Tuesday, December 31, 2013

books: 2013

For the first time in years I kept a list of everything I read this year. Read to myself that is.

Not only did I keep a list but I got it updated in time to start again on Wednesday! Amazing.

Also amazing is that I read 36 books. Me, the person who never thinks I've enough time to read. 36 of my own books plus about 600 kiddie's books - they count right?

According to this article one's brain function is boosted for up to 5 days after reading a novel. If I count mine, and generously amalgamate all the children's books into, say, 100 novels ... then I had 680 days of super-intellect this year!

That sounds about right. Right?

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

sentimental old fart

So we've been sickly, husband and I, and the girls have been amazing (I know I've mentioned all this), and now we're on the mend and re-emerging back into the world. And, as always when I've been ill, feeling a little tender and fragile in the harsh public eye.

In retrospect (always right?), there was something very special about 4 days, at home, with my beloveds, especially at this mad time of year.
My girls are doing such a giant leap forward at the moment, their little downy chick feathers starting to hold them aloft for short spans of time.
Frieda is off for her first sleepover tonight. At the home of a friend she's had since toddlerdom, good people, a safe comfortable home. She left with enthusiasm, excitement and that slight tightening round the mouth that I know as apprehension. A little delicious nervousness like listening to a scary story - enjoying the thrill in the knowledge that it's all going to be okay.

I, of course, felt completely sentimental. Had to keep my sunglasses on while hugging her goodbye, felt like moping a bit when I passed her empty room earlier.
She's been sleeping over at Granny's since she was 2, she's just a few suburbs over for goodness sake. I've a friend who's just dropped her teenage daughter off for her first wild summer holiday in the same stomping badlands of our youth, Julie's daughter is off skiing in the Alps, but I'm feeling miz that Frieda's spending one night in the home of her good friend just down the line.

Get a grip.

I didn't really think we could spend the rest of their lives here, altogether, them near naked and innocent, the sun shining, watching and reading things we'd chosen, talking and listening to each other, having cuddles and giggles and arguments and games - just the 4 of us (and a squillion snotty tissues).
But for a little while it seemed maybe we could ...

they can have it

In So Much for That, a Lionel Shriver novel I recently read, there's a wonderful paragraph towards the end where the main character - his wife is dying, he's lost his job, his life's ambition is slipping away from him - makes a list (I love a list).

'Thank-you notes and surreptitious sponging of gravy stains; heat-crimped packaging that only opened with pruning shears, and incompatible software. Ramadan, Columbus Day, and picnics. National self-determination, recipes for banana bread, and Amazon.com. Bungee-cord jumping, suicide bombing, and falling in love. Space stations, purdah, and male pattern baldness. Right-to-life protests, self-defrosting refrigerators, and hemlines; Christmas-tree air-fresheners, presidential assassinations, and ten-year retrospectives on the fall of apartheid. Micro-lending, woodworm treatments, and anti-vivisection leagues. West Bank settlements and genetically modified cron; nuclear antoproliferation states, National Salt Awareness Week, and fluoridated water. Narco states, dust ruffles, and bus shelter vandalism; lucky numbers, favourite colours, and button collections. Tribal scarring and Polka Album of the Year Awards, tea ceremonies, buzz cuts, and alternative energy. Feature films, the Fifth Amendment, and weather forecasts; Arctic exploration, affirmative action, and cell phone contracts. The South Beach Diet, elder abuse, and the Battle of Waterloo; burkhas, bedsteads, and the designated hitter rule; heirlooms, insoles, and the European Union. From IEDs, GDPs, and MP3s to Gore-Tex, gas shortages, and gardening tips; he was sick of it, man. Of people and their shit.'

What I wouldn't give to be able to write like that.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

my guide to a non-religious christmas

~ embrace the magic
~ be very proud when your youngest is chosen to be Mary in the (very secular I might add) school play

~ put up a tree
~ do a homemade advent calendar
~ sing Christmas carols
~ express gratitude
~ make Christmas Crack (aka English Toffee)

~ give freely to those less fortunate
~ watch Love Actually
~ be spontaneous, silly and generous, all because it's Christmas
~ make it mermaid themed

~ really look at the first picture, see the wonder and awe with which they're all looking at the baby.
Remember that Christmas is about rebirth, new beginnings, children, family, love, respect and admiration, celebration.

Well, that's how I do it anyway. Hope you've all had a good one.


A mid-summer, mid-season, mid-holiday head cold. Oh fucking joy.

Husband and I both.

On Boxing Day, after a gentle, lovely, but busy Christmas, we were only too pleased to be lounging around - reading books and eating chocolate and playing with new toys and suchlike.
Today, the novelty has severely worn off.

I get why some friends deactivate their Facebook accounts this time of year. If you're not having the Best Holiday Ever then the endless feed of Plett/Llandudno/sundowners/poolside/cocktails/roadtrips/bikinis can really get you down.

What's not getting me down however, are my children. My god they've been amazing. For sure there's a bit of cabin fever ... and I feel badly that we're not on the beach or up the mountain or on the water or making meaningful family memories besides reading Little House on the Prairie and watching The Long Way Down (wait, I think those are family memories actually) ... but they seem completely happy to play with each other. New paddling pool, mermaid Barbies, bows and arrows, Lego, camping on the lawn and gathering 'winter stores', feeding ducks, and mainly - playing with each other.

We may be sniffling and sneezing and feeling sorry for ourselves, but they're having a summer holiday. The old-fashioned way.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

a day

Today I did the school run for the last time this year. Then I collected a loaned pram, for my poor youngest with a massive roastie on her knee.
A quick lunch and then to the train (her first time!), with my parents and friends, to town for a final Madiba send off.

We didn't get tickets for the stadium event alas, but we walked through town and talked, and thought and remembered, and educated.

They are so young, but I hope they remember. 

And even if they don't, one day they will understand and be able to say, 'I was there.'

Sunday, December 08, 2013

sad and sticky

I'm not ready to talk about Mandela.

Friday was a big day, and I've spoken about my sorrow here before. When I remember that he's gone my heart feels like a balloon, hollow and tight, a feeling I thought was reserved for losing someone closer to me.
Turns out he was that close, to us all.

It was a weekend of comforting things, I'm glad for that.

Husband has a fantastic relationship with food. He loves to eat it, but more especially (as Stella's nanny used to say), he loves to make it.
He cooks, or bakes, to relax. To experiment, to learn, to laugh. To eat.

He grew up in a house in which home-made was a matter of fiscal and domestic pride, his parents were great canners and preservers. They were into food too.
One of my favourite stories from his childhood is how my in-laws used to make their own stash of individual pies. A towering stack of silver foil pie dishes were procured, and a great pie-making project begun - everything from the crust to the filling made from scratch, the completed products stacked in the freezer with pride.
Mostly made from the foods they grew, reared, or ... caught.
Apparently tortoise pie is not to be recommended.

