Monday, December 31, 2012

just gopher it

After my recent moan about productivity, or the lack thereof, husband suggested that I try picking a project (off the list of many), declaring to the girls that that's what I'll be doing for the day, or weekend, and just going for it.
He had a theory that, if forewarned, they'd respect my 'work', and give me the space to do it.
I rolled my eyes.

But then one Monday morning in early December I did just that. All the walls in this house need painting, but there's a little alcove wall in the dining room which was particularly bad, and I decided to paint it.
I announced at breakfast that it would be so.

And by later that day, much to my astonishment, it was.

Lesson: threshold anxiety is a real thing. The proximity of small children is a handy excuse to justify that anxiety. Women are, I think, more prone to this than men - what if it doesn't work out? What if it's not perfect? What if it was the wrong choice? What if someone needs a poo halfway through?

In my experience men are more likely to just ... gopher it ... and as Julochka noted of her husband's ambitious and very successful sawmill project, we should take a lesson from this: deciding what we want and then going after it.

I too will try and remember this in 2013. With the amount of unknown this year holds I think it'll be a good one to arm myself with.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the fat of the land

When we moved here we had visions of a healthier lifestyle. The water, the space, the proximity to the beach and the mountains, the great outdoors.

Turns out there's also the marvelous patio, the sitting, and looking at the view. The many drinks on that patio, the indulgent braai's and plentiful snacks - for who feels like cooking indoors when you can fill yourself with chips and dips and ... beer? The indulgent meals with friends.

Turns out there's also back fat, and an ever-burgeoning beer baby.

It's the corniest of the corn to speak of these things as the new year approaches, but something's got to be done. And 2013 seems like the time in which this must happen.
I'll not breathe the words 'new year's resolution', but I am resolved not to see this year out in the same tight pants I'll be wearing going into it.

Two and half years to go 'til 40 ... tick, tick, tick ...

Friday, December 28, 2012

the after grinch

This morning I started this post, feeling pretty after-Christmas Grinchy.

I love Christmas, love the build up to it and the 2 days of celebrating we spend with all our beloved family. I don't get people who hate Christmas and I kinda resent having to be told that they do in those lovely anticipatory weeks of December.

By Boxing Day however, I'm totally over it.

Tired, a little hungover, my children and thyroid both wildly over-stimulated, my house a mess, suddenly the excess of it all starts to irk me. The tinsel looks tarnished and the perpetual blinking of the lights on our little tree (despite their being really cool little red chilies) starts becoming very annoying indeed.

But then we spent this afternoon with friends, their kids and their dogs, lots of beer and good food and fun, and I was reminded anew why I love the summer holidays, and how it wouldn't be as ... sparkly ... were it not for celebrating Christmas right in the middle of it.

Were it not for Christmas we wouldn't all be on leave now, we wouldn't necessarily have friends here from up country, would be less likely to have the time to loll (and LOL) on the lawn, the excuse to drink as much beer and eat as much rich food. We wouldn't really be allowing our kids endless treats and concessions on the normal house rules around watching TV, running about outside in their pyjamas after bath, staying up late and not washing their hair for, um, who can remember how long?

As we cleaned up the kitchen after everyone had left, not at all a tedious chore when you've moments to remember and anecdotes to relate (when you're hosting you always seem to be in on different conversations, and it's fun to swap notes later), husband and I unconsciously did a little tally of gratitude for this particular festive season.

We didn't receive nearly as many 'spam' Christmas greetings via SMS this year - from colleagues, acquaintances and businesses. Those friends who didn't send cards used facebook and email to wish us, and  we them, and all round we had fewer hollow greetings from people or companies not important to us.
By being more organised in getting gift shopping and meal-planning done early, and by living in a quieter and more remote part of Cape Town we've managed to avoid crazy traffic and shops and malls altogether.
And by being more specific with family who asked for suggestions for gifts for the girls they still got terribly spoilt, but all the new stuff which has come into the house is what they, and we, wanted - things which'll endure and not just spread more clutter.

And, for not having big elaborate New Year's Eve plans, to be honest for not having any plans at all, this time after Christmas has become just that - time. Time to do some DIY jobs around the house, to hang out with friends, to hang out with each other, be spontaneous, be slothful, to just be.

Maybe the best thing about Christmas is that it's made me, once again, count my blessings, be conscious of my bliss and then given me the time to enjoy just that.

This evening I thought, ''What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more.” 

Friday, December 21, 2012


I recently got a new phone (Samsung Galaxy S3 woot! woot!) and started the process of getting my apps in order.
I spent most of last Friday night upgrading, re-installing and downloading some favourites, exploring some new ones (such a rocker, I know). It's been fun.

As with everything in my life though I haven't found the time to do all I want to do. I still have some standard message notification tones, don't know whether I've gotten an email, a text, a Whats App etc. It pings and I run to it, stroking it's cool, lithe casing (because of course I haven't found the ultimate sleeve yet) and trying to convince myself it's not somewhat ridiculously big (it is really).

