Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rain rain don't go away. Please come again another day.

One of fifteen planes damaged after Monday's hailstorm. Picture: EAA South Africa
image source

Yay! It has been raining for the past two nights. Thank you Lord Jesus you are truly magnificent and a blessing to all of us, the good and the bad. Over the past two nights we have received 24mm here in Mid Rand where I'm currently staying. Thunder and frightening in abundance just to get Archibald to melt down, very funny in some respects but sad for him. My heart goes out to you my little boy.
There were a few incidents of severe damage from hail in certain areas, notably Pretoria north where the hail stones were the size of oranges but also in the east of Gauteng (Springs) where an aircraft hanger collapsed on top of a whole lot of planes and also in the south where a filling station roof collapsed on top of cars sheltering from the hail. No injuries reported so far.
There were a lot of prayers for rain over the past few weeks and of course we all know that prayer doesn't work (tongue in cheek). Well there we go, for all those who call themselves "Atheists", boohoo for you.
I'm not sure how you feel about people on the net who continually mock those who do believe in God but as for me, I'm a believer. I've had so many things happen to and around me that defy any other explanation other than the existence of a loving and faithful God that I no longer have any doubt.
Anyway, thank you Lord for the rain, it is appreciated.
Love to all, Geoff.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Times of drought and strength.

Hello everyone, sorry about the long delay between posts.
As you all already know I'm unemployed at the moment so each time I want to check my e-mails or post on Blogger I have to make a sacrifice with regards to data which is extremely expensive in this country, in fact one of the most expensive data networks in the world. At the moment I'm having to be very frugal with every cent I have available to me. Anyway, enough about that.
We are currently undergoing severe drought here aggravated by aging under maintained water infrastructure. How about that, running a country takes a bit more than self enrichment. Roads need to be maintained, electricity supply needs more than just switching things on and of course water pipes and dams need repair and replacement. Come on guys, we are relying on you to do what we voted you in to do.
Recently I got a small job to install two 3500 liter rainwater storage tanks here in Mid Rand. It was fun but also a lot of work done in very high daily temperatures. On Thursday I worked outside for about 5 hours and landed up with heat exhaustion, very unpleasant indeed, dizziness, inability to think straight and weakness in the extreme. I got over it by the next morning but also took more precautions while working, like wearing a hat and drinking more water and eating salty things. It's funny how I didn't realize what was happening while working, it sort of crept up on me unawares. Be cautious while outside in high temperatures, it could damage your health.
I've contacted one of the tank suppliers here to go on a course about installing tanks. This seems to be an opportunity to make some money as people are suddenly talking a lot about Rainwater Harvesting. As I live on a small holding where we use Borehole water as opposed to municipal water, I've been aware of water harvesting for a long time now and we have a number of tanks here for that very purpose. We'll see what happens but I must make some effort to find a source of income.  
With regards to what happened in Paris on Friday Evening all I can say is; May God give you healing and comfort in your time of grief. He's comforted me always when I've been struggling and I've always come through.
To everyone else I ask for God's guiding hand in your lives and may he bless you and keep you under his wing in safety and love, Geoff.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Retrenchment and what that means.

Hello everyone, sorry about the long delay between posts. This post has something to do with that.
So, I've been retrenched, what now. This is the thing that has been rolling around in my head for a couple of months now and getting over it has been trying, to say the least. I've recently noticed the number of companies, worldwide, who have been doing this to their employees and it's staggering. I do understand that, in the current economic environment, prices are being driven lower by customers who are not as faithful as one would desire and companies have to reduce costs to remain competitive, this makes sense but to what end.
In South Africa the number of unemployed people desperately trying to survive is staggering, I'm one of those. I think the figure is currently about 5.5 million. That is, five and a half million people of the eligible working population who have no income, no way to create savings, no way to prepare for their retirement, no way to pay for services, no way to positively impact the economy of the country. And that's just here in South Africa. I recently heard about Air France employees who were slated for retrenchment attacking their directors and ripping their shirts off their backs, kind of exactly what these directors were doing to them and their dependents wouldn't you say. Their violence erupted after the management announced a job cut of some 2900 employees and a 10% reduction in long distance flights. When people are without income, no matter what they do, they are no better off than slaves who do not put money back into the countries economy, probably one of the motivations behind the global demise of the slave industry, the banks weren't making money off them.
Enough about figures and statistics. I want to tell you what has happened to my sense of self worth since I lost my source of income and who has been affected by it.
My earnings before I lost my job were about $520.00 for a 7 day week, that's about $74.00 a day, which isn't too bad in this country. But this of course isn't the average for South Africa, there are those who earn far in excess of this and those who earn far less, I just happen to have 40 years experience under my belt and an ability to lead others that stands me in good stead. Over the 27 odd years of working in the film industry as a freelancer with uncertain income stability, I've learned to be very frugal with any money I do have coming in so as to have something for the lean times. I've had more than 25 years dealing with this so have been at an advantage for some time now. Add to that the fact that I have only myself and my animals to take care of with no debt or credit cards and you can see how much of an advantage I do have over the average citizen who has children, a wife, parents who depend on him a mortgage, credit card debt and so on. There is also another advantage I have over others in that I have absolute faith in  God and his son Jesus, not everyone believes in them. They will in due course though, just give it a while without food and resources and they will come around and start praying, it happens to be one of God's greatest attractions, when in trouble people do turn to God for help even if they won't do so in the beginning or when things are going comfortably well.
Anyway, what  I've struggled with the most has been my self confidence, bad thoughts about my own worthiness as an employee have caused me a lot of distress. My ability to be of service, not only to man but to God himself, has restricted my interaction with just about everyone including God and Jesus. I know that I'm a very capable person in just about everything and that Jesus does indeed care about me but that has not stopped me from sinking into a mire of self doubt. That is why I have to depend on the love of God to pull me up out of this state at some time or other.
Depending on Shelley to help me with things like food and rent is also soul destroying, she has her own expenses and having now to provide for me is very taxing on her limited resources, this I know. The rest of the family don't help much financially but my sister Toni does provide encouragement in large doses although she too isn't working and without financial resources.
I do place advertisements for my services on the internet, which are almost free, all I have to pay for is the data I use placing the ad and going back to it on a daily basis to check up on any replies. Data here, by the way is expensive, I had to buy R95.00 worth of data yesterday to publish this post and place an ad. It'll last for a day or two, not quite sure how long though. To give you an idea of what I had for dinner last night, (This post is for those who retrench others without caring about the hardship visited on them) I cooked up a pot of "packet" soup (powdered wheat flour concentrate with a few flavor-ants and preservatives) and had two slices of brown bread. Am I complaining about this? No, not at all. I had dinner last night and my animals were fed. I have a roof over my head with electric lights and running water on tap, but then I am the exception. What do you think my wife and children, which I fortunately do not have, would think of such a meager meal, not much I would imagine.
image source

So, before you retrench a whole bunch of employees, please think of how you would be compromised should the same thing be done to you. Jesus tells us to do unto others as we would have done unto us. You, as the retrencher, may not believe in God or his son Jesus but I can assure that what He says makes perfect sense. As a retrenchee I know but am in a better position purely because of my experience as a freelance worker.
May God bless the employers of the world, whether they believe in him or not, for the sake of all those who depend on them for their daily bread. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spring is sprung

Winter is coming, well it is for the northern hemisphere. Here, in the southern hemisphere, spring is on it's way and is noticeable in the strangest of places. For the past few months I've been concerned with the feeding habits of my fish (Malawi Cichlids.) Usually they would come up to the top of the tank in anticipation of being fed which was quite a free for all, however through the winter months they were strangely reticent. I noticed it but didn't link this strange behavior to the seasons at all, I was just worried about them. Now the water temperature didn't drop over winter, I have a heater/thermostat in the tank that takes excellent care of that, the light hasn't changed because of the overhead lighting system. There didn't seem to be any reason for this strange reluctance on their part.That all change two weeks ago. Suddenly my fish seemed to perk up and started looking forward to breakfast and dinner again. I noticed it immediately but was at a bit of a loss as to why, happy but curious.
Last night, while feeding my now eager fish, I got to thinking about it. I have noticed that the temperatures have started to rise, I'm not using my electric blanket on high any more but now only use it to warm up the bed. This, of course, wouldn't affect the tank water temperature nor would the earlier light affect their perception to the degree that it has done so. During winter, even if I only fed them at ten in the morning, long after sunrise, they wouldn't change their new behavior pattern.
The only conclusion I can come to is that these fish in a stable environment are, in their genetic make-up affected by the seasonal changes that we have to deal with in our own unregulated environment. During winter, in the wild, food sources are generally slimmer than in summer or any of the other warmer months, that's why there are so many hatch-lings in spring. This makes sense to me, God works that way, less food available, less activity and less energy expenditure. It's a survival thing as far as I can tell.
 I would love to know what you think, is this possible or am I just being ridiculous?
Leave a comment.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Geoff's African Safari conclusion

Finally getting to write this post. Writing about an amazing trip can be quite difficult when there is so much other stuff going on, but you probably know that anyway. Yesterday I spent with Toni going through my photographs of Klaserie so I could publish them on my blog, we did some Photoshop work on them so I could highlight what I wanted to show you.
Each day there was a certain pattern to our game viewing, in the morning we would go for a game drive, usually to the dam, to see what showed itself. This was done in the Land Rover, an old open top vehicle with very bad shocks, but definitely worth it's weight in entertainment. We'd all pile in at about 7.30 and off we'd go. Morning game drives would not be very long because someone had to get back to the camp to cook breakfast, game at that time of the morning was also rather scarce so it wasn't too interesting.
On one morning we came across a herd of Buffaloes crossing the road right in front of us.These creatures are relatively peaceful and stood around not being too freaked by the "Tourists." I managed to get quite a few shots until we heard gun shots, That really spooked them. They didn't attack us but were a lot more skittish after the shots so we started the Landy and headed off back to camp for breakfast.
After breakfast we'd either head off to the River Lodge or just play games at the camp, things like table tennis or pool or cards. In the afternoon we'd go for another Game Drive to other dams and on other trails to see what was visible. Even though it's winter here and the bush is thin, spotting game along the way is rather difficult, to say the least. Please keep in mind that this area isn't the great Serengeti in Kenya but the Lowveld in South Africa. Here we don't have great open plains with herds of migrating Wildebeest and Springbok. Here the landscape is bushveld, scrub and trees as you would know it. In winter the undergrowth dies down and the areas between the trees becomes a little sparser allowing you to spot the game a little easier but just a little.
a pair of Steenbokkies
Apparently summer brings a completely different game viewing experience, you see nothing but huge grasses and bushes so dense it's not worth going then. Winter is definitely the time to visit. We, I must tell you, didn't have trackers with us, nor did we have bus loads of tourists. This is a private game reserve with very few other people around, much better.
The afternoon game drives tended to be a little longer than the morning ones extending till after sunset. We were able to see the nocturnal creatures coming out like African wild cats (which look remarkably like domestic cats but will tear you to shreds should you corner one,) Honey Badgers, the most fearsome of Africa's animals, even lions give them a wide berth because they are known for aggression. Heyhenas come out at night too as do Leopards and Lions. We never did see any Leopards nor lions, which is a pity, but we did see quite a few Heyhenas, wild cats, and even a pair of Honey Badgers.
Elephants, Giraffes, Antelope, Buffaloes,Warthogs and Baboons we saw lots of. When I say lots I don't mean huge herds but a number together at any sighting. I think one herd of elephants had about twenty members ranging from little babies to dad. The journey of giraffes we saw at the river lodge must have also comprised about twenty members also of all ages. We did see a few Stripey donkeys, which normally hang out with the Antelopes, but not that many and always on their own, which is unusual.

Evenings were spent under the most amazingly clear skies with so many stars visible. We would sit around the fire telling stories and laughing together. Lots of wine was available, and as far as I could tell, everyone enjoyed their whole experience. Bedtime was about 11 at might with a leisurely morning rising and coffee before setting out for the game drive.
I had a great time with a most amazing family.

Thanks to everyone and to my God.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Geoff's African Safari, the journey there.

