Sunday, June 29, 2014

bright star

The greatest poem ever known is one all poets have outgrown: 

The poetry, innate, untold, of being only four years old.

 - Christopher Morley (From "To a Child")

I'd always specialised in non-challenging relationships. Until this girl was born. 
I think she's here to teach me great lessons, she's taught me a few already. 
Namely, love conquers all. It really, really does.
Love you Stella.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


It happened, of course. Despite my totally logistical burnout post-conference, and the feeling that this was one of the most slap-dash birthday parties we've ever produced, Frieda turned 7 and we had a wonderful time celebrating her.

7 is HUGE. And totally magnificent. I wrote this laaaast May, just before she turned 6, and with a couple of tweaks every word stands true. This kid is delicious.

In her Cleopatra costume we threw together literally 15 minutes before everyone was due to arrive.

The Wild Boar cake for which her father must take all the credit (although I'm the one who insisted on pinata-ing it with Smarties).

Her lovely sister who led the rousing rendition of Happy Birthday ... her sweet friends who spoiled her so generously ... MY sweet friends who came and assisted in trampoline-building and cocktail-mixing and generally made us feel loved and supported.

Birthdays are the BEST.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

living the high life

It has to be said that spending 3 nights in a totally luxurious hotel last week did make running a conference that much easier ...

Having a quiet space to escape to for a short nap between the day and evening programmes, a big deep bath with lots of smellies on tap to unwind in at the end of the day, a Nespresso machine with endless pods, the vast and varied breakfast buffet ... not to mention having heating on 3 of the frostiest nights Cape Town has seen this winter ... no one believes me that it was really hard work too!

It was hard work, but affirming - I'm even better at this major logistical stuff than I used to be, it's great to function in an adult realm - although they can be as ridiculous as children really, and it feels so good to be supporting people doing good work.
This conference was for an international donor organisation, and to be told that they had a more successful and productive time for not having to worry about any of the logistics made me feel like I'd contributed in some small measure to the benefits all their grantees will feel on the ground.

It also made me feel conflicted about the amount spent on the conference though. I get that these people (most of whom traveled here on grueling schedules) needed to be comfortable and warm and well fed in order to make provisions to help those that most certainly aren't, but showee, this comfortable? This is not a new issue, we all know the stories about international funders driving lux cars etc etc ... and I won't criticise this particular organisation - not because they were employing me but because they really do amazing work around the world - but I still can't reconcile my head and my heart on this one.

I guess you can't always let the details get in the way of the bigger picture, and I certainly appreciated my own little taste of those luxurious details - I've been back 6 days but it still feels wrong to have to peel my own fruit ...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

hot, okay ... warm, mama

The weather's been atrocious this last week or so. Real big winter storms with gale-force winds and rain squalls and ... hail!

It's impossible to relish winter in South Africa. Impossible for me anyway. All those 'winter delights' like open fires and red wine and hot chocolate and soup are tainted with thoughts of flooded shacks and cold children and desperate people.

I'm not a winter fan, I feel a growing dread as the nights draw in, but I can only imagine the fear of facing these harsh conditions completely exposed.

'The children, the children' someone tweeted this week, in a conversation about the weather and the homeless. But to be honest it's not the children who first break my heart.
It's the thought of the mothers, and their anguish at not being able to keep their kids warm and dry. I can't even go there, the guilt and pain and FURY of being unable to mother, due to circumstances so out of one's own control.

I met a young American girl this week, but from her name I could tell there was a connection to Africa. She said something about 'not having been back very often' and I asked her where she was originally from.
'Rwanda,' she said, 'we left when I was five.'
'1994?' I asked, and she nodded.
Instantly my eyeballs prickled, not at the thought of a five year old girl dislocated from her home, but at the thought of her mother, fleeing to save her children's lives.

Having my own children hasn't really made me feel differently about children, but becoming a mother has certainly made me feel for mothers, all mothers, the world over. And weeks like this make me realise anew that I have it so easy.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Sunday evening

Friday was manic. And the next two (three!) weeks will be manic too. My first delegates land in Cape Town on Wednesday and the last leave on the 15th.

But at 6 pm on Friday I turned off my computer and vowed not to turn it on again until this evening, thinking I'd now do some prep to ease the manic-ness that will be Monday.
Instead I spent the weekend Doing Other Things.

I hung out with my girls. Bought new bed linen for the them and towels for the whole family. Saw friends. Had the time and attention to get in tune with the puppy's digestive system and managed to have a nearly accident-free few days. Did laundry. Did party invites (and did them again when I picked up a glaring spelling mistake). Put a lot of thought and a bit of prep into my next collage project. Took some photos.

At the beginning of the year I vowed to take more pictures of texture and shadow this year. Then I sat on my camera (during a child-related drama I might add ... ).
The camera still works with a bulky elastic band wrapped around it, but more often than not I use my phone. Not ideal, but not too bad.

This afternoon, on my stoep ....

The sun came out after a very stormy weekend, and my latest aloe flower obliged with a most fetching shadow.

Which reminded me of these, taken a week or so ago ...

Late in the afternoon my winteryfied rose trellis cast a double shadow, one from the sun and one from the reflected light off the water.
There's something Japanesey about them I think.

Turns out I didn't do any work this evening. It all awaits for tomorrow. But I'm calm and energised and I think that's the most important thing for a Sunday evening right?

hello June

The next two weeks will be madness. But then there'll be this.

I can't wait.