But I quite like this two-yearly upgrade. The perfect opportunity to change and refresh my digital life. I haven't installed Google Reader yet, and am really enjoying reading blogs online and actually commenting - remember that? I haven't installed Twitter so only check that when I'm sitting in front of my PC, and as a result only really check the accounts I'm particularly interested in.
I haven't installed Evernote 'cos I'd stopped using it a number of months ago. Trimming the deadwood all round.

There are however some drawbacks, I don't have a proper calendar app yet and twice this week have managed to forget events or double-book myself. Amazing how reliant I'd become on my phone to keep my life in order.
And on that ... another unexpected result is that I've no idea when to expect my next period. I'd left that wholly in the hands of a 'period tracker' app - just clicking on the start and finish tabs and forgetting about it completely in between, until the app told me to expect the next one.
I've stared long and hard at our family (paper) calendar trying to remember when I had my last one but have drawn a total blank. Guess I'll just have to wait and see and maybe tune into my body more closely to let me know when it's imminent. So old-fashioned.

God, talk about a 1st world problem.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


As South Africans we know about living in fear. Unfortunately we've reason to.

And I've often thought there is no worse fear than not feeling safe in one's own home. I'm not going to look for the stats but apparently we're one of the nations which spends the most on our home security - beams, bars, dogs and weapons, exorbitant monthly fees to security companies.

We've reached a point where one often feels safer in public, surrounded by people, then alone and asleep in one's home at night.

I've always thought that was weird.

But far weirder to not feel safe in public. To become a society which doesn't go to the movies, to shopping malls, to school for god's sake, for fear of lone psychopaths with semi-automatics, or coordinated terrorist attacks, suicide bombers or missile attacks from a neighbouring country. That is a whole different kind of fear.

Today I'll stick with mine thank you.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


There can be few occupations as unproductive as raising small children. Yes there's joy and drudgery and heaps of entertainment and utter exhaustion and the (arguable) benefit of being able to do it in your pyjamas etc, but productive?  Not very.
Some would argue the proof is in the very long baking pudding, but even that you can't count on. Some of the best serial killers had at home parents.

I still can't quite get my head round how I can be so busy, for so much of the day and yet have so little to show for it in the end. A good home-cooked meal which everyone ate is often the highlight of my productive satisfaction. Add a spot of de-cluttering and I'm in ecstasies of achievement.

So when I manage to do this in a weekend, this one small thing, I'm beside myself.

Before: this very, very old desk - which used to be my change-table (as in to change my bum all those many years ago) - and spent 8 or 9 years rotting in our garden shed at the previous house ...

After: a good clean and drawers all freshly painted.

It's not a thing of any great beauty, and for that reason I can't promise I'll get round to painting the rest anytime soon, but it suits my small deskular needs and I couldn't live with that green for a moment longer.
I even rubbed soap along the wooden drawer rails inside and can happily report that old trick works wonders. Added bonus that the desk now smells clean and fresh as well as looking a whole lot better.

The room in which it stands was the previous owners home office, complete with wood paneling and cork floor for that fetching headmaster's office look. For now it's my study, and our art room, and perfect for flinging paint and good ideas.

I had a happy realisation while painting those drawers too (for isn't that the real benefit of doing something vaguely creative/crafty or DIY-ish, the time it gives your mind to wander and think freely?), I've got two and a half years until I turn 40.
And I pledge to myself that by then I'll be doing something a whole lot more 'productive', whatever that may be.

Friday, November 23, 2012

self promotion are us

Thought I'd mention that the giveaway I'm doing over on the other blog is open to readers all over the world, like, all over.
So if you've a little girl (or little boy so inclined) in your life, head over there to check out how to nab this bit of cuteness.

And don't say I never gave you nothing for free.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

fuck cancer

I've often seen this phrase used. Funny how it really rings true when you know someone who's just been diagnosed.
She's a friend, not one of my inner circle, but we met at University and I'm very fond of her.

She has two small children, a husband, a career, a newly-acquired dog, a wicked sense of humour, a beautiful life and now, very very serious breast cancer.

The last few days I've been feeling so, so sad for her, but today I got angry.

Fuck you cancer. Seriously, fuck you.

As if life isn't hard enough with the daily grind, the fears and concerns. The striving to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy and steadily moving forward. As if our heads and hearts aren't full enough of doubts and fears and worries about car accidents and genetically modified shit and small bruised ego's and large unfulfilled dreams. As if it's not enough that those we love will grow old and die, that we can't pause the march of time, that our children will face hurt and disappointment and there's nothing we can do to prevent that.

Isn't it enough that we must arm ourselves with compassion and courage and strength just to get through the normal days, without some insidious invisible invasive cells creeping up, silently spreading until they're detected and the knowledge of them throws everything, every single little thing, into disarray?

I just don't understand.

Monday, November 05, 2012

stuck in the middle with you

I used to joke that while some people lived 'all over the world', we'd lived 'all over Obs', and that in many ways it was the same thing. I'm starting to realise that was truer than I'd thought.

