A Place that Time Forgot

In the heart of the sizzling arid Karoo lies a small quaint village…Nieu-Bethesda…A little artist town with dusty untarred roads…approximately 50K (31 miles) from the town of Graaff-Reinet…

Karoo…not a Kangaroos in sight…maybe a herd of  Springbok or the ever present dorper sheep with their distinctive black heads…a mountain tortoise crossing the road…now and then…clean shaped hills or koppies capped with the hard jagged rock formations formed over millions of years..

The original inhabitants were the Bushman or San people…who named the area the “Karoo”…a Bushman word meaning “dry space”…

I had never traveled into this semi-desert region since I arrived in South Africa… on the central plateau of the western half of South Africa… place of relentless sunshine… a vast, open, arid region dominated by low-shrub vegetation and abundance of rock cropping’s…

Halfway to Camdeboo National Park in the Karoo

Doesn’t look like a desert…looks can be deceiving though…in stopping to take this photograph…the surrounding area told a vastly different story…the photos below were all taken at the same location…recent rain in the area had brightened up the brown to a more vibrant green…

Mr. P and I had taken a couple of days to breathe the desert air to check out a birding route that was located in a national state Park named Camdeboo…a park that literally surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet… over 240 bird species and the famous breathtaking Valley of Desolation…towering dolerite columns rising to heights of up to 120 meters…formed by volcanic and erosive forces over a period of 200 million years…Wow!!!

It was over 100F that day…hot and windless…sweating (or glistening as the ladies are more prone to do) as I climbed over stones and up a narrow dirt path to the top…the view was breathtaking…towers of Sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of Dolerite rise 120 metres from the valley floor … worth the trip to see what millions of years have created…makes me wonder what the next 120 million years will create on this magic blue marble in the sky…

We still had some time in the day and following the suggestion of our hostess at the B&B…we took a short drive to visit the renown “Owl House” in Neiu Bethesada…off we went to check out this quirky little town…

Almost missing the turnoff…just a small country road…surrounded by fence…scrub land…with interest in what we might find…we traveled on…

The narrow road started slowly spiraling downward…descending we were on the outside edge of the road…I held my breath, closed my eyes, and wondered if we should go back when I saw a car coming towards us…just nowhere to turn around… and …after all…just another adventure

Breathing again at the bottom of the hill…we continued forward…around a sharp bend in the road…almost running into a white farmhouse smack dab in the middle…delineating where the road changed from blacktop to a dirt and gravel lane…how could we be on the right road to the famous “Owl House”…where thousands of visitors stop in to see this treasure of either weird or wonderful (depending on your preferences) art is located…onward, Mr. P…

Dusty, dirty road that seemingly led nowhere…passing abandoned buildings…now only inhabited by Mother Nature and her children…

Like a valley of desolation…everything in ruins

We continued…the road would eventually end up somewhere…we hoped…

Tree lined dirt roads…a dusty padstal…which is an Afrikaans word that many locals use, and roughly translated means “shop next to the road”… so, there was life somewhere…at least at one time in this remote part of the world…finally the town came into sight…

Quiet street scene in Nieu Bethesda
It was not what I had envisioned…but there was an other worldly charm about it…https://www.karoo-southafrica.com/

Our first stop was not the “Owl House”…but the Kitching Fossil Exploration Center…Mr. P’s ongoing fascination with dinosaurs, our history, and how the earth began…

A small museum that shows fossils of life 50 million years before the dinosaurs…what life was like in Nieu-Bethesda 255 million years ago…James William Kitching (6 February 1922 – 24 December 2003) was a South African vertebrate paleontologist who was born in Nieu Bethesada…at six years old he scoured the countryside to find specimens for a paleontologist named Robert Broom…his becoming one of the world’s greatest fossil finders had begun…I had never been aware of the life in the Permian Period, “populated by mammal-like reptiles called therapsids”…learned something new

https://www.sa-venues.com

Down the street to the where Helen Elizabeth Martins who was a shy, retiring recluse… rarely seen outside on the streets of Nieu Bethesda… where she create a magical inner kingdom that she breathed into life…

