Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Hedges Craze

Or is it The Crazy Hedges?

Grant sits on his new motorbike ( in the BMW showroom) while Etienne, the sales manager (and a good family friend) shows him how the new gauges and gadgets work

Back home once the bike had been offloaded from the trailer, Grant rode it into the garage. Angus and Amanda were waiting on our patio when we arrived with the new bike. (In case you didn't know, the Hedges family - every one - is crazy about motorbikes!)

It wasn't long and Angus was astride the bike, getting the feel of it

The following weekend Grant and I rode up to the Vaal dam and stayed over for the night. This was our first ride on the motorbike. Above Grant is enjoying a take-away toasted sandwich and Steers Coffee

Wow, this is a cool colour, Mommy. (Our six month-old grandson on Grant's bike. I told you everyone in the Hedges family is bike-crazy!)
Uh-oh, I don't know if this is "me" What do you-all think?
Now THIS is what  I call fun: sitting in the luggage box!

Mmm, everyone says GranJo's motorbike is more my size!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Marquard Grandson

On Saturday Angus showed me how to take black and white and sepia photos with my camera. He demonstrated the second option by photographing his six-month-old son. (below) 

Above photo was taken without a flash
The flash option was used with the above photo

Photo credits: Angus Hedges

PS. We think this little boy is just the cutest ever!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Golden Girl, Chip

Blending with the winter golds and browns in the garden, one of our older cats, Chip enjoys an early morning drink at the pond

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The road to Paris

A dirt road leading to a South African town called Parys (Paris) in the Free State

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

A courageous young woman

Our daughter-in-law, Debbie with the two youngest children, 15 months and eight weeks respectively. Here she is taking a short break from homeschooling their seven-year-old and having just pacified their four-year-old who skinned his knee. All this is done on an open piece of land with a shed (her future home) in the progress of being built and while living in a caravan. She and John are working towards a vision of living off this land and by the grace of God they are succeeding.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. Proverbs 31:10-12

Friday, July 23, 2010

South African Skies

Golden winter veld, azure skies, man and machine

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Fun in the Drakensberg

Whoo-hoo big brother, wait for me. I'll be up there soon!
Oopsy! Just a quick pose for Grans' photo shoot
Ha, Granddad's nerves were frazzled watching us! I'm only 15 months with my four-year-old brother helping me onto the jungle gym
Upsy-daisy! And there's my older sister swinging on the bars like a monkey

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back home in South Africa


We're home in South Africa. Although the weather is quite cold, we're enjoying the relief and respite from the incredible heat we've endured these past few months in Khartoum. Our flight from Khartoum took of exactly at 4h40. It was a short trip (1 1/2 hours) to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. While waiting in the airport boarding lounge in Addis, we were entertained by many World Cup Soccer fans (pictured above) on their way to watch the final between Holland and Spain on Sunday. The guys in orange shirts and the others in white tee shirts were Dutch supporters. The well-built man with dreadlocks, is an American from Detroit where he teaches soccer at schools (can you teach soccer?Anyway that's what he told me!) An absolute extrovert, he kept us enthralled by the tricks he performed with a soccer ball - balancing it on his nose, and dribbling it down under his chin, across his arm, onto his foot, kicking it into the air, never once dropping the ball. Amazing stuff! He and his brother (not pictured here) were also Dutch supporters. 

Sadly, although Grant and I followed the whole World Cup soccer tournament since it started on 10th June, we didn't watch the final between Spain and Holland. We don't have television (by choice) here in South Africa. By the time this post is online, the world champions will be known!

Flying over Tanzania on Saturday, Mount Kilimanjaro was clearly visible  to the left of the plane. (we were seated on the right)  Now, believe this or not: I had my Canon Powershot in my hand luggage in the overhead storage, Grant had my older Canon EOS 350 SLR with Zoom lens in his hand luggage yet we could get to one of the bags! The lockers are so jammed with luggage that it's not easy to find or remove yours in flight. I asked a lady sitting on the left of the plane to take some photos with my little Sony Cybershot (which is always in my handbag/purse) and although I have the above image, I could have had much better and closer ones. Nevertheless, while flying over this magnificent mountain, I thought of my dear blogger friend, Lynda who lives in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. When we fly back next month, I will have my Canon Powershot around my neck!
The Oliver Tambo airport in Johannesburg is aptly decorated for the World Cup  and very welcoming . I believe that visitors to this beautiful country of ours have felt at home and will either revisit it or promote South Africa to others
Our second grandson and fourth grandchild is five and a half months old. He is the friendliest little lad and was very good on the long trip from Johannesburg to Marquard on Saturday

These are four of my six cats here in South Africa. They are all terribly overweight and hardly noticed/cared that we were back. They were more interested in the next bowl of cat cookies!

