Friday, October 27, 2006

Earliest Memory

Someone very dear to me asked me the other day what my earliest memory was. So I decided to write my earliest memory down here, in case I forgot later on.

When I was about four or five years old (I think the age changes but I do remember that my little sister was just starting to walk, perhaps I could have been younger, she was about fifteen months old, give or take a month or two) and my older sister and I had begged my dad to make us a tree house in our back yard. There was this huge tree and so my dad hammered in some planks to make a platform and put up a rope ladder so that my sister and I could climb up it and sit on the platform. It was pretty high up and it was great to lie up there on hot afternoons and tan or watch the clouds.

One day we had quite a few guests over and my mom was indoors busy seeing to everyone and being hostess. My sister and I decided to escape all the hum drum and so we sped along to our tree house, climbed up the ladder and lay on the platform watching all the people below coming and going.

We noticed my younger sister making her way out the house on her little wobbly legs, exploring her new found freedom. We watched in amusement as she removed her diaper, flung it over the goat's horns (we had a pet goat at the time called Lottie) and then toddled over to the roap ladder. Now our eyes had become just a little bit bigger as we watched her start to make her way up the ladder. She climbed up pretty quickly but just as she was nearing the top, one of the gentlemen standing on the other side of the garden happened to turn around and noticed the goat standing there by the tree with an outraged expression on her face, and a diaper hanging limply over her eyes! He gave a start...looked up and yelled for my mother to come and see quickly and oh! someone help the poor child before she falls!!

My little sister was quite unperturbed and finished climbing to the top of the ladder, wriggled over the top and then turned and lay on her stomach and the three of us then watched with amusement the following proceedings.
All the guests had come running out of the house and were now standing in our back yard, looking up at the tree.
My mother came out through the door and saw the goat standing there, still looking very hard done by and she smiled! She looked up at the tree and saw three little faces peering down at her and then she began to laugh. I mean....it was actually dreadfully funny if you think about it!

We had to help my sister down from the tree because it was a lot harder going down than it was going up. It was great fun, though, and we were all quite psyched about it and couldn't wait to tell our dad. After that, however, we had to tie up the rope ladder so that my little sister couldn't access it by herself. It was quite dangerous and we didn't want anything to happen to her.

Later on in life my sister and I climbed lots of trees and had great adventures! But I will always remember her first trek into a tree!

A Hand to Hold...

This memory dates quite a ways back to when I was about...lets see....hmmm....about ten or eleven years old, if I am not mistaken. My family and I had driven through to Cape Town for the yearly Cape Argus Cycle Tour. My dad was taking part and so was my mom and they had to go to the WaterFront to register for the race.

All fine and well, we tagged along to check out the sights. Not that there were too many to see. Mostly there were just large groups of people wherever you looked, and often there were crowds just at the places where we wanted to wander over to. So we strolled around pretending to know people and trying to see if there was anything interesting at all to see.

I saw a big group of people gathered around what looked like a giant teddy bear and without looking around I grabbed my dad's hand firmly in mine and dragged him with me to see what it was. I wasn't quite prepared to go alone, a little intimidated by all the people and especially afraid that I might lose myself in amongst all of the crowds so that my parents would not be able to find me again. All the horror stories of children being kidnapped came back to me and I shivered and squeezed my dad's hand a little harder, still tugging him along.

"Come on Daddy, let's go and have a look see over there! It looks like a big teddy...oooohhh...I would love to have a big teddy like that one day, that would be so cool! Come on daddy!" I gave an extra hard tug. What on earth was wrong with my daddy all of a sudden? He didn't seem keen at all to come with me and he normally was very enthusiastic.

Hang on a second...I stopped short in my tracks. No...it couldn't be! I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and turned around. I opened my eyes slowly and looked up...straight into the eyes of a stranger. Oh dear! What on earth had gone wrong? My dad was right behind me when I had grabbed his hand, I knew he was. Oh this was just terrible!
I went bright red (and I still blush to this day when I think about this!) and hastily dropped his hand. Poor guy, no wonder he had been so reluctant to follow me...

A laugh bubbled up from inside me and spilled forth and before long I was sitting on the ground laughing so hard the tears were flowing down my cheeks. Everyone was staring at me and that just made me laugh harder. I saw my parents amongst the crowd and all I could do was wave at them and laugh. I think I was a little hysterical as well from shock but it truly was hilarious to see the unfortunate man's hand that I had grabbed and assumed was my father's.

