Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sugar and Spice

Memories of travels in our new solarium
Mindblowingly Awesome!  We watched a movie recommended by a friend last week - Searching for Sugarman.  The unbelievable true story of a rock legend who never knew he was!  It resonated so deeply within me and my husband that we were nearly sobbing in the boutique cinema (luckily - only about 8 other viewers in the audience!).  I rummaged in my bag for a tissue but as I had bought a treat of Maltesers tucked away in my bag, the rustle seemed to draw way too much attention and so I gave that up as a bad job and used my sleeve instead!

Sugarman is the story of Sixto Rodriguez (simply known as Rodriguez) and as legend would have it, his first album flopped majestically in the States but a copy found it's way to South Africa, where the music was shared and copied until some record companies picked up on it and started to print records.  The music reached cult status and when, some 3 decades later, 3 South Africans decided to trace Rodriguez to find out what had become of him, they found him still living in a state of semi-poverty in Detroit, totally unaware of his cult status back in South Africa.  This is the music I grew up with - while my husband was partying to the music as a teenager, my own teenage sisters, brother and father were all playing his music and it's in my DNA.  Although the lyrics are mostly about drugs, I knew them off by heart from the age of 8 or 9.  So when the doco covers his return to South Africa thirty years later, with his 3 adult daughters, it portrays a humble man who is overwhelmed by the hero-worship of old and young South Africans, this is where the growing lump in the base of my throat burst and I could no longer contain the fountain of emotion!  Like Tongariro erupting, the emotions all spilled over - and poured out from my eyes and nose!  And it wasn't helped by the sniffs and snuffles coming from my husband's quarters..... I knew I could not look at him for fear of really sobbing deeply and embarrassingly loudly!

It was an epic movie for us, reconnecting us with our roots, taking us back on a journey from whence we began.  I thought for days of how unfair Rodriguez's life had been - if only the royalties from South African record sales had gotten to him, how it would have changed their impoverished lives.  Made life a little more easy and more comfortable.  This amazingly talented musician lived out the ensuing 3 decades doing demolition work and hard labour!  How must he have thought in the wee small hours of how things could have been different, if only......?

A garden sculpture spoon gifted to me
And of course, the movie reconnected me with who I am, was and will become.  The things that shape our lives.  Memories from the past.  I got to thinking how I am who I am because of so many things.  The family I was born into.  From my mother I got the love of growing things and sewing things.  Of making do with not much at all.  From my father I got the principles of loyalty, humility, right from wrong and love of music.  From my grandmother I inherited the love of cooking and words.  She used to listen to the radio, with a pencil and pad of paper next to her bed.  When she heard the announcers say a word she didn't know, she would write it down and then look it up in the dictionary afterwards. Totally discombobulating!  She collected words like people collect shells!  And she always won at Scrabble!  From my step-father (German know-how-can-do) I developed an ability to make things - to figure out how to fix or create something out of wood or bits and pieces lying around.  From my step-mother, I got the love of animals and sense of humour.  And from being in a big family, I probably learned to be so much of who I have become.  From my closest sister, I learned compassion and caring.  From my husband, I learned to fight!  As a timid newly-wed, he would coax me to speak my mind and he probably regrets that as I now never stop!

From my children, I have learned patience, the capacity to love completely, to recongnise the best and worst in myself and  how to give of myself when I have thought there was nothing left to give.  I also learned from them early on, that I could survive on very, very little sleep!  I learned resilience.  From living under an Apartheid regime, I learned about the ugly side of human nature.  I also learned to value living in a society that is tolerant and peaceful, one that values human life.  And from my kindergarten children I work with, I have learned to laugh, to see the funny side of things, to view things differently and not take everything seriously.  They have taught me that when I have thought I knew every kind of response and behaviour, there is always something more to discover.  They teach me to stay in touch with the magnificence of life - small discoveries become laden with a sense of awe and wonderment.  They teach me to stop and look and listen. To slow down.  Not to jump to conclusions too fast.  They teach me to feel the joy of living and being alive, of discovery and invention.  Young children ask a lot of questions but when you realize you don't need to "fill the empty vessel with knowledge" and you deflect the question back to them, they amaze you with their own ideas of how the world works.  Pure genius!
A scent-heady bee seeking nectar
And of course, our journey into ever-increasing sustainability teaches me so much!  Like the saying that almost has become our motto: "Be careful of what you desire, you might just get it and then question if you really needed it in the first place!"  There is a price for everything!!  Sometimes a monetary cost - but often we don't factor in the other actual cost.  Our whole solar panel energy system journey has been an epic one. There have been times my husband and I have fought about it - the financial outlay, whether or not we were doing the right thing, whether NZ solar industry is mature enough and not still on the learning curve, whether or not we were adding another headache to our maintenance regime etc.  Then the building of the solarium was completed after hiccups with every tradesman that entered the property!  For them it's a job - they get to walk away.  We LIVE it!  So all the little compromises and less-than-perfect finishes we get to live with and look at every day!  Then in come the solar panel guys, and they say they will come on a day but don't.  Then they come and realise the weather is inclement and they can't work on the roof so they leave without any great volume of work being achieved.  Then it drags on to week 2, bits of wires dangle on walls and out of the roof.  Then one day they come to set up the panel tracks and when they leave we discover they have left great big globs of black all over the roof, from the bitumen roof seal they have walked on.  They say they will be careful next time but today when I looked out of our dormer window, my heart sank - my once clear view of the garden is now impeded by the elevated row of solar panels on tracks to raise them to a 45degree pitch, so we look at the underbelly of the panels!  And the black globby marks are now everywhere - including 3 large dents in the new roof of the solarium where the solar guys have stood on the ridges.  
Kilos of lemons

Lemon Syrup

There is always a price to pay!  I just hope the price we are paying for this energy generating project is going to pay itself back and not become just another pain-in-the-poof money-draining experiment!  My husband is much more positive than me about it all and very philosophical.  He says in order to improve our way of living sustainably, we have to make some sacrifices that will benefit us in the long run.  I certainly hope he has the last laugh!!

And back to the garden, I harvested two big bunches of rhubarb today - the first of the season!  Still getting a small handful of asparagus every 3rd or 4th day to supplement the leek infestation!  Had a lovely stir-fry with leeks tonight, in a marinade sauce.  Also opened up my first bottle of 3 month-old home-made spicey Dijon mustard (not really my thang, mustard!) to peals of delight from the household.  All were yumming away whilst trying out the mustard on rice crackers so I think I'm onto a good thing there!  Maybe I'll develop a taste for it.......
Detailed inserts in the new concrete step

A sand koru experiment - it worked!

Playing around with glass inserts

Small bits of tiles break the monotony of concrete edging
I did have fun with the concrete pathway and mowing edges that were laid, although I was a bit late home from work to do too much as the concrete had already been laid and was starting to set in the heat of the afternoon sun.  I managed to put enough pieces in to create a sense of fun!  The concrete man was most amused!  I excused it all as being a kindergarten teacher - nothing in life is taken too seriously!!  And even if nothing is set in stone, it sure can be in concrete!

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