When I started learning about blogging, one piece of advice I found was: “Tell people what your blog is about”. I’ve tried several times to do this by encapsulating, in word picture or parable form, what seems at the time of writing to be the very heart of the matter.

It’s like trying to catch a greased pig. Every attempt to define this blog by writing about it changes it. And I’m getting fed up with baring my soul in sidebar and then having to delete what I’ve written because it Just Doesn’t Fit. I want to be done with that and get on with the act of simply writing the blog!

I thought maybe I’d just skip this part, and then I realized that every time I read a blog post I enjoy I skip to the “About Me” to decide whether I want to hit the Follow button.

So now I’m just going to stick a fork in the pig and throw it straight onto the braai without further fuss. (By the way, this is a truly terrible image. I have strong feelings about commercial pig farming, which I will probably share sometime, and never eat supermarket pork products because of those. So I just want you to know, this is a pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, non-GMO, humanely done-in Happy Pig, okay?)

This picture is to take your mind off the pig image. My grandson at the Columbia River, near our home.

This image is to take your mind off the pig image. My grandson at the Columbia River, near our home.

I started this blog because in more than half a century I still haven’t figured out how to answer the question “Where do you want to be five years from now?” and in consequence I find myself not entirely sure of where I am, or what I think about being here, or which way to point myself next. Some moments I know I am rich beyond measure, others I am overwhelmed with grief for broken dreams and missed opportunities. This blog is a place I have made for myself to unpack my baggage and decide what I want to keep, and what should go.

I write because that’s what I do, and when I stopped doing it for a while I did myself harm. But while I greatly admire those bloggers who can remain consistently entertaining / challenging / thought-provoking / on topic, this blog is intended to be a catch-all for pretty much whatever I feel like writing about.

If you’ve stopped by, I want you to know that you’re welcome. I don’t have any answers for you, but I’d love to share the questions. So pour a cup of rooibos tea and grab a koeksister (or throw a burger on the BBQ if that’s what you prefer – they’re made with Happy Beef raised right here on our farmlet). Kom kuier ‘n bietjie. Even if we don’t manage to figure out The Meaning And Purpose Of It All, It’s always good just to take time out to ponder.

Pictures to evoke Africa usually involve elephants and acacias or baobabs, and are guaranteed to make me ache with homesickness. But this picture of Himself coming face-to-face with his first dassie, the little cousin of the elephant, at Augrabies Falls, tells a more personal story.

Pictures to evoke Africa usually involve elephants and acacias or baobabs, and are guaranteed to make me ache with homesickness. But this picture of Himself coming face-to-face with his first dassie, the little cousin of the elephant, at Augrabies Falls, tells a more personal story.

Starting point

Transplantation hurts. Roots break, leaves shrivel, trunk bows and limbs bend at the onslaught of unfamiliar winds. The older the tree, the greater and more lasting the damage.

I was 40 when I pulled myself out of the rich earth that, over eons, has filtered to the bottom of Africa, and set myself into the stony ground at the top left corner of the USA. I have been here now nearly half my adult life. And I have learned to love the furnace of summer, the icyΒ blast of winter, and the lingering blush and glow of spring and autumn. I have learned the subtle beauty of sagebrush, the fragrance of wild roses and the the brief profusion of daffodils and tulips, and the extravagance of a river that, it seems to me, could slake all Africa.

And yet… And yet.

It is hard to breathe the thin, dry air of this place. The shade I cast seems distorted by the low-rising sun. My fruit shrivels without ripening. The seeds I let fall are few, and do not set root. My heart cracks with longing for hadedas and braai smoke and koeksusters and township jazz played too loudly in the street on Sunday afternoon.

I imagine carving myself into a boat that will float down the river and across the ocean, all the way around the world.

I cut sticks and carve them into pencils. I will draw a map. I will write my way home.

