Cows, bees, spiders, monkeys and magic

#ParadiseLife at the moment is a mixture of awe, awesomeness and awe-fulness all rolled into one. It resembles the best and the not so great of my existence here in my mountain paradise. We have had snow followed by a splendorous show of spring and apparently, as we are about to throw a mighty spring party, it is going to snow on Gaika’s kop again tonight!! This means that we will have snow hunters and flower sniffers arriving in a communal tsunami wave this weekend. Jaribaaaaaa!!!

The magic
Just to remind you (and me) of the magic of my paradise life here in Hogsback, let’s backtrack and have a quick reminder of the wonder of snow….

And to show you why you just HAVE TO make your way up to Hogsback for the #spring #hogsbackcelebrations and open gardens (last week)…..

Sooo, you  may ask, where is the awfulness in all of this? Clearly it is all so , so so fabulously awesome!! Well that brings me back to my old “favourites”…

The Bees.
The beekeepers assures me that the bees loves my cabin because it is such a happy space. And I have to say that I love my bees. Note, I even call them “my bees”. But I am absolutely gatvol of encouraging them to not squat in my house. Despite taking precautions to deter them from coming in (jeyes fluid etc etc), the stubborn little critters keep swarming back. And we even had a Bee War between different Bee warlords for the best spot in my cabin.  So now I am sitting with 3 bee hives, one in an old spot in my floorboards above Jaap’s, and 2 in new spots high up in my cabin and bedroom ceilings where I cannot get to them without breaking my neck.  And when it is super hot, like it has been this past week, they happily swarm around my lounge, buzzing  away, leaving a perpetual buzz in my brain, even when I am not around them.

My attempt to seal the hole in the roof where they were sneaking through to play in my lounge, was quite catastrophic. I ended up squirting silicone everywhere except the hole from hence they originate, including my hair, my clothes, the couch and the walls. The silicone descended like snow flakes ….EVERYWHERE. I am still peeling strips of silicone off places that I rather not mention.

The cows

Just as I reminded myself that I am so glad that the lush greenery is providing for the cows down in the valley, as I have not entertained them for a while, a whole new crew of cows came wondering over to munch and gallop across my terraces. They are tame and totally not scared of me. If I chase  them (screaming and shouting), they just move a few trots (just out of strike distance)  and then stop to meditate, munch and throw me loving cow-eye looks. I am starting to think it is God’s way of making sure that I get some exercise in between my dead-lines.

It also forced me to check out my own Ilifu garden and I am glad to report that, even though the garden has gone a bit wild and wacky, everything is in full bloom and looking quite amazing, cows and all!!

The monkeys (and baboons)

I just returned from doing a late night cow-run and have just settled back into the comfort of my bed, when I heard the happy tap dancing of monkeys on my roof. There must be some delicacy hidden in the gutters between my bedroom and dining room as they where happily scratching and screeching on my roof.  I took a copper pot from my bedroom fireplace and flung it against the ceiling, hitting and shattering my antique lampshade on the way down. Cry. At least it had the required effect on my furry friends, with them scuttling back into the forest.

The Spiders

Spiders are fantastic. Just like bees we cannot survive without them. They eat the mosquitos, which I hate more than anything, anything, anything, so I generally do not have a gripe with them…Except when they bite me when I am leisurely sipping a fabulous fountainy gin and tonic while having a very rare midweek work break outing. Not on.

The End? 

So I am being asked all the time how I am going to get rid of the cows, the monkeys, the bees…. I don’t know. Loads of advice are forthcoming from all and sundry, on and off the mountain, but I am still waiting for the answer to present itself. In the mean time I got Justice to venture up the ladder to seal the bee hole before the heat set in again. (It has gone from 30 something degrees to huddling in front of the fireplace, in one day). Tomorrow we will have our #spring #hogsbackcelebrations with something for everyone, snow and flowers, gin and tonic, potjie and picnics, you name it we have it here…along with the birds, bees, monkeys, cows, spiders and other goggos.  Come visit, the awesomeness far outweighs the awfulness! And the awfulness is actually awe-full!!

