Monday, December 12, 2011

my happy place

After two months of one-after-the-other bugs and lurgies which had each of us (but mainly me) feeling crap with a capital F, I was feeling pretty proud of myself that I'd not succumbed to the emotional depro which usually accompanies long illnesses.
I was weathering it all quite well. My own illness, the kids ongoing coughs and wheezes, the truckloads of time we were all spending home together, this just mere weeks ahead of the long school holidays ...

I was putting lots of work into being okay with it all, but succeeding well, I thought, until someone on facebook mentioned they were going to Arniston for the weekend (small idyllic seaside village ofter incorrectly credited as being the Southern Most Tip of Africa - it's not) and someone else commented that Arniston was their 'happy place'.

Ping! Light bulb. I need a happy place.

I put it out there on facebook and got some great suggestions. Lynne recommended I look for that place within, find somewhere I can retreat to no matter the chaos. Problem is, often the chaos is within, and sometimes I think I spend too much time in my own head as it is.
No, I needed to look further afield.

I know my happiest place is away, out of town, preferably camping. I had this reconfirmed on a recent weekend away.
As soon as we got over (or in this case through) the mountains encircling the Cape Peninsula, and off the main drag, the scent of heat and dust and fynbos filled the car and my heart, it just sang.
I could feel it belting away in my chest.

But that was too far afield. I can't - alas - go camping every time I'm in need of some time out.

I needed something close to home, but not so close it resembled my navel and any absorbed contemplation thereof.

One evening I struck gold.

iPod + NIN + paper stash + inspiration = happy place!

Dear god, I think I'm starting to get why scrap-bookers scrap. Scrap to shut out the crap? I think it's a real thing.

Oh and if you're interested, I've posted an update on atheism with pictures? - the child is truly diabolical.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

atheism with pictures? [updated]

Last week a friend was visiting and I overheard Frieda asking her in the next room: 'Who's God?'

My friend nervously called out, 'Is this a real question?'
'Yup.' I answered.
'Um ... would you like me to answer it?'
'Yup.' I sniggered.
Then, although I was deeply curious, I busied myself with Stella, leaving my friend to answer without the added discomfort of my listening in.

So yes, this is the first time my 4 and a half yr old has asked this question.

And here I've been preparing myself for some other Big Talks. Like how exactly the Daddy's sperm gets into the Mummy's egg (she's got the drift of that part and what happens from there, in fact live births are a regular occurrence in her school playground apparently).
Or the most intimidating talk of them all - why we shouldn't blindly trust strangers. Sadly for my open and friendly little girl this one needs to happen real soon.

But ja, the god question - I wasn't quite ready for that one. I recently realised that I've learnt more about myself during the last 4 and a bit years of parenting than in all the years prior to that. And I'm not talking about the actual parenting lessons, just the fact that when living with two little mirrors one is forced to examine one's own motives, opinions, actions etc that much more closely.
Parenting has brought out the best (empathy, pathos, generosity) and the worst (bias, selfishness, intolerance) in me, and now it's forcing me to form an actual position on the Big Stuff too.

Our plan has always been to allow our children to find their own religious belief when they're ready to. But one can only do that from an informed position and obviously they're going to want to know what their parents believe as a starting point. Has anyone brought out The God Delusion as a picture book yet?

Also, I'm glad Frieda first asked that question of a family friend, in our house. I'm pleased that the question wasn't asked in a less sympathetic and secure environment. I feel badly that it so easily could have been, that's not really fair on her.

So here I go, girding my loins to have a Chat, to check if the answer she received satisfied her curiosity, if she has any more questions. For now.

Wow this parenting malarkey just gets more and more interesting doesn't it?

Update: after writing this post I bit the bullet and one afternoon, lounging on my bed with Frieda, I asked her what my friend's answer had been and whether she was satisfied with the answer.
It seems my friend had equated God with that little voice you hear in your head when you know you're doing something wrong. Not a bad answer for now.
I told Frieda that some people called that little voice God, others called it your conscious etc.
Frieda looked at me, leaned over and tugged on my hair. Hard.
'Ow' I shouted, 'what was that for?!'
'There it is,' she answered, 'that little voice.'

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

okay twitter, I get you now #blacktuesday


Today I experienced that thing about Twitter which so many people rave about. I watched, in real time, as history was made - following the hash tag, my home page bumping up every few seconds with another 20 tweets, another 30 tweets, another 60 tweets as the announcement was made.

#BlackTuesday out-trended Thanksgiving for a moment today. Apparently that's huge.

I wish the historical event I was following was a more positive one. I wish I'd been outside Parliament to experience it with my peers, not reading about it once removed - albeit only a few seconds removed.

But Twitter totally came through for me on this one, and I get it now. Fucking marvelous technology.

Not just the real-time connection with the event, but being able to garner all the varied comments - from SA's top newspaper editors to comedians, political commentators, assholes - the voices of reason, of hysteria - to instantly have ones own reaction tempered, inflamed, counter-balanced, validated, refuted. Great stuff.

And instantly those (South Africans) whom I follow fell into two stark categories: those who were talking #blacktuesday and those who weren't. How could anyone really have been tweeting about anything else today?

Twitter, I take it all back. You totally came through for me today.

Even if my government shamefully and horrifyingly didn't.

Monday, November 07, 2011

and then 7 months later ...

... this happened.

Girl in paddling pool on LAWN.

See the journey here and here.

Hello summer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

the twitter shitter

I've resisted a twitter account for years but with my new blog-venture I decided to create one. There's no denying twitter's usefulness for promoting and networking when you're blogging like (hopefully a whole lot of people) are reading.

For the first couple of weeks I kept my account really quiet, following only a blog buddy who was about to give birth, a couple of South Africans I'm interested in and my SIL. Then I went public with the blog and happily sought out all those people I'd been keen to follow on twitter for years, plus hosts of random parent bloggers, mothers and fathers - people I thought it would be useful to network with for the blog.

It's been a couple of months now and ... I can't say that I'm loving it.

I keep reading odes to twitter, articles about it's awesomeness, first hand accounts of how people's lives have changed, improved, benefited from tweeting.
But I still don't get it.

I know the basic tenet is that if you're not enjoying twitter then you're following the wrong people, and I definitely was doing that for a while there. I fell into that morbid fascination, like the early days of facebook, where I couldn't help myself reading every inane tweet, marveling at the utter crap people feel its relevant to share.
Just take a dump in cyberspace why don't you? No really here, I'll hold the loo roll.

And it left me with that same shitty feeling as wasting hours facebook stalking random wedding photos. Brain cluttered, slightly nauseated, majorly disappointed in my fellow humankind but mainly in myself for having even gone there.

I don't get the sharing random brain farts with 5000 mostly-strangers. I don't get the marvel at squeezing your thoughts and words into 140 characters (how is this a great talent unless you're in advertising or write for People magazine?). I don't get the people clearly tweeting throughout a social occasion or worse, outing with their kids.

I do get the advantages of business networking, sharing ideas and sounding out others on various topics. I do get the thrill of breaking news disseminating so quickly and effectively.
I have to admit to loving the hash-tag-of-descriptiveness #greatestthingsinceslicedbread.

But other than that? I'm tweetering on the brink of meh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

on writing #1

I blog to write.

I love to write, I always have. For a number of years I lost touch with the astounding satisfaction it gives me but it was through this blog that I found my way back. And now it's kind of all I want to do.
And when I say all I want to do I'm being quite serious.

I have days when I wake at 4am and I wish, I long to be able to get out of bed, make tea and just write and write and write. I just know I'll produce great material in those moments. I can feel the flame, I can almost taste it, and to have to suppress the desire feels like a crime.
Like spending a sunny day indoors with the curtains drawn. Like eating 4 slices of toast just before Christmas dinner.

But I have to suppress it. I have to tell myself to go back to sleep because I know I need those last few hours before the girls wake up. They need me to get those few more hours sleep.
For if I succumbed to the muse and got up, even if I produced something of staggering genius in that time, the rest of our day would be foul, I know this. There would be tears and snapping and it would be all because I didn't enough sleep and that ... that also feels like a crime.

It's not fair on me to have to suppress this urge to write, it hurts me. But it's not fair on them to consciously jeopardise our day before its even started, that will hurt all of us.
I'm not really sure what the solution is.

The muse is not always that untimely, but the time just never seems to be right for her.
12 noon finds Stella asleep, me writing feverishly and then ack, 12.25 - school run!
3pm, I'm struck by inspiration, my fingertips start tingling, but there's just no way I can extricate myself from afternoon snack/play dough construction/planned trip to the park.
7.30pm, the girls are in bed, the muse hopefully pokes her head up, but I've a husband I've missed all day, my own dinner to savour with him in the quiet of the adult-only evening calm, bits and bobs to clear up and arrange for the morning and then maybe, just maybe, a couple of hours writing, when I'm tired and quite often at my least inspired.

It's not fair on me to have to suppress this urge to write, it physically hurts me. But I'm not really sure what the solution is.

But I may have found a place to look for it. In a stolen 15 minutes one afternoon recently I read this column from Literary Mama and have subsequently had enough light bulb moments to brighten up the gloom I'd started sinking into on this one.
Get this Molly, you're not the first 'literary mama' to feel like this. And duh, as with anything, there are books you can read, conversations you can have, resources you can use to help yourself find ways around your current dilemma.
By stepping back from the problem, viewing it from another angle, the way forward has become clearer.

Motherhood and writing, they're not so different really.

The kids, the muse, two equally willful and independent entities, neither very keen to be tamed, neither particularly concerned with making my life any easier.
Two currents running through my life which equally inspire me and throw me into despair, equally demanding and, when they work, ultimately rewarding.
Both forces which, realistically, require me to step up and lay the ground rules, be the parent, create the boundaries and live by them myself.

I have to ask myself why the muse chose to return now, in these arguably busiest years of my life. Where was she when I had spans of free time (or so it always seems when I remember the pre-baby years)?
Why wasn't I feverishly writing at 4am then?
Because I didn't have the inspiration I do now perhaps?
Could it be that these little creatures which seem to come between me and my writing now are the very reasons the urge to write is so strong within me?

I'm not done pondering this one, and I'm still not sure how to make more time to write. But write I must, it's becoming as essential as breathing, and I seem to be able to make time to do that everyday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

cackling smugly

My Main Man and I have been together for twenty years today.

I'll give that a moment to sink in ....

And yup, I'm putting it out there y'all. Two blogs, twitter, facebook, I'd sky-write it if I could afford it 'cos you know why?
It's fucking awesome.

But, of course, within a few minutes of putting it up on facebook I got a somewhat-snide, humourous but not-so-funny comment implying that I was a bit of a show-off. To which I say: uh, YEAH, I'm showing off here.
'Cos you know why?
It's fucking awesome.

I'm not saying I'm better than you. I'm not saying my life is perfect. What I'm saying is I am incredibly, remarkably, wonderfully lucky and proud.

So here I sit, it's Monday. I caved and collected antibiotics this morning to try and clear up the chest infection I've been fighting for nearly 3 weeks. My eyelash extensions are falling out taking the last remaining 10 real lashes with them. I'd love to arrange a Halloween party for the girls and their neighbourhood friends but I really can't muster the energy. I'd love to be writing something inspired and publish-worthy but instead I'm (apparently) gloating all over the internets that my life is so awesome.

