Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A good grief.

As I sat at the hospital bed of my friend this morning, feeling grateful relief, that a cluster of 'irregular' cells, had been swiftly evicted from her breast like an unwelcome guest, I thought of many things.

My beautiful friend lay chatting to me, her green eyes bright with the hope of things to come, and I could not help thinking of those other women, in other hospital beds whose lives had been altered that morning. Lives that were now in the hands of doctors and operating theatres, destiny and prayer.

I wanted to go to these women, moving from room to room, offering them my love and my unshakable sense, that everything will be the end.

It's a funny thing that. The need to share pain with others. Where I can, I avoid it. Choosing instead, to elude the seduction of shared wounds. When my daughter, Tiffany died, the walking wounded all found their way to my door. They came alone, or in groups, looking to swell their ranks! And even now, almost twelve years later, they will seek you out at a dinner party, and lay their wounds out for you, like a deck of cards waiting to be played.

Over time a person can become the wound, that was meant to set them free.

Sometimes, if you lucky, you find a good place to share the pain. And the many ways to heal it.

Like 'A good grief", the beautiful and inspiring community of sharing created by Molly in memory of her daughter Lucy, to help anyone dealing with loss of any kind. The human spirit is a wondrous thing...

Beauty is as beauty does.

"For attractive lips,
Speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair,
Let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more then things,
Have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed.
And redeemed.

Never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand.
You will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you get older you will discover that you have two hands;
One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others."

Audrey Hepburn

Monday, November 23, 2009

When time is phoenix winged...

I opened a book this evening and a card fell out.

It was from my daughter Skye, written at the time of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) several years ago.

It was a beautiful message to rediscover so unexpectedly, from our first born on a warm summer's eve.

This is what it says:

My Darling Mum and Dad,

When time is Phoenix winged
and tiny markers
like plumes,
lay down creases about your eyes
to feather your memory...

When the years pool
like spring water
and show you
your children's faces
gathered again at your
blue striped kitchen table,
songs of apple and of honey...

You should know that angels
sit amongst them,
and goodness folds itself into
the pleats of your New Year's

And when that skirt is ruffled,
by the shiny coat of your labrador
brushing past you,
or by the wind in the old oaks at Talana,
or by the swish of your former self
urging you forward;

You should know too,
that you leave a wake of goodness,
a shimmery, shell paved shoreline
in all the places that you have
placed your feet.

xxxx Skye
(I think the patients feel better just by seeing this young doctor walk into the ward!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

from jenny this morning.

Today like every other day
We wake up empty and scared
Don't open the door of your study
And begin reading
Take down your musical instrument

Let the beauty we love be what we do
There are hundreds of ways to kneel
And kiss the earth


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

peas and carrots.

Every now and then, I check in on Saint Verde , blog of Neville Trickett lifestyle forecaster extraordinaire and maverick aesthete.

Neville, whose short-lived tribute to retail heaven, (Saint Verde) offered an eccentricly cerebral worldview, takes a rare moment off from a very busy life, to offer occasional inspiration online. Neville's mind works with synchronicity, making ever changing connections between disparate elements. Nothing exists in isolation, and he will find astounding relevence that seems to effortlessly twin itself beyond time, place and culture.

In this earlier post, he aligns the work of photographer Wingate Paine ( 1915-1987) whose pioneering photographs recorded the emergence of an awakening sexual revolution, with the sensual, fluid watercolours of renoir.

Neville disappointed his readers with the news that he was making a dodo of his popular blog. Happily he is still, even if only rarely rearing his clever head. Go share in the wonder at

Friday, November 13, 2009

End Conscription Campaign 25 years on...

Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I spent the weekend in Stellenbosch, attending the End Conscription Campaign 25 year Anniversary Concert at Spier.

Bright Blue were reunited for the first time in decades, and we were keen to see our friend Robyn Levitan, lead singer, song writer, architect, entrepeneur and man about town, perform after all these years!

In the fabulous Spier amphitheatre, we looked around at the aged audience, and thought 'OMG when did we get so old!' Where did those lithe creatures, that cavorted on Wits University campus go?! Wasn't it just yesterday, that we were handing out ECC leaflets, and giving flowers to troops called in to control anti-apartheid protests. Who were all these aged hippies, and wasn't that grey-haired sycophant dancing in front of the band, Suzy from Pysch 101, who always took her top off at The Free People's Concert?

Mr Nielson and I stayed in one of the many adorable B & B's in the heart of Stellenbosch, a university town of immense charm and beauty. At its heart, the beautiful churches and Victorian architecture, that have been so carefully preserved. A culturally rich site for Afrikaaner traditions, it will have to fight to preserve this heritage. Already a dual mediumship university, the once wholly Afrikaans bastion of Higher learning must in the old Apartheid lingo, adapt or die.

After exploring the loveliness of this charming dorp, Mr Nielson better known as Sid and I, went off to Kamers vol geskenke. Wendy and Hilton Appelbaum make their wine estate, Morgenzon available annually to this fund raising pre-Christmas event. All gate proceeds go to a local cause, and in this way the farming community is being slowly uplifted.

