Monday, April 20, 2015

wedding in paradise: part two

part two: setting the scene


Blissful was the rest of the wedding weekend. Husband, in a masterful display of maturity and selflessness, woke on Saturday morning and made a conscious decision not to let the events of the previous day ruin the wedding.
And they didn't. What is a car (or a couple of cars) to stand in the way of true love and kinship under a wide African sky?

Saturday was spent Setting the Scene.
Erecting the stretch tent, decorating the wedding bower, picking flowers, setting up the fire pits, putting up lanterns, practising music (and speeches!), greeting new arrivals and lots and lots of swimming.

All the eager helpers had sensibly been given just one or two tasks, so no one felt over-worked and everything got done calmly and in good time.

Band practise under the stretch tent (made by the mother of the bride!).

Cutest little flower girl (made by me).

Slackers slack-lining while surrounded by slack-jawed beauty.

And then very naturally, when everything was ready and everyone had arrived, we had a wedding ...

to be continued ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Autumn is so pretty. Awesome even.

Even though I resolved not to use that word in 2015 due to its massive over-exposure and world domination over all kinds of other equally lovely descriptive words.

But I think awetumn sounds kind of nifty and as a season, it's one of my favourites.

The otters have been visiting.
Once in the middle of the afternoon one taunted our dogs just off the shore, popping up and sniffing at them curiously while they barked and jumped.
On Friday night I woke at 1am to a squealing and a splashing outside - and by torchlight watched as two chased each other on a circuit of fighting and and rough-housing, into the water, round the moored boat, up on to the lawn, down the bank, into the water again. Fast and fluid in the water, delightfully snaky and just as fast on the grass.

I flew to Joburg on Saturday, to visit my bestie and take a meeting on Monday, more work for later in the year.

It was good to be a business lady again after a month of wonkiness, a month of not feeling very much part of The World.

And it was good to come home. To do a big grocery shop and clean a bunch of winter shoes, to fix the broken foot on the couch and witness yet another tooth come out, to watch Maya the Bee and order a carpet-cleaner in next week.
To watch the weather change.

There's a shift, and I like it. Time for the next thing.

Monday, April 06, 2015

easter past and present

I quite like Easter.

It's not as frantic as Christmas, but there's still a big focus on family, food and indulgence. What's not to love right?
You can't really go wrong with a 4 day weekend and a free pass to eat as much chocolate as you like.

I have very fond childhood memories of Easter. We didn't get a lot of sweet treats so a pile of chocolate was a big deal, and hunting for eggs in our big fynbos garden with lots of nooks and crannies was an adventure.
We often went away over Easter, or had friends from the city come to us, and I remember dying eggs with tea and drinking hot chocolate in rainy cabins in the woods.
One year we had pink and white cut-out cardboard bunny ears and paws from some far off exotic place (like London!) - in ye olde early 80's this kind of thing was not as commonly available as it is now.
I cringe to recall an Easter morning as I entered adolescence when, thinking I was being droll, I asked if 'anything exciting was going to happen or can I go and shave my legs?'. My mothers face was hurt and her voice sharp when she retorted that my (younger) brothers were going to hunt for Easter eggs but if I thought I was too old for such things I was free to do something else.
I felt awful, and obviously I was not too old for such things. I felt like an Easter ass.

It's also such a good break, after the madness of the first quarter, we're all in need of lazy days come April. And it's traditionally the weekend we get the first real winter rain. This year did not disappoint and Saturday dawned grey and chill.
There is still novelty in that.
Especially when it clears right up again and the weather returned with a beauty unsurpassed by any other time of year.

In April 2011 I wrote:
This time of year, my god it is sublime. It's ... subtle. Subtle in a way that February in Cape Town is utterly not. Clarity, cut, colour - it's like the seemingly endless days of late summer/autumn are each perfect diamonds, most definitely gems, each one handcrafted for perfection.
The temperature is perfect, subtle. The breezes are soothing, subtle. The light is clear and gentle, subtle.
It's marvelous.
 I could've written that about today.

Easter has not always been so idyllic. Most notably Easter 2010.

And I had fun recalling some failed Easter crafts from 2011, and the time Frieda made my heart explode with love, also 2011.

And of course how could we ever top the excitement last Easter brought?

That teeny-weeny little guy is now double the size of his older sister and a great big lovable stinky brute of a thing, adored by all.

This Easter weekend was low-key and lovely. Friday afternoon with friends, Saturday walks and movies and cuddles ...

Sunday chocolate and colouring and Peter and the Wolf on audio ...

... rounded off with a massively indulgent evening meal - roast lamb etc and a pudding so good (and so not present on the internet I discover while trying to find a link) that I'm going to have to make it again just to blog and photograph. As an act of public service you understand.
All four of us rolled away from the table and out the door, for a necessary wild and windy night walk, laughing together in the moonlight as we walked off our food babies and tumbled home to bed.

This morning we could barely contemplate anymore sweetness but we had a family get-together planned, and we'd promised to bring the cake, so we pulled ourselves together and just managed to produce one.