Cough. Hack. Cackle.

No romantic getaway for us right now. No simultaneous massage, scuba-diving in tepid waters, no slap-up dinner out, not even a glass of wine for me as it turns out ... just the knowledge that we've known each other for ever, that we know all past and present versions of each other, that we love each other more now than ever before.
I think that's pretty good for a Monday.

Monday, October 03, 2011

in the eye of the beholder

Increasingly I realise that what most people think of you comes 98% from who they are. When someone considers you, they are doing so with the full weight of themselves behind the conclusions they draw.

This is why one never really knows what people think of you. Because every person who's ever met you has a different opinion.

Example: two women I met recently.
One (apparently) thinks I'm hilarious. A breath of fresh air. She asked if I was just naturally good at everything I do. There was an edge to the question.
The other thinks I'm a bit of a ditz. I think she thinks that blogging is really silly, I'm not saving lives or changing policy so really, what's the point?

I'm long past the stage where either opinion really impacted on me. This is not because I'm so sure of who I am that I shrug off others opinions, more because I actually never really know who I am anyway so how should anyone else?
But I did spend some time thinking about these two women, and working out what it was about them that made them think that about me.

It was an interesting process, and I came to some conclusions, but I guess I was just doing the same - viewing them through my eyes - so I'll never really know will I?

Julie wrote recently that growing up in a small town has made her overly concerned with wanting to please, wanting people to like her.
I too grew up in a small town but my experience was completely different. When one's family is singled out as the social pariahs, the liberal outcasts, the 'commies', one learns from pretty young not to give a fuck what others think.
And to compensate for that, for isolation is not something any human being really craves, its easy to nurture feelings of superiority, or at least, defensive self-confidence.

There's been a number of occasions in my life where someone has accused me of 'thinking I'm better than them'. I can be pretty judgmental, or maybe I should say unapologetic with my opinions, and I have often been criticised for it - even here - but I have always, always backed those thoughts or actions with the knowledge that they're mine, they come from me.
You may think I think I'm better than you, but if you're clever you'll realise that my thinking that is just that. My thinking, my eyes, carrying my baggage.

It's weight depends on how much of it you can see.

Friday, September 30, 2011

ode to our ginger

 With acknowledgement, and apologies, to Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965) for the abuse of her poem.
(and secondary apologies for the fact that I'm cross-posting here, that's going to happen sometimes ok?)

Cats sleep anywhere, 
any trailer,
any chair.
Top of camping fridge,
 awkward wedge,
  in the middle,
 on the edge.
 Open suitcase,
empty pool,

anybody's lap'll do.
Fitted in a gift-wrapped box,
in the cupboard with your frocks.
Anywhere! They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

summer morning

Last night when I went to bed, it was early spring. There was a chill wind blowing in under the front door, I had a sweatshirt on over a jersey, in bed my toes slowly warmed and I fell asleep.

05:22 this morning I shuffled down the passage to get some juice for a small girl. The dog lifted her head and asked to be let out.
I stepped out with her, and it was summer.

The dawn was soft and gentle. Woodsmoke still hung in the air from the neighbour's late night party. The crescent moon bobbed above the horizon, her slim silhouette betrayed by the just visible edge of the rest of her fullness, like a party girl stumbling home with her spanx showing.
Birdies twittered, the sky in the east was just starting to pale.

Lego had her wee, I went back to bed, and back to sleep, with my arms out above the covers and the knowledge humming within me, summer's coming ... summer's coming ... summer's coming.

Friday, September 23, 2011

hello f%!@ cupboard

A teacher I know tells the best story of how one day in her classroom, exasperated beyond by her class of small people, she stuck her head in a cupboard, pulled the doors closed around her ears and said quietly; 'FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.'

Then she came out the cupboard and continued patiently and pleasantly teaching her class.

This blog is now that cupboard.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I needed that. I just can't do that over there. There were I'm spending a lot of time, riding a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows, technical exasperation's, personal disappointments and growing excitement.

So I'm coming here to download:

Writing for a wide and varied audience is hard.
Trying to keep true to my style and my tone without offending people is hard.
Who are these people I think I'm not supposed to offend?
Over 1500 page views but under 50 followers can make a girl doubt herself.
Starting a new blog is so much less about writing than I'd realised.
Technical stuff is necessary, and time-consuming.
Fuck facebook for launching their new format THIS week.
Fuck facebook 'friends' for whom one does favours but then can't even be bothered to visit or like my new page.
Actually fuck facebook in general, I'm so over it.
Also Feedburner, fuck them.
Despite all this I'm so enjoying having a project, and I am loving the writing ... but,
... I'm writing a parenting blog and this week I spent most of my time trying to escape from my kiddies to do so.
I like me some irony.

Shrug shoulders, shake out hair, deep breath.
I feel much better now.

Thank you first-love-blog, I won't abuse you like this again I promise.

Monday, September 19, 2011

not-so-super sleuth always gets her man

Seriously, this has been bugging me since October 2008 and I've finally got it!

I did a post then including some pics of street art from my neighbourhood. I love, love, LOVE the kids with the suitcase and I've finally found out who the artist is!

Gabriel Hope. Interview, and more pics of his work, here.

Some call him South Africa's Banksy. I say Banksy better watch out yo.

