Sunday, January 18, 2015

her tender heart

She comes running through the party, dodging platters of watermelon, grown ups happily drinking wine, balloon animals littered about the lawn.
Her face already crumpling, her feet silently hurrying her pain towards me as quickly as she can, she's not making a sound. Yet.

She tumbles onto my lap, her body rigid with the exertion of keeping it all in. Her face buries into my neck, her hands in my hair, her feet pull up and only then, only once she's in her safest space does she allow the first wail to escape.

I know now not to ask just straight off. I hold her as she sobs, her little frame slowly softening as she lets it all out.

I know that this wound is of the heart. Some slight, humiliation or bruised ego too sore to manage in front of her playmates.

A pain that, for now, only Mum's lap can soothe.

Her self-control astounds me, and concerns me. That I am still her refuge touches me, and makes me feel vulnerable.

The tenderness of this young heart is pure, beautiful, painful and terrifying. I hold her close and the knowledge that I'll not always be there at the right time to do so breaks my tender mothering heart as I feel hers starting to heal.

She is small, but she is fierce. She is brave, but she is just little. My little complicated girl.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

not toadally, but nearly ...

I've spoken about my bufonophobia before (possibly at length), and I posted about finally taking matters in hand and seeking professional help.

That was in September last year, but I only managed a couple of sessions with him until he went on leave, and then it was the Christmas holidays and then I tore that ankle ligament and couldn't drive for a number of weeks and then, then it was autumn again and the toads went back into hibernation and the issue became less pressing.

So it was with some apprehension this last spring that I approached Toad Season.

First we heard them - the little fuckers were literally at it all night. Mating, spawning, fighting for new territories.
We didn't see them really, but my goodness they made a lot of noise.
Husband would glance apprehensively at me across the room.
'They're really going for it this year,' he'd say.
'Verging on extinction my ass.' I'd retort. Nervously.

Then one day, in the middle of the afternoon, the puppy dug one out of its daytime slumber and BEHEADED it on the lawn.
Yup, headless toad on my lawn in broad daylight.
The phobia walls came closing in, and I'm not proud, but I had to get my 4 year old to go out there and put a bucket over it while I cowered in the doorway battling to sound calm and encouraging.

Back to the shrink I wondered?

But then I started thinking about what he'd said about that switch in my brain. The one that instantly links the sight of toads to heightened adrenalin and anxiety.
I decided that instead of focusing on the toad, I'd try and manage that switch.

And get this you guys, I think it's working.

I've gotten so that I can see one without breaking out in a sweat. I can be on the stoop and see one on the lawn and just stand still while Husband removes it - not rush away through the house slamming doors behind me as I go.

Last evening I saw one on the lawn and later, while seeing my brother and his wife out I saw another under their car.
I closed the gate, glanced left and saw a third in the shadows.

No nausea, no sweats, no racing heart.
I'm not going to pick one up and test the prince theory or anything, but I think I'm starting to flip that switch. I think I'm starting to beat this thing.

No pictures with this post for um, obvious reasons.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I'm done with this piece.

I'm so happy with the eye, the hair, the whole face actually. But those damn flowers.
I'm done with them.

I've revisited this piece over and over for months now, I've redone those flowers 3 times, but I think it's time to walk away.
Be happy with what it is or move on (or back to) another project and apply the lessons learned.

Interesting for me is that going into this, I didn't expect the flowers to be the hard part. I was apprehensive of how to do her skin (it is so overwhelmingly smooth and flawless in the photo), her eye took me nearly 3 hours work (and I do love it), but I thought the flowers would be the easy part.

Clearly you stick 'n learn.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

nature wins! every. time.

My parents held out on buying me a Barbie until I was kind of over them. I suspect I'd not really ever been that 'into' them - all my friends had them so I should probably want one too right?

I now wonder whether that was part of my parents reluctance to buy one, along with the fact that they clearly disapproved and were probably not thrilled at spending cash on plastic crap.

We cracked and bought Frieda a Monster High Freaky Fusion doll for Christmas.

I think she's kind of over them, she's actually not ever really been that 'into' MH at all (she still calls the main character Jackie Laura - it's Draculaura - and she never watches it at home - not because it's banned per se, but I refuse to have that crap on in my house), but all her friends have them so she imagines she should too right?
I'd been reluctant to buy one because I sensed her lack of inherent desire, because I clearly disapprove (Monster High dolls make Barbie look like a wholesome girl-next-door type) and because really? I must spend cash on this plastic CRAP?

But at least she chose (from a toy catalogue which came in the post), the one who wears actual pants, and the childhood record will show that a Christmas wish was granted.
(Her sister, of course, chose a Spiderman figure who, in the interests of fairness and let this always be remembered as the Christmas of plastic tat, was also procured.)

Aaaand guess which Christmas present has been all but ignored?
Yeah, take that you freakish bat-eared large-headed marketing-driven twat.

Instead Frieda's spent the holidays ....

Excavating geodes.

Listening to 10 Phizz-Whizzing Audiobooks.

While endlessly, and meditatively, playing with Kinetic Sand.

