Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend off

Can you remember what you did on the weekend of 26-27 February 2011? Gattina from Writer Cramps hosts the fun meme: What did you do this weekend? Please do pop in and visit her blog, she writes beautifully and describes her life, her travels and other happenings around her in a delightful way.

The company has decided to upgrade the houses, so on Friday morning I popped up to Sue to hand in my list of items which need replacing or repairing in our house.  She asked me to walk with her to the other houses to check what they need. Charda is the only other lady in the camp, so we stopped off at her house to get her list. The single-status men have handed in their lists.

 The old swimming pool in the camp which has not been in use for many years

All the while, we stopped (frequently!) to look at one or another of the hundreds (no exageration!) of birds in the gardens and along the lanes through the camp. Sue took me down to the old swimming pool which has been empty since before she and Nico arrived in 2005. While there's something quite sad about a lovely deep structure which has no use anymore, the area around it is lush and natural with huge trees towering overhead. While we stood there, the beautiful Ross' Turaco flew over, a pair of Black-and-white casqued Hornbills perched in a guava trees while bulbuls, weavers, sparrow weavers, starlings and mousebirds twittered in the wild fig tree in a garden above the lane.

Ross' Turaco, a vibrantly-coloured bird sat quietly (not usual) in my garden while I took this photo

Black-and-white casqued Hornbill male in a tree at the back of my house. The female has a much smaller, almost non-existent casque. At the moment they are plentiful in the camp. Their calls are loud, cawing sounds, much like a crows. As they pass overhead, their wings beat so loudly it sounds like a glider flying over!

Walking back (and talking non-stop as women do!) we spotted a pair of African Paradise Flycatchers in a large tree in a garden below mine, and Meyer's Parrot with several Lesser-striped Swallows enjoying the morning sun on the electric cable above us. I think we spent about eight minutes on the house-lists and almost an hour walking through the camp and enjoying the beautiful surroundings!  

As you know, I posted a photo of ole Ginger on my blog yesterday, saying that he was "not well". On Saturday morning, a driver took me, Grant and the financial manager to El Doret for our monthly grocery shopping. Previously Grant had a travel box made in his workshop and we took Ginger along with us. He was going to the vet in El Doret!

To our knowledge, Ginger has never been out of the camp but apart from a few quiet meouws from within the box, he was a very good traveller. When we got to the vet, whose surgery is set in a leafy suburb of the city, Michael carried the box indoors. The doctor and various assistants were waiting to see what would emerge from the cage. Poor Ginger- as I opened the lid, he found he was in a strange place and had five heads peering overhead. As I lifted him out and placed him on the steel table, while stroking him and chatting to him, one of the assistants, on instructions from the vet,  brought "the bag". This is a jacket-type garment made out of sailcloth, opened down the front but  with valcro fastening. In a flash they had Ginger inside this jacket with only his head sticking out. The doctor who had prepared his sedative, pulled a hind leg through one of the two holes at the bottom and injected Ginger. No stress for the pet, no  injuries to the helpers. What a dandy idea.

Ginger was in for surgery: we had him neutered and while he was sedated, arranged for him to have his innoculations.  At the same time the vet checked his teeth (apparently he's quite an old cat), de-ticked and de-flea-d him and applied a spray which I use on all  my pets back home in SA. The vet we dealt with was very professional and friendly, wonderful man. 

We collected Ginger at two in the afternoon and bumped all the way back down the jaw-breaking, bone-jarring road; over the mountains  back to camp. Ginger spent the evening on the chair in the lounge and the night on the end of our bed! Yesterday morning he got up, had a huge drink of water, finished all the cookies in his bowl and walked out the door!  (He only came in again this morning) I had visions of him meeting up with the other cats - they can only be real feral cats living in the bush, as I have not heard or seen any other cat than Ginger -  with them all sitting in a circle while he "held court". I can imagine them saying: "You went where? And what did they do to you? Huh?  You were asleep and didn't know what happened? Go waan! WHAT? Impossible! " 

The vet says that Ginger will still visit and wander around the camp for the next ten days. Then he'll stay home. We'll see!

Thanks to all who sent kind messages to Ginger yesterday.

This morning Ginger was doing what cats do best - relaxing!

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Kenyan Patient

Ginger, our newly-acquired old cat is not very well today, but he's on the mend. More about it in tomorrow's post.

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Kimwarer Valley from my garden

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Greatest Commandment

"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these." Mark 12:29-32

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mid-morning in Kenya

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trip to the city

On Sunday morning Grant and I accompanied Nico and Sue to Nairobi. Michael, one of the trusty company drivers ferried us safely to the city. Of course, along the way there are always   regular and wonderfully quirky sights!


