Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Thoughtless Remark at the Office Party

Google image

My husband was very pleased that his ex-work invited him (and me) to their Christmas party, a full 12 months after he left last year.  Although, he has not missed the work itself, being very happy and occupied with all his projects at home, he has missed the people, some of whom have worked for him for twenty years or more.  HIs right-hand lady of about 12 years - sort of Secretary/Customer Liaison/PA, is a super capable, attractive person, aged now about 41, happily married with two young teenagers.  They all worked a 12-hour day, and in the trucking industry, these days were often fraught and difficult. I suggested that we sleep over at the venue so that he could enjoy a few drinks. My mistake. Although he never became 'ugly' drunk at all, he did become very relaxed, beaming and hugging everyone and generally being the centre of attraction.  I did cringe a few times when he did/said things which are uncharacteristic.  e.g. telling one young mechanic (while sitting next to the new boss - his II -i -C of many years): "The worst day of your life was when I retired" (implication?  - 'your new boss will not be as good as I was'). The bad thing though happened at the end of the evening:  I was sitting quite far away as everyone went up to him to bid him goodbye. When the PA lady's turn came, he put his arm round her shoulders and announced for all the world to hear: "M has been a big part of my life for a long time. If I ever had an affair, it would have been with M!" Then he slid his hand down her body and squeezed her behind.  I sat, frozen, embarassed and devastated. In one fell blow, I felt all my love and devotion over 39 years had  been an illusion. For the longest time he had been lusting after his secretary !!!!!!  Needless to say, I was totally miserable for the rest of the night.  It wasn't much use berating him as we went to bed, he wasn't listening properly and couldn't understand what the fuss was about.  I spent a sleepless night on the couch.  The next morning I tried to explain what had upset me, but guess what - he couldn't remember a thing, had no idea what I was talking about.  Do you know how frustrating that was?  Actually, he looked so puzzled and shocked, I wanted to laugh, as cross as I was. Very chagrined, he immediately took up my suggestion and telephone M (and several other people) to apologise because his wife said he had made an ass of himself, although he didn't know what he had said to offend.  Most of them were still half asleep as this was only 8 am.
Of course, no-one but myself had taken any offence.  I just hope that M had been suitably repulsed by the very suggestion that an old, overweight man like my husband should think of her in that way. I am very fond of her but I am now so sad to think that she has indeed been a bigger part of his life than I have for so many years. I guess that's the way it is in the world of work. Certainly, on a daily basis she spent a lot more hours with him than I did.  (I'm not counting sleep).

I just wanted some verbal reassurance, which he tried to give, but my husband is in any case a man of few words, they come very hard to him - unless he is one-over-the-eight.  Ironically, in the past, I enjoyed these occasions because then he would declare to the whole world how much he loved me.  How could his brain now be so disconnected from his mouth?  How could he not think that these remarks would hurt?  He has forgotten about the whole thing but It seethes in my mind and I struggle to be normal and nice to him at the moment. This woman is 25 years his junior and I am 65. I don't know how I can gloss over it. Blogging helps.  Another thing has helped this week:  hubby experienced a painful rectal tear one morning after a visit to the bathroom.  He had to hobble around as it was the Sunday after Christmas, saw the doc on Monday and is still hobbling. He can't believe what has happened to him.

Maybe it's the razor blades I fed him.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Nature has the Last Laugh...but not the Last Word


We are progressing quite well with setting up our vegetable beds along the back wall of our yard; these have been chosen for optimum conditions for the growing of seeds, facing the sun, irrigated, sheltered from the wind etc etc with the addition of large amounts of compost.  However, while we have been keeping anxious watch for the appearance of our spoilt babies, nature has been at work in the front garden amongst my prolific petunias.  We were chagrined to find one morning that some of our new seeds had indeed emerged during the night, only to be immediately bitten off by a marauding caterpillar. However, when I went around to the front, I suddenly espied, sheltered amongst my flowers, two pepper bushes about a foot high, and what are either pumpkin, melon or courgettes busily twining themselves all over the back of the bed. 
Two pepper bushes
Doubtless these seeds had been in our home-made compost and we had started this bed before the others at the back. I have learnt one thing though: tiny seedlings need to be sheltered from full sun and hidden from predators in their early days.
Flowers are not supposed to support hidden veg
I was going to call this post: "Nature Knows Best", but I have my quibbles with Nature in that department as in her view, once anything female is past it's sell-by-date (i.e. menopause), meaning no more fertile eggs, then there is no point in said females remaining sexually attractive for their mates. I shall continue to fight the good fight on this front.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Another style of House

It's tin roof and color remind me of our old mining towns, the small pool is surprisingly  cold (evaporation)

I have another sister-in-law, who is very talented, paints beautiful pictures, does stained glass, delicate patchwork, sequin-embroidered clothing etc. etc.  In her spare time, she goes hunting either with her rifle or her camera, and has a trophy for Best Lady Hunter of the year for their district.
My husband sits in the bright kitchen area - you can see the roof
Privately, I think this is an interest she has developed in order to share an activity with her husband for I don't believe that in her heart she really likes shooting the animals but she does love hunting on her own, crawling through the bush, encountering snakes, imitating buffalo snorts, gathering tics inside her clothes, taking photos of butterflies and so on. A complicated character: she has confessed she prefers animals to people; her house has two bedrooms. 
One of the coffee tables - no room for coffee
When they retired to this very northern, very hot, small town, the design of the house was hers.  Hence it has an unusual cathedral ceiling-type feel to it as you walk in the door and behold a vista which takes your eye straight up to the domed roof over the lounge, with only the small mezzanine (her work area) as a token upstairs. Houses in South Africa are almost all built of brick. The rest of the house is ground floor and bears testament to M's talents and preferences in every area.  She loves tiny things and every available surface with the exception of the kitchen area but  especially small tables and window ledges, is crowded with stuff she has collected and loves. With her permission, I took a few photographs of her home as they are so far away, we rarely get the chance to visit.
M's workroom - the mezzanine area
Almost all the pictures have been framed by her (equally talented) daughter.

Friday, 18 December 2015

A Way of Life/Farming in the Karoo

My husband and brother-in-law in front of the lounge
Actually, I just thought you might like to see a couple of photos of my nephew's farm house.  Probably 200 years old with very thick walls. As these homes stand alone, it is very deceiving how big they are inside.  One can easily sleep a whole family with double beds and singles in all the 5 bedrooms.  This house belonged to the 'old people', my nephew's grandparents: I think they started the farm. My sister-in-law and her young husband (she was 19 and he 21), built a small more modern dwelling for themselves when they got married, about 1/2 mile away, the old people retired and moved into the village and their old house gradually went into a state of decay and was used for storage.
The previous front of the house

When this latest generation married, their father was still farming so the old house was renovated for them. Now after 50 years of marriage, my sister-in-law has been asked to swop homes with them because all the main farming buildings are more conveniently situated near to the 'new' house.
Relaxing under the wisteria on a hot day
Also, at 72, her husband is starting to take a back seat in the daily running of the farm although he is still very much involved on the admin side. She is rather sorry about this move - people come from all local Garden clubs to see the garden she has established, but she is philosophical about the change and tries to see it as a new challenge. One thing she is having done is revive what I always thought of as the back of the house.
Local builders work on Sunday and camp on the farm
To my amazement I have never realised in over 35 years of visits that we always went in at the 'back door' on the other side.  Everyone did. In fact there was no road in the 'front'.  As you can see, the steps are being retiled and a bar-B-Q area has been built on the corner.  It will be restored to its former glory once the ground road has again been graded and cleared of bush.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Galvanized into Action

George's yacht

There is nothing like expecting a possibly imminent visit from a new-found family member to make me clean and tidy my house. OK, my mother would probably say at most I gave it a 'lick and a promise' but hey, it's a big house and I did the downstairs last month and anyway they won't go into the bedrooms. It happened this way - and isn't it a small world?  We were doing our daily walk and this time wandered down to the yacht club where we are members, to have a coffee before facing the uphill walk home. Actually, they have changed the security over to a finger-print system and we had to go in and do the dirty. It wasn't as bad as the local Home Affairs office method, where last month I had to subject all my fingers on both hands to the old inky system, after which there was a large bucket of gooey blackish green stuff, shared by all, which is supposed to clean you up afterwards. No, no, the yacht club is quite classy, a nice clean one-digit digital stab on a little window attached to the computer. 
Anyway, the secretary remarked that my husband's name was similar to one of the founder members of the club (circa 1978), and were we perhaps related? We said we didn't know so she suggested we walk down to the marina where his yacht was parked and introduce ourselves. Even with the sails down I could see that this was a big 'boytjie'  (pronounced 'boykee' - i.e. big lad, er, meaning the boat, not the owner).  I began to have regrets: if these people are wealthy, we probably can't afford to be related. As it turned out, the four of us got on well, enjoyed a nice sundowner, compared notes about ancestors and discovered that we are indeed related - about two generations back, namely through a chap called 'George'.  Point to note: no-one asked what anyone did (or had done in our case)  for a living. My husband enjoyed a tour of the mechanical bits and I ate my way (ignobly) through delicious snacks that I couldn't resist.  I had taken the lady of the boat a small spray of roses from my garden though, and hubby took some of our home-made biltong.  Now it's our turn to reciprocate. They have sailed off somewhere this week (they are on holiday for two months), but coming back soon. 
In the absence of anything much in my garden to put in a vase, I have been inspired to use a bunch of parsley (which has grown like mad) and the other small spray of roses from my one bush. I quite like the effect.  Meanwhile, I am greatly enjoying my unusually clean house. In case you are interested, the books (apart from the obvious) are: Guide to South African Birds, Salt Water Fishing and The Diet Revolution (Banting).

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Blanket Opinion

Clearly a Scottish dog (Google)
It wasn't quite a blanket opinion at our Book Club meeting, although most members admired my effort with gratifying compliments.  However, on arrival, I had folded it up and placed it in the basket in which all the wool had been given to me, in order to return the basket.  To my surprise, my best friend, whom I consider to be a person of great intelligence made a mystifying comment:

"Oh, they will love it!"  (They?  The lady in question lives alone)
"Who are 'they'?" I enquired.
"Well, her dogs, of course".   

I was momentarily gobsmacked, not to say insulted.

"It's not for the dogs ", I said, quite crossly.  She, of course, apologised profusely when the full extent of my effort was spread out. 

In mitigation of her unwitting offence, I remembered the important place my friend's own dog occupies in her house. In her defence, it is actually her husband who is besotted with him: I counted at least 15 balls scattered around their yard the last time I visited. He is a labrador rescue dog, quite adorable but very spoilt.  The husband in question even writes a blog about the dog's life with the dog as the narrator.  I understand there is an enthusiastic following for this blog. So it wasn't very surprising after all, that my friend assumed my gift was for the lady's dogs.  QED. I therefore can forgive her.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Farm kids

There is a world of difference between farm and city kids - or maybe not so much.  The main thing is that farm kids can be told to play outside and not come back 'til meal times. City kids have security issues. When it comes to entertaining themselves in the garden though, we saw 7 little girls on our nephew's farm, (a mixture of farm and city children) building themselves this tent in the school holidays. Much giggling emerged at times, but it kept them quiet for most of the day. No boys or small children allowed, of course. Dogs sometimes gained admittance, although they must have been very squashed. The grass here is totally brown in winter but recovers to a lush green in the summer months.

Friday, 4 December 2015


Memory blanket

Insofar anything in life is really ever finished, I have spent the last four weeks frantically knitting/crocheting a 'memory' blanket for the nice lady who gave me that fantastic gift of a whole load of unfinished sweaters and odd balls of wool. I thought, as she is such a colorful character herself, that she might appreciate as a thank-you gift, a sort of very very long shawl with the dual purpose of reminding her of her unfinished projects as well as being a very decent warmer during our winter months when, as sure as eggs is eggs, we will experience more power cuts during which times we are begged to save electricity.  I have used every color she gave me and included at least one square of the pattern and yarn of each of the sweaters: I still have plenty of wool to finish all of them. It took two afternoons to sew in all the ends but I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.
So nice to be retired and able to finish in time for our Book Club Christmas party next Tuesday.  I'll try to remember to take a photo to post of the occasion. We are a great bunch of gals. Although we are all now over sixty, I have to mention that I am one of only 3 of 12 who is not still working in a full-time job. I am so grateful for this as there is still so much to do and I hope, new parts of myself to explore and develop. I am hoping to become a better person in the next few years, you know, less selfish, more tolerant, more patient, wiser, kinder, more worldly, less parochial, more practical, more philosophical, more thoughtful, able to think more laterally, able to contribute a bit, more.... the list goes on.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Just the Job

I don't want you to think I brag about my husband when I describe things that he does, but as I spend a portion of every day checking on him (to prevent injury) when he is in his garage, I necessarily notice what he is up to.  Also, everything he does, he thinks is so elementary that anyone with 'a bit of common sense' could do the same and he is not in the least big-headed about his skills. (Pig-headed, yes, on many occasions, but then so am I). Also, my life is not very exciting at the moment. The other day, he was working on something and to his exasperation the bridge of his spectacles broke, rendering his eyes totally useless for all but long-distance. He telephoned his optician who spent such a long time tracking down a replacement part, that he couldn't wait and so fixed them himself for the time being.  Copper wire and stainless steel.  He did gloat a bit when informing me that it had indeed been worthwhile saving the copper from those armatures (he has several thicknesses) all those years ago; he knew they would come in useful one day. The day finally came. Fortunately, he has lately cleaned up his garage a lot and re-organised a lot of small stuff: hence, he was able to lay hands on this wire quite quickly. He does so remind me of my father, although when his glasses broke in later years, he was so blind, they were usually fixed with sticky tape, much to my mother's embarrassment.