Monday, October 31, 2016

paying tribute to my namesake with gin and facepaint

On Friday my late Granny Molly would've been 97 years old.

I've written about the legendary lady she was before here and really, for someone who left just over half my lifetime ago, she still lives so large in my consciousness and in family lore.

On Friday we had a little Halloween gathering here at our place. 'Halloween at the Lake' I messaged our local gang - come over from 4, bring stuff, bring kids, dress-up optional...
I may have nicked some pics from the interwebs.

I'm generally ambivalent about Halloween, even grinchy, but I've been slowly coming round ...

This year was windy again though, and it not actually being Halloween yet the chances of any decent trick or treating were slim. Besides, who really wants to clang around in the howling wind hanging on to your wig when we could be drinking gin and ignoring our children right?

Gin. I got Granny Molly's genes to thank for that.

Costumes. I got Granny Molly's genes to thank for that too.

Hosting. Yup, big up to Granny for that one.

And I need to give her a nod for the Halloween Treasure Hunt too - late on Friday afternoon, after racking my brains as to how to give it a special Halloween twist for the kids, I realised that actually we have the best house for a treasure hunt. So late, after a few gins, I snuck away, threw together some rhyming clues and installed a friend's husband in the attic with goodie bags, a scary wig and a torch. We set the kids loose and sat back on the stoep to wait for the screams!

The kids loved it, the 'early evening' gathering turned into a bit of a gin fest and the next day, with a fuzzy head and a sticky house, I thought about my Granny Molly and felt she would've approved.
Thanks Grankie, we miss you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

the ups and downs of October

This post is to filed under 'diary'. I need to record this last crazy month for myself, for the record.

I've come here so often with an opening line, a thought or an observation, but the back story has always been so enormous - October's stories have been enormous - that I've either shied away or the next thing has happened before I could finish writing/processing about the last.

Emotional ro-la-co-stah. I'm tired just thinking about writing about it.

October is a beautiful month (which month isn't really right?), but this one has brought some pain.

On the 1st of the month one of my very best friends was admitted to hospital after weeks of what we all then thought was 'flu.

That weekend, beloved English cousins currently living in the States woke to the news that their 23 year old son had died in his sleep.
Shock rippled around the world as we gathered in small digital huddles - on FB messenger, Whatsapp and eventually a Tribute Page - trying to cradle a family in unimaginable pain with words and images shared on these platforms, knowing that none of it worked as well as a hug, but that all the hugs in the world wouldn't heal their hearts.
When a healthy 23 year old guy dies in his sleep on a Saturday night there is one conclusion that everyone jumps to, and from the talk it does seem he lived a colourful life - partying and living it up in the film industry in which he worked.
But louder then that were the reams of words testifying to his gentle care of those he loved, his sense of humour, his intelligence, his diligence to his work, his magic touch with animals - all these words proven by the multitude of photos of him shared on the page, in each one of them he has his arms around someone.

I recalled so vividly the boys like him I knew at that age. Young, gorgeous, healthy young men who worked, had plans, took their jobs and their lives seriously, earned well, and partied hard. Those boys were the best friends a girl could have, watchful and caring, they were the most fun to have at a party, loud and gregarious and hilarious, they were generous with their love, their time and their drugs - and after a heavy night out they would go home to Sunday lunch and be the most attentive, genuinely devoted sons and brothers. They thought they were invincible.

So many are lost in grief at his passing.

On the 4th we celebrated our 13 year wedding anniversary.

It was a magic evening, warm and golden and still. We'd made no plans, but that afternoon I remembered two bags of prawns in the freezer, a bottle of very fine wine we'd been saving, a box of creme brulee magnum ice-creams I'd seen at our local store ... I lit the fire and watched the girls play wildly on the lawn as we waited for the sound of his motorbike arriving home.
We ate grilled prawns 'til the butter ran down our arms, washed down with sublime wine, and grinned stupidly at each other over our daughter's heads. 13 years.

A couple of nights later we ditched the girls and went out for a proper grown-up dinner in our beautiful 'hood.

But still my friend was in hospital, and the news was not good. An inflammation of the spinal cord, a rare auto-immune condition, crippling pain and uncertainty about the path ahead.
Sobering updates as we rallied around her family, setting up an online meal roster to cook for them, a Whatsapp group to keep all those concerned in the loop.

I traveled to Pretoria for work. Twice.
Pretoria was hot, and dry, but magnificently purple.

Jacaranda trees were introduced a hundred years ago, blatant invaders from South America, for their beauty and their shade. They kind of hung around and once a year transform Pretoria from a fairly drab and run-down city to a psychedelic wonderland. Well played invaders.

The work was good, the people I met inspirational and fun.

Our country has had a hard month too. Our Minister of Finance is facing trumped-up charges of misconduct, leveled at him by a President fueled only by his greed. Our students are rising up to demand the education promised to them 20 years ago, and getting beaten in the streets by our dysfunctional police force. Our academics and universities are reeling from the damage - to their campuses and their careers. Our general public are split down the middle on a topic so complex that you can only see it in black and white if you're at the heart of a the struggle or being a total asshole. Their are a select few who are both.
It's a fucking mess.

The activists I was in Pretoria with were for the most part much younger than me, black and very active in education. We spoke at length about the current situation and it was so reassuring to me, a white, middle-class, (cough) middle-aged lady, to check in with them and find that we shared many opinions on these issues. It's easy when you live among your peers to believe that you're right. It's a gift to step out of that circle and find others, very different to you, who feel the same. I love my work for the worlds it opens up for me.

Back home and straight into a very special celebration. My Dad turned 70.

Which necessitated a party, with some of our dearest family friends, and a rainbow cake for the birthday boy, with ants on it - because he's all about the ants, about the ants, no spiders - according to one of his silly granddaughters.

And then another anniversary - a really BIG one.

On the 24th my man and I marked 25 years together - a silver anniversary - from bumbling high school sweethearts to married-up parents.
We celebrated with an enormous bunch of chinkerinchees, a bottle of bubbly and the gift of a vintage silver dollar from my parents. How exactly did I get this lucky?

And still ... my friend is in hospital. Still battling pain and an uncertain future, but still smiling when she can, still strong, still her.

This growing up thing is not for sissies, the realities of life and aging are hard and painful. But the love, the love just gets stronger and sweeter - and the knowledge that that is all that is important gets clearer every day.

This year has worn us out already - is it holidays yet?