"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


I have been sitting working at my computer this morning, sorting out some orders, sending invoices, checking the bank statement and doing my internet banking.  Lots of stuff going around in my head and jumping from one thing to the other, in my usual style.  I have been looking for some blog inspiration as well.  I found this lovely site "The Love Whisperer".  All mushy and pretty and about love (most of it pretty sad, love and mushy, pretty stuff) and it plays you this wonderful sound soundtrack as you read.  Lots of new voices and new music. Very clever (me thinks).  Sometimes as you read you think of something you could write about, something a bit more meaty and thought provoking than usual.  

I sat thinking, listening, reading and knowing that what I should really be doing is getting ready to leave the house and forget about blogging.  I was not finding inspiration blog from the mushy love sites.  Time to go.  But hey -  a text message from Annie arranging to drop off some glasses at my house.  I reply that I am home.  She replies "Perfick".

That one word now has switched on the light and brought back a flood of memories going back about 23 years.  Memories of the only time in my life that I have been seriously sick, of being yellow, itchy, so terribly nauseous and confined to bed for more than a month.  A month when things just happened, friends rallied around, meals arrived on the doorstep and I lay in bed.  Flowers filled the room, new magazines piled up next to my bed and I slept.  Heads popped in to say hello from the door (all too frightened to come close because it was a certifiable disease).

I got better and stronger and was soon able to open my eyes for long enough to page through a magazine.  Buried on the pile was "The Darling Buds of May" by HE Bates (long before the TV series with Catherine Zeta-Jones was aired here) with a note from Annie to me to "Get Better".   I had never read Bates, it seemed very old world and strange to me at first but after the first chapter I was hooked and in love with the Larkins.  Ma and Pop, five children (many named after flowers) who lived in the country, who ate lots of deliciously described food, drank copious amounts of alcohol and generally had a wonderful time. 

"Ma shook all over, laughing like a jelly. Little rivers of yellow, brown and pinkish-purple cream were running down over her huge lardy hands. In her handsome big black eyes the cloudless blue May sky was reflected, making them dance as she threw out the splendid bank of her bosom, quivering under its salmon jumper."

Memories are wonderful and how amazing that the one word "Perfick" got me on a completely different path thinking about the Larkins and the English countryside and the crazy, carefree life that they lived.  Have to get my hands on a copy.

Friday, 24 May 2013

california dreaming...

A lovely email in my inbox from Matthew this morning to brighten up a slightly foggy Cape Town day.  It made me smile and feel so happy because he sounds so happy.  I asked him if I could use it for my blog today and he said "cool".  So here it is:-


So the season is over.

That happened!

Hahaha I hate it when people talk that.

So we went to Dallas for the last 16 and QF national championship weekend. Despite winning the title last year and winning the SoCal division we were seeded 5th. Which kicked up a big fuss here. *imagine someone in the Nevada desert kicking at dust*. Yip that's how much of a fuss was kicked.

So we played the team we beat in last year's final, in the last 16 game on Saturday. I was on the bench as they know I'm leaving and the other flyhalf is their future wada wada wada...

The fixtures were played on a polo estate with 4 fields set up. A similar vibe to Kurland but not so fancy.

A quick run down of events:

a strong UCT like wind
we played into it first half. Down 27-5 at half time and struggling
I come on with 30mins left
lots to do so little time
score some cool tries, get good momentum, let one soft try in, down 34-27 with one minute left. Their kickoff, very strong downwind
they concede a penalty inside our 22m
I see a lonely wing back, if I can just kick it over his head it'll run out and we can have a shot at extra time
I hoof it - timed perfectly
I'm like Tiger following his blind approach to the green
It looks to have enough
The wing is stumbling backwards over his feet
It has enough
It's headed for the 5m line and 80m kick
It's perfect
Everyone holds their breath
I skip for it to get over his head
It lands over his head
I did it
It's perfect
What just happened???
The wing who was stumbling over his feet gathers the ball which now bounced back over his head
Newton's best explanation is that the ball landed in a horse's spoor
Catches it
Runs it up field, time is now up, they kick it out
Game is over

That just happened!

I hate it when people talk like that. I hate even more when that just happens.

Sunday I started and got MVP. Oh well.

