Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cooking again

I stopped cooking for a while. I made food, but didn't cook.

This year had taken it out of me and I struggled to find the energy and creativity to produce something that we could savour over a meal. Glad to say, things are returning slowly.

It came about by first making a deliberate choice to move away from prepackaged meat. It's unhealthy, environmentally damaging and expensive. So, if I want to make fillet, I go to the butcher and want to see how he cuts it from the carcass. The same goes for other types of meat. When I want to cook fish, I go to our local supermarket, choose the fish and watch how the head, tail and fins disappear and how filleting is done. I have been amazed at the difference in taste as well as the difference in price. This week alone I have been able to get Yellowtail at R22.00 per kilo and Hake at R51.00 per kilo. A kilo of fish is A LOT of food.

Secondly, I planted my own veggie and herb garden from which I get fresh greens. Once again, cost effective and really tasty! It is amazing how easy it actually is to plant and produce your own food.

So, tonight I made fried hake. Two hours of preparing batter, cutting the fish, making Basmati rice, cutting and cleaning broccoli... Two hours of not thinking about work, counseling, meetings. Just me, my German knives, fresh food, AMC classic pots and Classic FM in the background. Now, this is chilling. Pity I'm not allowed to drink wine anymore.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting something for nothing

I am spotting a trend in my country. Perhaps it is not just here, but this is where I notice it. It is the trend of expecting something for nothing. Let me explain. In this past week our national soccer coach was fired because the team has raked in a series of poor results. He was the 16th coach in 17 years. We expect the team to win, yet our players are notorious for not arriving at practices, there is constant infighting among those in top structures etc etc. So, the coach gets fired...again. Suppose people start thinking that there isn't a coach problem, but that there is an administration problem, an accountability problem.

Our mayor, Gwen Ramakgopa will probably be fired in the next day or two. She has been accused of mismanaging funds and is well known for her spending sprees. Yet, a quarter of Pretoria's residence do not have access to basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation services. I wonder where those in power thought these things would come from. Heaven?

For 15 years, Eskom, the South African electricity provider had not maintained or upgraded its facilities. Now there is a crisis as demand is outgunning supply. The immediate answer: a 43% hike in tariffs, with the same increase projected for at least the next three years. Where was the electricity going to come from? Thunderbolts? Yet, Eskom's executives have given themselves healthy bonuses over this period. Expecting something for nothing.

Next, there will be the water-crisis. It is not a crisis yet, because the rich have not been affected. But it is coming and sooner than we think.

Every time someone raises these issues, the standard response from those in political power is "Crisis, what crisis?". This cliche has become the running joke among South Africans. But then again, the roof doesn't leak if it doesn't rain.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm in love

Triumph Bonneville T100. They have this bike in this colour at the bike shop around the corner from the church. Aaaaahhhhh.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nice photo's of Nathan and Lilly

Nathan and Lilly are best of friends. It wouldn't surprise me if they get married one day. See why...

Monday, October 12, 2009

And then my son made me chuckle...

Still a bit agro, we started eating supper. Nathan, our two year old lawyer (because he has an unbeatable argument for everything) was struggling to eat his carrots. He started moving from the table towards the T.V., ignoring our every effort to get him back. And then there was a thunderclap and he dashed back to the table. Sitting there with eyes stretched wide, he said "God is talking to me!". Stunned I asked him what God said. He replied: "God told me to eat my food!".

Where do they get this?

What a day!!!

I don't want today over again. I got angry too many times. I spoke improperly to too many people. This is what happened.

We were driving on the R21 (Pretoria to Johannesburg) to take my Vespa in for repairs. My Vespa was in a trailer, by the way. Travelling no more than 80 km/h to avoid any bumps and bruises to my baby, a guy in a white Jetta came past in the fast lane, but started veering towards my car and smacked off my side mirror. We both stopped and I lost my cool for the first time in years. He admitted guilt, but said that the car was not his. So, I phoned the owner, who was busy at the time, but promised to phone me back.

