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That says it all!

We’ve moved to our Dream Home!

20140812-230420-83060307.jpg

Come hang out at:
www.pawpawandmango.com
There’s room for you. ūüėÄ

A Culture shift

Following CNN’s award of the 5th sexiest accent to Nigerians, I suspect change will be coming our way very soon.

Here’s the tongue-in-cheek comment;

Famous tongues: King Sunny Adé, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Dignified, with just a hint of willful naivet√©, the deep, rich ‚Äúoh‚Äôs‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúeh‚Äôs‚ÄĚ of Naija bend the English language without breaking it, arousing tremors in places other languages can‚Äôt reach. Kinda makes the occasional phone scam worth the swindle.

Don’t mind them, we are not phone-scammers.

Do you think we may at last start to feel comfortable with our accent? I watched a Nigerian movie at a friend’s barbecue a couple of weeks ago. It was a¬†Yoruba¬†movie with subtitles in English. The entire movie was cringe-worthy especially when they kept spelling many English words with an “l” inserted in it. Dealth. Belthday. A guest explained to me it was the “aso” way of speaking. Dealth. Okay o!

I attended my friends baby dedication on Sunday. It was a proper naija affair, packed with hundreds of people with aso-ebi to go. You see, the fan-fare was necessary as the twins were waited for for 16 long years. An awesome, emotional testimony indeed. I noticed quite a few of us had on English dresses topped with burgundy¬†gele. I’m so loving it and have started to¬†acquire a collection of geles for future events.

The boys are back at school, yes school runs have begun. Child #2 will be going camping next week for 5 days. To remind you, child#2 is the fashion conscious, it-boy. I have threatened to pack up some eba and banga soup to take with him.

You should see his face, I keep a straight face whenever the conversation comes up.

So mum what am I taking to camp?

Sweets, biscuits and of course Eba and banga soup.

Mum! I can’t take Eba to camp!

Why? Are you ashamed of your culture?

No, of course not. It’s just that I’ll look¬†weird.¬†

Do you look weird when you eat sandwiches?

No, but it’s..

Ehen! Nothing weird about eba and banga soup. You love it abi? Or do you want me to stop making it?

No, but…

That settles it then. Eba to camp!

It is very hard to keep a straight face but I’m able to pull it off every time! He believes me. I hear him mumbling to his brothers about it. A few minutes later he comes back.

How am I going to warm it?

That’s true, I didn’t think of that. You can eat it o the coach on the way to camp.

Horrified look!

Yep! I’m on a mission to increase cultural awareness, what better place to start than at home?

Thanks so much for reading!

Glossary:

aso: Westernised Nigerian, usually used as a form of ridicule

gele: African head-gear- quite sizeable

aso-ebi: Outfits made from matching fabric to be worn by a group of people to an event

Eba: Staple food eaten in parts of west Africa, sticky, heavy and very filling

Banga: Nigerian soup made from palm kernels. Whatever you do don’t get some on your clothes while you eat!

Business News Today…

It’s my 100th post!!!!!

I am very thrilled to post my 100th blog post on Pawpaw and Mango. I am even more pleased that you have stuck with my sporadic, random ramblings, your interest means so much to me and I thank you most sincerely.

So what do I write about? I want to share a part of my journey that I mention quite often, my business.

I don’t know if they are made or born but I know for sure running a business didn’t come naturally to me. I can tell you about a good number of my weaknesses- reasons I should not be doing what I do. Rather I want to share some of my challenges and how they have evolved over the years.

Emails.

Emails should never have been a challenge in the first place (except with their unlimited storage, the guys at Gmail have made me averse to deleting emails hence my 17,506 unread emails in my inbox. Yeah.) So my first emails when I started out in business went something like this:

Dear Mrs Blah,

Thank you for your order. Our customer service line is open from 9- 5:30pm should you have any queries, have a good day.

Yours sincerely

Kelly

Customer Services representative

Name of Company.

Then I came to understand that I needed to differentiate my emails from the perfunctory ones sent by department stores in Bond Street, like John Lewis. I was told people like to hear the sound of their names and have a more personal interaction. So email format changed to:

Dear Mrs Blah,

We are so glad you ordered your baby’s cot from us. We trust that little Miss blah is sleeping comfortably in it. Mrs Blah, we would love to assist you again in the¬† future Mrs Blah and hope you shop with us again, Mrs Blah. Thanks so much Mrs Blah, have a nice day Mrs Blah.

Kindest regards,

Kelly

I needed no one to tell me it was overkill. And then with the recession and businesses closing down, more and more people started to shop online. Not only was competition becoming rather stiff but consumers yearned for the personal contact once enjoyed. Consequently emails changed to:

Dear Mrs Blah,

Thank you for shopping with us. We are working hard to fulfil your needs beyond your expectations and would like you to send us your comments on our products or services. Also, we’ll send you a free gift voucher if you suggest us to your friends. They will get a voucher too. Please join our Facebook page on … and we invite you to follow us on twitter. Have you signed up for our newsletter? If not you can do so on our homepage (link). Finally please let us know if … And on and on I went.

I have since shortened my emails considerably; they are relevant, friendly and to the point. Plus this new-found confidence in who I am allows me to use my real name and not Kelly. Or Zara. Or Joelle or any of those names I wish my mother had named me.

Refunds

I hate refunds- I don’t like requesting them because it means I am unhappy about my purchase. Worse than that though is issuing refunds. I really, really hate that. I would much rather not have sold the goods in the first place. I detest it so much that I don’t let it linger. If a customer purchases an item that is out of stock or damaged or unsuitable for any reason, I give a refund within minutes of the request. Why let the pain drag on?

At the store we don’t give refunds for custom-made items and our terms and conditions clearly state that. So when Mrs Pain* returned item number 1 because she didn’t “quite like it”, I wasn’t perturbed. After all it wasn’t made just for her. I suggested some other alternatives as I always do but no, she wasn’t happy. I didn’t give a refund immediately this time because her second custom-made item was on its way to her. You see I had a bad feeling right from the start. I wish I had gone with my instincts and not offered to customise her second item for her. Needless to say it arrived over the weekend and she wasn’t happy either. I wasn’t surprised. So it was with a bitter-sweet feeling that I processed her refund a few minutes later. It’s not so bad these days as I rarely get complaints about the quality of products, I take the view that my items are great but just not right for that person at that particular time.

Shipping

This one has¬† the potential to cripple my day- if and when it goes wrong. What hasn’t gone wrong with our shipping? Missing items, check. Damaged items, check. Items damaged on purpose with a hammer, check. Illiterate drivers that don’t understand English and therefore cannot tell left from right on their sat nav, check. Items turning up more than a month after it was mailed, check. I could go on but I won’t. The thing about shipping is that a good shipper is hard to find, but once you find one, hold on tight and never, ever let go.

Social Media

This one is new. Yes I created a twitter account back in 2008 but didn’t do anything with it. Facebook was courtesy of Suzy. Linkedin, I don‚Äôt even know how I got on but somehow I ended up there. Thanks to my business mentor you can find me (with my picture!!!) on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. The twitter one was rough going, I still struggle to understand why we are limited to 140 characters. Plus I had and still have a couple of pychos following me. Once psychotic behaviour is exhibited, I click the block button. Simple.

Marketing

I have written about my feelings towards sales and advertising here and here. My marketing used to be limited to placing a few leaflets in shops. I hated doing that at the beginning because I don’t like rejection. Maybe mum and dad spoiled me and gave me everything, but I don’t quite know how to handle rejection. So when I ask very nicely if I can place my flyers in your store for your customers as they would find it relevant, and you say “NO!”, I tend to run and hide. I am a lot better now thankfully. My marketing these days consists of- but not limited to- running away from advertisers and magazines. Yes they call me every day! I Thank God for caller display. I don’t mind advertising when budget allows it, and in fact I need to but I hate being sold to.

Competition

One of them left a bad taste in my mind as she stole images and text off my website, which was my introduction to “the competition”. I have since forgiven her (I hope) and have even added some (other) competitors to my network on LinkedIn. I tell them I admire their work and have sent some of my customers to them if I’m out of stock on a particular item. I learned that from Tony Heisch, The oh-so-cool Zazzle CEO.

That’s all for now folks!

Thanks so much again for reading, I am so glad to be back to blogsville! Missed y’all!

Bus 227

I’m on the bus on my way to work. I love going to work, I have to peel myself away from my desk each evening and the only reason I leave is because my beautiful family is at home waiting for me. Most days during my bus ride I busy myself building and connecting with my¬†LinkedIn¬†network or attempting to tweet something short and sensible. ¬†Twitter is still a struggle because I’m not a woman of¬†abbreviated¬†words or¬†sentences. Facebook, I have been running away from since I shouted from the rooftops that the new site was going to be launched today so I’ve chosen to bury my head in the sand and pretend I am not even aware that I uttered those words.

I sit at the back today as I must sleep. I haven’t had more than 6 hours sleep in total over the last 48hours, and I don’t function well in a sleep-deprived state. I have taken to drinking cold coffee- Espresso is too bitter to gulp down so I end up letting it sit. I have also cut down on my sugar intake thanks to Akunna, so the coffee tastes horrible. I can’t sleep because the engine is vibrating rather noisily, particularly when it stops and starts to move again. So I toy with the idea of moving to another seat but can’t be bothered to. A well-dressed lady gets on the bus with her pushchair. She rummages through her bag and finds her bus ticket, but it isn’t valid. She reaches for her purse and hasn’t got enough change. She then has to walk the length of the bus to exit with her pushchair. ¬†don’t have any cash on me so I can’t help her. I wonder what sort of life she has. Is she broke? Does she have money problems or is it just one of those days?

The fat lady in the green, floral dress is on her mobile ¬†phone chatting¬†excitedly. I can’t hear the gist besides “you must tell him!” and I really can’t be bothered to today. ¬†Two teenage boys come on the bus and take their place next to me. They are in uniform but I don’t want to ask why they are not at school during school hours, who wants to be stabbed? I¬†realize¬†my presumption of these two boys whom I know nothing about is rather negative. My thoughts go to my dear, dear friends who lost their 14-year-old son 2 weeks ago. I won’t go into that. I drag my thoughts back to the 2 boys and wonder if they are good boys like my friend’s late son. I decide to listen in on their¬†conversation, they don’t swear or talk about sex, neither do they brag about how good they are compared to some other boy in their class. I think I really must sleep as Helen is coming around to help me with my marketing- I need to be on full alert as she is full of ideas.

I decide that if I get up only to sit somewhere else the boys might think I was running away from them. I keep eyeing the empty seat two rows ahead and decide to make my move, who cares what they think? Silly me, someone else grabs it. There is another in front of one of the boys. But what if ¬†he stabs me from behind? While I’m sleeping? I finally make my move for a different seat when an older gentleman gets of the bus. At last. But wait, someone else comes on and stats to walk towards me. He looks a hot mess! He cannot possibly be normal I tell myself. He stinks andI pray silently that he doesn’t sit next to me. He sits behind me instead. Now I really can’t sleep because what if he pulls my hair? I mean what if he pulls my hair very tightly after winding the braids around my neck twice?¬† Didn’t he have a crazed look in his eyes as he walked past me? I know I must share the gospel with him but I quietly decline.

I start to plan my day, although it is only 10 in the morning, I might only be able to function for 2 hours. You wouldn’t know that to look at me. It’s one of those days where I look good and I’ll be happy to meet John Legend, my crush on him hasn’t ended. I look up the thesaurus for a new word that describes the sharp taste of coffee and I come across Piquancy. I like the way the word sounds so I use it in a facebook status update.

Finally the bus comes to my stop. I start to work slowly up the hill as I don’t want to use up any more energy than I need to. Today will be ¬†good day, I just know it. The website isn’t up but it will be good.

And it was good! No website yet, nearly there but it was hugely productive and fun. Especially when Helen and I sat in the park under the sun and devoured a loaf of yummy coconut cake. I feel blessed.

Please like our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thepunkinpatch so you can be alerted when we arrive at Nirvana.

Thank you for reading. Thanks to the lovely Myne who unwittingly dragged me back to blogsville, and to the sweet,  health-conscious Akunna who has made me aware of what I consume. Thanks too to the glamorous Helen, my sister-friend for a great day yesterday!

Have a blessed day!

Steps

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tsu

Last week was a rather overwhelming one, physically. It all started when I decided to spend 11 uninterrupted hours last Saturday working on our new website- it looks simply amazing if I can say that myself! We are moving onto a new super- duper platform and iits like going to school allover again. I have been going to bed with html codes and various image editing softwares swiming in my head. Anyway, after my stint I was surprised at not feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, you know the way you’re supposd to after you have done a lot of productive work. That feeling was carried into Monday, the start of the week. At the time I thought perhaps it was because I did just one task. It was unbroken and unvaried, maybe that’s why it didn’t feel like I had done much. Nonetheless I still felt burdened as the week wore on.

On Wednesday the Lord gave me a vision. A simple picture of a person (me) walking on a mapped out path with round stone slabs. It is a winding road and there’s nothing but fresh green grass on either side. The yellow daffodils swaying in the gentle breeze are a sight to behold, ¬†pretty. In the distance the path leads to a beautiful house on the hill, the only possible destination. I keep stopping and looking up to see how much further I need to go. That was when it hit me. Rather than taking one step at a time, I look ahead and see the seemingly insurmountable task ahead. I keep looking at the big picture and feeling discouraged because although I have come a long way- evidenced by the long path behind me- I am impatient and want to get to my destination, like right now!
Yesterday, following my boycott of the suddenly expensive Tesco, my quest led me to Lewisham in south London. Here you can get fresh vegetables and meat at much lower prices. I parked the car a distance from the shops and did quite a bit of shopping. As I walked back to the car with my purchases I longed for one of those trolleys the senior folks use. It was the bags holding yams in my right hand for the week’s planned yam peppersoup, the plantains that will go nicely with rice and stew, the pounded yam meant for monday’s efo riro and the large bag of onions. My left hand held my bags of meat- neck of lamb, goat, chicken and kidney, coconut milk, okro and spices. I looked in the distance and saw the car park so far away. I decided to look down and keep walking knowing I will eventually arrive- that’s just my coping mechanism folks. I don’t like pain or discomfort! I took my mind off the journey and planned out the rest of the day- doing my hair and eyebrows and suddenly I had arrived!
I learned some valuable lessons;

I have learned to stop to appreciate the journey. It is not a race to get ‘there’ the fastest. There is so much beauty on either side of our lives that we need to be thankful for. Yes pollen may bring you hayfever but if that’s all you choose to see, that’s all you’ll be ‘enjoying’.

Take one step at a time. There is no other way to arrive than to take it step by step. Place your vision in front of you but you have to focus on taking the next step.

Stop and relax. Yes I am a busy mum/wife/business woman but that doesn’t mean my life has to mirror a¬†roller-coaster¬†ride- which I think may be part of the problem- I love excitement, but it is necessary to stop to recharge, take a breath, and energize myself. Life is what happens when you are busy making plans. I certainly don’t want my life “happening away”.

So as I look forward to the start of a new week, I do so with the knowledge that I will arrive at my destination. All I need to know is what step I’ll be taking tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

Have a blessed week, thank you for reading!

 

Inspire Me!

I finally started the new blog I’ve been going on about. It is called InspireMe as I hope it will be an inspiration to all who visit. Please visit and subscribe here: http://wp.me/1ePG6

I hope your Sunday is going beautifully well. Mine is. Except that I am in such a lazy mood and can’t believe Monday is here already! The boys break up from school this week, I haven’t planned anything fun for them, we’ll be going to see some family movies and might make it to Lapland. Last year we went to winter wonderland and I was certain I had frost-bite and my entire being would become gangrenous. Thank God we survived. We did spot one man jogging in a T shirt and shorts in a sub-zero temperature. Some people are just mad. I don’t like the cold-at all. I don’t visit friends without my socks in case their home is cold. As a matter of fact I would rather go hungry than cold. How do I deal with winter? Well you know how some gurus offer these classes where they have their students walk on hot coals to overcome their fears? They get across the coals by chanting; “cold wet grass, cold wet grass!” Well I chant “hot red sun, hot red sun”! If I can make it to March I’ll be fine. And if I can get past December so that in January I can say next month winter ends….

Have a blessed week!

Today

Today will be a good day. I will return from church and kick my shoes off, having been in pumps for all of 3 hours. I will walk barefoot to the kitchen with confidence as dear hubby cleaned it before we left. I will light my kiwi scented candle and proceed to make dinner, it will be Jollof¬†Rice, Fried Plantain and Roast Duck. As I bend down to pull out the pot, The 10-year-old will walk in and rubbing my shoulders affectionately will ask “What’s for dinner mum? I’m hungry”.

The 9-year-old¬†will come in almost immediately and ask “Mum when will you sort out my PSP?”¬† This question will coincide with¬†the 10 year old’s¬†repeat of his question.

I will make a concerted effort to answer both children at the same time while closing my ears to number’s 4’s screams in the sitting room as number 3 and he compete¬†to see¬†who can do the flip the fastest. Number¬†4 doesn’t realise he’s only 2, he thinks he is 4 or 5. I will wash my rice to the background sounds of the 9-year-old telling me about the Charles Dickens’s movie he watched yesterday. His narrative¬†will be regularly punctuated with “guess what happened next mum?” To which I must reply “What?”

He will call my attention to look at the way the child’s leg was bent, he shows when he tells. I will then comment on his narrative, and give him a life lesson or two from the gory tales.

I will beg the two boys to give me a minute so I can type something on the laptop. I will go to Pawpaw and Mango to attempt to finish updating today’s post. Child number 4, the 2-year-old¬†will then rush in¬†gleefully to¬†switch my laptop off. I will clench my jaw and thank God for His gifts to me. I will decide to wait until he falls asleep. In the meantime I’ll go and watch Colombo with the older boys. Hubby will be somewhere in the house, perhaps on the phone to his buddy discussing the upcoming match between Arsenal and whoever, while eating a bowl of cereal. Hubby likes his cereals.

He will ask me if he can quickly check on an update on a sports station, it won’t be more than 2 minutes. I will get up to check on my Duck sizzling away in its own oil in the hot oven. I will forget about Colombo and go to the room to go back on the laptop since number 4 seems engrossed in his play. At that point he will start screaming “Stinky, Stinkyyyyy!” He needs a nappy change or needs to use the potty. The 6-year-old¬†will remind me about the adaptor for his keyboard, I was supposed to have replaced it by now. He will tell me all about Sunday school and how well-behaved¬†he was and that he answered all questions correctly. Chances are that it would lead to¬†an account on how he answers questions in class at school, but Todd doesn’t. He will tell me Emilia is very annoying and his best friend is now Tristan. This in turn will lead to what Tristan loves to eat at lunch. I will at this point stop him from talking too much.

I will call my friend Justjoxy¬†to get an update on her day and to update her on mine. I will call Kenny in Minnesota (like I mean to do every Sunday). I will call Tolu as well as Shade and Lara. I will not be calling Bukky¬†because she’ll be busy, we’ll catch up in the week. I hope to catch up with Tola too.

Our dinner will be like no other, very lovingly prepared and so tasty too. While having dinner I will regret not buying coke when I went shopping yesterday. I will lie down to read Rich Minds, Rich Rewards-¬†again. After that I’ll grab my planner, pic shown below and plan my day tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be busy. I have to attend to two enquiries from the UAE, the customer whose custom-made¬†valance did not fit her daughter’s bed and is now worried that¬†said child’s¬†bedroom will not be ready for the¬†her 4th¬†birthday, ¬†I will chase up a missing chandelier as well as an old invoice payment that has gone AWOL, I will send a gift voucher to the customer whose stepstool¬†arrived broken-twice -yet sent us a nice comment,¬†that makes me smile ūüôā I will update the PP Blogs and prepare Tuesday’s newsletters.
 

But that’s tomorrow. Today, I will enjoy and rejoice in; it is the day the Lord has made.

I hope your Sunday is restful and filled with all the goodness God has in store for you!

