Friday, 28 January 2011

Acupuncture - effective?



I’ve had a nagging pain in my left knee and hip for some time now – about 12 months actually.  Sometimes it’s better, sometimes worse, but last week-end, I felt I would need a crutch after a 10-minute slow circuit of our local shopping centre.  Enough is enough.  I now keep finding excuses not to look after my grandchildren as I can’t run after them and I suspect my family are beginning to think I am just lazy! So I tackled the problem on several fronts. Having tried anti-inflammatories several times, which help briefly, I decided to try my luck with acupuncture.  I found one ‘on the street where I live’ and went in.  A delightful and immaculately dressed old Chinese gentleman greeted me, and I noticed immediately that he had the requisite certificates on his wall which would mean I could claim from my Medical Aid.  He seemed to have no secretary and no phone; in fact he is semi-retired, only works three days a week and does his own Admin, bi-lingually in beautiful Chinese script with the English translation underneath.  I immediately like him and was impressed when he took my pulse on both arms and told me I also had a ‘stomach disturbance’ of some kind.  He was spot on – my digestive system had been reacting over-enthusiastically of late to large handfuls of home-grown cherry tomatoes. But I digress. The treatment for my original complaint consisted of some chiropractic manipulation of my hip and pressure onto certain nerves (which was painful but better afterwards) and then a marvellous half an hour of lying still with aromatic herbs massaged into my lower back and an assortment of needles inserted at strategic points. 
I did feel much better for about three days. Then the pain was back. I think the needles have a temporary analgesic affect, but my lower back was very tender for a week.  Eventually, I noticed a yellow bruise on one side where the needles had been.  On my second visit, more manipulation but no needles. Dr was very apologetic about my bruising. To hedge my bets – I went in that week to my GP and had X-rays. He sent me to a sports science speciailst as the X-rays revealed nothing wrong.  This young man diagnosed bursitis in my knee and hip and recommended lots of physiotherapy.  He told me that if he could have such perfect bones at age 60, he would be absolutely delighted. Relief. What to do about my next acupuncture appointment? I really do like the old man.  The young doc said it would do no harm.  So I am going to my third appointment.  And I’ve booked sessions with the physio. I should say that at my second acupuncture appointment I was going to cancel any further ones but I chickened out – because there was a man in the ‘waiting room’  (actually, adjacent to the desk where doctor talks to his patients)  - who was crippled with arthritis. Acupuncture might be his only chance of relief.  ‘Yes,’ I lied, ‘the treatment is really helping a lot’.  I just hope that I get a chance to talk to the nice Chinese doctor in private at my third appointment. I should have that the story of my life is that I am always trying to please people.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Extraordinary Wedding


We went to a wedding recently. The modern church was enormous and full as the whole congregation had been invited for the service.  The bride looked breath-takingly lovely and very elegant as she stood next to her tall young man (6’ she and 6’4” - he !) In fact, we couldn’t see the tiny minister at all as he stood in front of them. Fortunately, the microphones were very efficient.  Imagine our surprise when at the beginning of his address he told us that this would be the first time that the bride and groom had ever kissed!  Both very religious and high-principled and both in their late twenties, it was almost a miracle that in this day and age they had managed to find each. Perhaps it was in their stars. Still, most of us wondered what if she didn’t like the way he kissed? Actually, most of their courtship proved to be on the Internet, although they had already met in real life in church  and so knew there were minimal risks involved in getting to know each other that way.  One retrospectively funny moment was at the beginning of the groom’s speech: my husband’s one hearing aid battery had just run out and the groom began:
         “I’d just like to ask which of you is “On Face Book”?  My husband heard, “Which of you is UnFaithFul?”  and was thus extremely surprised when most of the youngsters in the room raised their hands. In the light of what we now knew about the couple, my husband thought we were being quizzed about whether we, the guests, had been unfaithful to the church?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Teenage Tastes



I am trying to stop worrying about my teenage son’s addiction to junk food. No matter how easy I make it for him to warm up stuff like spaghetti bolognaise or plates of dinner when we go away, he sticks to cheese and ham, pizzas or toasted sandwiches or pancakes if he is forced to eat at home.  If he has money, then it is always a large McDonald’s no. 1 or more pizzas which he gets half-price where he works. What about cholesterol, I whine? Oh, he can take it because he is young and active, scoffs he. He doesn’t eat breakfast. My elder son however, reminded me that he was exactly the same at 18, even to the extent of doing pizza deliveries to earn just enough money to get himself to night clubs and pay his petrol. That was until he took a cholesterol test, aged 20, and got a shock. He changed overnight and today (ten years on) is not only an accomplished cook, but is almost painfully health conscious, to the point where he only buys ‘organic’ foods where possible. I suppose he can afford to. Meanwhile, I worry about No.2 son, who complains that healthy food is so expensive and a schlep to prepare.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My Brother's Study - "Logmein"

My brother's shoulder to the right.

