Friday, October 29, 2004

Helluva Hail Storm! Oct. 28, 2004

They get hail in South Africa!  Who knew?  Fortunately, unlike at home where hail can mean there is a tornado in the area, they dont get tornadoes here at all.  Is that because of the clockwise/counter-clockwise difference in air movement in the southern hemisphere?  Do we have any weather experts reading this Blog?


We have been very dry here, and in need of rain, so when the thunder started late Wednesday afternoon, it was welcomed.  Pretty soon though, there were chunks of ice falling from the sky.  Not great timing, as we were all getting ready for a nice retirement dinner cruise on the river for one of the staff here, Carole.  Carole has worked here since Stonehaven began as a business in 1994.  She and her husband Tom are friends of Rex and Rose from way back (about 1976).  They are British, but lived in Zambia for 7 years before settling in South Africa in the mid-70s, so they have an interesting background.  Here is a picture of Carole and myself at a braai in 1984:


And here we are on our wet dinner cruise last night:


And a group shot of the gang:


It was not a great evening for a dinner cruise on the river, but we made the most of it.  The hail subsided but it rained throughout the evening, so we stayed inside on the boat.  Later in the evening (after midnight), more hail came and did pretty severe damage to parts of town near here, but fortunately spared Stonehaven and especially Rosemarys rose bushes.


We also have a new garden here, where Rosemary is trying to grow food for the restaurant to use in cooking.  Herbs, lettuce, vegetables and all sorts of things are popping up, and Jenny and Mariette go picking some days.


There is a small corner of the Accounting office where I do some work sometimes, on the new time clock system, and other projects going on.  Yesterday they decided that little corner where I work was too dark, so they put up a new light.  The new light is so bright, I am sure it can be seen from space at night.  So today I walked in and put on sunglasses to make a point.  Kali (the growing Great Dane) had to get some morning loving from me at the same time (yes, big muddy feet and all).


There was also a lunar eclipse here last night, my first to see in the southern hemisphere.  Was it visible in the northern hemisphere as well?  I wasnt sure what time it was to occur, so woke up about 1am and it was still cloudy and raining, but I did see the moon peek through and it wasnt eclipsing.  So I woke up again at 4am and looked out to see the eclipse just peaking, and it was spectacularly clear.  I sat up for about an hour watching it before it sank below the tree line in the west.  My horoscope this week said the lunar eclipse is always a good time to leave bad things behind and have a fresh, positive beginning.  Unfortunately (fortunately!) I dont think I really have bad things to leave behind, but if positive karma comes from a lunar eclipse, Ill take some!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tourist stuff, Oct. 22, 2004

Sorry for lack of Blog postings this week.  With the Orcadians in town (friends of Rex from Scotland), it has been a touristy week.  Rosemary and Rex took them up to Pilansburg and Sun City for a couple of days to do a game drive there and see Sun City (kind of the Las Vegas of South Africa from what I can tell … I havent been there yet).  I stayed at Stonehaven to hold the fort down here.  John and Storm stayed with friends in Jo-burg, so Sarah was my only worry, but she did fine without mom and dad (thanks to Miriam who tended to her).  There were no calamities, no crises, no drama.  Always a good thing when none of those happen.


Oh, and I helped decorate for a nautical themed function earlier this week.  Rosemary has a ton of old sea paraphernalia (parts of ships, pictures, etc.) lying around, some of which came from Rexs family in Scotland, some of which she has picked up over the years just for decoration.  So when a nautical themed function comes along, the function staff raids the cottage for things to use.  Here I am with some of the goods:


On Thursday we went into Jo-burg for some shopping and hit the Brumer Flea Market, a large African goods outdoor market.  There was plenty of beautiful African art, carvings, paintings, and clothing, with some tacky things thrown in for good measure.  Great, cheap prices for the most part, and they vendors would barter and give you discounts without much trouble.  I did a little shopping.  I am planning on coming home with a lot of African goods.


