Monday, December 29, 2014

All Christmassed out!

Even here in Kuala Lumpur, Christmas is all about the glitz, the bling, the ring of the tills, overeating, drinking, spending lots of money etc. The malls are are all lit up and the same Christmas music is pumping out as they compete for the best Christmas decorations ever. Everybody seems to want photos on the "red thrones" adorned with lots of lights etc. be you Christian, Hindi, Muslim it's all about the festivities and not too much about the REAL story behind it all. But does this matter?

On Christmas Day Joshua woke us up excited to get to see what Santa had delivered. He is six years old and believes absolutely! This probably is the last year of total acceptance of the whole fantasy thing originating in the North Pole and of course the Tooth fairy. Some cynic will spill the beans for him in the future....but like us all he will hold onto the underlying desire to believe that the world is filled with good things, good people, presents and love.

My Christmas Day, after the opening of extremely generous gifts from everyone,in particular our son and his new wife Elaine, was pushed to another level. Nick and Elaine have only been in this house about two months. They haven't met their neighbours yet as they are busy working and getting on with their lives. I have been working in the tiny garden and have more time to wave and smile at neighbours. I had eyed a few empty plant pots outside the neighbour's house and a few days before Christmas I chatted to the daughter of the neighbour and was brave enough to ask if I could have the pots for the plants I needed to plant. Of course she agreed! Petra also told me she is a baker. On Christmas Morning the bell at the front gate rang and when I opened it, the "Aunty" from next door arrived dressed in her Muslim garb carrying a box of cookies. She handed them over and wished us all a Merry Christmas! Now THAT is the spirit of Christmas we all need to have. Spreading the cheer regardless of colour, race and creed! Gosh, that kind gesture just made me feel so good about life, so hopeful for the future.


In the same vein, we take the little dog for a walk several times a day and a few days ago Joshua(6) was with us and a bunch of children were playing in our street. Joshua looked longingly at them and Grandad asked the "gang" if Joshua could join in. These are scruffy street wise kids who run freely, crossing the road without fear, go to the local park without any supervision and just play. Our boy has someone with him all the time, has lots of rules to follow! "wash your hands!" "look left and right and left again!" "don't pat strange dogs etc." but when it came to play, the ground was pretty even as he ran and laughed and peek a booed! Unfortunately Joshua developed a bad cough and everyone advised that he shouldn't run around so he was not able to join the Gang. A couple of days later the leader of the gang (10) delivered a whole lot of handwritten notes to Joshua, wishing him Merry Christmas and asking what he wanted for Christmas! All of these children are from Malaysian Muslim homes.



Our last interaction with the locals took place last night. The owner of the house next door rang the bell and invited us to his home for dinner. In South African terms it was a REAL Braai. Lovely lamb chops and chicken. Warren, Joshua and I felt we should make an appearance....what esteemed company we ended up in. The Father is a PHD in history and works at the University, the Mother is the top Obstretician in K.L. Their daughter met her husband while studying medicine in Ireland. His Mother is a chemical Engineer etc.etc. they are a conservative Muslim family, generous, welcoming, modest, hospitable and just amazing.



All of these interactions with the locals just enhances our love for this amazing country. As Nick has married into a Chinese Malay family we have had lots of interactions with Chinese friends and family. There is HOPE people, Hope and that is what I am going to carry in my heart for 2015. It is easy to get dragged down by newspaper and Television headlines, especially in S.A.

For me, I want to enter 2015 with lots of positivity. Many of us have exciting things happening in our lives. It is a year of NEW BEGININGS. I wish you and yours a wonderful 2015. A year filled with good happenings.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wedding bells are ringing.

Here we are back in Malaysia, the third time this year to celebrate Nick and Elaine's weddings! Yes weddings!!

To re track, Nick a Chiropractor and business man, met Elaine, a Malaysian celebrity earlier this year. It was love at first sight! We met Elaine and her family during our last visit in June/July this year and it was on a week to the Seychelles they got engaged. Elaine Daly, has a Chinese Mom from the Malacca Straits and her Dad has a very mixed heritage including Dutch, Irish and Malaysian. His Mother was a Jansen. Elaine is an only child and was voted Miss Malaysia in 2008, is a T.V. Presenter, a model and a presenter amongst other interesting jobs she does. She also has a degree in law and has been presented to the bar.

