Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2x Aaaarh!

So the renovations to the pool have been successful - the water is blue and attractive.
BUT.... Bonny chewed on the net while it was off - so repairs are now necessary. The pump is also sucking air, so the pipe from weir to pump must be dug up and examined.
The moral is: when you do repairs, always be prepared to do repairs to the repairs.

News on the lighter side

There has to be satire in a democracy - an outlet for the nation to be able to laugh at itself and see the incongruous. Follow this link as a matter of course - brighten up your day! Click here

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grungy Green

The state of our swimming pool sent my mind back to the 'Just So' story by Rudyard Kipling about Elephant's Child who wanted to know what the crocodile ate for dinner. He travelled until he met Crocodile on the banks of the 'great, grey, green, greasy, Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees'.
We don't have fever trees, but we do have a variety of pine trees - especially over the wall in the neighbours garden - which generously shed their needles and flowers into our pool every year. So much so that the pump and filter struggle to cope. This year, the pump decided it had had enough and 'gave up the ghost' on us - just when we needed it's services most to 're-sparkle' the pool. Ah well!
This is the current state of our own great, grey, green, greasy body of water after a week during which a new pump, and sand-filter, and housing has been installed (see the photo righhand top section). We now have to empty the rest of the water out and clean the sand and other stuff from the bottom of the pool before we fill it and get it all going again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dragging heels

It happens every now and again, but fortunately not very often. About a week ago I had a call from a mother whose daughter had had an unfortunate and traumatic experience and was experiencing sleep problems - and the mother wanted to bring the girl to me for ministry. We arranged vaguely for one day but a time was not confirmed and I ended up having to conduct a funeral that day - so the day was changed and a time set for midday today. They duly arrived, and the daughter said her mom didn't need to be present to we sat down. When I asked if she would like to talk about what had happened and how she was dealing with it, she said: 'No. I've got over it in my own way'. So, that was that - she really didn't want to be there with me! So much for mothers!
Well, as she had been brought I talked in general about trauma and 'flashbacks' that could happen unexpectedly, and the need to be 'freed' from what had happened - and she agreed that I could pray for her. I then encouraged her to pray herself for the perpetrator, to speak her mind as it were to the person, and to hand the person over to Jesus for correction and healing - which she did. And that was the end of it all.
Her mother was very surprised when we appeared afterwards as she imagined we would spend quite a long time talking.
I ask myself - was she really there against her will, and just because her mother wanted her to be there. Or had she really worked through the issue. But it is not for me to know - God is present and active in her life and all I can do is entrust her to Him. She did say that she would be sharing her testimony about this with her youth group this evening, and asked that we pray for wisdom and sensitivity and the right words and approach for her to use - which we did. I think she was showing a fair degree of maturity in this - but at the same time I am concerned that she does not believe that she has been much affected.
I pray that her youth group and leaders will be supportive and not judgemental, and that they will be there for her should she 'breakdown' emotionally. I pray too for the strength and resilience and passion of youth to make a difference in their worlds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


As a young child I was often amazed at my dad when we traveled anywhere on holiday. It seemed that whatever route we drove, and whatever insignificant (to me) town we passed through, there was always an "I wonder if so and so still lives here". Fortunately we didn't often stop to check the telephone directory and find out if that long-since-seen distant relative or friend was still around. I think - at that age - I would have found it very frustrating and an intrusion on our holiday time! However, the older I get the more aware I become of connections that make the world a much smaller place than we would imagine.

Recently a very close friend of mine (Marcia) celebrated her sister's (Bev)60th birthday. I saw the photos on facebook. In some of them are a couple that I know. The connection is this: Marcia's sister Bev is married to Arno. Arno has a sister Anne who is married to Richard. Richard has a sister Rose who is my sister-in-law. Now how is that for a small world?
Seems to me that it all comes from having sisters!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love Languages

We are preaching a series on Gary Chapman's '5 Love Languages of God' in our Sunday evening services. In reflecting on the love languages in preparation from my sermons, I realised why I didn't want to come home from visiting Ian and Julz in Ireland. My primary love language is 'quality time' - of which I got plenty over there. Julz and I went for walks and shopping and didn't stop talking while I was awake. Then the three of us went on a tour of the south and we had 24/7 quality time with each other. My tank was full, full, full to overflowing! What a blessing those two weeks were:)

District 9

Don't waste your time. The first half-hour of the movie is a fair satire on the xenophobia that occurred here in 2008 - beginning around the time of the Zimbabwe elections (!!) - but the rest is rather pathetic in my opinion.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Work and Rewards

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked, and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich: a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade, so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset, and the students who studied little were happy.
As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less, and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased, as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings, and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise; and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It could not be any simpler than that.

