Saturday, September 28, 2013

When my left eye jumps...

In Buddy Guy's song from 1962, When My Left Eye Jumps, he sings about a condition to do with love and voodoo and his woman's black cat bone... an altogether more interesting situation than the one I'm dealing with.

When my left eye jumps, I know that I'm stressed, overworked and spending too much time in front of a computer screen. We came back from a week on the wild West Coast and I jumped straight into the 1930's, a story about a German woman pilot. Issues with budget and crew, too little time and too little money.

The good thing about exhaustion, however, is that it eventually overrides my insomnia, and I get some good sleep, interwoven with whopping dreams.

(Rain Dog)
The new puppies at work definitely brought this one on:

A thin man in a pale linen suit approached me as I was walking along. He doffed his hat and said to me:
"I'm a spin genie. I can grant you two wishes, but I get to choose them. Interested?"
"The first one is this: when you touch someone just below their chin, they fall into a deep sleep. Very handy for boring people who won't stop talking OR for when you are feeling threatened.
The second is this: you now speak DOG."

We walked on and I had a few conversations with dogs. Very enlightening - dogs are so clever!
But then I noticed that I was also able to converse in excellent German.
"What's up with that?", I asked the spin genie.
"Oh - I forgot to mention, it's a language package deal - DOG comes with German and ahhhhhh," here he consulted his iPhone for a second, "Urdu."
Brilliant! I couldn't believe my luck.

Pity I didn't get to talk to the puppies. I have many questions for them.

(Harold's mid-morning slump.)
(Rain Dog's mid-morning slump. They do everything together.)
And this morning at the market, I wondered what this poodle in dalmatian livery was trying to tell me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yellow is the colour.

I write this with fingers stained yellow from cutting fresh turmeric root for a curry. I think of Aida, who found some long ago and gave me a piece to plant. Her number is still on my phone and sometimes I wish I could just talk to her for a while.

It's nice to have her kitchen scale, her ice cream maker, the black taffeta skirt I remember her wearing with a saffron coloured shirt and chunky bangles. But better still are the things she said, her understated way of putting life together. That very important thing she taught me about big decisions: to take a step back, for there is no rush. You'll know, she said.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Keepsake #7.

During my recent move, I came across my grandmother's
autograph album, circa 1922.

Still wrapped in a yellowing, brittle piece of tissue paper.
Considered the "arty" one in the family, I have ended up with these fantastic bits of history.

The foxed pages are filled with sweet, old-fashioned messages and drawings and paintings by her friends...

Something about the drawing below caught our fancy - my sister and I copied it again and again.

This one we found hi-la-rious!

(behind the flap: now turn back again)

And, of course, the fine India Ink drawings of my grandfather. I still have his old dip pens and nibs, though I missed meeting him. It is one of my life's biggest regrets.

A million little things bind us together.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A life in boxes.

I have just completed an interesting little exercise... I jotted down all of the places I have lived and how many times I have moved house.

Twenty-one times.

Luckily, a large part of my work consists of moving stuff around, so I have learnt to do it fast. But it was rather challenging on Friday. Icy cold, intermittent rain, snow on Table Mountain.
Five times of the twenty-one was when I was still a child, living with my parents. Contrary to my mother's best intentions, I turned out to be a magpie. Moving my chattels is an epic production. My beloved swing gang were there to help me - Sam arrived with his trusty old truck and Julius and Roger laughed every time I warned them of a particularly heavy trunk or box. Being the ex wrestling champion of Cameroon, Roger lifts a washing machine with two fingers.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi
We finished the job in five hours. My worldly goods are now in storage and I have a few months to find a new place to live. This is what happens when your rent unexpectedly - shockingly, is to go up by fifty percent. This is what happens when you rent from friends, without ever signing a contract. It's also a city bowl problem, with rents sky-rocketing and people willing to pay anything to live there. I am not. So, for now, I am on the peninsula, with my batterie de cuisine, two bags of clothes and the one I love, in his snug house. A fire in the grate, birds gorging themselves on a peanut-butter-filled pine cone in the garden, key lime pie and coffee.

Driving over the mountain pass yesterday, all misty and sparkling, the waterfalls cascaded down the cliffs, ending in billows of foam. And I remembered something that I forgot to tell you about: the sound of thousands of bees when you stand on the edge of a canola field.

So loud the air vibrates.