Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Political Cartoonist par Excellence

In our Sunday Newspaper

This was the cartoon in our Sunday newspaper last week-end.  How marvellous to have such a consistently fertile imagination and the talent to put it into pictures week after week.  The funeral of our great hero has spawned a number of interesting repercussions! I took a photo of the pic in the newspaper - 'mentioning no names'.  Ironically, all of our hero's dreams have thrown into sharp contrast the short-comings of our current President and Government. It will be interesting to see what the future holds. History has discovered that when a Liberation Movement is voted in to replace the previous regime (in Africa), it takes about 30 years to get them out again. So our current lot have theoretically another ten. Still one is tempted to feel that this week's events might shorten that forecast a bit.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Rain - Boo - Nation

 African tradition, rain is a lucky sign at funerals - luckily

Such was the apt headline in one of our dailies yesterday, after Nelson's massive Memorial service the day before.  Very long indeed - some 6 hours if you count from when the dignatories started arriving, even longer for those disciples who braved the torrential rain which continued all day and left their homes as early as 4.00 am. to get to the venue. Oh how boring were the speeches, except for Mr Obama's - his was as brilliant as always (remember we are not used to charismatic speakers over here). A fascinating day in many respects. Some of the foreign guests were clearly taken aback at the jubilant mood and in many cases, colorful dress of the crowd. But South Africans were in a mood to celebrate rather than mourn. Then some of the visitors relaxed, perhaps too much - witness the 'selfie' posed for by Mr Obama, Mr Cameron and the (very pretty) Danish President. British newspapers newspapers made much of this and there was much good-natured teasing about it in the House of Commons. No-one here that it worth mentioning. Oddly, the foreign Press did not seem much concerned about the loud boos from the crowd every time the State President appeared on the Big Screens. Not appropriate for the occasion, some said. Others applauded the chance that frustrated South Africans took to make sure the world knew they were disenchanted with our shady, self-seeking President with an aura of corruption around him so heavy I am surprised he can still walk. Today, the big talking point concerns the so-called Sign Language Interpreter, who the deaf community are calling a complete fake.  Did you see the video clips?  Have a look. HIs face is dead-pan, he does not move his lips, looks straight ahead and, according to the experts, simply waves his hands about with no vestige of resemblance to any known sign language, either local or international.  The big question is, "Who hired him?"  Probably, like everything else here that is 'under investigation', nothing will happen, no-one will admit guilt, no-one will step down from any high position and no-one will be punished.  We must be a laughing stock overseas.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Focus on South Africa

Google image - a man famous too for his shirts

Although I like to think of my blog as totally apolitical, it is hard to ignore the topic of Nelson Mandela this week,  if only because of the extraordinary response to his passing of all kinds of people world-wide.  It may be that his ideals have not carried through the way he would have liked, but we have made progress over the years since his release on a personal level at least, though our current politicans, like those the world over, leave a lot to be desired (to put it mildly). Since last Friday our radio and TV stations have been saturated with Madela memorabilia and although I thought listening to these anecdotes would quickly pall, I have actually enjoyed listening to the outpouring of personal stories from the ordinary, average Joe Soap, who has had the good fortune to encounter the man in person at some stage in the last 19 years. He had the most amazing charisma and empathy, even for the crusty, old dyed-in-the-wool Afrikaner.  On the day of his release in 1994, while waiting for events to start, his driver relates that he saw Madiba go up to an old soldier who was standing stiffly nearby, a scowl on his face.  Nelson (who was very tall), went up to the man, put his arm around his shoulders and said, "Don't worry, sir, you are one of us now".  Completely disarmed, the man broke down and cried. Such was the quality of the man.  Stories like this are legion.  There is another concerning a group of Afrikaans dowagers who belonged to some organisation (I forget what), that was invited to visit Nelson in his home for afternoon tea.  Feeling their bristling disapproval, Nelson welcomed them into his home saying, "Welcome to my home, ladies. I am so honoured that you have come to visit me".  They were similarly charmed.  Once, on visiting the queen of England,  he was heard to exclaim, "Elizabeth! You look as if you have lost some weight!"  This is the man for whom (at today's count) 70 presidents from all over the world are winging their way, as we speak, to Oliver Tambo airport in Johannesburg, to attend his Memorial Service tomorrow.  Such was the affection and respect he commanded.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Holding Hands

Google image

It occurred to me that the hands must be one of the most sensitive and communicative of parts of the human body.  Obviously, their uses are multitudinous, too many to try to list here,  but what an amazing network of nerve-endings they must be. Just think about it a bit.  In everyday life, we depend on them for everything and in our relationships, how thrilling is it to hold hands for the first time with a boyfriend, to hold the tiny hand of a baby or to offer one finger for a trusting toddler to hold to stabilize its first tottering steps. How nice is it to still hold hands with your partner of forty years plus?  What about holding the hand of a comatose patient in a hospital, or just to give comfort for someone who is sick.  And holding the hand of someone who is dying.  I regret to this day, that I couldn't be there for my dad when he passed away in England, and that although my mother looked into my eyes when she died in her own bed and pretty bedroom, supported by my brother who was trying to give her a drink of water, I was not holding her hand, I was doing my knitting and asking her to help me with a mistake I thought I had made.  I did not have a tactile relationship with my mother and I am sorry.  I try hard to rectify that with my own daughter and grandchildren.  It's so important and actually hard for me, as I didn't know it myself.  Luckily, and seemingly by an Act of God,  I have stumbled across a husband who loves physical contact and is unselfconsciously affectionate. I am so grateful.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Food Routine or Routine Food and other related thoughts

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Just read Bossy Betty's post and resultant comments, in which she observes that most of us eat the same breakfast every day, but vary lunch or dinner. As she says, wouldn't we go insane eating the same dinner every night?  I guess that depends on which part of the world you live in and your economic status. If you are well off, it also depends on how interested you are in food. Our Medical Aid magazine advocates lots of healthy easy-to-make meals but they involve expensive ingredients like fillet steak or smoked salmon.  When my husband is away, I just buy cans of baked beans and indulge twice a day in beans on toast with a glass of milk.  Once when I was alone for two weeks, I ate this all the time, varied by a helping of ice cream.  I loathe routine.  Once I thought I just couldn't bear the idea of getting up every morning and having to face myself in the mirror to wash my face and clean my teeth. Of course, I had to get over that. As far as food is concerned, it just isn't of great interest to me - but that's because I only really get excited about fresh cream cakes or dessert - which I dare not eat.  My daughter is married to an ex-restauranteur, who expects imaginative and amazing dishes every night, and won't eat the same item in a 3-week time span.  My daughter is constantly striving to live up to these expectations. She is now married for 7 years.  I have been married for 35 and am heartily bored with cooking. However, my daughter has introduced me to a website, where 'The Doorstep Chef' delivers marvellous meals to your home, Monday to Friday (or any day you want) for such a reasonable price I can't see how they can make a profit. I got very excited about this, as my daughter says the meals are terrific, but my stick-in-the-mud husband says as I don't 'work' I have plenty of time to think of an evening meal and besides I have lots of free meat in our big deep freeze, from our farmer relatives who always bring us supplies when they come to stay. The trouble is I am not fond of meat. No, I could easily eat a bowl of rice or similar every day for my evening meal and not worry at all as long as my stomach was full. On another level, I've always envied anyone who gets a uniform to wear to work. That would suit me down to the ground. I live in my head, not in my outside or in my stomach.  Hmm, I see my theme is somewhat at variance with my claim not to like routine.  What I mean is, someone else imposing a routine on me, if I do it myself, that's different.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Leave Well Alone

