Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning, experimenting and having fun

Lately I've been having midnight (art) feasts all by myself. And lots of espressos in the mornings after! I've been binging on new techniques and I'm having so much fun in the process. Happy weekend everybody!

The little things

In our part of the world it is one of those summers where every element competes in its extremity. Sweltering heat interspersed by monsoon like rain resulting in verdant and fluorescent greens. Just when my 2 year old and I reached the point furthest from our house, down by the gate, it started showering again. We huddled underneath the branches of one of the young oak trees next to our driveway and stood there watching it all. And time stood still. And everything happened in stereo and in slow motion. There, under the outstretched arms of that oak tree. We looked up into a sea of surging sap green, pitter-patting gently as soft droplets escaped down through the swarm of tiny umbrellas. We were shrouded into our own little cathedral by soft sheaths of grey. And I realized that what I am feeling is exactly the same elation that I've experienced when I looked up into those giant Redwoods in California. There is great wonder around us! If we're willing to stand quietly, watch, listen..

Today was another hot, sunny, ice-cream-eating day. And my little girl and I did just that. I sat quietly watching her as she enjoyed the messy coolness, taking in every curve of her tiny face, her large doe-eyes, the golden curls framing her little face - the blissful abandon of just being in a tiny moment.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Serendipity ....the sequel in my previous blog entry I told you about the strange chain of events around the books of dr Seuss. Well, what I omitted to tell you was that on our return flight from LA - 2 days after discovering the art gallery in Coronado with all of his paintings and original illustrations - my daughter got a little complimentary backpack and inside it we discovered snacks and....a book by dr Seuss entitled "Oh the Places you'll go!". Angels for sure.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Some call it serendipity, some call it coincidence. But the pattern of events is just too exceptionally similar to be coincidental. I choose to believe that it is God choosing to remain anonymous...but then maybe not...maybe He is really showing His continued presence and delight in what we do.

I will always remember the look of amazement and delight in my daughter's eyes when she experienced snow for the first time. This tiny little 23 month old being who gazed up in awed silence while snowflakes were softly floating down around her. And the incredible joy I experienced while watching her. I believe that is how our Creator delights in us when we travel and enjoy this beautiful planet.

I am talking about the fact that, just before we left South Africa for our trip to the States, I developed a fascination for the works of dr Seuss. To the extent that I read some background articles about the author and about his children's books. I decided that although I didn't grow up with his books, I was going to introduce his works to my daughter when she was old enough and promptly bought her The Cat in The Hat.

Little did I know that just after New Year's Day, I would run into an art gallery on San Diego's Coronado Island that displayed a myriad of his original illustrations, sculptures and paintings, nor was I aware of the fact that he actually lived in La Jolla, San Diego. I met the curator, Rebecca, who shared endearing personal anecdotes about dr Seuss that gave me a deeper understanding of his life's work even more. It was as if I had been prepared for this experience so that I could really enjoy it when it happened.

The same happened when I chose to buy Jack Kerouac's book, "Lonesome Traveller" and John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" just before we started our road trip. What I did not know was that Jack Kerouac and the Beatniks frequented San Francisco to the extent that there's a Beatnik Museum close to Jack Kerouac Alley, next to an old bookstore that specializes in Beatnik and alternative publications. We ran into all of this while doing a walking tour through Little China in downtown San Francisco on 24 December.

On 22 December, we were crossing the Oregon stateline into California en route to the Redwood National Forest while listening to CD 6 of John Steinbeck's audiobook. What a surprise it was to find that this section of his book was about his own journey along the Oregon Coast into California's redwood forests more than 50 years before....on the very day that we were driving the very same route! Way too much coincidence to be random methinks. Yup....angels watching over us, for sure.

In the footsteps of pearl divers

Maybe it is just me, but every time I arrive in Dubai, they very air smells of spice and incense. Not surprising, because all of the ancient spice trade routes ran through Arabia. It is as endearing to me as the first call to prayer in the dark hours of morning. Almost like a homecoming. But then this is where I once lived .... And still do - if only for a few days a year - but I still do, in my heart of hearts.

This time round I have the thrill of introducing my Dubai to my baby daughter. At the crack of dawn, the two of us went for a stroll this morning - a little slice of life that is a rarity and a grave security risk if you live in South Africa. And I told her about this place that holds such a big chunk of her mummy's heart.

In the afternoon, my friend Janice and I went urban sketching in an area that is one of the best kept secrets in Dubai. The Bastikiya District, next to Dubai Creek. One of the oldest settlements in the city back in the day when Pearl diving and fishing was the main source of income some centuries ago. Long before the discovery of oil. Complete with traditional wind towers, hidden courtyards, rooftop terraces, mysterious winding alleys, renovated and dotted with art galleries and guest houses, yet intimate and quiet. Pure magical bliss! didn't hear it from me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Of journalling on the go and doing like the locals do

And so the calendar has turned to 2013 unobtrusively while I was taking in the California scenery.

If you think that your thirst for travel is quenched after weeks in foreign territory and a 2000 mile road trip. Think again. The road merely opens up more possibilities. Next time we should overnight here...maybe stay 2 nights in this and that quaint little seaside village...take more time for a photo safari in that about bringing our friends to do a mountain bike tour of the area...plan our time so that we can make more stops to take in the scenery at viewing areas...and so on and so forth. I believe one should always have a reason to go back.

I am not one who gets up at the crack of dawn armed with a checklist of tourist attractions for the day. I prefer to do as much as I can like the locals do - go to a local coffee shop, sit, watch the people, sketch live, listen, interact, ask questions, read, try to understand. Then come back at night and when everybody's asleep - journal!

For the first time, I made my own journal in preparation for a trip - thanks to Mary Ann Moss' online course, Remains of the Day - please do go over to her blog and have a peek if you want high doses of inspiration.