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
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, 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 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!)