WOMAN v.s BLACK PLASTIC RUBBISH BAG


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I am overwhelmed by the pandemic, I just need a little light relief. So that’s why I’m posting this piece today, written earlier in the year. Trivia, and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, but … we all need a break.

These damn bags defeat me every time.
Despite the fact that I have opposable thumbs, a 1400 gram brain sitting inside my skull, and belong to the species that has travelled to outer space, removing a fresh black, plastic bag from the roll of new bags, and unfolding it to put into the kitchen rubbish bin always turns into ten minutes of sweaty frustration and bad language.

 
For openers, tearing the bag off the continuous roll is a challenge. Yes: there are perforations which – theoretically – tear along the dotted line and liberate one black bag. Except the perforations often don’t cooperate, causing me to hunt for scissors, snip it off, and (usually) succeed in creating an unwanted hole in a brand new bag. Sigh. Let’s try again. Maybe Bag #2 will permit me to remove it from its parent roll.
Okay. So now I have one creased new black bag in my hand. But now to unfold it. Umm. Where do I start? The folding pattern would baffle an Origami Master. The folding mechanism in the plastic bag factory must have been designed by goblins or aliens. Take your pick. Finally I persuade the folds to unfold, and voila, a new bag ready for the bin.

 
Except there’s one final test. You’ve all been baffled by this one, I’m sure. How to persuade the bag to open? Pull, tug, shake, rub, do what you will, you cannot get the two layers of plastic to part. But there’s a secret. And I will share it: lick your thumb and forefinger, and now rub the top join, where the bag should open. It just might! Success, at last!

 
Another precious ten minutes sliced away by time, into the garbage bin of my life, which I begrudge. I could have been occupied with something pleasant like reading a book, or something useful, like sorting out my latest credit card bill, but no: ten minutes wasted in Round # 493 in the uneven contest of Woman v.s. Garbage Bags. And don’t ask who won. Grrrhhh!!

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A SURPRISE BONUS DURING LOAD SHEDDING *


We’re currently undergoing two and a half hour periods of load-shedding, up to three times a day, which makes life difficult, as you can imagine. One of the difficulties is that the traffic lights don’t work when the power is off. Theoretically, the robot intersection should then operate as a four way stop.
Theoretically. Because there’s always some oke – usually in a huge 4×4 who’s in such a hurry, or so important, that he just barges across the intersection, out of turn. So crossing a busy intersection, or heaven forbid, executing a right-hand turn, is motorized Russian roulette. I hate driving when the lights are out.
Today I had no choice but to start my journey homeward during load-shedding. Horrors! Then inspiration struck. My homeward route passes the local beachfront, so why not detour to the beach, park, and wait until the appointed hour when the power should return? Brilliant idea.

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For once, there was no wind, the sun shone, the seagulls swooped and shouted and sunbathed from post perches.

 

The mountain loomed in blue majesty over the bay. Not so much as a baby cloudlet over Lions’ Head, a sign that clear, sunny dry weather will continue.

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A taxidriver and his gaartjie sat on the fence and relaxed. Given the state of his battered taxi in the parking lot, this was a good idea, prior to his attacking the peak hour afternoon traffic

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A perfect late summer afternoon in Cape Town. And when I tackled the roads again. the robots were working. What a relief!

*Our South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.

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The Long Tailed Wydah Bird


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Regrettably I can’t give credit to the photographer; pic  of pin-tailed wydah  sourced  off the web.
He’s back. Perching on the neighbour’s TV aerial, returning to catch his breath, after performing one of his complicated aerial dance routines, displaying his long ribbon of a tail in the most enticing way he knows how.
I watch him while I eat  breakfast. My high bar-stool chair gives me a perfect view out of the kitchen window, across the road, and I have a ringside seat to marvel at his beautiful dancing and his gorgeous tail. If I was a female wydah bird, I’d be smitten by such daring dancing, and such an elegant tail!  After many days of careful observation I can report the bird has a definite pattern which he follows. I can’t describe it to you, save to say it incorporates swoops, dips and turns all of which display his long, ribbon tail feathers to best advantage.

 

Whether the pic above shows my neighbourhood bird is difficult to say. From my vantage point, its difficult to see what colour he is. But the whole point about the post are his magnificent tail feathers, which the pic shows to advantage.