The following profound short little paragraph says it all:
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931.

Cleaning up

I have been watching the Kreepy doing its job of cleaning the pool for quite a while. From the photo below you will notice what I have been observing - that there are a few areas that the Kreepy is avoiding. No matter how long it runs, it manages to skirt around these areas leaving them untouched - as if those areas did not exist. That got me thinking about how there are areas in our lives that we ignore - things that we refuse to deal with, pretending that they do not exist - even denying that they could possibly be there. Although we skirt around them and even perhaps imagine that they are invisible - it is clear to onlookers that those areas are desperately in need of attention. Throwing a handful of chlorine onto the dirt may create a little patch of white on the brown in the pool, but when the chlorine is dissolved in the water, the brown is the same as ever. In the same way, we may say that Christ has forgiven our sins, but if we do not attend to the transformation of our behaviour or attitudes, the 'dirt' is visible to those around us even though we may deny its presence and effect in our lives.

The remedy for the pool is to shorten the hose between the Kreepy and the pump so that it cannot skirt those dirty areas so easily, and also to stir up the dirt by brushing it and spreading it around to that it will be sucked up from a wider area. In the same way the dirt within may need to be stirred up and disseminated into smaller bits that can be dealt with progressively and systematically - but the most important of all is to shorten the distance between us and our 'pump' - the One who exchanges death for life. We then find that dealing with the unattractive in our lives is not such a daunting task after all - and the onlookers will celebrate with us as our lives are transformed to sparkling clarity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Breaking my silence

It's been a while since I wrote anything on my blog. There has been a lot of stuff in my head, and a lot of different things that need thinking about and planning and getting to grips with. Much of the time I haven't known very clearly what I have been thinking. Hence the silence! However, one cannot keep floating in space indefinitely, so I am now breaking my silence. Not that I am saying much - but words are coming out anyway - for what they are worth!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Deafening Silence

John Redfern, Hon. National Secretary of the Flame Lily Foundation, writes: "Much has been said and written recently regarding the release from a Scottish prison of ailing convicted terrorist Abdelbaset al Megrahi. Pan Am flight 103 exploded in the sky above Lockerbie, Scotland shortly after taking off from Heathrow airport on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 innocent people on the ground.

World leaders were silent when, ten years earlier on 3 September 1978, an unarmed Air Rhodesia civilian airliner, Viscount VP-WAS (named Hunyani), in flight from Kariba to Salisbury was shot down by a gang of ZIPRA terrorists using a Russian SAM 7 missile. Of the 56 men, women and children on board, 38 perished in the crash landing. 10 survivors, including wounded woman and children, were then murdered on the ground by another gang of ZIPRA terrorists. This event must stand as one of the most terrible acts of terrorism in modern times, along with the Lockerbie disaster and the events of 9/11 2001 in New York.

A detailed report on the downing of the Hunyani can be found on the Internet at An extract - the sermon delivered at the memorial service for those who lost their lives - is reproduced below as a reminder of the dreadful event that took place on this day 31 years ago."

The Silence is Deafening
Sermon by Very Rev. John da Costa, Anglican Dean of Salisbury

Clergyment, I am frequently told, should keep out of politics. I thoroughly agree. For this reason, I will not allow politics to be preached in this cathedral. Clergy have to be reconcilers. That is no easy job. A minister of religion who has well-known political views, and allows them to come to the fore, cannot reconcile, but will alienate others, and fail in the chief part of his ministry.
For this reason, I personally am surprised at there being two clergymen in the Executive Council. It is my sincere prayer that they can act as Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation.

My own ministry began in Ghana, where Kwame Nkrumah preached: "Seek ye first the political kingdom and all these things will be added to you." We know what became of Kwame Nkrumah. We are not to preach a political kingdom, but the kingdom of God.

Clergy are usually in the middle, shot at from both sides. It is not an enviable role. Yet times come when it is necessary to speak out, and in direct and forthright terms, like trumpets with unmistakable notes. I believe that this is one such time.

Nobody who holds sacred the dignity of human life can be anything but sickened at the events attending the crash of the Viscount Hunyani. Survivors have the greatest call on the sympathy and assistance of every other human being. The horror of the crash was bad enough, but that this should have been compounded by murder of the most savage and treacherous sort leaves us stunned with disbelief and brings revulsion in the minds of anyone deserving the name "human."

This bestiality, worse than anything in recent history, stinks in the nostrils of Heaven. But are we deafened with the voice of protest from nations which call themselves "civilised"? We are not. Like men in the story of the Good Samaritan, they "pass by, on the other side."

