Monday, 21 January 2019

Stories for 2019

It's that time of year. The third Monday of the new year, and the longest January ever. Which means we're at our least happy part of the Happy New Year. Even Good Housekeeping says so. Sigh.  Natalie made me laugh with her post about it - How was your week? Indeed.

Another friend pointed me a few weeks ago in the direction of Jonathan Jansen's 2013 New Year's post. In case you don't remember it, it was titled My South Africa and he told stories, his stories of returned wallets with not a cent missing, other stories of people in wheelchairs serving the poor, our stories of Mandela out of jail and preaching forgiveness and Tutu saving a necklacing victim. This, he says, is my South Africa. Click the picture to read the famous piece.

It made me think about what kind of world I want to live in. And the stories that may help me define it.

So on this day, the unhappiest Monday of our happy new year, I'm sharing some stories that I love. Stories from South Africa, and from across the pond, that have made me think about life, and how I like it to work. It may not always be like this, but when it is, I can do it.

Here's one about a little boy, his family at Christmas time when he nearly died, and a great outpouring of love and care and support, including this amazing song.

Which reminds me of our local version - little Kiara Mungavin. You can read all about it on her mom Jaci's blog. Here's a post I loved. A Christmas Eve tragedy, a family facing loss and a goodbye to a precious sister and daughter, and then a miraculous and wondrous recovery, a community that won't give up on this little ballerina and her loving faith-filled family. The story continues.

Coming closer to my home now, there's the story of my own sister. Also a story of faith, of a miracle that was years in the making...Lindsay needed a kidney. Both her kidneys have PKD, and a transplant was her only option. We have been amazed at and grateful for so many things...

Starting with God's constant favour, blessing and provision of 9 beautiful kidney donors - all the right blood type and all willing to live with one kidney so Lindsay can live a healthy life. I don't know how or why we were so blessed with these generous humans in our lives, but they give me hope, and inspire me to live better.

Lindsay's daily healing - she has never looked as if she were even sick, trusting her Father minute by minute for good health, and eating well and exercising as much as possible to keep strong. 

A transplant cancelled at the last minute in December 2017 (yes we are grateful now), when we all felt this was the miracle, that felt like a door slamming in our faces, but it taught us so much - to wait, to trust, and that God was present in the waiting.

And finally, radiantly, gloriously, the completion of this part of the story, by going back to the beginning. Sandy was the first person ever to come forward and offer Lindsay a kidney, and in a miraculous turn of events, she came back and offered again. This time, the tests were passed, the kidney was transplanted, both ladies are strong and healthy and there are now many happy memories to be made. Lindsay's story is mostly on Facebook, and you can follow it by clicking the picture of Lindsay and Sandy below.

And even closer - the story of a run, a life saved (my own) and another miraculous recovery. Click the picture.

So these are some stories that have inspired me, and kept me believing I can live in a world where strangers (and loved ones) are kind, lives can change for the better, and God can, and does work miracles. 

There's one more, and then I want to hear some of yours.

It's the story of a tiny teeny black kitten, mewing softly in the green leafy bushes, found while we were on a run...

He was brought home, scared and alone in the world and I was reminded in great detail, not just of all the cat allergies in our family, but HOW VERY ALLERGIC everyone was. That day ended with me coming home, Nyx in one hand (he really was only a handful) and Allergex in the other. It continued with a trip a few weeks later to the sea (7 hour car trip) with Nyx and family - "He's already been abandoned once, we couldn't possibly abandon him again." 

And it continues, with the adoption of Gatsby. These kittens have brought purrs, joy, delight and contentment into our household. They curl up on our chests, in our necks and on our hearts, purring wildly, and we have "lost" many hours playing with them, watching them, telling each other about their antics. Allergies forgotten, cats embraced, we have spent dinner times boring our family, friends and even strangers with the stories of our little kittens. They've been rescued, but so have we.

Now over to you - please tell me a story. 

In the comments on Facebook, or even here on my blog. What's happened to you, that has made you grateful? What story makes you glad to be South African, human, alive?

