A cow story #lifeinparadise

In Hogsback we don’t chase cars or pavements, we chase cows. These four legged, agile, garden trampling, flower gobbling, leather cladded creatures stroll leisurely from garden to garden, munching on anything and everything.


Considering that the cows we have here in Hogsback, can graciously jump over fences, there is nothing much that you can do to keep them out of your beloved garden. It must be all the special herbs and spices that they munch on all over the village that gives them superpowers beyond imagination. I no longer think that the cow that jumped over the moon is just a story. That particular cow must have come from Hogsback.

So I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking there is an earthquake. My whole cabin is shaking and my cat is hanging onto my hair in fear and trepidation. A quick squizz out my window quickly reassured me that it is not the mountain that is shaking, it is a very large cow scratching herself on the corner of my cabin, in the moonlight.

My fear turned into fury. I managed to hobble into my slippers and grab a stick. By the time I reached the bottom of my stairs, the gathering of grazing cows had danced down to the next level of my garden munching on takeaways of snow drops and other remaining delicious greenery.

cow6If anyone thought that cows are slow moving, gracious animals, I want to dispel that notion straight away. They are, as I have mentioned, agile sprinters, jumpers and record breaking endurance munchers that could easily represent us at the next Olympics.

So before I knew it, I was standing, in my pajamas, with mud soaked slippers, in the moonlight, at the bottom of my garden, wondering #whattheheck. Those who know my garden will know how steep it is, and those who know me, will also know that I am not your average, jumping, running, athletic type. To get back up to my cozy bed will be a long haul in the dark.

When a cow was found in the main road, not quite alive, my cow story became a murder mystery. Who killed the cow? I just want to state for the record that I was not involved in any way in this part of the story. As a matter of fact I had a firm alibi. The fact is that I really liked cows, up until the point that they trampled the remaining remnant of my blossoms not devoured by the goat mafia that terrorise my abode from time to time. So no, I wont hurt a cow.

cow4They say that when life deals you lemons, add gin and tonic and throw a party. So I have decided to stop being a cow-ard and make my “hide”-away a cow sanctuary. Bring your mother in law, send your ex, book in your boss who is making your life a misery…for that matter, send all the cows in your life and come and hang out at Ilifu! So what if I don’t have a prize garden, and if things are going a bit wild! We will figure out a way to make face masks from the abundant cow turds and biltong from the rest.

See you in paradise. Weather you are a cow or not. #paradiselife

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Ode to an unsung heroine


Elsa getting her St Patrick birthday choccie

Today is Elsa Steyn’s birthday. She is one of the many special angels in my life. Her superpower is her quiet, unassuming sense of selfless service. She quietly gets on with the job of always being there for everybody, never drawing attention to herself, seamlessly just doing what has to and does not have to be done, to make our village here in Hogsback a better place.

She has been running the www.hogsbackinfo.co.za site for years and years, where you not only can see all the accommodation establishments as well as interesting information about Hogsback, but can also do an enquiry which Elsa sends on to all of us. She has been doing this free of charge, updating data and keeping us all in the loop. She also helps me manage the Hogsback Facebook page and always make sure that whatever titbits needs to be on, gets placed there.

The #winter #hogsbackcelebration committee

The #winter #hogsbackcelebration committee

For the last however many years that Xmas in July has been held here in Hogsback, she has been making and co-ordinating the xmas hat making. I once had to make 100 hats as part of the effort, and believe me it was nogal an effort. She makes it seem like no effort at all. She is always there in the background, stealthily making everything happen while staying invisible.

Josef and Elsa on top of the world

Josef and Elsa on top of the world

If you need help, she and Josef are there. I can always count on her for sound advice and wisdom, although I should really, really, really listen to her more…..!

If I feel like a good cry, she is my go-to girl. No questions asked. No judgement. Just quiet, empathetic, healing presence.

She may be tiny in stature, but has a big, HUGE, HUMONGOUS heart. I am so privileged to call her my friend.

Happy birthday, dearest Elsa, we love you, and we see you. May this coming year be everything you wish for. May your family be blessed and healthy, and may God bless you and keep you!!!

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Mud slinging and thank you’s- another day in paradise

bAfter months of rain and more rain, Hogsback, as I have mentioned before, is completely water logged. This means my driveway has become an exciting, extreme sport, mud slide. I had to, over the last few weeks, on occasion give a few of my guests a push to get rid of them, as in getting them through the mud and out my driveway.

As I am blessed with a good solid car, aptly named Hogegina, I have, untill today, not had a problem sliding and slipping out of my driveway. I just put my foot flat, hold onto the steering wheel and try not to slide into my gate on the way out.

cToday, however, she decided to dig in her heels. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have not bothered washing her for quite a while. Why bother? One trip up my lane and she is once more covered in mud. So, on this bright and sunny morning, which has been a rarity in itself, I did my normal reverse and got ready for takeoff similarly to a plane coming to a complete halt just before official liftoff. Only, this time, there was not a sliver of traction. We were stuck, with our backside in a bush, facing the right way, but with no movement whatsoever.

At first I did not panic. I can do this. I have never been a stuck-in-the-mud. Nope, not my style.

dMy staff diligently appeared to come and lend a hand and by this time my paying guest also made a guest appearance to see what the commotion was all about. After placing the necessary re-enforcement in place around my tyres, I braced myself and my willing volunteers (guest included) positioned themselves to give me a push. Goooooo. Alas, no go. I tried this way and that, but it only resulted in Hoggegina’s arse sliding further into the hydrangeas, dangerously close to the edge, and my poor pushers having an early morning mud shower. I am looking forward to reading the raving guest review on trip adviser.

eSo, to make a long story short, I was, after all, a stuck in the mud. My dream of joining my neighbour for her birthday breakfast, was fast disappearing and I would have had to to un-order my pre-order and go and make my own breakfast. Bummer. As I opened the car door, I realised that my cutesie slipper boots were not going to deal well with the thick mud pool through which they would have had to shimmy. So I had a choice. Either I stay in the car till the sun bakes my driveway into a drivable state, which could take a few months, or I swallow my pride and yell for help on my local Hogsback village Whatsapp group and be the hossip of the day for days.

gWhich is what brings me to the moral of this story. There is no place like Hogsback. I love, love, did I mention…love, my village and in particular, the village people. Sure there will be hossipping about the way I go about rounding up the village guys to help me with a diverse range of calamities like …flat tyres (thanx Mike, Jeff and Fritz), putting the fire out in my bedroom (thanx Pete), a broken tumble dryer (thanx Nic), a burst geyser (thanx Wayne), bee extractions (thanx Mike and Shane) and various other household emergencies (thanx Mike and Jeff). If I haven’t mentioned you, it is not due to lack of gratitude, but rather a lack of memory, so sorry and thank you.

But today I have to yet again say thank you to Vincent. He has been there on numerous occasions rescue-ing me (and Santie) after a mini tornado, helping to dry up after my bedroom got flooded (that was not my fault) and pulling me out of the mud in record time. See the quick response time in the Whatsapp transcript. Big BIG BIGGG thank you! I even got to breakfast without my eggs or cappuccino getting cold. Again, big thank you!

So what can I say apart from thank you? Another day in paradise.

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Bees and gardens- another day in paradise

6After the gentle evacuation of the two meter bee colony in the roof of Jaap’s place, my cottage looked like world War 2. There was splatters of honey everywhere… On the floor….. On the walls…oozing from the gaping hole that was once a ceiling Sadly, lots of little dead bee soldiers died of heartbreak from losing their queen… Either that or they got stuck in the thick layer of honey that covered the walls and floors. I do know, however, that they were happily relocated to their new home at Tera khaya. Lukhanyo Shane Eades says that they are doing well over there and seems content and buzzing around in their new abode.

1So this morning I could not face the sticky carnage and left my staff to do a clean up operation while I go and join the garden club outing to the Shire Eco lodge in Stutterheim, were we were taken through a nursery with wondrous indigenous bulbs. There were lots of amazing… plants and trees and growing stuffies … Some which are very rare and take years and years to blossom. All I know is that it is inspiring to listen to someone who obviously loves what he does and have the patience of Job.

3My gardening knowledge has increased exponentially and I can now tell the difference between… a plant… and a tree… and maybe some of the weed looking thingemelings in my garden may just be a little treasure of a rare plant. One highlight of the excursion was sniffing a seed that smelled like heaven.

I must just mention that the main talking point was…. how hungry we all were as we viciously fought to get a taste of Jenny Newman’s sweeties that she tried to hide in her bag. Stutterheim turns out to be just as waterlogged as Hogsback and after our extensive plant tour, we perused the accommodation at the Shire Eco Lodge, which is truly charming and romantic.

