Friday, August 7, 2009

A promise that I'll be back soon...

... Soon! I promise. I've taken a break, settled into a new job, started running, lost weight, celebrated my 1 year anniversary with the best boyfriend ever....So, I'll be back with loads of ideas, pictures, plans, inspiration, did I mention plans? So watch this space. Now for a lazy, long weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A few more snippets of my adventure(s)

Herewith a few more pictures of our holiday. It's an anti-climax to be back, although I returned with a lot of plans and energy to grab the reality-bull by the horns... And it's great sleeping in my own bed again! It's been raining all day, which is wonderful. I have a longstanding love-affair with rain. And I've dug my down duvet from the cupboard.. it's lovely and cozy and wonderfully warm. I love winter. I've bought a lovely bottle of medium cream sherry, I'm planning to make some delicious comfort food later... So all in all I shouldn't complain. What a joy to look at the pictures and to remember all the fantastic times. I feel blessed. I feel lucky. Tomorrow will be the last day at my current job. New chapter starting soon. I used to hate change, but it's growing on me, really quickly. Enjoy the pictures!!

The door of a house, somewhere in Monchique village, PortugalFrom one of the beaches quite close to our resort, PortugalThe beach that borders on our resort, PortugalThe door to the secluded cave, next to the beach we've visited in the AlgarveA part of the village, MonchiqueThe Boyfriend, in the desert, DubaiHis toes are bigger than mine!A little shop in the spice souq, DubaiRichmond, from the river. White Cross pub in the background.Me and the lion, again! London.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An adventure abroad...

Various parts of London, Faro, Albufeira, Monchique, Lagoa, Dubai. From 12C to a whopping 43C, all in 16 days. 7 Flights.. all in all around 40 hours on a plane (luckily not in one stretch!) Tube rides, camel rides, boat rides, exhilirating 4x4 sand dune rides. Yummy plane food, fabulous Algarve seafood, traditional Arabian food. Hours on foreign beaches, a swim in crystal clear water to a deserted cave, running through the streets of London city to catch a train. Meeting new people, making new friends, laughing, eating, drinking, sleeping, swimming, tanning, experiencing, remembering, taking more than 800 pictures to keep the memories forever. My holiday with The Boyfriend was one of the best ever, and one I'll never forget. He made it very special! Herewith a few pictures to tickle your tastebuds, more to follow soon...

Somewhere far away, from the plane...
Our resort in Portugal, Praia de Oura
From the secluded beach with the hidden cave, off the Algarve coast, Portugal - the catamaran that took us there, in the backgroudPortuguese cuizine! Sardines, sardines, sardines!On the 4x4 desert safari, Dubai
The bellydancerA camel ride! The one behind us was quite aggressive and scary!Good ol' red telephone booth in LondonA special pub in the area I used to stay - Richmond, London

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The 5 pencilmaker lessons...

Since I call myself Pencilgirl, a dear friend was kind enough to send me this piece of writing in a birthday card, the other day. I think it's quite special.

A pencilmaker taught a pencil 5 lessons
1. Everything you do will always leave a mark.
2. You can always correct the mistakes you make.
3. Important is what is inside you.
4. In life, you will undergo painful sharpenings which will make you a better pencil.
5. To be the best pencil you can be, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the Hand that holds your life
in His palm...

Something to think about!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Autumn in Stellenbosch

Autumn is, and will always be my best time of year. Leaves turning yellow and orange and red, Liquid Amber and Oak trees shedding leaves everywhere, the thick mist during morning trips to the office, and the rain. Ah.. the rain. I have a deep love for rain. Rain with no wind, to be specific. The soft patter of rain on a tin roof, the joy of a secluded open window when it's raining, being able to listen to the water streaming down from the sky, through the garden, down the street. It makes me intensely happy and excited. It makes me feel at home, wherever I am. It reminds me of evenings in front of the huge fireplace in my parents' house in Somerset West. It makes me think of the undescribable joy of waking up, realising it's raining, and being able to turn on the other side and curl up in your warm, cosy, pillow-nesty bed, realising it's Saturday or Sunday, and you can sleep for another few hours. I love the colours of autumn, the smells, the cooler air, the fact that winter is coming.
* Three things that I adore right now - The Boyfriend, Basil (the cat) and the Liquid Amber tree in his garden. Happy Autumn, everyone!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

