Saturday, 31 December 2011

Cool Bear

Our trip down to Mapumalanga wasn't without incident. Oh we had a safe trip but all around us chaos reigned. Half way down the heavens opened up and it was monsoon type rain all the way to Nelspruit. By monsoon I mean even the roads were flooded so much so that I feared we would be stranded because my car does not like water but we slowly inched our way to our destination while other cars pirouetted all around us. Yes Matthew and I had to witness a red BMW coupe aquaplane and started spinning spraying water in this slow motion spin pass us that is only seen in movies. Later sparks flew as a powerline was hit by lightning just to the left of us. We saw the sparks erupt then a blinding flash followed by the bang.

But the deluge only let up just before Nelspruit. It was like we had our guardian angel alongside us all the way. So now we are sitting safely in the comfort of our accommodation in Nelspruit while as the last few minutes of 2011 tick by I wondered what to call this blog post. Then it came to me. My sister, who lives in Nelspruit, met us in their car which is a GWM Coolbear. I mean who names a car model Cool Bear? The Chinese obviously. Hence I have decided to name our guardian angel Cool Bear and this blog post. Hey dude or is that dudette, I hope Cool Bear is kwel with you, and again thanks.

For 2012, I pray that it will be an awesome year for all my readers and of course for myself.

Friday, 30 December 2011


Wow, after a hectic fast pace start of the summer holidays, today is where the rubber meets the road, well just about. Matthew and I got stuck into my small cottage and did a top to bottom spring clean. I am not sure we could call it a spring clean but our sort of old year cleaning which marks the start of the Hogmanay. So before the Auld Lang Syne can be sung full cleaning needs to be done so we can fling open the doors and windows to let in the fresh clean air of the New Year. Like out with the old and in with the new.

So before we leave on our holiday away from home holiday, we prepared our vehicle for the trip, washed all the linen and bedding, moved all the furniture out of the cottage, vacuumed then mopped the floors. We rested while the floors dried; me on the patio and Matthew in front of the TV. Then we brought all the furniture back in. I must say the dogs behaved themselves and stayed well clear.

By afternoon we were pooped. Matthew retired to the computer while I retired to the patio. Too many goodbyes have been said this year, too many. Sigh. Tomorrow we say the last goodbye in 2011 and this will be to 2011 itself.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp and surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes, and pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn, frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd sin auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere and gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Chi mi a-rithist thu

Gone is the past, let us start a new
Let this hope of peace, always remain
Spirit of Scotia, be strong and true
Then your children will smile again.

And the lone piper piped Highland Cathedral as we bowed our heads one last time in a small chapel in Benmore, Johannesburg, to the memory of Jon Hrusa. The Highland Cathedral is one the most popular bagpipe melodies, it is played before all Scottish international rugby matches, a favourite at many weddings and is proposed to be the new Scottish national anthem. But what I liked about today’s lone piper playing the Highland Cathedral and not the traditional Flowers of the Forest was that this piece was piped when they lowered the Union Jack for the last time over Hong Kong. And now it was piped at the memorial of Jon Hrusa for the last time. They say that the sound of bagpipes could reach across to the great divide and that our departed loved ones can hear them. They say...

Lonely the exile, o'er distant seas,
The home of their birth, gone from their eyes.
Bring back their souls o'er the ocean breeze
To the land where their fathers lie.

And as I heard the words of Heather, trying to hold it together, as she paid tribute to Jon, what stood out in my mind was Jon among these mass of kids, surrounding him while he was snapping away and then the children went back to what they were doing before "Smiling, crying and spreading porridge on each other". Sometimes...

Sometimes, when I... and the pipes played on.
Goodbye Jon, chi mi a-rithist thu.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

African Summer Sunsets

Africa can have these awesome sunsets and that includes Johannesburg. This evening is no different with its clouds which were the remains of a week of rain storms, now painted with the final rays of the sun. It is so beautiful and as I sit on my patio contemplating the year, my thoughts dwell on the Joburg Photowalkers which have become a big part of my photographic life. Good memories especially of Heather and of the late Jon Hrusa as Jon loved photographing clouds and tomorrow we say our final goodbye to him.

With only three days left of this year to go, 2011 is just about done. One formality left tomorrow of saying goodbye, then a last ditch attempt of spring cleaning before welcoming in the new 2012. These clouds give a good omen of only better things to come.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Serrated Hinged Terrapin

Now this will teach me not to forget my camera wherever I go. It rain heavy last night especially in the early hours of this morning. About 7o'clock the rain let up and remembering that there was going to be a dog walk at the bottom of my garden I jumped out of bed, washed, grabbed my raincoat and off I set with my three Italian Greyhounds bouncing with excitement. Only Sam turned up and the others remained snugly tucked in bed. 

