Friday, 24 February 2017

Sport South Africa Style!

We have a sport here in South Africa that is perhaps unique to our country.

Relatively new, it is becoming more and more popular among the younger members of the community.

The teams can number up to six or seven people (usually boys or men), but never only one person. Although it isn't classed as a 'spectator sport', many hundreds or even thousands of people are affected by the result.
You will need a bakkie or truck, a pick, shovels, rope or a chain, and definitely gloves, and it is only played after dark.

The rules are simple
1. Do not get caught.
2. Do not get burned.
And the name of the sport?

Cable Theft!

Once you know how to do it, you can do it anywhere! Find the correct place, usually where a cable has just been laid so the ground is still soft. Dig down to the cable and put a chain or a rope round it. Fasten to the back of the bakkie and drive off very fast! The cable is ripped out of the ground and dragged away to a safe place for stripping.

And it is catching on fast, spreading from town to town. Here in Vredenburg some business people have taken to burying the cables in cement and doing night watch with a shotgun across their knees

Last night we were sitting quietly watching television, thinking about heading  to bed, when the lights flickered and then steadied at half strength. This is known as a 'brown out' and will kill any appliance that relies on a motor, like a fridge, a computer and a fishpond pump!

Even though we still had some dim lighting, the entire village was minus the street lights, so there were little blobs of dull glimmering instead of the usual bright, reassuring, lighting.
But, the stars were magical! And we stood and stared at them for a while until I felt small and vulnerable. And I was worried about standing on a scorpion too!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Gardening Builder's Style!

When we moved in to this house ten years ago now, I was desperate to start the garden! Anywhere that I could prod a spade or fork further than a few centimetres was quickly deepened and widened to make a hole big enough to plant a something!

There were some odd beige/green things growing that I left to prove that they were worth keeping, and thriving away between the huge pile of rocks that had been exploded (is that a word??) to make way for foundations, was a lovely green plant.

I had no idea what it was, but it was green, it was growing and I watered it daily in the hope that it would bloom and multiply! It was the beginning of my garden!

I also noticed that the builders next door were constantly looking over into the garden when I was busy, and seemed to be checking up on my plant too. 'Wow', I thought, 'these guys are also interested to see what is growing here.'

But, they actually knew what it was!

One evening I called Phillip over to have a look and see if he could identify the plant that by now was as tall as me. The leaves were a darkish green with a seven-fingered look about them, and each 'finger' had a slightly serated edge. Like this:

A healthy dagga leaf!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Seven Days = One Week!

I am sitting here, it's nearly 'wine-o'clock' (aka evening), and the weather can't decide what to do! We have had alternating fog and sun all day, with flitting shadows...... but still not a drop of rain. So we continue to catch every dribble that we can in our trusty plastic bucket, and carry it out to our waiting plants. When I see the temperatures that some of the inland towns climb to at midday, I am ever thankful for our wind!

It has been a week that started off very sadly. Amy (she of cat trap, neuter and release fame) phoned on Sunday morning in a state of desperation. Her two dogs had cornered one of the ferals in the garden and were literally shaking it to death. I leapt in the car and drove down in case of an emergency rush to the vet, and Rob joined me there.

But, sadly we were too late. The cat was dead and Amy was devastated, feeling guilty and sad and angry and useless and back to sad and angry and guilty. Rob and I consoled her as best we could and brought the little body home to bury in the garden and join all the souls gathered by St Gertrude.
And there we hit rocks as we always do in this garden. But we persevered and he is lying close to the others under the manatoka trees that look very sad at the moment as they are drooping with thirst.
But, I think with the digging, I strained my shoulder!

My right shoulder.

And without the use of that shoulder, I was unable to do anything!

Now, this is where you find out who your friends are......... Rob was happy to hang washing and do the odd bit of dusting and cooking and I struggled to shower and wash my hair and dress myself! Pulling up knickers and trousers one-handed took me ages.  And, have you ever tried to use a roll-on deodorant upside down? Let me explain.

As I could not lift my arm at all, I had to bend over at the waist and let my arm hang down a bit. Then, using the deodorant upside down, I had to roll it on as best as I could. But, once the roll-on was upside down, it wouldn't work! It was like trying to write with a ball-point pen on the ceiling....... the ink won't flow!

Even Alfie was offended at the shoddy way the bed had been 'made' and as for ironing, well, that is waiting patiently for my recovery! (That was one thing that didn't bother me....)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday passed in a blur of pain and frustration. I could only sleep on my back, so Rob was bombarded by my snores! On Thursday it started feeling a little easier and by yesterday, thanks to painkillers and anti-inflammatories, I was just about back to normal.

But, the really vexing thing about not being able to use my right hand was......

I couldn't use the computer!
I managed to get into my emails using my left hand.

For a whole week I could not do the daily jigsaw! I tried, I really did. But my left hand is just not able to cope with the intricacies of manipulating the bits and sorting the edges from the inside bits! And my right hand was twitching with frustration.

So, yesterday I did a week of puzzles in one day.

And now I think I have 'jigsaw shoulder' as my shoulder aches again!

Friday, 3 February 2017

I Queue...You Queue!

I seem to have done a lot of queuing this week! And I have realised that different queues have different 'personalities' so to speak! Depending on where you are and what time it is.

My first queue was on Wednesday lunchtime when I needed to get more cat food from the Vet. Now, that's a jolly queue with lots of 'ooohs' and 'aahs' and 'oh shame' as people (and sometimes their pets) shuffle happily backwards and forwards, stroking and patting, or opening and closing the door to let the resident cats in or out. There is a basket placed on the counter that contains cats! There must be six or seven cats that have been rescued over the years, and handed in to find new homes, and the minute they get through the door..... they are home! They curl up in the basket only relinquishing their spot when they need to have a snack or go out when nature calls. Then there is always another to take their place!

So, I stood in the queue for about fifteen minutes and listened to the chat going on. Nobody was in a hurry, and some of the owners were giving advice on how to stop scratching (their pets I assumed), or what cream will cure mange (ditto), or the best way to cut canine toe-nails! Great fun. I heard the receptionist telling a new customer about the time they were 'given' a cat whose one back leg was so badly damaged that the vet had to amputate it. It was later adopted by an elderly gentleman who only had one leg. He was more than happy to give the cat a good, loving home, as he said that they were both a little lopsided!

Then it was off to the local supermarket for some essentials! And Wednesday is Pensioner's Day! The good news is there are specials! The bad news is there are queues! And....pensioners do not like queuing. Their time is too precious. I was quite happy to lean on the handle of the trolley and wait my turn at the till, but many of the blue-rinse brigade become agitated at the wait. Maybe they are thinking of lunch, maybe they are thinking of their bladders, but twice the woman behind me pushed her trolley into my heels! Not pleasant! There isn't much chat at those queues, mainly loud sighs and 'tuts' and 'why haven't they got more tills open?' And the occasional breaking of wind as us elderly tend to do!

But then came Thursday!

Thursday was apply for my new driving licence day!

So after my morning at the Hospice shop, and armed with my photos, my ID book and my copy of the rates account from Saldanha Municipality as proof of residence, I arrived at the Traffic Department and the parking ground was full! I groaned to myself and decided to get the green form, fill it out and if the queue was snaking all over the place, I would leave!

But it was not overwhelmingly full in the sit-and-wait area. I think there was a learner test being conducted in one room and a few people were milling round waiting for them. So I filled out my A, B and D parts of the form and joined the twenty or so people clutching green forms and ID books and photos. I sat next to a lady who must have been 85 in the shade. Well, if she is still driving then I have years to go.......

But I tell you, that lady knew exactly who was next in the queue! The queue had absolutely no system. We were simply a bunch of people sitting on two rows of chairs facing each other. I had no idea who was in front of me and who was behind me..... but she did! As each person went into the eye-testing and paper-handing-in room, she made every one shuffle up or move over one seat! Backwards and forwards we moved, from one side to the other, like sheep we did as we were told and all I knew was, I was next but one from her! After her was a young girl, and then it was me! Every now and then her daughters came in to see if she was alright. She sent them off on errands, fetch her water, purse, she had left her ID book in the car, and they scurried to and fro while we all watched and laughed along with her.

It was a long wait, I think I was there over an hour and a half, but it was extremely entertaining and no-body was confused or annoyed. There were several different conversations going on at once, in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and much laughter. As new folks arrived, they were promptly told where to stand and who to follow.

I have a feeling that she was a retired teacher!

And then she was gone, the next girl went in...... and it was my turn!

We have very sophisticated equipment at our testing centre, the latest technology that makes re-doing the licences a breeze......... when they work!

Yesterday only one machine was working, so that made the wait longer than necessary. The problem is this (because I asked!) Although the technology is German, the people using it are South African. We are a long way from Germany when/if things go wrong..go wrong..go wrong.

But once it is back to normal, there won't be any need for anyone to direct the queue.....

Each office has its own queue!

But will they be as much fun!