Because today is Earth Day

sunflower during sunset
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“For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constant reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legaccannot be done away with.” From “The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy”, by Michael Mccarthy.

And similarly, from marine biologist and human being truly in love with nature, Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring first ignited the Environmental Movement back in the 1960’s: “Our origins are of the earth. And so there is in us a deeply seated response to the natural universe, which is part of our humanity.”

International Earth Day 2021 is today: 22/04/2021

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 21/04/2021 : Random

Knowing when to Run

Clarens 2021
View of Golden Gate, near Clarens, South Africa

‘True self-care is not bath salts and chocolate cake, it’s making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from’ – Brianna Wiest

Talking of escape, that’s exactly what I happened to do this past weekend. We (my husband and I) spent a weekend in Clarens, a little town about three and half hours from where we live in Johannesburg. It is a beautiful little town, surrounded by hills and mountains and with an abundance of little shops and restaurants and places to enjoy a home grown craft beer or two.  Amazingly, the place seems to be flourishing despite the devastation of Covid, although sadly there are probably casualties that I am not aware of. From Wikipedia: Clarens is a small town situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State province of South Africa and nicknamed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State”. It was established in 1912 and named after the town of Clarens in Switzerland where exiled Paul Kruger spent his last days.

The weekend had been planned some weeks back, and I was looking forward to the break- a change of scene, a breath of fresh air, the pleasure of a mini holiday at a place that we had visited and delighted in over previous visits. However I was not really thinking of it as an escape. That’s a strong word. The feeling of escape came towards the end of the weekend, while we were driving back on the Sunday afternoon, when I reminded myself that I had not checked my phone for messages or notifications, or even gone online the entire weekend since the Friday morning.  And it felt good. It felt liberating. There is a kind of delight in the nonchalance of not feeling inclined to keep checking your phone, when you really feel in your bones that it’s just not important right now, that you have bigger fish to fry, and that fish is called Enjoying Your Day, Unimpeded. And I think that we all need to go there sometimes, to that place where you don’t feel FOMO tugging at your sleeve, or your heart strings or whatever, because that thing that’s REALLY tugging at your heart strings is often what you see when you just lift your eyes from the screen and look beyond your arm’s length to the trees and the clouds, and the Maluti mountain range out there in the distance.

  

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 31/03/2021 : Had To Run

#SoCS: Eureka! What have we found?

 

 

20/03/21: Starts with Cal…

So what is ‘callousness’ without an O? It’s having a hard lump growing on the side of the foot. Oh wait, ‘callusness’ doesn’t make sense. ‘Callusless’ makes sense, sort of, as in being without a callus. It reminds me of that joke: what do you call a man with a shovel in the side of his head?- Doug. And a man without a shovel in the side of his head?- Douglas. But whereas that joke may bring on a bit of a chuckle, ‘callusless’ is not funny. It does not hit home, let alone hit the funny bone, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not in the dictionary. Although maybe it could mean something. Maybe even something profound. Remember that part in Forrest Gump where Sally Field says to Tom Hanks, “If God intended everyone to be the same, he would have put everyone in legbraces”, or words to that effect. And wow, it’s just dawned on me that leg braces have a ‘proper’ name: Calipers- Which is also a ‘cal’ word! This feels like a Eureka moment, although I don’t know what it is I have found, if anything. Is the universe trying to tell me something? About calipers? That feels a bit far- fetched. Maybe the universe is just reminding me that sometimes we would be better off if the exception could be the rule. That things like quirkiness, kindness and creativity (I didn’t plan that alliteration by the way, it just came out like that) should maybe be the norm, the default position, the basic standpoint for all of us. What a beautiful and interesting world we could create…..

Prompted by Linda G Hill at 
Stream of Consciousness Saturdays #SoCS: 20/03/2021

 

 

 

 

 

Looking to where truth lies

blue and white planet display
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Perhaps the truth lies in the spaces inbetween. When we stand back and truly take a look at what is in front of us, at what surrounds us. At what we are in fact a part of. A term known as the Overview Effect may be just the wakeup call that is needed here on planet Earth. Wikipedia describes the Overview Effect as “…a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space.”

The genesis of the term is credited to Frank White while on an airplane flight in the 1970’s: “Anyone living in a space settlement … will always have an overview. They will see things that we know, but that we don’t experience, which is that the Earth is one system. We’re all part of that system, and there is a certain unity and coherence to it all.”

Or as described in stronger terms by Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who clearly knew how to call a spade a spade: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

For more on the Overview Effect and similar kinds of different, you can visit Kyle Kowalski’s beautiful website HERE.  

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 17/03/2021

#SoCS: The path to enlightenment is a slippery slope…

 

 

06/03/21: Butter

Don’t say But, she repeated.

But… he started.

