Friday, 31 August 2007

Tangent: Alphabets

Back to School next week,
Summer's almost gone.
With fear and trepidation,
We teachers bring it on.

New faces looking up at me,
Wanting to please, needing to please.
What will be will be,
What won't be, won't be.

Nothing more can be done!
IF: Alphabets

Thirty-five: Study again

Not that I've ever stopped for too long.

Teaching Diploma ( Special Needs) in 1968.

BA degree in the 1980's.

TEFL Cert and TESOL diploma in the 1990's.

Then a few years ago, after I'd had seven operations in four years/joints, slipped disk, carpal tunnel syndrome etc...and was at home for long periods of time, I started studying again

Diploma in Counselling.

Diploma in Anger Management.

Diploma in Life Coaching.

Diploma in Child Psychology.

I've now enrolled for a Diploma in Anxiety Management and will start next week.

Being in the field of education, one needs to know more and more and more, specially in this crazy world we live in, where kids have changed almost beyond all recognition.
So much to learn, so little time....aaaaaaarrrggghhh

Tangent: Opera

Number Eighteen : Go to the Opera:

Last weekend we went to see the new revived performance of 'Carmen Jones' at the Royal festival Hall in London, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Of course, it was nothing like true opera, very modernised and liberated, but I recognised all the music and hummed along to the tunes. It was vibrant, exciting, clourful and dynamic.

If that's what can be done with opera, then I'm a new fan!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Tangent: Nelson Mandela

I painted this picture of Nelson Mandela in 2003. Isn't it glorious?

Yesterday, 29th August 2007, a statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square in London. I forgot the date, and wasn't there to see him, so feel cross with myself.

When asked who I admire most in my life, my immediate reply is always 'Nelson Mandela'. I remember the day he was released from prison (11th February 2000). We were all watching it on TV and crying. There is no greater man than this one, his love of mankind and his penchant for forgiveness are great examples to emulate. Hail 'Madiba'.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Tangent: Forget Love

"Forget love....I'd rather fall in chocolate." (Anon)

Monday, 27 August 2007

Thirty-four: Paint and paint and paint

Gut wrenching
A huge 'Mind Fuck'
And the realisation that I may have an artistic bone in me after all!

Tangent: French Dog?

Parlez -Vous Francais?
Shalom Kelev.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
No, it's Super Dog, wearing Steve's Yarmulke (Kippah) last Friday night, saying the 'brochah'.

Doesn't she look cute?

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Tangent: In the Box

Life is like a box.

Picking the right box is the important decision!

Readiness to open it is the next!

Living with the contents is the hardest thing you may ever do!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Tangent: Beautiful Hands

I adore beautiful hands. These are some in my collection. A small wooden hand with moving digits, and a smooth surface. Interesting.

' Hands' (Renoir) - got this painting after having 2 operations for 'carpal tunnel syndrome' and still struggling with the pain.

This tapestry ('The Age of Innocence') was done by my late mother. Although the whole picture is remarkable, the hands are best.

This painting was done by my ex father- in- law, now deceased, a man I absolutely adored from the moment I met him, a gentle, kind, honourable man - the hands are wonderful.

Being handsome, clever or wealthy doesn't overwhelm me, but well -kept, fine, clean- above all- clean -hands really do impress me.

Tangent: My Wonderful Bro

While we were sitting in the lounge yesterday, I drew my Bro, but it's not true to life at all.

He's much bigger, broader, rounder and older. He thought this one was too 'fat', but he obviously hasn't looked in the mirror for years!

I adore having him here in London with me!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Thirty-Three: Explore London

We had a wonderful day out in London yesterday, going to the Tate Modern Art Gallery, crossing the Millenium Bridge, approached St Paul's Cathedral, fed the pigeons and enjoyed the hubbub and eccentricity of the locals.
Intend to do this more often, as I do love London.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Thirty -Two: Improve my family portraits

Ha ha ha...have you ever seen such a silly picture before? It was one of the first ones I ever did of Steve. I know one of the 5 year olds in my class could've done better, but I love it. Steve was just lolling around one Sunday afternoon, so I painted him....what a simple result!

