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

Memories

“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Says Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

Dr Zeuss

My father-in-law is writing his memoirs and I can’t wait to read them!

“How do you remember all the places and names and details?” I asked him.

“You’d be surprised what comes to mind when you start digging around in the past. You open a drawer, look through a photo album, talk to an old friend, read a letter…” he replied.

Now I know what he means. Continue reading Memories

Springtime in Photos

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”

Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

From indoors, yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly and I hurried out to work. As I stepped onto the pavement a bracing wind caught my light leather jacket, tugged at my loosely-wrapped scarf and made my feet feel naked in my sockless pumps.

Some snippets of March and April (all photos are captioned if you click on them): Continue reading Springtime in Photos

Our short interlude into the lives of 12 walkers

“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

wild coastBy popular demand, I give you our 12 fellow travellers on our South African #roadtrip:

‘Petrol Man’: outside Bloemfontein:
We took a country road towards the Lesotho mountains. TomTom was not pleased. Petrol Man explained that his car had run out of petrol. In parts of the Free State you get the feeling that you’re driving from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere. So we drove on. Eventually we came to a juncture. There was’t even a tiny pin-prick of a suggestion of a village, but with nothing else to suggest we turned down the dust track. What materialised eventually was a twilight-zone-like-derelict-one-stop-hamlet consisting of a road, 6 dwellings, a couple of people and a petrol station! Continue reading Our short interlude into the lives of 12 walkers

Eating with your fingers

“Natalie was nervous because I had explained that she would be treated differently because she was white, that she would have to work harder than other girls to gain my parents’ trust. And so they devised a plan: We agreed that on the first meeting my wife would not accept tea, she would instead make tea in the home of my parents. With that gesture, she showed that she did not have a superiority complex, that she was willing to make a gesture, however small, to gain acceptance.”

MMUSI MAIMANE Prophet or Puppet? by S’Thembiso Msomi

Ethiopian restaurantThere is a story that I’ve not been able to verify unequivocally, but which seems to be accepted as a fact:

On a visit to America some time in the 1800’s, Queen Victoria changed etiquette rules forevermore, by picking up a chicken wing with her fingers and eating it thus. Whether she saw this as a more efficient way to handle a chicken wing, or that it was preferable in the name of diplomacy to do as the Americans did, we will never know. Continue reading Eating with your fingers

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