Still me

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday, 28 November '08: What will those clouds bring?

What will the early morning clouds above Thatchwick bring on this Friday? I suspect the sun will disperse them by nine and temps will rise to over 30 degrees C. Late afternoon the thunder will roll, lightening will crack in crooked flashes across the sky and the rain will pour down on weary motorists travelling home.

Happy Skywatch Friday to you too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday, 26 November, '08: Our book Launch

Today Noleen and I enjoyed the fruit of some of this year's labours when Juta, our publisher, graciously hosted the stylish launch of our new book: Organising parent involvement in South Africa schools. The proud authors (Noleen in pink and myself in yellow) are seen here presenting a book to our honoured guest, the representative of the Department of Education.

Noleen and I have worked in the area of parent involvement - research, publishing, teacher training and community work - for the past 15 years. She retires at the end of this year from Unisa and this was a wonderful way to celebrate (not end) years of happy collaboration. The book is like both of us - very practical, enthusiatic and not heavily academic. We wrote it with teachers, school governors and parents in mind and we trust it will make a difference in South African schools. Viva parentpower!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday, 21 November: Just a little eccentric

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954): Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

Me, eccentric? Not a bit. I don't do surreal paintings drenched in symbolism like Frida did. I don't wear a hat in the bathtub or lounge about in men's pyjamas till noon. I have never smoked a cigar or dyed my hair pink.

Just a very normal woman, maybe a little boring!

But I must confess I have been taking piano lessons for the past three years and this morning I did the Grade 4 Trinity College London practical exam with all the littlies. I try and slink into the waiting room incognito to sit with those nail-biting moms. I do my best to pretend I am actually a piano teacher just come to listen backstage . But someone is bound to ask, " Now what time do your little ones play?" or " Is it violin or piano that you teach?"

And I swallow my pride and admit, "Well, actually I am a pupil too!"

So while I am in the confessional, let me fill you on my reading habits. This is thanks to Smiling Sal who has tossed me the challenge. The rules of this game (my version) are:
1 Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules.

2 Share 2 random/eccentric book facts about yourself (actually she said 'weird'; I think eccentric sounds more, well, classy!)

3 Tag and link to 7 other bookworms and give them the good news on their blogs.

My book reading habits/eccentricities are:

1 I always read the ending after I am a little way into a book. I feel more secure if I know who dies/marries/elopes etc. Then I can proceed calmly without any frenzied rush to the end.

2 I always kindly offer to tell others about the end of the plot before they have read the book. And they usually turn down my well-meant suggestion. Why?

3 My favourite children's author was Enid Blyton. Contrary to the gloomy predictions of school teachers and librarians, Enid didn't ruin me or my English. I still graduated as an English lit major with a particular penchant for the Bard.

4 As a teen, I preferred Dickens to Peyton Place and the like (told you I was boring!). On second thoughts, I think Dickens can be pretty steamy himself.

5 I love reading aloud. I read loud to my girls until they were about 13. I read aloud to the grandkids. I read aloud to myself. I read aloud to my English pupils whom I tutor. Richard also loved reading aloud, especially lengthy descriptions from Pickwick Papers amidst snorts of laughter.

6 I never read books that I don't enjoy no matter Who recommends them. Political correctness is a virtue but not one of mine.

7 I swear I never plagiarised this fact from "To kill a mockingbird"! But I really did sit on Dad's lap and read the newspaper before I started school. When I got to Sub A, I just couldn't understand why we wasted time with inanities such as "Run, Jack, Run" and "Look, Jill, Look!" But unlike Scout, I always play the system in public so I dutifully read aloud in class and Mom signed my reading card. Evenings I took my revenge - kneeling next to Mom with the Cape Argus or the Cape Times spread out in front of us on the lounge carpet and read about train crashes, wars, murders, obituaries and other interesting and relevant stuff.

Now who is next?
Miss Daisy
Sreddy Yen at Say you, Say me!
Rachel at A romantic porch
Maria from Poland
Dirk from Holland

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday, 14 November: Two good reasons why...

There are two good reasons why I am not on Skywatch Friday, copying out poems, commenting on movies or posting garden pics, among others. Here is the first reason - Joelle!
Here is the second - Jaelene!
To visit from Bloemfontein for the weekend - we have coloured in, cut out cards, made pancakes, sung Christmas carols, thrown balls for doggos and day is not yet done!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, 11 November: Choirs of men and angels

Pretoria Bach Choir

Pretoria has 70 000 jakaranda trees and a number of small choirs worthy of note. The Pretoria Bach Choir is one of them. On a misty damp Sunday afternoon the choir inspired an enthusiatic audience with a sensitive and polished performance of JS Bach's Sleepers awake (Mt 15:1 -13); WA Mozart: Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and Handel's Psalm 112 at the Musaion at the University of Pretoria. I was transported by the singing of the familiar Scriptures. A programme with translations into English and Afrikaans allowed one to follow the German. Congratulations to Leone and Petro and to Gerben Grooten, the elegant and dedicated young conducter. Gerben is our worship leader at Hatfield Christian Church and I am more accustomed to see him in a T-shirt sitting behind the drums in the church band. He did us all proud and his obvious dedication to making music to the glory of God, whether contemporary or classical is refreshing!

Friday, November 7, 2008

7 November, '08: Grey skies & summer rains

Leaden skies in Pretoria.
A spectacular electric storm hit in the early morning hours. Dogs and I were soaked to the skin, or shall I say the fur, on the last lap of our early morning walk. Pretoria lies 1330 m above sea level and the high altitude ensures a wonderful year round climate. Between November and February summer thunderstorms produce flashes of lightening, rolling thunder and torrential downpours. We love the summer rain!
A rain spattered day lily in my garden

A bedraggled Thatchwick

Take care! The paths to the gates are slippery.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

6 November, '08: Big events and little dramas

Here is a beautiful species of protea, the national symbol of South Africa, to tuck into the buttonhole of Barack Obama, the new President of the US of A!

But the big events of the week - the US election, the formation of a new opposition party in South Africa, the failing negotiations to settle the Zimbawean tragedy- played a poor second fiddle to my own little crisis. Oh, dear blogger chums all over the world, your friend at Thatchwick is very small-minded, indeed!
An electricity fault at the local substation had my neighbourhood block and the traffic lights at the intersection without power for nearly three days. As historical events unfolded elsewhere, I was more concerned about farming out the frozen goods in my freezer, throwing away the contents of the fridge, champing at the bit about no battery on my PC, a dead cell phone, no security lights or pool pump and cold showers. Horror of horrors, I could not blow dry my hair!
On an academic note, the sociologist, C Wright Mills, writing in the 50's called things like this the intersection between personal biography and history. In my case, I am ashamed to say my little history took priority over the bigger picture!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday, 3 October, 2008: Shades of Mozambican blue

Feel like escaping to a desert island on this Blue Monday? In June 2005 my sister-in-law and I did just that. In the middle of a chilly Gauteng winter we boarded a plane from Johannesburg International on a short flight to Villancoulos, a seaside town in neighbouring country, Mozambique. A friendly guide took us in a jeep to the sandy shore where, with skirts held high, we waded through blue waters to a waiting motor boat which sped us across blue-turquoise-azure waters to our own island hideaway at the Dugong (the name of a local fish) nature reserve. We dozed under gauzy mosquito nets in our own wood and grass chalet, showered outdoors under the thorn trees keeping a wary eye out for snakes, picked up pansy shells on white beaches, feasted on prawns, Jahna snorkled and I swam among shoals of exotic fish.

Hey, where did I file that travel agent's phone number?