Thursday, 21 September 2017

Opposite of Vertigo

"Whoa what just happened!" screamed my mind as I put on my new glasses this morning. Looking straight ahead I was fine but when I was walking in the mall back to my car from the optometrist, it looked like I had no legs.


Looking down, the floor looked so much closer that I felt like I was just a ball with feet sticking out. Oh like those Mr Men characters. It felt like vertigo but without the height issue as I felt that I was right down low on the ground that I could just reach out and touch the floor. "What happened to my height?"


The opposite of vertigo is stability and I didn’t feel like I was stable but I was not dizzy or spinning either. The closest I could come to this feeling is from way back in my youth, after drinking too much and while lying in bed, you would put a foot on the floor to stop the room from spinning. Yeah my feet were firmly on the ground but I was way too close to the floor.

"Welcome to the little people’s world, Jerome!"

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The First Cut

HELP IT BLEEDS!


Yes my trees are bleeding as the first cut goes the deepest. I am not fond of cutting down trees especially the indigenous ones but these 2 majestic trees have outlived their usefulness and have become very programmatic and no other solution could be found other than cutting.



I am not 100% sure what these large trees are but the one at the back when you crush the leaves it smells like eucalyptus, so it must be an aussie. The one in the front is our main problem child, the Sycamore Fig tree or Ficus Sycomorus. It is not indigenous to the Highveld region here were I am but can be found all over Africa and the Middle East.



It is the sycamore that is of biblical proportions that is bleeding red blood like sap as we sadly cut her down. The seeds were giving our neighbour’s swimming pool pump a hard time and you should see the state of our driveway and walls. The sycamore was in the forefront of the taking back of nature. I can imagine little Zacchaeus wanting to climb up into the branches of the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see but the sycamore tree was no more.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Can you see it?


Can you see the bird hidden among the rocky ground? Clue: It is slap in the middle of the photo. The Spotted Dikkop or Thick-knee is well camouflaged in the rocky Protea Forest veldt outside my home. There is a breeding pair not far into the trees and I am trying to keep my cats away from the area but I am sure these ground birds will be able to take care of a cat as I once have seen their cousins, the Water Dikkops dive bomb my Italian Greyhounds when they came too near their nest, not to the dogs delight. Okay here are some close-ups of the Dikkop.


These are quite clever little birds, as they tend to try lead you away from their nest, which is usually just a shallow scrape in the sand and their eggs look like tiny pebbles. They are the perfect first line of my perimeter defence of my home as if anything moves in the veldt at night, you hear this shrill ti-ti-ti-ti-tee-tee-teee-teeee. Below is an easier can you spot the pair of spotted dikkops?


Monday, 18 September 2017

Tree Nuisance


I love my garden, full of trees and indigenous plants, that attract caterpillars and butterflies but some are starting to misbehave. I have already cut one down a week ago for blocking up the sewer line and it has always been in the back of my mind that these 2 monster trees in the front yard need to be sorted out. In a sense I am glad that they not indigenous to the area although big trees are awesome.


The neighbours have complained and offered to help remove them, but huge trees are expensive to cut down and I have no budget. Oh well no more procrastinating as these old buggers are damaging the property and become a nuisance.


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Inreach


We have been looking for a church that is in between Robynne’s home and ours. In the past we have been going to Bryanston but since we moved out this way towards the end of last year, we have been finding it difficult to attend BBC.

A few weeks back, visiting Frank, an old BBC Men’s Group member, he told me that he is going to the Centre Church in Northriding. Not quite in between Robynne and our home but not far from Robynne’s at all and it ticked all the right boxes so why not give it a try.

So last week we went to the Centre Church, it is a small church with non-pretentious people and since we are flawed, and we just fitted right in. So we went again this Sunday for their series called inreach. Reaching inside, God is changing me. I am broken, at the bottom but somehow I know that God is a God of restitution and I humble myself before my God.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Proteadal Conservation Association


We live along the Greater Roodekrans Ridge System which is a ridge that runs from Northcliff all the way through to Krugersdorp. The Northcliff area is fully developed and what is left is a few isolated ridges fighting for survival. The section from Clearwater to Kings Kloof is about the last section still standing against developers and it seems a losing battle.

Our little kloof which is the deepest gorge in Gauteng is just a small part of this ridge system and I have joined the Proteadal Conservation Association in their fight to save this ridge system. Yes the fight is bigger than just our kloof and the cutting down of the protea trees because there are 3,000 high density housing proposed to be built on the ridge right slap bang in the middle of a very biological sensitive area. Watch this video below which is part in Afrikaans but luckily has English subtext for people like me who Afrikaans is not their first language. The video is about 2 years old, but the fight is still on. It is worth watching, believe me. Currently the Pinehaven Estate built below this ridge in Mogale City is struggling with sewerage issues which the local government can’t seem to solve.