After 20 years of living in small rural towns, a couple bunking with my parents while I was studying and then 15 living in Observatory (I've just checked the maths, I think that's about right), it seems I'm now experiencing urban, middle-class, predominantly white, mostly Christian, South African suburbia for the first time.
And it's ... not that interesting.

In fact, it's a little drab.

I realise now how unique life really is in Observatory. A diverse suburb never torn apart by the Group Areas Act, always integrated, always diverse.
It was easy while living under the rainbow of South African nationhood to assume that it arched over us all, encompassing our differences while in a weird way keeping us all on the same page. Living in Obs was our commonality, and that gave us the freedom to express our individuality.

I have no doubt that the longer we live out here in the 'burbs the more people we'll meet with shared interests beyond just our age, our breeder status, our common wish to bring our kids up safe and healthy. But I think they're fewer and further between.
In Obs I never felt I had to look this hard.

In Obs I never felt I was living a stereotype. In middle-class 'burbia the part-time working, 30-something, home-owning, Golf-driving, flip-flop wearing, under-her-breath swearing mother-of-two is the Queen of Stereotype and I seem to fit the part perfectly.

Where we live is still utterly amazing, but as we venture out finding schools and attending swimming lessons I'm encountering the curse of the middle classes ... the banal names, the fake Christians, the bad genes jeans, the lack of critical thought, the material 'must-haves' and the emotional taboo's. And it's ... a little drab.

I'll tell you what's not drab though. Getting on a boat in your pyjamas before breakfast to visit a flock of flamingos. To watch them take flight above you and wheel over your heard in a flurry of pink and black against a grey blue early morning sky. To look over and see their long legs reflected in the eyes of your daughter as she gasps in delight.

That's what I'll remember as I grit my teeth and ponder my identity next to a warm chlorine-and-pee soaked pool on Thursday. And as I try not to overhear the banal conversations about Jayden's Christmas wish list and how expensive horse-riding is these days and who's under-15 rugby team is the best and who's fucking who on the PTA (okay, I made that up - I'd love to be privy to that one), I'll try and remember too that we'd all rather be frolicking with flamingos than doing the school run right?
We all know there's more to life than the new store in the mall right?

Please tell me I'm right?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

how I met your mother

I love love stories. Stories about how people met their significant others.

Okay, I love stories and people and love but the combination of the three, with a really good love story, actually makes my fingertips tingle.

Here's a good one I heard recently.

A couple met for the first time aged 10, on a church camp. Then, completely coincidentally, again aged 13, another church camp.
Both times they really hit it off, first as buddies, then as giggly self-conscious tweens.
After that they didn't see each other for a decade.

She went to university, fell pregnant and moved to another city to live with her parents and face life as a single mum.
He learnt a trade, married young, had a child and then a nasty divorce.

Completely by chance, when her baby was 8 months old, she and her parents visited a mission station in a remote part of the country. They stayed with the couple running the mission and she, by looking at the family photos on the walls, realised they were her camp buddy's parents. They all had a good laugh.

A few days after she got home she emailed them some photos she'd taken while staying there. He emailed her back.

8 months later they married. He adopted her baby and a few years later they had one of their own.

Such intertwining of coincidence and circumstance can only be fate right? And although not a believer myself I can absolutely understand how they see the hand of God in their story, working to bring them together.

Fate or God clearly they were meant to be. And that's totally romantic enough for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm seeing someone

Not really the kind of thing one admits to in 'public' right? But luckily my husband bored of my blog years ago and very seldom visits anymore.

I'm seeing someone. Someone who makes time for me, who really (really) listens, someone who I can be completely open with, who doesn't judge me. Someone who accepts me completely.

Truth is the relationship was short-lived, we're no longer an item. Maybe this is why I can speak about it more freely now.

Truth is she only really wanted to see me twice. True to my history in these matters, she only really needed 1 and a half sessions. I only really needed 1 and a half sessions.
1 in which to sob uncontrollably and throw all my metaphorical dirty laundry around the room, to say out loud those things we all have unsaid within our heads and hearts.
And then a full, introspective week later, another session to tell her how I removed the stains, washed and folded all those grimy unmentionables and were now able to pack them neatly away, fresh and clean for at least another 5+ years.

God, therapy is amazing. I'm back, and I'm feeling great.

Monday, October 01, 2012


I'm sitting here with sore hands from gardening. Yup, gardening. What's happening to me?

I'm a full blown domestic diva goddess who enjoys nothing more than hanging up laundry on my new line in the courtyard of my new house. I bake (okay, I always baked), but this time I bake with a goddamn view!
This time the sun streams in on my vintage stand mixer as I bake and listen to my children's voices echo across the lake and I feel a bit like this.

I feel a little like I don't know how I got this lucky. I feel a teeny-weeny little bit like it's all a dream and sometime soon we'll have to pack up and go back to Obs.

