Monday, July 21, 2014

party on wayne

We didn't even unpack the car.

That's how hardcore we were.

We pulled up to the farmhouse late, our friend the Birthday Boy came out to greet us, we grabbed his gift and a bottle of whiskey and were swept inside.
A room full of friends, food, freedom and wine.

The next morning - after the lamb, the champers, the shooters, the laughs, after the speeches and glass breaking, the dancing, the laughing, the remember-when'ing and the ridiculous hugs - the next morning, after the coffee and the warmed-up roti's and the slow patching together of what happened, when and to whom, after we relit the fire and regrouped and rebooted, a couple of explanatory phone calls, surprisingly few (thank god) photos and some promises to Never Mention That Again - we walked back out to the car and drove home.

Those toothbrushes we packed, and night cream and undies and fresh pillowcases and alternative shoes and phone chargers - they spent the night in the car because we didn't need that shit.

It was like children were never even invented.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

50 things about right now

1. It's the winter school holidays.
2. 3 weeks with my babies, my home, my pets, my life. Delicious.

3. Little bits of work in the mornings, then kids, plans, outdoors, friends, food. Slow time.
4. We're reading The BFG.
5. I'm reading Jane Austen.
6. After too many Netflix cartoons I declared a week of pure David Attenborough. They're loving it.
7. I'm watching House of Cards in front of the heater every evening.
8. It's fucking cold.
9. Those microwaveable beanbag goodies are our life-savers.
10. The girls take them to bed, and I reheat them much later when I go to bed.
11. Moments like that I really win at parenting.
12. I wish I was collaging but it's too damn cold in my studio in the evenings.
13. North-facing. It's the only way to build a home.

no filter, no tidying - and no indication at all from this pic how cold it is outside
14. There's a mid-morning sunbeam on my bed that is the most enticing thing I've discovered of late.
15. However, awesome jeans are pretty enticing too ... I've recently discovered some.
16. I may need another pair.
17. I've done one small home improvement every day this holiday.

the girls room - spruced, sorted out and spotless. for now.
18. I'm exceedingly proud of this.
19. Things had really been allowed to slide around here ... 
20. One evening recently husband and I did seven small DIY jobs. Seven.
21. I'd post a pic of my linen cupboard but really, there are limits - even to arbness.

22. As much as I moan about winter, it is a wonderfully subtle season.
23. We really live in a most beautiful place.
24. An old friend, with whom I still connect on Facebook, is totally pro-Israel, posting nasty anti-Palestine stuff.
25. A rare moment when Facebook becomes regrettable, I'd rather not know that about him.
26. As I get older I respect death more. And feel the loss of life more keenly.
27. Being a parent contributes to that, but I think it's a more universal lesson for (just about) 40.
28. Our pup's getting older too.

29. And they're becoming better friends. Lego is still the chew-toy, but she hands him his ass on the lawn every afternoon, running him down 'til he knows who's boss.
30. We're enjoying watching their relationship develop, and his with each of us - there is an uncanny 'little brother' presence he's brought to our house. The errant youngest son we're all raising together.
31. Have I mentioned we're having a wonderful holiday?

32. We planned to try and see lots of friends we struggle to find time for during the crazy school weeks, and we have.
33. Lots of lovely mums and kids time: affirming, warm, supportive, fond afternoons with dear friends.
34. We've got this track on repeat. I think it's our holiday anthem!
35. A 10 foot trampoline has possibly become my best parenting buy EVER. They're on it for hours, and have learnt many lessons about sharing, negotiation, aerodynamics and acrobatics.

