Saturday, 26 September 2015

When HIs IQ is Off the Charts

google image

We've just said good bye to visitors from Australia, a friend of my hubby's from way back and his 34-year old son.  They are on a mission to South Africa to follow up the wife's family tree - and already have an impressive record of her Dutch ancestors going back to 1200 AD.  It's been a challenging two days for me, when I discovered how weird it is to try to have a conversation with a young man who is a super brain, not only in science and Math, (the son heads up a Eurasian IT team - just back from a business trip to Vietnam), he also seems to have total recall and polished off the last four clues of my cryptic crossword in a matter of minutes. (I've been working on them for days). He has also built himself a telescope in his spare time, grinding the lens himself and has a camera with which to photograph the night sky. In between, he is an amateur radio enthusiast and lugged his equipment all the way here to take it to the top of Table Mountain to try to contact someone elsewhere on the planet. Apart from that, he seems to be knowledgable in every field imaginable and therefore has to try hard not to dominate conversations. On the plus side, he is a quiet, polite and I think modest person, who does not talk down to one.  He reminds me of that super charismatic and charming Professor Bryan Cox who makes these marvellous TV programmes for the BBC. On the down side, I can't think of any time in the last two days that he asked either myself or my husband a single question regarding our lives, our country or our family.  He admitted that he is wrapped up in his own world and struggles to switch off his brain: he has found one method though - he hums the tune from The Great Escape to get himself to sleep. I asked him if going to a Co-Ed High School had helped him to get on with girls and received an emphatic "No". I am not surprised  - I remember him as very skinny and nerdy at that age, although I don't think it bothered him.  Now, he has the legs of a hiker and has filled out a bit. In fact, a nice-looking thirty-something now, married with two girls. I am just sorry that I couldn't have introduced him to my brother and his boys.  They would have had so much in common.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Very False Economy

If only we'd known

I don't know if car number plates feature very highly on your priority list, but they do for my husband.  We have two trailers, two motor bikes and two cars which have to be licenced every year.  That represents a lot of number plates and a lot of expense if you change address as the cars obviously have to display one front and back. Our current Cape Town number begins with "CA..." followed by 5 numbers and my husband was adamant that he wants no vehicle of his to sport one that begins with "CR..." where we now live - as this points to a place where elderly, slow and bad drivers live. Clearly, not ever applicable to us. Also, changing the plates is a big cost factor. So we rented ourselves a Post Office Box in Cape Town which we told the LIcensing Department is to be used as our address.  Thus we keep everything CA. Only our car license renewals go to this address. So for almost a year we have paid rental and have just renewed for next year. Meanwhile, we bought a little Pajero and had to licence it with "CR.."because it came from another Province. What a joy to visit the Traffic Department here in this small town, compared with the nightmare of a big city.  Only two people in the queue at 11.00 a.m. (cf 60 odd queuing since before sunrise in the city).  What a helpful lady behind the counter (smiles/information/speedy) compared to sullen robot-type employees in the city. What's more she told us that we have no need to change all our other number plates as we are still registered in the same Province! NB. This is not the information we were told in Cape Town. The proof is in the pudding:  after a 10-minute visit I came home, still with a CA licence for my scooter but with our address now changed on the computer for all our other vehicles! Had we been told the correct information before we could have saved the year and a half rental we paid for the Post Box which has actually worked out to cost more than buying new number plates all round.

Friday, 18 September 2015

What, me Sulk? Surely not.

Our espaliered grenadilla on it's new wires

If you have ever tried to move any branches of a grenadilla once they are in position, you will know how brittle they are. They break for anything but the most delicate touch. So you may imagine my misgivings when my husband announced that he was going to run wires across the length of our garden's back wall which would mean cutting out the existing if temporary steel frame that was holding up our six-month old grenadilla. At the same time I was drawn to the whole project - we are going to espalier fruit trees all the way across the back wall (my husband was in the past very impressed with my dad's talents in this direction back home in England).  'Be careful!' I said when he appeared with his angle iron (he would have to cut through a number of half-inch thick rods) to extricate the frame from the plant's many tendrils. I should have saved my breath. As he finished cutting through the last rod, he must have relaxed his concentration a bit because as he stepped back, one of the best branches fell to the ground, (the one you can see hanging droopily to the left of the photo).  Dumbstruck, I had picked it up and hoping against hope, stuck it into the ground, while glaring at my husband. Foolishly, I then berated his carelessness out loud. I should have known better.  My ensuing silence was even worse, as I was told I was just like another member of my family, known to sulk for days, not speaking to his wife. This was too much: actually, I was suppressing a tear; ergo I was not sulking, merely in mourning for the lost perfection of my grenadilla. This lasted for about twenty minutes after which my grown-up self reasoned that it was time to forgive, forget and move on.  No, this was definitely not a sulk, it was legitimate grief. 
PS - Such are the Small Matters of which my life now consists in the world of retirement. But perhaps said branch will sprout a new root.

Monday, 14 September 2015

We Created a Whatsapp 'Group' - Big mistake.

Shame, this one made from left-overs
We thought we would be clever when we go on our next trip to the Karoo. Our normal cell phone provider has no reception there so we will buy a SIM card for another company and then notify all our family members of our new number in one quick message so that we can be in contact while we are away.  It will by my sister-in-law's 70th and as all the siblings are scattered around the country, we thought it would be a good idea to have a get-together while most of us can still see to drive. My husband duly created the list. A few days previously I had used his i-phone to take this picture of a little waistcoat I had crocheted with some wool given to me by a niece. I couldn't find her on 'Whatsapp' so I sent the picture instead to my sister-in-law to forward on to said niece.  Unbeknown to me, G, my sister-in-law, was in possession of a new phone and in the process of trying to find her way around it. When she received my photo (and being a Whatsapp Virgin), she thought she would test her skills and forwarded it to what she thought was my phone. Instead it went to our newly created 'Family Group'. To my great embarrassment, my husband began to receive comments on his Chat e.g. "Very pretty", "Thank you for sharing", etc. The worst things were: my daughter-in-law added a photo of her daughter, dressed in the one I had made for her (this of course, also went to everyone) - the point being that the photo I sent was of one I had secretly made for my other granddaughter for her birthday next year!  The other thing that worried me greatly is that one female in our family is an extremely accomplished craftswoman and a great perfectionist - my humble effort with its several design flaws has now been exposed to her discerning eye! (Oh, the humiliation). Still, none of this is as bad as what happened to one friend of mine ~ (and of my age). She had sent an amorous SMS to the new love in her life, but pressed the wrong button and the message went to her daughter, who no doubt rolled her eyes and said "Eeuww, mom!"

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Diaper Cake

Must have been a grateful mom

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking you are admiring a very pretty wedding cake.  Look again (sorry pic is a bit blurry courtesy of my rather cheap mobile phone's camera).  It is in fact, a 'disposable diaper tower',  put together by my daughter as a gift for a mom who has recently had a baby from the other moms at the nursery school.  That looks like a fortune in disposables. I am still uncomfortable after all these years about the wisdom of using disposable diapers regarding pollution of the planet.  When my own children were babies we only had terry-towelling squares which in any case had to be soaked and washed every day. Maybe it is six of one and half a dozen of the other?  At least the artificial diapers have the benefit of being as light as a feather. On the other hand, the towelling ones eventually found their way to my husband's garage. Forty years later he still has a few left.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Mathematical Conumdrum

Hope no mathematician reads this.

My daughter was 33 last Saturday.  My husband remarked that she was now exactly half his age   Obviously, he is 66.  So last year when she was 32 and he was 65 - she was less than half his age. He then pointed out that the older she gets, the closer she will creep up to his age.  e.g. When she is 53,  he will be 86 (God willing) - in other words she will be 61% of his age.  How can that work???? It seems to me therefore that one day she will be the same age as both of us?? He says that will never happen (???) 
There is a reason that I scraped Math with the lowest possible pass mark. Can anyone get their head around this? Can it be represented by an algebraic equation as simple as E = MC squared? (LOL).  I am beginning to think Math is some kind of a con trick.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Easy Photo to put a Caption to..

I don't often post pics of my grandchildren, but this one was irresistible.  September 1st was the first day of spring here and the children all had to wear a spring hat to school.
My two-year-old grandson - totally a boy's boy - looks extremely unimpressed. I can just imagine what was going through his head and what he might have said to his mother.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Don't try this at Home

Yes well, this lady had the right idea

........So I was watching the children jumping on their trampoline and thought I remembered a few moves from my high school days I could show them.  Reassured that I had recently emptied my bladder, I climbed aboard and thought I would begin with a jump to the sitting position, so I launched myself to a decent height, raised my legs to the straight position, horizontal to the ground and then descended.  Ouch!??!!  Somewhat shocked, I realised that on landing my 67 kg weight had caused the springy trampoline to hit the ground underneath, thus dealing me quite a wallop on my bottom, jarring my spine a bit and almost winding me. Too late I remembered that the tramps at school had been chest-height and this children's one was only - about 18" above ground level. More haste, less speed, more brain.  Such are the penalties of wanting to show off.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Possible Backfire of the Stickeez Craze

Nightmare for a mom - 3 stickeez needed
We have three major competing supermarkets in South Africa and marketing campaigns are typically aimed at children. The latest hype has been to earn one Stickee character (dispensed at the till by the cashier in closed packaging) for every roughly $16 dollars of spend. They are about an inch high. Here, that means it is an upmarket deal which is driving mothers and children into a demented frenzy to complete their sets. I am staying with my daughter for three days and accompany her on the school run. I am flabbergasted to witness the pocketfuls of stickeez which are frantically produced to swop in the few moments before the children go into their classrooms. Same in the parking lot, same in the supermarkets. All you hear are shouts of: "Has anyone got Cheesey/Froggie/Cow? al". My daughter is class rep and she confesses that at their last meeting, she was scarcely able to concentrate on her agenda as she spied a mom rifling through her Stikeez, revealing one that my granddaughter coveted. She also caught said potential criminal with a suspiciously increased collection one afternoon after a playdate. A lengthy Interrogation finally prized the info from my 4-yr old angel that she had swopped the adhesive name tags over and effectively stolen her friend's superior collection. The swop was reversed, apologies made and punishment effected. But still. Need I say that grandmothers have been roped in as well.  Yesterday, I heard that this deal ends on the 20th September but a new one will start!  I casually mentioned this to my daughter and daughter-in-law who were engaged in the daily Stickee Swop. I was met with two horrified faces and then one said:  "That's it! I'm never shopping at Pick n Pay again, I'm going back to my old store."