Sunday, May 27, 2012

The art of loving

I'm slowly working through Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving.
It's an old fashioned looking book published way back in 1957; it's also compact and dense with words.
I've decided to go back to the beginning and start again:

"This book...wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbour, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline." (Preface)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I miss you sore

Lying with the brown duvet, silver-gray blanket and two cats up against me, against the cold, listening to the electric train engine in the shunting yard.
I'm going to take myself back to sleep without any form of tablet, their time is up.
Saw this photo, by accident on my iPad, that I took on 20 March. I'm experiencing longing. No, it's more than that. I'm missing with soreness; hmmmn, or is that sorely missing? No: I miss you sore.
To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness, wrote Bertrand Russell.
I am happy. Deeply so.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Can't keep

I can't keep my eyes open for a second longer
It's been a crazy week, but good
ee cummings above my fireplace, inspiration / my
The fire's roaring as my eyelids fight and struggle, against all my Resistance, towards each other
Kitchen reeking of new plaster
Old geyser out, new geyser in
Life on its head as we know it
Life not as we know it goes on
Eight sleeps and one shave until Lee's here
Can't wait
Just out the shower, hair damp and cloyingly wet, and clean
I have to hold on to my sanity as I lose it
I am, quite complicatedly exhausted
[Good night my heart]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hammer and tongs

Late yesterday-winter-afternoon I walked the lonely-mostly-quiet-road past the hospital, which peters into a gravel road to the escapement edge.
It's one of my favourite walks. I take it to both watch and celebrate the rising of the full moon once a month, also to gain - while sobbing my tired eyeballs out - perspective, when life's path seems to have also, mysteriously, petered out.
The blue gums were, last night, in their autumn beauty, and the forest and bush-veld paths were dry.
Today I'm holed up on a chair in the sun in my bedroom. The fire is crackling and the still-wet wood is hissing; I had a load dropped off here and chopped last week. It will take two weeks for it to dry, just in time for Lee's visit.
The hammering and dust from the kitchen is almost unbearable, it's finally being renovated after 5 years. It's all part of my plans, and dovetails into the change and fluidity taking place in my life right now
Aaah, the scraping of shovels on the concrete driveway means that the two loads of river sand and four dead-heavy bags of cement are being mixed. It's plastering time, but not over cracks. They have been obliterated; it's a new start.
But I long for it to be next Saturday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heart racing/brisk walk

Kaapsehoop: We celebrated Linda's birthday with bottles of red wine and a sumptuous feast at the quaint Bohemian Groove.
Just before dusk, with my mind on Lee, and needing a break from the crowd and my own loudness, I walked briskly in the last but gloriously surreal light to The Edge. By the time I got there my fingers were numb from the cold, winter's here.
Nevertheless, at the forester's lookout station, I was able to get down on my knees and give thanks for all that has come to pass, and for how blessed I am. And for another chance with Lee; love is not to be squandered, nor taken for granted...
It was almost exactly 3 weeks ago that I last walked to the escapement edge lamenting how I'd treated Lee, and had lost him by having taken him for granted.
So much, for good, has happened since. I'm so grateful. I'm still unable to comprehend everything that's happened in such a short time: and I've also been to the KZN coast twice, and Durban, and for long periods, in this time.
My business partner, also, died on 7 May.
I'm about to turn out the light and turn down the heat of the electric blanket; the two girls are up tight against me.
Good night

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wilson's tacky Wharf

Candlelit deep-foam bath, 500 km from the coast, and over a week away from last Saturday night: at peace, centered, deep silence, black cat on the bath edge, contentment, happiness, peacefulness.
After the Indaba last Saturday afternoon, and before the welcoming party at the People's Park at the Moses Mabida stadium, Durban, we snuck off to Wilson's Wharf across from the harbour: six oysters gleefully shucked - and (almost) squirming in a wonderfully lethal Tabasco/lemon juice/black pepper concoction - and a large cocktail each, served by a soft voiced Thai woman named Lilly.
Tacky, tatty and rundown, I'd not take anyone there, to the wharf, that I'd want to impress; although being on water's edge is always good for my soul.
My eyes are shutting, I'm dreading the effort to get out of my bath; it's a race and pay-off against the slowly cooling water. Then to bed and an electric blanket on setting 'one'.
It was another day of centering myself, communicating, chilling, focusing on the clearly murky way forward.
Our Saturday night together was a crazy one; we over did it on every single level, and paid the price. In full. Then an angry, and angry-worded 95 km ride home to Hibberdene, before, suddenly, beginning to make love while driving, and just before clothes-around-ankles-from-car-to-upstairs room passion that even now leaves me breathless in memory.
A week later and even more water, a lot more in fact, has passed beneath our bridge; I can honestly write that I'm in love, and with all my heart.

