Monday, March 31, 2014

learning to fly

As I suspected, life since I got mobile again has been somewhat hectic ... after such a slow start to the year (a mid-life pause I'm appreciating more and more as it recedes, the benefits of that time and space becoming more evident as I reflect on it) 2014 seems destined to be crazy busy - all in a good, fun, productive way.

After my Saturday at the music festival (which followed a busy, busy week [which included a wild night out]), my Mum sent me a text saying 'Work hard, play hard' and yeah, that's definitely shaping up to be the theme for the year.

I've had moments in the last few years of child-rearing and house-keeping and part-time working when I've marveled that anyone manages to do all this while working full-time.
Where's the balance in that I've wondered, while often feeling so unbalanced myself.

But I've realised of late, that to achieve a semblance of balance one needs weights on either side of the scale. And the more equal the weight the more naturally one will find the equilibrium.

In the next few months I'll be employed by 4 different clients, I worked out that across these contracts I'll be needing to do 34 hours work a week.
I currently have 17 hours of childcare (school).
So as of next week I've employed an au pair (sounds posh hey?) for 3 afternoons a week. She'll fetch the girls from school, feed them, drive them to swimming, take them to the beach on nice days, read to them, play, hang out.
All this just until mid-June when the two big contracts end. We'll see what happens next.

I'm excited. I'm inspired and I'm hopeful. These are good feelings.

I think maybe that down-time in January and Feb was what I needed to re-calibrate myself. Reset to zero and then find the balance.
I feel like that is what I'm doing, for the first time in years.

But first: a week's holiday.

Tomorrow the girls and I set off for a few days out of Cape Town with friends. A road trip and a change of scenery.
A little bonding time before we find a new rhythm next term, another little re-calibration before we spread our wings.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

laughing ladies

These pictures make me SO happy.

Two of my best friends, originally from totally different parts of my life, having an enormous, side-splitting, possibly panty-wetting, totally free and enviable laugh together.

We spent Saturday at an outdoor music festival, celebrating a 40th birthday, having a day out with no kids, being free 'n easy.
One friend did something funny, the other one caught her at it, and while they laughed and laughed I snapped away ... loving them both for their joy and uninhibited mirth.

To laugh is to live, I'm so grateful to be surrounded by people who remind me of that all the time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

the illustrated man

I sneaked a photo ...

See what I mean about him being a walking collage himself?

And look how neatly he works! Admittedly I think this was when we were packing up towards the end of class but still ... his work was pretty methodical and controlled throughout, and see how he's dabbing up excess glue with a blotter sheet?
Just across the table my workspace was a hot sticky mess half buried in a cloud of torn and furled paper.

It's not just because he's Brazilian, with a welcoming smile and impossible white teeth, not just because he's a practicing psychologist and a surfer.
It is mostly because he's also an established collage artist with exhibitions in Rio and Venice Beach, and a piece in a fancy gallery in Sydney, that when I bumped into him in the supermarket this afternoon it meant so much when he said, with that ridiculously cute smile, 'I really like your work, you have great style.'

Thank you interesting man I don't think I'll ever meet again, I needed that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

self like

I like this photo of myself.

Yeah, I'm a little red and blurry - it's a phone pic and it was mid-way through a particularly raucous girls night - but I rarely like photos of myself and this one works for me.

I'm wearing one of my favourite autumn/winter dresses (its first outing this season).
I'm drinking a strawberry frozen margarita.
I'm in the company of a very funny bunch of ladies.
I'm looking very naughty.
And when I look at this pic, I remember what I was thinking.
It was very naughty indeed.

Good times.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


This collage thing is addictive.

I started this piece in class last week, brought it home and on Saturday, in a few hours, ripped everything I'd done apart and started again. And practically finished it.

I'm sure - positive - that spending more time over it would have resulted in a better piece. The problem of how to blend the hill the Landy's driving over with the rest of the landscape for example, I'm sure a solution would have come to me had I stepped back for a bit and come to it with a fresh outlook. But I couldn't.
I had to carry on.

