Namaste!

The beginning was a phone call that started with “So, is your passport up to date?”

The middle was ten flights in two weeks.  Driving in the back of a dusty Landrover along mountain cliffs, Sherpas, Shamans, long, hot , dusty days of sensory overloads, yaks, snow on the mountains, herding baby cows, walking and walking, little, sweet cups of cooled ginger tea in hotel lobbies, a little bit of sunburn, a lot of rice and whole days made up of extraordinary moments that always came as a complete surprise.

The end was an exhale.

I can’t wait to share stories of my time in Nepal over the next couple of posts with you here.

 

 

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Colouring In

It’s my favourite time of year.  I’m not sure why nature slowly dying into hibernation feels so thrilling, but it really does.  In this season of death and wintery sleep I watch as things come together, things come apart.  Rings are given and taken off. Decisions are made that seem to make little sense but to the hearts of the deciders.  The wind blows, the sun shines and leaves dance to the ground.  Things they are a happening.

I had a thought recently, a wonder really, if I have simplified my life to the point of emptiness.  Woaw.  If messy felt too scary, so I just stopped.  Stopped being brave, speaking the things that felt uncomfortable to speak, stopped writing, stopped trying, stopped dreaming, planning, stopped it all.

Until I suddenly found myself in a white room, sitting at a white table, with a white light buzzing dreadfully above my head, and nothing else.  From the other side of the one way mirror this might look good.  Swedish, minimalist good.  Simple, pure, uncluttered.  But from the inside, those white walls and that buzzing light gets whiter and brighter and whiter and brighter, until existence seems like the permanent moment a bomb detonates.  A long silence before the carnage.  But the carnage never comes.

A ‘If You Don’t Try You Can’t Fail’ banner hangs silent and unmoving on the wall above where the door should be. There is no despair here, in the white room of nothingness.  Despair would mean struggle, attempt, action.  There is only unmoving nothingness.  A clean, cool, climate controlled space.  Stuffiness would be a relief.

Here’s the good news.  I know it now.  I suddenly looked up and saw the white.  All around.  I felt no chill on my skin, no bead of sweat under my fringe and I knew.  I was in the room.

It’s time to head back to colour.

 

 

 

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Stumbling upon Paradise

I was completely unprepared for Paradise.  It  took me utterly by surprise, took my breath away, then released me back into the world to re-acclimatise to life outside of its perfect walls.

My friend, Lindsay-Jane, and I have a tradition of going to Cape Town for a few days together at the beginning of each year.  Okay technically we’ve done it twice now.  Maybe twice isn’t enough to call it a tradition, but we plan on doing it for years to come, so perhaps a tradition in the making.  Nah, it’s a tradition.  Our tradition.

Back to Paradise.  Last weekend was Cape Town weekend.  Some how, the tradition gods all got together around the water cooler and declared it a weekend of magic and wonder.  And wandering and excellent coffee and getting a table straight away at every busy restaurant we went to.  And the weather holding off perfectly until we were ready to spend a rainy, cosy afternoon in bed eating dark chocolate and watching old episodes of Sex and the City.

On Sunday afternoon we headed out of the city towards Franschoek to a wine farm called Babylonstoren.  It was well, Paradise.  That’s the last time I’m going to say that. Past the rows of rows of vineyards, which always seem like a dream,  there was beautifully maintained gardens. Upon gardens. Upon gardens.  Not too manicured or haughty, just right.  Rows and rows of vegetables growing boldly towards the sun.  I saw a pumpkin the size of a wheelbarrow.  Sadly I was too busy tapping it to make sure it was real to think to take a photograph.

There were donkeys, turkeys, a squirrel and countless chickens all wandering around freely.  Luckiest farm animals around. We ate lunch next to a green house which is also a restaurant.  Our salads came in jars (sounds weird, was awesome) and our waiter had a great knowledge of the wines and meals they served.

Throughout the gardens there were benches and chairs, dotted around under trees, between archways, right at the spot where you need to put your feet up and breath for a bit.  In the middle of a garden we stumbled upon a man on a bicycle selling sorbet and ice water.  “Sorbet or iced water?”, he casually and friendly-ly offered.

