Thursday, June 28, 2012

Little Elbows That Go Bump In The Night

Literally months have passed (yet again) since I last managed to write. 2012 seems determined to keep me on a delinguistification diet, leaving me aching with nerdy hunger for words, sentences, commas and question marks. I've gone so far as hunting for a torch to take with me to bed so I could sneak in a few seductive pages from my much-thumbed, underlined thesaurus under my duvet. Like a teenage boy with his first, um... magazine, I suppose.
There've been many moments when I try and reschedule my life around writing and creating in my studio, but which always seem to come to a very frustrated naught. Option 1: Stay up after the Wild Little Night Owl has gone to bed and write the night away? Has it happened even once? 'Nope,' she admits, sheepishly and slightly a-blush. And why not, Lisa? 'Because I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep 5 - 8 sentences into Layla's bedtime story so that she elbows me awake with a bossiness as sharp as her elbows, 'Now tell the story, Mommy. Now!'
My Write More Plan's second option has also proved exquisitely unattainable: 'Get up at 5am to write before Layla wakes up.' But.................... 99% of words elude me at 5am, you see. Except the following words:
1. coffee
2. warm
3. coffee
4. snuggle
5. coffee.
Oh yes ---- and, there is a semi-sentence I am capable of thinking/uttering at 5am: 'kill gun shoot &*%^%$# hadedas!!!!!!'

And so, I have resorted to abusing Pixar as the ultimate in babysitting. Thanks to 'Madagascar', 'Megamind' and 'Monsters Inc' I am now able to steal back little pockets of time to fill with luxurious Belgian chocolate cookie-words... Let's see if tomorrow will yield another pocket to fill. (*wink*)
PS. The pic is of my sister, Julie, and I at an amazingly inspiring fundraising event we attended a few weeks ago which I will be writing about um, ... tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trumpets & Snowballs

{ Blogging on the run.} Cafe: 'The Vineyard Deli' in Kenridge just a stone's throw from Layla's lovely little playschool. Blackest, luxuriously bitter Lavazza, and a new novel: 'The Enchantress of Florence' by Salman Rushdie. (I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm a Rushdie-virgin... And reading is SUCH a rare treat for me, so I may as well read something rich in poetry and makes-one-think beauty.) However, getting time to write is just as rare a jewel, so I've split my little hour of solitude into 2 half-hour pockets. Reading? Tick. Writing? In progress.

This morning, I hurried off to Tygerberg Hospital's Dental Clinic --- in particular, the paediatric ward. With a boot full of toys and books Layla's outgrown, I felt elationjoygratitudewonder. And perhaps a small pat on my back from myself. It's unavoidable, I suppose, that giving to others will make one feel good about oneself. But still, feeling good about it made me feel a twinge of embarrassment. The Bible's instructions surrounding giving to others says we should keep it from others. That no trumpets be blown. (Guess I've gone and blown that commandment *no pun intended*!!) But still, I feel that just SOMETIMES, hearing about how the compassionate service and generous giving of others changes the lives of the broken, helpless and hopeless, is important. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it is critically important. Loving goodness is humanity's core function. Society only BENEFITS from loving goodness --- that is: courage, joy, pursuing peace, compassion, active kindness, empathy, humility and honesty. Gratitude for what one has, and lovingly generous 'giving' to others generates more gratitude and more generosity. A reverse snow-ball effect, if you will. (The flip-side of this is that dishonesty, greed and self-pity generates snowballs too...) But still, for what it's worth: when you see or hear about the love of others in action, jump in and get giving! Phone that person or organisation to see how you can get involved, be it money (R10 or zillions, time: an hour a month or more if you can, recycling clothes/toys/books...) Perhaps we can't save the world all on our ownsome, but we can change just one life -- if only for a moment. (*wink* Whatcha waitin' for?)
Contact me via the COMMENTS box to donate!
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sympathetic Soutie

I'm not even going to try and convince you to forgive yet another long absence from these pages. Don't get me wrong -- I compose at least one blog post a day in my head, but - just as you probably are - I've been busier than a one-legged cat! But, happily so.
For example, I've been spending time with two new friends I met through Layla's new little school buddies. One of the families are freshly arrived from Korea (9 months ago) and the other has been in South Africa since August last year: an Indian family direct from Delhi with a prior 6 month stint in Newcastle, a la Muddy Isle.

