Saturday, March 23, 2013

Almost On Our Way!!

All of you who know, we'll soon be visiting you in person, not just virtually.  Please keep us in your prayers for safe flights for Mary and me, as well as safe driving for Tom between Ndola and Chingola tomorrow!  He won't have two extra sets of eyes to watch the road.

Golfing at Nchanga Golf Club

We have been golfing here in Chingola at the Nchanga Golf Club.  It happens to form the back property line for this house.  Here are Tom and Mary with our house behind at the 6th hole.  We know because the tall narrow pine in the background is just inside our neighbor's yard.  The building visible on the left side is the clubhouse.

Below are a few more pictures from today's game, including the monkeys.  These are the same ones who frequent our yard.

The peanut gallery ... The most frustrating part of our game was eliminated when we decided not to employ the caddies.  Unfortunately today the golfers behind us had caddies who felt compelled to walk ahead of the golfers, and come right up to where Mary and I were hitting.  Just another instance of feeling like we are specimens in the zoo, and something to stare at.  At least we weren't paying them to do the same thing.

The course is nice.  There are nice wide fairways, some interesting dog-legs, lots of water hazards, and plenty of sand bunkers to keep it interesting.  When we lose a ball, rather than hunt in the surrounding dense foliage, we leave it to the monkeys or caddies to find.  It is not worth getting up close and personal to the spiders and snakes.  Tom calls it strategic advertising.  So far we've left behind some Fortune Minerals, CNN, and several other balls from Tom's travels in Canada.

We attempted a game a week ago, but were rained and bugged out.  Tom stuck it out, after the rain abated, but Mary and I headed home to get away from the gnats and flies.  The nice thing about the way this course is laid out, we have several options to trim holes, or just golf a short game with easy access back to the clubhouse and parking lot.

Did I mention the price?  To join the club we paid ZMW200 ($38) per month, a full year at a time.  Since their fiscal year begins in August, we paid a prorated amount.  Each game the greens fees are ZMW10 ($2), except on Saturday there fee jumps to a whopping ZMW30 ($6) each.  Mary gets to golf for free.  You can easily see this is not a rich man's sport here.  For about $900 we can virtually have unlimited golf.

March 8 we also played, and remembered to bring the camera  ... 

Remember, Mary golfs as a leftie, otherwise this would be very odd:

This is one of several storm shelters on the course.  Until we had to duck into one last weekend we thought the roofs were metal.  They are actually a concrete product.  Inside there will be found remnants of fires, likely from guards or people working on installing the new waterline crossing the entire course.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gadgets I Have Come to Rely On!

I am a person who enjoys cutting vegetables with a good sharp knife.  Tom, on the other hand, loves his gadgets and machines.  The Food Processor I received several Christmas' ago was more for him than me.  Don't get me wrong.  I used it, and I did grow to love using it.  Nothing makes pastry dough quite as nice as a processor.

Since moving here we have gathered a few more "gadgets" .. but no food processors.

This is our latest addition.  We had looked for one in Lusaka, and finally we discovered this one on our last shopping trip to the Kitwe Pick'n Pay.  It pops a very small batch, but Mary can now enjoy freshly popped corn.

Tom looked askance at me when I wanted to buy this on our Lusaka shopping trip back in December.  I persisted, and now I think he agrees ... completely worth the cost.  This crock cooker is the only way to tenderize meat ... right now I'm cooking a tenderloin with onions, garlic and tomatoes for dinner.

Nice pineapple .. but that white thing next to it is a bread machine.  If we want fresh bread, and not have to worry about finding ants in the rising dough ... you use a bread machine.  It works great, though with the extra humidity here we have had to cut way back on the amount of yeast!

This is a "sorta" food processor, but for grinding meat.  The local ground beef is called "mince meat."  Most stores sell their own version, but we are just a bit untrusting and squeamish.  We prefer to grind our own.  The additional plus is that we avoid the "additives" the store includes to extend the shelf life.  (double yuck)

I've written about our water filters in previous posts.  These are an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.  I would give all the other gadgets up, but not these beauties!!!  See the ceramic?  This is 4 days after cleaning.  About a week ago I had to scrape bright orange clay off!!  The water is, ahem, just a "bit" turbid.  The town has been "improving" the water supply system.  I have serious doubts that there is any water treatment before the river water is pumped to the town.  And unfortunately the majority of the pipes going into and within this house are likely well over 70 years old.

Our routine is now to pour tap water into the filter on the right, then pour that filtered water into the blue British Berkfeld on the left.  The two tall candles in the BB are ceramic candles impregnated with silver.  The final water lacks that distinctive Chingola "taste."

Not really a gadget, but this is a great drying rack.  The two sides fold out for more space.  This is pictured in the smallest bedroom.  We converted it to the drying/ironing room.

And the tumble dryer.  For me, an absolute must.  I simply did not want to, or want to have Josephine iron all our clothes to avoid impregnation by the putsi fly larvae.  Plus, given that we live in a smelter town the air is not clean, the outside clothes lines are rusted metal wires, putsi flies love wet cloth for propagating, and WE HAVE MONKEYS!!!

In order to use the drying inside the exhaust is directed outside through a close-by window.  The hardest thing to remember is to close the window each night so mosquitos and migrating termites don't come in.  The window is screened, but not with a fine mesh.  It does manage to KEEP OUT THE MONKEYS though!

And finally for this tour of our African home gadgets the washing machine.  It is located outside the main house in the "laundry room."  This one has some interesting features.  One is that you can opt to have the load do a final spin for either 15 or 30 minutes.  That effectively removes most of the moisture, and lessens the time needed for machine or flat drying.  Another feather is "Fuzzy" load setting.  After placing a load in, the machine "measures" the load (supposedly detecting the level of dirty), then adjusts the amount of water accordingly.  Of course, what the machine doesn't determine is the level of dirty water being used to wash the clothes!!!  As for the other settings?  I do not enjoy doing laundry enough to even wonder about them.  I am simply grateful that we have a washing machine so Josephine does not need to hand wash everything in the outside laundry room sink.

The variety of brands is interesting:  Sunbeam, Bosch, Samsung, Phillips, Daliff, Salton ...  Our cooker (range to you all) is Defy, a South African brand and the new chest freezer we bought is a Midea, another South African brand.

Latest Project

Recall me telling you we have the world's largest rain gauge in the south 40?  Tom decided a week ago it was time to get it drained.  The water was up to this height when he started, can you see the filter?

Here is a close-up:

We tied the end of our "hose pipe" (garden hose to most of you) to a brick, lowering it into the deepest part of the pool.  Then Tom turned on the faucet, ran in water, and once a steady flow was established, he quickly unhooked the end from the faucet, and ran it down hill.  The suction was going quite well.  We connected another "hose pipe" and ran it further into the back 40 .. and it is still going, though just a trickle today.  Of course, it almost feels like as quick as it is siphoning, fresh rainstorms are refilling it.  But we are winning:

Lovely water .. doesn't it just make you want to jump in for a swim?  Kidding.  Until last week KCM had a pool service company come by an dump in chlorine powder to keep the  mosquito population at bay. 

Here is the hosepipe trailing out of the pool and down to the back of the yard:

Looking back up to the pool
And back toward the house form that same place.

And finally, back toward the pool to try to give you an idea of how much drop we had.  Of course, given that the pool is well over 8' deep at the siphon end, we are swiftly approaching the end point.  Once that happens we "hope" that KCM sends a crew to pump out the remaining water, clean out all the muck left behind, scrape and paint the interior.  And "hopefully" when we return the end of May we'll have a real swimming pool to enjoy.  

Did I mention that Zambia is a land of "hope?"    

First Day of Autumn!!

Yes, even though all of "you" get to enjoy spring .. we counted down to the middle of our autumnal equinox.

I last wrote that the rain seemed to have stretched between storms.  Okay, call me silly ... that's okay.

