Category: uncategorised

Tempus Fugit

Tempus Fugit

How these days fly by. Normally I would’ve blogged on The Equinox, acknowledging the turn of the planet and its relation to the sun and that still point when all is in balance for a moment, maybe posted a photograph of the full moon that shone so brightly the night before. The last few days have been strange indeed, in part because the 2nd year anniversary of my friend’s death was on the 19th, yet it was also my son and daughter-in-law’s 3rd wedding anniversary as well as his wife Jüte’s birthday. My very good friend Al had her hip op on Tuesday, and her recuperation is not going to be easy. How I wish I was in Johannesburg to help her post operatively.

What strikes me is how quickly time flies. Deborah Gregory posts on her blog The Liberated Sheep on the first of the month for each month. Her last 3 for the first 3 months are poetically depthful, as all her posts are. The #We are the World Blogfest rolls round with regularity, where bloggers post on the last Friday of each month spreading good news around the globe, stories of humanity and positive action that can pass by unnoticed among the ongoing negativity. The April A-Z international blogfest is about to get underway. I won’t be partaking this time round unless I change my mind at the last minute. It makes April fly by in a wink and then it’s May – 

So many markers of the months – today is Human Rights Day, a public holiday here in South Africa, acknowledging the Sharpeville massacre that took place in 1960. Next month is another public holiday, on 27th April, the day on which SA had it’s first democratic election. Mr. Nelson Mandela would be turning in his grave to see what is going on in our country. May 8th is election day …

The alarm bells have been ringing for some time. Especially when Mr. Ramaphosa announced his inner circle some days ago, thugs the lot of them. It’s ok according to him that they have not been convicted. It’s ok says Ramaphosa that this won’t tarnish the image of our country. Ramaphosa says that corruption will be rooted out and people will be jailed. Who’s he kidding? What have they got on Ramaphosa that he can’t get rid of them I have to ask, along with very many who cannot understand why these thugs have not been removed? Assassinations of those who speak out or who are whistle blowers is a not uncommon occurrence –

Also very alarming is Eskom our electricity provider. Its henchmen are facing commissions of enquiry and we are aghast at the deep rot. Well, we always knew. But we did NOT expect to have load shedding or blackouts such as we’ve been having for the last several days. Eskom, once an extremely well run and efficient State Owned Enterprise is completely dysfunctional and has been bailed out countless times. The interest on the debt is scary. The daily cost to the economy is absolutely enormous. In practical terms this means that we have no electricity for many hours of the day and night. For me, it’s an irritating inconvenience, I can work around it even if it means I have to keep on buying data for my cell phone to keep connected. It’s not cheap. We use solar lamps, torches and candles. But I’m thinking of the traffic chaos around the country, small businesses having to close down, the long nights with no lights, those who cannot cook for their families, those who cannot study, or they do by candle light. TV and radio is sometimes inaccessible to keep up with the news. So that we can’t follow the commissions of enquiry? I suspect so.

Other SEO’s are in deep doo doo. Railways continue to have breakdowns while commuters are on the way to work. Those on the highveld are facing water shortages – electricity is needed to get the dams to do their work to higher areas. Generators use diesel which is fast running out. Another petrol increase is due. Food prices are escalating. Winter is approaching. Electricity costs are going through the roof. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we actually get another downgrade, this time to the one below, which is junk status. And then?

And then? People are now removing as much cash as they can from banks and ATM’s. They are stockpiling.

I heard and saw Ramaphosa with my own eyes and ears saying in response to a question put to him in Parliament. ‘Oh I see you are white – that means you are one of those who supported the apartheid regime and were therefore involved in the slaughter of our people’. It was a 30 sec clip … dear heavens, if this isn’t racist I honestly don’t know what is. Thank you for nothing. You forget too quickly how many ordinary people, political parties, businesses, media, churches, organisations fought against apartheid. Stereotyping is the way of the weak, let alone deceitful –

Meanwhile, we hear of thousands of NGO’s helping those in need, people who give of their time and hard work to help those far worse off. Rescue SA has returned from Mocambique on our borders where cyclone Idai has wrecked havoc. Thousands were brought to safety, hundreds rescued from the jaws of death. Gift of the Givers (Imtiaz Sooliman is the founder) continues their extraordinary work wherever required around the world. Zimbabwe also on our borders has felt the effects of cyclone Idai, and are in dire need of help of food and water. Malawi, that poor beleaguered country also in disaster territory. News from Zimbabwe has virtually closed down. The current president is a clone of Zimbabwe’s past president, the mug, Mugabe.

I often fantasise about a tax revolt, withholding taxes to the government in power, putting money into a separate account that is used to pay for roads, housing, clinics, schools and other essential services. I remember looking into this some years ago whether this was legal, and in fact found out that one is not obliged to pay taxes. It may be a duty but it is perfectly legal not to. Do we collude in some way when we give our hard earned taxes to a corrupt system? I suspect that that information has been removed from everywhere.

I know that there are good people in politics. Good people in our justice system. People everywhere who really do want the best for all and who work tirelessly towards fulfilling that goal.

My rant is over – I watered a tired looking indoor plant just now and was amazed at how quickly it prettily perked up. I’m outside on the balcony overlooking the sea the colour of which keeps changing as the day draws to a close. The electrickery has been on for the last 4 hours – who knows how much longer –

Thank you for reading. The photo is one I took from our bedroom balcony early in February. I remember feeling the beauty of it. One part of it in darkness heavy with rain, the other side in light. And G.d’s covenant with Noah after the flood that He wouldn’t allow such disasters again. Where are you G.d? Nebraska? Venezuela?The Middle East, New Zealand?

Changing seasons

Changing seasons

I’m trying to be aware of this so the change of seasons doesn’t take me unawares. Just to be aware of the transition and then to acknowledge it more definitively. And then to engage in it some more – as one season ends, another begins, sliding slowly into it’s newer or older form. One fresh with the promise of fertile Spring and Light, the other fertile and dark, each with its’ own function –

I’ve been on my own these last few days here in Plettenberg Bay. We arrived 2 Sundays ago, driving down from Johannesburg. Is it only so soon ago? – it seems longer. This past Wednesday my husband went off with golf pals on a jaunt and will be back tomorrow evening, and my elder son went off on Wednesday to Cape Town to attend an international animation event.

The days have been hot and humid. I’ve had a couple of walks on the Robberg beach and swims in the sea in view of the lifesavers – just in case -. I would have liked to have strode further out getting through the manageable waves and float on my back awhile even over the swells. I didn’t take that step but enjoyed the splashing and shlossing in the sea getting thoroughly doused. I would have liked for there to be more people in the sea then maybe I would have gone further out and floated awhile, but since I was the only swimmer I played safe –

The weather changed dramatically on Thursday night. Wonderful rain and in the morning too. A thorough soak. And it turned chilly – and remained so for several days. The wind was epic not favourable even for walking around locally. Yesterday it was still blowing a lot but I think it’s lost a bit of huff and puff after the previous days.

I still sit astride two places I call home in the physical sense – Johannesburg and Plettenberg Bay. It would please my husband enormously if our townhouse in Johannesburg were sold. We gave the keys 2 Saturdays ago to a sole estate agent who is very confident it will be sold at the price we’re asking. If she rang and said ‘Sold!’ this would be a shock to me in one way or the other … it really would mean a severance. Not only that but it would be conclusive ‘evidence’ to me that Plettenberg Bay is now really my/our home. And I must claim it and live it, in this next phase of my life.

We have access to the townhouse for the next several months regardless if sold and this gives us time to move everything else from there to down here – or sell it, or donate it or whatever. Maybe Autumn is as good a time as any. I still want to make plans to bring Jane (Kgamotso is her African name) our housekeeper who’s been with the family for 35 years down to Plettenberg Bay to come and see and be a guest in our home. She’s never flown before so that will be a first! We will be saying goodbye to Jane at the end of May latest. It is possible though that whoever buys our home may also want Jane – but there’s no way of knowing. That would be best outcome for her as her church and community is close by and she wants to continue earning. She has a home in Pampierstad, far away in the Northern Cape where her family lives so it may mean for her going or returning home. I’ve encouraged her to grow vegetables and plants and to continue her sewing if that move is made –

I’ve been upstairs in my study, bringing things from the dining room table downstairs and organising and streamlining things, making it functional and as pleasing as possible. There’s still a bit to do but I’m pleased with progress so far.

