Disturbing the peace

Who is disturbing the peace? Structurally, the scenario develops as follows: into established ways of living and doing things, “foreign” elements are introduced and the peace is disturbed. The elements are easily identified where the population goes onto the street, calls for reform and/or radical change and for heads to roll. Or they are difficult to identify where climate change is discussed and where methods of analysis are still being researched and developed while the situation persists. In disturbances of the peace, the pendulum swings between such scenarios, where in one you lock up the population and restore peace and in the other you introduce measures to reduce poisonous emissions and restore the peace of mind – for a while at least.

So, what then is “peace”? Is peace an illusion of the mind? A drug of kinds that the brain is hooked on? And what is “disturbance”? A lack of essential minerals, vitamins and trace elements? Strangely, it always seems to be played out to be or to become political. The peace and the disturbance of it, is foremost a civic thing. But what is behind? A disturbance of the mind? Of pride? Of appetite? Of psychic matter? Or of so-called “culture”?

Colleen is reading a book about the Zimbabwean situation by Peter Godwin: When a Crocodile eats the Sun (Picador Africa 2006), relating passages from it to me. The following scenario, we thought, gave a glance of the inner heart of Africa. An American first world aid worker, Loki Osborn, sees how in a village the women have to go for miles to fetch water from a well. He brings in a drilling team, they sink a bore hole and construct a well near the village. Now a “foreign” element is introduced in that the villagers have to establish a hierarchy for who may be first at the new well. After much squabbling the new well is demolished and peace in the village is restored. The scenario is used to illustrate the point that you cannot rush in to help without understanding the inner workings of a village where the walk to the well, the activity of drawing water, the wait and chat around the well are an integral part to the village’s lifeblood.

But there is another thought that for the moment holds my interest: colonialism has disturbed the peace in Africa. According to one adage, the bad thing about colonialism is that it came to Africa, but the worst thing is that it left. I leave that as it stands. Having disturbed the peace is colonialism’s true crime and for which leaders – as they are seen in Africa – like Mugabe have found the true answer. Westerners call those who disturb our peace hooligans. Africans call us colonialists for disturbing their peace. What then is peace? And what disturbance? What kind of peace? What kind of disturbance?


A peaceful picnic above Bikini Beach in Gordon's Bay with Wiebke & Wolfgang
The "blue" hour
Drinking in public - you might be disturbing the peace! It's a civic matter - see!

Cheerio for now.
With love
from Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, Thursday Feb 17, 2011

Zanu – Zuma – Zille – Zachary

The firebrand of nationalization Malema and his comrade-in-arms president Zuma. The article by Helen Zille.

With things moving in Egypt and Yemen, one wonders why things still are not moving in Southern Africa. Zanu-PF (Zimbabwean African Union – Patriotic Front) hooligans were on the rampage again (www.thezimbabwean.co.uk – Sunday 13th February). After driving out white farmers and destroying much of the country’s agricultural infrastructure, so-called foreign owned retail businesses are under attack. All the while the country’s mineral resources, especially the diamond mines in Eastern Zimbabwe are looted by the state – not for the benefit of the people but to fatten the coffers of a black oligarchy in the name of Patriotism, the Fatherland – for the fathers only, that is, and not for the land. Long after Africans themselves were already exploiting the riches of Africa – its people –  selling them into slavery, colonialism introduced and extended the sophisticated infrastructure for further exploration and exploitation. Instructed by their teachers in the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and their overlords in the Kremlin, the dragon teeth were sown and when liberation came, the new way forward was easy and clear: stepping into the old boots of the former masters. Raping and pillaging in the name of nationhood and African nationalism. Will the African continent for ever be the home of the downtrodden, subjected to the racism of their own people? Things are, to a good degree different in South Africa – yet, as Helen Zille and others point out, the fight is long not over, let alone won. The camaraderie of comrades-in-arms between Southern African leaders, the old East-block style nomenclature of erstwhile cold war communist ideology does not forebode well for a sophisticated type of leadership. However – the South African situation has always been different. It’s people are tested and have always shown up to be resilient. –

Helen Zille – leader of the opposition, former Mayor of Cape Town, Premier of the Western Cape Province – a formidable, fearless fighter and brilliant mind – feared by her opponents because of her outspokenness – another Helen Suzman of the South African political arena. Photo from Wikipedia.

What a lovely boy – Zachary – the son of Elton John and David Furnish. What a miraculous thing. Carried in the womb of a surrogate mother – “Zachary, I am your surrogate mother! And there are your two fathers!” What do we do with Freudian psychology now?

The two fathers: David Furnish & Elton John with their offspring Zachary.

Children and parents are these days growing up with so many more challenges!

