Thursday, 1 March 2012

As time goes by...

Today is 1st March 2012.  My last post was 31st January.  The whole month of February vanished somehow, in the blink of an eye.  Yet so much happened.

This post will be a catch-up post, with a glimpse of the highlights that have slipped by.

First and foremost, the time with Dani.  It was wonderful to have her here.  Time evaporated in the heat of the summer sun, her and my shared and separate activities,  and the merging of times past, present and future which are shared in the various personae that each of us has - spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical.  She left on 24th February.  Afterwards I needed time, like a chrysallis, to turn away, and towards, to adapt and to change, back into my way of living.

Next, progress on photography.  I have now submitted seven items for grading as a Level One worker.  Of those seven, I achieved six golds and one silver, which extrapolates into 18 + 2 = 20 points.  This means that I should promote to Level Two this month, as the criterion for upgrade is 20 points and 5 golds.  We will see when the next newsletter is published.

Then there is my bird course, which I have so enjoyed.  Sadly, due to unforeseen and distressing circumstances, I missed one of the outings.  Yesterday was the seventh session, and the final one in our 'classroom'.  The eighth session entails an outing to Zandvlei Bird Sanctuary.  I am looking forward to that.  Despite not having put in as much effort as I would have liked to have done, I have somehow held my own, and have time now to brush up on the theoretical side of birding, which took a bit of a backslide whilst Dani was here.

In terms of the workshops that I am giving:
  There has been one so far on the Internet.  Plans are in progress for three more covering two different 
  lesson formats.   It is a difficult and varied topic.  I have had mixed feedback, but on the whole, participants 
  seem to have enjoyed it so far.
  The second, one on gardening, is scheduled for this coming weekend.  I have prepared the course material.
  We'll have to wait and see how participants respond, before I commit on the level of enthusiasm with which
  it is received.

Then there are workshops that I have attended, or am planning to attend:
  The first is a geology workshop, presented last month.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, having learnt a lot about my
  beloved Western Cape.  What is especially nice about this is that my hiking will be enhanced, as I will be on
  the look-out for the various rock formations which Neal explained during the workshop.
  Others that I haved booked for include Mythical Revival in Britain, Birding, and Self Development.  I will 
  blog about those as and when they happen.  What delighted me is that the person who does the birding is also
  the treasurer of the photography club to which I belong.

Of all the activities in which I am involved, hiking gets to be my favourite.  I walk with people that I have come to like and respect a lot, in places which are so incredibly beautiful.  When I look back over this blog, it astounds me that so many posts are on wonderful experiences in this area of my life.  Hiking took a bit of a back seat during February, as did photography.  I think the sacrifice was worth it, as I got to spend so much blessed time with Dani.

On the preserving front, I managed three sessions of pickled onions resulting in 15 jars, two of which have already vanished.  These are particularly yummy, as I used malt vinegar and carefully selected pickling spices.  I will add the recipe to the recipes page next time I blog.  I have done one session of quince preserve which proved to be highly successful.  It culminated in 3.5 bottles, with the half-bottle having disappeared into sandwiches already.  I have enough quinces for two more sessions, so I can anticipate about 8 more bottles overall.  I will post the recipe I used for this as well, as I do think it proved to be highly successful.

Having risen early this morning, I did something that I have never done.  I cleared out some of the debris on my friends list on Facebook.  I very seldom remove people, unless they stop using Facebook.  Today I removed a few people whom I have carried around for a while, but with whom I have absolutely nothing in common.  In a way, I found this to be a healing experience.  I am pleased that I did it.  It also gave me the opportunity to assess the bulk of my friends whom I have kept.  This was, perhaps, the very best part, as I know why I retained each of them, and it gave me an opportunity for whimsical memories and the prospect of future fun.  I mailed a few of them, too, setting up possible plans for this coming weekend.  Also a first for me, as I am so seldom the one who arranges social things.  I'm normally the one who agrees to what other people suggest.  So enter the new me - someone who organises social events.  Hmmm.... we'll see how long this lasts :).

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Relish the thought

Today's hike started near Cellar's Hohenhort encompassing part of the Alphen Trail and part of the Diep River Trail.  This trail entails hiking through lush vegetation, where at this time of year there are plenty of beautiful flowers.  I posted the best one on Project 365.  Here are two others:

The above, like the one on Project 365, are different species and hybrids of canna.

The lush vegetation and beautiful flowers through which one walks provides the detail of the walk, against a backdrop of beauty, which itself makes one ache with the wonder of it all:

We stopped for tea:
And afterwards, shared a lovely hot cuppa at the restaurant, at Cellar's Hohenhort, which has recently re-opened, and retains that aura of genteel luxury, reminiscent of Gatsby days.

Then home again, where I prepared five-and-a-half bottles of Tomato Relish:
The half-bottle became a condiment to supper, which consisted of sort-of-a Tabouleh Salad, once again using the basic recipe of parsley, mint and lemon juice, but this time with celery, dried apricots, a touch of honey, some flaked macadamian nuts spread over chick peas.  It is ever so yummy and a fairly healthy supper option.  This accompanied some grilled chicken with fresh brown bread.

I have added the recipe that I used for the relish to the Recipes Page.  The box of tomatoes was a gift.  The oregano came from the garden.  What is really nice about this recipe is the smidgeon of sugar, which makes this, too, a healthy option to be used as an accompaniment to a meal, as a pasta sauce, or as a base for stews, casseroles or anywhere which calls for canned tomatoes.  I have processed half the box of tomatoes.  The other half will be done today, using the same recipe.

Monday, 30 January 2012

2011 wildlife photographic exhibition

Yesterday was such an amazing day.  Heather, a friend, and I caught the Southern Suburbs Metrorail train into Cape Town and then walked up to the Cape Town Company Gardens.  These gardens are definitely one of my favourite places.  It is a place of peace for so many people.  There is no entrance fee, which means that it is one of the few places of exquisite beauty that is open to everyone irrespective of affluence.  And it is beautiful.  The layout creates little arbours of benches where people can relax, or sleep, or feed the birds, or drink in the incredible beauty which is everywhere for the eye to behold.

We then walked up to the South African Museum where the 2011 Wildlife Photography Exhibition was being held.  This is truly recommended.  It is on until 7th March 2012.  At a nominal entrance fee, one can spend hours gazing at sights that one would never otherwise see - sights that the eye of a lens and an artist put together for the balance of humanity to view.  What is really nice about it is that each photograph carries a story of the siting, the setting, and technical information about the camera used and the settings on the camera, which makes it educational as well as visually awe-inspiring.

We then returned to the Gardens where there is a lovely tea room, and a light lunch and then wandered back through the streets of Cape Town and caught the train home.

What a simply wonderful day, in a simply wonderful world.  Obviously I have posted piccies on Project 365.  See Feed the birds at tuppence a bag..., Siesta time and Is it a nut?

Just to make this post a bit more interesting, here is a picture of a common or garden pigeon:
The pigeons up at the Gardens are ever so fat and ever so friendly.  Must be from all of those feeds....

Thanks, Heather, for the wonderful idea, and for choosing me to share it with you.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Kettle on the boil

They say of life that a watched kettle never boils.  Right now, my kettle is boiling.  Time is moving way too fast.  Cherub has been home for a whole week now.  Where did it go?  What did we do?  Why is it travelling faster than me, faster than my mind, faster than... faster... faster...

I didn't cry at the airport.  I cried when she gave me a gift.  She'd put so much thought into it.  I am at that time in my life when the cycle of it all is so evident, when child transitions to parent and parent to child.  With all its joys and sorrows, it is a profound moment.

Dani had jetlag, so slept late on Monday.  It is not only the seven hour time difference and the change in longitude.  It is also travelling from below zero temperatures into the hot mallaise of a South African summer.

On Tuesday, I did my first interview with a U3A speaker for the February meeting.   This is a story all of its own.  It is another of those unforgettable moments, in which Reine, in all her brilliance, managed to reduce herself to the size of a pinprick.  I have to speak about her in third person, because I would never do anything quite so dumb.  It involved having my car key disappear into the waste band of my bicycle pants.  I will leave the rest of this story to your imagination.

I have cheated again on Project 365.  I have posted some pictures of birds taken in Lakeside on Wednesday, whilst on my way to my second birding course lesson, and some pictures of a hike through Cape Point yesterday.  With the kettle boiling along merrily, there simply has not been time to take pictures daily.  You can find these between Serenity and On top of the mountain.

In terms of culinary skills, I have pickled a couple of bottles of onions, and have preserved my first batch of ginger.  

Yesterday was another story all of its own.  We went into Cape Point.  The target was a walk along the beach with a lovely swim in the hot sun.  I donned my bather and wore my sloppies.  Pity about the wind.  I exchanged sloppies for tackies when we decided against getting sand-blasted, and went up to Gif Kommetjie where one starts at the top of the mountain, walks down into the valley and then back up along the ridge to the cars.  

This was the absolute worst evidence of my vertigo.  Panic set in very early on.  With assurance from Nancy, our hike leader that it got better along the way, I continued.  It took Walter walking in front of me, and Peter walking either behind or beside me, or sitting next to me on long rocky drops to get me down that mountain.  It was so bad that Walter carried my rucksack.  What on earth would I do without these kind people around me?  