Visiting Younju yesterday, she asked me why I don't write on my blogs anymore (a question, and I know it sounds like I'm blowing my trumpet very loudly, that I get asked very, very often.) It always ends up with the usual two excuses of 'too busy' during the day and 'shattered/buggered/nattered' at night. If my li'l princess wasn't such a nag-apie (Afrikaans word for 'night-monkey' -- see pic below) I'd probably be able to get in an hour or two's writing a night. But, I have always preferred to spend the evening with my little Layla than whip her off to bed hours before she's ready. It's also that I sympathetically identify with her night-owlishness; I spent many hours of my childhood nights beneath my duvet, torch lighting up the hungrily devoured pages of my latest copy of The Famous Five, praying the torch batteries wouldn't die before I got to the end of the chapter!) Anyway - I digress as usual...
What I was saying was (9 minutes left to write before leaving to pick Princess up from school *sigh*) that it was such an honour when Youngju revealed that she was reading my blog! With only 9 months of English under her Korean belt, it's absolutely mind-boggling that someone would be prepared to sit down and patiently decipher each of my usually-too-long sentences! Wow! I promised Youngju I would update my blog last night. Better late than never? I hope so, Youngju.

What I am especially enjoying about these two new friendships is the reverse sort of Soutpielism - and my ability to encourage and help them where I can. Sometimes it's with explaining South African culturalisms or answering a telephone call to clarify specific details with the often impatient caller. HOPEFULLY, and all my fingers crossed, I'll find a bit more time to write - even if it's in short little snatches? (This'll peeve my 'greatest, most loyal and most pushy fan', no doubt - eh, Mrs Melrose Cheese? *cheeky wink*)

Adios, all my amigos
x x x

Sunday, March 18, 2012

AWOL Absence Apologised For!

Well, well, well... I feel like stranger to my own blog! A prodigal procrastinator! Or, perhaps I'm being a little harsh on myself? You see, it is not as if I've had nothing to write about, or even been lacking in the desire-to-write department, but my life for the last 6 months has been, in a word: hell. I, Layla and my parents are locked in a kind of deadlocked limbo - but, as has always been the case when I have been faced with pain (or, in this case, agony) I have made the conscious choice to transcend the problem and its pain, and choose to respond to it in a way that grows and stretches my heart, mind and soul --- leaning heavily on my God for the peace, joy and strength that is not able to be wrested from the weak, selfish human heart alone.
There have been surprisingly few people who have questioned how a good, loving, compassionate and all-powerful God, 'should' He exist, allow situations such as mine occur. The answer is not simple, and although it is intensely personal, it is not private and is perhaps worth explaining how I have experienced His presence, love, comfort and guidance over the last few months?

