Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a little bit in love.

i know. of late it seems that my blog is becoming a showcase space for the exquisite work of the stunningly talented shirin sahba. i just can't help it. sigh...this one took my breath away, quite literally. goregously pink and filled with joyful abandon! what's not to love?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

strawberry cheeks.

today the real strawberryface turns three!


happy birthday, sweetest inspiration!

love, lollies and sisters.

this is one of my most favourite photographs in the world.
it makes me smile. every single time.
i love the pure joy we are both expressing.
the bare feet of childhood.
the red plastic cups our mom would give us, 
so that our ice lollies wouldn't drip all over the floor.
i am completely and utterly content.
sitting in the lap of my big sister.
there is no where else i would have rather been.

happy birthday, sweet sister o' mine!

Friday, June 24, 2011

good night, sweet city.

photo stolen from danny stevenson's phone

Saturday, June 18, 2011

sleep. goldfish. and my dad.

when i was a child, i did not like to sleep. i have vivid memories of climbing out of bed, my pillow tucked firmly under my arm, walking barefoot across the long corridoor to the living room, many many times in a single night. as the story goes, one night, when i was about four, having gotten out of bed for about the hundredth time, and having run out of any kind of remotely valid sounding excuses (i'm too hot, i'm thirsty, the room is too dark), i triumphantly announced to my weary-eyed parents that i could not sleep because 'the goldfish is swimming in the bowl'. yes, my big sister's goldfish, who apparently thought he was minding his own business in his own little world, was in fact quite clearly keeping me awake and had to be removed. immediately.

truth be told, there were two reasons why i did not like to sleep. 1. i was convinced that while i was asleep the rest of my family was partying without me, and 2. i was afraid. there were two things i was afraid of. 1. that i would die in my sleep, and 2. hyenas.

yes, hyenas.

you have to understand that growing up in malawi, the howling of hyenas was a common sound at night. i had no idea what a hyena looked like, but my over-active four year old imagination had conjured up a fantastic cross between E.T. and a small rabid dinasaour. fantastic. and utterly terrifying.

enter my dad.

this is one of my favourite photos of him and i. although i am too young to talk, i love that he looks like he is intently listening, with complete and utter seriousness, to every word i am saying. 

and with regards to my fears of 1. dying before morning came, and 2. hyenas somehow getting through my bedroom windows, he did exactly the same to my four year old self: listen. 1. he promised me that i would live until i was at least a hundred years old, and then 2. proceeded to tuck me in bed tightly with the mosquito net as my haven and an entire army of every doll and toy i every owned arrayed around the circumference of my bed as my own personal bodyguards against the hyenas. every single night. and thus my four year old self was able to sleep at night. blissfully.

its been many years since the thought of my mortality has kept me up at night. and i've also learned along the way that hyenas are just rather sad looking dogs who are more afraid of me than i am of them. nonetheless, with my adult self there are always other fears that come and go. and with my adult self, as with my four year old self, my dad is always there to listen, intently and seriously, even if it is to my still rather over-active imagination. and although i am too old for my army of dolls, his love, words, constant encouragement and example of courage have become my shield and a source of my strength. 

of course, i do still believe that i will live until i am a hundred. and will keep him to his word.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

meeting mrs amos.

a few days ago, on my way to town, i walked past an elderly lady sitting outside her front door in the sunshine. i smiled at her. she smiled back. and i continued on my way. a few hours later, on my way home, i passed her again. a few hundred metres past her home, i stopped, stood there, had a 30 second debate with myself, and walked back. as i approached her and hesitantly asked if i could talk to her and perhaps take her photo, her face beamed in an open smile.

her name is sabina amos.


she was born in 1920, and although she cannot remember the names of her many great grandchildren, with great excitement she tells me that on the 10th of june she will turn 91 years old.

holding tightly to my arm, she animatedly tells me about her five children, all who were born in the house behind her. about her husband, who died in 1971 - i never married again! she tells me with a clear sense of pride. and of her eyesight, that is slowly failing - i can only see the big letters now. it is difficult to read my hymn book.


what advice can you give me, i ask her. (is this impertinent? i wonder, and then dismiss it with the recognition that this woman has lived a wealth of lifetimes before me). she thinks deeply and laughs a little.

pray, she tells me. every morning and every evening. then you will always be guided.

i take a few photos of her in the sunlight and show them to her.


ahh, i am old, she tells me. when i was young i was very pretty.

you are beautiful, i tell her. and i mean it.

are you happy with the way your life has unfolded, i ask her, a little bashfully.

very happy, she says.

as i turn to leave, she catches hold of my arm again and smiles.

i am happy. very very happy, she says.

i smile, wave, and continue walking down the street, the sun on my face, my day a little brighter.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

cookie monster.

so, last night we decided to have a bit of a cookie extravaganza.

we made approximately one million star shaped cookies.

of which there were approximately three left this morning.

because, well, quite obviously, star shaped cookies taste much better than ordinary shaped cookies.

and while my sweet sis was left with stars in her eyes,

we decided that my brother (in law - just so that we are clear that he's my brother, not hers....okay, never mind) looks like the real-life version of the little prince.

my job, of course, was to eat the 999,997 cookies.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

house number 8870.

we sit on upturned buckets, huddled together in a small circle in the corner of the dimly lit room. the young boy next to me draws his shorts-clad legs towards himself in an attempt to preserve some body heat. but his eyes remain intensly focused on the book in his lap, his face bright and intense, oblivious to the cold that penetrates through the thin walls. i pause, looking up from my book, to ask: so why do you think would it be important to be truthful ourselves if we are teaching children the virtue of truthfulness? he looks at me intently, the answer clear and obvious, and without any hesitation says: because truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues.

this is linda. he is fourteen years old. and he is my hero.


i don't say these words lightly.

we are sitting in a tiny, almost entirely unfurnished one-roomed house, identical to all the other one roomed grey-brick houses that sit side by side in this sprawled township, each differentiated from the other only by a number printed on the wall facing the dirt road. each room houses a family. linda chose to move here nearly six months ago, away from his home and family, to live with some relatives. he came here because as a member of the baha'i faith he wanted to be of service to a community where there were no other bahai's. seeing that there were no spiritual and moral education classes for children in his new community, he decided to set up a class similar to one he himself was a participant of in his home town.


over 30 children gather almost every single day to attend linda's classes. they learn about spiritual virtues, like kindness and patience, truthfulness, joy and justice. they hear stories, draw pictures and learn prayers together. they sing songs. at the top of their lungs.

quiet and unassuming in his manner, i wonder if linda himself is truly aware of the magnitude of what he is doing.


driving back to the mother city, my heart feels like it is about to explode. with love, respect and a sense of awe for this spiritual warrior.

a true hero. in every way.

Friday, May 13, 2011

love. mountains. and taxis.

the sky is still streaked with first light as i step out onto mainroad.


"GIRLFRIEND!" the shout is distinct. "HEY, GIRLFRIEND! MACIE! CAPE TOWN?" he is yelling from the other side of the road, half of his body dangerously tottering out of the open window of the minibus. the music blares, the bass booming across the quiet street. i smile, despite myself, and give an imperceptible nod. he grins widely and jumps out, stopping the few cars between us so that i can cross easily. "anything for you, my lady". with a wink he turns his back to me and yells out to the next approaching woman, "GIRLFRIEND! HEY, GIRLFRIEND! TAXI?"

and so another morning begins.

contrary to rumors, i have not fallen off the edge of the world and into oblivion.

the edge of the world is, however, quite beautiful. and incredibly windy.

but i have been living life. in the abundance of people i love. face to face. and it makes me ridiculously happy.

i always fall a little deeper in love with this city. just a little bit. and my heart always breaks in this city. just a little bit.

i am more home than i ever have been. and yet...it doesn't mean what i thought it would.

i look into the faces of so many of the young women that i teach. some eyes still bright with the invincibilty and sweet arrogance of childhood, others already weary with the heaviness no child should ever know. and yet, so many, too many, do know. bonnie's face is drawn, her eyes tired despite the coolness of the morning. she wakes up when it is still dark, and when it will continue to be dark for many hours still, so that she can arrive here on time. she looks directly and unflinchingly at me. "i am creative" she tells me with a slight defiance, lest i should, for even a moment, doubt her. "i know i am creative. its just difficult to put what i feel into words. onto paper". we talk about fear, about letting go of fear, letting go of all those voices in our heads that tell us we can't. because we can. she can. tell her stories, speak her truths. she smiles at me softly with an understanding older than both of us. and i know, i know how much courage she already has, just by being here.

if the sun is still shining when i leave, i skip the taxi ride and walk home instead. the mountain, always my point of reference.

the mountain. i know jobergers make fun of the captonian obsession with the mountain. but we can't help it. it is immense. it holds us. grounds us. and it keeps us looking up towards the sky. and besides, if you know where the mountain is, you always know where you are.