As our tummies were getting the better of us, we moved along back to Stutterheim to a delightful little Bistro serving a unique bufet lunch of njammy quiche, curry, lasagne and salad, with a Malva pudding to finish off this well deserved feast. This was the perfect conclusion to a mellow morning of chatter and garden inspiration. All I can say is that it is definitely worth while joining the Hogsback garden club.


5When I give up my day job, I will most certainly start paying more attention to the finer details of garden nuances and maybe even get my hands dirty with sand. For now I am still totally intimidated by it all and am quite happy to allow my vast garden to enjoy the freedom of abundant growing (only curbed by the occasional goat trimming. This must be how my technophobe teachers feel about my high tech workshops! Luckily the Hogsback Garden Club happily allows garden-phobes like me to join in the flowery fun and are well known for fabulously marvelous social gatherings- something I can at least join in with, without getting my hands full of sand!

When I got home, a few lost bees were still trying to figure out what happened to their palace, but I spoke to them nicely and pointed them in the direction of their new home across the valley.

Thus come to a gentle end…..another day in paradise….

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Celebrating the value of (a) woman

Yesterday we had a high tea in Hogsback to celebrate the value of woman, all woman, but especially  one woman who has made an incredible difference in the lives of not just woman, but everyone on the mountain. Her name is Norma.

Norma stands for everything that is gentle, kind, generous, caring and worthy. She was the doctor here in Hogsback for many years, caring for the sick and running an AIDS outreach. Even after she finally retired (after her initial attempt at retirement to Hogsback), she still remains totally invested in our little village as part of the executive board for our local outreach, Jikani, and as part of our Chapel lay preachers and pianists, as  a friend, a wife and a mother to all.

I think Silke’s poem for Norma says it all:

For a text copy of Silke’s poem, download it from here: goo.gl/KgChgf 

Norma read to us the story of when God created woman to remind us of our biggest flaw….

So, Norma, on your 70th celebration month, we can only say that you mean the world to us and that we appreciate you more than you can imagine! As you did not want to be honoured with presents and accolades I would like to ask everybody I know to acknowledge you by making a donation to your hearts project, Jikani (www.jikani.com) at the following banking details:

Acc name: Jikani
Acc No: 62391132075
Branch: fort Beaufort / 210419
Reference: 70th




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Very very funny

Every now and again a really funny story cross my path  so this time I have to thank Hannelie for sharing this….

Bored at Walmart

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Walmart. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women – she loves to browse.

Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Walmart

Dear Mrs. Woolf,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Woolf, are listed below and are “documented by our video surveillance cameras”:

1. June 15: He took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-
minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the
women’s restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official
voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’. This caused the
employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted in management getting involved causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to reserve a bag of

6. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the
children shoppers they could come in if they would bring pillows and
blankets from the bedding department – to which twenty children

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began
crying and screamed, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’
Emergency Medics were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the Sports department, he
asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the Store suspiciously while loudly
humming the ‘ Mission Impossible’ theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his ‘Madonna look’ by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed
through, yelled ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

14. October 22: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed the fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!

15. Took a box of condoms to the checkout clerk and asked where the fitting room was.

And last, but not least:

16. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited
awhile, and then yelled very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in
here.’ One of the Staff passed out.

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Home Alone

If you are hoping for Home Alone 5, this is not it. If you are feeling a fleeting Siestog, this is not it either. This is a realization of freedom and contentment that I have only now, in the middle of this reflective Pause, allowed myself to writelise , sitting in bed in my pajamas looking out into the cozy cuddly mist wafting past my bedroom window.

I have not been Home Alone much. As a matter of fact, I have not been home much really this year.

This year has been a whirlwind of busy-ness and travel to all my favourite training spaces and places with my favourite people, teachers, and my grand babies (the Boeboe Bunch and Smurfie boo). Until before this brief Pause, I could count on my one hand weekends when I did not have wonderful guests, friends and family sharing my paradise space with me. So Home Alone is kind of a foreign concept to me, one which I thought would not appeal to the social butterfly in me. I was so wrong.

Being wrong and making mistakes is starting to trend in education, as we can learn so much more from being wrong than being right. In politics and the world, living wrong has become the new right and learning from past mistakes is not PC (politically correct). So it is with surprise that I found my Home Alone Pause as feeling so right. No guilt about staying in bed. No guilt about getting back to my (new home) office to tie up loose ends. No guilt about tackling the rest of my spring cleaning spaces. No guilt about getting to go and say hi to mountain friends I have not said hi to yet. No guilt about having to have a ball. And no guilt about having this Home Alone liberating feeling all by myself. I know for a fact that there are those (who will remain nameless) who will feel envious, even resentful, of this Home Alone freedom and just for today I won’t feel guilty about this great gift.

It is always a good thing to find a Pause in which to reflect back. I can just visualize my teachers rolling their eyes as I have been forcing them to reflect, reflect , reflect (I will be collecting Memoires next year!!). What worked? What did not work? How can I improve? #Ict4red #ict4redttt #tpd4dml #life

So my reflection for this year is this: Everything worked. I worked. Hard. Everything did not work. Not all the time. That was okay too. I hope I learned. Can I improve? Of course I can. I can be a better daughter, a better sister, a better mother, a better grand mother (although I feel pretty confident about this one) and a better friend. I can moan less. Definitely moan a lot less!!! No more goat inspired meltdowns and more goat stews next year, for sure!

What stands out for me this year?

1The miracles. So many miracles. Big and small, but mainly big. My son survived a devastating crash. Friends battled and conquered the big C. The miracles of life and death. And the miracle of prayer. This year, even more than previous years, I became more aware of the miracle of prayer and God’s amazing love. Even in the middle of intense sadness and loss, God was there, with His rainbow of hope.

If I want to improve anything for next year, I would like to pray more. Spend more time Home Alone in prayer, praying for those who struggle with terrible addictions, loss, loneliness, rejection and emptiness which only God can fill. Sometimes we (I) are so busy winning over the world that we forget about spending time with God in our Home Alone spaces. Next year I am definitely going to make more Home Alone time with God.

Kitty kat is giving me that #youarenotHomeAloneiamhereandiamhungry look.Zena the kitty kat One of my things to do next year is to teach her how to make me coffee and add #selffeeding to her #selfcleaning skills. And I am also going to use less #hashtags and more #hugtags, which can only be done in real life (as opposed to virtually) and preferably in Hugsback.

So, now that I have done my reflective Home Alone Pause, let me sommer wish everybody a very blessed Christ-filled Christmas and a joyous New Year full of numerous memorable Home Alone moments!!!

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Saved from death by Grace

1I have not yet reflected on my miracle that God so graciously has afforded me, so this morning, as we celebrate God sacrificing His son, it is really appropiate to look back on what has happened to my son, Bertie, exactly a month ago today.

Any mother dread that phone call, late at night. That calm voice telling you to stay calm and that your son has been in a head on collision, that 2 people died, and that even though they are waiting for the paramedics and the jaws of life to get him out of the car, that he is talking and that everybody is there with him, praying for him. Thank you Keme for that calm voice.

The strange thing is that I woke up 20 minutes earlier, wide awake, remembering that I did not lock my car, got up, locked my car and got back into bed. That was the exact time of the accident.

My son was on his way back from a cell group meeting and took the tar road home. He stays on the farm out in Tarlton and the road in question has often made me say a quiet prayer for my children travelling on it often. It is narrow, the shoulders are ever eroding and visibility late at night has made it a death trap with many crosses next to the road paying tribute to loved ones lost.

As he was travelling, a car with 2 people pass a lorry and did not see that the widening road shoulder abruptly come to a close (no signage) and hit the gravel which made them swerve right into Bert. Right into him. They hit him full on, right were he was sitting, at speed. And this is where God’s grace kicked in.

He should have been dead. Even the paramedics who attended the scene and reported the accident to the newspapers did not hold up much hope. But God had another plan for his life. He planned a miracle.

The miracle started with a cell group friend driving behind him on that dark night, on that lonely dangerous road, seeing the accident unfold and calling paramedics and everybody else. He was surrounded by a cover of prayer almost from the very first moment.

I phoned and contacted all my prayer warriors and our prayer was this:

That he will live. That not a bone in his body will be broken and that he will heal completely. In the name of Jesus. Who died for us on a cross so that we may live. Amen.

