Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pam's 80th Birthday Luncheon

The invitation I sent out for mum-in-law, Pam's birthday luncheon (It can be enlarged for clarity)
The back of the invitation card with all the the details Our darling grandchildren were dressed in their best party finery. Here they wait patiently while the adults to get ready. Our little boy had new sandals to match his new clothes, while our granddaughter had high-heeled sandals and lilac tights to match her checked skirt and lilac top

Grant, our sons and daugthers-in-law enjoy coffee and biscotti on the deck of the hotel while waiting for the guest of honour to arrive. My maternal aunt Kay is sitting behind Angus

Last month I posted a birthday wish to my mother-in-law, Pam, which you can read about here. As she turned eighty this year, I wanted to do something special for her. I arranged a surprise luncheon at a hotel in a in Kwa Zulu Natal. (Everyone except Grant and I, Angus and Amanda lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal) I sent out special invitations which had a photo of her as a 24-year-old on the front and all the details of the lunch on the reverse.

On Saturday, 20th June, her close family and friends gathered at the hotel and waited for my mum-in-law and her husband, Graham (after being a widow for thirteen years, she met Graham and theymarried last year in October. You can read about here) to arrive with her sister, Carole. The latter had managed to convince mum-in-law that Gill (their sister) and David, their brother wanted to meet Graham and that they were all going for lunch at this specific hotel.

Pam's brother, David spoke a special blessing and prophesy over Pam and Graham

My older daughter-in-law, Debbie, pays tribute to Pam by reading about the NobleWife in Proverbs 31

You can imagine how surprised and overwhelmed my mum-in-law was when she saw my husband whom she thought was still in the Sudan, her grandsons and wives, great-grandchildren as well as her siblings.

It turned out to be a wonderful reunion for most of us who had not seen each other for decades. The last time Carole had seen Angus was when he was four years old! Here he was a grown man with a wife and a baby of their own on the way! My husband and I had not seen David and his wife since their marriage more than thirty years ago (my husband was David’s best man ), so our meeting was very enjoyable as well. My maternal aunt Kay is always included in the Hedges family socials. She has been part of my family for 52 years and knew Pam and my late father-in-law well.

Here Debbbie poses with the oldest member and the youngest member of the Hedges family while admiring the birthday cake

Our grandchildren had been looking forward to the “party” for weeks; in fact, our granddaughter had been counting the “sleeps” since the beginning of that week. On Saturday morning, they were awake at daybreak asking if this was the day of the party. I dressed them both and as we adults still had to get ready, these two little children sat quietly on the sofa and waited for us to finish. We had bought new shoes for both of them; sandals for our grandson and beautiful black sandals with a high heel for our granddaughter. She loves “tippy-toes” because she wants to be like Granjo who only wears high heels when going out! They both looked adorable and were on their best behaviour at the dinner table. They were allowed unlimited glasses of fizzy drinks (sodas) which they do not normally get. They asked to be excused soon after the second course and went outside to play in the hotel garden. By the end of the afternoon, after playing on the slide and in old car tyres, their faces, hands and clothes were black and rather unrecognisable from the morning! They had a wonderful time!

The guests at Pam's birthday luncheon

Once all the family had arrived, greeted each other, most exclaiming that they'd not seen each other for years, they all tood their places at the table. Pam sat at the head as befits the guest of honour. Angus then opened the occassion with a beautiful prayer of blessing over all who have come to share the time with Pam and at the same time, said grace for the food which would be served and enjoyed together.
After Grant's beautiful speech in which he paid tribute to his mum, various others also blessed Pam with special words and prayers. David spoke a special blessing over her and Graham and prophesied that they were entering a new season in their lives: that of being together and serving God together. Debbie had a word from God in the form of Proverbs 31 which she read to Pam. A very special homage to a very special lady. (When I spoke to Pam today, she told me she had a lump in her throat at this)

Get-togethers like these make me realise that the most important thing in life is people; your relationships with them and the effort you make to strengthen those associations.

