thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

Archive for the tag “Vivienne”

Scenery to fall in love with

I always thought I wanted to live at the coast one day, instead of in land-locked Joburg. Now, I think I was made to breathe near mountains.

At first, though, I wanted to be in the rolling green hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal, somewhere close to Durban and the prettiness of the midlands, although I hadn’t decided exactly where I would plant my feet and declare “This is it! This is home.” I pictured my (not yet born or even on the horizon at the time) children going to the sun-drenched beaches at weekends and becoming lean brown water-borne creatures, comfortable slipping in and out of the blue-green ocean as they snorkelled, surfed and dived.

Then I realised that although KZN tends to have great winters most of the time (warm in comparison to the inland temperatures), the coastline is extremely humid in summer and you spend your life dripping with sweat and battling to keep your bedding crisp and fresh. And I also embarked on a once-off scuba-diving course, when I then remembered about all the big sharks that toothily inhabit the sea, so I decided the (still not born) children didn’t have to become water-borne creatures after all and that perhaps the KZN coastline, as beautiful as it is, wasn’t quite my ideal part of the world – at least not for permanent residence.

Still in pursuit of a dream (“When I grow up I’m going to live in X part of the country”) I have now turned my attentions to the western Cape. This part of the world enticed me after I’d fallen in love with Frank and we’d become an item. For our first Christmas holiday together, we went to the beautiful Paarl, where some of his family live.

The name Paarl comes from the Dutch name for a pearl (‘parel’) and like a pearl, the town and its surrounds are really beautiful. Legend has it that a Dutch explorer in the 17th century arrived in the area during stormy weather. As the sun came out, it glistened on three huge granite outcrops on the mountain looming over the valley below, reminding the Dutchman of diamonds and pearls, and so he admiringly named it ‘The Diamond and Pearl Mountain’. In the fullness of time the diamond part got dropped and the pearl prevailed and so from beneath the ‘Paarl Rock’ grew the town of Paarl.

The pearls of Paarl Rock

Frank unconsciously translates from Afrikaans when he calls it, in English, ‘The Paarl’, adding the definite article in front of it the way that Afrikaners call it ‘Die Paarl’. I think it deserves the honour of having the definite article in front of it in English too.

And so, the beautiful town of the Paarl is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town in the long shadows of the surrounding mountains, nestling in the enfolding wine lands that are around it, above it and even in it. You can’t drive in the vicinity of  the town without passing wine farm after wine farm after wine farm: some rich and resplendent with money and glamour; others smaller and cuter and dripping with character. And characters too, of course: human, canine, equine, bovine and, um, sheep. (What are sheep again?)

I fell in love with all of it – instantly. Frank and I drove from Joburg to Paarl that holiday, a distance across the country of about 1 400 kilometres. We therefore came to the Paarl having first negotiated the long dry flatness of the huge Karoo semi-desert area for more hours than I care to remember. My eyes were sore with the sameness of the Karoo: miles upon miles of (to me) visual boredom that the car just couldn’t quite shake, no matter how fast Frank drove to eat up the flat, dreary landscape.

I am aware that the Karoo has its own admirers who love the place and feel their souls are quenched there in its dryness and its unique semi-desert features, which bloom beautifully and surreally in the spring. Although I would admittedly like to visit in the spring one year, I am not a desert person, and so I felt my own soul start to perk up considerably when the scenery finally, bit by bit, started to change again.

Slowly, imperceptibly, the land morphed into something once more appealing.

Slowly the horizon grew a significant hill or two.

Slowly you saw signs of water that had arrived and then stayed to nurture the plants and coax the earth out of its dull palette of browns and greys.

By the time we drove through the Hex River Valley I was overwhelmed with the sensation that the world had exploded back to life. Ponds, dams, fruit farms and vineyards: all made bright patchworks of colour in the valley and up the enclosing mountain slopes before the gradient got too steep and the vegetation gave way to purple distance.

A valley exploding with life

I felt that I was home. I felt I was breathing air that had been waiting for me, ready to nurture my body and my spirit. We stayed for three blissful, soul-renewing weeks and everywhere we went in this amazing part of South Africa, we seemed to drive through beauty.

