Author Archives: scifihammy

About scifihammy

A look at the lighter side of life - from the Other Down Under

Study in Yellow

Cape White Eye 1

Haiku 208

Little Cape White Eye

Blending in the setting sun

Camouflage technique

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While I was sitting outside under the Eugenia tree late one afternoon having a cup of tea, I heard a commotion going on in the yellow honeysuckle. There was a lot of twittering and the branches were shaking as birds flitted about. I grabbed my camera to take a few shots.

My little Canon camera does not do too well in low light, which explains the lack of clarity, but you can still distinguish the birds.

Sunbird 1

I could see a male Sunbird sipping nectar from the flowers and assumed the bird with him was the female. The Sunbird’s iridescent colours were not showing in this light and he appeared dark, until sunlight caught his feathers.

Sunbird 2

It was only later, on looking at the photos, that I realised the bird keeping watch above him from the grape vines was this little Cape White Eye.

Cape White Eye 2

The tiles on the roof are actually a brick red (or they were at one time!) but appear yellow, because the lengthening rays of the early evening sun cast this gorgeous glow.

You can see this effect, as well as both birds, in the photo below.

Cape White Eye and Sunbird

Well, nothing earth-shattering. Just a moment captured in time and a glimpse into the wonderful nature here in my own back garden.

 

Two Turtle Doves

Two Turtle Doves 1

Haiku 207

Two turtle doves and

A squirrel in a pear tree

It looks like Christmas!

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Two Turtle Doves 2

I’ve been putting food out for the doves and squirrels regularly this winter. I place a small pile of seed on top of an upturned tub and the birds happily peck away there.

When Sparky the squirrel comes, he chases the birds away and eats whatever he wants, undisturbed.

Sparky the Squirrel

He’d just chased these two Cape Turtle Doves off their food and I felt sorry for them, so scattered some seed on the ground by my garden chair. They quickly came to peck up the seeds, hence the reasonable close ups!

Two Turtle Doves 3

Cape Turtle Doves are quite large, grey and have that distinctive black neck band. We also get the smaller Laughing Doves; more colorfully pink and without the neck band. I like that there are so many different birds that choose to frequent my little garden. It makes for very entertaining coffee breaks!

 

Close Up

Plumbago 1

Haiku 206

Delicate petals

Sparkling with morning dew drops

Diamond encrusted

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Plumbago 2

Just playing around with my new camera phone, Samsung Galaxy A50.

Plumbago 3

It’s got a great close-up feature, Live Focus, that produces shots like the above, with minimal skill on my part!

 

Babies!

Toadstools 1

Haiku 205

Some fun in the sun

Or magicked out of thin air?

Baby solar lamps

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Toadstools 2

Seems my solar lamps have been getting up close and personal.

Look at the little babies they’ve made!

Now some of you may insist that these are actually Toadstools!

What can I say?

It is Day 120 of Lockdown here and we’re all going a little stir crazy.

So why not a Daft Friday?

 

Anticipation!

Camellia Bud 1

Haiku 204

Camellia Buds

Branches laden with bounty

Anticipation!

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Camellia Bud 2

It may be the middle of winter here in Cape Town, but this is the time of year that my Camellia really flourishes.

Camellia Bud 3

I’ve recently posted a photo of a large camellia flower, but the buds are enormous too –

Camellia Bud 4

Already weighing down the branches, even before turning into those massive flowers.

Camellia Bud 5

In between the severe Cape winter storms, these sunny days are idyllic.

Camellia Bud 6

And my large Camellia bush is a very welcome splash of pink in the green garden.

 

Cheers Y’All!

Vodka!

Haiku 203

To drink or not drink

That is the burning question

Apparently not!

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We had a severe Lockdown at the start of the Corona pandemic in March, here in South Africa. At Level 5 we were not allowed out to exercise and many things were not for sale; including alcohol.

Level 4 provided some easement of the restrictions and we were allowed to exercise between 6 am and 9 am. Still no alcohol.

Finally Level 3 arrived on 1st June, bringing further easing; more freedom to exercise and more things for sale. Alcohol was permitted again. Hooray!

We quickly replenished our stocks of alcohol and relaxed a bit.

As can be seen from the photo above, I went a little overboard with my vodka purchase, but I can explain!

Obviously, there were long queues outside the booze shops once alcohol was on sale again, so I waited a few days before going. As I queued for my turn to enter the shop I saw notices stating there were limits on what you could buy. I selected a few bottles of whiskey for my husband and then went looking for my vodka. The shelf was bare! But I did find one plastic bottle right at the back, so put that in my basket.

Heading for the check out, I suddenly came across a shelf stacked full of glass bottles of Smirnoff vodka. Yay! I asked a shop assistant how many bottles of spirits I could take. She said, “You can have one!” I looked at the three whiskeys in my basket already and repeated to her, “I can only have one?”

“No,” she said, “You can have what you want!” Honestly, no-one can hear a thing anyone says in masks!!

And that’s how I ended up with so many!!

Just as well I over-stocked as it turns out, because –

Without warning, alcohol was banned again last Sunday night. There was no chance to stock up.

Now we are back to eking out our supplies until it’s legal again.

Other measures were also put in place, such as a curfew again, between 9 pm and 4 am. Taxis (most of ours are mini buses holding many people, which function as buses) can now run at 100% capacity for short distances and 70% for long distances. They are going on the theory that you can sit in a confined space for a short time and not catch the virus! Also gatherings of up to 49 people are now allowed for religious practices, and – get this – casinos!

