Thursday, July 28, 2011


I read an explanation of the word SHALOM once. It was, 'nothing broken, nothing missing.'
I always remember that, when interpreting it the more common way, Peace.

I watched 'Eat, Pray , Love,' again the other day. There is a scene with the Elizabeth character, in Italy. She is with her somewhat frightening, brusque and honest new Italian landlady. The lady is outspoken, and decidedly disapproving of Elizabeth when she says softly that , No, she has no husband, that she is, in fact,  divorced. After a few more broken English questions to her about her divorce, Elizabeth quietly admits, 'We broke it..'

We broke it.
Any divorced person knows that there are few things in life as broken as a divorce. Shattered, messy, scattered,destroyed..done.

I love it when scenes in films get played backwards. When, for example, a child dives back up, from the deep water, up, up, through the air, back up to the diving board.
Or, when the many shattered shards of a piece of precious porcelain gather themselves together from their watery puddle on the floor, and gather that puddle back into their belly, and then, reformed now, as a pretty painted jug, they travel upward through the air, to be clenched again (obviously not well enough, not tightly enough) into some delicate ladies hand.

I wish some things had never been broken.
At nearly fifty I wonder if it could have been possible to keep more things whole, in one piece.
I watched something on YOU tube that explained (quantum physics, I believe) that there is a theory that everything started out the size of one (maybe green) pea.

There was a Princess once who knew the power of one tiny pea.

I rather like the thought of a play backwards of the moment of creation, of all of us and the cities and the seas and the planets all zooming inward and squeezing down to fit in, cosily all inside each other....

To me God IS the Big Bang.
Or maybe He is the Pea.

He is a lot of other things too.

But the most comforting thing to me right now, as I survey, from a great height, another broken scattering on the floor of my life is...
That He is surely SHALOM, or one small pea, containing all the pieces.
Healed and whole.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


 I have been away from home for a long time. Five weeks. To me, that is a long time. Long enough that when I opened the door of my home and walked inside, and sniffed the air, it smelled different, not like me/us any more.

The cups and plates and cushions and other things were in different places and spaces and it felt like someone elses' house. It took me a while to settle back in.

Still, I was happy to be home. Very happy. My dogs were happy, one thinner, one fatter. They were both strangely subdued. And so was I.
It took me a few days to make one decision. And this was it.
Time to commit.

Commitment and I have a long history.
The thing is - I seem to do it. But actually I don't.

One of the first things we did when back in the Garden Route was to take a young nineteen year old Dutch boy bungy jumping.
He wanted to do it. He booked a jump as early in the morning as he could. He hesitated only because he did not understand the instructions to jump. They were in Afrikaans. And there was music playing. Loudly. Even we could hear it, from the viewing station across the gorge. He was on the curve of the arch beneath the bridge. The highest bungy jump in the world.
I suppose they play the music to help the jumper. Similar music is played in clubs in Amsterdam. Here it beat out along the fynbos covered ravine running beneath the bridge and out towards the river sky sea.

When he jumped I screamed. He, was silent. He said he was aware of the air rushing passed his ears. Silent.
That's commitment.
You make a decision and you do it.
No turning back.

I have moved over fifty two times since I was eighteen. I think that might be a world record.
My children have moved about fifteen times. They are grumpy about it - but I am not very sympathetic, really. I tend to hold the view that not moving and staying in one place is only the accepted thing because most Western people do it.

So I tell my children that they could have been the children of:
- the touareg (my daughter retorts that at least the tent would have stayed the same - and all your friends travel with you.. and the desert is the same just about, wherever you go...)
- yachties (same argument more or less, the same boat, the same sea...)
- the maasai, who have no respect for borders, but only for lions, and own nothing but a stick and some pretty impressive beadwork ( the retort to this, from my son, is that the masai have sold their souls for wristwatches and photograph money and would probably live in a house in a security complex these days, if they could..)
- circus people (a friend pointed out that maybe, to them, we ARE circus theres a thought - the juggling, tightrope walking, performing dogs, clowning....hhmmm)

But even circus people settle down eventually. Retire- to some caravan in a field where they let the grass grow up around its wheels. And yachties possibly throw the anchor one last time, or move into an upside down boat that they make into a home, maybe, complete with chimney. I'm not sure about the tuoareg, or the maasai, but their lifestyles are endangered and the lure of the west is getting to them too.
Which leaves us.

Moving is tiring, and the temptation to follow our noses over the next hill or beyond the next bend in the road is loosing its appeal.

Bungy jumping is expensive, but worth it I am told.
So here goes.
Lets stay!

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Books and Horses

I wrote a book a while ago. I haven't done anything with it since I wrote it. I wasn't sure why until I met with a writer/editor friend the other day.

I met her in a cosy restaurant on the edge of the horsey set. I like it because people(women mostly) trudge through with manure and mud still on their boots. They have riding hat hair, and horse neck grime under their finger nails, from holding the reins against sweaty damp horse necks.

I have always been a great horse lover. My parents let me learn to ride a horse, but not a bike. Our road was too busy, they said. I nearly broke my neck on a horse a couple of times.
Its a while since I rode a horse. I lived in Greyton for a time and rode with a group of women, all, like me then, in their early forties. They all fell off, one by one, until it was only me left. They broke arms, collarbones, and fractured a skull. I decided, if I was next, I might kill myself. I stopped. But I regret it. At the time I thought I still had children to raise. Indeed I did, but life is risky nevertheless, and so you may as well ride, ride - the world is wide.

I was always a bit of a daredevil on horseback. There is a famous story in my family of me taking off with the Xhosa groom over the Katberg mountains on one of our family holidays. I do remember him daring me to race - he was on a naughty pony, and me on a horse sick to death of carrying tourists, no  doubt. I think I lost control. I remember  dodging overhead branches, but clinging on while the groom beat me, anyway.

I can still feel the elation of galloping, standing up in the saddle, leaning forward, hearing the wind in the horses nostrils. Great. I would like to feel that again - but I think I have become a real scaredy cat, the thing I have always despised above all else.

So, I like driving the roads of the mink and manure set. I love pausing for riders and their large rumped, sashaying tailed mounts, trotting on the side of the road. I love the the tap tapping crop and clicking tongue riders, with matching blonde swaying ponytails and straight up down backs.
It's a treat to meet at the horsey deli, then, to discuss the publishing , or not, of my first book.

Officially, actually, its not my first. I wrote another one years ago, locked into a centrally heated flat in the dark of northern England one dismal bleak winter. But thats another story.
This second first one was a sort of rewrite of that other one, a sort of gathering together of pages of scribblings from piles of moleskins, printouts, tapestry,tie dyed,pretty printed covered books that I have lugged around with me, for years.
It feels like that, like a shedding of skins and skins. like a lizard

My friend was marvelously helpful, basically giving me permission to leave the manuscript in a drawer and move on, for now, to my second book, which is, well, champing at the bit, to be written.

Its like a wild horse, a new book.
Like a herd of wild horses.
Like a herd of wild horses all tossing their manes and neighing and stamping and pawing the air to be let free.

Its terrifying though.
They feel impossible to ride.
So, I suppose I'll just let them go and watch for a while.
New books and horses are like that. To me anyway.
Never totally under control.