Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag and grief, but I am not recovering well from Trumpocalypse. I tried to put on a brave face with my gratitude list, but the truth is I’m horrified and I’ve lost a piece of my identity. I often remark upon the fact that when living in South Africa, the first thing everyone notices about me is my American-ness. This has never really bothered me. I’ve always been more or less proud of my country. I’ve been happy to be known as an American in Quirky Johannesburg. But now, suddenly, my relationship with America feels like a relationship with a spouse who I just discovered has been cheating. Who is this country I thought I knew so well? How could you humiliate me like this, America? What did I do wrong? How did I miss the signs that we were growing apart? How could you leave me, and how will I cope without you? Worst of all, what will happen to the millions of other betrayed spouses who are still living with you? What will happen to the entire world? We trusted you, America, and you’ve let us down. Fortunately, I live in Melville. A sign outside Junkie Charity Store, one of my favorite hangouts in […]
From the Melville Cat: This is a periodic update for my fans, to tell you that I am doing well. It is springtime in Johannesburg, the weather is fine, and I am spending lots of time outside, calling to my feline friends. I especially enjoy calling to my feline friends late at night, just outside the bedroom, with long, dramatic, mournful meows. I think Heather and Ray enjoy my calls as well. Heather conducted a photoshoot with me last week, which I quite enjoyed. Here are my favorite photos from the shoot. That is all that I have to say. Heather asked me to tell you that she is going away for a week and may not have time to blog during her travels. She will update you on her experiences upon her return. In the meantime, I will be at home enjoying extra servings of roast chicken and catnip with Ray. Thank you and good day. Meeoow.
I recently announced a storytelling project I’m working on called My Favorite Joburg People. I chose four people in Joburg, each of whom has an amazing story to tell, and interviewed them and shot their portraits. I’ll be presenting the stories and portraits at an upcoming event called Translating Joburg – Storytellers, and also publishing them on my blog. This is the first of the four stories. These stories are longer than my normal blog posts. Michelle de Villiers Michelle at Junkie Charity Shop, May 2016. I met Michelle through a cat. When I first moved to Joburg in 2010, a gray cat started hanging around in my back garden. My neighbor’s cat chased the gray cat mercilessly and I chased him too, trying to rid our garden of the incessant feline fights. But the gray cat kept coming back. My boyfriend Jon and I finally started feeding the gray cat, who we called Squeak. Jon was not a huge cat fan but Squeak won him over. Squeak started sleeping in our house. We took Squeak to the vet and learned that Squeak was a he, not a she, as we originally thought. We began to think of Squeak as ours. One day […]
Last week Wendy Carstens, the chairperson of the Friends of the Melville Koppies, asked me to take a portrait of her and her husband, David, at the top of the Koppies. The portrait is a gift for their daughter’s birthday. I have huge respect for Wendy and the work she does maintaining and promoting the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, with a small amount of money and a massive amount of determination. So I was honored when she asked me to take the portrait, but also nervous. I don’t do many assignments like this and I was scared of messing it up — that Wendy and David wouldn’t like any of the pictures I took and I would feel like a miserable failure. Luckily that didn’t happen. Wendy and David at the top of Melville Koppies Central, with the northern suburbs and Sandton City behind them. This is the picture they chose. Another option, with Melville in the background. Wendy liked this one too. This one was my favorite but I don’t think they wanted such a close-up shot. Anyway, this is a super-short post. But I thought I’d show off some pictures I’m proud of and remind you that the Melville Koppies is (are? Subject-verb agreement […]
Up until 18 months ago, the east side of the southernmost block on Melville’s 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue) was a merry-go-round of opening and closing restaurants and shops. During the six years that I’ve lived in Melville I remember (just off the top of my head) a combination-cupcake-flower shop, a Scottish kilt shop, a bead shop (which moved around the corner), a pizza place, a bland café, an antique shop, a print supply shop, and a bridal shop (where I never spotted a single bride, or even a customer, in the two-plus years it was there), all open and close on that small stretch of street. This is generally the way things roll in Melville. But that half a block has recently become a hotbed of culinary, rock-and-roll trendiness and I have high hopes that the shops and restaurants there now will hang around for a while. I happened to eat at two of the restaurants on that block this week, and thought I’d do quickie reviews of them both. Hell’s Kitchen Hell’s Kitchen was the first new place to move into the merry-go-round block in late 2014, along with Freedom Hair, which I’ve reviewed before. Hell’s Kitchen […]
Do you live in Johannesburg? Do you have a garden, or know someone who does? Do you have R400 to spend? If so, then you need this: Hadeda tire planter from Yada Yada in Melville. If you don’t live in Joburg and don’t know what a hadeda is, read here. But these hadedas are not easily transportable, so unless you already live in Joburg (or at least in South Africa) then you probably can’t have one. If you do live in Joburg, then make your way to Melville’s 7th Street and buy a hadeda. They’re made of recycled materials, they have a built-in irrigation system, and they can double as large hand-bags. Ray photobombs Hadeda. Ray carried Hadeda as a handbag for a while after we bought her. Hadeda in another position at Yada Yada. We did a whole photoshoot with her. If you’re not into hadedas (some people aren’t, although I’ve never understood those people) then you can also buy an owl. Best of all, Hadeda looks fabulous in our garden (as I’m sure she would in every South African garden) and she makes me happy every time I look at her, which is at least 50 times a day. The red petunias match Hadeda’s beak. […]