The rains are still with us.  Both yesterday and today we started with beautiful blue skies and warmth.  Yesterday afternoon it began to pour, off and on through the evening.  Right now (about 3:30 pm) the sun has been obscured by fluffy clouds.  So who knows?  It might rain, it might not.  (it is now 4:40 pm .. I am slow posting and it has just begun to rain.)

Update on the garden(s):

So far we have enjoyed two mini salads from our mesclun mix.  The onions, spinach and broccoli all grew a bit, then died back.  Radishes grew funny .. long and slender, quite a bite eating them.  The monkeys have enjoyed pulling them out.  So far they are leaving the lettuce and marigold plants alone.  Not so with the bean plants by the pool fence.  Gone, gone, gone.  oh, well.  It "is" the first day of Fall here.  And the carrots and radishes we planted earlier?  one word .. monkeys

We discovered this stuff:

After tracing a powdery path around the patio, no ants!  Worked great.  (wonder, do they make a monkey repellant?)  Too bad we weren't told earlier.  However, that is often the best way to learn.  Locals would say that we lack common sense . and I would agree.  What is common to them is not common to us.  It will be good for me to remember that the next time I am tempted to lose patience with someone who doesn't seem to "get it."

Sunday Mary and I begin the trek back to the US.  We begin with a late afternoon flight via ProFlight from Ndola to Lusaka.  Then a 3 hour or so layover and about 9:30 pm we get on an Emirates flight to Dubai, arriving there about 6:30 am.  After we search for the Paul Patisserie (linked in case you want to find one in the USA)  I can't wait for a good cup of latte and French pastry!  Then we get back on board Emirates and fly over the "top of the world" and to Houston.

Today we needed to let our domestic help know about altering their work schedule.  It works well for them, with just a Monday - Wednesday - Friday schedule.  They will need to come early, before Tom leaves for work, but they are finished by noon when he comes back to the house for lunch.

Our housekeeper, Josephine, looked silently disturbed until Tom reassured both Richard and Josephine that we were still paying full wages.  The weight of the world literally fell from her shoulders.  By having Tom opening and closing up the house, it clears them (or hopefully doesn't implicate them) if anything goes missing.  All a matter of eliminating the occasion for temptation.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ants ...

Ants here come in a huge variety of sizes.  While we have not yet seen any as large as the carpenter ants found in the mountain areas of Nevada and Colorado, the one in the back yard are quite large.  Size, though, does not dictate aggressiveness.  In fact, we have found that the small ones can become, quickly, the most frightening.

It all began on Wednesday around noon.  Tom made it home for lunch, and as soon as he was leaving the house we spied a huge swarm of ants on the front planters.  They were munching on live grasshoppers.  As we looked closer, it became a living horror picture!  There was a column, well over 1" wide moving down the gutter pictured behind the planter here:

This is the front door, and where we could see ants swarming up the walls, and beginning to come into the vestibule:

Tom made the mistake of stepping over the planter onto this grassy area to get a better idea of what was going on.  What he didn't realize until his shoes were covered with ants is that the column was only going into and out of the grass.  The entire grass was swarming with ants.

We tracked them back out to the sidewalk that goes past Mary's bedroom window.  They were coming out of several holes .. it was truly frightening.

Tom emailed as soon as he got to the office, and the KCM Hygiene unit came out and sprayed.  By the time they arrived I had already used up a can of creepy, crawly bug spray to keep them from going further into the vestibule.  The man spraying, though, was still gettin

And no, there are not ants visible to the eye in these photos.  They were taken today.  Quite honestly, the thought "I'll grab the camera" was not what came to me when we saw all the activity.

And as far as the ants in the backyard?  They have grown much, much worse.  Our gardener was getting covered just by standing on the grass by the pool.  

Fortunately, early in the morning they are dormant, when we take the walk down to see how much the "rain gauge" has risen over night.


Last post today (then it is time for Algebra, Geometry, etc.)

The flowers here still continue to amaze me.

Roses by the front door.

Tiger lilies along the walkway around the front of the house.

They are all volunteers, except for this planter out front.  We purchased the palm trees from a roadside vendor back in December.  The flowers are new, and were purchased from one of the plant sellers just outside of town.   

In the backyard are all these beauties: