May the joy and peace of the season remain throughout the coming year!
Dear Friends and Family,
Bud and I flew to South Africa on Xmas day when we heard that my father, age 77, had inoperable lung cancer. He died on Jan. 20, 2007. We had been traveling around South Africa for two weeks and we were deeply honored to be with him when he made his transition. He stopped breathing 20 minutes after we returned. We are grateful that we had 10 days of quality time with him in late December. We also appreciated meeting and hearing the stories of the many people whose lives he touched.
The time we spent with my mother was also good. Her dementia seems to affect only certain brain functions such as short-term memory, the ability to count and deal with mechanical things. She was open, upbeat, positive, appreciative and kind.
We also got to see my brother and his family, my cousins and friends.
We used a unique, inexpensive hop-on hop-off door-to-door 18-seater backpacker bus service called the Baz Bus on our two-week tour. We stayed at a number of charming backpacker lodges with tree-top views of the ocean. Most of the lodges are snuggled among wild broad-leafed banana trees in subtropical forests where monkeys romp.
We saw breathtaking views of the Drakensburg Mountains, secluded valleys, jungle-covered cliffs, waterfalls and streams along the Indian Ocean.
We spent a couple of days with Barbara, a close childhood friend, in Knysna. She drove us back to Johannesburg where my parents live. The 10-hour drive took us through the Karoo Desert where we saw Helen Martins, my maternal great aunt’s Owl House in Nieu-Bathesda. It became a national museum when she died in the late 70s. Helen’s house is magical. She used ground colored glass to decorate images on the walls, windows, ceilings and doors. She also built large concrete camels, owls, mermaids, shepherds and religious figures. I wept as I studied her work and felt very proud.
Helen’s life and work is immortalized in the award-winning play and movie "The Road to Mecca" starring Kathy Bates.
Bud and I had a shock. Our kitty developed a fast growing tumor on her back leg. The vet thought it was inoperable cancer. I cried for two days. Luckily the tumor biopsy was benign and it was removed. She now has a good looking $700 leg!
We continue to go on wonderful canoe, river, mountain and beach trips with our outdoor club. You can see photos and write ups on our trips at www.georgiawildernesssociety.org.
You can always keep in touch with my latest interest and activities at www.authorsden.com/nikicollinsqueen. I’ve added new articles, stories, blogs, and spectacular nature pictures.
We bought a used hot tub this summer. It’s a joy to get a back and foot message while watching the sun’s golden glow dance among the trees. When the tub began to leak the store owner sent it back to the manufacturer to be replaced. He said there was a recall on all the 2001 hot tubs because of their bad pipes. We are going to get a new $8,000 hot tub for $3,000, the amount we paid. We sure lucked out.
Bud continues to be active in civic, hunting and conservation activities. He became president of the High Falls Towaliga Watershed Alliance earlier this year, he is on the Advisory board of the EPD Rivers-Alive-Program and lead numerous Georgia Wilderness Society trips including four river cleanups this fall. He’s also in charge of his hunt club and was the second highest fundraiser with $1,225 on the Georgia River Network’s 2007 115-mile Ocmulgee River Canoe-A-Thon.
In addition to all his civic activities Bud still found time to help me stain and chink the inside of our log cabin. The 20-year-old chinking had shrunk allowing us to see the trees through the log gaps.
Wishing you all the joys of Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!
Much love and warmest wishes,
Bud and Niki
The picture is of Bud & Niki in Knysna, South Africa