Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating the Mind

Please note – I’m reposting this as part of the ‘Deja Vu Blogfest – 2014′.

garden       Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating the Mind

‘To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves’ - Gandhi.

I took this photograph of orchids in pots on the patio with my cell phone last week when we returned from the Cape and the Wellington Wine Walk. I wish I could tell you the name of them. They are so beautiful and came with us from our old home last year when we moved into the town house. I snipped a few stems, and they’re in a vase gracing the table in the entrance of our home.

I am at my desk in my study which looks out into my garden. I see those orchids amongst a backdrop of white and red roses and various other bushy plants and flowers.  We’re winding our way into winter here in South Africa, and I wonder how my plants will fare. No doubt there will be frost.

I think of a few things. One of my mother, long gone, and her extraordinary way with plants, flowers, vegetables. She knew of Findhorn in the north east of Scotland, long before it became fashionable. Its’ history beginning in the early 1960’s, with pioneers Peter and Eileen Caddy, and Dorothy MacLean is a fascinating one. Out of economic necessity and in order to feed their family, they began growing their own vegetables in the most inhospitable soil imaginable. With the guidance of intuition and using inner wisdom – ‘the still small voice within’ – Findhorn became a thriving community. To the amazement of all, those plants and veg were several times larger than normal size, more brightly coloured and flavoursome, more rich in nutrients.

My late mother would talk to her plants, and play them music from a battery operated tape machine (Bach and Mozart), and encourage them to grow. We probably as children thought her eccentric; she was a yoga teacher after all. But grow they did. O my goodness, they were delicious! We learned from an early age to love broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots etc. Nasturtium leaves in our school sandwiches gave them an extra zing and a bit of a sinus washout. Violet petals strewn among salad with home grown tomatoes and goodness knows what else made salad a feast for our eyes and taste buds. Lavender was always planted to attract bees -

Decades later, I also check on my plants and thank them for their beauty. I fret when the bougainvillea in their large pots don’t grow as fast or as assuredly as I would like. I haven’t got round to playing them music yet but maybe I will. I have a portable CD player – I could buy batteries for it and take it outside. I wonder if the bougainvillea would like Bach or Beethoven?

I see the parallels in my mother cultivating her garden with her cultivating her mind. The love and the care she gave to tending her garden was the same love and care she extended in her yoga classes and towards all with whom she came into contact.

Being in touch with Mother Nature and her bounty is a way that we could all cultivate our minds. We can see when things need pruning in our gardens; similarly we can work out what needs pruning in our minds. We can dig and root out the dead wood, that which no longer serves a purpose, remove the weeds that cover over and choke, in our minds.  Welcome the elements, no matter how treacherous they may seem, in our minds as well. Aerate the worms who go about doing their business, in our minds. Plant seeds, in prepared soil, in our minds. Cultivate the imagination as you use your hands to do the work. Have a healthy respect for the messiness and dirt – in our minds. Cultivate it, use it for good compost.

Mr. Nelson Mandela’s Death One Year On

Mr. Nelson Mandela Tomorrow, the 5th December, will mark a year since our beloved Mr. Nelson Mandela’s death.  For several months prior to his death, he was elderly and frail and incommunicado.  South Africa was forever holding its breath waiting to hear -

Our country and world-wide went into collective mourning – he is still mourned. Along with the mourning, is the wish that we had someone of his stature to lead our country. He stood for all that was good and true and expressed on all occasions his wish for all to live in peace and harmony. He eschewed violence and embraced peace.

The loss of our Father was deeply felt, in the gut. He really was our Father, who guided us with sternness, compassion, forgiveness. He encouraged us to work hard, get educated, be proud of our achievements, help the other, be the change we want to see

 The pain of our loss is still with us … but the pain is valuable in that we feel his absence. But another value of this pain, indirect it may be, is that the longing, the nostalgia, forces us to look at what is, what has become of his legacy. What can we salvage from the tatters and detritus and the dung that is present in our country at this time, all of us edgy, wondering if the abyss looms. And, in all gloominess, personally felt, I wonder if we, and any other country in the world, needs to fully experience the abyss in order for the gold to emerge. Get things broken down, scrambled and turned inside out, so to speak. Let the people speak. Let us talk about our pain. Let us reflect. Let us say no to all that is rotten. Pluck the nugget, from the dung, no matter how small, that emerges. Let another miracle happen – for our beloved country -

He spent 27 years on Robben Island (11km from Cape Town, almost 7 miles, photo below) before his release and thereafter becoming our President in 1994, 20 years ago, when our first democratic election was held. Those years of exile on Robben Island were invaluable to him, he said. He has stated that he saw those years of confinement as necessary for his development as an individual in that he gained a broader vision of his place in the world. He stated in his autobiography, that the only way to make an impact on society and one’s fellow man is to effect a change in one’s self. It is necessary, he said, to let your fellow man know that you pose no threat to him.

