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Conversations on Aging & Becoming

Conversations – Aging & Becoming

Firstly, I’m really sorry that I had to abandon my previous post “What is Your Soul Asking of You” – I took it down a few hours after it went up. It is still too private for me to give you an explanation. I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m really sorry if you hit a dead link.

Susan Schwartz and I are answering written questions on ‘Aging & Becoming’ via this link – If you would like, during the course of today and this evening to pose a written question to this link, Susan & I will answer it. We go ‘live’ at 9.00 p.m. South Africa time, and 2 pm ET which means that we will answer written questions in a written form as and when and if they come up. But the link is open now if you would like to pose a question to us. We have a few hours yet in which to answer. I would so appreciate this. It is not a promotion of the book, merely to ask a question if you would like to.

I was scrolling though the photographs I have on my cell phone to find one I liked. This above one was of the sunrise in Plettenberg Bay in July last year.

A quote I came across today – very apt re the president we have here. As I write our Finance Minister is giving his annual Budget Speech in the Houses of Parliament. He’s steered our ship through very rocky waters in the past. I am hoping that he won’t be sidelined as the president is about to do a cabinet re-shuffle. He may be sidelined and we are concerned about the potential replacement …

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Thank you for reading.

Birthing and Black Swans

Birthing and Black Swans –

I had to leave art circle earlier than planned this last Saturday morning – I’d left my cell phone at home and was anxious about missing any call from my very ill friend. The very latest news of which is not good –

It was lovely to see the others – it’s a once a month meet, the last one of which in December I missed. Lovely to see works in progress, discuss, engage …

Anita du Toit recently spent some time in Namibia. She was sitting next to me. I spied her photos in an envelope on the table. Knowing that I had to leave sooner rather than later I asked her if I could see them privately.  Her photos were magical, of a magical land – trees, branches, barks, close ups of stones, insect trails – more –

Anita’s words (she emailed me the photo and brief):  ‘A close-up picture is of the bark of a lovely quiver tree just before sunset, when the light is at its most photogenic. Taken at the Quiver Tree Forest close to Keetmanshoop, Namibia’.

I said quietly to Anita (while we were also paying attention to the others) how very beautiful. I said it reminds me of a vagina. I had to leave soon after, so was not there when Anita was going to show her photos to the others …

Driving home, I was thinking about this photo and my response to it and thinking about the birthing pains of ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry‘ by Susan Schwartz and myself. And my own thoughts about the very recent release of it – and so on –

And I wondered what is being birthed in the world and all its severe concomitant labour pains with real anxiety its constant companion –

On Sunday morning my husband & I went on a guided bird walk, meeting at the Country Club at 6.00 a.m. It was lovely to be in nature and walking, taking some photographs – 

Janet Leifeldt who was in our group sent me this photograph at my request that she took of the black swan with a telephoto lens. 

 I’ve occasionally come across the term ‘black swan‘, usually referring to economic markets. I was especially interested in this given what is happening everywhere. All appears to be going along at a favourable and predictable pace when all of a sudden an entirely unpredictable and improbable event occurs that upsets the apple cart – hugely – and has enormous effects in many ways, geopolitically particularly. I couldn’t help but reflect on seeing the black swan – and wondering if we, world wide, are undergoing a ‘black swan‘ moment/s- and whether it will or could lead to a birthing of something else entirely –

The black swan in my cell phone photo is barely discernible – it’s right in the middle. But apt enough; some things are almost impossible to see.

I looked up ‘black swan’ to get more of an understanding of it. There are many links. Insufficient time to do a thorough search. *The importance of the metaphor lies in its analogy to the fragility of any system of thought. A set of conclusions is potentially undone once any of its fundamental postulates is disproved. In this case, the observation of a single black swan would be the undoing of the logic of any system of thought, as well as any reasoning that followed from that underlying logic. (italics mine)

*I excerpted this from Wikipedia. In this particular article mention is also made of the necessity of being robust enough to withstand the fall out.

I took this photo of the reflection of golden clouds on Sunday evening as the sun was setting. I thought of the necessity of honouring the dark, knowing that the dawn will arise, even though the dark is a-quiver with the unknown –

  •  Click HERE to see the book on Amazon. and to see the back cover which gives some more information.

    Thank you for reading. And thank you to Anita and Janet for the use of their photographs. 

    The lotus arises from the mud, it’s habitat until it begins to rise and bloom in all its beauty and grandeur. More than ever we need to be steadfast and firm in the winds that are blowing.