Then reality beckoned us back home and back to work.

Today, Frank and I live with our two boys in Johannesburg, one of the main economic hubs of South Africa. For now our jobs keep us here and we live in ‘the house that sang to me’ as I drove past it one day.

We love our house. We are really lucky with its unique vista, overlooking as it does one of the two Melville ‘koppies’ (hills), which are essentially unchanged since the days of iron age man. The east Melville koppie is a closed-off nature reserve and the west Melville koppie, which forms part of our view – the children call it ‘our mountain’ – is home on Sundays to a religious sect, who arrive in their blue, green and white robes and set the mini-mountain alive with their open air singing and the throbbing of distant drums.

'Our mountain'

To maximise the view of ‘our mountain’ and our exposure to the sky, Frank has built a deck in the back garden, above our storeroom (yes, he really did build it himself, plank by laborious plank). Here we like to sit for sundowners at weekends and on public holidays when the weather is kind. To our north lies the beautiful park surrounding Emmarentia Dam, where we walk sometimes with the boys and the dog, and to our west lies the Westdene Dam, where we also visit occasionally, although we usually find a bigger attraction en route in the glasses of good wine waiting for us at the cosy restaurant of ‘Tosca del Sol’.

In front of ‘our mountain’, flanking it as it runs west to east, is a long, thin valley and riding the thermals of the valley air we sometimes see the white flocks of sacred ibis on their travels. At other times, if we are lucky, they actually fly over our heads as we sit on our deck, astonishing us with the utter silence of their wings, which in flight are almost as quiet as an owl’s. At these moments, just sitting on our deck between earth and sky is like a benediction.

Flying soundlessly overhead like a blessing

My parents live just on the other side of ‘our mountain’, about five kilometres as the crow flies. My mom (sometimes aided by my dad, and sometimes apparently hindered) looks after the children in the afternoons until I fetch them once I’ve finished work. Most days, I’m happy to report, my parents are smiling when I fetch the boys and I hear tales of the funny things that were said and done. Sometimes I see my dad walking in the area with his neighbour, Sam, as I’m en route to work in the mornings. I always stop for a brief chat and a laugh, and revel in the quiet comfort of this unexpected domestic encounter. It is another piece of the puzzle that is my charming green neighbourhood and my home.

And yet sometimes, as we sit on the deck with a gracious bottle of dry white wine, I may inspect the label and see that it comes from the Paarl area, and it brings a little pang. While ever-conscious of counting my blessings, I look over then at ‘our mountain’ and wish, somewhat ungratefully, that it was a little bigger.

Or maybe even a lot bigger, with a long purple shadow and three glistening outsize pearls on its summit. Oh to have my cake and eat it too, and simply transplant the house. I’m sure I could persuade my parents to relocate.

Weekday mornings are not the same as they used to be

I’ve recently re-discovered the music of Barbra Streisand and have been playing it loudly in my car on the way to work. And singing along too, also very loudly. Which as any ‘Babs’ friend (and yes, I am sure she and I would be friends, if we had ever met) knows is the best part: the loud singing along to this awesome amazing voice, which so effectively drowns out your own feeble cheeping noises that you can pretend that Barbra’s voice is actually yours. It’s a great fantasy.

So anyway, Barbra and I sing very loudly all the way to work these days, once I have dropped off my two boys at pre-school (Matthew) and ‘big school’ (Liam). Where matters are currently quite interesting.

Matthew, aged four, has a girlfriend. Little ‘T’ is a tiny-boned, fragile-bodied child with flaxen hair (truly, it’s not often you get to write ‘flaxen’ and be accurate) down to her waist. Her eyes are a pale ethereal blue and her skin is porcelain fair (again, I use ‘porcelain’ and am entirely accurate). With her exquisite face, she looks like she has just stepped out of fairyland. And my Matthew, who is quite a pretty creature himself, even for a boy, is absolutely smitten.

Cicely Mary Barker's 'The rose fairy'

Lately, he likes to bring her flowers in the morning. Posies of rose buds that my mother makes up for him to hand over with as much love as if T belonged to her too.

