Tuesday, August 16, 2016

and what I've been doing with it ...

All this free time that is.

Yes, there's been lots of productive practical stuff, but there's been lots of indulgent fun stuff too.

I joined a gym (which falls into a category somewhere in between the two above), and I've actually been going!

I finished an embroidery project to gift to my SIL for her birthday.

For which I also made Nutella Cheesecake, among other things.

I lost an hour or two to Seinfeld clips on You Tube.

I may have lost a couple more watching endless movie trailers on the same channel.

I might even have watched a couple of episodes of Ray Donovan one morning while everyone else was at school/work. Although I'll never admit it.

I started some washi doodles on the large expanse of living room wall which we're kind of flummoxed as to what to do with. We can't hang anything framed there (damn lake is so reflective) we'll probably (hopefully) bash a large section out of it in the near future, I had a lovely piece of fabric up there which it turns out husband hated - so it's become my sketchpad, on which I will doodle in totally non-permanent and forgiving washi tape, because blank wall is just .. blank, right?

We sneaked in another long weekend away, the Cederberg this time, with my parents and assorted extended family.

And just this last week, I've been nursing this poor Tiger. Chicken pox yo.

Then this afternoon, the call. Dates are set, things are back on, and as of tomorrow I need to start easing back into things. Work things.

It's been a magnificent hiatus. I think I'll open a bottle of wine this evening and eek out the last few hours.

Friday, August 12, 2016

the gift of time

We came back from Tankwa to a house of chaos and mountains of laundry. My office was a tip - my hasty departure for Durban evident - accumulated crap from a week away strewn about the place.
I spent the first day back trying to make sense of it all, trying to catch up to myself.

The next event, a 3 day conference in Pretoria, was looming large and I needed to pull myself together and get on it stat.

And then it got postponed.

Postponed as in, it has to contractually happen before the end of October but new dates have not been set and therefore I. am. free.
For a bit.

Free to stop for rainbows.
To hang with my girls.
To make decent suppers, and lemon curd.
To read.
To create.
To hang with my pets in the sun in the mornings when hours expand and move slow.
To sort out some cupboards and update some shit and get photo albums sorted and catch up on my blog.
To lift the girls to school and spend time with them afterwards.
To catch up with friends.
To breathe a bit.

This time is a gift. It's not scheduled free time - a statement in itself an oxymoron. It's not 'ermahgerd will I ever have work again time'. It's time which will end in a big job, time which could end in a phone call, an email, any day now.
Time which is precious until then, and there's virtually nothing I can do which isn't exactly the right thing to be doing at the time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

a weekend in tankwa

The morning after the post before I started my day in Durban, hungover AF, 27 degrees C, trying to keep my business brain about myself .... and many, many hours later ... ended it in Tankwa, 6 degrees C, with a cold gin in my hand and the most incredible experience of watching an aardvark snuffle down the road ahead of us fresh in my mind.

Lux accommodation with assorted dead animals.
This one was the deadest.
Love me some shale.
Big skies with tiny daisies.
And other beautiful flowers.
Free kids.
 It was our now annual weekend with these friends. Different venue, same epic meals, litres of wine, kakpraat and ferocious card games.
I spent the weekend in a post-Durban fug - weary and disorientated and slightly drunk most of the time - but so happy to be back with my people and off on an adventure.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

a week in Durban

I've been in Durban this week - hosting a group of delegates to the Int AIDS Conference here. Running 5 events, managing their registration and hotels and arrangements, being their bitch really.
(I ran into an old client while here and said just that - her gratifying response: 'Well, you are the best bitch in the business' - ha ha.)

I've run into so many old clients, connections, colleagues, friends. It's been like a live walk through of my CV - filmmakers, activists, artists, funders - I've run into people I've worked with at all the various stages of my career over the last 16 years, including the guy I did my very first large-scale event with, back in 1999! We met for dinner on my first night here - I hadn't seen him since 2001 - and had such a great catch-up.

It's been really good.

Our boutique hotel is totally fabulous - comfy, welcoming, homely, extraordinarily helpful - the group I'm with are fun and relaxed and appreciative. Durban is WARM. The food is delicious.

