Sting and The Police…

If you could tell a stranger anything you wanted, what would you say?

This was the opportunity presented to us after our Sunrise Special this morning as we each sat with a piece of paper while sipping our coffee… I challenged The Friend and The Sister to write down a few lessons they would want to teach their kids one day…

This is what we came up with…

The Friend: “Remember… Stop to take a moment and appreciate what you have/who you have and where you are… Keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on God, you can make it through anything – things will get better… Chocolate is good at any time of the day or night.”

The Sister: “You are never too far away to go home. It’s ok to admit that you were wrong and to start again. Life is about choices.   God loves you and will pursue you all your life.  Embrace Him.  It will be the best decision you will ever make.  Learn to laugh, live, love.  You don’t get too old to dance in the rain.  Wear sunscreen.”

And mine: “In my almost 30 years, I have learnt the following.  1.  A pretty face doesn’t make you beautiful.  People look at the outside but God sees your heart.  2.  Don’t waste time, don’t procrastinate… Time is a gift, not a guarantee.  3. Love loudly… Don’t let people ever be unsure as to whether or not you love them.  4. Life is too short to drink bad coffee.”

Great advice by all accounts. So we popped the messages and our email address into our bottle and headed off to the Sea Point Promenade… Finding a spot where there were fewer rocks and no sand for it wash up on immediately took a while…

Found a spot…

Looked around to make sure no one was watching (this was the moment I realised that i was in fact littering)…

Pulled back…

And there it goes…

Found it bobbing up and down in the foamy waters where it will probably hang out until the tide comes in and carries it out a bit…

So there it went, pearls of wisdom floating on the waters. Who knows where it’ll end up?

From Cape Town to Seattle…

“Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around and dessert you…”

Rick Astley at 5am? I’m up! I’m up! Enough already!

Early mornings are not my thing, not even a little. My central nervous system only kicks in after two, sometimes three, cups of coffee… Watching the sunrise with friends was problematic because not only did I need to get up at the crack of dawn but so did my friends. Luckily, I have amazing friends… The Incredible Flo and The Awesome Sister agreed to tag along. I hear some of you saying that that’s one friend and one sister, not “friends” but honestly, sisters make the best type of friends.

All the reports said sunrise was at 6:44 am this morning but as we drove down the N1 Highway, heading towards The Mountain That I Love, I caught a glimpse of yellow skies in the rear view mirror… Uh oh! The coffee stop would have to wait till after the sunrise…

We drove towards Lion’s Head and then kept on driving till reaching signal hill where we saw locals still in their pyjamas and locals who had obviously not gone to bed yet and were enjoying a liquid breakfast. Deciding this was not the spot for us, we drove back towards Lions Head and found a great place to pull over on the side of the mountain with a spectacular view of Table Mountain and the rising sun.

As we spent some quiet moments watching the ball of fire peep over the far off mountains, my sister and my friend beside me, it felt as if my soul let out a contented sigh. Golden rays washing everything it touches with warm light…

A spectacular sunrise, some awkward photo attempts and some laughs later, we said an official Good Morning to Cape Town and headed off in search of a very necessary cup of coffee.

Hello Seattle Coffee Co. *cue angels singing* Café Mocha with whipped cream and a Twix seemed an appropriate breakfast… A sunrise special!

Driving off we came across a delightful find! A photo op not to be missed… Guess and I share a history it seems…

30 Sexy Years!

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!”

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?

It’s Not Funny: An Apology of Sorts…

3 blog posts in 2 days? This girl’s on a roll! A toilet roll that is… I’ll explain in a bit, but first…

I apologise for the lack of hilarity in the last two posts, I tried to make them funny but just couldn’t. I figured sometimes life isn’t funny but that doesn’t mean it’s not still good. I’m not convinced I believe that… I’m the kind of person who laughs at everything, even when it’s not appropriate. Heck, especially when it’s not appropriate! As a teacher I spend many formal assemblies biting my lip to keep from laughing at some hilarious pronunciation (like free firty instead of three thirty) or unintended innuendo.

Most people would consider this kind of behaviour immature, I agree. I can however do nothing to stop it. I crack up when my local store abbreviates the word assorted and tries to sell, “ass cupcakes”…

Or a local business owner is the victim of witty vandals who turn his business into one offering “fibre ass repairs”…

That said, I do apologise for the unfunniness of the two previous posts and can only offer the reason for this post as some form of explanation or excuse.

I said earlier I’ve been on a roll, a toilet roll… Well, little did I know that my ridiculously pathetic immune system would help me shrink The List.

Being the overachiever that I am, I have not spent A day in my pyjamas… Oh no, not one, not two, but THREE long days spent in fluffy pink pjs! About three weeks ago, a splitting headache and dodgy cough sent me to my local MD. A ridiculous amount of money and a long wait at the pharmacy later I had an antibiotic set to cause the offending bug to cease and desist.

The white flag went up about 24 hours later but on closer inspection it proved to be a decoy. The white flag was just some old long johns and Mr Bug was growing fat in spite of the supposedly killer drugs I was taking.