Miss Helen’s imagination transformed humble materials such as cement, glass, mirrors and wire into a secret, magical world that she shared with few, drawing upon Bible stories, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Orient, and everyday objects – all of which blended to create a personal cosmology.

https://theowlhouse.co.za

Her life had been tragic and unhappy…after the death of her mother and abusive father…she began to use her inner creativity and imagination to transform her home into a wonderland of color, light, and texture … an escape from the dullness and despair of her previous life…

She transformed every space within her house…changed by finely ground glass of assorted colors using an old-fashioned coffee grinder…

The sadness of her life was palatable to me…the black ground glass in her father’s bricked up old room…called the Lion’s Den… the fact that she committed suicide when she found out that she was going blind due to the long-term exposure to the crushed glass she used…yet, she had been happy creating and envisioning new work daily with her helpers…and left behind the richness of an “outsider” artist …

“Over the years Miss Helen and her helpers added to the mostly quasi-religious tableaus. Mythical figures started to appear, half human, half creature. Today it is a forest of some 500 statues, intense, baffling and compelling. Miss Helen committed suicide in 1976 by swallowing caustic soda. She left behind a legacy of intrigue – her kingdom sparks the imagination like few other places in South Africa…”

https://www.sa-venues.com

At the Owl House…I focused on the beauty that spoke to me…the vibration of the earth…alive and creating poetry for those who listen with their heart and not just their eyes…for me it is always in the perspective…

I embrace the journey to Neiu Bethesada…not what I expected…”old places have soul” …a place of that will fill my own soul in the remembering… may your journey’s take you to all the magical places you never even began to think about…

Love, laughter and lots of magic for your life travels…

Floral Bouquet for You…

“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.”

Edwin Curran
Blossoms Dreaming

Flowers are a gift from the earth…this blog is to celebrate those gifts…a pairing of quotes and images to brighten your day…

“Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”

E.V.

Open the Bloom of your heart and become a gift of beauty to the world.” ~Bryant McGill
“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” ~Oscar Wilde

“Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.”

Jim Carrey

A Flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. ~Zen Shin

“We don’t ask a flower any special reason for its existence. We just look at it and are able to accept it as being something different for ourselves”

Gwendolyn Brooks

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

I hope that you have enjoyed the beauty of our nature and it brings peace to your soul….Much love, joy, and peace for your day…sent with love❣

***I would enjoy hearing what your favorite photos are…I need three to enter the Photo Competition at the end of the month 😃

The Path Mr. P, Bacchus (our faithful companion) and I Walk…Port Elizabeth

South African Black Ostrich…

The (Struthio camelus domesticus), the black necked ostrich, Cape Ostrich or Southern ostrich…although only the males have the bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females…Females, on the other hand, are a drab light brown…

A simple elegant wedding in a family member’s house at the Cape…a rainy weekend that turned into the most “perfect” wedding day with sunshine and cool breezes…just for me, I would imagine😉…I had the cake and flowers that I had always dreamed of…surrounded by my South Africa family and friends…and then, of course, my knight in amour who invited me to be his “forever’ love…to top the week off…my son flew 36 hours to give me away…

He had never been to South Africa…while he didn’t have a lot of time to venture through the country…we did have a day to take him to Addo…a wonderful spring day with playful babies and zebra love…it was wonderful to be able to share the beauty of the country with him…

Big Daddy Telling Us it was time to move a little further away… (Video by my son) …

It’s a little late being December, but Mother Nature has her own time frame (usually mating season is between July and November) …the male ostrich’s beak and legs turn red/pink to attract the female for mating…after dancing for her favors…for as long as it takes…men and their antics😉