Toks Goes to The West Country (Actually Beyond)

So there I sat on the coach. I arrived at the station in the nick of time and the only seats available were towards the back, a few rows away from the bathroom. I scanned the area and quickly noticed that it was packed with students which was little wonder as my destination was a university town. I looked forward to 3 1/2 hours of uninterrupted reading.¬†I’m excited about my book. The front cover has a handsome man and a pretty woman, they make a great couple. I think it’ll be a good book. The story line seems good. It was then I noticed him:

The coach is full of students but why is there an older,¬†bearded gentleman on it?¬† He is Asian and fits “The Profile”. I start to get nervous as he gets up for the umpteenth time to use the bathroom. Why on earth¬†do you need the bathroom so early, we only just left.¬†He is wearing a long puffer jacket, at first I wonder why he has to be the only one wearing a long coat, then I notice we are all wearing one but then everyone’s is short. Okay mine is long but no, it isn’t puffed. I start to type texts to dear friends and family to inform them of my impending demise. I type faster as I noticed another man a couple of rows in front¬†staring suspiciously at the¬†bearded man¬†as he returns to his seat. The minute this man sits down a younger Asian man gets up and goes to the bathroom. Five Minutes later I turn to look at the bathroom¬†to see if smoke has started bellowing out from beneath the door. It hasn’t- yet. In the meantime¬†I start to wonder what role I’ll play. I would like to be the hero. The one who tackled him to the ground. Or the one who was bold enough to voice her suspicions to the coach driver, but not the mug who blew a false alarm now labelled racist or Islamist (that’s what it should be called).

I try to settle into my book. It is promising, but too many characters are being introduced and¬†in rapid succession. I think the author should not have used names that are too similar like Melba and Shelby, it’s a struggle to keep up and I hope it’s a good read. It’s all I have with me-¬†reading Success Magazine(which I brought for back-up) sometimes gives¬†me the feeling of being at work.

Would I sell my story to The Sunday Times? Of course, I have no plans to die (not that you plan these things- except you favor euthanasia). I wonder how much they’ll pay as the hero who stopped the bomb from going off?¬† But what if I don’t make it? I’m jolted back to reality as a smartly dressed¬†man with red hair rushes towards the bathroom. He doesn’t make it and pukes right in front of the door. Ugh!! He finishes puking and stands upright looking around like a complete idiot. About now everyone is busy covering their noses. I fight the urge to tell him he needs to wipe a bit of puke stuck to his goatee. And I win, urge slowly retreats. The guy now has to walk the length of the coach to “report” himself to the driver. Wine is indeed a mocker. He says to you; “here, just a little more, so what if you get drunk? (moron)”

We make an unscheduled stop at a bus garage to have the coach cleaned. It was at this point that I had nothing but praise for the British Transport system. I remember years ago when my cousin Gbemi¬†and I had to walk miles back home from Hyde Park. It was new year’s eve (I think) and buses were few and far between. We finally caught bus 32, only to have an inebriated passenger spill out the contents of his stomach. We were all bundled off the bus and told the bus was “no longer in service” and we walked all the way home.

As I get back in line to get back on the coach, I silently pray that I don’t end up near the bathroom or near the drunk. I think everyone is praying along with me- for their own sakes. Thankfully I don’t. But I end up right behind the younger Asian man who was in the bathroom for 10 minutes. He starts talking excitedly to the young lady beside him. I hear Jesus Christ. I hear Church. Before long I realise he is sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus with her.

I look at my book, and now¬†know where the adage comes from…

Thank you for reading, do come back!

A Brief History of Words (and Phrases)

Words are powerful. You may have heard that statement before. It suggests that when you speak out loud or make a verbal declaration, there is a high chance of it coming to pass. In some cultures, words carry a very heavy weight. It¬†says that you are responsible for the words you say, so be extremely careful as you could very easily find yourself directly or indirectly responsible for someone else’s death.

Words also have a life of their own. I realise that because there are words that have lived with me from as far back as I can remember, refusing to let go. I am able to recall the very first time I heard the word:

Risky

I was about 6 at the time and my family had just returned from an¬†out-of-town¬†weekend. Upon our return we discovered the live crocodile (or an alligator, can’t remember which) that someone had left us.¬†Needless to say we were baffled and¬†terrified. They had¬†left it in a tall wooden crate so that¬†the head and tail both reached up the sides;¬†part of¬†the belly lay in the middle.¬†I remember my cousin Wole holding me up to have a peek, I grabbed the sides of the crate to have a better look and he said; “Careful Toks, it’s risky“. That was the first time I heard that word. We later found out that in that part of the country it was considered the highest honour to receive a crocodile as a gift. Apparently Dad had saved some person’s life and they were just being er…thankful. At the risk of starting an animal rights invasion to Nigeria, I’ll let you know that the Croc was left to die as my parents rightly feared for our lives.

Repose

I heard this word for the first time¬† years ago when dad announced he had arranged a mass for my grandpa who died in 1982. What’s the point of having a church service for a man who died so long ago I asked. ¬†His response? For the repose of his soul. I asked what¬†¬†repose meant. He explained but I don’t remember.¬†No plans to add that to my vocabulary.

Woe Betide you.

A boarding house special. ‚ÄúWoe betide you if my bed sheets are not bright white after you have washed them‚ÄĚ. ¬†“Woe betide you if you do not bring my diner in from the dining hall.‚ÄĚ Woe betide you this, woe betide you that. Senior Funmi comes to mind here. For the longest time I thought this ugly phrase was a slang and not a real word. I also though the ‚Äúbetide‚ÄĚ was spelled betie as senior Funmi and others dropped the “d”. Today I still wonder who came up with the word anyway. It is one of those words that you can’t figure out the meaning unless you already knew what it meant. As it turns out it is not part of my vocabulary.

Massaged the truth

I love this one, credit to President Obama. It was his description of what was done to the weapons of mass destruction report carried out by the Bush administration. I keep meaning to use it but I forget. I also feel sorry for the next few people I’ll be speaking with as I’ll be sure¬†to worm that phrase into our conversation. Somehow. Anyhow.

Now I haven’t the faintest idea why I chose to¬†put up¬†a post on words¬†but I thank you for stopping by to read. Plus of course the fact that you are reading this means a mass is not being held for you, that‚Äôs something to smile about isn‚Äôt it? Have a lovely rest of the day!

The Nigerian Bomber Edition

I was the queue at the Department store today waiting to pay for my items when this woman a few yards away started shouting to the checkout assistants;

“Hey girl! hey girl!”

The woman in her sixties had a very strong Nigerian accent; she wore ankara with a turtle neck sweater on the inside and a long coat on the outside. Her gele was tied in a way that completely covered her ears.

“Hey you girl, hey you!” She¬†continued very loudly. “Have you got Longjohns?!”

Pardon? The assistant had¬†a can’t-you-see-I’m-serving others-attitude along with a why-don’t you-come-closer-so-you-don’t-have-to-shout? look.

Me? Embarrassed, but only slightly. I wavered between thoughts of directing her to Uni Qlo where thermals are sold, costing me my place in the queue and staying put, hoping she stopped her¬†shouting. I chose the latter.¬† I chose the latter because thanks to Mutallab I have not been in a very patriotic mood. I have not been too keen¬†on aligning myself with fellow Nigerians, even if it was just to offer help. I thought of ways in which I could successfully fly under the radar. From reverting to my maiden name and a first name I’m not fond of, to claiming Ghana as my motherland. At least the Ghanaians are a calmer bunch. They don’t shout, brag or do 419 (not that much anyway). I will be sad to curb¬†my enthusiastic association with¬†¬†Nollywood, Ovation magazine and designer ¬†rice ¬†and stew, but at least I enjoyed it when it lasted. Since I don‚Äôt attend Naija parties, I won’t be missing 40 year old bald men in tight jeans trying desperately to look 23, or the Naija-London babes with weaves down to their bums almost wearing shimmering¬†mini-dresses. I look forward to the mouth-watering culture of Kenkey and shito, I binged on it while I was pregnant with child #4 so I‚Äôm well versed. I will also¬†finally¬†learn how to speak Twi, that way Suzy and I can at last gist to the exclusion of all others present.

 In the end I chose not to deny my people, instead I will face up to the fact that hailing from a country where one person chose to have  illogical idealolgies that resulted in him attempting to blow up NWA flight 243  is not the worst thing in the world. It is just one individual. Nigerians are not only shocked but dismayed and are certainly not in support of that sort of behavior. Come to think of it the population of the country is so high, the odds are there will be at least one nut-case. In fact I think we’ve done quite well 1 terrorist in every 151,319,500 people isn’t that bad, statistically speaking if the only requirement for being a terrorist was to be a Nigerian, and all the world was Nigeria, we would have a grand total of 44 terrorists in the entire world.

After paying for my goods I felt guilty that I didn’t help mama. Thankfully I found her in another part of the store and gave her very clear directions on where to find Longjohns. Not only that but I said goodbye to her with ‚ÄúGod bless you ma‚ÄĚ and the sweetest smile, you know how we love respect! ¬†It felt good.

Totally Random & Unrelated, Not Even Close

When I meet someone nice for the first time, I exchange phone numbers, email addresses,¬†etc. I do so with every intention of staying in touch because I enjoyed our conversation, I think they are lovely and would add to my life and I would love to add value to theirs too.¬†I always add a warning though, I tell them recognising faces is not my strongest point. So if you ever see me walk right past you in public as though I have chosen to “blank” you, actually I haven’t. I simply did not recognise you.

Dear friend Bolatito always had my back when we went out and ran into people we knew. She would say to me; “Toks, the one in the red shirt we know, the one in black we do not know”. I can’t think of the number of guys who thought I was making a pass at them because I smiled at them. I¬†have been known to hug perfect strangers, ugh!

So there I sat at the hairdressers chatting with a really nice lady. It turned out that her son is a well known Christian artist. Not only that but she was married to Maxi Priest’s brother.¬† (Remember Maxi Priest- cute looking¬†80s Reggae/R & B singer with dreadlocks? I just wanna be close to you). Now Hubby and I watched him perform on TV recently after a long hiatus¬†and were surprised to see his new look- dreadlocks all gone, in a suit with a new single. So I told this nice lady at the salon (in the spirit of showing off, and ¬†I’m in the know) that Maxi Priest looked nice with his new look.