As well as the greenhouse restaurant and glorious gardens, there is the main restaurant, Babel, which, if you have patience for the three month waiting list, is I am sure, completely worth the three month waiting list.  There is also a beautiful shop selling glass jars, candles, table clothes, hats, beautiful ceramics, pretty much anything you can imagine to take home a piece of the experience.

Oh and there’s wine tasting.  Wine tasting as a tortoise strolls past munching on a piece of lettuce.  “They move much faster than you think”, said the Canadian tourist next to me.  The toes on their back feet have to be some of the strangest I have seen.  The tortoise, not the Canadian tourist.

There was something about being in that environment that made me want to go home and paint everything white, work with my hands more and raise a gang of turkeys.  We left feeling like we had been there for days.  Rested, inspired and in awe of the simple, beautiful aesthetic of this extraordinary space.

Babylonstoren’s website.

The last time we went to Cape Town and and an afternoon with baby lambs, if you’re in the mood for more ameezing.

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The Art of Sitting. Still.

My friend Dr Lauren is a doctor.  I love picturing my friends in their professions, going about their days, teaching maths to a room full of teenagers, stretching limbs in a pilates class, delivering babies.  Because Dr Lauren’s boyfriend is in India, we have been having lots of sleepovers.  Every morning, sometimes in her scrubs, Dr Lauren makes a cup of tea or coffee and then sits at the dining room table.  Sometimes she looks on Instagram and Facebook, but sometimes, she sits, sips her coffee and well, sits.

I wake up between 6 and 6:30 every morning, I get out of bed, make tea or coffee and then go. Go. Go.  My brain sprints on the treadmill of things to do, things to worry about, things to remember and think about, questions to ask, answers to answer.  Go. Go. Go. I never ever do one thing at a time, that hot beverage follows me loyally from shower to bedroom to kitchen back to bedroom for hair and make up.  We are the guys who change the tyres during formula one racing, the early morning, the car.

A few mornings ago, I decided to try something new.  Just sitting. Still.  I made coffee, left my phone in the kitchen, walked to the dining room and sat down.  Three sips in I pushed my chair out as if to get up.  Three more sips in I tucked it back under the table.  My brain did its best to whirr and buzz but then I think it got confused and slowed right down to catch up to this new thing we were doing.  Just sitting, I’ve heard it being called.

Half way through the cup of coffee, some kind of strange Inception-y thing happened.  I started to look around.  I saw for the first time that some of the cream roses in the vase on the table next to me had brown tipped edges, but were opening anyway.  I heard a bus race past, a kid saying “I don’t want to go to school”, a parent reassuring, at least seven birds making their early morning bird noises and also, silence.  Stillness.  My brain started to tingle.  My BRAIN started to TINGLE.

And then I think it started to reclaim itself.  I saw my brain in my mind (stay with me here), it’s little cartoon arms and legs sticking straight out, pick up a basket and start to pack the mess away.  One thing at a time.  From the floor into the basket.  ‘We got this’, it said in a little cartoon voice.

By the time I could see the bottom of the mug, something had changed.  I’m even going to go as far as saying I felt empowered.
I knew that out of all the moments, teeny and huge, that have happenend since we last hung out, this was the one that I wanted to talk about.  In a time where filling twenty hours of your day with stuff, happens like breathing, I think I’m doing to make sitting still my new hobby.  Who’s with me?

 

[Since writing this my brother, Ty, told me about this documentary. Which made me Claire Danes cry. I highly recommend it.]

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Shooting Friends

In this season of giving thanks and twinkly lights, good gravy, I am grateful for the people in my life.  For the big and small adventures we find ourselves on and for the ability to capture these often unexpected moments.  Moments which always feel so damn exciting to stumble upon and preserve.  Here are some of my favourites from this strange and wonderful year.

Super thanks to Lauren, Adi, Ty, Stiaan, James and Ry for being ameezing.

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Also


This weekend I discovered that Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are not the same person.  Also, I gardened the ass off of Saturday, apartment gardening having been replaced by courtyard gardening, next stop actual farming.

