29 November 2010

Christmas and presents

The Christmas presents for the family and friends in South Africa are all done so no more braving the shops for me! Yippee!
Now the slightly more difficult task of choosing presents on the internet for my family overseas must begin.

24 November 2010

Tea Party!

Hey, I think I'll wear my mad hatter's hat (just because I can) seeing as it's a tea party.

The ladies from The Thrift Collection (who are selling some 60's/70's clothes made by my mother-in-law  so I feel a special affinity) are having a Tea Party on Sat 11 December from 10am to 12noon in Churchill Road, Windermere, Durban. See image above for details or contact the lovely ladies: 
Their stall at the i heart market is just so perfect (these ladies have a real flair for vintage) and their prices are better than reasonable. So let them know if you'll be at the tea party and I'll see you there.

22 November 2010

My favourite Christmas tree

Our Flamboyant tree has started to flower. I think the red flowers against the green foliage is perfect timing for Christmas, so for me they are Christmas trees. They are not indigenous to South Africa,  originally coming from Madagascar, but are now popular all over the world. You can find out their latin name and more on the eThekwini online site at this link: http://www.durban.gov.za/durban/plants_index

Henchperson! Job advert.

Would you reply to a job advert for a henchperson? It brings to mind the type of assistant (named Igor) of a mad scientist. I would LOVE to answer this ad if only they were in South Africa!

Evil Mad Science LLC in Sunnyvale, CA 
Evil Mad Scientist seeks henchpersons.
Evil Mad Science LLC is a tiny company looking to expand. We need careful, detail-oriented people with an affinity for strange little robots and things that go blink in the night.
What do we do? We assemble kits, pack and ship, manage our web sites, talk to customers, perform various administrative tasks, design future products and refine current ones. And, we’re looking for several people that can each help us with (at least some part of) that rather large collection of stuff.
Can you do some of that? Located near (and/or willing to commute to) Sunnyvale California?
We’re open to hiring part time or full time, temporary or long-term. Experienced or intern. You should be willing to let us know what you like to do, what you’re good at, and let us train you on the rest. If you’ve got specialized skills (coding/designing/engineering/administrating/other), we may well be able to use them. Let us know.
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20 November 2010

To go placidly

Posting the Holstee Manifesto reminded me of the poster that was on the back of by bedroom door while I was growing up. It's called the Desiderata (latin for 'desired things'), and was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

17 November 2010

Earth as Art

Byrd Glacier, Antarctica

Sometimes I like being reminded that life in all its forms is utterly awesome. The image and text are from Wired Science
Truly a river of ice, Antarctica's relatively fast-moving Byrd Glacier courses through the Trans-Antarctic Mountains at a rate of 0.8 kilometers [0.5 miles] per year. More than 180 kilometers [112 miles] long, the glacier flows down from the polar plateau (left) to the Ross Ice Shelf (right). Long, sweeping flow lines are crossed in places by much shorter lines, which are deep cracks in the ice called crevasses. The conspicuous red patches indicate areas of exposed rock.
Image taken by Landsat 7 on Jan. 11, 2000

The Art of Getting Things Done

Getting things done is definitely an art - it involves intuition, creativity, timing and tenacity.

Have you heard of the "round tuit". It's a circular piece of paper/card/wood with text on it explaining that it is a "round tuit" and now that this one is yours, you can finally do all those tasks that you said you would do when you got a "round tuit".... a.k.a. "around to it". Unbelievably corny, I know. 

So this post is about getting things done because even though I have a round tuit, I always get frustrated when I don't get everything done. I have read the book by David Allen called "Getting Things Done" and it is an excellent motivational tool, well written and simple to follow and implement his ideas. Without intending to give away the whole book, one of the most simple and effective ideas put forward is that you should write everything down so that it doesn't stay in your mind and cause you stress - then all you need do is consult your written notes to find out what the things are that need to be done each day.

Well, I certainly write things down but this is mostly because if I haven't written them down it is very likely that I will forget them. I have a whiteboard in our study, a small whiteboard on the fridge, plus the pinboard pictured below. The pinboard is also a bit of a mood board because it also has images and newspaper articles that inspire me or that give info about things that I want to do, whether they are for now or for the long term. Then every now and then I have to "edit" the pinboard to see which dreams I still want to fulfill, which ones have passed their deadline and which ones no longer hold my interest.

This is the current, super-large version.
Both of the boards that are shown here were made from recycled materials so I'm quite proud of myself for doing that and not having to spend a cent at the shops. The newer, larger one was made from corrugated cardboard from a box that my husband had kept when he bought speakers. He helped me by cutting the layers of cardboard to the same size in his workshop (I have to admit to being a girl who doesn't know a radial arm saw from a jig saw so I can't tell you how he did it). Then we covered the cardboard using some left over fabric from when the lounge furniture was reupholstered.
This was the older, smaller version.

The smaller one was made with layers of quite thin corrugated cardboard and covered with the leg section of old pairs of black pantyhose. I initially though that the pantyhose would develop ladders in them when I used the pins to hold notices in place but they withstood the small piercings.

I use these boards to post notes about things that I have to get done, and depending on how good the resolution on my pics are, you might be able to pick out the Christmas note from my niece in the UK.

13 November 2010

Update about the doggie

Do you realise, I'm becoming famous?
Thanks to everyone who read about and commented on the little paper doggie. I've dug a little deeper and now have more details to divulge.

