Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another Week in South Africa

So another week in South Africa…. There was some good, some bad and some just plain mediocre.

Our compound is now full. All four houses have occupants. Two of the houses are occupied by US Aid, a single lady with a small dog and a family of 3, and the other is occupied by the Office of Regional Interests (a huge euphemism… but we can’t discuss it), a family of 4.

Monday found me with a few hours of free time, so I invited my neighbors over… but only one was able to come, for cappuccino (from our new coffee maker), and scones, hot from the oven; while I waited for the possible delivery of my Air Shipment. You have no idea how surprised I was when the guard at the gate called to see if I was expecting the delivery and on time too!!! So it is here! There are some different clothes, our down comforter and some pillows, a few of my kitchen knives, a sharpening stone and large cutting board, some much needed dog toys, leads and bowls, along with my Janome sewing machine, fabric, projects and miscellaneous tools. The Good!

All the houses are NEW, as in just completed in July. On Tuesday, I was picking up the pile of dirty laundry (the basket had been downstairs with another load), when out of the corner of my eye I spied movement. A Roach. A large adult roach that wasn’t moving very fast for daylight. So as soon as an office was open/staffed at the embassy I called. Said the house was new and I had a roach. So they sent out a pest control specialist to evaluate the problem. I think it started with the big leak in the master bathroom. But an exterminator will be here on Tuesday to deal with the creatures. It has been all I can do to not do some eradication on my own!!! The Bad!

Also on Tuesday, DH and a co-worker got down to business with the items we did not receive with our furnished House Hold goods… We didn’t have a lawnmower, (which won’t do us much good until the irrigation system is fixed), additional lawn/yard care tools, space heaters (which will just take up space until next winter), the top to the entertainment center and a decent vacuum cleaner. The vacuum I have been using did not SUCK or pick up anything other than hair. If I could see the item on the floor, (bit of dead grass, crumb, or sand), it would not pick it up! Now I have a ‘Karcher’ vacuum in the awful trademark Yellow that all their stuff is. The GOOD!

On Wednesday, DH went down to Durban for business, just an overnight trip. He had plans to meet up with some acquaintances and renew some business contacts while there. He took some friends out to dinner. The dinner wasn’t bad but the dessert was terrible. On Thursday morning we woke up to many mail messages thanking him for his order(s). The credit card he used to pay for dinner was skimmed, and the number sold on the Internet. So we spent the morning…. canceling the card. The Bad!!

On Monday, the DH leaves again. This will be his first extended away since we moved here. He may be gone for a bit more than a month or a bit less. Don’t know yet. We have been working hard to get me comfortable living here, so I am not stuck… plenty of $$ in the bank account, able to drive and get where I need to be and things to do.

Next week I plan to get some sewing done…. But my plans have a way of changing… Linzy is back to remedial housebreaking. So my time is in 1 to 1 1/2 hour increments – she is totally confined if she doesn’t do her business otherwise she gets to play for about an hour… and then back outside. But she is a very loving puppy and has picked me, so now I have 2 dogs…. Poor DH…

And one last note: While the US is going from summer to fall, South Africa is preparing for spring. I am seeing new buds and some leaves on trees and some different birds. Still not much in the way of pictures, but Higher Speed Internet is coming!!! Hopefully by Sept 1!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Local Shopping and Puppies

The busy week of Nothing ended on Saturday with a trip to a couple of Farmers Markets… here, in South Africa, it is all about the FOOD!!!

We hit the one in Hazelwood first. It’s in an upscale area of homes, and there were about 40 stalls of food; from bakeries to olives. We skipped the sweets, but I did get some olives that have been brined in red wine, rosemary and garlic. They are very mild in flavor, but tasty, of course that was at 8 in the morning… might not taste the same in a day or so. Most of the vendors had tastes of the food available… but again, at 8 in the morning… some just didn’t sound good. DH found a vendor that roasts his beans on Thursday and sells them on Saturday. Talk about fresh. At the market we also bought some (East) Indian Samoosa’s… (East Indian food), 4 flavors; chicken, a potato and cheese, cheese and onion and a cheese and corn. All were delicious!!! We also bought a dozen frozen (chicken), for another day. The other items we purchased were, package of granola, some peanut brittle, a chicken roll (completely deboned and stuffed with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese), and some fresh pesto too. While there DH suggested we split a jaffel. When I was a kid we made these when we were camping and called them Campfire Pies, and almost always made them sweet. These here are more savory, and the one we had was made of ground beef (mince) and spiced with curry- just a bit on the warm side for DH, but just about right for me.

I had a flyer about another outdoor market to the east of home, and since I wanted to see the another store out that way, we added the other market to the plan. It must be a new one, with fewer vendors and lots of junk/flea market stuff. Didn’t buy anything there… The one vendor I approached, bread, was stocking a rack and didn’t stop to answer my questions nor try to sell me anything so I left.

Next we went to the store. It’s called Makro and it is sort of a Sams Club/Costco….. -but- not really. You have have a membership, but it doesn’t cost anything. Stuff is warehouse shelved… and prices are a bit better than at regular stores. We did find a deal on some small appliances… so we picked up an iron, a toaster, an electric tea kettle, a coffee grinder and a coffee/espresso maker and a few other odds and ends. These items will replace the appliances provided by the welcome kit.

On Sunday we took Linzy back to her home grounds for some training, actually just down the road a bit from her former home. It is a German Shepherd Club, and the only breed of dogs you see there are GSD. It is about obedience and Schutzhund training. Saw some fabulous specimens of the breed. Next week , I plan to get there early enough to find the shadiest place to park the car so I can kennel Linzy for a bit in the shade -then I can take some pictures of the dogs working. I saw 2 dogs that were doing the ‘bark and hold’ and the fierceness of the face is something to behold, (and they think they are only playing).Today, Linzys breeder was there, so she totally lost interest in me, so our training session ended early. It also did not help that I fed her breakfast, she was not hungry either. We will have to do most of it at home… She was doing spectacularly until, Dee arrived… and after hearing Dee, Linzy was only looking for a way to get to her, darn. I had been working with her a bit during the week with the “sit” command, which she has down. And since yesterday have been working on the lie “down” which she is doing… but only after a reminder as to what ‘down’ means. I will need to leave Axel in the house to work on the come and stay commands. He would be too much of a distraction… especially since she is teething and wants to play more than work.

Today I must see about finding a shortcut to High Speed Internet. The person(s) at the Embassy that are responsible for getting the “Data” switch turned on with Telkom have changed the story from 5 days to whenever! So I will be contacting 2 companies that will least the lines as part of the package and see which can get the job done fastest. It’s not a matter of cost anymore!!! We must have the Internet!

One other note… about living here. The agency my DH works for provides a work vehicle, not many of the agencies do that… partially because they work exclusively in an office setting and DH must be out in the community. So of the 4 families in the compound (all the houses have residents now, and I don’t know much about them yet), we are the only one with our own ‘privately owned’ vehicle too. Here cars are still a privilege to own… and are rather expensive compared to the US prices for the same vehicle. We purchased ours, (2006 Hyudai Tucson), from a departing diplomat before we left the states, so it was waiting for us when we got here. Having at least one dog at the time, we certainly couldn’t transport him around in the “G-Ride”

Hopefully… I will be able to report that the Air Shipment arrived on-time and in good order in my next post!!!

More Later- Beth

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Busy Week of Nothing...

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity and no results for the effort. When you have a puppy, housebreaking and scheduling are the BIG jobs. Linzy is learning, but not as fast as Axel did. Not sure why. Could be that I am not able to contain her to a single room… so she can sometimes wander out of sight. Fortunately the floor is tile. The other part is getting used to being on call and watch … remembering to take her out about every 60 minutes and monitoring what she does.

She is very smart. She has already learned to sit and drop it. She sleeps in her kennel, and likes it well enough to just get in. Most nights we get to the wee hours before she wants to go out. Sometimes we need to go out around midnight or at 5. So my days are starting really early, even though I don’t get much done.

We thought we were going to have a really big problem. Axel for the first 2 days was great… but then he had a change of heart and was not happy to have another dog in the house and gave her grief every time she came near him. It was bad enough that I thought we were going to have to send Linzy back. But something changed again and Axel is back to being the great dog he is.

So we have been here in the house for nearly a month and in Africa for almost 7 weeks. Do we have our Air shipment yet? NO. On Friday morning we got an email wondering if we were aware that our stuff was here and had been in South African Customs long enough to begin accruing storage fees. What? I have been emailing the person at the Embassy responsible for this for at least 2 weeks, maybe more. And all I have gotten in response “is that it takes time” and the last we heard maybe delivery in the middle of next week, but she would let us know. Well we didn’t take that sitting still. We sent an email to the company that moves it through Customs asking where it was and lo and behold, it could have been delivered Friday afternoon, but I was not home, so they are telling us Monday at 10 a!!! It will be like Christmas.

I have been trying to remember what is in the 3 very large boxes. Ok I know I packed toiletries, personal medications (vitamins and supplements), some books, clothes, towels, my down comforter and cover, some dog toys, bowls, gates, and my sewing machine and projects that were supposed to keep me sane!!! It’s too late for that. We have a preliminary date for the Sea Shipment as 9/23… but we’ll just have to wait and see. No bets though

On Sunday we will be taking Linzy back to Jo’burg to spend the day with the German Shepherd club- where we may participate in some of the exercises. The breeder thinks that she will do well in the show ring… so we will give it a try and see. DH will be going out of town for about 3 weeks so it will help fill up the time.

Well that’s about all for now, of course since we still don’t have high speed Internet, so no pictures … but as always there will be more later.


Monday, August 9, 2010

A New Family Member

Not quite sure what possessed my DH. But he decided that WE wanted another dog. He was undecided about the breed until just recently. Like last night. His first trip to South Africa he was introduced to the South African breed of mastiff called the Boerbul. You can find more information on the breed here . I have met a few of the breed and they are a nice dog, but they don’t make my heart sing. But if that was the dog my DH wanted then that is the breed we would have gotten.

See I came with a dog to the relationship. A 5 pound Yorkie; a Foo-Foo dog. He was MY dog until he met my DH and then he changed his allegiance -the only person that would do for him was the DH. I only counted when the DH was gone. That little guy lived for 15 ½ years. In the meantime I also acquired a cat (Spaz), and we had another dog or two (rescues). And then we got Axel. While we were both in on the deciding… Axel was my dog to train and house break, etc. The housebreaking went very well, and the training… well he knows what we’re saying, but doesn’t always DO, and when I leave the house he lays by the backdoor waiting for me to come home. DH says he mopes.

So after all the expenses of Axel, and they are ongoing due to his allergies, DH decided we needed another dog. So we had a lead on an excellent breeder. She had 2 females (3 months and 5 months) and a litter due later in the month. We had already decided on an older pup and when we saw her - well he fell for the 3 month old, actually we both did.

Meet Linzy.

They are both German Shepherd Dogs. Axel is more of a ‘working’ look, think guard or police and our new one is the more traditional GSD, and they are really different than the ‘work’ model, although… she is pretty enough to show and maybe trained in Schutzhund, see more here , which we just might try.

To our surprise Axel has been the model surrogate parent/friend to the pup. He has always been rather selfish with his toys (never gives them willingly), rambunctious and protective of me. But he has been patient; curious and most surprising of all very giving with all of the toys. He has been so very calm it’s scary. Due to the size and weight difference, they have not been allowed to play off lead together, but we have let them interact freely in the house, but under supervision.

I hope the integration continues to go smoothly, and they become fast friends. One of them will be undergoing a certain surgery in the very near future. Not sure if it will be Axel or Linzy.

As to the names- I generally don’t go for naming pets with people names, but he was an A -litter dog and his name needed to start with the letter ‘A’… Apple, Arnold, Axis, Ace – NO they just didn’t sound right. Axel… came up and we were in a car… so … Axel -is for a car part… the Axel o f the car. His full name is Axel vom Barnhart; and if we had the opportunity to name the new dog… it would have also been a car part or a car. But she came with Linzy and she responds to it well enough, that it will stick.

So now we have Axel and Linzy, both people-ish names….

More Later!  Beth

Sunday, August 1, 2010

All About Quilting!!!

Friday was the Pretoria Piecemakers get together. We met at Sakuras home. She is a delightfully, warm and sweet person. She always arrives at all the meetings with food in hand, and so far I have enjoyed every bite!!! I would love to get to know her better. But alas she will be leaving in September too. For our lunch she make a seafood Risotto and a huge tossed green salad.

front-Sakura, Mishi (Agnes' son) & Lea
back-Agnes, Marian, Jan & Dee
Agnes will also be leaving too, (Sunday). We met at her home for my first meeting. She served some awesome foods too. I am sure we will miss some of the treats when she leaves as well. Agnes has a wonderful sense of color and texture and made a wonderful necklace from beads at the last bee.

We have been asked by Jan, (she will be returning to the States soon too), to bring 5” squares of fabric to trade. Of course I don’t have any suitable fabrics with me… so I will need to purchase some. I think the swapping of 5” charm squares will become a tradition among the Piecemakers.

Earlier this week -(Tuesday), a neighbor lady stopped by to say hello and welcome an American Quilter to South Africa. She brought with her a piece of Shwe Shwe, (sha way sha way), a piece of South African fabric, with a note attached with her phone number and an invitation to drop in sometime for a chat. Talk about a small world… she lives on the same street (see below about the street), as I do. Her name is Susara, and used to live in the house that used to be on this lot, while waiting for their new house to be completed. She belongs to the Pretoria Guild called the Jacaranda Quilters. She got my name and address from another lady that also belongs to the Jacaranda Quilters that I have been corresponding with via email since I first landed here. Her name is Corrianne and I will be meeting with her soon too. Susara hosts a small bee that meets on Wednesday evening and I have been invited to drop in next week!!! I I sure do wish I had something work on. I suspect I will be done with the Snap Sack project soon.

The street we live on used to be a circle… enter on one end and loop around and exit on to the same street you entered from a little further on. Well at some point the Homeowners on the loop, decided to make it a gated community, so only one end of the loop is open to traffic. The whole loop is about ¼ mile in length. You must enter through a boom gate with a guard, and visitors must fill out an entry into a log book. So, we feel very secure in our neighborhood, between the community gate with a guard and our own gate and sentry!!! Speaking of guards, while Jan and I were out and about the other day, they came and posted the ‘Guarded by’ signs in the compound.

I have found an interesting design inspiration… on my outdoor table. Can’t you just envision this design quilted?

As Always, there will be more later!!!