Good night

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fantasy world

Last week this time I met him and his faded yellow backpack at The Rhino outside the ICC; I was rushing into our weekend - the bubble space - from a going-nowhere-fast cocktail event that heralded the start of the 2012 Tourism Indaba.
I've just switched off the radio, sitting in silence now except for the two cats scrunching their ugly pellets; but it's good for their teeth. Then, after these words, I'm off to Celeste and Werner for a farewell dinner. They're leaving for a 7-week amble through Austria and the UK; Celeste, so kindly, has filled my freezer with 19 cooked-and-wholesome meals. I've already thrown a beer down my gullet, which was after two glasses of wine at Hazel and Francois; I bought a truck load of mostly moist firewood from him (chopped and packed by Fish), and Hazel inspired me though her garden amble. Their house, most likely the nicest and most intriguing in Waterval Boven, is up for sale.
The minute I set eyes on him at The Rhino, time ground to a halt, while I simultaneously, and ironically, became conscious of its preciousness, and of the fact that all things come to an end, especially the good things. We bought mushrooms on the beachfront, gasped in awe at Humpty Dumpty and old Mrs Hubbard, walked past Joe Cool's, before taking a yellow no.22 cable car ride over the neonly garish beachfront.
Then to dinner-intense-and-love, and wine - red battery acid for him, white vinegar for me - at the Beach Hotel, before driving back to Hibberdene.
On a high, his Pan-primeval feet against my chest, while the sea hissed-and-roared through the top floor open sliding door, took me to a place not been before.
How do I scratch-and-claw back time? Only through the reminiscing-processing of words, thereby painfully-because-of-longing reliving last week right now.
Sore. But free. And liberating.
[Who are you, where did you come from? How? Where did you scalpel-and-tear-and-clutch-a-hold into my heart?]
Pass 'welcome' and collect R2-million.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rustique Rose

I've stopped for a cappuccino at a restaurant in Piet Retief that I've always driven past, never visited. It's piqued my curiosity; next time I'll have a meal.
I'm no longer in KwaZulu-Natal.
It's a hot day, and my emotions are on a rickety roundabout.
About 200 km from home.
It's a quick break to rest and centre myself.
And although warm, the words of Yeats' poem, Wild Swans at Coole, trip over themselves upon leaving my tongue... "the trees are in their autumn beauty, the woodland paths are dry...".

A week and two days

I've been traveling this barmy coastline for a week and two days. Durban's been the fulcrum, Hibberdene the most southern point, and Zinkwazi Beach the most northern.
I've chosen a magnificent day to begin - with great resistance I confess - my trek back home to the khaki highveld, which, to be frank, is not feeling as central in my life as it has for the last five years.
I'm in the midstream of change and gloriously turbulent fluidity (I'm letting go), and at this point I'm wonderfully between two distant and hazy-for-now river banks ... and thoroughly enjoying watching the droplets being joined.

I said goodbye, again, to Lee at the ocean front before dropping him off at Sugar Bay; I'll see him in just over two weeks.

Despite the chill in the air I've driven with the window open and my arm out in the sunshine: I'm not allowing myself a second of complacency, I don't want to miss a thing.

I'm hesitating with heading out of here, although I know I must: I don't want to transition Melmoth's watershed from the lush subtropical green I'm savoring now, to winter-dry-and-barren. But, from experience, I know I'll be fine on the other side.

I'll be lighting the tinder, and wood, in my bedroom fireplace in preparation...

I must be disciplined.

And I have an important funeral at 11h00 tomorrow.