He doesn't look anything like this! Or does he?

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Tangent: Playing in the Pond

We went to Fryent Park with Snuffs for a walk and she loved it. There are lots of trees, twisty turny paths and untended bits of grass. Here and there you come upon a pond in the middle of a clearing. Snuffles never shows much interest in these stretches of water, but today she went wading straight in, and kept going. It was hilarious and we couldn't stop giggling. Unc was shouting, 'get her out of there, she's gonna drown', and all we could do was giggle. She turned round and looked at us as if to say 'what're you laughing?'....
She didn't go swimming, she definitely didn't drown....just turned round and wandered out again, looking throughly bored with the whole thing. It was so amusing!

Tangent: Binge

Inner Me

Pre 'Unc'

'Inner Me'

Post Unc

When Unc's here, it's just eat, eat, eat. The man is voracious; he is a bottomless pit; he relishes every smell, sight and taste of 'food, glorious food'. It is quite amazing to me (who abhors the stuff deep down), how much time and energy he can devote to talking about it let alone consuming it.
But his enthusiasm is infectious, and I find myself drawn into this vortex of frenetic activity. I want to feel what he feels; I want to experience this never ending delight that is so obviously the most important thing in his world........

And all I end up with is a huge mass inside me, that feels not only like compacted food, but also self-loathing!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Thirty-One: Go back to Hong Kong

In 1984 I went on a 10 day package-tour to Hong Kong with my (then) best friend, Venette. She and her husband often went to Japan and Hong Kong on business. She raved about this City with all its magnificence, and as I had never been to the Far East, it was the right thing to do. Off we went, leaving our kids with the 'hubbies', and it was all she had said and more! I promised Neil over the next twenty years that I would one day 'take him to Hong Kong'.

Mark and Carla are getting married in Australia in December while on a five week recently planned holiday. They have asked us to come out to Oz to attend their wedding ceremony which we would dearly love to do.
But Australia is definitely not the place we would choose to go to for a 'dream' holiday.
So we find ourselves in a quandary
However, we can go to Hong Kong en route to Oz and stay there for 10 days, hence having our 'dream' holiday to celebrate our 60th birthdays (both next year) and also see our son married.

Mmmmm, this sounds ideal........

Tangent: Captain

O Captain! My Captain!
Our fearful work is done
The ship has weather'd every rack,
The prize we sought is won!
(Walt Whitman 1900)

Tangent: Another red blob

Red blobs large and small,

Suns, flames, bright lights and ulcer pains,

One of the better ones

Is a round, juicy, fat ,slurpy, blobby


(For Switchsky and her hovering dot!)

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Tangent: Scary or what?

Joss and Ian 1952
(age 4 and 3)

Ian and Joss 2007
(55 years later)

Tangent: Whew, that's better

That's better. When I was scanning this painting I had done a few years ago ( titled 'me- on a good day'), I didn't realise that the scanner was still set to scan all the old negatives. The result was a black and white,queer, strange, odd view of the left hand side of this piece of art. But I truly liked the outcome and so posted it. (See Tangent: Emergency). IF
I enjoyed doing this one ages ago, when I was into postcard size drawings, all abstract, so will post some more in due course. See what you think of them.

Tangent: Emergency

A scanner emergency can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

IF: Emergency

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Tangent: So excited

Looking through some old negatives, Neil found these two photos. I am so excited as I thought I'd lost most of them.

The first one is my Ma and Dad on their honeymoon in February 1947.

The second is Ma and me (about 2 years old) at a Sunday picnic in 1950, with my aunt and uncle and cousin ( he was about 7). I ruined their fun by getting measles and causing the whole outing to be cancelled.

Aren't these photographs marvellous? They are very special to me now.

Tangent: A tribute

First bath, 3 months old, (2001).

