It appears that some warmth is finally starting to find its way through all of the damp and cold we have been having. Spring in South Africa starts in September and usually the temperatures rise over the season and the rains decrease, but everything seems to be lagging behind this year. I am cautiously optimistic that we are now going to get some warmer sunnier days and hope that the evenings will not be so bitterly cold. It was stunning all week until Friday when we woke to cold weather again and it poured with rain at midday and rained intermittently all evening.
Lola insisted on snuggling because she was cold. It makes it very awkward to type with a cat clinging to you.
All of last weekend was busy with the builders who were redoing the garage roof. After our early morning awakening on Saturday they arrived again on Sunday very early and worked most of the day but the work is mostly finished other than a few last bits which they are finishing off tomorrow.
After the builders left last Saturday I did a bit of pottering about in the garden. I planted a few different succulents in the pot that arrived from Hello Indigo Halo. I wanted a plant with a bit of height and used a hanging one which had a broken hanger as the centre piece. I want it to eventually have some bits cascading over the edges like hair so I took some clippings from various other pots and put those around the edges. There are 4 different succulents in the pot so let’s hope they all take root and grow.
It looks great with the other planters but I am definitely running out of porch space! We have such strong winds here that I am limited as to where I can put them without them getting knocked about.
I think I have an addiction as I ordered another planter which arrived on Friday. In addition to the planter I also ordered a stained glass butterfly as I love things with wings. It has a long crystal hanging below it but a short hanger so I am not sure where I will put it yet.
Last weekend was stunning with warm clear skies. We even had musical entertainment from the neighbours.
We decided to get take out on Saturday night and I chose sushi as it was so warm outside. It was a good choice as the sushi was gorgeous. I had my usual, salmon roses, prawn roses and cucumber roses topped with prawn. Now that we are back to low carb I will have to rethink what I have if we get take aways.
Norm and I decided to watch a movie and we chose Enola Holmes on Netflix.
I had not read anything about it, it just came up as a recommendation. I really enjoyed this film. I would have loved it to be a series as there are endless stories they could write about Enola’s adventures and life. Enola is Sherlock’s baby sister and is played by the stunning Millie Bobby Brown previously of ‘Stranger Things‘. Her brother Sherlock is played by the delectable Henry Cavill and her mother is played by quirky Helena Bonham Carter. Enola’s love interest is played by young actor Louis Partridge who plays The Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether. Hopefully there may be another film (or series) about their lives together.
The basic premise of the film is that Enola’s mother disappears and Enola sets off on an adventure to find her, meets up with Tewkesbury along the way and has to use her apparently genetic sleuthing skills to locate her mother. I give this film 5 Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
On Sunday after the builders left Norm had gone out and the doorbell rang. I had a pajama day of doing nothing but relaxing and playing games and was in my PJs and no bra. I tried to ask him who he was via the intercom as I could not see his face. He had on a mask so I could not hear him and I went to the steps and he waved a package at me (not HIS package cos that would just be rude). I shouted to him that I had on my PJs and he covered his eyes while I wobbled my way barefoot to the gate. I was not impressed that Norm forgot to tell me he was expecting the guy to pop in but we had a laugh about it once Norm got home.
I love murder and psychological thrillers and on Sunday I chose ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door‘. I had not read anything about this documentary and was completely unprepared for the feelings it would bring up in me.
As a domestic violence survivor this film broke me, especially as Chris Watts strangled his wife Shan’ann and that was my abuser’s go to move. I sobbed and cried and cried until I was almost physically ill, Norm had to hold me until I calmed down. It triggered me in so many ways. The documentary had so many videos of the baby girls, 4 year old Bella and 3 year old CeCe, so you grow to love their energy and personalities. Bella seemed like a very sweet shy little girl and CeCe was a bit of a dynamo and it was clear that they loved each other to bits. To think of how their father could strangle or smother these babies and then dump their little lifeless bodies into an oil tank and watch them sink is just incomprehensible. It will take me a while to recover from this one. I think it was so traumatic to watch that I do not recommend it to anyone so will not even rate it.
I then read a horrific story about Austin Stevens, a 29 year old father who battered and raped his 10 month old daughter both vaginally and anally and ignored her for over an hour while chatting to women on social media and googling how to tell if your baby is dead. Eventually he called 911 but baby Zara did not survive the sexual assault and blunt force trauma to the head and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Stevens also had access to 5 to 15 year old boys as he was an assistant coach for the Lower Providence Warriors youth football team and I hope that there are no other victims from his team.
As a child who was a victim of sexual abuse by a family friend this story also triggered me and made me feel so ill. The worst thing I experienced as a radiographer was being called to the morgue in the middle of the night to X-ray an 18 month old baby who had died after being gang raped by her mother’s boyfriend and his friends. I had nightmares for many years about that poor child and what she must have suffered.
There are so many children and women who suffer gender based violence globally that it fills me with despair that there are monsters like this walking among us. It can weigh me down so badly.
It has been a traumatic week for my emotions. Added to the above triggers was the upset when someone I thought was a friend deleted me on Facebook. We were ‘only’ Facebook friends but we chatted relatively often. She got upset because I asked her not to attack my real life friend whom I have known for about 45 years. My childhood friend and I are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but she keeps her opinions to her page and I keep mine to mine.
A friend from our village deleted and blocked me last week when I challenged her on a meme from Breitbart which she posted that says that ‘leftists’ have ‘warped politics’ and she said she totally supports this right wing fake news site. I guess the one good thing about Trump making racism acceptable is that it makes people feel free to show their true colours.
This sort of trauma and drama is why I always need to have something to watch on telly to bring me up or calm me down – innocent wholesome shows about ‘normal’ people. I was so sad this week when I finished the last season of ‘Heartland‘, it was my go to show to calm my soul. If you have not watched it I really recommend it, especially if you love horses as much as I do. I give Heartland 5 Kitten Stars and will miss it terribly. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I mentioned last week that Norm had to go for a check up in order to apply for his visa and he got the results of his blood work and medical exam back on the weekend. His cholesterol and his blood pressure are high and his sugar levels are pre-diabetic. As we have both put on so much weight during lockdown we have decided to take control of our health. I usually have chocolate every night so that is going to be a hard transition to give that up but I have been sweets free all week and even gave up sugar in my tea. Luckily I have banting chocolate ice cream and it has been warm enough to enjoy it this week so that helps.
We had no food in the house on Monday so we had to get a take out but we tried to keep it low carb. Norm went to Casareccio and got Trinchado (fillet steak in a spicy garlic sauce) and instead of chips he asked them for vegetables. He also ordered a Rucola salad which had rocket, spinach, parmesan and bacon bits. It was all delicious.
Norm popped out to do a shop on Tuesday so that we had some low carb options in the house and I cooked all week. We had fillet steak that night and I made a creamy mushroom and peppercorn sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and steamed baby broccoli and drizzled it with lemon. It was yummy and I did not miss my usual baked potato too much. And yes I am aware that red meat two nights in a row is not great for Norm’s cholesterol but let us attack one thing at a time.
For lunch the next day I used my leftover fillet steak in a delicious low carb salad. I added feta cheese, cheddar cheese, olives, lettuce, coriander, baby tomatoes, cucumber & chopped carrots. I added a small spoonful of blue cheese dressing.
On Wednesday I cooked chicken breasts wrapped in bacon. I started them out in a glass dish so that the bacon fat kept the chicken moist and then I moved them over to sit on a raised roasting pan to crisp up the bacon nicely. I roasted the remainder of the sweet potato chunks from the previous night in coconut oil. I sliced mushrooms and fried them in garlic, pepper and butter and once they were brown I added in washed baby spinach and wilted it then added in a big dollop of double cream to finish it off.
We each had a piece of chicken left over from the previous night and I again sliced it up and made a big salad and added the leftover meat to it for our lunch the next day. That is one of the benefits of working from home, it takes only a few minutes to make a healthy lunch. The key is keeping the fridge stocked with options.
On Thursday my Mom had to check into the hospital for a procedure. She has recurring issues with arrhythmia and her heart had to be ‘shocked’ back into rhythm. I always stress about her having anything like this done, especially because she is so fragile due to her osteoporosis but she was finished in the late afternoon and went for lunch with my Uncle Joe and then went home to rest. I was so worried about her and was so relieved she came through it all safe and sound. She is still tired but that is to be expected for someone who is almost 80! She is a tough little cookie.
That night I had beef mince to cook and I was craving Mexican food. I fried the mince then added taco seasoning, water, a tin of beans, tomato paste, garlic and a bit of chili and let it simmer. I sliced some onions and fried them in garlic and chili. I made a bed of a variety of lettuces and tomato and grated cheese and made some garlicky guacamole. Once the meat mixture had time to cook a bit I served it in the centre of the lettuce and topped it with grated cheddar and sour cream and the guacamole and onions. Other than the cheeky tin of beans it was all low carb, tasty and delicious.
That night the cats would not leave me alone to play my fashion game so I let them play their Mouse game. They could spend hours watching those mice.
Friday I cooked the last of everything in the fridge. As we are reducing carbs I did not use my usual honey and tomato sauce mixture on the pork chops, instead I smeared the chops with Dijon mustard and chopped garlic then drizzled teriyaki sauce over them. I parboiled the carrots then fried them off in butter to get a bit of colour, I fried chopped cabbage in butter and steamed a head of cauliflower.
It was so cold last night that I built a fire. The pets all took turns sitting with me or nearby. The cats were both lying on top of my legs.
The Covid Stats for South Africa are that 4,360,105 people have been tested with the following overall breakdown.
There is finally a bit of improvement in the count of total infections on a global scale. In comparison to the rest of the world, SA has now dropped a spot to 11th after sitting at 10th for many weeks.
On the global rank for total deaths per 1 million people, SA has now moved to 28th. We were at 26th last week and prior to that we spent two weeks at 28th and had been stuck at 27th place for several weeks before that. This is good news for SA as we are moving lower on the scale of total deaths. This is such a strange thing to celebrate!
The USA is first in overall number of deaths worldwide with 218,648 people having lost their lives. Despite having just 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. is also first in total infections with 7,894,478 million confirmed cases (nearly 21% of global cases).
The infected Trump has behaved in his usual careless manner and did a drive by one man parade to wave to his supporters, however he did so in the hermetically sealed presidential car which put the Secret Service who were with him at risk.
Later he checked himself out of the hospital despite warnings from his medical team that he may still be at risk. He then staged a photo op on the White House steps, then walked in without a mask, came back outside and did it again just to get better film footage. All of this while he is supposed to be quarantined.
He was obviously struggling to breath and is even a bit unsteady on his feet yet is still completely downplaying the risk of the virus.
There is resistance from the White House to admitting the true point in time when Trump was exposed and tested and to tracing the people he was in contact with. Now they will not admit when (or if) he has tested negative for the virus, yet there are rallies being planned.
On Thursday night, Trump said: “I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together.
“But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania, on the following night.”
This suits his narrative and his usual pattern of downplaying, ignoring or mocking the virus as well as everything from climate change to Russian interference in the American political process.
With at least 34 White House staffers “and other contacts” infected and at least two hospitalizations they are calling the White House a ‘Covid Hot Spot’ and the president himself a ‘super-spreader’ (the only time he will ever be ‘super’ at anything).
The week he tested positive the president went to Minnesota for a fundraiser in Shorewood and a rally in Duluth, there was a fundraiser on Sept. 25 at his Washington hotel, and on Sept. 26 a White House event to introduce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.
There has been a temporary shutdown of U.S. Senate floor activity after several members tested positive. And in a separate outbreak, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine after Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House senior advisers Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, and Nicholas Luna, personal assistant to the president are all infected. Three White House employees in the housekeeping department have also tested positive as have at least two White House press aides who work for McEnany.
This is in addition to at least three U.S. senators, Trump’s campaign manager, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has also been hospitalized.
How anyone can still see this idiot as the best leader for the USA is unfathomable to me. Trump has now refused to do a second debate after it was announced it would be virtual, he knows that means they can cut his mike when he is being a bully. If he is not in control he is not interested.
Finally, for my bit of art, I include 3 musical treats: 2 NPR Tiny Desk concerts from artists with very different styles and sounds as well as a video of unsigned artist Lanie Gardner singing Fleetwood Mac.
The first Tiny Desk concert is from the stunning LA born R&B singer Jhené Aiko. Her voice is as beautiful as the rest of her.
The second is from married couple Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. I have to confess I had never heard of either of them until the NPR newsletter arrived in my inbox. But I just love the sound of a violin (or a fiddle where I come from!).
Amanda is a member of the band The Highwaywomen which is an all female band honoring the historic all male country supergroup The Highwaymen which included Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
Jason is the lead singer with the band ‘The 400 Unit‘ and he has won 4 Grammy Awards.
The other singer is Lanie Gardner and the video appears to have been filmed in her bedroom but her voice is so stunning and is perfect for the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’. You can subscribe to her YouTube channel HERE to listen to her other songs.
That is all for this week. I hope you all manage to stay safe. If you can, stay at home. If you must go out please wear a mask and practice safe distancing.
Until next time, socially distant Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x