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Kathryn Kure
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Attended University of the Witwatersrand
Lives in Kloof, South Africa
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Fairy Bell

The Dierama pendulum is a real princess flower.

You know, the kind that gets oodles of attention for no better reason than it's really pink and really pretty and really petite and fragile, with bell-like flowers bobbing about on thin stems alert to every wayward breeze. 

But make no mistake, its looks belie an inner toughness. It has hard capsules for seeds and is found thriving in thin soil in mountainous areas.

A member of the Iris family, it is very easy to grow from tough, fibrous corms that increase yearly, stay intact for many years and are able to survive fire, which is needed for any plant of the grasslands of South Africa. 

No hothouse princess this! 
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Thanks +Hudson Ansley, so do I :-). That is, I learn when posting too, so it's good for both of us. 
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We are delirious with happiness. A neighbour found her on Tuesday evening and brought her back today after phoning the SPCA.

It was really a joy amidst the sorrow to know how the community let everyone know and everyone got involved from the neighbourhood watch to street patrols, lots of sharing on social media, pamphlets at the school and so on. 

We are delighted to have our fur-child home again; we have missed her SO much!
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Thank you! Someone in the area picked her up; but it was a LONG two days and two nights for us. She came back washed and clipped. We are so happy to have her back!
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Joyous End to 25km (15.5 mile) Long Walk

Yesterday, our children all took part in their Annual Long Walk at the school.

Inspired by a speech by President Kennedy, where he encouraged people to do something as an achievement, and where he specified possibly doing a 50 mile (80 km) walk, in 1963, a teacher at the school took up the challenge.

Every year since then, the Long Walk has been held, it has become increasingly professional and is now firmly entrenched as the grand tradition at the school.

For the very littlies, it starts at a mile or so, and they gradually work themselves up until at the High School, all the kids must at least attempt 55 km (though they can bail out at breakfast at the 25 km mark) and many do in fact achieve 80 km. Those doing the 55 and 80 must start at 2am at the school. 

It's quite something to organise an event with well over 1000 participants and ensure safety and sufficient water, food and so on. It means all the parents have to contribute and work together as a team to make it happen. 

As the school says, "It unifies the school like no other event could.
Walkers who achieve even the 25km mark, gain so much in confidence and self-esteem. After the walk, a difficult sports practice or match pales into significance. They learn how obstacles can be overcome and
become less intimidated by challenges. This event gives our pupils a wonderful opportunity to show what they are capable of."

There are no winners. It's about setting personal goals and achieving them.

There is also no cut-off time, and they will wait late into the next night if someone is absolutely determined to finish. Walker safety is paramount, and they have medical people on hand, and everything done to ensure they know where the walkers are and how they are doing at all times, with parents on quad bikes checking between stations to see if everyone is OK. 

Here my middle boy is just finishing his 25 km, and my husband and elder son went out to meet him about a km from the finish, when he was beginning to take strain. He took off his shoes decided to sprint to the finish. 

I walked with him last year but this year was on antibiotics for the 'flu, including fevers and chills, so had to watch from the sidelines. 

Next year, our girl child will also do the 25km, and our eldest boy, plus dad, will do the 55km. 

Best we start training now!
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Hi Kathryn Kure what to do
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I don't often share a meme,

But when I do, it's worth it.

h/t +Deborah Parker-Farmer
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Gives you hope for the human spirit. If not the door.
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Pavonia columella

TIL (Today I Learned) that what I considered a forest hibiscus is, in fact, a Pavonia

Truth to tell, the pavonia and hibiscus are placed in the same section of Elsa Pooley's Guide to Wildflowers of KwaZulu-Natal, given that they look so alike.

I'm not enough of a botanist to tell you why this is not a hibiscus, but it's not. 

Its isiZulu name is Indola Ebomvu and it interacts with the tiny brown butterfly, Metisella metis subsp. paris commonly known as the Eastern Goldspot Sylph. 

It's a delightful shrub that is now volunteering itself all over our garden. I first found it in a pine plantation, and its hairy, heart-shaped leaves and lovely blush-pink flowers won me over. Having received permission from the farmer on whose land it was growing, we proceeded to dig two up and they thrived for a year or two in the shade outside the monkey-proof vegetable cage.

Although not strictly an annual, they don't seem to last much more than two to three years, and the die-back is sudden. Then again, we did put irrigation in close to the plants, but they lasted for a further six months before a sudden die-back, so I'm not sure if it was due to root disturbance. At the same time, however, it has produced a number of babies within the vicinity, so maybe it is a relatively short-lived shrub. We'll watch and note how these volunteers are doing. 

