Do You See?

14 05 2012

Do You See? Do You Really See?

Do you see what the child sees?
Can you really see?
Do you see with a child’s eyes?
Can you really see?

Trapped in the fog of your despair?
Tunnel-vision of the damned.
A by-product of your past and the now
With no future at hand?

You’re blind! Open your eyes!
Wipe away that fog!
Look! Really look!
With your heart and mind; the whole lot.

Does that buzzing in your head
Distract, trouble and torment?
Cloud your eyes like cataracts?
You’re pathetic in your lament!

Look to roads that lead the way
Into future so uncertain
Your fears and insecurities
Contract muscles, cause pain; Yes – I know it’s hurting.

Your fingers tremble, your eyelids flutter.
You’d rather sit and weep.
It’s the caked years of dusty layers
Of failure, sorrow so deep.

If I was there, I’d smack you hard.
Right on the back of your head.
You pathetic insufferable fool.
What lazy, weak paths have you led?

No road is right, wrong, left or right.
It’s just a choice that’s there.
What happens down the line is not clear.
It takes you to who knows where?

“Look” – I say, with a child’s eyes.
Be expectant, live, enjoy the surprise.
Let the light of the future shine bright.
Don’t let uncertainty be your demise.

Not only must you see as a child.
You must do as a child might.
Failure is always an option.
There is no wrong or right.

Just do. Be the moment. See with eyes so bright.
Work harder, use the hurt, the pain of lessons learned
To guide you and mind you
The rewards will be justly earned.

Do you see what the child sees?
Can you really see?
Do you see with a child’s eyes?
I said, “Do you really see?”



June 16, 1976

13 08 2009

Once again, my sisters poetry blog and her exercises in “Blues” poetry inspired me to write this poem (ok, she insisted).  If I may paraphrase from her site and what she had to say about the Blues genre:

One of the most popular forms of American poetry, the blues poem stems from the African-American oral tradition and the musical tradition of the blues. The phrase ‘the blues’ is a synonym for having a fit of the blue devils, meaning down spirits, depression and sadness. A blues poem typically takes on themes such as struggle, despair and sex. African-American writer Ralph Ellison said that although the blues are often about struggle and depression, they are also full of determination to overcome difficulty ‘through sheer toughness of spirit.’ this resilience in the face of hardship is one of the hallmarks of the blues poem.

So without further ado:

June 16, 1976

Shanty town, forlorn frown, ready for a riot
Brothers moan, trodden down, ready for a riot
Tyres ready, petrol poured – perhaps it’s necklace time?

Trouble stirring, people stewing, ready for a fight
Teachers fighting, children fuming, ready for a fight
Shamboks, spears and assegais – now it’s toyi-toyi time.

Bullets, helmets, hear the shout – show them strength and might
Marching forward, break them out – show them strength and might
Open Fire! Screams ignored – hold the bloody line!

Children dragged into the street – beat them black and blue
Mothers screaming, see them weep – they don’t know what to do
Torn, ripped, bleeding stripped – do they know their crime?

Broken bottles, burning tyres, what a sickening sight
Screaming, crying, petrol fires, what a sickening sight
Drag the culprits off, away; they must do their time.

Stinking cells, prison bars, years of yardtime bore
Robben Island fog rolls in, somehow spirits soar
Forgive, forget, move on, don’t resent – will it be in time?

Strangely then a man arose from a prison cell
Each day he lived alone, within, inside his private hell
Out he came, united man, a period of peacetime

Began anew, fresh as dew, forgive the ’76 riot
Holding hands, children grew, forget the ’76 riot
Together walk the Long Walk, freedom; unity: mine.

Ghazal Poetry

12 08 2009

My sister Beverly, introduced me to the Ghazal form of poetry on her blog which she had been learning about during her poetry course at Queensland University. It was interesting enough for me to ‘give it a go‘.  I did find it quite hard and given some more time and effort I’m sure I could do better – as opposed to the 5 minutes spent on this one. Nevertheless here’s my first Ghazal! Read her Vesta Poetry blog for an explanation and some of her work or Wikipedia if you want to know more about the form and then I’ll acknowledge that the meter of my ghazal is definitely not quite right.  Nevertheless I liked the imagery.

