misty memories: snapshots from a funeral

There’s a haze over Cape Town like a 25% white soft light photoshop fill as I’m headed out of town (unbeknownst to me, a volcano in Chile has coughed up part of it’s lungs into the universe like a butterfly flapping it’s wings…). I’m on my way to Franschhoek for a funeral and I’m not sure how I feel.

The car I’m driving is borrowed from my very first boyfriend. I like to say I chose well. We’re in relationships with other people, but eons later we still love each other and always will have each other’s backs. I remember my grandmother’s funeral shortly after we met, when he, effete German, braved the unknown of a Cape Flats/Franschhoek family and tramped through grave-yard mud with me as I cried hysterically for the woman who used to be the person I loved most in this world. I can’t help but take a trip down many miles of memories as I drive towards another goodbye, even if merely symbolic.

Lining the roads, the trees wear their best brocade. Russets and reds and ambers. Rich, varied textures in which to pay their respects. The wine farms of the valley race toward, then fall away one by one: Graham beck, La Motte, La Provence. The latter two are beacons from my long-ago childhood. The basin of blue mountains curve familiar, yet strange.

Pic by Andy Shader

Against the slopes the Franschhoek sign is barely visible and in need of a good coat of white-wash. How ironic that when I walked barefoot down these icy gutters (my choice – I didn’t want to stand out against everyone else who didn’t have that choice) I never imagined I would one day live in another city on the other side of the world, also famous for it’s white letters against a hill.

When I arrive I find my mom (who has a fractured wrist she conveniently forgot to mention!) scurrying between my aunt and my uncle’s neighboring houses, making last minute arrangements. When I see my aunt I’m scared by how frail and shrunken and ancient she looks. I’m scared i might be booking more funeral flights in the not too distant future.

I’m overwhelmed by all the people, extended, distant family whose faces I recognize, but whose names eternally escape me.  The house is buzzing with the busyness of funeral prep, food, flowers. Mundane yet crucial questions like, “Is there enough toilet paper ?”

One of my cousins is looking for her lipstick. She says she needs to write on her lips, which doesn’t sound quite as descriptive as her actual words and tone of voice in Afrikaans, “Ek moet op my lippe skryf!” I’m reminded of the inimitable sense of humor that runs through the inevitable tragedies of my family.

Silence descends on the house as everyone leaves for the service next door. I take a deep breath and jot down some thoughts before I join them.

Last time I saw my uncle we sat around a Xmas dinner and he talked about the family history. How our clan is made up of a mix of Mozambicans and people from Malabar, off the coast of India, various European explorers,  with a huge dollop of Khoi San and Xhosa and whoever else was to be found wandering these rich hills and southern shores. I meant to get a video-camera and get an oral history record of what he remembers. Remembered. Now it’s too late. Time steamrollers everything with not a shred of sentimentality under its steel wheels.

At the church I’m once more overwhelmed by memories. It looks almost exactly the same as when I practiced my piano lessons in here as a 9 yr old (a concession made because we did not own a piano). I wish now that I’d continued those piano lessons. I have a life-long regret that I gave up music because of the dirty-old-man-piano-teacher who tried to feel me up (one of the countless predators I’ve had to deal with in my life). Another thing which I now realize I allowed to be taken from me.

The service goes on and on. I realize that just about everyone in the packed church is somehow related. Cousins, second-cousins, nephews, second-second cousins twice removed… Everyone seems to be made from 1 of 3 or 4  basic templates and you can see that so and so is related to auntie so and so and that one looks like uncle whatsisname… There’s a singer with a lovely voice, accompanied by a man on a concertina. It’s bizarre. I’ve been asked to read the thanks and can barely get through it. I who was never able to cry, now seem to be capable of deluges.

We push the coffin in which my uncle’s body lies cold, a mere avatar for someone no longer here, out of the church. The white hearse lurches out of the churchyard and with it, that empty shell, too, is gone. Off to the crematorium. An obvious choice for someone like me, I’m surprised that it was his…

At the hall where people have been invited for refreshments, the (mostly enormous) women of the family are bustling,  feeding everyone, amazingly nimble with their amazonian breasts and thighs and hips. There are probably 5 generations present, toddlers, to great-grandmothers. Cups of soup on trays fly out of the kitchen, followed by the ubiquitous chicken curry and rice and plates of samoosas and savories.  People eat and then just as fast, the hall empties and in the kitchen it’s a mess of dirty dishes and sorting of which empty pot belongs to whom. A typical “colored” funeral.

When I’m done with my stint in the kitchen, out in the street I join the cousins from far off places who have been pulled back together by the gravitational force of this death. We congregate on the open tailgate of a car and I smile to see my teenaged niece nestled in the crook of my mountainous brother’s arm. It’s nice to see them both smiling.

