A Decent Man

We had beautiful weather last weekend and it continued throughout the week. South African winters are the best, we usually have sunny bright days and cool evenings. The mornings are often misty or cloudy but it usually burns off leaving us with bright blue skies. Regardless of the weather, it is always beautiful.

Lola follows the sun around the garden to lie in the sunbeams. She often spends her morning in my throne.

The cold nights and dampness in the air seemed to badly effect Navajo last weekend. He was struggling to get up and walk and really struggled with going up the stairs so I gave him a few doses of CBD at night which knocked him out and that relaxed his back spasms but he is still not 100%. The root of the issue is the ankle injury he had years ago. When it is sore he won’t put pressure on it, so he uses his front legs to lift his whole body up which puts strain on his back and shoulder area which then goes into spasm.

I decided to book him in to see the amazing doggy physiotherapist who worked such miracles with Panda when he was paralysed from acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis. She is so booked up that she cannot fit him in until the 6th of August but I hope she can help him. It breaks my heart to see him in pain. Our friend Michelle is going to take him there and bring him back as I am still isolating and Norm is so busy that he cannot take time off. Michelle is such a blessing.

On Sunday night we received a security alert that there were to be protests on Monday and that we should avoid the motorways.

We then awoke to widespread protests on Monday morning, with major highways impacted by demonstrations orchestrated, primarily, by the Cape Coloured People’s Congress; better known as the ‘Gatvol Capetonian’ movement. The police were put onto high alert.

The protest was about lack of jobs, food, and homes as well as gangsterism, and issues with service delivery in the areas which are predominately occupied by the coloured community.

At least five people were arrested in Bishop Lavis following incidents of burning tyres and barricading of roads. The flow of early morning traffic was disrupted across the city as people staged demonstrations to voice their concerns.

Cape Town shutdown gatvol protests

The leader of the movement Fadiel Adams said, “Every one of our areas that have turned out this morning, in spite of severe provocation and intimidation by SAPS, it has been very peaceful and I am very proud of that. From what I understand, with the volatility in our areas, things may happen but that has nothing to do with us. My members have conducted themselves with the utmost respect for the law.”

National Spokesperson for Gatvol Capetonian, Fadiel Adams. (Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)/Wikipedia) 

We saw this video posted of the police being attacked in Atlantis, a suburb in Cape Town.

The government cares nothing for the plight of their constituents and I am sure their complaints fell on deaf ears.

Just a note for any non-South Africans, the term ‘coloured’ is not the same as it is in the rest of the world. This term does not mean ‘black’ and is not derogatory. It is a neutral description in South Africa, generally classifying people of mixed race ancestry. Ancestry may include European colonizers, indigenous Khoisan and Xhosa people, and slaves imported from the Dutch East Indies. People from India were also taken to the Cape and sold into slavery by the Dutch settlers. Slaves of Malay and other ancestry were brought from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, and Mozambique. This diverse assortment of people were subsequently classified as a single group under the Apartheid regime.

The subject I researched this week for my studies on the history of racism in the US is the “Three-Fifths Compromise”.

A contentious issue at the 1787 Constitutional Convention was whether slaves would be counted as part of the population in determining representation of the states in the Congress or would instead be considered property and, as such, not be considered for purposes of representation. Delegates from states with a large population of slaves argued that slaves should be considered persons in determining representation, but as property if the new government were to levy taxes on the states on the basis of population. Delegates from states where slavery had become rare argued that slaves should be included in taxation, but not in determining representation, that only the free population should count.

Eventually, the delegates from the Northern and the Southern states agreed on a compromise that called for representation in the House of Representatives to be apportioned on the basis of a state’s free population plus three-fifths of its enslaved population.

This agreement was called the ‘Three-fifths compromise“. It was an agreement to count three out of every five slaves as people for this purpose. Its effect was to give the Southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free people had been counted equally.

Basically they dehumanized the slaves and decided that they were not equal to the whites in worth. Unfortunately, so many racists still feel this way and the rise of far right groups and Neo-Nazism has normalised these feelings and allowed people to be free to express these toxic opinions. I sometimes feel like the world is moving backwards instead of progressing.

We watched a few new series this week. One was a thriller called ‘The Fall‘ with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. The series stars Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and features Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector. I love Gillian Anderson and Jamie is pretty nice to look at. The series is set in Belfast and regular readers know I love Belfast so this one is a winner all around! Jamie is actually from Northern Ireland so the accent would have been easy for him. We only have series 1 but we want to download the other 2 series. I give this series 5 Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

We watched a short series called “Love on the Spectrum” which is about young people who are on the autism spectrum and who are trying to find a partner. There were also a few couples on the show who have already found partners and the show discussed what their relationships are like. It is a fly on the wall sort of documentary interspersed with interviews of individual people.

The thing I noticed is that those ‘kids’ who were part of a large family seemed to be the best at coping with their ‘disability’. (I consider them ‘kids’ even though one of the men was 27 because they are all younger than my own children.) The young people from larger families were treated the same as the other kids in the family and their families gave them support to cope with the challenges each of them have. Their families would often rehearse various interactions to help them get comfortable with the situations. They often expressed a need to be ‘prepared’ as many people on the spectrum do not cope very well with change or surprises. Many of the people on the show also struggled with conversation and communication, but then so do I! I am rubbish at small talk, that is why I never make phone calls. I always fret over whether I am interrupting something, or whether someone wants to talk to me at all, or am I delaying them from something important? And how do you know when to hang up? I am also not good in crowds or coping with noise.

There was a bit of unsuccessful match-making done via various social groups for people with disabilities and several of these resulted in dates. Unfortunately none of these couples made it past one or two dates.

I loved the relationships between the two couples who were on the show. They had both found what appeared to be their perfect mates. Both members of the couple were on the spectrum to varying degrees and therefore were able to understand the behaviour and thoughts of their partner and help them push past their challenges.

I found it interesting that until relatively recently the tests for autism were all geared towards boys and that many girls and women went undiagnosed because the tests were not identifying their ‘quirks’ and characteristics as autism. Many of the traits in females on the spectrum could be and were misinterpreted as OCD.

The show was both sad and uplifting and helped me understand some of the challenges that people with disabilities face in trying to find love. It is hard enough to find a partner who is compatible with your quirks when you do not have any of these challenges, much less with these additional hurdles. I loved this series and I give it 5 Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The other series we just finished was the story of Oscar Pistorius, aka The Blade Runner. ‘Pistorius‘ is a four-part feature documentary about the South African Paralympic and Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.

The first episode takes you from Oscar’s birth up until he competed in the 2012 Olympics. It takes you through his challenges to compete against ‘able-bodied’ athletes and not only be eligible for the Paralympics. The show creates sympathy for him and his challenges and the only glimpse you see into the toxins he carries is when he showed bad sportsmanship after he lost to another blade runner. “Don’t focus on the disability,” Oscar Pistorius told the world before the games. “Focus on the ability.”  However Oscar was beaten to the line by Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira. Pistorius was .07sec behind him and he reacted furiously, telling the TV cameras in his post-race interview that “we aren’t racing a fair race”.

Pistorius was convinced that the running blades Oliveira was using were too long, and called for the International Paralympic Committee to investigate. This from a man who has had to fight to overturn doubts about whether or not he himself had an unfair advantage when he was competing against non-disabled runners.

The series led you to think he was a possessive and controlling boyfriend and that he was quick to anger and slow to accept responsibility. My own opinion on what happened that night is that Reeva had upset Oscar, they had a fight and he deliberately shot her out of anger.

The series took you through the trial and conviction. While watching I was just as annoyed at the initial sentence of 5 years as I was when it happened. I still think he got off lightly due to the judge feeling sympathy for his disability.

Norman had met Oscar and he said that he was so surprised that Oscar had killed Reeva as Oscar seemed ‘like a very nice guy’.

And therein lies the issue behind domestic abuse. The men are often perceived by people outside of their home as ‘very nice guys’. Narcissists and men who dominate and abuse are quite often very charismatic and are able to separate out these different personas, one for home and one for the public. It is called ‘doubling’.

This concept was beautifully summed up and explained in the speech that U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently gave in the House after Rep. Ted Yoho had confronted Alexandra on a staircase in the Capitol, calling her “disgusting” for her comments linking poverty and crime. As she walked away from this confrontation, Yoho had said AOC was “crazy, out of her mind,” even “dangerous” and then according to The Hill Yoho called her a ‘”f—— b—-“.  I am sure Yoho would have behaved differently with a man and in fact probably does not have the balls to even confront a man.

Abusive men have certain phrases which are used to belittle or gaslight women, such as calling us ‘girls’ or labeling us as ‘crazy’, ‘hysterical’, ‘insane’ ‘aggressive’, ‘shrill’ or other words which are meant to denigrate us as women.

Yoho denied he had targeted the profane remarks at Ocasio-Cortez and took to the floor to deliver a non-apology, saying:  “Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of my language. The offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding” insisting that his words merely reflected his “passion” on the issue of poverty in America.

His response was similar to those given by abusers after they commit domestic violence and then try to blame that abuse on their love for the abused party.

His words were not an apology, this was him saying ‘you misunderstood me and I am sorry about your misunderstanding’ not ‘I am sorry for the words I spoke’.

AOC responded by saying that Yoho was “refusing responsibility” and criticized him for not naming her directly, as well as his characterization of the exchange as a “conversation” instead of “verbal assault.” 

So basically, Yoho moved from gender based verbal abuse to gaslighting.

AOC then took to the floor the following day to respond to Yoho’s non-apology. saying that his language was “dehumanizing” and she criticized his apology as using “women, wives, and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”

She went on to say “what I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote. He apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.”

AOC pointed out that this type of behavior should never be normalized. She reminded us that nobody should ever find this language acceptable to use in any circumstance. AOC is a brave and brilliant woman and an exceptional orator, I have such respect for her.

I cooked all week. Last Sunday I had heated the last of the leftover chili and made chips in the air fryer, grated some cheese and made chili cheese fries which were delicious! Monday was just fish and chips from the freezer as we were out of most items. Norm shopped on Tuesday so I had a full fridge and pantry. I decided to cook chicken breasts and I made up a dish. I wilted a bag of baby spinach, layered it in the bottom of a baking dish, sliced mushrooms and the chicken breasts and added those to the dish. I mixed a box of organic chicken stock and half a container of cream with garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika and poured it over the pan and baked it.

I steamed baby broccoli and gemsquash to go with it and I made some rice to serve it over. The sauce went a bit weird but it tasted delicious and did not kill us so it worked out alright!

Wednesday I cooked chicken sausages. I was feeling too lazy to stand at the stove turning them so I decided to cook them in the oven. I added them to a pan with a packet of mushrooms and topped it all with sliced yellow peppers and added some knobs of butter. I roasted sweet potato slices in coconut oil and I boiled the remaining gemsquash halves and made cole slaw. I do not know why but sausages and peppers are a gorgeous combo and even better when baked than fried. Why is that?

It was quite cool on Wednesday evening so I built a big fire and we had dinner by the fire and the animals all settled in nearby. I am under those cats! Panda was lying on my other side but I could only fit so many beasties in on one pic.

On Thursday I had minced beef and a pork fillet that both needed to be cooked as their use by date was the day before and I do not want to sick with all of the hospitals being full of people with the virus.

I made a bolognese sauce from the mince and I cooked the pork for that night’s supper. I cooked it in the roasting pan with the pumpkin but I gave it a head start of 15 minutes in the pan on its own. I then added the pumpkin which I had coated in maple syrup and I drizzled a bit of the maple syrup on the pork. It made the pumpkin lovely and sticky. I steamed a head of cauliflower and grated cheese to sprinkle over it. It was yummy!

On Friday we had the bolognese sauce I had made the previous evening and served it over pasta. Norm had bought some cheesy bread sticks to go with it so we were set for an easy dinner.

This morning we slept as long as the dogs would allow and then Norm brought me a frothy coffee in bed. I had an online drumming session planned and I got dressed and ready to drum.

I burned white sage to smudge myself, my drum and my laptop.

There were only 4 of us who drummed: Gerri & her daughter Jess were hosting and Claudia and I joined in from our homes.

I felt so energised afterwards. I always find drumming so uplifting and I really miss being able to attend in person and gather around the communal drum but an online session is better than no session at all!

And with that, we have another week of isolation under our belts. If I have counted correctly it is my 19th to 20th week in isolation. The total of people who have been tested in South Africa is 2,959,535 and the stats are below.

South Africa is at 5th in the world for the total number of cases.

However we drop to 36th in the world for deaths per 1 million people. Let’s hope our death rates continue to stay down.

Finally, for a bit of culture and beauty I have included the video of Sierra Boggess, Lea Salonga, Julian Ovenden and Gerónimo Rauch who have teamed up for a virtual performance of ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables.

I hope you all stay safe and that you have all that you need. I am still counting my blessings, that both Norm and I are able to work from home, that we are healthy, my children and mother are healthy and that I have a wonderful family. I have an amazing husband who is my staunchest supporter, who looks after me and loves me. We are quite happy in our little bubble of isolation, I do miss hanging out with my kids and friends, but for now our safety must come first.

Please look out for your friends who are isolating on their own.

Until next time, socially distant Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x

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