Saturday, 30 July 2016

Our Need for a Wire Less Intercom at Home

Communication between husband and wife

This topic may not strike any chords with American readers - I understand you have a much better telephone/mobile phone system than we do - meaning, you get a lot of free stuff? I have also heard that our mobile service is about the most expensive in the world, the service providers conniving with each other to keep our rates high.  We do actually have quite an amount of free telephone time over week-ends and evenings which we rarely use, unless to call relatives on birthdays, but we do need communication inside our house. The problem is we only had only one main line installed and use those little portable phones which have a main station and two satellites: we have these in the bedroom, kitchen and our 'hobbies' room.  These rooms are all upstairs and the phones work OK (we built for the view) but naturally, the garage and M's workroom are downstairs and the signal doesn't carry through our concrete ceiling.  I may add that most homes here are built of cement brick and ceilings between floors are a very solid "rib and block" design. So whenever M wants my attention, he has to open the garage door, walk down to the front gate and ring the doorbell.  I thought this works well but apparently he finds it irritating.  I can't see a problem as the only time I ever need to speak to him is to yell, "Dinner's ready!" down the stairs. But he convinced me that we must get a "Wire less Intercom" from and because he said it was a bargain, I agreed, mostly because it is exciting to get a parcel delivered to your door when you order on-line. A back-up argument was to remind me that he might, at any given moment, need emergency medical help (cf.previous posts/power tools). A couple of days after we had placed and confirmed the order, he received an SMS saying did the buyer realise he must have a pair of these for the system to work. I don't know what happened to my husband's brain that day, but we had no choice but to order another one, much to my disgust: very much no longer a bargain.  

Anyway, it duly arrived and is set up. Small disadvantage - not the perfect answer, as I move around upstairs and really should carry it around with me and plug it in wherever I am. Not doing it.  So it stays in the 'hobbies/computer' room where I spend a lot of my time and if I go somewhere else, I just call him up and say things like, "I'm outside hanging the washing for 10 minutes". What I am trying to avoid is him saying things like "How about a cup of coffee?".  Solution: do this with a good grace, reminding myself that I should be grateful that I am stil able-bodied' enough to run up and down stairs and that it is good exercise.  The funny thing is: M feels the need to shout into the machine - so that I hear him well wherever I am, wire less intercom or not.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Thoughts on Clothes - Colours

Dressing for a dreary day

It was my birthday recently and I was given by a close family member, a nice scarf, which unfortunately is 'not my colors'.  One would think that a person you see often would notice what one wears and buy accordingly, although I have never been able to buy any item of clothing for my own daughter, who appears to dislike (on principle) anything that I choose. It would be arbitrarily defined as 'old-fashioned'.  So I don't go there. Actually, I dare not give her anything other than a general mall Gift Voucher, which she declares is the best present ever.  Still.  It's nice to wrap something up. My point is that the person in question favors (in my view) very dowdy and dingy colors viz. either black or grey. She also rarely wears make-up and thus, (also in my biassed view), does not make the most of herself and indeed, appears to be trying to efface herself from the landscape. This, to me, is silly, as she is actually a very attractive young person. Personally, I have a wardrobe fully of vibrant colors - there is nothing like putting on a bright, red item of clothing to cheer up a winter's day or indeed, to cheer oneself up whenever one is feeling a little down.  I like to vary the image: sometimes I feel extrovert and want to be noticed, others I like to look 'soft and feminine - ergo, some pastel pinks or blues - these are more often my summer colors.  When I was once in central London in winter however, I observed that there seemed to be a uniform of unrelieved black - scarf, gloves, overcoat, Cossack hats - as if the whole of London was going to a giant funeral. I get this to an extent: black is a 'power' color. You have to fit the image if you are a working girl/or guy. Remember the time when we all got 'color-coded'?  It was a big deal, here in South Africa - you had swatches of fabric placed next to your face at someone's home and were declared suited either to "summer/winter/fall or spring" colors.  Interestingly, some women already had it right - others had not a clue. Doesn't everyone know what suits them? I'm only talking colors here.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

