Friday, October 24, 2014

into the weekend ....

Midday Friday.

I've banged out 4 hours work without shifting in my seat once (that's a lie, I've gotten up to let at least 35 bull terriers and 27 cats in and out), and now I'm done.

I want to pack all these people in my computer away until Monday. I've done caring for them, organising them, resizing and reframing for them. I've put my thing down, flipped it, reversed it and now I'm outta here.

I turn around at look at my home. It desperately needs hoovering (Albert's still in Malawi!), decluttering. I need fresh flowers, clean laundry and maybe (but who am I kidding here), fewer bullie nose smears on the sliding doors.
Home needs some attention, some love, and it reciprocates so nicely if I give it some, making us all feel welcome and at peace.

It'll be a full weekend - 3 birthday celebrations! - a night out tonight, an art party tomorrow and a family lunch on Sunday, and I'm so looking forward to it.

Time with real people, talking in real life, looking into each others eyes. I need that after a week of screens, screens, screens.

Over and out.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


As Husband pulled into the garage I was waiting, dog leads in my hand.

'The girls have eaten, they need to get in the bath and I need to take the dogs for a walk.'

It had been a long day at home - Frieda has tonsillitis and I have SO MUCH work.

My multi-tasking skills are pretty damn hot, but trying to code HTML while mediating sibling squabbles and work through the rider for South Africa's most famous drag queen proved just a little too diverse for me yesterday ....

The dogs and I set off at a fast trot. It was an unusually still evening and I enjoyed the neighbourhood sounds floating past us - ice tinkling in sundowners, baths running, dinners cooking - I enjoyed not being part of any of that (even the drinks!), moving quickly through the cool air.

Not being encumbered with small people we walked faster and further than usual, finding ourselves in streets and cul-de-sacs I'd not walked through before, and being later than the usual dog-walking set, we were alone.

Or so I thought.


An owl, somewhere close.

I slowed and scanned around the growing dusk, the trees and bushes strangely in sharper relief as the light faded.

Hu - hoooo.

Of course he'd spotted us before we saw him. A-perch a branch only just above my head we stared at each other for a long while, totally motionless and relaxed, then I left him to his evening hunting and walked on.

It was getting darker as we headed home. The shady pathways we'd come on felt closer and more mysterious now, the dogs stayed close, all of us breathing hard.
Those with some sense kept their mouths closed as the clouds of spring midges gathered. The dogs sneezed and coughed.

Approaching home I could see darkness in the upstairs windows, the girls weren't in the bath yet. Half an hour before that would have infuriated me, now it was totally fine.

We burst in the door in a gust of crisp air and renewed good humour, and smothered them in hugs and laughter.

A necessary walk. Thank you owl. Thank you dogs.

*African Eagle Owl pic from flickr*

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

colour me sunday

We did some gardening and Frieda made a nest on the lawn with some branches.

Stella preferred the 'less scratchy' stoep, and made up her own bed there.

I finally (nearly) completed my DIY project - painting some of the cubbies in this bookshelf different colours.
I also succumbed to that incredibly cheesy, but fun, decor thing of colour coordinating the books (well, trying to - I need more blue books!). 

Chopping veggies for stir-fry in the late afternoon sun.

A gentle, colourful Sunday was just what we needed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

muizenberg festival

There was a festival in our hood this last week. Music, art, traders, an Open Studio Tour and more ...

I'm a little burned from the annual Observatory Festival which, while fun in places, general descended into a wind-swept display of public drunkenness and desperation from the crafters who'd been over-charged for their stalls and promised lots of well-heeled customers, not the rabble of students after cheap beer and street people having their - all of it covered in a layer of grime and generally viewed through a plastic shopping bag wrapped 'round your face by the wind.
Get the picture?

But .... Muizenberg Festival was nothing like that. Maybe a little windy, and there may have been some drinking, ahem, but it was largely a community-driven celebration of local talent with a good dose of quirk and lots of fun.

