The Bumper Halloween, Angelina Jolie, and Bushveld Rubbish Days

I have been prancing about the street (and elsewhere) like a loon as per usual but I have been distracted by a few work deadlines so I only posted the pics to my Facebook page for my nearest and dearest. Never fear though, we now have the bumper Rubbish Day for the blog.

It starts with our trip to the bush, where they encourage recycling by making you use see-through bin bags. If I look a little jumpy in the photos, it is because we had just seen a rather beautiful, rather large male leopard about 500 metres from the riverbed in which I stand. The francolins (or spur fowl as we are now to call them according to the ever-ready-for-change nomenclurists) were making a terrible racket in the grass and much of my energy was focused on not dying with a bin bag full of tins in my hand in the middle of nowhere.

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Upon our return from the bush, Mrs Young suggested an Angelina Jolie shoot was in order. My brood was at school, so the dolls stood in for them while I pouted up a storm as Mrs Smith.

Warning: severe duck face shots and the worst background-removal photo edit in the history of Rubbish Day follow

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From Mrs Smith last week to Mrs Frankenstein this one. 23Thorns and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary this month, so I hauled out my wedding dress and got 23 to wrap my arms in bandages before trying to move in the street like a reanimated corpse. I’m not sure I was entirely convincing as Bride of Frankenstein but it was great fun to wear a train on tar at 8 in the morning.

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Happy Halloween to all.

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‘I promised you a rose garden’ Rubbish Day

It has been a bit of a week. A work deadline came and went. There was much celebration with much wine. The small people are on school holidays again. There was much wine.

I feel these days that the time between holidays is so fast. The small people are becoming big people too fast. Winter turns to spring turns to summer too fast. Perhaps spending all day looking at huge periods of time, looking at people coming and going over periods of hundreds of years, makes a month seem like a whoosh! and a ‘where did that go?’. And I could spend some time musing over the flowers that my charming husband bought me now having withered and died. Fleeting beauty and all that.

Or, I could put on a pair of floral trews, a floral jacket, floral shoes, and even the floral knickers; I could recruit myself a little flower fairy and cause a ruckus in the street on the Sunday prior to Rubbish Day Monday. Today was especially raucous. One neighbour came to visit en route to another neighbour’s house with another neighbour’s dog. Our Charlie dog was fairly interested, as was Beatrice Bloodhound. We made a scene but if ever you make a scene, do it as a rose garden I always say.

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Dancing to the Belle Epoque Rubbish Day

I adore the early modern dancers of the Belle Epoque, Loie Fuller twirling with so many yards of fabric. I love looking at any photographs of the thoroughly beautiful Isadora Duncan. Swirly twirly Rodin sketches made flesh.

“Let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”

~ Isadora Duncan

In looking through old images of dancers on Friday, I came across this photograph and immediately thought it just the sort of a dance I could do with the bin.

DANCERS

The neighbours working in their gardens braced for more dancing impact. My arms were spread wide. There was leaping. There was a little bounding.

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Mary Poppins Rubbish Day

Thank you to the completely delightful 23Thorns for nominating me for the blog hop. I will attend to an appropriate response soon. Today though, I have a kite to fly. I’m going to send it soaring, up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear etc.

The beautiful girl-child was a suffragette in her nursery school’s end of year production of Mary Poppins last night. “Votes for woman! We will not be held down by men! We deserve our freedom!”, she shouted while marching across the stage militantly. My heart could have popped with the pride of it.

I have ever been fond of a musical, much to 23’s horror – he has still not seen The Sound of Music! – and I am especially fond of wonderfully peculiar Mary Poppins. Since last night I have been belting out my favourite numbers at full volume while strutting about the place. There was no choice really in terms of who to be for Rubbish Day.

Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary
Mary makes your heart so light
You haven’t changed a bit, have you?

When the day is gray and ordinary
Mary makes the sun shine bright
Oh, honestly

Oh, happiness is bloomin’ all around her
The daffodils are smilin’ at the dove
When Mary holds your hand you feel so grand
Your heart starts beatin’ like a big brass band
You are lightheaded

It’s a jolly holiday with Mary
No wonder that it’s Mary that we love

Have a wonderful week everybody. I am going to try to be here more regularly again. Since the change of rubbish day from Wednesday to Monday and sometimes Tuesday it has been difficult to keep up. As 23 pointed out in his blog too, I have been obsessing about wars again. I have decided today though that a-lot-of-war-writing time is the perfect time for a spoonful of sugar or two. It does help the medicine go down.

