Friday, August 31, 2007

jumbled ramblings

Yesterday it was a busy day in arty-fartyland. First of all Mr A-F had a birthday, (suffice it to say middle age is a long forgotten dream, this is now the real macoy!)

So there was the usual "I'm special and can't lift a finger today" paralysis that sets in, while the rest of the family scurry around waiting hand and foot on the recipient of the "Birthday treatment." (Over the years, this has become a sort of divine right granted to those of our family having a birthday, but I must say, Mr A-F has it down to a fine art.)

It usually entails a tray of coffee, a vase of flowers, and assorted gifts being brought to the recipient, who generally languishes in bed while all this is happening. The family gathers on the bed for the opening of the gifts. These are a motley bunch (the presents, not the family!!.......we-ell actually........) and include a decent gift from the grown-ups and other adult kids, and assorted little treasures (such as chocolate, waterproof camping matches, etc) from the pets, cars etc.

Then there is generally a disgustingly unhealthy fry-up for breakfast, involving bacon, eggs, sausages and any other edible stuff which isn't green or nutricious, and we go about our day.

At night, the star of the day gets to nominate their favourite food, and we all gather for the Birthday Dinner, at which, again, the star gets to sit around and not feel obliged to help, wash up or do anything more energetic than chewing and grunting with pleasure ocassionally!

This time of the year is VERY HARD WORK because between July and October so many of us have our special days. ( We are very excited about the new little one who will be included in this bunch soon, she is due in 2 weeks time!) Then we get a breather till December, when there is another batch, althought most of these live over the hills and far away, so to speak.

No wonder we have hardly any energy left to make a big fuss about Christmas, which is an entirely more low-key affair in this family!

Yesterday, Mr A-F was at home, and so accompanied C, K and I on an outing back to Red Location Museum, the Anti Apartheid Museum, which I told you about recently.

I had to drop off some paintings there, for an Art Awards entry, and so it was the perfect opportunity to revisit this amazing place. I spotted some fascinating old anti apartheid posters.....

(excuse the horrible picture quality, the lighting was poor but flash glazed the glossy surface, so i had to do slow shutter speed, hand held) These were produced at the height of the repression, and anyone caught with this sort of poster would have been in serious trouble, free speech was NOT encouraged! (The man being pulled in the cart in the second one is PW Botha, who was State President at the time, and under whose draconian leadership the repression reached new heights)

and also a couple of community made quilts, which I thought you quilters out there in blogland may enjoy.
This is a large piece, about 3 m x 4 m in size. I love the way the corrogated iron shacks are depicted in the panels across the top. (Click for bigger view)
And this is in a room dedicated to showing the artworks done by children as part of a wonderful art project. It consists of embroidered and beaded panels.
It is very apt that these are communal works, because, as in any place where a group of people are victimised, they tend to close ranks and form a tight-knit group, and in townships like red location, this is very noticable. The community spirit is very strong, and the people often tend to work as a group rather than as individuals. (This is a generalisation, of course, but there is a strong contrast between the more affluent suburbs, where people live isolated lives behind high walls, and can live for years next to people they have never met, while in the townships, generally everyone knows and looks out for their neighbours.)

Then in the afternoon, we went to book the hospital for the impending birth of grandchild#2.
I was blown away, things have really changed for the better since my kids were born!

Ethan was born in Zimbabwe, under really bad conditions, so obviously it depends where you are, but the St Georges hospital here has double suites that look like 5 star hotel rooms, where mom, dad and baby all stay together.

When K was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, 30 years ago (hee hee yup, the BIG 3-0 is looming....) she was whisked off into a large room full of little cots on trolleys, with rows of little tightly wrapped pastel pink and blue bundles, identifiable only by the name tags above them. I was stuck in a ward with 3 other women, and she was brought to me for feeding once every 4 hours, and Max had to visit only at rigidly appointed times, and see his daughter through glass, being held up by a nurse. Any of the pink blobs would have done, it would have been hard to tell the difference!

By the time #1 was born 2 years later, (this is confusing, he is actually #2, but due to a play on words between his name and how it sounds in Afrikaans, his nickname is #1) we were in Port Elizabeth, and things were MARGINALLY more enlightened. I was still in a ward of 4 beds, and husbands still had to stick to limited and rigid visiting hours, but the babies were allowed to stay in little cots next to the mother's beds, and be fed on demand, instead of to the rigid 4 hourly schedule of the other place. This meant dads had an opportunity to get used to holding the babies before they arrived home.

It all sounds like something out of the dark ages, compared to the new setup....long live progress!


Max-e said...

There are definitely cracks in the birthday tradition system - I made my own coffee in the afternoon when all my broad and unsubtle hints were ignored.
Oh....... and I think the new maternity wards at St Georges are part of a feminist plot to rope dads into changing nappies from day one.

RUTH said...

Happy Birthday to Mr A-F; my dear Mick used to make his birthday last at least a week!!!
Things have changed here too in maternity wards; when I gave birth to Leanne I had to stay in hospital for 4 days....30 years later when Leanne gave birth to Melissa she only stayed in 4 HOURS!!!
Make sure you let us know when the new little one arrives...only 2 weeks to exciting :o)