PS. Lynne, this one's for you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I made some stuffz

Okay, so I haven't just been watching crap TV and baking and building an empire and spending lots of time on Pinterest.
I have been doing lots of all the above (you know that thing about the more you do the more you can do? It's true. Also, the less sleep you get. Yawn.), but I also had one of those moments where you realise that there's no point in collecting lots of (p)inspiration and not doing anything with it. So I made some stuffz.

This bracelet, from Honestly WTF ... (I loved her colours)

...  this shirt ... (for a special occasion)

... and these, because why wouldn't I?

Don't say I don't ever do nothing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



Dinner last night consisted of home-grown oyster mushrooms, sauteed in garlic and white wine, tossed with arugula (that's rocket to me), slathered in freshly grated pecorino and served over pasta.
Sounds pretentious no? And ... yummy.

What was not so yummy was watching these things grow. Unlike these gorgeous photos of mushrooms growing in the wild, growing them in our kitchen was a decidedly un-visually-appealing experience.
You'll thank me for not sharing any pictures.

Mushrooms grow from spores right? Spores being fungus, fungus being mold. Mold don't look so appetizing.

We got a Home-Gro oyster mushroom kit (go look at their pics - ours looked nothing like that) from a friend a month or so ago. We duly opened the box, sprayed the soggy hay inside with water a couple of times a day, moved it around the kitchen looking for the best light. Nothing happened.
Then the mold.
Then the fungus.
Then the spores and finally, just when I was ready to throw up in the towel, 3 trumpeting oyster mushrooms.

'You're not going to eat those?' asked Sylvia who works for us. 'Are you serious?' asked Frieda when I told her we would.
I wasn't so sure myself. But we did, and they were yummy.
Now we're 'sposed to turn the hunk of hay over in the box and start again on the other side but I'm not so sure.

As yummy as they were I think possibly that mushrooms, like steak, are best not grown at home.

Friday, September 09, 2011

c is for ... completely off track?

Ok y'all (ja, YOU GUYS, who are out there, reading this. The one's I usually shamefully ignore. The ones I seldom address directly. I'm going to lay this on the line for you ... )


I started a new blog.

I started a new blog in answer to that beeg question: what would be your dream job? Answer: blogging.
I started a new blog as I don't yet have that Great South African Novel inside me but I just want to write all day.
I started a new blog in response to a need within myself to talk more about my children, and our days together.
I started a new blog with the intention to shamelessly self-promote myself, to whore around for as many followers as I can get, to monetize and SEO-itize and seduce advertisers and reap kick-backs and kick the butt of the (unfortunately pretty mediocre) other SA 'mommy-bloggers' I've encountered.
I started a new blog to get famous y'all.

And now I'm teetering on the threshold of showing my new little blog to the world and I find myself consumed with anxiety and uncertainty and ... oh my god, will they like me?

This is where you come in. And you're allowed to feel totally smug about this. After years of pretending you're not there, in some strange way I feel you're the audience whose opinion I value the most. You've been reading my writing, leaving me comments, encouraging me and supporting me in this writing business.
You share this space which is all about me, this space which will always be my first love, my safety-net, the place where I can swear and tell tales on my neighbours and blog out loud.

So now I want to know from you. Honestly and openly - I can handle it all, really - go have a look, come back and tell me what you think.

C is for ... completely off track?
C is for ... c'mon Molly, you can do better than this?
C is for ... crazy concept really?
C is for ... completely boring?
C is for ... cute with improvement required?
C is for Cape Town.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

the most boring thing ever

Hearing about other people's dreams right? But here goes anyway ...

The other night I had one of those dreams which, in the clear morning light, was directly traceable to a number of experiences I'd had in the few days before.

In my dream I ...

- was married to a faceless man named Luke [ok, I actually don't know where this came from besides possibly a subconscious desire to seem more world-wise then a girl who's been with the same guy for nearly 20 years]

- was married to a faceless man named Luke but we totally shared our relationship with my real life husband [this obviously because having spent nearly 20 yrs with the dude I can't actually be rid of him commit adultery, even in my dreams]
[and, as an aside, when I proudly told real life husband about this the next morning he was not, as I kind of expected, bowled over by my dream life loyalty, but instead called me a filthy polygamist and when I asked him to help me open the peanut butter jar hissed that maybe 'Luke could open it for you'. Wow.]

- had a real bitch of a boss [she was the blonde incarnation of Tess from Burlesque which I'd watched a couple of evenings before]
[FYI - surprise surprise, crap film]

- whose husband violently disapproved of my polygamous lifestyle [he was totally the utter asshole Jerry someone-or-other from the rerun I'd recently watched of the Oprah show in which she returns to Williamson, West Virginia to follow up the show she'd done there in 1987 on AIDS sufferer Mike Sisco.]

- the disapproving husband had a mullet [again Mike Sisco]
[aside: what a guy. Mike I mean, not fictional disapproving mullet-wearing asshole husband]

- faceless dream-husband named Luke drove a Ferrari [I'd seen one in Obs - yeah, in Obs - the day before]
[oh wait, I'm getting why real-life husband is hating dream-husband so much, clearly not as much about me as I thought ...]

- here's where it gets weird (but still no doubt, very boring)

- dream-hater-husband-with-mullet chose to express his disapproval by leaving a lovely piece of embroidered vitriol on dream-husband (faceless, name of Luke)'s Ferrari. Yup, an exquisitely hand-stitched embroidery listing all the ways we were going to burn in hell for our repulsive lifestyle. With two or three different types of stitch, colours etc [and this, again no surprises, definitely came from spending far too much time on Pinterest of late.]

I really got to start doing something else with my evenings other than watching crap TV and surfing Pinterest.
As Oprah would say, dreams are a means of changing your life from the inside out.
Maybe I'll go looking for that Ferrari ...

