Monday, February 22, 2010

Just one more day.....

Do you ever have the feeling that if you can just carry on for one more day, just hold on for one more day....things will come right! I am sitting here with the most surreal feeling of...not peace exactly but maybe acceptance in the midst of chaos. Apart from world wide chaos, from earthquakes in Haiti to major mudslides in Madeira, there is hardship closer to home too. Who of us don't know someone who has lost their income or their home, someone fighting illness. And we question God...why have You allowed this? Knowing the propensity of mankind toward evil and destruction, I suppose we could ask God - why have You allowed us to carry on destroying this earth and each other for so long without dealing with us?
Be that as it may, I am discovering that the more days that I deal with hardship, worrying about my car and how long I will still have the use of it, worrying about how to feed my children and my animals, the more it feels like the natural order of things. Do I allow my circumstances to dictate the person that I will be or will become. Do I fall into self-pity or self-loathing because of my circumstances. I accept that possessions are temporary and I cannot base my self-worth on such unstable items but still our home is the place where we have the freedom to be ourself. Our vehicles are the means by which we gain our independence.
'A fool and his money are easily parted'. I am not easily parted from my money. I am always careful with the money I have left over...after all the credit cards and loans and debit orders have been paid. But where did all these insidious debts come from. School stationery, vet visit for one of the animals, not impulse purchases. I am determined to gain control over these debts. I will not be a statistic. I will not give in.
Every minute that I drive my car, the old lady, I am planning for the time that I will be walking and how I will accomplish my daily routine without a vehicle. I have faced up to the 'worst' - divorce, retrenchment, being 'fired'....and lived to tell the tale. Now I have to face up to not having a job or a car and still being the person that I am. And I will succeed with this. Even if I don't have a car or a house, I will still be a driver and a homeowner because its a mindset. If you have a mindset to be a driver you will save or plan ahead to own a car. The same with your home. Or education. In fact anything. As soon as you face up to the possibility of something happening, be it good or bad, you can begin to put a plan of action to cope into place.
Its funny how material objects can so overwhelm us with their presence that we forget that we were here, were in existence, before any of these items were. My kids have to have a cell phone, a hi fi, a playstation. Just a few years ago we grew up without these items and even without tv. It is possible to exist without the accumulation of belongings. In fact it is better to do so. It sets free the imagination, and your very relationship with the universe.
The more belongings and clutter you accumulate, the wider the gap of separation from your connection with the universe.

I see cats....again!

I didn't travel far this weekend, in a bid to save fuel but I did need to make a trip down to the shop yesterday evening for bread and milk. I decided to visit a different shop from my usual one. This shop is also very busy and noisy, with music played quite loud. I had picked up a couple of loaves and some sachets of milk and was wandering in the direction of the shelves of eggs....when a movement caught my eye. On the top shelf just behind the eggs was a kitten, an adolescent beautiful grey kitty. She had been ducking down behind the eggs and peering over the edge of the shelf, waiting for the people to clear so she could make a run for it. I don't know how she thought she would do that since she was at the back of the shop and the place was teeming with shoppers. Just then she spotted me spotting her and hissed at me. Little wild child. I spoke to her, trying not to draw the other shoppers attention to her because I don't think a cat in a shop would go down well. As I spoke to her, she meowed to me and then retreated to the windowsill and just looked at me. I left her then and wandered a bit further on. When I looked again, she had gone. She was very scared because of the noise and clamour. Maybe she had wandered in through some vent or hole overnight and had become disorientated. I hate to see beautiful cats living wild because I know that even wild cats can be tamed and become loving and loved pets. What also amazed me is that the other shoppers couldn't see her. She wasn't invisible. She could be seen but no one else even showed that they had seen her. Is it just me? Am I the cat spotter?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Life carries on....

