Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mistaken Identity

The two of us

I am talking about who/what was the guilty party?  We may look like the epitome of a happy, loving couple  - who doesn't on a boat cruise - but believe me (all you long-married guys will nod), we have our noisy disagreements and the odd swearing match. A year ago, we bought a new car: a Rav 4 (Sextant also has one).  We were delighted with it, but in several respects the car is paranoid regarding security features. e.g. it screams in panic if we reverse with our trailer attached "You are going to bump into something!!!"  It's taken my husband several hours of scrolling through all the digital screen menus to find the "Off" button for this.  It has one other annoying safety feature which we can't disable: when you exit the car and close the door, all four doors immediately lock, so if you wanted to retrieve something from the back seat, you have to unlock again and press the 'unlock' button on the dash before you can open the door. This is all very well but it results in a lot of frustration/cursing because neither of us has been able to reconcile with this feature. The last time this happened, I threw up my arms in exasperation, and my husband blew his top because he thought I was blaming him. I yelled that actually I was blaming the car.  When I thought about it later, when tempers had cooled, I realised that in fact, I was fed up with myself. How long is it going to take me to have patience with this feature?  (NB. He still doesn't believe me. Note to self:  You are old enough to learn self-control!)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

"Sleeve" or did she mean "Armhole"? (Rag dolls)

The bigger one seems to have suffered a leg-shortening
I was lucky to be given 3 kits to make small rag dolls a while ago and as I am not the world's best hand-sewer, nor do I really like working with tiny things, but all the little bits were in the kit, so when I was looking for a new project  - I had a go, reassured as the style of sewing was described as 'naive/primitive'. Definitely my kind of stitching. All went swimmingly, I actually found it kind of therapeutic until I got to sewing up the side seams. A stickler for following instructions to the letter (or so I thought), I ended up with a dress that wouldn't do up at the back by about 2 inches, and the sides were so wide, they looked like something out of the 17th century French court. All because the pattern spoke about sewing up as far as the "Sleeves" (written like that).  Therefore I tried to make sleeves.  To cut a long story short, I had to unpick my effort and start again, this time trying to make it look like the picture, and attach the gathered bits straight up to the yoke. Had the pattern said "Armholes" - light would have dawned.  Thought I would show you a pattern detail so you can see where I went wrong.  See "Cut to here" made me think it was for a sleeve seam.  It doesn't help that I used to be a pedantic teacher of English. Anyway, I got it right in the end. This will be a gift for my 8-year-old granddaughter (the smaller one doesn't play with dolls) - there will be two identical twins with the slightly bigger one in the middle.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Very Very Amateur Birdwatchers

Piet-my-vrou - common in our garden

Having retired close to the Westcoast National Park, we have become enthusiastic, if deplorably slap-dash birdwatchers.  Usually, we go for a gentle stroll down to the nearest bird hide which borders a protected area of our lagoon, armed with decent binoculars each, but usually forgetting our bird book.  The hide has a few helpful photographs on the walls depicting the most common birds and we argue in fierce whispers as to their identification with what is outside, (but not if there are serious birders present  - witness huge lenses on their cameras).  Then absolute, polite silence is observed. Sometimes it is easy, we know heron from a seagull, for example, but often the "little brown jobs" defeat us and no amount of comparing pages in the bird book when we get home seems to be conclusive, even if we have managed to take a photo.  It's awesome though to read that many of the birds are visitors from the far north, meaning Russia, and one constantly marvels at their determination to get here, to the Southern tip of Africa. What works a little better is to listen to an individual bird call and look it up on the App our son bought for my husband's birthday on his cell phone. This beats the book because each bird photo is accompanied by it's song.  We have often had naughty fun briefly teasing the birds by playing their song.  At least when we are dive-bombed by an indignant sunbird we know we have got the right one. My husband takes the biscuit for bird identification. "What do you think that was?" I ask.  "Oh, that was a normal bird," says he. We are saving up to go on a course.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

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The great thing about Mitch's books are their deceptive simplicity and their brevity - you can read through either "Tuesdays with Morrie" or this one in a couple of hours and their message lingers and touches.
I guess most of us spend time in our later years wondering why we are here, have we achieved anything and is there anything hereafter?
In this novel,  Mitch explores the idea that we are inter-connected in sometimes unexpected ways: our contact with others, no matter how brief, has a domino effect. He suggests that we might bump into five people in Heaven - we may not even have known them all - but each can solve an unanswered question about something traumatic that happened in our lives. It's food for thought. A lovely book.  The writer is sensitive, thoughtful, creative and easy and compulsive to read. The central character, a seemingly grouchy old man is redeemed before our eyes. His questions are answered in fascinating ways. Recommended.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Into the Dark

