Monday, September 28, 2009

weekend adventures and whale love

On Saturday morning I had reason to head out of town to attend an event up the coast. Due to high temperatures and excessive grouchiness I left Child home with Husband and set out on my own with the iPod set to stun and the delicious anticipation of a few hours to myself.

All was going well 'til I hit some hellish beginning-of-the-school-holiday traffic but just the fact that I wasn't sharing an over-packed SUV with a bunch of kiddies and their assorted paraphenalia was enough to keep my spirits up.

At last I broke free and got onto one of the most beautiful roads in the Cape (and this from a place with many, many exceptional roads), Clarence Drive (follow the link for some images which just about vaguely do it justice).

I've had a life-long relationship with this road. It was the most direct route from the small village where I grew up to anywhere resembling civilisation and when I first started school one of my parents would drive me, and a smattering of other (English speaking) local kids, along it to school and back everyday. We'd leave super early and I have memories of the drive in all kinds of weather, through all seasons. We saw baboons, seals, penguins, whales and once, a porcupine, all on the way to school. An education in itself. Less romantically I also remember many hours of car sickness along the drive's windy (and windy) bends ...
I practically learnt to drive on this road too, or at least perfected my technique. Through high school we braved it to and from a night out in the 'big city' (the next town, just enough bigger than ours to count as glamorous) and one of my favourite memories of the road is driving it very slowly in the rain while my cousin hung out the window manually operating the bust windscreen-wipers. Good times.

I was in a bit of a hurry this time though, so sped past two scrapping adolescent baboons without slowing down to watch, executed some masterful over-taking of slow tourist types and, with a pang of regret, had to keep driving even when I spotted a whole pod of whales close to shore in one of the bays.

I got to my destination with minutes to spare, just in time to proudly watch my Dad launch his new book, the biography of a wonderfully eccentric botanist who discovered all kinds of gorgeous fynbos in the region. I saw lots of people I've not seen since I was a child, had many little old ladies patting my baby bump and my cheek and reminiscing about how I used to run round their gardens stark naked. Ah, more good times.

Then after a huge cream tea and with a gathering storm darkening the sky, I headed off back home at a much more leisurely pace. And discovered the whales still frolicking in the bay.

Southern Right whales are an inherent part of my childhood. They come to the Cape every year between May-Oct to calve and the arrival of the whales was always a big deal for us. Spotting the first one of the season was an event celebrated with ice-cream, long cold windy walks along the coastal paths to spend time with them was part of our winter routine.
I have memories of watching them jumping and jumping and jumping out to sea, of sitting on the rocks with a giant whale eye surfacing just metres from us. I've countless surfer friends who tell tales of suddenly realising they were surrounded by them just beyond the break, I've one friend who had a whale surface right under him, lifting him on his board right up into the sky.

But since moving to the city I've not had nearly as many opportunities to hang out with whales, so on Saturday that's exactly what I did.
Still plugged into iPod, with no camera to distract me with trying to get a great shot, I stood on a rock for what felt like hours, being buffeted by the strong stormy gusts, and occasionally spat on by small flurries of rain, hanging out with whales. A big pod of mothers and calves, sheltering in the bay from the choppy seas further out, rolling and splashing and waving their tails, calling out to each other with those distinctive deep and melodius whale calls. Bliss.

After a while I noticed a path down through the milkwood trees, which seemed like it would get me closer to the sea, and thereby closer to the whales. I gamely set off, with the branches crashing round my head, but as soon as I got a little way I realised it was quite skanky down there, lots of rubbish lying around, and at a bend I saw that the path came to a dead-end so I quickly turned around to get out of there.

And turned straight into a branch. And poked my eye quite badly. And stumbled backwards. And by god very nearly stood in a pile of human shit. And had a little dry heave. And scrambled back up the path as fast as I could!
And waved goodbye to the whales with one streaming throbbing eye and retreated to my car out of the wind.

Stinky vile humans.
Lucky old whales.

But a couple of hours later, home to crawl into bed with Husband and Child curled up asleep together, to have lovely dahl and home-baked bread for supper, to watch a movie on the couch with my beloved, I was feeling that maybe human life wasn't so bad afterall ...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

shag ~ marry ~ kill

I had a nice clean wholesome post in mind for today but then I read this on Julochka's blog and I couldn't not play too ...

