Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Monday, 30 July 2007

Twenty-five: Detox and de-clutter

I painted this in 2003 when I was in a really bad way after having just had back surgery for a slipped disc followed by a shoulder operation 9 weeks later. I called it 'obesity and pain'.

Now, here I am 4 years later, fit and well, thank heavens, but still in a bit of a mess, physically and emotionally, and with my important birthday drawing closer, I feel the need to detox and de-clutter.

So: water fast and some really fierce housekeeping, here I come!

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Tangent: A thought


it would

so i live my life

loving both

having the best of both

a shih tsu to love and adore

and memories of my 'bullies' I once had.

Tangent: My true love

Yes, I know you thought I was going to warble on about a man again.............

Well, this is a man, a real he-man, a powerful, angry-looking but really 'soft as putty inside' sort of man (that's how I like my men.)

I am absolutely nuts about bulldogs. Yes, I know I have a little shih tsu, but I grew up with 'bullies'.

They are the ugliest, handsomest dogs, pure in nature, totally loyal, shlobbery, messy, eaters,make humungously huge craps, moult, fart, snort and just don't seem to fit into their own skins.

But look at that face, the eyes are so warm and loving, appealing and desperate. How can you not love this face?

They are valiant, strong, noisy, fierce and stubborn.They are playful, generous, kind, children-loving, comfort-loving, lazy slobs and I adore them.

So, why do I not have a 'bully' to share my life with. I am just too old to manage one now, to handle him, to care for him, to give him the walks he needs and the care he needs (have you ever tried to lift a 50 pound dog into a bath to wash him?)

If I could, I would.

I salute you, oh bulldog, love of my life!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Twenty- four: Do more drawing

I had such fun doing these three little pictures of myself, copied (that's what I was supposed to be doing) from 3 photographs, one when I was about 5, one when I was about 25, and one when I was about 55. What a funny sight they are, looking nothing like me at all, yet something of me in each one. I will giggle every time I look at this.

I would like to go to some drawing classes, which I think I prefer to painting. There's something so real about a pencil sketch. I'll keep trying and hopefully improve as I go along. In the meantime, I'll have a giggle.

Tangent: Oh Boy

All my lovin'

All my kissin'

You don't know

What you been a missin'

Oh Boy - when you're with me

Oh Boy, the world can see

That you were meant for me

All of my life

I been a waitin'

Tonight there'll be no hesitatin'

Oh Boy - when you're with me

Oh Boy, the world can see

That you were meant for me

Stars appear

And the shadows a fallin'

You can hear my heart a callin'

A little bit of lovin'

Makes everything right

And I'm gonna see

My baby tonight
Buddy Holly and the Crickets
My first craze 1958

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Twenty-three: Renovate my family tree

I have a very very scrappy, torn, yellowed, 'bitty' family tree, which is mostly illegible and not in any reader-friendly form. Every now and then I haul it out and pore over it for ages, trying to decipher the words and also trying to imagine the people and their long ago connections to me.

Before I turn 60, or in my 60th year, I'd like to renovate it, bring it back to 'life' so to speak, and have a document that can then be passed on to my kids and their kids after them.

I thought about employing a calligrapher to re-write it all in a beautiful flowing script, but then Neil informed me that there are computer programmes one can buy these days which allow you to delve into your genealogy. The calligraphy idea still interests me more!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Twenty-two: Laud my profession

'My Daddy is a Giant' Carl Norac

Remi 6 years old
It's only 3 days into the 6 week's Summer holiday and already I miss them. These indefatigable, rumbustious kiddies that arrive at my classroom door every September, anxious, eager, confident, shy, happy, tense and some even weeping copiously. Behind them their equally anxious, some overprotective, some neglectful parents, few wanting to stay, but most wanting to run away as fast as their legs can carry them.

It is an awesome, mindblowing, deafeningly tiring, frighteningly responsible job that I do. They say 'those that can - do, those than can't - teach'. That may well be the case, but I defy anyone out there to try and do what we do in the space of a 6 hour day.

