Karoo Kindness

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 8 October 2013: 7 years 1 month on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

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After having spoken to Caltex Eastern Cape at Mpkweni last month, I was approached by Caltex dealer Pierre le Grange to do another talk.

It didn’t take much persuasion because it would be in Graaff-Reinet to the Grade 12 pupils of Union High School.

So all was organised for last Friday 4 October at 9h30. Because of the early start, a lift was organised for Thursday afternoon and I was not able to attend Gordon Wright’s book launch at the Southender or Pera’s birthday supper!

Tiaan van Schoor picked me up at 13h30 and either he or I spoke too much or we drove too fast, but it didn’t take long before we were driving past that derelict drive-in screen and projection room that stand as a monument to things long past at the Port Elizabeth entrance to Graaff-Reinet.

Tiaan was to be my driver and handlanger for the next two days. Not only did we have lots to talk about (we both lived and worked in the Bible Belt of the United States!) but we also share a birthday! It was great having a tetchier to handle all the electronics, wires, computers, projectors etc.

Thursday evening was spent around the most delicious potjie with the Le Grange’s and the Van Schoors (Tiaan’s parents). In the process, the talk to Union had been extended to include jut another talk to Volksskool and then also the Junior Volkskool … and how about the Hospice Walk on Saturday morning, too?

I am humbled to share my story with so many people and to raise awareness about neurological and other life-limiting illnesses. I hope my ad lib Afrikaans translations and on the trot lowering of the level of the talk for the grade 7’s were understood by all!

My message is simple – life is great but it’s hard work. Take what it throws at you – turn the bad into good, focus on the good and never give up!

My thanks to the heads of the three schools for allowing me the time to speak, and to Mr William Pringle of Union High for the Union tie – I shall wear it with pride in remembrance of my happy days in Graaff-Reinet and the Karoo kindness that I am so privileged to experience. My illness provides me with so many good things that there is almost no time to consider the bad.

Even the tiredness (yes, ED is in tired) after three talks can be overcome with another braai on Friday evening (just a quiet braai with the Wrights neighbours that turned into Russian Roulette!) And when Justin Kingwell took me home at midnight I couldn’t find the Le Grange’s home and we drove up and down the streets of Graafies pushing my remote button to see where a gate opened!

Some twenty ladies were walking (in stages) 60 km from Graaff-Reinet to Nieu Bethesda over the weekend. The event was a fundraiser for GR Hospice.

When Pierre asked me to start the Hospice fundraiser walk on Saturday morning with a message, I eagerly agreed until I was told that the start was at 5h00! I declined the offer, but Pierre in his quietly persuasive manner then suggested that I talk at the start of the second stage!

So at 9h00 we were out in the Karoo countryside at the foothills of Kompasberg having breakfast and some nursing already sore feet! What an awesome privilege to be surrounded by the plains and mountains of the Karoo and to share the words of a man we know only as David:

Oh Lord My Lord

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,  The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

Then back to town; transfer to the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse of the Wrights and lunch with the Harris’s, cricket at the Union (Bethesda Road vs Middleburg) towed down at the fines meeting with a rather unique dishcloth invention!, rugby test (SA vs NZ All Blacks) on the TV, and all completed with a steak and fish grill at the Union.

Phew … night three and not the end of it yet!

On Sunday morning I left GR with Justin and Liesl Kingwell and little Joshua for Blaauwater Farm at the base of the Lootsberg north of the town.

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Upon arrival, Justin did a quick midwifery trick on a pregnant ewe in labour and in trouble and, voila, then there were four! It was amazing to witness the birth of those triplets, within minutes they were up and walking and cleaned and fed by their mom. Nature at its best – the work of Your fingers.

Then roast for lunch, bed for snooze and transport for travel to top of mountain. A spectacular trip and a spectacular view – the work of Your fingers. What a privilege for me to share it with the Kingwell family and Grandma Garry and Grandpa Charles Kingwell who joined us for a picnic in the Peaks.

The day was ended with a fireside chat, a hearty Hansa, delicious billies, tired bodies and drooping eyelids!

I woke up on Monday morning to deadly silence interspersed with bleating sheep.

Then breakfast and back to town to the guesthouse and Gordon Wright. I took a mid-morning snooze and later a mid-afternoon snooze! A walk to town resulted in me bumping into Annemarie van Jaarsveld from Pink Trees for Pauline fame, Margie Parkes from the Cancer Association (I addressed them last year this time!) and my ex- Port Elizabeth neighbour Andy Cherrington who now owns the GR Spur.

There was time for a quick John Lee before I had a call from Nibs Price to say he was going to Port Elizabeth at 18h00 ( I was due to return on Tuesday morning early with a lift.)

My bed beckoned!

A quick pack and I was ready for the trip home – arriving at some eight thirty, just in time to go to bed for a well earned night’s sleep!

My grateful thanks to all the people mentioned above (and many others not mentioned!) for making this such a wonderful weekend. Your Karoo kindness is so much appreciated.

I am truly blessed to know you all and to experience your wonderful hospitality.

What is man that You are mindful of him?

PS. Please excuse the errors. My bum is eina and I can’t sit to type this now. I will correct later!

 

 

Fork the Veld

  ©2013 Edward C. Lunnon Sunday 15 September 2013: 7 years on … Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED It’s been quite a week – the week that was! On Wednesday evening I attended the St Francis Hospice AGM. If ever there was a group of caring people, there they are. If ever there was a group of deserving people, there they are. If ever there was an association that you, one day, may also need to assist you, there they are. They assist families and patients who have to deal with life limiting illnesses – cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB, motor neuron disease …If ever there was a group that needed your financial assistance, there they are. They have had to retrench staff members this year because of a lack of funds! For just R100 a year you can become a member of St Francis Hospice. This entitles you to voting rights, a newsletter, news on forthcoming fundraisers and a chance to win R2000! An email to kerry@stfrancishospice.za.org with your personal details and an EFT deposit of R100 into St Francis Hospice, Standard Bank Rink St, account no 080 260 349, branch no 050 417 00 will make you a member of the Hospice. It’s so easy – just do it now – and HELP HOSPICE HELP me and so many other people who have terminal illnesses. Thanks so much for doing that now! On Thursday evening Pera and I attended the Grey Junior “Music the Grey Way” concert. The concert was great but the seats we had were terrible. Initially we couldn’t see much, so we changed seats at half-time. Then I was boxed in and my leg started cramping. It was the most uncomfortable three hours that I have spent and I think I aggravated my left side. Since then, I have been really eina! I need to remember to ensure when we go somewhere that I have to be very specific about the seats we sit in or the rooms we book. That’s a new learning curve for me! And Friday morning I was off to Graaff-Reinet to the launch of Gordon Wright’s first recipe book – Veld to Fork.  (See all my previous blogs regarding Gordon Wright. You can just enter Wright into the search box – the one with the magnifying glass – in the right hand column of this blog.) Two and a half more hours of uncomfortable sitting! But I had a lift with Roche van As – Gordon refers to Roche in the foreword to his book as a “brother from another mother”! We had lots to talk about and the trip was over before it started. We arrived at about two and sat at the poolside of the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse sipping cold white wine and Windhoek Lites. Then at four we headed off to the Graaff-Reinet Men’s Club (now ladies too!). The Club was filled with all those wonderful Karoo people – some there for the weekly draw, most there for the book launch and all there to share in the friendship and hospitality that Graaff-Reinet provides. We downed the sun and were treated to snacks made from recipes in the book – each plate being numbered with the page number of the recipe in the book. Gordon Right (as the Weekend Post spelt it in their article – maybe they know more than we do!) sat as pompous as ever behind the table signing copy after copy. It must be a great feeling to see such a wonderful book finally in the printed form. Gordon wrote in my personally autographed copy – YOUR TURN NEXT!! I can’t wait for that feeling so I guess it’s time to get moving. My book doesn’t even have a name yet! Later in the evening we headed off to Gordon’s Restaurant for supper, snorts, skinder and song – ala Karoo style! So after EFTing your money to the hospice as per above, maybe you want to go to Exclusive Books and buy your copy of Veld to Fork. If you talk nicely to me, I may even get you an autographed copy. After all, I know the author personally! I was planning to come back on Sunday (with a lift organised by Gerrie van Rooyen), but when I woke up on Saturday morning, Roche was still there (he had planned to come back very early on Saturday!) My left side was very eina by now, and so I decided to come back to Port Elizabeth with him. So after breakfast at the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse – where we had slept over – we headed for home – again, so much talking, that Ravelskloof, Jansenville,Wolwefontein, Cockscomb, Holwil, Kirkwood, Uitenhage and Despatch sped by. We were back in Port Elizabeth just in time for lunch!  Unfortunately, we weren’t staying in Graaff-Reinet for the big meeting later in the week where farmers and landowners will be discussing the fracking that seems now to be inevitability in the Karoo. And if you have more money left over, after HOSPICE and COOKBOOK above, then maybe you want to donate something to the STOP FRACKING IN THE KAROO fund. If you don’t help, they are going to FORK the VELD and destroy the hospitable Plains of the Camdeboo. No more people, Club, food, hospitality, visits, chats, drinks … to write about! “If anything, we don’t own the planet and the planet doesn’t own us. The planet belongs to our children and we are merely stewards keeping watch until they have their turn to do the same.” In the meantime, I feel like I have been forked too. My left side and left hip especially remain eina, despite more anti-inflammatory tablets and pain-killers. Roll on Monday morning for my weekly massage … (And in the early hours of Sunday morning I received a BBM from Rose Wright to tell me that Gordon’s mom, Briar, fell and broke her hip and dislocated her shoulder in the middle of the night. She is currently in the operating theatre at Greenacres Hospital. We wish her a speedy and successful recovery.)            

The Shades of Grey

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Thursday 1 August 2013: 6 years 11 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It was about half past two last Friday afternoon. The odometer on my car read 88 888 km and we were just passing over the longest and largest South African river, the Orange River,  from the Northern Cape Province into the Province of the Free State.

Three provinces in a day!

In the past we have done this trip by train (see my previous blogs) but now the South African railways have become non (dys?)-functional and they are unable to supply rolling stock. It’s such a sorry sight to see so many worn-out carriages parked along the way of hundreds of kilometres of unused and deserted and disintegrating railway tracks!  (Phill reckons his life mission is to get the trains back on track.  Steve Jobs said “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do! So go, Phill!

So, we (Pera, Phill, Brad McKenzie and I) had departed by car from Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape Province, at nine, and left behind us Uitenhage, Jansenville, Graaff-Reinet (where we had lunch at the Polka Restaurant), Middleburg, Noupoort and Coleburg.

Still to come along the N1 – our country’s major arterial route – was Springfontein, Trompsburg, Edenburg and then our destination:  Bloemfontein, the Judicial Capital City of South Africa and home of our country’s Supreme Court of Appeal. It is the third capital city of South Africa, the product of compromise when SA was formed in 1910, with the other Capital cities, of course, being Cape Town, the Legislative Capital  with its Houses of Parliament and the Administrative Capital, Pretoria (or Tshwane, as it is being called by some nowadays) with its imposing Union Buildings.

Bloemfontein is also known as the Rose City. But we weren’t here to pick flowers and flowers we certainly didn’t collect!

The purpose of our trip was rugby: Grey High from PE versus Grey College from Bloem and Phillip’s last school away game for Tommo’s mighty Thirds. It would also be the end our school boy sporting trips – first Sean’s rugby and cricket career and then Phillip’s rugby, cricket and waterpolo career now also drawing to a close.

So this was a rather nostalgic trip for all of us. One which I had not really looked forward to, as I had been very busy, tired and experiencing a bit of pain in my left buttock and left leg. A long eight hour trip was not what the doctor ordered for me. But Phill on his learner’s licence had driven us most of the way. I took over for the last stretch into Bloem!

We arrived at our guest house, Blessings, in the suburb of Dan Pienaar (recommended by the Engelbrechts of Paarl), at about 17h00. We had got lost a few times – Bloemfontein also being a city of the modern day New South African compromise as well: renamed Nelson Mandela Drive lies next to Kenneth Kaunda Avenue lies next to Walter Sisulu Avenue lies next to Gen Dan Pienaar, Gen Hertzog, Kmdt Senekal, Unie Avenue, President Kruger – and the GPS doesn’t always know the changes!