And as we tell our stories, with gratitude, let's look for those moments in 2019.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Ten of the Best #144

Happy  2019 everyone. I've been away, and not doing much social media-ing. The danger of me posting this today is that one of my favourite questions - "If you haven't seen this, where have you been, living under a rock?" could very well be used on me today. Because I have. It was a big rock, next to a sand dune. And it rained a lot, and internet was down, or slow. So I read lots of books. A highly recommended experience. But I risk posting today all the stuff that you're all already bored with. Bear with me, I'm catching up. I am back at the spot with the best weather in the country at this time of year, and the wifi speed is epic. Grab your tea - I'm on my third cup already, and let's do this.

Trevor on the chaos that is our world these days...

The Golden Globes happened, and Fashion Critical weighed in on all the frocks and the suits - click through the photos, and read the description (no, not all the comments, it'll take way too long).

And if you missed the globes, there is only one moment you need to watch - it's the Glen Close speech. Wonderful emotional stuff.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Love is Blind by William Boyd

Brodie Moncur is a young Scottish musician and piano tuner about to embark on the story of his life. His employer wants to send him to Paris, it's the end of the 19th century, and this will give Brodie a chance to escape Edinburgh and his stifling family including his preacher-father to Paris - where it's happening.

Brodie connects with a famous pianist, and Lika Blum, a beautiful Russian soprano.

This story is a gentle whirlwind of passion, music and romanticism, ambition, betrayal and revenge. By that I mean, it's gentle for a whirlwind. In an age where masterpieces were created, and rivals were destroyed, it requires a masterful touch to hold the threads together. In this story  - a simultaneous revelation of the beauty, poetry, symmetry and creativity required for the birth of a musical creation and the evil and corruption for the destruction of a soul who may compete for affections, the limelight, or just threaten one's temporary place in the sun, William Boyd proves he is worthy of the "master" title. 

A wondrous 4 stars.


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

2018 Best in Books

Goodreads has this neat little feature. It's called Your Year in Books. Apart from seeing what people like Bill Gates and Sarah Jessica Parker have done in their reading lives, it will show you all the lovely statistics, like this.

And if you've set a reading challenge, you'll be used to seeing these. So satisfying.

All these statistics are a great way to introduce my  favourites from 2018, which I do at about this time of the new year. (see 2017's Best Books here). How it works, is that I summarise why I've chosen each one here, but if you click the cover images, you like through to my reviews, and then can come back here for more. 

2018 was a bumper reading year, so grab your coffee, and get comfortable,

The first one of these (and almost definitely my favourite of all the favourites) happened to be everyone else's favourite on Goodreads too - which is unlike me (to like what everyone else is liking, when everyone else is liking it, that is). But Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson was truly worth all the accolades. I keep returning to parts of it in my memory. Click the picture below to link to my review. And then get yourself a copy. And read.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Best of 2018 - Part Two

It's still the perfect time for me to publish a "Best of 2018" post,  and gather all my favourite parts of the Ten of the Best posts I posted this (last) year.    

If you're new to this, I post summaries of what I've enjoyed from all my friends' social media timelines, about once a week. It gives me time and space to catch up on what I've missed during the week, and also puts it all in place where I can find it if I need to. Here's the round up of the year - Part Two.  Missed Part One? Don't worry, it's right here.    

The recap of 2018, as per the Late Late show is fun.

This TED talk - a message to women about inner rage, by Tracee Ellis Ross, was my favourite of the year.

An excellent take, from the Eusebius McKaiser show on truth, lies and bullshit. 
It's long, but well worth a listen. Even if you stop at the calls - the difference between truth, lies - where we can still be held accountable, and bullshit - just make it up as you go along. 

This is a great read by Sam Knight in the New Yorker - if you have the time.  It has little gems, mostly about Theresa May and Brexit, but also Dover, and S.L.S. which is a term that doctors are using informally to describe an over-all feeling of depression and ill-health; it stands for "Shit Life Syndrome." Really great insights and writing.

Have we forgotten how to make friends?