Keyboard indicates position of computer
Thanks to 'Retired Teacher'  I have discovered that I can change my Blog settings to allow several photos to be uploaded into the same blog at different cursor positions.  Trying it.  So far - I've lost the second amazing view of my brother's study.  Perhaps I had to upload both together and then move them around. Must check.  Anyway,  The point is that while my son is in London, who is to help me fix my computer?  My brother, although a PC genius (see pic),  has a hectic life and I don't like to bother him.  His study is the smallest room in the house. After 12 years of accumulating 'stuff', one can just pick one's way through the debris to perch in front of his (large) screen.  There is no longer any room at all on which to place a cup of coffee!  He NEVER throws anything away.  My son, however, has resolved the dilemma by installing the programme "Logmein"  (Log-me-in) onto both out computers so that he can solve my problems remotely at the swish of a mouse.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to see the cursor travelling all over the screen, opening and shutting things and doing it all by itself! I just sit back and wait to be told to take back the reins.  Oh, that's my brother's shoulder to the right of the first pic. He is sitting at his machine. I think are another three computers under his desk.

Don't Talk to Strangers



I always enjoy talking to strangers because you can love ‘em and leave ‘em, so to speak and they are often a mine of interesting information. Thus it was that I struck up a conversation with a darkish-hued gentleman while waiting for my car to have new tyres fitted. I commented that he looked very relaxed, stretched out in the comfy old leather armchair, thoughtfully provided by our friendly neighbourhood car tyre place. He was half asleep, he admitted, having been out partying until 4.00 a.m., entertaining customers from Jo-burg. Without further prompting, he proceeded to tell me with some relish about their evening at the House of Rasputin, (?), apparently a well-known spot on the outskirts of Cape Town. He must have enjoyed the look on my face (images of various nasty forms of sado-masochism sprang to my mind for some reason) as he went on to declare that there had been a number of Bulgarian and other Eastern European ladies provided for their table and lap-dances and pole dancing had been on the menu. He probably thought I was shocked and disapproving (I certainly was!) and it was all I could do to refrain from asking whether he and his companions were married and if anyone had their wives with them. Probably would have been a silly question and anyway, not my business to judge what may have been just a bit of fun. Thank goodness my car was declared ready at that point and I was able to make my exit: astonishingly, he asked me what I was doing for the rest of the day (surely, just another bit of fun!). I was very very busy, I assured him! Had I had more presence of mind, I should have said that I was off to visit my grandson!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Book By the Bed



A bit of a blockage (mental) today, so I thought I would just list the books I am reading at the moment, wondering if you can tell anything about a person from their choice of reads? I like to have a pile of books by my bed, as I read according to how I feel at the time. At the moment there are six: A Wedding in December (Anita Shreve), A Cold Heart (Jonathan Kellerman), The Syringa Tree (Pamela Gien), The Good Doctor (Damon Galgut), Birds Without Wings (Louis de Bernieres) and Midlands (Johnny Steinberg) - this last has been by my bed at the bottom of the heap for about two years. It is too depressing –farm murders in South Africa of the 80/90s. I enjoy Damon Galgut a lot and this is good so far, the first two I have just finished - both good. The Syringa Tree was lent to me by a niece, but I don’t know if I’ll like it - I am tired of apartheid angst literature written by white females years after it is no longer relevant. But I am being unfair -only read 3 chapters. I’ll persevere. Anyone out there who is my literary soulmate who could see themselves giving all of these a go? I am sure there are no men who would try the first one - the painful examining of relationships is just not their thing. …. Actually, I was given a Kindle this Christmas and I am so enthralled with it – bought “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” for starters, that the pile next to my bed will have to wait a bit. It’s a brilliant book

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Language of Precision



My brother popped in for a Skype chat last night during which conversation his 11-year old son popped in a few times to ask questions about his homework. I asked my brother how this child is now getting on at school. It depends what you mean, mused my brother, explaining that M doesn’t see the world in the same way as everyone else. This is not to say that he has ADT or any other of the fashion complaints, he just genuinely has his own way of looking at things and if others (teachers) don’t see things his way that is just too bad. M also can’t bear imprecision in the use of language - I blame his parents for having drummed this into both their boys -. Take his latest geography test for example: a map was presented along with six questions phrased along the lines of “Consider the following points of reference on this map and identify what they represent.” M duly wrote six times: ‘I have considered… I have considered etc..’ End of story. Now one could perhaps fault the teacher’s question in this instance – if any of other pupils had written similar answers – but no, everyone else duly wrote ‘church’ or ‘school’ or ‘cutting’. I feel sorry for my brother. All I could think of saying was that Einstein and Winston Churchill didn’t get on well at school either.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The New helps The Old




