Scientist no 1 found this and posted it on her Facebook page in response to losing her uncle, my brother-in-law to cancer.
We are strangely unaccustomed to death even when we know it's overdue.
RIP sweet man, you made us all better people, just for knowing you.
"Let's go and see the Amur falcons roosting in Heidelberg" said my grandmother* a few weeks back, "they'll be leaving soon and we can have afternoon tea in town first"
She had found an article in The Saturday Star describing the spectacle of watching the flock coming in to roost in Heidelberg, a little town on the N2 not far from Johannesburg.
Image credit - Andrew Keys
These brave little birds fly non-stop over the ocean for two to three days on their annual migration from Asia to Southern Africa to choose mass roosting spots for their summer holidays.
And so, armed with binoculars and enough snacks to feed a small army, we set off one Saturday afternoon to take tea at Her Majesteas Salon (highly recommended) before finding the roosting spot described in the carefully folded newspaper clipping in my grandmother's handbag.
I'm not sure this particular group has chosen terribly well; a high grove of Poplars behind the local Spar in a particularly seedy part of town, music from the sports bar below blaring out as patrons leave, shouting their drunken farewells.
We were a little late in the year to catch the full flock, with only a hundred or so birds left behind. But still, it's a remarkable experience to watch them coming in for the night, massing high above in the clouds, then swooping in, one by one, to take up their chosen resting spot.
And the clouds that evening were beyond spectacular, reflecting the colours of the setting sun across the way.
This shot taken facing east, the light reflecting off the clouds
The two tiny black spots are falcons coming in to roost from the east
Perhaps they haven't chosen badly after all if that light show is anything to go by. Fly safely little birds.
*She's not really my grandmother, it's a (mildly rude) term of endearment for my dear friend Nan. Who is obviously MUCH older than I.
Walter and I have been exploring places a little closer to home than Tuscany lately; the combination of the petrol price, the currency and work demands have limited our choices.
Have hat, will travel.
In a fit of insomnia-induced midnight madness I decided we should go to the Clarens Craft Beer Festival. Walter agreed, then went back to sleep.
The closer it came the more I panicked. Surely this was a huge mistake? Wouldn't there be drunken students and mad crowds? I decided we would have to manage our exposure to both quite carefully. I booked the most expensive food and beer pairing I could find for the night before the start of the festival and chose accommodation just beyond staggering distance from the festival itself. The pairing conveniently doubled as our Valentine's Day celebrations even though it was well after the actual date. This is how I rationalise the cost and appear thoughtful while cunningly avoiding commercial traps.It has nothing to do with forgetting the date. At all.
Yes I spotted the typo, but we weren't there for the writing. The food was excellent.
The forest plan for the garden has some drawbacks, mainly the lack of wide open spaces with enough sun to plant masses of flowers.
The herons keep an eye on the arums
We moved the roses a few months back, they really don't like the shade much
But when I left the hanging flower pots on the lawn to get some rain the gardener decided that was an instruction to plant out the flowers. So I came home to six empty hanging pots and a few flowers dotted around the garden.
Walter will kill me for writing about his beloved car as The Noddy Car
Prime position in the study, just beneath a (very old) picture of the children
Now Walter has never been a car person. Sensible, safe sedans with good fuel efficiency have successfully made it onto the purchase list time and again. "Cars are functional" he would say (with a fairly superior tone), "I can't understand why people are willing to spend so much money when there are perfectly good alternatives"
The dinky version, on his desk. Well yes, in retrospect the signs were there
So you'll understand my surprise when I got home from a business trip last year to find a roadster tucked into our garage.
Walter, embracing his inner boy.
I shouldn't have been surprised. When I worked on the Mazda business my client very kindly let me take one for a weekend so that I could understand what all the fuss was about. I think there would have been less fuss at home if I'd won the lottery - and, looking back, I only have myself to blame.His face, when I pulled into the driveway, was a dead give away. A small boy on Christmas morning, getting exactly what he wanted.
And it's great fun, really, to go for roof-down Sunday drives to distant country restaurants for long, lazy lunches.
Just going through the pictures from our short break reminded me of the the Marakele Vervet Monkey war of 2013....
No. It's not a prisoner of war. It's trying to get the bits of meat stuck onto the braai grid.
When I saw them moving through the camp on the first day I made a point of saying "there's a troop of Vervets, don't leave anything lying around"
We have not managed to get through nearly 28 years of marriage by Walter actually listening to me (I call this the wife white noise strategy) and he gave me his customary nod and smile and carried on regardless.
Sure enough - the very next day I spotted one making a lightning-fast dash across the deck, grabbing Walter's cigarettes off the table without missing a beat and leaping into the trees holding his prize aloft. Of course once he opened the box and took a sniff of the contents he threw it away in disgust (fortunately. I'm not sure how we would have removed them otherwise)