Grateful for a Working Bathroom

We had a few issues with our bathroom: the ceiling was cracked, the paint was peeling, and the hot and cold water for the shower would not mix correctly causing uncomfortably hot showers. We notified the landlord and, during the past two weeks, contractors came in to fix the space.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Working Bathroom. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Our place has been a bit topsy-turvy as water damages were discovered and walls in the bedroom closet had to be fixed. The work is now complete and we have a bathroom with a new look – and a shower that no longer burns the skin. This week I am grateful that we live in a building that is looked after by the landlord. When we discover an issue that needs fixing, the job is done no matter how big or small.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week)


Contributions for the past week: 

Transitionally Speaking shares her gratitude for Bountiful Berries

Scrapydo shares her gratitude for the sparrows she sees every morning

Amy shares her gratitude for the hard work of bees

Amanda shares her gratitude for warm summer days

Posted in My Gratitude Project | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Sudden Downpour

It was warm when I left home this morning. The sky was a clear blue, the birds were singing, and I felt that the day would turn out to be a good one. I always enjoyed walking down the main street looking at window displays and browsing through the stores. Today was the first day of my vacation and nothing could take away that pleasure.

I stopped by the bakery to eat one of their homemade pies for breakfast. Spinach and feta. Yum! I know, not a breakfast type of meal. But when on holiday why not eat what you enjoy? I love the flakiness of Anita’s pastry, and the creamy-filled pie always hit the spot. She wasn’t too busy yet, so my new-found friend sat down with me for a while to pass away the time chatting a bit about my plans for the next month.

I stepped out into the road and noticed that storm clouds had gathered while I was inside. I sent up a fervent wish that I would not get caught in the storm. I decided to head along to the market to pick up some fruit and vegetables before heading on home – getting drenched is not my idea of fun. No sooner had I made my decision, the heavens opened. A summer deluge, fast and wet. With no thought at all, I ran from the edge of the sidewalk to the nearest door – that of a store I had not yet visited since my arrival to this town.

As I opened the door, I heard the tinkle of bells. Water was dripping off my hair and running down my back. I hoped the store owner did not mind me seeking refuge here. I looked around and saw that I had entered what looked like an antiques store. Graceful tables were cluttered with objects d’art, shelves were filled with bound tomes, and every nook and cranny was filled with relics of the past. As I glanced around the dimly lit interior, an old man walked towards me. His appearance suited the environment: his face was well-worn with the passing of time, his slight stoop indicating the passing of years.

“Hope you don’t mind me coming in like this.”
“Not at all young lady. I could do with a bit of company. Wait a bit, let me fetch you a towel to dry yourself off.”
I smiled gratefully as he shuffled to the back. Such a gentleman. And he looked exactly that dressed in his bow tie and waistcoat.
“Here you are. Afterwards come to the back and I shall make you a warm cup of tea.”
This is what I loved about vacation. There was no need to rush off somewhere, so I could satisfy my curiosity a little about this man whom I had not yet seen around town. Moving towards the back of the store, my steps were halted by a beautiful silver candelabra that had been hidden by an armoire.
“How beautiful it is!” I breathed.
The old man smiled. “You have an eye for beauty and history, that is for sure. I have always found the story behind this candelabra intriguing.”
Lifting the silver candlestick holder, he placed it carefully in my hands.
“This story is intertwined with both love and sadness. It began 200 years ago when this candelabra was given to a young couple getting married.”

I followed him to the table on which there were the makings of tea. I settled into the chair he offered, placing the silverware I held in my hands carefully in front of me. I love listening to stories from the past, and this one looked like it was going to be a treat!

What do you think is the story of the candelabra?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Sudden Downpour)



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Burned Apartment

The harsh sound of the fire alarm often echoes in our building, the noise painful and so loud it hurts the eardrums. A few years ago when the fire alarm went off, the cause was a real fire and not a false alarm.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Result of a fire. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The smoke travelled far up into the building and its scent lingered for days. The fire completely gutted the apartment, leaving nothing in its wake.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Burned apartment. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The cause of the fire was due to carelessness. Someone flicked the butt of their cigarette off the edge of their balcony. The cigarette butt fell onto one of the mattresses that someone had thrown away and placed next to the garbage bins down below. The mattress caught alight and the fire spread to the apartment above.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

From the bottom up. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My heart went out to the people who lived in the suite above the dumpsters for they lost everything.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Desolate. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

As a result of the fire, the landlord moved the position of the dumping area. Each day the workers move the furniture that has been thrown away to a distance beyond the walls of the building. Notices continue to be placed in our letterboxes reminding us not to throw things of the balcony. Sometimes I think a visual reminder needs to be added.

Have you been a victim of a fire?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Photography prompt: fire/season of summer)

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A Piano Memory

Credit: Favim

Credit: Favim

The piano that I often helped to polish stood gleaming against the wall; the stool covered in red cloth pushed underneath. During the day the piano was not played but stood in pride of place with photos adorning its mahogany top. Most days, after his arrival home from work, he would open the piano to reveal the black and white keys. He would sit down with a smile of pleasure and move his fingers along the keys to create sound. At times he would place sheet music on the music rack, but often the song flowed through his fingers by memory.

I now realise that playing the piano after work was my dad’s way to relax after a stressful day. His pre-dinner drink would be on hand as played the tunes of the songs he loved. This was his time alone – a time he took even over the weekend. The sound of the piano would echo throughout the whole house and the silence that came when the sound stopped was the signal for supper time.

I wonder where the music took him as his fingers moved over the keys. Did the haunting ballads take him to still, faraway places? Did the jives and the cha-chas take him to the dance halls? Did certain songs take him to places in his past? Did the music make him think of the people he had in his life?

The piano lived with my dad until the day he died. Up until then it still stood gleaming against the wall, waiting to be played. Now it remains a memory of my father and my childhood.

Do you have any memories of piano players?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

9this memory of my father was sparked by Kellie Elmore’s FWF image prompt)

Posted in Free Write Friday, Memoirs | Tagged , , , , , | 35 Comments

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretLast year I received The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty as a gift. The cover of the novel looked attractive and the story line seemed intriguing so I put it on my stash of Books To Read, deciding to save it for a time when I could savour the story. The last few days was that time. I read uninterrupted by work responsibilities and any deadlines. Being on holiday was the perfect time for me to enjoy this book with its unexpected twists.

The story centres on a letter written by a husband that was to be opened upon his death. Cecilia Fitzpatrick, however, finds it while her husband is very much alive. She hesitates to open it, mulling on whether the letter may answer some of the questions she has about his current behaviour. John-Paul’s continued strange behaviour encourages her to open the letter and, in its opening, releases a set of consequences that affects not only her life but also the lives of others.

From the first few pages, Moriarty’s story drew me in and my interest did not lag. Why not? The story was unlike any other I have read. Unexpected consequences kept occurring. The characters appeared authentic to me: their emotions felt real, their reactions expected. This book read like a description of events that could happen in my own neighbourhood. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I have decided to look for any other novels written by this same author.

If you enjoy reading true to life stories, then this book is for you. A perfect holiday read that will encourage you to turn the pages.

Do you enjoy reading true-to-life dramas?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Posted in Book Reviews and Reader Responses | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

A Street Scene

As I walk down the street I notice a few things that may loosely be described as containers: the flower planters, vehicles and buildings.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Street Scene. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The ones I enjoy looking at the most are the ones that contain the flowers as they definitely bring colour to the grey-like street.

Which containers do you prefer to see?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: containers)

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Grateful for an Indoor Pool

In the building where I live, we have access year round to an indoor heated swimming pool. The water is kept clean and blue; the temperature maintained.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The indoor swimming pool. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

During the school holidays -summer and winter – I take my girls down to swim. They have spent many hours in this water practising their swimming, learning how to breathe underwater, and playing to their heart’s content.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Watching the children swim. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

There are times when I join my children in the water – and often had to when they were learning how to swim. I am not a keen swimmer myself so often I watch them from the sidelines – or spend the time reading my latest book.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Relaxing at the side of the pool. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I am grateful for the use of this swimming pool. Not only has it been a way for the children to exercise, but it has also been a great way to cool down during the summer months!

