Saturday, January 31, 2009

the great murakami

Julochka's posted her last interview answer ~ the question being which was her favourite Murakami novel and why. I knew this would be a good one, and it is!

I'm a newish Murakami reader and find his novels so dense and multi-layered and thought-provoking that I have to work through them slowly, and read them widely spaced apart. I also share Julie's fear of the day when I've read them all so have been trying to prolong that for as long as possible.

But I've often struggled to articulate just why I love him, and what reading one of his novels does to me; my thoughts and emotions. And after Julie's wonderful post I'm not even going to try. This girl gets him, and beautifully expresses what I love about his work too. 

Time & memory people, veeery interesting concepts. Especially when related to Murakami. And more especially after you've read this.

Enjoy! Thanks Julie, you clever thing!

Friday, January 30, 2009

4th picture meme

I spent some time this morning (finally) sorting out some of my hundreds of digital photos. I've a really nasty habit of downloading straight to my laptop and then not sorting (ok, this I don't feel bad about 'cos who actually sorts their pics these days right?) or backing up (this I feel very, very bad about) the pics at all.

I really should know better as last year I suffered the excruciating annoyance and sadness of losing batches of pics when my previous laptop got stolen....

I started with all the pics taken in 2009 so far - the last 6 months of 2008 still patiently await my attention - and backed them all up to the very fancy home server which we have especially for this purpose. We've got 8 years worth of photos on this server (and yes, ok, not all of them are backed up to DVD yet either...), and I had to fight not to get side-tracked and browse old albums.

But the process reminded me of this meme - posting the 4th picture from the 4th folder on your computer - so I thought I'd play along. Imagine my happy surprise on discovering that this is the picture!

Yup, that's me and 3 Tibetan monks (one of whom seems to be flashing his balls, please don't look too closely), on a mountainside in about 35 degree heat (Celsius y'all). 

What were we doing there? I was hoping you might ask.

I was working as Wardrobe Assistant on a shoot for Ariel Washing Powder. We were supposed to be in Tibet but were actually high up in the mountains of the Western Cape. In December. The actors were dying in those genuine heavy yak wool monkish robes and one of my main tasks was to keep wash clothes cold in buckets of ice to mop them down with between takes.

There are many stories to tell about this shoot; it was pretty bizarre from beginning to end - both the actual job and the other goings on in our lives at the same time - but I didn't realise how far the oddity of it all would extend until a month or so later, when I was in England on holiday.

I met, and stayed with, some distant cousins whom I'd not met before. My cousin's husband worked for one of the premium post-production studios in London. Watching telly at theirs one night this commercial came on, whereupon we both piped up: "I worked on this ad'. And then stared at each other in amazement.

Turns out I had worked on the shoot - in searing heat on a barren mountainside in the South African summer, and he had colour graded the final product, in a busy studio off Carnaby Street in freezing London. So weird. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

of toads and shoes

After interviewing me, Julie requested I return the favour which I did ~ her fabulous answers are up.

I'm way envious of some of her shoes.... especially the El Naturalistas, so I had to follow the link to check out what else they had to offer. And that's when I saw them.


I didn't study them too closely, but judging by the fact that I didn't spontaneously throw up or go into convulsions I think they're either toys or models of actual toads. But I'm afraid they've kind of put me off the brand.

I have a phobia you see. A genuine phobia of toads. A fact for which I've been ridiculed most of my life (by my nearest and dearest of course), and so was much relieved to discover a few years ago that my 'condition' has a name - bufonophobia - and is a legitimate and recognised fear.

What's disappointing about my case of bufonophobia is that the origins thereof are really simple and easily explicable. No deep and mysterious hypno-therapy-requiring diagnosis needed, it simply breaks down like this:

As a child (and yes, that would be as an utterly privileged white child in 1970's South Africa), we would sleep with all the doors of our house open in summer, to allow the cool night breezes to waft in. And, it seems, the toads.

