Wednesday 15 December 2021

Crochet projects deliver joy

 I hadn't made a big, adult crochet blanket for some time but in June I decided to jump into making one as a wedding present for a dear friend. The wedding had been scheduled for early September so I had a deadline to work towards. My crochet activities this year had been somewhat sketchy (I hadn't been able to decide on 'what next') so this came at the right time for me to really jump into.

Settling on a pattern and colours is almost more of a challenge than making the blanket. I waivered between three patterns, tried one and bombed out on it and then settled on one with concentric circles. 

Of course, these 'colour-change' patterns appeal to me because of the colours and then I usually swear off them for a year until the next catches my eye. The symbolism of the circles (circle of life) and the rings are what sealed the deal. The rings can signify marriage, but I also thought of them as the rings of a tree - life, age, maturity, wisdom, and passing of time. 

The colour combination just happened and I chose the one colour - sage - before knowing that it was my friend's wedding theme colour.

The blanket progressed smoothly and I added a row every 10-15 days. I lost a week when I travelled to Jo'burg and my timeline got shaky, but a few extra hours got me back on track. I completed the blanket a week before the wedding and couriered it up to my uncle's house as I didn't have luggage allowance to take it with me on the plane. If this parcel has gone AWOL I would have been devastated. My courier delivered successfully and I picked it up when I arrived in Jo'burg.

My friend sent me a photo today with a message that reads, "We all love your blanket. It lives on our bed". Boom! A whole lot o' joy again to receive this.

For me, crochet has many rewards.

I work on projects at night while watching Netflix. It is zone-out time and by making something I can feel like series watching isn't a waste of time. I get to relax and be productive, which suits me perfectly.

The colours and patterns: there is joy to be found visually in these and seeing them come together.

Dexterity and focus: crochet is good exercise for the hands and it requires an element of focus - more with challenging patterns.

New skills: I learned a new technique to join the squares.

Making a useful gift for special people: this is the biggest appeal. It is a pleasure for me to gift a friend with something that I've made for them. Joy, joy, joy.

I trust that their love and marriage will outlive this blanket. It is the second time around for my friend and her husband. They are a good match and are good with and for each other. 

Around 64,284 crochet stitches went into this blanket and into every stitch I wove warmth and happiness and joy and love for these two special people. xxx

Monday 13 December 2021

Local hiking in the Outeniquas

 After more than a year of living in George, this weekend I finally went for some proper hiking on the trails - not that far from home - in the Outeniqua mountains that I look at every day.

Most my my activities have been 'confined' to the lower trails and I haven't ventured much into the mountains, with the exception of an up-and-down of Vensterberg a few weeks ago. This is one of the most readily accessible of the '6 Peaks'.

It my friend Erica, who came through from Cape Town, with her friend Soriaya and two other locals, Simone and Daryl. We hit two of the six peaks - Vensterberg and Losberg.

We were dropped at the Sputnik parking at the top of the Outeniqua Pass and ended up covering 26.5km in 10h20 to get back home. It was a day of excellent hiking, excellent company, good luck with the weather and many excellent plant observations for me. 

The Watsonia flowers were out in abundance with colours ranging from pink to a peachy and others with white thrown in. I was after orchids and was rewarded by seeing six different types of orchids.


We also saw many spiders - and their dew bejeweled webs. While I'm sure there were dozens of other species, I took photos of four of them.

Watsonias were out all over the place with different colour variations dominating in different locations. I enjoyed seeing them and marvelled at the abundance and eye-catching colours, but I didn't take many photos of them.

I did see some fungi. Coolest was two sightings of small, young Fan-shaped jelly fungus.

Aside from the great floral observations, this was much-needed, hiking outing with really good people.

We got lucky with the weather. Heading up Vensterberg, we got above the clouds and enjoyed blue sky and sun. We dropped back beneath the cloud and fortunately had very little rain or cold throughout the day.

Heading to the top of Vensterberg

Top of Vensterberg

Fun in the sun above the clouds.

A real blanket of cloud.

