Friday, October 31, 2008

Scrapbooking

My daughter-in-law popped down to her mum to borrow pinking shears
We set everything out on the pool table in our entertainment area so there was ample workspace and sufficient light

The title page
Photos of the ceremony and adornments
(Apologies for the flash-glare on the page)
The family photos were enhanced with backing and corners
and embellished with gold thread around the text

We scanned a photo of mum-in-law in her twenties, also my wedding photo and my two sons' wedding photos. Once printed, we scorched the edges and glued them in onto backing which matched the torn strip on which the text is printed
I unearthed old photos of family celebrations, a photo of my husband's parents when his dad was still alive and even a photo of a family pet!

Grandsons and -daughters...

What is scrapbooking?

The WEB definition is as follows: The tradition of taking photographs and memorabilia and placing them in family keepsake albums along with relevant journaling.

Another description is: Scrapbooking is a method of preserving a legacy of written history in the form of photo, printed media and memorabilia contained in a decorated album/scrapbook.

When did scrapbooking originate? Believe it or not, when considering the question of where did scrapbooking originate, you need to pay homage to men like Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain, both of whom were known to keep their favorite mementos in decorated books. Wanting to remember souvenir and reminders was actually more of a male hobby for many years. Mark Twain actually received a patent for a self-pasting scrapbook in 1873. So historically it was more of a male hobby.

When and where did modern scrapbooking originate?

The history of modern scrapbooks began in 1976 in Utah, when a woman named Marielen Christensen began designing creative pages for her family’s photo memories. She kept these pages in 3-ring binders, and after assembling over 50 volumes of these memories, was invited to display her albums at the World Conference on Records in Salt Lake City.

The interest that Marielen generated led to her actually travelling to demonstrate her techniques and materials, and eventually to her opening the world’s first scrapbooking supply store in Spanish Fork, Utah, in 1981.


Scrapbooking is a hobby that has been growing in popularity. The underlying goal is to preserve memories in a unique and creative way.

Some scrap bookers put separate themes in separate books, whereas others reserve each individual spread (two adjacent pages of a book) for different themes. A theme can vary from a particular event, a holiday, or what life was like at a particular moment of time. One spread, for example, may be reserved for a birthday party, another for a wedding, and another for a vacation.

Instead of just placing photographs in a photo album, a scrap booker aims to capture the feeling and the mood associated with their memories. Photographs are embellished with all sorts of additional items to help set the mood of a spread. Backgrounds, rubber stampings, cut-outs, die cuts, drawings, newspaper clippings, stickers, cards and other flat items are used to embellish photographs to set the tone. When you look at a page in a photo album, you see a few photographs, but when you enjoy the pages of a well-executed scrapbook, you are transported to a different time.

Which brings me to the reason (Phew!) for this post. I first discovered scrapbooking in 2002 (I know I know, I'm 30 - odd years behind the times...) I had ordered a book from an American writers’ magazine I subscribe to. A week later a huge parcel arrived at my front door, When I opened the box, I found a set of 6 (SIX) scrapbooking handbooks called Memory Makers. I phoned the distributors in the US and explained that I’d not ordered these books and that it would be too expensive for me to post them back, what should I do. The person on the other end of the line said: No problem, keep the set of books and that she’d post off the book I’d originally ordered.

Another five years elapsed before I thought about scrapbooking again. (Well, I did leave the country to work in West Africa for three years – more about this later.) Last year, while chatting to a friend who had attended scrapbooking classes in the city, I became keen to start this hobby. Later, while in the city with my younger daughter-in-law, I bought a complete kit on a sale (1/3 of the original price – what woman can resist a bargain?) My daughter-in-law told her mum about my new interest and together they bought me more scrapbooking materials for Christmas. Still, all these pretty accessories, also known as embellishments lay in the bottom of my kist in the lounge (you can read about memories of my kist here.) .

Earlier this month, my mum-in-law got married and I was the photographer at the wedding. (You can read about this here.We duly had the photo prints developed and it was my intention to place them in an album and post them to the “newly-weds” As I searched for a suitable photo album, the idea came up in my head to scrapbook the event. What better memories for an 80-year-old bride and her new husband, than a visual story about her her life up to the present?

And scrapbooking it, is exactly what my younger daughter-in-law and I did.

Last Saturday she brought her toolbox of beads, glue and other accessories she uses to do her beading. I took the scrapbooking kit and accessories out of my kist and unearthed old wedding and other family albums. We scanned and printed photos, snipped, tagged and glued.

Photographed above are the pages which we placed in the album binder and sent off to my mother-in-law.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Cat Lazarus?

My three "outdoor" cats from left to right: Clarice, Felix and Puff, far right. Here they are waiting (to be fed) outside their very own abode, the Cat House (more about this later)

Another photo of my three outside cats. Puff, the huge black male is in the front
Tonight I just HAVE to write this post. It will appear on Thursday morning, but this strange thing happened on Wednesday.

In fact, it actually all began on Tuesday night.

