Little Creatures – II

Things have been a little crazy at The Sandbag House this last while – we have had a borehole drilled – and we found water!  So, that and a couple of other things has meant little time to actually pour the “brew” out of my head.  Suffice it to say, there is a stock building and the “brew” is maturing.

Anyway, as I am still working through old posts for publication here, I thought see what I still had in my “draft” folder.  This one struck me – it’s the time of year that little creatures emerge, so here we are.  This was first published some time in 2014, and when I was still learning how to drive my then new Samsung bridge camera.

It’s an eclectic collection of photographs from in and around The Sandbag House:

SpiderJan2015
A thirsty rain spider nestled between the stalks of some cut flowers
RedBishopBirdFeederJan2015
A very bullish Red Bishop weaver bird in the feeder, still in his glorious breeding plumage. A bit blurry. Not sure if that was his feathers or the photographer….
SunbirdAphidsJan2015
Sunbird feasting on aphids. Somewhere, I have in the sun – glorious green and red plumage – I must dig it out.
Mr and Mrs Cape Sparrow
Mr and Mrs Cape Sparrow
WagtailJan2015
Cheeky little wagtail grubbing around – actually, I think that’s a hapless dragon fly
Gossamer-winged dragonfly about to be set free
Gossamer-winged dragonfly on the window frame – about to be set free

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa


Photo: Selma

Post Script

In addition to WordPress I blog on a number of platforms:

  • Steemit – a crypto, social network and blogging platform, to which I post from WordPress using the SteemPress plugin.
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  • Narrative, a crypto blogging platform
  • Instagram is a mostly visual platform where I post microblogs about fluff:  usually food and the cats; posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.

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Misty days

Often on a Sunday, we host Sunday Suppers.  Tonight not so and I got to going through some photographs I took one Sunday morning in June.  Each season has its moods.  These epitomise our winter mornings. This Sunday dawned misty and I grabbed my “proper” camera rather than my mobile.

The two photos that follow are taken from the corner on which we live:  the first looking down the road and the second up the Road to Nowhere.

Taken at 08.24
Taken at 08.25

And then the mist came down.

Less than 30 seconds later looking west-ish past our drive way gate.
And then I went back up the hill, looking down past the house at 08.28
At 09.48 from our stoep towards the driveway.

None of these photos has been edited.  The last week or so has been an odd one.  Three people I care about have lost people they care about.  I wish them well as they make their way through the mists of grief into the light.

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa


Photo: Selma

Post Script

  • I blog on two platforms:  WordPress and Instagram, and the former auto posts to Steemit.  Instagram is a mostly visual platform where I post microblogs about fluff:  usually food and the cats; posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.
  • My WordPress site is hosted by fellow Steemian, @gmuxx, with fees paid in crypto currency: Steem Based Dollars.  If you want more information, join the Steemblogs Club on Discord

On the Steem platform, I am part of these communities

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Monday: wasn’t that last week?

I can’t believe that Monday is just about over.  Last time I looked, it was Monday, and that was a week ago.

The weekend went by in a flash and was more social than is our usual custom, including with a later-than-usual Sunday Supper, so we really did feel Monday this morning.

Focus has been a bit of a challenge today, not helped by a stopped-up shower outlet.  It’s Monday, you know….  I did, though, mange to get through most of my “to do list”.

I had to find some photographs for another reason, and came across these.  They’re all a bit random, but I love them.

I loved this fascinating sculpture at a wine estate outside Paarl. I could have spend hours just photographing it – created from bits of old farming implements.  A photograph from 2014.
No, it’s not what you think. Yes, it looks like an antique telephone – who remembers the rotary dials? On closer inspection, it really is faux. And it’s genuine plastic. In a restaurant in Paternoster. A photograph from 2016.
I went through a phase where I was fascinated with lines and rows and symmetry – and how to photograph them. This photo, from 2017, is of tin cans that I re-purposed as cutlery caddies and paper napkin holders.
This is in a friend’s garden:  I love the re-purposed pallet and the clever use of old wine bottles for interest and colour. The monochrome, though, shows the texture of the urn and the wood to better effect.  This 2017 photograph is a reminder of a wonderful afternoon of wine, conversation and braai in their back garden. With, of course, wine. I’m wondering if she’ll notice…. Another photograph from 2007.

Then it dawned on me:  they’re connected.

So –

This is my first entry to the Monday Monochrome contest on Steemit hosted by @old-guy-photos. It was prompted by his comment on this post which was part of fellow Steemian @traciyork‘s challenge to share a post a day for a full month ( #SteemBloPoMo), earlier this year – April, I think.

