Monday, 14 December 2009

Exploding the Sock Myth


Years ago I was told that if you had a household help or maid here in South Africa, you would slowly find that your pairs of socks became singletons, the theory being that the maid would have removed one and would then wait for you to throw away the other. Not so! I haven’t had any help in the house for 18 years but when I did a wash for small son the other day there were no less than 12 single socks afterwards! That must be some kind of record. There is still no sign of the missing ones.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Just a little thing but....


I got my first Christmas card today - from my cousin's daughter. When my mother died earlier this year, all of us that were close to her took home a few precious souvenirs. I've marvelled at how her ring and her watch fit me exactly and what a comfort it is to wear them every day. I have one or two of her flower vases, filled with flowers and her two favourite handbags - they are just the shape and size I like. After nearly nine months, I thought I was accustomed to her absence, then this card, "I'm using Aunty Joan's knitting needles to knit winter jerseys for my boys". It brought a great lump to my throat.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Job Ideas for Small Son


My husband is now petrified that our son will make a habit of ‘lazing around the house’ and continually comes up with entertaining job ideas for him. The first was vetoed by me - on the grounds that it might be dangerous on several counts for it comprised an offer from a family member to drive a pick-up truck to the vegetable market at 4.00 a.m. daily and deliver same around town until 2.00 p.m. This would not fit in with son’s biological clock at all and I could not see him lasting a week never mind being able to select fresh vegetables - as he doesn’t know a fresh veg from a rotten one as he avoids eating them whenever he can. Another idea is for him to go out on a tuna fishing boat as crew - sounds like fun, but I know that is also very early, long hours and not just a walk in the park (as it were). I feel that an untutored youth needs to start with something more menial, like waiting tables. Both my elder children did this, from around 15 years old - as they keep reminding me. Let’s face it - this last one is just spoilt. He’s going to need a wake-up call e.g. no more pocket money as of Dec.31st. Another idea suggested has been to kick him out of the house but my husband is adamant on that one: he believes firmly that your child must always be able to regard his home as a sanctuary and that there will always be place for him there. Wonder if he would still say that if said son is still at home in 10 years time? Not unheard of theses days. Still, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. Matric exam results first - on 28th December. Thank goodness we’ll be able to enjoy Christmas!

Starting Off Small



Feel very sorry for my husband today: he decided to chop out the shower floor tiles because we have long had a leak which has finally penetrated through to the TV room and the paint there is peeling off the walls. He had already cut up left-over tiles into small squares last week-end to re-tile the floor and after a triumphant visit to the hardware store we returned home today with the requisite sealant, waterproof grout material etc and he got to work with the hammer and chisel. Unfortunately, he had decided against purchasing the new “Grout Lift” which was a mistake as grout is a devil of a job to excavate and the tool (a glorified Stanley Knife) which they sell for this proved to be useless. Then disaster struck! While banging away at the bottom row of tiles (in order to play it safe he decided to take off one row vertically and paint the tarry stuff up the side a bit) a tile on the next row up broke in the middle and fell off. Last I saw when I delivered his tea and muffin, was him gloomily staring what started off as a smallish job and which has now turned into a big one.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Travelling Babe



I forgot to mention that the other drama at the check-in desk was that my little granddaughter of 3 months only had a British passport, having been born in London and could therefore not be allowed into South Africa with her permanently returning parents without a return ticket - which my son duly had to buy. (Of course, he should have known this.) However, I do hope this will remind them to get her dual- citizenship sorted out post haste!

After the Last Exam



November 28th, 2007


The last exam is over, except for the controversial rewrite of the English Lit. paper, so I have one son at a loose end. He has announced vague plans for getting a job this week, but his father has decreed that his bedroom has to be painted out first. It took him a day to clear out his stuff and another day to bribe a pal to help him. He finally got stuck in today and there is at least a strong smell of paint in there (complaints of headache and sore arm from squeezing the Painter’s Mate tube). When my husband and I inspected the work we noticed four small symmetrical lumps in the middle of one wall. Upon enquiry we were told that this was Prestik which he couldn’t get off and therefore painted over, hoping we wouldn’t notice. Will anyone employ this boy? His main idea has been to follow a friend to the Antarctic on a boat. This other 18-year-old has apparently secured a R20,000 a month job for himself, three months on and three off. We have suggested our son find out the facts. He has also been offered a job by a family member which involves getting up at 3.00 a.m., starting work at 4.00 and finishing at 2.00 p.m. I have vetoed this idea for several obvious reasons. Unfortunately, another friend has just landed his first modelling job so now my son has stars in his eyes and will be off to the modelling agency once he has finished his other jobs at home viz. pressure-cleaning the walls of the house and filling in the hole left by the guys who took out the tree on our sidewalk. He also has to clean and polish my car before he can borrow it again. Tomorrow he has to hand out brochures for a friend’s brother - to earn the money to pay the joining fee for the modelling agency. And then maybe we’ll let him relax for a bit.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Visit to the Dietician


My husband’s insidious weight gain has driven us to the last resort, the dietician. This is after years of various diets, including the blood test one - he lost 20 kilos that time and got medals for achievement when he was the only man on Weigh-Less in our area (all put back now, but slowly over about 7 years.) However, it is the last straw when trying on 5 pairs of size 38 trousers in the same shop, and only one fits. The other four can’t all have been cut too small for their professed size? So off we went. A delightful young, slim lady, unmarried, no children and only cooks for herself - probably my daughter’s age, ushered us into her smart office. Thence followed an hour-long appointment (bill to match) which basically yielded nothing new to us seasoned dieters but we tried to match her enthusiasm and we all deduced finally that there was nothing much wrong with my husband’s current diet (based as it is on previous experience) - but his lack of exercise was the glaring fly in the ointment. We duly promised for the nth time that this would be rectified, half an hour a day every day. I was asked to pick up the ‘eating plan’ two days later. When I went for this I thought I would just pick up an envelope, but no, another hour-long appointment to ‘explain’ the self-explanatory two- page plan (bill to match). At one point I was unable to totally conceal my impatience and the young lady said that I looked a bit depressed. I couldn’t tell her that I had washing in my machine that had to be dried and ironed for my husband’s business trip the next day, nor that I was bored to my toenails with eating and cooking suggestions - having cooked non-stop for the last thirty years, nor that my husband will not eat spinach, lemon juice, brussel sprouts, any fresh herbs etc. Most especially I couldn’t tell her that the only reason we had come was in the hope that she would sanction his daily double whiskey as stress release. Naturally, this was the first thing to go. The only thing we hadn’t known before was that you can’t use virgin olive oil to cook with. Apparently, when hot, it mutates into as much of a villain as fully saturated fat!!! Dieters may only cook ‘dry’, add things like fruit juices and scatter a bit of olive oil on your food afterwards. We may use oats as a substitute for gravy - but that sounds like a sludgy mess to me but we’ll give it a go. We’ll start next week.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Return of Big Son


Big son and his wife have finally stopped dithering and decided to return to South Africa for good after eight years of a successful and comfortable life in London. The main reason for this is the arrival of their first baby and the realisation that they are missing out on extended family life and the advantages there would be in having both sets of grandparents readily available! They have done what they set out to do i.e.- lots of travelling. NB. They said their cheapest holiday anywhere had been to LA and the Grand Canyon. So they arrived yesterday morning in Cape Town after a not uneventful departure from London. Firstly, the shipping guys arrived early to fetch their 32 boxes and sundry furniture with the result that my distracted daughter-in-law authorised them to take their chest of drawers still containing most of my son’s clothes! At the airport, SAA was unrelentingly strict with their luggage allowance and they had to remove 4 kilos of luggage from each of their three cases and buy another suitcase for these items, and leave it with one of the posse of close friends who had come to see them off. Prior to all that my son found they had seriously misjudged the amount of stuff they owned and had begged space in a friend’s garage for another ten boxes and his bicycle. Luckily, they had been able to sell their car to another friend. On arrival at our house after an ecstatic reception from their arrival committee here, it was discovered that the baby’s suitcase with all her clothes was missing. Frantic phone calls later and a quick trip back to the airport and the case was recovered. We don’t know if they will settle here - they are still shell-shocked at the cost of our disposable diapers. For the moment, my son has to travel back to London for one week a month, so he will be able to bring back more of their things each time. Surely half of his luggage allowance will be diapers! Still, one thing at a time. They are looking forward to a great family Christmas in the hot African sun! I’ve carefully not mentioned that we often have rain on Christmas day.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Customer Service de Luxe

Apologies for lack of blogs! My son is returning home from the UK for good with his wife and baby - we have been madly painting and decorating as they will stay with us for a while.......

My brother, a nostalgia freak who can’t throw away his old tools, sent me the following e-mail correspondence between himself and the Sales Manager at Presto International Ltd:

Subject: History and drill bits

Hi there, I'm thrilled to discover that Presto has survived depressions and assetstrippers and is alive and well in Sheffield. I would love to replacesome of the the broken drill bits in my 20 year old Presto imperial drill index with genuine items, can you tell me of a toolmerchant/stockist in the north Worcestershire/southwestBirmingham/Dudley area or website that could help?

Many thanks
M
Good Afternoon M,

It is very good to hear such kind words. Yes we are still alive andmanufacturing drills in Sheffield ( even though we are now owned by a Chinese operation) We hope to continue and develop. Drop me a line with your address and I would be happy to send you a complimentary drill set. Look forward to hearing from you

Best Regards

Kevin BlackwellSales ManagerPresto International Ltd,

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Saturday Giggle



My daughter was most upset today as a truck side-swiped her car while squeezing past and knocked off and destroyed her wing mirror. I was sympathising with her and telling big son about it on the phone, when husband was heard to say meaningfully in the background...

"Why do you automatically blame the truck driver?"

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

None so Bilnd as Those Who Will Not See



It’s amazing how you just don’t see things or people you know if they are not where you expect them to be. The most obvious examples would be indicators on cars which on your old car were on the left of the steering wheel are now on the right hand side - how long does it take to get used to that! Ditto the petrol-filling cap. Some-one moves something in the fridge onto a different shelf and apparently it can’t be found (husband suffers from this kind of myopia). We got a new vacuum cleaner - I couldn’t find the pipe extension for how long because it fits inside the other pipe and for ages I just draped the electric cord over the top until I discovered the correct fittings for it were on the side. The worst has been that I have been convinced that the new video machine has no counters which slays me because that is how I locate and play things I have recorded. I searched the instruction booklet and went to ‘Menu’ and listened to the funereal voice of the ‘help’ and watched carefully as she went through all the options. Nothing. In the end I sent e-mails to the ‘Contact Us’ address - no reply - and in the end telephoned their help desk - just follow the lady’s lead, I was told. Back to square one. Finally, I swallowed my pride and asked my husband. He sat patiently with the instruction book and abracadabra the numbers appeared! (Press OK four times - the last page of the instruction book - not on the Menu at all.) How smug was he. But the display is on the TV screen, and not visible while you are recording! I got my own back the following week-end when my husband had me searching all over the other house where the old vacuum cleaner now resides, for one of its pipes. Blow me down if it wasn’t still attached to the machine in its rightful place. He had been looking inside the other pipe.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Gone For Good, Harlan Coben

November, 2007

I discovered this author only recently but am glad to see he is on the bestsellers' stand as he is a delightful writer with a flair for comedy. Although he takes us into the sewers of American society where there are so many horrors, he does it often with a light touch that makes him very readable and not a bit depressing. His originality is refreshing and his plotting artful and satisfying, take this description of a transvestite prostitute:
Many transvestites are beautiful. Raquel was not. He was black, six-six, and comfortably on the north side of three hundred pounds. He had biceps like giant hogs wrestling in sausage casing, and his six-o-clock shadow reminded me of Homer Simpson’s. He had a voice so high pitched it made Michael Jackson sound like a teamster boss - Betty Boop sucking helium….Raquel claimed to be twenty-nine years old, but he’d been saying that for the six years I’d known him. He worked five nights a week, rain or shine, and had rather a devoted following. He could get off the streets if he wanted. He could find a place to work out of, set up appointments….But Raquel liked it out here. That was one of the things people did not get. The street may be dark and dangerous, but it was also intoxicating. The night had an energy, an electricity. You felt wired out on the street.”
(Gone for Good, p.65)
I’ve now read a number of his books and not once have I been disappointed - unlike some others who go downhill when they get prolific - Jeffrey Deaver for one.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Little Pink Fairies

4th November 2007

I was caught on the hop re Halloween last year - forgetting about knocks on the door just after dark and pretending to be scared of six-year-olds dressed up as witches and other nightmarish creatures in masks. It is not a tradition I grew up with and it only really started in our street ten years ago when all our street’s children were small and the lady round the corner had opened a toy shop, so she was selling the costumes and masks. As the street’s children are now all grown up, last year we didn’t even have one knock at the door. Early this week however, a note was put in our letter-box to remind us to have sweets for the night of the 31st. It turned out that one neighbour was having a party and when small son went over for a recce at about 5.30 because our street was full of parked cars, he came rushing back to tell me that there were about 15 little children in the house all in the final stages of having their faces made up and costumes put on. Our neighbours belong to an Athletics Club and these were their (younger) friends’ children. In a panic, I had to rush out to the nearest shop. Just as well. Although I was prepared to find opening the door for an hour or so a real nuisance (that’s when cook dinner), I have to say, even my stony heart melted at the sight of the first lot - seven little girls in adorable pink & white costumes with fairy wings. They even had big sisters at the rear - dressed very convincingly as Playboy bunnies. After dark, came the boys with their scarier costumes. And as always, although I had made up small packets of identical goodies, you get the one who is sure his friend has a better packet and grabs it in favour of his own. There’s always one.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A Matter of Tact