Dear God, may tomorrow be honoured, and used as a time for reflection. To bring Mandela back to us, as a light, his name a symbol of a mandala, in our remembering, re-membering. May we somehow find a way to not stop hoping that there are reasons to be hopeful. May his wisdom inspire us once again. May we once more come through this valley of darkness. Our birthing into Mr. Mandela’s dream is proving very long labour. May it not be still born.

 “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Nelson Mandela: Defence statement during the Rivonia Trail, 1964

Amandla! Mr. Mandela! Amandla!

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Photo from top of Table Mountain. Robben Island off and up on right. Blouberg Strand in distance. October 2014. Taken by me with cell phone.

Africa is bigger than we think

Africa is way bigger than we think -

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If you look at the map of Africa, you will see all the other countries that can be fitted into it. South Africa, where I live, is located on the southern tip of Africa.

South Africa comprises only 4% of the continent’s total landmass. Cape Town, looking at the map, is on the left, down towards the bottom, with the Atlantic ocean on it’s left. Durban is further up on the right hand side, with the Indian Ocean bordering it.

Johannesburg, where I live, is about 1400 km (approx 950 miles) away from Cape Town, travelling in a SW direction – a two hour flight. Johannesburg to Durban in SE direction is about 600 km – just under an hour flight.

There are 53 or so countries within Africa, most of which are members of the Africa Union (AU) but not all are members of the UN. Nigeria is the most populated with 173.6 million people; Ethiopia: 95.045 million; Egypt: 82,196 million; Dem. Rep of the Congo: 67.36 million (the equator runs through Gabon; Congo; Dem. Rep. of Congo; Uganda; Kenya); South Africa: 52.9 million. Total population of Africa approx 1,138 billion.

South Africa is home to asylum seekers – best guess of 3 million Zimbabweans (we border Zimbabwe), Nigerians, Ethiopians, Somalians, Rwandans, Burundians, those from the Democratic Republic of Congo -

    Within South Africa there are 9 clearly recognised provinces, each with its own legislature, premier and executive council; each has their own distinctive landscape, population, economy and climate. The Cape is the largest in size – Cape Town is in the Western Cape, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape (which takes up nearly a third of South Africa’s land area) borders onto Namibia and Botswana.

Johannesburg, where I live up on the highveld at 6000ft (2000 mts) is actually the smallest province – Gauteng:City of Gold – with the greatest population of 12.2 million.

Within this beautiful country of ours live amazing people of good will. We have a few first class cities, a fine banking system (what banking system is ‘fine’ though I have to ask myself), beautiful landscapes, home to amazing wildlife within our borders. We have poor education for the masses, corruption, murder, rape –  and much of the time we live in despair with our backs against the wall.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the farthest north I’ve been in Africa – it’s the highest mountain in Africa (Tanzania) standing at 5895m and Tanzania, bordering on Kenya is a few degrees south of the equator.

I MAY write more about South Africa at some stage or the other – I just really wanted to illustrate the size of this huge continent on which I live – and to place South Africa -

I wish you all  in the US a blessed Thanksgiving …

Road Tripping

Road Tripping

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Jacaranda trees – where I live, taken today.

In August I did a road trip on my own from Johannesburg down to Plettenberg Bay through the Karoo. Earlier this month I did it again, this time with my husband as driver and two American friends. This time we overnighted in Graaf Reinet 800 kms away in the most charming place, Kambro Cottages. The below photo is of the Valley of Desolation, a few kms  outside Graaf Reinet, taken at the top of the reserve, the next morning en route to Plett.

20141011_Valley of Desolation_resizedWe spent a delightful few days and nights in Plett and visited the newly established Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve a few kms outside of Plett. These are a few of my cell phone photos from the landrover – (see you tube link at end of blog for lion below on the move) -20141012_lion Plett_resized

20141012_cheetah2_resized_120141012_wild dog_resizedI could put in more photos of this place of beauty – and write of our time in Plett climbing Robberg, drinking delicious coffees here and there – walking on various shores, watching the waves crashing and receding -

All too soon it was time to leave Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town, about 600 kms or so away stopping in for breakfast at a delightful spot and driving much of the time in silence awed at the beauty of Nature.20141015_mountains_resizedWe spent just over a week in Cape Town. My husband attended an international medical conference for much of the time including the Saturday and Sunday morning which meant that during the day I was the driver, taking my friends here and there. My younger son Davey lives in Cape Town – he joined us with my American friends, when we visited Kirstenbosch Gardens, and took the cable car up Table Mountain.

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20141018_top Table Mountain_resizedThat’s Robben Island off on right where Mr. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Photo taken from the top of Table Mountain.

My American friends have visited South Africa many times already; this was a trip with a difference. We met up with several Cape Town friends for coffee or supper, people who they knew about from my saying about them in the past, and now it was meeting face to face engaging in conversation. Most days it was Susan, Frederic and myself driving through to e.g. Muizenberg to view ‘Millionz-O-Doodz’ a canvas created by my elder son displayed at an art gallery, on another occasion to Kalk Bay and much beyond, through to Hout Bay and beyond, often times unsure where we were headed. I’m not GPS friendly -

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In the evenings the four of us would go out for supper somewhere, the food always delicious, beautifully presented, service attentive. Cape Town is known for its excellent food.

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We had lunch at The Vineyard in Newlands, Cape Town one day. It is so lovely. The above photo is from the entrance. Lunch tables are outside and under the oaks on the right.

We trekked out to Gordon’s Bay on Sunday aftrenoon, about a 3/4 hour drive away. The jetty is one I used to walk as a teenager with my parents when we lived there (when Moses was a boy). I usually visit Gordon’s Bay when in Cape Town and walk to the end of the jetty where the ashes of my parents were tossed in the sea many years ago and I say a silent hello while remembering them -

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On our way back to Johannesburg from Cape Town, we saw a different part of the Karoo and overnighted outside Colesberg, half way between Cape Town and Jo’burg.

It’s always lovely to be home and find the cats well, grass green, study quickly getting into its usual disarray. Our friends flew back to the States on Monday night – apart from the specialness of having them with us, I feel a sense of pride in some way in being able to show them parts of our beautiful country.

All photos above were taken with my cell phone. The you tube link below of the ‘lion on the move’ was taken by Fiona Smyth, fellow landrover passenger from Ireland, who took the movie and kindly forwarded it on to me. With her permission I’m adding it. Thanks to son Mike in Plettenberg Bay for editing. it’s about 40 secs.

Into the Wilderness

 The Wildernessbuffalo at Alicecot_resizedBuffalo at watering hole

 Last week Wednesday was a public holiday, Heritage Day, here in South Africa. The 24th September was formerly known as Shaka Day, after King Shaka, King of the Zulus, who united disparate tribes in the early 1800’s. ‘Heritage Day’ is a newly-named public holiday in which South Africans reflect on their cultural heritage and identity. It’s also known as National Braai Day, in which people spend time with families, gathering around the fire, braaing (barbecuing) their boerewors (farmers’ sausage) and drinking beer. Also, of course, celebrating in different ways, reflecting on our rich history and heritage.

We took the opportunity to go to the low veld on the public holiday at the invitation of owners of a private game farm close to the borders of the Kruger National Park.

O what joy to be in the wilderness.

elephant at Alicecot_resizedThere’s something wondrous coming across these leviathans appearing so suddenly,  making barely a sound. Here one moment, gone the next.rhino at Aliceot_resizedAnd to see rhino, especially as they’re under such threat of extinction from poachers for their horn. The line in the photo is the aerial of the landrover.cheetah at Alicecot_resized

The regal cheetah in the shade of a tree, looking almost as curiously at us as we were at it.

There is something regal about all the animals in the wild. They’re so at home in their world, one with mother nature, living perhaps with uncertainty for who knows how Nature will express herself – drought, fires, raging thunder storms …

Being in the wilderness and experiencing Nature brings it into my own wilderness. Sitting around a great and blazing fire in the evenings with only lanterns on the dining table, being quiet for a while, each with their own thoughts, looking at the sparks of the fire, made an inner connection with me. Walking away from the group and looking up at the stars and the new moon on that first night made another inner connection. Walking as we did early one morning, Iain in front with a rifle just in case, listening to the overt sounds of the bush and listening more keenly and hearing other more covert sounds.

One of my most enduring experiences was watching a herd of buffalo, maybe 500 or 600, coming out from the bushes, and in an orderly way making their way to the water. When we thought that no more could appear from the bushes, then more would appear. Once they’d drunk their fill they walked out on the other side of the water and exited from view to another part of the bush on the periphery. There were some buffaloes on the outside of the herd who seemed to be marshalls ensuring that there were no stragglers going out of line.

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There is something soothing about connecting with Nature and her grandeur – the tiniest flower in the dusty gravel, or the blooming bougainvilleas and jacarandas surrounding camp, or the fever trees with their strange pale green trunks and branches, or the baobab tree with a girth of about 4.3 metres at its base that lives to be 3000 years old.

