Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Living Lake

  A gurgle and a belch

The lake monster sounds hungry

It's tummy rumbles

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Miniature Worlds

A pic cropped deliberately to confuse your perspective - tree aloes or some sort of pine?

Tra-la! Haircap Moss and its spore capsules

I love looking at miniature worlds! Here's another - aerial view of a coniferous forest? Or mossy mound?

Friday, January 29, 2021

Noisy Monster

I'm fascinated by the sounds of the lake ice moving and shifting when the temperature changes over the day. It's eerie to hear a gurgle, a groan, a boom, or a crash when everything is seemingly still. There's nothing to see, but something eventful is happening, invisible and potent-sounding. Some days it's so loud, I can hear it from inside my sunroom, but by the time I've got warmly dressed and out there, it's quiet again.

The loudness and unexpectedness of the wails draws me to the lake edge frequently, and I wait, with video running, to capture the chorus of grunts, sighs and belches. I would love to share what the 'belly of the beast' sounds like, because it's quite special, but I struggle to start recording in time. The sounds materialize suddenly, unpredictable and ephemeral, and they're oh, so captivating. And waiting in sub-zero temperatures without my gloves on (to be able to operate my phone), and eyes streaming with cold, means I don't last long each time. And some days, there are overriding sounds of machinery or dogs or crows that are closer and louder than the monster's chorus. 

The cracking sounds are much more dramatic, sounding like a tree crashing down, but it's as calm as can be at the surface, where I'm sitting quietly, not moving - it's quite an eerie experience. It's like a thunderstorm, but below the surface, not above. Or maybe like someone stuck beneath the ice, and knocking to get out! Sometimes it's like a toilet flushing in the distance, and at other other times, like gunshots!

Follow the link at the top so you can get to the video, or click here:

Turn your volume up to appreciate the gurgles and gloops because some are quite distant

Trying to record the lake's throaty voice has been frustrating to say the least, but my quest has also meant that I've been able to be there to hear and appreciate it many more times than usual, despite not being quick enough to record the full gamut of weird and magical sounds. At one point, I even tried generating shockwaves myself, by holding onto a branch and smashing one foot down onto the surface a few times, and then immediately recording what transpires, in anticipation of something substantial, but still no luck! I couldn't make it happen - reminds me that I'm not a force of nature, after all! Click here:

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Spectacular Ice Forms

I've been walking along our boardwalk regularly in our recent cold temperatures, and found that the lake ice (ever in flux this year) was reforming again. So I took a few pics and came back inside with 20 new shots of the same things! Bear with me ...

The edges are eggshell thin and fragile

The delicate formation at bottom left, below, reminds me of a Frilled Lizard

The different patterns and formations are intriguing.

I can 'see' a beautiful limpet shell in the one below:


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nitty-Gritty Details

Why is it that the expectations and reality of a situation are only shared mere moments before the point of no-return?

I was only given these nitty-gritty details of wearing a palate expander during the fitting of the device:

So in order not to sound like Darth Vader on steroids, and to prevent my throat from aching through desperately trying to breathe and swallow saliva, and gulping in so much air that my stomach hurt, I should read aloud to myself? (I know now why they only tell you this at the last minute - if they got down to the brass tacks too far ahead of time, no-one would go ahead and do it). The natural inclination with this obstruction in my mouth is not to talk, since it is difficult, tiring and embarrassing. 

Instead of reading aloud, I decided to cash in on my previous Speech and Drama training, and began reciting poems out loud to myself, since I could easily do this whilst busy cooking or doing other chores.

I think Dale is about to commit me to an institution, after hearing that "The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard," followed later by "the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!" Such violence - I think it reflects my pent-up frustration!

Note: if you look closely, you can see that my school merit award was for Best MALE actress, a role I specialized in at my all-girls school. No flighty, delicate roles for me - I was commanding and imposing as a man, and loved feeling free to convey a confidence I never really had!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021



Ah, food! It 'speaks' to me in so many ways - so many memories are tied to particular foods or specific meals and events. It seems to be one of the ways I store my personal history ... 

Though these delectables below don't bring me a specific memory, they are laced with nostalgia for our place of origin - South Africa. These are Koeksusters (or Koeksisters): the dough is braided, fried in hot oil, and then immediately steeped in sugar syrup for a few minutes. It's a recipe that originated in the Afrikaner culture (descendants of Dutch settlers) and became a commonplace confection throughout the country.

I've made them a few times, but not very often, since there are quite a few different steps to follow (time consuming), but today I was hankering after them, so I made some. Such indulgence!


