Monday, 26 October 2015

They were here first....

On the way to the veggie patch
Whenever I get cross with our tortoises for doing their best to penetrate the defences around my vegetable seedlings, I remind myself that long before we bought our plot of land and built our house - they were here first.  Indeed, they or their kind have been here since the dinosaurs, haven't they? So I should treat them with deference and preserve a small area of my garden full of their favorite plants (except for my marigolds). This makes for a patch that looks really untidy and neglected but at least it is up a corner and not occupying the entire back yard, unlike my friend's, whose husband is a 'green conservationist'.  Their back yard is simply 'preserved as is': even their pool, which should have been lovely as it is a two-tier affair with a waterfall,  looks unappetisingly green, nay, brown in parts, with a 'raft' of lillies and things in the middle for the frogs. I wouldn't swim there but I don't think they swim.
We found a large, brown mole dead in our pool the other day.  I don't feel so kindly towards him, as he is responsible for the death of a number of our plants. Still, he is quite pretty (when dead) - I can see why moleskin is popular for making wallets and things. We threw him over the wall into the veld, but that wasn't a good idea as we were soon beset by flies. My husband had to go back and bury him. On balance though, I sympathise greatly with the natural world: before 'we' came along, nature was finely balanced, perhaps in quite a harsh way, survival of the fittest and all that, but at least there was enough space and food for everyone. I sometimes wonder about the length of the road we have traveled concerning 'human rights'. It often seems that the criminals have more rights than the law-abiding. One thing for sure: we have done a good job of over-populating the planet.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Avoiding Confrontation

I've always been good at this, whether it's been not telling my parents something awful, not opening potentially unpleasant bills, not arguing with my best friend - you know the sort of thing.  My husband is the opposite, he likes to tackle a problem face to face (if it's a person) and doesn't let grass grow under his feet.  Recently, we made the classic error of buying an elderly second-hand car: it was something my husband has been hoping to find for months - a little 4x4 Pajero to launch his boat.  He found his heart's desire, but it was far away while we were visiting his brother up north, and he didn't get the chance to examine it minutely himself. He decided to buy it after much humming and hawing when we got home. Part of the bargain was that it would come with a Roadworthy Certificate. However, once it arrived, many problems were uncovered which should never have passed the roadworthy test people.  One of these was that two engine mounts were completely broken and also broken were both 'tie-rod ends'. The electric window washers didn't work either. There were other things too.  After a couple of weeks of trying to speak to the slippery dealer, he finally agreed to compensate us with a money amount. It never arrived. Eventually, my husband, exasperated, threatened to report him to the Motor Industry Federation and we found out the name of the local press.  While my husband made this course of action clear on the phone early one morning (minus his hearing aids which caused him to shout), I retreated two rooms away and put on the radio and the TV as loud as I could. Still hearing every word, in desperation I grabbed some paper towel and stuffed it into my ears. This worked.  When I heard him slam down the phone and make his way back to the kitchen, I hurriedly returned the TV and radio volumes to normal and carried on making the breakfast. Guess what he said when he came in...
    "Why is there paper towel in your ears?"  I got a lecture concerning timidity but all was forgotten as next day the money was in the bank. I had hoped that the dealer would now be scrutinised by the MIF, but my husband was chagrined to find that copy of his letter plus photos did not reach the Federation people: 'email undeliverable' for some reason.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Cleaning Windows - and the Effect on A Reluctant Housewife

As we now live in a double storey, free-standing house and I can't clean the upstairs windows outside, at least not without contorting myself from the inside and finding that I should have planned the opening sections for a right hand to curve round instead of a left - I have indulged in the luxury of a 3-monthly paid clean of all the outside windows.  There is only one window cleaner in our small town and he is very busy:  I haven't been able to get him to commit to a regular date, I have to haphazardly text him when I guess he may not be as busy as usual. This means that he arrives all of a sudden and I have to hare around closing the curtains before his 6-man crew swarm about with their ladders and catch us either in the shower, getting dressed or having breakfast. (He usually comes early). Also, being of a suspicious nature, I can hardly believe that they can finish in 10 minutes flat (which they do) and so I am obliged to go around checking their work after they have gone. This is only viable if I have cleaned all the inside windows myself just before they come or at least the day before, otherwise I can't know if the marks I am seeing are on 'my' side or 'theirs'. As you may know, I am possibly the world's worst housewife: I wouldn't normally notice any dirty windows until I actually can't see out, so it it takes a seismic event to make me tackle the whole lot in one day.  Why doesn't my husband do it, I hear you ask?  I guess it has always been my job while he was working (then we lived in a bungalow) and now that he doesn't, I have to confess he does more than his fair share of the jobs around the house. The dishwasher does the rest. I have perfected my method though: it involves a squidgee, dishwashing liquid, a very wide rubber scraper, a razor blade and a large pile of hand towels.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Sell-By Dates

