Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Make a Wish

For silly season, I took a little break. In a way, it was a bit of a silly break, but I wasn’t to know that the weather would consist of pea-soup fog and drizzle so that plans for walks, drives, and photo’s of fabulous vistas failed to materialize.

No harm done. I relaxed and did nothing much, and it was probably just what I needed. The only problem with that, is that instead of visiting the wide open spaces, I now have them between my ears so that it’s a wonder my head doesn’t implode.

I close my eye for inspiration: and voila – all I can see is blackness. Nothing there at all, which is odd because I’ve read any number of books, mostly non-fiction, and my head should be bursting with ideas. Maybe I read too much, and all the words have congealed into an amorphous mass, much like the fog.

When the details finally return to my consciousness, they will probably be all mixed up, and I’ll be thinking that America’s founding fathers traveled from Cape to Cairo using public transport… In fact, yes, I’m sure I read that somewhere. What a wonderful world.

Tonight, there will be carousing and.. er… camping – at least the clouds are closer to mountain top level than ground level today. With luck, it will wake me up a bit and I’ll be back on form again.

I haven’t got any New Year’s resolutions, but I’m wishing for a good 2011 – as good as I can make it. I’ll wish you the same. It's the best wish I can think of.

Today's pic: the sort of weather we didn't have.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Suicide by Faith

In South Africa, one of the largest tribes is the Xhosa – an offshoot of the Zulu tribe – or rather, a group that was expelled for following the wrong side during a succession war.

They could have been bumped off, and they knew it, so they put distance between themselves and their erstwhile brothers, traveling down the East Coast and eventually becoming the first black tribe (lucky them) to encounter the whites, who were putting distance between themselves and the British by moving up the East coast.

To say that the relationship was rocky, especially after the British annexed the territory, and began to colonize it, would be an understatement. Little or no love was lost between them.

One day, so the story goes, a young girl whose name I forget (it’s now extinct, and small wonder) had a vision of the ancestors while fetching water at a nearby pool. She immediately went to her uncle, who was the medicine man of her particular clan.

Whether she was put up to it by the uncle (who stood to gain great power through such a vision) or whether she really did go to him with that claim, I cannot say, although I have my suspicions.

At all events, the message from the ancestors was this: ‘Destroy your crops and cattle – every last one of them, and the ancestors will rise up from the sea and throw the white sea scum into the ocean from whence they came.

By the way, the racist term for a white person in South Africa remains ‘Umlungu’ which, I am told refers to the scum found on the beach after a storm. This is a bit bullshitty since history says that white and black arrived in SA pretty simultaneously – the only difference being the mode of transport… but I digress. Back to geno-suicide we go.

The Uncle proceeded to spread the young girl’s tale abroad, possibly producing her for occasional ‘proof’. Don’t laugh, European history is full of the same sort of nonsense – Joan of Arc is just one example.

So the great cattle killing began. For a time, there was great feasting and much meat, but certain clans refused to destroy their means of livelihood. This resulted in divisions and occasional skirmishes, but at last the appointed day arrived and a great crowd gathered at the ‘hole in the wall’ a famous landmark where, it was said, the ancestors would first emerge from the ocean amid the thundering of waves etc.

Uncle what’s his name put up a fine performance, but no ancestors rose from the deep. It was decided that the reason for this was the dissenters – those who had refused to destroy their cattle – and there was much bitterness.

This didn’t help to fill any tummies, as you can imagine, and the faithful died in their thousands. Many of them survived because of the intervention of white missionaries: a bitter pill to swallow – but thousands and thousands died of starvation. The nation all but wiped itself out.

Ironically, the girl who had the vision in the first place, survived. Until her death, she still vouched for the truth of her story, and one of the great conspiracy theories was that the whole thing had been engineered by the then British governor – Napier, I think it was, although I’m a bit shaky when it comes to British governors.

I think it unlikely. Faith has killed thousands before, and it will doubtless do so again.

And that is probably the moral of the story. Beware of Faith, she can be ever such a bitch.

Today's pic: some sea scum. PS: if you don't believe me, google 'Great cattle killing'. I didn't, so there might be some minor omissions and inaccuracies.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

About revenge

When I was about nineteen, I took proper revenge on someone for the first and only time in my life.

I’m not talking about something small like pushing a prefect into a pot plant because he was bullying me (why, oh why did I pause to admire the effect?) I’m talking about something that had serious repercussions for someone else – serious from their perspective at any rate.

The fact that they did something that affected me in the long term doesn’t matter in this case: it’s an excuse, no more. Let me explain:

When I was young and foolish (you can tell I was young and foolish because I actually got busted), I was arrested for possession of marijuana. I was at home at the time, engaged in nursing my ailing grandmother who’d had a stroke.

To say that I was surprised to see the narcotics squad, is putting it lightly: I was relatively low-profile. I didn’t get out much, but there they were, and how they came by my address, I would very much have liked to know. I did know, and this is how:

A certain couple of my acquaintance, the female half of which had taken me in considerable dislike some months earlier because I refused to dislike someone she disliked, approached a friend (who happened to be with me) for a little bit of the weed. They didn’t have any, I did. I gave them some. They thanked my friend because they weren't talking to me. I laughed like anything.

They got busted, they said where they’d got the weed and voila - the cops raided me as a 'dealer' which I definitely wasn't. I had three days in jail without being allowed to phone home (state of emergency, it was legal) the family was going spare because they thought I'd been kidnapped, and I got a criminal record to lug through life with me. All this at the supposedly tender age of nineteen.

So what did I do? I told everyone my suspicions of course! It emerged that the couple had told all their friends that they had given their names to the police. They never told me. That's because I wasn't a friend of theirs and besides, they weren't talking to me.

People liked me. They were upset about what had happened. So was I. Folks put two and two together and shared my suspicion. The couple were duly shunned. She came and cried at me.

I didn’t exactly feel bad, but I didn’t feel all that good either, so nowadays, I don’t do revenge. Might be a different story if I could get hold of a flame-thrower, though.

