Friday, April 30, 2010

Burning Fronds?

North African summer sunrise
For more beautiful skies, click on this Skywatch link.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Serving God

[The people said to Joshua] we will serve the Lord our God, we will obey Him only. Joshua 24:24

There are certain matters that are settled matters:

Firstly, we should be determined to serve our God.
Next, we should make it a priority to do what God says we should do.
We should serve the Lord our God and obey Him.

If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with properity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant
Job 36:11
This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before.
1 Thessalonians 4:11

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mission Dustbusters in Khartoum!

Above is only one of the areas where the dust entered the apartment.
Yucky hey?
Yesterday I posted about the beautiful sideboard our neighbour, and a skilled carpenter, Mohamed, made for us. You can scroll down to read about it if you wish.

This week Grant invited Mohamed up for a Coca Cola and to discuss another project with him. (Nothing is rushed here in the Sudan - copious cups of tea, fresh fruit juice or glasses of Coke are consumed while discussing issues!) Grant has asked Mohamed to build two doors for us. These will be at the top of the first flight of [down]stairs and at the bottom of the next flight up.

The reason we'd like to close off the [open] staircase is that we are on a mission to keep out all manner of dust from now on. Before I arrived in August last year, Grant blocked up all the openings under the unused doors which lead out onto the unused front balcony. Now with the onset of summer which brings severe dust storms, we decided to do it again, but this time we'd ensure that NO dust would come into the apartment. Ever again!

For the past three days we've removed twenty-six floor-length curtains and five terrylene (net) curtains. I've washed them (I had to do each one three times!) and dried them on the line. It's so hot here that by the time the next curtain had been washed, the first one on the line had dried.

Once the windows and walls were exposed, we realised how much dust actually clung to them. I vacuumed and washed each one after which Grant sealed all the window frames with masking tape. We never open windows here because of the airconditioning. While I finished vacuuming and washing the floors, Grant hung the curtains up again.

The newly washed curtains hang against clean walls and windows

The outer door (never used) in the spare room. Grant sealed the bottom, taped the rest up and re-hung the curtains

Behind this board were broken and missing louvres. No dust will ever penetrate this barricade again!
The worst culprit was in the entrance hall window. The louvre panes were cracked, broken or had fallen out. As the weather comes directly from that side, most of the dust entered the flat through these. Grant boarded the window up completely and taped it down for good measure. Ha!
Two doors will be fitted at the top and bottom of the stairs in the photo
Mohamed has already done the measurements and bought the wood for the doors. He is hard at work and we think that our doors will be ready by the weekend. I will be taking photos of him at work in the area above as he fits the doors.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Khartoum Neighbours

Mohamed poses in front of the sideboard he made me

In February I posted about going out to meet my neighbours across the road. You can read about this here.

The gentleman of the house, Mohamed, is a master carpenter. We'd seen him hard at work in his courtyard, making furniture. I needed a sideboard for my diningroom (none here before as there's never been a woman in this apartment, ha!) so I asked him to come over and meet my husband. He did and during the course of conversation, Grant asked him if he'd make the piece of furniture for us. I had downloaded a photo from the Internet which we gave to him. The two men discussed measurements and the price and soon Mohamed excused himself. He said he wanted to get to Souq Omdurman (the market) to look for good but reasonably priced wood.
This is the exact replica of a model I'd seen on an upmarket UK website
Within two days Mohamed phoned me and asked if he could deliver the sideboard. Two young men duly arrived and carried the furniture up the stairs to our apartment with Mohamed [obviously] warning them in Arabic not to bump it, etc. They placed sideboard where I indicated and I asked Mohamed to pose in front of it.

Now I have storage place for the serviettes, papertowels, table linen, cruet sets and the myriad items needed for a properly-set dinner table!

Grant has just invited Mohamed over again to discuss another carpentry project with him. We need two doors to seal off the stairs. (More about this when Mohamed has completed the job)

For more on other worlds, click here

Monday, April 26, 2010

Khartoum Birds

Put my right foot out...