Photo by Daryl. Heading up to Losberg.

Top of Losberg
Top of Losberg. Photo by Daryl.

Clear below the cloud. That's the Montagu Pass on the far side.

We cam down that spur (you can see the trail) and then up the other side. A good dose of up and downhill.

Starting on Cradock Pass. Daryl's very sweet dog Shadow was with us. 

We walked for a section along the railway track and enjoyed going through two tunnels.

The vegetation and, in some places, cliffs along the railway track are very scenic.

After such a big day, which I haven't had in a very long time, I opted not to do George and Cradock peaks today with Erica and Soraiya. I've been too hesitant to put myself through steep downhills. I had a good day on Saturday and wasn't too worse for wear the next morning. But I figured that I'd rather stay good than load too much, too soon. A good decision. I've got friends coming here next week and the plan is that we'll do George Peak and Cradock Peak so I'll be more ready for it then.

A very good hike. A very good weekend. Onward into the week ahead and the remainder of the year.

Sunday 12 December 2021

Jennifer Strong McConachie teaches you to Go Far (book)

I met Jennifer Strong McConachie a few years ago at the Namib Desert Challenge. She was there with her dad to participate in this five-day staged ultra run. These two share a special bond, united by their love of sport, travel and willingness to give anything a try. 

Jennifer has put pen to paper to write a book about her adventures and also about how her participation in challenging events has shaped her life. Her personality is such that she doesn't do anything half hearted and I walked away after reading her book with some new ideas, different perspectives on doing things, insight into some different events out there and a whole lot of inspiration around exploring my home terrain and doing this for myself.

I had the pleasure of writing a review for Jennifer, which, I think, has turned into a forward for the book.

'Go Far: How endurance sports help you win at life' by Jennifer Strong McConachie

Jennifer has indeed ‘gone far’ through the multitude of sporting disciplines that she has embraced – from ultra-distance running to open-water swimming, mountaineering, hiking, adventure racing, multisport and self-constructed training adventures. What strikes me most is not just her preparation and participation in a diverse range of events, but the way that she whole-heartedly embraces and experiences the culture, cuisine, history and art of every destination that she visits. 

 In Go Far, Jennifer takes what she has learned through trial-and-error, considered preparation and research, and her diverse experiences to formulate a life-training approach with the three elements of An Explorers Mindset, Outlier Tactics and Immersion Theory. She embodies these practices in everything that she does. If you are a newcomer to exploring the great outdoors through sport and event participation, Go Far will open your eyes to what is out there for you to discover (activities, events, places), offer sound guidance around preparation, and steer you to getting the most out of experiences and opportunities – in life and sport. 

Seasoned athletes will appreciate a nudge from Jennifer’s insights. Single-discipline athletes may be tempted to broaden their horizons, while those who have been training and participating in events for decades will be reminded of things that they may have forgotten, neglected, or stopped doing – for whatever reason. Expect to be inspired, energised, curious, and ready to plan your next adventure after reading Go Far.

On her Facebook page, Jennifer put a lovely thank you out there, which I'm copying here so that I can save it and enjoy it again.

I want to give a huge shout out to Lisa De Speville for her advanced review of Go Far and writing a forward for the book.
Lisa is a writer, runner and adventure athlete, who has also founded several companies! We met running among the sand dunes of Namibia and she has always been an inspiration to me.
One of my favorite memories with Lisa was hearing about her participating in aerial arts at her circus school in South Africa. I knew I had to do that too someday! I love Lisa's inventiveness and creative approach to living life on her own terms. Lisa, thank you for being a fellow crazy adventure friend and for your time and feedback on Go Far!

Jennifer's author Facebook page is @JenniferStrongMcConachieAuthorPage

Her website is  

You can order a copy of Go Far through It is available as a digital or paperback version.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Building? Put in showers, not baths

 The house that I'm renting has an en suite bathroom with a really awesome shower - one of the best of my life. The shower spray comes from above, pressure is great and flow is perfect. I use it about half-way; it can blast more. The shower is located at the 'end' of the narrow bathroom so it is shaped by the back and side walls. It is 90cm wide and 115cm long, which is really roomy. It doesn't have a door - instead a curtain, which I prefer. The floor has a small lip to keep the water in, should the drain be blocked.

This bathroom doesn't have a door. This saves a ton of space. A sliding barn door would be cute, but isn't really necessary. An option could be a curtain across the doorway for privacy. This bathroom is small, space efficient and one of my best ever.

The other bathroom is a little bigger but it has a bath. A big ass, fancy, deep, large, stand-alone bath. We've been in this house for a year and only two guests have used the bath - with a few centimetres of water. We're in a water-scarce country so frolicking in a bath is a no-no. Doing so would leave one wracked with guilt - or should.

This bath really is a white elephant. They could have made the bathroom the same size as mine, given the bedroom another half meter and put in an identical shower. It would have been cheaper to put in a shower too. Instead, this bathroom is used only for the loo and basin.

A lady who I know is moving from her apartment in town to a smaller apartment in a more cost-effective suburb. It isn't quite location/township but it is located outside of the main part of town, closer to the highway and industrial area. The apartment is new and is part of a good-looking, low-cost apartment complex. Rent is a bit less than half of what she is currently paying. This new apartment, and all the others in this new development, have... baths.

You don't have to be a water management expert to know that showering - especially a five-minute or quicker shower, uses less water than an unsatisfying bath in a tub filled to a few centimetres of water. 

In a shower's favour too, you can turn on, wet yourself, turn off, soap yourself, turn on, rinse yourself and then be done. This results in huge water savings. This uses significantly less water than five minutes of constant spray. 

Interestingly, these apartments were built without geysers - not even the solar geysers commonly seen on roofs of new low-cost housing developments. She already knows that they will need to heat water to wash.

Two weeks ago, we had torrential downpours and flooding that left most of the town without water for two to three days. I boiled water in the kettle, put it into a plastic basin on the shower floor, added a few jugs of cold water and had a really decent wash. This is far easier to do on the flat, tiled floor of a shower than in a bath. 

This lady says that even in her current apartment, they don't always turn on the geyser as they watch their electricity spend. Some nights they have a wash-down using a basin of heated water and other nights they get to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower. They won't have the option of a shower at their new place.

The argument for baths is usually that one needs a tub to scrub young children and that showers and young children don't work very well. I'm not convinced that this reasoning holds any water. Young children are small enough to be able to bath in a large plastic tub. It can be filled with water from the shower hose and as you stand in the shower area, splashing put a little child into a large bath filled with a splash of water. A good-sized basin requires substantially less water to fill.

I really can't figure out why new developments are being built with baths instead of showers; this applies to the house that I am renting too. These developments are for tenants from lower income brackets. When your tenants are watching consumption and spend, a shower space where they can also wash from a tub, makes the most sense. 

And then there is the irrefutable truth that South Africa is a water-scarce country and that the days of a bathtub filled with hot, steamy water are long gone. Showers are in. For all ages.

For me, a hot shower is a marvel and an absolute luxury.  Even though I have the means to shower every day, I am very grateful for five minutes under the water. I am fortunate that I'm able to take a shower every day. Not everyone is.

Cat got your tongue?

My driver's licence card is up for renewal. I received an email from the traffic department reminding me of this and a page that outlined what I needed to take with me, by when the renewal had to be done and such.

Of course, when I arrived at the licencing department, I needed items in addition to what the form had specified.

I left to get these and returned to stand in the queue again. 

I wasn't standing there for more than 10 minutes when, thankfully, a lady from the traffic department came outside and said that the ladies ahead of me were the last customers for today that would be attended to. 

I couldn't help but ask of the young women, "Did you know about this?". They looked at me like a deer in headlights. Blinking. A guy standing behind the ladies (he wasn't with them) said they did know but maybe it was going to change.

"Why didn't you say anything?" I asked. They were mute. I left. 