My great aunt, who lived in Pietermaritzburg all her life, befriended a sailor who was recuperating at Oribi hospital after the war. His name was "Lofty" Ham. He would visit my aunt and on one visit brought this paper doggie as a gift for her. It may have been made by another sailor, we are not sure. The cigarette boxes that were used are Players Navycut 10's. The sailor on the box has been used to make the nose of our little dog. The doggie was passed on to my aunt and from her to my dad.

He's a little bit old now and is showing some signs of wear and tear. One little foot pad no longer has any of the original image left on the paper, another little leg is not as strong as the other three, and when you pick him up he is very light and delicate. Nevertheless it is clear that he is a terrier and we all know that terriers are known for their tenacity and strength so I'm certain he'll be with us for a long, long time.

12 November 2010

Word Power

The words Peace, Love, Hope, Joy and Happiness as well as repetition of the image of a heart seem to me to be appearing everywhere I go and I'm wondering what that says about our culture and society today. It reinforces in my mind the idea that there is a power in words and images that we all recognise at some level.

My recent blog post about the Holstee manifesto and my fascination with the concept of word clouds has reminded me how much I enjoy words and language and I am wondering if I will ever get to put form to the many ideas that arc across the neurons in my brain.

In the beautiful words of John Keats...

"When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high pil├Ęd books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! - then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

11 November 2010

Astounding use of iPod apps

I got this link from a tweet from Big Concerts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAllFWSl998
I'm a complete Apple geek and I just love it when I see them being used by other people. See what the drummer is using as a surface for his iPod?

Holstee Manifesto

With thanks to Ask Ashe I've just read the Holstee Manifesto - check them out at www.Holstee.com they are inspiring and awesome. Here is the manifesto to entice you to look for more inspiring information.

08 November 2010

Interconnectedness of all things

Origami-type folded paper terrier (circa 1945)
Rear view of paper folded terrier
The i heart market this weekend put so many ideas into my head and re-inforced so many concepts that were "seeding" in my mind. It reminded me of the Herman Mellville quote: "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among these fibres as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes and they come back as effects"

The doggie in the pictures on the right belongs to my father. It was made by a sailor who was in hospital in Pietermaritzburg around the end of World War II. I was inspired to take these photos because I bought an origami paper weave bracelet from Denise at Freshly Found that reminded me of the folding technique on the dog.

I browsed to my heart's content and saw so many of my own ideas represented in various forms and bought some beautiful, original Christmas presents. I am so deeply moved by the large number of people who are making original products, often by hand. And others who are recycling in the most interesting and creative ways. The market feels like a haven of natural charm and simplicity. One of the stall-holders said a quick goodbye to the item I bought. It seemed that what had been created was like a child that was now being sent out into the world.

I wanted time to write down all of the things that had inspired me but alas, the weekend is truly over and I will have to find time to do it during the week.

*Update: I inadvertently misattributed the quote above. I've just found out via Wikipedia that the quote was not by Herman Mellville (an American novelist) but rather by Henry Melvill (Canon of St Paul's Cathedral)

05 November 2010


Design/Concept: Dominic Strauss
Email: dom@d3online.co.za
This weekend (starting today) I'm planning a little Christmas browsing. Today I'll be visiting the Green with Envy Christmas Fair at 281 Vause Road, Durban and tomorrow the i heart market which promises to be even more exciting than last month.

Christmas is here

Christmas season is here again - there's no way to deny that there are now only 50 sleeps left until Christmas. So have you started your shopping (or at least gift ideas) list?

I have this plan for an advent calendar with a little gift for each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas but yesterday I was reminded that I'd better get started because there's not many days left between now and the first of December!

I really do try to get organised about Christmas but my favourite part is trawling the shops to find gifts that suit each person. It's always lovely to see what the shops have come up with as their gift ideas. Sometimes I get lucky and I find something perfect for someone specific a lot earlier in the year which spreads the expenses load.

I also (with some difficulty) try my best to be "green" at Christmas. Last year I revamped old decorations rather than buying new ones. I also used no bought wrapping paper but made my own from blank newsprint I had collected or I re-used old paper. This year I am planning to try stitching together images from magazines that I've collected to make sheets of paper that are big enough to wrap the gifts. I've also got a plan in my mind to make my own little table gifts instead of buying Christmas crackers because even the posh ones in the shops don't have very exciting treasures. My most coveted tree decorations are glass angels and baubles but I find that so many of these are "Made in China" that I don't want to buy them. It's not that I have anything against China specifically but the sweatshop stories that I've heard are often from China. More on that subject another time. I recommend the book "No Logo" by Naomi Klein.

Surfing Dbn SA

There's a guy who's a client of my husband's employer who stores his surfboard with said employer for use in Durban but lives in JHB! Co-operation and efficiency.

04 November 2010

Oh what a wonderful holiday

Despite hailstones the size of marbles...
The necessity for a complete getaway took us to Cathedral Peak Hotel for a week. Just looking at their WeatherWebcam showing the tea garden and the mountains in the background proves it's a very restful place to get away from city life and daily worries.

On Monday night (1st November) there was a brief thunderstorm which developed into a hailstorm. We have a friend with a fantastic photo of a bolt of lightning and I was hoping we would get a chance to catch some similar images but the storm was over too quickly. Not that I mind about the rain stopping. My husband tends to get gloomy when he can't take photos.

I got the chance to catch up on some reading (biographies and the latest British Vogue) while my husband added almost 1000 photographs to his portfolio.

I know the break did me a lot of good. I feel as though some of the cobwebs in my brain have been cleared away. Now to set out my goals for the next few weeks and months...