Building Castles in the Sky

Chutzpa, chutspa, chutzpadik – Pronounced KHOOTS-PAH; rattle that kh around with fervour; rhymes with ‘Foot spa’. Do not pronounce the ch as in ‘choo-choo’ or ‘Chippewa’, but as the German ch in Ach! or the Scottish in ‘loch’. Hebrew: ‘insolence’, ‘audacity’. Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts’; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language can do justice to.

The Joys of Yiddish By Leo Rosten

Seaside 'cottage' ideasOn Sunday morning I lead prayers at church. It had been an emotionally charged week in London. I dreaded standing in front of the congregation. Over 70 people had recently died in the Grenfell Tower fire not far from where I live, fires raged in Portugal and the news was still full of recent terror attacks.

I now dread my 7am wake-up with BBC Radio 4.

In May I’d readily volunteered to do prayers, but as my turn drew near, I wondered if I really had it in me. What would I say? How would I create the right balance between silence and words?

Fear clawed at me. I should have volunteered to serve coffee.

“I can’t do this,” I thought. “It’s too hard.”

As soon as the thought popped into my head, I recognised it.

It’s too hard – a familiar niggling whisper.

How strong and positive this Nyama can be at the start of a ‘great venture’ – the dreams are big, the imagination strong. But where is my mettle when the rubber hits the road?

Do it afraid!” says speaker Joyce Meyer. Grrrrrrrr. She’s right. I know.

FYI, I survived the prayers.

Now there’s something else … have I mentioned that Hubby and I bought a small piece of Africa last year?

We own a 1028 sqm patch of green grass on a sunny slope in a small Wild Coast village overlooking the Indian ocean. Right now we are making plans to build and talking to an architect. This is a bigger-than-us plan, our next adventure, a terribly grown-up thing, our castle in the sky.

The way I always approach exciting plans, is to sprint forward with enthusiasm.

So … I’ve made sketches, dog-eared pages in books, collected ideas, signed up to ‘Houzz’, consulted my property journalist friend and dreamed of spiral staircases, balconies and hammocks.

And then, predictably, we hit a speed bump.

I chatted to one of my clever engineer/builder cousins and he burst my bubble. This plan is going to cost much more than we anticipated. Suddenly I was counting my obstacles rather than my blessings.

  • Building in South Africa is EXPENSIVE.
  • Stirling no longer promises to be a magic money- tree currency.
  • We had a nightmare experience a couple of years ago building a 3.5 x 3.5m second floor terrace. Can we trust a builder again?
  • Renewable building methods are not as easy or affordable as they should be.
  • Our ‘building savings’ went into our business in March and it’s not flooding back fast.
  • And …. and … and …

Suddenly it all seemed too difficult.

Never at a loss for drama and exaggeration, I announced to Hubby that our plans were impossible.

“Are you giving up so easily, Nyamazela?” he asked me.

“No, but … it’s too hard!” I heard myself say.

That voice again? Seriously? Am I really that predictable? That flappable?

Hubby raised his eyebrows. “It’s just going to take a little longer,” he shrugged.

London heatwaveI walked on to work in silence, disappointed with myself.

It took me most of the day to pick myself up again. Being Nyamazela every day is a struggle.

Thank God for the encouragers in our lives …

In other news, we’ve been experiencing a super heatwave in England – London is a scorcher. I’m not sleeping very well (this doesn’t seem to affect Hubby). Last night I washed all our bedding and remade the bed with wet bedding – that helped.

On the upside I’ve enjoyed using words such as ‘schvitzing’ and ‘schlep’ – leave it to Yiddish to provide the only suitable words for this heat which according to the BBC news, is hotter than Thailand.

Yiddish funSMALL PRINT:
P.s. Occasionally I need reminding that I’m supposed to be Nyamazela – the girl who never gives up. Hubby has appointed himself as my personal reminder.
P.p.s. Houzz is an app, somewhat like Pinterest, but specifically for building ideas, renovations and interiors.