And Liam, six-almost-seven, thinks it is just too icky for words. This ‘love stuff’. He cringes at the mere mention of it and tries to block his ears. Certainly this was his reaction when we were taking a drive one day recently, when all the schools were still on holiday. In the interests of revving up some back-to-school enthusiasm, I said brightly to my smallest son: “So, Matthew, who do you think will be back at school tomorrow for you to play with?”

“T…,” chirped Matthew confidently (as if there were any shadow of a doubt). “Because she loves me and I love she.”

I was so surprised and touched, I nearly drove into the pavement while trying to stifle a sudden burst of what would surely have been very inappropriate and hurtful giggles.

“Aaaaauuuuuggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh! Accccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkk!” roared Liam from his spot in the back seat beside Matthew, trying to block his ears and simultaneously making vomiting noises.

Upon which Matthew got very offended and started punching him forthwith, so that was the end of the icky love stuff. For a few short days, that is, until everyone was fully in the swing of the back-to-school energy that always seems to flow at the beginning of a new term.

We were visiting my parents on the second Sunday after school had begun when Matthew requested one of my mother’s famous roses from her garden. For T…. To take to school the next morning. Ignoring the loud vomiting and roaring noises from his older brother, he took possession of a rosebud with a very satisfied look on his face as we drove off home.

Sadly, though, when we got home we discovered that the little rosebud had got a bit battered during the short car journey, probably due to the proud manner in which he was clutching it safely to his chest. I decided to ask my mom to let us have another one the next morning. After all, when giving flowers, it should be done right, right? With flair and panache and above all pristine floral specimens.

The next morning we were all ready to collect a new rosebud for the unsuspecting fairy friend. First, though, we had to drop Liam off at ‘big school’, where he is newly in grade one and suddenly looking very small and forlorn – in comparison to the big children – as he wanders onto the playground in the mornings.

And this is an odd repositioning of my perspective, because Liam is actually very big for his age. One of the biggest, according to the paediatrician, because whenever the good doctor has checked him out over the past few years, Liam has consistently hovered at around the 97th percentile for his height and weight. (In other words, out of every 100 children exactly his age, he would be about the 3rd or 4th tallest and biggest in the group. Or something like that, but anyway it’s quite impressive.)

So there was Liam. My tall blonde curly-haired confident handsome son: suddenly looking small again in his new school uniform, wandering around a much bigger playground than he’s been playing on for the past four years, surrounded by loads of children much bigger than him. Heck, quite a few of them are bigger than me, and that’s just the girls. (Children are getting bigger these days, have you noticed?)

Matthew and I stood together and surreptitiously stared after him while he walked away. This was after I’d kissed Liam goodbye on the lips and he’d jogged off, wiping off the kiss, and I had called him back to insist that we try this small gesture of affection all over again, with no wiping off, or there will be a scene in front of everyone, see? (He really doesn’t like this ‘love stuff’.)

“I see Liam!” said Matthew excitedly, while continuing to grip my hand very firmly. As I said, the playground is much bigger than they are both used to.

“Me too,” I said, thinking to myself, Go on my son! Find someone to play with! Find a place to belong for the next ten minutes before the teachers call you to the classroom. Don’t remain all alone looking so small and lost – find a friend…

And he did. My little trooper. A male friend of course, but then again, if it had been a girl I would have been looking for the aliens and their cloning machine hidden in the bushes.

Happy again, I next zoomed off with Matthew to my mother’s house, where we collected a posy for T…. Picture some artistically positioned tin foil and wet tissue paper encasing a perfect cream rosebud, some rose leaves and a bit of fern for luck and there you have it: the little flower of yesterday had been magnificently upgraded. Bless my mother, who is also intent on raising sorted young men.

Consequently, there was much ooh-ing and ahh-ing when Matthew and I walked through the gates of his pre-school as he clutched his posy (we don’t have to go into detail on how the rose fell out of the posy as we were crossing the road and I had to run back for it). We were quite early and T… wasn’t at school yet, so Matthew put her posy into her locker. The teacher beamed. I beamed. Matthew beamed and then ran off to play in the classroom. I went back to the school gate so I could leave for work – and there was T and her mom.