625 ml (2.5 c) sugar
250 ml (1 c) water
12. 5 ml (1Tbsp) lemon juice
5 (1 tsp) vanilla essence

Bring sugar and water to the boil (uncovered) over low heat. Stir every now and then. 
Cook syrup slowly for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from stove and stir in lemon juice and essence.

375ml (1.5 c) cake flour
22 ml (2 Tbsp) baking powder
25 ml or 20 g butter (about 2 Tbsp)
150 ml milk
1 ml salt (¼ tsp)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt
Rub in butter. Cut in the milk with a spatula.
Roll dough out to 5 mm thick.
Cut and braid the dough.
Place the braided koeksusters in hot oil and cook till browned.
Lift koeksusters out and immerse them in the lukewarm syrup.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Flitting Birds

Birds flit, like alate-

swarms emerging from their nest,

Around my feeders.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Knitting Overexcitability

After many documented false starts and sundry attempts, I was finally able to sustain momentum and complete this lacy black shawl, following the instructions on YouTube. The lovely maroon yarn I'd got started on got ditched in favor of black along the way (I think I was bored with the color after not mastering numerous new stitch attempts). I used my home-made stitch markers (essential) and listened to my first W. Somerset Maugham novel (Librivox, free public domain audiobooks) at the same time. It was apropos to hear references to South Africa, and the Boer war, in his book 'On Human Bondage.' The other reference that immediately comes to mind are the lyrics to Jimmy Campbell's song, 'In My Room' where he references 'books of Somerset Maugham...'

Anyway, back to knitting. The shawl turned out rather well, in my opinion (because black hides the inconsistencies!)

No sooner had I ended off the loose ends of this, my very first, non-garter stitch item, than I started something new, using a completely different stitch. I'm trying the Edelweiss stitch, using some yarn I'd stockpiled from a friend. Trying a new stitch feels thrilling! I'm excited to see how it looks. I can't wait to see it manifested in a garment, and I have so many new ideas! I'm not sure if you've read about Dabrowski's theory of overexcitabilities, but my current, frantic addiction to knitting brought his ideas to mind.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Getting Rattled - The Saga Continues!

After receiving an automated phone call from our default pharmacy that the previously unfilled prescription from a few days ago was now available for pick-up, we decided to do a diversion on our way home from the dentist's office since we were already out and about. But imagine our level of 'being rattled' on finding that it had in fact been filled, but at a different pick-up location; in fact, the one across the street from the dentist's office! 

It turns out there had been a mix up and cross-communication (we presume), in having used the pharmacy App to try and get the script transferred to our non-usual store, which was closer to where we had business that morning. Since it wasn't clear that our request had gone through (we had previously not got confirmation after using the App), we called the pharmacy to check the status before we set off. Whilst waiting for the call to be answered, the automated confirmation came through, stating clearly that the script was ready at our usual location. We thought it better to leave it at that, and not try to re-route it to the more convenient location, since there had already been so much confusion.

But lo and behold, it wasn't there when we made a detour to fetch it! Who would have thought it could have got any worse than the previous saga! I imagined it would be plain sailing and simple, now that we had met the refill date requirements. But no, we were being stymied at every turn! The store then cancelled the script across town for us, and we waited 20 minutes for the script to be filled right then and there.

It's no wonder I love my hermit life and the excuses to stay home. Not having to deal with the outside world is way less frustrating and calming 😀

... And I haven't even covered the saga of making a follow-up appointment at the dentist's office yet ... oh, for the simple life!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Diamond Studs


Non descript, and brown,

Diamond studded leaf margins

Transform to beauty

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Shopping Reluctance

After a recent 3 week stay at home without needing supplies, I reluctantly acquiesced to venturing out and refilling our larder. There's no home delivery of fresh produce or refrigerated items where we're located, so I needed to drive to a grocery store. Plus, I was going to pick up a pharmacy script at the same time (or so I thought), the saga of which I have already shared.

What amazed me, was my reluctance to go on an outing! Even after having spent weeks at home without leaving, I wanted to stay home instead! I'm not only intent on reducing my exposure to COVID 'opportunities,' but I also loathe the chore of buying groceries. Yes, it's really nice to have fresh items, and a full fridge again, but it still isn't something I look forward to doing, even when I can come home with luxuries and delicious things, like sweet, juicy oranges that taste heavenly after doing without. The relentless process of packing and unpacking the groceries so many times always seems mindlessly repetitive and comical to me - 

-pick individual things off a shelf 
-place them in a cart,
-remove said items from cart at checkout,
-place purchased items back into cart,
-remove items from cart, 
-load them into car,
-remove items from car,
-place into storage cabinets

This is how I like to do my shopping: at home. I'm not referring to the Shopping Channel on TV, but instead, the opportunity to fetch extra supplies from our downstairs pantry. It's nice to be able to go down to my basement to do some 'shopping' from my downstairs larder for things I start running short of. My very own Home Shopping Basket!

