Saturday, 31 December 2011

An Irish Blessing for the New Year

The auld farmer's New Year's gift...

May the New Year bring…

The warmth of home and hearth to you.
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you,
The hope of a childlike heart to you,
The joy of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

Wishing you a blessed and peaceful 2012

The auld farmer's New Year's gift to his auld Mare Maggie by Richard Ansdell - Wikipedia

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas...

May your Christmas be wonderful and bright...


                                                                        Merry Christmas Everyone...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

What Do Doctors, Mongoose(s) and Weather Have in Common?

This was Wednesday’s update, only it’s a little later than intended. That’s out the window now, having spent the last two days being completely indulgent and lazy. Monday, I had oral surgery (involving stitches) and was back at home just after lunch time…So far, so good. Where this story gets wobbly, is the bit where I have a nap instead of writing.  Tuesday I was back at the Doc so that he could admire his work. M and I did some Christmas shopping and were home in the early afternoon, plenty of time to write, perfect time to have another nap…So I did. As for Wednesday, well I started writing (but didn't finish) ‘cause Wednesday’s weather was a gift and I was mongoose watching too!

Hiding...Until Next Week...
Living in the southern hemisphere gives us Christmas in the middle of summer…Just like the Australians; we have heat and dust instead of snow and cold. By this time last year, our rainy season was over and desert days had replaced the greenery and colour of flower season.  This year we are having a cool and somewhat slow start to the languid, sultry days of high summer. Wednesday was foggy grey and overcast with gentle showers on and off.


Our crazy birds and other wildlife were playing in the birdbath and the mongoose mama and her two babies were all over the veranda.  We have a curtain of heavy-duty, deep-sea fishnet that hangs over the front of the veranda, shielding the house from the worst of the sun. The small mongooses were playing in the folds and scampering up and down like monkeys while mama kept a lookout on the steps.  The babies have been around for the last three months (since very small) and they are almost fully grown but we haven’t seen them for a couple of weeks. We thought that they had grown too big for climbing around and hide n’ seek but the unexpected coolness must have made them playful and they entertained us for ages.  These are the Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), about fifteen inches long and a twelve-inch tail and they live in the brush and scrub outside the garden.


The picture is from my old-friend, (thank you) Wikipedia; unfortunately our long-suffering camera died a violent death when it leapt from the office table and hurled itself to the ground, damaging the internals as well as cracking the screen. Wouldn’t you know, not three weeks later, we get a wildlife photographers dream…Our house has full length glass doors all around the veranda; the main living area, office and one bedroom each have a glass wall. The Mongoose babies sat on their haunches (like Meerkats) peering into the house, or so we thought, but they probably caught sight of their reflections in the glass doors and were actually staring at themselves. Too delightful! M could have taken dozens of photos but for the dead camera…

I sure hope Santa is reading...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Food for Thought...

                                      High-tech tomatoes.
                                                Mysterious milk.  
                                                             Are we supposed to eat this stuff?  
                                                                      Or is it going to eat us? 

                                                                                                 Annita Manning

Monday, 5 December 2011

Is It or Isn't It?

When I asked in my last post if this blog was schizophrenic, it was an honest question. I so love writing! Well I better, I sure am doing a lot of it. Even when my thoughts are all over the place, there are words inside trying to get out. Then thinking about the original purpose of all these words (ancient family history), I woke up! My problem isn’t so much the content; I’ll get it together eventually. No, the real problem here is organization!  Hmm, a re-occurring issue?   As soon as time allows, the category labels must be tamed. 

So organized, so peaceful looking*
Here on the west coast, the weather, having been cool to the point of cold right through spring suddenly zoomed up to HOT yesterday. Sheesh, summer had arrived and was beating everyone up! Not for long. Opening the door to the garden this morning early, I was met with a blast of cold wind…I guess summer didn’t like his welcome…

Out in the bay, bulk carriers, the size of a small country, bounced around on the choppy water.  Birds, landing for a drink, were up-ended into the birdbath by the gusts… Who knew? Did it ever occur to you that this can happen to birds? Fortunately, the birdbath is pretty shallow.  Everything was back on track  by noon time, (no, the birds straightened up fine in no time), hazy sunshine was evident again, the wind was down and regular scheduling had been resumed…

*Painting by Carl Larsson-courtesy of Wikipedia 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Nothing a Cookie Can't Fix...