The upside is I'm now on holiday. I fly up to NY on Sunday and have a month of travel before heading home. The National concert on June 5th, together with NYC, Long Island, Saratoga Springs, Boston, SF, train back to LA for a week before flying out, the gist of it.


So we were playing Bezzerwizzer. A board game. At Brice's house. A few of us are there.
'Should we play Bezzerwizzer?' I suggest.
'What is Bezzerwizzer?' asks 21 year old English speaking SA boy Jeremy.
'It's a trivia game,' responds intelligent Brice.
*Shake your head in disbelief*

He wasn't invited to play.

Things have been really cool here and I've really felt part of the team lately. Every day shines a little brighter, I get a little comfortable, feel more at home and enjoy it a little more. The time is right for some travel and I will leave with a big smile on my face.

Some simple things which make me smile:

The deli up the road is a classic ploughman's type farm stall with a rickety mini windmill outside. I often take a book there and read with a Boddington's Ale and sit exuding my British colonial superiority on America. Just jokes. I often drink American beer with my flat cap!
A simple bike ride at sunset.
A bubble bath with candles.
Working out on the beach in the sun on the parallel and pull up bars while the rest of the world is working.
Big Brice being such a generous champion of a person and meeting me at the deli for a beer after work, or coming over to see if there's a meal for him at my place.
Turning down very forward and beautiful Californian girls. Makes me so happppppppy. That is happening.
Living a really simple life and getting to know myself really well. Too well maybe. If you know what I mean ;)
I think that is enough for now.

I'm off for a kayak now in the Naples canals. Very beautiful. (For Jeremy - it's not really Naples like the city in Italy, but a beautiful canal system modeled on Naples. It is a suburb called Naples but I reiterate that it is not 'The Naples'. That is trivia.)

Sent from my iPhone."

I have even managed to get some pictures out of him:-

 LA sunset
 Naples (CA  - USA)

 This must be Brice, in the local deli with a Boddingtons and roast beef sandwich and crisps
(I can even see the "rickety mini windmill" in the background)
 Rugby boys on a cruise
 Paddling in Naples
Matt and a real film star in LA
(I just love the girl in the background)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

today i have been thinking...

How good it feels 
to start your day with a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, park, school...

to receive an email from your son with only a subject line saying "your kinda thing"

that to find a letter in my desk drawer, written about a year ago by my niece Kelly, has made my day..

"I respect everything you do, espiecally ur food" and "PS.  If u need me i'm around corner"

Enough thinking, time to get out there and seize the day!!  Wine to sell, emails to send, friends to see, wine to drink....

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

the rule of three...

Do you know about "the rule of three"?  It was somewhere in the back of my mind but I had not heard the expression or thought about it for a long time.

"The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. From slogans ("Go, fight, win!") to films, many things are structured in threes. Examples include The Three Stooges, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

A series of three often creates a progression in which the tension is created, built up, and finally released. Similarly, adjectives are often grouped in threes to emphasize an idea" from Wikipedia

The latin phrase  "omne trium perfectum"  (everything that comes in threes is perfect / every set of three is complete) sums it up perfectly.
Obviously getting a bit soft and missing Matthew too much.  His rugby season in California is nearly over, he continues his travels in the USA later this week and will be home in about 39 sleeps!!

Friday, 17 May 2013

another amazing morning

We are having the most awesome weather in Cape Town at the moment.  My niece Janet, in the UK, has just commented that she wonders why a summer wardrobe is needed in the UK.  Come live here for a bit Janet.  I have not yet taken out my winter clothes (not that there is much to take out), needed to use my slippers, had a fire or used a rug while watching television. Hard to believe that it is nearing mid-winter.

This morning I was collected at 8 by Annie and we ventured up into a very special public garden.  Annie knows Kirstenbosch so well and it is a treat to go walking with her and have her point out spider webs, porcupine droppings and get taken on routes that I did not know existed. She has a keen eye for detail and while I am looking at all the big and wonderful things (and trying to get my breath back), she is taking pictures of tiny leaves, dried flowers and little insects on the ground.

 Can you see Hangklip?  We could.  Camera's fault
 Time to rest, breathe and take in the view
Still quite a way to the top

Thanks Annie.  

Second greatness of the day was to get back home to find emails in my inbox with orders for wine from the wine tasting I did at an art exhibition last night.  I only took our 3 new wines - The Old School from Alkmaar Estate in Wellington and I felt really proud that they were so well received by the guests.