29 on 29 April 2009...*

So finally the day is here. My "Crown Birthday". I am excited because it's raining, I feel special because my sister went through a lot of trouble to make the day (and last night) very special already, although it's only 08h53! And 23 people (yes, 23) have already wished me a good one, between 00h00 and now. I also received the best letter from my mom that made me cry in the office. I'm lucky and blessed and I hope the rest of the day will continue to be lovely! I hope I remember it as one of my best birthdays. The fact that I'm going to Portugal in a week is also helping to make it all the more exciting. Yay! *
* Update: The Boyfriend surprised me at work! I was so happy! The receptionist called me to let me know that there was a delivery for me.. Being very anti-flower delivery (I've had some terrible flower moments..) I immediately expected the worse.. but there he was, sitting in the foyer, with a huge bunch of flowers, especially for me. It was great to see him (didn't see him last night) - he even brought me a present (a book I've mentioned a few months ago, he remembered!!) and a lovely, sweet card. Yet again I'm smitten, happy, lucky. It's a great birthday so far.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some random thoughts on a Wednesday

you came with the breeze on a sunday morning
i couldn't have know from where
you stood still while i started walking
the back of your head looked like a face from afar
you wore a red coat
it made me think of tomatoes in a wooden box
you picked the leaves from the dry tree in the front yard
i heard a train go by and tried to imagine myself on it
the sunday was green otherwise
i tried to talk to more people
i shivered later, as if someone was walking over my grave
my gandmother used to drink sugerlumps in her tea
but i didn't know her
how did this all happen?
you must still be standing in front of my house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Abandoned Places

There's a strange and wonderfully scary stigma attached to abandoned places. I always imagine what happens in places like these in the witching hours, when no one is awake.. Do creatures roam the hallways? Are their sounds to be heard? What will happen if you should sit there, and wait? Freaky, extremely freaky. Lovely pictures, nonetheless. Make sure to visit "La Valdor", Frankenstein's Hospital... Click here for the Abandoned Places website

Rob Dobi is a photographer that caught another collection of New England Ruins on camera. Not really that scary, but if you use your imagination, it could take you anywhere... Click here to visit his website

My Owlhouse Story

So I've decided to post my short story on my blog, since it's been posted on 2 other blogs!! The Owlhouse newsletter now comes in the form a blog. They have translated my story into Afrikaans (well done, Arno!) and it's been published here:

The Owlhouse

The lazy sun slips its long, late-afternoon fingers around the orange koppies, down, down into the quiet valley of Nieu Bethesda. It brushes over a few lonely sheep, the cork-dry main road, the tips of long forgotten trees. It touches the rooftops of the weathered houses, and filters through the shady spots created by ancient graves at the edge of the village. It bathes the valley in a lush, warm haze and for a moment it waits, before it silently sinks away behind a koppie, leaving the valley to darken.

As soon as the twilight comes, she appears from the river. A bowed figure, almost only a shadow, her feet not touching the gravel over which she hurriedly moves. Those who have speculated to have seen her, says she seems anxious, hurried, eager. She moves fast but quietly - once you realise that you’ve seen her, she’s already gone. Locals leave her to peace and do not stand in her way. The dusty road that runs between the river and the Owl House, is left deserted when the darkness descends. For Helen Martins yearns for her house, her yard, her world. And nothing can stop her from visiting it once again.

The owls wait for her. So do the rest of the figures in her Camel Yard. She created them in her mind and with the help of a friend, they were sculpted from cold, heavy cement. At night, when the cool Karoo air moves through the valley, they become alert, and wait. For when she comes, everything seems warm and virbant as she brushes past them. Her presence fills the yard and in the silence she talks to them, whispering, comforting them as she did many years ago. She polishes their glass eyes, their glass decorations. She touches the bottles, the cement, the wire, the cacti, the bricks, the stones, the water. If you listen very closely, you can hear the coffee mill creak and the glass rubble next to it, clinking softly, almost as if she‘s creating someting. This is the quiet, peaceful side of Helen Martins’ presence.

As her house has been a national monument for almost 20 years, it has to be protected and preserved in the exact state she left it in. Thus the doors of the Owl House are locked every day just before five. Helen never locked her doors. Her Owl House was never locked. She closed the door, and people knew well enough to leave her to peace while she spent her time grinding her precious glass and creating her yearning figures, most of them facing to her imaginary East. Since she has taken her own life and left her precious Owl House and this world for another, the house was locked. A concept not known to Helen, something that frightens her and causes her, even in her spirit-like state, to react bewildered, sad and sometimes highly disturbed.

Time stands still for Helen. She moves through the Camel Yard and most days it is as if she forgets that she can’t enter the house (although it would be possible for her to move through walls). She gets to the back door, turns the brass knob and when it refuses to open, a fear and state of panic overcomes her and she starts to weep uncontrollably. Some of the drunken, brave inhabitants of the village who has not feared to tread close to her sacred ground at night, have reported that they were stopped cold in their tracks by a heartbreaking, terrifying wail cutting through the air surrounding the Owl House. That would be Helen. Hating the world for locking her out of her precious house, and thus cutting her off from her light, her colours, her happiness - something she so often did with the rest of the world.

There has been times that she would unwillingly strike out at some of the figures close to the back door, sometimes injuring them, causing a piece or two to break off and heavily fall to the ground. The wailing would stop abruptly then, when she realises what she’s done. Tenderly, almost as if they’re alive, the pieces would be picked up by her, one by one, and arranged in order so that someone could repair it the next day.

The front steps and stoep of the house is kept clean and swept for visitors, but the front door kept locked, even during the day. Some mornings, it has been reported, there would be a few dusty footprints on the steps, following up to the door. Also, on various occasions in the winter, on colder, darker days, steam would appear on the windows, and handprints are spotted on the glass. Almost as if she is standing outside, looking in. How heartbroken Helen gets as she tries to see through the windows of her house. To see the glass interior, the various coloured walls, the mirrors, decorations, lamps, candles. How she yearns for the light it created and filled her with. Sometimes though, for brief moments in the summer, flickers of light through would catch her eye through the window when the sun catches a reflective object inside. If you were able to see her face, she would be smiling, remembering the days that have passed. But after a brief moment, her smile would be gone, as reality strikes and she sinks back into her huddled, troubled self.

After each visit shortly before she leaves, Helen would normally enter the Camel Yard one last time to bid farewell to all the figures permanently guarding her house, not knowing if she’ll ever be able to return to them again. And then, as if something is calling her, she’ll silently drift back to the riverbed, where she’ll become one with the reeds, the water, the darkness. Where she goes from there, no one knows.

After Helen Martins committed suicide, she was cremated. Her ashes were strewn over her Camel Yard, and it is there where she will always be in spirit. Maybe one day, after a last, longing visit to her beloved house, she’ll decide to rest.

Die Uilhuis

Die trae son laat gly sy lang, laatnamiddag-vingers rondom die oranje koppies, af, verder af in die stil vallei van Nieu-Bethesda. Dit streel oor ’n paar eensame skape, die kurkdroë hoofstraat, die toppe van langvergete bome. Dit raak-raak aan die daknokke van verweerde huisies, en filtreer deur die skadukolle wat geskep word deur oer-oue grafte aan die rand van die dorpie. Dit baai die vallei in ’n malse, warm dynserigheid en vir ’n oomblik talm dit, voordat dit stil-stil wegsink agter ’n koppie, terwyl dit die vallei agterlaat om in duisternis te hul.

Die aandskemer breek deur, en sy verskyn vanaf die rivier. ’n Geboë figuurtjie, byna-byna net ’n skaduwee. Haar voete raak nie aan die gruis waaroor sy haastig beweeg, nie. Die wat skat dat hulle haar gesien het, sê dat sy bevange, gejaag, en opgewonde voorkom. Sy beweeg vinnig, dog suutjies – wanneer jy besef dat jy haar opgemerk het, is sy alreeds weg. Die plaaslike inwoners laat haar met rus en is nie vir haar ’n struikelblok nie. Die stowwerige straatjie wat tussen die rivier en die Uilhuis loop, lê verlate en eensaam wanneer die duisternis neerdaal. Helen Martins hunker na haar huis, haar werf, haar wêreld. Niks en niemand kan haar keer om dit weer te besoek nie.

Die uile wag op haar. So ook al die ander figure in haar Kameelwerf. In haar bewussyn het sy hulle almal geskep, en met die hulp van ’n vriend is hulle gevorm vanuit koue, swaar sement. Snags, wanneer die koel Karoo-lug deur die vallei beweeg, skerp hulle op, en wag. Want wanneer sy kom, blyk alles warm en met lewenskrag gevul te wees terwyl sy verby hulle skuur. Haar teenwoordigheid vul die werf en in die stilte gesels sy met hulle, fluisterend, vertroostend, soos so baie jare gelede. Sy poets hulle glasoë, hulle glas-sierade. Sy raak aan die bottels, die sement, die draad, die kaktusse, die stene, die klippe, en die water. As jy fyn luister, kan jy die koffiemeul hoor kraak-en-kreun en die glasrommel daarnaas, kling-kling hoor klink, al asof sy besig is om iets te skep. Hierdie is die stil en vreedsame sy van Helen Martins se teenwoordigheid.