So we can go gambling, but we’re still not allowed to see family members.

Why all the ups and downs with alcohol?

Some people abuse alcohol, causing an increase in drunk-related casualties and violence. The hospitals become overrun with alcohol-related cases, taking up doctors’ time and beds that could have been used for Corona cases. Sad but true.

So the majority of us have to do without our sun-downers, because of the irresponsible behaviour of a few.

Our severe Lockdown measures at the start of Corona in SA curbed the spread, giving us time to build extra hospitals and make other preparations for dealing with the pandemic.

Now, however, the numbers are rising at an alarming rate, despite all the mandatory wearing of masks and hand sanitizing. There are just too many people living in densely populated areas.

Today’s Corona Stats for South Africa –

Confirmed cases: 324221; Recovered: 165591; Deaths: 4669

Still, the death rate in SA is quite low compared to other countries. For example, though our total number of cases has now exceeded that of the UK, our death rate is only 10% of theirs, and we have the same number of total cases as Mexico, but only 12.5% of their deaths.

Also, because misery likes company, we are now having power cuts again! Of course we are. It is mid-winter, the Cape has just been battered by violent storms and there is snow on the mountains. Why would you need electricity to make a cuppa?

The power cuts are scheduled, so at least you know what time you’ll have yours. It is called Load shedding and naturally we have levels for that too.

But you may as well laugh about it all, as South Africans are wont to do. We are at Level 3 Lockdown and there’s a meme where our President says, “My fellow South Africans, we are going to Stage 2 . . . of Load shedding!”

And another meme which says, “I can’t believe it’s Load shedding season already. I still have my Covid-19 decorations up!”

However, like the rest of you, I’m fed up of 2020 already!

 

Blue Skies

Blue Skies and Cape Bulbul

Haiku 202

Nothing but blue skies

And chirpy little Bulbul

On sleeping grape vines

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I was wandering round the garden with my new cell phone, taking pictures of flowers and stuff to familiarise myself with the camera.

I was snapping away at my yellow honeysuckle when I heard a determined twittering coming from overhead.

I pointed my camera upwards and clicked.

Luckily, before he flew off, I captured this cheeky little Cape Bulbul, sitting in the winter grape vines and telling me to get lost!

Though he’s not quite in focus, I’m showing the photo here because of that blue, blue sky!

And I know I’ve said it before, some years ago in I see Skies of Blue, but obviously it still bothers me, so I’ll say it again.

As a teenager at school in England, I always painted my skies this deep blue colour. My art teacher, who didn’t like me or my work, criticised yet another of my humble efforts, squashing any artistic dreams I might have had, when she briefly glanced at my “work of art” and said, “You don’t get skies that colour!”

Well, Ma’am, “Yes you do!”

Over here, most days, all day, the sky is resoundingly this marvellous deep clear blue. And my blue wasn’t even as deep as in the above untouched photo!

The thing that bugs me is how teachers back then often totally crushed any individuality or creativity in you.

I mean, it was a painting for Pete’s sake. Why couldn’t the sky have been green, had I so chosen?

 

To see how blue the sky really was, tilt your screen away from you. 

 

Addiction

Devices Galaxy 2

Haiku 201

Total addiction

My Smartphone just died on me

Withdrawal symptoms!

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I got my first Smartphone three and a half years ago. I quickly became accustomed to using it constantly throughout the day: to check the weather, read my emails, do my Duolingo language exercises, play games and keep in touch with people via WhatsApp. Apparently people check their devices on average 150 times a day! I can believe it. Ref.

The storage on the phone filled up over the years, with each new software upgrade, so I knew I’d have to look for another phone soon. Also, the battery was on its last legs; always needing charging and actually bulging quite alarmingly! Search as I might, I could not find a genuine replacement battery.

I was in the process of gathering info and looking at new phones in March, but then came Corona and Lockdown, putting a stop to that. Finally, my poor old phone gave up the fight and died.

That first day without it I definitely suffered withdrawal symptoms!

My daughter ordered me a new phone online and it was delivered to my door a few days later. Hooray!

However, it took another week to get the phone up and running. It uses a nano sim, but my old sim card was too large and I didn’t want to cut it down and risk damaging my brand new phone. So I needed to get a new sim card and change it to my old number.

Here in South Africa you have to RICA your sim card; register it online with proof of ID and address. (RICA stands for The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act; to help prevent criminals from using cell phones for illegal activities.) You simply cannot use the sim until it is RICA’d.

Unfortunately, it was the end of the month and even though I got to the cell phone shop early so didn’t have to queue too long, their system was overloaded and extremely slow. After trying for an hour, I gave up and returned the following week, when the sim swap was done in all of ten minutes!

Though slightly bemused with the advanced technology of my new phone and taking time to set it up how I like, at least now I am back in the land of the living!

 

For those who’d like to know; my new phone is a Samsung Galaxy A50 LTE. The photo is of Little Monkey on my old phone. 

 

Yellow

Yellow Honeysuckle

Haiku 200

Low hanging sunshine

New flowers and golden leaves

Winter’s all Yellow

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Yellow Syringa

The colour of winter in the Cape:

Yellow honeysuckle enticing the Sunbirds’ return; Syringa berries and golden leaves ready to fall; Apple Tree leaves, capturing a sunbeam;

Yellow Apple Leaf

All these make a glorious golden winter time.

 

post script: Here’s a lovely acoustic clip of Donovan singing his iconic hit “Colours”, beginning with the line Yellow is the colour of my true love’s hair.