General Thoughts on Life


It’s the little things today. Like the way the sun is shining across the front of my house as I come back from the school run.

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And the little deer I picked up from the Hospice stand at the market last weekend. My great-aunt Kay used to have some exactly like this. I don’t know what happened to hers but now I have my own and I love them.

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Public Ad Campaign.

Jordan Seiler is the guy behind Public Ad Campaign, the fantastic project that produced NYSAT on 25th April. The PAC blog explains their mission and talks about the various projects. As public space becomes more and more one big billboard, I’m so glad there are people out there fighting it, often at personal risk – see Jordan’s latest post regarding the artists who chose to reveal their participation in the April 25 project and face prosecution as a result.

So, go check out the blog. If you’re Stateside, get involved. If you’re out there in the world, get inspired. Let’s talk more about how corporates are, often illegally, taking over public space, and about how to let them know that We Don’t Like It.

cronicasbarbaras.com: WE DON’T WANT ADS, WE WANT ART.

I had to press this for several reasons. Firstly, and mostly, because it’s just a wonderful thing that this group of people did. Secondly because this lovely blogger took time to find out what the whole story was, and take lots of pics to go with it. Thirdly, because the art that replaced the ads is fun and varied and even sometimes really good.

Wow, last year got really busy, and a bit crazy. And somewhere along the line I lost interest in this blog. Having now given it a bit of thought, I was taking myself *far* too seriously. I wasn’t interested in reading my own blog, and that’s definitely not right. So I’m going to take inspiration from some of my favourite bloggers and try to resurrect this blog in a whole new guise.

So I give you “the blog that tells you about what I’m doing at the moment”. Which probably means it’s very varied. Very. I am starting to suspect I have multiple personality disorder. A brief overview:

1. The children started Grade 1. So I have to manage a whole range of school-related important things. I have a special calendar to help with this.

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It has spaces for each of us, and stickers, and a pocket at the bottom for school notices and suchlike. I also have a clipboard on the wall in my workroom for notices. There are not just school notices. On top of school there’s karate, bellydancing and cubs. And that’s just the kids.

2. I work. Yes, I really actually have a job, which I try to do well. It’s a mite confusing at the moment since many things seem to be happening at once in several countries and nobody seems quite sure what is just a thought and what might actually happen, but that’s kind of fun.stash11

3. The academic year has started. At the moment I have roughly three seminars a week. Research Methods 1 – which is more fun and less obvious than it sounds. And Agriculture and Rural Development – which is just as theoretical and Marxist as it sounds. Thankfully, I get to sit next to Taz in both of these classes, and she is bright, funny and a bigger teacher’s pet than I am.

4. I make things. All sorts of things really, but many involving fabric. Hence, I am rapidly collecting what is known by craft addict people as ‘a stash’:

5. See above. So currently I’m making a book bag. Which is not what it sounds like. I made my first one in December.

Blyton Bag

But it’s really small. I can’t really fit much in it at all. So I am trying taking out the spine and creating a new base. Which requires a bigger book to start with. Bron, bless her, cleverly suggested using annuals. So I visited the SPCA and picked up a stash (see how that word creeps in?) of annuals. These are just a few of them…

annualsAren’t they fabulous? Would you like a bag made with one of these? I can’t wait to choose the perfect fabrics for the linings.

But I had to start somewhere, and I started with one of my own favourites from when I was a kiddy. ..

twinkleHere are the two side pieces laid out with the new base in place. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to put these together. For this one I’m going to try using clear Contakt around the outside – which, if it works, will also save me having to varnish the outside. The lining is already cut and is in the same pink and red check as the handles and base. Goes perfectly with those ultra blues and pinks on the cover.

currentprojectThen I have a whole workbasket of other stuff to work on. There’s an embroidery project – I ordered some fantastic embroidery transfers from Sublime Stitching and I’m loving them. There’s a Frida Kahlo shrine (that’s the weird yellow thing in the back – you won’t recognise it when it’s finished). In that beautiful vintage tin are my embroidery flosses – another stash. Bron got me the tin for my birthday and I LOVE it! Not in the basket are the fabrics for my daughter’s new comforter (they’re still in amongst the fabric stash), but I’m hoping to get that finished by the time our good friends the Murvis’s arrive to visit later this month.

workbasketSo that’s what’s keeping me busy. And yet here I am blogging about it, because I am a born procrastinator. And now I’m going to grab a cup of coffee and a slice of hot buttered toast and get down to actually doing some of it…

Right, I’m in the process of working myself up to a big rant about all the ‘we’d die for Zuma’ and ‘Zuma will rule us from prison’ crap, but in the meantime I popped over to Up and Left for a quick read. Wena writes really well about everyday stuff that is as important, and probably far more important, than my rantings about the dangers of nationalist fervour. She has reviewed a restaurant in ‘new-look Muizenberg’ that appears to epitomize all the hideousness of the branded universe. Don’t take my word for it… read all about it.