But home-steading's in the genes and over the years he's perfected his bread-making skills, researched and made exotic things, and 'put by' a fair amount of goodies - from pies (pork and fennel for us thank you), to jams and relishes and currently, ginger and buchu beer.

After brewing it all weekend, we bottled it up a couple of hours ago. A couple of hours later, and we've just finished mopping up our sticky kitchen and releasing the pressure on the remaining bottles.
It's fiery stuff this ginger beer.

Making stuff, using our hands, filling our bellies - this is how we find comfort.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

facing extinction with a muffin and a cup of tea

My eldest daughter (and so, by association, my youngest daughter), are all into dinosaurs at the moment. Their drawings are of diplodocus, their games about T-rex's and triceratops. When swimming, they are not dolphins but plesiosaurs and nothosaurs.
We talk about extinction. How the dinosaurs world radically changed, but also how (besides for that last big meteorite - bam!), it took hundreds of years to do so, and in fact the age of the dinosaur was just one in a series of prehistoric developmental stages of earth.

I believe in Earth. I have faith in the forces of nature and the slow and continuous progress of evolution. I believe that Earth has the bigger picture, that it teaches us lessons in transience and perspective and scale.

Climate change. The end of antibiotics. Anti-vaxxers. Avian flu. War. Super power ridiculousness. Civilian revolt. The death of the oceans.

Human beings are just one more developmental stage in the glorious story that is Earth. Our time will come to an end, to make way for another species or manifestation of ourselves, they will learn from our mistakes and benefit from our successes.
Just as we've learned from the dinosaurs not to be so ... big.

And when we're gone, the tides will keep on turning, the winds blowing and the earth shifting. Creatures will evolve and breed and die and mutate, and we're damn arrogant to think we've been the greatest of them all.

But right now I've got applesauce muffins in the oven, a lovely cup of tea, a weekend ahead with my beloveds, a party tonight to celebrate the current clean bill of health of this friend.
And all that is pretty damn great.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

gone too soon

Last Thursday I celebrated 22 years with my husband. On that same afternoon a friend lost hers in a light plane crash.

Devastating. A word I've thought, said, typed more often since then I probably ever have. 

I've been struggling so much with this one. We don’t know them that well, but the time we've spent with them my husband and I felt such a connection, a meeting of like-minded souls which has become very rare as we've gotten older. I know they felt it too.
If we’d lived closer I've no doubt we would be close friends. When we have seen each it’s always been warm and empathetic. We laugh at the same things.

They have two young children. We have two young children. The horror of having to guide your children through the loss of a parent as you suffer your own inconsolable grief is terrifying.

They were soul mates. We are soul mates. We both think they were one of very few couples we've met whose relationship seemed to operate similar to ours. They were partners. We are partners. They loved each other dearly. We love each other dearly. The reality that such a treasured person can be taken from you is sobering and horrific.


And also, what the actual FUCK?

I will never understand how a man – a warm, compassionate, loved, positive, energetic man, a father and a husband – gets whipped away on a sunny afternoon while hundreds of wife-beating, double-crossing scum live long into old age.

If I was religious I could put it down to ‘God’s plan’, which I should not question, just ‘trust’. This may be why I’m not religious.

But I am spiritual (it’s possible, really it is), and I have been thinking a lot these last few days about destiny and fate.
Was it always his destiny, while building a life, a marriage, fathering and parenting two children, making plans, hoping, dreaming, that he would leave it all too soon, too soon for anyone?
Was it always her fate to be a young widow?

And while I’m at it, was it coincidence that two of their dearest friends were planning to visit them this last weekend, so that they were the first to arrive after she got the news? There to guide her through that first surreal, unimaginable 48 hours?

I don’t know the answers to any of this. All I know is there is a patch on my heart rubbed raw for her, for her children. My tears are but a drop in the ocean of their grief.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

happy birthday grand dad!

7 years ago today my Dad turned 60.

My parents invited all their friends and family to join us for a big lamb braai at a public picnic spot in a Nature Reserve near their home.
It was one of those very wonderful collaborative events, lots of people making salads and breads and desserts and some dear friends of my parents driving through from the Karoo with two sheep's worth of cutlets to feed the crowd.

My husband and brothers were on braai duty, and we hired in plates, glasses, big dishes for the meat, we placed an order for a ton of wood, arranged pop-up gazebos and chairs, made sure everyone had directions etc.

The evening before I was round at my Mum's helping prep salads with some friends. We chopped and diced and cling-wrapped, endlessly rearranging the fridge to fit it all in.

Quite early on I was flagging, suddenly exhausted and barely able to stand. So much so that Mum was concerned for me driving home. But I had a cup of tea, felt stronger and left, staggering into bed as soon as I got there.

The next day was beautiful and very warm. We all worked hard, cooking and arranging and hosting and feeding and chatting and laughing and celebrating my dear Dad and how precious he is to us all.

That evening, weary and happy, back at my parents place, we divided up the remaining uncooked meat into manageable portions to freeze.
The sight of all that raw meat suddenly became too much for me - the blood and the smell and the very rawness of it all. I was overcome with queasiness and had to leave the kitchen to lie down for a bit.

That week I found out I was, of course, pregnant.

And so every year since as we celebrate my Dad's birthday, always with the non-negotiable lemon meringue pie, and the bottle of good brandy and the family gathering to mark the occasion - I also mark the moment as the beginning of my parenthood.
The very first time I had to adjust my pace to meet the demands of a small person, the first family gathering she shared with us.

I love this gentle overlap, the dual celebration I've observed since then. I love that my Dad and Frieda's celestial paths crossed somehow, in some small funny way.

It was his 60th birthday and the beginning of his Grandfatherdom. Today it's his 67th and what an absolutely wonderful Grandfather he is.
Happy birthday Dad.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Sometimes I love Pinterest for reasons not even Pinterest could have predicted ...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'd call it 'subtweet' but the person I'm referring to isn't reading.

Man sits down at a bar. Small voice says, 'Nice shirt.'
Man looks around confused, catches the barman's eye who indicates with his head, 'It's the nuts,' he says, 'They're complimentary.'

Drum roll ...

The ability to take a compliment has become one of my measures of a person. The manner in which one receives a reasonable compliment speaks to your confidence, how comfortable you are in your skin or your stage of life - take it well and you're my kind of person.

I'm no gusher. If I tell you I like your laugh, your house, your hair or your mind, if I compliment your kids, your style, your ass or your driving skills, I'm being really sincere.

