Monday, December 31, 2007

All sorts of things.........

Hi, well first up, I must tell you that this time 28 years ago I was seeing the New Year in from my hospital bed, having just given birth to a bouncing baby boy. He is still (and always will be) my little boy, even though he is now a hulking great bearded pilot, and also a partner to the delightful C and daddy to the adorable Amelia, AKA Miss Milly. His dad and I are very proud of him and love him and his family to bits! Happy Birthday #1.

Then on to something that also involves an anniversary of sorts....
At the beginning of this year, I started a series called "doo-doo-doo looking out my front door" ( with apologies to Creedence Clearwater Revival.) For the first few months I posted regularly, but then decided that it was probably getting boring and not showing the changes fast enough. So I stopped posting them but continued trying to take at least a photo a week for the rest of the year.
I have just put them together into a slide show, which will hopefully give an idea of a year passing by and the changes that took place. Not all the changes were seasonal, although you will see the maples to the right lose their leaves and regain them. One of the very old trees had to be felled, because it had died and a large branch was dangling dangerously. What doesn't show from the direction of our house is the steep angle the tree was leaning at, one more big storm would probably have uprooted it. The first photo is an older one, taken in 2003, to show how it looked before it died. During the year a big pile of soil was left in the park, and we wondered if we were getting some new trees, but it was used to fill some deep holes left by trees that had died in the past. The horrid cement flames on top of our gateposts were removed and the playground equipment was recently repainted and looks all new and fresh. You will also probably notice some changes in our garden, sadly I managed to kill of a couple of plants during the year, and the climbing rose sadly had to be removed when we did some alterations to the front patio. Pictures were often taken at sunrise or sunset, to try and give a sense of the shortening and lengthening days, and of course the varying weather conditions do show.
One thing about PE is our temperate mild climate, which makes it a superb place to live, but is not as interesting in this kind of sequence as a more extreme climate would be. We don't get spectacular fall colours or snow, and the strong winds which have given the city its nickname are hard to capture in stills, but anyway I hope you enjoy a year of our views across the park!

And finally, to everyone who has visited this blog, and all those who have become real friends over the past year and a half, I wish you and your loved ones a TRULY WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

How Christmas looked in our home........

I must confess, I was all set to be a real Grinch about Christmas this year. With Max's surgery closely followed by Grandpa's death, it has been a bit harrowing, and I was exhausted and not in the mood to rush around stressing to do decorations and fancy meals. But luckily, K talked me into making some effort, because of Ethan. And it was fun in the end!

(I have uploaded small pictures to save storage space, but they are clickable if you want to see details!)
K decorated the table with all sorts of bling, and little alyssum seedlings in tiny white flower pots at each place setting added a delightful touch. We even had tomato juice in champagne glasses, not because we particularly wanted to drink it (there was yummy fruit punch full of fresh strawberries for that!!) but because the colour looked so good on the table!

We spent the day before Christmas making all sorts of goodies, and then ate them cold for lunch on Christmas day, so that it was easy and flexible.

Because K is allergic to gluten and dairy, and Max and I are doing the whole "look after your heart" thing, we had to be quite creative about adapting traditional recipes, but in the end it turned out to be quite a colourful and delicious spread! Individual salmon pates, asparagus with ham, drizzled with mayonnaise and paprika, turkey and stuffing made from rice cakes and onion and garlic, with cranberry sauce, bean and tomato salad, and tomato aspic with ham....yum. This was followed by gluten free, dairy free trifle, which K made.

And miracle of miracles, I even managed to bake 2 Christmas cakes without burning them!! 1 gluten free, 1 normal but cholesterol free. I decorated them with yummy candied ginger and melon, and almonds, with a few silver balls to add some bling!

But of course, in the end, it was all about the little guy! The kids went to an early Church service, and then came round to us, with all his presents. We added a few finishing touches to the meal, then settled down to open his gifts before lunch. We had already agreed amongst ourselves that we would not be giving gifts to any adults, and had donated what we would have spent to a home for aids orphans which is run by a friend of K and J's

So a good time was had by all. Who knows, I might even allow myself to be talked into seeing the New Year in for a change!

ooops, I forgot Skywatch Friday!

