Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

The year 2012 had like any other year the good, the busy, sad and exciting moments. Therefore I chose not only the good but also the busy and sad pictures to remember the  past year.    

The keeping busy moments 

The sad and bad moments

The good and exciting moments

Far From The Maddening Crowds

Jingle bells jingle bells……………..

We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas……………….

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas……………………


Clarens 6

Again and again these sounds attack my senses everywhere I go. I am overwhelmed and irritated by the frenzy of shopping, eating, drinking and being merry all in the name of Christmas. True, Christmas is a time to be with family and to be thankful for the love and companionship that we have in one another. But do we remember the real reason for this time of celebration?

On the 22nd of December this year our family headed away from the maddening crowds towards the Eastern Free State. Our destination, the small town of Clarens nestling in the shade of the Rooiberge which forms the foothills of the Maluti Mountain Range.

Clarens 14 (2)

On arrival, we find the house where we will be spending the next few days. Situated in Main Street within walking distance of all the quaint shops and restaurants, a small grey house surrounded by a colourful garden and with majestic views of the mountains from all the windows, greets us.  We soon find that we will be sharing the garden with three rabbits which our children (all adults by now), promptly name after the rabbits in the Beatrix Potter story Peter Rabbit.

Clarens 2

Clarens 8

Thus our magic Christmas weekend starts. The days are lazy and filled with scenic walks, long afternoon naps and exploring trips to the various art and craft as well as coffee shops which lines the village square. Although the village is busy with many tourists, the frenzy of Christmas which I felt so strongly in the city is absent here.

Clarens 9

Clarens 11

Late afternoon on Christmas Eve, dark ominous looking clouds gather on the mountains around the village. Soon it starts raining and temperatures fall, giving us a reason to light a fire in the fireplace.

A fire at Christmas in South Africa?

Unheard of, but there it is, glowing and warm contributing to the overall feeling of cosiness and closeness.  We spend Christmas Eve exchanging small gifts while my husband reads the passage from the Bible which describes the real reason for our Christmas celebration.

John 3:16

New International Version (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Clarens 7

 

Christmas day dawns and it is still raining. The mountain is covered in a blanket of mist and temperatures are low enough to warrant keeping the fire going. The day is spent lazying around under blankets in front of the fire, reading, chatting and catching up on lost sleep.

On the 26th of December we reluctantly say goodbye to the rabbits, the house and the mountains and head home with renewed energy, renewed family ties and promises to return.

How did you spend Christmas?

To Dream the Impossible Dream.

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …

The Impossible Dream“. from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972). music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion.

Trou 4 A en M

We were young, in love, idealistic and going to live the impossible dream. No hardships, no conflict, no illness, dream children, a dream house, exciting holidays and travel.

We were the bride and groom 32 years ago on the 20th of December 1980.

Now 32 years later I wonder did we live our dream?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Maybe not the dream we envisaged, but the dream God planned for us. Here we are, me with a lot of grey hair, still not visible (due to a good hairdresser), wrinkles to show for the bygone years, a few extra kilograms around the middle, wisdom gained through the good and difficult times, three children, one son in law, three,no four dogs, counting the stray lodger and one cat.

My husband, with less hair and more bald skull, still thin, but beginning to show a middle aged tummy, many wrinkles around his soft blue eyes, slowing down in daily activities but essentially the same person I married 32 years ago!

Now the children have all left home, we are nearing retirement age and we must adjust our dream to out new circumstances .

So here is the new dream according to this bride plus 32 years.

  • Re invest time in my relationship with my groom of many years ago.
  • Travel, travel, travel!
  • Read, read, read.
  • Live everyday as if it is my last.
  • Re build and strenghten friendships and family relationships.
  • Learn new skills, photography, painting, gardening maybe a cooking course ( no sewing though!)
  • Search for and find a smaller home (If I can convince my husband )
  • Learn to manage and invest finances wisely.
  • Have fun with grandchildren to be.
  • Be wise and a rolemodel for my children,
  • Cultivate a soft spirit and strengthen my relationship with God so that when the day comes that I have to meet Him I will do so gladly.

Mainly I think,  no I know we must never stop dreaming the impossible dream for what would life be without a dream?

There’s A Traffic Jam In My Head!!

This is the time of the year when everything slows down as here in South Africa we have our long summer holidays.It is the time to unpack the hammock, hook it into the tree and relax with a book or fall asleep in the cool shade with the sound of birds around me.

Hangmat 1

Sounds and looks idyllic  doesn’t it? But alas I have a traffic jam in my brain!!!

The moment I settle down to rest the  thought traffic and accompanying noise starts.

There are the irritating sounds of minibus taxis ( the biggest menace on South Africa’s Roads ) . These are the thoughts about all the unfinished chores in the house, that messy cupboard, the shirt without buttons, the unfinished ironing, and the weeds in the garden that needs to be attended to.

Then comes the motorcycles with their irritating vroom vroom sound shouting , the kids are coming for the holidays, you have to bake cookies and prepare meals get up and start!

The big trucks are next . The sound of their brakes on a slope and the deep sounding horn of thoughts about my seriously ill mother and all that concerns her causes  me to  cringe and duck lest the truck strikes me and catches me unawares.

