Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Things I Sing at 04.30

Woke up this morning at 04h30 and starting singing (in my head) these lyrics...

"Stop Thief! Stop Thief! Not another lettuce leaf will you have
Radishes and parsley, carrots and baby peas, each and every thing belongs to me,
not to you, but to me..
If I catch you, you will die then you'll be rabbit pie,
supper for me wife and I.
Stop Thief, Stop thief!"

Followed by...

"Why do I do it?
What is the cure?
My brothers and my sisters find it easy I am sure,
No-one believes I'd like to be good,
nevertheless, I would.
I think a halo would suit me....
dangling over my head,
and when they behold me,
they wouldn't scold me.
they'd say 'Well done' instead!
Why do I do it? Why do I do it? Why do I do it?
Because it's fun!"

It took me all of 5 seconds to remember where these songs came from, but how weird to have them pop into your head at sparrow-fart!

Does anyone else remember chilling and listening to Beatrix Potter on a record? I loved Peter Rabbit, and the first song was Mr Mcgregor singing as he chased Peter out of his vegetable patch, and the second was Peter singing after he escaped.

Gosh.... I loved those LP's with The Tales of Squirrel Nutkin and Jemimah Puddle Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. I am amazed that after at least 40 years I still remember them - and that with no prompting and at 04h30! Such amazing memories.

Living here now, with forest squirrels and hedgehogs and foxes, I can see how she must have been inspired to write them.

I am going to find Peter Rabbit and have a quick listen before French Class.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Interspecies Communication

I saw this on Facebook a while ago and I loved it. I found myself thinking about it and watching it over and over again.  I think it was a combination of feeling as though I was there, in that forest, since it feels so familiar, and the joy I get from photographing various fungi that I come across...

However, I think what gets me is what he says between 1:05-1:17 and then again from 1:45 to the end.

Sometimes when I am in the forest and I see a deer or a fox or even a bird, I silently say "Hey, don't run away, I just want to look at you...." and I wish that they understood me.  I watched a butterfly the other day unfurl its mouth(?) and begin to suck the nectar from a flower. It was so beautiful and so delicate, and I wished I could say to it... "Gosh, but you are so lovely and so clever!".... and hear it answer back modestly, "I know!" (You will probably think I sound like some kind of freak... but hey, I don't care really.)

Our language is insufficient for "interspecies" communication, 
but I would like to think that perhaps the Author conveys the messages on my behalf!

Along my walks there are always three places I always physically stop at:
  • My Watchman (a huge rock formation that looks like the profile of a man), 
  • My Fantasy tree (that always reminds me that God is known and yet remains mysterious), 
  • My #ivy&me tree (which is my reminder of how God sees him and me) 

Today, I felt physically ill and sobbed like a baby when I noticed that my Fantasy Tree had been chopped down, probably this weekend. I feel as though I have lost a friend. I feel as though the forest had lost a member of its family - there is just a big stump left and nothing more of this neon, mossy, gnarly, whimsical tree to remind me of the mystery among us.

This is all that was left of my tree today... and no doubt the rest of the trunk will follow soon. **

I know people will say that it was old and dead and that it needed to come down, or that there are more trees so, move on.

And I will move on, but not today.

Today I just want to be sad that my tree is gone and I wish I had the language to say how sorry I am in "forest-speak".

                                             * * * *

 **  16/10/2016:  
A tree update: On further inspection with My Man today, we noticed that a very young tree next to it was missing its top. We have decided that it is possible that the tree blew over, damaging the one next to it on the way down. He also pointed out that it's unlikely a woodchopper would climb the trunk and chop it off there. It would have been done at the base. So I have decided to believe that it fell from natural causes. It feels better that way.


Monday, September 26, 2016

(Mis)adventures of Language

Language lessons are a wonderful preparation to ask questions in the language of your new country, because let's face it, there are questions you will want to ask, like:
  • May I have a glass of red wine?
  • Where is the toilet?
  • What time is the bus to Kirchberg?
  • Do you have this in a size 39?
  • Would you like to go for lunch this week?
  • May I have the bill?
After a semester or two one can totally ask questions to your hearts content!  However, nothing and no-one can prepare you to answer one in response to any of these.... or even to understand the answer!  

For example - If I ask "Do you have this in a size 39?" the reply could be "If you want it in a different colour, then yes." I have apparently mastered the art of a blank stare, and they look at me with such sympathy and switch to English. This horrifies me because I know I won't ever learn like that.

On the weekends, when My Man and I walk the dogs together in the forest, we often cross paths with a lovely elderly gent who is clearly out for his walk too. He always stops and has long chats with both dogs (not us, other than a greeting), and gives them dog treats that seem to always be available.

This morning I was walking Tigger alone, and I happened to bump into him. He greeted me and then said something in French. I was not prepared to be spoken to, and didn't quite get it, I said 'Pardon?' and he repeated himself and I worked out that he was asking where the other dog was. I managed to put together 5 words and he seemed to understand. Then we wished one another a good day, and carried on along our merry ways.

As I walked, I replayed the conversation in my head and I was so annoyed with myself because I realised I could totally say "My other dog is at home. Together, they are too strong for me. This afternoon I walk the other dog."  I could have said all of that (Except for 'strong'...I don't know what that is, but that's easy to do with arm gestures).  The grammar may not have been 100% but it would totally be understandable. Why did I freak out and think I couldn't reply?

It's being unprepared I suppose!  Frustrating, but it will come. Persistence!

Speaking of which, my third semester of French starts on Thursday. Yippeeee! I am so looking forward to it. 

Have a lovely week all you beautiful people.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

3rd Year Reflections

3 Years Baby!

I was reading this post which is what I asked for when we were due to come here. I had a good laugh, because I thought at the time that I had seen already that God had a better plan.... but 3 years down the line - I realise that I only saw part of it.

  • Had we lived in a big town (like I had asked for), we would have been lost in the masses and never made the friends we are making in our village.
  • Had we lived close to a gym (like I had asked for), I would never have gone to run in the forest.
  • For a spiritual home different to where we had come from (although that was very cool!) - we have that in that we are able to live out what we believe daily with a variety of faiths and cultures, which is (for me anyway) the best way of being.

Sometimes it's a bit of a bugger to realise that actually you do not know what is best for you, but a relief to know that Someone does.

If I think about it, I got exactly what I wanted ... but not in the way I expected.

3 years ago...

Christmas 2015

Forest walks
Time with new friends

Yes. This is the bestest best place for us.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


I went for a walk this week. There has been so much rain that decent walks have been rare recently. It was breathtakingly green, quiet and beautiful.  I felt inspired to put some of my own video clips and photographs to music, to try and convey how I feel about the forest.

There is no place I feel more connected to the Author than in this space.

Peace be the journey.
* Click here for an explanation to #Iamthetreeandyouaretheivy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's normal and home

We have been here almost 3 years!  Can you believe it!?

I was reminded of this today when, while pottering on my balcony checking on my plants, I looked up and saw my neighbour on his, having a mid-morning smoke. I yelled "Hey, howzit!" and we chatted for a few minutes, back and forth about gardens and long grass and goats... the usual stuff, until I eventually said "Cheers, probably see you later," and we both carried on doing what we were doing.

The truth is, we probably will see him later, down the road, at the pub!  He, like us, tends to waft down for a quick beer at the end of a long day, and we have, on occasion sat together down there and shot the breeze with something long and cold.

I know this probably all sounds so normal to you, and had we been in SA this activity would not have merited an entire blogpost - but it reminded me of  a post I wrote 4 months after we arrived.

I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else in Luxemboug.   I love this village.
This is home for now.

Thank God for it!

Monday, April 4, 2016

T20 Final. Thoughts on England.

Last night I kept waking up and seeing Stokes face after he bowled that final ball.

I thought I had to debrief myself or else I would sleep badly again tonight!  I can't have that.

So this post may be muddled and make no sense to you. It may jump around from random thought to random thought. Just let me go with it.

I am not used to feeling sympathy for England when they lose in cricket. I am used to celebrating their losses. I know exactly the day my disdain for them started and yesterday I believe it finally ended.

It started in 2009 (Yes, I know. A long time to hold a grudge). It started when Strauss refused Smith a runner in the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy, saying he didn't think Smith was in enough pain to merit a runner. I wonder if he knew Smith at all, this was the man who batted previously with a broken hand... I reckon he knew what pain was, and if he said he was in pain from cramping, I reckon he was. Strauss said "It was a fitness issue" and "he wasn't cramping that badly,"  How did he know HOW MUCH PAIN he was in?  Smith had just been fielding and then batting for over 3 hours!!  It was certainly NOT a fitness issue! 

"Cramping is to some extent a preparation thing and to a certain extent a conditioning thing and I didn't feel that he merited having a runner at that stage. My personal view is that you shouldn't get a runner, full stop. I didn't feel he was cramping that badly — he was still able to run.''

The decision was essentially up to him. Yes, he was within his rights to deny it, but if there is one thing that really p's me off its a lack of sportsmanship. This was that. It's like a bowler stumping the non-striking end batsman if he is out of his crease, when he bowls. You are within your rights to stump him... but it's unsportsmanlike to do it without a warning. Case in point, I think it was Kapil Dev against us in the first World Cup we were back in, in 92. Peter Kirsten wasn't on strike but he kept moving out of his crease, but I think Dev warned him two or three times, and then stumped him. I can't be angry with that. The guy was overly gracious in his warnings and Kirsten got what he deserved then.  

After the runner incident England just plummeted to the depths of my list where Kevin Pietersen has kept them.

