This guest post was inspired by the Blog of Otis. Hello, I’m Squeak. I also have another name, but I’m keeping it a secret for now. This is me, Squeak. (Photo courtesy of Joe.) Heather asked me to write a post for her blog so I can tell you about my extraordinary achievement. Every cat gets nine lives, but we’re supposed to live them one at a time, not concurrently. Only the most charming, intelligent cats are able to live two lives at once. I am one of those cats.
Dear Mom: This post is going to freak you out. Please read at your discretion. And please don’t write me out of your will. Love, Heather ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ I’m in a taxi with my dear friends Claire and Michelle, riding toward a bohemian neighborhood in northwest D.C. called Adams Morgan. We’re meeting friends for drinks at a legendary blues bar called Madam’s Organ. Madam’s Organ, in Adams Morgan.
I’m leaving town for a few days and probably won’t have internet access. Before I go, I want to share a few recent pictures from the garden at the Lucky 5 Star. Before moving to South Africa, the only aloes I’d ever seen were aloe vera plants — droopy house plants that people keep around for when they burn themselves. Here there are hundreds of different kinds of aloes, ranging from small, cabbage-sized plants to massive trees. I’ve also recently learned that aloes grow tall, flaming orange blooms in early winter.
On a recent visit to the Melville Visitors Center, I noticed a small brochure for a place called Lindfield House and was immediately captivated. It’s a Victorian home in Auckland Park, a suburb adjacent to Melville, which has been furnished as an authentic 19th-century English estate. The owner, Katharine Love, has lived there for half a century and spent her entire life restoring the house. In addition to being Katharine’s home, Lindfield House is also a museum. Katharine does personalized tours of the house, while explaining what life was like among the upper classes in Victorian England. Katharine also serves one of the best afternoon teas in town. There is no finer illustration of quirky Johannesburg than Lindfield House, and no better way for Joe and I to spend a couple hours of quality time with my mom. Lindfield House is a difficult place to describe in words, and Katharine herself is equally difficult to describe. So I’ll just share the photos and say that my visit to Lindfield is one of the most interesting things I’ve done since moving to South Africa. I would recommend the tour even if you have no interest whatsoever in Victorian culture. After this […]
I launched 2Summers about six months ago and I’m nearing 10,000 hits. (If I’m lucky, I might reach 10,000 after publishing this post.) It’s a small feat, I know, but reaching that milestone is a pretty cool thing for a regular person like me. More than a fourth of those 10,000 hits happened on one day in November, when a post about my trip to Swaziland was featured in “Freshly Pressed” on the WordPress homepage. I was so overwhelmed when that happened that I never thanked WordPress for choosing me, so I’ll do that now. I also want to thank everyone who read, subscribed to, and commented on my blog that day and in the following days. And lastly, thanks to the old-timers who’ve been reading 2Summers from the beginning.
Sunday was Joe’s birthday. We spent the afternoon at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens (not to be confused with the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens), a couple of miles from Melville. It’s a big park that includes a lake created by the Emmarentia Dam. We strolled around looking at trees and watching dogs fetch sticks from the water. Then we visited the park’s rose garden, where roses were blooming in every color imaginable. Sunday afternoon at the lake.
Sandwiched between a week in Durban and a week in Lesotho, Joe and I are wrapping up one hectic (but fun) week at home. We’re leaving again tomorrow morning and I have no time to write a proper account of this week’s events. Here is a brief synopsis. 1) We had our first overseas visitor: my colleague Evan Von Leer from Washington D.C. He spent a few days with us in Melville while on his way to Lesotho and stayed at the Die Agterplaas B&B, which is a block up the street. The Agterplaas is a great guesthouse – I would stay there myself if I didn’t already live here.
I still have more to say about Lesotho, but I’ve been home for almost a week and I want to share a couple of stories from the home front. First, a word on furniture. Our house is filled with Joe’s furniture because, as you know, I brought almost nothing with me. I’ve been trying to accumulate as little as possible since I arrived; I just worked hard to divest myself of things and I’m not quite ready to start investing again. However, when we got back from Lesotho last weekend, I discovered that I had actual work to do and nowhere to do it. It was time for a purchase. I needed a small desk, or at least something to put my computer on other than my lap.
UPDATE (OCTOBER 2017): Alas, Café Mexicho has closed down. It had a good run though. Fortunately there are several good alternatives around town — read here. I’m kind of sick today. I won’t go into detail but it seems that Café Mexicho hasn’t finished with me just yet. I’m subsisting on small quantities of bland food, rooibos tea, and Energade – a South African energy drink that I find much more palatable than Gatorade. It’s too bad that I’m not feeling well because it’s ridiculously beautiful today. Sun shining, birds singing, trees flowering, etc. But the greatest thing about this house is that you’re never too sick to sit on the deck and stare at the garden. The jasmine blooming along the wall smells intoxicating. Jasmine flowers. They smell even better than they look.
We’ve christened the house with a name: the Lucky 5 Star. Thanks to Lucky, living here is like staying in a five-star hotel. Lucky in the garden, in front of his favorite fern tree. Lucky, whose name is actually Mashudu in his native language of Venda, had a birthday two days before I arrived. He’s 33. He has been living and working here for a decade as an employee of Horst, our landlord. Lucky’s father also worked for Horst, which is how Lucky got this job after moving to Joburg from his family’s home near the Zimbabwe border.
I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I should say a few words about this place where I’m living. Johannesburg (Joburg, Jo’burg, Jozi, JHB) is the largest city in South Africa and the fourth-largest in Africa. Interestingly, South Africa has three official capital cities but Johannesburg is not one of them. Joburg is known for crime, and the abundance of security fences and armed guards bears that out. It’s also known for trees: Joburg has more than 10 million trees and is the largest man-made forest in the world. It’s a sprawling city, comprised of the Central Business District (CBD) and a web of suburbs and townships. “Suburb” has a different meaning here than in the U.S. – Joburg suburbs are more like neighborhoods than towns.