Watched the video? I know that it is a long video but it is worth it.

So now you see the problem? From the Albertina Sisula orchids and the Black Eagles just to name a few.

Okay so we have the last few Albertina Sisula Orchids left in the world which are listed as Critically Endangered right in the path of the developers and still with the blessing of local government, the developers want to go ahead. Belinda, Tony, and Andrew (shown above), representatives of the Proteadal Conservation Association are doing their best in an attempt to stop the developers and local government but we need your help.

I have been asked numerous times how can I help?
  1. Firstly join the Proteadal Conservation Association, it is FREE. Website Facebook
  2.  Secondly is to raise awareness of the problem at hand. Share with your friends.
  3.  And thirdly speak to your local government representative. Ask if they are aware of this and what are they doing to stop the development going ahead. If they don’t have answers or try to stall, then you need to make it known to them that either they personally do something or your vote is going elsewhere. They are your public representatives. 
This is the voice of our environment.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Protea Regrowth


In the dry winter months in Africa, fire is inevitable and the vegetation has adapted to the dry weather conditions and of course fire. And the Protea trees are no exception as they need the fire every year or two to burn off all the dead, feed the soil, and help the regrowth of the new buds.

It is amazing to see the transformation, the rains are not here yet but the Protea tress are already starting to sprout with green life.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Popeye Spinach


What to make for supper? Lynda’s car went in for a service and I had to pick it up afterwards and collect her at work. Since I had to sit in rush hour traffic like the other 8 to 5 workers out there, we arrived home late and no supper had been planned.

Oh well just throw some pasta on the boil, go into the garden and harvest some spinach, cook some bacon and some spicy sausage. Mix it all together with some white sauce and what I simple yummy supper, Popeye the Sailor man.

I yam what I yam!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Granny Selfie


This afternoon while I was busy training Marilyn on how to use the CMS that I had installed for her Art & Décor website, Granny Nora came over to see how I was doing and I thought perfect, how about a selfie of granny and I.

Granny Nora is 91 years young now and is still trying to be active but after 2 falls already, it is not easy for granny who is still so young at heart.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Donald Trump


Poor Paddington, our kitten, who is only 10 months old, yet has grown to be our biggest cat and the bully in our home. Forget Georgie Porgie chasing the girls, Paddy is the skirt chaser here, out late at night and coming and going as he pleases. I sometimes wonder if he is not be fit to be called even a cat, as he is often out running with the big dogs.

Maybe we should have called this ginger cat Donald, after the United State’s President, Donald Trump, because POTUS has nearly an identical character as this kitten who thinks he is a dog. Funny as I type up this post, Paddy has passed out on my desk between me and the keyboard, half on his back with his noise buried deep in my armpit, eyes rolled back and somewhere in dream world. Yip I smelt, it doesn’t stink before you jump to conclusions, as I just had a shower.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Mamlambo Strikes Again


Death seems always close here. Saturday week, a much loved community member was tragically gunned down. And now this...

We received news that one of the religious pilgrims lost his life by the waterfall below us on Sunday. The cause of death still has to be identified but according to the police the probable cause is that he fell to his death negotiating the palisade fencing by the falls. This is not cool. Maybe that fence by Manie Mulder waterfall needs to be moved or the gate left open as it looks like the Mamlambo who is believed to be living in the plunge pool at the base of the falls, claimed another victim. I myself have skirted that fence due to the gate being locked. It is a small ledge and you have to hold on. Now if the pilgrim had stuff in his hands he could easily have fallen.

Speaking to one of the pilgrims about what could have happened, she said yes the snake, what she called the Mamlambo, pulled the person in using her poison breath. She went on to tell me that the Mamlambo can take many forms, a snake, a person, a stick or even silver coins. She told me a firsthand account of her seeing the Mamlambo. Her mother, brother and her, went to visit the graveside of her father, while crossing a river very similar to this stream in the kloof, she saw some movement in the water. She looked and saw a woman lying in the water on her back with her hair flowing in the water. It wore clothes that she described as snow and she could see the shape of her body though the water. She tagged her brother to see if he could see this woman. He looked sideways, got such a fright and ran. While running he was bitten by a small brown snake. All their feet felt heavy and sore afterwards. The family never returned to the area and a look of sadness passed over her face as she said that her mother joined her father in 2014. She ended the conversation with the words that this snake is very strong here. Sadly a lot of unfortunate accidents, 13 to date in the last 4 years have occurred down in the kloof all attributed to the Mamlambo in the eyes of the pilgrims.

