threads of life

I have started getting writing pieces together for a PhD in  Social Anthropology including pieces that I have written over the past 16 years while working in HIV and AIDS. Part of me thinks this is a crazy idea. Working full time and being a mom to a 3 and a 5 year old and blogging and making accessories is already enough...

But somehow the threads of what we end up doing are in there from the beginning.

I tell myself I am OK with this taking 20 years or so and then it doesn't seem so bad.


Grandpa Alfred's things

I have only a few things that belonged to grandpa Alfred who also fled Nazi Germany:
A travel journal written in German pre- 1930

The remnants of a poker set:

The remants of some bottles that may have kept aftershave.

I love these things.


things i'm grateful for this birthday and in genl

Vicky Sleet from http://www.iwantthat.co.za/ has made 2011 resolutions about gratitude and I second that.
Here's my current list.

1. The doc. He believes in goodnight and good morning kisses; makes a PERFECT cup of coffee and a remarkable tomato soup; he is good at putting the littlies to bed. Most important he loves me for what I am good at rather than resents what I am not.
2. Leila. She is accurate; pure-ist; creative; funny and doesn't miss anything
3. Kiki. She is whimsical; hugely loving and generous; passionate and friendly
4. I have a job which is meaningful and helps make the world a better place. It is not about materialism.
5. The friends I can count on 1 hand who can call me and I them at 3am no matter what
6. Blogland and tweeples
7. AIDS treatment is getting better and better
8. My beloved delicious soft gourgeous and divine cat Giji
9. Green spaces in the city and Cape Town
10. The endless supply of vintage clothes and crockery that I keep finding for a STEAL


Life Chapters

Do you ever name the chapters in your life? I do this all the time for different versions of my "life book." in my head. 

Chapter 1: How to survive being an Air sign baby in a house with 3 Fire signs

Chapter 2: Girls will be girls. Learn to do Psycho-Judo.

Chapter 3: How not to get arrested when the country is burning.

Chapter 4: How to handle a toga party.

Chapter 5: The value of Satnislavski and Jung

Chapter 6: How to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS in SA

Chapter 7: How to fall pregnant when the usual way doesn't work

Chapter 8: How to be a smiling working mother

Chapter 9: Chase some dreams while you still can.

I saw that a recent Oprah mag can teach me how to write the next chapter. Can't wait.

Tell me the names of you chapters


Granny Suze's things

Today was the first day of school for my littlies. Phew!

Next week is my birthday. My gran's birthday was on the same day. This will be the first one since she has died. In the buildup I wanted to do a post focusing on some more of her things which I cherish.

These are granny Suze's chairs that travelled all the way from Nazi germany, now covered in Heather Moore's Skinny Laminx Cows.

And her esquisite bag:

And one beautiful tea cup I use to have my morning tea which the wonderful Doc brings me always with a funny comment like: "The cheque's in the mail" or "Goeie more my vrou"' or "Ladies and gentlemen Miss Grace Jones"

He is funny that way.

Love having her things...


The things parents SHOULD train for

These are the things one should end up training for in addition to birthing classes:

1. Untying the teeniest tiniest knots in the teeniest Polly Pocket dolls' hair - about 2 years of practice before they are 5 (you only have 5 mins).

2. Finding a needle in a haystack or a Polly Pocket shoe the size of a pin head in a MESSY house when it could be anywhere. The training for this must be done with a stop watch to improve your time, while still keeping calm and there must be a soundtrack of increasingly louder screaming as you search for it. You can't practice this in your 2 room flat, you need a big space to practice in like the Cape Town Convention Centre and it could be anywhere.

3. To practice not going red in the shopping centre when something embarrassing happens like your kid says, "Mom why don't you dance around to your cell phone music ringing like you do at home? "Or telling a complete stranger that the car guard was angry with mom because he didn't think the 2 rand she gave him was enough: You need to wear totally see through clothes and have someone drench you. Cold water is best as you can practice looking non plussed when you are actually take -your- breath -away- shocked. And, it is great practice not to feel embarrassed about things being spilled on the floor.

4. To practice not being embarrassed about plates or glasses breaking in public eateries, go to a restaurant with your partner and throw a couple of plates on the floor and see how they treat you and charm your way through it on 3 hours sleep.