Aangesien haar woning ’n nasionale gedenkwaardigheid is vir bykans 20 jaar, moet dit beskerm en in stand gehou word in die presiese toestand soos wat sy dit agtergelaat het. Daarom word die Uilhuis se deure elke agtermiddag klokslag om vyfuur gegrendel, en mense weet beter om haar met rus te laat terwyl haar tyd verwyl word met die maal van haar kosbare glas en die skep van haar hunkerende figure, terwyl meeste staar in die rigting van haar denkbeeldige Ooste. Sedert sy haar eie lewe geneem het en haar kosbare Uilhuis en hierdie wêreld verlaat het vir ’n ander, is die huis gesluit. ’n Konsep waarmee Helen nie bekend was nie – dit is iets wat haar vreesbevange maak en veroorsaak dat sy, selfs in haar onstoflike staat, verwilderd, hartseer, en by tye ook hoogs ontstem reageer.

Vir Helen staan die tyd stil. Sy beweeg deur die Kameelwerf, en meeste dae is dit asof sy vergeet dat sy nie die huis meer kan betree nie (al is dit vir haar moontlik om deur die mure te beweeg.) Sy kom tot by die agterdeur, draai die geelkoperknop, en wanneer dit weier om oop te klik, oorval ’n toestand van vrees en paniek haar ... en begin sy onbedaarlik ween. ’n Paar van die beskonke, brawe inwoners van die dorpie wat dan nie bang was om te na aan haar gewyde grond in die aand te kom nie, meen te vertel dat hulle summier in hulle spore vassteek as gevolg van ’n hartverskeurende, vreesaanjaende weeklag wat dwarsdeur die lug rondom die Uilhuis, priem. Niemand anders as Helen nie. Terwyl sy die wêreld haat omdat dit haar uitsluit vanuit haar kosbare woning, en haar so afsny van al haar lig, haar kleure, haar geluk – iets wat sy tog so gereeld saam met die res van die wêreld gedoen het.

Daar was die kere dat sy onwillig geswaai het na sommige van die figure wat te na aan die agterdeur staan, en het hulle soms seergemaak, deur ’n brok of twee te laat afbreek wat swaar tot op die grond val. Dan hou die weeklag skielik op, en sy besef wat sy gedoen het. Met teerheid, amper asof hulle lewendig is, tel sy dan die brokstukke op, een vir een, en rangskik dit sodat iemand dit die volgende dag weer kan herstel.

Die trappies aan die voorkant en die stoep van die huis word skoon gehou en gevee vir besoekers, maar die voordeur bly toe, self gedurende die dag. Party oggende, so word vertel, mag daar ’n paar stowwerige voetspore op die trappies wees, wat boontoe lei tot teenaan die deur. Dan weer, by ander geleenthede, in die winter, tydens kouer, donkerder dae, mag stoom teenaan die ruite verskyn, en handmerke kan teenaan die glas gesien word. Byna asof sy van buite af, na binne loer. Hoe hartseer word Helen dan nie wanneer sy probeer om deur die vensters heen tot in haar huis in te sien nie. Net om weer die glas-interieur te kan aanskou, die verskillende gekleurde mure, die spieëls, versierings, lampe - die kerse. Hoe smag sy tog nie na die lig wat dit geskep het en haar binneste mee gevul het nie. Dog, soms, vir ’n paar vlietende oomblikke in die somer, sal ligstrale deurslaan en haar oog vang deur die venster wanneer die son ’n weerkaatsende objek aan die binnekant streel. Sou dit vir jou moontlik wees om haar gesig te kon sien, sou jy haar sien glimlag terwyl sy terugdink aan vervloë dae van lank gelede. Maar na ’n kortstondige oomblik sal haar glimlag verdwyn wanneer die werklikheid tot haar deurdring, en sy weer wegsink in haar ineengekrimpte, bekommerde self.

Ná elke besoek, net voordat sy vertrek, sal Helen oudergewoonte die Kameelwerf betree en vir ’n laaste maal al die figure, wat sonder ophou oor haar woning waak, vaarwel toeroep, omdat sy nie seker is of sy ooit weer na hulle sal kan terugkeer nie. En dan, so asof iemand na haar roep, dryf sy in stilte terug na die rivierbedding, en word één met die riete, die water, en die duisternis. Waar sy vandaar af verder gaan, is niemand seker nie.

Na Helen Martins se selfmoord, is sy veras. Haar as is gestrooi oor haar Kameelwerf, en dit is daar waar sy altyd en altoos in gees sal wees. Dalk, een dag, na ’n laaste, verlangende besoek aan haar geliefde woning, mag sy dalk besluit om tot rus te kom.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sarie Loveletter Competition

Yes, I'm in love and had a lot of inspiration for writing a loveletter for a writing contest that I've entered a few weeks ago. To my surprise they decided to pick me as one of the 20 finalists.. The recognition is fantastic! Herewith the letter, in my mother tongue, from my heart, and the link where it was published.

My Lief

As ek lewe in my pen se ink kon blaas, sou ’n vlamrooi voël stadig daaruit fladder tot op die spierwit papier. Sy sou haar amber vlerke oor die skoonwit bladsy sprei soos ’n waaier en skaam met haar kobaltblou-en-groen oë na die wêreld loer, terwyl sy stadig en gemaklik asemhaal met haar pruimpers, ronde bors wat geluidloos op en af beweeg. ’n Warm hart klop daar binne. Sterk. Aanhoudend.

So klop my hart vir jou, my lief, soos ’n helderkleurige, wilde, vrye dier. Trots, geheimsinnig, innig gelukkig.

Jou hart klop ook, en ek hoop dit klop net vir my. Vir nou, vir môre, vir altyd. Dit klop warm onder my vingers as ek aan jou raak en jy geniet elke oomblik van aanraking, amper net soos die blinkvet swart bondel-kat wat jy met soveel liefde vir my oor ’n Kersseisoen gaan haal het. Ek raak graag aan jou, al is dit nie in my natuur nie. ’n Dag sonder aanraking voel lank, koud, uitgerek, dreigend.

As daar spasie tussen ons is, raak ek aan jou met my oë wat liggies die lyn van jou oor, nek en skouer volg, af tot by jou borskas, jou voorarms, jou hande. Dan kan ek my die elektrisiteit voorstel wat tussen ons beweeg vanaf die heel eerste keer wat ons raak-naby mekaar was. Ek vang hierdie herinnering soos ’n helder insek en bottel dit in ’n glas-seepbel saam met al my breekbare dagdrome en steek dit diep in my hart in ’n geheime fluweelkis weg.

Jy skryf dat dit maklik is om vir my lief te wees en gee vir my ’n enorme muurhorlosie met skitterswart ure en arms wat geluidloos beweeg – toegedraai in silwer papier en seesout. Ons plant saam die battery in sy hart en dit lewe skielik, sekonde vir sekonde. Ons liefde is jonk en elke liewe sekonde saam met jou wil ek vasskryf, vasmaak, vasdroom, in my wese inbrand om dit nooit te vergeet nie.

Jy is man – manlik, beskermend, presies en begeerster met ’n stil energie wat my terselfdertyd troos, vertroetel, opgewonde maak, rustig maak. Jou hande is sag en jou aanraking warm, eerlik en lieflik, lyflik, lewendig.

Ek trek my rooi rok aan op Valentynsdag en ons dans in ’n natuurreservaat in ’n klipgebou, nie ver van die sandduine wat na slangbossie ruik nie. Die musiek is hard en die mense lag, maar al wat ek voel is jou warmte teen my. En dis of dit stil word as ek opkyk in jou blouste blou oë, want ek wil niemand anders hê nie, net vir jou.

Met jou hoef mens nie te vra nie. Alles wat ek in my diep vroue-hart begeer, bring jy vir my in klein geskenkies asof ek dit verdien. En ek is stilweg verslae en bang dat jy my dalk eendag nie meer gaan nodig hê nie. Ek leer jou steeds ken, elke dag iets nuuts, en net soos Margaret Atwood (Variations On The Word ‘Sleep’) wens ek stilweg vir ’n ewigheid van oomblikke saam met jou, by jou, teen jou: “I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary ...”

As ek die dag wankel en as my voete sleep, hou ek my binneste rustig deur na jou te luister as jy sê jy het my lief. Dan vou jou stem om my soos ’n sagte, donsige kombers op ’n nat reën-aand in 'n Stellenbosch-winter.

Jy is my dierbare man, my saghart-man, my verstaan-man, my vat-my-net-soos-ek-is-man, my niks-is-’n-probleem man. Ek is lief vir jou en jou naam pronk op my papawerrooi hart. Ek is joune, jy kan elke deeltjie van my kry.

In my drome bly vlieg my liefde in ’n vlamrooi voël met ’n pruimpers bors. En my hart klop net vir jou.

Jou liefding

J'ai arrive!

I've been gone too long, but I'm back.. baring gifts! Some of my favourite images at the moment. Sit back, let your imagination run wild & enjoy....