It’s summer in the south: stepping into the sun

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Indigenous South African Vygies. Good for water wise gardening

Most of the bloggers that I follow are based in the global North where winter season is round about now making its entrance. Here in the South, we are welcoming in our summer with that distinct lift to the spirits that accompanies this time of year, where you can feel yourself stepping out of the cold and into the light. We too have had our Covid related challenges: South Africa at one point this year was carrying the third or fourth highest infection rate globally, but thankfully that has changed dramatically for the better (not to take anything for granted here). Right now there is plenty of fresh green growth abounding- we have had one or two of the afternoon thunderstorms that are so typical of the Johannesburg Highveld, with some light hailstones- so cooling to the earth as they soak the soil with their nourishing nitrates following a dry and dusty September. This week we find ourselves in the midst of a bit of a heat wave, and yesterday I was in the garden before 8am in bare feet and a sundress, and by mid afternoon the temperature peaked at around 33 degrees celsius on our south facing slope.

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Is there something wrong with this picture?

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Brown  MushroomsPexels.com

In the early years of microwave ovens, when I still lived at home with my parents, there was the adage of ‘don’t cover your food with cling film in the microwave, it will give you cancer.’ Whether the whole truth or not, a lot of people remain instinctively mistrustful of single use plastics, whether out of concern for personal individual health or environmental health. I for one choose not to use cling film. I have not used it for many years and never have it in the house. I prefer to find other ways of wrapping and storing my food. There is enough evidence to conclude that single use plastics ultimately do our health no favours, and it cannot be argued that it is wreaking havoc upon our natural environment as we speak. They remain however, a cheap and convenient kitchen and pantry aid. It is this convenience that attracts us, and keeps us coming back for more. October is breast cancer awareness month in South Africa. And while thankfully it has not affected me personally, I know plenty of women (it can affect men too), including a sibling, who are breast cancer survivors. Continue reading

Being an eco-considerate neighbour (despite the neighbours)

 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Out on the street, on the pavement at the driveway entrance of my neighbour’s property, water is flowing out unchecked from underneath a municipal water main’s cover. This has continued unabated for weeks. Our precious natural resources flowing down the street– wasted, unharnessed, unused. This particular neighbour and I have been trying to get the matter resolved: endless calls to the Municipality (COJ), some of which have gone unanswered; and most recently my calls and emails to our local Councillor who, with his own particular frustrations in being able to influence the matter, was yet hopeful that it would be resolved by last Friday 02 October. But still nothing. I have posted messages on our street’s Whatsapp neighbourhood group, suggesting that others jump in to call COJ and put pressure on them there. My thinking is that if others get involved, we may have a better chance of expediting a positive result. Continue reading

A quick post about a quick garden soup.

Freshly picked garden greens

 

I haven’t blogged about my garden in a while, and there is no time like the present as here in the global South we move steadily into Summer with temperatures in Johannesburg heading into the upper 20’s, and the first of our wonderful seasonal thunderstorms making an appearance. For me there is nothing that shouts Summer like  those lovely soothing Highveld rains, bringing moisture and nourishment to our thirsty gardens, and that unmistakable fresh earthy tang to the air. One of the tasks that I set myself as we go into our summertime here, is to try not to let anything go to waste, although our home grown compost heaps take care of any surplus anyway. Nevertheless, I like to make full use of all that we grow, so that it ends up on our plates as far as possible, and not on the compost heap. I grow a lot of Asian Greens here in our garden in the winter time. They grow beautifully here, in the relatively protected area under the branches of the  almond and the apple trees, safe from the harshest of the cold and the threat of overnight winter frost. But come the first weeks of the warmer weather, typically from late August and beyond, the greens will rapidly go to seed, with little yellow flowers appearing on long stems which suddenly ‘bolt’ almost overnight in the warm, dry weather before the rains come. Continue reading

How to be “Normal”, and what does that really mean?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

 

I think back to myself growing up sometimes: to the achiever wanting to do her best, wanting to please her parents and to be acceptable and likeable in the eyes of other kids, and with any luck to be invited to their birthday parties. I certainly would have been horrified, devastated even, at being considered not normal. Who would want that? In many ways it was easier to be average rather than the achiever at school. Average was synonymous with normal, and this is what made you acceptable in the eyes of the other kids. Yes, accolades can be nice, although not necessarily if you are painfully shy, as I was. Being singled out in the school hall or the classroom always gave me the shakes and sweaty palms and a furious blush for all to see. And of course being too much of an achiever can be alienating—you can end up being regarded as different by the other kids, when all you want is just to be part of things– regular, ordinary even. More than anything I just wanted to be normal, acceptable, one of the group; not to be told by the boys, as I recall as a Tween ballet dancer: “Your legs are so thin they are just not normal.”