***
and yes, strawberries do grow in cape town. but patience is needed. they are a somewhat temperamental fruit and tend to take their time.

eleven.

from my favorite album this year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

hello. goodbye. and do you like my hat?

as i write this, i am sitting on my suitcase, desperately trying to jam it shut. okay, the 'as i write this' part isn't entirely true ... but you get the idea. another suitcase, another airport, a last minute desperate search for my passport, trying to squish shoes, books and an unbelievable amount of parmesan cheese into my bags. and all the while my teenage alanis morissette singing (yelling?) self is asking, with genuine concern: seriously, you own THIS much PINK clothing?!



for someone who grew up in a world of two seasons (dry or wet but always HOT), winter is always an endless blur of cold dark days. the change of seasons always takes me by suprise and yesterday morning, when i went for a run, i was delightfully distracted to see this gorgeous sprinkling of spring.

and when i saw that this place was open again, i think i may have actually done a little dance of joy. 


then the question was: run, or eat frozen yoghurt? 

who am i kidding. i mean, is that even a question? and besides, (frozen) yoghurt is healthy. and running is totally overrated.

the fact that the sun has begun to shine again, and feeling the warmth on my face, makes me incredibly grateful for an entire childhood of summer days filled with flipflops and t-shirts. 

that being said, its somewhat ironic that just as i feel like my frozen self is begining to thaw and i am actually becoming a rather nice human being to be around (if i may say so myself), i am heading to the southern hemisphere, and, lo and behold, my sweet old  friend winter is coming right along with me. 

but ... i am going to be in one of my favourite places in the world. and i will be with some of my favourite people in the world

so ... hello. goodbye. and do you like my hat?

Friday, March 18, 2011

in violet hours.


perhaps its the fact that i seem to be awake so much in the half-lit hours. or maybe its the sudden awareness of the hours that fill an illuminated day. or the constant reminder of luminosity in the words that i read when the world is still dark.

i feel like i have spent the last few weeks wandering in tse's 'violet hours'...the 'magic hours', the space between utter darkness and complete illumination. a space that leaves me awake, restless and strangely vulnerable.

when i was a child, every year at this time we would lay seeds of wheat or barley across a small bed of cotton and wait and watch for the seeds to come to life, to sprout and grow. the anticipation of spring. for the first time in many years i find myself home again during these days and i watch my mother sprinkle those seeds.  i watch with a cynicism that aches.

but as the days pass those tiny seeds begin to sprout and i find myself strangely transfixed by these little spurts of life that stubbornly refuse to be subdued by my indifference. they grow upwards and straight. defiant. and my heart exults somewhat as they, with a gentle ease, turn themselves towards the light.

always towards the light.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

lemons. and love.

i recently came across the paintings of shahrzad maydani. they are exquisite. there is a mixture of beauty and defiance, of pain and humor, all subtly expressed in a single image. when you read about the process of her lemon paintings, you can't help but be inspired by her authenticity - as well as her talent. i keep going back to her website, trying to decide which one is my favorite ... i think they all are!

what lemons?
the lemon farmer's daughter
the tea party

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ci vediamo, milano.

falling in love with you was easier than i ever imagined. and saying goodbye is just a little harder than i thought. grazie for the abundance of glitter, grit, coffee and gelato, unexpectedly sweet friendships and more boots than any girl should ever own.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

som.no.lence.

there are 58 lines of shutter light on my ceiling. i counted. don’t even try to understand what this means. at this point, i am not even sure what it means. i am awake. and i should be asleep. every cell in my body is silently begging me to be asleep. but i just can’t. sleep. i google insomnia. the following are suggested to me:

  • don’t think. (yes, thank you very much oh wise internet for THAT suggestion.)
  • count slowly backwards. (like i can even count slowly forwards.)
  • go and take a walk. (its minus degrees outside. any other bright ideas?)
  • avoid naps. (seriously? if i could nap i would be asleep!)
  • smoke yourself to sleep. (at this point i am envisioning setting my bed on fire.)
  • think of green cows. (yes, this really is a suggestion. apparently thinking of animals in their ‘wrong’ colour will magically assist me to sleep. i am so desperate i actually tried this. but then what a normal cow actually looks like in real life (let alone a green one) started to get complicated in my head. this, of course, led me to google 'green cows'. there are a surprisingly large number of green cows on the internet.)

and finally:
  • if you can’t sleep, get up.

i am up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

looking up.

i spent the afternoon today in a planetarium. i've never done this before. it was magical. dizzyingly spectacular (your chair could actually spin 360 degrees to get the full effect) and incredibly humbling. there is nothing quite like the expanse of universe to remind you of how small you are. how very very small. it also made me realise that it has been a very long time since i have looked up into the sky at night. as i was sitting there i was reminded of one of my favourite quotes, attributed to the Imam 'Ali:

"dost thou think thyself only a puny form,
when the universe is folded up within thee?"


i need to look up more.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

sweet delight.

i've been going through my photos of last summer and came across this one. i think its one of my favorites. there is something sweetly magical about it. i love how the light softly halos her hair and the expression on her 
face as she gets ready to spin in circles. 

little miss greedy.