Here are a few happy developments:
1. Layla started school in January - and is a teacher's pet deluxe! She is the littlest one of them all, but certainly the most exquisitely unusual (if I may say so myself! *wry grin*)!
2. She turned a very exuberant '3' at the end of February - and celebrated in style at school with all of her little friends, having chosen Toy Story cupcakes and Flings as her snacks du jour. Somewhat alarmingly but not at all surprisingly, she chose a 'party dress' in the style outlawed by the Fashion Police with the passing away of the 1980s! A red, nylon-shiny and tulle confection a la Disney Princess! But somehow, Layla carried it off with her gorgeous uniqueness and funky sort of grace. How could I but not be proud? (I'm already having visions of what she will no doubt quirkily conjure up for her Matric Dance!)
3. There is a fantastically lovely family I have met through the little boy who is in Layla's class at school. They're Korean -- having only set foot on this wildly different African soil just 2 months ago. With my seven looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong years as a South African living in England, I can only but begin to imagine how isolated, lonely and misunderstood they must be feeling. If I, as a fellow English-speaker, felt alienated and an alien in a land whose culture I 'grew up on' via television, film, music and literature, how much more so would this Korean family be struggling with this flood of strangeness and newness, where not just the language is so radically different (not even Latin-based!!) but where the culture is also a West versus East clash. Sheesh! Anyway - they have asked me to help them settle into their new life by teaching them English, and filtering the South African culture into their lives. What a blessing and weekly joy this is proving to be!
'studio-plekkie' I set up last week!
4. An old friend arrived out of the beautiful blue about 2 weeks ago to announce that she needed me to produce samples for her of my work, for both decor shops and corporate art commissioning! WOW! The big question, of course, is this: will I be able to earn enough moola to pay the bills? We'll see. Time, and bloodsweat&tears will tell, eh?

In stores nationwide (*modest l'il smirk*) you'll discover my 3 ranges:
(top row is still in progress)
*Madame Fifi: Guru of Whimsy : all things decor - such as the 6 little canvases (7 x 7cm) in this picture -- and all sorts of other magnificently unusual and Lisaesque concepts.
*Pillowtalk: hand-embellished, quilted etc bedding: cushions and quilts.
*Little Miss Muffett: handcrafted and ridiculously quirky/sentimental toys!
*Talking Point: Art Commissions: nudes, landscapes, abstracts, portraits. (Now WHO on EARTH would EVER have thought I would 'go commercial'?! Yip, Michaelis, I've gone over to the dark side. My dad's relieved!)

Anyway - I better not write too much in case I wake up to find it's only been the sweetest dream...

Adios till next time,

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Self-Indulgent Little Yarn!

Thought I should rather write here than in my handwritten journal. There’s the two plus-sides to this : I can keep y’all updated with what’s happening in my complicatedly happy little life – as well as preventing myself from self-pitying bitching in my private diary!

Plekkie: The Pink Fig, Port Elizabeth: topping up my adoration of Capetonian glamour and gorgeousness.

Beverage: Bitter, black coffee which reminds me of Greece – but probably, the Greek association comes from my recently adopted role as editor for a Greek author’s novel about a young man’s quest to discover the secret of his being orphaned, and set on the island of Zakynthos. Ironically and perhaps serendipitously, this is the one island we were forced to skip on my sweet-sixteen sailing holiday around the Ionian islands. (Running a day behind Papa’s strict sailing schedule *sigh*.)

Soundtrack : ‘Havana Lounge’ – a spot of Cuban sunshine on a surprisingly nippy day.

Here's the latest on my flourishing writing career (a slow-growing but hardy cactus! )
a) Plenty of interruptions and obstacles, some disappointments and a little too much lack of support. (After expressing my resulting anger in a response to a friend’s blogpost, he spoke to me, kindly, about rather responding in grace, and sometimes with fire&brimstone (i.e. righteous anger). His following words to me have somehow stuck in my heart:  A painful truth to internalise, but too, too true: my heart feels tough, rough and black. But the words, ‘respond with grace’, are healing: and I find myself treating everyone with more patience, kindness and beautiful love.)
‘Nothing destroys a beautiful woman faster than bitterness and resentment.’

b) Through some external and very loving, attentive nurturing, my thorns of self-confidence are growing beautifully: I daily protect my heart with grace, and sometimes an assertive little prick or two.

Image by Lisa Roberts Carter
'The Metaphysics of Knitting'

My article, ‘The Metaphysics of Knitting’, published last week in Hy-Se-Sy-Se became the departure point for a new direction in my writing and creative journey. I’ve decided to head into the sunset of fashion and beauty: analysing global trends in my quirky, detail-rich and apparently alternative style. Once I’ve defined myself as a ‘brand’, I’ll soon be creating a website showcasing my talents and passions, where I’ll be able to sell my ideas, making a lucrative living at last! (How’s that for flowering-cactus self-confidence?!)

