A South African, married to an American, finally adapting to my adopted country. I love life, laughter, good friends and the warmth that my two kids have filled me with. I glory in the colors of my life and am grateful for the gray days as they allow me to appreciate the rainbows.

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Location: New York, United States

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Friday, March 31, 2006

The meringue

Happy Anniversary

Today is Josh and my tenth anniversary. Its hard to believe that we have been married for 10 years. Ten years ago we were in South Africa exchanging vows at the Berea Shul, the same Temple where both sets of Grandparents made their committment to each other. It was a hard day, dealing with lots of personalities and a rather anxious husband who was not known for dealing with stress well, his having to deal with his divorced parents and their own animosity was really tough for him. His folks have a great realtionship provided his mom is not around his step-mom. His step-mom is a doll but his mom really gets on edge and make sure she takes everyone down with her.

Its funny but I am known for only wearing black, my dad had never seen me in white (neither had I). We kept the wedding dress a surpirise, my mom was the only one who had seen it. It was a gorgeous dress but a meringue of note!!! When she called my dad upstairs to come and see me, he moved faster then I had ever known him to, she barely got the words out of her mouth when he was standing next to me. He could not say a word, and I still picture the look in his eyes, he brushed my cheek with his had, so overwhelmed with emotion, we both faught back the tears. I descended the stairs and the show began.

I was the first daughter to get married. The day Josh propsed to me was not exactly a high point. I was staying in his apartment for the weekend, he had such a beautiful place with the most incredible view. I had just received a letter from a friend of mine who now lives in Australia, I have written before (Wednesday, February 22, 2006) on my immigration experience. Letters from those I loved, literally sent me into a tailspin. I would sob for days. This was one of those moments. I was sobbing. Could not stop. Josh knelt on the floor next to me and started talking about how he hated to see me in so much pain and he would do anything to make it better and how he promised to take care of me, and how his greatest wish was to grow old with me and love me forever. He wanted to know if I would marry him. I was not sure I said, I am so sad, I can't live in New York forever, I am going to go back home one day. He said,fine I will go back with you. Now this is even funnier as I had met Josh 10 months before.

I have an Uncle who is a Title Closer, he was at a closing with a girl, he said to her don't you know any nice jewish boys to introduce my niece to (this is the Uncle that was marriend to my mom's sister - they divorced over 20 years ago)? She said sure, she caled me up and said I have this great guy, Matt, to introduce you to, can I give him your number. I said no thanks but I would love to meet you. I don't do blind dates but am always open to meeting new people. She set up a date for her and I to go out, and asked if Matt could come too. Sure I said, the more the merrier. Matt brought Josh with him. I was early (as usual), they arrived late, as I was to learn later being on time for Matt was being half an hour late. Josh walked in all I know is he annoyed the crap out of me. She chose a pricey restaurant, I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, they ordered multiple courses. I drank water, the alcohol at the table flowed. I was barely surviving in NY and always too proud to let people know just how broke I was. When the bill came, Josh snatched it and said, I'll pay. Elissa said, no don't be silly we will split it. I was saying, please pay, please pay, silently in my head. My el chepo dinner ended up costing a fortune. I was devastated. All night long, Josh was cracking jokes about South Africa and Tarzan and Jane. I was not amused. My cousin Lisa had just left that day to return to SA and I was so sad. Its so funny I just knew at the end of the night that he was going to ask for my number and I was a little relieved when he didn't. The next morning my phone rings, its Josh, he had asked Elissa for my number. I spent the next few weeks trying to avoid him, getting off the phone as quickly as possible. He was not for me, ulike anyone I had ever dated or was planning to date. Ended up going on a few dates with Matt, not for me either. As a friend of mine told me at the time, the accent was 10 points before you even met the person. We started off with short chats that extended to hours. Josh has always worked hard, he would leavethe city at 5am every morning to get into work at 6am. At 7am he would call me with a toothbrush report as he termed it of what the weather was like for the day, at that time 70 degrees or 50 degrees meant absolutely nothing to me. He would tell me whether to bring a jacket or sweater. The weather can be gorgeous one day and snow the next. I had never been good at relationships and managed to avoid getting close to people. I also dated people who made opening up not a safe thing to do. Josh could read me like no-one ever had. Its funny I always say if I was not at such a low point in my life I would never have been vulnerable enough to have opened myself to a relationship, I never needed anyone before and now I did. Badly. He was so persistent, you see for him the minute he saw me he says it was like a thunderbolt struck, he knew he had found the womanhe wanted to marry. he told his family that he had met his wife, it just took him two months to convince me to even go out with him. He never gave up, twice a day he called, and one day he didn't. It was unsettling. I actually missed our chats, so I finally said yes to going out with him. Its not like I did not see him at all, I got bust a few times telling him I was going to Long Island and he would show up at a party I was attending. Poor guy. He would ask questions and I would say, Josh that is really none of your business. When you are in a relationship you need to tell your partner. Yes I would say but you and I are not in a relationship and it is none of your business.

The funniest thing is when I left South Africa my grandmother was still alive. She gave me a ring that she had brought from Russia when she left before WW II. She told me to wear it for good luck. The only finger it fitted was my thumb. I never took it off. Its the most beautiful pinkish gold ring, very simple a band. One night when I was out in a crowd with Josh, he looked at the ring and he said - that is going to be my wedding band. I laughed and said who are you kidding, I am never going to go out with you let alone marry you. That day I spoke about my trip to South Africa and how I was longing to go home. He said I am going to South Africa with you. Of course I told him he was nuts (which is still up for debate :) . Never say never, my next trip back to South Africa was when we had our engagement party, and the ring, well it fit him perfectly, like it was made for him. I guess my grandma knew something I didn't.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Coincidence? I think not.....

I am such a believer in the adage that "EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON". I know I sound like a cliche but its just the way my world turns. Yesterday I had a hectic day, Ryan had a Neurologist appointment at 7:30am, I dropped her at school and then headed off to Rocky Point, which in Indian/Native American means Way The Hell Out There!!! It was far. Josh's dad bought him a Magellan Navigational system for his birthday last year - I am thrilled with it :) My job consists on me being in places I could not even find on a map even if I had a map reading gene. This system tells me where to go, when to turn and what gas stations are along the way ... it does not get better then that. It didn't hurt that Rocky Point also meant I had to go past some of my favourite shopping haunts :) When I was driving I passed a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Store Front. When I first moved to the States I had interviewed with the company, they run a Residential Real Estate Publication, I had run one in SA, they were located in Coram, about an hour drive from my Uncle but I had no car, so had to travel back by train to a central line then catch a train to Coram. It took me 4 hours to get there. I left at 4am for a 9am interview. We had such a jol that the interview lasted a whole day and when it was time for me to go, Kevin, the owner rented a huge white stretch limo to take me back to my Uncles. Unfortunately with the whole visa nightmare I was unable to work for them no matter how much we both wanted it to happen.

I did not have time to stop but went on to my closing which I must say was heartbreaking, it was an elderly man who was living on a fixed income and trying to get out from a mountain of debt. His wife had died two years earlier and they were dependent on her income. He ended up rescinding the loan. If the loan rescinds or the closing adjourns I do not earn anything - the joys of working for oneself. Driving back I had a bit of time to kill so I retraced my steps and went to the FSBO office, knocked on the door and no-one answered. I called the number listed on the door, a woman answered, I told her that I was standing outside their Port Jefferson office and I wanted to speak to Kevin. She says ... are you looking for ad space? No I say, I am a friend. How is it that he has never mentioned you, she says. I am not sure I say, is he there?? Actually she says you have come through to the main switchboard in Coram, hang on let me try contact him, I said tell him South is outside (Dori, his assistant, had coined the nickname for me when I interviewed with them 13 years ago - they had never met anyone from South Africa before). Next thing a guy comes to the door, not looking anything like the Kevin I remembered. He opens the door and says I received a call from my office saying someone is outside and they can't understand what you are saying. He stops in his tracks and says, Tammy is that you??? Hey Kevin how the hell are you. Big hugs and kisses. Long chat. What are you doing with your life he asks, actually I am a title closer. He stops in his tracks ..... what he says??? Its not like I said I was a rapist or anything... he says to me, I am starting my own Title Company on April 6th. No concidences. The odd part of the story is that he is NEVER ever in the Port Jeff office, they use it very rarely but he had met with a client there and decided to work there. Odd I tell you odd. So maybe 13 years later we can finally work together.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

6 degrees of separation....

I had a closing today. The buyer was purchasing a home from his best friend. The mortgage broker is a childhood friend. His lawyer knew him from when the purchaser was a kid. We do the closing, at the end he invites everyone at the table to his restaurant for lunch. Calda Pizzeria. No way I say. Don't you remember me, I am the person who brought you into the party world kicking and screaming. You see Ms. Ryan was turning 7. She wanted to have a baking party. At the time she was on a severely restriceted diet and sugar was the biggest no no of all. There are a few rather over-priced places that only make cookies or cupcakes. No pizza parties. So I worked the pizza places in our neighbourhood. No-one would even consider the idea. Until I met Chris at Calda. He was more then a bit hesitant but I did not get an overwhelming no. I worked on him for a few weeks and explained how when his restaurant was not open on a Saturday or Sunday he could get paid for parties, let the kids make their own pizza's and viola. It took about 5 meetings but he came over to my side (I can be a bit like a pitbull when need be), we worked out how to do it, and it went off with barely a hit. It was his partner/brother Denis's closing. He told me that they are doing so well with the parties and are booked up for months in advance. They are such sweet guys, I am so happy it worked out. The bank attorney walked in at that moment and heard the name - turns out it was her favourite pizza place and she recited the menu back to him with ease. The only person out of a rather full conference room that was not connected to the restaurant or the buyer was the sellers attorney. Its such a small out of the way place. Small world hey!!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Out of the mouth of babes...........