sunrise on the road

I'm going to have to make this a five part series of posts about my trip to the Kruger National Park. There is a lot to write about and, as you probably know, I love being in the wild, especially where there are lots of animals.
We left the farm at 5.15 in the morning intending to stop along the way for breakfast. Taking pictures while traveling in dark conditions isn't exactly easy, long exposure with lots of jiggling and joggling, but I did manage to get a shot or two of the sunrise. I had every intention of writing about the whole trip so knew each step of the five hour journey was going to have to be photographed. Shelley was in the back of the car catching up on a few zzz's, she'd only gotten back to the farm after ten the previous evening having been to lectures after work. She's studying for her through Unisa, an internationally recognized distance learning institute here in South Africa
After 270 kilometers we arrived at a little town by the name of Dullstroom. This is where we decided to stop for a bite to eat and a little souvenir shopping.  You must understand that this is a major tourist rout from the Kruger Park and there are lots of quaint little restaurants and knickknack shops on either side of the main road. We first went into Dullstroom Art, Craft and Accommodation to see what there was of interest.
Shelley shopping
It was very cold that early in the morning and the shop interior was a bit too dark for decent photography. While Jason and Shelley browsed I went outside to take a few pictures of the town. Fascinating place actually, rich in history and antiquities. The buildings only stretch back a few hundred meters on either side along the road. It makes such a difference to see churches and Godliness in these small rural towns, definitely something Johannesburg is lacking, well in my opinion anyway.
There is a monument there that has been erected to thank God for answered pray during the Battle of Blood river that took place in the early 1800's. It reads, "The promise of 1838.The Voortrekkers, with the victory at Bloodriver.
Here we stand before the Holy God of heaven and earth to pledge a promise to him that if He will protect us and deliver our enemy over to us, we will this day and this date every year dedicate it to be a Sabbath and build a house for him.......... and so on and so on . I'm not going to translate the whole thing. They did build a house for God there.
After a bit of wandering around we eventually settled for a breakfast and coffee at Harries Pancakes a spot that both Shelley and Jason had visited before. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the dishes we ordered, we were all very hungry by that stage so, after a prayer to say thank you to God, we tucked straight in. We were there for about an hour and then hit the road again. We were still in the High Veld and since this is a Summer rainfall area everything was dry with brown grasses and leafless trees. Our journey necessitated traveling through quiet towns, a pass and then the J.G.Strijdom tunnel to the Low veld.
After a couple of toilet stops on the way we eventually arrived at the Klaserie Private nature Reserve turnoff six and a half hours later. It would still be another fifteen minutes of dust roads before we reached the camp site we would be staying at, Xihututu, an African name for Leadwood trees. The reason, in my opinion for the rather descriptive name, comes from the weight of this wood, it really is very heavy. There are a number of privately owned camps in Klaserie Nature reserve that have been joined to the Kruger National Park with all fences removed to facilitate the free movement of game throughout the area. The Pappin family, with whom we would be staying, own an area of about 300 square hectares with two lodge areas, the Bush camp, where we would be staying and the River lodge.
I, of course, jumped out of the car with my camera and got busy looking around and exploring the place as soon as we arrived. It was not quite what I had expected, way more "up market" and much better, a delight to behold. We were the first to arrive and unpacked the car in no time. A couple of hours later we got a call from the River Lodge to say there were animals at the river and we must come down there so off we went in the Land Rover. The two lodges are not far apart but it is definitely not safe to be on foot in the reserve.
A herd of more than twenty elephant.
A whole herd of Elephants was waiting for us with Cape Buffaloes and a number of other lesser buck such as Antelope and Rooibok, Impala in English. What a delight. This is still on the first day only hours after we ad arrived. A lot of people visit this reserve and go for days without seeing any elephant at all, we were indeed blessed. Shelley and I, as the "Nuwelinge" Newbies, were introduced to Ros, the owner of this little piece of paradise, and Granny.
Granny and Ros preparing snacks at the River Lodge.
Some of the other guests were arriving by this stage but we would only reach a full compliment of 16+1baby some time the next day.
We stayed at the River Lodge, which is built fairly high up in the curve of the river offering magnificent views of a long stretch of the river, for quite a few hours with the Elephants and buck hanging around too. This is when I became aware of the limitations of my 200 mm lens, definitely too small. Oh well, time to buy a bigger lens, maybe a 400 mm.
We were still going on a "Game Drive" that afternoon and I still had to make supper which would take a couple of hours at least.
This has already become a long blog post so I'm going to wrap it up for now. I'll post again tomorrow with lots of  pictures of animals.
I do realize that posting pictures of the animals here on my blog does pose a threat to them but since I'm not going to post GPS co-ordinates and so on, I'm hoping everyone will respect the severity of the danger to this little corner of paradise.
This particular section of the Kruger National Park is only open to invited guests and is not on the main Tourist route, no buses and not many vehicles.
Blessings to everyone from a very happy Geoff back on the farm in Mid Rand, Geoff.