Did you spot the mistakes in the picture?  Cap on wine and (worse still) empty glass.  Taking my job a tad too seriously!! Also made the mistake of throwing a tennis ball to one of the three huge dogs in the background.  He did not leave my side the entire evening and I nearly fell over the damn ball and into the flower beds a few times (no fault of wine).
Not too shabby!!

Can the weekend get any better?  Will keep you posted.  Keep warm Janet!!

Did I mention these three great new wines I am selling?  

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

how to irritate yourself in 5 easy steps

Over the last couple of days I have been making a list (in my head - not always a good idea) of the little things that make me irritated with myself.  

1.   Packaging for medication.  Why is it that whenever you open the box, no matter if for the first time or the 10th time, you will open it on the side where the printed package insert blocks you getting the tablets out?

Remedy:  Remove the insert on your first opening (I never do)

2.  Soap, no rope.  The beauty of glycerine soap.  My absolute best treat but drop it in the shower and, without my glasses, I have to go down on all fours and feel around for the transparent, slippery bar.

Remedy:  Soap on a rope or prescription shower goggles

3.  Shampoo fiasco.  Buy "matching" shampoos and conditioners and then always pick up the conditioner first, sometimes using the conditioner first and wondering why the hell there are no bubbles.

Remedy:  2 in 1 shampoo or prescription shower goggles

4.  Washing your face with hot water before bed.  Getting ready for bed and then back to the bathroom to swallow a tablet.  Fill glass with water.  Swallow tablet with mouthful of hot water.  Happens every night.

Remedy:  Take tablets before washing face.

5.  I have got good about plugging in my phone and using handsfree and earphones when driving.  Get to destination and forget about earplugs.  Earrings pulled out of ears, seat belt tangled with cords and phone swinging on a thread.

Remedy:  Switch off phone while driving

6.  Arriving home through garage.  Take first load out and open up garage door, disarm burglar alarm, put bag on counter and hang key on hook.  Head back to car for next load, try to open passenger side door, locked.  Clever (but stupid) car somehow knows when there is only one passenger and the boot and other doors remain locked.  Either have to run around car to driver's side, jump inside again and press button or make my way back inside and remove key from hook and press the key another time.  Everyday.

Remedy:  Keep spare key in the garage

Little things and now written down are easily remedied but I really wonder why they have to happen so many times in the first place.

So what stupid things to you do everyday?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

saturday song

I have been in the car a lot this week.  Listening to a CD Gareth made for me.  This one was on repeat yesterday.  Great song and I was kind of making up the words, so I thought it time to know them and now I do so I can really sing now and not lip synch.

They're playing our song
They're playing our song
Can you see the lights?
Can you hear the hum,
of our song?

I hope they get it right
I hope we dance tonight
Before we, get it wrong

And the seasons
Will change us new
But you're the best I've known
and you know me
I could not be stuck on you
If it weren't true

I was swimming
My eyes were dark
'til you woke me
And told me that opening
Is just the start
It was

Now I see you, 'til kingdom come
You're the one I want
To see me for all
the stupid shit I've done

Soil and six feet under,
Kept just like we were
Before you'd knew you'd know me
Now you know me

Blooming up from the ground
3 rounds and a sound
Like whispering "you know me.
You know me."

So this was our song
This was our song.
I still see the lights
I can see them

And the crisscross
Of what is true, won't get to us
'Cause you know me-
I could not give up on you...(wouldn't feel true)

And the fog of
what is right
Won't cover us
'cause you know me-
I could not give up a fight...(wouldn't feel right)

Soil and six feet under
(Crisscross of what is true, won't get to us)
Kept just like we were
(Cause you know me. I could not give up on you)
Before you knew you'd know me
(But you feel the truth)
Now you know me

Blooming up from the ground
(And the fog of what is right won't cover us)
3 rounds and a sound
(Cause you know me, I could not give up a fight)
Like whispering "you know me
(But you feel right)
You know me."

Friday, 10 May 2013

so true

"It’s the oldest story in the world. One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you’re ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life."
— Nathan Scott

It took me awhile to find this quote, which I had saved for the right time.  Today it seemed very apt.

