"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"

Thursday, 29 May 2014

singing and drawing and other lessons

The one event that stands out above even beating Richard de Vink in a fist fight at junior school is the day that Mrs van Oordt threw me out of the choir. It was a cruel action that has haunted me my whole life.  I love music and I love to sing.  I know all words to so many songs but since that one event I think of her every time I open my mouth to sing (which only happens in the car or shower and when I am on my own).  I even lip synch "Happy Birthday" at birthday parties.

I saw Mrs van Oordt not too long ago, playing the piano at my nieces ballet exam.  I was so tempted to go and greet her - she was a great class teacher, strict but good.  I was tempted to introduce myself as the girl who she singled out amongst the entire choir as the one who was "off key and messing up every song", the one who she could "not understand how I managed to get there in the first place".  She made me leave the hall and sit outside in the corridor until practice was over and my mom came to collect us.

So that was my singing career. Perhaps she really did all my family and friends a great favour but I will never forget that day.

Art was a similar thing, not that I was ever thrown out of a class.  Art is something that you judged yourself against others.  I happened to have Jennifer Fenton sitting next to me and she could draw.  Mick Jordaan could draw.  I could not draw so drawing was also something that I never pursued until last year.

A walk in Kirstenbosch with my friend Annie, exchanging our bucket list wishes and a few ideas and we soon had a group of 10 friends signed up to have art lessons around my table one night a week.  

The second course is almost finished and it is amazing to see how one teacher, sharing her knowledge, offering guidance and encouragement but never judging or criticising has got the entire group to believe in themselves. It has been harder trying to convince one particularly self-critical pupil in the class but last week I almost had a tear in my eye when I saw the pride in this "very self-critical" pupil's face when we all admired her very fine effort and, amazingly, she too saw the beauty in it.

We can all now appreciate what art is all about.  There is no right or wrong and we have all developed our own style. Everybody can draw. Dalene asked me the other evening if I had seen the look of surprise on Annie's face when I had made a comment about "Matisse's self portrait being pretty average (actually I used that three lettered Afrikaans word*)".  I was probably getting a bit ahead of myself and not fully appreciating the beauty of his work. I am still not convinced.

It wasn't this one though - (similar)

We will be starting a third course soon and I hope that this is something that we can continue to do and grow with as group for a long time.

I also hope the girls are not going to be cross (or ask me for royalties) because I have taken the liberty to share some of our art. 

It is good to feel vulnerable sometimes girls and I am brave, so here are some of the mandalas we are working on at the moment.  Still "work in progress" and lots of filling in and shading to be done.

Quick quiz - Besides the pretty average* self-portrait, can you spot the other Matisse in amongst our "real art"?

Well done girls.  Anyone wanting to put pencil to paper, form a group to share in this wonderful activity or have access to a studio of sorts, please let me know.  It is a wonderful, therapeutic and energising way to spend a couple of hours and Annie is just the best teacher ever.

AND... anyone know of a compassionate singing teacher or are there some things that are a gift and can never be taught?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

a strange thing happened on the way from the hospital today....

I struggle with titles to blog posts and for this time I am still undecided as four titles sprung immediately to mind:-

1. How not to win friends and gain a new customers
2. How not to spend a half hour of free time
3. Do these caterpillars above my eyes scare you?

I visited a friend in hospital this morning, taking along two takeaway caffeine fixes .  I bought an extra treat of two muffins. The worst bran muffins ever made.  Obviously for the "no sugar" brigade but a huge, beautiful looking, dry, choc-a-block full of bran and bicarbonate soda with no flavor at all.  Awful.   It was a good visit and we had a few laughs, discussed the other patients in the ward and before the doctor arrived again, I left her in peace, hoping that the one bite of bran muffin she had would at least be good for something.

I had walked to the hospital, my car being in the garage for a service.  The walk took me on a journey passed a "beauty salon" and, having a bit of time on my hands before I could collect my borrowed car, I thought it would be a good time to see if someone could maybe shape my eyebrows.  Plucking eyebrows was a gift, taken for granted for so many years.  It was something I could do while stuck in traffic using the rear view mirror. Not anymore. Glasses and a magnifying mirror and I still cannot do it.  So for the last couple of years the R40 spent for a brow shaping is money well spent.

Not today.

Esme at Beauty Express had a slot for me.  Lucky day. I decided at the last minute to go the whole hog and have my eyelashes and brows tinted at the same time.  

I should have realized I was in for a tough time when Esme made the first rudish comment while patting down those half-moon cotton wool pads under my eyes.  "Do you have a problem with puffiness?" she said patting them down with slightly more force than the first seven pats.  These cotton pads were obviously not staying in the correct position. "Not really, I do have some allergies at the moment" I lied (are my eyes that puffy, I slept pretty well last night, I thought to myself (encouragingly)).

"What colour?", she asked bluntly. "Black for eyelashes and eyebrows slightly darker?", I replied politely. "Slightly darker than black?" she asked (matter of factly).  "We have black-black". "Heavens NO", I retorted.  "Just slightly darker than they are now".  She mumbled something.

