Songs of [My] Life

An opening word

I originally wrote this in November 2018.  The challenge was to pick that one favourite song.  Needless to say, that was an impossible task but a challenge to which I rose – with some relish.  When my webhost disappeared some time ago, this post went along with it.  I’m “reconstiting” some and not others, and this one wasn’t on the list.  Until last week.  When I wrote about my favourite lead singers, I realised that it’s a piece I’d like to re-visit and restore to its rightful place.


With her parents, she arrived On a Jet Plane (John Denver) in Johannesburg, South Africa – a little Puppet on a String (Sandie Shaw) – and with a Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull), took a train to Port Elizabeth.  There, she made friends with Jennifer Eccles (The Hollies) and another Jennifer, Juniper (Donovan), but didn’t find Atlantis (Donovan).

The house my parents built in East London 1968. Originally, it consisted of the gable, and the chimney and the two windows to the left. This photo was taken in 2010.

After a while, the family moved to East London where she started school and met Pretty Belinda (Chris Andrews) whom, full of Sorrow (David Bowie) she left behind, when the family moved.  Again.  At the new school, she was Only the Lonely (Roy Orbison), and just had to Get Down (Gilbert O’Sullivan), and face her Waterloo (Abba), until she headed to boarding school.

So you think your schooling is phony….

Hostel dance – 1976 – only just a teenager

Boarding school was all about putting Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd) and avoiding the Bad Moon Rising (Credence Clearwater Revival) in the company of ZX Dan (The Radio Rats), yearning for an African Sky Blue (Juluka).  In those teenage years, she was a bit like Sandra Dee (Olivia Newton John) looking for Someone to Love (Queen).  Then, one day, her Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell) rode in, but he had a Heart of Glass (Blondie), leaving her with The Sounds of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel) in the Purple Rain (Prince), with the question, I want to know what love is? (Foreigner).Finishing school, the Wild Thing (The Trogs), Like a Virgin (Madonna) headed to university.  There she found herself in the Eye of the Tiger (Survivor), saying, Papa don’t Preach (Madonna).  What a Feeling (Irene Cara), those years of Ebony and Ivory (Stevie Wonder) when, with a lot of De Do Do Do De Da Da Da (Police), Time after Time, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper), Making Love out of Nothing at all (Air Supply), she had to sing the Redemption Song (Bob Marley).

Days of “study” and fun at university

(Wo)Men at Work

Like Greased Lightening (John Travolta), Tragedy (The BeeGees) struck and it was time to start working Eight Days’ a Week (Beetles), joining the Men at Work (Down Under).  So, Here comes Tomorrow (The Dealians), and in the company of Sugarman (Rodriguez), her Last Dance (Diana Ross) took her to Meadowlands (Strike Vilakazi) where she did the Pata Pata (Miriam Makeba) and pleaded, Give me Hope, Joanna (Eddie Grant).  The odd Weekend Special (Brenda Fassie) didn’t go amiss, either.

After a while, it was time to Beat It (Michael Jackson), take the Paradise Road (Joy) and Go West (Pet Shop Boys).  Not the best decision because Another one Bit(es) the Dust (Queen): a Careless Whisper (George Michael) Tainted Love (Soft Cell).  This time, Weeping (Bright Blue), she headed to Mannenberg (Abdullah Ebrahim/Dollar Brand) and found That Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen) that was Simply the Best (Tina Turner).

Love over Gold

It felt like Another Country (Mango Groove) in a Mad World (Tears for Fears) where Love is a Stranger (Eurythmics), Puttin’ on the Ritz (Taco), and so began another Walk of Life (Dire Straits).  It was totally Perfect (Fairground Attraction), for which there could be no Substitute (Clout) and best of all, in a Funky Town (Pseudo Echo) that would keep her Forever Young (Rod Steward and Alphaville).

That Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler) didn’t last.  He was a Karma Chameleon (Boy George).  It was time to go Out there on My Own (Irene Cara), and with London Calling (The Clash), she headed for Barcelona (Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé).  From then on, it was going to be all Livin’ la Vida Loca (Ricky Martin).  It was More than a Feeling (Boston).  It was definitely The End of the Road (Boyz II Men).  She told him Don’t Bring me Down (ELO) and Jump (Van Halen).  She took The Long Way Home (Supertramp) after what felt like The Crime of the Century (Supertramp).  No such thing as Love over Gold (Dire Straits).

