Friday, 28 April 2017

Moments of Joy

Making friends with a tame springbok

We are back home. My brother-in-law is (incredibly) holding on, his pride intact, not yet bed-ridden, but terribly thin. Every day that we were there, many people came to visit and every day some-one phoned and said they would be coming the next day. So we made cakes and served endless tea and coffee and he willed himself to get out of bed, shower and dress - for his guests. Those in the know say it is unbelievable how long cancer sufferers can last when to the observer things look terminal. In between, farming must go on: at one stage we were asked to feed a hand-reared baby 'duiker' (a small buck) while our nephew was away for a night.  At first, she was very reluctant to accept the bottle, although she did lick my neck when I sat on the floor.  Eventually, I stood up, accidentally holding the bottle between my legs - and voilĂ ! Success.
Getting the right position by chance
Then she was OK.
Then she was OK.  My sister-in-law's garden looks amazing (lots of underground water and a full-time gardener). It's very therapeutic and I know it will sustain her when she is alone. Another time, I said hello to a previously hand-reared springbok, now fully grown and in with the herd.  She will still separate herself from them and come to the fence to renew her ties with humans. But increasingly less, as it should be.  And so: a carer having been installed (but not yet being allowed to help) we have come home to catch up on our lives. We have had out first shower of rain so we are hoping the drought this end of South Africa will have a chance of being broken this season. Not so our economic 'Junk' status.  But this is Africa - land of the corrupt presidential regimes.  Little did Nelson Mandela envisage such a scenario when he and his advisers devised our 'wonderful Constitution' which unfortunately, allows a President basically to have Absolute Power - and we all know where that leads.  George Orwell had it right.
Part of my sister-in-law's stunning garden

Saturday, 8 April 2017


Stem not dependant on Viagra (giggle)

I haven't managed a post for a month so I thought I would need a catchy title to get some attention .......No, seriously I will mention Viagra in passing...
It's been a difficult month.  We've been down to the Karoo for ten days to help out: my brother-in-law is in the last stages of liver cancer and felt too unwell to attend the wedding of his oldest grand-son down here near Cape Town.  As all the family would be attending, we offered to keep them company on the farm so they would not be alone (read:isolated) for 5 days.  In the end, we stayed for ten and a humbling experience it was.  Almost every day, people came from near and far to say their last goodbyes - one life-long friend even flew down from Johannesburg.  We are back in Cape Town for the time being, and he is still not giving in, but we are on standby...
Do you like this flower?  We went for a walk last week and saw several of these in the our drought-devastated countryside. At first I thought they were made of plastic, which some kind person had planted here and there to provide a spot of colour for walkers. Not so.  I found the name in our wild-flower book, the "March Flower". We've never seen it before, in all the years we have walked here.
Regarding Viagra,  I was reading an (I hope exaggerated) crime novel about the professional golf circuit in America.  Think: huge prize money, groupies, match-fixing, drugs etc.  It was actually distasteful and sleazy; I was quite shocked at the repeated mention that a large number of the golfers regularly took doses of viagra as a matter of course - and they weren't even old!
Can it have a basis in truth? 
Just asking.  

Monday, 6 March 2017

Storm in a Birdcage

Google image

I am beginning to think that the hassles of owning and renting out an apartment - and having to be a Trustee for the building because there was a lack of volunteers, is more trouble than it is worth. We've had this apartment for two years now and there has been a constant stream of headaches, whether it was for unforeseen repairs or tenant complaints. The latest is a complaint from a third floor tenant that her neighbor's pet bird is too noisy. Apparently, this is the third complaint from this person - the Trustees having been asked to sanction the acquisition of said bird (which my husband did with the proviso that there would be no ensuing complaints from neighbors). However, the tenants on the other side, also above and below have submitted no such complaints. The one above the problem bird says she barely hears it (she is a Trustee), and comments that the wild pigeons, sparrows etc. outside make far more noise.  It appears that there were originally two birds in the apartment, one was a parroquete (sorry, how do you spell this?). The accused had obligingly got rid of this one bird. Unfortunately, both parties involved work from home. I've just read quite a depressing book, because it is rooted in reality: " The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old ", about an old age home in Holland.  One of their rules is that any  bird or fish may not be of a length of more than 10 centimetres. Really? Although this book plunged me in gloom (as I am headed that way myself), it has been translated into 25 languages. Clearly, it strikes a chord. Another one I enjoyed much more was "The 100-Year-Old Man who Jumped out of the Window and Disappeared".  This rollicking adventure is quite daft yet both my husband and I giggled our way through it: I mean what nicer thought that you can be fit and healthy at that age, parked under a palm tree and enjoying a great sex life?  I leave you with that thought. Meanwhile, the bird stays.  Note: Derek has rolled up his web and moved higher up out of my way.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

I Never Thought I would Do This


See the above sorry-looking object?  Yes, this was once a perfectly good pair of tights. It has been languishing in my cupboard, unworn, together with about 10 others of its kind for about the last 8 years - not a single ladder or snag in it.  I don't wear this kind of thin denier (remember 15/20 denier from the sixties?)  any more or any other kind for that matter. It's socks all the way. I do fondly remember how my best friend and I used to sit in class at HIgh School and try to make ladders ascend in our tights as wide as we could between knee and crutch (at one stage we even had suspender belts still).  Any fault from the knee down would be pounced upon by eagle-eyed teachers or prefects.  So why did I cut off the legs? I badly needed to tie up some of my climbing plants in the back yard so I did the unthinkable - steeled myself and cut the legs off into strips. Perfect. I couldn't quite bring myself to throw away the top bit: maybe we'll have a cold winter and I will need to keep my stomach warm. Passion killer or not.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Two Spiders Named Derek

Has Derek repaired his web with a white cotton zig-zag stitch?