I propose that in future we find a way to put groceries into a cart (either actually or virtually), and then have them teleported into our kitchens for us .. it's much more practical and efficient, don't you think?

Besides my disdain for the chore at hand, I was intrigued to discover that, I wasn't needing to 'be out' or have other people to interact with. I didn't feel that I was starved of human contact, and grateful for an opportunity to be with other people. Maybe I'm more of a hermit than I ever knew - I'm happy and content at home. I'm comfortable. I do what I want to do - I'm in control! I don't feel starved of human company and social interaction. Is that unusual and disturbing - or am I just weird?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Crossroads, where paths meet; choices and decisions are made.

A landmark,

A juncture

I'm hoping that the moral darkness is behind us
as we take a new direction ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Torture at the Dentist's Chamber

Having my Invisalign braces and palate expander fitted yesterday was an absolutely horrible experience. I felt worn out and violated after the appointment. 

I had to sit with a lip spreader on for 45 minutes - those things are appallingly like some kind of torture device from the Middle Ages - while someone dried, glued, pushed, heated and prodded their way around my face. Eventually, the sharp edges of the lip spreader pressing into my gum was enough for me to manage a loud cry. My eyes were streaming from the pain. Moving my lips to speak was impossible, and I was sure my lips were seconds away from splitting apart, like they might do outside in the cold for an extended time.

There were multiple applications of glue/dental composite, heating and drying and removal of all moisture from my mouth. I almost gagged at the smell of the bonding agent - it reeked like strong resin, and it was in my mouth! It made me want to choke. When I managed to communicate how awful the smell was, I was told, "yeah, many people say it smells like a nail salon, like when they do the acrylic, you know?" No, I don't know, and I don't subject myself to fumes like that voluntarily, thank you very much.

The dental composite 'dots,' or buttons, are strategically glued onto select tooth surfaces to force the aligner to sit in the required position. They're sharp and ragged, surprisingly - not smooth like a button, despite the name! My first plastic 'tray' of braces wouldn't sit in place, so an extra 15-20 minutes was spent in trying to find a way to maneuver it and make it stay secure, or we'd have to consult the dentist for advice, possibly requiring another scan and having the whole new series of 32 trays made up again from scratch ... Way to make me feel confident about managing this on my own, once home! But we persevered, and succeeded.

After that, it was time for the palate spreader (I paid for this torture - am I insane?). I was warned at that point that I wouldn't be able to speak properly for a while, due to the extra thickness of the palate that my tongue wouldn't be used to, and that many people drool a lot at first because it's difficult to swallow (and no, this is not a dieting device!). Speaking was a struggle, and I sounded like Sean Connery trying to say tennis - it came out as tennish. And as for swallowing; it was only possible with effort, and loud guttural, slurping sounds, like Darth Vader imitating a cappuccino machine. Heaven only knows how it will sound when I try to sleep with it tonight, whilst wearing a CPAP face mask!

I can't make up my mind which is worse - the indignity of having a mammogram compression plate squash my breasts, or having my lips forced apart with a hard piece of plastic in an horrendously taut and grotesque grimace. I can't remember when I last felt that exhausted and defeated. I was totally drained and weary, and felt sick to my stomach from the assault. I couldn't get myself to eat anything for hours afterwards, and was insanely uncomfortable from all the gas I'd slurped in in trying to swallow! But I do hope you enjoy reading about my 'adventure' - it definitely sounds more 'palatable' after a night's sleep. It was fun writing it down, now that it is fait accompli!

Monday, January 18, 2021


Wisdom and Reminders from MLK

"We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Getting Rattled

I stopped in at the grocery store pharmacy to pick up a script that had been refilled electronically 2 days prior, but after waiting my turn in line, was told there was nothing ordered for us. I gave the details again to refill the script, and said I'd collect it after I'd done my grocery shopping. Before I walked away, I asked whether it was 'time' for the script to be filled. "Oh, yes," the clerk told me, " it was last filled in October."

After paying for my purchases, I secretly congratulated myself that I'd remembered to go back to the pharmacy area to pick up the script, as I stood in line again - not my favorite thing to do during COVID. At the counter (different clerk), I was told there was nothing filled for me. I provided the details again, explaining what had happened earlier. "On no," I was told this time, "the insurance won't pay for it because it's too early to renew. You can refill it in 3 more days."

"But that's what I asked about earlier, and was assured it was time."

"But did you ask if the insurance would pay for it? That's the difference."

Aaargh, no, of course I didn't use those exact words, BUT WHY THE HELL WOULD I BE ASKING IN THE FIRST PLACE? (unsaid). The implied meaning or reason for asking must surely have been obvious? Or wouldn't the App have picked this up right from the get-go?

Grrr. I was rattled and frustrated. I thought I'd covered all bases and been clear and polite, but I was still thwarted. It had been 3 weeks since I'd been to a store, and had carefully planned this trip to 'kill two birds with one stone.' Now I'd have to return separately to fetch the medication, which added to my exasperation.

On the way home, I thought it over in the car, and asked myself why I had felt so infuriated and frustrated. It was of no big consequence, and as I write about it now, I'm cringing over the pettiness of it. I think the act of being thwarted is what threw me - I was expecting success, and resolution without any obstacles. I thought I'd pre-empted all disasters, and assumed that it was fait accompli. I naively didn't reckon on a wrench in the works.

By the time I got home, I'd resolved my inner conflict, and decided that I wasn't going to allow a small, inconsequential incident rattle me and ruin the rest of my day.

I can't believe I'm still having to learn the benefits of this approach at this late stage of life!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Friday, January 15, 2021

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor seating options:

Snowy slats

or Frigid Cushions ... for when you need to cool off!


Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Memorable Pizza

So many of my memories seem to be tied to food, or what we had to eat at the time 'X' happened! I still remember that we had a pizza for brunch exactly 37 years ago. It was the day we got married in an elopement, so it is kind of hard to forget!

Sketch done by a friend after the fact

We got up early on Friday the 13th, and went for walk in the local nature reserve, casually and informally dressed; Dale barefoot and in short pants. Afterwards, we stopped in at a lawyer's office to draw up a marriage contract, and drove down to the city of Durban to book an appointment at the Registry Office for a marriage license. There was a time slot available in a short while, but not with enough time to drive home and change into less casual clothes (not that we'd selected anything special ahead of time, anyway!), so we decided to buy a pizza at a beachfront restaurant in Durban, S.A. to pass the time.

It meant we'd have to 'make do' and improvise for our ceremony - Dale was able to find a pair of 'emergency' sandals he always kept in the back of his car to make him respectable enough for this occasion. I was wearing a knee length skirt and sweatshirt with squirrels emblazoned across the front, and a pair of sandals. There were no pictures, no witnesses, no rings, no wedding cake, no first dance. It was scary doing something so ... unconventional, but also very exhilarating! But we did it, and have lived to tell the tale.

To celebrate having been married more than half our lives, we ate frozen pizzas for dinner. Very nostalgic. I also baked a cake, slathered with strawberry jam and whipped cream through the middle, and dusted with powdered sugar on top.

I remember my parents' celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary - we all thought it was such a big deal (And now here we are, with 12 years more than that under our belts! How on earth did that happen?). We took them to a portrait studio to have some professional photos taken - my Mom had her hair 'done' specially for the shoot, and my Dad donned a smart suit & tie instead of his usual greasy overalls. They were more dressed up for their 25th wedding anniversary portraits than we were for our actual wedding!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Sunset streaks the sky
After a day of sunshine -
The view from my desk!


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Folded Laundry


A neat stack of freshly folded, fluffy white towels ....

Or beautifully folded sheets of snow?

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Sound of Snow

A quiet winter walk in the woods turns noisy! The sound of snow beneath my feet is alarmingly loud, and my gait impacted by the crunchiness of the icy covering. There's no way to creep up noiselessly on something and catch any wildlife unawares with this situation. The only eventful part is the faint sound of corvids cawing about halfway through - I wonder whether they were alerted by the noise of my walk?

The sun had been shining and getting ready to set, and as you can see if you can endure it to the end, the lake ice is discolored in patches, and unevenly formed. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Perfect Pie Crust ...

I wish I could make a pie crust with perfect edges like this, found along our boardwalk today:

Saturday, January 9, 2021


Still reeling after

Insurrection, sedition

At the Capitol.

A toddler time-out

For a sitting president:

No social site posts.

Time for impeachment,

The Twenty Fifth Amendment,

Censure, AND prison.


Friday, January 8, 2021

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Sub-stitch-ution Solutions

Yet another yarn saga! I gave up completely on my maroon shawl, and started off with a whole new pattern and color! I thought a lacy shawl would be nice, so I should try a fancy pattern. Using black as my yarn color seemed a good way to mask errors!

