Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today I got one of those emails I have been dreading. My great aunt has died. I know that sounds like a distant relative, but in many ways she took on the role of grandmother to me. I'm incredibly grateful that the last time I spoke to her she was telling me that she was proud of me for doing well, and for coming here and studying, and experiencing things she could only dream of. And I am really grateful to be doing this, and so I can't really justify wishing I was closer to home right now, even though I do.
So in addition to that special little legacy, I thought I'd just record a few of the things I will always associate with my great aunt are my memories of her beautiful garden, which was a wonderland to me as a child: labyrinthine, filled with the biggest nasturtiums, robust agapanthus (offspring of which now reside in my garden in Johannesburg, and my parent's garden in the Drakensberg), a huge gingko tree, a sweet-scented Jacaranda, the flowers of which she would allow to stay on the driveway as they fell, because she loved the colour, violets with leaves that covered my two hands together, and a statue of Wendy; the beautiful wedding cakes she used to decorate, with brightly coloured icing flowers she once showed me how to make; enourmous, rich, desperately unhealthy, and completely irresistible meals that we always left loaded with take-home leftovers. I think in her home I experienced the style of hospitality and family-centered sociality that I most strongly associate with Afrikaner culture.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Maria von Trapp goes home

No, it isn't the Maria played by Julie Andrews, but one of her step-children. Still, it's a lovely story.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Great American Passtime

I have seen a lot of baseball in the last few weeks. Three games in ten days to be exact. And for someone raised on cricket and rugby (though I'm hardly a sports fanatic), I must admit to really liking baseball. It's simpler than cricket, and while less exciting than rugby, I certainly wasn't lacking for entertainment. The first live game I saw was with the whole of NYChoirgirl's family, at Yankee stadium. It was probably the only time I will go to this stadium, before the new one replaces it, but for NYChoirgirl's family, it's a yearly tradition. We had great seats, high up, but right behind home base, and it was a great place from which to learn how the game works. NYChoirgirl filled out a score card, and watching her, and receiving periodic explanations from her and her mother really made more sense of it to me. And I was delighted by all the music. A live organist played little snatches of familiar pieces of music throughout the game, and people respond with near military precision. I was quite proud as I learned the responses well enough to sing (and clap) along. We sang the Star Spangled Banner before the game, God Bless America after the 7th inning, followed by Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and YMCA when the sand on the diamond was smoothed over. It was all very entertaining.
The following Friday we went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium, and while the seats were just about as high up, this time they were closer to first base. The Mets game was even more laid back and entertaining than the Yankees game, with all the between innings activities, though because the Mets aren't my team (I'm a Yankees fan by default) the Yankees game was more exciting. Once again, though, the music thoroughly entertained me.
Then, a week later, we went to a minor league game on Staten island. This time the stadium was much smaller, and so were right near to the field, between home and first base. While these players clearly weren't on quite the same level as the major league players we had seen previously, the game was absolutely riveting, with the Staten Island Yankees scoring, the Batavian Muckdogs (yes, that really is their name) leveling up, and then overtaking them, and right near the end, the Yankees again leveling, and then winning. The game was also followed by fireworks, first in the distance on Manhattan (which we could see through the mist across the bay) and then right at the stadium.
We're planning on going to another game at the Cyclones stadium at Coney Island, but perhaps in a couple of weeks time....
So a few little to end this post:
Clearly the link between sports and music has historic precedents. Here is an article from the Mail and Guardian on music at the Olympic Games.
Anything you ever wanted to know about baseball history.
The Baseball Music Project.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Girl Scouts in America are being required to pay royalties for campfire songs.