I wish I could blog about happy things. Today is the first day of the new school term. My kids are pleased to be back at school and seeing their friends. It’s a beautiful day. My life is good. I have an awesome family, amazing friends, things to do and see and read, a warm bed at night, food in the kitchen. For three nights I have dreamed of cold, hungry, frightened people trying to stay safe in a public park in the middle of winter. It’s Durban, so they’re lucky – it could be a lot colder and a lot wetter. Isn’t that a good thing? Yeah, irony is harder to get across in writing. I want to scream. What do we do? What do we do next? I checked over the weekend and we got a lot of press last Friday and Saturday. All the major newspapers covered the story of the refugees being attacked by security gaurds at City Hall, and then being moved out to Albert Park. We called people, we begged people to help. We shouted, we blogged, we posted videos on Youtube. The people are still in the park. They’re still cold and hungry and frightened. There is still no next step. I want to cry. 120 people. So few, and there is nothing we can do to help. What could we possibly do to change the way things are?

I searched this morning for hope. I want to know that the world can change, that my country can change, that we can care more for the people who need us. I want to know that we will not let poor people die quietly of hunger and disease and plain sorrow. I want to know how to do these things and I can’t find the answers.

This is a depressing post. I am depressed. I am lacking in hope. Don’t mind me. Give change to the kid at the robot. Tip the carguard. If you have the courage, shout and write and make a scene. There are ways to change the world. There must be.

Part of my morning routine includes a trawl of the interwebs for news and titbits that interest me and may interest my friends. My interests are pretty varied, so I get around a bit. Last week featured the absolutely delightful Where the hell is Matt 2008, which I think I may need to watch again if I aim to make it through this week without spiralling into depression. What? you may ask. Let’s get into what this morning’s trawl yielded:

A few blog entries on the subject of Snohetta’s winning the competition to design the King AbdulAziz Center for Knowledge and Culture in Saudi Arabia. Snohetta are a marvellous architectural firm and I’m crazy for many of their designs (and a shout out to my excellent friend Mr Spurrett for pointing me in their direction). This one is actually very beautiful, and I do hope that it does get built. But a center for knowledge and culture in Saudi Arabia? Really? ‘Cause it looks to me more like the ‘King AbdulAziz Center for how I’m so rich I can spend craploads of money on glorifying myself through architecture’.

Pressing on, I found the intertubes vastly obsessed with some guy named Dmitri who allegedly left a totally psycho voice message on some girl’s phone. Actually, two totally psycho messages. I can’t even bring myself to link to it. JFGI if you must.

As ever, my favourite launchpads featured at least one entry each regarding people in the US or UK being hassled by cops or pseudocops for taking photographs or video. This whole thing is getting really weird. Did you know that people are regularly being hassled just for photographing or filming in a public place? Seriously: this guy has it on video. I mean, does this bother you all? Because I’m finding it increasingly disturbing.

And then there’s privacy issues. I picked this one up on Boing Boing this morning. And this is so not the weirdest one I’ve seen so far. It’s enough to throw me into high paranoia.

Last, but not least, there’s Zimbabwe. Oh Zimbabwe. We wait today to see whether the African Union will do anything at all. We’re not holding our collective breath, are we? Especially since they haven’t done anything about this guy – and I’m going to presume it’s because, for reasons I can guess at but don’t want to think about, he doesn’t get quite as much publicity as Mr Mugabe. Sorry, President-for-life Mugabe. Of course, you can always visit the website of the Zimbabwe government and leave your feedback. I’m sure they’d be pleased to hear from all of us.

So, this Monday morning, it appears to me that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I’m not feeling cheery. I’m going to watch Matt dance his way around the world and hope it cheers me up a little.