So better late than never, here is an incredible cloud formation over the Park outside out front door, taken at dawn last week. It is a bit distorted, because I stitched several shots together to show the whole thing, but it was 180 degrees wide across the horizon, Like a giant puffy rainbow without the colours.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

We just returned from a trip to Knysna for Grandpa John's funeral, and with Christmas tomorrow, and my 89 year old VERY high maintenance father arriving for a visit this week, I doubt that I will be doing much blogging for the next 2-3 weeks. So I just want to wish all in blogland a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are, and a great New Year. Have a great holiday season, and I look forward to lots more fun, friendship, photos and great reading in blogland next year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Skywatch Friday # 10, Little Rays of Sunshine

No matter how dark the cloud, the sun will eventually break through!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

its all up in the air...........

It may come as a surprise to those of you who haven't been around this blog for long, but I am PASSIONATE about aeroplanes, so I thought it might be fun to share a slide show of some images taken at the airshow held in PE in 2006

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hoya Hoya

Maybe this should be Santa Claus' new greeting, since the PC brigade, in their latest piece of comic idiocy, have decreed that he can't say ho ho ho any more, as it may be offensive to women. What I find offensive is that any normal woman would even link that phrase with the slang for whore, and assume it referred to her!

Anyway, I am republishing a picture I posted last year, because since then I have learned a thing or two about resizing and all that. When I first published this it was too small and Blogger has since changed the codes, the old pix can't be enlarged manually in html the way I do these days.

Cheesy, this is for you, because you asked about the plant on Max's blog. In the comments on that original post, some interesting additional info was given....
Ali Honey from New Zealand said:
Your Hoya look great. Luckily you have them outside as I have found they drip very sticky nectar. I have a white one, which will flower shortly I did last year. I remember, from my childhood, my Nana having one which was strung right the length of a verandah.
Terry from Portland Oregon Said
The Hoyas are one of my favorite plants. They will not survive outside where I am, but make wonderful, hanging houseplants. When they bloom they perfume the whole house. Yes, they do drip sticky stuff, but it cleans up fairly easily. My grandmother had one that filled a corner of her dining room and climbed along the ceiling molding halfway round the room. Mine came from a cutting from that one. They live forever.
Shirley Goodwin from New Zealand said:
Hoyas are definitely indoor plants here in NZ. I love them.
Suzi K said:
silly me, and i thought that was dew on the flowers, interesting to see how widespread they are, just amongst this little group from across the world they have made their mark!

PS Header Update: another, less snotty Blogger Employee finally responded to the storm of protest on the help group this morning ... as follows:

OK, we hear you loud and clear! We're working on a fix to change header images that should appease those of you who want larger header images. We're sorry for any frustration and inconvenience the original change might have caused. But, we've listened to your feedback and are quickly acting to address the situation. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

header hassles - a new look whether we like it or not!

Fireworks in blogland!!!
Wow, I don't know how many of you have also experienced the frustration of dealing with Blogger's latest autocratic manoever to arbitrarily preset the header size, so that carefully and lovingly designed headers all over blogland suddenly became distorted and messed up. A real storm of protest has been unleashed.

I have spent so much time on the help group lately that I haven't had time to actually blog. The snarky attitude of the Blogger Employee who finally graced the group with a post this morning was also less than helpful. So if you are having a problem, let me know, and I can try to basically distil what I have found out from days of trawling threads in the help group, or at least direct you to useful threads. The setup I have now is still not 100% ideal, but it works until Blogger gets its act together!

Anyway, here are a few photos that i have been wanting to share over the last few days, but with all that has been going on, was not able to. Thanks to all for your care and concern, we are coping ok, the funeral is probably on Friday, so I guess till then we just go a day at a time.

Last week, the local Municipal Art Gallery opened a wonderful exhibition. As you might know from past posts, Karen and I are researching the history of Richmond Hill (when our crazy lives permit!!)

