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.


Salem and Boston: American cultural saturation, witches and baseball

“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Salem, Massachusetts

Bewitched in SalemIn summary, Arthur Miller’s play is a classic parable of mass hysteria drawing a frightening parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 and the McCarthyism Cold War fears of 1950s America.

Set in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts, the townspeople are stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and hatred, culminating in the wrongful sentencing to death of 20 people for the crime of witchcraft. Continue reading Salem and Boston: American cultural saturation, witches and baseball

Family fun

S-J: Mommy I don’t want any more.
M: Have three more beans.
S-J: I already had five beans.
M: Just one more then.
(M takes dinner plate away.)
S-J: Mommy, can I have a roll?
M: No, you can’t have a roll. If you’re still hungry you can have some more supper.
S-J: I don’t want supper, I want lunch.

My observations: my family in action.

Science museumYes, they are here – the Zambians have arrived. There is a growing pile of small shoes at the door, a tent in the lounge and Lego EVERYWHERE!

The thing I love about family and especially children are that they keep you on your toes. You can never let down your guard because there are ‘flapping’ BFG-type ears everywhere picking up ‘stompies’ (that’s cigarette butts for non-SA’s). Continue reading Family fun