No property, money or possessions should take precedence over people. When a man is lying on his death bed, he doesn’t to see his bank balance, wealth, fancy car, career or game farm; no, all he wants is to have his loved ones around him. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus warns us: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in. Store up your treasures in heaven where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also. “
So while we are on this earth, we need to nuture bonds with our family and friends. Don't leave this too late. Make that little effort to pop in and see your ageing mum in the retirement home, spend half an hour visiting your neighbour, take a few minutes to ask the lady at the supermarket check-out point how her day is faring. This is just one way of storing up treasures in heaven...
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Disastrous trip to Johannesburg!

Tigger looking very relaxed on the two piles of books while the humans stress about air-tickets!

Yesterday – Sunday – was not a day I’d want to repeat in a hurry. My husband’s leave had come to an end and he was due to catch a plane back to the Sudan at 14h15, South African time. We travelled up to Johannesburg (330 kms/208 miles) from our home. I left him at the International Departures and weaved my back into the city traffic to come home.

Half an hour later I had left city behind me and phoned my husband to say I was on the National highway and on my way home. (This is an arrangement we always have; he likes to know that I’ve managed to get out of the traffic.)

100miles/160km down the freeway, my cell phone rang and it was my husband. He was furious and asked me to turn around and come back to the airport to fetch him. Even though his e-ticket was perfectly in order, there seemed to be an administrative glitch and he couldn’t board his plane. No amount of begging and pleading up in the airline office would convince the clerk that he needed be on that plane.

Meanwhile Angus and Amanda (our younger son and dil) were in Johannesburg on business and had decided to meet my husband at the airport before he left. Ultimately they collected him and brought him to the toll gate on the Freeway. I had turned around and driven the distance up to the toll gate; we met, exchanged passengers (my very irate husband!); they turned and drove back to Johannesburg. My husband got back into the driver’s seat of our car and we came home.

At the moment we are in the process of phoning the airlines offices (which only operate on weekdays!) and hope to get the ticket re-instated as soon as possible. I don’t know whether we will be able to make it back to Johannesburg today or if we will travel up again tomorrow. All very stressful and most tiring, *sigh*

Note: I posted a photograph of Tigger relaxing on two sets of books. Anything to bring a level of peace into the situation. (lol)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Poplar Trees and a Dam along the Route

All along the road when you travel in the Eastern Free State, you will come across peaceful and idyllic scenes. A few weeks ago I took my littlest and oldest dog, Megan, to be clipped in Ladybrand while I did my monthly grocery shopping. On the way back, she and I stopped and admired the view. This was what we came up with. (Of course I always have my camera handy...)

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Special Father's Day

The little church in the middle of the dam where our grandchildren were dedicated last Sunday (Photo by Debbie Hedges)
On Sunday 21 June, we here in South Africa honoured all fathers around the country. In our own family, we celebrated a very special occasion; that of my son, John and daughter-in-law Debbie dedicating our three grandchildren to the Lord during the church service. Although there is no specific Scriptural law stating you should dedicate your children, parents do this when they pledge to bring up their children in the fear of God which is true wisdom (Job 28:28) and according to His will. John and Debbie publically promised that by their love and respect for each other, they would create a Godly home and environment for their three children which will ultimately encourage these little ones to grow in their love of Christ.

The latest and littlest addition to our family was dedicated in church with her older brother and sister
The view of the mountains visible through the church window
Here my husband and I pose with our oldest son, John

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunrise over the Sea

The winter sun, creates a warm glow, as it rises over the sea on the east coast of South Africa

While we are experiencing extremely cold winter weather (9°C) during the day here in central South Africa, my sister-in-law, who lives at the coast, is sweltering under 29°C!

In June 2007, while visiting them, I managed to capture some beautiful photos of the sun rising over the sea.

Nature paints a warm palette over the indigenous bush and the sea

My s.i.l. and her husband (my husband’s brother) have a home whose garden leads out onto the beach. (How blessed is that!) They, unlike us, are late sleepers and never rise until after 8.30 on weekdays and around midday over the weekends. When my s.i.l. saw these photos on my computer, she asked where I had taken them...

