Mom’s Day

Jess picked the flowers, Tom did the braai. We had chops, ribs and wors with garlic bread, plus some fried beans and mushrooms. I had beer and vino. We raised a glass to Mom!

Cockroach Thermidor

Oh, I do love this! When you do careful examination of DNA you find out where animals – and all living things – fit in the Tree of Life. You’ll also find the old tree we learnt with ‘humans’ proudly at the top as the crowning glory, was done before we knew much about DNA.

And it is sometimes very surprising. For example, when Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist started classifying birds according to their genetic code, they found this bird on the right:

American wren – Australian wren

. . is more closely related to an Australian crow than it is to the bird on the left! They look and behave the same due to convergent evolution. Same with the next two: Look the same; only distantly related in the bird world:

Great Auk – North Atlantic – – – Penguin – South Atlantic

So for decades and centuries ornithologists knew the two birds were related as they had the same beaks and the same habits, so you can imagine some of them were none too pleased to be told in 1988 by relative newbies that what they thought – heck, what they ‘knew’ – was wrong!

Just like zoologists had known for a long time that mammals in Australia had evolved to fit various niches. These two are more closely related to each other than they are to dogs or squirrels:

thylacine and sugar glider – both marsupials

And so we come to the even more recent discovery: That cockroaches are crustaceans.

Not only should we eat insects as a better way of producing protein, we should charge higher prices for them! The menu at my new restaurant will feature in future – Cockroach Thermidor SQ

crustaceans

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Breakfast on the Deck

Egg, bacon, tomato, black coffee and binoculars. Thanks, Cecelia!

The flying ants were trying to pair up and scurry off and mate after shrugging off their wings, but the ants were nabbing them. The ants, in turn were being robbed by the birds and a skink. They’d grab the juicy termite, flick hard, separating the ant, then peck up and gobble down the termite. Termites taste like butter, ants taste like acid.

westville wildlife

Indoors there was also some wildlife to be seen:

westville wildlife indoors

Made me late for work!

More this week:

The raucous Westville Kookaburra
Dragonfly with a point-n-shoot camera
The dreaded Westville Pteradactyl

Westville Kookaburra – Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Westville Pteradactyl – Hadeda Ibis

16 Ivy Road

Mom was on furlough from the home – Azalea Gardens. Sheila fetched her and Barbara, Linda, Tholo and the two terrors Mary-Kate and Dawie and I joined them at 16 Ivy Road in Lincoln Meade, Pietermaritzburg.

What a lovely day – a great lunch, fun with the kids and ending with a surprise: ancient movies from our youth taken in the sixties with Dad’s 8mm movie camera. Sheila had arranged and paid for hours of old footage to be put on a memory stick! Dad says he had a small Canon movie camera first; I only remember his Eumig camera.

As we were leaving Tholo spotted a birds nest right above the car door with two little chicks begging, and showed Mary-Kate.

Linda lifted Mary-Kate up high and she took the world’s best picture for a five-year-old!

After everyone left I waited till I could spot the mother: a Cape White Eye.

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See the top pic: When the old man moved out of earshot – which means six inches away – Linda murmured to me sotto voce, ‘Here’s the man always telling others to get dressed early mornings: still in his jarmies at noon.’

Giving advice he’s good at.

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A Splendid Wedding

Raksha Singh had a magnificent full Hindu wedding, and me and Jess were invited! I did a bit of homework as the only other one I’d attended was probably fifteen years ago:

Marriages are made in heaven. Once you are married, the bond is to last for seven lifetimes. Hindu weddings can be long, and various rituals may be held on different days. Every custom and practice in a wedding ceremony has deep philosophical and spiritual significance.  Hindu traditions of marriage vary, but some form of them take place throughout the world.

Raksha and Pratish looked magnificent sitting on stage in the center of the mandap, or wedding altar. A fire burnt brightly in an altar in front of them. The bride’s brother gave her popcorn as a wish for his sister’s happy marriage. Each time, she offered the popcorn to the fire, an offering known as a homam. I kept thinking Don’t let her clothes catch fire! especially when they did The Seven Steps, getting nearer to the fire with each step!

The traditional white horse the groom would arrive on is more often a motorcar these days, and Pratish arrived in a very noble steed: A white Merc 6.3 AMG!

But Raksha trumped him! She arrived in a McLaren 650s – much to Tommy’s awe when I sent him this picture:

The food was delicious and plentiful and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I had the lucky job of keeping five ladies company: Jess, Prenisha and Yandisa from work, Raksha’s colleagues; Prenisha in a Hindi outfit, Yandisa in a Xhosa outfit and Jess in a Dress! plus Seema and her daughter were also at our table. It really was an awesome day.

Prenisha, Jessica & Yandisa


Wednesdays! Tom Cooks!

Tom_Cooks_Jul2018_2[1]

On Wednesdays always something new. Tonight Porterhouse, mushroom, roast potato and um, something green. Cecelia had hers delivered to her room; Jess and I had personal service too.

Yum!

Oddballs, Then and Now

Its gone wimpish! Actually Oddballs Palm Island Luxury Lodge is still a wonderful, more affordable way to see the Okavango Delta and this post must be taken with a pinch of salt; My tongue is in my cheek;

This is classic “The Good Old Days Was Better” bulldust. As my friend Greg says, ‘The older we get the better we were.’

When WE went ca. 1990 we had to take our own food! But because there’s a 10kg limit on the Cessna 206’s and because one naturally has to take binoculars, a telescope, a tripod, a sleeping bag and books:

Jess Zululand Course Books

I exaggerate, these were Jessie’s books for her field guide course last year, but still: weight. So we took very little food. At Oddballs we bought their last potatoes and onions and then we pitched our tent. Not like these wimpish days when the tent is pitched for you on a wooden deck with shower en-suite!! We were like this:

OddballsOkavango (14 small)
Good Old Oddballs

Communal showers:

Yes, actually, Oddballs IS a luxury lodge!

Nowadays New Oddballs is soft and squishy:

New Oddballs
New Oddballs

Here’s Aitch in the Old Oddballs Palm Island Luxury Lodge – and the wimpish new arrangement!

Luckily, the rest is still the same! You head out on a mekoro with a guide who really knows his patch:

OddballsOkavango makoro

You pitch your own tent on an island without anyone else in sight:

OddballsOkavango Squirrel Camp

And you enjoy true wilderness. When you get back, Oddball really does seem like a Palm Island Luxury Lodge:

Oddballs (5)

There’s a bar, there’s ice and cold beer, gin and tonic. You can order a meal! And – NOWADAYS! – a double bed is made up for you, ya bleedin’ wimps!

Go there (or here) NOW!!