The little joys of life

I have been moved lately by the little joys of life in my garden. As I lift my head I see five white butterflies flying by in close formation.

0b4fa-galahsTwo metres away from me a pink and grey galah has swooped onto the hanging basket which serves as a seed feed for our avian visitors. The first visitor of the day there is usually the beautiful 8410b-blueindianringneckIndian blue ring-necked parakeet, obviously an exotic escapee, who stridently whistles at us to replenish the dish with sunflower seeds.

We stand guard otherwise he is chased away by the numerous outrageously a7c32-rainbowlorikietcoloured rainbow lorikeets who perch in the nearby cabbage tree like Christmas decorations shrieking and murmuring. They are tough characters: I saw one back down a magpie on our lawn, hop-charging it until it moved on. They have just chased off the galah which is a much bigger bird too!

After the lorikeets have scarfed every remaining seed, they depart shrieking raucously, sometimes skimming close past me to show their lack of regard.fiona-lumsden-king-parrots

Then, if we are lucky, the beautiful King parrot arrives, usually the scarlet headed male, but occasionally his beautiful shamrock green lady.


At my feet, I hear an indistinct squeak, squeak – Lulu is dreaming in her bed. She is our new puppy. Although when our beloved Schnauzer Mooshoo died, we said never again, we couldn’t last without a dog, so we found Lulu. Such a grinning delight! She is cute and feisty, demanding and energetic. Quite a challenge for 60+ year olds!

Finally, more joy: we had four of our five children together for Mum’s macaroni cheese dinner last night, along with puppy, grandchild, two cats and three partners.

They live spread out across Australasia, so it was a rare opportunity to check out our big babies and introduce them to Lulu. My heart is full.


*King parrots painted by Fiona Lumsden

P.S. Last night we were honoured by a visit from a slighter longer joy than usual: a carpet python hung about a tree above a fence line hoping for an engagement with a possum or a rat. Isn’t it a beauty!












Kith and Kin

My mind has been turning to love of those dear to me, prompted by the sad news that my brother in law is stricken with leukemia and the good news of an impending visit by my son and our newest daughter in law.

Thinking about it, families keep growing: brothers, sisters and children marry and bring husbands and wives … and if you’re lucky, nephews and nieces and grandchildren.

Even though husband and wife lose that status with divorce, father and mother do not. Brothers and sisters in law do not cease to be brothers and sisters on divorpooh-friendce or remarriage or death.

The in-laws are kin but their families are kith.

Friends are kith even though some are closer than kin.


My son who is a soldier is about to embark on an operational posting and I have been beseeching Blessed Michael the Archangel to watch over him, as he did in Afghanistan.

I mull over what sage words I could say to him, but have realised :pooh-advice

  • ·         One can give sage words only if asked
  • ·         Those words should be good for all
  • ·          Pooh says most things better than I do.





Piglet: “How do you spell ‘love’?”

Pooh: “You don’t spell it…you feel it.”


The one that frequently consoles me is:

“If the person you are talking to does not appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in this ear.”


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

robertmpirsig_zenandtheartofmotorcyclemaintenance Recently I have been engrossed by this Inquiry into values by Robert Pirsig. It was a classic of the new free thinking era of the 70’s; however I avoided reading it (and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). I suppose I felt they were a wee bit kitsch.

I was wrong – this is a fascinating book of some depths, which I recommend.


It discloses a very real look into both sides of a very bright schizophrenic’s mind and his descent into insanity, which was treated by shock therapy.

Be warned, it takes some discipline to complete it.buddha-or-godhead

Parallels with eastern philosophies are drawn which are enlightening.

The discussion is sometimes quite complex, but somehow the main points are well illustrated.

The balances between science and art, yin and yang and the overarching of quality or excellence, which is the source of all endeavour, are persuasive.


I founpirsigs-heart-2d a great deal of support for my thoughts on spiritual direction, differences between sexes, xenophobia  and beauty.

There is an intriguing relationship with his young son which has a strange twist, near the end.

I must now read the Hitchhikers’ Guide .


Just another tequila sunrise


There must be a price to pay for a balmy spring, tequila sunrises, arrays of visiting parrots  and the clear, bright colours of the nasturtiums in our garden. I can’t get enough of the scenes, sounds and scents of this Spring.

Maybe my sense of awe is exacerbated by the banality of the national news. Last night we were treated to some variety  from the usual house fire, convenience store robbery and road crash,  – a story on the condition of city roads, which required 86 000 potholes to be fixed last year!

Spice is also provided on occasion with the mandatory attempts at courthouses to get a response from head shaven, tattooed bikies … are you sorry for what you did?zenasturtiums

I suppose it is a reasonable counter to the 20 odd years sprinkled with bombs and bodies before I left Africa

This sort of karma thinking is unsettling. How can life be so good for me when there are people being washed away in South Australia, blown away in Syria and unable to get any money to buy necessities in Zimbabwe.

Ice cream anyone? I’m afraid there’s only vanilla…

Please let there be no payback – I’ve been a good boy, really!

Let us give thanks and praise.

Biltong, Boerewors and Blatjang: how to fix South African Rugby and politics

biltong-hanging-upThese are the iconic foodstuffs loved by all South Africans: biltong  being strips of dried salted meat; boerewors the spicy farmers’ sausage without which a braaivleis is just another meal.



Blatjang  is the spicy, tangy chutney  sauce introduced by Malay slaves in the 18th century. The even more universal foodstuff is maize porridge called putu, pap or sadza which was the staple food of most black South Africans.

Latterly, MacDonalds is making headway as a replacement.

Parliamentary news and rugby commentaries will tell you that, despite apartheid’s removal from legislation over 20 years ago, it remains alive and kicking as a political sledgehammer with which to attack and defend.

bokkeOne of the most obvious targets of the political machinations deployed to rectify the apparent iniquities of the past has been rugby.

This was an Englishman’s game introduced in the 1800’s with the first Springboks selected in 1891.

By 1903  only 25% of Springboks selected had Afrikaans names. This reached 51% only in 1951 – a slow transformation.

Since the new South Africa, 18% of Springboks have not been white; but only 15% have had English names.

So have the English speaking South Africans been the sacrificial lambs?

(Someone once said: There are 3 great untruths: Lies, damn lies and statistics)

I believe there is a simple 3 step solution, which will bring about equanimity in rugby, satisfy politicians, generate increased player registration and make many people happy.

It lies in the hands of those that love rugby and their country.

It could spread to the rest of the country and actually deliver the Rainbow Nation so wonderfully projected by Madiba.

First of all: change the National Anthem quickly – the disproportionate  volume when the Afrikaans bit is sung is like a kick in the goolies for the new South Africa.

Secondly: Every rugby fan should take a person of a different colour to rugby matches for a year; families go with families …..

Thirdly: Have a braai together after each game –Biltong, boerewors en blatjang  will save the game and the country !

sa-flagSimple in concept: everyone subordinates their historical differences to seek a common goal.

Max Du Preez can take Hlaudi Motsoenong, Julius Malema can take Kallie Kriel and Mmusi Maimane can take the Guptas perhaps. If those guys can do it, anyone can.