Archive | July 2010


In the garden of Original Cin
nothing as grand as Gethsemane
she sneers;
Mary waits for morning movements:
a dog appears and pees,
an adolescent cockerel
near the brooding Buddha
struts and tootles with importance.
She unsheathes her secret telephone,
Gabriel, it’s me,
time to send the rains, old boy;
and set them seedlings showin’ off.



Red words screaming through his head
Squealing like a steel train at high speed
Mama’s voice
Mama’s voice

Scarlet spurts of life against the black night
Arcs of liquid diving from the plunging knife
Piston action

He chose them very carefully;
only those, only those
whose children looked unhappy.


This poem relates to the challenge from Uphill Writing (see my previous post) and is my contribution to this week’s Flash 55.

For more:



If you’ve read UhW for any length of time you may recall me going on and on (…and on) about the nature of evil.

I have said that most of what we call evil is really something else. What, you ask?

Mostly it is carelessness. Mindlessness. Actions with unintentioned results.

Many people disagree with me. They point to who they consider evil and proclaim, “See? There! Evil PURE AND SIMPLE by way of the Eighth Dimension!”* …or some such.

Folks tell me that Hitler was evil. They say that Pol Pot’s Killing Fields were evil. But then, when they talk about the firebombing of Dresden by the RAF and US Air Force, or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we call it a humane way to stop a war that would take even more lives.

Is evil a real thing, or is it just a point of view? Would the perpetrators of war crimes—people who call the actions just, change their minds if they became the target of the same fate if they were judged? I think they would. Evil is in the eye of the beholder, then, isn’t it?

I admit to being something of a stickler about this topic. I bring it up over and over again. And the reason?

I believe that our villains are, for the most part, cardboard cutouts or childish actors on a makeshift stage. Why? Because—for the most part—we do not give them sufficient reason for the acts the do. Worse, we often claim that their actions are “just because they’re evil”.

In the past I’ve warned that even mass-murderers had a mother. Most were loved as children. Most, at one time or another, dreamed about a bright future.

Something changed those dreams. Something moved the wide-eyed innocence of a child into darker realms, and it is that journey that defines the villains in your story. At least it does if your villain is to be believed.

Today’s challenge: Create on a notepad, or even in your mind, a bad guy who has had a good family, true love, dreams and aspirations. Create a villain that has sorrow in his or her heart, and who has suffered great loss. Find it in yourself to make a villain that has friends who really care for him (or her).

Today’s challenge is to find a way to create a villain who’s defeat (if defeat there will be), will be more than just a “Hah, vile scum, eat flaming death!”

I challenge you to create a human villain.


Thai me to the moon
Let me cook among the stars
Let me see what spring onions are like
On jupiter and mars

(With apologies to Mister Sinatra)

Food bloggers are all over the place these days and I would hazard a guess that food is the most highly populated area of all blogging genres. Few make enough of an impact on me to keep me going back to their blog. One of the foodies I am in awe of is Nina Timm, whose photographs alone are enough to make me a lifetime fan.

Nina is hosting a ‘blog event’; a competition for the best Thai inspired food post.

Despite the stiff competition, I decided to enter; I adore Thai food and cook it frequently. As I so often blog prawn dishes I’ve cooked, I thought a cashew and chicken green curry would be a nice change. My husband prefers a really spicy red curry, but my pal Mel was coming over and she can’t take very hot food, so I gave him a bowl of fresh chillies to up the burn-factor.

Our home décor bears testimony to our love of all things Thai; lamps, paintings, carvings … and one of the reasons I enjoyed this challenge so much is that it allowed me the opportunity of using my collection of Thai crockery.

Mel brought along a bottle of bubbles, as she is wont to do. My husband ate and escaped to the fireside, knowing that we would drive him batty with our conversation, which carried on well into the night.

Another unforgettable evening with my dear friend, thanks Mel.
And thank you Nina, for providing the inspiration.


A friend from way back when, mad Irishman; Michael, and his brother, Paul, came for lunch. We were blessed with a beautiful, sunny Highveld afternoon.

I served a butternut, parsley and lentil soup to start, with my friend Melanie’s party trick: a crusty French loaf stuffed with smoked oysters and garlic butter.

Our main course was snoek (popular South African fish, of the baracuda family)  which I had marinated in lime juice and rainbow peppers, with a salad I made for the first time: new potatoes, zucchini and olives, with sundried tomatoes I had soaked in a vermouth and herb reduction.

Paul is a cordon bleu chef and pronounce it the best meal he has had in a long time.

I love cooking for appreciative guests …


Go ahead and play the blues if it’ll make you happy.
Dan Castellaneta

There’s no accounting for my having the blues yesterday. That big old black dog, so despised and dreaded by Winston Churchill, just sauntered into my space and lay down at my feet, filling the room with his rancid breath.

I seldom get depressed and, at the first sign of gloom descending, I can usually easily banish it with common sense and a bit of elbow grease; I go off and scrub something or tidy a cupboard.

But yesterday was different, I just couldn’t shake it.

And so I fed it.

I ate and ate and ate and ate…

Chocolates *see footnote
Pickled onions
Ham on toast
Marmite on toast
Peanuts …

This morning that black dog is gone and I’m cradling a belly that appears to contain a six-month old foetus.

But I sure am cheerful.

It’s an upside-down kind of world.

* Footnote:
My friend Side View used ‘chocolate’ as her theme for last weekend’s challenge. It is rare that I don’t participate in her challenges, but I am just not a chocolate person; so much so that, when I did a search for the word in the documents filed on my computer I got only two results; and both were in documents that I had been sent to proofread!

But I am occasionally partial to something bittersweet, darkest chocolate with either ginger or orange marmalade flavour. These tiny biscuits are hard to find, but I love them and stock up whenever I spy them.

Made by Bahlsen, Hannover, Germany


1659, way back when (who knows if it was morning or evening, the history books tell us it was the 2nd of February, so we can be pretty sure it was a nice summer day in Cape Town), old Jan van Riebeeck made the first wine ever recorded in South Africa. It was very likely this rather vile concoction that made his wife, Maria, act so loopy. We’ve all heard how she carried on when they lived at The Castle of Good Hope, flinging her clothes off and swimming naked in the pool, in full view of the servants.

Old Jan continued to fiddle, with both his wine-making formula and one of the neighbours, and soon the name Constance was popping up all over the place. A new wine appeared: Vin de Constance. A new farm was built: Constantia! Evidently our Jan was hopelessly devoted to old Connie, who – one must assume – didn’t swim at all.

Which brings me to thoughts of my own swimming habits (I like swimming!) and the prospect of donning a bathing suit in the fast approaching summer (daunting!) without making the poor man dash away and find a Constance of his own. This winter has not been kind to me and the sight of my pasty, be-dimpled self in the mirror this morning gave me quite a turn.

I’ve just looked up the calories in Merlot (on one website I was alarmed; a man started talking to me about post-pregnancy weight loss! His voice made my dogs sit up and bark at the PC) and find that there are about 500 calories in a bottle of Merlot. Port weighs in at a hefty 180 calories a glass. No port for me then.

After due consideration, I think the muumuu* may just be the right look for me this summer.

* muumuu = loose and airy frock of Hawaiian origin, that drapes the body. Looks like a tent.