2022 was a good year for me.

The best thing that happened to me this year was my son Jason getting married to a wonderful girl called Tammy. It’s always great when your children find love and happiness. An added bonus is when the in-laws turn out to be the best and you get on with them like you’ve known each other for ever. I took a trip to Cape Town for the wedding and managed to explore all the museums that I’ve been wanting to, plus spent an awesome day exploring Cape Towns graffiti with an old friend – I wish I could have caught up with others.

JOBURG – Another year of adventures in this wonderful City that is getting grittier and harsher by the day but my love for it has not waned and, as I take a break over the festive season, my note book is filling up with new interesting places to visit in the new year. Art events and gallery visits seemed to be what occupied most of my ventures this past year and, hopefully, will continue into the new year. I find them very inspirational.

ART – I’ve been sketching and even joined the Urban Sketchers for an event at the Braamfontein cemetery and loved it. Unfortunately, all the other get-togethers were on days when I had other commitments, but I will be joining them more often in the new year. I have also been trying my hand at water colours, which I’ve enjoyed.

BOOKS – I set myself a goal at the beginning of the year to read more and I’m happy to say that I’ve read twenty eight books, thanks to Eskom and load shedding. I’ve learnt a lot and now have a deeper understanding of, and about, apartheid, refugees, racism, treatment of domestic workers during and post apartheid, gender based violence and so much more – something I feel more South Africans should learn about.

GRATEFUL – that my kids in Perth recovered from a dose of Covid, the rest of the kids and grandkids are all fit and doing good, Terry and I have once again escaped getting sick. Thankful for modern technology such as facetime making the world a whole lot smaller so as to keep in contact with everyone.

The voices continue to fill my head with ideas for future projects – oh boy, 2023 is going to be a busy year. I just hope I have the energy for all of it – painting, sketching, stitching, crocheting, beading, reading, etc. etc.

I will continue to only buy 2nd hand clothing, try and control my sweet tooth, to swim more, to love harder and laugh louder, to be gentle with those going through a tough time, to get my fingers dirty, to stay positive and to cut negativity out of my life – shoo that’s going to be a hard one!

To 2023 – Please be gentle with us, we are all still a little battered by 2020, 2021 and 2022.

(Cover photograph is of a building I have admired for a couple of years in Hatfield, Pretoria, close to the Gauteng station. I love it for it’s bright rainbow colours and thanks to Johannesburg in Your Pocket for the Jacaranda walk this year that gave me the opportunity to photograph it.)

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Joburg places that feed my soul – Cemeteries – Part One.

Looking back I think my love of cemeteries initially started with my Nan taking us along with her to clean my Oupa’s grave in the Kimberley cemetery. While she painstakingly cleaned his grave we played amongst the graves and collected the tiny green ball-like cones off the distinctive smelling Conifer trees – to this day they are still what I always refer to as cemetery trees yet there don’t seem to be many if any in the cemeteries I frequent here in Joburg. I’ll let you in on a little secret – West Park has Jacaranda lined streets which are wonderful to photograph during their flowering season.

When we moved to Hillbrow after the divorce of my parents, my Mom would take us to the Braamfontein Cemetery and leave us there to play and explore or just to use up some of our youthful energy. My brother would take great joy in scaring the living hell out of my sister and I while we waited at the main gate, as the sun was setting, for my mom to fetch us. Well that should have put me off but instead I took my kids to explore and ride their bicycles in West Park Cemetery when they were growing up.

My Nan is buried in West Park cemetery and after she had passed I would often visit her grave to chat, to think or just for the tranquillity of the place but then it became too unsafe to visit and I stopped. Years later I met and got chatting about my love of cemeteries to Jane O’Connor on a heritage tour of – you’ve guess it – the cemeteries in Soweto.

She told me of the group she belonged to who did recording of tombstones and that I should join them. At that stage they were working in the Germiston cemetery which did not hold much interest for me, and it was only when I heard they had moved to West Park that I considered joining the SEWFHS (South East Witwatersrand Family History Society). The SEWFHS was started in 1988 by a small group of people interested in genealogy and they have recorded well over nine hundred thousand graves which anyone can access on the eGSSA (Genealogical Society of SA) website. You can read up more on them here http://www.sewfamhistory.wordpress.com. or check out their Facebook page.