October 15th 2007

It’s always nice to speak to my son in London and he phones a lot (misses us). It was his birthday last week (28) and although we all sent cards well in advance there was a postal strike their side and he only received them a week late. I thought mine was a nice one - cute pencils with laughing faces in a pencil pot “To the sharpest pencil in the box” I had written, mindful of the need to make my absent child feel special. He pretended to grumble about his sister’s one though - something about “How does it feel to be getting old so fast?” I suddenly remembered one he has sent me a few years back - a picture of a hippopotomas in a very tiny bikini. I reminded him. Thoughtful silence for a moment. Then, “I just thought it was a cool picture.”
Well, there you are then - but I must say, the length of the silence gave me food for thought.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Heart-Rending Love Story


October 24th 2007

We all have our favourite romantic film but an interview with Claude LeLouch on our TV recently reminded me forcibly of mine and I never knew who the director was until now. It was called “A Man and a Woman” (in French), it starred Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant and it was released in 1966 when I was 16. I was entranced. Now I see that the famous director/producer/script writer & cameraman to boot, made the film on a tight budget. He was asked about the significance of the indoor scenes - shot in black and white - which it was thought gave it great artistic significance. Oh, he smiled, it was just much cheaper than colour. This modest, quiet man then commented that Hollywood movies today are big on budget, low on plot whereas his own movies tend to be small money but dealing with complicated subjects. He was in the news because his latest film “Cross-tracking” (I think) was shown at a film festival at the same time as “Oceans 13”. When his film was over it received a standing ovation for no less than 20 minutes. Got to see that.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Nasty Neighbours


Why is it that some people are just born to be aggressive? We have such neighbours on both sides of our house. Both look for any opportunity to fight - and have upset almost everyone in our street over the last 15 years (and they show no signs of ever moving.) Regarding the lady on our left, my husband has had nightmares and sleepless nights over her and has told me that if her house burnt down he wouldn’t lift a finger to save her (not true in the event) - but this from a person who is the kindest man in the world and is always the first to help anyone in trouble. The man on our right rushed out this morning, all guns blazing, because two guys from the municipality had the gall to be standing on his property looking at his water meter. Where was their job sheet, he demanded? How could they pitch up with no warning? What had a leak in another street got to do with his house? It turned out that the aforementioned leak had been caused by someone putting up a wall. In the halcyon days when this suburb was built, no-one had any walls in front of their homes and the municipality, perhaps without sufficient forethought, placed many of the water meters exactly on the boundary lines. Today, they are often in the way of wall foundations and so the municipality has decided to move them (free of charge) for anyone that requires it. Naturally, our neighbour won’t ever make any changes at all to his property, and as he pointed out, the meter has stood in its present position for 40 years so no thank you. In the confusion, I overlooked the probability that my husband would appreciate having ours moved, anxious as I was to get back into my house. The same happened when we asked the municipality to trim the tree on our pavement: they came when I was out and the neighbour rushed out and created a scene and they went hastily away and did nothing at all. I’ll have to phone them back. I even went to see a psychologist about these miserable neighbours - such a nervous wreck was I. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said - some people just enjoy being assholes. It’s like breathing to them.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mature Mom



The tea lady (aged 42) was having a good laugh the other day in my husband’s office - and not only because she was handing over the 5 kilograms of wet tea-bags. First, she noticed (huge guffaws) that my husband’s fly was open (so much for having a new zip put in last week!) Second, she told him that she was six months pregnant. Now Margaret is not a small lady and has grown up children already so my husband joked with her and asked her why she wanted another child at her age? More huge laughs: “Ach, meneer - dis net dit my man het nog baaie lewe in hom!” (“Oh sir, it’s just that my husband still has lots of life in him! (Afrikaans). No worries. I am sure that this will be a healthy baby and will grow up in a loving stable home. I wish that my daughter could be as relaxed about her first - but then the tea lady can’t afford those terrifying tests.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Omens



I am finding it hard to believe what has happened to me so far today….I sat down at the ‘phone table’ in the passage and it collapsed under me. (My husband made it at school- 42 years ago.) I side-swiped my prescription glasses once too often while dusting - they fell onto the tiles and a lens broke. I forgot that I had put my bunch of keys down the back of my shorts’ waistband (don’t ask) and they fell into the toilet and at the moment guys are taking out a big tree in our front garden and its roots are unbelievably entangled in the municipality’s electricity cables. It looks as if there are black snakes mating down there. I can’t look. In contrast to these ominous signs, the flower on my kitchen window sill has produced two perfect blooms during the night. Maybe I am being told I should get my eyes tested, let people get on with their work and believe that otherwise all is well. Oh, and I went out specially to buy an urgently needed item and came back without it, having forgotten what I went for. But that’s normal.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Same Old, Same Old



I was thinking at gym this morning, how amazingly patient our teacher is: every week there are new members and she has to explain from scratch everything that is involved and all the way through the hour-long lesson she encourages and helps us and explains exactly which muscle groups we are using etc. etc. Of course, this is what all good teachers do. It used to drive me nuts though: one year I had six grade 8 classes and 2 grade 9s, 13 - 15 year olds, about 36 in a class and many sharing desks - and I had to teach the same lessons over and over again in the same week. I fear that those that came to me towards the end of the week got a bit of a raw deal. God forbid that I should be given the same classes the following year. I would have gone mad. I hate routine - once I thought I was losing my mind when for a short period I rebelled against getting up in the morning and going to bed at night! In those days we got one free period a day (if we were lucky). I compare this to the ridiculously idealistic situations in movies where the teacher devotes herself to one particular class - apparently her only class that day - and changes them from street ruffians into model citizens. What was the name of that one with Michelle Pfeiffer? There have been others since. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to teach today. At least then we were allowed a modicum of disciplinary measures. I wonder what the future holds. Our government is already looking at plans to revise our newly-revised education system as the latest one is proving itself disastrous. Hopefully, the wheel will turn back to the good old days of the 3 Rs and most adults will again have a basic level of literacy. We now have a lot of private schools in South Africa - all with enormously huge fees and a big non-refundable deposit up front. The teachers there are so concerned with ‘keeping bums on seats’, they have to be especially nice to the children so that parents don’t remove them from the school.