5. Get into bed with nice laundered crisp white sheets and duvet. Get your partner to wake you at 1am; 3 am; 5 am and pour half  a bottle of milk on your sheets and pillow each time and see if you change the sheets each time or just put a towel on it and change the sheets in the morning. 

6. Run a bath and fill it with squeezy bath toys. Get your partner to sing " The wheels on the bus go round and round" no less than 10 times while you try and wash your hair, brush your teeth, exfoliate your face in 15 mins. Your partner must not let you have 1 mins piece while all this is going on especially if you need the toilet during this exercise.  It is very important that the song be sung over and over again. If you beg for mercy, ensure your partner makes the singing gets louder and louder.

7. You need to get dressed for work in the morning INCLUDING applying eye liner and sun screen without getting your work clothes messy while having a baby orangutan around your neck the entire time, who is eating a honey and peanut butter sandwich. Special deal with Monkey World on Orangutan hire if you quote the name of this blog.

8. This is a Memory test that I will give you. There are 30 kids in the class. You need to not only remember the children's names, but also the names of the moms, the nannies, the grannies and the au pairs who sometimes fetch them from day care and work out a clever way to save them all in your cell phone/ BB/ I -phone.

9. Get your dog or cat to eat broccoli AND peas instead of meat or pellets repeatedly every day for 2 years.

10. Make your cat or dog get into a drawer (like a bed) over and over again ten times a night without getting angry.

But what you won’t need to practice is being grateful despite all this. It will come naturally.


antique photo booth

Have you checked out this cool site that turns your photos into antique looking shots?

Ma and my baby in our matching vintage seersucker dresses out for a sunday cycle.

Gangstas and Geishas party pic

I was the only gal gansta. My sisters were just exquisite.


Things this working mom needs RIGHT NOW

So most of you know that I have to be at work from 8h30 - 16h30 with a half hour lunch break.

I have 2 little kids who phone me and  ask for things like "patterned ribbon" at 11h00 in the morning when I am work (not expensive; not that difficult to find if you know your way around the haberdashery dept. as I do, but impossible to produce on a work day if I don't have any).  And if I go buy 10 types on the way home today so that "I'm organized" for tomorrow, that won't help because tomorrow they will want polly pocket koala bears at 11am.

Similarly I have the problem with finding time for shopping, or "maintenance"

And there are a million other things I need to do which I can't do because I am at work.

So this is my wish list, tailored to my circumstances:

1. Travelling oral hygienist who brings an i-pod and foot massager while my teeth get sorted in my lunch hour.

2. Hair salon at work that I breeze into (a la Oprah) which would enable me not to do my hair prior to work (make up as well - too much to ask?)

3. Travelling botox technician who charges R25 a shot (I have never had Botox so maybe I don't understand why its worth it yet), but I do have lines.

4. Shake on (like talcum power) cover the grey hair powder - in complex shades such as Betty Draper season 2 blonde.

5. My own dress maker (again at work) who I visit on my lunch break and whose room has hundereds of samples and materials and who understands my code: e.g. (again) Betty Draper season 2 decending the stairs to the ball room blue and the same puff of the skirt. Oh, she knows my sizes so I never have to be measured.

6. A cook who is affordable, cooks healthy food and gets my children to eat healthily (bwahahaha) and could she/he also brag to those people who criticize this aspect of my parenting

7. Again a travelling plastic surgeon guy to do a boob lift, tummy suck, lipo on legs and nose job all in a lunch hour.

8. A speech writer/ briefer to make me sound clever n' cultured e.g. :" I'm re-connecting with the inner city movement at the moment in preparation for the art biennale" ; " I think that Sarah Palin's use of the term blood libel attempted to draw a parallel between her situation and that of Jews victimized by anti-semites, when it is the Arizona victims who should be central to the discussion".

9. A PAUSE button that I press when I come home from work to my hungry stomache, shrieking kids and a husband who wants me to look at maths calculations; science articles; architetect plans etc etc. I get in the bath and relax until I am ready to unpause.

10. A person who co-ordinates me having divine teas with me friends at my home on a regular basis and reminds me of what I really want to be doing with my time.

Anyone up for doing any of this?


Hands up who likes a papsmear? No? This is how to make it better!

