Sunday, November 24, 2013

Anna's Visit

We were so lucky to have Anna, my roomate at UWC, visiting from Germany for a couple of weeks. I love that even with gaps of several years between our times together, we can catch up easily, share a house, and generally enjoy eachother's company. Even with crazy children around, different careers and families, different continents, it still felt like home. If I want to feel a rush of happiness, I think of how lucky I have been with my roommates. Anna gave the kids extra love and attention, which was awesome, too.

With the weather warming up, we are visiting beaches a few times a week. Not being Cape-Tonians, I feel like we get to be tourists and enjoy all the amazing beaches of Cape Town a lot more than most people. I pack very light (some food is the main essential with small kids). Even when I plan for just a simple walk along the beach in the evening, the kids run in, fall in, generally sieze every opportunity to enjoy the water:

This is Muizenburg beach, which is a massive long stretch of sand and very popular with surfers. For kids, low tide is great because there are often welks and other creatures moving around in the long stretch of wet sand. Early morning or evening are good times to spend time there.
Eli is ball-obsessed. Give him a ball and the opportunity to do some kicking, and he's happy for a very long time.

It is evening and the water is really, really cold. The kids don't seem to care.

Noah recently learned how to do a head-over-heels, which he does about 100 times a day now.
Near the end of Anna's visit, Eug headed out to Korea for two weeks to help out family. It was our first time without him for an extended period, and we all missed him a lot. The days were so long when I was with the kids 24/7, and I had no idea how to respond to Noah's fluctuating emotions and clinginess. Our house was unbalanced, and I got angry at dumb things that normal kids do, like make a mess. But Noah and Eli also grew in new ways and I was proud of them and of our household's ability to be flexible in response to new needs. Which is not to say we coped terribly well, but we tried it and we'll probably try it again! We are so happy to have Eug back, and I am so happy to have enough time alone to remember the past month.

While Eug was away, I just took the kids to the beach a lot. We also went to Boulder's with Anna twice. I'm almost out of cheap entries for this year already, so it's going to be good to explore other beaches that are similarly sheltered and full of tiny corners to explore.

Because we arrive early, and pack light so we can clamber over the boulders, we almost always have the beach to ourselves for most of the morning.

This year, I started a tradition of making ice-cream and brownies for the beach. It means we more or less eat ice-cream and brownies for second breakfast. Which the kids enjoy a lot.

Yeah, Boston Red Sox!

Once we're all done playing and swimming, we just hang out and relax for a bit before heading home.
The dassies at the beach have had babies, and Eli was completely obsessed. Dassies used to be everywhere in Cape Town, but they were "removed" from Table Mountain and many other tourist spots. I'm happy that at least a few of them are back at Boulders.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A New Adventure and a New Blog on Sustainability and Faith

Apologies to anyone who was trying to get to the blog in the last week. I was moving domain hosting and there was a snag, but it's all fixed now. 

A picture of Boulders to make us all feel good about adventures.
I wanted to send you over to Darren's blog, Momentary Delight, where he shares about a new blogging adventure that Eug and I are excited to be part of. 

Darren shares the goals of the blog:
  • To explore how living more sustainably can be shaped by our faith in Jesus.
  • Make the conversation around sustainability accessible to people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Encourage experimentation, risk taking and small steps.
  • Pursue authenticity, humility and grace in our dialogue.
The blog is open for collaborators of all kinds, and Darren's vision (which we are embracing with glee) is one of inclusivity, adventure, and fun. 

When I started Concrete Gardener, I was interested in "social responsibility in context", where context was everything- the right choice at the wrong time doesn't do us any favours. Along the way, I've sometimes veered towards taking positions rather than telling my/our story, and I think the danger in taking positions is legalism, lack of compassion, and self-righteousness. I'm sure I'll keep making mistakes and expressing myself poorly, but I hope this new blog will give me a new opportunities to consider context. I would like to think of readers and writers and co-creators of meaning, where together we learn. 

At the same time, I think it's important to DO something, no matter what our context. To act, to be conscious of where we think we might stand in the world, to consider our responsibilities to one another, even if it turns out we're wrong. In a recent interview Wendell Berry said about sustainability "the question is not 'will it make a difference?', the question is 'is it the right thing to do?'" I would add that the right thing to do must be in the right place and the right time, and I really want to develop my sense of place here in the Western Cape of South Africa. 

My peer group is in danger of knowing a little about everything because we are so geographically dispersed and have such a range of experience. The internet makes it seem like the world's problems and solutions must always be so big and complex, and we must be so smart to have our abstract opinion on what to do in the abstract. I love that our family has roots in three continents, maybe four, and that we read widely and deeply and have a pretty huge range of experiences. We've experienced extreme wealth and extreme poverty, at least second-hand. But few of those experiences are ours, exactly. We're a bit outside of them exactly because they don't feel defining or restraining. Sometimes faith adds to that feeling of being outside of something because I embrace the notion that there's a world i can't see. I'm mixing ideas terribly here, but I guess my point is that I want to explore the problems right in front of me more deeply- from the perspective of both what is seen and what is not. All this is still rather abstract, so I guess we'll just have to dig in and see where the adventure takes us! Stay posted for more updates. 

Concrete Gardener will stay up and running, and I'll still update friends and family here even as the new blog takes shape.