A Surfeit of Teabags!



My husband staggered in last night after work bearing a large, obviously weighty plastic bag. It proved to be no less than 5 kilograms of wet tea bags!! He had asked the tea lady to save some for him and she took only two days to assemble these - 165 employees in the building. He expressed due gratitude and I am now relieved of my own collecting duties (a poor yield of only 6 bags in two days at home). The new arrivals are now resting on trays in the sun in my back garden, looking for all the world like piles of autumn leaves awaiting disposal. I hope my husband is now satisfied - after all, I don’t think we have more than one braai a month. Somewhat aggrieved, he says that I don’t appreciate his efforts at economy - apparently, the gas for his blow torch is expensive. My mother would say this is penny-wise and pound foolish. I’m just glad they are no longer in my kitchen.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hubby's New Thing


My husband, like most men, loves a gadget: witness his love affair with the GPS, leaf vacuum, garden shredder, home generator etc. etc. His current fad is very irritating if not as noisy or expensive viz an economical way to light the braai (barbeque) fire. I have been asked to squeeze out my used tea bags and dry them with a view to soaking them in paraffin for use at some vague date in the future (because when at home, he currently blasts the fire into a volcano with his blow torch). This new plan is for when we go on a ‘back to nature’ holiday. In the meantime I can feel my patience sapping fast as my kitchen looks untidily like someone in the last stages of severe penury with tea bags in various staging of drying in little plastic tubs on the window sills and every other available space. I do hope this idea doesn’t work as I have visions of ubiquitously drying tea-bags like stockings and knickers in the bathrooms when we shared digs as students.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Lesson Learnt?




I had to ask small son for the umpteenth time to move his car out from under the carport down the side of the house (his father’s parking place) before said father’s imminent return from his day’s work. Small son was typically full of excuses - this time he had needed the hosepipe on the wall to wash out his car’s upholstery as a flask of coffee had exploded on the back seat, covering everything in stale coffee and curdled milk. I was secretly rather pleased at this, knowing how much elbow grease has to be employed to remove such awful smells and hazarding a guess that the said flask had been reposing in the car for more than a week - along with bits of left-overs in McDonald’s packets, sundry apple cores etc. etc. Will this have taught small son a lesson? I think not. Some character flaws are thicker than water (not quite the right metaphor but you catch my drift?) - one of which is laziness. The correlation of the results of being lazy with the ensuing need for hard work have not yet sunk into small son’s brain viz. an unlovely history of failed exams, to give but one example.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Self Knowledge

October 31st 2007

When push comes to shove, we all have to live with ourselves and we can’t escape our own skins. So it helps to be honest and verbalize our own faults (at least in private) and analyze them in a life-long attempt at self-improvement. Thus I have long since confessed to myself my addiction to blogging and to my computer in general and have acknowledged that my house is beginning to show visible signs of neglect which I shall have to do something about. Even my husband is running his hand along furrows of dust and starting to ask what did I do today? This is totally my own fault - I forgot to fetch his favourite trousers from the zip repair lady (for the 3rd day in a row) and he really wanted to wear them today, thus stupidly focussing his attention on 'how did I spend my day?'. Otherwise, as long as I have a nice dinner ready at night, keep the ironing up to date, the garden fairly neat, the pool backwashed and make him oats and a packed lunch in the morning - I can be a free agent for the rest of the day. I can almost convince him, of not myself, that this is a full-time list of things to do, but to be honest - it can all be done in a couple of hours. Witness the day I asked an estate agent to value the house - I cleaned and tidied up like a mad thing and got far more done than I usually do in a week. Now when it came to my son’s second Maths exam this morning, I was full of sage advice viz “Don’t go to bed too late, what you don’t know now you will never know, relax, be very calm when you go into the exam, have a good breakfast, organise your time while you are writing, leave the hard questions and go back to them later….and so on.” Of course, when I was in the same boat at his age, I was a bag of nerves, hadn’t prepared properly, often worked all night and faced an exam bleary-eyed, with crib notes on my wrist, gazing around at everyone else writing and not even picking up my pen and as often as not, had gone to the pub the night before. Hypocrite!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Reversing the Trailer - Part 2



When we left to go home on Sunday, I was somewhat surprised to hear that I was to be given another go at reversing the trailer, this time out of the garage onto the road. My husband seemed much calmer this time: after all, we had managed to garden together all morning and on Saturday night his team had won the rugby. Things had not gone perfectly however on Saturday because although he had sanded and oiled the new chest of drawers beautifully and had put it in the bedroom, I had been cross because there was a trail of sawdust all over my newly vacuumed carpets as well as dirt over the tiles upstairs when he had rushed up from the garden to answer his cell phone. No matter, I would not belabour the point about always creating more work. This time the reversing went a bit better and we set off for the easy part of my lesson - driving with the trailer behind the car. All fine until we went up a hill and over a speed bump - very slowly, I might add, because our car is very low on the ground - but there was an ominous sounding crash, whereupon my husband yelled at me to stop, rushed out of the car and did something to the trailer. It transpired that he had forgotten to hitch the trailer over the ball-thing, and it was hanging only by its safety chain. So he hadn’t been so calm after all.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Working Together



No, this is not the politically-correct race-relations stuff: this is the much more difficult, no-holds barred marital relations stuff. It started like this: we were a bit late leaving so my husband was stressed about getting all the jobs done in time for the rugby (we were off to work on our other house for the week-end.) When we arrived I decided I wanted a lesson on how to reverse the trailer up to the garage door. This resulted in a great deal of miscommunication as I believe my husband is the worst teacher on earth with a zero tolerance level and also male/female brains seem to work in opposite directions. My plan was to position the car across the street with the trailer behind me, the way I reverse my own car into our garage at home. My husband wanted me to do it the other way round, driving across the pavement in front of the house and approaching from the other direction. I didn’t get this at the time - so tempers got frayed. Then, “Swing!” he shouts, “Which way?” I wonder and promptly choose the wrong one so that the trailer is about to jacknife. Apparently, he was thinking car’s nose and I was thinking steering wheel. At this point he made me get out of the car, lesson aborted and we were both furious. This meant that I stomped off upstairs to unpack kitchen stuff, instead of helping to unload the furniture from the trailer (as planned). Further, I left him to cart the bulky old TV upstairs by himself, thinking that he could fall down with it on top of him for all I cared, whereas he, too cross now to ask for help, made a plan with two sturdy straps and staggered up on his own. I should mention two things: (1) I had already looked up the doctor’s number on my cell phone should my adored husband break a leg or worse and (2) These are not the kind of games you can play unless you have been married for a very long time.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Accidental Eavesdropping

