COVERING GRIME AND FALLING OFF THE WAGON

The danger of a diet high in fried foods is as perilous to décor as it is to the heart. Grandy favours a fried lamb chop or a hake and chip platter above all else. Proof of this was discovered on the wall behind the stove in my new home. The fat-splash residue resembled nothing so much as the barnacles on the side of a neglected boat. My budget didn’t allow for me to get a chap in to sand the walls down and repaint the room, so the only option was for me to drag out my faithful Handy Steam Butler (Mister Jeeves) and tackle the job myself. Here in South Africa, especially in the local black townships, generations of shack dwellers have papered their homes with magazine pages or – with the now iconic – labels of famous brands. This décor genre has become known as Mzanzi chic, but I suppose generic versions of this are to be found in slums the world over. It’s a style I’ve always loved, but it needs a compact space to be truly effective. My little cottage is exactly snug enough to pull it off. Over the years I’ve collected lots of truly RSA artifacts and have been a loyal customer of local store Art Africa for ages.
With Jeeves having done his steamy job, I set to tearing pages from my collection of about 20 years worth of food magazines, invested R54.00 in a packet of wallpaper glue, set Dave Brubeck on replay on the CD player and got going, after a well-deserved coffee break.
It took me ten hours of up-and-down-the-ladder elbow-grease to complete the job and I was stiff as a plank for days afterward; my legs and shoulder took a lot of strain, but I’m pleased with the results. My little home is taking shape and I try not to dwell on the impermanence of the situation. All of this is the situation for a year at best; we shall simply have to see what happens when it happens.
My loneliness is something I didn’t expect as a side-effect of the dissolution of my marriage. Weekends are the worst, but I know that things will improve once I find a job and make a new social life for myself. Catching sight of my husband and daughter setting off, laughing, on a jaunt yesterday, possibly to see a movie and almost losing my beloved Lulubelle (long story, another time, another post) set me awash with self pity. I have not learned yet how to ask for help from my friends, I guess I need to set Mister Jeeves on scrubbing off a bit of my pride. Instead I looked too deep into a bottle of Shiraz and simply got a guilty conscience for my efforts.


I am pleased to report that I have regained custody of my chandelier. Carpe-the-bloody-Diem, as my friend says. Onwards and upwards, I embrace all the clichés this week, especially that old chestnut; this too will pass. (Thank you for that one, Count Czardas!)

64 thoughts on “COVERING GRIME AND FALLING OFF THE WAGON

  1. wow, that looks amazing!
    asking for help from friends is really not the easiest thing to go. I had the same problem when I was divorced. spent far too long on my own, but very gradually started to put out a hand for help. You’ll get there. Maybe invite a few friends around for tea :)

  2. I admire your style with the kitchen!!
    I hear you about the friends thing – sometimes too friends to not want to seem too interferring or “steek jou neur waar dit nie behoort nie” either.
    Big hugs and lots of love!

  3. It looks great! One of the benefits of being alone is that you get to choose exactly what you want, when, wherever and how you want it.

    Sorry about the loneliness. A cliche coming up: sending a virtual hug ((((((((((())))))))))) but I mean it.

  4. LOL at the oil splash, I know it too well and I have always told my sister that the oil splashing is the only reason I do not like steak/liver or anything fried. But if I really want them I use a stew pot instead of a pan.
    How is Obunn taking the whole situation?

  5. All looks fabulous! I know the loneliness is difficult, but you’re using your time wisely. And time is what it takes to heal wounds; hopefully things will start to come around soon. Hugs.

  6. What a great idea and an amazing wall!
    I’ve been divorced almost thirty years now. I still remember that loneliness. The feeling that the world kept right on spinning around my husband, but that I’d fallen off, or was about to. My daughters coming back to tell me what fun they’d had with “Daddy” added to the sting as everything in my life was a big struggle and rarely any fun at all. You’re right, work helps. It saved me, in fact, by giving me something else to focus on, and helping with the money – or lack of money – situation. I also started taking classes at that time. I did stop in, one horrid lonely evening, to visit some friends. I thought a bit of adult conversation would get me through. They left me standing on their porch, saying, “We don’t want to take sides in this.” I wasn’t asking for that!
    I’m pleased to report that, in time, you do find those true friends who will stick by you through anything, that the struggles get easier, that even break-ups become less traumatic, and that there is still great adventure and happiness to be found in life.
    My heart goes out to you. Best wishes for strength and joy!

    • Thank you, Cindy, I’ve just been given the cold shoulder by an old ‘shared’ friend. It’s just too awful. The only thing keeping me grounded at the moment are my pets and my dear, true friends.

