Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Each of my children’s attempts at art, was and will always be a masterpiece to me.

Daniel in the lion’s den

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The fantasy world of a young girl

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Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread

Swimming with dolphins in the sea?

Me?

Hmm that is one that I have to think about carefully. Everyone in my family  knows about my longstanding and deep seated fear of small boats or any boat for that matter and the sea.

Now they want me to go swimming in the sea with dolphins?

Eventually, I convinced myself that this is an experience I can not pass only because I am afraid. After all we have to face our fears to  conquer them.

So it came that on the last morning of our stay on Zanzibar, we went swimming with dolphins in Kizimkazi on the southern point of the island. We were told that the dolphins are found in the bay and that it will be the experience of a life time.

And  it was !

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On arrival at the small fishing village, those who were brave or foolish enough to attempt swimming with the dolphins were given a pair of flippers and snorkeling goggles. No instructions on the use nor any questions as to whether we new how to use the equipment, were asked.

We were unceremoniously bundled into a small boat and off we were!

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The sea was fairly rough and the skies overcast. I thought we would find the dolphins near to the coast, not so. About a half an hour away from the coast, surrounded by deep sea and quite high swells, we spotted them.

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“Flippers on! Right side jump!  Look down!” The guide shouted

Totally confused not one of us made it into the water the first time. We saw the dolphins though, swimming and playing in the water right next to he boat.

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Then they were gone and we were off, chasing after the school and found them again. This time it was:

“Flippers on! Left side jump! look down look down!

Some of us made it into he water but I was way too slow. Only on the third attempt did I make it into the water and then I was so scared I couldn’t look down. I was just concentrating on staying alive. The feeling of swimming in the deep sea with the dolphins, although I only saw them from the boat, was at the same time exhilarating and fearsome.

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The dolphins seemed to enjoy the company , they swam and jumped out of the water as if putting on a show for our benefit.   Their size and agility in the water was awesome to observe and the nearness an experience never to be forgotten

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After finding more than one school of dolphins and spending about one and a half hours on the water, we headed back to the shore.

Will I do it again? I doubt it.

After all fools rush in only once don’t they?

I Have Been Working On My Core

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“Certainly we can help you , but you will have to come for an hour of body evaluation. I can give you and appointment tomorrow”,  the very professional young voice said on the other end of the phone.

Tomorrow!  I thought  so soon,  what is a body evaluation?

The mere thought of my body being evaluated by a young person with perfectly toned muscles scares me to death. However I promised myself I will go to a Pilates class as I really need to strengthen my aging  muscles which are failing me more and more causing hip and other joint pains as well as uneccessary falls.

I made my appointment in the middle of the day hoping to avoid the late afternoon rush of young professionals.

The next day feeling very intimidated and old I arrive at the Pilates studio.

Soft music and burning  candles drove  winter cold away.  It however did not disguise the bewildering array of medieval torture looking equipment spaced throughout the studio. My anxiety levels rose, but I kept my pose and faked confidence as I announced myself and filled in a form asking all kinds of questions about health and  fitness  and my motives for being here.

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The forms filled in, the instructor welcomed me warmly and soon I was trying my very best to follow her  instructions as my muscle strength and posture were evaluated.

That was six weeks ago.

Since then I have been attending my Pilates class faithfully twice a week.  I learnt about core muscles, glutes, rhomboids, breathing, neutral pelvis and many more new and strange words.

Initially I did not even understand the  simple concept of breathing and became very confused. The co-ordination between breathing in and out while doing the excercises was just too complicated for me and often we had to stop and start all over again.  At times  my poor body felt like a house of cards about to crumble into a thousand pieces, but I kept at it.

Now six weeks later, no more pain in my hips, climbing stairs are again easy and I feel much stronger and confident that I am in control of my body.

I still don’t always understand where the core muscles, forming the powerhouse of the body are and what they are supposed to do, as I like  most of us, am unaware of these very important muscles in the body.

Nevertheless I keep working on my core, in spite of the days when I am plain just sore to the core!

Building a Piece of the Rainbow Nation

Small children’s voices singing ” Happy birthday Tata Mandela”, while marching around their school with Nelson Mandela’s picture on a poster, greet us on arrival at the Baby Therapy Centre’s outreach station in Mamelodi Pretoria.

It is the 18th of July, Mandela Day in South Africa and we are on our way to build our piece of the Rainbow Nation.

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Soon  mothers with their special needs babies start arriving. They walk long distances carrying their babies bundled in thick blankets against the biting highveld winter wind  in their arms. From the little they have, they contribute packets of biscuits, tjips and sweets, as this is their day to celebrate and thank those responsible for the new therapy building which we are opening today.

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For fifteen years a team of therapists from The Baby Therapy Centre ran a weekly therapy service in a Wendy hut in a corner of a church and nursery  school property. Special needs babies from the community attend therapy free of charge here.

Not only do these mothers and their babies  receive necessary therapy, they also form new friendships and build a network of support for one another in a society where the disabled is often still shunned and ostracized.

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Now  a dream has come true.

Due to the generosity of two companies, Adventure Shells and Discovery Medical Aid,  they will no longer suffer the heat in summer, the cold in winter, nor the indignity of no  bathroom facilities, but can be proud of their therapy rooms and buildings.

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Our team of therapists consisting of a Physio Therapist, Speech Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist, form deep relationships with their clients. Seeing their smiles and hearing their giggles of joy mean great satisfaction and reward to them.The optimal development of the children is the first and foremost goal which they strive for.

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The mothers, children, therapists and representatives from the two companies who made the new building, paving and equipment possible all mingle and enjoy the food and fellowship with one another.

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Then the special moment.

Masimolong a Bontle ! A Beautiful New beginning!

The ribbon is cut to symbolize the opening of the new building and the start of a beautiful new beginning.

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Watching the ceremony, I  pray that this building and the therapy services rendered here will truly mean a beautiful new beginning to these special babies and their families

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Late in the afternoon , the mothers and their babies walk away in a little group, chatting happily among one another.

Maybe we did build a little piece of the Rainbow Nation today.

From Tree to Table 2: Pecan Nut Pie

Taste this pecan nut pie and no other will be good enough again!

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I few weeks ago I wrote about the pecan nuts in our garden which were at that stage beginning to ripen. Now at last they are ripe and fell from the trees,  which in our home means time for a pecan nut pie.

I have tried many recipes over the years and this one is a firm favourite with everyone.So join me as I make yet another pecan nut pie.

Ingredients:

 For the pastry:
1 cup (250 ml)cake flour
a pinch of salt
100 g cold butter
2 t (10 ml) caster sugar
1 egg
4 t (20 ml) ice-cold wter
1 t (5 ml) lemon juice
a little fresh lemon zest (optional)

For the filling:
130 g pecan nuts
about 60 g butter, melted
200 ml (just under a cup) brown sugar (treacle sugar if you’re feeling particularly decadent)
2 egg yolks beaten
100 ml golden syrup
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla essence

Method :

Sift the flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour, then rub it in with cold fingertips until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, water, lemon juice and zest. Add to the flour and butter and mix quickly and lightly into a dough (the less you handle it, the better). Wrap in clingwrap and put in the fridge for about 30 mins.Take it out, roll it quickly and lightly into a circle, and use it to line a pie dish.

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Arrange the pecans  in the pastry case in  a single layer.

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Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan on the stove. Ad the beaten egg yolks slowly and let simmer for about five minutes while stirring continuously. Add the vanilla essence.

Pour the warm syrup mixture carefully over the nuts (they will float to the top).

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Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes. When you take the pie out the oven, it will still look runny – leave it for about 20 minutes to set

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Serve with vanilla ice cream and coffee.

Rivonia Unmasked: 1963 – Rainbow Nation Unmasked: 2013

The 18th of July, marks the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

Amidst all the media reports of his illness and people bringing tributes and prayers for his recovery, I thought about our country and the state it finds itself in.

Today I venture where I promised myself I will not go, the political and social arena of my country. However,  with so much going on around me and so many feelings and thoughts  swirling in my mind, I have to break my own rule and vent my feelings.

