Thursday, 1 February 2018

Now You See Them, Now You Don't!

This is the first blog of 2018 and although we are now at the end of the first month and are therefore one twelfth of the way through the year, I do hope that this year is a really good one. Rob worked out that there are only 327 days left until Christmas!!

Here we are hoping and praying for rain. Not that we are due any until at least the end of May, but we are in a crisis situation here in the Cape. Cape Town has water until the middle of April (although that date keeps changing as the amount of water the Capetonians use fluctuates weekly, but at the time of writing this, daily usage was 580 000 000 litres... yes, DAILY) so we had all better get used to queuing for our allocated 25 litres per day..........

Wonderful people up-country where the rain is plenty and the dams are full, are collecting water by the truckload (literally), and removal companies are bringing thousands of litres of water down to the Cape for use in animal shelters.

Anyway, life goes on (but not for my garden which is dry, dusty and for the most part, dead!) and we have cut our water usage drastically. The words 'If it's yellow let it mellow' are heard everywhere, our showers are fast and trickly, my washing machine is programmed to cut out a rinse and we catch all that water for garden use.

But, by far the most water usage goes..... to the birds!

We have five bird baths, one outside for general consumption, and four inside for the birds, our cats and probably the bokkie who still comes nightly for his/her apple and mealies.

Keeping them full is Rob's responsibility and he does it diligently!!
We have rain tanks that we use for this purpose and usually he can keep up with demand.
But for the last few months we have had the Pied Starlings here. In droves. By the hundred. And they like to crowd in the manatoka trees and eat the berries when they are ripe. So we have had days of squabbling, squawking, chirping and flapping as hundreds of them crowd into the trees and then descend onto the birdbaths!

Sadly I cannot get photos to upload anymore for some obscure reason, so you have to picture the splashing, shoving, flapping and swimming that goes on. We have counted over twenty starlings at a time trying to get to the water. I even made a little rhyme, to the tune of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' and it goes like this.....

Sing a song of ten rand, a pocket full of chaff,
Four and twenty starlings crowding in the bath.
When the bath was empty the birds they did complain,
So out went Rob with water and it all began again.

Did you sing it? I bet you did!

Rob filled every bath at least five times every day. The baths were empty of water but full of mud and the seeds from the manatoka trees! Mud from the dust from the birds, and the seeds are what they spit out or regurgitate once they have eaten the fleshy part of the fruit. A bit like us with litchis!! And the seeds are tiny and sticky, so they stick to shoes and get transferred to the floors inside. And boy, do they hurt when they are trodden on with bare feet!

But, I digress.

This water-carrying has happened daily for the last three months. And suddenly yesterday I noticed that there was not one Pied Starling in the garden or the trees or the baths! Not one.

And today I have seen one in the rhus tree and Rob has seen one on the bath rim.
And that is it!

Gone, moved on, no goodbye, no thank you!

Here's the question..... can we blame Social Media for this??

Are they all on Twitter... and did they get a 'tweet'?

Makes you think doesn't it?

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017

Last day before 2017 slides into the sea and 2018 climbs into view tomorrow morning!
Where on earth has this year gone?
How did it get past me so quickly?

So, being time to reflect on the year as it grinds down, I decided that I would give you a sort of alphabetical list of the things that were (to me at least) the memories of 2017.....

A.. Ants. As the garden has become drier and drier, we have been inundated with the little buggers. They bite naked flesh, so gardening has been a challenge as I have to hop and swipe and curse every few seconds.

B.. Birthday. Yes, I know they come round every year but it's not every year you hit a milestone and this year was the Year Of The 70th! As they say in the classics 'Good Grief!'

C.. Cursing. I have done a lot of that this year, from gardening (see A above), to listening and watching the news. Not good for blood pressure! (see M below)

D.. Dust. This may seem a silly thing but our road remains un-tarred and every car/truck/bakkie/builders mate that hurtles past our house leaves behind a cloud of dust that wafts happily onto the veranda and into the house to settle on everything it can. Then there is a lot of C (see above).

E.. Elephants still under threat from poachers. This leads to a lot of C (see above), and thoughts of gory things that I would love to do to poachers that involve blood and pain.

F.. Fish. We have eaten our way through many kilos of hake. Battered, crumbed, grilled or fried, we eat hake at least four times a week. My favourite fish is any that I have not had to cook and especially the hake from St Helena Nursery and Coffee Shop!

G.. Garden. I have watched much of my garden die this year from a serious lack of water. But it has led to clever 'dead' areas of the garden being re-modelled with klippies and pots and a bench. The latest invention is... a wooden 'lugtoring' or lighthouse, complete with solar lights! A boer maak 'n plan!