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Wife of Noble Character

My husband and me on our wedding day in 1972

A wife of noble character … is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing … Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her (Proverbs 31:10-11, 28).

This chapter in the Bible was written at a time when women had almost no rights. The woman in Proverbs was well ahead of her time – she was independent, self-sufficient and intelligent. There was also a special relationship between this woman and her husband. We read that he admired her and had confidence in her.
My husband and me in March this year - I thank God for 37 wonderful years together
There are two aspects in particular that make a marriage flourish: admiration and trust. If you show your husband that you still admire and trust him, the love between the two of you will grow from year to year. If your husband can see from your behaviour towards him that you trust him, he will be much more inclined to act responsibly. And don’t forget to tell him how special he is to you!

In his book, “His Needs, Her Needs”, Willard F Harley writes that the five most important needs that a man expects his wife to meet are sexual fulfilment, friendship, attractiveness, homemaking and admiration.
Your husband is therefore intently looking for love and admiration – give it to him and let your children become aware of it. This will definitely do you marriage a world of good.

Source: Beside Springs of Water – Nina Smit

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Angie and Grant Catch Up

At eleven and a half months, Angie's grip is very strong. Here she enjoys a good tussle with Grant

Having been gone for three and a half months, my husband noticed a huge difference in Angie’s growth. He says not only has she become taller and filled out; her level of confidence is far higher than when he left in March.
"There's dad's good girl!"

Yesterday he and Angie had a fine time playing with her rope toy. I managed to catch a few action photos.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Red-Lipped Herald (Snake)

We found this delightful little guy sunning itself against my son's house on Saturday evening

If you enlarge this photo, you will notice the "red lip" which gives this snake his name

On Saturday evening we discovered this little snake, a Red-lipped Herald (Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia) sunning itself against the wall of my son’s house in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This aggressive but easy-to-tame (don’t tell my 6 year-old granddaughter, she would have it in a box indoors in no time at all!) snake is one of the most widespread in South Africa.

This reptile has an olive to green-black body (approximately 80cm/2 ½ ft long) and is found in savannah and open grasslands (my son's home is surrounded by open veld/grasslands). Its habits are nocturnal but it comes out in the late afternoon (as in this case) to catch the last of the sun. It is also found in gardens.

Regular readers to my blog will know that I do not kill anything in my garden. I always catch and remove snakes from my property rather than kill them. (I take them to the edges of the golf course three doors down the street from me)

It is totally harmless.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To carb or not to carb...

Whole wheat kernels as a carbohydrate accompaniment to Roasted Vegetables and Grilled Haloumi Cheese
Season with a dash of Balsamic vinegar if desired

A few months ago I posted about the many diet-friendly recipes I was placing on my blog. I had rejoined a weight loss club in August last year and achieved my goal weight by mid-September when my husband came home from Zambia. He stayed home until 4th March when his new contract, this time in the Sudan began. I then returned to my weekly weight loss classes and found that I’d maintained my weight during the six months I could not attend. The reason for this is that I do NOT follow a drastic diet of self-denial, starvation or gimmicks. The diet I follow with this weight loss club is a lifestyle and can be incorporated into every day life.

I ran the weight loss club in our town from 2000 – 2004. I handed over my group to a successful member of my team because I went up to Guinea to be with my husband and at the same time was employed by the gold mine company for three years. Many people achieved their goal weight in my group and have maintained their weight over the years. They applied the correct principles and today they are reaping the benefits. Those who used the group as a quick-fix and followed their own rules of starvation and special diets either never lost any significant weight or regained their weight and a bit more on top of that.

I regularly come across people (especially those in my age group) who are trying to lose weight. Some of them attended my weight loss classes and know the correct way to lose weight, yet now they try every imaginable weight loss gimmick on the market. They also follow the starvation diet or the cabbage soup diet or the apple vinegar diet...
Many of them (mainly men!) come and see me privately and ask me to help them lose weight again. Every time I go through the formula and plan with them and give them diet-friendly recipes and tips. (I’m not a group leader any longer, but I don't mind helping people) Yet when I show them that they have to incorporate enough carbohydrates into their daily eating plan, they immediately tell me that this food group makes them fat! So it’s back to square one with them; they leave here having forgotten everything I shared with them and they decide follow the latest fad diet published in that weeks’ magazine.