I'm quite pleased with my sky though. I loved using tissue paper for texture and fluffiness. I know the fall of the light in the whole piece doesn't always carry through - light and shadow are two elements I still find really intimidating.

I really enjoyed combining collage with montage too. It was fun finding textures and pictures to mix up in interesting ways.

I'm looking forward to getting a critical appraisal in class this week. And some ideas on how to meld it all together better.
This will be my last class for the month (boo hoo), but I hope to do more lessons this year, once the looming craziness abates.

You know that work I was moaning about? The hurry-up-and-wait contracts? They've both sprung to life, it's going to be one hell of a week!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

paul auster day

I spent yesterday in bed with some weird lurgy. Possibly explains the grumpiness on Wednesday...

It was a public holiday so Husband was home, lucky him, and I could just rot quietly upstairs ... with Paul.

Sunset Park, not one I'd read before, and not going to be my new favourite (Oracle Night will be a tough one to oust), but god it was a treat to spend a day in his head, in a world of his creation.

Always, always, while reading Paul Auster I want to write while I'm reading. Makes no sense right? I don't want to copy his content at all, but the way he writes is so very inspiring that my fingertips tingle ... and then stop as soon as I put him down.
Second best would be to read him with a notebook on my knee, and jot down the thoughts that flow. But I'm too immersed, loving it too much, to step outside of the book even for a moment.

So it was a blessing really to be able to read this novel in one sitting lying. And I did!

I must get started on my 2014 book list ... more noise!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Things irritating the pants off of me right now:

- decorum - like, having to wear pants
- endlessly debating the state of education, and how it's apparently killing our kids creativity
- recycling, and the accompanying guilt of binning a plastic tub of mouldy hummus rather than scooping it out and washing it for the green bag
- anti-vaxxers, obviously
- having to re-examine every word in every conversation for fear of insulting somebody
- doing the 'right thing'
- not always being able to say fuck out loud.

Being PC and middle-class can be fucking boring.

Oh, and did I mention 'hurry up and wait' work contracts in which everything was sooooo pressing and urgent last week, but this week ... dead air.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

doctor stella

For the 3 of you who aren't facebook friends ...

Outfit made by the super fun Lula by Emma, and gifted by the girls' beloved Auntie B (who's rapidly becoming dress-up-giver extraordinaire).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

toes in heaven

Aside from Frieda nearly biting off her tongue while doing a gutsy jump off a high wall (true story - very gross, lots of parental props for not fainting and one very sore, very brave little girl), our annual family retreat was totally wonderful.

Yup, I'm still wearing my stupid and badly-named 'speed brace' - the ankle is vastly improved but not fully-functional - but this weekend I wore it in a beautiful place, surrounded by very lovely people.

My family are the best. For me. And that's the most important thing right?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


One thing I'm learning about myself is how I like to make a grand sweeping statement (e.g 'next week I'll be doing something else other than the fish'), and then renege on it.

I spent all of my second collage class obsessively finishing my fish, and loving it. 
I'm not entirely happy with the tail, but I couldn't keep tinkering with it any longer, and think you get a sense of movement? I love the giant eyeball and the pink punk fin, my fish is a bit of a badass.
I also love that the fin, and the darker red and black curve under it, is Gwen Stefani's ass from Vogue magazine. Ha ha ha. 
Incidentally, fashion magazines have the best colours.

There was a Brazilian guy in class this time, a guy so tattooed it was difficult to focus on his true outline. He kind of blurred with his surroundings, a bit of a collage himself. I'm hoping next week to be able to say this to him, and maybe get a photo.
He is a montage artist, and looking at pictures of his previous work I realised that that is really what I'm more into. Intricately cutting out images and sticking them together in different ways.
The project I'm planning for next week is a bit of a combo of both ...

Loving this class!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

why can't we all just get along?

In the light of the atrocities happening in Uganda, and the recent distressing news from Arizona, picking up this in the waiting room at my GP's office was a real shocker.

What the actual fuck fuckitty fuck?

I calmly read it, photographed it, and folded it up under my arm when I went in to see the doctor. I asked her about it before we went any further with the consultation, it being a bit of a deal-breaker in the continuance of our until now valued doctor-patient relationship.
Thankfully she was as horrified as I, and clearly from her reaction already suspected which staff member was responsible for disseminating this filth.
Really left me with a horrid taste in my mouth (and not just from the antibiotics either).

On Monday I took the girls out for fish and chips and were seated behind a table of men, all speaking Afrikaans.
The girls don't provide much in the way of stimulating conversation while shoveling hot chips, so naturally I eavesdropped.
Turns out this bunch of friends were counselling one of their group as he prepared to come out to his family.

It was a wonderful conversation to listen in on. The young guy's angst was real, and that was sad, but his friends were amazing, offering such insightful and affectionate advice - telling bits of their own coming out stories and really working to help him overcome his fears.
There was some joking too, and teasing about the kind of questions he needed to prepare himself for:
'Who's the man and who's the wife?'
'When did you know?'
'Have you ever slept with a woman?'
The group all laughed wryly at these, and made comments on how straight people just don't get it do they?

We're all so different, negotiating our way through this crazy world. But we're all so similar too, we all just want to be happy, and accepted. Even poor old 'Janet' in the article above.
And we all need friends to help navigate our way along this journey.

I left feeling so happy that this guy had such good friends, whatever the reaction from his family will be, and saddened that 'Janet' has clearly distanced herself from hers, and maybe her chance to really be happy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I did a software upgrade on my phone recently. It's been really slow since then.
'Have you done a factory reset?' asks Husband.
'No, of course not.'
'You got to back everything up first.'
'With Kies.'
'The Kies that keeps crashing my laptop?'
'Reinstall it.'
'So, uninstall it and then reinstall it on the laptop that keeps crashing?'
'Well, move to the PC I built you.'
'But before I do that I have to back up right?'
'Yeah ... well start with your phone and then everything else.'

Everything else.

I'm really too young to be a tech-philistine. I can't let it start intimidating me yet. I don't want to be that person. But jesus I'm tired of having to learn to do a new thing when I just want to draw a line under an old thing and get on with living my life.

The To Do pile wrt to Things To Back Up and Move and Save for Eternity just joins the list of all the other things that need Sorting Out.
Like my desk.
And the art room.
And the piles of junk I stashed in various cupboards before the birthday party on Saturday.
And the photos, don't get me started on the photos.
And the girl's closets.
And the toy room.
And the at least 5 projects I've got on the go.
And the upcoming contract I'm starting soon.
I could go on but really it's too boring.

Sorting out and backing up and clearing the decks is not how I want to live my life. Not. At. All.
All this stuff makes so much noise.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

the 4th!

We had Stella's 4th birthday party here at home yesterday afternoon. It was spectacularly good fun.

So grateful for family and friends and food and love and laughter and beauty.

Friday, March 07, 2014

sticky fish

There is a fish (in fact two fish) in that bowl, they're just camera shy.

At this first class we all had to sketch the fish, collage the fish. Instantly I was put off. I didn't want to be told what to create, that's not what I'd signed up for. But quickly it became clear that this was the fastest method to teach us the myriad of ways in which collage can be approached, and not having to spend too much time on conceptualising meant we all got right down to tearing and cutting and sticking. Oh the joy!

Apparently many people stick with their fish. Refining and building on this one piece throughout the month of classes. I'm nearly done mine, and thinking ahead to what I'll do next week.
I'm not sure what this says about me, or my method. I know that I need to start in order to get the inspiration flowing, and maybe because I was SO READY for this is was easy to throw myself in. I've also confirmed I'm not that into the torn paper look - I'm more of a scissor sister really.

I was amused by some of the questions the others asked though. Am I allowed to do such and such, or is it okay if I change the colours? The thought of asking permission to be creative never crossed my mind, and when I intricately cut out a long green water plant instead of collaging it in, the woman next to me said, 'That's a good cheat' and I laughed, you can't 'cheat' at art. Can you?

This is as much fun as I thought it would be. Roll on next week!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

more about Adam

Last year I wrote a post about my friend from high school who died tragically aged 17. Lynne begged me to send a copy to his Mum, and with every intention of doing so I tracked down his brother and had a tear-speckled email conversation with him.
I got his Mum's address, but I kind of lost my nerve (why? what was I nervous about?), and a full year passed until I finally wrote to her, a few weeks ago.

I received her response today.

It's a weird feeling, knowing that my letter and the blog post I printed and sent with it, made her so happy and so sad.
I feel conflicted, with happiness - satisfaction that I could express how I felt about him so well (she refers to the post as 'an eternal love letter to my beautiful son') and that my letter was 'so very welcome' to her  - but also really humbled and unworthy to have intersected with her immeasurable grief. I think this is what held me back from writing to her for so long, I didn't feel ... entitled in some way ... to tell her anything about missing Adam. She owns the rights to that loss solely and completely.

But of course that was naive. And more than needing to hear that other people miss him, she needs to hear that others remember him, that he lives on in other hearts too.

She told me that after the first few awful years, she'd found a way that was 'manageable' to keep on going, but that just recently it has been very difficult again.
Maybe, as with all things, there was a reason I sent my letter to her now, not a year ago.

I found this in the high school diary I was reading through on the weekend. No Adam, you're my dreamboy.
For ever and ever.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

the american job

Talk about hit the ground running.

After my weeks of idle layabout (doctor's orders you know), I embarked on a feverish 10 day job for some Americans.
Some Americans who work in the Communications Dept of a huge international firm.

Some Americans who work in the Communications Dept of a huge international firm and SUCK at communicating.
Add to that a 7 hour time difference, a complete lack of detailed brief, a complete lack of bigger picture perception and some pretty condescending ideas of how things work in Africa and what do you have?

A very stupid, stupid job. Which paid dollars. And is now over so ja ... I shouldn't really complain.

Debrief done. Over and out.

catch some poop Lady Liberty

Monday, March 03, 2014

50 things about right now

1. We sold my car on Saturday. I'd had it since 2006.
2. It felt like the last vestige of my pre-kids life driving away.
3. Stella's favourite word(s) are 'spic and span'.
4. Frieda's favourite word is 'lunch'. Say them out loud, they're awesome.
5. My favourite word is any one which is not directed at me.
6. This week I see a biokineticist.
7. I'm still not sure how they differ from a physiotherapist.
8. This week we see Stella's ENT. Again.
9. I will be fucking annoyed if we're going back for more grommets.
10. Someone suggested sacro cranial massage instead. Is that really a thing?
11. This week I start my collage class. Have I mentioned I'm excited?
12. This week is going to be super busy.
13. We're hosting a mermaid pirate birthday party on Saturday.
14. The lounge is half-painted.
15. I need to 1) bake 24 cupcakes (done!),
16. 2) bake 16 mini-cupcakes (fuckit, I'm buying un-iced ones),
17. 3) make icing in 3 different colours. This is all just for the cake.
18. The cake is going to be goddamn beautiful.
19. The girls and I made octo-pops (pics to follow) (not cake pops)
20. Stella didn't feel the 'tentacles' (her word) were anatomically correct.
21. We're reading On the Banks of Plum Creek.
22. We're reading Pegasus.
23. Frieda's reading flash cards. Frieda's reading.
24. We got the pedalo back in the water (husband's been repairing it) and he and Frieda took it for a spin.
25. He happily reports her legs have grown enough to significantly help with pedaling.
26. A dehydrated duckling quietly died in front of us on Friday. There's been lots of talk of death.
27. I'm having a bit of a 'approaching 40 and facing the limitations of my body' moment. Despite 40 still being 14 months away.
28. I'm tired of it not working properly though. My body that is.
29. The battery on my mobile is stuffed. I'm ignoring it.
30. And on the subject, our ginger cat is getting on and I'm nervous about how she'll handle winter.
31. Winter is coming.
32. Luckily so is series 4.
33. Husband is going to make scones for the parents on Saturday. He's a keeper.
34. I'm wondering if I can be arsed to make pirate flags ... if I do they'll be black skulls on white backgrounds 'cos that's all the fabric I have. Is that acceptable? Aha! Friends arrived with their kid draped in one, he very kindly let us borrow it for the weekend.
35. How many parents will come, and stay, on Saturday?
36. How far in advance can one make jelly?
37. I want to start working raised beds this autumn to plant veggies for spring.
38. Must do some research ...
39. I don't often indulge parenting-related guilt, but after many weeks of being disconnected (my ankle injury and then working so hard the last two), I feel I need to put some thought and planning in to what we'll do with our time together (the girls and I) this year.
40. Spending time with them is so good.
41. Their relationship with each other fascinates me.
42. Frieda has way more patience with her sister than I do.
43. The best thing about prepping for a party is clearing out all the junk in the house.
44. We took a full load to the dump on the weekend.
45. Why are we such hoarders?
46. Is there anything better than finding the perfect use for something you've been hoarding?
47. I really should be coating marshmallows in chocolate.
48. Or figuring out whether it's best to receive $$ straight into my bank account or through PayPal.
49. I should write about the American Job, for therapy as much as anything else.
50. Instead I'm hanging strings of stars arbitrarily around the house.

My little star turns 4 this month!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

preaching to the choir

This evening I had the thought I should possibly work on being less sarcastic.

I love sarcasm. It's hilarious and succinct - reams can be conveyed in the simple lift of an eyebrow.

But it's a cheap trick, and I do believe one needs to master a whole lot more nuance about human behaviour before you should wield it about.

Ergo, maybe I should be less sarcastic around (and, I meekly confess, to), my children. Frieda's grasp of the tone is shockingly advanced for her age, and she's been known to think I'm being sarcastic even when I'd no intention of sounding so.
Not cool.

But my second thought was this: each post I publish here gets minimum 35 readers. I think I know most of you.

So this place, where I used to freely address strangers, my 'blog like nobody's reading', is in fact these days like talking to my nearests and dearests.

And you all know I'll never kick sarcasm.

Maybe I should just work on my delivery instead.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

notes from 1993

It seems a theme is developing. Building on my ample time to resurrect old memories while crippled earlier this year, yesterday I opened an old memory box and pulled out a bunch of diaries from the 90's.

At first I thought my weekend would be consumed by them, but after randomly picking up a 1993 edition and immersing myself in my 18th year, I think I'll work through them more slowly.
So much to remember, so much to learn.

21 years later, that Molly, the 1993 version, has shown me ...

That she would be so, so happy to know that she is now married to Charl. That they have two little girls and a wonderful life.
In 1993 I'm still counting down our anniversaries in months, and my weeks hinge around seeing him again.

That I have always been creative.
I know that obviously. I have my means of expression (birthday cakes being right up there), but I've also always had friends who create for a living - beautiful handmade things - and I suspect that has prevented me from taking myself seriously, or made me vaguely apologetic for the very homemade nature of my handwork.

That I spent very few weekends and holidays at home. As an adult daughter, and a parent, this sobers me, but I have also been reminded about so many good times with wonderful friends ... foundation-building times, for friendships and myself.

If I'm bored I don't make the effort. I've often regarded this as a character flaw but you know what, I've always been like this. My school results from first quarter 1993 will confirm - winging it in English and History, barely scraping through the rest.
Life's too short you know?

I'm always telling a story. There's a narrative, a bunch of sub plots, character definitions, scenery, atmosphere to every experience I have. I'm telling myself as it happens and I rewrite and hone in my subconscious for long while after.
So why the fuck aren't I writing this stuff down?
There are clippings for writing competitions stuck all over 1993, I don't recall entering anything to any of them. Have I been carrying the same writer's block for 21 years? No wonder my fucking ankles are going.

That I was happy. As grown as I felt, I can see now that despite being 18, and world wise and clubbing and going on road trips and wearing big girl pants, I was still at school, living with my parents. From 2014 I still look very much like a child.

But I was strong, and confident and adventurous too, and this pleases me. My god, 18 was fun.