My parents came over and rescued me from the curious stares of the strangers and I apologised to the stranger for dragging him all over the place. He laughed and said it was okay, he didn't mind. My parents, when they heard what had happened, also burst out laughing. Apparently my dad had seen me grab this stranger by the hand and before he could say or do anything I was steamrollering the stranger off all over the place. Apparently it was quite a sight ~chuckle~ I can just imagine. I am not a slow walker and have also been referred to as a porsche ~grin~

So...if the stranger ever gets to read this : I am so sorry I made you follow me all over!
Message to all future strangers...beware of Angelupé Leeky!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Breath of Life

There is something infinately fulfilling about standing outside and breathing deeply of the fresh air. I realised with a shock about two weeks ago, that being alive should never be taken for granted. You might not think you take life for granted but do you thank God every day for your life? If you don't, and if you don't wake up every morning grateful to be alive, then you do take your life for granted. I did, for years and years, but about two weeks ago I had a close call with Death and now my life means a lot to me and every morning I thank God for giving me another day to help others, to live and to improve my life.

Friday, 6th October. I had an appointment with Death but thanks to divine intervention and, I believe, stubborness...Death cancelled. There is no description for what it felt like, knowing I was going to die. No, my life didn't flash before my eyes, but there was a deep and intense sorrow that I hadn't done more with my life. That I hadn't shown those I love how much they meant to me. That I hadn't spent more time with my older sister, getting to know her, learning to really love her. Sorrow that I hadn't been a better example to the people around me. Regret that I hadn't yet met the man of my dreams. All these thoughts and feelings flashed through me when I couldn't breathe, when I felt my body slowly stop working.

~shudder~ There is no feeling to compare with that, I believe, feeling yourself drift away into a sleep from which you will not wake. Then comes the panic, the regret and sorrow, and after that the determination to live! I believe that it was my stubborness and determination as well as divine intervention (mostly divine intervention) which saved me.

I have, however, made it a point ever since that day to thank my Maker every day for the life He gave back to me and for the second chance I have received. Its made me realise how precious and short life can be and why it is essential to make the most of every single minute of every day!

Every morning I stand outside and take a deep breath of air and it truly is fulfilling to know I am able to breathe in that air. A sense of wonderment engulfs me and I turn to look up at the sky, clear blue without a single cloud, and the truth flows over me.
I have just taken a breath of LIFE!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Random Thought and Poem

RANDOM THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

"IF DREAMS WERE WISHES AND WISHES CAME TRUE
I WOULDN'T BE HERE, I'D BE WITH YOU
DISTANCE IS ONE THING THAT KEEPS US APART
BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS REMAIN CLOSE TO MY HEART"

Please don't forget me
I will always be true
To the beat of my heart
Which calls only for you

You're the bounce in my step
And the song in my heart
The sparkle in my eyes
Even though we're apart

They say that love
Can change your life
Change sorrow to happiness
Get rid of all strife

The day that I met you
A great change took place
Now all that I want
Is to put a smile on your face

So please don't forget me
I will always be true
To the beat of my heart
Which calls only for you!
Written by Angelupé

Tree Hugging - Essential!

I made a discovery a little while back which was quite interesting. I've been told before that to survive each day you need at least 4 hugs, and to be healthy and happy you need at least 8 hugs. Well, lately I haven't been getting too many of those, I figure that's why I got sick. So how to find a solution to the problem?? Other than stopping complete strangers and asking them to hug me...would cause quite a stir if I did that, I think.

I spent a little while thinking about it and turning over different ideas and then quite by chance I stumbled (literally) onto the solution. It is actually pretty simple, really, can't see why I didn't think of it beforehand. Perhaps I would not have gotten sick then!

I walk to work almost every morning and then back again and one morning on my way to work I was looking at the beautiful sunrise (yes...some of us just don't have a life...) and I wasn't aware of very much else around me. Hence the fact that I walked into a tree and got such a fright that I threw my arms around the trunk to stop myself from falling. Well, it wasn't the best hug I have ever had but it made me laugh and brightened up my day no end!!

So ever since that day I have been hugging trees. Mostly on accident (note to self : learn to watch where you're going) and much to the amusement of the people around me. However, as long as others are laughing, its okay with me. I have a strange sense of humor anyways and often laugh at myself. Or to myself, to the confusion of my friends and family.

I need to remember not to chuckle to myself on my walk to work...or talk to myself either...else I might find myself being bundled gently into a white van by men in orange coats with little name tags on them. That would be the most tragic ending, I think!

Come on, try this : Its hug a tree day today and they say that love makes plants grow, so why can't it make trees grow? And they do a lot for you, you know. If there were no trees we wouldn't breathe so easily, nor would we have paper. What would we do in a world without trees?