36. We're on the hunt for a new mattress. Most Boring Purchase Ever. But long overdue.
37. Apparently futon's went out in the '90's.
38. Hard-as-a-plank futon and all, we've been spending a lot of time in bed lately. Cats, books, bean bags, laptop, tea, bed. Winter has its perks.
39. Coca Cola Double Fudge Cake. Diabolical.
40. I'm working on my next collage pieces and thrumming with inspiration. Now to actually STICK SOMETHING.
41. I've found a Cape Town supplier for Mod Podge. No one but deprived locals will understand the significance of this.
42. Husband and I have discovered our musical tastes are growing apart. I'm okay with this. As long as I don't have to listen to any more Gogol Bordello.
43. Bleeding eardrums.

44. Have I mentioned it's beautiful here?
45.On Saturday I'm attending an all day Learn to Ride motorbiking course.
46. I have 6 months to get my licence before my Learner's expires and I'm determined to do it.
47. On Saturday night we've a raucous party planned.
48. It's very convenient when good friends with more energy for these things have birthdays in the same week as ones husband - we're getting good at piggy-back partying.

49. There's that cake. And the last immediate family birthday for the year. They do come thick and fast round here.
50. Life is good.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

bright star

The greatest poem ever known is one all poets have outgrown: 

The poetry, innate, untold, of being only four years old.

 - Christopher Morley (From "To a Child")

I'd always specialised in non-challenging relationships. Until this girl was born. 
I think she's here to teach me great lessons, she's taught me a few already. 
Namely, love conquers all. It really, really does.
Love you Stella.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


It happened, of course. Despite my totally logistical burnout post-conference, and the feeling that this was one of the most slap-dash birthday parties we've ever produced, Frieda turned 7 and we had a wonderful time celebrating her.

7 is HUGE. And totally magnificent. I wrote this laaaast May, just before she turned 6, and with a couple of tweaks every word stands true. This kid is delicious.

In her Cleopatra costume we threw together literally 15 minutes before everyone was due to arrive.

The Wild Boar cake for which her father must take all the credit (although I'm the one who insisted on pinata-ing it with Smarties).

Her lovely sister who led the rousing rendition of Happy Birthday ... her sweet friends who spoiled her so generously ... MY sweet friends who came and assisted in trampoline-building and cocktail-mixing and generally made us feel loved and supported.

Birthdays are the BEST.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

living the high life

It has to be said that spending 3 nights in a totally luxurious hotel last week did make running a conference that much easier ...

Having a quiet space to escape to for a short nap between the day and evening programmes, a big deep bath with lots of smellies on tap to unwind in at the end of the day, a Nespresso machine with endless pods, the vast and varied breakfast buffet ... not to mention having heating on 3 of the frostiest nights Cape Town has seen this winter ... no one believes me that it was really hard work too!

It was hard work, but affirming - I'm even better at this major logistical stuff than I used to be, it's great to function in an adult realm - although they can be as ridiculous as children really, and it feels so good to be supporting people doing good work.
This conference was for an international donor organisation, and to be told that they had a more successful and productive time for not having to worry about any of the logistics made me feel like I'd contributed in some small measure to the benefits all their grantees will feel on the ground.

It also made me feel conflicted about the amount spent on the conference though. I get that these people (most of whom traveled here on grueling schedules) needed to be comfortable and warm and well fed in order to make provisions to help those that most certainly aren't, but showee, this comfortable? This is not a new issue, we all know the stories about international funders driving lux cars etc etc ... and I won't criticise this particular organisation - not because they were employing me but because they really do amazing work around the world - but I still can't reconcile my head and my heart on this one.

I guess you can't always let the details get in the way of the bigger picture, and I certainly appreciated my own little taste of those luxurious details - I've been back 6 days but it still feels wrong to have to peel my own fruit ...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

hot, okay ... warm, mama

The weather's been atrocious this last week or so. Real big winter storms with gale-force winds and rain squalls and ... hail!

It's impossible to relish winter in South Africa. Impossible for me anyway. All those 'winter delights' like open fires and red wine and hot chocolate and soup are tainted with thoughts of flooded shacks and cold children and desperate people.

I'm not a winter fan, I feel a growing dread as the nights draw in, but I can only imagine the fear of facing these harsh conditions completely exposed.