All these thoughts become a big snarl in my mind and I feel as if I am stuck in a traffic jam with no robot to control and regulate the thought  traffic on the road of my life. No rest for my mind. When I fall asleep, I wake with a start and the thought traffic is there again.  I  fear I will find myself in a big crash soon.

Yes yes, I know I have to quiet and empty  my mind of these thoughts in order to rest and recharge batteries for the new year which will surely have its own challenges, but how?

As always when in a crisis  I turn to the Lord and call out to him together with the psalmist.

 Psalm 42: 5 

 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

and then 

Psalm 62: 1 and 2

 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken

Now bring on the thought traffic! I will rest in Him and enjoy the peace and quiet in my hammock.

What about you?

Hangmat 2

Dung Beetle Days.

The early morning sun shines brightly on the grass still wet from last night’s rain. As I walk across the lawn with my basket of  laundry on the way to hang it out to dry, I almost step on him. There he is, diligently rolling his ball of dung across the grass shoots which are higher than he is  towards who knows where?

Dung B ed

I stop and stare, amazed at the speed with which this little  beetle rolls the enormous ball of dung over great obstacles in his way.

Dung beetles are vitally important to the environment as they clean up the majority of dung during the summer season. When they disappear for their winter sleep termites take over the  job of cleaning.There are many different species of dung beetle. The little chap which I encountered is a rolling dung beetle or one of the telecoprids. They usually clean up the dung of herbivores, in our case most probably that of our neighbour’s sheep

Two beetles, a male and a female create the ball, with the male pushing it away from the dung pile with its back legs, as quickly as possible.  The strenght and tenacity of these little beetles are amazing as they roll their ball of dung in a straight line over all sorts and sizes of obstacles. Sometimes pushing more than 50 times their body weight up a steep embankment.

Facts credit: http://www.sabisabi.com/wildfacts/dung-beetles

As I watch and capture him with my camera, I am inspired by his determination and perseverance. Lately I have been feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the amount of difficult circumstances in my life, but the little dung beetle taught something.

If he can push his ball of dung over all the obstacles in his way, to finish the task he was created for, so can I.

If he can persevere untill he reaches his goal, so can I.

If he pushes a load almost 50 times his body weight, because he was designed to be able to do it, I will not be asked to carry or push a load that is bigger than I am able to. 

So when I again feel the dung balls in my life are becoming too big, I will think of you little beetle and push even harder, trusting in the Lord to give me the strenght to finish the task set before me.  

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

Confessions of an Armchair Walker

Few people may have noticed that I neglected to update my walking progress the past few weeks. When I started blogging and added the walking update posts I promised myself that I will be honest and not cheat on this aspect. So here is my confession!

There has been no walking for at least three to four weeks, actually I lost track of the time.

Now, I can offer many excuses such as:

My aching knee and hip joints prevent me from walking for exercise.

I am too busy with end of year activities.

I am simply too tired.

My mother’s illness and the amount of time I spend with her. prevent me from walking.

All of them valid, but not all convincing. The actual truth is, I am lazy and once I broke the routine I find it so difficult to start again. In the meantime I was armchair walking and still researched the wonderful area of the Eastern Cape where I was at the time of my previous update.

Today I wish I was here instead of in a rainy Pretoria surrounded by stacks of work which have to be finished before the long awaited summer holidays starts.

Hole-in-The-Wall

In the Coffee Bay area this natural wonder called The Hole in the Wall can be found. When reading about it, I learned that the indigenous Xhosa people have another name for this place . They call it ” izi Khaleni ” ( place of thunder)  because at certain times of the year waves crash through the hole so violently that the sound it makes, is like thunder. Apart from the scientific explanation that the waves have been eating away at the soft rock layers in the cliff face to form this almost perfect hole, there are many legends surrounding this amazing place.

Hole-in-The-Wall (1)

Photo credit: www.zoover.co.uk/south-africa/oostelijke…/hole-in-the-wall/photos

My favourite is this one:

The Xhosa people have a far more intriguing story to tell. Their local legend tells the tale of a young girl who lived in a small village near the sea. Near her village was a landlocked lagoon that was blocked from the ocean by a sheer cliff face. Her people often told stories of people who lived in the sea, completely human except for supple wrists and flipper-like hands and feet.

One day, while walking near her village, the young girl spotted one of these semi-deities. The sea-person was struck by the human girl’s beauty and was determined to win her heart. But the people of the village were aghast at the idea of the match and the girl’s father forbade her to ever see him again.

Deeply offended by the villagers’ reactions, the sea people vowed to help the young lovers be together. One night, as the tide rose, they gathered on the ocean-side of the cliff-face. With the help of a huge fish, they repeatedly rammed the rock until they broke through. All of the sea people swam through into the lagoon, singing and shouting with joy.

The villagers hid in fear and the young girl and her lover took the  opportunity to disappear into the night – never to be seen again. Some people say that you can still hear the singing and joyous cries of the sea people if the wind blows exactly right…

Information found here: Legend of Hole in the Wall http://www.gotravel24.com/theme/feature-focus/legend-hole-wall

After reading this romantic legend I now have to return to reality and work!