Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Observation and more

White Icelandic Poppy

Last night, and several others since we have been here, I have noticed how quiet it is at night. I don’t mean the lack of city sounds. There are plenty of those; dogs barking, cars- horns and doors, music, and police sirens. The part that is missing, especially after living in the Chicago area, is planes in the night sky. No colored dots, red and green, zooming across the heavens taking travelers from place to place. No wondering if the white light is a star or not. No big planes way up high or little planes a bit lower buzzing toward a small airport. No planes heading for O’Hare or Midway….

During the day I hear maybe one or two jumbo jets… maybe a small private craft or a Leer Jet. Most often- I hear the South African Air Force, but they are mostly during the day.

Hibiscus Stamen

And as promised some pictures…. Strewn through the post and they have nothing to do with the post… just pretty. Remember for a larger view... just click on the picture.

Pink Hibiscus


a common Butterfly

Yesterday I had to go to the Embassy. I have applied for a job, (about a month ago), interviewed and gotten one. Not exactly sure what I will be doing… but it’s part time and will give me a perspective on working in a Mission… and some of the goings on! And maybe the job I really want… will come along… or not. I had to fill out some paperwork and be finger printed… I will have to have a background check and be given a Security Clearance before starting work… and that can take 2 to 4 weeks or more.

A large bird... don't know what kind (yet)

In the mean time, I stopped and signed up to be a sponsor for incoming personnel. Partially due to the need and because I think I can/will do a good job of it. I have already informally done the job (for 2 of the neighbors in the compound) and with my midnight trip to the Johannesburg Airport to pick up the DH, (finally home from Rwanda after 5 weeks); I think I can say I am ready to help! There is a long list of “make ready” and prep work before they arrive and then after they get here… showing them the ways and wheres of shopping, schools and neighborhoods, etc. Sort of a one woman ‘Welcome Wagon’.

The center of a Mallow flower.

The really good news is. We have ADSL, which in South Africa equates to High Speed Internet!!! Actually only partially. The Modems here also have a built in Wireless Router. I am having a problem getting wireless part up and running… but I think it will take a new modem/router to do that. I can’t get the old security code to go away or the new one accepted…. (it was a gift from a friend that went home). So I am thinking a new modem and an answering machine for the house line…

An Icelandic Poppy-- Photoshopped
I'm thinking thread painted?

We are hoping our ‘Sea Shipment’ has arrived on the continent and is in the process of Customs! It was supposed to dock on 9/23… but who knows if it really did? Not that I am really looking forward to cramming all that stuff into this house. (edit: as of about 15 minutes ago... Our 'Sea Shipment' has been released from ZA Customs... delivery possibly 10/1!!!)

And as always MORE later!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sewing Space

  I was going to post …. “Design Wall Monday”… but the Internet here was so slow and clunky I decided to put it off. Not sure if it is any better today… but I have to give it a try.

We still do not have high speed Internet connection. Telkom has not only NOT connected the Data (ADSL), but somehow on Friday disconnected the telephone part too, so no dial tone on the house phone. Good thing the Alarm System is wireless!!! Or I would be a sitting duck.

So since I missed the ‘Design Wall Monday’… it is now going to be ‘My Sewing Space”…

Sewing Machine Corner

My sewing room is the empty spare bedroom, and it is not very large. Maybe 10 feet by 14 feet… give or take a few inches. Absolutely nothing compared to my studio in Chicagoland… which was huge by comparison. I guess I am going to learn if I can downsize or not. My guess is NOT….

The Closet

Other corner

Anyway, the room is bright and eventually will house another queen size bed, but it will most likely be in the same position as this one… filling in as a design wall. The only other things in the room are the desk with the sewing machine on it, a glass fronted bookcase and an ironing board!!! On the back wall is the built in closet and storage. Not too shabby…. But not nearly enough!!! I am thinking I will have to use both bedrooms for keeping stuff… and be really creative on how I am going to get it all stored.

Quilt in Progress on Design Wall

The quilt in progress is the replacement wedding quilt. I had originally planned to give the kids (Justin & Kaelyn) the Black White Bright quilt, but they have a problem with dog hair. And Black shows dog hair (there is a lot of solid black on this quilt and they have a large light colored German Shepherd) - so I suggested a quilt a bit more forgiving … with dog hair. Batiks … and in colors they chose. She likes Green and he likes Blue… and well this is where it went. In my air shipment I packed 10 pounds of batiks in green, blue and browns!!! Mostly in Fat Quarters.

I spent a day or three, cutting the strips -(which is making me think about an Accucut!) And a few more days stitching up the blocks. I moved the mattress in and covered it with the blue sheet you see poking out, where a few more blocks are still needed. It is a pattern by Cottage Creek Quilts, called Olde Hickory. I have added a column to make it wider… and it will have borders…. But I am not sure what I will do with those yet!