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Much of my time I spent listening to the sounds of Nature – to my inner wilderness as well – feeling at peace, sleeping soundly at night, waking at first light – feeling so grateful to Nature and the opportunity to experience her bounty and magnificent beauty -

All the above photos were taken with my cell phone. Maya Ingwersen was one of the guests and with her permission I’m adding some of her wonderful photographs taken with a proper camera and lens …

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Spring Equinox and Rosh Hashanah

     SPRING  EQUINOX

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Orchids in pots on patio

It’s such a beautiful time of year – the bees are buzzing, the blooms are budding, there’s a freshness and expectancy in the air as we await our first rains. This is true for us, up on the highveld (6000 feet above sea level) here in South Africa, when the rains come in summer unlike e.g. Cape Town which has winter rains. The grass is greening and colour is all about, contrasted with the bright blue skies. The scents of Oxford and Cambridge (yesterday today tomorrow) and jasmine are a delight. The azaleas in my garden are bright and budding. I’ve noted the first jacaranda bloom from my study on a tree over the wall…

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Deep and pale pink azaleas with a clivia in amongst them.

Spring – a time for renewal of all that has been lying in wait during the winter months, feeling the urge and the push upwards, breaking free, budding, blossoming -

As we in the southern hemisphere turn towards summer, so does the northern hemisphere turn towards autumn or fall. In both hemispheres day and night are in balance and are 12 hours in length and duration.

Apart from the earth’s movements around the sun, the equinoxes hold a fascination for me as they represent on another and real level, an inner change. It’s an earthly shift and an inner shift, microcosmically. It’s not as if I think or feel that suddenly all is better and more promising although there is a whiff of that. Spring can also mean reflecting on the winter which has passed, in which we lay low, incubating. Short days, long nights, the sun setting early, rising late. Ice-cold, frost decimating winter plants and we feeling the cold in our bones. Visitors from other parts of the world to the highveld are always struck by the cold in the winter months and the sharply bright blue skies – such contrasts -

Strangely, we had rain this past Saturday night. What an unexpected happy surprise this was, although it was forecast.  Our first rains usually come only in October. This time the rain came up from the Cape – bringing some of its cold -

Spring does hold promise – as do all the seasons. They’re representative of so much – the never-ending rhythmic cycles of planet earth, the shortening or lengthening of the days and nights, our awareness of the passage of time, our selves within ‘time’ as we know it and an awareness of it’s limit in terms of our lives left to live …

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lavender and yesterday today and tomorrow (above photos from my garden in last day or so taken with phone)

Rosh Hashanah – New Year – such a special time, the first day (of two) of the New Year, on Thursday 25th September, in which love, potential and life are deeply considered and celebrated. ‘The Jewish year begins with focusing on the awesome nature and potential that exists within each of us’.*

The Spring Equinox tomorrow here in the southern hemisphere, the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere, new moon on Wednesday 25th, Jewish New Year the day after … seasons, years, changing …

My Shonah Tovah greetings to all – whether celebrating New Year or the Equinox – may each day be significant, precious and creative.

* from: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/the-meaning-of-rosh-hashanah/

(A profound piece of writing on Love, Potential, Life).

A More Beautiful World is Possible.

 

A More Beautiful World is Possible 

imagesofhandlightI mentioned Charles Eisenstein in a blog or three back and said that his book “Ascent to Humanity’ is available as a gift from him to you. All he asks is that you do not use the book for any profit. My younger son downloaded it onto a USB a while back and that is what I listen to when out and about in my car. 40 hours (my older son told me) of audio listening. It is also available as a pdf.

I listened to several hours of it while driving on my own from home to Plettenberg Bay and back again through the Karoo a few weeks back. It was/is of great value to me. You can google his name for information to come up and how to download ‘Ascent to Humanity’ or read other essays and such.

He’s been visiting South Africa. I attended his talk last night in downtown Johannesburg. I was thinking of not going. Driving downtown not knowing exactly how to get to the destination was a cause for concern. In the traffic at that time? Coming home at night – a woman on her own?

I left early, to avoid the afternoon traffic and yes, got a bit lost, especially coming home. But this is not to tell you of my comings and goings and thumping heart getting there and coming back. I was deeply grateful to be home and let my thumping heart settle.

The venue, The Living Room, on the 5th Floor, in the Maboneng District of Johannesburg was lovely.

Charles Eisenstein. He said about South Africa and that a miracle took place when we held our first democratic elections in 1994. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was painful for all of us – hateful wrongs from all sides were exposed and laid bare, the underbelly grotesque. Yet, it lead to our constitution, still upheld as one of the finest if not the finest in the world. I thought back to Mr. Nelson Mandela, our president, and hope was high in our hearts that we could live as a united nation, a Rainbow Nation … all the colours glowing brightly. We felt hope – and o what a feeling it was! A glimpse of what is possible! We were not naive to believe that the miracle would happen overnight. The rainbow dims every now and then -

Charles Eisenstein touched on the spirit of ‘ubuntu’ – a uniquely African word roughly translating to ‘human kindness’ where the understanding is that one is inter-related to another and each is united in their human-ness. A person is a person through other people, through their own self-assuredness, each knowing that a harmful act has effects on the whole and that one is diminished by the act of it even if one is not the perpetrator. It is much more besides – but it is like an ‘operating system’ or an overarching archetype even.