I had taken a long break from the group for a number of personal reasons but as they are now heading toward the end of documenting West Park I felt this was a great time to spend some time with them. It felt like I had not taken anytime away from the group – fitting right back in – and after catching up we got stuck into photographing the grave stones to the sounds of prayer, music from brass bands, school/church bands, recorded songs with special meanings to those left behind, pastors delivering their scriptures in a powerful or singing voices – it really gives one the time to reflect how fortunate you are.

We stopped for tea halfway through the task at hand and then for lunch at the end under the shade of the trees, this group is so well organised with everything but the kitchen sink. Time to chat, download photo’s ready to be sent off to the eGSSA, while ice cream and candy floss sellers cycle around the large amount of mourners. The cemetery was busier than a shopping mall yesterday – sadly, so many funerals that I got stuck in a traffic jam just to get out of West Park,

If you feel that you are a Taphophile or just a Tombstone Tourist with a love of taking photographs you might want to join this group and contribute towards the database that has assisted so many in finding where family have been laid to rest.

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Mushrooming – learning new things.

I could not have thought of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than when I received an invitation from Trinity Sessions to join Matt and Sven, from Afrifungi, to learn how to cultivate and grow my own edible mushrooms as I simply LOVE mushrooms in any form and can proudly say I’ve even baked the odd mushroom cake.

We had a brief introduction on how mushrooms start off, their purpose and the understanding of FUNGI as the superhero’s of the natural world. This part really intrigued me as we have always had mushrooms sprouting up in our garden or fungi growing on logs I’ve saved from trees which have had to be cut down or discovering rather large mushrooms in our parks and cemeteries – next workshop I need is to attend is how to forage for mushrooms and how to identify edible ones.

Onto the practical side – we were each given a log suitable for the growing of Shiitake mushrooms, these were from an Oak Cork tree. Holes had to be drilled into the log, keeping a diamond pattern going all the way around, after which we plugged them with little Shiitake mushroom plugs (available from Afrifungi) using a wooden mallet (hammer) to tap them securely into place. Lastly we painted melted wax over each plug and our logs were complete. Now to find the perfect spot for my log in the garden as I exercise patience for the next eight to twelve months not forgetting to keep it moist once a week. I am so looking forward to watching this process and eventually harvesting my shiitake mushrooms for the pan.

Onto the preparation of our Oyster Mushroom buckets. This was relatively easy to do and I wondered why it has not become more popular for households to have their own oyster mushrooms to harvest. Into a 5lt bucket, with a few holes drilled in, we layered straw substrate and cultivated spawn for oyster mushrooms, pushing each layer down tightly until the top of the bucket was reached. On reaching the top we piled more straw substrate on so as to allow the lid to push the layers down even tighter. We then taped up the holes with sticky tape which one removes once the straw is covered in a white web called mycelium, allowing the mushrooms to develop out of these little holes. This is going to be exciting to watch.

We had such fun even wanting to name our logs and buckets and starting a social media page to show off our “babies” growth to each other. I can highly recommend taking this workshop, which you can do by contacting either Matt or Sven @Afrifungi on Facebook.

I would like to thank Trinity Sessions and Afrifungi for this opportunity – I loved every minute of it.

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Jozi places that feed my soul – Hillbrow Tower

So much has changed during this pandemic and I feel that my blog needs to change as well. Instead of blogging about Joburg suburbs, which has fallen a little by the wayside as I’m sure you have noticed, I will endeavour to blog about Joburg places, events and things that feed my soul one at a time.

First on the list has got to be the the iconic HILLBROW TOWER which gives me warm fuzzy feelings everytime I see it. No matter where I go in the Joburg area I’m always looking out for it, it’s almost like a comforter, the big mama of Jozi, reassuring me that I have not strayed too far and giving me an indication of how long it will take me to get back home and in what direction I should be travelling should I get a little lost.

She majestically stands tall watching over all of us, just like any mother would. It’s a special kind of welcoming beacon when returning to Joburg from a distant holiday, be it by road or air. As soon as one see’s the tower you feel as though it’s as happy to see you as you are to see it – I’m home.

