Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Poetry and Prose

Lent 8 – Don’t play with your food

My parents taught me well,
They told me not to play with my food,
So
I
decided
To play with my words instead….

Perhaps, once up-on a time
Two lines may rhyme

Others may have a cadence
To how you
…………………SKIP
………………………….THROUGH
the verbs and thoughts and ideas
All laid out in the way, I want them to.

Poetic Licence, they said.
Don’t play with your food, my parents said.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Lent 5 – Grammar Police

(To be sung / said to the tune of Radiohead’s Karma Policehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uYWYWPc9HU )

Grammar Police,
Arrest this hand
It types in mistaeks 🙂
But his intentions are best
Will they ever get the message…?

Gramma Police
Arrest this brain
It thinks too much
And not enough
To correct all it’s ways in words…

This is what you’ll get
Mistakes are not met
This is what you’ll get
When you rush with this…



Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Horrific!

I watched this film tonight:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZQz0rkNajo&feature=youtu.be

#TheDig

There is a scene where the soldiers are burying (hiding) the statues / monuments in London – covering them with sand bags, in order to protect them from the war that was approaching. (WW2) Bomber planes wouldn’t be able to recognise them from overhead.
I then thought about how humanity survived two world wars. People bounced back. A lot of life was lost, yes. But we as a species are resilient. We get through the horrific things of life! Can you imagine living through a war? And it’s didn’t last a couple of weeks. It went on for over 5 years!!
But people carried on. People baked bread. People fell in love. People were still educated. Life was not the same during that war and most certainly after it. Yet artists still painted. Musicians still made music. Families still cared for one another.

Got me thinking of the current “war” that we’re going through. It is horrific! So many deaths. But humanity will bounce back! We will get through this. Life in this pandemic and after it won’t be the same. We have learnt some things. But there have been and there will be new songs. There will be laughter again. The bakeries are still baking.


Anyway, that is where my thoughts went from that particular scene in the movie…


Another thing from the movie, right at the end, during the credits – after a certain individual (Basil Brown) found the relics in the ground – he wasn’t mentioned or given any credit by the British Museum – after the lady who owned the lady requested that. That really irritated me and angered me!

“Corporate things” like that really irk me no end!
When the beast swallows the small fish
When faith is made into a religion
When church becomes like a business – counting the numbers
When a novel idea becomes a franchise
When originality becomes lost in the system

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, short story

The Confessions of a Domestic Worker

To whom it may concern.

My name is Beauty.  (Well, that’s my English name.  Apparently, my birth name is too difficult for my employer to pronounce.)  So, I figured if I settled for a simple name, it would make things easier.  Besides, my name is quite fitting because my life is beautiful!  I have switched on Mr Avery’s computer to type out my story for you. I have two children.  Ayanda, my eldest; she is in Grade 10 at Klipspringer High School.  She loves dancing!  Often, in the evening, I will take a sneak peek into her room and see her practising some dance moves.  (I must be sneaky because she gets all shy in front of me.  You know how teenagers are.)

Kagiso started high school this year.  He loves soccer.  One of my favourite things is to see him and my husband supporting their favourite team: Ajax Cape Town.  They sit huddled together on a Saturday afternoon shouting at the TV.  (I keep telling them that the players can’t hear them through it.  That joke never gets old!)  They both just “shoo” me off with their cheeky smiles.
Solomon, my husband is a hard worker.  I am so proud of him.  For the last two years he has won Best Salesperson of the Year.  He works at the local nursery called Green Fingers.  He is knowledgeable with all things gardening and he is super friendly and helpful with every customer he deals with.  They even return to the store asking to be served by him.

I have been working for Mr and Mrs Avery for about seven years now.  I love their kids too.  Megan is in Grade 6 and she loves to sing, we often sing together after school.  Their son, Matthew is in Grade 8.  (Kagiso and he are friends.)  Matthew so desperately wants to play in the Under 14’s first team with Kagiso.  I think that will happen soon – I’ll tell you more about that later…
I’m no ordinary “maid.”  Oh wait, sorry: domestic worker (to be politically correct!).  Read on, and I think you will see why.  Most of us in this industry work from 8am to 3pm, our job responsibilities include vacuuming, mopping, doing the washing & ironing, washing the dishes and other general cleaning.  I work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I enjoy my job!  My responsibilities also include fetching Megan and Matthew from school at 1pm & 2pm respectively.  Oh, and I work till 4:30pm, but I don’t mind the extra hours.  Besides more pay, there is a lot more to my day than many realise. 
I am incredibly grateful to Mrs and Mrs Avery.  They have been particularly good to me and they even pay the full school fees for Ayanda.  (That really does help Solomon and I a lot.)  So, I return the favour to them in other ways…

Okay, okay, I will stop being all mysterious and get to the climax of my story.  (On that note: I have learnt, online, ‘how to present a story’… so I am trying it out with this confession.)
I honestly don’t know how all the other domestic workers take so long to do everything – they must really dawdle!  I get to the house around at 07:30, enjoy a cup of coffee, say a little prayer and then start my day at 8am.  I am usually done by 11am.  Maybe 11:30 max!  So, I know what your next question is: “What am I doing with the rest of my day?”