It’s nice to see my brother – we have  probably spent no more than 1 day together over the last 15 yrs, if you add up the hours. Not my choice.

My brother is basking in the testosterone of “hanging with the boys. I love seeing him this relaxed.

I see the empty beer-bottles in the trunk and say, “Organize vir my…” and the boys scurry off  and find me a cider. Slowly everyone disperses. The older crowd washes up at my aunt’s house and before the younger guys float off with an ice chest to go and hold an old-fashioned post-funeral wake, we stand around in the street and shoot the sh*t and laugh at each other’s stories. It’s good to see everyone together. Uncle Willie would have approved.

Long before I even thought of becoming an actress, my uncle was the rockstar of the family. He even went by a single moniker. Uncle. That was it. He was the “crown prince” of the family and he was a rapscallion. The 6 children he sired are proof of the fact that women loved him! He always seemed to have an impish smile on his face that said, “I know something that you’re dying to find out!”.  As a family member read in the eulogy, he was not a perfect man… In fact, in many ways he was deeply flawed, but swaggering in his 10-gallon hats like an outlaw from the westerns he loved, he lived! And he lived most of all, for  fishing at his favorite Hentie’s bay. I have fond memories of trips to Namibia to spend salty holidays by the sea. He was gruff, rough and funny and educated, lived to educate in his role as teacher and was one of those people who was always the focus of any crowd. He always had  an enthralled audience and a great story and I guess it’s a good gauge of his life that he had so many of them to tell.

For all his flaws, I guess love, the fact that he loved and was loved, is what made him perfect..

RIP Uncle.

I’m sure he’s regaling everyone with a fabulously fishy tale wherever he is right about now.

Willem Johannes Davids 1935 - 2011

bust a move!

a life-time of ballet, dancing, gymning, cardio-kick-boxing, hooping, cycling, hiking and just generally being active and taking my body for granted , seems to have finally caught up with me.

i’ve spent most of the last two months sitting, thinking that taking a rest-cure would help heal my incredibly painful back and knee. not so much. the only thing that happened is that my lard-ass grew even lardier. and at my age, let me tell you, once you gain weight  it’s like a damn leech – it just does not want to let go.

i finally took to twitter looking for a chiropractor to see if that would sort me out. amazingly, 3 (incredibly painful) sessions later, after some dry-needling (yup, i once again was getting jabbed), some electrical stimulation and some major chiropractic adjustments, i’m moving again.

i even have a new personal trainer who miraculously made her appearance out of n0-where. she comes to my house, she adjusts her schedule to suit me and we’re taking things really easy. ok, so i have yet to go and see a physio about my knee, but for now i’m sticking my head in the sand where that’s concerned. i’m just so glad to get up off my saartjie baartman butt and get moving again.

hallelujah!

pill-popping…

much as this is something women, especially women of a *certain age*, don’t like to talk about, here goes.

around november last year i started getting the first signs of peri-menopause; that series of symptoms that lets you know you are nearing the point where to everybody else, you will be, officially ancient. the old crone. :/

i started waking up in pools of sweat, the pillow soaked, rivulets running down my body. or i’d be standing on set, getting ready for a scene and suddenly i would feel myself glowing, beads of moisture forming along my hair-line, grabbing a script with which to fan myself before the make-up artist would have to come running with her powder.

this would never do.

went to see my doctor and she prescribed a low-dose pill, mirelle, which she said ought to tide me through these symptoms.

started the pack at the beginning of december. by as early as a few weeks later, i started feeling the first signs of a low-grade depression. couldn’t tell if it was the pill or just me. couldn’t tell if it was getting worse or not, but by new year, i was in a miserable state, dark clouds following me everywhere and 10 days into the second pack, on my birthday, a few days ago, i was ready to jump off a bridge. for days it had felt like i was in a plummeting  elevator, heading straight for a spectacular crash in the basement. i started wondering if it wasn’t time to start taking a happy pill.

i realized it was time to call my doctor and just check whether it was possible for the contraceptive pill to be making me feel so miserable.

apparently it absolutely is! i’m one of those few women who cannot handle even that low dose of hormones. she advocated that i stop immediately and said that depression is one of the main reasons for women to go off the pill.

anyway, it’s 2 days later and i already feel a million times better. i guess i feel relief just being able to pinpoint a reason why i was feeling to inexplicably, uncontrollably depressed.

so, looks like pollyanna might be on her way back. she might still have to take public transport to get here, but she’s on her way, that’s for sure and i, for one, will be very glad to see her! 🙂

method to the madness…

those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, might have heard me mention the master cleanse.