You know when you go to the supermarket and the check-out lady says that you are the last? Well, if someone comes up behind me, I tell them so that they can go to another till. 

This is an example of a small act of kindness that costs a person nothing more than a few words. 

Don't let the cat get your tongue. 

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Rusty is July 2022's BCR Collindar pin-up girl

My Rusty girl features in Border Collie Rescue's 2022 calendar. 

She's the July 2022 pin-up girl in the feature photo (Rusty in a hammock - she loved it) as well as the smaller photo on the left (second from the top of the four images). 

This 'Collindar' is R120. I've got a few ordered or you can get directly from Border Collie Rescue SA

This annual calendar is a fundraising initiative by Border Collie Rescue. 
"It provides much-needed income over the festive season, which traditionally is a high season for us in animal welfare as we take double to triple the amount of collies during this time into rescue. 100 % of the funds raised goes to Border Collie Rescue SA, and our rescued dogs. It helps us to cover kenneling fees, veterinary fees and food bills." 
Border collies are pretty and they are smart and the puppies are cute as hell. But, a border collie is not the type of dog to be locked up at home alone all day with zero stimulation and exercise. Border collies are the right type of dog for the right type of person. Unfortunately, too many people choose this dog breed because they are cute and pretty. 

Make the right dog breed choice for your lifestyle, sterilise your pets and buy a Collindar. 

These stunning photos of Rusty and our doggy friends who also feature - Echo and Layla - were taken by Melissa Pohl Photography ❤  

Tuesday 30 November 2021

One year (and one month) in George

 I missed the train in celebrating on 'One Year in George' anniversary at the beginning of November on my blog. 

Yes, I've been living in George for one year and one month. On Sunday, 1 November 2020, we arrived at night, after more than 10 hours on the road, in George. The next morning, we met the moving truck to load contents from three homes into one house and one big storage garage, collected 10 workers from the bus station and met three superlinker trucks at the factory building that had no roof and no walls - the first of four sections of the building (we moved into the fourth part only in mid-June - instead of late January as expected).

This year has been a ride.

While work is work, I do love living in this area.

I am thankful for the outdoor opportunities that George and the surrounds have to offer. Paddling is scenic with an abundance of options. The trails for trail running, mountain biking and hiking are extensive. There are beaches to visit, peaks to climb and the hot and dry Karoo on the other side of the mountains. The urban situation has a ton to offer - anything we need really.

Cape Town and PE are a hop, skip and jump away. In between are big towns like Knysna, Mossel Bay and Hermanus.

Shortly after arriving, I joined the local paddling club. I'm not very active in the club but they're a good bunch of people. I also joined the George Trail Running group. I've only done two Monday social runs with them. I sometimes do the route earlier with the dogs and unfortunately miss the Thursday session as I'm at dog school. Our George parkrun recently restarted and I spent two pre-event Saturday mornings and two event Saturday mornings as a volunteer and part of the team. Another good bunch of people.

I go to dog school with Rusty and Rosy, doing a double class on Thursdays. We don't socialise much with the other participants but we've gotten to know each other and they're a good bunch too. Two of them are trail runners (I knew their names from ages ago and it was just coincidence that we do dog school). Rusty and Rosy absolutely love dog school. I've learned a lot and it has also deepened my communication and relationship with these two girls. We have a third doggy in our household, Bella. She's my mom's old neighbour's dog whose next adoptive mom, after the neighbour, died from covid. 

I know a number of other people in and near George and have made some new friends, but for the most part I don't socialise much. Work and covid really being the two factors for my lack of social interaction.

Physically, I haven't done a fraction of what I would like to do, especially in hiking and running. I started going to the biokineticist in February. I was completely out of balance after last year's not-knee-injury. I'm hugely improved in terms of muscle strength, left and right balance and also muscle group balances. But I'm not 100% right yet and I have swelling flare-ups (fortunately no pain) occasionally for no apparent reason (I don't have gout, uric acid test in the clear). So I don't know why this all started in the first place and why it continues. I'm hiking well, jogging a little but after 18 months of this I'm pretty blue. I'm seeing a lady this week for another assessment to try to get to the bottom of this long-term situation for something that is in balance, has good strength, no pain but still swells and causes discomfort. This has greatly limited my activities.