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Rivonia Unmasked.

1963. 

Adult whispers in the house, conversations suddenly stopped when we, the kids entered the room, words such as communists, terrorists, anarchy, heard and not understood. Fear in my childish mind causing nightmares of hordes of Zulu Impis storming the house and killing us all! The visions of the Zulu Impis being the legacy of history lessons in school teaching about the Great Trek of the Voortrekkers ( pioneers) from the Cape of Good Hope to the Transvaal.

This was the atmosphere in the average white middle class home in 1963.

The year when Nelson Mandela and his co accused were facing their trial after being captured in the suburb of Rivonia in Johannesburg South Africa.

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Nelson Mandela and his co accused were sent to  prison. Then followed a period of 27 years when South Africa was a turbulent place to live in. Bombs exploded in public places, killing and maiming many innocent people, violent scenes between police forces and protesters were common sights on the evening news.Young men died in border skirmishes between the then terrorists and soldiers. Atrocities took place on both sides.

Yes we did live in an unjust society, but on an individual level people of all races lived peacefully together.

Many times I wondered whether I will live long enough to marry have children and a career, or will I also be one of the unfortunate ones caught in the violence?

Time passed and I did have my career, marriage and children.

In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Together  with many other people I watched him walking free, not knowing what to expect, After all we the white people of South Africa could now be held accountable for the time he spent in prison.

Turned out, not so!

No this man I knew and feared as a terrorist, showed the greatest character and spirit of forgiveness. A true leader and peacemaker.

I am deeply thankful towards Nelson Mandela for the way in which he handled his freedom. He is a beacon of hope in the history of our country. Now he is old and sick , unable to influence those in positions of power , unable to influence the future  direction of our country and together with many others I fear for this beautiful home of ours.

Rainbow Nation Unmasked.

2013

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The Rainbow Nation was born in 1994 when the first democratic government in South Africa was elected.

 Now 19 years later I ask myself  what has changed ?

Yes we have a democratically elected government. Do we?

Why then do I hear ordinary citizens say they are afraid not to vote for a certain political party as their  houses will be burnt if they do not vote for the right party.

A myth?

Maybe, but a real one in their minds.

Yes all are equal, Are we?

Why are young adults who were born after 1994 and who had no part in apartheid or the injustices of the past being blamed and set aside due to the colour of their skin? Yes it still happens, only now the colour not to be is white.

Why do we still pass homeless people sleeping underneath a tree in the cold winter, while others enrich themselves with money meant to help the unfortunate among us?

Why do children still have to go to school and try to learn while sharing one chair or even sitting on the ground underneath a tree in all weathers? Others have to write exams after never receiving textbooks intended for them to learn from.

A legacy of apartheid after 19 years as is proclaimed on the news?

I don’t think so.

Yes all are free. Are we?

Why do we live in bondage of fear aggression and hate?

Fear, anger and aggression are  bubbling just beneath the surface of our society. Scenes of the very people who were the receivers of  freedom gained from the struggle, protesting violently against poor governance  and service delivery are again common sights on the evening news. Violence between police forces and ordinary citizens are again seen.

Nineteen years of freedom and democracy and still we  hear apartheid being blamed for injustices prevalent in our country.

Yes,we are the Rainbow Nation. Are we?

Why do I see only  a fragmented rainbow with darkness, anger and fear fragmenting and driving the different colours of the rainbow apart.

No the Rainbow Nation is not a shining rainbow, shimmering in the African sun.

The Rivonia trial unmasked the struggle for freedom and the onset of an even greater struggle, leading up to 1994.

What event or who will unmask the Rainbow Nation, the inequalities, the corruption, the poor governance and service delivery?

In the meantime ordinary lives are lived, young people marry, babies are born, the old pass away. Now is the time for all South Africans no matter colour, race or culture to stand together.  Let us make the time and effort to stretch out a hand of friendship to a family or individuals of another race. Let us pray for our government and the people of this country.

Maybe with God’s help we can still become a true Rainbow Nation.