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Home Alone

If you are hoping for Home Alone 5, this is not it. If you are feeling a fleeting Siestog, this is not it either. This is a realization of freedom and contentment that I have only now, in the middle of this reflective Pause, allowed myself to writelise , sitting in bed in my pajamas looking out into the cozy cuddly mist wafting past my bedroom window.

I have not been Home Alone much. As a matter of fact, I have not been home much really this year.

This year has been a whirlwind of busy-ness and travel to all my favourite training spaces and places with my favourite people, teachers, and my grand babies (the Boeboe Bunch and Smurfie boo). Until before this brief Pause, I could count on my one hand weekends when I did not have wonderful guests, friends and family sharing my paradise space with me. So Home Alone is kind of a foreign concept to me, one which I thought would not appeal to the social butterfly in me. I was so wrong.

Being wrong and making mistakes is starting to trend in education, as we can learn so much more from being wrong than being right. In politics and the world, living wrong has become the new right and learning from past mistakes is not PC (politically correct). So it is with surprise that I found my Home Alone Pause as feeling so right. No guilt about staying in bed. No guilt about getting back to my (new home) office to tie up loose ends. No guilt about tackling the rest of my spring cleaning spaces. No guilt about getting to go and say hi to mountain friends I have not said hi to yet. No guilt about having to have a ball. And no guilt about having this Home Alone liberating feeling all by myself. I know for a fact that there are those (who will remain nameless) who will feel envious, even resentful, of this Home Alone freedom and just for today I won’t feel guilty about this great gift.

It is always a good thing to find a Pause in which to reflect back. I can just visualize my teachers rolling their eyes as I have been forcing them to reflect, reflect , reflect (I will be collecting Memoires next year!!). What worked? What did not work? How can I improve? #Ict4red #ict4redttt #tpd4dml #life

So my reflection for this year is this: Everything worked. I worked. Hard. Everything did not work. Not all the time. That was okay too. I hope I learned. Can I improve? Of course I can. I can be a better daughter, a better sister, a better mother, a better grand mother (although I feel pretty confident about this one) and a better friend. I can moan less. Definitely moan a lot less!!! No more goat inspired meltdowns and more goat stews next year, for sure!

What stands out for me this year?

1The miracles. So many miracles. Big and small, but mainly big. My son survived a devastating crash. Friends battled and conquered the big C. The miracles of life and death. And the miracle of prayer. This year, even more than previous years, I became more aware of the miracle of prayer and God’s amazing love. Even in the middle of intense sadness and loss, God was there, with His rainbow of hope.

If I want to improve anything for next year, I would like to pray more. Spend more time Home Alone in prayer, praying for those who struggle with terrible addictions, loss, loneliness, rejection and emptiness which only God can fill. Sometimes we (I) are so busy winning over the world that we forget about spending time with God in our Home Alone spaces. Next year I am definitely going to make more Home Alone time with God.

Kitty kat is giving me that #youarenotHomeAloneiamhereandiamhungry look.Zena the kitty kat One of my things to do next year is to teach her how to make me coffee and add #selffeeding to her #selfcleaning skills. And I am also going to use less #hashtags and more #hugtags, which can only be done in real life (as opposed to virtually) and preferably in Hugsback.

So, now that I have done my reflective Home Alone Pause, let me sommer wish everybody a very blessed Christ-filled Christmas and a joyous New Year full of numerous memorable Home Alone moments!!!

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Die kat kom weer

Zena the catSo I am at it again. Trying to share my life with a little furry life-force that will bring some purr-power into my paradise home. And the darling Village People are already starting to bet on how I am going to pull this one off. I did not have such a good start. But tomorrow is another day!!!!!

