acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Thursday, September 25, 2008

dry season

the house in the dust bowl.... green season pic to follow when it happens!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paint Storm

Painting the house – which is always better than burning it down like the song.

It started with a serious well overdue need to repaint the kitchen white. Hide the bits where bat droppings have leaked down the walls, ancient cobwebs have fossilised onto plaster and just generally too much dust in the rough surface. It’s been too long – how did that happen. Ok off to town to invest in some lovely white velveglo. Start the process. And while you are at it, let’s paint out that ancient corkboard we inherited when we moved in. Great idea... lick, slap, splodge.

Have you noticed that if you repaint one room, all the others start to look shockingly shabby too?

The windows on the stoep (veranda) for instance. Putty had been replaced in places, left to harden, and then just left to crack. Buy some nice fresh summer green paint. Tape up the edges – do it properly. And off we go.

I am a very messy painter. I’d forgotten just how bad. Soon, skin, clothes, hair, floor and windows need constant attention. Tarrah. Whisk off the masking tape and … oh dear… quite a lot of paint found its way underneath so windows now have frilly painted edges like an elaborate doily. Hmm, disappointed but if I leave my glasses off it doesn’t look too bad and hey! It matches the cushions. And look how it brings out the other colours.

Right - now the main bedroom. The once white walls are now faded to a slightly yellowed white. Lashings of velveglo and Turrah! again… now the box-wood-packing-crate ceiling must go….No more that strange distorted face in the wood grain to look up at! Body is aching now. But it all looks good and so LIGHT – a person could get snow blindness on a sunny day!

Turn around and – oh yes the bathrooms. Too much green paint now everywhere. Blue is the answer. Buy blue paint inspired by colours seen on a trip to India a few years ago. I remember a bathroom that was swamped in blue – walls, floor, and ceiling. Going to the loo there was like a meditation session or being submerged in a dolphinarium – without the dolphins.

Ok I won’t go that far, but the cupboards door windows – yes! Wow this blue is much brighter than I planned. Quite a few times I think I have finished, mop up all the splotches, put brushes in water, pack away. Look again and …uhoh missed a bit.
Bring paint back, fix. Put away. Another missed bit. Did that quite a few times. Now the blue is shimmering and blasting its presence into the smallest rooms.
I am trying not to look at the white bits of walls……….. Or the office…….or anything that looks like it might be improved by paint. I have quite a bit left over so this is not a safe house to stand still in at the moment.

Oh yes and the monkeys have fled the overwhelming miasma of paint fumes … he he

Friday, September 19, 2008

first bit of friday

I am waking up so early at the moment – even before the first monkeys land on the roof. Before the first sparrows fart. Before the sun has his hat on. I think it’s a combination of early nights and clean lifestyle – for a week or so anyway. So this morning I was up at 4am… it’s a bit like jet lag I suppose. May as well get up and on with things… but bound to be a bit cranky or dopey later in the day.

So get up, make tea/coffee, load dishwasher, watch snippet of Nat,Geo about the mountain gorilla massacre. Gorilla family slaughtered to make way for forestry, and then small farmers. Hill sides denuded, ready for soil erosion when big rains arrive – which they will. No winners there – except the timber dealers maybe for a short while. Those Park Rangers are impressive in their dedication – but still the killings continue. Human greed.

Strange sound bites about a world in crisis as I sip tea and think about my plan for the day. Everything seems so far away from our four walls, in an island of dust and warthog poo within a sea of leafless mopane trees.

Shower, try to wash paint off from yesterday but no-go. Must remember to buy thinners. Still haunted by gorillas. Check emails and BLOGS ( Iam totally addicted at this stage) first any comments on my postings – yes hurrah – then check on all my favourites. This takes a bit of time because my connection is so slow.

Start packing up main bedroom ready for coat of paint today. Pictures off walls – shake off build up of dust and moths wings; pile shoes etc onto chair; cover important bits with plastic;. The curtains – ten years later – need a wash. Ahem. Ok fire up the washing machine. Its just starting to get light outside. The monkeys are arriving ready for the days entertainment – looking all bouncy and fresh; and the warthogs – ever present at the moment. Yesterday there was such a thin one walking around. This time of year is so tough for them. Some trees are coming into leaf now – not a blade of green grass in sight though. A Lion passed the house last night. Hmm lions haven’t been around in a while. This time of year is predator heaven – so many weak and lost prey items wandering around – easy pickings.