I like time on my own – there’s been only Angie the cat to feed. And myself. She fulfils my mother complex I suppose always wanting more food  for which I am happy to oblige. But it’s getting out of hand. I’m sure she’s not as greedy-needy when others are about.

I know I’m going to have to put myself out there a bit when I claim Plett as my permanent residence. Already I’ve enquired about a walking/hiking group but the organiser wants to know more about me and question me as to my fitness. I’m still to make enquiries about art groups and maybe bridge groups. Join the library. I responded to a Plett group this morning. May well be meeting a few at Whale Rock Wednesday morning to pick up litter, if the municipality hasn’t cleared the weekend trash. Pole pole … (polay polay) which means slowly slowly in Swahili – the words used by Wilson our guide up Mt Kilimanjaro so many years ago. Maybe I’ll send the walking/hiking lady this and hope she doesn’t look at the date ..

*The photo of National Geographic doesn’t make for easy reading –

the white band across it says MT. KILIMANJARO CONQUERED – FAB FIVE SUMMITS: AUG 19th 1999 – 7.45 am.

At the TOP it says: JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY: “The Nigredo of Mud”.

At the BOTTOM it says: Africa’s Highest Mountain Yields

to Determined Mountaineers

BREATHING AT 20,000 FOOT ALTITUDE

Science studies the effects of altitude on elderly

An update on my enquiry re hiking/walking – she phoned me back and we chatted so on Thursday I’m embarking on a hike in unknown territory for me. Had I climbed Robberg all the way she wanted to know. Yes numerous times I said. I omitted to tell her that the last time I climbed it all the way was in April last year and I nearly came short – not quite, but almost. Meeting at 8.15 on a 10km hike on Thursday, so help me …

I’m glad I walked this morning – the day was lovely, sunny and warm. I wish I’d donned my costume and sarong and swam like I did last week … the waves looked gentle. A few bathers about. At this time of year, people come from abroad to escape their winters or simply just to enjoy this milder weather. Those who migrate here for a month or so are called ‘Swallows’ – 

Elections here in South Africa in less than 2 months. I wonder what’s going to happen.

Thank you for reading. May the Force be with you wherever you are –

*It’s a fake cover on National Geographic – the picture is real though!

 

 

Colours

Colours

 I stuck this decal on my back bumper of my car some time ago. It’s small – about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. It’s struck me before that using dots and circles (mandalas) is reminiscent of Australian aboriginal paintings. This one is stylised, yet primitive. I love the beauty of the serpent. I part sketched it yesterday in a note book and I think I will attempt a painting of it. Acrylic? Water colours? Maybe using different colours – green and yellow dots maybe with some red and white and definitely blue. I recently read Lucinda Riley’s ‘The Pearl Sister’ which is mostly set in Australia and the story brings in aboriginal art and CeCe’s search for her ancestry in Australia. So there’s some dovetailing for me – I’ve been wondering what to paint. This is a nudge for me.

And then yesterday – because I’ve been puzzled by a dream from several nights ago, I looked up ‘Cat’ in The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. It is a precious book. What I’ve excerpted below is on page 300, titled Cat.

‘… In the evening, all the cats who had participated in the rat-catching had a grand session at (the Swordsman’s) house, and respectfully asked the great Cat to take the seat of honor. They made profound bows before her and said: “We all wish you to divulge your secrets for our benefit.” The grand old cat answered: “Teaching is not difficult, listening is not difficult, but what is truly difficult is to become conscious of what you have in yourself and be able to use it as your own….’ The Swordsman and the Cat, from a seventeenth-century master’s book on swordplay.

Now this doesn’t have any direct reference to my puzzling dream in which blue and white cats were rushing through I think my townhouse, but the words are rich. They also remind me of the words of Thomas in the Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

I’ve sort of been stuck in this for a while – feeling uncreative, enervated, flat, inertia descending on me like a mushroom cloud – sadness and shock at deaths of people I know during the month of January –

We’ve been in Plettenberg Bay for several weeks already and will be heading to our Johannesburg home this coming week for the rest of the month of February. I won’t say that I’ve ‘failed’ at the several tasks I set myself while here but there is much that I had planned on doing and did not, like walking every day, yoga stretches every day, more swimming in the sea, more exploring, more writing, less eating like a demon possessed –

Am I beating myself up on it? No, not really – a bit – but not much. I’ve certainly done more housework than I’ve ever done in my life. Our Plett home is a large home. There’s no Jane from our townhouse in Johannesburg to do the washing and ironing and keeping things tidy. There’s me and Neil who says he’s never worked so hard and that he didn’t realise what a lot of work is entailed in the maintenance of a home. But, I’ve enjoyed this work, which feels like honest labour to me. (No ironing on my side – things just dry on the washing line.) I employ Fadzi a young Zimbabwean woman once a week who works her magic.  She creates and moves things round rather imaginatively from week to week.We’ve done much to make our home lovelier and more comfortable. I’m looking forward to the time when I’ll create a beautiful garden with its difficult soil. I hope to bring back my lovely potted orchids from Johannesburg to Plett. I’ll go indigenous as much as possible. I’ve already done some planting. We had wonderful much needed rains yesterday followed by this lovely rainbow captured from my bedroom balcony.

Elections are due to take place in South Africa in about April. Already the electioneering begins. Our robust justice system is in process of exposing many members of the the governing party the ANC and businesses involved in breath taking corruption. What’s been happening in Zimbabwe on our borders is beyond appalling. Mnangagwa, its president was recently in Russia begging for loans and did not get to Davos to beg for more but returned to Zimbabwe, for fear perhaps of a coup occurring in his absence. News coming out of Zimbabwe is scarce, as there is a shut down. There are calls for international sanctions against Zimbabwe.

World-wide things are pretty alarming – I won’t itemise it all. But people are rising and saying No, not in my name, individually and collectively. Something is in the air. But I think of the wind that can blow so fiercely here at times here in Plett for a day or so and then all of a sudden it stops, as if it’s run out of breath. 

In all of this I think of white privilege, my white privilege, there by the skin of my teeth or by the colour of my skin. I’ve written about this before and I believe that we’ve projected on to the ‘other’ our own unacknowledged darkness within our own selves. How much easier it is to put it on to others. We fear doing the hard work necessary to look within our own selves, and acknowledge the darkness that resides in the shadows, waiting patiently to be recognised so that healing can begin – There is gold in the shadows – when we own it and bring it out and withdraw our projection onto the other, we develop empathy for others and ourselves and thereby embark on beginning steps towards healing – for all of us.

I was up early this morning and took this photo of the sunrise. The gold bowl surrounding the white light arising from the darkness –

Thank you for reading! May the Force be with you –

 

 

 

Solstice, Christmas greetings and New Year wishes

Time marches, waiting for no one …

Today is the Solstice, Christmas Day next week Tuesday – and a week later it’s New Year’s Day!

  I’ve blogged about the Solstice and the Equinox in years past on those days. I like to acknowledge them – the the earth and the sun are in particular relation to each other. I feel that Earth: Eros and the Sun: Logos ‘meet’ and that there is balance and a stillness however momentary.

For those of us in the southern hemisphere, tonight will be the shortest and for those of you in northern climes your winter night will be the longest. Our nights will grow imperceptibly longer as daylight shortens, and in the north the daylight lingers longer as nightlight shortens.

Little turnings on the earth’s axis as night and day increase and decrease is, I believe, meaningful in that it indicates change, no matter how imperceptible the changes are. I guess it is the stillness worldwide as the changes of seasons are heralded that appeals to me as well as Eros and Logos meeting, the meeting of the divine Feminine and Masculine energies. Also, tonight will be a full moon worldwide, and I believe a meteoric shower will grace our skies. Celestial events indeed!

