Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday mornin' sidewalk

Tonight I played this song for Rob. He hadn't heard it before, which surprised me since I listened to it so much growing up. My dad was a huge fan of music, so on weekends when we visited he would play his favourite albums and educate us: Kris Kristofferson, Chris de Burgh, Neil Diamond. Sometimes the songs made me feel sad. Or it could just have been that we normally listened to them on a Sunday, and Sundays always felt a bit lonely. I had many complex emotions tied up in Sundays when I was growing up, and I've been thinking about them a lot because for some reason, Sunday Morning Coming Down - which I haven't heard in about 20 years - has been circling in an endless loop around my head for the last two months.

On a Sunday mornin' sidewalk,
Wishing Lord that I was stoned,
'Cos there's something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone,
And there's nothing short of dying,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
As the sleeping city sidewalks,
Sunday mornin' comin' down.

The song feels different now. Less sad, and more nostalgic. Memories of tinned condensed milk, and drive-in movies and summers spent next to the pool. Thanks to YouTube, I've taken a gentle walk down memory lane this evening. Listening to all those songs that made such an impression on me when I was a child. Including Spanish Train which gave me sleepless nights because I was so worried that God would lose the chess game just like he lost the poker game (that cheating Devil!) and my soul would end up in the wrong place. This is heavy stuff when you're ten or eleven years old.

Nowadays, my Sunday's are spent in hazy contentment. I love the quietness that is Sunday. The slow winding down of a week. Melancholy Sunday music has been replaced by the theme tune of Little Einstein's, or streaming a cheesy radio station. I love our small Sunday rituals. Rob watering the garden, with that summer-wet-soil smell drifting in at the windows. Late afternoon walks through the neighbourhood. Grocery cupboards and fridge freshly stocked for the week, and long goodnights, and stories and choosing clothes for school tomorrow. Cheese on toast with a cup of tea and a new book.


Some snaps from earlier this week. We had a 7am breakfast date on Tuesday with a bunch of people from Rob's work. Our hosts were lovely, and their garden was magical.

Wardrobe change. We had to work with whatever was dry-ish at the time.

Okay. I confess - I'm not much of a dog person. But this dog makes me think that I just hadn't met the one yet.

Dog photo bomb. But doesn't she just look like she belongs with us?

In a few days I will be celebrating a birthday. Maybe this is why I'm feeling so nostalgic. Mulling over all the stories, moments, decisions that make up my life so far - and contemplating my blank tomorrow's.

But today?

I'm happy it's Sunday. I'm happy it's spring.

I'm happy to be me.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Vanilla: a perspective

The Husband is creative and artistic. I am logical, and methodical. He's never been interested in vanilla. Hasn't really ever thought about it, in fact. For me, vanilla means being safe and blending in and avoiding awkward questions. He's all about living your unique life. Where I've always had a tendency to lean more towards the blending.

Right from the start, we were anything but vanilla.

Rob  decided to follow his dream of becoming an architect one year before we got married. While all my colleagues were marrying their working-for-five-years-already husbands, I had to confess that my husband was a full-time student. I worked and supported us for the next five years. Our dream was to travel. So while our peers bought lovely 3-bedroom starter homes, we bought a matchbox-sized townhouse with blue nylon carpets, and lived on pasta and bread. We backpacked through Europe, staying in youth hostels while our friends furnished their homes and got on with the business of being grown ups. We celebrated anniversaries in exotic locations. Zanzibar. Victoria Falls. We stayed in a dive camp in Mozambique where I got so sick with a stomach bug that I couldn't move for two days. We stayed in forest tree houses, and mountain chalets and off-the-beaten track cosy, romantic places. We took advantage of every holiday, every long weekend to explore. Our upstairs neighbours were inhumanely inconsiderate and our walls were a dirty-cream colour. Truly awful. But we were stockpiling memories, and were happy with our trade-off.

