Last weekend was so lovely and full of family and laughter. Whenever our family are together we have such a laugh.
In my last blog I mentioned that we were having a family Zoom call for my son Trevor’s birthday. We often have a theme for our family calls and this one was ‘Beards’ seeing as my son has a beard. So we all planned to ‘beard up’ and when he logged on it would make him laugh.
My daughter Lily made her beard out of cardboard and it had 3 different sections to make it look full. I love the swirly design.
Caitlin had some wool she had no use for and she followed a tutorial on how to make it into a beard. It looked like a professionally made one and it even matched her hair so it looked quite legit! She looked like a cross between a pretty Charles Manson and a marauding Viking.
My children are so artistic and talented. They got that from their father, certainly not from me! I have good ideas but no execution skills. Luckily Norm is very talented and can usually carry off whatever I conceive.
My Mom ordered a beard from Amazon but it did not arrive in time for the call unfortunately. Norm and I had a dig through the dress up box and I found what must have been a Santa beard. That was good enough for me.
Norm made one out of cotton balls (my mom said he looked like a tampon box exploded on his face).
Then we had the clever idea to use one of our dress up wigs. He tied a string through a wig that was left over from the Quentin Tarantino themed Halloween party.
That one made us laugh so much we decided he had to wear it. We thought he also looked like a Viking and we looked for the Viking headdress to complete the look but someone must have borrowed it.
Norm, Mom, the girls and I all logged on a few minutes early so that we would be online when Trevor joined the call.
Trevor had a laugh when he saw us.
Norm changed to the tampon beard midway through the call.
During the call we all talked over each other and laughed ourselves silly as we always do. We eventually removed the beards as they were itchy. Lily’s made a good pope hat.
I love my crazy family so much and it gives my soul such a lift to be able to connect with them. I just wish that I could hug them. After lock down I think we will continue to have a monthly group call so we can all chat. It will be good for my Mom to have that regular connection.
We started the call at 6pm and I had cooked dinner beforehand so that we could eat after the call. I baked a pork fillet and mushrooms in teriyaki sauce. I roasted butternut in coconut oil. I wilted a bag of baby spinach and fried some green beans in butter and garlic. The pork was so tender and I loved the green beans cooked like that, they were still a tiny bit firm and had a lot of flavour. I am not keen on the way green beans are cooked where I grew up, people just boiled them all day and they were slimy and floppy. Yech.
I went to bed happy and fulfilled. Even waking up on the Monday was not too bad!
The dogs must have read that energy as they were in a jolly and playful mood. Navajo kept stealing Pixie’s ball and teasing her.
We were out of milk and Norm popped down to the shop to get milk and pastry for breakfast. He brought back some dental chews for the dogs. Navajo wolfed his down and then went for a gallop around the garden.
Panda hid under the bench so that Navajo could not nick his.
We were also almost out of food and I cooked our last meal prior to Norm’s next shopping expedition. I made a home made pizza sauce and we did our low carb high fat base. We layered my homemade sauce, artichoke hearts, green olives, mushrooms fried in garlic, mozzarella and topped it off with pancetta.
Norm did our weekly shop on Tuesday and took Navajo with him. I took advantage of the quiet and had a few TCs while they were gone.
Lola enjoyed not having to avoid attentions from Navajo and she kicked back in my throne.
Pixie kept her eyes trained directly on me just in case I went out too and abandoned her.
Once home he did his usual ritual to disinfect the fridge and freezer items and left the others in the garage for 24 hours.
The skies were starting to darken and it looked like a storm was brewing.
That night I invented a dish. We seemed to have an excess of fromage frais so I tried to create something that used it. I browned chicken breasts in butter, added them to a casserole dish, then topped them with sliced mushrooms and chopped broccoli. I mixed a container of single cream, a container of fromage frais, some chicken stock, garlic and lots of spices together and poured it over the chicken and vegetables. I roasted butternut in another pan and made some rice while it cooked. The cream and fromage frais mixture went a bit odd when it cooked and it did not look very appealing but it tasted divine!
Trump continued his approach of tweeting out lies and nonsense to appeal to his delusional right wing base. On Tuesday he tweeted about the 75 year old man who was pushed over and badly injured by the Buffalo police force and accused the victim of being a member of Antifa. (I wrote about this incident in my last blog). It made me so angry that I could not keep quiet. Here is the LINK to the actual tweet but I grabbed a screenshot below.
