Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Some Ups and Downs of Life on a Farm in the Karoo

I don't live on one myself, but all my sisters-in-law are married to Karoo sheep farmers. This area is classified as 'semi-desert' and as in Australia, farms are big - often as far as the eye can see is one farm.  There is a wonderful sense of privilege attached to this. As guests, we can roam for hours over land which is 'ours'. The farms have been in the family for three generations and sons have a house, farm and lifelong career assured. There is a lot of domestic help as the wives of the farm workers need employment and houses are large and often host to many visitors. On the down side, they are very far from shops and doctors. Getting a complicated procedure done involves a lot of advance planning as a journey to Cape Town or Johannesburg  (500 miles either way) has to be organised.  Transport is a problem: the easiest way is to drive as the nearest train is a two-hour drive and timetables are sparse and inconvenient.The nearest airport is a 3-hour drive. I've had one sister-in-law visit me for a week. She'd had an infected molar for two months but just couldn't find an opportunity to get away from the farm.  In the end, she caught an overnight bus - which only departed at midnight and when the dentist extracted the tooth, he found the infection had already destroyed some of the surrounding jawbone, and he had to cut some healthy bone from somewhere else in order to fashion sufficient cement to hold the peg for the implant - for which she must return in three months time.  She still had pain when she left us, but had no choice but to go home. Weighing it up, I'm glad I'm a city girl: don't want to be far from doctors or dentists at my age.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Trying to upload my own Photo of me on Scooter

Am following Sextant's always excellent advice.... just going to see if I can find the pic I took today of me on my bike.....
         THANK YOU, SEXTANT !    Somehow you manage to get to the nitty-gritty and avoid the crap!  You really should have been a teacher !!!!!!   
Oh great - this is really me!

I Have a New Toy

Sorry - badly wanted to post my own pic of me on bike

For various reasons my husband and I decided we have to have a scooter.  Correction - the scooter was supposed to be for me, to stop me wasting (now expensive) petrol (gas) driving around to the library and shops - my automatic choke still on most of the way. For the last two years we have looked around, hubbie turning his nose up at the cheap Chinese versions on the market and raising his eyebrows at the silly price of the Italian Vespa.  Turns out he wants to ride it too. Then fate played a hand. We drove across town to obtain a radiator hose for my son's 1986 trusty old Honda Ballade - only the Honda dealer had one that would fit. And as we walked through the showroom - Voila!  A beautiful new Honda scooter in sparkling, virgin white (well, one can dream), with all the features we had been looking for.  My husband was impressed by the fuel-injection, combination brakes and bigger wheels: I was delighted to find the shopping bag hook at the front and that a helmet or shopping bag would easily fit under the seat.  Also, the bike is pretty! More important: my husband is a Honda fanatic.  He lovingly rebuilds our forty-year old lawnmower from time to time for the sake of its everlasting Honda motor and we were at one time the proud owners of two Honda Ballade cars (the 1985 model went to my daughter). The salesman informed us that this new model scooter (Vision, 110 cc) had been brought in to compete price-wise with the Chinese (which it does), but there was to be a 5% increase on 5th April.  Done deal.  Many people have stopped to admire my machine;  I have demo-ed it for a lady in my gym class.  She is 73 and said her husband who is 83 and in a wheelchair, is driving her nuts and that her psychiatrist had thought her idea of getting herself a scooter to be a good one.  That gave me pause for thought.  Note to self:  be more patient with hubby's deafness; he's only one year older than me and we still have a long way to go. ... I can't believe it - I specially took a pic of me on my bike to show you - but no longer know how to upload it here???  What is this Picasa business?? Help !  My pics are in my I-Photo folder. No good?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Goodbye, Mr Chips

Browsing my Facebook page, I was surprised to pick up a reference to a chap I used to teach with in a Boys' High School 35 odd years ago.  Curious, I had a look at his page and was delighted to see that he had 350 friends on it, most of whom were ex-pupils.  I gathered that he had gone on to be a headmaster in a private school after cutting his teeth at the rough-ish government school where I met him and that vast numbers of his ex-pupils remembered him with both affection and gratitude.  Weird to read about the subsequent careers and marriages of these 'youngsters' and awesome to think that his wonderful teaching had influenced so many so well.   I used to think when I was teaching, that it was sad that one so rarely heard of ex-pupils again and often mused about whether I had wasted my time and energy doing my best to engage their interest.  (The days before Facebook and Internet!) Once I did hear the name of one girl on the radio: she was carving out her dream career as an actress. Luckily, she had been in my House at school and so we had often won the Inter-House play competition. Another time, I heard via a grape vine that a young lad had become an Aircraft Mechanic, so impressed had he been by the big diagram of a jet engine I had once brought to school (courtesy of my aircraft mechanic husband) for a Career Guidance class. That was nice. I contacted my ex-colleague and was delighted to receive a reply. He was your old-fashioned dedicated teacher, devoted to the boys: he never married.  He mentioned that he had just retired and had only opened his Facebook page three weeks ago.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Naming Things..or People

This is a Google pic

I often think one ought to think twice before giving some things a 'name'.  For example, one of my grandchildren exhibits certain personality traits which make me think she might have a touch of 'Asperger's'.  However, at not yet three, she is changing all the time and I am thinking rather that she is simply somewhere on the continuum of extrovert/introvert/A type personality on a level that is not familiar to me in my own children. My son once gave me a Personality questionnaire of the kind used by the big corporates as part of their screening processes.  Apparently, there are 17 main personality types! Perhaps in today's world we are often in danger of being blinded by science and thus inclined to look for problems where none exist. In a similar vein,  our neighborhood has its share of 'vagrants' who scavenge through  (or merely look through?) our dirt bins on a Thursday morning. If I just think of them as "people without jobs", I find I am much more sympathetic to their plight. When I got married, I found it difficult to call my new in-laws 'mom and dad' as they wanted. In the end, I got around the problem by finding similar-sounding appellations which were different from what I called my own parents. My sister-in-law advises that I get used to having my own in-law children call me Mom, because it helps to reinforce the idea that I should think of them and treat them like my own. To this day, I am sorry that my own mother told my new husband very firmly when we got married 34 years ago, "You can call him H.. and me Mrs M.." I've tried to be kinder to my children's mates.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sweating the Small Stuff?

I almost can't believe that such a storm in a teacup has been stirred up this week in our local press over Hot Cross Buns.  Apparently, a batch has appeared in one of our most respected supermarkets, labelled "Halaal" and this has released a tide of resentment amongst a (hopefully) small number of those whose Christian sensitivities have been extremely offended. So much bad feeling has been caused that the supermarket involved has withdrawn all the buns from their shelves.  So now no-one gets any.  Surely this is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face?  The sad thing is that this episode reveals just how paranoid and religiously intolerant our society is just below the surface.  We pretend as best we can that we are wonderful and accepting of those whose beliefs happen to differ from our own - and then this sort of thing tears through the flimsy facade. Perhaps its another wake-up call. Personally, I eat anything I fancy regardless of labelling, except that I try to avoid too many preservatives.  Just so as you know!  Happy Easter to my lot! Happy Holidays to everyone else!