My problem is not with the daily pilgrims coming for the holy water or bathing in the stream naked but my problem is with the pilgrims who camp over night. They are the ones who come up into the veldt above the kloof to cut down the Protea trees to use in their spiritual cleansing. I am not happy about the Protea forest being decimated at an alarming rate. I spend quite a bit of my time when I am down in the kloof talking to the pilgrims and explaining that cutting down the Protea trees is not good. Maybe I should tell them that these Protea trees belong to the Mamlambo, and she is not happy camper about her children being cut down.

There are a large number of trees in my garden, sadly none Proteas but my garden does overlooks the Protea forested veldt. Now one of the trees in my garden is giving the sewer line a hard time coping with the waste and the roots at the same time. Sadly I had to put this tree down today. I got the tree fellers to neatly pile the wood in the veldt to dry out so that the pilgrims could use this alternate wood to the Proteas so that this tree’s life would not be wasted.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Draught Horses


It is not often you see Draught Horses in South Africa as Boerperd, which I used in the army, Thoroughbred, and Arabian, are way more common. And today we saw 3 pulling a cart on the way to church.

I was lovely to see these mighty beasts clip clopping down the road and the best part is that they seem well cared for. Normally you would see a horse and cart in Soweto, Karoo, and on the Cape Flats but never in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg where the luxury sedans and 4x4 rule.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Lizzie


Our house is getting a bit much to keep on top of things. Trees are taking over with our driveway full of natural speed bumps due to the roots pushing up the paving. The roots are also blocking the sewerage line and are in need of constant attention. Then it is trying to keep the house neat and tidy with juggling with going to work.

So enter Lizzie, as we need the help. Lizzie works elsewhere during the week and today she came over to help Lynda start the big spring clean. When the ladies start cleaning, well I better get out of the way.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Not looking Good

About a month back while dog proofing one of the side gates in the garden, I dropped my glasses and they cracked. I have been putting getting them replaced for a while now until yesterday.


Yesterday afternoon, during a computer break I sat on the couch in the games room and must have fallen asleep. I awoke about an hour later, made some coffee and went straight back to work not realising that I had fallen asleep with my glasses on and they had come off.

When I use the computer I don’t wear glasses as I am short sighted and my glasses are made for TV, driving, and looking at anything further away, so I never missed them until I walked pass the couch and saw them lying on the floor. Excuse the pun but they weren’t looking so good.


So today it was off to the optometrist to order a new pair of glasses but first she wanted to test my eyes, as if I am not good looking enough already. Anyways here is the lens correction reading from the phoroter to show that I am not that bad as a far sighted person goes, that is if you can read the phoroter.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Community in Prayer


Tonight the community gathered outside Duncan’s shop where he was tragically murdered in a robbery and for Sabelo, an young off duty security guard who was executed while sitting in his patrol car during the robbers getaway. Our community of Roodekrans, Wilropark, and Helderkruin reeled at this senseless barbaric act. We had a very packed Community Watch meeting earlier this week at a local church, where we all gathered seeking answers.

This afternoon the body of Duncan was laid to rest while Sabelo funeral will happen this weekend. Tonight as a way forward our community held a candlelight vigil and prayer. Our neighbouring communities and their police forums, councillors, and all the security companies in the area, all joined us this evening in a stance of solidarity.


Our community stands together.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Crepuscular


Wakey wakey cats, rise and shine, you’ve been sleeping all day and the sun is about to set. Yes I know you sleepy heads are crepuscular. There you go readers, a new word for the day, crepuscular.


Cats are crepuscular, not creepy as in vampires and others things that go bonk in the night but crepuscular means that they, the cats not vampires, are mostly active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. Oh did I just say vampires and twilight in the same sentence, oops sorry my bad.


Cats tend to lay low in darker night time and day time hours, when other predators may be hanging about. Well someone forgot to tell that to my cats who stay out late at night which is a worry as there are owls about at that time. During the day they tend sleep nearly all day only to wake when the suns starts to set.


Now did you just wake me for this?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Berede


Wow, now this brings back memories from my army days many moons ago as I was in the Berede, which is Afrikaans for a mounted unit to which I belonged. Yip, we were the ones that still rode horses into war; thankfully it was a low scale bush war and I only did 2 years conscription.

