"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"

Saturday, 25 January 2014

just a normal friday walk

I set off on Friday morning for my usual walk at 7.30.  I have a new Sports Tracker phone app which measures the distance that Fay and I walk.  I leave home, pick up Fay along the way and we walk for about 1 hour 45 minutes. I set the phone and off I went, met up with Fay at the bottom of the road and we had our usual good neighbourhood walk (and chat).  After saying goodbye to Fay, I checked the timer and we had walked slightly shorter than usual so I took a longer route back home.  As I approached home, my "over the road" neighbour was getting out of his car.  Usually he drives into the driveway and that is where we usually see each other but today he had parked around the corner at the front door.  A brief wave and hello as we enter or exit our properties is as far as our good neighbourliness extends.  I don't know his name and we have never said anything more that "Hello", "Nice and hot (very wet/cold/windy) today".  His daughter and her son had lived there previously but his daughter was now overseas.  I knew this from another neighbour who had told me that they were her parents who were looking after the house.

I walked past his car as he was getting out and said "Hi there, how are you today?", expecting nothing more than a "Fine thank you, beautiful day" reply. Well this dear man, got out of his car and his legs buckled against the side of the car. He started crying and told me that it was a really bad day and that he was just so very sad. The only thing that I could think of to do was to give him a hug and ask him what was wrong.  My immediate thought was that his wife was ill.  Between sobs he told me that this grandson had been killed. Crossing Kloof Street, he was hit by a car on Tuesday night, he had died on Thursday.  His daughter and the mother of the child was arriving from California at lunchtime.  I listened to the details for about 10 minutes on the pavement and then he asked me my name, introduced himself as Stephen and asked me please to come inside.  He had pictures to show me and the hymn sheet that they were preparing for the memorial.  I went inside and listened while he cried, questioned God and told me stories about this vibrant 23 year old young man.  I could not help crying a bit too.  He took three phone calls while I was there and apologised afterwards.  He handled these calls so well, even although there were tears streaming down his face.  He was dreading his trip to the airport and did not know how he was going to handle seeing his daughter, he could not speak to his wife as they were too raw and sore and she just lay on her bed and sobbed.  

I stood and listened and soon it was time for him to leave to go and fetch his wife.  This usually dapper and sprightly man was so much smaller and shorter and crumpled with sadness.

I said goodbye, gave him another hug, wished him strength for his trip to the airport and headed to my front door.  As I got to the door I remembered my phone and the Sports Tracker app that was still running.  9.75km in 2hrs 25mins - not the best time recorded on my phone for 9 kms.  It was about 40 minutes spent sharing something so heartfelt with a stranger.  40 special minutes which made me realise that we know so little about the people who live so close to us, behind the walls we go about our lives not knowing what sadness is within or what wonderful people live behind those walls. I also remembered the feeling, like I have had before, that when someone close to you dies you expect the world to stop, even for a short while to acknowledge your loss, but it does not.  Things carry on, the painters at the house next door carry on painting, people take their dogs for a walk, the clock keeps ticking.

I felt honoured that it was me with whom he chose to share his grief. Today as I see so many cars arriving with streams of people going in and out of their house, I hope that he is coping, that he is OK and that he too is getting lots of hugs.

I also know that our "Hello. Nice day today" words with a wave, through our driveway gates will never be quite the same again.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

bits and bobs

It has been a good and relatively quiet week for me although filled with admin and getting Albion Road cleared for the next lot of tenants.

On Tuesday I got myself an iPad Air - tired of being the only one without one and now that I have one, I am thinking that it is not too different from my iPhone, I cannot type that quickly on it (after one try at writing this blog on the iPad, I am now back at my computer) and I have a bit of buyers remorse that it is an extravagance.  But I have it, there are some wonderful apps that I have loaded and I must make the effort to make it work for me.  The camera is wonderful although I do agree with Gareth that you do look like a "chop" walking around taking pictures with an iPad.  So I made sure that I was on my own yesterday when I pranced around the garden taking pictures of my handiwork using an iPad as a camera.

My first pictures:-

 A beautiful posy waiting on my doorstep on Friday from Storm
She had returned the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh to me
with the posy to say thank you

Hydrangea - Dispassion / Objectivity
Lisianthus - Appreciation
Olive - Peace

How did she know? Three qualities that I need for the coming week.  Storm has a gift with flowers and that is why I insisted she read the book.  I am not sure whether she made this posy for me with the meanings in mind - probably not - but I felt the need to look up the meaning of the flowers in the posy and they seemed spot on.

Here is the complete list for those who are inquisitive.  Read the book too if you have not, it is great.

 Bed cleared out, composted and changed around a bit
When I took this picture I thought of my art teacher who has a knack of capturing beautiful pictures on the ground.  
I am inclined to have my eyes
in the clouds and forget about the beauty on the ground

Then, just as I thought I was getting on top of things with the iPad there was this article doing the rounds of Facebook yesterday. I had to spend some time trying a couple of them.  Last night during my early morning wakeful hours, I managed to change the colour of the screen to black with white writing.  All very well not to disturb Michael with the light from the screen, but I will need to get new glasses as I cannot read the white print without straining my eyes. 

Taking a "selfie" with the earphones?  Just crazy.

A lovely new song

A quote for the week which together with
being objective, appreciative and full of peace could prove to
be quite a challenge

One can only try!!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

a nostalgic half hour in the hot summer sun

I had a few errands to run for Nic yesterday morning (one day soon he will be able to pay me for these secretarial services). There were documents to be collected from UCT and couriered up to him in Pretoria and physio rehab equipment to be returned to the Sports Centre at UCT.  As I headed up the hill towards to law faculty on middle campus I realised that this was probably the last time I would have any reason to be here. Over the last couple of months I have done lifts up and down more times than ever before in my life, so everything is now very comfortable and familiar. I even know the ground staff.  I collected Nic's testimonial from the office and took a walk around the almost deserted campus.  It was only 8.45 but already hot.

Then to Upper Campus to the Sports Centre.  There was much activity on the Green Mile - fields were being mowed for the start of the Varsity Cup.  I took another walk in the hot sun to take a few pictures and admire the beauty of the UCT campus.

I thought of all the good times spent on the side of these fields going way back to my teenage "groupie" years, then to watching all three of my boys playing on the muddy fields, the hours spent braving the icy cold winds and winter rain, sipping Old Brown Sherry under blankets and the exciting Monday evenings, beginning in February every year, when Matthew played in the Varsity Cup competitions.  Wonderful times and great memories.

The most beautiful university in the world

I drove away, a little sad and thought that although it was now the end of an era for me and my family, Cecil John Rhodes and his legacy will live on regardless.  There are new chapters opening in all of our lives.  Things have that way of moving on.  There is no rewind button but that half hour of nostalgia, on my own, in the hot sun was good for my soul.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

photos and memories

I have been trying to sort out some bookshelves this week to make space for books that have been stored at Albion Road.  Cleaning and sorting always takes much longer for me and I realise now why I do not do it as often as I should. It takes me on a completely different path and opens so many cans of worms.  On the one bookshelf I found a box of old photographs.  I had to take a picture and forward one to Kathy yesterday and after doing that, I thought "Something in here for a blog?".  A short blog where every picture tells a story (bear/bare with me though, nothing is brief with me)

This one started it all:-

Kathy and Vaughan in Plettenberg Bay

This picture was probably taken 20 years ago.   Vaughan died about 16 years ago.  This picture brought back so many memories.  I love the way they look like brother and sister and their poses are exactly the same.  I remember this old house we rented so clearly - an old double story on Central Beach. It was only supposed to sleep 6 or 8 but in true style we ended up with about 20 people for the Knysna Half Marathon sleeping wherever they could find a corner.  Tents in the garden and thank goodness for an outside dormitory type room where the many children set up camp. This was the morning we were supposed to be packing up to leave.  We had had a really big party the night before.  Vaughan was so much a part of this time of our lives.  His energy and enthusiasm were contagious (although you would not say from this picture). He built amazing sandcastles and dug trenches with the boys, he made jugs of amazing cocktails and fed us hangover breakfasts of toast, raw egg yolk, onion rings and cavier. He introduced me to Van Morrison. I miss him.

Boys and my Grandpa Carlson

This was Nic's 4th birthday (actually I see the candles in the background now and it was probably Matthew's 3rd birthday!!).  My grandpa was a lovely old man who never showed much affection when I was young.  I remember kissing him and he would always give me his cheek with his tongue marking the spot where the kiss should land.  He loved my boys and was very involved when they were little, even looking after Gareth one morning a week when I was pregnant with Nicholas.  He loved to come and visit me in the mornings and play a bit of soccer or cricket with them on the lawn.  This was probably the last picture I have with him and all three boys.  He died about 2 years later. A special man

A collage of fun with Nicky

This was made for me after her death by her daughter, Chantal.  Each picture has a whole story to it and brought back floods of good memories.  I think of her everyday, I see ladies in supermarkets with hair like her or a scarf like her but it is never her.  I often think "What would Nicky think about this? Where is Nicky today when I need her?".  The "Peace in the Home" she planted in my garden continues to grow and has spread into the lawn and made a thick carpet.  Her spirit continues to shine and even more so now in the two precious babies that Chantal and Werner are expecting soon.  The most special friend ever.