We then proceeded to Gold Reef City, to take in the Gold Mine Museum there.  Gold Reef City is like a Six Flags Over Georgia amusement ride park, but the Gold Mine Museum is inside it and worth the admission alone.  In addition to the museum, we got to go down into a gold mine and see how it was done long ago vs. how it is done today.  We rode the lift down to Level 5, which is 236 meters underground.  (The mine goes down to Level 57, which is over 3,000 meters below the surface, but we obviously didnt go that far down)  We all wore hardhats and had lights to carry.  When we got to Level 5, there were some electric lights on, but we walked off into side tunnels where there is only total darkness outside of our lights.  They showed us modern tools used for mining, and tools used a century ago.  I think if anyone suffers claustrophobia at all, they would be most uncomfortable doing the tour, but it didnt bother me or the others with us.  We did turn out our lights at one point, and it is definitely pitch black down there.


Back up on the surface, we watched some traditional African dancers:


Back at Stonehaven, we did a dinner cruise on the Royal Stonehaven in honor of the Orcadians.  Dinner was a seafood potjie.  A little bit like gumbo, with prawns (yeah, thats what they call shrimp here) and oysters, served over rice.  All it needed was some okra!  After dinner we sat on the top deck (beautiful evening, cool, but not too cool, half moon, clear sky) where we sampled (too many) after dinner liqueurs.


That last picture is our friend Tom (whom I first met here in 1984) telling a great dirty joke.  Use your imagination.


Friday night we had a fondue dinner here at Stonehaven with some South African touches.  Here is a picture of our table:


The meats we cooked in our fondue pots were beef, chicken, lamb and ostrich.  This was the first time Ive tasted ostrich (overcoming my traumatic visit to an ostrich farm when I was here in 1984, but thats another story for another time).  It was delicious, like smoked bacon.  We had dipping sauces for our food: peri-peri (Portuguese spice), pepper, cheese, garlic, mushroom and monkeygland (which has nothing to do with monkeys, but is a tomato and onion sauce served with a lot of foods here--- no one can really tell me why the name).


More time on the river this weekend.  Im learning to drive the speedboat so I can pull Rex skiing as the summer goes on.  Hes an expert skier.  John is pretty good too.  Storm can do it, but doesnt enjoy skiing that much.  An interesting thing about my driving the boat on the river is that they keep to the right (unlike driving cars where they drive on the left).  I am told this is just the international waterway rule, that you pass on the right.  Seems kind of odd, but makes it easier for me, so I dont complain.


Guinness was at it again on Saturday.  We had a wedding here where the bride arrived to a live Scottish bagpipe playing music.  (When Rosemary and Rex married here at Stonehaven in 1980, she surprised him with a Scottish bagpiper at the wedding, so it has actually become somewhat of a tradition for some Stonehaven weddings to also have the Scottish bagpiper).  Well, Im not sure if this is the first bagpipe Guinness has ever heard, but he did NOT like that noise, and actually went for the piper and had to be pulled off!  Needless to say, Guinness spent the rest of the day chained up, which he did not understand at all, since he assumed the wedding was all for him.  He was only protecting the guests from that horrible bagpipe monster.


Oh, also, Spring has really sprung here.  Wahoooooooo!  Some pictures of Rosemarys rose garden, which hasnt quite peaked yet, believe it or not:


I will try to post more rose garden pictures over the next few weeks, as the roses really get going.  Something to look forward to!  Oh, one other sign that Spring has sprung--- the tortoises are mating!  I am not kidding here.  They told me I will not believe the noise a tortoise makes when mating.  I did witness the grand event today, but this one wasnt making much noise at all.  (When it happens, I will see if I can post a sound clip here!  Something else to look forward to!)  It does look like this little fella woke up feeling very ambitious today, doesnt it!


Oh gosh, I hope I didnt just turn this Blog into an Internet porn site.  Never say I dont try to keep it entertaining!

