Dad’s Birthday, Visiting Mom, Dingo, Monkeys.

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Yesterday would have been my dad’s 92nd birthday. He’s been gone now for almost nine years. The only thing he cared about at the end, was that mom would always be looked after when he wasn’t around anymore. A few Christmas’s ago, my sister painted this portrait from a wartime photo, of dad in his sailor’s uniform. It now hangs on mom’s wall at the care home.

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When I arrived to see her today, she was lying on her bed, looking so cosy and warm under her mohair blanket. I kissed her forehead, but she didn’t open her eyes, so I just sat there for a while, looking at her face and feeling so much love for this wonderful mom of mine. I started talking to her about all the fun holidays and outings to the seaside we’d had as kids, and gradually, she came to and smiled at me. “Picnics,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye. Suddenly that one word, brought memories flooding back to me of my mom, young and fit, busily making delicious sandwiches, boiling eggs, buttering homemade scones and packing the picnic hamper with goodies, plus flasks of tea and bottles of cold drink. On a Sunday afternoon, we would all pile into dad’s car, and off we would go to some unknown destination. As children, we didn’t really care where we went, as long as there was a picnic at the end of the journey. Sometimes we’d go to a stately home in the country, and sit on blankets on the lawns, enjoying our sumptuous fare. My sister and I would then go off exploring, whilst our parents had a well-earned snooze in the sunshine. When travelling to the seaside, we’d usually stop in a lay-by for some refreshment. Out would come the picnic table and folding chairs, and whilst the traffic whizzed past us at frighteningly close quarters, we would munch on cheese sandwiches and rock cakes. There was no such thing as fast food outlets along the highways in those days. If you didn’t take it with you, you just didn’t get to eat.

Mom’s memory is fading so much these days, but with little prompts from me, she was able to recall people and incidents from our past, and seemed to really enjoy the tales I related to her. It was a very precious half hour. My sister then arrived with her dog, Dingo, and that really perked mom up. She was soon up and out of bed and sitting out on the verandah in the sunshine. Dingo was delighted with all the fuss she was making of him. Just look at the soppy look on his face.

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All the while we were sitting there, the monkeys were playing in the trees. There were so many of them, big ones and tiny babies too. How many can you spot? If you click on the pic, it should enlarge.

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The lady sitting next to mom, said that they are a wonderful source of entertainment for all the residents at the care home. Much better than TV, that’s for sure.

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This was my Saturday morning in six words. How was yours?

 

 

Feathers on Friday: Roseate Spoonbill and Mottled Duck

Charlotte of ‘Prairie Birder’ blog, has a weekly challenge called ‘Feathers on Friday’. I’ve never done this challenge before, but just found this Roseate Spoonbill pic in my file. I hope you enjoy.

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If you have any feathered friend pics to share, just follow this link.

Wishing you all a splendid weekend.

Sylvia

Thursday’s Windows #22: The Pink and Blue Church in Costa Rica.

Every Thursday, Dawn of ‘The Day After’ blog, hosts the  ‘Lingering Look at Windows’ challenge. As I posted about the beautiful topiary gardens in Zarcero a few days ago, I decided to show you the windows of the pretty little Iglesia de San Rafael church, which stands just above the Parque Francisco Alvarado. The outside of the church looks to be of brick construction, but is actually made from metal siding.

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It was built in 1895, and the stunningly beautiful interior, was painted by Misael Solis, a local, self-taught artist.

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The stately columns which line the inside of the church, are painted to look like marble.

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The many stained glass windows are so colourful and truly lovely.

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Unlike most European churches, these windows are quite plain, with no pictures on them, just gorgeous, luminous coloured glass.

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It was a sheer delight to wander around this exquisitely decorated place of worship.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Thursday’s windows. To see more entries, just pop over to Dawn’s blog.

 

 

 

WPC: Twisted branches and seedpods

At the weekend, we walked down the drive to the steps just above our beach here in Umhlanga. It was a really hot day, so we sat on one of the benches in the shade. Looking up through the tree’s I spotted this bare twisty branch, and decided that it would do perfectly for this week’s WPC.

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It wasn’t just this branch that was twisty. The whole dead tree was the same.

