June 29, 2008

Making me laugh.

In spite of some modern buildings and cars, visiting Yemen is like stepping into the past. During an evening walk at twilight the only lights shone from behind colored glass windows high in the three story buildings of Sana'a. The houses are tall giving a contemporary look from afar but as you get closer a beauty all their own becomes apparent. The elaborate friezes, the carved frames and stained glass windows transport you to another world.

I wandered through San'a with some new friends. Dutch women, who else? Wherever you go in the world, there is sure to be a group of Dutch women right ahead of you.

We crossed the bridge into the fortified inner city and bought the necessities for the coming weeks. It was hard enough to find what we needed in Sana'a, the capital, so we could only imagine what the other cities would be like. We bought biscuits, and La Vache qui Rit cheese that would keep and other odds and ends that had been forgotten and might be needed.

The bazaar offered many things that we didn't need, but bought anyway. I ended up with an alarm clock that instead of ringing sounded, "Allah Akbar", right on the dot. It was made of hideous pink plastic in the form of a mosque that closely resembled a birthday cake. Pop Art in its purest form.

People all over the world are friendly. It is fear or xenophobia that prevents us from seeing this. The young man in this picture was trying to make me smile - and he succeeded.

Arabica Felix

In August of 1997, we were in the pool on a hot Arizona night with a drink and talking about things in general as we touched on the topic of travel. We always talked much and often. Not only were we married, we also worked together and especially when living in an area where we had to make new friends, we were also each others companion in practically everything we did.

Pieter would be sailing a regatta off the coast of Sri Lanka in September with some friends from Holland. He had sailed Catamaran for several years now and he was looking forward to doing it in another exotic location with his sailing buddies. He asked me what I intended to do. I said, 'I would like to see Yemen', not quite being serious and basing my travel destination on a recently read article in a magazine.

In November Pieter was no longer there, and I had no idea what to do with my life. I had traveled to Europe twice in a 6 week period. Nothing seemed to bring relief. It had nothing to do with location or whom I had around me. I carried grief within me and it seemed to have attached itself to me with a thousand greedy, grabbing hands. Nothing seemed to matter. I had no interest in life in general. I was running away from anything and everything with nowhere to go. All I wanted perhaps was to hurt more than I was hurting already, almost like scratching a mosquito bite till it bleeds. Not relieving the itch but adding pain.

On the spur of the moment I booked a ticket to Yemen. I hardly recognized my picture on my visa. There was something wrong with the eyes. The mouth smiled, but the eyes were empty and lifeless. I looked scary, but then again everything looked scary to me at that time and little did I care.

And so I went on my walkabout through Yemen, a little crazy in the head perhaps, hoping to find something close to purgatory, hoping that I would feel something worse than what I was feeling already so that what I was feeling would go away. Hoping that I would enter a world that would make me forget the world I lived in.

June 22, 2008

So totally me!

Nothing much has changed. I still wear cheesy hats and aprons.

I would say 44 Floss Street, but I could be wrong. The address was drilled into my head. ‘Where do you live?’, ‘44 Floss Street’. Just in case I decided to pack my bag and leave home I suppose. Floss Street was in Kensington. Not London, but Johannesburg. Our house stood on a ridge of a hill and the ‘pass’ made of flagstones, ran by our house, all the way into Bez (Bezuidenhout) Valley. That is how I remember it.

If you stood in our back garden you could see all the way down to where the pass met the road in the valley. In between there was veld and rocks. Sometimes, when the idea struck us, my grandmother would pack a little lunch for us, our ‘padkos’, travel food and walk halfway down the pass, choose a flat stone to sit on and eat our lunch. We would take Rex, our dog with us and pretend we were far from home. A little adventure; I liked adventures, I still do.

This is possibly the only photo that exists of me cleaning a car. I think that the experience didn’t make it to my list of favorite activities. However the pinafore became part of the wardrobe. I sew my own. Not very well, but aprons are not a fashion item so I get away with it. I remember all my aunts and grandmother wore aprons when cooking or cleaning. My mother was not into aprons. They do tend to make you look a little slovenly.

We all lived together in this large house overlooking the valley, seven adults and Elsje. A year or so later my parents and I moved to our own home. Seemed very quiet to me.

Our Christmas holidays were usually spent in Durban, down on the coast in Natal. The whole family would pack up and spend a couple of weeks there. This one year I went with my grandparents, aunts and uncle but my parents didn’t join us. I knew my mother was expecting a baby and when I returned home there he was. Things were not so quiet anymore. So much better.

A while ago, Kristy, Rosie, Marco and I went to Mexicali for a really delicious breakfast and on the way back at a gas station I saw a hat that probably no one else would buy. A floppy, straw, little bucket shaped thing, and I averted my eyes, just in case temptation got the better of me. As we were nosing around the store, the others saw it too and decided that it was totally me. I wear my little straw hat often and I so agree, it’s totally me.

