word to my (grand)mamma

It takes a remarkable woman to raise a strong woman…

I have come to realise that I am a strong, independent woman and I should be (and am) proud of that, and to say that.

At some point recently I had a conversation with a few equally strong (if very different and unique) women about my sister’s soon to be born son. Somehow all of us expressed that we would prefer to have sons, if and when the time comes to bear children. To this I commented that it is ironic, since we are the type of women who SHOULD be raising the next generation of females…

This weekend we had two (yes, two!) baby showers for my future nephew and I got to spend some time with my Mom and Grandma. To be honest, sometimes my mother irritates me – as I think every mother does her daughter at some point – and I lose my cool with her a bit. But, like she rightfully pointed out this weekend, I am independent with a will of my own because that is how she raised me.

My mother is a remarkable human. Practically blind since she was 18 she has never let it stand in her way and has achieved SO much as an invaluable member of her community. 25 years of teaching at the local creche, over 20 years of teaching Sunday School, more than two decades as a ‘nig’ in the Voortrekkers (there is hardly a white kid between my age and 4 years old in our small little Swartland town that does not know her, does not have a fond memory of her) and active participation in the church, ACVV and other community projects since they moved to Malmesbury in the early 80s. She hardly ever gets upset, never loses her cool and I do not think I have ever heard her say anything negative about anyone…

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Which brings me to my Gran. Ouma turned 90 in May. She still knits blankets, gloves, jerseys and dolls for her grand kids, 10 great grand kids and the children of less fortunate communities in the Swartland (currently she is knitting little xmas socks for the kids who will be in the local hospital over the festive season this year.) She talks about the other residents in her nursing home as ‘the old people’ and looks immaculate every day.

In her generation a woman’s place was firmly behind her man… These days you can describe a couple by what they do for careers (“he is a world class investigative journalist and she is one of the city’s best physiotherapists.” ) Judging by my Grandpa and his esteemed place in our community, she was great at her job.

So, here is to the remarkable women that raised me and women like me for generations. I hope life does afford me the opportunity to raise one myself, but for now, lets go have some bubbly in honour of our mothers and their mothers before them (and to my sister, a soon to be mother!)

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Ouma, with my aunt and mother (as a baby, right) 1950.

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Ouma, with 11 of her 13 grandchildren (and almost as many other halves) at my sister’s wedding in 2011.

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Ouma, with great grandchildren Ana and Hardy and one of her famous blankets, 2013.

Do one thing…

Last year while preparing for our Junk Armada trip in Spain a friend back in South Africa put me in contact with Braam Malherbe and I became aware of his Do One Thing campaign. The idea is simple – do one thing every day to help save (or make better) our planet.

What an easy, powerful concept. I really do try every day and today I started a new habit…

We had just returned from our 48 days in the Karoo (where we carry everything we need attached to tool-belts, including cups and lighters on strings – so no one can steal it) when my friend Mike went to go get us take away coffees and asked me what cup he could use for me. At first I thought this was a little odd, but soon realised it is pure genius. Why take a paper cup with plastic lid that you are going to use for about 15 minutes before you throw it away..?

So today I took my pirate cup with me to get coffee for the first time, it did feel a bit silly asking them to make my flat white in my enamel cup (with re-usable cable tie attached – best invention ever!) but soon I felt quite smug that I was being so environmentally friendly.

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so, do one thing for our lovely home every day, however small or stupid it might seem.

Little by little…

Don’t worry, be an example now.

Reading and rereading my post from earlier today has indeed opened a whole new can of worms.

As I move between the lounge (where there is a fire going in the fireplace) and my well-blanketed bed (with the warm water bottle my Gran gave me – it wears a little cover she knitted) complaining about how damn cold it is, I have made myself wonder.

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That blog post contains a whole lot of bitching for someone who has a warm bed, cosy home, gourmet-cooking-housemates, car, appointments for massages and acupuncture and #firstworldproblems like ‘which coat should I wear with which pair of adidas (for some reason the one branded item I always own) sneakers’. Someone who ‘rewarded’ them-self after 7 weeks in the desert by buying an iPhone and has since proceeded to instagram almost every god damn thing in her life.

I have had 2 flat whites this week and we have not been separating our trash for recycling. It has been forever since my last confession.

Preaching and waving a finger at society is no way to change anything. Aren’t we supposed to “be the change we want to see” [insert LIKE icon with number in 100s here] is there not four fingers pointing back at me [insert wise as comments about four fingers being better than one]..?

Apparently my numbers show that I tend to worry a lot. No shit. I worry about everyone. Everything. I toss and turn and get all emo over things so big and so far out of my control that that starts to worry me…

This seems to be a lesson I need to be taught way too often.

The best I can do is all I can do.

And I can only hope that someone will be inspired to do the same. Each one teach one. hey.

After some time, and a few life lessons…

12 weeks since my last post… somehow it feels much longer yet as though only a moment has passed.

In the last 12 weeks I have

procured, packed and logistically managed the transport of everything and everyone it takes to host a week long festival for 9000 people, 160km away from “civilisation”

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spent 7 weeks living in this remote place, building, restoring, moving and putting up everything it takes to host a week long festival for 9000 people…

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broken and regrown a collar bone

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cried, laughed, shouted, bitched, rejoiced, sang, reflected, wondered… grown, explored

I have made new friends and reconnected to old ones, grown closer to my amazing brother, overcome personal fears and boundaries, surprised myself… 

The universe (or was it the Binnekring, or is that the same thing?) decided that living in a semi-desert in a tent, managing 40 strong willed hippies and setting up a massive festival isn’t enough of a challenge, I should attempt to do it with one hand tied to my body. Pain is love right..? So on day 15 of 48 I woke up with a hangover and a broken clavicle. 

All the preconceived ideas I had about how I was going to enjoy the party that is AfrikaBurn this year went out the door as I hung around the edges of dance floors (scared of getting bumped by enthusiastic dancers) swaying gently to the thumping music. After a few minutes I would leave my friends to dance and I would walk around just ‘taking it all in’. What is this things we have created, what does it mean to people, what does it mean to me…? 

I do not know if I have the answers, but I do realise the changes it has brought to my life, my outlook, my point of view.

Our society is fucked up. The state of the nation is poor, the world is in desperate need of a ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’. Humanity is in dire straits. 

Things that upset me most upon re-entering what we like to call civilisation?

Litter, MOOP, trash… People’s general disregard for nature, spaces, where they live and how they live. On the first Sunday we were back I was driving on the highway when I saw someone throw a plastic bottle out of his car. I hooted, flipped him off, and burst into tears. WTF is wrong with us!?!

Advertising, brands, money, capitalism… and the levels of inequality in our society. It upsets me to no end to sit in my fucked up car at a traffic light and watch an old woman begging in the pissing rain… only to be ignored by people in million Rand cars. Where is your compassion, where is the love, how do you sleep at night?

Seeing you in your designer gear, with your perfectly manicured nails and your R1000 hairstyle, engaged in your iPhone while waiting for a flat white REALLY upsets me. I want you to wake up, I want you to not spend your money on useless brands and labels that only feed your ego. I realise your right to self-expression (one of our guiding principals at AfrikaBurn) allows you to spend your money in which ever way you see fit. I just wish you saw it more fit to spend it on someone’s health, or housing, education or keeping them warm in this freezing winter you tweet about so regularly (with pictures of overpriced fur lined boots).

The inevitable ‘what next, where to now’ questions from friends and family. The last two years, come early June, I  have packed a backpack full of summer things and boarded a plane for Barcelona. Three months of European summer to cure any winter blues and ignore any serious commitments. This year I decided not to do that, and with that comes a whole other can of worms… 

Or maybe a whole other blog post. 

Hey world, I am back. Happy winter… 

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so much on my mind…

9 days till we leave for the desert. 

4 days since I started a course of antibiotics to get rid of flu. 

I have been waking up from nightmares where I lose luggage while travelling, forget things, do not recognise people I am supposed to know and have a bunch of hippies standing stranded next to the road – drenched in sweat, with a headache and sore abs from coughing my lungs out.

It has been an interesting week to say the least.

At some stage I looked through my inbox for the mail full of things to pack for six weeks in the Karoo that my friend and former DPW lead Paul sent us last year, so that I could double check the mail I was composing for my crew, with the same purpose. I was shocked to see that the mail, the first I got from Paul, was dated 2 April 2013. Has it really been less than a year since this event, these people, this force, entered in my life?

It is hard to believe. The support and understanding I get (and got, especially this week, getting sick during what is arguably the most stressful week of my year) from the people within the crew and the organisation, is really touching.

Today I had lunch with two friends whom I have not seen for over 18 months. It was difficult to describe to them exactly how much my life has changed… Yes Nowhere and the Burning Man culture started this transformation for me in 2012 already, but the last year, having the AfrikaBurn community around, as friends, at parties, on weekends away, at christmas… it has really swung my life in all sorts of interesting directions.

In Barcelona last year, the morning we were packing vans and getting ready to head out to the Monegros desert there was a moment where I found it hard to believe that only a year before I had been in the same place, but in a very different space. In 2012 I knew noone, I was ‘the outsider’, the newbie. In 2013 I was ‘running the show’ telling people what to pack where, who goes into what vehicle, which petrol station we would fuel up at…

This feels very similar. Last year I got that email from Paul, packed what he instructed, showed up to drive around getting things with Roger (not realising he was the Crew Boss). This year I am sending those mails, I tell people where to show up, and Roger is my colleague…  Oh how things change and somehow stay exactly the same.

I guess if this was a corporate set up I could claim that I had been given a major promotion. It does not feel like that, but I sure have a lot more responsibility… no more ‘um sorry, where is the…’ if I don’t know where it is, I did not order it and we do not have it. And we are in trouble. 

It has also been 13 days since my last drink.

WHAT. who am I? I confessed in a meeting (a logistics meeting, for this job) that I had not had a drink since Cape Town Carnival and Paul asked if he had ‘broken me.’ Now we did have a pretty huge fantastic (some parts of it was like a fantasy) eve after Carnival, mostly thanks to Paul, and it was the reason I did not drink for the first few days after that… but usually I attend wine tastings at least once a week, open a bottle of wine at home every other day and go for a beer, well, regularly.

At some point I guess autumn kicked in and summer caught up with me. (A side of me still thinks I might be sick BECAUSE I didn’t drink, and not the other way round) but in a way I am glad it played out like this.

I am glad the detox, the flu, the period has all hit me at once. Rather now, here, in the comfort of my bedroom with en-suite bathroom, where my housemates cook for me and my mother calls with advice, than 10 days from now, in a tent, in the desert, 160km from the nearest antibiotic.

There will be a LOT of drinking in the desert, and I am so ready I can taste it. But, in the next 8 days I also have a lot of responsibility to get a lot of things sorted. SO MUCH DEPENDS ON THIS. I am honoured and happy to do it, and I truely hope I do not screw it up.

 

Having said all that, tomorrow I am opening some wine, (getting Bongani to) making some snacks and having some friends over for an early-birthday-I-am-leaving-for-the-desert-for-six-weeks-goodbye party and I will drink inappropriate amounts of grenache.

BUT now I will have another cup of honey and ginger lemon rooibos tea and read my book while listening to the neighbours having a fat party. 

 

To Tankwa and Beyond.

two weeks from now we will be sitting around a fire in first camp.

Roger, our serious Crew Boss, will be (very obviously) hinting that we should go to bed soon since “tomorrow the real work starts”.

But we will just want to bask in the glory of the Tankwa. I for one will be happy that most things (and people) from my spreadsheets will be there somewhere, somehow, and ready to be become Tankwa Town…

I am excited for sunrise and sunset, for freedom and fires, friends and family… I can not wait to pitch my new tent, put my wallet away, forget about my car (and its chained in battery) and to not look at my bloody phone’s flickering orange light…

I am so ready I can taste the crisp Karoo air…

But, before then (and until then) it is trucks, trailers, tractors, tractor trailers, wood, water, pallets, power tools, generators, fuel, fuel barrels, safety gear, insurance, safety training, food, beer, packing, packing, packing, sawdust, cranes, containers, slapse, EM, toilet paper, buckets and well, a few bits and bobs.

Not stressing, just realising that that “cramming period” I have been postponing for, is now in fact here…

14 slaapies is min dae…

And now for something completely different…

On a very much side note – Justin Bieber got a Banksy piece tattooed on his arm and this is now a controversy.

Somehow this story ended up on my Facebook timeline (I assume two or more of my friends [liked] it and that means I should like to see it too…)

This one I did find interesting though, since I too have a Bansky (I believe) piece on my leg – done by my talented friend Rico from Wildfire Tattoos. He framed it in a beautiful wreath of his specific style of roses. I have, through carrying this piece of public art around with me, far from the wall in New Orleans where it was painted, educated a lot of people on one of my favourite social commentators.

I guess I never thought of it as anything else but honoring the artist with a lifetime dedication. I never assumed it could be a modern day form of plagiarism.

Is it?

Banksy’s work is already all sorts of controversy. A famous, unknown, ‘graffiti artist’ whose defacing of property has created a new tourism economy. Someone who has turned the streets into art galleries, and with it delivered powerful commentary on the location, time, status quo, system, state, society…

Cities now go to great lengths to protect his work and it is frowned upon to tag, alter or god forbid, graffiti it…

Banksy’s website banksy.co.uk, says in its google blurb, at number four on a results page when searching ‘Banksy’, 

‘This British street artist with an international reputation shows and explains some of his best work.’

A visit to the page reveals nothing but a white screen and I could blame my unreliable internet but I believe it might be yet another medium for unorthodox artwork by ‘the artist’.

Other online media is crowd sourced and some of the pictures to me look like they might be by imitation artists, while people seem to freely tag and claim a lot of different styles to a name. See this tumblr page as an example of what I mean.

Are these all by this mysterious Banksy. Is he just one person. Is this real life?

Who knows anything for sure anyway right.

It is what you take from it. I love the mystery and the image speaks a powerful message to me. All I do know is I wear it proud and will do so till the end of my days.

be bold and work wonders…

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Saturday morning was my friend Suzanne’s baby shower. I have known her since we were 5 year olds playing in the gardens and streets of our little home town. I am super excited for her (even though I am NOT yet ready to have kids…). To show I am no young mother to be, I made a collage for the kid’s room and wrote her a letter for when she turns 21…

 

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Mom-to-be and aunt-to-be

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these girls have all been in my life for over 20 years!!DSC01183 DSC01197 DSC01199

After drinking tea like a fucking lady (see above) I rushed back from Paarl to get to the AfrikaBurn picnic – Park Off – where my DPW crew had long since been putting up tents and signs.

DSC01231 DSC01237My little brother, what a legend.

DSC01240Sunday night we made samoosas… Happy white girl.

all over the show

Last week in my life was a tad hectic.

AfrikaBurn / DPW meetings are taking over almost every night of my life… as of today I am full time employed by the Org as we start sprinting towards the event. The clan burns in 60 days! and we leave for the karoo in 35!! *insert hysterical laughter here*

Wednesday night we went to Eminem at Cape Town Stadium. I do not want to say too much about this, it seems everyone else had a better experience than me, which makes me sad cause I feel like I am a bigger fan than most of them.

Maybe working at events have ruined going to events for me. I felt that the organisation at the venue was poor, there were too many people (there for the pop hits and not knowing the few real old hits he did) and well, we waited way too long for beers…

zombies leaving the show. stand in line humans

zombies leaving the show. stand in line humans

Anyway. Had fun non the less, like I said to H afterwards, I do enjoy a bit of an angry party occasionally and I did get to flip the bird more than usual…

Thursday my housemate and I helped out my super talented cousin Hendrik Coetzee and event organiser Hannerie Visser set up a dinner for Nando’s/Spier Architectural Arts/Design Indaba. Lots of fun with tiles and deconstructed ox and butcher themes…

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Then it was off to wine at Publik and dinner with the girls and by Friday noon I felt I needed to escape. So off the the farm I went…

Just what the doctor ordered.

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I took lots of naps, played with the kids, ate well, drank lots of wine, watched the pretty boys work topless in the cellar while enjoying the sounds and smells of harvest.

Got woken up by 4yo Ana and 8yo Samuel climbing into bed with me on Saturday morning. Watched the first session of the cricket, played with the kids, ate well, drank lots of wine… and made a pretty impressive paper dress with Ana…

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Early Sunday it was back to town to do an hour or so at our DPW workshop and then off to hair and make up for the last Arnreuby fashion show at Cointreau’s Summer Chic event at The Grand.

1781904_10151976064321638_413955447_nWhich turned into a long day of drinking red wine, eating stew and talking nonsense (and a lot of sense) with new friends on a rainy day.

Clothing by Odysseus / Arnreuby

Hair and make-up by Klio.

New week, new things.