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Life has definitely taken me to places I never thought I would go to....but nothing more exciting than where I am right now! Welcome to my world...


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Library book arrival....and making a Plan...as in my exit strategy.



Hadn't planned on posting tonight.It has been a long day...and lots of cupboards were cleaned out today. I leave one week from today from Africa! Still hasn't sunk in...I am going for a long time...not just a quick visit to the US. The movers have come and gone...and I have found about a half a trucks
worth of stuff...that I meant to send! Not literally...but every time I moved a piece of furniture or a PILE of fabric today....I found something that wasn't supposed to be still HERE! I wanted to share a photo of my sister's WIZARD OF OZ kitchen back in the States! I think it is lovely...took this last summer when I was in PA visiting the family. Another of my talented siblings, my brother, did the OZ murals on the wall. Isn't it cool? Her husband has collected OZ memoribilia for a long time...and my sister was Dorothy in a school production many years ago. So it progressed from there. It starts with the tornado...on a greyish wall and goes into OZ much like the movie! I just wish I lived close enough to have some cool mural done at my home..... that is when I have a Home! *s*
It will happen. I am hoping to get some sewing done tomorrow...after my dentist appt...and another appt. after that. Have delivery to the Ezibeleni library, my last one I am afraid....but the good news is that the very last parcel of books....sent airmail in May....finally arrived!!!! ISN'T that grand. And I will get to deliver them to the place myself. Again special thanks to another brother who paid dearly to get these books to me. Even if it did take 7 months!!!!! And the fine looking young man in the kitchen helped to get the books donated by children in his school...as part of a youth service project day. What a darling? He and his younger sister got 6 large boxes of books donated then my brother paid to send them. AIR MAIL !!!!! I am really thankful that they arrived. Time is rushing by me....YIKES! Have many going away do's this week...but still optimistic that some sewing can be done! Just want to finish two projects going.... that is doable if the power stays on...and I can get done with everything else that needs to be taken care of. Hope all of you have a wonderful week.... Happy sewing! Colleen

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Woe is me....and more lights out in Africa!



I have included a photo of a very large elephant who walked AT our car in the Kruger park....thought you might find it interesting. They are big!!!! And trust me, where does an Elephant walk, ...... anywhere he darn well feels like!!!!!Firstly, have been out of touch as the computer nose dived on us last week...and we had to tread through some rough high water...to get it repaired. Nothing is ever straight forward. I reported the computer failure to the local ...(as in country...NOT in Queenstown) computer headquarters,and was told that they would be here the next day.Now having lived here for the time I had...I kind of doubted that. Sure enough the next day, was phoned to say it would be Wed. I decided to take that with a grain of salt as well....then on Wed. I was phoned to be told that it Would be Wed. afternoon.... OK. See him then, I will be at the house all day Wed. BUT already have plans for Thursday. WELL you probably know where this is going.... another phone call on Wed...in the afternoon... the "technician" is still 200 km away...(about 120 miles) and won't make it to Queenstown until after 5, "May he come then??" I reply that the last time the technician came it took several hours for him to replace the motherboard...and my husband has a phone interview at 6, so not a convenient time.(we also have been having daily power outages...so nothing reliable electrically) She then says so he can come after 6? Now what part of not convenient is she not getting.Another 15 min. on the phone to tell her that I don't really care if she has to get another authorization to have him come the next day....and no he can't come on Thursday morning...as I have a weekly meeting at that time!!!! TO which she replies...can I not leave it with someone at the house. "YOU MEAN THE NO OTHER PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIVE HERE?" I don't have a maid....all day...and I am certainly not going to have a stranger sitting in my home while I go run my errands/attend the meeting? And since I WAS here when I had the appt. scheduled I didn't really care if she had to seek reauthorization! It was not a good day...except that DH had his interview with another univ. and they have accepted him into a doctorate program...and another fellowship was confirmed in todays email. So we will be going to college..... and soon he will be Dr. Bob and I guess that will make me MRS Dr! :o) or *s* as the bloggers say! I am happy for him. He will now have at least a choice to see if it is Denton, TX...or Starkville, Mississippi! I don't really have a preference....as it will be fun no matter where we end up. Now, back to the computer saga...... on THursday....I am about to leave for my meeting...and I get a phone call asking if the technician had fixed the machine...so I go back through the STORY about him missing the appt. and they say oh...we have a man who can come at 10...I say NO, I am off to a meeting until 2:45. Can you not leave it with someone....and it starts all over again. I leave the house...run to the fabric store....NO NOT to buy fabric...but to pick up an African shirt I had made for hubby..... and while there I receive another phone call from another person....who wants to know if the tech had fixed the computer? No and I explain again..he was detained...well ....someone can be there at 10? NO!!!!! I will be in a meeting until 2:45!!!!!! AFter that is fine..or all day Friday! Thank you Madame!..... then its off to the meeting...where I am phone no fewer than 3 more times...... to ask the same question! I think if the company had more technicians and less phone people, maybe they would be get more done. The Tech did come at 2:45.... a very nice young man...not like the other crotchety guy who came last time....and had the new mother board fixed in no time...He was very efficient. I am kind of glad that the other guy was 200 K away...this guy was a definite improvement.
On to other things.... we have been sufffering many power outages.... every day..... it is called load sharing....as apparently, South Africa uses too much power...and hadn't planned on the usage...properly...so the problem is expanding...until the new power station will be built in 2016!!!! Yikes, I can't figure out how you could add 6,000,000 homes without anticipating a need for more power!??????? Someone misjudeged something and left it a bit too long! At any rate...every day for about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs we have no power....so it has cut into my sewing time! How dare they???? I feel like I have accomplished very little. I did make about a bazillion small square triangles.... and about a half a bazillion larger ones for another project...but have yet to have time to sew them into something. But I have a plan. The movers are coming in the morning to pack/repack my boxes...and as I sit in the living room and watch them pack.... I think I will sew....if there is power! Please let there be power! I have several things going....and am hoping to get them done. This quilt flimsy is safely in the US....awaiting the day when I get my longarm quilting machine. I am open to suggestions.Will have to try out some of them when I get back. I especially liked the APQS Millenium I tried way back in 2003 at the Houston quilt show. But know things may have changed in the several years I have been gone.If you have a longarm and would like to share...I'd love to hear from you. This was the quilt I was working on at the seaside..... when I took my machine! Have a great couple of days..... the packers here tomorrow....think I may need some time off! I did have a very successful South African garage sale..../ kinda sortof.....as inside the house....and only invited ladies...... who also were offerd a cool drink (it is summer!) and biscuits( cookies)!!!!! :0)Later! Colleen

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good times...and BAD......






Ok, I am posting a couple of photos of some cushions and a purse...embroidered by xhosa ladies at the Aids project farm. These were the last ones I could get.... I love their embroidery, it is very rich...on very thick black ravelly cloth...but I did buy several last year to turn into a wall hanging...which is a UFO/MIP( masterpiece in progress) at the moment! But these will go nicely in my African room...so I had to pick them up.On to the next thing.....I know...South Africa has some lovely lodgings we have been so happy to stay in...but recently we booked a 2 bedroom flat, for 4 ADULTS , 2 couples. And never having stayed there...I guess I DIDN'T ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!!!! Actually I don't guess, I KNOW I DIDN'T!!!! We drove 4 hrs to Port Elizabeth and didn't stay in the place we usually do...since our friends were with us....and I knew they liked a pool, our normal flat place doesn't have a pool...but it is across the street from the beach...so it doesn't matter to me. But wanted our friends to be able to sit out by the pool...which they enjoy. So I asked the lady if it had a pool? She said that they did...so I booked the 2 bedroom flat for the four of us. When we got there..... the first thing was that I had to ring the bell at the locked gate 4 times to get someone to let me in, then a young girl gave us the key, with an electric gate key attached to it...but it wouldn't open the gate...( we were actually being given accomodation across the street...from MR Landlord) so I had to walk back across the street....so she then gave me another gate key.... a seperate one.... and it didn't work. I went back across the street...and she came out to inform me that there was a second gate....that that key worked for.... and that the original gate to which we had been directed...was in fact broken...and would be fixed in the morning! So we drove to the other gate...and sure enough that gate did open with the other key. Now these are remote electric gates... but in fact the broken gate, wasn't broken in the lock position...but could be pushed open by anyone...who touched it. A very scary....thing....especially when we entered the lounge of the "flat" where a message on the wall, said to always be certain that the gate was closed...as these are dangerous times! Again not reassuring....and the regular place that we have stayed at is only a block away. Not sure what the message was for....since the gate couldn't be locked??? But I still wasn't deterred from being at the sea. It is a pretty beach, and I do love this particular place on the Indian ocean. But the real surprise came when we went to the bedrooms. Behind door number 1, two twin beds..... Hmmmmmmmm...... then on to door number 2!!! Surprise, Surprise, BUNK BEDS!!!! YEP!!!! BUNK BEDS!!!! Now all 4 of us are at or above 50, 3 or us have had knee surgery....and I doubt any of us had slept in a twin bed, muck less bunk beds in years! CErtainly not since I have been married.....which is 34 years tomorrow.



I couldn't back to the reception office quick enough....and the woman had the cheek to tell me, it was my fault....I hadn't verified the booking for two bedrooms....with double beds! I was furious...but customer service isn't the best thing over here....and she said they could give us seperate accomodation...as in 2 seperate 1 bedrooms flats...but it would cost another 100 dollars a night.....each! I couldn't believe...it . I had prepaid all room charges to hold the booking.... no refunds accepted less than 2 weeks prior to the booking date. I mean they had us coming and going...so the next time you travel in an unknown area, be sure and ask the right question! Oh, and remember I asked if they had a pool? Well, The question should have been is the pool clean enough to swim in...or Can we swim in this pool???? Because the pool they had although a nice size, had plastic bags and milk jugs floating in it...and the bottom of the pool was NOT VISIBLE!!!! So we decided not to chance it! Its all in semantics I guess! Even if I was going to be here long enough to make another trip to PE, I wouldn't be staying there FOR SURE! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.I am hoping to pack a bit...and sew a lot! Lots of Laughs this past week! Colleen

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And the winner is...... and Mama didn't have no stupid girls!

First let me share a photo of my husband trying to get his passport stamped properly, reentering South Africa at the Lesoto border, the top photo, shows NO ONE, and I mean no one at the passport control area...so we did what law abiding people do....we walked over to the other side of the building, where people are getting stamped to LEAVE South Africa. We got into major trouble not realizing that the passport had to be stamped, EVEN IF NO ONE WAS THERE TO STAMP IT... the day before this was taken. Again...to paraphrase a very smart girl I know, A lovely country, but the land of EVERYTHING not quite right!These photos make me laugh though. I have also included a photo of the policeman at the border check.He was so friendly.


OK, a very special congratulations to ANNIE ...she is the lucky 50th post winner. So please, Annie email me your details...then in about 3 weeks when I get back to the states...will send off your "lucky draw" package. I almost grabbed two names stuck together...but one dropped off. I guess using scrapbook papers for "scratch" may have not been such a good idea. I have done little else besides pack....and call movers. It is not like at home...where you call them and they come by to see what you have. NO ....that would be too easy! Here I had to call ...only to be given an email address...that I was to send my details to....?????? then that would be forwarded to the closest branch.....hmmmmmmm??????? ..... then they will contact me to get the " Inventory sheets" to me.....????? then after I fill them out....they will ...recontact me....to either set up a time for a person to actually show up and ....figure out the quote....OR....based on what I sent them on the inventory sheet.....they will get a quote to me...which may or may not be accurate. BECAUSE we are rural!!!! NOW ....we are in fact two hours from the bigger cities....but SOUTH AFRICA is only twice the size of TEXAS!!!! NOT AS BIG AS THE US! I actually contacted about 5 companies....and have still only had 1 person physically show up here in my home....today....and that is because I knew she gave quotes, ran into her at the grocery store...asked how I could get one from her company and was told I had to call the OFFICE, 2 hrs away to set up ....her coming to see my stuff????? Does this seem like layers of Bureacracy to you....???? or is it just me? This isn't the end of the world...and remember that the county I live in...( or local municipality as it is called here) ( about 50 miles across) has almost 200,000 people living here! It is true that the majority of those people still live in one room houses of cinder blocks....but amazing the HOOPS you have to jump through to get something done! AT any rate...hoping the girl who came will come in with my magic number....I have one in mind that I am willing to pay to ship my African treasures home on, again recognising it could take a year for the stuff to get there... as everything here is dependent on other people wanting to ship Partial containers to the same area. Tennessee isn't a huge immigration center I don't think.
On to other things...... I actually was going to ask a question about HUSBANDS, and mine is wonderful...truly! But now have forgotten what I was going to ask. These senior moments come way too often. On to something else. My dear husband...being the City Manager, he used to be, and the Accountant before that... is absolutely killing me. Not sure whether to blame it on the paper pusher, bean counter mentality or the "managerial" demeanor, but following much discussion about returning to the US....and the fact that while I finished off working, he was packing us up to move, and as in all moves prior to this one, there were many items he really didn't see the need to keep long term that is. He "rid" us of ALL kitchen appliances, most of the furniture, ( telling me, convincingly I might add, that storing it...there would be bugs...and other critters who might get into it, and anyways most of it was older than the kids...so we'll just get new when we come home) It sounded so good at the time. I only kept a few antique pieces, and the washing machine, a Maytag that was only a couple of years old), photos, and dishes, silver, etc. I didn't even keep towels or sheets. To make a long story short....we were discussing all the "stuff" we needed to replace...and my sweet little BEAN counter....said I think you need to draw up a budget. I think the daydreaming on my part was beginning to scare him....just a wee bit!
So I asked what were the NON line items.... being an accountants wife...I know how to ask the right questions! and we quickly began negotiations. Suffice it to say, I put the bare minimums, and presented it to him as a MINIMUM budget....complete with contingency fund and all! As I have told my friends many times, "MY MAMA didn't have any stupid girls!" He accepted my budget...of course it is a bare bones one.... we are only buying 4 towel sets...if we have company I will have to go out to buy more! I say this because it is with great anticipation that I am preparing to buy "stuff"! I havent set up a complete household, since we were young newlyweds...and we were poor! I don't think I had matching silverware for several months...and that was only with my BETTY CROCKER coupons! Remember those? I had a lovely pattern...MIchaelangelo....for quite a while...until the youngest boy, was a toddler..and they disappeared into the sand box...and never made it back into the house. Of course everything else was in Avacado Green.... since I did get married in early 70's. Had gotten rid of the Percolator coffee pot long ago, but think it will be fun, to scratch at bargain stores to get my house fitted out properly. I am certainly not above shopping garage sales...looking for a small plate hutch, and yes it is in the budget!The scariest thing about planning my purchases, was I can't remember what we have actually stored...its been in storage so long! Think we kept our baking sheets, and pans... but just not sure anymore. So I may miss the wonderful garage sale "season" because the "stuff" is stored in Texas, a long way from Tennessee, where I will be till dear hubby gets home! At least by the time he comes home we may know where we will be living. I am happy to announce that he did get an acceptance from one of the Universities that he has applied to for doctorate program. So it looks like I will be living with a college boy next year! Have a great week.

,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas by the pool!






Ok, back in form....and raring to go. Have to sort packing but have at least spoken to a real live person on phone...who is passing me off to someone else....to set up appt. I hate layers of people to deal with! But it is the way it is. Have been working on dear daughters baby quilt...baby due in less than two months!All hand applique!Yikes...need to get with it. And I do have photos of dear baby....Chloe.She is 13 days old. I think she may be a blend...of dad and mom. We'll have to wait and see.


My husband got into the Christmas spirit..and we have always tried to have all family members wear some sort of silly hats...its a tradition for us...and we got our friends to do it also. Now I had to share the pretty awful photo of my white legs...just to show I did get in the pool. Our friends have a lovely home on the golf course....and that was a bonus...as our hostess had been saving hubby all the good golf balls that ended up in her garden or pool!What a treat for him! He kept going through the bag of balls....there must have been about 50 in the goody bag for him.Guess now he may understand how I feel about fabric! I did find a couple of little things to send my winner (50th post) ...will write out names tomorrow and do the lucky draw then. Thanks for signing up. I have been asked to teach a scrapbook class in the morning with the farm wives in Tarka, its always a good time! And they feed me lunch, so I get to try recipes out. Yum! Have enjoyed seeing all of your photos of Christmas...but this is a fun change for Christmas. I will miss the lazy days of summer when I come home in a month. Will post more later.....when I get more time. Have a lovely weekend. I am hoping to sew if I can fight through the stack of boxes in front of the machine! Enjoy your weekend! Colleen

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy Old Years Eve...and a Blessed New Year!


Ok, a quickie, back in my bed tonight for a quick visit. We returned from our trip way up north, almost made it to Mozambique on our "drives" with the UK gang. They rode back with us to Queenstown, a fair piece...but we did take it over three days for their sake. My kids would be rolling over realizing that we only made the UK gang travel for about 5 hrs the first day to Clarens...a lovely ARTY community situated near the Golden Gate Park...beautiful mountains. It reminds me of an African Santa Fe, NM. Some very cool stuff....but went back to the one shop that I wanted to buy an african bowl....most cool..with porcupine needles and metal in it...and the lady never showed up to open the shop!So no bowl...had to get on the road for, a very short 3 hrs trip to Bloemfontein...( again sorry kids...for all the 12 hr travel days we put you all through) Spent the night there, then off to Queenstown.Now our friends have lived in some of the nicer parts of South Africa...mostly larger Urban areas, with shopping malls...and coffee shops...and very geared for the people who have money to spend.Queenstown is very poor, not much to do, only two actual restaurants, and some quickie Kentucky Fry, or fish places, with a Wimpy burger joint for the bulk of our entertainment dining out experiences. We have grown used to it...and actually enjoy the quiet pace of life here. But I could tell by my friends face that she was pretty surprised about all this....lack of Stuff in town. I think "my part of Africa" has taken on a whole new meaning. Our friends will stay the night with us...we will get our laundry caught up...I have just successfully dyed my hair...WITHOUT ANY BATH TUB MISHAPS~!!!!! and then we are off to Port Elizabeth, to hopefully get a little sun. Although, today it was between 13 and 18 C.... wet and cold. We all had jackets.....on, hard to believe that two days ago...it was almost (37 C) 100 here...F of course! My pal, Jayne, hadn't even brought along a sweater...so she picked one up this afternoon. Hoping to spend some more time on computer tomorrow retrieving photos. I have attached a photo we took two years ago...of golden gates park.It is a lovely place as you can see. Hope all had a lovely Old years Eve( as they call it here in SA) ....it was quite subdued for us...as we spent it at Oliver's Restaurant in White River South Africa. A very long.....4 hr..... several course dinner....all very nice....but not us at all! Followed by fireworks at midnight....but no Auld Lang syne.....a huge disappointment! Must admit....other years we have sat on Frank and Jayne's balcony overlooking the beach, watching the fireworks and had a blast....but since they have moved....we had to go POSH this year!White River is a nice place...they live on the golf course here...but no beach to look over!SHAME! We'll be in PE for a couple of days...then back to start some serious purging and packing for me! Enjoy your new year..... hope all have made realistic goals for themselves. I plan to reconnect with all old friends and family! And sew like a crazy woman.....too much fabric and way too little time! Colleen