“Painting with light”
Mirror locked, image caught, painting with light
Focus reached, magnificence sought. Painting with light.

Wilderness and vista, starfields whisper
Composition, framing – yet to be taught. Painting with light.

Capturing emotion, there be glimpses of fear
Etched  courage or love, and there it is wraught. Painting with light.

Then shadow, then shape, defined and revealed
Can the essence of it  count for naught? Painting with light.

With contrast and  colour, luminance and hue
The image we capture, it’s borders we’ve caught. Painting with light.

Self doubt must be fought, to create in detail
That I as an artist must be untaught. Painting with light.

Earth Hour

24 03 2009

A lot has already been said about the upcoming Earth Hour initiative but let me throw my lot in and show my support for this event which is coming up in only a few short days.

tshirtIn South Africa for Earth Hour we will be turning off our lights from 20h30-21h30 local-time on Saturday 28th March 2009. Your should check out for the latest news and when your city or town will be taking part and what role you can play.  Whilst it is not expected that earth’s carbon footprint will be dramatically reduced during Earth Hour it is more the symbolic significance that will raise awareness about climate change and how our planet is being affected regardless of what many climate change doubters may say.

Climate change is unfortunately something that is happening now and if it’s not already affecting you in some way it most certainly will affect your or your children in the near future.  The potential for climate change to have huge catastrophic consequences is not to be under-estimated.  Although books like Six Degrees – Our Future on a Hotter Planet may be deemed to be sensationalist they give a clear insight as to the significance of just a mere 2°C climate change.  Some scientists are predicting that we have already reached the tipping point that indicates a 2°C change is on the horizon and there is little that can be done about it right now.  One must remember that the global climate has taken a long while to respond to increased atmospheric carbon and will consequently take a long while to respond to any corresponding decrease before equilibrium is re-established.

Where exactly those decreases will come from still remains to be seen?  Developing economies such as China, India and even South Africa are already consuming huge quantities of coal and will continue to do so in an escalating fashion as they attempt to grow their economies in staggering proportions.  Therefore you might ask what is the significance of little old me switching my lights off for one hour on Saturday evening?  Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth. Simply leaving your lights on is a vote for Global Warming and an a show of apathy for the well-being of your children and grand-children. The outcome of Earth Hour will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009 and will hopefully make some global leaders sit up and take action against global warming. By standing together and voting we can show intent and resolve. As always your vote does count.

The Earth Hour initiative has certainly sparked the interest of many citizens and governments worldwide and it should be really interesting to see if they reach their target of 1 billion people in more than 1000 cities around the world. More importantly for me however is the involvement of government, business and NGO’s as it is through their actions and policy that we can hope to turn around the phenomenon of global warming.  Without significant policy changes and legislation our rampant raping of the planet will continue on.   China produces more than 35% of the worlds coal in huge quantities to fuel their growing economy.  South Africa has plans to start up 4 new coal powered power-plants in 2009 onwards in an attempt to resolve our energy crises.  While it is difficult to rationalise the desire to grow economies and improve the livelihood of all it must be balanced with a healthy reality check as to where this incessant fossil-fuel use is taking us in the future?

vote-earth-posterBut don’t let it stop there. I know that Earth Hour is a simple gesture and you will experience a sense of camaraderie which will hopefully instill a desire to do more.  Spend the hour with some candle-light and a glass of wine and make a check-list as to how you personally can reduce your energy consumption?  Is your geyser fitted with a timer switch?  Do you have a warming blanket on your geyser to reduce heat-loss?  Have you perhaps considered fitting  solar panels instead?  What about your electrical appliances – do they stay on all day every day.  TV’s and Microwaves consume small but gradually significant power even when switched off – pull the plug out.  Teach your children about energy and how to conserve it’s use as they will utlimately become the biggest sufferers in a warming climate.  Consider your water use as well especially for us in South Africa where it is predicted we will face significant drought during global warming.  Check for leaking taps, avoid over irrigation and general water wastage.

Stand up and be counted. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business and every community.  Are you doing your part?

