Monday, 31 August 2015

That Elusive Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor images were too gross

When I used to drive more than I do now, I tried to perform a few pelvic floor exercises whenever I was stopped at a red robot.  I don't any more. For one thing, the agonised screwing up of my face while I was trying to isolate this muscle,  used to concern motorists and I picked up some very odd looks. Since I hardly drive any more (I would rather knit/crochet on our long road trips), I have forgotten all about this very essential muscle.  Until my sister-in-law started having incontinence problems. I suddenly remembered how very inconvenient this can be, when your urethra straightens out, no longer having a useful S-bend as happens so often with age and/or child birth. I did have mine fixed many years ago, but I got bronchitis a week later and coughing undid the good work.  So now, as a passenger in our car, I am trying again to improve matters as I am well aware that when the children ask me to jump on the trampoline, unless I have emptied my bladder within the last five minutes, I am asking for trouble. Maybe I shouldn't expect to jump on the trampoline at my age, but then again, why not?  Hopefully, it will just take a little regular effort which will pay dividends in the long run.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The One Thing you Remember

Welsh bass baritone - Brynn Terfel

I happened to hear Robert Merrill this morning on the radio and I was instantly transported back to those years I lived with what I thought was the 'love of my life' in my early twenties - an operatic baritone.  I am relieved to say, I no longer feel a jolt of the heart when I hear music like this, although I do still turn off the radio. We met when I was singing in my university choir and he came up from the London Opera Centre, as a student, to sing the lead in our production of William Tell.  I fell instantly in love with the Swiss hero with the marvelous, thrilling, rich masculine voice and when he asked me out, I was completely overwhelmed. We were together for three years, during which time I suffered a lot of heartache. Suffice it to say we had unrealistic expectations of each other. I think he suffered too when we broke up, both mystified as to why it wasn't working. Only much later, did I admit I had been in love with a voice not a person. Not his fault. Anyway, I'll always remember him for that voice - the embodiment to me (at the time) of my ideals of perfect manhood.
Boys of my youth:  there was my first real boyfriend, G, whose thin lips made kissing unpleasant,  another guy, M, whose five o'clock shadow grated my face and left embarrassingly red marks, there were two guys with beards - I was surprised how soft a beard feels, there was S with the smelly feet (how did I stand that??). There were lots of others - oh, yes, one had a glass eye.
My girlfriends:  my friend, C, for announcing that she only eats raw carrots one night at a dinner party (where the carrots were cooked); my friend, L, for introducing me to my husband, my other friend C, for standing in the middle of her tiny kitchen and saying that she loved it because she could open all the cupboards without having to move. And my long-time, most recent friend, W - I"ll never forget how she brought over a steaming chicken dish when we moved into our new house circa 23 years ago.  Do people still do  that?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Walking in Wild Flowers

This morning - walking in the wild
It's flower season again on the West Coast.  As our house is closed up while they paint, my husband has been keen to walk every day with me, especially as there is as yet no wind here and the scenery is beautiful.  Here's a pic of today's walk, hot off the press, how lucky are we? This is a couple of hundred yards from our house.
See the plots being cleared at the back

Indian ocean in the background
You had to show your Wild card in the picture
I guess every part of the world has it's moment and this is ours.  Visitors come from all over the world to visit this area but it's a gamble to arrive when the various climatic factors have brought out this bevy of beauty.  According to temperature and rainfall, different seeds germinate at different times, first usually come the orange and white daisies, then the pink flowers and shrubs and lastly the lovely blue. And of course, on a rainy day - most of them close up and you can't see a thing. This part of the park is only open to the public in August and September. We are so lucky to live here. What's more, when my husband consents to come along, we walk much further with each other to talk to. No matter that various parts of our legs hurt on either the uphill or the down - we take no notice. The other pics we took are part of a competition run by our National Parks: we are hoping to win this quarter and get our entrance fees paid for next year. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

House Painting the African Way

Gosh - I forgot it was dirt drum day - this is our house

One disadvantage with having a beautiful cream-painted house and garden wall is that it needs painting every few years.  This has become a really costly exercise or is it just that in the intervening 6 - 8 years prices have gone up a lot?  A lot of yellow/green moss has accumulated unattractively on top of our walls this winter, so it has resulted in sharp-eyed house painters roaming the streets looking for work, ringing our bell with almost daily regularity.  We bought suitable paint a while ago (to split the cost a little) and have been waiting for the first warm days to start the job.  The lucky contractor (who rang the bell the day we were ready), has been working in our town for the last 42 years, has a small team of guys, a very humble-looking pick-up truck (in need of a coat of paint!), but he does have references, a business card and a bank account. He doesn't do Internet advertising.   To our great joy, he takes a pride in his work, keeps an eagle eye on his staff at all times and even paints a little himself.  The house is looking much better.  When it comes to the money side, he is not quite so organized.  In order to beat any competition, he quoted his price by simply walking around and hazarding a guess. We wouldn't have to pay until the job was completed he assured us. Right. I know this will not be the case because of much past experience with these guys, (i.e.  previously classified as Cape Coloureds.)  Friday of the first week will arrive and he will ask for cash to pay his guys "otherwise, they won't be able to eat over the week-end."  Indeed, this is what came to pass: but I had the cash ready and a typed receipt for him to sign.  Midway through the following week, he asks me how much money is still due to him?   In the end, I drew up a spreadsheet for him, showing four equal payments and the descending balance.  This is Africa. At least the sun always shines.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Women's Month - August in South Africa

Google image
We have a special Public Holiday dedicated to this on 10th August. This year it happened to almost coincide with our Book Club night (ladies only, of course), and we had quite a serious and quiet discussion about women's lives in Afghanistan and similar places where women have a very bad time. Some of our group had very telling personal stories to relate. Feeling that the mood had become too sober, one of our number told a joke which provoked a loud burst of laughter. This disturbed the noisy slumber of our hostess's two French bulldogs who had been snoring on her lap.  Shocked from sleep, they leapt up, raced to the window and barked hysterically, clearly on the look-out for intruders. She was then inspired to show us the perambulator (baby carriage?) she had bought for them to take them for walks (?).  Apparently, they can't keep up with her super-fit self (she's just returned from walking the Camino in Spain), so she jogs with them behind the pram until they get tired, then pops them inside for the rest of the trip. From another angle, Woman's month has proved very nice for my daughter. Her husband won a 5-day golfing trip to Mauritius (partners go with and get spoilt).  So we are baby-sitting again which we are quite enjoying as we now know the drill.  Woman's Day was celebrated at her son's school with tea and cake, and the boys got to give their mothers a manicure and present them with a laminated picture they had designed. In one corner were displayed some Q's and A's the boys had to answer relating to their mother.  One particularly caught my eye.

Q  -  What does your mom like to do in her spare time?
A  -  She goes away on holiday.

C is 7.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Never Ass-u-me ( Got me again)

Google image

As my husband's blood pressure remains a little high, our doctor decided to up the dose of his Bilocor to 7.5 mg.  He duly scribbled the prescription and I went off to get it filled. At the first two pharmacists I went to (with whom our Medical has a special deal), each young man frowned at the paper, then checked his computer, then told me they have never had stock of such a dose.  One even showed me his screen - no orders in the last 12 months.  Puzzled, I went back to our usual pharmacy and tried again. No problem: the lady showed me that on the prescription the doctor had crossed out '30' pills and substituted '45', meaning that the usual dose of 5 mg should simply be supplied with half as many again so that the patient then takes 1 1/2 pills at a time instead of one. 

This did not seem to me to be rocket science.  Next time I shall read the script myself - in case I have to explain something to those whose minds seem to run on one track.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Getting Used to the Circle of Life

Spending time together while we can -some of the family

I've already become resigned to the trend that whenever we go away on holiday, someone becomes ill or dies. It's something I'm finding hard to assimilate though as simply a fact associated with getting older.  Gone are the days when all the pop stars I liked were young and healthy and all my loved ones were alive and well. Remember when we never ever thought about death other than on TV, when it stayed remote and unrelated on the national news?  This isn't going to be a sad post in any way, it's just me trying to be a grown-up.  I guess when both one's parents have passed away, that's the first thing: we are no-one's child any more. That's of course, if you have been lucky enough to have loving parents who have lived into their old age. I've been that privileged. Next, it can happen that your best friend dies of breast cancer or something.  Also, not happened to me. I can still cherish (by e-mail) the two best friends of my extreme youth - one in New Zealand and one in Australia. Yes, I can see that I am very lucky. When we were away, it occurred to us that we could pop in one one of my husband's friends - they had been apprentices together at South African Airways, 43 years ago, but had lost touch. We knew that he lived somewhere near and planned to phone his ex-wife, S,  to get his number. In the end, we never got round to it, time was too short and the days too packed. When I met up with S later in Jo'burg, she told me he had passed away the month before (a history of alcohol.)  Then we heard that the old family friend of my eldest sister-in-law, with whom she had spent a brief and innocent (she 75 and he 83) holiday five weeks prior - had passed away that week from pneumonia. Then we had tea with my dear friend, W, in Jo'burg: her elderly father-in-law was looking forward to chatting to my husband as they had once known each other at SA Airways. We had a lovely afternoon, the old gentleman immaculately dressed, independent as always, he still lived alone and unaided at age 92. He drove himself home - a distance of about 12 miles across town. That night he died as a result of a stroke after a fall in his kitchen in which he broke his hip. 
So we come and go.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Two Lovely Black Eyes

Google image

I am pretty sure there is an old song with this title, however I am to tell you about two really nice shiners, one sported by myself and one by the young waiter where my husband (66 today!) and I had lunch.  I got mine on the way home from our holiday: we stopped to get gas and my husband went ahead into the diner. I spied him across the room and as usual kept my eyes fixed on him as I walked and so completely missed the "Mind the Step" sign and went sprawling scattering my possessions, and gathering bumps on my knee and hip and something hit me in the face.  By the next day my eye was a nice black circle and it took a whole ten days to get through the green and yellow stages. Didn't hurt though. Today, this youngster displayed a very colorful rainbow around his left eye. I had to laugh: somewhat embarrassed, he told us he had been hurriedly putting on his T-shirt to go to work and didn't notice that the hanger was still in it.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Beating About the Bush