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My mother's speech was scattered with favorite and aposite sayings for every occasion. This was one of her favorites whereas my brother goes by the maxim of "If it's not broken, don't fix it".  e.g. HIs wooden letterbox is falling to pieces and hanging onto his wall by one screw. Brother's attitude is, "It still works". Big son was in Brussels last week-end,  (he is at the moment working in the UK, which he does twice a year) with some mates.  In his hotel room, on the second day, he found his passport to be missing and frantically reported same to the police, who, very efficiently, cancelled it for him on the spot and put out alerts for stolen document etc. Later that day, big son found his passport - merely in a different pocket in his rucksack from where he usually puts it.  Belatedly, he remembered thinking earlier that this other pocket would be a safer option.(LOL). Moral of the story:  never ever think you have found a better hiding place for a thing you have successfully hidden in the same place for the last fifteen years. It won't work.  Now the interesting part is that big son is due to come home on Friday and is as we speak, desperately trying to 'uncancel' his passport. He says he won't know until he actually has to present it at the airport whether it will work or not. Watch this space.

Monday, 11 November 2013

What's In A Name?

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Naming a child has been an important event in family life throughout history, involving many and various traditions both cultural and personal to the particular family and often subject to the vagaries of fashion.  When I was young, the children in my class were largely called, Nigel, Paul, Philip, John, Susan, Jane, Janet and Margaret. I thought the names of my father's generation were awful: his siblings went by the names of Blanche, Edna, Rowsell and Gladys, his own name being even more dreadful - Harold.  My grandmother's name was Ethel, or was it Mabel?  No matter. Ugh. I chose traditional names for my own children: Catherine, Nicholas and Andrew, and when they started having theirs, I begged that they remember just one thing:  please choose something everyone can both pronounce and spell without asking "Could you repeat that, please?"  They have managed quite well unlike a cousin, who named their first child, Jared - at least that's how I thought it was spelt - turns out it is in fact, "Jarrod" and a cousin in Australia has a girl called Georgia, well, that's what I put on my birthday calendar. Wrong again. They spell it "Jorga",  which to me contravenes all the spelling rules I learned at school.  However, English is nothing if not a language of exceptions to the rule, so I may not judge. We have a lot of bi-lingual primary schools in this country, English/Afrikaans, and in the smaller towns the classes are not even separate.  My library colleague was telling me that a friend of theirs, a grown man whose name is 'Riaan'  (Afrikaans), is mysteriously referred to as 'Amriaan', by contemporaries who were in his first grade at school, when they were all 6-years old. She asked him one day why this was. He told her that on the first day, the teacher had each child stand up and introduce himself and when it was his turn, he thought he would show off his knowledge of English and said, "I am Riaan". No-one was expecting to hear words of another language and so all, including the teacher chorused, "Hello, Amriaan!"  And so it stuck.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Fear of the Dentist's Bill - Catch 22

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My husband has known for the last 12 months that he needed major dental work on his back molars but went visibly pale at the size of the quote and so put it on the back burner.  His teeth started hurting in that area about six months ago, but, having simultaneously other health problems, more financially pressing at the time, he again ignored the signs.  Currently,  after some weeks of severe pain, he finally went to see our dentist, who prescribed an antibiotic in case of an abcess, measured him up for the necessary treatment and sent the updated quote.  To date, neither of us has summoned the courage to open the e-mail attachment (what horrors await?).  The antibiotic was finished a week ago, but the pain has now progressed along the side of his jaw.  Another week to go before the first available appointment.  Now it's painkillers and anti-inflammatories. And bad tempers all round.  Were the old days better when I lived in the UK and every 'old' person I knew had identical sets of false teeth which cost nothing?  I only know that my aunt's have never fitted properly, her cheeks have caved in, and she struggles to chew anything and my grandfather's used to clack up and down loosely and noisily while he ate. Just thought I would share those thoughts.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Wacky World of the Manic Depressive

I've become interested in this condition since learning that we have two in-law family members who suffer from this condition and one neighbor across the street.  One could have suspected that the amazing Stephen Fry would have the illness and I have just watched a DVD he made, which is an investigation into the disease which was only diagnosed in himself when he was 37, after a history of being expelled from school for various manic misdemeanors and a stolen credit card spree when he was 17 (followed by time in a juvenile correction facility).  Luckily for him, his intellectual genius and acting career have made him lots of money as during manic phases, he gets the urge to spend, spend, spend.  He admits to having to date 14 i-pods, 12 computers and many other gadgets/clothes etc. He says that at one point during the 1980s he had 11 cars. Wow.  To date, he has been resistant to drug treatment, preferring to enjoy the highs and suffer through the lows of the disease. He interviewed fascinating people in this program, including the actors, Richard Dreyfuss and the Star Wars princess, Carrie Fisher, fellow sufferers.  The really interesting thing was that of everyone that he asked, "Would you prefer not to have had this illness?",  all said that the highs were so amazingly creative and fantastic that they would rather suffer through the lows than never to have had the manic experience at all, when they are living in a super-charged world,  somewhere above the rest of us, possessed of an energy most of us can only dream about.  While that may be great for them, it can be very hard for their nearest and dearest, and of course, a percentage do commit suicide during the lows, when they feel absolutely worthless.  Maybe the rest of us should be grateful to be normal? Do we have a tiny regret about missing something?  I've never even had a drug-induced high. Never wanted or needed it though.  I've always wanted to be in complete control of my mental state.  I count myself very lucky.  Even here in Cape Town, there are drug vendors on every corner.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Blinded by Science