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books - "you know the one with the girl, and the boy, and the house? I can't remember the author, no." And they get it. Wow.

Trump's false statements - this site updates regularly - how many untruths so far in the presidency?

My favourite prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Emma Thompson is hilarious.

What I loved about this interview of Ellen's with Naomi Osaka, is that she makes it all about Naomi, and showcases this sweet, young, lovely champion, whose big moment was stolen from her in 2018.

This interpretative dance clip was outstanding. David Armand must have rehearsed so hard. I'm surprised they didn't interrupt him with a guess ten seconds into the song, but very glad they didn't. I can't stop watching it. 

Harry Potter homecoming assembly - these kids are great.

This Daddy's Twitter story made me cry.

Anne Lamott - one of my favourites.

 Julia Louis-Dreyfuss' acceptance speech of the Mark Twain award for comedy was also a hit with me.

Happy 2019, everyone! Here's to more fun, laughter, and sharing with friends.

Best of 2018 - Part One.

All the 2018 Tens.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Best of 2018 - Part One

Hello there. It's that "between Christmas and New Year" twilight zone. Which means it's the perfect time for me to publish a "Best of 2018" post, include some Christmas fare that I never got around to, and gather all my favourite parts of the Ten of the Best posts I posted this year.    

If you're new to this, I post these summaries of what I enjoy from all my friends' social media timelines, about once a week. It gives me time and space to catch up on what I've missed during the week, and also puts it all in place where I can find it if I need to. Here's the round up of the year - part one. (And if you came here looking for Part Two, it's here.)     

2018 got off to a flying start, with some #MeToo rants. Here's Geraldine DeRuiter. She admits "I Made the Pizza Cinnamon Rolls from Mario Batali’s Sexual Misconduct Apology Letter." And speaking of getting ugly, and sweary, and angry, and did I mention sweary? You have been warned. Click the pic.

Millenials were still one of our favourite subjects - did you see this one on interviewing a millennial?

I loved everything about Ellen's take on Lady Doritos - the chips invented "for women".

SONA and #SendMe. How quickly we forget.

Hasta la vista - Poplak's piece.

The year of weird Trump, as per Trevor.

The classic "How to give a cat a pill" moment.

The  Carpool Karaoke of the year... 

And this may make you shed a tear. Marshmello ft Bastille - Happier.

SU Choir did it with "Say Something".

And we'll sign out with James Corden's Christmas Karaoke - enjoy.

I'll be back soon with part 2, but if you feel like revisiting some of your favourites to see what I skipped over - here they all are.

Best of 2018 Part Two.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Ten of the Best #143

No story necessary - Zuma's bills getting bigger.

Morning all. It's been a busy few weeks for me and my family, so I apologise for the radio silence. But I'm back, with all the stuff raided from your time lines, that I haven't watched yet. Until now, that is.

Do it, do it - Google "Idiot", click on images and see if Trump comes up. Of course now he will, definitely, because Google were asked if they had "deliberately" altered the algorithms that determine what comes up in their searches. Spoiler alert - of course they hadn't. Here're my image results, and if you click the image, you'll see the story of the Google investigation. How does Congress have time for this? (I know we do, but this is what we do on a Saturday morning, catch up on all the news.)

And aren't the following statements refreshing in their honesty?

“And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds,” said Cohen, reports our own Daily Maverick - click the image.

“I am done with the lying,” Cohen said. “I am done being loyal to President Trump.” Washington Post article here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

I'm a big fan of audiobooks, and when I saw that the author, Markus Zusak narrated Bridge of Clay, I was sold. 

Having enjoyed The Book Thief - maybe not as much as others did (but tbh, some really gushed about that book) I felt I was in safe hands, and started, and started and started a third time.

Seriously, this isn't easy to get into.

The writing is beautiful, but there are these clangers dropped in, that make you wonder - what on earth? Like who is the murderer, who is writing the story, all these animals, all these boys and how come all the chaos and confusion in their home? Patience is required. I did wonder a few times, whether I would remember the things I didn't know for long enough, when the reveal came, would I care? The stunning prose helps you persevere and recall though - here's a well quoted excerpt.