We joined the parade on Saturday morning and frankly, if your heart's not stirred by drums and trumpets and belly-dancers with giant silver wings you're just an old fart really.
Stella hitched a ride on a friendly penguin - my brother, who just got engaged to that lovely lady top right! Happy penguin, happy us!
Then a performance by a children's theatre group, with this astounding heron puppet, and a walkabout Studio tour - 25 stops full of arty and bizarre offerings - and later there were free slush puppies (with optional rum for the grown-ups) and a jumping castle under a sprinkler system for the kiddies in the backyard of one of the local shops.

It felt ... friendly. And that was nice.

And here's a thing ... the couple offering the free slush puppy/jumping castle/kiddie fest (an 'activation' they called it) I realised after a while were this couple, and I was touched and inspired at the proof that life, even when you can't imagine that it will, does go on.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

the BEST thing happened

Last year someone called me a name, I wrote about it here.

It wasn't the name, as much as the circumstances of the calling of it and that it ended up playing out in front of our children which bothered me.

Those children have not been in the same school for over a year now, and to be frank I've not encouraged an extra-school friendship (I think it's pretty clear why right?) even though there have been requests ... basically I managed to avoid the family issue.

Until today.

Today we bumped into the mum and daughter in question and I have to admit our girls got on well and were thrilled to see each other.
While the girls whispered and giggled, we had a drink, eyed each other while making conversation. We were being pleasant and mature. See, I knew we could.

Then ... to both of us, and in front of a friend of hers who'd joined the table:
'Mum, what was that name XXX's Mum called you?'

Silence, and then squeals from the guilty party. 'Noooo, girls, no, how could you bring that up?!'

We should've known the kids wouldn't let us pretend it never happened. We all fell about laughing, at the situation and each other.

Situation defused. Air cleared. And I got my revenge without having to lift a finger.

Children are so cool.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

25 things about right now*

1. From famine to feast - I've got so much work!
2. Just in time for Spring school holidays and the MOST glorious summers days.
3. It's a good life when one is able to spend 3 hours on the beach in the middle of your work day ...

4. Spring at the lake is not all fluffy goslings and pretty flowers though, it's also territorial Egyptian geese trying to drown those goslings and disembowel their parents.
5. My daughters have both had nightmares recently that 'something' has taken me away from them. Related?
6. In the next few months that 'something' will be work, but fortuitously the fantastic au pair I had earlier in the year is available again - she starts next week!
7. I wonder how she is at crafts? I'm still feeling badly about not initiating crafts.
8. Frieda in particular misses it as her school days are so much more academically focused now.
9. But they had a little ceramics painting session at a friend's studio recently, and actually they're really good at getting crafty all by themselves.

10. Husband's been providing some 'crafting' opportunities too ..

How long 'til she designs her own tag you think?
11. This pup is just growing and growing. We got him de-knackered last week poor guy.

12. This hasn't stopped him 'trying to have a piggy-back' on Lego though ... hopefully that urge will recede with his shrinking balls.
13. The day I took him to the vet the traffic was murder and I ended up walking the last block or two to get there on time. He was freaked out by all the cars and I had to cajole and drag him along, the bright red lead in this picture reduced to a short, dirty, knotted thing after our camping weekend. It suddenly struck me that had I been black, most of the people witnessing us would've assumed I'd stolen him. That's #whiteprivilege right there folks.
14. On the subject of privilege, Albert is still not back. As my workload increases our house descends into disheveled madness.
15. Not helped by a couple of mad DIY projects I've started and ... have I mentioned my completion problem?
16. We went camping!

17. Have I mentioned how much I love camping?
18. I LOVE camping. Even with strep throat. And one sick child. And a crazed puppy. And a pig which wandered around driving both dogs to new heights of craziness. And it rained a little. But still: LOVE camping.
19. When else do you find time to just lie about together? Especially the girls with their Dad.
20. Because honestly we're pretty good at lying around together in general. I sometimes wish we were a 'climb every mountain ford every stream' family, but truthfully, we're pretty slothful!