When my parents got divorced, we siblings and my Mum left our home in Cyrildene and moved into a flat in Hillbrow – Burlington Court – at about the same time (or just before) that they started building the tower. It was new beginnings for us and for the skyline of Jozi. Hillbrow was home and the first place where I felt that we belonged, we were happy.

The Construction on the tower started in 1968 and was completed in 1971, at a cost of R2million, and was originally called the J G Strijdom Tower after J G Strijdom the South African Prime Minister from 1954 – 1958, and thank heavens that name does not apply any longer. It stands at a height of 269 meters which is equivalent to 63 floors or stories. They closed access to the general public in 1981 for security reasons however it still remains in use by the owners, Telkom.

It housed two restaurants, the Heinrich and the Grill Room, but these both were a little out of my league with a four course meal costing R5-00, whereas just up the road at the Skyline hotel which was in the heart of all the nightlife action, you could get a three course meal for 25 cents – great value for money. The lure of the viewing deck at that stage of my life was a case of once you had been there there was really no need to go again, a bit like we regard the viewing deck at the Carlton, plus Cloud Nine, the disco on one of the public floors, gave you the same views as you partied the night away anyhow. I didn’t go very often as it had what we would call today a Sandton vibe about it plus those lifts did not make me a happy girl and I always had thoughts of getting stuck, apart from which I’m more a “voete plat op die aarde” (feet on the ground) type of person.

I want to be able to give her a “HUG ME” wrap as I can’t possible get my arms around her. The tower will always remind me of happy family times and an area I still to this day regard as HOME, it’s part of who I am.

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Shooo! – They Say A Lady Never Reveals Her Age.

In a few days I’ll be turning a year older, this is going to be such a big one for me, that I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. On the one hand it’s really getting to me and on the other I know I should be rejoicing that I have been privileged to reach this milestone, not many do. Can I claim that I’m AGE PRIVILEGED??

How does one celebrate this ginormous number? I’m not a fan of partying since I gave up drinking, plus it’s my day, I don’t want to be feeling overwhelmed by ensuring my guests are okay. Maybe it’s just a time to reflect on ones life and the people who have been there for you.

My parents – who in some strange way taught us to be adventurous, to not be afraid, to try new things, to taste before we say we don’t like, that beauty comes from within and that the sun does not only shine for people with perfect bodies, that everyone has a story and to respect that. And so many other worthwhile lessons

My siblings – I have such a wonderful relationship with both my brother and my sister, our regular chats mean so much to me. My visits to the farm are special times, just wish my sister was not so far away.

My Husband – He is my second, something not many people get is the opportunity of having a second chance at love and companionship. He supports me in everything I do and is also my best friend, my confidante and so much more.

My Children – Who have shown me that I must have had a few good mothering skills, as they have made me so very proud of who they have become. I also have wonderful stepchildren and awesome grandchildren.

Friendships – Friends come and go but they all contribute something to ones life, some teach us lessons, some inspire us, others offer us comfort when needed and then there are those that are just so much fun to be with. I’m grateful for all of them.

Ozzie – my little feathered child who gives me so much joy and also has the ability to drive me totally around the bend. He calls my name, asks me what I’m doing, tells me to ‘come sit here’ with him, tells Terry “are you crazy” regularly, laughs when we do, mumbles when we are having a conversation with the odd “mmm” as if he understands and agrees, who loves to hear my sister on the phone, gets so excited when we play voice messages from the grandkids. Best of all are the early morning conversations with himself before we get up in whispering tones, as if not to disturb us.

I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve been loved, I’ve been hurt and I might have hurt, I’ve laughed and cried, I’ve explored near and far, I’ve experience success and failure, picked myself up and dusted myself off too many times, I’ve had some highs and some lows, I’ve ridden this rollercoaster of life to the best of my ability but I’ve mainly surfed the happy plains of life.

A bonus is that the World Health Organisation classifies my age group as Middle Age, I’m still relatively fit, my marbles are all in place bar a few that go wandering off when I need them, my brain says I’m in my twenties – hip hip hooray, oh I wish but lets be realistic, I don’t feel a day over forty something. Unfortunately, my body sometimes has other ideas, like not allowing me to climb a million stairs, walk long distances, work in the garden for too long etc. then taking hours, days to recover. God I wish it would just listen to my brain!