Today's pic: me in my teens - very eighties, hey?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Calculating cats

I used to have no cats and my life was my own. I was In Charge. Ah, the mastery of those bygone days when no-one slept on top of me unless I asked them to.

Then my mum departed this mortal coil leaving me in possession, or rather, possessed by the following:

There is a rather striking and demanding Tom. ‘Attention please’ is a phrase that he communicates quite easily and occasionally with claws. One respects him: he is large and aristocratic-looking and has yellow eyes.

In addition, there was a pair of luminous green eyes that lived under the bed. They lurked. They blinked. Later, the pair of eyes grew some whisker, or seemed to as their owner got nearer to the edge of the bed.

The metamorphosis was a slow one, but in time, the pair of eyes under the bed has become an entire cat (though a very tiny, slightly tatty, very old one), and of late, a cat all over the house

Now she's a cat on my computer. I came in off the veranda this evening, it being cold (16 centigrade - eat your hearts out Northeners) and found that the cat had been interrogating my computer.

She was right in the systems menus, and browsing away through some directory I didn’t even know was there. She had also typed a word document. It was in code. I’m not sure if she managed to email it to anyone. She probably knows how to cover her tracks, she’s forever doing that after using the cat litter. Nefarious, I tell you!

Anyway, Ms Shy and Retiring is currently saying ‘Yeeow!’ in her cracked, old-cat voice, so someone had better attend to her.

I shall have to watch that cat.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day of the Whatsit

So today’s a public holiday, or supposed to be, and it’s a holiday with an interesting history.

When I was a child, we called it 'Dingaan’s Day' – 'Dingdong’s Day' to the irreverent. It commemorated the Battle of Blood River, which consisted of the impis (Zulu warriors) storming down on the lager (circle of wagons, not beer) of the trekkers (like American pioneers, only more Dutch-ish) and getting shot.

The Zulu warriors were told by their sangomas (like shamans, only Zulu) that they would be bullet proof, but it didn’t work, and the bullets got them anyway.

Their faith probably wasn’t strong enough – not even approaching mustard seed size, which allows for geographical alterations to the location of mountains (as we all know). Relocating bullets must be simple by comparison.

Suffice to say, they didn’t get it right, or they redirected the bullets in the wrong direction and the river ran red with blood (hence ‘Battle of Blood River’).

Anyway, it used to be a huge shindig in South Africa in the old days, and involved various expressions and celebrations of white supremacy like parades, barbeques and langarm dancing. For me, it was just a day off school.

At some point, it was decided to change the name to ‘Day of the Vow’ since the Voortrekkers had sworn to God that if they won the battle, they would forever commemorate the day. It must be handy to have God on one’s side, although accounts of the battle fail to mention the deployment of thunderbolts.

The name change didn’t alter the nature of the celebrations one bit, but it did sound a bit more polite, although only marginally so.

Then we had a bit of liberation, and Afrikaaner nationalists (something like rednecks) were in a state of near revolt (as opposed to being revolting, although in some cases it’s a near thing) because they thought Nelson Mandela would take away their ‘religious holiday’.

Either Nelson, being Xhosa, wasn’t too fussed about a holiday commemorating a massacre of Zulus, or else he was just being magnanimous, or both, but the name got changed to ‘Day of Reconciliation’.

This is a bit of a wheeze, because reconciliation is fairly new and hasn’t anything to do with the 16th of December. Quite the contrary, except in that Mandela reconciled himself to keeping it as a holiday and the nationalists reconciled themselves to yet another name change.

So that’s today. I’m working. I am reconciled to it. Today's pic: something black and white.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I learn a new word!

I'm still a bit stoned after what happened today, but perhaps I should warn anyone who is... um... extremely sensitive to avoid this post. Is there anyone like that? Thought not. Off you go...

I joined the shuffling, seated queue that zigzags along at a less-than-snails-pace in the hospital outpatients hall. There I met the same unrufflable pink-clad pillar-to poster I encountered on Wednesday.

Every now and then she pops out of her office and interrogates the queue. People scatter in her wake. Admirable lady- stops you from waiting in the wrong place for too long.

She helped me herself and vanished into the endless rows of files in search of mine. She was gone so long that I thought the archive might really be endless, and that she was retrieving my file from Antarctica, but then she reappeared and made me a new file because she couldn’t find the old one.

The doctor didn’t fancy my new file, because it didn’t have my test results in it, so he settled me down to wait, possibly, I thought, till kingdom come, but before the kingdom could come, or even get a bit worked up, I got called in.

‘I’m going in, chaps’ I thought, momentarily becoming a fighter pilot zooming intrepidly into the unknown, but then I thought that perhaps this might be the doctor’s line, and I shouldn’t steal his thunder.

I eventually persuaded him that two doctors had told me I needed the biopsy and he was going to do it, so he did. They just give you a local for this one, and my! It’s a bit close to home, if you know what I mean. Not as sore as you’d think, though.

Next time, I’m going to tell the darned doctor I don’t WANT to know what he’s doing, really I will. I don’t. He must just get on with it and warn me if its going to hurt. He can tell me afterwards.

While the doctor rummaged about, I occupied myself by trying to say ‘Colposcopy’ which is something I have to make an appointment for. It’s a very difficult word. I asked the doc if ‘Compostomy’ would work, because I know about compost and maybe if I say it really fast, no one will notice, but he insisted that I get it right.

In the end, he hoiked out a thing that looked like a pink walnut, as happy as Tom Thumb in the nursery rhyme when he pulled out the plumb and said 'What a good boy am I'.

Which is more-or-less what he said, although not in those exact words. I suspect that medically speaking he’d achieved no mean feat and was rather pleased with himself. I was happy for him.

Then my leg began to twitch like a dog’s does when you scratch its tummy, and the doc said he’d cauterize that which I really didn’t want to know about so I closed my eyes tight and didn’t get a dekko at the flame thrower or whatever it was he next attacked me with.

I did feel a bit upset once I was on my own again, but all in all it wasn’t too terrible. I’m glad its over, that’s sure.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the hospital, and that you will understand why there are no pictures with this post.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An excuse to post some nice pictures

So these city slickers came to visit. Well, I wasn’t expecting them, and I pretty well knew they’d find the camping ground full, so I let them pitch their tent at the farm dam. My house is small, and both of them are motor mouths, so it wouldn’t have done to have them in the house.

As it was, I had to feign interest in something he called ‘The Human Pin Code’ – maybe it wasn’t explained to me all that well: it seemed to consist of sweeping statements that one’s hardly likely to disagree with like ‘You think about things and then act on them.’

I also did a good job of feigning interest in a gym program aimed at reducing her thighs which I couldn't see anything wrong with in the first place. She has a personal trainer. She has hundreds of pairs of earrings. She’s… well, she’s nice and has lots of personality, but she’s ‘city’.

Next day, they wanted to ‘do’ the forest, and accompanied this with tales of how they’ve ‘done’ this or that mountain or hike. I’ll confess to a twinge of mischief when I recommended the loveliest (and slipperiest) walk I know.

Well, I don’t know it so much as know someone who knows it well enough to do it: it’s pretty tricky and involves more scrambling over undergrowth and climbing up waterfalls than strolling. Just look at this:

I’m afraid it was a bit rough on her in particular, and he was rather scared in places though he tried not to show it, but after all the boasting about intrepid outdoorsmanship, they could hardly start complaining.

To be honest: parts of the walk scare me a bit too, although the worst one’ll get for a fall will be some grazes and bruises. I can say this because I’ve tried it: it’s well worth the risk (and the grazes).

In the end, they were quite pleased with the walk and were last seen heading off in search of beaches.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Down Under - an illuminating visit to the hospital

This week has been a bit surreal. Fragments of strange dreams cling to my consciousness every morning. Last night, I dreamed that Mom was still alive. I was at a party, and there she was. She’d been pretending to be dead. I was so angry that it hurt.

The hospital visit was a damp squib. It was interesting nonetheless. First the runarounds from pillar to post to get a file: queue here, queue there, upstairs, downstairs then upstairs again.

At last, I settled down for the hours of waiting. Women of all ages and conditions waited for their gynecological examinations looking nervous, shuffling their feet like schoolgirls waiting outside the principal’s office.

I read most of Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ while I waited - an amusing title considering what I was waiting for, and an amusing book into the bargain. I recommend it (the book, not the waiting).

I was eventually seen by a short Frenchman with a heavy accent. In private care, they didn’t bother to tell me anything about the sonar. He explained everything very well, and convinced me that I don’t have too much to worry about... yet.

There was also a nasty examination involving a torch – the same sort of torch you can get at the Chinese shop for about 50c US. It had a picture of a soccer ball on it.

They couldn’t do the biopsy. There was something wrong with me that needed clearing up first, and there was something wrong with ‘the machine’. I didn’t look at the machine too closely. I’ll see enough of it on Tuesday.

At the dispensary, it was more relaxed. Strangers struck up conversations, the woman behind me was laughing about something till tears ran down her face and I had to laugh too even though I didn’t know what it was about.

Verdict: crowded, but clean and efficient. Not worth paying ten times the amount for private care which, as far as I can see, only eliminates the queues, gives you piped music and lino. Oh, and their machines probably work, and they have very likely got more expensive torches, but I bet no-one laughs till they cry in the pharmacy.

Today’s pic: something illuminating

Monday, December 6, 2010

How to Baffle Everybody

Cor, did we ever have a thunder storm here! Its not usual in this part of the country, so of course the infrastructure - ADSL lines in particular, just couldn't take it. HOW I've been missing blogging.

Good news is that I've bought a USB modem, and my boss insists on paying for it because I'm using it for work (at least a bit). Yippee!

We proceed: today, you're getting culture of the SA sort, whether you want it or not - here goes:

I’m pretty good at American slang, one is exposed to it, one learns it. I even, very occasionally, use it. Naturally, everyone knows what I’m saying. Being a proud South African, I feel it incumbent on me to promote SA slang. You should try it. You will baffle everyone!

To greet, you say ‘Howzit!?’ both punctuation marks are needed since this salutation combines the greeting exclamation as well as the ‘how are you’ question very neatly.

If you are ‘cool’ you will add ‘eksa’ to the greeting. It is a corrupted form of an Afrikaans phrase meaning ‘I say’. You can chuck it in at the end of every sentence, if you like. I do not know why this should be cool, but it is.

Then, in return to the greeting, you might say ‘Na bru’ which combines mining slang from Zulu (I think) with the Afrikaans version of ‘bro’. Very rock and roll, or more appropriately….

Sakkie-sakkie: the Afrikaans version of bluegrass, but more concertina orientated and with less exciting dancing called ‘langarm’ (long arm – you can picture it. It is danced, in certain circles (and they move around the floor in circles too), to everything including AC/DC. I could write a whole post about langarm, it would slay you.

Of course, we’re inclined to say the Dutch ‘Ja’ for yes, and we say ‘Agh’ (like the English ‘Aw’) and that’s pretty decipherable, but I will lead you once more onto foreign ground.

The word I find the most difficult to exclude from my vocabulary when talking to foreigners, and the one they find most baffling, is ‘Lekker’. I could write a whole post about that word. It goes everywhere. It means ‘nice’, and in South Africa, everything is nice.


‘Lekker, bru’

‘Lekker day ne?’ (‘ne’ is a questioning phrase, something like ‘not so?’)

‘Blerry lekker’ (‘Blerry’ is the SA way of pronouncing ‘bloody’)

‘That’s a lekker car’

‘I’ll take you for a lekker spin’

‘Oh wow! Lekker!’

And so on, and so on.