One listens for loud condemnation by Dr. David Owen, himself a medical doctor, trained to extend mercy and help to all in need.

One listens and the silence is deafening.

One listens for loud condemnation by the President of the United States, himself a man from the Bible-Baptist belt, and again the silence is deafening.

One listens for loud condemnation by the Pope, by the Chief Rabbi, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by all who love the name of God.

Again the silence is deafening.

I do not believe in white supremacy. I do not believe in black supremacy either. I do not believe that anyone is better than another, until he has proved himself to be so. I believe that those who govern or who seek to govern must prove themselves worthy of the trust that will be placed in them.

One looks for real leadership. One finds little in the Western world: how much less in Africa?

Who is to be blamed for this ghastly episode?

Like Pontius Pilate, the world may ask "What is truth?" What is to be believed? That depends on what your prejudices will allow you to believe, for then no evidence will convince you otherwise.

So who is to be blamed?

First, those who fired the guns. Who were they? Youths and men who, as likely as not, were until recently in church schools. This is the first terrible fact. Men who went over to the other side in a few months were so indoctrinated that all they had previously learned was obliterated. How could this happen if they had been given a truly Christian education?

Second, it is common knowledge that in large parts of the world violence is paraded on TV and cinema screens as entertainment. Films about war, murder, violence, rape, devil-possession and the like are "good box-office". Peak viewing time is set aside for murderers from Belfast, Palestine, Europe, Africa and the rest, to speak before an audience of tens of millions. Thugs are given full treatment, as if deserving of respect.

Not so the victims' relations.

Who else is to be blamed?

The United Nations and their church equivalent, the WCC. I am sure they both bear blame in this. Each parade a pseudo-morality which, like all half-truths, is more dangerous than the lie direct. From the safety and comfort of New York and Geneva, high moral attitudes can safely be struck. For us in the sweat, the blood, the suffering, it is somewhat different.

Who else? The churches? Oh yes, I fear so.

For too long, too many people have been allowed to call themselves "believers" when they have been nothing of the kind. Those who believe must act. If you believe the car is going to crash, you attempt to get out. If you believe the house is on fire, you try to get help and move things quickly. If you believe a child has drunk poison, you rush him to the doctor. Belief must bring about action.

Yet churches, even in our own dangerous times, are more than half-empty all the time. We are surrounded by heathens who equate belief in God with the Western way of life. In many war areas, Africans are told to "burn their Bibles". If this call was made to us, what sort of Bibles would be handed in? Would they be dog-eared from constant use; well-thumbed and marked? Would they be pristine in their virgin loveliness, in the same box in which they were first received?

There are tens of millions of all races who call themselves believers, who never enter any house of prayer and praise. Many are folk who scream loudest against communism, yet do not themselves help to defeat these Satanic forces by means of prayer, and praise and religious witness.

For, make no mistake, if our witness were as it ought to be, men would flock to join our ranks. As it is, we are by-passed by the world, as if irrelevant.

Is anyone else to be blamed for this ghastly episode near Kariba? I think so.

Politicians throughout the world have made opportunist speeches from time to time. These add to the heap of blameworthiness, for a speech can cause wounds which may take years to heal.

The ghastliness of this ill-fated flight from Kariba will be burned upon our memories for years to come. For others, far from our borders, it is an intellectual matter, not one which affects them deeply. Here is the tragedy!

The especial danger of Marxism is its teaching that human life is cheap, expendable, of less importance than the well-being of the State. But there are men who call themselves Christians who have the same contempt for other human beings, and who treat them as being expendable.

Had we, who claim to love God, shown more real love and understanding, more patience, more trust of others, the churches would not be vilified as they are today. I have nothing but sympathy with those who are here today and whose grief we share. I have nothing but revulsion for the less-than-human act of murder which has so horrified us all.

I have nothing but amazement at the silence of so many of the political leaders of the world. I have nothing but sadness that our churches have failed so badly to practise what we preach. May God forgive us all, and may he bring all those who died so suddenly and unprepared into the light of His glorious presence.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guess what, Mom...

When your son leans around the kitchen door-frame and nonchalantly says "Guess What, Mom" - then you know something significant is about to happen! And I was right.
"I have a coffee date tomorrow night".
(thinking quickly - coz he's gone out for coffee with friends lots of times)Who with?
"...... She's been coming to church recently".
I don't think I know her - there are a few new faces that I haven't got names for yet.
Where're you going - Bugatti's?
That's great!

