Deal Breaker!

Annoyingly the power went off at about 4pm yesterday and came back on this afternoon. Almost 24 hours out.

The call centre said that they were doing maintenance. I didn’t believe  them, because not even in South Africa do the municipalities effect maintenence during the week at the time when everyone is trying to get kids bathed and dinner on the go.

I phoned my neighbour who works for the municipality. That’s when I discovered that the  substation serving our block suffered a malfunction. Strangely, the street lights weren’t affected. We went to bed last night hoping that this morning the power would be on…alas, coffee was made on the little hiking gas stove. Despite that it turned out yummy.

I don’t mind the candle light or cooking like I’m on a camping trip. That’s rather fun. The lack of hot water for bathing however is a deal breaker for me. This alone can make me very grumpy as Che can attest to. I packed this morning in preparation to shower at the gym on my way home.

Thank you Ekurhuleni Municipality, for giving me something to write about tonight. And thank you for fixing things so speedily. I am not grumpy tonight.

Music Monday: Ticket to the Moon

Do you have too much music on your iPod folks? I’m assuming you have an iPod. It’s like the generic name for portable music player. You know, like Kleenex is the generic for paper tissue? But I digress.

I know I have too much music on my iPod when I hear a song for the first time. We’re taking about ELO here so I’ve had it for a while.

So maybe I did hear the song for the first time or I maybe just heard it with new ears. The physical hearing apparatus have always been attached to me. So it’s got to be that I heard it with new ears, know what I mean? Let me explain.

I took in the same words and the same melody with the same senses as before but I experienced them differently because the filters through which I made sense of the song were different. Filters help us make sense of how we experience the world. When one’s filters are limited our experiences of the world are also limited. The opposite also applies.

It’s useful to remember that filters are also culture-specific. In interviews conducted with people from China and India asking if they were “happy” the response was that they hadn’t thought about it. In Western societies where the pursuit of happiness is seen as a right, the filter of happiness is widespread (NLPU Encyclopedia).

So what song led to this whole analysis of perception and filters. It’s ELO’s Ticket to the Moon. Here it is. Enjoy!

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A warm spot to curl up in

I’m back home in SA after a wonderful 2 and a half weeks in hot Portugal. I was kinda hoping that I’d missed the last of the winter but unfortunately came back to a freezing cold front. It’s snowing in the mountains. The wind is biting. It’s back to frozen tips of noses and frozen hands. There are gloves for hands but there’s nothing to warm the tip of your nose. I know I’m going to spend the weekend searching for heat, and like a cat find a warm sunny spot to curl up in.

You, Robot – Taxi Driver

WordPress daily writing prompt: You, Robot. Congrats — you’ve been handed a robot whose sole job is to relieve you of one chore, job, or responsibility you particularly hate. What is it?

There are those people who like to talk with taxi drivers and those who don’t. I’m the latter.

Then there are those taxi drivers who like to talk and others who don’t. I prefer the latter.

It’s not that I don’t like taxi drivers – I do – I just want to ride in silence, because I like being in silence.

This morning’s taxi driver was both disturbing and hilarious without uttering many words. My Mom wasn’t able to contain herself and starting giggling while still in the car. After he dropped us off at home we couldn’t contain ourselves any longer and burst into laughter.

This guy was strange. First of all his car was the first in the rank but he was nowhere to be seen. We found him smoking on the pavement – it was obviously a slow morning.

We got in the car and upon giving him the address and he asked such an arb question neither my Mom or I understood. When we asked him to repeat it all he said was “Thanks very much.”

He stopped for every pedestrian wanting to cross the road, and in that area there are many. I guess he was trying to raise his fare by taking long to get to our destination. Occasionally he made sounds like Donald Duck and kept looking at his watch – although he had no watch on his wrist!

We’ve had the armchair politician, the soccer fanatic, the one who takes holidays in Spain because it’s EUR500 cheaper than in Portugal and the one whose neighbour is an ex-President of the country. But this one was the strangest by far.

As mentioned, I prefer the drivers who say nothing. Just like I am with hairdressers, I don’t want to talk. I prefer to ponder on my surroundings, think and use the silence for my relaxation.

You, robot, Mr. Taxi Driver, don’t take it personally but just take me home and… ssshhhhhh…..!

Click here to see more bloggers’ interpretations of today’s writing prompt.


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Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

Not the opening line of One Republic’s Counting Stars but my favourite.

The longer I walk this earth the more daring I become, the more risks I take the more dangerous things I do.

In fifty years’ time I will do something really dangerous like climb Mount Everest – if I don’t come back then it’s ok.

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

Know what I mean?


My feelings for coffee expressed with other people’s quotes

WordPress daily writing prompt: Captain Picard was into Earl Grey tea; mention the Dude and we think: White Russians. What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?

Coffee! What else is there? I travel with my little expresso machine, you know, the kind that goes on top of the stove. The water goes at the bottom and the coffee in the middle, which then bubbles up through a spout to the top. I take my own ground coffee blend and the right size of spoon to measure the right amount of grounds.

Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with. (Drew Sirtors)

When I stay in hotels they’d better have good coffee, or at the very least a Starbucks or coffee shop in close proximity to where I’m staying.

We would take something old and tired and common — coffee — and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We would rediscover the mystique and charm that had swirled around coffee throughout the centuries. (Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, 1997)

King Charles II closed coffee houses down, but not for long. Rather surprising for he was known as the Merry Monarch, had many mistresses, and fathered at least 12 illegitimate children. Don’t tell me that he didn’t indulge in a bit of coffee himself…

A PROCLAMATION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF COFFEE HOUSES: Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of Coffee Houses of late years set up and kept within this Kingdom…and the great resort of idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects; as well for that many tradesmen and others, do herein misspend much of their time, which might and probably would be employed in and about their Lawful Calling and Affairs; but also for that in such houses…divers, false, malitious, and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of His Majesty’s Government, and to the disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm; his Majesty hath though it fit and necessary, that the said Coffee Houses be (for the Future) put down and suppressed… (King Charles II of England, December 23, 1675 (This rule was revoked on January 8, due to widespread citizen protest.)

Power to the people I say!

Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another coffee. (Author Unknown)

I believe that this is not coffee:

Nescafe no es cafe. (Instant coffee is not coffee.) (Mexican saying)

And nor this:

Decaf? No, it’s dangerous to dilute my caffeine stream. (Author Unknown)

Until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee, tread at your own risk. I cannot not be held responsible for what I say invariably because I won’t remember it after I’ve had the first cup of coffee for the day.

As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle. (Honore de Balzac (1799-1859))

Excuse me while I grab another coffee now. But before that here is my all time favorite coffee quote:

“Doing business without coffee is like driving a F1 car on diesel,you never get up to top speed. (Robert James)

Yeah, I cheated with this writing prompt. But at least I brought you some quotes you didn’t know before. Now you can enlighten your friends over a cup of coffee or just share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Leave me some of your coffee quotes in the comments. I may do another post.

Internet’s research and reference library, Google, helped me find this site – just search for “coffee quotes by famous people” because who wants to read quotes by un-famous people (not infamous people because those you really do want to read) and you will come across this site Coffee With James.

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Work? Optional! What gets me up in the morning

WordPress's Daily Prompt: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

The quick and short answer is…
I would still work.

I’ve heard stories of people who’ve come into buckets of money who end up losing it all and being worse off than they were before winning the loot.

They give it away, gamble it away, or buy expensive things.

There’s the story of the guy who won the lotto, bought himself a Porsche and ended up crashing and killing himself in the process.

I’ve also heard about the woman who also won the lotto, told everyone and ended being killed by a jealous relative.

Money does strange things to people.

Hence the counseling that the lotto people give to the winners because it’s not easy going from zero to hero overnight.

When I was growing up money was scarce. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do because my folks didn’t have money to spare. When I went to high school my uniform was a hand-me-down from my older cousins.

From an early age my Mom inculcated in me the mantra of never being financially dependent on anyone. So I studied and worked hard to achieve this. And on that journey I discovered my purpose. So the money is no longer the reason I work.

What gets me up in the morning is something more intrinsic, a desire to become a better version of myself every day.

So it’s about the purpose of my life. Having money out of the equation isn’t going to change it. Going to work doesn’t have anything to do with money and I am blessed to work at something I enjoy because it allows me to be me.

So if money were optional I would see no reason to stop working. I’d still have fun. And my purpose would remain the same – to be a better version of myself every day.

What gets you up in the morning every day? Tell me in the comments.

Home away from home in Lisbon, Portugal - the street where the flat is.

Lives Unravelled, Some Secrets Revealed

Those of you who know me might remember the story of how my family came to be split between two continents. Reading “The Day I Left” will help contextualise this post.

Clothes, shoes, books, papers,

Poems, stories, novels, articles. 
Photos, family, memories, soul,


Tangible and un-lasting. 
Intangible and lasting. 
Beyond the present.
Lives well lived, well loved.
Lives handed back,
Ashes to ashes dust to dust.
Lives unravelled.
Secrets revealed…
(At least those that were discovered)…

With the passing of my Gran a few years ago and my Uncle last year the task of clearing the apartment in Lisbon is in my Mom’s hands. I don’t have the words to express what it feels like  to go through the lives of special family you love.

Fragmented thoughts flit through my mind during the day.

Giving away their clothes to the local parish – how mundane. Yet poor people are going to have clean dry clothes to wear and warm coats to keep the winter chill away.

Finding unexpected treasurers like a leather box filled with love letters, the paper yellowing and fragile…finding remnants of tragic love, lost love, unrequited love…and looking at someone you knew so well with different, wondering eyes.

The questions that go thru my mind – why did they keep this trinket? What did this picture mean to them? Who is this person in this photo?

Faded memories are brought back to life in full colour and sound.

Black and white family photos – old-fashioned poses with the matriarch and patriarch (my Great-Grandparents) in front surrounded by the children and grandchildren at the back.

School photos of me, my sister and my brother on the walls.

Photos of my wedding sent from another country so they would have a memory of the day.

Everything in this flat still reminds me of them. Smells, textures, the feel of the place. My Mom and I refer to the things as belonging to them…”Didn’t Avo have a toaster?”, “Where did Tio keep the teapot?”

This space will always remind me of them. When the walls are painted, the floors redone and new furniture occupying new spots this space will always remind me of them.

It feels like lives have been unravelled and me and my Mom are helping by giving away some of their belongings. But by keeping this space enlivened with new energy, we are in actual fact keeping their memory alive.

That thought is what keeps my Mom and I coming to this country half-way across the world every year.

Tangible and un-lasting. 
Intangible and lasting. 
Beyond the present.
In memory of Maria Luisa Cunha and Guilherme de Mello.

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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