Friday, April 23, 2010

Long weekend for me!!

I didn't take any extra time off over Easter so I decided that since next Tuesday is a holiday and most schools have granted their students the Monday as a holiday too, I would take a day's leave on Monday and have another long weekend. After the day I've had today I know I made the right decision!
Last night being Dael's birthday night, I gathered my funds together and bought a chocolate ring cake and a box of prepared custard to go with it. I had left work late and by the time I finished shopping, it was dark and had started raining. A storm had blown up and as I was driving home, it started pouring. I staggered into the house with my shopping and Dael looked up from his phone. He was sitting quietly, with the television playing in the background and Bradley sleeping on the couch. I ran out to the car again and ran back through the pouring rain, balancing the chocolate cake. When he saw the cake, Dael's eyes lit up. I don't think he was expecting anything much as, being the end of the month, he knew funds were low.
"Its your cake, for your birthday. You can have some now if you want". No further invitation needed. He was in the kitchen like a flash, cutting a big chunk of cake and coating it with custard. When he was seated back in the lounge with his cake and a big cup of coffee, he tucked in and announced "This is very good". I felt a glow of satisfaction that I had chosen a treat he was really enjoying. A little while later he ate another helping. In the meantime, I had washed a load of dishes and cooked supper but no one except me was really hungry.
Bradley had woken up and eaten a piece of cake too which he really shouldn't have because I had picked him up from school at about 10.30am that morning because he had been sick at school. I was really concerned because he had been complaining on and off since Monday about a pain in his stomach or bowel area. I thought it might be appendicitis. I had taken him home and given him a tablet for nausea and settled him on the couch with some juice to drink and then gone back to work. He seemed fine and I just checked in on him during the day by phone.
Anyway fast forward to the evening and he is eating chocolate cake and custard! Anyway I let him have a small piece but he still wasn't feeling very well and didn't finish the slice. After I had eaten and packed the leftover supper away, I still wasn't done for the day. Bradley hadn't finished a project for school which was due to be handed in on Friday and he really wasn't up to doing work. Famous last minute project story! After an irritating start when I discovered that he didn't have an eraser or a sharpener and his pencil is a stub, we got on with the project. Brad and I worked together to throw this project together and by the time we were finished and I looked at the clock again it was after 11pm. Needless to say I fell into bed and was soon comatose from exhaustion.
Then the day at work today! Say no more... My car wouldn't start for a while this morning. Something about rather cold weather and the starter motor! Then I had to drop the project off at school. Bradley was hitting up flu symptoms this morning so he didn't go to school. And now I have lost 2 pieces of paper that I know I had on my desk. I have hunted high and low and can't see them at the moment. I'm writing a note to remind myself that I need to find these items on Wednesday which is when I will be back in the office.
Roll on the weekend!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy 20th Birthday, my son.

The pic shows Dael with his half-sister, Rachael in Johannesburg in December. Its hard to get a decent pic of Dael where he is looking straight at the camera and not pulling a funny face!

As of today my eldest son is no longer a teenager. He turns 20 today.
I am proud of my son. He is a decent and caring young man. He is also a good friend and although he possesses all the usual manly vices of being untidy around the house, he will help me with whatever I ask of him without complaining.
On his birthday, I wish him the realisation of all his dreams for the future and although I know he will battle on his road to get there, I will support him as best I can to achieve the best career and future to match his particular strengths and skills.
Happy Birthday, Dael! I love you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad and many more, I hope!

