Friday, September 28, 2012


The chard seems to have grown inches in a few days. The question is, will I be able to leave it alone to make those long, gorgeous stalks, or will I nibble away at the edges like a rabbit, or a roof rat.

I don't think we have roof rats. Le chat noir is on guard. Roof rats he would slay, chop-chop. But he will have nothing to do with squirrels. He thinks they are bad juju. Must be something in his past.

I am training myself to be a better eye witness. I scrutinize the plants with an intense scrute and then the next day I scrutinize them again to see if anything has changed. A missing leaf? A cut stalk? The squirrel changes things. Dig, dig, digdigdigdig.

I am a terrible eye witness. I know. I've had two policeman, armed to the teeth, padded in bullet proof vests, sitting on my parents' solid couch in my father's study looking at me with undisguised contempt as I tried to answer their questions about two burglary suspects. It was very embarrassing, and very sobering. I was the one who had a feeling that something odd was happening next door - and it was - but could I tell the cops what the two young people were wearing? No. I had not the first idea. I just knew they were going to do something.

And so I train myself. On the roof, looking at the Swiss chard. It helps that it stays in one place. I practise on the street,  noting baseball caps and colours of dresses, and what jackets could be dropped in a hurry, and what is underneath. Like the man stealing plants at Kirstenbosch; when he noticed me noticing him, he took off the jacket and left smartly. It's not the clothes I see. It's the way someone walks, the way their head moves, or the look in their shoulders. Those things are interesting.

It's like tasting wine. I have the wrong language for it. Vince and I crack each other up with our wine tasting notes. He's pretty good. But all I can do is describe wine in terms of music. I taste notes. I don't taste or smell cherries and black pepper. I taste high and low, and lyrical and brassy and it's a string section with a little trombone action thrown in. Major key.

Well, it is Friday.

I never promised all sense, all the time.

I deliver my book's manuscript on Monday. My kind editor has given me a few day's breathing room beyond that for pictures, which is wonderful. The last six months have charged past.

I can tell you how they felt, but don't ask me what they were wearing.


  1. Ah, a kindred spirit at the lineup. I've always said that I'd be the perfect person for you to commit a crime in front of because, unless you were wearing something that I really liked and would promise to wear it to the lineup, I'd be useless.
    WONDERFUL post, and hooray for your book!

  2. "an intense scrute." That takes me back.

    I only remember things I'm interested in, which can be tricky, especially work-wise.

  3. Love your take on wine tasting. I offer slices of cake and pie in 'minutes' to the amusement of my daughter, who incidentally, now does the same... :)

  4. Congratulations on the delivery of your new manuscript! I suggest a round for the house, with lots of cello and maybe just a touch of woodwind. *grin*

  5. Donatella - don't say what kind of woodwind, but if we go with reeds, might that be...a Bordeaux-style red?

  6. I "hear" music in colours.

    Will the book be available outside the USofA?

  7. dinahmow - yes, I have heard of people being able to do that...isn't there a piece composed on that principle? Must Google.

    I believe the book will be available internationally, but I do not know the details, yet. As one of Estorbo's two favoured cat sitters I shall save you a copy.

  8. This is v. exciting news abut the book.

    I using the the plant and run method.

    That way if they don't do well it isn't my fault.

    Box choy seems to thrive under such lack of concern, not so the beets.

    not that I'm looking.

    xo J,

  9. ugh never thought about roof rats before, but it makes sense. Can't wait to read that manuscript :)

  10. Loved that post- I'm the same, details elude me, but I'm sharp with a 'sense' of something.
    Can't wait to see your book this side x

  11. Funny you should say that about Bordeaux. For years I thought they were the reedy ones and the Bourgognes were more cello or even bass. But my oenophile husband finally dissuaded me from that notion: it's the burgundies that are reedish and the Bordeaux, well-aged, that pack a more full-bodied basso punch. Myself, I like an orchestra from which to sip (minus the stupid little Pinot Grigios on their pennywhistles). Congrats on finishing the book.


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