“Matthew has brought T… a flower,” I whispered.

Her mother dissolved instantly into a puddle. We all walked towards the classroom together, where I stood outside and looked through the window so as not to embarrass my small son on his brave new journey.

“Look T…!” said her mom. “Look what Matthew has brought you!”

The little fairy child bent down, picked up the posy and dropped her perfect rosebud mouth into a classically feminine ‘Oooooh!” of surprise and pleasure.

Matthew got up from the circle of children seated on the floor around the teacher and walked shyly towards his sweetheart. He suddenly looked taller and was wearing an air of pride. Slightly embarrassed pride, but pride nonetheless. There was a new dawning in his eyes as he staked his first ever claim to a lovely young female’s affections.

I brought that for you. Nobody else. And sure it’s a little awkward – I get that now – but know that it was me.

“Thank you Matthew!”

“You’re welcome!”

With T… clutching her posy they sat down together in the circle of children around the teacher. Looking really happy and proud, Matthew put his arm around her in a brief hug and then dropped it again to concentrate on what the teacher was saying.

I drove off with a song in my heart and slightly moist eyes. When I finally turned on Barbra’s music, it was to one of the songs that Frank and I played on our wedding day. Which Barbra had composed especially to sing on hers.

Listen here...

Hmmmm…. maybe not!

I saw a really interesting documentary recently on six-gilled sharks. Apparently they are quite a primitive form of shark compared to the more common five-gilled sharks of all sizes and shapes that generally populate the oceans. Using the term ‘primitive’ means that most of their closest relatives are found in the fossil record, as opposed to swimming alongside. It doesn’t mean that the six gills are deficient in any way – these sharks are, in fact, perfectly functional and beautifully streamlined, like most sharks. You could argue that they must be perfectly functional if they haven’t needed to change their body shape for millions of years and have in fact outlived the dinosaurs, right?

So I googled primitive shark types and did some happy reading for a short while. I next discovered that there’s another type of primitive shark which goes one better than the six-gilled sharks: the seven gill shark, which also means an ancient lineage. Hah! How interesting. Five- plus six- plus seven-gilled sharks, all separately roaming the oceans from time immemorial. Who knew? (Well, I’m sure many scientists and marine biologists are completely aware but it was all new to me, the layperson.)

Then I came across a page that really interested me – the opportunity to swim freely with a type of seven gill shark off South African waters. The page invites the reader to experience the thrill of scuba diving (no cage) with these ancient seven-gilled sharks just off Simonstown, in the western Cape. Wow, locally! That’s just down the road from me in global terms. And although my licence has long expired, I once completed a scuba diving course, qualifying in the open waters of Sodwana Bay, off the Kwazulu-Natal coastline.

I am actually terrified of big water and not the world’s best swimmer, but back then, something made me decide to stretch myself. I was immensely proud once I’d completed my five qualifying dives in the sea, hyperventilating incident notwithstanding (another story, another time). I even had a dolphin briefly and companionably swimming with me when we went snorkelling for a short while on the boat ride out to the final dive. It was one of those amazing, awe-inspiring life experiences that is beautifully and fondly etched in my memory. Maybe, I thought, this would be a great reason to think about doing the course again and taking up scuba diving? My husband swims like a fish – oops, no pun intended! He’d absolutely love it and I knew I’d feel so much safer underwater if he was my dive-buddy. So I started daydreaming – you can see why below, where this snippet from the actual site mentions that even novice divers can swim with these prehistoric creatures.

‘Seven Gill Cow Sharks – Diving -South Africa- Sharktraveler

Set a few kilometres outside of Simonstown you can experience the thrill of scuba diving with this very unique species of Shark. Experience this prehistoric animal in its natural environment without a cage, and see why they are so popular. These animals are one of the oldest known species of shark and also a very deep water species, they can be found in all oceans but what happens here is very unique, this is the only known place in the world where anybody from a novice to an advanced diver can dive with them.’