The Averys have internet at home.  And I didn’t want to waste that free resource, so I got creative.  Ayanda learnt how to connect to the Wi-Fi with a subject she does at school called CAT (Computers and Technology.)  She gave me a quick crash course and now I know how to use it too.  In the morning, one of the first things I do is put the SMART TV on.  (It really is smart!  You can browse the internet through the TV.)
I navigate to the TED talks on YouTube and while I am washing dishes and doing the ironing, I am learning some new things.  Why not?  There are a lot of interesting things out there that one can learn.  And it’s free!  I’ve learned how to have better conversations and that has helped me with Mrs Avery and our own neighbours back home.  I have also learned about the surprising habits of original thinkers.  I shared what I learnt with both Kagiso and Ayanda.  (They’re going to do great things one day, I believe it. #proudmom)

I also heard an inspiring talk about how to teach girls bravery rather than perfection.  Some of the knowledge there I have also shared with both Megan and Ayanda.  I would be thrilled to think that when Megan one day becomes a teenager, she won’t be sucked into all that unnecessary peer pressure that is so rife out there.  Social media is full of nonsense!  And I have seen over the years how it affects all cultures: Black, White and Indian.
I confess, I am sometimes very scared for the future of these four wonderful children I have the privilege of rearing.  There is so much unfair pressure on them, and the busyness of these modern times is swallowing them whole!!

So, I am convinced of my calling.  I am passionate about the mandate I have over these four young lives.  Because both our boys are at the same school, I asked Mrs Avery if Kagiso could come back to their house when I fetch her kids.  Thankfully, she obliged.  And she doesn’t know, but it has truly done Matthew the world of good. ‘How’, you may wonder?
When all three (Megan, Matthew and Kagiso) get home, I tell them to put their school bags down and put on some play clothes.  Then I take some old wood offcuts from the garage and make soccer posts at the one end of the yard.  Megan plays keeper.  (She is thrilled to even just be allowed to play with the “big boys.”)  Then Kagiso teaches Matthew how to dribble the ball.  He teaches him to shoot the ball correctly.  Matthew’s ball sense has grown a lot in the last two months – next week he is going to try out again for the Under 14’s first team.  Kagiso now believes he is ready.  I agree.  After half an hour of play I insist that they each go take a fifteen-minute power nap.  Then it’s homework time. 

However, before that we have a critical ritual that all four of us do.  The Averys have an extensive library with a wide range of books: stories for kids, teenagers and adults.  We each read for fifteen minutes.  At the start of the year, we all made our own bookmarks.  We used some cardboard, glue and glitter that I found in the crafts drawer.  I encourage the reading for two reasons: firstly, to expand our imagination.  (Sadly, this video game era has destroyed that for many kids.)  The second reason is to help each of us with our reading ability – Megan is now the second best in her grade.
While the kids are doing their homework, I read and learn online about how to write stories.  There are lots of free online courses.  (I hope to write a book one day.  That’s one of my own goals.)  If the kids need help with their homework, I gladly assist.  I am not stupid! (Contrary, to popular belief or stereotyping).  I choose to work as a domestic.  It’s very rewarding in many ways!

When it’s home time, Megan and Matthew always run to give me a tight squeeze which warms my heart.  Mrs Avery has offered to drop Kagiso and me off at the taxi rank but the walk there is not far.  Plus, I enjoy the quality time I have with my son on that walk.  He and I try to spot and identify various birds.  (The bird book at the Averys has been helpful.)  Our list numbers seventeen different species since the start of the year.

To save money, I negotiated with the taxi driver that Kagiso can sit on my lap and I buckle him in with me.  It’s quite fun in that taxi.  All the passengers and I sing together.  (I guess you could say, it’s in our culture.)  Kagiso has such a powerful voice.  I think when he’s a bit older, I will encourage him to audition for The Voice.
To save further money and to also prevent my legs from getting old too quickly, I ask the driver to drop us off about a kilometre away from our home.  Once, I met a wise old “umlungu” (white person) who told me that walking everyday will keep one healthy!  On that last stretch home, I encourage Kagiso’s imagination again and we try seeing interesting shapes and things in the clouds.   

6pm is my favourite time of day.  All four of us are together.  Solomon, Ayanda, Kagiso and I all congregate in the kitchen and work as a team.  Ayanda will peel and slice the potatoes.  My husband will prepare the chicken.  Kagiso and I prepare the vegetables.  (This entails taking them from our vegetable patch, washing them and cutting them up, ready to be cooked.)  Then whilst the food is on the go, we wash and dry the dishes and set the table too.  Before we eat and before we say Grace, each of us has a turn to say two things we are grateful (or want to celebrate) about that day.  I always want my family to be appreciative of the lives we live.  There is a lot to be thankful for!

Before Solomon and I head to bed, we make some tea, stand outside and look up at the stars in silence.  Okay, I lied previously – this part of the day is my favourite!  This handsome and kind man standing next to me.  Bliss!  I am the luckiest lady alive.  We may fall asleep with a corrugated sheet of iron over our heads, but we are happy.  This little place is our haven.  My children are going to make it big one day and they will become a lady and a gentleman and will not backstab anyone to be successful.  Not a chance! 

So, this is my world, and this is my life.  I am proud of it!  I’d like to believe I am a positive influence on Ayanda, Matthew, Kagiso and Megan.

By the way, it is no accident that you found this in your post box and that you are now reading this.  I walk past your home every day.  Again, I confess that I have sometimes heard the arguing.  I have seen how disobedient your kids can be.  (One can learn a lot from the after-work interaction of your family on your driveway.)

In conclusion, I’d like to end with a question for you:
I have Tuesdays and Thursdays free.  Would you like me to work for you?

Yours Sincerely,

Beauty
(My cell is 072 941 8036)

PS.  I did switch off Mr Avery’s computer and printer.

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

When Christians are frustrating!

I posted a really cool quote on Facebook the other day from the Little Prince.
This is the frustrating response I got:

There is a side to Christians that I don’t like.
(Please don’t get me wrong. I am a beleiver. I love Jesus. it’s His people that frustrate me at times.)
Christians just like to throw out verses and opinions on things without context.

And when I say “christians” I know I am generalizing. Thanks to those who get it right.
We need more level headed, believers.

Anyway, this guy who quoted a verse about the heart being deceiptful has not even read the book. The Little Prince. So how could he have an educated opinion? The message of the verse and the message of book are vastly different.

Context is key.

People, not just Christians. Please use your heads more! 😉

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Poetry and Prose

An online community

I think I have been blogging with WordPress for over 10 years. In the background of my life. It’s been great, the people I have met along the way. Take for example, Charlotte from The 365 Poetry Project. You can find her blog here:

https://365poetryproject.wordpress.com/

A few years, I stumbled on her site. I don’t know how. That’s the think about the blogging world. Sometimes, you just stumble upon one another.

(Granted. My pet peeve is the spam followers and likers. They don’t care about what you write. They just want traffic to their sites. BUT that will always be. You learn to just filter them out.)

Charlotte’s daily poem inspired me so much that I decided a few years back that I would do a poem series during Lent. Here is where you can find the first one:

https://darrelhoff.wordpress.com/of-poetry/poem-1-flyer/

Charlotte even send me a poem of her books, once, a few years back. I believe I had won it somehow from her site.

We have never met in person, and we probably won’t meet, unless she visits the UK or I visit the US. But that’s really not the point. I am just impressed by the solidarity in the online world. (There is still some of that)

I got this comment from Charlotte, the other day, saying that she had purchased my book:

I was super chuffed! She ordered my book. I didn’t even ask her to. She just did. How nice! On that note, I wrote a book. You can find it on amazon here:

And you can watch the promo video here:

So, thank you Charlotte. And thank you to the online community. 🙂

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Old and New

“All is quiet on New Year’s Day,” the soulful voice of Bono comes through the bluetooth speaker. They sit there, not wanting to fill the moment with their own words. The orange juice goes down well. The fried breakfast hits the spot after a heavy night. Two friends reunited after so many years. A new day, a new year.

Looking back on the night before. They stood on a balcony of a nondescript third floor apartment that overlooked the Berlin city skyline. The buildings’ shadows peering out into the horizon. They and the residents seemed to be waiting with baited breath. The clock strikes 12. The sky explodes in an array of colour and life! As far as the eye can see, the city skyline has been transformed. The fireworks welcome the new year. It’s cold out there on that balcony. 4 degrees. But they’re alive! They feel it!


The buckets balance on each end of the stick that she has carried over her shoulders. Her back and legs ache. Yes, she is young. But a 9-year-old should never have to carry that weight. She has walked 4km from her home to the nearby well. To draw some water. She notices how some bottles lay abandoned on the dirt road outside the many tin covered shacks. “Too much Phuza” gogo would say. A new day, a new year.

The fire has been made. Her brother, Amandla, has made it. He’s only 7 but he beams as the crackling would succumbs to the flames. The rocks have been laid with the awaiting kettle. He grabs the water from his sister and fills the kettle. Soon they can welcome the year with a cup of tea and some porridge. A goat bleats on a hill nearby. It’s going to be a warm day. They’re alive! They feel it!


The birdsong welcomes them to the new day. The warmth of the duvet invites them to stay in longer. He places his hand on her belly. He feels the little kick. Two more months. Then they won’t have the luxury of these lie ins. A new day, a new year. A new life on the way.

A mellow night in. Sitting on the sofa, holding hands as the trumpet of Miles Davis fills the room. He sips on a merlot, she on a cup of tea. A distant firework cracks in the sky. In this very big world, they feel alone. But it’s okay. They’re alive! They feel it.


Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

I’ve been thinking about this

I love thinking. My brain is always on the go. Sometimes I am dreaming forward. Sometimes I am feeling nostalgic. Sometimes I am doing the theology thing. Discovering and wondering and pondering and learning.

This is what I thought recently:

What sort of story have we landed in?
If we think about it… are you serious two people screwed ALL OF THIS up for us?
Adam and Eve.
Because of them, all this sin and brokenness and hurt and mess.
BECAUSE of TWO people!! Is that for real?
They sinned.
The rest of us are doomed….
We inherited this mess. We’re born into a broken world.

So that is the one thought. That is the one viewpoint.

Then i thought of this:
Imagine if everything was perfect.
No hurt, no brokenness, no mess.
Everything is as what it was meant to be!
Then what we be doing here on earth? Living in this eternal paradise. What would it involve? Surely not an unending church service… please no!
Or would it be an endless hallelujah (* that is a good song by the way, that Matt Redman)
But the point for me… is what would we do in paradise everyday? Would there by anything to create, to explore, to work towards?

So this is where THAT thought WENT:
Because we live in a fallen and broken world, there is something for us to do.
we earn our keep
we see problems, we create solutions
whether they’re smaller personal ones, or larger worldwide humanatiarian ones such as hunger and poverty and unrest.
these issues / these problems… activate People to Creatively Solve the issues.
Well at least start, in their lifetime.

On another note, we work hard, pay some bills, save some.. get to go on that holiday. We earn our way to that break. it’s our reward. it’s our treat. We’re thrilled when we get there.
So part of our this life.
is about striving to get something and somewhere.

About studying hard, getting the good grades
Creating
Making
Offering
Helping

If there was nothing to fix, nothing to earn, nothing to stive for.

If there was absolutely serenity, no hurt, no poverty, no brokenness, no hate, no problems AT ALL.

What would be doing??

the church is here to serve
the church is here to help
the church is here to give grace
etc etc etc

BUT if there was not SIN in the WORLD at all.
What would be doing here?

Seriously, does anyone else not think about these things?

I don’t have the answers.
I love the mystery of it.
I love that my finite brain cannot comprehend everything.

This i know. I am grateful for the gift of life. I am grateful I am here. I don’t take good health for granted. relationship makes sense. I long for it. it’s in us.
And while we are here on earth – if we get to create, bring good, help others. then we should.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

The Thing about Loneliness

the thing about loneliness
is that the one experiencing it, often feels
like
they’re the only one
we ask, why me?
why is this so difficult?

truth is, that
loneliness,
sadly is a worldwide thing
knowing that brings a certain solidarity,
weirdly…
But it doesn’t take the difficult feelings away

there is loneliness in workplaces
there is loneliness in schools
there is loneliness is solitude
there is loneliness in zoom meetings
there is loneliness in airports
there is loneliness in marriages
there is loneliness in friendships

recently, I heard this advert, not sure what company it is:
they suggest: “make that call”
we can stop loneliness
(something like that?)
I liked it
something simple, something practical
and also as the #dudewithsign says:
reply to that text

dear connected people,
reach out to those who are lonely
send a text
make that call
don’t assume things
give quality time
take someone for a walk
go for a coffee
do something thoughtful

dear lonely people,
reach out to people
put on the radio
answer the damn phone
go for a walk, appreciate the birdsong, the fresh air
give people time
don’t hermit yourselves
and there is a difference between being alone
and being lonely
know the difference

the thing about loneliness, is that it’s a worldwide thing
but often, it doesn’t need to be a permanent thing,
it’s passing