it’s a 10 day lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup cleanse. yes, you drink only that concoction and water for 10 days. no, you do not eat any solid food. i’ve done it about 3 times for the full 10 days and a few more times for just a few days at a time. i thought it was fantastic when i first tried it, but i wouldn’t recommend it anymore because like any fast weight-loss program, unless you change your eating habits permanently, the weight will boomerang.

and i’m living proof.

ironically, when i finished survivor at the end of last year, i immediately employed a trainer because i didn’t want that extreme weight loss to come back triple fold. well, the irony was that i worked out harder than i ever have in my life, and got so much stronger, but i simply kept getting bigger and heavier. yes, a large part of it had to do with muscle, but also with the fact that i didn’t/couldn’t/refused to control my calorie intake.

so, much to my trainer’s annoyance, and mine, it was all in vain.

anyway, the point is that i have over the year slowly gotten so heavy that i got to weigh more than i ever have. the other thing is that i am currently filming a major story line during which my character, if she were me, would most certainly lose a fair amount of weight in a short time (even if only from the amount of crying she does!) and seeing that she’s using my body, i thought i should go method. you know, like when adrian brodie lost all that weight for “the pianist”, or robert de niro gained so much for ” raging bull”. or daniel day lewis insisted on being rolled around in a wheel-chair when he acted in “my left foot”.

so, much as i wouldn’t recommend it, today, monday, i started doing the master cleanse. i had a pre-cleanse day with only fruit, juice and salad yesterday and ironically the director this morning commented that it already looked like i’d lost weight.

anyway, i’ll keep you up to date on how it goes over the next while. i’m hoping that i’ll be able to make some kind of permanent change because i really need to. i feel like if i don’t change things now, i’m destined to be unfit and flabby for the rest of my life after being pretty fit for the first half, and beside the fact that a large part of my quite fabulous wardrobe no longer fits, that is just not an option.

LEMON DRINK for Master Cleanse

You’ll need:

2 TBsp lemon or lime juice (approx. 1/2 lemon)
2 TBsp genuine organic maple syrup, Grade B (the darker the better)
1/10 Tsp cayenne pepper, gradually increase (the more BTUs the better)
10-14 oz pure water

Combine juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper with water. Drink every 1 to 2 hours. Take no other food, but do drink lots of water in between lemonade drinks. *my modification is that i added psyllium husks to mine to add some roughage, but by day 5 i’d had enough*

Use fresh lemons or limes only, never canned or frozen lemon juice. Use organic and vine ripened when possible. Also, Mix your lemonade fresh just before drinking. Don’t mix it up in the morning for the whole day. You can, however, squeeze your lemons in the morning and measure out the 2 Tbls when needed.

Burroughs recommends a minimum of 10 days on this. You can do 40 days safely and more.

YL Clinic says you can use Agave instead of the maple syrup. Tom Woloshyn (who studied with Stanley Burroughs himself) disagrees. Clinic says if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, use molasses. If you feel weak or have a sugar imbalance you can add a scoop of Power Meal. Or you can try Master Amino Acid Profile (MAP) for protein without any residuals or strain on the body more info here: http:/www.weightlossessentials.com/aminoacid.html

NOTE: Be sure to drink plenty of purified water in addition to the lemon juice.

GOING OFF LEMONADE FAST

First Day: Start with 4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice mixed with 4 oz. water. If it goes well, drink several more 8 oz. glasses of fresh orange juice during the day. Sip slowly. Dilute with water if needed.

Second Day: Drink several 8 oz. glasses of orange juice during the day — with extra water, if needed.

In the evening make a vegetable broth (no canned soup). Use seasonal leafy and root vegetables such as: beets and beet tops, turnips and turnip greens, kale, carrots, onions, parsley, celery, potatoes, okra, one or two kinds of legumes, squash, beans, a little salt, cayenne pepper and dehydrated vegetables or veg. powder may be added for flavor (no MSG or hydrolyzed protein).

Cook lightly. Drink the broth, eating only a few bites of the vegetables.

Third Day: Orange juice in the morning. At noon have some more soup with some of the vegetables. No meat, fish, eggs, bread, pastries, tea, milk, or coffee. For Dinner, have the vegetables in the soup.

Fourth Day: Orange juice or lemon and maple syrup in the morning. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts for lunch. Salad or fruit for dinner.

Fifth Day: Eat normally but no junk food, dairy, tea, coffee, white flour or white rice, heavy animal proteins. If, after eating is resumed, distress or gas occurs, go back to the lemonade diet for a few days until the system is ready for food.

