Tag Archives: plants

Hanging plant holders

Greetings from a very wet and windy Cape Town. I just had to nip out to the shop up the road for bread and milk, and to the sewing shop round the corner for a new pair of sewing scissors (cutting some thick fabric this morning with my old ones was too much to handle, on top of everything else happening here right now). I could have held up a bank, dressed as I was in Philip’s huge old black hooded raincoat and my black face mask.* You could only see my eyes. Maybe that’s what wearing a full burqa feels like.

We are still at Level 4 of lockdown, moving to Level 3 on 1 June. I don’t know what it’s like for you, wherever you are in the world, but here is pretty damn crazy. This post was supposed to be about the plant hangers I’ve been making (I’ll get to it, I promise) but the things happening here are just so insane that I can’t contain myself any longer. The ban on the sale of alcohol will only be lifted next week – countless people have died from drinking vrot homemade pineapple beer (seems it’s not as easy to make as one would have thought) or meths, and the ban on tobacco products is not going to be lifted for months. We are allowed to buy certain items of clothing in shops but not t-shirts with short sleeves or open-toe shoes (not sure how they define Crocs). We can attend religious gatherings of up to 50 people, but we are not allowed to enter a restaurant to pick up a take-away order (even one person at a time). Apparently the minister of social something-or-other wants to ban the provision of cooked food to the homeless and the poor, and this bill is sitting on her desk right now. Countless people have been killed as a result of overzealous police action relating to lockdown restrictions. (Yes, you read that right. Killed). It is outrageous. Sniffer dogs are now employed at many postal and courier depots to make sure that no-one is sending any prohibited items around the country. A curfew was imposed at the beginning of May – you had to be home by 20h00. Exercise time was 6h00 to 9h00 daily. You could go to the pharmacy to pick up your meds but you couldn’t buy hair colour from the shelf right next to the queue you were standing in because it was deemed “non essential”. Few things made sense.

It all started so well, and I get that authorities and governments round the world had to wing it. We were all behind The Prez at first, but he has misread the growing mood of resentment and desperation in recent weeks, and seems to have taken some bad advice. Little or no scientific basis for lockdown regulations has been provided, and yet we are expected to abide by them regardless. People want to go back to work (all of us, formal and informal traders, office workers, domestic staff, black and white, low- and middle-class), naturally taking proper safety precautions, but that’s not allowed. More people will die from the effects of this lockdown than from the virus itself. I read a lot and I know this applies to many other countries, not just South Africa. And I know I’m speaking as a middle-class white person (how could I not be, that’s what I am?) but am very aware of the hardships faced by homeless and poor people because of my work with an NGO that provides food for those who can’t afford it. Thank god for all the church groups, NGOs, community groups and generous individuals who have been providing for those less fortunate – they have been doing the work that the state is supposed to.

Now, where was I before I started ranting? – oh yes, plant holders. I wanted to come up with a unique product for the Christmas markets (optimistically hoping they will actually happen in 2020!) that combined my enjoyment of sewing with my love of plants. And so we have these:

I fiddled around with the basic design for ages before I was happy, and the new ones (which aren’t pictured here) have wooden beads instead of knots at each top corner. They look really cute. I’ve used up all my shweshwe fabric, hopefully I’ll be able to buy more when all the shops are allowed to open…. 

*It is obligatory to wear a mask now when you go out, and also preferably even when you’re driving alone in your car. Yup, true.

Lockdown, day #whatever

Well, we’re in a right bloody mess, aren’t we? South Africa’s lockdown has been extended to the end of April. We have 1,800 confirmed cases and 18 deaths, so the guys in charge figure this is working. I know it’s easy to be critical from a distance, so I’ll just say that I’m sure the government thinks its doing the right thing “for the people” and leave it there. I will abide by the regulations, although I think some of them are excessive and pointless.

We can’t buy alcohol, so I’m hoarding two bottles of white wine under the bed and some gin behind the bookcase. (I don’t know why I’m hiding it, actually, since I live alone. The cat’s unlikely to be interested in a martini.) We can’t buy cigarettes and I only have four packs left, so I’ll have to start smoking something I can find in the garden. I’ll be going shopping in the morning (I have to choose the supermarket closest to my house), but I can’t buy wool to crochet a blanket or a new pipe for the vacuum cleaner because those aren’t deemed “essential items”. FFS.

