About a building

Our house sits comfortably in the slope of the koppie, overlooking our city like our own Acropolis, perched on the edge, partially cantilevered over a deep and ravine filled with indigenous trees. 

When we first saw this corner of the Estate it was hidden under Lantana and Sekelbos. Stinkhout and Transvaalse Valsperdepis were being suffocated by a Wag-‘n-Bietjie creeper. Despite the tangle and the steepness of the stand, we felt the drama of this site. We recognised the promise. We bought it, almost impulsively. 

The process of building demolished any feeling of whim. Instead, over months, our house grew from its foundations according to plans, endless discussions and careful consideration and reconsideration. 

Now, almost a year after we first broke ground, we are not yet finished. As window frames start to bracket views and paint colours soften walls the end is in sight. May this be our treehouse of happiness remind us of the prize of perseverance and the power of gratitude. 

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Steps around the bend

Change is challenging and frightening. It is exciting and difficult. Hopefully, worth it in the end. I believe that change isn’t meant for endings but for new beginnings. 

I lay awake thinking of the steps that brought me here. The story is full of surprises, twists and turns that I could not have predicted, even in a magical reality.

Standing on the threshold of another turn I can’t see the destination but know it is there and I must go/grow towards it. I may have a hand-drawn map under mountains of memories, complete with unchartered waters indicated and possible sea-monsters. 

For now, I can only see the few steps curving around gently into the future. Step one. Trust. Step two. Move. Step three. Watch my step. Step four. Document the journey.

See you on the other side. 

“Hen en Kuikens”

Small bodies nestle back into the soft  hollows against my body. Oh, it is a moment of bliss. Both of you are cuddled up under my arms, I am a hen proudly clucking her chicks into the safety of her wings.

The moment lasts only a second or two, before one of you, then both, wriggle out and giggle away from me. My heart flutters as I follow both your movements from here to there, over and under – as if you are foraging for fun down the hallway. 

The house is a mess, your breakfast from this morning is still painted on the floor. I know there is a million things to do. But when you call from the bedroom, I don’t hesitate to go join you there – hoping to peck and scratch for memories with you, which shouldn’t be left behind.

The Trumpet Test

Your pettiness radiates from your chin like a noose. Your blinkered view blinds you of opportunity and the rest of the world. Your words are loud but empty. I feel sorry for you, but I feel more sorry for me. That I had to endure you that moment on the television, that few minutes spent reading about you, this paragraph penned about you … and not on beauty and hope. You are a black hole. Minutes from the apocalypse, you look in the mirror to glimpse your greatness again. I pity you, your Emptiness.

I hope your children will break the walls you build and extend hands of hope over golden balustrades. My hope is with children who knows how you breathe fire and how to contain the cancerous flames of your ignorance. May your rise and fall be a spectacle to be remembered, a diagnostic litmus test on a sick society which will heal and aspire to more, before it is too late. 

Hello darkness my old friend

I can’t watch movies made for adults anymore. My official reason is that I don’t have time. The real reason: I can’t stomach the violence and drama – the tragedy. 

It doesn’t make a difference how many Oscars or how critically acclaimed a film is, if it is rated 16, count me out. 

Perhaps it’s because I am visually inclined, and violent words or tragic dialogues can replay in my head forever…  If it’s violent – or worse, tragic violence, I feel panic creeping into my conciousness. 

Maybe I suffer from a mild case of PTSD. Real life had dealt me enough blows. One more cinematic tragedy may tip the scales into a downward spiral I cannot indulge in. 

My kids need me to be here, comforting and smiling when they get bruised by life, legos and table top corners. I cannot slip on a movie scene, and fall into a self-made puddle of depression. 

So, I generally avoid those movies. Hazards and hurdles to happy thoughts. But, sometimes like tonight, my ears glimpse what Michael is watching. Tonight, the screams on the screen forced my eyes to listen too… I begged him to switch the channel and he did before the imminent “worse”. 

Even if I only saw minutes, I am laying wide awake in bed replaying what I heard and saw (and felt) for what feels like hours. I feel sick.

Now. I must choose to mop those thoughts with cheerful alternatives. I think of Maia and Dara on a wheelbarrrow this morning. I think off Michael’s fish curry.  It was a gorgeous day. It was a gift. It was delicious and to be sucked ​on like a mint,  a counter to a pungent taste overstaying its welcome.

 

As I rinse my thoughts and wipe away the remnants of a tragedy, I feel a little lighter. I am thankful for that dark moment too; it brought me to gratitude. A wheelbarrow full of thank you’s and it smells minty.

Small World

I spoke to a friend in Pick and Pay this morning while our toddlers clung to us between mountains of fruit and vegetables. Hip accessories. She may need to go to Japan for work; a whole week, she says. I understand her hesitation. “Away” feels impossible… “far away” near unfathomable. Our worlds are here. Our worlds have become smaller.

Saturday morning shopping has become an event – an adventure in consumption. Aisles become a magical maze, the trolley an imaginary “baba-trein. Squeals and cookie crumbs trail behind us. We forget about the real world.

Dara always makes the staff smile. She bounces up and down on her chunky legs; then “shops” for sweeties at the till point display. Beaming, she hands her selection to us, but promptly starts to whine when we take it from her (without a thought) to add it to our mountain being scanned into a waiting trolley on the other side.

We drink coffee afterwards. We survived the shopping. The coffee shop has a favourite spot – from the set of FRIENDS perhaps. The couch and coffee table offers a safe and soft corner which we happily occupy; our trolleys parked in a lager around us. Maia and Dara loves the carpet, but I doubt the feeling is mutual …  it looks like an expensive Persian. An older man, with only a newspaper for company, glances over his shoulder but, thankfully, smiles at Maia who has been staring a little too long in his direction.

We talk about the Inauguration and Trump – and I feel worried. Our world has become smaller in more ways, the fears are more real, since last night. We are the fortunate, we are the 1%. Shopping and spending, flying and working – drinking coffee on imported middle-eastern carpets with our little worlds playing at our feet … I hope to show them the real world too. I hope it will be bigger and more beautiful than they can ever imagine.

 

 

 

My Little Mermaid

Your little frame moves in a small and safe rhythm on my chest. Your fingers are open while the soft round of your palm rests protectively on the raised topography of my scar. It is a secret string of pearls buried beneath my skin. You have preformed your own kind of heart surgery.

The speed at which you are growing, and evolving is breathtaking as it is frightening. But tonight, you forgot that you want to do it yourself and be big; and be separate from me. You are small and sleepy and all mine. You are a beautiful ball of damp golden hair, arms and skinny legs tightly folded up – like you would have been two and a half years ago.

I want to hold you like this forever. I want to remember the smell of your just-washed hair because I know this moment will become almost mythical.

Tomorrow you will feel better and need me less. You will be out of reach for most of the day. Tomorrow, I will only be the distant shoreline while you discover the world, yourself and others in the sea of experiences. That ocean is growing deeper daily … and more scary.

But now, I wrap you up in my arms and hold you for a while longer. I kiss your crown. Please know I will always be your safe harbour, my little mermaid.  Swim back to me, always.