October, 2007

I overheard small son telling his older brother on the phone… “And then the farmer came and we had to jump into the bushes.” So that’s how he got his tic bite fever - they all went surfing where there were reputed to be really great waves one day and had to walk through long grass to the dunes. He got his come-uppance at the doctor though (to where he was rushed after his driving test!). It was one of those days when the doc breezes in, full of good cheer and bonhomie. After I had related the tale of the symptoms, the night sweats etc. the good doctor immediately suspected tic bite fever: “Drop your rods!” he commanded behind the curtain. At first not comprehending, (my son is not a reader and will never be required to do National Service), he finally understood that he was required to remove his jocks and point blank refused (looks of horror, I imagine). Lucky for him, the bite was spotted towards the top of his thigh. NB. The word 'Eavesdropping' started to look funny - so I looked it up. Historically, people would spy on the conversations of others by standing outside their homes, just under the 'eaves'. Huh, that will be the day - can't wait for small son to have his own home!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Back to Blog!


Blogging has had to take a back seat over the past two weeks as my husband has been at home after a carpal tunnel op after which he put his back out as well - so I’ve been pretty tied up as his chief ‘carer’ etc etc. We did get a lot of reading done though and I came across this book which struck a chord. "Mirror Lake" is his first book.


After the Rain, by Thomas Christopher Greene,


There are times in life when the world decides to reveal itself to you. Moments of utter transparent awareness when you see things as they always have been, as they always will be, and you try to find comfort by finding your place in the vastness of it all. And surely, you realise there can be no comfort, for when you look deep into the nature of it all you see only yourself and you see the smallness that is you, the insignificance, and any search you have for something larger, something greater, something that will make that which can never be understood as clear as water, will end in frustration, and if you are not careful, despair or worse.” (Ch.16)


…. Especially if after many years of searching, you find the only woman you could ever love - is your beloved brother’s wife. This is a really well-written love triangle which involves lots of superb and evocative cooking because the characters run their own restaurant in the beautiful Vermont countryside. Sensitively and perceptively written, this is the author’s second book. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Peace and Quiet?

October 18th 2007

I thought I would take some advice and go away while my son is writing his Matric exams (so as to lessen his stress levels!) So when I had the chance to go away for one night to relax at a wine farm, I went. If you are looking for peace and quiet, you won’t find it at a working farm during the week - tractors are on the go from 6.00 a.m. and if there are beautiful expansive lawns a lawnmower will be heard more or less all day long. So although our view was superb and the chalet lovely, it certainly wasn’t peaceful. Midgies were in abundance but they were more bearable than the last place we visited - which was an old labourer’s cottage (charmingly renovated) but next to a field of cows. The flies had to be seen to be believed. Then on the way home this morning, the burglar alarm people phoned twice, first because my son forgot to put the alarm off when he went through to the kitchen on getting up and secondly, because he went off to his English Literature exam and left the sliding door open at the back of the house with the key hanging in it!! (We think a curtain blew through as we have a motion sensor outside). Luckily, our dear neighbour, M, has keys to our house and went to check it out for us and to re-set the alarm. Now, I have tried 3 times to get a technician to show us how to do this - each gave us a different version over the phone - and we clearly didn’t yet have it right, because the alarm went off again later when the municipality arrived, unbelievably, two weeks earlier than they said, to trim the tree on our pavement. The instruction book is so complicated and ambiguous I am wondering if I should have rather done my degree in “English as Translated from the Japanese/East Croatian or Chinese ”.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Driving Test - South African style


My son took his test in my car so he drove me around the test route first, practising all his K53 stuff. Once I got used to him hopping up in his seat like a jack-in-the-box to emphasise his mirror use for the examiner at every intersection, I gave some attention to the way he changes gear on approaching traffic lights. Did you know that instead of changing down (as we were taught), they now approach the lights in 4th gear and only use their brakes? Then while waiting at a red robot - they must be, not in neutral (as we were taught) but already in gear, handbrake on, but playing with the accelerator and the clutch (wearing it out!). I dread to think what else if different. Is this not a dumbing down of the practical part of the test? Oh, and if you take your test in a bakkie (pick-up truck), you don’t have to parallel park. I do support the emphasis on use of the mirror though - so many drivers out there today clearly never use theirs (just ask a motorcyclist). Hopefully, some of this habit will remain after our kids have passed their test. It must be as my mother-in-law used to say, “Plak (stick) it thick and some will stick” as she drilled her children over their homework…. Have to get back to my New York Times crossword now - just heard about it after watching a fascinating documentary “Wordplay” about crossword fanatics. Even Bill Clinton does the Sunday one! I, as a novice, am giving ‘Monday’ a go (struggling a bit as I see my American general knowledge needs jacking up!) I could easily become addicted.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Reluctant Gymer




My husband has 3 pairs of white gym socks which is usually fine as he does not actually attend the gym and alternately means to get fit and attend regularly or decides to give up his membership because of the stress of having to attend twice a month. Usually, he nips in on his way home from work, swipes his card, pretends to read the notice board and then walks out the other side. Sometimes he even forgets to do this for a couple of months and then gets urgent SMSs to the effect that he must attend 7 times before the end of whatever month or his membership will be in jeopardy. Thus inspired, he then goes every day between the 25th and 31st and trains a bit, for about 15 minutes, but one day during such a week there was not a pair of clean socks - I have been requested therefore to buy more and I am objecting. Why not just give up the gym? Oh, yeh, that’s because I first told him he had to go because he is the main member and therefore my son and I get special rates and we really like going. If he stopped going, I emphasised, our membership too would cease. I have since found out this is not the case - but I am keeping my own counsel on this as I would really like him to get fit one day. I’d better give in and get the socks.

