The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

24 June 2010


Little Five had just woken from a nap. As the weather had been rather warm and on the humid side, Mama Nut had taken his pants off, putting him to bed in diaper and shirt. He wanted to join his brothers outside, so, being helped into his shoes, off he went, trot trotting around the house to the back yard. Not long after, we could hear the trot trot come back around the house and up the front stairs, followed by a knock at the screen door. I opened the door, letting Five back in the house, where he announced: "I want my pants... on" (he tends to hesitate before the last word of his sentences.) Pants firmly in place, back he trotted to join his brothers. I wonder at what point did the realization strike him, "Something's not quite right here. Heyyyy... wait a minute! I'm outside wearing only a diaper!"

Being too hot to wave a blow dryer at myself these days, I put my hair in a braid or twist it up after washing it. Four asked to see it one day and feeling rather proud of my efforts, I quite happily twirled for him, to give him the full benefit of every angle. "Oh no!", he said. "That's not good."
"It's not good?", I asked.
"No," he replied, "I don't like it at all."

23 June 2010

Seen around town

Several people flying their flags of national pride, supporting a country for the World Cup. We have England on one side and Germany on the other side of our Beast of Burden (BoB). This, of course, is historically ironic, given events of the last century. However, this is a new dawn, a new age... a new World Cup. Whenever we see a fellow Germany supporter, we wave frantically at each other, bonded in our pleasure of this every-four-year burst of football frenzy, and our mutual love for the mannschaft - the German National Team.

The Canadian tradition of decking out the garage as a summer living room, with arm chairs, tv's, refrigerators and even art work and bookshelves. People will move the chairs just out into the driveway in fair weather, and sit just inside the garage in foul. I think this is odd behaviour, but it is also rather endearing.

Garden benches facing the front door, rather than the garden. Now, a nice door is a nice door, but come on! A garden is a garden!

A homeowner who has 'decorated' his front yard with 'antique' lawn mowers - two of them - those old push-powered kind. I wonder, do they have to move the lawn mowers in order to cut their grass, or do they use those old pushers and then simply leave them on the lawn when they're done?

People are endlessly fascinating, aren't they?

22 June 2010


Mom; Mom; Mom; this is you: "Oh my lanta!" - Four to his mother this morning, as she walked through the rooms of her FIFA-widow home, noting the neglect and destruction of the last two weeks. Four has cottoned on to the instant replay style of his older brothers.

One went on a field trip with his class yesterday, to one of those places where 'wild' animals watch you drive by in a special safety vehicle, exhibiting their natural, 'wild' animal behaviors. He also had a soccer game that day, so his mother explained to him what he should wear, and what he should pack. As he went downstairs to get socks, his mother said he didn't need them, because he should wear his crocs. He turned to her, and said patiently, as only a ten year-old attempting to explain life to his mother can, "Mom, I'm going on safari."

The House of Nuts has been rather consumed with football of late. It's on our tv for nearly 9 hours every day. Naturally, all the peanuts are now also very football-driven. Even Five, is into the spirit of things: his latest favourite game is to run slowly around the living room and then dropping to the floor in slow motion, calling out "Lee-ah-poo" and flopping on his back, before getting back up to do it all over again. It's wonderfully appropriate that he has connected Liverpool with diving...

12 June 2010


There's a condition in the House of Nuts which is likely to become more serious as time goes on. We're calling it BIOF - Blame it on FIFA.

It's like this:
Up at the crack of dawn for the first whistle. At half time, get coffee, and make sure all Peanuts are accounted for. Offer them snacks.
Quickly grab something for breakfast during the half hour between games. Make sure all Peanuts are accounted for. Offer them snacks.
At the next half time, quickly brush teeth, throw in a load of laundry... whatever seems necessary. Make sure all Peanuts are accounted for. Offer them snacks.

You should know: snacks keep them quiet. Real food comes now, during the 2 hour break before the next game... like cheese sandwiches. We will eat many cheese sandwiches in the next month.

It's not my fault: Blame it on FIFA!

I may become a little squidgy around the edges, so I advise you to keep your distance. BIOF.
We all may develop scurvy. BIOF.
We may run out of loo paper - there's just no time to shop. BIOF.
All of Europe may be raptured tomorrow, but if it doesn't happen in South Africa, I won't know about it. BIOF.
It's hot and humid - BIOF.

11 June 2010

Waka waka

Here we go, football fans - today began the World Cup 2010, a tournament for which over 230 countries tried out, and only 32 qualified (perspective: the UN consists of 120 countries) Half of the planet watched the final game of the last World Cup (not an exaggeration for dramatic effect), and it's fair to say this go-round will do as well, if not better. This is the world's game, the beautiful game!

What happened today:
South Africa against Mexico: It was an exciting game, because it was the host nation, and the very first game of this month-long contest for best. The vuvuzelas (you can't miss 'em - they're the long, loud horns being blown during the match, in the colours of your country of choice. This method of showing allegiance is as loud as a chainsaw. Imagine 60,000 chainsaws in a stadium!)... the vuvuselas were so loud, I couldn't hear the whistle. I only knew each half was over because the players walked off the pitch.

Here's a name to remember: Siphiwe Tshabalala. His name will be forever honoured in South African history because he scored the first goal for the home team, and during his celebration, invited his teammates to dance with him on the touchline. Plus, it's a fun name to say - go ahead... try it. It'll make you smile! Lalalala

It is common among football supporters to wear large things. For instance, today I spotted very large green fake plastic glasses (in support of South Africa) and enormous powder blue Mad Hatter type hats (to cheer on Mexico, presumably) Why glasses and hats? No idea. It's just something the fans do. When Netherlands take to the pitch against Denmark on Monday, I fully expect to see bunches of carrots in the hair of grown men wearing aprons.

The second and last game of Day One was played very poorly by Uruguay and France. Of note was the Uruguayan keeper, whose bright yellow socks were sooo long, they looked like leggings. Hey, women are wearing them now - they're very fashionable - so why not superstar soccer goalkeepers?

France has two players: Gouvou and Gourcouf, both on the pitch at the same time. The commentator would name each one as he touched the ball, and I always thought he was correcting himself, until I realised they were two different fellas with very similar names! France also has a lalalala in Toulalan. For a tournament that began on a dark note with players dropping from injuries, it's nice to kick off with such a lighthearted note.

I've spotted a trend already: orange boots. Many players are wearing bright orange soccer boots (or maybe they're red... it's hard to tell what with the awesome feed from the Ceeb) or more eyecatchingly, boots with an orange heel. I see this spreading to the cat walks of Milan in the Fall - watch for it!

I shall now take a headache powder to alleviate the throbbing in my ears from the vu-vu's (I will likely dream of swarms of wasps for the next month) and prepare for Day Two, beginning at 7.30 tomorrow morning.

Just a closing note to jersey designers: football players are known to sweat, especially when playing in South African climes. Baby blue looks cute when on a dry mannequin for your promotional campaign... not so cute on a grown and sweaty man.

09 June 2010

The fallen and the flourishing

There is sad news to convey:

Our vibrant and fiery orange nemesia plant has died. I had to pluck its withered stems and roots out of the pot and throw it on the lawn waste heap. Part of the club moss, and the coral bells are rather peaked, and I think I know why: three days ago, I saw Four 'helpfully' watering the containers by the front door. From a 2L watering can! It was more water than a camel needs after the rain we'd just had. That explains why the soil in those pots always feels moist to the touch!

The garden thyme is also struggling, though it is beginning to show signs of revival - probably because J moved it to the sunny side of the front steps (and I make sure the watering can is always empty.) The Thai basil is also looking shocky (to borrow a term from the emergency room) but it seems to be clinging to life. Hooray for basil! We definitely need a second rosemary plant, and yet more Italian leaf basil. And why not? We've still got room for more pots on the steps... we'll just use the back door from now on.

Our big tomato plant, one I picked out specifically because it already had flowers on it, has lost its flowers and isn't exactly thriving, though its doing fine. I don't know if its determinate or indeterminate but I figure it will give up fruit when its good and ready to. The little patio tomato is showing great promise for a bountiful harvest, with its seven or so flowers and numerous other fuzzy spots. Yay! The sweet million tomato is growing like crazy. Each day I check it, it's at least an inch taller. That is very exciting, and rather reassuring too, that I don't kill absolutely everything I stick in the dirt.

Green stems and leaves are shooting out of the potato bin. We will soon have to mound them up further. Out of five wrinkled old spuds from our kitchen cupboard, we have 14 plants!

Three varieties of lettuce are doing well. I sowed a second batch last week, and they have already poked their heads above the soil. (lettuce... heads... get it?) The first batch needs to be thinned, but I'm nervous to do so. How can I make that decision? "You, stay. You however, sorry, this is your end. Mwah ha ha ha!"

Three stems of garlic, which share the lettuce pot, are standing tall and vigorous. Sadly, I'd planted four, so one of them didn't take. Still and all, three whole ears of garlic from four little cloves we had sitting in the fridge anyway... not a bad return.

06 June 2010

Best things

The best part of my day was going for a walk with Five. He's a good walker now, having left the crawl far behind. His style tends toward the trot, slightly pigeon-toed and so darned cute total strangers always want to cover him in kisses.

We do a short circuit, he and I. He narrates the outing, telling me what he sees, repeating it several times to make sure I heard. He used to call me 'Daya' which I loved but now he comes close to being able to say my name properly - which is cute in its own way, but makes me a little sad for days gone by.

He holds my index finger with his whole fist, arm up by his ear. Occasionally he adjusts his grip or tries holding a different finger. Each requires that we stop, and he gives it his full attention, involving a great deal of movement from his very expressive eyebrows.

Five has such a sweet little voice and a well-developed sense of humour for a little two-foot tall person. He's good company. However, he can also holler louder and longer than anyone else I've come across - and I've come across some! He's got volume and endurance locked up, baby!

Life is pretty good when you get to hold hands with the sweetest two-year old on earth.

03 June 2010

This comma packs a wallop!

What is this thing called, love?

Do you remember learning grammar in school? Parsing, or diagramming sentences was out of fashion when I was being state-educated, but Mr. Arthur, my grade 8 teacher, was an excellent teacher (he actually taught us how to study for exams) and he thought it might be useful for us to know about verbs and nouns. He led us into deeper territory where gerunds and appositives played with participles (which never dangled). I loved it. It equally challenged, fascinated, and frightened me. Remembering fine details and split-hair distinctions is hard for me, but I really get off on organizing and making things tidy.

Since deciding to take these writing classes, I’ve been looking forward to the grammar portion. I enjoy editing – not my own work, as the many mistakes here in The Lighthouse will prove – but my idea of fun is to take apart a newspaper or magazine article. I keep track of typos, plot holes, punctuation errors and week passages in the books I read. For me, this is fun.

So, I embarked on class number three eager to tear stuff up. I imagined myself fearlessly and confidently wielding a red pen, tweaking and perfecting the words of others. I was brought up short by the 400 page textbook, full of things so hazy in my memory that I may have only dreamed about them one night long ago after eating some bad chicken. Four hundred pages of ‘grammar basics’, sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice! I was about to climb a learning curve.

I am particularly fond of the comma. It is an unassuming thing, but its misuse can bring hilarious results or tragic consequences. Here are some of the helpful grammatical tips I have learned so far:

Use a comma between coordinate adjectives - but not cumulative adjectives. Commas go after initial participial phrases, before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses, to set off non-restrictive elements (those elements being clauses, phrases and appositives), to set off transitional phrases, parenthetical expressions, absolute phrases and elements expressing contrast.

If a quotation appears at the beginning of a sentence, set it off with a comma unless the quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point. If two successive sentences from the same source are interrupted by explanatory words, use a comma before the explanatory words and a period after them. Periods and commas are placed inside quotation marks, while colons and semi colons are placed outside quotation marks.

By far the best piece of advice I have found on the comma comes from the book Eats, shoots & leaves, by Lynne Truss, and it is this: don’t use commas like a stupid person!

Leonora walked on her head, a little higher than usual.

02 June 2010

Gleeful in Sohoe

Do you watch Glee?

Ok, good. Neither do I.

I can't begin to tell you how absolutely beautiful the weather has been here in Sohoe. For weeks! It's been so warm, consistently day after day, that all the flora and all the fauna has burst into song and dance (each in their species-appropriate ways)

Where normally one leaf would grow, there are two or three. A quartet of birds has become a full-fledged orchestra of song.

This morning, the squirrels were in full-out Glee mode. The were chattering in harmony, taking turns with the lead melody line. They were performing complex and perfectly synchronized choreography up and down the fence, across the patio, over and around the container plants, zigging and zagging, then pausing for dramatic effect before exiting stage left to resounding bravos from the chorus of crows.

It was a glittering, Rock Hudson, Doris Day extravaganza!

I wanted to join them.

(catch the quote?)