Attracted by the passage light, left on as a night-light for us kids, they'd hop inside and always, but always, come straight to my room. Night after petrifying night I would wake to the ominous squat and lumpy (shudder) silhouette of a toad in my doorway and I would either scream the house down until one of my parents came to remove it, or in one particularly nasty incident - and I think the one which sealed my phobia - try to jump over it, where-upon it too jumped and slapped into my thigh. Eeeeuuuwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Ok, can't talk about that any more.

On a much more pleasant note: I have a foreign rellie staying, a cousin escaping from cold and miserable Europe for a few weeks, and there's nothing quite like a visitor to make you appreciate your home-town even more.

We spent yesterday morning on this idyllic little beach. That would be Monday morning. Nice hey?

(oh and, I've been instructed by a dear friend in exile in Canada that I need to put SEX warnings on posts like this ~ that's a SEfrican eXpat warning ~ danger: contains idyllic references to Cape Town and Summer. Sorry darling, but at least you've probably no toads up there at the mo?!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

are you sitting comfortably?

I've been interviewed by Julie from Moments of Perfect Clarity- great questions Julie!

1. you've only just started back to work after having #1 child and now you're contemplating #2. how will this impact your career possibilities in the long term if at all? (what i'm meaning to ask is how it's seen in south african society--the whole question of maternity leave and such.)

Oooo, kicking it off with the big ones. This question made me examine Career and Child#2 - neither of which are simple issues for me...

Firstly, in some ways I'm starting to think of Child#2 as the Duty Sibling. Obviously there's lots of excitement and anticipation about having another child, but I do feel utterly exhausted at the thought and so it's sometimes handy to think of this next one as an obligation, rather than a fun exercise. How's that for a hard-hearted callous view? Take that Earth Mothers! But seriously, our motivation to have another child is for Frieda to have a sibling, and for the joy of watching them grow up together, so it makes sense to try for a reasonable, but close-ish gap, and therefore to do it sooner rather than later.

Career? What career? I've been examining my somewhat ambivalent feelings about my 'career' as such for some time now. I've tried to do an honest assessment of why I don't feel more strongly about it, am I lazy? Unambitious? A friend and I have had long conversations about how our parents did us a great disservice bringing us up to believe 'we can be whatever we want to be', 'cos now we believe them and don't really feel the need to prove this to ourselves or anyone else.

Rocket scientist? Yeah, I could do it. Yawn.

But the realisation I've come to on this is two-fold. 1. I haven't found my 'thing' and 2. my sense of self isn't really related to what I do. My work doesn't define me and I think that's maybe not such a bad thing in this sometimes career-obsessed world. Maybe finding something which totally rocks my world will change this, but in the meantime... maybe I'll just breed some more.

But just to get serious for a mo, obviously I still have to earn something, sometime, and I've been really lucky in that the work that I do is fairly specialised. This doesn't make it particularly well paid, but it does mean I've got a bit of a big fish in a small pond thing happening for me, and have been lucky enough, so far, to stay in the loop and stay in demand even while breast-feeding.

Formal maternity leave in SA is 4 months, paid or unpaid depending on your contract. I obviously didn't have this benefit not being employed full-time, but was extremely privileged to be able to essentially take a year off with Frieda. I don't think I'll have the luxury of taking as much time with Child#2. But then I won't need to, 'cos he/she will be so busy playing with his/her big sister right?

2. you have a thing about chairs. show/tell us about some of your favorites (i know you have links on the right, but i want more) and why you covet them. 

And so we come to why I must earn - ha ha ha, if only it were that simple.

I really don't know what it is about chairs, maybe my liking of them is another sign of essential slothfulness? It all started with a Red Velvet Rocker (which I still own). My parents used to do fund-raising for a children's charity in our home town and this beauty was donated to the local children's home. I didn't have the cash to buy it (I was 12 or something), but I persuaded my Mum to let me swop the perfectly serviceable and somewhat ugly chair in my bedroom for it, arguing that the orphans wouldn't appreciate its Red Velvet deliciousness. 

The love affair has run its course since then; I once forced a friend to pull over to pick up an abandoned kitchen chair with a broken leg off the pavement in one of CT's upmarket suburbs - I liked the look of it and it lived in our shed, still broken, for years until Husband forced me to chuck it. I have a collection of red kitchen chairs, in perfect nick, in storage for one day when I have space for them. I once clung to a phenomenally ugly pink fabric chair for years 'cos I liked it's wooden form, even painting it black with fabric paint to try and redeem it - I think Husband made me turf that one in one of our moves too. My biggest regret is allowing my parents to get rid of the beautiful, but uncomfortable, brown velvet sofa we had when I was a kid. My mother-in-law has two chairs which are apparently to come to us one day which I'm already excited about and have picked out fabric samples to have them re-covered - which is admittedly a little morbid, and premature...

Of all the chairs I covet the Zulu Mama chair is, for me, the most exquisite. I love that it's modelled on the old 70's style wire garden furniture (of which we have a set rusting away in the back yard), but with such a modern South African twist. But more realistically -budget wise- and more practical, I would seriously donate a small finger or toe for a set of Nguni chairs for the Dining Room of the Future. I have a long standing love for Nguni cattle (which I won't get into here), and these chairs have so exquisitely captured the graceful form of their horns.

3. what's the best thing about living in cape town? the worst?

Easy one.

The best: it's beautiful here. In Cape Town you can see beauty everywhere you turn, every single day

Heath Nash Coat Rack

The worst: it's frikkin' far away from anywhere! Southernmost tip of Africa. Think on that(ok, ok sticklers, it's not the actual southernmost tip, but we're close enough to claim it for all intents and purposes)

4. south african politics seem to be nearly as messed up as US politics (tho' hopefully that's going to straighten out on tuesday), what do you make of it all and does it have an impact on your day-to-day life?

Gosh, there's so much to say one this one - it's such a complex, multi-layered, historically weighty and culturally sensitive issue. Oh wait, that's 'cos it's politics see, no matter where in the world it's playing out.

But I'll try to be brief. Yes, it has an impact on my day-to-day life. It's near impossible to ignore what with it being so exciting and all! In SA the drama hasn't stopped since 1994, we've one of the most dynamic and complex political histories in the world, and it ain't showing any sign of slowing down in the near future!

This does make it unsettling at times, and we've had recent spates of very real concern for the future, but if there's one thing we're learning its that a young democracy is a force to be reckoned with, and an unpredictable force at that. We're writing our history here, day to day, and while that's never going to be a particularly stable place to be, it's never boring!

Obviously there's a part of one which wishes you could tell what the future will hold, for one's children and for one's self as you get older, but if you get too obsessed with that then you'll never be happy in the moment - and I think this applies to anywhere in the world. If you live in a place in which momentous things (good and bad momentous things) happen every day, you will only find happiness if you acknowledge this, and relish it.

The very real concerns of crime, the AIDS pandemic, corruption, xenophobia, those are all the by-products of our politics which worry me, which make me an occasional insomniac, make me sad - but as we face a general election this year which is already looking so incredibly (as in, I'm incredulous) different to how we thought it would play out 6 months ago, I can honestly say: I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world!

5. what made you start blogging and what do you feel it gives you?

It's not a new story. My dear Husband got concerned about how much time I was spending reading other people's blogs and encouraged me to start my own. I did, posted 3 times or something and then got blogger's block. I got intimidated by the idea of others reading my words. I lurked some more. I coined the phrase 'blog like nobody's reading' and started again 6 months later. I started it to do something for me. I've never looked back.

My favourite thing about blogging is that it gives me a reason to write. To experiment with different styles and maybe eventually find my own, or gain confidence in my own.

My least favourite thing about blogging is that I don't have the time to do it as much as I'd like to do. But maybe that's also a good thing!

6. bonus frivolous question: when are you going to get that pool boy? ;-)

I'm sorry, I can't answer this one 'cos it just makes me think of this, which makes me laugh too hard to type! ; )

Oh and here are Very Important Rules Which Must be Included, and adhered to if you'd like to be interviewed by me.
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." 
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions). 
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.  
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. 
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. 