Also, I thought (and felt) a lot about loneliness.  And how to talk about it, write about it, swim through it.  More on that when thoughts have become sentences.

Also, I went to an ameezing Sunday afternoon Joburg rooftop party for a good cause.

Sometimes Joburg is a bad, bad boyfriend.  He forgets about you, is a bully or just plain ol’ doesn’t seem to care.  But then, out of nowhere he arrives with a bunch of ranunculus in the form of a glorious, windy, clear afternoon of good music and great company and suddenly, all is forgiven.  I heart you Joburg.

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Well Now


‘You should write about the top three real life animals that look like they’ve been photoshopped’, said my brother, Ty, last night over dinner.

He asked if I had seen the mantis shrimp, which I had not.  This creature’s limbs move so quickly that the water around them boils.  Animals are the best.

So is ‘Orange is the New Black’, who’s with me?!

I moved house.  Well, I moved flat.  From our beloved, noisy, terribly convenient flat in Illovo, to a huge, strange, wonderful space in Linden.  Two flats joined into one.  With wooden floors, a farm house kitchen with hand painted rabbit tiles (I’m not making this up), random Greek style pillars scattered about and a room with a roller shutter door that comes secretively out of the wooden  door frame.  No wonder it was available.  Moving house is a strange, unnerving past time.  Nothing is where it should be.  For two days three of you are eating off of one plate, with a wooden spoon.  And hail sounds different.

But like any change, you get to chuck out the old, celebrate the new and cherish the things that remain, change after change, just the same.

I turned 33.  Which means I was 13 TWENTY years ago.  It also means that I got a record player from my ameezing friends.  And so now my American Horror Story/New Girl house is endlessly filled with the croonings of Frank Sinatra and The Beatles and Janis Joplin.  A note on vinyl, the two that I have recently store bought skip terribly, but the vinyls from my grandmother (40 years or so old) play perfectly to the end.  They really don’t make them like they used to.

Recently, through a series of surreal events, I met a famous person.  And then I made two mistakes.
1.  I was so determined not to come across as a mega fan girl that I said hi, interrupted him mid- sentence and then ran away to get a drink.  In the opposite direction of the bar.
2.  Later I called him by his TV character name.  Twice.

Dear friends, please please learn from my looniness.  If I could do it again (which seems likely because meeting famous people happens all the darn time) I would just.stand.still, say hi and then make conversation about anything, everything. Things! Oh man.

Here now, the mantis shrimp:

More on this gorgeous creature, the source of this pic and all your mantis shrimp info needs here.

 

[Thank you Adi Koen for the birthday bicycle picture.]

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*A fork clink clinks against a champagne glass

Hey Errbody.  It’s Monday, it’s September, it’s Spring and Ameezing has a coupla new header pictures.  Yeah!  I’ve also taken the Instagram feed away from the side of the blog to give the content a little more space to boogie.  But let’s hang on Instagram too if you like, I am MsAmeezing.  (Above are three of my favourite instagrams of my house.)

I learnt this weekend that sneezing whilst carrying a full cup of tea is very, very challenging.

Also, that courage is eating alone in a restaurant on a Sunday night.  With no make-up on.  Pizza specifically.  Which has to come a close third to birthday cake and lobsters as the most social food of all the foods traditionally eaten in a big, jolly group of people.  Have you ever eaten dinner alone in a restaurant?  I highly recommend it to anyone, young, old, older, single, married for a life time, it’s complicated.  Somewhere between ordering your drink and paying the bill you learn brand new things about yourself.  And the world.  And the restaurant business.  I guarantee it.

A rainbow of high fives and thank yous must go to my brother Ty.  For being the magician of all things technical on Ameezing (without him my experience of social media would end at a hotmail account), for being a kind and genius editor of words and ideas and all round creative, ameezing human person.  Thanks Shmy.

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Waking Up is Hard to Do

Okay, so here’s what happened here, a few weeks ago I was working in Cape Town.  One night I went to sleep looking normal and woke up like this.  Cape Town and I have a very complex relationship.