I was reminded of the time a good friend was playing Shag Marry Kill with other bored crew members on set during a night shoot. Naturally the subjects under consideration became their collegues, the hairy-back from the Lighting Dept or the overly-muscular Grip. I can imagine the squeals and giggles they tried to stifle as the game got out of hand.
All things considered they thought they were doing a fairly good job of remaining discreet 'til the foreign director wandered over from the other side of the set, he'd been well out of ear shot but obviously knew his stuff, he walked right up to them and casually asked: 'So would you shag, marry or kill me?'
Deafening silence.

So here goes, in no particular order ...
1. Bruce Willis ~ shag (I'm with Miss Buckle on this one)
2. Tom Cruise ~ torture slowly, then kill
3. Victoria Beckham ~ disfigure, then kill
4. George Clooney ~ wear down to a nub
5. MacGyver ~ marry (oh wait, I think I already did)
6. Jack Nicholson ~ shag, but probably best with the lights off
7. Sir Anthony Hopkins ~ marry
8. Cate Blanchett ~ shag
9. Bono ~ shag
10. Richard Gere ~ kill (with or without hamster)
11. Bob Marley ~ shag
12. Kevin Spacey ~ shag, then marry. And one day probably kill.
13. Stringer Bell from The Wire ~ shag
14. Ian McEwan ~ marry
15. Meryl Streep ~ marry

Nice clean post about whales tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

(wo)man's best friend

I'm not sure if this a southern hemisphere thing or just South African, but apparently someone (I have no idea who) decided in recent years to officially move the First of Spring from 1 Sept to 21 Sept, 'cos the weather's always so crap on 1 Sept that it was getting embarrassing ... (oh wait, I bet it was the Tourism Bureau who decided on the change, that'd totally be their style).

Anyhoo, after today I really can see why.

Still, warm, balmy, and at 7pm I took the dog for a walk in the gathering dark wearing Short Sleeves.

And here's where it's kinda nice to have a dog which looks really mean. 7pm. Gathering dark. Walking. Sadly not things a woman would usually do in my neck of the woods without a mean looking dog. And I wasn't alone.
I passed a number of women walking big dogs. Our eyes met. We nodded. Our dogs strained on their leads to touch noses. We were walking through the streets of Obs after sundown and we felt safe.

Sad maybe, but liberating none-the-less.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

epic parenting fail #3

'Mum, it's got hole in it.'

'Mmmm?' I'm distracted, checking supper in the oven, and don't look up. 'Careful here Frieda, the oven's hot.'

'Mum, it's got hole in it.'

I look up to see my 2 yr and 3 month old holding ... a scalpel.

I remain calm.

'Oooo sweetie, give that to Mum, it's very sharp. Not a toy.'

Different tone: 'Honey, care to explain how our daughter got hold of this?'

Husband blanches.

'MUMMY, it's got hole in it!'

We both swing round, her [incredibly ugly and impractical] bouncing ball [which we hate] is slowly sinking to the floor.

'Oh shame, its broken baby. See how dangerous that was? I'll just put this out in the rubbish bin, what a shame.'

All's well that ends well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a matter of perspective

The gods of Google are out to scupper me, that can be the only conclusion drawn. I promised myself I wouldn't get into a huge bitch about how phenomenally frustrating blogging (or attempting to blog) has been the last few months. Bit I think I might have to just a little bit ...
Admittedly my biggest hurdle has been my own general state of utter exhaustion, but the few times I have had the inspiration and energy to blog I've been sooooo frustrated by Blogger that I've often given up in a huff. I've lost posts, only been able to open a new post in HTMtothefuckingL, waited a gazillion years for pics to upload and all manner of other annoyances, and you know when blogging's not fun (read: easy), I'm more inclined to go to bed and read.
So I made the change to Firefox and was so inspired by the improvement that I thought I might actually get round to posting every day this week. Gasp!

