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Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

– this swanepoel family –

My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer!

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Bird Bathing

A red-capped Robin-chat, a vervet monkey and a Purple-crested Turaco visit the birdbaths. Then later:

More vervets, Red-eyed Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul and Black-bellied Glossy Starlings. And then no birds, but a nice shadow:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Protection Racket

Who are you!? What you want!? Be off with you!? Go find your own Sugar Daddy!

These thoughts or something like them wafted through Jessie’s brain as she charged at Tiger and made to push him; he ducked behind his new Mama’s leg, wondering what was up with this fierce child.

We fostered Tiger from six months old to a month past his first birthday. You can imagine the birthday party! Aitch’s first child’s first birthday!

Then he got adopted by Mr and Mrs Buthelezi. She a schoolteacher, he an entrepreneur. His first return to visit us was two or three months later – pre-Jess – and he didn’t know us! When we went to greet him he hid in his new Mom’s arms!

– Lucky and __ Buthelezi visit with their NEW baby Owethu (ex-Tiger). He’s already head-over-heels in love with his new Ma! –

This visit was a lot later and so it was like all new to him again. So the fiercely protective action from Jess musta surprised the poor fella, who name was now Owethu (‘ours’) Buthelezi.

– Dad keeps a beady eye on Jessie, who was not at all enamoured with this intruder! –

Aitch gave him a gift and that didn’t help either! Where was HER gift!? And just WHO is this intruder again? And why is he in MY house? We called the episode ‘Tiger Enters the Lioness’ Den.’

– Lucky Buthelezi, Tiger (now Owethu), Jessie and Owethu’s big cuz or big sis – I’m the handcuffs –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Jessica’s Tummy Mummy

I would think I’d call an adopted daughter of mine a lovely Zulu name. But Jess arrived as Jessica, two years and two days old and named Jessica by her fifteen year old mother Thembi. Just Jessica. Of course, we couldn’t imagine her as anything but Jess/Jessie/Jessica now! ‘Cept maybe JessiePops, like godmother Dizzi calls her.

Jessie's first morning with us.
– jessie’s first morning with us –

Thembi had been checked in to hospital for a five month course of TB treatment and Durban Child Welfare decided Jess had to be fostered. They phoned us and we said Sure! We’d been about four months without a foster kid.

We took her straight to Thembi at King George V or VI Hospital* after checking it was safe to do so. We wanted Jess to see where Thembi was, and Thembi to know Jess was in good hands. We – especially Aitch – visited her often till she was well and discharged.

We met the family that had first rescued Thembi from her fate as a child domestic worker who had been impregnated by her boss. They were South Africans – ‘Indian’, ‘Coloured’ and ‘African’ if you must. This was why Thembi only spoke English to Jess. The lingua franca in her lovely circle of benefactors was English. She was given a corner on the floor in the lounge of a small flat in Melbourne Road, where she could be safe, raise Jess and go out to do whatever work she could find.

Then followed a number of years of Trish raising two ‘children’, little Jess and her tummy mummy teenager Thembi. Aitch was amazing in her support of Thembi and helped her to adulthood and some measure of independence. Literary classes, computer classes, sewing lessons and more were arranged. Hair appointments were made, dentists appointments for significant repair work.

Aitch 'adopted' Thembi too and looked after her
– restaurant visit! –

Thembi then met a long-wanted boyfriend who was so good for and to her. Tragically, though, she ended up becoming HIV positive. Trish arranged expert care and a reliable source and clockwork collection of antivirals by meeting with the lady in charge of the HIV / AIDS program at King Edward VIII Hospital. Soon into the relationship, Thembi asked us to adopt Jess. Whattapleasure.

Fortnightly lunches with Thembi were unmissable. Aitch would arrange to meet, pick up Thembi and the three girls would find the shops for Thembi’s needs, and a restaurant for a meal and for Aitch and Thembi to swop news; then Jess and Thembi would chat – just a little at first, but later they would take to giggling together like schoolgirls, discussing the clothes and actions of passersby. Jess still fondly talks about those gossipy times.

A visit was made to Thembi’s family home outside Port Shepstone for her mom and gran – Jess’ gran and great-gran – and the extended family to see how Jessie was doing among the umlungus. Over the years, a sister and the great-grandmother died, coffins and funerals were arranged.

Thembi's Mom and Gran
– four generations- from Jessie, front left – granma, great-granma and ma Thembi- ma Aitch took the pic –

When she moved out to Newlands West, Trish sourced clothes and other articles she could sell on the street and door-to-door.

When Thembi got sicker and weaker she was booked into Addington hospital. Jess wrote her a letter. By now Aitch was not too well herself so I would usually go and deliver the goodies – I remember a cellphone charger, airtime and food goodies being among the things Trish would send Thembi.

Thembi card frm Jess Jan2010

Thembi died in Addington. Another coffin and transport. Her brother Dumi and her boyfriend – who were both good to her, as she was to them – took her body back to Port Shepstone.

~~~oo0oo~~~

* Now King Dinuzulu Hospital. Isn’t that a better name for a hospital in KwaZuluNatal? I don’t know anything about either of them, but as an African, Who the Hell is King George!? Now King Dinuzulu, lemme go and look up about him . . .

Whatta Relief

Like FINALLY relieving yourself after a desperate long wait – whatta relief. Aah!!

A nice Zimbabwean man with a three ton truck came and took it all away.

Now why didn’t I do this LONG AGO?

I was sad to see my first plastic kayak go – but I’ve had four others, still got a new one – and UV had got to this 1983 Perception!

~~~oo0oo~~~

I Will Wait For You

Sasha is a SPCA rescue mutt who worships her rescuers. When niece Linda goes to town from the farm – which could be all day – she waits.

Here she waits in the cold winter rain while they go off to Durban:

Eventually seeking shelter, but still alert and watching for Linda’s return:

– Katie and Emma watch new pup Pondo –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Nine Years Today

. . and then Jessie’s tribute:

Who’ve I missed out? Who else should be posed with Aitch here?

~~~oo0oo~~~

Fab Five Reunion

Larry visited from Ohio back in 1996, so we arranged to meet up as the Old Fab Five musketeers down in Cape Town, where Steph and Tuffy were living.

He had been Harrismith’s Rotary exchange student back in 1969 and had returned to South Africa twice before – once in 1976, down through Africa from Greece all the way to Cape Town; and once in 1985, when we had done an overland trip Botswana to Zimbabwe.

Trish and I took him to Mkhuze game reserve:

– in Mkhuze –

and down to Cape Town:

– the Fab Five plus Rope – Pierre, Rope, Koos, Steph, Tuffy, Larry –

Asked what the Fab Five was I had to think about it. We were a gentlemanly triple-AA gang club who would meet clandestinely after dark and do creative things. The one AA was for automobiles, which we would borrow under an intricate arrangement where the actual owners were not part of the bargaining process; we would then use these automobiles to go places; And the other AA was for alcohol, which we would procure under an intricate arrangement of dispatching a third party who could legally buy the stuff, to a bottle store other than my parents’ bottle store; we would then imbibe it for the purpose of stiffening our resolve. And for laughter and the third AA: Action Adventure!

– the SAAB re-enactment didn’t happen – we used Tuffy’s bakkie instead –

One of the founding reasons for launching the august club was we suddenly had a Yank in our midst and we were really afraid he’d go back to the metropolis of Cobleskill, upstate New York and say there was nothing to do in Harrismith. The thought mortified us. We had to DO something!

~~~oo0oo~~~

We were reminded how offended we were late one night on one of our adventures – this one not motorised – when we saw a policeman driving around drunk! That was OUR forte! What was HE doing driving around drunk like us!? So we phoned the copshop from a tickey box, reported him to the dame on laatnag diens and walked away feeling smug. Next thing we heard a squealing of tyres and the roaring of a Ford F150 straight six. It was him! She had obviously radio’d him and told him! Maybe they were an item!?