I got quite far, and then decided that the errors I KNEW were there, were just not acceptable, even if most people wouldn't see them. Believe me, there are loads of mistakes in there, and I'd not feel happy about giving it away to someone, nor even wearing it myself! I just couldn't live with the fact that the lacy holes didn't line up and kept changing their location. (I think I'm a slow learner - I'm NOT a knitter!)

So, I undid it and began again, this time realizing I'd need to use stitch markers, which I didn't have. And then I found I had a great new use for my little collection of plastic bread ties in my 'messy' kitchen drawer. They slide perfectly onto the yarn, or the needles, and stay put because of their ingenious little slit!

Twist ties are also a perfect stitch marker substitution. I just couldn't bring myself to buy a specialized item like a stitch marker made for the knitting market, when it is was super easy (and much more satisfying) to be resourceful.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Lake Wails


The lake is groaning,

As ice shifts and heaves anew

Like whale pods calling.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Ode to Aging


I know I'm aging: 



- When those thin strands of silver

 Fell out of MY HAIR.

- When ripping the sheets

Is not about hot passion,

But fabric, worn thin.

- When ev'ry bottle

Is always closed too tightly,

And screws are not loose.

-When my joints lock up

I'm told it's Trigger Finger -

But don't own a gun. 

- When I'm unable

To finish that plate of food:

Leftovers all week.

 - When one glass of wine

Is as much as I can drink,

Unless diluted.

- When lying in bed

Is more preferable to

A weight-bearing stance.


- It is also when

                                   A SEX(Y)GENARIAN

                                   Is what I've become!



Monday, January 4, 2021

Clothing Peeve ...

I have a design suggestion for clothes designers and dressmakers - shape women's jackets and coats according to our body shape - FYI, our hips are wide. They're not the same width as our waists, so a straight up and down, boxy shape doesn't work when we zip up! Either it's too tight around our hips, or it fits comfortably on our hips, but it's too wide and pouffy around our middles!

Or, maybe I should modernize my wardrobe, and get with the times?

Oh, and of course this has nothing to do with sedentary, middle age sag or spread!! 😀😀😀

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The 3 Rs

Last night, in savoring a perfectly satisfying and indulgent meal, I recalled the individual details that contributed to the whole that made it perfect. It wasn't the amount I consumed, it was the details and variety that made it special. 

Ribeye steak (grilled outside)


Broccoli with cheese

Red wine

Fresh raspberries with whipped cream

So, for me the 3 Rs would be Ribeye, Red wine and Raspberries. I think this could pass as the perfect last meal if I were going to the electric chair!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Stop, & See

I think this must be my favorite piece of poetry, from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.

It reminds me not to overlook the commonplace things I would otherwise take for granted. When things are around us every day, we tend not to see the beautiful little details, because our attention is focused on the whole.

As I walked along our boardwalk, I noticed that the water level of the lake had gone down. It left behind the most exquisite fractures and suspended sheets of paper thin ice, with magnificent edges and patterns.

The supporting water beneath had gone, causing collapse and discontinuities. Some stood separated from the body of ice, like individual pillars or panes of glass, while others were folded and crushed upward, as in mountain formations. 

Each fragment was different - a whole world of ice action in miniature. It was well worth halting my walk to look at what the change in water level had done.

I hope you find something wonderful in the ordinary today!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Onward, 2021

The struggles that began in 2020 will one day be a distant memory - can you imagine that? We have the option to emerge from it stronger and wiser, or to let it crush us. Which will be our legacy? Will it turn out to have been the Annus Mirabilis*, the miraculous year, through which we survived great tragedies and stresses, yet emerged enlightened, our resolve and unity strengthened? 2020 may well be the turning point, at which we realize that only an indomitable and indefatigable resolve to work through this together, is how we will beat this 'beast' and not let it divide us.

With vaccines available, 2021 holds lots of promise, and I'm up for trying my best to live deliberately and appreciatively. It does take effort and conscientiousness, but actively practicing mindfulness helps me weather tough times; it highlights what there is to be grateful for. I'm determined not to let COVID-19 and its unfortunate restrictions curb my joy, nor let me devolve into negativity. Yes, it restricts my ideal lifestyle, but I'm going to continue digging deep to weather this storm.

Join me, ... 

“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” ― Mizuta Masahide (17th Japanese poet and samurai)


* The English poet, John Dryden, ironically called the year 1666, the Annus Mirabilis, which means the year of wonders, or an amazing year. This, despite it being a year of great tragedy (the Plague, Great Fire of London). Was it irony, or wry humor, of celebrating that there could have been more, and worse, tragedies? Or was it merely an observation of how amazing it was to have miraculously survived it?