In the Line of Fire

In the Line of Fire

We stopped over for two nights at the Mountain Zebra National Park in the Karoo to break our return home from our summer holiday in Plettenberg Bay. 

It’s a place of great green beauty, mountains and plains – breathtakingly peaceful.

One morning, after we’d been on a game drive, we set off to hike/walk on one of the shorter trails. I was in front of my husband who after 10 minutes or so, called me to say ‘look at this!’  I walked back and there as plain as day was a snake skin.

Interesting to say the least – I’d never seen one, though it gave me a bit of a start to realise there could be snakes about. As we continued walking, I was thinking about the shedding of skin and how this is necessary in our everyday lives to shed skins or old attitudes when they no longer fit.

Not more than 5 minutes on, I stopped short. The picture is not clear in among the shade but it is right in the centre. If I hadn’t been watching my path a little more closely, I may have stepped on it.

This was enough for me already – at my protestations when it moved ever so slightly, we agreed to turn back. We stopped in at the little shop and were asked if we knew there were lions about. No, we didn’t, but we learned that had we gone just a little further on, we would have come across and disturbed two lionesses with 3 cubs. Who would have been very anxious re their offspring – and may have – I don’t know what they may have done, but we were enormously relieved we didn’t face that possibility –  

We returned home Friday late afternoon just before a glorious thunderstorm. I called my good friend on Saturday morning. We’d been in constant contact while we were away because of her illness, and learned on the phone that she is in the line of fire. I saw her on Saturday afternoon but we could not talk as there were other people there. Her particular form of cancer is not curable, only maintainable, and she’s had all the treatments. It has returned in full force and her time is limited. This she heard only a few days ago – I saw her again this morning – we had time on our own and time to talk about death …

The below photo (I hope it isn’t upside down or sideways on smart phones or tablets) is of a mountain zebra, hiding among the pretty thornbush, which made me think of the thorns in our lives in amongst the beauty of it all – 

I thought of the marches across the US and worldwide on Saturday and the steadfastness of women protesting against what needs protesting, walking peacefully, in solidarity, in the line of fire.

My own line of fire was in Plettenberg Bay where, with the help of my son Mike, Susan Schwartz’s and my book went live on Createspace as a printed copy. I’m still in the line of fire as I want the book to be an ebook as well – but so far, there are errors such as incorrect paragraph spacing and the pages and glyphs not being as they should. It is such an attractive book and the ebook must be as the printed book is – so this is getting the attention it requires …

I hope this photo doesn’t appear upside down on this post, but the book is available as a paperback on e.g. & This is the first public ‘announcement’ I’m making about it. When I’ve sussed how to do links I’ll post them.

In the meantime, I’m trying to settle back home while feeling pretty unsettled about all manner of things. I’m noticing the slightly shorter days and the earlier casting of shadows – and wonder about this year 2017 and what is in store for us all –

Pema Chodron’s quote is apposite –

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

Full Moon, Spring Tides

Full Moon, Spring Tides –

I haven’t put up a post for a long while now. I wondered a bit about this – part of me wanted to be more engaged but another part of me wondered if I had anything of any importance to say?

But, it is full moon today – last night it looked pretty full and magnificent. I saw it through the leaves of a tree at my son’s girlfriend’s home where we were for a delicious dinner. The skies were clouded over but the moon would peek through the clouds and branches every now and then. She was lovely –

This morning dawned with rain and coolth and it has been like this the whole day. There is something so soft and cooling about this kind of weather. It did preclude though, my husband and I swimming across the lagoon, onto the beach, and walking across and having a swim in the sea on Lookout Beach this morning.

I had my first swim yesterday – a bit unbelievable since we’ve been here in Plettenberg Bay since just before Christmas. It was wonderful being in the sea, diving into waves, getting knocked and bucketed  about and dumped, being aware of the strong current pulling in the opposite direction. It was not the place to float as I would have liked to have done, but this will still happen. I was with my husband and brother – for my brother, his first swim in the sea also.

We’ve had many walks here and there … the one day we braved the wind and walked on Keurbooms beach. My husband, brother and 2 sons ..

The holiday makers have left, the town is a lot quieter.

My sister who is currently at their holiday home in the Wilderness, about 1 hr 15 mins away from Plettenberg Bay, told me the story of her rescuing a cormorant tangled in fishing line on the rocks just the other day. She and her friend took the injured bird to the vet some way away, and when they got home they were phoned that the disentanglement was complete and that the bird was ready for fetching to be released. Which my sister did and carrying the distressed bird in a cage, returned to the scene with her son in tow and her grandchild aged 4. It sounded an extraordinary story as she related it to me, steep rocks to clamber over, her son carrying the small child on his shoulders, both of them barefoot – and before this story gets too long, the below photo is of the bird returned to the sea. Well done Sis, a great achievement.

And then on their return to clamber up the rocks again young Matthew the 4 year old shouted, A fossil a fossil! Come quickly! Under the cave – this is her photo. Well, believe it or not, it is a log!

This is a photo of the green drink I make most mornings – apple, spinach and water is its base – I add whatever to it, fresh ginger, cucumber, mint, a desert spoon or so of already prepared crushed seeds, including sunflower, sesame, chia, coconut flakes and other … (made by me, stored in airtight container) ..

Back to full moon and spring tides … I doubt we’ll see it tonight, it’s too cloudy. The waves that I can see from my balcony don’t look overly large, in fact the lagoon and the sea looks positively calm. Maybe it’ll change tomorrow. On that note of change, may I wish you calm and peace as this year gets underway. 

The top photo is taken from the garden of Beacon Isle where we attended my younger son’s gig last Sunday evening. The promontory is the Robberg in the near distance –

Solstice and Christmas Greetings

 Solstice & Christmas Greetings


Camus: In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer

Solstice (from the Latin, sol:sun; sistere:to stand still), a twice a year happening when the earth stands still for a nano-second and then begins its tilt in the opposite direction towards a new season. In the northern hemisphere where the night is the longest, there is a promise of warmth to come after the bitterness of cold. In the southern hemisphere and the longest day, we’re aware that the days will shorten and the nights will be imperceptibly longer.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. For the moment, there is balance, stillness, pause – and a holding of the opposites –

For many if not all of us, 2016 has been a particularly tumultuous year. Maybe we say this each year as it draws to a close and we look back to all that has happened not only within our own lives but at events around the world. I hardly need to mention them. Have we reached a tipping point? Are we tipping over?
May the December winter and summer solstice’s stillness be the precursor to the turning point for our world as we approach the new year. More than anything we need peace, compassion and goodwill on our planet. The deeply felt knots that keep us bound need untying.
We’re down in Plettenberg Bay for the festive season. Both our sons are here, Davey with Jüte his bride. My husband’s sister Jenny and her husband from San Francisco will be with us on Friday, en route from visiting friends in France. I’m preparing for this great celebration. I brought down from Johannesburg a poinsettia plant which was a gift. There’s something so Christmassy about them.
 Lastly, our Christmas card greetings to you. My son crafted it some years ago and we just update the year. This time we’ve obviously included Jüte, our beautiful daughter-in-law, a blessing in our lives. It comes to you with love.
Thank you all for your warmth and friendship. Long may it continue.

A Circle of Light

A Circle of Light


I took this photo on Tuesday late at night after a rain storm. I felt the wet grass beneath my bare feet, looked up at the obscured moon and stars sometimes glimpsed among the densely clouded sky and was struck how the little solar lamp formed a lighted circle on the ground around the plants.

I thought about the week still ahead, closing down the rooms, seeing a few friends locally before the upcoming travel down to Plettenberg Bay where we will be a full house over the festive season.

I thought about the politics here in South Africa and abroad, the devastation in Aleppo, Mother Nature and the ongoing attempts of her destruction. The troubling person who is the US president-elect. And wondered about the psychic infection of warring and the inherent dangers of such an infection. 

I thank heaven for the outbreaks of light that appear here and there on our planet. The water protectors protesting the Dakota pipeline, steadfast in their bravery to protect life-giving water. Our opposition parties here in South Africa who at last seem to making our people aware of the devastation our current government has caused. Not only opposition parties, those within the government who are making a stand against our president and his cronies. All over the world, those who stand up for what is right. Steadfast –

To me it seems as if there is an upsurging of another kind of power, one that is life-affirming, curious, intriguing, loving. It appears in dreams, where women dream of other women who offer succour, listening, arms opening to embrace the other. Where women enfold and embrace all that is and have a knowing that even among all that is dark and disturbing, there is a way towards greater wholeness and harmony. 

Rumi comes to mind at times like this –

‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about’.

– and from the Book of Hours (Rilke)

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.

I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know:

am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?”

May you always find a circle of light in the darkness – the menorah of the upcoming Hanukkah always glows brightly – as does the star in the East in Bethlehem –chanukkah2-1

and the moon – taken tonight –


Reconciliation and Reflections –

Reconciliation and Reflections –reflection-tree

There’s seldom time for reflecting – real hard inner and outer reflecting. At least for me it seems so –

But today is providing a space as I am mostly at home today. Much to do – have completed wrapping Christmas presents for my 3 friends who I’m meeting at a restaurant this evening for our Christmas dinner. We meet throughout the year when it is one of our birthdays. And for Christmas – it’s been going on for I don’t know how long. 15 years? Always for me, such a special time, spent so well – interludes throughout the year when we share each other with each other, and exchange gifts –

Wrapping presents, not a fast task for me. Choosing the paper from beautiful wrapping paper that I’ve kept for just such occasions – recycling at the same time – remembering sometimes where that lovely paper came from, a present to me wrapped in it, and from whom. And now for my three women friends, items carefully chosen by me, lovingly –

Still to complete a present to each of them – a pretty little notebook. I started on this a day or so ago, writing in a quote or 3, many from Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. *

One such quote is from Simone Weil : Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity ~

I’ve wrapped presents for the girls at the rooms – we have our Christmas lunch next week Thursday at a fancy restaurant. The rooms will close down that day after my husband has attended to his patients in the morning. The next day, 16th December, is a public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation* in South Africa held annually on16 December since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Reconcile – a pretty powerful word.

                    From The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary On Historical Principles Vol 2:-                                      Reconcile  1.1. trans. To bring (a person) again into friendly relations to or with (oneself or another) after an estrangement.

There was much else also, under Reconciliation and Reconciliatory – quite easy for me to get diverted and indulge in origins and historical quotations of it and what it meant from times past. And to wonder about reconciliation in the current times in which we are living. Not just here in South Africa, but world-wide. I especially like that the definition includes ‘…friendly relations ... with (oneself …) after an estrangement.

It’s almost too big for me to think and reflect about – it almost takes me down the rabbit hole – but somehow I do think of the urgency of reconciliation, within and without. Within, as in our own selves, re-conciling all that needs re-conciling. Giving and paying attention, the rarest and purest form of generosity. Paying attention to that which has been neglected, and needs attention. Doing our own inner work hard though that be. Finding the treasure within, though the road be rocky. Not littering, or wasting water, being kind and considerate, standing in protest and solidarity with deserving causes  e.g. Standing Rock about the DAPL – The Dakota Pipe Line, not buying groceries and food stuffs that contain palm oil (hard one that one, you really have to look), or other items whose origins may be dubious (e.g. sweat shops or suspicious ingredients). Buying locally supporting smaller businesses. I love to know that I’m making a protest in my own small way. I’m all for lawful civil disobedience –

Being a little more thoughtful in word and deed, a little more considerate, a little more loving, a little more aware – these are my tasks. Perhaps also to myself – bringing the micro into the macro with a tiny grain of consciousness, knowing always that the shadow is not far behind. Hoping and praying that reconciliation on a macro level is actually possible –

My husband & I spent 5 days down in Plettenberg Bay recently. We thought we’d get a tiny bit organised before we go there for the festive season around the 19th or so. Well, we did a bit, the pantry has some tins of tuna, three bean salad and beetroot salad and some things in the freezer.

On the evening before we flew down, I cut these roses from my garden with the intention of taking them down to Plett. I photographed them also and they spent a night on the dining room table. Wate-rly wrapped the next day, the only item in my small back pack to go on the plane to place in our Plett home. I gave them to Pat who works at the rooms who gave us a lift to the Gautrain (our speed train that gets us speedily to the airport) –


My husband found this butterfly wing in our driveway at our Plett home. I still have it in a notebook somewhere.


On the Keurbooms beach there was this strange something – we suspect the skin of a jellyfish? There were quite a few swimming in the sea – it was rather lovely –


I love this image – it comes from The Spectator, many copies of which I have offloaded from my friend Lyndy. The image is used for Diary. Various columnists contribute to it.

May all be well –  thank you for reading. Another quote from our book –             

Indira Gandhi: You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose 

*our book: ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’ in process. Soon to be published I hope.


Start Close In – David Whyte

Start Close In


A strange day today – I’d hoped for Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry ~’ to be live on today or tomorrow. Or the next day – but that’s not going to happen. It’ll happen in a while – 

I was doing some catch-up at my desk earlier this afternoon, after a busy morning out and about. I was at sixes and sevens – much to attend to at my desk, some tasks achieved, diary somewhat updated, much still to do –

There are a couple of threads on FB that I follow, usually requiring more from me than I am able to give, or respond to adequately, or as I would like. These are psychological posts on FB. I came upon this one just now – it was from Parker Palmer, a columnist for ‘On Being’ and at the end of his post, he included David Whyte’s poem –

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first


close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

Start with

the ground

you know,

the pale ground

beneath your feet,

your own

way of starting

the conversation.

Start with your own


give up on other

people’s questions,

don’t let them

smother something


To find

another’s voice


your own voice,

wait until

that voice

becomes a

private ear


to another.

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow

someone else’s

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in,

don’t mistake

that other

for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

 My love to you all, may your Thanksgiving be happy and joyous ~ may there be peace and quiet amidst it all ~ and take the step also that you do want to take ~

Full moon energies

Full Moon


I took the photo last night. The moon will be full tonight …

I had not planned it but this morning saw me tidying, organising my bathroom cupboards, taking stuff out of bedroom to my study (still to be sorted), colouring my hair, a facial scrub and baobab oil on my face right now as I go about tasks.

My American friend who lives in Cape Town phoned this morning – she is arriving tomorrow in Johannesburg to see her eye surgeon and will overnight here at my home. She recently returned from the US after attending the funeral of her older sister.

She is in deep pain at the outcome of POTUS. She is politically savvy and right now, aghast and fearful of today’s news of the election of Trump’s Chief of Staff. Plus Trump repealing the 2009 interdict (though I think it was never interdicted?) which kept bank and private money separated after the ‘lesson’ of the crash of 2008..

We are very aware of the heart-felt pain of Americans who are exceedingly alarmed at the election of Donald Trump. I have several friends in the States both personal and through the Internet whose views I deeply respect and I can feel their deep concern.

The reverberations are huge. Everywhere and every one in the world has reason to be exceedingly alarmed. The thought of nationalism on the rise is extremely worrying. So many, many concerns ….

As I was going about my tasks this morning I found myself thinking about these extraordinary times in which we are living. I’ve read much on social media, some very excellent posts on FB for example, clear analyses facing the dangers, thoughtful blog posts, quotes by the Dalai Lama, Buddha and so on reminding us of the inner light. I follow a few Jungian FB threads which are always interesting. A man who lives in Sweden for example recently had a dream where the underground systems of Stockholm were crumbling and out of the morass exited a woman dressed in white charging away from the mess. He wondered what it meant. It’s a powerful dream in my view.

Susan Schwartz writes in our soon to be published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry ~’ of a woman who dreamed that she was in a nuclear explosion and who could she turn to – there was no-one. Or was there  –

Many posts are memes if that’s the right word, short, profound, exhorting kindness, more so than ever. Some write about the need for the shadow to be exposed and at least things are clearer though no less troubling. I remember hearing a political analyst on TV saying that in this last 100 year span, only once before has the ruling party in the US been elected to a third term.  That gave me cause for pause – and made me wonder about cycles and the crying need for change –

Many FB posts write of their shock and hurt and deep deep pain.

Susan and I write in our book about the moon in a chapter called ‘Moon, Mourning & Mystery’. What force other than the moon who pulls the oceans from shore to shore. The moon has a direct effect on women’s monthly bleeding when a group is in synch. Plantings are done by the moon – and much more. Mourning – such a time right now. Mystery – will we ever know –  what is next?

The full moon is tonight – may we pay attention to this occasion at this time.

Her energies are feminine ones. We can call on her. We can look up at her beauty tonight. We can look up at her while looking deep down into our hearts, and send a message or a prayer or an invocation to her that we need her healing energies. We know that she is a guide – she has guided ancient travellers for aeons as have the stars ..

I will consciously ask her for peace and patience, calm and still, to be a balm to all in this time of upheaval. I will ask her to bear with us in our pain and woundedness at least for a while. I will ask her for her feminine energies to shine brightly on the masculine energies so that unification can happen. I will ask that she shine benignly on our planet in crisis on so many levels.


Simone Weil: ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’. 

img_1907-3Photo taken at 6.15 this evening after major afternoon rainstorm. ..

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis


I always get excited when I see a praying mantis. This one landed on my son Mike’s arm last evening (he was here overnight en route this morning to Mauritius for a working 2 weeks) and he transferred it to a geranium leaf. It was tiny … less than 1/2 inch maybe 4 cm. A baby …

Why do I get excited? Well, it is a symbol of much. The praying mantis was believed by the African Bushmen to be a symbol of God. They believed it was a manifestation of God, and when they saw one, they tried to discern its message. The word ‘mantis’ is a Greek word meaning ‘prophet’ and is a reference to mystical or spiritual powers.

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when our lives and the world seem chaotic, so much so we can no longer hear the still, small voice within us because of the outer noise that surrounds us.

We’ve been living on a knife’s edge here in South Africa. We expected our Finance Minister Mr. Pravin Gordhan along with two colleagues to appear in the High Court tomorrow on fraud charges.  There were plans to get myself and a few friends off to Pretoria tomorrow to take part in the protests. The support for the Minister is very strong from all quarters, the public, government ministers, business, civil society – Min. Gordhan has commandeered us through some very tricky waters. The head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Adv. Shaun Abrahams has been after Mr Gordhan for a long while. Yesterday, at a press conference, Abrahams dropped charges against Mr Gordhan and his two co-accused and Abrahams has egg on his face. Now there are calls for Abrahams to fall on his sword, and he and his pathetic minions to disappear off the face of the earth.

We’re awaiting the release of the Public Protector’s report in which it is purported that our president has allowed our government to be captured by the Gupta Family (like the mafiosa), for nefarious reasons. There is every reason to believe so. Nuclear deal with the Russians for several billion rands, dollars, whatever currency? When we have the best wind and solar resources? And not that much money to spend on yet more state deals when for example our national air carrier is running into a few billion rands debt for the last few years running. Pres. Zuma and his cohorts are doing their best to not have it released. We’re undergoing our own Watergate – there are calls to have the president impeached.


After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace. A reminder of the beauty of nature – its calm and storm – its unexpectedness –

I once had one on my desk. I’ve seen one once or twice on a plant just outside my study. I once saw one on the wall behind me when I was lounging outside on the deck at a game lodge.Their appearances are rare. When I see a lady bird, I also feel something within. A reminder of the beauty of nature and to bring that stilness within amidst the turmoil of the world.

It rained a bit last evening. And now as I write, it is raining. It is so much needed. It has cooled things down by a degree or two. We need the skies to fall and to cleanse this land we call home, to wash away the dust and grime that clings to us in so many ways.

The praying mantis gives me hope. 

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

 From whence arrived the praying man

From outer space, or lost Atlantis?

I glimpse the grim, green metal mug

That masks this pseudo-saintly bug,

Orthopterous, also carnivorous,

And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

— Ogden Nash




We spent 3 nights 4 days very recently at a privately owned non-commercial game farm in the eastern part of our country (a 6 hour drive) at the invitation of a girlfriend who turned 70 the other day. It borders on the Kruger National Park and fancy lodges like Londolozi & Mala Mala, 

We’ve been many times over the years at the family’s kind invitation, from when my boys were small …

Although the drought is severe, the animals looked well and strong. I took photos and even a video with my cell phone. This was on our first landrover drive, in the coolth of the evening –elle_alicecot

On our 2nd evening, I took this photo of the sunset out on the plains – the clouds seemed to be floating –



I spent 10 years travelling between Johannesburg and The Midlands, Natal, to the boarding school my boys attended. A 41/2 drive there and same back. Most times on my own, sometimes with my husband. Beautiful countryside, and those mountains! As my elder son left, so my younger one began high school the following year.

Close to the school is a spa – in my younger son’s last year, about 12 years ago, I thought it was about time to treat myself. 10 years and never going? So I did. Checked in on a Wednesday out on Friday and the weekend to attend son’s sporting activities at the school and to take him out on a one night ‘leave’ i.e. the Sat night after sports.

I was on my own at the spa, knew no-one, didn’t really strike up conversations, read a lot, wrote a lot, ate half a banana for breakfast, a carrot for lunch, a piece of cucumber, half an avocado for supper, maybe with a lettuce leaf, drank water or herbal tea* (I brought my own coffee to make in my private room), did a bit of exercise – a walk or two in the mists, a group meditation I recall, I don’t remember if I had a beauty treatment, I don’t think so but maybe I had a reflexology treatment or a 20 min shoulder massage if it was on offer and included in the price.

I saw the advertisement within the gilded chambers for the flotation tank … I was intrigued. It was not included in the cost. It was fairly costly to spend an hour in total darkness, on one’s own, with the lid closed over one – naked as the day being born

I’m going to have to find what I wrote about it – it’s in one of my ridiculously many notebooks and journals. It would take a great search, but I will when time permits.

If I cast my mind back, it was a profound experience. I think I was skeptical at the beginning – nothing happened. 

All I remember now is a feeling of timelessness and weightlessness, I can’t even say suspended – just weightless. In that weightless state thoughts passed my mind – I remember becoming more and more light, perhaps a sense of suspension, and floating – while traversing – at peace –

I’ll have to find my journal writing – I’m intriguing myself –

As I write the clouds are gathering. I looked out while drafting this post earlier and took the picture below from just outside my study. Five seconds later the heart wasn’t there …

heart_in_cloudsWe’ve had good and much needed rains the last few days. A blessing.

All is still in turmoil – ‘still in turmoil’, a contradiction if ever i heard one but maybe it’s a paradox. Stillness in turmoil. May we all find that quiet place in amongst it all – 

Thank you for listening and may the Force be with us all

*not as severe as I say but almost

Susan Scott on video ‘Aging & Becoming’

Video – ‘Aging & Becoming’

It is 2.10 minutes long. I talk about Susan Schwartz’s and my collaboration on our book ‘Aging & Becoming’. It went up on youtube yesterday and onto my Face Book author page. So far – this is as far as I’ve got in ‘going public’. I am in the throes of putting out enquiries to potential traditional publishers although it will be available sooner as an ebook.

My thanks to son Mike in Plettenberg Bay and my sister Debora Irish in Cape Town for their patience in making this video possible. (I’m unsure of the ‘gleam’ in one eye).

Thank you for listening!

We continue to live on the knife-edge here in South Africa. Protests and violence everywhere by university students: #feesmustfall,  #futuremustfall, #sciencemustfall, #Zuma (our president)must fall –

I’d be happy for a ‘rain must fall’ campaign – or a rain dance – anything to encourage the rain to fall. I’ve watered my little garden in the light of the moon over the last few nights. We have water restrictions – no watering between 6.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. But my garden seems to be doing ok though definitely thirsty. I have put a whole lot of compost around the plants in the garden and potting soil into the pots. This helps retain the moisture of tap or rain water.

*Rilke’s poem:

All of us are falling. See this hand now fall.

And now see the others; it is part of us all.

And still there is one who in his hands gently

holds this falling endlessly.

So, in these troubled times, may we all find our centre, our holding place, a place of calm amidst the storm.

*In Flores, trans and ed., Anthology of German Poetry, p.390

this and that and everything –

‘I am not an optimist. I am a prisoner of hope’.

Words said by our (ex) Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu –

quoted by a journalist in a recent Daily Maverick opinion piece.


All of this and that and everything feels extreme. I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post on e.g. ‘Clash of Civilisations’ or ‘On the Edge’ or some such, because it does feel to me that the container is no longer there, no firm support to catch our falling star – no container anymore  – somehow, the centre seems not to be holding. And it is anxious making as everything seems to be extra hyped up. And destruction is the name of the game. Here in South Africa, universities are being torched and set alight, buses too, police vehicles turned over and torched, tear gas, bullets, 1000’s of students country-wide protesting about the #feesmustfall campaign and disallowing student attendance and in last few hours a new campaign ‘thefuturemustfall’. In the midst of this, our Minister of Finance who has kept us so far from being downgraded to junk status, has to appear early next month in court on charges. This is trumped up – and a political nasty –

Is this level of destruction part of a necessary process? This is what makes me ponder – and reminds me of a question I asked a Jungian analyst a long time ago – do we have to put our hand in the frying pan to know we will be burned? To which he said Yes.

But also, on an inner level – Joseph Rubin’s death this last Monday, a sudden shock to me – and his daughter Marilyn letting me know by email yesterday and my putting up a post on his death and so many of you responding to her and for all of us who are saddened.