This is their wine farm, and yes, that is their home at the top of the hill! Hilton has always looked at me askance, since I suggested that playing Baroque music to his grape-vines 24/7 smacked of slavery, and that even grapes need a day off! (Or a good night's sleep at the very least, not to mention those poor farm labourers!) Hilton, who has speakers strategically positioned throughout the vineyards, is convinced that the constant pleasure of baroque music, inspires his grapes to loftier heights! I am all for a little chat with ones plants, but these poor dears seem under musical siege.

The verdant estate is the perfect setting for the beautiful handmade gifts, plants, flowers, clothing and decor on sale, And the food, so close to Stellenbosch which is a very 'foodie' town, is always delicious. Sitting at the long tables, scenically placed under trees, all the while partaking of a country feast was sublime.

My friend Lesley ( blogger of 'my hearts content') creates a romantic range of charming jewellery, whimsical enough to win the heart of any vintage style lover. After five exciting days under a barrage of visitors and a sold out stand, Les and husband Tom were only too delighted to head home to cape town to recover!

And no doubt to make plans towards next years 'Kamers' which just keeps getting bigger and better.
See you there.
xxx elle

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The girl in the glass bottomed boat.

I've written a children's story.

It's one I hope, that parents will think about long after the children have heard it, and are safely tucked up in bed.

Now, I begin the process of illustration. piecing together all the characters, and the settings in which they find themselves. Using mixed media, pastels, acrylics and oils!

It's a beautiful journey that this glass bottomed boat-girl is taking me on.I've found a photo that looks just like her! She reminds me of Emily Strange and looks so formidable, that I can't wait to get to know her.

Her portrait has only begun....
Image: Vogue

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've put a spell on you...

It's true.

I can't spell.

I've been known to ask my kids how to spell such simple words, that they look at me aghast, after all they all know how intelligent their mother is! Words like independence, or is that independance, I'm never sure. To be honest, both look a little odd to me!

I still don't know the difference between the 'g' and 'z' in Hebrew. They are a mirror image of one another, and I get confused and have to cross reference (another one!) words in context, for certain identification. It's appalling really, or is that apalling, especially when reading aloud at the Passover Seder!

Now, of course there is spellcheck (spell-check?), but I am usually in too much of a hurry to concern myself with that.

And don't get me started on apostrophe's!

So, next time you come across one of my spelling errors, please just indulge me, I'm convinced it's a sign of genius!
xxx elle

and blow your house down...

I lay in bed last night with the curtains open, and watched a wild night unleash itself, against my bedroom french doors. Trees flailed about helplessly in the wind, as if under siege, and cast frightened shadows against the wall.

The lights went out.

Save for the glow of lit candles nothing but a dark sky, and the faint hope of light in the distant houses across the drenched city streets.

Unseasonal. The rain has made itself felt these last many days, and is not yet spent. Earlier, Skye and I looked up at the mountain in the fading light of the afternoon, and tracked the rain as it moved horizontally along its path. With purpose. Not the lazy kindness of an early morning rain, but something stronger, as if intent.

I felt un-nerved by it. Somehow. Feeling my own puny presence, in the still of the room, as the storm bashed at the windows and rattled the doors. Felt keenly, how primal the threat of nature is to our existence, and how foolishly we disregard that truth.

In the morning, the torn limbs of broken boughs lie strewn on the asphalt. Birds call out to their fallen young in distress, and the trees sway with a loose surrender. And even now, as the lights switch back on, and the sun turns a pale cheek, I am left feeling that man needs to take better care. Needs to notice, that there is work to be done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

After the rain, the green.

A note.

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand,
rise on wings.

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain,
from everything it's not;

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble on a stone,
end up drenched in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass,
to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;

and to keep on not knowing
something important.

Wislawa Szymborska

From Leading from within: Poetry that sustains the courage to lead.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Calm yourself woman!


Whatever is happening in your life right now...

Deep breath.

All is for the good.

Whatever you are seeking, is seeking you.

Keep calm and carry on.

xxx elle

Image created by the British Government in 1939 to buoy the spirit of the nation lest Germany invade.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Skirting the issue!

There is something about a skirt.

For so long the defining apparal of women, that English slang used the term to denote a woman.

And every age seems to have had a skirt, that provided a social commentary on the changing status of woman. For Elizabethans a long, full skirt spoke of wealth and class since fabric was too expensive for the lower strata of society to afford. The French bustle, assured the aristocrat that he had a 'buxom', (well-fed) mistress, and the Victorians knew that beneath all those impenetrable layers of petticoat, lay the ultimate 'prize', so men placed their women on a pedastal to achieve it!

Mary Quant's mini symbolized the emancipating revolution of the 60's, and hemlines have gone up and down ever since, as a kind of semiotic barometer of moral vigilence! My own advice about skirts is very simple: Avoid puffball and tulips! Otherwise, put a skirt on anything and it will look better.

Showers look more appealing,

Dressing tables seem to promise more feminine wiles.

Beds in a skirt, invite passion and intimacy.

Even the bathroom sink looks more alluring in a skirt.

And never ask 'does my bum look big in this?', unless you really want to know the answer!