Normal is a big word: it talks to us of where and how we ‘should be’, it lets us know how the ball park has been set out, where the safe area is, where we need to be to at least be known to be functional and ‘healthy’. Normal is also a very small, mean word; one used freely by those who judge us to be not really accepted or acceptable in their small, mean opinion Continue reading

A touch of Insomnia: how to tread the lonely path in the wee small hours

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Photo by Vedad Colic on Pexels.com

 

Sunday night was one of those nights. You wake up in the early hours to make a quick trip down the hall and then that’s it. Sleep is well and truly interrupted. The rhythm is gone, never to be seen again– for tonight, anyway. After twenty minutes or so, despite tissue salts (#6 Kali Phos may help), conscious slow breathing and counting backwards from 100, I’m still there, firmly in the grip of something that is bigger than my toolkit and all my best intentions. Sometimes I even forget about the toolkit—I forget to check on myself and what is happening with my thoughts, and how these may be affecting my breath and heart rate. A sudden recollection of a disagreement at work or at home may lead to an unexpected welling up of outrage, resentment, or whatever, and before you know it you are confronting that person in your head, you are feeling the steaminess of anger and righteous indignation, your heart rate goes up as your blood starts to boil, and in no time you are wide awake, living those unpleasant memories, and any hope of sleep has left the building!

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What’s that on the horizon? It’s the dizzy heights of bad taste.

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In my Garden

With lockdown regulations having been relaxed a bit here recently, I was this past weekend harshly reminded of one of my Big Dislikes (pet hates) as I peeled off onto the highway in my car. I hadn’t had to look at one of those gargantuan, freestanding advertising billboards for some time, and I was not pleased as I spotted one in the distance, realizing then that within a few kilometers my senses were about to be assaulted in full colour. I could see the thing in the distance, preparing to stare me down as I got closer and closer. There are other things about city living that bother me almost as much, but these Leviathans hold a special (dark) place in my heart. And in these troubled Covid times, they somehow seem even more awkward, ugly and intrusive — out of place and out of step with the times.

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Have you visited your own blog site lately? It may have news for you

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Tapestry detail

 

 

I went through my own blogsite on Saturday– spent some time there, sprucing things up a bit. I changed the appearance– the colour scheme, the font and a few other features. I thought about changing the theme, but I wasn’t feeling quite THAT adventurous, (although according to WP it is quite easy), so I decided to stay with what I know and just tweak and freshen things up a bit. There’s nothing like a bit of a trim and a pop of new colour to help you step up a gear. Oh, and I added a new page, dedicated to my writing dabbles, which I shall add to over time, till it’s bursting at the seams. At the moment there is just one piece of short fiction in there. Baby steps.

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Revisiting your ‘normal’ while on a slippery (Covid) slope 

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In my garden: Pear Tree under Autumn skies

 

I am accustomed to working from home. What I’m not accustomed to is having someone at home with me, sitting at his desk just on the other side of the pillar while I sit at mine. It’s not really a big deal- while he’s busy on one of his conference calls, or speaking to a colleague on the phone, in go my earplugs and I continue as normal. So on a practical level things have not changed much- I still do pretty much the same stuff as I did before lockdown: cook food, clean house, garden garden, feed cat. And write.

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In Times of Trouble: Living with yourself in Lockdown. 

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In my garden: flowering Crassula with Bees

 

Here at the Southernmost tip of Africa, we have just passed our twentieth day in Lockdown. There is that distinct and awkward feeling of trying to carry on as normal, as if nothing unusual is happening. And interestingly, whether unusual or not, we get on with life anyway, don’t we? And many of the challenges are the same as they ever were: the frustration of a laptop which suddenly plays up, or knowing that you need to make that difficult call, or deciding what to make for dinner. But we are fortunate if those are the extent of our concerns. There are people I know who are wondering when, and even if, they are going to be able to get back to earning an income, and others, far worse, who may not even know where there next meal comes from and are dependent at this time on the goodwill of others. On the positive side, there has been a groundswell of individuals and organisations who have reached out and stepped in to help, to try and offer something to people in our midst who are living with very little means of support.

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