NB- We have 3-pin plugs in SA. Another bone of contention

I might have mentioned that I have been very much in awe of our smart, new SMEG dishwasher?  Well, this week I switched it on before we went to bed and emptied it in the morning, thinking that the teaspoons felt a bit 'gungy',  and then noticed that none of the lights was flashing.  Normally, it signals the end of its cycle by intermitttently flashing all the lights.  Then I noticed water pooled in the bottom. Eventually, I worked out it had stopped half-way through its cycle and nothing I could do would persuade it to continue. Got the book out. No help.  Checked the plug, noticed that the washing machine which shares the same double plug was working so what was the problem?  I then found a tea-bag in the cutlery container and saw that the water was a murky brown color. Came to the obvious conclusion - this machine is so clever is does not like to rinse with murky water and has thus switched itself off.  Waited for hubby.  He gave me an odd look, when he heard my theory, pulled the machine away from the wall and checked the extension (four sockets in a row) to which the new machine was attached as its cord was too short to plug straight into the wall where the old one was situated.  It was faulty. Hubby fixed it.  All back to normal.  Book showed us how to 'annul' the programme, so that the machine could empty out its water and we could start it again. (Grumble: so many appliances today come with very measly lengths of cord, witness my new hairdryer - have to get the extension out. Same complaint.) So there you are. Please remember my skills are linguistic and that I gave up the mysteries of science/physics/electricity subjects at school when I was 13. As my husband observed, what would I do without him? My answer to this is that we compliment each other.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Good Old British Humor - those pesky ear-phones

My favorite palm-sized radio that I can't live without

It's really interesting what tickles people's funny bone. The only show I sometimes laugh out loud at is : 'Miranda', a British sit-com starring the tall and lumpish Miranda Hart, who has issues with herself, her mother and her best friend and who runs a Joke shop.  (Check out some clips on YouTube).  My husband can't stand her - but then he has a complex about his figure and doesn't enjoy shows like this - it's really chick-stuff but I find it hilarious.  In one episode, Miranda sits down to listen on her ear-pieces to some music but finds the wires all in a tangle.  She tries ineffectually to sort out the knots for some minutes, then gets so frustrated, she picks up the scissors and cuts off the long bits, putting only the cut-off ends into her ears, whence she grins hugely, relaxes and pretends to listen to the music.  It made me laugh (as we do at the unexpected) - but also because I've been tempted to do the same thing. I've found a partial solution to my problem though.  I keep my earphones wound around a toilet roll and when I want to go to the gym, I hang them carefully round my neck when I leave the house.  Any other suggestions?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Teenage Boys!

This is part of our little flat - zebra pic we took in Nat.Park

We've been really busy lately, fitting out our little flat from top to bottom to catch the High season holiday rentals over Christmas and New Year.  So much have we spent/borrowed on our Access Bond, that the bank informed us last week, that we can't have any more as we are showing no signs of paying it all back in the seven years remaining.  Well, they don't know of our plans, nor of our flat purchase, so I suppose you can't blame them. Luckily, they gave us 72 hours to borrow as much as we liked, so we gave it careful thought - and borrowed a bit more than we thought we would need.  During the course of checking out our prospective rental agent's references, (luckily, they came back glowing with praise),  one of her referees asked if by chance he could stay in our flat for one night, as he would be in town to visit his son at boarding school and his own flat (in our complex) is rented out. Nervously, I agreed and was galvanized into a frenzy of 'finishing touches'. Luckily, he only wanted hot water, towels and a bed, and he collected the key from my house, promising to return it the next day into my letter box, as I would be out at the time.  This duly came to pass and when I got home in the afternoon after his stay,  I opened my letterbox to find - no sign of my own key, but a sizeable bunch of keys with labels with his name on.  (??) Panic stations.  I dialled his mobile phone and got the message "I am overseas at the moment...."  Increase panic! Would my flat have been cleaned out - it's not insured yet?  I phoned the agent and she assured me not to worry - the gentleman does usually work out of the country, but he has been a good client of theirs for years.  I e-mailed him and asked for an explanation and later that morning he phoned me.  Turns out he had not been aware of the mix-up until he received my e-mail.  He had asked his 14-year-old son to put the key in the letterbox and not noticed that the boy had simply grabbed the first bunch he found in the car's glove compartment.  Having had two teenage sons of my own, I totally understand. Of course, I do have a spare.  Note to self:  get lots of spare keys. I'll pass his on to our agent. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Human Nature

Google image

My husband and I have long enjoyed watching Storage Wars with Dave Hester and the guys, but have wondered all along how certain really valuable items could be left to languish amongst otherwise ordinary household stuff.  Could they have been planted?  Huh!  It's taken a while - but just last week-end there was an article in our Sunday paper about how Dave Hester had blown the whistle on this very same matter and had been sacked by the network in 2012.  The other thing was,  we would have been extremely interested to hear the history of how come these lockers have come to be abandoned, resulting in their being eventually auctioned off to the highest bidder.  I now read that the 'network' (in its wisdom), decided that the sad stories of death/divorce/accident etc. would be unpalatable for the anticipated audience.  How wrong could they be.  Those are exactly the kind of stories that cry out to be told and it's been a constant frustration that we have watched all these shows with our curiosity unsatisfied. After all,  that's the secret of why most of us are addicted to all kinds of drama,  from 'true-life' police stories or movies to scary books.  We are just so relieved that none of this bad stuff has happened to us and we count our blessings, or alternatively,  we are equally pleased that the sort of bad stuff that has happened to us - also happens to others.  Wake up network.  I don't think I can watch Storage Wars any more though: the betrayal is too great.  We'll stick to American Restoration - our other favorite show.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Music to My Ears

Google image - at least I didn't do this

So I was at the coffee shop with my buddies, having gone to a morning movie "RED2"  (not very good) and we were catching up as we hadn't seen each other for a couple of months.  I was relating my reluctance to contact our insurance company - for the second time this year - this time to confess that I had damaged my car.  Well it was a dark night, I had our new dishwasher in my trunk and my husband insisted that we off-load it while small son was miraculously around to help. My garage is awkward to back into at the best of times due to a kink in our driveway, and I still maintain that small son had parked further over than he usually does.  No matter. While they man-handled the machine into the house, I backed my car towards my garage to put it away. Imagine my surprise when I heard this 'crunching' noise. I got out and to my amazement saw that I had backed into the raised wooden door with my hatchback still open, damaging both. (A bit fell off the garage and there was an alarming dent in the hatchback door.) In my haste to rectify the situation, I then scraped the left side back corner of my car against the white wall of the garage and dented that as well.  You can imagine my husband's face. I was so delighted when the lady next to me leaned over and whispered in my ear,  "Don't feel bad, I've done that too."