I took a photo the other evening from my study – it was still light but the growing full moon was in the sky –

Personally, change is very much upon me though being my usual self, I’m slow in processing and digesting. It suits my temperament to not come to any definite conclusions about anything – what the future may hold for example. Change happens both fast and slow. I know that as I’ve been traipsing up and down the stairs to attend to my new study and then down again with arms full of boxes to be discarded, that one false step and I could land at the bottom with twisted ankle, broken arms and legs or worse. Grim fantasy I know. But it is infinitely possible – so I am extra careful and enjoy the going up and the coming down. Traversing two worlds as it were – and grateful that as each day passes that I’ve been working hard physically, that so far, so good – 

My study is coming along. A few nights ago my son Mike and Neil my husband helped me re-arrange the furniture. The following day I unpacked many of my books and arranged cushions on the sofa, found a very pretty embroidered throw from our Johannesburg home that I’d unpacked and put that on the small and rather uncomfortable one. It’s almost done – my books are fully unpacked on the shelves as is my art stuff and plenty of files in a large enclosed yellowwood cupboard, none of which is visible in this photo. 

We’ve been down in Plettenberg Bay many times over Christmas and usually attend a service at an evangelical church whose pastor married my younger son and his wife in the converted barn at the Bramon Wine Estate nearly 3 years ago. Anton always brings such a special message to the Christmas service of Christ’s birth. Oh how those words of his messages ring so true. And the full throated singing by members of the congregation. I feel my heart swelling until fit to burst. Especially when we sing ‘How Great Thou Art’.

Yet another baby tortoise that my husband saw when coming up the outside steps after a morning game of golf on Wednesday, in a quite different part of the garden. This no larger than the palm of my hand. Even smaller than the baby I saw a day or so ago but was unable to photograph. Do you see the two hearts? One on the left, the other on the right – And all the other markings, thoroughly intriguing to me. Tortoises live on the land; turtles are sea creatures though they lay their eggs on the sea-sand. They’re very closely related though.  I’ll fashion one in the next little while – I was happy to see a block of clay I unpacked.

My younger son David and his wife Jüte arrived safely last night ex Cape Town. My elder son Mike is here too while his own home in Plett is currently being airbnb’d. The family occupying his home until early January arrived last week. The wife was especially hassled. But the news from the managing agent a few days ago is that they couldn’t be happier! So that is good news – they’re loving his space, the garden and pool and being in Plettenberg Bay.

So we have our two sons and daughter-in-law with us. All is very fine indeed! Jüte is a superb cook and baker – we’ve had a brief talk about Christmas lunch. She’s been accepted into Silwood in Cape Town, a 3 year diploma course in fine cooking and baking and learning about the source of foodstuffs – e.g. mushrooms and truffles – and how to find them. Probably sustainable cooking as well. Meeting with the finest chefs viewing demonstrations of their skills to the pupils, and the pupils showcasing to them, theirs. And more besides! How lovely to have a chef in the family! She’s talking about making a rooibos icecream for Christmas … (the rooibos plant is indigenous to South Africa – we are famous for our teas and the healthful qualities of rooibos) –

Thank you for reading and thank you for coming along to my every-now-and-then blog. I so appreciate it and love to receive your comments. I love the connection. It means a great deal to me!

Happy Solstice Day to you! A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Especially, as we head into 2019 I wish us all joie de vivre and joy, peace and prosperity, health and happiness, love and light. May the Force be with you and loved ones, everyone everywhere –

Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in the conspiracy of love: Hamilton Wright Mabie

departures and arrivals

departures and arrivals

I departed Johannesburg this past Thursday, waking at 4.00 a.m. leaving at 5.05 a.m. I stopped in at the local petrol station a short drive away from my home. My car just needed a top up before I set off. The skies were already lightening.

A long drive, 1273 kms to be precise. Nearly 800 miles. I arrived in Plettenberg Bay at 8.05 p.m. It was only the last half hour or so that I drove in darkness. My husband and son were there to let me in and welcome me with open arms and unload the bags. My car was pretty well packed to the hilt.

I am very grateful that I arrived without incident on the roads. There was a lot of traffic, huge trucks going in both directions plus other travellers off to somewhere. Our roads are very good. My little Honda Brio is a real champ. She holds only 30 litres of petrol which is really not much. On long distance travel she can easily clock 400 kms, that’s 250 miles on a full tank. I would check the reading every now and then and sometimes I was getting 16 km to the litre. That’s a real energy saver. I’ve stretched it to 430 or 440 kms on a full tank on occasion in times past and it’s taken me 14 hours to arrive in Plettenberg Bay. This time 15 hours.

Travelling tip for summer driving – I packed a wet face cloth into a zip lock bag and used it a few times to wipe across my face and neck. It was very refreshing. The heat outside was extreme – 38 degrees C. Plus my food for the road was light – sliced apple, cucumber and broccoli. I bought a small packet of salted chips the one time I stopped to fill up – I felt I needed the salt.

Sadly we have a terrible record for accidents and death on our roads much of it due to dangerous, sometimes drunk driving. Every year at this time there is a huge drive for awareness on the roads. I know that I have to be a responsible driver yet be aware that others may not be. Accidents, pile-ups – it takes a split second. Or even less, a nano second. The truck drivers were good. Other travellers drove very large cars, with roof racks and bicycles on a rack attached to the rear end bumper, 4, 5 bikes.  Or large cars with trailers. They were mostly good. Maybe the drive for awareness is catching on – though we think and hope this each year.

My husband who had arrived a few days before me, and I tackled some of the boxes the next day, yesterday, which had been delivered to the house some weeks before by a removal company. I totally organised my bedroom cupboards and wardrobe and bathroom. The sideboard in the dining room is mostly organised, though the dining room still needs to be sorted.

My study-to-be is on the upmost level. I went upstairs for the first time today to have a look and worked pretty hard on cleaning bookshelves, picking boxes off from the floor onto smooth surfaces, ripping tape off sealed boxes. Serious exercise. Tomorrow I will decide how the furniture is to be arranged to my satisfaction and start unpacking boxes of books and other things. Shall I place my desk facing the wide glass windows overlooking the sea, or position it differently taking into account where there are electrical outlets, while still having the view if I turn my head. The cover for a sofa looked grubby so I ripped that off and stuck it in the washing machine with bleach. It’s hanging out on the line – it may take ages to dry. The sofa will face the view ..

Below are some ‘before’ photos

I changed the sitting room that is the living area where we mostly gather re-arranging cushions and one or two other things. It’s looking calm, fresh, tidy.

My sister and I spoke on the phone this morning. She was setting off with her husband to Du Toit’s Kloof about an hours drive from Cape Town where she lives to attend the wedding of her brother-in-law’s son. She did say on the phone that she planned to go walking in the area. It was such a lovely surprise when I received this little video of her surrounds mid afternoon today … it’s only about 34 secs long and is truly lovely.

 As I went about my tasks today I wasn’t thinking about anything very much – I did think of connecting my music box in my study and listening to something while working, but somehow I didn’t get around to it. It’s satisfying sometimes to work in silence – and keep focused on the task at hand while imagining the later positioning of furniture –

Yesterday morning my husband called me down into the garden. I photographed this little tortoise nibbling at the wild strawberries. Neil offered it lettuce and water but it declined. 

I checked the photo I took on 31st December last year also in the garden – it was a larger tortoise – I wonder if the smaller above one is a baby of the older below but what is striking to me are the etchings on their shells. Similar but very different and so striking – something rather ancient about the designs –

I hope this finds you all in good cheer. I sense that amongst all the troubling things happening around the world, that we’re on the brink of something. Who knows what that something is … maybe we have to reach rock bottom before we can begin to ascend. That’s my thought and I’m holding onto it. There’s so much good in the world and I am ever hopeful that good will triumph ultimately. The boils are being lanced – readying themselves for healing –

Photo below is from my garden back home in Johannesburg – may the solar lamp remind you of the light in the darkness –

Thank you for reading and may the Force be with you –

Sunday: Photo below of baby tortoise not bigger than my hand and extended fingers this morning in a different part of the garden – again, please note the lovely and different markings!

