Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Small Son Asks - Is She The One?

Google image

We have been quite relieved that lately small son has settled down into a career that he enjoys - building houses with his brother-in-law. It's risky business but a great learning curve. At the same time, he is going out with a girl he knew at high school and has met up with ten years later. It seems they had both had their eye on each other for some time.  It's almost a year now and suddenly small son has been asking our advice. What to say? I am most reluctant to offer advice in this area.  If I am honest, my own 40-year marriage started out on the rebound and my husband is actually the polar opposite in every way to the man I thought I was in love with before. Typically of love in one's mid-twenties, a break-up is devastating at the time and one is extremely surprised and delighted to discover that true love can still happen after that. In fact, I had absolutely no doubt and not a moment's hesitation about getting married: we both just knew. But is it always so easy? These days, if you are pushing thirty and the clock is ticking it's likely that the couple have lived together for some time and have become perhaps a little comfortable. Does that mean the magic has diminished? Practical considerations seem to be that one is getting too old to risk looking for something different.  Where do you find the perfect someone? I prefer to stay out of this one.  I heard my husband advising, rather lamely, on the phone,  "Don't worry, you will just know".  In today's world, divorce seems to be easily on the cards and maybe the attitude of the young is that it is probably the right thing to do. It's a different generation.  Meanwhile we wait and see,

Monday, 26 June 2017

Remember Elephants love Fruit

Through the windscreen of our car
One thing we did manage to do last month was spend a night at the Addo Elephant Park on our way to the coast from the Karoo.  I have been deservedly nervous of elephants in recent years owing to the bad behaviour of tourists who hassle the animals in the famous Kruger Park.  As it happens, the elephants at Addo are plentiful but still docile as the tourists there show some respect.  We were lucky enough to come across this group at a water hole late in the afternoon: there were quite a few babies of various ages. This little guy made a mock charge towards us, but proved to be trying to scare off a couple of small birds. We watched for a while along with a few other cars, well spaced apart, when I saw the matriarch lift her head, look towards our car and then she left the group and strolled over, looking inquisitive. She was about twice the height of our car.  I suddenly realised my husband had his window open and was chewing on a succulent piece of dried mango. I hissed at him to close his window, which he did, and thankfully she turned away,
Believe me - this mamma was bigger than she looks!
but not before the driver of the car nearest to us saw her in his mirror, got a fright and almost reversed into her (although she might not have noticed if he did).  I once read that if an elephant gets the idea that there is a tasty treat inside a car, it will shake the vehicle like a tree. Not so good for the car or its inhabitants. So take a tip: remember elephants have a very keen sense of smell. Happily, nothing bad happened to anyone this time.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Allergy to Latex in Plasters

Me - sorry but looking for sympathy

It's been a long, emotional month, also with a long bout of bronchitis/ashma which has been debilitating. I am feeling good-ish for the first time today - thanks to my husband's concoction of black coffee and brandy which is acting as a temporary pick-me-up.  I haven't loaded the photos yet of the last three weeks, but thought I would share this one of my recent trip to the Dermatologist.  The trouble with 'things' on your back and around your bra-line is that you can't see them and they are therefore worrying. Despite telling the doctor that I am very allergic to waterproof/stretchy plasters, he had to use something and tried the ordinary old-fashioned ones. This is the very itchy result after two days - the actual moles removed healed nicely.  I guess one's skin gets more sensitive as you get older, and I seem to have inherited my dad's problem. Apart from that I learnt another hard lesson - when I got the bill - when you want any kind of procedure from any doctor - GET QUOTES FIRST. Failing to do this resulted in a bill at least 5 times what I had expected and emptied our Medical savings for the year. I was deeply shocked. I don't know how things work in America, but for purposes of comparison, our monthly medical insurance (a very basic plan) costs about 23% of our budget.  How does your system compare?

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Google image

Two funerals, two families - in one week.  We are still a little bamboozled by this. My brother-in-law, aged 74,  passed away last night - his funeral will be in a small town, big church (courtesy of 1820 Dutch settlers to the Cape), maybe 200 people.  My auntie in England, aged 96, will have exactly 12 people at her funeral. She died a week before him, but has to wait in the refrigerator until 6th June, because she lived in England, where there is a large population of which a large number is apparently awaiting burial, no matter which part of the country you live in. I can't help keep remembering how she hated to be cold.
The return of my British passport has been delayed by a computer glitch at British Airways last week-end, so we will have departed for the Karoo funeral before my passport can be delivered.  Luckily, this is Africa.  I went to the friendly DHL agent in our town this afternoon:  he assures me that I can have delivery delayed until we return from our 'holiday'.  He will put it in his office safe.  Six months ago, we planned a 4-night stay in a friend's time-share: our annual holiday. My husband has all along said I could go to England for my Aunt's funeral and reiterates that offer, even now.  But I am too scared to travel to the Uk since the Manchester bombing last week. England is now raised to 'critical' from 'severe' level of possible imminent chance of another terrorist attack.  What is it with this Isis? Our youth are so vulnerable. What a world. What does the future hold?

Monday, 29 May 2017

Check Your Posture

One of our beach cleaners taking a break

Most of us are guilty of bad posture, some or the time - or, let's be honest - most of the time. Just look in a shop window as you browse.  My physio gave me a severe lecture concerning this topic and I now try very hard to follow her advice - I check my posture whenever I remember. It has certainly paid dividends with regard to backache. 
I found this advice in a magazine the other day -  stand with you feet slightly apart, back to a wall;  place your head against the wall, chin parallel to the ground; push your shoulder blades back until they touch the wall (chest out), now touch the wall with your bottom. Your spine should now be correctly aligned.  I did wonder though if this can work across cultures: our Bushmen and African peoples tend to have very large behinds  (could they touch the wall?) Maybe it's like IQ tests - you can't ask a primitive tribesman to operate a can opener, he will have quite different skills. Just thinking.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Week of Decisions

Google image - but my auntie was a smiler!

Last month I suddenly realised my British passport was due to expire at the end of June 2017. I didn't plan a trip any time soon, but it is less complicated to renew one's passport before it expires than afterwards, if you are living in another country. Needless to say, things are much more complicated than they were ten years ago when I simply went into Cape Town, spoke to a person, picked up a yellow form, returned it to the Cape Town office who sent it up to the Embassy in Pretoria and I would collect it in person in Cape Town again. Now applications can only be made "ONLINE", and couriered up to the north of England to a town called Durham. 
Full or nerves, I anxiously viewed the website and was made more anxious because you can't print out your blank form and study it. No. You have to complete it, a page at a time, PAY, and only then can you print the document. Two weeks later, I had managed to track down two acquaintances who had successfully performed this feat, so I sat down (with my husband next to me) and braved the cyberspace.  Wasn't so bad: in fact, it was quite user-friendly, once you had scrolled through all the instructions for if e.g. you were adopted/transgender/result of a surrogate pregnancy etc. etc. The worst was having to courier my documents, which had to include colour photocopies of EVERY PAGE INCLUDING BLANKS of my South African passport.  Ironically, I had just obtained a new one - 31 blank pages, just one stamp for Walvis Bay, just up the coast from CApe Town, when we were on shore for two hours in January of this year. Another big expense. Anyway, another irony  - at the moment in time that I handed my passport over to the Courier Company,  my very dear Aunt, the last of her generation, pivotal in my childhood years, died in the UK, at the venerable age of 96.  The funeral is to be on 6th June. I am without passport.  I do have my SA one, but I would have to buy and obtain an Emergency  Visa for the UK - another big expense. Luckily, my cousin phoned me this week - it doesn't sound as if she expected me to go at all.  In fact, she said that for the last three years, her mother, although basically healthy, was wheelchair bound, saying she couldn't see the point of still being around, as she couldn't do anything.  (No Altzheimer's).  My cousin sounded OK. So I am not going.  We are off to the Karoo instead on 1st June.  My brother-in-law is now bed-bound and asking for us.  In fact, I left England in 1975 and am married 40 years next year.  Nevertheless, loving relatives from one's formative years are hugely important in the big picture.  I also quailed at the prospect at travelling alone:  (reference the bomb explosion in Manchester on Monday). But I know my Aunt would understand.  Just out of interest - I wonder when my new passport will arrive? Hope it is before we go away.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Personality Types

Inside flyleaf of our library books. 

This is just an observation about readers at our local library. I noticed that there was a sort of sticker on squared paper glued to the inside front cover of the library books.  There were signatures on the different squares. On enquiry, I discovered that people can't remember all the titles of the books they have read, especially if their favorite authors are prolific, so this is an aide mémoire for reference the next time they take out a book so they don't read something they have read before.  A great idea I thought, so I joined in. The funny thing is that everyone seems to want to sign on the very outside column whether vertical or horizontal and they prefer to sign right next to someone else - a bit like people in a parking lot or restaurant.  Does this display timidity, I wonder? Or is it that people are like sheep?  Or is it lack of originality or is it modesty - not wishing to stand out in a crowd.  I decided that my husband and I will sign right in the middle - in splendid isolation, just to be different, or are we exhibitionists? ......or is it for some other reason?  After all, the signatures are quite anonymous.  Just a thought.  NB He hasn't read this one yet - that's me in the middle.