Of course there was much more besides. After his talk there were comments from the floor. One person asked what can we do, how can we go forward. His response was ‘I don’t know you, so I can’t say how you can go forward. You know yourself, you know what you can do. Do what you can do. Small acts come from the same energy source’.

He mentioned Rupert Sheldrakes’ Morphic Field …

There are some things that can’t be ‘willed’, though many may disagree. It is not easy to let go of ‘old stories’ – but can one enable a way to let them go without ‘losing face’? Can this be extended to our politicians as well? To ourselves?

What do I want to say in this blog really? In my getting to my destination and coming home, I was helped when I asked on a few occasions. People were kind. On the way home, I was actually quite lost and was about to drive off into the black yonder. I retraced and got more lost. Dark, dark, no lights. Unmarked roads. Somehow, I got onto a semi-highway that looked familiar. Flashing lights, many cop cars up ahead. I was directed to stop. A policewoman asked if everything was alright? Yes I said, thank you. Is that North up ahead? Yes, she said … where are you going. Sandton I said. You’ve got a way to go yet lady. The highway is up ahead. Keep your windows closed and travel safely. Big smile. So sweet.

Our country is beautiful. The people are beautiful. So much is possible. Small acts of kindness, a smile, a helpful attitude, all making their influence felt and creating larger ripples. A more beautiful world is possible.

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This is a photo from my phone last night of a small tray of cacti on the balcony of The Living Room.

Tina Downey, In Loving memory.

sunflowerimages                                              In Loving Memory of Tina Downey

We lost a sunflower a few days back … Tina has gone to rest.

She brightened our days during the 2014 April A-Z Blog Challenge with her warm enthusiasm and cheery words. I felt comforted by her urging us along and not to give up. I could feel her warmth and kindness over the airwaves.

Tina, you will be sorely missed by all who knew you, whether close friends and family or the blogging community. You touched many lives.

To Tina’s family … our thoughts are with you at this very sad time. May her dear soul rest in peace and may you gain comfort knowing that she is home with the Lord.

Stories

20th Aug 2014

Robberg Peninsula: 20th August 2014

My younger son David who lives in Cape Town, phoned me this morning. He had phoned home in Johannesburg earlier to be told by my housekeeper that I was in Plettenberg Bay so he called me here.

He told me an interesting story. This past weekend he hiked Silver Mines (Cape Town) with two pals and his girlfriend. They landed up in Kalk Bay (outlying suburb of Cape Town) and they stopped in somewhere to ask if there were any taxis to take them back to their car as they didn’t want to hike all the way back and they had a 30th birthday party to get ready for that evening. This man said no, there weren’t really any taxis but that he would take them back to their car… they could pay petrol costs. I thought this man was so kind… While driving, this man said something about snakes, and serpents. O said David, my mum painted a serpent the other day and put it up on her blog. This man said the serpent has something to do with Lilith. O said David, my mom wrote a book about Lilith.

All rather extraordinary. *

Now, this morning I had packed my bags, gone down the road to fill up with petrol, had tyres pumped, checked oil and water. I planned to set off from here about midday, and overnight in Colesberg this evening, half way back to Johannesburg and right in the middle of the Karoo. I had even made a bed and breakfast booking. Altogether sensible and manageable.

I changed my mind while back at the house prior to leaving. It was an agonising decision in its way. I couldn’t make up my mind. I phoned the girls at the rooms to see that IF I stayed here in Plett, could one of them stand in for me on Friday afternoon. Had it been a problem I definitely would have kept to my plans. But, no problem there. I said I would let them know – I still had to make up my mind. Then I remembered my art circle meeting on Saturday morning and I was looking forward to bringing my ouroboros painting to the group. Mmmmmm…. pause. To cut a long story short, and without tossing a coin to help me decide (because I would have HAD to stick to outcome), I made a conscious, though long drawn out decision to stay a while longer. I phoned the BnB and changed my booking to overnighting on Saturday night.

So, a few more days here. I arrived last Thursday night after the long drive, gave myself time out on Friday, worked like a slave on Saturday, Sunday and Monday achieving one of my goals re WIP. Tuesday was a day of no work. I had brought down some art stuff but I hadn’t done a painting, or any more work on WIP as I’d hoped, nor had the time to get some extra assistance from Mike re computer …

After this momentous decision of staying a few days longer, I joined Mike on Robberg 5 beach this afternoon and we went for a walk. The photo from my phone is of Robberg peninsula. A great white shark called the Robberg Express swims alongside it. Whales are in the bay, the weather is sublime.

