Careful where you step!

Recording, reminiscing and occasional bokdrols of wisdom.

Random, un-chronological memories.

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

 

 

A Splendid Wedding

Raksha Singh had a magnificent full Hindu wedding, and me and Jess were invited! I did a bit of homework as the only other one I’d attended was probably fifteen years ago:

Marriages are made in heaven. Once you are married, the bond is to last for seven lifetimes. Hindu weddings can be long, and various rituals may be held on different days. Every custom and practice in a wedding ceremony has deep philosophical and spiritual significance.  Hindu traditions of marriage vary, but some form of them take place throughout the world.

Raksha and Pratish looked magnificent sitting on stage in the center of the mandap, or wedding altar. A fire burnt brightly in an altar in front of them. The bride’s brother gave her popcorn as a wish for his sister’s happy marriage. Each time, she offered the popcorn to the fire, an offering known as a homam. I kept thinking Don’t let her clothes catch fire! especially when they did The Seven Steps, getting nearer to the fire with each step!

The traditional white horse the groom would arrive on is more often a motorcar these days, and Pratish arrived in a very noble steed: A white Merc 6.3 AMG!

But Raksha trumped him! She arrived in a McLaren 650s – much to Tommy’s awe when I sent him this picture:

The food was delicious and plentiful and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I had the lucky job of keeping five ladies company: Jess, Prenisha and Yandisa from work, Raksha’s colleagues; Prenisha in a Hindi outfit, Yandisa in a Xhosa outfit and Jess in a Dress! plus Seema and her daughter were also at our table. It really was an awesome day.

Prenisha, Jessica & Yandisa


A Dog’s Life

When we bought a house, but were still living in our flat in Durban, Dave and Goldie Hill presented us with a magic little feisty puppy, half Staffie half Jack Russell, delivered in a shoebox. We called her TC.

TC arrives in a shoebox

She was joined soon after we moved in to our home in Westville by my big rival for Aitch’s affections: Matt the man, named Matt cos he certainly wasn’t glossy.

Aitch picks out Matt from the litter.
Her first real Own Dog – and the love of her life for about two short years. 

Matt died on the M13 on the hunt for an intriguing smell which he knew was important and exciting, he just didn’t know why! He was only two-plus years old, so I’d guess he probably died a virgin. Our property was fenced but obviously not escape-proof.

After much mourning and a burial in the garden, Matt’s replacement was chosen, also in a backyard, also of interesting parentage. Trish Humphrey always thought she’d call a dog “Bogart” one day, and so Bogart got his name. To TC’s disgust a second small male dog was introduced and – again – he soon outgrew her. She always remained boss-dog though!

With big shoes to fill, Bogey starts his melting of Aitch’s heart

About two years later Bogart also went missing. I searched again and found him on a highway. This time the N3. Another burial in the garden followed.

Poor TC now had another black dog join her, a third!! Also small, also soon to grow big. This time a lady, Bella, who was destined to become a huge part of our,  and especially Trish’s life for the next seventeen years. She, too, was of interesting parentage.

Oy! Dogs aren’t allowed on the bed at 7 River Drive!

TC ran out of steam after thirteen years and is the third and last of our dogs we buried at 7 River Drive Westville, near the banks of the Mkombaan under a paper-bark commiphora tree. Bella was then joined by Honey, ‘rescued from euthenasia’ at the vet. He’d apparently been sentenced to death for excessive wandering! Aitch said ‘can’t be!’ and took him home. Well, little did she know just how determined a wanderer was old Honey. Jess christened him Honey, and he was mostly called that, but once his habits became evident I called him Houdini.

Jessie and her Honey-Houdini

Houdini disappeared, maybe ‘rescued’ again by someone who finally managed to coop him up permanently? I hope not. I hope he wanders still. Now Bella was alone and Aitch decided she was lonely. No, no, I said, she’s enjoying the peace and quiet! So I put my foot down and issued a decree as titular Man of the House: We Cannot Get Another Puppy.

So Aitch got two: Shadow and Sambucca.

Sam the black lab bitch and Shadow the Alsation-ish hound

Shadow was a lovely dog but became our first dog to be euthanased. She bit a neighbour kid and then did it again. Sam is still around, twelve-plus years old and when cleaning out the garage recently I found a very novel item: A pedigree certificate! Aitch had hidden from me that Sam was our first dog without character and lacking in hybrid vigour! 
(Read about Sambucca’s parents here).

Jessie named the black lab ‘Sweetie’ – horrors! So we scrambled to find a better name: Terry Brauer suggested Black Sambucca and that stuck, thank goodness. She and Bella became good friends – Aitch was right again!  Bella finally breathed her last in Aitch’s arms at seventeen – she had been a champ!

Bella’s last days – lots of luxury & comfort, thanks Aitch!

Poor ole Sambucca is ageing rapidly now. Eighty five in human years, she has a tumour growing apace on the side of her face. So far she’s still comfortable, eating – though losing weight – and tail-waggingly keen for a tummy rub. Her vet says keep her comfy and keep watch, but an op would likely be too drastic and risky for her.

Maputaland Beach Walk

The recipe: Fifteen glorious people and forty glorious kilometres of wide open sandy beaches; ten of us were walking; two were guiding – Jabulani and DC walking up and down the dunes ahead and behind to keep an eye on us; two drivers for our vehicles to pick us up at the end of the first and third days; and then there was one Shirley Carey: She plotted and arranged, cooked and drove, organised and made it all happen – well done Shirley! It was a great start to what I hope becomes a thriving enterprise: Introducing people to a magic, less-traveled part of the coast in adventurous style.  Put-Foot-Shirl in her optical blur Toyota sped us around to and from the hike start and end-points, and looked after us in style!

The vistas were spectacular, the weather varied from perfect to overcast and a cool stiff following breeze to a constant ‘irrelentless’ steady headwind on the last day. Thanks to a few overnight showers and spring tide the sand was hard and we didn’t get sand-blasted. We also had no scorching hot Zululand temperatures, for which I was grateful and relieved. Anyway, we pushed on irregardless under interesting skies.

Sodwana to Lala Nek – 40km of beautiful beaches and rocky shores
Jabulani scouts our route from up high

The recipe also included great meals, snacks and puddings, enough alcohol and plenty ice.  Come to think of it, it was quite saintly of us to leave the kitchen and hit the beach – we could easily have lurked in comfort! Another ingredient was laughter; lots of laughter; loud peals of laughter. Some ribald humour too; you wouldn’t expect that from ladies, would you? Nor snorting with laughter! But it was all there. It would be fascinating to know how many laughs-per-kilometer there were. ‘Many’ would be a conservative estimate.

A whiff of sulphur as the breakfast eggs are unveiled leads to gales of laughter

Now one would think if you went to a remote Maputaland beach, sallied forth in a 4X4 then walked fourteen km without seeing another soul on a deserted beach, that Retail Black Friday would have been escaped and no – zero, none – purchases would have been made. But one would be wrong. These ladies set off after a sweet potato and bought a dress! It’s a mysterious and powerful force, retail:

Shopping Sodwana, complete with photo-bombing shop assistant
Panoramas, some with people
Beach Walk Small Stuff, plus cows, which are larger

I find beaches fierce and exposed; trudge, trudge; I find forests peaceful and protective; peer here, peer there. On the Zululand Beach Waddle you get both: Wide vistas of sand and water with moving clouds, trudge trudge; balanced by the green peace of the forests and all the little things hiding in them; even a Jan’s Shovel-snout, a seldom-seen nocturnal burrower who lives just below the loose sandy surface, eating gecko eggs; he was dead; we wouldn’t have seen him alive, he’s shy like me; and also polite.

Forest small stuff

This expedition was supremely relaxing, but there was one very tough part of the trip: Driving out on the last day with four outspoken, astute, well-read and opinionated ladies as ballast in my non-4X4. I made the mistake of telling them we were going to drive on the Most Beautiful Road in Africa. When we finally got onto it and it was a little bit bumpy, swervy, twisty, sandy and their ballast started shifting, they twisted the story to say I had said “The Best Road in Africa”! So with every spin and rock and roll and wobble it was “Oof! So this is the best road in Africa? I’d hate to see the worst!” and other helpful comments.

That Beautiful Road along Lake Sibaya shoreline – pity the lake was so low

There’s Put-Foot-Lizelle in the bottom pic disappearing into the distance in her Landrover which – amazingly – didn’t get stuck. Oh, hang on, it did once. We had to dispatch Musa to find her.

And here’s that demanding committee in my poor Ford Ranger, discussing tactics:

Usually I’d end with a sunset pic, but we were drinking Cactus Jack, Six Dogs Blue Gin, Bubbly, Red, White and Rose wine, genuine Italian-made Lemoncello Ramaccio Pace and other stuff by then, so the sun had to set all by its own self. Here’s a rock pool pic instead: Oh! I’ll follow that with a bird pic by Lou. You’d think with my binocs, telescope and bird book that we would have seen more than a few Sanderlings and a handful of Kittlitz’s plovers! – (BTW, the pics are from everyone – thanks!)

Di Fabricius, Lizelle Ramaccio Calvino, Mal Bell, Michelle Pace, Shirley Vorster, Joni Kirkland, Lou Kelly, Michelle Graven, Koos Swanepoel, Sheila Swanepoel – pic by Shirley Carey
Another Lou pic with internet-borrowed pics of Sanderling and Kittlitz’s plover

It’s Just Cos You’re Old

My ole man complains his doc doesn’t even try to help him. He always just says “It’s cos you’re old.” Any problem, there’s no attempt at fixing or understanding – just “Hey, you’re old.” Now I really empathise with people wanting to be heard; I think every effort should be made to hear out 95yr-olds and understand their problems; But I did also suspect that some things – human and mechanical – are simply “because they’re old” – reinforced by Tom’s refrain from The Boondocks: “You’re just mad cos your ass is old.”      SO – although I told the ole man he really should get a second opinion (to which he replied, “I’m going to make one last appointment with him and I’m going to tell him I’m leaving him!” Why? I asked, Just leave. “No, what about his other patients!?  He needs to be told!”), I did also secretly think, Hey, some things can’t be fixed.

So my Ford Ranger – that’s my white 3litre diesel 4X2 hi-rider double cab Ford Ranger – has been a bit noisy, but I was not admitting to it. What? What noise? I can’t hear anything. I once heard a noise and it cost me money.
Then three things happened and forced my hand: One, a very young lady, teenager really, reversed into my left front wheel, BANG. I got out and she burst into tears Waah! I’m sorry! Waah! I’ve had such a terrible day! Waah! I’m going to be in such trouble! I looked at my car: not a scratch. I looked at hers: a dented soft bumper. I said Off You Go. Just Go. As I drove off Tom said Dad! You’re such a sucker! You should have sued her ass! Nah, I said, nothing happened. Then the car starts to shake like its got Parkinson’s. See!? says Tom, I told you. She just suckered you, you should have sued her. We’d gone ten metres and a glance at the young lady, teenager really,’s car showed she’d already gone seventy metres in the shade. She was outta there!  What to do? I pretended not to feel the shake. What shake? I don’t feel a shake; I once felt a shake and it cost me money. Tom just gave an exasperated eye roll and shook his head.

Two, driving up our road with Jess, a cacophony of sound like forty seven tin cans had been thrown under the car made it hard for even me to ignore it. What was that Dad!? says Jess, who usually doesn’t notice anything automotive. Did you throw all your tin cans under the car, Jess? I deflect. No! She says firmly, That noise is from your car, Dad! Jess, I once heard a noise . . oh, hell, I just kept quiet.