Once, in the tide of Dunbar past – long before kitchens and boys, and murderers and mules – there was a many-named woman. And what a woman she was.
First, of course, the name she was born with: Penelope Lesciuszko.
Then the one christened at her piano: the Mistake Maker.
Her factory name was Penny Lessing.
Her unfortunate, self-proclaimed nickname was the Broken-Nosed Bride.
And last, the name she died with: Penny Dunbar.
Quite fittingly, she had travelled from a place that was best described by a certain phrase in the books she was raised on.
She came from a watery wilderness."

If you, like me, can persevere, you will be rewarded with the most wonderful depiction of a household of rough-and-tumble boys. Boys who had to grow up too quickly, boys who know how to fend for themselves and each other. Here's some more...

“He, as much as anyone, knows who and why and what we are:

A family of ramshackle tragedy.

A comic book kapow of boys and blood and beasts.”

The five Dunbar boys grow up - apparently in Australia. They have a mule, a pigeon, a cat, a dog, but there are no parents, not much school, but plenty of training, fighting and drinking. The history and backstory of Mom and Dad are filled in, slowly, like the colours in a painting revealing more with every page. And when the clangers come together, in all their mystery and awkwardness, and ugliness and truth, you may weep a little. Last quote: 

"When I asked if I might run with him, he'd shrugged and we soon became:
It was training, it was escaping.
It was perfect pain and happiness."

A wonderful heartwarming and heartbreaking, character-driven book, with larger than life scenes that will stay with you for a long time.

4 stars


More books.

Monday, 26 November 2018

In your dreams

Good morning all my fellow exercisers. What's up today?

Struggling to get your shoes on and go this morning? Me too. My usual partners-in-crime have deserted me, and a strange cloudy coolness seems to have settled over beautiful Jozi this morning - lulling me into thinking - "tut tut, it looks like rain" (which the weather app vehemently denies, so I should go anyway), and I'm stuck in between the putting on of shoes and the making of another cuppa - whereupon I shall surely abandon the shoes and the run and get back into bed.

So before I do, I'm sharing a song I listened to on the radio again yesterday, and it reminded me what a beautiful voice, lovely melodies and uplifting lyrics can do for a mood. And while I do, I'm looking outside, and I'm thinking how gorgeous our city is, even in its cloudy coolness.

The song is by Vicky Sampson - Arikan Dream. Here it is.

All I want is for our heartbeats to be beating just as one,
To silence the confusion
Then the pain and the illusion will disappear again
And we will never run, Cause

In my Afrikan Dream, there’s a new tomorrow
My Afrikan Dream is a dream that we can follow
And though it would seem my hope’s an illusion
My Afrikan Dream is an end to the confusion

Mawetbu we Afrika (Africans)
Nine kusasa Elittlbe (You have a bright future)
Igugu e Afrika (Pride of Africa)
Sizoni landela ma Afrika (We shall follow you Africans)
Siyayibona Intlanzi (We can see the future)
Ukukbanya Kwentokozo (The light of joy)
Iguguletbu le Afrika (Afrikan pride)
Ukupbela Kwenkinga Zonke (The end of all tribulation)

And now, despite the unfortunate lyrics - "And we will never run", I'm going. Because all this remembering has reminded me how much I love this time of day, the opportunity to hear the birds close up, and to connect with nature and God and start the day and the week the way I love to.

Join me?

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Ten of the Best #142

It's been a while, hasn't it? Which means I have a great deal to share - all the best clips and articles from your timelines...

ICYMI - Trump said RAKING the forest floors would have prevented the fires in California. Yes, he truly did (see first link), and this Finish videographer responded (second). Hilarious.

Staying with men who think they know everything about raking, pregnancy, and other stuff they don't actually do in real life, ignore the headline - this is about the onslaught on women's rights in the US continuing. Speaking of which, have you seen Birthright: A War Story? It's on Showmax, and quite the horror movie of our times.

Project Flamingo doing great things in SA for the breast cancer surgery backlog. Bravo to all concerned.