So, there you have it. Something significant.
And a mother always has to 'keep cool' about these things:)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Early Christianity in Ireland

I always associated Patrick with the spread of Christianity in Ireland, but as I travelled with my son and daughter-in-law, Ian and Juliette, in Ireland in July, I learned that he was not the first to bring the gospel to that land. The first recorded missionary there was Palladius, sent by Pope Celestine to be the bishop to the “Irish who believe in Christ”. He visited Ireland in 431, established a mission in Leinster, and set up a number of churches. Patrick arrived later and his mission was largely around Ulster and Connacht.

The first Monastic settlement that I visited was at Glendalough, which had been established by Kevin, who was born in Leinster in 498. He studied under Penroc in Cornwall, and after his ordination lived as a hermit at Glendalough until persuaded by the disciples he attracted to give up his solitary life. The stone church built in the 6th Century still stands intact apart from the timbers. Ian and me outside St. Kevin's church Kevin died around 618, but the monastery he founded flourished and continued in spite of many raids and destruction at the hands of the Vikings, the Normans, and finally the English in 1398 which left it in ruins although it continued to be a place of pilgrimage.

Kevin was a companion and confessor to Ciaran (Kieran) who founded Clonmacnoise in about 544 on the then cross-roads of Ireland where the north/south artery of communication, Shannon River, crossed the east/west route along the gravel ridges of the glacial eskers. This pivotal location contributed to the development of Clonmacnoise as a major religious, educational, trade, craftmanship and political centre of influence. He died of the plague 8 months later. The tiny church, Temple Ciaran (with Ian in the foreground) is reputed to be his burial place. Clonmacnoise was subject to attack and raids from Irish kings, Vikings, the Anglo-Normans, the English garrison at Athlone in 1552 which devastated the monastery, and finally by Oliver Cromwell and his troops in 1649. Repairs and restoration have been carried out in varying degrees since 1689. It continues to be a place of pilgrimage.

Communities have come and gone at these monastic sites. The individuals who lived, studied, prayed, worked, and spread the gospel from there are now unknown and forgotten. What remains is a testimony to their faithfulness to Christ. At the Glendalough site two ladies were praying and meditating at each of the ruins – clearly on a pilgrimage of their own. Rather than mourn the loss of what was, I choose to give the past a future by carrying with me the peace that pervaded the sites, and allowing the rhythm of study, prayer and work, that was practiced there, to shape my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

At home in Cavan

Their Fiat in which Julz fetched from Dublin airport. Second-hand cars are very cheap there - this one cost 1500 Euros (~R15000). Note the easy to read number plate: last two digits of the year of manufacture (00) - the county in which first registered (D for Dublin) - number registered (60023rd).

The furnished house they are renting since moving from Monaghan to Cavan in July - a spacious 2-double and 1-single bedroomed home with 2 bathrooms upstairs, and guest loo, lounge, diningroom/kitchen downstairs.

Ian and Julz at the front door

and in the back yard

Cavan General Hospital where Ian is employed as an Anaesthetics Registrar. His good friend Bernd Lenhard is standing next to the pole, 'posing'.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Off to Ireland

I wonder if everyone gets anxious when they fly, or is it just me? Even though I enjoy flying, I still get anxious at the beginning of each leg of the journey. This time was no exception, expecially as we were delayed by 2 hours at Jo'burg airport and only left at 01h30 instead of 23h30 - which meant that I might have to make arrangements if I missed my connecting flight to Dublin. The weather radar was not working as it should, and neither was the air-conditioning - so we sat on the plane in the middle of the night waiting for the engineers to rectify everything - which they did fortunately. Then we were served 'dinner' at 03h00! The trip to Amsterdam was 'without hitch', and completed in 10&1/2 hours instead of 11, so on landing I had 1/2 hour to get to my next gate to immediately board the flight to Dublin - and I made it! One strange (to my mind) offer that we had during our first flight was that we were served a choice of water or ice-cream at about 08h00 - breakfast being served at 10h30!! A good introduction to the change in times that I would experience during my stay with Ian and Julz in Ireland!
Leaving Amsterdam

Arriving over Dublin

Different cultures and languages, different population densities, but from the air the habits of humanity not different - buildings to live and work in, fields to cultivate for crops and stock - the business of living is the same the world over.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Farewell Rumble

On my flight back from Ireland I watched the movie 'Marley and Me' - very much what we all experience with our pets. Not necessarily the characteristics of this particular labrador, but generally the place of a pet in the family and the value added, as well as the learning curves through the frustrations of 'delinquent behaviour' and all that comes with training (or trying to) a dog, and the attachment/bond that arises with the animal and the various other members of the family. This has certainly been true of our dogs.

