One of the few songs I still know off by heart is "My Favourite Things" from "The Sound of Music". In fact, musical songs, a few old hymns (and Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears gar!) stick in my head, when everything else cooler (think opera arias and Radiohead ballads) seem to leak out somehow. But what makes knowing those particular songs (barring Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne) one of my "favourite things" is singing them with my friends whenever I go back to KZN. Somehow, in the course of hanging out together, usually at someone's house, or out at Oribi Gorge, or even sitting 'round a kitchen table, we will sing together, different people taking the lead according to whoever knows the song best. There's something about the sound of all our voices raised together - even in the wholesome tones of Julie Andrews - that warms my heart every time it happens, re-establishes a connection.
So I want to write about the little things - like spontaneous singing together - that warm me. Big things are great: going overseas, meeting famous people I have admired for years, getting awarded a degree, going to a wedding or seeing the nation united in a sea of yellow. But there are little things too, the proverbial "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes" - just like the song people! - that also make my life silly and sweet.
So here, in no particular order, are my favourite things:
1.) Popcorn and cheese
When I have had a particularly long day (usually a particularly long few days), I curl up on my narrow residence bed under my north-facing window in the sunshine or the pink cast of the sunset, and have a few bowls of popcorn and cheese. Zama (my boyfriend's sister) first told me about this, and I thought it sounded a little odd. Until I popped myself a pot of kernels (I make things the old fashioned way) and cut a few slices of cheddar cheese and discovered it was my ideal comfort food. I suppose ideally the cheese would be grated, but I don't own one (the student life) so a nibble of cheese with a few popcorn kernels and I am all set to unwind.
2.) My Kindle
When I am curled up on my bed with popcorn and cheese in one hand to unwind, I always have a book clutched in the other. That is, until I acquired my *Kindle*. Every time I pick it up, I marvel at its brilliance. I hold it lovingly, I treasure and baby it in case anything happens to it and I take it EVERYWHERE (except Central Joburg. That would be silly). I read it in shopping queues, in the car, aloud to my boyfriend, and I marvel at its light weight. Everyone who experienced the horror of my bag this holiday will appreciate how many books I usually carry with me. Now, I can carry hundreds. If I were Jerusha, I would write an adoring, rhyming poem to it.
I only started flossing in earnest last year and I am never going back. My teeth got whiter, my breath got fresher everything just feels so much cleaner. If you don't like flossing, you haven't tried the right floss. Oral B is great, and so is Jordan. The others are distinctly unpleasant. Now go forth and try it yourself...You'll thank me when you're sixty-six and you don't lose your front teeth.
4.) Grilled Sardines on Toast
I recently became a pescetarian, and somehow, I really crave the oily fish. This is a Dad thing, as my father has had grilled sardines on toast at least once a week since forever. I used to turn up my nose at it, but now I relish the crunchy, oily deliciousness. Mmmm...
5.) Psalm 107 (King James Version)
Even if you aren't Christian or even religious, you can appreciate the music in these lines.
For he satisfieth the longing soul,
and filleth the hungry soul with
6.) Long, juicy phone calls (skype or otherwise)
I believe birthdays should be celebrated, just so that you can hear from all your friends. The best presents I receive are the phone calls: chatty, joyful with a good dose of catch-up thrown in. Of course phone calls any other time of year are always welcome (I feel as though the thirst of my very soul is slaked) and - y'all know who you are - thank-you for every phone call I have ever received. It was special.
7.) Making cards and wrapping presents
This is a Mum thing. All the years I was at Rhodes, my Mum would send me parcels (wrapped up like a fortress) full to the brim with goodies. Whether it was food, clothes, books, an interesting card or newspaper article scrap, all the little bits and piece (and fights I had with the post office people) really enriched my time in Grahamstown. When my friend Marco made me a card last year for my birthday, I was so touched I decided to do a little spoiling of my own. It's a really rewarding kind of art, because it is the kind that you give.
8.) Napping in the sun
I read recently about a philosophy professor who believes that an afternoon siesta should be compulsory. Apart from renewing all one's senses, he says that it is a form of independence and rebellion against a mechanised society that, if it could, would squeeze every drop of blood from one. I don't often get the chance, but when I do, it does feel extremely luxurious. Perhaps even more so because I feel like I am emulating Hobbes (as in Calvin and).
I often think if we all listened to Hobbes (and all other sensible tigers and cats) life would feel a lot more luxurious. Especially in the little things.