‚ÄúNew look?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúYes, you know without his dreadlocks‚ÄĚ, I replied with confidence.

“Maxi Priest hasn’t cut his hair off” she replied, “has he?”

She had this bewildered look that said why would a total stranger know something that I don’t?

“He’s been growing that hair since he was 13! He wouldn’t do that!” She says with disgust. So I call hubby to confirm. Who promptly told me that the singer we watched was not Maxi Priest but Maxwell- another¬†R&B¬†singer with hair.

My back was turned to her and I asked hubby; ‚Äúwhere do I now put my face? I’ve just been arguing with Maxi’s sister-in-law!‚ÄĚ

It was with great confidence that I turned to her, cleared my throat and admitted that I was wrong and that it was in fact¬†Maxwell I was referring to. Of course at this time I wish I hadn’t gone on and on about how nice he looked with his haircut. I¬† went to great lengths to assure her that I loved her brother-in-law and loved the dreads too. I don’t know¬†how well I did there.¬†Not that it¬†matters, I didn’t ask¬†for her¬†phone number or email address. So if I “blank” her¬†next time I¬†see her it won’t really matter.¬†Or would it?

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

www.punkin-patch.com

Employment 101

Some people have a job history, others just have the one job for life, others still work at home raising kids or from home running a business. Mine is quite a history. In fact I suspect my first few jobs instilled the distrust I carry around for sales people today. See post on salesmen here.

My very first job was in¬†a country where teenagers work- England. The thought of working at the age of 17 was both ludicrous and exciting.¬†So as I came across the ad for what I thought was a telephone canuasser (the writing on the display window was bad and the¬†v looked like a u) I felt I could handle it, whatever that job meant. How hard can it be? I can dial, I can¬†talk. The pay was ¬£3.00 per hour and the job entailed going through a list of some 100 names,¬† calling each one and telling them “wow, your name was picked out of our draw and you have just won a trip to Turkey!” I had to sound excited and genuinely pleased that¬†the gods were¬†indeed in¬†their favor as they ¬†had ‘won’ this all expense paid trip to a dingy Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Turkey. I worked 3 hours per day and on my 3rd day I was “let go” as ‘head office’ decided to cut costs by closing the East London Office.

“We have to let you go Toks.” It was the first time I had heard that phrase.

“No, I’m fine you don’t have to let me go, I like it here.”

“You don’t understand- head office have decided to cut costs…”

Ahh! So that’s what let go means.¬† They¬†told me they would stop by the next evening with my pay of¬† ¬£21.00.¬† Besides learning the new term of being dismissed, by the end of the week I also learned¬† through experience a new word- ‘Naivet√©’¬† as they never showed up with my ¬£21.00.

I got my next job a few days later working for a double glazing company. This was where I learned that “commission based” was a euphemism for “voluntary”. That job lasted all of 2.5 hours.¬†It was in 1990, the year of the worst winter for 27 years and the snow reached close to my knees. We were told to knock on doors¬†asking for an appointment for potentially free Double Glazing. With the assurance that¬†most sales men in the company¬†secured a minimum of 4 appointments daily and at the rate of ¬£25 per¬†appointment, it was a steal.

Armed with visions of my new car,¬†new wardrobe and ¬†house I trudged along expecting to have 10 appointments that evening. ¬†I didn’t have a single one. In fact no one wanted to see us.¬† To tell the truth I couldn’t really tell who had double glazing and who didn’t -something about an aluminium strip was mentioned earlier when the manager explained but I didn’t get it. When we returned to the base, the same guy who told us top sales people in the company made up to 10 appointments per night now said Monday nights were notoriously slow as people chose to stay in watching Coronation street. When I realised there was a soap on television¬†every single night from Emmerdale to Eastenders and what-not, I faced up to the fact that¬†I was working with cowboys and fled the scene of the crime.

This is a 2 part post so do come back to learn about my stint at Wimpy’s, MacDonalds, Woolworths…

Thank you for reading! Don’t hold back from sharing your thoughts in the comments box below ūüôā

“I remember…”

Excited because I caught up with a long lost friend today.

The best part of re-connecting is that we actually chatted. I mean, we caught up until our chats became separated¬†by yesterday and today. And then she had to go to bed. So we’ll catch up later. Much better than the one who accepts (or sends you)¬†a friend request and then doesn’t respond to a follow up message. And then you wonder if perhaps they do not sign in often but they do because their wall is peppered with hourly¬†tid-bits and comments. Anyway I digress. During the course of our conversation Funmi mentioned the name of a town that I have not been to in well over 10 years. At that point¬†I realised I have a memory for every place I’ve been to. A bit like child number 3 who has a¬†narrative for just about every word he says. I guess he gets that from me, I have a¬†story behind every outfit I own, many times when complimented on a dress, I start at the very beginning.

Stratford ¬†Thanks to a¬†kind family, I lived in Stratford for about a year when I first arrived from Nigeria. But the main memory I have is of the day I went swimming. I had this friend who wanted to date me. I come from the school of thought that belives in playing hard to get, yet I wanted to impress him. So when he asked how I spent my afternoons after school I told him I usually went swimming. He asked if he could come along the following Thursday, I wanted to show off some more so I said ‘sure’. Trouble is I couldn’t swim. Enter dear friend Eva. I¬†grabbed hold of her and informed her¬†that¬†somehow, anyhow, I must learn how to swim by Thursday. Day after day we trekked to the swimming baths¬†in order not to¬†bring a¬†disgrace upon my good family name!

Highbury My cousin lives there. Safety and security come to mind when I think of Highbury. My big cousin¬†always was¬†(and still is) a welcoming face. She loves to cook and entertain and so we have a feast whenever we go there. I remember standing at the bus-stop by the butcher’s waiting for bus 4 or 19. I didn’t mind at all as the butcher¬†was just like the ones you read about in fairytales- fat, jolly and wearing a white stained apron. Next to him¬†was the cobblers. Again like the ones we used to read about, particularly because where I come from they are not called cobblers but shoemakers. 20 years later, the butcher and cobbler are still there, same sign, nothing’s changed. That’s security, un-moved by time.

Elephant and Castle I hate that place. Sorry if you live there but I actually loathe the place. I have memories of dear friend Tinuke and I in our student days, living a¬†student’s¬†less-than-cushy¬†life. Plus it took me a while to realise that the station actually had a shopping centre in it or vice-versa which was¬†unbelievable dinghy, I thought it was an indoor market- then again maybe that’s what it was. Either way I still don’t like it.

Cricklewood¬† Many fond memories here. My uncle and aunt’s home and I loved living there.¬†One day someone parked in front of the drive-in, Tinuke promptly told him to move his car as he was blocking¬†our drive- not that we had a car. He refused. That night we both made eba (starchy, sticky African staple meal which hardens on exposure to air) and plastered it¬†all over¬†his windscreen¬†then we¬†stuck a note-” See, we told you not to park here!” I am cracking up as I write this! The next morning the oyinbo man came out and as Tinuke walked across the road, he tried to run her over, we burst out laughing! He was lucky it was a slightly damp¬†night, the plan was to have had the eba harden by morning.

There are so many memories, some unbelievably embarrassing with a major cringe factor! Who knows, I might muster up the courage to share some day. ¬†Like the day I walked in on uncle Ade…

Thanks so much for reading, do come back.

 

Playing God

The whole timetable thingy has been a huge success. You may remember from a previous post where I finally admitted that I needed to budget my time and money. So I started with a¬†weekly meal¬†planner which features my family’s favourite meals. On each day I¬†have about three options- hard,¬†not so hard and dead easy to fit in nicely with my mood or energy levels for the day. I shop for the week knowing exactly what we’ll be¬†eating throughout the week. ¬†Hubby isn’t picky and most of the time is happy with whatever I cook. Occasionally I get the ‘Nah, I’m not feeling that Toks’ . On those days I give him the impression that he actually has a choice. This is when I pull out my other 2 options and¬†he decides. Or so he thinks. As for the kids they don’t have a preference- that’s African parenting for you. There is no “Sweetheart what will you like to eat?” Instead it is “What is that meal you hate so much? Rice and Broccoli¬†Stew? You better clean your plate, I’ll be watching you because that’s what we’re having!”.

Some African Parents love to play God. They decide what their children will study at school. Who they will get married to and when. They plan the wedding, pick the colours and decide on the guest list.¬† Actually this happens in many cultures. In some cases they even name the children borne out of the marriage, I have a cousin who loathes his own son’s name¬†because his¬†parents chose the name.

So it is with great pride that I¬†preside over my family’s nutrition and choice of meals, even when they think they are exercising their own judgement, it isn’t really the case. Heck I even control their thoughts!

Like the X-factor drama. For my non-UK readers this is the UK’s version of American Idol. Viewers were made to think that they decided on which act stayed and which one was voted off, until Sunday when the two horrors by the name of John and Edward where “voted” to remain on the show. Word is that the results were rigged and Simon has secretly supported those two from the beginning. Poor Simon.

There are rules about playing God. For one don’t protest too much. You don’t want to risk having to make a decision that goes completely against the crusade you have been running. To go from “these boys are¬†horrific, I will leave the country if they win”¬†to “I-I-I ¬†can’t decide” is a banned u-turn and there are cameras everywhere.

So when I take my throne as she-who-cooks-whatever-she-absolutely-wants-to-and-you-must-eat-it, you will not catch me protesting too much when child number 3 tells me he hates fish and¬†don’t I remember¬†that he is allergic to it? I will gently coax him and convince him that tuna is not fish. It’s just another type of seafood. After all I can’t please everyone, I’m not God.

Blackberry Bold, a Proper Noun

I am totally in love with my Blackberry Bold! Hubby isn’t smiling, he has accused me of spending more time with it than him. Sadly he is right.

My social life was suffering greatly as I couldn’t bear to be more than 20 minutes away from my laptop. I apologise if you are one of those ¬†who had to endure my rudeness when I walked into your house and helped myself to your computer, sometimes without asking.¬† I stopped going out- choosing to remain glued to my pc instead. So when¬†hubby suggested there was a better way to do things, the choice¬†fell between the iPhone¬†and the Blackberry.

After my research, I rightly concluded Research in Motion developed their phone for¬†people¬†who needed immediate access to their all-important emails. Picture Donald Trump and every successful business man or woman. ¬†Michelle and Barack both use Blackberry¬†too. And iPhone? well I picture urban, trendy, I-love-my-music-and-I’m-in-sync-with-the-latest-fashions. Blackberry = Success, iPhone = fashion¬†accessory. Sorry iPhoners, don’t hate its just my opinion.

Do bear in mind that I have never owned a smart phone¬†and the features I have¬† used so far¬†is only a tiny fraction of what this amazing piece of equipment can actually do. If the Blackberry were a car, it’ll be a Rocket. Yes a R-o-c-k-e-t.

Okay! The first thing¬†that blew my mind was that instead of chasing my emails, they were chasing me! My reaction? Oyinbo¬†don crase! (Broken English very loosely translated – the creators of this thing are mad) The email notification is adjusted to bleep when I get a business email and the flashing red light when it’s a personal mail. I sometimes see that flashing light and feel the trackball under my thumb in my sleep.

There are at least a thousand applications, and I currently have facebook, The Bible and the AJC- Atlanta Journal Constitution. No doubt there are tons more I could use but we’ll do things poco-a-poco, let’s not get things too complicated here.

I discover something new almost daily, like when I called Bola and her picture promptly showed up on the screen, I did not upload that so where did it come from?  It took me a moment to realise that it was linked to facebook. 

Word, Excel and Adobe are all part of the package, an excel file on a tiny computer screen! I can also have QuickBooks if I want to be a sorry workaholic.

Needless to say my Blackberry doubles as an iPod, only better because I can now listen to music without the earplugs. Talking about earplugs, BB’s are sound proof. They plug deep into your ears and leave out all external noise, plus they are soft and comfy.

BB’s screen is very hi res so there are no compromises when you watch anything. I watched two episodes of Lie to me on my BB in a hotel room in Paris where all TV channels were in French. I missed nothing. The sound is crystal clear.

Internet access is fast and very user-friendly, you can easily highlight a phone number and call while surfing the net. Your browsing history gets saved and life suddenly becomes a breeze.  I chat with my brother almost daily as he is also a successful Blackberry user, we use the Blackberry messenger app, owners only. All in all Blackberry is for serious emailers and texters thanks to the full QWERTY keyboard, I play wordmole while on the queue at gas stations and supermarkets. Suddenly everything has a purpose!

And that’s why Blackberry is a proper noun, please don’t make the mistake of writing iPhone with a capital ‘I‘.

Rain, Rain

It rained today.

The world got washed while I slept just so that I could breathe in fresh, clean air on a bright new day. Thank you Jesus for a beautiful new day!

Whatever the challenges I face, I had a whole brand new day today and it¬†smelt nice and was free from pollution.¬† Whenever it rains it is as though the previous day got washed away and a new day begins. I feel a calming peace as I start out with this new slate, wiped clean just for me. And yesterday’s unsolved problems are taken care of with new solutions and brand new energy.

Is it just me or do you also see clearer on a newly washed day? I thought so! Have a trully blessed day ūüôā

Today at The Mustaphas’

Do you ever look at people and wonder (or in my case conclude) what their lives might be¬†like?¬†It’s a habit I have. And enjoy. At the post office today I¬†stared at Mustapha while I was in the line. Mustapha¬†is in his¬†fifties and he is always at the¬†counter. I think he is the Post Office¬†manager because the others¬†direct all¬†their queries to him.¬†His face is rugged, like he has lived and seen a lot in life. His complexion is¬†light brown, Asian no doubt.¬†Mustapha never has an expression, he seems neither sad nor happy, ¬†just…there. The longest conversation I have ever had with him was ‘hi’, ¬†‘grunt’.

Two¬†spots away¬†sits a middle-aged woman her name tag reads Maureen. I think she’s Asian although she kinda looks Mediterranean too.¬†Her hair is in place and face¬†very well made up. She seems to be enjoying her lunch- I spot some¬†brown sauce, rice and salad. Her lipstick remains eerily in place despite the dripping sauce. I of course start to wonder¬†what her life is¬†like. Does she enjoy¬†her life or despise her boss? ¬†Then she says something about there being some salad left and passes her polystyrene¬†take-away bowl to Mustapha. Aha! They are married.

Now I start to imagine what their home might be like. I conclude that their home is very comfortable and very well decorated. Rugs and wall hangings from Cyprus, dark chunky wood furniture with¬†black metal hinges from India.¬†Rich burgundy soft furnishings with gold threads running through.¬†The scent of¬† spices hangs in the air.¬†There is a¬†large family portrait above the fireplace¬†showing Mustapha, his wife and their¬†three grown kids. Two boys and a girl. The¬†first son is a doctor, practising in Canada. The second is the girl, she works as an accountant in central London and the last son, the one who refused to be¬† a doctor, accountant¬†or¬†lawyer¬†works for¬†a nightclub¬†and has started his own gig as a DJ on the side.¬†¬†Mustapha does not approve as he thinks he should have gone for a more serious profession. He is the one who point-blank refused to speak their native dialect when growing up and¬†as a teenager¬†brought a caucasian girlfriend home for dinner. He frowns each time he remembers the way she spluttered and coughed after her first mouthful of kesari bath, his beloved mother’s¬†secret recipe passed down to Maureen.¬†No one outside of the family knows this so it isn’t really talked about much. The family rarely shout, speaking in measured tones as though they don’t want to awaken the faux tiger fur rug that greets you in the hallway.

The knick knacks on the bookshelf tell the¬†story about Mustapha’s immigration to the United Kingdom years ago. The photograph of¬†him on his bike, with his mother in the bacground¬†laughing heartily- something she rarely did after losing her husband years earlier to a bad illness. The black and white photograph of his young bride taken¬†at their traditional wedding ceremony is framed in a beaded work of art, he promised to send for her once he settled in London and he did. That was 36 years ago.

Finally it’s my turn.¬†The outsider attends to me, asking Mustapha a question¬†about how to¬†change¬†the label on the parcel from Royal Mail to Parcel Force as¬†the customer just realised Royal Mail strikes might delay the delivery of¬† her parcel. ¬†Mustapha answers her without glancing up. Yep, he is unhappy with his third son‚Äôs choice of a profession and it’s all his wife’s fault for pampering him so. Life.

Balloon Boy 2

After my last post on Balloon Boy, I felt a pang of guilt as I had judged the family without any evidence. It didn’t help that a Christian channel had portrayed them as innocent- at least they didn’t suggest that The Heenes were guilty of fraud. Afterall¬†the only thing¬†we had to go on was the body language experts analysing of the size of the sweat beads and how fast¬†they fell from Mr Heene’s forehead.

Well all my fears were laid to rest today (or was it yesterday?) when Mrs Heene admitted to the incident being a hoax. I still feel sorry for them for as Michael commented they were driven to desperation. I agree. Desperation can drive one to do all sorts of things which is why as I raise my kids I enforce boundaries around them. Even on days where they are perfectly well-behaved, I don’t say yes to everything they request- harmless requests included. Like today child #3 asked for cookies. There was nothing wrong with the timing, it was midday. He was neither full-up nor¬†hungry but he had¬†eaten so it was actually prime time for cookies. Plus he was well-behaved (relatively).¬† But I said no. He asked why and¬†I explained to him that in life you don’t get everything you want.

He did get the cookie later, but only after I had made sure there was no sulking and he was happy not to have¬†received it. It is very hard to pull that one on toddler J. He would scream the house down and I hate noise- all kinds. Perhaps what I should do is say “no” and run outside so I don’t hear his cries.

My prayer is that I raise my children to have a realistic view of life and an unwavering faith in God. That way the chance of ever being analysed by body language experts remains nill to nada.

I’m Miffed with Balloon Boy’s Father

In case you missed the news coverage of “Balloon Boy”, I’ll recap. The Heene family are an adventurous bunch, you know the outdoors sort: ¬†storm-chasing, UFO-believing, experiment loving type.¬†Think ¬†“Honey I shrunk the Kids” but up in the¬†mountains somewhere. They’ve even starred in a reality show, not that it¬†matters- the¬†T.V stations are doing the rounds so if you haven’t had your’s it’ll be soon I’m sure. I hear they have so far covered half the world.¬† So the Heenes had this home-made helium balloon and their 6-year-old son was “seen” climbing into it by his brother just before it wafted up, up¬†and away. Crossing over 2 counties and covering 50 ¬†miles, we watched live as we feared for his life. I stopped all I was doing to pray as I imagined how terrified the poor child must feel and of course the very real possibility of death. An army, police , helicopter, ground-all-flights-from-nearby airports-rescue operation later, the boy was found to be safe and well “hiding” in the attic.

It was only when CNN interviewed the family and asked why the boy didn’t come out- actually the father asked him: “why did you not come out when I called you Falcon?” ¬†The innocent child replied, “But you said it was for a show!” Hmm! Come and see the mother trembling and shaking her head saying “No, no Falcon, we didn’t say that” desperately trying not to raise her voice even a fraction of an octave¬†to keep up the charade.¬†Father nko? You could hear him gulp as he stammered, praying no one heard Falcon while he repeated the question.

Enter the body language experts who analysed his deep sigh, and every move they made and they concluded it was a hoax.

If only they had been smart enough to leave the children out¬†of the press interviews. Where I come from, that child won’t even have the guts to look the camera man in the¬†camera not to mention answering the questions asked. If like Falcon he decided to answer, there’ll be sure to be a serious butt-wooping when he got home. And who names their child Falcon anyway? I guess it was planned from birth, but they forgot to tell CNN that he was born to fly.

Dear Mr Heene,

If you want to further your career please don’t use the kids. There’s absolutely no need to put a black mark of fraud on their innocent young lives. And yes, it can be frustrating when you are tying to break into your field and become recognised for your expertise. ¬†Now they have dug up your past records of assault and vandalism which when compared to today’s criminal activities can hardly be described as horrific. The hoax has magnified the old charges. Mr Heene, Mr Heene! How many times did I call you? See what you’ve done to yourself? Ehn? My advice, if you must create a hoax, for Pete’s sake have a briefing first or leave the kids out if they are too young to learn their lines. Plus I’m mad at you it’s not like¬†I had no one left to pray for¬†that I had to deviate to pray for your son. {Insert long drawn hiss}.

Little Miss Know It All.

I attended my business class today. You know how you always have that one person in class who knows it all? Well ours is a straight-haired girl named Carol.

Every question asked, rhetoric or realistic was¬†answered by her. She, by the way asked all the questions too. People like that irritate me. Not always though as they tend to be the source of amusement in boring classes. This one didn’t entertain me today because it was just one of those days, I simply wasn’t in the mood. Know-it-alls have similar characteristics. They tend to be talkers. They have this insatiable desire to air their views, to say that they love the sound of their own voice is a gross underestimation which does them no justice.

They are also quite knowledgeable on the subject, hence the title. And if you try to catch them, they will counter your opposition by dragging a new subject into the old, and by the time you know it you are chasing your own tail.

I think know-it-alls (KIA) are also insecure, so they have to support their egos with knowledge. This one supported hers with knowledge, manicured nails, straight hair and a quantity surveyor boyfriend who although he is not on the course, by the end of the evening we were all very well acquainted with him. I bet I can tell you where all his birthmarks are.

These¬†annoying breed IMO don’t have a ton of friends, but surprisingly do not care. Their knowledge is their friend.

Perhaps it was a good thing¬†I wasn’t in a good mood today. I may have spent the evening devising a plan to bring Miss Straight Hair back down to earth including her¬†high-heeled boots and missed out on a valuable lesson. I may have spent more time writing about Miss KIA instead of moving forward and chucking it down to life’s experiences.

The class concluded with her letting me know the reason she missed last week’s class on marketing is because she would have ended up in front as the lecturer.¬†Ohhh yeah, she’s that good.

I ain’t hating, just venting, thanks for reading!

Toks Reborn.

I hate to budget. I don’t like to¬†pre-allocate my funds before it is spent. It makes me feel restricted, caged even. That’s just how God made me. Hubby on the other hand is all in favor of budgeting, I can’t understand it.¬† He likes to know what’s going to happen before it does.¬†To me that’s like watching a movie backwards. God made me adventurous and full of fun, I like the spontaneity life offers.¬†

So when I recently faced up to the fact that budgeting was essential in order to move forward, it felt like the death of ¬†Toks. The realisation came when said subject’s life was haphazardly spinning out of control. I mean its one thing for things to spin out of control, It is quite another to not even know where it is spinning towards. I am not a big spender, but I always happen to find things¬† I need and¬† possibly can’t do without.¬† When I look at my purchases, not one was unnecessary although I’d admit to some being impulsive.

It’s the same with time. I start my day on an excited note usually. I have my quiet time and then get the boys off to school. Afterwards I excersise- today I went jogging. Okay it was fast paced walking. Then I shower and have my cup of extra strong coffee while reading an article from Success magazine. I always read something inspiring, could be a devotional or a newsletter from someone like Dan Miller (48 Hours). By this time I am so revved up, you would think I can physically move mountains. I get really pumped up as I have my first treat of the day- checking emails on my Blackberry. The Blackberry thing deserves a post all by itself, coming soon. I go through my emails, there are those that are important but not exciting, and then there are the exciting but unimportant, still there are the emails that are neither. Like¬†the company in China offering to sell me a container load of baby furniture. Which ones do I address first? The unimportant ones, yep because they are exciting.¬†As if¬†the inspirational cocktail I just consumed was not enough. These emails I describe as my hydra ones¬†since they¬†grow in many different directions. A simple email like this will lead me to a¬†company that sells beautiful products, then I begin negotiations with them, bear in mind that all of¬†this is unplanned. We go back and forth negotiating and then we reach an agreement. I am still excited. I open up an account, and that’s when the hard work begins and pauses to be revisited sometime¬†in the future. Anyway, that was so not on today’s¬†list. I have new accounts that are yet to be touched because I did not allocate time for them. So why¬†do I then go in search of more work? I tell you that is how God made me.

¬†One¬†phone call to Virgin Media to set up a direct debit will ensure I am not paying ¬£10 every month¬†in late payment charges. A¬†quick call to Vonage will make sure I am on the right tariff and not paying more than I should on my home phone line. ¬£6 in an envelope and given to any of the boys will eliminate the nagging headache that promptly appears after school hours, that is when I tend to remember I haven’t paid the contribution towards the¬†mathematics software subscription.

Do you see why I need to budget my time and money? I am an¬†effervecence junkie addicted to being high yet I have a sneaky feeling I just might enjoy this budgeting thing. I started by creating a meal plan on excel the other day. You should see me¬†staring into space daily as I wonder what¬†to cook for dinner. I was brought up to¬†not¬†have the same meal back¬†to back from one day to the next, so I guess Mom is to blame for all this. Like the need to have rice on Sundays, bless her heart. Well all that staring into space has been eliminated now,thanks to my time table- oh and it’s rice today.

There are some changes I will not be making though, like the need to post on¬†Pawpaw and Mango Blog whenever the heck I feel like it. I should be busy packaging a Magic Mushroom Lamp for a customer in order to keep within our prescribed “5 day delivery” promise, but blog I must- first. Then I’ll budget. He will get the lamp on the 4th day.

Chimamanda- Audio Interview Link

Following my previous post on Chimamanda Adichie, I thought I’d share this interview held just after¬†she had released Half of a Yellow Sun in 2006. If you haven’t purchased any of her books, Amazon still has¬†plenty! Here’s the interview, thanks for reading (and listening)!

Click Here 

Distinguished Person Highlight

When I grow up I want to be like Chimamanda¬†Ngozi Adichie. Now I haven’t met Chimamanda but I have read her books and recently heard her speak at a graduation ceremony, thanks to YouTube. Chimamanda has a beautiful, clear voice with an accent that will make you proud to be a native of wherever it is you hail from. But that is not the main reason I want to be like her. Chimamanda¬† is my ideal leading lady because she is an amazing writer. If you have never read any of her books, I beg you to purchase them and read them.

The first one I read is called Purple Hibiscus. It is hard to believe Purple Hibiscus was written when she was just 27 years old. The way she captures the characters’ emotions as well as dealing with both childlike and¬†grown up issues is amazing. I could not put Purple Hibiscus down. And when I finally did, I was left wanting more. I do not exaggerate when I say I had matured by¬†a few years by the time I was done.

Then she went on to write Half of a Yellow Sun. Up until the time I read this gem of a book, all I knew about the Nigerian civil war was that the Yorubas fled when they should have joined up with the Igbos. I am still baffled by how Chimamanda was able to garner the exact¬†atmosphere and describe the war and the lives of her characters in such explicit details as though she was physically present in every scene, and she¬†was every character. I’m not simply referring to her descriptive abilities and use of language but also to the detail. Like on Ugwu’s journey to his new master’s home:

Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat every day. He did not disagree with his aunty, though, because he was too choked with expectation, too busy imagining his new life away from the village……His aunty walked faster, her slippers making slap-slap sounds that echoed in the silent street“.¬† At the risk of being sued I¬†will not¬†paste any more excerpts, even though I¬†am itching to do so.¬† Okay one more;

“Ugwu!” Master called. “Bring coke”

Ugwu walked into the sitting room, she smelt of coconuts.

Master didin’t say “Bring me a bottle of Coke“. or “Can you kindly get me some Coke?” He said “Bring Coke!” the way they do. And on it goes. Of course this may sound like the ramblings of an awe-struck fan, I urge you to read an excerpt here. After reading Half of a Yellow Sun I felt strangely confident¬†to be all that I hope to be. I¬†made the decision to do my utmost best in what I do, I must excel in every task and will even watch to make sure the words I speak are wholesome and beneficial to the listener. Reading Chimamanda’s books suggests she did not carry out the task of writing by halves. And neither will I. I may not be a writer (yet) but whatever it is I have been called and equipped to do, I will certainly do it with all my might. I must glorify the one who placed these gifts in me, I will make my Father proud.

In Adulation of Weight Gain

Somethings you just can’t hide, like being pregnant. I first noticed I was struggling to fit into my clothes about four months ago. My jeans were noticeably tighter and I even dug out my old jeans that had previously¬†“grown” too big for me, it fit. Blouses were tighter and my appetite soared and changed too. I started craving Alpen and yes more rice and fried plantain. No, I’m not pregnant.
I have finally started to put the weight on. I say finally because for most of my life I have wanted to be er..bigger (must be PC even on my own blog, gasp!) I have filled out nicely, my figure is comparable to a full-figured fifties’ ¬†model and I am loving it! You should have seen me at¬†my favourite clothes store¬†the other day proudly asking the assistant; “Do these come any larger?” I have now joined the ranks of those who say “Hmm.. that doesn’t fit” or “Does my bum look big in this?” Only I say “Hope my bum looks big in this”. Hubby calls me rolling Toks- as in they’ll need to start rolling me around since I won’t be able to walk. I love it. When I run into friends, I give them the¬†2 minute limit then ask¬† if they noticed I was significantly larger (here it goes again). And that’s when my bubble gets popped. Some deny and say no, not really. Others go to such great lengths to remind me that it is absolutely fine. I have 4 children, I still look good, I have tried etc. That isn’t exactly the response I was hoping for. A simple “yes you have and it suits you” will suffice. I had one such conversation early this week with an older¬†lady.

Her: You look very good for a mom of four, how did you lose the weight?

Me: Thanks.  This is  me after I put the weight on, I reply with pride.

Her: No, you’re not overweight.

Me: (Don’t you listen?)¬† I know I’m not overweight, I’m just saying I have put on some weight in recent months, I love it.

Her: No, I still think you look good, don’t say that.

Me: (Slightly frustrated. She’s older so I can’t call her names) I KNOW I look good, I always wanted to put on weight and now that I have, I am happy.

Her: What are the age gaps between your kids?

I tell her

Her: So you had time to diet in between.