This was fun!

the one about camping

We spent the weekend in a teepee, at this wonderfully hippie-hey-wow-like-awesome-man retreat, and I have to say there really is something quite magical about these big, circular tents. I did indulge my inner Sioux a little...
I also gave a lot of thought to camping - as a concept - as someone recently told me that they didn't really get the attraction. I think it's one of those things you're either into or you're not. I think this also depends largely on whether you grew up camping.
I could say that you need to be into nature, have a fairly relaxed attitude towards cleanliness, be able to do without home comforts or access to technology, and have a very relaxed attitude towards bugs - but many people have all of these and still aren't fans. It's really not a very easily definable thing.
All I know however, is that I LOVE camping, am never happier than when cooking on a fire (as long as I've got gas to boil a kettle for tea), sleeping in a tent (as long as I've got a comfy mattress and warm enough bedding), waking to the fresh outdoor morning air (as long as the sun isn't directly in my eyes) and getting very dirty feet (as long as there's somewhere to swim). So you see, I'm not as dye-hard (pun intended, sorry) as some campers out there, but I do love to camp, and here's why.....

... there's nothing as soul-satisfying for me as spending an evening cooking and laughing around a big open fire,  slowly rotating your body to evenly toast all your exposed bits, eating crispy braai-ed lamb chops,  bread baked in the ashes,  a roasted mielie or jacket potato, being among the last to linger as one by one your fellow campers totter off to bed, finally saying your good-nights yourself and padding off through the darkness, following the beam of your torch, a bietjie gewyn, a bietjie gerook, brushing your teeth from an ice-cold mug of water on the side of a bubbling stream, watching the moon hang low and heavy in the sky, quietly opening the flap to your tent and pausing to listen for the snuffly breath of your child asleep inside, then quietly undressing and stepping off the soft grass and into your chilly bedding, snuggling in until it slowly warms, drifting off to the sounds of crickets, the wind in the branches above you, or the deep ponderous silence of a deep, dark night...
.... waking in the early dawn to the back and forth earnest-sounding conversation of two owls in the trees nearby, getting up to make sure your kiddie is still covered up, pulling your own blankets up higher against the dawn chill...
.... waking later to the far-off sounds of children laughing, the clink of coffee cups, the wafts of wood-smoke as the rest of camp awakes, washing your face in cold mountain water, having the best tasting cup of coffee you'll ever have - the one which is brewed and drunk outside - having a leisurely breakfast of the kinds of things you'd probably never eat for breakfast at home, and then finding a dam or river to soak the graininess of the night away, and take deep breaths of pure, untainted, uncomplicated, country air...

Oh and, I've been interviewed by the wonderful Julochka, she's sent me really great questions - responses to be posted soon!

Friday, January 16, 2009

the dog debate

It's been raging in our house for some time.

Husband is keen, super keen. Me, I'm conceptually into the idea, but the reality... not so appealing. It's the logistics which concern me (obviously, as always, ad finitum blah blah blah); where will this dog poop? how often? who will pick up his/her poop? how often? where will this poop be disposed of? how often? ~ I think you can tell what my main cause for concern is? After 18+ months of literally dealing with someone else's shit, I'm oddly not that keen to take on another being who can't use a flush-loo...

And then - where will it sleep, what will it eat, where will it go for walks (and again, how often?), who will walk it, who will keep it from eating the cats, who will stop the cats from brutalising it, who will keep it from slobbering Frieda to death, who will keep Frieda from pulling it's ears until it's enraged to the point of maiming her for life. I think we all know the answer to most of the above questions... [clue: he/she works from home...]

But I do like the concept. We always had dogs when I was a kid, I love the companionship, I think Frieda will love one (once she's worked out the parameters of acceptable behaviour) - she's getting too strong to romp with the cats so a puppy seems the next obvious step - and then....

... I was awoken early this morning (light already, about 6am) by the sound of someone trying to get through the garden gate outside our bedroom. I crept through to the lounge and looked out the window to see the head and shoulders of a man on the inside of our wall, trying to get out. 