So it bugs me when people - adults - are too self-deprecating to take a compliment. Specifically people who have beautiful homes, good jobs, healthy families and the wherewithal to serve bloody good champagne.
I know that everyone has shit, I know that seemingly perfect lives can be deeply flawed, I know that people are not always who they seem.
But acknowledge your privilege. Count your blessings. Have the grace to take a good compliment on the chin.

Your hair looks amazing!

Monday, September 30, 2013

the first night

Tonight is the first one. The first soft, still, warm summers evening. It makes me so happy, but in a calm, almost nostalgic way.
It feels like Sunday night, this last night of September. It feels like a Sunday night at the end of a 2 week weekend. Not just because it's the last night before the 4th term starts tomorrow (back to school is very fucking cool when you're a work-from-home parent), but because the last few weeks have been so full.

I've spent the month writing for a blog project which goes live tomorrow. A blog site dedicated to breast cancer issues for the month of October. It's writing work which has come directly from blogging, and ironically from this one, not C is for Cape Town.
It's been incredibly stimulating and I've enjoyed the process immensely, although the subject matter is hugely sobering.

I was a bit side-tracked a week or so ago by getting sick though. A real nasty flu bug which wiped me out. I'm still coughing, and have just been googling all the kids meds we have in the house seeing if I can self-medicate this one. I do not feel like a GP visit (especially as I'm paying for psychoanalysis right now!) but I must be well by the weekend - I've a rock festival to attend! (I know!)

Then the school holidays hit, just 10 days long and jam packed full of action. We had 4 birthday parties in 4 days - two kiddies and two grown-up (perfect!). I baked and dressed up and sorted out gifts and meals and baby-sitters and schedules and it was all such fun, but how quickly these events recede into the distance in these crazy busy lives of ours.

Maybe it's all receded particularly quickly as I've just spent the weekend with FOUR smalls in tow (fact: being outnumbered by small children will cause brain cells to flee in indignation). My bestie's been here, with her 2.3 yr old and new 4 month old delight.
Charl was away on a bike rally so we borrowed my parent's 7 seater car and played Mormon wives for the weekend. It was completely wonderful, in a totally chaotic, nonsensical, relentless and extremely loud way.

My dear friend is right on the front line of toddler + baby craziness, a state I still remember so very well. It is incomprehensibly intense for anyone who's not been there, and such an eye-opener for me on how far I've come.
In some ways my days with the girls now are a complete walk in the park in comparison to then, although I do remind myself that it's just a new set of challenges really. But there's no doubt the physical demands on me are less, the personal space is broader and the reminder of this has left me feeling so free and, of course - because us parents are always such suckers - a little sad.

To be reminded of the exquisite purity of that moment when your hungry baby latches on to your breast. The happy grunt, the tiny hand patting you appreciatively, the eyes staring at you in gratitude, satisfaction and a little bit of what-the-hell-took-you-so-long.
I'll never feel that again, which is more than okay on every level except the deep thrum of nostalgia.

I lay next to Stella as she fell asleep tonight, my baby who seemed (and acted) like such a big girl these last few days. The night outside was soft and still, the first night, and also one of the last.

Such is life.

Hello summer.

Friday, September 13, 2013

these cats

These cats don't get photographed as much as they once did. Our black Khoki is increasingly wary of the children. This house is big enough for her to stay out of sight most of the day, until the girls are in bed and she slinks out to demand the attention she is due as our first baby. It's impossible to photograph a black cat at night.

And this little girl is very much getting on in years. Fritta, though nowadays mostly just called Ginger, is completely nonplussed by children, visiting dogs, vacuum cleaners or thunder claps. But rattle a plastic bag within a 3 room radius and she streaks off in an orange flash.
She spends more and more time in bed. As an elderly lady should be allowed to do.

I don't photograph them as much as I once did. But they are here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

f**king with my brain

I saw a clinic psychologist this morning. Someone who specializes in cognitive psych. It was somewhat reassuring to hear him say he's not really interested in my childhood, my history, my inter-personal relationships.
What interests him, is the neuron reactors in my brain. Specifically the ones which link toads to my adrenal glands.

Like Pavlov's dog, learnt behaviour links parts of your brain which weren't original joined. Bell = saliva. Toad = freak the fuck out.

And apparently, according to my guy Larry with his slow speech and his bright intense eyes and the somewhat off-putting wet corners of his mouth and completely refreshing ability (especially for a man of his years in front of a 'young-ish' woman) to use fuck in a sentence within the first 15 minutes (he was quoting someone but still I loved it), we can trick my brain into releasing that link.

We're on a 6 session strategy (after that, if I'm not 'cured', he carries on treating me for free), it seems a bizarre thing to spend money on. But we spent a whole lot more than that on this magnificent house on the lake, and I'm damned if I'm going to cloud my summers with fear and anxiety.
It's just not practical to have to drink 2 glasses of wine before I'll go out on the lawn after dark. It's time-consuming to have to send the dog out to sniff around the stoep before I'll step outside at night. It's just plain ridiculous to leave our outside workroom standing open all night because I forgot to go out and lock it up before dusk.

Larry and me, we're going to fix this thing.

Completely unrelated picture of a completely different creature. These ones I love.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Full and tender, I carry this cup from room to room. Nothing must jar it.

Not the indignant shriek of a child, not a stubbed toe, not the last drop of milk in the house one drop too little for my tea.
Not a dog underfoot or a page printed skew or a hair in my shirt tickling me.

Sometimes it's a heavy chalice, set with jewels and laden with images of womyn, carved with stories of childbirth and fecundity throughout the ages.
Other months it's as inconsequential and irritating as a discarded styrofoam cup on the side of the road.

But when it's brimming, it must be carried with two hands and a studied frown. Nothing else must be poured into it.

Not a concern for the future, not someone else's bad luck, not a newspaper headline which brings tears and the perilous danger of giving a fuck.

This cup must be balanced and managed and held, until it is ready. And then in a wave of relief and blood, I can put it down and get on with my life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

outside the courtroom

A woman came clack-clackety-clacking down the corridor in very high heels.

I was drawn to turn and look at her, smiled when I met her eyes. She looked back, her expression half blank, half defiant.

Why draw attention to yourself if you don't intend to engage?

Maybe this is why I wear sneakers so often. So as to be inconspicuous should I so wish, to have the choice as to whom I smile at or not.

Though arguably she still has that choice, even in heels.

I could totally take her in a foot race however.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

27 June 2008

Frieda was just one. She and I had spent the afternoon at a friend's. I remember I'd had more than one gin and tonic. It was Friday and it felt that way.

We got home a little late for starting supper etc, and swooped straight through the house to the kitchen. I put Frieda in her high chair and started scrabbling for something to feed her.

