"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, 17 December 2014

just thinking stuff....

Tidying up and getting two rooms in order for two sons who have not been home for a while has been a job (and a half) and has led me on another "thought train" and discovery. 

Nic has been home a couple of times this year and is not that far away but Matthew has been away for two weeks short of a whole year! The longest I have ever not seen one of my boys. With time differences, Hong Kong seems very far away. Nic was away once for 10 months (without a sighting) and Gareth for two years (but with a few visits backwards and forwards). This is a not-so-nice family record.

Today while out on the road, my mind for some reason , went back five years. Back to what my niece Amy, then aged 13, shared with me about growing older. She was wishing that she could go back to when she was 12 and everything was different and her life was so easy and good. Her old school, her cousins and their different girlfriends, her crush on one of Matthew's rugby friends and the fact that Matthew was leaving Cape Town. These being a few of her many "sadnesses" at growing up. She was upset and was wishing very hard and wondering why don't go back to how they were, just one year ago.

They never do. Getting ready for the boys to arrive home brings with it the knowledge that things will never be the same. Things change and are not meant to be the same. We grow and we move on and start our own lives in our own homes and sometimes in new countries.

I tried to put myself in Amy's position 5 years ago. It was a purple patch where everybody was in Cape Town and our lives were full with family get-togethers, big meals, rugby matches and fun. Her cousins were always around, like older brothers and with so many friends, who also became a part of our family.

I started thinking back to my "olden days" and which days I would like to experience again. Things that I can't remember clearly anymore. I thought about, if I was given a chance to go back to a couple of days from my early life, in a time machine, which days would I choose?

Maybe just as once as a little girl, when my father and mother were still married. I don't remember that well. It must feature our house in Rosebank and both my grandmothers must come to visit. Dalene and I could play in our life-sized Wendy House, for which my grandfather had built and made all the furniture. That wonderful man must also please appear because I would love to hug him one more time. It is really weird how I can remember the smell of our neighbour Deidre's house and the pink overall and cap that her Nanny Anna used to wear. I remember the smells of her cooking as well and the details on their carved wooden staircase with two stories and a red carpet but I cannot remember my own bedroom much at all. I probably moved out of that house by the time I was 7 or 8.

Junior School? Not too memories there or any yearning to go back, except I do remember many of the teachers and pupils. I would love to be around for a break-time to remind myself who my friends were and what we chatted about. I lost touch with most of them when I left Junior School. They all went to the two other girls schools and off I went off to that school with the maroon checked uniform (and boys).

High School? Maroon days. Never really fitting in there but managed to develop a severe distraction and attraction to boys (and not forgetting my two forever best friends). I would love to go back in time and spend a double English class with either Mr Rumbol or Mr Horan. That is about all. 

Relationship days? Was I much the same person as what I am now? Did I make conversation easily? I don't think so. I would love to be able to observe myself at 18 and 19. I certainly know I was much less talkative. 

Wedding Day? I do remember the photographer arriving and I had a face-pack on my face and was in my bathing costume. That led to panic and the hairdresser handing me an Ativan to dissolve under my tongue. The rest of that day and night was a dream and I had to be poked by my bridesmaid to prompt me to finish my vows and not drift off to sleep. At least I was radiant in the photographs as I did not have the usual nervous, false smile. Maybe I should go back to see what it was all about.

Baby Days. I think these are probably the days I would most like to re-live. Just to experience one of those days again and this time to try harder to remember every detail. To check up on just how tired I was at times and how much Gareth really slept!! Photos help but they are a small part of the whole picture. What we did together? How did I feel? How did they talk and walk and smile and play together? Were they really that cute? (Maybe it is time to find the first video recordings of the early days - the one or two that did not have He-Man taped over them).

From turning 40 onwards, the boys and their school days and our Albion Road days are still very clear in my memory. No time-machine needed yet.

When do memories become nostalgia? Now that I am writing this and thinking a bit more deeply about this silly idea of a time-machine taking me back to the past to re-live days that I have already lived, enjoyed, messed up, been happy, been sad, been a shy school-girl, a student, a girl-friend, a mother.  Some of the above I still am and some I will never be again but all those events turned my life into what it is now.  Why would I want to go back and by watching, risk changing even one part of it.

Silly idea and best of all.....

3 more sleeps and we will all be together for Christmas!!

Monday, 24 November 2014

this is a story about....a door


Once upon a time there was a girl who lost much of her material possessions but was lucky to keep, love and nurture what was most important to her.

She found a new home which she loved. She had her own bedroom for the first time in her life. It was a dark and musty room but it had the most beautiful door. As in the story of Cinderella, her bedroom was also a door off the kitchen. At night when she could not sleep she found comfort in the light shining from the passage, through the warped glass panes, which reflected pretty patterns on her damp walls. The door was closed at night but she heard the comforting sounds of teenage boys playing music, laughing, telling stories, coming in late and trying to cook meals "silently" in the kitchen. 

Then this girl met a boy who rescued her from the dark and musty room. She moved to a new house which she made into a bright new home. She made a pretty garden and years later decided to change the entire garden. At the same time that she changed her garden, she remembered her old home which had recently had walls and doors knocked out. She remembered the old door which no longer had a home and was about to be taken to the dump.

"Oh Yeah!", she exclaimed, "I have the perfect spot for the door!!".

So she collected the door, painted a wall, nailed the door to the wall and now the Princess has her very own secret door in her new garden.

Of course, she lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

aunty syl's arms*

Weird things happen and link together in the most crazy way sometimes. This morning I woke up early and, as has become the norm, picked up my iPad to check emails, Facebook and the magazine section of the New Yorker. On Facebook, on the Brain Pickings page, I came upon this quote by Anne Lamott:-

"Trappings and charm wear off… Let people see you. Let them see that your upper arms are beautiful, soft and clean and warm, and then they will see this about their own, some of the time. It’s called having friends, choosing each other, getting found, being fished out of the rubble. It blows you away, how this wonderful event ever happened — me in your life, you in mine.

Two parts fit together. This hadn’t occurred all that often, but now that it does, it’s the wildest experience. It could almost make a believer out of you. Of course, life will randomly go to hell every so often, too. Cold winds arrive and prick you: the rain falls down your neck: darkness comes. But now there are two of you: Holy Moly."

Lovely words about friendship. However, it was the bit about the upper arms that made me smile.Yesterday afternoon, I was watering the garden. It was hot and I had taken off my loose denim shirt and was watering the garden in a sleeveless top. I was very hot. I came inside and started cooking (still in the vest). The doorbell rang. It was my sister. After buzzing the gate open and before opening the front door, I ran to grab my shirt (to cover my arms). How crazy is that? My sister who has known me all her life, has seen far more of me than just my slightly wobbly upper arms, had the upper arms hidden from her view. 

Where do these ideas about what we are supposed to look like come from? Why, now mid-50, do I still let them bother me and swelter in the heat rather than wear a sleeveless top. I have no problem on the beach in my bathing costume in front of the multitudes but as soon as I leave the beach and get dressed the upper arms must be covered. 

And then photographs - my brother sent me a picture this morning of my sister and I with him on his wedding day (three years ago today). I had never seen the picture before.The two of them look great. I saved the picture and then cropped myself out of it. Why? Many of my pictures are odd sizes because a certain person has been cropped out of it. After "cut and paste" the "crop" function on my computer must be my favourite and most used one.

I don't even think of myself as vain (but this must probably indicate that I am) but the picture in my head of what I look like is completely different to any photograph ever taken. Can they all be wrong? Very occasionally, there is that one picture that makes me think "Wow, lovely, that cannot be me" "Is it me?". It does not happen often though and those pictures are ones are in frames! In almost every picture that I see of myself lately I look like my father (a very handsome man, I may add, but in later life double-chinned, baggy eyed with thin lips (we won't mention the senile bit)). Then, the voice! Nothing bothers me quite as much as when you make a call on your cellphone and your voice comes back at you. "Please don't tell me that I sound like that?"

My niece in the UK blogged a few weeks ago about this new way of teaching yourself to get comfortable in front of the camera by taking lots of pictures of yourself. Every time I mistakenly touch that "selfie" button on my camera, I terrify myself. She has been taking pictures of herself in various outfits and it is amazing how her confidence has grown in front of the camera. 

The next generation have no fear of cameras and technology. My sons are comfortable having pictures taken and know how to smile. My nieces do Snapchat, Instagram and have hundreds of pretty pictures of themselves and many gremlin faces and squint eyed ones too. I cannot even do a Skype call and watch myself talking. It unsettles me completely and the video gets put off after two minutes.

Another story, planted in our minds when we were younger was about not having long hair when you got to 40. (Very ageing, "mutton dressed up as lamb", must be shoulder length or shorter). Could this have been the same source who said "cover your upper arms", "don't show your knees", "cut your hair"? 

My great and brave friend, going through chemo at the moment, has been an inspiration. She has taken the treatment in her stride, continued to work, complained little and embraced her baldness. Luckily we had a fun morning choosing her very expensive wig or the whole exercise might have left her feeling a tad "ripped-off". She does wear it to work but over the last 10 weeks or so I have not seen her wear the wig at all, sometimes a cap, never a scarf. She looks beautiful. Luckily she does have a perfectly shaped head and beautiful smile. I don't think I could be so brave.

When she had her head shaved my sister said that we should do something to support her. However, she could not be brave enough to shave her head but would give up wine with her during the treatment. Shaving my head would be the easier option for me. Luckily it was all talk and as it worked out none of us have had to give up wine and only one of us lost our hair.

I am jealous of my friends who wear sleeveless dresses and tops with confidence while I swelter with hot flushes and sleeves. I am proud to walk down the road with my bald friend who just smiles broadly and re-assuringly at people who give her the "oh dear you are dying" look. My brave, bald friend who is not afraid to bare her head but, she too keeps her upper arms covered.

What is with us woman? Going back to Anne Lamott's quote - I think I understand correctly that we should spend more time together showing our "beautiful, soft and clean and warm" upper arms to each other so that eventually we will all rub off on each other and we will become a new generation of woman who are not afraid of bare upper arms. Definitely much cooler woman.

Ooops there goes the bell. I think I need therapy.

* Gill, a friend who I worked with for many years started the "Aunty Syl's arms" thing. I did not know "Aunty Syl" but now all  my family and friends also refer to batwing arms as those of poor "Aunty Syl". RIP

Thursday, 30 October 2014

ages and stages

"First you're young. Then you're middle aged. Then you're wonderful."

Such are the wise words of Alice Roosevelt

I love it and especially now, in my mid-50's, when I think that life is speeding by far too fast and time just races away from me, I can't help but smile at how your perception of age changes. 

Turning 30 was probably the hardest as it was suddenly the end of being young, pretty and irresponsible (although I did have 3 sons aged 7, 5 and 4 at the time and had to be somewhat responsible (they would probably tell you differently)).  
The 30's were busy and tough.  I was often so happy and then sometimes very unhappy but I became a great master at hiding the unhappiness.  I loved my boys and motherhood most of all. I loved the sport, the school, being involved and making new friends.  I had a husband who made a lot of money and lost a lot of money. We were either eating fillet, doing game drives and flying in hot air balloons over Mala Mala or having our electricity cut as the bills were unpaid and having to cook mince on a gas burner by candlelight. Mostly my 30's was a jumble of highs and lows. I remember turning 35 and thinking - "Hell my life is half way done".  Middle aged.

The 40's I could also say were busy and tough but with turning 40 came a new stage in my life and that, although hard at times, brought with it a sense of calmness and finding out who I really was, without the pretence of trying so hard to fit and and to be the "happily married southern suburbs housewife". It was a time to realise that having the wedding ring, the house and the husband were not making me happy and that to escape to a rickety cottage on the railway line with my fast growing chickens was probably the bravest and best thing I could have done at the time. The 40's were fast.  A home filled with growing boys and their many friends, a home where peanut butter sandwiches and not ham and cheese sandwiches were now the norm, muddy rugby togs and fund raising for tours, two tubs of yogurt had to last the week and "100 ways with Mince" became my bible. It was a home that is still so close to my heart as it nurtured me through my 40's and told me "everything will be alright".

So I have been young, I have been middle aged and now I am looking forward to the "wonderful" to come. Seeing as Alice lived to 96 it could still be quite a while to wait.

But waiting is fun...

The 50's have been the best so far. I love and am loved by the kindest, funniest and most caring man in the world;  my boys continue, as they have always done, to make me proud of the men they have become; I am blessed to still have my mother on hand to talk to most days and see often; I have an amazing sister and beautiful nieces, and a brother and a step-daughter.  

However, the 50's bring with it one of the most important realisations - your family are your family and will always be; your parents are not unfortunately with you forever and your children start their own lives in their own homes, sometimes far away.  It is actually your friends who you start to appreciate most in your 50's. They have always been there but have perhaps been taken for granted along the way. Now because your family do not take up so much of your time, there is more time for your friends, for making new ones and taking up new hobbies. I have time to walk, time to draw and time to share a lunch, movie or dinner with my friends. There is more honest sharing and less pretending. Unfortunately there are deaths and sadnesses and sicknesses but these too help us grow and learn how to be a friend, how to listen, how to support and how to appreciate all we have.

All pretty wonderful.

Who said growing up was not easy?

Pictures by:  Jenny Kotze at Kirstenbosch

Thursday, 16 October 2014

when flowers don't bloom

One of the things on my wish list has always been to have a home with a Wisteria covered arch or wall.

(something like this)

Well I have the arch and the Wisteria but it has never bloomed. Last month one bloom appeared but only lasted for a day.

The problem, I was told by a professional, is a lack of sun caused by the huge Silky Oak trees on our pathway. We have two of these trees at our front gate and Michael is always complaining about what a mess they make and what ugly trees they are. Can a tree be ugly? It does mess all year round (I'll admit to that) but I love the shapes of the leaves and how they look through my thin muslin curtains in the morning. At the moment they are at their best and are covered in those lovely sticky, orange, caterpillar type flowers (which drop all over Michael's car which now has to stand outside!). 

Last night we had the tree fellow (are you really supposed to say "fella" because he fells trees?) around and I finally agreed that we have one (of the two) removed (so that the Wisteria can get enough sun to bloom next year). Michael is happy. I am not so sure. But this tree man is a good and entertaining "fella" and seems to know what he is doing.

I am also working on a plan to change the garden around completely. We used to have a lovely stretch of lawn (before the trees and shrubs started to grow) but we now have grass that is patchy and won't grow (because the trees have grown so much). My idea is to extend the patio and make the flower beds bigger and use paving stones in between (maybe a pond or water feature or fish pond and of course, a bench under a tree). The gardening books are out and the planning must begin.

This morning when watering the garden (in the gentle drizzle) and admiring my Silky Oak for the last time, I came across some treasure. About two years ago Rob had given me some Amaryllis bulbs. He kept asking me if they were growing and flowering but I had forgotten where I had planted them and had to keep telling him not (I have been known to plant bulbs upside-down). Yesterday, about six weeks after his death, I came across this spot of red. Not a usual colour for my garden as I try to keep things purple and white.

Under normal circumstances plants of colour would usually be removed and put into the "naughty" colourful corner of the garden but I had to stand back and appreciate the beauty of the moment (while some sticky orange petals dropped into my tea cup for the last time).

Such is life...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

sunday is a day of rest...

I worked too hard yesterday so today has been a lazy Sunday.

A very busy Saturday, starting with a lovely long walk and being spoilt with a clear, warm morning and stunning spring flowers in bloom.  Then some time in the garden with our ever, enthusiastic gardener who also helped with the sweeping and clearing out of the garage (not planning to die Gareth, just essential to be able to make room for the new treasures collected from Albion Road). This took up much of the day, with a breather to watch the best tennis match I have seen in ages between Roger and Novac.

The day was rounded off with a lovely house-warming dinner party at my brother and sister-in-law. Lovely food and company but it was late and left me feeling a bit tender today (the lateness causing the tenderness and not the whole bottle of bubbles I consumed).  However, I was not too tender that I could not make my way to the Apple Store to replace my stolen iPad this morning. Not really fair when you only get paid out R7 300 by your insurance for the iPad and have to pay R8 599 for the new one (and no cover). Then, the irritation of waiting in a queue at Vodacom to change a SIM card (they issued me with the incorrect sized SIM), only to find out that I have to do it at my service provider. Anyway the iPad is now up and running and I am so grateful that all my settings could be retrieved. These machines and stuff in the clouds are very clever.

So this afternoon was spent...

Taking pictures of wine bottles with the iPad for my new newsletter, 

and a bit of fiddling and playing with my new art project
the lounge smells of lacquer thinners which is supposed to transfer the pictures on the paper, sometimes I win, sometimes just an inky blob but it is all in the name of art

I think it is the lacquer thinners that made me thirsty. Thirsty for what? Not feeling much like wine today. What about the bottle Ricard I paid a fortune for the other day?  A bit of background:-

My crazy friend Cheryl (the one in New Zealand, remember?) and her husband have just had a wonderful holiday in Europe. For two months we were entertained with her daily diary. Following their travels, what they were eating and drinking and doing was armchair travel at it's best

" and went through the back street markets, which were busy and bustling and shady
.....filled with ice cream parlours, bakeries, butcheries etc....oh and boring clothing and tourist stuff too.....Stopped for lunch and Pastis, I was having withdrawals by now......and Ian even found a bottle store and bought me my own whole new bottle of blue Pastis. The lady in the bottle store smiled sweetly and said "brave"... Ian smiled sweetly and I left them both with their various dreams. So - more walking back to the hotel via the water fountains, and for a cool shower,for Le lobsters one and two.....and we are off again to see some of the night life of Nice......two pink glow in the dark TOURISTS hahah xxx"  

She is home now but her talk of Pastis got me thinking as the only Pastis I know of is that restaurant in Constantia. Last weekend I found myself in a bottle store - don't have to visit them much anymore as my job has certain "perks". While waiting to get the stuff I had hired, I spied the Pastis and remembered the above picture on Facebook. I had to try it (not the blue one unfortunately). 

That evening I made a jug when my mom, Kathy and Dalene visited (they did not seem too impressed) and a second jug was not needed.

So tonight was the night and, not feeling much like wine, I would experiment with a more refreshing drink.

Definitely an acquired taste (I have just poured my second glass as we "speak"). It numbs your tastebuds (and tongue) but I love the licorice flavour, the clean, herby taste on your palate and the fact that it is not sweet. I also decided to do a little research on the product (in case I was making too strong a mixture) and that perhaps you could mix it with something bubbly.

french estate agentsEnter a French bar anytime after 11am on a Sunday morning and you will be hit by a wave of strong-smelling aniseed which wafts from the Pastis glasses lining the bar. For Pastis is a favourite tipple at apero time for many French people. Drunk with a small dash of water which turns the yellow liquor cloudy, it is popular with both young and old, men and women.

The name pastis comes from the Provencal word pastisson, which means a mixture. And although Pastis producers are extremely guarded about their famous recipe, it is understood to be based on a melange of star anise, licorice and a handful of Provencal herbs.
real estate south of francePastis is a derivative of absinthe, a lethal alcoholic drink made from wormwood as far back as the 18th century. It used to be given to patients suffering from rheumatism and intestinal worms but became a bona fide drink when it was discovered by Frenchman Henri-Louis Pernod in the 19th century.
In 1805 Pernod built a distillery in Pontarlier, near the Swiss border, in which he made copious amounts of absinthe for a growing fan club. Over the next century it became hugley popular, with imbibers claiming that the drink was hallucinogenic. property for sale st paul de venceOne such admirer was Oscar Wilde, who wrote: “The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful, curious things.”
The drink was deemed so dangerous that in 1915, it was banned by the French government. However, less than a decade later politicians caved in, and allowed absinthe-style drinks to be sold as long as they did not contain wormwood.
A number of anise-based drinks began to creep into bars and homes in the south of France, but none had got the recipe quite right, according to one young man in Marseille called Paul Ricard. The 23-year-old man spent months working on a winning formula, adding different ingredients until in 1932, he got it just right.
Ricard, the son of a wine merchant, started marketing his anise-flavoured drink, Pastis, which he called “the true pastis from Marseille”. After several run-ins with the authorities he was given the right to make and sell the drink in 1938.
In 1951 Pernod launched a counter attack, bringing out his own version of the anise drink which he called Pastis 51. Pernod and Ricard then joined together in 1974 to create the world’s second largest drinks company.
Pastis is now the second most popular drink in France after wine, especially amongst people living in the south, from where it originated.

Seems like I am adding too much water and Oh my word - Absinthe!!

"Compared to other spirits, absinthe is as unique as they come. Absinthe may not have the same effects as certain illegal drugs, but it definitely awakens the senses in a way that no other alcohol truly can. As you sip your absinthe, try listening to a favorite song, or looking through a photo-book. We suspect that the increased sensory awareness – the only true and common effect of absinthe we know of – is what made the drink a hit with artists such as Van Gogh, Hemingway, Rimbaud, and many others (though we don’t believe Van Gogh lost his ear due to an absinthe binge!)

Absinthe need not remain a mystery to you. The experience of preparing, pouring, and drinking absinthe is difficult to describe without resorting to extravagant language, and so we recommend that you see for yourself what all the fuss is about."

So here I sit, busy deciding whether another drink is in order, while writing my newsletter and this blog and listening and singing along to an old Crowded House CD. 

Watch out Hemingway and Picasso (and Edith Piaf), I can multi-task!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

life is like a box of chocolates (or an ice-cream cone)

I have been looking for something to help me get back in the groove to blog again. I miss it. I miss the interaction. I miss looking for things and writing down little bits on pieces of paper here and there. I miss not having a record of what is happening around me of I am thinking, doing, what music I am listening to and what books I have to read.

No promises but taking little steps to getting back on the blogging wagon.  After all, every child hates to disappoint their parents.  My mother checks my blog every night, to no avail, so also for you Mom.

Reading this late the other night was exactly what I was looking for. 

Life, for the most part, inevitably becomes routine, 
the random confluence of timing and fortune that configures its components all but forgotten. 
But every so often, I catch a glimpse of my life out of the corner of my eye, 
and am rendered breathless by it.

Jonathan Tropper, Everything Changes

Sorry if I still seem to be stuck on the rollercoaster theme but this is exactly what 2014 is proving to be.  

As you get older do you become more accepting of death? When you are close to death and suffering does it make it easier?

How can someone be here one day and the next day gone and nothing stops for a minute?

Death and dying have been on my mind. Not in a morbid way - almost in a good way as I try to make sense of what life is all about. I always imagined for myself a slightly dramatic death (a bit like Steel Magnolias).  With time to tell everybody I loved them, notes to leave behind, make a patchwork quilt, have my cupboards all tidy, garage cleared of collectables that are only precious to me - that kind of thing.  

In the last couple of months I have witnessed my step-dad dying after a year of illness. He was luckier than some but had many weeks to agonise and come to accept and be at peace with the fact that he was dying. It did give him time to say goodbyes, for his family and friends to be there for him but what was it like for him? On the other hand on Friday I heard of the death of a good friend of a friend who went off to pay his usual tennis game on Thursday evening and died. Just like that. No time to even worry about the mess in the garage.

“That's the thing about life; everything feels so permanent, but you can disappear in an instant.” 

Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You

“And ice-cream cones,' she says. 'What is it with you and ice-cream cones?'
He licks around the edge of his cone as he considers the question. 
'I guess no one ever eats an ice-cream cone at a funeral, or a fire. The Red Cross doesn't drop ice-cream cones into third-world countries. If you're eating an ice-cream cone, it's just very hard to believe that things have gone completely to shit. That there isn't still hope.” 

Jonathan Tropper, One Last Thing Before I Go

I like this Jonathan Tropper, never heard of him before but have just ordered "This is where I leave you". I will let you know what it is like.

As for now - 30 degrees outside and summer has arrived in Cape Town. I am off to sell wine at a waterpolo tournament but am stopping in at The Creamery on my way for a Cookie Dough cone!!

So through all the sad things and hardships around at the moment, isn't it so amazing that there are still so many things that "render you breathless" and that a simple thing like an ice-cream cone is good for your soul.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

this wonderful roller coaster we call life

Oh well, these things happen. You spend hours on your iPad using the Blogger App which you have downloaded, write what you think is one of your best blogs this year (OK there have not been many this year), get a blue screen and suddenly the whole lot has gone.  Damn, bugger!!

So I have moved to the cold study and will attempt to put together my thoughts and writings of the last two hours (this after two wine glasses full of Old Brown Sherry).  It is cold in Cape Town tonight.

The last couple of weeks have felt like being on a roller coaster. 