Rumble was a labrador X dalmation - but more labrador. We called her Rumble because on the night that we brought her home as a puppy, she seemed to be making a purring sound. She never learnt to 'fetch and bring' a ball/ stick etc, but was very enthusiastic in chasing around when Judy did the playing. Even when they got older and Judy didn't see so well, Rumble would nudge her to the ball or the ball to her so that she would get it. Rumble aged graciously, and very noticeably towards the end. We thought about 5 years ago when she was unwell that her time had come, but she recovered well after her infected uterus was removed. She had a minor stroke, and then last year soon after we came back from our trip to England and Mexico she suffered a major stroke - and we thought that was definitely the end. But after a few days of just giving her water to keep her hydrated, she got up and started staggering around, and then got stronger gradually and even lost the 'tilt' to her head. What a 'hard core' dog she has been. We put a pool net on and she fell in 7 times, and then seemed to be able to walk around the pool again without falling in. Until recently - when she really became 'frail care material' in becoming weaker and less continent. And then she fell in the pool again, and must have been there for a while because she was in shock, very cold, and shivering. So she was placed in the sun and Paul put a blanket over her - and she seemed to recover from that as well. Amazing, as she was drawing closer and closer to being 16 years old.

As Marley's owner did, so did we - wrestle about when would be the time for her to go to the Happy Hunting Grounds. It is so hard to make that decision. She became weaker and thinner, and had to be carried from her sleeping nook to the sunny grass patch and back again - but she was still eating well and enjoying her food, and happy to have her head scratched and attention paid to her - and would still watch with interest while the younger generation (Bess and Bonny) chased sticks and each other. But then it sort of seemed obvious - she could no longer get up and walk, and couldn't even use her back legs to move herself around, but had to struggle and pull with her front legs and would almost get stuck rolling on her side and trying to get back on her tummy. And so, on Tuesday 14th July, we bid farewell to her and Ned took her to the vet. A faithful dog from beginning to end - only barking when there really was something wrong so that we would know to listen for her bark and follow up on it. Perhaps she is once again encouraging Judy to run around, and enjoying the freedom to run again herself. Thanks Rumble, for being the pet you were. You certainly added value to our lives and our family.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Quiet

It's quiet - very quiet - not silent - just quiet. The overcrowded rooms are empty of all the food & equipment and wool, clothing, & material that was destined to be taken to Moz. 5 Vehicles and 4 trailers - 20 people and everything else all fitted in. Richard and I are alone at home for the next two weeks - and it is very quiet!! This is what I often longed for when the boys were small - peace and quiet - and now I have it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Allan - Before and After

Allan is on the right of the photo.

Here he is after being assailed by one of more cutting instruments.

Whether he has much or no hair, he is still the same great guy on the inside!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Visit with Allan and Richard

Richard sitting on the wall outside his flatlet in Stellenbosch.

Richard and me in Allan's flat in Somerset West.

Allan and Richard with the Schultz family, from whom Allan rents his flat.

Allan and me in the living area of his flat.

Cape Town - more sights

The Cape of Good Hope - the most south-westerly point on the African Continent. This lady just happened to be there when I took the photo.

There were other pedestrians around on that day!

This is the view from Rose's balcony - I could quite easily get used to living here if I had the opportunity!

The day I went to visit Allan I stopped off at Strandfontein beach. This is the view of the Helderberg mountains from the beach.

Seagulls and cormorants were conferring on the beach before taking off and getting on with the business of their day. I didn't join them - just watched from a distance.

Cape Town sights

Cape Point - where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. This is the view from the old lighthouse at Cape Point. The line of convergence is clear in this photo - with the Indian current on the left and the Atlantic current on the right.

Facing up the Peninsula towards the north, the land separates the Indian Ocean on the right from the Atlantic Ocean on the left.

The day I visited Table Mountain there was quite a bit of cloud present. Two people are preparing to abseil down the mountain from the top - crazy!!

A thick layer of cloud below where I am standing on the top of the mountain.

Sedimentary rock over 450million years old - the stuff of Table Mountain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

End of a tradition?

Ever since Ian was about 2 years old, I engaged in a self-defense mechanism of keeping sweets in a jar. Two sweets after lunch was the 'rule'. This meant that I was not pestered for sweets while out shopping, because the children knew that they could have sweets after lunch - and they kept to the rule much to the astonishment and amazement of visiting friends! As the years have passed and they have grown up, the 'two sweets after lunch' was no longer adhered to as they would help themselves whenever they felt like it - though I must say that it has always been within reason. Now that only Paul is at home I have noticed that I hardly ever have to buy sweets anymore - the ones that are there seem to last forever. So it wasn't really a surprise when Paul said to me the other day that it was no longer necessary for me to buy sweets because he was the only one around. So the question arises: what do I do with the sweet jar when the few remaining are gone? Sure, I'll wash it - but what then? Do I turf it - or do I wait until there are grand-children?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lunch with Allan