 
Last week I spotted a much smaller, and of course tail-less bird (females of the species, etc. ) perched on the opposite end of the TV aerial, not quite alongside him, but at an interested distance. After a minute or two, she flew away. Ag shame. He’ll have to polish up his dance routine and try again.
I’ve noticed that he’s very aggressive, and if another bird intrudes into his air space he zooms up immediately and chases them away, regardless of size.
After some Googling, I learn that the male wydah bird’s tail can grown to as much as three times his body length during the breeding season, and that wydahs lay their eggs in other birds’ nest, a la the cuckoo. However, apparently other birds either don’t notice or mind, because they don’t kick out the foreign eggs, so more  generations of wydah birds takes to the skies.

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THE FINALE – INVESTEC 2020


https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/
I’ve enjoyed sharing my Investec 2020 visit with you, but all good things must come to an end. So I thought I would finish off with these two gloriously kitsch ceramic pieces.

 
The first piece looks like the aftermath of an explosion in a junk shop. Imagine if somebody gave you this object as a gift? The mind boggles.

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But the second piece I want to share, has made me stop and think more deeply. Initially I was going to pass off the piece as a striking example of kitsch, and comment on the lovely bright red lacquer finish, which I find very appealing.  I notice my pic shows it as a pink colour, but the original was a striking, shiny Chinese lacquer red. But when I hunted through my pics for the photo showing the artist’s name, I noticed the title of the piece, which is “Mammie”.

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I took a closer look, and enlarged the photo so I could see the woman peering hesitantly? Furtively? Shyly ? out of her frame of domestic bric-a-brac. Is the artist saying that her Mum was protected by domestic detritus? Or smothered and imprisoned by it? I’m still wondering. Thank you, Stephane E Conradie, for eye-catching and thought provoking pieces!
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming to the Investec 2020 Art event with me . I already have next year’s event highlighted on my calendar!
FOOTNOTE: INVESTEC 2019 ART Fair : If you enjoyed this series of posts on Investec 2020, please go to the archives and find my post on last year’s event; the post appeared on 20th April 2019 . Plenty of pics and commentary.

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PEOPLE & PHOTOGRAPHY https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


Part of the fun of attending a big exhibition is the opportunity to people-watch. I’ve noticed that visitors  often wear extravagant, eye-catching outfits and jewellery to this event. Whether they’re wannabe Trendies, art critics, fashionistas, or plain old exhibitionists I have no idea. I doubt very much that they’re artists. The days of flamboyant artists – think Salvador Dali with his sharp suits, hats and waxed moustache, – are over. My artist friends usually adopt the casual/scruffy/work clothes style. They’re way too busy working in their studios to be messing around with fashion statements.

Some people are working, and having a chat during a  rare quiet moment.

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Others are also standing around, but stuck on the wall:

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I spotted Mondrian socks. I want some!

 

IMG_20200214_131023_resized_20200214_040544267 (2)Delightful Minnie Mouse bows:

 

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And stunning jewellery. Or is it wearable art?

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I don’t recall seeing any hats other than these ones on the wall:

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I was admiring the  pin-striped suited gent’s textured pink socks  when I realised  the painting on the opposite wall  offered a mirror image, with the   pensive woman in an almost identical, abstracted  posture.

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Next I saw this man, working on an exhibition stand – he presented an almost ecclesiastical  image,  don’t you agree?  I think it was the thin white rim of tee-shirt at his neck, together with is clothing, lanyards around the neck, monkish haircut, and clasped hands that reminded me of a cleric.

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Then I discovered this quirky series of pics, a sort of strange amalgam of botanical illustrations and old sepia portraits by  Alida Rodrigues “The Secret History of Plants.”

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I was blown away by  a wonderful black and white series of figures, executed by  Sungi Mlengeya.  The brilliant use of negative space was dazzling.

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Tucked away in a corner I spotted these this lovely little blue retro radio. I particularly liked the knitting needle antennae – or are they ears? I’ve been a radio fan all my life, so I was enchanted by this exhibit. I have a feeling the little radio’s name is probably Max.  Whatever it is, top marks for inanimate personality!
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The next photo is a marvelous study in movement by Manuel Braun Alexandria on Stage II.
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Lastly I loved this quiet photograph of an offering of two walnuts, it exuded generosity and dignity.

