Thursday, 6 December 2018

A Bouquet to Pick n Pay!

I know that I have mentioned our 'Load Shedding' (aka rolling blackouts) before, and told you the (by now) stale joke about Eskom and candles.... and guess what...here we go again, the Dark Ages are here just in time for Christmas!! Eskom apologises profusely (ha ha ha) and blames a whole lot of things, but basically it is sheer incompetence and overspending on parties and salaries that is the main cause.

Anyway, what with that, plus inflation running at about 94%, petrol increasing every month, a severe lack of water, an increase in murder and mayhem, the future looks pretty bleak!

But, every now and then, just sometimes, I am surprised and overwhelmed by those small acts of kindness. Those people who restore my faith in humaity for just a little while.

Read on...........
This is the second year that I have been involved with a wonderful Animal Charity that is called 'Santa Cause for Paws'. Basically they collect gifts for shelter animals, and towards Christmas time they visit the shelters and hand out all the delicious and useful things that have been gift-wrapped, or put into bags. Because there was no 'Drop-off' place here in my area last year, I volunteered to be a Main Drop-Off, and our neighbour who owns the local plant nursery, was co-erced into being a Minor Drop-Off (by me of course!! Thanks Phillip!) I am sad to say, Vredenburg was a little slow  again, but I did receive some wonderful boxes and bags from friends, as well as receiving some gifts that were pledged through the web-site.

Now, some people want to give a box of goodies, but do not have the time or the energy to go off and shop! So they can pledge money and then the volunteers have the most enjoyable time buying food, blankets, toys and useful stuff!

This year I am also shopping for 23 dogs and cats from pledges that came for Animal Lighthouse, the local shelter that is run by one person!

Each animal, 10 dogs and 13 cats, has to have individual gifts with a tag attached to give the name of the animal and the name of the person who sent the gift. That left me with a quandary..... how to pack all the things? Boxes? Bags?

Then bingo! A plan!

Yesterday, being Wednesday,  we went shopping. Our Pick n Pay stores (we have two now, our usual 'go to' store in Vredenburg and a new super-store in the Mall). Yes, we have a Mall! Grabbing the re-usable shopping bags gave me an idea. Maybe if I asked nicely, Pick n Pay would donate 23 bags for my gift packing?

Greg, our local Pick n Pay Manager.

Off to find the owner. He was not available at either store, but at the Mall I spoke to the Manager, Greg Holloway. After I had explained my mission (I had already spent over a thousand rand on dry and tinned food alone in Vredenburg) he immediately said
 'How many bags do you want? Does it matter what colour?'

Ready to be packed next week! That will be fun!

And we left with a rainbow of coloured bags!

As the advert goes.... Give that man a Bells!

I could have hugged him.... but I am sure that he would have preferred the Bells!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Refugee Upgrade!

Those of you have have remained faithful to my writings (even with the lengthy gaps in between each post), will have read the words 'feral cats' several times! Some of these precious souls have become part of our family, some have been homed to special people, some were released after trapping and neutering and have never been seen again.....and some have simply remained where they were trapped and later released, wobbly from the anaesthetic, but free to live without breeding.

Two of these gorgeous girls live just around the corner, and because they were trapped and fixed in July and come from Jacobsbaai, it was fitting to give them names beginning with...J

So Jasmine and Juniper they are! Lovingly referred to by us as 'The Refugees'. Our wonderful neighbours gave us a lovely kennel for them, and so they are warm and fed and safe and happy. Jasmine has become tameish.... she sits on the wall where I feed and waits until she sees me walk into the driveway of the lovely people who let me meander up their drive daily to feed them. Once the food is down I can stroke her, but not Juniper, she is still very wary and waits in the background until all the lovey-dovey stuff is done!

The Refugees little home and garden!

Friday, 23 November 2018

Kittens in the Kitchen!

I was happily pottering in the garden about two weeks ago (ignoring the nagging thought that there was a small pile of ironing waiting for me), when a neighbour pulled up outside our gate, hopped out and called to me.......

And what she said made me so angry that I could feel my blood pressure rising and my head getting tight!

'I need your help please', she said 'Someone has DUMPED six kittens at the bottom of the road. Can you please help?'

Well........................
Two minutes later I had grabbed the cat box, hopped in her car and arrived at the end of the road. Another neighbour came out to tell us that she had collected them in case of 'scattering', and had put them safely inside a box, on a blanket. But because she was highly allergic to cats, she did not want to touch them too much and was already itching and sneezing!

And there they were. Six perfect, beautiful kittens. Not newborn, these had wide open eyes, and I put them at between 6 and 8 weeks old. But.... no mummy cat with them. So, where had they come from? By clever deduction we worked out that they must have been dumped there just after 8 o' clock, when Rob and I were sitting in bed drinking our coffee! We actually noticed a strange Security van racing past our house towards the sea, and then literally racing back a minute later..... could this person have been involved?

Back to the kittens. They were tame, very tame actually, so were used to human company and touch. They were happy to be picked up and cuddled, and we put them into our box to take home.

Beautiful babies.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Alfie's Story!

For those of you who regularly read my ramblings (not that my ramblings are that regular any more.... but I shall improve), our little off-white dog Alfie has been a familiar name as he lives his life alongside ours.

We have had him for nearly thirteen years, wow, we can hardly believe, and for those of you who didn't know his story, here is a brief synopsis!

Alfie and his best friend... Rob.

I found him in the middle of the traffic one January morning in 2007 in our town of Vredenburg. He was lost, he was confused, he was filthy and matted and covered in fleas and he was in danger of being run over any moment. So, we stopped to pick him up (my sister was visiting at the time) and took him to our wonderful vet who said that she would keep him for a few days to see if he was claimed.
When I got home and told Rob the story, he looked amused.
'What do you want to do?'..... were the words he uttered and by that time I was phoning the vet to say 'Give him his innoculations, I shall come to fetch him' and the rest is history!

More friends, Morris and of course, the ginger boy Basil.

And for the last thirteen years our evening routine has never varied....

Monday, 5 November 2018

Boom Boom Spring Is Here!

I know it has been months since my last post and I do apologise... I promise to try harder!!

Our winter came and went and we did have some rain, I am happy to say. Not a lot, but enough to allow our restrictions to be lifted... although I sincerely hope that we do not regret this later! Our dams are now at the 70% level which is pretty good, but once we are allowed to use water freely again, who knows.

But this is about Spring and the things it brings!
The boom boom bit is for the sound that my heart made one day about two weeks ago.

Read on!!

There I was happily pottering in the garden one morning when suddenly the sound of starlings broke through my thoughts, and looking round to see why and what, I glanced at the lampost where we have a nesting log attached. And saw what looked like a sausage in the entrance/exit hole.

Interesting! (All photos thanks to Rob)

The parent birds were frantic, flying and diving and as I watched, the sausage moved.... and I realised that it was a snake with it's head inside the log, taking one of the two baby starlings that were almost at flying stage.

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?