Bet you didn’t know all these interesting facts…

Ostrich eyes are about the size of billiard balls…measuring about 2″ across…they take so much room in the skull that its brain is smaller than either one of its eyeballs…about the size of a walnut…making them not very adept at alluding predators…they tend to run in circles…they need those enormous eyes with its a high number of photoreceptor cells combined with the sheer size of the image from the lens help them see phenomenal details of the predators even from great distances… as far as 2.2 miles (3.5 km)… https://m.facebook.com/ScienceEvidenceIntelligence/photos/a.316858809164834/635684480615597/?type=3&source=57&__tn__=EH-R

Ostriches are the largest bird (an adult rooster can be 6 to 10 ft and weight up to 340 lbs…and while they can’t fly…they’re puny wings couldn’t lift their heavy bodies off the ground, boy, can they run…they can cover 5m (approx. 16.5 ft) in one stride and can sprint over 70 k/hr (about 43.5 mph) using their wings to balance as they run and rudders to change direction …AND they don’t bury their heads in the sand…they wouldn’t be able to breath😂 and definitely would not have survived for million years…The oldest fossil relatives of ostriches belong to the species Calciavis grandei, which were excavated from the Green River Formation in Wyoming and date to some 56 million to 34 million years ago https://www.britannica.com/animal/ostrich

They do dig holes in the sand to bury their eggs…and they lay their heads flat on the ground for several reasons…when they sleep, when they sense trouble to try and become less visible…they may flop on the ground with their heads outstretched…their coloring blending with the sandy ground and assisting in camouflaging themselves… they sometimes lay their head flat on the ground to swallow sand and pebbles… the hard grit helps them to grind their food in their crop… from a distance, the ostrich does look like it’s burying its head in the sand…. and that may be where the myth began…supposedly with that great Roman thinker, Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm

Ostriches typically live in a herd of a dozen or less with an Alpha male and a dominant hen… a successful territorial male is polygamous, but will only form a “pair” bond with a ‘major’ female…he mates with the dominant hen (his favorite) … normally mating for life…but forms a complex structure with the other hens …the females who have become part of the ostrich harem may mate with the Alpha male or with wandering males …

The favorite female will lay around 7-10 eggs …all the hens will place their eggs in the nest dug by the male of the dominant hen to incubate sometimes up to 60 eggs…here its “put your eggs all in one basket” philosophy …she has a plan (the devious she-devil) …she will move the lesser hens’ eggs to the edge and move hers to the middle of the nest… When she sees a predator, she will sacrifice another hen’s egg by rolling it away from the nest beforehand…

Even though the Alpha male may be a regular Cassanova…he is a good father…helping the female by taking turns incubating the eggs for about 6 weeks…due to their camouflage coloring…normally she sits on the eggs during the day, and he sits on them during the night…so seeing the male nesting during the day was surprising (maybe she just needed a break to stretch her long legs)…sitting on 60 of the largest eggs in the world… at 15 cm (6 in.) long and weighing 1.5 kg (3 lb.) is no easy task…

Whoever survives the hyenas, jackals, and vultures and other predators will be born with that spiky, greyish brown down…they grow approx. 30 cm (1 ft.) each month…and in six months they will be as tall as their parents…they start wandering from the nest with their parents a few days after hatching and in four months they will start to grow feathers … reaching sexual maturity around three or four years old…which is when males grow their black-and-white feathers, and the poor colorless (my personal commentary) females continue to have their brown plumage…

Chicks are born with a spiky, greyish-brown down. They grow brown feathers after 4 months. Then around 3-4 years, ostriches reach sexual maturity. Males develop a striking black and white plumage while females continue to have a brown plumage

For millennium… dynamic and colorful bird plumage has been used for decoration…for many cultures…through time…unusual feathers were sometimes worn as a way of displaying one’s high societal rank…the more exotic the feathers…the higher one’s ranking…through the 18th century both men and women of the upper class wore feathers in their hats… “It was at this time, in England, that the figurative phrase “a feather in one’s hat” was introduced and came to mean that an individual had achieved some significant accomplishment” https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2015/09/18/feathers-in-regency-fashion/

