Thursday, December 24, 2009

a merry little christmas

So after all that, I'm back the next day, go figure!
OK, lets be honest here: Christmas s a difficult time in my family, and has always been. My entire family is very involved at the church, which means that from a young age I went to all five or so services on or around Christmas day,and as I did music I had to perform Christmas carols (this continued until I was 19 and went off to play carols at an old age home where the old ladies made me play everything twice because they thought I needed the practise).
Over the years I've gone from super-excited and writing my own Christmas carols, making decorations, spending months planing gifts, to basically just trying to survive the fraying tempers that come as a result of my parents working really hard and still having to deal with preparing the house and a huge meal for the various relatives (who are unintentionally very critical people and that can sting a bit when you're functioning on very little sleep and too much sugar). As much as I'm sure some people frown on my only going to one service (and I skipped carols this year, although not on purpose, I was being dangled over the edge of a cliff at the time)., I like to think that being vaguely awake helps me to deal with all the flying emotions slightly better than otherwise, particularly since I suck at handling people most the time.
At the moment I've been left at home to help clean up and decorate and do all the little things before I rush off to drop presents with people and get home in time for my folks to go off to midnight mass (wouldn't want them to worry about me on the roads while they're in church and can't get to me if there's a problem. they worry like that).
So basically it's a few days sprint in bomb-drill position, not saying anything personal or that could be construed as such and helping as much as I can before I feel the emergence of my inner sarcasm which means I get out of there before I start the next family feud.
One of the traditions that had become really important to me was the putting up of decorations. My brother and I used to do it together, with the kind of childish exuberance that lead to the plastic tree (it's older than I am) to sag under what looked like a tinsel-monster had thrown up on it. We also had a gazillion tree ornaments that all had stories behind them and therefore had to be put up (my brother had a panda and a trumpet, I had an angel and a saxophone, my dad had to put the star up, as well as all the clunky clay things we made at school and ornaments that were given as gifts from various people, and some that matched my grandparents decorations).
As I got older Ire also various things to go all over the house and my brother and I would fight over who got the tinfoil spiral things over our doorways (we also booby-trapped our rooms for Father Christmas but that's another story).
A few years ago when my brother moved to the UK I had to do the decorations alone, but he was coming home right after Christmas so it was ok. Then the next year was being all Grinchish and he forced me to put up decorations with him and got all excited over the smell of the tree very specific plastic smell) and so on and I got excited too.
This is the third time since then that I've done the decorating on my own, ever since he decided that his lovely girlfriend would make a lovely wife (and an awesome sister to me). I remember it being hard the first year when I thought I'd call him up to come and help and my mother wouldn't let me because she said it was his time to start new traditions as a husband in his own house. Fair enough, plus remember the bomb-drill story? You don't disagree with my mother until at least the 28th...
Last year I was so exhausted from fieldwork and diving and conferencing I kind of put the tree up and threw tinsel until it stuck.
I don't know what's been going on this year. I've been super-busy and Christmas kind of snuck up on me. I've also changed a lot this year and moved from cynical and tough to slightly more emotional and open. Maybe that's it? Maybe it's that our personal decorations are old and worn out and to be stacked at the base of the tree rather than hanging on it?
All I know is that I just burst into tears while putting up the tree and setting the table. Am I a bad person for wanting my brother right now? I love my sister-in-law to bits and I couldn't be happier that they've found each other, but sometime it feels like I really am an only child and I wish I had appreciated having him here more than I did. And I'm a little bit freaked out, I'm not a frequent cryer, so I'm not quite sure how to deal with it...
Anyway as a lot of my close friends are only children, or older children I felt very stuck without anyone to talk to. I guess this is why we blog?
I'm hoping turning the music up and scrubbing some floors will help? This mood-yoyo is starting to annoy me lately. How do people go their entire lives being emotional? It's hard work!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I have had a crazy few weeks, I’ve seen around 10 awesome bands, celebrated New Years already, had a nasty bug, done all my Christmas shopping and tried to deal with silly people who fight with each other.

I also faced a pretty mega fear of mine, but the mega-epic post is waiting for some photos and I haven’t got around to sorting through all the shaky photos for the useable ones yet, so I think you may have to wait a few days.

