Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Silly Season

18 xii 2007, Tuesday

Right now the canvas I’m working on is out on my little balcony drying in the late hot wind of 6pm so I can take various grades of sandpaper to it to create JUST the right surface to draw on! The graphite/mixed media portrait of twin boys that are in my art class and their newborn cousin needs to be finished for Christmas – so I’ll probably finish it tomorrow night now that all the groundwork has been completed (two glasses of cabernet sauvignon notwithstanding!)
Work has been desperately – but THANKFULLY – quiet. My energy levels have dipped to an all time low – and I know YOU know I’m not the only one ; ) . December has been proven as the most ‘high risk’ in terms of depressions, overdoses and suicides… (Maybe I should cork that bottle of wine?!) But seriously, though I have had a tough working month, the condition of my heart is JUBILANT . OVER THE MOON . INSPIRED . GRATEFUL . ROOTED . PEACEFUL . COMPLETE . HOPEFUL …
(is my chicken lasagne ready? Let me check the oven… Be back in a sec!)
Before the 24th, I need to finish my art commission, braai at a friend’s in Melkbos, organise presents, do drinks, pack for my holiday…

25 xii 2007, Tuesday
Gate 11. Domestic departures. Kulula flight to Port Elizabeth 8h50. All I can give you are these sterile, basic facts because I am just SO overwhelmed by the most intense, excited lovesickness my heart has ever had to endure! My brain seems to have temporarily shut down so that I’m typing much more slowly than usual and erasing and editing myself over and over, again and again. I think we’re boarding now ------

30 xii 2007, Sunday
Sitting in Craig’s lounge, in my red cotton summer dress (which is competing with the very red sunburn I acquired today at Pollock Beach here in PE – distressingly close to Shark Rock and with warm waves made murky with sand : perfect conditions for sharks!) half-watching a program about the food of Siena while Craig pours us a glass of our favourite red wine : Diemersfontein Pinotage (the wine that comes extremely close to being like a delicious evening of the most romantic and passionate sex in its voluptuous embodiment of chocolate and vanilla ). Doing a quick spot of shopping at Woolies for our next evenings' braais, Craig spotted a Limited Edition of this wine – so we took three bottles: one for tonight, one for tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and one for when we’re back in Cape Town! (I think Craig’s bringing a plate of cheeses and Salticrax along with out wine… Hmmm….)
The last few days have seen so much adventure and wonder that there’s been no time to write about it all… Now, where shall I begin?
Christmas Eve : The very day I’d waited days and days for when I could say to Craig: “See you tomorrow!” The evening before was spent drinking a bottle of red and finishing off a double portrait commission – graphite on a wide block canvas – and I desperately hoped the wine would have worked it’s sleepy magic on my over-excited heart… But I woke just after sunrise, groggy and a little peeved that I now had more hours than I’d anticipated to endure! I washed the pile of dishes that’d accumulated over a series of exhausted days, the washing machine whining at full-tilt trying to get sufficient clean clothes organised for my week’s holiday and then trying to pack amidst a pile of Christmas presents I’d bought in a manic rush first thing that morning JUST as the shops opened – i.e. a calculated risk I took to avoid the consumerist obsession with the festive idea of ‘giving’ (and ‘getting’) At 4pm I clambered into the shower, ready to leave for my parents’ house so we could travel through to my sister and brother-in-law in Bantry Bay for a very unconventional Christmas Eve dinner.
(Because of my father’s half-Sicilian and half-Norwegian heritage, we have always celebrated Christmas EVE as opposed to the usual Christmas Day (right now as I type : sitting outside in the greying early evening at the braai while the absolutely yummy kudu steaks Craig’s brother procured by way of hunting defrost on the hot braai grid opposite – a glass of Pinotage next to me on an antique little ‘bankie’ next to me – Linkin Park’s ‘Reanimation’ playing from the kitchen, the roughly chopped potatoes for my Lebanese potato salad boiling on the stove which I should really go check… Hang on a sec……………….Ok, the potatoes were done – drained them then drizzled olive oil and a munificent sprinkling of sea salt over them, followed by as generous a swathe of freshly crushed garlic as I could afford.) Right – supper eaten : kudu steak braaied to sheer perfection by Mr Carter to a rare/medium-rare scrumptious juiciness! Also – an onion each, set into the coals in tinfoil jackets, roasted into black sweet perfection, rounded off the second last supper of 2007 rather nicely ; ) (Geez – how did Shakespeare & Co cope without emoticons?!)
Right – back to Christmas Eve at Julie and James’s place in Bantry Bay. Their lovely little apartment is in a small block that’s been around at least 100 years – my late Norwegian great-aunt Marion apparently once staying in the flat directly opposite! And though the building itself is old, it has been immaculately maintained – and Julie and James - both style gurus (Julie a jewellery designer and James an architect) have decorated the flat to chicly unique perfection. To toast Christmas Eve as well as my parents’ wedding anniversary of 32 years, we sipped chilled Pon Gracz from martini glasses – followed by copious amounts of red wine and a braaied feast of prawns and mussels, accompanied by a fruity, colourful salad and the softest loaf of white, milky bread which we dipped into the ginger, lemongrass and coconut milk sauce from the mussels. Pudding was in two parts – one a childhood favourite of lemon juice combined with condensed milk which sets into a kind of richly piquant silky mousse – and the other was a Christmas pudding made from the recipe book my sister’s English mother-in-law sent her (and to which she added at least quadruple the amount of brandy!) The conversation was like the food : satisfying, rich, varied and at times, quite unconventional – and my brother-in-law had me laughing so that my stomach hurt and tears sparkled in my eyes – my mom grabbing this moment as deeply poignant, saying that she hasn’t seen me laugh like that in a long, long time… (It made me remember when a friend said about 6 months ago that though I seemed more mature and wiser, I laughed less. And with this observation of my mom’s, I wondered if perhaps the return of joy was because all the holes in my heart have been patched up and healed? And the only thing I can attribute all this to is not so much the effect of time as a healer, but to the presence of the kindest, most painstakingly patient heart that has loved me consistently and unconditionally these last 5 or so months… It is not time that heals but love and joy and patience and compassion and understanding and peace.)
Driving back to Welgemoed at the well-behaved hour before midnight, I climbed straight into bed amazed that the butterflies in my stomach hadn’t devoured me alive yet! Craig had been experiencing the same sensations – and the closer it got to me climbing on that flight to PE, the more intense these feelings became – so much so that we both ended up with aching and overactive stomachs!! And when, at 3am, I was woken by the most intense, child-like excitement I’ve felt in many many many years, I knew I would not be able to go back to sleep again…

