Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

I was born in an era of typewriters, snail-mail letters, no mobile phones, no emails, no personal computers. I still write letters by (untidy) hand and send them through the post. I’ve a treasure trove of letters written to me over a lifetime stashed away in my kist, including a love note from my husband, typed on a typewriter on a phone message note about 25 years ago :-), and a wonderful letter from a stranger regarding my father’s death notice in the newspaper.

And a few years ago, I discovered the many letters and postcards I’d written to my youngest niece over the years after I emigrated adorned the inside of her cupboard doors – she’d kept them all. We both prize what people have taken the time to write with us in mind.

There is one letter, though, that really breaks my heart when I re-read it now. It’s from a boy who grew up in South Africa in the years just after Apartheid officially ended. His name is Freedom and, at the time that he wrote this letter, he was a child without very many worldly possessions at all, but he was loved, and was full of joy and hope. And, as his letter shows, he had a genuine appreciation for so very little. bb-lettersFreedom’s mum, widowed early in her marriage, worked beyond hard to give him a good education, and she had high hopes for his future. He is now a young man but, unfortunately, due to some nefarious influences and bad choices, his life isn’t turning out so well.

My 5 picks from this week’s photo challenge at The Daily Post:

Lena Maree

I think of my maternal grandmother,
(Chelsea buns, vetkoek, hugs to save the world)
passed some 30-odd years ago –
“Kari, Kari…”, her loving voice as I drift to sleep
and remember that stark day
she fell crossing the road
outside the Durban Museum

And I, five, thinking she was dead,

But she did not let go
of my hand, and smiled
in her usual, generous way
as strangers helped her to her feet.

Always the comforter of souls –
Sweet, wonderful Lena Maree.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Science of Nostalgia: It was first thought to be a “neurological disease of essentially demonic cause,” but it turns out that nostalgia is good for your brain. And there’s science to prove it.
More of this article in The New York Times

My beautiful pictureI took this (rather overexposed) photo of my nieces cooking dinner around 20 years ago when we all still lived on the African continent. We had given one of them a children’s cookbook for Christmas, and they invited us over for dinner—a three-course meal—which they cooked using recipes from the book. They were such sweet, funny munchkins – still are 😉

For more entries to this week’s photo challenge, see The Daily Post.

Weekend Prompt: Childhood Revisited


It wasn’t smells or tastes or dear old Patchy,
or Teddy or Polly or clothes that were scratchy,

but bright orange blossoms beaming out from my walls,
retro symbols of happiness from ceiling to floor –
my first bedroom’s wallpaper sticks like glue
in my mind to this day  (my sibling’s too
at the time they thought he had chronic colic
but, it seems, brother’s wall-art was making him sick –
all those racing-cars whizzing about his head
(he confessed, years later) made him dizzy in bed).

So my first memory – wallpaper, and subtropical heat,
and the tickles of mum’s kisses under my feet.


In response to the Daily Post’s Weekend Prompt: Childhood Revisited – What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

The Same By Any Other Name

Names of affection,
(Little Eddie, Sweet Baboo)

projection and deflection,
(Camille, Flame, Agapanthus)

colours and food,
(Pumpkin, Bean, Red, Blu)

some, unmentionably rude 😉


Prompted by this post at Go Jules Go

Surface Tension

Dying –
it’s a little like that back there
“Get a tan, man!” – the beastie boys jeer,
white-raged, she’s facing off fear

Out here, the limits are none
her swirling strands of red-yellow-gold, spun
into halos burning bright as the sun,

jewelled auras for silent incantation,
reposed in peaceful contemplation
of fancies, unbound by vituperation

underwater, she is as fish,
swims human stark antithesis,
becomes her Aphrodite wish


Updated for Sideview’s weekend theme of Beauty

A History of Fear


the dark, those monsters

under the bed, first day

at school – bruce m trying to kiss

you in the sandpit

and hell-to-pay for jumping in every puddle on your way home,

men in hearses and dark

glasses – stranger-danger,

not running solo, nor flying, but

an umbrella on the wind – cruel and unusual,

old man on the street corner –

feathered hat, immaculately

polished shoes, threadbare clothes,

a broken headlamp in the rear-view

and unspeakable things,

and then, you know, the death of a parent,

DNA gone awry,

that your actions caused this –


not of your own shadow but

rage, betrayals,

the sound

of your own screaming,

depravity of infant


spectres – Margaret Hassan, the Falling


Afghani children smashed

into dirt playgrounds,

the death of dreams, sadness

of others,

hearts beating through walls,

and then,

somehow, nothing




least of all



The smell of sawdust

takes me to a time

you’d send me to pick leaves for the silkworms

after your tools turned on you

(usually the ratchet screwdriver)

my young ears safe at the mulberry tree,

brother’s mosquito gang

wheelieing up the laneway

for a smoke and 50cc tune-up

with their favourite neighbourhood oldie,

night-scented gardenia

mixed with varnish,

crickets and

Erroll Garner

illuminating the nightwaves


Two friends, two lives

one, a garden variety drama,

the other,

a monstrous horror movie


unfolding slowly

picking off  joys one by one

like psychopathic forces of nature

stripping away

what should have been

for one so precious:

limbs like the wind, a planet-sized brain

that crazy infectious laughter


by the madness of grief and disbelief

I could no longer watch,

even through my fingers