I phoned Miriam in Khartoum on Saturday and she assured me that Shadow is very well and she has everthing under control. I managed an entire conversationin Arabic  with her and she understood every word. Whoo-hoo. My lessons are paying off!

Thanks to everyone who wished us a safe journey home. I'm not sure how much blogging I'll manage so please forgive me if I don't get to visiting yours. We're off to the city to collect our new motorbike on Tuesday. On Wednesday we're going to the Drakensberg to visit John and Debbie and meet our third grandson/fifth granchild for the first time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goodbye for now, Khartoum

On Thursday afternoon Grant checked our flight schedules for our trip out to South Africa today. He was horrified to discover that our flight departure times had been moved forward from 06h20 to 04h40. No-one informed us of this change.

We normally leave the flat at 03h45 and arrive at the airport at 04h30 which gives us ample time to pay airport taxes and book in. Now that the shock - that we could've (WOULD HAVE) missed our flight - is over, we are thrilled at this earlier departure.  With the later take-off from Khartoum, we always had the worry of missing our connecting flight in Addis Ababa. Now we have more than two hours in Ethopia and will catch the Johannesburg flight with ease. This means we arrive at Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg today at 13h15 SA time .  Today we see Angus and Amanda and their five-month-old son. 

The next time I open this blog, we will be on South African soil and enjoying much cooler (freezing) weather at home in the Free State.

The Arabic word for goodbye is maçsalama

Friday, July 9, 2010

A different view of the sky

Shaun the Sheep hanging on the clothes line after being washed this week  

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The Arabic for "hang the washing on the [clothes]line" is
shorri el malabis fil habeel  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Khartoum: leaving Shadow and the Budgies

Shadow gets a good grip on Shaun the Sheep

Our grandchildren have "security blankets" in one form or another. As  babies, the oldest granddaughter and grandson each had "Ellies" (toy elephants). It was alway important to know where Ellie was as he was held as the children went off to sleep. I bought third granddaughter a toy lamb which immediately became her security blanket. You can see her sleeping with "lammie" here. I'm not sure what the youngest Hedges is attached to or what Angus and Amanda's cute little boy cuddles, but they're both sure to have something.

Last week while we were shopping in town, we found Shaun the Sheep in the toy section of the supermarket. He wears a tee-shirt that says: I love ewe! So we bought Shaun for Shadow to play with and to use as a security blanket especially while we are away in South Africa.

As we showed Shaun the Sheep to Shadow, he grabbed him and treated him like the enemy. Shaun was lifted by the ear, clutched in Shadow's forepaws and ripped into by the cat's hindlegs.  By that evening Shaun the Sheep was a dirty brown colour (from the dust on the floors) and Shadow the Cat had passed out from exhaustion. (It's tiring work killing a toy sheep)

This blurry photo shows the speed with which Shadow grabs Shaun the Sheep and boot-blacks him with his hindlegs

Going out on break this time is something I wish I didn't have to do ! However Miriam, who loves Shadow and whom Shadow ADORES, will come into the flat every single day while we are away. She will feed Shadow, refresh his water bowl and clean his sandbox. I asked her if the latter was a problem for her, (many people don't like this type of job) but she assured me it would not be a problem! Sweet lady. She will also replenish the budgies water troughs and seedbowls every day and clean their cage every week. In short, she will babysit my pets for me. Hallelujah!

Shadow is still a very young, very inquisitive  kitten  and not capable of finding his way back to our upstairs flat. Should he get out, he would soon be lost in the street. Or he could be stolen - he is so sweet and friendly, it would be so easy to pick him up and take him into another yard.

So I have instructed Miriam and Achmed (the nightwatchman who lets her into my flat when Issam is at work) that all doors leading out of the flat - four altogether - are to be kept closed at all times! I have also typed notices which I will paste onto the doors. Apart from English and phonetic Arabic notices in normal script, I also have the instruction:  "keep the door closed" in Arabic script. Thanks to my blogger friend Rain Drops in Egypt who suggested I use the translation option in Word. 

I believe that Shadow and the birds will be well looked after by darling Miriam and that the doors will remain closed at all times.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

The time has come for me to share with you, dear blogger friends, what I have been doing for the past three months.