The clincher was I had volunteered my vehicle as able to take the nine lady walkers and me to the Zululand walk and I now found out they expected it to drive to the actual beach, then on to fetch us at the next stop and I suddenly thought, “What if it lets me down in front of these grown, not teenage, ladies? That could prove embarrassing.” A 4X4 it ain’t. So I leapt into action: I fixed the left rear door, which hasn’t opened for a year; And I decided I’d give it new tyres. That always makes it look better. The front ones were worn quite sadly. New tyres, I thought, and then the alignment will probably fix all the other problems which are simply a matter of being out of whack after being whacked by a young lady – teenager really.

And you won’t believe what the tyre man told me as he was doing the alignment! Your Shocks Are Fucked, he tells me. Bluntly; Just like that. How dare he? I was still puffing when he scribbled on my tyre invoice “Four shocks” and said “Go get a quote.” Well, I’m a diplomat and they say the meek will inherit the earth without any land claims, so I absorbed the shock and next thing I’m driving away with two new Dunlop with superblue tyres, balanced and aligned and four new yellow Monroe shock absorbers.

And would you believe it!? Silence! Smoothness! Amazing. Maybe things CAN be fixed. I may have to re-evaluate.

=======ooo000ooo=======

While these shocks were being applied, this party bus was having its wheels aligned nearby:

So I dial the number and a voice behind me says “Are you calling me?” It’s Ndumiso and he’s the owner-dude. Sure, he can do Jessie’s bar for her 21st party, he says. No prah-blim. Ha! Two birds with one stone.

You can see from their bumper they’re probably steady, reliable ous.

Update: NOT. He hasn’t phoned, hasn’t returned messages. I’ll have to play barman.

A Muddy Slog

All clean beforehand

Dad, says seven-yr-old Tom, I’m tired of the 5km and 10km races with Mom. I wanna go on a longer race with you, please.

So we enter the 18km race starting at the Eston country club and meandering thru Tala game reserve. Days before, it starts raining; and it rains; and there’s mud – A LOT of mud. I pushed, I shoved, I carried, I dragged. I went ahead, dropped my bike, went back and pushed their bikes;

We watched people bail left and right. Tractors and trailers were available en-route to offer rescue, and the trailers got piled high with bikes abandoning the slog. But we pushed on, stopping every few metres to scrape sticky mud out of the brake calipers.

And they made it! Not many did. On the way home they recuperated:

kombi zizzing

Not one pic of the mudslog! Aitch had the camera; Anyway, my hands would have been way too muddy!

A Quickie

Mfolosi again. Just one night with three twenty year old lasses, Jess, Tarryn & Jordie.

 On the way one of my pet theories got a bit of backing evidence! When birding by car, I say, ‘Stop anywhere: There will almost always be some birds around’. Busting for a leak I stopped under a bridge on the N2 North. While sighing with relief, I spotted what looked like a black plastic bag flapping in the breeze in a small tree about 30m back; but my binocs revealed it to be a long-crested eagle staring intently at the ground a mere metre below it; then it pounced and fossicked around in the grass; when it flew up it had a plump grey rat with a shortish tail in its beak – a vlei rat, I’d guess. What a lovely sighting at a chance stop.

Kill Site!

In the reserve Jess took the wheel awhile; she hadn’t driven for years, so I was pleased when she asked to; she did real well until – Murphy’s Law! – an open-top Land Cruiser came around the corner right in front of her, full of tourists and a handsome tour guide driving; Distracted, and having to suddenly remember clutch in, steer left and gently brake was a bit too much so she just drove into a little thorn tree, slammed on brakes and stalled. I pretended to be peering into the thorns, some of which were in my open window, through my binocs! Here you can spot her little skid marks:

The tree that Jess hit! – or almost hit!