The Husband and I, exchanging vows – 2002

Then, My Oh My (Van Halen), completely unexpectedly, at the end of a long Telegraph Road (Dire Straits) she found A Groovy Kind of Love (Phil Collins) that was full of Honesty (Billy Joel) that had her Dancing on the Ceiling (Lionel Ritchie).  Jabulani (PJ Powers) – happiness was the word.  She had found her Charlie (Rabbit) and he wasn’t a Man on the Moon (Ballyhoo).  He did want to Kiss her all Over (Exile) on a Bed of Roses (Bon Jovi).


Firstly, did you pick up the group, album, song title or lines from songs in the section headings?  If you didn’t this is each of them – in order:  Arrival – Abba; So you think your schooling is phony….is a line from Supertramp’s Crime of the Century (song and album); Men at Work – the band from Australia and, finally, Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold song and album.

Secondly, if you read last week’s post, yes, there is repitition….

Finally, as I said, I was hard pressed (notice the joke, those of you who remember vinyl) to choose just one.  I have favourites that apply at different times and others that I hated and now love.  I thought that in my revision, I might change things.  I haven’t.  I’ve added though, with the headings….

There are songs missing from this list and which I’d love to have included, like Johnny Clegg’s Asimbonanga (We have not seen him [Mandela]), but I really couldn’t work it in, but couldn’t leave it out, either.  It is up there with another evocative song from my youth, Bright Blue’s Weeping.  Both are iconic songs of the struggle against Apartheid.

However, I have saved my absolute favourite to the end.  It comes from one of the world’s greatest guitarists and whose music underpins virtually every stage of my life – from my teens, and until now.  Why this song?  I have no idea, but it resonated for me the first time I heard it in the summer of 1980.  At the time, I did not know that it was Santana, or the name of the tune – it’s instrumental.  It haunted me for years, and one of the first records I ever bought, was the Santana album that included this song.  I now have it on CD – the same album – along with a number of other Santana albums that are all precious and special for different reasons.  One of the memories and experiences I shall treasure forever, was seeing Santana live in South Africa – I had waited nearly 40 years.  It was worth the wait and every penny.  Especially when he played this.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised applications.

  • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

  • Join Hive using this link and then join us in the Silver Bloggers’ community by clicking on the logo.
Original artwork: @artywink
  • lastly, graphics are created using partly my own photographs and Canva.


Ducks, Drakes and Croc Socks

Today is the fourth Saturday of our enforced lockdown.  We should have been “free” yesterday.  Instead, last Thursday, they added another fourteen days to our enforced stay at home.  If one reads between the lines, as I have said, there’s no guarantee that 1 May 2020 will see emancipation.

I admit that yesterday was a difficult one.  The ick on village social media (again) highlighted the mean, dark side of humanity.  It insidiously wears one down.  Crises don’t always bring out the best in people.  Then I remembered my Irish blog pal’s challenge to find or create some humour to make each other smile.

That’s kinda hard when one’s feeling down.  Then I remind myself that others have it much harder than I.

Making friends in solitary confinement

A friend is literally in solitary confinement.

Unhappily, about the only humans she’s seen have been Messrs Plod.  That’s a story for another time, perhaps.  She has, though, created am army of pals.  Not imaginary ones.  Real ones that hang around the house and garden with her.

Asked for her favourites, she was hardpressed to choose between Shamus and Tut:

Shamus, the swiming pool sea monster.  Apparently, he’s very sweet.  Once you get to know him.

To Tut, I cannot do justice, I have to use her own words:

He used be a Pharaoh, like real important like. Now he’s a zombie mummy. He’s a very happy little guy with a wicked sense of humour.

Check out more of Pixie’s pals, pretty kitties and fabulous food on Instagram.  You might just spot the brass animals she snapped when she went on her garden safari.


Me, I’m just trying to keep my ducks in row.

