Monday, 28 May 2018

Technology Troubles!

The old saying goes 'Things happen in threes' and we certainly proved that to be true in the last couple of weeks!

Isn't technology wonderful? Until it goes wrong...goes wrong...goes wrong...

Two weeks ago Rob's laptop decided to download/upload/change/update something, so it closed itself down and put a little notice on the screen, you know the kind of thing 'Do not switch off your computer, we are updating something and this may take a few minutes', or words to that effect. The screen went blue and that little dotted circle thing appeared and started going round and round.

And round and round.

And round and round.

Thirty hours later it was still no further, so time to unplug and take to the local whizz-kids who kept it for a day or so and then said all was well. It was, but then the fan gave in and the noise was so loud that it sounded like a train de-railing. So, back to the whizz-kids who ordered a new fan that had to come from Cape Town. No problem, they sent a photo together with the code/number on the fan, back came two photos from Cape Town, which was correct? The correct one was chosen and pointed out, and guess what? Yes, the wrong one arrived!!

Long story short.... it is now fixed and working and blissfully quiet.

Next... I was sitting in bed drinking my early morning coffee, as we do every day and idly googling something very important on my lovely Samsung Galaxy 4. I put it down to pick up my coffee and the screen froze.... All I could get was a flashing 'Samsung' word and nothing else. I took out the battery, I removed the Sim card, I re-booted and charged it just in case.... nothing.

We have a Mall now!! Been here for about five years I think and of course the shops come and go as they do, but there is one small shop on the ground floor (actually both floors are ground level depending on where you park as the Mall is built on quite a slope) that deals only with mobile devices. So, off we went to ask Mohammed to sort it out. And he tried. He kept it for two days, during which I felt that I had lost a hand! Who would have thought that at my age I would be lost without my mobile? Me, who grew up with phones that you actually had to insert a finger into a hole and dial the numbers! But all was not lost as I had taken an old Nokia along with me that only needed a new battery! Back home we came and I charged the battery as I was told and thought that was great. But the old Nokia didn't hold the charge so back we went with an even older one.... no battery available as it was too old! I must admit, Mohammed was a gentleman as he didn't laugh at the collection of antiques! I did offer them to him to start a museum, but he politely declined!!

Long story short.... Mohammed could do nothing with my Samsung as the motherboard was at fault. (I felt like saying that it must be the fatherboard as mothers keep working whatever the problem...).

I now have a brand new 'cheapie' as I am getting an update Samsung from my daughter next week! But I needed a phone to have working on the journey from here to there... just in case! Anyway, home it came..... but most of my contacts were lost! A few odd ones were saved to the Sim, but the ones I use all the time were missing... gone. And guess what? I had not written them down anywhere but relied (as we all do) on my contact list. Simply scroll down till you find the name and voila... there is the number! I remember my phone number from my childhood PERivale 8272, I can remember my best friend Lorna's number from the same time PERivale 8657, I can remember my dad's work number WHI 1212 (Whitehall 1212.. Scotland Yard) and luckily I remember those closest to me now, my children, sister and Rob, but that is all! So while Rob scrolled through his contacts and gave me the ones that we both had in our phones, I added them to SIM memory so hopefully I have them as long as my phone lasts!

Trouble number 3.... yesterday afternoon someone sent Rob a video, someone he knows, so he opened to watch.... and his Apple S4 froze...... He did all the right things but it remained firmly dead.
Off we went to Mohammed this morning, he was so pleased to see us as we have become quite pally lately! He fiddled, opened and did all those technical things that should have worked. (My technical thing is to throw it across the room.... but I control myself...just) Still nothing.

Long story short..... Rob has a new phone! An Apple, but not a new one. A trade-in one with a good price. Mohammed put the Sim card in and..... no contacts!

Guess what we did for an hour this morning??

Rob re-entered the contacts that he had cleverly written down and then I scrolled through all mine and read those that he had given me, back to him!

Thank goodness we did have that day overlap....

Our friends would never speak to us again!!

Technology? Gotta love it!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Vienna Sausage To The Rescue!

The title may be a tad misleading, I have visions of you imagining a Vienna sausage with a bejewelled cape and a mask, ready to swoop down and save humanity!

Well, it isn't that dramatic, but in a small way, the heroic act of one sausage, saved our feral female cat Bella from a lifetime of pregnancy, unwanted litters of kittens, and more and more problems as each litter grew to maturity and starting breeding!

Read on;

As you may (or may not know), there is a little feral cat family living just over the wall in the farmland behind our neighbour Emma's garden. For several years we have been feeding Blackjack, who recently disappeared from our lives, and the really sad thing is that we don't know what has happened to him. We have searched, called, asked around and searched again, to no avail. We only hope that he moved on and is safely eating someone else's food.

Then last year a fat tortie (tortoiseshell) female arrived in Emma's garden. We tried to trap her but she managed to avoid being caught for a week or so, and then I had to return the trap so we planned to try again in the new year.

Which we did..... try that is, but each time she just would not go into the trap. We tried tuna, salmon, biltong, special pouches of kitten food.... but nothing worked. I even borrowed a second trap because Blackjack kept nudging Bella away from the original trap!

BUT... we were suddenly aware of a gorgeous black and white fellow who arrived one morning with Blackjack and Bella. Young enough to be her kitten! But a teenager, not a tiny. But Blackjack was not to blame because he had been neutered several months before Bella's arrival. So the newcomer was named Peanut, and as he was quite happy to head into the trap, we carted him off to the vet and he came home a little sore, very bewildered, but safely 'fixed'!

