Another day of Fun in the Sun…

It is the depth of winter. My eldest son is out there on the sunflower fields, with a 1967 John Deere tractor, all on his own. So- while it is school holiday here and my wife is having a rest from her school, we decided to hop on our GS, and go and surprise him. We bought a 2 liter Coke, and some meat pies, and then drove all the way to the farm, and on the dirt roads to the back fields where he work. This time I took my little Powershot camera with, to take some better pictures.

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This IS the depth of winter around here, I suppose Minnesota does look a bit different in it’s winter time?

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And this is to a wonderful wife who rides my bike with me, even on some dirt roads…

I had a wonderful Friday so far!

Some primitive agricultural implements in Africa…

My eldest son has this dream to go to Minnesota to go and drive combined harvesters for Mr  Olsen.  This week he started working on a farm outside our town. He finishes school in November, and this is an opportunity for some excellent school holiday employment.

Now I am just a little worried- Africa is so primitive and we have such old technology around here… NOT!

I am so grateful to the young farmer in our church giving my son some holiday work to see if he likes it.

These are some of the beautiful tractors and other equipment on his farm.

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No, my son won’t be driving this one yet. As it should be, he is driving the oldest tractor on the farm, dragging a huge tree stump across an old sunflower field to flatten the stalks before the next planting season.

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As you can see, this farm does have a John Deere obsession…

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I dropped my son off at sunrise to start his first day. Then I drove around this huge farm, looking for some warthogs. It was wonderful sitting at the edge of a huge field, drinking a cup of coffee from my Stanley flask.

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While I sat here, I thought a lot.  In America to own a huge commercial farm makes you a good businessman and a success story. In South Africa our government brands you as a racist landgrubbing thief. If you are white.

The young owner of this farm is an excellent farmer. He takes out land loans from the bank, and grows his business bigger. He works extremely hard, and is successful in what he does.  He treats his workers very well. He is no racist and definitely no thief. He has my respect and gratitude. His farm is unfortunately on the wrong continent.

 

For a balanced opinion on land ownership in Africa- read this: http://www.sabreakingnews.co.za/2014/07/01/economic-view-white-farmers-are-not-land-thieves/

Food is very important…

Ok, useless header. Without food we die.

But today is my 4th day without eating. This is breakfast:

a nice beer mug filled with… apple juice!

Was it not the apple that got us kicked out of paradise in the beginning?

On Friday, my day off, I love to go out and eat breakfast somewhere. Usually with my younger colleague, for it is his day off too.

There are so many possibilities around our town. The most beautiful setting is at the clubhouse of our golf course. They have a nice view, and a beautiful restaurant. Even the prices are very good- surprisingly.

Then there is the Koffiekan, maybe translated as the Coffee Pot They have bottomless coffee,, today’s newspaper (that is not fun to read in South Africa anymore with our respected president, and the mine strikes, and the rhino slaughter for impotent people in Asia, and the killing of so many people in crime… and usually the sport page is a tear jerker too… except our Junior Springbok rugby team, that beat New Zealand twice in one week- that gave something to smile about…)

We have the various franchise restaurants, most with a budget breakfast consisting of a baked egg, two rashers of bacon (sorry Spike!) a piece of cooked tomato and a slice of toast. Very budget indeed. But even that is better than a beer mug of apple juice.

Last night I asked my wife what we will do for dinner tonight. As good South Africans we usually barbeque (Braai!) some red meat, accompanied by red wine. Usually we look for friends that want to dine with us. And it is a ceremony on its own, from the lighting of the fire, opening of the wine, the sharing of stories and jokes. The meal around the table with some candle light on.

And then I remembered: Tonight, on my menu, there will be Apple Juice….

The revenge of the Apple for sins of days gone past…

The attack of the killer apples…

I think: from tomorrow apple juice will be banned for life from my home…

 

Cape Town in winter…

At the moment my wife and I are in a cold and wet and windy Cape Town. But we love this place in any of its moods…

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The Fishing harbour at Hout  Bay- one of my favorite spots of the Cape, except when I am on my bicycle the 2nd Sunday of March each year…

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A Beautiful view of Table Mountain today… er… the Mountain has been stolen!