I’ve not entirely succeeded.  Mr Drake and Ms Duck, are too busy playing boomps-a-daisy.  Duckling? Well, does what ducklings, do….

Practise what I preach?  Hell, yes no!

I have tried to practise my own freely offered advice, but not entirely succeeded.  I’m trying to cook with out wine cooking with less wine.  Hoping that the stash will outlast the enforced stay at home.

I did not cut my hair in anger.  I had to do a major repair job.

Three days into lockdown. Lopsided, bad hairday angry haircut (L). Running repairs a couple of days later (R).

Good thing, too, because suddenly I had a video conference.  I had to be respectable (at least from the waist up).  Beltrack pants that don’t stay up because they’re so comfortable that …

Cold toes + laziness = Crocs and socks. Never before seen outside The Sandbag House.

Now, that’s a confession. As is the fact that in the last three weeks, I have taken and shared more selfies than the entire time I’ve been on social media. Including this one of me dolled up for the video conference.

Me, above the Crocs and socks.

I suspect my friend and hairdresser will be politely disapproving of the hatchet job when she is actually freed to fix my head.

Oh, and guess what?  The video conference ended up being a webinar where the screen was never shared.  There I sat, lipstick and all.  For whom?  The Husband and the cats.


Anyhow, that selfie has become my profile picture for an online platform where I will be teaching English.

Speaking of our feline family:  Princess Pearli was off being the strumpet she is.  Stay at home doesn’t apply to her. Of course.

Gandalf?  Well, he is dealing with this whole lock down thing as only he can:

Until next time, keep your ducks in a row (or try) and be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

  • Corona Virus feature image: CDC on Unsplash
  • I’m participating in blogpal @tracyork’s April challenge of sharing a post every day during April – on the Hive blockchain. I succeeded last year – on Steemit from which the new blockchain “hived off”…
  • It seems a good way to constructively use the time during a compulsory lock down, right? For more about this initiative, please check out Traci’s post.

  • If you’d also like to both join the challenge and post from the WordPress platform to the Hive blockchain, sign up here.
  • I’m still blogging on Steem and more recently share my burbling on Uptrennd


Lockdown survivors’ guide

In the last two weeks I have written two long and very serious pieces about how people and the world are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. I will write another – to keep a promise. The first was ahead of the lock down.

Half way there?

South Africa is halfway through the period initially set for the country’s lock down. It’s not impossible that we might be forced to stay at home for longer than the 21 days that take us to just after Easter.

Last week, I reflected on how learning to live alone (again) and working from home can be applied to an enforced stay at home.

Ahead of our shutdown and all over the world, it seems, people’s brains fell out of their heads. I know mine did. I went shopping to discover no chicken to be had and when I got home, I added another packet of cornflour to the two (!) already there, among other crazy things…



Anyhow, as I said, we’re half way through our compulsory stay at home and the weather’s turning.

It occurred to me, now that we’re settling into a rhythm, to follow-up to my survivor’s guide to load shedding with a kinda, only half, tongue-in-cheek survivor’s guide to an enforced stay at home.

Fiona’s lock down survival guide

  • Pray the Internet never goes down.
  • Save toilet paper.
  • Ration the wine. *
  • Cut your own hair. If you must. But don’t do it in anger.
  • Stop smoking when the ciggies run out. *
  • Every time you see an item is nearly finished, put it on the shopping list – just in case you lose your brain again when you shop.
  • Save toilet paper.
  • Learn to make natural yeast (see the last but one point).
  • Send your friends virtual flowers.
  • Share a virtual toast – only one sip – with the guys and gals who are independently locked down.
  • Learn to cook without wine.
  • Hold a virtual dinner party: sharing pictures of one’s food is a sure fire way that they visit (or stay away) after lock down is lifted.
  • Try not to kill mother. Uncle Richie died. Auntie Doris is still alive.
  • Save toilet paper.

* In South Africa, the regulations prohibit the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

  • This is my cheeky entry into this month’s @yourtop3 contest – now on Hive.
    And before I get into more trouble, here is the list of my actual three must-haves while staying at home: Internet access, toilet paper, and, of course, wine! No explanations required….
    Read more about this month’s contest here
  • I’m participating in blogpal @tracyork’s April challenge of sharing a post every day during April – on the Hive blockchain. I succeeded last year – on Steemit from which the new blockchain “hived off”… and…
  • It seems a good way to constructively use the time during a compulsory lock down, right? For more about this initiative, please check out Traci’s post.