The alarm had been on when we'd arrived, I'd disarmed it before we entered. The study door was closed but that didn't strike me as odd, we often closed it so Frieda wouldn't toddle in there unsupervised.

It was only when I tried to open the back door, and couldn't, that I realised the broom cupboard which stood just outside it was on its side. Then I saw all the broken glass and went cold.
Where they still here?

I grabbed Frieda and my phone and walked straight out of the house again. Stood in the bitter wind phoning my husband and the security company. I wrapped her close in my big jersey, my heart thudding through us both.

Turns out the burglar was long gone. He'd smashed the solid pane of the study window (having realised that the alarm worked with contact points on all the opening windows and doors), closed the door to the study and helped himself to everything in there - 2 laptops, a tablet, a bike jacket, a mobile phone, some cash etc.

A bloody fingerprint stained the strip plug he'd unplugged my laptop from.
I am so grateful I'd copied the photos of Frieda's 1st birthday to a flash drive to share with a friend.
He left a can of mace spray behind.
I'm so grateful we came home when we did.

He left some other fingerprints too. And the reason why I tell this story now is that tomorrow I go to court to bear witness against him. 5 years and another dozen charges later they've got him, and although I don't really see the worth of my testimony - I can't add anything to the original police report, I never saw him - I'll do what I can to help find him guilty.

We were 'lucky' to have only been burgled once in all the years we lived in Observatory. (Actually we were broken into twice but the other time the perp only got into our garden shed and took a dump - I was away working on a shoot so I guess that time just I was lucky!)

But I don't feel particularly lucky now as I have to leave home in the dark and rain tomorrow to spend the morning on a cold, hard bench in the unsavoury environment of the Cape High Court.
But Justice must be served right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


There's a gecko on the outside of the sliding door, half a mm to the right and he'd be in danger of being squished, but he's been hanging on there for days.
Dude's too cold to move.

Each time I open or close the door I hold my breath and watch him, willing him to stay put. I open that door more than one would think in this weather, as various pets decide they need to be out and then, jesus christ no, back in.
All day I open and close the door for temperamental cats with iffy bladders just as all night I lift and drop the edge of the duvet for them to come in and out.

You know it's winter and you're a sucker when you prise yourself away from the warm back of your husband to make space for a cold and elderly ginger cat to wedge herself between you. The warmest place in the house. There's 2 of them in our bed these nights.

The draft from the ill-fitting edge of that sliding door cuts through the room like a knife. I stand sofa cushions upright in front of the gap and wedge them there with a dining room chair.
I've masking taped the keyholes of the west-facing doors.

Today I watched coots tumble-weed down the lake in the face of a bitter gale force wind. The water has white-capped waves which lap up the lawn. Our jetty has detached and undulates in the foam, whole palm branches and swathes of litter caught up against it.

Winter was a long time coming this year but she's here now. Oh yes she is.

Monday, August 19, 2013

on aging

I saw a photo of myself recently - a side-on of me smiling - and the lines around my mouth seemed to meet the crinkly lines from my eyes, drawing a circle around my face akin to those inside a tree trunk. An age line to count my years by.

Maybe it's short sighted of me (I believe that comes with age as well), but it so doesn't really bother me.

I've never been a `lotions and potions' kind of girl. I've bought one tub of anti-aging cream in my life - a panicked response to the first smile lines which appeared around my thirtieth birthday. I use a face cream with a SPF factor every day, but only because my skin feels tight and uncomfortable without it, not for any real hope of slowing the aging process.

I had my first facial a few months back. It was lovely, I really enjoyed the deep cleaning aspect of it, but after that I got a little bored with the host of creams and powders and 'deep tissue massage' thingies the therapist started applying to my face. Lying there with my eyes closed I was reminded of the scene in Love Actually where Rowan Atkinson's character is extravagantly wrapping the adulterous gift purchased by Alan Rickman.
How many more layers was this woman going to add to my face? A sprinkling of fairy dust maybe? A scoop of lavender? A cinnamon stick inserted in my nose?
At the end of the session she told me I should use a face cream with a higher aqua content, and suggested some complicated and radically expensive options. `Like aqueous cream?' I asked. She blanched.

I just can't get excited about that stuff.

And it's not like I've got particularly good genes in this department. I have wrinkles. I have bags under my eyes. I still get acne for gods sake.
But yet I can't bring myself to spend money on products to make me look younger (maybe I'm counting on the acne to do that ha ha ha).
I might be kicking myself in a few years time, but I reckon I'll take my chances.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

lichen it a lot

Don't get me wrong, I may have taken a while to adjust, and I may still hanker after the drama of Obs occasionally, but I really, really love it here.

It's just a different kind of drama.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I've been a bit bolshie of late. Maybe it's a sign I'm approaching 40 (in a couple of years that is ...). I'm not taking shit, I'm not suffering fools and I kinda want things to run my way.

I'm not always this assertive, I've examined my conscious and I'm okay with having a period of self-ism - different to selfishness I think.

My yoga teacher tried to change the class times in a way which wouldn't suit me (and a lot of other participants turns out), but I was the one who got vocal in class and on email, until she changed the times back and asked in class, with a bit of an edge, if I was 'happy now?'
Yes thanks.

Socially I had a bit of a disagreement with someone I've known for years, there were others in the room who backed me so I'm confident I was in the right, but I was a little taken aback by my vehemence. I don't think I'll be seeing as much of him in the future.
That's okay.

At the supermarket the other day the cashier didn't ring through a bit of cheese, putting it straight into my shopping bag. I realised she wouldn't be held accountable for it and the only person who'd run a loss was (insert name of fat cat who owns supermarket chain to which I've paid thousands over the years), so I said nothing, paid for the rest of the items and left.
Don't mind if I do.

We no longer have a lift club to school and although there are other parents wanting to get involved with sharing the driving I've been hesitant about making an arrangement.
I don't feel like being dependent on someone else's time frame. Rushing to meet them or waiting when they're late. I quite feel like being late myself without having to apologise. Even it means more driving.
Am I mad?

It's a busy time. My days are full to the brim. I think my bolshie-ness comes from a place of wanting, needing, to make things as easy and pleasant for myself as possible (free cheese is pleasant right?). I don't want to do that to anyone else's detriment of course (he can afford to lose some cheese), but I'm prepared to get a little shirty to have things my way.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.

Monday, August 05, 2013

anniversary reaction

Apparently it's a real thing, unconscious feelings and memories which come floating up to the surface as the world turns round the sun and you approach the annual anniversary of some significant life event.

In a few weeks time it'll be a year since we moved from Observatory. One whole year.

It took me a long time, and a little (teeny weeny) bit of therapy to adjust to the change of moving. I'm a bit wussy like that.
And while my house definitely feels like my home, and our environs grow more familiar each day, my roots are still just laying on the surface of this end of town - happy, well hydrated, but not rooted, not yet.

I suddenly find myself missing having my brother and sister-in-law down the road terribly again. Missing the easy access to friends in the area. Missing the throb and life of that wild 'n murky part of town.

I find scribbles in diaries and in notes on my phone which I've made over the last year ...
'Obs vibrant and ugly, here beautiful but static.'
'Surprising people versus surprising environment.'
'15 yrs in Obs to turn into a Town Mouse, now not sure what kind of cheese I like at all.'

We spent a fair bit of time there this weekend. We saw dear ones, celebrated a birthday, witnessed the aftermath of a mugging, navigated the tiny streets, had some junkies asking for handouts, laughed and reminisced and admired the pinky evening light against proud Victorian eaves. I loved it.
But it no longer feels like mine.

I guess that's okay - normal, healthy, important.

But I miss my brother.

And I miss this kind of thing, we don't get this in our new part of town ...

Saturday, August 03, 2013

perfect Saturday

You'd think a Saturday couldn't be perfect when you have to wake with an alarm at 06h45. But it was.

I woke before anyone else in the house, and had only myself to fed and dress. A brief bit of excitement as I chased a nasty neighbourhood cat across the pre-dawn cool lawn - but that did nicely to wake me up proper and get some adrenalin flowing through sleep-deadened limbs.

I was on the road by 07h30, stopping for a coffee which I drunk, by myself, watching a red sun rise over Kalk Bay harbour.

Then on to Frieda's school were I did my duty for four hours, (wo)manning a stall at their annual Secondhand Sale. I made some friends, scored some cool stuff, earned brownie points as a school-committed parent and was just ... myself, you know?

Home to my sweetie-pies, for lunch and stories and a romp. Then a few happy hours meditatively weeding the lawn (who knew how zen that could be?) and planting up the beginning of my cacti collection (I'm all about cacti at the moment), largely by myself as the girls squealed and splashed on their slippy-slide (mid winter really sucks in Cape Town).

Then as they thawed in the bath (and husband spray-painted in the backyard, it's like that around here), I caught the second golden hour of the day by myself, out paddling - just me and my board and the birds and the setting sun.
I know, I know, no drainage - but how cute?
The perfect Saturday. Largely, even when surrounded by people, by myself.

Monday, July 29, 2013

my first matroyshkas

And a couple of other Milnerton Market finds yesterday.

Cacti make me happy. Does that make me a bit of a prick?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

a moderate lush

I know, I know, there's plenty of fun to be had without alcohol. But the fact remains there's plenty of fun to be had with it too.

In these fast paced days of child-rearing and minimal adult relaxation time, nothing changes gears faster than that first gulp of wine of the evening. Literally washing away the horror trauma craziness of the afternoon and making for a much nicer Mummy (and a much more animated reading of the bedtime story if I've succumbed to the call of the vine while they're still up).

At Frieda's 6th birthday party recently the first gin 'n tonics started flowing at 11 am, and the last guests left at 6 (it was supposed to a be a 2 h party). Related? I think so.

One of my favourite moments of the last month or so was barreling through the dark streets of the town I grew up in - an unofficial high school reunion - 3 of us crammed into the back seat of a friend's car singing (and I use the term loosely) along to Bohemian Rhapsody at the tops of our voices. For a moment I was 17.
Was alcohol involved? You betcha.

Nothing says Friday evening like a gin cocktail, or in summer a tall sweaty glass of beer.

But interestingly since I started this post yesterday evening (I had to break for wine) I've had a bit of a sobering experience.
The news that a South African filmmaker, a man much older than me, has won a prestigious local film award for his first feature film in 20 years. I've not seen the film, I'm not even sure I want to, but it was the news of this man's success which really moved me.

When I met Andrew Worsdale 13-odd years ago, he was such a sick alcoholic that people were telling me he wouldn't live for very much longer.
He'd fallen off the wagon repeatedly, looked like it had ridden over him a couple of times, lost his home, most of his possessions and almost all of his friends. He had one of those horrific chemical implants which was supposed to make drinking unbearable, but yet he drank.
My boss at the time was one of his last remaining friends, giving him small film review jobs and other bits and pieces to try and keep him going. Andrew would hang out in our offices occasionally, and I was horrified by how damaged he seemed.

How remarkable that he's made it back from that.

My taste for alcohol could never compare to that kind of disability. I can't imagine having to battle those demons or fight that kind of fight. I'm so proud of him.

But I'm very grateful to be able to use booze to my advantage every now and then!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Okay, so it's no secret (at least not here ha ha) where I stand on religion, but this sign outside a church in Cape Town caught my eye recently.

I like it.

I like it because it's subtle, inviting without any brimstone, and because it seems to acknowledge the real reason people should embrace religion - for comfort, fellowship, inclusion - not fear, guilt or from a sense of duty.

I may also like it because I like this church, it's probably the one I've been to most in my life (and that's not a whole lot). Christenings, Christmas carols, weddings and most recently, a funeral.

Comfort, fellowship, inclusion - some things I've never felt from religion, but yet will always be reminded of by this church building.

home hack: laundry room

I've confessed before how this house is obscenely big for just the 4 of us.

The previous owners had fitted out the top floor to be a separate-entrance flat for their son (and various tenants over the years), creating a 'kitchenette' from what used to be a second bathroom. A room with a gorgeous view (confession: most of the rooms here have them) and no real purpose for us.
For the last 10 months it's been a bit of a dump space, filled with boxes and 25l tins of paint and some overflow kitchen stuff which didn't fit in the cupboards downstairs.

Then winter came and I discovered that our outside washing line gets ZERO sun in the winter months. Time for a hack ...

Up went a retracting washing line in the spare, north-facing room upstairs (which also happens to be my dressing room - I'm just going to stop apologising for this shit ok?) - happy sunny washing with a view!

And a gorgeous place to hang out and, um ... hang out. AND how convenient to remove washing from line, fold, turn, and put away in cupboard? So convenient.

But ... I wasn't done. Now we were generating all our dirty laundry upstairs, hanging our wet laundry upstairs, storing our clean laundry upstairs ... what's missing?

Yup, we hauled the washing machine ... upstairs. And over a weekend recently I cleared out the 'kitchenette' and made a bona fide laundry room. Such as one may see on Pinterest but minus the twee posters and plus some pretty dodgy 'gold' tiles.
Which the washer and dryer share with the cats (a quiet, elevated place for their kibbles) and just a little bit of main kitchen overflow.
And did I mention the view?

Ah, it all makes a little home-makers heart very happy.

But the best thing?
'Muuuuuuuum, where are you?'
'I'm upstaaaaaairs doing the laundry. Be down in a minute.'

