Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strange Days Indeed

Whew! ... it feels like I've been off-line forever and have to learn how to operate the Internet all over again ...

Hello Friends - I hope that you're all well and happy. I'm OK, just a bit disorientated after a long journey and I haven't had the chance to catch up yet.

Here's what I've been up to the last two months:

When I left the Desert in January the rain season was in full swing and the further north I travelled the wetter it became.

The weather has been fantastic - I even heard one farmer complain, (not too loudly though), that it was a bit too much rain ...

Shortly after I arrived home I was visited by two lovely ladies from Holland - Eva on the left and Mana right. Mana is the daughter of an old friend and they stayed two nights before heading on to the Etosha Pans.

On a trip to Tsinsabis, 30km to the North of me I photographed these kids, (probably siblings), wading through a pool of water - they could have stayed dry by crossing over the bridge but it seemed more fun to go through the water.

Love Triangle - They stopped to pose for some pics - the little guy in front looked so serious, he never smiled once ... what an old, wise face he has hey?

Two women sell mushrooms along the side of the road.

This was the best Omahova season ever - because the atmospheric conditions must be just right for them to appear, the mushrooms are usually only available for about a week but, this year, I found people selling them for almost a month.

Four young guys selling their Omahova.

My buddy Stretch visited for a few days and we feasted on the mushrooms for two nights - by this time Stretch was literally 'fed-up' because he'd eaten them for five nights in a row ...

It was only after I arrived home that the realisation that Spirit was not there really sunk in - a few times I caught myself calling at the spot where he had made a nest in the long grass ... it's a good thing for venomous snakes that I encountered none of their kind during this time.

... I miss his youth and playfulness - the other two cats are old farts and no fun - I was stunned when I watched a confused little pointy-nosed mouse run around in front of them and neither batted an eyelid ...

... perhaps I feed them too much.

I had no building action-plan when I arrived home ... I had a vague idea what I wanted to do and when I started working all seemed confused, I was frustrated by the apparent lack of progress - it was only as I was about to leave that everything came together and, looking back, I'm satisfied (and slightly surprised) with what I achieved.

I installed a roof over the shower/toilet and cut it to size so that I can build the outer walls up further; did the plumbing, installed the throne and window panes, and had the walls plastered.

I also knocked down and rebuilt the inner walls for the adjoining main bedroom, had it plastered and installed a ceiling and lights - this whole section of the house is almost complete now.

When I started working I was full of fears and doubts but I managed to muddle through them and in the end learned two new skills: plumbing and how to install a hanging ceiling.

Stoffel seems to approve of her new expanded living space.

Here she is putting her brush into her mouth in order to bring it to me so that I can groom her ... she carries things in her mouth because she only has one arm, which she needs to move around with.

There's nothing in the world that Stoffel likes more than being brushed and, if I'd let her, she'd lie stretched-out on my lap for hours while I groom her.

During the whole time at home I hadn't seen the pair of Damara Dik-diks which had been regular visitors during the winter - I thought that the reason was that there was ample food available.

On the afternoon before I left for the desert I spotted them on the edge of the bush. I grabbed my camera but they bolted as I approached and I only managed this fuzzy shot of one of them jumping a low fence.

Later, after the sun had set and I'd put my camera away, I was packing the car and looked up to see them grazing peacefully in the twilight, not more than 20 meters from me ...

Well that's about it - It was an unsettled period for me, I had a lot of pain in my back and much of the time I was uptight and restless, as if I had a mental itch that couldn't be scratched ... hopefully the desert will enable me to regain some sort of balance ...

Lovely to see you again my friend.
Walk along with me to the next bend.

Tells us what you've seen in faraway forgotten lands.
Where empires have turned back to sand.



  1. Nice to have you back. When I see your vervet monkeys it brings back memories of those I had years ago.

  2. You have been a busy beaver. You've been away for so long I was beginning to worry about what had happened to you.

    I'm happy to hear you are now back from your building expedition. It sounds like you are making wonderful progress.

    I'm so happy that your country got some much needed rains. I'm sure it will do the crops as much good as it did the mushrooms. I sure would love a mushroom like those that are in your photos. They are humungous.

    Glad you got some company too. Visitors from afar are always exciting. Stoeffel looks well and sounds content. So sorry about Spirit. I'm sure it will be sometime before you get over it.

    Welcome home :-)

  3. Thanks Phillip ... I'm just feeling my way around again ...

    Do you still have any contacts with Vervets, do they occur in the area you're in now?

  4. Thank you Penny - yes, it is satisfying to see progress with the building but my body is protesting ... I need to get the heavy labour over with pretty quickly ...

    I hope that you're well and that someday you'll feast on Omahova ... I know how to prepare them now - I took notes from Stretch ... :)

  5. No Vervets around Estcourt, though you do find them in some parts of the Berg.In Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the coastal areas there are plenty.

    Illegal to keep Vervet monkeys in KZN. Some people here have these funny little Caupuchin monkeys.

  6. Thanks Phillip - I'm glad to hear that it's illegal to keep them as pets ... monkeys should be free ...

  7. I really miss your posts when you are at the house but it is good to have you back again.
    You look very happy sat there with the two pretty girls on either side of you. I guess that you do not have many visitors, so I am am sure you enjoyed their company for a couple of days.
    The photo by the pool with the reflections is fantastic.
    Is the roof on the bathroom flat? It looks it in the photo but I am sure there must be a slope. How did you join it up to the main building?
    We had a lot of mushrooms here this year, must have been the weather changes.
    Take care and give that back a rest. We have to remember that we are not getting younger, I am just as guilty of forgetting that when there is work to be done!! Diane

  8. Thanks Diane - I trust that you're well ...

    Yeah, I don't have many visitors and always appreciate a few days of company ... it also gives me a good excuse not to work ... :)

    Yeah, the roof is on the bathroom, I've trimmed it to size so that I can build the outer wall upwards and past it ... the corrugated sheeting lies under the overhang of the main building and, when all the finicky bits are done, I'll seal the whole structure somehow ...

