Fun with falsies

It’s 21st season, and it was Rosie’s turn this weekend. Her theme was ‘MadMen’ (as in the TV show), which gave the girls plenty of scope for guyssying up in pretty dresses, pointy heels and cleavage-enhancing underwear. And, of course, high hair and optimum eyes.

Bella’s 21st present from Jane-Anne, which included these astonishing foot-long false eyelashes, came in very handy. During the fiddly +-20 minutes it took me to glue them into place, we commented several times on the dexterity of cross-dressers, who regularly apply their own falsies, and we concluded that it must take hours of practice to be able to do it cleanly the first time.














My false eyelashes were shorter but made up in the colour purple for what they lacked in length. Bella finally got them in place, but a subsequent laughing fit made my eyes water, and that was the end of that.

Left: Bella and birthday-girl Rosie, rocking the MadMen look.


Toyota lent me a car

Further to my giant whinge about Toyota’s after-sales service, I’m happy to report that they agreed to lend me a car, while a part for my damaged Etios that’s actually big enough to be put in a box and airfreighted within a week or so, finds its way to our shores from India at the end of October. I said that would be wonderful, but that I’d want a car like the one I’d been driving – no tacky old done-the-rounds-of-the-car-hire-companies jalopy for me, if you please.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so prescriptive, because what I’ve got is a giant white tank of a 1.6 litre 6-gear Toyota Corolla, which is so bedecked with security features that (a) I couldn’t start it (you have to depress the clutch to deactivate the immobiliser) and (b) once I’d got into it, I couldn’t get out (it has a double-lock feature that requires serious mental and physical dexterity to overcome). I loathe it with every fibre of my being – for me, it’s a fat Bellville businessman’s vehicle – but my daughter and Johann love it. And so do my dogs, who find being ferried up the mountain for their daily walk in a tank a rather exciting business, if you don’t count the fact that they’re so keen to get out when we get there that they push enthusiastically up against the door while I fiddle with the double-lock device, and then tumble out like two huge bags of wet laundry when I finally push the right button combination.

And one more whinge about the bloody Etios – I realised, when I parked it at the Malmesbury dealership where it’s going to live until the parts arrive, that one of its back lights was no longer working. Like the leaking door seals, this is absolutely not what I expect from a brand-new car.


The world is divided into…

… the people who love me and all the other douchebags. Not really. For this sake of this post, it’s pet people and non-pet people, and this was fabulously illustrated this past weekend when an old friend, Clyde, came to Riebeek Kasteel for a(nother!) little reunion, along with his new wife, Helen. Both have interesting past professional histories, but now Clyde is a fulltime student and Helen a fulltime ballet teacher. They’ve decided not to have kids, although are quite keen on the idea of a pet some time in the future. Which, considering Johann and I both have small zoos (dogs, cats and chickens; and Johann occasionally has cows and sheep), gave rise to an energetic conversation about what owning a pet actually entails. Specifically, a lot of expense.

Left: Johann gets his lawn mowed.

We regaled Clyde and Helen with a few of our ka-ching*ka-ching pet-at-the-vet horror stories, including Evan’s teeth, Missy’s bipolar disorder, Sara’s epilepsy and other travails, and the fact that Johann is still paying off the bill from when his dog Rocha (a large ridgeback) had to be put down.

Left: Some of the loves of my life: Flossy, Maui and Evan.

Clyde was absolutely dumbfounded, and when I told him I’d recently paid R1 700 to have Sara X-rayed and medicated, he blurted out, ‘But you could buy two dogs with what it costs to have one sick one fixed!’

Obviously, Johann and I almost fell off our chairs at this, but it does say something about how incredibly bonded we become with our animals. It’s hard for someone who hasn’t fallen completely in love with their pet to understand that other bills may go unpaid, and belts significantly tightened, to ensure our animals are in good physical health, pain free and generally happy.