Since the senseless murders a few days back, the South African Police services have brought out everything to show the neighbourhood solidarity even if it means doing mounted patrols in the suburbs. Anyways they are a most welcome sight in our neighbourhood.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Hurting Hard


Our neighbourhood is reeling after the shock murder of a local shopkeeper, the execution of a security guard and critically wounding another. First of all I would extend my deepest condolences to the families of Duncan and Sabelo. This heinous crime was totally uncalled for and should never have happened, not in our suburb, not on our watch.

Secondly, I want to bring up Social Media, the industry in which I work in. Social media can be good and bad, more good than bad, but this bombshell on our community sent shockwaves through and highlighted the particular social media problem of sharing before even the families concerned came aware. Also which was brought to our attention, is the possibility of the chain of evidence that can be broken by showing photos and videos online in the public. Trust the lawyers to find loopholes everywhere and how justice would not be served.

It is times like this, that I wish for some sort of dark avenger, a Batman of our very own, to track down these animals and give them what they justly deserve.

What they deserve? Uhmm how does the Christian part of me react to that? It is oh so easy to say we must forgive, but try wearing the shoes of the wife who has just lost a husband. A child who has just lost a daddy. Where do we even start to try process what has happened? And who do we lay the blame at?

We had a very full and vocal neighbourhood watch meeting this evening. People wanted answers. People wanted to know what to do and is it is going to be alright? Nick summed it up perfectly in his Inflamed Radio although his solution might not be for everybody, it is a way forward.


Eish so Nick describes me as one of those middle class white people desperately looking for answers. Oh and the shoes incident mentioned early on, well that was my neighbour and this is where I disagree with Nick. Yes we must be careful not to live in a bubble and not be aware. Help those around us but we should also be tolerant and be vigilant to problems around us. The shoes on the fibre cables normally means that there is a drug runner nearby and to have the shoes appearing suddenly after a neighbour’s party raises concerns. It could be a kid but we shouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and say that it doesn’t concern us because it does.

So to borrow from Batman, the city needs a hero and not the hero we deserve. So which hero is it going to be, a Dark Knight or as Nick suggests, Jesus?

A strong community is one that sticks together, no matter what religion we believe in, through thick and thin, and now is the time when things are hurting hard that we must stand together as one.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Mamlambo


Remember I wrote before about naked men in our river and that over the last few years 12 naked bodies have been fished out of the stream that flows in the kloof below my home. Well today we dive in deeper which reminds me, that I still want to write an article about the different religious groups that congregate here at the holy waters, and today I start with the Medicine Man.

This morning Andreas, Suzanne, Lynda, and myself, went down into the kloof to check on the state of the stream and good news, the air was clean and fresh with no more sewerage odour hanging in the air. Only problem, is that there is still a lot to do as there is plenty of litter still down there which are being left behind by the religious groups. Andreas explained to me that the solution might be with bringing in school project trips down into the kloof to help clean up.


I enjoy going down the kloof, talking to the various religious groups represented down there, learning about the different practices that are being performed at this most holy site. And sometimes, yes sometimes coming across a naked man bathing in public is not a pleasant sight and something you simply can't unsee in a hurry but this time I got a talking to Hubert, the slave name of the traditional medicine man shown above, who hurriedly got dressed as not to offend me and the other hikers after his naked dip into the holy waters. I used to call this water, the holy sewerage due to the high sewerage content in the water and even though the water looked crystal clear and very cold now, I wasn’t 100% sure it was safe to bathe in let alone drink even though to the pilgrims this water is holy.

In my conversation with Hubert, we broached the subject of the 12 naked bodies that were found over the years drowned in about a foot of stream water. He then went on to explain to me the story of the Mamlambo, the spiritual water snake or mermaid that lives in the water especially by the waterfall where most of the bodies have been found. At first it was hard to believe that a large water snake the size of a large African Python or even a mermaid living in the pool below the waterfall. I know that with my Christian upbringing that the spiritual world actually exists and is very dangerous to meddle in but I wanted to know why Hubert still wanted to bathe in this water knowing that there is this Mamlambo killing people. Hubert's faith in the traditional African ways mixed with Christianity is strong even though I don't believe that the 2 can be mixed, it is either 1 or the other.


While Hubert explained, a man on the other side of the stream started cracking a whip as if to chase away demons. At first I thought it was some sort of self flagellation but noticed that he was whipping the air. Hubert went on to clarify that if you go into the water and you are not right inside, that is when the Mamlambo comes and claims you, eish yet you still go into the waters, and he smiled.