Well the Gallery has a wonderful permanent collection, dating right back to originals from the 1830s and up, which give a great idea of how the town developed. Of course K and I were like 2 kids in a candy store!

To give you an example, here is an original watercolour of the first house in Coopers Kloof, a steep valley with a stream running down to the sea. It is now Albany Road, and the building with the domed roof is the old fire station.

I have written quite a bit about South End and the way it was cleared out because of the Group Areas Act in the 60s and 70s.

This wonderful painting shows the way it was when it was still a happy and vibrant community. The Mosque is the only thing in this painting still standing.

Now that Mr Farty is getting back on his feet, we have been trying to make a point of getting out and about a bit to smell the roses, except that for us, roses are not so much of the floral variety. We adore this old area so much, so we have been getting out to photograph old buildings,

look for books at the lovely old Library,

and sit in restaurants enjoying the view of the sea.
Here is Max at Cafe Brazilia, gazing out over the harbour at this ore carrier being loaded.

Which reminds me that I indulged myself in a piece of art this week, if you have never followed the link on my sidebar to Cooper Dragonette, check out his work, he is one of the daily painters who posts a new painting more or less daily, and sells them on e-bay. I just couldn't resist one of his ships.... when you see the views we get around here, you can understand why they resonated with me!

Today we went to Fort Frederick, the oldest building in the City, which was put up in 1799 as a defense of the only safe anchorage on the South Eastern coast during the war against the French, and was garrisoned until 1862.

We also went to Donkin Reserve, where the lighthouse and pyramid that are icons of Port Elizabeth stand on the brow of the hill overlooking the bay.
And looking the other way, the monument is overlooked by the magnificent Edward Hotel.

And coming full circle, I will end with some shots of the fireworks display at the official Opening of the Season ceremony on Sunday night, which you can also see more of on our City Daily Photo blog and also on Max's blog.

Monday, December 17, 2007

John Ogilvie, 30th October 1927 to 17th December 2007

You may remember that a few weeks ago we went to Knysna to celebrate Grandpa John's 80th Birthday. He was not well then, and since then has really been struggling. This morning he died peacefully, with his wife and son at his side.

The thing we will always think about, when we remember John, is the way he took us as his family the minute he married Max's mom. There was never any question of his kids and her kids, we were all just their kids. He was a true Patriarch, the father figure in the family. The one we all turned to at one time or another for help, advice, wisdom, or just a shoulder to cry on. Just last month, as Max was fighting for his life, and I was having a bit of a meltdown while waiting for news from the hospital, it was John I turned to for comfort and strength.

He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather (and even great grandfather) and also a true and loyal friend. His generosity is the stuff legends are made of, not only in actual material terms, but in the way he gave of himself, his time, his skills. Even though it was a real mission for him, he kept a motor boat for years, because he knew it was special to the grandchildren to go out on the lagoon in it. As a grandfather, he was a treasure. He was endlessly patient, teaching them (and often us too) life skills, manners, investment principles, and just good old integrity and decency. With him, it was not about telling people how they should be, but it was about him modelling it in how he was, and leading by example.

His humour and calmness were such a part of who he was. For us, the trip we did in his Kombi to Namibia, with him and Max's mom, a few years ago is a memory we will always treasure. After Max's mom died in 2004, he was very lonely, and had been told by doctors that his heart was in failure, and that he could have no further bypasses. From a medical point of view, he was basically living on borrowed time. He fell in love with Yvonne, and we are grateful to her for the love she brought into John’s life at a time when he was so sad. It took a lot of courage for her, knowing his health status, to still agree to marry him and make the best of the time that was left to him. We really believe that the love they had for each other gave him a new lease on life, and meant that we all had the joy and privilege of having him around a bit longer.

Some people pass through life and leave barely a ripple. When one looks at the positive effect that John had on so many lives, and the rich memories we have of him, John really made his mark.

Bye grandpa John, you will be deeply missed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Skywatch Friday #9 Eye in the sky

Ever look at the sky and feel like someone is watching you? No? oh well, let me go and get my paranoia pills.........