And in the night I feel a little like something bad might be heading our way because how can one life contain so much goodness?
I'm taking tranqs again. Living in paradise and taking pills for anxiety. How much more fucking white middle-class and indulgent can I get?

Monday, September 17, 2012

I promise I'm only going to do this once ...

... because a list this good deserves to be, um, listed.

Our new house has:

- a walk-in safe, complete with 3 ton door and combination lock (although no one knows the combination...)
- a semi-precious rock garden, with great hunks of Jasper, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Crystal and more
- a dressing room, just for me
- an under-the-stairs wine cellar
- a double-garage and outside work room (which currently smells really bad, but it's there right?)
- a laundry room
- a tool shed
- a (falling apart) jetty
- a small sail boat with all accessories barring (ahem), a mast
- a frangi-pani tree ('cos it's not a home without one)
- a secret attic room (I know!)
- an internal staircase perfect for wild games involving a giant Pilates ball and two little girls
- an external staircase perfect for playing Rapunzel
- a mud room
- a stoep with a view so breath-taking it soothes away the most stressful of days
- a lake, though I may have mentioned that?
- a fairy garden
- a zillion built-in-cupboards
- a bay window for basking
and, if you don't hate me already ...
- an art room (though husband prefers to call it a studio), for all manner of glitter-fuckery and creative pursuits

Many (most) of these are in various states of disrepair and decrepitude. Many of these were unknown to us on purchase. Many (most) of these seem to come straight from a long-held childhood fantasy of living in a ramshackle double-story house with hidden nooks and crannies.
All of these are why I feel like the luckiest girl alive and think we may just live here forever.

And ever and ever and ever.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

reality bites

So you know how I said our new place reminded us so much of our current home 9 years ago? And then I mentioned how we hadn't opened a cupboard or done any close examination before putting in an offer?

Yup, the reality of all that bit us in the bums yesterday.

Laid bare before us she revealed herself; wrinkles, liver spots, stretch-marks, scars, unsightly secrets of her long and active life.
A house without furniture is not a home, can't conceal its true self behind the soft furnishings and knick-knacks of the people who live there. An empty house is just a house, and a house whose most recent occupant has been a little old lady with failing eye-sight and flagging energy is a house which requires a lot of TLC.

In one of the winter's worst storms she maintained her dignity though, she showed us how she buffered herself against the slamming North Wester, held us warm as we watched the lake splash hard against its banks, throwing suds of foam up onto the lawn. She revealed unknown nooks and crannies, surprises both pleasant and ... not so pleasant.
She dared us to wallow in buyer's regret, or see her for all that she is, beneath her scarred exterior.

Between yesterday and our return visit today, in the sunshine, reality bit a little harder and the fact that this house is ours, ours to heal and paint and renovate, ours to love and live and grow in has sunk in for us all. And made us so happy.

We went back today and, as is our wont, we ripped out part of the kitchen, pulled up a carpet, walked through the place in surgical gloves and threw away ancient woolly toilet seat covers (shudder) and random left-behind crap.

She may still be empty until the end of the week, is not yet filled with our things, but already she's started to feel like home. Our house on the lake.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

caffeine fix(ated)

Our coffee machine died a few weeks ago. It was our first co-habiting appliance, bought in 2000 - it had a pretty good run.
Over the years, as our coffee appreciation grew, we'd started using a stove-top Bialetti to make the brew, and kept the great black behemoth of a coffee machine out purely to steam and froth milk.

Then it packed up and we were without The Foam. This was a BFP (big farking problem).

And boy, did it open a can of worms.

In the last few weeks I kid you not when I say we've spent more time talking about coffee, coffee machines, how to get the best head (shut it), beans v ground, latte art etc, than anything else.
You Tube clips have been watched, product reviews have been read. Emails have been sent, experts consulted, machines have been bought and returned, arguments have been had and coffee-drinking habits have changed significantly - all this in pursuit of the perfect cup of home-brewed coffee.

Because it seems this is the most important thing happening in our lives right now.

This afternoon, when I called Husbandguy from the shops to consult (yet again) about which type of coffee I should buy I commented (yet again) on the ridiculous amount of time and energy we were putting into this. Never mind that we're facing A MAJOR MOVE in 10 days time.

His response? Some people have religion to get them through stressful times. Some smoke, some do crosswords, some knit and some game.
We, it seems, have decided to deal with this particularly monumental moment in our lives by immersing ourselves in the dark brew.

Besides, we wouldn't be sleeping well now anyway right?

Blink. Blink.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

with fronds like these, who needs anemones*

*with apologies to Marlin, father of Nemo, for stealing the punchline of his only joke ...

I had occasion again recently to wonder what the hell is wrong with some women?

Women who invent/encourage/imagine/perpetuate all kinds of CRAP in order to power-play/over-dramatise/lord it over other women?

To be clear, none of this happened to me. I was just privy to some intel on it happening to others, and by serial-offenders no less, and it made me sad.