Before leaving South Africa, I signed up for an online course in Magazine Journalism. On 12 April, my first full day back in our Khartoum flat, I started my course. It comprised of ten modules and you have twenty weeks in which to complete it. I finished the course in nine weeks as I was concerned I may have to leave the Sudan after my three months' visa expired. I needn't have worried because Issam (general manager of the company) obtained my permanent residence in the country two weeks ago! 

As a student, I was issued with a username and password and downloaded the course from the link supplied.  All ten modules. I only downloaded the first module and steadily worked through it. Once I'd done all the assigments and sent them via e-mail to my tutor in Cape Town, I filed my copies in a folder appropriately marked - Module One - Completed. Only then did I return to the writing college website and download the second module. This is the difference between me and my significant other! He says he'd have scanned through all the modules and then returned to number one, opened it and started. When I receive a parcel in the mail, I leave it unopened on my desk or on the kitchen counter until I have time to savour the surprise. If my darling husband is anywhere around, he walks past my desk, lifts the parcel and waving it in my direction asks when I will be opening it. LOL!

OK back to the course. It was the most enjoyable and user-friendly course I have ever done. (And I've done a few) My tutor was a sweet forty-something lady who knows her stuff. She was strict yet always cushioned the critique with a positive comment. In fact she complimented me often and was always there to build me up when I didn't do so well in an assignment. (Yes, this did happen a few times!)

The best part of the training was that by the middle of the course, you decide on a topic for your article. In the remaining six modules you are shown how to tighten your writing (use less words to say more - lol!)  and make your subject appealing and interesting. You learn how to interview people; I did mine  via e-mail which worked very well,  and you learn to research your subject on the Internet. You are also taught to write a query letter which is how you market /promote your article . The college's claim to fame is that many of their past students have been published in magazine once they'd completed the course.

While I waited for the final draft of my article to be marked by my tutor, I sent a query letter to an adventure magazine. I offered the editor another article about our motorbike trip undertaken in November last year. Grant and I had travelled across three countries, covered a distance of 6000 kms /3750 miles, stayed over in many interesting places and saw dozens of birds. (Birding is one of the reasons we travel, apart from the bike ride) My article was accepted with ten photos of our trip and  will be published sometime in the next month or two in South Africa.  (Whoo-hoo)

Below I've added a few photos of the motorbike trip.  
Our loaded BMW motorbike parked on the bridge with the great Orange River (Northern Cape) as a backdrop

With no fences in Botswana, the animals wander across the road at will. We often passed elephant dung on the side of the road (you can see it  just behind Grant) There were also signs announcing "This is white lion country" Adrenaline pumping stuff.

Grant on the Tropic of Capricorn in Namibia

Welcoming committee back home in Marquard

Meanwhile, my tutor returned my last module and the assessment of my work over course (End result 84%)  The college principle wrote and congratulated me and offered to send my certificate to my home address in South Africa.  She said she loved my article which is entitled: "The advantages of attracting birds and wildlife to your garden."

Below I added a few photos of my garden which features largely in my article written on the course.

My garden (before) in April 2003

My garden, above and below, summer 2010

My ponds are a great attraction to birds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies and frogs.
Sweet thorn (Acacia karoo) in full bloom. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects, which, in turn, attract insectivorous birds. The perfect food chain

Last week I submitted my query letter to a leading gardening magazine in South Africa. The editor replied on Monday and asked for a few low res photos and a sample of my work. She has to show it to the editorial team and will get back to me later this week. 

So that, my friends, is my excuse!

Thanks for being so patient and still visiting my blog even though I couldn't always get to visit and comment on yours.

The Arabic for journalist is sahafa; for magazine is magella and for course is hissa

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Khartoum Market Visit

Last week I wrote about going to the fruit and vegetable market. This week we made a subsequent trip to the Arabic market, known as the souq.

We were looking for woodshavings. With Shadow being a house/apartment cat, he has a toilet indoors. (A pink plastic baby bath also bought at a street market) Originally we bought commercial cat litter at the supermarket. Imported a 5kg bag costs SDG25/US$10 and lasts about three weeks.  So Shadow's toilet requirements were threatening to break the Hedges bank! When we lived in West Africa we used woodshavings (available for free from our company woodwork shop) for our cat. 

Here in Khartoum the best option was to go to the souq where bespoke furniture is made  and  buy woodshavings. We found a carpenter who grudgingly let us have a garbage bagful of shavings for SDG8/US$3.20. A few days later Grant returned to the market and after a spot of bargaining he managed to buy a 20kg bag of shavings and sawdust for SDG18/US$7.20.

