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Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

– this swanepoel family –

My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer!

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

~~~oo0oo~~~

Note: I go back to my posts to add / amend as I remember things and as people mention things, so the posts evolve. I know (and respect) that some bloggers don’t change once they’ve posted, or add a clear note when they do. That’s good, but as this is a personal blog with the aim of one day editing them all into a hazy memoir, this way works for me.

I Found Neil’s Slides!

I wrote a while ago how I found Neil. Well, now I found boxes of Neil’s old Kodak slides in a shoe box in Janet’s kist.

So now to digitise some of them for Janet. Here’s my quick and easy hack for doing it: Phone camera on macro setting, PC screen as a lit backdrop, juggle till you’re focused – make sure there’s nothing but white as a backdrop – and fire!

– with macro you go much closer –
– now you crop the pic using the cellphone software –

. . and here are a few of the results. I have posted a lot over at the Humphrey Family blog.

Here’s Neil’s kit:

At first the slides were 99% of cute little twin girls, but gradually as they grew up he started taking pics of other things! Eventually it was down to only 80% cute little twin girls:

Who knows what car that is? Click on the ferry pic and see if you can ID Neil’s car in the early 1960s. Probably a late 50s model?

Quick and easy method. I’m sure there are better ways, but getting round to it . . . This way they’re saved and available.

~~oo0oo~~

Botswana Flood

Back in the winter of 2020 we tracked the approaching Okavango flood. Now here’s news of the summer rains. Up in the North East of Botswana, Pandamatenga had over 200mm of rain in about one day! As with the flood footage, this comes from Janet in Maun, via her network up there. This time her friend who farms outside Panda.

– the road between Pandamatenga and Kasane –

This water has fallen in the Zambesi catchment, so it will run off to the NE, cross the Zimbabwe border north of Hwange game reserve, flow into the Matetsi river and then into the Zambezi below Vic Falls. The flood will benefit nature, but we will complain it has ruined our ventures. But floods like this are a normal occurrence, though possibly higher than usual as we are changing our climate faster than we can cope with.

Fascinating stuff! That area can be dry as anything, but periodically it can get inundated showing us what it is: A floodplain, a drainage course. This is clearer when looking at it from high above. See the google earth view. It looks like a lake now because of changes we have wrought, such as building up the road, effectively damming the drainage course.

– see the cultivated fields in the drainage course –

~~oo0oo~~

Here’s a pic taken by Janet’s Dad Neil out of a plane window of the kind of rain dump / cloudburst that can dump so much rain all at once:

Project Management

So the garage door was falling to pieces. Made of strips of aluminium riveted to a frame the rivets had mostly popped and it was flapping in any breezes that wafted.

Something had to be done.

So I waited a few months. And a few storms, for enhanced flapping.

Then I bleated to a project manager who sprang into action, roared off to a hardware store, bought some self-tapping screws and gave them to me along with his automatic, hydromatic, self-propelling, variable speed, battery-operated 14.4Volt hand-held Bosch Power Drill. With star bit for screwing screws with star heads.

He obviously hadn’t understood what I wanted.

So I waited.

Then I told Ziggy, ‘When you’re finished tidying the garage let me know. I need to repair the broken door.’ And sowaar, my patience was rewarded: ‘Why don’t you let Mbono do that? He’s very handy with man things,’ she said.

Now usually I would stop my daughters in their tracks with my standard, ‘Hey! Anything a man can do a woman can do too,’ but I listened and I shurrup. ‘OK’ I said and gave him the screws and a Spanish screwdriver (Manuel).

Mbono fixed the door in no time. Like greased lightning, it was hydromatic, automatic. I was going to post before and after pics here – too late.

So to end this lecture on project management: For suitable tasks all you need is to find one tame project manager and one tame matriculant from Northwood Boys. Then expertly source – or delegate the sourcing of – a bit of equipment and it’s actually quite easy.

~~oo0oo~~

sowaar – true’s Bob

Don’t Ask the Heathen!

I drove off to get some space and peace, and found out it’s hard to be on the road. Every space is taken. You can’t stop on the road and you really shouldn’t stop on the pavements. Nor should you block the few pull-over lanes the new South Africa made for taxis. But it was early Sunday morning, so I pulled into a lane that taxis can use outside St Elizabeth’s Church, not far from home. Who was Elizabeth, I wondered? And how do you become a saint? Do you have to be as evil as Mother Teresa?

So I’m sitting and thinking when a car cruises up slowly and stops opposite me. I wave and carry on with what I’m not doing when he winds down his window and I twig he wants to ask me something. He’s neatly dressed and the lady next to him is dressed for church. Lovely friendly-looking people who the Nats would have classified ‘Coloured’ – and the ANC kept these damned fake classifications! Under RACE in govt forms everyone should write NOT RUNNING.