  7. Oil splattered walls…certainly a holdover of a bygone era when our mums and grans fried everything with mad abandon. I can’t stand the smell of frying oil (unless it involves the smell of fragrant red onion, garlic and herbs).
    LOVE your solution though. Mzansi chic indeed ;) As for the state of limbo and loneliness, I cannot even begin to comprehend the dissolution of a partnership…so I won’t comment. But be strong, Cin. There’s a whole bunch of people rooting for you. And I believe we’ll be raising a glass to your new job by the end of the week! x

  8. I know how you are feeling. I really do. There are very few words that can help you. As dealing with a new life is a muddle you will sort out yourself. And you will when you are ready to. One day you will wake up (and i promise you this) one day you will wake up and feel that little niggle of joy at the power you have for yourself now. Women seldom have a chance to really find their absolute core of strength. I see it more in divorced women. But it is hard won.

    The only thing I did was to relabel the aloneness. Maybe call it alone instead of lonely. I was alone every summer when my children went to their dads for about oh 13 years .. for months. This is different from your situation. but my children did grow and leave home and then for a number of years i lived alone. I walked, I walked and walked and walked with my dog. Often I would take a book and read as i walked. Sometimes dog and I would pack water and walk for miles to a nice bar for lunch then walk all the way back. I got to really enjoy going to movies by myself and going out to dinner by myself, always with a notebook and a pen, i write very well whilst being served in a nice restaurant. In fact and this will sound weird now that i am married and need to account for my time, I miss being able to fall out of bed in the morning and just go.. I miss sitting in a bar with my feet on a coffee table, with a glass of wine and my writing. I miss long lunches with myself.

    When i was feeling grim i would go and visit my friends and invariably they would be out or busy. i remember this. It is up to us to work on our strength. .

    Decorating your beautiful bijou space is a wonderful project. What will your next project be. Painting? A job is an excellent idea.

    Have i rambled on? I am so sorry. But your words opened a door in my heart and I thought ah yes. i know this one..

    remember that niggle of joy, it is coming!

    celi

  9. Mzanzi chic demonstrates that a person can take almost anything life provides and turn it into beauty…as I suspect you will do with other elements of your life…take care my friend.

  10. Cindy you are really putting a lot of work into your beautiful place! That wall gives me great ideas. Keep account of the good things. You aren’t alone on a desert island! That would be very bad. If I didn’t have pets and lack of money and a huge fear of flying I would fly over and stay with you for a while. That would be great fun. Don’t let this get the best of you. I truly do know how awful it is. Three times over. But you pick up and keep going. March forward. And believe me I didn’t have near as much as you to march forward with. Hugs and love to you.

  11. Looking really fab! Keep busy (and no more falling off the wagon!)Invite friends over for tea and cake or phone someone and go to a movie.Work will help a lot but don’t cut yourself off from friends.

  12. Oh, I love your Mzanzi kitchen! A nice way to solve your problem.

    Sorry you’re feeling lonely. It’s sometimes hard to contact friends – but could you maybe do something neutral, like go to the cinema with some people? Then you don’t have to sit and talk all the time but you will be out of the house doing something fun. (Just an idea).

  13. Hard times, Cindy, I’m sorry. I won’t presume to empathise, as I can’t imagine how it would be to feel lonely like that, but we are struggling with our own issues, and some days it can be hard to get out of bed. Hopefully things will improve for all of us.

    When our baby was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (more than a decade ago), a friend of ours wept with me over the phone, and then said to me, “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but one day you’ll look back on this and, whilst you’ll never have wished for it to have happened, you’ll be able to see the good that’s come from it”. That has proven to be true for us, and I hope it will be for you too.

    xxx

  14. That wall looks beautiful. You have done the wallpapering so well. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to cover a wall in magazine pages, thinking the print from the reverse side would show through. What a wonderful result – it’s very cheery. I hope your new job is just around the corner and that your social life takes a turn for the better and has you running flat-out xx

  15. Your mag wall is absolutely fabulous! I reckon you could start a business here in Oz decking out all th ex-pats’ kitchens in Mzanzi chic (they will go mad for it). That would banish the loneliness, fill the coffers and keep you out of Shiraz-mischief – seriously, you have a huge thing going for you on the style front, Cin.

  16. Hi Cindy, I still have you in my prayers for strength to deal with the difficult situations. I love your wall, how resourceful and creative you are! Be strong, everything gets better with time.

  17. Cindy, you’ve always shown great strength and good sense and with those you will scrub your circumstances down and set it all out clean. Been through this twice – and people wonder why I won’t even date – It does get better with work. Days are structured. More things to think about. New friends … but do connect with the old ones. Most of them are probably there for you (waiting for you to reach out) and they will be the gold. In solidarity ….

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