Thursday, July 29, 2010

Brides and other women

In Twee Riviere there lives a young woman who has a deep desire to create beauty. I have only known her for a year, but in that time she has been responsible for many displays and random and organized acts of delicate and delightful beauty.
To illustrate:

  • towering chocolate cakes and muffins with her tell tale signature decorations of fresh flowers, ribbons and bows
  • Candlelit dances (only glimpsed secretly through a sash window from the outside, whilst skulking in a dark, windswept garden!) with rafters trailing strings of beads and little flashing mirrors, held for all the young adults of the area
  • Dance shows done by the little ones she taught, leading them through a beautiful world of fantasy dresses, and ribbons and bare fairy feet and pretty hair with bows
  • Tea parties all in white, with spread tablecloths under apple trees , serving herbal teas and cupcakes, and all the ladies appearing like white sprites in the orchard
  • herself quite dazzling in a purple embroidered evening gown of her own creation, as if set for a ball, a princess

We were invited to attend her latest special function. She was not alone in this, it being a joint venture with her bosom friend from the Kammanassie.
It was a modeling show and we arrived to seats set outside, under arches created from leaning Amish style scaffolding against the walls of the old stone house. These were, in turn, draped with lengths of flimsy white muslin. Orange carpets were laid down to become the catwalk. It was icy cold, snow topped the surrounding mountains and black clouds scuttled overhead. It was not raining though, and so we all settled down. Many folk from the surrounding farms, workers I mean, ladies only, had been invited.
The show commenced. It had a bridal theme. Young women in bridal outfits, ( a mothers dress, an aunts...) adapted, shortened. All had a sixties sort of theme, featuring little girls in frocks, hair neatly plaited, coronets of flowers, ribbons and leaves. Smiles flashed on little girls faces, showing no front teeth, white shoes too big on little brown feet - all charming.
All the gorgeous girls we know so well now had their moment, very Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffanys ( did they know that?), with gloves and cinched waists, elegance, elegance all.

I sat huddled, yes, cold but enchanted. I thought of how often women are not held in high esteem. I thought how unhappily women are often reduced to nothing by religion, alcoholism or chauvinism which is deeply rooted in belief systems.

Lately I have been doing some reading, mostly the Epistles, where much is said of that other bride. Us. And that first bride, Eve, and how much both were loved, are loved. How they, those brides, were taken out, as it were, first from that first Adam, and then from that second and final Adam.
How adored, how totally adored those brides were, are. So much so that One would die for her.

What romantic dreams all girls have, to be so adored, to be so dressed, veiled, beautiful, to be revealed only for that special man, that beloved one.
My heart ached there, on that icy porch, because I really think all girls are created to be adored. My prayers are only that they all will be - really, really loved one day by their husbands.

Oh to love and be loved!
What a beautiful show it was, created out of nothing.
And for afters, of cause, there were plates of the most pretty cupcakes, a gooey, yummy, scrummy pile of a sticky, cherries and cream pavlova, dainty flower biscuits with silver ball centers and cups of warm tea. Thank you girls.

Hannah and Tess - I salute you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Disillusionment and other D words

destroy dislike demon disinterest devil death die defeat drivel dentist distaste disease disharmony divorce drugs drunk dislike discontent dump damned dank debt decadent decay deceive decompose decrepit deface defeat deform defunct delude demean demented deny depression depraved deride desperate detest devious diet diarrhea dirty dirge disgrace discourage discriminate disfigure disgruntled distrust doldrums doubt drama drastic

Someone told me the other day that Mother Theresa was, apparently, disillusioned.
I wondered about that.
Good works can be dangerous.

I feel disillusioned.
And I only tried to do a few good works.
Nothing like Mother Theresa.
Someone else said she was bitter.
I feel bitter too.

But maybe its just End of World Cup Blues. Or Beginning of School Blues.
Or working in the Koshuis Blues.

I just read a book called Blue like Jazz.
I feel Blue.
I like Jazz.
The book is about being a Christian. Donald Miller says some great real true things about it all.
I had a good laugh.
Which is just as well because there is not much to laugh about in the Land of the D words.
Which is Life in the Langkloof for us, right now.

We came because we had a Dream To Live Off the Land.
It has become a Nightmare.
To succeed you need lots of Money.
Or lots of Children.
Or be very Young.
Or have lots of Energy...

I am created, it would seem, to be Relentlessly Cheerful.
Apart from the odd Debilitating Depression.
Deliverance comes through understanding that He is in us all through it all -
the Circumstances and Situations of this Rock and Rollercoaster Ride .

I used to put in orders to God.
Mostly about changing things.
I thought God was a Make Over Artist.
Or a Magician performing Magic tricks.
I was into Miracles.
I used the word Must - a lot.
Things have changed.

Now I am a Chameleon Christian.
Colourful. Changing. Cocoon. Chrysalis.
Lately I am exploring the Butterfly within.
I just watched this song about Flying on U-tube. I think it was a Christian song.
It didn't mention God much.
I liked it.

God invented the Alphabet.
He put it into Adam so that he could have fun naming all the Animals.
He programmed us so that we could come up with a multitude of languages around the time of the Tower of Babel.
Sometimes I'm not glad He did because I have to speak Afrikaans.
Sometimes I'm glad He did because it made the World Cup a lot more fun. Although a lot of language was lost because of the Vuvuzelas.
Personally I'm a Vuvuzela fan, although I think they create one of the great divides in the world right now.
Even amongst Christians - some of us are afraid of them because they might be Pagan.
I can't help quite liking Pagan.

The World Cup was a great distraction. Especially from the D words.
Now we only have the Surfing Competition up the road at Jeffreys Bay. Its not the same. There were only one or two Vuvuzelas.
A lot of surfers are Christians.
We used to be part of a great Surfer Church in Kommetjie.
I miss it.
I miss a lot of things.

I've got to move on from the D words. I realize that.
E words do look a lot more euphemistic.

experiment exhilarate exhaust elation expanse ecstasy easy eclipse escape empty emancipate elastic energy explore explosive energy experience expend exchange exodus exit evolve eventful evangelize euphoria entertain enter epiphany epistle epic encore encourage enchant enigmatic enormous emigrate embryo embrace elope eloquent eject elegant egg edit evacuate end

Friday, July 16, 2010

A New Term

I have just taken a stroll through the early morning streets of Joubertina. I went to do the banking. Money was on my mind. After a few steps the icy air had turned my thoughts to the new term, what awaited us and what we might be dreaming of.

The walk also reminded me of England. I never owned a car there and my years at College in Berwick Upon Tweed on the border of England and Scotland were walking years. We used to step out of our stone cottage and take to the high road, winding up and away from the old Roman walled town, to the college.

Down below us wound the River Tweed, strung with its three bridges. The high old Roman aquaduct, now topped with the railway, the trains clattering over it as it strides over the river with big high arches. The trees I remember as mostly bare, the delicate branches of bushes iced over with lacy frost.

It was a schoolroom of cold, and I learnt lessons there about the joys of walking. And here in Joubertina I experience it again in a way, because the mountains around us are topped with snow, and up the road at Avontuur I am told, the snow lies fifteen centimeters deep.

And then I find I am dreaming of surfing, because I often dream of water, and Kelly Slater is down the road in Jeffreys Bay. The sky is wide and that washed out winter blue where the sun is only lemony, and I am still thinking of a still, calm sea as I take the turn across the churchyard and head down the hill towards town.

At the church offices I encounter the Dominee and so come out of my reverie to talk of things, Joubertina things, school things, Koshuis things.
I become aware again of the jingle jangle of the bank packet in my bag. The Koshuis has money worries and I dodge the thought that I have to feed a child three meals a day for R10, or even less. There are so many needs amongst the Koshuis children. We have twenty five children, and they are all poor really, just about all subsidized by the state. Our building is down at heel, with a leaking roof and sagging ceilings, where the water pours through. The girls and boys share a building, upstairs and downstairs where they are sort of supervised and so...

My job description is kitchen and finances only, but I felt for them as they lived there, with nothing to do, no recreation, only study time and a fuzzy, snowy TV crackling away in the corner of the dining room. Ai, things seemed depressing to me, so I wrote a letter and the kind Dominee printed it in the 'kerk' bulletin and sent it out, to those out there, them who have, for those who do not.

I smile now here, on the icy street, when recounting how the children are loving the recreation time we have introduced , made possible by generous gifts from towns folk , where before there was only boredom. I remember the night before, the energy of the table tennis games, the skill around the wonderful pool table. The giggles of the little ones playing with pink ping pong balls as they joyously bounce around the room, getting under foot...
The domino games, played with gestures and expressions surely learned in some other place from adults in another world.

We have pictures up now (the big five) and a carpet, and books to line the walls. We have noise and expectation and energy and life..

And yet - its Friday and I am tired, already.

The truth is when I dream of water, somewhere in there is a sailboat, to sail away on. And thats where I am today, all thoughts of England, and the sea and surfing and sailboats.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Fairest Cape

We have all fallen in love. Again.
To explain - the four of us have just returned from a 10 day break in Cape Town. Enough said.
By way of apology to the Langkloof I add the following. We do not choose those we love in life. It just happens. Love is sneaky. So:
It is not our fault that -

  • we lived in a friends flat on the slopes of Fish Hoek mountain and 
  • the sea was spread out before us everyday like a huge expanse of smooth satin or with straight lines of white tipped waves 
  • or decorated with fluttering hankerchief sailboats 
  • or painted barbie pink and Netherlands orange 
  • or supporting a HUGE grey battleship 
  • or inviting us up a lemon path reflecting a yellow moon leading up to our door...

It is not our fault that -

  • Kalk Bay has lost none of its charm and Olympia Cafe has the same waitrons, dressed by lost property, who still remember us, and served us croissants to that familiar sound of eggs being whisked in a stainless steel bowl.
  • we had the best cappuccinos up a cobbled lane, with the coffee brand written on the foam by a true artist 
  • Kalk Bay has the best bookshop in the world with just enough books on wide wooden shelves ( those huge bookshops overwhelm me so..) It was there that we happened apon an interview with Andre Brink who inspired me by sharing insights about writing, and at 75 has just published his 25th novel - and we sipped wine and nibbled snacks leaning against the bookshelves, the dust of Joubertina still powdering our boots.

It is not our fault that -
  • we have been blessed with the very best of friends who invited us out to dinner, lunch, breakfast and coffee. The sight of their dear faces over tables groaning with food, candlelit, or dappled, lit by sunlight through trees, or dazzlingly lit by sun reflected off the sea...filled us with happiness. What fun they all are, giggling into their wine glasses, or seriously considering a thought , poised over a teapot, or pausing a moment between animated speech to chew that muffin, braaied fish over hot coals, or apple crumble and freshly whipped cream...

It is not our fault that -
  • Cape Town was in the middle of the biggest party ever. Everywhere flags where flying, vuvuzelas were blowing, people were smiling , cheering, laughing... We witnessed the Orange Army on the day they whipped Uruguay, felt the 'gees' were part of the 'Fehvah'. We watched the games on TV, and ofcause we talked soccer, had our favourite players, favourite teams, shared in the agony of Ghanas defeat, the glee of 'Jan van Riebeecks se mense' se victory. In other words - 'die Kaap is Hollands'.

It is not our fault that -
  • my parents are getting older than I can bare, and a day spent with them, and my sisters family and G and J left the sweetest taste on my tongue.(Although the Swedish rhubarb pie with Woolworths Vanilla Custard could have accounted for that.) Watching my Dad watch my two playing soccer with their young cousin under the oak tree, rope swing strung out of the way of the goalposts, is a treasured memory.
  • saying goodbye to the two of them, waving from their gate under the garden light can hardly be thought of without a lump appearing, as it did then, in my throat, so that I could only look ahead, at the road.

It is not our fault that -
  • Cape Town, after an absence of a year feels like home to us, still.

We took the long road home. We needed the many hours to make the necessary shift. We opened our front door to the smell of roses. Our dogs leapt to greet us. Our friend greeted us with joy, as we did her.
But it felt like a seed had been sown. A corner turned. Our eyes are looking back, over our shoulder, but, for the moment, we are here.