Sunday 13th July
I half expected to have difficulty retrieving the photos from the Compact Disks (as I failed on Friday evening) however eventually my man at the Internet cafe persuaded the disk to release its contents. However the other issue is removing the images from my camera. I am very keen on using 'green' technology (which is probably why I subconciously decided not to pack the mains battery charger.) As stated previously my batteries were now flat. So throwing my principles to the wind I bought a couple of “Extra High Power” batteries from the shop next to 'Tooters'. I confidently inserted them into my camera but could only manage a faint red light when I switched on! So plan B was to recharge the batteries by placing them where I had a chance of spotting anyone taking too much interest. Well I tried yesterday and succeeded in recovering the first few photos. Today with only 2 or 3 hours in the sun the batteries didn't quite make it! However, fear not, I will have the photos retrieved before long and they will be winging their way back to the UK in no time.
Last week I was surprised, and a little concerned, by the lack of people at the chapel for mass. This week it was packed very tight! The new nursing students have arrived and today a newly ordained priest was celebrating his first mass at the chapel. So we had a bit more singing, drumming and dancing than usual. It is good to see people having such fun in church. Even the sparrows joined in the singing and flitted from beam to beam during the service. The young woman next to me in the pews had a warm blanket over her lap which I assumed was because it is currently cold here. (I have to ask people whether it is cold or not because I have lost the ability to tell. I haven't felt the need for a jumper for a week or so and I drink tea in the hottest weather. Here however it is still sometimes too hot for coffee, but to cold not to wear a coat.) anyway half way through the service from the blanket emerged a small child as if bursting from a chysalis.
After mass I called into the children's ward to see how Selina was doing. I found her fast asleep and Jennipher and Soloman were nowhere to be seen, so after saying bye to a couple of other little friends I seem to have acquired, I returned home. I wasn't surprised when Jennipher turned up soon after – they don't need CCTV in Monze to know where I have been! We had a drink and looked through some of the photos that Jennipher had taken in previous years and I showed her the short video clip of Selina and Chimunya dancing. I will have to make sure that she has some photos of Chimunya so that they can help Salina with her memories. Winston's Wish (a UK charity working with bereaved children) has seen how important it is for children to keep things that remind them of the important person who has died. When Dilys came over in 2006 she found that these ideas are just as relevant here as they are in the UK.
John popped in briefly – even though midday, it was coffee today! His well is still apparently not properly sorted. Maybe one day I will visit his home near Water Affairs and assess the situation for myself.- last year I became very confused!!
I decided that it was time to meet up with my friends from St. Veronica's Small Christian Community. Last week they didn't meet because they were attending a funeral. I found out today that it was one of our community members. The lady in question used to sell sweet potatoes in the market very close to my current home. I had wondered why when I went to pick up my potatoes that my favourite seller didn't appear and insist that I bought from her. I am sad that she is no longer around and had I known I would have wanted to attend her funeral. Another member of the Community died at the beginning of the month, so this has been a bit of a blow.
It was good to see more of my friends. During the past couple of weeks I have met quite a number from the Community around the town and as usual I meet many who seem to know me very well but I am having difficulty placing them.
My cooking is not very imaginative at the moment. I have two large pans – so I generally use one for frying and the other boiling. The pans are also my kettle at the moment – so they are in constant demand. I bought a nice piece of steak which I am working my way through but tonight it was sausages with aubergine and rice (plus of course the obligatory onions and tomatoes!)
Wednesday 16th July
Another four days and another birthday. I have made four attempts to send the birthday card via the Internet today but have been thwarted at each attempt. I hope that George will forgive me.
It is interesting to pass through the market late or early in the morning before the stalls are set out – living next to the market this year I have ample opportunity for observing it at these times. The bare market stalls are mainly made from small branches of trees and sticks fixed together to form a platform for the goods and larger branches used to form a canopy. Either plastic sheets or empty maize bags, opened and sewn together are used both for the canopy and the display shelf (there is generally only one). Earlier this week I was fascinated to see a stall that I hadn't noticed before. The lady in charge of it was selling dried beans, some onions and some rice. But what fascinated me was the effort that she had put in to display all the different coloured beans in broad rows, using folds in the maize sacks to separate them. At the front are the large bags of beans and measuring tubs which she uses for selling the goods – the rest is just presentation. Of course by now all will be packed away again and tomorrow morning she will again set out her stall.
Each area of the market has its own character and generally sells its own type of product. There are a few stalls that I pass each day selling shoes or clothes. Each morning I meet the sellers with there metal trunks preparing to extract their wares once more and sittting hoping someone will buy. I suspect that each night they replace almost everything that they take out in the morning. I believe that there is a building somewhere in the market where all the trunks are stored overnight. I hav no doubt that wheelbarrows will be the preferred form of transport.
I met Selina outside the operating theatre on Monday waiting for her dislocated shoulder to be replaced. I met her again later in the day and she wasn't a happy girl! (This is unique in my experience of Selina) She had been told that in fact her arm was broken close to the shoulder and she would have to be in traction for 3 weeks! For a 5 year old that is indeed torture. Good to say her smile has returned but to be confined in a hospital bed with your arm above your head for two weeks (the estimate has reduced a little) is still not good news.
Power has become rather less stable of late! On Monday we lost power for abour 3 ½ hours between 18hrs and 21.30. In the end I abandoned the thought of cooked food and settled for a peanut and cucumber salad, with a good helping of raw onions and tomatoes to help the digestion!! Yesterday I avoided a repeat menu, as power returned at 20.20. I am now getting used to showering by candlelight but I am still grateful to have a shower – and, at the moment, hot water! On Monday I decided that I should take advatage of the power cut to observe the stars but had forgotten that the moon was just beyond a half and here that means that it is much lighter outside than in and therefore very few stars were visible. I am always fascinated by the strength of the moon shadow. Tonight the moon is close to full and will provide plenty of light to see by.Yes I am once again working by candlelight! I am also grateful that I have the laptop and the battery will keep me going for a couple of hours.
I am slowly getting into my little project at the hospital but the days are already flying. I need to try to get myself organised better and see in what other areas I might be able to assist.
On Monday evening I received an unexpected phone call from Dilys. She rang to say that her sister Elaine had been found dead in the house in the morning. This of course was a tremendous shock. Elaine suffered a heart attack a few years back and had major heart surgery. At one point it looked as if she wouldn't survive and they had to halt the operation in the middle (she spent a week or so with her chest open). Anyway she gained strength and the operation was concluded and she was brought out of the coma. She seemed to recover fully and has led a normal life for the past few years and now suddenly it seems that her time has come. None of us know just when our days on earth are ended but I am sure that this life is only a prelude to something far more wonderful. I pray that Elaine will join with the many others I have known and be enjoying that new world. Before I left England the dragonflies were busy emerging from their dark lives at the bottom of the pond – the only world they had previously known – to be given wings to enjoy the beauty of the sunshine above. I think we too will be in for a wonderful surprise when we discover what is in store for us.
I came to know and grow very fond of Elaine over the years, she has an amzing sense of design and her house was like something from a catalogue or one of the infamous makeover TV programmes, though she made it very much a home. Though our lives were very different we would often talk frankly about how we lived and what we thought and we shared a great interest in each others views and ideas. Elaine was a mother and grandmother and will be greatly missed by her family. Elaine was a good friend and I will also miss her.