...or a helping hand?

The company apartment in Nairobi is modern, spacious, fully-equipped and airy. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room and lounge, WiFi office station, beautiful kitchen and entrance hall. The fridge was stocked with eggs, milk, juice and still water. A huge bowl of fruit adorned the dining table (fruit is plentiful and inexpensive in East Africa)
The view from our 5th floor apartment in Nairobi. The capital of Kenya is built on what was originally a huge swamp. The tree-lined streets and lush foliage in the city is home to many birds even today. The Marabou Storks nesting in huge trees in Mombassa Road are an interesting sight while travelling in that area. However, due to the huge apartment blocks mushrooming in the residential areas, the gracious old giant trees and indigenous shrubs are being eradicated to make way for more human habitation
I was fascinated by the huge swimming pool in the apartment courtyard. However, no amount of  cajoling or bribery could convince my fellow flat mates (including my dh!) to join me in a few quick laps. LOL! The pool in the top right hand of the photo is a NORMAL sized swimming pool which gives a fair indication of how large the front one is

The apartment block is situated in a huge complex called the Ya-Ya centre. Below is a large shopping mall with clothing shops, beauty salons, florists, card and book shops; a grocery-, green grocer- and butcher shop to rival any in South Africa. The two coffee shops looked inviting as well. On Sundays just outside the mall, the Masai market is in full swing. We ladies dragged the men through the stalls "just to look". The stall-owners, desperate for a sale, descend on you as you enter the pathways between the curios and clothing on display and insist that you buy from them. This gracious elderly lady above, on the contrary, was quiet and greeted me politely and then posed for a photo.

The Masai market, Ya-Ya centre, Nairobi

That evening Nico and Sue took us to dinner at an upmarket Italian restaurant. We all had a great time chatting about previous mining contracts. Before taking over this mine five years ago, Nico, then a financial manager,  worked with Grant in Guinea and Mali. I only knew Nico socially as I worked for the gold mine client and they were the contractors.
On Monday morning Sue treated me to a pedicure in the Ya-Ya beauty salon. Bliss! Later we shopped for the school in the valley and returned to the apartment after lunch. We relaxed while we waited for the men, who had back-to-back meetings and other appointments. That evening we had dinner at another restaurant with an ethnic flavour. Our host, Gerald, is head of the Bureau of Standards and his wife, Hannah is Ambassador in the Congo. They are fellow South Africans and have a cat called Nathan who rules their home, so we all had a wonderful evening together!
Sue in front of a sculpture in the museum grounds

On Tuesday morning while the men had other business appointments in the city, Sue took me to the National Museum in the city centre. What a lovely experience. Apart from the normal exibits in the first hall displaying cultural life in Kenya, the next hall was filled with bird displays. Stuffed birds in glass cases, but very interesting and informative. I have a much better insight to the birds I might see in Kenya: where we live in the valley and later when we visit the national parks. The male and female of the many birds were displayed beautifully with a map of East Africa, Kenya highlighted in green and a typewritten description beside it. The bird's nest and a few eggs were also displayed.

After dragging ourselves away from the museum, we visited the Kenya Nature offices in another corner of the shady and well-kept gardens. Sue was able to collect many pamphlets and booklets to bring back for the school's outdoor club. She also managed to pick up a book of Birds of Kenya with large plate illustrations. Previously when Sue has shown the learners a picture of a bird in her own bird book, and asked what they thought it was, be it a weaver, swallow or a starling, the children would anwer: "A bird!" With the book as a tool, we hope to encourage these children to be aware of their surroundings and become future custodians of nature.

Later we bought fresh produce from The Corner Shop and by midday we were on our way back home, six hours of travel to the west!

Today is another beautiful, peaceful day in the valley...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Shadow!

While living in Khartoum last year, we found a little kitten at the dukani (shop) opposite the apartment where we lived. There were numerous stray cats all over our suburb and I fed many in the courtyard below. However, they were always so wild that you couldn't even get near them. This little cat, though jumped up into Grant's arms when he bent down to look at it. I saw all this happening from the flat window. He put the kitten down and asked the store owners who it belonged to. They said it had been around and they'd fed it beans, tomato casserole, pita breads and other meatless scraps.  They also asked if "Madame Jo" would like the kitten. Grant returned to the flat with this message and insisted I went over to the dukani just to see the kitten. I went, I saw and the rest is history.