With love from
Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, Sunday 13 February 2011

Fraai Uitzicht (1798) – “Zur schönen Aussicht”

Fraai Uitzicht – “Zur schönen Aussicht” –  view from the restaurant steps towards the village of McGregor

Some five or six years ago we visited this truly heavenly situated farm and restaurant with very dear friends from Berlin. Unfortunately for us, the two Germans who ran the place at the time, were arrogant to the point of rudeness and had we not been invited by our friends, we would have left tout de suite.

“Do you have a vegetarian option?”
“Yes.”
“What would it be?”
“Vegetables.”
“What kind of vegetables?”
“You may assume that it will be good, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”
“Oh.”

We seemed to have trodden on this prima donna’s toes and were treated with contempt. In anticipation of a culinary treat we were served a re-heated butternut soup from days before – whether out of spite or in ignorance, we did not have the guts to enquire. Every time we passed the signboard to Fraai Uitzicht on the road to Montagu, between Robertson and Ashton, we regretted the incident because we love the place, yet were hindered by our past experience. Recently we heard it praised by friends and that it was under new management. When last staying in Montagu, we decided to visit again and were pleasantly surprised by all the changes. Karl-Uwe and Sandra have done a magnificent job and are lovely caring hosts and the food is outstanding.

Karl-Uwe, host and modest winemaker himself
Made on the farm in small quantities and available at the restaurant
Sandra (foreground) with her jolly, competent crew
View from our table
Food, wine and travel writer Samarie Smith at the table across - photographed by permission
Our guest and dear friend - Tossie, dancer and writer

A friend sends us the following news item from Germany:

Übrigens steht Freiburg – das Erzbistum – an der Speerspitze einer kleinen Revolution: 144 Theologen, darunter Freiburger, haben einen Brief an den Vatikan unterzeichnet, der das Zölibat abzuschaffen verlangt, die Gleichberechtigung gleichgeschlechtlicher Lebensgemeinschaften und Frauen in kirchlichen Ämtern.”

144 Theologians have signed a manifesto urging the Vatican to abandon statutory celibacy for priests, allowing priests to enter into hetero- or same sex unions and to allow women into clerical positions.

Imaging the Pope and her husband waving from the balcony above St. Peter’s.

Schöne Aussichten – fraai uitzichte.

Betty’s Bay, Sunday 6 February, 2011
With love
Colleen & Walter

The Colour Blue

The colour blue has the power to evoke emotions of serenity and transparent happiness. The colour of a cloudless sky, the depth of the universe, the sea below all of a deeply satisfying blue. Disappointingly, the colour of the universe is called cosmic latte, cappuccino cosmico or big bang buff by some experts – euphemistically no doubt, one should rather suspect it to be a bit of a turbid soup out there, really.

The colour Blue on earth, in flowers, on flags, in pottery conveys a particular mystique and a strong symbolism: in the French flag it stands for liberté; in Germany, for writers of the romantic period the blue flower (die blaue Blume) refers to desire, love and the metaphysical that one can never reach but will always pursue.

Therein lies the liberating power of the colour blue, where it makes us aware of our heavenly nature and where we are responding to it.

With love from
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, 3 February, 2011

Boomslang and Fiscal Shrike in mock combat

Not a real combat, we think, but quite an annoying encounter – for the snake.

Boomslang (Afrikaans) - Dispholidus typus - highly poisonous but non-aggressive

The birds around our house continuously watch and guard us against intruders such as snakes. They make a racket and fly and flutter around it until the snake has enough of it and moves away. This time it was only one bird, a fiscal shrike which called our attention. The little raskal was attacking the snake – surely not in earnest, but with quite some dedication.

A fiscal shrike all in a flutter

Nothing much happened, but the Boomslang definitely was pretty annoyed and reared and struck again and again, to no avail, of course.

Here it notices our presence – the photographer – and considers its options.
We have had a number of encounters with boomslange – one time curled up in our bathroom among the towels. It had retreated there to moult, eyes all glazed over. We gently shoohed her (?) into a bag and let her free outside. These snakes – though highly poisonous – are non-agressive and usually retreat quietly if encountered. They are on average 1,2 m growing up to 2 m. This one we calculated to be about 1,3 m+. It seems it has been living around our house for the last three years or more.

So much for now.
With love
Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, 1 Feb, 2011

Montagu Brunch

Preparing a little brunch pan
the tomatoe mix

Brunch pan for 4
5 ripe but firm tomatoes, cut into cubes (remove the green centre)
Herbs – parsley, spring onions (plus fresh finely chopped garlic and fresh garlic only) and/or dried sweet basil, sprinkled over the tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Some feta cheese, crumbled over the chopped tomatoes
All the above according to your taste – add whatever you like, such as smoked paprika powder or a handful of grated Peccorino or some other of your herb mixtures.
Eggs – 4 or five eggs, some sour cream if you have, a dash of salt and a dash of water, stir gently with a fork, just to break the yolks, no need to whisk.
Heat your pan, add a blob of butter or some olive oil or both. Add the spiced chopped tomatoes, topping it with the eggs.
Close the pan with a lid, keep it on medium heat and do not disturb for the next 15 minutes.
Serve it with finely chopped herbs (plus more fresh garlic, if you dare), rye bread on butter or toast according to your taste.