—————————————————-
SALT WATER FLUSH:

Start each morning with 1 quart of water and 2 tsp. sea salt (NOT iodized salt). Mix well and chug down.

out of the box…

we moved to the new studio at the beginning of this year and one of the other actors discovered a boxing gym less than 1km down the road. he was so enthusiastic that he managed to rope in a number of people to check it out with him. having done lots of tae-bo and taught a version of it when i lived in l.a., i was keen to give it a bash, so to speak, but seeing that i had employed a trainer the day after i got back from doing survivor, i never got there. it took me about 9 months to realize that serious weight-lifting, combined with a recent penchant for apple-ciders, didn’t give me the body i wanted (let’s be content with a little bit of understatement here and leave it at that), so i decided i’d head over to the boxing gym.

2 kicking-my-butt-sideways-into-infinity-sessions later, i got sick with the dreadful flu that felled everyone and spent the next month dying – or at least feeling like i was. i could barely walk 3 steps without doing a serious imitation of the wolf desperate for some other white meat on the dinner menu! huff. puff! finally, last week, i was well enough to (reluctantly) make it back to the industrial building on maria rd, climb the stairs to the 3rd floor and once again, get tangled up in the skipping rope which seems to be my arch nemesis. there’s a timer that goes off and you’re supposed to skip for 4 minutes. hah! 10 seconds in the cramping in the calves start. all kinds of bits bob and jiggle and depending on the time of month, and if you’re me, you wish you could take your hands off the skipping rope handles and cradle your seriously swollen, sore mammaries instead.  i probably manage one minute of skipping before i start flagellating myself. 1 minute out of 4 – all of 25%!

i look around the room where the swish of the rope slices the air as a nimble-footed young adonis blithely reminds me that i never appreciated the many feats my 20 yr younger body was capable of. i just wish i’d discovered my athleticism earlier. if there’d been any kind of track and field program at our schools when i was a learner, i might have been a good track athlete. i remember running the 800m with hardly any training at one of our sports days when i was about 12 and not doing badly, but there was no athletic program.

anyway, good thing one of my mantras is, “it’s never too late”.

despite being distracted by the swish of rope and thwap of gloves on body-bags, i spy on the other side of the ring in the centre of the room: a treadmill. hallelujah! i can do a treadmill! this morning i get on the treadmill which at this hour, is directly in the path of a gloriously rising, and hot, sun. 2 minutes in i, who hardly ever sweat, am  short of breath and schwitzing! i am so tempted to quit, but from my running days a few years ago, i remember this little trick: fake yourself out! fake it till you make it.  i tell myself that i only have to do this for 5 minutes. then at 5 minutes, it’s, “you’ve got this far, just do 8,”. then it’s 10 and so forth. i guess it didn’t help that a few minutes in, the guy who runs the place came and shoved 2 weights in my hands. while i was only just barely dealing with running!

anyway, i’ll cut short the whine and just say, i did it! it’s amazing how one can push one’s limits – however minutely – when you use mindpower. i’m hoping that no injury or illness or my schedule gets in the way of my fitness aspirations.

i’ll have nun o’ that!

last weekend was our friend willem’s “nuns, nymphos and naughty boys”-themed birthday party and i had no idea what i was going to wear, especially seeing that costuming was in no way optional. after a few aborted attempts, i eventually came up with the following outfit: a nympho with a habit. nuns. habits. geddit?

nympho with a habit 😉

note the condoms stuck in the garter and the mirror and baggie of white powder attached to my belt (nobody need know that it’s only bicarb!) nun – habit, baggie- habit. geddit? and on my head, just in case you missed it, are my special “i’m a horny little devil” horns.

those are very special horns, works of art made by the dad of a friend i met at burning man last year. and all the more special because they were given to me as a gift by a very special friend who i was introducing to burning man for the first time. and someone at the birthday party (which was awesome by the way, and worthy of  a few days’ recovery) picked them up from where i left them beside the fire, and even after i said that they were mine and very special, took off with them. note, i’m not saying they stole them, but they did leave the party with my property. i still shake my head in disbelief, though i’m still hopeful that the birthday boy will be able to retrieve them for me.

anyway, the party was a blast – so much so that i was still recovering by the time i went back to work monday morning, but it was worth it. bar nun! =)

the time of my life…

what a time i had – my birthday in pictures…

06h30 - happy birthday to me!

06h45 desire

this is what i see most mornings. the bf brings me coffee, sits down on the side of the bed and zee takes up her position, at his feet, staring longingly as he dips his rusk in his coffee.

11h30 survivors

coffee with some island gals.

15h00 13th floor

funny how some buildings don’t have a 13th floor. no superstition in this one though, which is where the factory that produces my dresses is located.

(i stole most of  this post from my photo-blog, seeing that i’ve been neglecting this one this week)