To this end I wrote a wonderfully witty and cathartic post last night and scheduled it to publish this morning. I checked my blog after publishing and happy that the post was nowhere to be seen, snuggled up in cyber-space for the night, I went to bed.
This morning, before the time the post was supposed to be published, I started receiving comments on it. Um, what?
Went to my blog, not there.
For SOME REASON (yes, shouting), Blogger decided my post was better suited to the 29th of August. It clearly had more of a, you know, August feel.
All manner of efforts, including posting on the 'Something's Broken' feed of the Blogger Help Forum, have proved unable to rectify the problem. And I'm pretty sure Blogger's American so it can't have anything to do with my Pom-bashing right? Right?

But then, as so often happens, perspective comes along to kick one in the ass and point out just how insignificant your problems really are.
My little brother has mumps! Yup, that childhood disease we were all carefully innoculated against decades ago which has now mutated into a whole new virus and come back to take healthy 27 yr olds out at the knees (and, um, a little higher). The poor dude is in isolation in his house for a week, starting to closely resemble a greedy hamster and unable to eat anything except soup and yoghurt. And chocolate mousse.
Our other brother and I have been taking turns to re-up his soup and DVD supply, dropping a bag at the gate, ringing the doorbell and then quickly getting back into our cars and waving at him through the closed windows. Pretty bleak.
Or is it ... ?
Husband and I had a moment last night where we conveniently forgot about the pain and fever poor baby brother is experiencing and allowed ourselves to imagine a week of total isolation. Just you, a pile of books, a stack of DVDs, a mountain of chocolate mousse ...
Nah, I'm sure it sucks.

OR, you could be an innocent under-age flower seller in Pasadena, being pimped out by your mother to an older guy with creepy hands like on this postcard I received today via Postcrossing.

She doesn't even have the internet, or mumps probably, and I'll bet she's having a worse day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

that weekend I was talking about

There's a farm in the Cederberg mountains, about 3 and a half hours drive from Cape Town, which my family has been visiting for decades. It's a big farm, set in a region which gets cold and very dry in winter, and hot and very, very dry in summer.
But inbetween, in those now fleeting seasons which do a below average imitation of what we once called autumn and spring, this area is Heaven.

The air up there has a texture. The feel of it against one's skin and coursing through one's lungs is a caress, a deeply satisfying tangible experience, a feeling one's body remembers and can recall even when back in the crowded, stinky city.

It's a place to recharge, to relax, a place to wallow in. And so we did, once more, this last weekend.

The part of the farm we stayed on is called Sevilla. Thus named because the current farmer's father bought it for her while she was travelling through Spain as a young woman. I think knowing that adds to the specialness of the place.

Completely out of character I forgot to take my camera (doh!), so these are some shots borrowed from others.

One of the cottages near ours (ours was nicer : p)
29 degrees on Saturday necessitated some river time.

A novel way to heat croissants without an oven.

Some more of those crazy rock colourations.

Omg, two concurrent posts. Wtf?

One word: Firefox. Why has it taken me so long to accept it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

if I were to twit

(which I don't), these would be my tweets from the last week ...

Has anyone ascertained the exact difference in skirt length between short short and whore short? It's both subtle and very, very obvious. 6 days ago

One asleep. One wake up. Frieda's summary of our visit to the cheetah sanctuary kinda says it all. Yawn. 6 days ago

Strawberries and double-cream lemon meringue yoghurt. Every. Day. 6 days ago 

If the old wives are right and too many strawberries during pregnancy cause child to have strawberry birthmarks then we might have to call this one Rosie. 5 days ago

Or Rusty? 5 days ago

And will it, by any other name, still be as baby-stinky? 5 days ago 

One episode of Desperate Housewives is fun. Two is slightly nauseating. Three makes me feel icky. 5 days ago

Strawberries Strawberries Strawberries Nom Nom Nom 4 days ago

I'm thinking a bull terrier skin rug would be delightful right now. 4 days ago

I can handle the nausea, the cramps, the sore boobs, the bloating, but maternity jeans? There's a reason not to procreate. 4 days ago

Binning the now 11cm high pile of unopened post on my desk. If I haven't needed any of it by now ... 4 days ago

Night. Highway. Car. iPod. Happiness. 4 days ago

Aha! Weeks of reading HELLO! magazine paid off - I got my UK visa! 3 days ago

Packed and ready to go to the mountains for the weekend. Funny how whenever Husband's not with us we always leave on time ... ? 3 days ago