I looked down at Snuffles lying contentedly at my feet, after stumbling on Bernie's site and tears came to my eyes. There are so many selfless people in this world, and she is one of them.

They say: 'a dog is not just for Christmas, but for life'. So many people, well meaning as they might be, get a dog- either it's foist on them, or they are feeling sentimental, or accept it in a very weak moment, without realising all that this huge responsibility entails. Soon enough, this little bundle of fur has wreaked havoc in their lives causing arguments, hysteria, regret and downright anger.

These dogs, just like out children, don't ask to be born, nor can they choose the home they are in or the people who care for them. They say 'it's a dog's life' and ( as in Snuffs case) that means 'heaven, but in many of Bernie's dos' cases it means HELL.

Please take a moment to read her blog and perhaps to contribute something to a worthy cause. She is definitely on my list of charities from now on and I shall be sending any old doggie things accumulated over the years to her.

Please help.

Bernie, I honour you.

Thirty: See my bro again

My brother and I have always been very close, and losing our parents while still only in our early thirties, cemented this bond even more.

In 1986 I emigrated from South Africa to England, and since then have only seen my bro sporadically. I know there are lots of families where siblings don't communicate very well, or see each other often, and I feel sorry for them, as we are best friends. Over the past 21 years we have both missed so much time together, although thanks to relatively cheap international phone cards, we talk every week. But somehow it's just not the same.

I used to travel to see him quite often, but since my back surgery I cannot manage long journeys, so he comes here. He tries to come every year or 18 months and for this I am very grateful. He only manages about 10 days at a time and this speeds past within an instant.

We 'connect' immediately and start a 'downhill race' against the clock. How does one cram the past year, into such a short time? I get so weary from the excitement, urgency and whirl of him being here, but I hate going off and sleeping as this seems to waste more valuable time. I feel like a thirsty person gasping for a few sips of precious water. The expectancy of the arrival and the terrible anguish of the departure (which we have both learnt to hide in order not to upset one another) overwhelms me. After he leaves, I feel so wrung out, so unnerved, so upset, so incomplete, only to start all over again the next time.

He is the only living soul left in this whole crazy world who has shared my history, and I can't wait till we are together once more.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Mission Accomplished: New Tattoo

This is my new tattoo which I had done 10 days ago and is still healing. To me it represents the two sides of my personality, intertwined, yet not connected. It also shows my heart which has been broken many times, yet is still partially intact. They are not meant to be snakes, but even that connotation is fine (although I was not born in the year of the snakes).

I knew I wanted something small and on my ankle, but wasn't sure what to have. Somehow the idea of a butterfly or bird just didn't do it for me. My friend Bev came with me supposedly to nudge me into it, but I think she was just so inquisitive, she couldn't bear not to. We looked at all the posters on the walls and scanned at least 6 scrapbooks filled with all sorts of wierd, wonderful and downright scary tattoos, and still I couldn't decide. There were symbols for Aquarians (usually quite drab with a few wavey lines for 'water'). There were Japanese squiggles and Samurai wiggles, devils, red hearts and wilting petals. It was mind boggling. The jolly, red -faced, hairy, chubby tattooist was patiently waiting, telling me that I would know as soon as I saw the right one. And I did. This one was perfect. It was not Satanic ( I checked). It was interesting, small enough to look good on an ankle, and could be interpreted differently by anyone who noticed it. The whole process only took about 15 minutes and, although painful, was entertaining as well, with the three of us chatting away happily while Bev blanched and cringed beside me. All in all, a most satisfying day out.