Mama Zulu's coffee shop

Eshowe, Zululand: I've stopped at the landmark George Hotel on my winding 80km/h route up the R66, which turns inland form the main N2 traversing KwaZulu-Natal's north and south coast. The 25-room George is from another era, and contains a restaurant, pub and brewery that I'm adding to, and highlighting on my to-do list, especially as I'm increasingly (and with much greater curiosity) using this route.
The stop was a spontaneous 'quick right' off the road (that might well have irritated the driver right up my backside) at the last minute; I'm glad I've stopped, until now Eshowe has only been a word in my mind, without pictures attached.
The town is elevated on a hill seemingly way above the hot and humid coastal plane below. Best of all it's surrounded by the 250 hectare Dlinza Forest (a declared nature reserve), which gives it a cool, leafy and snug feel: I'm glad to be here, and The George hotel is going to become a favourite.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Voorslag days

That's why I ended up last night, in the dripping dark of Pennington: I was looking for Umndoni Park at Sezela, where the controversial 1920s SA poet, Roy Campbell and as equally controversial (for different reasons to Campbell though) author William Plomer (of Turbott Wolfe fame), and Laurens van der Post, collaborated on jointly producing their short-lived magazine 'Voorslag'.
The Campbell's lived in a bungalow - separated from a sandy beach only by a railway track - lent to them, I think, by the then well-known SA painter Edward Roworth.
"The house," wrote Plomer, had a verandah on three sides, and was built on a seaward slope overlooking the Indian Ocean. There was little or no garden: the house stood in a clearing in the bush, a step led down in front to the railway line and a path of deep, dry, white sand through the bush to the beach, only a few yards away. It was just an ordinary Natal house of the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, with a corrugated iron roof and boarded interior walls covered with shiny khaki varnish. At a short distance from the house was a rondavel, a round, one-roomed dwelling, which as adapted as a guest-room for me."

Since Easter I've been researching an article I'm writing about these three, and especially focusing on their South Coast.

I could have cut and pasted Plomer's words into this blog post, but I got a thrill from retyping his words - I'm a big fan of the man - and it's a brilliant way to get under his writing skin.

I got caught at a country restaurant, and pub, probably the only one in Pennington, last night so I never ventured further. But I did get a feel for the place; I did get some writing done, and I enjoyed the first rain here in exactly a week of brilliant and sunshine-filled days.

Seeking to love maturely

You can see it's an old book.

I don't smoke. Although I like the taste of cigarettes in someone else's mouth:

"Love - a short word that means so many different things. Everybody wants it; far from everybody can give it. Yet we all think we know what it means. Is it something natural we don't need to think about, or is it an art? Erich Fromm...discusses its different forms, from the most natural in mother-love to the most impersonal in love of God; from romantic love, with it's endless possibilities of self-deception, to the steady assurance that mature love alone can give. To practice the art of loving is more difficult than ever under today's pressures; but Dr Fromm is convinced that 'Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence." [From the very foreword, indeed...]

I have within myself committed to perceive my new relationship as an opportunity to explore the art of loving; I have much to learn, and trust me, it ain't gonna be a walk in the park. I'm also very, very bored with playing the same relationship CDs over and over.

Someone that I can't remember, but whom I'm sure is famous (not that I care), said, once, that the unexamined life is not worth living. I constantly, and anally (some learned ones might say), but also at great self pain, constantly examine mine. I'm committed to living my best life, in THIS lifetime.