All in all I’m healthy, happy and content.

Happy 70th birthday to me!

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Year in Review 2021 – The Good, the Bad and the Wish List.

I had all intentions of breaking up my review of 2021 into chapters after looking at my social media posts, photos and diary. But, after having another look at Facebook and my Instagram accounts for the year I’ve decided that I’m so transparent on those two sites that I really don’t need to repeat everything. plus a girl can change her mind.

The Good – The year has been good to me and my family, we have all been relatively safe from Covid and any other medical issues, which is a blessing considering the times we live in.

I manged to do a couple of great walks with Johannesburg Heritage, a super graffiti walk with the Goethe-Institut South Africa, a jacaranda walk lead by Heather for Joburg In Your Pocket and Radisson Red Hotel Rosebank and a tour of the developments at Con Hill including the new creative hub in the old Transwerke building with MariaPoala.

Had some awesome meetups with friends, my highlights included a lunch at the Turkish Mosque Nizamiye in Midrand as well as another lunch at The View, the HQ of the Transvaal Scottish. Did some shopping in Diagonal Street and explored some new places such as the stunning hotel in Linbro Park – Qurtuba Hotel and Conference Centre, ending off with a great lunch, to name a few.

Did lots of artwork including contributing to “Roses against Violence”, “Garden of Yarn”, “16Days of Activism” as well as fostering an on-going awareness of the importance of trees and guerrilla gardening. Photography took a bit of a back seat this year with my only involvement being the unveiling of blue plaques on Kallenbach drive and the Tents in Grove road for the Kallenbach project and having a few photo’s used in publications otherwise it was just for my own pleasure.

Had our Koi fish adopted and turned their home into an awesome splash pool, hence my wanting to spend more time at home – never thought we would enjoy it as much as we have. Spent time getting back into gardening and some baking while Terry has almost graduated as my favourite chef.

The Bad – The Government and Politicians still do not fail to disappoint. Corporates cutting down trees so as to gain a better view of their billboards. Lack of service delivery and the overall collapse of all SOE’s.

My motto going forward…If you can’t fix it then don’t let it eat at your health – move on.

Sadly I also lost some very dear and special people who are now flying with the angels and hopefully looking after us.

My Wish List for 2022 – That we display more empathy, understanding and kindness towards all, irrespective of their circumstances. Most importantly that we think before we speak, putting ourselves in others shoes. That we are gentle towards mother earth and watch our carbon footprint.

I wish you all good health, happiness and tons of love.

Photo captions from top to bottom, left to right. –

  • Dr Foodz our tour guide on the Goethe graffiti walk. Radisson Red with Usha’s wings on the Joburg In Your Pocket jacaranda walk. From the Killarney walk.
  • Rooftop of the Transwerke building at Con Hill. Women’s prison at Con Hill. Nizamiye Mosque in Midrand. Daventry Court, Killarney.
  • Small prayer room at the Qurtuba Hotel. Muti shop on Diagonal Street. The View in Parktown.
  • Roses against violence. Garden of Yarn. Artists against GBV. Tree hugging.
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2021 – A year in Review – Resolutions

I do this every year, staring at this blank page trying to put the year into perspective. My immediate response is that it was not such a bad year for me and our family, we have all escaped been seriously ill during this continuation of the Covid pandemic and we have all been relatively happy. I do and have felt for so many people who have experienced so much hardship during this seemingly never ending pandemic.

After looking through photos, diaries and postings I’ve decided this blog is going to be too long, so I’m going to break it up in episodes of my year 2021.

Episode One – Resolutions

I’m not one to make resolutions because as we all know – hardly anyone sticks to them. But I did!

I pledged at the start of the year I would not buy any new clothes or things I could not use or needed and I can proudly say I have achieved that and will continue doing so next year. It was made relatively easy by not attending markets, spending no more time than was needed in shopping malls therefore – no temptation. I did test myself out a couple of times and can honestly say nothing made me say “I have to have that!”

Confession – I did still go to the charity shops. I bought wool, embroidery cottons, buttons and an almost brand new Woolworths coat for R60 (that was the only bit of clothing and forgive me but at that price it was a bargain not to be missed). From the retail outlets nothing but food and of course, with our converted pool – a pool noodle.