As my husband and I were preparing for bed, we heard cats fighting outside our window. I turned on the outside security light, and sure enough, there was Puff, our huge black male cat having a face – off on the lawn with a huge, stray ginger cat. As mentioned before, I have eight cats, so as this ruckus was taking place, two other cats, Felix and Clarice, who live in their own luxury apartment (my husband's description of the humble cathouse I had built a year ago), appeared as if from nowhere and stood stiff-legged, bushy tails extended, and watched. Two cats who live in the sun porch/ entertainment area, jumped up onto the pool table and craned their necks to see what was going on outside. They also resembled stiff wire brushes. Manduline, our spoilt baby girl cat, was standing with her paws up on the windowsill watching from the safety of our bedroom with hubby behind her. The only two who were completely unaffected were Tigger and Pudding. They were fast asleep in my office.

While we watched, the two cats flew into each other, rolled out of the circle of light, and suddenly the ginger cat took flight with Puff in heavy pursuit.

I never gave the cats or cat fight another thought, until this morning when my gardeners called me to tell me they’d found a dead cat in the corner of the garden. I rushed across, and sure enough, there was my huge black Puff, lying under the bushes. Feeling sick with sorrow, I watched as the gardeners buried him and came indoors to tell my husband the sad news. He in turn, could not believe that the other cat had killed Puff. He said cats do not kill each other. Nevertheless, the black cat lying in the garden was dead and buried.

This evening I went to my spinning class and no sooner had I started to pedal, when my cell phone rang. It was my husband and as I answered it, he said: “Darling, are you sitting down?” (Do’h, I’m sitting on my spinning bike) He then told me that Puff had returned! Unbelievable. Puff was on the patio, socialising with the other cats and making his presence known. (Puff became Top Cat on the Block as Tigger moved into old age-mode)

When I arrived home at 7, there was Puff to greet me. I stroked him and spoke to him (Puff was ill-treated as a kitten, before he came to me so you cannot touch him or pick him up) and told him, I think we should call him Lazarus from now on!

A happy ending to a very strange day...
Oh and the cat that we buried? It must have also been a stray who became involved in the fight between Puff and the ginger cat and came off second best. Poor thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stormy Seas

The ship tossed around in the waves is the one my son an many others had to live on for seven weeks at a time without seeing land
This afternoon while sorting through my photos, I came across a photo of the ship my seafaring son worked on for seven weeks at a time for the past five years. Normally when we hear someone is at sea, a picture comes to mind of a large luxury liner with azure blue swimming pools, huge dining rooms and beautiful staterooms. In between neatly- uniformed naval staff move silently between passengers lounging in deck chairs, dispensing exotic looking drinks!

This ship was different. For many years before leaving his job to be at home with his family (you can read about this here), he held down the position of First Officer on board the oceangoing tug pictured above. The tug towed barges and repositioned oil rigs. It took supplies, spares, tools and all the paraphernalia pertaining to underwater drilling operations,out to the rigs.

As can be seen from the photograph, the tug doesn’t look very comfortable but the officers and cadets had to live on this “boat” (as sailors call their craft) for seven weeks at a time without seeing land. The cramped conditions taught the men tolerance towards and forbearance with each other. The fact that it has no ballast (like a normal ship) and was tossed relentlessly on the huge waves, also caused even the most salted sailor to experience regular bouts of sea sickness.

Two years ago a fire broke out in the engine room. The captain had to make the decision to shut down the hatches (which he did) while an engineer was still down there. It was either sacrifice one man or lose the whole tug and all the other men on board. (What a decision to have to make) The fire suppression system was activated and the engine room was pumped full of foam, powder and carbon dioxide. The crew above fell silent thinking of their fellow sailor below facing certain death. Suddenly the engineer appeared, safe and sound, up on the deck. He’d climbed up into the air extractor / ventilator fan which exits onto the deck...

Life is often like this tug. Often we are thrown together in a cramped space with other people. (think supermarket or Post Office queue). This is the time we have to show patience and tolerance when we have to deal with people.

Sometimes life is the tug being dashed up and down on huge waves. It is normal to be worried and troubled. However, you will be safe and won't sink if you keep your eyes focussed on Jesus. Don't look down/around at the waves, you'll only feel seasick and lose your balance. Rather focus on the Lord who is beckoning you to trust Him to guide you over the rough waters to the security and calmness of land.

