Author Archives: Nice Piece of Work

About Nice Piece of Work

Busy crafter, busy gardener, busy reader. Living in Cape Town, South Africa :)

Getting the boot

My boots may not be the sexy, pointy-heeled kind that Nancy Sinatra wore in 1966, but they are very practical and also slightly too big for me so I can comfortably wear two pairs of tights and three pairs of socks underneath. Yes, it’s that cold in Cape Town this winter, I’ve never had to wear as many layers as I am now since I moved here 35 years ago. Last night I decided they were boring and, since I have surrounded myself with beads in the last few weeks, I felt sure I could come up with some kind of boot jewellery.

A lobster clasp, some colourful beads and 15 minutes later…

These are cheap boots. I also have a pair in black, as well as some handmade sheepskin-lined boots in turquoise and red leather (for my inner hippy), but one day – when my ship comes in (or even a raft, I’d settle for a plain wooden raft right now) – I’ll buy something smart in leather. I did splurge a couple of weeks ago on a pair of short boots from the UK that caught my magpie eye on Facebook marketplace – someone in Cape Town had asked her friend to get them for her on her travels (pre-covid) but then found they were too big so they are literally unworn. I’ve only worn them once so far, but I don’t keep them in the wardrobe: they occupy an empty spot under my desk where I can catch sight of them every now and then. I’ve updated my will so that whoever gets to deal with the arrangements will see that it is my wish to be buried in them.

I have “a thing” about wearing shoes/boots that are a single colour, but these babies caught me unawares and I stood no chance against temptation. Maybe my personal style is changing, as I get older? I’ll be 60 in three months’ time, perhaps I’m about to turn into a butterfly?

To end with, some gratuitous pictures of three things in the garden right now – a strelitzia about to open itself up, pockets of snowdrops, and some mutant lemons. It’s hard to tell from the photo but some of these weirdos are over 14cm long.


a walk in the park

Some more pics from my walk in Arderne Gardens on Wednesday.

Right under my nose on Main Road, Claremont; a few minutes away from my house.
Little path
Wildlife. Two Egyptian geese and evidence of a large warren of moles
Azaleas in bloom
Spotted by the guinea fowl family. They were hoping for some grub. Sorry, guys, next time.
A New Zealand oak. Catherine, I thought of you when I saw this tree.
Hmmmm interesting. Apart from the common name of this tree, which obviously hasn’t kept up to date with post-colonial rebranding, this might be a very useful and natural source of a poisonous substance should I ever need to get out my bow and arrow and use it against someone mean….
Part of a series of little ponds, usually filled with ducks and koi. The algae seems to have taken over for now.
Water almost completely stagnant.
I spotted a solitary duck on this part of the pond system, and no algae. Maybe it’s got something to do with the sunnier position.
Got the fright of my life and stopped me in my tracks with horror – I thought this was a gigantic spider balloon created by a colony of mutant golden orbs or giant wolf spiders. Turns out to have been part of an area of the park undergoing restoration, and the netting covers an ancient tree that collapsed into a pond. I’m terrified of all spiders and it took me a while to recover. A second coffee would have been helpful at this point.

Don’t let the lack of rain fool you. It was icy cold and I’d forgotten to wear gloves, so it was just too freezing for me to consider a bit of chameleon spotting (a necessarily slow-paced activity!)
Arderne Gardens is well-maintained by the municipality, and I chatted to about three permanent staff on my rounds. There are also now security guards at the entrances – they certainly weren’t there when I first moved to Cape Town, 35 years ago. I used to share digs in a large house on the other side of the park in those days and one of the ‘inmates’, Paul, liked to go jogging in the early evenings. He said his jogging turned into a very fast sprint if he ever decided to take his life in his hands and detour through the park!

ScrapHappy July 2021

I realised I needed to get out of the house this morning after I’d managed to do my head in with distress, so picked up a large take-away cappuccino from Jack’s round the corner and headed to Arderne Gardens. It’s ridiculous that it’s a mere five minutes from where I live and yet the last time I went there was over three years ago. Today Cape Town enjoyed a break from the winter rains and the sun even came out a little.

Established in 1845, and filled with a wonderful mix of indigenous plants and some beauties from other countries, I used to take Alex there often when she was little. We’d look for fairies in the huge Morton Bay fig trees and feed the ducks and koi.