Namaste: I bow to thee, and honour the very highest in YOU

Monday, May 14, 2012

The art and craft of / off my beaten track

Random bar and restaurant in the dark, and dripping rain of Pennington, on KZN's South Coast:
"No under 18's allowed in main bar or in the gaming area. By order [in italics] management"
A black and white cat, unfazed by me, hovers in my space; I just know we're cool, with, each, other. I don't even have food, yet, to be begged.
An empty dark-brown milk stout bottle stopped rolling the floor of my car when I stopped driving; I bought it in Amanzimtoti after a random gym session: milk stout is good for lactating women, also for filling a tummy while simultaneously taking off that emotional edge one sometimes feels while contemplating the universe and, simultaneously, staring into the abyss; I'm not an alcoholic, but I have altogether stopped my mood enhancers (haha, what do you call yours?).
Ok, let's get to the punt (that's Afrikaans for point): I've thankfully gone off my beaten track.
I'm also reading Lonely Planet's 2005 edition of their Travel Writing, which I got for Christmas, in London, in December 2006 just before I threw up my life as I knew it. I read, very sadly, parts of it in Marrakech before chucking it up (the manual that is); but dropped it once (later) in the bath as I fell asleep (the only time I've ever done that).
"What makes a wonderful travel story? In one word, it is place. Successful travel stories bring a particular place to life through a combination of factual information and vividly rendered descriptive details and anecdotes, characters and dialogue... The best travel stories also set the destination and experience in some larger context, creating rings of resonance with the reader."
I'm also, simultaneously [am I the only person on earth that uses this word?] reading Erich Fromm's - 1957 - "The Art of Loving". About which I have one query: why the hell is this brilliant book not a firmly set set-book at schools across our planet (because no-one has a clue about loving, after they've fallen into it).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Market today

Durban, KwaZulu-Natal: It's got dark since I arrived here at 3pm to meet a friend. She's just left, 15 minutes short of three hours with me. The time flew, almost as fast as the sluggish pigeon from the fountain right next to me.
I'm at Market, 40 Gladys Mazibuko road (the old Marriott road) in the Berea; Durban is overflowing with culinary gems like this one.
The setting is tranquil, quite perfect actually. It probably accounts for my happiness at passing three hours of my life here.
I ordered a beef burger with rocket, gorgonzola, streaky bacon, avocado and caramelized onions (R79), which I blissfully wolfed down.
They also serve microbrewed beers (hooray); I ordered a Darling Brew Native Ale (R42): "inspired by the loggerhead turtle, an exceptionally rare rusty ale" proclaimed the back of the handsome brown bottle.
The Douwe Egberts cappuccino (R18) arrived with a stylish crystal sugar stick.
Now, at the change of the guard - afternoon customers being replaced by adults of the night - I'm content to leave here utterly satisfied with the experience.
I'm now going to experience Durban's beachfront at night. It was an utterly safe place for me to wander in wonder as a child (way back when I was growing up), but then went through the dangerous doldrums. Now? Well, now, I'm not sure. I'll get back to you.
I'm here for the 2012 Tourism Indaba at the International Convention Centre; my first sessions begin tomorrow. I'm looking forward, very.
These have been perfect shorts-wearing days of cloudless cobalt skies and subtropical bliss; winter's ass.
Tomorrow evening I get to see my heart...for a weekend. I can't wait.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Entering the bubble

Last week this time I had just arrived in Zinkwazi Beach to collect Lee.
He was standing, waiting, my side of his gate.
A long and understandably intense embrace in the road, lots of kisses on his neck; do you have any idea what it's like to have the opportunity to kiss a beautiful neck you never ever thought you'd see again? (It's right at the top of the list of 1001 things not to ever take for granted before you die. As was smelling his smell, intermingled with the mustiness of his room, which is too close to the lagoon.)
I lifted his well-used, faded-yellow backpack onto my backseat.
Without even a pee break we hit the 180 km down the coast to Mantis and Moon Backpackers, about 10 minutes south of Hibberdene.

He drove. Lots of stolen but ecstatic glances at him, some very happy glimpses of the ocean to my left.
A surreal journey: first the tawny-colored winter landscape of Mpumalanga.
Then, suddenly, the verdant watershed of Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal: unexpectedly, but welcome, the start of the province's lush green sub-tropical vegetation that was to excite me until this exact point, but on my return, three days later.
I'm crazy about both the exuberantly boisterous clumps of banana trees, and although I shouldn't be a fan, the swathes of luminous (quite magnificent actually, and so soothing to the eye) sugar cane stretching as far as your sight would allow you to see.
And all the way down the escarpment, to the coast, I listened to Literature on SAfm, so grateful for the uninterrupted signal, so unlike the interrupted inland transmission.