That said:


I hope everyone out there has a wonderful time, gets spoiled rotten, avoids family feuds, eats FAR too much, and avoids mind games, family-related third degree sessions (no, I’m not married yet) and washing dishes.

Enjoy it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The continuing adventures of Lizard-Girl

I’ve had an awesome week and weekend and I have SO much to write about, but to do it justice I need more coffee and I have a hectic day planned so I thought I’d dig out one of the ‘secret posts’ as I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit lately (and I love you guys so please keep reading, K?)

Without further ado:

So I have one more story about the farmers on the Eastern side of the Conservancy  this happened a year ago, while I had another student staying with me while she did a couple of weeks of fieldwork.

I was trapping on the Bushpig guy’s farm when I got a panicked call from the other student to say that she’d had a car accident and asking me to fetch her, so I packed up and rushed off to pick her up. It turned out that she’d had a nasty puncture, lost control of her 4x4 and ended up making rather close friends with  fence, a few trees and a rather large rock. She’d called the AA to come and tow the car, but they’d put her on hold, and as she was on a prepaid package, she ran out of airtime, hiked for miles to the nearest occupied house (which was the one belonging to the shirtless tractor drivers, who offered her french toast) and called me.

We came back to the house so I could drop off the lizards and have some coffee and which I drove up the hill while drinking and ended up holding the cup out the window (made for some fascinating patterns down the door) and went to the edge of the highway to wait for the tow truck.

After an hour we phoned the tow truck people again to find that the driver had got lost and decided to go and tow someone else’s car. An hour later we’d convinced the dispatcher to tell him to turn around and come and meet us so we could show him where the car was.

I was fed up with sitting inside by then, so I opened the back of the bakkie and sat on the tailgate, and the other student came and joined me after a while and we pointed out all the rocky outcrops we could see and tried to figure out how to get the them. It was a lovely day and everything was fine until… a goat walked up and said ‘Maaaa-uh-uhhhhh!’

She ran back to the passenger seat and locked the door. i tried to avoid looking into the weird weird goat eyes (they have horizontal pupils, it’s just weird) and I tried to stay as far away from it as possible and not bother it. After a while it made the weirdest noise ever, I got the fright of my life, shrieked like a girl and ran to the drivers seat, leaving the tailgate down.

Big mistake. Next thing we knew the goat had jumped up into the bakkie and started headbutting the dividing window to get to us!

Considering we already had one damaged vehicle and didn’t really want another one, we figured we should try and remove the goat. Except that neither of us knew how. We went around to the back and tried calling it, we picked leaves from a nearby plant and tried to coax it out… and it looked at us and then peed all over the inside of the back of the bakkie. and I mean ALL over. I had no idea goat bladders were that big!

After about fifteen minutes we were rescued by two small children who came from the house. The chased it out and back into the garden of their neighbour, smacking the poor thing with sticks and generally having a great time and scaring us rather a lot. We thanked them and got back in the car, where they came around to the window and started chatting to us. The boy was ten or eleven I think and his little sister was eight. They lived in various houses on a big property belonging to their grandfather (I think they shuffled between their parents and grandparents houses, I‘m not sure how the tractor boys are connected to all of it).

The boy was the type that I could see growing up to be a very typical (albeit rather nasty farmer). He told us about the goat’s owners (the first non-white land owners in the area) in some rather derogatory terms, including blaming their behaviour on teaching the goat to pee in the back of the bakkie. Racism is, sadly, a part of life around here, but generally the adults hide it quite well, the way the kids spoke was just plain scary! He spoke about the land that his family owned, and when we asked if they often saw lizards he replied with “You can’t go there. It’s private property!”

We apologised, explained that we were just curious, and the other student tried to calm him down by telling a funny story about a leopard in the playground of a school she was visiting. Big mistake. You see, she is American, and has an accent to prove it. This little kid went off about how “You Americans think that that’s what life is like in South Africa, and that we all have pet lions and we ride elephants and-“ Unfortunately he messed with the wrong girl, as this one had spent the better part of a year living in various game reserves and probably knows more about South African ecology than most people. She told him this in no gentle terms and he decided to attack me for my American-ness instead.

Because apparently I talk like an American. Go figure.

The girl was about eight or so and very sweet. I got the urge to send her off to boarding school or somewhere we she could learn about the big wide world. She was kind of creepy though and occasionally would reach into the vehicle and stroke the other student. Eventually this got too much and the phone came out and she started calling the AA again, so the girl walked around to my side.

She didn’t mess around but opened with: “Do you believe in God?”

Great, we’ve been waiting on the side of the highway for two hours, there is goat pee in the back of my vehicle, we just got a front row viewing of some random person defecating in a ditch right in front of us and the creepy stroking-girl is trying to convert me.

I replied that I did (I do actually) and thanks for asking. She looked at me quizzically.

“You mean you’re a Christian?”


“Well you’re not a very good one.”

“Excuse me?”

“You should be praying for the AA tow truck to arrive, not just waiting. ” her face lit up “You could close the windows RIGHT NOW and pray for the truck!”

At this stage the other student was trying to yell at the AA through giggles and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this all (but was grateful to have avoided the stroking thus far).

“I think I should wait for her to get off the phone, huh?”

Around that time the kids’ mother called them inside and the tow truck arrived (with a flat tyre, but that’s another story entirely) and we were left wit a rather strange impression of the kids in the area.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I have to say is...

Whoever designed the bathrooms here was a sadist. Two of the walls are
completely covered by giant mirrors. So while showering and/or
changing clothes the poor sucker in there gets a full view of
themselves from all angles. I hope I never have to see certain regions
of myself again.

At least I have a regular motivator to keep running while I'm here!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Silliness aside

Sorry, the previous post was from earlier when La and I were in a
silly mood! The three of us are currently on holiday in the very
lovely limpopo which is currently cold and cloudy but very pretty!

Following a crazy weekend of reconnecting with old friends, hanging
out with the usual gang, participating in a flash-mob, going to see a
couple of bands and feeling all maternal towards indie musicians and
generally loving being young, blue-haired and yet old enough to drive,
I needed some time to recuperate a bit...

We've settled in nicely, we're staying at La's boss's holiday place
which is beautiful- I'm settled in a weird attic-type place. I was the
first to pick a room and of course I picked the one with stairs and no
easy bathroom access. I guess I have an inner romantic after all!

Otherwise we've done some exploring, been welcomed to the park with
pancakes (at this rate if I fit into my clothes at the end of the week
I'll be surprised) seen some bokkies, argued over bird IDs (yes, it
turns out I've learned something over the years) and laughed a lot.

For once I'm NOT the only one taking flak for boy issues (I don't
collect said issues on purpose) which is really nice for a change!

I don't know if I'll get another chance to post this week, so if not
I'll see you all on the weekend!

Anyone got anything exciting planned before then?


So after many many years I have decided to tell the people I spend time with about the blog that takes so much of my time! La has decided to dictate a post to me:

So it’s a Monday, around 5:30pm listening to Icelandic indie-music, staring at the bush (and the birds) drinking FAR too much (
I’m not driving :) so it’s ok) this week is going to be AWESOME!

I have blue hair!

So to clarify, I’m on holiday! In the bush (of all places) sitting writing a blog post with La who claims to be excited to taste my famous pasta!

And CG is inside doing something technical on her laptop...

This place is beautiful, I’d forgotten the amazing flat limpopo landscape and the birds and the game we’ve seen already.

La says:


hello maters hoe gaan dit????

Yes, i am improving my AFRikaans SKILL RIGHT NOW moet my nie “ judge” (beordeel)?

CG stole my hat and she says “F^%$#^%$ the world!” Can’t expect much less I suppose!

There are no rocks out here, where am I supposed to sit and think about life?

And where are the lizards?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keeping busy

Went for a quick bite to eat and a drink with two friends at six last night (to celebrate one of them getting a shiny new car) and wound up getting home at midnight. It was really nice to spend some real quality time with one of them (I hadn’t seen her since I got back) and my worries about her not getting along with the other friend were unfounded – they got along like a house on fire which was awesome!

I’m going to see these guys this weekend:

I’m so excited! I used to be hectically into the local music scene but I’ve lost touch with it over the last few years and I can’t wait to get back out there.

I got a new CD by these guys:

And I’m off to the bush on Monday with ‘the girls’ which is horrible because I had to miss a 25th (that I RSVPed to months ago) and had to cancel on, plus i have HEAPS of work to get through which I’ll have to take with me. At the same time it’s awesome to get out of the city for a little bit.