  • If you’d also like to both join the challenge and post from the WordPress platform to the Hive blockchain, sign up here.

Loadshedding survivors’ guide

In March, South Africa, was on the brink of a national electricity blackout.  And we are there again.  Why?  At the time, I said that the reasons are myriad and what one chooses to believe, also depends on to whom one listens.   Now, it seems, we are getting closer to the truth:  acknowledgement not just of the failure to follow through on routine maintenance, but also of the “success” of the project to systematically loot state owned enterprises through the project now known as “state capture”.  The Zondo Commission is unearthing hair raising facts.  The Auditor General is doing the same and his staff are feeling the heat.

This is good news

In March, for the best past of two weeks, there was no power for between two to five, sometimes more, hours a day, and I noted that it was likely, that similar outages will happen again over the next few years.  Well, it all began again last week and on Monday, the state-owned electricity utility went from stage 4 loadshedding to stage 6.  Stage 2 means that in McGregor, we are without power for between 2,5 and 5 hours in a 24 hour period, scheduled in 2,5 hour slots.  Stage 4 means that we are without power for 7,5 hours – also staggered.  Stage 6, we had no idea.  Suffice it to say that it was rather startling and the President has cut short a state visit to Egypt.

The March crisis was an act of God:  Hurricane Idai, damaged power lines in Mocambique that supply electricity to South Africa.  This time, it’s also weather related:  wet coal accompanied by heavier than normal rainfall and flooding.

In my original post on Steemit, I noted

The electricity crisis notwithstanding, I have long aspired to being self-sufficient and off the grid – as I explained in this interview, so at the first real opportunity, i.e. when we owned our own home, and had the money, we installed a solar geyser.  The next step was converting from electricity to cooking with gas.  In this instance, it was as much to do with the cooking experience as with the repeated electricity cuts – at cooking time.

In March, I developed a survivors’ guide to loadshedding and I thought it worth sharing again.  Now that I am beginning to recover my sense of humour.  It’s essential to survival:

Loadshedding survivors’ guide

  1. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
  2. Pour a glass of wine.
  3. Download – if you get your electricity direct from Eskom, the app.  Or the schedules from your municipality. Prior to this most recent rash, we had loadshedding in 2015.  I uninstalled the app a week before it struck in March;  I’ve kept it up to date since.
  4. Have a sip of wine.
  5. Keep your sense of humour.
  6. Pour a glass of wine
  7. Fish out the old Telkom phone that has a handset connected with a cord;  ensure that your stock of candles, lighting implements (matches, lighters, etc.) and solar jars are charged and close at hand.
  8. Have a sip of wine.
  9. Check the schedule and plan your day(s) in anticipation of the scheduled outage.
  10. Check the wine stash.
  11. Invite friends over and braai – timed for when the lights are off.
  12. Pour more wine.
  13. When it’s not practical (or sensible to have friends around and drink lots of wine):
  14. Cook by candles and solar jar (with wine).
  15. Clean:  cupboards the you’ve not cleaned for a gazillion years; sort through the old clothes that you’ve not worn for a gazillion years – throw them out or sort them for a jumble sale, clothing swop or charity shop.
  16. Pour another glass of wine.
  17. Make sure all your devices are charged:  assuming you’re using a laptop, and work for as long as you have juice.  Uninterrupted without Facebook, WhtasApp, Discord – yes, you know who you are – and Instagram
  18. Get the next bottle of wine.
  19. Fish out and start working on the projects that you haven’t worked on because you’ve been distracted by the social media (your phone).
  20. Pour another glass of wine.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

Originally posted in December 2019, but “re-constituted” for reasons I you will find here.

It’s also why some of the links may not work properly.  If you come across one, please do comment and let me know so that I can fix it.

My apologies if you feel you’re being spammed.  I’ve tried to stop the email notifications – will continue trying – but haven’t been successful….