There was large swathes of water logged areas and my three Italian Greyhounds and Sam's Whippet and one Italian just loved running full speed through the shallow patches looking like speed boats with their spray of water behind them. In the deeper areas that we waded through the dogs clearly showed us their displeasure. 

Well in one spot far from the seven dams at the bottom of my garden, we found this Serrated Terrapin stuck in this trench that had been dug for a storm water drain across a field. The only course of action was to return it to the safety of one of the dams, so I picked it up. The terrapin proceeded to use its long craws on me and I had to use my raincoat as protection from the craws. The terrapin finding that clawing me didn't help decided to relieve itself but luckily I was holding it away from my body. Not realizing that I was trying to help it and that clawing nor weeing didn't help it escape my hold, it then played dead. The terrapin miraculously came alive when I placed it in the shallow waters of the 2nd dam and it swam for freedom. 

Now why didn't I have my camera with me or even my cellphone. Thankfully Sam had her Blackberry from which she snapped this pic of me rescuing the Serrated Hinged Terrapin. They say the best camera to have is the one you have with you.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Sterkfontein Caves

No before you ask I do believe that we humans are made in God's image as the bible states it but also believe God made all the other humanoids. I must also say that I find the Aquatic Ape Theory interesting as it others an alternative hypothesis that we were already different from the apes when our ancestors moved onto the savannah. You can see Elaine Morgan's spirited defense of the Aquatic Ape Theory on Ted. It makes more sense than Darwinism but then as usual God gets in the way. I suppose we can never explain God nor fathom His ways.

I truly believe that the links between the species is not a family tree but proof of a common Creator. For example a manufacturer of motor vehicles will use common ideas in different vehicle lines. The manufacturer will make motorbikes, hatchbacks, sedans, sports cars, multi-purpose vehicles, all terrain vehicles and even trucks. All different but yet all interlinked through the common manufacturer. Yes I do understand it is a bit simplistic but that is what I believe and anyway when I finally meet the Creator I'll find out the truth and who cares if I am wrong then, I will just be so happy where I am.

So why am I writing about my take on evolution, well today Matthew and I went and visited the Sterkfontein Caves where a number of significant humanoid discoveries have been found which has led to the region to be called the Cradle of Humankind. The tour guide welcomed us home as if he believes we came from the apes, ha ha. Anyway the caves which are part of a number of limestone caves in the region were never inhabited as it was impossible to get in or out other than falling in which has led to the humanoid discoveries. In the gold rush history of Johannesburg, limestone was mined for the processing of the gold and sadly places like the Sterkfontein and Wonder caves were not left in pristine condition. But that was the past, now I must say that a lot of effort has put in making the Sterkfontein Caves a true world heritage site that it is. It is worth the visit even if you think you come from an ape and I don't. Go figure.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Bah Humbug

Fur trees or better known as Christmas trees have only sneaked into the Christian tradition round about 12th century in Prussia although stories have been around that it was used earlier but only as a teaching method explaining the Trinity. They were known as God's tree due to their shape as opposed to the oak tree which had deep pagan connections. During the Georgian era (18th Century) Christmas trees started appearing in English homes because of the Georgian kings Germanic ties and the influences of German merchants. The tradition nearly died in English custom with the death of Queen Victoria but a revival of Dickensian nostalgia in the 20th century made the Christmas tree popular again. Well expect for a little hick up of the Second World War when it was forbidden to cut down the trees. Now we find Christmas Trees everywhere even when Fir Trees don't grow naturally in Africa we have these artificial ones.

So why is my title of this post Bah Humbug? No I don’t think that Christmas is a hoax, not at all but this is my first year that I could ever remember that there wasn't a Christmas tree in my house. Not that I have done away with Christmas traditions but Christmas is more than this. Anyway my large Christmas tree is sitting storage. Firstly there is no space in my small cottage for such a large tree and secondly I have no one to enjoy the tree with me. I was thinking of erecting the tree on my patio but my dogs might want to mark their territory on this new tree that would have suddenly sprung up.

Anyway taking about Christmas traditions, a few weeks ago Matthew and I went shopping for a Christmas present for Matthew. We felt that it would be best that he chooses what he would like and he chose a remote helicopter. I put it away and Matthew only got the helicopter when I picked him up today. Matthew flew the helicopter until the rechargeable batteries went flat. We recharged them and he flew some more until dusk.