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Little Sparrow Rubbish Day

Edith Piaf was 1.47m tall. That’s 4ft9-ish. She was really exceptionally tiny. When she died of liver cancer at the age of 47, her last words – “Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.” – were probably not very much in the spirit of ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’.

But today is Little Sparrow day. It is indomitable tiny person with huge voice day. It is don’t regret the bad things day, or the good. It is all of these things because I bought caged bird earrings, and then I needed bird shoes to match, and then in walking around the shops for the first time in a week because I was without wheels pending an expensive clutch replacement, I noticed quite how dreary winter is. Black shoes. Brown shoes. Beige coats. Grey scarves. In defiance of beige, I have taken to the skies. I am a bird. With goosebumps and shivers and vertigo. I’m more of a carnival bird than a little sparrow and I’m 17ft tall on the dustbin. But what is lacking in accuracy and grace is made up for in enthusiasm and colour-clashing of epic proportion.

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Deeliteful Rubbish Day

After a rather lengthy absence due in part to the fact that the council moved our rubbish collection day to Monday (who has time to be a lunatic on a Monday morning?), I am back with another special request Rubbish Day production.

The absolutely delightful Carrie Sanders from CSSM Consulting suggested that as I had always reminded her of Lady Miss Kier from Deelite it would be delightful (see what I’m doing here?) if I would go out into the road on a chilly Monday morning looking like this:

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Never one to turn up my nose at an opportunity to wander the streets of Johannesburg in fishnet tights, I roped the kids in.

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I am rather fond of this “Mom, a car is coming shot”. The girl child’s refusal to step out of character bodes well for a career on stage.

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Have a groovy week, everybody. I’m going inside now to put some pants on.

Groove is in the Heart 🙂

And then, just because and with thanks to Louis Greenberg…

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Toulouse the integrity of one’s hamstring Rubbish Day

I woke up feeling a bit dancey this morning despite the fact that the rubbish collectors didn’t arrive on Wednesday and the fact that I can now actually smell the bins from a good 20 metres away. A week’s worth of cat litter in a bin is a terrifying thing! (Yes, we still have both the cat and allergies)

In honour of my grandma who nearly danced for the Folie Bergeres, I went a little (lot) Moulin Rouge. A car actually pulled over AND turned off the Oscar Pistorius news to investigate the going on!

Of course I have neither the grace of a gazelle nor its hamstrings. I am in fits of giggles and am quite beyond being able to edit the many photos my long-suffering husband took (I’m sure to prolong the agony of my public can-can performance) so there are rather a lot of shots this morning.

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My “audience” and, yes, there was some performance anxiety. Thank heavens for the absinthe (green food colouring in water)

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I am rather fond of my hastily cobbled together fascinator.

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Let the dancing begin

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More Impi, more toyi toyi than can can 🙂 And then the Karate Kid move. Keeeeya!

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Singing in the Rain but not Rubbish Day

oh dear! I published this on the wrong blog. Apologies.

It has been raining. A lot. It has rained consistently for 10 days or more. Our house is starting to smell like a cave, the dogs are always wet, to say nothing of the children, and I am developing concerns about the black mould that Dr House so often looks for as the cause of near-certain death growing in secret damp corners.

I woke up this morning to another grey day and thought, “Gene Kelly! I can rock a song and dance”. 23 Thorns has gone back to work in a 9-5 job, so I was short a photographer. I took the rubbish out with my snazzy hat but there was nobody to record it. Most fortunately, on contacting a friend, I discovered that it was plastics day in Fourways Gardens. Into my mom car I hopped and off I dashed, for another travelling rubbish day. Most unfortunately, by the time I arrived, the sun had come out for the first time in weeks, so I present to you Singing in the No Rain. Thank heavens for puddles!

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Happy Wednesday everybody! If the rain never stops, Puddle jump more. It’s wicked cool 🙂

Virginia Woolf and Witnesses Rubbish Day

So, I am Virginia Woolf today!

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There we are all full of good cheer. Luckily though there was rather a lot of traffic in the street this morning and Jehovah’s Witnesses, so the siren songs promising only despair had to be packed in for giggles and some wise words about my grey hair, which one only really sees when taking a profile photograph while dressed like Virginia Woolf sitting on the pavement in the morning.

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Hello Jehovah’s Witness folk! “Interesting photo op”, they said to me while backing away slowly without giving me a copy of The Watchtower.

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”These are the soul’s changes. I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.”
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Road Trip Rubbish Day in The Valley

Rubbish Day this week is a little different. Well, it’s a lot different. For starters, it didn’t take place at home. I took my rubbish on the road to the home of my very dear friend and brave genius, photographer and artivist, Germaine De Larch and equally talented writer and journalist, Ang Lloyd. Ang and Germaine live in a suburb of Johannesburg called Bez Valley. And this is where Rubbish Day becomes even more different, because Bez Valley has an extraordinary history and one particularly dear to me as my mother was born in a house not two streets from Ang and Germaine’s. So today is a little bit of rubbish, a little bit of history, a mystery, a snake, a dead dog, a ghost house, and a whole lot of heartbreak and ache.

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Before gold was discovered in Johannesburg (which wasn’t then Johannesburg) the area around the Witwatersrand was sparsely populated, mainly by the farming descendants of the Boers who had left the Cape of Good Hope in the 1830s and 1840s with their ox wagons, their organs, their bibles, their faith, and their biltong, to settle beyond the control of the British, whose penchant for tea over coffee, for all things British over Afrikaaner, for the abolition of slavery over servitude, for their Johhny-come-lately insistence that they could run The Cape better than their Afrikaaner countrymen who had been doing it since 1652, had become impossible to live with. It is difficult for me to imagine this journey and its hardships when I drive the N1 from Cape Town to Johannesburg. 1500km is a long time in a car. It is very long. There are huge mountain ranges to cross, and then miles of semi-desert where once dinosaurs roamed, and where even before that an inland sea covered the landscape. There are parts of the trip so flat and dusty that you can see for days. There is a town in The Freestate called Woestalleen. It means terribly alone, savagely alone. Every time I read the road signs to it, my heart hurts a little at the prospect of being that kind of alone. But I digress. So, the Transvaal was populated by these savagely tough Boers. They set up farms, they started a new life beyond the British, beyond the Orange River and then beyond the Vaal River.

But then in 1886, gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in ‘die ou Transvaal’ and the world descended upon this isolated farming community. Miners from the Australian gold rush left their homes behind, Cornish tin miners arrived, unfortunates who had lost out to De Beers in Kimberley and never found their diamond passports to prosperity, some of those who had found riches, Irish immigrants. The world came to this incredibly rich reef with gold stars in their eyes.

This must have come as somewhat of a shock to the Bezuidenhout family who owned one of the largest farms in the area. Their farm was in the valley between two old ridges. There was a river, a dam. There was the red red soil, the red dust. When the gold fields were proclaimed by Oom Paul Kruger, the president of the Transvaal Republic, the Bezuidenhout family lost part of the original farm but I don’t imagine they minded terribly. They must have been doing a roaring trade with all the new folk in town. It became a fun day out for the people of this new gold rush city, to take an ox cart to the Bezuidenhout farm and spend the day picnicking alongside the dam.

As Johannesburg grew, the Bezuidenhout family auctioned off portions of their land and a new working-class suburb was born. In 1903 the Bezuidenhout family built themselves a rather grand home and settled down to life in the new suburb of Bezuidenhout Valley. Bez Valley.

And now, after that rather long preamble, and with 111 years separating the two stories I can get back to Rubbish Day. More specifically, Rubbish Day outside of that grand house built by Afrikaaner pioneer farmers a long time ago. This is Morf Lodge today. It is an abandoned ruin in a secret garden. The gate is welded shut, the windows are almost all broken, there are no doors. It is a haunting and haunted space. It is so beautiful it gives me goosebumps.

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The story of how this house has come to be more memory than substance, more mould than mortar is devastating. In he late 1980s the de Carvahlo family bought the house and lived there happily until one night in 1994, the elderly de Carvahlo seniors were attacked at knifepoint by burglars looking for their own brand of gold rush. Following this night the de Carvahlo son, Tino, visited his parents’ house one last time to grab a few essentials. He popped toothbrushes, a change of clothes, perhaps a pair of shoes into a small bag to take to the hospital rooms where his parents were in a critical but stable condition, he closed the doors, he locked them and he never went back.