A nice bush

I approach this post with some trepidation as it concerns a delicate matter, not usually dealt with on blogs that I read. But here goes... As I've mentioned we were away for a good 3 1/2 weeks and as we were staying with relatives we experienced a certain shyness about 'getting it together' during the hours of the night, with the result that we only managed 'it' once.  As we turned homeward bound, we exchanged knowing smiles and hinted at what joys were to come once we were back in our own bed and in the privacy of our own home.  We mentioned this to each other a few times. The net result was that when we were home and in our own bed, the heightened anticipation resulted in (as Sextant has put it) - equipment failure. Now this was probably on both sides of the bed but is always more obvious on one side than the other. In the past, I have always wondered why psychologists recommend making a special date with one's partner, emphasized by romantic touches like candles/wine/log fire/sweet music or whatever turns you on. On the odd occasion we have tried this even when we were young, we were both so self-conscious and performance-conscious that any such efforts were also a complete flop. Now that we are in our sixties the whole thing can balance on a knife-edge.  Although, I can count on one hand the number of times my husband has had a 'failure to stand up' experience in the last 40 years, he takes the cake as the World's Worst Worrier over just about anything you can think of, anything from 'how will we make it through retirement? (Finance), to 'how can I ever lose weight'? Perhaps his biggest worry ever would be that his sex life may diminish one day.  He lives in denial and doesn't appreciate at all my helpful remarks about prowess having necessarily to decline with age, nor does he understand that I find the idea equally devastating myself. Then I had a brainwave!  After tactfully dropping the subject for a week or so with it nevertheless hanging over us like a ton of bricks,  I remembered my Dolphin!  He always used to enjoy playing with that and we hadn't used it for ages.  So I had a plan.

One morning, I put down my book and asked if he would mind if I indulged myself a little with our favourite sex toy?  He cast me a suspicious look and said 'not to push it' but I just told him to carry on reading and set it to work...... 

After a few minutes, as I had hoped, his book was cast aside and he made a grab for the controls. No words were exchanged but a very satisfactory result was accomplished on both sides.  I hope this heralds a return to normal although I know he still has fears. Still, baby steps.  Meanwhile, did you notice the Freudian title of this post?  Bush? I wish. Menopause has such a lot to answer for. I still think we have a more difficult time than the men.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Worst Wedding Cake Ever

A bit blurry, but you get the picture

Shame, while watching the video of my dear friends' long-ago wedding, I couldn't help but giggle at the close-up of the wedding cake. What on earth?  I now see why my friend's face is so glum for most of the video.  a) her shoes were too tight and hurt  b) her period chose to arrive that day  and c) that cake!  Apparently, she had seen a picture of a 'sugar fountain' cake and wanted the same.  In fact, the cake didn't even make its dramatic appearance until half-way through the reception (one can surmise why, I think).  A few comparison spring to mind - I have finally settled on 'a petrified forest'.  I do hope she forgives me as I was eventually laughing with tears rolling down my face. Actually so was she.  It is 41 years later, after all. Much the same happened to us at my daughter's wedding. I had made a 3-tier carrot cake to be assembled at the venue and decorated round the edges with fresh flowers by the florist when she did the tables. Imagine my disbelief when we arrived with our guests to find the cakes placed separately flat on the table and with scarcely a leaf to disguise my rough edges.  Had she run out of flowers? Lesson: I should have supervised everything myself.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Old Flame

Google image

A lot of things happened while we were away not least of which is that I got to see a video of our dear friends' wedding - 41 years ago.  At the time of viewing I was visiting them (in the city) but my husband was further north 'on safari' at his nephew's game farm, where his older brother, now ten years retired, enjoys many happy hours managing the game/fences/bore holes/repairs etc. My hubby is thus equally in his element. (Each to his own).  I meanwhile happily shopped and caught up with my girlfriends. So there we were, watching this rather amateur production with its fascinating memories: actually, I wasn't there, the wedding took place about two years before I met my husband.  But there he was: I have to say, I asked for the 'Pause' button to be operated whenever there was a glimpse of my beloved, tall, slim and blonde - and yes, I had to torture myself trying to have a good look at his girlfriend of the occasion.  As I thought: a complete contrast to myself: a nice-looking brunette with a good figure.  I tried in vain to catch them in a passionate clinch during the dancing, but they seemed to stay at their table. I experienced a tinge of jealousy: yes, that's what it was.  Illogical, I know, but there it is. We want to think that we have always been the sole focus of our beloved's attentions, even if we didn't know him then. Not so? The good part is that when I mentioned this girl to my husband when we were reunited, he couldn't even remember what she looked like nor what her name was.  (I promise you, he was not dissimulating - after 38 years of marriage I can recognise this much); more to the point, when my son-in-law phoned me for my birthday and I told him how I had seen my handsome husband of 41 years ago, he jokingly asked me how I knew it was him?  That was easy, I replied:  "He still has the same yellow/black/white striped tie in his wardrobe and he still can't dance."