She rolled her eyes. There you go again. Why can’t you just be decisive for a change. Assertive. Focused.

I try, he said. Maybe I just lack those qualities.

I don’t think it’s that, she said, I think that things just stick in your throat. Stop you from speaking your truth. From saying what you mean. So instead, you’re a Butter.

What?

A Butter. You skirt issues by not addressing them. You don’t get to the point. You keep saying But. So that you don’t have to go there.

Where do you think I need to go?

Only you can answer that.

Except I can’t.

Here, have a teaspoon of ghee, that might loosen things up for you.

The teaspoon was silver and with it she scooped up a golden spoonful from the small bucket. It glowed, warm and yellow and shiny. His mouth watered.

But…. he began again, looking doubtful, anxious even.

She rolled her eyes. And there you go again. Don’t be so fearful about everything. It’s only clarified butter you know.

What will it do?

With any luck, it will loosen your tongue for you, make you sing your own song. Speak your truth, so to speak. In India when people go down to the river, to the Ganges to sing and pay homage to their god and to nature, they swallow a spoonful of ghee to loosen the throat, to add sweetness to their voice.

He opened his mouth. He leaned in, and swallowed.

Seconds later, he opened his mouth again. Then, Ommmmmm.

On no, I’ve gone from a Butter to an Ummer, that’s even worse.

No, that didn’t sound like an Um to me, that sounded like Om.

You mean, Om as in Om Shanti?

That’s exactly what I mean! I think you’ve become Enlightened!

He frowned. I don’t feel Enlightened. Not that I would recognise it. I don’t think so anyway. I kind of feel the same.

That’s ok, ‘before enlightenment chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment chop wood, carry water’, and all that.

Okay. He sounded doubtful, still frowning.

Well, maybe it was just an Um, and that’s fine by me too. Anything’s better than listening to you go ‘But…’ all the time. Here, have another spoonful, just in case.

 

Prompted by Linda G Hill at 
Stream of Consciousness Saturdays #SoCS 

 

 

 

 

 

#SoCS: At Home with Pigs

 

 

27/02/21: -Sty:

Years ago we lived right next to a pig sty, my family and me. Not in the pig sty, just next to it. My father added on a little step so that I could stand up and just see over the top of the wall and watch the pigs being fed. The piggy smell was rich and gamey. I felt very at home looking down at all that glossy muddiness, the pigs caked in it, grunting in satisfaction as they tucked into their leafy greens and slops. Directly opposite my prime viewing spot was a tall bale of hay, where our black and white cat, Biggie used to perch himself sometimes from where, like me, he could enjoy the spectacle below.

 

Years later I sometimes wonder what happened to the pigs, and the farm. I do remember what happened to Biggie though. Last I saw of him, he was miaowing unhappily inside his cage, packed and ready to be taken away to his new home. I remember my mother explaining to me that we were going somewhere very far away, and that Biggie would not be able to come with us, but that he would be moving in with some very nice people right here in Crawley, and that they would take good care of him.

 

I remember saying goodbye to Biggie, but not to the pigs, or the pigsty, but I probably did say goodbye. Four year olds are like that. And I think they prefer closure rather than false promises, and I think they understand words like ‘emigration’ when truthfully explained.

 

Prompted by Linda G Hill at 
Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS 

 

 

 

 

 

Are we still waiting for Normal, or is there a better way?

sunflower during sunset
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A friend said to me recently, “It feels like there is nothing to look forward to”. He was referring to Lockdown and  the limitations that it imposes upon his normal life, the constraints on his ability to move around freely, where his options are being sorely compromised by the realities of dealing with this pandemic. No longer can he just go online, cherry pick from a wide selection of wonderful and exciting destinations, and then make his travel plans accordingly. My frequent-flying and adventure seeking friend is in the same boat as the rest of us: his plans are on hold while bigger things are busy running their course. “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I don’t know how he is doing right now, I have no idea how he has adapted to the situation that most of us find ourselves in- dealing with the shock of enforced change, rebuilding aspects of our lives where necessary, and just generally trying to rise to the challenges of navigating this strange and scary new space. Maybe he is waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’, where he can book his flight online and then hop on a plane to fly off somewhere different for a while. For now he will have to continue to wait. We ALL have to wait. But waiting can be painful, and frustrating, and even spirit- crushing. Waiting for change, for that desired outcome or result, is difficult. It can lead us to feel powerless and helpless and anxious. Thank goodness there is a choice. It’s called “Wanting what you already have.” Ok, so it doesn’t replace the satisfaction, the sense of achievement and the thrill of getting that thing that you’ve been coveting and working towards for so long, but never underestimate the power of the little things. The things that are already part of your life, the things that you may forget to notice, are sometimes easily overlooked and taken for granted because the big stuff, the stuff of dreams, just seems so much more exciting.

