Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaf Season

Outside a distinct bite is in the air.
Autumn is here.
Edged against a waxy gray sky
the foliage in their yellows, reds, browns, and oranges
makes it color-abundantly clear.

The burning bushes can always be relied upon to provide brilliant color.

The garden does not have many perennials that bloom in autumn. 
Asters (above) and mums (below) make the most of the cooler weather.

Autumn glory at the end of October

A little more than a month later and the same scene is leafless, white with snow and the only color available is the reflection of Christmas lights in the window.

 The backyard last Saturday morning. Thank goodness we painted the shed red otherwise the yard would have been devoid of any color but white and gray.

Now it is winter and the gardener and his plants can take a well deserved rest.
Hibernate. I can dig that. (No pun intended.)
I don’t mind the winter’s cold (well sometimes I do),
just as long as the sky stays blue, deep blue,
and the sun shines.

The Year in Gardening

Just the other day spring arrived and then summer flashed by. Autumn burst on the scene in all its normal colorful glory, but it was short lived as usual. The past few weeks winter has arrived and unfortunately it will stay far longer than the other seasons, or so it feels. The year just went by in a flash.

After January’s ice storm I thought I would have major issues, many dead plants, but the garden was the best ever. Last year’s hard work of redesigning the garden layout and transplanting most of the plants worked very well.

This year I spent about 20 % less time in the garden than previous years. That left me with more time to enjoy the scenery instead of working at creating the scenery. The garden is now smaller and more compact. I planted the plants closer to each other, which resulted in a concentrated flower show. With the redesign I grouped flowers and shrubs together that bloom at the same time. The result was waves of flowers throughout the garden at various times of the season.

During the sunny months we removed a long rotten fence that ran all along the one side of the backyard and replaced it with a new 6 feet high fence and painted it. What a job! M did a lot of the scraping and painting while I with a little help from my son did the heavy work of securing the fence pieces to the cross beams and posts. I also cleared and extended the path through the ‘woodlands’ to the entrance to the park at the back of my property.

A springtime collage of how the island on the left of the background image, planted with Asian lilies changed from deep green foilage to a bouquet of flowers.

The end result during late June 2009. A 'cacophony' of colors in an explosion of white, burgundy, apricot, pink, and yellow against the Viburnun background, screaming at one to take a closer look. 

In a bed on the sunny side of the backyard more Asian lilies, mainly in yellow and burgundy red, created a wave of color.

By mid-summer, once the lilies ended their show the Shasta daisies, hardy hibuscus and purple cone flowers towered over the lamb's ears.

A bug on the yellow top flowers of the golden-rods.

In a quiet corner the daylilies, hydrangeas and annabells provide a colorful alternative to barren ground. This area gets only limited filtered sunlight and many plants have struggled here in the past. These 1 year olds seem to like it here though.

The Black-eyed Susans have naturalized and are surrounding the bird feeder.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Invictus Contributes To Mandela's Legacy

It was always going to be a difficult movie to make for international audiences if rugby is one of the major focal points of the movie and to show the role that rugby play in the Afrikaner culture. The other stuff is easy.

I’m not in the movie rating business, but Invictus blows hot and cold, resulting in only an average movie on the whole. It is a nice inside look into a tiny slice of history at the rebirth of a nation. Freeman’s acting was quite good and he did a great job getting the accent right. Matt Damon went along for a payday. Not convincing. And surprisingly, a lot of on-field action that contribute only somewhat to the plot and making the movie a bit long without a spellbinding script.

But I could be bias. After all, I was there. I lived it. I was one of the millions that sat in their sitting rooms glued to the TV, totally absorbed in the occasion. And when the Springboks won…for South African rugby fans this was a moon landing, a moment of national pride and a major boost for patriotism. And although many didn’t know then about Mr. Mandela’s behind-the-scenes involvement in the game, many did change their view of Mr. Mandela because of his great support for the Springboks at the final.

The movie is certainly contributing to Mr. Mandela's already glorious legacy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Angry Chic Music

Friday Night LIVE!
& some excellent guitar work

Lucinda Williams - Joy

[What more can I say!]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Walk in a Park

One thing we are blessed with here in Kentucky is the beautiful, colorful sunsets. I am sure it has the same beautiful sunrises, but between all the usual suspects of life’s activities in the early morning I never get to see many of those sunrises.
Sometimes I will take my camera and cruise the park behind my property.

The scenery ain't much. There certainly is no dramatic scenery in the park.

It is visually a rather boring place for walking.
But then, it is first and foremost a recreational park.

But sometimes one can take the little scenery there is,
add a little atmosphere, light and a sense of tranquility,
and turn it into a moment of reflection and enjoyment.
It is just a walk in a park,
but it is a walk that one has to walk from time to time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where Are The Kangaroos?

Does anyone have a few brain cells they can do without to sell to Miss Kirsten Bell?

Don’t try to ring her bell because I don’t think anyone will answer.

Miss Bell, the starlet in the movie Couples Retreat, rated a dismal 15% only by the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, just returned to the US from a trip to Australia and in an interview she expressed her disappointment by the lack of kangaroos at the airport when she arrived in Australia.

Well Miss Bell, have you ever considered how disappointed Australians are when they arrive in America and find there are no grizzly bears at the airport to welcome them?

Damn! How inconsiderate can we Americans be by not ensuring foreigners are welcomed by our wild animals? Damnit twice!

Now I have to admit it is not just Miss Bell that holds these views of wild animals in public streets. I personally have been asked if there are still lions in the streets of Johannesburg, to which I usually answer: "Yes, in Johanannesburg there are many (referring to the Lions Rugby supporters), but not that many in Cape Town. I also recently read in an Internet forum where someone asked if visitors to South Africa for next year's Soccer World Cup will be safe against attacks from wild animals. To that I will also say: Yes, you are safe from the four legged animals, but watch out for the two legged kind.

Also see this article and what the Australian press think about Miss Bell's non-encounter with kangaroos.

What's that thing they say about blonds...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conspiracy Theories

Do authors of suspense and espionage novels provide ideas to politicians, terrorists, and anyone else that would like to rule the world or are they just excellent at predicting what the bad guys will come up with in the near future or do they have special access to people in the know or secret information that is already available but on a restricted basis?

We all know of Tom Clancy’s 1994 novel, Debt of Honor and the sequel Executive Orders that was so prophetically reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 attack using planes to crash into American buildings.

When I heard last Friday of the new secret nuclear facility in Iran I immediately thought of Christopher Reich’s 2008 novel, Rules of Deception, which starts off with the discovery by an Iranian soldier that their secret facility was discovered by someone else. I just finished the book, barely a month ago, so it’s still fresh in my memory, and again, like in Clancy’s novel, one could draw comparisons between some of the side plots in the novel and the stories that are playing out on the front pages of the newspapers or on the 24 hour news networks.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

New York’s Annual Diplomatic Circus

The friendly get together of world leaders in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly's 64th annual country fair looks rather like a tea party of rich bitches of the Divided Nations.

How much you have to take what these guys and dolls are saying serious, is an unanswered question. And it could even be answered with another question: “Who cares?”

There was Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who continued with his Jew-bashing and holocaust-denial and 12 countries stood up and walked out during his speech. If you look at the list who walked out one might think they had prior meetings scheduled to discuss more interesting topics. The possibilities are endless. The Costa Ricans could have been interested in selling tropical vacations to the Germans and Danes, while Australia, New Zealand and Argentina might have strategize how to introduce the Pumas into the Four Nations rugby tournament in 2012.

And if you look at the picture, I don’t know why there is such a fuss about the walkout. It seems many countries didn’t even rock up in the first place to listen to Ahmadinejad. The place is half empty before the walkout.

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy took a swing at America and Britain with his “the behavior of those who still continue to grow indecently rich, after leading the world to the brink of disaster.”

Pardon Monsieur! You’re wrong…But you’re also slightly right!

Wrong, most Americans aren’t growing rich, certainly not indecently rich, any time soon, and right, about leading the world to a banking disaster, rather than to the brink of disaster. Isn’t a brink of disaster more like standing on a precipice of a ginormous sinkhole that gets bigger and bigger, you staring open-mouth, unbelievably, until you eventually realize the world is falling through its own ass.