Who knows, maybe there will be lizards?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


since I was a little kid I LOVED going to the hairdresser. I love the ‘hot-hair’ smell, the pretty product displays, the magazine selection, the complimentary coffee (it used to be a mug of instant coffee or a glass of juice. This morning I got a full-on cappuccino, although I had to scoop bits of my hair out of it periodically when the guy cutting my hair got mildly enthusiastic).

I’m a little bit paranoid about letting people near my head with scissors. I have a lot of hair, and it grows at an alarming rate (like shoulder-length to almost waist-length in the last ten months), but even so, its not easy to find someone I trust.

Now that my friend’s husband’s aunt (who was awesome) became my friend’s EX-husband’s aunt, I decided it was time to find someone new. Rather than letting her take it all out on me with one of those thinning-razor thingies. Nothing like a bad haircut/slit throat to get a point to the (ex)other side of the family (mafia-with-hairspray style)!

I’m not sure why I trusted the guy I ended up going to. I mean he’s BALD of all things… but when I asked about blue hair he didn’t even flinch and he discussed the pro’s and cons of different methods and booked me in before I could change my mind.

Turns out I am SO glad I did. he’s one of the old-school types, who doesn’t believe in gadgets. You know those thinning-scissors that always give me a heart-attack (they remove every second hair or something, so when they scoop up your hair and it looks like they’re cutting it off at the scalp…)? He did the same thing with NORMAL scissors without me noticing (and he handled my freak-out quite well when I did notice…).

It also turned out that he’s completely fascinated by hair colour (on the molecular level) and so when I mentioned lizard colour he got so excited he proceeded to dump a sizeable chunk of my hair in my coffee while going on about the mystery of the inner hair-core medulla (or something) and how the structure of the pigments is affected by bleach, and hair is just an illusion after all and we just play with something that doesn’t really exist.

of course all of this while complaining how silly people think they can understand what they’re doing with hair and how it takes decades just to understand colour and longer to learn to work with it. Seeing him at work I had to agree, there was a kind of confidence in his movements that made me completely at ease and it was very clear that he knew exactly what he was doing.

After all that he dried and styled my hair, looked at it critically and decided to use the GHD for good measure (I want one) and then proceeded to give me some shiny blue streaks (eight of them) while showing me swatches of other colours. I was tempted to add in pink and purple as well, but decided to stick to the blue instead.

So today I have: done some Christmas shopping, found a hairdresser who is totally passionate about hair (reasonably priced too), had a fabulous cappuccino while being GHDed (girly-heaven?), got rid of my fieldwork-induced split-ends (the tie-dye effect from wearing a hat and not tucking the ends in is still evident though) finally found a foundation that doesn’t turn me pink, rediscovered the joy of marmite and got blue hair!

So basically it’s gone from this: weddingbouquet

(the promised awkward wedding photo, I’m the one screaming in terror at the bouquet at my feet)

To this:


(excuse the emo-pose, I’m not great at aiming a camera at myself)

Monday, December 07, 2009


So this weekend was INSANE! I spent most of it rushing around from place to place and dying of heat (never plan four different things on the Saturday after the Killers concert…), but it was totally awesome anyway.

I’m too tired to give many details so here you go:

We went to the KILLERS! It was awesome!


Although there were rather a lot of people. i was lucky enough to be able to see the stage (as I’m a bit on the tall side), even though we were behind about six GIaNT mutants (who were all friends, which was so strange). My friends are shorter than me but seemed ok with looking at the screens and jumping around like maniacs.

k4 Witness the rather scary progression: from all dressed-up, to all-dressed up and rained on (sorry for the weird crop, CG would kill me for putting photos of her up here)

 k5k3 k2

… to exhausted, rained-on and all-screamed out (and still wearing a seatbelt). I have to admit to spazzing-out completely when they started the “I’ve got soul” bit. I’m talking jumping up and down and SHRIEKING “It’s my song! Oh my gosh! it’s my song! they’re playing my song! Oh my gosh ohmygoshohmgosh!” and so on. What can I say, I have a a history with it. Note the flashing bunny-ears as well. They kept us entertained for most of the evening (the others got pink ones, I got blue ones) as well as the drive home, not to mention annoying enough of the tall people to get them out of our way…

After getting back and joining in an epic guitar-hero rock band game and generally being  bit over-tired and therefore manic we collapsed and I woke up the next morning to rush home and change, meet someone for coffee and go off to Tamara’s open house market-ty thing. It was AWESOME, the jewellery was absolutely stunning and I’ve already hijacked a Christmas present for me (they look better on me than the potential giftee anyway). Don’t judge me!

From there it was off to Athena’s braai, where I met a bunch of new people, got to document extreme pool-entries:


Appreciated some awesome T-shirts:


Reconnected with an old friend (who is also a blogger…). If we ever start a band i think this should be the album-cover. The angry face in my case was the product of extreme exhaustion, not unhappiness!


Appreciated Athena’s super-braai skills (she’s vegetarian, yet quite talented at cooking dead things)


Attempted to take another lab-photo


If we could stop laughing for long enough to take it…


If you’d seen attempt number two, you’d understand my grimace…

And of course, flashing (and fluffy) blue ears, while a total bonus, didn’t quite fulfil my weekend-hat-requirement. Fortunately Tom’s hat DID. Anyone in Spain who feels like buying me a hat, please do so! This one is AWESOME!


Unfortunately while the fun didn’t end there, I left my cameras at home for the rest of the weekend, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

Now to recover and face the week ahead! Which is easier when you have exciting things, like my appointment to re-blueify my hair tomorrow. And of course, visitors like this in the lab:

Image157 Image154


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pre-Killers hyping!

Today is a good day:

  1. it’s the Killers tomorrow! I just found out that my brother and sister-in-law won tickets for tonight’s show which is nice that it happened to people I care about and not just random strangers (although I’m happy for the random-stranger winners too).
  2. I got put rather solidly back in my place the other day and post having a decent cry I felt a lot better and more perspectived.
  3. I took this morning off to sleep in, do a long overdue hair-treatment and chat on Skype to a friend who is on holiday in Thailand. I learned to say “hello” in Thai and had a great laugh at the funny stories (complete with funny voices).
  4. We might be planning a trip to the coast :D
  5. I’ve been invited to the bush week-after-next!
  6. There is a tremendously funny photo of me leaping back from the bouquet in horror at the wedding that just got sent my way (thanks cousin!) and made me laugh and cringe and debate sending it to… I may be persuaded to post it as soon as i get a slightly more glamorous one to put with it!
  7. It’s tai chi night!
  8. We’ve been in ridiculously silly moods today and I’ve been giggling all afternoon! We’re designing a new lab and having to come up with ideas for filling an extra room. I’m pushing for a trampoline or foam pit, other suggestions have included a dassie colony (to go with the penguin colony in the cold-room), fire-ants, a sound-proofed screaming room or a ‘time-out you have a deadline’ room…

On the minus side I have some interesting social developments that seemed to have happened without my noticing.


And it’s the Killers tomorrow night :D

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


The super-awesome Tamara gave me a shiny new award! Isn’t it pretty? It really turned around a pretty astoundingly difficult few days, so thanks Tamara!


I’m supposed to post six (6) random things about me, but I figure I write about me all the time, so I thought I would post six (6) things I’ve learned since I got home last week. Here goes:

  1. I really like M. Ward’s music. I had no idea until I fell in love with the song “One Life Away” about two days ago.
  2. I am officially crazy. it’s usually hard to come home but this time has been off-the-charts horrible. I really want to figure out where I belong again because right now it’s a big scary nowhere. And I keep crying which isn’t a good thing.
  3. I like being a little bit eccentric, but being ‘the weird one’ for the last couple of months has made me desperate to be normal.
  4. I remember a lot more tai chi than I’d expected, plus it felt AMAZING to relearn some of the sword stuff last night :)
  5. You can have fun in the strangest places. Like the scene of a hilarious (and therefore rather embarrassing) Saturday night a few months ago. I wound up going back there last night to meet up with some other people and had a blast!
  6. I find conspiracy theorists vastly entertaining. I spent an hour learning about David Icke’s lizard-people theory today. I particularly enjoyed his theory of social acceptance on his ideas – i.e. the more people ridicule him, the greater the probability of there being true. I also really enjoyed his listing the queen of England as “seriously reptilian” – as opposed to moderately reptilian? Reptilian on weekends?

Now I tag… Leia, Candice, Athena, Kath, Becca, and Frankie!

Congratulations girls!