Twenty-nine: Write more poetry

Rummaging through the boxes in our third bedroom (junk room), I found my fridge words that Steve had bought for me in Cape Town about 9 years ago. I sorted them all out and found a way to place them on the back of a tray to hold them in one place as they are small and very fiddly.
Made this poem and stuck it on my fridge door, and reflected on the other poetry I had written years and years ago.
After 20 years of struggling with Anorexia and Bulimia, I decided I needed help.It is a decision, much like Alocoholics Anonymous....'hello, my name is .....and I am anorexic and bulimic'.Only at this stage can any sort of healing begin from within and without. During the period that followed, months and years, I started writing poetry about my problem, which I found extremely cathartic. But, for some reason I cannot find any of my files. I obviously packed them away so well they have disappeared, or disintegrated. Who knows ?Maybe they will appear some day. Until then, I'll start writing about 'things'. And I'll use my fridge words to get me going. Thanks again Steve.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Tangent: Something's missing

In order to deal with my life, I need only one thing!
Something's missing and I know what it is!

Twenty-eight: Find out more

about the other dogs in my life.

I have four important charities that I sponsor. Cancer research, Leukaemia, Guide Dogs and Cuddles ( knitting/crocheting for premature and stillborn babies.)

I sponsor a puppy each year to be trained as a guide dog. An inital photo and description including their character and likes/dislikes is sent to me. So the journey begins. I get regular photos and updates of their progress and feel very proud when they 'qualify'. They move from trainer to trainer for each phase, starting at 6 weeks old, and, lastly, I am introduced to their new blind owner, who also gets fully trained for weeks in handling his/her new pet.

Let me introduce them:

Zita: Born 2004, German Shepherd, confident, cheeky, inquisitive, friendly, loves sleeping.

Panda: Born October 2005, Labrador/Retriever, wilful, feisty, fearless, loves food.

Duggie: Born february 2007, Golden retriever/Labrador, very playful, loves cuddles.

I'd really like to find out how Zita and Panda are getting on in their new lives and even to meet them, as they feel like my own dogs. Probably an impossibiltiy, understandably.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Tangent: showing more paintings

During my painting 'phase', I tried to do some flowers. They were all copied from arrangements I had in vases at one time or another. I am definitely not fond of 'flower' art in any form. I find it vapid and samey-samey. So this was quite an exploration for me.
The first one was a pot of pink geraniums and I wasn't very
satisfied with the end result ( but then maybe no painter ever is).
Then I did the white one, looking down on it ( sort of). And I definitely preferred the outcome.
Lastly ( I only ever painted three) I copied a lovely bouquet that my husband had given me for an Anniversary or Birthday. And I absolutely loved the final picture.

So much so, that it hangs in my house today, the only one of my paintings that does.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Tangent: Time to reflect

Summer's here at last, after months of inclement weather. We always moan about the weather here in England, it is an accepted daily topic. There is a saying here, ' If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!'

Now is the time to spend cool evenings (when the humidity is low) in the garden, in calm reflection. About the past, about today, about tomorrow. I get very wound up in every detail of my life, always have, always will. Nothing is just 'black or white' to me, rather too many shades of grey. I also have this dual personality( not 'the three faces of Eve' type), just two completely different sides. One is soppy and sentimental, romantic and giving. The other is practical, realistic, cynical, bitter and hard.

When I am wrestling with a mental problem ( the physical ones are easier to deal with), it takes over my being. I 'eat, sleep, feel and nag it ' until I reach some sort of solution. I have a very strong premiss that I live by, 'When in doubt, say 'no'. This has been my mantra for many years and it works for me. If something doesn't feel right, I will know as it will niggle at me, will keep me awake at night, will enter my mind as soon as I open my eyes, will come into my thoughts during my working day, will haunt me......until I reach a decision. Then it all vanishes 'in the blink of an eye'.

When one is fasting, one's mind becomes ultra ultra clear, everything fits into it's own compartment, memories flit in and out, and it becomes quite an enjoyable experience to encounter. There are also the negative thoughts looming on the horizon, and these have to be dealt with too.

As I sit quietly in my garden, I reminisce, I ruminate and I reaffirm.

Friday, 3 August 2007



You're engaged.

Be happy.


Twenty-seven: My first grandchild

Steve, 4 months, always laughing.

Steve, 10 months, very curious.


Mark, 4 weeks, looking puzzled.

Mark,22 months, mischievous as usual.

I won't have a grandchild

before 60, but hopefully soon therafter.