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week)

Contributors of the past week: 

Scrapydo with My First Contribution to Sharing Gratitude

Transitionally Speaking with Gratitude Wednesday: To Write Again

Angeline with The gratitude Attitude: Being a Survivor

Art and Fiction with The Simple Things in Life

Amanda with Gratitude



Posted in My Gratitude Project | Tagged , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The Castrol Series

There are times when I enjoy watching the adverts that break up a television series. Some of the funniest I have seen were the Castol ads from South Africa – they never failed to make me laugh. (Castrol is a motor oil that is used for cars). There were a series of them featuring three characters:  Boet, Swaer and Moegaai.

The adverts reflect the typical accent of South Africans and represent a caricature of the Afrikaner and the black man.

Looking at these simple and short ads bring a smile to my face. This might be because I am South African and it brings to mind so many people who are reflected in these characters.

The one for Worker’s Day sends a message to all workers in SA to take their day of rest:

The following brings in another caricature and a play on words:

To enjoy the following advert, knowledge of the tokoloshe is required. According to Zulu tradition, the tokoloshe is mischievous spirit that can bring you harm. One way to keep the tokoloshe away from you is to put a brick under each leg of your bed.

Their encounter with a Frenchman:

And with a little tongue in cheek:

Even mention is made of the change in South African sports:

Watching these video clips bring back a little of my South African memories. Sometimes I wonder whether Castrol ads are still run on South African TV.

A-Z blogging challengeWhich was your favourite Castrol ad?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Frizz’s A-Z Challenge. This week C is tagged)

Posted in A - Z Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Reading with Little Ones

When growing up I remember I was always reading: with my mom or on my own. As I reach back into my early memories, I recall my mother reading The Folk of the Faraway Tree to me and my sisters. I know she read us Noddy as well because I remember the collection we used to have. I have memories of sitting with my parents in the living room reading my book while they read theirs.

With my own children, I have created the same habits. When they were little, I read to them before bedtime – one, two, or maybe even three stories. I looked at picture books with them and discussed the drawings with them. We would lie on my bed, the three of us, all reading: me with my novel in my hand, and they with their picture books. Sometimes they would fall asleep but often just paging through the books relaxed them and gave them the energy to continue with the day.

Now I work with young children and I have come to realise that not all parents read every day with their sons and daughters. I have had to teach some of my students how to hold a book, how to treat the stories that they are reading with respect, and treat the books with care. Often I am repairing books: taping in torn pages or repairing a ripped page. I am hopeful that by the end of the school year, they will have learned to respect their reading material a little more. And to remember that there are others that would like to read the book that they are currently reading.

When I am asked by parents what they can do to ready their child for school, or even what homework they can do with their child, I suggest that they read with their son or daughter – no matter in what language. It is in reading with the little ones that you can teach them how to handle books, to look at the images of the picture book, to predict what the story is going to be about, to retell the story. And it is reading with little ones that you foster within them a love of reading, and a love of learning.

As I am readying myself for the start of the new academic year, I find myself relaxing with a book in my hand. Not only am I doing so, but so are my daughters. It is the visits to another world that I hope to encourage in the new crop of students I will meet in September.

Do you have the habit of reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Miz B’s Musing Mondays)

Posted in Learning and Teaching, Musing Mondays | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

A Communal Garden

As soon as the days begin to warm in spring and the forecast indicates no cold spells, landscapers come in to plant flowers in the communal garden of the building I live in.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A hanging basket. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

As the trees become green and the flowers take hold, the garden becomes a haven in the city.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

View of a communal garden. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

And sometimes you may even come upon one of nature’s shy creatures who scamper away as soon as you are seen.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A chipmunk sighting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The start of spring brings budding flowers and colour to our world after the grey, browns and whites of winter. An array of colour and beauty which is enjoyed even more during the summer.

Do you enjoy spring and summer gardens?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge prompt: wood/season of spring)

Posted in Cee's Fun Foto Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments