Monday, August 31, 2015


Frieda stayed in her pyjamas all day Saturday. A couple of times we suggested she get dressed but she wasn't having it.
Pyjamas. Roald Dahl on audio. Colouring books. Toast. It was that day for her and I get it, I really do.

I decided recently on a title for my autobiography. You know, the one I'm continually living, I mean writing in my head.
'Pyjamas 'til Noon'
Sounds enthralling doesn't it. A MUST READ.

Also on the action-packed weekend line-up:

~ winter walks.

(you know, they speak of spring but where they get this thing I do not know because it has not sprung and winter's icy song is not yet sung)

~ 6 hour slow-roasted lamb.

~ hertzoggies.

Future title for autobiography, part 2: 'Baking 4 Eva' (gang sign with pudgy fingers)

Fuck you Monday.

Friday, August 28, 2015

love has no labels

This kid has issues.

(So has my 1970's kitchen but let's just look past that for now - we've managed to for 3 years ...)

My small girl, who has spent much of her short life rejecting labels - she's a boygirl then a girlboy then a boyboy then a 'girliegirltoday' - also has a problem with the physical kind. This girl hates a label.

Too scratchy, too silky, too big, too small - ALL LABELS MUST GO.

To get her to try a thing on while keeping labels intact in case of a size change is a negotiation. I generally cut swing tags off regardless as most stores will accept returns without them attached, but actual care and brand labels have to stay on 'til we're sure we're keeping things, and that's never easy.

Pajamas her sister happily wore for years come out of the hand-me-down suitcase and must instantly be purged of all labels, hang tags, loose threads etc before worn.

Shoes must be practically turned inside out for that one sneaky 'made in sweatshop' tag which might be lurking in the instep.

A beanie with a cool surf badge must be unpicked and exorcised of any branding before worn.

I was casually telling some friends about this recently when one of them asked if I was taking her to occupational therapy for the issue.

OT? The issue? No I most certainly am not, and actually I'd never even thought of doing so.

Immediately of course the voice of parental questioning and doubt piped up: 'Why not? Shouldn't you be helping her fix this problem?'
And then my real voice promptly drowned that the hell out -

Just like we've given her perfect freedom to explore her gender labels in a safe and supportive environment, I'm just as happy to tolerate this little personal hangup too. So she doesn't like labels, so it's a pain in the ass - this is not an issue, this is not a debilitating handicap (are we allowed to use that word these days?) which will impact on how she operates in society. This is not a problem.
This is a personality quirk and by god those are for celebrating in this rapidly homogenising world we live in.

I will not add another weekly appointment to her life - one for which we will be perpetually late and she'll probably have to wear shoes (sans labels of course) and will cut in to her valuable 'playing with her cheetah family' time.
I will not make her conscious that she has something which needs 'fixing' or shine a negative light on a personal preference she has.
I will not spend time and money to make her just like everyone else.

We know someone, an adult, who will not eat RED food for god's sake. Let's save the valuable OT appointments for that level of quirk if we must!

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe as an adult she'll have wished we'd taken her label thing more seriously. Maybe she'll become a merciless serial label killer, maybe she'll be a seamless technology millionaire, maybe she'll become a nudist.
Maybe she'll just be an ordinary person with a few cute quirks/annoying habits.

Oh wait, she's that already.

You've all seen this video right?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

25 things about right now.

1. I went to see West Side Story a couple of weeks back. An all-local production, 2 years in the making, performed at our big City theatre - it was astounding.

Pic stolen from the internet - see more here.
I'm not a big fan of musicals, but this was magic - thank you to the friends who persuaded me to go. I'd loved the 1961 movie as a child, the soundtrack was one of 3 or 4 cassette tapes on repeat on our family holidays and most of the lyrics have stayed with me.
The morning after the performance I gave the girls the plot rundown as we dashed through the hardware store and we left with them singing 'When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying daaaaaaaay'!
I borrowed the soundtrack from the library a few days later and much to Husband's consternation it's been an all out WSS FEST to and from school recently.
Some stories are just timeless (big up to Shakespeare!).

2. The other soundtracks which contributed to the theme songs of my childhood were The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat, Hair and Grease. (My parents were hippies.)

3. In addition to West Side Story we're all about Inside Out (the movie) and talking about our emotions. Also - STILL - How to Train Your Dragon. Us big kids just finished Game of Thrones S5 and I for one am DEVASTATED by the final scene - what?? I'm rapidly catching up with Downton Abbey too, and we finally gave House a bash and are enjoying it. Can you tell it's winter?

4. We also went to the Zip Zap Circus. If you think it's nerve-wracking watching adult trapeze artists, watching kids do it is terrifying. And exhilarating!

5. My new sister-in-law and her siblings were in the Zip Zap Circus for years - also trapeze! - and my girls loved imagining that was her up there. I don't know how her parents could bear it!

6. Everybody seems to be traveling at the moment - friends to UK, friends to Reunion Island, my brother and SIL off on their delayed honeymoon trip to Bali. Brother plans to visit Chile later in the year. I'm seriously envious.

7. But did go for a long overdue motorbike ride with my Husband.

8. And his brothers and one of our sisters-in-law. Sweet story: I'm sure I've mentioned before that my husband is much younger than his brothers (17 and 15 years between them respectively). They were both in boarding school when he was born, then the army and life - and he pretty much grew up an only child. But now, as adults they've developed a real connection over shared hobbies. Currently: motorbikes. Their mum is so pleased. Well, maybe not so much about the motorbikes ...

9. It was gorgeous to be on the bike again and to do a nice wintery landscape ride on an overcast Sunday afternoon. The orchards were all still stark and sculptural, with occasional mad outbursts of blossoms, the verges were green and lush, ditches filled with arum lilies and wood smoke drifting from farm cottages. I'm glad we got out there.

10. Signs of Spring abound though, and suddenly our morning commute to school looks like this ...

... sun! Glorious golden dawn on those mountains so ravaged by fire 6 months ago. The winter rains have brought the first flush of green to those slopes too and we've been enjoying watching that change as the months pass.

11. On the subject of rain though, we've not had nearly enough this winter. On our ride we drove past some of Cape Town's major dams - soberingly empty. I fear for tight water restrictions and price hikes this summer.

12. Strange to think of water restrictions when one lives surrounded by the wet stuff (albeit undrinkable and too brack for the garden even). We've had amazing water wildlife experiences lately. Flamingos have been resident for the last couple of months, African Spoonbills have been around, two different types of kingfishers, pelicans, our first sighting of coot chicks and ... a seal!

This is s/he - top of the food chain, catching massive lake fish and tossing them around with happy abandon. S/he's been around for weeks now - too fat to get over the weir and back to the ocean probably!

13. Then on Sunday evening, just before dark, Stella met her first otter. A curious be-whiskered cheeky young 'un, practically touching noses with the dogs on the front lawn.

14. We've been here for 3 years next month and the wonder of this place still resonates with us every day.

15. NOT currently enthralling me is my work, or lack thereof. This has been a much slower year than last with lots of false starts and annoyances. I keep thinking 'oh it'll pick up' and then some small child asks me how long 'til Christmas and I realise the answer is FOUR MONTHS (today!!) and look at my credit card statement and feel slightly nauseous.

16. The small job I'm currently on is in complete stasis as we wait to hear whether our Very Important Guest will get her SA visa in time to depart the States tomorrow morning. If she does the next 3 days will look like a shit storm, if she doesn't I'll send off a bunch of apologetic emails and meekly submit my invoice for a job half done ... chalk this one up to another false start. Blerk.

17. Can I just say it is annoying, when whiling away semi-productive time in front of the computer, that all one's favourite northern hemisphere bloggers are far more occupied with being summery then writing insightful and witty material on the internet for those of us with time to kill to read. Happens every year. Not appreciated at all.

18. Even actual books are not weaving their usual magic for me. I've updated by 2015 reading list by the way, and have this situation happening on my bedside ...

... which freaked me out so much that I inexplicably did this ...

... and I'm actually moving through them quite fast right now, but I'm restless. I can't settle, I can't get enthralled and more and more I suspect that it's not the books to blame - but me.

19. Should I blame Instagram?

20. Thank god for Instagram.

21. I have however been having good cooking mojo recently - a first for the year really. I've been cooking healthy varied meals, consciously using things we have lurking in the fridge and the pantry. Planning meals and cooking ahead and testing the girls tastes and textures. It's an immensely satisfying feeling. It's good to have one of those in these somewhat dissatisfying times ...

22. But damn, food is expensive y'all. And getting more so all the time. We have a monthly grocery budget which we pretty much total every month but I'm kind of tempted to keep an actual spreadsheet of what we spend on what for a month - how many eggs, how many litres of juice, loaves of bread, litres of milk - or is that a really bad idea?

23. Something else which is expensive: dogs. This boy is eating twice as much as he did a few months ago.

Worth every penny. Don't we love him more for sleeping like a cat?

24. My brother just phoned to remind me that I need to submit my provisional tax by the end of the month. Fuck.

25. And I got word that she got her visa! Tally-ho!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


A sparkling champagne winters day, a 40th birthday lunch, an exquisite location in the Winelands.

Babylonstoren is to be seen to be fully believed. I don't think anyone's photos or words could really do it justice.

Cape Dutch architecture, such as this iconic gable here, is a childhood trigger for anyone who's grown up in the Cape. Cool white dusty walls, oak trees - either in full green mantle or spindly winter limbs, red gravel and the smell of old wood - wine barrels, shutters, great gates and doors.

The main restaurant is achingly charming - so understated, so immaculate, so warm and comfy despite its pared-down look.
I really wanted to hate this place a bit, wanted to be able to roll my eyes and declare it all too bourgeois and curated.
It IS bourgeois (as is anywhere which takes its beauty a mite too seriously), is IS curated to the nth degree (even the bread table looked like a decor mag centre piece), but it is really undeniably beautiful and accessible and just so very pleasing to the eye and the soul - I had to immerse myself and drink it all in.

These gardens, can I tell you how they smelled?
Like flowers (obviously) and the freshest fruit and the crispest white wine. Like the pages of an old beloved fairy tale and the most nostalgic drawer of your granny's dressing table. They smelled like those far off mountains look.

We feasted, we drank a lot of wine, we celebrated the birthday girl and we inhaled the magic. 
A spectacular afternoon for the senses and the soul.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

bye bye fritta

Shortly after getting our first cat we decided she needed a friend. We went off to a local cat shelter, thinking we'd find a young neutered male, possibly black and white.

We came home with this tiny 2 or 3 yr old ginger female. We're still not entirely sure how that happened.

As we walked through the shelter (it was one big open space filled with cats) we'd stop to pet or chat to this one or that one, as a staff member pointed out the males. But always behind us there was a yowling, an occasional bump to the calf, a small ginger whinger who'd clearly decided we were to be hers.
In the end it was undeniable.

15 years have passed since then, 15 years of her yowling at us, her tiny frame delivering a hefty bump to the kidneys when she wanted to get in under the duvet on cold winter nights. Many years when she was younger, yowling at us from the kitchen sink when she wanted a drink, many months of late of her yowling at me from the laundry room floor when she needed lifting up to her food bowl.

She was a scratcher, ruining our leather sofa, a red velvet covered chair and even trying her luck on my magnificent sofa!! But lately she became unable to retract her claws and I kept finding her, yowling of course, stuck to furniture, blankets, herself.

Afraid of nothing in the world but a rattling plastic bag (she could stare down a salivating bull terrier for a piece of roast chicken but shake a bag in the same room as her and she'd fly), recently she'd started having sudden frights - jumping up, trying to run away, her legs flailing around uncontrollably, for no apparent reason.

She became high maintenance. Two winters ago I swore I couldn't do it anymore - the litter tray on the upstairs balcony which had to come in every time the north wind blew, the loss of bowel control (inexplicably always at dinner time), the furballs ... but yet she clung on, eating and chatting (ie yowling) and sleeping and purring. Still she was our pumpkin Fritta.

But the end came, not too unpleasantly but the signs were clear, and last Friday I took her to the vet and came home without her.

Khoki was waiting in the front courtyard, immediately inquiring about her friend and sniffing the empty box suspiciously. I still hear her now and then, calling upstairs, it still upsets me.
I still think I see, from the corner of my eye, a ginger shadow slip into the room.
I still roll over carefully in the night, so as not to crush the little thing.

I still get tearful when I look at this picture.

Goodnight Fritz.