Wednesday, July 30, 2014

26 July 2014

              Our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary

 The time was getting short and I knew it but I didn’t know what to do about it. It wasn’t that I forgot about it, but I just didn’t know what to do. Angie had tried to discuss various options that we could do, but none of them fit nicely into the schedule; you know schedules, at times, they seem to dictate your life. They tell you when you can do something and when you can’t. I like schedules; in fact, I want them because of my desire to have things organized – planned out to the day and hour. It brings so much peace to the soul.Anyway, in order to have a plan, I made a decision. I didn’t like it, but it was a plan that fit into our schedule and softened my guilty feeling. I had put forth a plan and therefore, couldn’t be accused of forgetting the occasion. And really, it was not a matter of forgetting; I would not have forgotten it. An opportunity to commemorate fifty years of marriage is not something that one readily forgets. Now, I have known a few individuals who wished they could forget their marriage, but these have been good years for me; years that I would not want to forget. So, I shared my plan with Angie and she agreed that it was doable, not the best in the world, but she acknowledged that it was a plan that accommodated our “schedule.”
However, after living with someone for fifty years you begin to understand when their brain engages, seeds begin to sprout and alternatives to your suggestions begin to grow. I knew hers was working on something and I waited for the bait to be thrown out.
It happened one evening, even as a cat stalks his prey. At one moment it is all quiet, motionless, concentrating on what is before it and then, as if a spring has been released, it is upon its object. And so it was with Angie that night. It almost startled me as she sprung her idea upon me. I could tell this idea of hers was not some half-baked idea that had just been formulated. It had details including where we would stay, costs, schedules, sites to see; she had it all and, with minor adjustments, it fit into our “schedule.”
“We could go to Monkey Land,” she said somewhat cautiously but still with conviction.
“Monkey Land,” I said quizzically, “What do you do in Monkey Land?”

“Well Monkey Land has monkeys, lots of monkeys and I think it would be fun to see the monkeys,” she responded.

I could hear it already, “What did you do to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary” our children and friends would ask? “Oh, we did the most exciting thing; we went to see the monkeys,” I would have to respond. And they would be thinking, “After fifty years and that is the best that guy could do for her?” But Angie was enthusiastic about the great adventure so I, without a great deal of conviction, nodded my head, not so much in agreement as in acknowledgement.
However, that was not the end result of what that seed that had germinated in her mind had grown into. Before I fully digested the concept of visiting the monkeys, she laid out what else she had cooked up. “I found out on the internet that we could also go see a bird sanctuary in the same locality as the monkeys, won’t that be fun?” she stated (more as a statement than a question). So, I thought, now we are not only going to watch a bunch of primates swing by their tail and make weird noises but we were going to go bird watching.
Again, my mind was conjuring up the occasion, an almost vision of what it was going to be like. I could see little old ladies with their binoculars oohing and awing about how beautiful this and that bird was. It was stacking up to be equivalent to going to a musical. There are few things in the world, including museums that rank that far down on the enthusiastic scale for me. But, how much could I drag my feet? I had fifty years to come up with a plan and had failed, so just how much resistance could I make? My mind was working on an alternative, but it was not making any progress, at least not on this short of notice.    
I had just about formulated an idea of my own when she hit with her third punch, the knockout one. “If we want to, we can buy a package deal which would also include going to see lions and tigers,” she said. We had already gone down that road of seeing lions and their close associates pace around in cages. This suggestion surprised me as neither of us was particularly impressed by our previous experiences of seeing caged cats.
“And where do you plan that we do this major African expedition,” I asked. “They are all near Plettenburg Bay. There is a B&B there with a Spa Jacuzzi, the room looks really pretty and it is within walking distance of the beach. That would be so great,” she said, with great excitement. “I have checked the weather forecast and it is supposed to be nice and sunny. We could go to a couple of the parks one day and see the remaining one the next day before going home. The first day will be our anniversary and we could go out for a nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the beach. Doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun?”
She had it all planned out. Every step was detailed. And I actually had to admire the effort she had made to be sure that we had a “schedule” that would work. What could I do but smile and endorse her plan? To someone who enjoys sight-seeing, it was a well put together adventure. So there it was, the cast had been set and we were off to celebrate our fiftieth in South Africa.
It all worked out as she planned, the monkeys were interesting as there was quite a variety of species. We had often commented that we were surprised at the lack of variety of birds in South Africa but they all must have congregated here. It is amazing how bright and colorful birds can be. (In the process of capturing all their beauty, our camera battery died so, unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of some of the most colorful ones.) The lions, leopards, jaguars, etc. were, as we anticipated, not very exciting. However, the guide was one of the most knowledgeable individuals that I have met concerning the cat family. We were the only ones with him during the tour so we got to ask and get answers to a lot of questions.
The B&B was nice and the Jacuzzi, enjoyable. However, as we were coming down the stairs to have breakfast, Angie stumbled and broke her right wrist. The break is almost a perfect duplication of the break she did last year of her left wrist. So today, as I write this summary of our fiftieth wedding commemoration, I am sitting in the hospital waiting for her to come back from her operation. It could be that we should have stuck with my boring plan.

