Wednesday, 30 September 2009


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


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


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!

Piano Talk

23rd September, 2007

I have a piano in my house which I have tried twice over the years, half-heartedly, to sell. It is a rather good upright and I can’t bear to give it away and at the back of my mind is the thought that perhaps my grandchildren will one day want to learn. I learnt myself from the age of 5 to 17, doing all the exams and hating them, ditto the relentless competitions that were the norm and which turned me into a dithering wreck every time. I haven’t played much since because to play well requires constant practice and I was only too glad to escape that tyranny when I left home. I did try to teach my own children: my eldest son was doing really well until a boy at school told him that only ‘moffies’ played the piano and later I put my daughter’s name down for lessons at school for three years in a row, only to be told every time that she would not be allowed to take lessons as she couldn’t sing. ?! I found that inexplicable as she had been learning at home with me and always knew the minute she made a mistake. I suppose inevitably, no-one is allowed to play just for pleasure and she would have had to take the aural exams (and failed as she can’t carry a tune.) In those days, we couldn’t afford the private route. Later my eldest showed renewed interest when he was in his guitar stage - but wanted me to teach him to play in two weeks! He wasn’t interested in the long haul. My youngest hasn’t shown any interest at all. So it’s up to my future grandchildren. By then, I think the wheel will have turned: the trend towards instant gratification in all things, including electronic keyboards, I think may have waned somewhat and people will again value the craftsman’s skill. Look at the renewed interest in knitting! I am looking forward to showing my grandchildren how to bake cakes, weighing the flour, sugar, butter etc. and licking the bowl. I hope so anyway. The piano stays!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Anxiety Attack

I wasn’t going to mention this but you always meet someone who talks you scared, so I went for a check-up yesterday. I love flying and have flown at least one long distance flight every year (alone) for the last five but this time, I experienced odd symptoms on both the out-going and the return flights. The first time when I was dozing during the night I suddenly experienced a terrific sweat which caused me to throw off as many blankets and clothes as I reasonably could and it went over in about five minutes and I felt fine, no racing heart or pains anywhere. On the return journey, after my customary gin & tonic and glass of red wine (and unusually, a very delicious dark chocolate dessert), I woke up about an hour into the movie, again terribly hot, but also nauseous, so I grabbed the ‘sick bag’ and headed for the toilet. I must have passed out, because the next thing I knew a concerned hostie was picking me up off the floor. A few minutes later I was again fine, but noticed that I was shivery and very pale. Thus, a sit in the doctor’s waiting room 10 days after my return, didn’t help as friends had kindly suggested that I could have had a slight stroke and I picked up the ‘Heart & Stroke Foundation’ brochure which did a good job of convincing me of same - 4/5 women in SA have a high risk of these post 50 years old! However, after a thorough check-up, ECG & bicycle, I have the all-clear. Doc thinks that I had subconscious anxiety and thence the attack. I was really surprised as I still think that I love flying - however, I had allowed myself 8 hours to get to the airport (about a 1 hour trip), and as you may remember, I had locked my suitcase into my son’s flat. So maybe. I also I suppose I shall have to give in to pressure and take the damned cholesterol pills - mine sticks at 7.9 which seems to upset people.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

You're Toast !

It’s funny how the small things hit you after a bad week at work. It was my job to make the boiled eggs and toast on the week-end and let’s face it - my husband and I are both fussy - bad week or not - neither of us can stand toast cut in triangles in restaurants for example. We also cannot eat a boiled egg that is not perfectly cooked - solid white and soft yellow. He likes his toast nicely brown but cold, I like mine nicely light brown but hot. So when I forgot to put his toast in before the eggs, disaster struck because there is no way to preserve a perfectly cooked boiled egg while you wait for toast to cool down. Thus, I had to witness my husband’s martyred air while he exaggeratedly first waved his toast up and down as if he were guiding a jumbo jet into its parking space and then put the two pieces in the fridge, glaring at me, arms folded watching his egg get cold. While I munched on my perfect toast, having dipped it in my egg, I had to make allowances: he really had survivied a nightmare of a week.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Nudie Neighbours

We really enjoy the wide upstairs balcony of our holiday/retirement house which overlooks a beautiful lagoon (see header) from high up on a hill. In fact, we spend most of our relaxation time out there, including a sundowner or two while we watch the sunset. We also overlook the house across the street whose owners have, for some inexplicable reason placed their bathroom on the front corner of the house, and even more mysteriously, have provided it with an all-encompassing floor-to-ceiling opaque corner window, clearly not realising that this is completely see-through. In front of our eyes (my son and his friends guffawing helplessly), we witness the ritual of cleaning the bath, windows and toilet by the oblivious and portly middle-aged residents, mooning it as they bend over the better to clean with clearly visible dark shadows to distinguish male from female anatomy. How can they not know? As they favourite time for their joint ablutions is about 5.00 p.m., we notice that quite a few of the home-going cars have started to slow down as they approach the this house! What to do? Apart from chasing my son and his friends off the balcony, we have contemplated sneaking across in the cover of darkness and leaving an anonymous but tactful letter in their mailbox. So far, I keep forgetting to do this and so the unfortunate pair have continued with their free show. Well, let me suit the word to the action: we are going tomorrow, so I’ll type it now. (NB. This pic is not her - I wasn't mean enough to take a real picture - opaque glass or not!)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Feisty Foetus

September 11th, 2007

We've all been excited since my daughter announced that she was pregnant: after all, she did everything right - got her degree, found her prince, got married, got a house, found a half-day job and got pregnant - all in the right order, thus guaranteeing our approval. Today she breezed in, full of excitement, waving the latest photos of her scan. At 12 weeks, we are all awed to see the large head, limbs and tiny fingers and also, she points out, the nose bone. This is a new one on me - apparently, with improved technology, once the nose bone can be detected it shows that the foetus is normal - not Downs Syndrome. And my daughter is only 25! I can’t believe they worry about all these extra things so early these days. It must be most worrying to be pregnant with the all information available now. She also shows us an ‘upside-down’ picture. This, she explains, means that ‘he’ is already moving around a lot. In fact, she adds (almost bursting with pride) - the gynae says this is a very advanced 12-week foetus! Or - say I to myself - perhaps just a 13-week one? I don't really like these 3-D images myself: I find them a bit unnerving somehow. (Just showing my age).

Friday, 4 September 2009

House Husband

7th September, 2007

And on a similar theme...

Great to be home again - especially when a house inspection reveals everything, including my pot plants, to be sparkling clean. (Well, last year my favourite plant expired from neglect.) Better than that, my husband got stuck in where angels fear to tread. He has cleaned on top of my kitchen cupboards, extractor and fridge and he has fixed the hinges on the bottom cupboards which have been half-off for years. He comments that he can’t understand how this damage happened - and I am certainly not going to tell him that I have lazily leaned on the open doors to help myself up over the years. Further, he has FINALLY replaced the vrot (rotten) kickboard which runs underneath all the cupboards. I would hazard a guess that every time he diligently cleaned the floors with his new squeezy mop - specially bought for himself in my absence, the broken parts irritated him to the point where he had to do something. Years of strategically-timed nagging have not produced the same effect. Then in the TV room, he also cleaned on top of the cupboards and in our bedroom he tackled my wooden dressing table and re-did the surface, getting rid of rogue coffee cup marks at last! He also cooked every night for himself and small son. Interestingly, I have not been allowed to cook yet - he is doing it automatically still! However, there is a pile of ironing which reaches to just below the ceiling but everyone knows that I like ironing - gives me an excuse to watch TV, so no complaints. Husband gets full marks - house husband as well as full-time bread-winner.