I got home a few minutes ago and I’m already in bed, next to a sleeping Kit. I Brought my laptop upstairs to do my daily post only to discover, now, that I have 6% battery left. Make that 5%. I can’t be arsed to go find my laptop cord right now so I will just say that I lead a really special ceremony in the forest today. Pepsi, Sabrina and Phil’s ridgeback acted as the ring bearer, only she decided that rather than walk the length of the aisle, as imagined, she’d simply park off on the carpet at the top of the aisle with her folks. Dogs as ring-bearers very really work. But it works because it very rarely works. It lightens up the ceremony. Dogs don’t stick to the script and going off the script is where the magic lies. Okay, 4% battery. Let me wrap this up. Here’s a photograph of the mountains on my way home. I don’t have enough time to Google the name of the mountain range – I think it’s Dutoitskloof or something like that. I know that there’s this incredible trail with the most beautiful rocks pools close by (I’m hoping to go there soon enough with Jess and Kit, and I’ll share some photographs of it then). For now, here are the mountains. Aren’t they pretty?

It never ceases to amaze me that when I trust someone with something I’m not sure I should share for fear of judgement, the response is so often some version of “I’ve never told anyone this but…” Some way of saying, “same”.

That’s all for today – I need to go and read my wife’s weekly newsletter because I didn’t yet have the chance. Tonight I get to sleep next to Jess. It’s our failsafe to make sure Kit doesn’t fall out of the bed again (until we get one of those bedrails).

Photograph of the day: I left this one late, again. This afternoon I took Kit to my dear friend Meg’s house. Meg has a little boy two weeks’ young than Kit. Meg also has a pool. We dipped in and out of the water and Kagiso delighted in having his best friend (not a choice) there. Kit didn’t delight that much. She sussed things out. She tugged at the hose pipe frustrated that it wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do. The four of us navigated the bricks surrounding the pool, and Kit and Kagiso each had a go at scrubbing the bricks clean for a bit. Their technical and surface area covered needs some work. Later, they shared their first bath together (including some tug of wars for certain prized toys). All this felt more important that stopping to take a photograph.

Nevertheless, a photograph a day for a year means a photograph a day for a year. So I had to lean on another of my mother’s paintings because it looks good in any light. Again, I do not do justice to her painting (not least because I make an appearance in it by way of a reflection) but I think she’ll forgive me for it.

“I like this fence,” I said to Jess, as we walked down the path between houses to Clifton 2, “This wooden one.”

“What do you like about it?”

“It reminds me of the karate kid.”


“Did you ever watch the karate kid?”

“No,” Jess said.

I explained that Mr Miyagi instructed Daniel to hit nails into a wooden fence.

Jess listened and then said, “I like how formative karate kid was to you. You relate it to a lot of things as an adult. Did you watch it a lot as a child?”

“A lot.”

In our home, we weren’t allowed to watch a lot of tv – that’s putting it mildly. For most of our childhood, we were allowed one program each (I have an older brother) on Saturdays and Sundays – so that’s half an hour – and we could watch each other’s choice. This meant that Clyde, my older brother, strongly influenced what I chose to watch. We were encouraged to play outside and to draw and to read. Every now and then we got to watch a movie. You’d think that having such restricted tv watching would mean that we’d always choose a new movie to watch but it didn’t. Top Gun and the Karate Kid and a movie called Undercover Blues got selected again and again.

Our favorite line from Karate Kid actually came from the second movie. Mr Miyagi tells Daniel: “Best block, no be there“.

Words to live by.

I’m reluctant to post another poem to link to today’s writing because I did it yesterday and I don’t want this to become a quote journal but I think it’s too good to pass up – so here it is: A longer and more beautiful way of saying, best block, no be there. Written by Portia Nelson.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

The post that I lost on 7 January has been found. It was published as a whole page instead of a post on my blog. Between CONTACT and BLOG, there appeared the title of the blog, Hat Head, as though it had enough clout to warrant a top tab on the website. I copied the writing and deleted the page. Tonight, since I’m close to sleep and it’s my last night in Plett, I’m going to cheat a little and paste what I wrote on 7 January 2023 for today’s post. The photograph is from today – all sky and sea.

Here’s that lost and found piece:

A few months ago before bed, I looked in the mirror and I had a lot of mascara running down my face. I told Jess I was upset that we’d spent a whole evening together and she hadn’t told me about the mascara.

“If you don’t tell me, who will?”

Granted, we were at home in our pjs and spent most of the evening following a one year old around and the mascara wasn’t on the top of Jess’ list to worry about. But she apologised and said she’d tell me next time.

Today I got ready for the wedding in my parents’ room because Jess and Kit were having a nap in our room and because I was leaning heavily on my moms closet since I brought ‘civvies’ on holiday. The first item I tried on was a lilac suite. Moira, my mom, likes match matchy. For her, if she can wear everything of the same color (and even tone within that color), it’s a good day.

The lilac suite was a lot and I knew it was a lot. What I didn’t know was whether it was a lot in a good way – fashion forward. I messaged Jess: Are you awake? I need fashion advice.

Jess came into the room and told me that the suite wasn’t ‘me’. I looked at Jess’ pants. Jess saw me looking at her pants, and offered, “Do you want to try these?”

Jess sat on my parents bed with no pants on while I tried on her black linen pants. She sat like that as I tried on various jackets, telling me what looked best. After a while, I offered my tracksuit pants to Jess said, “Thanks, I felt quite exposed”.

Jess then went back downstairs while I riffled in my mother’s exquisitely neat draw for some base. When applying the base, I thought it looked a bit dark for my mom but reasoned if it works for her, it would work for me.

When Jess next saw me, it took her all of three seconds to tell me my base was far too orange. I then used Jess’ base, which is lighter than my skin tone, asking her whether she thought it best to take off the orange base and then apply the lighter one or just apply the lighter one on top. I went with the latter option. And something about it, I tell you, it just worked.

Arriving at Alkira, in Knysna, I noticed that most people had a white hat on. For a moment I thought I had somehow missed a dress-code but looked closer and saw that they all had the exact same kind of hat on.

Soon I located the basket with hats, put one on and then went to the bathroom – not to go to the loo but to check my hair was okay under the hat. I knew the hat worked. I knew because I look good in any hat that fits. I have what is known in my family as a hat head. A head that looks exceptional in hats – all hats.

One afternoon when Jess and I were newly dating, Jess sat on my bed and tried to claim the title of hat head (only three held it at the time). She proceeded to prove her hat head worthiness by trying on all the hats available – there were quite a few because why wouldn’t I have a lot of them when I look good in them. Let me tell you – she looked sensational in every single hat. Sensational. But I couldn’t tell her that. I had to keep that information to myself, pretend that the verdict was still out. How could I give her a title in the first month? No. She would have to try on A LOT more hats to earn that.

The caveat – any hat that fits – is necessary in my case because I also have the largest woman’s head in pretty much any room (I talking circumference here). I’ve tested it before with an adjustable cap. My head doesn’t look big but it is big.

The hat at today’s wedding was up to the task and so for the first time, I did a ceremony with a hat on. The hat wasn’t the best part of the ceremony. The best parts of the ceremony, in no particular order, were these:

*Kent cried on seeing Charlotte walking down the aisle. I know this because I saw it and also because I had to remove a tiny bit of tissue on his face (only I could see it due to the way we were standing).

*Charlotte giggles when she’s nervous – she told me this and I heard her mom mention it to Kent before he came down the aisle. True to form somewhere in the middle of the second reading she started to giggle and I called her out on it and then lost my place. We laughed.

*When Charlotte’s bridesmaid, Steff came up to do her reading and her phone refused to unlock and she blamed Siri.

*On the ‘repeat-after-me’s Kent was meant to say ‘my faith in our strength together’ but said ‘my face in our strength together’ instead, and so when it was Charlotte’s turn, she also said ‘my face in our strength together’ to make sure her vows were they same as Kent’s.

*Although Charlotte and Kent have made a home in London, it is Knysna that has their hearts which is why they chose to get married here.

The magic in ceremonies happens when you allow the unplanned room – when you greet it and make space for it and giggle about it.

Years ago my dad met a guy in the bush who told him he could find honey.

Keen to go find the honey with this man, my dad asked him, “when will we be back at the lodge?”

“After we find the honey.”

Photograph of the day: A piece of advice sometimes does the rounds about never missing a sunset. Kit lives by the same philosophy, only with water. Never miss an opportunity to get into water. The bird bath, the ocean, a big blue bucket, a dripping gutter after the rain, a garden hose pipe – get involved, even if it means getting changed 5 times a day.

Every third Christmas my friend – let’s call her Terry to provide some anonymity since I’ve highjacked the story and it’s too late to ask for permission – goes on holiday with her husband’s family in a remote spot near St Francis. It’s a private nature reserve with no electricity, two lone houses, lots of space and their own beach. The kids (lots of them) run wild. Rex, their black Labrador also enjoys the freedom – he strolls rather than runs though (his name has also been changed to protect his dignity).

The houses sit on a hill a fair way away from the beach. Maybe it’s more of a slope, or a foliaged covered dune than a hill – let’s not let the details get in the way of a good story. The point is the houses are some way from the beach.

One afternoon (it could’ve been morning), Terry sees that Rex is swimming in the shallows – nothing unusual about a Lab taking a dip. Rex, however, is on not at his physical peak (read slightly overweight). He starts to struggle in a rip. Terry watches anxiously from the house, scared that the backwash will pull Rex deeper and deeper out to sea. She shouts to her husband, Joe to ran down and help. Joe is up to the task, sprinting down the shore but he stops short of the water. Watching.

Terry starts to panic. “Why is Joe just standing there?” she asks her sister in law who is also watching Rex flailing in the ocean below.

“He’s worried he’ll get caught in the same rip. He needs to think of his own life,” her sister in law says in his defense.

Rex’s snout is going under. Popping up every now and then.

Terry starts crying. Again, she asks, desperate now, “Why isn’t Joe doing anything?!”

Because it’s an otter.

Not Rex (who is resting in the shade behind the house, well out of danger). An otter.

Photograph of the day: Playing around with a slow shutter in this evening’s blue light. 

The sock challenge seems simple enough. Keep 5 pairs of socks together. The catch? You have to do it for more than one day. You have to do it for weeks, on end. You have to keep it and them together. They have to find their mate, again and again, after wash cycles.

One of the advantages of being married to a woman is that you get to share a wardrobe. In my marriage, I definitely reap the benefit of the shared wardrobe, which is a nice way of saying Jess has more style than me; more clothes, too. If I receive a compliment on an item of clothing (I rake them in), 97% of the time – Jess has bought the item. A quick note to my wife: Thank you, Jess.

The equation of the double wardrobe is complicated and works like this: Double the clothes (bonus!), exclusivity on shoes (Jess is a 5; I’m a 7) and half the socks (literally, only one sock of every pair is left). Technically, we share socks. Wait, share is the wrong word. Compete is a truer reflection. If you find a couple that are close on the same colour, for example both are light grey, but one has a black patch over the heel and toes – it is a victory. That’s a pair in our eyes. Most shoes cover those black patches – the socks become, to the outsider, indistinguishable. No one knows. But we know.

One of the quotes that plays on my mind a lot is, “the way you do everything is the way you do anything”. It pops into my head and when it does, I often think of the socks. And I think, if I can get the socks right, I can get other things that I struggle with right.

Cue the sock challenge. Today, Jess and I bought 11 pairs of socks. It’s an awkward number, admittedly. That gives us each 5 pairs of socks. That’s maths. The remaining pair is the darkest of the lot – a maroon-ish pair and shall be a floating pair. But back to the 5 pairs.

When I asked Jess who she thinks loses the socks out of the two of us, she said, “You”.

I laughed at the audacity.

“It’s you!” I shot back.

“You don’t know yourself then,” Jess said.

The smack talk has already started.

Jess then told me that she had explained the sock challenge to my mother – a woman that keeps her socks together. Did my mother offer support? No. She said she doesn’t think either of us can do it. She did, however, offer us a permanent marker to label the sock camps. (Soon a single sock with J will be floating around, no doubt.)

We bought the socks at 13:22pm this afternoon. 11 pairs remain. Jess, however, is the only one yet to wear a pair. Amateur.

The sock challenge will expose one of us. Or both. There is bound to be sabotage, excuses, probably theft along the way.

Here’s the one photograph for today. Pictured here, Jess, owner of 10 socks (probably the last day she will be able to claim the title) and Kit, sockless (she owns some, but tends to pull them off at the first chance she gets). Also pictured here – laundry.