It's been really busy.

The events have been big. The days long and the conference really frenetic. The body is sore and the feet are tired.

It's been affirming.

A week away, working, adulting on my own not for kids or home, has been restful (in that weird way when after you become a parent any time you're not parenting is restful, despite how busy doing other things you might be) and empowering. To go to sleep and wake up alone allows for rare moments of quiet reflection.
Appreciative clients, epic problem solving, well laid plans - the week has been full of those, and I thrive on them.

It's been sad.

The content is sobering, the problems seemingly insurmountable sometimes. So many people working so hard and, relatively, so little change in the lives of the people most affected by this disease. See this summary of Charlize Theron's excellent address on Opening Night - she's so spot on.
(I realise more and more I'm too cynical and too emotional to get any closer to the work done by the activists I work with. This shit upsets me so much and I have zero faith in governments and policy makers to make a difference. This is the stuff of another post probably.)

But overall, it's been fantastic.

My last event just ended, I have a glass of wine - I'm catching up here, overhearing conversations about harm reduction in intravenous drug users, about multi-drug resistant TB, about the next conference in Paris, about the latest shooting in the States - and goddamn, I'm grateful to be me.

But wait, I have one more job: I'm throwing together a Conference Wrap Party for later tonight. Because these people work hard, because their work is hard, because my body needs to dance and because ...

Thursday, July 07, 2016

adrenalin junkies

Two blonde ladies in their 40's, sharing a pot of Earl Grey in a Durban beachfront hotel restaurant.

Adrenalin junkies.

It's not often that I meet other people in my profession. Why fraternise with the competition right? But as the woman opposite me talked about how stressed she was - scribbling furiously in her notebook - how difficult it was balancing all her clients, how when she finally closed her eyes at night she had lists swirling over the inside of her eyelids, I began to suspect I'd met a kindred spirit.

And when she looked up and I saw the sparkle in her eye, I knew it.

'But you love it right?' I said.
'Wouldn't do anything else in the world' she answered with a big grin.

Adrenalin junkies.

The common ground between us sprouted flowers as we spoke.
How many people tell us they'd never be able to do what we do. Clients who get concerned at how calm we are. How inside we're screaming. Wearing so many different hats you can put your neck out whipping them on and off. The terror of the error, the thrill of the win. Behind the scenes and in front of the client.

The inevitable crash. The juggle. The struggle. The love of the game.

We spent 20 minutes together and I felt more debriefed than I had in years. More energised too, inspired and affirmed.

Yesterday a friend reminded me how a few short years ago I was still angst'ing about what I was going to be when I grew up, and meanwhile I was there already. Life is what happens while you're making plans or something like that.


To be an adrenalin junkie I reckon you have to either be over-confident or totally reckless. Maybe the 40's are the perfect combination of both. It's certainly working for me.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I like big birds (and I can not lie ...)

Jackal Buzzard at Eagle Encounters last week.
Jackal Buzzard in the tree in our garden this week.
Holding a 13kg Cape Vulture aloft.
Cleanest Vulture you're ever going to see - that neck hasn't buried inside a rotting carcass ever (at Eagle Encounters)
Hadeda's - most hilarious noisy birds - in our tree.
Sooty Gull (and friends) trying to pilfer off a seal currently enjoying a little break from dodging sharks in False Bay (by hanging out in our lake).
Magnificent graffiti by Sonny in Woodstock, Cape Town (not my pics). I drove past this recently and fell in love.
... I'm hooked and I can't stop staring.

Monday, June 27, 2016

travelling without moving

Last week I organised an event in the City. The schedule necessitated my being there at 08:30 for a couple of hours, and then not being needed again until much later that afternoon.

It seemed silly to travel all the way home, and back, again so I went in search of breakfast, and somewhere to work for the day.

It was a crisp winters day in the Company's Garden, where I had brunch with this cheeky fella.

(And yes, that is a giant weaver bird nest in the background. I didn't go in, it was still damp from the morning dew and distinctly pongy.)

Then I headed to Sea Point, a part of town I very seldom visit - even less so since we moved to the other side of the peninsula - and spent the afternoon there. Visiting deli's much lauded on Instagram by the Cape Town hipster community (only to find them full of Jewish pensioners having lunch) ...