Image by Lisa Roberts Carter
For Post about Collect Jewellery
 And while I’m blowing my own trumpet: I’m now writing for a Canadian e-magazine to be launched in September. Called ‘’, my speciality will be adding a bit of South African flavour of vintageness! I also joined Twitter last week - and it has been the most phenomenal business and networking tool! Find me on Twitter : @lisa_the_jotter
Image by Lisa Roberts Carter

Better say ciao and begin writing up my story about the TLC Blanket Project dreamed up by Judy Hendra. Inspired by her idea to knit up a colourfully cheerful blanket, embellished with numbers and the alphabet to help Ryno, a young man who, after a debilitating motorbike accident, has to relearn how to walktalkreadwrite – and even swallow again, Judy has grown her idea into something far-reaching and spectacular: to give each toddler in Africa a ‘learning and comforting’ blanket.

As soon as it’s published, I’ll post the link back here! So come back and haul out your courage to spend less time on yourself, and knit up a storm! (And, if you’d like to get started ASAP, please leave your details for me in the COMMENTS box below! Time to be a Hero! I started yesterday evening and am already almost finished my first square!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Patriot Games & Poetry Pie

Blog-jogging in the car (blogging-on-the-run, remember?) on our way back to Grahamstown after an idyllic weekend in PE! Our BoysInGreen kicked serious Kiwi Ass (and despite the fact I didn't watch the game, I'm a)still MASSIVELY chuffed, and b)relished the vibe of patriotic euphoria, waved about in giant flags of green and gold, hooted and shouted --- hang on (!) - I didn't hear a single vuvuzela?! Ag, I suppose South African Man's a 7 Day Wonder. Pity... The vuvuzela became such an icon of our success as a world-class nation - as well as a symbol of the blending of our two different (sporting) cultures.

I spent the morning immersed in poet Elsibe Loubser's new poetry - and swimming through them in graphite and paper. (We realised we are both consumed by the same ideas about 'love vs livelihood' at the moment. So when I suggested we collaborate, she grabbed me in a great big Blackberry hug, saying: 'Yes, please!')

Then, there is the page from my visual diary circa 2003.

And the bird image is from my Black Velvet exhibition in 2003: where Elsibe and I met! She bought that particular artwork from me --- and: HUGE HAMMERING-HEART HONOUR: she STILL uses in the writing course she teaches! Lekker, ne?

'Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.' Albert Camus

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goodbyes (and the eternalness of an ellipsis...)

Time is what mortalises us, I think.

A week ago, we heard the shock of news that my Aunty Lola had lost 14kg in a month. And the next day, the diagnosis, the prognosis... Inoperable pancreatic cancer; 2 - 6 weeks. 2 - 6 weeks of what? How? And... why? Why.

Her daughters and siblings have flown in from all around the world to spend this last chapter with her. And though my heart is breaking with not being able to see her 'one last time' (what horror to even type that phrase) I am scared and ashamed that I don't know how to say this goodbye. What I do know is that this final goodbye is desperately sacred. And the thought of a phonecall frightens all the memories of her out from the bottom of my childhood's heart - a Pandora's Box. I want to keep her alive in my heart - and keep my memories of her locked up tight : pink heirloom pearls in the dark, dusty velvet of my heart.

And yet, I know real, strong and true love demands a goodbye. There is honour in opening your heart in the face of the terrifying confusion of grief-about-to-happen. And this I know. I must phone. Tomorrow.

Insert: Lola as a young mother, holding Tandy, my cousin. (Her photo on my writing wall -- a reminder to pray, her very own votive candle.)

(There is more to tell. Another day. An easier day.)
'Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.' Albert Camus