And on a happier note.  I love this picture.

Tom and Dalene

My little sister and Tom are about to break all family records.  Married for 30 years on Monday. Marriage is never easy and theirs has been no different except that they have supported each other loyally and have stuck together through some pretty rough times.  I am so proud of them and the lovely daughters they have produced who are growing into wonderful young ladies with strong opinions and morals.

So tonight I am having a dinner party for the family.  We have quite a lot to celebrate.  My brother and Lucie are back from the UK where they spent Christmas and New Year, Gareth, Lucie and Rob have had birthdays in December and January which have not been celebrated properly, Steve and Caroline announced their engagement on New Year's eve and then the 30th wedding anniversary. Dalene is expecting Lesley and I to dress in our bridesmaid dresses.  This is the closest she is going to get!!

January 1984

Best I leave blogging now and start getting organised for tonight.  17 people for supper.  Any ideas on what to cook Nix?  I have a song though.

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance

With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the nights magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

Can I just have one a more moondance with you, my love
Can I just make some more romance with a-you, my love

Well, I wanna make love to you tonight
I can't wait 'til the morning has come
And I know that the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
And when you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone
There and then all my dreams will come true, dear
There and then I will make you my own
And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can't hide


Repeat 1st verse

One more moondance with you in the moonlight
On a magic night
La, la, la, la in the moonlight
On a magic night
Can't I just have one more dance with you my love

Friday, 3 January 2014

home for the holidays

Holiday time...

A couple of early morning swims in the sea (thanks for the tip re Dalebrooke Ellen and Biddy - it is awesome);

up at 6.30 one morning and still watering the garden in PJ's at 11 the next morning; catching on to Twitter (but not tweeting) and stalking on Instagram (except I cannot enlarge the pictures - why Gareth?); loving taking pictures on my iPhone and have downloaded some great "apps";  starting to spring clean in different places and not finishing one job properly (oh how I miss Albertina and another 2 weeks to go!!);  taking decorations off the tree (I don't think I am going to pack the tree away though, it looks so good on our table)

time in the garden, nothing too energetic but loving the greenery 

and a splash of colour

finished reading two books in a week - The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and my first Harlan Coben and thoroughly enjoyed it; 

which book next?;  afternoon sleeps and hot sleepless nights with cold showers at 4am; birthday parties, dinner parties - lots of wine; catching up on other blogs and enjoying holiday pictures of friends on Facebook

Staying home for the holidays is not a bad thing

Some other things to share:-

You must read and look at these photographs - so sad but too beautiful. 

Then read the original blog post by Ali's sister here.

This movie trailer looks pretty awesome.  Not sure when it is coming to South Africa though

and I wish these guys would come and sing and dance on my table - tonight!!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

lets start at the very beginning...

Happy New Year 

I am starting off the year on a good note with a blog post. I am surprised to see how many of you have stuck around and still read Just Stuff although sometimes weeks have gone by with not a peep from me.  I am going to be trying to be a more diligent blogger.

If I have any resolutions for 2014, this year I would....

like to spend more time writing and reading
keep up the walking and fitness - strong is the new thin, remember?
communicate better with faraway family and friends
and if I can't travel to new countries and places, pretend to be a tourist in Cape Town, explore our beautiful city and province, visit new places, take public transport, walk new routes and generally learn more about our country

On the subject of resolutions, some sensible stuff

some more creative stuff

and on a more practical note

Our house is now empty, the fridge is full and there are no boys to empty it. The coffee cups are in the cupboard and not on the floor next to the beds and the water bottles are filled and in the fridge. There is so much to be done around the house but I need to adjust to this new quietness.  It was hard saying goodbye to Nic and Matthew - it always is.  I am getting pretty good at putting things aside though and keep reminding myself that it is silly to get upset over things you cannot change, that this is an exciting time in both of their lives, that I am lucky to still have Gareth close by and that they will always come home and there will always be a bed for them. Best I change the sheets!!

It has been a good Christmas season and an emotional one. Lots of fun and laughter and also sad tears for the end of certain chapters in our lives and happy tears for new beginnings.

I hope that the new year is going to be good for all of us.