Another week of lockdown is behind us. I have stopped counting the days since I started self isolating but I know April 18th marked one calendar month since I left home. From now I will count how many days until the lockdown in South Africa is scheduled to end. Looking forward rather than back. There are 13 more days of lockdown until the 1st of May (inclusive of today and the 1st). I suspect that the lockdown will be extended however and will continue in some manner but I hope they loosen the ropes on what the shops are allowed to sell. I also would like it if the restaurants could open for collection or delivery, it would help the restaurants to cope financially and it would give us housebound people a bit of a break from cooking every night.
This week the government announced that some shops had been selling cooked food and that this was supposed to be outlawed since the lockdown was implemented and will now be stopped. Our shops have been selling cooked savoury food such as roast chicken, meals and pies. This is another aspect which the government has not thought through. Does this mean additional job losses for the people who cook this food? It means an additional loss of revenue for these shops. There are many truck drivers and others such as front line workers who rely on this quick and nutritious food to cope with their schedules, it seems a bit unnecessary and restrictive.
Today’s stats for South Africa according to the Worldometers site are:
The police and the army are still present in some areas. There were 2,298 arrests in one day on 30 March. By close of business on 31 March 2020, the total sum of arrests had reached more than 17,000 since the kick-off of the lockdown. According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, as of last Friday, the number of people the police have arrested for violating the order since the beginning of the lockdown is over 17,209.
But Bheki does not seem to have a plan of how to deal in a humane manner with the numbers of protesters who are rioting over lack of food and the hunger of South Africans is driving them to protest. This week alone, grocery stores have been looted and protests have broken out on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha, Alexandra and Chatsworth – to name just a few areas.
Many of the poor in South Africa work on a day to day basis and get paid at the end of their day. If they cannot work they do not eat. The country has implemented processes to deliver food parcels to the poor but it seems as if they are not being fairly distributed in some of the areas which is leading to more protests.
An anonymous senior police official was quoted as saying “We are policing petty crimes while people are getting beaten up and murdered for going to the shops. People are broke, people are hungry. Crime is going to go through the roof. We are worried that more people will die of starvation than will die of the coronavirus.” The official added they were hearing of problems with the distribution of food parcels, and disparity over who was given parcels and who were not.
This was filmed in Mitchell’s Plain where many people in the community rely on state welfare.
People in SA are starving! I see poor people posting in Facebook groups begging for money to buy food for their children and the middle class posting that they have seen people digging through rubbish bins for food as if this situation is new to the lockdown and they never noticed the high levels of desperation in SA. None of this seems to be going smoothly for the poor and underprivileged. It has hopefully opened the eyes of the privileged to the conditions of the poor.
Mobile Testing has kicked in and thousands of people are being tested and if they are positive they must isolate. How do they then collect their food parcels and social grants if they are isolating? There are so many unique aspects to be considered in an environment like SA.
For those of us who are lucky enough to be able to work from home, this was a 4 day work week thanks to being given a long weekend off for Easter last weekend. It made me wonder what percentage of people in South Africa are Christians or is this a holiday left over from the colonial domination of South Africa? I am not a Christian but we still have a nice lunch and enjoy our time off. Usually we would either go down to visit the kids or they would come here or we would have arranged meals out with friends or entertained them here or been busy for at least part of the 4 days. This year we had to create our own amusement.
Norm and I decided to decorate Easter eggs but there was no food colouring at the shops. We had some red colouring in the cupboard and some felt pens so we made do with what we had. Norm made a wee ginger man in a tartan kilt (Scotch egg, get it?). It was so cute.
I made a little Humpty Dumpty egg. His bow tie went a bit awry but my paint brush was not very good (yes, I am blaming my tools rather than my skills).
I cooked a lovely Easter lunch. I baked a ham / gammon similar to the old fashioned southern way my Daddy used to bake his. I coated it with maple syrup, packed it with crushed pineapple and filled the baking pan with coca-cola and the juice from the tin of pineapple.
To go with the ham I made potatoes au gratin which is one of my fave dishes ever.
I also roasted butternut in coconut oil and made some coleslaw.
We will probably be eating ham for weeks as we usually have the whole family here for Easter and they all love ham. I missed feeding them!
As I mentioned in my last blog, we held an Easter family zoom meeting with Norm, my kids and my Mom on Easter evening. My Mom is struggling a bit with being on her own with no human contact. We do a lot of WhatsApp and social media communication but it is not the same.
Norm sent out an invite to meet on zoom at 8pm SA time and to wear an Easter bonnet or hat of some sort. I started out with my Steampunk baby top hat Caitlin made for me years ago.
Everyone looked so cute.
Mom did not have a hat and my son Trevor wore a ninja turtle mask which was so funny. He was crazy about ninja turtles when he was a small child.