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panoramic view of of Tsitsikama mountains and Robberg

After hearing David’s story of he and pals getting a ride back to his car and the kind man and the serpent and Lilith, I want to paint this in some way. I have already started.

* this next bit I’m just adding: letter from son David this morning. If you can vote for Kiffness this would be great (South Africa only):

Hi Ma,

Here’s what you need to do for voting:

- SMS ‘KIFFNESS’ to 48477. You can vote up to 5 times

- Vote online: http://bit.ly/kiffinthecity

Info for your friends:

The Kiffness is 1 of 4 bands shortlisted to open for MGMT at Vodacom in the City. It’s a really big show that will be a big boost for our careers. The band with the most votes wins, and so every vote helps!

Thanks Ma!

http://www.thekiffness.com/2014/the-kiffness-shortlisted-to-open-for-mgmt-at-vodacom-in-the-city 

the link gives info about this competition

 

So, to end … a photo of me on the beach this afternoon …Robberg5 beachresized

Robberg 5 beach 20th August 2014. Tsitsikama mountains in back ground.

And, the best news, my husband has given me his blessing to stay a bit longer – 

Wide Open Spaces

 WIDE OPEN SPACES – ROAD TRIP

road trip Karoo                                                              Karoo … small mountains

Two mornings ago, in the dark, I set off from home, destination Plettenberg Bay, 1270 kms away, in my car, on my own.

Something was nibbling at me. I felt restless, yet immobilised. I wanted connection. I thought of flying down to Plettenberg Bay and checked flights. Yes, there were flights. I thought about driving – time consuming – 14, 15 hours.  Mmmm, maybe overnight in Graaf Reinet, 830 kms away, in the Karoo, leaving only another 420 kms or so to cover the next day. A sensible and quite pleasing thought. I could visit the Valley of Desolation just on the outskirts of Graaf Reinet.  Maybe The Owl House also. This long distance on my own – was this wise? Well, I love driving on my own. And driving through the Karoo held a certain fascination. Would my knee which was causing me a bit of grief stand up to it?

My husband was shocked when I nudged him in the early hours to say goodbye. I don’t think he’d taken me seriously when I’d mentioned my  possible plans the previous day, vague though they were. I had decided only the previous evening in his absence.

My Honda Brio is a town car. Small engine, small petrol capacity, small everything. Roughly 10 km to the litre. 30 litre capacity. How far could a full tank on wide open roads take me before I would have to fill up again? Would a kindly stranger help me if I ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere?

My car did me proud. Such a pleasure to drive. Excellent mileage. Such a pleasure to see  nature unfolding before my eyes. Fields upon fields, a pale beige colour with a touch of gold upturned to the sun and wide open skies. I could almost feel its energy welcoming in the upcoming spring that is on its way. The vastness of skies, blue, bright. Vastness on all sides of me. Barely possible to see where the sky met the land. Majestic, soft. Zipping along, catching myself smiling, an endorphin or three entering, expansion of blood corpuscles -

Not too many cars, many trucks coming from the opposite direction as well as going south in my direction. Thoughtful drivers in their pantechnicons – they gave way. I always signalled my thanks. They would flash back … sometimes I was the only car on the road.

I thought of my mother and how her children must have caused her grief many times. Accidents … no-one is immune.  Sometimes I drove in silence; sometimes I did no thinking and went into free fall. Sometimes I listened to Charles Eisenstein’s ‘Ascent of Humanity’ – powerful beyond words. Gripping.*

 I stopped in at Graaf Reinet to fill up, stretch my legs. It was only 2.00 p.m. I had previously thought of overnighting there and resting. I was two thirds of the way already – I pushed on. The mountains became more visible, not so distant. Then they were close as I wound my way around and through them. I marvelled at the good condition of the road and how coming around the corner brought yet another breathtaking view -

The last stretch – over the Outeniqua Pass – that magnificent Pass, shrouded in mist, mountains rising on my right, deep deep valleys and gorges on my left, unseen because of the mist, windscreen wipers going as I wound around ..

And then down, and through George (named after George Rex), stopping in at my sister’s holiday home in the Wilderness for a cup of tea and to say hello. And then the last hour to  Plett, another 70 or so kms from Wilderness, smelling that scent that is so unique to that part of the world … I arrived around 8.15 p.m. welcomed by son Mike and his girlfriend Oda. I gave continual and silent thanks for safe arrival.

