Tuesday, January 31, 2012

500th Post: An announcement

Five hundred posts. 500. This is my 500th. It should be memorable then, shouldn’t it? I have chosen it, therefore, to announce the plans that I’ve been mulling over, talking about, polishing up. G and I are hoping to go and live in that heart-squelching place in the Karoo, the one that makes my entire being smile, for two months from October.

The seed was sown after our last visit in September. I’ve always loved it, and the city has been feeling crushing for a while now. The vast, open Karoo sky, blue in the day, scattered with a billion stars at night gets my creative juices flowing and, hopefully, will allow me to write. Well, that’s the plan. To write or just to be still for a bit, in a place without pollution and hooting cars and city-harangued people.

I have permission from work, we have a house provisionally booked, we’ve made lists and budgets and twirled ideas and dreams. The boxes are, slowly, being ticked. The next big one is for G to get permission from her work, to work remotely (oh, how delicious! Remotely! How it rolls off my tongue…) This is not as easy for her as me, she having been there less than a year, as opposed to my almost fifteen years at mine. Hold thumbs.

And so, there, with my 500th post, hopefully a long time dream will be turned into a big-skied-lungs-filled-with-air reality.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday rainfall

The incessant heat was momentarily broken by delicious, fat drops of rain falling hotly on the tin roof of The House in the Middle of the Street as I woke, turning my tired sigh of an impending Monday morning into a pleasure-filled one. It rained, heavy and strong, for a short while, interspersing rain clouds with golden sunshine and rainbows to make leprechauns leap.

You could almost hear the plants yelling out in delight and the soil slurping greedily. Almost.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's been hot. Thick, sticky, hot. The kind that makes you feel like you're breathing in hot soup and makes you gasp slightly. We do hot here, in Summer, it's par for the course, really, living in Africa, and I like the warmth, but this is humid. We're not used to humid. It makes me feel like I can't get enough air.

It may not be just the weather. I'm having that stifling city feeling again. The good news is that I am working on a plan that might offer some repreive, there are just a couple of ducks that need rowing first. More on that later. In the meantime I am trying desperately to breath enough to make me write. I've been slacker than slack and I miss it.

I wake in the early mornings, the quiet grey light of dawn peaking through my curtains, and the words prance and dance in my head, stories beginning, emotions flowing, epiphanies abound. Once I'm up, though, they skitter away, scattering in the sunshine and noise of the day in the city and I am left, wordless.

Perhaps I need to get back and finish those Writing Prompts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hotel foyer

Suspended between a coffee shop playing French love songs and a cavernous, modern-designer hotel foyer playing loungey Jazz I feel like I've been dropped into some strange vortex between worlds. The women here all wear higher-than-high heels and tight pants. I'd never noticed before but those higher-than-high wedge heels actually really do make one look taller.

At one end of the cavernous foyer, which reminds me of my school hall but more designer, is one of those floor polishing machines dragging around a tired-looking man with the demeanour of someone who'd rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Three crumpled businessmen pulling bags on wheels roll across it's newly-polished floor, little track marks across the only-just-there shine. There must be a pool somewhere in the hotel. I see a small boy wrapped in a towel skid across the business men's tyre tracks, his barefeet making no imprint.

For some reason I can't shake the feeling of anxiety in this place filled with transience. Nothing seems stuck down. Even the (designer) lamps seem to be trying to escape. Everything echoes and reverberates, the air rushes out of the door, making an escape each time it slides open on its designer tracks, sensing someone in its little electronic beam.

I feel very, very alone as I wait for the other Eager Beavers to arrive. It's book club night and we decided to meet somewhere else, and this is it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


There's photographic proof. Year's of it. They were the beautiful, young lovers at university, she blonde, waif-like, beautiful, kind, smiley; he skinny, long-haired, just as beautiful. It was at that time, the one when everything seemed perfect, the air was clear, we were filling our brains with learning and love and the freedom of youth and they were like a snapshot of it - the perfectness of young love.