Last week I was up on the roof photographing the sunrise when a resident pair of feral pigeons landed on the opposite parapet wall.

No dear. Like this: you put your left foot out...

Focussing on them, I captured these images (photos 1 - 4)

Shake it all about...
Do the hokey pokey with me!

A few minutes later I came downstairs to our apartment balcony. I wanted to see if any birds had arrived at the fruit platter I place on the wall every morning. I was abundantly rewarded by two Common Bulbuls; one who had come in to land and the second one flicking a piece of banana into its mouth. (See its tongue clearly visible in the photo below)


I'm on guard

Waiting his turn at the fruit was a little sparrow (above).

Me? I'm a laughing dove. Ha-ha!

As I panned along the rail, I spotted this laughing dove who always comes for the seed which spills from the budgies' cage. Rather a serious looking laughing dove, I thought!

I've been using my new Canon Powershot. While I'm managing to get clear shots across a reasonable distance, I am struggling with colour. Any suggestions and/or criticism from my readers will be most welcome.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birds Eye View

A birds eye view of the campsite at Golden Gate National Park

Near the end of our leave back home in South Africa, we went camping at Golden Gate National Park. You can read about this here. While hiking in the mountains on Easter Sunday, I took many photos, not least of them the one above.

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here.

Khartoum Cats, continued

The calico cat tucks into her meal
A couple of months ago, I posted about the cats of Khartoum and my involvement with them. You can read about this here.
A few days after arriving back at the apartment, Grant went downstairs one evening to take out the garbage. When he returned, he told me that there was a new stray cat on the porch. I immediately prepared a meal of mince and milk which he took down to the starving animal,

I wonder what she'd say if she could speak...

Initially we thought this was a different cat to the one we'd been feeding before going out on leave. She was thinner, seemed younger and totally unafraid. In fact, she waits near our feet while we're placing her food on the ground. However, referring back at the post on her, we saw the same black moustache is visible.
Yesterday morning, we fed her (as we do in the evening) yet at midmorning when I went downstairs, she was at the door meouwing pitifully. I came back upstairs *sigh* and filled a plate with mince and milk. While she proceeded to clean this second helping of food, I knelt down and inspected her tummy. Sure enough, her teats were visible through the fur. Either she is pregnant (again) or has had her kittens. If the latter is true, I have no idea where she may have hidden them.
Where do you go to my lovely?

I have checked the whole courtyard and the outbuildings and found nothing. Perhaps the kittens are in the yard next door. We will probably never know.

We continue to feed the cat...

For more on pets around the world, click Pet Pride here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trust Him

Take delight in the Lord and He will give your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you. Psalm 37:4-5

Friday, April 23, 2010

Early morning over Omdurman

For beautiful skies around the world, click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chickpea, tomato and eggplant casserole

Last week I decided to make a chickpea casserole. On occasion I've made falafels (recipe to follow) but I generally only use chickpeas in salads or pureed as hummus. I also only use use canned chickpeas; the dried variety takes far too long to soften.

Chickpeas are legumes. These edible pulses are high in dietary fibre, low in fat, contain a significant amount of calcium and are a valuable source of protein. Chickpeas are also knows as garbanzo beans.

I found an easy recipe on the Internet and tweaked it a little (I added corgettes/zucchinnis and pumpkin) It was delicious.

Baked Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Casserole –

3 cups cooked Chickpeas (I used canned, drained)
2 eggplants, unpeeled and cut into 2 ins/50mm cubes
3 onions, sliced
1 cup diced butternut or pumpkin of your choice
2 corgettes, sliced
2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
1 ½ cup vegetable stock
10ml olive oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
Add a little olive oil to a pan and heat
Brown the eggplant and onion rings, remove and place in casserole
Brown the pumpkin and corgette, remove and add to casserole
Add the chickpeas and decorate with sliced tomatoes
Gently pour the stock over, cover and bake in oven for 30 minutes
Remove the cover and grill for a further 5-8 minutes
Serve immediately with rice and a green salad

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Khartoum, Jo needs the dentist!