I called the amazingly efficient Police Sector Patrol, the perp got over the wall, I stood in the window shouting 'I can see you, you fucker!' (as one does), Husband roared out the front door and chased perp down the road, me hot on his heels shouting 'DON'T BE A HERO!', perp dropped the box of stuff he was carrying and shot off, cop car screeched round the corner seconds later and took off in hot pursuit, Husband came back shaking and adrenalin-pumped... 

The cops didn't catch the guy unfortunately but I don't think he'll be back around here in a hurry, and thank god the box of pickings weren't ours - we subsequently traced them back to a lodge 2 houses away, seems the thief fence-hopped through to our backyard looking for a way out - but after we'd all calmed down and secured the perimeter etc, we turned to each other and said: 'We need a dog.'

Watch this space....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


In one of those strange coincidences I'd been thinking about intuition / gut instinct / that little inner voice, for some days now, when a friend posted this quote on Facebook:

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift." ~ Albert Einstein

How true. And how sad. How often have you had an intuition about something or someone, voiced it, and been scoffed at or discredited for expressing it? And how often has that intuition then been proven correct?

I think my Mum is largely responsible for, possibly inadvertently, nurturing my gut instinct, and teaching me to believe in it. One of my strongest memories is of her saying, when I had to make a big decision, often on something we didn't quite agree on, 'I leave it to your conscience.' Powerful huh? Do you know what's really, really weird? She doesn't remember saying that. She has no recollection of it and I remember it, and resonate with it, so strongly that my memory is of her saying it all the time. Bizarre.

When I've told people that she would say that, I've often had people thinking it was quite a harsh thing to say to your child, someone even said they thought it was 'cold' - not a word I'd ever associate with my Mum! But I think it was wonderful, and totally credit those 6 words, and the way they triggered my gut response, with contributing to the basic development of my inner moral and intuitive code. An instinct I now trust and believe in completely, and am so grateful to have, in general, but also while living in a volatile and unpredictable society such as South Africa. You need your wits about you here, and I can think of many times that I believe intuition has protected me from a dangerous situation, or potential threat.

It is said that fear is the greatest threat to intuition, and this is why - and hereby coming to the reason I started thinking about this again - it was really tough for me when I started having anxiety attacks when I was pregnant. Strange hey? Blessed with a remarkably easy and enjoyable pregnancy, I got to about 6 months and started getting the most debilitating panic attacks. No rational reasoning, no 'oh just pull yourself together', just complete breathless, tearful FEAR.

Fear of the dark, the unknown, the future; fear that something would happen to my loved ones, fear when my husband went out at night, fear that the block of flats my brother and his wife were moving into wasn't secure, fear that my parents were on holiday staying in remote cottages in isolated areas - a choking, nauseating fear that was ever present, cold prickly sweat on the back of my neck, tingling in my fingertips, a tense strumming of worry reverberating through me all the time - and the worst part: not knowing if all of these symptoms were my gut instinct SHOUTING at me to listen, to protect my family, or merely just a hormonal over-reaction, a natural pregnancy worry about bringing a new life into a crazy world. And I'd lie awake at night crying and desperately trying to wrangle my thoughts into some kind of cohesion, trying to isolate my intuition from the muddy depths of panic. And I thought I was going mad.

It was bleak but it thankfully didn't last too long. My wonderful, intuitive, gynaecologist recommended an anti-anxiety drug and a couple of sessions with a therapist - and of all the wonderful ways she looked after me through my pregnancy this was the best, that she took my fears seriously and helped me on the path to treating them.

I got the prescription, popped the pills whenever I started feeling anxious, and off Husband and I set on our 'babymoon' - the pre-baby holiday so popular these days, the Last Time it'll just be the Two Of You yada yada, cheesy concept but I highly recommend it! We had an amazing time, travelling around, camping in rainforests, staying in seaside cottages, just hanging out, and for the most part, I was feeling much better, but the dark cloud of anxiety still hovered on the horizon, and I did have moments (one of which warrants a post of its own sometime, just for the bizarreness of it), when I was really glad to have those meds handy.

