"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, 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.