The Full Circle – Dave Varty

14 02 2009
Dave Varty - Full Circle

The Full Circle - Dave Varty

I recently purchased the book, The Full Circle by Dave Varty and now after having completed it in a couple of evenings I’m in a position to pass comment on it. In truth I found the book interesting enough to have completed it in a single sitting being only 336 pages of fairly easy reading, however a busy day and mandatory sleep intervened.  The second nights reading however demanded it be completed, that’s how interesting I found it.

I know very little of the Varty story and had only heard rumours and hearsay via the media regarding John Varty, Gillian van Houten, Londolozi and the Tiger project (JVBigCats). I know that the Varty’s have been controversial in the past with rumour regarding their breeding for hunting programme (untrue) and their perhaps inappropiate use of funds given to them.  However it was with an empty frame of mind that I approached this book hoping to hear some adventure stories about growing up in the bush and other fascinating wildlife experiences.  What I got by and large was a very interesting exposé on the formation of CCAfrica (now andBeyond) by Dave Varty, their numerous lodges besides Londolozi and Dave’s business involvement therein. This didn’t disappoint me but in truth it wasn’t what I had expected from the book.

What is clear to me from Dave’s writings is that he has a great love for his family, the bush and especially Londolozi – the origin of his passion and the foundation for what he was to become. The Londolozi model when first introduced wasn’t well received apparently and yet it has proven to be succesful countless times over still today in many other high-end safari lodges.  Dave’s honesty comes through however when he highlights the many glaring errors of judgement and decision making that he made as part of CCAfrica in securing funding and managing the unparalled growth of CCAfrica to his ultimate demise when he was asked to leave the company.

Their are certain aspects of the book which I can dearly relate to in particular his frame of reference towards some business decisions that were being made around him wherein his gut tells him to do one thing and yet he is persuaded to do another. This was to his deteriment in terms of personal values as well as to his life goals.  Having experienced some similar events, perhaps not in such a grand scale, the message came clear to me that one should indeed trust your instincts especially when it comes to something you know and love and wish to nuture.

I am under no illusion that Dave Varty was in business to make money and quite frankly I don’t blame him. Money is a necessary evil that can certainly contribute towards a fruitful life and lifestyle. Yet underlying that I don’t doubt his commitment to conservation or his passion for wildlife and the desire to share that with other people. I am quite sure that writing this book was cathartic for Dave and put to bed a few ills in his mind over how he had conducted his life. Overall I am sure that he is still convinced that his successes have outweighed his failures. The clear joy he has taken in meeting all sorts of really interesting people (such as Nelson Mandela and the Getty’s amongst others) and introducing them to the wonder that is African Wildlife in the raw; surely outweighs the doubts and disappointments he has experienced.

I definitely benefited from reading this book and although it didn’t quite live up to my expectations it certainly gave me food for thought in my own life and how I conduct myself as a business person. There are some lovely anecdotes regarding their original trials and tribulations setting up Londolozi as a going concern and some of the old photographs are quiet poignant. The book is not expensive and provides some light reading and so gets a thumbs up from me, not withstanding any pre-conceived notions you may have regarding the Varty family and any prior media coverage (positive or negative) that they may have received.  It is of course a very one sided story and underneath this the truth may in fact be quite different although I’m not sure, the honesty does seem quite genuine. There is very little discussion about John Varty’s (Dave’s brother) activities during this time although some information is given about John’s filming expeditions (with Londolozi productions) and his establishment of the Tiger breeding programme amongst others. I think it is a given that John is the more flamboyant and controversial character so perhaps these omissions were deliberate and in truth possbily not that relevant to Dave’s personal story.

Now we just need to save enough money to afford to get to Londolozi, Phinda, Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania) or any of their other famous resorts. Hope you enjoy the read in the meantime. Oh yes and if you’ve got a spare US$6 million (about R60 million) lying around perhaps you want to invest in your own private lodge at Phinda (African Homesteads) courtesy of the Getty’s?

The Full Circle
Publisher: Penguin
EAN: 9780143025764
Format: Hardback
Release Date: 1st September 2008
Retail Price: R230,00

Ho, Ho, Ho – It’s Christmas

5 12 2008

Hang out the tinsel, light up the tree!
Listen to the children laugh,
Count down the days with glee.