It did not take Elaine and Nicholas long to decide to get married and this would take place early December. After a short time back in South Africa we found ourselves traveling back for the wedding celebrations. Elaine and Nick had decided to have two wedding celebrations. The first was held in K.L. At a lovely restaurant and this included the civil service of the actual marriage. It was a very grand affair and the press and work colleagues were invited to this affair plus we also had the chance to meet Elaine's Chinese Aunties and Uncles. One of the most amazing features is how long the family all live. I wonder what their secret is. We need to find out! Our son Christopher from Australia had some of the "aunties" and uncle (90) dancing around on the dance floor!

Our grandson Joshua was the ring bearer and he was oh so handsome!

Uncle Chris and Joshua!

The second celebration was held out in the country near the Genting Highlands and we all went up the night before the actual event and had time to get to know each other and have a good chat and laugh. It was much cooler up in the hills and in fact it rained most of the time and then voila! The sun came through in time to prepare properly for the beautiful wedding. In addition to the welcome sun, a rainbow appeared which got everyone very excited! It was amazing how the organizers transformed this patch of grass into a fairy tale venue.

This was a much more relaxed affair including a tea ceremony where the Bride and Groom present tea to their parents and family in exchange for advice and red envelopes(and pau) filled with money. Elaine wore her Mother's wedding dress to this ceremony. There were lots of other traditional Malaysian fun and games (Rite of Passage)before the actual formal activities began.


Elaine wore five designer gowns over the two nights and looked amazing. I was in a total state as to what to wear to these functions and only made my final final decision at the last minute!! I think my outfit worked. This is what I wore to the second event but have not seen any photos of the first event so holding my breath as to whether that one worked or not. We were absolutely spoilt as the make up artist came to our home to prepare us for this special occasion. "Us" included the groom, Christopher and Warren.....they just had their hair done! Imagine Warrens face as he only has a few hairs left on his head! The rolling of the eyes....!

The attention to detail was simply amazing! Everything was wonderful. Elaine and Nicholas used wedding planners and the team worked extremely hard.



Cutting of the cake!


The tea ceremony.


Warren and I had a wonderful time meeting new folk, renewing some old friendships, enjoying the festivities, seeing our sons and grandson and of course dancing the night away. Thank you Elaine and Nicholas for two wonderful celebrations. We wish you a long and happy marriage!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On the move.

So there we were just enjoying the bush and chilling with Mother Nature (and special friends) when my D.B. (Dearly Beloved) announces that he has asked our friend Gavin to find us a house in White River. Now, is that the way to announce what obviously has been spinning around in his head?? To say that I was surprised is rather an under statement however it is a great surprise as I love the Lowveld and was very sad to leave it eleven years ago! Anyway, at my age and stage does anything shock or really surprise is??

I never said much for 24 hours waiting to see if this was just a pipe dream or so e fantasy which could have been induced by the good company of our Lowveld friends, the beautiful sun set, the elephant in our Garden etc. but NO. The next day my DB decided that it was time for action and that we need to do some house searching! True to his word Gavin had contacted several agents and he and my lovely friend Mary hosted us for the weekend as we house searched. This whole experience took me back to when I sold property all of twenty something years ago. It is interesting to see how others live. The one little home was all orange and glitter which the owner had taken great care to prepare for viewing but as we stepped inside we could not breathe. She obviously was a chain smoker....we just couldn't wait to get out! Then there is the house where the dogs had pooped all over the verandah and garden....I know we need extra security but for heaven sake remove the bombs before viewers arrive! And so it goes.

We eventually found something and somewhere we could make a home and to cut a looooong story short we put in an offer which has been accepted. Now to sell our home.

