Monday, 13 April 2020

Lockdown Lament!

I wish that I was writing this in happier and more settled times.
We are entering the third week of our Lockdown here in South Africa and although we were hoping that this would be the final week, I think we all knew that it wouldn't be.
Last week our President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Lockdown would be extended for a further two weeks, bringing us to the end of April. But will this be the end?
We wait to see.
For us, here in our little corner of the world, life has not changed. We still only go shopping once a week... stretched to two weeks lately.... and we still enjoy the open, fresh air and the sea breezes. We still chat to friends around us, albeit a lot louder now with them in their gardens and us in ours!! Our hearing is still pretty sharp though, so we manage very well. Last week there was a 'street braai' where everyone stayed in their own garden and bellowed to the neighbours while they were cooking their steak and chops and chicken. We didn't join in... we were just one house too far and add some trees between us and them and it was simply impossible! But they missed us, so they say! I am experimenting with making and baking bread and Rob made a delicious 'Lockdown Potjie' last week.
And I have made material masks for us to use when we go shopping.
Some things we do miss though, walking Alfie and going to feed my 'refugees', my two tabby sisters who live in a friend's garden round the corner. They are being fed though by the lovely people who live in the house where I feed, and I get regular updates on them. Because dog-walking is Strictly Forbidden, Rob can only meander Alfie up and down the pavement and hope that whatever he needs to do, is done! But sometimes Alfie escapes and heads off down the road with Rob in hot (or rather warm) pursuit! Basil still meanders along with them.
The only stores open now are Food and Medical related. But customers are limited and the queues are long and winding with each person having a trolley to keep the distance. This is where being a pensioner comes in handy.. we went shopping about ten days ago, took one look at the snaking queue and decided to leave it. We had been for our flu injections, so we could last another day food-wise. But then I saw a notice in our local Pick n Pay store which basically said that the elderly and doddery and weak and limping (not really those words but it meant that) could go to the front of the queue and we were whisked in by our friendly owner/manager. Rob was walking with a walking stick anyway, and my Achilles tendon was giving me hell, so we actually fitted the bill! It was a pleasure and we were in and out in no time.
Alcohol and tobacco are not considered 'essential' so no (legal) sales are allowed but several alcohol outlets have been looted by those doing some 'after hour shopping'. Schools are closed and children are home but how much home schooling is being done is anybody's guess! There is a lovely saying that goes 'It takes a village to raise a child' to which someone added 'and a whole winery to home-school one'....
Thank goodness for humour.
We are wondering how long our economy (and our people) can cope with the severe lack of earnings, small businesses cannot carry all the financial problems, and many cannot carry on paying their staff. Rob's Tourism business has completely dried up, and we wonder how long things will take to return to some kind of 'normality'... a new normal? Some small businesses have turned to other ways of staying afloat, and we now have beautiful fresh vegetables and fruit delivered to our door by a small husband and wife company who's Guest House delivery has dried up.
We are hoping that some rules will be relaxed and that we shall be allowed to walk the dog, jog or cycle, not that we do the jogging or cycling!
Here are a few numbers for you... in the first week of Lockdown there were 87000 reports of Domestic Violence and hundreds of people have been arrested for breaking the restrictions on travel and movement. Our borders are closed, our skies are empty apart from freight and rescue missions. We have 2173 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and at the last count 24 people had died. We appear to be on top of it.... but are we?
I worry constantly about my family both here and in Spain, the death toll there is horrendous, and they lost a very close family friend two weeks ago, he was only 69. It has hit everyone very hard.
So, here we are on Day 18 of Lockdown.... together with most of the planet... I wonder what I shall be writing next time? Rob and I watched a movie last night called 'Contagion'. It is Fiction that has become Fact, History that is the Present, it is frighteningly real. We are living a movie that was made over ten years ago!
One of my favourite sayings is 'One day we'll look back on this and laugh'.
One day we shall look back... but I doubt we shall laugh.
Stay safe.

Monday, 30 December 2019

No Picnic for these Teddy Bears!

The aloe

If you look at the photos accompanying this post, you may wonder why we have made prisoners of my precious Teddy collection. Well, read on....

Just outside the kitchen there is a small garden surrounded by klippies, and in that garden is an aloe. It's not strictly speaking a tree aloe, but it has grown fairly tall over the years, and it is the same one that a dove chose a few years ago to make her nest. She built a somewhat untidy and rather precarious bundle of bits and pieces and then laid a couple of eggs and settled down to hatch them. But... and this you may remember... she, eggs and nest completely disappeared one night, just poof, gone! We never did discover what happened, we never found a trace of anything.
But, I digress.

One of the commonest bird species here is the Cape Sparrow, or 'mossie' as we call them and they will build a nest anywhere they can find a spot. Under the eaves, in old pots and buckets.... and between the leaves of aloes!
The very same aloe that the poor dove chose.

The nest is clearly visible.

 We watched them build their nest, we watched through the window so as not to disturb them, and they found bits and pieces from far and wide, lining it with some of Alfie's fur and fluffy seeds from the garden. And they built and built and built.

Then.... they saw themselves in the kitchen window!!