H.. Hiccups. Have you noticed that you can go for weeks, months without having hiccups? Then suddenly they arrive three or four times in one day and leave you exhausted and fed up? Drink water from the wrong side of the glass... works every time!

I.. Influenza. Avoided that this year, again, thanks goodness. We had our 'flu jabs at the start of the season and wore garlic round our necks when we went shopping!!

J.. Jacobsbaai... what else! But sadly our little village has grown and crept over areas that we were told would never be developed. It has doubled in size, at least, since we moved here nearly eleven and a half years ago. Hence the cursing at builders and all associated with them. But also, the new houses are all huge monstrosities that cover every inch of plot and certainly do not follow the 'quaint fisherman type accommodation' that was the whole idea in the first place!! But having said all that, it is still the best place to live!

K.. Klippies or little stones. I must have bought several tons of these this year to spread over the re-modelled bits of my garden!

L.. Lekker by die see..... roughly translated means 'lovely at the sea', but it is one of those wonderful Afrikaans sayings that just do not translate!

M.. Medical Stuff. Yes, as we get older we visit the doctor more, and worry about our heart and bowels! Blood pressure medication, cholesterol pills, heartburn muti, we carry it all around with us, terrified to miss a day! We have a wonderful doctor, I love going to see him as we have a good chat and a laugh and I can hear him mentally adding up how much more he now has towards fixing the wind-pump on the farm!

N.. Neighbours. I have mentioned our wonderful neighbours before. Where or who else, could you phone with a request for something important that you forgot to buy and know that they are either on their way to, or in, or just near enough to turn round and head back to, our local Pick n Pay? Emma, I thank you for all the chats, gifts and laughs that we have enjoyed this year, over the wall!

O.. Oyster Catchers. We have these beautiful black birds with their bright red beak and legs here in our baai. They nest on the beach and among the rocks on the little islands offshore and we hear their squeaky-toy call daily. They are one of the many different bird species that grace our village and we are truly lucky to see them.

P.. Politics...... there is nothing nice that I can say about our 'great' politicians, from the president down. In fact, enough said. (See M and blood pressure.)

Q.. Quiet. One of the reasons we chose to live here is for the peace and quiet that we enjoy throughout the year. Even though our village has grown, there are still no shops (apart from a little keffie), no bottle stores, no garages, no schools, no through-road to anywhere else, so apart from the three short weeks over the Christmas period, our quiet remains.... and long may it do so!

R.. Rob. Another year of laughs and companionship and damn fine soup! We have been together since February 1998, so we are a couple of months off our 20th anniversary, and in the words of the old old song 'And it don't seem a day too much...' With 2018 coming up, we hope to enjoy more of the same, plus more trips in the caravan with Alfie to distant lands (not too distant as Alfie doesn't have a passport!)

S.. Shrinkflation. A lovely word (but not the concept) this! It crept up on us un-noticed until it was mentioned on the radio. So, we now have things like this; a 2 litre tub of ice-cream is now only 1.8 litre at a higher price, a 3kg bag of Friskies cat food is now 2.9 kg, but the price has gone up from R114 to R144....... these are just two examples but to focus on it leads to another S word, stress, and that leads to C and M (see above).

T.. I just asked Rob what I could do for T... his answer? Scones!! I should have known better!

U.. Umbrella. We have several of these gathering dust. Unused this year, and for several years before this, we have children now asking what they are and what they are used for.... Maybe I could use them for bird feeders or pot-plant holders.

V.. Visitors. Lovely lovely family and friends! I just need my sister to come to see us now..... Rob's daughter and partner left just yesterday after a flying visit, and tomorrow I am driving to Stellenbosch to my daughter, and then... joy of joys, we are meeting my son and two of his three gorgeous children! (We shall miss Irina and Sasha, but hopefully next time). A wonderful week of having my kids together and I can't wait! I know that really this is taking place next year.... but I am stretching the rules. After all, it's my blog!

W.. Water. The word that is on everyone's lips here in the Cape. We are in a crisis situation with dams close to empty. The taps will run dry sometime in April unless we have 3 years of above average rainfall before then. And seeing that our rain is only expected in May (if then), we are in deep s**t. Here on the West Coast, our annual average rainfall is 422 mm, but this year we only had 179 mm. Rob and I are saving every drop that we can, we have funnels and 2 litre plastic bottles in the showers to collect the first cold water. We collect washing water for the garden, and we are wearing our outer clothing more than once. We have dropped our consumption to 3 kilolitres,that is about 50 litres each daily. As my friend says 'I have a bucket list.. a bucket in the shower, one in the kitchen......'

X.. X-ray. My thumb is excruciatingly sore. I cannot bend it at all, so I may need one of these soon.