So I was almost, haha, hooked. It sounded amazing. But just when I was thinking, “Hmmm. Interesting!” I scrolled further down the page, where it also invites the reader to ‘Take a look at the Great White Sharks also in the same area’ (also presumably with no protective cage on the dive). With a nice up close and personal photo of a large great white smiling its extremely toothy grin straight into the camera from zero feet away.

So then I thought, “Hmmmmmmm. Perhaps not!”

The give-away, for me, was the picture of the Cape fur seal – the reader is also invited to ‘Take a look at the Cape fur seals also in the same area’ – beside the pic of the great white. Great white sharks love Cape fur seals. And not romantically either.

So no. No diving with seven gill sharks, thanks very much. Instead, I’ll continue to get my shark-watching kicks from television documentaries and the safety of an aquarium. And while I give complete respect to those who do swim with sharks, I find I’m just not that brave.

But it was a happy daydream for a while.

(Here’s the full link to the page for those who are braver than me.)

(extract from) From the Other side

From the Other side I have Shadowed many different people down the long years. Most of my Subjects were defined as good, although a few were labelled evil; some were ordinary and others again reckoned great in the eyes of their fellows. Some died young and beautiful, and at other times I watched an ageing, wrinkled face and longed once more for the freedom of the Pool. I have been – fortunately – truly skeletal only once, and in the process of reflecting decay, I hid myself in the outermost planes before the clean bones came, and finally the blessed release handed down by the Law. I spent many ages after this particular episode in the Pool; it is understood by all that the cleansing, healing process is especially necessary after such a Shadowing.

We are the Kyrië. We are born with you and it is our task to Shadow your lives, although we do not die. We live on the Other side of the mirror, where humans do not dream of another dimension touching planes with earth wherever man and nature create copies. For any human on the earth at a given time, there is a corresponding Kyrian, with a surplus of our brethren quiescent in the Pool of Shadows. This is where we go when the physical entity we have been Shadowing relinquishes its spirit. We rest there, and ponder, growing more knowledgeable with the centuries and with each successive Imaging.

We are rational and calm beings. We strive to avoid the tangled emotions of humanity, preferring the role of passionless observers. To be sure, there is an element of discomfort in Shadowing a dead subject before burial or cremation. Without the mercy of prompt disposal rites, the Kyrian must sometimes Reflect, should the Dimensions be touching at the time, decay in itself until the release brought by fire or earth, or the peaceful surrender to water. We do not mind water. It is the quietest end; fittingly circular.

I said as much to the Leader one day. I was between Images and took the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom.

“Why,” I said, “do humans not always consign their brethren to water when they die? It is where they come from, after all; it completes a physical and spiritual circle. It is harmonious on both sides – or so it seems to me…”

I ended a little doubtfully; one is humbled by the Leader’s great age and tranquil wisdom. He looked at me with, I thought, an unusual expression that almost passed for surprise.

“That is a wise observation, child,” he said, “and one for which I do not have an answer. It is not our place to judge what we might consider their shortcomings.”

I was silent a while, sensing a mild rebuke.

“Well then,” I said eventually, “if it is permitted to ask: where did I come from? How did I get here – and all my brethren, too?”

He smiled.

“You ask many questions for one so young. You show traces of what, on the Other side, they call Curiosity – more so than your brethren.”

“Is it bad to be curious?”

“Perhaps.”

“I do not understand. How do we learn if we are not curious?”

“One must be curious about the right things.”

“Including where I – we – came from?”

“You are indefatigable. All right then, as you ask, I will tell you that you came from the splintering of sunlight in a raindrop – the prism effect of light refracted in water. You are leaping fire-in-water. You emerged at either sunrise or sunset, in the last split second when the earthly sun rose or fell at the horizon’s rim. You are the stuff of mirrors and dreams and beyond. On the Other side, you are Shadow; a breath of drifting smoke, without real substance but of changing form. You are another part of the Pan-Dimension – essentially wise and beautiful and untroubled by what They, on the Other side, call emotion. You are the fire’s smoke; water; air – three in one simultaneously but without sufficient particles to give substance, and untouched by ache or pain.”

“But – I have seen my Subjects fall and bruise themselves, or been cut and bleeding, and I have correspondingly reflected that in my self. And somehow – I thought I felt their pain.”