Monday, September 05, 2011

the best thing(s) about a childfree morning

... jaywalking.

... talking aloud without having to explain myself.
(mumble) 'Damn, I should've turned there.'
'What did you say Mum?'
(slightly louder) 'I said I should've turned there but it doesn't matter, I'll take the next one.'
'The next what Mum?'
'The next turn.'
'This one Mum?'
(deep breath) 'No, the next one coming up.' (mumble) 'Damn, that's a one-way'
'What's a one-way Mum?'
(little exasperated) 'Um, I can't explain right now sweetie, could we just not talk while I work out where I'm going?'
(small pause) 'Are we lost Mum?'

... eating chocolate for breakfast. And not having to share it.

... not carrying wet wipes (though this can sometimes be a disadvantage).

... listening to Dr Eve on 567 CapeTalk.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

tres leches cakepudding

After the resounding inter (and intra) national success of The Rainbow Cake I think I've been suffering from baking-fatigue. Or maybe just feeling a little intimidated-slash-porky?

Husband even baked his own birthday cake in July!

But last month I got the call again: I had to bake.

Tres Leches Cake has been on my To Bake list since, well since back when I used to read The Pioneer Woman. You know, back before I decided she can't be real and must be a product of Harpo Studios (don't laugh, I'm not the only one who thinks so), and back before frankly I found a whole bunch of other much better reads!

Anyhoo, it was time. And with the enormous number of new and breast-feeding mums I know out there (in real life and the blogosphere), I thought a Three Milk Cake was kinda appropriate.

I used PW's ingredient list, but moved closer to home for the method. Nook Eatery is a gorgeous little food blog I've been enjoying lately and their method produced a lighter cake, more delicious for refrigerating overnight.

You know I'm a lazy slag when it comes to actually writing out these recipes, does this look like a food blog to you? But I can recommend visiting the links and making this yourself.

Served with whipped cream and fresh fruit it's almost more of a cakepudding. Three-milk-cake-pudding-cake. What's not to love?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Colour me Katie did it first. And did it very nicely at that.

But the Balloon Dog is becoming a bit of an annual tradition for us too. Last year's puppy hung around for weeks, slowly deflating in weird and irregular ways until one day Frieda came to me with a small piece of shrunken brown plastic and declared it Time to Throw Balloon Dog Away.
An important milestone for a then 3 year old I thought.

Our new friend is however in his first flush of youth. Filled with exuberance and adventurous spirit he had his first walk around the neighbourhood this afternoon, checking out the sights and sounds of Observatory.
And the smells, oh boy the smells!
Much better than bobbing around the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) stand at the Baba Indaba, that's for sure.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I was sorting through some old video footage and suddenly there he was. Crossing a beach towards me, carrying a bottle of champagne, saying something silly, lit by the most gorgeous end of perfect day light.
And it made me cry.

We haven't seen him for 3 years, but he used to be a very special friend. He's not dead, he's not even very far away, he's just gone, and there's nothing we can do about that.
It's not that I even want to see him, he's caused so much pain and been such a silly, stupid stupid person that the friendship, the fondness, the intimacy we had no longer exists.
To see him now would just be upsetting, ethereal and pointless. Like a ghost.

In so many ways it would be much easier if he was. If he'd died we could've mourned him. We could remember him, the times we had, without the hurt and the anger. If there was a grave or a memorial place we could visit it and laugh through our tears. We could share memories with the others who knew him, some of whom carry a much greater hurt, we could reclaim, untainted, that part of our lives we shared with him.

As I looked at that body that, for never having known (in the Biblical sense,) I knew so well, as I looked at those hands which played music, made beautiful things, remembered the texture of that crazy hair, heard the voice with which I'd talked and laughed so much, for the first time in 3 years I no longer felt just anger.
I just felt sad.

Ghosts walk among us. I felt the presence of one today, and after all this time I still can't help wondering if he ever feels mine.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

to be perfectly honest

Sometimes when things feel particularly bleak in this bizarrely beautiful and contradictory country of ours, one finds oneself dreaming longingly of a 'safe' existence.
You know, a life of low (if any) fences, unbarred windows, walks after dark, disease control, weapons restrictions, order, compliance, efficacy, accountability, normalcy. A life in say, England, or Norway, or Canada ...

Am I allowed to say that when the shit hits the fan as it has in London there's an element of relief in it for me?
Am I allowed to use the word relief in it's broadest sense and with no intended implication of schadenfreude or unkindness?
I hate what's happening in London, I'm battling to understand it and vacillating between horror at the unruliness of what seems, to my 3rd-world trained eye, to be a bunch of already well-dressed, well-fed kids breaking into high street stores to steal sneakers - as someone mentioned on face book nary a placard or political slogan to be seen - and sadness at a generation which seems to be so ... angry? voiceless? bored?
I'm concerned for my friends, concerned for the implications these events will have on their lives.
I'm disillusioned, worried, appalled.

But the lesson that people are people are assholes are victims are oppressors are dissatisfied are trying are failing are learning e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, is a valuable one that I need to re-learn often.

Today is Women's Day here. We celebrate women who've gone before and done the work to give us the rights we have today. We think about women's role in our society and try to honour that.

We walk on the mountain, and watch our little women survey their kingdom. We go home and eat cake.

We're not uncaring, but for today the shit splatters in another part of the world, and we're completely happy to call Africa home.
Tomorrow may be different. I very much hope it is for the UK, I'll be quite happy if it's not for me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Just busy with stuff I can't blog about right now but I know saying that here is the blogosphere equivalent of throwing up on my shoes and claiming I can't drink 'cos I'm on antibiotics and candidly looking at maternity wear catalogues and suddenly wearing sensible bra's and all those other signifiers we're so quick to spot and get all over excited about so NO, I'M NOT PREGNANT.