'The Lion King'
Poojan 6 years old.

If you consider that a day has 24 hours, of which we sleep 12 hours (well kids do anyway) and they are at school for 6 hours of their waking day, that will give you some idea of the magnitude of our work. In these modern times parents work long hours, which means that, from Monday to Friday, we are with their children, nurturing and educating them for more hours than they are. Those of you with children, have all heard them say 'but my teacher says.....' Even my own used to say this to me when they were at school! We take on a 'godlike' form to thse youngsters.

At the end of another academic year, they bundle out of that same classroom door they came in to 10 months before, weeping for another reason, not wanting to leave and go to a new teacher. Fraught with all sorts of problems, filled with oodles of joy and crammed with loadsa successes, I can only thank God that I chose to do this job 39 years ago, and love it as much now as I did then.

I laud my profession and pay a tribute to all of you who work in it, at whatever level, whatever age group and wherever you are. Here's to us!

'No printed word, nor spoken plea
Can teach young hearts what mand should be
Not all the books on all the shelves
But what the teachers are themselves.'

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Tangent: Ma says #3


Tangent: My animals

When Mark was about seven, he got me my first 'animal' (the little brown dog). I think it was for Mother's Day and I cherished it. Somehow, in his teens, this became a regular thing, to give me an 'animal' for my birthdays and Mother's Days.
To this very day, despite others' jealousies and even ridicule, every time he goes overseas to work, or on holiday, or sometimes for no reason at all, out comes this funny shaped wrapping, denoting a new member of my animal family. Each one is unique and sometimes even peculiar, but they are all very special. I have over 40 of them by now and alternate them so that they are not all out at once (too many to dust anyway).
They are more precious than gold, more loved than diamonds and have been shipped all arouund the world with me, wherever I've been living and working. They are part of the bond that ties him and I, and will always be.

Thanks Markles for each and every one of them, and please pass them on to your own kids one day, from me!

Tangent:Spirit Singer Rattle

Mark gave me this quaint little 'fellow' last week when he returned from a business trip to Phoenix, Arizona.

'This rattle is a hand sized sculpture created to brighten your spirits, lighten your heart and help shake your cares away.'

It was love at first sight for me, and just what the doctor ordered, as my spirits need brightening right now.

Thanks Markles.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Twenty-one: Start exercising

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, forgive me while I have a good chuckle at this one. I have been promising myself to do this for ages and ages, and I mean ages and ages. In my 'youth', well mainly in my thirties when I was mostly/very/altogether anorexic and bulimic, I used to go to Lynn's Yoga classes , round the corner in her garage, 3/ 4 times a week, and I would've gone every day if I could've. In fact, she once had a class at 8.30am on New Year's day and it was packed. I was fitness mad, I was body beautiful mad, I was food obsessed( or the lack of it). I felt fantastic. Believe me when I say that (particularly) anorexia makes you feel so 'good' inside, so in control, so lovely, so powerful. I loved my size 8 body, my trim ass, my svelte form. Life was good and I was good at it.

Nowadays, although active in my job, I am a (born again) 'couch potato' and love nothing more than slouching in front of the telly, doing some knitting or crocheting, watching movies, or listening to audio books on my ipod. Gone are those frenetic days, and thank goodness for that! But I do need to do some daily stretching exercises, specially for my age.....one day, before I turn 60, I'll start, I promise...ha ha ha ha ha

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Twenty: Ode to Moo's bed

My husband calls me 'Moo'. He says it's better than calling me a 'bloody cow'. I've had the name for years and I adore it. This is not about funny nicknames though, it's about 'Moo's bed'.

I lurv my bed. It's my safe haven It's the place I feel most 'at home'. It's the place I go to when the world 'wobbles'. I have often in the past stuck my head under the pillow in order to 'hide' from the world and feel safe (specially in my childhood). Haven't had to do that for many years though.
It's warm, snug, comfy, relaxing and soothing. And, as an extra bonus, I share it with Neil.