Anyway she fiddled around, painted on the hot wax and generally took her time.  My borrowed car was now waiting for me.  My eyes started to itch, water and burn. Eventually they were cleaned and bathed.  Lying down, with my hair in a towel, she held the magnifying mirror in front of my face. 

Oh my word. Scary eyebrows (as close to black as can be), eyes blood red and watering, make-up all washed off.  Not a pretty sight.  Thank goodness for the fringe (pity I cut it on Sunday).  What is my mother going to say?  She always notices eyebrows and has been known to scold Dalene from across a crowded room about her eyebrows!!

Esme looked worried.  Tears were rolling down my cheeks, I was looking for eyedrops in my handbag.  She asked me if I was happy.  What could I say? "Yes - just allergies", I replied (lied) (again).  Then she hit me with a double whammy.

"I have noticed you have some broken veins and open pores on your nose" - she should tread lightly here.  Puffy eyes, broken veins and open pores actually have nothing on the hairy caterpillars you have just given me above my eyes.  I was now not sure if the tears were from the dye or unhappiness.

Suddenly, from behind her, she produced this little tube of Clarins Broken Vein, Open Pore and Under Eye Puffiness Miracle Cream for Mature Skins.  I asked for a tissue, dabbed my tears and said "Maybe next time", paid the bill and slunked out the door, perching my sunglasses as high on the bridge of my nose as it would go.

I was dying to tell Gill the story but the reception office was full.  Michael looked at me strangely but said nothing.  Ellen came in, looked at me sympathetically and probably thought I had been crying.  I had left my makeup at home as well.

Ok, how was your morning?

It is a beautiful day in Cape Town today.  See you next month Mum!

Monday, 19 May 2014

things i like, did and didn't do this week

A good and busy week is over and another one looms.  The Wine Time website is up and running (thanks to Gareth).  Lots of positive feedback and best of all, new customers and wine orders.  If you have not already seen it, please take a look - wow.winetimeonline.co.za

"I likes" from last week:-

Having Nic home for two weeks.  Unfortunately he is back in Pretoria this morning.  Taking him through to town every morning gave me the opportunity to collect Alfie and take him for a walk most days (my walking partner is still away on "Granny" duty).

A 9km walk along the Sea Point beachfront to the Waterfront and back

Art classes have resumed.  A wonderful way to spend a Thursday evening with some lovely ladies, an inspiring art teacher and a glass or two of wine.  This second course is so inspiring as we are all over the "I cannot draw" stage, we can appreciate what we are learning and producing and appreciating that everyone has their own style and creative side.  We are working on a mandala at the moment.  Not knowing what a mandala was when I started, Annie's explanation and some investigation on Google, explained it nicely:-

The word "mandala" is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle," a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.

Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.

A mandala is...
An integrated structure 
organized around a 
unifying center

Work in progress - lots of shading and detail to be filled in

This tweet, which Nic re-tweeted, gave me goosebumps.  Two great Rondebosch boys (and rugby players), friends and housemates and now playing Super 15 rugby against each other.  

Despite what you all may think, sport isn't about results, trophies or stats. It's about moments like this

Caroline had a birthday party on Saturday night - late and fun with a couple of chocolate vodka's involved. My punishment - having to get up at 5.30 to get Nic to the airport!!

Love this

To finish off the week a Sunday in the sun watching Tom and Gareth playing bowls.  They did really well and got through to the playoffs (but then lost). Who would have thought that watching bowls could be so entertaining.

 The "Didn't's"

Sort out my wardrobe and unpack my winter clothes
Wash my car
Plant my new seedlings (all starting to dry out)
Re-arrange my bathroom to accommodate the new baskets I have bought
See a movie
Watch last week's episode of Fargo (Are you watching it? Offbeat but addictive)
Eat sushi
Find even one of my wedding photographs.  There were not many, and not even one of Michael and myself. My brother has some video footage which he has converted to digital so wants to include some pictures.  The problem with having your photographs on computers (some of which crash) and disks and not being organised.

Always next weekend but the urge for some sushi is great.

Monday, 12 May 2014

wacky weekend

Every picture tells a story.  A couple of busy days - trying to fit in three celebrations into one afternoon proved a little difficult, but I did it.  Missed out on the fourth though - Kitchen Karnage at Kathy (maybe not a bad thing as I was a whole lot stronger than the rest of the gang yesterday).  

Good times and pictures too good not to share.

Birthday girl at Barristers (The first session before things got messy)
I await pictures of the rest

Then off to a High Tea in the most perfect setting...

plenty cupcakes...

Actually, plenty of cakes, pops, sandwiches and tarts (a chocolate salted caramel tart that is still on my mind)...

the magnificent birthday cake...

the wise birthday girl's wonderful choice of champagne (available from the equally wonderful company called Wine Time)

and there were more roses and more cake pops

and much more...So sorry not to have taken pictures of the "savoury" table but I did not spend much time there.

Then Mother's Day celebrations yesterday

The mother and matriach, her children and a scarf to match the begonias

"No favourites!!"