Their's lasted, it wasn't a fleetingly beautiful moment in a small, dusty town that swelled hearts, broke them and swelled them again, their's was more. As is the nature of leaving university we all scattered in the wind. They married, more photos of love, and with the invention of Stalkbook, suddenly those pictures were there for all of us to see, to be allowed to believe in love. The photos documenting them, and us, growing slightly older, possibly wiser (or not), but settling.

That's what the photos showed - them, love, a clarity in it all that I've seldom seen. It was tangible through the pictures although I didn't see them in 'real life' after varsity. In a moment it was over. No, that's not true, I heard the whole story, it wasn't a moment, it was over time, as cancer ate her alive, that beautiful, waif-like creature, so young, so lovely, so in love. And he was left. Alone.

My heart breaks at the cruelty of it. She died a couple of years ago now but an old friend was here over the holidays, a good friend of his, so it came up and I recoiled, again, at the heartbreak of it.

She saw him while she was here and reported that he is healing, smiling again, and I'm almost 100% certain that that is making her smile too, in the ether.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On safari with a green milkshake

The lime green milkshake caught my attention first. It just seemed so incongruous to be drinking such a bright green, milky drink with a huge seafood platter – prawns, crayfish and all. I wondered what flavour it was – lime, as its colour suggested, or cream soda, as its colour could also suggest. I wondered if she’d like to join us but looked at her face as she sucked some green milk up and decided, perhaps, she didn’t wish to be disturbed. Her face was not one that invited conversation.

Dressed in camoflauge clothes that shouted “I’m a tourist”, she sat alone in the restaurant. Well, not exactly alone – she had her green milkshake, and the company of various well-cooked creatures of the sea. Again, I was compelled to make conversation, but saw her sullen face, and decided not. I wondered if I was being silly and she was just genetically doomed to have a sour look. It just seemed impossible for her not to at least look vaguely happy about the feast before her, not to mention the cheerfully-coloured (if incongruous) green milkshake.

For some reason there’s a type of tourist that come to The City Beneath the Mountain and insist on wearing safari gear, even to the most cosmopolitan of shopping malls, such as the one we were unlucky enough to find ourselves last night. It’s as if they think they may need to hide behind a bench in one of the passages in case of an elephant seeing them as they walk out of the Louis Vuitton shop, new handbag hanging off their trunk.

And that's when I decided why she looked so unhappy – perhaps she had been misled somehow and was cross about not finding an elephant shopping for a Louis Vuitton handbag, or a giraffe looking for a long enough tie in the Hugo store (I had to look that up… my designer clothing knowledge leaves a lot to be desired.)

I just hope she’s going to go out into the African wild, all got up in her safari gear, to see the real deal… where designer gear is not only unnecessary, but is simply ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012? Seriously?

Good grief, it's 2012, just like that. Happy, happy to everyone and may it be prosperous and happy and filled with love, good food, friends and laughing like my little nephews do. The kind 2-and-a-half-year olds do, shrieking with delight at the golden retriever that chases a pilates ball around the garden, completely unabashed, completely delicious.

That's what I've mostly been doing for the last week, staring in wonderment at the fun of my twin nephews, laughing at them and with them, as they talk up a storm. They're fabulous - bright, engaging, chatty and really, really funny. And cute, did I mention that? Doting aunty? Me?

The Big Black Dog thought she'd died and gone to heaven, trailing after them as they dropped a constant supply of muffin crumbs, peanut butter sandwich bits and, on one occassion, and enormous nougat-type lolly, which she, much to their horror, swallowed in one large gulp. They're kind, though, despite being at that age where one is completely and utterly self-absorbed, and the other one shared his lolly with the forlorn one, the Big Black Dog looking on hopefully, wishing for a second helping, being admonished by the little guys who took to a safe spot, high on a couch, out of dog reach.

They stayed for a week, waking the house at 5:30am with delighted excitement at it being a new day, I showed them how to take apart their beds and move the matresses onto the floor and make tents and tunnels (I'm not sure their mother's appreciated this particular tutorial...), we read Dr Zeuss and we played and laughed and chattered.

Now they've gone off down the coast to an idyllic beach-side house, where I will join them for more holiday fun on Thursday. Who could ask for a better way to start a year? I haven't made any resolutions yet, I've been too busy giggling and loving. I think that's a pretty good excuse.