Did I mention my bed and my book are also upstairs?


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

home security

Of all the ways we're ripped off as South African middle-class citizens - insurance, bank charges and the like - home security is waaaay up there.

Private security companies take full advantage of the horrendous state of crime in our country and totally coin it. They hardly need to spend anything on marketing either, one only has to read the papers or go to a dinner party with friends to get enough motivation to spend heaps of cash on beams and bars and electric fencing.

My brother-in-law's house was recently burgled in the middle of the day. Their bars and security gates and Doberman posed no hindrance to the determined thieves, and without a house alarm to betray their presence the bastards clearly spent a long time picking and choosing their loot (the doggie was completely unscathed and untraumatised by the way, she probably welcomed the company and no doubt got a big juicy bone too!).

My mother-in-law, understandably rattled by her eldest son's loss, turned to her religion to make sense of it all, saying that it was only due to God's mercy that he and his wife weren't at home at the time. I don't usually credit that fictional being with having a hand in these things but I have to say if I did, in this case I'd say god was with the burglars, they should be on their knees in gratitude that my brother-in-law, a big angry man who carries a weapon, didn't come home to find them there.

Anyway the result is that even that big angry pistol-packing man is freaked out, and looking to improve his home security. Quotes he's currently receiving to install a home alarm system are in some cases in excess of R40 000.00. Forty thousand rand to sleep better at night. What the actual fuck?

Which brings me, finally, to the inspiration for this post. This crude sign I photographed outside a house this morning.

A desperate, innovative, much more affordable and extremely indicative of how we're all feeling, approach to the constant threat to our possessions and well-being.
How long until the unlucky testicles of those who don't heed this sign (or can't read) are displayed along this wall as a real warning ... ?

Monday, July 22, 2013

all or nothing

We were at a party on Saturday night. It was late and there were only 6 or 7 of us left. A man and a woman, who'd only just met as far as I could make out, sat to one side in their own conversation while the rest of us shrieked and bantered at the table.
If I recall it was this making us laugh - the inane hilarity of a personalised pre-recorded birthday salutation. It was late okay?

Then, in a sitcom-esque moment of pure comedy, as our laughter died down and a lull ensued, we all clearly heard our friend across the room, saying to his new friend: 'When you touch it do you feel something?'
My god we laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.

I still don't know what they were talking about, I know it wasn't as intriguing (or intimate) as it sounded, I know the timing was beautiful and I know my sides were still aching yesterday. Those laugh muscles got quite a work out, it was a great party.

But it made me think about this space of mine, which I miss, and why I don't just come back here with everything and nothing like I used to. Since I've been so absent here I increasingly feel the pressure to come back strong, to break the lull with something exceptionally well written, or hilariously funny.
I find myself thinking of things to write and then not doing so, because it's not 'good' enough.

Not good enough for my own personal blog at the end of the universe? If it's good enough for the inside of my head it should be good enough for here. Self-censoring my content here feels like censoring my thoughts and how crap is that?

Like a knife through the heart cake.

Made for our friend whose birthday we were celebrating on Saturday,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

other people's children

There is an astounding feeling of peace and restored equilibrium which descends over one when a person who has been, to whatever degree, tainting your days, exits your life.

Often, it is only once such a person leaves that one fully realises the impact they had on your general happiness, but in this case I was acutely aware day-to-day of how that happiness was being compromised, and it makes the peace on this side of the separation that much sweeter, that much ... happier.

Maybe a by-product of my years of working mostly from home, mostly with my children, but I count myself lucky that I've had relatively few opportunities to rue the presence of a particularly unpleasant person in my life (my own children don't count here).
I choose my friends well, I don't suffer fools, I don't compromise myself out of any sense of social obligation - those years of my life are over.
But all this makes me particularly annoyed when I do encounter an asshole, and find myself powerless to avoid them.

I'm not proud of myself that in this case the asshole was a child. But I'm also not afraid to say, with genuine sadness at the concept, that children can be assholes too.

Because of course it's never really their fault. Nature and nurture both play a roll and if you're conceived and raised by an asshole ... well then.

It wasn't made any easier by the fact that this kid was alarmingly smart, with a sense of humour which had me laughing despite myself, and a world view far beyond her years. Undoubtedly part of the problem.
And she was sweet, or she had real potential to be, but she was also mean, and cruel, and cuttingly shrewd.

I, we, just don't need that in our days. For a while, when I could envisage no way out of the situation which wouldn't cause major hurt and offence (discrediting, I'm not proud to admit, the amount of hurt and offence we were suffering from the association), I placated myself that is was better for my girls to learn how to manage an asshole in a controlled environment with their mother on by their side.

But actually no, there's time enough to encounter assholes. There's plenty of time before that to learn lessons in self-confidence, civility, self-worth and how to build boundaries before they need to put them into practice.

The kid is gone, it happened quite naturally and easily in the end, and our days are much pleasanter as a result.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

a birthday post, looking back, owing you an apology

It's my birthday tomorrow. I'M NOT FORTY YET!!

This is the most relevant thing.

I've been looking back at birthday posts, it's been fun.

In 2009 I had a list of birthday loveliness which made me feel warm and fuzzy reading it again. And sad that this year my Grandad won't be phoning me.

In 2010 I was a new second-time mum and still had time to list 35 things ... why don't I have that kind of time now??
Also I realised I still bake pretty much the same things for birthdays ... then:

And now (taken this afternoon): there was also gin again, but why wouldn't there be right?

And use the same crockery.

In 2011 I was pretty low-key but got unnecessarily shirty with someone in the comments. Silly me.

And last year we were too busy doing this to celebrate, blog or indeed even really notice my birthday.

I think I've another birthday contemplation type post brewing, or maybe not, but the thing which struck me while reading back in time was how many readers left really lovely comments, which I never responded to. I know my whole blogging philosophy here is to just write, without thinking about who's reading it and what they necessarily think about it, but it strikes me now as arrogant that I didn't even say thank you for lovely warm birthday messages, and only deigned to respond when someone irked me a bit.
I'm sure I've alienated readers over the years for doing that, and while I'm still blogging like nobodies reading, on a human level I think I've been a bit rude. I apologise.

See? Older and wiser.

Friday, May 17, 2013

lists of 5: 'cos no other number will do

My fancy Jo'burg manicure is starting to fade and chip, I could poetically say like my memories of the weekend but that wouldn't be true.
My memories are still clear and still fabulous.

My cat is asleep nestled into my neck like a newborn as I type this, making little huffs and snuffles as she cuddles in. Just like a baby.
My friend in Jo'burg will have a baby just like this (though hopefully less hairy) in a few short weeks and while I'm not envious in the slightest of the newborn part, I did get a taste again of that excitement of meeting someone new. Someone new but yet of you in the profoundest sense possible. There can't be anything else much in life which beats that.

My birthday cake is sinking slowly in the kitchen. It's one of a few birthday cakes I've planned actually, as I have more than one (though both little) celebratory events in the pipeline - both involving cake. I've been baking and prepping at a slow and steady pace all week and really enjoying it (I don't allow myself to bake often these days), but I do worry that instead of clever this will prove to have been not clever, and everything will be a little stale and naff.
The carrot cake will definitely, judging by it's current appearance, be a little sunken and naff. But I also trust, delicious.

My children are exposing me to people who are teaching me things about myself. Yes, my children are bringing people into my life. That alone is a strange thought. Stranger still is the notion that they are people through whom I'm being challenged. More on this soon I imagine.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. No, not really. Not really at all, I just think that's such a weird and nonsensically fabulous line. Which I'd never otherwise have a chance to use!

Friday, May 10, 2013

making tracks

I'm off to Joburg tomorrow to spend a few days with one of my best friends.

It's been too long, it'll be too short. And I couldn't be happier to be doing it.

Monday, April 22, 2013


The topography of Cape Town means that some suburbs - those closest to the mountains - are lush and tree'ed, green and shady. These are the wealthy ones.
The further from the mountain one gets the less shade there is, the less green, the less wealth.

It's not just in Cape Town that shade belongs to the wealthy though right?

Shade ... feels luxurious. It dapples, it hue's, it gives texture and depth and mysticism and richness to everything around it.
Driving from Hout Bay, over Constantia Neck and down through Bishop's Court to Tokai (all four amongst Cape Town's wealthiest suburbs) is to travel through an almost continuous canopy of different greens. It relaxes the eyes, and also the shoulders. It draws one out of the car, out of your thoughts, and sets your mind free to gambol in the lushness of it all.

Well it does me. I've a bit of a thing for leaves.

It was only as I left the canopy, drove out into the light, needed to find my sunglasses and crack the window for some air, that I contemplated green and its association with wealth.

Large sprinklers ticking across deep green lawns, the colour of money, the leafy suburbs, proud old oaks on the grounds of proud old schools, going green - and having the time and resources to do so, shady nooks, summer in the Hamptons ... rich, fertile, green.

On the subject, I'm starting to plan my first herb and veggie garden. The thought terrifies me, I'm not known for my green fingers, but I like the idea of growing to eat and I love the idea of popping out to pick something for dinner.
Apparently growing one's own veggies is like printing one's own money - let's see.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

holding the space

A new, hippie-ish, phrase I've heard a lot recently, bit it's growing on me.

I had an amazing yoga class last night. I suspect that listening to people go on and on about how much they love their sport must be up there with as boring as listening to their dreams, but nevertheless yoga last night was inspiring and therapeutic and cleansing and just ... amazing.

One thing I love about yoga is what a solitary pursuit it is. My teacher likes to say that no matter how large or small the class, it's just you and your mat, and what you make of it.
The space to think, or not to think, is limitless, and what I found myself thinking about as I sweated it out through the movements last night was another solitary space I've been occupying recently.

I bought myself a stand-up paddle board a couple of months back, to punt around the lake and work the core and have a water sport all of my own, and I love it. On Sunday I went out, exploring further from home than I've done before, and found myself alone. So rare.
Alone but for a million coots, a couple of hundred ducks, a handful of pelicans, jumping fish, sail boats in the distance, a lone canoeist arcing through the water in front of me. Glassy water and perfect sun on my shoulders. Alone and chanting, in my head, 'hold this space, hold this space, hold this space, hold this space because you know you'll need it.'
But I also needed to focus on cutting my paddle through the water, 'don't drop it, don't drop it, don't drop it', the growing ache in my shin muscles (yup, who knew one had shin muscles right?), looking out for patches of dense water weed, and as with most things the magic got lost a little in the detail.
I came home happy and tired, but wishing I could have crystallized the feeling, caught it in amber to hang round my heart.

And then during yoga last night I did. I revisited the water, and in complete clarity brought up all the things I'd  experienced on Sunday afternoon - the smell of the water, the sounds of the water birds, the wind whistling through my paddle, the impenetrable mass of the lake, the freedom and calm, completely without concerns about falling in.
While my body exerted itself in other ways my mind floated like a bubble over the surface of the water, I found the space was still there, and I held it.
I hold it still.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

lists of 5: 5 reasons I'm already feeling better.

- a big weep, a couple actually
- yoga this morning
- her 3 hour nap
- smoked salmon for dinner
and most preciously,
- so much warmth, love and support from friends far and near ... thank you.

These are the things which have me feeling better today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

dreaming as therapy

I probably shouldn't share this story. I already feel somewhat responsible for some of the readers of this blog's decision not to have children.
As I said recently on the other blog, blogging about parenting is a constant balance between trying not to gush too much, and not wanting to be an awfully moaning bore. Parenting does however seem to occupy one or the other of these extremes most of the time.

So I won't go into too much detail about how COMPLETELY FUCKING NUTS my just-turned 3 year old is driving me.
I'll just relate the dream I had two nights ago and let that speak for itself ...

I dreamed I was at some lovely day time event, sans kids, facing a massively indulgent buffet table, perusing the options.
I selected a thick slice of farm baked bread, spread lusciously with butter and my Mum's delicious apricot jam.

As I walked away from the table savouring this treat a scrawny teenage Goth girl approached me and whined, 'Aw, please can I have a bite?'
I wasn't thrilled but begrudgingly offered my slice to her, whereupon she started moaning, 'Why did you put jam on it? I hate jam? Scrape the jam off!'

In my dream I saw red. With the flat of my hand I ground the whole slice of bread, butter and jam hard into her whiny face, eventually causing her to topple over and when she was lying on the ground, I stood over her, placed my foot on her chest and, pushing down hard, shouted at her to SHUT UP and never, ever speak to me like that. EVER!

If there was ever any doubt that one's dreams tackle one's subconscious, lay those to rest. My dream blew off some of the steam which mounts within me every day during this incredibly challenging parenting stage we're in.
Sorry little Goth girl, but thanks for the release.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

a thimble

My heart felt like a thimble these last weeks. Filling so quickly with emotion that it brimmed over my eyelids and had me tearing up a couple of times a day, then leaving me so hollow that I felt as if I'd swallowed an echo.

It started with my reminiscences of Adam, and an email conversation I had with his brother which was so good, but so emotional.
Then a rape and murder which rocked the whole country, got so many stories circulating, so many emotions rising.
I heard of a child from my home town, 18 months old, drowned in his family pool.
A story of a childless woman weeping while watching her best friend breastfeed.
Bad news regarding my friend's continuing struggle with cancer.
1 Billion Rising, and the stories ... god, the stories of abuse.
And then Reeva Steenkamp ...