Yesterday my dad turned 75. I spent some time with my parents yesterday afternoon. I bought dad a slab of chocolate and a packet of ginger biscuits to carry on with until I can buy him a proper gift at the end of the month. He loves getting munchy items for his birthday and that suits us too because in typical male fashion, most other items on his wishlist entail taking a loan from the bank to purchase them. Mom and Greg bought him a set of 3 different tools in one box on special offer and he was pleased with that. He recently lost a lost of his power tools a few Saturdays back when we were at the Farmers Market. The parents arrived home to find that thieves had broken the latch off the garden shed and made off with the tools.
Anyway dad couldn't wait to show me his badge of honour. Several swollen toes and a reddened foot from the night before. Dad has very active dreams and mom is used to being woken up with a heavy arm thumping across her or banging noises in the room. She just snaps on the light and finds dad in a variety of poses. Anyway, the night before his birthday he dreamt that he was throwing people out of his garage and in his eagerness, he managed to deliver the open bedroom door with a hard kick which didn't harm the door but certainly served as a painful wakeup call for him! He couldn't sleep after that with the pain in his foot and had to take a sleeping tablet to get back to sleep.
Dad has always been the official breadwinner and payer of the big bills and being self employed this has often been a challenge. As he gets older and income gets less, his active dreams get worse. During the day, he seems able to cope, obviously burying any worries so as not to alarm mom but when he is asleep, his worries manifest in dreams mainly comprised of protecting his household and family. Mom has snapped on the light sometimes to find him facing into the clothes cupboard or through in the en suite bathroom staring out into the garden. Some weeks ago, he was so restless, he fell out of bed. Luckily he is an active gentleman and not as rickety as some at his age or otherwise his antics might have more serious consequences to his health. We have a good giggle about it when I visit as I get a full update but seriously, I wish my dad could have a peaceful nights sleep and this will only be attained when he is at peace with his personal circumstances and his income.
Or else, I have warned him that I'll have to start strapping him to his bed..or get him an extra large cot! Sleep peacefully, dad!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another wasted day?

Every day we get up, attend to our homes and families, go to work, shop, cook and eat supper, watch tv, go to sleep - or is it just me?
During the last couple of mornings, as I clean house, I have watched reruns of those tragic natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina which virtually destroyed New Orleans in 2005 and the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. The producers have gathered up video footage from news teams and private people which show how, in seconds, minutes and hours, the lives of ordinary folk were changed forever. Tales of bravery, of courage, of loss, of grief - all so poignant to me. We all go about our lives focussing on the minute details of our next decision - and when something like this happens, it causes me to wonder why we spend so much energy and anxiety on superficial issues. The reasons to watch again the stories of ordinary people changed forever are not to be vultures watching other folks misery and rejoicing that it didn't happen to you but to cause an awareness that our own lives could change in an instant and to rather focus on the people and causes which are of real value in this world. How many days go by during which we don't do one thing for humanity at large but just buzz from one personal issue to the next. I have suggested to my daughter who has also been thinking in terms of service to others that she join an organisation where folks gather to help others and maybe its time, now that my kids are mostly grown, for me to do the same.
For a long time, I have felt that there must be more to life than just focusing on my own existence and that of my immediate family, important as they and their needs are to me. I have felt particularly that there must be a more important reason for me to exist than to just be processing paperwork around my desk, all day every day. It doesn't have to be a big fanfare event but so long as I am helping to make the lives of those around me a better place in some meaningful way, that will be enough for me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where did the week go?

