Lactose Intolerant

I was not convinced that this particular entry on The List would actually happen. I claim to have grown up in a village (not too far from the truth) but this girl is way more suburban than rural. The most annoying scene of The Sound of Music is when Maria is frolicking through the mountains singing, “The hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiills are aliiiiiiive with the soooooooound of muuuuuuuuuuuuuuusiiiiiiic!”

Sound of MusicSeriously, a nun running through the hills singing? The reality of that scene would be said nun tripping over her habit, landing face first in mud, getting bitten by mosquitoes or at least chased by some crazy, smelly sheep. At least in my idea of the Country Life it would be.  

This citified girl is not the Maria or Heidi type. On weekends you won’t find me communicating with nature or hand rearing baby animals (or frolicking on Table Mountain)… So I added “Milk a Cow” to The List and kind of hoped it would never actually have to happen.

I was laughing about it a few days later with a colleague who immediately said, “My friend has a farm and they have cows you can go milk!”

Yippee.

Five minutes later it was organised that I would milk a cow at their farm. I delayed the inevitable for as long as possible and ended up rushing to the farm four days before I turned 30. Great planning, Sarah.

My baby sister was intrigued by the idea of milking a cow so opted to come with me and my Mother was determined to have a good laugh watching my journey into the farm life. Supportive family right?

We arrived on the farm and greeted the cows while we waited for Andries, the regular cow milker, to help us out.

IMG_1619

We walked across the cow yard, sidestepping cow pats and mud piles, all the while keeping an eye on the cows there, making sure they weren’t following us. Some of those cows had crazy eyes, I swear.

Hello Baby Cows

Andries guided one of the biggest cows into the milking pen. Sharing a small square room with three other people and one super large cow was pretty unnerving. Mom was reminiscing about her childhood on the farm in between laughing at my squeamish response to the fact that there was no going back now…

Why

I figured the whole process might be easier and less traumatic for this city girl if I made a connection with the cow. I took Renicia to the cow’s face and asked Andries her name. She has no name was the response. No help there. Really? How hard would it be to call her something cowish? Bessie maybe? Daisy? Even Cow? No. No name.

Saying Hello to the Nameless Cow

So Andries put special cream on Nameless the Cow’s udders and gave them a few squeezes to get the milk flowing a bit easier. This was my reaction….

Oi

Then Andries turned to me. It was my turn to convince Nameless the Cow to give us some milk…

I was pretty much grossed out by the feel of her udders… Warm, old, soft leather is what it felt like… I pulled two or three times and was surprised and a tiny bit proud when the milk stream squirted into the bucket. This girl’s got skills.

Smiling Still

The pride was very quickly followed by the return of the “eew gross” vibe.

Action Shot

I lasted only a little bit longer before I realised I could now cross it off The List and I was done. Andries got Mom to give it a go and the farm girl in her kicked in with a bang and I realised my mother is Heidi.

Mom

Renicia was not easily convinced to try. The thought of milking Nameless the Cow did not appeal to my Sunshine. Eventually, holding onto Mommy, she let Andries help her try…

Renicia not sure

It’s clear from her reaction that we are definitely related!

Def Related

Done and dusted! (And glad its over!)

PS: No, I didn’t drink the milk… Eew! Gross!

Things to do While Skyping…

 As I came into the kitchen earlier this evening I heard The Mother and The Little Sister skyping The Brother and The Nephew who currently live in The Land of the Long White Cloud… aka New Zealand.

I figured, why not get them in on the 30 before 30 fun and do something while we were chatting. So I put the pot on the stove, put in a little oil and added the popcorn kernels… As sad as this sounds, popping popcorn on the stove without a lid has been the thing on my list that I’ve always, ALWAYS wanted to do!

So we turned the webcam to face the pot, we switched on the stove and stood back, not quite sure what would happen. After about a minute we heard the first POP! Disappointingly though, it stayed inside the pot. I was just about to write off as a dud when I heard another POP and a fluffy white piece of popcorn sailed through the air and landed on the floor… Yes!