Nikki came into my room for our daily shnuggle session - 5am sharp. Its getting earlier and earlier. She knows to shnuggle with dad who is an early bird and let mom acclimate to the day!!! At about 5:30am Josh heads for the shower and Nikki comes to shnuggle me. It is such a delicious treat to feel this little body mould herself to mine. She inserts her mass of curls under my chin and will only move to cover my face (literally) with warm, wet little kisses. There is nothing better. Its our time to talk without the world intruding. I remember doing the same thing with my mom a million years ago. Mom she says to me, are you the boss of dad? What do you mean Niks I say? She says are you daddy's boss? I start laughing and say, No of course not we are partners. What makes you say that? Well Mom she says, you are always shouting at him, its sounds like nanana nana. I had to laugh, really I say. Josh came out of the shower. Nik I say, tell Daddy how I sound. She does her interpretation. Yes he says that sounds about right. I guess they all zone out of my nagging. Am I the boss of her dad? LOl, you have to meet my strong willed New Yawker to determine that for yourself. Luckily Andi's computer is broken so she can't comment. Sometimes silence is golden, especially at 5am.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pretentious presents

I received this e-mail on Friday from my daughters principal. The school now does paperless notices to try and conserve paper. It is a wonderful thing as instead of throwing out the reams of paper that come home with a million messages I can now hit the delete button and be done with it.

Dear Parents,

This is just a reminder that students in elementary school should not have cell phones or I Pods in school. Please remind students to leave these expensive items at home.

Thank you for your cooperation with this matter.


B. Bauer

This message is just a small part of what I try to deal with on a daily basis with my kids. Josh always maintains the hardest word to say is no. I must say my kids must feel that its the easiest word as they hear it, a lot. It is so hard to keep kids grounded in the disposable soceity we live in. American kids do not only have a lot of stuff but they have excessive amounts of high tech expensive gadget each one trying to out do the other. I got a call the other day from a parent in Ryan's class who is trying to get a group together to buy a birthday gift for two girls who are having a combined party. She wanted us to chip in to buy an i-pod for each of the girls. Can I just add that both girls already have i-pods but they want the latest ones. Keep in mind these girls are 8 years old. Yes, 8 years old!!! What's next. I know for sweet 16's they expect Prada bags, real ones and they can tell the difference. I don't even own a real Prada or real anything for that matter. What exactly are we teaching our kids? The pressure to keep up with Joneses is huge and I have to say for the most part my kids don't expect it. They would like a lot of stuff and they have the ability to get it with our pebble system.

We have a huge glass container of shiny glass pebbles, the type you use for flower arrangements, the girls each earn a pebble everyday for making their beds, cleaning their rooms, and cleaning up from the table when they are done eating. They are 5 and 7. They do a great job on their beds, better then me I must say. Each pebble is worth a dollar. Ryan can earn 5 pebbles for her and Nikki at the end of the week if she gets all her words right on her test on Friday or 3 pebbles if she gets up to 2 wrong, if she gets more then that wrong she gets no pebbles. Nikki can earn pebbles for her and Ryan by reaching her objectives in class and her teacher tells me whether she has or not during the week. I find making them work for pebbles for the other creates a positive cheerleading environment. Nikki will keep quiet so Ryan can learn and Ry will be after Nikki to find out what she has to achieve and encourage her to do it. They can lose pebbles too, for a smart mouth, lying, fighting, etc.

The pebble system really works well as I find I no longer have to yell at them and they feel a sense of accomplishment whenever they earn something. It also eliminates the "I want that" phenomenon. Ry wants an Ipod. Sure I say to her, save your pebbles and you can buy one. She also wants another American Girl Doll (she has bought 2 already with her pebbles), she understands that if she buys the doll then she won't be getting the ipod. Its a hard lesson to teach but I hope its one that will carry her through life, opportunity cost is what it all boils down to.

One of my toughest challenges is keeping our house cable TV free. Ry is not exactly a kid who fits into our surroundings, and looking at the kids in her grade, I am pretty thankful for that. Unfortunately being an artiste and not being able to talk about the pop culture is hard. Right now the kids are all abuzz about High School Musical, she would love to watch it and I would love her to be able to converse with her pals about it, unfortunately the quandry is two fold, firstly we do not have cable and secondly the show is at 8:30 on a Thursday Night, her bedtime is 7pm. I feel for her and would love to remedy it, but I really want her childhood to be about playing and getting as much freshair as possible then being slumped in front of a TV and zoning out. I don't believe her and Nikki will look back at this time in their lives and say ... remember when we watched High School musical? Rather they can talk about the adventures of boxy (Ryan is Boxy the dog), or when they play butterfly girl and princess girl (Ry is Princess girl and Nikki, Butterfly girl). One day when they have kids of their own, their will realize the treasures of their childhood, until then it won't quite gel with those around them. Maybe thats not a bad thing.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