If you've not followed my blog since Khartoum days,  and if you wish, you can read back to how we raised this kitten  and subsequently took him back to South Africa with us. He joined our five South African cats but because he hadn't learnt to wander around the garden alone when we came up to Kenya, we placed him in kennels in the city. He is being well looked after and walked daily on his leash by the kennel owner, Albie and we'll ultimately bring him our to East Africa with us.

The as-yet-un-named Sudanese kitten who came to live with us on 16 May 2010. Here he is (the first day) on the balcony of our flat in Omdurman, Khartoum
The six-week-old kitten we found in the street opposite our flat in Omdurman, Khartoum

He came to us on 16 May 2010 and a week later I took a taxi into the city to source innoculations and deworming tablets for him. I also bought a micro-chip which your pet has to have to enter South Africa. I (with the help of my Sudanese house lady, Mirriam) injected the micro-chip in his neck and his innoculations into his rump. I sent photos to our vet in SA who guaged the cat's age to be about three months  I decided he was born on 23 February 2010!  You can read all these posts on my Animal tails label, if you wish!

So today, while living in the kennels in Bloemfontein, Shadow is one year old!

Shadow, in our garden in South Africa


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Birthplace of man?

While out birding last week, this young lad walked past. I gave him a few sweets/candy and he asked me to take his photo. He looked at his photo on the screen and then said "Thank You" and off he went. I've heard that President Obama was born in Kenya but can find no evidence to support this fact
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend in the city

Can you remember what you did over the weekend of 19-20 February? Gattina of Writer Cramps hosts this fun meme, "What did you do this weekend? " Do pop over there via the link below and see what people all over the world do over the weekend!

My weekend started on Friday morning when I  received a whole batch of beautiful photos of our beautiful one-year-old grandson, Joel. Remember the plastic folders in a binder called Granny's Brag Book? Well, here follows a stack of photos just like I would show you if I used an old-fashioned brag book!

My mommy teaching me my name. I love the kisses too!

My (Jo's) baby with his baby

Amanda's mom's baby with her baby! I wonder what's with the spanner?

Joel's first birthday

Driving my daddy's car is fun!

All above photos by Angus and Amanda Hedges

Back in our beautiful valley in Western Kenya, Grant and I watched the full moon rising over the camp on Friday night. He kept saying it looks like the sun rising!

My first full moon over East Africa

There are three South African men on camp so it went without saying that they'd to watch the first weekend of the  21-week international rugby series SuperRugby together. Sue arranged a braai (BBQ) and salads which Wheatcliffe and Caro served at the guest house and we all enjoyed the evening together. Jacko and Kurmar are from India but they watched the games along with the crazy South Africans,  although I think they'd have preferred to watch the World Cup Cricket being televised at the moment as well!

Three South African men, with Jacko, from India the middle, watching the Super Rugby match on the television. The women chat in the other corner!

As you can see by the heading of this post, "city" features in my weekend. Four of us came to Nairobi on Sunday afternoon. The men have meetings and other business to attend to; Sue and I are off to the shops to replenish certain items for the houses on camp. We also want to look for interesting [read: "fun"] learning aids for the little school in the valley.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ginger, Tree Squirrels and Shadow

These tree squirrels breed in the roof of the house and come out during the day. They are very skittish and until now, I'd not been able to get a photo of them. Earlier this week I heard them making quite a noise (they utter harsh clicking sounds) and went to investigate. I found this squirrel sitting on the branch...

The tree squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi) is named because of its association with woodland, and its use of trees as resting places. They vary in colour throughout their distributional range, and are diurnal. A conspicuous feature of their behaviour when under threat is 'mobbing': all the members of the colony make harsh clicking sounds while they flick their tails, building up momentum and gradually getting louder. In some areas they are solitary, or are found in small family groups: a lone tree squirrel relies on its wits when in danger and always keeps a branch or the trunk of a tree between it and the enemy. This species regularly forages on the ground, looking for roots, grasses, leafbuds, berries and insects such as ants.

The tree squirrel is always alert, and when alarmed, it will run away at great speed, making for the nearest tree where it will lie motionless, flattened against a branch. The young (usually one to three) are born in a tree hollow lined with leaves and grass. The young remain until they are strong enough to brave the outside world, which is usually about three weeks. Tree squirrels are diligent in their grooming and a mother tree squirrel will hold her offspring down with her forelegs while grooming the little animal with licks, nibbles and the use of her claws. Food brought back to the nest is reserved for the parents only, and the young have to learn to find solid food for themselves from the time they are weaned.

Source: //

...very agitated because...

...Ginger was walking past!