This was followed in quick succession by hundreds of tiny white missiles flying across the kitchen and littering the floor. All the while, The Nephew and The Little Sister were shrieking with delight at the sight of the flying popcorn and The Mother and The Brother were having a good laugh.

In less than three minutes, it was all over and there was popcorn everywhere! Well, everywhere but in the pot that is. It was awesome! So much fun!

My favourite part of it was that even though we’re thousands of miles apart we could share in something like this and all have a great laugh together. Distance doesn’t stop you from connecting with people.

Then began the clean-up… Copious amounts of Handy Andy, Sunlight Washing Liquid and boiling hot water later, The Mother and I had the kitchen sorted, the oil spray a thing of the past.

This one was a definite winner, you must try it yourself!

Smooth, Real Smooth…

Remember me? Sarah? The tall blonde with the ridiculously low pain threshold? Well I can’t believe it but I forgot to take my myprodol… A fact I realised only halfway en route to the Salon. Uh Oh.

Three teachers, an occupational therapist and a large amount of hot wax… Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, on the contrary it was the beginning of my evening. Tammy was my capable therapist who assured me that it wouldn’t hurt at all and that it’s not that bad. Not that bad? Excuse me? You are pouring hot wax onto my skin, sticking strips of fabric to that wax and ripping, yes, RIPPING, that strip and the wax AND MY HAIR off! But it’s not that bad?

I entered into this particular challenge with lines from an old email forward that circulated a couple years back. It detailed one woman’s journey into the terrifying world of home waxing… The thought of that email brought tears to my eyes and for a moment I couldn’t tell if I was crying from laughing so much or if it was mild hysteria… (Side note: Ladies, if you haven’t read that email, let me know)

So back to the saga at hand. Tammy the Therapist set to work waxing my legs. The wax rolled onto the back of my leg, warm and sticky, next the fabric strip was smoothed onto it… Felt quite nice actually… and then, oh my gosh! Blinding pain shot up and down my leg, stars gathered in front of my eyes and through the rushing sound of my blood pumping through my head I managed to turn around and look back to see what came off with the wax, my hair or my skin? I was able to enjoy the comfort of no bloodshed for a split second before strip number two was ripped… Barely breathing, the next few minutes were a blur as it was smooooth, riiiiiiiip, smooooooth, riiiiiiiiiiip…

“There you go!” What? Was it all over? Had I blacked out? I hoped so. Nope. Tammy had finished only one side… of one leg… Oi. As she continued rolling wax, ripping hair and the like I tried to keep up a steady stream of conversation… Every few rips, Tammy stopped, bent over double, laughing at my painful expressions, deep slow breaths and curled toes.

All the while Flo and Z were waxing bits next door. Soon there came a knock on the door as they joined us to witness my torture. By then Tammy was done with the legs and was turning my single eyebrow into two… Score!

Not satisfied with seeing my pain at having small fine hairs ripped out of my eyelids, the girls begged Tammy to do one more rip… She was only too happy to oblige. Just as she smoothed the strip onto the hot wax, The Sister walked in the door… Now it’s a party!

Cameras ready! And RIIIIIIIP! Grimace. Click, click, flash!

We hung around as The Sister had her brows waxed and discussed life and babies (Z is having one soon).

We walked out of there fuzz free and giggling, making plans for our next coffee catch up session. And my lingering thought on the drive home was the same as when I climbed Lion’s Head, “First and last time!”

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…

“Oh OHHHHHH! We’re halfway there! Oh OHHHHHH! Living on a prayer! Liiiiving on a praaaaayer!” Nothing like a mix tape to get you rocking out on a roadtrip…

We gathered at the respectable hour of 10am to begin a day of much craziness, many laughs and loads of fun. The only real rule with roadtrips, in my opinion at least, is that you may not play “cool” music… Roadtrips are strictly for cheesy choons… I’m talking Spice Girls, Roxette, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cyndi Lauper and the like. Songs that everyone knows, can all sing along to and feel really good belting it out, even if it’s off key.

So we set off, in the general direction indicated by my navigator/co-pilot (in whose navigational skills I had very little faith – I wisely kept my mouth shut and followed instructions… who cares if we don’t end up where were going, that’s part of the fun, right?). The trusty, suitably girly mixtape in the CD player, doughnuts for breakfast and big smiles on our dials… We started tripping… Roadtripping!