In the greater scheme of things, being busy ranks pretty high on my list of priorities. Now that I’m up to my ponytail in our website projects and gainful employment has suddenly arrived, the rhythm of work is becoming addictive. Along with a renewed sense of purpose, I’ve discovered a craving for research (or knowledge)? What…ever… But this brings me to the point of this post.  Looking back over old entries, life has moved on in many ways and the old categories just don’t all seem to fit; does this make my blog schizophrenic? 

...Welcome to this post. Please go to Wildmoz to see all our new articles on wildlife as they appear. We are also publishing all our African Folktales in their full version in e-books for readers, PDFs, etc. as well as in ... Welcome to this post. Please go to Wildmoz to see all our new articles on wildlife as they appear. We are also publishing all our African Folktales in their full version in e-books for readers, PDFs, etc. as well as in hard copies. 

Keep a look out for these wonderful little stories for children and adults alike at Collect for yourself a set of twelve, in the format of your choice, as and when they are available...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Something to Remember...

Judy Garland

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, 

instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.  

                                                           Judy Garland

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Everyone has a story…

We have several, but one, little known although quite typical of Baby boomers, stands out. It’s ironic that the same generation that includes Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, also includes me, Anne, Tom, Marcy, and countless other perfectly normal, intelligent people, who describe themselves as technophobic. M on the other hand, would have been right at home in Silicon Valley’s heyday; he embraces technology with a passion.  But Facebook?  And Twitter?  Well… we’ll see.

It took me a few years and an expensive six-month course in the basics of computing before I would even switch on a PC.  Even then, I only used it as a word processor. After moving to another country and getting back into the work force, I graduated to the Internet. And then we came home to Africa…We left the UK just as the Economic Crisis – America’s old news – was impacting heavily on the rest of the world.

Who-Won-African-Tortoise-Or-European-Hare I look fast to you?

Fast forward… Now selling property, limping along with the rest of the world, waiting for The Recovery, we realize age will be catching up with us one of these days.  With this fact hanging over our heads, we have been exploring methods to make money in ways that are smarter, not harder. So M built another website for us – more commercial– all about The Magical Mythical Kingdom of Free.  I write about all of our adventures and misadventures in Cyberland and how M started webbing back in the day and other important stuff to know if you need a website. Wanting to give readers some entertainment as well as information, I decided (as an Internet virgin) to actually make a website myself. So I’m going to write a tutorial there to tell how it’s done. How to build a website from scratch while I’m writing!  I’ve never done anything like this before – I have this Blog on Blogger that I set up (wow, did I ever think I was smart) years ago. But, and here’s the rub, Google Blogger just about does everything for you. Building a website is another story altogether!  Scary…I Know! Come and enjoy the bumpy ride!

South African "Danger Ahead" Sign

Remember, I’m the non-techie here and M is not going to help.  This one I’ll be doing all by myself. Step by step, I’ll share everything that happens, describe exactly what it takes. You’ll know how easy or how hard it is, for me with my almost non-existent, skill set. Anyone who wants to follow, every time I update the saga I’ll post it here and if you’re laughing so hard you can’t read…well, you’re welcome!  Remember, laughter is the best medicine. And please don’t forget, I offer the simple minded – not for professionals – method of web building! KISS!   (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, America...


None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude.

Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves,

and spend without fear of bankruptcy.

                                                                                            F. De Witt van Amburgh

Can't find image link - can anyone help?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Age Defying Action...

Jeanne Moreau 2006

Age does not protect you from love... 

                            But love, to some extent, protects you from age...

                                                                             Jeanne Moreau

Image of Jeanne Moreau courtesy of Wikipedia

Monday, 21 November 2011

Starting Over... A Short History...