As a teacher, sick leave is more of an urban legend than a contractual reality in our lives. A colleague of mine recently came back from the doc with the following quote, “I told my doctor, and ‘It’s so cute how you think I can actually take sick leave’”. Well said.

So I pushed on through hours of invigilation*, endless marking, departmental (definitely mental) admin and work and finally made it to the end of term. Sick, but still standing.

*For those who aren’t teachers… The reality of invigilating exams… Check watch… 11:41. Walk around class 7 times, 3 of which you pretend to be on a tightrope… Count all blondes, brunettes and redheads, twice… Count all left handed learners… Hand an extra sheet of paper to four different learners, whether they need it or not… Read graffiti on three different desks, look confused because you don’t understand one, blush because you do understand the other two but wish you didn’t…. Stare down the pigeon sitting on the window ledge, feel proud because it blinked first… amble slowly back to the desk to check the time, feel excited at your constructive use of what must be at least 35 minutes… Check the time again… 11:43…

So three weeks after the original doctor’s appointment I admitted defeat and dragged myself back to the doctor’s office. A stern lecture and a large amount of money later, I was armed with superstrength-nothing-will-survive-these-suckers antibiotics and painkillers. And the doctor’s orders included a strict three days in bed clause.

When I wrote the list originally, I imagined my day in my pjs would be spent ironing my hair, watching DVDs and chatting with friends.

Instead, I have spent three long days up to my elbows in snotty tissues and trying desperately not to cough up a lung. Dreadfully inelegant. Sorry, is snot a politically correct term or should that rather read mucous?

I have spent the last three days averting my eyes from all mirrors in an effort to avoid the Sarah Sick Face. Not pretty. Since all meals are eaten in bed, Sick Sarah is a crumb laced, snot faced, messy haired creature.

That hacking cough and inelegant sniff are unwelcome at even the most ill-mannered of tables.

Today is day three. In about 2 hours and 45 minutes I plan to vacate the bum shaped hollow in my bed, shower, wash my hair and join the ranks of the well. The doc said three days. Time’s up. I will take yet another dose of those ginormous pills that he prescribed and some extra painkillers, change out of my pyjamas and face the world, not as Sick Sarah, but rather as Almost Well Sarah, a brighter version of her former self.

Maybe I’ll even feel well enough to do some more damage to The List! What do you think I should do next?

Sixty Minutes…

Make-single-people-like-myself-feel-awkward Day (aka Valentine’s Day) has never been my favourite holiday. So a couple years ago when my sister asked me to go with her to a film course that started on V day I thought, “Why not?”

I was surprised by the large group in attendance that night and I was rather sceptical when the guy in charge appeared bare foot and in the smallest pair of red shorts I’ve ever seen. Oi. The course was run by the media team at a local multi-site church, Joshua Generation, and was set to run over a month of Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. I must say that within ten minutes, Mr Red Shorts had me inspired to make films just by sharing his passion and creativity and desire to inspire people through media. The next few weeks saw us experience each area of the filmmaking process as we wrote scripts, used cameras and learned about sound, production and direction. We even had a guest appearance from Regardt van den Bergh, the talented director of Faith like Potatoes and Hansie.

The course culminated in us making five minute films in small groups. The films were shown at the Joscars (the Josh Gen Oscars) and the judges chose our short film on domestic violence as the winning film and we were awarded Chocolate Easter Bunny Oscars. We were convinced that Hollywood would be calling us the next day!

That was the end of my journey into filmmaking; my sister however, was hooked. She found herself captivated by the world of media and was invited to join the Film Kru Team. A second more advanced course ensued with four more (and much better) short films being made. Another Joscars event, this one a black tie affair, had about 700 supporters in attendance and we were blown away by the movies. My sister was the Producer of a truly Capetonian comedy.

One of the other movies, Bound, took a real look at human trafficking and has since been used in schools to alert children to the dangers our young people are exposed to… Read more about that film’s journey here.

Continually upping their game, the Film Kru has spent the last few months working on some (longer) short films called the Love Bombs. Each of the three Love Bomb Films focuses on a different aspect of life choices and changes.

The Prodigal: “The Prodigal is an edgy and honest short film that takes a brave look at sexuality, grace and God. The story follows two years in the life of Mark, a sensitive and easily influenced high school boy. Set against the experimental backdrop of the ocean, Mark ventures deeper and deeper into the waters, until he finally discovers what he had always been looking for.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

Second Day: “This original short film takes a unique look at an age-old fact, and presents it in the wrapping of post-apocalyptic madness. It was filmed entirely on one location over 2 days in Cape Town, South Africa, and made completely by volunteers. It’s a hard hitting story that will impact lives, and we’re proud to be showing it around cities in this country.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

iBalaclava: “Shot entirely on location in Dunoon – South Africa’s most densely populated township – iBalaclava is a moving short film about the lives of two brothers, and the sacrifices they have to make. It’s a story of failure, grace, and second chances – and we’re proud to have it screening in townships across Cape Town, impacting peoples’ lives for the better.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

On Youth Day, the Film Kru took iBalaclava to the Du Noon township on the N7 in Cape Town. They called for a group of volunteers to help out and over one hundred of us responded. The Sunday before that we joined the Josh Gen congregation in Du Noon to plan and pray together and commit the project to God.