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I have deliberately made this the not-quite-correct title of a new British television series which I thought I would like (in case I mistakenly describe the main characters) .  We watched ten minutes of the first episode and decided NO.  It is a detective thriller set in the North of the UK but the characters are so contrived to be politically correct - it is painful to watch.  There is the requisite obese lady police constable, the rather ugly two main characters  (sorry, but we are used to the beautiful when we watch American shows), the black boss detective in charge, the Indian forensics guy and - of course, the mixed marriage central couple - usually a white man with a black woman.  I feel as if we are being systematically brain-washed into believing this is the way of the world.  I still think that people are usually physically attracted to those who are the most like themselves.  I make no apology if you think I am being racist: I happen to think nature knows best.  I accept that in the end the world's population will all be a 'khaki colour" and maybe that is ultimately a good thing?  Would it stop all wars if we all belonged to the same gene pool?  Meanwhile, I am glad to have a wide choice of what to watch on TV.  At the moment, we have opted for a series called "Versailles" about Louis XIV and the building of Versailles. After 11 episodes, I am finally tiring of the exquisite costumes and sets and the court gossip and intrigues and am suitably horrified at the life style of the nobles and the poverty of the masses (the only tax payers). An American show I am fascinated by is "Animal Kingdom" starring a shockingly plastic-surgery-altered Ellen Barkin. The family dynamics and plot are so far pretty intriguing. How wicked can a mother be? Luckily, my husband and I both enjoy this show - despite the obligatory homosexual son.  What a world.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Daughter of the Short Memory

For my mother's sewing machine
Anyone recognise this?  Yes, it's the instruction book from a 1959, state of the art, sewing machine. My mother always had the latest appliances and she was always sewing and knitting  (Passap knitting machine). Thus when she finally got a new one, I got to bring (with some strengthening of my right arm) this extremely sturdy old thing back to South Africa. It did everything, had all the amazing attachments like the 'roll hemmer' and a vast array of embroidery stitches. When my daughter got married and needed a machine, I lent her this one, having preserved its instruction book, which fitted tidily inside the lid in a niche designed for it. A couple of years later, she gave the machine back, having preferred a cheap, light Chinese job, but minus the instruction book.  She claimed adamantly that she had never had it !!  At this point, I was not only very annoyed, as said book had been guarded  by me for 30 years, but I needed to lend the machine to an old lady, a prolific sewer, whose own one had packed up.  I had to give it to her without the book.  Amazingly, her ancient husband did a Google exercise, found the manual and printed it all out.  In the course of time they returned the machine, but the printed pages were rather blurry, nothing like as useful as the original. A year after that, having moved house, my daughter produced the precious book, airily declaring that she had 'found it among my things' and hotly denying that she had ever said she didn't have it (???)  I was open-mouthed and speechless.
On reflection, I remembered lending them various things which they claim not to have had:  viz a large gazebo-like tent, a high riser  (car child seat) amongst others. The silver lining is that the machine now resides with one of my sisters-in-law, whose lovely Bernina was stolen from the back of their pick-up truck. Soon she will be in possession of the original book: she's older than me, so I know she will appreciate it.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Husband Blameless as Usual

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It is not often my husband is careless with his phone, but in this instance he couldn't find it, even when I called it up, it went straight to Voicemail.  Failing to locate it in all the usual places, he retraced his steps as far as the bathroom  - and there it was, staring up at him at the bottom of the bucket of shower water that we have been keeping daily for flushing the toilet for the last few months because of our severe drought conditions and municipal water restrictions. It's always in the same place.  This did not stop my husband railing at me (and the bucket) for being in such a stupid place. The phone had presumably fallen out of his pocket on standing up and slipped soundlessly into the adjacent water. Hastily snatching it from it's half-an-hour submersion, he grabbed my hairdryer and gave it a 5-minute blow-dry.  Thereafter, his Apple worked perfectly.
Much to our surprise. It hadn't been sold to us as waterproof.  NB. the bucket remains in its original place. Our drought continues.....