aka Update on the Home Front.
The older boys got over their issues, thankfully by the next day. We had a low key weekend, basically just lazing round. We have a large quantity of wood which is basically just offcuts from the garage and old furniture and we had a couple of bonfire evenings. We have dismantled an old tumbledrier and use the inside drum as a fire drum. My car still has an oil leak and Greg is battling to fix it. He will come round again tonight to try. We are hoping to beat the problem tonight. In the meantime the extremely hot weather is not helping.
Friend 'S' still spent the weekend and didn't hear back from the restaurant about coming into work. He still hadn't heard by about midday on Monday and Dael was going to walk him home and then pick up Brad from school but then I heard back from Dael later that it was too hot to walk and fetch Brad and 'S' wasn't going home as he had received a phone call from the restaurant to say that he had to come in to work the next morning at 8am. I am just waiting to hear the positive news that he has signed his contract and received his uniform, then I will be satisfied.
Workwise, my office is situated uphill about 8kms from where I live and close to Brad's new school. The company has decided to relocate about 25kms in the opposite direction, right down to Durban in the sticky coastal heat and slapbang in the middle of an area of horrible traffic jams. The office will be a lot closer to where some of the employees live but they have been commuting ever since the company was established. The important thing is that the offices are really close to home for the new directors so that has been a big deciding factor, we feel, on the decision as to where to move to. I probably won't be able to commute due to the increased fuel required and as my car is so old. So from May I will probably be in the job market again after 6 years with this company. I am using this interim time effectively however and am applying for positions as soon as I see them. So who knows what will happen. Hopefully I will find myself in a much better situation than I am now. Sometimes we are pushed in a certain direction which looks negative but turns out to be positive.
My ex was telling me last night that he is thinking of returning to our area as he is battling in Gauteng. He went up with nothing but has since accumulated another houseful of belongings. If he should return, I don't know where he would go with all his stuff and this would be too much of an upheaval for the whole family. They stayed with me for two years before going up to Gauteng and he went up a full six months before his 'girlfriend' and two little daughters, leaving me to be mom and taxi everyone around. It was a big strain and I am still getting rid of his junk i.e. the wood in the garage. So, I am discouraging him from giving up as I think that there is still only work for him in the area where he is now. Kwazulu Natal is very quiet for artisans and craftsmen. Not so much money to spend on kitchen and bedroom cupboards down here.
Oh and Robynne's bunny, Hoppie, who had her eye removed is bouncing back and recovering well. Animals don't dwell on their disabilities. I have learnt that from my cats. They just accept how they are and carry on. We can learn a lot from them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I had picked Bradley up from school and returned to work. At 3.00pm in the afternoon it is still very hot. When we left again at 5pm, I noticed a wet patch under the car and opened the bonnet. It is oil leaking.

Dael and his friend who is staying with us, 'S' had walked uphill to the suburb where 'S' normally stays with his mom and his mother's employer, and also close to where I work. His mom is a domestic worker and lives on the premises of her employer. He wanted to get some clean clothes and try to get some money from her as a 'deposit' against renting my outside room. Apparently they had a long conversation (read: lecture/argument) in which the mom stated that if 'S' is staying with me he must be able to pay me himself or otherwise go back and stay with her. She had given money to his sister and had nothing left. If he goes back he lives on his mom's employer's charity and gets lectured by the employer too.

I found out all this after I had picked them up on my way through the area on the way home. I was stressed about the car and the fact that funds are running dangerously low for the month to just feed myself, 3 boys and the animals and I also started lecturing, mainly about how I didn't think him mom was playing fair. I probably said some things that weren't very nice and both boys feelings were hurt. Dael came and told me viciously that he had told 'S' to come back down to my house with him, that it would be alright because he just doesn't want to stay where his mother works anymore, he had already had a routing from his mom and now I had given them one. Dael threw his clothes in his bag and walked out. 'S' was lying in the room on the bed, all depressed and I made him go and look for Dael. Now I felt bad as well but at no time have I been consulted by Dael as to my ability to absorb an extra person into the equation, which includes food, transport and use of utilities. These kids don't seem to live in a real world. They think everything happens by magic.
They ended up sitting in the broken car which is still sitting at the bottom of the driveway (what accommodating neighbours I have!) but eventually Dael came up and I spoke to him. We discussed the whole situation, he went down again and then both boys came up. 'S' was downcast and as he walked past me he told me that he would leave the next day and would find money to pay me for the time he has spent there. Now I felt bad. Really the situations I get thrust into. I hugged him, made him look at me as I was talking to him, made him understand that both he and Dael needed to understand the situation we are in. I wasn't telling him to leave but I didn't know how we were going to make it. As it is I am going to have to try and borrow money from my brother until the end of the month. 'S' was tearful, stiff as I hugged him and uncomfortable with his emotions. He went straight to the room, not eating supper.
Dael sat with me in the lounge and still ate some supper, not talking much though. They were both sleeping when I left this morning but on mxit this morning, Dael has a very negative status message about being over life and not being around much longer. Friend 'S' has a message about words hurting more than blows.
I feel bad about the whole situation but I also wish I had the luxury of being able to play the blame game. In fact I probably could blame the economy for the constantly rising prices, my employers for not paying me more, my ex-husband for not being able to support his children, any number of culprits but I just don't have the lack of maturity required to blame other people or circumstances for my situation today. I might say it when I'm having a rant but deep inside I feel that its my responsibility to change my circumstances, in respect of getting a better job etc, and the timing of God in allowing us to go through circumstances for whatever purpose, maybe to teach me to lean on Him a lot more or to be accepting of what life brings and to trust Him to answer prayer.
Also on a rather sad note, I had contacted Robynne after a long period of staying out of her way after the Christmas/New Year drama. I felt it would be alright to renew contact and I needed her to contact her friend in KZN to help Dael get his car up the driveway. The very next day she was embroiled in a drama of her own. Her littlest bunny, Hoppie had hurt her eye badly. The eyeball had a deep scratch from a piece of wire or a stick and she had rushed her to the vet. Unfortunately, Hoppie had to have her eye removed and is still at the vet. Robynne is very upset about her little baby and on top of that the operation and vet care is going to cost her a lot of money too. Such a nasty thing to happen just as she has finally settled into her new home. It is just one of many drama's that go to making us stronger people who are able to cope with a lot. But very unfortunate. Sorry Robynne and Hoppie.

Transportation blues.....

We've had extremely hot weather recently. The weekend was difficult as I have a hot little house. Its better if we can open the back door for a through breeze but last year, the door blew back on its hinges in a strong wind and developed a large crack. So we jammed it closed and it hadn't been opened since.
I stuck it out at home on the Saturday but on Sunday, as it was just as hot, I relented and took the boys down the public pool. My car has an overheating problem but I refilled the water and it seemed okay. We enjoyed a pleasant couple of hours at the pool. I had made popcorn and mixed juice at home so that I wouldn't have to buy snacks. We drove home and almost nearing town on the freeway my car was making a lot of engine tappet noise. As I stopped at the traffic lights, the car cut out. Freaking out a bit, I snapped on my hazard lights and popped open the bonnet. Dael got out to check and the cap of the water bottle had come off from the pressure and disappeared. He eventually found the cap further down in the motor and we refilled the water bottle and limped to the garage. At the garage, Dael and friend S refilled the water bottle several times and cooled the engine by throwing water over it (which is apparently the wrong thing to do) and eventually we moved off again. As we travelled through town and neared home, my oil buzzer came on. Now the last time that happened, I had to have my whole engine cleaned out as the oil was clogging and not flowing freely. I was really worried that I had blown my cylinder head or something.
Once home, I phoned my brother, and he dutifully arrived with his steel glue. He discovered that the sensor on top of the water bottle was split and this was not only causing water to flow out but was also not sending a message for my fan to switch on and thus causing my engine to overheat. Anyway long story short story, he wasn't able to fix it with the glue, took the part away to buy another part and I ended up using the spare car for work on Monday.
I drove the spare car the whole day and it was fine. I did hear a bit of a rumbly noise like something rolling round in the boot but otherwise no problems. I drove up the driveway in the evening and ended up parking on a sloping part of the drive behind my brother's bakkie as he was already there. Kind soul that he is, he had bought parts and installed them and was fixing my back door so that we can now open it.
Dael reversed the spare car down the drive again so that my brother could get out and when he changed gear to accelerate down the road, he discovered that the car wasn't driving. The drive shaft had come out on one side. Anyway that car is also still on the road as Dael and my brother were unable to fix it and I'm going to have to get it towed to the top of the driveway as I don't think my neighbour wants the car in a corner of his driveway forever!
On Monday, I had a callback from a job advertisement that I had applied for on behalf of Dael. It seemed quite suitable, working with tarpaulins, good hours, basic pay. Unfortunately the workshop is situated a bit out of the way for me as Brad's school and my work are in the opposite direction from the workshop and there's a considerable amount of traffic build-up at that time of the morning. Although Dael would have been taken on, I had to decline. There was a bit of negativity from those I spoke to. "But can't you just do this..." "There's not much out there..." I told them when Dael has his own vehicle he can work wherever he wants but as long as I'm the transporter, he will have to find a job in an area that suits my schedule. Its tough at the top hey!
His friend who has been staying with us for the month of January has been called in this week to train as a waiter so that's positive. Dael had also applied but he doesn't have experience as a waiter. So he's still at home and we're still looking for that elusive job for him that suits all of us.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Walking the right path

