Sunday, August 28, 2011

Land Invaders 0 – Jasmine 1 (Finally)

As I sit working, my lounge is filled with the fragrance of my Jasmine creeper. It is the most beautiful, uplifting smell. It reminds me of my years living in Johannesburg where Jasmine grows like a weed.

I am not sure if Jasmine likes growing in Durban much because it has taken over 5 years for it to bloom. Having said that – I know that the blame for its ridiculously slow growth is not just the climate. The daily land invasions are the main culprits.

The land invaders i.e. the troops of vervet monkeys who visit, either first thing in the morning or about 4 in the afternoon, used to love eating the tiny jasmine buds. The poor creeper did not stand a chance against the sheer number of monkeys enjoying a post paw-paw snack.

My garden has about 6 paw-paw trees and a guava tree. Not that I ever eat either the paw-paws or the guavas. I leave the fruit for my cheeky, uninvited guests in the hope that this will discourage them from jumping into the kitchen and helping themselves to bread, bananas and anything else edible they can find at Alma’s Kitchen Restaurant. I do not feed them yet they ignore the bills for the buffet menu they have helped themselves to.

I want to hate them, particularly when they tear apart the garbage bag and throw stuff about looking for tasty titbits. How can I hate these animals with their human-like traits?

Before the arrival of Roxy – the monkeys were bolder and took complete advantage of my hospitable nature. Whilst watching TV one afternoon (Animal Planet of course) I thought Cuddles was lying on the floor next to my chair. I then realised it was a monkey, sitting next to me, engrossed in the Animal Planet programme I was watching.

I looked back and there they all were. The whole troop was parking off on our outdoor furniture, watching TV and waiting for afternoon tea to be served!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Books are Lekker, né?

Have I mentioned that I love reading? No? How remiss of me.

Books have been to blame for many a sleepless night as I force my eyelids open and coerce my eyes to focus so that I can read one more chapter... then just another more....and so it goes until it is 3:00am and I have finished the book. Sound familiar? I bet it does.

As much as I enjoy reading all the great best-selling international novelists like Stieg Larsson, Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, Dean Koontz etc - I do so love reading South African novels. It’s refreshing to be able to identify with the places, people, humour and idiosyncrasies that are uniquely South African.

South Africa has some great writers and here in Durban North, to compensate for the shocking drivers, we have Books & Books. A delightful book store which regularly host some of our South African authors.

I went there to listen to Jenny Hobbs, author of "Kitchen Boy", whose talk was fascinating as she and guests alike shared details of what South Africans went through during World War 2. Kitchen Boy was an amazing read, made even more special with references to familiar spots within KwaZulu-Natal and Durban.
(Excuse the crappy photos. My Blackberry is lacking in that function)

I just loved the “Ants” books so jumped at the chance to meet Annica Foxcroft. She was promoting the 3rd in her Ants series namely “Ants in the Big Onion.” Her previous 2 books – “There are Ants in my Sugar” and “More Ants!” were books that one could easily read in a couple of days and which had you smiling the whole way through. Annica was an eloquent and amusing speaker whose love for the written word clearly extends to the spoken word.

Although I had already met Di Smith, I wanted to hear all about her new book – “You’re Awesome.” I purchased her book not for myself - but for The Alien. The positive messages in her book are just what a teenager needs to empower themselves to get through the unimaginably difficult world they live in.

I am looking forward to hearing Mandy Weiner whose book, “Killing Kebble”, has attracted a lot of publicity. It is definitely not a book that you can put down and pick up at whim. There are so many characters and story lines that it demands you pay attention. Mmm, I may have to borrow one of the Aliens Ritalin tablets.

Books & Books, Janine O’Conner and your entire team, thank you for promoting South African writers. Please can you invite some of my other favourite SA writers like Fiona Snyckers (Her Trinity books are a treat for all ages) and Ndumiso Ngcobo (Because it is cathartic to laugh about our diverse nation) and Paige Nick (still waiting for her books which I ordered but I love her column in the Sunday Times)

Any more South African writers you can recommend? My fellow Ama Glug- Glugger, Lesmarie, gave me the book “Mushy Peas on Toast” by Laurian Clemence. Looks like just the type of book I want to read. Loud and proud – it’s South African.