But that cloud did lift, and I really felt relieved from the shackles of anxiety, and more than anything I welcomed the return of my own conscience, my own gut instinct, and I appreciated the having of it so much more.

And I gained a measure of sympathy for people in the grip of their own anxious panic attacks, and how awful it is to be mistrustful of oneself, how scary when one's rational mind is no longer a 'faithful servant', let alone one's intuition a 'sacred gift'.

And so these are the things I think about as I try to get my head around another pregnancy....

Monday, January 12, 2009

no. 6!

I promise that not all my next posts will be about this damn list, but I'm very proud of my mince pies, and very glad to have gotten another opportunity to make them!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 10, 2009

oh and, no. 5

a 4 yr old's birthday present...
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no.'s 1 - 4

I have a wonderful friend who constantly delights me with her way of looking at the world. She's very practically minded (a qualified engineer no less), extremely capable and confident in her work, her life, motherhood and most things in general, but I don't think she'd necessarily regard herself as a crafter. However, she loves a good challenge, and she's a master (mistress?) of subtly manipulating the rules of any situation to work for her.

When I told her about Tollipop's 100 craft projects in a year concept, my friend initially scoffed. 'One hundred? About 2 a week? Who has the time?' she exclaimed. But, it seems, I'd planted a seed, for fairly early the next morning she began texting me: [what exactly would count as a 'craft'?], [beautifully wrapped gifts? exceptional meals? the pics I draw of PowerRangers for my 4 yr old?], [and if you took a good photo of each item would the photo count as a 'craft'? thereby making each item count twice?], and by the end of the day we'd decided we could count all manner of things, and so we will.

Starting with these; cupcakes baked, I must confess, by my friend, but individually iced with super fun icing 'pens' by us while (queue confession music....): our children watched a Tintin video in the middle of the afternoon....

So herewith items 1 - 4 on my list of 100 crafts in 2009, only 96 to go!

Anyone care to join the challenge?

In other news, our gas stove has arrived and is installed, our kitchen is in a state of semi-renovation, we are ecstatic little chefs, and to celebrate we're hosting a mini-Christmas lunch (as in We Wish You a Mini-Christmas) for my brother, who missed the real thing this year, and other family members tomorrow. We're doing the works, slightly pared down to make it palatable on a 30 degree day, which is what we're expecting tomorrow.
Mince pie in the pool, anyone?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

welcome back, me

Deep, long sigh of satisfied satisfaction....

I had my first Yogafit class of 2009 this evening, in fact my first since I was 6 months pregnant and transitioned to the much more low-key ante-natal yoga for the last few months. 

And omg, it was sublime.

As the class started, with the soft music and our wonderful teacher's soothing tone starting us off on breathing exercises, I actually almost had a little cry.

It felt so good to be there, like I was climbing back inside my own head, and in that calm and contemplative space I found a part of myself I hadn't felt since Frieda was born. Hello, me. Where you been girl? And hey wow, I'm glad you're still in there.

And it seems, so too were some of my core muscles! Despite 18 months of only ever doing a few sessions myself, my body remembered so much, was still able to do so much. And although I may be a stiff and aching wreck tomorrow (bring it on!), I've come home confident that I am still that lean, mean yoga machine. Just well cushioned that's all.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

dIY delicious

You know how earlier I ended my post saying I was popping off to dismantle my kitchen?

21h06 Sun 4 Jan - crappy 1970's kitchen with crappy built-in stove and oven combo

Well I wasn't joking....

22h55 Sun 4 Jan - crappy 1970's kitchen with crappy units removed
1st step preparing for the arrival of the new stove. Check!

lists of 5: 5 thoughts for twenty-oh-nine

Just to be clear, these are absolutely, most definitely and certainly not resolutions. I am by no means beholden, possibly not ever and probably extremely unlikely to fulfill or complete them all. I will in no way be held accountable, answerable or even enter into conversation about my completion or non-completion of any of the below listed items.