“No!” said the Leader sharply. “Do not say so. You merely experienced discomfort as a concept of which we are objectively aware, but cannot participate in.”

“Can not – or May not?” I ventured boldly.

He shifted slightly and his aura changed. The Leader’s face took on a forbidding expression and the rainbow covering in which he had garbed himself gave out deep grey and purple hues. If I had been human, I thought fleetingly, I think I would have been what they called Afraid.

“Child,” he said gravely, “I have spoken to you of the Law. Do not let me speak again.”

Then he closed his mind to me and left me in the Pool with those who did not ask my questions.

= = = =

 

An editorial note:

I was travelling alone in Europe once when I was younger and while on a train in Italy, I was listening to the lyrics from Mr Mister’s ‘Kyrie Eleison’. The chorus is:

“Kyrie Eleison

Down the road that I must travel

Kyrie Eleison

Through the darkness of the night

Kyrie Eleison

Where I’m going will you follow

Kyrie Eleison

On a highway in the night.”

‘Kyrie Eleison’ means ‘Lord have mercy’ in Greek, and while I was on the road alone and listening to a song that I really loved, the seeds of the Kyrië story were born.

You can get the lyrics here and see them perform in this clip.

The house that sang to me

We weren’t planning on buying our present home – it took us by surprise. One day about six years ago I drove past a house with a for sale sign outside it. I looked up at the house – it’s on a bit of a rise – and caught my breath.

It was singing to me.

I want to live there, I thought, with a sudden longing that took me by surprise.

So I drove home and told my husband, “I drove past this house today and it sang to me.”

“Uh oh,” was his succinct response. Sometimes he has a sixth sense about these things. Anyway, it was on show the next day and we went to see it.

It was one half of a semi-detached with a view over the West Melville Koppie in Johannesburg. It had wooden floors, pressed ceilings, a stoep that has to be called a balcony because it’s too nice to be called a stoep . . . there was lots and lots to love. And it had a view!

We discovered that about ten years previously, the existing house had been subdivided and both sides renovated, and now we were interested in number 12A.

So we thought about it and two days later we put in a provisional offer, subject of course to being able to sell our existing house.

All went well and four months later we were moving into the house that sang to me. It sang to my husband also.

We were quite happy and singing back when the owner of the other side decided to put his place on the market. And then we discovered that we had inadvertently bought the house next door.

When the original renovations were done, there was a mix-up at the deeds office and the erf numbers were swapped. And because a person’s property is legally assigned according to an erf number, we had bought the house next door, which had just been sold.

In essence, our neighbour had just sold our house and we were now squatting in his.

A year later – not to mention lots of heartache, paperwork, yet more lawyers’ fees and worst of all nobody to sue, we finally retoasted our new house.

The house that sang to us. Now officially ours.

 

(extract from) Colour me blue, not grey

I like musicians. I like the passion they have for their music. It’s the over-riding colour in their lives; the vibrancy; the soul. Most of all I like rock musicians. Their particular brand of passion strikes chords in my own soul. When I first started hanging out with the band, my horizons expanded again.

“Dig that riff!”

“Listen to that sequence!”

“If I could write a song that makes someone break out into gooseflesh the way I do every time I hear this song… I’m telling you I could die happy!”

The musos I know are essentially gentle people. Four men make up the band and eavesdropping briefly on their lives is always a treat. An evening with Aneshree, Mick and company gets me out of the grey sameness my life has been taking on lately. Three of the group sport long hair and scruffy clothes and with all of them, the preferred drink on these occasions is usually beer or whisky, with music the overriding goddess. With a superior album playing in the background, the conversation is interrupted every now and then to listen reverently to an instrumental section or a piece where the vocals seem to soar into a higher realm – gooseflesh stuff indeed. Their girlfriends – it must be said! – are sometimes left out of the conversation for large chunks of time, but they’re never far away from being appreciated with a quick caress of the hair or a lingering gentle kiss at the right moment. This I observe with a smile as I sit happily cross-legged in a chair letting the music and conversation wash over me.