Thanks to all who've enquired I've had many enquiries about Shadow. This crazy Sudanese-born-South-African-tranplanted-soon-to-be-East African cat is very well! I don't think he misses us as Albie is taking very good care of him. She walks him daily, he's eating well and she tells us he is getting to know the other cats in the kennels. The cats are all in separate cages but can see each other and socialize at their leisure!

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Somewhere over the rainbow

I had so many compliments about this photo- our two oldest grandchildren, Joshua and Eryn under the rainbow in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Drakensberg -  that I decided to post it on today's Scenic Sunday

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

In the beginning...

And God said: Let there be space between the waters, to seperate water from water." And so it was. And God named this space "sky" Genesis 1:6
And God said: "Let the waters beneatht the sky be gathered into one place so that dry ground may appear."And so it was. God named the dry ground land, and the water "seas" And God saw it was good. Genesis 1:9-10
And God said: "Let the earth burst forth with every sort of grass and live-giving plants..."

"Let there be trees that grow life-giving fruit..." The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees. And God saw it was good. Genesis 1:11b and 12 

And God said: Let the skies swarm with birds of every kind...And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20b

Living here in the beautiful Kimwarer Valley in Western Kenya, I'm constantly surrounded by the beauty and greatness of creation. Hoever, while I love to watch the birds, butterflies and wildlife in my garden, and regularly photograph trees, flowers and the glorious African bush around me, I am always aware of the Great and Awesome God who created this all. I don't worship creation: (birds, animals, sun, moon, trees) I worship the one and only Creator, God.

While I care for His creation and do my bit for the environment wherever I can, the most important thing is I have the greatest awe of, and respect for, God.

The fear of the Lord is true wisdom, to forsake evil is real understanding. Job 28:28

This is God's message to us - wisdom is found only in God and His ways. God has given us His truth in the Bible. We need to constantly ask God to show us His truth and give us the ability to listen! As God reveals this truth to us, He gives us the strength and encouragement we need to follow His plan for our lives.

Do those of us who are believers truly fear God? If I say I fear God and I, perhaps at this very moment, have taken offence at what someone has done to me (or omitted to do for me), then I don't actually fear Him. I fear man and what I imagine he does to me.

May we all strive towards a healthy fear of God and so develop a deep respect Him.  Amen!

Note: Is there anyone reading this post today who has never read the Bible, never experienced the wonder of God's truth in their lives? Well this is the time to take the plunge. Buy yourself a Holy Bible, study it (ask someone whom you know is a believer to help you,  if you wish) and begin to know God and His love.
May God bless you all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Afternoon skies in the Valley


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Thursday, February 17, 2011

The ladies of Kimwarer Valley

Before I introduce the ladies of Kimwarer Valley, I would like to pass on Grant's heartfelt thanks for all the kind comments and birthday wishes yesterday. In the two-and-a-half years that I've written my blog, he's never read it. Last night I showed him his birthday post; he enjoyed it very much and was touched by the many comments.

Anticlock-wise from left: Caroline, Head of the local school; Charda (nearest camerar left) who is my neighbour and stays home; then Sue, the MD's wife (bottom right) next is Karen, Human Resources Manager and lastly, Jo-Anne, Health and Safety Manager

On Tuesday evening, the company MD and his wife returned from their leave in South Africa. The HOD's and spouses were invited to a dinner at the guest house. It was super meeting the ladies from the mine, Caroline, Karen and Jo-Anne, my namesake!  I already know the other two who spend their day on camp as I do. Sue and Charda are also very involved in after-school activities. Sue has asked me to join them in helping the children with their clubs which they love. They have Scouts (this is big in Kenya, more about this later), a computer club, a science club and have now introduced a journalism club.  I know I'm going to enjoy joining in the extramurial activities of this progressive Kenyan school.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy 60th Birthday Grant!

After  managing the goldmine earthmoving plant for seven years, Grant was the obvious choice when the project closed and and the plant had to be moved to another country, 1800kms north. Here he was on tarred roads in Mali. For a 1000km prior to this in Guinea and 500km after this along the Mauritania border,  the convoy travelled on dirt roads. See below...

Need I say more?

Grant led his team of Guinean drivers and helpers in this convoy for 1800kms between Guinea and Mali. It took  55 days to get these large trucks and machines to their destination. He had no breakdowns, no injuries and no fatalities

Back home in South Africa Grant is just an ordinary guy: husband, father, dad-in-law, grandfather, DIY-er and biker

At present Grant and I are in Western Kenya. He loves being back in mining!

Last night at a management dinner with spouses, I had arranged with Wheatcliffe and Caro  to produce surprise birthday cake for Grant. (fair's fair! LOL) Here the MD to his right and other collegues to the left sing Happy Birthday to him! The ladies were behind me out of the photo