On return to Toti I had intentions of beginning my packing and sorting things out with just a little sewing and seeing all my buddies before we leave for Malaysia. Then I get this frantic call from our daughter...."mom do you think you and Aunty Rob could make twenty tote bags for my company?" Aunty Rob is very busy making my wedding outfit and is studying for end of year Grade five exams with Dylan, so she is not one bit interested. I am so bad at saying no and in any case a little spending money would be great as I want to get garden furniture for our new home....okay, I will do it! "But Mom, it's not twenty, it's twenty five but we will settle for thirty tote bags and they all need to be lined using your African fabrics!!"

This all needed to be done in just over a week. So to the grindstone I went. My shoulders ached, my back ached, but I was determined that I could do this. During my "breaks" I was shoving stuff in cupboards, under beds etc. so that the flats could be viewed in our absence, in the hope of a quick sale while we are in Malaysia.Ssoon we were off to JHB. where I needed to complete my bags once they had been printed on.

Sarah wanted to use the completed tote bags as corporate gifts.


Mission completed, last minute Christmas shopping done, our first Christmas family dinner under the belt we were ready for our next adventure in Malaysia.


Monday, October 13, 2014

There's an elephant on my stoep!

Baboons, Genets, bush babies, zebras peeing on the stoep are all rather commonplace but elephants here in Sabie Park, right near our house just boggles the mind! As we were preparing for our annual October pilgrimage to Sabie Park, Mphumalanga, I was reading more and more comments on the Sabie Park Facebook page about elephants coming over the river into Sabie Park! Wow! This was just too much to even imagine! I was hoping beyond all hope just to see an Ellie!

It wasn't too long before we were to have our first encounter with the beast! My sister Robyn, hubby Dudley and Grandson Dylan had joined us for a week. The first two nights were the regular hyenas calling, genet sniffing around to see what we were cooking, night jars calling and the quaint hoot of an owl. We even watched a very small Bushbaby jumping from tree to tree silhouetted against the beautiful night sky. Our third night we all went to bed at about nine o'clock and at about ten I woke to a cracking of trees and branches. I realised that we had a V.I.P. Visiting ! I shook my hubby to wake up and armed with our torch we tried to find out where the noise was eminating from. We couldn't see anything from behind our windows and glass doors so brave Warren stepped out of the house and shone his torch and there he was. Wow! How thrilling. An elephant. A very busy elephant was munching and breaking the branches in the beautiful moonlight right close up to our house. By now we were all awake and enjoying this amazing sight. While thrilled to see an actual elephant so close we needed to get rid of him ASAP as before we had arrived in Sabie Park we had had many visits if the devastation of our trees surrounding the house, was anything to go by. It is very dry here and the bushveld is grey, brown and dusty. We don't have many trees around the house and to see the few we do have, pulled down and trashed was rather upsetting.

Somewhere I had read that to get rid of elephants one needs to fill a pot with stones and rattle it making a big noise. The second best thing I could think of was to get a wooden spoon and to bang a large tinny pot! My hubby got going with this trick and eventually Jumbo moved on albeit rather reluctantly. I just could not get back to sleep after all the excitement and at about midnight I thought I heard more elephant activity. As it was not too close to our house I let it go.

Two afternoons later Robyn and I were home alone while the boys were off on a drive to Kruger. First we spied two elephants passing through our back garden. I opened the back door to get a photo and Robyn nearly had a heart attack! We just settled back in the lounge and another elephant arrived back where the first encounter had taken place and it had decided that our trees needed further trimming! I was so afraid that he would tackle the tree directly in front of the house so out came the pot and spoon but nothing would deter this fellow. I shouted, I spoke pleasantly, I pleaded and I made as much noise as possible. I eventually called the security and the guard took five minutes to get here. He jumped out his white van with a gun loaded with rubber bullets and instantly the elephant was off. It is amazing how such a large creature can blend into the bush so quickly. The helpful fellow told me I should always tell them to "voetsak" as this will make them leave instantly. So maybe these Ellie's are Afrikaans. Later on my sister and I definitely heard two gun shots and all we could hope for was that the security were chasing the elephants from damaging someone else's property.

Yesterday there was no elephant activity but today Warren spoke to the manager of Sabie Park and evidently a dead elephant was found up the road. He said the stench from the carcass was rather dreadful so the workers took the trailer, cut the carcass up and the bits of flesh etc loaded the trailer and took the remains were back to Kruger to feed the other animals. Ernest the manager says after that all the elephants paid their respects to their dead brother all 21 elephants headed back to Kruger. There are NO more elephants in Sabie Park. On return from their drive the guys said there were no elephants in the river or any where else to be seen. Mother Nature definitely has her own way of sorting things out!