And then Rob graduated, got a job (vanilla at last!) and we were finally ready for a family. And while all our friends around us fell pregnant, we didn't. But we kept on hoping, and believing, and eventually it happened. And we grew up a bit and renovated the matchbox. We had our daughter, and she was beautiful. Miraculous.

We moved out of the matchbox into this place. A bigger, better, brighter place with a garden.   We went on a family holiday to Mauritius, where we spent a week in a dreamy bubble of happiness. We furnished our house. We bought a new car.

And I thought: we are totally rocking vanilla.


It's two years later. My daughter will be turning four in three months, and with this comes the constant barrage of questions about number two. When, how, why have you waited so long? Assumptions, and full-on body blow judgements that leave me reeling. Like the time a random person delivered the gem about what an injustice I'm doing my child, by not giving her a sibling. How we are doing her in. It went on but you get the picture.

I have learned so many things over the years of taking the road less travelled. Most importantly, that there really is no such thing as vanilla. Each family, couple, person is on a journey uniquely set apart. Grieving the loss of a dream is natural. Necessary. But on the other side of that lies the reality that obsessing about the things we don't have only steals our joy in the things we do have.

My non-vanilla journey has shaped who I am, refined me, beaten me down and helped me back up. Through it, I continue to learn acceptance. Peace. The joy of celebrating small things.

A Barbie manicure. For me, not her. She'd been dying to paint my nails all week.

Add a set of wings and a fairy skirt, and we're twirling our way along our chocolate-swirled, rainbow-sprinkled and sometimes rocky, road.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Capital Urban Market

We are getting our summer groove on with outdoor markets, plans for picnics, holiday anticipation  and long lazy days.

After recovering from the Spring Walk, we headed out last Sunday to the first showcasing of Capital Urban Market. Think hay bales covered in bright checked cloth, handmade local trinkets and treasures, and food and drink aplenty.  We spent a sunny morning browsing, drinking icy cooldrinks, and buying things we didn't really need because they were cute and cheap and there was just so much to choose from. By we, of course, I mean me.

In the interest of honesty, and fair play, I must point out that the photos I secretly wish I had taken of the market can be found here.

Dipped wooden spoons. Immy chose a pink one with a heart. It's her special one for when we bake.

Our fairy was pretty hot and tired by the end of it all. Frankly, so were we. So we ended up at our local pizza place with a great play area, cold cocktails and arguably the best pizzas in town.

To outdoor markets, and spring.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I love your slippers and your shins

This title has very little to do with this post. But last night Rob was reading Immy her bedtime story when she said I love you Daddy. And I love your shirt. She's going through this thing where she announces out of the blue that she loves you, followed by things you are wearing. Normally I just say thank you. But Rob came back with I love your slippers and your shins and your pants. Which I thought was quite cute, and very apt since I am having a small love affair with her tiny muscled calves and legs in general now that it's warm again.

Tonight's whispered gems when I tucked her in. I love you mama. And I love your hair. I love your shirt. We two are best friends.


This past Saturday, when her eyes flew open in the morning and she asked me for the THIRTIETH DAY IN A ROW: Is it my Spring Walk today? I could finally say yes. YES. It's your Spring Walk today. Spring Walk is her school fĂȘte, complete with face painting, and a green-and-white circus tent and a train and a cordoned off track for the kids to do the Big Walk.  For every lap walked, the kids are sponsored by friends, family, grannies and grandpas to raise money for the school. Rob most enthusiastically and excellently filled up the majority of her sponsorship sheet at his office. We filled in the rest.

Each class represented a country, with matching food. We were America, and our offering was hotdogs and hamburgers. Opposite us was this stall. Pincushion proteas, milk tart in tin cups and  t-shirts saying Bly Kalm en Bel Vir Ouma.

Yip. South Africa, all right.

We arrived early so we could have time to do all the fun things before the walk itself.

Face painting. She was desperate to be a fairy and was thrilled with this - because when you're 3 going on 4 , anything with glitter equals perfection.