He sickens me with his complete lack of empathy or concern for anyone except himself.
I decided to treat myself to some new mugs from Hallo Jane to cheer myself up over all of the stress going on. Their slogans reflect my general philosophy in life.
Hallo Jane have some lovely items ranging from mugs to jewelry. They are even selling PPE so I bought a mask with maps of Africa on it. If I get lost due to carbon dioxide poisoning dizziness acquired from wearing said mask they will know where to take me. Like an oxygen starved Paddington Bear.
I like to buy gifts from Hallo Jane as they are unique and the company is owned by a lovely friend of mine. When I shopped they had a special on and if you bought any PPE gear you got 20% off of your other items so it was a tidy savings for me as I bought quite a few bits and pieces. I have even bought my first Christmas gifts for a few family members. I would love it if you support them, it is a trying time for many businesses.
On Tuesday night just as we were going to bed the skies opened and we heard a severe storm raging. We woke to a happy green garden, brimming pool and a drenched patio. As you can see we have a pipe linked to the drain pipe off of the roof and it directs the rain water to our pool. We have not had to fill it at all this year with municipal water. You would be amazed at how much water you can collect from your roof.
I want to install a full grey water system with storage tanks so that we can collect water for when it is dry and run our sprinkler system off of that. That requires getting in a company to QA the sprinkler system and fix the issues we have as it has not been used in years since the drought hit.
That night I cooked pork chops for dinner. I felt like some BBQ so I mixed mustard, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy and honey together and poured it on the chops. I roasted the rest of the butternut from the previous night in coconut oil and I also threw in a packet of mushrooms to the roasting pan. I cooked red cabbage and used the left over chicken stock to parboil it before frying it off with a dash of balsamic and a spoon of butter.
The weather continued all Wednesday and into the weekend, with a few rays of sun alternating with intermittent howling wind and pounding heavy rain. It even hailed on the other side of the bay.
The cats were going a bit stir crazy being trapped inside.
In the midst of this cold and miserable weather we received notification via our safety alert app that there were protests going on in our village. The South African Police Services Public Order Police Unit were demolishing unoccupied and incomplete structures in Hangberg, an area just on the other side of the valley from where we live. I am sure you can understand the frustration that this was going on during the pandemic and on a day when the weather was so horrid.
The timing could not be more inhumane. Rubber bullets and teargas were used less than a week after our president announced an anti police brutality campaign.The government had also stated that no evictions could occur during the lockdown.
Words with little to back them up it seems.
The government said that there was no one living in the incomplete structures which were knocked down but the people who were there when it happened said that there were various belongings strewn about. Of course that could be a play on words by the government, implying that temporary housing does not count as a home, however in the absence of the long promised permanent housing being built by the government, those people with no job or money have to make do with shacks and other temporary accommodation.
It was so cold that day that I built a big fire when I finished with work. The animals were obviously feeling the cold as well. They kept all coming up for a cuddle once I sat down in front of the fire. This is the equivalent of one of those animal cams in the woods that capture shots of the same spot throughout the course of an evening. Instead of bears and wolves I had Pomeranians and kitty cats in the Lisa cam.
For dinner I cooked a hearty meal. It was too cold to stand in the kitchen so I decided to bake as much as I could. I popped chicken, feta and spinach sausages in a pan and sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet. I steamed broccoli and cauliflower and warmed the left over red cabbage from the previous night. Just before it was all done I fried some onions to go with the sausages.
We ate snuggled up in blankets, surrounded by the animals in front of the roaring fire.
Friday I was granted access to connect to the new client’s database and I spent all day creating the SQL jobs to do data profiling. My laptop is now 6 years old and is straddling 2 different versions and it is so slow. I decided that as my job is computer based that I should invest in a new laptop. It is not a luxury item, it is a requirement. So I found a previous demo model on sale with 3 years of support, Windows Pro and a high spec and ordered it yesterday. It is a bit of a beast and due to being a demo was about half price. Hopefully I will make much quicker progress on my technical tasks. I cannot wait for it to arrive!