They both decided that their reflections were enemies, come to attack and steal their nest, so they attacked their reflections with gusto. Daily we heard the tap tap tap as their beaks hit the glass time and time again. Then they saw the kitchen door and the same thing happened. Upstairs we hung two old cd's so that they spun and reflected the light. That worked for a few days. We stuck coloured paper rolls on the outside of the kitchen door. That worked until the wind blew a corner off and the birds attacked again.

Help!!! Let us out!

 Finally in desperation, Rob wedged a couple of teddies in the window, held in place by the burglar bars, and that did the trick!! I think that the large eyes scared them into thinking a huge bird of prey was lurking in our house.
Luckily I have several bears, and a few more to spare, so we wedged them in every window that the mossies had attacked.... and there was peace!

Who is watching who??

But from the outside our house looked as though we had taken a posse of teddies prisoner and were holding them to ransom!!

And the birds carried on building. But last week they lost all interest in the whole operation, so we took the teddies away and apologised to them for the rough treatment that they had endured.

But..... guess what??

The birds are back and the teddies are re-lodged!!

What is the collective noun for Teddy Bears?? I like a 'cuddle' of teddy bears.

See you in 2020!!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Caution Cats Crossing!

I know that I have mentioned (most probably cursed about) speeding drivers in our little village. Why is it that a 40 sign is read as the minimum speed on the road and let's see what fun it is to skid and slide round corners and why bother to stop at those big red signs... who is going to stop us???

Anyway, daily I fret and worry and check the whereabouts of the cats... usually fast asleep on the bed! Morris has a habit of lurking over the road and suddenly shooting out from the bushes and straight across the road without looking and we have now banned Basil from his daily walks with us. He always walked with us when we take Alfie for his daily trot, but one day last year we were talking to a new neighbour who has a beautiful German Shepherd cross, and Basil heard our voices. Being the nosy cat that he is, he leaped over the wall to see what we were doing, and ran straight under a car that was coming up the road..... He came out from between the wheels, saw the dog and turned around, and ran straight back into the front wheel of the same car. Bouncing off the wheel, he took off up the road like a rocket, cut in front of the car and disappeared. I was convinced that I would find him dead

When I could find him that was. I called and searched everywhere but he was nowhere to be found. Rob in the meantime went into the house... and there was Basil, sitting on the dining table with a black tyre mark on his head, but absolutely fine!

Anyway, digressing as usual, we now make sure that the cats are in and safe before we go off now.
Alfie too has his own troubles as he is now becoming an old man, we have had him for over 12 years and he was at least 2 when I found him, so adding that up.... and he is getting very hard of hearing and sadly his eyes are clouding too.

So, a couple of weeks ago I saw some warning signs on Facebook!! Where else I ask myself!

Aren't they gorgeous?

I ordered two from Ingrid, and literally the next day there was a message from Post Net to say there was a package for me! I had an idea of how and where to mount them, and Rob did the rest!

We re-used a bird-feeder-holder that our neighbour had made for us, and with some clever drilling and hammering, Rob sorted it out.

You can see how close to the road we are.

And here it is...

Attached firmly to the garden wall!

Hopefully people will take note and slow down and think about it. Maybe they will slow down to read it and have a chuckle.

But if it can save the life of any of my cats, or any 'refugee' AKA feral, then I am happy.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Happy V's Day!

Just look at the date..... need I say more?

Valentine's Day has never loomed large on my horizon, mainly because in my life I have received precisely two cards.... one from my best friend... and one that I sent myself!! To myself!

I love the cherub's face!

To me, it's just another day with the same challenges that we faced yesterday (load shedding) and that we shall face today (load shedding) and tomorrow (guess what??)

And as I write this I am keeping one eye on the clock as we are in Stage 3 of Stage 4, and that means more off than on!!

Let me explain the stages:

Stage 1. Eskom (affectionately known as Eishkom) has to shed 1000 megawatts, so they 'share' the power that they have, and that means 1 load shed of 2 hours daily.

Stage 2. Upping the shedding, they have to shed 2000 megawatts... so 2  'outages' of 2 hours daily.

Stage 3. Yes, that means 3 x 2 hours 'outages' daily!!

Stage 4. You guessed it, 4 'shares' of 2 hours daily.

Stage 5. Now, this is the fun part.... Eishkom come to your house and blow out your candles!!!!

This is much funnier to read than to think about!!

We are teetering on the brink of a complete shutdown..... great fun. Eskom is bankrupt!  And basically it all comes down to complete incompetence and lack of skilled people at the top... they are all in Australia, Canada and wherever!! And of course the fact that millions of people do not pay , so every month the losses add up. Throw in corruption and it doesn't take a genius to see that this situation has one ending.....

We are lucky here, we can easily cope with the 'rolling blackouts' as our traffic is light, we only have 3 traffic lights in our nearest town and people here are very patient and well-behaved. Our main shopping centres have generator power. But the bigger cities are a nightmare with traffic snarls and taxis pushing and shoving and small business' struggling to keep going.

Anyway. To all of you who are celebrating Valentine's Day, I do hope that you have your special scented candles at the ready.

Not to make the meal romantic... simply so you can actually see what you are eating!

Happy Valentine's Day!