Monday, October 18, 2004

A weekend on the river! Oct. 18, 2004

It was a busy week at Stonehaven last week.  With the Spring weather in full blast, there are a lot of functions booked, and on these clear, sunny days and evenings, the lawn restaurant, and bar and pub stay packed with customers.  We had a VIP group in on Wednesday, and Guinness thought the red carpet was for him:


Also last week we had a group bring in a hot air balloon.  Kali wasnt too sure about what the hell it was, but she was more interested in the turtle dove who was checking things out himself:


On Friday, we had to make welcome pineapple drinks for 200 people for a function, which unfortunately involved coring out the insides of 200 pineapples.  Me and Mariette hard at work (apologies to my friends who are always frightened by pictures of me in a kitchen):


I saved the juice I was getting from the pineapples to have later with some Captain Morgan rum.  Yum!  I did about 80 pineapples before my hands started bleeding, and although I have had all my tests and am healthy as a horse, bleeding in the food is probably never a good idea, so I retired.


On to the weekend.  We have a veritable United Nations here at Stonehaven at the moment, as Rex has Scottish friends visiting from his home in the Orkney Islands.  They speak with very heavy brogue accents, but I can follow along if I pay attention.  We took them to a nearby zoo on Friday afternoon (just 10 minutes from Stonehaven actually) and saw some wonderful sights.  Rex made friends with this little fellow, a warthog.  Is he a cutie or what?!?!


Wasnt he in The Lion King?


We saw a baby hippo that was fascinated by a floating Coke can:


Took him awhile, but he finally caught the thing and munched on it.  I dont think it was as good as he thought it would be.


Rex also made friends with a very strange looking bird that we couldnt quite ID (Rex was popular at the zoo!):


And the Lion King himself:

To hear his roar, try this link (I have no idea if this will work):


The zoo there also has a small game reserve area where they offer game rides, but having done the real thing in Botswana, I havent tested this one yet.


Saturday and Sunday we hit the river on the speedboat.  Here are John and Storm on the water:


I took a turn in the tube thingie:


Rosemary had Sarah-Pat slathered down in sunblock:


Sunday afternoon we took the boat down to Shag Pad for a braai:


Again, I hate to make people nervous, but look who cooked!:


It was a leisurely afternoon, and after my braai duties were finished, I camped on the lawn with my wine and watched the others ski:


Some other pictures from our ride down the river…

A barrage just down from Shag Pad that monitors river water levels:

This house belongs to golfer Ernie Els:

A rainbow that popped up on our ride home:


Saturday night we went to a great restaurant nearby that specializes in authentic South Africa dishes, like bobotie (like a mince beef dish), curries, boerwors (a sausage), biltong (beef jerky) and other dishes, served in buffet style so you can sample several at one meal.  At one point in the evening, the chefs sang an African song as they strolled through the restaurant… here is another sound clip to try out:


Sounds like I was really in Africa, doesnt it?  Hey, I was!


At the end of the weekend, Guinness felt obligated to check on customers, so just plopped himself (completely uninvited) on some poor unsuspecting couples table.  Fortunately they were dog lovers and went right along with the charm and ambiance that is Stonehaven:


I had a glass of wine with Guinness later:


Rosemary and Rex have now left for a couple of days to take the Orkadians (people from Orkney) for a visit a game park called Pilansburg, not far from here (3 hours or so).  John and Storm are staying with friends in Jo-burg near their schools.  So its me and Sarah-Pat left at Stonehaven.  Actually Miriam is here to watch Sarah 24 hours a day, so hopefully I wont have to get involved in any Sarah-crises!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Rotary Speech in November, Ideas? Oct. 15, 2004

I am giving a speech to Rexs Rotary Club on Nov. 4th and am looking for ideas if anyone has any.  I think I have mentioned before in this blog, that the year that Rosemary lived in the U.S., one of the speeches she made that year was to my grandfathers Rotary Club in Brundidge.  For years after that, my grandparents always talked about that speech and wanted to know how Rosemary was doing.  Rex is President of the club here, and they have a monthly speaker, so he slated me in for November.  It will be 2 days after our Presidential election, so the timing will be good to have some interesting news from back home.  But I also want to make the speech relevant and interesting to the South Africans here.  They definitely know (in general) a lot more about our country than we know about theirs already.  But I thought I would focus on the places I have lived, and what makes those places special… Louisiana, Kansas, Chicago, and of course, Alabama and Atlanta, and the SOUTH in general.  I think they would enjoy hearing about our Civil Rights movement, and how our struggles with it have been similar to what South Africa is experiencing now, with the downfall of Apartheid 10 years ago.  (Some in South Africa expect things to be fixed so fast, but the U.S. is still struggling 40ish years after the Civil Rights Act was passed.)  Anyway, I want to include visuals in my speech, with pictures, quotes, etc.  If anyone has any ideas, or knows of good web sites where I could find Southern history, Civil Rights information, or anything else you think might be interesting for them to hear about the Southern U.S. I am open to ideas!  As always, thanks for your support.

Monday, October 11, 2004

I voted! Oct. 11, 2004

Guess what arrived in the mail today.  My absentee ballot for the November election back home!   I was beginning to think I was lost in the system and wouldnt be able to vote, but here it is:


Now who should I vote for?  We have somewhat followed the debates over here.  Rosemary was really keen on staying up to watch them live, but neither of us could muster the energy to get up at 2am to watch.  So we watch reports on CNN and read the internet on how they went, which is really not fair because we are getting their versions and opinions on how they went.  They do show clips from the debates of course, but only the clips they select to show.  Without turning this Blog into a political forum, here is what Im feeling and thinking:  with my current international mind-set here (I am seeing America from the outside looking in) I am inclined to vote against Bush (not FOR Kerry).  Maybe we need to show the world that we do not approve of things Bush has done.  In political discussions here (the kind in the newspapers and the kind I have over beer and wine in the pub!), they joke about Americas inclination to invade countries at the drop of a hat (or WMD rumor).  Rosemary says she wishes the U.S. would invade South Africa; they would lay down and surrender here, so there would be no bloodshed, and she could finally, after all these years, become an American citizen (she loves America).


All that being said, can I possibly vote for Kerry?  Eeeeewwww.  On my official absentee ballot, there is this 3rd candidate that I have never even heard of.  Who the hell is Michael Badnarik?  Oh, hes the Libertarian candidate.  Then there is Mr. Write-In, listed just below him.  But if I vote for either of those 2, am I just throwing my vote away?  And will my vote even matter in the great state of Georgia?  We arent Florida (thank god), so I dont think my vote will swing any election, but who knows.  So with these thoughts and worries running through my mind, I proudly cast my vote as a citizen of the United States of America, the greatest country on the face of the earth:


So PLEASE, no one yell at me for how I voted.  Save your passionate Republican or Democratic speeches for someone who doesnt hate both parties equally.


And yes, with all our problems, we really are still greatly admired as a country, and I am very proud to be an American, and I am proud to vote for whomever I voted for!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Locked out, Oct. 9, 2004

It was a comedy of errors here Friday night.  The result was that I spent half the night sleeping in the back seat of Rexs bakkie (his old pickup truck which he dearly loves as only a man can love his truck).  There is just never a dull moment around here.


The trail of events started Thursday night when there was a prowler at Stonehaven sometime in the middle of the night.  Security men patrol Stonehaven at night (as with any business here), and when they spotted the guy, set off the alarm (along with 9 dogs barking of course) and gave chase.  They didnt catch him, but the guy didnt steal anything either, that we know of.  He was probably just after liquor that is left in the function room bars, locked up.  This happens from time to time, and puts everyone on edge. 


So Friday night, Rosemary, Rex, the kids and I drove into Johannesburg to attend a school function at Johns school.  It was an outdoor event where people bring blankets, food, wine, etc. (like Screen on the Green in Atlanta!) and there was a big fireworks display.  It would have been a wonderful evening, except that a cold front had come through that day and it was windy and probably around 50 degrees.  Not pleasant weather for sitting outside.  (Basically, its April here, and just like April at home, where its warm for a week and you think spring/summer is here, then a cold front comes through and you are digging out winter clothes again.  That was how it was) 

Here is a picture from early in the evening:


And us by the end of the evening:


Not exactly a warm Spring night, heh.


So we got back from Jo-burg late, all of us cold and sleepy.  We said goodnight and I headed upstairs to my room.  Unbeknownst to us at that point, one of the cleaning ladies had taken it upon herself earlier to lock up my room, in case the prowler came back.  Now I rarely lock my room at all, except from the inside, when I sleep at night.  But when I go out, I always leave it unlocked.  My entrance is behind a fence, and in a lighted area, and though not completely foolproof from burglary, it has just never seemed necessary to lock it when I go out.  Especially in the evening when there is plenty of staff around that would notice anyone near my room that shouldnt be there.  So there I was, with no key to get into my room.  My nice warm bed was so close but so far away!  I went back down to the cottage where Rex and Rose live, and started knocking on their doors.   I figured the key to my place was hanging on their key rack (which it was).  Their bedroom is upstairs and basically, I couldnt get them to hear me.  They also have no phone upstairs, and they had left their cell phones downstairs (I rang them both), so that was no help.  To make a long story short (too late!), I was stuck.  I figured, OK, I can sleep in the back seat of Rexs bakkie --- how bad could it be?  It was unlocked, so crawled in and tried to sleep.  It was by now in the high 40s temperature-wise, and I didnt sleep much.  The bar was packed and rocking with drunk people dancing and smoking and hitting on each other, or I would have gone in there.  Finally at 2am, this bakkie idea wasnt seeming like such a good choice.  I was really cold, and the bar music had been cut off, so I went in there, figuring they could lock me in the bar for the night where at least it was warm.  One of the mangers on duty (we were all having a good laugh at my predicament) came up with the idea of using a ladder to get me onto my balcony, and I knew I hadnt locked my balcony door (and was hoping the cleaning lady hadnt checked it!).  So off we go to get a ladder out of the storage room.  I climbed up, opened the balcony door and presto, I was in.  Halle-freaking-lujah.  I thanked the manager below, and he said he would leave the ladder there for now and return it to the storage shed the next day.  So off I go to sleep, in my nice, warm bed that wasnt like the backseat of a bakkie at all.


Early the next morning, one of the staff sees this ladder at my balcony and alerts Rosemary to it (she was up and around early anyway).  They have no clue why its there, but surely a prowler wouldnt take the trouble to get a ladder out just to get into my room when Im sleeping soundly there, would they?  Word had spread that I had slept in the bakkie, but Rosemary just thought someone was confused, and that couldnt possibly be true.  So they moved the ladder so as not to worry me, if I wake up and see this ladder there.  A little later in the morning, I did wake up and realized I was now locked in my room (the key to lock it from the inside was used to lock it from the outside and was now in the cottage).  So I phoned Rex on his cell.

Me: Rex, its kinda a long story, but Im locked in my room.  Can you find a key to let me out?

Rex: Youre locked in your room?

Background noise of Rosemary laughing hysterically.  Over and over and over and over.


So many times in my life, I have been in strange predicaments only to have Rosemary lurking somewhere off to the side laughing hysterically.  Im glad she finds me funny.


Well, they came up and rescued me, and the cleaning lady who started the whole thing was mortified, but she was just doing what she thought was right, so none of us could be mad at her.   All day long, Stonehaven staff greeted me with big grins and asked if I had had a good sleep the night before.  Word gets around here and I have no privacy, which is fine, actually.  I had a good laugh along with them.  But I will be getting mileage from this for awhile, dont you worry.  It might be years before I stop reminding Rosemary about that time I had to sleep in the bakkie. 


And I hope I never have to sit in the backseat of that damn bakkie again.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Stud-finders, Oct. 8, 2004

Thanks to the friends I emailed looking for a beam-finder, only to find out the thing Im looking for is called a stud-finder.  Who thought up that name?  Why do I have a hard time saying it with a straight face?  Rex is doing some work on the boat here, the Royal Stonehaven, and needed to find a beam that is below the floor.  From doing some work in the U.S., he knew there was a device that could, using sonic x-rays or laser vision or something like that, locate a beam under the floor.  The houses here are not built the way they are in the States, so no such device exists here.  Even though we managed (via friends back home) to get a part number for a Black and Decker stud-finder, they just dont have them in South Africa.  Stand by; we might need one shipped here.


Here, they build the houses here from concrete block.  No studs in the walls.  Hard brick floors.  We break a glass daily, it seems like (I keep saying lets just go to plastic!).  And poor Sarah-Pat and her friends, when toddlers fall on these hard floors, well, lets just say they try not to fall often.  There is no air-conditioning here, but I am told (and so far its true) that the concrete keeps the houses wonderfully cool during the hot summer days.  In winter, they only use space heaters placed around, to keep the houses warm. 


Food shopping is interesting here.  We live in a restaurant at Stonehaven, so we basically have food to order anytime we want.  I keep my room upstairs somewhat stocked with snack and breakfast food, coffee, tea, etc.  When I run out of milk, I go downstairs and next door to the kitchen and grab a fresh litre out of the storeroom refrigerator.  When I run out of wine (in a box of course), I ask the bar to get me a new box.  Same with coffee and tea; I just get some from the restaurant.   But certain things we still go to the grocery store for.  Mostly bread, bananas, cookies, and little stuff.  Sometimes I tag along on grocery store excursions.  Rosemary usually takes Sarah-Pat, because she thinks its good brain-stimulation for Sarah to see all the things available in stores.  So of course, Miriam goes with us to keep track of Sarah.  And it is usually 2 or 3 big grocery carts of food and supplies before we are done.  (Rosemary and I both have strong memories of my mother and Eula doing these same type shopping expeditions to Triones Grocery Store in downtown Daphne as a regular thing.  The whole small grocery store staff would pitch in to load my mother and Eula up with groceries.  But they were shopping for a house full of teenagers and their friends … it was a wild time in our household and Rosemary remembers it very fondly, as do I.)  We dont even bother with grocery bags.  Just throw it all back into the carts, then out to the car, load it all in the back of the Land Rover and drive home.  Once home, it becomes a group effort with all the cleaning ladies around to unload things to the kitchen.  It is wild.


There some other small touches here that Rosemary took from her time in America.  Like cuckoo clocks.  Our house in Daphne always had (it seemed like) a dozen cuckoo clocks that my parents had picked up on their travels.  They never all went off at the same time (if they did, dishes would probably break), but rather all individually.  Its the same here in the cottage.  Clocks everywhere, many of them cuckoo clocks with their own tunes and chimes. 


Wild grocery shopping and cuckoo clocks.  A little bit of Daphne come to South Africa.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

My trip to Neyland Stadium, Oct. 2, 2004

Those wacky crazy friends of mine back home.  OK, so I hooked them up with tickets to the Auburn-Tennessee game, all the way from South Africa.  OK, so I made a little picture of myself proclaiming Death to Rocky Top and sent it to them.  OK so I made references to my being there in spirit.  Thanks to Stu, Leslie and Tadlock, it seems more than my spirit attended the game in Knoxville last Saturday night.


Here I am being picked up game-morning by Stu:


Jeez, I look like the poster child for some disease (hey hey hey, no comments from my non-Auburn friends and relatives).


Here I am being carefully put into the back seat for the ride up to Knoxville for the game.


Is that the Road Atlas in front of me?  Am I in charge of directions to get us there?  What time is kickoff?


Tadlock joined me in the back seat for a cocktail and some pre-game strategy talk.


Thank goodness Im wearing my seat belt.  Safety first!


Ah, time for some serious tailgating now.


That had better be a rum and Diet Dr. Pepper there in the BIG cup for me!  (they dont have Dr. Pepper in South Africa.  I do miss it so.)


The obligatory tailgating group shot.  Stu, me, Leslie and Tadlock:


Eventually we adjourned to a nearby sports bar, for waitress-service tailgating, and TVs to watch the UGAly vs. LSWho game.


Now I am pretty certain, that by this time, tipsy people dressed in orange MUST have been donating money to my cause (whatever that may be).  However, none in my party have admitted to accepting cash or shown me any records for charity received.  I am dubious.


Nice hat, Stu.


Careful not to spill your drink on me there, Leslie.  Now the last game I attended in person with Leslie was the Southern Cal game last year.  I was very nervous our combined karma might prove disaster for Auburn once again.  So I poured another rum and Diet Dr. Pepper.  Or I asked them to pour it for me.  We MUST break our jinx.


So off we headed to the stadium.  Look, even the guy over Stus shoulder is toasting me.  I bet he gave them money for my cause, too.


FINALLY!  Here we are settled into our seats in Neyland Stadium, ready for some major ass-whupping.


Tadlock was on the phone with last minute instructions for his bookie, no doubt.


I am absolutely positive that our combined energy could be felt by the team, and propelled us to those 31 first-half points.  Since there were no more photos of the evening, I have to assume the post-game party was just as much fun as the pre-game party, though I have no memory of it for some reason. 


Its grrrreat to have friends!


I have shown several people down here these photos from my day and they really think Americans are whacky now.  But I am pretty sure they will stop asking me: Do you think we South Africans are crazy for being so obsessed with rugby?


Now they have seen real craziness!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Sunday pictures, Oct. 3, 2004

Well I think the AU-UT game was worth my staying up for.  I crawled in bed about 5am when the game ended, slept till about 9am and got up to read the online news articles on the game.  I guess I could have gone to bed a lot earlier, since it was pretty much wrapped up by halftime, but I needed to be there in spirit, just in case I was needed.  I have only been to Neyland Stadium once, back in 1997 for a 24-0 loss, so I really wish I could have been there for this one.  Oh well, its just a football game, played by college boys, that a billion Chinese people didnt even know was being played.  And Im in South Africa!


I went for a mid-day run, to enjoy the heat that has settled in on us.  It has been up in the mid-80s, which is hot to the folks here, but not to me.  Still dry, no rain in sight, although it did rain one evening last week, only the second rain since I have been here.  So it was a dry hot day. The kids hit the pool.  Here is a shot of Sisipho, Thando, Miriam and Sarah-Pat:


For some reason, Sarahs fingers go to her mouth whenever we get out the camera.  Miriam gets the daily job of keeping Sarah, and believe me, thats a handful.  Miriams daughter, Sisipho, is in 1st grade, so usually just Thando (cousin of Sisipho) is Sarahs daily playmate and best buddy.


Storm tried to get Sarah to come in the water with her, but the water was pretty frigid!


Here is a shot of 6 of the function ladies that work here.  It was a busy Sunday afternoon, so those after-work cocktails were well deserved:


Later in the afternoon, we went for a sunset ride on the speedboat, up the river.  There was actually a little industrial espionage involved, since we wanted to spy on a new Party Boat that a hotel upstream has just launched. Gotta keep up on the competition, ya know.  Some pictures from our ride:


Yep, thats Rosemary driving us home in the dark.  Not as scary as it sounds, as she seemed to know what she was doing.  We ended the evening with a nice dinner and more wine on the patio, and I hit the sack early, still catching up on sleep from my wild football Saturday night.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Tennis! Oct. 2, 2004

Played tennis today for the first time since I have been here.  A man that Rosemary does business with here asked me to join his Saturday afternoon social doubles group.  I enjoyed it, but it was definitely old man tennis.  Not that theres anything wrong with that, and to not have picked up a racket in 3 months, it is probably best that I started with that level!  It was very social stuff, although they mostly talked in Afrikaans, so I missed out on whatever they were talking about.  But it was great to get out and hit.


We stayed up a bit too late last night, for Rosemarys birthday.  We managed to throw her a surprise party, which wasnt easy.  I told everyone here to just tell me as little as possible, as I am a terrible liar, and I avoided her most of the afternoon so I didnt have to bluff anything.  But we managed to pull off the surprise.  Here is a picture of Rose with her brother, Peter:


And blowing out the candles:


I think there were about 18 of us family and friends and co-workers for the dinner party.  It was a fairly quiet evening, but we did sit up talking till about 1:30am.


And now its 1:30am Saturday night here, and I am about to go tune into the radio broadcast of the Auburn game.  Hope its worth losing sleep over!

Friday, October 01, 2004

A girls day out, Oct. 1, 2004

Rosemary is a birthday girl today!  I think it is the first time she and I have been together on her birthday since 1976.  (We have been together for mine at times over the years)  I couldnt decide what to get her for her birthday, and I dont go out shopping very much here anyway (not that Im complaining, since I hate shopping).  My only good option would have been to find her something at the local Pic N Pay, which is like a WalMart (lots of fun to wander in, and they have everything!  But a birthday present from Pic N Pay didnt seem right.).  So I came up with the idea of her and me doing a girls day out at the spa.  There, we could bond, gossip, be pampered, and maybe most of all, get away from the daily stress at Stonehaven that is Rosemarys life.  So I spoke with some of her girlfriends for ideas, and they pointed me to the Saxon Hotel, a beautiful small, luxury, boutique hotel in Johannesburg.  I called, booked us in, and off we went.  We had to drive up anyway to drop the kids at school in Jo-burg anyway (on the way, we practiced Storms project for the day --- she had to write and deliver a sun-glasses commercial in Afrikaans in front of her class), so after doing that, with help of a map, we found the Saxon Hotel and boy was it nice.  Seriously up-market, as they say here.  They gave us our robes and slippers and we went into separate rooms for our full-body massages.  After that, we went to a gazebo outside next to the pool where we were treated to manicures and pedicures.  We had a great time talking to the girls doing our nails, about things like the rich people who stay at the Saxon, like Oprah.  (Oprah does some incredible work here in South Africa, and is very hands-on and involved in projects she has going, to get money and food and clothes and education to the people here, and especially the black women of South Africa.)  After our morning treatments, we went to a nearby Phipps Plaza-type mall for lunch, where, surprise, 7 of Rosemarys girlfriends were waiting for us with a couple of bottles of wine, and we truly had a girls lunch.   To think, some people do this every day!  It was a treat for Rosemary and I am glad I could get her away from the daily grind for a fun day. 


Here is a picture of me with the Birthday Girl at the Saxon.  Do we look relaxed and pampered or what?


And another of me:


This morning, her official birthday, the staff at Stonehaven sang her a traditional African birthday song (at least I think thats what they were singing to her):


Notice how the blacks are singing and dancing and the whites are standing there watching.  So typical!


Unfortunately we lost another Stonehaven employee last night, to AIDS.  He is the one who had asked Rosemary to take him to a hospice a couple of weeks ago.  At the hospice, they counseled him on getting on the retro-viral medicine that is helping people here live with HIV.  He didnt listen to them though, and wanted to borrow R2,500 (about $400) to give to a witch doctor who said he could cure Johannes of HIV.  That, unfortunately, is the mentality of the black people here.  Condoms and retro-viral medicines arent necessary to stop AIDS, when (for a price of course!) the local witch doctor promises that he can do it.  Johannes died last night.  At least it was relatively quick.
Oh, and Click Here to see my long distance dedication to the Auburn-Tennessee Game (which I will be listening to at 2am my time).