I've just realised that my last entry was week ago. Time is flying by this year.
My daughter came down to Durban last weekend. I was expecting to see her at a brunch at my parents on the Sunday just before she was due to go back to Johannesburg. It was a flying visit to attend a wedding of one of her school friends. She travelled down on Friday afternoon with two of her friends but had to also bring Tiny, her miniature Doberman, the bunnies and the guinea pigs in her little car and planned to leave the animals with me. Robynne ended up staying with me as it was so late by the time she arrived and dropped off her friends with their families. So over the weekend we had 6 humans, 5 bunnies, 2 guinea pigs, 3 dogs, 14 cats and 5 fish in da house!
Robynne and I spent time just chatting and catching up on Saturday morning. She had an extra nap and then she dropped Brad and I off at granny's house on her way to the wedding. Granny had offered the use of her Hub account for me to buy Brad a new school bag and shoes for school. Unfortunately, Hub didn't have brown shoes in stock but we did get a nice new bag. Brad has to wear his takkies to school until month end when I will buy a new pair of shoes for him.
Robynne thoroughly enjoyed her friends wedding, which was held at a seaside resort in Ixopo, just past Kingsburgh and her friends were so amazed that she had travelled all the way from Johannesburg to be at their wedding. On Sunday, I got up early to bake a batch of biscuits for Robynne to take with her to Johannesburg later that day and also a batch of muffins for the brunch at granny. She and I went out with two of the baby bunnies to a new pet shop in town. The bunnies are ready to go to new homes and we were pleased with the cleanliness of the petshop. They were soon settled into their new box at the shop. I persuaded her to keep one of her babies, a black and white bunny who is full of character. She was going to send him to the petshop too but I said she would be sorry if she did that. So he is still a part of her bunny family. He is such an inquisitive and playful little chap and full of fun. Robynne packed up and the boys and I followed her down to granny's. Gran and Greg had been hard at work making miniwors, bacon, chips and fried tomato. An informal table was laid on the patio. We just had to make toast and scrambled egg and warm up some baked beans and we sat down to a feast. We ate and relaxed for some time. Then Dael and Brad said their goodbyes and walked back home. After a bit more chatting and some photos, Robynne left with her pets to pick up her other passengers. I always hate saying goodbye. But it was a nice relaxed visit and it was very good to see my daughter again. After a six-hour trip, Robynne was back in Johannesburg, arriving home at 9pm that night.
Bradley went back to school on Monday. He hasn't been the happiest chap this week but he will get back into the swing of things by the end of the week.
My car oil buzzer started buzzing again last week. I spent some of my monthly budget to buy a 5lt can of oil and a new oil filter. Dael drained my oil on Saturday afternoon and replaced the filter. The car was fine on Sunday although I really didn't drive much that day. But on Monday, the buzzing started again. So I am just nursing this car and driving carefully until I can send it in again to the mechanics. Dael was phoned again this week to help the adventure group with a school course but I told him I can't risk using my car for any trips out of town until it is fixed so he had to decline. It is more important at this time to get Brad to school and myself to work than Dael to his courses.
My one baby kitten, the biggest chap, has managed to get the tip of his tail caught in something and it has damaged the tip of his tail. I didn't realise there was a problem but in the last couple of days I had noticed that he has been flicking his tail because it is painful, the tip has lost its fur and was bleeding yesterday. Dael held him and I tried to put a dressing on his tail. The tail is so tiny that the dressing slipped off but we managed to get some ointment on it. It seems a lot better this morning and not worrying him so much but obviously it will never be the same again. Tail injuries are very distressing for cats and dogs so Dael is watching him closely to see that he doesn't wander off.
My oldest cat Joe, one of my first kittens, who was born in 2000, always prompts comments from Greg like "He's on the way out now" and "He won't last much longer". One evening this week, a gecko bravely appeared on the lounge ceiling. Its a sight seldom seen as my cats are active hunters. Immediately Bebe, on her perch on the top of the fishtank and the closest to the ceiling, scrabbled into an upright position and reached her paws up against the wall, trying to reach the gecko which wriggled to safety across the middle of the lounge. As it reached the other side of lounge, "Old Joe" raced up the curtains and grabbed the gecko in his mouth. I ran across the lounge and as he dropped down from the curtain rail, still with gecko in his mouth, I shouted and held him down, before he could think of running outside with his prize. He opened his mouth and the gecko ran for freedom, probably with a few dents from Joe's remaining teeth. He may be old but he can still move when he needs to. He was a bit confused and sat in that position for some time waiting for his prize to reappear but the gecko was never seen again....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I called the cops on my neighbours..