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Old Friends

You know the kind of friendship that seems to go on for years, the kind of comfortable, mellow friendship that makes no demands, but at the same time is mutually supportive and uplifting? The kind of friendship where you know each other so well, it feels like putting on a pair of comfortable favourite old slippers when you get together to catch up.....

Well I am lucky enough to have a few of those, and they are wonderful.

Two of my oldest friends are Fran and Corrie. We have known each other for 22 years, since our kids were little. Because we all lead fairly hectic lives, we haven't always been able to get together as often as we would have liked, and so we slipped into a routine of always making sure the 3 of us met for tea or lunch on each of our birthdays. That way we could be sure to catch up with each other at least 3 times a year.
It has been amusing getting together over such a long period of time, and seeing the changes.... the first time one of us arrived wearing glasses, followed by the other two shortly after that... the progression of hairstyles and colours ( fighting the grey) the ups and downs of each others lives, weight!!, health issues, work, kids, parents.... seeing how over the years, so many things change, but other things just stay the same.
Sometimes months go by and we don't make contact, yet any one of us who is having a crisis knows that the others would be there in a heartbeat if we needed them.
Several years ago, Corrie re-married and moved, first to Pretoria, and then to London. Fran and I really miss her. But we decided to continue the tradition, and we still try and meet for all 3 birthdays, although lately it has been less regular that it should be.

Anyway, Fran and I got together this morning, and had breakfast to celebrate both her birthday and mine, both of which took place in the last few weeks. It was great to catch up.... spare a thought for Corrie, share belated gifts, and marvel once again at how blessed we are to have such special friendships..... Cheers girls, here's to many more!
This is where we went, Rockafe on the beachfront.....

And here is the view from our table....
So... good friend, lovely gifts, good meal, great view... life is good!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Summer Smiles

Long Summer Days, sun up at 4.30am, sets around 8pm, and in between we experience a whole range of conditions, today it was cold, followed by howling gale force winds, then it got hot and humid, now it is just perfect.

But summer is the time for outdoor living, for resting on a park bench and enjoying the breeze, or having a family meal under the dappled shade on the patio. It is years since I have had the freedom to enjoy it.

For as long as I can remember, this has been the time of the year when things at work were going crazy, the final frantic rush to get Interior Design jobs completed by Christmas, suppliers running out of fabrics, deliveries delayed, builders passing deadlines, and having to pull all the loose ends together while keeping ranting clients happy..... this year is different. And I am LOVING it!!

I can't imagine what it would have been like trying to cope with Max's heart attack or surgery, and look after him as he recovers, if I was still running the business. This year, I am free to spend as much time as we need to deal with all this, and still paint in between. And because rest is a big part of the process, we are both able to recharge our batteries in these great surroundings. ..... (((((happy sigh))))))

Friday, December 07, 2007

Skywatch Friday #8 ... Twice as Nice

A series of photos taken from my archives, where the sky is interesting, and because it is mirrored in water, you get to enjoy it twice!

The Quinera River at Bonza Bay in East London. My folks lived on the bank of the river, near the mouth, and from the top floor of their duplex, you could get wonderful views of the sunrise and sunset over the water, and also the sandbar across the mouth of the river, and the waves pounding beyond. Even the rainbow on a clear day was duplicated!

My favourite beach, at Cape Saint Francis, sweeps around the bay, and at spring tide, waves would wash right up it, and fill the hollows, causing logoons that lasted for several days before soaking away. At these times, the sunrise reflected in the still water made it worth rising early for a stroll in the dark, to capture the rising sun.

And finally, excuse the poor quality of the scan, my old scanner used to leave stripes on everything, but I couldn't resist adding this one of Luderitz in Namibia. I am totally in love with the place! In fact, I MUST remember to give you a tour of Namibia sometime, it is one of the most stunning and fascinating places on the planet. If, like me, your chief interests happen to be Geology and Photography, with a passion for deserts thrown in, you will also think you have died and gone to heaven!