That night I made a lasagna sauce for Saturday’s dinner and we had take aways for our dinner on Friday. I had sushi from K1 and this time there were no dramas at collection. I told Norm to ask for Lisa OR Norman as I could not remember which name I gave. Oops.
I had prawn roses, salmon roses, cucumber roses with prawn and some tempura prawns. It was all delicious. My only complaint was that they used the ‘skin’ of the cucumber which to me is a no-no. It is not pliable enough to stay wrapped around the sushi. But I just used my fingers to hold it together and shoved it in my gob. #JobDone
On Saturday afternoon I finished off the lasagna by layering the sauce, noodles, ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella. I baked it til it was a lovely golden brown. It was really delicious and there is enough for our dinner tonight as well.
Norm and I have now finished ‘The Colony‘ which I blogged about previously. I have rated it 4 Kitten Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Norm is so sad it is finished as he really loved this show (despite continually calling it ‘The Convoy’).
We started a new series called ‘Taken‘ on Amazon Prime. It starts out with a bang and gets you interested right from the very start of the first episode so pay attention.
It is about a former Green Beret called Bryan, who is played by Clive Standen. He suffers a tragedy in the first few moments which then pushes him to retaliate against the people who were behind that tragedy.
Clive also starred in Vikings but we have not watched that series yet. He is handsome and manly but not so pretty that he will put off the male viewers. The constant shooting, stabbing and killing will keep the bloke’s interest.
I had my long straight hair permed and cut up many of my t-shirts and sweat suit tops so that I would look like her. I do not have many pics from then. This is a pic of my friend Peggy and I in Atlanta when I was in that phase. We had just bought those T shirts and we immediately cut off the sleeves, cut the hem off to show our bellies and cut out the necks to make them hang off our shoulders.
Yesterday Norm and I had a long lie in bed and Norm only got up at 10am when the dogs became quite vocal about being hungry (and Panda would not stop humping my leg as a sign of protest). Norm brought me a coffee in bed and I cuddled with the kitties for a bit. I decided it was a good day for a bit of self care and so I gave myself a manicure and a pedicure. I am not polishing my nails during lockdown and they are so healthy! I showered and exfoliated and put a leave in deep conditioning mask on my hair. I then went down to do a bit of gardening but I cut my finger quite badly that morning and decided it might not be a good idea to stick my gaping wound into compost. Instead I worked on my blog and researched laptops to buy while Norm watched Game of Thrones and then made brunch for us.
That afternoon Norman and I watched the documentary ‘13TH‘ on Netflix. The title is reference to the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which was passed by Congress in 1865.
The 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”. And therein lies the loophole. I touched on this issue in a previous blog, that after the Civil War ended, blacks were arrested for any minor infraction in order to be incarcerated as that meant that the white southern plantation owners could go back to exploiting them and using them as cheap labour to get their economy back on track after the financial devastation of the Civil War. This was also the start of corporations profiting from incarceration, which is still big business today.
This song is called ‘Breaking Rocks’ or ‘The Work Song’ and is sung by Nina Simone. The lyrics were written by Oscar Brown Jr. It is about the high numbers of black men who were used as slave labour to build the American railways. Many of these men died due to mistreatment, poor working conditions or non-existent safety regulations.
The 13th amendment is unfortunately resulting in many people’s rights to be suppressed as you cannot vote if you have a criminal record. Even after your time is served, you are still paying a price by having your rights restricted.
It has been proven that black or Latino men are far more likely to be incarcerated than white men.
Studies have also shown that black men are more likely to be stopped by police in the first place.
There is so much generational trauma among African Americans from these past sins against their ancestors. These traumas started with their ancestors being forcefully removed from their homelands and required to do the bidding of people from another country who spoke another language and had a different set of rules to abide by in order to just survive. Unfortunately many of these sins and traumas carry on today in various ways.
In 1915 the film ‘The Birth of a Nation‘ was released (originally called ‘The Clansman”). It was a silent movie and the first Hollywood blockbuster. It glorified the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and vilified black men as dangerous rapists hell bent on destroying the virtue of white women.