The rest of us all changed our hats periodically.
We had such a giggle. I am laughing in every pic!
It took a few minutes to get us all sorted out and able to view everyone but once we did the time flew by. We were all surprised when Trevor’s battery started to die and realised we had been on for over an hour. It gave me such a boost to have a family ‘gathering’ and see my Mom and my babies’ beautiful faces and it cheered my Mom up no end.
Unfortunately Mom’s good mood only lasted a short time as a tornado passed through my hometown that night and caused a lot of devastation. There was a huge amount of rain, apparently a month’s worth of rain came down in a day.
My Mom lost power and was quite terrified by the storm. Luckily she had her cell phone and could still communicate with people and several phoned her to check she was okay. Thankfully she had no damage to her own house and all is fine with her now. I feel so bad for those who lost property in this storm. My elderly uncle is still without power and relies on people to bring him food as the roads are blocked and he can no longer drive.
As a child I do not remember any tornadoes or hurricanes in our area but there have been multiple this year. Is this climate change? Why else would the weather patterns change so drastically? We have really pissed off Mother Earth and her vengeance is showing.
Monday I cooked again even though we had so many leftovers from our Easter feast. The meat from our shop would expire so we have to cook. That is why under ‘normal’ conditions we shop for a day or two at a time, but as we want Norm to only go out once a week we have to buy enough to last as long as possible. There are very limited vegetables in the shops for some reason but there seems to be plenty of meat.
I made chicken breasts and I wrapped them in bacon as the bacon was due to go off the next day. I served it with the leftover potatoes au gratin, the rest of the bag of spinach from Friday night, mushrooms and coleslaw.
It was fabulous that we had another 4 day week but it had us confused, Norm and I were both convinced that Tuesday was actually Monday. I was very productive at work and sent out two new Data Quality measurement reports we have designed and implemented. It is always interesting to see how the clients react, some of them fear exposure and some welcome transparency. I had a lot of push back on this exposure. I think how people react to factual information says a lot about their character.
Our weather has been a bit erratic, moving from rain and clouds to brilliant sunshine. That is pretty typical fall weather in SA.
Lola loves the sun and is often found lying by the pool but on Tuesday she decided the midday sun was too much for her and she hid under the chair.
She alternated this with strolling casually across my keyboard when she decided she needed a scratch. She is so cute it is hard to tell her to bugger off.
Blue is terribly bored and desperate for attention. He does this little show most days.
Tuesday night I cooked 2 meals as both our minced beef and pork chops were due to expire the next day. I cooked a big pot of chili con carne for Wednesday night and I cooked pork chops for Tuesday night. I coated the chops in a sticky BBQ sauce which makes them look burned but they were perfect. I roasted sweet potatoes in coconut oil and just chucked the mushrooms in with them. I steamed some cauliflower to go with it.
Wednesday was a chilly but sunny day. It never got that warm during the day and for most of the year in South Africa, once the sun goes down it gets very cool in the evenings. While we watched telly I was wrapped up in a blanket wearing furry slippers, but we still keep the door open for the fresh air and so the dogs can get in and out. Navajo lies on the front porch guarding us at night. He loves the cold air.
I had a high anxiety day on Wednesday. I had some hassles from the client and then when we were watching telly it all seemed very noisy. Noise triggers me big time. I do not know why but it overwhelms me completely. I had a few vodkas and that seemed to calm me down a bit.
For dinner that night we had the chili con carne I had made the night before. It was nice to not have to cook, all I did was grate some sharp cheddar and put out some fromage frais in case it was too hot for Gringo Norm. (it was)
Thursday was raining all day with very cool temperatures. Sometimes when it rains it feels heavy with humidity but it was a refreshing rain. I woke up in a great mood and my day started off very cheerful and positive. Then when I logged onto my emails I very quickly got stressed. As mentioned before our company has already lost one project due to Covid-19 and it seems that I may lose my role on one of the projects I am involved in. I have another project due to start soon, but the uncertainty about having enough work is very stressful.
Our project had a ‘Team Social’ event online on Thursday at 5pm which I was not keen on ‘attending’ but this sort of thing is often something the client wants you to make time for so I was online til 6pm.
We had leftover chili for dinner, so at least I did not have cooking dinner to deal with after the online meeting. However I had a restless night due to stressing over the uncertainty of work and woke at 6am to check my emails only to find more stressful exchanges. I have to try and not obsess and just let the chips fall where they may. Luckily Norm is still getting more work and is doing well.
Friday morning Norm went out to do a quick shop as we had no vegetables or meat left. That night we made a homemade low carb pizza.
We had mushrooms which I sliced and fried in butter in garlic. I sliced up artichoke hearts and green olives and used the coppa and salami from the pack of mixed Italian Antipasto Norm had picked up.