And Bella simply chuckled at us all.
And carried on eating and getting fat!

Daily Emma and I looked at her and I said 'We must get her fixed' and Emma said 'She looks pregnant!'....... and life happened and the weeks passed.

Until one day a few weeks ago, Emma called me to say 'Bella's got three kittens!' I went next door, peered over the back wall into the farmland.... and there, sure enough, were three kittens. Two gingers and one darker. But not teeny ones! They had open eyes, they were playing and leaping on each other, chasing leaves and stretching in the sun.

And Bella watched them proudly and looked at us!

So, I knew it was now desperately important to trap her. Goodness knows where she had hidden them until they were big enough to be seen, but there they were. And she would be pregnant again in no time (if she wasn't already).

Emma started giving her extra food for the kittens, and every day Bella came closer and closer to Emma to get her ration of Vienna sausages, one at a time, that she took back over the wall to the waiting babies.
On Monday Michelle dropped the trap off.

Yesterday I used one of Emma's Viennas as bait and set the trap.

I hid round the corner to watch. Both Bella and Peanut arrived, but Peanut isn't very keen on Viennas, so he had a sniff and moved on to the pellets!

Bella walked round the trap which was covered with a towel. She sniffed and sniffed and finally moved to the open door. She stuck her head in and I held my breath. But the smell of the sausage was all she needed.

She went in completely.... and I waited for what seemed hours but was maybe 10 seconds until.....clunk. The trap sprung, the door closed and we had her!

That is one of the best sounds in the world! A door closing on a trapped cat, especially if the cat inside is the one that needed catching.

Off to the vet we went and we picked her up yesterday afternoon. She spent last night in a large dog-size travelling crate, with food and water and room to move and this morning Rob and I carried the box over to Emma's back garden and opened the door expecting her to shoot out like a bullet from a gun.
She walked out quietly, looked at us all gathered there and went off over the wall to her family.
Emma went to peep and they were all together.

Next month?

Three kittens....

I hope that Emma keeps a good supply of Viennas!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Over The Limit!

Last night I took a Breathalyser Test. Not because I wanted to see if I was sober enough to drive, it was bed time anyway and we had spent the evening infront of the fire, watching 'Eastenders' and 'Masterchef Australia' as we do every evening (unless it is the weekend and then it is sport!) We had seen our swimmers and our runners coming first and second at the Commonwealth Games, we had finished our chocolate, and I had finished my two and a half glasses of wine (with plenty of ice).
So as you can see, I wasn't going anywhere but up the stairs!

So why the breathalyser? Read on;

On Monday afternoon we drove through to Saldanha to the Community Hall where a number of our Municipal folks were waiting with their computers and papers to answer any questions/queries/complaints that we Ratepayers of Ward 5 may have. Now, we have been complaining bitterly about the dust from the gravel road that blows into our home like sand in a storm in the Sahara. We have written letters, we have had 'experiments' carried out on the road outside our house, but the wind simply carries on blowing and the dust carries on billowing. We have gathered letters from the neighbours up and down the road and we are fairly desperate to have something done. After all, we pay our rates every month and we get nothing in return. I lie, we have Street Lights! But go and look at Langebaan to see what we could have.. should have!

So, while Rob was getting the latest Budget print out and muttering to the lady about the roads, I wandered off to the next table where there were three very smart men in uniform who I thought were with the Traffic Police, as I wanted them to come and catch all the speeding drivers who ignore STOP signs and help to kick more dust as they fly over the speed-bumps.

They were nothing to do with the Traffic Police actually, they were from the Fire Department, so I told them about the traffic and they promised to pass the message on. And we chatted about all kinds of things and I left with some little books, a cut-out doll to dress in cut-out uniform, a cardboard fire-engine to build.... and two breathalysers!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Welcome to 'The Old Crow'!

Well now, I can hear you all thinking.... at last!
And look how the time has again flown by!!

Reading the title, you may think that this is another chat about birds, well, it's not. Although birds do come into it.

You have read about our caravan Hyacinth, if you have been following my rambles closely, and you may remember that we bought her in 2013!! You also may remember that Rob and I did not fit together into the bed, we managed half an hour on the first night before I shuffled off to the other end and re-arranged the cushions and the table.....

What I did not tell you was the frustration with the curtains in Hyacinth!!! Now, as any woman knows, if there are curtains on a window, they must open and close... easily... at the touch of a hand or the gentle nudge of a finger. Not these!! They looked gorgeous, cream with a navy blue trim at the top, small round metal rings in the navy piece that fitted on to a thin metal rod. They had a 'stop' screw at the end of each rod to prevent the whole curtain sliding off. In theory. In practice the metal rings were too small to slide along the rod, they just went sideways and stuck!! Plus, if you tugged too hard, the whole rod just slipped off the bracket which caused a lot of cursing from me! Rob finally became the Curtain Man as he has far more patience than I have, but it took him ages to get them either open or closed as each little metal hole had to be gently moved bit by tiny bit.......

Moving on.....
Last month Rob decided to take Hyacinth to have her yearly service back at the dealer as we were planning to head off for a week's break. So we emptied every cupboard and hooked her up and off we set to Cape Town. While Rob booked her in, Alfie and I wandered round climbing in and out of the New and also the Previously Loved Caravans..... and I fell in love!

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?