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Looking across at a live tree, I noticed how twisty those branches were too.

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On the way back to our house, the twisty seed pods on this palm tree caught my eye. I think it’s a Fan Palm. Do any of you know if I’m correct.

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To see more entries for this week’s WPC, just click on the badge below.

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Today is my sister’s birthday, so this evening, we’ll be off up the hill to attend her dinner party. Brother-in-Law is doing the cooking, and I believe that he’s bought a decadent gateau for dessert, so I don’t even have to make one this time. Yay!!

Oceans apart in distance and age.

Today is my dear mom’s 89th birthday in South Africa, and it’s also my granddaughter Taylor’s 5th birthday in New Jersey. We celebrated both of these auspicious occasions of course, and went to see mom in the care home. She was sleeping when we arrived, but soon perked up when she saw her lovely chocolate cake that my sister had made for her to share with all the residents and staff, and the flowers, cards and presents which we’d brought. When we got home, we chatted to Taylor and the rest of the family on Skype. She was so excited about her party yesterday. She even had a visit from the Sleeping Beauty Princess, (actually her cousin in a blonde wig, although I’m not sure she realised this). Here are some pics of the two birthday girls with family and friends.

It’s less than ideal when families live so far apart, but thank goodness for Skype video calls and Facebook photos. What ever would we do without them?

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Tagged “T” is for Topiary in Zarcero.

Frizztext’s Tuesday A-Z Challenge this week is ‘T’, and I remembered the topiary at the Parque Francisco Alvarado in Zarcero, Costa Rica. We were there at the end of last year, and were enchanted by the famous and whimsical topiary garden which was created in 1964 by Evangelista Blanco Brenes, who has been tending it ever since.

There are sixteen beautiful living double green arches leading through the park to the local church Iglesia de San Rafael.

 

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Here are some of the more than 100 topiaries, which include a dinosaur, an octopus, a peacock and many other weird and wonderful creatures. As you will see in my gallery,  some of them are quite abstract and even bizarre. I really felt I was being watched, as I wandered around there. (click on an image to be taken on a walk through the garden.)

The garden’s creator, Evangelista, said that it takes a whole month to get around to tending to all of his creations, and by that time, it’s time to start again at the beginning. Some of these really looked in need of the snippers. It’s an awful lot of work for one man to keep up, and he’s not young anymore. I wonder who will care for his weird and wonderful creatures when he can no longer do it himself?

To see more entries for Frizz’s challenge, just click here.

WPC: My sister’s works of art ‘To Moscow with love’.

This weeks photo challenge, ‘Work of Art’ happens to coincide with my sister Yvonne appearing on the front cover of our community lifestyle magazine here in Durban South Africa. A couple of weeks ago, she sent me an e-mail to say that she had been asked to pose with her easel and one of her paintings at a picturesque beauty spot not too far from her home. The shoot was scheduled to be at dawn. “What shall I wear? I’m going to have to get up at 3am to wash my hair and put my face on, so I look good for the cameras,” she told me. After the shoot, she said that it wouldn’t have mattered, because the way they took the photos, no-one would have been able to see the wrinkles, or whether her hair was squeaky clean anyway. The magazine came out this week, and I think she looks pretty amazing.

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She had never painted anything at all until she decided in her mid 50’s, to take up art lessons with her teacher Mark. It hardly seems credible that it’s only seven years ago since she excitedly showed us her first efforts. Before very long, it became evident that she had real talent, and in less than two years, she took second place in an art competition sponsored by Nivea, with this painting.

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Here are just a few more of her works of art. (Click on an image to enter gallery)

Last year in September, she and her art teacher were chosen to take part in an exhibition entitled ‘South Africa in Colours’, which was held in Moscow.

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Here are some of the paintings which were exhibited. These are my sister’s.

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As you can see, her favourite subjects are Africa’s wildlife and African people.

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Her teacher prefers to paint landscapes, nature and still life.

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Mark says that he’s never come across a pupil that can’t paint. Now there’s a thought to ponder. Maybe we’re all sitting on an artistic talent which is lying undiscovered.

To see more ‘Works of Art’, just click on the badge below.

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