While it's sad on one hand that they have gone it's good that the elephants are back in the park where they are free to roam and maybe we can feel a little easier too and walk on our roads again. Meanwhile Warren has a never ending supply of wood from all the trashed trees!! Thank you Mother Nature.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Joy in the air....

This was written whilst we were at our bush house.


And the rains came! It is just after six in the morning and I just had to get up. The house is filled with friends who are visiting for the weekend. They have come to celebrate my husband's sixty ninth birthday and to have time to commune and catch up. Last night was rather chilly so the girls stayed indoors and exchanged news and the boys spent their time around the fire discussing world affairs! There is no doubt the two conversations had very little in common as the three girlfriends spend our lives thinking about our children and their children while the men discuss current affairs! Men are definitely from Mars and women from Venus.

With the coolth came the little drops of rain. The little drops eventually, once the meat was cooked and dinner eaten, turned into real rain! At last! Our bushveld is crying, in fact begging for rain and at last this wish has been granted. This morning there is definite joy in the air as I listen to a large variety of birds singing and praising. The Oriole is busy warbling her melodic watery sounds, a "Piet my vrou"is celebrating the rain, bush shrikes are popping in and out the bushes.

This is not my photo!

Soon the dry grass and dry twigs will burst with shades of green and I am sure we will SEE this corner of the world turn green. The skies are dark which is good, as more rain is sure to fall. We don't mind, as driving in the rain is good but we have enough coffee, biscuits and topics of conversation and good books to keep us fueled should we choose to stay home during the wet days to follow.

More than all of this what got me going early this morning, are the woodpeckers.I could hear pecking and pecking! What busy little birds they are. So industrious as they peck away at the dry branches looking for snacks. I managed to get really close to the little fellow I could hear and just stood and marveled at this industrious bird. Eventually his friend, who had been busy in another tree came over and they had a chat and flew off. I do hope they come back to our garden as they are so welcome here.

Photo:Animal wildlife.


Mother Nature has once again delivered on her promises. Thank you for the much needed rain. The cycle of life continues.




Monday, October 6, 2014

Sliding off the Planet.

Let's face it, there's no place like home. Travel has its attraction but it is good to sleep in one's own bed, to be surrounded by one's goods and chattals and for me, to be back in my sewing room. I belong to several craft groups and really enjoy going out and exchanging ideas and news with the girls. My sister Robyn joins me on most of these excursions and we treasure the time together! The common thread amongst the members of these different groups of women of varying ages is "women need each other"!

According to my cheerful husband "Africa is sliding off the planet" due to the politics, the disasters and the general negative things taking place. This maybe so, however we women will go down armed with knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing acoutroument and a stock of good books. We bury ourselves in our hobbies trying new patterns and designs whilst fortifying ourselves with cups of good coffee. We laugh and comfort each other, sharing news, old wives tales, advice, stories and experiences. We really don't have time for negativity, depression, bad news or even care much about the possibility of sliding off the planet!

On return from our travels I was worried by cramps in my legs at night and also restless legs. I googled my problem as Dr Google often has a simple explanation for ones problems. This time I not only got an explanation but I also received the most helpful advice ever. The suggestion was to put a bar of soap in between the sheets in the bed where your feet are. With nothing to lose I put two bars of soap into my bed. more cramping! Old wives tale? Who minds as long as it works. I have not suffered one more cramp plus my bed linen smells so good. I have shared this remedy amongst friends and in turn have heard how a potatoe in your bed also helps, especially with back pain!