And then the conversation swung naturally to the eye-popping cost of private medical care* for humans these days, and Helen mentioned that she may have to have hip surgery at some stage, and, without medical insurance, we all know what kind of expense that’s going to entail. ‘But you could buy two new women with what it’s going to cost to have this one fixed!’ Johann said.

* On the subject of private medical care, I have a hospital plan that costs me a small fortune each month. Ironically, I opted for it (it’s FedHealth) because it offered free pet medical insurance as an incentive, but the first time I submitted a claim from my vet I was told that the pet medical insurance had been stopped. (I hate it when insurance companies do that, don’t you? The same thing happened when I submitted a claim to my home insurance – Nedbank’s – for subsidence in my last house; it had been covered when I took out the policy, but when I submitted my claim, they told me they no longer offered subsidence insurance. Grrr.) The hospital plan itself is also fraught with all sorts of conditions and exclusions, and I’m really wondering if I’m just wasting my money, and if I shouldn’t simply be putting the equivalent amount in a high-interest-bearing savings account each month. At least, that way, if fortune smiles on me and I don’t have to go to hospital for the next five years, I’ll have a nice little nest-egg at the end of it.

Having fun at the Voorkamerfest

I went to the Darling Voorkamerfest at the beginning of September. After the shows, while I was queuing at Evita se Perron to use the loo, I got into conversation with a woman in the line. ‘Did you enjoy your route?’ I asked. ‘God, no,’ she said. ‘I’ve never been so depressed in my life. Each one was more dismal than the last.’

Which, I suppose, just goes to show that it’s the luck of the draw – the route we were on was vibey, lighthearted fun from first stop to last. We danced to the sounds of Bliksemstraal, were massively entertained by the magic tricks of The Incredible Wonga! and his juggler sidekick, and got completely entranced by the ‘The Magic Water’, a fable fabulously realised by Heather Mac (whose chameleon talents are incredible) and Bridget McCarthy.

Bliksemstraal. Their mellow Bob Marley outfits belie their music, which they define as ‘hiphopera’ – very in-your-face and energetic. (From left: the dude who spun the discs, the dancer, a member of our party, and the rapper.)







The guys from the College of Magic. (From left: The Incredible Wonga!, the little girl whose voorkamer this act took place in, and who masterminded the music for various entrances and exits, and the juggler.)







‘The Magic Water’, performed in a former church that is now a private home. (From left: Bridget McCarthy and Heather Mac.)







One of the wonderful things about the Darling Voorkamerfest is how the entire community gets involved – I loved how the entire town fleet of taxis was called into service to ferry people from voorkamer to voorkamer. It was amazingly well organised, with transfers happening swiftly and without fuss.

At Evita se Perron, a friendly and festive fairground atmosphere prevails, with stalls offering local foods and wine, and some clothing and handicrafts.

I’m definitely going to go again next year, and hold thumbs that I get a route as entertaining as this year’s. (Thanks, Cally, for inviting me to this year’s Voorkamerfest.)



Seeing dead people

I visited a psychic today. I don’t do this often because I have enough trouble with the things live people tell me, without worrying about what the dead have to say. But what the hell – R350 for a half-hour with someone who’s channelling spirits sure beats R1 700 to have my dog X-rayed and medicated, which was my Outing of Note for last week.

Two spirits visited me – and were, rather impressively, utterly in character: my late mother worried about my health, and a dead ex-partner reminded me how we loved to dance and promised to grant me a wish, which I would have taken seriously had he but managed this during our tumultuous 6-year relationship while he was alive. He added the proviso ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace’, which frankly I found prescriptive for someone who’s hanging around the edges of the quick instead of getting on with whatever happens after we’re the dead.

Also, the psychic was late – only by 6 minutes, but for someone who’s absolutely frantic about punctuality, and therefore was 9 minutes early, this represented a 15-minute heel-cooling time that I had to wonder about: surely, if she’s psychic, she should have known I was waiting?

