Tag Archives: Afrique Du Sud

Not Your Nano day 14 – wrong turns and dead ends

Well, if you’ve been thinking, that Cat, she’s so lazy, almost 4 pm and she still hasn’t posted, you’d be mostly right.

I did not have the energy or the brain for a post today. See, this morning I left my house bright and early with The Boy, The Spawn, and the Hounds. We were meant to do a quick trip up the one peak, then head down for ice cream cones on the way home. So, part one happened, after which The Boy said, “I brought torches so we can look at the caves.”

We were still fairly unwinded (if wind-tousled) and the morning was young.



anyway, we got home six hours later, I still had to go do some grocery shopping, came back, and kinda passed out.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with writing…well, it’s right there, if you’re like me and don’t outline, and only go off with a rough map in hand. Sometimes…you get side-tracked. Sometimes you take wrong turns, and the story goes happily galloping off on pathways that you”l have to back track to get your novel on the right route again. That’s not the end of the world, though it sure bloody feels like it when you find yourself cutting huge swathes of text and weeping bitterly into your salt-flavoured coffee.

So why do it- well, sometimes you come back to your story with new ideas that you’d never have thought of if you didn’t take those paths, meet characters who will come in handy later, learn new and surprising things about your world that will inform your story in ways you didn’t expect.

And sometimes, you just get to stand on top of a mountain and look at the flowers.



Happy Happy

Happy Friday!

So life is short and full of crappy things, so today I am focusing on why I love where I live.

– neoprene and bare feet *is* formal wear.
– squirrels in palm trees
– fascinating array of bird life
– dog walking community
– art in unlikely places
– beach, mountain, and estuary all on my doorstep.
– kayakers stopping to chat with each other out on the water.
– people doing sun salutations next to the estuary while dogs bound about.


See, that made me feel warm and snuggly.

A good way to start the weekend.

Ou Kraal and beyond

Today’s hike was up Ou Kraal to the Spes Bona forest, then along back to Pecks Valley. The total from home to back again was about 13 kms, but it took us 4 hours 25 minutes because *someone* had to go down half the trail on her seven-year-old arse.

ippThe forest is a wonderfully cool haven of wooden walkways (you’re not allowed to disturb the forest) that weave between lichen-shaggy rocks and twisted tree limbs. Because it was early on a Sunday we had the walk to ourselves, and could hear the peeping of frogs and the distant trickle of mountain streamlets.

We took a brief break in Tartarus Cave. We don’t currently have a torch because *someone* used it to go look for chickens in the dark and desn’t know where she put it, so we didn;t venture in very far, but it was a nice respite from the icy winds on that side of the mountain.

ippAgain, we got to enjoy a vast variety of fynbos and other plant and animal life , including spotting some little droseria “nurseries” in the lee of some rocks, and the range of proteas coming in to flower. I particularly loved the contrast of these deadheads swathed in lichen (?)


Hiking and flower-arranging in my head.

I know I’m exceedingly lucky to live in a really beautiful part of the world. At my doorstep is an ocean, an estuary, and a bunch of mountains. I am spoiled for outdoor activities. I can also be the laziest human in existence, with a tendency to lie around like a bear that just ate an entire wedding cake.

Recently I’ve been making more of an effort to enjoy my world, and one of those things is to go hiking in the mountains with my family. The Western Cape is home to some amazing plant life, and the fynbos is my favorite. It has such a subtle beauty, that pictures really don’t capture it. it’s spring at the moment, so it will be interesting to watch the floral landscape change (already the arum lilies have passed their bloom and are fading away to dune flowers).

I spotted this little (insect eating?) plant while walking. There were only a handful of them, but they were beautiful – I’d love to find out more. I think I need to buy myself a nice fat reference book.



At the top part of the mountain there’s a level area full of little puddles and tiny streams, and the area is where many leopard toads breed, as you can see.


And finally, a view from “round the corner”, across False Bay. You can see the tain tracks below – one of the best parts of the southern line is going along the coastal section. The trains themselves may be dreadful, but the view is killer (I have had a wave throw spray right over the carriage to the other side.)



A Sale! A Sale!

The Boy and I have been ridiculously busy pulling up carpets and scraping away glue and sanding and varnishing and painting. We’ve never done any DIY in our lives before so this is a whole new experience. Considering what a bunch of noobs we are, I’d say the place is looking pretty good.


All that, along with turning in my Beastkeeper edits, all our weird hobbies and things like walking the hounds for miles along the coast, has left me little time to think or talk about writing. I still write, but mostly in some kind of daze.


(I love the eerie melancholy of the beach in autumn. Also, we saw the beach sledding dog team again. So weird.)


I do have some rather wonderful news: I can finally announce that I sold my story The Girls Who Go Below to F&SF, so I am pretty damn excited about that. You could probably hear me squee all the way in the northern hemisphere when I got the email. :D. I’ve slacked on my monthly short fiction though. This weekend I finally started what was probably March’s short, hahaha. It’s odd, and it connects to another (unsold) short story, and peripherally to another unfinished novel.

It’s while I was opening up that novel (which I’d given up on about 2 years ago because I couldn’t imagine my agent being able to do anything with it), that I realised I really really liked what I had written, and when I am done with these rewrites for N&V, I am going to tackle it again.