So far I like the quilt. What do you think? Border suggestions?

More Later!

(Quilt update: The blocks are all sewn together... Now entertaining border ideas.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Flowering Tree, outside kitchen.
 In the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reverse of the North and not quite as brutal… well winter anyway, especially if you compare it to the Midwest in the US. The winter has been very mild… at least compared to last year when I visited Pretoria in July! I never thought I would ever get warm again after experiencing winter for 4 days in summer weight clothes. Learned my lesson … even if you are going to a tropical location for a vacation, take at least one warmer shirt… and lots of layers. The layers I brought and wore, but once I got chilled I just never really warmed back up.

A Weaver
An Icelandic Poppy,
from a friends garden.
We arrived in the middle of winter and it really only lasts 3 months, (June thru August) and is very dry. The only precipitation has been the morning dew, and it doesn’t last long, especially if a breeze picks up. But the temperatures have been wonderful, (for winter). Very similar to the southern most states, (Texas, Alabama, Georgia… and Califorina), along a coast line… day times in the 60’s to 70’s, nights in the 40’s… sometimes dip a bit lower, but not FREEZING. There have been one or two hard frosts since we’ve been here and as far as I can tell, the Poinsettia Trees have been the only casualties, but they sprung right back. Speaking of Poinsettias, in the garden centers you even see the plants for sale now with the red bracts. (If you want to see a picture larger, just click on it)

These birds are really odd... a lot like a parrot.
I saw many signs of SPRING as the temps subtly warm up. I could see the subtle change of color on distant trees that indicate leaf buds just waiting to spring forth and the flowering trees are beginning to show some flowers. But with spring comes the rainy season, (which also brings fleas and ticks). A friend said that the end of August will bring the daily shower at about 4 p every day, but the daily showers have not come yet. Spring is a relatively short season here, only 2 months September and October. I am looking forward to seeing all the things spring brings forth that is new and different.
A really long tailed bird.

Of course with the rain will come the grasses that will dry and turn brown in the heat of summer, which we can also look forward to. Summer is the longest season, 5 months, November thru March. I am thinking it will be HOT inland, not quite the breezy humidity of the coast in Durban. But spending Christmas in shorts and sandals sure beats coats and ear muffs!

A Hornbill
In my yard I have found some signs of spring… a flowering tree is growing on the other side of the wall, in the neighbor’s yard and it has drawn lots of interesting birds. The tree is outside the kitchen window, so I am always watching the tree, especially if I hear a different bird call. You must forgive me for posting pictures without the names of the items. I don’t have my bird book here and not enough Internet access to search for the names of the plants or birds.

And if seeing birds, migrating and or making nests, or trees and shrubs bursting into leaf and bloom weren’t a big enough harbinger of spring… then a big old toad, coming out of the lawn IS!!!
Small yellow bird,
(smaller than a sparrow).

Oh, and last but not least- because they take up most of my time now… a picture of Axel and Linzy. I have had at least one comment and several email messages wondering how Linzy is doing. As you can see she has Axel wrapped around her paws!!!!

Linzy and Axel playing.

As Always... more later!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Special!

Actually there are lots of special people here. The diplomatic community is large, not just the US contingent, but all of the Diplomatic Missions in country. I never noticed, and that is probably because I have never lived in a capital… of a country or a state before.

There are several other Embassies … near the US Embassy or scattered about. There is the ‘new’ Chinese Embassy, just recently built and rumored to be housing compound as well. I drive past the High Commission of Great Brittan and Lesotho, Japans Embassy, Mali, New Zealand and Australia, just to name a few.

So why do I say I am special. I am referring to the plate on my car. You see most of the plates here are just your normal plate with letter and numbers and a province code. GP is Gauteng (I live here), FS is for Free State Province, EC is Eastern Cape, L is for Limpopo and MP is for Mphalanga. There are several more provinces- I’m sure you get the idea… Well my plate is different (and it will be changing soon, this is the plate that came with the car and will have to be turned in when our plate is ready). Actually, all the diplomats have a ‘special’ plate and looks very similar to this. The “D” signifies that the plate belongs to the Diplomatic community. The 175 signifies the US Mission, but that is also changing because it is a target indicator. Word has it that all the Diplomatic plates will start with DBBB. But we shall wait and see.

So you see when I am driving around in my car… I am ‘Special’. There are several other ‘Special’ things too. Like we have our own South African Police Division in Pretoria, they drive around in cars that say Diplomatic Police on the side, and if we have problems, we are to call them. Not sure if it will help or hinder the situation, but I will call if I need to. I have the number programmed in to my cell phone, along with a list of about 20 other numbers!!!!

My plate!
I know I have been a little slow with updating the blog, but getting the pictures of the plates to go with it has taken some coordination… I have another post planned but again, it needs some pictures too.