Death by Chocolate Cheesecake.

We had such a great day today, and I saw my sister’s lovely new house for the first time. Of course, my mom was there in her Sunday best, and looking very good indeed. Scrumptious roast pork lunch with all the trimmings was on the menu, and I had been requested to make a chocolate cheesecake, which I happily did. When my sister saw it, she exclaimed, “You really don’t do things by halves, do you?” I have to say that it was absolutely ‘to die for’. Please help yourself to a slice, but you’d better not ask how many calories, and please don’t take the white bunny. That’s my brother-in-law’s. 🙂

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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

‘Sentimental Value’ for Jake’s theme

“We have to do the best we can. This is our sacred human responsibility.” ~ Albert Einstein

I seriously battled with Jake’s theme this week, and had almost decided to give it a miss, but sitting at my desk this evening, I happened to open one of the drawers, and found something which has absolutely no monetary value, and is of no value to anyone but myself, and yet I have kept it for over twelve years, occasionally getting it out to have a look at it, and then putting it away again. This thing of such sentimental value to me is a pile of cards and letters given to me on my last day of teaching class music at a school in Johannesburg.

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There were many tears shed that morning, as we had our last school assembly for the term. Hubby had retired and we had sold our house and were moving down to the coast. One of the other teachers had secretly coached a small group of the older children to sing that lovely but very sad song, “Time to say goodbye,” and that was the catalyst for myself, the teachers and about 600 pupils to burst into floods of tears. My eyes are becoming moist again, just recollecting it, and every time I hear this song, I remember that day.

I was given lots of cards with wonderfully loving messages,  and presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.They’d also had a collection to buy me a gold bracelet with a music clef charm, but my most treasured gift was the red handmade card from a small member of my choir. It simply said in gold lettering, “Thank you teacher for always doing your best.”

That is actually all we can ever hope to do in life; to always do our best, give it our best shot, whatever the circumstances. Don’t you agree?

To see more interpretations of Jake’s theme, just click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Gold to go

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This ATM in Boca Raton, Florida, dispenses gold coins and bars weighing up to 8 ounces, at prices updated every 10 minutes based on the real-time spot price of gold. I didn’t see anyone using it, but I read that the Abu Dhabi machine is so popular that is has to be restocked every two days! 🙂

To find links to more Wordless Wednesday posts, just click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

This week the challenge is to share a phoneography picture that means “Future Tense” to us.

Whilst I was away in the USA, I saw my first electric cars. The first one was at a mall in New Jersey at Christmas time. I spotted this beautiful car and went over to have a look. After walking all around it, I was quite puzzled to note that there didn’t seem to be an engine. How weird! My son patiently explained that it was an electric car, and they don’t actually have engines. Well, I’m blonde for sure, because I ‘d never realised this. All I knew was that they didn’t need to be filled up with gas, and I also thought that they all looked like little ‘Noddy cars’. 🙂

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When we got back to Florida, I saw another even more beautiful car at our local mall, and this time, there was no confusion, because they’d thoughtfully written on the side, ‘Electric Vehicle’, especially for me. 🙂

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if in the not too distant future, all our vehicles could be powered by battery. Apparently they are silent, and of course create far less pollution than gasoline-powered cars. Environmentally friendly is certainly the way we should be aiming for our world’s future. Electric cars are not a new invention, and the first four-wheeled electric car was built by the German engineer Andreas Flocken in 1888. In 1900, 34% of all cars in New York, Boston, and Chicago ran on electric motors, whilst nowadays, the percentage of cars on American roads that are fully electric is less than one percent. I wonder why it’s taking so long for them to become more popular than our gas-guzzlers? I’m sure some technically minded blogger will be able to give me the reason. 😕

My weekend in pics.