 He’d had to go back for the rest of his stuff, but of the human Jacques there’d been no sign. The Caterpillar was up on the ceiling though, slowly working at a cocoon in the far right corner. It had said nothing to him while he’d packed his bag, and nothing to him when he left.

Amanda had been out. Daniel had left her a note, and snapped it under a penguin refrigerator magnet. The fridge door was full of them. He didn’t remember her collecting penguin-themed anything before. The note said simply. I have my stuff. O. There hadn’t been much else to say.

There’d been a new painting in the living room, the easel positioned off to one corner, opposite to the Caterpillar. Another one of Amanda’s fish things, the bones splayed out around the canvas, rusted hooks embedded in paint and material. It stank. The fish hooks had spelled out fuck you. As with all things Amanda, the message could have been for anyone.

But now, here in this cluttered, but ultimately barren room, Daniel could put away Amanda and her repulsive new lover and the fish hooks that she’d pulled out of his heart.

Instead he listened to the silence, the rustle under the bed. A silent rustle, too small to be real. After a while, Daniel bent over to peer underneath. His hair fell down, kissing the industrial beige carpet, like a dry brush loaded with watercolour. There was nothing under the bed. When he drew up again, Daniel saw his hair had inked feathery brown letters on the wool. This is Judith’s tenuous grip on reality.

Shit, he thought.

I solemnly swear that I am going to finish this book and find out what happens. SWEAR IT. PROMISES.







Squirry the Squirrel goes neep neep neep

Yesterday I went to go hang out in town with Tammy February, Discordian Kitty and Cherry Blossom Boutique

Much fun was had, though it was very amusing to be towered over. I felt vaguely threatened by Ms. Cherry Blossom as she had just bought herself a new pair of heeled boots and was probably scraping 6’4” or so.  I would love to be that tall. Let’s swap a foot or so, yeah?

Before we met up, I took the spawn to go feed squirrels in the Gardens (and spotted The Boy returning from lunch) and much fun was had holding out nuts for fluffy-tailed rats and winged rats.


I’m sure I should know what this building is called seeing as how  a) I live here, and b) it’s pretty distinctive, but I confess my ignorance. Someone enlighten me?



Elder Spawn became The Bird Girl of the Gardens, and had people trying to film her. She did look rather striking surrounded by pigeons. There’s also something quite spectacular about how they will all suddenly take flight at the same time and wheel and arc in a great silvery -grey flock. Pigeons: surprisingly magical.


Compensating for my terrible memory by actually writing things down. So here we go…

Last night was probably the most laid-back New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had. Normally the boy and I make a plan to go clubbing or to a party, but none of that sounded appealing. Instead we stayed home with the Spawn and had a mini braai, watched Strange Days (I forgot how much I enjoyed that movie) and then toasted each other at midnight. It was wonderful and perfect.

It also meant that this morning The Boy and I could go walk along the beach with the hounds, and it was glorious and warm, with cold water foaming and swirling about our ankles while the hounds chased each other through the waves and the whelks skated underfoot. On the way back I bought spanspek, mangos and strawberries from the side of the road and we ate that for lunch, washed down with last night’s champagne. And it was while I drank that bubbly that I sent off my first sub of the year, so that felt pretty good. 😀

Later that afternoon we ventured to Muizenberg beach with the kids, armed with rubber gloves to help pick up rubbish, which I think provided the beach-goers with much amusement.


(pic by Lauren De Vos)

I have a vague goal for 2014 to try one new recipe a week, so tonight I made a tomato tart with olive pastry, served with basil, crottin, and a sweet & sour pepper jelly.

This one’s a hit.


Anine Booysen, South Africa, and Rape Crisis


A seventeen-year-old girl is gang-raped, disembowelled, her throat slit, and left to die.

The “corrective” rape of lesbians.

It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read”

I’m asking if those who can afford it go to Rape Crisis South Africa and support their 1000 hearts campaign to raise money to help rape victims.

I’m also asking that wherever you are, you help get this as viral as possible. Rape Crisis simply cannot keep going, keep helping, without funds.


Thanks to all those who can help. To my international friends who would like to donate – R100 is about $11 (USA) or 7 quid.


Rape Crisis are Cape Town-based. You can search for similar organisations around SA


. (thanks to S.L. Grey for the link.)


pig lilies

Spring is finally looking a little more spring-like.

The spawn and I took advantage of the good weather to mission down to the library, where I found a book of Margaret Atwood short stories so I was all YAY!

On the way back we passed by an empty lot. It’s been for sale for ages so it’s pretty much over-run with weeds. But, seeing as it’s spring, those weeds include the ubiquitous vark lelies. They made a little trumpet trail of ivory through the green, and I can’t help but feel if I was still innocent, that path would have led me somewhere amazing.




You are a starfish

I like you.

I’m fascinated by rockpools. They’re probably my favourite thing about the ocean (and I love many things about it so that puts them at the top of a long list). There’s a strange attraction to spending hours scrambling over rocks and wading through tiny pools, harassing anenomes, and trying to crush as few tiny periwinkles as possible that can keep me absorbed for hours. My dad was my patient and willing accomplice in my explorations as a child, and now I get to play his role with my own spawn.

And sometimes among the blue and pink and ivory tentacles, the crimson spines and the hallucinogenic lightshows of shells, you get to find the stars.