We started running as the cop van roared closer. It was the only thing making a noise in the whole dorp at three in the morning so we could easily hear where he was. We sprinted past the Kleinspanskool and as he came careening around the corner we dived under the raised foundations of Laboria – Alet de Witt’s big block of flats. We crawled through and out the other side, at Steph’s house. Steph & Larry went home as did Tuff. Pierre and I had a way to go yet, so we set off along Stuart Street – we could hear him in the grey Ford F150 with the straight six and the tralies over the windows roaring around in Warden Street. He never stood a chance of catching us. We were fleet of foot!

~~~oo0oo~~~

tickey box – street phone booth

dame on laatnag diens – lady on late night duty

Kleinspanskool – junior primary school

tralies – burglar bars

Can Always Learn

So I was busy murdering a cherry tree like George Washington when a goggo scurried out of my meadow onto my driveway. I took a photo and before I could take another, or turn ‘him’ over to see his underneath, he was gone. Scuttled off.

I thought I had a good idea what it was – a crustacean, not an insect. I ‘knew’ cos he didn’t have wings; he didn’t have legs; he had scales like a pangolin; Hey! This was no insect. But which crustacean was he, I wondered?

Dunno, so I put him on iNaturalist.

My suggestion was crustacean? woodlouse?

Back came the reply: Giant cockroach. Rubbish I thought! Look again! And then I found out it’s not just the birding world that can get all superior on you! BUT! I said – he doesn’t have wings! I was answered with a growl:

Blaberid cockroach, confirmed and doubly confirmed and finally confirmed. Wingless female.

OK. Tucked my tail twixt me legs then.

~~~oo0oo~~~

goggo – thingamibob; gogga; creature; insect

So I spose if I had been able to turn HER upside down I’d have seen this:

and not this:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mfolosi Day Trip

Jess and I have been sussing out the Zululand game reserves COVID-19 scene and phoning and today was the day. We left soon after 6am. My gauge showed how little I have driven in lockdown – I filled up on the 24th March: Less than 100km in three months!

We got to the gate before 9am where the staff were very friendly and welcoming as they gave us an arms-length welcome complete with hand sanitising and temperature measuring.

Lovely day, not a cloud in the sky but a stiff breeze. Very few animals about but we just enjoyed being there. I decided to go straight to Sontuli picnic site for lunch and then straight home so we’d be back before 5pm.

Jess made a lovely picnic lunch while I recorded a whole bunch of birds: Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Olive Thrush, Southern Black Tit, Golden-breasted Bunting, African Hoopoe, FT Drongo, Black Flycatcher, Blue Waxbill, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Red-eyed Dove, White-backed Vulture, Rufous-naped Lark, Black-crowned Tchagra, Black-bellied Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Long-billed Crombec, Mocking Cliff Chat bashing a gecko, Yellow-fronted Canary, Pied Crow, Red-faced Mousebird, Crowned Lapwing, Red-billed Oxpecker, Cattle Egret, Woolly-necked Stork, etc. Heard Greater Honeyguide, Green-backed Camaroptera and Gorgeous Bush Shrike up close, but couldn’t spot them.

Jess spotted eles, giraffe, zebra, square-lipped rhino, warthogs, impala, and I saw one bushbuck.

On the way out I ducked down a side road to Bhekapansi Pan at the spur of the moment. And got a flat tyre! My jack didn’t lift the car high enough to get the spare on; luckily a fellow Ford Ranger driver came along and I could use his jack on a rock to lift it up the extra 50mm I needed!

