by pouring water to go about halfway up the side of the tin. Put the roasting pan into the oven, and bake until the middle has set - this could be up to an hour, depending on your oven. You don't have to do the water bath, but it prevents the top of the cheesecake from cracking. 
Once the cheesecake is cooked, lift it out of the water bath, and allow to cool. Remove from the tin just before serving, and finish off with fresh berries or chocolate shavings or whatever bit of decadence takes your fancy!