Lyndsay convinced me, against my better judgement, to adopt her son’s cat due to their relocation to faraway shores. As I love my neighbour dearly and as I have been missing some furry company since my last unsuccessful attempt at furring my house, I decided to give it a go again. On condition (I am just putting it here in writing) that she will come and look after her furry grandchild when I go a-travelling.

So yesterday was the big cat fetching day. All good. Cat survived the trip up to Hogsback. Still good. We had a fantastic purry furry evening of bonding and kitty settled in at the bottom of the bed as if she has been living with me all her life. Really good. OKay she did wake me up a few times during the night attempting to go outside to go and do her business only to find that that was a no-go and had to …..eventually….settle for the sand box. All still relatively good.

Today, however,…. was a less good day. The gardener fetched the shed key and left the door open. Kitty jubilantly made a bee-line out the door and disappeared into the bushes with me in my pajamas in panicked pursuit. To no avail. Really bad actually as when I returned to my front door after an unsuccessful search party, I found that it has slammed locked and to top it all, the jail lock was on. This meant that not even getting the spare key could get me back into my house and the back door had a key in which meant that I could really not get into my house. Really really bad. Breaking into my house involved some heavy machinery and even more spectacular gymnastics, but I am glad to report that I managed to get back in before my paying guests could see me in my pajamas. I can just imagine the review on Airbnb.Zena

In the interest of ending this story on a good note, I am glad to report that as I sat in the lounge crying and praying, I looked up, and there she was, strolling in as if she just went for a gentle little forest stroll. So as the saying goes, die kat kom weer. And let’s hope that she will be staying as I am nogal looking forward to us getting old together.

I said last week that I want to start recording all the wonderful everyday miracles that God entertain me with. So, thank you Lord for my cat miracle. As I sit here writing this, Zena is editing my typing and agreeing purrily……it was a good day after all!

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The MTN grinch who stole Christmas and New year :-(

mtngrinchChristmas is a time when we all remember each other, send messages of hope, love and comedic moments as well as talk to those who we never talk to at any other time of the year, if ever. We start getting our Christmas and new year messages ready and texted-up from early on in December and failing to do that, we hook on and save the first cute text message that get send our way to send along again to everybody we know and love and hopefully remember to remove the one who send it to us and add our name to the message and so the Christmas spirit get send on and on…

With the “advent” of social media, facebook, twitter, pinterest, whatsapp, mixit etc, we are now in a position to not only share tried and trusted text messages but also colour in our messages with….where I had a silly moment….or….look at me hanging from the top of the tree….or… look at all the places I am visiting….or…..look we are sleeping…..(you know the usual exciting holiday fare).

But this year (maybe you have not even noticed which would really be tragic) the MTN Grinch stole my Christmas and New year and all the in-between happy moments that I could have happily shared with you. Not that it is the first time that this particular Grinch has tried to steal my happiness. It has happened quite a few times in the past as well. Normally when I am not at home near my landline and on the road when I really need to be mobily connected. MTN, as my service provider, has provided excellent service when I do not need it, and have efficiently managed my debit order, but the moment I need to have mobile access they make sure that they suspend it. I misguidedly thought that we use debit orders in order NOT to get suspended for non payment. Surely they manage their side of things and dip their greedy little paws into my account whenever one of their executives need to send their wife to a spa. But noooo, they like to show me who is boss by suspending me for…..I really don’t know.

This all really does not make any sense to me as they stand to make a LOT of money out of me at moments like this as I am far more likely to want to talk to everybody and their aunties when I am on holiday and far away from home. Now you may snigger and rightfully wonder why I blame the MTN Grinch for suspending me in mid-data if possibly it could propably be a case of lack of end of year after-present- buying and holiday petrol buying and over indulgence-spending-fund-up-drying. But as lack would have it, I have managed to hook my MTN account into one of my hubbies accounts (don’t tell him) that seems to have money in at all the times (and yes there have been previous occasions of Grinch like behaviour) that they have suspended my data life stream.