Thank you! That got us up and away – and home by 6:30pm

~~~oo0oo~~~

Lockdown – In Our Lucky Valley

Random pictures from lockdown in our valley.

I won’t get all the credits right, but for starters, lots of bird pics from Roger Hogg, lots of butterfly, moth and caterpillar – and many other creatures – from Suncana. And a few from me:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Jess Cooks a Curry

Petrea said to Jess, Cook a curry for your Dad. Jess said, ‘I’ve never done that before.’ Don’ worry, says Petrea and delivers a box. Leaves it at the gate.

All you have to buy is chicken, Jess. On the day, Jess marches into my office, ‘Dad! There’s no recipe!’ Petrea says read the back of the spices. Oh.

It was delicious! Tom specially came in and gave his sis a big hug and kiss and said ‘Jess! Best curry ever!’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Nothing New Under the Sun

The quote ‘there is no new thing under the sun,’ comes from the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, which is said to be written by a King of Jerusalem. ‘He’ tells of his experiences and tries to learn from them. He is often refreshingly self-critical. The author writes under the pseudonym ‘Kohelet’ – translated as Ecclesiastes.’

He introduces ‘the kohelet’ – thus not himself – as the son of David. Who the author actually is, is never revealed. Only right at the end does he change from ‘quoting Kohelet’ and give his own thoughts, proclaiming all the actions of man to be inherently vain or futile, as . . . we all die.

At least he does endorse living wisely; he says we should live a good earthly life, even if it has no eternal meaning. Enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life such as eating, drinking, and taking enjoyment in one’s work.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Xmas Activity

First a gang of bandits invade, foraging . .

– banded mongoose gang investigates what’s for lunch –

. . then a prinia flies in, busy, busy. Looking for nesting material

– tawny-flanked prinia chooses nesting material –

A busy xmas and boxing day in Elston Place, Westville, KZN.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Let’s Watch The Comrades, comrades!

This year’s Comrades Marathon has been CoVidded – no go. This was the 2013 Comrades ultra-marathon. The route runs past our doorstep, and I have a houseful of hooligans, so I hatch a plan . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Courage and Principle

I said the book was coming. Now it’s here! I’m on page 121 236 and I’ll report back soon.

I finished and will have to write a summary. What a saga! Twenty years of telling people one simple fact: What these developers are proposing will completely ruin Vetch’s Pier and Vetch’s Beach! And very few people listening. Eventually Johnny managed to get some people to listen. The result is he managed to SAVE VETCH’s BEACH!! – an amazing feat for one man, his two-man legal team – who did the work Pro Deo – and the people he managed to get to support these three principled people against huge evil rich crooked corrupt private and government adversaries. But Vetch’s Pier is gone forever.

My copy was hand-delivered by the author himself! Johnny Vassilaros met me in the PnP parking lot near my home – he had penned a lovely inscription -:

If you’re interested in Durban; if you’re interested in good governance; if you’re interested in skullduggery and corruption and thieving; if courage and principle is important to you; and if you’re interested in reading the Wonderful Prose of Johnny – get this book! – write to littleboatsandbigfish@gmail.com –

At the very least, read courageous and principled Adv Peter Rowan’s foreword.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Morning Sun from the West!?

I suddenly realised yesterday that the Yellow-bellied Greenbul was in bright light, as was the Purple-crested Turaco that was the next lady for a shave. It was 8am and the trouble with my birdbath is that it’s in deep shade and the morning light from behind makes photography difficult.

Took me a while to work it out. So this morning I recorded what happened. Watch how the sun is behind the trees, then suddenly appears between the pickup and left of the trees! Then the sunlight moves from left to right till the birdbath is bathed in its glory.

What the heck? I walked out onto the lawn and looked back:

– the sun from the east beating down on my chair – the reflected sun shining back on my birdbath –

The building behind us on the crest of the hill reflects the winter morning sun down onto my birdbath! Whattapleasure! It’ll only last a little while as the sun moves towards winter solstice. I’ll try’n get a good picture while it lasts. This morning was windy and nothing came to the bath while I watched. Not a sausage!

Whattahoot! Just last week I had used a shaving mirror to reflect the sun onto a butterfly in shade. Here it was being done for me!

~~~oo0oo~~~

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