Bradley was involved in an incident on Monday that I have been hesitant to write about because its not something that I ever wanted to admit my child had been involved in. But I have felt the need to write about it just to put it into perspective, and to show that even a child who is brought up with values and the knowledge of right and wrong, can make the decision to be involved in wrongdoing.
I had arranged to collect Brad from school in the afternoon and then dash down to the municipal offices to try again and connect the electrical meter that I have been trying to get connected for some time. Bradley asked to be dropped at the local shop after which he was going to walk to his cousin, R's flat. While I was sitting in the queue at the electricity department, I messaged cousin R that Bradley was coming round and asked him to let me know that he had got there, which he did. I finished up at the municipality after about half an hour and then drove to the ATM. While I was trying to draw money, I received a phone call from the manager at the same shop where I had left Brad earlier. I came to understand that they had caught Bradley and his cousin shoplifting two slabs of chocolate from the shop.
I was so stressed that I cancelled the ATM transaction, jumped in my car and zoomed off to deal with this horrible situation. In the back office behind the tills, Bradley was sitting in tears, cousin R standing with a deadpan expression on his face and the manager standing with the 'loot'. I took off at Bradley giving him the lecture of his life. He was dressed in his school pants but had changed into one of his teeshirts and his cousin's hoody jacket. The manager has known me for years and didn't want to take it further. He was very fatherly about the whole thing merely saying that Brad had been caught for a reason, because he was not meant to get away with stealing and become a criminal, and he had just wanted me to know about it.
Now I was and am still, understandably I feel, upset that this has blighted my child's life. I just feel that he was involved in something that he wouldn't naturally have an inclination to do. Cousin R is rather spoilt and get up to naughtiness all the time. He had only been at his cousin for half an hour when they were inexplicably back at the shop and shoplifting! Very very strange. The boys had already left the shop when the manager, alerted by another shopper, chased after them in his bakkie. Bradley tried to 'escape' from the manager but was rounded up and taken back to face the music. Apparently, it came out later that there had also been a half litre of coca cola pilfered which fell down and rolled away, unseen by the manager. I really feel that Bradley was 'encouraged' to indulge in the shoplifting and complied out of bravado or a desire to prove his 'courage' or whatever to his cousin, who at all times acted like the innocent although the manager also said to him "why didn't you stop him from doing that". Why indeed - because he stood to benefit without being blamed. The perfect setup.
That by no means excuses Brad from what he did but I believe that the shock of the whole incident will serve as a deterrent.
I have spoken about the incident a couple of times this week but he just becomes serious and says "stop it mom" as if he wants to erase the whole incident from his memory. What child gets through childhood, puberty or teenagehood without being involved in something illegal or dangerous or petty or mean. That child must surely be in the minority. The turning point lies in how the parent handles the incident and how the child or young person uses the particular incident to redirect their actions or words.
Forgiveness is the key and being able to look past the nastiness of the incident to see the person beyond who has made a mistake and wants to move on in the right direction this time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Momcat has an underwear fetish!