Why did we fly to Cape Town in winter? Last night one of my best friends in life got married. So me and Mrs Rider dressed up a bit…

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I looked forward so much to this evening… then I had another gall sludge attack. I only had 2 cups of soup and water last night… But the party was really good! We really enjoyed last night in the Protea hotel Fire & Ice… tonight we are staying at other good friends and tomorrow morning we are flying back home…

Morphine inspired Funny days…

Last night I had another attack. The same kind that kept me from my favorite Argus Cycle Tour in February.

The attack of the little Gall bladder stones… they might be small, but they beat me 6-0 6-0 6-0.

On Wednesday my son turned 18.  I even asked permission to leave our Church Board Meeting (a very solemn occasion!) to take my son out for his first beer.  Then his mom and his brother also decided to come with. And son decided to only drink Cream Soda… did I really raise him right?

In any case, in South Africa the Spur is a countrywide steakhouse franchise, you would even find some examples in Europe, I saw one in the Liffey Mall in Dublin in 2006. Well, they have this special on Eisbein at the moment. You get a large Eisbein with Chips (sorry German friends, I know it should have been Sauerkraut and Mash- but not at the Spur).

It also comes with a 500 ml Castle Draught- any visitor to South Africa will get to know both the Spur and Castle Draught.  I was extremely thirsty after attending the first 1 3/4 hours of the Church Board Meeting. So the first Draught went down so smoothly. I just had to have another, and then hand over the keys of the car to Mrs Rider or son.  So- large amounts of Pork- sorry Spike!  And beer! Sorry all my abstaining friends.  I also enjoyed birthday cake with my son earlier that day.

On Thursday I went to visit some of our elderly church people, that can’t come to church anymore. I also shared bread and wine with them- a very informal Eucharist. I bought this fantastic loaf of bread at our supermarket for this purpose. Designer bread. Ciabata or something. And then, when I finished all the visits, I also finished the bread on the way home.  You see, for 3 months I did not have any gallstone attacks. I forgot… pork/ beer/ bread… Big problems… 

LAst night my wife made us a mutton stew. Just small pieces of mutton mind you, not our typical over the top South African indulgence into red meat.

At half pas ten the fun and games started. First it felt like slight indigestion. I took some anti-acid powder (Eno’s). Then it started hurting more- I took some pain pills. And then- just underneath the ribcage- that dreadful feeling like someone sticking a red hot knife into your gut… And all the time the pain escalates. The gallstones have a way of also hurting my back. I tried being strong and manly for an hour.

Then I pleaded with Mrs Rider to just shoot me. Or phone our doctor. Whichever could take me out of my misery first. For some reason my wife chose the doctor instead. It was our doctor’s night off, and he went to bed early. He is really a hardworking and compassionate man. He is also in our church. So he asked my wife to drag me to his house. And there he proceeded with another nightmare of mine. Not one, but three injections…  They say gallbladder stone attacks are at least as painful as childbirth… respect to all moms! Well, I would have accepted a 9 millimeter parabellum round last night to end the pain. So I did not mind the injections at all.

So today, I started eating the right stuff again, mostly green. I mostly avoided meat, and beer, and birthday cake.  I am terrified that that pain will return.

Today, two of my sons played excellent rugby. Both their teams won our hated neighbouring town’s teams.

This afternoon I had to marry a young couple. I only found out WHERE last night! I thought I knew the WHEN- 4 pm this afternoon. But then my phone rang at 3:15 pm and it is the bridegroom, politely asking where I was. Fortunately they married in a picture perfect small little church 400 meters from my house.  I got dressed and there in 5 minutes, and was still there before the bride!

So since half past 11 last night, with the soft kiss of morphine, the world feels like a little fluffy cloud.  I am tired, I sleep a lot.

And yes- today I also successfully put new windows channel rubber on a door of my son’s Beetle.

Morphine, used in the right way, for pain as given by a doctor, is such a wonderful thing! Maybe it is even better to say: It sure is fun when you have a day without pain!

What inspired all this nonsense? My new friend over at http://flippenblog.com/ is preparing Eisbein in her flat in Cape Town tonight… I LOVE Eisbein! But Eisbein apparently does not love me anymore…

 

 

History Channel- WTFF!!!

I love history. So, I really was excited when History Channel was added to our satellite (Cable for you US folks) television.

But the last year History Channel has little actual history programs. I mean- how would Storage Wars really be history? Garbage Archaeology is interesting, but is it history?

There is a LOT of restoration programs as well. I love Restoration projects. but would usually expect to find it at  Discovery.