Our group of volunteers spent Saturday the 16th June serving the Du Noon community. Arriving early, the set up crew carried chairs, set up tents, moved boards and made sure everything was ready to go. The clean-up crew blitzed through the venue armed with gloves and black bags and scrubbed toilets, picked up litter and mopped floors (they worked throughout the day). The jumping castle team supervised all the little ones, making sure each got a turn to jump. The tireless face painters turned the waiting children into Batman, Spiderman, butterflies, flowers and the like.

The Soccer tournament was a fierce competition as teams battled it out on the field to see who would win the new team uniforms while on the Netball courts the teams of women played hard to be the winning team. That was where I spent my day, courtside, as the official scorekeeper of the day.

The event ended with a showing of iBalaclava to a crowd of about 700 local residents. The crowd loved it as they recognised locals acting in the movie and the locations were from their own area.

The day was incredible, each person doing their part to show Jesus to the community. From the face painters to the cleaners, ushers to referees, jumping castle supervisors to set up crew, each pitched in and helped out where they could. I ended up volunteering for way more than the hour that I had put on my list but I got so much out of being there for the day, chatting to the locals and enjoying the time together.

It was such a success, you can read the article run by a local paper here.

So what about the other Love Bombs? Well, they’ll be hitting Cape Town soon in various events. But first, there’s a Love Bomb Film Festival next month.

For more info and to buy tickets see http://www.lovebombs.co.za/

What about you? Have you volunteered somewhere before? Want to volunteer but don’t know where to start? Have you got any plans for Mandela Day? How will you spend 67 minutes that day in service of others?

Guess Who…

A couple of weeks ago, around 18:05 on a Wednesday, the house was spotless, the dog was fed, the table was set for five, the Arrows were playing in the background and I was making a salad in the kitchen…

This was not the scene about two hours earlier with frantic vacuuming, dusting, tidying and the like. That moment in cleaning when you realise you don’t have enough time to clean the entire house and you rate each room on a scale of one to ten… One being “I’m sure they won’t come in here so I can leave it as is and just pull the door shut” and ten being “There’s no way I can keep them out of here and better clean up.”

At the same time as I almost had everything done, four people in the area received text messages with only an address. My address. All four headed out the door and on their way to me.

This exciting cloak and dagger type stuff (that included no daggers) was the order of the evening for my community. We had a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner evening. A few weeks before that we had each filled in a form stating whether we were willing to host a dinner or would like to be hosted for dinner. I figured hosting a dinner party is on the list so why not! CA coordinated the whole thing in such a way that if you were hosting you were told only how many guests to expect and if there were any food allergies. And those being hosted were told only what to take along and then an hour before dinner, were sent a text message with the address of their dinner hosts. Great idea and great fun!

The lasagne was baking in the oven and I had just pulled the salad bowl out the cupboard when the first guest arrived…

The walk from the kitchen to the front door was filled with thoughts like, “What if no one likes each other?” and “What if no one talks to each other?”

I swung open the door and there stood K. I know K. Relief. We don’t know each other very well but well enough to feel at ease. And she brought dessert… An amazing Malva pudding! Yum!

As we were chatting in the kitchen the doorbell rang a second time. It was the Paramedic. Fairly new to the community but I knew her well enough. She joined us in the kitchen.

The third ding-dong of the doorbell announced the Pharmacist’s arrival. Another one I was happy to get to know better. The salad was done and so we moved our party of four to the living room and chatted as we awaited our fifth and final dinner guest. A couple of minutes later the doorbell rang and in walked C, with a plate of incredible canapés…

Conversation started flowing as we curled up on the chairs and couches in the cozy living room and munched on canapés… Some shoes were even kicked off I recall!

The party of five moved to the dining table as the lasagne and salad appeared from the kitchen.

The paramedic broke a week-long fast with that lasagne! As we all dug in (in a restrained and delicate fashion of course!) the conversation carried on, exploring topics from work, to family, to hobbies and the like. There were many laughs over stories that highlight my paralysing fear of birds, spiders and monkeys (and most other animals) and over the Paramedic’s family member’s obsession with dehydrating foods such as cucumbers.

The warm dessert and custard was washed down with mugs of tea. A long time and a photo op later, the ladies started making their way home.

As I packed the dishwasher I reflected on the evening, God had definitely knit us closer together that night which was the goal of the evening. I would never have thought of mixing K, the Paramedic, the Pharmacist and C at a dinner in the natural just because we’re all so different, but because we’re all family in Christ, it worked. Really well!

So crossing this one off the list drew me closer to four amazing women and was loads of fun! Have you ever had some surprise guests for dinner? How did that turn out?