Things I have been doing during lockdown, apart from fighting lethargy:

Signed up for an online language course – I’d really like to be able to speak German, also probiere ich es aus. Aber es ist schwierig! My accent must be atrocious but my friend Lara has a husband who is fluent in German, she said she’d lend him to me for a bit after lockdown. That will help.

Started reading the first of three volumes about the Third Reich, by Richard J. Evans. There are huge gaps in my knowledge of history, and my ex-husband recommended Evans as one of the best historians of this particular period in Europe. I’m up to the late 1920s, when the crash of the stock market in New York changed the world’s economy forever, and the implications for Germany and the Nazis.

Been making a few masks, but mainly just for people who ask for them specially. I use three layers of 180-count cotton fabric, as recommended by the WHO. I made the first one with pleats but it annoyed me so now I make them like this (easier and more comfortable):

mask 1

Painted a bookcase. Try to do my Pilates routine every day, to the accompaniment of a blues soundtrack from Spotify so that I forget to count.

Continued knitting a jersey for a friend’s 3-year old grandson in Bristol, who will probably never get it now. I haven’t found it very absorbing, which is a pity – I used to love knitting. I knit while watching Narcos, six fabulous seasons of the origins of the drug trade in South America and its global impact. I’ve almost come to the end, but have picked up a few useful Spanish expressions. Maybe I should have signed up to learn Spanish instead of German – aunque como van las cosas, no puedo visitar México.

Spent a lot of time on social media trying to help an NGO, The Service Dining Rooms, raise money and awareness for the plight of the homeless community in Cape Town. People have been very generous, which is extremely heartening.

Pottering in the garden and with my container plants. Some of the plants on the patio have mealy bug or woolly aphid or whatever that horrible white fuzzy thing is called, so I’ve made up my own spray with garlic and cayenne pepper. Hope it works. I also feed the plants regularly with stuff made from fish droppings or something similarly stinky. What can I say – the plants are thriving, but it definitely gets a bit smelly out there sometimes!

Over and out for now. Good luck with your lockdown. Maybe we’ll all come out of this with a different and better perspective on life, and a greater sense of gratitude for what we have.

 

 

working and gardening

Taking five days off to spend in Sedgefield may seem like a really stupid thing for both Rob and me to do at this time of year when there’s so much work to get through, but that’s what we did last week! We packed the boot full of blank pillow cases, fabrics, screens, inks and my iron, so that I could get stock ready for the Christmas markets running up to the 25th, and if Rob’s got his lappie he can work anywhere in the world.

sedgefield

It was very productive to work with none of the usual distractions, and we both got lots done. He was under strict instructions to exclude my ‘holiday’ face from all pics.

Back in Cape Town, we battle on with very high temperatures, too much sun and not enough water. Some of the new plants have managed to survive, however, and I am so grateful to have inherited a grey water system with the new house. I just need to remember to clean the filter more often, to avoid the mild reek of recycled water, but that is a very small price to pay for some colourful blooms.

I know, I know, a sad show by many people’s standards, but this evidence of survival is deeply satisfying to me. [Two asides: yes, there was once a swimming pool in the back garden, you can see a bit of the remains near the daisies that Eleanor gave me; the blue morning glories are ‘not my own work’, but they delight me nevertheless. My ex-husband was filled with contempt for them and said they were the worst kind of weed, but (a) I don’t care, and (b) he’s not here to see them anyway!]

Wishing you all a good week, however hot or cold it is where you are :-)

here a plant, there a plant

Skimming through the photos I keep in the folder called “Pics for BLOG”, these jumped out at me this morning, creating a fortuitous plant theme.

The one on the wall is a house in Sea Point, near where Alex’s sister lives. From what I could tell, they are two wooden frames with plastic bottles struck horizontally inside, with each plant coming out of the neck. Alex said she thinks she’s seen something similar at Kirstenbosch (National Gardens, here in Cape Town), so I’ll go and check it out one day.

The bright green succulent in a cement pot was on a table at a restaurant in Stellenbosch. The oddly-formed one (there’s almost something obscene about it but I can’t quite put my finger on it)  in a cream crochet ensemble was bought from Succulent Simon at the River Club Market on Sunday, and now lives on my window sill. I gave the angel-wing begonia in wire cup and saucer to Rob a few weeks ago. His plants don’t usually live long, and I have to send over a new one every couple of months.