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WATCH THIS SPACE, I’M NOT DONE YET! MORE TO FOLLOW .It was a very big art exhibition  and I was clicking away merrily.

P.S.  If I haven’t mentioned the artists names in some of the pics above, its because I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a pic of the display card alongside the work; in some cases I  looked but couldn’t find the card.

 

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MY FAVOURITES at Investec 2020 https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


This year, the textured items and the very colourful items were top of my list.

When it comes to colour, who could resist this vibrant display put up by Kwa Zulu Natal artists. The juxtaposition of the hot curry reds, oranges and yellows offset by the contrasting tropical greens and sky blues, screamed DURBAN at me. For northern hemisphere readers, Durban has a huge Indian population and is renowned for being Curry Central!

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And how about this Marion Arnold wool tapestry, Untitled, 265 x 377 cm, Rich colours somewhat reminiscent of a Pierneef landscape .

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t include this stunning display of traditional artist EstherMahlangu’s traditional Ndebele art work. Would you believe she uses a chicken feather as a brush?  My pic is a poor one, because so many viewers were constantly blocking my shot, but it’s the best I managed to get. Take a moment to follow the link: what a fascinating story.

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I enjoyed the next  work : textile wrapped fighting sticks and spears – I don’t know the title or artist, but I enjoyed the colours and textures

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Then I found this bold orange and yellow and black work, which ticked the colours & textures boxes very neatly. It was executed in leather and, I think, fabric; I was so enchanted by the colours and shapes, I forgot to take a pic of the signage It had a sort of snakes-and-ladders feel to it.

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A charming crocheted gecko caught my eye. I don’t want it on a wall in my house, but I thought it was fun.

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Appearances can be very deceiving. I thought the next exhibit  was a woven fibre work, but not so. Paper beads, mounted on bark cloth. What a surprise! Usage of very Africa materials.
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I enjoyed this set of 8 pictures, executed by a woman from West Africa, using natural fibres and seeds to create the textured effects.

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Artists come up with the most innovative ideas. Here’s a work, executed on graph paper, in crossstitch. The shadowy images in the work caught my eye.

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I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at the texture in this work. It had a lush, rich texture, akin to velvet turned into shag carpeting. I was fascinated. When I drew closer to the work I was stunned to discover it was composed of … wait for it … “toothpicks in polyeurethane sealant in pine wood frames” by Chris Soal. Talk about appearances being deceptive!
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Watch this space: more pix in a day or two. We’re not done yet – it was a big exhibition!

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THE ANNUAL INVESTEC CAPE TOWN ART FAIR – February 2020


This weekend I visited the Investec Art Fair  – my annual treat. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

What a feast of art across a wide spectrum: photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, prints, art books and more besides. Obviously the theme is African Art, but artists from the diaspora and Europe were also on show. It really is an international exhibition. This year one of the themes was to exhibit emerging artists, not only from Africa, but, including artists from the Middle East, North America and Europe. So here are my photos of some of the works that  blew me away and that I enjoyed. I’m splitting the pics into separate sections , which I’ll post at intervals, otherwise its too much to take in and appreciate.
So: at the Investec (the sponsors stand) I found this multi-media statement :

 

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And an installation, which – for once – I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of installations.

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I don’t think I would be tempted to try sitting on this sofa, it looks both flimsy and uncomfortable, but if the sign were not there, trust me, some idiot would be lowering their rear end on to the item!

 

You know you’re at an African art exhibition when you see this:
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That ubiquitous football. Africans love football!

Another ubiquitous feature of the African landscape: goats. Although I have mixed feelings about this artwork. The human figure with goat hooves left me with an uneasy feeling.

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Another Art Fair post will follow in a day or two. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen thus far. The show was big, and I only photographed items which appealed to me, so my pics are a very individual view.

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HELDERBERG NATURE RESERVE


Early in the New Year, Nina & I drove to Somerset West and enjoyed a stroll and a picnic in the Helderberg Nature Reserve. What a lovely day we had ! Refreshing green lawns, plenty of benches under shady trees.

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A stroll through shady woodland, efficiently equipped with yet another green bench, where we sat enjoying the play of sunlight on the foliage, and listened to the birds calling. Very soothing indeed.IMG_4593P (003)

 

The reserve also offers a pretty lake, covered in blue and white water lilies. We admired the scene, walking a short distance along the circular boardwalk. By now it was a hot afternoon, not ideal for long walks.

 

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After our picnic lunch, we ambled around and discovered an enormous tortoise stomping across the lawn, systematically grazing on what was obviously its favourite, a low growing weed or herb.

 
Excited little kids spotted the animal, and rushed up to tentatively pat its shell, but the tortie didn’t bat an eyelid, didn’t shoot back into its shell, just kept on grazing in a determined fashion, stomping forward on a clearly pre-determined route. Ultimately it reached a bed of agapanthus, lumbered into the plants and disappeared. I reckon it’s a permanent resident, and the agapanthus bed was home base.

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That wasn’t the end of the wildlife. The next piece of excitement was the arrival of a red duiker that emerged from the long grass around the hiking trail, and streaked across the lawns at speed. I half expected to see a predator (there are leopards in the area) or at least a runaway dog in pursuit, but nothing else burst into view before our surprised eyes. Enough excitement for one afternoon.

 

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After a quick caffeine refuel stop in the reserve’s quaint little restaurant, we navigated cautiously through the maze of suburban streets until we stumbled upon the highway exit. One advantage of this slow exit was that I had plenty of time to admire the brilliant cerise bougainvillea tumbling over garden walls, in between  glimpses of deep blue plumbago bushes and luxuriant gardens. The soil in Somerset West must be excellent, because we passed magnificent gardens. The main road to the town is lined with white, pink and red oleander bushes, all blooming profusely, despite the hot, windy summer weather.
As we left the area, we were treated to the spectacle of waterfalls of white clouds cascading down the distant blue mountain ranges. Nina’s dramatic picture captures the unusual sight. Usually clouds fall over the top of Table Mountain in a solid white drape, hence their nickname “the tablecloth” so the waterfall effect was very different.IMG_4641s (002)

All in all: a wonderful outing!

NB: pics courtesy of Nina Ganci, except for bench pic.

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NEW YEAR EXPERIMENT #1


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One of my sort-of-rezzes that are not actually resolutions, you understand, just vague plans, misty promises, wavering pledges, is to tackle unfinished projects and finish them. I’m a brilliant starter, filled with energy, enthusiasm and vuma*, but as a finisher – not in the same league. We won’t even mention the outstanding 30+ year tapestry hanging in my cupboard, about half done. In my defense, it’s a very long tapestry. But I’m rambling.

 

So I haul out the brand new waffle iron, that’s been languishing at the back of a kitchen cupboard for over a year. I adore waffles, and the waffle irons were on sale. Fantastic price. What more can I say?

 

I dusted off the gleaming red appliance, dug up a recipe and looked forward to waffles for supper.

 

The results, I have to say, were not good. The iron works well on the one side, but unevenly on the other. Sort of toasty brown on the right, and patchily brown on the left. The texture, I am sorry to report, was akin to a soggy doormat … nowhere near to the light, airy, crisp golden waffles I was hoping for.

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Clearly I need a lot more practice. And possibly another recipe. Any offers?

  • vuma – energy, get up & go

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JANUARY BELT TIGHTENING


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This is the month when we’re tightening our belts, usually financially; but also at  the other end of the spectrum we’re slackening our belts ,and wondering why did we eat  yet another slice of Christmas cake? Because its delicious, that’s why! But of course, those extra kgs come to roost, generally around our mid-sections.

So I offer a few thrifty tips, none of them exercise or gym related.

On the topic of food, there’s  the idea of Meatless Mondays,  don’t explain, apologise, or introduce  it to the family, just do it.  When they moan, ask if they would like Christmas gifts in December 2020 ? because this is the first step toward that target.

Obviously fast food deliveries to your door is a no-no.  And a blanket ban on fast food at any location, for that matter. Its expensive, and  unhealthy, as  we all know, don’t we? Not to mention soggy and lukewarm. Yuck.

Lastly  here’s the cracker: Do not go to the January sales. Unless you have a specific object in mind, and have been saving up all year for that  big purchase e.g. a new fridge or a TV.  Sale buys are often disappointing or rash, once reviewed soberly at home, away from the frantic grab and run of sales. And you will have spent more money you don’t actually possess. See the agitated smoke rising from your credit card? I rest my case.

Happy January!

 

 

 

 

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