Yesterday, a complete chill out. I gave myself time-out. Saw whales from the balcony. I was so happy! This made my day, week, month, year. I had forgotten that it was whale season. Did some writing on WIP. Made notes. This morning I had breakfast at the Lookout and watched whales from there. Heaven was my world. I wondered about walking and my knee but it felt a lot better than yesterday and last night. O such bliss to walk on the sand along the shore, mountains cutting into the sky, walking further than I thought, watching whales jumping, seeing huge splashes. Giving thanks to Mother Nature and her bounty. If my knee aches later, it is a small price to pay.

beach from LookoutLookout Beach, mountains, sky from The Deck, Lookout Restaurant. Plettenberg Bay

I may have been a bit impetuous in making this trip. My husband thinks ‘impulsive’. He may be right – there was an impulse in me. I’m glad I followed up on it. I feel a shift. I feel more connected. The outer shifting the inner …

* Charles Eisenstein: The Ascent of Humanity. Available for free as pdf, audio etc. He says you are welcome to it as a gift and to give as a gift but not for re-sale for economic gain. A free-thinker. Many hours of audio or reading. Just googling him will bring you to his page ..

Nelson Mandela International Day. ‘Never Again’.

 

Mandela blog   Happy Birthday Mr. Nelson Mandela!

Mr. Mandela spent 67 years making the world a better place. Today, we are urged to spend 67 minutes doing a ‘good deed’, whether donating books and educational materials, blankets, food, money, picking up litter, planting a food garden in a school, visiting the invisibles in hospitals or whatever else we can do.

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of his birthday on 18 July, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Mandela said he would be ‘honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation’.

We feel such shock and sadness for the passengers of the Malaysian flight from Amsterdam yesterday, and for the ongoing tragedy that is the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

When will there ever be peace in the world? When will we each make our ‘Long Walk to Freedom’? May the day come of renewed hope, even though this seems impossible, so often.

My younger son David, a musician, met Mr. Mandela maybe 10 years back, at his home in Houghton here in Johannesburg, when his school jazz band performed for him. He was fit and well and my son still talks about the power that emanated from him. He knows that he was hugely privileged to have Mr. Mandela shake his hand and beam on him. He made this song years later in honour of Madiba’s birthday 2 years ago in July 2012. It is David’s mix of Mr. Mandela’s real voice. David composed it and he plays the trumpet.

Some of the words are from his inauguration as President on 10 May 1994.

‘Let there be justice for all

‘Let there be peace for all

‘Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all

‘Let each know that for each the body, mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil  themselves

‘Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.’

The link below is ‘The Kifnness’ recording of ‘Never Again’. http://soundcloud.com/thekiffness/the-kiffness-never-again

The following are further excerpts from his inauguration speech.

‘We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

‘The time for the healing of wounds has come.

‘The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

‘The time to build is upon us.

‘We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free’.

Ouroborus – the snake that bites its own tail

OUROBORUS

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The Ouroborus, the snake that bites its own tail -

It’s also called ‘Uroboros’ and ‘Oroborus’ and ‘Oroboros’ -

I recorded a dream I had last week Tuesday. I won’t duplicate it but the landscape of where I was, was interesting. It was in the bush. The building therein was a shell, unpainted walls, builders about. Then I was inside the building and there were people, a gay couple, women and others with children. There was more of the dream that followed -

The fourth and last part of the dream is recorded verbatim: ‘I went for walk in dark, around perimeter of place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake’ -

For me this was a very striking dream – and one for which I have huge respect and gratitude. I was in the dark, walking around the perimeter of the place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake.

I knew I had to honour the dream. It’s taken me over a week to ‘complete’ it which I did today and photographed it. In reality, actually in the dream, the canvas was white on which was a black ink or paint sketch of the ouroborus. So it was black and white. A duality maybe…

My initial sketch and paint on the day of my dream -

first oroborus_resized

Also, in these last several days, I fashioned a uoroborus from clay – it is now hard and I am thinking what I will ‘do’ with it … I may spray paint it – gold perhaps, or black with some gold flecks – who knows -

clay uroboros_resized

I found this a day or so ago, which I’d done last year with my left hand as my right hand at that stage was damaged and bandaged. I used silver and gold ink on my selected piece of black card. I wondered whether to incorporate the silver and gold into my current painting -

done on 13 Aug 2013 with left hand

Starburst – 3rd Aug 2013

I’ve so enjoyed reading about this ancient symbol. And also googling images of it. Most are very beautiful. I could have put up dozens and dozens – it was hard to select. Do check out some of the paintings of it. I went to ‘google images’ and typed up ‘oroborus’. It appears in many cultures from very early times … many of them are breathtakingly beautiful.

images (1)ouroboros3

worm-ouroboros

uroborosPlato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, perfectly constructed animal.

In any event, the serpent is a symbol of so much. As is the ouroboros. Quite what my unconscious is bringing to my attention, I have no real idea; but is an affirmation I think of the endless cycle and paradox of life … things begin as they end. I may bring this idea into the book: ‘Aging & Becoming’ which Susan Schwartz in Phoenix and I are currently writing and editing.