Tombola. Broken fishing rod, guaranteed two fish.

Standard school fĂȘte fare. Burgers, candy floss, popcorn. Immy, one. Burger, zero.

Best friends. These two are inseparable.

Train ride. The driver did his very best to make tiny zigzags in the tractor in an attempt to make the ride last longer than just a trip around the duck pond. Can it be this much fun though?

At last it was time for the walk. All the kids milled around, and somehow, eventually, got going. I was waiting for Immy, when she came around the corner. Running. She RAN and RAN. On her own, passing people to the left and right. Single-minded. Until the 8th lap, when she ran straight out of the track towards my folks and announced 'I'm tired'. They carried her for a bit and she ran the rest of the way.

I watched her. Astonished. Because I am genetically incapable of running. And she is an athlete. She loped past, all strong legs and bare feet and energy and vitality.

Red-faced, sweaty, dusty. An ice lolly never tasted this good.

And after a quiet conversation with this gentleman, we took her home, carried her tired body inside, gave her a cool bath and put her to bed.

Athlete's need their rest, you know.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Spring whimsy

Tonight Immy and I had dinner with my parents. She showed us her latest ballet lesson moves. Skinny arms fluttering like birds, small hands curled around holding her 'baby' and my absolute best - Sleeping Flower. I'm going through one of those weeks when I stare into the miracle that is her, and wonder: where did the time go? When did she become tall and able to blow her nose and tell me that her grass burn has a fever when the warm bath water hits it for the first time?

It's spring at last. The sky is summer-blue and everywhere there are blooms and buds and brand new leaves. Reminders everywhere of life, and hope, and the promise of good things to come. SO NON-AUGUSTY.

Love spring.

We've been doing some spring sprucing up in our home. Small changes that make me feel happy.  Starting off with the delivery of the traditional spring bouquet at my office from The Husband that had me staggering through the corridors trying to find a vase big enough to put them into. Same problem when I got home, so I ended up being very creative and floristy and splitting the bouquet into four different vases. Truth.

We're celebrating...

Spring flowers.

Whimsical art. This print was my first Etsy order, customised for me and shipped from Australia. It makes me feel happy. Plus I'm going through a birdy obsession.

Supporting handmade. And South African. Small surprises delivered in interesting brown envelopes, with handwritten thank-you notes. I may start forcing cashiers to write thank-you notes on all my receipts. It's beautiful.

Potentially the cutest birdy bowl ever. Handmade, of course.

New York in a bag. We bought this at MoMA and it's been lying in the TV unit ever since. Until now. Teaching Immy all the different buildings, because hearing her pronounce Guggenheim is kind of fun. That's the round one, by the way.

Flowers in her room because she loves them. And these books.

When I was a child, these books were my favourite. They lived in a bookcase in the living room. Next to the set of blue encyclopaedias. My best friend lived next door, and when we had sleepovers, we would pick a book and read aloud to each other. Each taking turns with a page. Louis Pasteur, Helen Keller, Marie Curie. She recently visited from Australia, and when she saw these in Immy's bookshelf, her face lit up. We reminisced. 25 years of friendship.

I am not very sentimental about stuff. I don't keep old love letters, birthday cards, school report cards. I didn't even keep track of all of Immy's firsts. But oh! These BOOKS.

 When I looked them up on the web, I saw that they are now mostly out of print. Something precious, preserved. I have my mom to thank - she's kept them all these years for her grandchildren.

Another generation of memories, I hope.

Old versus new. A dresser refresh.

These blue blue eyes, and silky blond hair.  Especially loving the bronze eye shadow applied to eyebrow and bridge of nose.

My lovely.

I love how she expresses spring freedom. Lighter clothes, bare feet and riding through puddles on her bike. As for me, I'm soaking it in. The greens and blues and summer hues.

Come in, Spring, and stay a while. We're oh-so-happy to have you.

~ m