and considering what they were up to, I think I was justified. Last Friday night, right at the beginning of the Easter weekend, I had fallen asleep while reading in bed but was woken up by a lot of neighbourhood dogs barking, including my own. Just as I was coming to, Dael knocked and entered my room to say that he heard banging at our bottom neighbours house. I checked the clock as I moved to french doors to peer out. 11.30pm!
My house is on a hill and my garden has a lot of greenery behind which one can hide to peruse the neighbourhood. Yes, I am like that! The neighbours in question are downhill and over the road. Dael didn't want me to go outside. "How can I see whats going on if I don't go outside". So he let me go. I went as far as the fence and although I could hear voices, I couldn't hear what they were saying or see anything. So I went back to my french door where Dael was waiting. Just then two figures came into view in the yard of the house next door to where I thought the banging was coming from. Dael and I ducked down and peeped over the rim of the edge of our lawn. The two figures were the son and the father from the house next door to the house where they were now and I realised that these neighbours were away for the weekend as the same light had been on since earlier that day.
Strangely, the father who is over 40 with a big belly was clad only in either underpants or a Speedo costume with a duvet thrown around his shoulders. Father and son inspected the semi-open windows of the room with the light on and then the father disappeared around to the front of the house. The son started to fiddle with the window of an adjacent room at the front of the house right under an outside light. Just then whatever he was doing seemed to work and the entire window glass fell out with a crash. I was so outraged at the thought of these characters burgling their neighbours (who are their friends) that I decided to phone the cops. I tried the usual cellphone emergency number which I remembered as being 112. No luck - that didn't work. I even tried to phone the security provider of the house being broken into. I ran out of air time. So in desperation, I tried the usual emergency number of 10111 which I didn't think I could get through to on a cellphone. And it worked. I logged my complaint and went to watch again and wait for the police to arrive.
By this time the father had arrived back to the scene of the break in. He managed to step in the broken glass with his bare feet and he and the son spent some time inspecting the cut. Then he started unscrewing the burglar guard. Eventually the burglar guard fell into the room with a crash sending the dad sprawling over the edge of the window onto his big bare belly and probably onto some more broken glass. The dad was so drunk though (according to Dael) that he probably didn't even feel it.
The alarm went off and dad went off through the house, switching on the room light as he went. The son climbed in behind him, set the burglar guard back in place and closed the curtain. The alarm went off and so did the room light. I was frustrated as the police hadn't arrived yet (20 mins!) and phoned again. Dael was nervous, warning me to stay low. The son kept on climbing out the window and going round the house and climbing back in again. Dael thought he heard the front sliding door open and I envisaged these two reprobates emptying the house of its valuables and putting them over the wall into their own yard. What would you think?
Eventually I heard a vehicle coming slowly up the road and past my house and I ran for my driveway. Dael was holding me back but eventually came down the drive with me as the police were looking for my house. A double cab with 3 policemen in it had arrived. I explained the situation and they moved forward to park in the driveway of the house being broken into with their headlights on. Dael and I were up at the top again and watching. We heard the cops cock their guns, ready for action. They moved up and down the outside of the wall, looking over for a few minutes before they scaled the gate and moved towards the broken window. They were searching the front of the house for signs of movement. I saw one policeman waiting outside the yard on the verge and went down to talk quietly to him when just then, the son popped out from the side of the house. "There's a mistake. We're looking after the house for the weekend" he was saying as he walked. The cop saw him and shouted "STOP!" The son reared back as if he had been stung and stopped walking. I shouted "Where's your key?" and then decided to leave the cops to it. As we went home, another police vehicle came cruising by but seeing that the scene was covered, they continued on. It doesn't rain but it pours. Obviously, 2 calls, 2 vehicles! But neither were early. The cops went with the son to the window where he again climbed in after telling his story and the police phoned the owners who apparently confirmed the story that these reprobates were looking after the house.
They left the premises but stopped to talk to me as I was still on my driveway. They were somewhat amused and confounded at the entire scene. Apparently the sister had the key for the house but was out with her friends and obviously father and son couldn't wait for her and decided to break in. One long window glass later! The cops left then and peace returned although after that excitement I wasn't a bit tired. At about 1.30am, the sister and her friends arrived and she started swearing and shouting about the broken window with the son explaining why it had happened. Happy families...
Well obviously I had gone out to watch again. And you can be sure, even if you are my neighbour, if I see you breaking into a house, I WILL call the cops on you!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cat burglars in my house..