I met the musos because I work with Aneshree, Mick’s fiancée. Mick is the bass player and after Aneshree and I became friends it was an easy step into the band’s inner circle. Lately, I’ve found my thoughts being interrupted by visions of Francois, the singer, but I still haven’t felt myself ready for anything new despite Aneshree’s hints about how much he likes me. The memory of my last interlude is too sharp. So in the meantime, I’m happy to read his latest lyrics and keep promising that in return, I’ll show him my paintings one day soon – but not quite yet.

“What exactly do you paint?” he asked me the last time I was there.

This is a difficult question to answer.

“Uhm… I sort of paint emotions,” I said after a long-ish pause. “If something touches me deeply I put it onto canvas. Like you with your lyrics, I suppose. So mostly you see people in my paintings – not landscapes. But they’re not coloured according to reality most of the time – my people are usually sort of blue or green depending on the mood. Anyway, I put my emotions down onto canvas through pictures of people. That’s the best way I can describe it.”

“Ah,” he said, smiling. “So just when are you going to let me see these paintings?”

This was definitely striking a still-raw memory.

“Uhm… one day” I said. “Maybe.”

He gave me a sharp look.

“What colour are you right now?” he strangely said next.

“What?”

“Come on – don’t think about it – just answer off the top of your head. What colour are you right now?”

“You are odd! All right – colour me blue then. How about you?”

“Yellow,” he said. “Happy. Is blue happy or sad for you?”

“Both,” I said with no hesitation. “Happy and sad, depending.”

He laughed.

“You really are not helping me here! That’s a very contrary answer. All right – so when is blue happy for you? And when is it sad?”

I thought for a minute and said, “I’ll tell you about the happy but not the sad,” and then launched into the story of those glorious wonderful scary moments in the sky last year.

Man that feeling

Up there, earth below you and above you only sky

Sky and parachute like a great friendly bird taking you back down to earth on your own personal flight through wonderland

When I’m not here with the musicians and their music, my life is turning grey

I miss the aeroplanes and the sky

Life is so boring without blue skies

Must get back into it I miss it so much – even the crazy fear you put up with because it’s followed by the promise of the purest ecstasy I’ve ever felt in my whole life

The Gemini – and other – me’s

So yes, I’m a Gemini. An aspirant author, avid reader. Mostly the Gemini-me shows the face of the nice twin to the world. When the other twin is around, my nearest and dearest tend to run away in fright. She doesn’t come out often though – I keep her tamed as much as possible.

I’m new to blogging, and slightly intimidated as I get started. But I love to write. It’s my hopeful assumption that with my blog site, I’ll be able to write short bites as they occur to me and exercise a big part of who I really am.

The Mom-me has two boisterous wonderful boys who have both inherited my chatty gene, sometimes to my consternation when I’m ‘trying to think’!  This in turn gives my parents great amusement. The Daughter-me lets them have their laughs at my expense.

The Wife-me is married to one of the nicest men on the planet. Frank also happens to be a brilliant handyman, as well as amazing at catching those enormous rain spiders that so freak me out. He is one of those people in life who is able to sort things out – plumbing and electricity issues, hanging and fixing doors, putting in a car seat (I always wrestled with those), building a deck in our back garden…  He’s gifted. Add in oodles of the sexy factor and I have much to be grateful for!

The Sister-me has one of the most interesting and passionate siblings you could ever meet. You can blame her for my presence here also, as she introduced me to WordPress. Thanks LG!

So that’s the family introductions. I have a great family. We all share a very corny sense of humour.

I am blessed with my extended family also with my in-laws: Frank’s mom, Marie, and his sisters Marie-Louise and Adele, who is an artist in Paarl in the western Cape (you can check out her work here). They are actually all very gifted in the art line, as well as somewhat eccentric. Within my first month of meeting them I was informed of their connections to the Pleides star constellation. Apparently the nightly connections are made through their bunions as long as there’s no cloud covering. I was made an honorary member almost immediately. I figure you can’t do much better than that with a new family, can you – be given an instant hot-line to a star constellation through your big toes? And the Pleides-me does love to star-gaze.