Most of the pilgrims are here for the holy water. One person who I met about 2 weeks ago down here and again today, calls himself a prophet, he comes here, prays a lot and afterwards he collects the holy water in large 2l and 5l containers which he takes back home. He then bottles the holy water into smaller containers which he then sells for R80 a bottle. Uhmmm, I wonder, is there a market for this holy water? Are there any medicinal properties or is it a placebo? I need to collect some testimonials from these pilgrims and also get the water tested, sounds like a plan but I don’t want to offend the Mamlambo, if she exists.


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Down Time


This weekend has been allocated as Matthew’s Down Time, one of the last free weekends were he can relax and chill before the Prelims and Finals exams start. Oh there is his birthday party in a few weeks time which is slotted in between Prelims and Finals, the rest of the time will devoted to study, study, and more study.

Oh and what do you think of Matthew’s latest hair style? He loves this style which is between a cow’s lick and a Johnny Bravo.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ugly Duckling


For the last 2 weeks, the sewer has been overflowing on and off into Wilgerood Road opposite the Kloofendal Nature Reserve’s entrance. This raw sewerage then flowed into the storm water drains and into the stream that flowed down into the Little Falls Nature Reserve and through Muldersdrift before finally joining the Crocodile River.


The poor Crocodile River must be so polluted by now, with our sewerage leak down in the Witpoortjie Kloof that was finally sorted out in the beginning of this month. Then it is also the raw sewerage that is coming out of Pinehaven Estate, Mogale City. And now this!



Raw sewerage has being flowing into the Little Falls stream, on and off for the last 2 weeks. After numerous escalations to the Joburg Water and Sanitation, it was reported today that the problem was finally fixed, so I decided to go check for myself. And yes the sewer has stopped overflowing but for how long. Walking around the area of Kloofendal and Little Falls Nature Reserve I think I was more shocked to find that the area between the Kloofendal Nature Reserve’s main gate and the sewer leak has become a dumping ground for garden refuse, rubbish, and building materials. Eish!



I decided to make this polluted stream in Kloofendal my topic for today and to show were this stream flows into I decided to go to the other side of the Little Falls Nature Reserve, and show a photo of the waterfall that this raw sewerage is flowing over. Now that is when I discovered the Ugly Duckling, the Little Falls Resort.


Why call the Little Falls Resort, the ugly duckling, well compared to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens with it’s bigger waterfall, the Little Falls is well just like the ugly duckling, all runned down and just a mess even the road up to the gate was shocking. Speaking with City of Johannesburg’s Sports and Recreation Department staff who look after the resort, they said that they have plans in place along with the little Falls Community to fix up the place, but with only 1 grounds man that seems nearly an impossible task.


They too have the same problems that we do here at the Witpoortjie Kloof, the church people coming for the holy sewerage, sleeping over night in the veldt, litter, snares, and the naked demon exorcisms but with this one luckily they have had no naked bodies being washed up compared with the 12 fatalities so far that we have had due to the exorcisms. They even pointed out the cliff face were 2 months ago they had a sewerage waterfall, double eish! The main pool was sparkling but up towards the waterfall was this mosquito cesspool.


The Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, has just launched the AreSebetsebeng initiative which aims to do a monthly volunteer clean up the city. This needs to extend to the West Rand Ridge System which includes the Little Falls Resort and the Krans Alwyn Nature Trail which goes through the Witpoortjie Kloof. I believe the cleanup days are the last Saturdays of every month with the next one on the 30 September.


Would you believe it, that the City of Johannesburg has just won the award for the cleanest city in South Africa, really? Where did they hide this ugly duckling from the judges? The factors considered in the Greenest Municipality Competition included waste management; energy efficiency and conservation; water management; landscaping; and tree planting & beautification. So obvious they must have left out the West Rand.


But this is not just the City of Joburg's problem, this is our problem too, as stakeholders, we need to join the mayor and clean up our city, our neighbourhoods, and the especially the West Rand Ridge System; then maybe, just maybe this ugly duckling called Little Falls can become the beautiful swan it was meant to be.


This last photo shows the remains of the raw sewerage waterfall that poured down the cliffs into the Little Falls Resort, the sewerage was then carried by the stream into the already polluted Crocodile River.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Fire Lily


It is the last day of autumn and tomorrow it will be officially spring. Being at home the whole day today I decided to make today’s post about my garden which is looking dry and shrivelled up after winter.

In the front of my garden I found some lilies which look like the Lilium bulbiferum. Really, I hope it is not as this plant which is also commonly known as the fire or tiger lily is extremely toxic to cats. And we have cats. Eish, not good, not good at all.

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