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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The prodigal brother

I'll think of something that's good about my brother at some point, but at the moment, he isn't showing to advantage, and given that I've seen him only fleetingly in the last ten years, his recent gyrations are all I have to form an opinion with.

Firstly, there was the identification of the furniture he wanted. That mom was still alive at the time didn't seem to weigh with him. Then he insisted on being there for the reading of the will: well, given that its only one page, I thought it most convenient to give it to him to read for himself.

He thinks my mom was made of money. Every time he sailed his barque off point non plus, she'd produce the ready and rhino at the drop of a hat. She told me last year that she'd had to sell the last of her investments to save him from bankruptcy owing to a very bad business venture.

The earlier investments were sold because he'd maxed out his credit card and was behind on his (astronomical) mortgage - and those before that - and so on. Mom explained that he'd had his pound of flesh, and she'd bequeath what was left to me. She said it was only fair. She also said she'd explained that to him.

He's acting surprised (although he admits that Mom did have a little talk with him as mentioned above). He's hideously envious of the 'riches' that I'm to inherit - that this consists of fixed property I won't be able to sell easily and that this lot will land me with a whole bunch of taxes and legal fees and nothing to pay them with doesn't stop him from pulling a long face. Oh yes, I got the dogs too, but at least he doesn't envy that. Just thinks I should have had them put down.

I've told him he can have whatever he wants of the contents of the house, and he's making all speed to empty it before I can change my mind - even though he doesn't want or need most of it. Its almost indecent, really. What IS indecent, is the fact that he's pocketed the money my rich uncle sent towards the funeral.

Its not a small amount. I paid those costs, he announced Uncle's generous contribution in the presence of my cousin so that I could thank the family for it, but I haven't seen a penny. I'm not going to fight with him about it. My guess is that its spent already anyway. I wonder how he justifies it to himself?

I seem to remember that the legal term 'prodigal' is used to describe one who is quite unable to manage money in any way: perhaps that's his problem. I'm inclined to think he's just impractical, selfish and greedy. Maybe that's the same thing.

The interesting fact is that we had exactly the same upbringing. I honestly wouldn't have been upset if my mom had left me nothing. All that matters is that she's not there any more. Nothing can make up for that. Perhaps its a convincing argument for nature being stronger than nurture.

Today's pic: One of the beaches near Hermanus - nearly as empty as my brother's head.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Image crisis!

Yowich! Look at me! I have become a matriarch! This is so not rock and roll...

Alright, I admit it, I like it, but two weeks ago I was an unencumbered bachelorette and now I'm a 'mother' of five and must carry it off with becoming grace while still being true to my 'rock chick', heavy metal image. Its a tough one: this is shockingly un-gothic.

At the risk of turning this into a 'mommy blog', I will elaborate. Ahem:

I might get away with this one

even though he's obsessed with his ball. He might be soppy, but he doesn't look soppy. On the occasions when his choppers aren't buried in his ball, they're pretty impressive and of course he's a big dog. Pity about the pedigree, but its not his fault, really. Fortunately the breed is not well-known, so I could pretend he was a German Shepherd-cross.

This one's already going to a bit difficult to live down image-wise, but she does have a certain 'je ne sais quois'. I don't know what it is (as the term implies) so I needn't elaborate. Maybe its the pale eyes - anyway, there's a hint of the dangerous about her even though she's awfully keen to please and a little bit timid. Maybe its because she's female?

But this one! This one takes the cake and probably the teacups and everything else along with it. This one does not rock.

Alright, so his image has improved a little since I changed his name from 'Snowy' to 'Snowbeast', but the fact remains: He's a lap dog. He goes 'Yaf Yaf Yaf' and is only likely to be dangerous if he fluffs you to death. I'm madly fond of the little devil already, of course, but somehow I know: Even if I buy him a black collar with six-inch spikes - he'll just never be rock and roll.

Tch. Oh well, I'll find a way to compensate. That should be fun.

PS: The cats will feature at some point, but they Rawk! All cats do...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When a Country Village gets a name for being Picturesque, you may as well hang it.

Stanford was quite a nice little place when my mother moved there: a dusty little Victorian Village with a few houses huddled around a village green. Then it became famous.

I think it became famous for being pretty and quiet and out of the way, and possibly for having ‘atmosphere’. Of course, as soon as it became famous for being out of the way etc, it suddenly became very much in the way. Burned-out yuppies from every part of the country purchased land and built holiday houses. The village became a construction site. I knew the rot was terminal when they tarred the roads and put in street lights.

When a village this size suddenly becomes a tourist destination, the next step is the de-usefulization of the main street. This culminates in a situation where the tiny business district contains three antique shops that sell hideously expensive bric-a-brac, no less than five restaurants that change hands like hot potatoes, an art gallery and a tourist information center.

The only useful shops left are a general dealers in the old style, a filling station with convenience store, a greasy take-away foods and a library. Its not much use when you’re looking for chicken to serve up to an invalid – you can, however, purchase the ailing patient a painting or an antique brass whatnot.

