Sunday, December 21, 2014

While we were out.

The past few weeks have been relentless. Long hours and constant demands, with every day bringing it's particular problems. Coming home - sometimes in the dark, to a moody valley.

Noticing that others had visited, I watered when I could.

Every week six days of sweating and swearing and heavy lifting.
Trucks full of furniture, smoke and mirrors.
Schools, churches, bars and hospitals.

We had very little time to ourselves.
A quick ginger gimlet, the stroke of a paw, trying to keep up with a glut of tomatoes - sharing them with the starlings. Glimpses of lives very different from mine.

I had to remind myself, sometimes, that I am very lucky.

While we were out, a beet grew and grew and grew.

A fairy tale beet, a show bull of a beet weighing in at 940 grams.
Head and shoulders pushing out of the soil.

Once slaughtered, yielding a slice of moreish cake.
The beetroot is there in every bite, dark and earthy.
Cinnamon and poppy seed.

It's good to be home.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bergamot and heartwood.

This is the work that allows me to take time off in the Winter. It is my livelihood and I should be thankful. And of course I am... but sometimes I become resentful. All of a sudden I am not only responsible for myself, but for a team of six. The emotions, the particular problems, the language barriers. It's more depleting than any physical work, of which there is a fair share as well.

In the garden the fennel has grown taller than me. In the evenings I water and I long to spend more time there. The turmeric is shooting up by a foot a week. I brush against the bergamot bush and think of Aida. People are wonderful, and terrible.
Mostly a bit of both.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

There have been cats.

There have been cats in my life that I have loved more than humans.
Thinking of Estorbo, and the woman and the man.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This little pig went to market.

If you were to go back to the beginning of this blog, some five years back, you'd see that it was originally a record of my finds at the Milnerton boot sale. And then you would see that life stepped in, not shortly after.

But I still go to the market whenever I can and I still find things there that I love.
This morning Bev had a pair of Victorian wick trimming scissors for my growing collection of used tools. Ernest phoned me last week to say that he had found some wooden cotton reels for me. They have become a passion - I must have close to two hundred by now.

Last night's dream about Tuareg necklaces came back to me with a shiver as I held the one above. When I told Bev she said: Oh Darling no - then you must have it. She refused to let me pay.
I believe in these things you know...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Singing in the dark.

I've been reading - with delight and a sore heart, Marguerite Poland's Taken Captive by Birds. The people in Exclusive Books who have packed it next to the coffee table books about lions and cheetahs haven't the foggiest idea.

This writing strikes my heart like a gong. Is it an African affliction? I find it in the writing of my friend Marie, in faraway New York. In the books of my friend Diane, just down the road.
(Don't let's go to the dogs tonight.)

Singular miseries. Nobody knows the trouble I have seen...
But we recognise each other and there is comfort in that.
Over oceans and through windows.
Woman, I love you. This wry laughter we share.

I can't say it better than Wednesday Addams: "I'll stop wearing black when they invent a darker colour."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jungle style.

Having been an apartment dweller for many years, few things give me more pleasure than walking out the back door and picking an enamel bowl full of lettuce for the evening's salad. Knowing that there will be more tomorrow.

I love the way the vegetable garden is transforming itself - I allow plants to go to seed and the seedlings that grow from them are better than the mother plants. Strong, bushy coriander and vigorous mint. There are no neat rows in this place. A robust tomato plant has appeared in a sunny spot next to the compost maker - sheltered by a rocky wall. I have a feeling it's from a wrinkled, discarded salad tomato from Woolworths - perhaps Bella. The fruits are perfect, clusters and clusters of them - though they have yet to reveal their colour.

The giant lacy flower of a carrot - who would have thought?

Spring onions bloom.

The last of the boer bone. As I shelled the previous lot, I thought they were too much trouble. But then I made Yotam Ottolenghi's pan-fried meatballs with lemon and broad beans.
They will grow again...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This is how it goes.

You start with a circle, like so:

Every day, more stalks of grass. Just weave 'em in.

Tinker's cuss. There's still a hole on the other side...

But five or six days later - left over right, right over left and Bob's your uncle.

And Nelly's your aunt.

So you make a big ruckus...

Call that broad over.

and if she doesn't like it... 
 You start with a circle.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cherry Blossom Days.

I've spent a birthday in Hamburg, with Hümmel figurines around my breakfast plate. I've spent a birthday in San Gimignano, where I had pistachio gelato in the rain.

I am a spring baby, and it just felt wrong.

So last week we ambled off to Ceres and overnighted in a
three-little-bears cottage on a cherry farm.

The doorways are like tiny keyholes and to avoid the champagne cork effect, a tall man had to enter sideways in a bit of a crouch.

Did I mention that it was cold?
Heater, electric blankets and a roaring fire.
Oxtail and polenta for supper.

We awoke side by side, tucked into our little bear beds. Presents to unwrap, cherry blossoms and the calls of the coots on the lake. The nearest mountain was covered in snow.

Every time I went out - bejacketed/gloved/hatted, I vowed to bring long johns next time. The weaver nests caught my eye - such beautifully woven things they are. I tried to catch the yellow birds in flight, but my fingertips grew numb.

On the road there and back the mountainsides were covered in lichens so thick you could barely see the rock. Water gushes and trickles. 

The nitidas are covered in huge waxen flowers, soos bruide...
Fields of long creamy throated arum lilies.
Fields of yellow, fields of purple.
Fields of soft velvety green.

And a lost aquatic traveller, helped across the road...