 

Heat Rainbow Blue

Heat Rainbow Blue

We’ve been experiencing an excruciating heat wave for the last several days – temperatures 5 degrees celsius above normal November temperatures. And no rain! October onwards is the usual rainy period for where I live up on the highveld. We’ve had some, let me not exaggerate. Once or twice. But barely any. Lots of rumbles and darkening skies and promises of rain. Sunday evening it was certain, the wind got up, the skies darkened, I heard thunder … but rain just simply did not happen. Well, not here at home but when I looked out of my study window around 6.00 p.m. there was this glorious rainbow so it must have rained somewhere? Not too far away? I’m not sure – the evening sky was blue – the rainbow seemed to come out of the blue

You can see the scorched grass in the middle. The jacarandas in the background have lost their beautiful blue blooms in the last few days. Yet, much remains green ..

Small beer I know when I think of the fires in California and the terrible destruction that raged through towns like Paradise. The tragic irony of its name is not lost on me. Paradise and Hell? Abundance and scarcity; crippling drought and gentle rain; light and dark –

I heard on Sunday of the death on Saturday of a woman called Hannah. I reckon she must have been about 95 or 96. The last year or so of her life was spent in a frail care home. She was mostly bed bound over the last several years. I visited her occasionally. She was a wise and beautiful woman with long black hair falling over her shoulder – she always wore red lipstick. I enjoyed the hour or so I would spend with her. Always there was tea and cookies on a pretty tray prepared by her housekeeper. This morning I continued my tidying up and sorting papers and files in preparation for our upcoming relocation and I found this piece of paper in a drawer. I can’t remember the why’s and wherefore’s or why it should have Hannah’s name at the top of it. I will probably never remember – it’s one of those things out of the blue

Hannah

Do not be overcome by evil,

but overcome evil with good

Romans 12. 21I’m taking it as a synchronistic sign – as a message from this lady who I’ve known for over 45 years or so – as a gift to me. The mother of one of my husband’s friends. It’s the sort of thing Hannah would remind me of when we discussed the ways of the world and when not talking about family or books. Her voice was always very faint with a still recognisable Israeli accent. I had to struggle to hear her. But this note speaks loudly –

All seems so uncertain and wobbly. Not only on the personal front but everywhere. We’ve been having the Zondo commission of enquiry into state capture over the last weeks. This week will be devoted to Pravin Gordhan’s testimony, a senior minister, one of the good guys. I like what he said: “State Capture and corruption are the result of unleashing the worst of human instincts“. Are these dark times forcing us to uncover our darkest instincts – so that they can be fully acknowledged and confronted, and the business of reparation can begin? And the criminals, holding high positions, can be tried and sent to jail. Or will we remain in denial, by far the easiest – and most damaging.

 I know that Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those in America and that this is a celebratory time of family, friends and food. It is ‘… an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November‘ (from wikipedia). I know that Canada had their annual Thanksgiving in October. We don’t have have such a holiday here in South Africa but this doesn’t lessen the interest I have in its significance (the food and its preparation is always of especial interest to me). I try to remember on a daily basis that I have much to be thankful for; that the circumstances I was born into gave me a headlong start in life. By that I mean the colour of my skin. The odds were stacked in my favour. 

So, may your table be well prepared and those at your table enjoy the produce of your efforts. I know there are many who are displaced in California and my heart goes out to them. Let’s hope that glorious, cleansing and refreshing rain halts those fires. May the fire fighters earn a well deserved rest. And may those in the deepest despair know that we are with them every step of the way. I note for the moment: Yemen, Mexico, Syria, Jamal Khashoggi’s family – the list is endless. And to those who continue to have racial bias perpetrated upon them, I’m reminded of Mr. Nelson Mandela’s words: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” 

 Good will prevail.

The lotus arises from the mud –

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

Prayer

PrayerIt’s a huge topic to write about but it’s one that’s been occupying my mind lately in one way or another.

Last Saturday night we had dinner with friends and their delightful friends. One of the women Jane* told me the most extraordinary story. She and her husband John* live down at the sea but were up here on the highveld to help their family.

Their son-in-law Peter*, was out running midmorning on a public holiday towards the end of September in a lovely suburb half way between Johannesburg and Pretoria. He suddenly crashed. A woman who had been with a group on a walk and talk tour on the topic of the meaning of this public holiday – Heritage Day – in this historic area, broke free from the  group and wandered off on her own. Some way off, she saw this very disoriented man on the ground surrounded by people who thought he was drunk and disorderly and they were about to call the police to remove him. She recognised him – she’s a Canadian I gather and was here in this country for business purposes and the man on the ground was one of her associates. She immediately dialled for an ambulance recognising the symptoms of a stroke and went with them. She was able to phone his wife Diana* to say what had happened and at what hospital they were in Pretoria.

It was a brain aneurism. 3 visiting Israeli neurosurgeons were at the hospital to perform a particular operation on a patient and provide teaching to other resident surgeons – that patient did not pitch up. So the operation was performed on Peter. A very tricky one in the Circle of Willis in the brain.

For the last several years he and his wife Diana have hosted a street party in their suburb on Heritage Day, 27th September, a public holiday. This time round, Diana messaged the group from the hospital to say what had happened and that they would not be there. But to continue with the street party regardless.

When she finally got home that evening she found all their neighbours in their garden with lighted candles, praying for her husband’s recovery. Which they continued to do over the weeks and sent out messages all over to pray for Peter. He’s been in recovery for the last month in hospital. He is still recovering in hospital and being rehabilitated. He’s been at home once or twice for short stretches and even doing a little photography further afield. He has clearly beaten the odds.

There is much more to this story I could tell – one miracle followed another. Friends, acquaintances and his business have been so kind. All have contributed in large measure in his ongoing recovery. His very good medical insurance ran out after a few days – his place of business told him they would cover all the very expensive costs. There has been and continues to be a huge rallying around … I am so struck by this story and have no doubt that prayer has played a huge role.

I saw this tiny praying mantis yesterday morning on my key ring on the dining room table. Barely visible, off centre on the top part of the blue of remote. Its tiny feelers were in prayer mode. Thank you Mantis I said to it.

Watering the garden last evening, I thought how the plants and flowers are so resilient in spite of the crushing heat we’ve been experiencing. I was reflecting also on the ‘faded’ state I’ve been feeling, fast fading into oblivion, in danger of becoming invisible to myself this last while. Enervated, listless. The world is just too much, here and elsewhere. I’ve been wondering whether we carry the wounds of past generations in our genes and how on earth can they be healed and knowing they must. Elsewise it seems to me that those wounds will keep on presenting themselves in the generations that follow. Why, when we’re better off in so many ways, so say the statistics, do we feel more stressed, more disconsolate, disillusioned?

I remind myself that disillusionment is of value. It is not easy to give up previously held attitudes or ways of being. Being disillusioned means a stripping away of illusions as a way of discerning reality. It’s a painful process – truth often is. This can happen when for example when we realise that a friend is not really a friend, or is just a fair weather friend. Or we realise the colleague who subtly stabs you in the back while smiling. Or our so-called leaders, those who work for us and whose salaries we pay by way of our hard earned taxes do not fulfil the function for which they were elected. Is it our human task, to become stressed because we care about for example the planet and the creatures in threat of becoming extinct? Are we numb to our country lifting the ban of exporting elephant tusks and rhino horn to China? These magnificent animals will be farmed for those precise appendages as they believe they have aphrodisiacal and medicinal qualities. We start to realise that much of the world operates on the principle ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’.

I read somewhere that ‘Nazi’ is the abbreviated form of ‘nationalism’ whose rise across the world is frightening. What vacuum is being fuelled and filled by this? What emptiness is there and yet a longing to belong which currently takes on a badly corrupted manifestation?

Adrienne Rich

My heart is moved by all I cannot save

So much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those, who, age after age,

Perversely, with no extraordinary

Power, reconstitute the world.

