Friday, 20 May 2011

The Power of Powder Blue

My husband came home last week, bearing new long-sleeved work shirts of a pale blue colour.  Considering that he works in the environment of an oily truck workshop – admittedly in the Admin offices, I find it a strange choice of colour. The last ones they were given (it’s nice at least that they are provided free of charge), were a practical navy blue check, a nice ‘power’ colour to boot. What has occasioned this new change to a namby pamby, wishy-washy appearance? Surely just the need to keep someone employed, whose function is ‘change for the sake of change’.  I can see this all-male environment having sheepish expressions on their faces, as they desperately try not to spill their lunch down their shirts or get pen marks on them before the day is half through. They are also quite thick (nice for Joburg but too much for Cape Town’s mild winter) and take longer to iron. And as for that annoying pleat down the back....!   Probably someone has imparted some psychological claptrap about the need to have a ‘calming’ effect in the workplace – whether this is aimed at the customers or the staff is point to ponder.
The effect of colour generally though is well known.  What impresses me the most is that fast food outlets have deliberately loud, clashing colours, which are designed initially to attract you in, and then to make you so uncomfortable that you leave in a hurry.  That’s clever.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Quirky Preparation for Trip

I knew there had to be a good reason for hubby to be buying  "Handyman" magazine every month.  Sure enough, when we bought two expensive pairs of trainers for me to walk miles on our holiday, up the mountains in Greece to the Acropolis  -  "fairly strenuous" says the guidebook -  it "Handyman" came in useful . After one hour of walking around the house, I found both pairs hurt my right foot, where it seems I have of late developed a bunion.   According to the magazine, the answer is to fill a small bag with water, insert it into the tight part of the shoe and place in the deep freeze.  As the water freezes, it will expand, thus stretching the shoe in the strategic place.  So tonight,  as I am putting out my clothes to start packing,  I am looking at two forlorn-looking left trainers, their partners residing in between joints of venison in my deep freeze.  Hope it works - otherwise I'll just have to take my old, falling-to-pieces-but-very-comfortable Nikes.  At least I won't look like a rookie traveller!  NB  Book Nut - images won't insert at Cursor.

Teenage Boy's Bedroom

Thinking small son might be lonely during his ‘gap few months’ in London,  we phoned to find him in a bit of a hurry – off to show Oxford Circus to his friend from Switzerland, who has popped over to keep him company this week.  Most of small sons’ friends are also having a ‘gap’ year while they ‘find themselves’.  Worried that he might not be eating, we find that actually he has just cooked a nice roast  - big son having delivered a severe lecture on the dangers of a junk food diet and obligingly leaving his brother a fully stocked fridge after a few cooking lessons. I feel I must add that I have made similar efforts in the past when we were away from home – but have returned to find the fridge still full and the house scattered with junk food wrappers.  Clearly, small son is somewhat in awe of his big brother. Meanwhile, I must tackle his bedroom at home, spurred on by having just watched an old episode of ‘My Family’ on BBC Prime, in which Nic, the eldest son, has left home for the first time and installed himself into a flat.  In one scene, his dejected mother enters his still cluttered bedroom and sits sadly on the bed.  After a few moments, she rises, leaves the room and returns with an air freshener which she liberally sprays about, then hastily leaving and firmly closing the door.  LOL  NB  Google pic does not show the empty wardrobe and dirty/clean clothes strewn over every available square inch of floor.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Away for a Bit

Splendour of the Seas - our boat!

Voyager of the Seas - first trip
I have hesitated to mention that we shall be away for the next two weeks – no blogging from me as we do not go on holiday with our computers, although I am considering taking my Kindle.  I haven’t wanted to make anyone jealous, but have decided that all my blog friends will wish us well on only the second ‘real’ holiday of our 34 years of married life,  nearly all the others having been spent visiting family.  Yes, we are going on a Mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean!  I confess we have been once before to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and we were so impressed we decided to go once more before we retire. So this is it! This time we are ‘doing’ the Eastern side of the Med, starting and finishing in Venice, and calling at Serbia, Croatis, Greece, Turkey, Mykonos and Santorini islands before returning to Venice.  We leave on Saturday with Emirates airline (presumably no terrorists onboard) up to Dubai and then direct to Venice with them.  There have been months of enjoyable preparation and fun on the Internet (e.g. hubbie has downloaded six pages no less of directions and photos how to get from the luggage carousel at Venice airport down to the water-stop for the vaporetto which will take us across the sea to the island!)  I find irony in the fact that as a student I used to fly quite often to work in various parts of the world and never gave a thought to any kind of Travel Insurance! Now, at 60, our hand luggage seems to consists mostly of all our chronic medicines, plasters, ointments and broad-spectrum anti-biotic and I am quite paranoid about the idea of perhaps getting sick or having an accident.  My husband is excited about the idea of hiring a scooter for a few hours in one or two of the resorts.  As one-time bikers in our youth, we also cherish a dream of visiting the US one day and doing Route 66.  Is it still good?  I’ll let you know how it goes.  These pics are of our last experience.  NB. Book Nut - I've tried to insert at the cursor point - but all pics inserted at the top together. I've had a bit more success dragging them about the text. But not much. Maybe because I type my post first in Word, then copy and paste, then try to put the pics in ?  When I pressed "Publish" - all the pics have put themselves at the top of the post again ??????

Monday, 16 May 2011

Planning a Family Reunion

It has been decided that it would be a great idea to have a reunion of all of my husband’s siblings (and spouses) before one of us ‘dops om’ (dies). This plan has come to the fore since one of my sisters-in-law hosted a grand gathering of her husband’s clan – some 250 people – on their farm. The logistics of that week-end were complex to say the least and it could not have taken place without the help of several neighbours offering accommodation. Happily, this group will only number 14 but I am beginning to wonder if it would not be better to limit the number to the 7 actual siblings as the debate re venue rages on. Geographically, we are spread all around the country. Everyone has their own individual preference as to venue and no two are the same. Some people are retired and their time is their own, others work full-time and have limited leave opportunities; some people are pretty wealthy, others just make ends meet. Suggestions range from a week in Zanzibar to a week-end at a campsite to a few days on a nephew’s game farm up near Zimbabwe where at least there would be free accommodation and enough room for all. This last met with general approval – we would be the furthest but are quite happy to fly up and hire a car from Joburg, picking up the Joburg people on the way. By the end of the evening this idea had found general consensus.
On the drive home however, my husband’s phone rang – objections to the last plan had surfaced from those who would have to host the event – on the grounds of too much work for too few.  Well, I can’t say I blame them – we did have quite a big meet there last year – 30 odd people, including quite a lot of children.  They say how about hiring chalets at a venue half-way for everyone?
So it’s back to square one. I am now no longer very keen on the whole idea.  After all, we are a pretty close family and see quite a lot of each other anyway during the course of a year.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Retirement House - update

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Hi everyone!  Just trying to upload more than one photo - as so many of you manage to do in your posts without apparently any bother.  Rosaria asks how our 'holiday' house is progressing, so I am going to try to post some of our own photos.  We still have far to go:  we now feel we need to invest in big, motorised gates across the front of the property so that our small grandchildren can safely ride their bikes in the yard. We've just finished adding on an extension above the garage - for our 'indoor hobbies', sewing, computering and model-boat building when we retire there in three years time and there is now an additional work room for my husband's power tools downstairs behind the garages.  I also have a laundry there.  The garden remains a non-starter for the moment, although we have managed to get lawn to grow in the front - taking shoots every week-end from our own garden at home, but generally the snails have a field day and devour everything else that we put in - especially my husband's efforts at a grenadilla vine, lemon and persimmon trees in the back yard.  Even building a wall around the lot has not kept out the small antelope (duikers) that stroll around our paving and eat the choicest of the new leaves. Ah well....  How do you put the photos in between the text?

Bank Joke

 ........rewind to 10th June, 2008
Well, today, my small son gets on the plane to London to stay with his brother and sister-in-law for nearly five months. To this end, I had warned him to deliver lots of pizzas in this last month and save as much as he could because of the horrendous exchange rate and because his dad and I had agreed to treble whatever he gathered. None of this sank in too well considering the amount of
partying he has done in the last few weeks since finishing his re-sits and when we went to the bank yesterday he had exactly R550 in his account.  He’s jolly lucky he has a British passport. When challenged, he said he could have saved R900 but felt sorry for his dad and me as he knows we are also saving for our own holiday. I was somewhat sceptical of this spurious logic, knowing full well that he simply plans to borrow from his brother, again ignoring all parental advice over the years re “neither a borrower nor a lender be”. He’ll just have to learn the hard way.  In the end, I had privately decided we could stretch to R2,500 whatever as we can hardly let him go with nothing. I also remembered that he has a speeding fine of R800 pending.  Leave that money in your account, I said, towards the fine. So we gave him R2000. It’s also for his birthday.
When we told the nice young man at the bank that we had come in for pounds sterling, he got a worried look and said they didn’t have a large amount in stock.  Not to worry, said I, I think you’ll have this much.
After the form-filling, when he handed over the princely sum of £125, he dutifully delivered his normal speech,  “......and if you have any pounds left over when you come back, you must cash them in within two weeks of your return.”
Very funny.  NB.  About R10 to the dollar at that time and R12 to the pound.

Local Ballet Schools' Coppelia

I went to see the first matinee performance of this production of the famous ballet on Friday because our neighbour’s 16-year-old daughter was dancing in it. I always enjoy such shows because in an effort is made to get all the pupils in the school onstage in one form or another and you get to see all the adorable little ones from 3 years-old and up.  I was not disappointed to see in the programme after the names of the principal dancers, that there would be 12 mice, 15 sheep and 35 vegetables!  What a joy. Congratulations to Elkanah High School, Table View, Cape Town. Thank you for a lovely afternoon - and well done, Vasti! You danced beautifully.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Thoughts on Cut Fingers inter alia

Whenever my husband announces that he is going to do some woodwork in his garage, my alarm bells ring, I go into high alert and assemble the disinfectant and various sizes of plasters.  This time we had to rush to the doctor – after hours, whie she was out jogging, as passing his hand carelessly across his radial arm saw while it was spinning had resulted in a deeper cut than usual.  She rushed back.
Although my husband did cut a large piece of flesh out of one finger (stitched back on nicely), the index finger looks worse because it couldn’t be stitched as the cut was too ragged.  This is his trigger finger. Typically, this accident happened two days before we went on our annual visit to the Karoo, which includes shooting our venison for the next year. So for me, it’s back to helping him shower, washing his hair, spreading his toast, cutting his meat, doing his typing, putting his socks on etc. Etc. I’m not doing his shooting though.  When we came back from a few days rowing on the Orange River once, I suddenly found that I could not use my thumb and index finger of my right hand.  Among the many many things that I couldn’t do for two months, the things I remember most were: I couldn’t – squeeze a peg to hang washing, operate a can opener, spread butter, do up a zip, blow my nose, open a jam jar or turn the ignition key to start my car !!! I defy any female to lean across and manage this. Meanwhile, my husband’s wounds keep leaking through his bandage and giving me lots of washing.  I do admire the way salt takes out blood though. There’s not a residual mark on anything.
So we finally sat down on the day of the accident to watch the rugby and I was asked to cut the biltong (or beef jerky), I thought to myself:  “Mind your fingers!”