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the reading was the certainty that my soul mate is out there somewhere, waiting to meet me. Gosh. If that’s true, he’s going to have to be someone who puts up with a lot of fuckwittery, because no way am I taking on a soulmate at this late stage of my life. When it comes to intense emotional relationships, I’ve been through siblings, parents, in-laws, a husband, fish*, hamsters, birds, cats, dogs and children, a couple of women and not a few men, and I’m finally at the stage where if I want to lie in bed all afternoon and knit, and someone suggests to me that a better way to make use of this beautiful day would be to go for a lovely walk, I’m entirely within my rights to pull out the Smith&Wesson I keep under my duvet and shoot him dead.

* An interesting recent admission by my sister: she once gave my kids Woolworths gift vouchers for Christmas which, in the hurly-burly of the clearing-up after present-opening time, got thrown away. Although I begged her not to (it was my mistake, not hers), she replaced them. Recently, at Isabella’s 21st – for which my sister also provided a gift voucher, for treatments at a spa – I reminded her of this and asked her why she’d replaced the vouchers anyway. ‘I had to do something to make up for the goldfish,’ she said. When my children were tiny tots, she asked me if she could give my son two goldfish for his birthday. I said, ‘No,’ in very clear and certain terms. She did anyway. I think it’s fair to say the debt has been paid.

Bella’s 21st – the after-party

If a sign of a good party is how long the after-party goes on for, Isabella’s 21st can be considered a success – it went on for the next 2 days! After the fantastic meal and all the formalities at De Oude Kerk, we decamped to my house, where we jolled until the small hours… and were awake again at dawn’s crack to continue. Johann, who had done his sobrage party-trick several times the night before with a heavy-handled knife (as is prescribed), built on this by managing to do it with a TEASPOON (and it wasn’t a fluke, because he did it several times). We, of course, had to drink all the champagne he sliced open. Hilton pounced on Jane-Anne’s brand-new cookbook, Scrumptious, and conscripted Jenny as his driver to ferry him about the village (down to Deli-Co, the farm-style butchery, to get a prime joint of lamb; up to Crisp, our gorgeous local veggie shop, to get greens, etc), before setting to it and producing – 6 hours later, when we were all more than ready for it! – the most amazingly scrumptious lamb dish. Other party guests who’d stayed over in village accommodation popped in and out as the day wore on; Pippa, who’d mistakenly left behind a piece of very emotionally valuable jewellery, made the return trip from Cape Town to fetch it, and joined us on the verandah for another hour or so. Lorissa, whose ankle was so blue and painful that it was clear it was broken (and it turned out it was), sat at the big wooden table outside ordering people around. The ‘oldies’ (we who’re over 45) far outlasted the youngsters, who began drifting off home or to bed on Saturday afternoon; Hilton and I partied on into the small hours of Sunday morning. I began flagging badly on Sunday, but Hilton wasn’t to be stopped, and the after-party could really only be announced over when he left at about 6 on Sunday evening.

Below: Johann sobrages with a knife (Friday evening)…








… then does it again, repeatedly, with a teaspoon (Saturday morning). (Here, he instructs Jenny on the Art of Sobrage with Teaspoon.)








Below: Hilton, undaunted by hangover or hayfever, tackles Jane-Anne’s garlicky lemony slow-cooked fall-apart lamb – with seriously scrumptious results.






















I made this painting (called ‘Isabella, Queen of Kasteel’) for Isabella for her 21st. I like it because I painted and glued every millimetre of it with Isabella foremost in my mind (and often accompanied by several glasses of wine….)








And finally… No matter how drop-dead gorgeous you are at the ball the night before…










… there’s always still laundry to be done the morning after!

Beautiful Bella – present time!

As is right and proper at any birthday party, Isabella got a horde of gifts. I love this sequence of pics (taken at the after-party) in which she tries many of them on for size.