... and drooling in decor shops I'd only read about in magazines.

Eventually settling in a bakery with wi-fi and big glass front windows, where I spent a productive few hours working and watching a different part of my world go by.

An impromptu business trip to the other side of town - quite a welcome change for a work-from-homer such as myself.


This girl turned 9 and I can't comprehend it.

Babyhood, the delights of 1, the terrible 2's, the fuck-you 3's, the peace of 5 - these are all well-documented stages that one reads about as your child grows. One anticipates, prepares, lives through them when they happen like that, fret if they don't because why is yours doing it differently?
Then there's tweens and teenagers and in fact, tweenagers these days apparently - all of which seem some part of a murky undefinable future.

But right now it feels like we've wandered off the map, into uncharted territory where anything is possible - and it's kind of lovely.

She's still a kid, very much, still playful and innocent and prone to flights of fantasy. But she's also reading 700+ page Harry Potter books and asking big questions about the world and occasionally falling victim to hormone-charged outbursts and irrationality. She's a growing, learning, questioning human being, and she's divine.

Frieda's birthday wish was to take a small group of friends to Eagle Encounters.

It was really fun hanging out with her buddies - entertaining and kind, this age is good for that too -  no one needed their bum wiped, no disputes needed parental arbitration - just sweet kids full of chat and laughs and opinions.

We had a great time roaming the grounds in the winter chill, having a picnic in the car park (because we're too stingy to pay for the over-priced picnic baskets full of things the kids won't eat) and dodging the intermittent showers. During one of them we sheltered under some (luckily not-whomping) willows while Frieda's friend Seth serenaded us - A Wonderful World sung by a completely un-self-conscious 9 year old boy. It felt like a magic moment in time.

And of course, the birds! The birds were magnificent.

An enormous collection of rescued and rehabilitated birds - some of whom will be released into the wild, some of whom are too damaged or tame to make it on their own. It was such a privilege to see these magnificent fowl up close, many of which live among us but we hardly ever see. We learnt so much and ALL enjoyed it thoroughly.

Then home for owl and eagle cupcakes, a romp around the garden and the now traditional G'nT's and snacks for the parents long into the evening. A different kind of party from the ones we've thrown in the past - but just as lovely. Uncharted territory is fun!

Monday, June 06, 2016

duck duck duck cake

We took our (very dirty) pedalo for a spin around the lake yesterday. It was a lovely, sparkly, sunny Sunday afternoon with a nippy breeze and clear green waters.
We also took our end-of-week stale bread collection and boy were we popular!

Cheeky buggers even boarded us. Don't those magnificent orange feet look chilly?

And then we came home and ate cake. Birthday cake, because I never got round to one when it was my actual birthday and everyone knows a cake credit is a cake credit right?

This was a combo of two of my favourites: a carrot cake cheesecake. Yes, it sounds weird and yes, it was DELICIOUS and if you saw me yesterday and I didn't mention I had cake then yes, I am a bad person ... but I'll definitely be making it again!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

this time I took the girls

Johannesburg in May seems to have become a thing, a thing I do most every year. This time I took the girls.

Crazy static plane hair
They were such excellent travellers.
I bought Frieda a book at CT Airport and she basically read all the way from there 'til we got to our friends house, only stopping when feeling a little queasy (we decided reading while landing was not a good idea).
Stella and I played travel dominoes and chatted and ate chips. And laughed at her crazy static hair.

From OR Tambo Airport we took the 'Cow' train to our home for the weekend, bathed in lush, gorgeous, winter light.

Johannesburg is so pretty this time of year.

A birthday party for a special little boy, rough and tumbles in some of the City's beautiful parks. Pizza and bubbly (so much bubbly), sushi and chocolate cake.
A lovely weekend in a beautiful home.

I'm not sure whether the mythical Joburg lived up to the girls' expectations, this place their Dad and I go to for work, and sometimes play. I don't know if they expected more, if they thought it would be different, but I do know they had a great time, as did I with them.

I do know that they were wonderful travel-mates, and I feel more than a little sad that I can't take them further afield right now - they would love it so.