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Garden Hippo

I’ve lately fallen in love with a garden hippo (think - erstwhile garden gnome) after seeing one floating around in a lily pond at our local nursery It’s just the fibreglass head, you understand.  It was immediately a must-have for me.  It looked so real and reminded me of that true story about a hippo, named Huberta, who stirred up a lot of interest some decades ago, by strolling by herself, through some of the towns and gardens of the Natal coastline, apparently on some sort of personal mission.  So I got myself one and put it in our swimming pool . Huberta was sometimes found swimming in people’s pools.  Unfortunately, my hippo tends to interfere with the Kreepy-Krauly (Pool cleaner) and in this foreign environment, from the view point of my sitting room window, looks rather like a large elephant turd when it does float into view.   It also gave our neighbour a fright:  he popped in to check on the house one day while we were away and thought it was a dead cat.
I must really build it a lilly pond. Meanwhile, she obliges as a swimming aid for my grandchildren.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ungrateful and Perverse

For some time now – about 10 months – I’ve been unable to lower the roller blind in our kitchen.  The mechanism seems to have lost its ‘oomph’ and the sprockets don’t hold.  I have to ever so gently support the bottom part, then slowly pull it up and, holding my breath, release it and pray that it will stay up. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, in which case I am plunged in darkness or artificial light for most of the day.  I’ve mentioned this to hubby about six times over this time period and have met with disinterestd grunts – until the day came when I was away and he needed some light in the kitchen himself. Hey Presto!  When I came home – it was fixed.  Nothing to it, I was told!   Grrrrr!  The funny thing is that when I now come to pull up the blind every morning, it works perfectly and I am suffused with annoyance at my husband on a daily basis.  I suppose I should be grateful?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Shopping for Hubbie

My husband announced he would like to go to shop for “a couple of chinos”.  My heart sank. Much though I adore the shops if I go by myself, it is awful shopping for clothes for one who is no longer a 38 but won’t admit he’s a 40. Last time we came home with absolutely nothing but a foul mood.  This time he is again fired with enthusiasm because he believes he must have some new clothes for our holiday and besides the last time he went to a business meeting, his casual trousers seemed to sport some oily marks which he notices have come through the washing machine for some months now. I ignore this. He also fancies a light leather jacket of the ilk worn by his younger brother.  My heart sank at this additional plan because my young brother-in-law is in a better financial position than us and I think hubbie would pass out if he knew what that jacket cost! Anyway, you get those days when the sun shines on any shopper and fate is kind. We picked up two pairs of fitting chinos at the ‘end of range’ rail - in size 38! On to the leather jacket. We almost succeeded at one smart store – I would have opened an account for this garment, albeit expensive, for it was as soft as a kitten, light as a feather and turned my husband into a slightly more mature version of Brad Pitt.  Unfortunately, the XL was a tad too small and in spite of an extensive computer search there was no XXL available at any store in Cape Town. Bye bye Brad Pitt!  At another store where we have an account, we found a lovely jacket, well-cut, soft and light in the right size: he liked it, I liked it.  Even better, it was on sale  – R899 reduced from R1100.  At the till, the price came up as reduced even more to R599!!!  Some days, a plan comes together. Brad Pitt is back!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Cell Phone Upgrade?

It is amazing to me that you get a so-called new-and-improved version of something and some of its features prove to be inferior to the old one. Take cars, for instance,  why can’t they put all the best gadgets into the new model? I remember having once a windscreen wiper on my car’s back window – it was great – never managed to get it again.  My old cell phone (a Nokia) had a great Voice Tag feature, very easy to set up, always reliable. I phoned all my close family and friends that way.  Unfortunately, those tags have to be re-done on my new phone (Nokia) – I had to look it up in the book as you now have to first go to ‘Voice Training’ .  This was a somewhat tedious process, as they make you repeat 14 different  names of their devising, e.g. “Chelsea Patterson”,  “Fred Bloggs” etc. But I did it, carefully keeping the same intonations each time, the same that I had used on my old phone.  Finally, I got to make my first call.  “Sally Hardcastle”,  I requested -  “Phoning  Pete!” said a male voice in firm tones.  I hastily pressed stop and tried my husband’s name and surname.  “Phoning Beverley” , said my phone. Neither name in any way resembled what I had asked for.  Now what? It’s almost enough to make me resurrect my old phone except that the camera’s better on this one.