Today it’s raining, and the sea and sky are almost the same shade of drab grey. I thought I’d tell you this, as I don’t want you imagining that I spend all my days swinging in a hammock under blue skies. 🙂

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You’ll be glad to know that I survived Cruel Niel’s shape class with only a few aches and pains and wobbly knees. I’d almost forgotten what a tyrant this athletic little devil in a red T-shirt can be. The music is of the kind which makes me turn tail outside such stores as ‘Hollister’ and ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’, even though I’m just longing to go in and try on a pair of their skinny jeans. Their choice of music should tell me that the clothes inside the store are meant for youngsters, rather than  this mature woman with sensitive ears. As we hapless victims bent, stretched, reached for the sky, touched toes, did countless push ups, tummy crunches, and weights, I could hear someone screaming out “Can you feel it, feel it, feel it, baby?” Of course I could feel it! 😯 Neil’s strident voice kept telling us to ‘Keep going, keep going. One more set…….five, four, three, two, one, relax.” Only for a split second though, and then we were on to the next tortuous exercise. This went on for a whole hour, and I kept looking at the clock, thinking. “WHAT am I doing here? Let me rather die NOW. ”  The last five minutes were spent rolling and stretching on the floor, whilst the tape played, “Voulez vous couchez avec moi ce soir?” I was ready to agree to anything, just to make the agony come to an end. 😉 The inevitable balancing stork-like on one leg and then the other, ended the class, and as I left, I remarked to Neil, “I’d forgotten just how cruel you can be,” and his retort was, “I was extra cruel today, just so that you’d remember faster.”  I’m a glutton for punishment though, and I guess I’ll be there again next Friday.

My piano playing went really well, and people smiled and waved at me, and an elderly couple had a bit of a dance to show their appreciation. One rather distinguished looking man came over and patted me on the back, which I thought was a bit of a liberty, but he obviously thought I was up for it. 🙂

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Yesterday afternoon we went for a walk around our neighbourhood. I noticed that these security cameras have popped up at regular intervals along our road, and we have one inside our complex. In Florida, we have no need of high walls and electric fencing. Our gardens are just open to the street. It’s hardly surprising that we prefer living there, is it?

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We saw these playful monkeys having fun on someone’s roof.

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The daddy was standing guard and giving us the ‘hairy eyeball’, but uncooperatively closed his eyes for the photo.

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The beach was almost deserted, which was surprising for a weekend. You can just see the Umhlanga lighthouse way in the distance.

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Along the path We came upon this old dead tree trunk, and I immediately saw many weird and wonderful faces in it. Can you also see them, or is it just me? I can see at least ten, and one has whiskers, but I do see faces in almost everything.

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This monstrosity of a house has been under construction for the last two years, and nothing seems to have changed whilst we were away.

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Here is my favourite local seaside mansion, and I’d swap our townhouse for it in a heartbeat, although maybe not, as there’d be so much more housework to do. 😕

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I’ve finished my spring clean downstairs today. I’m quite the fiend with the vacuum cleaner, and so many dead ants, spiders and dust bunnies have been sucked into oblivion. Tomorrow I’ll tackle the upstairs, but I’ve earned a rest, so let me have a nice cup of tea, and catch up with some of your blogs. 🙂

If I only had time for Ailsa’s theme.

Ailsa of ‘Where’s my back pack’ fame, has given us a new travel theme.  Time is something I’m seriously short of at the moment. Since I got back to my home in South Africa, after six months away, I seem to have been rushing madly to get things done. One of the most important things was driving up to see my dear mom and have lunch with her yesterday. She was overjoyed to see me of course, and we had a lot of hugs, kisses and news to catch up on. 🙂

Some of you may know that I play the piano, and I phoned the local mall to say that I was back. The pianist who was standing in for me, hasn’t played for quite a while and they have no-one at the moment, so off I go in a few minutes to entertain the Sunday shoppers for two hours. This necessitated a bit of practice time this morning, which went quite well. It’s a bit like riding a bicycle; you never forget, and as I sat down, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it sounded not too bad, so I’m quite confident to go and practise some more on the general public.  😉

I thought I’d show you our ancient clock which was presented to hubby’s grandfather in 1894. It was for his service as a Methodist minister at a church in Birmingham, England. The case is made of slate, and a clock maker told us that the mechanism is much older than 1894, so we have a real antique. It has a lovely chime too, and keeps very good time.

