17 September 2006

Short Takes

It’s been quite awhile since I posted an update. I guess the longer I’m here and begin to re-visit places, I don’t have lots new to tell you. But here are some short takes from recent travels.

Sasol (http://www.sasol.co.za/) is one of the large energy suppliers here (coal to liquids and gas to liquids), but they make a number of other products, too. They also contribute hugely to all sorts of community projects. They are, for example, the largest corporate sponsor of the Springbok rugby team. There are several academic libraries in the country that are carry the Sasol name because they have received enormous donations from the company. The bird blind at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden was paid for by Sasol.

Their library is one of our largest corporate customers, and recently they invited Jean, Salome (our operations manager and the customer service rep for that account) and me to visit. We had a tour of their wax plant, and then went to lunch at an adorable cafĂ© in Sasolburg. They also gave each of us a gift bag with several goodies. It was so very nice to be on the receiving end of such treatment for a change! It was an interesting and fun day. I’m hoping that maybe we can go tour their coal mine next year. My paternal grandfather was a coal miner, so that would be particularly interesting for me.

There are so many interesting and colorful birds here! Here are just a few that I’ve seen recently. I suggest going to Google Images (http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi&q=) to look up photos.

Sometime in July, Jean and I went to an open house sort of thing that the library at University of Pretoria hosted. As I parked my car, I saw on the lawn in front of me a grey lourie and a hoopoe, both really groovy looking birds. I’ve also seen a hoopoe in my front lawn, but only once.

When Colleen and I were driving from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth the week before last, I saw what I think was a Knysna lourie. It may have been a purple crested lourie, but given the location, I think it was a Knysna lourie.

I’m also quite fond of helmeted guinea fowl. They are all over the place, including a field near my house. They are also a popular theme in craftworks; I’m sure I’ll come home with a number of representations of guinea fowl.

And the lilac-breasted rollers are small but magnificently colored little guys. I’ve seen them at Kruger National Park.

Things Have Changed
We (Rehette, Colleen and I) have just completed two weeks of “road shows”. There’s so much going on with EBSCO, and it’s difficult to phone one library and say, “May we spend 6 hours with you?” And then ask the same of other libraries in the same area. So, we decided to bring folks together for a series of one-day seminars. When I picked up the rental car in Cape Town early last week, I was surprised to discover that it had automatic transmission. I wasn’t quite sure what to do at first! We had the car for 2 days, and I was just getting used to it (not looking for the clutch when starting up) when it was time to turn it in.

Whenever I move back to the U.S., I just may need to get a car with a stick shift. Don’t they get better gas mileage anyway?

Another reason I haven’t written much lately is that I suffered a somewhat more acute than usual case of homesickness for most of August. It wasn’t debilitating, and I don’t want you folks to worry. But I was glum, and just didn’t feel that I had much to say without whining. I’m feeling better now. :)

A few Sundays ago, I joined Feng Hua Wang (the Chinese American woman who works in the library at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria) for a jazz brunch here in Jo’burg. It was hosted by a local jazz club, and I’ve signed up to join them. The next meeting is at the same restaurant this Thursday evening. I also found out that one of my colleagues in the Gauteng South Branch executive committee (S’bu Thembela at Wits University) enjoys jazz, so I’ll ask her to join me sometime.

My friend Jeff deGraffinreid is going to Kenya to do research for his PhD, and will stop in Jo’burg for a few days at the end of this month. I’m looking forward to showing him around my adopted city. Then Mom and Claudia are coming for Christmas. I’ve got good trips lined up for them, and am really excited about their visit. The next group is my English friend Sarah Maylett (we were at the same school in Zimbabwe), her father and aunt. They will come in March, spend one night with me, drive from Jo’burg to Kruger, and then down the east coast to Cape Town. They’ll take 3 weeks for this. I’m planning to fly and meet them in Port Elizabeth so I can join them for the “Garden Route” from PE to CT.

Who else would like to visit? :)