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Instructions for Dummies

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When it comes to technical stuff e.g. how to operate a new appliance - in this case a smart, state-of-the-art (say my children) SMEG dishwasher, I usually rely on my husband.  However, things never work when you have guests, so when I was faced with a row of flashing lights when trying to get our new dishwasher to start, I wasn't surprised when none of us - including my husband - could get the bally thing to work.  I even read the instruction book cover-to-cover, especially the 'Trouble-shooting' section.  After scratching our heads, we all went to bed, leaving a full load to cope with in the morning.  The next day, I put my clothes washer on (which shares the same pipes) and although I thought it was a bit slow to fill up, I didn't give it much thought until later, when I heard it straining to start the rinse cycle. LIGHT BULB MOMENT.  Neither machine had access to cold water. I turned the relevant tap on and voila - both machines happy and working.  Hubby had apparently had to fix a leak and had forgotten to turn the tap back on. How come the booklet hadn't said, "Does your machine have access to water?"  Do they not understand that there are no depths to which dummies may not sink?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

What Turns Your Page? Dan Brown?

I do like a good thriller filled with suspense but Dan Brown's latest, "Inferno", is not doing it for me.  I enjoyed very much, "The Da Vinci Code" because it was so different but his later books increasingly follow too much of a formula, although they are well-researched.  Several of our book club ladies enthused about this one, so I am giving it a go. I have read about 3/4 and have enjoyed it so far as an art history lesson, with my i-pad at my side and the wonderful Google Images as an instant manifestation of Brown's evocative descriptions of art works in Florence and Venice. However, the plot is too straightforward and I do frown at the red herring of our hero suffering from amnesia, a silly device here, I feel, and although the pace is hotting up (yawn),  I have never found stories which depend on the main characters constantly on the run from the bad guys to be very gripping. (I have found a soul-mate in one of our lady columnists who, when reviewing an action film asked, "Am I the only female who falls asleep during a car chase?"). Also, it seems to me to be heading for a predictable ending and why would the bad guy leave so many clues which would enable his scheme to be defeated?  On the other hand, we all have to read a Douglas Kennedy for Book Club this month.  He comes highly recommended although I am ashamed to say I had not heard of him before.  I got "The Job", about the cut-throat world of the Advertising industry in Manhattan.  I was quickly appalled by the hectic pace of the high-fliers in the first couple of chapters, but I can't wait to see what happens to the central character, who so far has bounced back from the massive ups and downs of his career.  He is a salesman - a breed which has always fascinated me (something I could never be myself) and so I need to understand what makes him tick.  Considering what has happened to him so far, I am amazed that he has not offed himself  (I would have). I shall also finish "The Inferno", it's been good for my general knowledge and anyway, I want to see if I have guessed correctly about the end.

Monday, 30 September 2013

When you Know you Love your Child

Small son with big brother

I've sometimes had a sneaky feeling that I might not love small son as much as I should - so does he drive me nuts with his untidy bedroom,  carelessly knocking dents into his/my car, being totally unable to tell me in the morning whether he will be home for a meal at night and numerous other irritating habits.  At the age of 24, he is still living at home. On Saturday night, he went off to yet another party with friends and on Sunday morning, my husband's cell phone rang, small son's indistinct voice said,  "Daddy? daddy?  (not hearing us this side)...."I've had an...."   and his phone went dead.  ACCIDENT!  supplied my mind immediately and my nerves went into overdrive,  I started shaking, couldn't eat my breakfast,  wanted to jump in my car and drive over to the suburb, he was reputedly in, phone the police and all the hospitals.  Ten minutes later the house phone rang.  "Oh, daddy, I've had an IDEA..."  I can't tell you the enormous relief at the sound of his voice, relating some plans for the day.  It was one time in my life when I have not minded feeling like a fast-deflating balloon.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Leaving the Littlies....

Them being brave

When my daughter announced a year ago that she and her husband would like to get away for a week, leaving their children with me and the other granny, I didn't give it much thought - it was so far away.  It happened last week.  Hence no blog posts - the children are now 5 1/2 and 2 1/2.  My daughter let slip, as they were on the way to the airport and thence to Bali, that the little one had run a high temperature during the night and had vomited and her brother had complained of a sore ear.  To this end, she had booked them an appointment with the family doctor to which I should take them the next day.  I am sure I need not detail the traumatic week-end that followed, the tears, the vomit, the raging temperatures, the heart-breaking "I want my mommy" and "when is my mommy coming back", and "is my mommy coming to fetch me NOW?"  We survived and of course, both children were full of beans the next day, having consumed their first two doses of antibiotics and well able to enjoy their cousin's birthday party.  Thankfully, the other granny took over during the week and we had them again only for the last two nights.  As an interesting perspective, I would like to relate the comment the 5-year-old made when we were on the way to the airport to fetch the parents:  "My mommy has been away so long, she is going to be so old when she comes back".  I have never been more grateful to see someone arrive back from a vacation safe and sound.  And I have been vocal about my disapproval of anyone leaving small children for so long. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Internet Dating.

Google image

Just a few thoughts because - no, I haven't done it, neither do I want to or need to (at the moment) but I might consider it one day.  What interests me is, having heard quite a few discussions on the subject, why do people choose to misrepresent themselves when writing up their profiles and posting their photograph? If you are looking for a companion for whatever reason, surely it makes sense to be as honest as possible?  I don't mean revealing any personal details that could lead to identity fraud,  but rather the other stuff, interests, likes etc. If you don't do this, how great will be the disappointment when you actually arrange to meet a real person? Something that amazes me - why do so many people rate a 'sense of humor' so highly?  There is one lady where I volunteer, who seems to find everything hilarious and she bursts out laughing every five minutes. It drives me nuts. I've always been rather a serious person myself although I do enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, but one a week would suffice. Sometimes I laugh even less often than that. I recognise that I seek out the serious stuff in life.  I like movies that are tragic and make me cry,  I enjoy thrillers and forensic detection. I like the Swedish writers - has there ever been a better trilogy than "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"?  I digress. I am not right now looking for kindred spirits. I think perhaps some people who use these websites are simply desperate - and so they lie. No wonder so many report bad experiences.  Actually, I must steer clear of the things: I recall in my youth, during my dating years, most of the guys I went out with I felt sorry for. They tended to be either a bit of an underdog, pathetic for some reason and definitely stood behind the door when good looks were handed out. By the time I could bring myself to dump them, I really despised them and dreaded going out on a date. This developed into a Catch 22, whereby I would feel bad and doubly sorry for them, and thus the sorry situation would drag on. No, I must stay away from the idea of Internet Dating. Now I must go and read some blogs - everyone has written good stuff this week.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Life's Little Ironies