As though these poor birds didn’t have enough problems with natural predators such as cheetahs, lions, leopards, hunting dogs and spotted hyenas…as early as the 16th century these wild birds were hunted throughout Africa… providing the extremely rare product for important women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette to use in the elaborate headdresses …

Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of South Africa in 1652 and reported see large flocks… Ostrich feathers were exported from South Africa as early as 1859…as the emigrant farmers became fully aware of the lucrative return on feathers……the farmers soon domesticated the ostriches… trekking into the karoo and the Eastern Cape to steal the wild chicks and eggs… Incubating them……During this feather boom there were more than 77 600 ostriches on farms in the area and in 1914 there were close to a million ostriches…

BETWEEN 1903 AND 1913, OSTRICH FEATHER EXPORTS TOTALED A STAGGERING £19 MILLION (25 MILLION US), TRAILING ONLY GOLD, DIAMONDS AND WOOL.

https://www.ozy.com/true-and-stories/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-south-africas-ostrich-king/82169/
Woman wearing a hat with ostrich feather. Produced by the Fitzall Bandeau Company as part of their Fitzall Fashions series. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

The farmers who were the pioneers of the ostrich industry, which commenced in the Oudtshoorn district during the middle of the 19th Century in part to the climate being almost identical to the ostrich’s original habitat…and therefore Oudtshoorn became known as the Ostrich Capital of the World… and remains to this day…where you can even take a giddy exhilarating ostrich ride…but we just bought Mr. P a beautiful ostrich leather belt and tried some biltong…

Southern Tip of Africa

“Today, ostrich farms are among the most profitable agricultural projects. They are often referred to as “the farms of the future” because of the large variety of products and hence their high profit potential. Ostriches are raised commercially for their meat, hide and feathers”… https://www.fao.org/3/v6200t/v6200t02.htm

 One of Mr. P’s and I jaunts to Cape Town…we stopped in Oudtshoorn to check it out…

Now that’s my kind of Ostrich
😏 It was a rather tasty treat…dried ostrich (jerky or biltong)

Even the ostrich, with its long neck and large eyes, cannot see what’s in the future

An African Proverb

Much love, laughter, and magic for your day❣

Top 23 Quotes and Sayings about "OSTRICHES" | inspiringquotes.us

Delightful Disappointment

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ”

― Ansel Adams

Sometimes it is just best to enjoy the moments…when everything seems to be failing…falling apart and nothing seems to be cooperating with your agenda…find some pleasure in what is and let it wash away every drop of frustration…sometimes you may find what you were really needing in the space of time you are in…

Yesterday was like that…the photographic club takes a yearly outing for a Whale Dolphin and Penguin Island Cruise…last year had been my first and I had been new to the club and just relearning the new camera equipment and post processing applications after several decades of being out of the photography business…I felt exhilarated…everything was going to be perfect…well, I girl can hope and if I had come back with even one or two awesome photographs I would have been satisfied…I must not have gotten to 10,000 yet🤣…“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The weather had predicted rain…but the day was grey…but not raining…everything packed…lens, camera, extra batteries, snacks, water…and off Mr. P (with his binoculars) and I went…we met up with the other camera fanatics at the pier…there were more than the boat could take, and we split into two boats…

Off we went…the men in black leading the pack

The water was incredibly choppy…I had chosen a seat in front of the cabin…most had chosen to seat under the canopy…I wanted to photograph different viewpoints than the average…and then it started…