PTA Politics

If all the world is a stage then my neighbour deserves an award. Its amazing, I am quite a bit taller then her, definitely more outspoken then her and I am completely invisible to her. As luck would have it we both signed up for the same PTA committee, the Teachers Appreciation Luncheon. When you sign up for a committee it is a two yera commitment. Last year her and I really pulled together and made a great event, tragically after that she lost her sight, where I was concerned at least. This year I remained completely invisible, I think the fact that I spaced most of the meetings certainly endeared me to her but I did more behind the scenes stuff. I also am the onl working parent on the committee (joys). On Wednesday we did set up for the luncheon, its amazing how I finally came into focus and not only became Tammy but Tam. Tam is so creative she says, Tam will make it look incredible, what do you think Tam. She could not take two steps without me. OK so I am the only creative one out of the lot of us, and I must say the library looked unbelievable, we did a picnic in Tuscany theme, they spent weeks picking out things, I went to the store the day before, picked up a few items and viola, lol, the stuff I picked up completely made the decor. By Friday my magic dust must have dissapeared into the night because by the start of the luncheon I was once again invisible. The teachers had a great time and it was amazing - the food was awesome. I am happy to hang up my PTA badge and am now officially off every list that there is. Sigh of relief.................

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In a New York State of mind........

I am not sure what sends my mind in so many different directions but it goes there and I am never quite sure how to reel it back in. Its a funny world we reside in, guests passing through, leaving our mark or dissapearing into the dust when our time is gone. I sometimes look at the world that passes by and try to imagine what people are doing, thinking and who theya re, really, not just the persona they project. New York is such a great city to watch pedestrians, there are the most interesting sorts around. Its funny when I first moved here I was walking around the City, as New Yorkers call Manhattan, and I was watching the antics of a homeless man, was almost run over by a man whizzing down the manic street in a business suit wearing rollerblades. I could not believe the sights, yellow cabs flying past. I said to myself, these people are crazy, I sear, New Yorkers are nuts!! It was at that point I realized they were all looking at ME, because I had said it out loud. Needless to say I have managed to fit in quite well in the past few years and am now certifiable. Call me a New Yorker. If the name fits .............

Monday, March 20, 2006


Went to see Capote on Saturday Night. In a word. WOW. It has been a long time since I have been to a movie and when the credits roll up everyone sits there, completely quiet, waiting. It took us a few moments to realize it was over. It was a powerful movie and worthwhile seeing.

We were lucky enough to be accompanied by our friends Debie and Kevin. They are a fun couple, she is swiss and he grew up on Long Island in New York. They are the reason we actually stayed in New york. When I met them I was really at rock bottom, I was so miserable here and so unable to connect with people. Its so hard being a people person and being on a different plane to those around you. I had just been at a birthday party with Nikki for our across the street neighbours daughter who is 6 months older then Nikki. It was something to see, there were these grown women (all who live in walking distance of me), all who knew me, they made these little circles, and when I came up to them they would squeeze the circle shut and push me out. It was so juvenile. I spent the rest of the time by myself on a chair watching the gymnastics party and holding back tears. We had to leave early as Nikki (my social butterfly) had another party for her pre-school group. I called Josh on the way to the second party and said thats it, we are packing up, and we are moving and if you have to work in home depot to support us, I don't care, I can't take this anymore. I walked into the second party where we were treated like royalty, we call Nikki the little mayor as wherever she goes she has a little entourage and she has a magnetic personality. Well the ranks opened up and the mayor and I had a great time, it was at this party that I met Deb and through her a group of interesting, fun women that I could relate to. We started our creative moms club where we paint, tie dye or just have dinner and chat. Funny for her it was the same, her and my connection and the husbands connection is what kept us all in our homes and allowed us both to start making more friends and finally feeling at home here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The ties that bind us.............

Friendship is an interesting concept. We can have ties that bind us until the end of time or a common interest that is fleeting. There are people I have connected with online and others who have been in my corner my whole life. I never had a problem bonding with people until I came to America. It was tough to work out how peoples minds worked and trying to find people who viewed life in the same skewed way that I do.

Two years ago I had a turning point, I started connecting with wonderful women who challenged my mind and made me laugh like I had not done in years. I have found one of the strongers ties that binds my latest group of friends in my neighbourhood is our connection to our extended families. We all have involved parents, siblings and cousins. Our kids are exposed to so much love through so many people and are so much the beter for it. Its funny but Americans have broken down their connections to their families, when one is 18 you are expected to fly away and soar. take out student loans be independent and visit on Thanksgiving, call on Mother's/Father's Day and spend the rest of you life making it about me. I still believe it takes a village to raise a child. Last night I went out to a PTA dinner/fundraiser with members of my new tribe, we're a mixed lot of Indian's, Asians, American's and a token South African. I love laughing with these woman and I love our connection. How much did I miss having people who could have me laughing so hard that I could not breathe. Laughter is my medicine. I hate these PTA functions where so many people know me and its amazing because I am completely invisible to them. They see right through me. I guess the Weight Watchers is working.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Family feud..........

There are very few people who piss me off to the extend that I cut them out of my life. One is my neighbour who happens to be certifiable, not in a good way. I personally prefer people who fall outside the realm of normal, she is so far out of that range that one wonders if she is even part of the species.