So Bah Humbug to my Christmas tree and Happy Birthday Jesus.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Rocking Jade

Jade, a Italian Greyhound, came into my life as a small puppy on the 22 December 2010 and she turned out to be a beautiful loving dog. This morning Maxy, Jade and myself headed off very early to hike the Linksfield Ridge. Patch was left behind because of dog gout or arthritis creeping into his old bones. The plan was to meet other dog walkers at 07:30 at Gillooly's Farm but I wanted the sunrise and needed a head start up the ridge. So in the African dawn I found myself with two small dogs crossing raging streams, walking through wet elephant grass and up a rocky ridge hoping to catch the sun as it peeped over the horizon. But the sun hid behind a overcast sky and wouldn't play ball but at least it remained cool.

By 08:00 the other walkers and mixed bag of dogs joined us on top of the ridge and we then proceeded to walk along the ridge towards Observatory for about three kilometres. Later we found a path heading down so we followed it and once at the bottom we started back to Gillooly's Farm and our cars. Well Maxy, Jade and myself were now in need of well deserved rest. Once back home we crashed into a heap and slept. Rock climbing is tough work on paws and wet takkies.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Four Generations of Sibanyoni

Christmas is just about upon us and many people are heading for holidays or heading back home to family from the big cities. Emmelinah, a good friend of mine, needed a lift home to Middleburg about 2 hours drive away after working as a migrant worker in the big city of Johannesburg. The local taxis tend to charged way too much when the commuters arrive with tons of stuff bought over the working year. So naturally I was not doing anything important, offered to take her.

Arriving at her house in Mhluzi, the township just outside Middleburg, we were greeted by Emmi's mother, daughter and two granddaughters. Emmi went straight to her youngest granddaughter Bonani only a few months old whom she has never seen and just held her and smiled. It has been a tough year for Emmi but those who know Emmi, will know that she has this big smile which can light up a room and now holding baby Bonani she simply smiled and smiled and smiled from deep within.

I was fascinated being among four generations of women, so with baby Bonani sleeping I took the opportunity to take a photo of the women. From left to right, Hope (Hilda's daughter), Emmi (Johanna's daughter), Hilda (Emmi's daughter) and the gogo (respectful Zulu way you call an old woman) Johanna.

While driving back to Johannesburg, I was thinking about these four women and how the traditional way of life has changed so much for gogo Johanna to her great granddaughter Hope. Hope of a brighter future for her family. It reminded me of a traditional Zulu story normally told by the old gogos to the great grand children about why people must grow old and die. I cannot do it any justice as you need to tell it in a long interesting story way around the fire teaching the children but here goes.

After God created the all the things in the heaven and earth, he stopped and looked around and was greatly pleased with what He saw. Especially with the first man and woman as they were the most like himself. But after a while God noticed that the man and woman kept getting injured. They would heal but most of the time the injuries left scars. After many years their bodies started looking old and tattered. It was time for new bodies.

So God summoned the chameleon and instructed him to urgently deliver a package to the man and woman. So without delay the chameleon set off to find the man and woman. While searching the earth for the man and woman, chameleon stopped at a large river to rest and quench his thirst.

While resting, the snake happened to come to the river to drink. After greeting each other, chameleon asked the snake if he had seen the man and woman because he had a package to deliver to them from God. Now the snake didn't like God and was bitterly jealous of man and woman so he schemed up a plan to make sure that the package wouldn't get delivered to the man and woman.

Working on the chameleon's good nature, the snake invited chameleon to come to dinner before going on his urgent errant for God. Thinking that there was still plenty of time and not wanting to offend snake, chameleon relented. Snake's wife had cooked up this huge feast of sumptuous food and utshwala (traditional Zulu beer) and was honoured that chameleon could join them. After the feasting and drinking, chameleon eyes began to droop and was soon asleep.

While chameleon slept, snake gently took the package from chameleon and opened it. Snake and his wife were happy to find new skins in the package because when their old skins wore out too quickly from slithering along the ground and now they could change into new skins when theirs got too old.

Now when chameleon woke up and found that he was tricked. The new skins were meant for man and woman but now the snake and his wife had the new skins. Chameleon was very sad that he had let God down and didn't know how to face God again. So he hid away from God by moving slowly in the leaves of the trees and changing colour to camouflage so God would not find him.