And yes, I have on previous occasions tried to phone their helpline and pushed their various numbers without being lucky enough to connect to human beings. If anybody can enlighten me on how to actually talk to a non machine I would be most grateful, but numbers 1 through to 4 do not seem take any non push/voice input.  And yes, I have on these previous occasions got into my car and actually driven to my esteemed service providers’ centres, I have received my number and I have sat in a random queue for an extended period of time after which I have ranted and raved and kicked my feet in the air as well as tear my hair out at petrified Grinch agents that then tried to desperately pacify my with very rational explanations……..

It is The System. The System apparently randomly decide on occasions that they need to impose a credit limit on debit order accounts instead of just sticking to debit order logic- I talk/tweet–> you debit- all very orderly. Naaaah this System is the Grinch. No talking for you, especially when you are away from home, on holiday, out in the gramadoelas sticks doing training and especially not over Christmas and New year. So what if your loved ones, 4000 friends, circles, fellow twits and pins are dying to get your inspired Christmas and new years message of hope. The Grinch will show you. Christmas and new year suspended.

Then miraculously on the 2nd it came back on. Out of the blue. Or is a case that the whole of MTN also went on a festive season break? I really don’t know and as MTN (Maggie Talk Not) can’t be reached coherantly on numbers 1, 2, 3 or 4. After pressing 1 numerous times tin Grinch voice assured me in a staccato voice that I have Zerooo data bundes left and Zerooo sms’s and  Zerooo love and peace for 2013 left, but have for the hell of it connected me again. Go figure.

So as the MTN Grinch stole Christmas and new year from me, it does not “mean” that I do not love you all dearly and would have loved to have talked and tweeted and facebook you with wonderful wishes for this wonderful year. So I will try my best to catch up with good wishes as I go along this new year and wish you ALL a happy and prosperous and blessed year. If you do not hear from me again, it might be the Grinch being slightly irritated with me again which have resulted in me being suspended yet again.


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The Sounds of the Soccer World Cup

Our Office Vuvuzela-ingThis world cup will especially be remembered for the cacophony of sounds coming, not only from screaming fans, but from our national traditional weapon, the vuvuzela. Now fight as you might if it is good on the ears or not, it is the defining sound of the Soccer World Cup 2010. Not only is the Vuvu a trending topic on Twitter, it is THE  MUST HAVE accessory for everybody that is anybody from Sandton to Soweto, from Liverpool to Australia. So if you do not have one- you are definitely not soccerturally correct. Get with it bro! Viva.

What the vuvu-objectors actually are upset about, is that they either don’t have one or don’t know how to blow. Really. The good news is that there are still plenty available at your closest street corner along with a flag and, if you are really rich or an overseas visitor with dollars, you can also acquire a makarapa to adorn you soccer attire. I must confess, doing the vuvuzela thing comes with a slight down side. You might be hearing impaired for the rest of your life, and your cheeks will be in spasm for months to come, not to mention the blisters on your lip, but what the heck- it’s our time. Its time for Africa. Viva Bafana Viva!

Which brings me to the Waka Waka. I can cope with the Waka Waka as opposed to the diski dance. Who thought that one out? Eeash. My  body wants to waka waka- I do not want to slip a diski. So if you follow Shakira’s pelvic moves- it is a complete easy-kapeasie breeze. So to get you in the mood. Here it is. (Also note, I taught the blackhead singer from Freshlyground who sings with Shakira, Kyla, Maths in highschool. That is why she is famous today. See how important maths is?)

Then there is my absolute favourite which is the flag song. I get a tear in my eye and feel if we could really change the world. Viva.

So give me the sounds of Africa, let your vuvuzelas buzz ever so loudly! Move those hips! Put on your glasses  and your Makarapas, paint your flag on your face and let’s buzzz Bafana Bafana on to viva viva and ayoba on and into the net. Bring on the sounds and spirit of Africa!!! Viva! And sommer another Ayoba as well.