My 17 year old niece spent some time with us last night.  We had supper and listened to stories of her busy life, of school and hockey practices and lots about the Justin Bieber concert.  We saw pictures of her friend who was lucky enough to have made eye contact with the guy, we heard about the evening and the fun that was had, we heard about the boys that were at the concert and whose shoulders she sat on.  We saw pictures of the boys (whose shoulders she sat on) and heard about the decisions that she has to make.

After she had left I came through to my computer and caught up with some emails.  In my inbox was the treat of a wonderful email from a friend's daughter.  10 years older than Amy and living and working overseas, full of love and sunshine and looking forward to her visit home at the end of the month.  10 years older, somewhat more worldly and wiser, with the world at her feet but also with decisions to make.

It made me think back to when I was 17 how the decisions I made then affected my life, when I was 27 I was close to having my third son and how my decisions at 17 had already influenced my life.  I realised then that perhaps I was a bit dismissive and unconcerned about the "crisis" in the life of a 17 year old and how the decisions she makes now can impact her life.

These decisions whether you are 17 or 27 will be made and it is only when you look back do you realise how that one decision could have changed the whole path of your life.  Today I look back and that decision at 17 was probably the best decision of my life because it made my life what it is today.  

No regrets. This is my life.  

Thanks for that Nathan Scott (whoever you are).

PS.  Had to look it up.  It is a quote from "One Tree Hill" - don't know the show but he is the hunky lead.  Nice words anyway.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

you say tomatoes, i say tomatoes

Dalene and I shared a hysterical couple of minutes on BBM last night.  I got the following message:-

Dalene:  Hell (smiley face) was wondering if you want to take Tom's ticket for Justin Bieber on Wednesday night?

Me (being diplomatic, her husband is away for the week but she knows about me and my music): Didn't you already ask Kathy, she seemed very keen

Dalene:  I have another.... A mom at school booked online when Amy could not get her ticket at Computicket, so we ended up with two lots and I still have one extra.

Me:  You could probably sell it for thousands outside the ground.  Me at Justin Bieber would be like me walking your daschunds (too emboeressing)

Dalene:  (hundreds of smiley faces) heeheheheeeehee...I just took a bet with Kathy and we wanted to see your priceless reply.  I said to her that you like him as much as you like my DOGS.  Always said we should go on "Check your Mate" ... ha ha.  Please come, we could have fun.

Me:  Find someone else, I will babysit your dogs. xxx

We would do very well on a "Check your Mate" quizz and, if I must say so myself, we are brilliant at 30 Seconds.  Mainly because I have very strong likes and dislikes so it is a matter of her saying "The pop star you dislike more than Elvis" "Michael Jackson".  "The movie we saw when you wore that new long grey coat" "Steel Magnolias".  "That awful, croaky, depressive singer with the ugly face that you love and that you played in the car all the way from Cape Town to Knysna" "Leonard Cohen".  We can't go wrong.  You should challenge us sometime.  The only way you can beat us is if you feed us too much wine and we start saying things like "It rhymes with shoot cake".  So maybe it is not so difficult.

So, if we are so close and know each other so well why do we have exactly the opposite taste in music (and dogs).  Really weird.  Dalene loved Donny Osmond and David Cassidy.  She loved the musicals and played the Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar for years (she still watches the Sound of Music).  She knows all the music from the Phantom and plays Les Miserables in her car.  She loved the Bee Gees, while I listened to Bread.  She went for the Carpenters while I loved Bob Dylan. 

OK she does have teenage girls but she now listens to Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Rihana.  She is even off to the concert tomorrow night.

Anyone looking for a ticket?

My new favourite song - Could you get further from Bieber?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

thoughtful saturday...

From the standpoint of eternity, there is hardly any difference between a “long” and a “short” life. Therefore, it’s not whether one’s life is long or short, but how one lives that is important. It is what we accomplish, the degree to which we develop our state of life, the number of people we help become happy—that is what matters.

Buddist Inspiration for Daily Living  -  Daisaku  Ikeda

I attended a memorial service of a friend of Friday evening.  I listened to his sister and then his friends pay very honest tributes to this kind and humble man, I looked around at all the familiar faces of so many friends that I had not seen, some of them for many years and for the hour or two that I was there, although ultimately a sad occasion, it was wonderful to re-connect with the past and so many friends and share great memories and stories.