The down run - Missing my children.  One was far away for a few weeks and is now home, one is far away (but not too far away) and the other is very far away.  The empty nest - Missing their hugs and smell of them and feeding them.  The irritation of time differences and never getting it right unless I have a sleepless night and am awake for an online chat at 1.30 in the morning.

The up run - Knowing that they are confident and happy and starting out their new careers.  Knowing that a Sunday phone call, FaceTime chat or some text messages can allow you to get back to where you were and make things better.  Knowing that Christmas will be here before you know it and they will be home (for a bit), the fridge will be full, the house noisy and wet towels on the floor.

The down run - My bestest friend had surgery for breast cancer two months ago and is now having chemotherapy.  Spending time in the chemo ward with her and seeing how many people are going through rough times and how much suffering is around.

The up run - Her positive attitude, sense of humour and strength. Speaking to strangers, listening to their stories and knowing that with our friends even a traumatic trip to a hairdresser to have your head shaved and be fitted for a wig can be a new and fun experience. Watching the concern, care and love that her boys have for her.

The down run - A beautiful funeral this week of a warm and colourful character.  Sitting at the funeral feeling guilty that I had not seen her for months although I knew she was not doing well.  Listening to all the suffering that she endured without complaint.  Feeling sad that I did not make an effort to know her better.

The up run - Singing "How Great thou Art" with gusto (because I was not sitting with anyone I knew).  Afterwards having a drink at the funeral and seeing friends I had not seen for ages, listening to stories. Through her hardships she was always smiling and positive.  She was generous and kind and it was a life well lived.  

The down run - My step-dad, who 20 months ago and aged 73 was foofie-sliding across a dam at Christmas in 2012.  He was strong and as brave and daring as the younger crowd, and infallible.  A year later, a cancer diagnosis was devastating news but with a strong will, following a strict diet and aggressive chemotherapy he was not going to succumb.  How things can change in a week, a bad back, more tests, more cancer and things are not looking positive.  For the first time he is not positive.  He is still strong and brave and daring but I think his body is tired.

Watching my mother - Trying to be strong but crumbling inside.  It is not fair that this is the second time she is going through this ordeal.

What do you say?  What do you do? How can you help?

The up run - The upside of family sadness is having the family together. Siblings reuniting, Rob meeting his special baby granddaughter for the first time, hugs and love to share and stories to tell.

Watching my mother finding her strength to be brave and strong. Seeing the love and support she has from family, friends and the local community.

The down run - Earlier in the month it was the anniversary of the death of a special friend.  This Saturday coming would be her 60th birthday.  How unfair that she will not know her new grandchildren.  How unfair she died so young. How unfair she will not have a big party, with friends and family and a table laden with cheeses and breads and a kitchen filled with steam and ginger and chili soup and all our children dancing together and singing and shouting out the words to "Mr Jones"

The up side - Her death brought me new friendships and an appreciation of life.  It has taught me that life can be short, is always precious and that if you are a warm and loving person your friends will remember you forever and celebrate your birthday with bubbles and love.

That one day this will all make sense.

The down runs on this roller coaster seem so much heavier than the up runs. It is just the way things are at the moment.  Planes have been shot down and innocent people killed.  Michael has a younger cousin in the UK with terminal brain cancer.  A war is raging in the Middle East. Children are being killed in hijackings, by gangs and by war.

Yet through this all there is so still so much lightness and so much to appreciate and be grateful for.    

Our beautiful country and this city and the pleasure of looking at our mountain everyday; 

Reading my friend Cheryl's daily diary of her and her husband's adventures through Europe at the moment, gives me much joy (and jealousy and makes me miss her so much); 

The excitement of Amy's matric dance in 10 days time - the final touches to her beautiful dress, the planning (the hair and make-up and nails), the before party and everything that makes you wish you were 17 again; 

Our art classes each week where for a couple of hours we drink wine and chat and have quiet times to draw and shade and colour, get to know each other and realise that we are all in the same boat.  This is that age where parents get ill and die, partners and friends also get ill and face challenges, children leave town and for all those years that you thought you could not draw, you were actually wrong.  You just had the wrong teacher and did not look at things properly.