Unthinkable!!! Don't let your trees die, hug them today!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This is a poem that someone sent to me, but it was so beautiful that I wanted to share it with everyone!

The Gift Of Knowing You

There are gifts of many treasures
For both the young and old,
From the tiniest little trinkets
To great boxes filled with gold.

But, put them all together
And they could not stand in lieu,
Of the greatest gift of all
The gift of knowing you.

When your times are filled with troubles
Sadness, grief, or even doubt,
When all those things you planned on
Just aren't turning out.

Just turn and look behind you
From the place at which you stand,
And look for me through the shadows
And reach out for my hand.

I will lift from you your burden
And cry for you your tears,
Bear the pain of all your sorrows
Though it may be for a thousand years.

For in the end I would be happy
To have helped you start anew,
It's a small price to pay
For the gift of knowing you.

Thanks for letting me know you!

A lesson learned!

It was quite an ordinary day really, nothing great about it except that the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing arias in the trees around the house. My sister and I decided that it would be great to go and climb the huge trees lining our driveway so we put on jean cut-offs and a short sleeve shirt and ran barefeet down the driveway, stopping at the biggest tree we could find. This was one we hadn't yet attempted to climb owing to its hugeness. To be honest, I was a little afraid of this tree. It was so big and the trunk was ginormous, too big to even get a hold on.

We stood staring up at the tree, looking for a way up. Finally we decided the best way up was that one of us would vault the one onto the lowest branch and then that one would pull the other up. I vaulted my sister up, just like they do in the cowboy movies! And when she had a firm hold, she lowered her hand and helped to pull me up.

Once up on the first branch it wasn't nearly as difficult as it looked from the bottom. We shimmied our way up the next part of the trunk, sliding down a couple of times before getting it right. Then tragedy struck...we argued about who went next! It seems so silly now, thinking back on it, but we were very young and at that moment it truly did matter who got to go first.
I am ashamed to admit that I did push her and so she fell. Luckily for both of us it wasn't a far way to fall and she was able to grab branches on the way down to break her fall so she didn't really get hurt, merely twisted her ankle a bit, but oh man! was she mad at me!!

After that episode my mother made us stay out the trees as punishment, and boy was that punishment!! Climbing those trees was like a hobby to us and it was just the end of world that we had to stay out of them.

About an hour later the plumbers came around to fix the hot water heater in our ceiling and we begged my mom to let us go up and have a look. She made us promise to stay out the way and to be careful and so we pulled on water boots and scuttled away outside, up the ladder and into the ceiling. It was dreadfully hot and humid inside and really stuffy. I didn't like it much but didn't want to be the first to leave, so I stayed and we explored a little and then helped hand the plumbers the tools they wanted. In a few minutes we were having fun and then I didn't want to leave anymore.

A few minutes later we were walking along the beams to see where each of the rooms were and then my one water boot fell off. I didn't have a pair of my own so I was wearing my mom's and they were rather too big for me. Thinking back now I am just surprised that they hadn't fallen off sooner!
I leaned over the beam and pulled the boot back on but just as I was going to put my foot down, I lost my balance. I knew I was going to fall and I had nothing to hold onto. I tried to scream but my voice just wouldn't do anything other than let out a little squeak.
One of the plumbers turned around just as I disappeared through the ceiling and then all hell broke loose. I heard people yelling as I hit the floor, pain searing through my foot and ankle. The breath was knocked completely out of my lungs and for what seemed like hours I lay there opening and closing my mouth, nothing happening.

I saw my mother come running into the room, her face ashen white. When I looked up I could see my sister peering at me through the very big hole in the ceiling. I wanted to grin at her but I couldn't do anything other than make these awful gasping noises, trying to get some breath into my lungs before I passed out! My ankle was really starting to hurt me by now and I lay there wondering if it were broken? I had always envied those kids at school who came home from the holidays with broken limbs. I never had anything to show for my holiday.

Lucky for me I had fallen into the sitting room which had wooden floors. This absorbed my weight and made sure I didn't break my back or get serious concussion. If I had fallen on the other side of the beam I would have landed in the dining room and that was a cement floor. I would have been much more seriously injured.
However, I did tear all the ligaments in my right foot and ankle, which took about four months to heal enough for me to walk normally without crutch or walking stick. I also tore a few of the ligaments in my left foot but that wasn't too bad and healed very quickly.

I figured that this all happened because I pushed my sister whilst we were in the tree and she fell out. Perhaps someone gave me a little push up there in the ceiling? I believe someone did but I sure know it wasn't a human being!! I needed to learn a little lesson and falling through that ceiling and landing so hard sure did knock some sense into my selfish and stubborn head!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quasimodo and I

Its strange how one can remember so many little things that happened in one's life when younger. I was just sitting here now, remembering a little bird that made such a big difference in my life! He taught me so many lessons, but most of all he brought me joy and I loved him so much.

I found him one day on our porch, lying in a big bag filled with wood shavings. He had fallen from his nest and he looked so forlorn and lonely that I just had to take him in and care for him. I found a box, put an old knitted jersey into it and also my favourite stuffed animal. He was so small, had no feathers at all and couldn't have been much older than about two weeks. He looked so ugly and yet was so adorable that I couldn't give him any name other than Quasimodo.

From that first day on Quasimodo went everywhere with me. I took him with me to town and went to the library with him. On these excursions into town I would take a very small little box with me, with a sock folded into the shape of a nest, so that he could stay warm. And I would take his food with me in a syringe and feed him every two hours. It caused quite a stir in the library the first week but after a few days all the librarians would come up to me and ask me how it was going with Quasi.

Quasi, naturally, enjoyed all the attention immensely and would even put on a bit of a show for the children who would come and peek into the box at him. When it was very cold I would put on a rollneck sweater and let him curl up against my neck to keep warm. He would be very reluctant to climb out into the cold box after that and I used to have quite a few wriggling sessions trying to get him out! Needless to say, that also caused a stir ~chuckle~
I mean, just imagine it. You see this girl walking around in the library and next minute she's wriggling and talking to herself about not tickling and being good! Yep, it sure did make heads turn :)

As Quasimodo got older, his first little feathers started appearing. I was thrilled when his baby fluff was replaced by the beautiful feathers of a growing swallow. Swallows have always been my favourite birds and being able to raise one from a baby was a privelage and a blessing for me. I watched in amazement how he lost his gangly look and started putting on a bit of weight. His feathers turned glossy blue black and the markings around his eyes became more prominant. He truly was becoming beautiful!

He was also becoming progressively more cheeky as the weeks passed by. In the evenings I had a huge problem making him stay in his box instead of jumping out and onto my bed. I would put a lid over the box but he would become so frantic that I was afraid he would harm himself.
So I would turn over onto my stomach, drape my arm over the side of the box and let him curl up inside my hand and go to sleep. It was the only way he would sleep.

I, on the other hand, didn't get much sleep at all because it was very uncomfortable to lie that way and I constantly had a stiff neck and sore shoulders. No matter how little sleep I got, though, I couldn't bear the idea of him being unhappy or hurting himself, so I would fall asleep each night with Quasi curled up in the palm of my hand.

One evening, after an exciting day in town, I couldn't get him to calm down and settle in for the night. He wouldn't even curl up in my hand, but kept on trying to fly out the box. That day he had just discovered that if he flapped his wings real hard, he could get a few feet off the ground and move forwards. Now he tried that tactic out with me and I just couldn't get him to stay in the box. My mom came into the room and told me that I had better let him up on the bed so that we could all get some sleep. She said that my "mother's instinct" would stop me from rolling over in the night and squishing him. I was still hesitant because I really wasn't sure if I could keep from rolling around. I always did! Eventually I couldn't ignore little Quasi's cries any longer and so I picked him up and let him snuggle up against my neck, where he was happiest.

After ten minutes of chirping softly into my ear, he finally closed his eyes and drifted off into birdie sleep. I lay awake as long as I could, petrified that if I fell asleep I would move around and squish him. Later on I drifted off, unable to keep my eyes open any longer.

Around about 3am the next morning I awoke with a start. I couldn't feel Quasi by my neck anymore and when I switched on the light I became really worried. I gently pushed my duvet aside and sat up...and then I saw him.
I couldn't stop the tears from flowing as I looked at him, so peaceful now. He must have crawled down under the covers sometime during the night and although I hadn't turned over, he had got caught up in the duvet and must have suffocated. I was totally devastated, crying while holding him close to me, rocking him and speaking softly to him, even though he couldn't hear my voice anymore. I sat there for more than two hours, crying and rocking his silent form.

Around 5am I went outside to bury him. I didn't have anymore tears to cry, my heart was dreadfully heavy! He had trusted me and I had let him down. Yet I knew that I couldn't have not let him sleep by me that night.

It is years later now, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. Quasi had a way to make you feel special and needed. True, he was only a bird, but he knew whenever I was sad, or ecstatically happy, he knew when to climb onto my shoulder and chirp in my ear, he knew when to turn somersaults to make me laugh.
He truly was a miracle and a great blessing in my life and I will never forget him!

Fact or Fiction...

