Monday, November 25, 2013

The Bag Lady,

Joke: what do you call a person who blogs and has to have her gallbladder out.... A gall blogger! That was my friend Erica's joke when she heard I had to have my gall bladder removed as she too has been through the process and she too enjoys blogging! Thanks Erica, at least that put a lighter spin on the situation and put a smile on my face which I really needed.

To have to go to hospital yet again was a bit daunting but after my annual check up it was found that my gall bladder had developed polyps which if left could lead to other awful things so it had to be removed. My admiration and appreciation for the medical world has increased even more. Thank you all.

On return from the bush, into hospital I went and out the vital organ came! Obviously it is not so vital as I have been absolutely fine without it as long as I watch my diet. Oh dear the diet...I am definitely a comfort eater! Knowing I had to go through this 'procedure' I did not hold back while in the bush and enjoyed all the treats and of course now I am fighting the bulge. But that's fine too because it's all over, stitches out and I am fine.

Take it from me that the best way to recuperate is to spend as many hours in the sewing room where the only physical exertion is my foot on the pedal!

Firstly I finished off these two items to go off to New Zealand with my sister Robyn as her and Dudley join their son Brett for three months. Their request was something " African". I still have a bag of scraps from my Swazi days so out it came and what fun I had putting a small quilt and a wallhanging together!


I had to make a little something for Brett's girls and all of our grandchildren and it had to be Christmassy!

What about a few bags....and a few more , I was all bagged out. I really enjoyed making these and the pattern and style got better and better. Each piece of fabric has a story behind it as to where I bought it. South Africa, Malaysia, France, America( thanks Diana). I almost feel I should write a little history and attach it to the bag.

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas.....! With lots of love from The Bag Lady



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Screw it!

This sounds a little like the name of Richard Branson's book, Screw it, let's do it, but it is not. It is all about having the right screw as in a small silver device.



I have a beautiful Pfaff sewing machine which I absolutely adore. My sewing machine and I spend many, many precious hours together on a daily basis. It works hard and so do I!


Don't get me wrong.....I have also had a long affair with a Bernina . In fact I still have my Bernina but she is rather worn out and just does not do the blanket stitch as well as my current friend. Before my dear friend the Bernina passed on I used an Elna(Stella) which I bought second hand for R600 and used in Swaziland when we started our small clothing business


The Elna bugged me from time to time as the threads jammed so quickly if you did not hold them towards the back of the machine before take off. This would mean pulling everything out, taking the machine apart and extracting all the jammed threads! A waste of precious time, tempers flying, bad language flowing etc. I usually work fast and could not bare the waste of time. It was time for my daughter to inherit that one! The predecessor to the Elna was some unnamed brand which I purchase from a friend's wife for two hundred rand and used until it died.


But my very first machine was the greatest! My grandmother gave it to me when I was just sixteen. A lovely faithful hand turn Singer. What a beaut. I learnt to sew on this machine and in fact it unlocked my passion for what has been my lifelong hobby. One of the first items I recall making were "Twist"dresses. It was the season where every radiogramme was blasting forth with Bill Hayley and the comets and "Let's twist again like we did last summer" and we would twist our bodies up and down, back and forth, getting our exercise without even realizing it. To match the music we had to wear the correct dresses which we made ourselves.

Off to the shops mother and I would go and there we would buy fabric which I think was called Sungleam for a couple of "bob". No pattern was needed as I would cut a long top out and then gather or pleat the skirt and attach it. It had to bounce and bob as I danced the twist. The zigzag stitch was a luxury that my old singer did not have but who minded.....the finished article was far more important. Voila! Before you knew it you had a new outfit to wear to the party where we could Twist the night away.

This darling machine went to College with me and many a time my friend Mignon and I would cut a dress out and while one would guide the fabric the other would turn the handle as fast as possible resulting in a lovely outfit we could wear to the next 'hop' as we called parties in those days!

That old faithful machine is safely ensconced in our bush house which does not have electricity, so should the emergency arrive out comes the Singer!

But back to present times. Somehow the screw on my Pfaff which holds the free motion quilting foot got lost. When ever I attend a course I have to take my machine along which weighs a ton and that must be how I lost the screw! That one little screw has caused untold misery! I searched and searched for the original, to no avail. Then I called in the help of my hubby. He went off to the hardware shop but without the machine they could not help him. My brother in law came to the rescue and gave us an assortment of screws to try out.

The position of this screw is so awkward..we tried screwdrivers of various kinds, long nosed pliers,tweezers etc.cursing, praying and eventually got a screw to fit. Hooray...I attached the special foot, dropped the feed dog and off I went at a hundred miles an hour. It did not last long.....the screw was not tight enough and the next thing the special foot came flying off and was cracked! Tears and frustration ruled the day, what to do.

After much googling I found an agent in JHB and ordered a new foot which we picked up during our next visit to the city. I still needed the screw. When next we visited the bush I popped into a machine shop in Hazyview and told the Uncle there my very sad story. He is a Mr Fixit of note and told me to leave it to him. That was in April this year. In October I popped back to his shop which had actually moved into bigger premises and shyly asked Mr Fixit if he remembered me and my sob story and lo and behold there was the illusive SCEW! Mr Fixit being a wiley old Fellow knows a desperate sewer when he sees one charged me a magnificent R75.00 for this tiny but IMPORTANT little screw! I hugged that little thing, stroked it and could not wait to get back to base to put it where it belongs and now I am pleased to report that I am a happy chappy and have not stopped sewing and quilting. What an amazing difference that little screw has made in my life! Did I ever confess how much it cost....never, who cares! Now to improve my free motion quilting skills.

Long live the screw! Let's screw it!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Bush.






It is a long drive from Toti to Sabie Park. With a quick stop in Swaziland it takes almost thirteen hours.

