Category: Home & Decor
Phyllis Rodriguez is an artist, a teacher and a social justice activist. On September 11, 2001, her son Greg died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Yet Rodriguez and her husband wrote an open letter, “Not in Our Son’s Name,” calling on President Bush to oppose a military response in Afghanistan. Aicha el-Wafi is an activist with the French feminist group Ni Putes Ni Soumise, working with Muslim women. Her son, Zacarias Moussaoui, was tried in relation to the attacks on US soil, and faced the possibility of execution if convicted. She has no idea where he is today. Watch this short TED talk in which Aicha el-Wafi and Phyllis Rodriguez tell their story of reconciliation and forgiveness. Nelson Mandela would have been proud to know them both.
My fridge died today. It happened at the tail end of a trying week, both physically and emotionally, one during which more often than not, events reminded me how lucky I was to have my health and my strength. I had planned to do next to nothing today: rain outside and us inside, vegging on the couch, our attention shifting between the paper and Netflix. Ottie and Portia highly approved of the plan.
The surface of my desk is made of heavy ceramic tiles that remind me of the Mediterranean. In reality, it was meant as a garden table but its sunny disposition makes it the perfect desk, one that, as heavy as it is, has been trailing me for the last 20 years. If I look up from it, a framed poster that sofa girl discovered on-line reminds me that “Shopping counts as cardio”. At my feet, the dogs nap on the rug, lulled by the soft purring of the keyboard.
Some pals of mine are having a tough time at the moment with a house guest who is unhappy. With pretty much everything – the weather, their home, the food, the entertainment, the alternatives. She comes with more baggage than suitcases. As we all do when we travel. But, her baggage is serious – and there is a good chance that this trip may be one of her last. Surely all the more reason to have a wonderful time? But it isn’t that simple. Travel magnifies our insecurities and fears, and we humans are complex emotional beasts. When we are far from home it’s easier to splat our discomfort all over someone else – than to address it in ourselves. And the inevitable result is a disastrous holiday experience all round.
Jasper Johns, that great, great American artist, once wrote a note to himself in his sketchbook – which said: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.” The excellent thing about that piece of advice is that it can be applied to anything creative: food, art, film, music, words. I have nary an arty bone in my body – I would love nothing more than to sit down and create something beautiful. I have tried. And have failed miserably.
Yesterday I had to arrange flowers in a house I am looking after. The owner’s brief had been: “Make it look homely, but no ugly flowers”. So I used local fynbos – or the indigenous flowers and greenery that grow in the Cape. And contrasted that for a little softness with Tulips (imported) and St Joseph’s Lilies (imported). I avoided the roses (imported) because I never get it right with roses. They sag their little heads after a day – regardless of how carefully I have treated them. And they don’t smell like roses anymore. Sad really, that in a country like SA we don’t grow the range of cut flowers our soil would seem ready to embrace.
The house was expecting a man – so I kept it simple. The big glass vases I found suited the scale of the fynbos and I bought a couple of inexpensive vessels for the tulips. Nothing was arranged – just transferred from packaging and fluffed. I thought it looked pretty good. Of course, no-one commented but for one of the building contractors, who was in attending to some last-minute snagging: “Looks like a magazine,” he said, “only home-made”. The greenery did make the space feel like a home, so I took that as a compliment.