Finally, the collection of plants in test tubes was the display in an empty shop window next to Art Source in Observatory. I’d gone to pick up glue supplies and this was so arresting. I have no idea what http://www.farmacy.co.za is, nor have I ever looked it up. I’m still not going to, but you can if you want.

To be continued…

oranges and apples

I love it when I’ve had something lying uselessly around for ages waiting for me to conjure up its destiny, and then I do!

I found a bag of these fabric flowers at a weird dusty little habby shop in Retreat months ago, and finally it came to me – stick them on a paper lantern.

  

I smoothed some cold glue onto each flower, covering it quite well, then smoothed the flower onto the paper.  When it was dry, I splodged on some modge podge just to make sure it wouldn’t fall off later. The podge has given the surface quite a nice varnishy look, so I might add more later and see what happens. Even if the paper gets damp and goes transparent, I’ve discovered that it will dry back to normal.

And now that the previously-disadvantaged flowers have had a happy ending, I think I will have to go back and scrummage (rummage?) for more.

Lastly, just a quickie idea – last night my honorary in-laws took us all for dinner at Al’s Grill in Rondebosch. Jason ordered an Appletiser and, after he’d poured it into his glass, something about the shape of the bottle spoke to me. I took it home, washed it, sloshed some white acrylic paint inside, and let it dry overnight. Now it looks like this:

I love the lime-green effect. Apologies for the lousy picture, I get very excited when I’m ready to post about something and am in too much of a rush to spend time on the styling or the background. heh

To be continued…

River Club Boutique Market

The River Club Boutique Market in Observatory is relatively new on the market scene in Cape Town but, after our first experience of it yesterday, we think it’s destined for longevity.

Organised by the lovely young gorgeous blonde Daisy (argh), who must have the patience of an ant-eater, there was a fabulous mix of stands, everything went smoothly (as far as we could tell), and the place was packed.  PACKED.  Isn’t that the best word a vendor could hope to hear?

Our neighbour was Eddie from Barkery Bites, and who’d have known dog biscuits were such big business? He’s also a really funny guy, all ve way from Lunnon, yeh, and kept us in stitches all day.

We also met Simon the Succulent Man.  He has gorgeous plants and cacti for sale in beautiful natural wood, and I think he’s new to the market scene. We liked him and also think he has fine taste – he asked if we could crochet pot holders from cotton or hemp (hemp???) for the plants he sells in those hideous brown plastic pots. We’ll get back to you later today, Simon.

The weather was perfect, just a mild breeze to lower the impact of the sun’s rays, and there were lots of free things to keep children entertained while their parents lounged under trees eating delectable market food, or sat at umbrella-ed tables sipping chardonnay.  Happily for me, not being too keen on proximity to millions of over-excited toddlers, the train rides, biscuit making, face-painting and jumping castle activities were at a good distance from the stalls.

We tried to go for a Less is More approach to display – taking our lead from Megan, who has the Design and Style portfolio, and it seemed to work. Usually we just laden our tables with as much stock as they can take, and perhaps this has been a bit overwhelming.

And on the more intellectual side of things, you’ll notice a selection of fiction in my pics – I’m in a South African literature mood at the moment and reread a couple of JM Coetzee’s novels last week (sobering, dismal and punch-in-the-stomach stuff), and am currently mid-way through the latest Michiel Heyns (witty,  slightly formula-driven but very readable).  Vladislavic’s short stories are wonderful when you need some rule-breaking, and as pertinent and clever as when he was first published.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home work

Only 6 more sleeps until our Open Day [for those of you in Cape Town, it’s at 3 Leith Road, Constantia, from 10h00 to 15h00 this coming Saturday 4 August.]

We have lots of gorgeous new crochet-y things to put on show, and Megan has been busy with her unique illustrations and cards.

We are working with another local business Gift Gardens on this one, so even if you aren’t into mosaics and blankets and footstools, you can pick up beautiful and useful things for your garden – plants, herbs, flowers, pots, fairy lights, solar lamps, sky rockets, gardening gloves…

Today the mini mosaic mirrors I’ve been busy with are getting their final touches. In my kitchen. No room anywhere else. No space to cook supper. Oh, what a shame. (McDonald’s, anyone?)

To be continued…