I am torn.  I very much want to carry on with these walks.  Without them I would revert to being my not so little hermitty self, which, actually, I don't want.  Hermithood worked for me, or so I thought, at the time that I did it.  It does not work for me now.  Yet... and this is the crunch... if I carry on doing this, I know full well that I am taking advantage of some of the very best quality of kindness that has been demonstrated to me in my entire life.  People have said to me that it is ok, that it is about give and take.  And maybe this is my turn to accept the generosity of others.  There is truth in that.  I have other skills in which I am strong.  And I am attempting to share these.

What to do?  What to do?  I am going to have to think very carefully about this.  I do not want to abuse others,  but I want to carry on being part of this incredibly beautiful journey that has brought me so much joy.

Ok, so this was a moment of introspection in the roiling turmoil of my life at the moment.  Dani is visiting a friend.  I need to go rescue my laptop which is in intensive care, pop off down to the A P Jones sale and drool over some crocs that I really, really want and then decide whether to either buy them or not.  And then, if I can persuade my aching knees to bend to the will of my unkempt garden, then I might just do that.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Altered Reality

Just a quick post....

I went to photography club this evening.  I have submitted five photographs as a level one worker.  I have achieved five golds :), and one Picture of the Month nomination, in which I was awarded third place.  The picture that earned this is:
Gandolf's Wolfhound
which I altered from:
Thanks, Bolle, for licking my lens :).

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dani is on her way home

Yes, I know I went to visit her in August.  Still, the excitement mounts as I wait for her to come home.  Probably, because I was in a tizz, things didn't quite turn out as planned.

I prepared yogurt yesterday.  It was meant to finish at 22h00.  Somehow I managed to fall asleep.  When I rescued it this morning, the curds and way had separated.  Although it tasted absolutely fine, it didn't look that nice, so I tossed it.

Then, I made choccies.  I had purchased some bourneville.  I crushed some organic peanuts, and made peanut balls, coconut balls and raisin balls.  Because I didn't want them to set too hard, I added the tiniest bit of butter.  Obviously the tiniest bit was a tiny bit too much.  They didn't set properly.  Sigh.  I didn't toss these.  I ate them for breakfast.  No wonder I am not losing weight :).

So I made up for it today.  I baked a tray of jam and coconut slices, I have filled the dehydrator with plum roll-ups, tomatoes from the garden, apple slices and peach slices.  Except for a handful of apples and some citrus, I have managed to process all of the fruit that I bought into plastic containers for the dried stuff, and two embarrassingly large boxes and one cupboard of bottled stuff.  This does mean that to a degree, the house looks vaguely presentable.

I have moved all of the loose junk that manages to live in Dani's room into the computer room, and have made her room look nice, with a little dressing table that she can use as a desk for her laptop, place for her cases, and some space to hang up her stuff.

I watered the garden this morning, and because it it not swelteringly hot, I won't have to do it again this evening.  If she is not too exhausted, we'll have time to chat.

Funny, that as Mum, I feel a bit like a teenager going out on her first date.  In three hours time, I'll see her coming through the turnstiles at the airport, with her impish grin and her lively sense of humour.  I hope, sincerely hope, that I won't cry.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Noordhoek Beach Walk

Today started with emptying the dehydrator and assigning the drying trays to a long water soak.  I did plum rollups.  For those of you who have never made plum puree, it is a rich dark burgundy red.  The trays looked as if someone had bled all over them.  Skulking in the lower trays were some cucumber chips, a lunch time gift for a friend, and some dried tomatoes, produce from the garden.

Then came the highlight of the day - a walk on Noordhoek Beach.  After the sweltering heat over the past week, it was something of a surprise to walk in a light drizzle.  There was no wind, which made it delightfully refreshing.  Here are some pictures:
Collecting in the car park beforehand - note our film crew in the background :)
On our way
Another view, including feet :)
Horses being exercised
Tea Break at the Ship Wreck
More of us having tea
The walk tragedy, a recently dead seal
The skeleton of a sun fish
A favourite - man and dog
Someone out riding
Spotted on the back of the car of an animal behaviourist
I have posted a picture of the Kakapo Shipwreck which lies on Noordhoek beach.  More of the story of the shipwreck can be found here.

Then on to help a friend with some internet usage, followed by a lovely lunch, and my first U3A committee meeting, where I met other members of the committee whom I had not yet met, and where we established a working protocol.  I am delighted to say that it is a working committee.  Decisions are made, the agenda is followed and speedily completed, and then tea and biscuits are shared before we all go on our way.  Another huge plus for U3A :).