Remember the shortest, yet the most powerful prayer is: " Lord help!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hash's Homemade Hamburger Patties

Chef extraodanaire making his Homemade Hamburger Patties !
He works very neatly while preparing food

The finished product - delicious

Recently my younger son and daughter-in-law came over for a hamburger lunch. They love to come and eat what I call, Hash’s Homemade Hamburger Patties. My husband (whose nickname is Hash) goes to the butchery himself and orders the meat for his hamburgers. Then he comes home and prepares these tasty hamburger patties.
Even though he has often made them before, this is first time he has made them since I started my blog. (Ha!) And this means that now he would be photographed while making them. I thought he was going to stop me from taking photos while he was busy, but strangely enough, he didn’t seem to mind and I got some lovely photos.
(Mmm, perhaps he was focussing on his task and didn't notice me and my camera)

Hash’s Homemade Hamburger Patties
500 g minced pork fillet
500 g minced beef fillet
1 onion, grated
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon baking powder
10 ml mixed herbs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 Egg
Flour to work with

Place all ingredients in a large bowl
Mix together thoroughly using your hands
With floured hands form patties
Place on floured surface/cover with damp cloth
Preheat oven to 180 ° (350 ° F)
Place patties on lightly oiled baking tray
Bake in oven until brown, turning to cook on other side.
Serve on Hamburger rolls with sliced onion, tomato and lettuce
Makes 14 patties

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday Evening Barbeque

Here my daughter-in-law is off to the cafe on my motorbike
My son, the Master Braai-er!

Succulent strips of flame steak just begging to be eaten

A braai is something which South Africans do when they combine their love for the outdoors with good South African meat. A braai, pronounced Br-eye is South African for barbeque and an activity which entails cooking meat outdoors over an open fire while socialising with friends. A braai normally means lots of different cuts of meat: rump steak, pork or lamb chops, pork or lamb ribs and boerewors (farmer’s sausage). All or some of these meats are cooked over on the braai (the metal grill placed over the open fire) and served with stiff maize meal, tomato and onion gravy and salads.

This weekend my younger son and his wife came over for a braai at our home. While I was making a salad, my daughter-in-law decided she’d like to make garlic bread.* * As I didn’t have a French loaf or bread rolls in the house, she asked if she could use my motorbike, (which you can read about here) and rode to the cafe to buy bread rolls. (Note: The whole concept of having a braai , is that everything is very relaxed...)

Contrary to the traditional amount of meat that is cooked at a braai(as mentioned above), my husband had one 500g piece of rump steak cut to his specifications (thick!) by the butcher. Both our sons, like their father, are very good “braai-ers” meaning that they are very good at cooking meat on the braai. On this occasion my son did the braaing in the garden while my husband, daughter-in-law and I sat around the braai fire chatting.

When the coals were red-hot embers, my son placed the piece of steak on the grill slightly to the side. In this manner the braai-er controls the cooking process of the meat. After a few minutes, the meat is turned over. When cooked, the piece is removed and placed on a wooden board to “rest” for five minutes. Then it is returned to the grill for another minute or two. Finally it is removed and placed on the board again.

Normally the conversations stops now and all eyes are on the piece of meat on the board. My son has a razor sharp carving knife and with a surgeon’s precision he slices thin strips of steak from the chunk of meat. We women take this as a sign to open the salad bowl and other accoutrements which were brought outside to the garden table earlier when we set places for all.
The strips of steak look like underdone roast beef and are succulent and tasty. First a few are eaten by hand as “flame steak snacks”. More strips are cut which you add to your plate with the salad and additional food.

A South African braai with a difference.

How to make garlic bread * *
Cut a French Loaf into slices, taking care not to slice right through the bottom.
Mix crushed garlic, salt, ground black pepper and dried herbs into softened butter
Spread butter on each slice ensuring the bread stays in a loaf shape.
Wrap in tin foil and place on the braai until meat is ready.
Alternately you can use hot dog (bread) rolls.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feta and Baby Marrow Fritters

Feta and Baby Marrow Fritters
served with new peas and oven roasted tomatoes


While paying for my groceries at the checkout point in a large supermarket in the city, I spotted a magazine on the shelf above the counter. It was obviously a food magazine as the tasty looking photo on the cover caught my eye. (ha!) It is the new Pick n Pay FreshLiving magazine and is available every month at the low –low price of R9.95 (less than US$1) I picked it up and placed it with my other goods and ultimately read it from cover to cover. That was nine months ago and I’ve never missed an issue since.

It has the most delicious and easy-to-make recipes as well as tips such as “How to boil an egg” (huh?) This month’s issue has “The Green Issue: eco eating, recycling and more” which is something very close to my heart (more from me about this in a future post). It also has two pages of free Pick n Pay coupons which you can redeem when you next go shopping. The other article which caught my eye, was “Fabulous family food for under R50/US$3.92)

It has many other interesting articles with tips on how to choose seasonal vegetables (vegetables are horrifically expensive in South Africa at the moment) as well as pieces with gardening ideas and tips.

A really good buy for the busy and innovative housewife/family woman.

Last night I made Feta and Baby marrows (recipe below) and served them with peas and oven roasted cherry tomatoes. Baby marrows are also known as zucchini or corgettes and are very versatile. They can be sliced finely into a green salad, julienned and stir-fried with other vegetables of your choice, or chopped diagonally, simmered and served with sautéed mushrooms and a butter sauce.