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Here is a close-up of the metal plaque on the front. The family has no idea where the ‘pair of bronzes’ went to, but my father-in-law thought that they were maybe made of pewter, not bronze, and just fell apart over the years.

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So this is our family heirloom, which weighs about 20 kgs, and was brought over from Ireland in our hand luggage. I well remember hubby carrying this and trying to make out that it weighed almost nothing, so that it wouldn’t have to go as checked baggage. 😉

Now I’m rushing off to do my piano stint. I think I’ll include those lovely old songs, Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” and  “As Time Goes By,” from Casablanca, in keeping with the theme.

To see more interpretations of Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

Message to all pets and pet owners.

I received this fun e-mail from my sister, and thought that those of you with dogs and cats at home, might very well relate to this.

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door:

 


Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this, but do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep, so it’s not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also consider that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but selfishness.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years – canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, and then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

TO ALL NON-PET OWNERS WHO VISIT AND LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PETS:

(1) They live here. You don’t.
(2) If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘fur’-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

(1) eat less,
(2) don’t ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don’t smoke or drink,
(7) don’t want to wear your clothes,
(8) don’t have to buy the latest fashions,
(9) don’t need a gazillion dollars for college and
(10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children …

Don’t you just love this?

 

A windy day in Umhlanga

Last night I slept like the dead, and woke up to brilliant sunshine streaming through the curtains. I jumped out of bed to look out of the window, and was greeted by beautiful blue sky for a change. Fine weather really does lift the spirits, doesn’t it? Yesterday when we arrived home, there was so much to do, and not just the unpacking of our cases. There were piles of dead bodies on the tiles in the dining room! Well, they were very tiny dead bodies, but they needed vacuuming up before I could go to bed. I would not sleep well, knowing there were hundreds of dead ants on the floor downstairs. 🙂

Today has been really busy, with washing and shopping for food. Of course the cupboards and fridge were like ‘Old Mother Hubbard’s’……..absolutely bare. There was not a single skerrick of food to be found. Then there was the gym membership to sort out, and whilst we were there, we decided we may as well  have a good workout. I’ll probably ache all over tomorrow, but too bad, because we’re both going to ‘Cruel Neil’s’ shape class at 9 am. I remember his classes from a couple of years ago. He’s a hard taskmaster, and I could hardly walk down the stairs afterwards. It was nice to go to a gym with lots of young people, instead of the one at our club in Florida, where we’re about the youngest.  I’m sure some of the Florida gymmers are well into their eighties, but you have to admire their energy, even if they don’t display impressive muscle tone.

It was  really windy today, and these kite surfers were making the most of it.

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The beach is looking stunning, and we may have to go and sit on it tomorrow. It’s been a while.

Wordless Wednesday: Homecoming

Well it’s not quite wordless, but thought I’d pop in to show you my last sighting of England.

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The sunset looked quite spectacular from our vantage point above the clouds.

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After much travelling over the past six months, we’re now back home in South Africa. There were fishermen on our beach this evening, and there’s the city of Durban in the distance.

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It’s good to be back home for a while.

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San Francisco Bay for Jake’s theme.

I’ve just finished packing my cases, and when I saw Jake’s theme for this week is ‘BAY’, I couldn’t resist posting a few pics of the gorgeous San Francisco Bay. They were taken in July 1995 on our very first trip to the USA. We started off in LA, motored over to Palm Springs, then to Tombstone Arizona, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, up the east side of the Sierra Nevada, across Yosemite National Park, and then to San Francisco, where we stayed in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. We loved this beautiful city, even though the ‘summer’ weather was rather chilly, and there was a lot of mist over the bay. This is the best shot we could get of the Golden Gate Bridge, without actually flying over it.

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This was looking down at Horse Shoe Bay from the bridge.

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Here’s a view of the city from the other side of the Golden Gate bridge.

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My favourite pic across the bay, is this one, looking out towards Alcatraz, with the gorgeous sailing ship which happened to appear at just the right moment. 🙂

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We’ll soon be leaving for Heathrow airport, and my next post should be from sunny South Africa. 🙂

To see Jake’s amazing animations, as well as other entries for the theme, just click here.