Anyway, we were there safely! Supper was to be at the Villa Bella Casa. We would join our Pretoria friends Thomas and Marzette Moolman who were sleeping over in Bloem on their way home from a holiday in the Eastern Cape. They had visited us earlier in the week from Port Alfred and Marzette had left her diary next to the bed when they had left last Thursday. So we arranged to meet in Bloem to return the diary!

Well, a good supper later and some great company and red wine, and the diary has come back with us to Port Elizabeth!

Because the First Team game was being televised, Phill’s Third Team game was brought forward to seven o’clock on Saturday morning! So it was a very early start for us – and a very cold start! The temperature was about 4 degrees C and my picture of a scrum has the moon in the background and the frost at our feet! Every picture tells a story …

Phill’s  3rd team loss with a deficit of about 50 points was about the average tale of the day with scores coming in from about 120 high to only one Grey Port Elizabeth team (the u14B!) clocking up a narrow win!  He also played in the second half of the 2nd team as the injury count went higher and higher. The hardness of the ground and the hardness of the opposition do not seem to go well with our Port Elizabeth sons! Yet, we return second year after second year (of course, they visit us at the coast every other year) to be taught a severe lesson in rugby playing!

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In the First Team game we also witnessed that horrific accident to Martin Groenewald when he broke both the tibia and fibula in his leg. It sounded like a gunshot going off and put a damper on the rest of the play. Unfortunately, once again (and never ever) were we able to beat Grey Bloem 1st team in Bloemfontein.

Our thoughts, prayers and good wishes accompany Martin (who lives with Phillip in the Grey hostel) on his long road to full recovery. The operation which he underwent on Saturday evening was successful and as I write this, he has now arrived back at his home in Humansdorp. It takes the worst in Life to bring out the best in mankind, and once again, we have witnessed the outpouring of the kindness of friends and strangers who have offered their assistance to the family in so many different ways.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon socialising at the Bloemfontein Old Grey Clubhouse, had a quick zizz at Blessings, and then went for supper at the Block and Cellar. It looked like Port Elizabeth was empty because there were so many Algoa Bay locals having supper there on Saturday evening.  It’s always fun socialising with other parents in this way and maybe one of the reasons why we do these trips so willingly and eagerly. They surely will be missed by us and will become part of the memory box of our strange journey through this trip that we call Life!

Our return journey started at nine on Sunday – retracing our steps back the way we had come; except this time we stopped for lunch and petrol at the Steers in Colesburg (full tank used up – literally and figuratively – to Bloemfontein, and three quarters of a tank used down to Pe!). We arrived back in Port Elizabeth at about five, safe and sound, worn-out and weary, and nostalgic about never having to do this school trip again.

The shadows of Life get longer, and the Shades of Grey get darker. 

 

No Turkey at this Thanksgiving

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 10 June 2013: 6 years 9 months on …

Game: ED

Yes, we had no turkey!

But we did have Karoo mutton and lamb and chicken and eggs and chops and pizzas and red wine and Guiness and Castles and …. in fact, we had far too much.

However, this is Karoo hospitality and whilst we had too much to eat and drink, one can never complain about the Karoo hospitality that one experiences when visiting Graaff-Reinet! There is so much of it that one must be careful not to drown in it.

So this weekend resulted in a very unplanned and hurried visit to Graaff-Reinet. We haven’t been for a while, so it was great seeing the Karoo Clan – the Harris’s and their whole netball team of daughters (thanks for putting us up and for putting up with us!), the Wrights, the Bouwers, the Prices, the Beaumonts, Pieter and the guys at The Graaff-Reinet Club, the people at Polka, etc etc …. And apologies if I have not mentioned your name! (Please add it in a comment below and I will rectify my omissions!)

The reason for our hurried trip was indeed a thanksgiving: to give thanks for the life of Richard Clarke who died in the most bizarre set of circumstances on the national road between Graaff-Reinet and Aberdeen last week.

I first met Richard “online” when he started commenting on the blogs that I had written about fracking in the Karoo. Then, one day, we met face to face at that rather hospitable Graaff-Reinet (Mens?) Club where there always seems to be a reason for saying thanks and for saying “Cheers”!