P.p.p.s. I welcome ANY advice on facing the daunting task of a full new build project – things to look out for, hidden costs, problems to anticipate?
P.p.p.p.s. Ref the popcorn and architectural sketch photo, sometimes when I work from home I treat myself to a bowl of popcorn. If it’s evening, I’ll accompany it with a glass of wine. A note to hubby, popcorn IS a perfectly acceptable meal.
P.p.p.p.p.s. Incidentally, South African everyday English is rich with Yiddish words – Kugel, schnozz, klutz, plotz (pronounced platz), spiel, schmuck, glitch … if you want to be a Nyamazela, you may need a little chutzpah, but beware to throw in some good sense says WSC.


Plodding along

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps on this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

London winter sunsets

Oh, Shakespeare! You had me at tomorrow.

You’ve heard me say your first draft has permission to suck.  That’s still true even though our first draft of 2017 has been unexpectedly fractious and gruelling. Call it seasonal affective disorder, call it one problem after another, call it what you like. So far, 2017 is not the post-2016-solve-all that it promised to be (promised as in the promise communicated to me over a glass of Champagne on New Years Eve). Continue reading Plodding along

One More Fact

“He read the words again, holding his candle close to the frame, to light them. Then he went to the table, opened his bottle of ink, turned to a clean page in his journal, dipped his pen and wrote: ‘January 27th 1898: At St Matthias Mission there is an odd sense of predestination …’ He looked up and gazed a moment at the text on the wall, returned to the page and added, ‘It is strange how strongly I feel it. What it is I do not know, but I shall leave before it takes me in. I shall leave before I am its victim.”

Shades by Marguerite Poland

ShadesSo the story goes, a family worked in Asia as missionaries for OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). They lived and served among the Asian people in a small community, becoming quite close to many of them. One day a woman they knew well and had spent much time with, turned on them in an angry tirade. She said things that were untrue and hurtful and their relationship with her seemed to be broken.

The family were devastated. It had taken many months, even years, to build trust in the community. Now it was ruined. Continue reading One More Fact

Two weeks into September, into work, into autumn at 31 deg C

“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

the working life“A campaign for a 4 day week you say? Let’s vote for that!” said …. pretty much everyone.

Dreaming aside, it actually did happen. From 1st January to 7th March 1974 UK Prime Minister Edward Heath initiated a 3 day week as a measure to save electricity during a rather torrid period brought on by the second major coal miners strike in two years.

If we could travel back in time to the United Kingdom between 1972 and 1974, I think we might find it was rather a dark time – and I don’t just mean because the lights were turned off. Continue reading Two weeks into September, into work, into autumn at 31 deg C

Norway: Nyama, the King and the big boulder … and the VOH

“Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10km return climb to Kjeragbolten Sitting on my bottom, edging my foot onto the boulder and trying hard not to look down at the 3200ft abyss below, I had one of those out of body experiences.

On the one hand, a more sensible Nyama looked on from a safe distance wondering almost out loud whether anyone had ever fallen to their death on this spot. She also seriously doubted whether in fact the Nyama on the rock really did have it in her to stand on the Kjeragbolten. Continue reading Norway: Nyama, the King and the big boulder … and the VOH

Working freelance from home

“A little note about grammar. I know it and I love it, but I haven’t always followed it in this book. I start sentences with ands and buts. I end sentences with prepositions. I use the plural they in contexts that require the singular he or she. I’ve done this for informality and immediacy, and I hope the sticklers will forgive me.”

Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential by Dr Carol S Dweck

Freelance work from homeStill wondering at and unpacking the massive, life-changing concept of Dweck’s Mindset, I’ve decided to tackle one of my serious weaknesses – procrastination and busyness.

The ‘growth mindset’ approach says that:
1. I don’t have to stay the way I am (which in fact echoes beautifully with my theology as well).
2. I can improve, through hard work and practise, in an area that I value.
3. I have no idea what my potential (ceiling) really is. Continue reading Working freelance from home

Memory

“We have all some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances – of our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remember it!”

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Aiming to improve our memoriesThe mind is a strange and curious thing.

On Friday last, I stepped out of the office on an errand.  Low-lying mist hung over the Thames. London was still. This is a rare and beautiful thing. Putney Bridge was deserted – no hooting or sirens or loud pedestrians. The frenzy and heat of July having past, a large portion of the population on leave, August is an eerie month in the city. London seemed to breathe out a long peaceful breath of relief.

Being bookish, and tending towards melancholy, this mysterious, still, slightly dark, ominous, promise-of-rain weather feeds my imagination. Continue reading Memory