Start making list for town trip. Resupply for weekend; buy more paint, and thinners. Do the rounds. Its 8am already!!! Where did those dark hours go? Time moves much too fast for my liking.

Yesterday I had fun painting while listening to the very cool sounds of Janelle’s CD – Serendipity - Dust Angels;( Janelle is a friend and fellow blogger at CD is gentle on the soul, upbeat tempo – hints of Dylan, Waterboys, Rickie Lee Jones – words and music by Janelle on most tracks but plainly her band are all capable muso’s. Lyrics are pure poetry – found myself repeating strains in my head long after the CD had stopped. “Lights are out and so are owls..” I am sure there are proper music crit words to use but hey – I LOVE IT - well done Janelle! So much talent and good energy. So will be listening to that again today.

Ok must get on…
RIP Gorilla family...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Nyalla and the Full Moon

Tonight we have the most beautiful golden full moon rising steadily through the leafless trees; a male nyalla antelope is breathing his last breath. With leaves so sparse on the trees he has eaten of a poisonous vine – the last green leaf he could reach. His body, already thin, is barely visible above the ground; his massive horns appear unwieldy and only a hindrance now. Last week he was in love with a beautiful female. While the others were feasting on the Lucerne (alfalfa) bales, he only had eyes for her. His tracks from this morning are by our step.

The moon climbs higher preaching continuity – life goes on; wars happen, banks close, recession, succession, ; the baboons watch well into darkness. Moving like shadows away from our view but staying in range of the nyalla. They shy away from eye contact with us, even though we are watching from behind the glass window. They too are hungry, desperate.

Two giraffe stroll in to the waterhole, stretching to reach new leaves on the taller trees. They look like giants, white and shapely in the low light. All the animals seem restless, for ever walking back and forth – waiting for that first green flush of summer.

Do animals have souls? Is his emerging from his exhausted body like a magnificent butterfly from a chrysalis – soaring away from the pain of transition? or not...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Teas Made

My mother had a teasmaid – am I showing my age here? And no its not something that will be banned by the censor board!!! It was an amazing heath robinson type of contraption that pushed the limits of what can be combined with an alarm clock. We have radio alarms; mobile phone alarms; mickey mouse alarms….. what else? alarm clocks that is. Of course the security business here is BIG but that’s another story.

Anyhow, I remember dark winter mornings with school days on the horizon and unfinished homework to explain; mornings when staying in bed was a better option. Long before the last-minute-jump-out-of-bed-and-into-clothes moment had arrived it would start. The first blup… then another. Breaking the cosy caccoon of the night – no going back now. Blip blip…..increasing in volume and frequency with an awful sense of inevitability that only my mother could enjoy because for her it heralded a steaming cup of tea. The blips would become a torrent and then a fog horn would reverberate around the house with a big light that shone even under the closed door flooding into the landing. It shook and belched steam…. It was a veritable time machine!!! What happened to them?

Now I have monkeys….

Friday, September 12, 2008

helter skelter

After all the heat and summer swelter, yesterday a night wind blew in cloud cover and the temperature has dropped more than ten degrees – it is now 21C in the kitchen. Strangely all the monkeys have gone. No more little faces at every window hungrily watching every move and waiting for a door or window to be left off the latch.

Well there was one that slipped in this morning. He left a turd artfully poised on the corner of the dining room table like a small brown place setting . Once spotted he started to panic and couldn’t find the tiny gap in the door by which he had come in. I stepped back as, once before, a monkey had panicked and jumped straight through one of the big panes of glass. He was fine – not a drop of spilled blood – but may have had a small headache for a while – we will never know about that. So we waited for this one to find the gap of his own accord – which thank goodness did not take too long once there was no pressure.

Had to clear the decks a bit this morning. Felt I was drowning in piles of papers. Maybe the ghosts of all those trees wagging their phantom twig fingers at me in disapproval.

So September 11 again hey. Where were you when the twin towers went down? Certainly something no-one can ever forget. Thanks to live broadcasting anxious faces all over the world looked on in total horror.

I remember the day here. Something wonderous was happening in our back yard. Six bull elephants had wandered in from the bush and were browsing the trees up against the house. We were watching in wondrous amazement. Seen against the familiar constructs of our simple dwelling, the elephants suddenly looked really huge – or the house looked small. Then the phone rang…….. turn on CNN right now – a familiar voice instructed in a tone that left no room for discussions. We did so, and while the elephants moved slowley past the window we gaped in stunned silence at the awful spectacle of New York on fire.