It's a super plant for shade areas, though, with an open framework that means it doesn't consume all the sunlight for itself and you can plant groundcover in close proximity to it. It certainly attracts a lot of insect activity, as can be seen in this photo. Although the flowers are small, they are not insignificant and when the entire bush is in bloom it makes for a very attractive plant and is perfect for a shady border as it thrives in forest margin areas, meaning it can take both sun and shade. 

A delightful plant. 
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Thank you, +Julia Witts​! 
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Commelina africana

Trodden underfoot, nestled between clumps of grass, this little hairy herb is mostly found inland, in areas that are seasonally wet.

This little beauty was spied near the stream that run in and around Glengarry Holiday Farm, in the Camberg.

They are such a ubiquitous sight, but one that is often taken for granted. In fact, apparently it's generally used for pig food. And, interestingly enough, it's pollinated by ants.

The little blue flowering species that is its cousin spreads so much throughout our garden in Kloof that we generally treat it as a weed, though now that the grassland is establishing itself better, we are finding it has less space in which to grow and is, accordingly, behaving itself a bit better.

Plants do rather like to sprawl out and enlarge their estate, it's only us pesky gardeners that try to keep their ambitions in check. 

Were this little herb a banker, however, it would definitely be going to work at Goldman Sachs. 
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Leonotis leonuris: Glengarry, Kamberg

Though the most common colour for a Leonotis leonuris is orange, this can vary from the shock of volcano bright through a range of paler oranges, fading to a white, which is both uncommon  and difficult to grow. 

It is known colloquially as "wild dagga" since it apparently has some mildly hallucinogenic properties, apparently not dissimilar to that of Cannabis satava or marijuana - what we in South Africa call dagga. Why do we call it dagga in this country? I haven't a clue, and Dr Google is of little help in this regard.

However, the fact that Leonotis grows freely and wild on many hillsides in South Africa and no notable harvesting of the leaves and flowers is discernible leads me to believe that, whatever effects it has must be mild and hardly worth bothering with. After all, it would become a regulated substance otherwise - you would assume so anyway. 

After all, South Africans are peculiarly adept at smoking stuff (even their socks! **). Even if we didn't invent it, we certainly perfected crushing up mandrax (quaaludes) and smoking these with dagga, and certainly also crush up low-grade heroin and even rat poison with dagga. It seems South Africans have even tried crushing up antiretrovirals used to combat the HIV/Aids scourge in this country and using those, together with dagga - though there is much contestation around whether or not this is actually happening.

On the one hand, there are stern denials from the government, on the other hand, qualitative research undertaken indicates that there are at least some who are doing it. 

Within many cultures, the flowers and stems of  Helichrysum are lit and smoked above a fire and create a feeling of mild euphoria. It is interesting that you don't see Leonotis for sale amongst the bundles of harvested and dried Helichrysum.

Apparently the smoke from the flowers is harsh and it is more commonly used as a tea made from the leaves. For those adventurous souls amongst us.

All I know is that they are a beloved grassland plant, that flowers over an extended period of time and brings the sunbirds and others to the window of my bedroom, drawn by the nectar contained within. A flower of late summer, autumn and even winter, it provides essential food for many insects and birds.  

 **For some strange reason, we have a saying, which goes, "She must be smoking her socks" to indicate that someone is behaving peculiarly. Why that person would smoke their socks, and how the saying arose, is, unfortunately, lost in the mists of history. 
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+Mike Butterfield it is lovely. Unfortunately, it rained and rained and rained the weekend we were there, clearing up for a leisurely round in the river on rubber tubes the last morning we were there. But long walks and the like just didn't happen. Next time ...
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Kathryn Kure

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Do watch until the end

So worth seeing
The odd tale of the clever octopus

Wearing a seashell as a disguise, the wily and merciless veined octopus stalks an unsuspecting rock crab (a beautiful little video).   #octopus  
Wearing a seashell as a disguise, the wily and merciless veined octopus stalks an unsuspecting rock crab
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I just realized it cracked the scales of the crab (the sudden appearance of blood), something we need pliers or a hammer to. It must have a powerful beak.
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Oh dear! Our little dog, Pantoffel the Yorkie, went missing this evening.

We are so hoping someone has picked her up and taken her to the SPCA.

We've gone up and down the road, looking, and been to the SPCA twice.