The front of the boat went up and then it went down, and the salt spray came up over the front of the boat and smacked me…from the top of my head to the seat of my pants…looking like a bedraggled puppy at that point…I wasn’t about to give up my prime spot for a little water…luckily I had used my coat to cover the camera…I would see something that I wanted to take a picture of and the boat went up and down again…as I tried to get my balance…I would slide the other way…back and forth…up and down as we headed for the island…giving up after the numerous time and with no respite in sight…I wrapped the camera up and enjoyed the sea air and roller coaster ride…it became rather exhilarating…not worrying about camera speed, aperture, ISO or composition…I breathed and smiled with the beauty of life…salt…sea…blue of sky and water…the most healing medicine for that frazzled feeling…

The sea was filled with diamonds…for the bride-to-be…the variegated colors of my entire world at that moment were too numerous to name…the white of foam and clouds…aqua…green to dark blue…shades of clearest turquoise reflected in the playful wild splashes of waves hitting the rock and bursting into joyful exuberance…I was beyond contented…

I did not come back with one photograph that I felt was great and none were exceptional…too much distance…too much movement…but sometimes we photographers just need to lay the camera down and breathe in the world and the creative energy that the entire world is filled with…

“Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds.” – Ana Claudia Antunes

LIFE IS FULL OF MAGICAL DIAMOND MOMENTS….hope your life today is full of them

With Life, love, lots of laughter and magic💖…Renée

We Rise…by Lifting Others

The same blood runs through every vein on earth…and no matter what our skin color…beliefs…customs…when we are cut…we all bled the same…Red

Beauty can be found in everything, and I choose to see and remind myself and the world that there is love and hope despite the ugliness that is so prevalent throughout our world…and unfortunately through history…yet sometimes the abundant odiousness of misery rises and slaps me in the face…reminding me of my blessings and the suffering of most of the humanity on this blue orb of life…

I am abundantly and richly blessed…I am not affluent nor do I have a MAGIC money tree growing in the back yard to pull cash off at any whim…no hidden stash under the mattress…but I do have enough to eat…a warm bed and a home…and people who love and care for me…

Growing up I was the oldest of six in a small country town in the backwoods of Wisconsin…my father failed as a farmer and working at a sawmill was seasonal and not profitable enough to adequately feed his family…we did not live on the street and my mother worked miracles by feeding us cow tongue and dandelion greens😂…a chicken thigh or drumstick on a Sunday was a savored delicacy to eye, nose and belly…

Although it is not the abject poverty that I encounter daily here or that I encountered in Columbia…there is an incredible deep-felt sense of empathy for what poverty does to a human… my heart hurts with the knowledge that with the empty stomachs resides the persisting enveloping darkness of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness…

The poor are the unseen…unwanted, unloved, and uncared for…

“There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in sickly air. People can be slave ships in shoes.”

~ Zora Neale Hurston

“The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Carl Sagan

I could write a million words and that would not be sufficient to create a complete picture and even the photographs can only provide a glance…a snippet in time of the life of those that are less fortunate…we have issues of poverty in the United States…there are no simple solutions…but we are one and we can feed one…

Mr. P & I see the overwhelming need every day that we navigate the city…there are the car guards in every parking area (Car guarding is a distinctly South African informal sector employment activity. A car guard offers to guard vehicles in a public or private parking area for a donation. Car guarding enables an unemployed person to earn some income) …beggars…young and old…black and white…others at every stop light selling what they can beside the road… whether a bag of oranges, a homemade product whatever they can…knocking on your window to try and persuade you to trade a few rand for their merchandise…those who wave their paintbrushes for day labor…

A loaf of bread and a package of hot dogs is R40 (40 Rand = $2.60 Dollars) …I know that everyone has their hand out for your contribution…and so many have their own life needs…but I felt that I could ask if anyone wanted to give a small donation to help me to give to those that cross our paths…keeping nothing for myself…but to provide a meal or a coin donation for those who are in need…what do you think?

In the Darkness…we are the Light

Much love, magic for your day and laughter (even if on some days it’s through the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes) .

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Hello World!

It’s me…I moved my thoughts and ramblings from beautifultapestryoflife.com to this site..hope that you will come in and enjoy the colored threads of life with me…love, laughter, and magic for your day!