On entry into Kruger we were greeted by three of the big Five.....Rhinos, buffalo and elephants. This is a great start ....long may it last.

It was good to arrive at the house. The first thing Warren does is undo all the damage the baboons do whilst we are away! As he surveys the destruction his vocab tends to deteriorate somewhat!

The bush is dry, dry dry. The rains were late. In addition to that, Kruger has done some burning, so talk about scorched earth!! I always worry about the animals who get injured during the burns. Poor Torty!

Despite the lack of rain, the picnic spot is as lovely as ever. For the first time in a while we were fortunate in that we could watch lion across the river! The newer hide is perfect for this viewing.


The best part of being here is connecting with our local friends. They are all so good about coming to spend time with us despite their busy lives. None of them have really retired as we have! Thanks Neil and Lois, Mary and Gav, Ed and Liz. It is always so good to catch up with you guys! We also had visits from family, Colleen and Jim, and the Kochs who were staying at Sabie River bungalows.

The best visitor was Oscar.....he stayed with us for a week then his Mom, Sarah and Nicole arrived and stayed a few days too!

We had loads of fun at the house as little boys and girls dont really like spending hours in the car looking for illusive animals! Gangan loved this special time and we did lots of fun things together.


The wonderful thing about Mother Nature that in her own time she will always deliver. Eventually the rains fact we had huge huge electrical storms. The skies lit up with amazing streaks of lightening, the thunder rolled by and the rain poured and poured. The poor roof was tested to its limits and we had to move furniture out of the way of the leaks, put buckets in line to catch the drips.


The night the Harris's spent with us, plans to enjoy liqueurs around the fire had to be changed due to the storm and while watching the lightening Ed commented how beautiful the sky looked streaked and all lit up with the lightening. I argued that it made me feel rather nervous and uncomfortable. Apparently at approximately the same time 11:15 p.m. a neighbour' s house was burnt to the ground. We were totally unaware and only found out the following day!! Fortunately the owners were not present so no one was injured.


The magic started and every day one would wake up to a greener day. Watching the grass turn green is absolutely wondorous. A special time indeed. The animal population around the house increased enjoying the new lush, green grass. Mother Nature never fails to deliver! Zebras galore, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu, impala and even the baboons tried to join in the party!

With the lack of rain the river was low and there was no sign of the happy hippo. However on our last day at the picnic spot we witnessed the The Return of the Hippo....we watched Mom, Dad amd hippolet pop out of the river just in front of the hide run down the bank and pop back into the deeper water in front of the lower look out point! A short cut or just avoiding the stony bumps I am not sure but how wonderful to have them back!

The hyaena are becoming a threat to the residents. They are becoming more and more daring as they encroach on the bomas. We had an incident one night while enjoying our stew around the fire. I made the mistake of throwing the chewed bones into the fire and Buster our friendly hyaena could not resist the smell of our dinner and came sniffing by and then was tempted to chew on our left over bones and came closer and closer and .....closer. Warren had to chase him off and in my haste to escape to the safety of our home I knocked over a wine glass! The following morning early Warren went outside to pick up the pieces and who was IN the boma and virtually in the ashes of our fire!! Cheeky bugger! The age old debate raises its head again.....who is the interloper!! Man or beast.

It was soon time to pack up and set off for home. A couple of weeks in the bush is always such a tonic!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Moving on

Our month at home is over and although I have not done much blogging, I have been busy doing lots of wonderful things like ......of course it has to be quilting!

Going to the Book Boutique is a weekly fix. The ambience is pleasant and conducive to good conversation. It is a great venue to meet up with friends and to enjoy a cup of coffee. Regularly writers are present at the Book Boutique to launch their new books. I missed Peter Dirkie Uys and Tony Parks. Two writers whom I would have loved to have met and heard speak.

I managed to get to the monthly cross stitch meet up, but I do confess that cross stitch no longer interests me. I thoroughly enjoy the company and take along some other handwork. Our mouths tend to work more than our hands!! Just going along and seeing the wonderful work the other ladies do is such an inspiration.

The Post Card girls also had a get together although only three of the original group attended. The idea is that we make fabric post cards and send them to each other. Each month we have a different theme and this month is "Bubbles"! I am up to date and in fact I have completed next months challenge too, which is "Landscapes". We are looking to expanding our group and interact with other quilters elsewhere!

(these are not ours but belong to the Pleasuretime Quilters.)



Bridget turned forty a while ago but chose to have her party during September when Spring was in the air. As she was to have an "Enchanted Forest" theme and it was to be held in the bottom of her garden the last thing she needed was rain. Bridget worked so hard planning and making decorations. She also did all her own catering and made costumes for her and Peter. I assured her that according to Swazi belief if it rains on auspicious occasions good luck will reign forever. It happened to be one of the wettest weekends ever....the wind blew and the rain poured on and off. It was chilly and the enchanted forest turned into a dripping forest, but Bridget gritted her teeth and continued with all her plans, which included putting up gazebos. By four thirty, with thirty minutes to go before everyone arrived, the sky cleared, the wind calmed down and everything was ready! We had a lovely evening. Everyone dressed up and even the children had loads of fun. What a star Bridget is....and may she enjoy all the luck in the world.

(Not sure that we look like Forest Folk.)

Scottburgh Pleasuretime guild held an exhibition of lovely quilts. They too had the misfortune of rainy weather. However It stopped raining long enoughorder the organizers to go ahead with their plans. Congratulations

Spending time with my sister has been great. Her and her hubby travel away as we do! so when we happen to be in Toti at the same time we like to do things together.


An artist on our beach showing that if you have the heart and desire you can create anywhere!


Soon it was time to start packing for our trip to the Bush House. Time flies when you are having fun!!