Now we have sufficient cat-litter (a la Khartoum) to last us quite a while! Shadow didn't bat an eyelid at the change of medium to his litter tray! Sweet adaptable little guy.
We also had another item on our list. A new backpack/rucksack
for Grant.

When we fly out to South Africa, we have to catch a connecting flight in Addis Ababa. We only have an hour in which to do it. Being Africa, often our departure from Khartoum is delayed and in the past we've left the plane, sprinted across the tarmac following an airport official, through  the departure hall, out and across the tarmac again to board our Johannesburg bound flight waiting patiently for us.

Our saving grace has always been that we only have handluggage when flying home. Only thing is, Grant's backpack stripped its zipper and he needed a new holdall. So where do you go when you don't want to pay a fortune for luggage? That's right. The souq!

Grant's technician, Marcell offered to take us as he speaks good Arabic. (Don't you just love these markets? So colourful and so MUCH of everything)  
We found a stall selling dozens of bags and other items. When Marcell asked the price, the vendor said twenty pounds (SDG20/US$8) Grant said "too expensive". Using my newly acquired, albeit halting Arabic, I offered the merchant fifteen pounds (SD15/US$6) and said we'd like two. The deal was clinched; I also have a backpack now, instead of my small overnight suitcase on wheels. 

Later that same day, Grant and I checked prices of the same backpacks in an upmarket departmental store:  SDG110/US$44.

Well worth the visit to the souq and a lot more fun.

The Arabic word for backpack/rucksack is chanta diharr

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Holiness is not just for Saints

To live a holy life (which means being set apart by God), is a pleasure to God. To do what God wants means to actively resist evil. It’s not always that difficult. Little acts of kindness and righteousness can make all the difference.

Tell the truth instead of lying. If you get your child to answer the telephone and tell the "lady" ringing you, you're not at home, and you're standing by, that is lying. Exagerating is also a form of lying.

Treat people with dignity instead of cursing them. Ah, I've always said: I never curse people. But what if another driver cuts in front of my car in the traffic? How do I react? And what about when the queue moved too slowly for me at the supermarket? Did I think irritably how slow the till operator is?

Listen to people instead of ignoring them. Uh-oh. When someone is speaking to you, are you genuinely listening? Or do you find that you are already thinking of your reply and hardly listening at all?

Keep quiet about other people’s faults (unless you’re perfect!). If you speak derisively to a friend about your neighbour's strange mode of dress, or complain to your spouse abouthow disobedient your sister's children are, that is talking about other people faults.  We should always remember that when we point one finger at a person, the other four fingers are pointing at ourselves. As the old saying goes: if you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all. Give a gentle answer instead of a cutting response. As women in the home, we are know to set the tone. If my husband comes home from work and seems out of sorts, it's no use me being irritable as well.(And listing all the things that have gone wrong in the house) Rather I need to use a gentle response and soothe the situation with an inner serenity.

Live a life of simplicity instead of excess. Gluttony is not just about over-eating. It is having and doing to much of a thing. Being obsessed with anything is excess. Too much television, too much online activity. Always having to stop at the store and buy something, just for the sake of shopping. The list is endless.

None of these statements above are here to judge anyone reading this today. They are here to remind us that to be holy, we need to resist evil. These are only a few of the ways in which to do it.

Bless you always.

The Arabic for Bible (holy book) is kitab

Source (in part - italics mine)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rooftop Cats: Pause and Play

A tortoiseshell cat sleeps while the half-grown kittens play on the rooftop (see skinny black tail to the right of the photo). Can you see two other young cats on the wall near her?  I wonder if any of these are Shadows's siblings...

 Ginger and white cat thinking up mischief
The black cat (owner of the skinny black tail in first photo) readies himself for a pounce while the ginger and white cat watches
Bits of electric wire make handy toys when you're a rooftop cat !

The black cat disappears through a drainpipe to get to the lower rooftop
Whoo-hoo, Blackie, where are you?
 Here, silly!  

Above is the mother cat of three kittens born behind the staff showers. I've been feeding them for the past month. She hisses and spits so viciously that I'm a bit nervous when I bend down below this wall to put the food down. I always wonder when she'll land on my back! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
 Shadow, the most spoilt cat in Khartoum,  asleep on my desk.

Which cat would you rather be?

The Arabic word for black is aswed.
The Arabic word for white is abeyud (you need to "swallow" the last syllable!)
The only Arabic word that I know for ginger is the same as orange which is borturali (the "r" sounds like a soft "gh" - almost clearing your throat! Easy huh?)

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