It was a happy weekend. Here's to Easter!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

wedding in paradise: part one

part one: the getting there

10 is the number of vehicles it took to get the 4 of us and our camping trailer/tent to and from my youngest brothers wedding.

Our Jeep literally blew a gasket 2/3 of the way there. Leaving us hot and pissed off at a small filling station late afternoon Friday. It felt bleak until we realised that the carloads of dread-locked ukulele-playing smiling people pulling in around us were going the same way - to the wedding!

We shared orange ice lollies and break-down stories and 'how do you know so 'n so's' until my middle brother and sister-in-law pulled in - unlikely cavalry in their small red car stuffed full of hired sound gear.

The garage was managed by a small town gem, a friendly guy who seemed to want nothing more than to get us back on the road. He quickly arranged for us to hire a buddy's big Colt bakkie for the rest of the journey and enthusiastically started helping to unhitch the trailer.
When his eagerness resulted in the jockey wheel coming off in his hand, he quickly arranged for another buddy to pop round with his welder, while Husband looked ready to blow a gasket of his own and my brother and I stifled an extremely ill-timed and unadvised fit of the giggles.
This was back when we were still laughing.

We elected to send the girls on ahead with my brother. We knew Granny was waiting at the wedding destination and as it was getting late and we'd been on the road for 4 hours by then we thought it best to get them out of the equation.
Thank god we did.

Having swapped the girls for all the sound gear they set off, the welder got to work and shortly after our back-up vehicle arrived.
It was ... dodgy, to say the least.
Back on the road we wiggled and jiggled, reminding ourselves that we didn't have much further to go, grateful for being back on the road.

The sun was properly setting as we turned off the tar and on to the winding gravel road - a good 45 minutes 'til we got there.
Maybe longer, we thought, as the Colt repeatedly jumped out of gear on the corrugated dirt, the trailer sliding and drifting alarmingly behind us.
Things were tense, and stifling hot in the cab, all the windows closed against the billows of dust, visibility poor and tinged blood-red from the last of the dusk. I was grateful I couldn't really see the immense drop at my side.

Up the last big hill, up and up, gears jumping, engine whining, trailer balking. We knew the Colt could do it but 'can you see the needle for the temp gauge?' Husband shouts above the rattle.
Up and up we push, both his hands on the wheel, mine on the gear stick, eyes jumping between the road and the dash. 'Where the fuck is the fucking needle??'
And then flatly, 'Nevermind' as clouds of steam emit from the bonnet, white and starkly visible against the orange and brown of dust and despair.

The Colt blew a gasket 11 km from our destination.


I hitched a lift in with more wedding guests passing by and a kind uncle and hero brother went back to fetch Husband and the trailer.

My beloved mother had fed and bedded our children. Someone made us cups of tea and silently delivered them to us, pitching our tent in the dark.
Husband went straight to bed, deaf to the djembe drums and reminiscent laughter around the campsite.

I should have done the same, already on my first set of meds for pharyngitis and broken from the days challenges, but I needed to unwind a bit and instead walked softly around the campsite in the dark, gazing up at the stars, enjoying the soft mountain air and getting excited for the real business of the weekend: the wedding!

to be continued ....

Monday, March 16, 2015

the 5th!

Yesterday we got back from my baby brother's epic wedding weekend, and I've so many images and thoughts swirling around my head, so much after-glowy happiness - it was magical.
I'm still sorting through photos, and not yet ready to find all the right words and besides, some other things have been happening recently too.

Stella turned 5!

Early on she declared she was going to decorate her own cake - a startlingly moment for me, who has always maintained full creative control over birthday cakes!
But we deferred to her bidding, as always, and presented her with a yellow iced rectangle to do with as she pleased.
The favourite plastic animals were assembled, I was asked to cut some green grass for the front and sides, and her big sister was allowed to place the birthday candles.

But obviously her father and I couldn't leave it entirely without surprise ...

Leopard print cake!

She's got a thing about big cats this girl. And we've got a thing about birthday parties - they're good for us.

Happy birthday Little Star.

Friday, March 06, 2015

free gift

A few weeks back I noticed on Facebook that a friend of a friend was appealing to her friends to enter a competition she was running on her blog's Facebook page. (Facebook is weird).

The writer was concerned that she wasn't getting enough entries. The prize was a cookbook.

So naturally I entered.
And I won!

Aptly titled hey?

For the Love of Baking arrived on our grey Wednesday and so naturally ... I had to bake something.

This was going to be Frieda's choice, a Blueberry and Mascarpone Sponge Cake (pg 83), until I pointed out to her that she doesn't actually like blueberries in things ... so we combined a couple of recipes from the book (the gudda gudda gudda of the beaters in the bowl echoing the helicopters passing overhead) and made a Victoria Sponge, in a bundt (I finally got a bundt!), and topped it with whipped cream and a Blueberry Coulis (which I made following instructions from the book of course).

It was divine.

Anyhoo, this morning I spotted the author, Sarah, in the supermarket. She was chatting to a friend who had a teeny-weeny baby strapped to her chest.
I drifted closer, pretending to examine lettuce, to ascertain that this was indeed Sarah - I only knew her from photos on her website - and couldn't help but overhear the conversation.
Sarah's mate was describing, in utter minutia, her nights with a newborn ('And then she feeds at around 2, and has to be burped for a while, and settled, and then if I'm lucky I get about two and half hours .... yada yada yada') and Sarah's eyes were getting as glazed as her Doughnut Cake (pg 150).