We're really worried.

It's a bad evening for our little household tonight. 
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So good to come home, open stream, and see good news...
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Widespread Weed

Well, TIL (today I learned) that what I thought was yet another little indigenous lovely is in fact a widespread weed from South America, from Bonaria and Buenos Aires in South America, in fact. 

The Verbena bonariensis or Tall Verbena, Purple Top or Blouwaterbossie (directly translated as blue water little bush)  has become so widespread in South Africa, you'd think it had always lived here.

Both it and its shorter cousin, which thrives on disturbed ground, the Verbena aristigera , originate from South America.

In fact, if you look at all the introduced plants that thrive in South African conditions to the extent that they become classified as weeds, chances are - they will emanate from South America.  

Many are garden escapees, those who considered conditions perfect, with pollinators that could seed them everywhere and without natural predators in the forms of insects that munch them up, that they have proliferated exceedingly.

One way of dealing with the problem is then to introduce their natural insect predators into the ecosystem, but that too has its issues. In South Africa, they spend many years testing suitable insects to see if it is worth introducing them. Obviously, you don't want to create any more of a problem than you did in the beginning, by, for instance, introducing an insect that then predates on your crops to devastating effect. 

For the moment, however, all these little Verbenas seem to be thriving and blooming in our late summer.  
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... I would agree - we have the same problem here in Ontario with wild garlic mustard ... Elsewhere - in its native range - i.e. the UK.... it is innocuous....... Here - I pull it everywhere I can... dig it up.... use the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds ...... It takes over the woodlands, releasing a chemical that impedes the growth of other plants.... tall and spindly - after it dries and the thousands of seeds / plant release... the land looks like a graveyard......... So - yes - I agree - but at the same time, I still marvel at how invasive our own impact is on the land - with flowers and herbs and birds and bugs and and and... All brought by human agency into an area.... and then how 'fiercely' we also act to eradicate that which we humans do not want...... It is a balancing act - nature - and we humans are out of synch for the most part +Kathryn Kure 
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Inspirational: Came for the porridge, stayed in the end for the chess

Now a chess champion who competes internationally, 18-year-old Phiona Mutesi's tale of triumph over adversity is being turned into a Hollywood epic with Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o tipped to play her mother.
Phiona Mutesi happened upon chess as a famished nine-year-old foraging for food in the sprawling and impoverished slums of the Ugandan capital. “I was very hungry,” said Mutesi, aged about 18. Now a chess champion who competes internationally, her tale of triumph over adversity is being turned into a Hollywood epic with Oscar-winning Kenyan actress …
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Tiny Gladiolus, Rain-Spattered

Of the 260 species of gladioli, 250 are found in South Africa.

That's pretty astonishing, and though not all are endemic (that is, only found here and nowhere else) a large number are, and we are definitely the hotspot in terms of their biodiversity.

Of course, the blowsy, showy, overblown creatures in sunset colours you find for sale are hybridised. They're grown for making a big, impactive statement and have not much in common with this tiny, delicate creature on a slender stalk, that sways and bobs to every stray wind.

And yet, the commonalities are there, once you look closely enough.

This was taken at Glengarry, in the Kamberg in the late afternoon sun after a day of rain.

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Thank you +Fatiya Nabalende :-)
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  • University of the Witwatersrand
    MA Comparative Literature, 1990 - 1992
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Honours Psychology, 1988 - 1988
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
    BA, 1985 - 1987
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May 20
It's a bad day when I don't learn something new.
I am incorrigibly curious, adore data, love research, and thrive on stories drawn from real life. A strong grounding in data and analytics - with a particular emphasis on national geo-demographic data-sets, combined with an ability to write, has led me from human sciences research to academia (both in Arts and Sciences), to developmental work in corporate social responsibility, into direct marketing, marketing and media research, community development and back into digital marketing. I remain enamoured of dissruptive technologies, and strongly advocate sustainability, in terms of the triple bottom-line. 
Bragging rights
I led a team of six people from three companies which mapped most of the historically black suburbs and the former TBVC states in South Africa in 1999. We put 4000 suburbs onto the dataset, thereby doubling it at the time.
Researcher, Data Myna
  • Data Myna
    2014 - present
  • eThekwini Community Foundation
    Director, 2012 - 2014
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Kloof, South Africa
Lake Forest, Illionois - Dhahran, Saudi Arabia - Johannesburg, South Africa - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - Palo Alto - Dallas
Kathryn Kure's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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