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I have always found it mysterious that being a cash buyer for things can be a disadvantage. Witness buying our little apartment.  Thanks to my father's legacy, we were able to pay 3/4 of the amount cash, and put up the rest from our Access mortgage bond, so it was actually a cash transaction.  Despite, the seller agreeing to our paying the balance on day of transfer of ownership, the lawyers were unconvinced that I could be guaranteed to do this and insisted that I pay all the money into their Trust Account at an interest rate that was 2% less than the money was earning in my own account. Clearly, they thought there existed a possibility that I might decide to spend the the remaining money on something else, despite the fact that I would totally forfeit my 75% deposit.  Do they have a point or not?  Anyway, I had no choice but to cough up. I would have done better to have a mortgage bond.  On a related matter, I was fascinated to hear on a program on Sectional Title Property (e.g. blocks of flats) on our radio recently, that the o 50% of the external walls' thickness belongs to the owner and the other half of the brick is regarded as "Common Property", so that if you have a crack develop in an outside wall, the Body Corporate is obliged to pay half of the repair cost. Quite awful in my view, is the last observation I want to make which is about the dubious benefit of leaving one's house to a deserving relative in one's will.  This can unwittingly be a serious burden to someone in a precarious financial position as our law states that the recipient must pay Transfer Fees in order to register the property in the new owner's name. These fees are huge!  Our neighbor is having to sell his house because when he and his wife retired to a new home, they registered it in her name only because he was sickly and 10 years older than her. She died first of a stroke and the laywers are now nagging him for the transfer fee and he doesn't have it. Ergo, he has to sell the house. If a property is registered in both names, you still have to pay the deceased one's half of the transfer.  NB. How do you sell a property that is not actually legally yours?  Catch 22.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Those Embarrassing Gaseous Emissions

Time to lighten things up.  At our ages there is so much sadness, illness and death to cope with (refer many of your blogs recently), I am putting in a humble bid for a few smiles amid the gloom. In my own life, I have nothing of great significance to report, so I thought I would contribute a useful 'coping' tip in this post. I refer to those airy and noisy (but not actually noisome) emissions that catch us off guard (hopefully, but by no means always) in our home environment where, blissfully, we may allow the 'wind to blow free'. This is fine but how do we cope when caught short while out shopping and have no choice but to dive into the nearest Public Convenience to deal with an impending Number 2 ? When I was young, I would rather have died first and simply held on until I got home.  With aging muscles and sphincters, this is no longer an option, so I have had to devise a plan.  Luckily, with advancing science, most public toilets sport the very latest (and noisiest) hot-air hand dryers, so I simply sit down and wait until I hear some-one start up one of these ghastly machines and then I can relax and begin.  Don't ask me what do I do if the toilets are empty.  Well, then it wouldn't matter, would it? (Duh)
I hope you all have a wonderful, happy and healthy week-end. PS - Sextant, I do not think this post will resonate with you.  It is my understanding that gentlemen do not share the same sensitivities as ladies in these affairs.  Something to do with competitions at school? I am now going to raise the tone a little, by listening to Schumann's Symphony No.3

Monday, 29 July 2013

Resorting to Science

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I usually don't have to find ways to get my husband to agree to my whims but sometimes he digs in his heels.  After several near misses over time, I finally slipped on the shower gel foam and fell last week, falling across the sharp edge of the shower frame, having bumped the door open as I fell. I have a long knife-edge-shaped bruise on my rear-end to prove it. Hubby was cleaning his teeth at the time and was entirely unfazed, not missing a beat as he half turned and disinterestedly asked, "what happened to you?" (I was back on my feet by then.) I thought I had a good idea and asked if we could get a plastic non-slip mat with suckers underneath for the shower - I would cut a hole where the water was to go down the plughole and it would be attractively transparent with perhaps little decals of colourful fish inside. Hubby was against this: rather, he said, he would make me a slatted, waterproofed, wooden mat. This would be much better in his opinion. My heart sank - everything he makes is so sturdy and heavy, always designed to last: witness a couple of coffee tables he has made which I can't move and which therefore have collected dust bunny feet under their legs.  Besides, he never finds himself in danger of slipping in the shower, so can't see why I have a problem. I have pointed out with my tenuous grasp of the laws of physics that this must be a function of gravity and suction - he is much heavier than I am and therefore more attached to the ground.  I have backed up this argument by pointing out that if I step backwards, not noticing him standing behind me in the kitchen, he doesn't move whereas I rebound a foot or so forward. Am I right? Or is there such a thing as non-slip shower gel?

Friday, 26 July 2013

Buttering up

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There are ways and means of doing/saying things which elicit various reactions in one's beloved life partner, depending on how carefully one has chosen one's words/actions. To this end, before I confess to my husband about that latest tiny dent in my car I am spending this week being particularly nice to him and doing things which I know he has appreciated.  To date, it being Friday, I have cooked several of his favorite meals, I have finally tackled and successfully removed the black mold high up on the bathroom walls, I have washed my car, made sure his favorite shirt and matching socks were available for an important meeting, and I have been particularly pleasant and sympathetic re his health and work woes. I did show the tiny dent to big son, who after a sharp intake of breath said: "But it's a sharp one, mommy" which apparently means, it may be small - but its nasty. I hasten to mention that I am not in the least afraid of my husband's reaction, it's just that there have been such a series of things lately....  Still, I would like to sweeten the pill as much as possible, remembering that I do have two useful weapons in my armory: the first is that I could remind him of the time that we borrowed my brother's car to holiday in the UK and on the way up to Scotland, hubby was so excited to see a large ferry from Ireland about to dock in a seaside town, that he drove too quickly up to the harbor wall and dented the (albeit old) Merc's bumper. My brother was very gracious about it.  Secondly, hubby has never tired of saying to visiting friends to whom he has often lent our cars when they worried about possible accidents, "People are more important than things," (incidentally quoting his mother). That should do the trick. I'll let you know how he reacts.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

More Serious Cases of Dropsy/Whoopsy

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I thought we were over the accidentally-breaking-things epidemic for a while but we've been busy bees lately and some more of our possessions have come under the hammer (so to speak).  We were working at our other house last week-end, hubby was putting in a gas hob so that we can have an alternate source of power during possible electricity shortages. We have not yet afforded to put a decent granite worktop in that kitchen, and just have a temporary (loose) hardboard across the top of the bottom cupboards. As hubby had done this work himself, he knew he could just shove this item sideways in order to have more space to remove the previous glass-top hob. I heard an ominous crash: it seems hubby had forgotten to screw the crockery-filled end cupboard into the wall and it had toppled over, breaking six of my favourite pudding bowls in its descent. A few hard and incredulous comments escaped me, before I buttoned my lip, knowing that his riposte would be as always, "I'm sure I did it on purpose!"  The next day, we returned home, in time to see a large crack in the recently-fixed rear bumper of small son's car. He had been to sleep at big son's house while they were on holiday and had to leave for work in the dark one morning, forgetting that big son's driveway has a kink in it to avoid an unfortunately positioned lamppost on the pavement. I was about to remonstrate with small son and then remembered.....last week, I had doped myself up with cold and flu medications, feeling very groggy and had (perhaps dopily?) reversed my car into my garage - with the hatchback open, having just returned from the shops and emptied the trunk. I heard an ominous crunch and jumped out to find a small dent in my car and the bottom beading and first wooden plank almost ripped off the garage door. I've done my best to hammer and glue these back into place - just waiting for hubby to notice one of these days. Until then, I'll button my lip. When he does find out, I'll just say, "I'm sure I did it on purpose!"