Feta and Baby Marrow Fritters (From Fresh Living, Oct 2008 – Pick and Pay Magazine

1 Cup (250ml) Self Raising Flour
½ Tsp (3ml) Sea Salt
3 Jumbo Eggs beaten
½ Pkt (150g) Baby Marrows
1 Bunch (5-6) spring onions, chopped
1 tub Feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tsp (5ml) Paprika
½ Cup (125ml) fresh parsley, chopped
½ Cup Fresh Mint, chopped
Olive Oil for frying

Mix flour salt and eggs in a large bowl until smooth
Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine
Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan.
Fry dollops of mixture until golden on both sides
Serve with lime wedges and roasted cherry tomatoes
Serves 4-6





Saturday, October 25, 2008

Symphony Amaryllis

Amaryllis' (spp) long stalk
Amaryllis' (spp) first bud
Amaryllis (spp) double bud

Amaryllis (spp) double bloom

Amaryllis (spp) close up

According to my gardening manual, A South African Garden for all Seasons by Readers Digest, the Amryllis Lily (Hippeastrum spp), pictured above, can be grown out in the garden. I’ve decided not to chance it with our frosty winters. In any case, I have more than enough [to do] in my garden and also because my beloved house-lady, Emily loves indoor plants, I have a selection of potted plants throughout my home.

The beautiful bloom above should have flowered by the twentieth of September but didn't. On closer inspection of the plant two weeks ago, I realised why it hadn’t. It had two stalks growing out of the soil, it had become pot bound and the leaves were limp and yellowing.

Emily and I carried the huge pot outside and placed it on the patio. While Emily returned indoors to continue her work, I called one of my gardeners to come and help me. We carefully loosened the stalks from the soil and then, tipping the pot on its side, gently tugged and eased the plants out. Once out on the ground, we separated the stalks and cut off all the old leaves. Then in newly-prepared pots, we potted the two “new” bulbs. We watered both plants and placed them against the wall of the house to rest.

A few hours later, when the excess water had drained off, my gardener and I carried the pots back into the house. We placed them on a counter in my office where they would get enough light but no direct sunlight.

Within two days my husband pointed out that one of the plants had begun to sprout. A week later it had grown to 30cm (12 inches). Two weeks later it had risen 60cm (25 inches) and had two buds on it. Last night the buds began to unfurl. This morning when I arrived in my office, the beautiful blooms had burst open with the promise of two more flowers in the next two days.
Imagine Emily's delight as she walked into the house on Wednesday morning and saw her plant flowering. She was elated and said it had made her day...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spiritual Rain

The first of the summer rains! So welcome after a very dry spell

After the rain my elderly dog, Megan pranced around in the wet grass.

Often we tend to become despondent when summer arrives and weeks go by with no sign of rain. As part of a farming community, though not a farmer myself, but an avid gardener, I feel the effects of drought along with everyone else in the area. However, I always hold onto God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never fail you, I will never forsake you.”

Yesterday afternoon the first of the summer rains fell; a few millimetres only but oh, so refreshing and so welcome.

Once the short downpour had stopped, I walked outside drinking in the scent of a newly-washed earth; delighting in the fresh feel of the air. Immediately of Psalm 92: 1-5a came to mind:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High
It is good to proclaim Your unfailing love in the morning
Your faithfulness in the evening
Accompanied by the harp and the lute
And the harmony of the lyre
You thrill me with all you’ve done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done
Oh Lord, what great miracles you do!




Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rhurbarb - not everyones favourite

Spongy and rich, and oh so delicious: rhubarb pudding


My healthy rhubarb plant in the garden which hubby regularly threatens to destroy!

I grew up with rhubarb! My dad always had a sturdy, healthy rhubarb plant in the garden and my mum regularly served stewed rhubarb or rhubarb pie for dessert.

So what is rhubarb? Rhubarb is a very tart member of the buckwheat family – a vegetable known for its long pink to red stalks but often eaten as a fruit sweetened with sugar.

Its thick, celery like stalks of can reach up to 2 feet long, which are the only edible portion of the plant — the leaves contain oxalic acid and can therefore be toxic. Be very careful if you have access to a rhubarb plant and you want to make a pie. DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES. They are poisonous. Only the stalks are edible.

The word rhubarb has also been used in films when extras have to cause the effect of a general hubbub; they all had to shout the word “rhubarb”.

In the past the term rhubarb was used to denote a general fracas and fight between players in a baseball game.

One thing I can tell what rhubarb is not; it is NOT my husband’s favourite food. When he sees it simmering on the stove, I hear mutterings of : “That stuff should be on the list for scheduled and dangerous drugs!”

I have a healthy rhubarb plant in my garden so I often make rhubarb pie. I think it’s YUMMY. Recently I found a recipe on the Internet, (you can visit this site here) which I have (once again – ha!) adapted. I omitted the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) I also left off the vanilla sauce.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake Recipe

Cake/Batter
1 Cup sugar
1 Egg
2 tbs butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
½ tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups cake flour

Topping
2 tbs butter, melted
½ Cup sugar

Method
Blend together sugar, eggs and butter. Add buttermilk and beat until smooth. Sift together sald, baking powder and flour. Stir dry ingredients into buttermilk mixture and mix well. Stir in rhubarb. Pour into greased 9-in square baking pan (I used a glass baking dish) Combine topping ingredients and pour over batter. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 45 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla icecream or fresh cream.
Serves 12

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crocodile !

The peaceful setting of the Mooi River belies the danger lurking below

A large Nile crocodile glides silently by as we watch from the riverbank


The severed head of a catfish which fell prey to the crocodile


Last weekend we attended a family wedding in Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal. (You can read about this here) En route home, we slept over at a friend’s guest house in the midlands. This beautiful home is built against a rocky koppie (little mountain) and situated on the Mooi River.

The arrangement for the Saturday afternoon was that the locals from the area would come and view two very important rugby matches on the big screen television. When the first visitors arrived in a helicopter, (this is Africa and in Africa people do strange things, like fly to the next door farm in a helicopter!), the pilot and his girlfriend jumped out and called to us to drive down to the bottom of the property where the river made a bend. They’d seen a huge crocodile taking something big there. We jumped into a pick-up and hared down. Sure enough, when we arrived there, we found the severed head of a very large catfish wallowing in the shallows.

As we watched from the river bank, what looked like a long tree trunk, drifted past. It was a Nile crocodile, the only species of crocodile found in Southern Africa. It is a heavily-armoured reptile with a fearsome reputation as a man-eater. According to my Essential illustrated guide to South African wildlife by Readers Digest, crocodiles can vary in size from 3, 6 – 3, 9 m; and weigh 400 – 600 kg. Apparently the five crocodiles spotted often in this area, far exceed this, one being estimated at approximately 5m long.

I wanted to wait on the bank with my camera at the ready in case this leviathan made its appearance on land, but my darling hubby firmly guided me back into the safety of the vehicle once I had taken the photographs above!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

40 Years of Service and a Five-Year-Old Poem

My linen kist made of embuia, traditional kist wood, is intricately carved and beautifully finished with brass fittings


My prized Write-a-Thons certificates


When the Boers (Afrikaans-speaking farmers) left the South African Cape coast and travelled into the interior during the nineteenth century, they used oxwagens to move their entire households. These also housed personal effects, provisions and weaponry for the journey. You can read about the “Great Trek” (the Great Journey) here. The wagons also served as their homes for the whole time they were on the road. Many a baby was born in an oxwagon. Many a person was laid to rest in unrelenting, harsh African soil after dying in an oxwagon having contracted a deadly disease, such as Black Water Fever.

One of the most important items of furniture for the lady of the [oxwagon] house, was the linen chest. It is known here as a kist, the word having been derived from the Afrikaans “kis” or “wa-kis” (wagon chest). Apart from protecting linen from moths, damp and other damaging elements, the kist also housed spare candles, tinderboxes, baby clothes, precious keepsakes brought from their permanent previous homes and letters from loved ones still living in far-away Holland.

My husband bought me a kist when we first began to date almost forty years ago, (I was the tender age of 16, he was 18) and told me when I was old enough, he wanted to marry me! In my day, the young girls collected linen for their marriage and kept it a kist.

Tidying out my kist last week, my linen long since being relegated to a linen cupboard in my bathroom, I came across many precious mementos. A lock of baby hair wrapped in celephane; this was my older son’s – he is now 34 years old. There were black and white school photos and more recent photos of school reunions. I found a Parker pen and pencil set which my two sons gave me when they were still at school. I unearthed my sons' "First Baby Books" from under the special blue blanket great-granny Nan had crocheted. I sat back on the carpet and paged through each of them.What memories. I re-discovered a huge bundle of yellowing and faded love letters tied up with string. The love letters were handwritten, often on exercise book paper, penned surreptitiously in class, or on blue Croxely writing pad when at home. Is there anyone else out there who can remember dating like this?

On the top green baize-lined shelf, I discovered more recent mementoes: Poems I’d written and submitted to a website in 2004. Now, some of you may have noticed that I love writing! (Ha!) The photograph above is of two respective certificates for partaking in July-Write-A-Thons via a writing website. You are motivated by lovely CL's (community leaders) Eleyne and Mary to write anything and any amount up to 50,000 words in thirty-one days. You can read about here.

However, it was on different website that I submitted poems every month. I thought I might share one of them with you. (Oh, and BTW, I’ve not written any poems since.)

My Garden
Phygelius capensis
Bauhenia natalensis
Agapanthus africanus too
Aloe barberae
Barleria rotundifolia
And an Acacia karroo

A rose by another name...

Cape Fuchsia
Pride of de Kaap
Small blue lily, they say
Tree Aloe
Polygala virgata
Flowering sweet thorn display

My garden, my heaven
Indigenous the leaven
The way to create paradise
Black collared Barbet
African Monarch
Will light up my skies

It's fairly obvious that the poem is about indigenous gardening (in South Africa) and the benefits thereof. However, I have taken poetic licence in some instances so just enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friends

Carina, pictured standing, with two friends at her birthday party



Birthday celebrations are just one of the events that keep us busy in a small town.

In a small farming community, contrary to what city people believe and ponder, there is always a lot to do. Apart from attending birthday parties ranging from fortieth to eightieth, I belong to the local “Home and Garden Club”. I’m also part of a women’s weekly dawn prayer hour (six women meet at my house for prayer) and part of a women’s weekly prayer walk where I meet with five other women and spend an hour walking through town and praying. I have spinning (exercise) classes four times a week and can expect to attend a variety of school, social and old age functions where I take photographs and about which I write articles for a provincial newspaper.

The past week was no different. Aside from the regular appointments, I also attended the birthday celebrations of a dear friend. Carina is not only one of my best friends, she is a spiritual sister as well. She is one of women with whom I do the weekly prayer walk; , she is my confidant when I have a personal issue to share; my springboard when I want to try a new idea; and the best friend to have on a shopping trip to the city. Carina and I have shared dressing rooms while trying on clothes in a boutique. Much giggling is done notwithstanding the fact that we're both grandmothers, and we tell each other honestly what the outfit looks like on!
Carina co-owns town's Nail Salon, with another dear friend of mine, so Carina is my personal manicurist as well! What more can a gal ask for...

On a serious note: I thank God for the day, more than fifteen years ago, when I met Carina.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tiggerscapes

Plannning my hectic shedule for the day is very exhausting
Loads of printing to do on the secretary's day off
Corporate aerobics... mmm, very relaxing
Resting after a hard day at the office

Many years ago my husband and I owned a motor (service) garage in town. Early one winter’s morning, Tigger walked into our workshop. All 200grams of kitten; his wispy ginger fur all spiky, eyes huge in a tiny head. As small as he was, he decided to adopt us and the rest is history.

We often talk about his tenacious nature which stems from that early in his life. Tigger is 12 ½ years old but his perseverance is as strong today as it was then.

As I sit in front of my laptop and [try to] type, Tigger is draped across my left arm. No matter what I do (lift him off, flap a sheet of paper to frighten him or shout at him) Tigger stands (or in this case, ) lies his ground. Tigger always has to be CLOSE to me. On my arm as I work at my desk; on my lap (which I try to avoid), wherever I’m seated; on the printer, which exasperates hubby; ("that cat's ruining an expensive machine"), on my office chair (while I perch on the very edge); on my legs while I dangle off the end of bed at night...

Over the years I’ve tried to analyse this behaviour and all I can come up with is that Tigger suffered from separation anxiety before he found us in 1996 and still suffers from it.
Oh well, as long as one of us is happy and comfortable; it’s normally Tigger.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Strength in Times of Trial


Reading today’s message in "A Farmer’s Year", by Angus Buchan, (renowned , much-loved South African Evangelist) which he quotes in part, from another source, I realised that we are never alone during times of trial and tribulation.

[Quote] “I asked for strength – and God gave me difficulties to strengthen me. I asked for wisdom – and God gave me problems to learn to solve. I asked for courage – and God gave me dangers to overcome. I asked for love – and God gave me troubled people to help. I asked for favours – and God gave me opportunities. I asked for prosperity – and God gave brains and brawn to work. I received nothing I wanted – I received everything I needed. My prayers have been answered. “[Unquote]

At the moment I am waiting for an answer to a specific prayer. Even though God may have something totally different planned for me, I am content that whatever it is, it will be the perfect solution to my problem. I am confident that what the Lord has planned for me, is good because He tells me so in His Holy Word. (Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”)

If you are wondering whether God will answer your prayer, take heart. All you need to do, is to humbly submit to His will and follow Him faithfully . He only wants the best for those who love and obey Him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Zulu Crafts and Traditions

A display or woven baskets, lidded pots and fruit plates



Zulu women weave their goods on the roadside


A woven place mat plaited in the traditional Zulu manner

When shopping for curios in South Africa, popular souvenirs are woven goods. In fact, as a South African, I only buy my household baskets, place mats and grass fruit plates directly from the vendors. They normally sit on the pavement (sidewalk) or beside the road (as in my photo above) with their wares displayed beside them. When you buy an item, the woman will always pass the artefact to you using her right hand only. The palm of her left hand will be under the right forearm. This custom is significant, and serves to assure you that there are no hidden weapons and you have nothing to fear from her.

Zulu beadwork (not shown here) is an art in itself. This traditional craft has a most fascinating manifestation: its own unique language. Every colour has a different meaning. Zulu women can weave a message of love, grief, jealousy, poverty, wealth or uncertainty into her patterned creation. Young Zulu girls, in particular, use the vocabulary of the beads to send sweet (or bitter) thoughts to their loved ones.

On our way back from our family wedding in Kwa-Zulu Natal, which you can read about here, hubby and I stopped at the top of Oliviershoek Pass (http://oliviershoek-pass.html/) where two Zulu women were plying their woven wares. After greeting them in Zulu, (one of the eleven official languages of South Africa and primarily spoken in Kwa-Zulu Natal) I asked whether I could take a photograph. Immediately the younger of the two replied: “Pay me R5” (approximately US .50с) I patiently explained (in her language again) that I wanted to buy an item from her which would earn her more than her charge for a photograph. She laughingly agreed and I got my photo. I then bought a placemat (photographed above) as a gift for Emily , my stalwart, loyal house-lady back home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hunger for Freedom

A while ago my friend, Lynda posted about her birthday present from her husband. (you can read about it here). It was a book called “Hunger for Freedom.” by Anna Trapido. It is the story of food in the life of Nelson Mandela, former South African President and contains many recipes generously shared by home cooks. These recipes are interspersed with stories of the struggle for which Nelson Mandela and his contempories were willing to die.

Ironically, I had just ordered the same book through my book club which I now have in my possession.

(From the introduction to the book)
[Quote] The book is not so much a cookbook as a gastro-political history with recipes. Food has provided the backdrop for momentous personal and political events in Nelson’s life. Life can be measured out in mouthfuls, both bitter and sweet. Tales told in sandwiches, sugar and samoosas* will speak eloquently of intellectual awakenings, emotional longings and, always, the struggle for racial equality. [Unquote]


(*Note: a samoosa is a triangular pastry parcel filled with very spicy minced meat and/or vegetables and deep fried to a crispy brown delectable treat)


Easy-to-make and delicious Rye Bread pictured above with the book "Hunger for Freedom"


Rather than embark on lengthy political story at this stage, suffice to say that for a long time I’d been looking for a recipe for Rye Bread and I've found it in this book.

Quick and easy to make, once the bread was baked, I let it cool and then sliced it with an electric carving knife (I always slice bread this way). Carefully replacing the whole sliced loaf in a plastic bag, I sealed and froze it. This way I’m able to remove two slices, defrost and enjoy them with a filling of my choice.

Rye Bread

1 ½ cups rye flour
3 cups bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoon butter
1 ¼ cups warm water

Mix all dry ingredients. Combine butter, molasses and water.
Mix well and add to dry ingredients
Mix until dough forms a ball (add a little extra water if necessary)
Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
Set dough aside in oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise double in size (about 1 hour)
Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into rectangular ball
Place in greased and floured loaf tin 26cm x 9cm; cover with a damp towel
Allow to rise again, double in size, about 1 hour.
Bake in preheated oven 180° C for about an hour
Turn out onto cooling rack.
(Bread is cooked when it makes a hollow sound when tapped)


When asked once which [important] earthly person I'd most like to meet, I can honestly say: Nelson Mandela. I'd love to meet this man who could forgive all that was perpetuated against him; come out of prison after twenty-seven years and promote peace and love to all around.


So even though I may not always post recipes from this book, I may, from time to time, post interesting snippets about the life of this man whose unstinting appetite for freedom has nourished South Africa and the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keeping Time ...

Our church worship team - my son, the bass guitarist is on the right and his wif, is in the middle centre; I'm at the back behind my keyboard with the new drummer to my left
I’ve always been involved in music... church music.
In the sixties, my sister and I played the wind-operated pedal organ in our little country church when the regular organist was indisposed or on leave. Two pre-teenagers who shared absolutely everything, one Sunday we decided to share the hymns for the service. This was no problem except that I was not as diligent about practising as my sister. When the congregation rose to sing one of the more difficult hymns, I told my sister to play it although it was my song. Even though we were very close, we had our differences and this time was no exception! My younger sibling insisted that it was MY song and that I play it. So we argued back and forth for a minute while the congregation waited for the accompaniment to begin. Eventually the minister realised what was happening and told us to “get on with it and start the hymn” which one of us did immediately (I cannot remember who!)

Time went by; I grew up and as a married woman, I was the church organist for about thirty years. However, it was only at the beginning of 2007, when my son’s fiancé (now my younger daughter-in-law) the worship leader in the church,
invited me to play the piano keyboard in the band in this church. Soon after this, my younger son took up guitar lessons and is the bass guitarist in the band. My older son was the drummer. As if that's not enough (!), my older daughter-in-law was in charge of “Open Song” which meant she operated a computer at the back of the church ensuring that the text and graphics were projected onto the wall behind us musicians. This “family affair” came to an end when my older son and his family moved to Y-WAM a while ago.

As a conventional church organist I was always on my own. As part of the worship team in a Bible-based church, I experience unity and I have a ministry. I also have a challenge. I have to WALK the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to my faith. The Lord doesn’t want my talents or my time, he wants me to draw closer to Him and get to know Him better. (“I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings. “Hosea 6:6)

God doesn’t want me to hurt, slander and antagonise people. If I profess to have the Lord Jesus as my Saviour, I must excersise discipline, I must guard my tongue and I must show love and mercy to all people at all times. (“No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Michah 6:8)
You see, as a committed Christian I need to show mercy, love and tolerance to everyone while at the same time, I need to get to know God better.
I have to "keep time" and stay in God's will so that my ministry is not null and void.
May God bless you in your specific ministry.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to School!