Over the years vandals have broken into the house, stolen the brass light fixtures, rummaged through cupboards of clothes, boxes of children’s games and newspapers. Anything deemed not of value was left on the wooden floors. The house is a time capsule falling into ruin. Scratch that, it has fallen into ruin. In the early 2000s, an artist was allowed by Tino (who still lives a few doors down from his childhood home) into the house. You can view some of the images here</a

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And now, if you thought we were done. If you thought you had had enough heartbreak and ‘oh, wow! The rubbish lady is talking a LOT today’, brace yourselves because we drove around and walked around a little more. Bez Valley is a strange suburb these days. It has the lovely old working class houses and semis with Oregon floors and pressed steel ceilings, but it has also got a fair amount of ghetto to it. It has the old municipal swimming pool reserved for whites only/ net blankes, it’s depths marked diep kant/ deep end, vlakkant/ shallow end. It is surrounded by barbed wire fencing but it is a bright, clear blue and my decidedly white friend swims in it daily with decidedly black companions. It is a good place. People walk down the streets, they chat to each other. Tino of the ‘ghost house’ stands on the street corner in the evenings to ward off more wannabe vandals. It is – there is just no other word for it – cool. The incumbent, Ang, wrote a cool blog about her cool suburb. Read why she chooses “ghetto” over lager any day of the week. She’s cool too, by the way.

Now, a little bit of ghetto means a whole lot of rubbish on the streets. If you can’t find a bin, you can always find a sidewalk.

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Germaine and I were being a little goofy here. We were standing looking over the wall into the Apartheid swimming pool. We were standing in a pile of rubbish to do it. I was feigning dying Victorian swan. It smelt a little. Rubbish does. But then we noticed a little maggotty writhing – after we’d giggled at the F**k Bush graffiti. Imagine being motivated-enough-by-political-issues vandal to swear at the ex-US president in spray paint – and we took a closer look at the thing in the yellow blanket. It was somebody’s family pet, wrapped up and laid to rest. Now, not only had we found dreams laid waste, we had a body! A whole life festering on the pavement. I was, at this stage, rather sad that my tranquilliser prescription ran out two years ago. But I had not even nearly scratched the surface of creepy.

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Just around the corner from the swimming pool is a small bridge over a concreted sloot. A manhole cover on the road has been missing for quite some time and a yellow bollard has been in place to warn drivers. Recently, however, a local resident, tired of the dumping in the streets, has put together a warning display that is frankly terrifying. I had wanted to see the spot since Ang wrote about it here. Subsequent to her publishing her article friends have suggested it is an art project. I assure you, it feels far more sinister than that. It is quite genuinely like standing and staring at somebody’s psychosis splattered over the pavement. There are pregnancy scan pictures, random photographs, a notepad with an ‘I love you heart’ on a page and bible verses on others, there are chip packets, there is a weird little voodoo hidey-hole made from Palm fronds, there is an animal skin defleshed and drying on a coil of barbed wire- Hannibal Lecter’s washing line. It is shudderingly, wrap-your-arms-around-yourself, look-over-your-shoulder creepy.

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It is not right, folks. Something about this is decidedly not right.

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“Snake can smell where you live stinky dumper” 😳

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The river is the snake that will “eat you slowly”. Or maybe the snake is a snake. I’m not really sure, to be honest.

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I drove home from my epic Rubbish Day outing alternately sobbing, giggling and shuddering. I drove home slowly looking for the house down whose steps my mother walked in her wedding day photographs. She is long dead as is my father, and there is nobody who can tell me the actual street address. I look for that house every time I visit Germaine. I drove on Sylvia’s Pass and remembered when my dad had a car accident there in his red Honda Ballade, past the old Radium Beer Hall, past my old high school’s lych gate, past the school my dad’s friend “Boysie” went to. So many ghosts; so many abandoned places. So much time, like water, slipping through the palms of memory. It was an extraordinary day!

Have a wonderful week, all. I will be silly again in a colander hat next week!

All photographs taken on my iPad mini are copyright GermaineDeLarch Images. She’s a biscuit 😀