a lot of cat around here

Jessie and Choco are now 15 and 14 respectively. Jessie is the one with the frangipani blossom in her hair, and Choco is her daughter:

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This pic was taken about 18 months ago, before they underwent the double trauma of moving home and finding a dog already in it. The dog has since been re-homed but the cats have made it clear that their memories are long and I will never ever be forgiven.

Enter Edward. He is a gift from me to my mother, and is now about 10 weeks old although he still seems almost impossibly tiny and bony. Next to the sturdy, overweight matrons pictured above, I suppose any kitten would seem that way. It’s hard to get an unblurred picture of him when he’s awake because he moves so fast, so here he is all konked out after the excitement of whatever it was he was previously doing.

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And below, sitting on the steps outside my workroom, is the neighbour’s black and white cat. He/she has begun visiting quite a lot since Tess-dog moved out and, while my fat girls got on perfectly well with the neighbours’ cats when we were living at Linden Park, they cannot stand this intruder. There was a nasty fight on the patio earlier this morning, with fur flying in all directions to the accompaniment of angry cat-screams. Most unpleasant.

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And last but not least, here is a gorgeous, happy and cute one-dimensional cowgirl cat on the birthday card I received from Colorado last week. Much more manageable than the real live ones!

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I hope I’m not going to become one of those weird cat ladies in my old age. But after the events of 2017, both personal and political, we can’t rule anything out…

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All malled out

The ten-day Made in the Cape artisan market ended on Sunday. It was a big success on all levels, but exhausting — obviously to be expected, and this is not a complaint, but I hadn’t anticipated the draining effect that ten days (eleven hours each) in a busy shopping mall would have on me. You may or may not know this about me, but I am not a shopping-mall kind of gal. I will go to one of the smaller ones if necessary but far prefer to stick to my local shops down in Rondebosch village. The post office is also there, and the library, and a superb barista, and the bank. And there’s always parking.

Anyway, hard work never killed anyone and I’ve had three follow-up orders already, so there is also a good long-term effect of being on show, as it were. The patchwork cushions were especially popular.

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We also had some drama! A woman had had her cell phone taken out of her handbag as she was coming down the escalator closest to me. The thief ran past my table and slid the phone in between a pile of my cushions. This was captured on cctv so within seconds I had a swarm of security guards “helping” me go through all my stock. We searched in vain, which made no sense, so I suggested that she had probably had an accomplice who had retrieved the phone very quickly and made off with it in a different direction. Further cctv footage proved me right, and a ring of four women was eventually caught and arrested.

I was reminded of something in one of Ben Trovato‘s priceless blog posts about shopping malls and holiday crowds:

And remember that even though pickpocketing and purse-snatching is considered quaint and old school in this glamorous age of state capture, the pilferers and purloiners are still out there practising their ancient craft. Fleet of foot and nimble of finger, not for them the tedious complexities of tender rigging and money laundering. Handbags are their thing. This is why women should keep a small explosive device in their bag at all times. If the bag is stolen, they can detonate it with a remote control. This will not only teach the thief a valuable lesson but will also help thin out the crowds in the mall. 

So, be alert and keep your handbags zipped up tight !

sometimes my tongue bleeds when I have to bite it too hard…

Two weeks ago a woman at my regular craft market ordered two sets of pillowcases from me, with a particular placement of leaves in a particular colour. She drew the design in my notebook and also wrote down her first name and cell number.

Leaves 4

A few days later, when it was leaf-printing time, I looked at her sketch and realised she’d sketched 3 leaves on one side and 2 on the other, which didn’t correspond with what she’d said she wanted. So I sent her an sms. No reply. Two days later, another sms. Still no reply. Tried calling, left voicemail, no response. I received no failed-sms message either. She hadn’t given me her surname so I also couldn’t look up her landline in the phone directory.

I figured that, if I’d gone ahead and printed three leaves, the chances are she would only have wanted two, and vice versa. So when she arrived to collect her pillow cases, I explained. She instantly became really really angry and starting yelling about “already having confirmed the order” and clearly I made a mistake with her cell number. Well. I do not like being shouted at and never ever treat anybody that way myself, so I expect civility from others in return – or at the very least not a raised voice. I showed her the page in the notebook where she had done her stupid drawing and scribbled a cell number that bore little relation to the correct one (as it turned out), gave her a long stony look and then bit down really really hard on my tongue…  She stomped off, with my strong wish in hot pursuit that her jeans would suddenly split open at the back.

[hashtag: customer_not_always_right!]

gratitude, and forward-looking

For a few months now I’ve been writing down three things for which I have reason to be grateful, every evening in a little notebook next to my bed. I keep a special fountain pen with the notebook for this purpose. If I miss an evening, then I do it the next morning. And more often than not, the list consists of more than three items! I know that lots of people do this, and it has certainly proved very worthwhile for me – it has helped me to focus on the positive rather than the negative, and also to be more aware of so many things I used to take for granted. Sometimes they are Big Things (eg. my health, or my daughter writing a successful exam), sometimes Smaller Things (eg. an hour of rain, or a coffee visit from an old friend), and sometimes Really Small Things (eg. finding a bar of chocolate I’d stashed away in my underwear drawer and then forgotten about).

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I’ve just jotted down my current three things (I didn’t last night because I was struck by an urge to draft a “poem” à la Dr Seuss instead – I have no idea why, but I went with it anyway….) (and no, I won’t be reprinting the result here! – it’s even more pathetic in the harsh light of day) and then something struck me: I CAN MAKE TWO LISTS –  one for the gratitude stuff, and one for the looking-forward-to stuff. I suppose I could include things-to-look-forward-to on the gratitude list but I’d prefer to keep that for current / existing circumstances. The LFT list will be about things coming my way in the future that I anticipate will be nice!

So, here’s my first LFT for public viewing: (1) a short holiday after Christmas with a close friend to visit some of her family from overseas; (2) the income generated from my selling endeavours over the November/December markets (much needed right now!); (3) tickets for Mozart’s The Magic Flute and the production of King Kong in the next couple of weeks with a particular person whose company I love.

Have you ever made a Looking-Forward-To list? Anyone else think it’s a good idea?

currying flavour

The title of this post should really be, How to Make a Balls-Up of a Perfectly Good Recipe that Other People have been Following for Years with Total Success.

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This recipe comes from the lovely book that Kathryn sent me from Colorado last year, when I acquired a slow cooker and tried to embrace a more domestic persona.

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On the spice side, it calls for curry powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Oh yay I already had all those ingredients! And more – I also found tumeric, a packet of curry leaves and some chili flakes. May as well use them up, too, right?

Mistake #1: Don’t think you know better than the person who wrote the recipe. If you start chucking in any old thing that you come across in your spice rack, you will destroy the delicate balance of North African flavours that the dish is supposed to be about.

Mistake #2: Take the quantities seriously. If the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of curry powder, do not simply open the jar and vigorously shake the powder all over the meat and onions. The same goes for the paprika and the cumin and the chili flakes. Once it’s in and cooking, it’s impossible to get it out later.

Mistake #3: When you buy your curry powder straight from Priscilla (the lovely Indian woman from Durban who makes her own and then travels round the country selling it directly from the back of her van because it’s so popular), you’d better know that it is The Real Thing, not some watered-down mild version from the supermarket. If you use too much and then eat the food, you will die. Okay, you won’t actually die but you will be wishing that death would come because the physical agony of consuming a massively over-curried mouthful of food is sheer torture.

I prepared this early on Friday. The aroma was so wonderful, I couldn’t wait to have a taste of my wonderful dish. By 7.00pm it was time. I spooned out some of the sauce and let it cool for a while in a cup before taking a hearty swig. By 7.06, my entire body had broken out in a very serious sweat and my mouth, nasal passages and throat had swollen up – I couldn’t even scream for help. I bounced off the walls for as long as it took for the nightmare to end (about 30 minutes!) and then managed to calm down enough to google How to Salvage your Fire Food.

One hack wasn’t enough. My food had to be rescued by using three of the remedies: 200ml of cream, 750ml plain yogurt, and a big slosh of balsamic vinegar. So, all was not lost in the end. But you know what they say – once burned, twice shy. I think I won’t try my hand at making curry again for a very long time…

by the skin of my teeth

How I do things. Don’t seem to be able to change. This calendar on the wall to the left of my desk freaks me out every time I look at it and yet…I’m still nowhere close to reaching the production targets I’d set for myself. And as you can see, December is about to hit me like a wrecking ball. (If I looked like Miley Cyrus, I probably wouldn’t mind so much.)

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Anyway, right now I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got – the last few weeks have brought some very unpleasant personal challenges, but the worst of them appears to be over so I can get focused again. Did you hear that, universe????? Good. Now please ignore me until the other side of December. Thank you in advance.

eager vegan

I made another vegan dish, based loosely on this lovely recipe from Frugal Queen but without the halloumi, celery and quinoa. It’s the rebel in me. Instead, I used extra lentils and some little white beans with black dots in the middle, a whole pack of mushrooms and also added balsamic vinegar to the dressing.

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I know — pic of homemade food + taken at night = looks like crap. But it’s actually quite tasty, and with some fresh flat-leafed parsley and the fried halloumi on top (LIKE THE RECIPE SAYS YOU IDIOT), it definitely deserves another try.

In the meantime, bon appetit.