There is of course my cousin who sued my dad, and last but not least my first cousin. I have 8 first cousins. We grew up in close proximity and would spend tons of time together, it bound us all as tight as siblings, including small squabbles all which could be mended and we would move on to the next event. We are all close in age which gave us a broad range of common interests. As we got older, we all moved to different parts of the world, we all grew into whom we were destined to be. I am so fortunate in that I truly love and like my cousins, there is just one who leaves me cold.

I have been brought up that one does the right thing no matter what, sometimes to my detriment but the right thing needs to be done above all else. I came to the realization a few years back that doing the right thing was pointless when you tried to do it for people who had no concept of what the right thing was. So I learned to be selective, I learned to not expect an equal relationship but one where there was a certain amount of give an take. While it would be wrong to paint a picture of this relative as someone who is a take, she is not, but she is someone that needs life to follow a certain pattern and you are either in or out. I have spent too long being out, being judged for not doing what she deemed I ought to. She is not a huge fan of my husband and would go for months, sometimes years without speaking to me for some transgression or other, whether his or mine. Never having the decency to tell me what she was pissed off about, she was like a faucet moving from hold to cold in an instant. I decided to take that power away from her and just have nothing to do with her. I do not wish her harm, I just do not wish her to be in my life. As luck would have it, she recently got divorced and moved with her kids to Long Island, it certainly complicates matters as it puts my other realtives on Long Island in a rather difficult situation as I have made it abundantly clear that there will be no happy families and that I gratefully decline any events that include her in their home except for their birthdays or their kids birthday parties. Yesterday was one of those events, it was the first time I have seen her in over 5 years, almost 6. I was so surprised that I had no feelings for her and her kids elicited no emotion from me either. It surprised me. I had expected to feel anger or excitement or sadness or something. Anything. I felt nothing. I realized that I did not have to eliminate myself from those family events. She has no impact on me. I was shocked I have to say. My emotions usually run really deep, I can keep them in check from others but not from myself. Its amazing when you decide to move on from a place that is no good for you, its quite empowering to realize that someone you thought exerted some form of power over your life really has none. I guess its sad but it was a huge relief as I managed to enjoy my cousin's sons 1st birthday to the max. It was great, the kids had a blast and the funny part is they never realized that two of the girls they were playing with were as closely related to them as the birthday boy.

Words Only A South African Can Understand..........

My friend Barbara e-mailed me, thought is was perfectly in keeping with a post from my new online buddy the Nocturnal Wench (

This is one of the most useful South African words.
Pronounced like the "ach" in the German "achtung",
it can be used to start a reply when you are asked a
tricky question, as in "Ag, I don't know." Or a
sense of resignation "Ag, I'll have some more
mieliepap then." It can stand alone too as a signal
of irritation or of pleasure.

A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans "donder"
(thunder). Pronounced "donner", it means "beat up."
Your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your
boss can donner you if you do a lousy job.

Widely used by all language groups, this word,
derived from Afrikaans means "ouch.". Pronounced
"aynah", you can shout it out in sympathy when
someone burns his finger on a hot mealie at a braai.

Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the
importance of what has just been said, as in
"Jislaaik boet, you're only going to get a lekker
klap if you can't find your takkies now, hey ?" It
can also stand alone as a question. Instead of
saying, "excuse me?" Or "pardon?" when you have not
heard something directed at you, you can say "Hey?"

This is a great word in conversation. Derived from
the two words "is" and "it", it can be used when you
have nothing to contribute if someone tells you at
the braai "The Russians will succeed in their bid
forcapitalism once they adopt a work ethic and
respect for private ownership." It is quite
appropriate to respond by saying, "Isit?"

This is another conversation fallback word. Derived
from the four words "yes", "well", "no" and "fine",
it means roughly "how about that?" If your bank
manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can
say with confidence "Jawelnofine."

Pronounced "Yis-like", it is an expression of
astonishment. For instance, if someone tells you
there are a billion people in China, a suitable
comment is "Jislaaik, that's a hang of a lot of
people, hey?"

Pronounced "klup" - an Afrikaans word meaning smack,
whack or spank. If you spend too much time at the
bioscope at exam time, you could end up catching a
sharp klap from your pa. In America, that is called
child abuse, in South Africa, it is called promoting

An Afrikaans word meaning nice. This word is used by
all language groups to express approval. If you see
someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you
can exclaim "Lekkerrr!" while drawing out the last

These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is
also used to describe automobile or truck tyres.
"Fat tackies" are big tyres, as in "Where did you
get those lekke r fat tackies on your Volksie, hey?"

This word has two basic meanings; one good and one
bad. First, the good. A dop is a drink, a cocktail,
a sundowner, a noggin. If you are invited over for a
dop be careful. It could be one or two sedate drinks
or a blast, depending on the company you have fallen
in with. Now the bad. To dop is to fail. If you
dopped Standard Two (Grade 4) more than once, you
probably won't be reading this.


This is a sandwich. For generations, school children
have traded sarmies during lunch breaks. If you are
sending kids off to school in the morning, don't
give them liver-polony sarmies. They are the
toughest to trade.

This is a universal South African greeting and you
will hear this word throughout the land. It is often
used with the word "no" as in this exchange: "No,
howzit?". "No, fine." "No, isit?".