Needless to say I gave up at this point and went on¬†to find my next target who will acknowledge to me how good I look with the extra fat I’m carrying.

When did it become a taboo to be shapely? I guess we owe our thanks to Twiggy who put having a woman’s body out of fashion for us chics. Ugh!

What’s in a name?

Plenty if you ask me.¬†Hubby and I labored and prayed real hard for our sons’ names. We wanted them to have cool names. I think names have an effect on how you get on in life. It also determines who your friends will be. I went to Primary (elementary) school with a girl called Pinky. I don’t know if that was her real or nickname, but she was popular and a lot had to do with her name. I remember how everyone was happy¬†to say her name without hesitation. My older brother was popular in primary school because he had the same first name as a well loved football star- and of course he has a great personality too. (He reads my blogs so I have to be careful).

My full name is Tokunbo (which is really an abbreviation of the full-full name). In the part of town I grew up it was uncommon. I wouldn’t say it was liked or not, it was just… uncommon. In some cases I had to say it twice for people to¬† succesfully pronounce it nearly accurately. My surname on the other hand was pretty cool, however it was always spelt wrongly and confused with Ferrari- which happens to be my¬†other car. Amen.¬† So in no time people took to calling me Ferrari, Perreira, Perempe, Ferara and even Fregene. What was funny was how those “in the know”¬† would confidently correct others who called me Ferrari or another name from the¬† melange. Their correction? “It’s not Ferrari, that’s a car! Her name is Ferira”. Wrong again.

It would have been simple if my parents had named me a cool name like Alero. That’s my number one name. I love the way it is spelled- easy, love the sound of it and the fact that it begins with the first letter of the alphabet means an Alero has a higher chance of being the smartest kid in class. Seriously, a survey was conducted and the results suggested kids whose names begin with “A” tend to excel. Perhaps it’s because they were usually called first in the register. My first son is proof, so I’m sticking with that theory. I vowed to name my daughter Alero, even if it meant Hubby and I coming to blows about it. Alas, it was not to be, I don’t have a daughter.

Another name mom could have named me is Tolu. It sounds so cool, I mean literally cool like ice cream. To-lu. When pronounced properly it even sounds melodious. I am blessed to have a good friend called Tolu. And no, you didn’t become my friend because of your name. You are just a sweetheart and I love you!

Yet another name I would have been proud to be called is Buki. Short and sweet. Easy to spell and pronounce.¬†When pronounced properly it suggests there is nothing more; “my name is Buki and that’s it”. ¬†Again I am blessed to have another darling of a friend called Buki. ¬†And since you probably never knew I loved your name, here’s proof that I love you for who you are.

There’s more, like Joke, another short and sweet name. It sounds cheerful and happy, just like my dear friend Joke. Always ready for a chat, always so encouraging. Love you Joke.

I’ll stop now, because this was meant to be a post about names and not friends, sparked by am email I received from another dear friend Bayo. Now I have never wished to have your name, because you’re a dude lol! But it is a lovely name and I’m glad we’re friends, hopefully we’ll see soon.

My post on Friendship will be looooooong. I’ll warn you before hand because you’ll need a snack and a drink. That’s when I’ll tell you all about Lara, and Shade and Iluobe (longest standing friend- 33 years and counting) Nneka and Tola and Abi and Bola and Yejide and Suzy and Funke and Ifeayinwa and Andrea and Kennie and Foluke and Bimbo and Tiwana and Tinuke and Mubo¬†and Josh and Alex and Funmi and Folake and Tony¬† and Tina…..Yes I really am that blessed.

What’s Poppin this Weekend?

I am so glad it’s Friday. I started loving Fridays years ago. it did not start in boarding house. No, no, no. On the contrary Fridays were hellish for us. We had to “sweep, scrub and mop” everything in preparation for the house inspection on Saturday. Everything got washed and most got stolen after you would have left it out to dry. And woe betide you if your white bed sheet was among the missing. I hate the phrase woe betide you. It is ugly. You can’t even figure out the meaning unless you already knew what it meant. Who ever came up with it even? It brings back memories of little Toks being whooped for not bringing Senior Risi’s plate¬†on time¬†¬†to the dining hall.

Anyhoo. Back to loving Fridays. I started loving Fridays when I worked for a large Pharmaceutical company. The pay was awesome, plus brand new company car and all but I hated my job. It just wasn’t me. I’m not pretentious and you needed to be in that field. So needless to say I didn’t work hard at all. I worked from home so it was very easy to do a whole day’s work in 2 hours.¬†I was always on edge and worried that my boss would call me anytime to let me know in her lovely Mancunian accent that I wasn’t pulling my weight and I’d be busted. (She sounded remarkably like Daphne Moon from Frasier) She did however make it a rule never to make business calls on the weekend. Plus we were allowed to set aside Fridays to catch up on paperwork. Paperwork that I usually didn’t so much as cast a passing glance at until the wee hours of Monday morning. So my weekends started on Friday. Thursday night to be precise, as I left work early on Thursday to put said paperwork together in preparation for Friday.¬†I loved Wednesdays because it was the end of the week beckoning to me from the distance. Midweek. Who thought I’d make it through? especially with Gwen Ellis, my old thorn-in-the-flesh colleague who was under grand delusions that she was my semi-boss. I wonder if she ever sampled those mood-altering drugs we were supposed to be giving free to Doctors? I bet she did. Gwen broke her ankle once and got her Son to chauffeur her around, she refused to take a sick break. I mean who does that? In England? ¬†By Wednesday the pressure was off (at least for me) and I was¬†pleased to have Thursday¬†around the corner. I loved Tuesdays because it simply wasn’t Monday. That was a good enough reason. Monday? Let’s not even pretend.

Nowadays I’m glad its Friday because the boys will be playing Football on Saturday morning, I’ll have the house to myself (almost) with just my attachment with me. Baby J is my attachment. Hubby insists on referring to him as my growth. I will take my time to get out of bed. I will go to the mall. I will make a tasty dinner but only if I feel like it. Otherwise Ginny will be getting a routine call from me for her special fried rice. I will not raise my voice, choosing instead to clench my fists- hope that works. I will read my new book “Grown-Up Girlfriends” referred to me by dear friend Kennie. I will have a blessed day. It is afterall Saturday, the day that the Lord has made. So I will also¬†rejoice and be glad.

I pray that your day will be blessed, fun-filled and relaxing, just as God meant for it to be. Thank you for reading.

Autumn…

I even like the way the word is spelled. It is in a class all by itself, no other words rhyme with Autumn, aka Fall. This is my favourite time of the year. It is the various shades of brown, red, orange, copper and gold. The fact that the leaves fall down slowly, sometimes doing a twirl as they descend steadily. I love the leaves being blown around by the wind. I don’t even mind wet leaves blown on my face in the fall, so long as they are brown, lol! You will most likely catch me wearing brown, orange or green clothing or accessories. Green became my favorite colour years ago when I discovered celery green. The other green- bottle green, I still don’t like. It reminds me of beer bottles and long, boring childhood summers.

At this time of the year I usually scurry around, buying candles, cushions, throws and anything to make my home cozy. Needless to say the colours tend to be warm colors of browns, reds and oranges. I think of¬† scented candles with fragrances like mulled wine, hot chocolate or baked cookies. I¬†fill my freezer with all kinds of treats as food and comfort go together. I don’t really like to go out in the Autumn, prefering instead¬†to stay indoors drinking hot cocoa, reading a good book and watching those leaves fall from the trees. I love the sight of the squirells doing the same thing, scurrying around filling their homes with nuts before they hibernate. About now I¬†burst into homemaker overdrive, making sure every need is met, the house is warm, smells nice and is good enough to eat.

The fact that¬†it gets dark early only makes it better. It reminds me that I have a roof over my head. I also realise that having a house isn’t necessary having a home. A house you buy or rent, a home you create using ingredients of love, joy, peace, gratitude…

I have no idea what this autumn holds in store for me. There is so much I will be doing without this year, its hard to imagine any semblance of my autumn. However I do have a major ingredient I have never used before- a new attitude filled to the brim with gratitude, joy and peace. I am truly grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with regardless of my list of wants. I choose to be thankful for what I have and not whine about what I want. 

I pray your autumn is filled with all the goodness God has for you, Amen.

Who are you? hoo, hoo, hoo hoo!

I really wanna know… Okay, I’ll stop singing. Last night some dear friend sent me a text saying” guess who this is?” and “What’s your landline number”? It was close to midnight and I was up so after replying to the text, I grabbed the phone waiting. Patiently. It is nearly midnight on the morrow and my friend still hasn’t called. It was a Georgia number and I have my suspicions as to who she (or he) may be and I have narrowed it down to four possible friends but I refuse to break. I’ll stay strong and wait. Patiently. And I know you’ll call. Soon.

I’ll keep you posted!

Empty Vessels

I have missed Pawpaw and Mango. It has only been 4 days since I posted but it seems so much longer. In the last four days I have:

Built a website for my dad, dealt with enquiries and orders¬†from Greece, the UK and the States, went through the bureaucracy of the British customs agency and all their fees and forms for importing goods, begged a friend to come around and work for peanuts, “returned” the kids back to school and had a killer migraine.¬† Writing pawpawandmango has revealed to your’s truly, the things that matter to her. Food and comfort. I make a lot of reference to food and I hate discomfort. Hence my previous whinge about my sore throat and my upcoming one about migraines.

