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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Garden whatnot's

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wishful thinking

Display at Safari Nursery, Lynnwood

It's not quite the end of July but gardeners, myself included, are pruning roses, buying compost and poking around impatiently in their flower beds. August, an unpredictable month, still lies ahead. August is nippy, windy and dusty.  

Clivias flower in August  - but I am not sure how well mine will do. My clivia plants, which  faithfully provided a magnificent display of orange blooms for twenty years, have been decimated by lily borer.  

South Africans living on the High Veld traditionally celebrate Spring Day on the 1 September. School children go to school in new summer outfits. Churches hold Spring Bazaars. Families plan picnics. This is overly optimistic. It has been known to snow lightly in Johannesburg on the 1 September. The spring equinox falls on the  22 September in the Southern Hemisphere, a far more realistic date for spring celebrations. But who doesn't want to reach the end of winter, even the mildest of winters as  experienced this year in Gauteng?     

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cats in Israel (2001)

I would not care 
To be a feral cat of Joppa’s ancient harbour
Thin, starving, one-eyed
They dart away 
Expecting the stone, curse,  boot
Did Peter kick the unclean cats of Joppa?
Did he recoil from Joppa cats swarming, diseased
In the visioned canvas of forbidden foods 
On a rooftop 
Overlooking the sea?

The long-haired tabbies on the porch of St John the Baptist, Bethany
Lie un-timid in the sun
Plump, they don’t budge 
For the tourist, worshipper, monk
Their fur sleek, their eyes glint
They have chosen well – a Franciscan shrine -
Where cats are worthy creatures

Among the massive, knotted roots of
Gethsemane’s olive trees
Where Jesus prayed 
And friends slept 
Kittens frisk 
Gambol among the rosebushes
Tumble among flowers
Hide (and seek)
Oblivious of 
Past agony

Friday, July 14, 2017

Faith quilt

Six months of 2017 have passed in a flash. What have you achieved? 

My dear friend and sister (in  St Paul's/Minneapolis, Minnesota) -  Barb -  has given an evocative and equisitively beautiful piano concert (from memory) as part-fulfillment  of her Master's in Music and produced a dissertation on the merits of teaching/learning piano (equally applicable to other instruments) for retirees. An enormous accomplishment for a 60-something with formidable family commitments! My daughter, Ruth, a medical doctor with a hectic multi-disciplinary practice, will be running the Knysna Marathon  (42 km) this weekend. That  has entailed six months of rigorous early morning practice. Catherine, my younger daughter, has combined a lecturing post and mothering two small children  with two academic articles and a conference paper. And me? I have made a faith quilt of more than 1 000 two and half inch squares - with the help of the sweet, patient  Sandria, the encouragement of my fellow quilters, Noleen and Petra, and many homebaked muffins and cups of coffee.


Why a faith quilt?

 Catherine and Ryan took the plunge to sell their small townhouse and buy a lovely, free standing home with pool and large garden in the same area close to the schools. I shall not go into detail about the  nerve-racking 'house' saga - an offer to purchase accepted and declined within 24 hours, a nervous purchaser who disappeared and reappeared, show houses and the inevitable tidying up, the house search, bond applications and why-did-we-ever-do-this-to-ourselves moments. During the roller-coaster ride, I pinned and stitched and pinned and stitched the quilt for the new house in faith.

But I got it done. And the 1 000 pieces came close to the 1 000 prayers made during this time to the One who knows all our needs and aspirations.  At the best of times, Catherine is a hard one to please - an interior architect with minimalist tastes. The quilt may be consigned to the spare bed in the study in the long run - but it will find its place in the New House.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


On April 7 Nala joined our household.

 In January this year Kaela left us for happier hunting grounds - her back legs had all but given in and she suffered from a distressing breathing problem. Dr van Schouwenberg, a veteran vet who has cared for our dogs for years, and her assistant kindly came to Thatchwick Cottage to put Kaela to sleep on her favourite spot on the verandah. She slipped away, eyeing the birds flutter around  the bird feeder. 
Kaela and Flash, Dec 2016

I decided to wait until after a short trip to Bloemfontein and full recovery from my broken ankle before I adopted another dog as a companion to Flash. Last year, Kim, my music teacher, had offered me her dog.

"Nala needs a good home. I am out teaching all day, the yard at our new house is just too small and my grown up children are all too busy with their own lives to give her any attention. When Kaela goes, please don't approach Lab Rescue. Take Nala instead."

At last I was ready.  I approached Kim and we arranged the date. The introduction with Flash went off smoothly. The farewell was a bit harder on Kim. For more than a week,  anxious Whatsapp messages flew between us:  anxiety on her part and reassurance on mine, bolstered by lots of happyp photos. 

Sleeping in on Saturday

"Nala's fine. She loves being allowed to come inside. She's on a strict diet, is looking slimmer and she enjoys her walk every day."

Kim still visits Nala once a week when she comes for my music lesson. And Nala is always pleased to see her. But after the garage door closes, Nala follows me contentedly. She  is not pure Labrador Retriever as all our previous dogs have been to date.  Her ears are too perky and her tail has a curl. But she has the gentle nature of the Labrador.  Grace, my nearly three year old granddaughter, loves her best. Nala is Swahili for lioness.