Somerset West. Sunday. A beautiful, calm, warm day. Enthusiastically greeted by Allan's 'family' where he rents a flat. Richard there as well, his hike having been cancelled. Allan busy descaling and cleaning a 'silwervis' which looks more orange than silver. Snoek already prepared and placed within minutes on the braai. Drinking tea with tea masala added - spicy, delicious. A lovely family - Werner, Tanya, Tiana, Christiaan & Konroy. Christiaan particularly enjoying the novelty of preparing the freshly caught and bought fish from scratch. A wonderful time of being together over a meal - delicious fish braaied in a sauce of butter, garlic, & apricot jam. Yummy!
After lunch we took a drive to Stellenbosch to see where Richard boards and walk around that very extensive Welgevonden estate complex; followed by coffee at a student centre. Back to Somerset West and a brief viewing of an Andre Rieu DVD. Then time to return to Fishhoek. A lovely day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Soul-soothing Stuff

Attending Mass with family - worshipping and celebrating the Risen Christ. Sitting on the beach - big mac coffee in hand - alone but not alone. Embraced by the mountainous arms of the Living God - Kalk Bay mountains on the right, Helderberg on the left. Watching the rise and curl of the waves as they rush toward the shore, tickling the stones, sand and rocks, and nudging seaweeed ever closer. All the while undergirded by the heartbeat of creation. Seagulls conferring in the sun before dispersing and wheeling on the breeze. All together, an orchestra of redemption. The breeze like the Holy Spirit playing over the water and lifting the birds. The sun like the Saviour beaming light and warmth over all. The strength of the Father enfolding us all.
I am filled with peace.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cape Town

I'm on a short break, and spending it in Cape Town with Rose and family, and also visiting Allan and Richard. This morning I was sitting in the sun-room overlooking the sea to the right while eating my breakfast. To the front and left are mountains. What a place to be - I could get used to this!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Richard graduates

A very happy day and reward for achievement. Richard graduated with distinction in Electronic Engineering and was awarded a gold medal and prize for being the top student.

Here we are, with the Engineering Building in the background. From left to right: Liesel, Richard, Honey, Beryl, Ned.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Islam - 'Religion of Peace'

These are pictures of Muslims marching through London on their 'Religion of Peace' Demonstration. We need to be aware that their concept of 'peace' is a world submitted to Allah. It is a territorial religion - the land which is submitted to Allah, with all living under Allah's rule, is then 'at peace'. So, being both an imperial and a territorial religion it stands to reason that it is a militant religion. Their struggle is with the enemies of Islam - which means anyone not under Allah's rule.

I am thankful for our Trinitarian God. If God were only one person, then God could not be love, because love is a relationship. Allah is not and cannot be love, and is neither in relationship with nor accessible to humanity. Unlike the Living God in whom I find my acceptance, security and significance - who initiated relationship with us; whose Son took human form, lived among us, suffered for and because of us; died our death on the Cross; was raised triumphant over death and sin and broke the power of those over our lives. It is in this great work of reconciliation that we find our peace with God. And it is as ministers of this reconciliation that we lead others to this peace with God. I am grateful that I do not have to demonstrate and be a war-mongerer for my God, who draws us into relationship by love, not by force or coercion. Christ is risen indeed. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rumble and Bonny

Rumble is now 15&1/2 years old, has survived one small and one massive stroke, and fallen into the pool seven times since we put the net on. A number of times we have thought she was on the way out, but she rallies each time - a 'hard core dog' in Paul's words. She enjoys being with in the same area of the garden as the other two, although she just lies around and keeps an eye on what is going on even when her eyes are closed. She still enjoys mealtimes, and eats standing up and then sitting down, and then lying down as in this picture - it is too much to stand until she has finished eating.
Bonny is probably going on for 1 year now - we got her from the SPCA in January and she was approx. 8months old then. Food time is very exciting, as can be seen by the eager, expectant look on her face - 'please, sir, can I have some more?' - as she looks to see what is going on in the kitchen. She is a Husky cross springbok - which comes out when she 'pronks' around when we carry her dish to her eating spot. It is still very hard for her to sit, wait, and 'shake hands' before diving into her food!
Bess is now middle dog, age wise, though top dog heirarchy wise. She is as sweet as ever, but just barks too much - a typical terrier trait. Her picture doesn't feature today!
Ah, the joys of pets.


