Archive | May 2013

ABOUT FACE AND RIGHT INTO THE LION’S DEN

Volte-face (pron.: /vɒltˈfɑːs/ or /voʊltˈfɑːs/) is a total change of position, as in policy or opinion; an about-face.
The expression comes through French, from Italian voltafaccia and Portuguese volte face, composed of volta (turn) and faccia (face). (Wikipedia.)
“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations”
(Jodi Picoult)
And so it happened – far sooner than expected – the house was sold and it was really not practical for me to pay exorbitant rent to the owners as a tenant. I was pressed, with a very low budget, to buy an apartment in a hurry, on a very low budget.
Unfashionable (to read it simply, dodgy) areas are perfectly in order abroad. They may, in fact, be viewed as thrillingly eccentric. In South Africa, however, moving to one of these areas may be seen as a form of deliberately assisted suicide. I forged ahead nonetheless and have purchased an apartment, with the blind faith that I will create a cosy home for myself and live under the ‘benign hand of God’: a fatuous construct in some eyes, perhaps, but the deed is done.

I have entered the lion’s den. Mine is the top floor, right hand end apartment. It overlooks one of the top schools in Johannesburg and I will be able to enjoy watching the lads play cricket while enjoying a cup of tea on my balcony.

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Once the almost exclusive enclave of Jewish immigrants seeking out the safety of an apartment community; what they were used to in Europe, the area became, in the 80s, the stomping ground of well-heeled hippies. I remember it being the very epitome of bohemian nightlife. Sadly, it has since degenerated into a ghetto populated by Nigerian drug lords and the like. I recently read that there is an initiative underfoot to reclaim the area and trust that my leap of faith will prove to be a fortuitous one. If nothing else, it will give me an exciting project for interior decorating and will provide some blog fodder.
The apartment itself is a warren of large, sun-filled rooms, currently populated as a commune.

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I will begin by beefing up the security and making a lot of cosmetic changes to the interior. It is filthy, but nothing that ripping up the horrid carpets to expose the beautiful parquet floors and a lick of paint can’t improve. I shall need the services of a handyman, for quite a while, with a little luck I will find a beefy shirtless hunk with a big toolbelt. Our combined experiences will – no doubt – offer up much blog fodder. I promise photos of the progress.

One thing I am particularly looking forward to is having a proper oven again and being able to bake. With the miniature stove I’ve had in the cottage, freshly baked cakes have been a thing I have sorely missed.

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I am excited. Watch this space!

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TRYING TO FATTEN UP AND REMAIN ANCHORED

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The grass in my little garden has begun its annual winter death, hastened by the endless traffic of feet as potential buyers of our property traipse through. It’s the end of year-long trial separation for my husband and I, and he has put the house on the market. My hopes are pinned on a buyer who will allow me to stay on as a paying tenant in my little cottage. I am grounded and comfortable here and the proposition can only be favourable to the new owners; the cottage is rather eccentric in its architecture and would require a fair amount of work before it is marketable to more conservative tenants.

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I continue to fiddle in my pots, planting things I can cart away with me if my bid is unsuccessful, but I remain hopeful and fight a daily battle against anxiety that I may be forced to relocate. I keep chanting the mantra that:
“Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.”
As if God has stirred a spoon of sweetness and mercy into my cup of woes, I have become reconciled with my daughter. This has been a blessing above rubies and my heart is fit to burst.
Some months back I adopted a cat from a friend who was no longer able to keep her. Ally is almost ten years old and provides me with no end of entertainment. She is of a haughty nature and interacts with me strictly on her own terms. Her affectionate side seems only to emerge when I am wearing black trousers and she languidly twines herself around my calves, leaving me to look like an Angora goat from the knees down.

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When the property is sold, my mother-in-law is to leave her comfy little flatlet in the main house and move to a retirement home. This pending move has spurred her to make endless shopping lists, as though she will soon be incarcerated into a maximum security prison. I’m kept very busy ferrying her about and she usually finagles a visit to a tearoom into our outings; she is concerned about my recent weight loss and is foisting all manner of sweet and savoury meals on me.

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Pie, gravy and chips at our local tea room.

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A fat slice of lemon meringue pie to load on some winter-beating lard.
In the midst of all this flux, I take heed of Louise Hay’s affirmation that 49 is the dawn of a new age and try to see all of this as the start of a new chapter in my life.
Be well, my friends, and count your blessing daily.
Much love.