I've done a lot of digging, earth moving, vegetation clearing and making nice at the house we're renting. We may be moving out come end Jan as the owners need to do some serious damp and water-issue maintenance. I don't really have capacity right now to move, but we'll have to do it if needed.

I am delighted by my discovery and keenly developed interest in fungi and the many fungi that I have observed and recorded on There is never a dull moment out here on the fungi front. The plants too are extraordinary. My citizen scientist contribution. On this, I've done two or three RePhotoSA submissions and I know the location of another that I really should go to get it now that we're into summer (sun position).

For the rest, this year has sped past. I've read a number of books and have listened to a bunch more. It took me three months of every night to complete a special crochet gift project, and I've seen too many 2am (or 3am) mornings, especially the last six weeks) to just try to get on top of work. Being on the go, go, go and made this year go, go, go.

Here's to one year and one month. Cheers!

Monday 29 November 2021

George parkrun stats: where are the 18 to 24s?


Our George parkrun kicked off three weeks ago with the first events here since lockdown last year curtailed parkrun activities. In its first two weeks, George parkrun ranked as the highest participation parkrun event in South Africa - but note that many of the really big SA parkruns have not yet restarted. I've been volunteering at these events, enjoying the barcode scanning volunteer role.

This past Saturday's George parkrun was cancelled following last week's flood-condition rainfall that has washed away some trail sections and annihilated necessary bridges.

One of the parkrun guys shared these stats from the George parkrun event held on 20 November. It is a treat to see the high number of women, especially into the more mature ages. What did puzzle me was the lack in participation of men and women in the 18-24 age group with a significantly less-than-fantastic showing from 25-29 year old men. I want to shout to them all - "You are in the physical prime of your life!". Well, they should be.

So, what is the reason for the female dominance? In a chitter-chatter with the guy who shared the stats, he commented, "And  the  volume  of  women  keeps  growing.  Escape  from  housework  and  kids?". 

To which I added, "Women may also be more health conscious, and they have greater societal pressure to look good".

Our parkrun is now closed for the next few weeks with both bridge rebuilding needed and the new covid variant putting a damper on things. When we restart, I'll definitely keep an eye on the stats especially on the 18-24 age group numbers to see what is happening here. I hope this was a once-off, but I suspect it isn't.

Monday 1 November 2021

Understanding the un-understandable

Two weeks ago, a guy from our trail-multisport community died by his own hand. 

I didn't know him. 

I did discover that he'd sent me a Friend Request on Facebook (I don't know when) and that we had 200 Facebook friends in common. I probably popped up as a 'People you may know' link. 

I have learned that he was a good guy who was well liked. He was respected for his professionalism as an event MC and commentator as well as his radio work. He exuded energy, fun, and laughter and really made an impact on those around him - from the first across the line to the last-place participant. He showed people kindness. He seems to have had the gift of being able to shine his light on others and making them glow as a result. 

The many, many photos of him at events show a strong, healthy, fit, laughing, smiling, fun, radiant, people-loving man. 

He had a loving partner, a daughter and a dog that he dearly loved - plus a menagerie of other animals like ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits and two tortoises that he seems to have been very fond of.

He worked at an event on the Saturday and some time between wrapping up at the event and maybe midnight, a switch flipped and that was that. He could no longer face another day.

His passing has had quite an impact on me.

In messages, friends write about how he gave so much to them and they chastise themselves for not seeing, and for not being there for him. The problem is that when there is a party on the outside, it is impossible to know that there is a deep desperation on the inside. 

I've pondered the reasons and one that stands out would be financial stresses that he was certainly under. Some of my theory was confirmed recently by a post by his friend on Facebook.

It said that he "went hungry and struggled the whole pandemic. How many of us took him some food, paid his bills, showed some love?". 