My pillow is soft, and just the right height. The duvet is draped just as I like it, as I do the draping, not too much on my side, not too much over the edge, not too much on his side, just right.
I don't have satin sheets, or spectacular colour schemes, in fact my bedroom is very ordinary. No head board at the back of the bed, can't stand those things. No phenomenally gorgeous, outlandishly priced linen, just my usual slightly faded set with the little blue and white flowers, also slightly faded. The walls are painted light cream and have a few bits of art on them, the one of the District Six in Cape Town and the other sea scene in faded pinks with a battered old boat on a desolate beach (both originals, done by African artists and bought on the street from the artists themselves). I do like original art, and have a few more dotted around, all bought or given to me by the artists themselves, including Steve's oil painting he did.
So, here's my ode to my bed.....

' When I'm feeling blue, all I got to do is take a look at you, then I'm not so blue....'

Okay, so it's not an original song, so what?

Nineteen: See Rock Concert

When I was young, sigh, Rock Concerts were unheard of, uninvented, unknown. In any case I lived in the smallest town in the outer reaches of civilization (or so it felt), and who would possibly even visit there, let alone bring some culture with them.
Hollywood and all things famous were a million miles and a million zillion light years away from our existence.
My best friends, Priscilla and Cynthia, were totally besotted with Elvis, and in our teens, they got a subscription for a monthly Hollywood ( mixture of 'Heat' and NME ) style magazine, which we devoured over and over and over. We drooled over him in his army uniform, we mourned his love affair with Priscilla (although Cilla was chuffed that she had the same name as her. Imagine anyone famous being called Priscilla?)

Later,when my kids were young, sigh, they adored Michael Jackson. Steven idolised him, ate, drank, and slept him. he adorned every wall, every space with posters of the great singer, spent all his pocket money on his music, and then at about 12 years old, demanded a Michael Jackson glove, which I then created for him in a rush, having to somehow locate the exact beads to make this phenomenal replica, as he hovered over me with scarcely contained excitement, and then wore every day from then on. I'm sure he even slept with it on at first.
When Mark, who is five years younger, then also got hooked, I joined the gang. Every one of his records was played and played and then played again, each time with renewed enjoyment.

Imagine then, in 1988, after we had moved to the UK, going to see the 'man' himself at Wembley on his 'BAD' tour. We sat miles away from the stage and watched in fascination and awe as he steppped, writhed, moon danced, sang and created a spectacular show before our very eyes, with images on large billboards across the arena. It was magic!

That's it, the sum total of my lice Concert experience. Oh, almost forgot, saw Johnny Clegg and Savuka in Johannesburg a few years later with Mark and I jived the night away, a totally diferent, but equally fabulous experience.
I wanted to see the princess Diana Concert a few weeks ago, but somehow I missed all the hype and hubbub; watched it all on telly and loved it too.
Heaven only knows whether my poor old ears could withstand hours and hours of yelling, loud music, often unintelligible, and crowds of eager young things pushing and prodding, not to mention smoking, and boozing all around me.

Sigh, maybe I'll wait for Pavarotti, and hope he makes some sort of last minute, last return to do a concert in London. Sigh, come on Luciano, you're not Elvis, but then,who cares?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Tangent: Doesn't it?

doesn't it?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Tangent: Friends, old and new

Me and Rayna - South Africa - December 1984

Being an Aquarian, which is known as the 'friendship' sign of the zodiac, I find it very easy to make friends. Or should I say, I seem to 'collect' people who consider themselves my friends, like others collect stamps or theatre programmes.

Everyone is drawn to my cheery nature, my enthusiasm, my youthfulness and my energy (their words, not mine), as well as my 'always there for you' personality. I am a real chatterbox who loves the odd bit of gossip; okay, okay, I love the whole bit of gossip.

Mostly, I suppose, I rely on the 'when you laugh, the whole world laughs with you, when you cry, you cry alone!' principle, and this makes me a people magnet, specially those who need to cry and cry and cry. They get some sort of internal message that I provide a good 'shoulder' for anyone and everyone.

But as far as considering them my friends, there are very very few.