I had to save the poor girl.

'Excuse me, I hope this isn't too stalker-ish but I just wanted to tell you I recently won a copy of your lovely book and I've been baking from it already! Well done, it's lovely.'

Sorry girl with baby, it's only once you've been an obsessed new mother yourself that you realise how tedious you are to anyone who isn't there yet, and I also know how painful it can be to have a non-mothers professional successes cast in your over-tired face, but Sarah needed that, and considering the hours of joy she has and will provide for me - I had to return the favour.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

ash wednesday

We woke this morning to the Great Greyness. A world of smoke and ash, bad smells and scratchy eyeballs.
Schools were closed due to excessive smoke or fire risk, Stella had a temperature, we were all tired.

It was an apt choice of reading material Stella pulled from the bookcase, my ancient childhood copy of The Great Blueness.
And reading it inspired us to try a colour 'speriment I've had bookmarked for a while.

Drops of food colouring in a bowl of milk, add a couple of drips of washing up liquid and watch the colours swirl.

Later the smoke cleared and Frieda and I took the dogs for a much needed walk. The air was fresh, the clouds over the mountain mixing with the last wisps of smoke.
The world felt quiet and new.

4 days of fire

From Sunday afternoon, until tonight. 3000 ha of mountain, forest, national park and private land. Houses, infrastructure, habitats.

We've had front row seats, protected by our lake and as always awestruck by the extent of our view. I've seen so much flame - fields of flame, walls of flame, literally flame tornadoes, tsunamis of embers and flames in every colour imaginable.
We've heard the crackle while lying in bed, smelt the smoke and tasted the ash. We've had 3 broken nights of sleep as we feel the flickering reflections on our closed lids, and frequently wake to squint out the windows and marvel at the extent of it - growing and changing before our eyes, consuming the entire expense of the mountain range we're privileged to enjoy every day.
We've had helicopters fetching water from the lake in front of us and water-bomb planes droning overhead to and from their filling stations to the fire. We've had sirens all hours of the night and day.

But we've not had to evacuate. We've not lost a thing except some sleep and productivity (from watching and watching and watching). We've not been out there fighting this beast, we've not been inconvenienced much at all (some days off school for the girls, some worse-than-usual traffic). We've been very lucky.

It's been a wild few days.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

they really do

A few years back I was exiting a supermarket with two nutso little girls and a full shopping trolley. A full bladder too, but the thought of negotiating a public loo with two nutso little girls and a shopping trolley was too much to bear - adult diapers suddenly seemed like a really great idea.

It had been a painful excursion. Squabbling, whining, high jinks in the trolley and some of that awful exasperated-mother-in-public behaviour I am loathe to witness, let alone admit to.

The wind was howling, the car far away. One child was Not Listening, the other engrossed in collecting vile rubbish in a gutter.
A little old lady tottered over to us with a walking stick and smiled dreamily at the girls.

'Don't say it.' I thought, 'Do not fucking say it.'

But she did.

'Ah, enjoy it my dear, they grow up so fast.'

Really? Really? Not fast enough.

But they do.

Stella will be 5 next month. She has 4 loose teeth and long coltish legs. Her soft edges are sharpening up, her cheeks are getting more angular. Every now and then she says 'breakfast' instead of 'brekfik'.

Frieda got a Valentines rose last week. From a boy. A new swimming costume sized 9-10 is too small for her. She squeals when she sees a bug and this weekend, while romping with her on the couch, she cried out in pain and said her 'boobs hurt'.

They're growing up so fast. Not slow enough.

And I love it, I love the conversations and the explorations and the new realm of personhood they're both entering. But deep in my heart I'm also sad.

Does parenthood never stop with the dichotomous emotions?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

the other side

And just like that ... I'm here.

Back out the other side of a phenomenal week, a phenomenal job, a massively exhausting yet totally exhilarating experience.

300 delegates for 5 days in arguably the busiest week of the year in Cape Town.

(Truly, a few days before I tried to find 4 rooms in the city for some visiting guests (as a favour to one of our funders). I phoned THIRTY-EIGHT hotels, guesthouses, B'nB's - there wasn't a room to be had!)

The week was amazing. Filled with its share of challenges and near-fuck-ups and moments of glory.

We marched through the streets of Cape Town protesting unethical mining practises ...
... we went to great lengths to get the Group Photo ...

... we hosted one of the greatest women in Africa, Madam Graca Machel ...

... and we listened to the SONA chaos at what felt like the edge of the world.

There was the usual mix of divas and dramas, of scheduling crises and hysterical giggles. There was even a hilariously sad tale of a lost delegate, but I'm planning on doing a podcast about that.

And this past weekend there was a joyful return home - to two small girls who'd missed their mum, and a husband who was a total daddy hero, two mad dogs, two grumpy cats, a lake full of coots and a house full of laundry.
We're on the other side, and it's nice here.