Highlights of March

For other Highlights of the Month, click on:

World:

March sees the start of a really exciting ‘never been done before’ 10-week course offered partly online, partly over the television, by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, who also wrote The Power of Now and Stillness Speaks. They progress chapter-by-chapter through Tolle’s inspirational book A New Earth. What I find particularly cool about it, is that each episode (and its PDF transcript) can be downloaded free of charge from Oprah.com and that it is not illegal to make copies for friends and family.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide on 17 March – except this year, when the Catholic Church declares that it will be celebrated on 15 March, which is a Saturday. I learn to say Beannachtaí lá fhéile Pádraig daoibh!, which (I hope) means “Happy St Patrick’s Day to you all!”

Still on the Irish theme, I do some cartwheels of joy, as we finally, at last, book our flights to Ireland for September-October this year. Now we just have save up and pray that the appalling exchange rate improves. In trawling the web about traveling Ireland, I come across an article about an Irish politicians who made the preposterous proposal that Irish drivers will soon have to learn how to drive on the right, like the ‘rest of the world’. I seriously hope that this was written tongue-in-cheek and under the influence of one too many glasses of Guinness.

An article in the Sunday Times lists the 25 most popular blogs on the internet. One of them is the oddly named Lolcats. Each picture has a caption in a unique, phonetic SMS-like language called Lolspeak, based on the webspeak acronym for “Laugh out Loud” (LOL). It is a fantastic cure for a rough day at work – and this particular picture is perfect for a day when you are feeling under-the-weather.

And the second-last day of March sees the Zimbabwe elections. It is now almost the end of April, and the results are still not finalised. Or rather, ZANU-PF still refuses to accept that they have lost and that the MDC has won. In the meantime, that poor country has descended into ‘almost’ civil war, with the remaining white farmers being kicked out or threatened with it, and opposition supporters shot, killed, raped, beaten up, imprisoned, and forced to flee… and our pathetic leaders are still sitting on their hands and whining petulantly, “You really should stop that.” If Zim had any oil or any other resources the US wanted, you can bet the Yanks would be here in a heartbeat.

Nation:

Unpredictable load shedding continues to frustrate and annoy electricity consumers – domestic, commercial and industrial. On the first day, when the official and predictable load shedding schedules are meant to be implemented (31 March), there is a top-level emergency meeting between Eskom, industry, government and other important stakeholders. The schedules are temporarily suspended. Amazingly, all the people who phone the local radio station that morning whine and whinge about the fact that the load shedding is NOT happening. Are we a nation of whingers?

Neighbourhood:

We take two friends out to experience a superlative performance of improvisational Theatre Sports at the tiny Intimate Theatre in Gardens. The versatile team of actors divide their time between the Intimate Theatre (Monday nights) and the Kalk Bay Theatre (Tuesday nights). Can you imagine watching a film noir performed on stage that contains the line “My handbag is full of chickens”? Or “I can’t let go of my ankles”? We have such a blast, that, a week later, we take our two German visitors out to the picturesque little fishing village of Kalk Bay for a completely different performance of Theatre Sports. Rarely have we laughed so much and so loudly at a play. Go and see it!

While doing our weekly grocery shopping at the Howard Centre one Saturday morning, we are stopped in our tracks by two pamphlet-wielding energetic looking individuals who were promoting an organisation known as “ELATED”, which is an acronym for “Enhancing the Lives of Animals Through Ethical Decisions”. As I do feel strongly about animal rights and protecting the wellbeing of animals, I buy a voucher to ‘promise’ that I will not eat any animal products for a week.

We go shopping (unsuccessfully) for a new sleeper couch at the recently opened Northgate Island branch of Tafelberg Furnishers. It is a huge high-ceilinged warehouse with massive windows. All the walking around tires us out, and so we try out the massage chairs on display. They are really great – but I still prefer the human touch.

A family member sends me an email about a brilliant new concept for a an exciting new car wash. I wonder what would happen if they opened a franchise in Pinelands, which is often unflatteringly referred to by jealous outsiders as the suburb of “the newly wed and the nearly dead”.

I am a frequent visitor at the local Oude Molen farmstall, where the cute foals are really entertaining to watch. I love my neighbourhood, so it is really upsetting when there is an armed robbery at MY local Spar. This shakes me up pretty badly. This is just a month after the local police station has relocated to the back-end of beyond.

Home:

We impress two visitors from Germany by our creativity in handling power outages with the aid of a gas cooker, a plethora of candles, and a complicated setup of battery-charger, deep-cycle battery, inverter and extension leads. All of us with great gusto consume the delicious pancakes that my beloved magically produces on the gas stove.

One sunny afternoon, while playing around in the garden with my camera, I take a lucky snapshot of a butterfly being stalked by a preying mantis on a sprig of flowering lavender. And a few days later, when I come home from work, I finally find out who’s been poohing all over our patio: two big noisy hadedas with scary pointy beaks.

I come across an article that asserts that it is possible to learn to be more compassionate. Apparently research done in the US at the University of Wisconsin-Madison using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain suggests that compassion can be learned, rather like acquiring a skill. They are studying what happens to the brains of those who consciously practice compassion meditation, like Buddhist monks, for instance. As I don’t have the time to meditate for many hours in a row, days and weeks and months at a time, I wonder how long it will take us mere mortals to learn compassion?

Movies:

This month, we watch an eclectic crop of movies: a dreadful 2005 action film 7 Seconds, with countless scenes of gratuitous violence; a fictionalised period piece of the early life of Jane Austen; Becoming Jane; a 2007 children’s fantasy The Dark is Rising, which we really enjoy; a very odd and slow-moving 2004 Australian movie Oyster Farmer, whose cover claims that it was “the best movie to come out of Australia in 2004” (perhaps because there weren’t any others?); a fairly old romantic movie dating back to 1999, Random Hearts, starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead roles; and what all three of us (hubby, cat and me) unanimously agree has been the most boring and ponderously lethargic movie we have ever seen – Silk, which cannot even be rescued by the luscious and vivacious Keira Knightley as the leading lady. Hubby goes to see two movies that are part of the Exploring Consciousness Film Festival – Greg Bradden’s The Science of Miracles and Masaru Emoto’s Messages from Water. Is this a marriage of science and mysticism – or not?

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