None of this pain really belonged directly to me but with my shallow heart of late I couldn't prevent taking it on, and spent days feeling exposed, hollow.

None of this pain has lessened in the slightest - so many are out there with their hearts completely drained, their wounds wide open to the salt raining down on them.

And here I am, after a good weekend of friends and family, food, sunshine, laughter, feeling much stronger.
Have I slapped another coat of tin on this heart of mine? Is life sometimes just too much, the only survival tactic we know to clad ourselves against the pain, make our hearts a little more impenetrable, albeit little heavier maybe, and then shoulder on?

We desensitise in order to carry on, but what future do we walk towards if our hearts are plugged against the  pain of others?
What point is there in feeling too much and what future is there in feeling too little?

I don't know, but I need to find a balance this week. I think, certainly in South Africa, we all need to.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


On Tuesday he would've been 37, but he never made it to 21.

A talented surfer, experienced water baby, inexplicably he drowned during a shallow dive on the Transkei Wild Coast a year or so after we all finished school.
He was there with friends who pulled him out the water and drove him over bumpy rural roads to the nearest settlement, but he'd gone in the water. Blacked out and slipped away.

We were all scattered around the world when we got the news, but his funeral was huge. And horrible. I've not seen so many men crying together before or since.

On Tuesday I went to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert with a dear friend from high school. It was incredible. The music I'd known would be good, but I'd not expected that pure, white hot energy.

I'd been thinking about Adam anyway, I always do on his birthday, and we spoke about him that evening, but during the concert he came to mind again. He'd had that energy - taut, electric, unstoppable we'd thought.

What do you do with a friend who died so long ago? I've no idea what he'd be like now, I can't look to my male friends of the same age and see him in them. Even by the time he died we'd lost a lot of contact, I didn't know what his life plans were.

In my mind he burns a bright 16 year old flame, hot energy, golden light, never still, fiercely bright. We talk about keeping the memory alive, but with him I've never had to try. Eternally young, he lives on and on for as long as those who knew him do.

I've thought about contacting his Mum, I imagine she'd be the most comforted for knowing this. Should I call her to say I remember his smell? Would she want to know I remember how his hair felt, the shape of his ears, how his mouth tasted?

One year, unbeknownst to me, he wrote all over my pencil case: 'Adam is King.' It would amuse him to know that every year, on 5 February, he is. Over and over again.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

a happy hour

Ha! I wrote almost this exact post four years ago!

This time I didn't feel the desire to cry, but my first yoga class in years felt damn, damn fine. This class won't be the workout I'd come to love and value with my previous teacher, but it was just as strong a reminder of why I love yoga and the s-t-r-e-e-e-e-e-e-t-c-h.

Add to that a beautiful 1930's designed wooden floored room with big sash windows open to the sounds and smell of the ocean, a somewhat dour but gentle and insightful Afrikaans instructor and a classmate who jingles ever so subtly with every position change, despite not wearing any visible bells, and what's not to love right?

Again I was thrilled to discover my body remembered what to do, and his only critique was that I leaned forward out of pose too often.
'Stop looking to the future while you're here,' he said, 'stay in the moment and forget whatever it is you need to do after class.'

I can dig that.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

facing the year

I discovered yesterday, to my horror, that Husband had switched off the beer fridge.

The last few bottles moved to the kitchen, and the camping fridge which has been stocked and running since early Dec stood, gaping open and humming no more, alone in a corner of the art room.

And while probably good for my figure, the sight of it was bad for my soul.

Summer holidays are over y'all.

I've heard sadder stories too, much sadder.

I've a friend whose husband is facing a massive, stressful project this year. She knows it'll absorb long hours and weekends and school holidays, they've had a lovely holiday the last few weeks but now, in a sense she feels that she and the kids are waving goodbye to him for the year.

Another friend feels the same. Just as they've had this wonderful reminder of why they started a family, of how good the 4 of them are together, she looks ahead and dreads the coming chaos of their working days - back to ships passing in the night she said.

It's no original thought, it's so much the modern dilemma - why do we work, what do we work for, how can this be the right way to do things? Oh, you hear the stories of the families who go it alone, the couples who work together to build a shared and companionable dream. But this can't be everyone's reality, most work for the man.
And the man only gives us a few weeks reprieve.

My hope is we can take the peace of this summer, the fun and the laughter, with us for as long as possible into the year. That we can reclaim it on weekends and the still long summer evenings we'll have for many months.
My hope is we can keep some beer cold in our everyday working fridge too.

Friday, January 18, 2013

ink free

For years I've been banging on about getting a tattoo. Like, literally, YEARS. But something's always held me back - excuses about cash and design and location and just ... ja, sometime soon ...

In February last year I had some money to spend and put it out there on Facebook whether I should finally get the tatt or buy some boots. Predictably ('cos my FB friends are a fun bunch) the ensuing arguments either way were pretty hilarious, culminating in my, egged on by Extranjera,  posting this little visual representation of my dilemma.

The design on the left obviously being my maybe tattoo - dolphins, stars, lightening bolts, skull with Hello Kitty bow. Full back I was thinking. What?
But of course, I did neither and spent the cash instead on ... god knows, something worthwhile I'm sure I hope.

I started getting a sneaking suspicion that actually, I didn't want a tattoo. And I actually really don't. I love them, on other people. I admire them often, on other people. I like to look at them on Pinterest and I love to judge them in public, but for me? Not so much.

Thank god I realised this before I got one. And thank GOD I'll never feel like these fools ...

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Last week I saw my friend for the first time since her diagnosis. It was a 'good' week, the week before her next bout of chemo, chemo she has once a month.

With a stylish scarf, pretty manicure and naughty twinkle in her eye she was so very much ... herself. Even while talking about the front lines of the oncology ward, the horrors of her treatment, the fears around her upcoming surgeries.
The whole of the next morning I asked myself why I was so surprised that she was still the friend I've always known. Had I expected her to become someone else? So bowed down by the tragedy which has befallen her that she undergone a personality shift?

I realised I had been seeing her as a victim, whereas she sees herself, of course, as a survivor, and that her best weapon is to be herself. To be clearer on that than ever before. To live as proud as possible to edge out death.

Yesterday I saw an old acquaintance who has, for now, beaten her cancer. She's fought back from Stage 3, wears the scars proudly, was the only adult frolicking in a pool of kiddies - when she got out she stood dripping on the side of the pool in front of a host of her fully-clothed peers without a hint of shyness.
'Fuck it,' she said, 'I nearly died, if I feel like swimming, I swim.'

And still I indulge myself in the grumps. What an asshole.