The flight to PE was umm… interesting (!) Boarding on time and the fact that we didn’t have to do an emergency landing were about the only things that DIDN’T go wrong on the flight. Kulula (wry smile). The plane was apparently a ‘new addition’ to the Kulula fleet but looked like it had been transported in a rather sad and defunct time-warp from the 1960s – it didn’t yet have the bright green Kulula branding, which I found (inexplicably) disconcerting. Perhaps it is the same feeling as when you are forced to buy a no-name brand product when your usual high quality product is out of stock?! The interior of the plane looked a little old and grimey but was actually quite clean. Thabiso, a friendly flight attendant, asked the four passengers sitting behind me if, in the event of an emergency landing, they would be prepared to assist in lifting the 20kg emergency exit door. The one lady refused silently but defiantly, which was rather odd. And so I offered to swap seats with her – and was rewarded with sitting next to a much more amiable and infinitely more petite girl than the one before! The girl to my left was huge and spilled with alarming machismo over the armrest into my space – her greasy mullet and gruff monosyllabic voice making me feel quite sure she was not the most pink crayon in the box!! And next to her was a diminutive guy with the voice of a young boy who couldn’t stay off the phone to his ‘Mummy’ (said with a girlish Afrikaans accent – and with the hand not holding his phone flapping oh so expressively like a fish out of water!) And so, my new fellow-passenger was ample reward for having swapped seats! We chatted about love and our various romantic mishaps and misdemeanours, as well as our jobs, hopes and dreams (quite a lot of ground to cover in a one hour flight between Cape Town and PE!) .............. to be continued

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