A special Mother’s Day tribute

When I was 15 my mother died, leaving two angry teenagers to run the home.

When I was 16 my dad remarried a younger woman, who, at the age of 27 had to come into this home and take care of the above mentioned angry teenagers.

Needless to say there were sparks.

Today I pay tribute to a special woman who, after 30 years of being my step-mother has crept into my heart.

Dear Sheila

Thank you for sticking it out. Those early years must have been really hard for you too.

Thank you for your green fingers and for designing and planting about 5 of my gardens.

Thank you for my little sister and brother – they add a sparkle to my life.

Thank you for looking after Dad so well

Thank you for being there through thick and thin.

Happy Mother’s Day

With love


Photo pinched from my sister Dale

Meet Kayla

My first grandbaby, born to my son and his wife.

Isn’t she just the cutest little thing ever ūüôā

She was born after a long day of labour (9am Р4.20 am the next day Р17 feb). After all the worry and fuss, she arrived by natural birth and needed no surgery. We are all so very happy that all went well.  Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

Arachnophobia – Carl√©’s story

It was only when Carl√© and her family came to visit Jackal’s Den that I found out that she had a severe case of arachnophobia. I mentioned to her mother that our local reptile park had programs during the holidays to help people cope with their phobias and she decided that it was time for¬†Carl√© and her sisters to attend the workshop.

Carlé understandably was really not keen to go but we persisted and she agreed as long as she would not be forced to look, see, touch or experience spiders in any way. We agreed and hoped that the folk at Khamai Reptile Park would have a plan.

When we got there we were greeted by Daniel and Donald who assured Carlé that she would never have to do anything that she did not want to do.  They started to talk to her about spiders and which ones are dangerous to us here in South Africa. Naturally she wanted to know what the dangerous ones looked like so she could identify them if ever she came across them. Daniel showed them to her (they were in glass cages so Carlé felt safe.)  We were then taken to see the reptiles and were allowed to hold what ever we liked. Carlé has a fondness for bearded dragons etc. so she was put at ease with these creatures.

and her sisters got to play too

The dragon in the picture above has a tumour on it’s leg – it was handed in at the park in this condition. As soon as the tumour gets too large, the folk at the reptile park will remove it surgically.

We were then taken to a patch of shady lawn at the park and seated to hear more about spiders. They showed  us casings of baboon spiders (shedded skins) which look exactly like the spider itself except a small portion of the back is missing where the spider emerged. We were allowed to touch and feel although Carlé held back. She did manage to watch us play with a baboon spider though.

We were all ‘oooh-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’ after the experience because it is quite a special moment ¬†when you hold one of these creatures. They are so soft and gentle and oh-so-light on¬†their¬†tippy toes across your skin. (I know many of you won’t believe this because I didn’t until I picked up the nerve to hold one – now I can’t get enough)

Then we went off to feed the chameleons

and play with the baby tortoises

It was at this point that¬†Carl√© mentioned to Daniel that she may just like to try to touch the spider so he took her back inside and told her that he would ¬†just let her feel what the spider’s feet felt like. ¬†Daniel had so much patience with us and with¬†Carl√© – never pushing her beyond what she was ready for.

You can see by the way that Carlé is sitting that she is quite nervous still.  I will let the following sequence of pictures tell the rest of the story.

The staff at Khamai Reptile Park were absolutely amazing with vast amounts of interesting information and tons of patience with the children. These are the folk who worked with me to get me over my snake phobia over two years ago. (Now go back and look at the last few pictures again, this time looking into the glass window behind¬†Carl√©’s head)

See – I am cured too ūüôā

And now Carlé wants her own tarantula!

(photos kindly taken and provided by Ronney Reece and Erika Green)

A bit about my boy

I don’t often blog about my son. ¬†It’s not because he is not important, but because we don’t get to see each other often. ¬†He has been out of our home for 5 years and now lives in Johannesburg. Last week we¬†traveled¬†there to attend his wedding.

Photo by Steve Walker

The wedding service was lovely after which we had a delicious breakfast at tables set out under some shady trees surrounded by beautiful gardens and a pond with ducks.  It was really special.

A Mother’s Song

 by Anthony W. Carter

 Tying little shoe laces
Wiping off dirty faces
Are just a couple of things
That a mother will do…

Mending a broken heart
Is only just a part
Of the care and the love
That I’ve given you…

With a Kool-aid smile
And a sparkle in your eyes
I wrap you in my arms
And whisper this advice…

Be strong, be kind
Be patient and in time
You’ll find out, my son
What true love is all about

Be faithful and be true
Show love in all you do
Then you’ll know, just how
You make your mother proud

Now, little boy days have passed
And you’ve grown up so fast
But in my heart
That little boy will never be far…

So on this blessed day
There’s so much I want to say
But above all, I thank God
For the man that you are…

With a tender smile
And a twinkle in your eyes
I wrap you in my arms
And whisper this advice…

Be strong, be kind
Be patient and in time
You’ll find out, my son
What true love is all about

Be faithful and be true
Show love in all you do
Then you’ll know, just how
You make your mother proud

You’ve made your mother so proud…

Frugal is as frugal does.