And that my friend is why we grow old.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Summer solstice in Lonehill

Only a few in South Africa would know that today was the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere because majority of us are on holiday or about to go so summer solstices are the furthest from our minds. Kids, holidays, final summer break, buying pressies (presents), New Years Eve parties, the beach and many more distractions. But they would have enjoyed the longest day.

I had to go meet a friend for breakfast which was postponed to a lunch at Mugg and Bean in Lonehill and while parking my car at Lonehill Shopping Centre, I felt myself drawn to the rocky koppie (hill) overlooking the centre. The koppie which is made up of large boulders stands all by itself therefore the suburb's obvious name Lonehill. Being the summer solstice a few hours earlier I thought about that bunch of rocks down in Waterval Boven called the Adam's Calendar. There lot of debate and theories out there if these rocks are Africa's Stonehenge, a monolithic stone calendar. But if Adam's Calender is not some trick of nature then this intact monolithic structure pre-dates Stonehenge itself although not as grand as the British calendar. And today being the summer solstice wouldn't it be awesome to be there at Adam's Calendar to see the sun rays casting shadows across the formation of monoliths instead of standing in a parking lot 4 hours drive away looking at a pile of boulders stack on top of each other.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ahhh holidays at last

Matthew has been on holiday for over two weeks already while today mine only starts. 2011 has been another hard year but hopefully I am over the hump and one day I'll look back and only see the molehills for what they were. With only ten days left until the new year begins and this year will be in the past. Here's to the future whatever it may bring.

Sometimes when looking at Matthew I wonder what it would be like to be a child again and living my life all over. Nah, my childhood has few fond memories so the best is to look forward and I am still a "children". It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. So let the holidays begin. :-)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

In Memory of Jon Hrusa

For today, I am going to change a little because I can. I have already taken a photo for today of Mashooda, my boss's daughter but I am going to post another photo which I took yesterday, the day Jon died.

In memory of Jon Hrusa, who loved to photograph the constantly changing clouds its incredible array of colours. Where all we see is the rain, he opened his eyes and saw beauty. This formation of clouds taken yesterday evening at the Northcliff Ridge will never be the same as it was right then. As photographers, to have the gift is to have an eye for the right photograph and Jon had the eye for the beauty, the pain and the gift all around us. Jon took awesome photographs.

I met Jon through Heather who joined the Joburg Photowalkers and bought Jon along. He was a quiet, unassuming but talented photographer. Jon had an impressive array of accolades and looking at his website Jon Hrusa Photography I am amazed with his work so I am unashamedly going copy verbatim off the About the Photographer page so you can get to know who Jon was and why he is a loss to South Africa and the world...

Jon Hrusa is a regional staff photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Jon also works as a freelance photographer for various NGOs and other organizations.

In South Africa, Jon worked as a staff photographer at The Pretoria News, The Sunday Times, and Sportsday, and freelanced for the Associated Press and Reuters before joining EPA.

Jon was named the Ilford South African Press Photographer of the Year in 1991 as well as the Allied/M-Net South Africa Sports Photographer of the Year. He has won multiple South African Press Awards, as well as a Bronze Award at the 2010 South African Profoto Awards. He was awarded third place for Environment and Nature Stories at the 2001 World Press Photo Awards.

Jon is passionate about documentary photography that makes a difference. In 2000, he spent three months documenting the rescue of African penguins after a massive oil spill off the coast of South Africa for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). His photographs were the subject of Spill – Saving Africa’s Oiled Penguins, a book about the penguin rescue published by IFAW.

Jon is one of the primary photographers for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and has spent years documenting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. He recently documented a unique HIV program in rural Lesotho, which appeared in news outlets around the world and later went on to be featured on ABC's 20/20 and CNN’s Inside Africa. Jon’s photo of a child playing next to an EGPAF-supported health clinic in Swaziland was runner-up in the USAID Frontlines Photo Contest in March 2011.

Jon’s photos have appeared in countless national and international publications, including: National Geographic, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Los Angeles, Times, MSNBC, Time Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Telegraph, The London Sunday Times Magazine, The Times of London, The South China Morning Post, The Daily Mail, Rugby World Magazine and the Illustreret Videnskab Magazine

In the Zulu tradition, when a person passes on they don't cross over straight away, they wander round the earth visiting their favourite places and where their hearts loved to be. After a time of mourning their loved ones urge them to cross over. And because Jon was a true son of Africa there is this song called The Crossing by Johnny Clegg which is about encouraging the crossing over.

Through all the days that eat away
At every breath that I take
Through all the nights I’ve lain alone
In someone else’s dream, awake
All the words in truth we have spoken
That the wind has blown away
It’s only you that remains with me
Clear as the light of day

O siyeza, o siyeza , sizofika webaba noma 
(we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O siyeza, o siyeza, siyagudle lomhlaba 
(we are coming, we are coming, we are moving across this earth)
Siyawela lapheshaya lulezontaba ezimnyama 
(we are crossing over those dark mountains)
Lapha sobheka phansi konke ukhulupheka 
(where we will lay down our troubles)

A punch drunk man in a downtown bar
Takes a beating without making a sound
Through swollen eyes he sways and smiles
’cause none can put him down
Inside of him a boy looks up to his father
For a sign or an approving eye
Oh, its funny how those once so close and now gone
Can still so affect our lives

Take me now, hold me close
Don’t let go, I’m coming home

Jon you have gone home to a much peaceful place, for the world is so full of pain.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Northcliff Ridge

Ah cool dude we have da mountain and if you wake up it's still there, awesome dude. But Cape Town lacks one thing and that is friendliness, I mean genuine friendly not this oh wow friendliness. Yes Cape Town is beautiful with its stunning scenery but beauty is only skin deep. Don't get me wrong I have awesome friends and family in Cape Town but sadly that is were it ends. Well time to let Johannesburg's secret out, we too have a mountain in the city, okay it just a couple of ridges cutting through Johannesburg but this city is the full of friendly Joburg Photowalkers. Plus Johannesburg has become the biggest urban jungle in the world with the most trees per square meter. Because of all the trees, bird species and bush babies never seen in Johannesburg are now calling it home. And that is not all, in last Convention On Climate Change, Johannesburg was voted as the most greenest environmental city in Africa. Talking about climate change, the macro climate in Johannesburg has changed from summer thunderstorms to a more tropical rainfall but that I believe is because the vast amount of trees we have here. And did I mentioned that it has the Joburg Photowalkers?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Lebo's two front teeth

Lebogang who was born in March this year, proudly shows off her two front teeth to me. Since my first photo of her at 3 weeks she has grown fast. I suppose babies do that nowdays, oh they always do as they are just one eating machine. It was been a hectic long weekend for me but as we head towards Christmas in a week's time it becomes important to slow down and reflect on the whose birthday we going celebrate. I still can't get that little orphan girl out of my mind as she ran up to me dressed as Father Christmas with arms stretched wide. Just so much trust and love. But next Sunday it will all be about Father God's gift to mankind, the ultimate gift a father can give.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Santa visits an Orphanage

Wow this has been a busy long weekend and today no exception. I have to thank Magda for volunteering me to be Santa at the Compass Community Provision and Social Services orphanage in Edenvale. Maybe it was my girth size that gave me away or maybe it was my jolly personality. At first I wasn't sure what to expect being Santa at an orphanage but I was surprised when I arrived there in the afternoon to find that so many families had come to spend the day with the orphans and give them a Christmas to remember. And not to forget to meet Santa.

When I walked out with the Santa outfit on, one small girl just came running up to me with no reservations and wide arms open arms. My heart simply melted. After giving me this huge tiny hug the flood gates opened on cue and the rest of the children came running. With all these kids trying to hold me at the same time, it was priceless. I didn't know that I would be a successful Santa but to these kids it meant so much that Santa was visiting them personally. Although it was hot in that Santa outfit, the kids were worth it every minute.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Hanging of Gemma

I was asked by Empire Tattoos to take photos of their 10th Birthday celebrations. Now I am associated to Empire Tattoos from the Zombie Walks that they do yearly for charity, which are awesome by the way (see photos at Nom Nom Nom and Zombies Shuffle). Matthew being my assistant wasn't quite sure what he was in for, body piercing, body suspension, pole dancing, punk rock and fire breathing. Wait back up there a little bit, body suspension? Yes you read correctly body suspension. You should have seen Matthew's face as he watched the large hooks sink into Gemma's skin, priceless. The traffic along 14 Ave, Fairlands had some close calls while passing Empire Tattoos this afternoon. I am walking on air! Well done Gemma to be suspended on hooks like that but sorry it is not my cup of tea. I wonder if this is what a kitten goes through when its mother picks them up but the scruff of their neck.

It was a long day and Matthew and I are all sore from an enjoyable birthday bash. I will be uploading all the photos to my Facebook photo album and sharing it on Empire Tattoos group page soon but in the meanwhile to wet your appetite I will leave you with one of Gemma being suspended by four large hooks not meant to near human flesh.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Long Weekend

Tomorrows Day of Reconciliation marks the official start of the Christmas holidays for many South Africans. The builders break for the summer today.  All the children are on their holidays for a few weeks already. And all of the sudden all the roads leading out the city become jammed with holiday traffic. People rushing down to the coasts or head north to the neighbouring states. 