Google image

The thing is, it is usually the small stuff that is inclined to make us bad-tempered on a daily basis - so why not fix it if you can?  I find that I am quickly put into a "less than polite" mood if I have to fetch a stepladder from a distance of say, 30 yards, when I want to reach up to the top cupboards in my clothes closet.  My husband doesn't have this problem, but I am 5'5", I need a stepladder for many areas in my house. We have a ladder in the kitchen, in my laundry room (so I can reach to set up my retractable clothes line), in the downstairs room so I reach to the top shelves of our bookcase and now I have demanded one for our walk-in clothes closet, as I have been trying, unsuccessfully mostly, to throw things up to the top shelf only to have them fall down on my head. Of course, this all revolves around the debate of what is an 'average' height?  The work surfaces are just a bit too high for me in our kitchen but the builders demanded that they be fixed to a 'standard' height.  This is quite difficult to argue with in our house as my husband does as much cooking as I do. The other thing is that we have designed all our cupboards to reach up to the ceilings as I don't want a gap where things both untidily accumulate and also gather dust. I suppose you can't have it all ways. Maybe I should just have been born a bit taller.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Facing Your Fears

 Sisters - my mom (left) died 8 months later, aged 90

Of course, there are many different types of fears and facing any one of them is easier said than done.  Lately, I have put off contacting my favourite Aunt at her retirement home in England. She would have been 96 last week (but is she still alive and of sound mind?)  I badly wanted to telephone her for her birthday but was afraid of the result. My cousin, her daughter, does not 'do' computers and hasn't answered my snail-mail letters and neither does her husband, e-mails obtain no result.  I see that my last letter to my aunt, last November, was unacknowledged.  Did it get there at all? Our postal system is a disaster.  Finally, last week, my cousin's husband did reply to an Urgent e-mail: yes, she was fine - he was just off to buy her weekly supply of frozen dinners for her carers to prepare. I knew she was in a wheelchair and now had been suffering from Parkinson's.  I plucked up my courage and phoned.  How delighted and relieved I was to hear her voice, sounding almost the same as always, she knew immediately who I was, remembered all about my family, even my grandchildren's names, she joked about her advancing age, not mentioning her ailments or difficulties and we had a marvelous chat until I could hear she was beginning to get tired.  My mother died 8 years ago, and my father 4: I still can't believe they have gone. This aunt, my mother's younger sister, was a huge part of my childhood and I loved her dearly: she was always going out of her way to help others. She is my last tenuous grip on the past. She is the last one left. She has been a widow for about forty years. She told me that for her birthday this year she had lots of beautiful cards and four bouquets of flowers. She received my card, she told me, after only 4 days in the post. She still reads books . I think I will write her more often. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

How to Watch Team Sport with your Husband

Google image

I am not a sports fan, except for Wimbledon tennis which I used to watch with my mother as a teenager, when I deeply admired Chrissie Evert's pretty dresses, nice legs and frilly knickers. I am not so keen any more as the girls are not very feminine and look as if they are beefed up with steroids. These days, I have to pretend to enjoy rugby with my husband as there is usually no-one else for him to watch the games with. Annoyingly, they take place on a Saturday afternoon which used to annoy me more than it does now that we are retired and are hard put to it to keep track of days of the week. Watching a game, to keep my sanity and to feign interest,  goes like this:

Person A:  Hey ref,  you missed that foul.
Person B:  Gosh, look at that man's legs - they are huge.
Person A:  Oh you idiot - that was forward.
Person B:  How come that guy is wearing one pink boot and one yellow one?
Person A:  Come on you guys, pass to the line!
Person B:  I am sure that guy dyes his hair.
Person A:  They should get that guy off the team
Person B:  I can't believe that one's hair is so long - it must get in his way
Person A:  This ref is definitely biassed
Person B:  They should show more of the cheerleaders
Person A:  Oh no, they collapsed the scrum again
Person B:  Which team are we supporting?

And so forth.....
Could you guess which one is me?   If all else fails, I keep my eyes on the timer but 90 minutes is a long time. I do admire the fearlessness and persistence with which the guys crash into each other (they only have gum guards). Some of them are even good-looking apart from their cauliflower ears. Not many are actual eye-candy. That is for swimmers or divers. Now those I can watch.

Monday, 11 July 2016

How To Give up Your Nightly Tipple

Google image

I have absolutely no good advice to give on this topic as we have so far dismally failed in all our attempts to do this.  It just seems that at the end of either a rewarding or equally difficult day - our thoughts turn to a nice glass of wine (me), or a very solid whisky (him). There is nothing quite like sitting down at your computer to write a blog post  - with a nice glass of something at your side.  We have tried various things to restrict ourselves, perhaps just at week-ends, we say,  - but there are always so many good reasons to carry on viz: "I've really worked hard today and achieved a lot - I deserve a drink".  Or: "I can't believe our team lost at rugby today - I need a drink to console myself", or conversely, " Our team won! We must celebrate with a couple of drinks!" Or: "We will start on Monday .....( read also starting any kind or diet). Another reason to continue this habit is that we can still afford to buy the liquor.  However, we are fairly recently retired so things are still good - however, in future the cost factor may be a compelling reason to limit our drinks to week-ends or when we have visitors. My theory is that if we don't have the drink in the house, temptation will be so much less.  If the bottles are standing on the shelf......!   Our biggest enemy in this regard is the discount stores.  Woe betide our resolution if the whisky is advertised at an unbeatable price, my husband just can't resist, reasoning at the time that we must have something in the house to offer visitors. I have even heard myself asking the manager at our favourite store to raise the price to help us to stop buying. No joy.  Why bother you might well ask?  It is not as if we are alcoholics. (At least, I don't think so). We went without any alcohol two years ago for a whole week on a cruise ship from Cape Town to Madagascar, because the Italian company has the audacity to charge for everything on board in dollars (which is extremely expensive for us). We actually didn't miss it, just drank juice and coffee.  Didn't do us any harm at all. Still, at this stage in our lives - maybe we should have a care for our livers. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Weird World of the Subconscious

'Emotion area' overdeveloped in me

You may remember my unfortunate reaction to my husband's 'speech' at the Christmas party last year? Yes, we sorted it out and I am supposed to be over it  (not 100% but most of the time I am).  The male species all just think I was over-reacting and I get that, but I am female after all.  So I decided to ask my brother-in-law's opinion of the story because he has known my husband all his life, at least since he was in short pants. So while we were down on the farm last month,  I got him aside and told him.  As I thought, he dismissed the episode as me having 'nothing to worry about'. However, I was not able to totally prevent a few 'ugly' tears (as Oprah would say.)  Imagine my surprise when we returned home a couple of weeks later and I had a vivid dream (not graphic though) in which I was led off to bed by my brother-in-law. I puzzled a lot over this because I have known him for nearly 40 years and although I am very fond of him, he is very far from the physical type that I would be attracted to so why would I dream this?  I wasn't even much impressed by his advice. My husband then happened to confide that he had a terrible dream in which our dear son-in-law had a mistress (he spends half the week away from home). As far as we know this has no foundation in fact, so I told my husband not to worry and told him (wickedly, hoping to make him jealous), about my own dream. Annoyingly, he had no visible reaction, so I don't know if this barb met it's mark or not. Still, it did remind to keep my own counsel about my own insecurities.  I am currently trying to develop an 'air of mystery and slight reticence' which is quite hard since my husband knows me far too well. As they say - marriage is a work in progress.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Warthog in the House

Introducing Bessie

This year while down on the farm we made the aquaintance of Bessie, a six-month-old warthog.  She was rescued in the veldt as a week-old orphan that just fitted into one's hand. Fed at first on soya milk, she soon thrived and developed a liking for anything that the family ate, especially sweets. The only things she does not like are bananas. As you can see, she has become the family favorite, even ousting the dogs from their favourite seat on the couch.  In the wild, she would be used to curling up with her family in a burrow but as it gets very cold in the Karoo at the moment, she gets spoiled with her own blanket in the lounge. She has not developed tusks yet, but is very loving and adores my nephew; she sleeps in his room and showers with him. Everyone ignores veiled hints at how nice she would taste on the Bar-B-Q at Christmas and indeed (despite appearances), she is actually quite appealing with long eye-lashes and tiny high heels, like a Barbie doll. 
As with most farm pets, the dogs, cats and now - warthog, all play nicely together. Wonder what they will have next year?

Friday, 1 July 2016

Back after a Break...

Sunset viewed from our balcony

Hi Everyone, I see I am not the only one who has been on a Blog Break recently.  Well, we are home now after three weeks away. The cupboards on the farm are finished and our car has finally been returned to us after 10 weeks in the shop. The ultimate insult was that although they returned the vehicle to us with a full tank of gas, the driver got lost on the way from Cape Town (I think he went visit all his relatives in the back woods) and he took 3 hours to do a 1 hour trip. We immediately took steps to trade in our (beloved Mercedes) for a new Rav 4 (as pensioners, we can no longer afford the enormous bills that can result from owning a Merc. when the service plan has run out) and are still awaiting confirmation of the bank transfer before we can collect it. Otherwise, I want you to look at this pic of an amazing sunset viewed from our balcony.  Sometimes your own problems diminish a lot in the awe of a natural phenomenon like a sunset. More anon...