The Sister was set to come with us but had to pull out due to other commitments, in her stead, she sent fourteen slips of paper. Weird, I know. Occupational Therapists these days. Each of these slips had a task that was to be completed during the course of the day.

These tasks ranged from the ridiculous to the hilarious and included:

  • Discuss at length in Austen or King James English how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if it could chuck wood
  • Using only small change, nothing bigger than one rand coins, buy something along the way
  • Play sweet and sour with the other cars, stop when you have four sweet and one sour

One of my favourites was to each decide our superhero names and update Facebook with them

Another slip commanded us to use a word to replace the words cool and lekker… This took some discussing…

Crispy?

Nah.

Slammin’?

Already been done…

Ziggy?

Hmmm, ziggy…

I like it!

So ziggy is the new cool. Not sure what I mean? Let me put in a sentence or two for you:

“Whoa! Check that stuffed lion cub wearing a sailor hat! That’s so not ziggy!” or you could say, “Wow, Dancing Diva! Your navigational skills are totally ziggy!” We are currently looking at copyrighting it… Now that’d be super ziggy! I must confess though that it may have been inspired by none other than Posh, Sporty and the girls, The Spice Girls… C’mon… You know you want to… “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends…” There may be a Ziggy Zig Ah! In the lyrics but I still say it was all us!

I am ashamed to say that even though we drove through flower country in spring, we did not stop to smell the flowers along the way, not ziggy I know… Next time though.

Our drive was a slow meander through the countryside on a journey to Paternoster. Where is Paternoster? No idea? What’s in Paternoster? Not much. But on Saturday, we were. Hallelujah it’s raining men… Actually, even a light drizzle would do.

We stopped at farm stalls with excess airfreshners, garages that allowed no swimming or other activities in the water and random signs… Really, the best name you could come up with for your B and B is “Juffroushoogte”?

We took loads of pictures, of ourselves naturally…

So we pulled up in the ‘Noster… Not Ziggy? Yeah, I didn’t think so either… Our first stop was graffiti central where we added our names to the millions of others…

And we discovered Paternoster rocks… no seriously, rocks from Paternoster…

After trying on flotsam and jetsam as fashion accessories we hit the beach. White sand, shells a plenty, gently rolling waves… paradise! Or pretty close at least. A slow amble down the beach and back again we went shopping with R5,10 in small change and then had fish and chips on the rocks…

The return trip was started with, “Look at that sign! Do you think my car will fit through there?” And of course we had to try! A quick four by fouring experience later in my trusty little Tata we drove right into a ditch, stopped for some pics (that’s what girls do) and then worked at getting the car out!

As the miles went by, the car got quieter but for the light snoring of The Courageous napping in the back. Being a superhero is exhausting apparently! The trip takes me one step closer to thirty and a whole lot closer to incredible friends… Let’s do it again sometime!

Not So Talkative Fish…

One of my favourite lines from a movie is when Ella in Ella Enchanted confronts the thugs and says, “Look, I think it’s only fair to warn you that I’m practiced in the art of Origami!” To which the thug replies, “Paper folding?” I have no idea why but it cracks me up every time.

I figured this one would be a breeze. I mean, really? How hard could paper folding possibly be? I can fold boxes and those whatchoomacallit doodads that you flick back and forth, check the photo to see what I mean…

I assumed that, naturally, this made me an Origami Ninja and I could fold anything… And once again I was surprised. Friday afternoon stretched out before me… An hour of invigilating, what fun…

So after starting my kids on their test I started folding paper on my trips between the desks… Earlier in the day my favourite design teacher had kitted me out with two Origami books, coloured paper, a ruler and even some scrap paper to practice with (like this paperfolding ninja would need to practice).

I scanned through one of the books (the prettier looking one… confession: I unashamedly judge books by their covers) and decided on The Talking Fish as my first attempt… A few quick folds later I realised that my “talking” fish was more of a sit-in-the-corner-and-rock-silently kind of fish… Fail.