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

  • I blog on three platforms:  WordPress and Instagram, both of which auto post to Steemit.  Instagram is mostly a visual with microblogs about fluff:  mostly food and the cats and posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.
  • My WordPress site is hosted by fellow Steemian, @gmuxx, with fees paid in crypto currency: Steem Based Dollars.  If you want more information, join the Steemblogs Club on Discord

On the Steem platform, I am part of these communities

Designed by @zord189

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Dotty about blue – PowerHouseCreatives contest – 30 June 2019

It’s a toss up as to whether blue or purple is my favourite colour.  Our house is full of bits of blue crockery that I have acquired over the years.  It’s a thing now, that I shouldn’t be buying things blue.  Anyhow, initially, I wasn’t sure that I’d participate in this week’s contest because, as I keep on saying, contests are not my thing, but here I am.  Because I am drawn to all things blue….

Before I get to it, here are the details of this week’s contest on Steemit:

Remember this fun little game, ‘eye spy with my little eye’ that you would usually play on your roadtrips? Basically, for those who have not heard of this game before, it’s pretty simple. The gamemaster would say ‘eye spy with my little eye something ROUND’! And everyone would have to guess what the gamemaster is refering to that can be seen along the road.

For this week, you have to do is photograph the object and write about it!

Contest :

Eye Spy With My Little Eye v2

The prompt – I spy with my little eye something….. Blue and Round! Criteria :

1. Take a photo of something blue and round!

2. That photo must be taken recently, no more than 7 days old. (I trust you peeps on this)

3. Write about that object/person/etc

4. Entry must not be less than 350 words cause who knows, you might get curie or ocd 🙂

5. Add a nice title to your entry.

So, as usual, I’ve used creative license.  All the photographs that follow have been taken today (talk about cutting it fine…).  I’ve chosen the pieces because each of them has its own story.  Some are fresher in my memory than others.

First, this jug and bowl set.  It’s more than 20 years old and is used regularly for Sunday Supper, and the handle has had running repairs at least once.

Second, this little moon plate is sister to a sun which pair I bought on a trip to Mallorca 20 years ago this year.  I caught the bus to Fellanix which is known for its ceramics.

I came away with more than that pair:  some wonderful, rustic paella dishes which had rounded bases;  they were glazed inside, but not outside and the ancient design was such that they could be used on both the stove top and the open fire.  Alas they didn’t get home with me as the delicate bases shattered en route in my suitcase.  This jug and basin set did, though.

The set sits next to one of my most favourite pieces:  a dotty jug which is also about 20 years old.  I can’t remember whether I bought it from the potter’s gallery or from the potters’s studio.  The dotty mugs that sit on the shelf below, I do recall our getting them.

From the Millstone Pottery in McGregor – before we moved to McGregor – and before we got to know the potters, themselves, let alone expected to live here.  The stripy pair are Paul’s work, too, acquired after we moved.  Those mugs, as with everything else are in regular use.  The Husband, for whatever reason, has declared that the striped ones are Saturday mugs.  The dotty ones, Sunday.  Why?  I have no clue.  Best not to ask.

Returning to things round and blue, this set of six I did buy at the Potter’s Market which happens twice a year, in March and November in Cape Town.  I spent ages selecting six different ones.  I have also had these for more than 20 years, so The Husband had no say in much of the blue crockery.  He chose me.  He had no choice with the crockery.

After my visit to Spain, I decided that I’d try to collect a piece of crockery from every country I visited.  This little dish, which makes a “set” along with the sun and moon, is from Japan when I visited there in 2001.

With apologies for the dust. We live in a dust bowl and this display hangs just inside the kitchen door which is open most of the time. Not sensible because I have clearly created my own dust trap!

The complete set:  two blue and round; one blue and yellow.  Ceramics from two continents.

Last but not least, one of my favourite pieces and which, was an impulse buy with The Husband before The Husband was The Husband.  We were in a little seaside town and were browsing in one of those shops that sold everything from suntan lotion and bathing suits to kitchen utensils and yes, enamel.  I love red and blue enamel.  I also love white enamel with blue.  I have to be physically restrained from buying it whenever I see it.

There was no restraint when it came to this little bowl. It’s the perfect size in which to rest a batch of koeksister batter – it’s used a lot.  It’s also the perfect contrast to the beautiful red chillies that have been sitting in it for the last couple of days waiting for my attention.

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

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Mixing and matching – topics and metaphors

Sometimes it’s only a mengelmoes* that will do.
You’ve probably gathered, if you read a few of my posts that I
  • love to point and click my camera at things
  • have things that often take me away from my computer and @steemit
  • enjoy drawing connections and generally just gabbling away about things.  Some that weigh heavily, and other less so.

A while ago, I shared another eclectic set of photos that I had taken in and around the village where I live:  one of them features the reed and thatch work that is a feature of so much of the architecture**.  @lyncoyle’s post about the repair of their palama sparked a conversation about dying arts and the preservation of traditional crafts.  At the time I promised to share more about the original houses in our village, and particularly of a property where we would be doing a cleanup job.

The clean-up job included tidying up an overgrown garden as well as the cottage, itself, for viewing by prospective buyers.  As it would happen, the work in the garden ended up being done over the hottest days of the early summer.

One of the joys of living in this village is that one often gets to hear stories about the properties from folk who have lived and grown up in the area.  So it was with this cottage.  Piet is The Husband’s go-to person when he needs a semi-skilled worker.  A bit of context.  Piet is a lovable skebenga (rascal) who has a checkered history.  He is unreliably reliable, has a couple of children (that we know about!), one of whom finishes school this year and another who is about two… He’s also had brushes with the law, and paid the consequences.  The Husband and he have a warm, scratchy relationship that has grown over the last six or so years.  I too, am fond of him, and have been presented with indigenous plants for the garden. When I ask where they come from, I regret that I did.

Piet taking a little respite in the not-so-cool shade on a 40°C day

Anyhow, the point of this necessary digression:  Piet could tell us how long the fruit trees had been in that garden, which ones had gone.  He spent much of his childhood growing up in the house next door – behind him but out of sight in the photograph. He and his mates would help the “Auntie” who lived in this house to water the garden.  What is important to understand, is that watering the garden was (still is) a big issue when the leiwater ran and still does – every two weeks.  The village has a network of channels that leads irrigation water from the dam, through the village and into our properties.  Each is allocated a day and a time in that day when the sluice can be opened and water floods in.  This is what they would help with – making sure that the water was led into the garden and channelled where it was needed.  Their “pay”:  as much fruit as they could eat, and on hot days, paddling and playing in the lovely cool water in the sloot.  I have no doubt that they also got the odd slice of home-baked cake or biscuit for their troubles, too.

The leiwater channel in which Piet and his mates would cool their feet after the hot work of watering the garden. Here, the hedge in the process of being tidied up.

Anyhow, back to the cottage.  It dates back to the late 1880s and although it no longer has the original reed roof, it is still thatched and original sash windows have, at the front, been replaced with metal frames.  Probably in the 70s.

It does still boast the original fireplace and chimney, but with a brick cowl, along with the orignal sash windows that are still in place at the back.  As is the tiny window in the fireplace – so necessary in the heat of summer when cooking on the range must have been hell.

Also, you see part of the garden before it was tidied up, as well as a little glimpse of the view from the font of the house.
Inside, the cottage retains some of the original features like the reed ceiling and the beautiful wooden lintels over the windows and the fireplace in what was, originally, the kitchen.
The chiminee and the light fitting are non-traditional eyesores, I’ll admit, but I’m sure whoever buys the cottage will sort that.
Almost lastly, a before and after of part of the garden – taken from the back of the house, looking past the old kitchen.
The gardener in me knows that it wouldn’t take too much to get this space going again – there is much that would recover and reward with just a little TLC and water.
Finally, the mountain view I promised.  We are so lucky to have mountain views from virtually every point in the village.
Also in the picture, on the other side of the field, is another of the original houses, sadly in a state of disrepair.  It does illustrate two things:  an original reed roof and its construction of mud and/or mud bricks.  All these houses have to be whitewashed – that is the only “paint” that takes on the surface, and it also helps to keep the houses alive – they can’t be sealed because they need to breathe.  The handmade bricks comprise not just of mud, but also straw.  Here’s a pile of bricks left from a recent new-build-cum restoration in the village, and where The Husband and Piet were responsible for the fencing.
*an Afrikaans word pronounced memg-el-moose (like goose) which means something like a delightful hodgepodge of things
** for those wondering, I live in McGregor, not far from Cape Town in South Africa.  It’s in the Winelands and is the best preserved Victorian village in the province which is largely characterised by Cape Dutch architecture.
Getting back to my love of snapping away at things – often with my phone as was the case one of these photographs (the one that shows the exterior chimney):  I am a great Instagram fan.  I like its immediacy and the ease of uploading and posting on the run.  I also like editing features – less so than the filters.
Imagine my delight when I found out that it’s easy, once you know how, to simultaneously share your posts on to @steemit.  And to Twitter.  Although I’m not much of a Tweep.

Join Share2Steem here
All in the good crypto cause :smile:

Oh, and a bit of advice

You can use all your @steemit hashtags when you publish and then edit your original Instagram post to the ones that best work for you on that platform, which is much easier editing there than on Steemit. For me, that’s one of the weaknesses of @steempress – I am sure they will address that, though, as much has been done to better integrate the two platforms.

There it is – until next time

Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

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Glorious rain

have had more rain this August than we have in the last five years. It’s raining as I write. With the promise of rain every day for the next three.

We are very fortunate to have had more rain this August than we have in the last five years. It’s raining as I write. With the promise of rain every day for the next three. There is something about the rain, and the light after the rain. This is a series of photos snapped one morning during and after a glorious rainshower.

The first is an early morning shot from the bedroom window and the clouds heavy with rain.

Not much later, the pink tinge of sun over a glistening wet village.

The day began, and I headed to the office. Lots of lovely water running down the hill, heading for the rivers and dams.

The light: bright but dark and I noticed the first promise of spring on the ornamental vine. New leaves an miniscule bunches of never-to-be-grapes.

At last, the grass is beginning to recover and there are lush green shoots. Lots of weeds, but after the dust and drought, who cares?

Oh, and the sky started to clear, with patches of blue against which the gold of the syringa berries show off.

Not for long, though, as the heavens opened again and I retreated to the office to watch, from the corner of my eye, lovely water pouring off the roof on to the thirsty plants below.

On another note: I keep on promising that “normal programming” will resume. That should have been this week, and this post is the product of insomnia. One of the reasons for which is an unwell Gandalf.

He is a little like the proverbial sh*t on a blanket: all over The Cat’s Mother, including in the bed. Yes, with that cone of shame!

More of how this happened and other goings-on, relatively soon, I hope.

The Sandbag House
McGregor
South Africa

All photographs taken with my Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro and any edits via Instagram.

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That’s Life!

People often say that McGregor is magic, and many residents say it’s destiny to be living here.  As I’ve mentioned before, my day job offers me the privilege of getting an intimate view into people’s private space.  That, and Christmas in July, has kept me really busy over the last few days.

I will share a little more about Christmas in July at some point, but it’s a particular residence with some short-term accommodation that I thought I’d tell you about.  It’s an interesting property, situated on the grounds of the original McGregor mill (a second was subsequently built), the main house was a whipstock factory.  Not many people know that in the mid-late 19th and early 20th century, many of the country’s whipstocks were made here, and a large proportion exported to Germany.  Crafted from bamboo that thrives here but is not indigenous.  South Africans will know that certain species of bamboo must be eradicated.  Some McGregor residents are a little conflicted about this because the clumps of bamboo represent a significant part of our economic history.

All four of the pictures of this collage include clumps of bamboo: clockwise from bottom left, on the boundaries of the properties across the road from us. And yes, those are regular passers-by.  The bottom right is a bamboo grove on the corner of our plot behind the house.  It’s now smaller because our new neighbours have removed the bulk of it that’s on their property.  That photo has another story, too, and for another time, because I took it to show the damage caused by a fire….

Anyhow, back to what I really wanted to tell you about – this property has been turned into a retreat-like haven with two private self-catering cottages that, between them, will accommodate up to five guests.

Monk’s Cottage was built more than 15 years ago as a workshop at the bottom of the tranquil, monastery-like part of the garden, and now renovated with a shower room, separate bedroom and living area. The twisted Karoo willow that gently shades and guards the door will a story to anyone who will listen.  I love how the kitchen cupboards have been crafted from old shutters and handles from old cutlery.

The shape of the window also adds to the monastic feel.  But that’s where it stops.  The cottage is cosy and comfortable.

The main house is at the top of the property and a walk through the garden is full of surprises:  more clever use of things unexpected, and which just work.  This stone garden is such a clever way of managing the consequences of the drought which just left so many of us with bare, dusty ground.

Kismet, the second cottage, abuts the main house and it has been cleverly renovated and furnished with re-purposed and well-loved pieces that were destined to arrive in McGregor.  The owner delights in explaining where they came from and how she selected each special piece, “it’s kismet – fate!” Like Monk, but even more so, she has cleverly re-purposed the most unexpected of items like the copper base of an old geyser for the hand basin in the shower room.  The bedroom is cosy and feminine – just the decor I’d have loved if I didn’t have cats!

Although I took some of the photographs of Monk a year ago, it was only nine days ago that I took the photographs of Kismet and of the garden. 

I shared the one on the top right of this collage, as soon as I got home, and then had to write some blurb for a publication, while all the time wanting to find time to “play” with these images.

Postscript

For some reason, it’s been a hectic patch – Christmas in July, as I mentioned, a birthday, an unexpected house guest and in the middle of it, the departure of dear friends from the village, not to mention a new addition who made his entry into the world before “his” knitting was finished… not necessarily in that order…

This, my usual week-end kitchen duties and a trip to Cape Town next week, for the final event associated with the Access Trust for which I have to prepare a speech/presentation…means that I’ve really not had much time to focus on anything.*

Hopefully on our return, next week, things will calm down to a mild panic and things will get back to normal – such as they are!

All photos other than the first collage, some of which may have been with a smartphone, all the others were taken with my Samsung 16.4 mp bridge camera.  Collages and editing with Picasa.

Until next time, it’s cheers from me!

The Sandbag House
McGregor
South Africa

Photo:  Selma

*and for the Grammar Nazis: those are terrible sentences, I know, but they reflect my current level of not-so-organised chaos!

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Animation By @zord189

Shadows and light

In my now, not-so-new day job, I am privileged to be able to take my camera into people’s homes and gardens.  Today was such a day.  Here is the last shot I took before I left.

No edit, just a slight straighten and that’s that.

I liked the contrast of the beams and the long shadows, the trees and the glimpse of the Victorian window through the foliage in the late afternoon winter sun.

An interesting building this – an old whip factory which is now a home and host to weekend visitors to McGregor.  I will share more of that in another post.

Taken with my Samsung 16.4 megapixel bridge camera

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Magic May in McGregor – some random photos

May went past in a flash and for some reason I had my camera on hand more than usual.  As I was going through them, I noticed interesting textures and colours so characteristic of our village and autumn.  Here is a selection.

A gabion wall embracing what will be an outside shower made from shale excavated from the building of the adjacent house.  This amazed me not just for the shape but the quality of the build.  Talented craftsmen.

The house “belonging” to the outside shower has been built on an original “rietdakhuisie” built of brick.  These are all built with mud bricks and the original roofing was reeds harvested from the local river.  Over the years thatch grass has been available and has been added to the roof.  Not always successfully because unless the roof is shored up, the thatch is too heavy – particularly if it gets wet.  This photograph clearly shows the two layers of original reed and the new grass thatch.

This is the north view from the street outside the same property – through the autumn leaves to the hill with the fading McGregor crest carefully set out with river stones now with the paint largely having flaked off.

Before taking you into our garden, this photograph is of a giant Anagama kiln (wood-burning) that was fired up this month after being packed with pottery.

Over three or so days, it burned 5 tons of wood and had to cool for a week before it could be unpacked.  Here you see the flame vent, and the heads of the folk standing next to it, give you a sense of it’s magnitude.

 

In our garden, the buds of the indigenous A. ferox so named because of this aloe’s ferocious thorns.

Finally, a rare moment when this overgrown kitten is still – it was a hot day and he needed a cool spot.

Gandalf, our grey cat whose wizadry is restricted to a loquacity that annoys the humans and a persistant curiosity that really annoys Pearli.

Snow Blessings

We had snow this weekend.  The first real snow we’ve had for a couple of years.  Yes, it’s spectacular but more important than that, it’s the snow that is critical to replenishing the groundwater and dams.  The snowmelt runs off much more slowly than rain, making it much more valuable.  Depending on severity and timing, though, farmers hate it as much as they love it.

We woke this morning, embraced by snow.  The Langeberg Mountains to the North and the Sonderend Mountains to the south were both sprinkled with snow.  Quite rare as in the nearly eight years we’ve been here, this is the first time it’s been quite as dramatic.

This was the view looking south from our house:  the Laneberge (Long Mountains).

This looking south up the Road to Nowhere towards the Sondereinder (Without End) mountains.

After lunch, Monday being Monday and clean-up after Sunday Supper, we headed up that road – a little later than we perhaps should have.

Here is a selection of shots – most saved for another time.

This is what greeted us as we left the village.

A rainbow.  We have much for which to be grateful.

Then, water on the causeway – not seen for many a moon.

For the rest you will have to wait:  this is just a teaser.  Hope to share more tomorrow:  I have run out of time today and have a guest arriving shortly.

All photos with my Samsung bridge.  Very little touching up other than the odd crop.  This time, they speak for themselves.  Re-sizing not necessary as I’m preparing this on WordPress and publishing to @steemit thanks to help from @jrvacation, @vornix and @zord189

PS  I have a bit of work to do to get things – like the footer, right!

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Animation By @zord189