My 'old' friends are not those old in age, but in longevity of friendship. I met Priscilla (who I've mentioned before) when I was 4 and she 5. They lived in the house behind us and it was 'like' at first sight, and 55 years later, we are still very much 'in like' with each other.

My other dear friend, Rayna, who I met at 20, is still my dear friend after 40 years. I shared a flat with her the year I started teaching and we used to talk and giggle late into the night. We have recently re-connected after many years, and it's the same as back in 1969.

Nowadays I seem to be drawn to the younger generation, making friends with Christine in Kuwait, she at 30, me at nearly 50, and now I have a new 'best' friend, Lorraine, she at 30, me at nearly 60.

I find it exceedingly hard to keep 'floating' acquaintances for too long. They are linked to me usually by rather a weak, common link, e.g. work, or an art course or a short holiday meeting. But, when I do make a true friend, it is for life.

Maybe it's because most of us live continents apart from each other, that we have remained friends.

My definition of a good friend is:
someone who is as interested in me, as I am in her.
someone who says she cares about me and means it.
someone I feel I could ring in the middle of the night if I were in trouble and she would drop everything and come.

So, here's to you, Cilla, Rayna, Chris and Bev! Quality, not quantity!

Me and Rayna - London - December 2006

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Eighteen: Go to the opera

Why? I'm really not sure. It just seems one of those cultured/ cultural things to do before 60.
Maybe it's one of those things you may do only once and then never again.
Maybe I've been to one before. ' Madame Butterfly' I think it was.
Maybe that was 'Miss Saigon' that I saw at the West End in about 1991.

I want to feel the passion, the angst, the drama, the tension as the hugely, bebosomed lady , dressed in swirls of red velevet-warbles to her stout, tightly over dressed gentleman lover, something entirely unintelligible, preferably in Italian.

Ha ha I am a real 'pleb' when it comes to the Opera, therefore I have to try to educate myself.
At least I'd be mixing with the upper classes for the evening pretending that I know what I'm doing!
Yes, I'm sure I did see Madame Butterfly many years ago! Just shows what an impression it left on me!

Seventeen: Make a collage

Okay, let's get one thing quite clear, I do NOT want cutesy, boring, little pressies on my 60th birthday. Bugger that.
No cake either. Knowing my kids, it would probably look like this! Mind you, a big, fat, fattening cholesterol -packed cheesecake would do me fine!
I've given it a lot of thought. How mind-blowing would it be to have my life presented in pictorial/art form. Something not only to treasure and giggle over, as it would have to be really cheery and fun, not heavy and worn looking, but also something to leave for the kiddies. Better than the mercedes and £200,000 (which I don't have anyway,ha ha)
Not being arty at all, I also thought of putting all my photos into some sort of convoluted picture on picture, tangled into one another like my very life is, tangled....but no, don't like that idea.
Maybe get the people I know who are artistic to create something following my direction. No, too impersonal, too hygienic and perfect. Not saying I'm not hygienic or perfect, but that would be too sterile and not me either.
Quandary, conundrum, puzzle, mmm what to do?
So I told Steve what I wanted and he mulled it over and we talked some more .
He has made a wonderful suggestion, which he has offered to do as his present/tribute to me.
Not gonna say what it may be, you all just watch this space!

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Sixteen: Remember the silver lining

everyday crap?

it's there,
just look for it!

Tangent The 'Knitnuts'

Presenting the blanket to Kath for her hospital stay.

Our recycling project

A blanket for Tamara's gran.

My doll, isn't she cute?