In my spare time I write fiction. It gives me great pleasure to invent new people and see what they get up to. The Writer-me has not been as much in evidence lately as I would like, but I’m working hard on bringing her back.

I’m thinking of going the self-publishing electronic route but would love if possible to have my two (to date – more in the pipeline) unpublished works taken on by an established traditional publishing company, and get hard copy success in book stores. This is partly because of the Old Fashioned-me who loves the smell of new books, and partly because I want someone else to be responsible for the marketing! The Salesperson-me is not the biggest part of my overall personality. But I am open to suggestion. (Note to publishers and agents: waiting for your call!)

Basically, I like life.

I like to retain the ability to keep on surprising people, especially myself. The Overall-me loves to laugh and I am grateful for my many blessings. This blog is here for me to remember that, with as much humour in the mix as possible.

Here begins a good journey.

Welcome.

When in doubt, wipe up the wee with your trousers

So there I was, a temporarily single mom of two small boys. Hubby was overseas on a trip of a life time that I – foolish me – had encouraged him into.

“Go!” said I. “You’ve wanted to visit Scotland since you first bought that Celtic Airs CD and discovered – that night I’d had a bit too much wine – that I can do quite a good impromptu Highland Fling. Go, my love! I have a little windfall coming my way and I’m giving you the ticket there – you just have to find your way back and sort out the spending money. Go, my darling spouse, with all my love. Mmmmmwaah!”

He’d left five days ago and I’d since come to regret my generosity – a few times over. This was to become one of those occasions.

I was in the kitchen multi-tasking, as one is required to on weekday mornings before one goes to work. Only a mother on a time warp is capable of feeding herself, baby, pre-schooler, one dog, four cats and a parrot while simultaneously microwaving baby’s bottles, washing and drying a few dishes and putting loads of washing variously into the washing machine and tumble dryer. It’s a busy place, our house in the morning – about to become busier.

I suddenly noticed Matthew wearing that look of intense concentration on his face – the unmistakable look that means only one thing when you are 13 months old and taking to solids like a Peking duck takes to a Highveld rainstorm.

Time to take the nappy off and clean a dirty bum.

So I did. I was about to put the clean nappy on his little bum when a shriek from the kitchen area alerted me to the fact that someone – the parrot, I guessed – was trying once again to eat Liam’s breakfast instead of its own.

Code Blue.

I lifted baby off the bed so he wouldn’t fall off (Code Black) and dashed off to the kitchen on the rescue mission (no mean feat, because I was wearing beloved spouse’s pyjama trousers – absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that – and as he’s about a foot taller than me, it was more of a speedy shuffle than my normal Supermommy Sprint).

False alarm. Not the parrot, just the dog. (Much easier to discipline.)

Smacked the dog on her nose, chased her outside, started making Liam some more toast…

Oops! Where’s baby? Forgot baby.

Enter baby, on cue, still naked from the waist down and looking extremely pleased with himself. Which meant only one thing…

Code Yellow.

I dashed back to the bedroom from whence he’d come and slithered – quite gracefully, under the circumstances – through the doorway in the large puddle of wee that I’d somehow known was just waiting there… I was still silently swearing, when came from the kitchen the new sounds of mayhem breaking out, which meant that baby was going for big brother’s toast and big brother was taking umbrage.

Code Red.

Time to regroup. Which urgent thing to do first: 1: mop the floor? 2: throw self out of window? or 3: throw children out of window?

Think, think. Oh, right! Can’t do either 2 or 3, because one of the things that attracted us to our house in the first place was the functional yet very decorative burglar bars on all the windows and doors. Okay, so time to mop the floor then…

(Wails and screams getting louder.)

Think, think. No towels to hand, time is ticking and I’m not dressed yet – aha!

Which is how I came to find myself also naked from the waist down, mopping the floor with my husband’s pyjama trousers. (I was in the middle of loading the washing machine, after all.)

One of these days our tenant in the cottage is going to walk past at an inappropriate moment and see something really inexplicably embarrassing.

Until then, the Supermommy Mantras rule. Today’s mantra: When in doubt, wipe up the wee with your trousers.

(Written 2008)

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