Womens' Health Wednesdays are back.

The Doc kicks of 2011 with the “dreaded” Pap smear:
Cervical cancer is the most common cause of death due to cancer among South African women. But cervical cancer usually takes 10-20 years to develop and, if detected early, can be fully excised and eliminated.
Most cases of cervical cancer occur in women in their 40s & 50s, with less than 10% of cases occurring before the age  of 30 years.
The Pap smear test (named after Papanicolaou who introduced it) is a screening test used by gynaecologists to detect pre-malignant changes in the cervix.
The objective is early detection of abnormalities, so that these can be treated and/or eliminated before cancer develops.

Screening Guidelines
Women are advised to commence screening within a three years of becoming sexually active, because cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) which is sexually transmitted.
 Guidelines on frequency of screening vary – but screening every 2  years in low risk woman is adequate.
 If a woman has an abnormal smear, she will be advised to return after 6 months and, depending on the result, may require further in-depth inspection of the cervix (with colposcopy).
Previously abnormal smears are then followed up annually for at least 3 years.
Women over the age of 30 who have had three consecutive “normal” Pap smears can then wait three years between smears. If a woman’s last three Pap smears are normal then she can stop screening at the age of 65.
The procedure:
In order to perform a Pap smear, the cervix (or mouth of the womb) needs to be visualized. After passing a speculum into the vagina, the doctor then uses a brush or spatula to take cells from the transformation zone of the cervix.
 These cells are then preserved and transported to a cytologist to be evaluated under a microscope. Cells are evaluated for various degrees of  abnormality, as well as evidence of infection. A grading system is used to report on the findings and according to these findings, the woman will either be advised to continue with routine screening or have a repeat smear in 6 months.
If the follow-up smear remains abnormal, then colposcopy may be indicated (colposcopy is a procedure where the cervix is “painted” & then inspected directly under a magnifying-glass to observe any abnormalities).
When you go for a Pap smear you should advise your doctor if you:
·         Are taking any medications or birth control pills
·         Have had an abnormal Pap smear
·         Might be pregnant
Within 24 hours of the test, avoid:
·         Douching
·         Having intercourse
·         Using tampons
Many women find the Pap smear extremely uncomfortable.
There are a few tips to make the experience more manageable:

·         Empty your bladder before you have a Pap

·         Ask the doctor to use an appropriately sized speculum that is warm

·         Ask the doctor to use ample lubricant and not to rush the procedure*

·         If you are sensitive, consider taking a simple analgesic or anti-inflammatory beforehand

·         Most women tell me they are so embarrassed that they try not to talk to the doc.  It is much better to screw your courage to the sticking post and say: “ I would like this to be as painless as possible. Please use sufficient lubrication  and don’t go to quickly”

·         Do not be shy about telling your doctor if it is hurting!

·         Even if it hurts, it has to be done to prevent cancer.  YOU are worth the brief pain. Don’t avoid it.

You should avoid scheduling a Pap smear when you are menstruating, as the blood from the uterus will affect the accuracy of the test.
The Pap smear result should be available within a few days to a week at most.

If there are abnormalities, your doctor may suggest doing an HPV test, to detect the presence of high-risk HPV infection. The absence of HPV infection is reassuring, while the presence of high-risk HPV infection may lead to further investigation (with colposcopy).


vintage sewing gear

When I sew I use all my gran's ribbons and buttons and needles and cotton. I love the feeling of time catapulting through space through objects that carry meaning. Image from http://www.chronicvintage.blogspot.com/

This is her jar of buttons that I have added to.

This is her tin and some of her old braces, fake pearls, fatseners together with ebony and ivory ribbons.

I am making bunting for my daughter's birthday party and I'll post when its finished.


Gabrialskloof Love

We were lucky enough on our little holiday to visit the magnificent Botriver wine farm, Gabrielskloof, which has a winning combination:  a magnificent setting that is child friendly; beautiful architecture; a 5 star restaurant yet affordable, and  of course perfect wines.

"'In 2001, general manager and viticulturist Barry Anderson passed on his passionate belief in the potential of the land to Bernhard Heyns....In 2009 award-winning winemaker Kobie Viljoen joined the team to make the debut vintage.... The GabriĆ«lskloof team is united in their obsession with making top-notch, well-priced wines that showcase the spirit of the Bot River region".