This is my painting, completed today leaning against a wall -

own painting_resized

Do you ever have dreams in which the serpent appears? What do you make of them?

Prompts & Paints & Papers

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 It’s the 1st July – extraordinary. A whole 6 months has gone by.

It’s a beautiful winter’s day here on the highveld. Truly, quite gorgeous. The sun is bright and warm, the garden is looking pretty. I’m sitting out on the patio with the table strewn with paints and brushes, and I’ve been experimenting.

I’ve had a few dreams recently that are puzzling. The one I recorded this morning demanded expression. It was the the last part, and very clear. In any event, I had determined from a few days back that today I would actually paint. There’s been an image in my mind for a long while that I’ve wanted to give expression to. This morning’s dream was a strong reminder and a prompt.

So, in trepidation, I set about preparing for this. I know very little about painting and have dabbled in the past when I had a teacher to guide me. I spent a little while looking in the paints and paper drawers to see what I have. After much faffing, tossing out old tubes that had hardened and organising ‘useful’ ones, I’ve done a preliminary ‘picture’ using acrylics. I didn’t use paintbrushes; I’ve used a plastic knife from a palette knife set (made in China) to daub on the sketch I had initially made. As I write, the already applied acrylic is drying – I have much to do yet.

In the meantime, I received a comment today from ‘Ashen’ who responded to my previous post. She shared about dreams and expressing them in concrete form… it is a lovely comment which I will respond to later. I am struck at the synchronicity of her comment while I am bang in the middle of doing just this. Another prompt, even if after the event.

There’ve been many promptings lately, in my dreams. I’m paying attention that is their due of them, or my due to them. Yes, I do look up certain symbols in my dreams from solid sources eg The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. Like ‘stone’, ‘urine’, ‘necklace’. No, I do not make an immediate interpretation. The dream is too valuable for that. butterflyblogimages

While setting out papers and brushes and paints, I also copied some quotes on scraps of paper on my desk into another journal. I knew I was procrastinating but I allowed myself this resistance. If only to look at that resistance, forever present in me. Fear of actually putting something down on a blank canvas. I kept on reminding myself that painting a picture of an image was for me and me alone and that I could play a bit and get over myself. So, the painting evolves. I know I will be considering it for a while yet, and if I can be patient, taking care and not giving up, and make something beautiful of it, I will be pleased.

And because I love this Life

I know I shall love Death as well

The child cries out when

From the right breast the mother

Takes it away, in the very next moment

To find in the left one

It’s consolation

Rabindnarath Tagore: from Gitanjali

 

The Approach of the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice

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I’m very aware of the approaching winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere. There are two days to go until the anniversary of my car accident last year, on the day before moving from our old home to the townhouse on the winter solstice. Both my sons were here in Johannesburg to help us pack and move and say goodbye to our old home, and my husband had taken the week off work to pack and move.

Even though the accident was frightful, we moved as planned on 21st June. I was discharged from hospital on the morning on the 21st June and our family celebrated the winter solstice that Friday night in our new home, giving thanks that we were all together. It was also full moon.

But I’m being ultra aware this time around. This morning in the early hours a frightful dream woke me with a cry and a thumping heart. I wrote it down and went back to sleep. Before I went out at 10 I looked at it again, and since I had a fair way to travel this morning, I reflected on it while being extra cautious on the highway, both there and back home. I am quite unsure what to make of the dream and what this messenger is alerting me to. Last year I was well planned and organised while driving on the road of our old home to fetch more things to bring to the townhouse, when the truck came out of nowhere and knocked me sideways and overturned my car and rendered my right hand useless for a long while.

The winter solstice is a sacred time marking as it does the rebirth of the Sun. It is a turning point on that great wheel. Solstice comes from the Latin, sol (sun); sistere (to stand still); it is the time when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest from the sun.

 Out of the gloom of darkness and dormancy and a momentary stillness, comes the light and the warmth as the season slowly slides towards spring. I learned then as I learn now, that impermanence is real. I had to learn patience, a hard lesson for one such as I, and that time takes its own time. While my hand was numbed for a long time and pretty useless, I learned to use my left hand. When the numbness wore off, the pain was excruciating, but of value. It meant that healing was taking place.

We’re going down to Plettenberg Bay this Sunday for a week. We could have flown down on Friday after work. But somehow it’s important for me to be here at home on Friday the anniversary of my accident and on Saturday night, the longest night and shortest day and the anniversary of our first night spent in the townhouse. I’ll be wondering what my dream means over these next several days and beyond. Since our sons are not with us we’re having a few friends for dinner and we’ll welcome in the birth of the new sun. We’ll light a fire, and tell stories and celebrate the winter solstice.

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