We have several, but one, little known although quite typical of Baby boomers, stands out. It’s ironic that the same generation that includes Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, also includes me, Anne, Tom, Marcy, and countless other perfectly normal, intelligent people, who describe themselves as technophobic. M on the other hand, would have been right at home in Silicon Valley’s heyday; he embraces technology with a passion. But Facebook? And Twitter? Well… we’ll see.
It took me a few years and an expensive six-month course in the basics of computing before I would even switch on a PC. Even then, I only used it as a word processor. After moving to another country and getting back into the work force, I graduated to the Internet. And then we came home to Africa…We left the UK just as the Economic Crisis – America’s old news – was impacting heavily on the rest of the world.
Slow...cautious...so...do I look fast to you?
Fast forward… Now selling property, limping along with the rest of the world, waiting for The Recovery, we realize age will be catching up with us one of these days. With this fact hanging over our heads, we have been exploring methods to make money in ways that are smarter, not harder. So M built another website for us – more commercial– all about The Magical Mythical Kingdom of Free. I write about all of our adventures and misadventures in Cyberland and how M started webbing back in the day and other important stuff to know if you need a website. Wanting to give readers some entertainment as well as information, I decided (as an Internet virgin) to actually make a website myself. So I’m going to write a tutorial there to tell how it’s done. How to build a website from scratch while I’m writing! I’ve never done anything like this before – I have this Blog on Blogger that I set up (wow, did I ever think I was smart) years ago. But, and here’s the rub, Google Blogger just about does everything for you. Building a website is another story altogether! Scary…I Know! Come and enjoy the bumpy ride!
South African "Danger Ahead" Sign
Remember, I’m the non-techie here and M is not going to help. This one I’ll be doing all by myself. Step by step, I’ll share everything that happens, describe exactly what it takes. You’ll know how easy or how hard it is, for me with my almost non-existent, skill set. Anyone who wants to follow, every time I update the saga I’ll post it here and if you’re laughing so hard you can’t read…well, you’re welcome! Remember, laughter is the best medicine. And please don’t forget, I offer the simple minded – not for professionals – method of web building! KISS! (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
I was born in South Africa and lived here until I was nine, with my grandparents. At nine, I was sent to California to join my mom in Hollywood (she was a 20th Century Fox actress). There I went to school; junior high, high school, ending at UCLA. Before I completed university, I was in a car accident; after I recovered, I used the insurance settlement to move back to SA: Back in SA, (re)met and married M (born in SA), we farmed, M made handcrafted furniture and we had two sons. We then spent a year in the US (Missouri, Oklahoma) while my husband studied agriculture. Back to SA to the farm, together we ran various projects, opened a gift shop, started a plant nursery, did property development, had another two sons, opened a ceramics studio, created a boutique hotel, had two antique shops, M built computers, I made hammocks. When the children left home, we packed our lives into a crate and moved to the UK where we were homeless for a time, worked in various jobs and ran our own tearoom and antique shop in Scotland. Back in Africa, we explored all over, settling on the incredible Cape west coast, where we are now. Together M and I made many decisions; choices that took us along “the road less traveled”.
Fifteen years ago, we lived in vastly different circumstances than we do now. Life then, a hundred-year old mansion filled with antiques to a seaside cottage now. In between (the last fifteen years), we have “started over” several times, been homeless (through no fault of our own), lived (slept) on London buses for some weeks, owned our own businesses, been robbed twice, worked for others, and lived in a garage. Except for the bus (and it had its moments too) and the robberies, we enjoyed most of the adventures…Scary but when you realize that “you can do it” ordinary fear falls away and anything seems possible. Very empowering!
I know we’re not unique; our story is different but by no means, extraordinary. I write about it for these reasons. The first is to preserve our personal family history; this is mainly for our growing tribe of grandchildren – most of the story lives only in our memories as all our papers, family photographs, and memorabilia of previous generations were destroyed in one of the robberies. My family history exists only with myself and my mother; all the other family members are dead. M’s family history was contained in dozens and dozens of documents, deeds, books and pictures, also gone. Unfortunately, M’s family is fragmented and all the original protagonists are either dead or very nearly. In a family divided by feuds, jealousy, bitterness and acrimony and bound together in a destructive, polluted destiny, history has taken on various interpretations as suits each individuals' cause. With no axe to grind, having walked away a free man - the first in four generations - M (and I) would only like to record the important points, the bare facts, preserved for any future descendants who may be interested.
So much to tell… But first, more of the where before I get to the why’s and hows. We currently live on the dramatic coastline known as Africa’s Atlantic seaboard a.k.a. The Cape West Coast. It has history, atmosphere, beauty and adventure and boasts some of the most famous attractions Africa has to offer, starting with Table Mountain. The west coast begins just outside of Cape Town, stretching all the way northwards into Namibia as far as the Angolan border. We have made a home here in a tiny seaside village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. On one side, Saint Helena Bay's white sandy, beaches, on the other, wheat fields and fertile croplands to the Cederberg Mountains in the north.
Southeast, lie the famed wine lands of the Cape but wine country is all around us, as climate changes occur, more land is planted to vineyards, olives and herbs. Wild flowers from here to Namaqualand and abundant wildlife, both on land and in water are characteristic of the region.
Flower season is coming to a close although there are still random patches of incredible colour. I seem to think that this year, the flowers have lasted longer – the official line is from July ‘til sometime in September but it all is very dependent on the rainfall each year. M snapped some pics of the ‘hood a few weeks ago. These photos feature pink, mauve and red flowers but there are also orange, yellow and white (mostly finished now) with the blues being rare. None of these have been planted but occur naturally in the dunes and plains. This dry and arid area (known as The Sandveld – the sand plain) is remarkably fertile and this is borne out by the abundance of wheat and potatoes that are harvested on local farms.
This has been rolling around in my head for a while, years actually. (Please forgive a little rant) When I started this journal, I was experiencing that feeling of invisibility that many women get with approaching middle age. Writing here helped me feel like I still had a voice – and with that voice – a face!
Now more and more women (of a certain age) are standing up (metaphorically) and demanding to be counted; the Internet has given us a platform, and the word-on-the-street is “I AM VISABLE”! Finally there are individuals out there saying, “this is us, this is what we look like – we mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, daughters – we are not invisible anymore”. These "ordinary" women are just confirming how "extraordinary" we all can be. I want to link to two brave, ground-breaking women who have addressed this issue, each with her own brand of flair and style. Click on these links to see -
Because these blogs put such a positive spin on what has been largely a taboo subject (aging), I wish I had seen them several years ago when I suddenly realized - one particularly awful morning (with shock, amazement, horror and trauma) - that I was “old”. I was 51 then and working in an office in London where the average age was probably 26 and this sudden awakening totally floored me. Being homesick, missing my children and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) might have made it worse but there it was – just plain ugly! Had there been any visible examples of sassy, smart, attractive, capable, vital women around, I think this realization would have been a lot less traumatic. But all the really visible, role models were young, anorexic, androgynous girls, (and apparently, in at least one instance, a boy).
Popular media has much to answer for but I also think that we – our generation – should be ashamed of ourselves. I mean, we bought into the cr*p (pardon my French), youth obsession, big time and just took the punches – “Old? Oh, I guess so, after all I’ll be forty next year. Pass the hair colour and a pot of that wonder wrinkle remover and if that doesn’t work, there’s always Botox!” Should we not be angry, even militant? Time to stand up and say “I am a woman” and part of what’s wrong with the world today is that the collective wisdom, intuition, understanding and plain old common sense we women have gained through life experiences is treated like so much rubbish. My history? Erase it from my face, erase it from my body, then erase it from my mind!
My point is this; the general perception of aging is one of stereotypes and rigidly defined clichés, bar the occasional reference to some fabulous celebrity. I am blown away to see my contemporaries – baby-boomers too – being so entirely “present” and looking so good in the process! Which leaves me asking the question “why has growing older generally been given such a bad rap? OK, I make some assumptions here, in that I’m talking about women who can embrace life as a gift (not a curse) and explore every moment for the joy within. These are obviously people who have not let themselves be defined by anyone else’s parameters but make their own rules as they go.
Image of Carmen Dell'Orefice courtesy of Wikipedia
Africa’s West Coast –Wild, mysterious, hidden, lonely, arid, and secretive; oh, what stories this land can tell…Let me take you on a quick trip - an overview - of our new stomping grounds.
Namaqualand Flowers in Spring
Travel from twenty-first century Cape Town, heading north, up the coastal road.Leaving the edge of the suburbs and Koeberg Nuclear Power Station behind, you head out through the dunes and the scrub toward the playground of Langebaan.Here in the sparkle of the Lagoon, the twenty-first century meets the stone-age.Long ago, between the two World Wars, a lone man, tired of the haste and noise of the world, lived on a little boat in the Langebaan Lagoon for thirty years; he found the peace he craved in this stark and vacant place.Today the towns of Langebaan and Saldanha have replaced the wild veld.
For some, Langebaan only stands at the beginning of the adventure; there are fishing villages to visit, flowers to see, beaches to explore, mountains to climb, caves to find. In the beauty of the Cederberg, retrace the footsteps of the original inhabitants who sheltered in the caves and left the paintings recording their lives. At the top of Saint Helena Bay, you can walk the long, white sandy beach and watch the Dolphins playing in the surf. Elands Bay marks the northern end of Saint Helena Bay, the largest bay in Africa and only one of three bays in the world where the sun rises and also sets.
Langebaan Lagoon (seen from the West Coast Nature Reserve)
On further north, Lamberts Bay celebrates the Crayfish, so plentiful in these waters, with a yearly festival. Further up the coast to Strandfontein and on to Lutzville where the microclimate allows for the making of fine wine. The floral carpets of Namaqualand are waiting, but not for long.
Ahead lie the wonders of the diamond fields and the Augrabies Falls, where the mighty Orange River tumbles into the Atlantic Ocean. This is the frontier of South Africa, a place where one amazing country flows effortlessly into the next. And on to the Namib, but that’s another story, for another day…
Photos thanks to Wikipedia - I seem to have forgotten how to do hyperlinks - working on it!