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Coming Home

When you get home safely after a holiday, there's always a week or so of adjustment. Mixed feelings: great to be home, but sorry the hol. is over. Never mind, look forward to the next one.  Relief: back in our own deliciously soft bed. Anxiety: rush around to water my expiring indoor plants that small son forgot about. Loads of washing (small son saved his for me as well.) Relief: the house didn't burn down or suffer another flood from sub-standard plumbing like last time. A general feeling of well-being (for me), gloom for my husband (back to the stresses of work). Reflection: it was great to be up in Johannesburg and see friends I haven't bumped into for 35 years when we used to share a communal house together. It was great to attend my brother-in-law's 70th birthday but sad to have to attend a funeral - the oldest family member of our generation: uncomfortable feelings of our own mortality. Still, it was a wonderful funeral, about 100 people and wonderful eats enough for 200.  That's what's nice about living and working in the same community all your life: everyone comes and everyone remembers you. Such nice things get said.  Made me wonder what my own will be like one day as I've moved about a lot. Will someone send out word on Facebook or Twitter? Will memories be jogged in far corners of the globe and messages be texted? I'd love to be a fly on the wall. Better not.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Case of Dropsy

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No, not the mediaeval term for fluid gathering in various parts of the body: we have had a spate of dropping and breaking things.  Our excuse is that nothing has been in it's rightful place because our cupboards were emptied after our flood and stuff has been stacked precariously all over the place. Still, I'm not sure that is really why I broke four wine glasses and a flower vase during a two-week period, and my husband - two clocks. Without further explanation, one might be tempted to think that I am an alcoholic who staggers about the house constantly inebriated and tripping over things, and that my husband has a grudge against clocks. Not so. Each casualty has a perfectly reasonable explanation - in my case, I am always in a hurry and clumsy by nature whereas my husband side-swiped one clock off the wall while trying to carry a pile of chairs back to the kitchen and the other while pulling a wire through the wall to re-connect the televisions to each other. Neither of us has the best of eyesight. Our very worst has been that we dropped our newly acquired i-pad and were surprised that it's glass broke and astonished at the cost of replacement. Luckily, I had remembered to insure it and the insurance paid for the repair in full.....Well, after that really uninteresting post, I plan to attract more readers to my blog by entitling the next one,  "Granny Porn". No, really, watch this space.....

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Giggle from Cold Cape Town

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I have to confess that 'cold' to us is a relative concept, not meaning snow or frost. Indeed, even our nighttime temperatures rarely go below 8 or 9 degrees C. No, cold to us means heavy rain for perhaps three days on end after the passing of one of our rainless summers, before the sun shines again. Thus, most of us here don't know the meaning of the words 'central heating' but when it rains we feel exaggeratedly chilly and make a great fuss. So it was that my husband instructed me to ask Big Son to return our oil heater which has been on long-term loan to him for the last three years, since he and his family returned to SA from the UK and lived in a flat which suffered from damp. As they also had a new baby, we 'lent' them our tumble-dryer as well.  "Tell him," my husband said,"that we are freezing our a......s off here."  Further, I was not to feel sorry for them as Big Son had let slip that he had spent £75 on a light for his bicycle while working in the UK last month. So I duly made the request in these very words as soon as Big Son next set foot in my house. Somewhat taken aback,  "I thought you gave us that heater", (Big son's memory is short), he agreed to return it.  Five minutes later, my telephone rang: my daughter, "Please tell M that we are freezing our a.......s off over here, and can he please give back the gas heater we asked him to look after while we moved house."  Shame.  I didn't feel I could ask for the tumble-dryer on the same day. I'll leave that until the next 'cold' spell.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A Retro Cautionary True Story

google image - only in India?

When my husband worked at SAA in a former life, there were not so many safety factors as are around today. The staircase up to the plane had to be pushed up to the doorway for the passengers to ascend and as the plane got heavier the more people boarded, so the top step would sink a little, sometimes quite a lot. One day the gap was so wide, a little old lady, struggling up with her hand luggage, fell completely through onto the Tarmac and was killed. Her hand luggage was found to weigh 28 kilograms! Several thoughts spring to mind. My first thought was "Crikey, how strong she must have been!" My    Husband once staggered up the steps with 20 kilos of frozen warthog in his hand luggage (also many years ago), with quite a strained expression on his face but he's quite a big man. Other thoughts - why did no-one try to help her?  Today, there are x-ray machines etc but here, especially on our domestic routes, airport staff turn a blind eye when passengers take last minute extra hand luggage from relatives just before they go through the security gate. This practice often means there is not enough space in the overhead lockers to the annoyance of law-abiding travelers. But there it is, there are no sanctions, when people realize they can get away with things, they will. What was in that old lady's luggage must have been worth it to die for. Wonder what it was?

Friday, 24 May 2013

Life is a Game of Chance

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I watched with horror the results of the huge tornado that hit Oklahoma. I used to think: why do people live in the way of such regular events?  Guess what... I came home from signing all the papers for the purchase of our little flat, turned on the radio just in time to hear a discussion about "The Milnerton Fault Line".  This is where we live. Earthquakes have occurred here as follows (since recorded), 1620,  1809 and 1811 with a small one in 2009.  The one in 1809 would have measured, say the experts, 6.5 on the Richter scale.  (Who knew?) Our one nuclear power station  (about six miles away, three from the apartment), is apparently built almost on the fault line.  Engineers knew this at the time of construction and it is reputedly safe up to an earthquake measuring 7.00.  Not so our little flat, advertised for surfers as "1 minute's walk from the sea".  So in the event of an earthquake, we shall be wiped out, if not by a fissure in the earth, then surely by a tsunami.  Seismologists say, (with extravagant use of oxymoron),  the risk is "rare, but a very real threat for Cape Town".  Am I worried?  No. What will be, will have to be.  I just hope that we are safe for another 30 years: a mere pinprick in time. Unlike me, my husband is a huge worrier. I shall not tell him about this. Me: I just stick my head in the sand.

Monday, 20 May 2013

To buy or not to buy? Throwing the bones..

How to survive when retired?  This thorny problem lies menacingly behind one's thoughts for about the last ten years before retirement kicks in. Most of us try to work the sums as best we can, but what if we live to a ripe old age and inflation times us out? Are we destined to die in poverty?  My father-in-law managed 83, my mother, 90, and bless him, my dad - 94.  I shouldn't say this but the nett result of my dad living so long is that although I have just received a nice little windfall from his will, my husband is now teetering on retirement age himself, so that means he can't qualify for any further housing loan once he hits the age of 64, which is in August this year.  It has crossed my mind to wonder how the banks can in any case grant a mortgage at this age in South Africa, as companies have a mandatory retirement age of 65, but apparently they can grant you a loan for 12 years up to the age of 75.  (How do they expect you to service this once retired?)  Anyway, we still owe on this house, because of building our retirement home so we should have one property at least to rent/sell in August next year. But we won't be able to live comfortably. We need another investment property to earn a rental income.  We started looking on the websites: big disappointment - we got all excited about one apartment only to discover the website had not been maintained and that place had been sold two months ago.  (Shan't be using that company then!)  The most reliable method of finding properties for sale seems to be the week-end newpaper supplements. To this end, I phoned an agent on Sunday afternoon regarding an advertised property.  He was currently sitting in a Show Flat, he told us, in a complex we were actually very interested in: so we went to see him there first.  It transpired that this apartment had not been advertised this week because it had been sold to people who had changed their minds and backed out of the deal 5 days previously. Not enough time to advertise as a show house. We looked, we liked, we made an offer.  I signed the papers this afternoon, thinking maybe, that Fate was looking kindly on us for once. The numbers worked out:  the property's number was the same as our own house: 24.  I don't have any bad feelings yet... just waiting to hear if our offer has been accepted.... Hopefully, the holiday rentals will help to support us one day.  That is if our offer is accepted.... more anon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Matter of Perception

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I got a bit carried away with our 'bespoke' kitchen, in that when the guys asked me where I would like to position the handles on the cupboards, I demonstrated with great authority my preference: the handles were duly screwed in on all the cupboards on one side of the kitchen.  Thereafter, I realised I had made a mistake: when I stood back and looked - they were definitely too high. Too late to change my mind. However, to rectify the error on at least the other side of the room, I asked them to position all those handles 1/2 inch lower, reasoning that you can't easily look at both sides of the room at the same time, and if you don't expect to see this small difference, you won't. This has proved to be true: I especially didn't tell my husband and even his critical eye has noticed nothing. In the same way, since having the bags under my eyes removed last week, my face has gone from supporting two pendulous, purple testicles after 24 hours, to purple grape-sized bruises on the second day, to small peas on the third and so on.  After a week, on the night that I went to Book Club, which was the day after the stitches were removed, I thought I looked almost normal, just with yellowish/green bruising which I thought well-concealed with make-up.  One lady asked discreetly if I had had a sleepless night while another demanded to know if I had been in an accident. It all depends on your frame of reference.  NB. This lady is not me - but my bags were similar to her 'before' picture so I hope I look as good after.  Takes about 3 - 4 months. PS I think this lady had her nose done as well?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

How Irish Dancing Got Started

google image - sadly not 'himself'

I have long been a fan of Michael Flatley and his Irish dance team: I even have an antiquated video of his first big show.  This clip has been going around on the e-mail: I have not idea if copyright applies, but I'm copying the link here for you as it made me laugh out loud, especially towards the end.

Watch it with your spouse: it's hilarious - and a laugh is good for you.  Perhaps a sense of humor is the greatest gift of all: satirists are amongst my favorite purveyors of humor.

Let me know what you think.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bullied about Height

Hubby - 6 feet tall
 Planned splashback tiles
I have always thought of myself as average height for a European female:  1.65m (5'5"). However, when it came to deciding the height of my kitchen cupboards, I encountered resistance from the males, and being outnumbered, (foolishly) agreed to a compromise.  We have lived in this house for 22 years and I have always found the height of the cupboards to be perfect (maybe the norms were different then?)  Now, I get told by the cupboard guy, backed up by my husband, that the standard height for cupboards to start above the work surface, is 10cms higher than my old cupboards. I immediately realised that this would mean that I could only access the bottom shelf with any comfort and would have to tilt my neck to see any items on the second shelf up. I was outnumbered: both of the guys in question are over six feet. Cowed, I agreed to the new height and if it wasn't for the fact that we shall probably be selling this house next year, I might have, albeit feebly, stuck to my guns. In an effort at appeasement, my husband has bought me a light aluminum stepladder which is to hang on my back door by two hooks. Even so, I am not really happy.  I shall have to resort to high heels.  Are kitchens designed exclusively by men? Will the eventual new lady occupant of this house be tall? I have to remember that my husband cooks in this kitchen at least as much as I do.  That seems to imply that I don't have a leg to stand on. Ah well, life is a compromise. Meanwhile, it took hubby all of one day to get the old tiles off the wall so far. For the first time ever, we are going to get someone in to do the tiling - floor and splashbacks.

Well, fancy that!

Big son's car  - flames extinguished

You may remember big son's elderly Merc has been languishing at the garage as a result of a fire in the engine. It's been nearly three weeks now that we have been awaiting the results of the insurance assessor's investigation.  Turns out he has been scratching his head as, once the engine had been cleaned out of all the debris after the blaze (mostly smoke and one or two flames in fact), there was absolutely no damage to the car. The electrics are working perfectly, the brake pads are fine and no oil was spilt.  You can just see, if you know what you are looking at, the remains of a rat's nest, near to the exhaust pipe and on top of the Merc's protective metal plate at the bottom of the engine. Like snakes, cats and various other animals, rats also like a warm place to sleep. A light bulb had gone on when someone mentioned that their son had also had a fire in his engine and a rat's nest was the culprit.  I accompanied a much-relieved big son to the panel shop to fetch his car today, grateful that his car's engine was so well protected from fire.  It wasn't a good week otherwise for them: his wife's car was subject to a smash-and-grab last Saturday, so we've been juggling around available vehicles for them. (Big son is very in love with my scooter and my daughter-in-law now much fancies my Mercedes A170). Thankfully, they now both have their vehicles back - and so do I.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

You're So Vain...

When that popped into my head as a title for this post, for some reason I was convinced it was a Beatles' song. I googled to make sure: well, what do you know - it was Carly Simon. What would we do without the Internet?  Anyway, this is about me trying to thread the four needles on my ancient Toyota Overlocker machine.  It is about 15 years since I have used it as it was a rather basic model and I always struggled to get the tension right every time I changed the cotton.  I've just been using the zig-zag on my Husquvarna sewing machine instead.  Now with the big 'clear-out' I have determined to get this machine working again or to sell it.  They came to put the new carpet in my study yesterday, so while I kept a beady eye on them, I spent a happy hour threading up three of the needles of this machine according to the instruction book and an unhappy hour trying every which way to get the last (and simplest) one done. Not a chance.  Not to be defeated I tried a torch, a magnifying glass, licking and squeezing the cotton, repeatedly cutting the thread with a sharp scissors, squinting at the miniscule hole with alternate eyes shut, varying my focal length and finally cursing the inescapable fact that my eyes are not what they were. I waited for big son to emerge from his office on a tea-break and asked him to have a go.  No problem.  One attempt: job done. I have decided to sell the otherwise perfectly working machine on the grounds that I have heard that these days you can get a miracle machine with a self-threader.  The optician did warn me that multi-focal contact lenses would never be as good as glasses. What can I say? I'm too vain.

Friday, 26 April 2013

A Blessing in Disguise. Catharthis

Study minus wet carpet

Cupboard awaiting censure

Remember these?

My lounge with matresses & bedding

TV room - kitchen cupboard stuff

Outside room - temporary kitchen

There is nothing like having your back to the wall for making procrastinators like myself get down to having a clear-out.  As the pics illustrate - I've just had to empty my cupboards and throw stuff out, with a view to retiring next year, August, galvanized into action because the insurance people wanted to replace almost all my cupboards because of our flood.  (Watch this space.).  It's odd that you can only throw certain things away when you are ready to do so.  I have hung onto my university notes circa 1971-73 for all these years, thinking that one of my children might need them. Not one of them has. I have finally ditched 7 years of Medical Aid receipts, hoarded since 2007, I've only kept the last 12 months in case the taxman asks for them. I've carted away 3 loads of recycling and been 5 times to hospice with 'stuff' that they assure me they can sell.  I feel so good! I feel as if I have embarked on a new stage of my life.  One other thing has resulted from this cleansing:  I have gathered all the photographs of my mother, my father, my childhood, the pics of my great-aunts, the notes I made when I quizzed my dad about his life after my mom died -  and I am busy making several scrap books.  The first one I am tackling is about my own life (I dont' feel emotional about that), then I'll do one each for my mom and my dad. I still chastise myself that I didn't get more details from them both. I console myself with the thought that one day, at least one of my children will be interested in family history after we are gone. Have any of you thought about this? It's fine when we are all alive and healthy. Who thinks ahead?  It has hit me like a ton of bricks how much I don't know about my parents' histories now that they are gone.  I hope to leave my own children with a different legacy - the story of my life. No holds barred.  Hopefully, it will have meaning, for at least one of them.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

He Who Could Laugh Last, but didn't

The epitome of Neatness - sadly, not my shelves

We hit a wobbly with our new kitchen cupboards yesterday. With only the doors to put on (promised for this morning), our guys arrived very shamefaced to inform me of a 'slight problem' - the factory has let them down on the cupboard doors - they now discover they don't have enough orders for this finish and so are not prepared to cut the small amount needed for us (35 doors in all). Ours, it seems, is not a popular choice.  (So why offer it?) Dilemma.  The afternoon was full of angst, irritation and indecision and phoning up to my husband, who had flown up to Pretoria for two days on business. Eventually, I agreed to phone them back first thing in the morning with our decision on the options available, once he had returned. Meanwhile, two of the team quietly carried on putting up shelves on the other side of the kitchen.  I only noticed when my husband pointed it out that night that they had made a mirror image of the ones I had requested on the other side, so that although I now had beautifully matching sets, I had no shelf high enough to place a box of Cornflakes, or my bottles of cooking oils etc.  Vaguely, I had only a passing thought that as I would be getting a lot more cupboards than before - everything would somehow fit in. Chiding myself that I had not worked out all the measurements on paper with appropriate diagramsI told them the guys these shelves must come down and be altered.  As they build them daily in situ, I had not given much precise attention to detail as we made changes as we went along. This whole project has actually caught me on the back foot, because it has only happened because of our flood. To his credit, hubby has not rubbed in the fact that I had not thought about the heights of the cornflakes or the cooking oil.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mother Love. Not.

It has been a bit of a disastrous month for our family in general. Last Saturday, big son & family were going to join us at our holiday house: their car's engine burst into flames as they were leaving town to the extent that even the fire engine arrived. Our neighbor popped over to see how our kitchen cupboards were getting on and let slip that small son and friends had been observed, one Saturday night while we were on holiday,  trying to straighten up the driver's door on his (well, still mine until he pays for it) car. B had been alerted to this activity by a loud "tat...tat...tat..tat...tat" noise, which on looking out of his window, he deduced must have been one of small son's attempts to demolish our electric gate, this time by presumably reversing out too close to it with his door open (having to push start the car yet again, thus rattling the door down the row of uprights along the fence. When confronted with this information, small son claimed no damage to his car (we noticed a few slightly bent poles on the fence/gate); in fact, said he, he could now again close his window, which had been impossible for the last two years. Sometimes there is an upside. Meanwhile, big son has had to borrow transport from me, as he is working daily at my house until he gets a telephone line at his new residence.  He wanted my scooter and at first, I said an emphatic no, pointing out that if he were to be in an accident in the rush hour traffic, there might be extreme damage to my scooter. (Giggle).
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  No, really, I have to admit that was my very first thought - followed only a millisecond later by concern that my son might lose a limb. I've had to relent as I felt bad and also because big son filled the scooter's tank for me (5 litres) and I felt sorry for him in that he much misses the one he had in London, which is where he drove to work for a year and is also where he passed the stringent UK test. So he'll be OK. As for small son. No comment other than to say that he is learning a lot of life's lessons lately, he's paying off medical bills and saving up for his 'reckless' driving fine.  Although the traffic department has already sent two notices, they said he must await the summons: they haven't sent out last October's ones yet.  So he has a chance to save up for the no doubt hefty fine. Too bad.
PS - Small son bought a new battery for his car last month: he just won't believe his father when told that the huge speaker system keeps draining it.

More on The Lazy One

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Back from the library this morning after my two-hour physical fitness stint of shelving books. The Lazy One was again absent this week - on sick leave. This time her foot is sore. I ventured a guess that by the end of the financial year, she would have used up every one of her sick days. The upside is that the staff hardly ever notice her absence, as she does so little when she is there. They have got used to gradually taking over most of her tasks.  There is no hope of even getting her a disciplinary hearing because she is a "BEE" appointment, (Black Economic Advancement).  A real source of irritation is that she is paid on the same grade as the Deputy Librarian. The ironies of life. Amazing - when I tried to find a Google pic to illustrate this story - they were 98% men!  But I liked the words of this one.