Voilà – an easy and most satisfying brunch dish for you and your friends.

With love from
Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, 1 February 2011

Lithium

When the world was formed, when the universe was created, out of no-thing or out of chaos, Lithium was there. A soft silver-white metal belonging to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. One of the three elements synthesized in the Big Bang. And that is the stuff that resides in us and that connects us to the beginning of the world. Soft and silvery. Star matter for one thing. Matter of Big Bang explosivity as another. Too little of it and you go bang , too much of it and you bang and die. The balance.

Exploring, expecting - Colleen with Sandra & Luc's Timycha

Enjoying the beach and watching the tide coming in, surging and retreating, keeping a balance in its movements while approaching an apex – I am reminded of the tides in our lives and their movements and their balance. The tides in our civilizations’ values moving from fundamental to liberal, from excessiveness to restrictedness. Where is Lithium there? All Afghanistan needs, the late Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan once said, is cold storage – sounds cool and metally – what he meant though at the time was a commitment to sensible agriculture. One way of healing a country’s sickness. Things do seem out of balance.

On the beach. Observing the swells, reaffirming one’s rhythm, responding to the challenges of balance.

Sandra
Timycha
"Regarde, Walter!"

Betty’s Bay, Monday 31 January 2011

With love

Walter & Colleen

Pope Benedict’s greetings – Grüße vom Papst


There is a catholic church in Montagu with a very lively congregation, as we found out this morning. And to our delight, the new bishop of Oudtshoorn, His Grace Father Francesco de Gouveia, conducted the mass. He had been to Rome recently to be addressed with other new bishops by Pope Benedict who had given to each of them a message of greetings to each and every congregations in their diocese – and there we were, greeted by the Pope personally though by proxy. A strong catholic community this is, judged by the strength of their combined a capella voices. An enjoyable and emotionally touching event. –

During mass a thought came to mind: that what is in our universe around us enters our body and minds and is processed there in all our individual ways to take on an expression of our selves and enters the world around us in that form to be taken up again by others …. an esoteric thought perhaps.

We are enjoying our time in Montagu and might be staying for another few days before returning to Betty’s Bay where we want to spend a little time with Dirki and Katie.

Colleen has filled the bird feeding bottle and a multitude of sugar birds are cajoling around it and are having a ball. Tried to photograph it, without much success though. For bird photography to stun, special equipment is needed.

In competition with a cheeky Cape White eye.

With love from Colleen & Walter

Montagu/Western Cape, Sunday 16 January 2011

Zuckerberg – Satanspferd – Pumpkinheap – Huilboerboonboom

Mark Zuckerberg has been chosen by Time as “Person of the Year”. Looking at the boy on Time‘s front cover (December 27, 2010/January 3, 2011), the clear blue-green stare of his eyes strikes one as the prominent feature in an otherwise flattish longish face. Something of a schoolboy innocence on the surface driven by a powerful ego hidden behind the eyes. The man looks into the future and is not afraid of what he sees, because he is in control. He today controls more than 550 million people with 700,000 people added every day. And he is not afraid. It would be good to read the lead story in Time (pp. 32-57) because “It’s going to get harder and harder to say no to Facebook and to the authentically wonderful things it brings, and the authentically awful things too.” (p. 57)

As an aside: all these wonderful talents once had their home in Germany. And were driven out by a madman and a strangely besotted “Volk”. How differently Germany could have prospered. But then, without the war where would the power-lines be drawn today? History as it could have been, strangely, when and if suppressed or driven underground as a possibility seems to be alive in how it surfaces in other but similar disguises – or is this too enigmatic and/or potentially satanic a view?

Look at what fascinates our children and grandchildren today: vampires in the twilight series. Is that not a form of history half and half not? I leave that thought with you.

Here a real thing, Satan’s horse (“Satanspferd” in German) or Satanpêre as it would be referred to in Sesotho, adapted from Afrikaans:

Wonderful front-leg posture …

… and going forward. Would you want a ride on it? Or rather sit on heap of pumpkins?

Or would you rather squat under under a flowering huilboerboon tree – a weeping boer bean tree (Schotia brachypetala) swarming with flocks of sugar birds singing and chirping throughout the day – while dipping their beaks into the coral red baskets of weeping flowers:

Spot the bird competition.

Under the huilboerboonboom – unterm weinenden Burenbohnenbaum.

Much love for now from

Walter & Colleen

Montagu/Western Cape, Thursday 13 January 2011