I don't understand this kind of one-up-bitchship. Or one-bitch-(wo)manship. I don't understand this shit.

A woman who decides to dislike another woman to the extent that she'll spread really vicious rumours about her, that she'll poison and often terminate any friendship between her partner and the boyfriend/husband of the girl she has it in for. That she'll spread the venom so thinly and widely that all kinds of other relationships are tainted and damaged in the process.

I can only see such actions as motivated by fear, depression, sadness and a damaged heart. I see them like that to try and make sense of them, but truthfully they make no sense at all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

here's me

It sucks great big hairy donkey nuts that I'm not posting here anymore. I need this space more than ever, and I keep telling myself I've not time to be here.

Truth is I don't have time to be anywhere right now so why discriminate?

I've learnt and re-learnt some truths about myself in the last couple of months.

1. I can't relax if there's nothing pending.
I had this problem when I was free-lancing, but it made more sense then. If I didn't have a job lined up I couldn't enjoy my down time for worrying about it. As soon as I got a booking, my down time disappeared and I beat myself up for not using it more wisely.

But I discovered during the weeks when our house was on show and closer to perfection than it (or any house in the future) will ever be again, that I couldn't relax.
There was no piles of clutter requiring my attention, no shit-hole of a study spewing chaos into my head-space, no DIY project half-done and nagging for attention. Nothing but clear, calm, immaculately styled (well, relatively) space and I hated it. It made me restless, and nervous, and weirdly ... unproductive.

Suffice to say since the day we sold the that picture changed, rapidly, and now in the midst of half-packed, half-sorted, half-assed houseness, I'm zinging with creativity.
And have no time to indulge it.

2. I suck at change.
Yeah, this one wasn't really a surprise either. You know those anxiety attacks I had before Frieda was born? Yup, I had a couple more of those.
And although I could draw up a pretty comprehensive list of where the anxiousness was coming from, truthfully there was only one source: shit was changing and I didn't like it.

While part of me is glad this whole house-selling/buying, transfer, packing, moving process is a process, I can't help but wonder if it all happened in a week whether it wouldn't be easier on the emotions.

3. Living in Obs makes me feel cool.
And moving to an area which has a reputation for being exclusive and wealthy makes me feel uncool.
At the beach the other day (where we did this which was totally cool), I was hesitant telling people where we were moving to - concerned that they'd assume we were ... what? Wealthy? Snobs?
Then all the way home I laughed at myself remembering the few times I'd felt embarrassed telling people we lived in Obs - concerned they'd assume we were ... what? Hippies?
For fucks sake Molly, grow a spine.

4. I'm a soppy, nostalgic hoarder.
Seriously, you should see some of the stuff I've kept for years and years. I've been dutifully opening sealed boxes and sorting through them to ensure nothing surplus moves with us, and I've had a couple of good laughs at myself and shed more than a few tears at the things I've found.
(And I'm wildly excited to re-read a vast number of favourite books I've unearthed. In fact, I've packed them all into the same box - it's to go straight into our new bedroom and onto my nightstand.)
(Because of course we'll be unpacked and settled in mere days and then I'll have nothing to do but read read read.)

5. Packing appeals to my neglected spatial awareness skills.
Many different sized boxes, many many many many different sized things. Throw both at me and I'll astound you with my feats of spatial manipulation.
I always was very good at Tetris.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

really truly?

We went for a walk on the other side of the lake this afternoon. I stood at the water's edge while Stella swung back and forth on the squeaky metal frame of a long-removed swinging dustbin and watched a coot clumsily take flight just in front of me and thought no, surely not.

Surely this won't be my reality in just a couple of months time? Surely it is not conceivable that I will stand on my lawn with the lake at my feet and watch waterbirds take flight?

Husband asks me if I've started thinking about where our furniture will go in the new house. I haven't. Well I have and once I've placed the obvious - 3 beds and a hideously huge leather sofa - I stymie and choke, not being able to imagine for a moment what we'll do with everything else. The vintage filing cabinet? The dog's special chair? The truckload of art supplies?

I mean, it's not like we really even know what the place looks like. One viewing, just one, and a bunch of mediocre photos and some very conflicting memories ('What do you mean there's a GATE there??').
I mean, we didn't even open a kitchen cupboard to sniff inside and check for damp.We didn't turn on a tap, flick a light switch, we didn't pace out the lounge or check the window catches or flush the loo's.

We walked around in disbelief and wonder that such a place could really be ours, we stood at the lake and watched waterbirds take flight and grinned stupidly.
We went back inside and sold our soul to the devil for a lot of money to make it so.

On Sunday we'll see it again. Let's hope we don't freak the fuck out.

Friday, June 15, 2012

tiny houses

Julochka had a post recently on tiny houses - a few ceramic miniature houses she'd picked up at a flea market. She also has the best Pinterest board full of images of teeny-weeny houses, it's one of those boards which represents the greatness of Pinterest - a deeply personal collection of absolutely exquisite creative expressions from all over the world.

All this reminded me of my tiny houses, and a weird coincidence, and how it all ties in nicely with my recent obsession - houses.

When my Grandfather died earlier this year, he left instructions for his grandchildren to divvy up his lovely collection of ceramic and glass figurines. We gathered together after his funeral and took turns to choose items which reminded us of him, of visiting his home as children and later with our children.

I was so happy to bring home this little row of porcelain Gault houses.

And especially pleased when husband and Frieda recognised them instantly and both said how they remembered them in my Grandfather's home. Perfect.

So imagine our delight when we spotted these ...

... a row of tiny houses (very possibly Gault?) on the bedroom windowsill of our New House (yes, that will be my New Bedroom View).

Another one of my portents and dreams I think. Another one which seems to now have come true.

I love my tiny houses, and I love that I'll be taking them (and the associated fond memories of my Grandad) to our new big house too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

in which I did some weird huru-guru hippie shit which didn't necessarily work but hey we sold so maybe it did

We sold our house yesterday.

Almost a month to the day after it went on the market. My FB time-line is full of congratulations that it happened so fast. 'Cos it did right?
Just because it felt like a million years to us doesn't mean it wasn't a short month in the real world, an even shorter month in the world of property sales.

4 show houses, about 15 other house visits, MEGA chocolate and ka-ching, it's done.

I didn't cope with it very well though. Insomnia, comfort eating, general crabbiness - wasn't my best month of the year by any means.

One day, after I had a little moan, a friend messaged me suggesting I consider a little 'house-selling ritual' that she swore by, citing examples of people who'd sold houses under dire circumstances after doing it. I'm not really into that kind of thing but I liked the basic premise of her idea - that one needed to let go emotionally, or 'release' one's home, before it would sell.
Considering I came home to this house as a new bride, invested so much time and effort renovating it, spent nearly 9 years here with my husbandguy, brought both our babies home from hospital here - ja, I've definitely been very emotionally invested.

So I gave it a bash. I gathered items which represented my home - frangi-pani's from the front garden, a lemon from the back, a splinter of wood from our beloved floors, a shirt both girls wore as babies - then, as per the instructions, I filled a basin with water and pushed the items in, holding them under while quietly chanting 'I release you, I release you, I release you.' My take on the alleged Islamic divorce practise of old.

Then I pulled the plug and let the water, and the ties that bind, drain away.

10 days later the house is sold. I can't really credit the ritual. If we'd sold the next day I would've been intrigued, but as it is I'm not wholly convinced.
But it did make me think about the house, and my relationship with it, and it did make me consciously try to let go. All of which is good, and necessary.

So now, eyes forward. And emotional reserves ready to embrace a lot of change - houses, schools, rhythms of our day. Now to think about establishing a new relationship, with a new house, and wondering what milestones we'll celebrate there.

Can you see her? Just peeking around the enormous tree, her jetty sticking out into the water? Behind the arb stranger standing fishing on the point? Looming quietly in the mist?

Hello new house.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


We bought them sight unseen.

My clearest memory of the show house was my husband walking from room to carpeted room bouncing gently on the balls of his feet.
'They're there,' he grinned. 'They're there and they're going to be beautiful.'

Once again, he was right. He has a good hunch for things.

We moved in a week before our wedding, and while I faffed with flowers and last minute arrangements, he channeled any pre-wedding jitters into tearing up the carpets, working late into the night before our big day.

the only - bad - before picture we have of this room when we first saw it
The next evening he carried me over the threshold, to a house filled with siblings and friends, flowers and joy and ... great big exposed tracts of glue-stained, dusty, hairy ... floor.
Extra-width Oregon Pine floor boards, gasping in the light they'd not seen for well over 30 years.

And so the work began. Carpet glue is a bitch. Ancient beetle-damage is a bitch. Sanding is a back-breaking bitch. But we did it.

And my god they are beautiful.

It's sobering to think we'll probably never live with such beautiful floors again. There are lots of wonderful flooring options out there for sure, and we're excited about experimenting with some of them (if/when/hold thumbs we move), but I don't think anything will ever come close to the warmth (to the touch and the eye), character, sound, feel, smell of original Oregon floors.
And I don't think we'll ever imbue so much love into flooring again. I'd have scoffed if anyone had ever told me I could love a floor, but I do you know. From the bottom of my feet.

This blog is about to get house-heavy. As we contemplate moving on, and look back at all we've done here, all this house has meant to us, I'm going to get sentimental. Brace yourselves.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

scrubbing up

As I've said to countless estate agents over the last few weeks, I'm not even apologising for this room:

I've shown you our 'study' before, guess you didn't think it could get any worse right? It has ...