It's all in the way you look at things.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

odds and sods

Sharing some pictures and things that have made me smile, made me proud, happy, sad but generally just so happy to be alive and apart of this lovely world:-

1. Wonderful morning breakfast

How could I have ever forgotten about Anchovy Toast?  My new best breakfast.  Nothing better after my morning walk than piping hot tea (very weak) and anchovy toast on hot buttered toast (preferably Woolworth's Thick Slice)

2.  Wonderful Thursday entertainment

Special times on Thursday nights with lovely company, an inspiring teacher, times to be quiet and times to chat.  A lot to learn but growing in confidence and pretty proud of my first experiment with coloured pencils

Actually supposed to look like this:-

Maybe I should stick to pencil

3.  Wonderful Sunday entertainment

It has been a long time since I enjoyed a match as much as Sunday's final. Only problem was that although I was shouting for Federer, Djokovic had been my favourite in all other matches (except when he plays Federer).  So for me it was basically a win/win situation and I should not complain, but the passion was not really there.  The last time I remember being glued to every ball of a match was the John McEnroe / Bjorn Bjorn final in 1980, I think.  I remember being the only McEnroe supporter in the rowdy room where we watched and we had to have the SABC break for the news at the most crucial moment.

Did you see this picture?  Boris and Stefan - Wimbledon finalists for 3 consecutive years (1988, 89 and 90) - now the coaches of Djokovic and Federer.  Looking at Boris I wonder if it is the "good life" or a rough life that has made him age like he has.

4.  A Wonderful site to follow - website or Facebook page. 

Everyday there is a new photograph taken by this photographer of ordinary New Yorkers.  He manages to capture their lives in a picture and a written paragraph or two.  It always gets me thinking, it appeals to the voyeur in me and also lets me make up my own stories about the subject in my head. Don't get involved in the comments made though (they can be upsetting).
"We're getting divorced because we love each other, and we both realize that we don't have enough of what the other needs. When we decided to get divorced, I wrote a note with all the things I loved about her, and gave it to her. She got very emotional and started crying. Then three days later, she wrote me a similar note. But here's the thing--- she wrote it on the back of a recycled piece of paper. She wrote it on the back of an advertisement or something. So I called her out on it. And she said: 'I knew you were going to bring that up. If you cared, you wouldn't mind what it was written on.' And I said: 'Well, if you cared, you'd have gotten a fresh piece of paper.'"

I have been thinking about this photograph and story the whole day, the sadness of why he is getting divorced when they still love each other and that whole relationship in the end is rocked because of a piece of paper.  It is pretty deep and the fact that she knew it would upset him before she wrote on it, says the most to me.  I need to know more (I think the "chop" is probably messaging his girlfriend in Miami to say that he is on his way).  Is recycling a reason for divorce?

5.  A wonderful thing to do and so many streams around our neighbourhood at the moment

5.  Wonderful insight

Middle son, Nic wrote this very poignant piece.  Tender, funny, strong and honest.  It brought a tear (or six) to my eye.

Friday, 27 June 2014

it's been awhile

No blogging for ages and once again, not to make excuses but put all this together - enough work to keep me nicely busy but not that busy that we could not take an extra long weekend and have an awesome time at Fancourt with friends at the start of the month; then a tad of winter hibernation, lots of food and fires; together with a good balance of time with family and friends; fun times at birthday parties;  a few sneaky black and bitter americano's at various coffee shops in the neighbourhood; many wonderful early morning winter walks; a few mountain trails and exploring the Green Belt with Alfie; special times with lovely ladies in our weekly art class class and then stealing time on my own to experiment with pencils and shadows; bottles of wine and chili Old Brown; a love affair with a spunky Boston Terrier (Alfie) who has been my travelling companion this week and lastly not forgetting meeting two special little girls, getting to know them (even a feed in between) and taking them along with us, in pouches, on our morning walks

In words that about sums up the lovely time I have had this June

Some think I am crazy but I love winter!

Now the pictures

Fancourt at it's best

Beautiful weather and amazing skies

The spa to ourselves
Drive home through the Tradouw Pass

Soups and Stews

Sharpening our pencils

Walks with Alfie - How can you not just love him?
Drinks with the girls - How can you not just love them?
First people on the Boomslang this particular morning

Wine Delivery Dogs - my first "Salfie"
How precious? 8 weeks old, identical little girls
It comes back pretty quickly
Thanks for sharing Didi xx