Christmas is upon us; it’s present wrapping time.
Santa Claus is on his way,
With reindeer, and elves so fine!

What will he bring you in the middle of the night?
Perhaps peace and happiness,
Or a year of God’s delight?

A lingering kiss under mistletoe?
Singing Christmas carols?
Turkey, pud, pop the cork – let the red wine flow!

May the joy and peace find you
Wherever you may be.
Count down the days to Christmas and into New Year too.

Merry Christmas!
Ian, Wendy, Michelle and Laura-Ashley

The House…

8 10 2008

Some things have a way of catching up with you and house maintenance is definitely one of them. It’s amazing how much love and attention a house can demand. You wouldn’t think so. After all they’re just blocks of concrete standing there on a piece of ground. And yet, the provide us with warmth on a cold winters night, comfort when we arrive home from a hard days work and flop into our favourite couch in our favourite room (usually in front of the TV), surround us with the safety of her walls while we watch our children play in the garden, keep us dry and generally provide us with a feeling of familiarity which we tend to thrive on.

So I guess it’s only fair that she demands a little in return. I say ‘she’ because houses are high-maintenance much like the fairer sex tend to be. The last couple of days, my house – bless her soul – has decided to get all uppity and let me know in no uncertain terms that she was feeling neglected.

In no particular order here are some issues that her and I have had:

We’ve had topsoil and fertiliser dressing added to our lawns. The lawn was starting to look particularly shabby and bare in places after a very dry summer. Not withstanding an irrigation system that I have in place, the winter has been harsh and we still to date have not had any rain since last summer. So the lawn needed some love and attention. So on Monday morning the guys came around and put lovely stinky smelly dirt all over the grass and now it needs a bit of constant watering to make it flourish which I am sure it will do in due course. It does mean the children are a bit restricted from going outside just yet – it’s a bit too muddy for all of that.

Now as mentioned the lawn needs watering. So what happens? On Sunday, our dearly beloved gardener for the umpteenth time manages to break the irrigation hose in two places at the front of our garden. So now when I run the irrigation it floods the place. Wonderful. So we have the irrigation repair people coming out tomorrow morning early to fix the problem. More money, I think I need to deduct it from his salary at the end of the month – it’s beyond a joke now. Although I do sympathise with him a little as the irrigation pipes really should have been buried deeper and it is difficult to turn the beds over as a result.

I went and bought three pieces of trellis to block openings in our front wall where the local neighbourhood cat had been coming through to use our indoor flower bed as it’s local toilet! So much so that the smell of urine/feces was overwhelming each morning as you stepped out the front door. The cat had also all but killed a plant in that front garden with it’s uric acid. I’m happy to report however that with some more love and attention. some fresh fertilizer and potting soil and a lot of water the plant is recovering and as of this morning has three new bright green leaves on it.  I have also thrown in some geranium and ponsietta seeds into that area so hopefully soon we should see some colour and some better smells in the morning. Good riddance cat!

Electric fences. Yes, I live in South Africa I’m afraid; so an electric fence is mandatory. A working electric fence is however even more mandatory. Unfortunately ours was not. So call in the contractors to come and have a look at it. Unbeknown to me, when I had chopped down part of a banana plant outside my front door when putting up the trellis it had fallen down on the fence and bent some of the wires. That however didn’t turn out to be the real problem. It took the technician the better part of an hour to find a small bobbin that wasn’t seated properly on the fence and was causing a short circuit. At least it’s working again now and we can sleep safely at night.

Whilst the fence technician was there he had to be supervised a little. I don’t like people to have the full run of my property. So during that time silly me decided to rearrange my garage/studio. I move the shelving to the side of the gararage and swept and tidied up the place. Hopefully this will inspire me to get back into the studio and do some more photography. It’s been far too long. At least the place looks tidy again though. For how long, who knows.

Back to security problems though, our burglar alarm had also stopped working. So once again, and more money; we had to call out the technicians. Fortuantely they responded quite smartly to this as being without a burglar alarm would be a real problem for me, not withstanding the fact that my householders insurance would be invalidated. It turned out to be a blown fuse so when that was replaced all was working again. It was a good opportunity to test the alarm and make sure that the panic and siren and call-centre link-up was all working properly though.

