Honey vs. Vinegar – Kindness

There’s a saying in Portuguese that says you won’t catch flies with vinegar. Flies are caught with honey. In my book at least. In my husband’s book they’re caught (and killed) with a fly-swatter.

The same applies to people. Kindness catches. Fly-swatting harms.

Some months ago I wrote about the kindness I received from the most unlikely source – a car guard. Such random acts of kindness still take my breath away because they are so unexpected. These are the best – the unexpected ones.

It doesn’t cost anything and comes in many forms: a smile, letting a car in who’s desperately trying to change lanes, buying coffee for a visitor who doesn’t have cash in a cashless office.

It doesn’t have to be grand or reported in the press for all to know. Don’t you think that it’s the smallest acts that are the most amazing?

I love it when my niece reads to me when I wake up,. She also shares her swim suits with her friends at her birthday party and writes me thank you notes for spending the weekend with her.

Recently, my 5 year old nephew and I were chasing each other to see who’d make it to the door first. I always let him get in front. He’s 5 years old after all. On one of those runs he stopped at the door and let me run into the house first. Surprised I turned to him and said: “My angel, I wanted you to go in first.” He says: “No, Tia Zizi, I wanted YOU to go in first.”

Kindness is free, kindness is simple, kindness is forever young.

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Currently I am…

Today I’m inspired by this meme I found on The Real Jenty ‘s blog and thought I’d try it out.

Reading: Too many books at once, started many, finishing few. My Goodreads target is to read 24 books this year. I have managed about 4 with just under 6 months to go until the end of the year.

Listening to: The sound of the Hadeda Ibis atop the pine tree. Do you know that they can starve during winter because of the scarcity of food and water for them?

Laughing at: A Spike Milligan short video Irish Astronauts, which Che showed me last night. Very stereotypical and that’s why it works.

Swooning over: The Sony QX100 Smartlens, perfect for travelling or just keeping in my bag for when my phone camera is not enough.

Planning: My overseas trip with my Mom. We leave on the 9th August, back on the 26th of August. Going to the warmth of a European summer.

Eating lots of: Fruit, especially strawberries, yum…

Feeling: Horrified at the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over the Ukraine. In this day and age this is simply shocking! My mood is down at the moment.

Discovering: Photography with a real camera.

Looking at: Photos I’ve taken recently and thought “Gee, that wasn’t too bad!”

Wearing: Fleece-lined leggings, old red fluffy polo neck, Kilimanjaro socks. I feel the cold so I make sure to be well insulated.

Cooking: I didn’t cook today. I did make Spanish Omelette last night though. Tonight all I had was vegetable soup.

Wondering: Why is it that health and beauty spas only want to sell you their products? I’m tired of being told what’s good for my skin and body. The prices are exhorbitant. All I want is a facial and a massage.

Trying out: Seed water during the day (cumin, coriander and fennel seeds steeped in boiled water), I’m rather enjoying the taste.

If you’re reading this why don’t you try out this meme and leave me the link in the comments below.

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10 point day

Writing prompt - describe your day with 10 bullet points
  • Traffic was light this morning
  • Had back-to-back meetings for most of the day
  • Re-connected with an ex-team member
  • Browsed Kelly Moore camera bags
  • Lunch at my desk
  • Home at 8pm
  • Did a post on my photo blog
  • Made frittata for dinner
  • Watched 2 episodes of Bones season 9
  • It is now 11h47pm and I’m trying to get this post in before midnight!

Like riding a bicycle

My first bicycle was red.

As a five year old I rode up and down the driveway of our house in Mozambique until one day, my Dad decided to take the training wheels off.

I remember being nervous about falling and even more nervous about disappointing my Dad. He grabbed the back of the seat and started pushing me as I peddalled. All of a sudden he let go. I wasn’t aware of this until I looked over my shoulder and saw my Dad at the bottom of the driveway.

Incredulity took over, I couldn’t believe that I’d actually done it so quickly – ride a bicycle all on my own without the training wheels.

That’s been how I’ve experienced new things. Initially afraid and reluctant. Given a little push and I’m on my way, surprised that it was so easy.

Have you ever experienced something like that?

A time where you were afraid of trying something new or different or that you thought of as difficult?

And that after trying it out you surprised yourself?

And you wondered why you hadn’t tried it already?

And the next time you try it the fear is gone. It comes easily.

Like riding a bicycle.

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How do you spot a tourist anyway?

Yes, how do you?

Let me share what I’ve observed, both as a tourist and as a tourist observer.

Clothes:

Most of us have been tourists at some time or another haven’t we? Some of us are oblivious to how we look. But if you come from Africa you will do all in your power to blend in to the populace so as not to stand out as a target for pick-pocketing or a con.

Tourists to Africa tend to dress in the same way – khaki coloured baggy pants – those with 2 sets of zips. One at the knee and another half-way up the thigh. 3 outfits in 1 – pants, long shorts and short shorts.

That’s quite clever actually as you’ll want to travel as lightly as possible, especially on safari.

Demeanour:

Most alarmingly many tourists I see walk around oblivious to their surroundings. In Africa I recommend a tour group or a guide. African cities have too many places to get into trouble if you don’t know the area. Walking around with said khaki pants, camera slung over the neck and smart-phone GPS (the modern replacement to paper maps, remember those?) they are easy targets for those less well-intentioned citizens.

How not to be seen

Remember Monty Python’s skit “How Not To Be Seen?” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must, check on YouTube – WARNING: ABSTRACT HUMOUR!

In any event – the plot goes something like this (get the full plot line here from Wikipedia):

The film starts with a serene wide shot of a landscape in which there are supposedly forty people, none of whom can be seen. The picture then changes to another serene wide shot of a different landscape. In it is Mr E. R. Bradshaw of Napier Court, Black Lion Road, London, who cannot be seen. The narrator asks him to stand up. He complies and is immediately shot. According to the narrator, “This demonstrates the value of not being seen.”

There is a cut to another landscape wide shot. In it is Mrs B.J. Smegma of 13, The Crescent, Belmont. The narrator asks her to stand up. She also complies and is immediately shot.

Next is a shot of a clearing near a wood with only one bush in the middle of the frame. Somewhere in the vicinity is Mr Nesbitt of Harlow New Town. He is asked to stand up, but contrary to the previous people, does not comply. The narrator explains that “Mr Nesbitt has learned the first lesson of not being seen: not to stand up. However, he has chosen a very obvious piece of cover.” The bush then explodes and a scream is heard.

…you get the idea…

Next month my I’m looking forward to traveling with Mom to Portugal. Here’s the funny thing. We are both Africa-born and have lived in  Africa all our lives – and have ties to Portugal.

From a culture perspective, personally I fit in. From a values perspective I don’t. I often feel like a tourist that can speak the language. It’s a distinct advantage to speak different languages: Portuguese to blend in; English when asking for directions and Afrikaans when Che and I don’t want our conversation to be overheard in public.

I know that people will be confused when they see me - my clothes and demeanour will shout “tourist” – but I speak the language and know my way around (mostly).

I hide my camera well and take it out only when I want to take a photo.

I know that taxi drivers will try and extract a higher fare from me.

Family will tease me about my accent.

And that said I’m looking forward to going there.

And I’m aiming not to be seen!

What are your tourist or tourism experiences?

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The road to hell is paved with adverbs

Stephen King said that the sin of telling often begins with adverbs, and that for writers, the road to hell is paved with adverbs.

I’m experimenting with adverb free writing. Apparently adverbs are not my friends.

The purpose of adverb-free writing is to create vivid pictures and meaning with strong precise verbs rather than using adverbs as a crutch.

The use of adverbs is commonplace. Our conversations are peppered with adverbs qualifying our verbs. Krista from WordPress wrote:

Adverbs…are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They’re the ones that usually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind….With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

Instead of using adverbs as a crutch, rely on strong verbs to convey emotional qualities that imbue your writing with nuance, allowing the reader to fire up their imagination. Consider, for example:

“She walked proudly out the door.”

Remove the adverb “proudly” and replace it with a strong verb to denote how she walked:

She strutted out the door.

She sashayed out the door.

She flounced out the door.

Each example connotes the emotion with which “she” moved, creating a more vivid picture than “proudly” ever could.

Read on…adverb free writing…the story is true.

I turned the key, the engine sputtered to life, and died. I waited 10 seconds and turned the key once more. This time the engine did not even turn, the click click click of the ignition confirming my worst suspicions.

Through a process of elimination Che concluded that the battery was fine. The problem was much more serious – electrical fault!

A call to the Hyundai service centre yielded an unhelpful “sorry we can’t fetch your car” response to my plea for help. Needless to say I was not charmed. I made a promise that I would find any service centre to fix my car as long as it was not a Hyundai one. 

Che then offered to fix my car. He works from home and had some spare time this week. So that is how, for 3 days this week, he chauffeured me to work and back. 

This commute was characterised by debate, storytelling and laughter. We made an event out of this break from normality – each evening, on our way home we enjoyed dinner at a different restaurant.  

