Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Porcupine has the Last Laugh

Google image

Very proud of his new acquisition, my husband was anxious to protect the spare wheel from the sun, so we went off to order a spare wheel cover.  It is much cheaper to get one with a logo on it (although my husband usually refuses to advertise for free)  - but money talks.  How we grinned when we found that the one that would come with a wheel of our specifications sported a picture of a porcupine! Incidentally, ours has not so far come back and so the trap has gone back to the farm and our front gate is welded up with aluminium strips to deter all unwelcome animal visitors.  Bother, copyright won't let me post the photo. Please Google at If not, I'll post my own pic when we collect it in two weeks' time.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Is it Me?

Sometimes one has to wonder whether there is something wrong with one's own brain - or is it the other person?
I telephoned the doctor's rooms this morning as I wanted an appointment either today or tomorrow. The conversation went like this:

Secretary:  "Doctor is not here today but she will be here tomorrow until 1.00 pm.

Me:       "Oh good, so can I make an appointment for the morning then?"

Sec:      "No, we can't take appointments today for tomorrow".

Me:       "OK, so it's first come, first served? That's fine, I'll come early"

Sec:       "No, you can't do that. You can phone at 8.00am to make an appointment".

Me:        (????)

What do you think I should do?

Sunday, 21 February 2016

You Can't Shock the Internet

Google image

You won't believe what I have spent my Sunday afternoon doing! All guesses incorrect. I have been cleaning beneath my toilet seats. Needless to say, as I am expecting VIP visitors next week, I have been obliged to clean my house and while doing a bit each day for the last week, I remembered that my sister-in-law once confided to me that wherever she visits, she lifts the seat to see if the underside has been cleaned. I may just add that she is one of those anal people who won't sit on a public toilet, no matter how immaculate the location. She squats in mid-air (you can only admire her muscle tone). As she would form part of the family grape-vine, I decided to check mine out. Horrors! Yellow stains under all four toilet seats. That is not the shocking part. This is:  For 38 years  (the length of my marriage) I thought the seats turned yellow with age. In my defence, I have tried to clean these areas with various kinds of bleach: to no effect. Thank God for Google!  I discovered that many people confess to the same problem but unlike me, acknowledge that these are urine stains. I hide my head in shame. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel - it was commonly agreed that a paste of Bicarbonate of Soda (that magic stuff) and vinegar (another amazing cleaner) would do the trick.  One respondent did mention the addition of elbow grease and a scourer.  This advice nearly resulted in my reaching for my asthma pump, but did achieve the desired result.  I can now almost brag about the cleanliness of my toilet seats' undersides, except for that little area around the hinge.  When I announced my intention to my husband yesterday, he helpfully suggested that he remove the seats in the interests of thorough cleaning, but I refused, envisioning extra work for myself.  However, I haven't been able to do the hinges properly.  I know my husband:  when I show him my good work, he will have a look, remove the seats and finish the job himself.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Fate was Favourable this time

Mom's necklace

You may remember the last disaster of our long-distance purchase of a small Pajero? Well, we finally sold it (at a big loss, having fixed all it's problems) two weeks ago, and my husband has been moping around ever since, suffering both buyer's/seller's remorse, and wishing he could have another vehicle post haste, preferably of an affordable price and with a tow-bar. It transpired last month that I took my mother's pearl necklace in to have it repaired, it having broken after being tugged on around my neck once too often by a grandchild.  Being genuine pearls, it just broke in one place as there are individual knots between each pearl; a painstaking business, I imagine, but 70 years ago when it was first strung, there was still pride and professionalism in the workplace. When I went to collect it, typically of my timid self, I thought it looked a bit short and said nothing, but when I got home and put it on, it nearly choked me - at least an inch shorter than it had been. Steeling myself to complain, I phoned immediately (I was actually a bit cross), and was surprised that the jeweller was most apologetic: he had been obliged to contract some work out lately, he said, as they had been so busy.  I was told that the incorrect silk had been used (I think no knots), and that I should bring it back and he would re-string it himself.  So back we went the next day, and as luck would have it, as we drove through the main street of the neighboring town, my husband's eagle eye spotted his dream car at a "Park and Sell" plot next to the road, unbelievably, at a price we could afford. 
To cut a long story short, negotiations were made, a test drive up the street, and the deal is done, pending new tyres, a new windscreen, spare key/remote found, admin and roadworthy test accomplished. My husband is finally a happy man: for the moment. I wonder when my necklace will be ready? We fetch the car tomorrow.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Matters of Manners

You know how annoying it is when you run for the lift (elevator), there are people inside but they pretend not to see you and the lift door closes?  Of course, we have all been both the unseeing person inside and also the one hoping the door won't close, on the outside, looking in. Sometimes I feel benevolent, when inside, and charitably, feeling very virtuous and well-mannered, I push the button and wait. Last week, we were on the outside, just in time to see the people inside looking guilty and apologetic. Had they tried to keep the doors open?  Luckily, the adjacent lift arrived immediately and both lifts arrived upstairs within seconds of each other. To my surprise, the ladies in the other one approached us and apologized profusely for not getting the door to stay open. How rude we must have thought them, they said!  How odd for them to worry what we thought, we thought. You still get nice people.  On a slightly related topic: our vegetables have been ransacked by a porcupine who managed to get under our motor gate, ate all my beautiful melons, beetroot, peppers, dug up my spinach and ate the roots and generally trampled my garden.
Melon showing teeth & claw marks

The following night, while we were shell-shocked, he returned and finished the rest. 
This was my young avocado tree
Our sympathetic retired-farmer neighbors dispensed advice regarding bait (I had a few carrots and one potato), and lent us their porcupine trap which, as you can see, is quite impressive and saved my husband the job of building one.
Porcupine trap
We've had it up for three nights with no luck: clearly the porcupine is not stupid and also smells that there is as yet nothing more for him to eat.  Meanwhile, I have discovered about 6 more beautiful melons ripening at their peril. We have bought aluminium strips with which to block off the motor gate but hubby refuses to fix them at this stage: he feels he must give the trap a week in order to be politely grateful for the neighbor's efforts. They had made a special trip back to the farm in order to fetch the trap on their pick-up. I just know that someone in this house will be extremely unpopular if I find my other melons eaten before the week is up. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

At War with a Tortoise

One of our legitimate residents
Arrival of new front door

We noticed a fourth tortoise in our yard a few weeks ago.  He is caramel-colored whereas our residents are much darker. We also noticed that the interloper has chased the more timid others away and now walks around as if he owns the place. I keep finding him in my vegetables. How he climbs over the obstacles to get there I don't know, except I looked him up on the Internet, identified his species and noted that they are described as 'good climbers'. (Who would have thought?)  Anyway, when I found my prize melon chewed all over even though it is far from ripe, I really got cross, lost it, picked him up and threw him over the wall into the veldt.  Blow me - next day he was back (they crawl under our motor gate).  Again, I threw him over the wall, as far as I could though a twinge of conscience wouldn't let me go the whole hog and throw so that he would land on his back. Needless to say, the next day he was back, hiding under a deck chair in our pool area, staring at the guys who were installing our new glass front door. 
Nasty, sneaky, climbing Interloper
Typically, the whole area was full of tortoise pooh as he had once again, fallen down the step and couldn't get out. Now I was beside myself: this was war.  In the end, my husband asked these guys if they would load him up on their pick-up-truck and deposit him somewhere on the road on their way back to their depot - about 15 miles.  They said they would but in fact left him on the Golf Estate, the other side of town - about 5 miles away where they went to another job.  I am not convinced he won't return, except that he might think he is now in heaven as the estate is lush and green whereas the surrounding countryside is now in a state of drought. We wait and see.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Entering Zen Mode

Alleviating boredom?  (Google image)

I find many chores so supremely boring and repetitive that I do my level best to avoid them as far as possible but keeping within the bounds of respectability and general hygiene. We sold a few items of furniture to our local second-hand shop this week - it's nice to de-clutter - but the result was that my husband tut-tutted about the amount of dust that was discovered behind/under the afore-mentioned (heavy) pieces and immediately got into cleaning mode, happily scrubbing/vacuuming everything in sight, before dashing off to wash the car and thereafter to his latest garage project. I am getting the uncomfortable feeling that the balance of doing the 'jobs' in this house is leaning perilously towards his side of the the fence and that I ought to pull my socks up before he realises this. He has been doing all the mowing as well, as I have been in a sulk since I discovered that our new electric lawn-mower does not drive itself, you actually have to push it. I liked our old petrol mower with it's sturdy Honda motor, I could even start it myself with the string, but the strings kept breaking so we got this other one: note that my husband can't bear to part with the old one and it takes up a large amount of space in our shed. Still at 35 years old it deserves to go on pension as long as it keeps it's place in our hearts. Also, I used to mow acres of lawn at my parents' home in England when I went over every in the summer months, but the grass was soft and green and you had to run behind the state-on-the-art mower to keep up with it. That was lawn-mowing bliss and I got spoilt. Now I have to cope with miles of electric wire so that the machine can reach our pavement where we have a pocket handkerchief-sized piece of grass which I felt I should in all fairness be able to manage. The off-putting part is that I have to unwind/windup about 12 metres of extension cord and same of the machine's own electric cord.  I have so little patience for this that I consciously have to calm my mind by counting the coils until it's done. The compensations are that my conscience nags me less and the pavement grass really looks good. For now. In a civilized world I suppose the local council is supposed to see to the pavement?