Picked up my Dad, his laptop (in case he's inspired to write), his heater (in case it's chilly) and his extra-long extension cable (in case either of the above don't have a convenient plug point). Oh and his dogs. And their luggage. Just a 4h drive and we'll be there. 3 days ago

Ooooo, naartjies! May have to call it Rusty after all. 3 days ago

Back. Happy. Pics soon. 1 day ago

Monday, September 07, 2009

um, not sure what to call this one

I'm really good at this whole blogging like nobody's reading gig. I think, I write, I publish (only occasionally it would seem) and I'm still genuinely surprised when I get comments. And then I'm really bad about acknowledging or responding to them, and even more surprised when you keep reading regardless.
But I couldn't not acknowledge all the lovely congratulatory comments you left on my last post. Thanks everyone, you are all so dear. From Julochka's offer to make a quilt (!) to Iasa and Sara's funny stories and all your warm and hearty well wishes. Ag thanks man (a sincere thank you in Souf Efrikan).

Oh and, while I'm momentarily acknowledging the existence of you readers: am I becoming a mommy blogger? [PS - it's rhetorical]. Recently I've started worrying that I might be. And in light of recent events I'm probably going to get more so. It's a phase, bear with me. Especially you, fakeboobsareok, I'm worried about you. And Mr London Street. Hang in there ok?

Ok, back to today.

It was Monday, Frieda Monday. And it was pissing with rain. Oh and we finally had The Adenoids removed on Friday so things (read: our 2 yr old) are still a little delicate and temperamental...
Only one thing for it. Baking. (Good god I am turning into a mommy blogger. And also seemingly, American, is that really the 2nd time I've said mommy in this post?).

One batch of lemon zest biscuits and one of peanut butter delights. And I'm not using the word 'delight' in vain. Seriously this is one under-rated cookie. 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy people! always, always crunchy), 1 cup castor sugar, one egg - tada! orgasmo. Could you have a more perfect recipe for baking with a 2 year old?
I didn't share with her the memory of the last time I made peanut butter delights, those were liberally laced with marijuana and eaten in a darkened cinema while watching Lord of the Rings. Delightful.
Ok, ok - two confessions - firstly, I did tell her the story, but only 'cos she's too young to understand the subtleties (and don't worry L, I didn't name names) and secondly, I admit to possibly only sharing the story here in an attempt to regain some semblance of cool. I'm that shallow.

Once we were thoroughly sticky and tanked on raw cookie dough we headed off to the Aquarium. Every time I go there with Frieda she understands and enjoys it more, and thereby so do I. Her responses to the weird and wonderful collection of fish was magical. From the sea horses (big favourite) to the giant sea turtles - she paused and took each one in fully and completely before moving on to the next attraction. Do we ever regain that single-minded focus? I don't think so.
To add to the excitement there were divers in the shark tank, though it took me a while to persuade her that they were in fact people, dressed in bizarre suits and emitting strings of bubbles. Its a real morbid fascination watching people dive with man-eaters. I mean, obviously you don't actually want to see someone being munched by a shark (least of all with your toddler present), but just a little flipper-nibbling would've been kind of cool (and probably made for a far more exciting blog post) ... At least one of the divers had an electric shark prod stick thingie which he waved about whenever one of them got too close, probably just for effect.

Anyhoo, the point of all this really is that today was a Frieda Monday more poignant than most. A day spent with my daughter where I was deeply attentive to every laugh we shared, every moment she slipped her little hand into mine, every time she leaned against my leg.
A Cape Town couple, contemporaries of ours, friends of friends in fact, lost their 2 yr old daughter in the most incomprehensively tragic and random way last week. A short in the electric window mechanism of their relatively new car caused a fire, their child was asleep in her carseat in the back, they'd left her there, in their safe and secure garden, for mere minutes while they carried their shopping bags and younger baby inside, when they came out it was too late.

The whole city's been in shock, everyone talking about it and feeling so terribly, utterly sad for these young parents.
But when you've a chatty little thing of your own, a small person just discovering the world, a friend with whom you're growing and sharing and learning every day, the tragedy of it really comes home to you, and you clutch your child with a fierceness that springs from deep within you, 'til she wheezes 'Let me go Mummy!' and runs off to see the penguins.