On that same trip I sat down and wrote the passage below.  But somewhere between the ocean and microwave meals and the gps lady and looking for parking, it was forgotten.  Until the other night when an out-of-nowhere bout of insomnia had me opening every folder on my desktop.  And there it was:

There’s something so wonderfully unsettling about being away from home.

I’m writing this sitting on the floor of my bed and breakfast, leaning against an ancient dressing table because my Mac cord is too short to reach the bed. I’m also pretty sure it’s haunted here.

Earlier, at a busy sushi restaurant, me and my table for one, my table for one and I, got moved to the sushi counter section, where single person dining is welcomed with open sushi chef arms.  I sat next to a couple almost definitely on their second date.

One of the perks of being alive for 32 and a half years is being able to sort of tell which date strangers are on.  These guys were definitely on their second, although she wore wedges and lipstick and he wore flip flops and a hoodie (stick with me here man readers), they still seemed to be having a really good time.  They spoke about how slushies are a hardcore drug of the sugar world, John Cleese and something else, which I couldn’t quite hear but made HoodieFlipFlops say  ‘presuppose’ once and ‘indeed’ twice.

When alone, I always find myself doing things like telling strangers their salads look delicious.  And plugging in my phone to charge at all kinds of not wise places.
I ate ice-cream, which I almost never do because my teeth are practically made of paper and thought I heard someone calling my name twice.

There’s a certain liberated anonymity in travelling alone.   A kind of craziness for one that leaves you feeling a little terrified and completely exhilarated, all at once.

(And now, a Friday bonus picture.  Happy weekend, Friends!)

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But Seriously Y’all, Baby Lambs


I’m in Underberg at the moment visiting my parents.  Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at friends of theirs.  A magical place where chocolate cake is fresh out of the oven, apple orchards are just beyond the kitchen door, honey is collected from bees and the layered mountains create a theatre of the round.  For life.

When the sun was reaching out to play Hide and Seek behind a mountain, we all headed outside.  I pulled off my converse and pulled on a pair of borrowed gumboots.  The air was weirdly balmy (there’s whisperings of snow), the light was a ridiculous shade of golden and the baby lambs were ready for supper.

I have never held a baby lamb before. The closest I have come is sheepishly (sorry not sorry) sticking my fingers through a fence to try and feel their gruffly soft fur.  While full grown sheep are all body with stick legs, baby lambs are all long limbs with little, warm bodies.  And they have almond shaped eyes and Disney ears, and they trot.  Even half an hour after being born, they stand up and trot, because they know that is just what baby lambs should do.


Baby lambs are also super wriggly, they want to play and snuggle with their moms and unlike puppies, have very little interest in a bottle of warm milk.  So you have to keep the teet of the bottle in their mouth and hold them on your lap until they’ve had at least a few gulps.

The mom sheep all watched suspiciously from a corner.  Baaaa-ing moodily every now and again.

(I’m thinking of sending this post to Farmer’s Weekly, ground breaking notes on animal husbandry, I’ll say.)

After the baby lambs had wriggled and gulped a little milk and baaaa-ed and trotted around, we walked down to the river where a herd of horses from the farm next door had wandered over.  The sound of their hooves clip clopping home across the river bed was all at once strangely familiar, completely foreign and exactly what every pair of ears should get to hear.

Can something you have already done be on your Bucket List?
If so, my Rebucket List would include:

Going back to Paris
Throwing vacuum cleaners out of the back of a convertible at high speed
Kissing in the rain

Feeding baby lambs

Me: This is the happiest moment of my life.

Baby Lamb:  Heeeeeeeelp.


Lastly, a note on genetics.  I was looking through my parent’s pictures of the afternoon (thank you guys for every photo in this post!) and these two pictures stopped me in my tracks.  Mother/Daughter What Now?!  My Mom and I are standing exactly the same at two moments along the way.  Geez genes.

PS.  More on genes – I am my father’s daughter.

(I should mention that I know that lambs are baby sheep.  But ‘baby lambs’ just sounds so much better.  Thank you for understanding.)


 

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