Another answered, "People did. Maybe not enough, but there were a lot of people who helped him. But, I hear you - we didn't do enough for him".

My thoughts keep turning to what anyone could have really done to help him. We look on the outside and say, "I wish I'd known / paid more attention. I could have helped". It is easy to lend an ear and offer practical help that costs nothing more than time. To help someone survive financially through a tough patch in their life is something else.

His work at events and MCing depended on events being held. His income would have been completely shut off when covid lockdowns hit and then very, very slow to restart. Even though it appeared that things were coming right for him, the depth of the hole may have been too deep to see even a glimmer of light - or that pinhole just seemed too far away. 

Something as 'small' as a late payment for services, yet another event that offered below-rate fees or asked for his services at no charge... these may have been triggers. Being in media and freelancing is a tough and rocky environment at the best of times. And these have not been the best. He'd said that evening in a whatsapp to a friend that his kindness was seen as a weakness. He probably did too many favours for too many people for too long. 

The environment in which he worked and the people with whom he interacted were part of the world of entry fees that costs thousands and bicycles that cost tens of thousands. He seems to have been a decent athlete himself but wouldn't have had the funds to enter any of the events at which he worked.

His friends would have been planning travels, location moves, new homes, outings, experiences and even the simplicity of going to a restaurant, yet he would have been stuck - trapped by lack of funds. When you don't have any money, it is hard to make decisions or to see any future.

He had a daughter (or two) and a partner, that he would have wanted to support better than how he was able to do so. Perhaps his situation caused tension with his daughter's mother, which would not be uncommon.

No work and no finances play havoc with self worth and confidence. That he was well-liked, appreciated for his work and respected for his professionalism would have made little difference to this.

He loved his dog very much. This in itself can be a reason to stick around. But, I can see how even this reason to be can be drowned out by bushels of darkness.

Friends and family knew what he was going through. What they probably didn't realise - and he never told them - was the degree of his despair, inability to see a way forward and his knowing that they actually couldn't help him with what he really needed - work or money or a new situation. He would have needed to be dependent on them for a period of time until his work picked up or he figured out a new direction for his career and life. And who wants to do this to friends and family? Could they have really helped?

And where finances may have been one aspect, there were probably a dozen 'small' elements that created a situation that, to him, was insurmountable. And all of these together would have contributed to a depression so deep that he could not see that pinprick of light. 

His death struck me because I understand this un-understandable. 

I speculate. I didn't know him. He looks to be a person who I would have liked. 

Erica Terblanche's love of life and running (book)

There are running-themed books that are good. Some very good. And then there are running-themed books that awaken, revitalise, ignite, and go on to be legendary. Erica Terblanche's book 'Run - For the Love of Life' is one of these.

"This book is going to stand as one of the greats in running-themed literature."


I first met Erica almost 20 years when she jumped in to the sport of adventure racing full of grit and passion, and always with a smile so big her eyes squeeze almost shut - even in the coldest and darkest hours before dawn.

During Erica's years in London, news would come through via a common friend and snippets on social media told of Erica's adventures and successes. What I didn't realise, until I read her book, was just how many. 

Drakensberg overnight hike, Feb 2016. At the back is Faye, then Tracey and then Erica and me in the front.

'Run - For the Love of Life' is a story of life and love, and running. Erica opens her heart to bravely share her life in this honest memoir. She elegantly weaves a colourful cloth of her experiences, travels, races, relationships, career changes, successes, and sorrows, which are related simply, but yet so beautifully, and without fanfare. 

Erica's writing is as exceptional as her athletic accomplishments. Every word used counts. Like each step that makes up a kilometre, and each kilometre covered makes an ultramarathon completed, Erica's words, paragraphs and chapters take you on a journey through the dozen years and major events that are the focus of this book.

It is significant that Erica did not just win the women's category at almost all of the gruelling ultramarathons in which she competed; she blew away most of the field to stand or knock on the podium. Overall. Again and again, and again. Her hard-won achievements will uplift and inspire, motivate and encourage - especially women - whether or not you are a runner. 

Erica's courage stands out in the telling of her life story. She exposes her soft underbelly and leaves you in awe of her resilience, determination, focus, and bravery as well as her kindness, compassion and wisdom.

You do not need to be interested in running or to be a runner to be enthralled by this book. The ultramarathon events in which Erica competed are portals to her experiences. This book is about so much more than running. Erica's narration of her extraordinary journey of her life - through racing and traveling, and the people she loves - will enrich yours. 


'Run -For the Love of Life' can be ordered from and also from (Kindle and paperback). In South Africa, RUN will also be available from Exclusive Books.

Listen to this 35-minute podcast of an interview with Erica - HERE.

This is an interview with Erica by Pippa Hudson on CapeTalk.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Great Southern Bioblitz 2021 - Garden Route

I went tramping around the trails above George to observe and log flowers and fungi for the Great Southern Bioblitz Challenge 2021 - Garden Route.

While I appreciate the flowering plants, I do not usually photograph them as I prefer to keep my focus on fungi. In 2.5hrs I captured 85 items (only 3 of them the same in different areas), which took me a few hours to log. My total had been on about 115 observations over the six months that I've been on iNaturalist (an item or two every few days), so Sunday's sightings bumped my total considerably.

On Monday evening, I bagged another bunch of observations on a dog walk to land a tally of 104 observations contributed to the challenge. I've got a number of observations that still need clarity on Genus and species identification or confirmation. I have also delighted in actually being able to help other people confirm their identifications or to suggest an identification. I'm learning.

Thank goodness for the feature recognition and classification suggestions of - I would not otherwise have a clue what to name many of the flowers or where to classify them.
The Bioblitz window was only open for four days. There is a time limit (maybe 10 days) for people to log and label their observations and then the results from the participating regions will be out.

Here are some of my observations for the challenge:

Business road tripping with my dog

In the week of 11 October 2021, I took Rusty with me on a working road trip. Until late June this year, Rusty and I were together all day, every day from the day she came into my life 4.5 years ago. 

Almost four months ago my office at the factory was ready. My plan was to spend half day there and half day working from home with my dog. Instead, I spend the whole day at the office and Rusty hangs with granny. 

I miss my dog. I needed to spend sometime with her and Rusty needed to spend time with me. Rusty is an amazing road tripping companion. In towns, she sat up a lot to look around - very cute. On the open road she snoozed on her cushion. There was lots of smiling from this sweet girl. This four day trip with lots of driving and many stops was a very special experience to share with my Rusty girl.

Dog and owner lookalike

 At dog school this evening, our teacher Nicola asked us all to get our dogs at heel and she snapped quick photos. This one is a gem and it is now my favourite-favourite photo of me and Rusty together.

When you look at us two grinning monkeys, you have to ask whether I'm looking more like my dog or is she looking more like me?

Rusty really loves going to school - she smiles a lot there. We love hanging out together and when we're at school we have an hour of time dedicated to being with each other and where she has my undivided attention. It is wonderful for both of us.

Will it still matter a year from now?

 October's calendar from 'Action For Happiness' is themed 'Optomistic October'. It has some gems.

Today's one is a goodie: "Ask yourself, will this still matter a year from now?".

Over the past 18-months there are many things that I deal with every day that three years, five years, 10 years ago would have stressed me out completely. And now I take the "it is what it is" approach.

There are very few things that will matter a year from now. Thank goodness.

These calendars are really good. They hit the mark so many times each month. 

The entry on the 25th was spot-on too. I've been taking days or chunks of hours the past two weeks, ignoring other tasks, just to be able to focus and make headway on some big tasks. The 27th follows from this.

I wonder what November holds.

COVID cases graphs

 I haven't looked at COVID stats or graphs for months. I thought I'd take a look today to see how we're doing in terms of infection waves. While I was at it, I took a look at the graphs of a few other countries. The discrepancy in the infection profiles between the countries is incredible. The relative extent of peaks and troughs, timing (even accounting for seasons), duration of peaks and sheer numbers.