It’s nice to surf the news channels on the TV early on a Saturday morning – you can sometimes find uplifting stuff. I have just found out that pygmies still live in Central and Eastern Africa, living in time-honoured fashion off the land. In some areas, the logging companies have come to a mutually agreeable arrangement to avoid cutting down certain fruit and berry-rich trees upon which the pygmies depend. To indicate which they are, the pygmies carry around a GPS which they click whenever they find a valuable tree. The co-ordinates thus provided to the logging company help to sustain the people’s way of life for a while longer. Nice.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Weird Brother




Whenever my brother calls from the UK, I settle down for a long session as he takes a long time for him to get into his stride and get to what he actually phoned for. Because men, unlike girls, don’t just phone to chat. After about forty minutes of small talk, family news is exhausted and I can’t think of any more questions to ask – I need to do this or else there will be a period of long silence, by which my brother seems unperturbed but which fidgets me a lot and makes me (guiltily) want to say my goodbyes and get on with something else. When I finally ask if he should not be doing the same, he confesses that he has got to submit his tax return, but hasn’t done any admin for the last six months and so has a mountain of work to get through before pressing the ‘Submit’ key on his computer – which he calculates he can just manage to do one minute before the final deadline. This will prove a moment of supreme satisfaction for him but in order to execute it, he must first push himself to the edge of the remaining time factor. Hence the phone call.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How to Hire a Diesel Mechanic



If you don’t have good interview skills, such as being able to sort through the minefield of a faked CV etc. There is one sure way to know if you have someone in front of you who is a genuine diesel mechanic with a love for the job. Just shake his hand. You are looking for the feel of an elephant hide. If you get the soft skin of a baby’s bottom, you can bet your bottom dollar the applicant’s last place of employment was behind a desk. Don’t employ him. This piece of wisdom stood my husand in good stead when one of their applicants was discovered to have stolen his dead brother’s CV. The guys got suspicious when this person proved to have no idea how to connect the positive and negative leads on a battery.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Mothers and Daughters

..... April, 2008


Now that there is a first grandchild, and we have all moved on a step, adjusting to our new roles, I see that there are lines over which I may not step. It appears that no matter how pertinent and useful my well-intended, if for the most part strenuously suppressed advice is, it is not as welcome as the SAME tips from almost any other source. I find I have to tread extremely warily with my daughter, partly because she has always been a very independent and wilful person (although compassionate and sweet as well) but I sense that she has perhaps never forgiven me for the time when I was 5 minutes late to fetch her the day she started Big School. That day I finally managed to find her about three blocks away, determined to find her way home by herself. Then to further illustrate her character, there was the time when she, newly arrived in London, aged 18 (against parental advice, I might add, we said she should study first,) she was marooned at a deserted tube station after midnight when the tubes had shut down, half way home, no idea where she was and no cell phone or money (spent it at the pub with her SA friends). There she was wandering the streets, crying, until a kindly motorist gave her £10 for a taxi. How lucky was she !! She told us about this in an e-mail later which began: “You will laugh when you hear this story...”. On second thoughts, I shall resist any further attempts to ‘interfere’ with her and her baby. I shall just stand on the sidelines and be around if needed. She has none of the insecurities I had at her age: she is her father’s child.

Friday, 14 January 2011

To Circumcise or Not?



It’s an old debate and a matter of personal choice. The theory generally is that apart from health or religious considerations, a boy should look like his father. I am all in favour of this but one needs to be consistent. In chatting to my sister-in-law, she confided that one of her daughters-in-law had organised to have her first son done, but had somehow slipped up with the other two. Hmm...wonder how that will pan out? Probably everyone will be cool about it, as they are about everything else in this topsy-turvy world of ours. Anything goes. The main thing is that every person has a sense of self-worth. As these three boys are much loved, I don’t think there will be much of a problem, as long as their dad teaches them about careful daily hygiene.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Working Mom



Still catching up..... April, 2008


At five days old, mom and baby arrived at my house with a girlfriend in tow, to take advantage of the aircon and also my fax machine, again in a day of sweltering heat. This was the day that baby decided he needed to feed every two hours, not caring at all that his mother had to get her end of the month invoices out. I wonder how long his mom will last? Although she has three months’ maternity leave from her actual job, she is still doing the daily admin for the small business that she and her husband are building up.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

All Hands on Deck



Catch up.... March 31st, 2009


Have you ever seen more people trying to bath a 3-day old? This is the one thing my daughter has allowed me to help with as she didn’t get a demonstration in the lamentable 1.1/2 days that she got to spend in the maternity ward. I do think we were lucky years ago when ‘de rigeur’ we spent 7 days in hospital with the first baby and 5 for the second. The nurses taught us everything. My mother-in-law told me they used to spend 14 days in bed (albeit at home) being waited on. I think the girls have it very hard today. Still, baby was very patient with us. Those are his gran’s hands, his mother’s and one of his granddad’s! Hey, I am really a white person - it’s just that I get so hot (blame menopause), I can’t bear to have my arms covered in summer and get a tan very easily. Oh, the hole in the vanity slab is where they haven’t fitted the re-cast basins yet.