Fuck Banting

I have never ever had problem feet – barefoot or covered, sunshine or rain, summer or winter – always the same and I have never needed any special creams or suffered any foot related skin-inflictions.

For this reason, I found my life-partner Aldo’s pre-occupation with his feet and the related dermatological challenges rather strange and often blamed all the creams and shit that he constantly applies for his problems – thinking that if he stopped irritating the feet, they would stop irritating him.

At times the skin on his feet is beautiful and smooth and I of course then wallow in the fact that it is because he is letting nature take its course. But then every now and then he again suffers from painful cracked skin on his feet and usually immediately calls each one of his three sisters for some foot-love, (ignoring my narrow opinion), and their latest advice on the best current magic foot products and cures, which sometimes work rather well, I have to admit!  😉

For some reason over the past year, the problem had become worse and recently painfully blistered and eventually bleeding, cracked feet have made his life a living hell considering that he is in the Hospitality Industry and on his feet most of the time.

It was so bad this morning that he could hardly walk, (also his last off-Sunday until May 2017), so I decided to Google the problem before prescribing a thumb-sucked natural remedy for some serious self-mis-diagnosed kind of viral foot infection….

Thank goodness! As I read, the truth hit me like a hammer… Allergic reaction to environmental factors aggravated by stress – Dyshidrotic Eczema affecting the soles of the feet in metal sensitive individuals. The culprits are Nickel and Cobalt – airborne and found in most soils but really concentrated in areas close to factories and a naturally prevalent element in an array of food groups. (We moved to our current home right next to the Rhodes Food Factory a little more than a year ago; our street name is Cannery Row).

About three months ago Aldo embarked on a low-carb diet and started bulking on dark green leafy veggies like spinach and lettuce, legumes and nuts – according to the available reading material online all the above are naturally very high in Nickel and Cobalt, Cashews contain the highest levels of Nickel out of all the nuts and is also Aldo’s favorite (added by him to dishes at least three times a week). Wholegrains and multigrain were the only ‘carbs’ that he allowed in his diet from time to time and turns out to be the worst choice for a metal sensitive soul due to an extremely high Nickel content.

Refined wheat, pasta, corn products and white rice contain very low levels of the metals.

All canned foods are an obvious no-no but currently consumed by us on a daily basis – tuna, tinned tomatoes for cooking, jams, canned fruit etc.

It is advised that Nickel plated utensils be replaced and that stainless steel pots are safe but could release nickel when cooking acidic food (like adding our daily tinned tomatoes to everything and loads of lemon for things like Aldo’s delicious lemony ginger chicken which is Theo’s favorite?).

What about all the wine we consume that are fermented in stainless steel tanks….Beer contains the highest levels of Cobalt as well as chocolate and are part of Aldo’s ‘rescue’ diet since he stopped smoking in January…(a beer or a piece of dark chocolate now replaces the ‘ciggie’ over weekends when a dire craving hits).

To inspire seasonal commitment Aldo recently received an incentive raise at work and ever since then the pressure from head-office has been on overdrive for each department to be in tip-top shape anticipating the tourist season – MAJOR STRESS.

I see him suffer, but mind-fucking himself that everything will be fine once the benefits of the low-carb diet start showing results…

(So much for Banting).

The Truth in the Wardrobe.

My life-partner Aldo works in the Hospitality Industry and whenever I suggest an evening out he looks at me as if I have gone bat crazy. I never insist, knowing well by now that it’s dangerous territory – Our non-existent social life combined with the killer industry hours and challenges of being constantly responsible for the seamless social luxury of others have resulted in a kind of personal social ineffectiveness; which sometimes ends with anonymously drunken tequila shots in sleazy bars in the early hours of the morning and then fighting when he declines to carry all my re-surfaced old baggage – no matter how grand the evening started out.

So, a nice evening out can generally be described as revenge for constantly pleasing a range of fault finding personalities – winning over brides from hell with matching mothers while pacifying fathers with whisky and man-talk to keep them swiping, or conference delegates taking advantage of free food and booze and freedom in general, who leave their manners at home and expect to be treated like royalty, which of course they are…

I was hysterical recently with Aldo’s rendition of a client who approached him with a sad face during a conference dinner and said – “I don’t see it”. Aldo, ready to please, immediately requested the specifications of the invisible requirement, to which the client responded at last with a verbal reply, offered irritably only after a show of pulling faces and silently challenging his ability to read her mind – “I don’t see any chopped fresh chillies on the table”.

Yesterday morning I was a zero on a contract after a delightful evening out with understanding friends who are able to forgive our social violations. The activity thankfully did not end with tequila but involved copious amounts of wine, the neighbor’s house, fabulous drunken dancing and philosophizing about how we need very little and how I am contemplating getting rid of all the stuff that I have accumulated in my life. (On a psycho-analytic level it obviously has to do with my baggage, but that is a whole exploration for another day).

I also exclaimed that the only art I have come to appreciate are perceptive, thought provoking installations and performances in beautifully simplistic public spaces and that I no longer care for things that require constant cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and organizing.  My conversation friend replied in turn that she could actually start seeing herself in the little wooden shack by the ocean, but knowing her happy, larger than life energetic passion for living, I suggested rather a big barn on the beach, to which we both laughed and clinked our glasses. We then proceeded to view the new studio of our artist friend and the hostess of the evening, where we reveled in our indigence and sincerely yearned to own a share of the beauty that she creates. Happy friend suggested that the only way to a simplistic life is to not ever go shopping. Well that’s easy enough for me.

Anyway, back to the hungover stupor; I woke up with a side view of our bedroom cupboards, Aldo’s on the left and mine on the right and lay there staring at them for a looong time wishing that the landlord would allow and sponsor us to paint the old-fashioned wooden finish wardrobes while dreaming up the most gloriously decorative doorknobs, when suddenly I realized what I was up against; and slowly returned to my senses.

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Vasbyt Mmusi

So, after more than 20 years of freedom, ‘Jacob and Julius’ have not been able to secure even one proper and positive innovation or project powerful enough to influence voters and they now resort to racism and hate-speech to corrupt voters and prevent social development.

What the fuck you two?! It’s called IN-TE-GRA-TION and while everybody in this country is on the bandwagon, the two of you just have to bring all progress to a halt with your ‘let’s trash white people’ campaigns. (We’re a marginalized minority shit-for-brains, not a threat.)

I’m confused….Are you rude and inspire hate because you want all white people to leave? What exactly do you want from ME? To track my 17th century ancestry back to a French village somewhere and put in a land-and/or-citizenship-claim with the French Government based on religious atrocities and with your racist vision as reference? And then in turn, as per your example, tell all the black people there that they are out of place? What about the racially integrated families in the world – will they be required to move to a special new country that will be identified by you? The concept unsuccessfully tried and tested by the National Party Government BUT “What do those dumb white people know about racism – ‘Jacob and Julius’ will show ‘em”… Again? Really?!

I almost feel like letting my Party down just to prove a point but knowing that it’s not yet their time to shine in absolute victory before ‘Jacob and Julius’ eat each other alive and take their followers down with them – leaving the mess for Mmusi to clean up, I will offer my support and hope that my poor white–ass survives the turmoil and makes Mmusi’s life not too difficult for too much longer.

Until my ‘white’ vote becomes insignificant due to progress and not racial animosity and we can all rise together from the ashes left behind by ‘Jacob and Julius’:

Vasbyt Mmusi!

The ‘Love Coat’.

Right outside our front door is a little alcove of about 2 x 1.5 m under a roof overhang designed to protect whoever is standing at the door from the elements. In this space I placed a slightly clapped out old fashioned cupboard with a single door that frames a full length oval mirror and one large drawer with two small dangling antique brass handles at the bottom.

The cupboard fits perfectly on the one side-wall without restricting the entrance and adds an authentic although unintended décor element as it is purely functional and houses the gardening equipment. Since my eyesight started failing a year or so ago, I also use the mirror to apply make-up in the abundance of natural light on good weather days and it’s ideal for quick personal scrutiny while stepping out or in.

For many years and for most 6 days of the week my reflection revealed a rather corporately uniformed appearance created from a ‘mix and match’ wardrobe of professional office daywear in black, grey, navy, white or camel teamed with formal, yet pragmatic heals. Working within the high-end hospitality industry required a dedication to this specific dress style and resulted in a leisure wear collapse due to accumulated and unclaimed leave over many years. ‘Weekend leisure wear’ consisted of staying in my pajamas on a midweek off day and watching movies.

When I stopped working in February, (six months ago), one of the challenges of a zero income was to overcome my wardrobe deficiencies. The first few weeks were fine, I just stayed in my pajamas to match the sick person I had become and progressed steadily into a ‘sweetpak’ with the realization that my children and animals had suffered more than I did as a result of my passionate workaholic tendencies, seeking validation from wealthy and powerful employers in a sacrificial industry with long hours and shit pay, selling my soul at the cost of personal development and my family’s needs.

In the process of reclaiming my life and self-esteem and even again contemplating a few ‘work’ projects which tracked me down, the ‘sweetpak’ became rather dull and redundant, so I acquired a Kaftan – A big, bold, multi-coloured adornment purchased from the Franschhoek China Shop at the price of an agreeable entry level bottle of Boutique Estate wine.

My children started complimenting me on my appearance and the middle child, (a keen surfer), said that he REALLY liked the way I dress now – floating about in my colourful robe with no shoes and wild un-ironed hair…

But, on the contrary, the “laatlam” requested recently that I dress properly when I arranged to fetch him early from school to accompany me to a business meeting in Cape Town; because he did not want the teacher to think that he was lying…

The recovery for him after all those years in conservative government school aftercare systems and my reckless support of the indoctrination for my own survival, is still in progress and he continues to view any work related ‘meeting’ as an important opportunity to defy one’s own truth in lieu of prescribed rules relating to appearance and objectives, for fear of being misunderstood or (“nee, net nie dit nie”!) – rejected!

Thank goodness he is drawn to the dramatic arts and this unnatural ‘order’ could possibly play in his favor – we are currently working towards the local Eisteddfod with a seamless rendition of a well-known poet’s specific vision titled: “Die Woning van my Drome”.

The middle child was overly perceptive to my newly acquired awareness and now has NO FEAR whatsoever….He surfs icy winter storm waves with whales in heartbeat-didgeridoo-soundwave proximity on far and secluded coastlines and in places with names like ‘Dungeons’.

My former super-maven little work-route car suddenly explores the big wide world and can hold three surfboards and passengers in one go  – the rearview mirror now embellished with a large dreamcatcher handmade from found objects gifted by the ocean.

A home studio erected a few months ago for my own use inspired the surfer, an unhappy abstract science student,  to explore his creative abilities and awakened the potential of combined genres that compliment his extraordinary talent – which could possibly have remained the unsolved riddle in a futile mystery….

Stepping inside from a rainy day today I caught a glimpse of myself in my long brown coat, (really missing my summer Kaftan) – previously applied to cover stylishly heeled boots and a rigidly poised stature, hangered and preserved for external use only in a climate controlled state-of-the-art office environment. Now permanently worn-(out) and teamed with Uggs in an electricity rationed home, furred in a layer of golden Labrador pelt and soft cat fuzz, resulting in what seems and feels like a ‘love-coat’.


FullSizeRender (4)My life partner Aldo had implemented a strict (verbal) rule against giving our animals “menskos” – which is ignored due to his double standards. I can hear him in the kitchen early in the morning with that friendly cat voice charming the purrs out of our cats with little bowls of milk or even cream.

(He should hear them purr when I debone a chicken or distribute my biltong – sluts).

So now, as a result of his confusing example, every time I switch on the kettle and take the milk from the fridge the whole family is there. Tao has even once jumped fiercely in-between me and the fridge when he noticed me close the lid to put the milk away without the customary sharing.

Ozzie, our oversized golden Labrador pre-teen is co-parented and mentored by Tao, a big male teacher of a cat and Toto, a fat and lazy old “tannie”-cat. The result is that he too now enjoys a splash of milk as refreshment during the day – apart from his usual mid-morning snack that consists of leftover pan-scrapings mixed with rice to sustain his insatiable appetite, after which he likes to relax by resting his large head innocently on his paws in sneaky close proximity to the cat-food bowls, until I turn my back and hear him munch, again.

Due to Toto’s age and her rather challenging figure, the cat-food bowls are kept on the floor as the two cats like to eat together but Aldo insistently places an additional bowl on the kitchen table for Tao – I think it’s a man-cat thing.

This winter had proved too much for the old lady Toto and although she follows me outside to catch patches of wintery sunshine or sits with me in the designated smoking area under a narrow roof-overhang on the stoep when it rains, (after the home was declared a smoke free zone in January when Aldo stopped smoking), she now prefers to perform her daily ablution in the warm ashes of the fireplace….

To the total delight of Ozzie, who savor’s the taste of fresh cat-shit as a delicate titbit between meals.


Sondag se Maandag-wasgoed

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Maandag het ek fluks al die wasgoed gewas. Na die vorige week se beproewinge met al die vakansie-wasgoed en Peter (die middelkind) en Ozzie (die hondkind) se ‘laissez-faire’ benadering tot huishoudelike pligte tydens hulle ‘huis-sit’ episode terwyl ons weg was; het ek besluit dat NIKS, OOIT WEER, sal ophoop in hierdie huis nie.

Die wasgoed was nie mooi droog teen die middag nie en het op die draad bly hang. Die reën wat begin uitsak het Maandagnag, het my wel middernagtelik laat opspring maar dadelik weer laat terugklim in die bed, want daar is niks wat die skadelike uitwerking van waspoeier so goed teenwerk soos ‘n goeie afspoel met ‘n lekker bui reënwater nie.

Teen Donderdag was die wasgoed baie goed afgespoel en ek het begin bekommerd raak – die mandjies was alweer vol en van die skoon goed het begin afwaai en in poele onder die drade beland….Die krag was min en dis nog dae voor maand-einde; ons beursies en baadjies se sakke en potjies en laaitjies en ou handsakke reeds verlos van vergete rande en sente, so die sopnat Maandagwasgoed sou nie tuimeldroër toe kon gaan nie….

Vanoggend het die voëltjies my wakker gesing met ‘n vrolike Sondag gefluit en ek het sommer vroeg geweet, vandag is die dag – die wasgoed is nou droog.

The Lunch-box.

My youngest son, Theo, attends a delightful little school with less than a hundred learners in a historical building nestled under centuries old oak trees between mountains and farms in the Groot Drakenstein district near Paarl.

Due to the intimate character of the school everybody knows everybody’s business.

Theo is a “laatlam” and for fear of exposing my sometimes debilitating introverted disposition to the overtly confident younger generation moms and lively, chatty teachers, I keep a safe distance.

Every day I pray that he is at the gate when I arrive to collect him in order to avoid having to look for him and talk to other parents or god forbid, the teachers or perhaps the headmaster, who is always near the play-ground talking to the moms.

So, this morning we arrived at school and Mr. Headmaster is at the front gate in the parking lot, as usual joyfully greeting learners and parents as we approached – my timing to arrive just as the bell rings was out and it’s happy hour – the only available parking was right in front of the gate, less than a meter away from where he was standing and he had spotted me; made eye contact and a courteous little gesture to the available parking spot.

As our car came to a halt he is there and opens the door for Theo, sticks his head in to say good morning and I sit there, stunned speechless in my sleep-hair, “pantoffels” and khaki morning-school-run ‘parka’. Well, that didn’t go as planned, but I gathered my poise driving home with thoughts about the advantages of silence.

As if it wasn’t already enough stress for one morning, I arrived home to find Theo’s lunchbox on the kitchen table, grabbed it and drove back, forgetting about the bedhead and “pantoffels”. The immaculately styled school secretary took the box from me with a friendly smile and offered to give it to Theo, but over the intercom at the gate stopped me and advised to wait; that Theo wanted to talk to me – he came running out with the lunchbox explaining that he did in fact take his lunchbox this morning and that it was in his bag. Confused I opened the lid, only to expose yesterday’s unappetizing leftovers and peels inside and suddenly I realized, that the secretary had peeped.