Archive

Living here

We’ve been back from Greece for a month. In that time, I’ve been making some tiny paintings of things seen there, and some of the wonderful people we encountered.

So here they are. Each painting is 8cm x 8cm. They are done in watercolour and acrylics on paper. I’ll add new ones at the to

Icon

Icon. Panormitis Museum, Symi

Tourist

Self-portrait as a tourist, Symi

Chora wall

Street in Chora, Patmos

Dead moto

Dead moto, Symi

Monk

Monk with shopping bags and umbrella. Panormitis, Symi

Katerina Mourati

Katerina Mourati, an artist from Patmos

Aphrodite

Aphrodite, a sponge shop proprietor. Kalymnos.

Skafandros

Skafandros (diving suit), Symi.

Ferry reflections

Reflections as the ferry docks, Symi.

Hole in the Wall

Wall with hole, Symi.

Nicos

Nicos Vassilaras, a jeweller and political activist from Rhodos

Panormitis rain

Rainy day. Panormitis, Symi.

Steps down Symi

Descending steps with washing machine, Symi

Cats Symi

Garbage cats. Symi

Storm Symi

Storm brewing. Symi

Theodoris

Theodoris Eleftherios, a poet from Kalymnos.

Reflections Kalymnos

Reflections, Kalymnos.

Innocent

The Innocent. Patmos.

Latari

Lataris, a former sponge boat pilot from Kalymnos.

Version 2

Archway and window. Rhodos.

Aegean

The Aegean.

Sarandis

Sarandis.

Version 2

Chamomile coming up in the cracks, Symi.

pizza

Pizzeria, Symi.

archway

Archway, Hora, Symi.

red boat

Red boat, Panormitis, Symi.

Panormitis doorway

Doorway, Panormitis, Symi.

Panormitis scaffolds

Doorway with scaffolding, Panormitis, Symi.

Lefteris Kamitsis

Lefteris.

St George arch

Archway with tree, St George, Symi.

Blue steps

Blue stairs, Yialos, Symi.

Aegean Symi

Stony seabed, Symi.

door Symi

Doorway, Symi.

Chora Patmos

Square, Chora, Patmos

Dog Patmos

Dog with tusks, Patmos.

Blocked window

Blocked portal, Symi.

 

This time tomorrow (1 May) we’ll have entered the International Travel Tunnel, and the next morning we’ll pop out at Rhodes, Greece (1 & 2). Then we spend some time on Symi, (3 & 4) and then Patmos (5 & 6). We’ll make a side-trip to Kalymnos.

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Lago

Arrived whiskers first
chewing this and that
among blown leaves
on a winter day
at a time of our need.
Someone we couldn’t find
had abandoned him.
We took him in.

*
small damp pink rubbery
tongue, accompanied by
light touch of whiskers
lick lick lick lick

*
We gave him names:
Ngubunny, Bunyata,
Walter Benjamin Bunny
Mr Boon, Doctor Rabbit,
and so on and more.
He knew our scent names
(which we don’t.)

*
Exchanging body heat,
held in my arms
where my heart beat,
until the warmth
got through the clothes
and fur. He’d nuzzle in,
relax, lick any skin.
*
His greatest LEAP
clear
from the wardrobe,
four paces, six times his height
jack-in-a-box out of stillness
up onto the bed.

*
Loved Parrot Puffs
(fruit crackers for birds),
chocolate, raisins, dried fruit,
celery stalks, lettuce,
shoots from the avo tree.
Tolerated rabbit pellets.

*
Thumping, sometimes. Why?
Clicking claws on wooden boards.
A tiny cough or bark
his only word.
Displeasure.

*
Half-size (Netherlands dwarf),
he nipped the cats to make them preen,
pissed in my eye as he thundered by
in a firework circle on the bed,
scratch-scratch-scratched for a scrape on the rug,
ate the books, the clothes, the bag,
the shoes, the belt, the basket, the frame
of the door, gnawed at electric wires
and was generally a rascally rabbit
who taught us tidiness and vigilance.

*
A hundred and twenty moons he saw loop by,
serene in the black or through the windy clouds.
Nine times the avo tree took off its leaves
and budded flowers, and the bees were loud.
Three thousand three hundred nights he loped
inside to sniff about
and when the sun came out,
he came in, curious, as though he hoped
for novelty. Was I or the rabbit
the repetitive creature of habit?

*
Presents himself long and flat
to have the muscles beside his spine
massaged. Settles in for this.

*
Old, he no longer jumps
up to his chair for the sun.
Instead, he lolls out flat
a grey rag in a sunspot
on the floor.
At night I often see him
staring at the moon
or so it seems.
Perhaps he just craves light.

*
Guileless, un-envying
empty of hate, grudgeless,
without schemes or wiles.

*
coat softer than granny’s
fox-fur powder puff

*
Good night my old friend, I hope you sleep well,
My affection for you rings bright as a bell.
So often I have held your warm body to me,
Good night little friend, sleep deep, dream free.

*
In the night by the rutted track
Crouching, a big hare
thinks he’s a grey stone, a stone…
Four or five great leaps
into darkness. Gone
back to the eternal
pasturing of hares
on earth, among grasses.

Snapped in the fields below Kirstenbosch. Click on the images to see the insects bigger. Some of them are quite interesting. All different, all taken in one session within 100m of each other. There were lots more. As JBS Haldane observed: “If there is a God, he must be inordinately fond of beetles.”

My wife Julia brought me one of those concertina-folded Chinese books from Changsha in China. I have used it to create a long picture, which is here divided up into the folds that you would see when opening the book at any place. The picture concerns a bout with sciatica, a painful affliction of the nerves of the lower back and legs.

The painting is done in mixed media including inks, watercolours and oil pastels.

Click on an image and you’ll see them bigger, and be able to page through.

 

29:9:2015 – 1:10:2015

Got up in the night to pee. Easing the curtain aside I saw the Blood Moon Eclipse beginning. Later the room was sooty black.

Blood Moon EclipseThese pictures were taken by my friend Neil Rusch, who is a brilliant photographer and who got up in the night to photograph the lunar eclipse in Cape Town.


black feather

Found a black feather in the veld, and set it standing up in the velcro of my cap, at the back. There are two pairs of black swans who come here in the spring. Walked down the road towards the escarpment, and turned into the veld towards a set of shelters with (probably Khoi) rock art on the walls, where the feather seemed to leap out of my cap and fall at my feet, startling me as it brushed past my face like a dark moth. I left the feather on a ledge below the paintings as an offering.

IMG_1550

The next day, walking in the veld, I came across these two rather distinctive feathers and again tucked them into my cap band. When I got inside, they were no longer there. Later, sitting at the dining-room table I saw a feather tumbling in the wind right outside. I went out to see, and it was my two feathers. I thought I should keep them.

Two feathers


Below the cottage the veld is covered in white pear petals from the ancient stand of trees. The petals have an uncanny resemblance, in size, shape and colour, to the milky quartz scrapers left here by the Khoi/San in great numbers.

Pear Petals & Scraper

Stream & Pear Petals

The petals on the surface of the stream resemble the ant-roads, which at this time of year become choked with tiny white petals which they harvest. They are black ants with shiny bodies, and come in several models and sizes (including big soldiers with fierce pincers) according to their function and status, like the output of a car factory.


Hare

A big hare right outside the window in the early morning, startled, I think, by the sound of the camera. Its colour perfectly matches the ambience.


Porcupine quills

I think we’re in for a dry summer, and the winter has had scant rain. The dams in the Western Cape are low. Nevertheless, many flowers. The wild is always optimistic.

Gansogies


When you look at the shaved patches in the veld that are (or were) fields, you realise how much more efficient the natural system is at producing biomass.

Fields through a ruin. Click to enlarge.


The poplars would like to colonise everything, but they are confined to a fairly narrow strip which is reliably damp. They send hundreds of suckers up but only a few make it as trees. They’re really one organism, with one genetic makeup.

Poplar Grove

Fine grass has sprung up among the poplars – the brightest possible green – making the whole resemble a sacred grove with the trunks of the trees forming the pillars of an implied temple. The trees are now covered with their cat-tail-like flowers, which drop and lie like hairy caterpillars in the grass. The first pale leaf buds are just opening, though one tree, in no obvious way different, already has a full compliment of dark green leaves. Odd, since they are all identical, and share very similar conditions, and perhaps even share roots.


Perfect footprints in the mud of the already-drying stream, each a negative of the foot that made them. Maybe a small fox?

Footprints: Click to enlarge


There is a ruined stone house with one room, the walls crumbled to shoulder height, the mud long gone from between the stones. On one corner of this structure a termite nest is fixed to the wall. On previous visits it has looked like a skull, with two eye sockets and a mouth dug out by aardvarks. This year it is a smooth mound again, the termites having repaired their structure.

Ruin with Termite Mound


Cap