From the Melville Cat: Dear Readers, Heather often says that you are eager for news about me and wish that I would post more often. I must apologize but, to tell the truth, my life is not terribly eventful. I eat, sleep, and walk laps around the swimming pool. (Cats do not swim.) I am not as young as I once was, and don’t get up to as many adventures as I did in my youth. I have little appetite for murdering birds these days, and prefer to sit quietly in the sun. I no longer fight with the other cats in the neighborhood, as I’ve realized it’s much easier to ignore them. No fighting means no injuries, which means no imprisonment inside the blasted Cone of Shame. This is good, both for me and my humans. My fighting days are in the past. I prefer not to risk my extraordinary good looks. I also learned a valuable lesson last year when I briefly absconded — Heather insists I “ran away” although I maintain that I was just on holiday — from my Melville domain. The holiday didn’t work out as I planned, and it was far more trouble than it was worth. It was nice to see […]
UPDATE (OCTOBER 2017): I’m sad to report that Melville’s Turkish restaurant has closed. I believe the Mayfair location is still open. A few months ago, the corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue in Melville was a depressing place. One side housed a tired-looking sushi restaurant that no one seemed to go to and the other side housed the boarded-up remains of a bar called the Dollar Table. Looking south on 7th Street from the corner of 3rd Avenue. I would often walk past that corner and bemoan the state of things, especially the abandoned Dollar Table. (If you live in Melville then you probably know the recent history of the Dollar Table. If not, believe me when I say that the Dollar Table was a horrible place and everyone in Melville was happy when it shut down. But the boarded up remains were a depressing reminder of what used to be.) Such a prominent space on 7th Street, totally wasted. But I’m pleased to report that the corner of 7th and 3rd has received a makeover and is now my favorite place to go in Melville. Turkish Shawarma & Grill, the newest addition to Melville’s 7th Street. Turkish Shawarma & Grill, […]
One of the most rewarding things about being a blogger in Johannesburg is the feedback I get from Joburg expats and visitors. Over the years I’ve gotten many nice messages from people who used my blog to help orient themselves when visiting or moving to Joburg, and even from people who used my blog to help them decide to move here in the first place. Several of those people have become lifelong friends. Potential Joburg expats frequently ask me about the best ways to connect with new friends and find things to do here. When I moved to Joburg in 2010, I didn’t have access to many resources for meeting people and it took me a while to make friends. I had a South African boyfriend to show me around the city, but except for him I didn’t get to know many people right away. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but looking back I realize that my first six to nine months in Jozi were pretty lonely. Unfortunately I didn’t know about Internations back then. Internations is a worldwide community for expats, with chapters in cities all over the world and dedicated online portals for each city where […]
From the Melville Cat: Well, this is awkward. It seems that I am missing. I, of course, know exactly where I am. But Heather and Ray do not. I realize this doesn’t make much sense. But there you have it. Have you seen me? I am my own cat. Heather does her best to control my movements but she has always known that her efforts are ultimately futile. I go where I want, when I want. This is, after all, how I came to live with Heather in the first place. At any rate, I cannot tell you where I am myself because that is how I roll. But Heather and Ray are worried about me — they haven’t seen me in more than a week. So if you’ve seen me or have some idea of where I am, maybe you could let Heather know by leaving a comment on this blog or messaging @2summers on Twitter or Instagram. Meow. PS: You can see more photos of me on my own Instagram account. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ From Heather: Smokey is making light of the situation. […]
From the Melville Cat: Heather asked me to write a blog post this weekend. Apparently my fans have been asking her about my wellbeing. She says they want to hear the full story of our move from my perspective. My initial response was, “What move?” We moved? I had quite forgotten about that. Then I thought some more and yes, I vaguely recall this. I used to live somewhere else, perhaps a month or two ago. I remember now that I was very hesitant to leave that place. I’m not sure why. But I musn’t disappoint my loyal fans. I will recount the moving story to the best of my recollection. The story begins on a Saturday. Heather woke up early but she did not open the window for me to go outside, as she usually does. Instead she loaded me into my crate and carried me to to the doorway of the Lucky 5 Star. Before she carried me out the door, she put my crate down and walked to the other room. I think she was crying. When she returned to the doorway, Heather said, “Kitty, this is the last time we’ll be together in this house.” She seemed very sad. I […]
Dear fans of the Melville Cat, I know that you have been waiting to hear from me, eager to learn how I’m faring in the ordeal I explained to you in my previous post. I apologize for the silence but I’ve had many matters to attend to that are more important than blogging. I’m busy establishing my new domain. I will explain this photo in my next post. Until then, I’ll let you formulate your own theories. Also, I don’t have much time to write because Heather, my typing assistant, is leaving today for a place called Mauritius. How rude. Why she would want to leave my magical new domain so soon is beyond me. But all is not lost. I plan to take advantage of Heather’s absence, cementing my domain and training Ray, my second assistant, to properly meet my needs. He has much to learn. I will also engage in tree-climbing practice. My climbing prowess is strong but I need to hone my technique. Fear not, fans. All is well. Until next time.