There's a part of me that can't believe I'm sharing this on the interwebs, but let me assure you the rest of our house doesn't (often) look like this.
This room houses the overflow of busy lives, of hobbies and projects and inquisitive minds and discarded toys and too well-loved books now in need of repair, of too much tech and not enough time. It is home to bikes and parts of bikes and memories and hurriedly unpacked bags, unpaid bills, financial records, wrapping paper stashes and ribbons I can't throw away. In this room, if you had unlimited time to scrounge, you'd find fine wine and gadgets, power tools, a broken stool, photos, wheel hubs, motorboats, a fridge, a laminator, light bulbs of all description and ... so much more.
As I said before, this room is the reason we need to move, the irrefutable proof that we need more space.

But regardless of my attempts to justify this shit-pit, the undeniable fact is we couldn't let any strangers in here. Not real strangers that is.
And so ... they said it couldn't be done, they said it would take us a life time, they said we might not make it out alive.
But we did.

We packed and we cleaned and we chucked and we re-categorised and we did it. We did it and now the space echoes and sparkles. And we're bored.

There's lots of talk of a clean slate encouraging a creative mind but I'm not feeling it. With our minds and our lives in their current state of flux, I could do with a bit of stuff - chaotic, disorganised, familiar stuff to distract and comfort me.
Living in this sanitised show-house is all a bit weird.

I think it may be time for a new hobby ...

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

oh my god I hope he's right

Twelve years ago, lazing around with the weekend papers, husband turned to me and said; 'I think I've found our cat.'
We'd just recently moved into our own place, our first place with no housemates, and getting a cat seemed the next logical step.

The ad read: 1 year old black cat. Female. Half Siamese. R50.

This was the information he was basing his statement on, he couldn't explain it, but he was convinced he was right.
And he was. She was, is, and will always be, the perfect cat for us.

3 weeks ago, lazing around with the internets ('cos that's the way the world now works), husband turned to me and said; 'I think I've found our house.'
I sat up and took heed.

It's in a part of town we'd never before considered, it wouldn't make his commute to work any easier, it doesn't put us in the catchment area for any great schools, it would place us a distance away from some of our favourite people ... but it has a garden and a view and the promise of a lifestyle we just can't resist.

We emailed the agent and heard back the next day that an offer had already been placed, it was basically off the market.
We went there the following Sunday, looked at another couple of houses in the area on show. Then, just to rub salt in the wound, we drove past The One. As we got out of the car a fish eagle called in the sky above.
We sighed and drove home.

A week later, a call from the agent. You know where this is going right? The potential buyers were having marital problems, they might be pulling out.

We went away for 6 days, spent some of that time wondering about The One. Wondering whether it was thinking about us too.

Back home to discover the original offer had fallen through, but an English couple were 'very interested' in the house. Naturally they'd be paying pounds, cash. We couldn't compete.
We sighed.

Then, they decided not to place an offer. The house, The One, the one with the fish eagles and the lake and the garden and the double garage workroom and the staggeringly high mortgage, was officially back on the market.

Guess I don't need to tell you how we went to see it. How we laughed in horror and delight at how much it reminded us of our current place when we first bought it. How we thrilled at the potential and despaired at the kitchen. How we met, giggling, in the bathroom as the agent was taking us around and grinned at each other, husband whispering 'It's crap but I love it.'
How we stood in silence in front of the lake at the bottom of the lawn and listened to the water birds and in our minds, pushed off our canoe and paddled off into the estuary.

We placed an offer. It's been accepted. We have to sell our current house first so we're not there quite yet. But we're closer than we ever thought we'd be.

There's a 13 year old black cat purring on my lap. I think she'll like it there.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I look to the hills

It was a scene so photogenic, so visually powerful and mystical and ... strong.
Art directors the world over would weep.

That field in the background is deep and wide and golden with the setting sun. That mountain range behind it is blue-grey and long and high and portent. The clouds to our left were heaving and black, to the right fluffy and white, and just off frame, half a rainbow dipped down from the heavens.
That minister spoke, those two people pledged and all the while thunder rumbled in the distance.
And just as they came to the vows, so came the big plop-plop of the first drops of thunderstorm rain. By the time they were man and wife we were nearly drenched.

I attended two Christian religious ceremonies last week.

One took place in a church. Surrounded by the trappings of culture and ritualised belief, protocol and decorum and stand now and sit now and say this now. I understand some people take comfort from that.

The other, in a place far more holy than the first. Free, true, tangible, fresh, dusty, exposed, timeless. It was still not my god, but it made much more sense to me there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

things from the day

Realising, during the eulogy, that you can know someone your whole life and not, by any means, know everything about them. Not at all.
Coupled by the instant stab of pain at how much you didn't ask them when you could have.

Sitting in the front pew (we came in late) knowing my whole extended family was right behind me. Hearing a cough and recognising it as my mother's, a whisper from a cousin, a nose-blow which could have only belonged to a man.
Feeling the presence of all of them behind me.

The young undertaker's assistant dropping his small change all over the carpet in front of the coffin trolley. My uncle's look of resigned disdain.
The knowledge that it wouldn't have bothered my grandfather as much as it did his eldest son.