This monkey wanted to go home with me.

That's all folks!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

6 July 2014


Well, it has happened, the number one thing to do on the “Top 10 Things to do List” has been eradicated – removed – done away with – put to rest with finality - the Ostrich egg has been obtained. It is great when what seems unattainable is finally attained. The lucky egg was acquired in Oudtshoorn, South Africa – the ostrich capital of the world - in a small remote Mom & Pop store stuck away in an obscure alley.
 And what was the cost of the prize possession, you may ask? It was a staggering R50 which is about $4.90. What a gem; what a jewel; for such a meager amount. Why, it will surely measure up proudly to any Charlie Russell or Rembrandt. It will become a family heirloom to be cherished by family 
 members for millennia.

The egg of this egg was masterly extracted using delicate surgical tools to ensure that the egg shell was not scared, cracked or in any way damaged. 

  A comparison photograph was taken with the egg along with a chicken egg to verify the significant size of this mammoth collector’s item.


The content was then measured, weighed and photographed for posterity purposes.

 The contents of the egg was then cooked by a master chef and feed to 8 worldly acclaimed egg coinsures who each acclaimed and testified of its superb flavor and texture.

The shell of this prized possession is currently on temporary display at our flat for the immediate close acquaintances of the owner to enviously view by appointment.

Some Fun Facts About Ostriches:
1.      An Ostrich is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs, and can run at up to about 70 km/h (43 mph), the fastest land speed of any bird. The ostrich is also the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird.


·         Although an ostrich egg is the largest of all eggs, it is the smallest egg in relation to the size of the bird. The Ostrich egg will weigh 1600 - 2300 gm (about 3.5 to 5 pounds) and is equivalent in volume to 2 dozen chicken eggs.
·         An Ostrich Hen can lay 40 - 100 eggs per year, averaging about 60 eggs per year.
·         Ostrich eggs hatch in 42 days.
·         An Ostrich chick grows one foot taller each month until it is 7-8 months old.
·         Generally, Females sit on eggs by day; males sit on eggs by night.
·         The ostrich is a unique looking animal. It has long skinny legs, a big body with small wings, a long neck, and a dangerous long beak.
·         The ostrich usually weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and can grow to 9 feet tall.
·         Its large body is covered with feathers. The males have black feathers with some white on the underside and tale. The females are usually grey in color. 

                          Female on left, Male on right

·         A male Ostrich is called a rooster or a cock and a female Ostrich is called a hen.
·         An ostrich's eyes can be nearly 2 inches in diameter giving them the largest eyes of any land animal.
·          The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. Even though it has wings, it can't fly, but it makes up for the lack of flight by running very fast.
·         The ostrich is found in nature in Africa, but it is farmed all over the world for its meat.
·         Not only can ostriches kick hard, they are armed with 4 inch long claws on their feet.
·         The stride of an ostrich at full pace can reach 16 feet.
·         Ostriches sometimes eat stones and pebbles which help them to digest their food.
·         In some places, there are ostrich races where people ride on the backs of the giant birds. They even have special saddles and reins for them.
·         The ostrich only has two toes, while all other birds have three or four.
·         Adult males are eight to nine feet in height and weigh 350-400 pounds.  Females will weigh up to 300-350 pounds.
·         An Ostrich will live to be 50 - 75 years old.