Local vernacular for " Whats happening " or " What's
up" . This term has no gardening connection

A local word now losing a little fashion. Meaning
movie theatre, cinema, flicks or pictures, depending
on which part of the world you come from.

Contrary to it's apparent meaning, ' just now ' can
mean anytime from now right through to the next
millennium. Asked to do a job you don't particularly
like, you would reply: "Ja, I'll do it just now"

In much of the outside world, this is a comforting
phrase: "Now, now, don't cry - I'll take you to the
bioscope tomorrow." But in South Africa, this phrase
means a little sooner than soon. "I'll clean my room
now now Ma." Knowing that you will receive a well
deserved ' klap ' if you don't do it at once. It is
a little more urgent than "just now".

This is an Afrikaans word meaning "brother" which is
shared by all language groups. Pronounced "boot" as
in "foot" , it can be applied to non-brother. For
instance a father can call his son" boet" and
friends can apply the term to each other too.
Sometimes the diminutive boetie" is used. Don't use
the term with someone you hardly know -- it would be
thought patronizing.

From the Afrikaans phrase meaning "Watch out!". This
warning is used and heeded by all language groups.
As in: "Your ma hasn't had her morning coffee yet
Boet so pasop and stay out of her way." Sometimes
just the word "pasop" is enough without further
explanation.Everyone knows it sets out a line in the
sand not to be crossed.


Pronounced "frot". A wonderful word which means
"rotten" or "putrid"in Afrikaans. It is used by all
language groups to describe anything they really
don't like. Most commonly it describes fruit and
vegetables whose shelf-lives have long expired, but
a pair of takkies(sneakers), worn a few times too
often, can be termed "vrot" b y unfortunate folk in
the same room as the wearer. Also, a rugby player
who misses important tackles, can be said to have
played a vrot game; but not to his face
because he won't appreciate it. We once saw a movie
review with this headline "Slick Flick, Vrot Plot."
Vrot can also mean drunk - or afterwards, suffering
from a hangover.

Afrikaans for "Yes/No". This expression's origin is
believed to have originated when a family member
starts talking politics (what else do we talk about
in South Africa?) and you don't want to cause a
political argument and get klapped or donnered. Then
every now and then you mutter, Ja-Nee." ( pronounced
yah -near )

In a country with a strong agricultural tradition,
it is not surprising that farming words crop up (pun
intended) in general conversation. Thus to graze
means to eat. If you are invited to the bioscope,
you may be asked: "Do you want to catch a graze

This is what you do when you lie on the beach
pretending to study for your matric exams. The
Brits, who have their own odd phrases, say they are
getting "bronzed". Nature has always been unkind to
South African school children, providing beach and
swimming pool weather just when they should be
swotting for the mid-summer finals. If you spend too
much time "catching a tan" at exam time, you could
end up catching a sharp "klap" from your pa.

To rock up at some place is to just sort of arrive.
You don't make an appointment or tell anyone you are
coming - you just rock up. Friends can do that, but
you have to be selective about it. You can't just
rock up for an interview or at a five star
restaurant. You give them a bell first, then you can
rock up.

South African vernacular for telephone call; as in
"Ja Boet, I'll give you a bell just now." Which
means phoning anytime from now to eternity.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Weighty decisions

I am tired of lugging my arse around, ok so maybe my butt has not grown but there are places that one can't see in clothes that are starting to have their own personalities. My sister was sweet enough to tell me that maybe its my metabolism, I had to reply that nope it was not my metabolism but rather the tons of Lindt Chocolate, Licorise and Jelly Belly's that I have been eating. I swear if I could inject sugar into my veins I would, I just so enjoy a sugar rush, and I have the fillings to prove it!

I have always said that there is no-one who loves me more then Nikki, she over heard me talking to a friend about getting healthier (we never use the "D" wrd around the kids), she snuggled up to and said mommy, you are the thinnest out of all of us, and I think you look just right. Here is this peanut barely 30 pounds telling me that I am the thinnest in the family, lol, I can hold her little tushie in one hand - she is so little. How wrapped does she have me??

Despite Nikki's declarations I swaggered down to Weight Watchers to join the Dutchess of Pork and other fine fat friends to leave a bit of myself behind (including a bit of my behind, behind :) There's nothing like having to get on a scale in front of a throng of woman, not like my bathroom scale where if I balance a certain way it registers 3 pounds thinner - no joke, guess I am into a bit of delusion. It was great because nothing bites like reality. I signed up for the new core program which one day later I am absolutely loving, so wish me thinner and I will hopefully be able to fit into my summer clothes by the time summer rolls around - hey spring is only two weeks away!!!!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Guys' Rules

My sister sent me this, thought I would pass it on ...........

The Guys' Rules

At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down Finally, the guys' side of the story.

We always hear "the rules"
From the female side.
Now here are the rules from the male side.
These are our rules!
Please note.. these are all numbered "1"

1. Men ARE not mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moonor the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport.
And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly Acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only If you want help solving it. That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't Expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not! A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will Be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear Is fine...Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation,
or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;

But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Parenting your parents.......