Some resources to keep you going…

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Letter to telkom

After a nightmare month of struggling to get some service from Telkom, I wrote yet another e-mail to Wikus Kruger from Telkom:

Hi Wikus,

Thank you for the status update this morning that the data line will be sorted by 11 (it is now 11 and still nobody in sight). I appreaciate it that you phone so regularly to update me that nothing is going to happen. If, as you say, we will be fully operational by the weekend (a whole month after installation was supposed to have happened) I will indeed throw a rip roaring Telkom party. (A telkom party is a party where nobody arrives and nothing happens).

I just want to confirm that we still do not have hunting or maybe it is a case that due to the other lines into the switchboard not working, you cannot get a line. People phoning in report that it just rings, and we are here and not getting their calls.

So the status (after a whole month of struggle) is as follows:

* No hunting
* Still using the 0117917155 line seperate from the PABX in order to have Internet
* No data/fax line yet
* The additional line going into the PABX is still not functioning.
* We did not get a manual with our PABX and I am starting to think that we have been given a second hand one. The trainer did not have a spare manual and told me to follow it up with you.
* We are still operating on 1 phone line only.
* Our receptionist is still in the middle of the room as she cannot move her desk back till Telkom has finished. Very unprofessional.

This is very disheartening and everytime we get an update that something is going to happen, we just laugh, as nothing usually happens (hence Telkom party!). So apart form Besty moving our old existing line into the PABX, we are operating on sub standard levels here. We cannot run a business like this. This has been a whole month now- I have even stopped crying. Shocking service- what more is there to say? Maybe we should revert back to smoke signals- might prove more efficient than Telkom.

Kind regards
Maggie Verster
Ps can I have reference numbers from you for reporting all of the above?

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Poem-athon Friday

I read through Tom Barrett’s little newsletter that he compiles for his fellow teachers and was intrigued by the little tool that he introduced them to, called Write Rhymes. It helps to compile rhymes (duh) and is a very creative way to get your learners to write a poem. So I tried my hand at it and this is what I came up with……

Good morning last Friday
How did you get here?
I thought you were still far away
You sneaked up on me, that’s clear!

I still had so many things to do-
A whole month seemed so vast
But you in wisdom turned the clock
And now I am left aghast

So take me back to Monday first
So that I can try again
To pick up pieces of my life
That I lost – God knows when!

Very rudimentary and the list of rhyming words did not always inspire me, but it made me think. So this little tool get’s the thumbs up form me. Why don’t you give it a try and let me know (or post below) some rhymes???

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The Blue Bulls Crusade

bloubulleAs you all know ,we have made it to the finals of the Super 14. Jipee- jippee yaah!! I have no nails left, no voice, and I am so de-hydrated from all the biltong and boerewors that I will need an intravenous tequila drip to restore essential liquid loss. Thank goodness that “my bloed is blou” otherwise I would have shrivelled up and dried! It is also good to notice that “ons almal se bloed is nou blou” as die-hard shark, stormer and cheetah supporters add their voice to our path of destruction!

And no, after being able to help my team along at the field, I am sad to report that we did not acquire any tickets for the final. We had it all set up. I was the “control room” from where all ticket communications were co-ordinated via twitter, skype, sms and phone. I set up my sms service on my laptop for quick and easy sms group distributions of success of the “soldiers” out on the field. We had a team phoning the Blue bulls ticket office. We had men manning Computicket outlets all around Joburg (we figured that the Lions would not be interested in the match). And we had a team trying to get tickets via the web. After all of that, noooo, no tickets!

This is actually a disaster for the Bulls as my piercing support next to the field has been known to slow down any opposition team and rendered anybody sitting in front of me hearing impaired for at least a few days. But not to fear. We will be at the field in spirit and we will be working together to give our team the moral support they deserve….Go BULLS!!!