'The children, the children' someone tweeted this week, in a conversation about the weather and the homeless. But to be honest it's not the children who first break my heart.
It's the thought of the mothers, and their anguish at not being able to keep their kids warm and dry. I can't even go there, the guilt and pain and FURY of being unable to mother, due to circumstances so out of one's own control.

I met a young American girl this week, but from her name I could tell there was a connection to Africa. She said something about 'not having been back very often' and I asked her where she was originally from.
'Rwanda,' she said, 'we left when I was five.'
'1994?' I asked, and she nodded.
Instantly my eyeballs prickled, not at the thought of a five year old girl dislocated from her home, but at the thought of her mother, fleeing to save her children's lives.

Having my own children hasn't really made me feel differently about children, but becoming a mother has certainly made me feel for mothers, all mothers, the world over. And weeks like this make me realise anew that I have it so easy.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Sunday evening

Friday was manic. And the next two (three!) weeks will be manic too. My first delegates land in Cape Town on Wednesday and the last leave on the 15th.

But at 6 pm on Friday I turned off my computer and vowed not to turn it on again until this evening, thinking I'd now do some prep to ease the manic-ness that will be Monday.
Instead I spent the weekend Doing Other Things.

I hung out with my girls. Bought new bed linen for the them and towels for the whole family. Saw friends. Had the time and attention to get in tune with the puppy's digestive system and managed to have a nearly accident-free few days. Did laundry. Did party invites (and did them again when I picked up a glaring spelling mistake). Put a lot of thought and a bit of prep into my next collage project. Took some photos.

At the beginning of the year I vowed to take more pictures of texture and shadow this year. Then I sat on my camera (during a child-related drama I might add ... ).
The camera still works with a bulky elastic band wrapped around it, but more often than not I use my phone. Not ideal, but not too bad.

This afternoon, on my stoep ....

The sun came out after a very stormy weekend, and my latest aloe flower obliged with a most fetching shadow.

Which reminded me of these, taken a week or so ago ...

Late in the afternoon my winteryfied rose trellis cast a double shadow, one from the sun and one from the reflected light off the water.
There's something Japanesey about them I think.

Turns out I didn't do any work this evening. It all awaits for tomorrow. But I'm calm and energised and I think that's the most important thing for a Sunday evening right?

hello June

The next two weeks will be madness. But then there'll be this.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


There's only one thing I really, really miss from my before-children life. Sunset.

For no matter how much older they've gotten, and easier it's gotten, the end of the day remains a time in which bellies must be filled and bodies must be washed (okay, should be washed) and beds must be found.

I miss idly watching the day fade away.
I long to let day slip gently into night with nothing to mark its passing but maybe a drink, and a friend, and a sunset to fill my eyes.

I got quite a few idle sunsets back when I was immobile, and I savoured every one. And I got another one this week, stuck in traffic driving home.
Who knew a traffic jam could be so sweet?

The sky was magnificent. The air crisp and chill. Time seemed to stand as still as the cars around me. And I envied those surfers, tiny dots on the waves, as they caught that magic dusky moment, and rode the night in to shore.

Monday, May 26, 2014

from pinterest, to me, via some very clever friends

You know, it's totally worth pinning things you love to Pinterest. Because, in keeping with the whole vision board philosophy, sometimes if you pin them, they will come.

Pinned: 11 weeks ago
Arrived: last Thursday
Knitted by my lovely cousin in England and sent, unstuffed, in time for my birthday last week. At present he's called Grumpy George and he's not impressed with the bird poop on my window.

Pinned: 1 year ago
Given to me on Saturday
Crocheted by a very dear friend.
(Apparently her daughter made her add the side arm because it looked too phallic. I'm not sure she solved that problem or um, enhanced, it.)

It's been a beautiful handmade birthday this year, with lots of gorgeous things crafted by the giver or a local maker. Lucky me!