I made home made tomato sauce and decided to make extra and freeze half so that next time we decide to have pizza we can just thaw it as cooking the sauce is what takes the most effort.
That night I woke up several times with severe reflux and had to sit up until it lessened. I had 2 vodka and passionfruit drinks that evening so it could be the acidity of those but I also had candy coated chocolate peanuts and it could have been that. I also had bad reflux on Easter night and I had the same chocolates. As those are the only sweets I have had in a month that could be it. Whatever the cause, it meant I did not sleep well.
Norm went down to feed the dogs and open up the curtains and I heard voices so I listened to what was going on. I heard him speaking to Alexa saying ‘Alexa, please play Billy Joel radio on Spotify’. I bloody detest Billy Joel. I then hear him say ‘Alexa are you OK?’ Alexa seldom understands his Scottish accent. I then hear Alexa respond with: ‘You know when you write a piece of poetry and it doesn’t come out how you wanted? That’s how I feel.’. Norm (sympathetic as ever) asks her ‘Alexa can you play music?’ and Alexa says: ‘playing Spotify’ but she played a different playlist than the requested Billy Joel.
Alexa got my back, she’s my ride or die BFF. #NoBillyJoelThankYouAlexa. I love Alexa. Maybe not as much as this guy, but I love her.
After he finished rowing with Alexa, Norm brought me a large frothy coffee and he and I had a long lie in bed just reading things on our iPads. When I eventually got up I had a long hot shower and washed and deep conditioned my hair and exfoliated my skin. My hair is so frizzy and is getting chopped off as soon as I can get out. I went out to sit in the sun for a bit to dry it.
It felt lovely to take a leisurely shower as we are still conscious of the drought and our water consumption and I am usually in and out as quick as I can be.
It was an absolutely stunning day and our dead grass is starting to perk up thanks to all of the rain we have had.
Norm made us a gorgeous Low Carb High Fat brunch of scrambled eggs, bacon, rosa tomatoes and avocados while I was busy on my computer. He is the best hubby and I am so lucky.
Norm had work to do and I was pottering about the house. Since Norm was busy upstairs I started watching a new reality show as this is not Norm’s cup of tea. I love this sort of nonsense to distract me from life. It is called ‘Too Hot to Handle‘ and the concept is that young, hot, half naked horny men and women are sent to a tropical island resort together. The winner(s) win a potential $100k, however there is a twist. They are not allowed any sexual contact whatsoever, including no kissing. Each time one of them violates this rule the winning amount is debited an amount of cash depending on the severity of the violation. I think it is quite funny and I enjoyed it. It is the sort of show I let play in the background while I play games as it is hardly challenging to follow the plot. I finished it over the weekend. I give it 4 Kitten Stars just for amusement value. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I spotted my drumstick which has been sitting half finished for months and months. I have been using a wooden Zulu drumstick which is too hard for my drum. I decided I would start on the stitching and try to get it all finished and I succeeded. I think it looks so lovely, I am very happy with it.
I cooked dinner while Norm walked the dogs round and round the garden like teddy bears. I decided on chicken as we had prosciutto left over from the pack of meats we used on the pizza and I wanted to use it up. I roasted sweet potato, butternut and pumpkin chunks in coconut oil and steamed mixed veg (baby corn, green beans, zucchini and baby broccoli).
Norm keeps saying he will continue to support this restaurant during the lockdown as if he has any choice! At least he shows appreciation as he knows I am not terribly fond of cooking, I am just fond of eating good food!
We felt like a bit of a break from television so after dinner we decided to play scrabble.
Lola kitty felt like she needed to be involved and kept trying to knock over my letters or to steal them from the box.
This week we heard the usual bullshit from Trump. He has said that the president of the US has ‘absolute power‘ and he has the only say about whether the states stop their lockdown. He has obviously never read the Constitution and certainly does not understand how anything works. He wishes he was a King or a dictator. Of course in typical Trump fashion he retracted this statement and tried to imply he just meant that the Governors and he would collectively make these decisions. Sometimes I think he is a bit like a chimp who just throws shit out there to see what sticks.
Trump has also threatened to withdraw funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO) because they dared to insinuate that he was responsible for the high number of deaths in the US.
“Mr Trump has been under fire for his own handling of the pandemic. He has sought to deflect persistent criticism that he acted too slowly to stop the virus’s spread by pointing to his decision in late January to place restrictions on travel from China. He has accused the WHO of having “criticised” that decision and of being biased towards China more generally.”
Ironic considering the stats from the US. On Wednesday, just after he made this statement the number of cases was 614,246 and the number of deaths was 26,064. Today the US stats are 738,923 positive cases and 39,015 deaths. Does that sound like he is in control or managing this effectively? Hell to the no.