No wonder it is called a 'Crane flower' - certainly looks like a crane (bird). This plant has been in our garden ever since we moved in over 15 years ago, and this is the second year that it has flowered. Normally one can expect them to flower after between 4 - 7 years, but this one took 14 years! Well worth the wait though.
One of the first research projects I was busy with after graduating was investigating conditions to enhance the germination of strelitzia seeds. I scarified them (sand papered on one side), then kept them in an oxygen rich environment in the dark (sort of fridge affair), at different temperatures, for differing lengths of time. Then sliced them with a micro knife machine thing (so long ago I can't remember it's name) and tested levels of some enzyme or the other using a staining technique.
The other project I worked on involved Drosera. Kept them in a lighted cabinet at stable temperature and fed them tiny bits of cheddar cheese, then ground them up and extracted an enzyme. Precision work.
I wonder what it was all for - what life-changing/ enhancing results were being sought? I can't help but believe that a lot of stuff that is investigated serves little, if any, purpose. But then, maybe my view is rather narrow?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fond Farewell

All my life I have been a lover of chocolate and ice-cream - and now I have to let that love die. Lent is a good time for it to happen, and an even better time for it to be a permanent death. I have officially entered the ranks of the Diabetes Type 2 community, so these sugar treats can no longer be treats for me. So the challenge is to wait and see what is resurrected from this death!! The diabetic products are, to my tastebuds, disgusting - so it is better to let go altogether and see what new thing pops up.
Fare thee well lunch-bars, smarties, top deck, bar one, and ps bars. Good-bye blueberry cheese cake, vanilla, KFC avalanche, Milky Lane, and Royal Danish Ice-Cream Parlour. Long have I loved thee, but now it is time for you to survive without me. I urge you with deep passion: continue to be faithful to your customers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Traditional Celebration

Yesterday I attended the traditional wedding of a couple who were married about three weeks ago. What a lovely, lively, colourful celebration and blending of cultures. When you put together Sotho, Sepedi, and Irish what else can you expect but a great party!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


She chooses to live alone.

She lives with pain, and is dependent on anti-inflammatories and pain-killers.
She is dependant on crutches to walk safely.
She cannot walk on rough terrain, so does not go into the garden.
She stays locked in the house because she might fall in the garden.
She is dependant on someone to help her wash and dress.
She is dependant on someone to drive her to the shops and bank.
She is dependant on her friends to visit her.
She is dependant on someone to take her to the doctor.
Her chemist does not deliver. She is dependant on someone to take her there.
She is alone and becoming more lonely.

But she doesn't want to give up her independence!
Or maybe it's just plain selfishness?

Passing the Buck

It happens a lot in business and in government/ politics and is characterised by people not wanting to take responsibility for decisions to be made and/or not wanting to be the one in the line of fire if something should 'go wrong'. Sometimes it may be understandable as a decision may need a multidisciplinary team to come to a consensus as to action to be taken or plan A, plan B etc to be formulated. But in the end, it is one person who needs to say: this is where we will start, and proceed according to what then arises from the situation. This is more of a sharing of the 'buck' than a passing of it.

However, when it comes to an individual's life, there really is no-one else who can take responsibility for how that life is to be lived. Which is why it is so difficult for adult children when an aged parent has not made, and refuses to make, plans for what action is to be taken as they become older and more frail, and refuses to acknowledge that the time for a higher level of care has arrived. This is the situation which I and my siblings are wrestling with at present. My mother says that her domestic helper, her friends, the church who keep an eye on her 'will know' when the time has come for her to have greater care or move to a semi-frail care facility. However a description of what that 'time' looks like is avoided. Ten years ago we asked what would happen when she could no longer drive - and now that that time has come, there is no plan in place. In the meantime, ten years have passed during which her domestic help (who is capable enough) could have learned to drive and been able to drive her around in her own car. So she is at the mercy of a neighbour to drive her in her own car. It is not the responsibility of others to 'know' when the time has come for a change to be made - particularly as it will be vehemently denied.

And so we keep the matter out in the open even though it is countered by aggression and emotion, and refuse to be side-tracked by diversions. The questions cause conflict, but the conflict needs to be faced and not avoided. We look for alternatives, and pray for a change of heart on her part to stop passing the buck of responsibilty for her own life and safety.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Seven Pounds

I saw this movie yesterday, starring Will Smith. It puts a whole new spin on the concept of giving one's life for others. Rather, he develops the theme of taking his life so that other's in great need will benefit and have better quality of life from what he gives them in the way of organs and property. Sadly, it's all from a sense of guilt.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Zuma for President

No comment needed - the picture speaks for itself.


Watch out for it!
Police say that the gang usually is comprised of four members, one adult and three younger ones. While the three younger ones, all appearing sweet and innocent, divert their 'mark' (or intended target) with a show of friendliness, the fourth -- the eldest -- sneaks in from behind the person's back to expertly rifle through his or her pocket or purse for any valuables. Be on the alert!!

This is a photo of a recent attack.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It looks quite pretty from a distance.
- and even from close up. Cute little mushrooms, one might say! But when you know that although they are growing on leaf mould, and that leaf mould is on top of termite mounds ...... then they cease to be pretty and are dug away together with the termite 'dagga' and disposed of. Little white mushrooms betraying little white ants - get rid of the lot. There are little black ants that have raided and annihilated the little white ants in the past, much to our delight. But then the question remains - what's to be done with the little black ants that have invaded and occupied the territory? Sounds like there's a story in there somewhere.

Ruled by numbers

Richard took his bicycle to Stellenbosch, and with it a chain to secure it. But the problem is, when he came to wanting to use the chain realised that he did not know and did not have the combination for the lock. So - emergency sms to mom! The codes I found did not work, so they obviously belong to other chains hidden away somewhere - and I cannot remember where else I might have noted codes. Unless it is the one that Paul discarded a while ago...... Is this another of Murphy's laws: as soon as you need a code you discover that it has been obliterated?

Then I got to thinking about all the passwords and codes and access things that we have to protect everything from bank accounts, to cell-phones, to internet social networks, to email, to burglar alarms at home and office and and and.... And all this to prevent or delay someone from stealing something from us. Maybe it's time to go back to living in the bush, wearing fig-leaves (or not).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Murphy's Law ++

Ned finds more sayings to add to Murphy's Law. The most recent one, applying to himself, is:
"If there is dog pooh lying anywhere, Ned will be the one to step in it". AAAARGH!!

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I saw this movie last monday - and was stunned at the ending. An event too awful to contemplate - but the consequence not really surprising when
- a drive for personal career advancement
- placing of mindless duty over accountable moral responsibility
- ignoring the reality that is playing out in one's backyard and under one's nose
- prejudice and
- evasion
encounters naivety and innocence.

We need to be reminded of the horrors of WW2 and the inhumanity of man to man. When supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, Genl. Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead. He did this because he said, in words to this effect: 'get it all on record now - get films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some b*stard will get up and say that this never happened'. These photos were taken in Germany by James Emison Chanslor, an Army Master Sergeant who served in World War II from 1942 until 1945. They are a stark reminder of the reality of the Holocaust.

I have heard that the UK has removed 'the Holocaust' from its school curriculum because it 'offended' the population adhering to the Islam faith, who claim that it never happened. I hope that this is not true, but I would not be surprised as it is more and more evident, from what we heard from friends in England on our recent visit there, that compromises are being made to the detriment of truth and long-held, Christian-based values in Britain.
On the 27th January commemorations were held in Brussels and in the U.S. of the holocaust, and were attended by survivors of the camps. This photo shows Nazi death camp survivors commemorating the 64th anniversary of the liberation from Auschwitz by the Red Army on 27 January 1945.
To see more check out here

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Meet Bonny, on the left - our 'adopted' Husky-cross-SPCA-special. She joined us yesterday (Saturday) after being spayed, vaccinated, dewormed, and 'tagged'. At about 8 months old she is bigger than Bess (our bull-terrier cross on the right), but will not grow too much bigger. Bess was rather subdued when Bonny arrived - not too sure how to respond. But today they are almost playing together. Rumble (our 15year old Labrador/ Dalmation) wisely keeps out of the way. She is too stiff and senile to take much notice of the other two anyway. Hopefully Bess and Bonny will be good companions for the next 12-15 years, or however long they live!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Customer Care

I am amazed. It is generally well-known that customer service in South Africa leaves much to be desired. Service doesn't seem to be a common word in any of our languages. I phoned a College at 10h30, and got a message on the answering machine: "We are having our tea break and cannot answer your call right now. Your call is important to us. Please leave your name and number.....". I put down the phone before the sentence was completed. I was pretty much dumb-struck!

Then a bit later our Youth Pastor, Kyle, phoned a camping venue to enquire about bookings for a weekend youth camp, to be told: "Yes we do have place that month. But I can't help you now coz I'm watching the cricket on TV. Please phone back later". He too was pretty dumb-struck!

What is it with our nation? Is it plain arrogance? or couldn't really care? or is it a case of 'I'm occupying a post and get paid anyway - so why should I put myself out for anyone?'. This kind of attitude does not bode well for our country, especially if we are trying to build the economy. Maybe we should hand over officially to the immigrants. They have come here to work and find a better life for themselves - lets give the country to them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Book

I am in print!
"There is at least one book in every person" - that's what I have been told. It has also been said to me on more than one occasion that I should WRITE. I never intended to - really don't like writing! However, for my birthday, my son Richard had my blog put in print - and here is the result. Surprised? - I certainly was!