 

My ego took a bit of a knock with that so I decided to set my sights lower and make something less challenging… A party hat! How could I possibly get that wrong? Obviously I underestimated my lack of Origami skills; I kept circling the classroom trying to figure out why my party hat was not coming to the party…

Finally I realised I had started with a square when I should have used an A4 sheet of paper… Still working with scrap paper I finally had my first taste of success! One complete party hat. I then spent the next few minutes putting stars on it and avoiding starting a more challenging project.

On what felt like my 100th time pacing about the room, I settled on making The Angel Fish… Starting with the scrap paper I successfully folded my first angel fish. The sweet taste of success! Victorious I realised I can now fold anything at all. That knowledge was enough for me, I didn’t feel the need to prove myself. So instead, I folded more Angel Fish, lots more, in different colours. And then, because I’m cool like that, I cut out water bubbles from blue paper and did a photoshoot with my amazing school of angel fishies (pun totally intended!).

And on my last trip around the classroom, cutting out bubbles, the time ran out. Their test and my challenge of Origami were over!

No Pain, No Gain…

It’s always been a no-brainer for me… as soon as you can, you do. Donate blood that is. We aren’t all called to be doctors, nurses, paramedics or superheroes (yes I do consider them to be in the same category!) but provided you’re over 16 years old, weigh more than 50kgs (no problems here) and are in relatively good health you have the opportunity to share a precious resource that is used to save lives.

I firmly believe that only Jesus saves, but sometimes He uses blood transfusions in the process. Like the time He saved my mother’s life almost 30 years ago when internal bleeding nearly took her from us, and when He rescued my brother in the accident that took my Father’s life.

Each time I donate blood I try to imagine the recipient’s family… Is it a newborn like I was, a little boy praying his big brother will make it through, a husband trusting that the mother of his children will be restored to good health… It’s for them that I spend 20 minutes at the WP Blood Transfusion Service every couple months giving back.

Just like the rest of the population, I’m not a big fan of needles but if I didn’t do things that scare me sometimes life would get pretty boring. I gave my first pint of blood at 16 and do so every opportunity I get. My dad was a regular donor and a few days after my 16th birthday he took me along to donate.

The whole process is not as bad as people think it is…

For me the toughest part is the questionnaire… I live in constant fear of saying yes to the wrong question… Why yes I am pregnant (I’m not) or yes I am a nurse who has had contact with blood (I’m a teacher, not much blood involved most days), or yes I do operate heavy machinery (I drive the smallest car any tall person ever owned) or yes I do have malaria (I spray more mosquito repellent than deodorant!)…

The next stage, the prick on the finger where they test your iron levels hurts more than the actual needle! I feel like a big baby when they squeeze that tiny drop of blood onto the slide for the machine that tests it (that would be the professional medical term yes, blood testing machine thingy). Sometimes my iron levels are lower than they should be and on those days they won’t let me donate but I never let that stop me from trying again…

Once my iron levels have passed the test I choose a seat… Little secret, I always donate at the permanent clinic in N1 City Mall… No, not so I can do a bit of shopping after, although that helps… It’s because they have the most comfortable chairs ever! Like big lazy boy recliners, awesome. Last year I went to donate in the middle of my exam marking and actually feel asleep while donating! The nurses rushed over to check on me, I opened one eye and said, “I haven’t fainted. I’m a teacher and need sleep.” They laughed and let me enjoy my brief snooze.

The whole process from questionnaire to biccies and juice after takes about 20 minutes. It sometimes takes me longer than that to find a parking at Canal Walk! This is 20 minutes well spent, I reckon. 20 minutes spent in the service of others, strangers that you will more than likely never meet!

I did not venture there alone. My family, aka The Meyer Ladies, were my cheerleaders.

The little sister is ten years too young to donate…

The other sister had recently had bronchitis and was not allowed to donate…

But the Mother was a legend!

First time donating in over 12 years, she was a trooper! Despite feeling nervous and scared, she did it with a smile on her face!

So after about 900 ml of Meyer blood had been collected we were rewarded with juice, bottled water and biscuits. And in 56 days time, we get to do it all over again!