Thunder and Lighting are swearwords, though in Afrikaans: ‘Donder’ and ‘Bliksem’. I know that for some cultures they are the names of Santa’s reindeer, but in SA, they are naughty words. They also mean you might beat someone up as in: ‘I’ll donder (or bliksem) you’. So do be careful while naming Santa’s reindeer in South Africa..

There. That was very cultural and enlightening. Class, your project for the week: use one of the above words (preferably an obscure one) in public, at least once. Thank you / Dankie / Ndi ya bonga / Nkosi / Ke a boga.

Today’s pic: Something very South African: A rock hyrax or 'dassie'. Its closest living relative is, according to biologists, an elephant. Something to do with the toes. That's biologists for you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Poised to ride the rapids (or fall off waterfalls)

The road less traveled has always appealed to me – not for me the suburban life, the ‘usual’ sort of career, the security of family. When I married, I married someone who wouldn’t contribute at all because I wanted to do it all myself. Twenty or so years later on, I decided that this was a mistake. Silly me.

I wanted to do stuff in ways that other people don’t usually try. I didn’t want to be helped or supported or interfered with in any way. I was ‘too big for that’ as I informed my dad once when he asked me to sit on his lap. As a grown up, I was too big for everything including my own boots.

Of course, the school of hard knocks beats some sense into one at some point, and one realizes that the road least traveled is unfrequented for very good reasons. Its rocky and winding, you can’t ask for directions because no-one knows the route and, in the end, it might just lead off the edge of a cliff.

I have, in the past, rather ruefully referred to this as ‘A love of doing things the hard way’. Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of lots of the things I did the hard way, inordinately and sometimes perversely so.

I love the fact that I’ve succeeded in building a lifestyle for myself outside of the mainstream, but instead of heading into the fiercest part of the current with a determination to succeed regardless of the odds, which is what I used to do, I much prefer being in a quiet backwater just drifting along.

For a long time, one of my favorite things to say was ‘Why spoil the beautiful now by focusing on a beautiful tomorrow that may never come?’ but I think its time I got off my delightful bottom and started having a few goals other than just being happy which I do quite well anyway.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding what I want, which is more difficult than one might think it would be, because I’m rather contented as I am. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything…

Today’ pic: a quiet backwater. Are you wondering if there's a waterfall ahead? Yes, there is. I fell off it, so I know. Anyway, it seems appropriate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Imagine that!

I’ve always imagined that I am one of those people who is blessed with a good imagination, maybe even a great one, but I’m beginning to imagine that it mightn’t really be so.

Only today, I was trying to ‘think out of the box’ with ideas for presenting plants to retailers for Christmas. In the first place, I should probably have imagined that it was coming up for Christmas last month already.

As for out the box thinking, all I’ve come up with are curls of ribbon (it worked but cost a bit much), gift wrap (it worked, it cost less, but it’ll get ruined on the truck) and glitter glue. I’m happy with the glitter glue spots on the leaves of some plants, but it’s an idea I’ve seen elsewhere, so I can’t take credit for it.

My colleague says ‘You’re so creative!’ and I say ‘Thanks’ and feel like a fraud. It was fun and I got covered with glitter, but creative? Nah. Not really.

Then too, there’s my upcoming biopsy on the eighth. Everyone’s asking about it, and every time they do, I’m surprised and I say ‘Oh yes, that’s next week sometime, isn’t it?’ and they look all worried because they have better imaginations than I do.

I’m not even 100% sure what they’re going to do exactly. I googled it, but it looked like something I don’t want to know, so I gave up trying to find out and adopted a ‘sufficient unto the day the evil thereof’ attitude. See what I mean? No imagination to speak of. It makes me so ruddy insensitive!

Mind you, I’ve got this image of myself with my legs hooked over my ears while my insides get inspected with something resembling an old-fashioned brass telescope. I’m ever so glad they’ll put me under for that!

I mean... I mean... it might be amusing to hear the doc call out ‘Ovaries on the starboard bow!’ but when he attacks my cervix crying out ‘Have at thee’ or something as close as one can get to that while having a scalpel clutched between one’s teeth (‘Agg at eee’?), I’d be standing by to repel boarders, and that’s no lie.

But I digress. I was saying, and still maintain that I lack imagination. Tch!

Today's pic is purely imaginary. I didn't post one at all. You're pretty darn good aren't you?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Best Way of Defeating. Everything.

I am thrilled! I am inspired! I am chortling! After my visit to the attorneys that are handling my mom’s will, and a visit to a bank in order to make an appointment to draft mine, I comforted myself from the gloom that these thoughts of mortality engender with a visit to the latest cheapie shop.

It was there that I found and bought a game that will doubtless change my life, and that for the price of one dollar. On the surface, It’s just a little plastic game. I’ll take a picture... there! I bought it for the promising claims made on the reverse of the pack. Soon I will conquer the world, and here’s how:

(I quote)

‘Marble is a kind of game that is very mordern. Now. It collects exciment fasciration.’

Oh Wow! I don’t know what exciment faciration is like, but it does sound nice!

‘It can not only train a lover’s skill and intelligence but also is a best way for lover to make friends.’

I’m hanging onto their every word by this time: this is one great game!

‘It is an intelligent game for family to be a happy field.’

Not so sure about that bit, but it does sound cheerful…

‘Spring your miracle. Competite your level!’

Oooooh. That sounds so… so… spiritual in a way. There follows a very poetic and somewhat cryptic description of how the game is played, the best bit being:

‘The one who gets the highest grade is a big winner’

Well now, I’ve been playing with this thing, and I got all five of the balls into the ‘600’ pocket, and do you know what? I feel like a big winner. Woohoo!

The conclusion cinched the deal. This is why I wanted to spend the princely sum of a dollar on this thing:

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The training of will intelligence, skill, will be your best ladder of success, it is your best training way of defeating. Everything’

So now you know. Watch out world!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Milk of Paradise

Coffee is marvelous stuff. I’ll freely admit to addiction. I like it strong enough to have an effect that makes all cry ‘Beware! Beware! The flashing eyes, the floating hair!’

I think that quote was originally Coleridge. He must have been fond of coffee too, although, if I remember correctly, he had a proclivity for something even stronger. Coffee does it for me, though.

I make good coffee. The spoon stands up in the cup and quivers from the caffeine overdose. I add just enough milk to make it a murky, dark-chocolate shade of brown. There could be little Loch-Ness-like monsters in it; it’d be appropriate.

I haven’t ever had my morning wake-up cup in an alert state – that only happens after coffee - but I wouldn’t be surprised if my fingernails lengthened into claws as a take the first sip of the day. ‘Aaaaah!’ Or possibly ‘Arrrggggh’! Maybe even ‘Rowwwrrr!’ As I’ve said, I’m not really in a state to notice which at that time.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty energizing and I arrive at work vibrating and wide-eyed. Good stuff – it makes my boss think I’m madly enthused, even in the morning, so she doesn’t come near me because she isn’t, especially not in the morning.

Of course it could just be that the first cuppa causes me to grow fangs – I should probably look in the mirror to see if it does. I think fangs would suit me, really.

There are so many drinking songs, but not many about coffee. I can think of ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘Forty cups of coffee’ and that’s about it. Neither of them is particularly cheerful. Both, if I remember correctly, having to do with a person waiting up late for their partner.

I think a really good carousing song should be written about coffee. I’ll consider it.

I suppose a dawn picture is appropriate to this post…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Machiavellian Mother

I sometimes wonder if my mom dying wasn't a nefarious plan to:

a) Ensure that I go for my physical in time to stand a chance of living past 43
b) Make me behave myself owing to the responsibilities of pet parenthood.
c) Give up smoking because I'll be living on time I borrowed from her (she knows me. I probably will)
d) Make me stop listening to heavy metal

If that's the case, I can hardly be annoyed with her for a and b. I rather like the idea of living a bit longer, and as for the pets, they're great fun.

I'm not overly happy about point c, although its something I suppose one really ought to do. Problem is, I really like smoking - have done for over twenty years. Sigh.

As for point d, its the worst of the lot. All I have to do is switch on Sepultura and the cats bolt. It isn't only heavy metal that makes them do that. Classical music seems to have the same effect and my guess is that all the genres in between will do likewise. I need music!

On top of it all, I might have to give up playing the flute altogether because the bolder of the two cats heads off for at least twelve hours the moment I let fly with it and the timid one tucks herself into a corner and won't come out for days on end. Its not that bad, really it isn't! The guitar and keyboard will have to remain unplugged indefinitely by the looks of things.

The dogs are merely bewildered by music, but you get a picture of Marigold who, despite her soppy name, managed to do in a rat on the weekend. Good going, girl!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The good weekend

Ok, so I’m writing this just to brag and make everyone envious, but ‘tis a tale that has to be told.

First of all, imagine camping out here

Now imagine that after preparing dinner at this fantastic fire place

You go sailing about on a double inflatable camping mattress all night long under the moonlight.

Then, when you’re properly tired, you moor the mattress here

and have a nap until dawn on water that is as smooth and clear as glass.

Cost: R80 for the bush camp and R200 for the mattress and a pump to blow it up with - a total of just over 40 dollars. Verily, the best things in life are not expensive.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You learn something new every day

I have a piece of information for you courtesy of Adsense. Soda stream will save the planet. Yes folks, really it will, or at least it will help save the planet, but either way its fantastically environmentally friendly because you re-use all your bottles see?

Well, I don’t know how it is in the US, but in Europe and, to a certain extent, South Africa, most drinks bottles have a deposit on them and if you don’t return them to the shop to collect it, someone else will.

Recycling is becoming lucrative enough for people to have contracts that allow them to pick out recyclables at all the garbage tips, and guess what? Where there is lucre, even filthy lucre, there are takers!

Let’s assume that the US, poor thing, has not yet invented the deposit bottle or recycling – well then folks, you should thank Soda Stream every day for the fact that you have not disappeared under an avalanche of soft drink bottles.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! The planet, or at least your continent, or if not your continent then the one next to it, is saved, or at least partially saved, thanks to Soda Stream!

You learn something new every day, don’t you?

Today's pic: one I took while saving the planet with recyclable bottles at the watering hole known as 'Zanzibar'.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Something wicked this way comes

I have doubtless referred to the occasional profanity of my personality. I'm not too much of a swearer, but perhaps what I mean is that I find incidents such as the one that follows madly amusing. In this one, I offer a complete stranger a violence. He declines.

I remember that I was ill, so my ex-hubby took me to the pharmacy at the shopping-center. As we reversed out of the parking space, a car came whizzing around the corner just as the ex happened to be checking the opposite direction.

I suppose I must have squeaked ‘Stop’ or something equally intelligent and as far as I knew there’d been no impact. The other car didn’t drive on, though. Its driver got out of the car, so I thought perhaps there had been a light coming together. I wasn’t driving, but it was my car, so I got out too.

‘F! Why don’t you look where you’re F-ing going!’ yelled the man while I checked the bumpers and found that they hadn't so much as touched.

‘Its not up to me to look where we’re going. Talk to him!’ said I, indicating the ex, who had by now unfolded his six-foot-something self from the driver’s seat.

The man glanced at the ex and obviously preferred airing his grievances to five-foot-nothing me, so he returned to berating me. ‘F! F! F!’ I forget the details – it was good rhetoric, though, very articulate and persuasive.

‘Are you slow of understanding?’ asked I, by this time becoming a tad annoyed: ‘Driver’s side, passenger’s side. Talk to the driver’

By this time the.. er .. gentleman had confirmed to his own satisfaction that the ex wasn’t going to do anything about him yelling at me, but might take offence if yelled at directly, so he just ignored my interjection and kept berating me while a queue of vehicles built up behind his stationary car.

‘F! You must look where you're F-ing going!’ he yelled ‘F! F! F-ity F!’ or words to that effect.

It was at this point that I snapped. I drew myself up onto my tippy toes (I really did) and strutted forward like a barnyard rooster on the rampage: ‘Do you want a smack?’ I hissed, and do you know what? He turned on his heel, got back into the car and drove off without another word.

I've never done something like that before or since, but it still makes me giggle when I remember it. I'm ever so fierce, you know!

Today's pic: something prickly

Monday, November 15, 2010

Louis: I have your teddy-bear!

An interesting weekend: about 300km to my late mother’s place to see what still needs packing and clearing. I told my brother he can have whatever he wants: turns out that was everything but the junk. I’m grateful for it. It was bad enough going into the emptiness of the house, emptying it would have been worse.

My brother says that all that stuff had ‘sentimental value’, but oddly I found family photographs and his first teddy bear among the sad heaps of detritus – so the cynic in me says that intrinsic value had more to say in the matter. I am doubtless a bad person with a nasty mind.

Anyway, it shrugworthy. I didn’t want the stuff and I was glad to be absolved of ridding myself of it. Oh, and I’ve got my brother’s teddy bear...(Lets fly with evil laugh: ‘Mwahahahaha!’)

I’m glad I didn’t go alone. There were ghosts, albeit benign ones, at every turn. I kept expecting to hear the dogs in the yard and my mother calling ‘Bring your ball!’ Memories of my last stay – her illness, the little plastic bag of toiletries that was returned to me at the hospital on the night she died. I didn’t cry. One does not cry over baby powder – not even if one spills it.

It was good to leave again. I drove – perhaps a little fast – home to the dogs and the cats and happier thoughts. On Sunday, I listened to Dio and slept.

Today's pic - some more of the Outeniqua mountains - I'm relying on PAMO to tell us how it relates to this post.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Protest music

Life's full of things one'd rather not do but has to: I wrote a song about it once - bet you bloggers could add a verse or two to it. Anyone who can guess the title is doubtless a genius.

Tunes up guitar. Tinkles keyboard with toes. Warms up nose-flute with a mighty snort. Launches forth with gusto:

Radio voices invade your home
Don't you hate it?
You drop everything just to answer the phone
Don't you hate it?
Somebody knocks when you want to be alone
Don't you hate it?

A little peace, a little quiet, a moment of sweet rest
Seems so easy, what a laugh! Behold: the impossible quest.

You're felling really nasty and you know you must be nice
Don't you hate it?
You want the whole cake but you only get a slice
Don't you hate it?
They think you are the sugar but you know you are the spice
Don't you hate it?

A little peace, a little quiet, a moment of sweet rest
Seems so easy, what a laugh! Behold: the impossible quest.

The hammer hits your finger and you grimace with the pain
Don't you hate it?
The bills come out your postbox and you grimace once again
Don't you hate it?
They treat you like a Toy-Pom and you know you're a Great Dane
Don't you hate it?

A little peace, a little quiet, a moment of sweet rest
Seems so easy, what a laugh! Behold: the impossible quest.

Ends with powerful nose-flute solo and dexterous guitar counterpoint. Ah! The sheer brilliance of me.

Today's pic: me looking disgruntled and wild, but cool.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The futility of optimism is mildly amusing

As you know, I am an occasional molester of musical instruments, and since I’m far too much of an anarchist to like following other people’s music to the note and far too undisciplined, if truth be told, to play music at all, I make up my own stuff.

I’ve had some interesting times lately, and I’m reminded of a rather tongue-in-cheek song I wrote a few years ago. I think it might be about the futility of optimism, but don’t let that put you off: it makes me smile (or possibly grimace). Hope you’ll smile too. Pics of grimaces welcome. I want to start a collection. Here goes:


Is that the way it’s meant to be?

Everything is breaking down around me

Turning into dust

Like science says it must

Like science says it must

But I believe I’m going to make it

I believe I’m going to win

And life’s a glorious garden

I am living in


Brightest fire burning

Burning to the sky

But you will die

Burn yourself to dust

Like science says you must

But I believe I’m going to make it

I believe I’m going to win

And life’s a glorious garden

I am living in


Tell me why I’m crying

Dying all the time

Will life be mine

Or will I turn to dust

Like science says I must

Like science says I must

But I believe I’m going to make it

I believe I’m going to win

And life’s a glorious garden

I am living in

Monday, November 8, 2010

What I did on the weekend (in case anyone wants to know)

On Friday I went to have jelly smeared on my tummy and then licked off by a rather attractive lady. Grant: you’d have wanted pictures, but all I have to show for it are a few expensive snapshots of my inner workings which, by the way, seem to look as they ought (apart from the bit that doesn’t, but I already knew that).

So that was good and I was able to relax on the weekend.

The rock and rollization of my late mother’s possessions ensued. This car

does not rock. Verily, the miniature dog known as ‘Snowbeast’ hath more coolth than this compact car, but a Jolly Roger works wonders, and the Ka is now almost as cool as my rusted pickup.

The thing is, mum had a little pipe attached to the front of the car so that she knew where the front was. I also like knowing where it is, but the pirate flag gives it a better excuse for being there - other than 'I don't know where the front of my car is'.

Hamish got a new ball, and never have you seen such a happy dog or so much saliva.

Herewith also a picture of the old ball.

It's not much more than a week old. I think he’s realized that he’s not going to get more than one new ball a week, and is therefore sucking the ball rather than biting it in the hopes that it will last longer. It’s a good idea except that the ball makes a very sticky-sounding ‘splat’ when he drops it at your feet.

On Saturday morning, I got a real treat: I’ve never seen a real live spoonbill before, but there’s a pair hanging out at the farm dam outside my cottage, and while I was watching them, a brown-hooded kingfisher was doing incredible aerial dances over the water before plunging in.

The cat thought he was better-looking and I should be taking pictures of him instead, so I did that. Introducing Alex: lord of all he surveys.
I got some pictures of Gus cuddling the Snowbeast, but I’m saving them for purposes of blackmail. Oh, and this blue-grey shot over the bay: a bit of heaven.

Hope your weekend was a good 'un too

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Never Give Up - profile of a sucker

I seem to be exhorting people to do this and that of late, so here's a motivational, self-improvement post for y'all. Floats up to pulpit looking saintly. Clears throat. Commences:

At work, we’re having weekly sessions with a motivational speaker. Her series of talks is entitled ‘Profile of a Champion’, but I can’t help thinking that it might just as well be called ‘Profile of a Sucker’.

Do I sound negative? A stick in the mud? A Misery Martha? Let’s look into this.

The worst thing about this speaker is her motto: ‘Never give up’. Sorry, but sometimes quitting takes guts. Sometimes it’s the only way to rescue yourself from being the victim of your own choices – both professionally and personally. Sometimes, quitting is the only positive step worth taking.

She advocates pouring out all your energy – even the reserves you didn’t know you had. Pour it into your work, pour it into your relationships. Give till it hurts!

Sorry, no. I’ve poured all I have and sometimes more than I knew I had into situations, and do you know what? It becomes the new norm: what people expect of you, so you keep on looking for a little more of yourself to give, and a little more until the situation devours you, and there’s nothing left to feed the thankless void - the bottomless pit that can never be filled.

‘A fig for that’ say I! Give as much as you’re willing to give – keep trying as long as trying yields some sort of positive result – and when it doesn’t? Quit. Quit and be proud of quitting! Ring the changes! Take charge! Now there’s powerful motivation!

So to all the quitters out there: respect. I know how hard it was. You drew the line.You rock!

Today's pic: A cat called 'lulucifer' since I'm playing devil's advocate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cancer: Life and death lessons

This is not a fun post. Read it anyway.

When my mom was so ill, I thought that I should try and take something good form a bad situation. Learning was the only positive thing I could do with it, so I thought about it and decided that having a thorough examination every year was the lesson.

Mom needn't have died as she did. If the problem had been detected earlier, she'd have stood a chance. So I went and had the embarrassing checkup that I've been putting off for the last fifteen years.

I’ve been climbing the walls since the doc said he wanted me to go for a return visit and asked whether I would prefer to use a private or public hospital for further procedures. He wouldn’t elaborate over the phone and I passed a very restless night. All I could think was ‘I don’t want to die! Not now!’

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I’m in the early stages of cervical cancer. Three more years and I’d have been the walking dead. As it is, the doctor assures me that I’ve little to worry about. I feel very relieved.

‘What made you come for an examination after all these years?’ asked the doctor

‘My mother.’

‘Well, you can thank her for that. She’s saved your life.’

I can’t. She’s dead.

Ladies: I know I’m preaching now, but please, please take care of yourselves. I know it’s a nasty little examination, but its not worth dying to avoid it. If you’ve been delaying, get on the phone and make the appointment. Don’t just think: ‘Hmm. I should get around to that, I know’. I’ve been thinking that for fifteen years and another three would have been the end of me.

Today's pic: a flower for you from me with love.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adsense: How to lose friends and alienate people

Well, perhaps I overstate the matter. I merely find advertising on blogs rather intrusive and, to be honest, a trifle tacky. Does the Mona Lisa punt coca cola? Would she be the same if she did?

So you want to make a few cents from my visit to your page and you don’t mind defacing it with advertising? Why should it bother me? It doesn’t all that much, but I’m inclined to see it as a bit of a prostitution of art type of thing – and I don’t like advertising. Have you noticed?

A blogger I follow was remarking that he got $6.66 from his adsense over a month. Geez! Talk about selling oneself cheap! Talk about selling one’s readers cheap! By all means: place me in the hands of big business, but let it be for at least thirty pieces of silver.

Then of course, the ads can’t help detracting from the content. I read a very touching post by a blogger who wrote of his mother’s death years ago and how he realized for the first time how much his dad loved her and next to it, was a ‘Sodastream’ advert advertising twenty-five flavours.

Incongruous. I couldn’t resist commenting about the soda stream. It begged to be commented on. And he’s got the money from google – all few cents of it – to compensate, so I don’t see why he should be offended – plus I’ve just plugged soda stream, both on his blog and mine. Please remember that there are twenty-five flavours.

Today's pic: something cool.

Note: The above post is my opinion. I'm unlikely to change it, but I accept that its just opinion. Given that I'm the one its writing and I'm the one with the opinion, it is also infallibly correct - even if you don't share it - which is your lookout, and therefore just as correct as mine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tending The Treacherous Bits

I went to the doctor on Saturday for a full physical. One’s supposed to go for a lady-bits and what-nots check up every year after you’re thirty, but I haven’t been since I was twenty-five. Lady-bits need watching - they can be the death of one - so that was pretty stupid of me.

Mom thought that since she wasn’t using hers any more, she needn’t go for checkups, and all the ills that carried her off started as ovarian cancer. So I gritted my teeth and girded my loins (even though I knew I’d have to ungird them for the examination) and subjected myself to voluntary molestation.

The nurse did all the preparatory form filling in, blood pressure, height, weight, urine test and etcetera. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable about coming in for that check-up, but one comforts oneself with the idea that to medical staff, its nothing peculiar and all perfectly routine.

It was therefore rather alarming to find the nurse talking in hushed tones: ‘When was your last menstruation?’ and so on. She probably did so to spare me embarrassment, but it had the opposite effect since I’d decided that there was nothing to be shy about, and now it seemed, there was.

So I made a point of saying ‘Pap smear’ and ‘Menstruation’ in a perfectly normal tone of voice, just to put her at ease. Thence to the examination room where I did the full Monty with merry abandon and awaited my fate.

Anyway, the doctor gave me a thorough working over – I’ll spare you the details - and I left the money on the pillow (kidding, I’ll put it in his bank of course).

I don’t have any pictures of this event, and if I did, they'd be worth money, so instead you get a picture of a kid (not mine).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Whatsit celebration

I love my little bloggie-woggie, but of late, I've been awfully serious. Bah to that! I've done serious, and now I want to have some fun.