I was born in South Africa and lived here until I was nine, with my grandparents.  At nine, I was sent to California to join my mom in Hollywood (she was a 20th Century Fox actress). There I went to school; junior high, high school, ending at UCLA. Before I completed university, I was in a car accident; after I recovered, I used the insurance settlement to move back to SA: Back in SA, (re)met and married M (born in SA), we farmed, M made handcrafted furniture and we had two sons. We then spent a year in the US (Missouri, Oklahoma) while my husband studied agriculture.  Back to SA to the farm, together we ran various projects, opened a gift shop, started a plant nursery, did property development, had another two sons, opened a ceramics studio, created a boutique hotel, had two antique shops, M built computers,  I made hammocks. When the children left home, we packed our lives into a crate and moved to the UK where we were homeless for a time, worked in various jobs and ran our own tearoom and antique shop in Scotland.  Back in Africa, we explored all over, settling on the incredible Cape west coast, where we are now. Together M and I made many decisions; choices that took us along “the road less traveled”.

Fifteen years ago, we lived in vastly different circumstances than we do now. Life then, a hundred-year old mansion filled with antiques to a seaside cottage now. In between (the last fifteen years), we have “started over” several times, been homeless (through no fault of our own), lived (slept) on London buses for some weeks, owned our own businesses, been robbed twice, worked for others, and lived in a garage.  Except for the bus (and it had its moments too) and the robberies, we enjoyed most of the adventures…Scary but when you realize that “you can do it” ordinary fear falls away and anything seems possible. Very empowering!


I know we’re not unique; our story is different but by no means, extraordinary.  I write about it for these reasons.  The first is to preserve our personal family history; this is mainly for our growing tribe of grandchildren – most of the story lives only in our memories as all our papers, family photographs, and memorabilia of previous generations were destroyed in one of the robberies. My family history exists only with myself and my mother; all the other family members are dead. M’s family history was contained in dozens and dozens of documents, deeds, books and pictures, also gone.  Unfortunately, M’s family is fragmented and all the original protagonists are either dead or very nearly.  In a family divided by feuds, jealousy, bitterness and acrimony and bound together in a destructive, polluted destiny, history has taken on various interpretations as suits each individuals' cause. With no axe to grind, having walked away a free man - the first in four generations - M (and I) would only like to record the important points, the bare facts, preserved for any future descendants who may be interested.

Friday, 18 November 2011

West Coast Weekend…Already?

So much to tell… But first, more of the where before I get to the why’s and hows. We currently live on the dramatic coastline known as Africa’s Atlantic seaboard a.k.a. The Cape West Coast. It has history, atmosphere, beauty and adventure and boasts some of the most famous attractions Africa has to offer, starting with Table Mountain. The west coast begins just outside of Cape Town, stretching all the way northwards into Namibia as far as the Angolan border.  We have made a home here in a tiny seaside village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. On one side, Saint Helena Bay's white sandy, beaches, on the other, wheat fields and fertile croplands to the Cederberg Mountains in the north.  


Southeast, lie the famed wine lands of the Cape but wine country is all around us, as climate changes occur, more land is planted to vineyards, olives and herbs. Wild flowers from here to Namaqualand and abundant wildlife, both on land and in water are characteristic of the region. 

Flower season is coming to a close although there are still random patches of incredible colour. I seem to think that this year, the flowers have lasted longer – the official line is from July ‘til sometime in September but it all is very dependent on the rainfall each year. M snapped some pics of the ‘hood a few weeks ago. These photos feature pink, mauve and red flowers but there are also orange, yellow and white (mostly finished now) with the blues being rare. None of these have been planted but occur naturally in the dunes and plains. This dry and arid area (known as The Sandveld – the sand plain) is remarkably fertile and this is borne out by the abundance of wheat and potatoes that are harvested on local farms.


Have a wonderful weekend wherever you may be…

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Woman...Visable, Invisable?

Carmen Dell'Orefice (74 in 2005)

This has been rolling around in my head for a while, years actually. (Please forgive a little rant) When I started this journal, I was experiencing that feeling of invisibility that many women get with approaching middle age. Writing here helped me feel like I still had a voice – and with that voice – a face!

Now more and more women (of a certain age) are standing up (metaphorically) and demanding to be counted; the Internet has given us a platform, and the word-on-the-street is “I AM VISABLE”! Finally there are individuals out there saying, “this is us, this is what we look like – we mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, daughters – we are not invisible anymore”. These "ordinary" women are just confirming how "extraordinary" we all can be. I want to link to two brave, ground-breaking women who have addressed this issue, each with her own brand of flair and style. Click on these links to see -

 and "Visible Monday"  -

Because these blogs put such a positive spin on what has been largely a taboo subject (aging), I wish I had seen them several years ago when I suddenly realized - one particularly awful morning (with shock, amazement, horror and trauma) - that I was “old”. I was 51 then and working in an office in London where the average age was probably 26 and this sudden awakening totally floored me. Being homesick, missing my children and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) might have made it worse but there it was – just plain ugly! Had there been any visible examples of sassy, smart, attractive, capable, vital women around, I think this realization would have been a lot less traumatic. But all the really visible, role models were young, anorexic, androgynous girls, (and apparently, in at least one instance, a boy).

Popular media has much to answer for but I also think that we – our generation – should be ashamed of ourselves. I mean, we bought into the cr*p (pardon my French), youth obsession, big time and just took the punches – “Old? Oh, I guess so, after all I’ll be forty next year. Pass the hair colour and a pot of that wonder wrinkle remover and if that doesn’t work, there’s always Botox!” Should we not be angry, even militant? Time to stand up and say “I am a woman” and part of what’s wrong with the world today is that the collective wisdom, intuition, understanding and plain old common sense we women have gained through life experiences is treated like so much rubbish. My history? Erase it from my face, erase it from my body, then erase it from my mind!

My point is this; the general perception of aging is one of stereotypes and rigidly defined clich├ęs, bar the occasional reference to some fabulous celebrity. I am blown away to see my contemporaries – baby-boomers too – being so entirely “present” and looking so good in the process! Which leaves me asking the question “why has growing older generally been given such a bad rap? OK, I make some assumptions here, in that I’m talking about women who can embrace life as a gift (not a curse) and explore every moment for the joy within. These are obviously people who have not let themselves be defined by anyone else’s parameters but make their own rules as they go.

Image of Carmen Dell'Orefice courtesy of Wikipedia

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Another Piece of Paradise

Africa’s West Coast –Wild, mysterious, hidden, lonely, arid, and secretive; oh, what stories this land can tell…Let me take you on a quick trip - an overview - of our new stomping grounds.

Cape-West-Coast-FlowersNamaqualand Flowers in Spring

Travel from twenty-first century Cape Town, heading north, up the coastal road. Leaving the edge of the suburbs and Koeberg Nuclear Power Station behind, you head out through the dunes and the scrub toward the playground of Langebaan. Here in the sparkle of the Lagoon, the twenty-first century meets the stone-age. Long ago, between the two World Wars, a lone man, tired of the haste and noise of the world, lived on a little boat in the Langebaan Lagoon for thirty years; he found the peace he craved in this stark and vacant place. Today the towns of Langebaan and Saldanha have replaced the wild veld.

South-African-West-Coast-Flowers Typical Flora

For some, Langebaan only stands at the beginning of the adventure; there are fishing villages to visit, flowers to see, beaches to explore, mountains to climb, caves to find. In the beauty of the Cederberg, retrace the footsteps of the original inhabitants who sheltered in the caves and left the paintings recording their lives. At the top of Saint Helena Bay, you can walk the long, white sandy beach and watch the Dolphins playing in the surf. Elands Bay marks the northern end of Saint Helena Bay, the largest bay in Africa and only one of three bays in the world where the sun rises and also sets.

Langebaan-Lagoon-Cape-West-CoastLangebaan Lagoon (seen from the West Coast Nature Reserve)

On further north, Lamberts Bay celebrates the Crayfish, so plentiful in these waters, with a yearly festival. Further up the coast to Strandfontein and on to Lutzville where the microclimate allows for the making of fine wine. The floral carpets of Namaqualand are waiting, but not for long.

Augrabies-Falls-South-AfricaAugrabies Falls

Ahead lie the wonders of the diamond fields and the Augrabies Falls, where the mighty Orange River tumbles into the Atlantic Ocean. This is the frontier of South Africa, a place where one amazing country flows effortlessly into the next. And on to the Namib, but that’s another story, for another day…

Photos thanks to Wikipedia - I seem to have forgotten how to do hyperlinks - working on it!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Water, Boats, Sea & Sky...

Let us, then, be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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