Monday, September 20, 2010

I want to have a breakdown too, damn it!

So I'm off to the charming village of Stanford to care for my mom after her operation. Poor mum. She's phoned me almost every day with 'contingency plans': 'If I die, do such and such. If I'm slow to heal, this and that must happen. Here's money for my funeral in case you need it.' Its more than bit depressing although I appreciate that she feels more comfortable knowing that there are plans in place.

Work, after two weeks of late nights and two disrupted weekends, should take care of itself. Like mom, I've been making plans and contingency plans. I might or might not get online while I'm away. I hope I will, I want to keep up with my blog and my blogging friends.

In the mean time, my number 1 'find', a part-time lady to temp in the office, has had a 'bit of a wobbly' to quote her own words, and won't be be back for work. The fact that she got her dad to phone in for her, along with the fact that she's supposed to be a friend of mine and could have spoken to me herself (I'm personnel officer - hardly a terrifying prospect) rankles slightly, but although her workload is zilch, she doesn't have to support herself, her own health is good and her parents aren't even thinking of dying, I'll take her word for it that her stress is extreme.

Sigh. I suppose I should be glad I don't have her problems (whatever those may be). Will ensure that she gets tons of sympathy even though I could use some myself.

I'll be seeing you all as and how I can.

Today's pic: a dam wall. Seems appropriate, somehow. I may not break! I must not break!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Millennium hand and shrimp!

I always liked the idea of being a mutterer. Terry Pratchett uses the word to describe a beggar called 'foul old Ron' who follows his targets while muttering sheer nonsense: 'Millennium hand and shrimp.. I told them, I told them...' until they pay him to go away.

Well, so far no-one's paying me to shut up and inflicting bad art and worse poetry haven't achieved my end, so I suppose I'll just have to come to terms with not being a proper mutterer after all.

It was always going to be a long shot though, because I don't smell bad enough. I don't think I'll work on that aspect of being a mutterer, because I have a nice bath with hot water on tap. I might have given it a shot at my old place, except that buckets of cold water seemed preferable at the time.

So if I really wanted to be a mutterer, I'd have been in a good position to do so, but maybe I don't want it after all which leads me to a song as follows: Ahem... twiddles guitar.. looks self-conscious... chunders forth a shaky riff...

I could get what I want
If I knew what I want
Wish I could find a way
To find out what I want!

Verse 1:
Met a guru so old
And he made very bold
He said do just what I say
You know I've found the way
So I gave him my cash
Guess it was kind of rash
I was trying to buy a way
To find out what I want

Met a man with a pill
That could give you a thrill
He said: 'Try this little thing'
'The answer Lies within!'
Now I'm feeling so strange
And my mind's rearranged
And I still don't know a way
To find out what I want.

Verse 3
So I went up a hill
And I sat very still
And suddenly I knew
Exactly what I want
Now there's no hit and miss
And the answer is this
I really want
To know what I want

Bows out to thunderous applause and increased notoriety. Mutters 'Millennium hand and shrimp'

Today's pic. A hill on which enlightenment may or may not be found.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Its time for something a little lighter, so I'm thinking of a poem I wrote when I was in my teens. I'm awful at poetry, so I really should inflict some on you. Brace yourself: barf bags at the ready! Here goes!

Filbert was a carpenter,
A man of some renown
He had a little corner shop
On the quiet side of town
One day, a block of solid teak
Sprouted legs and grew beak
Down it jumped from the storage shelf
Did a dance and shook itself
Imagine Filbert's great surprise
When it appeared before his eyes!

Then: 'Filbert!' it cried with a voice like a lash
'I want to know where you keep your cash!'
It grabbed up the safe and snaffled the key
And was off down the road just as fast as could be
The teak block ran as fast as it could
And soon you could smell the burning of wood
Filbert could see how before it got far
The teak was just a smear of ash on the tar.

And there is a moral in all this my sons:
If you're a blockhead, don't pull any fast ones!

Voila! Ridculosity rules!
More flowers - I haven't had time to do any non-work-related photography what with seven day work and suchlike.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Godliness and Lies

I really hate telling lies. It causes a lot of heart-searching at times. I like keeping my conscience clear, but there are times when the truth will have terrible consequences to the recipient.

I was in just such a quandary yesterday when my mother who is a very ‘on fire’ Pentecostal confronted me about my assertion on Facebook (Which it never occurred to me she might see) that I am agnostic.

To her, this is ‘rejecting Christ’ and a repentant murderer is more likely to see the pearly gates than I am. She finds it personally hurtful and I could sense her withdrawal from me. In her faith, you don’t even eat at the same table with filth such as I. I know this because the same issues tore our family apart when I was in my teens and I began to openly question matters of faith.

I could explain that uncertainty is not the same as rejection, but to her, the uncertain are as bound for hell as the evil. She’s just confided in me that she might have terminal cancer, and I’m to go and support her for two weeks during an operation later this month.

She has enough to worry about without having to worry about my immortal soul, and if she spends the entire two weeks attempting my conversion, we will both become frustrated and upset. She needs to trust me now. I’m her support in this difficult time.

So I lied. I spun an enormous and almost unbelievable yarn (Which I’m ashamed to even mention) and managed to convince her that I’m born again enough to be trustworthy. I hated it.

It made me feel sick telling such lies, though I’m not doing it for my comfort but for hers. It would be pointless to debate this with her, and now is the worst possible time to embark on a course that will end in alienation unless I give in – which means a lie sooner or later – as I doubt she’ll convince me of anything I’m not convinced of yet.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I feel awful, even though I’ve rationalized as follows: If a lie is told in order to ensure positive and unselfish ends – if it builds another person up in some way – then its ok to lie. The truth should be told, but only if its constructive.

So why do I still hate myself?

Today’s pic: I’m starting to get to know the camera…

Friday, September 10, 2010


Yesterday, while I was working diligently at performing minor miracles as is my habit, and as is herewith depicted, I was startled by a dreadful cry of 'Argharghargharrrrghhh'. Issuing from the direction of the boss' house.

'He's hurt himself! Something terrible is happening! Disaster! Flood! Fire!' thought I, and I was up in a flash and dashing to avert, alleviate or admire (whichever would be appropriate) the carnage.

On reaching a suitable vantage, I was more horrified than ever. 'He's finally lost it! Executive stress has never been this bad! We're going to need elephant tranquilizer'! There was my boss, running around the garden roaring and waving a long stick with which he hit the roof of the house with great energy. Bang! Thump! Aaarggggh! While chipped paint rained down from the gutters like dandruff.

An audience gathered, poised to flee lest his insanity should extend to hitting people with the long stick. He tore around the side of the house yelling and emerged again, grinning.

'Baboons! They were in the kitchen eating fruit.' He explained as soon as he had got his breath back.

The whole performance had been in the nature of declaring his supremacy over his territory in a way these primates would understand, and sure enough, there they were, loping towards the garden wall and disappearing over it with alacrity.

He says he scared them by persuading them that he was the alpha baboon, but maybe they, like us, had merely thought him crazy. Whatever it was, they haven't been back despite the lure of the fruit bowl.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What to do when people cry at you

I never know what to do when people begin to cry. I feel helpless. I hold them a little and say 'I'm sorry', though its not my fault, because its all I can think of. I murmur endearments and offer glasses of water. To be honest with you, though I hope I am being some comfort, I wish I was elsewhere.

One day, everyone in the office was crying. I can't remember why. I was the only one who wasn't crying, and I felt insensitive as well as useless, helpless etc. I felt, not to put too fine a point on it, embarrassed and I was ashamed of myself for feeling that way. I don't know why I find emotions 'messy', and sometimes I think I've kept a lid on mine so hard that I've forgotten how to 'feel' properly.

I told a friend about my uselessness in tearful situations once:

'I don't know what to do when people cry at me!' and he said...

Wait for it....

'Give them a tissue.'

Today's pic: getting the hang of the new camera, but still have to read the manual properly.
Today's status: bushed. 13 hour work day.
Acknowledgement: Grant. Sorry, still no bunnies.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who are you?

Karl Bakla often makes me think. He was talking about how we define ourselves, and in particular how some people define themselves by their jobs. There are other things I've noticed people see as defining: looks, music, clothes - its rather sad. These things have nothing to do with who one is.

Have you ever read pen friend ads? Many of them will say something like 'I'm a normal person with a good sense of humor. I am nice and I like to have fun. I am x years old.' Somehow, I find this kind of thing rather sad too. The problem with self-definition, though, is that its not easy to do.

Here's my attempt:

I am a bit of everything, but some things more than others.
I try very hard not to be normal because there are enough people already trying to be normal even though 'normal' is a theoretical state that no-one actually attains.
I am definitely NOT average. I'm either awful or brilliant. Do not contradict this, or I will be cross.
I have a talent for happiness, but I do like a good mope now and then.
I seldom lose my temper, but rare individuals have a knack for setting it off. It is better that I avoid them.
I have difficulty in making decisions, but when I do, I become extremely stubborn.
I am scatter-brained and I adore being called 'eccentric' even though the same people probably call me 'mad' behind my back.
Sometimes, I am a silly sausage.

Whew. I think that's as good as its going to get. I doubt you know me any better than you did before, though. Anyone else care to try?

Today's pic: on the farm after the rain. I like the farm, but it doesn't define me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Just at the moment, I’m drowning in work.

It makes me remember near-drowning experiences of the watery kind. First: when I assured my mother I could swim when I was four years old (though I only thought I could) and she chucked me in the pool to teach me not to tell lies. I think I only went under once or twice before I was fished out. I don’t blame her, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

It taught me not to tell stories, but gave me a fear of putting my head under water. Oh, my mum got her just deserts, she had to wash my hair thereafter, and it was only to be achieved by force. I got over it of course, but I still had a fear of putting my face in the water, which meant I was slow at learning how to swim.

The second time I nearly drowned, I was in high school, and my swimming teacher instructed us to swim lengths of the school pool. Of course, I was the weakest swimmer. I swam for as long as I could, then moved to the edge of the pool and hung onto the side.

‘I can’t do any more.’ said I, between gasps, but the teacher stepped on my fingers and said: ‘More! Swim more!’ So I duly swam back to the middle of the pool and promptly sank like a stone. I don’t remember coming up again.

I actually lost consciousness that time, and when I regained it, I was lying at the side of the pool having water pushed out of my lungs while mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was being debated: you can bet your life I opened my eyes quickly!

After that, I stopped going to swimming, even though it was compulsory, and for some reason ( I wonder what that could be?) the teacher never reported my absence. Smirks. I doubt she tried the stepping-on-fingers trick thereafter at all events.

Anyway, right at the moment, I feel as I did then: clutching the edge of the pool and saying: ‘I can’t do any more!’. No-one’s stepping on my fingers, but I also know that no-one’s going to fish me out. A week without overtime, would be very, very nice.

The joys of spring as a horticulturist…

Today's pic: a flower, of course! Pity I haven't had time to try out my new camera. Oh: and in case you were wondering: the butterfly is dead. I posed it there. Yes, I know its a cheat...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Operating instructions

Alright, so this is gratuitous, materialistic and consumerist bragging, but I have to tell you: I’ve got a new camera! Goodbye six mega pixels, hello twelve. Goodbye blurry optical zoom, hello lovely clear shots. Its like being in love, only easier because there’s an owner’s manual and instructions for use.

It’d be handy if people came with a manual wouldn’t it? I wonder what mine would read? Perhaps it should have a few notes on safe operation as well.

Congratulations on acquiring access to MM mark 1.

Disclaimer: Since this is a prototype, expect occasional unpredictable behavior such as sudden noises and erratic responses. A limited range of functions is available to you as the full version is not for general distribution.

Any loss, shock, damage or injury resulting from application of the MM is not the responsibility of the manufacturers who were absolved of all legal liability after a period of 21 years.

Re-programming of the MM is extremely difficult and is not recommended as fingers might be burned in the process.

Do not expose to excessive heat, cold or ethanol-based substances, as this impairs efficiency. If the MM is overloaded beyond a certain point, it will stop functioning immediately and you may or may not be able to get it to work again.

All navigational, mathematical and memory problems are inherent in the design.

Remember: the MM is multi-purpose, of an excellent quality, neatly packaged and great fun! Any and all difficulties you experience with this product, however, are entirely your own problem. Enjoy!

Anyone else care to share ideas around ‘Instructions for Use’? Today’s pic: a shot of the horses taken with my lovely new camera and its incredible zoom lens. Tch! Should have given it a little edit... what the heck.

Oh! And apologies PAMO. I got mixed up replying to your comment about the owl picture. That was a lucky shot. An owl had nested on the ground under a tree (very unusual behavior) and I got some good shots of the babies.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Brother, the Executioner

South Africa dropped the death penalty some years back. In a way, I think that's a good thing, although I realize that there are also arguments in its favour. My brother on the other hand, doesn't agree.

Its rather strange that we should differ as we do, because I'm an agnostic with atheist leanings and have no reason to be forgiving for the sake of my let's-hope-its-immortal-but-it seems-unlikely soul.

He, on the other hand should be full of forgiveness and hope that the evil will find God and forgiveness before they die. This implies that the evildoer should live as long as possible in order to increase his chances of attaining this end before kicking the bucket and departing this mortal coil.

Once this sinner has been through the repentance rigmarole he is automatically washed whiter than snow, becomes more innocent than a baby (who has original sin just for being human) and should therefore not be punished any more. In fact, they should let him go. Why should mankind hold grudges when God has already forgiven? Are we questioning His judgement? Maybe I'm interpreting my brother's faith too stringently though - only he is supposed to be a fundamentalist

He's very cross with me about the death penalty issue, but perhaps I should explain why. One day, on a road-trip he was holding forth at length on the subject and passionately declared that he not only felt that the death penalty should be re-instated, but that executions should be gory and held in public.

All I asked was whether he'd be swinging the axe or standing in the front row cheering. Now he's offended. I don't understand it one bit. Tch! My brother.

Today's pic: A young executioner of rodents - now that I approve of!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where bad South Africans go

By 'Bad South Africans', I mean people who are not good at being South African, who don't like South Africa, but are nonetheless South Africans. They are not necessarily bad people, but they are bad South Africans.

I've known quite a few of them. Some of them are even friends of mine. Point is, they emigrate. The funny thing about South Africans, is that they will always act like refugees when they choose to leave the country. A friend of mine got a high-up job for Rolls Royce, but ask him why he left the country and he'll tell you it was because crime became intolerable (which is what all ex-pats say) rather than that he chose to leave because he was offered a jolly good job (which is what actually happened).

So, you'd think they'd be happy at all events. Greener pastures, etc, etc - but no. Let's take the example of Mr Rolls Royce. He left the country some years back. I get regular letters bemoaning the terrible weather in England, the awful people who complain about just everything, the crime (even that!) and so on and so on. So. It doesn't seem like he's all that happy does it? Why is it that I'm starting to think that the RR family are chronic complainers?

A lot of South Africans think they'll make more money elsewhere, and one will - at least on the surface. I have it on good authority that a Mc Donald's assistant in the States earns more than I do with a degree over here. I can earn what seems to me to be vast amounts of money elsewhere. Mistake. Taxes. Cost of Living. Especially cost of living... I'd be earing more than I can imagine at present and be as poor as a church-mouse.

A few of my friends have made that mistake. Some of them want to come back, but they can't afford to. Some say they're 'Doing it for their children'. One of them even said that they thought it irresponsible to raise children in SA. I offered to forward their mail to our mutual acquaintances (The ones with children) for comment, but they refrained from taking up my offer.

Point is, the grass is not always greener on the other side. If you have scarce skills: say medical qualifications, the offers are very attractive and you might even be better off after all, but for most of us all that waits across the water are jobs as overqualified and underpaid grunt labour.

Oh yes, but I was forgetting: SA expats are without exception refugees. Money and the desire to leave the third world in order to live in wealthier countries doesn't even enter the equation. Tch! Its all for the kiddies, isn't it? I hope they appreciate it.

And where do bad South Africans go? Canada, New Zealand and Australia mostly. Now you know.

Today's pic: 'I wonder if the next clover flower has more nectar?'