The pallbearers - my father, flanked by his older and younger brothers. Opposite each of them their eldest son. 4 of the 6 wearing ties from the same prestigious Cape Town boy's school. A momentary pang that I have no sons, no men to stand, proud in their grief, in formation at my funeral.
A momentary respect for patriarchy.

Changing the meaning of the minister's words in my head so that each time he mentioned god I substituted my grandfather.
He is good, merciful, kind. He brings us comfort. We are here to honour Him.

The strange, yet oddly comforting way the minister followed behind the coffin, still preaching, accompanying my grandfather out to the hearse.
The heavy thud of the vehicle's door punctuating the end.

The ribbons on the hymnals fluttering in the breeze ...

Later, in my uncle's study with all my first cousins. 10 present, just one missing. We're here on my grandfather's bidding, complying with instructions he left in his last days. 10 adults - all married, most of us parents, most of us with very little else in common - all briefly reminded of days gone when we tumbled on our grandparent's lawn at Christmas-time, tussled over the coins in the Christmas pudding, performed Beatles songs for a family concerts.
Days when we frolicked through family gatherings filled with happy adults and so much love.

Even later, exhausted, sitting outside with my man, a ridiculously bright and spectacular shooting star shot across the sky.

These are the things I want to remember from that day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

got air

We're just back from our annual family retreat - the 7th year we've been back to the same house out near Hermanus for a birthday celebration weekend in March.

My Grandad passed away last week. My sister-in-law's been really ill with glandular fever. Our baby turned 2 last weekend. It's been a busy, emotional time.
But despite all that, the weekend was light. Easy. Fun and relaxing.
'Cos that's what family should (mostly) be.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

a tally ...

... of my recent injuries:

On Friday I got kicked in the face. By accident naturally, during a wild pre-bedtime game of, um ... Kick Mum in the Face as far as I can make out.
Lesson learnt: those little heels are hard and also, never get in a bar fight. My face hurts.

On Saturday I stubbed my toe against the edge of the exhaust pipe for Husband’s ‘project bike’ which was on the floor of the study because, um ... that’s where it seems to live now? I lifted a big flap of skin and may or may not have said bad words in front of my children.
Lesson learnt: buy house with garage, make Husband live in it (garage) and also, fuck.

On Sunday I moved the dog’s bed (made of a repurposed 4x4 tyre) and managed to drop it on my foot. I think I crushed one or more small bones. I may have said some more bad words.
Lesson learnt: get a chihuahua.

And also, feet are over-rated.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


I think I said goodbye to my grandfather on Tuesday.

There is no tragedy in this. He is 92 years old and has been astoundingly fit and well for 91 and a half of them. He is ready.

We, of course, are not.

After spending 5 minutes with him, during which he held my hand so tightly and asked, through his morphine haze, so, so sweetly after my husband and girls, after he told me how proud he was of all his grandchildren and their children (he has 11 and 14 respectively) and I kissed his soft cheek and told him I loved him - his wife, my step-grandmother I guess, walked me to my car and said she thinks he's 'turned his face to the wall'.

He is ready.

His hand held mine for the rest of the day. Through the traffic and the kids, errands and chores. His hand held mine and I feel it still.

I think I said goodbye to my grandad on Tuesday, but I still feel his strong hand on mine.
I hope to feel it there always.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

being a lady

You know how a lady reserves the right to change her mind? Yeah, I'm calling that one.

I've realised to be true what a couple of my nearest and dearest probably realised some time ago: I ain't no mommy blogger. At least not a South African one. At least not a South African one who will anytime soon produce the kind of material which'll entice any of the (limited number) of mommy-blogger type advertisers out (t)here.
At least not a South African one who will fit the mold or care to work particularly hard at doing so.

It's complicated. But that is what it is.

The good news: I've liberated myself of some truly tedious twitter follows and blog subscriptions - I'm not playing that 'networking' game no more.

The silly part: I now have two blogs for the same kind of content.

The other silly part: this blog's followers keep growing, despite my not generating any actual blog posts.

Further to that silly part: my followers on the other blog are holding steady, despite my generating lots of blog posts for it and despite very healthy traffic over there (lots of which is from here).

So I've got followers here who go there to spy on me, followers there who know nothing about here, loyal readers there who don't actually 'follow' me anywhere, youspinmerightroundbabyrightroundlikearecordbabyrightroundrightround ...

And all of this because I want to be a writer. A moniker I've had many opportunities to test out of late, what with the girls starting new schools and my meeting new people as a result. People who ask me what I do, and dry-mouthed I answer 'I write' which leads to a whole bunch of inevitable questions which I don't really know how to answer.
'Oh you know ... um ... here and there ... working on some stuff ... look! squirrels!'

What I've written lately:
not many blog posts, here or there
copious lists
the bones of a short film screenplay
the bones of 3 articles for submissions to various publications, none of which are near submission ready
half a letter to my granny
detailed instructions for my nanny
far, far, far too many facebook status updates

I'm not really sure what to do about all of this ...

Hello Oh For the Love of Blog! Happy 2012!