    Yeah, I've always been told that hard work never killed anyone ... well, I'm not so sure about that now ... :)

  9. welcome back Graham..not much time to write at the moment, just got to say reading this post..for a moment I thought I was reading a book...If you sorted through all your writings/blog have a book there. A very compelling is somewhat different for you in Africa then it is here in the west.The wildlife , the politics..its exotic

  10. Thank you kindly Monica - there's probably a book in each of us ... :)

    ... maybe someday if I can't do anything else ...

    I hope all's well with you ...

  11. Hello Graham, no picture of Stretch eating mushrooms? :(

  12. Hi Graham .. sounds like it was good to get home - even with so much going on .. I love the look of those mushrooms - crumbs they'd feed and elephant?! Aren't they wonderful and I bet full of nourishment for all concerned.

    Delighted to hear the building work is progressing, that you had friends in to celebrate its ongoing improvements ...

    But Stretch threw me a wobbly as I 'paged' down .. I thought his tail was a snake!! Welcome back to your wildlife friends .. they photos are lovely to see - and I bet the kids were pleased with the rain and puddles ..

    Thanks for putting these back up with some of your notations .. cheers Hilary

  13. Hey Fazlisa :) ... heh, ... no, but I do have a pic of him with Omahova sellers ... I'll mail it if you like ...

    ... and yes, I did remember to convey your greeting and tell him he has a fan across the ocean - I was driving at the time and couldn't look to see if he blushed ... :)

  14. ... and thanks to you Hilary ...

    Yes, one of those mushrooms is a meal on it's own ...

    Hehe, I think you're confusing Stretch with Tumbili, a Vervet Monkey ... Stretch is my human buddy ... :)

  15. Love the composition of the three siblings, awed by the mushrooms, impressed by the house - when it's finished will you live there? How awful to have that sort of backache, I can't imagine what you can do about it except to keep still, and I bet you don't. Funny how tall people seem to suffer with bad backs more than others.
    PS And nice to have you back in blogland!

  16. Thanks for your greeting and kind comments Caroline - yes, I'll live there full-time someday ...

    ... the quack took x-rays and could find nothing wrong ... he sent me to a physiotherapist but when I arrived at a large room with strange machines and people being twisted and contorted I walked away ...

    ... I don't like the idea of having my body manipulated in public ... :)

  17. Hi Graham - Thanks for your visit to my blog today. It's led me here to your wonderful site -- I love your photos and your friendly, comfortable writing.
    Sounds like you got a lot done on your trip home; I hope it will center and energize you.

  18. I am so glad you're back & posting again! I just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago & have been anxiously awaiting your return. The post is fascinating & I LOVE your photographs!!

  19. Thank you too Jeffrey ... yes, the secret is probably to keep in shape during the time that I'm not building ...

  20. Thank you Fran - I saw some of your artwork on Inger's blog and I love it too ... :)

  21. hello Graham, like everyone else, I'm glad you are back. As always the photos and the stories are captivating.

  22. I was happy to mention your blog, one of my absolute favorites! I'm glad you are back and it is so sad about Spirit. Are you eventually going to move to your house permanently? And if so, does that mean you will not be able to blog? That would not be a good thing for us, your followers.

  23. Hello and thank you Calvin - I'll catch-up soon ... :)

  24. Thanks again Inger - yes, but then I'll invest in appropriate technology ... it's just not cost-effective at the moment ... I'll try to continue blogging even if I have to cycle into the nearest town ... :)

  25. welcome back to blogland
    Omahova - they look wrapped up like an ice cream cone. Any reason for that?
    The monkey (one arm very sad) appears to be holding a smartphone in it's one hand.

  26. Thanks Bill - yes, the Omahova look like ice cream cones before they open-up ...

    ... it's hard to believe that such a small cone spreads out to become the giant heads shown in the bottom pic ...

  27. Heeeey Graham! Good to know you are back on the stage, hehehehe. Good pictures as usual. Know what? My wife love mushrooms and she prepares italian dishes with them, such as risotto ai funghi. Tastes really good. But those mushrooms are huge. Do thet taste the same as the small ones? Hug to you my friend!

  28. Thanks Oswaldo my Friend - I guess they taste similar to smaller mushrooms ... I absolutely love Omahova but I must admit that after eating them two nights in a row I'd had enough ... they are HUGE

  29. maybe it's a cosmic thing...I've been feeling that way about drawing and painting lately! Just unable to get in the groove!

    Hope your back is feeling better!

    There is something about putting together a bathroom that does rather make one feel husband Don did it...I'm sure he'd never plumbed a bathroom before but he did that and the kitchen...nice job too!

  30. Hi Theanne - I hope it's just a passing phase ... I still need to be creative ...

    ... it's a great experience doing the bathroom, just very expensive ...

  31. I discovered your blog just the other day. I read quite a bit in your archives. I love reading about your adventures, seeing your photos - so glad to see an update so quickly after finding it.

  32. Hello Sandy - Thanks for your visit and comment - I hope that you'll return often ...

  33. The Love triangle picture is exquisite - absolutely lovely! Certainly, as you said, a wise old man in the front - one can almost see his life in his eyes.

    So pleased I've found another SA blog - am eager to read more... :)

  34. I'm so glad I stumbled on your blog. Love the pictures and the narration that accompanies them.

  35. Thank you for your visit and kind comment Dani - I'm glad you found my blog too ... hope you'll become a regular visitor ...

  36. Thank you Savvy - please DO visit again ...