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?