Dropped off old Bertie and went to our local police station to report the accident. They referred me to another station where I had to report the case. Then I phoned her again. This time she said the driver told her that the accident was my fault and that they would not be liable for damages as there weren't any witnesses. So I phoned the chap and asked him why he lied. No answer. Then I reminded him that my wife was in the car and that she would testify as a witness. Rude conversation. Conversation ended.

On our way to the other police station, a guy sitting on the back of a Bakkie chucked a glass bottle in front of my car. Hooters, ethics lecture on our responsibility towards the environment. Apologies, smiles, moved on.

Got to the police station where I was helped by a Constable who was busy listening to music on her cellphone. No greeting, she just slammed the forms down in front of me. everytime I asked for assistance, she would rudely point to blocks on the paper for completion without uttering a word. Ethics lecture on service to the community. Then she told me "This is not my job". Lost it again. Lecture on work ethic. Then I took her name and told her I knew the process to report her unprofessional behaviour. Conversion happened as quickly as during prayer at a Billy Graham crusade. Unfortunately her superior went home already, but I'll still phone tomorrow, because "It IS my job".

So, needless to say, my patience is running a bit low, my sense of humour oscillating, and I am looking for reasons to be thankful for living in a community where people don't own up to their mistakes, where civil servants find it more fulfilling to listen to music than doing their job and where some will deliberately lie in order to get away with not having to pay for their errors. Lord, help me.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

When our children make us cry.

I mentioned in the car that I felt a bit hungry. Without mentioning anything, my son Matthew (6) made me toast with jam and cheese. What a surprise! I was caught off-guard, not thinking that what I had mentioned was heard and acted upon. I ate my toast, savouring every bit. By the way, when I write during summer, I often take off my shirt and sit at my desk only in shorts and socks.

Another knock on the door. "Look pappa!" His shirt was off. He put on his cream-coloured shorts, like mine. He put on his navy socks, like mine. "I look just like you!" By now I lost it completely. This child listened to me and acted. He looked at me and copied. This is stuff worth meditating on, but for now my computer is going to be switched off and I will be spending time with my boys.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Global Leadership Summit

I haven't been inspired by church like this in a very long time! For the past two days we've been attending the Global Leadership Summit in Boksburg, South Africa. I must admit, I didn't raise my expectations too much in anticipation of the conference. This is mostly because the synods and Conference I usually attend offer the "same old, same old" - talk without purpose, politics without action, egos without servanthood, careering without calling. You know what I mean. But this was different. Leaders from all different spheres of life shared their experiences of leadership and spoke about what they thought the local church could do to make a difference.

It was truly inspirational stuff and once again, I believe that the local church can make a difference. The key, for me, in this Summit, is to resist the temptation to cut-and-paste ministries into our congregational life. None of the speakers spoke of a "magic formula" or "recipe for success". All of them spoke about God calling them to action in their context, addressing the problems in their local reality. I am inspired by their ability to listen. During this past year, we have had as our theme at the Glen "Listening to the voice of God". This Summit was the cherry on the cake. We will listen some more to the uncomfortable call of the comforting Voice.

This was good for my soul.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance breeds militancy. This is my quote learnt from an encounter with a student during yesterday's class.

Well, we were busy discussing the relationship between spirituality and ethics when this gent raised his hand. He had been quiet all through the class, so I expected a soft-spoken, yet profound input. Much to my surprise he started talking about the "fact"
that the English translations of the Bible are tainted with omissions from the original text in order to promote a "hidden" agenda. He cited the Lukan version of the Lord's prayer and stirred the other students up by proving that this account in the NIV and other translations do not have the "Our" in "Our Father". In fact, many of the other lines (that one finds in Matthew) are not even there.

So, I started by telling him about the Synoptic problem, but did not even get to telling him which Gospels form part of the Synoptic Gospels before he interjected again and rattled on for a few minutes. And then the grand finale... "We must read the King James Version of the Bible, because it is the only translation that is a direct copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls".

I couldn't contain my smile.