Wednesday, January 31, 2007

African Images #6 1st world/3rd world

Hi there.
Is it just me, or are you also totally FREAKED OUT that it is already the end of January? Wasn't it just yeaterday we were all blogging about our Christmas trees?!!! I bet we will blink, and it will be 2008. If life goes by this fast in my early 50's, I can see myself being flung off the planet by centipetal forces before I hit 60!!!
One of the unexpected pleasures of blogging, for me, has been that I have unexpectedly made friends all over the world. I anticipated one or 2 friends and family members to be the only audience, but it has been so great to see v isitorsfrom the most unexpected places popping up on my city by city visitors counter.
This has resulted in me starting to see my life differently, because now there are things I would not normally think twice about, but I am aware of how they must seem to the outsider, and it has made my experiences richer.
I think I must have a big dose of "closet teacher/ tourguide" hidden away inside me, because I constantly find myself looking forward to showing you things as I experience them, and wanting to explain them. I think that was the motivation for the whole "African Images" series.
As I took today's photo........
...........I was struck by the fact that there are many paradoxes and discrepancies which we take for granted if we have lived in Africa all our lives, but which must seem quite bizarre to those of you who have only lived in 1st world situations.
So I started sifting through old photos to show some of the interesting contrasts which we live with, and often take for granted.
For example, we have some wonderful, well built transport systems, great roads, railways and bridges etc.
Outeniqua Choe Choe in Knysna
(and its bridge over the Knysna Lagoon)
Birchenough Bridge in South Eastern Zimbabwe
Yet for many, a car is an impossible dream,
and the best they can hope for is an ox wagon,
a bicycle, or a donkey cart.or even a man, to pull you around in a 'Ricksha', a traditional Zulu vehicle.
We have modern harbours, but many use canoes dugout from logs.
While some enjoy bathing in the best of modern plumbing and luxury,
others have to resort to rivers. This is a hot spring in Swaziland,
next door to a luxury hotel and hot spring for wealthy visitors.
some live in huge modern cities, like Johannesburg,
while others live in tin shacks in sprawling Squatter settlements, like Duncan Village, which is in East london,
a stones throw from this magnificent building, which now houses an Art Gallery
and while huge homes house 1 or 2 people,
small mud and thatch huts can house huge families.
One thing many have in common is a desire to embelish their personal spaces, whether they are wonderful large mansions...
or humble mud huts.
It is truly a land of contrasts, and I love the vibrancy that this brings to life on this Continent. (But then I am, after all, a filthy Capitalist pig who exists in the 1st world sector, so I might be biased !!!)
And to end, a bonus picture, I love windmills (you may have noticed how often they have been cropping up in my latest paintings.) I enjoyed the extra one provided by the shadow in this picture!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

a little bit of this and that

Hi, sorry for being so scarce the last few days, work, renovations, preparing for art exhibitions, kids moving etc have sent blogging a bit low down the "how to fill my next 24 hours" scale. Even sleep has been pretty low down too!

So here is a bit of a mix, first, the progress on the small alteration to our house (which has generated a disproportionately large mess, I might add!) I first mentoned it here.
Our sitting room has been transformed, just by moving the doors outwards about a metre. they now open into the entrance space, instead of taking up half the room.
The new section of wall has also blocked a lot of the afternoon sun which used to pour in and make the room unbearably hot. This change, combined with the ceiling insulation I had installed last week, has made an incredible difference. We have had seriously hot weather in the last week, and for the first time since we lived here, the lounge has been bearable on a summer afternoon!
before, the doors were really in your face.
during..... the doors were moved back, but the room still needed to open out,
so we removed as much of the wall to the left of the opening as possible.
now.... the room is so much more comfortable. There are still a few finishing touches like skirting, ceiling, a board above the front door, but we are getting there!
looking down the passage towards the front door, we now have more privacy from the front.
From the outside, we tried to keep it very much in sympathy to the original style. When you drive past you have to look hard to notice the changes.
floods and fires....
No-one can accuse Port Elizabeth of being boring, like a woman with PMS she is subject to serious mood swings.... last August we experienced the worst floods in 20 years,
this is our neighbour's garden wall, which burst with the pressure of the floods. (sorry, terrible pic snapped on my cellphone)
here are some pictures taken of the Baakens river valley at the time....
here is the aftermath (taken this week after extensive repairs).
Then this week, after a terrible hot dry spell, the bushfires raged, on Friday our firefighters were dealing with 30 seperate fires. One of them, again in the same section of the Baakens Valley, was so bad that a townhouse complex was destroyed.
We got a view of it from the Fort on the hilltop overlooking the harbour, in the oldest part of town called "Central."
While we were there, we photographed a few of the lovely old buildings around the area.
today's pix (sorry, missed the last few days)
since I started this blog and saved as a draft yesterday, and it is now 2.30am on the following day, I might as well give you a couple of bonus daily photos. They are in keeping with the old building thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

hi, not much is new, except a HUGE thank you to Kathleen for all the great suggestions to help the Urban Cowboy project. I have passed them on. I will be able to post the link to their blog any day now.

Work and house alterations and preparations for a few art exhibitions are ensuring that life is way too crazy right now, and are seriously cutting into my blogging time, so hi all, when i get a minute i do hit and run visits, but no time to comment or reply, will catch up this weekend, i hope!

Daily pix for the past few days:
Something bizarre is happening with the word template i use to save my pix. Even when i alter the date, when i copy and paste into paint (which is how i get it into jpeg) it reverts to today's date. If anyone knows a less tedious way to do this, I am all ears!
so, the first thursday 25th was actually taken on Tuesday 23rd. The next one of Joshua was taken yesterday, and the cool Harley was taken today while i was at the building supply store. (i kept hoping the owner would not pitch up while i was all over the place taking photos of his bike, luckily he didn't.)

this was taken yesterday
and this one was on Tuesday. Princess comes in 2 mornings a week to help with the housework, because as you will have gathered by now, my housekeeping skills (well to be honest, it is more about motivation than skill) are minimal at best!

The changes to our house are moving along slowly, i'll post some pics when there is less chaos and more progress to report!