Wednesday, November 29, 2006

this 'n that

Hi, halfway through another manic week, and unlike some of my more organised friends, I have been so wrapped up in sorting out client's homes in time for Christmas that my own is a disaster area.

However, never being one to let an excuse for sloppy housekeeping slip by, I have realised that this is the first year that one of our kids is living in the same country, and better still, just round the corner. So with great cunning, I have arranged that we will have Christmas at their house.

This, of course, means that I can close the door on my dissarray until I have had a good break, and feel like tackling the snowdrifts of papers on every surface in my own time!

Against all the odds, I have been determined not to let the painting slip too much, because I find it so hard to get going again if I lose momentum. So here are the latest offerings. The small ones are each 300x300mm, and go as a set, they are called "a pair of jugs".! Yes, intended....never underestimate the selling power of misleading advertising and gratuitous sexual inuendo!! ;)

The other is less imaginatively called "the lake", yeah yeah, I'm tired, ok? And it is HUGE, 1600 x 800mm.


look who's flowering again, right outside our bedroom door. The lovely Hoya. I find it a fascinating plant. Perhaps Ali Honey or someone who knows lots about plants from Australasia can tell us more about them, I just love the velvety flowers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

itchy feet again....

Deb R (Red shoe Ramblings) put out this meme last weekend and I thought I’d play along….
1. If you had to move 100 miles or more to the north, east, west, or south, which would you choose, where would you end up, and what's so great about there?
If it’s only 100 miles, I’d have to say due West, which takes us to Cape St Francis, a delightful little village along the coast from us. Its neighbour, St Francis Bay, is a picturesque place, the original farm was subdivided and strict restrictions laid down regarding exterior finishes of the houses, which could only be painted white and have thatched roofs, or black tiles. There are also maximum height restrictions, so neighbours cannot hog the sea views. So it is very pretty, but has become very popular with the Yuppies from inland, and so a bit busy and commercial for our taste. The Cape, just 5 km further along the coast, boasts a wonderful old lighthouse, with walls 2 metres thick, and an amazing array of prisms to boost the light. To the west of the actual point on which the lighthouse stands (Seal Point), there is “the wild side” which is as it sounds, in the teeth of the wind and storms, with an elemental beauty that takes your breath away, the playground of Southern Right Whales from June to September, and great walks along weathered rocks littered with shipwrecks. By contrast, to the East, a gentle bay curves around to another point (Shark Point) beyond which you get back to St Francis Bay. This little bay boasts some of the best surfing in South Africa (until now a well kept secret!!) and a wide pristine sweep of white sand that is just bliss to stroll along… I could bore you into a coma in coming weeks with photos of all this……I have so many it’s ridiculous!

2. Do you have a favorite stretch of highway or byway for driving, touring, or wandering?
This is like asking my favourite colour, where do I start to narrow it down to just 1? One of my favourites is barely used now. It is a twisting pass between Storm’s River and Plettenburg bay, on the coastal road towards Capetown. Several years ago, a new toll road was built, and the bulk of the traffic now uses this instead, which is good, because meeting trucks on this pass used to be a bit hairy to put it mildly! But if time is not an issue, a meander off the beaten track is still possible, it runs through an exquisite section of indigenous coastal forest, with massive yellowwood trees, and flowering cape chestnuts, as well as a grove of very rare Strelitzia alba. Every now and then one emerges after a hairpin bend and gets a gap with sweeping views across the treetops to the mountains beyond. Being a Geology fanatic, I always rant and rave about the spectacular rock formations revealed in the road cuttings… poor Max is a very tolerant guy!
Another favourite is in Namibia, couldn’t be more different! It is the road that goes from Luderitz, east towards Central Namibia, then swings North towards Sessreim and the famous dunes at Sossusvlei. It is so varied in its topography, just when you think you have seen every kind of arid scenery possible, you go round a bend, and see something that must have come from another planet… crazy about it.

3. Are you happier to start a trip or return home?
Definitely start.. the expectation…the thought of some time out with Max in the car, going where the road takes us, no phones to bug us..mmmmm. Getting home to the kitties if cool, but I HATE unpacking! Especially if we have been on a camping trip and have to pack all the macho toys and equipment away.