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Matter of Conscience


I dragged my husband to the shops on the week-end as he has been grumbling that he needed shoes, trousers and belts for the last two years but by the time we had got the shoes - he wanted to go home, so it was with difficulty that I got him to select trousers and belts. At the till he was champing at the bit, and as the young chap was painfully slow, I took over and quickly folded the things so that he could attend to the card machine. Later that day, w I discovered that I must have folded up the one pair of trousers and packed it before it was rung up at the till and so I hadn’t paid for it. This meant I had to go back the next day and return it. The supervisor seemed incredulous that I should be so honest as to do this and my husband said that the shops allow for ‘shrinkage’ but no matter: conscience dictates. I wondered why there had been no security tag but was informed that these are only put on the expensive items. I once - egged on my friends doing the same - stole a small banana sweet from a shop when I was 10 years old on a school outing - it must have cost about a halfpenny in those days, but my conscience worried me so much I didn’t even eat it but flushed it down the toilet - after which I got sick. I don’t want that to happen again.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Driving Test Stress




It’s sometimes hard to tell - one can be misdirected by circumstantial evidence. Take last week for instance: we took six teenagers away for the week-end for my son’s 18th and four of them had colds or flu - but they badly wanted to enjoy themselves so they jolled (partied) as normal and slept, squashed up in one tiny room, so that they could ‘kuier’ (visit) into the small hours. So when my son got sick on Sunday, complaining of a bad headache (hangover or flu, we thought), but by Tuesday when he had experienced two nights of no sleep, with terrific sweats during the night which refused to be calmed for long by either Disprin or Myprodol, we then thought exam and driving test nerves. I dragged him to school on Tuesday morning because it was the Matrics’ last day and they had to attend school that night - which he did and nearly passed out (because of not eating much for a couple of days we thought), and the headache continued. On Wednesday morning there were dramas about his eventual driving test, but he took it and passed losing only 19 points. Later that afternoon, he had an extra Maths lesson but still had the headache: his tutor was so concerned I finally took him to the doctor that evening. Guess what - tic bite fever !! Suddenly, we all remembered that he had said two weeks previously that he had been bitten by a tic, but in the intervening period we had not given that a thought. I feel bad now that I have given him a hard time this week, but better when I think that a friend of ours - an orthopaedic surgeon - ignored his daughter’s sore arm for a week, basically telling her that she was making a fuss over nothing - actually, it was broken!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Teenage Boys - Saturday night out

October 7th 2007

We took half a dozen of our son’s friends to our second home for the week-end as a belated 18th treat for him - our boat is there. To save my nerves I didn’t travel with them on Friday morning (still holiday time) as now most of them have passed their driving test, so my son was able to drive my car. He should have taken his test last week, but that is another story. I reasoned that I would be such a nervous passenger it would be better if I busied myself at home and went out with my husband after work. They should just phone me when they arrived. This duly took place and the 1 ½ hour trip passed like lightening for me battling as I was with computer problems as usual! I should mention that the new girlfriend came with and as always I marvel that parents allow their children to go off with strangers without even a phone call. No matter. The boys all slept in a room into which two or if necessary three sets of bunk beds can be squeezed and the young lady was given the double bedroom on her own, with me acting as much of a watchdog role as possible. This was not really necessary as they were out to the small hours at the loco disco and hadn’t been back long (4.00 a.m.) before I heard the noise of my car alarm and pricked up my ears to hear my son racing to the front door (surely in a panic!) I heard the door slam and male voices and a car drive away. The next day upon enquiry I found out that the police had noticed a light on in the car (parked on the driveway) and they found an open door which they closed which activated the alarm. Typically, my husband slept soundly through all of this (hearing aids removed) so now I have bargaining power….. “I won’t tell dad how careless you were as long as you…” that’s easy… "get down to your studying the minute we get home."

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Noisy Boys' Toys



There were six leaves lying around our backyard yesterday - husband immediately fetched the noisy ‘leaf sucker’ machine, while I was reaching for the broom. When he drills a hole in the wall, he wants the vacuum cleaner whereas I fetch the dustpan and brush. I like to mop the floor, he prefers to vacuum it. I snip our (tiny) lawn’s edges, peacefully sitting with the shears or secateurs, he fetches the weed-eater. By the time he has untangled the cords and plugged these things in, I have usually finished whatever task. Does he just like the awful noises or is there more to it than that? He does not though, like his cars to be noisy, nor even the motor bike that he once had. Is he normal or different?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Family Gathering

Oh, my husband was responsible for this meal - venison and mutton shins cooked in an enormous 'kaffir pot' as it is called here!








It’s been a busy month so far - visitors for a week while my sister and brother-in-law came to visit while he got his eye operations done. Then off to the Karoo for a big celebration, my husband’s 60th and his eldest sister’s 70th. This has been a big function to organise with most of the (lively) debate being about venue, but after hopefully reviewing facilities at the Gariep Dam in the Karoo and getting a quote for R56,000 for the three nights for the 56 of us - and that was only for the beds - my other sister-in-law put her foot down and said she would host the event on the farm - which is what we had all thought in the first place as it is central - many of us travelling from all over the country from Jo-burg to East London and Cape Town. She and my husband did the nitty gritty, working out the menus and distributing “Please bring the following” lists by spread sheet to each family. Accommodation was the biggest headache, but sundry offers were received from neighbours, so it all worked out in the end and was great fun, everything running according to plan, except the normal drama of punctures in the middle of the night on the ground roads. This usually doesn’t phase anyone, except that this time it happened to a new vehicle my husband had borrowed for the few days and it was discovered that there was no tool kit in the spare wheel compartment. (Heads would roll on Monday when he returned to work!!) This meant a lengthy session at the side of the road with eventually 8 cars, hazard lights on, parked behind each other and about 16 people standing around making helpful suggestions and three under the vehicle endeavouring to get the spare off without tools. This took about an hour but no-one left until it was done. One transfer of a sleeping child did take place so that she could be taken back by her father and put to bed - except that after they had gone her grandfather discovered he had the key to the room in his pocket. (No cell phone reception out there.) On enquiry the next day, I heard that the missing key had not been a problem, as the window was open. All’s well that ends well.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lovers by Nationality - the World's Worst


As reported in our local newspaper from www.ananova.com
Quote: A poll of 15,000 women found that Germans were the worst in bed because they were considered "too smelly". English lovers came second because they were too lazy, while men from Sweden were branded "too quick" and came third. Spanish men topped the table as the best lovers, followed by Brazilians and Italians. The poll, carried out by www.OnePoll.com, asked women from 20 countries to rate nations on their ability in bed and give reasons for their answers. Other findings included that Dutch men were "too rough", Americans were "too dominating" while Greek men were said to be a bit too soppy. Other countries who didn't fare well in the poll were Scotland (too loud), Turkey (too sweaty) and Wales (too selfish). Russian men crept in at tenth place amid accusations they were too hairy for the average woman. A spokesperson for www.OnePoll.com added: "These results are an eye-opener for thousands of men around the world and female travellers might judge potential new lovers by looking at these results." (Unquote). - Except it's all a bit tongue in cheek, isn't it? I mean to make these comparisons, each woman interviewed would have had to have slept with at least one of all of the above, wouldn’t she? That would take some determined doing. By the way, I could have added one of my own: Swiss (too neutral!)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Do-It-Himself