My prayer warrior sister (who spend years praying for 17349871_10155254654919994_6272353677427187451_ome and keeping me in grace, while I was “living it up”)  kept me company on the phone the whole night. I got the same message ( even the same verse) from all my prayer warrior friends. That I must not worry. That God has a great plan for his life.

Everything from the moment of the accident is testimony to God’s grace and mercy in my and my son’s life. Him being surrounded by his family and prayer warriors. Getting to the right surgeon at just the right time.

He spend more than a week in ICU. It was hard to see him there. Everyday a struggle, but everyday a weak smile.  On this day that we celebrate God sacrificing His son for our sins, I really, really understand, maybe for the first time, what that must have meant. And I am so grateful.

It is now exactly a month later and he has been back at work for a few hours everyday. He has no broken bones, he is walking. He has bruises and a long zipper across his tummy to remind him of God’s grace. But he will heal. Completely.

So don’t tell me that I don’t have a powerful God. A merciful God. A God who will even go as far as to sacrifice His own son so that we may live. So today Lord, I am so thankful. I am saved from death by your grace alone.

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Die kat kom weer

Zena the catSo I am at it again. Trying to share my life with a little furry life-force that will bring some purr-power into my paradise home. And the darling Village People are already starting to bet on how I am going to pull this one off. I did not have such a good start. But tomorrow is another day!!!!!

Lyndsay convinced me, against my better judgement, to adopt her son’s cat due to their relocation to faraway shores. As I love my neighbour dearly and as I have been missing some furry company since my last unsuccessful attempt at furring my house, I decided to give it a go again. On condition (I am just putting it here in writing) that she will come and look after her furry grandchild when I go a-travelling.

So yesterday was the big cat fetching day. All good. Cat survived the trip up to Hogsback. Still good. We had a fantastic purry furry evening of bonding and kitty settled in at the bottom of the bed as if she has been living with me all her life. Really good. OKay she did wake me up a few times during the night attempting to go outside to go and do her business only to find that that was a no-go and had to …..eventually….settle for the sand box. All still relatively good.

Today, however,…. was a less good day. The gardener fetched the shed key and left the door open. Kitty jubilantly made a bee-line out the door and disappeared into the bushes with me in my pajamas in panicked pursuit. To no avail. Really bad actually as when I returned to my front door after an unsuccessful search party, I found that it has slammed locked and to top it all, the jail lock was on. This meant that not even getting the spare key could get me back into my house and the back door had a key in which meant that I could really not get into my house. Really really bad. Breaking into my house involved some heavy machinery and even more spectacular gymnastics, but I am glad to report that I managed to get back in before my paying guests could see me in my pajamas. I can just imagine the review on Airbnb.Zena

In the interest of ending this story on a good note, I am glad to report that as I sat in the lounge crying and praying, I looked up, and there she was, strolling in as if she just went for a gentle little forest stroll. So as the saying goes, die kat kom weer. And let’s hope that she will be staying as I am nogal looking forward to us getting old together.

I said last week that I want to start recording all the wonderful everyday miracles that God entertain me with. So, thank you Lord for my cat miracle. As I sit here writing this, Zena is editing my typing and agreeing purrily……it was a good day after all!

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heb11-1It seems like God is currently taking me on a theme of HOPE . It is kind of weird as I look around me and and can actually see a sense of hopelessness. All the #mustfall uprisings is slowly robbing us of our peace and joy and #hopemustfall seems to be the quite acceptable. Then problem is, fear follows closely behind where there is no hope. And questions. Where is God? Why is He allowing all this to happen?

So this morning God reminded me of why I have hope.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
1 Pe 3:15 NKJV http://bible.com/114/1pe.3.15.NKJV

So to quote Job, who in the midst of all his misery and problems , still had hope:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
Job 19:25 NKJV http://bible.com/114/job.19.25.NKJV

So how do I know?

I know. I know God’s grace has gifted me with indisputable evidence that surpasses my cynicism, my conventional wisdom and my questioning mind. I found that #knowing in a personal miracle. I found that #knowing in quiet time with God. I found it in the midst of my problems and fears. Especially there! .

To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.
Heb 11:1 GNB http://bible.com/296/heb.11.1.GNB

So today I live in hope. I banish #hopemustfall in the name of my Saviour, Jesus. I know that #christhasrisen and that #fearmustfall.

Now, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below — there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:37?-?39 GNB

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