Friday, 6 July 2007

Tangent: My heart is full

Not of gravy, but of overwhelming joy, as I am a sucker for attention, adoration and love! Yup, the sickly sycophantic sort, no commitment, just quick and easy....
This does not come from the plate of cholesterol you see here, but the event behind it.
Let me explain. I have always wanted a surprise party, someone to go overboard especially for me, to plan and organise and develop and consult and get great pleasure out of giving something to another person they love/adore/worship! In fact, it was definitely on the list of 60 things to do/ have before 60.
I got it. Yup. I did.
No, not just a plate of nosh, a real, honest to God, down to earth surprise party.
Let me explain. yesterday at lunchtime in school, it was my regular 'knitting club' get together, with my 10, 11, 12 year olds. I started the club last September, never thinking that it would take off, but it did and has been the most popular club at school, with nearly 30 girls (and one brave boy) knitting and crocheting. In fact, it has become such a craze that their teachers were having to tell them to 'put away your knitting now, I want to start the maths lesson.'
I have derived huge waves pf pleasure and gratitude the past months. We have made a blanket for a teacher going into hospital, and worked feverishly for our Summer fair to sell scrunchies, purses, ipod covers, spectacles covers, mobile phone covers, handbags etc. Special thanks to my friend Gill who gave up her time to come and help us week in and week out.
I had planned to give them an 'end of year' party next week, when I was suddenly and mysteriously called away from my class just before lunchtime, so that they could prepare.
And prepare they did.
The blinds were closed, the lights off, the food stretched from one end of the table to the other, the orange juice poured and everyone waiting quietly till I was accosted outside the door and led in blindfolded.

With a whoop of 'surprise' they jumped up crowding round me and kissing and hugging me for joy. What a wonderful, amazing, incredibly delightful experience it was.
Overwhelmingly speechless (for once) with tear filled eyes I just hugged them back and we all got stuck in to eat, drink and be merry. We toasted one another several times, we thought about and expressed the things we were all grateful for, and we all had to say the one thing that we had enjoyed the most this last year...'Knitting club' of course we all shouted!!!!
So I have had my surprise party and what a joyful one it was. The plate of food I brought home for my husband is the only testament to it all, as I forgot to take my camera to school ! Blast!
Otherwise a perfect ending to a perfect club.
With a waiting list for next year!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Tangent:An apple for teacher

It's that time of the year again, waving goodbye to the (often crying) kids in your class and sending them along to the next dragon!

I hate it and love it at the same time.

They have been like my family, my kids, my reason to get up in the morning.

And, now, that's all over - yet again.

So the pressies start rolling in, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Candles that stink, loadsa bubble baths and chocolates.

Somehow not enough for all those months and months of slog. yet, still feeling like some sort of 'handout'!

My ideal gift would be a mug bearing the slogan" Coat finder, pencil sharpener, surrogate mother, walking encyclopaedia, form filler, arbitrator, language specialist, fundraiser, accountant, musician, government directive reader, PR officer, nanny, examiner, crowd controller, scapegoat............just call me a teacher!"

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Fifteen: Have someone/something named after me

What a rush, to wake up every day and know that the neighbour's new kitten is named after you.

Seriously though, what is the one thing we want to leave behind when we swoosh off into the blue beyond?

A bit of ourselves.

Otherwise, why in heavens name would we ever consider having kids? Yes, I know all about those 'moaning whores', better known as hormones.They do tend to interfere with one's everyday life to a large or larger or even larger extent. And do they make you do all sorts of crazy things? oh boy....

But other than that urgent 'something' inside you that demands procreation, there is no earthly reason why a woman would want to punish herself for the rest of her living days having another human being forever dependent on her in some way or another. This loss of freedom, loss of identity, loss of 'self' is not something we would willingly request if given half a chance.

And how many of us would consider repeating the whole process again if given a second chance?

Where was I? Oh yes, having someone or something named after me would be great. One of my dreams was to write children's books filled with thrills and spills, preferably set somewhere in deepest darkest Africa. But that one floated away a long time ago. So, you won't be seeing any of my publications on the shelves at Waterstone's any time soon.

That leaves me with either the neighbour's cat, er, I don't think so as I don't even like felines, or, er, something else. Really I don't mind what it turns out to be, a bench on the park with my name on it or a newly grafted rose named in my honour. I'm not fussy, but someone has to decide what and when and how, and pretty soon too.

Er, on second thoughts, maybe the neighbour's kitten will have to do.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Monday, 2 July 2007

Fourteen: Find more of these

hauntingly beautiful
perfect contours


my history
my baggage