Google images

So there I was, at my computer, half-dressed, waiting for the dye to take on my remaining pubic hair.  Yes, this is one of those candid posts 'For Your Eyes Only', dear reader. This activity - along with dying my hair (on head), shaving legs and putting rollers in my hair (on head) has been conducted in the privacy of my own home all the years of my marriage: easy enough while my husband was at work, very difficult now that he is underfoot all day.  This morning though, he was up early and rushed down to his garage from whence it is safe to say he will only emerge at lunchtime, unless he needs emergency surgery, depending on which power tools he is using. Having waited a decent half an hour, gingerly sitting on my chair amidst a great deal of paper towel, I finally went off to shower and eagerly view the results. Nothing! Nada, no colour change, no concealment of grey, it just hadn't worked. On consulting the label, I did notice that the product (mostly henna and hibiscus but with an alarming list of complicated chemicals) was dated 4th October - but which year?  I think I must have bought the sachet about three years ago, but it was open as I only use a bit at a time.  When was the last time?  Could be 12 months ago?  (Time flies). Chagrined, I got dressed and went to see what hubby was up to.  He was gazing disconsolately at healthy-looking weeds in our driveway which he had sprayed three weeks ago. They are supposed to shrivelled up after 14 days. You've guessed it - last year's opened bottle. Useless. Lost it's 'oomph'.  Sometimes it's nice to have something in common to share with your man, although I didn't tell him why I was sympathetic.

Monday, 12 October 2015

I Reveal my Bad Side

Google image

On our return home after the 70th birthday, we were accompanied by couple of family members for whom the 600 mile trip for the party was effectively half-way to us, so why not continue on and visit? It made sense as any kind of 1200 mile trip is by car, long, arduous and expensive.  So they came to us for 3 days. This is a desirable length for a visit (they had to get back to their farm anyway) and also because tourist attractions where we live can use up about two days maximum and is two days is also about the limit of my tolerance for the male half of this couple. I hasten to add he is not a bad person, just not my type: I am not interested in cars, guns, hunting or exclusively South African history, or in being constantly lectured on any or all of these topics. There are other reasons but I won't go into them. Let me just say that he let his two mischievous boys swim in our vinyl swimming pool with their newly acquired diving knives: after their departure the pool water sank down a metre, revealing some large slashes in the vinyl. Responsibility was denied. However, this was thirty something years ago so let bygones be bygones.  Since then, this character has become famous largely for his clumsiness (wine glasses always knocked over onto table cloths) and impatience. When time came for them to depart, my husband activated our electric gates so that he could reverse out of our driveway. Inevitably, he didn't notice that the gates hadn't finished opening and reversed out, bumping the gate off its slider, hard enough to dent in his own fender.  Having dashed out to his car and gesticulated wildly to get him to stop (he is now somewhat deaf), I went back into the house and vented my spleen with some choice swear words that I rarely use. Back outside, my husband had managed to get the gate working again and told me there was no real damage.  This is my nasty bit: damaging his fender (never mind our gate) plunged our visitor into lasting gloom and completely spoilt his day, not to mention his enjoyment of his holiday. Good. In mitigation of my evil thoughts, I will say that I felt remorse later on: he is becoming an old man now (72) and his reactions can't be what they used to be.  He does have a reversing camera in his vehicle though.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Very Gentle Alsation

Just like Fred - google image

We are down on the farm again. This time the story is about, Fred, the gentle Alsation who has a fascination for small, baby creatures.  He gets very worried if he finds a stray lamb out of its hock: these are usually young and weak orphans who are being hand-reared. Fred picks them up tenderly (in his view) and returns them to the place of safety. Unfortunately, this does not always end well as he carries them by the head in his large jaws and sometimes their necks don't make it (cf. "Of Mice and Men"}.  Recently, he was found transfixed,  staring at a tiny duckling which lay on its back, webbed feet frantically bicycling in the air, their wings helplessly held down by Fred's large paws.  At one point, Fred was seen to yawn widely, let go of the little creature which flipped over and hopped straight into his mouth - just before it closed. Luckily, children were watching and Fred was persuaded shortly to open his mouth again.  The duckling hopped out and scurried off, completely unharmed. Fred wondered what all the fuss was about. My niece says he has been specially bred to be a mild-mannered family dog. Unfortunately, he welcomes all-comers with great affection. During the night, the garage door into the house having been left open because of a swallows' nest,  Fred took advantage, opened a further three doors and found his way into my bedroom whereupon I was woken at 3.00 a.m. with large, wet dog-kisses up my arm.  We will be home soon....