Matthews and my plan is to stay here in Jozi as I am still working till the 22nd. The city is pleasant when most are away on holiday. But I am not planing on staying for long as we'll head off to see family in the slow-veld of Mapumalanga and in January when most holiday makers head back to the city, Matthew, Maxy, Patch, Jade and myself will make a quiet trek to the north coast of Natal. In the meanwhile we will make the most of this long weekend.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Spiritus Mundi

This evening's awe inspiring sunset stretched across the entire horizon reminding me of the Spiritus Mundi, the soul of the world at the end of time. There I sat on my patio watching this awesome painting spread before me and while the tentacles of burnt orange reached towards me as the poem The Second Coming by Yeats trickled off my lips...

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming!
Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats wrote this poem just after the horrors of the First World War and was looking towards the future which did not look all that pleasing. He repeated two lines as if he wasn't quite sure and was trying to make sense of it all.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

I too am slowly trying to figure things out. As you must know by now I enjoy Yeats, I have even posted my favourite of his poems, The Stolen Child which cries out from my youth, this poem The Second Coming is what's ahead. And as this year draws to an end, as this beautiful sunset gives a last hurrah in this trouble world, I have a sense that not all is lost. With darkness all around, filled with cries of desperation ever closing in, I stand in the light knowing that I must reach out into the darkness and grab a hand and pull them too into the light.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A few days ago I shared on Facebook a video by Louie Schwartzburg, an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer on Gratitude. (For those who missed it here it is). Well today I took this photo of a man many of my friends would know as Merville. Now Merville wouldn't tell you but he has been on his journey though life along many ups and downs. Well in the later part of his life has been more down than up but he always puts his trust in God. Merville would not think twice in serving and helping others without much care for himself. And sitting with him this evening made me think of the narrative read in the video linked above by an old man while images taken by Louie of God's glory unfolding.

Do you think this is not just another day in your life? It is not just another day; it's the one day that is given to you, today. It is given to you, it's a gift. It is the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

If you do nothing else but to cultivate, that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and being surprised by that you have eyes that you can open. That incredible array of colours that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. So rarely, note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather. And even with weather we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day right now, this unique weather, maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again. The formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same that is right now. Open your eyes look at that.

Look at the faces of people we meet. Each one has a incredible story behind their face. A story that you could never fully fathom. Not only their own story but the story of their ancestors, only goes back so far. And in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, all that life from generations and from so many places over the world, flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water if only you open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to, the incredible gift that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there's electric light. You turn a facet and there's warm water and cold water. And drinkable water. A gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience. And these are just a few of an enormous number gifts to which we can open your heart. So wish you can open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you. That everyone who you meet today will be blessed by you. Just by your always, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you and then it would really be a good day.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Is it Monday or Sunday?

Today was a strange day. By strange, I mean it left like it was Sunday. Riding to work on my Vespa was a breeze with very little traffic. And once at work, only one other person pitched up to work today and that was at 12pm for about an hour and left. I had to check if it was Monday and that I didn't go to work on a Sunday.

After work I went round to Paulo's place for a braai and some wine. None of us felt energetic and simply relaxed around a fire with some meat on the grill drinking red wine. A good chilled finish to a Sunday, sorry Monday.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

It’s not goodbyes but till next time

Coming to Africa has one drawback. And that drawback is that Africa gets into your blood and makes it difficult to leave. If you do manage, Africa remains coursing through your blood calling you back.

My friend Karen, from Singapore stayed here for about a year and she is quoted on her blog "Story of Bing" "It's amazing what Africa does to a person"; "South Africa has wormed its way into my heart and I didn't realise that till now" and "I'm thankful for being in Africa. What I thought would be the worst year of my life has turned out to be one of the best. South Africa, you've changed my life." Then there is another friend Heather from the States who wrote on her blog "2 Summers" "I am fiercely, head-over-heels in love with you, Jozi. I've never loved any other city like I love you. And I'm determined to stay." So you getting the idea but one more just to seal it. Through Heather I recently met Martina from the UK and she wrote on her blog "Martina in Jozi" "I've only been here for 11 weeks but I feel Joburg getting under my skin. I love this place already." And this is only three friends who know what it feels like to get Africa in your blood.