i am aware that many of my recent posts seem to be (okay, they are) about cake. just so you know, i write about cake much more than i actually eat it. honestly. the thing is...i do have a slight tendency to sometimes exaggerate. just a little. sometimes.

just thought i would set the record straight.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11


photo courtesy of caro's lines

i haven't moved out of my bed for the last 48 hours and i'm surrounded by a mountain of tissue. and not the wrapping kind. this flu thing is seriously no joke. so yeah...not the greatest way to say goodbye to twenty ten and start the new year. but, i have had some kind of compulsive desire to have a 1.1.11 post...so here goes. take note that i have had a raging fever, so you can blame any senseless ramblings on that.

i'm not the kind to make new year's resolutions. i'm more likely to make a list of things i've already done so that i can guarantee that they can all be crossed off and i can smile happily about it. but lying here, staring at the ceiling for countless hours, i felt inspired to make a list. okay, not really inspired...but, did i tell you already that i have a fever?

1. eat more cake. (yes, i know this is one that i've already done, but who said that my resolutions had to be new?)
2. spend more time looking at the sky.
3. be a better person and do better things.
4. sing more. outside the shower.
5. did i already say eat more cake? i have a fever you know.
6. be grateful. and find more ways to express it.
7. and learn to accept things. including gifts. yes, that was part of number 6. but i don't really have a very long list.
8. love more. judge less.
9. listen.
10. i don't have a number ten. so it will have to be eat more cake.

yes. that was the extent of my inspiration.

wherever you are, i hope that this year brings you much joy and sweetnesses of all kinds - not only the cake kind.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

dear prudence.

  • i spent most of the day today eating cake. at the time it seemed like a really good idea.
  • i am officially the world's worst vegetarian. is it possible to be half vegetarian?
  • the metro is totally overrated. whatever romantic blah blah blah i had written previously about how amazing the metro is, well i take it back. every single word. every evening when i stand perfectly cramped in a corner of the train, a metal railing poking into my back, someone's foot stubbornly on mine, an elbow digging insistently into my side, the inevitable armpit i fit under, oh and lest we forget the the awkward do-not-make-eye-contact-with-the-stranger-who-is-standing-about-half-an-inch-from-my-face-rule (and my giggling every few seconds at the absurdity of it all i am sure does not help), all i want to do is yell the line from 'the police': DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME!
  • but, the other song thats been on repeat on my ipod is this one. because even though its freezing, and i am not a winter person, and.will.never.ever.be (just in case there was any doubt), the sun is up, which of course = immediate happiness, the sky is blue...and despite all my complaining, and the fact that it's so cold i can't actually feel my face, it truly is beautiful.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

5-7-5 (sometimes)

i've never been one to go with the whole 'less is more' thing. as far as i am concerned, less is less and more is, well, umm hello, MORE? hence perhaps my disastrous attempt at tweeting. (you really want me to express myself in 140 characters? does that include the spaces between the words? and what about punctuation? is that 140 already?) basically, if i have something that i need to say, i will use all the words i want. ALL. and, perhaps, more. if i feel like it. no squished together sentences and chopped up words that are crammed2getha2savespace. except...well, except when it comes to poetry. because sometimes less is, ahem, more. i've always loved teaching haiku. along with the intense concentration and focused counting-syllables-on-fingers that suddenly takes over the room, there is something quite brilliant about speaking (or writing) by not speaking (or writing).

so, because i am desperately in need of inspiration, and nothing that i have written recently is inspiring me in any way whatsoever, i am sharing with you a few of my favourite haikus (and sort-of-haikus – just don't count the syllables) from some of the well-known brilliants (yes, i am using the word as a noun) as well as some of the less-well-known brilliants. ooh, and if you have an inspiring haiku, or even not-a-haiku but just-a-poem, hey it can even be a not-a-poem but just-a-paragraph, or even a couple of words, that you want share, and it doesn't have to be all that inspiring (look, basically you can just say hi) send it my way! i need to be inspired. please.

no earth
no sky - but still
snowflakes fall
hashin

it only takes a phonecall
to trip up my groove
just when i thought i could dance
ruth forman

for sale
baby shoes
never worn
e. hemmingway (yes, i know...its not technically a haiku, but i did tell you not to count. it is regarded as the shortest short story. and it is beautiful.)

i care not greatly
should the world remember me
in some tomorrow
ee cummings

a breeze sways the rose
the butterfly resting there
is still. drunk again?
roger white

i start to wonder:
why is everyone so awkward?
or is it just me?

millipede jr.

pink exquisite.

the girl who tamed the zebra
i am a little in love with this painting, as i am with most of the work of the exquisitely talented shirin sahba. when i saw that it was already sold, my heart sank just a teeny bit. sigh. but...one day, for sure, i will have one of these on my walls (i need to get some walls first) and fill my home with pink exquisite-ness!