Listening and sand.

Oh, and collecting rocks.

And foraging for wild herbs and flowers to bake into scones.

See more pics of the Good Hope Nursery Kids Foraging Morning here
Ugly, badly-made, profit-driven, largely plastic crap will continue to tempt her throughout her life - it still tempts me - but I'm so grateful that her true passions still lie in the real, the natural, the imaginative, the tactile.
And boy, she sure seems to love that pink top!

Monday, January 05, 2015

friends like these

We spent New Year's Eve with a bunch of very special friends.

This gang know how to party.

Piles of crayfish and crisp Pinot-Noir Chardonnay; late night shenanigans; the Brownie Stack before The Ganache; dancing homage to dessert.
And even better than that, they know what to do with a hangover.

Or at least, where to take a hangover.

All of them childless, they've been infinitely forgiving of our baby-rearing years of absence and have seamlessly welcomed our kids as part of the tribe.
They're warm and generous with our children, and gently and naturally they support us as parents when we're with them - carrying an extra bag, buckling one of the girls into the car, putting some sausage on the braai early on to feed the kids, self-initiated gestures of love to us all.

They like our dogs too!

Husband has personal friendships with most of them tracking back to junior school.

Slightly older than me they weren't my besties at school, but they were all there at the beginning of US, they created the context in which we found each other, and spending time with them takes us back there.

We might not see them as much as we'd like (and possibly if we saw them more often we'd not be as fond of each other - we all live very different lives these days), but when we're with them they remind us of the very essence of us.
They were in the front row when we began, they're still happily in the audience today, it's good to start the new year with their claps of encouragement and cheer ringing in our ears.
Good people.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

books: 2014

Slipping in just ahead of the new year - my reading list for 2014!

I'm so pleased with myself for sticking with this since last year, and for updating and completing it in time for 2015 ... less pleased that it's been in drafts for months but hey ... it's been a busy year!

Fewer books than 2013 but none-the-less, I'm pleased with myself and spent the year in some very fine company indeed.

Ah reading, where would I be without you?

summer holidaze

I've taken so few photos, most of these are repeats from Facebook. It's a short holiday for me, just two weeks and then I jump straight into utter maniacal craziness until mid-Feb. 
It's been a busy, busy time - but full of beautiful moments.

A girl and her puppy - can you see his smile?

Sisters at play - a self-initiated game that went on until dark fell and the snails were begging for bed.

Special friends being silly.

These two mad things.

The salad selection at our Christmas party earlier this month. Not pictured, the mountain of meat coming in off the braai and the two massive pavlova's for dessert.

Christmas fairies.
Also not pictured:

- many, many swims in various bodies of water.
- me, restarting Serial (I tried just after the Oscar Pistorius trial but I think I was suffering from crime-intrigue-fatigue then) one morning while folding laundry and not stopping until it was DONE, much later that night.
- us, watching Homeland in bed every evening.
- so, so much food.
- so many good friends.
- the inside of my brain, calm and still.

'Til next year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

the best gift of all

Is undoubtedly, sharing Christmas with these two.

Those looks on their faces, as they opened their gifts at my parents' house this evening? They make me feel like that every day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

bitches without borders

A friend who lives abroad messaged me on Facebook this morning to share the link to a blog she'd discovered, a smug, twee, self-aggrandising blog of the kind we just LOVE to HATE.

Mean hey? Narrow-minded and callous and nasty of us wasn't it? Yeah.

What made it even more fun? The blog author works in my friend's building! Yup, it's internet GOLD: discovering the awful blog of an awful colleague. Doesn't get much better than that.

The blog wasn't as bad as this one, but pretty damn close. And we've spent the day in a fine old feast of reading and international bitchin' and googling and bitchin' some more.

My kids have eaten toast all day, I've got a backlog of emails I need to attend to and I just had to rewash a load of laundry because it's been sitting wet in the machine since this morning.

I imagine my friend has been similarly unproductive.

We've basically spent the day leaning over our cyber-picket fence having a good old bitch about the suspiciously-perfect-lady-down-the-street. I love the internet.

What was that about the season of goodwill? I'll get back into that tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

love and (no) light

South Africa is currently (electricity-related pun #1) having a Power Crisis. 

Newspapers, dinner parties, online everything - it's all End of Days out there. One, two, three .... Zimbabwe y'all.

And yes, I know it's serious, and yes it's not convenient to lose power in scheduled 2h chunks (excepting when it goes out at 4pm on Fridays - I can kind of live with that), and yes it speaks of Bigger Problems ... but I've just not had a lot of head space for extraneous problems of late. 

We have a gas stove, we have a solar-powered mason jar, we're okay.

And when the lights went out on Saturday evening, we had resident otters visit us on our lawn as the wild yellow moon rose behind them.
We had wild tumbling dogs, skittish and free, to entertain us and bang into our ankles.

We had an enormous girl, all recovered from her tonsillectomy and back on form, chasing miggies in the dark while her sister, sticky and exhausted from a party that afternoon, slumbered away upstairs.

We might not have had lights, but we had a lot of love. And I know which one powers my world.