And now the sad part, today we had to say goodbye to the V family who are heading back home to the States after four years here. Knowning them they would love to stay longer but the children will be starting university soon. But it is not goodbyes because Africa is in their blood now and they will be back. Ross said it very well this morning when he shared his thoughts when he first met Dwight, Shelly, Taylor and Cierra who left a cosy life in California to be tent makers in Africa, "When I first saw the Vs I thought that they didn't know what they getting into by coming to Africa but it was us that was not ready for the Vs." And how true was that. The Vs did an awesome work in Kya Sands Informal Settlement which was one of the hotspots of the Xenophobia attacks last year. You can see some of my photos that I posted on Facebook of the Kya Sands Informal Settlement here when Dwight and Shelly took a couple of Joburg Photowalkers through.

And the people gave them a standing ovation at today's farewell. So it is not goodbye but till we see you again Dwight, Shelly, Taylor and CC.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

EOS 1D X in my Hands

Canon UK walked in two recently launched Canon EOS 1D Xs into South Africa for the Canon SA Expo this weekend. And under Canon South Africa's hawk eye gaze I laid my grabby paws on the 1D X. And what a beast it is, I know can't afford it but continuous shooting RAW at 12 frames per second was heart stopping. Forget lens envy this is now Xenvy but how am I going to afford the estimated R65,000 for the 1D X when on my wishlist is a Vespa GTS 300 Super and new camera lenses. I had to leave my fingerprints behind on the 1D X as I walked away with my head drooped. Sigh. Here is Johnny also enjoying the 1D X so much that he wants to pre-order.

Another camera which caught my eye was the Canon Powershot S100. In the near future I will be in the market for a high spec pocket camera because lugging a large SLR around on my current Vespa is quite demanding; even sneaking a SLR into a concert takes skill. Now a small camera can get around those limitations. The S100 will retail about R5,000 and like the 1D X will only be available about March next year, which means that the Canon S95 prices will drop. Uhmmm, another wishlist addition.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Brighton Rock

Today started with a sheet of water pouring down from the heavens. This ruled out taking the Vespa to work. So off in the Sussette, my pickup, I went but didn't get very far. One part of the road had this overflowing stream bursting across the road. Taking a change I edged across and once I was safely on the other side Sussette decided to that she didn't like the swim and started miss firing.

Stuck on the side of the road in the rain, trying to dry the cables didn't help. I needed to open the distributor cap and dry inside but I didn't have any screwdrivers in my tool kit. I was truly stuck. So I phoned a friend for help. While my friend was fighting rush hour traffic to get to me, I realized that there was a screwdriver in my camera bag. Don't ask.

Opening the distributer cap, water just poured out. Found the problem. My friend arrived and with him was some compressed water repellant just the thing I needed. After spraying copious amounts I screwed the distributor cap back on only to find that I left the distributor out. Sigh. The worst part was when my friend finally arrived; the once raging river crossing the road was just a puddle. Trying to explain what happened was like telling the story about the fish that got away.

That was my morning flushed away. So it was catch up at work for the rest of the afternoon. Driving home in the late afternoon, Magda phoned to say that she is arranging movie tickets for this evening to see Brighton Rock which was screening at Cedar Square.

Now Brighton Rock is a very dark broody murder movie set in the 60s when the Mods and Rockers where clashing and reminded me a lot of Ducktails that we had here in Johannesburg and Durban. It is defiantly a must see movie even if you go just for the Vespas and Lambrettas but please remember it is a very heavy movie with emphasis on the 60s style gangs and mix of Catholicism.

My heart was heavy when I saw the plight women found themselves in and how they were treated back in those days. Is it any better today? The part that touched me the most was in the end when Rose put on the record to listen to the voice of Pinkie and because of a scratch she only heard him say up to "I love you" over and over again while the camera panned up to the out of focus crucifix on the wall. That scene screamed out at me that God was protecting Rose from what else Pinkie had to say on that record which we got to hear earlier.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Sixteen days to go

With only one week to go until the workers break for the Christmas holidays and 16 shopping days left until Jesus' birthday, it has become all rush to get things finished before the break. The question I am starting to ask is what is all the fuss about? Lots of parties and death on our roads? It looks like the world has forgotten what Christmas is all about.

Next week I have been asked to be Santa at an orphanage in Edenvale. It must have been my girth that gave me away as a secret Santa but how can I turn that down. This is the time to give some love to someone else that is not expecting it, someone that can't afford what our Christmas has become but know what the true meaning of Christmas is. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Braamfontein at Night

I have just come home from yet another awesome Joburg Photowalkers' photo walk, this time it was Braamfontein at Night. At first I was afraid, I was petrified, wait I feel a song coming on... Kept thinkin' I could never walk down these streets at night. Thinkin' how we could be so wrong. What have we've missed. 

Johannesburg is just like any other major city in the world. Yes there is crime but what city doesn't. You must just be aware of places that you can't go alone at night, just like any other city. BUT Johannesburg is beautiful. It may not have the mountain, oh like wow the mountain is still here. Johannesburg has this touch of hidden beauty just below the surface and all it takes is a little scratching and it will outshine. On top of that the people of Johannesburg are just awesome. How many times have we as the Joburg Photowalkers heard the words "Shoot me"? Plenty and by shoot me I mean with a camera.  

There was so many photos to choose from for today's post but I will leave you with the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Super Cleaners

Today felt like a Monday even though it is a Tuesday. The day just flew by without touching sides. I had a lot of coding work on a site in the United Kingdom lined up for today but somehow never got to it due to delayed details from the client. Anyway our offices which is based at the AstroTech Conference Centre, get a weekly spring clean by this team of cleaners who come in like a hurricane. Today's photo is of one of the cleaners but I didn't get her name. Other than the cleaning blitz and reporting, I don't actually know what happened today as next thing I know, I am riding Sophia back home at the end of the day.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Matthew promoted to Grade 7

I must say that I am a proud dad today because Matthew's school report came late this afternoon and he did exceptionally well. Matthew got two distinctions Mathematics 85.7% and Life Orientation 80%. Followed hotly on its heals were Technology 78.5%; Natural Sciences 77.6%; English 77.5% ; Economic & Management Sciences 76.5% Social Sciences 67.9% and Art & Culture 65.6%. With Afrikaans, Matthew scraped through at 42.5% but like his daddy, languages are not our strong suite. I have many Afrikaans friends so we'll have to get him speaking die taal.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

God First Angels

This Sunday, Matthew acted in his first play. He played the husband in a nativity play held by the God First East Rand church which meant that I had to go all the way to Boksburg to watch him do an Oscar performance. Well the entire play was beautiful with all the children performing grandly and all deserve Oscar nominations. What a way to start a week with dazzling angels singing. 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Santa Hunt

With only 21 days till Christmas, Matthew and I braved the malls to try find the best and most realist Santa in Johannesburg. Well we do know they all pretend Santas, the real one lives at the North Pole is rather busy preparing all the presents for the good children. They not impostors but simply running interference for a somewhat busy Santa. Matthew wants everyone to know that he did this under duress and only for the blog. Oh no wait, there goes his image. I want to state for the record that I have been a good boy this year and all I want for Christmas is the addresses of all the naughty girls.

Friday, 2 December 2011

We're Dancing

Fred or Fossil as he's affectionately known as held a dancing show at the Franklin D Roosevelt Primary School in Roosevelt Park. The dancers were most school children from the school and they put on a wonderful dance show for the parents. Friends of ours Bonnie and John were performing tonight and as good friends are we came in support. It was encouraging seeing how much fun the children had performing on stage, showing that they had moves like Jagger. 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Vegetables are Evil

In the early hours of this morning, my gout re-appeared after just over a week of absence, this time at my left Achilles tendon. Now I thought I had this all beat but not so as I lay in pain thinking of what I ate and drank the day before that could have triggered this episode off.

Because I was running late, I started yesterday off without breakfast but with the first of my two cups of coffee for the day. That is one cup in the morning and one in the evening. Although I drank a litre of kiwi and pear juice throughout the day and about mid afternoon a few mixed nuts to see me through. I am trying to lose weight okay. After arriving home I cracked open a beer and with some cheese as company I sat on my patio and watched the sun go down while some vegetable lasagna was slowly baked for my supper later.

Now I have had all of the above except the lasagna in the week before with no gout attacks. So that narrowed it down to the vegetable lasagna. What was in the lasagna that I didn't eat in the previous weeks? The broccoli and baby marrows were eaten before so it must be either the carrots, cauliflower or pea pods. Then it dawned on me, a friend a sent me a list of foods that are have known links to purines which cause uric acid that develops gout and on that list was beans. Yes beans and I am sure pea pods are close enough to beans. So the culprit for my gout this time was the vegetable lasagna. You can now see how I deduced that vegetables are evil. Oh and with that I will leave you with a photograph of my office in Parktown while I go off and slowly appreciate a glass of red wine to celebrate my Dr Watson moment.

Popular Posts