No not me sillies! My mommy cat, the mother of all the kittens. She was spayed two weeks ago and is already a different cat. Her fur is growing back beautifully and she is now so fat, that if she hadn't been spayed I would almost think that she is pregnant again (?). Trusting in the expertise of my vet though I can only say that all is good. She has however started a hobby up again that she had in the past but not to the same extent as she has embraced it now. Kittykie loves socks, dirty, clean, rolled up or not, it doesn't matter. She carries them around in her mouth, meowing all the way.
Now she has recently discovered that my neighbours, whose washing line is up a steep and inaccessible bank, prefer to drape their smalls on the bushes, burglar guards and fence surrounding their back door. She happily (when they're not looking) robs them of bras, panties, socks, t-shirts, anything that catches her eye. On Sunday when I returned from the swimming pool with the boys, I counted a string of 12 items across the lawn to my door, which she had collected that afternoon. So she robs them in broad daylight. Sneaky little cat burglar. I was blaming it on the dog but its definitely her. I gather the items into a plastic bag and toss the bag down from my bank onto their back path where they can find it. They probably wonder who, how, why their washing is in a plastic bag on their path but they haven't obviously seen Kittykie in action and they haven't approached me to complain.
I'm laying low!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I see cats everywhere...

My office is situated on the first floor of our double storey building. The view from my narrow window is of the property next door which once was a residence but now stands vacant. I look out of the window whenever I return to my seat as I like to keep in touch with nature and the outside world. Sometimes I see birds, sometimes monkeys and sometimes a black and white cat. Today I looked out and on a pillar of the precast concrete wall was sitting a pitch-black cat staring in my direction. I talk to all cats that I see so I opened the window wider and then I saw, on the next pillar along, to the left of the black cat, a white and calico cat. And to the right of the black cat on another pillar, the white and black cat. Three cats in a row. I was enchanted. When I called to them with that universal cat call "swiss-swiss-swiss", three pairs of eyes swivelled to me and stared, with eyes like burning lamps. There's nothing that can stare quite like a cat. They're not human friendly, living wild. That doesn't stop me.
It really made my day to see them sitting there right across from me, almost as if they were waiting for me. I called my boss who came to look, saying "I've got to bring my pellet gun". I told him "Go away and don't be horrible". He doesn't have an appreciation for cats. He gave me a task to do and when I looked again the cats had gone. They had finished gracing me with their presence.

Seen at the pool - Swimming dad (so bad)

My kids dragged me off to the public swimming pool again yesterday. It was a warm day and with the imminent changing of the seasons, one of the few good swimming days left. I settled down amongst the towels, while the boys dashed off to the pool, and proceeded to indulge in a bit of people watching before turning to my novel.
To my immediate right were 3 or 4 middle-aged ladies, lying in the direct sun - suntanning. From the tanned tone of their skin, it was apparent that they spend quite a bit of time indulging in this activity. It was about 1.15pm and the sun was still very hot. Now, I'm in my forties and I know to hide away from the sun. Their skin actually looked like it was aging as I watched. I was actually quite aghast that ladies who should know better were engaged in an activity that is so damaging to their skin.
A few minutes after I arrived, a large group of older teenagers and early-20's arrived and set up camp behind me. I glanced around at some time and there in all its glory, was their Hubbly Bubbly smoking pipe. Now this is the 2nd time visiting the pool that I have seen a group of youngsters with a hubbly pipe in attendance. Have Hubbly - will travel! Its the new in-fashion group activity. Hopefully its only tobacco they're smoking with it!
Anyway, the subject of the title was discovered sitting on the edge of the deep end of the pool, watching his daughters as they swam. A tall slim balding man, wearing what was noticeably a speedo swimming costume. Now anyone with sons knows that speedos are a no-no in this day and age. My son is supposed to have one for school but I'm wasting my money if I buy one because he won't wear it! Its baggies or nothing. Anyway the gentleman stood up on the way back to his towel and walked past in front of me - with his little soldier pointing the way. Seriously - nothing left to the imagination! I discovered he was sitting just a little to the left of me and soon after that I noticed that he was sitting cross-legged with each of his daughters sitting on one knee. And they weren't babies either.
After that I decided to engross myself in my novel for a while, to avoid any more eyestrain of the fashion variety.