I will, however, pledge to revisit this list in 1 year's time - just for laughs.

So here, in no particular order, is a list of things I'd like to think about, or be conscious of, in 2009.

1. My health. (see why these most definitely aren't resolutions? If they were this one would be doomed to failure.)

I had a profoundly happy moment last week when I received a mail to say my beloved Yogafit classes are starting up again this week! I was a lean, mean yoga machine before I got pregnant and I'm determined to regain at least a little of that svelte-ness.

2. My creativity. 2009 will (hopefully) be the Year of Craft. I've been gathering inspiration from all the wonderful crafty blogs I've been lurking on this last year and the time has come to channel all that into producing more handmade stuff myself. I'm very inspired by this, but ja, don't know if I'll even aim for 100!

3. Invest more in old friends. One of the benefits of spending more or less your whole life in one place is the large variety of friends you make, and generally keep, over the years. Husband and I, in the light of the loss of an old friend through circumstance, have been talking about how many wonderful old friends we have close by, and how we'd like to invest more time and effort in strengthening those bonds this year.

4. Getting my head and body ready for another baby. Gasp, I can't believe I'm actually committing these words to er... blog. I'm still wildly oscillating between 'no, no, no, jesus fuck am I mad to even be contemplating this again' and 'hey wow, I wonder what other fascinating little being there is out there, just waiting to be a part of our family'. On the one hand we're determined Frieda should have a sibling, on the other I get virtually paralysed at the thought of having TWO offspring - just the logistics alone are exhausting to think about. So ja, this is a long-term project...

5. Working! I'm SO looking forward to getting manically busy on this next job, so ready to taste the thrill of occupational achievement (is that a phrase? It sounds kinda cool so it should be). Besides, I need to earn some real money to pay for this , the full monty 5 plate gas/electric stove purchased by us yesterday. So excited. And now off to rip out some cupboards in our kitchen to make space for it!

camping companions

We're back from an amazing few days camping in our most favourite camping place. Just a couple of hours drive from Cape Town, Beaverlac (so named by some home-sick Canadian many years ago apparently) nestles in this valley surrounded by magnificent folded mountains. There's an exquisite 'coca-cola' river (the best description for the colour of the water I've ever heard), lovely shady camp-sites and that priceless feeling of time standing still for a minute; nothing to do but rest and swim and hike and play. Or just rest. Depending on how the mood strikes you.

The cleverest thing we did by far was to camp with old friends who have a 4 yr old son (read: playmate for Frieda) and a 10 yr old daughter (read: minder for Frieda), thus allowing us lots of time to sit in the shade with a beer! Magnificent.

We made 4 different kinds of bread, a bunch of seriously yummy camping meals, we swam in the delicious river, talked a lot of bull and  marvelled at the amount of sausage dogs (dachshunds) there seem to be around these days. We counted at least 11 belonging to fellow campers. Are they the doggie of the moment we wondered?
We figured out that the last time I spent NYE with this wonderful old friend of mine was 1992 (!!) and we had some fun boring our husbands with lots of  'do you remembers' and 'guess what happened to so-and-so'. Good times.
But  the trip was also tinged with sadness. Some other dear old friends of ours seem to be heading for a nasty divorce. They're the first in our extended circle and both have been  close friends for over 15 years. Sadly the details of their separation are sordid enough to require us to pick sides. We've chosen ours but it was only at Beaverlac, a place where we 4 spent many, many wonderful times together, that the sadness of losing the other friend overcame us a bit. We mourned the loss of a friend who's been so important to us both, the connection this person gave us to a specific aspect of our lives and the realisation that there's no going back on this one. This friendship has ended under horrible circumstances, and we've got to try to extract, remember and nurture the good times we all had together, whilst processing the hurt and anger we feel right now. And supporting the partner who's been done so wrong.
Sometimes growing up is hard to do.

This is the view as one pops over the mountains back from Beaverlac, back to the world. It never ceases to make my heart sing, no matter what else is troubling it.