Like most people, I have a horror of being in close proximity to a spider, but when it has set up shop in my flower bed, there are issues.  Recently, I watched one of my favourite shows, "Shed and Buried", starring the Brit, Henry Cole and his buddy Sam Lovegrove.  This is also one of my husband's favorite TV shows: essentially it involves these two funny British motor-bike fanatics digging around in people's sheds to discover, buy and sell basically anything old that has a motor. I love the laid-back repartee between the two guys although the objects they rave over I understand nothing about except that they are old and may turn a profit. One day, they bought something that had a resident spider. Although I live in South Africa, I find that the common British house/garden  spiders are very scary - big, black, scurrying and threatening. (Ours are much smaller but more lethal.)  Of such a one was Henry also scared. Hilariously, he donned a motor bike helmet and gloves and armed with a garden-vac, he cautiously blasted it out of its home to land safely on his lawn. He had christened it "Derek", a fairly nerdish name, which, I feel, gave him the courage to plan his attack. Similarly, I named my spider, "Derek" and immediately found him to be less threatening.  I don't object to him per se, understanding that the average spider consumes about 2000 bugs a year,  however, I can't get around his web to pull out the weeds behind my petunias.  Thus, we have achieved an uneasy truce: my weeds continue to thrive and Derek sticks to his guns and won't move. I gave up trying to identify him until I finally realised my husband had given me a book on "Insects", (duh!).  After correct research, I think I have discovered him to be a harmless "Rain spider",  which sounds kinda peaceful, don't you think?      


Sunday, 29 January 2017

You Can't Win 'em All

My half-size plants

Grenadillas doing well - we have perhaps 100
I did have plants in all 3 beds - others dug up already
I am talking about spousal arguments.  My husband and I have had an on-going 'discussion' about what to plant in his/our 'flower' beds in our back garden.  He has been determined to have only vegetables while I have campaigned for some flowers as well, as my brother and his wife had promised to visit In February and I wanted something to look pretty in the back garden. I offered a compromise in the form of a row of short flowers at the front which would allow the grenadillas, fruit trees etc. to grow, supported by wires, up the wall. This started well, but unfortunately, owing to the now extremely rich, composted soil (designed for the fruit and vegetables), the Cosmos, requiring only poor soil, duly grew to about 6', and for a long time remained stubbornly green with no flowers. My husband has grumbled constantly about this, while I waited three months for the flowers and during which time, he claimed, the grenadillas were dying. This proved to be untrue (see pic) but he stuck to his guns, so I stuck to mine. This morning, feelings were running high again, so I decided to do the right thing and snuck outside to cut my beautiful flowers down to about 2' while my husband was in the shower. This, I felt, would show magnanimity on my part - I would prove to be the better person and would also give him a nice surprise.  I forgot that when I went into the shed to get the shears, the burglar alarm would go off, which it duly did. I dashed back to the house and up the stairs to grab his cell phone from next to our bed in order to answer when the Armed Response people phoned. When they did phone I was back outside and able to answer. I was throwing the cuttings over the wall,  (our house backs on to an open field area), when I heard an irate voice shouting from our dressing-room  (forgot he would be getting dressed by the window), asking why I was chucking my flowers over the wall when they would make perfectly good compost?  Surprise ruined, I was very annoyed with this ungrateful reaction. Needless to say, his next question was to ask why I was carrying his phone and I had to pretend I was helping by fielding possible calls while he was in the shower and I was in the garden.  Now I am faced with the difficulty of getting hold of his phone again to erase the call from the Alarm people in order to cover my tracks. Oh what a tangled web we weave.  The cherry on the cake is that my brother is not going to visit after all. Some big project has come up at work and he has to postpone his trip. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Reluctant Chairlady (or She Who Hesitates is Lost)

I've always been a follower myself  (google pic)

I had only been a member of our local Ladies' Club for a few months when the outgoing Chairlady approached me and asked me to take over her post. She was returning to Scotland for her twilight years... Slightly staggered as I was so new, I dithered, offering the excuse that I was very often not able to attend meetings. Why did she ask me?  I then recalled that I had chatted to one of the ladies at our last meeting, (we had both been teachers) but I didn't know that she had also done a stint as Chairlady for two years). As it happened both the secretary and the treasurer had resigned at the same time. They already had volunteers for those positions. After a hectic family Christmas, we went on a local cruise with MSC up our West Coast for 5 days.  Let me say only that they had cut the ship in half and built in more cabins without extending any other facilities, so that there was dreadful queueing for food, theatre seats etc.  (Royal Caribbean forever!)  MSC is building another 12 cruise ships over the next few years (can it be greed?  They already operate 480 cargo ships).  Anyway, when we got back there was an e-mail waiting for me - would I again consider being Chairlady? After a couple of days, I thought I had a few ideas about how it could work if I was absent for any meeting, thinking to myself, well, they must now be desperate - how can I really refuse if no-one else will do it?  However, when I phoned back, I was told that a long-time member had agreed to do the job, but would I please be a Team Leader for the snacks, tasked also with remembering everyone's birthdays on my team (I don't do birthdays) and with finding a speaker twice a year.  (I know no-one in this town and I am not interested in food).  So more fool me.  I should have agreed in the first place.  I thought I would introduce the meetings with a few choice quotes from Shakespeare and other of my favourite authors.  Too late now.  Still, I am going to work on gathering suitable quotes for two years time - when I shall volunteer for the position of Chairlady.