Just before we went out on leave in March, my husband, who is petrified of dentists, needed to see one here in Khartoum. You can read about this here.

On Sunday, while drinking a glass of ice-cold water, I suddenly experienced a sharp pang in one of my molars in the leftside of my mouth. Not being one to procrastinate (like some I know... lol!), I asked Grant to call his now-favourite-dentist and make me an appointment.

Well, the time and date is set. I see Dr Hamo of Smile Dental Clinic at 8pm tonight. That's right. Eight o'clock this evening. This is Africa and you can have doctors' and dentists' appointments at these weird times. I count myself blessed that it's not at 10.30pm!

So tonight it's off to the dentist with me. Oh well, I know I will get a good sunset photo while travelling across the city.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Khartoum, my world from the rooftop

For other worlds around the globe, click here.

Thanks to Klaus Sandy Wren Fishing Guy Sylvia for this amazing meme.

Monday, April 19, 2010


A juvenile White bellied sunbird hawks for his dinner in my garden

The day before we left South Africa, I strolled around my garden, three dogs and two cats in tow, with my camera at the ready. My new camera...
Just before the sun disappeared over the horizon, I spotted this young White bellied sunbird in the Acacia karoo (Sweet thorn). He was hawing for the many insects flying about.
While I have to still learn the settings on my camera, I thought I'd post these first photos captured with it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Glowing Mushroom Rock

The last rays of the sun play over the sandstone cliffs of Golden Gate
in the Free State

While there has not yet been opportunity here in Khartoum to take photos of pretty scenes, I'll continue to use images captured while motorcycling through our beautiful South Africa last month.

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Khartoum Curry is well

Dinner is served, Sir
Be there in a minute, Jeeves. Just testing the marrow bone aperitif
By golly my man, you haven't lost your touch

While we were out in South Africa for more than a month, I worried constantly about Curry. You can read about Curry here and here. Marcell, who always feeds him when we are away, also went home to the Phillipines at the beginning of March. Nevertheless, when Grant went to the workshop on Monday morning, Curry was there to meet him. He is a little thin, but not emaciated. Grant said that he whimpered when he realised who was back! There were also signs of the workshop technicians having fed him, which was heartening to say the least.

On Friday morning, I accompanied Grant to the workshop and sure enough: although Curry looks a little lanky, he is muscular and didn't gobble the food at all. He picked out his bone and took it to a safe place behind the Maersk container. When he tucked into the plate of food his human had dished up, he didn't even realise that it contained a large dose of deworming medicine.

For more posts on pets, click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty Proverbs 21:5
Choose a good reputation over great riches; for being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1
A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls Proverbs 25:28
Pride ends in humiliation while humility brings honour
Proverbs 29:23
Worry weighs a person down;
an encouraging word cheers a person up
Proverbs 12:25

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sunset over East Africa

A rather different perspective on skywatching

As the sun was setting to the left of the plane, I took this photo from where I was seated on the right . For more beautiful skies, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Khartoum Shopping and a New Camera from South Africa

My practical, beautiful leather handbag which I've used extensively for the past ten years
Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I am a "handbag" person. In South Africa a handbag is what a purse is to an American lady. A hold-all, a fashion accessory, an absolute necessity in my opinion.

I always longed for a good handbag. I've had many cheap, plastic handbags whose stitching unravells within a week of purchace and worse still, gets caught in a cheap zip. About ten years ago my husband, who had realised by now that I'm never seen without a handbag (except when we're riding our motorbike or climbing a mountain) decided I should have a good leather one. He took me to an exclusive shop in Durban which sold only handbags - leather handbags.