4. Plane, train, automobile, bicycle, or foot?
All of the above, depends on when, where, how long etc. Trains used to be great, but these days are really grim and run down and not so safe. I ADORE long distance driving, and luckily Max doesn’t so we never squabble about who is going to drive, and we both travel at the same pace, which is really cool. (By that I don't mean speed, I mean stopping to smell the roses!) Have you ever travelled with people who rush through, notch one up, “ok seen an elephant, lets move on”, when you want to stop and savour it and enjoy the moment? GRR. We both give each other a lot of space to enjoy the stuff that interests us, so I go along with it while Max does the whole Historical War site, museum thing, and he patiently endures it while I go on endlessly about rock formations, and rave about arts and crafts along the way! We both go mad taking photos. I am delighted to say our bicycles were stolen a while ago, so we no longer have to feel guilty about looking at them gathering dust in the garage every day! We do a lot of walking, here and on holiday, sunrise is the best, cool and windless and great low angle light for photography.

5. Do you overplan or underplan your travels? (Assume that "no" is not a valid answer.)
Plan? What’s that? Seriously, our most favourite way to travel is to pack the car with camping gear, and munchies, and head out on a road we haven’t been on before, and see where it takes us. If the weather holds out, we camp, if it is lousy, we look for a bed and breakfast around mid afternoon, and carry on the next day. We just know we have x amount of days, and at some point towards the middle would like to be at x spot on the map, but which roads we take there and back are left to serendipity. Some of our best trips have been like this.


I once commented to Kirsty that bluegums seem to flourish here... these are a few examples, taken this weekend.

Friday, November 24, 2006

PS, Beta Blogger is cool!

Hey Deb, if you visit today, i hope you are deeply impressed, i finally got the sidebar sorted! I can't take too much credit to be honest, this new beta blogger even makes it possible for me to do stuff, and we all know what a miracle THAT is! So I have to take back all the wingeing of the other day about the new setup, and thank the blogger team for making it easy for even the most computer illiterate dinosaurs to indulge our blogging addictions!


On a personal note, this is a message for Mongoose and Megan:

Congratulations on joining the ranks of the filthy capitalist pigs and becoming property owners!

The bear is a gift from your Estate Agent, patiently awaiting your return!

I am pushed for time today, so no great philosophical thoughts (or even minor ones for that matter!) I'll just share another bunch of fun ideas photos instead. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I am still relatively new to the world of blogging, and also have irriating time constraints, so I don't get to visit nearly as many new sites as I would like to, but a surprising thing seems to have emerged from those I do visit..........

There are quite a few people out there who have been happily married for years and are still best friends!

The way marriage is portrayed on TV and the movies (and yes, to be fair, the reality of a 40% divorce rate) have all tended to make Max and I feel like some kind of freaks. How is it possible to have been together for 30 years and still adore each other, and love spending time together? It has been great over the last couple of weeks to read comments on several of my favourite blogs that show we are not as strange as we thought we were! Is it just coincidence that I have happened across the only other "happily marrieds" on the planet, or are we less of a minority than Hollywood would have us believe?

It all started like a Hollywood story though, the instant chemistry, the need to talk all night because we had so much in common (yet were such opposites in many ways) and couldn't bring ourselves to say goodbye, we were engaged within 7 and a half weeks of meeting and married 17 days after that! It was just so right, there were no doubts, in fact the only reason we waited the 17 days was that we didn't have the $10 we needed for a special licence so had to post bans for 2 weeks at the local District Comissioner's Office. 30 years and 2 kids and a grandson later here we are, as happy as ever! But after the experience of Muddy Red Shoes this week, I realise we must remember to consciously treasure each day, and not take a single one for granted.

Monday, November 20, 2006

new thoughts, new work

oh dear, don't you just hate the way technology keeps ahead and crushes any illusions you may have that you are not REALLY an antiquated old fossil?...... Just as, with much assistance from my ether buddies, i have sort-of mastered the simplest blog tasks, (although i must admit, despite very clear and explicit instructions, i am still totally unable to customise the sidebar) we now have bigger, better, brighter beta, and i now have to figure out all the subtle nuances of whatever new features are lurking behind this deceptivly similar dashboard page! Maybe now i'll be able to get my photos to go where they should, but don't hold your breath!
New Thoughts:
Earlier today, I started to discuss a fascinating, if horrifying new book I am reading, called "we need to speak about Kevin". It deals with the parents of a child who committed mass murder at school, grappling to come to terms with how their son turned out. But my thoughts got too morbid for a Monday morning, so i deleted it! The previous book i have just finished was no less chilling in content, yet strangely uplifting at the same time. It is the true and recent story of a girl from Sudan, who was captured, sold into slavery at about 11 or 12 years old, sent to work first in Khartoum and the London (YES, SLAVERY GOES ON IN THE "ENLIGHTENED" WEST TOO!!!) and finally escaped and wrote a book while battling to get political asylum in Britain. Her amazing spirit throughout it all was so inspiring that, while feeling outrage at the perpetrators (who are fully supported in their raids on the black villages by the Sudan government) it didn't become heavy or depressing to read. Those of us who live in the comfort zone of a democratic government can become very compacent about what is going on around us. On the other hand, another book I read recently deals with those who feel they have to do something. It is called "Emergency sex and other desperate measures, and deals with three aid workers who move from one war zone to the next, and end up with the UN, but it traces their attitudes from glowing idealism, to growing cynicism (wish this new beta blogger had spell check!!) as they see how things happen behind the scenes. You would think that with all this stirring literature I would pack my bags and rush off to the next available warzone to help, but I must admit that the comfort zone still tugs very hard, and anyway, someone has to stay home and worry about the other family members out there in darkest nasty places, and prepare yummy sustaining roasts for them when they return!

And new works:

(the bottom photo is our back patio, after its latest facelift)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

an obsession with arches ....

photos that go with the previous post


....Which is not a good thing when you are also trying to run a busy company at this time of year end madness! The problem is I have ADSL at work but at home I have to go online on my cellphone, which gets a bit much!

I keep finding myself creeping back to pay a quick visit to favourites, or follow links to new ones, and the frustrating thing is that I would love to get interractive with all of them and add comments, but it snowballs, and before I know it hours have fled by. Then customers or suppliers call and I have to bounce back to present reality, and rush around doing stuff I should have been attending to while visiting my ether -buddies.

What is worse is being half way through a comment, and losing it because you get interrupted, or the network plays up, and then not having time to get back to it, but thinking it is sent.

And clients just don't seem to understand about priorities. For some reason they seem to think their jobs are much more important than remaining in touch with the ether-world!

What I love is how many really nice, talented, interesting kindred spirits there are in very diverse places, and how in a short time you really do care about them and their daily ups and downs and happenings. In fact, if you go to Two lime leaves you will meet a delightful New Zealander called Kirsty who summed this whole thing up really well in her post on Wednesday.

I have already mentioned Red Shoe Ramblings in a previous post, there is a whole community who interract daily and are a cool, diverse and talented bunch. (And thanks Deb, this hyperlink thinggy is cool!)

As a natural progression, one can also visit the red shoes, where a British artist living in France does a painting a day (stunning too) and posts them here, or her more personal site Muddy Red shoes, where you meet her interesting friends and family, and see the inspiration behind the paintings.

Then, as a total change from all the arty creative types, you could meet someone who is creative with words. She lives in a scary wartorn country where bad things happen to those who speak the truth, so has to remain anonymous and does not even name the country in her blog, but her entertaining and perceptive social comments on life as an ex-patriot in such a place make great reading, in fact this week she was on the Guardian's top rated list for originality. You will find her on Is it just me.

These are a handful of the wonderful sites I have visited recently as I feed the growing addiction.... oh no, here's another pesky client! (Please don't take this seriously, I LOVE my clients and do believe in good professional service, its just that....)

I just HAD to share last night's walk with you, the sea was way more pink than these pictures show, and there was a sunset regatta so very picturesque! And, by pure coincidence, I finished a regatta painting last week, so am including the latest paintings too.

Or not...after 3 attempts, the pictures say they are done, but do not appear on the blog, so i will try once more, and then i'm afraid we will have to say "watch this space"...grrrrrrr

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I love this place, and this time of year

This weekend we have had beautiful clear warm weather, howling gale force winds, rain, and more sunshine. The Jacarandas are still in full bloom, and the strong winds gave the kite surfers a run for their money. In our tiny pocket hankie of a garden (yay, no lawn to cut!) the lavenders and jasmine and dog roses are filling the air with such heady scents, we can almost get high sitting on the front veranda sipping coffee while watching the sun rise and set (and because this now happens at about 4.45am and 7.30pm respectively, there is a fair chance we are at home to enjoy both. In winter we seem to leave home and get back in the dark.) Almost makes one feel ready to face another hectic week at work......almost.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

fun ideas and an update

Well the wheel turns, I met with a couple of high level Policemen yesterday, and they did come to investigate the complaint....but they also updated me on the case. It turns out the suspect was also wanted for crimes in East London and there was a warrent out for his arrest already, so he is still in custody. His bail hearing was set for yesterday, but the prosecutor didn't turn up. (Don't get me started on the courts and their ineptitudes).... I love this country and am actually very positive about all the changes since Apartheid was dismantled, so I don't want to sound like one of those diehards who will never be satisfied now that there is a new Government . They have brought about some really good changes. I think it is the same with any situation where there has been extreme imbalance on one side, when the pendulum swings it goes too far to the other side before stabilising in the middle. In this case the rection to the extreme oppression of Apartheid, and its abuses of the Justice system to oppress the majority of our citizens, resulted in too much leniency when the new Government took over. Unfortunately a lot of criminals have jumped on the bandwagon, and crime has soared. But I have no doubt that, with time, things will stabilize. Right enough of that serious stuff for this week!

A while ago while reading one of my favourite sites, Red Shoe Ramblings, (sorry, I have no idea how to give you a link to it) I was inspired to share some pictures of fun ideas I've had over the years. I don't know how to get my site to behave and put the captions in the right place, so may have to do explanations later, but here goes.
The headboard and children's chairs are based on an idea to make a chair like a jester's hat, I've made several variations to this over the years.
The bathroom is an old historic cottage, and there was nowhere to put the pipes without serious structural work, so I made a feature out of them, using them to frame the mirror and gave the shower outlet a funky twist.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the wheels of justice grinding slowly on.....

............but it remains to be seen if they are grinding forwards or backwards!
As you know, the intrepid Flash and Super foiled a burglary three weeks ago. A charge was laid with the police, and the intruder carted off in the back of their van.

Well....... so far all attempts to contact ANYONE who might know ANYTHING about the case have been met with spectacular failure. So I am unable to give you even the glimmer of an update on the progress of the case.

What I can tell you is that I am once again in awe of the brilliant design that went into our bodies (leaving aside certain aesthetic imperfections which I still need to complain to the manufacturer about in due course!) I have included pictures taken on the day of the incident, 1 week later and a week after that, and I marvel at our ability to heal.

Back to the wheels of justice, last week I wrote to the Station Commander of the relevant Police Station, to complain about "poor service delivery" (huge catch phrase in Government circles around here) and a request for some information regarding the case. I then met a member of the "Department of Safety and Liaison" whose thankless task it is to ensure that the Police and Judiciary do their jobs, and to address the soaring crime rate in the area. He asked for a copy of the complaint and promised action.

I am not sure who followed up, but I have just received a phone call from a Captain at a different Police Station who wishes to meet with me to "investigate my complaint."

Naturally I would be far more impressed if it had been someone wishing to investigate the actual crime, but who knows.......... watch this space!

Friday, November 03, 2006

a few more new paintings

the African sun was inspired by a poem which begins "the african sun is a frivolous child, so vivaceous, voluptous and wild...". Lest we forget is a reference to war, the poppies being from Flanders. "South African woman" can be lived with as a purple and red landscape, but actually has disturbing references to the amount of violence against women in this country, if one cares to look deeper.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

some of the latest arty farty efforts............ the 2 in the middle are smallish (400x700) the one on the left is called "global warming, the meltdown" and is 900x900mm and the ones on the right are 1100mm wide.