The alternator turned out to be fine. The malfunction was caused by one of the 120 amp fuses blowing when Che connected the battery to the charger. Lesson learnt.

A wonderful Che washed and valet my car too. Shame, I don’t often get it washed. And it smells nice inside courtesy of lavender scented dash polish. So my car is happy.  And I am happy that I did not have to lash out much cash to resolve the issue.

In order to write the above without adverbs I wrote the piece as I would blog it, then proceeded to identify and replace adverbs with strong verbs.

A respectable effort, don’t you think?

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Writing 101 Day 5: Someone’s Lost Their Ride – 100 Word Story

Writing 101, Day 5 assignment - Be Brief 
You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

“I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I lost it…” I distractedly sing the children’s rhyme, my eyes on the treacherous path. I see something…

White paper napkin, black scrawling writing, red lipstick smudges. Crumpled up. Carelessly lost. Or deliberately thrown? Placed in my path by pesky wind.

Picking it up, I read:

“8 o’clock. Be there. The ship sails. Never to return.”

Well someone’s lost their ride. I sigh, smell the rich perfume still on the paper. My fingers feel dampness. Of tears?

The church bell tolls nine times.

Tears come unbidden to my eyes.

WIldflower of the Magaliesberg - succulent from the Aloe family I think...

Breaking the drought

It’s been a while since my last post – Tuesday June 10th in fact! Lots has happened and I have not had the energy to blog, sadly.

Last week…

…I had a work dinner on Wednesday and had half-a-glass of red wine with my delicious ravioli. It was a good wine, a Rupert and Rothschild. Note to self: NEVER, but NEVER EVER drink red wine again, even if it’s expensive! It’s simply poison for my system. The next morning my sinuses had swollen up, my face was puffy and I had nausea, sinus, neck and shoulder pain. Almost like I had a hangover but with half-a-glass of wine! Have you ever…!!??

Last weekend…

… was a long one in South Africa and we went away to Mount Grace in the Magaliesberg. It was wonderful, just being pampered and doing nothing all day but lie in the sun topping up on Vitamin D reserves. Che and I had a pamper session at the spa on Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the time catching up on items on my WordPress Reader – so I know what’s been happening with everyone else. I can recommend the a la carte restaurant Rambling Vine where we enjoyed 2 excellent 3-course dinners – without wine for me!

A new lens…

Prior to the weekend I bought a new lens for my camera  – I’ve always wanted a 50mm-300mm lens so on Friday morning before we left I snuck out to the electronics shop and bought a Sigma lens.

I’m really still learning about photography. For years I was a point and click photographer – too intimidated by the complicated features of an SLR camera. Eventually even I got frustrated with the slow response of the point and clicks. The picture I saw and wanted I simply wasn’t getting. So I bit the bullet and got a DSLR.

I’m not much of a manual reader and definitely don’t have the patience for photographic courses so I’m going it alone. Che is a very proficient photographer (he did photography in school and even developed his own pics back in the day) so I have a source of ready info at my finger tips.

So the weekend at Mount Grace also turned out to be a photographic lesson from Che Hubby. I enjoyed it and I’m sure that I got a whole lot better. I played around with Bokeh after reading a post on Cee Neuner’s site. I had loads of fun on macro setting. Here is a pic I experimented with.

WIldflower of the Magaliesberg - succulent from the Aloe family I think...
WIldflower of the Magaliesberg – succulent from the Aloe family I think…

Hunting for heat…

We travelled back to Jhb on Monday afternoon. It was cold and we hadn’t yet replenished the gas bottle for the heater. At 8pm when normal people were having dinner and watching TV I was driving like a lunatic around the neighbourhood looking for gas. I went to 4 service stations before I found one which still had stocks.

Sinuses again…

Well, the sinuses never really cleared up. They were really bothering me, I had symptoms of fever, hot and cold all the time, it was so bothersome. On Thursday morning I woke up feeling nauseous and sweating like mad – I actually woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and had to peel off the soaking PJs to put dry ones on. In the morning I had pain in the head neck and shoulders as well. I know when left untreated sinus problems can become secondary infections, so I decided to stay home and go to the doctor. I don’t like antibiotics, I much prefer the natural way of treating things, but sometimes I know it is necessary and this was one of those times.

Today I am still off, panicking because of unfinished work at work. And tomorrow I’m not going to Wintercon, Toastmasters club officer training. Last week I was elected President of Talk with Purpose toastmasters club but I’ve been President of 2 other clubs before so I should be ok.

Cheerio for now friends!

 

Welcome to my personal blog. I write about a lot of different things so if you like eclectic then you'll like being here. Sometimes I'm #justsaying.

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