Prayer takes so many forms – prayers for help when in sorrow and grief for ourselves or those suffering; simple and complex prayers; prayers for travelling mercies; for rain; for sun; for food; for housing; for safe passage; for birth; for death. We pray for those caught in conflict and who very sadly are often the most vulnerable. We pray for those who try to end the conflict and those who bring vital resources. We pray for those who are in deep depression and most times cannot crawl out of that deep hole. We can pray when we’re walking, on waking, before sleeping, lighting a candle, any quiet time when we’re on our own or with family and friends; and when there is a need for communion with our souls and a universal power. We pray when we give thanks for moments of joy –

The grief we feel for those caught in that barbaric shooting in the synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday and for those who are victims of race shootings because of the colour of their skin, is also a form of prayer.

Is there any value in looking back to the home of the ancients? Maybe from them, our ancestors, by giving birth to the old, there can be a renewal. Maybe there can be an enchantment again with the world and its peoples. And to go back even further to an Old Testament proverb – We build bridges, not walls.

I’ve added this below – I found it interesting. It’s not long.

Edward F. Edinger: The psychological implications of Prayer

I know that next week’s mid-term election looms large in the U.S. and that this is a highly stressful time. Who knows how the chips may fall. We also are going through extraordinary times, mostly very alarming. 

Thank you for reading. May the light be ever present, along with the dark.

*pseudonyms

conception perception deception

Conception, perception, deception –

We were down in Southbroom a town on the Kwa Zulu Natal South coast at the end of last month as guests of our friend Rory. The last time I was there was in late April 1987 when the men had a golf challenge among them. The memory then of standing in the garden looking out to the sea and knowing that my child to be was conceived the previous night is a memory that will always stay with me. David my younger son was born the following year in February1988 (two weeks late if anyone is doing any math).

When we were down at the end September, I said to Rory and reminded my husband that Davey was conceived here. Recently, Rory sent me a photo of the house as it was then (31 odd years ago) and pointed out that conception occurred in the bottom right hand room – the photo in the middle.So, I was pretty chuffed and emailed Rory to say so. It’s lovely to have this on record as it were. It’s also a reminder of my memory being a record of sorts of the following morning following conception looking out to the sea and already feeling the quickening – knowing that I was pregnant –

It was a very unusual feeling to be so certain of something, a feeling I am not familiar with, ie a feeling of certainty. Some things yes – the sun rises and sets, the moon is always there, the tides roll in and recede, the seasons change, the stars even if not visible are always there in all their glory, we sleep we wake we go on about our day –

Bombs fall drought famine fires hurricanes the sands always shifting as people escape their place of origin. Rape, corruption, lies, blame, denial, obfuscation, destruction,  we sleep we wake we go on about our day –

A few mornings ago I took this photo of the jacarandas from my study. I felt a quickening of a different sort – a sort of stillness, paradoxical though this is –

My son returned to South Africa last Wednesday after being away in Europe for 3 months with his wife Jüte who flew straight back down to Cape Town while David stayed for several days with us. He flew back to Cape Town last night. He and his father went for a swim last Friday late afternoon. David took this photo when walking back to the townhouse. The moon will be full on Tuesday or Wednesday …

I took a few today of different trees just outside our townhouse – the colour is always different.

Does my perception of the world change a little when I see beauty and colour and growth and the different shades of light at different times? Yes, it does. It reminds me that the light changes and has an effect on things. When a storm brews and all goes dark and there’s grumbling thunder that matches my mood. Though the light-ning can be scary.

Here in South Africa much is happening. A very brave young woman is giving testimony about her being groomed by a pastor in her church and the sexual abuse she has suffered. Thankfully she is being supported by everyone including the ANC Women’s League and the  ANC Youth League. His church has been shut down. He’ll be facing the music this coming week. Those involved in state capture (R100 bn at last count) are being brought to account. Justice is being served. The deception has lasted too long. 

So, I sleep and wake and go about my day – I hear and read about protests often violent, strikes, train & bus crashes, trains deliberately set alight, shacks being burned, rising fuel prices, a barely moving economy. I find myself sitting in the opposites of the chaos of the world and my world and the beauty of the natural world. The tension is  unbearable. I sometimes write down precipitations, a form of prayer, a conception, an intercession, and then leave it to go where it will into the atmosphere – and I find stillness if even for a moment …

Creation and destruction, deception and denial, the search for truth has been around forever. I grieve for the family and fiancé of Kamal Khoshoggi and with all who find the circumstances of his death so abhorrent.

And I always ponder on the male and female energies and the need for them to merge, with inception, conception and intention –

Thank you for reading. May you always find your stillness in the midst of it all. And thanks to Jan who provided the above image the day after our reading group last Monday evening …

Equinox

Equinox

It that’s time of the year again – a tilt and a turning –

The earth laughs in flowers: Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was away for 10 days in Cape Town and surrounds. I returned last Saturday evening and was thrilled to see my garden in full bloom. A hanging orchid was showing off –

The yesterday today & tomorrow against one of the sitting room windows and its delicious scent –

The bougainvillea showing signs of recovery and returning to colour

The redness of the bottle brush tree against the greenness –

I took some lovely photos while in Cape Town & surrounds. I didn’t get to see the whales. One day I set off on my own for Hermanus expressly for that purpose. My directions were off and I turned around after travelling for about an hour. My directions were off the previous day too when I went to see a friend in one of the Cape Town suburbs. Was so late. I’ve been there many times – I got lost again when returning to my sister’s home. 

I being me of course wondered about this – my going off in the wrong direction or not following directions or not being attentive enough. Where, why was I off-centre were some of the questions I asked myself. A few days previously I’d gone for a walk in my sister’s very pretty suburb. Lots of roads and streets, avenues and cul-de-sacs and very pretty verges –

Pin cushions – had it been a sunny late afternoon they would have glowed even more – I got a bit lost on my way back –

I took off on another walk another day and found myself at the dam which was a lovely surprise –

I was always very grateful that I returned safely from unfamiliar territory. And, I enjoyed my wanderings as I stepped out of my comfort zone –

My sister Debora and I try each time I visit her in Cape Town, to take a drive to Gordon’s Bay (a good 3/4 hour away), where we used to live as teenagers. Bikini Beach was literally over the road from our old home. Photo is of me standing on the road close to the house with the harbour off to the right. We’ve always walked the jetty to the end. I’d picked up earlier a couple of small yellow daises in a crack in the paving and put them in my pocket. Debora and I always have a chat with our parents for it is into the sea at the end of the jetty that we tossed their ashes so many years ago. We had a good chat with them … and then tossed the daisies into the sea and rocks below –

Another time my sister and I drove out to Muizenberg to pick up Lisa en route to Simonstown to see some friends. While she was attending to curtain people in her house, my sister and I went for a walk on the beach very close by.Debora –

I’ve been thinking about my sweet sister over these days – her kindness, her calm, her ability to be focused and deal with the task at hand. Her nurturing of her lovely garden, hit and destroyed by last year’s drought, now fairly newly planted and growing with indigenous plants, paving, rocks and cactus. 4 rain tanks and her ongoing commitment to conserving and saving water. The lovely dinners she made – like our mother, cooking with love and creativity. She uses recipe books for healthy and delicious eating. Her commitment to gym and exercise. Her ability to be focused when doing a 1500 piece puzzle. Her loving care for her husband and for her 2 poodles. Her wise words about not always seeing the negative but focusing on the positive.

Country-wise, in South Africa that is, it’s pretty painful to witness the commissions of enquiry into state capture. The rot is deep and profound, the impact huge. Media is letting us know – we have already known for quite a long time, but now the festering wounds are being opened even more. This has to happen – the wounds are being laid bare, open and gaping, gruesome in the extreme. A huge percentage of our population because of inter alia illiteracy is entirely unaware, though the word is getting out even to those in more remote areas. There is a ground swell of awareness I like to think, of just how badly they’ve been served by their elected officials. 

Many of us have good reason to believe that the Ramaphoria euphoria (Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa our president) is over – we had hoped for much more from his new presidency, eg getting rid of some his henchmen in the inner circle. I only hope he’s playing a long game – elections are next year. He’s going to have to wave his magic wand – as of yesterday he launched a daring proposal to stimulate the economy and promises much needed fixing where it’s needed. It’s on the table and his delegates will be held accountable. There is so much that is up the creek here in South Africa – yet so much potential – he’ll have to do more than wave his magic wand – somehow we’ll all have to pull together. And return to our sense of hope or possibilities from several months ago.

I sometimes feel adrift with all these transitions. On a personal note Neil, my husband, turns the key in the door in his private practice at the end of next month and officially retires as a medical specialist. His patients are devastated. Some have spoken about flying down to Plettenberg Bay to see him. Who knows, maybe he’ll have a small practice down there. He and I have no idea of how this transition is going to be. We’ll maintain our home here in Johannesburg for a while. Both sons come up from the Cape fairly regularly for reasons of work and use our home as a base. I need to be in Johannesburg next year for various reasons. I imagine there’ll be some to-ing and fro-ing, maybe exploring places en-route, something I’ve always wanted to do. Road trip through our beautiful country. Organising things this end and that end –

In spring time, some homes show their beautiful gardens to the public. We went last Sunday to Neil’s old home where his parents and he lived. The gardens and home were very lovely. It was a trip down memory lane for him. ‘Strathy’ was its name – I remember his lovely home and his parents.  I took many photos but here’s one –

To end – as I write I am full of a virus. We should be leaving tomorrow, Sunday, for Southbroom, on the Natal south coast. We’re postponing for a day or so until I am over this. My husband phoned Rory this morning (our host for several days) to say about a delay by a day or two. He asked him at my request if there were any whales, to which Rory said that as they were talking he could see a whale breeching about 200 mtrs away. So this has lifted me somewhat … or considerably I should say –

The Equinox – when the centre of the sun is directly above the equator and when both north and south hemispheres are equally illuminated.

When we were travelling in June we went to see the Black Madonna in Einseideln, outside Zurich.. We were both overwhelmed at the beauty of her and felt her illumination. As I look at my photos of her on my phone I am again struck by her illuminating light and it is this that I pass on to you on the Equinox. 

The earth will be still for one brief moment tomorrow. May we all feel that stillness – as the wheel of the sun moon and stars and our planet continues turning – and we tilt this way and that –

Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow

Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow –

This is a photo I took 2 years ago on safari in Ngaka Modiru Molema, Botswana. I was hunting through my photos on my phone to see if I had one of wildebeest crossing a river; I‘m pretty sure I do but I reckon it’s in the cloud somewhere.

 I was watching a person on TV speaking in parliament today while having coffee. I missed the beginning so I can’t give his name. He was saying about the absolute necessity of South Africa to use farm land for crops and agriculture. This includes the expropriation of land without compensation. We are able to provide for all, including export he said, if commercial farming (and for personal gain) is properly implemented:a plan for training, machinery, and good living farm conditions with schools and clinics. Title deeds (not leases) to be given for such land, which can be used as collateral for loans from banks – farmers, black and white, men and women, are very eager to farm and be prosperous.

He ended his rather impassioned plea saying he wanted to leave them with an image. He spoke of the wildebeest and their migration.

Imagine huge herds of wildebeest on one side of the river, he said. It is dry, there is no food. They need to get to the other side where the grass is greener and their calves can be born. If they stay on the one side, the lions will eat them. They have to cross the river, even if there are crocodiles in the current. But they can’t just jump into the river one by one – they’ll be attacked by the crocs. The banks on the other side of the river are high; they’ll have to clamber up those steep slopes.

So, there are risks. I saw this as an apt metaphor for today and tomorrow. A raging current to be traversed – 

Last evening I was at my usual Monday night Jung reading group. Sometimes a passage we read is so relevant to the current situation here in South Africa as well as world wide that not much actual study gets done. Last night was just such an evening – we each expressed our grave concerns about this beautiful country we live in. I’m starting to feel like a stranger in my own land. I’ve been feeling uneasy for a long while. We discussed whether it is better for our psychological health to remain hopeful that things will work themselves out and NOT to listen or watch the news.. I’m trying to figure out exactly what my feelings are. I do know that I’m witnessing the dark side of human nature as never before – though as someone said we know of it already as in WW1 & WW2 and the Holocaust and other historical and current atrocities. Yes, this is true. As in the migration of people from Venezuela because of the collapse of the economy. As in people trying to get to Europe as refugees or asylum seekers and the many deaths due to overloaded boats and/or people smuggling. As in suicide bombers. As in elephant and rhino poaching, as in drought, flooding, pollution … do I really want to know all this? I don’t actually – I really don’t. It gets to me on a gut level. We agreed that these sorts of feelings also render us somewhat powerless, if not unhinged. With what’s going on in SA, it feels as if the whole of SA is depressed. The rot is deep. Thousands are emigrating, skilled professionals. I feel anarchic at times.

Today while driving I heard on the news that SA is technically in a recession. Our currency is fast depreciating. The cost of living is already high and the poor are feeling it most. But we’re all feeling the pinch. Less money to spend which affects the economy. Money is now used for basics – not for spending –

What does this all mean we wondered last night? What is the meaning of meaning? But, as always, it is imperative to hold our centre in the midst of it all. The wheel keeps turning. It’s always intensely dark before sunrise –

I’m flying down to Cape Town tomorrow morning for several days. I want to see the sea and mountains and some friends. I especially want to see the whales. To see those great leviathans emerge from the depths that let us know they are there in all their magnificence. My friend Jan who is in our Monday night meetings sent me this little video this morning, of whales in Hermanus, this morning, this day. I’ll be visiting Hermanus, about an hour and a half outside of Cape Town.

Thank you for reading. L’Shana Tovah and well over the fast, Happy Labour Day, and may you all be well.

I’ve removed the whales video – it was causing some problems … Tues 18th Sept

 

International Nelson Mandela Day

International Nelson Mandela Day

We arrived home 2 weeks ago after being away in Europe for just over 3 weeks. Home – the reality was as joyful as the anticipation. All was well on our return thanks to Jane (Kgomotso, her African name) our housekeeper; Angie our ginger cat was happy to have us back home to lord it over us.. The winter garden looked healthy, bright and green though I was warned beforehand that the cold bite was due the next day. And boy did it bite. From the northern summer climes to hard hitting bitter biting cold. Snow all over South Africa. The temperatures plunged overnight … and it is still cold cold cold. Up here on the highveld (Johannesburg, 2000 mts above sea level) the cold is different – the skies are bright blue, so it is deceptive.

Our European trip was eventful and wonderful. There are a few photographs at the end of this post.

As eventful on our return was the rescue of the Thai schoolboys in the cave and the death of the courageous Thai Navy Seal diver Saman Kunan. And learning that their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, taught them to meditate to stay calm in the cave, made my blood corpuscles expand in a good way. The Wimbledon semi finals kept us on the edge of our seats, Kevin Anderson (SA) playing against John Isner (US). The 5th & final set was Anderson’s, 26:24, the longest in Wimbledon history. Anderson lost to Djokovic in the finals. The soccer World Cup was also pretty exciting, some of it we watched while in Europe. The political dramas around the world are worrying, here in South Africa also. Every day our heads spin at the latest uncovering of graft and corruption of those in power. Riots, strikes, violent protests are the order of the day –

Today is Nelson Mandela International Day, a day set up by ‘The Elders’ 16 years ago to honour this man and all for which he stood. Today is the day of his birth, 100 years ago. Yesterday afternoon I watched the live TV broadcast at the Wanderers Stadium, just a short way from where I live in Johannesburg. Persons in the past who’ve been invited to give the annual lecture include Mary Robinson (former prime minister of Ireland);  Kofi Annan former general secretary of the UN; Ellen Sirleaf former president of Liberia; Kgalema Motlanthe former president and deputy president of South Africa and many other dignitaries over the years.

Yesterday’s invited guest was US former president Barack Obama. There were several speeches beforehand, the first given by Prof. Njabulo Ndebele, academic and chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. My heart swelled at listening to him. One of his anecdotes was of Richard Stengel, American editor, journalist and author who collaborated with Mandela’s book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’. Stengel and Mandela were in an airplane over Natal when Stengel saw that the prop of the plane had stopped turning. He told Mandela who merely nodded his head – You’d better tell the pilot, he said. Which Stengel did. The pilot was aware and said he’d alerted ground forces in the event of a crash landing. Stengel relayed this back to Mandela who merely nodded his head and said yes. They landed safely. Afterwards Mandela expressed his real fear of this incident but he also spoke of his fear for humanity. Stengel relayed how calm and calming Mandela was in his ability to suppress his inner fears so as to be brave for other people. 

Mr. Mandela has also said that if the poor and marginalised do not have a future, then those who are privileged also do not have a future –

Patrick Motsepe founder of the Motsepe foundation followed Prof. Ndebele’s speech, then Graça Machel widow of Mr. Mandela. She made her husband come alive for us when she spoke of him. Her essential message was to recognise our common humanity. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa our president then stepped up to the microphone to rapturous applause. It was lovely to see him beaming and looking much less stressed and exhausted than he usually does. He spoke inter alia of the need to clean up and fix our broken institutions. And the need for accountability and responsibility of each and every person.

Mr Barack Obama followed also to rapturous applause. He gave a rousing speech, highlighting many advances in all fields made since 100 years ago and the strides in the last few decades. He spoke of the current danger of going back to the old ways, of authoritarianism, nationalism, restriction of freedom of speech. The more things change the more they stay the same. He reminded us of the value of activism at the grass roots level.

I’ve excerpted a few of Obama’s statements thanks to the FB feed of Don Maxwell Searll.

 “It is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the failures and shortcomings of this international order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business.”.

“We have to start by admitting that whatever laws may have existed on the books, whatever wonderful pronouncements existed in constitutions, whatever nice words were spoken these last decades at international conferences or in the halls of the United Nations, the previous structures of power and privilege and injustice and exploitation never completely went away.”

 “It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists both in the United States and in South Africa.”

 “The politics of resentment and fear and retrenchment began to appeal. And that kind of politics is now on the move.”

 “On Madiba’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads. A moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world. Two different stories, two different narratives about who we are and who we should be.”

 “I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision. I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal and they’re endowed by our Creator certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation and pursuit of a common good.”

BUT what really was heart stopping for me was Prof. Patrick Lumbumba’s (Kenyan legal expert and scholar) speech that he gave on campus at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, Eastern Cape last night. As wonderful and inspiring as the memorial at Wanderers stadium was with its audience of 15000, Lumumba’s speech was much more powerful (not related to but named after Patrice Lumbumba, the first and only elected Prime Minister of the Congo Republic who was assassinated – believed to be by the CIA – a few months after Congo gained formal independence 50 years ago)…The clip below is long. Prof. Lumbumba starts speaking at 59 mins into this video after being addressed by I think a Xhosa headman singing his praises (added after I realised my mistake – not a Zulu warrior) for about 5 mins. He reminded us not to repeat the mistakes of history. It is so worth watching – not the whole meeting but Prof. Patrick Lumbumba’s speech. … what questions would Nelson Mandela have asked if he was alive today? He would have asked questions as in eg ‘how is it that a country’s people (Africa) so well endowed, are still so poor?’ He would not have stopped at that question, he would have asked, ‘how is it that people are still fighting and killing each other?’ He would not have stopped at that question .. Nelson Mandela would have asked ‘are we liberated from the pain of killing our brothers and sisters?’ He would not have stopped at that question, he would have asked ‘how is it that Africa produces what it does, but does not consume it; but consumes what it does not produce?’ … but you can hear him for yourself … he talks for about a half hour … the last 30 mins. He urges us to continue petitions and protests, we need leaders not dealers, we need teachers not cheaters.

WATCH: Prof Lumumba delivers Nelson Mandela memorial lecture

I heard Mr. Mandela’s personal chef Xoliswa Ndoyiya speak today. She served him porridge every single morning for 19 years when he was at his Johannesburg home, with nuts, raisins and currants. One morning he asked for Frosties for breakfast. Ooooo Tata she said, no you cannot have sugar. Why do you want Frosties? Are your grandchildren encouraging you? No, he said, I’ve listened and honoured my mother eating porridge for breakfast for a long time now and now I want a change!

Well, this has been a long post, probably my longest ever. But I wanted to share this historic moment which makes me think and feel that more than ever, we need to find it in ourselves to continue opening our heart, to realise the common humanity we share, to practise kindness and the art of giving, the art of listening, the art of appreciating what we have, to continue to wonder at the small things that bring us joy, to continue to be curious about this strange mystery called life.

A few days in Paris, this one overlooking the Seine, close to Notre Dame Cathedral, before flying to Lisbon to catch a taxi to Sintra –

The villa in Sintra
view from balcony of villa, castles everywhere on the mountainside –
Down the lane from the villa we were staying in, in Sintra, I was admiring the lemons in the garden. This lovely lady picked some for me. They were huge!
family photograph of my sister-in-law Jenny, her husband Mike, Neil, their son Alex and his twin daughters
After our wonderful family holiday in Portugal, we flew to Zurich. There were so many highlights, the ride on the tram to Einsiedeln and seeing the Black Madonna on 21st June which was the solstice or close enough to it. She was magnificent – words cannot describe the emotions that were evoked in both Neil and myself.We went on a boat to Küsnacht and visited the Jung Institute there. I bought this book …
and walked down the road to see Jung’s house…
Our hotel in Zurich was central to much … the restaurant over the road called Tibits was one we frequented often, 100% vegetarian.

From Basel after 4 nights in Zurich, we embarked on the boat for the river cruise up the Rhine. So many photos of beauty, hard to select one … this from the deck in Canal d’Alsace

There were many excursions to places of historical interest when the boat docked. We could either join planned excursions or walk about towns at our own leisure. We did both … I’ll write about some of those places another time –

7 nights later after cruising through countryside of great beauty we docked in Amsterdam where we spent two nights on the boat.  We did a cruise seeing Amsterdam from the river. We also did a lot of walking. The one below is standing outside Anne Frank’s house –

Thank you for reading. May this find you well and may your centre hold.

Travel and Transitions

Travel and transitions

It’s the first time I’m using my iPad to put up a post. Not without difficulty – but I felt that I didn’t want to let the 20th June go by without acknowledging transitions.

We’ve spent a week in Sintra Portugal with my husband’s family from the States – his sister and her husband, their son and wife and delightful 9 year old twins, and their daughter. A very comfortable villa, gorgeous garden and pool, and views of the mountains and castles. I wish I could post pictures but getting them from my cell to iPad is beyond me.

I’m not sure of the exact date of the solstice, whether it’s the 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd but the solstice it is, longest day here in the northern hemisphere, longest night back home in the southern hemisphere – and then a tilting of the earth’s axis – and a seasonal transition.

It’s also 5 years to the day of my car accident, the day before moving from our old home to our new one, the townhouse. I remember my younger son praying over me at the side of my upturned car, and my right hand dangling next to me. The ambulance ride I don’t remember, I remember vaguely being wheeled in for the operation, both sons and my husband there.

We did move the next day, on the solstice which was  also a full moon that night, and which was my plan 5 years ago. I remember learning patience – my right hand was badly damaged and encased in plaster for several weeks … using my left hand to write blog posts and do the usual that had to be done.

We leave Sintra today and fly to Zurich for a few days before embarking on a boat cruise.

It’s been a big year this year. Politically in South Africa where we had a change of president and we’re still battling to emerge from all that was so badly wrong. I know this is true around the world.

My husband and I both turned 70 – he at the end of May and I about 2 weeks ago. (Adding later: NOT 2 weeks ago, it was last week!!!) So this too is a transition. I’m just acknowledging a still point and transitions and I hope that any transitions you are or may be making go well and creatively.

-thank you for reading-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This and That

This and That …

I wanted to write about Jacob and Esau, hostile twin brothers from Genesis in the Old Testament. I wanted to look afresh at this ancient story which has always fascinated me. I wanted to look beyond what we hear on the news of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Genesis story tells of Esau, the hunter, favoured son of Isaac; and Jacob the diligent student, favoured son of Rebekah. When Rebekah asked the Lord what was going on with all the jostling in her womb while she was pregnant, He replied: Genesis 25:23

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger”. 