Yesterday I spent a quiet day at home, busy with some work and my thoughts.  I was also feeling so disappointed with myself that I had not made the effort to get to see him before he died.  I knew he was in hospital and I had driven past the hospital a couple of times the previous week.  He was constantly in my thoughts but somehow I did not have the courage to go in on my own.  It was also a bit awkward to show up to see someone now ill, who you had not really made the effort to see while he was well.

I was thinking too about all the friends I had chatted to on Friday evening, some just brief "How are you? Where are your children? Any grandchildren?" kind of conversations and then two, also brief conversations with two "friends" that I do not even know that well.  The one, asked me how my sons were coping after the death of their father nearly two years ago.  He showed such amazing insight and caring and, if I could have I would have loved to have carried on chatting to him for much longer. The other conversation, as I was walking out of the door, was with a man who had recently lost his wife.  I had done a course with his wife many years ago and we always shared a laugh about the course and about being the same personality type numbers.  She was a very special lady.  I asked him how he was coping and, in his usual light hearted way, told me how the weeks while working were fine but how lonely his weekends were. He went on to tell me how difficult mealtimes are and the little things we take for granted, of how he and his wife enjoyed sharing a bowl of food together and the ritual of their meals together.  I gave him a hug and felt sad that he, now surrounded by all these "old friends", was having to go home alone and face the weekend.  It is pretty special when in a couple of minutes you can chat to two people, share your feelings and open up to just because you are on a common ground.

I have made many friends and many have played a big part in my life at a particular time, then circumstances change, people move on and new friends come into our lives.  Fortunately, there are those friends that remain constant and who we do spend more time with.  However, it is at a memorial like the one on Friday that you realise that there are so many ties that bind us and that the death of one friend, who was the initial starting point in so many friendships and relationships, a man who brought so many together and kept people connected, is no longer with us and I will never share a laugh, a chat and a drink on the side of the rugby field with him again.  The other sad thought was that the next time we get together will probably be at the next memorial.  And that is pretty sad.

Life is short, life is full, life is good...

"Enough, Jennifer", she said to her self in her sensible voice.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

one of those days...

Today, for me, was of those days when you are more thoughtful than other days.  Not thoughtful in the sense of being kind and good to others but thoughtful because you spend time with your own thoughts and become quite introspective, even although you are not alone.  It has been an "at home" May day.  Besides having had a long walk early this morning, we have spent the rest of the day at home.  At home moving furniture around and finding the right spot for the couple of new items we have inherited.  

I was lucky enough this morning to have two surprise visits from two very special girls in my life. We drank tea and chatted and ate hot cross buns (Aren't you glad they carry on making hot cross buns long after Easter is over and your eggs have been eaten?  Weird, but good).

I have been busy finding new places for books, glasses, photograph frames and vases. I have had Michael help me move furniture from our passage into the entrance hall and then, after an hour or so, back to the passage again.  I have been hanging new pictures in new places and then re-hanging old pictures in the old places.  I have been reading notes and letters that Helen had in her writing desk.  I have found sweet notes she had written to herself and there are special cards that she wanted to keep (How can I now throw them away?)

Michael has been busy too.  He has been going through papers and trying very hard to decide which of his 1 000 's of copies of Golf Digest he can send to recycling (I think he finally decided on about 16 copies and all the Compleat Golfer and Financial Mail magazines (another 12)).  He too has been reading and sorting through his mother's papers and accounts.  We have worked quietly but together.  Things are coming together.

About an hour ago I moved to the study for the first time to check emails and see if I had missed out on anything dramatic happening in cyberspace while I had been in my own space today.  I checked a couple of my favourite sites and, because I have felt like a bit of a voyeur today, these attracted my attention:-  

Teddy Roosevelt’s diary entry from the day his wife died. He never spoke of her death again. How beautiful and romantic and sad and I now want to know more.  The ultimate love letter.

Then, probably because of my mood, I came across this blog and a love letter from 1932.  This paragraph is awesome:-

"I say this is a wild dream—but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you assert yourself the more you want me, need me. Your voice getting hoarser, deeper, your eyes blacker, your blood thicker, your body fuller. A voluptuous servility and tyrannical necessity. More cruel now than before—consciously, wilfully cruel. The insatiable delight of experience."

This is from a letter that the American novelist Henry Miller wrote to his lover Anais Nin.

Read more of this love story here.  I now have to watch Henry and June all over again.

"...your eyes blacker, your blood thicker..."

My aching nerves.  Time for sleep.