Y.. Yell. This is what you do several times a day if you see the following; a snake, a scorpion, a cat bringing a live mouse into the house, speeding drivers who raise a cloud of dust behind them (see D above), or if you want to attract your neighbours attention to ask them to please bring a small plain yogurt home from Pick n Pay because you forgot it even though it was written on the list. But the list was left at home, hence the need to yell. (See N above).

Z.. Zuma. This ties in well with Y and P and M, especially the blood pressure. Hopefully by next December 31 he will be history......

Happy New Year Everyone!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Santa Paws Is Coming To Town!

Surprise! Surprise?

This morning I decided to get my A into G and write a blog before the end of the year! It actually took me a few minutes to remember how to do it... but never mind, I forget things easily (especially how to sweep and dust... and cooking is fading fast) these days.

So I thought that as left you hanging last time, surely desperate to hear how things are going/went with Santa Paws, the least I could do was to update the news!

I had great fun filling my bags! Food, toys (a home made catnip rabbit, sadly minus the catnip as I didn't have any), useful articles and blankets all went in, and I proudly put them into the spare room, idly wondering if the room would be large enough to hold all the bags once they came pouring in.
And slowly, slowly the bags began to trickle in.

It was great fun shopping for all the bits and pieces for my two bags, and then four beautifully presented bags arrived. My friends rallied round and helped my final tally to..... drum roll......14... yes, fourteen bags are now ready for me to deliver to the beneficiaries in this area. They are neatly placed in the spare room and although I wish there were more, I think fourteen is a pretty good number for the first time. (Note just through from the Admin at Santa Paws..... they have 120 bags for Ronel!!! That is amazing!)

Both Alfie and Basil have been great helpers.. Alfie spent a lot of time sitting staring into one bag. I finally went to look and there was a beautiful new tennis ball!

Basil on the other hand, just wanted to climb into every bag and there were all kinds of rustling and scrabbling noises for a while!

Will I do it next year?

That's for sure... I am hoping for at least 30.......

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that Santa Paws visits you too.

I am so sorry but I cannot upload the photos that I wanted to show you. I am doing all the right moves, but it simply refuses to put the photos in the text!! Highly frustrating!! HELP!!!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Santa Cause For Paws!

Being the beginning of October, we shall soon be hearing the strains of 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Mary's Boy Child' accompanying our trundle round the shopping centres, as we gaily fling pasta and dog food into our trolleys. The cashiers get into the spirit too by wearing jolly red hats with white pompoms and bells, but it certainly does not help when each week every single item is up by at least 20%.... and we are told that inflation is actually on the decrease..... ha ha and Merry Rubbish!!

So, I had a pleasant surprise when I meandered my way through Facebook a few weeks ago and saw a post for 'Santa Cause for Paws'. Having never heard of it, but extremely interested in anything to do with animals, I delved further.

(All the photos are thanks to the Official Santa Cause for Paws Facebook page.

And I was hooked!

This is an easy and fun way to give a gift to an animal in a Shelter, or to an organisation like SPCA... and this year to our own 'Animal Lighthouse', here in Vredenburg. All you have to do is go onto their Facebook page, just search for 'Santa Cause for Paws', and follow the instructions. Pledge a box for a dog, cat, puppy or kitten, and you will receive an email with a printable label that must be attached to the box before the box is dropped off at the nearest drop-off place. On the label is a list of goodies to be included, namely: two food items, something warm like a blanket, a toy, something useful like a bowl or flea treatment or a collar for a dog and an item for the staff like food (non-perishable of course!)

The goody-box check list.

Easy so far......But, when I went on to pledge my box, the nearest drop-off point was in Cape Town, some 120 kms from us. So, I decided to send a message to the organisers and ask if there was a closer place seeing as our Shelter was one of the beneficiaries this year.

And that started a lovely chat between 'them' and me! And as there was nowhere closer, I volunteered to be a Western Cape drop-off point.

How could you resist this little face?

That is when I had my second brainwave (the first being to make a pledge). I asked Phillip if he would be happy to be a drop-off too as everyone around here knows Scotts Kwekery (Nursery) and it is on the main road, not tucked away like our village is!

Well, after much to-ing and fro-ing between me and... AUSTRALIA... yes, that is where the girl who started the 'Santa Paws' movement lives now (she is ex-Johannesburg.... one of thousands), I am now officially a drop-off point, as is the nursery, and the town of Vredenburg is now listed on the official drop-off list! All very important!

See, everyone enjoys a gift!

So I am now collecting my goodies for my boxes (one cat and one dog) and must head to the mall to gather all sorts of interesting items.

I may even sing along to Boney-M.......

I just hope that a lot more people pledge for this area, or I shall be delivering only my boxes!