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.


Finding answers

“Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also the being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Questions and answersI have always been a questioner.

On family road trips when I was small (smaller), I wrestled with a physics question. Why did the fly which had flown into the open window continue to buzz around against the back windscreen? Why hadn’t it, with the speed of the vehicle, found itself SPLAT on the glass? Kilometres were spent agonising over this problem. Continue reading Finding answers

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

The Journey, not the Destination: Goats, Wine, Mountains and Mafia #SAroadtrip

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf. 
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

road trip south africa

We were about 60km outside Port Edward when we realised that we might actually be in real danger. Continue reading The Journey, not the Destination: Goats, Wine, Mountains and Mafia #SAroadtrip

A Merry and Blessed Christmas, 2016

The Journey Of The Magi

(written in 1927 by T. S. Eliot)
tiny-tim‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Continue reading A Merry and Blessed Christmas, 2016

Asking the difficult questions

“I’m busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!”

Dolly Parton in Straight Talk (1992)

Honesty time.

When you’ve managed to stay super busy for some months and people around you need your help, family needs you, you travel, learn a language, plan and dream – it can all be hugely rewarding. Probably almost enough to fill another void. Continue reading Asking the difficult questions