If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…

Julianne Alcott

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I shudder to think what kinds of words my pictures tell.

I am notoriously unphotogenic. I had to throw away some of my wedding pictures because I looked so awful.

Although, the best picture ever taken of me was the one as I came into the church… It had my wedding veil over my face, so I guess that’s why.

I had to take a photo of myself recently. The lady who published my book asked me for a decent photo, and I knew that nothing I already had would fit that description.

Several people suggested that I have a professional set taken, but I don’t want to spend money on something that I’m pretty sure will be a failure. Every year, I have a professional picture done for work, and they are truly hideous.

The one on my library card looks like a frog decided to try on some clothes. The picture was also stretched strangely when it was made smaller, and now my face looks longer than it should be.

But that is just the story of my life when it comes to photos.

It’s not just my crazy hair, because that can be straightened. It’s my whole face, which seems to get larger and more square when captured on film. I have two camera faces… Shark (excess of white teeth) and drug addict (half asleep).

So I planned a week of picture taking, to hopefully come up with something better than I had already.

Every morning, just before I left for work, I got my daughter to take a photo of me. The reason being that I had just straightened my hair, and sprayed it liberally with hairspray, and would look more-or-less human.

The only problem is that it’s winter, and most of the pictures were rather dark, having been taken before 7am.

Girl with paper bag over her head

Courtesy of Stuart Miles – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I took a few assorted ones of myself, most of which I had to instantly delete in horror.

The next weekend, my friends and I got together for a braai and outdoor movie session, and to have the dreaded photo shoot for my perfect picture.

I dressed in red, which is generally my best colour, and a friend took several pictures with his mom’s awesome super duper camera.

I compressed all the pictures and saved them onto a Microsoft document page, and sent them to the publisher for her to make her choice.

And after all the effort to have a photo shoot and do my hair, the two she chose were the ones I snapped of myself in the garden. I suppose I was more relaxed, and didn’t expect much from them.

So if a picture says a thousand words, some of mine would be …

Processed Magic: the Vague Art of Picture-Book Making

mike curato

processMy friends and family must wonder what I do all day. Sometimes I worry that they’re sick and tired of my only update being “I’m working on the book. The deadline is end of April.” I’m sure some of them have mental images of me waking up in the morning to a big yawn, hopping into my bunny slippers, eating a muffin (aka breakfast cupcake), brushing my teeth, then sitting at my drafting table and whistling while I work all the live long day. How cute! I wish my life could be like this. I know that I am blessed to have a career doing what I love and working from home, but I wouldn’t say it’s been that easy.

Last night, when I was on the edge of tears after a disastrous affair involving perspective, ice skaters, and historic costumes, I shrank away from my studio and sat across…

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A Place to Call Home

by Penny M

Baggage

A follower on our Going Global website describes himself as being without location. Personally, I have many places to go. I am staying in my seventh home (besides my own) in the last seven months. At the time of starting the outline for our book, Going Global – Technology made simple, designed for travelling from your armchair along the airwaves, I had no idea that I would be physically leaving home as often as I have in the last few months.

Until recently, the only packing required was a laptop, modem, clothing for a defined weather pattern and potkos (Afrikaans for tuck food or snacks). I soon learnt that packing is an acquired skill. Each destination requires a different set of clothing, accessories and sustenance, for example packing for a two month stay with children in two different cities in Australia entails garments and shoes for all climates, Samsung Galaxy Tablet, phone, memory sticks, camera, chargers and compatible adaptors. I had to arrange chronic medication with authorisations for collection before I left and a visa.

Toiletries are a given; it’s where to pack each item that complicates matters. I am gradually getting used to keeping several toiletry and cosmetic bags aside for this purpose; two for the hold, one for carry on. I try to keep one toiletry bag semi-stocked at all in-between-times. Well that’s the idea anyway.

Preparing for a two to three day stay in hospital, followed by a plus/minus two week time of recuperation at one or more addresses, with few or no steps to climb, no physical exertion or driving, posed a new set of challenges.

My home freezer is stuffed with Bulgarian Yoghurt pots full of various catering options, ready for my return. Unused fresh produce, the makings of my daily breakfast, some wicked biscuits and rooibos teabags etcetera were sent ahead, complete with minimal provisions, clothing, bedding and towels for who knew how long, to my first recuperative destination at the home of a gracious friend. After five days there, I relocated to another friend’s home.

John Meyer’s song, A Place to Call Home, drew my attention as I was pondering my immediate future.

I’m an architect
Of days that haven’t happened yet
I can’t believe a month is all it’s been
You know my paper heart
The one I fill with pencil marks
I think I might have gone and inked you in

I don’t need tea leaves to see more globetrotting on the horizon; no, not a caravan of camels, but a couple (give or take a few) of bags on wheels, my tablet and an umbrella. Perhaps I should be writing articles for the Getaway Magazine.

Watch this space; I might have inked you in!

When I grow up …

When I grow up I want to be Fiona. No, no, not the green Shrek monster but rather the petite bomb maker in Burn Notice.

Burn Notice

Burn Notice’s Fiona

Now Fee, you must understand, is my complete opposite. The first example of this is that while I always have a notebook and a pen in my handbag Fee has a stash of C4 in hers. Yes she is ready at any given moment to blow up a car, a building or a bad guy. She’s the woman you want around in an emergency. Although I’m more handy when you want to make a shopping list.

Fee handles guns beautifully, like an extension of her arm she loads, aims and fires dead on target, she also does all this while wearing killer heels. I’ve aimed at a few tin cans in my time but never in heels.

If ever Fee is separated from her handbag she can make a fantastic bomb out of a few ingredients lying around the kitchen or bathroom whereas I was never that good at science, although I can whip up a lovely loaf of bread using only 7 ingredients.

I rely on Fee for my adrenaline shot each week, while I recline on the couch. I rely on her to be the brave, daring, wild, adventurous woman that I am not.

But, this week the joke is on me because I have a job working in the ER department of a hospital. I’m on the night shift. The thought of the antiseptic hospital smell, darkness and blood is already making my stomach churn.

Perhaps I will no longer need Fee, perhaps I will quit or, perhaps I will turn into Stephen King … I’ll keep you posted.

Of Dinosaurs and Jedi Knights

By Susan Roberts

When I was in my twenties, I saw the movie Highlander and was entranced by the idea of immortals who had roamed the earth for centuries, living through every era. Unable to die natural deaths, they aged at a different rate from mere mortals. How strange it must be, I thought, to look like everyone else and yet to have lived through innovations such as penicillin and automobiles, and events like world wars – things which later generations could only hear about second-hand.

Imagine how enlightening it must be to have first-hand knowledge of what the world was like before certain things were invented. How exciting to feel like a knowledgeable sage to those around you who take for granted the many things that weren’t around when they grew up. Perhaps that doesn’t fit with the idea of a still outwardly young and virile Highlander, so let’s switch to the movie Star Wars because it offers a more appropriate image.

Imagine being like old Obi-Wan Kenobi who imparts the secrets of the Force to the junior Luke Skywalker. Luke’s lifelong desire is to be one of the legendary Jedi Knights, so he is fascinated by the guru who drops into his ears those pearls of wisdom about how he used a magnificent lightsaber to fight in the Clone Wars which were so long ago that they too have now passed into legend…

Whoa, let’s back up a bit and take a reality check here. Only in the movies, huh? There are no revered Highlanders and aged Jedi Knights around my house apart from the ones on my DVD shelf.

Old Obi-Wan might be a unique dinosaur of an old man who actually survived his own era, but if we remember Han Solo’s question to Luke: “Where did you dig up that old fossil?” we might have a better idea of today’s attitude towards the old and not-so-revered. Thirty years on, I am finally starting to know what it feels like to be an aged and arthritic Jedi Knight myself, and it’s not like Star Wars or Highlander at all.

This dinosaur has discovered that the world isn’t interested in the unique skill of using an old-fashioned lightsaber. Today’s juniors have little patience with someone who doesn’t understand the basics of a technological age that has surpassed even a Jedi’s youthful imaginings. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten more things than some people will ever know, but then I remember that they don’t care either way.

Think about this. We were the famous baby-boomers. That awesome generation who listened to the radio broadcasts of the first man landing on the moon. (We listened on radio because many of us didn’t have television.) Time has galloped on since we wore the first digital watches and did our homework using our parents’ battery-operated calculators (which we weren’t allowed to take to school because using a calculator to get the quick answers was considered cheating). We played vinyl records – both LPs and 45s – and danced to the music of ABBA and the Beatles. During the school holidays we called our friends on heavy bakelite phones that had rotary dials, and we sewed our own clothes on our mothers’ sewing machines and learned how to knit.

We were the geeks of yesteryear – the library-obsessed kids who knew our way around the Dewey system and the wooden drawers of those nifty little catalogues that struck terror into the hearts of the more sporty-minded. We paged through actual hardcover Encyclopaedia Britannica volumes and wrote out our own notes for school projects in longhand. And by the way, we used cursive (now known as joined-up) writing, because it was fast. We were taught that when we reached university we would have to write down a lecturer’s words at the same speed at which he spoke them. A few years later we succeeded in doing that too, filling endless notebooks before we knew about endangered rain forests.

When we left home, we wrote letters to our parents because trunk calls were expensive and call boxes were hard to find. We did this well into our twenties and thirties, I might add. I was in my mid-twenties when I encountered my first fax machine, and was still trying to figure out the magic of how they worked when they went out of fashion twenty years later.

So how do we oldies deal with the new realities? Well, I became a writer. That way I can lose myself in the wonderful world of history that only I seem to remember, and which for many readers is just as farfetched as the world of fantasy. Since no one believes our history without a huge dollop of scepticism it may be safer to pass it off as fantasy anyway.

Did I mention that I miss my old typewriter?