The film was loosely based on truth, it portrayed the assassination of President Lincoln and centered on the relationship of two families: the pro-Union (Northern) Stonemans and the pro-Confederacy (Southern) Camerons. It is set in the Civil War and Reconstruction eras and follows these families over the course of several years. The KKK was seen as the defender and protector of white people and the persecutors of black who were deemed to be criminals. There was no need to bother with a trial when the KKK could just sort it all out based on the word of a white person.
The KKK had a resurgence and an influx of new members as a result of this film and I can only imagine the impact it had on black men.
Unfortunately the racial stereotypes which were propagated around the time have remained.
There was minimal improvement in the rights of most blacks until the implementation of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 but even then it was slow to result in many changes. The Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. Many of the southern states in particular resisted this change.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that was implemented to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by U.S President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965, during the height of the civil rights movement and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.
Unless of course you have a criminal record.
Many of the people who are decrying the current protesting are saying that protests have no effect, however the current protests have resulted in the charges against the policemen who murdered Floyd to be increased, and they have led to the implementation of the Breonna Taylor Law.
The Civil Rights Movement was the impetus behind many changes in the US legislature. Everyone knows who Martin Luther King was and what he achieved. White people even throw him up as an example of peaceful protesting.
King emphasised non-violence because if blacks had responded to the hate and tried to defend themselves, that would have brought the police department down on those demonstrators and whites would have loved to have the chance to kill black people indiscriminately.
In direct contrast to the approach of Dr King was Malcolm X who was the spokesman for the Nation of Islam (NOI), the black Muslim movement which violently rejected white America and its Christian values, and preached the supremacy of blacks over whites.
Despite their diverging beliefs both of them had a vision of change, and both of them were assassinated, most likely in an attempt to stop that change progressing.
I found 13TH to be so informative about the history of racism and the methods of suppression of blacks in the US. It discussed the mass incarceration that began in the 1970’s and the fact that if a white man was caught with cocaine he received a slap on the wrist, but if a poor black man was caught with crack then he got a long sentence.
It discussed the aversions that Nixon had to Human Rights: LGBTQ rights, Women’s rights, Civil rights and his campaign of a ‘Total War’ on drugs. The story began to be propagated that drug dependency was a crime and not an illness and that it should result in jail time, not treatment. The prisons filled up even more with blacks.
The USA has such a long horrific history of subjugation of everyone except the rich white male.
I try to tell myself that the people who are being triggered by the Black Lives Matter protests are just uneducated about these issues but I actually think that at the root of that feeling of anger is a deep unconscious bias and endemic feeling that they are better than others. These issues have never affected them directly and therefore they must not exist. But then I see many South Africans posting about the farm murders in South Africa and those also do not directly affect them, other than to instill fear and otherism. Why take up the battle cry of one party and not the other?
Sometimes if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it is a duck. Simple as that. If these ducks refuse to educate themselves and change their perspectives on the rights of others then we swans just have to swim away and leave them in our wake.
Now for the weekly stats on the progress of the pandemic in South Africa. There have been 1,087,887 people tested. The death rate has now shot up to just under 1,500.
We have now been self isolating for almost 3 months. That seems so surreal when you think about it! A quarter of a year spent with minimal contact with other humans? Some people are isolating alone and I feel for them so, I would find that very difficult. I am glad to have my rock (aka the Normster) here with me for however long it may go on.
I will leave you with my feel good discovery for this week. It is a dance video by members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater group. The dancers perform an excerpt of Rennie Harris’ “Lazarus”.
Alvin Ailey founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958 to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. He established the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (now The Ailey School) in 1969 and formed the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (now Ailey II) in 1974. Mr. Ailey was a pioneer of programs promoting arts in education, particularly those benefiting underserved communities.
The mission of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is to further the pioneering vision of the choreographer, dancer, and cultural leader Alvin Ailey by building an extended cultural community which provides dance performances, training and education, and community programs for all people. This performing arts community plays a crucial social role, using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds. You can subscribe to receive notifications of their videos on their site.
We have a public holiday in South Africa on Tuesday so I am looking forward to a day of not having to work. It is Youth Day. Youth Day commemorates the Soweto youth uprising of 16 June 1976. Here is a LINK if you would like to read about the Soweto Youth uprising, another protest against repression which led to change.
As always, stay safe, stay inside if you can and if not, wear a mask and apply social distancing.
Until next time, socially distanced Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox