Soul Food

The last month has been the longest in years that I have gone without writing. I use writing as a way to process my thoughts and feelings and to put things in perspective, or just as a way to diarise my life. I enjoy it when my old blogs pop up as Facebook memories and I can review where I was the previous year. I have missed writing but I did not want writing to consume any of the time I had with my Mom in the USA and I made the decision I would only write once I was back home in SA. It was so lovely spending so much time with Mom.

Mom got us into social mode straight off of the shuttle as her friend Rebecca came with her to collect us. We went for breakfast at Cracker Barrell, a southern legacy. Rebecca is very crafty and talented and she made a stained glass image of Pixie and mailed it to us. Isn’t it gorgeous? I have hung it in my kitchen window.

Our trip was so relaxing. The explosion of the Omicron variant meant that we were happy to stay at home a lot of the time rather than risk my Mom getting sick. We went out for lunch or dinner occasionally and we did a bit of shopping but we always wore a mask and we sanitised constantly.

The brilliant thing about shopping in the USA is that you can do everything online and there are often such brilliant sales. You can order and it is delivered in a matter of days and if you need to return it you can do so easily and quickly with minimal hassle. Having a functioning postal system is something that most people take for granted. Ours is in crisis in SA, things never arrive due to either theft or incompetence.

As a result of being in a shopping haven, we arrived with 2 half full cases and came home with 6 suitcases packed to the brim! The girls got a huge amount of clothes and other items, the boys did not get as much but I am rubbish at guessing their sizes. I did pretty well other than a bulk pack of 6 Hanes white Tees which are too big for everyone. I guess they can be nightgowns for the girls, else we will just give them to our gardener.

I got up early every morning and would make a coffee and sit on my Mom’s back patio. I would say my morning gratitude prayers to my creator and listen to the birds. There was a little family of squirrels that lived just outside the tree line and I watched them scooting up and down the trees. It was very grounding and so peaceful.

We spent an afternoon at my cousin Susan’s house and Norm and I were finally able to meet my new ‘cousin’ (what do I call my cousin Susan’s daughter Tori’s baby?). Little Briggs is so adorable and he is incredibly clever for only 18 months. He is such a calm and happy baby and reflects the love that his mother, father and grandparents give him every day.

Christmas was hosted by my Mom’s brother Joe, my favourite uncle. We had prime rib and all of the usual southern side dishes and ended it all off with a gorgeous strawberry cake.

Joe always puts on an amazing spread and we all ate until we could barely walk.

There were 9 of us for dinner and then my cousins and their family arrived to visit with us. It was great to see my 89 year old Uncle Harley who was there for dinner. He is living in an assisted living home as he is unable to look after himself now. We got to meet my cousin Zach’s new girlfriend Hailey. She is a lovely girl and seems like she can handle her own with our crazy family.

We also got a few doses of the types of food I miss in SA. We had plenty of Mexican meals and lots of good old southern BBQ. The best BBQ in my opinion was from Mission BBQ. The portions were huge, the meat was perfectly cooked and the fries were crispy. Delicious.

We met my uncle Joe for Mexican food at Amigos at Island Cove by the lake.

We also met up with my friend and pseudo-sister Raven and her husband Whitney for Mexican food at Vallarta. I love Raven to bits, she is such a lovely person and she is always so kind to my Mom. It was the first time I met Whitney and he is a calm quiet guy. He and Norm could not get a word in with me and Raven and Mom chattering on. We had a lot of laughs.

I thought that Vallarta had the best Mexican food of any of the places we ate. I had a combo meal with a taco, enchilada and a burrito.

As good as my own dinner was, I coveted Raven’s dinner choice of steak street tacos. They looked fabulous.

We went to a few places out of childhood nostalgia. Often times what we loved as a child is not always so special as an adult. Steak n Shake was a classic example. The burgers were small and the fries were microscopic but the shakes were fabulous. Maybe my childlike hands thought the burgers and fries were perfectly sized?

But Krispy Kreme donuts were just as divine as I remembered.

Mom and I went to get pedicures and we also went to get our hair cut by Raven at MadyJax salon in Dayton Tennessee. I would love to be able to style my hair like she did. I have just ordered a hot curler so I will give it a try!

After our hair was done we went for dinner at Jacob Myers Restaurant on the River and met Mom’s friends Joy and Tim, Evelyn and Bud. I have known Joy and Evelyn since I was a child and they are both always so kind and generous to me and I love them dearly.

We also went to Pier 88 for seafood with my cousin Warren and his wife Anita.

Warren and I have been estranged for a long time due to our different views on politics and his antagonising behaviour but my Mom wanted me to try and resolve our issues. I spoke to him on the phone and within a few minutes he referred to a photo of us from our teens posed in one of those old fashioned dress up photos and he said that I was “dressed like a saloon whore” and he mentioned that there was a confederate flag hanging in the background. When I mentioned that I would like a copy of the pic and that I would photoshop out the flag he said something racist and so I cut the call short.

Mom wanted me to give him another chance so we invited him to join us for dinner. However the dinner was a bit of a disaster as he made a very loud racist comment within moments of us sitting down and then he sulked when my Mom asked him to keep his voice down. He also got upset because I did not want to give him my phone to take a pic of us when his hands were covered in chicken wing grease and ranch dressing.

So I took selfies instead.

But my fried prawns, oysters and hushpuppies were good at least.

Norm had the talapia and said it was also good.

We met my Uncle Joe, his son Brent, Brent’s wife Kelly and their daughters Maddy and Gabby at J.Alexander’s for lunch.

Brent and the girls also came to Mom’s to visit us for the afternoon while Kelly was at work. It was lovely to have time to catch up properly with Brent. He and Kelly have done an amazing job raising Maddy and Gabby, they are such lovely girls.

My friend Jackie came to spend an evening with us at Mom’s. We have been friends for almost 50 years and I love her to bits. We laughed so much my face was hurting.

Norm and I went to visit my friend Peggy and her husband Billy. I have known Peggy since I was a child as she was my Mom and Dad’s friend before I grew up and she and I became friends once I was of drinking age. She is midway between mine and my Mom’s age. We had so much fun when we were young party animals.

My cousin Mona came to spend our last day with us. We were raised almost like sisters as we were both always at my Grandmother’s house when kids. I love her so much.

The weather was rather quixotic. When we arrived there was a heat wave and Christmas day was really warm. We had tornado warnings and hid in my Mom’s bedroom so that we could easily get into her walk in closet if it hit our area (the closet is the safest place in the house as it has no external walls or windows). We had snow warnings several times and stayed home to avoid the risk of driving in it and we had some days of hectic rain. My Mom has a lovely gas fire which kept us toasty.

The snow was due to start on the day we were flying home. My Mom was panicking about driving in snow or ice. She was dropping us off at the shuttle bus which took us to the airport and luckily we had gotten up early to get organised. We were due to catch the 12:00 shuttle but Norm checked his email and saw that it was cancelled and we had to make a mad dash to catch the 11:00. At least that meant Mom got home earlier and missed being caught in the snow. The snow started on our drive to Atlanta and when we arrived and I tried to climb down from the bus I slipped and fell. I was holding the handle and I managed to stay upright but I twisted my ankle, my knee and my shoulder quite badly.

Our first flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg was pretty fabulous as Norm had treated us to an upgrade and we had seats on the front row and had lots of leg room. Our seats lay back quite far and we had little foot rests like a recliner. I took some medication and actually slept which is rare for me. There was a horrendous storm in Johannesburg and while we were sitting in the terminal there was a clap of thunder which shook the entire terminal building and made the kids nearby scream. It was as loud as a bomb and that is the last thing you want to hear in an airport. Due to the storm the flight from Johannesburg was delayed as the plane landed elsewhere and took over an hour to get back to O.T. airport. We did not get home until after 10pm and I had to work the next day and we were exhausted!

I started with a coach from Tuesday as I need to sort my weight out. It is a keto based eating plan with additional goals towards fitness, relaxation and sleep. I am challenged in all of these areas. There is a group of women who all are in a WhatsApp group and we all share our goals and challenges. It is a great support to be able to communicate with other women who are sharing the same struggles.

I completely cut out sugar and kept my carbs very low and did great. I did yoga the 1st day but my injured knee and ankle could not cope and the weather kicked in to overdrive so I took to my pool instead for exercise from Wednesday to Friday.

I woke on Saturday with terrible stomach pains, nausea and a runny tummy and at first I thought it was food poisoning but then realised it was keto/ carb flu. When I weighed I saw I had already dropped 3 kgs, mostly the water my body had been holding onto.

The heat in Cape Town has been rather obscene. Yesterday it was 42*C (107.6*F) which was just unbearable. I was so ill I just lay in bed all day, being so grateful for the air conditioning we installed in our bedroom when we renovated. Norm popped in and out but mostly stayed downstairs. The dogs came and slept with me for a bit on and off.

Today is hot but not as hot, it has dropped to 27*C (80*F). I woke up at 7:45 when Finn jumped on my head but I had a glass of electrolytes and went right back to sleep and slept for 12 hours. When I woke up at 1pm I had a shower and washed my hair and came downstairs. Norm made us a gorgeous high fat low carb breakfast of cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, rosa tomatoes.

My daughter Caitlin has come over to cool off in the pool.

I have my first session with my new coach this afternoon. I am feeling motivated and ready for change. I am so blessed.

I hope you all enjoyed your end of year break and that you are also motivated for a fabulous 2022. Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxo

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