I dropped a note to my friend in the know, mentioning how we have proper lows and proper spikes, while other graphs have less distinction. 

She replied, "We do things properly here (laughing emoticon). I think they have maybe controlled the spikes better than us and that’s why there is less variation, but it is interesting seeing the differences between countries".

Here are the southern and northern hemisphere countries that I took a look at (in no specific order except to place South Africa first for reference.


Thursday 21 October 2021

Blood donations save lives, BUT

 Blood donation time again. I'm a bit off schedule but this logs my 3rd for the year (and 3rd for Western Cape Blood Service), maintaining my regular blood donor status. I'll get in a 4th around Xmas-New year, which fits in with my annual habit.

Blood is always in demand and it does save lives. BUT, only donate if you intend to donate at least THREE TIMES a year. Once-off donations and those done only once a year ARE NOT USED. You have to go back a second and a third time for just your plasma to be used. Continue donating blood 3 to 6 times a year to maintain your regular blood donor status.

Look online at the SANBS and WCBS websites for details on bloods drives, mobile and permanent clinics in your area. If you're outside of South Africa, you'll have a donor organization on your side.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Rusty is too smart

 I've been really out of sync with dog school. When covid restrictions came in again, school stopped. Since restrictions reduced and school re-opened, our participation has been sketchy. It seem to have been one thing after another on Thursdays that has impeded our attendance.

Rosy had her first class this evening for many weeks and she totally clicked with some activities that we worked on some time ago. I'm super proud.

Looks like we're dancing. Doing over, over and around the cone. Rusts gets super excited like a puppy and she bounces everywhere.

Rusty had class last week and this week. Today I noticed something interesting.

Rusts loves jumping over. Out on the trails when there is a log across the trail I call, "Over!" and she will speed up and jump over. We use the lowest jump height for her as she has spondylosis in her lower spine so we go for keeping the activity with minimal impact on her back.

When you do a stay, the dog should not anticipate being released from the stay by breaking before a command is given. Rusty is actually pretty good at her stays - for duration, distance and distraction. She broke her stay a few times this evening and, after two consecutive breaks, I realised the reason.

Waiting to be recalled. This is where we figured out that she has worked out Nics' command to me.

I instruct her to stay and then I walk away, turn around and face her. After a period, our teacher Nicola gives me an instruction to recall Rusty - to tell her to come. Rusty has joined the dots and was using Nics' instruction to me, regardless of the words used, to recall. She figured out that I tell her to stay, I walk, I turn, I wait, Nics issues an instruction and then I call her. She reasoned that she may as well run to me when Nics speaks.

For the third one, to test my theory, Nics was standing behind Rusty and gave me a nod. Rusty only came when I told her to. This dog is too smart for her own good! ❤

Thank you to teacher Nics for these photos of my girl at school.

Stay. Waiting for me to return to her.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Comparing is not good self-care

 A friend forwards me these monthly calendars from Each month has a different theme.

The calendar for September 2021 is 'Self-Care September'. This one resonated, for me and others. I printed a copy and stuck it up at our office so that I would at least get to see it and think about it and so would others.

The item for 21 September, yesterday, is a good one. 

On social media, it looks like I spend my time out with the dogs on beautiful trails looking for fungi. The reality, of course, is considerably different. 

Being out on the trails is what I love. Being with the dogs keeps me sane. These are the things that make the long hours of work, as well as business and financial stresses tolerable. These get me through frustrations, lows, disappointments. So often, there doesn't seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. And then I head out on the trails with the dogs and my perspective is improved.

It is so easy to assume that everyone's life is going better than yours because our friends and family are sunny, shiny, happy, content, fulfilled, successful and doing such cool stuff on social media.

What does trouble me is that those of us who grew up before social media have a better frame of reference of real life than those in their 20s and younger. 

We just need to remember, and remind others, that there is real life reality and there is social media reality (the good stuff) and not to compare how we feel on the inside - and how we see our lives - to how others appear on the outside and our impression of their lives. Apples and oranges.