June 15, 2008

Mud walls.

The walls of my courtyard are starting to look African and just wait and see what I am going to do to them next. My own little piece of Africa right here in the Desert Southwest. The color on your monitor may not be an exact match to the warm, deep ochre as they are when I look out my window. I took the pictures late in the evening because it was so hot today (44 degrees C) and it still is, but in some strange way I like the hot summers here.

The harsh light at midday reminds me of the Sheltering Sky, by Bernardo Bertolucci, a film I have never quite forgotten from the early 90's. Perhaps that's what has shaped my idea for my wall.

Have I become a mother?

When I decided to take a dog I was convinced that a dog is a dog, not a little hairy human with an overactive tongue who likes to spread gob all over you whenever possible. I am not her ‘Mommy’. If she was my offspring she would not be as sleek and delicately built as she is. She would not have a short-haired coat that always looks trim and groomed. She would probably look a lot more like a red (L'Oreal Number 26), out of shape Lab, huffing and puffing while the silver ghost sprints by at the speed of light.

My dog and I are simply not a visual match.

Today we went to a Dog Pool Party and Athena immediately found the steps of the pool and if I threw a ball she would get in, swim and retrieve the ball, drop it at my feet and we would start all over again. All very genteel, just the way she likes it. As time went by more dogs joined the party and soon it was all just one big and continuous splash, water and dogs everywhere.

After a little while, I noticed that Athena was the only dry dog there. Even the jittery little poodle energetically made wild dashes and launched herself straight into the water to grab a ball. Every time Athena made a move to go down the steps there was either a dog going in or coming out and she looked back at me anxiously, trying to telepathically communicate, ‘make them go away’ with that goofy look she has when she stresses.

Suddenly I realized that she reminded me of myself as a child, a little timid, somewhat shy, and certainly not a boisterous pool bomber. ‘I wish they would get out of the way’, I could see in the bubble over her head.

There I was, looking back at my mother; not bold enough to push my way through the other children to claim my space. My mother could probably read the bubble over my head too, feeling as powerless as I did now.

For the first time in my life I felt what other mothers must feel and it took me totally by surprise that I felt so protective. I glowered at a rowdy dog that made enormous belly flops and was not being careful at all by landing right on Athena’s head. ‘That’s my baby, you bully! Stay away from her’, the bubble over my head said.

The pool party has set me thinking however. Did I teach my long-legged pup to be so prissy and cautious or is she like this by nature? Is the bubble over my telling her to always wear flip flops in hotels and never sit down on unfamiliar toilet seats? Worst of all, have I finally turned into a doggy Mommy?

June 14, 2008

Casting shadows in the light.

Look what I bought for the courtyard! They were made by Lisa Furner of Mariposa Avenue in Salt Lake City. They are number 10 recycled food cans in which she cuts holes and are then powder-coated. Mine are in a rich bronze color and cast a beautiful patterned shadow on the wall when its dark.

June 7, 2008


Writing a blog presents one with a whole new set of questions. Why do I write? Does anyone out there read my blog? Is everyone out there reading my blog? Also the people who I don't want to read my blog?
Did my friends really mean it when they said, we know nothing about your life? Why don't I write them letters anymore? Am I the only one I know who doesn't watch TV and so has time to write? What do I write about?

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Ben Franklin

My answer lies in the above.

Since I have started writing my blog I feel far more connected to the people I know. I enjoy sharing the perhaps insignificant things that are important to me. I have a need to communicate and even this one way exchange allows me to experience my life differently. Not in a deep way, but it is still meaningful enough to give an enhanced pleasure in the things that make up the fabric of my day to day life. The writing inspires me to do things that are perhaps worth writing about.

I have dreams and aspirations to fulfill, interests, travels, hobbies, books, music to experience so that I can share what impresses, astounds, amazes and stirs me.

I hope you stay with me on this incredible journey called 'life'.

(Photo: A little Platespinner and Table Mountain, Cape Province)

June 5, 2008

Frances wins the California Staffing Professional 2008 Award.

You can believe that I am as proud as punch that Frances, our El Centro Branch Manager has been awarded the California Staffing Professional of the Year 2008 for Southern California. Everyone who knew about her nomination and that she was the winner (including Erik, her husband) managed to keep it a secret from Frances. When her picture came up on the large screen, Frances blinked, realized what was happening and gave me a little slap on my arm. As she stood in front of the audience holding her trophy some hoots of joy and shouts of victory caught her attention. The little group in the back making a lot of noise were Judie and Nydia, two of her staff members, Rosie, Kristy and Marco from Head Office and of course, Erik her husband.

Frances and I stayed for the rest of the convention and had a really nice evening at our hotel, the Hilton Resort in San Diego. The Austrian chef of the restaurant served the most delicious dishes and we had a perfect view on Mission Bay while we watched the fireworks. ate and chatted (we are both very good at that).


Related Posts with Thumbnails