‘Do you know what time the service is?’ he asks. Oh heck, no, I’m sorry, I’m a heathen. I wouldn’t have a clue, I tell him. It’s Anglican, right? I ask him. He says ‘Yes,’ smiling. His wife peers at me, interested, I think. Maybe: ‘So THAT’s what they look like!?’ They drive off and park to watch the church. A few minutes later someone drives into the church parking lot and they follow that car – hopefully to get a more useful answer.

~~oo0oo~~

Hawaan Forest

There’s a beautiful patch of coastal forest left in Durban, hanging on as development happens all around it. Strolling around in the forest and on the fringe with sister Sheila and friend Jules, we heard a host of birds, saw a few and took pics of a few of the plants and creatures that would sit still.

– Variable Diadem on the lawn –
– Dideric Cuckoo tries to enter a Red Bishop nest –
– where’s that blerrie cuckoo? –
– alive with All Things Bright and Beautiful –
– the reed frog chorus is a delight –
Also – All things dull and ug-ga-ly
All creatures short and squat . .

~~oo0oo~~

Next visit we walked through the forest to the deck overlooking the river.

– under the canopy – the best kind of cathedral –

~~oo0oo~~

How much?

Jess phoned from Folweni:

Dad, I see Sheila posted on facebook that it’s your Dad’s birthday.

Oh, yes love, 98 hey!

Dad! He’s 99. You don’t even know how old your Dad is!

Ah, you’re right, 99. How old is your Dad, Jess?

Erm . . . um, I don’t know!

I had a hearty chuckle at that!

Dad! Why’re you laughing!? I’m laughing at YOU, my Jess!

OK, Jess – so how old is my Dad? 99. Right, turn that upside down, how much is that? 66. CORRECT!

Oh, are you 66 Dad? That’s right my girl. Clickety click.

And there endeth the maths lesson.

~~o00o~~

A-Frogging We Will Go!

Old English nursery rhyme song:

A frog he would a-wooing go,
Heigh ho! says Rowley,
A frog he would a-wooing go,
Whether his mother would let him or no.
With a rowley, powley*, gammon, and spinach,
Heigh ho! says Anthony Rowley.

Like all good nursery rhymes, they all came to a bloody end. Dead, the lot of them, by the end of the rhyme. And they’re for children, of course, so there’s mention of spinach! See all the words here.

Aitch and I enjoyed some lovely frogging outings in our courting days and pre-children days. Sometimes with Barry & Lyn Porter at their three main ‘patches,’ Hella Hella (Game Valley Estates), inland of Port Shepstone (the litchi farm) and Betty’s Bay (which Barry’s father donated to the nation for a nature reserve), but the two of us ‘frogged’ all over the place, filling in data for the frog atlas by ADU at UCT’s Fitztitute. We had a lot of fun doing that. We felt lucky, we had an early GPS.

– me and Barry frogging inland of Port Shepstone on ‘the litchi farm’ –

Top ‘feature’ pic: A red-banded Rubber Frog I caught in me underpants on Malachite Camp – a shortlived venture in Zululand by the Mala Mala crowd. Here’s the frog again, and the tuft he was calling in:

Sonderbroek frogging as sometimes the vlei was quite deep. Whistling catcalls would emanate from the Landrover. That woman!

~~o00o~~

sonderbroek – sans culotte; trousers off

vlei – marsh; wetland

Mfolosi

Useful to top up your salt intake every so often by sticking your tongue in your nostril. Must practice that.

Mpila camp’s ‘safari tents’ are great. Comfy with all modcons, own kitchen and en-suite semi-outdoor bathroom. It’s walled in with reeds, like the kitchen wall you see here, but only to shoulder height – above that, it’s open to the outdoors under the big canvas roof. It’s a treat. A Purple-banded Sunbird sang to me as I showered. No pictures.

While photographing these ‘acacia’ flowers (must get the real name – maybe Senegalia?) this biggish weevil or snout beetle dropped into my hand. I’ll ask iNaturalist.org to identify both the plant and its weevil. Otherwise it would be like I saw no weevil.

– a Wahlberg’s Eagle and a Yellow-billed Kite share a perch –

A slender mongoose made a breakfast appearance at a waterhole. If anything was nesting in there, they were egg and toast, as she inspected every nook and cranny.

Driving along, an oft-heard sound and a not-often-seen sighting:

– a very obliging Black Cuckoo calls ‘I’m So Sick!’ –

At the hide (must add the name – Bhejane?) I saw the lovely Mocking Cliff Chat, Lesser Striped Swallows, Village Weavers building nests and a Hadeda Ibis pulling down their new nests around its nest! A Diederik Cuckoo was calling, probably waiting to get into those weaver nests. This hide looks out over a waterfall – dry today:

At another waterhole a bird flew past as my little Canon snapped a 3-shot burst:

I took a new route home, exiting the Cengeni gate in the south-west of the park and heading for Ulundi, Melmoth and Eshowe. Right outside the gate exiting the Umfolozi Big Five Game Reserve there’s this puzzling sign:

– or turn around and go back fifty metres! –

I asked the man at the gate, How far to Ulundi? 37km. I asked him, And how is the road? and he got all coy, hummed and hah’d a bit, then blurted, “but it is a tar road.” It wasn’t too bad. A fairly normal look-sharp neglected tar road as we’re used to.

If I still had Marguerite Poland’s book on the isiZulu descriptive names of Nguni cattle I’d tell you how this beast on the way to Ulundi would be described:

– something like ‘she lifts her black dress to cross the river, revealing her white petticoat’ –

I’ll go back to Mfolosi. Soon, though. Before it also loses all its grasslands to bush encroachment.

~~o00o~~

Hluhluwe Grasslands

Gone.

I enjoyed my stay in Hluhluwe. I stayed in Hilltop camp in the old rondawels that were built in the fifties or sixties. About sixty years ago.

– same view – 1966 and 2021 –

They’re very comfy now, with a ceiling fan, big cupboard, fridge, cutlery and crockery and cooking utensils, power points, lights, washbasin with hot water, kettle. And aircon. The bed linen was luxurious, fresh and clean and seemed brand new. The kitchen and ablution building is shared by all. The shower had hot water.

I spent both days there in the camp, no driving. The bushy hills where once there was grassland is not a good sight, so I elected to walk the camp forest – much of which was also once grassland!

Top right the Tassleberry tree has the most tassles I ever saw. Bottom right the Grewia shows why its called a crossberry. Click on them for a better look.

A beautiful old paperbark Commiphora had an interesting hole-in-the-bole, so I zoomed in: Bees, honeycombs and a butterfly that went back again and again despite the bees buzzing her.

Some flowers I lazily havent yet identified:

– crested francolin – beautiful feather patterns –
– one European Roller on an interesting branch –

As I said, I enjoyed Hluhluwe, but I don’t think I’ll go back in a hurry. The disappearance of the grasslands ruins it for me. I wonder if there’s an eco management plan for Hluhluwe?

~~oo0oo~~

R.I.P Yandiswa Luphondo

She was so so special. Cheeky, irreverent, bright as a button, she’d done her bachelor degree in psychology and had just heard she’d passed her honours. Next year she was going to do her Masters, on her way to becoming the clinical psychologist she would have been so good at. Many people would have benefited from consulting with this special lady. She could tease me like few others, and she was wonderful with my kids when they helped out in the practice.

Yandiswa worked for us whenever she could between her studies and raising her little three year old daughter Thia. Whattapleasure to have known her. She was a huge asset to the practice and to us all personally. Astute as well as irreverent she would grin, cock her head to one side and say something that put her finger exactly on what was bothering you, distracting you or amusing you.

And now she’s gone, just twenty five years old. We met her lovely parents for the fist time and could share some of our sorrow and our admiration for their daughter with them. We miss her keenly, as do they. We still haven’t come to grips with her loss.

~~oo0oo~~

In the picture, Yandiswa is in a beautiful traditional Xhosa outfit, Jessica is in red and I’m in my element – at Raksha’s wedding. Prenisha took the photo. Happier days

Mkhuze Mini-Break

Lovely three nights in Mantuma Camp at Mkhuze game reserve in Zululand. Nothing much happened, animals were not plentiful, the grasslands are still sadly bush-encroached, but the birds, insects and plants more than made up for that. So as not to moan about Homo sapiens vaaliensis polluting the lovely hides with farting, phone calls, smoking and loud shutter clicks of the cameras with more computing power than their owners, I have politely refrained from commenting and instead played some games with the rather ordinary pictures I took with my phone and my pocket Canon. Enjoy!

I dunno what he saw in there, but he was making an awful racket for a long time – snake maybe?
  • this tiny little spider on my rearview mirror elongated himself to look like a mini octopus when I came too close –

At last an ele in Mkhuze! I was beginning in the last few years to think there weren’t any left. There must be very few, anyway.

– Chiromantis xerampelina –

At Kumahlala hide, after an hour of being alone and quiet, the Foam Nest Frogs started up a chorus. Took a while, but I found one up on a twig just outside the hide and got a pic of him. I wish I had thought to tape their call – a lovely loud chorus – I’d guess about four of them doing a fine barbershop quartet! Here’s a shy soloist:

Then I heard a new sound:

– thanks, Cliff and Suretha Dorse on biodiversity focused website

Found a new frog! I went through my frog calls: A Rhythmic Caco – Cacosternum rythmum. I must look for a picture of one. I couldn’t find him in the flooded grass in the waterhole. He is little over a centimetre long, mind you. Another name for them is Dainty Frogs.

Sunset at Masinga Waterhole: The sun sets behind the big old Boerbean tree that was probably already there when I first visited ‘Mkuzi’ in 1965. The hide wasn’t here then. The famous Bube hide was the ‘in place’ then, just a few hundred metres away (north, I think).

– very little water – full of green algae –

Driving out of the park to go home, a bushveld scene: Stripes and horns and a few egrets hanging around, hoping for some disturbance to happen. I ”shopped’ in the lily into the foreground, as it was lonely in its own picture with nothing around it. And it was nearby . .

~~oo0oo~~

Like a Bucket of Prawns

I’m off!

Or I thought I was. Packed the hebcooler, the book box, the camera bag – now huge with two tripods and a new spotting scope (the main toy to be tested out at Mkhuze’s hides!). Food. Ice bricks from the freezer, the lot. Having been a critic when Jess forgot things, I went through my mental checklist. Nah, I’m sure I have it all.

Oh, clothes and toiletries. OK. Coffee. Right. Charcoal. First aid kit.

Loaded the whole lot in the car then remembered I had undertaken to get my will signed, witnessed and courier’d today. Did that, then had to arrange a locum optometrist to work for us – quick! before he changes his mind! Did that, then remembered I’d arranged to meet the lady who sold all my furniture for final payment. Did that. Then Gugu texted me: Can the girls come for a swim this afternoon in my newly cleaned sparkling blue pool? That did it.

I unpacked, back in the deep freeze and fridge. I’ll leave tomorrow. Early start. The three young ‘uns had a noisy, fun swim, chips and red cooldrink. Perfect day.

~~o00o~~

1988 Albums

The big old album is hitting the recycling bin. I have recorded all the pictures.

Home after our lo-ong honeymoon and some surprise welcomes:

Also in 1988 we had a big optometry conference in Durban. As part of the hosting committee I produced a daily newsletter. Then I became president of the optometric association at the end of the conference.

Friends at the conference – and an induction (Brauer says they induced me):

I dragged some non-canoeing friends out to the Umgeni Valley. I wanted to see the valley for a last time before Inanda Dam drowned it forever. The river was rather shallow – um, VERY shallow! We dragged for miles!

We visited the folks in Harrismith, clambered the slopes of Platberg and sang around the piano:

Bernie & Karen Garcin got married in Empangeni – George Stainton and I were his best men.

In between all the scurrying we lived in our lovely Whittington Court one-bedroom apartment in Marriott Road, and I think I occasionally did a bit of work. Sheila reminded me that she lived there for two years after we bought our house in Westville.

Another of our frequest visits to Hella Hella. And a visit to the Hills on Melrose farm, Mid Illovo.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Reed-Swanepoel Criminology

On 2013/06/19, steve reed wrote:

Just had a criminal come into the practice and scoop up six Oakley sunglasses and run for it. Dropped one on the way out. Seventy year old Genevieve let him have her shrillest STOP THIEF! and did a ten metre dash after him. Yours truly emerged from the testing room and did . . NOTHING. Well, maybe I did a half-hearted five metres in the general direction well after the incident, but hadn’t a clue what to do.

A lady out in the car park did though. She saw him hot footing and took his number plate when he drove off. At least someone was ‘speronsible’ as Zunckel would put it. Problem is, the cops have got their hands quite full out that way, what with a couple of shootings, murders etc.  
What IS this place coming to?

pete swanepoel wrote: Hey! Some action. Jolly good! (Another Pat Bean-ism).

I think what you did was EXACTLY the right thing. Delay, go slow, emerge cautiously, look concerned, ask after the staff’s well-being, call the security ous.

What!? Physically apprehend the culprit!? Not a bliksem. You think he sterilises his knife? Uh uh.

Standing instructions to my people: You hand over EVERYTHING. You let them have the lot. Everything. Don’t look them in the face. Tell the insurance.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve again: Agree the thinking thing to do is let the poor old shoplifters take the stuff. What are you actually going to DO wif dem if you do perform a perfectly executed ankle tap in the shopping centre or car park? Lie on top of em?
BUT Genevieve! The Slovenian! She is different! She would have gone after him! We have good laughs however. She is teaching me about Slovenian cooking. In a previous life she was a commercial caterer. Brings me dubious bits of food to try and I have introduced her to Mrs Balls chutney with which she is most impressed. 

~~~oo0oo~~~

‘Speronsible’ reminds me of Zunckel on the crossbar of my bicycle on the way to the golf club (while the school wished he was playing tennis and me rugby), singing “Let the spidnight m-ecial , line a hell of a lot of shite on me”

~~~oo0oo~~~