Books – well that is a whole different story. I did not attend any of the book fairs therefore did not buy as many as I normally would have; I bought a couple from the Hospice R10 table and a couple of sought after books from my dear friends Matthew and Doron and who can resist the WITS bookshop sale when their very informative books on Joburg and the arts go for less 50%.

I found this resolution rather easy to keep so will put it back on my resolution list for 2022.

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Freedom Day

Today, in 1994, we held our first democratic, post-apartheid elections. We stood together edging forward at a snails pace in long snake-like queues, excited and full of hope for the future. We didn’t mind the wait as we chatted with neighbours and made friends with those around us, it really was a day to remember and a privilege to be part of. It was also my eldest sons first experience of casting a vote, making this day even more special. The liberation of most of our people looked bright and I had high hopes for all of us.

In 1995 we held the Rugby World Cup with the final been played right here in Joburg. Even before the game started we were one big happy rainbow nation, how excited we all were at this new way of living and accepting of each other.

Now twenty seven years down the line, I ask myself, am I and others FREE? What does FREEDOM mean to any of us?

To define Freedom – FREEDOM should mean the emancipation from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

Are we FREE? We are being lead by a corrupt government who have destroyed our infrastructure, who have not delivered on promises of housing, free schooling, health care, safety etc. etc. Our country is falling apart and no one seems to care enough to do anything about it – apparently, not even our President.

Have we become to complacent?

Are our voices not heard?

Are we happy with what we perceive to be FREEDOM?

We have so many people living in inhumane conditions – are they free to make choices?

Our crime rate is out of control, especially towards women who are raped and killed daily – are we as women FREE?

We have a very high rate of unemployment, yet our professionals/skilled people sit at home whilst everything collapses around us.

We have Khoisan people camping at the Union Buildings for over two years in protest over their non-recognition as the first nation of the country – and nothing! (https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news/khoisan-protest-at-union-buildings-enters-into-third-year-8d2ef854-e181-4ccc-9fd6-8e88e2fd58bb)

We have artists protesting at the National Arts Council building for over fifty days over the mismanagement of a R300million Covid Relief fund – and nothing!

I’m by no means a negative person and am always looking for the good in everything – and yes, there is good – but it is now beginning to be overshadowed by the absolute incompetence of our leaders and the collapse of our State Owned Enterprises.

I have no solution for any of this but I want to be able to walk freely, speak freely and live in harmony with my fellow citizens who have the right to choose how they live, free from poverty and inequalities.

FREEDOM DAY should be a time to reflect on how we can move forward together, as a strong, unified nation.

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Dancing in the Park

I’ve been looking at ways to push myself out of my comfort zone but in a holistic way, a means of reinventing the way I live going forward from Covid, I don’t want to go back to the way I did things before. So, when I received an invite to “Dance in the Park” from Drew, on behalf of the Biodanza Facilitators of South Africa, to join them in Delta Park on Sunday I had to go, even if this first time was to just stand on the side lines and experience what it was all about.

I knew Drew, and possibly Dionne, would be there but to my surprise a number of my other friends were there as well, making me feel right at home as they encouraged me throughout the event to take part, thanks guys! I’m not going to try rewriting the understanding of what Biodanza – “The Dance of Life” is about, you can find that here https://biodanza4africa.org.za I’m going to share my experience of Sundays event.

I arrived a little late to find everyone sitting in a circle on the grounds of the Delta Scout hall, with strips of cloth in front of each of them, Virginie welcomed me and offered me one of the ribbons of cloth as I walked towards the circle. These would later be used to link each other together in the opening dance. Greetings and formalities over it was time to start the music – the dancing is very much freestyle, it’s all about feeling the music but staying in tune with each other. There are no rules and if you wish to go off on your own you may do so. Some chose to do this barefoot, I think I would have been in that group, some had their eyes partially closed, others smiling and interacting with each other with their eyes and a smile but no spoken words, after all this was to be as one with the music. The music ranged from upbeat to tranquil throughout the session. Seeing some of the energy displayed by most – I would say it’s also a good workout.