Telephones. I have 4 extensions in my house and we recently had a big problem with static/noise on our line. It took our dear telecom service provide Telkom about 3 weeks to decide to come in and fix the problem. After they had fixed that problem however our extensions stopped working. Fortunately they didn’t disrupt our ADSL connection because then all holy hell would have broken loose! However from a security point of view being without a telephone in my bedroom was a bit of an issue for me. Are you sensing a trend in this blog – ‘security’. I’m afraid it’s a sign of the times and a clear indication of where I live I’m afraid.

Our pool. Does she have a leak or doesn’t she. It’s reallly hard to tell. The water level definitely does go down at varying degrees. Could it be due to evaporation? I’m really not sure. We have had some really hot weather recently and my gut tells me that the last couple of days while it hasn’t been that hot the water level hasn’t dropped as much? Some suggestions I have received are to block the return valve with something(?) and then see if I’m still losing water because it doesn’t appear to be leaking from the outlet valves anywhere? Someone else suggested food colouring in the water? I thought that was a really interesting and novel idea to see if there was a leak in the pool itself? Who knows.  In addition to this we’ve upgraded/fixed the solar panels on our pool. We now have five solar panels in a relatively small pool and to my dismay even after all the sunshine and hot weather our pool is still only 22°C. I really felt that it should have been warmer than that by now? Am I asking too much?

Our flat roof in the past has really given us a lot of problems with leaks; as all flat roofs tend to do unfortunately. We spent a lot of money on it fixing the problems and by and large seemed to have solved it. However I am dreading the up coming rainy season (may it come soon); because after a long hiatus who knows where we might encounter problems? The jury is still out on that one I’m afraid but my gut tells me that there may be some issues in places? Hold thumbs that it’s nothing too serious.

We recently had Wendy’s dad stay with us for a week while he was recovering from a hernia operation. Of course he stayed in our guest bedroom and to our dismay we discovered after several hours mind that that the geyser that we had turned on for him while he stayed there was leaking water like a sieve. The idiotic people who installed the geyser and plumbing when they added on that part of the house did a real heath-robinson affair. So once again out came the contractors. We had to replace a faulty thermostat in the geyser which was overheating as well as move the geyser so that they could fit the proper safety shut-off valves etc. To crown it all the outlet for the geyser is a pipe that just runs straight into my garage/studio. So there was a ton of water everywhere in that room.  Fortunately all the equipment and odds and ends are off the floor. There was a bit of water damage so some wood/board but nothing major.

I’m still toying with the idea of putting part of a second storey onto my house. For those of you that know my place I’m contemplating putting a second storey over my second garage, my bar and my study.  I would like to leave the garage area open as a double volume space which would then greatly assist studio photography in there. One of the biggest problems right now is that the ceiling is very low. Lower than normal and this causes problems with light spill and reflection etc. So a double volume space would be ideal and I could also use a boom light from the second level over that area as a hair light for instance. Over the bar area would then become a really nice study/gallery area for me, my computers, my printer and my prints. I was thinking of putting stairs up from inside the bar area (to the left of the fireplace) which take you up to that level. I was also thinking of putting a door in from the garage/studio where the dart board is currently to give direct access from the studio up to the study area.  My currenty study would then become a place for the children possibly  (with their computers and perhaps a homework area for later) or a gym for Wendy. The alternative that I was thinking about was that the room above the current study then becomes Wendy’s gym and it would be lovely as it would have a nice view of the surrounding neighbourhood from up high as well as allow for a nice fresh breeze to blow through that room (as you are above the level of the surrounding walls). Wendy’s gym equipment is currently in the bar area and it is quite big and bulky and doesn’t look that great so a seperate room for it would be ideal. Building is not a task to be taken lightly though and I would dread the disruption, hassle and the fighting that would be necessary to make sure that it got done according to specification. Nevertheless it’s still an idea that is mulling around in my head. I think it would be a lovely add on to a home that we really enjoy living in and certainly cheaper than buying a new place.

So as you see my dear house is giving me a bit of grief lately. Then again I guess she deserves a little attention as she is our carer, our provider and a place that we truly enjoy spending time in. Long may we be happy there.