With luck, the weekend will get me into the right mood: we're doing halloween... er hallo'een? Um.. the festival that involves dressing up and which South Africans don't even know how to spell.

A whole bunch of us will be descending (in costume, naturally) on the local pub or pubs where we will proceed to talk nonsense, laugh, imbibe (With moderation of course! What do you take me for?) and generally have a good time. I'll remember to avoid arm wrestling this time - don't want to get a reputation for breaking furniture, and what will I do if I break Waldo's arm?

Given that the hallowed evening is not commonly celebrated here, it'll stir up the locations which we will grace (I arm wrestle gracefully too) with our presence, which is always welcome in a small town whose main claim to fame is being situated under the mountains.

They're nice mountains, but you can't really look at them at night. Lots of people say there's nothing to do here, but its a matter of making things to do, isn't it? (Did you imagine a dirty laugh? Shame on you!).

Today's pic: Things to do at around-about-this-time-of -year in George circa 2009.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Florence Nightingbint - the lady with the lighter

I wasn’t cut out for nursing my mother, that I can tell you. Mom was an angel in hospital, but then they kept her doped up to the eyeballs. After that, she was a handful-and-a-half and crotchety to go with it. Morphine! Morphine! Never mind her, I could have used a shot!

Yes, I know I was uncharitable. She was in pain, and she had just been told her condition was terminal.

Oh yes, Ministering Angels: despite my own irritability (You noticed it? Never!) and grief (less said the better), I was really good – believe it or not.

I maintained a relaxed and even smiling countenance. I mopped up what needed mopping up, gave bed baths, changed dressings, helped up, helped down, ran errands, made chicken soup, made barley water, fetched, carried and got up several times a night when needed. I treated her with utmost gentleness.

She was in pain and grumpy – she couldn’t help it. She said that I walked too fast in the passage, that I touched her too much (how else was I to help her?) and (repeatedly) that I should get breath freshener because my breath smelled of tobacco. It does. I sucked mints for Mom, but one doesn’t first look for the mints when you’ve just killed a smoke and are urgently summoned.

‘Don’t be cross’ she said. ‘Are you cross?’

‘Yes, but it doesn’t matter.’

‘It does matter, very much.’

And now, of course, I can hardly forgive myself for admitting my mild annoyance. I should have lied.

One evening, I stopped at the pub and had a beer. It was nice to relax in a convivial atmosphere for a few minutes. Five hours later, I was asked ‘Have you been drinking?’ and this with a suspicious stare, as if she thought I was about to flake out or puke on the carpet (neither of which are things I do in case you were wondering...)

At the same time, she called me her ‘ministering angel’

‘Yes’ I joked

‘The Lady with Lighter’

She wasn’t amused, poor thing.

Todays' pic. Can't find anything that says something, but this one says nothing at all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Monster Turd (among other things)

As I’ve said before, I’m not going to turn this into a ‘mommy’ blog’, but I have to tell you about the cats.

First of all, there’s Alex. No real problems there. Tom cat. Supremely confident. Gorgeous. Struts about like he owns the place. Just one thing: that cat can churn out a turd that the middle-sized mongrel would be proud of. And the smell!

The problem is Misty, who’s about eighteen years old. She hasn’t quite settled in yet. She lives under the bed. Oh, she’ll come to the edge and allow one to stroke her and she purrs like a motorboat, but for the last two weeks, she’s lived under the bed.

This means that the facility herinafter referred to as ‘The Cat Litter Tray’ also resides under the bed. The same facility made use of by aforementioned Alex in which to deposit the monster turd of fame and odour. Yes, well. Whew!

I keep telling Misty that she could be queen of the household, that I’ll worship her as befits a cat and kowtow to her every wish, but she just stays under the bed with the cat litter tray. It reminds me of the story of the eagle that lived with chickens and just pecked around on the ground refusing to fly.

Not that she can fly, but she could be on the bed rather than under it, and if she’d show willingness to explore the house I could move that darned cat litter!

No pics of the cats yet. I don’t want to scare them with the flash.So instead, you get Ginger and Jemima, the farm cats.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Quiet of the Country

Agh. Its good to be home again! How I love my little wooden cottage (I mean 'chateau') with its views over mountains and sea. The farm dam (Oops! 'Ornamental Lake' what will you think of me?) in front of the house is visited by cormorants who dry their wings in the sun, and resemble nothing so much as rather tatty umbrellas after a storm, while tall, elegant grey herons pace back and forth on their slender legs.

Owls often call in the night, and last night one landed on the rooftop and hooted so loudly one'd swear he actually wanted to be noticed. I got a good look at him, (of course, the camera wasn't handy - it seldom is at such moments) before he swooped off on silent wings.

I could probably do without the guinea fowls who flock like so many chickens across the paddock by day and roost in the trees at night where they let out 'Tach! Tach Tach!' cries as they jostle for position. High rise living with attendant stresses, I suppose, but they are quite noisy as neighbors go. At least I can't understand their curse words and they don't break windows or stab each other or anything like that. Still, though I'm not much of a snob, I can tell a commoner when I see one!

The Egyptian geese have, at times, been under consideration for the roasting pot for similar reasons, but they are rather magnificent as they swoop around the house to land in the tall pine tree in my garden.

The frogs are good neighbors. I really like them. Most of them chirrup and whistle rather than croak. People often hear the background noise when I talk to them on the phone. Ever phone someone who was in an nightclub when they answered? You can hear the festivities in the background. Well, I'm in the middle of a choral recital every night, and I don't sleep well without it any more.

I am, on occasion, alarmed by a donkey. I love donkeys, but their braying is on the less than musical side of extreme, and at two in the morning, it makes one's hair stand on end!

On the whole, I'd say that this place isn't much noisier than some I've lived in (at least there aren't jackals), but the 'quiet of the country' is definitely a myth!

Ah! But I am wealthy beyond words...

*** Yus, there are no pictures of birds. Will work on it, but they never want to sit still.