Watching our parents grow old is hard. Its not that it brings me face to face with the inevitable as I see my aging face in my moms or my dad's mother's face in his. No its coming to terms with the fact that I am no longer a little girl. I still want to be one, I still want the freedom that youth affords us but the mortgage payments, childbirth and marriage strip that away. Its not that I don't love my husband or kids, I do, more then I can believe possible, its that the sense of me, the very individuality I worked so hard to achieve is just a component of so many different aspects of the lives I juggle.

My folks have been away for 3 months, I hate not having them around the corner, there is a certain sense of order when they are here. With them here I have a backup plan, pick up a kid if I can't make it, make a meal if I am unable to, watch a sickly child so I can work. Grandma's (or Gugga as my kids call her) chicken soup cures eveything. My, that woman can cook. They go above and beyond. Watching my kids EVERY weekend so that my kids can experience camp Ruth (another of my mom's names, this one bestowed on her by her parents), she has endless energy and keeps the kids crafting or at the gym or cooking just being busy, trying to keep up with her. she takes them to the park and exhausts the kids. I wish I had a tenth of her energy. I don't, nowhere near.

Moving here has been so hard on them both financially and emotionally. They are enjoying the ready access to their kids and grandkids especially after many of their friends have joined the chicken run and headed off to live near their kids in Australia. My how history repeats itself, its so sad, a lost generation in South Africa, we have not had a full generation live their, my grandparents came from Europe, I left for America followed by my folks and then my older sister. My younger sister still remains there, maybe one member of our family will be in South Africa until her time comes to an end. One person left from so many, so many generations, so many cousins, her and one cousin. 11 first cousins, their growing families all spread around. My folks have found it harder then me, my kids have been the gateway to my social life, I have been less successful in meeting people my own age let alone my parents age. But they have carved out a great group, they are dynamic, magnetic people, but America is not home, its so very far from home in so many ways besides distance.

Everytime they leave, I am struck by how much older my dad looks on his return, it does not help that he has managed to break a rib, fracture his coccyx and to top it off he has an abcess on his gum. The poor man is in agony, his trip to Australia unbelievably trying topped only by his around the world trip to NY, my poor daddy has been througha war with his own body, I am stuck facing my loss of youth I can only imagine how hard it is for him to bear. Feel better dad. Real soon.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Surreal Appeal

I had posted earlier this week about Bob's mom passing away. Bob had an unfortunate incident in his 20's with a medical mishap that has left the former tennis pro/ pianist partially handicapped. Josh adn I went to take him out for his birthday on Wednesday, he asked me to look through his moms costume jewellery and see if there were any pieces I wanted to take with me. I did not feel comfortable pilfereing through all her things so I said I would take some for the kids for dress up. He just dropped them all in a bag for me and told me to take them. He wanted me to look through her bags and clothes and see if I wanted anything. Once again not feeling too comfortable I declined again. We started talking and he said how he had no idea how he was going to clean out her things, Thursday was a slow day at work (it turned out to be a snow day as well) so I said I would come help him. It was unbelievable looking through her things as I packed them away. Its funny but I used to see her at least twice a year on the Jewish Holidays she would always accompany Bob to my folks or our house wherever we were having it. She was always this soft spoken, grey haired lady in beige clothes. Its funny how ones clothes tell such a different story of a persons life, in her closets I discovered a bohemian woman, a sophisticated woman, a woman who loved to shop, who had a taste for whimsy and sweaters, so many sweaters and shoes. Oh my word she had so many of them it was truly unbelievable. Her handbag collection was huge and so neat and clean, oh my word, any person with OCD would have been proud to have a handbag collection so spotlease, eacg bag had one tissue or hanky in it and was spotless, I swear not even a piece of lint. Here was tons, and I swear tons of stuff impecably packed, she even lined her socks up. She had sexy side to her, lingerie that surprised me, I guess you don't have 57 years of marriage without a few surprises. Bob left me to do it, as he could just not cope, half way through I called him to ask if he minds if I throw out some hangers, I had three full trashbags full of them by that stage, he said no, he said he could not come back up, he could not deal, it finally hit him, I had been surprsied how detached he had been, not surprised becasue his mom drove him nuts which she did, in fact his dad's dying words were an apology for leaving Bob to have to deal with his mom by himself. No I was surprised that no matter how we feel about them they are still our mommy's they still the only person in the world who can make it feel better or who can put us in a bad mood with hello. Who can illicit so many emotions from us and then she was gone and he did not seem to feel it. But the reality hit, and it hit hard. He booked himself a trip to Florida to try and escape from the pain, he is going to have to carry it with him for the rest of his life because a mom's love is forvere no matter how it is conveyed.

Its funny as I was packing away her wordly goods I could not stop thinking about how precise her life was lived and how at the end it is just reduced to stuff. Stuff to cherish, stuff to hand down to the next generations and stuff to discard. I had to smile when I though with horror how the poor person who cleared out my stuff would feel and what they would say how they would wonder how I even functioned at all. How I could be so organized in the outside world and so scrambled at home, I sure hope for my kids sake that at some stage in my old age I get possessed by some minimilist cult.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The sounds of happiness

There is no better sound then my kids playing nicely together. I love hearing the giggles, the elaborate stories and the wonderful paths their imagination takes them on. At the moment they have built a house made out of pillows and parts of tupperware, I have to say, it looks like a really cool house, Nikki is the big sister and Ryan as always is the doggy. It makes me smile and I could literally devour them they are so cute. Unfortunately on the flipside when I have those blood curdling screams resonating through the house when they are attempting to kill each other I want to be transported to Siberia or any place warmer then the temperature in this house. Luckily they have tons of little spats throughout the day but none that linger, we do not allow anyone to hold grudges, life is too short for that.

One of the decisions we made when we moved into this house in 1999 was to not have cable, more for me then the kids, I am a complete TV addict and can watch it 24 hours a day. We get about 11 free channels so its not like I don't know what is happening in the world. I have to say except for Grey's Anatomy and Medium I really don't watch anything else except for the morning news. I am not around to watch Oprah or the View and the re-runs are just too late at night for me. Don't feel too bad for the kids, they have a huge video collection and the libraries in America are unbelievable, you can check out DVD's or videos for FREE - the latest stuff too.

I did not want to have kids who spent their days glued to the TV so we don't allow them to watch any during the week or play on the computer on school days. Instead we created an unbelievable basement for the kids, they have a clubhouse under the stairs, complete with doorbell and door (of course) and Josh built them a HUGE stage that we covered in blue carpet that has big white stars on it. We put Wallies (wall paper cutouts) on the walls and have bought more dress up clothes then any two kids should possibly own. It is such a great place for them to stretch their imaginations to the limit. Unlike South Africa when we were growing up when we could spend most of the days outdoors, New York has more then its share of grotty days. Most houses in the area have basements so that kids toys don't overun the entire household.

I have to say one of the things I really find hard living here is that America is a disposable soceity. Its cheaper to buy new then to have something fixed. Our microwave went on the fritz, they wanted $40 to look at it and then the repairs went up from there, a brand new microwave (the same as the one that died) was $100. People throw tons of things away, couches, and tv's and computers. There are people who make their living combing Sunday Night Trash and recycling it. I have to say I have trash picked myself, Josh is disgusted when I do, but let me tell you - they throw out Little Tyke toys in excellent shape, I could not resist when the kids were little and still into all those toys. I have to say Josh has banned me from picking anything up and it just slays me to drive past really awesome stuff.

I feel sorry for the average American in our neighbourhood, people here have been sold a bill of goods, people lease cars so they get a new one every few years. Not that I have anything against leasing but its just part of what I think is a broader problem of instant gratification, instant cures and fixes. Peoples lives are transitionary, they think nothing about moving away from family, many of the people I know (not my friends per se) rarely see their families and have no desire to, an annual pilgrimage whether to Florida or down the block will suffice. I can't imagine life without the daily interaction with my family and those that feel like family. People and things are disposable for my liking. Its a strange place but hey its home.

Tag you are it!!!

I have never been tagged before but am being today so here goes.............

4 Things I need every morning

My dose of Synthroid
My first 24oz cup of decaf coffee
Brushing my teeth

4 Things that turn me off

Men who keep their socks on during sex
Name dropping
Hair plugs
Bratty kids and the parents who raise them

4 Things that turn me on

Quick wit
soft hands
Great kisses

4 things I believe in

I can do anything I want to if I want to badly enough
Sometimes you just can't fix it
Do the right thing for people who know what the right thing is and stop trying for those who don't

4 things I am afraid of

Dying young
Predators who prey on kids
Global warming

4 things I do every day

Snuggle Josh and Nikki
Drink lots of coffee
Laugh (or at least try to)
Juggle a million things

4 things I want to do before I die

See my kids married
Know my grandchildren
Find a way to make ends meet without the ends moving further apart
Go on a cruise

4 people I want to meet

Dawn one day on I-80
My Standard 8 English teacher who used to ridicule my writing in front of the class and made me put away my poems for years
New like minded friends
Jennifer Aniston is the only fanmous person I think I could actually chat to so she'll have to be number 4.

4 numbers that rule my life

2 kids
The days until my parents come here and then until they leave
My weight
The number of closings I do a week to cover my expenses

4 favorite colors

Emerald Green
Royal Blue
Baby blue

3 names you won't answer to

Hey you!

3 parts of your heritage

The beat of South Africa in my soul
The Holocaust and all the members of my extended family that were exterminated

3 things you are wearing right now

My favourite black Calvin Klein undies
Black Victoria Secret Bra
Black T-shirt and sweat pants - like I have any other color, lol

3 favorite songs today

20 years to live - Matchbox 20
Temptation - Crowded House
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrisson

3 of your hobbies

Mah Jongg

3 places you want to visit


3 ways you are unstereotypically male/female

I am usually looking at the relationship from the typical man's perspective because I often have that view (poor Josh)
Josh tells me everyday that he loves me, I am not that great with telling him
I don't like to shop for clothes or shoes

3 People to tag


Blockbuster DVD Rentals
Blockbuster DVD Rentals