It's important that my feelings about the team is not misunderstood and taken to the nation. It's a bit like how I feel about the South African Provincial Sharks Team in the Super 15 (or however many it is now), they are just a team that can play quite dirty, but it doesn't mean I dislike everyone from KZN.  If that were true, I would be in trouble since I have family there!  :)

Anywaaayyyy..... this brings me to the last year. I first started getting to know this current English team during the ODI WC in 2015.  I remember thinking that these guys seemed different to their other teams, and emotionally I actually felt some unfamiliar sympathy for them going out so early. 

Then when they came to SA on tour just before this WC, of course I still wanted us to beat the pants off them, but I was so impressed by them. They were fighters and committed, they never gave up. There was the odd bit of rash disappointment from individuals when things didn't go their way but they are a young bunch and just need the experience and tools to deal with that. It would be unnatural to be without emotion in disappointment. Let's face it, all teams respond this way now and again!

Now today.. last night, waking up every hour with Stokes on his haunches after the game, reminded me of how our guys sat on the field after their defeat in last years WC game. The team was heartbroken, so were we.. how Stokes must have felt. The weight on his shoulders. 

It was difficult reading the comments of some on the English Cricket FB page that criticised the captain and the death bowling. I mean, just before that, was this:

I have come to the conclusion that there are fickle fans of their teams everywhere... it would seem that Stokes would be the natural bowler to take the final over. Some days it works.... and some days it doesn't.  Yesterday Braithewaite just wanted it over, and he did it. I hope Stokes doesn't take this too much to heart but rather chalks it up to experience. A tough day at the office - but we all have those.

It was a fantastic final. I was supporting West Indies to win, and after hearing of their lack of support from home, I am even happier for them. I had to make a choice last night though... I could choose to just keep England on the bottom of my list because "that's how it's always been for me" or I could say "It's a new team. It's a new day. I can't tar this team with the brush of their predecessors", and move on. 

I decided to go with the latter. HOWEVER, make no mistake, I will still savour beating them more than any other team and hate losing to them more than any other team - but the motivation behind that now is different. It's based more on a type of  'sibling rivalry' ... rather than a desire to see them lose. I know we are going to see some great cricket from this team and I look forward to it. 

So.... end of an era for me.

Sometimes going with things, no matter what they are, just because it's always been that way, doesn't make it right.

New beginnings are good too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How do we look? Me and You?

I was on one of my many forest walks before we went to Barcelona, and I found myself chatting to the Author as often happens, and I remember in the middle of my chattering suddenly saying to Him, "Show me how we look, me and you." I didn't give it much more thought and continued along. 

Today, as I was walking I saw, as I have seen many times before, a huge tree with ivy climbing up and around it. "This is how we look. You and Me." I heard Him say.

I actually stopped in my tracks. I hadn't expected an answer to my request really.... if I am honest.  

"Oh!? Who is who?!" I said (out loud.... yes, I did!)  
"I am the tree, and you are the ivy."  Was the answer. 

"But it makes more sense for me to be the tree," I argued.... "because you encircle me."
"Um no..... I am the tree and you are the ivy." I felt Him say. (I am sure he was laughing)  
"Explain this to me" I said.

As I continued to walk, this is what I felt Him say:

"I am your anchor, but while I support you, you also have strong roots that root you in your faith. There are times when you go around and around me in circles, be it with unanswered questions, doubts or disappointments, or winters when you feel I am quiet, and withholding all my beauty from you... that  is only how it feels.  However, what you may not realise is that you are still growing during these times, and I love it that no matter what, you always cling to me.  

I call you upward, I call you to grow (up) toward the Light.

This is how we look. Me and You. We are beautiful together in every season."

* * * * * * 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gaudi...and pictures

We have just returned from a lovely sunny holiday in Barcelona. It was a welcome change to have blue skies and temperatures in the high teens.

The highlight for me was discovering Gaudi, aka 'Gods Architect'. Yes, I had heard his name, but was not familiar with him or his work.

Among the many things I read of him, one thing stood out. When speaking of the construction of the Sagrada Familia Basilica, he was told that he will not see his vision, his building finished, to which he replied "My client has no time constraints, He has all the time in the world."

What an amazing perspective. I have seen many struggle to delegate the simplest of tasks, not trusting anyone else with the work that needs doing. Even I say if I want a job done properly I must do it myself. (Of course some discernment is required in delegating.... but I think you get where I am going with this?)

Then here is this man, with this literally, HUGE vision, who trusts people he will never know, to fulfill his dream --- and they are doing it, and they are so proud to be part of it, it's become their vision to fulfil his vision. It's the darling of the city.

There's a lesson here I think.

I hope you enjoy my clip even just a fraction of as much as I loved visiting there. The building is due to be finished in 2030. Maybe I will be around to see it then.

Enjoy these pictures I took. No artificial coloured lighting - all natural light through stained glass windows. He was inspired by Nature and Light, and it shows in this building, and all his others.

I love the sculptures, they are so different and kinda edgy.

Notice the imprint.

Such a stairwell....

What can I say?

Just .... wow.