Thursday, March 31, 2011

Caramel mocha

It's a magnificent autumn evening, so much so that you'd be forgiven for thinking it's summer.
We've stopped by at Lulu's in Rosebank for coffee. I'm having a caramel mocha.
While we are still deciding where to have dinner, Black Swan starts at 19h45.


I'm at uni today. This is a view from the 10th floor journalism and media department, overlooking downtown Braamfontein.
This is a crazy space for me, I've a long history with Wits over many phases of my life. It's both a nostalgic and dangerous space, also one that's a strange combination of intellectual insecurity and intellectual awakening.
I've set June as the deadline for completing my MA, while my other goal is to drastically expand my freelance output as a writer, while simultaneously growing the business and publishing aspects of the newspaper.
But to achieve all of these things I need to focus. And it's focus that remains my greatest challenge. I need somewhere remote that I can retire to for a short while to realize perspective. Somewhere in nature, preferably on he ocean.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bagel breakfast

Johannesburg - I got here last night after a long day on the road, it wasn't a direct drive, instead, because of commitments, it meant winding through to Dullstroom and back before hitting the main road.
Then the rain came this morning, after a great night's rest. A restless moaning of the wind through the trees, which are already lighter because of shedding their pale-yellowed leaves, followed the downpour.
I've been thrilling at the thought of the respite from the summer and it's much harsher light; my skin has been crawling at delicious thoughts of my annual pilgrimage into the heart of the Karoo. It's a luxury time of solitude and introspection that I always allow myself at this time of the year: a period of self-searching assessment and questioning of my life path, and whether I'm 'on track' or not.
But for now it's another cappuccino and a bagel breakfast at Fourno's in Benmore, where I'm enjoying the gray, moody weather.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tokai Forest

My friend Ronelle Rust took this photo in Cape Town's Tokai Forest this morning. It was another beautiful day there. Again I longed more than I should have to be there.

Alter ego

My alter ego's recently stuck his head up, after I'd smugly, foolishly thought I'd sunk him forever. He's my other half. My dark half. What possibly convinced me that I could murder my twin and not only get away with it, but that I could carry on living happily ever after. It's not that I hate him. No, it's that I love him...too much. Way to much. To the point of being sucked in am losing my life and my sanity. Instead u chose to run, to hide, and to suppress. For four years I've tried to hide in a mountain village far from the world as I knew it.
What's the lesson in this? It's that you can run but you can't hide. Everywhere you go you take your head with you.
So what does that leave me with? Cut it off I say...cut my head off.

Pin prick

There goes the last pin prick of sunlight. The weekend's more or less officially over. I give thanks for both the day and the weekend.

Sunday afternoon grays

We took the backroad to Dullstroom, not because it misses out the most expensive toll road in the country, but because its beautiful and lonely and quiet. And, particularly today, wonderfully moody, atmospheric.
Now we're sitting in Harrie's Pancakes in Dullstroom after scoffing down a creamy spinach and mushroom pancake, also a Thai chicken one with chilli marmalade.
Now for a slice of carrot cake and stainless steel plunger filled with local coffee from Sabie.
I wisely spent this weekend resting, so that as of tomorrow I can take on my new challenges as the publisher of the newspaper, while working closely with Claire Taylor, our month-old editor. I sense great things in the pipeline...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

East, not west

I'm heading home, driving alone but for my other, dark self. He tried to raise his head this week, to dig his talons in deep. I scraped through this battle of wills by the plaque on my teeth. I'm very shaken. I could have lost it all. Thank God for grace....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The first leaves have begun turning in Kaapsehoop. I've begun collecting fire wood and stacking it next to my stove in the kitchen.

Fire season

The grass on the mountains and hills is no longer the emerald green that it was at the height of summer, in December. The grass has gone to seed and is turning towards the tawny lion colour of autumn, then winter.
It also means we're entering fire season. That's why fire breaks are now being burnt, and the highway's grass verges bushwhacked.
Before Easter gets here it's the blessing of this season to enjoy cosmos flowering. But more about that later....


I have given up wine, which I love, for lent. In fact, I've given up all alcohol. Also adding sugar or salt to anything I consume. This doesn't make me a hero, in fact the people around me think I'm a fool. Maybe I am. But I've also become aware of the incredible benefits - on many, many levels - of self denial. To accomplish my dreams, albeit simple, unpretentious dreams, I need backbone. Backbone comes from self denial, especially in a world of instant gratification. Easy come, easy go. And because I live in a world where miracles coming true is my reality.

Waterval Onder

Waterval Onder is Dutch for 'below the waterfall'. It's 5km from Waterval Boven (above the waterfall) where I live. There's not that much that still goes on in this tiny, historical hamlet.
My favourite is the moody little sand road that runs parallel to the railway tracks. When there I try to imagine how things were back then.
Where, for example, did the Transvaal Republic's president Paul Kruger take his walks in the short time that he was here before going into exile in Switzerland via Lourenco Marques?

Cape Town

This is an exceptionally unusual photo of area close to the northern suburbs of Cape Town. My friend Ronelle Rust sent it to me. That's Table Mountain at the back. The mountain, and the superbly moody light, made me fall into the photo...a d made me wish I was there. Instead I'm on my way to Johannesburg to collect the April edition of the newspaper from the printers. I'm very short on sleep after an intense few days....


Happiness is when colleagues become friends and friends colleagues. I'm blessed by the talent and love that surrounds me, most of it unconditional. May I never take it for granted.

Yesterday's lunch

We try to celebrate life through rituals of food and wine, even when we're on deadline. Four of sat down for lunch late in the day and raised our glasses to life...

Same day

This is another photo of the sunset that had me dumbstruck. It was a beautiful day with a magnificent ending. I took my shoes off and pressed my bare feet into the cool green grass. I knew that my time to do this was running out...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tough day

It's been a long, hard day wrapping up the April edition of the newspaper. A lot of work has gone into it, I think it's our best edition yet. And I've welcomed on board a new editor from the beginning of March. It was the best idea.
I took a breather at sunset, what a beautiful one it was, but many hours later we're still at it. I'm longing for bed...

St Joseph's lilly

Sometime in February the St. Joseph lillies start magically appearing. This
one I photographed on the edge of the Mpumalanga escarpment, near
Kaapsehoop, a step or two away from Adam's Calendar.
They are always a sign to me that the days of summer are shortening, that
autumn is approaching. Nevertheless I find them extremely beautiful and love
that my house if filled with their scent. It also gives me great pleasure to
know that city folk pay astronomical amounts for these flowers that grow
here in wild abundance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life is short

Life is short. Time passes quickly. We have only this lifetime. I want to live passionately, deeply, intensely. I want to live an out-of-the-box, albeit simple, life.


The evening is here. I take a moment to make a bowl of rooibos tea and to give thanks, on the couch outside that faces west, for the day.
My friend Angela and her two daughters stopped in say goodbye before heading home to Johannesburg. I could sense her heart was heavy, that she longed to be staying here longer, that she was dreading Monday. Her burdens are heavy. I long for her to be free...and for her to have the strength and courage to into the abyss hot on the heels her dreams. She is a writer dying to break free... and the world can never have enough writers.
The photos were taken this morning in Cape Town by my friend Ronelle Rust. She was photographing the Argus cycle race. Both here and in Cape Town it was a magnificent morning.


Machadodorp is the nearest town to Waterval Boven. Although a mere 13km away, one of the most expensive toll gates - the Machado Toll Plaza - divides the two towns and make them further apart than their actual geographic distance. Notwithstanding, the N4 toll route is an exceptional, world class highway that traverses the 600 or so kilometers between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Maputo in Mozambique.

Cape Argus

My friend Ronelle Rust took this photo (from the back of a motorbike) of the Cape Argus cycle race in Cape Town early this morning.
Among other things, she is a cycling photographer.
Today I long for the (more or less) southern tip of Africa; for the pungent combination of seaweed and Atlantic ocean at Seapoint, also for the cry of seagulls.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Most beautiful morning in the world

It really is the most beautiful morning in all the world. While I did get sidetracked in the garden, and with tea, then coffee, then a boiled egg, then a sliver of the best chocolate cake ever (more than moist, juicy!), I'm not sitting down to my morning pages.
I have a lot of work to do this weekend. I must be strong. I'm in hectic, pressured space currently.
Happy Saturday...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chocolate cake

There's lots of little and teenager frogs outside. While I don't exactly want to touch them, I love their presence. They strangely comfort me. And all of us love the moisture when I water the garden and pots of succulents at my back porch. All the juicy adult frogs were eaten by the snake that visited here for a few days a few weeks ago. The snake that terrified the life out of us; the one that spat at my hand; the dangerous one.
It's a perfectly peaceful Friday evening. I've just come indoors from watering the garden barefoot, without a t-shirt, it's so hot and humid.
There's a slight, cool breeze through the house; I'm leaving the curtains and blinds open so that I can soak in the cool, calm and peace.
Angela and her two young daughters came to visit. They brought a milk chocolate cake from Zoune's with them; it's tradition when they come from the city.
The kid energy in the home was good, what I needed.
Now it's time to be alone and rest.
Happiness and calm seeps through me.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Early evening walk

It was a slightly melancholic walk down and alongside the Sabie river because the weekend was drawing to an end. And because I believe I could have better used my time, more productively to say the least.
I also saw a dead-still crocodile and a fearless hippo.
The sun setting through the quiet arbors absorbed my melancholia, and had me lifting my eyes heavenwards.

Boy in a wheelchair

There's a lad in a wheelchair. I can see that it's a permanent situation for him. His dad is steering, pushing, guiding. My heart goes out to them both. I send a prayer too. And I thank God that all my limbs and senses are intact; may I never ever take them for granted. Thank you for my legs God.

Come to the edge...

and the net will appear. Faith.

Escarpment edge

Getting closer to the escarpment edge, the air has an exhilarating chill to it, and is deliciously laden with the scent of indigenous vegetation. I draw the ozone deep into my being. I'm sense my replenishment.

Mini road trip

The weather refuses to deteriorate. A visit to God's Window is like playing Russian roulette, as you never know whether the escarpment edge will be lost in cloud or not.

Abstract baby gecko

Coffee and breakfast at Harrie's Pancakes in Graskop. I tried to photograph the baby gecko on the underside of the table, but failed miserably, also wonderfully. This abstract photo of a gecko is the result.
I'm also enjoying baking my bare legs in the hot sun.
Then a young male Jack Russell, with the prettiest face muzzled up against me and expected attention. Which I lavished upon him.

Perfect morning

Another perfect morning begun by the pool, with my morning pages and a mug of green tea...which means I'm free for some good coffee.
On the way, now, to Graskop, then to God's Window.
It's a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, just sunshine on my skin. And joy in my heart.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


The very last smudge of light on the western horizon and I'm standing on a wooden pedestrian bridge waiting for two hippos to leave the water and go foraging.
Crickets and frogs all around. Cascading water behind me. Plonking nearby in pool, so I know they are there. A faint breeze trills my arm hairs. A cough, them their deep and haunting bass bark.
It's good to be in Africa tonight.

Morning pages

It's morning pages time, but only after a swim. I need to process this last week, which passed in a pressured blur.
Today's forecast is clear skies and 35 degrees Celsius; it's going to hard to pin myself down to get some work done. If not, next week will also be a blur.
Happy Saturday...

Friday, March 04, 2011


Childhood road trip memories. Happy. Boiled eggs with salt. Boerewors. Long, lanky legs in shorts, tanned brown; mine. Freedom trapped in mind, longing to be my own slave, not the family's. Sexual awakening, gradual.


The photo, that was dusk approaching. Now a few hours later I'm back from the swimming pool, cool again, with humidity's sheen washed away.
The resort is quiet, I can hear laughter in the background. Also crickets chirruping. Above, pressed in black velvet, is the milky way and southern cross.
This is the Lowveld bushveld; relatively close to Kruger, we are walking distance to Hazeyview: Sabie River Sun.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


In case you were wondering, yes, I do have a thing for clouds. They are where my dreams have always been born.


There she blessed am I! In awe I give thanks for the gift of another day.

Coffee break

It's been a day mostly spent on the road, stopping and starting, shaking people's hands, energizing myself for new conversations. Now I'm done. In every sense of the word. Time for a coffee break, then the last lap homewards.
A cafe mocha at Seattle, Millys on the N4, one of my favourite coffee joints in the region. Many hours have been spent here analyzing my life, other's actions, or merely resting like now.
It's a magnificent evening, the sky is blue, the sun's setting in all it's glory.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Living stones

In 2001, when I was desperately searching (albeit subconsciously) for some sort of meaning (any!) to my exciting and very full hedonistic life - where I ruled as king and emperor, not giving a damn about anything or anyone - I stumbled across Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.
The first thing she stipulated that needed commitment was the freehand writing, daily, of three foolscap pages first thing in the morning, while your mind still belonged to the night and sleep.
No matter what you did you had to write those pages. It also didn't matter what you filled them with. Just fill them, she said, and don't stop until you're finished. Don't reread, don't edit, don't care about spelling or anything else. Just write.
Ten years later I've scores of A4 folio books filled with wild scribbling. Meeting at the pages just about every morning has saved my life on hundreds of occasions. These books are witness to my personal emancipation, from my selfish, self-centered self. Not that I had a hand in that...
My morning pages have over time become a daily three page direct letter to God. Like clockwork he meets me on the pages everyday. The pages are about everything and nothing. I cannot even contemplate a day not begun in the pages.
The photo is of three new lithops plants that I bought on a street in Melville on Saturday. Lithops, or living-stones, are astonishing members of the succulent family Mesembryanthemum, which has adapted a physiological structure and colouring to survive the extremely dry conditions of it's South African home. These plants inspire me; they remind me of my exile in the desert, when I believed I was king. When I see them, I long for the Karoo... which is my personal soul-space.