My aim, while based back home is to make more quilt tops, as my target is to complete 67 completed quilts before Nelson Mandela day next July. As we never spend much time at home, I work like crazy when I am here. I absolutely love my Pfaff sewing machine which works extremely hard, day in and day out. The intention is to use up as many of my scraps and fabrics as possible. I know the old adage is "he who dies with the most fabric is the winner" but I really wanted to pass on that challenge as I would far rather make a lot of folk happy by giving quilts away whilst I am alive and well. I am asked "who are you going to give the quilts to" and quite frankly I am not sure at this stage. The idea is to brighten up someone's life even if the Gogo puts the quilt on her table! I have made baby quilts, kiddy quilts and adult quilts! Diana has donated lots of lovely fabric as did Moira. A few of my friends are making quilts too to add to the collection for which I am so grateful.

While I love quilts and the entire process of producing them, I know that knitted and crocheted blankets are even better gifts for keeping folk warm. I have tried motivating my friends to make blankets and in the evening when I am done quilting I arm myself with my crochet hook and yarn and make my granny squares. My friend Jan, who is an absolute angel, does not knit or crochet, motivated her colleagues at school and while we were in JHB. en route home, she handed over a pile of blankies. Some of them need a little finishing off which I am busy with right now. Thank you my bestie!

The pile of quilt tops and lovely warm blankies continues to grow. I have reached a total of fifty tops at this stage. However there is still no dent in my fabric collection. In fact the pile of scraps grow as scraps make more scraps. It really does not matter as I will have the satisfaction of attempting to use up a whole lot of my collection, trying new patterns out and generally having loads of fun doing this. Should I pop off during the process of Africa sliding off the planet it really won't matter anyway will it?


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer Vacation in K.L.

Our two and a half month visit to Malaysia has come to an end. We board the plane tonight for the VERY lengthy trip back home. We have been coming to Malaysia for the past twelve years and more! It has been the most wonderful time ever. The last six years we have come to help out with the care of Joshua as both parents work and since he has started school we have focused on being here for his Summer School holidays. As his school bases it's terms dates on those of the English schools he has two lovely long months off mid year. Of course being a teacher, the benefits of these long holidays for children is debatable but as many of the staff members at his school are from England one can understand their need to return home for a length of time!

We were fortunate to be able to visit Joshua's class and school at the end of the term for their sports day. It was a fun morning with everyone participating and having fun.

We attended a birthday party of one of his Mum's friends whom we also know. Wow....this two year old had the party of all parties! Loads of children and their families, loads of entertainment and caterers! Mum Nha and Dad are relocating to Vietnam where Nha originally hails from. It was good to see her again and meet Bey. I was very impressed with Bey's nanny who is young and friendly. She has a car and drives Bey to all his extra activities, does the shopping, cooks etc! What a dream helper!

Talking of helpers, Lorna who originally worked for Nick and Moira now works for Moira is also amazing. She is from the Philippines,lives in and does EVERYTHING that needs to be done. She also takes Joshua to his swimming classes and any other extra curricular appointments. In addition to this Moira has bought her a sewing machine and Lorna is making real quilts. She also learnt how to bead from Moira who gave her her starter kit and now Lorna has a very healthy bank balance from all the beading she does! So entrepeurnerial. We have enjoyed many delicious meals cooked by Lorna when visiting Moira and Joshua.

Once Oscar arrived Uncle Nick took the boys on all sorts of fun adventures including "Jump" . This is such a clever idea. The building was y a large warehouse and is now equipped with trampolines of every description. The whole system is amazing and one pays by the hour to use the equipment. The boys LOVED it and once the hour was up they were finished. Oscars red face tells it all.

We have been treated to Korean, Japanese,Chinese, Indian and Malaysian meals. We have put on lots of weight! We need to do something about it!

It has been great. During this time Nick introduced us to his girlfriend Elaine and when they went off to the Maldives he could not resist the romantic surrounds and popped the big question. Elaine came back full of smiles with a lovely ring on her finger.

We have met her folk and many of her friends. Elaine presents a T.V. Programme "Bella" regularly and I was privileged to be able to visit the studio.

Elaine also does lots of photo shoots and presents at various functions. She leads a very interesting life.

Nick continues to grow his chiropractic business and has to cope with lots of challenges which he does so well. He is an amazing Dad and we are very grateful to him for sharing his boy with us. We love you guys!!

Now it is time to go home, settle down, get a perspective on life and do lots of healthy things like healthy food and exercise!

But maybe...