I decided to keep the Easter chocolate low key this year. The boys are teenagers now and we have teenage friends staying with us at the moment and I don't think the boys would have got excited over mom embarrassing them with an early morning egg hunt wakeup call. So I bought each of them a giant slab of chocolate and that was that.
I decided to defrost my fridge on Friday as it was nice and warm. Inside the fridge against the element had grown an iceberg which was slowly engulfing the contents of the fridge and the freezer was just as bad. After switching off the fridge and removing the contents to the old fridge in the garage, I worked on the ice until there was just a big blob of ice left slowly melting inside the fridge and another big sheet of ice against the top of the freezer. This had taken the better part of the morning and I was hungry. I fetched a few items from the garage fridge to make myself a burger. Amongst these items was a brand new block of cheddar cheese newly purchased. After fixing my burger, I popped the fridge items into the defrosting fridge which was still cold even with the door open. While I was sitting in the lounge eating, a movement made me look up and there was Kittykie, the tortoiseshell, carefully stretching from the stove next to the fridge and climbing onto the fridge ledge, reaching for the block of cheese. I shouted and she darted out the door. Thats where I went wrong. After finishing lunch and still waiting for the iceblock to depart, I settled in to watch a movie. After the movie was finished, I returned to the kitchen to check on the iceblock and my first indication of a crime was the cheese crumbs left in the fridge as evidence. Outside lay the plastic clingfilm wrapper and the label. Of the brand new cheese block there was no sign. Oh how I screamed. A hardly used R17.00 block of Cheddar. My cats had selected their own Easter treat. Dael came to bash out the remaining ice as my patience was now exhausted and added insult to injury by saying "You should have put the cheese in a container!" And don't I know it. That sounds like something I would have said to him.
That evening I still baked biscuits to sell at the morning market. I baked until I was exhausted. The boys hadn't wanted to eat at the same time and I had left the pot of stew and rice on the stove for them to help themselves. After finishing up the last batch of biscuits, I fell into bed and the first thing I knew was a tapping on the door. It was early morning, still dark and my brother was knocking me awake. He and mom hadn't been able to raise me on my cellphone (not charged) so they had come round to see if I was all right. I threw on my clothes, grabbed the biscuits and locked up.
Later on that morning, about 11am when I returned home, the boys were awake. "Oh mom, the cats knocked off the (almost new) tub of margarine from the counter and a lot was wasted." Dael had scraped the clean marge back into the tub. First irritation! Then I discovered that whoever dished up stew last had not put the pot into the oven or fridge and the cats had eaten the remains of that too. Second irritation! Grrr! I can't blame the cats. They are opportunists and all they know is to hunt for food. But I hate to waste food especially if it can still be eaten by the human scavengers in my house.
Thankfully that was the last of the cat incidents for the weekend.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You are speaking to Susan...and this is not a recording!

Shame, I hope the lady I just spoke to is not too sensitive. I do suffer from inherited and incurable foot-in-mouth syndrome!
I had dialled the number of a major insurance company in Gauteng but while waiting for the line to be picked up, one of my co-workers was talking to me from my office door.
In the background, I could hear that the line had been answered but it sounded like an automated voice answering machine and I didn't quite catch the message. So I stayed silent, waiting for the next recorded message. The voice started up again "You are through to 'our' company and you are speaking to Susan. How may I assist you?"
I suddenly realised my mistake and that I was speaking to a living person and I laughingly replied to her "Oh sorry Susan. I thought I was speaking to a recording!" Oops, probably not the best thing to say but I did qualify my statement by saying that I hadn't been listening properly. She didn't seem too worried and soon put me through to the right department where the queueing system IS a recorded message and blow me down if the recording didn't sound the SAME as Susan!