If I had any readers then they may have noticed my absence. Despite the aphorism about the heart growing fonder, prolonged absence rarely improves a relationship.

Mum, me and Dad. In Mwadui.

My father died this week. Death is the one absence that we can predict even if we live as if it will not happen to us or our loved ones.

My father was ill and his death did not come as a shock. It gave me time to say some last words to him. We had a troubled relationship, defined by his absence more that presence. But my last words to him were ones that I hope gave him comfort and the chance to look back on his life when he was present for me.

In his absence, I have his memory. Until I too am absent.

Ain’t blue no more

strictly personal album cover

Blues music

Do you think blues music cheered people up. All those songs about cheating, lying, being hungry and broke? I hope so.

Music seems to have the power to bring me out of my moods. And it is not always the upbeat music that does that. Often, for me, it is the darker songs that do it.  Now I know that it isn’t the music that causes my change in mood. Moods change of their own accord, tied to thinking of course.

Your musical medicine

I have loved Captain Beefheart ever since I first heard him. For me his much maligned album Strictly Personal is my go to when I am feeling down. The first track Ah feel like ahcid includes the line:

I ain’t got no blues no more I said

Then, if I listen to the whole album, the final lyrics are:

I ain’t blue no more
Wooo it’s like heaven I said I said


hot stuff

hot peppers

Serotonin is the feel good chemical that our brains release – well when we feel good. And apparently eating chilies is known to trigger this. It certainly does for me. I’m not one of those people who eats raw chilies in competitions but I do like some spice in my food.

I have eaten raw chilies in the past. One memorable occasion was when traveling around India. We were eating cauliflower curry in a little restaurant in Northern India. The kind of place that the locals eat, where food is good and they come around with chapatis and a plate of green chilies. We were the only non-Indians in there and it felt like the whole place waited to see my reaction when I bit into the hot pepper. It was very hot but my pride and macho stupidity prevented me from showing it. Good times.


Mark Twain“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

― Mark Twain

hat tip

Hat tip

What is it about hats? Men’s hats, I mean. There was a time when just about every man wore a hat. I don’t know if I’d like those days to return. Imagine if they did.

Just imagine

We’d need to learn a whole new etiquette. Tipping our hat to ladies. When and where to take the hat off. How to wear it. Straight, tilted back or forward, or at a jaunty angle.

Would men wear their hats indoors? If not we might see the return of the hat and coat check. Or hat stands?

Personally I don’t like seeing men wearing their hats in restaurants. Mostly they’re baseball hats. And if you’re past your teens there’s no excuse for wearing a baseball hat. [Perhaps if you are playing baseball, I’d allow that.]

Cars might need more headroom too. [Is that why cowboys drive big trucks, so as to have room for their stetsons?]

old style

GrandparentsI wish I’d known my grandparents better than I did. My Grandfather, seen here in a rare photo without a cigarette, died when I was ten or eleven. His main contribution to my family was teaching my sister and me to cool our soup by pouring a steady stream from your spoon back into the bowl. This caused splattering from the soup and spluttering from my Mother.

My Grandma was a refined and gentle lady who must have been a firebrand in her day. She worked in Paris when it was unusual for single women to travel, let alone work. She loved the occasional large sherry.

They liked foreign travel and escaped Montreal’s winter for warmer climes, and to visit my parents (and me) in southern Africa.

oh bucket

Level 4 water restrictions came into force yesterday. No watering of the garden unless it is with water recovered from elsewhere. So suddenly we have a bucket in our shower. All the water that’s too cold for us goes into the bucket. A simple solution that will save water for the roses. It makes you think: water is such a precious resource and we* squander it without thought.



*North Americans and probably Canadians. Here in BC we get a lot of rain.



Espresso is a ritual for me in the morning. A short shot of rich darkness to warm me and wake the little grey cells. I’ve never taken milk in coffee and can’t see the appeal of all those long milky drinks. Coffee, for me, is not something I carry around with me as I commute to work. Belly up to the counter, inhaling the aroma, almost better than the first sip. Almost. But that first taste, the brown foam parting and the warm, rich taste enveloping my taste buds.