No more quotes for the electric gate because my husband turned a whiter shade of pale at the generally similar huge figures for the fence and the roof repairs, each of which seemed to cost more that our overseas trip planned to celebrate our 30th anniversary next year and suddenly remembered that that he can make the fence himself. He did a few swimming pool fences in another life and he still has all the tools - welding being another of his hobbies - he made all the metre-high cast iron candlesticks/flower holders for my daughter’s wedding last year. He is now fired with enthusiasm to ‘do his research’ and even sees the automatic gate installation as no problem. So hopefully we can have at least the roof repairs done - he didn’t tell me up front that he is not interested in the repair holes/acrylic paint idea so I have to cancel a couple of appointments, but he is interested in the melted tar with reflective aluminium finish technique. We have actually got to postpone our holiday plan anyway as it conflicts with the birth of our first grandchild so maybe we can save up for the roof repairs during the dry season. Meanwhile, I much doubt whether husband’s grand plans will come to fruition as he has forgotten that he has absolutely no time - which is why all the repairs have mounted up in the first place.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cholesterol Challenge




Sorry for the gap in posts - we had an enormous family gathering over the last four days (about 56 of us) to celebrate my sister-in-law's 70th and my husband's 60th birthdays. Thank goodness for the facilities on one of the farms or we could not have gathered. We had a great time!


The above-mentioned challenge is to get my habitual 7.9 number down to 5 - without pills. The fit young chap at the gym refused to accept my pleadings about allowance for age and the fact that all the women in both my parents' families have lived until their nineties - a great deal more relaxed than the rest of us, in an age that had never heard of cholesterol! He promised that if I do 10 minutes treadmill, 10 minutes on the rowing machine and 10 minutes on the cross-trainer I shall achieve my goal and not ever need pills. I feel encouraged because unlike the lengthy programme on all the different machines on the ‘circuit’ (yawn) I think I might be able to manage this, especially as I now have hours of vintage British comedy shows on my MP3, thoughtfully organised by my brother. Also I feel that as I have the time I should set an example for my husband and see if this works. Plus, having declared my intention on my blog - I feel additionally bound to carry it out. I wasn’t told how many times a week though, I’ll try 1 for starters. No, really - that was a joke. I’ll go for 3.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Young Love



I can’t believe it - just when I think my son has finally woken up about his looming Matric exams, he meets a new girl! He has sensibly stayed away from any serious relationships this year and has a large group of mixed friends - and now this! I can spot the vacant “I am in love” look in his eye. What crappy timing. Now I must deliver the long-delayed repeat of my Grade 11 speech (which I fear went in one ear and out the other). You know the one: the dangers of pregnancy, the absolute need for contraception awareness, the fact that there is nothing more fertile than a 17-year old body with hormones that rage at ovulation, the fact that these days girls are only too happy to take pregnancies to term when they are still children themselves and wily enough to know they can sue the hapless young father (or grandparents!) for maintenance for the next twenty years, the fashionable society that no longer shames unmarried mothers, the bad examples of film stars, the myths about not getting pregnant the first time/if the girl is on top etc., the lack of romance involved in bringing up a baby, the need to be careful of girls from divorced homes - they are often clingy and insecure, the need to beware of girls with no ambition…… but I get ahead of myself. They only met last week and are certainly not home alone in my house. (He hasn’t been to hers yet.) Perhaps I can wait until next week - and water down my speech a bit. I am inclined to the policy of good friends of ours whose children are all grown up now. M remembers that he promised to thrash his son within an inch of his life and throw him out of the house if he ever got a girl pregnant. That certainly worked. Pity it’s not politically correct to even think of doing that any more.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Procrastination



It’s holiday time again and I am struggling to get my son to stick to his Matric revision timetable. But this is the pot calling the kettle black. I do so understand. There are two types of people in the world - the procrastinators and those that always ‘get stuck in’ and do not comprehend at all the problems of the time-wasters. Luckily for me, I have married one who ‘gets stuck in’ and he provides the impetus for me as well. My husband believes in facing problems head on and is unafraid of any type of confrontation whereas I need to have my back to the wall with a metaphorical gun to my head before I will face any difficult task or much worse, any human relationship problem. When I was young, for some inexplicable reason, I usually went out with guys I felt sorry for and would only break up the relationship when it had become really serious and I absolutely despised them - very damaging all round, not to mention making me sick to my stomach. But when I had screwed up my courage and practised my speech, said boyfriend would arrive with plans for the following week, cinema tickets (those were the days!) etc. and I would shamefully hear myself accepting the invitation. As a student, I would spend three hours preparing to study, setting out my books, arranging my desk and so on; then some-one would arrive and suggest going to the pub and off I went. I have faced many an exam having studied through the night, matchsticks holding up my eyelids. As a housewife, I now find I put off jobs like cleaning the windows until I absolutely can’t see through them and even then, I get out the materials and leave them around for a few days until someone complains. My biggest problem is I have a partner in crime. My best friend is my worst influence. M can always offer a good reason for the need to ‘relax’ and put off anything until another day. What a blessing she is! - I am off to the gym soon - after I’ve cleaned the windows. The trick is just to get started.

Friday, 18 September 2009

None so Blind as....


My daughter arrived today to remove her wedding dress which has been hanging in my spare room for more than a year. Guess what? It wasn’t there in its accustomed place! Well, I have been away and haven’t even been in that room: my husband did spring-clean the whole house but claims innocence as does my son. Husband says that my daughter removed it along with all her other stuff the day after our burglary. She categorically claims she did not. Stalemate. Tears threatening as well as accusations. She says she has searched that room thoroughly and it is not there. So we look everywhere else and draw a blank. Who can have stolen it? The guys who installed the burglar alarm are the only strangers who have been in the house. Unlikely. I suggest that my husband perhaps put it in a suitcase when he was tidying up - strong denial and hurt feelings. Not in any of them. Perhaps I had a menopause moment? If so, we’ve searched everywhere anyway. In the end it was found - on the shelf in the cupboard in the original room my daughter claims to have searched ‘thoroughly’. Well, she retorts defensively, she would never have thought it could have been folded up! I emphatically add that I would never have folded it up either. So we are both convinced it was my husband - perhaps he had his first senior moment. It was probably me though.