Esau came out first, red haired and ruddy, with Jacob holding onto his heel. Later, Esau sells his first born birthright to Jacob for a pottage when he comes in from the fields faint with hunger. Later, their mother Rebekah used deception to ensure Jacob’s ascension as leader of Israel by disguising him as Esau, the favoured son of Isaac, in order for her favoured son Jacob to receive his father’s blessing and thereby the covenant, as he lay dying.

And so, Esau went away and became the leader of 12 tribes of Edom, and Jacob went away and became the leader of 12 tribes of Israel. At war with each other for many a year until such time as they saw each other and embraced each other.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

This is a hundred times less than the bare bones of this biblical story.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

 Ishmael, firstborn son of Abraham was born to Hagar, handmaiden to Sarah. Isaac was the second son of Abraham born to Sarah. It was Isaac who became father to Jacob & Esau. While there was rivalry and deception between the 2 mothers, their sons and brothers, Ishmael and Isaac lived in harmony. Again, 1000 times less than the bare bones of this story.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

Why am I telling so much less than the skeleton of these stories?

There is a part of me that finds some comfort in the biblical narrative. Going back in order to go forward. Like looking in the rear view mirror. As in the Lilith myth of the Dark Feminine inter alia. As In the myth of Oedipus, Gilgamesh, Psyche and Amor, Demeter & Persephone and many others. Stories that tell of complex and conflicting relationships, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, conscious and unconscious agendas, betrayals, deceptions, displacement, dominance and subservience, identity crises, marginalisation and fear of ‘the other’, rejection and many more real ongoing psychological complexes and dynamics that are alive and active in today’s world and continue to play themselves out on the world stage.

I find some comfort in the story in that Jacob and Esau ultimately do find peace with each other, albeit after a very long while and were able to put their fractured history somewhat behind them. They embraced and wept with each other. And the earlier story of Abraham’s sons Ishmael & Isaac who became leaders of different nations, like Jacob & Esau, who lived in relative harmony in spite of their mother’s positioning for each of them.

The question of God’s covenant as to who would be the ‘light unto the nations’, is one that is still grappled with among all those with vested interests as well as those of Islamic and Israeli faith in pre-ordained fate and Palestinian faith in pre-ordained fate …

But the stories tell me of possible reconciliation, that God had or has a plan – I am leaning towards possibilities and potentialities that the divine order will be carried out and that nations can reconcile if they get beyond their tribal, cultural and historical influences –  and vested interests – and that peace is possible. The healing of past wounds CAN be healed even though the task of uncovering them requires courage. Which is why I am telling this story right now, even though I’m barely doing it justice. I’m telling it in my maybe naive desire to *trust* in peace, ultimately, between nations and peoples and our shared planet and I’m sharing it –

There are many links to google if you care to in order to get the fuller story. Many of them are pretty well researched and debated, and endlessly analysed by rabbinical scholars, theologians, historians, Jungian analysts, depth psychologists and the like.

 I remember some years ago being on radio about the murder of Abel by his brother Cain who were the sons of Adam & Eve. And God’s question to Abel – where is your brother? And Abel’s response: ”I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

 I’m preparing to leave for Europe tomorrow 8th June with my husband for just over 3 weeks. We’ll be on our own in Paris for a few days, then flying down to Lisbon where we’ll find Sintra and meet up with my husband’s sister and family who live in California. 4 of us are celebrating our June birthdays. After a week in Sintra, my husband & I leave the others behind and take off for Zurich for a few nights before boarding a boat which will take us up the Rhine.  We disembark a week later in Amsterdam and then fly home in early July.

It’s very cold up here on the highveld, though the skies are blue and the trees are green. In about 2 weeks it will be the solstices again, longest night here in South Africa, longest day in Europe. On the 20th we leave from Portugal for Switzerland … transitions everywhere. I’m hoping to see the Black Madonna in Einseideln, Zurich during the few days we’re there.

Thank you for reading! I hope this finds you well wherever you are, and may your centre continue to hold.

Boom or Bust

Boom or Bust ..

Much is happening at a lickety-split pace. Not just on the political front here, there and everywhere but also on my own home ground, i.e. in myself, in part because of epic sagas both near and far.

Our newly elected president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, has agreed to land expropriation without compensation. It will be implemented according to the Constitution, to return land to the previously dispossessed. He has stated – I heard him say it – that it is an original sin, the historical possession of land by ‘others’ enabling dispossession of original land dwellers. Obviously this is a highly complex and delicate matter. But it gave me pause when he said about original sin and therefore the urgency to address this wound and make compensation.

Dispossession of persons of ancestral land is a grave sin indeed – 

Many are very disturbed about this. There’s been a bit of a panicked knee-jerk reaction. I am hopeful that ALL come to the table (including those whining about it) as Mr. Ramaphosa has requested, to start finding workable solutions. Many feel extremely threatened. Sadly, there’s already been some grabbing of land, illegally, even by violent means by the thuggery that is part of our landscape. The state actually owns a high percentage of the land; many of our indigenous people own land and the ‘white’ landowner represents a small percentage by comparison ..

I sit between shaky faith and doubt.  We have a sound justice system, sound constitution, a free press, intelligent observers and political analysts and activists from all sides. We know that the world has its eye on us. That’s not an inflated comment. Those that matter and have influence in the wider world are watching us very keenly. But more significantly, we as South Africans know somewhere in our bones, that this is Boom or Bust time … 

We had a very serious listeria bacteria outbreak here that caused the deaths of approximately 180 people out of over 4000 cases of  reported cases. Its source was recently detected to a local food plant where the bacteria was found in cold meats, salamis, viennas, polony and such like – processed foods. This is a form of cheap protein and is eaten by the less economically advantaged, the poor. It has affected mainly small children and the elderly whose immunity system is compromised. I read somewhere that 4 people recently died from listeria infected melons in Australia ..  

Death has been a part of my particular landscape this last little while. A few funerals in the last two weeks. Hearing of people who I know, dying suddenly, in spite of being in good health. Not from listeria, from other causes.

This was my younger son’s recent Facebook post in a store. I don’t know what to call it – satire?  It appeared unexpectedly on a day that I was thinking this very same thing about life and death and the necessity for keeping death alive on one’s left shoulder. Soft cheeses are also implicated in this outbreak.

”I feel so alive.

No automatic alt text available.

https://www.facebook.com/thekiffness/posts/2034090616606562:0

Our health department was under fire, not only for this, but also for a tragedy that should never have happened i.e. the removal of psychiatric patients from their places of safety to other places where they were not adequately cared for, nor their families notified, and many died because of terrible management. It is a stain on our country. Heads rolled.

As I write, heads are rolling in many state departments. Ministers and minions are finally being called to account as the evidence of State Capture (read corruption) is being exposed for what it is. Billions lining the pockets of thieves in State Owned Enterprises.

The water crisis situation in Cape Town & surrounds is a 1000 times less dire than it was in January, when Day Zero was looming and overshadowing everything. People are more water-wise and plans are afoot to redress not only the incompetence by the Department of Water but also to effect desalination, already underway. There’s been a little recent rain in Cape Town! Dams are still dangerously low though –

The firing of Rex Tillerson US; Theresa May, UK prime minister firing Russian diplomats because of the nerve agent recently seriously disabling 2 Russians in Salisbury UK, and more recently, a police officer; and the firing of incompetent ministers here in SA, brings to mind being ‘in the line of fire’. Which, while it strictly means the bullet being fired and aimed at one, can be stretched into a metaphor. The dice are loaded, like guns are, there are triggers all over the world, we get triggered by personal and impersonal situations.

With thoughts of so many innocent and injured people dispossessed in ongoing war-torn countries, dispossession of people from their rightful lands historically, I can only keep a candle alight within …

“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.”
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Thank you for reading. Today is the Ides of March. Autumn (Fall) is approaching here in the southern hemisphere, Spring in the northern hemisphere. Betwixt and between – changing seasons – May the Force be with you all.

 

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