Richard and I discussed numerous issues – he liked that and so did I, and sometimes it was necessary to have just another ale in order to cool down the intense debate!

And whether we met at the Club or on the street of Graaff-Reinet, there was always that blue-eyed smile and those deep words of discussion!

It was only later that I “discovered” that Richard was my radio interviewer, Lance du Plessis’s, cousin.

So it came as a shock last Wednesday, just as we were about to go on air, that Lance informed me of Richard’s death.

My sincere sympathy and condolences go to all his family and friends.

I shall miss his sharp intellect, his fine debating skills and that blue-eyed smile. I shall have another reason to drink an extra Guiness when next I visit the Graaff-Reinet Club.

Despite the sad circumstances of this visit, it was really great being back in the Karoo and seeing you all. And it was great to experience the drop in temperature from 22 to -2! (just a little exaggeration!)

A little of Richard’s writing:

SWEET TORQUE

People supporting fracking Shell for jobs should beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I attended the meeting on fracking at the Graaff-Reinet Town Hall on Thursday 18 April and I did not hear anything new from Shell. It is almost two years ago that there was a massive meeting at the same spot and Shell still have no answers to the questions about water and about jobs.
There are no guarantees about jobs or water. There is no certainty that there will be jobs and no certainty that the water is safe and won’t be contaminated by chemicals used in the drilling process.
Shell SA is a part of Royal Dutch Shell which as a Multi-National Corporation is there to make money, otherwise it does not exist. Shell is not terribly worried about whether people in the Karoo get jobs or whether they can continue to drink their water.
There is shale gas in the Karoo and that can be turned in to money. This is the bottom line in any calculation or analysis by Shell. The same arrogance and even contempt for the Karoo locals was on display yet again as we were told that people concerned about chemicals are being “emotional”.
At question time this lack of respect was shown in the contempt with which one of the Shell delegation fobbed off a question around the recent article in the National Geographic about the ever present dangers in mining and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The presentation itself has not altered much in two years and Shell simply speak of job possibilities in the “multiple 1000’s” like a lottery which of course means that they are not sure and don’t want to be caught out.
The local community has become split over fracking with some irresponsible people encouraging the split along racial lines with whiteys anti because they don’t need jobs and blacks pro because they want jobs.
This is simplistic and done purely for political gain. The reality is that both of the groups should be together pressurising Shell to come clean on these issues of jobs and water.
There is no guarantee that there will be jobs and no guarantee that the groundwater will survive this Shell onslaught.
We have an elected government in this country whose job it is to protect the citizens of South Africa against this kind of invasion by a Multi-National Corporation that is richer than many countries.
An elected government that should controlling and monitoring the process by which rights to mine are granted. Controlling and monitoring the process that Shell seems to running on its own.
Shell at this meeting looked like a player in the game and the referee as well.
There is still a long way to go in this fight and people that support Shell and fracking because they believe it will bring jobs should beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 richard

RIP Richard Clarke

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PS >>>>> Happy birthday John!

From Polo to Golf

Tuesday 12 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Deuce

This is an abbreviated blog of the last week:

Wed 6 Feb: AlgoaFM with Briony; Meeting with accountant; Sabet (Dr Brown) Dentist; Sean (drink at Old Grey Club)

Thu 7 Feb: Admin with Nadine / Graeme Harris visit from Graaff-Reinet / Hydrotherapy / Visit from Isaac / Jester Trip into Algoa Bay with Ashley and Bev

Fri 8 Feb (my 6th anniversary of diagnosis): Rodriguez Lookalike concert at Old Grey

Sat 9 Feb: Trip to Graaff-Reinet – hail storm 50km out of GR!!! Car turned from Polo to Golf ball with dents … ten minutes of hell …

Sun 10 Feb: Flash floods at home in PE: 40mm in 30 minutes ?

Sat till Wed 13: With Gordon and Rose Wright in Graaff-Reinet

 

 

It’s Raining Pink Trees in Graaff-Reinet

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Pink Trees for Pauline and

www.graaffreinet.co.za

Pink Trees for Pauline Day Friday 19 October 2012

See pics here