I need to make a special mention of my good twitter friends from down under @NZWaikato and @crusaderz4life for walking the talk with me. Rugby truly spans global divides! So may the best team win. And we all know who that is going to be……

Oh yes and here is our photos from our uper14 supporters campaign:

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Mother’s day blues

mothersEvery year my sister and I have been plagued by mother’s day blues. And, oh no, that dreaded day is approaching again! So I have decided to take time out to think about, first of all, why it depresses me, and secondly, to slay the dragon!

Why does it depress me?

I really do not know actually. And after all, like all other special days, it has been unscrupulously high-jacked by commerce to make money and exploit already economically challenged individuals to part with hard earned cash to buy unsuitable presents (see post on how to buy gifts) in order to give mothers worldwide the false sense that children and husbands actually give a damn. Or maybe it has something to do with my children normally completely forgetting to “honour thy mother” and omit to shower me with adoration and presents. Little critters, I say. Or is it the fact that my husband one year (and I will never let him forget it, oh no) declared that I am not his mother. Or maybe it is the fact that I do feel that most of those lovely articles in Mr Price will make eminently suitable gifts for me 😉 Very depressing indeed!

So what is it actually about?

I decided to go in search of some history to illuminate the issue. A good overview of what mother’s day is all about can be found here: . It is interesting to note from this article that modern day Mother’s day has actually been invented by woman. So we could argue that it is actually all a conspiracy? The article does give a basic workable definition:

Millions of people across the globe take the day as an opportunity to honor their mothers, thank them for their efforts in giving them life, raising them and being their constant support and well wisher.”

  • Let’s break this down. “Giving them life” now stretches far beyond the actual birth ritual (picture here screaming and swearing and sweaty hair) it also go as far as step mothers and adoptive mothers (picture here screaming and swearing and sweaty hair).
  • Raising them” also do not only mean feed them, dress them (you can only try), drive them around endlessly (endlessly), get them to do their homework (or do their homework), break up their cigarettes into a million pieces and let them eat it, ground them (you can only try) ban their cell phone use (you can only try), it means worry, worry, worry (and worry some more). In this day and age, and looking at it from a teachers point of view, teachers ends up being mothers to their learners as well. So this whole “raising them” scenario definitely extends beyond the traditional outlook of who is you mother exactly. (maybe I should stop here…..) But then “raising them” means that it is not only a pain in the arse kind of exercise (Mmmmm lots of exercise), it is also a spiritually uplifting experience in a kind of “up and down” kind of way.
  • Being their constant support and well wisher” – This part tends to be far easier to execute than the previous part. We do wish our children well and all we want to do is to support them. Telling this to teenagers is of course totally a waste of valuable breath and energy. But alas, they too, become adults and down the line they are punished for ever doubting us by having children of their own. And so the cycle continues.

This mother’s day is going to be different!

So what is going to be so different? This year, instead of feeling all unappreciated and ignored, I am going to chill and enjoy. I am silently going to embrace a new kind of mother’s day. One where it is not about presents (I have already conned hubby into giving me a book), attributions (will someone please remind my kids it is mother’s day) and commercial hype (chocolates makes you fat anyway), but one where I can revel in just being a mother. Thinking about all the mothers (starting with my own), who have raised me (up), supported me and wished me well. Also thinking about my children, those who have wondered in and out of my house over the years (smelly and raiding the food cupboards) and those whom I have taught. And I think I am going to stay in bed in my pyjamas, watch TV all day and read a book.

Mother’s that need’s to be mentioned with accolade:

  • My mother. She has always been there for me, worrying for me, and I have not always been the best daughter.
  • My sister: She is a mother extraordinaire and have always been an inspiration to me of how a mother should be. She could also sell her “evil eye” as a marvellous disciplinary tool.
  • Hanlie: Hang on in there, teenagers are never easy but remember- they grow up eventually!
  • Nomakeme: Thank you for being such a rock for my children. I applaud you!

“Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, physician and poet )

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