After this I don’t think the US and Britain wanted to talked to France anymore, but then most Frenchmen would have shrugged their shoulders, gave a Mona Lisa smile and said “Vous savez…politiciens.”

And the Americans weren’t talking to their best buddies the Brits in any case because Barack Obama snubbed Gordon Brown…again. He snubbed him in March 2009 too. This time it is more like a diplomatic cold-shoulder, but not too far away from a slap in the face with an aristocratic riding glove.

[No, I don’t think Obama has one of those.]

President Obama has refused five separate requests from Prime Minister Brown for a private meeting when Brown will be town. Five times? Wow! That’s close to begging! Rumor has it that the snubs came after President Obama expressed how pissed off he is at the Brits for releasing the Lockerbie bomber. The release is a sore point for many Americans.

Talking about Libya. What’s up with Gaddafi? Setting foot in the US for the first time in 40 years, (I have no idea why he was given a visa in the first place) he was really the clowning jewel on the fairgrounds.

Looking like a cross between Mr. T with all his medals and someone who is having a bad hair day and tried to cover it up under a pill-box hat, Gaddafi wanted to pitch his tent in New Jersey.

[His tent?]

Eventually he was demonstrated out of the idea by a feverish local Jewish Rabbi and many of his friends. Gaddafi then crossed the Hudson River and tried to pitch his tent in the backyard of Donald Trump’s joint north of New York City. But the local council blocked it because he didn’t get a permit to put up a tent.

[Gee, I didn’t know you had to get a permit to pitch a tent in your backyard?]

And couldn’t anyone in Gaddafi’s entourage tell him that New York is actually a concrete jungle and not a sandy desert. Putting up a tent? I’m sure they could have found a reasonably good hotel room, redecorate it to look like a tent, and even put some sand on the floor. Hotels will allow anything these days to get clientele.

[Doesn’t seem like they have any bright lights in that entourage chandelier.]

All that was missing from this circus was Robert Mugabe. Well, he actually was at the Assembly, and he even gave a speech, but there was no silly, stupid comments like “We are not hungry... Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked. We have enough.”

[Yeah Right!]

This would all change again on Friday morning, after the circus packed up and moved south to Pittsburgh, when Obama, Brown and Sarkozy became big buddies once more and presented themselves as a united troika to announce they caught Ahmadinejad with its hands in a new and “previously unknown” nuclear cookie jar.

An interesting week in politics can be a very long or a very short time! So much depends on which way the wind blows and on which side of the fart you are standing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Dit is nie elke dag dat artieste en musikante, wat taal daagliks gebruik om emosie, woede, blydskap, liefde, haat, geskiedenis, phychedelic idees, drome, redenasie, evangelisme, en ander stories te verkoop, hul taal vereer in ‘n liedjie nie. Stef Bos en Amanda Strijdom (Strydom) het.

Stef Bos & Amanda Strijdom - De taal van mijn hart

Hier by ons en regtig orals oor Amerika is daar lokale radiostasies wat gewoonlik Klassieke Rock & Rock uitsaai. Afhangende van hoe jy Classic Rock definieer, sal jy by die een baie AC/DC, Led Zeppelin en ‘n horde van Amerikaanse “big hair bands” van die sewintigs en tagtiger jare hoor. By die ander een is Die Rollende Klippe (Rolling Stones), Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, en ‘n horde van Amerikaanse “big hair bands” van die sewintigs of tagtiger jare te hoor. Maar elke nou en dan dan adverteer stasie nommer twee: “We are not ashamed to play this on our radio station” en hulle trek weg met ‘n obskure nommer een van die verlede of iets “folksy” of “countryside.”

As ek soms met mede Suid Afrikaners oor musiek praat en ek bring die name Amanda Strydom of Coenie De Villiers op of selfs Emile Minnie dan kry ek so ‘n tweede kyk wat sê:

“Huh!...O ja…die kaberet sangers!”

Amanda Strydom - Stoom

(Ongelukkig is die video nie so goed soos die lied nie.)

Miskien is ek van ‘n vorige tydperk en De la Rey is eintlik ‘n karakter uit die geskiedenis boeke en nie so seer die naam van ‘n gewilde liedjie nie.

Nietemin, ek is nie skaam om te sê ek geniet Amanda en Coenie en selfs sekere van Emile se komposisies. Kaberet oftenot, wie het nou eintlik genres nodig? Dis die genot van die musiek wat tel.

Wel, genoeg gesê voordat ek hierdie bladsye verder bemes met woordelike misstof.
Emile Minnie - Susterliefde

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Braaivleis in die Bluegrass

The 2009 summer in Kentucky was until now fantastic. Cool weather, no humidity and lots of regular rain all contributed to the ability to spend many bearable hours outdoors. That has all changed the past week or two when all the bad elements of summer seems to arrive at more or less same time that the big weather kahuna, El Nino, arrived in the Pacific ocean during July.

Last Saturday when 50-odd South Africans (en ‘n groot trop kinders) got together for a braai on the Kentucky Creek Stables farm in Harrodsburg, KY, it was unbearably hot and the humidity could be cut with a knife. Even after darkness the heat seem to linger around for longer than usual, (maybe all the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon and the Van Wyk’s adult-only liquefied “Melktertjies” contributed), but it didn’t do anything to dampen the spirits of those that attended from all over Central Kentucky, Louisville & Bowling Green in Western Kentucky, and even the Van Vuurens that drove all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.

Die gees was goed en die geselskap selfs beter.

More photos can be found on Facebook under groups : South Africans in Kentucky

Heading photo credit: jpventer at www.smugmug.com

Ek wonder daren wat gese was as 'n mens so na die gesigsuitdrukkings kyk op die foto. Laat ek raai:
Mariana (vingerwysend): "Ek is seker daarvan dit was sy wat ek gesien het die snye brood weggee vir mense. Met vyekonfyt en al!"
Karin (oopmond en verbasende uitdrukking): "Monica! Dit kan nie wees nie."
Monica - Maak of sy niks hoor nie.

Karin Krein, Fritz Haupt, Liebe, and Mariana Gagiano Meyer

Quentin, Brent & Liza Krein

Elani Fourie & Celia Steenkamp

Die broodsny tannies: Monica Hanekom & Karin Krein

Teresa & Kobus van Vuuren and Martin van Wyk

Vicky Clark, Adele Faul, Lilly van Wyk and Jeanine McCurdy

Andre Muller

What was interesting was that until the music started playing the horses in the background was no where to be seen. But when they heard the music they all popped their heads out to look what was going on on their practice ground.

"Ook maar nuuskierig!"
Heyns Faul and David de Villiers

Sonsondergang en die gebraaiery het net begin en almal het gehoop vir 'n koelte lafenis.

Jou lekkerding! Pap en sous.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rodrigo y Gabriela

I got to get ready to pack, catch some sleep and get out of Mexico tomorrow morning but I want to leave here with something spectacular out of Mexico City. (Thanks Leon.)

Rodrigo y Gabriela

And how about their version of the old favorite Stairway to Heaven

Adios Mexico! Hasta la vista!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The World's Longest Yard Sale

Once a year, from the first Thursday in August to that Sunday, Joe and Mary Public, merchants, junk dealers or anyone else that try to make a quick buck, drag, push or carry their junk to US Highway 127 for the world’s longest yard sale. This is so “Only in America.”

For 654 miles through five states from West Unity, Ohio, in the north to Gadsden, Alabama in the south, the US Highway 127, which also runs through Danville, KY, become one big flea market and parking lot.

From in front of their houses (those located on the 127 where it is a single lane highway)

to any open field

the vendors will try to sell their old wagon wheels, home-made preserve, any other junk or fake antiques,

or old movie characters or Coke memorabilia,

or an old disused tractor

and the tools to fix it

so buyers, some dressed up for the occation,

can haul it back to their garages or storage units, which already contains so much junk they can't get their car or anything else in there.

Oh, and pity you if you are on that road, maybe in a hurry from point A to point B and not interested in anything for sale, and you get stuck behind a bunch of drive-by-I've-got-all-the-time-in-the-world-yard-sale-shopping-lovers.

Photo credits: Yahoo and Google images