Breaking the drought

It’s been a while since my last post – Tuesday June 10th in fact! Lots has happened and I have not had the energy to blog, sadly.

Last week…

…I had a work dinner on Wednesday and had half-a-glass of red wine with my delicious ravioli. It was a good wine, a Rupert and Rothschild. Note to self: NEVER, but NEVER EVER drink red wine again, even if it’s expensive! It’s simply poison for my system. The next morning my sinuses had swollen up, my face was puffy and I had nausea, sinus, neck and shoulder pain. Almost like I had a hangover but with half-a-glass of wine! Have you ever…!!??

Last weekend…

… was a long one in South Africa and we went away to Mount Grace in the Magaliesberg. It was wonderful, just being pampered and doing nothing all day but lie in the sun topping up on Vitamin D reserves. Che and I had a pamper session at the spa on Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the time catching up on items on my WordPress Reader – so I know what’s been happening with everyone else. I can recommend the a la carte restaurant Rambling Vine where we enjoyed 2 excellent 3-course dinners – without wine for me!

A new lens…

Prior to the weekend I bought a new lens for my camera  – I’ve always wanted a 50mm-300mm lens so on Friday morning before we left I snuck out to the electronics shop and bought a Sigma lens.

I’m really still learning about photography. For years I was a point and click photographer – too intimidated by the complicated features of an SLR camera. Eventually even I got frustrated with the slow response of the point and clicks. The picture I saw and wanted I simply wasn’t getting. So I bit the bullet and got a DSLR.

I’m not much of a manual reader and definitely don’t have the patience for photographic courses so I’m going it alone. Che is a very proficient photographer (he did photography in school and even developed his own pics back in the day) so I have a source of ready info at my finger tips.

So the weekend at Mount Grace also turned out to be a photographic lesson from Che Hubby. I enjoyed it and I’m sure that I got a whole lot better. I played around with Bokeh after reading a post on Cee Neuner’s site. I had loads of fun on macro setting. Here is a pic I experimented with.

WIldflower of the Magaliesberg - succulent from the Aloe family I think...
WIldflower of the Magaliesberg – succulent from the Aloe family I think…

Hunting for heat…

We travelled back to Jhb on Monday afternoon. It was cold and we hadn’t yet replenished the gas bottle for the heater. At 8pm when normal people were having dinner and watching TV I was driving like a lunatic around the neighbourhood looking for gas. I went to 4 service stations before I found one which still had stocks.

Sinuses again…

Well, the sinuses never really cleared up. They were really bothering me, I had symptoms of fever, hot and cold all the time, it was so bothersome. On Thursday morning I woke up feeling nauseous and sweating like mad – I actually woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and had to peel off the soaking PJs to put dry ones on. In the morning I had pain in the head neck and shoulders as well. I know when left untreated sinus problems can become secondary infections, so I decided to stay home and go to the doctor. I don’t like antibiotics, I much prefer the natural way of treating things, but sometimes I know it is necessary and this was one of those times.

Today I am still off, panicking because of unfinished work at work. And tomorrow I’m not going to Wintercon, Toastmasters club officer training. Last week I was elected President of Talk with Purpose toastmasters club but I’ve been President of 2 other clubs before so I should be ok.

Cheerio for now friends!

 

Weekly photo challenge: Space and limits

I love white spaces, spaces that you can do anything with. A white space can look different every day.

One of my favourite white spaces is in the Wanderers Building at the Dimension Data Campus in Bryanston where The Forum conference facility is located. I unfortunately don’t have photos of that space.

The photos I’m showcasing today is of the space at the Standard Bank Gallery in the Joburg city centre. In September last year they exhibited Justin Fiske’s kinetic sculptures. They are astonishing, how they just hang, move or come to a standstill. Or just stand still yet seem as though they are in movement.

As the observer physically interacts with the sculpture they become simultaneously the observed. I love that, something so quantum about it.

The gallery also represents a space without boundaries, where each artist makes it their own, yet at the same time it is contained by walls –  the incongruity of space and limits. Or is it space vs. limits?

