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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Professors at tea

Learned men carnival
At teatime
Like dervishes
Wise men whirl
Giddy, dizzy, stoned
Drinking Dajeerling with
Well-bred sips
Fingers crooked 
With delicacy
Grave men
Blasting vuvuzelas 
Standing on table tops
Like frenzied fans
Masks slip, fall
Among teaspoons and
Caramel treats
While a wide-eyed waitress

Notes: Plastic trumpet blown at soccer games in South Africa

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Passover meal

Many years ago out dear friend, Genet, introduced our family to the celebration of the Passover on MaundyThursday evening as part of our Easter weekend. We have kept up the tradition more or less faithfully over the years. I now include my life group in the ritual.  It is a joint effort in which we share the preparation of some delicious dishes based on recipes supplied by Shana, who grew up in a Jewish home. She is also responsible for the Seder plate. Our liturgy follows. 

We begin our Seder with the lighting of the candles.  It is fitting that a woman should light the candles since Jesus, the Son of God,  was born of a woman.  (Shana lights the candles and says the blessing in Hebrew and English.) 
QUESTION (Jethro):  How does this night differ from all other nights?
INTRODUCTION (Eleanor):   This is the central question of the Passover and we are going to answer that question this evening in many ways through the special things we say and through the special food we eat.  The Jewish people celebrate the Passover to remember how Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land.  As Christians we remember how Jesus ate this Passover meal with his disciples on the night that he was betrayed. We also remember that Jesus, our Messiah, has led us from the slavery of sin into the wonderful liberty of the children of God. 

READING: Exodus 12: 21-28 (Bokkie)
Prayer of blessing  (Hebrew and English):  Shana
WASHING  OF THE HANDS:  It is likely at this point Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. We will not wash feet but we indicate with this simple ceremony that we are called to be servants one of the other. (Jung Fei will assist). Each person pours a little water over the hands of the person next to him/her and passes on the jug. 
BREAKING  OF THE BREAD (Rein will say the prayers over the bread and wine. Eleanor will serve around the table.  Please eat and drink as soon as you receive the elements. Mark will assist passing them around.).  
MAIN  COURSE: THE MAIN COURSE IS SERVED AS A BUFFET IN THE DINING ROOM. Please help yourself and return to the table. Enjoy!

HALLEL – PRAISE: WORTHY IS THE LAMB! Let us join hands and say together: “Worthy is 
the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12)
We celebrate now with sweet dessert to remind us that after death and suffering came the sweetness of the Resurrection of Jesus and one day, our resurrection from the dead and the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb. 
DESSERT: Served in the dining room. Please proceed and help yourselves. You are welcome to enjoy the dessert sitting anywhere!

 Thank you for sharing this evening with us.  Blessed Easter! 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eating in 

Dining, lunching or breakfasting with friends at home is increasingly uncommon these days.  We travel a block from our lovely homes to drink a cuppa with friends at a coffee shop. We spend rands and rands on restaurant cuisine instead of making use of our own kitchens. We sit in crowded malls or under umbrellas on the pavements instead of in our own gardens.

In these heady days of early retirement I have made a point of asking friends home and setting a table somewhere on the verandah or the lawn. March days are mild and pleasant in Pretoria and after the summer rains, our gardens are lush and green.  This Friday I took out an antique tablecloth that I had forgotten I possessed, the silver and pink dinner set and my aunt's ivory handled, engraved silver knives and forks. The meal was simple: French tuna quiche (a recipe for dummies - the secret is in using whole cream to beat with the eggs), a panini  from my favorite deli, a tossed salad with lots of  avocado, finished with a dessert of organic Greek yoghurt in elegant champagne glasses topped with nuts and raw honey. The friends  - Noleen and Petro (Salome missed the picture)  - and I have shared decades teaching together at the university.  The conversation never waned from  noon till 4pm. There was no waiter to hurry us, no loud music to talk over, no menu item  that disappointed and best of all, no bill to pay.

Eating out is a fun luxury but eating in is better. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The third Saturday of the month is the Irene Garden Club. Irene is an old established suburb in Pretoria and the garden club has been going for many years. Some silver-haired members remember the days when they took  their babies in prams to club meetings.

I discovered the club on Facebook in October 2015.  It was with some trepidation that I phoned to enquire whether the club would consider members 'outside the area'.

"Oh course", said Lucia, the vivacious, dynamic Chairlady. "I live in Faerie Glen."

Since then I have been an enthusiastic member of the club and recruited four other keen gardeners: Chris, Isobel, Ermilinda and Janis.  Last year we viewed several gorgeous gardens, listened to talks on  bulbs, vegetables and container plants, among others. A hot topic of conversation was how to garden in the drought. Pretoria had water restrictions for more than a year and the spring rains were late, sending us all into a panic.

"Should I replace my roses with succulents?" asked one anxious member.

"Just wait," I cautioned. "The rains will come."

In January 2015,  I had two rainwater tanks installed to harvest the rain that falls on the corrugated iron garage roof and the kitchen roof, two of the three sections of the house without thatch.  By October 2015 my tanks were completely dry. Happily although the summer rains were late, they came in abundance and the largest dam in Gauteng, the Vaal, rose from 63 % to 103% in just over a week in February. My tanks constantly overflowed and my water bill has been greatly reduced since their installation. When I have an overflow, I use rain water for domestic use inside the house - just not for drinking. A pale blue pottery jug in my bathroom contains the day's ration for hand washing.

On Saturday we had a talk on different kinds of gardeners right on the lawn of Lucia's Faerie Glen garden, a pretty, relaxed garden setting.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Decorating with quilts

"Not another quilt! What are you going to do with it?" a friend asks.
Quilts hang on the ladder in the study
"I have no idea," I answer, "I'll decide later."

 Why do painters paint?  To produce another painting to be stacked in the studio or for the love of creating?

The William Morris quilt in the guest room 
That's the same reason that quilters quilt - for the joy of  discovering a new pattern,  of experimenting with new colors, to pull out the jewels in the stash, purchased on the spur of the moment out of a love affair with fabrics.

Appliqued garden quilt on my bed

When I had  my injured ankle encased in a moonboot and sleeping was uncomfortable, I found comfort in napping  under a handsewn beautiful quilt covered in roses, petunias, irises, pansies, daffodils  and a basket of daisies.
This one needs is earmarked for Ruth