66 responses »

  1. Haa! I wandered across from Stephs blog to “check you out” and I figure it’s hard to past a …”humaely done-in Happy Pig”, right…I’m in! Belladonna, what a great name (I’m Ducaisti). Respect REDdog

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ditto to the ‘what’s it about’ dilemma! I don’t have a theme anymore either, it’s a lucky dip πŸ™‚ and I can barely think about what I’ll be doing in the next five minutes not years, life is lived in the now for me!

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    • I think it’s important not to lose sight of what one wants to accomplish with a blog. I periodically get hung up on the perceived need to attract more followers by generating desirable material, and while I absolutely love knowing people are reading my stuff, I keep reminding myself that this blog is not actually about being well known or popular. It’s about figuring some things out, while getting back into the writing habit. As long as I focus on that, and not on pleasing or attracting readers (much as I love and appreciate them all!), it’s serving its purpose.

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    • Well, thank you ma’am! Welcome aboard. I took a look at your blog too … I see we agree on the subject of “Frozen”. I babysat a small girl recently to give her parents some “husband and wife” time, which was my great opportunity to watch it. Argh – those creepy eyes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jy is baie welkom! Thank you for stopping by. Your blog looks yummy … and your little Pearl reminds me SO MUCH of beloved kitties in my past! I’ve always been a sucker for skinny all-black cats. Apparently you’ll often find a black one in a litter of purebred siamese, and if the breeder lets it live it will likely grow up looking just like that.

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      • Thank you for the kind words about my blog. Pearli is a rescue: the only black with two ginger boys – both as skinny as she. I do think, though, that she has a bit of Siamese in her/them. Her long nose and big voice when she doesn’t get her own way, might just do it for me! Lekker dag!

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  3. An exquisitely beautiful “Starting Point.” I am gobsmacked at the lyrical quality of your writing. As to the torture of an “About” page, it really is rather impossible, isn’t it? You fall into good company, Belladonna, there are a number of us out here who are “nicheless.” And rather relish it!

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  4. Hi Belladonna πŸ™‚

    Since I really like your blog (I haven’t read all the posts yet but I am sure they are as great as the ones I have read!) I nominated you for The Liebster Award (details here – https://thisizapen.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/another-liebster-award/) You don’t have to accept it, and I can totally understand if you don’t have the time to do so, or just don’t feel like it! But if you do choose to accept the award,

    a) The “rules” are completely flexible
    b) I hope you have fun writing your Liebster post πŸ™‚

    No worries if you can’t accept the award. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

    Jamila x

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    • Argh! Homework! Lol. Okay … seriously, I made a decision to accept awards ONLY if I could have fun with them. This looks like potentially a fun one, but I need to think on it a little. In the meantime, thank you for the kind words, and for continuing to follow my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING IT A CHANCE πŸ™‚ Haha, I am really glad you’re thinking about it. I hope that if you ultimately choose to write a Liebster post, you enjoy it!! If you are not sure about it, you can be creative and find some way to make it fun for yourself, like setting a challenge or something. You could try pick out themes for your lists. Like only nominating people whose names begin with B. Or your facts could be dedicated to certain years of your life/topics you’re interested in/books you like/you could even set questions for yourself to answer or make each fact an anecdote. Or each fact could be about a different character in The Hobbit. Something like that. Maybe your answers to my questions could be fake ones, from the point of view of a fictional character that you make up. Or they could just be silly. The post can be really short and you can just, like, nominate one person. Or not do it at all!! No worries πŸ™‚

        You’re completely welcome!! Great blog.

        Jamila x

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I pressed follow as soon as you drew a comparison between blogging and a greased pig- not sure if I just really appreciated the imagery or the humour tickled me. Either way, I look forward to reading your posts!

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    • Thank you, and welcome! I’ll take a look at your blog in a bit too… πŸ™‚ In the interest of complete candor I’ve never actually wrestled a pig, greased or otherwise … but then, when I wrote that, I’d never really blogged before either, and I was finding it hard to get a grip on just what I was trying to achieve. I think I might have hold of an ear and a tail now, but am still never entirely sure which direction I’ll go next.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just wanted to drop by and give your blog a look. I am not sure if I thanked you for the support earlier this year, but I do appreciate it and the kind words you shared. I hope all is well and happy blogging! -OM

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    • Well, thank you so much, and welcome! You did actually respond, but I certainly appreciate the follow up visit. Hope things are going more smoothly for you, and that those idiots at the pinnacles of WP power have recognized what an asset you are to the community.

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  7. Pingback: Sisterhood of the World Blogging Award | My Perfect Breakdown

  8. We seem to share blog mission statements. I was going to add “though yours is elegantly rather than (my) elephantly phrased” but then realized that

    (1) this was unfair to elephants, who are graceful when walking, though the children can be so cute and clumsy, and would be a particularly offensive ugly-American comparison for you, who did not grow up with the buffoonish images of that animal

    (2) this could be seen as denigration of my About page’s writing style, which would then seem an insulting followup to your praise of my writing–although I would have intended it only to refer to the purposely broad comedy approach I attempted, versus your more serious style here.

    And THIS is why it takes me frigging forever to read other people’s blogs. Over-analyze and over-share much? How much is insecurity, how much ego, and how much Aspies? Time for another self-involved tangent–and she’s off!

    But before I go wandering through my mental mazes again:

    The beauty of your last three paragraphs took MY breath away.
    My eyes are still tearing as I finish typing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Also, just so you know, I am pretty hard to offend. Although I would love to be able to show you elephants, and how they move like smoke and disappear behind stick-thin, leafless trees. They are magical creatures!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I fully believe that elephants are capable of that. I’ve gained 22 pounds in two years and am, per charts and tape measure and shrinking undies ( ;), a growing girl–hips now around 40″. Yet, everyone still thinks I’m thin. STRANGERS call me thin, when even the undies marked L are too small (although honestly, who do they make those for, anyhow?) I must assume some of my body fat resides in a magical fourth dimension (not time at all–who knew?) where others cannot see it, but it still causes me to bump into walls and be unable to get up off the floor without pushing off with my hands.

        Perhaps I shall be lucky, and brush up against an elephant behind a tree!

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  9. I’ve been jumping all over your blog – love your writing, and your free spirit.
    Thanks for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. And don’t be a stranger, come on over and join the conversation.
    Cheers
    Alison

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  10. I have relatives who had to leave Africa, and their nostalgia never seems to quite die off. But if you ended up in the “top left corner of the USA”, it can’t be all that bad? to most of us mortals, it still conjures up visions of nature…

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    • Well, actually, when I first arrived, as Himself was driving me home through miles and miles of sagebrush, I informed him that “I’ve just traveled 11,000 miles and I’ve landed in the Platteland!” (which translates as “flatland”, but means … oh, a whole lot more, that is evoked somewhat by dry scrub and wide open spaces.) It’s not just “nature” … Africa has an essence that simply cannot be replicated anywhere else. I suppose that’s true of most places, mind you.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by… πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sometimes, I really don’t have words, to write my thoughts and feelings; thank you for posting and resonating with the heartfelt, especially your blog on Himself and the c word. ~wings Oh and my “real” About me is one of my posts on a latrine should you check me out further. xo

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    • Thank you … Every time I write “koeksuister” I puzzle over the spelling. I’ve even googled it! Happy to trust your research, however … Drukkies terug aan jou! (And no, haven’t rewritten … Every now and then I wonder if it’s time to give my page a facelift, but what for? I still like it!)

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  12. Ag! Makes me want to be back in Seffrika… First time I ever tasted KoekSISTERs was courtesy of a kind elderly Afrikaner couple who ran a small gift shop & deli near the site of the battle of Blood River. They are far superior to donuts ! !

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    • No, sweetheart, those were vetkoek – freshly made and utterly irresistible. Fiona probably has a good recipe for them too … It’s a simple recipe but they’re hard to make because if you don’t get it quite right they are flat and oily. Koeksisters are sweet braided pastries, also deep fried like donuts but then soaked in syrup. You liked them too… πŸ™‚

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  13. Pingback: Gandalf’s Gambols – I – Fiona's Favourites

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