Just busy, and taking a blog break.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

the funny side of paediatric procedures

Okay, okay, so there isn't really a funny side to having to take your 16 month old for x-rays, or to booking her into hospital for the afternoon for a small, but none-the-less intrusive surgical procedure.
I certainly can't imagine a funny side to having to keep her nil by mouth from 8am tomorrow morning until her procedure at 2, or to having to hold her while they put her under, or reassure her when she wakes up pissed off and hungry.
But there's a bit of humour to be found in everything if you look closely enough:

In this case it's the whereabouts of that missing bead from her older sister's afternoon craft project.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

more depravity

A friend, who'd enjoyed my in flagrante post last month (what wasn't to love right?), was amused by this scene on the back patio over the weekend.

What can I say? Our dolls have few inhibitions.
Peace out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

the first day

This morning I got up before the girls, and rushed to dress and wash my face before any demands were made of me.
I managed to eat breakfast at the same time as feeding them, got Frieda off to school, some ducks in a row for Stella's morning with her nanny, my laptop etc packed, mascara applied and left the house at 09h05 looking mostly presentable and sort of real-worldy.

I got into my car and drove exactly two and a half blocks to my brother's house, where I set up my laptop on his dining room table and, for three hours, wrote.

None of this sounds vaguely exceptional. But for me it was profoundly so.

Today I executed a plan I hatched back in January. Today I took the first step in overcoming extreme threshold anxiety. Today I hope to remember as the day I became a writer.

Or maybe today should just be remembered for that exceptional rainbow this morning, or for the cold and blustery walk in Kirstenbosch the girls and I took together this afternoon, all three of us walking. Or for how Stella roared at some American tourists and Frieda made us stop so she could breast-feed her doll on a bench.
Maybe I'll just remember today as the first day that Stella grabbed her spoon from me and ate an entire bowl of pasta on her own while I did. something. else.

Maybe today should pass unmarked, and not singled out for glory, but in my mind I feel a switch clicked today. I just hope it was turning the light on.

better monday

After a weekend filled with some crappy international and personal news, this was a welcome sight this morning.

Though when taking photos of our lovely mountain view, I do wish our neighbour wasn't quite so security conscious.

Friday, July 22, 2011

these arms of mine

You have to read it like the original Otis Redding. You have to feel the yearning.

For my arms are feeling it when I hold my small girl close, when I feel the recognition in my muscles, the knowing how to hold this little body, and the sadness these arms feel already, knowing she won't be so little for much longer.
Mah baybee.

It's so ridiculously biological it's almost laughable.
I'm not a big baby fan, both my girls I've enjoyed so much more after their first birthdays. I don't miss breastfeeding (much), I don't miss having that small being ON me all the time, I love being able to communicate with words, I love watching them grow more independent.
But my arms, they refute all of this when I hold my Stella close, especially in her warm and floppy moments, and the muscles sing with yearning, with already full-blown nostalgia, with the shattering knowledge that the next baby, if any, that I'll hold with this kind of kinship, will be a grandchild.
Mah baybeeeeeeeee.

She's becoming such a big girl.

She LOVES a doll. In fact, the more the lovelier. Whereas Frieda's only ever had one doll (the still so named Zeberebareba), and was never particularly into playing dolly, Stella has a host of 'babas' - all of whom get canoodled and paraded around and pushed in the pram/wheelbarrow/random box.

She HATES orange food. Barring cheese, she won't even look twice at butternut, carrot, peach, melon, pawpaw etc.

She LOVES her mummy, and wants to sleep with me every night. I pretend to be mildly annoyed by this and half-heartedly resist, but at some point in the night our love can no longer be denied and we end up together, in her bed or mine. 'Cos, mah baybeee see?

She HATES hats. She LOVES cats. She SCREAMS when outraged and SQUEALS when happy. She LOVES/HATES/LOVES/HATESbutmostlyLOVES her big sister.
She wields a mean bitch-slap, can scratch like a tiger and still likes to bite me.
She's saying the same first proper word as Frieda did: juice.

She LOVES her dad and wanders disconsolately around the house carrying one of his slippers calling 'Daddy?'

She's a big little person, our Stella. I love watching her develop, but I wish she wouldn't grow so fast.

Wish she'd stay my little woman for just a little bit longer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

random photo-ness

Last night I opened my diary for the first time since the 25th of June. Not my Dear Diary, my Page-A-Day diary.

3 weeks of school holiday is a long time man. Looking forward to some real life again.

Oh wait, this is my real life ...

 Sculpture by Marieke Prinsloo Rowe on Sea Point Promenade.

Snapped one night in a forecourt cafe - seems he's alive and well (and careless), living in Cape Town.

 The legacy of the 2010 World Cup - gorgeous biodiversity garden in Green Point next to the Cape Town Stadium.

Sun, smiles, slides, smartphones ...

The dark side of little girls. Can't decide which doll's more creepy ...?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

it's beautiful here

Cape Town Tourism Press Office called. They warned me one more post about crime and they'd have me off the airwaves for good.
So here you go, snaps from our mid-week, mid-winter mini-break just out the city.

It may be challenging to live here sometimes, but it's so very beautiful.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

school fees

He started off with a random act of neighbourliness, a small gesture which clearly put me at ease and established him as a decent enough fellow.
And then, despite later discovering that there was a warning notice up at our local mini-mart and a number of items recently published in the local rag (which I never read), I fell for his routine like the famed fishie, and let him into our house which he left, 5 minutes later, with a cell phone. Not his own.

It seems he even used one of his standard stories, about needing to clear branches from the phone line behind our house. A brilliant tactic in the light of how harden we are towards tales of hard-times and hungry children, I never fall for those anymore but someone offering to make my life easier? Yes please.

He was personable, nice, pleasant to the kids. He spoke very fast, which rang a distant warning bell, but my charitable brain thought he was just a considerate guy not wanting to inconvenience his neighbours more than necessary.

When I reported the incident to the police I was told my report was one of three in our area this weekend - all sounding like the same guy. At least I'm not the only dumb-ass on the block, I'm in illustrious company with the chairperson of the Neighbourhood Watch no less. Now that's embarrassing!

School fees my husband calls it. The price paid for lessons learned. Sadly the lesson in this case is to be more suspicious, even of nice people.
It goes against my grain and I hate that it's a reality in my life.

Other realities of the weekend:
'Cos misery apparently does love company we also had no hot water for 48 hours  - bust geyser - and Stella popped 2 molars - no sleep for me.
But, because the world, and Observatory, is a place of eternal dichotomy, I was again reminded of how comforting it is to live in a community. I walked round to a friend's for a blissfully long soak in her bathtub at midday and lay there listening to the hum of her sewing machine. Later I walked the girls down to my brother's house to bath them. Every (legit) neighbour and friend we encountered was sympathetic and displayed that curious bent for humour we South Africans have developed for times such as these.
It's a funny old world.

And. The weather has been wonderful, I'm in flip-flops at 9pm, we had Cesar Salad for dinner, husband realised a dream purchasing a 1976 Honda cafe racer, we finally got a new ironing board, there's a week of fun ahead. Silver linings hey, gotta keep your eye on them.

Friday, July 08, 2011


Emerging from the bathroom carrying our wooden (very expensive for a bathmat) bathmat, rolled up in her arms. This item is not a toy. Neither is it for rolling.
'Mummy, could you help me hoist this onto my back?'
A just-4 yr old with a vocab like that can have anything in my book.

Overheard at her birthday party as some bigger boys ran past a tottering Stella:
'Hey! Watch out for my little sister, SHE'S NOT VERY STABLE!'
Let's hope she never has occasion to say that again.

My elderly Afrikaans mother-in-law: 'Ek het 'n wortel koek gebak [pronounced 'buck']*'.
Frieda, aghast, 'Mum! Did Ouma say fuck?'
Be merciful Lord, and take me now.

What's that you say, soon there'll be two of them talking? I don't know if I can handle the funny.

*I baked a carrot cake.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


The restaurant phoned at about 4pm to confirm my booking and immediately I got a pleasant buzz from knowing that somewhere out there in the city people were setting up our table, checking cutlery and glasses, preparing for the evening ahead.

The thought sustained me through a particularly rough supper/bath time ('I just bit her arm Mummy, 'cos she's so delicious, I didn't think she'd scream.'), the knowledge that the next part of my evening was already in process, I just had to catch up to it.
I dressed warmly but carefully, under the scrutiny of my eldest.
'Why don't you wear that brooch at home Mummy?'
'What and give you another weapon for your arsenal?'
'What's a arse ... nail Mummy?'
Wha ha ha ha ha ha.

I kissed the little angels good night and left the house with just my purse and my phone. Not a wet wipe in sight.

Smoky jazz on the car radio, an aural link to NYC, Berlin, a cosmopolitan life outside my own. I felt myself relaxing, I felt like myself.

Then up onto the highway to Town, not another car in sight. It's early evening, mid-week for sure but still ... Cape Town you are a funny little place in winter.
Dark, cold, quiet mountain rises up on my left, below me a thin band of lights - they seem to glitter more sharply in the cold - and then, dark, cold, quiet ocean.
We're really very far from anywhere down here.

The bustle of the restaurant and a table full of girls distracts me from it all. We're eating Chinese, Thai, Japanese food, drinking wine made just beyond the mountains, via facebook we check on a friend running the Midnight Sun Marathon in Norway, another friend tells of her recent Kilimanjaro climb. We could be anywhere.

But still the feeling lingers with me. I've had it before when staying in small deserted cottages far from anywhere, an acute awareness of the space outside. The vastness which surrounds us.

I entertain my friends with a story of romping with the girls that afternoon. How dangerous it is to get horizontal under them - lying on the floor they both assail me. 'It's a pile-on' shouts Frieda gleefully, Stella almost more of a threat with her uncoordinated hands and legs.
How, as I clutch my hands around my head, inhaling my own hair, through the bouncing and shrieking of two little girls, and the inevitable wet nose of an eagerly contributing doggie, I feel blissfully happy and fulfilled.
It may be short-lived, but in the moment it's real.

It may be a small life, in a quiet place, but it's mine, and I think I love it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

annoying on so many levels

So last night, in a freakish replay of last week's events, I heard a distinctively ominous BANG at about 9pm. Calling husband I threw open the front door in time to see a hooded figure run across our front yard and jump the wall, taking off down the road.

Seems he'd tried to force our front security gate, hoping to gain access to the enclosed porch in which we keep our bikes - admittedly irresistible bait to the small-time criminal - in the process rendering the lock useless, and us captive in our own house.

Security company was duly called, more for procedure than any hope of pursuing the perp, and then our home insurers to book a locksmith for the morning. At which point we discovered that obviously in order to claim for the damages we would need a police case number, which of course meant having to formally report the incident.
And so, in what felt like a massive waste of the already massively-strapped SA Police Force's time and resources, we had two officers in our lounge last evening, taking my statement about nothing, and a visiting detective and a finger-print guy here today, practically doing nothing, all so we wouldn't have to spend R500+ of our own money on repairing our gate.
And they were all so nice and helpful and sympathetic, which almost made me feel worse. And even more annoyed with the would-be burglar.

I'm annoyed that this pathetic little junkie/opportunist/desperately hungry individual (I added the last one to create the illusion of lefty-liberalism, sneaky hey?) got within metres of my sleeping daughters.

I'm annoyed that my feelings of security in my own home have been shaken a little.

I'm annoyed that we now need to find alternative storage for our bikes when the porch was just perfect for them.

I'm annoyed that the key for the new lock is ugly.

And mostly I'm annoyed that my BULL TERRIER slept soundly on her chair throughout the entire event. So much for that!

Friday, July 01, 2011

everybody needs them

Good neighbours that is.

Late one night last week I heard the ominously distinctive noises of someone breaking into the house next door. I leaped from my warm bed, peered out the window, just in time to hear glass, a lot of glass, smashing.
It was so loud it even woke Husband. Yup, that loud.

We huddled in the shadows outside the front door, whispering details and our address to the security company on the phone, watching aghast as two figures in hoodies brazenly moved about in our neighbour's front garden.

It was cold, really cold, but we kept our posts, warmed by our conviction that we were assisting in bringing some bad guys to book.

Just before the security guards arrived we realised in distress that the burglars were readying to leave. They carried bags out to a waiting vehicle, parked just out of sight.
Husband crept out from our hiding place.
'They're leaving,' I hissed, disappointed. 'Get the reg number but don't be a hero!'

The car started up, bumped off the pavement and sped away. Giving us just enough time to read the slogan on the side:
24h Glass Repairs.

ADT Security roared round the corner, adrenalin-fulled armed guards jumping out, 'Did they come back?' they were shouting.
'Er ...'

Turns out our neighbours were broken into (for realz) a couple of hours earlier. The intruder/s made off with a DVD player. The cops were on the scene in minutes.
We heard nothing.

Everybody needs good neighbours. Even our neighbours.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

rainbow cake

For the best visual impact : actual effort ratio I can't recommend this cake more highly.

The most time-consuming part was having lots of fun reeling through Pinterest finding 'inspiration'. All hail Pinterest.

The easiest part was taking heed of the advice to freeze the layers before constructing the final product. This meant I could bake the layers in two batches, over two evenings, and keep them in the freezer until the night before the party.

The most important part is to use decent food colouring. I did not, as one guest's mother (half?) jokingly inquired, use natural food dyes (have your seen those colours??) but soft gel paste colouring made by Americolor . Brilliant stuff.

 pre-outer icing, with the wooden rainbow puzzle which inspired it all

The most anti-global imperialism part was staying true to my belief that I spell colour correctly, despite what blogger and every other website on my path towards creating this masterpiece told me.

The yummiest part, in my opinion, was the creamy vanilla icing I made from Julochka's recipe. This even after I abused it's subtle constitution by re-beating it on the evening of construction (I'd made it much earlier that day) instead of having the patience to allow it to come to room temperature in her own, sweet, time.
Thank god Husband is such a good plasterer - his skillz came in handy.

The most anxious part was when I thought my final layer was looking decidedly brown, but it turned out a beautiful deep purple once baked.

The most engineerical (real word, I promise) part was dividing the batter. Once I'd calculated I should use 360g per layer the rest was a ... well, cake walk.
Digital scale ahoy.

The funniest part: when the final chunk collapsed at the party.

Such fun!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

over the rainbow

It was a little unnerving, when looking for ideas for this party, to discover that Rainbow Party had a whole other meaning I'd not been aware of. It seems my tweenhood was far more protected than I thought at the time ....

Anyhoo, be assured that Frieda's 4th Birthday Party on Saturday was not that colourful.

It did however feature some orgasmic deliciousness, not least of all my darling girls.

(alas, little friend Eva's life will now never be complete without a rainbow cake all of her own)

ye gods, what is this thing of such colour and deliciousness?

yes they have matching cardi's - but only for Very Special Occasions.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

winter snail

Dude, you best get a-moving.

You so don't want to be here on Saturday.

I know its cold and you've got that whole open blood system thing going on but seriously, suck on some citrus and get on yer bike.
Many children, much running, squealing, salty popcorn - nuff said?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


She was born on the same day as Frieda, 4 years later. 3 years, 364 days and 22 and a half hours later.
To be exact.
On the same day as me, 4 years later, my best friend has become a Mum, and I really, honestly couldn't be happier for her.

How can two magnificent people become even greater? By producing a third magnificent being of course!

June bug.
Juniper berry.
Dju know mos.

Welcome long-awaited and most deliciously anticipated little thing.
Your whole world welcomes you with open arms.

Monday, June 20, 2011


My Frieda is four.
I can't hardly believe it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

4/10 things I lovetohate that you do

Many years ago I blogged the process of rehabilitating the fireplace in our house from it's gold-gilded, knick-knack besmirched existence to what I like to think is a much more stylish picture altogether.

It's a pretty fireplace but alas not a functioning one, when we bought the place we were told it was boarded up. I recalled something about the chimney cladding being damaged, I remember being horrified at the cost of chimney-sweeps, I even remember some ha-ha conversations about acquiring a monkey with a webcam to go in and assess the damage.

So imagine my gobsmacked surprise when last night, right in front of my eyes, eight winters later, the dude calmly removes the board blocking the flue and lights a fire.
Wha ... ?

I nearly lit a fire of my own.

Apparently every time he's suggested trying to light it in the past I've vetoed the suggestion for fear of filling the house with smoke and ash ... this I don't recall as clearly.
What I do know is that sitting in front of our own fire last night was heart-warming.

Thanks babe.