Space and limits - Standard Bank Gallery
Space and limits – Standard Bank Gallery
Space and limits - Standard Bank Gallery
Space and limits – Standard Bank Gallery

 

WordPress's weekly photo challenge this week is Room.  Like a few other English wordsRoom means two contradictory things. It can be the four walls that enclose us, giving us shelter and comfort but also limiting our movement. It’s also the limitless space into which we can wander and which we can fill — or try to (think about that expression, “room to grow”).

Check out more interpretations of the this week's theme here:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/room/

Writing 101 Day 4: Story of Loss – Menino Candulo Senhor Comandante

Day 4’s assignment is to write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

This post is not coming easily to me. Almost a year ago my Uncle Guilherme passed away. Last night my Aunt Salome died. When my Uncle passed on my Aunt honoured his memory on her Facebook page. Today many of her friends are honouring her memory on her Facebook page. They were not related as they came from different sides of the family.

Both loved books. My Uncle wrote books in Portuguese which were translated into other languages. My Aunt adored books and read in many different languages. Both were children of Mozambique.

In April of 1974 my Uncle, Guilherme de Melo wrote a book called “Menino Candulo Senhor Comandante”. This is the translation of his dedication page:

“Everything in life has an explanation. A why.

The why of this book then – it is for the little people, but one which adults can also read – simple.

It happened that, one day, I arrived at the family home for dinner, like all human beings, citizens or not – naturally do. My young great-nieces were playing with each other. The youngest, almost five years old, busied herself with colouring-in books. The eldest read fables with fairies and dragons – she was a playful eight year and in the third grade. My Mom, great-grandmother to both little girls, was very proud of her gifts which she loved telling visitors to the house about.

“Tio, why don’t you write a story for us?” the eldest asked me with a serious look on her face as soon as she saw me enter the house.

“But you’ve got so many books already with which you can entertain yourself and read aloud to your sister. ” I objected.

With a petulant expression on her face she said, “Oh! I’ve read them all. And the books Granny brings me all tell the same stories – princesses, witches, giants and the big bad wolf…But why is it that there are no stories for children that take place in THIS country Tio…?

They actually do. That same morning, the newspaper where I work had run such a story, a small insert sent from the correspondent in Vila Cabral:

“Five children from the area of the Luissa village, some 20 kilometres from Vila Cabral presented themselves to the Portuguese authorities. They had been kidnapped by Frelimo last May, together with a group of men and women. Candulo Bonomar, 11 years old, Anete Anjida e Lua Uinasi, both 9 years old, Adaima Aide, 6 years old and Abide Bara, were taken to Tanzania, where, on the northern banks of the Rovuma River, the kidnappers separated the adults from the children. The children and adults – it is not clear how many there were – were taken to the so-called “Escola do Macheje”. Candulo Bonomar planned an escape, telling his four friends about it. Under the pretense of going down to the river to wash their clothes, they made their escape. After walking through the bush for many days they came upon a Portuguese military patrol who took them to Pauila, and then to Macaloje. They were finally transported to Vila Cabral and Luissa where they are now.”

Newspapers sizzled with this news.

From which this book happened.

For all the children of my country to read. And the adults to meditate on it.”

My Aunt’s free-spiritness is something I will always remember and be inspired by.

My Uncle, Guilherme de Melo is the reason I write!

Notes:
"Tio" is Portuguese for "Uncle".
The country is Mozambique, until 1974 a colony of Portugal.
A violent war was waged for many years, mainly contained in the north of the country.
Frelimo was the liberation movement.
Mozambique is now a democracy.
Frelimo is the current party in government.
Vila Cabral, Pauila, Macaloje, Luissa are all towns in Mozambique.
I haven’t been able to get information on the Escola do Macheje which I assume was infamous.
I don’t know what became of Candulo Bonomar and his 4 friends.

A paucity of information on my Uncle exists on the web - I guess it is up to me to right this.

Image 2

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Writing 101 Day 3 – Three Songs

Today’s assignment is Day 3: Commit to a writing practice - Write about the three most important songs in your life -- what do they mean to you? Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don't censor yourself; don't think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you. 

So here we go...

I’m not a traditionalist so when it came to planning my wedding I aimed to eschew with as much tradition as possible mainly because of old fashioned wedding tradition has got to do with wives obeying husbands and such things. Those of you who know me, will know I was having none if it! I wanted to get married to a wonderful man, share my life with him. That’s all.

