South Africa

Song of Reminding Oneself – Bardo Song

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Here is an amazing song about the states of the Bardo, that I came across today, I just love it. It is about life and death. It reminds us to use everyday situations and experiences to improve and liberate our minds. I highly recommend the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

“Tibetan buddhism refers to the six Bardo’s as transitional states; the bardo of this lifetime, the bardo of dreaming, the bardo of meditation, the bardo of dying, the bardo of dharmata, and the bardo of becoming.” See VajraSound

This is also beautifully expressed at Levekunst where you can read the transcript of the audio.

Picture of spring flowers taken just outside of Porterville West Coast Cape Town September 2015.

A Lacto-Vegetarian’s Story About Chickens ~ A South African Tale

During a day of corporate training in Conflict Management, in a multi-cultural environment, we were discussing how cultural differences in diet can cause misunderstandings in the workplace, for example, many Hindus don’t eat meat and are vegetarian, or do not eat meat on certain days for religious reasons. See this Wikipedia link about Vegetarianism and Religion. We spoke a bit about diet and I mentioned that in my own workplace in the past, I had been something of an oddity. I am a Lacto-Vegetarian, meaning, the only animal products I eat are dairy. The group gasped, many saying: “what is left to eat?” Yes, this is a strong reaction common in a predominantly meat-eating culture. When asked why I restricted my diet in this way, I said that I wanted to minimize the suffering of animals through compassion and not eating them. Some said yes, they understood because they loved their pets.

I was very surprised, when one delegate stood up, an African male, who originally came from a small rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, said:

“I can understand this. I have chickens on my farm at home. When I want to eat chicken, I go to the store to buy one, I do not want to kill my own chickens.”

In this way, coming from a very patriarchal background, he was able to express his own love for his chickens, whom he had noticed had personalities and loved to scratch around in the sun. I loved that this made him think and that he was able to express himself like this in front of his colleagues.

Here is a wonderful link to a story about the “hensioners”, pensioners, who are helped with loneliness through their relationships with chickens. I love it!

Like “Sea Glass” One Recent Cold Morning

Reminds me of Heather Nova’s use of like “sea glass”, on a cold rainy morning, over the sea, vast, still, desolate. Here is the music to go with it – the wave came all the way from Africa “and all the things that I forgot that I could feel …all I want is to live as clear as sea glass”:

Photos of False Bay by Carol Knox one recent morning in April, 2015. View from my veranda.

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Daily Post | New Year’s Eve 2014 | Warmth

new years eve 2014

I would like to share the warm feeling I experienced when looking out over my new home area in Fish Hoek, in the Western Cape, South Africa. These were taken on New Year’s Eve. You can see the Christmas tree at the top of the road. Response to Daily Post: Warmth

Photo taken by Carol Knox

 

Cross Country Ramblings 1

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The tiny Suzuki Alto is crammed with clothing, birds in a cage and a rabbit in a pet carrier. K had been freaking out because she felt it couldn’t be done. The journey is about to begin. We get a late start. Climbing the hill towards Hilton’s verdant green, I begin to feel the relief of leaving Durban behind. Something seems to fall from my shoulders like a veil slipping from my face. I can see more clearly, feel more intensely, dream more bigly, and hope more fervently. I am leaving behind KwaZulu-Natal and going forward and toward the Western Cape, literally and figuratively. As we progress towards the Free State, the skies become more blue and seem to occupy the windshield space with a hugeness not known in KZN. This big sky blue and white take my breath away. There are fields that have been planted and harvested both left and right of my vision. They glitter gold in the late afternoon sun. The golden glitter of the fields of the Free State I will not easily not remember. As I walked on the beach in the Cape Southern Peninsula, I thought of this and felt the need to write down some parts of the journey that have brought me to this destination, by the sea, with the view, with the loveliness of pink late setting suns, of whipping winds and cold sea air.

Images Carol Knox. The beach I walk on, approach five minutes from where I live, the sand fine like talcum powder, large strands of kelp almost the size of an arm strewn across the beach, white, windy, a wildness not quite tamed.

An earlier post: The Felt Weight where the relief from the weight can be likened to the slipping of the veil.

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Spring and Self-Care

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Great two days of self-care: Yesterday a trip to the nursery with K to buy especially spring jasmine and to dig around in soil and pots. Today a hair cut and woolies treats, fresh seasonal fruit and a new offering: South African Sago pudding in a pot, reminds me of Ouma. Lovely reminders and seasonal scents. A pretty street, an awesome flower, my table getting overrun with plants, mostly rescues, my lily just about to flower.

 

Musical Marker – Sounds of Bon Iver

Musical Marker – Sounds of Bon Iver

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We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of the summer of 2014?

The tranquil tones of Bon Iver, just discovered. In fact the whole album, For Emma, Forever Ago (debut album). Thank you Amber for the introduction. Crooning and yearning, sad and beautiful sounds for my passage time…in Winter… in South Africa…

I love Flume

and Lump Sum:

Here is part of a review on Pitchfork – head on over there to read more and some background to the album:

“Vernon gives a soulful performance full of intuitive swells and fades, his phrasing and pronunciation making his voice as much a purely sonic instrument as his guitar. In the discursive coda of “Creature Fear” he whittles the song down to a single repeated syllable– “fa.” Rarely does folk– indie or otherwise– give so much over to ambience: Quivering guitar strings, mic’ed closely, lend opener “Flume” its eerily interiorized sound, which matches his unsettling similes. “Lump Sum” begins with a choir of Vernons echoing cavernously, which, along with that rhythmically rushing guitar, initiates the listener into the song’s strange space…”

Image of Vernon playing in London. Wikimedia Commons Share Alike

This got me wondering, what was I listening to in 1977? I came across a lovely Throwback Machine at Hazzaz. Do you remember Fleetwood Mac and You Can go your Own Way?

How about Roger Hodgson from SuperTramp, with Give a Little Bit?

The Eagles, Hotel California?

Check it out it’s fun.

What you Think becomes What and Who you Are

My Grandparents

My Grandparents

My grandparents, standing first and second on the right.

What you Think becomes What and Who you Are

ETutor: Early reflections on who I am 05/03/2014

These reflections form part of my eTutor training with the University of South Africa, (UNISA). I would like to record my journey here. The emphasis of the training is on forming communities of practice, where we can reflect in a safe environment, support and learn from one another. For many the online tutor environment is new.

Regarding my early reflections. I was mostly raised in my early years by my grandparents. My mother was a single mother with two children to support, so it was easier that I lived with my Grandparents. These two wonderful people influenced me in profound ways. They were deeply religious and belonged to the Nederlandse Gereformede Kerk – NG Kerk. They were warm people who accepted all. At the skirts of my grandmother I learnt respect for all. Sometimes we would travel by train to visit far flung family. Some of the family were farmers in the Karoo. The history of my grandparents is: they were sheep farmers, my grandmother was a farm school teacher. The depression came as well as a drought and they lost everything, They made their way to Durban with five small children to support. Times were very hard and they were very poor. My grandfather got a job in Customs at the Railways.

So each December we got a free rail pass, and used it to visit family. This was the first time I was exposed to not only racism but also cruelty. My grandfather’s brother treated his workers badly, swore at them and such. He was cruel to the animals, sheep and pigs, with some horses and cows, also a large black dog. From what I remember I was around 12. It left deep wounds in my being, since I had never before encountered such things. I learnt that racism is taught, it does not come naturally, as is cruelty taught. I became a vegetarian after witnessing the slaughter of a sheep. It was gruesome and horrific and has continued to give me nightmares.

These experiences deeply shaped who I have become. My children were raised without prejudice towards others and they were never aware of differences based on population group, gender, background. They never even described their friends in these terms. Again it affirms for me the importance and power of teaching and providing a living example – on how one develops.

With these formative influences I have come to see how easily people are defined by population group and other group formations. In the workplace I have even been told that I mustn’t think I am privileged because of the colour of my skin. Prejudice is easy. Standing against it is not so easy. At university my youngest daughter sees people sitting together in population groups and it pains her. However, she is lucky enough to be deeply involved in debating, where the mix and balance is more comfortable for her. They accept one another for the commonalities that they share.

Therefore, I am deeply sensitive to the issue of respect for one another. When I did corporate training I was fortunate to train members of the Department of Labour. We were doing Conflict Management and we were talking about difference and how this can lead to misunderstanding. I shared that I was a lacto-vegetarian and how this sets me apart maybe more than anything else. I related my story of what happened when I was a child. Most delegates could not understand my choice, they worried about what was left to eat. It was amazing when one delegate stood up and said: “I can understand this. I have chickens at home. I do not want to kill my own chickens, I am fond of them. I would rather go to the store to buy one there.”  Then everyone had an example that they could relate to.

For me, I work from the premise that we all have more in common than we are different. I view difference as interesting and something to learn more about. I think we all have to watch what we think, because that becomes what you speak and that becomes what and who you are.

Image courtesy of Carol  Knox.

Climate Control | How About Me? An African Violet not a Daisy

Climate Control | How About Me? An African Violet not a Daisy

The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?

Why do I say I am an African Violet and not a Daisy? Well, from experience of travel and living in my home country, I have realised that I need the ‘right’ conditions to thrive, just like an African Violet, which I have never been able to grow, they are just too sensitive. I am physically somewhat fragile.

Traveling in India, I became violently ill on three different occasions over a three-week period. There seems to occur a kind of violent physical travail of some kind, for anyone going on a quest or seeking (spiritual) journey. A kind of leveling or karmic cleansing.

Traveling and living in Thailand, I was plagued by skin ailments which I shouldn’t have had, for example, Chicken Pox, which I had already had, apparently the chances of getting it twice are slim. Rashes of strange kinds appeared and a thing called Prickly Heat. I thought I was losing my mind. I felt as though things were crawling over my skin and scalp, like tiny microscopic bugs, the horror of nightmare imaginings. I contemplated, yes my mind had gone, like the stories of falang (foreigners), who had lost their minds and perpetually wonder Khaosan Road, or the French guy I met who had sold his passport in desperation for Baht, now stuck, wandering round and round.

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I succumbed to bronchitis, food poisoning several times and even ended up in hospital because of my ability to be poisoned. I was visited by Gastroenteritis so many times, it became like a familiar friend.

So, coming from an African Tropical Climate, the above visitations were rather shocking, given that I thought I would be somewhat immune. Not so, viruses and bacteria thrived and colonised wherever I traveled.

Even at home, I really suffer when it is too hot during December, January and February. Autumn and Winter are my best times. So I function optimally it seems during those times, when I am less flustered, less agitated and more calm. Yes, climate does affect me, put me in the right spot on the window sill, with the right nourishment and care and I will thrive. Even though life seldom offers the right conditions, the trick is to manage and balance the in-between, staying in the moment by moment. I work on this day by day.

Image Wikiepedia Gnu Attribution Image by Mr Bullitt 2005

 

DAILY POST | MEMORY ON THE MENU | Quintessence of Taste

Daily Prompt Writing Task: Which good memories are better — the recent and vivid ones, or those that time has covered in a sweet haze?

Gourmet Delights | Quintessence of Taste

The Koeksister: Sweet, divine and twisted, oozing drippiness delight, guaranteed to create a haze of sweetness | Walking on a balmy day, smiling, almost skipping, picking mulberries along the Dusi, flowing skirts, long hair, the sweet purpley twistedness staining our mouths and baskets.
Image below and recipe link from Justeasyrecipies.

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The Sago Pudding: Hazy warmth and hugs, boerekos from the kitchen that couldn’t turn around | Tiny plump loving pouring forth from Ouma’s long past days.
Sago Pudding image and recipe from MyCookBook South Africa.

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The Pickled Onion: Sharp sourness, guaranteed to create involuntary face contortions as the cheeks suck in | Sharp, now, unlikliness of encounter created, unfolded by the dream and firefly sight.

Not either or, but AND…

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2014Leave a comment Edit

Game of Groans | A South African Braai by any Other Name

Daily prompt: Game of Groans The South African Braai, a National Pastime. By any other name would be just as gruesome. But rock up Bru we gonna have a jol.

Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.

It’s Heritage Day. All the women are talking about what they will wear and what they will bring to eat. There is a distinct twittering in the air. The men are grumbling. I am inwardly groaning about the thought of the braai topic, (a South African barbecue), which I knew would come up. My stomach turned because I knew everyone wanted a spit-braai and I already felt the sour taste of nausea at the back of my throat. Get real, we are living in the 21st Century, we are not Cro Magnon men and women, we don’t even have the teeth to tear hunks of meat off chunks of broken bone. I knew the sight of an animal turning on a spit, together with the sickly slightly sweet smell, would be too much for me. I can tolerate a chop chucked on a grill, but an actual whole animal, now that is just too gruesome and to my mind barbaric. In any event what would I wear, I certainly did not want to wear the garb of the Colonialist from back in the day? I settle on the “doek” headdress and outfit of the Xhosa. I look like a cross between Little Bo Peep and Mary had a Little Lamb, an angelic expression and nun like clasped hands. We all looked a bit idiotic, check out the gangster on the right.

Heritage Day at Work

To now turn onto the flip side:

“Rock up Bru we gonna have a jol. Kif spit-braai and all you can drink ‘n all.”

It will be so cool. All the women will huddle over the food, cooked from recipes given them from their gogos, ma’s, grandmothers and oumas, in real South African style. The men will commandeer the fire, tending to their hunt, back slapping, drinking and laughing, squinting teary eyed at one another through the smoke. This is fun, fun, fun. You know mos, we have sunny skies and Chevrolet.

Image courtesy of Carol Knox.

Here is an old radio ad about: braaivleis, (barbecue meat), sunny skies and Chevrolet from the 1970’s: