Saturday, June 30, 2012

Marking the Days

 Emily made D 50 Black Forest cupcakes for his 50th birthday. We had about 45 friends and family here last Saturday, which is fine because we have a big deck and yard. But the wind came up and, above our house, a swirling thunderhead started threatening. It quickly began to rain and everyone came into the house to find the power out. How can I thank Emily and my nephew's wife who quickly helped me light every candle that I hadn't put out.
It was fun to catch up with cousins our age and show our Africa photos. Most people brought salads or appys and a photo of D from their past.
 I finished the Taize shawl and the Reversible Herringbone scarf. Good simple knitting. The baby layette from the fair is done with buttons and ribbons and I have handed in 4 more entries. This is going to be a fun class, our first Fair-Share, with the baby clothes going to the hospital.
 I have some deadline knitting. The Knit Girllls Afghan Square Swap is due this month. I chose some wool that I bought in Saltspring Island had to cake up from the cone.
Cables and bobbles are done. I need to block it to 12" square and mail it to Germany with maple candy and other Canadian treats.
Big news! I started hot yoga (Bikram). Wow. I took Em the first time and felt I had been hit by an elephant! I set myself up to return after a short shift at work and it was better. Yesterday was my third class and Em came as well. I feel it combines all the best stretching and balance of ballet (I did a few years) and the focus of karate (I'm a drop out for not being able to hit anyone) with some of the contemplative meditation we use at church. Yay. I could so use being stronger and more flexible. This may be the thing that helps my joints and asthma and IBS. Sweating is a goal in the heated room and I'm already a good sweater. It actually has kept me from enjoying some activities that are more refined.
I tend to get very excited about things when I begin. But this is a very encouraging space. I am sewing a yoga bag to take my mat and towels back and forth. I challenge myself to 3x week for next week and then decide my goals.
Today I will cast on a baby thing. There are babies at work and at D's office just popping out everywhere! I still have my mitten project (24 tiny mittens in a banner) and the black thing. Haven't pulled out the black lace shawl. Did I mention I was sewing.....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Huange National Park

 Tony wanted to show us the Zimbabwe of his youth.  We were very lucky to spot giraffe right away on the road to a campsite that has since disappeared. The first night we just stopped and set up the tent. I was a little worried travelling with no map on off-roads and with only 3 litres of water. I like to organize things a bit more. But we were fine.

 The second night we stayed at a Pan or Dam that was a watering hole for all manner of animals. We watched from a thatched 'blind' that was very comfortable. Unfortunately, after bumping around the roads for 8 hours, I wasn't very happy to be sleeping on the hard ground in a sleeping bag that wasn't up to the cold temperatures. Africa, who knew it would be so cold?
We had about 110 elephants at the pan at the same time, as well as guinea fowl, kudu, water buck, buffalo and zebra. Very cool.
 The giraffes did not drink at the pan while we were there. It was really interesting to see the social behaviours of the animals and how they mixed with other species. No one is allowed to travel in the park after 6 pm.
 After that we stayed in a lodge with two bedrooms and a kitchen at a camp that overlooks a plain. There were baboons in the old restaurant and dwarf mongoose running along the ridge. We also saw tiny antelope, the size of a cat, when we went out with our flashlights in the night. We didn't see the elephant in our yard, but there was evidence the next day. In Zimbabwe, spoor means footprint, but at home it means the droppings the animal leaves behind.
 When we travelled within the camp, we were often spotting herds of animals like the buffalo.
 These are the delightful dassies. Hyrex. About the size of a loaf of bread. They spend 5% of their day active. Good idea.
 The monitor lizard was happily sharing a warm rock with the dassies. Because it's winter there, the sun went down about 5:30 or 6 pm.
 We were delighted by the fat and saucy zebras. They were harder to see up close.
 This is a baby kudu. If it is a male, it will grow long spiralled horns which are highly prized. But there is no hunting in the park.
We never tired of watching the elephants play. The young bulls rough housing and being told to stop it by the old bull. The moms with their babies who were always assisted by a big sister or auntie. Such a quiet giant.
There was a little knitting as we visited and watched the animals below. I couldn't have asked for a better camping buddy, Elizabeth is a knitter and a professor of English Literature, specializing in medieval drama. We laughed at the guinea fowl who would jump in front of the pick up at the last minute and then run like crazy until they figured they could fly.

And it's nice to be home. We had a house full of friends and family for Dan's 50th. The weather changed suddenly and we scuttled in doors, lit every candle and watched the torrential down pour. It was exciting and didn't dampen our celebration.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy 50 D

 Yesterday D's veterinary office celebrated his 50th birthday with 50 rectal sleeves. It was great to see the partners, their kids and the "assorted" incredible office staff. My kids came, too and Scott even played Happy Birthday on the pipes.
Today I have a big open house for the man. Here he is helping me yarn bomb the pole at Mana Pools air strip with a maple leaf. Go D.
I'm up before 0500 and going through all the details I missed because I'm on jet lag brain. Grocery store opens soon, and then I'll pick up flowers.
Something will be missed. But I thank my friends and family for pitching in.
 I hope he gets over his dreadful cold and I don't catch it.
We have some celebrating to do.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Victoria Falls

 The mist that thunders. Victoria Falls is a natural beauty that never gets boring. To have your own rainbow(s) all the time is so exciting. The sound of the falls can be heard for a mile. It is actually several falls that drop over a fault line.

 We were on the Zimbabwe side. It was a bit expensive to get into the park, but we loved it so much, we went two days in a row. There are parts of the path where you get totally soaked, but the climate is warm and I dried off before we left.
 I have innumerable photos, all the same, many too misty to see clearly. But we loved it.
Compared to Niagara Falls, this was much more natural and exciting. So lucky to have this as our jumping off point to the canoeing safari.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Long Journey Home

 We have travelled about as far away from our home, on the west coast of Canada, as we can. A month's worth of photos is too much to post, but I want to share with you how much fun we had and how we were lucky enough to come face to face with a beautiful continent, and a beautiful city, Capetown. This is one of the most souther spots, the Cape Point of the Cape of Hope (or Cape of Storms, if you like). Our hosts, Anthony and Elizabeth drove us around and showed us the sites of Table Mountain National Park which winds all the way from the city to the point.
 Table Mountain is beautiful and looks over the city, framing the water. We stayed just below Devil's Peak in the area below the University of Cape Town. The late "winter" sun was compelling. We each took several thousand photos. The cable car up the mountain was lots of fun and better than joining the boys on their hike up.
 From the Rhodes Memorial we could see our first glimpses of Africa. The stone pines look so African to me, but they are imported from Italy.
 Kirstenbosch Gardens are stunning and a real draw for our guests who were even more nerdy than us about naming flowers and birds. This is the aloe.
 The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was great fun and great shopping. Cape Town believes in public art and all over South Africa there are statues of Mandela. We found the people highly integrated and working together to make the city work. Afrikaans is a crazy language and the several indigenous languages were baffling.
 The wine country tour was exciting. I'm not so good at back seat tours and it was socked in with rain, but at Groot Constantia, we were treated to an autumn light. We loved the wines, especially Hanneput dessert wine.
And the campus itself was so beautiful. These are the "jammie steps" in front of Jameson Hall where the students gather. Our friends are both professors there and we had many in depth conversations, D with Anthony in economics, Elizabeth and I about knitting and English Literature. What could be better?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Mana Pools

We just left Mana Pools National Park of Zimbabwe and it was amazing. Our guide, Mark, and canoe guide, Elijah were armed with rifles as we tracked lion and elephant. We canoed about 50 km down the Zambezi River, dodging a gauntlet of hippos. When we pulled into camp each sunset, the men had set up a camp with our own tent, latrine, bucket shower, drinks table, dining area with linens and glassware and campfire. Not exactly roughing it.
We were safe and slept deeply every night despite the chorus of baboons and hyenas.
I'll post pictures as soon as possible.
Our plane didn't arrive at the airstrip when it was time to leave and we were 40 minutes from cell service. Thankfully Elijah was able to contact the office and they sent another plane. We were 2 hours waiting with our luggage, guide with rifle, and a cooler of diminishing Zambezi Lager.
I yarn bombed the wind sock pole with a knitted maple leaf. I could hear our driver, Knowledge, saying, " What is she doing?"
They also said it was the first time they have had knitting on safari.
I knit during siesta after lunch between canoeing trips and tracking on land.
Next up: driving safari in Hwange National Park with our Capetown hosts. He's a bit of an extreme athlete so wish us luck.