Carbohydrates (or starches) are a very important part of losing weight and maintaining that weight loss.. You need to eat five portions of carbohydrates per day. The secret is: WHAT carbohydrates can you eat? No use consuming a cream donut or a meat pie and expecting to lose weight. The ideal carbohydrates are made from unrefined products such as whole wheat, maize grits and rye flour, to name but a few.

In order to avoid boredom with my meals, I have a variety of carbohydrates which I enjoy with my vegetables, lentil stews and tomato and onion relishes. The list is endless: pastas, all types; couscous, wild and brown rice, polenta, coarsely ground maize meal, whole wheat kernels and quinoa, pronounced keen-wa and on which I have a post coming up.

In the vegetable realm you have sweet potato (similar to a yam), potatoes, amadumbe (also yam-like), whole kernel maize or baby corn or sweet corn, potato or baby potato and parsnips. These are just starches to be eaten at the midday or evening meal. I’m not even touching on the wide variety of healthy choices of carbohydrates in breakfast foods (cereals and porridges) or light lunch/snacks: breads and crackers.

So the bottom line is, enjoy a variety healthy carbohydrates daily. Take care to apportion them on your plate – between 50-70g, two to three heaped tablespoons or 1/3 cup when cooked.

Last weekend I cooked a portion of whole wheat kernels instead of the pita I normally have when enjoying my Roasted Vegetable and Grilled Halloumi Cheese.

What is whole wheat?
Modern wheat is descended from two ancient grains, Emmer and Einkorn. These early wheats hybridised with wild grasses to form spelt wheat and bread wheat. Spelt wheat is easier to hand thresh, so it was the more popular variety before the advent of mechanisation. Modern wheat is more suited to mechanisation because once the initial threshing is complete, no further processing is required.

What are the benefits of whole wheat kernels?
A nutty flavour and high nutrient density make it an excellent base for vegetarian meals as well as a substitute for rice.
It is cholesterol free
Low in fat
Slow release carbohydrate food
Excellent food source for diabetics, sportsmen and people on cholesterol lowering diets.
Very high in fibre
Sugar free
Preservative free

Cooking tips:

It needs to be soaked overnight to soften the grain. Then boil in enough salted water until soft and plumped up.

What are its uses?
Whole wheat kernels can be used in place of rice. It can also be sprouted by placing in a jar and covering with warm water. I have a bean sprouter and have sprouted these kernels with great success.

So I urge you. If you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan, opt for a large variety of carbohydrates to enjoy with your meat and vegetables. You’ll be surprised how much energy you’ll have and how healthy you will feel. Just ensure you practice portion control and that your accompanying food is also low- fat, unrefined and sugar free.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Camping with a Motorcycle Part 2

My husband relaxes in our campsite shortly after arriving at Mahai

Last week I posted about our motorcycle trip and had many interesting comments. Here is part two:
Once we’d packed up camp in Golden Gate National Highlands Park which I posted about here, we travelled to the Northern Drakensberg where we had booked into Mahai Camp. Mahai is a beautifully situated campsite featuring 120 large campsites nestled along the Mahai River with magnificent mountains forming the backdrop.

Once again, when my husband and I arrived here, we were conspicuous by our minimalist set –up. While making our bed inside the tent (two sleeping bags opened and zipped together to form a double covering) I heard my husband greet the two gentleman camped next door. They were elderly brothers and wealthy farmers from the Northern Cape. The first thing of them said to hubby, was: “Engelsman, jy het die regte idée”. Translated this is: “Englishman, you have the right idea.” Checking out their camp a few minutes later, where their womenfolk were cooking up a storm which made my mouth water, I saw what my husband’s newly-made friend was talking about. They had two four-wheel drive vehicles, an off-road trailer, a caravan, a tent and an awning which housed the kitchen area.