21. I am in awe at the beauty of my girls these days. I know this is a parental prerogative but seriously, how flawless the skin, how clear the eyes, how shiny the hair? How uninhibited? Magic.
22. This one has been throwing some interesting thoughts at me lately ... 'Mum, if a boy marries a boy they can't have the sex hey, because - too bad - no vaginas!' Luckily she didn't really pose this as a question, and wandered off afterwards. Am I prude for not wanting to discuss homosexual sex with my 4 yr old?
23. We've been reading a lot of Famous Five. I was worried that it would all be too old-fashioned and sexist but actually it's been a big hit. The girl/boy George is particularly topical and they're all jolly good sports which is good right?

Photo by Stella, dirty thumbnail (not mine!) courtesy of camping.
24. But Five Run Away Together revealed some troublesome classism - a lot of good servant/bad servant stuff - luckily as the primary readers we still get to skip read problematic lines.

25. Excitingly there's lots of this happening though. She's got the Reading Fever - can't help but read everything her eyes fall upon. Soon we won't be able to censor her texts as much, but how wonderful to see her embark on this life-long joy!

And a bonus one ... what is it which draws us to photograph food? Even when camping!

*because that's how busy I am!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

here kitty

My completed cat collage. Done working from this photo. (Taken a year ago I see!)

I really should diversify beyond my pets at some point.

I'm enjoying collage so much - especially this kind of project, using cut pieces and putting them together to find the best way to show light and depth - it's like a puzzle of sorts.

I've started a facebook page to keep all my collaging news ... and I'm hard at work on my next piece already, something very different to this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

oops ...

We all know it's just plain mean to laugh at someone else's woes but ... sometimes they're just really funny.

Remember this?

Now check out this.

Firstly, this is not a residential building - that wouldn't really be funny at all - but the funny part was that I nearly saw this happening.
Earlier in the day I drove past to see a man with a chainsaw going at the base, while two guys hang on to ropes tied to the still-standing tree. Now palm trees are light, but not that light and as I whipped passed I noticed the angle of the tree/house/ropes and thought: 'Uh oh.'

Later that day we stopped to take this pic.

This next one isn't my picture, but that is the mouth of our lake, where it runs into the sea. The water levels for the whole estuary are controlled by opening and closing the mouth, and with big rain predicted for later this week the Council decided to open it ...

Again, as we say in SA, 'Ag shame.'

Monday, September 15, 2014

child's play

A little scene I discovered on the windowsill in the sun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

undeniably privileged

Albert, the 32 year old Malawian guy who cleans for us, has gone home for a couple of months.

He comes in every Monday to clean the house and do the ironing, and every second Thursday to do the garden, wash a car or some extra cleaning.
He has work for all the other days of the week with different families around here.

At the end of August he went home for the first time in 3 years. To repair the roof on his parents house. To set up an internet cafe in his tiny village to make some income for them. To see his kids. To get his passport renewed, and hopefully his visa.
It remains to be seen whether he gets back in through the border.

He's 32. He has 9 people who rely on his income. He hasn't seen his kids for 3 years.

I am undeniably privileged.

Since then I've been cleaning our house. It seemed to make sense while I've been between contracts, and feeling a little spare.
My Mum's lovely cleaner has been happy to help, but it seems a bit much to ask her to navigate a wild adolescent dog, and I've felt a bit faint at the thought of doing all the explaining of what goes where and how things work.
I've quite enjoyed having my space to myself too, and 'keeping house' for the family.

I've had mixed reactions to this - sage nods from those friends who've been 'doing' for themselves for years, aghast stares from those who couldn't imagine having that much free time, let alone choosing to spend it like that!

How undeniably privileged are we that this is even a talking point?

There's something comforting for me about housework. I don't love it, but I've been appreciating the chance to get to know our space so very well, to appreciate anew what someone else does for us (yes, for money, but still) on a regular basis.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up for another 6 weeks though ... especially as I've had more work confirmed today.

More work! A big conference early next year, more civil society activisty stuff. I am grateful for another chance to work on something that matters.

I am grateful that I have the flexibility to chose whether to clean my house myself, or not. I am grateful to have work coming in which stimulates and affirms me.

I am grateful and aware, that I am undeniably privileged.