History Channel- I would love to see Spitfires versus Messerschmitts. Atilla the Hun. Stonehedge- how did they do it? Or the aliens that built the pyramids in Egypt and South America- how their space ships worked…

But I can live with Storage Wars and American Restoration.

What really, really is driving me over the edge: History Channel advertises itself over and over and over and over at every ad break in South Africa.

But the worse is: they use the same ad over and over and over and over again. This must be the stuff used by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay to torture people.  (oops- there I said it, now I will never get a visum to visit the USA, and I must look out for the silent black helicopters or drones firing Hellfire missiles up my *ss…)

I am not joking- they are using the Mutoscope episode of American Restoration since November last year. Or the year before that A thousand times a day. And it is cracking me up- which in South Africa do not mean making me laugh… It is driving me around the bend, taking me to cloud cuckooland. Making me mentally unfit to stand trail- oh no, that was the Oscar Pistorius trail… been watching too much telly when I should have been working on the Beetle…

This episode: Even WordPress will not show the link anymore: it is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeSdRgZak-k

My wife has to wipe the spittle of my mouth at night, when I start mumbling in a nasal twang: “Well, it looks just like new, Rick…”

The customer must be a very kind gentleman. It is not his fault. But really, really- to show him saying that sentence 1000 times a DAY is really getting me down.

If anybody at History Channel ever see this: PLEASE, PLEASE GET A NEW AD!!! You are being cruel!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeSdRgZak-k

 

 

Today- 20 Years Ago

Spoiler alert: CHURCH story- move along to another blog if you do not like church stories… 

Today 20 years ago was a very historic day in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on this day as the president of the new South Africa.

That would be what everybody was thinking about, reading the heading.

But: on the same day me, my wife and a 10 month old baby daughter moved to a town we had to locate on a map, to begin our fulltime ministry in the church.

This is the church that called me to their ministry:

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My photo of the Dutch Reformed Church of Waterberg in Nylstroom.

Our calling to this church was at a desperate time in our lives.  In our church, we have to do 6 years of university training, including ancient Hebrew and Greek. Six years at university is a long, long, long time… and very expensive. After I finished university, being a pale male, I had to do compulsory military service, in the second last group of men that had no choice (except 4 years jail and a criminal record). I was a chaplain in the South African Army, Engineering Corps. After I have finished the army, I was unemployed. It was bad. Nobody wanted to give me a job, because I am “overqualified…”

Our church had 200 too many pastors, ministry posts was very scarce. I had a part time pastors post with a very small salary after 3 months, a very temporary arrangement until I got a “Calling” to a church as full time pastor. In these times in 1993 the political situation in South Africa was really bad. The interest rates were sky high, and I had a huge student loan. The bank was really breathing down my neck, and I was sinking to nearly the point of no return debtwise…

During 1993 and 1994 I applied for 67 available posts in the church nationwide. I went to 7 interviews, on one occasion on the other side of the country, and that time they did not even give me a cent for travelling costs. We also had our first child in these desperate times. It was really, really bad. After 6 years at university I was only trained for 1 “company”.

Then, shortly after the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, I sat on my bed one evening. My wife and I hit rock bottom. We were losing the temporary post at the church we were at. We had to move out of our dilapidated railway house we were staying in. We had a child to raise, a lot of debt, and it felt as if the church did not care…

That Sunday evening my phone rang, and the good people of Nylstroom were on the line. The voice on the other side asked if I knew who was talking, and I said I did not. He said he is my fellow- pastor (medeleraar in Afrikaans). I replied I do not have one. He then said that they had a meeting earlier that evening, and I came up as the next pastor in their church. I had to look Nylstroom up on a map, I did not even know where it was.

It was so good to become a full time pastor at last. I was 27 years old when I earned my first full salary check!

The sad was: I was only in this church for 11 months. In that year the good bigger church of the region decided that this congregation was too big, and the neighbouring congregation was too small. So, with a lot of church politics involved,  I with 1/3rd of the church was passed over to the neighbouring church in the same town.

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And here I still am, 20 years later in the same town.

We came to town with the Beetle, some borrowed furniture, a very young pastor and his lovely wife and fiery redhead baby daughter.

20 Years later- in this 2o years we got 3 sons added to our family, and a lot of jokes of not knowing where babies come from. We had some extremely sad times, sometimes I even felt suicidal… But we also had amazing times, with great joy, great friendships. great experiences.

