Friday, 24 May 2013

Life is a Game of Chance

Google image

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

Google image

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.