Mahai campsite is situated on the Mahai River.Indigenous bush surrounds the camp and huge pine trees provide shade and protection. The mountains rise up in the background

We arrive, we set up camp, we relax ...
Our tent (the little red one in the foreground) looks miniscule compared to the sprawling set-up of our neighbours behind it

Just beyond the campsite, a concrete pathway runs through the indigenous bush along the Mahai River. A gentle amble along here (suitable for wheelchairs or baby strollers) yields abundant birdlife and very interesting flora.

There are a number of hikes into the mountains ranging from a 1, 5km (<1mile)> (38 3/4 mile) severe 4-5 day escarpment traverse.

The Park’s name was changed from Natal National Park to Royal Natal National Park after the British Royal family’s visit to South Africa and this specific park in 1947.

My husband poses on the bridge across the Mahai River, patiently waiting for me while I take photos

Deer, although wild, wander around the campsites completely unafraid
Packed up and ready to go!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Collecting my Husband

Uh-oh, it sounds as if I'm off to a collection depot to pick up my mail-order bridegroom!

Not so.

I am off to the city of Johannesburg to wait for my husband of thirty-seven years, whose flight is due, at 16h15 South African time today.

Above and below are photos of some of the traffic conditions I can expect to encounter in the city on Monday. This may not seem too serious for city dwellers who commute to and from work on a daily basis. But for me, a bit of a country bumpkin, it can be quite daunting. However, I know Johannesburg very well and know the way to the airport like the back of my hand -lol! I'm not at all nervous to drive in traffic as the Lord and His many angels will protect me as I travel. I have a GPS (at my husbands insistance - as I said, I know the route well!) and will leave home early on Monday morning. I would rather spend a couple of hours sitting in the airport arrivals lounge (ugh!) than be late because there'd been a traffic jam/bottleneck at the last minute. I always have my knitting in my bag so I will keep busy while I wait for the plane. Oh, and I love people-watching and I'll have my camera with me...

The traffic in Johannesburg can be quite daunting to someone from the country! I'm quite confident in traffic and know the route quite well.
My husband should arrive today at 16h15, South African time\

We will travel back to our home in the Free State on Monday night.

On Wednesday we'll drive down to Kwa-Zulu Natal to spend a few days with son and daughter-in-law, John and Debbie and our precious grandchildren. My husband has not "met" his latest granddaughter as he was already away when she was born which you can read about here, if you like.

On Saturday 20th June, I have arranged a surprise luncheon for my mum-in-law who turned 80 in May. Family and friends will gather at a hotel in Hilton (just outside Pietermaritzburg) and honour this dear lady on her very special birthday.

On Sunday dh and I will travel back home to the Free State where we will relax for the next few days until he has to fly off to the Sudan again.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to post blogs but I intend to enjoy this break with my husband. I'll probably be back once he has left South Africa again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Truly Scenic Sunday at Home

While waiting in the car outside church last Sunday, I noticed this perfect line of trees in their autumnal garb. Of course, I always have my Sony Digital camera with me...
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sharing God's Goodness

Sing joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of His Name.
Tell the world how glorious He is.
Say to God: “How awesome are Your deeds”
Psalm 66: 1- 3a

When God demonstrates His power and care for us, we need to share this with others. We are not alone in our trouble. Some of our friends are facing the same problems that we do. Our thanks to God for His deliverance can become a source of hope and inspiration.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Sunrise over Fouriesburg Dam

Last week I posted Sunrise over Fouriesburg Dam on SkyWatch Friday. These photos were taken a few minutes later to the right of the dam in that post.

It's amazing how the colours differ in the same sunrise!

Soft pink clouds reflected in the cold dark water of the dam

The sun begins to emerge from behind the trees
Finally the warmth of the sun is visible behind the trees and reflected in the water

For more beautiful sky photos click here. (Thanks to Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Ivar and Fishing Guy for this fantastic site.)