The event was broken up into various meaningful activities, such as greeting each other in a dance form but not speaking or touching each other, walking quietly while the music changed from one piece to the next, interacting in a dance form with a partner, standing in silence with your hand on your heart, eyes closed and counting your blessings while soft sounds of what I would call meditation music played. However my favourite had to be the creating of a circle with leaves whilst dancingly passing the leaves from the collector to the creator, this was very special and I could see something like this happening in a land art activation, which is my other passion.

The candle ceremony and the writing of wishes for our planet and those that live upon it on flags, followed by a dance in order to string them up, was extremely special. I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next one when I will leave my camera and phone behind and fully immerse myself in the celebration. Thank you to the facilitators Michele, Drew, Virginie and Aniesa who quietly in the background controlled the music, for one of the most moving activities I’ve attended in a long time.

It ended off with a shared picnic and I regret not staying until I was the last car driving out. What a wonderful bunch of people. Should you wish to attend a class or event, please refer to the web page mentioned at the top.

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Street Guards doing it for themselves.

I always get excited when I see a residential pavement growing veggies and fruit besides the usual pretty flowers and lawns. On a visit to Kimberley a few years ago I thought they had got pavements/sidewalks so right, with streets lined with lemon and olive trees. Look, don’t get me wrong – I love our Jacaranda’s, Oaks and Plane trees but it would be nice to have the odd food producing tree in-between. With some of our trees now being attacked by the Borer Beetle or just coming to their end, it would be nice to replace some of them with trees we could benefit from.

I’ve recently came across three street guards who have developed “Guerrilla Gardens” along side their huts but before I introduce them, a little background information on what a Guerrilla Garden is. It’s creating a garden on land that does not belong to you such as sidewalks, vacant land etc. which is perceived to be abandoned or neglected by it’s legal owner. It can be an easy, low cost way of beautifying a neighbourhood, to prevent negative consequences such as dumping by creating an ‘Urban Foodscape’ and allowing for foraging and self-sufficiency which in turn increases local food security.

Right down the road from me in Kensington is Philani a street guard on Suffolk Street who has a very impressive Urban Foodscape along the sidewalk at the back of a school playing fields. He has a good selection of veggies from spring onions, cabbages, tomatoes, pumpkins to mielies etc. He says sometimes the residents buy from him and he also helps those who have fallen on hard times.

In Observatory there is Khulekani, a street guard on Gerald Street. Besides his urban foodscape he sells bird feeders and suet blocks, which one of the residents makes. What a delight it is when you stop at his garden as you can do a bit of urban bird watching as all the birds come down to feast on some of the food put out for them. Khulekani is mastering the art of sweet potato growing, hence the tyres.

Finally all the way across town in Craighall on Smit Road is Francis. I’ve always admired this little hut on my way to the REEA bookshop as Francis always has beautiful hanging baskets of flowers on his quaint hut and alongside is his urban foodscape. Francis was really pleading with me to come back when his garden is looking a little better as the heavy rains we have had, have not been to good for it.

I’m so in awe of this idea that I do hope other street guards and/or residents who have the ability and time to tend to these type of urban foodscapes join in. A neighbour in our street has taken out the flowers from the pots that stand on either side of her entrance and planted tomatoes and green peppers in their place and she has also planted two apricots trees where ornamental trees once stood.

If you have a street guard on your street who is creating an urban foodscape, chat to them and possibly help him by giving them some seeds that you’ve either bought, saved or have an excess of.

(Both Khulekani and Francis declined to be photographed)

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#1billionrising2021 – Rising Gardens

I was made aware of this years 1Billion Rising campaign when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in taking part in the Garden of Yarns at The Wilds (a nature reserve in the heart of Johannesburg) cumulating on the 14th February. A garden would be entirely made up of crochet, knitted and embroidered blooms. Yay! At last, a place to use some of the hundreds of roses I had crocheted. I of course jumped at the opportunity to put some meaning and purpose into these roses and working with a group of likeminded people creating awareness of an issue that is close to my heart, is always a plus in my book.

