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 best.day.ever - 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.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

list of 5: 5 things I'm really good at that no one will pay me for

1. Finding ridiculously small things in ludicrous places.
Two nights ago Husband, up a ladder, dropped a tiny screw into the rose bush. In the dark.
I found it within a minute.

2. Remembering the most inane detail about completely arbitrary and inconsequential crap.
A ridiculous example is buried deep in this post.
(Which, can I just say, I knew exactly where to find because I remembered  the year I originally posted it ... it's a gift right?)

3. Sticking my foot in my mouth.
Like this afternoon when I said (to a group of people I'd never met before) something about someone else I'd met clearly being a massive Christian and started loudly imitating an alarm siren going off (with hand gestures and everything), while the friend I was with used her baby as a shield to frantically gesture to me to SHUT UP THEY ARE ALL MASSIVE CHRISTIANS.

4. Apparently, ruining people's fun.

As in, 'Get out of the ball pit NOW, we're going home.'
(Because Mummy just embarrassed herself socially.)

5. Taking dogs to the vet.
FIVE trips last month and tomorrow I take one back to get his stitches removed and the other to a canine orthopod to get checked out for possible leg surgery.

I'm sure this all adds up to a good resume for something right? Anyone?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

blind date

Today I started, and completed, a home DIY project.

I say I, but in fact I had help.

On the weekend I took down the horrifically ugly kitchen blind, worn and torn and caked with 35 years of cooking grease (you can just about see it, as well as the exquisite tiles this kitchen is blessed with, here).

I dug through the fabric stash and found this piece from IKEA, sent to me by Julie in 2008! I've had it all this time, never finding the right application, but clearly it was waiting for the day it perfectly matched my orange 1970's kitchen units and spoke directly to the vast array of birds (including many herons) we see out this window. Stash synchronicity - don't you love it?

My Mum then stepped in, with smart advice about using Vilene (miracle of the gods!) and her sewing supplies (I have none) to measure and cut and stitch. We whipped it together this morning (thanks Mum!) and I came home to iron it and tack it on.
I even cut the tacks to the right length!

But of course it wasn't that simple, and of course it wouldn't actually roll when I put it up, and of course Husband had to spend an hour this evening swearing and battling the 35 year old mechanism to get it to work.
It's never as easy as it looks for SouleMama is it ....

However it is there, ready for the spring sun which sears through that window just when we're preparing dinner. It's the only time of year we really need a blind there, but it's crucial. And now it's pretty too.

A very productive project at a time when I really needed one. Life's been feeling a little aimless of late, it was good to get something DONE.