The restaurant food is out of this world. Owners Frans Groenewald and Juan van der Westhuizen "are passionate about everything local and source...produce from neighbouring towns and villages. Stop by for a hearty breakfast before a morning of wine tasting; or while away a leisurely afternoon on the stoep".

The Heyns's dogs, sometimes in attendance are an absolute attraction for the kids - the beautiful Lucy and Beppe - as was the dress up box. And the generous couches on the large stoep lend themselves to a a late afternoon story or two.

Thanks for a magnificent afternoon!
Tel: 028 284 9865
Fax: 028 2849864

Tasting room manager: Nicolene Heyns  nicolene@gabrielskloof.co.za


Is watching (Deadwood) cowboys anti-feminist?


I wrote my Masters thesis on writer Sam Shepard's negative potrayal of women - how the male cowboy heroes  projected all that was "holding them back from freedom" on to women.

This from my thesis:

“One of the myths that Shepard is devoted to representing is that of the Great Western Frontier, where cowboys were supposedly able to roam free… He has said ‘Cowboys are really interesting to me – these guys, most of them really young, about 16 or 17, who decided they didn’t want to have anything to do with the East Coast, that way of life, and took on this immense country, and didn’t have any real rules’”.

In Shepard's writing everything to do with "civilization"; rules etc is connected to women in a highly negative way.

My (male) friend and I were discussing whether I should watch  and more importantly - would I be able to enjoy? -"Deadwood" (all about cowboys) . He said, "You are going to love the cowboys from an aesthetic point of view, you will love the writing and acting, but the misogeny will make you stop watching. The only women in it are whores who are written from a negative perspective".

If one is a feminist would it be possible to enjoy it?

We talked about whether dramas like this - no matter how authentic and awesome the set; costume design; script and acting - perpetuate negative stereotypes of women (and glorify the men who do it, potentially encouraging ng modern day men aspire to some of that behavior - e.g bad boys weekends etc.) or whether the makers "innocently" (?) just reflect the way it was.

Not really comparable but arguably Mad Men makes smoking look cool, yet we know about Cancer. Do we smoke more because of it?

It's an age old question. Can art merely reflect? Does it have to have a conscience? What are we creating in our world? Does portraying it inspire people to behave well or not? Is that good or bad?

What do you think? Is (just) watching Deadwood anti-feminist? And is liking parts of it?

I suppose the answer is to create more cowgirl stories and combine the "freedom" with the feminism.

Look what Miss Moss found:

Besides gourgeous Liz (who is acting), look at these working cow gals - every bit as capable (and sexy?) as the men and looking good while doing it.

Which feminists have seen it it? Do I give it a try?


Stanford Love

Posted by PicasaIt is difficult NOT to fall completely in love with the little Overberg village of Stanford.

The top picture is on The Robert Stanford Wine Estate at Madre's Kitchen Restaurant - what wonderful food and a glorious setting! 

The estate was set up in 1855 and wine has been produced here since the 1890s. The estate boasts an environmentally friendly approach to farming (having received an award from the Kleinrivier Conservancy) "which ensures that the more than 200 Fynbos species, abundant wildlife and vineyards can thrive together in harmony". www.overbergwine.com

The Sauvignon Blanc from the estate is the dryest of the dry - superb. Besides wine tatsing (including Grappa tatsing and the chance of a swing on a delicious love seat), the flower garden is whimsical.  

If you haven't been before, do yourself a favour and make a day of it - sublime for the whole family! It's the perfect wedding venue as well, I think.

And of course a Stanford soujourn  is incomplete without a journey on the river:

It was a bit tough going with vintage oars and a strong current!

But what fun.

Also wonderful  and in the area is the Kleinrivier Cheese farm with glorious award winning cheese varieties, a wonderful kids's playground and lots of farm animals to befriend.http://kleinrivercheese.co.za

For chillier days such as the one on which we visited the farm, they have lots of blankets. We holed up in a tent and read our favourite Astrid Lindgren stories of the 6 Bullaby Children (she who wrote Pippi Longstocking).

And you have to pop in to "Graze"...

We love you Stanford. See you soon X