The old, cheerfully doggy set with their scuffed walking shoes and shaggy sweaters have given way to the sort of 4x4 drivers who need tarred roads (which is probably why they tarred the things in the first place- for the 4x4’s) and who complain about everything from dogs (they bark, you know) to kid’s parties (a mad debauch at lunch time on a Saturday, for shame!).

I don’t like this town much any more, really.

Today’s pics: Stanford, of course. At least the mountains are still magnificent.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sometimes, you smile anyway

There have been some really horrible times for me in the last weeks, but its funny how there are always things to smile about no matter how bad things get.

On the night Mom died, I dreamed that a strong wind was blowing, and when I jumped, I was carried for miles on it. It was fun. ‘Look mom, I’m flying!’. The next morning, I went to Windt Broers (Wind brothers) – the undertakers and made the necessary arrangements with them.

My aunt seems to think that my dream was deeply spiritual, but I think it was just a subconscious association with the name ‘Windt’. Whatever it was, it was a darned good dream, and I’ve no objection to being thought spiritual, especially since I'm not and would like to be.

Then there was the matter of the will. How I hunted for it. How my brother jittered about the fact that I was still hunting. I found it in the end - it was in the in the fridge. I love you Mommy.

My brother and I worked on each others’ nerves again, and after an incident in which he stormed out of the house in a huff because I insisted that I’d find the missing cat, and he thought I oughtn’t try, I made an excuse (I’d caught the cat) and drove the 400km home through pouring rain and in the middle of the night.

I’ve done the trip eight times in the last weeks with never a problem, but of course two ‘o clock in the morning in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark and in a fierce storm is the worst possible time to have a flat tyre – so of course that’s what happened. Its funny, now – the cat and I, and him howling like anything while I wanted to howl like anything and the wind howling louder than either of us ever could while the rain came bucketing down out of utter blackness.

The only event of unrelieved sadness was having to put the oldest dog down. She collapsed next day and there was nothing for it. I suppose it goes with the territory.

Then there was the funeral: I didn’t want to go, but of course, one must. I dreaded it until a shaggy mostly-collie-dog walked into the church and investigated everything, running up and down the aisle and sniffing the organist and what have you. My mom would have loved that, and everyone knew she’d have loved it, so no-one chased the dog away. It was better than flowers, really it was.

Today’s pic: another part of my mom’s priceless legacy - Hamish 'ball-biter' Zoutendyk of I-forget-which kennel.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Living Legacy

I'm back after a fashion. Its been a pretty torrid time. Mom's operation didn't go well, and shortly after we were told that her cancer is widespread, rapid and terminal she had to be re-hospitalized, had a heart attack, developed water on the lung and goodness knows what besides.

As I write, she hovers between life and death in Intensive Care. They've put her under sedation, so she won't know that I'm not there. There isn't any point in being there to watch her sleeping and wired up like the bionic mom anyway.

During the week that she was at home, I nursed her, but now there's nothing to do. If she temporarily recovers from this lot, I'll be needed, so its best I save my time off. In the mean time my brother and worse-than-useless sister in law turned up, and they can keep an eye on things.

I'm pretty proud of myself. I handled the single-handed home nursing darned well and tolerated various bodily secretions and excretions without turning a hair. I remained cheerful (at least on the surface) and in control (ditto).

On the night that she was re-admitted to hospital, I had a good cry and a rant and behaved like a mad thing, but there was nobody to see, so it didn't hurt anyone and it turned out to be constructive.

Then my brother turned up and the first thing he did was to point out which of her antiques he would like to have. I didn't murder him. I think I deserve a pat on the back for that.

My sister-in-law is a bit ghoulish and can't resist chattering about death and illness with hardly a pause for breath. I didn't murder her either, but its a jolly good thing I left them to it or I wouldn't have been able to hold it in and there'd have been bad blood or lots of blood depending on how badly I let go. As it is, we parted on good terms.

They're useless with mom's pets: one of the first things they did was to speculate as to how to stop them sleeping in my mom's room, which they've always done. I raised a hackle at that, and so the status quo remains intact, but I'll be rescuing them from the tender mercies on Sunday when they'll move to my house. I haven't had pets for a while, but now I'll have four dogs and two cats. My brother wants to have them put down, but I promised mom I'd take care of them and that's what I'll do.

If she recovers a little, she'll be moving to my town where she can either stay with me or, more likely, be in a hospice or frail care where I can regularly visit her. To be honest with you, I rather hope she dies while under sedation. It will be a mercy to her. Sounds brutal, but its true. She even said 'If I was a dog, you'd have put me down. I wish I was a dog.'

Oh well, I don't mean to post about this too often, but its pretty much what's on my mind at present. Today's pic: one of the dogs that's soon to be mine - a good legacy to be trusted with - and much better than a bunch of antique furniture I won't have space for anyway!