I had a migraine. I can ususally smell this from afar and have reinforcements ready and waiting before it hits. This time was no different, only it lasted four days. On the evening of day¬†three I went in search of a late night¬†pharmacy for some real medication. Not the Mickey Mouse¬†stuff like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen et cetera, but something with some strength. After selecting my drug of choice, the pharmacist suggested I try Imigran. I was made to fill out a questionnaire and I started to get really excited about this super-duper drug. Especially when the till came up with ¬£8 ($14). It better start to work before I even open up the pack. Imagine my horror when I found out it ony had 2 tablets in it? I nearly drove back with the intention of ramming my car through the glass window of that nice smelling pharmacy. This Imigran had better start¬†working before it gets to my throat; I thought as I gulped down my Tango. My drive back home was peaceful and serene as I listened to an audio book by one of my favorite authors- Valorie Burton.¬† I wondered what was going on behind the walls of the homes I drove past. I thought of happy and sad relationships, tasty meals and burnt dinners, children who were being abused and those who were having¬†a childhood that the other group could only dream about. This drug better kick in or else I’ll kick someone’s behind! My thoughts turned to my dear friend JK who recently started blogging. She insists it has something to do with me, I’m not so sure. My thoughts¬†go to her because she recently put up a post about Scrabble. And I’m thinking of Scrabble because it was a¬†major part of my childhood. I am blessed to have had a happy one.¬† Jk is talented, a naturaly gifted¬†writer and I hope she knows it.¬† Just as soon as she gives me the go ahead¬†and teaches me how to do the blogroll thingy, I’ll direct you to her blog!¬† The pharmacist said not to use Imigran and the other painkiller together. What he should have said is; “don’t use Imigran. GlaxoSmithkline however accepts your donation of ¬£8, with thanks”.¬† After all the filling of forms and dancing through the hoops, it was all for nothing. They say empty vessels make the most noise. Nuff said. Thankfully my headaches have ceased and I’m back to normal. But I ain’t sharing that info with hubby as I risk losing the pampering, or as Valorie would say pamperizing! Thanks as always for reading.

Note to Self…

  • Arrive home from hairdresser.
  • Grab camera and promptly take shots¬†of newly styled hair from various angles, print and¬†place on mirror.
  • Du rags, scarves or nets do not work, don’t bother.
  • Attempt to re-style hair in the morning, using pictures as a guideline.
  • If all fails, remember only 8 short hours ago, you looked like that!

The Lady, Du Pain & The Perfect French Manicure

So there I sat on the Eurostar excited about my very short break away from normal life. The last time I was in Paris was on my first wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were so shocked and disappointed that everything was actually in French. The knowledge that they are French people did nothing to soothe us as we listened to the 60th re-run of CNN in our hotel room- the only TV channel in English. It annoyed us to see blockbuster Hollywood movies voiced-over in French. How dare they? Eventually common sense reigned and we agreed to enjoy our holiday so we did. Lots of french bread (du pain), ham and cheese, but we did.

Fast forward 12 years and I wasn’t too keen on the sights, I just wanted to see my friend whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years and enjoy my VERY MUCH needed break. Alone. Deciding I would need a dictionary, I wondered why Costa Coffee didn’t sell them, it was the only shop without a queue. I ignored the fact that the French customs sign at St Pancras Station in London was written in French first and then English. I even pretended not to notice that the announcements in the train were in French and then translated into French-English. What I could not deal with was the newsagents who had a section for foreign publications, aka English. That was way too much to bear. All was forgotten though¬†when I checked into my hotel, kindly assisted by Ganiyu, the cheerful Nigerian who spoke Yoruba (yo-hu-ba) with a French accent.

I had asked for a single bed- when they said single bed, it meant single-side-of-your body only. But it was my room and mine alone. It was blissful, clean and smelt nice. All TV channels were in French without the luxury of CNN this time. But it was fine. I had an attitude as I went for a walk to the market and in search of MacDonalds, wondering why I felt so superior to the French that I was unprepared to sample their cuisine. For some reason I didn’t even try to speak the language, I couldn’t be bothered and had a strange feeling they should concede to me. I guess it was my irritation at the bewildered look on their faces when I asked where the nearest MacDonalds was. It’s no wonder they are not fond of the Brits. Or the Americans.
At the nail bar the entire pricelist was in French. Surely a French Mani/Pedicure cannot be that pricey, they are the originators. Wrong! these folks charged me 67 Euros! That’s $95 dollars y’all. When she told me the price I quietly prayed she meant 16 Euros. My prayer was ansered, answer- “No, it is 67 Euros!” The mani/pedicure was PERFECT.

On my way back to the hotel I decided against listening to music so I could soak in the sounds, scenes and culture of Paris. I enjoyed doing so. It felt surreal that I was in another country, surrounded by strangers yet was so peaceful and filled with joy. I thought it’d be nice to have some French food for dinner after deciding there may be French word for Chinese which I didn’t know. On my way to the French restaurant, the smell of something familiar wafted up my nostrils. Minutes later I was in the hotel room, watching a movie on my phone and eating the best kebabs ever, served by the friendliest Turkish guys… oh well, French cuisine will have to wait!
And then Shade and I met up, but that’s another story ūüôā

Personalised Birthday Cakes for Cats & Whatever else goes on in Harrods

Still on my the-sky-is-the-limit-and-I-can-SO-reach-it quest, the boys and I took a trip to the Natural History Museum- and ended our day out in Harrods. I explained to them just how expensive this store was- simply because they love to amass facts and I wanted them to be more knowledgeable. What I didn’t plan for was Child #2 to ooh! & aah! very loudly at the price of EVERYTHING. “Aaron, come and see this!!!! Mom, just look at the price of that”. My efforts to try and blend us in as regulars failed miserably. Especially when #1 and #2 started their loud squabble about who knows what. They wanted the cute kitten that was going for ¬£750. They went on about the lift- saying it’s made from “real copper man”. But we all had fun on the 4th floor. Even baby J was facinated by the life size stuffed animals. I had no answer for them when they asked why any one would bake candy-stripe sugar cookies for dogs and personalised celebration cakes for cats. Its not like dogs can tell colours or cats can read.

All in all, it was real good fun and my morale for the day to the kids was; “regular shoppers in Harrods are just like us, we just won’t spend ¬£500+ on a miniature sleigh bed for a dog or indeed shop at the pet deli counter”. I said we can, but we wont. Amen.

The Greatest Salesmen in the World…

I am convinced are media sales people. Do they go to school to do that laugh-and-talk thing they all do so well? I remember the lovely one in the states that promptly showed up every 4 weeks to take me to the hottest spots in town. We’re talking Buckhead Dinner’s Key lime pie, Houston’s Hawaiian Steak and Justin’s P Diddy’s Fried Shrimp.
The ones here in the UK haven’t started to treat me, perhaps because I don’t take out ads that matter. So far I have been threatened as I ‘verbally signed a verbal contract‘?? A full or half page regularly at the rate of $15,000 (or $150,000) Yes $150,000 for a full page to advertise in O! magazine will buy you regular meals at the best spots in town (and pay the media folk a very large bonus).
The knowledge that companies pay that much to advertise has made my sky that much clearer- still a distance but I know there are people that actually reach it. Like Mrs Steins in NY who has downgraded to a part time gardener, $40,000 salaried Nanny & even canceled 2 of her 3 country club memberships to help cope with the recession.
Someone said aim for the sky, even if you fall you’ll land among stars. I’d like to add that if you do miss the stars on your way down, you’ll still end up with your head above the clouds. If that fails & you’re lucky enough to be overweight you’ll hit earth with a soft cushy bump.

Lord, I ask you to lead me to the rock that is higher than I. You know I’m not greedy, I don’t ask for much. But I’m not wasteful either Lord so I don’t want to waste the blessings you’ve already given me. I want them all so I can also bless those around me who are waiting. I give you all the praise and I receive your blessings. All of them. Today, amen.

www.punkin-patch.com
www.punkinpath.co.uk

No media sales please, thanks.

I do respect you but…

I’m worried that my dentition is slowly changing- I am hooked on Alpen. I don’t know how it started, niether can I pin-point the genesis of it, but for a while I have become quite partial to this cereal. I warm the milk only slightly so my Alpen remains crunchy. I love all the nuts and oats and totally love the raisins. I’m thinking about Alpen now. I should be busy preparing work for Mitul to carry out tomorrow, especially as he’ll be on holiday for 4 days next week. He is off to his village for a celebration- the birth of Shree Krishna.
I prayed with Mitul a while back to give his life to Christ so when he mentioned Shree’s name I was perturbed. I asked if he still believed Jesus was the only way and the only¬†son of the heavenly father, to which he replied; “yes of course. I respect all gods”. How do you share the love and incomparable greatness of God almighty without being condescending to an Indian god decked out in¬†bling and wearing bright pink lipstick?

Why My Rice is Never Soft

Today’s dinner was Jollof Rice, Turkey, Fried plantains, Coleslaw/Potato salad and a glass of coke. I tend to cook my rice just done, not soft. I like the grains separated and chewy, not sticky and …whatever the word is- you know what I mean. I wasn’t raised on chewy rice. On the contrary mum’s rice is quite nice and soft.
It all started in boarding house when Toyin and I went with Mariam to visit her mum. Mariam’s mum made this yummy jollof rice with carrots, all separated. Each grain of rice was coated in its own sauce, same as the carrot pieces. So if you’ve ever eaten at my home and wondered if I simply couldn’t cook plain old rice, be rest assured, I can. It all started years ago when I visited Mariam’s mum…

What irks you?

Everyone has a pet peeve. I have several and I just came across one that is a complete turn off whenever I see it. I received a newsletter detailing the writer’s evening out with friends. His words- “I’ve been to lots of movie night’s but this was the best in 2 year’s“. Emphasis on night’s and year’s. “Night” does not own anything in the sentence, and neither does “year”. The abuse of the apostrophe is my pet peeve. I don’t know why. I did not major in English. I don’t think I’m an above average user of the language but I get distracted when I see an apostrophe ill placed. Funny enough I’m not alone. There is even an apostrophe protection society, no I’m not a member, I have a much more interesting life than being an activist for a punctuation mark.
Other irritations known to me are:

  • The smell of fish
  • Fish bones in my food
  • Rice without fried plantains- not a peeve just an incomplete meal, IMO
  • Standing next to a man or woman on a crowded train with dandruff flakes on their coat or garlic breath or both
  • Sore throat
  • People who try to make me (or anyone) feel inferior

There is more but I won’t be the superintendent of boredom of your day. Thanks for reading, do come back ūüôā

Bread & Cheese

Totally random and unrelated, but that was my lunch yesterday. Bread and cheese is the most basic I do for a meal. It is usually done in anticipation of the real deal- Rice, Chicken Stew and Fried plantains. Now that, I do not play with. I am capable of having that trio 3 times a day. Or more if necessary.  Just thought you should know.