On Tuesday the Imbecile in Chief said “I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,”
Deflect and disassociate is his usual approach. He is like a child who takes his ball away if other kids don’t always let him win. He always manages to convince his devotees that he is a victim of someone else’s feck up. Unfortunately they still believe him which is just unfathomable to me.
But there you go.
He is not the only one spreading bullshit and lies. I have had to leave a drumming event WhatsApp group this week as it turned into a free for all constant spread of nonsense. I enjoy the events they hold at the venue but can’t listen to the spewing of information with no basis in science. I also had one of my oldest friends delete and block both Norman and I because we refuse to co-sign her theories on 5G. I cannot believe that her need to be right was more important than our friendship, but that is obviously how little she values our relationship and it makes me sad.
This week Norm and I have just started watching a new series on Netflix called ‘The Innocence Files‘. Everyone should watch this so I am giving it 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This series is so hard to watch because of the unjust treatment of the people the show is focused on. It enrages me. I can only manage an episode a night so we are only four eps in. It is so heartbreaking to think of these people who have lost so many years of their lives due to bad science. lies or racism which led to convictions for crimes they did not commit. The fat, racist, obnoxious forensic dentist Michael West made me want to chuck something at the telly.
Levon Brooks, one of the men convicted purely on West’s erroneous bite mark testimony was sent to The Mississippi State Penitentiary which was also known as Parchman Farm, a notorious prison in Mississippi. I found this article about the history of the prison and have included a summary of the info below.
The origins of Parchman Farm reach back to the fall of the Confederacy. In 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, and from one day to the next, the population of free blacks in Mississippi nearly doubled. “The plantation owners, as best they could, wanted blacks to return to the same place as they had been as slaves,” said historian David Oshinsky, whose book “Worse Than Slavery” details the creation of Parchman. There was one exception in the 13th Amendment that gave plantation owners an opening: The protection against enslavement didn’t extend to convicted criminals.
It took the Mississippi Legislature less than a year to pass a series of laws designed to subjugate African-Americans anew. Known collectively as the Black Codes of 1865, the laws used an expansive definition of vagrancy to criminalize all types of people: beggars, jugglers, drunkards, night-walkers and “all other idle and disorderly persons” who neglected their work or misspent their money. The Black Codes made it easy to run afoul of the law, and law enforcement used them to systematically arrest African-Americans. Before long, the population of black lawbreakers in Mississippi surged.
But there was no prison system to accommodate it. The state penitentiary in Jackson had been torched by Union troops in 1863, and it had only really housed white prisoners anyway — black slaves had been disciplined on the plantation by their masters. “No time … to stay in jail; they had to work,” one freedman explained at the time, according to Oshinsky.
In post-emancipation, pre-Parchman Mississippi, the state needed a way to contain its new convicts. So it started leasing them out as laborers to plantation owners, railroad builders, lumber titans and the like. In exchange, these private companies paid a small fee to the state and covered the convicts’ cost of living.
“The best workforce and the cheapest workforce they could get were convicts who were being arrested for largely minor offenses and then leased out for $9 a month.”
The convicts were kept in horrible conditions. Their leaseholders could treat them even worse than slaves because they cost less to replace. They underfed them, left them to sleep outside while chained together and forced them to work endlessly long days. If a convict escaped or died — and they did — another one was sent in. This cheap and inexhaustible labor supply became a major profit-driver for big businesses. Soon, the state of Mississippi decided to get in on the action.
“There were two reasons for Parchman,” Oshinsky said “One was money-making and the other was racial control. They went hand in hand.”
The prisoners were used to do manual labour around the grounds, picking cotton and other crops and being whipped if they did not work fast enough to appease the guards.
With the passage of a state prison reform bill in 1964 the use of the whip was outlawed. It is unbelievable that the treatment of blacks was still so horrific within my lifetime. Most of us have no idea what racial inequality is like. The same as most of us have no comprehension of true hunger. We all casually say ‘I’m starving’ when we have already had a meal that day when some people may not have a proper nutritious meal for several days.
After my divorce I was really struggling financially. I worked as a waitress and if the kitchen did not feed me I often did not have much food but I always had at least one meal a day. This situation taught me to be creative with basic food items and to stretch a bit of food as far as possible. However I have never experienced the hunger that the truly destitute endure.
Please stay indoors and self isolate if you are able to do so. If you have to go out please wear a mask and make sure you wash yourself and your purchases carefully once home.
As always, I wish you all good health and I wish you enough. I wish you gratitude for all that you do have. I am grateful for my job, for my children, for my mother, for my wonderful husband, for my family in the US, for our friends, for our home, for our animals and that we have enough food to stay sheltered in a place of comfort.
Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x0x