A Sucker for Looks



We’ve lived in our present house for 16 years now and have finally got to admit we need to do some maintenance. My husband being a practical man does not mean that he likes maintaining things - those jobs are just a bore like washing the dishes or cleaning house. He loves to build or make things from scratch, like furniture. I must say I feel the same - there is nothing like a virgin piece of material or wool - whereas to have to sew on a button or mend a tear.. (yawn). So now our roof leaks and we really need a fence across the front of the house to finally deter the unwelcome guests who want to size up the property for nefarious reasons or convert us to their religion. So I’ve phoned a number of places for quotes. So far only 3 have even phoned to make appointments but on reflection I hope this is a good sign - that they are all busy and good at what they do. As for me, I am a sucker for a nice, personable young man and the three who have already been here have been just that - equally charming and informative and keen. Salesmen. It’s just as well that my husband scrutinises the written quotes and has the last word - otherwise I would probably have given the job to the one with the baby blue eyes and the nicest car.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

More Pregnancy Worries




My daughter has again been in a state this week, as new scans of the 13-week foetus (which I now get to see in moving pictures on CD), reveal that the blood vessel at the back of his minute neck, is too big by about 0.02mm, which means he could have a 1 - 2 % chance of a heart problem. ???? After a nail-biting two days, more tests reveal that he is absolutely normal. Why am I not surprised. I am beginning to wish that my daughter and her husband were a little poorer and could not afford all these tests. Do youth and family history count for nothing? She is only 25. This is private health care in South Africa - money-making!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Married Young?


I am fascinated by the number of couples I have come across lately in the media who have married young and lasted the course - I’m talking 20 plus years married at least, and have dated each other from around the age of 16. Happily married. Never been attracted to anyone else. Found their soulmates. Is this really possible? I do personally know one such couple, but that’s all - they met when they were 13 and are still starry-eyed with each other 33 years later. Perhaps ignorance is bliss? After all, if you have nothing to compare with… Are any of you able to corroborate this blissful state of affairs? And how many of you who married young can really say you have never been tempted, even briefly, to have an affair? Not something I could have done myself (i.e. married young), I needed an awful lot of comparisons before I could finally identify the kind of man to suit me.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Yes/No?




It is one thing having a swanky new burglar alarm system, proclaiming its advent with huge notices posted outside the house but coming to terms with the complicated instructions for the various settings and zones is another thing entirely. Perhaps it is because of my background as an English language teacher that I struggle so. I have come kicking and screaming to accept that the majority of the population under 40 can no longer correctly position an apostrophe but I really need to come to terms with my burglar alarm’s use of English. When alarming the system before leaving the house I just press “Yes” on the digital screen with no preamble. When disarming the system in the mornings I enter my code and am then asked “No to disarm?” - which makes me want to answer the question “Yes, - I would like the “No” option” or alternatively I feel like pressing “Yes/No” - a tried and tested South African answer in any ambiguous situation. Actually, I am required to press ‘No’. I just can’t see the grammatical point of the question mark or any sense in the 'No' word.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Worst thing about Menopause



"Abandon hope all ye who enter here!" This well-known warning apparently stems from Dante's Divina Commedia - but maybe it is apt here, although there is not much that is funny about menopause except that one does have to laugh about it amongst friends - otherwise it would just be tragic. So don't read on unless you brace yourself. What is the worst part about the change of life? - there are surely several things which spring to mind - mercifully, most can be controlled by pills of one sort or another. One thing which defies pills (and yes, I've tried testosterone - no effect in this area) is the insidious thinning and gradual disappearance of ....pubic hair! (SShhh!) It's no good - I want to find fellow sufferers. Worse - the remaining few go grey! In an embarrassed kind of way, I have permitted myself to think of dying them, emboldened even to think about this since the topic was aired on Oprah, when someone bravely asked why it should happen and the expert kindly informed the closely-listening audience that it was nature's way of deciding that since we can no longer reproduce, we no longer need one of the 'man magnets' - i.e. a nice big bush. Mind you, in these days of the Brazilian wax, I wonder if that is so true any more, except that of course, there are more sinister connotations of under-age sex associated with this procedure. I had just screwed my courage to the sticking point, so downcast was I at this latest downturn in my sex appeal, that I actually went out and bought the dye. It sat in my cupboard until a week later when I happened to try a new author at the library - and voila! In chapter three, the heroine went to visit her mother who was located, spreadeagled in her bedroom, having just dyed her pubes! Well, if that wasn't a sign, then my name isn't Fiftyodd at Fiftypushing! I did it. With pleasing results. Of course, my husband hasn't noticed a thing, but that's fine. I didn't do it for him. But I'm no different from anyone else. I watch Dr 90210 and Skindeep. In most cases, the husbands and boyfriends are quite happy with their partners just as they are and don't know what the fuss is about.

Shopping for Big Waist Clothes




I hate shopping for clothes these days for obvious reasons. Also, one has to be in the mood and put on clothes beforehand which are not a pain to take on and off. Luckily, I can go to the shops early on a week-day morning when they are mostly empty. Still, the only thing that really gets me there is when I survey my clothes and can find nothing that hasn’t mysteriously gathered bleach marks which can no longer be concealed. So off I go and grab about 8 garments in each of three shops (my maximum tolerance) to make the fitting on a 1:8 chance of getting something in one go. I add that I set off wearing my favourite summer suit (bought at least 15 years ago!) which I absolutely love as it always seems to fit my narrow shoulders, cover my flat bottom and big waist by being flatteringly tapered and the jacket is long enough! Not so the suits around this year - all are really tiny - but I did read somewhere that it was the season to buy jackets one size too small! Huh, I can’t see any sense in that! That’s exactly how they look - too small. And of course, you can’t find any pants which go up to the waist! Fortunately, this year all the fashion tops drop from under the bust, ideal for the ‘big waist’. I did score one expensive smart shirt (with no lycra) and four other casual garments which only came to R320 altogether. Top tip remains - find a nice, full skirt - one size smaller because they are all still hipster-style - and wear it around your waist with a longer top. Crafty but it works.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Courage of my Convictions



Yesterday I got around to inserting the DVD my son sent me of his wedding photos in order to choose the best photos to put on my wall. This task has acquired priority since my son’s hasty and unexpected visit from the UK last month to sort out licensing his heirloom rifle before the cut-off date, during which time he noticed in a hurt sort of way that we don’t yet have any photos of his Jan. 2008 wedding up on our walls. I did point out that it also took me two years to get around to doing his sister’s ones, but that didn’t cut much ice. The DVD didn’t load however and when I looked, the drive was empty but the disc was nowhere! Having got small son to check it out, he declared that I couldn’t have put it in and later, husband, who said he would bet me R100 000 that there was no disc inside the laptop - it was impossible - I started to lose faith in myself. But if I hadn’t inserted it, where had it gone? I was sitting with the empty box. Searched around under the couch. Nothing. Got a torch. There it was - a shining gold crescent just visible ABOVE the DVD slot, squeezed into the space between that and the upper casing of the laptop! My husband couldn’t believe that I hadn’t exerted incredible unnecessary force to achieve this. Be that as it may, he undertook to take the laptop apart - and an hour and 38 tiny screws later, my disc was returned to me, apparently unharmed. Another hour and 35 screws later, the laptop was back together and in working order. I’m really sorry I didn’t take that bet. That’ll teach me!