We reached Mantis and Moon in the dark, after fighting our way through Durban's extremely intense Spaghetti Junction: the traffic, the lights, the rolling hills of dense population, and the humidity (air conditioner on, air conditioner off) of Mordor.
It was wonderfully exciting, because I was there so unexpectedly, and a Sunday evening of them all!
Little did I know that I was passing through the looking glass...and that I would remain in Wonderland nothing short of 48-hours.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Indian summer full moon

I walked up my road, a quiet and long cul de sac, then took the horse path through the veld and on to the tarmac of the isolated provincial road that snakes around the back of town.
Then, briskly, while texting Lee in the dark, I followed the road through the alien eucalyptus trees that I love so much, turned right at the only stop, and climbed the hill past the hospital up until where the tar peters out.
That's when I got down on my knees and gave thanks for the full moon.


Eating cereal and drinking from a bowl of green tea, I'm watching the sun set and acknowledging that I'm not in any way satisfied with the crumbs from (anyone's) table.
I've spent the entire day uncluttering my space, burning cards and photographs, and throwing away anything whose meaning I question.
I've simultaneously been walking a no-man's land of emotion, the green and uncut grassy bit beneath the roller coaster that no-one ever notices, nor acknowledges.

[I take another sip of green tea... a habit I acquired 7 years ago. I've cut out sugar for the last two weeks, which has seen me considerably cut my coffee intake. So it was a sugar addiction, not a coffee one.]

The sun, not unlike me, is on the very edge; something has to give. [Please see 'has' in italics...]
Or does all of this exist in my imagination? Just because I feel it, does it mean it's real?
My existential crisis is not pretty, for me.
The sun's gone, it's now dusk. I'll move indoors and put clothes over my undies, then go for a walk. I believe it's full moon tonight; I know where to walk to, to see it rise.

Doors open

Joe my life has changed quite dramatically the last month and approximately a week...I'm also a lot more rested...and, despite it being deep autumn, I'm spring cleaning all aspects of my life...people, objects, clutter of any nature...streamlining and simplifying...there's a strong, new wind blowing through my life... I've opened the doors...and I'm also ready to go.... To go anywhere that I feel I need to go to. I'm embracing freedom, and it's actually very very challenging.

Morning Joe

I'm good thanks, sitting on a chair in the sun by the window. Just finished my morning pages and about to make coffee... you at work the whole day?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Right now / King's Corner

I took that photo through the car window. While I was driving home from KZN yesterday. It was not far from Carolina, most definitely in Mpumalanga (next Tuesday I drive back the way I came, I'll be attending the 2012 Tourism Indaba in Durban, and also working on some stories while based, again, in Hibberdene).

I'm exactly in the middle. Halfway between my comfort zone and where the magic happens (I'm seeking constant change, fighting routine, but it's tough. I'm teaching my brain that change is good; I want to stretch myself, but hate it when unconscious).

It's all about love (coffee too) and changing the world to a better place, especially even if it's only by one smile at a time, and at strangers (we have, mostly, been brought up strangely, and isolated...especially in my country, extreme poverty among others, hardly raises an eyebrow. I seek to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control).

Sitting at 'my' usual window at Seattle Coffee in Millys (at King's Corner), I'm watching the sun set on the line of trees between me, the plate glass window and the N4 highway (while it might not look very inspiring, trust me that it is. My home is about 22km from here, against the mountain. I'm going through an alone period at the moment, one too of isolation and cabin fever. It's wonderful to be sitting here...almost exhilarating).

negative. roundabout

So he took another of me too, photographing southwards of the coastline.
Like a negative, it was opposite, and washed out of almost all colour. Just a heart tinge of the softest pastel pink, for hope; end of tunnel light.
And it was also wonderfully moody.

Today, and yesterday, have been mid-summer hot. But it's the beginning of May.
The hot sunshine against the winter foliage confuses and unsettles me: my head, my heart and my life references are all upside down.

What are the lessons to be learnt here? That's all it is, I'm in class and I'm needing to pass these tests before I can move on to the next level.

He wrote in the wonderfully battered 1977 edition of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, that he gave me on 19 March: Our journey begins and it will be full if flight and fancy

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


I was so sore this leaving you...the sunrise was so so gorgeous, but I was sad sad sad.
While you photographed me without me knowing it, my heart was breaking.
Only later did I cry. And again even later, lots more.
I was strangled in pain.