My heart sank when we walked in because there was a man in attendance. No lady in sight. My husband told him what we were after and he began to take down bags for my inspection. The shelves were accessible to the customer, so hubby also found a bag which he showed me. What he and the gentleman was showing me, was not my taste. (I mean, what do men know about handbags, ha!) Bag after bag was taken down by the two men and proffered. I'd take it, open it, hang it over my shoulder and hand it back. Too small, not enough pockets, not the right colour.

Just then my husband found a deep brown handbag, with shoulder straps, pockets on each side, a sturdy zip which concealed beautifully-lined large inner space and two sections on either side of this with their own magnetic clips. Just perfect, I said. Until I flipped over the price tag and almost fainted.

Before I could change my mind, hubby told the assistant we'd take it, paid for it and I had a new handbag.

On Saturday evening in the plane, after opening my bag to use my handcream, the zip would not close properly. The catch had come off the zip-rails completely but I managed to thread it on again. I closed it carefully and did not open it until we were in the flat where I noticed that the zip was "stripped". Nothing else for it but to buy a new handbag to use while in Khartoum. When we return to South Africa, I will take my handbag to be repaired and hopefully I'll have my trusty handbag with me when I return to the Sudan.

The handbag bought at Chinatown in Khartoum and which I'll use while I'm here

Yesterday we visited Chinatown in Afra Mall across town. There I chose a servicable, large handbag to use while I'm here. It has no seperate sections inside - just one large area - and a small zipper section to place my lipstick and cell phone. Hubby paid SDG20 / US$8 for it.

In my post on Monday I mentioned that I had a new camera. Gaelyn has been asking about it so here goes: I still have a very good Canon EOS350D bought in 2007. It is an SLR and has a detachable zoom lens. I used this camera extensively in my work as a newspaper reporter while living at home in South Africa. It takes beautiful photos and I have more than 30,000 images on computer taken with this camera.

While at Natures Valley in the Eastern Cape last month, Grant and I were walking at the forest edges on the lookout for the elusive Narina Trogan (a beautifully coloured bird which I've seen on two occasions but Grant has not yet seen). As we were spotting the vividly coloured Orangebreasted Sunbirds and singing Southern Boubous among other more common birds, we saw a gentleman walking along the road towards us. He kept stopping and not using strong birding binoculars like we were, he was photographing the birds way up in the branches above us. Only thing is, the camera didn't have a long zoom lens and we wondered what his photos would be like. Drawing nearer, he called out a greeting, to which we responded then Grant asked him what type of camera he was using. He told us that it was a Canon Powershot with an optical lens which magnifies the image 20x. Therefore the birds are being photographed with the same magnitude as we have when viewing them with our Zwarovski birding binoculars. Wow!

Back home while discussing this camera with our brother-in-law, Lourie, he took out his new camera: a Canon Powershot. Grant was able to have a closer look and was most impressed. While we were in the city in South Africa last week, he bought the same camera for me.

My new camera

Now all I have to do is use it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cheering up with Garden Scenes from home

No, I'm not depressed. I'm very happy and contented to be back in the Sudan. As Betsy from Tennesee said, "You're where you're needed, right?" Absolutely.

It's just that the weather has turned very hot here in the Sudan with the onset of dust storms. The air is heavy with dust and the sun, although baking down, is not at all visible. I will photograph a dust storm soon and post it on this blog. Meanwhile, I just felt I had to browse through my recent garden photos and enjoy the cool lushness of each scene. Of course, the animals were there as well. (Just to give my heartstrings and extra twinge! The three the dogs and two of the seven cats.

Chip and Clarice after a drink from the pond

Angie and Eddy (the latter's tail in corner of photo) sniff for interesting creatures. I leave this small part of the garden to grow wild and am rewarded by robins and thrushes who enjoy scummaging there for grubs and other insects

Angie wades through the pond while having a drink

Angie and Chip rest in the shade beside the ponds

Clarice, Megan and Eddy enjoying the sunshine