But this is ScrapHappy so let me move on. I’ve been making necklaces with little stuffed balls of fabric and having a lot of fun. There’s a lot of inspiration on instagram and pinterest, but I decided not to look at too many images and just made it up as I went along. My circles of fabric are 6.5cm in diameter and they are stuffed with remnants of tapestry wools, other fabric scraps, and even some bits of the compressed cotton that originally formed part of the cast on my left hand and wrist.

Mixing in some beads and buttons and ribbon and thread were part of the experiment. It’s a great way to use up small leftovers of fabric, and heaven knows I have a lot of those.

ScrapHappy is hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time: KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean, Jon
and Hayley

South Africa on fire again

If you want to see a woman forced to throw her baby out of a building that is about to go up in smoke, then here’s a clip from the BBC, posted three hours ago.
There is nothing I can add to what has already been said and written by seasoned local and international political commentators, but if anyone thinks that the consequences of the looting and violence and destruction (which are currently limited to two of our nine provinces) won’t affect the rest of South Africa, then they are shortsighted.

So much for “democracy” and the rule of law. So much tragedy and suffering still to come.

as I get older

I was chatting to someone the other day and began a sentence with, “And as I get older….“, when he interrupted and said “you get wiser“. First of all, I do not like being interrupted. Second, this is NOT what I was going to say. Perhaps he was trying to pay me a compliment. I do not mind compliments (at this stage, I’ll take pretty much any that get thrown my way – I’m weak like that).
But if he’d allowed me to finish my sentence, he would have heard “… I find I am becoming less and less tolerant of selfish, over-privileged people and self-appointed experts – and, what’s even better, I find I am able to express my opinions verbally and directly.” This is something I’ve had trouble with all my life – I was brought up to be polite and to treat others with respect, whether or not that respect was returned. A very deeply engrained survival tactic, which I had mastered by the age of 3, was to keep my mouth shut. Voicing one’s own opinion, however civilly and/or timidly, was the equivalent of navigating a field filled with landmines when I was growing up. Landmines were best avoided by standing in one place.

This is so liberating. What I say may or may not make any difference to the recipient of my intolerance or irritation, but I don’t care about that. I can’t change people’s minds about things and it is not my vocation in life anyway. (When I was 13 and fully indoctrinated by the Sisters of Mercy, I believed my vocation was to become a nun. Thankfully, by the age of 14, I’d discovered Levis, cigarettes, Neil Young, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Kurt Vonnegut and a very attractive young man called Roy who used to ride his bike all the way from Melville to visit me after school every day. We only ever stood at the garden gate talking, but it was enough to make me realise that there was more to life than a narrow bed in an austere cell with a bunch of religious fanatics, no personal freedom and no choice of different outfits). I did have a glow-in-the-dark statue of the Virgin Mary on my shelf, and you could lift Mary up to reveal a little container presumably meant for your rosary. For me, it functioned as an ashtray. It took my mother years to discover the source of the smell of stale stompies. Revolting, I know, but there we are.

I have spent a little time thinking about these things. My conclusion is that the more seriously people take themselves, the more “special” they believe themselves to be. Yes, it is rather simplistic but it is a sufficient explanation for me. Well, guess what? We are all special and, ipso facto, none of us are special. We all have different abilities, interests, opportunities, circumstances; the colour of your skin or the amount of money you have in the bank doesn’t give you the right to think you are better than someone with skin of a different colour or less money or less formal education.

I’ve made a good start lately on this new, more outspoken me, and I like it. I am starting to like me more. I have boundaries. Don’t cross mine and I won’t cross yours (or at least I will try very hard not to, and if I do, I will apologise to you). We are entitled to differing opinions on climate change, psychology, the wisdom of covid vaccinations, critical race theory, capitalism, art, music, religion and politics. We are entitled to these opinions by our Constitution, by the true nature of democracy, and by common decency and the absence of judgement.

But talking about judgement —- right now, most South Africans are entitled to feel wildly and deliriously thrilled by the thought of ex-Prez Jacob Zuma going to jail. It’s supposed to happen today. Only for contempt of court, despite the other 782 million laws he’s broken, but jail is jail. No doubt he’ll be out soon, he’s a wily bastard, but until then he’s going to look really really lousy in orange.