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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

the grumps

Today, I had them.

Two nights of bad sleep - last night a particularly spectacular mash-up of bad back, throbbing spot, annoying cat, restless children, snoring husband - a bit (okay, a lot) of 'back-to-school' misery, and apprehension, a whole lot of 'whatamIgoingtobewhenIgrowup' angst. The perfect blend of ingredients to produce an exquisite case of the GRUMPS this morning.

Those grumps you can't get out of because frankly, you don't want to. Those grumps you almost become protective about. These are MY grumps and it feels like they're the only thing I've got going for me right now so just LEAVE ME ALONE WITH ME AND MY GRUMPS M'KAY?

But of course they don't. Kids I mean. Kids only understand their own grumps, they've fuckall respect for anyone else's.
Slitty eyes.

Mid morning I packed my eldest and my GRUMPS into the car to head off to a 5 yr old's birthday party. RAD venue for the grumps indeed. I was NOT GOING TO HAVE FUN and the only thing keeping me from dropping and fleeing was that it was a swimming party and as Frieda's not an entirely proficient swimmer yet I thought I'd better stick around and be watchful. Oh, and grumpy of course. Couldn't leave the grumps in the car by themselves now could I?

But turns out I may as well have. 

Because instantly I was welcomed by lovely, stoic, inspiring, refreshing and caring Other Mums. Women who all may have had some grumps concealed in their handbags too, but weren't going to waste fun social time (precious social time as all our smalls were occupied in the pool) with indulging them.
We laughed and drank beer and compared tans and shared and wiped cake off each other's dresses and just ... made light of it all.

Never, ever underestimate the power of girl friends. I love learning this lesson over and over and over again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

so they say

There's a storm raging outside. Quite a serious one for the middle of summer and all that. High winds, driving rain, choppy waters. I've moved my laptop to the dining room table so I can watch the drama before it gets too dark.

And to keep an eye on the duck family seeking shelter on the bank opposite. Mama duck and 8 ducklings - 5 yellow and 2 speckled. Wait, that makes 7 right? (Post on atrocious mathematical ability to follow ...) I've been watching them for quite a while, struggling to get up out of the water.
Mama went up first, then helpfully stood on the side quacking loudly while her babies bobbed and beeped in the rough waters below. The two tawny ones got up next, seemingly with no trouble, but the yellow guys milled around pitifully for ages, a yellow blob of fluff adrift in the storm, one enterprising fellow from the back trying to get on top, his plan no doubt to use his siblings as a raft.

Eventually one duckling got a foothold and, spurred on by his Mum, tracked a route up through the grasses and on to dry(er) land. His sibs immediately followed suit.

There was still much chatter and milling around as they all got organised - teeth brushed, dry jammies, that sort of thing I imagine, and now all I can see in the growing gloom is Mama's white head as they hunker down together in a dip out of the worst of the rain.

They say (and Rosemary Clooney says it best), it's lovely weather for ducks, but frankly I think it's far better weather to be inside, smelling supper in the oven and anticipating watching Skyfall later.

Sorry ducks!

Monday, January 07, 2013

turns out there doesn't always need to be smoke

I revealed the spoiler to this story on facebook and twitter, but I kind of couldn't help myself.

I'd been smelling smoke for at least an hour. First, from the water where I was fooling about with the girls and a borrowed windsurfer board.
'I'm sure I smell burning.' I called to husband, standing on the lawn. We both scanned the mountains and he climbed the external staircase to get a better vantage.

Later I smelt it again, and again looked around for that telltale yellowish stain in the sky. The Cape is full of fire this time of year.

After a bit I overheard Frieda talking to someone coming past on the water, she does this quite often and I felt momentarily annoyed to hear her say 'What?' - we've been working hard on the preferable 'Excuse me?', or her inexplicable favourite, 'Could you repeat that?'.
But then she was calling me in alarm, her tone much more serious and her words much more worrying: 'Mum, that lady says our jetty's on fire. And it is!'

And it was. Our semi-collapsing jetty, just a simple thing constructed from some ex-railway timbers, was ON FIRE.

I called to husband in the garage and briefly enjoyed his look of utter incomprehension before grabbing a big cooking pot and bolting down to the water. A few good soakings, quite a few I might add, and it was out. The day saved and the integrity of the poor deck even more compromised than before.

'Where there's smoke there's fire' is a phrase often used to explain a situation, to lend credibility to a suspicion or prove it not to be unfounded. In this case there was a fire, for a long time with no smoke, and any suspicions we may have as to its source are pure speculation.
Wind-borne cigarette butt? Careless passing smoking canoeist? And the more likely, but still weird, theory that a bit of glass, embedded in the wood, baked in the sun and sparked a flame?

Weird. Weird. Weird. And thank goodness we were home.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

5 things

marveling ~ in awe as our black cat inks so silently down the stairs, how does she do that?

smelling ~ (in my memory, my mind's nose?) over-ripe summer fruit as we whipped past the (empty) fruit stall on the motorbike just after dark yesterday

seeing ~ with love, how my man's brow has unfurrowed after two weeks of summer holidays

feeling ~  apprehensive about both girls starting new schools soon, yet knowing they handle these things so much better than I

hearing ~  their giggles as they get their bedtime story upstairs, the grebes still clucking on the lake, the rhythmic sloosh of a boat passing, the last few hours of this special holiday time ticking, very slowly, by.