And more on an inner level – my dear friend Lyndy, my oldest friend (though she’s a year younger than I), who I saw in hospital before I left to go away at the end of September. So lovely to see her then – her son had come from the US to be with his Mum. I tried from yesterday to contact her, the morning after the previous night’s flight … to see her, to say I’m back, at your command .. I was getting fairly anxious about no response from her. Until today when her son Richard called me. I was amazed. I thought he was back in the US. He got here last Sunday. He’s now back for the long haul – She has carcinomas which have returned. She is gravely ill …  I will have to digest this and acknowledge this, her illness … he has asked me to be strong when I see her – I feel wretched –

And my Jane my housekeeper – in tears midday because one of the gardeners had screamed and shouted and ranted at her. We talked when she was more composed and ready to talk. And then later she said she and one of the other gardeners had had a talk about the ranting gardener, and that there was consensus that he was not well, he looked not well also, and to encourage him to have an Aids test – which, if he has it, may be part cause of his unwarranted, uncharacteristic outburst.

My husband was returning last night from an Old Boys dinner downtown at a swish restaurant, stopped at a red traffic light, his friend was driving, and 5 men jumped out of the shadows and they thought they were window washers – they weren’t – they were attackers, who tried to smash the windows – a man pointed a gun at my husband’s friend the driver, and another man at my husband in the passenger seat –

they shot the lights knocking aside one or two

Everything feels on tenterhooks – is there reason to think about WW3 being unleashed? Am I being overly morbid? In a way I see what is happening all over the world as the manifestation of that which has been repressed for a long time, bubbling up to the fore. We see mysogyny upfront, the destruction by weapons on people and places, corruption in high places, political battles for the highest stakes and to Hell with the consequences, the rise of extreme rightwing parties – i.e. nationalism, the desecration of Mother Nature, all of this is upfront, we cannot fail to see it. …

Is anarchy being loosed upon the world? Are we slouching towards Bethlehem?

Desmond Tutu’s words again:

I am not an optimist. I am a prisoner of hope.

The picture at the top – I found this when I was in Botswana in April this year. I wanted to lay it on my brother’s burial place in Maun in his garden. But I couldn’t find it at the time I was at his family home. I placed a flower instead. But I did find it at a later stage – it was so beautiful and really quite extraordinary to the touch. Velvety .. 

This is the underside of it –


I took it with me on my travels thinking maybe to put it into the sea at the end of the jetty in Gordon’s Bay where we used to live as teenagers for a while. Where my sister and I tossed our parents’ ashes so many years ago on 2 different occasions. This past Monday, the day of my return ex Cape Town where I was for few days, we motored out to Gordon’s Bay, a good 3/4 hour from where my sister lives. We walked the jetty to the end and said our greetings to our parents and wished them well, and said a prayer and I threw this little stone onto the rocks in the sea .. it was about as big or small as when you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger …

The photo below is of my sister ahead of me. You can see the end of the jetty –  jetty_-g-bayThank you for listening – may peace prevail wherever we are –

Joseph Rubin –

Joseph Rubin – may his soul rest in peace –


I came home last night, and this afternoon I received a letter from Marilyn Rubin, daughter of Joseph Rubin. Those of you who read my blog will have noticed Joseph’s comments on my blog, always supportive and encouraging. I’m unsure how long he’s been a follower of my blog, at a guess about 3 years. I also know that he popped over to others’ blog and followed them too and made supportive comments. I had personal emails from him too, and loved to hear about Anita his wife, his daughters, the cat that came to visit, the squirrels, the changing seasons …

This is Marilyn’s letter –

 Sunday morning, my father was having difficulty breathing, and was brought to the hospital. The ambulance took a long time to come, and by the time they arrived at his house, he had stopped breathing and had little or no pulse. They were able to resuscitate him, and he remained in the hospital until this morning, about 6:40 AM Detroit time, when he passed away.

 I am about to go to the hospital to console my mother, and be with the rest of my family. But first, I wanted to write to you. I feel there was a very special section of his life that he shared with you, and the writers community associated with your blog and other related blogs. So I feel that you are as close to him as family. You all were very special to him.

 The writers community that you and he were part of was very important to him. He constantly spoke of how much he admired your talent. But it was more than that – I think there was a special connection that he felt in this community. A funny thing is that I used to exclaim that sometimes, I would write a comment on your blog, and you would then find a way to repeat it, rephrased in a way that better expressed what I was trying to say. So, as I feel my words are not adequate here to express how much you and the writers community added to his life, and therefore mine, I know you will find a way.

 Please also pass on this news to other readers and posters on your blog, as you see fit.

Dear Joseph Rubin – may your dear soul rest in peace. Your life was well lived. We mourn the deep loss. To the family, a long life. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May G.d grant you comfort and peace in this sorrowful time.

I’m reminded of Oscar Wilde’s words ‘Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground’.


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