Continue reading

As Wise as Water

orange mason jar in body of water
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I enjoy collecting quotes: those handy and comforting adages that can offer cheer and relief when things don’t make sense, when the world doesn’t make sense- when you can’t help wondering, despite the wisdom of your years that has taught you that the world does Not have a personal vendetta against you or anyone else, why bad things happen to good people. Even today I received a Whatsapp message from a younger relative, and in my response to him I found myself typing ‘This too Shall Pass.’ Sometimes (usually in fact) there just are no perfect or fully satisfying answers in life, and we find ourselves with more questions than answers, and that kind of waiting period where we try to fix or at least to ‘adapt’ to a difficult situation, only to find ourselves dealing with the next crisis or a different challenge soon after! And we rise to the challenge once again, and sometimes life feels like just a series of events that asks (almost) more of us than we have to give.

Nevertheless, he seemed to appreciate my ‘This too shall pass’ comment, responding with a smiley face 🙂 and hearts ♥♥♥, so I’m glad I could help. Continue reading

When an Ageing Pet Goes

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My Jasper turned nineteen earlier this month. For today I have moved my laptop upstairs to the dining room, where I can sit down to write, and now and then look over to where he is asleep in his basket. How do I write an elegy for a cat who has been a part of my life since he was a kitten just a few weeks old, found at the harbour of the Cape Town Foreshore, a kink already formed in his tail from some injury that had befallen him in those early weeks? I remember his first ever visit to my local vet shortly after I bought him home. She offered to straighten the tail, having assured me that it was not impacting on his health or mobility in any way, and it would be mainly for aesthetic reasons. I kept the kink; he had no doubt been through enough trauma to last him a while; and he still has it to this day. He was my companion in the small cottage where we lived in Bergvliet for a year, just the two of us, before piling onto a plane to Johannesburg along with all of my belongings to continue our lives there. (He went by plane to be exact: myself and my belongings took the scenic route by train from Cape Town to Joburg.) He continued to thrive and strive towards living all his nine lives as fully as possible, through a number of changes of address here in Joburg and including three ‘sisters’: a second cat and a little dog, both of whom he outlived, and then a hen who arrived unexpectedly to take up home in our garden before we found a more suitable home for her, and surviving a number of self-imposed adventures and minor accidents involving periods of absence- sometimes for several days and nights on the trot. Being a parent to cats, especially very adventurous and spirited ones as he was in his youth, has its challenges. His final home, where he has been for the past few years, has been with me and my husband and our beautiful garden that has offered him (and us) plenty of room to move and play and explore, and learn about creatures not commonly found in ‘normal’ gardens, such as scorpions, black widow spiders, small snakes, bats, garden birds flying into our house on occasion, an owl that flies in to visit from time to time, and a buzzard that we sometimes see circling the area before it comes in to settle in one of our trees for hours at a time. Even as recently as March 2020, just as we were settling down to heavy Lockdown restrictions, we underestimated the prowess of the then eighteen year old Jasper. At that stage he was already weakened by more than a touch of Dementia, losing his bearings very easily and becoming disorientated even within his familiar space. Unexpectedly, he wandered out of the property at around 6 o’clock one morning, and despite all our efforts throughout the rest of the day, was nowhere to be found. So when we went off to bed that night, still Jasper-less, it was with very heavy hearts. But he made it safely back! Despite the limitations of his old age, he was able to get back on to the property somewhere around midnight that same day, and I was awakened by the sound of him calling outside the bedroom window, asking to be let in. I suspect he was as happy and relieved as we were at his successful return. But today is different. Over the past two or three days he has weakened dramatically, and has stopped eating and taken barely any water. He walks slowly and with some difficulty over short distances in the house, mainly from his basket to some sunny spot on the porch, and to his water bowl, where he seems to have ‘forgotten’ how to drink and sometimes dips his paw in the water and then licks it. I am trying to help him by feeding him drops from a syringe which I dip into his bowl when I see him struggling. And I made The Big Call earlier today: I have phoned our vet and we have an appointment this afternoon to have him euthanised. There is just never the perfect time for these things, and yet a time has to be made, a decision has to be made. He has been a huge part of my life for nineteen years, and no other being (other than my parents and siblings while I was growing up) has been in my life for that long. This post is not meant to cover all the things I have learnt from him and describe just how precious he has been. Anybody who lives with a beloved pet knows already that we learn from them and that they are precious. This post is really just a short record of my life with him, and of his with me, and a way for me to thank him for bringing so much love and companionship to my life over all the years that we spent together. I love him and will miss him dearly, and I have no way of knowing how life is going to feel without him in my world. Thank you Jasper, for sharing this life with me. You are one of a kind ♥xxxx♥