I was once asked if I believe in fairytale endings...you know, like happily ever after? Well, its rather hard to say. Mostly I never cared for fairytales that ended in happily ever after, especially when looking at relationships in this world. So many divorces, so many broken families, kids on drugs, alcoholics, smokers...what sort of happily ever after is that?? I never believed in love at first sight or falling in love. A true sceptic, that's me!

So, the question is, does love at first sight exist? What is love? How do you know you love someone? I've asked myself these questions so many times over the last few years and although I had my own theories and ideas, I can't say I truly knew the answers to any of these questions.
Love has always been a pretty controversial issue, all people have their own ideas. Let me tell you what I think love means, and what it means to me.

Love : out-going concern, giving, sharing, caring. Giving of yourself and not expecting anything in return.

That is how I see the meaning of love.
I figured that you couldn't possibly love someone if you didn't know them, which was why this whole theory of love at first sight didn't sit too well with me. I believe that somewhere out in this world, there is a right person for everyone, someone to share the rest of your life with. I also believe that if you wait patiently, you will finally meet up and be able to plan a life together. This way there won't be any broken relationships, couples moving in and out with each other, broken hearts and unwanted children.

I used to dream of a time when I would finally meet up with the man of my dreams. Be able to see him and get to know him. For years I have dreamt of this man. What he would be like, I would even hear his voice in my dreams. Yet through the years, I never met him. Later on I got impatient, wanted to go out and LOOK for him ~chuckle~ Women are like that, they want to have a man nearby to love them and take care of them, a man that is gentle and kind yet strong and firm. I wanted that security and love so much, I wanted to have my own family, my own children.
Hearing about babies thrown away on the news, watching children in orphanages, seeing children that don't receive any love from their parents...this all made me furious! Especially with the parents that just couldn't be bothered with their children. They dump their babies off at daycare from 7am till 5pm and then have a nanny or au pair to take care of them when they are at home.

I used to be an au pair and it broke my heart when the children became so attached to me that the little ones even started calling me "mommy". I used to cry myself to sleep, wishing I could change this world right now, wishing I could adopt all those homeless children and be a mother to them all.

I digress...although its all part of the same subject. Love, marriage, family. Marriage is supposed to be a sacred covenant between two people, not to be taken lightly. Yet most of the world treats it as a joke. Why marriage when you can just live together? This is the way most people see it. Its tragic!
Its been said that a stable community is built on stable families...could this be why our country is falling apart? Something to think about!

Back to the original question, though...are happily ever afters fact or fiction? Personally, I think they are fact. You can have a happily ever after ending, just like in the fairy tales.
The real question is : Are you capable of working hard to create that happily ever after? They don't just happen, you need to work to make them happen.

So...I believe in happily ever after...do you?

P.S. Just in case you're wondering...I finally did meet the man of my dreams and he is everything I dreamt him to be and more!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rude Awakening

I awoke with a start, lay there a moment wondering what on earth had woken me so unceremoniously. It took about five minutes of rapid blinking to realise that it was more or less light outside, but not very. I stuck my hand out from under the covers but withdrew it very quickly. Man! It was cold!!

I lay there for another few minutes listening and suddenly I heard it...a steady munching and a clippety-clop close by.

Honestly! This was the limit. I flew out of bed, pulling on a jacket while passing my warddrobe and jumped into a pair of shoes. Rushing down the passage to the kitchen I popped my head into my sister's room and yelled. Then I carried on running until I got outside. There, strewn like confetti all across our garden, were the goats. There were 17 in all, 12 of them little devils! Never did they miss out on the chance to sneak into our rose garden or into the herb patch behind the house.
And now there they were, munching away on not only our roses, but our fig tree as well. This was really more than I could bear. Those figs were delicious and it was total sacrilege to see the goats munching only a bite out of them before spitting them out. I was completely outraged!

I opened the gate leading to their camp and then started trying to round them up. I say try...because it didn't work quite that way. As soon as I had some of the kids in the camp, the others would crowd around so that I couldn't open the gate without the already caught kids escaping.

Those of my family members who were inside heard a frustrated wail start up and they must have decided to have pity on me and come and help because to my relief I saw some people emerging from different directions. A few minutes later we had them all where we wanted them and then we could go back inside and get some well earned coffee. It was only when we turned around that we noticed a few of the workers standing around in a group staring at us.

It hit us like a wave...our skin color changed from pale to deep red. What a sight we must have been, dressed in our pajamas, slip on shoes, hair all over the place, puffy eyes; chasing goats all over the garden. We did make some spectacular dives as well.
Hmmm...definately something to remember. Note to self: go to bed fully dressed in case of emergencies!