I have about 18 years left before I have to retire at age 65 from full time ministry. Looking back, I am really thankful. But I also would really want to know what difference, if any, I made in peoples lives in the past 20 years. I know I have helped many people over the years. But I also know I have not been able to help everybody. Like everybody else I have also made enemies along the way. There are people who will sing that song “What a friend we have in Jesus!” when I one day get called to another town.

Meanwhile- I am here to stay. I have nowhere else to go. I am happy most days (not every day…)  I really love this church, this town, this region of our country.  I am willing to go another 18 if that is the script for my life. But some evenings I lay awake and worry about the lots and lots of empty pews on a Sunday morning…

Today is a rather huge mile post in my journey of life. Thanks if you have longsufferingly read up till here… 🙂

 

 

Today I voted. And Rode.

What a day!

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. We are having our 5th election for everybody. I am glad.

So a lot of my biker friends went for a breakfast in Bela Bela. My wife rode with, she loves the new bike.  We had a great time.

Then we voted.

Then my son and I painted the Beetle some more.

I tried to take a nap this afternoon.  I heard another man of our church, which I admire a lot, is dying in Pretoria, our capital. I threw a few clothing articles in a small suitcase, and went to the hospital to visit him.  This really hurts to do, but it means a lot  to people. Nobody should die alone!

Now I am in a student watering hole near the university campus.   It is dark, the music ia loud, and the food is good and cheapm What a place! I am double the next patron’s age! BUT I now need the aliveness and mood here. And the food.

What a day. I am knackered. The student next to me is putting some Italian herbs in a newspaper and lights it. The smoke smells sweet and funny. Purple turtles are flying around my head. What a LEKKER place… I wonser how Basil in a newspaper tastes? The Jalapeno steak for about US $ 7 is awesome. Peace out!

Goodbye to you, my trusted friend…

With the joy of a new motorbike also comes the sorrow to greet an old friend for the last time. Yes I know, it is only 200 kg of Italian Steel and French rubber. 14 Years since it all came together in the factory in Italy. But any true Biker will tell you: Any good bike is so much more than the sum of its parts. It does have a soul of its own. OK, I am not being a good theologian at the moment… maybe I never am anyway…

I have owned motorcycles since just before my 16th birthday. In South Africa we could only ride a 50 cc between 16 and 18. We made the best we could of them, with some customizing like ports, free flow exhausts. I had an accident in my first year at university. An unfortunate incident involving a police vehicle ended the life of my second bike, fortunately not mine… At the end of my first year at university I bough a Honda CB 400 N, one of the bikes I really loved the most. This bike served me well through 5 more years at university, and 1 year of compulsory Army service. But then I had to sell it- our first child was on the way and I was unemployed. We needed the money.

Many years went by without a bike. Until that day in 2005 when I was first invited to the introduction of the Harley 2006 series at a vehicle testing facility outside Pretoria. It was like an alcoholic taking the first drink after rehab- I was hooked again!

And so, after searching and studying, my paths crossed the Aprilia Pegaso. It was 4 years old, in showroom condition with only 10 000 km on the clock. I bought it. And it was such a good friend to me all these years…

One of my blog’s header photos is the Aprilia at the Southernmost point of the African Continent…

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It did the longer journeys so good, but was also such a joy in an urban setting. As a Dueller it is supposed to be good on the dirt roads as well, but I am not such an offroader myself…

This bike has brought me through the wind and the rain, the sunshine and the pain (that is some song, right?) When I felt depressed, it picked me up. It gave me such good memories, for 9 years long.

But now my needs have shifted. I want to travel  more with my wife, now that our kids are able to fend for themselves…  My R 850 R is adequate for the job, but the rear seat hurts my wife a little bit, and you don’t want an unhappy wife on a bike journey. So, I put both the Aprilia and the BMW up for sale. I want to keep one for touring with my sons. I have hoped to sell the BMW, but the Aprilia sold first.

So, this afternoon, with tears in my eyes, I handed over the keys to a young man of our town. He is much younger than me, and have the yearning for adventure in his eyes that I understand and respect. My Aprilia will be in good hands, and be his new owner’s first love and first Ride. I really pray that he learns to ride safely, and take good care of her…

Maybe this is life- you may be good enough but your replacement is peeking over your shoulder…  The last photo this afternoon…

My Aprilia is gone tonight. And it is really sad for me… But may she have a beautiful, and safe future!  And may the yellow BMW behind her start writing a new chapter in our family’s life!

Looking at this post- I must be a bit crazy. But I really loved this bike!