One Billion Rising is a global campaign started by Eve Ensler to raise awareness and hopefully stop rape and sexual violence against women. The On Billion refers to the UN statistic that one in every three women would be raped or beaten in her lifetime, how very sad is that! This years theme was One Billion Rising 2021 – Rising Garden (which you can read up about here onebillionrising.org)

For the Garden of Yarns one of the meaningful things I created was what I named “Ribbons of Roses” – these colourful roses would represent the different forms of violence, rape and abuse that women go through and yet together we stand by listening, comforting and supporting each other.

I also went with another campaign called #rosesagainstviolence as I had quite a few purple roses in my pile, which I attached the tag I got from their template to. These would not only go into the Garden of Yarns but I would also place them in and around the city to create awareness. On their blog you will find a video of how to do the roses plus the template for the tags so let’s fill our world with these roses. rosesagainstviolence.wordpress.com

We had hardly finished our garden when the rape statics for South Africa from October to December 2020 were made public – and these are only the reported cases – 12,218 people were raped in this three month period equating to 133 people being raped every single day. One can only imagine what the number for domestic violence and verbal abuse must be.

Is it the way we raise our boys? Is it a cultural thing where the men feel in power and to some extent claim ownership of us? Do our protector’s not do enough? Are the systems failing us? Do these awareness campaigns make a difference? How do we move forward? So many questions with far too few answers. We need to be heard that “Enough is Enough”.

Thanks to Stacey Rozen who managed the Garden of Yarns, all my fellow craftivists, to One Billion Rising and Roses Against Violence. Let’s keep active until change is seen.

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Me and the Pandemic called Corona.

The R.E.M song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” has been playing over and over in my head for days now, except I don’t feel fine and most certainly don’t need anymore time alone – I’m a social person, I need people even if it’s just to watch them over a cup of coffee but that too gets my anxiety levels up…..I’ve become a homebody!

However the song resonates with me as we cannot possibly go back to the world we once knew, where we showed a total lack of concern for the planet we live upon or the creatures we share it with. Corona has possibly made us more aware of our actions and hopefully we will all learn something from it.

Am I scared of this virus referred to as Covid19 – hell yes! It occupies my mind much of the time when I am out, remembering to sanitise, to not touch my face and trying to stay clear of those non-conformists who don’t know how to, or want to, wear a mask or understand the meaning of social distancing. I wish we would all just do as we are told to so as to get over this pandemic. Do I keep up with what is on social media about the virus? Not much really as it’s difficult to distinguish what is the truth and what is not.

Besides the uncertainty of this pandemic, along with the anxiety, feeling scared and sometimes how depressive the whole situation is, it was, and still is, a time to take a break and reflect on ones life and what is important and how we would like the world to be moving forward. I can’t fix the world but I can fix my world.

  • I’m beginning to realise that most things can be enjoyed right here at home. A bit of gardening is a great workout. You can create a culinary experience in your own kitchen. One can develop ones photographic skills in and around your home. Google, Pinterest and YouTube have become my tutors, I learnt to crochet from YouTube, make books amongst other things from Pinterest and learnt a lot of worldly knowledge from Google.
  • Shopping less – we don’t need stuff to make us happy, it only weighs us down. I am, however, still in the process of learning to throw things out, damn how I wish things did not bring back memories or that I could stop seeing the potential in everything.
  • Supporting local and one of them being the Urban Farms that I have right on my doorstep which will also get us to use what is seasonal and organic. I know you want to tell me to start my own veggie garden, been there, tried it and for two people you land up with way too much of a few things, besides fighting with all the little creatures who also see this as a food source. I share my fig tree with a multitude of birds and would not have it any other way but can someone tell me how I get them to finish off one fig before attacking the next.
  • Plastic! This is a difficult one as most things come in plastic but we have not bought a plastic shopping bag for a very long time now, we separate our waste, making it easier for the recyclers. We all just have to be more aware of how we dispose of our plastic waste. Polystyrene is another problem so I’d rather not support or buy anything that is packaged in it.
  • Speak up – I’ve found my voice to speak up on issues that do not sit well with our environment, our planet, our creatures and any of our people.

A small start and I’m already starting to feel lighter but the two things I’m most happy about is I don’t suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) any more. I’ve realised I do not need to attend EVERYTHING that is happening in the city any longer, but best of all is that my book addiction is no more and it’s now time to enjoy those books I have not read.

Get out there and smell the roses, feel the earth beneath your feet and do things that make you happy for TODAY is always going to be the only day you have.

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2020 – My year in review – what a year!

2020 started off like all previous years with phrases such as – this is going to be the year, thank heavens 2019 is over, this is my year etc. etc. Little did we know how 2020 was going to put the world in turmoil, that life as we knew it was not going to be the same, that we were going to have to make changes to how we lived, hugs and kisses where no longer going to be allowed as signs of affection and wearing a mask was going to become the new normal.

Early January and I’d excitedly booked a few tours with Johannesburg Heritage, which were to places I really wanted to visit and learn more about. One was Rose Road in Houghton (got this one in before lock down) and the other was Noordegesig (cancelled due to lock down). The Public Swimming Pool group decided to visit one more pool and then finish off the project with an exhibition and a Zine on the project would be for sale at Victoria Yards in early MAY (cancelled due to lock down).

Everything was like it normally was – the white butterflies migrated, Friends of the Cemeteries met for their cleanup sessions. I won a tour with Joburg Places as well as a trip around Joburg in the cutest car called a Jozibug, a tour with Joburg360, went with friends to a storytelling dinner at the Thunder Walker, Terry won some money on a Jacaranda radio competition – things were looking good so far.

A group of us arranged a tour to Alexandra township to attend a Shembe church gathering, which turned out to be a tour of the hostels as the members of the Shembe church had gone off to pray somewhere else. We were not disappointed as this was another side of township life we had wished to explore. Little did we realise that our lives were about to change and that this would be our last outing for awhile.

MARCH 2020 and the stories had started to surface, I did not take much notice of what was happening in China but became more concerned when Australia ran out of toilet paper, people were panicking and had started to horde but why toilet paper? Stories of a strict lockdown for 21 days had been circulated as the Covid19 virus had hit our shores. My brother-in-law was here and needed to get back to New Zealand before the world went into lock down, I felt my sisters panic, it now became very real. Well the rest we all know.

I began to knit, crochet, draw, sketch, embroider, clean out, we painted our lounge, tended to our garden, baked, the Jozi Land artists did a virtual Land Art event and I attend more webinars than I can count. All in all I had a lot to do but the best was that I did not need to suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as we were all locked up and nothing was happening out there. Pull on pants, sloppy tops and slippers became the attire of the day, hair went almost to grey but I was happy and above all else healthy and so was my family. It was good to get dressed up to go to the shops for essentials but equally good to get back to the safety of my home.

JULY restrictions started to be lifted and parks were opened. My first social outing was a walk in the park with friends which, in all honesty, I did not enjoy as I just wanted to get home. This anxious feeling lasted for a while when going out, there was no coffee chats or moving on to some other place as it was a case of do what you intended and get home. By late AUGUST it was almost back to normal with exploring places, doing photo walks and socializing with friends – all done, of course, with a mask, sanitizing of hands and trying very hard not to touch ones face.

I did some Land Art at the Hilson Bridge festive festival, bade farewell to a few friends who moved down South, started a few projects that will carry me into 2021. I can honestly say that with this new strain of the virus, I would welcome another lockdown. People have become far too relaxed plus I feel we need to learn some lessons from this – if only to be better Humans and to understand that we need to take care of Mother Earth.

2020 taught me a few things that I’m grateful for – I don’t need to surround myself with stuff, I don’t need so much of anything, I can let go of things that don’t add to the happiness of my life as well as to not sweat the small stuff. As long as my family are healthy, safe and happy, I have my person to take care of and he of me, to give me the odd hug and to continue to understand where I’m at, all is good. I can’t forget my wonderful feathered baby who never fails to amuse me.

I don’t think the beginning of 2021 is going to be any better than what we are experiencing now but hopefully it will improve as the months go by.

I wish you all well…lets try and make the most of a bad situation, take care and respect each other plus do our bit to make the world a better place.

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I’m going to try and give this a bash, have been nagged on many occasions to start a blog. (You know who you are).

I’ve set myself a goal for 2018 and that is to try and find special places, interesting facts, special people who live in each and every suburb of the greater Johannesburg. Have you any idea how many suburbs there are? About 80 plus and that’s not including the townships which I hope to do as well.

If you live in a suburb of Joburg and have something interesting to share please drop me a line.

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