The song I chose to walk down the aisle (yes yes I know what you’re thinking, I got married in a church, mainly because my Mom wished it to be so and when parents are paying for the wedding there are some things that I had to let go of) was not the wedding march but Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale.

The organist was very excited to play a different song and had fun writing the sheet music for the organ. So why the Whiter Shade of Pale then? It’s a beautiful song, I like the melody and the lyrics are very mysterious. I’m not one of those people that reads much into the song lyrics, I often don’t remember them only the choruses. I just like what it sounds like.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is the second song that comes to mind. It’s the ultimate party song that gets me up and dancing when it comes on the radio or the DJ plays it. The video blew me away, it was long, I adored the story and the dancing…wow! It had me, along with thousands of others trying to copy the moves. It still blows me away whenever I see it all these years later. It reminds me of my teenage years, finding my own taste in music (other than my parents’).

One by U2 surprises me each time. I surprise myself with how it surprises me. It starts off so softly, so gently and then surprises me with its power. With Mary J Blige singing it along with Bono the roof literally comes down. This song changes my state instantly. It puts me in a hopeful and inspired state, it uplifts me every single time. I’ve watched many versions of this song on YouTube, each one subtly different to the last one. When it comes on the radio while I’m on my way to work I turn up the volume and move to it.

Well this was fun and scary at the same time, uninterrupted writing, no editing. I’m publishing. If you’re reading this, be gentle. 

Comments oh! comments!

I’ve missed blogging in the last 2 days so with this post I hope catch up on the editorial calendar. Day 4‘s assignment topic was: Are there sections online that I refuse to read? Day 5’s assignment topic was: Would you read a personal blog without a comment section? How do you feel when a comment section is closed? This post combines the two.

Matt Groening, famous for co-creating The Simpsons, said about comments: “If I have one technology tip of the day, it’s this: No matter how good the video on YouTube is, don’t read the comments, just don’t, because it will make you hate all humans.”

I generally skim through comments on blogs and sites, mostly on articles that I like or am interested in. I like to see what other people thought of the post and if they’re in agreement with me. If I don’t like the article I don’t go to the comments section.

I admit to sometimes feeling like Matt Groening. Some of the comments are unbelievable.

When I started blogging I didn’t think about comments. All I was focused on was getting content published regularly and visitors to my blog. As I got more experienced I thought that comments would be nice, especially after reading that site rankings go up the more comments there are.

This didn’t stop me from getting the Akismet spam filter because I was getting a lot of spam. And before deciding to hold them in moderation some spam made it through, which I deleted.

Akismet has stopped 9,898 spam from getting though, and I have received a total of 37 real comments over the course of 2 years and 5 months.

Spam is a scourge of the internet. Just like I protect my home from those ill-intentioned people with high walls, an alarm system and 24-hour private security armed response, I so protect my blog from spam, and in the process I could be coming across as unwelcoming.

After speaking with a more experienced blogger at work some time ago I decided to close comments off after 30 days. This drastically decreased the amount of spam. I especially got a lot of spam mail on a blog post entitled “Hooter Tooter” about the usage of the hooter by drivers in India – I wonder why…? But it also means that visitors to my site who like what they read can’t comment if they want to on articles that are older than 30 days.

Still, it is a conscious decision I made, and no matter how much I dislike spam, I’m not blaming anyone.

She also said that initially she wanted to get comments and visitors but that now she blogs for herself and if no one reads her blog then it’s ok.

American rapper, Lupe Fiasco, once said: “I do this for the sake of myself. It’s a selfish process. I don’t really have any expectations from anyone for your comments or your reviews or your previews.”

It’s great to be in that space – but I’m not and I still want comments because of the vision I hold for my blog and future as a writer.

I’ve visited some blogs where the comment section was closed and I must admit to feeling a twinge of disappointment because I really wanted to comment and couldn’t. It wouldn’t stop me from visiting them but they would rank lower in my “blogs to visit list”.

So this begs the question of the person reading this post at the moment – How do you feel when a comments section is closed, and should I leave comments open indefinitely?

 

Social Entrepreneur, chief wide eyed in wanderer, wonderer and bottlewasher

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