Then the second plane came in. It felt like the end of the world, and it was in a way, certainly as we all knew it. And who in the world has not been affected in some way to greater or lesser extent? The madness of human beings at play in the game of life.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

missing moon

hi there if you were expecting to see a new marvellous posting of the moon phases - umm well i had to take it off because it made everything else disappear - which is not necessarily a bad thing but i had to see if it was reversible...... big learning curve going on here!!

still... havent.... got the photo up load thing sorted. i just dont seem to have the same tab options on the edit page as i should. maybe its destiny...

anyway that moon thing was really cool - its a widget thingy... i may try to get it back again... sigh

oh well

Friday, September 5, 2008

Elephant games

Decided to dip into Kruger National park for lunch yesterday. The entrance gate is just 20 minutes from our gate so it’s an easy dip. We thought we might find fires raging, or at least the source of some of this smoke haze. Found instead a desolate landscape of brown dust and sticks coming out of the ground that are leafless trees. Nothing to burn here. In the wide landscape, elephants were floating along well worn paths like sailing ships – their ears unfurling sails. Dust baths have blended them with the landscape as they carry the red earth on the curve of their backs.

It was all so incredibly calming. Kruger has good roads and speed limits. The steady pace of the road rolling out before us; animals sleeping under trees; the sun on our faces and arms. Bright white-blue heavens spreading wall to wall force a slight screwing up of eye lids; soon the mesmerising effect of the passing landscape did the rest.

So often we pass cars in Kruger where the driver is all agog, and the passengers have slumped up against the windows; chubby cheeks sliding down the glass, forcing the sleeper to pull amazing faces at the passing traffic.

My favourite is when a big old bull elephant wants to walk down the road this way. The tourist and park vehicles line up but keep their motors running. These elephants have a sense of humour. The elephant towers over the saloon vehicles – they are looking at his knees. He swings his trunk idly, looping it over one tusk as if it is too heavy to carry today. His head swings with each step too, and ears fan back and forth gently cooling. He shows no sign of stepping off the road. Reverse lights come on like street lights at dusk. The guy in front is rubber necking, feeling trapped. The elephant has his number and gives him a ‘look’. Drivers start to exercise their synchronised reversing skills and the passengers are now wide awake.

The elephant keeps up a steady pace, body moving to the rhythm of the beat. He acknowledges that the cars have moved but never wavers, pressing onwards ever on. Some vehicles decide to turn and take another route. Some hold their ground; others get great photos without a zoom lens.

Finally, boredom arrives at the same time as a well worn path to a waterhole. Some pushing and shoving with the other bulls seems more appealing than herding cars. The giant animal eases off the tar and onto the path. He walks on, never faltering and never looking back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

smoke in the air

Today there is smoke in the air. Heat has been building for the past few days. We hope it will lead to rain. The air is thick with dust and smoke. Mountains have retreated behind the blue haze. The rolling tree canopy of our view to the south is defined in coloured layers like two-dimensional theatre props fading into blue.

A gusty wind has been fanning the heavy air. Grass is tinder dry and somewhere a fire is raging- hanging smoke over a wide range. Today we can smell it; yesterday it was just haze.

We are in the north eastern ‘lowveld’ of South Africa. This ‘lowveld’ stretches out beneath the benign gaze of the Drakensberg Mountains. It is a gently undulating heartland of ancient creatures. Harsh and unforgiving in the late dry season when the bones of the earth are laid bare by drought, and the bones of the animals protrude hungrily through dusty hides. It bursts into exuberant growth with the first rains – sticks and stones are cloaked in a soft canopy of verdant green. The air becomes torpid with heat that shimmers off granite boulders and koppies, and there is movement of a myriad life forms everywhere.

It is impossible not to be affected by the seasonal changes here. Tension mounts in people and animals, as all gaze skywards waiting for that build up of clouds that heralds the first rains. People are edgy, fights start easily, neighbours and friends find cause to argue. The temperature climbs, squashing us flat with its fierceness and burning our bare feet when we move on pathways of mirages.

Then the rains come, drenching the hard earth, and pouring off the surface – racing in rivers along roads, filling the dams once more. The smell of first rain should be bottled and sold. It is sweet, and heady – the very breath of life. Our primate souls rejoice in the presence of water once more and the world around us feels invigorated by the gift of water from the sky.

But for now we wait.