My walking friend is away at the moment but luckily I have Alfie for company (not quite as talkative but also pretty entertaining). I have been driving Nic through to town for lectures early in the morning and on the way I "dognap" my new best friend. Today I needed some hills, so we did a neighbourhood walk around the Oranjezicht / Vredehoek / Higgovale (never know exactly where each suburbs starts and ends)

Autumn at it's best
Nearly at the top of the hill
Almost as well co-ordinated as my mother's scarf and the begonias
City coming to life
Gardens to delight
A stately Herbert Baker

next door to concrete, glass and steel
and a welcoming red door

A lovely adventure and so good to explore a new neighbourhood

Dog tired

Saturday, 10 May 2014

before i get ahead of myself

As a mother and with Mother's Day looming, and before I pat myself on the back too hard, best I digest these words:-

Where I have failed:-

Water on the bathroom floor

What is it about my boys and baths and showers and water on the bathroom floor?  Then I remembered.  I remembered back to Parry Road days when they were still small enough to bath together.  I remember how it was my half hour (maybe an hour) to cook in peace while they filled the bath to the brim, used Shipmate bubbles, huge medical syringes and played until they were shivering and wrinkled.  I remembered the shouts to me of "Towel for Raoul" - There were never towels in the bathroom as they got splashed and squirted upon and everyday they had to be hung out to dry or be washed or both.  So by the time I got to the bathroom with the towels, one, two or maybe even three of them had jumped out and were running down the passage leaving footprints and bubbles on the carpet.

They still love to bath (but not together). To fill the bath to the brim and splash about.  Bathing and flooding I can half understand (the last time I bathed about 4 years ago, I also flooded the bathroom but that was because I don't do it very often and I never quite understood Archimedes and his Displacement Principle (and I probably think I am a whole lot slimmer than I actually am (is there an opposite to anorexia?)).  However, how do you flood a bathroom after a shower?  How do you, at the ages of 26, 28 and 30, still leave footprint puddles all the way to your bedroom?  I should by now have realised that a towel to them is an object used to hide your private parts from your mother.

No cap on the toothpaste

Taps not turned off properly

Not re-filling the water bottles and putting them back in the fridge

Using the bread knife to butter your bread

Leaving cupboard doors open (with the object to hide your winkie hanging over the door)

Small things I know and things that I have stopped moaning about. Things that I thought they would maybe grow out of (especially once they have their own homes).  Small things but things that I am sure one day their partners are going to point fingers at me about.

I am not going to let this spoil my Mother's Day and who the hell is Ann Landers anyway?

Friday, 2 May 2014

today i believe

Number 1 - that my mother was right - never eat a banana or cheese (and especially not both) before going to bed or you will have bad dreams.

After saying goodbye to the "art ladies" last night, I realised that besides a couple of handfuls of nuts and some chips and dip, I had not had any supper. Too late to do anything but I thought I had better not go to bed hungry. A banana and chunk of cheese before brushing my teeth would do the trick. Well blow me down, my mother was right - and, indirectly me too, as I always told the boys not to eat cheese before going to bed because they would have bad dreams (How can you tell your children things without having any proof?). So at 55 years old, I finally had proof. I had nightmares about dragons and spiders, hospitals and drips, bruised zombies chasing me down hospital corridors and a couple of others, featuring an old boyfriend and too scary to mention.

They were "big" dreams

Number 2 - that autumn in Cape Town is definitely my best season.  Clear skies, sharp colours, crisp mornings, warm days and nights not yet cold but delightful to be snuggled under your duvet.

(and, not forgetting the hundreds and thousands of leaves that need to be raked and bagged every day)

Number 3 - that sometimes an impulsive, last minute decision to invite some good friends around for a meal turns into one of the best decisions of the week.

Number 4 - that a walk in Kirstenbosch in autumn is good for the soul

Number 5 - that a change of attitude is sometimes essential to your well-being.  I was stuck in chaotic, noisy traffic on Main Road, Woodstock today. There was no way out and I could not decide which group were the most dangerous, the pedestrians, the taxi drivers or the bus drivers. I was irritable and could feel the pulse beating in my neck. "Silly Girl", I said to myself (sternly). "Why are you acting like them?", I questioned myself (gingerly). Change was needed. I put the music on a bit louder (still acting like them), slowed down and drove like a little old lady going to church on a Sunday morning. I stopped to let pedestrians cross in front of me, I smiled at taxi-drivers and waved them on as they cut in front of me and buses were given as much space as they needed. My neck stopped pulsating, I felt calmer and I got home in one piece in probably exactly the same time. 

Number 6 - that some things you will never be too tired to do. I am forcing myself to stay awake until midnight and playing on the computer to keep alert. It would be so nice to jump into my cosy bed with crisp clean sheets and dream good dreams but I am collecting Nic from the airport on his cheap late night flight. He is home for two weeks to attend some lectures.

"What happens when you blow your nose too hard at altitude"

Number 7 - that tomorrow is going to be awesome too. Special girls, courtyard, sushi and wine (No cheese - It gives you bad dreams!!).

Have a wonderful weekend