Stretch or Starve…

“The family that eats together… Eats together?” Or something like that.

So maybe I’m not great at finding suitable quotes for every occasion but when it comes to eating together as a family, I haven’t found the perfect quote because nothing can really adequately describe the Life that there is at our table when it’s meal time… elbows on the table, knives and forks on the wrong side, spaghetti slurped inelegantly (or heaven forbid, all cut into tiny pieces), The Little Sister talking with her mouth full and being told not to, The Other Sister messing on her shirt (without fail, seriously), days discussed, jokes made up (usually bad jokes), laughs shared, salt passed, stretching across the table, talking over each other… Wow! It makes us sound like barbarians, we’re not, I promise, but meal times in This Family are full of life. There is a strong connection between family and food in my memory… I remember there always being more than enough to go around, even when unexpected guests arrived. Back to this weekend though…

We got a rare opportunity to get away for the weekend… After weeks of not seeing The Sister as she has been lovebombing Cape Town (you can read more about that here) it was just what The Family needed. Time away, together. Bonus, it was a 4 day long weekend. Bigger bonus, it was The Mother’s birthday.

We packed the cars (a much better attempt than when we went camping) and headed out to Fish Hoek. We took a lot less than last time and did not need to fight off any deranged baboons as we were comfortably ensconced (big word for a Tuesday) in a house made of brick and mortar.

Friday night was the not-so-perfect storm. The heavens opened and a deluge of water fell to the earth in a night long flood. The occasional lightning (timed perfectly for when you were just about to fall back to sleep) lit up the house like the fourth of July (only less colourful).

The Lovebombing Sister slept through it all while the rest of The Family alternated between awake, moderately awake, sort of awake, not really awake but I am walking around, and what-the-heck-was-that awake.

Saturday morning’s arrival was heralded by Emile Sande singing, “Next To Me,” as my alarm told me to get my butt outta bed at 6:20am. You have to get up really early to beat The Mother. It was The Mother’s birthday.

Hustling The Sisters out of bed, Travel Size Sis wrote her super-beautiful message in the card while I put the kettle on. The mother was woken up with a truly awful rendition of Happy Birthday (the Von Trap family we are not!). We enjoyed birthday coffee, hot chocolate, gift unwrapping, card reading and Tim Tams in bed… Family Meal of the day number 1.

Not in any great hurry, we slowly got layered up to head out into the cold for breakfast. Fish Hoek Spur was ready and waiting for us and our awesome waitron, Florence lead us to a table with a great view of the play area much to The Rugrat’s delight. Lattes and juices were ordered followed by the bacon and egg fry up that Spur is famous for!

The Mother was treated by the staff and patrons to a sing-along of, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, Superlady’s getting old,” complete with sparklers and green tinted ice-cream (for the record, it was supposed to be green).

Around the same time, The Lovebombing Sister was carefully colouring a picture of Shrek, an accomplishment she was proud of! So ends Family Meal of the day number 2.

When the weekend stretches out before you and there’s nowhere you have to be, what do you do? In This Family, we drive. Anywhere. So we set off on a drive around the coast, at each point deciding to go just a little bit further… Delighting in glorious views of a stormy sea, mischievous baboons (not so delightful) and a visit to the spot where The Brother and The Sister in Law said, “I do,” Scarborough beach.

Eventually the slow meander took us back to our starting point where we found a hole in the wall that produced incredible fish and chips… piping hot, we stowed our bounty and rushed “home” where lupper (somewhere between lunch and supper) was devoured around the kitchen counter amidst much chatter and laughter. Hello Family Meal of the day number three…

A quick trip to Pick n Pay, a couple of cracked eggs, sliced lemons and condensed milk tins later, a lemon meringue (correctly pronounced ma-rin-goo) was baking in the oven. This was later set ablaze (flaming lemon meringue anyone?) with candles as we sang one final, awful chorus of Happy Birthday to The Amazing Mother that we have been blessed with. Candles were extinguished, meringue was cut and large slices of it were washed down with big mugs of rooibos… Cue Family Meal of the day number 4…

And just like that, the list decreased but The Family bond increased. What are meal times like in your family?