even Ken is excited

We have woken up to a wonderful downpour and the sound of good solid drops of skywater crowd-smacking onto the roof. The sky is a beautiful steel grey and it’s a cool crisp 16 degrees. I rushed outside to feel some water on me, and there I saw Ken had beaten me to it – that’s him doing his happy little rain dance, albeit on his side.


It isn’t due to last long but it certainly is marvellous right now.

Here’s a bedspread I started last night, after finishing the neutral Swiss one. I was desperate to work with some very vibrant colours :)


Back soon x

When in neutral…

Andrea’s bedspread: this afternoon I finished stitching the panels together (12 by 13 of them, to make 300 by 280cm) and topstitching, and tomorrow I’ll tackle the back. I had to spread it out over the dining table and chairs to get it all in one photo, and even then I couldn’t manage it.


There are some guinea fowl in grey, and some in brown, and a few proteas, and a bit of other handprinteds here and there, the rest is a combination of light to medium weight upholstery fabrics, mainly cottons.


This is for Andrea’s guest bedroom, and she specifically wanted neutral colours. Did I mention she is Swiss? Am I the only one who finds this amusing?


getting by

When big, stressful things in life threaten to overwhelm me (especially when two or three of them coincide), I have to go looking for small morsels of pleasure, things to be grateful for, as affirmation that the world isn’t a volcano of shit about to erupt!

So today, we have (1) work: I have been commissioned to make a 3 by 3 metre patchwork bedspread by a Swiss woman who particularly wants guinea fowls and proteas dotted around (because who doesn’t LOVE South African stuff!?), but I’m also using some other designs of my own. I’m having fun with printing today.


(2) Ripe granadillas from the front garden. Just perfect. And a few hundred more, close to readiness…


(3) Zimbabwean flame lilies from Shona’s garden, with roots, ready for a bit of nurturing. If nothing else manages to do well here (and our water restrictions have just been upped another notch – Cape Town only has sufficient water for another 85 days -gak!), surely these will?! I’m not going to list any of the plants that have given up the ghost in the last couple of weeks, because this is a POSITIVE post.


(4) and if all else fails — false nails!


a dung beetle walked into a bar…

What’s going on around here? Not a whole lot of anything especially exciting, which is why I haven’t posted for a while. There’s the usual stuff – making patchwork bedspreads, screenprinting this and that, trying to survive the heatwave, etc – and a bit of new stuff – doing some freelance content development for a community upliftment project. I’m enjoying it and it’s forcing me to manage my time better. That can only be a good thing, right?!


So, I feel I should tell you a joke, in lieu of interesting news.

A dung beetle walked into a bar, looked around and said, Is this stool taken?


describing the indescribable

This isn’t really a post – this is me finding a brilliant article about depression that deserves to be shared. I’d never heard of Tim Lott before I read this, but I think he’s a kindred spirit.

To try and explain what his illness felt like to him, he uses his mother’s suicide (which most people would be able to relate to as a truly ghastly event to deal with) as a marker of grief and apathy. That must have been terrible – but even that wasn’t as bad as being depressed? 

He’s right. My dad died of pancreatic cancer when I was 17, and the circumstances were such that I had to handle it on my own, emotionally (and, within weeks, in all other ways). And I can honestly say that I would rather endure that all over again than go through another severe depression.

But that’s not why I’m telling you this – this isn’t me being self-pitying, I promise! What I’m wondering is why it is important that we should understand Lott’s experience. Sure, mental health practitioners and pharmaceutical researchers need to know as much as possible, but I’m talking about the people around him. Around us. Why isn’t it enough to say, Look, I’m really ill right now, can you please leave me alone for two months? And if I start smelling because I haven’t showered, ignore that too… ?

I’ve come to the conclusion that we want people to know how it feels so that they don’t judge us. Being judged negatively, for something you can’t prevent and certainly don’t want, is a double trauma. I have to wonder how many marriages and other close relationships between people have failed due to one person’s inability to “get it”. Perhaps it says as much about a depressive’s inability to communicate clearly as much as the listener’s inability to empathise?

I’m rambling, I apologise. Lott’s article helped me, maybe it will also help you. x



cuttings and honey

Have cuttings, will plant.

I had quite a nice assortment sitting in water on the kitchen window sill last week, and they were ready for the big world of Soil and Fresh Air. Somewhere at the very bottom of an as-yet unpacked box is a tub of plant hormone powder. I could be pushing up daisies before it gets found, but Karen came up with an alternative – without which there may not be any daisies at all! Honey.

I thought she might have been overdoing the back pain medication, but google proved me wrong. I boiled up my water, added the honey, and let it cool overnight. Then I did the planty things:

Mazus reptans and Plectranthus nicodemus


Plectranthus ecklonii (you have to look hard to see the two tiny new leaves popping out in there, but they’re there!)


Portulocaria afra (I didn’t even plant it properly, just shoved it down the side of a pot of geraniums) – it’s also known as spekboom in Afrikaans. Spek in English is bacon, which is why you may also hear it referred to as porkbush. Which I think sounds stupid. Some things shouldn’t be translated!


Nepeta cataria (catnip) – the only plant I’m trying to grow that isn’t indigenous to South Africa. It’s for my girls :)


So, was it just me, or did you also learn something from Karen?

waiting for rain, and a miracle

They promised us rain today, so I’ve been up since 6.00 holding my breath…so far, four hours later, sweet nothing. Five melon plants have already gone to the Great Garden in the Sky, so I’m left tending just one. My tomato has grown in size – it’s now a whole 0.5 cm larger in diameter than it was a week ago. Talk about failure to launch.


We were talking about little miracles the other day, and I had an experience shortly after that which I have chosen to see, ironically and perversely (because that’s what I do so well), as a miracle. Sitting typing exactly where I am now, I looked up to see a man walking past the window to the patio door. I didn’t know him. I went to the door to ask him who he was, you know, like a total idiot. Excuse me, Mr Burglar, we haven’t met before, is there anything I can help you with? 

It was 6.30am, and I’d already been out in the garden with buckets of ‘grey’ water, trying to save the plants. I had left the French door open, and pulled the security gate closed but hadn’t actually locked it. He opened the door and barged right in. My brain slowly began to realise that this guy was Up To No Good. I backed off down the passage, trying to remember where the nearest wall panic button was. By the time I did, he’d taken the laptop that was on the kitchen counter plus what he thought was a purse (actually my sunglasses case) and shot back out the door.  Power cord and mouse dangling from under his arm, he vaulted over the side gate (6 feet high) and then right over the main gate (8 feet high) and disappeared.

So, obviously, this was not a nice thing to happen. But it was a good thing to happen – because I will be forever more alert to the possibility of this happening again, and will never ever leave any door or gate unlocked. I will also always wear my mobile panic button round my neck.

It was also a lucky thing to happen –  this man wanted something valuable, and nothing else. He had no weapon and wasn’t interested in being violent. I was less than a meter away from him at one point so it would have been easy to get hurt. Not many people get off this lightly. Some victims get stabbed or shot. It happens every day. In South Africa, and all over the world. I don’t know why I was so lucky (although, to be honest, I don’t really know why anything ever happens at all. Does anyone?)

Wishing you all a very very happy holiday season, however you spend it, with your friends and family. xxx