The much-thumbed instruction book in the middle. An extra book is on the right, while the very important learner's licence certificate is on the left!

My pristine motorbike (front) waiting for me to ride it!

One would think that by the time you reach your fifties, writing tests would be anightmare relegated to the past. Not me. Two years ago, when I returned home after working in West Africa (more about this in a future post), I decided to brush up my knowledge of the ethnic language spoken in the Free State. I signed up for a course in SeSotho and began as a Grade 3 pupil. At the end of the first year, I wrote an exam and after swotting very hard, I passed. I’m now a Grade 5 pupil and continue to learn Sesotho much to the relief of my house- and garden staff!

In February this year, my husband bought me a motorbike for my birthday. For our family, this is not a strange thing. We bought our first motor bike - a Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster - in 2002 and travelled all over the country on it. Eighteen months ago, I wanted to surprise my husband when he returned home on break and bought him a BMW 1200 GS with very low mileage. Six months later we replaced it with a brand-new model and have travelled extensively on this very comfortable road bike.

I digress; as I said, earlier this year hubby bought me a motorbike to use around town. It is not as huge or powerful as his but it is shiny, it's red and it's very new. It's new because I’ve not actually ridden it yet. And the reason why I’ve not ridden it is that I do not have a motorbike licence!

Garnering courage, I finally booked an appointment for a learners licence and then I began to learn. I used the three weeks at my disposal to learn everything in the K53 book albeit parrot-fashion. I think I drove my family (two sons and two daughters-in-law have recently passed their motorbike learner’s licences) and my husband crazy! At every opportunity, I’d corner them and ask them whether I’d be asked this or that question. On one occasion I asked my hubby what I have to do when I want to make a right turn. His answer: (remember: he’s being riding motorbikes since he was about twelve!) “You give the accelerator a good ‘blip’, turn the handlebars and roar off in the new direction.” (Biker-speak "blip" = accelerate even more) Ha!

On the day of the test, I had to be at the motor vehicle testing office by 7.30am. The sturdily-built examining officer eventually arrived at 8.20am (this is Africa, Africa time prevails) He called us into the exam room and stalking around smacking a stick against his thigh to accentuate his words (the stick was like the one teachers used when I was at school, to point out things on the blackboard and every so often, to wake a dreaming learner ), he rattled off the rules of the exam: "All handbags in the corner, (thwack!) cell /mobile phones turned off (thwack!), and placed (thwack!) on my table" (thwack!). "If I catch you cribbing (thwack!), I'll confiscate your paper (thwack!) and you'll be (thwack!) banned from ever(thwack!) writing your learner's licence" (thwack, thwack!) .
Eventually, he placed the forms in front of us, and said: "Don't (thwack!) touch your forms until I (thwack!) tell you to" You start at (thwack!) 8.30 and you have (thwack!) one hour, I repeat (thwack!) one hour!(thwack, thwack!)" All eyes were on the clock on the wall which seemed maddeningly slow this morning. As the long hand reached the six, he said: (sotto voce, this time!) "You may begin" Once I started to do the test, all my “knowledge” (ha!) came flowing out of my brain into my fingertips. An hour later I handed my paper in, and was told to wait in the outer office. At 10.15 he came out with my form (I was the only one of two candidates who had passed) and I had to make two thumbprints on it. Then I stood in the queue and eventually (at 10.45) when I reached the front and handed my form in, it was processed and viola! I had my learner’s licence!
I now have eighteen months to learn how to ride my motorbike and go for the practical riding test.

One thing I’ve realised about this test: I’ve been driving in South Africa for almost forty years and only NOW I know what most of the road signs mean! Perhaps it should be compulsory for anyone over 45 to re-write this test...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Family Wedding Celebrations


The bride and groom before the wedding; here they were quite nervous!

This weekend my husband and I motored down to Durban the East Coast city of Kwa-Zulu Natal to attend a close family wedding. Now since I have two sons and both are married, who on earth could have got married? None other than my mother-in-law! Yes, at 80, she has married again. She has been widowed for twelve years and we are delighted that she has found love and happiness in her golden years.

My mother-in-law has never been an “old” woman. Even when I met my husband (while we were both at high school) and kids thought parents were middle-aged, my mother-in-law was not! She 'd attend school functions beautifully made-up, wearing a little black number, poised on stilettos and with her blonde hair in a fashionable chignon.

Well, last Friday, forty years later, was no different; she looked just as elegant and slim as I’ve always known her to be. (Still wearing stilletos!)


My mother-in-law poses with her youngest sister

Wedding vows

The wedding was conducted in the minister’s home. My mother-in-law's youngest sister also attended the ceremony. She is the matron of the Home for the Aged, where the happy couple met and fell in love. The husband and wife clergy shared the proceedings and afterwards we all enjoyed a lovely wedding tea in their home.

Old-marrieds (hubby and I) pose with the newly-weds!

A blessed day in our lives; we feel a lot more relaxed knowing my mother-in-law is being cared for by a man who loves her very much.