I made a choice over two years ago to live frugally. It was my choice, not the choice of my daughter, however, she has been fully supportive of me living like this and has come to appreciate many things that she took for granted. ¬†It is her choice not to be too frugal yet, although she lives within the restrictions of my lifestyle choice very graciously. She is a typical teenager who likes gadgets, clothes, jewelry and instant gratification. I think though that she looks upon these things with new eyes having been exposed to the way I try to run our home. ¬†She does have quite a few of the electronic toys that most teens have, but they are mostly from before we changed our lives or from her father. She looks after them very well because she knows that it won’t be easy to get new ones and does settle by having and using older models of the items. ¬†Last year she worked during her holidays to save up for a new mobile phone.

This Saturday was her prom night.  She has been chatting to me for the whole year about what she wanted to wear, and had saved many, many pictures of dresses, hair-dos, and make-up ideas from the internet.  I did not have to think too hard about making some clothing purchases for her for this evening.  Although I have not bought any clothes for one year now and plan to only buy and use nearly new and used clothing for myself (except for underwear) in the future, I decided that for this one evening I would break my rules and have a dress made for her.  There were restrictions of course. I was not prepared to pay a preposterous amount of money for something that she would hardly ever wear again, so she would have to find a dress we could have made locally at a reasonable price and that she could use again.  I find it really shocking when I hear of the prices some people pay for prom dresses and shoes and I find the excesses practised around these types of functions a little abhorrent. Rumour has it that one of the girls had two full outfits made and designed at a significant cost so that she would be able to choose which dress she wanted to wear on the evening.

Shoes were also an issue – she showed me many pictures of the type of shoes she would like. There is a very limited selection of shoes to purchase here in our little town so it would mean driving over an hour each way to buy some shoes at the nearest shoe stores, again going against my principles of buying local.

I was very surprised when the Bean came to show me her final idea. She stood in front of me holding one of my little black dresses (from my previous jet-set lifestyle) and asked me if I would mind her having it altered to make it into her prom dress. I told her that it was not necessary, and that I would have something special made for her but she insisted that this was what she wanted. We took the dress to a lady here in town to be altered. It was done in a couple of days and when we went to collect it, she had made a matching hair clip and told us that she could not charge us for any of the alterations as it was such a small job – all she had done was attach a ribbon and some lace and taken the dress up and in a little.

Even more surprisingly, one day when I collected the Bean from school, she breathlessly told me to drive very quickly to a local chain store as she had heard rumour that there was one last pair of shoes there that would match her dress. When we got there she literally ran into the store and came out with the perfect pair of shoes for her outfit – bought for a very reasonable price. It was the last pair on the shelf and they were her size.

So, while she has not fully adopted my choice of lifestyle, I do believe that some of the principles have rubbed off on her. She ended up with a beautiful outfit designed by herself that cost the huge sum of R99.00 (EUR 9.11 or US$ 12.65), while practicing recycling, and strict resource management.

Now that she had saved money we could splash out a little and have her hair and make-up done by local ladies, supporting local industries. I am so proud of her.

Here are a few pictures of her special evening.

Answering your questions

A few days ago I asked you if you had any questions about my life in the bush, and today I will be answering them.

The first question came from Jocelyn from O Mighty Crisis (and from Quin)

What foods do you wish you could have easy access to…but don’t? ¬†What do you crave?

Although our home is quite isolated, we are about 23 km’s from the nearest town. In town there are two national chain supermarkets which carry most products that we need on a daily basis although sometimes our choice is limited. For instance, it took us some persuading to get the supermarket to stock my daughters favorite breakfast cereal. ¬†Before that, we got people to bring some to us when they came to visit. ¬†She still wants another variety too but I’m not sure if it is still being sold in South Africa (Fruit Loops?)

Things like tahini, that I need to make my own humus, is not available, so a couple of us from our town place orders when someone is going to a city.  Other things we crave sometimes are Kentucky Fried Chicken and Sushi (we can get a limited amount at one of our restaurants on a Friday evening only Рand then you have no choice).



I think because there are quite a few luxury international safari lodges in the area, the shops tend to stock most of what we need. ¬†Besides food though, we have a very limited choice when buying shoes and clothes and prefer to drive a few hours to do that kind of shopping. ¬†There are also no fabric stores, movie cinemas, home decor stores, or book stores, and we don’t have a functioning fire station (a few homes burned to the ground recently) or a decent hospital.

The second question came from Greg from Greg’s World

What is a legavaan?

Well Greg, it’s kinda like a huge lizard. (rock monitor)

(image from here)

(Varanus albigularis),  the legavaan or white-throated monitor, is a species of monitor lizard found in southern Africa. It is the second longest lizard found on the continent of Africa and the heaviest bodied.

Last week Cleo, my dog, had a run in with one at the pool. She barked at it and grabbed it in ¬†her mouth and tossed it into the air until I called her off. ¬†The legavaan didn’t seem to care much but moved off eventually. ¬†Cleo is very lucky that it did not hurt her.

Question 3 comes from Sweffling from Stopping by woods

Which animal/s do you have the most difficulty keeping out of the house and allied to that, which animals wish to come in and share your house during the winter?

Luckily, because we have extremely mild winters, most animals are quite happy to stay away from human habitation in our area. ¬†The creatures that give me most problems are squirrels because they like to make their homes in our thatch roofs. We have to regularly rescue birds that have flown inside and release them and on a couple of occasions have had to remove snakes from our cottages and relocate them. So far we have not had any inquisitive mammals who would like to move in (thank goodness). ¬†On the insect front, it’s really another story. They ALL want to live with us and it’s an ongoing battle to keep our cottages reasonably insect free without resorting to poisons. ¬†I must admit that even although I am considered a greenie, and I save and release spiders, ¬†– cockroaches, flies, mosquitos and ants get sprayed.

My veggie garden on the other hand gets many visits from all types of buck, porcupines and hippos.

Question 4 is from Mark of The Idiot Speaketh

What is the strangest ANIMAL or creature that you have found taking a secret dip in your pool?

Now I know Mark is longing to hear about gorillas, and constantly teases me about them, we DO NOT have gorillas running wild in South Africa.  The strangest thing I have found in the pool is a long extremely thin worm like creature that wriggles and squirms its way across the surface of the pool. It is so thin that it almost looks like a hair and is a few inches in length.  I have yet to find out what it is.

Other creatures we fish out of the pool are bees, frogs (lots of frogs), huge beetles, grasshoppers and unfortunately once a drowned snake. ¬†The larger animals on the game reserve don’t even come to drink the water from our pool. ¬†They are fussy and I think prefer chlorine-free that they get from the river and watering holes.


I hope you have all learned a little more about us and our home. ¬†If you have any more questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll do another post like this if necessary.











Flying time..

It was just a short while ago that this little thing

was sitting on my lap learning to steer the car in an empty parking lot. It’s so clear in my mind. She was complaining about the big pigeons (seagulls) that kept landing in front of the very slow-moving car.

Yesterday we were in the car again and I glanced over at her…..

My word!  What happened???

It feels as if only a moment in time has passed.

It’s very hard for me to believe also that this fine young man

is about to become a dad early next year. (!!!)

Look at them now.

My children

Where has time gone?

Happy feet

You know how families develop their own words – normally stemming from a child who mispronounced something. I have met families where nick names are rather strange and others who have peculiar words for objects. It sometimes sounds really strange when you see four grown adults in a family calling something a boo-boo, and they all know what they are talking about.

When I was growing up our family was no different, and to this day common household items are still called strange things like a “hot ‘n trot tray” ¬†(from Salton Hot Tray), my daughter being called a Bean, and macaroni is lekkeroni. ¬†At the ripe old age of 18 ¬†the Bean found out that Harper Lee wrote the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and not “Tequila Mockingbird” and that chutney was not chuckney.

A common word in our family is “fud”. ¬†This is our word for a paw. So all our pets have fuds not paws and the dirty marks they make on the floor are fudprints.

Our Cleo is still a little unsure of her new surroundings and in order not to lose her fuds she keeps them all in one spot when she sleeps.

What strange words do your families use?

Meet Cleo

Cleo used to be a companion dog to an old lady who passed away.¬† She was taken over by her builder who developed a particularly strong bond with her. They lived happily together until the builder packed his bags and left the farm he was working on. He left Cleo alone at the farm. For months Cleo would sit on the road from where she saw her master leave, crying for him to come home. He never did.¬† The farm owner has been feeding Cleo for six months now but can’t take her home because he already has three dogs who would fight with her. He says he has never seen such a well behaved dog but she is pining for company.

The Bean and I have decided that we would¬† like to take Cleo in and give her a happy loving home.¬† We fetch her tomorrow morning.¬† I can’t wait!