Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Travel Africa

Sheffield Beach Tribal Gathering

When I found them they were huddled together like Vaalies on a beach. Oh, wait! They WERE Vaalies on a beach. I should have taken a picture of Brauer’s beach outfit: A double-padded fluffy anorak. Sort of a Tshwane Tshpeedo. And a hoed.

We soon scurried off the dreaded sand in search of lunch. In their defence, it was blowing a gale. I kindly took them on a guided tour of – what place was it? – and then speedily straight to Canelands overlooking ve beach.

Back at the cottage:

– ‘thinks’ – is this old top in an anorak in pain? What’s that noise? –

Their cottage overlooked the beach from on high and despite being grandkid-infested, was very pleasant except for the absence of beer.

Perched high on a cliff, it puzzled me. I thought I remembered our cottage back in 1980 as being right on the beach . .

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

. . and then I remembered: It was Blythedale Beach in 1980. Not Sheffield . .

Sat, Feb 12, 2011(Newser) – An asteroid all but buzzed Earth on Friday, NASA has revealed. The asteroid, known as 2011 CQ1, passed just 3,405 miles above the Earth’s surface as it hung a sharp turn around the planet. That’s the closest near-miss ever recorded, beating a record set by a rock in 2004 by a few hundred miles. The asteroid was just a meter wide, small enough that Earth’s gravity would affect its course, in this case bending its path 60 degrees. Not that there was any real danger if the asteroid had veered into Earth’s atmosphere . . OK, they’re starting to talk nonsense so we’ll cut them off there.

Me: Brings to mind the heroics on Blythedale Beach when we single-handedly (the other hand was holding cheap liquor) fended off the comet which was threatening planet Earth at the time. Whether it was the coleanders and coriander and spatulas or the alcohol fumes from our breath that caused it to veer away is a moot point: Bottom line is it BALEKA’d and the planet was saved.
Funny how little credit we have got for that over the years. Maybe we fell asleep at the medal awards ceremony . .

Steve reed wrote: Jees – I had [almost] forgotten that heroic weekend. I now recall the collander, and making do with some pretty substandard alcohol [probably not a GREAT wine as in 4 Hillside]. Also I recall some of us may have slept on the beach. Bulletproof days. Was that Filly with us as well as her friend whom I remember clearly was from Marandellas in Zim. Wait! A flashback:

‘Comet – it makes your breath small clean;

Comet – it tastes like gliserine.. ‘

Of iets. Not sure that I want to remember too much more…

Me: So many flashbacks! Maybe as the brain cells die, those old pickled ones gain more prominence? Maybe the flashes are vitreous detachments? Surreal. The sales jingle for comet continues:

‘Comet! It makes you vomit

So take some Comet

and vomit

Today . . ‘

Hooligans. I was innocent. I fell amongst thieves . .

But its all true. You can check the 1980 newspapers: How many comets hit Blythedale beach that year? NONE. Not one.

OK, so our comet – probably 8P/Tuttle 1980XIII – may have been further away at 37,821,000km, but it was 4500m in size, not a puny 1m rock. So it’s still a good thing we were out there all night shaking our fists at it, daring it to approach.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

The next day the weather improved, so I claimed some credit: ‘Did you get the good weather I prayed for for you guys?’

Brauer: You clearly have a more direct line then this bunch of unbelievers.

The sun shone down on them. Smiling grandkids, happy windloos days. Actually I hadn’t actually prayed. I pulled some strings. As St Peter I have connections, so I called on the Roman god Venti and the Egyptian god Amun about the wind. Together, they delivered. Bacchus was unable to help with the wine situation.

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Mfolosi Day Trip

2019 Aug day trip

This trip was notable for the worst lunch ever: Jess usually makes a great lunch. Fresh rolls, mayonnaise, freshly-sliced tomatoes. This time she had plastic rolls, viennas – and chicken viennas at that – and tomato sauce. Ugh! She has undertaken to work with me in raising the standard.

– dry plastic-y bread rolls and viennas!! –
Africa, Aitch, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Mabibi and Sibaya

Camping at Mabibi in Zululand with the kombi – and Taylor with his puny little JEEP.

On the way I pretended (!) to get stuck to give the JEEP owner an ego boost:

– sundowners on the lake – Tom, Dizzi, Gayle, Jessie & Aitch –
– every body had to get lip-stick’d –
– Jon took a shot of me emerging sylph-like out of the champagne-clear waters of the lake –

. . which reminded me of Ursula in Dr. No . . Me and Ursula were like twins, ‘cept I wore less clothing and had something useful in my hand . .

Ursula Andress did it in 1962 in Dr. No; Halle Berry paid homage in 2002 in Die Another Day; and I trumped them both in 2003 in Lake Sibaya.

Africa, Family & Kids, Life

Twin Dilemmas

It’s a helluva dilemma! Rose has given him R200 for watering her orchids. He can’t keep it, but she won’t take it back. He’s offered a number of times, but she just refuses! What on EARTH can he do?!

Just Keep It, says his Idiot Son. Can you believe it? How can I just keep it? I don’t want it, I just watered her plants. And she was grateful and she wanted to give you R200, so just say Thank You and keep it, repeats the I.S. How can I do that? Well, didn’t you say she underpaid you by R100 000 for the house and you should have held out for your price? Just say Thank You and keep it. Mumble mumble.

And anyway, he has another YUGE dilemma: He has four gate remotes that he won’t need when he leaves and they have four cars and they could use them. But he can’t just give it to them! Do I think he can sell them to them? He thinks he’s going to ask them to pay for them. Just give the remotes to them when you leave, says the Idiot Son. What! Do I know what they’re worth!? Yes, nothing once you leave here and valuable to them. Keep the R200 and give them the remotes. That way you have both done a kind deed to each other, which is a good thing as Rose is still going to be a very influential force in your life at Azalea Retirement home.

Remember: You did not sell your house to Joe Soap. You sold to a person who is in charge where you are going. Keep the R200 and give her the remotes as a gift. This gaans aan for a few weeks. He keeps asking and he keeps getting the same dumb advice from I.S. = NOT the advice he’s looking for. You’d think a son of his would have more common sense.

He revs up his ‘remote dilemma’ again today so I say I told you what I think you should do. What? I repeat it. Oh, yes, he says. But I can’t. She finally took back her R200 last night.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

gaans aan – ad nauseum

Africa, Family & Kids, Life

Home Truths

We were talking about delayed gratification and I was saying I think its a necessary and powerful skill – and historical. And I could tell a ‘today’ story to illustrate the absence of the ability to delay gratification in the terrible Youth Of Today:

I spent my morning at Home Affairs today. Bear with me, it’s boring:

For months I have said “Tom, go get your ID card and a passport. Something might pop up where you really regret not having them. Like you win an overseas vacation and . . “

‘Yes Dad.’

So for some weeks he’s been ‘I’m gonna DO IT!‘ “Sure you are boy, get everything ready. Prepare. Make sure you know what’s needed.”

He doesn’t. We have a false start.

Today’s the new start. They’re gonna wake me at 4am and they’re gonna be first in the queue! They have A PLAN!

So I wake them at 4.30. Them is Tom and Ziggy. Ziggy is a star. His best friend and the only person who can klap him and have HIM say sorry.

I drop them off in Umgeni Road in the dark before 6am – it took them that long to move they asses.

Soon after I get home *pring pring*: ‘Dad, you have to also be here with your ID book and proof of address. They need the parent’s fingerprints for a first ID.’

They have gleaned this knowledge from those-in-the-queue-who-have-been-before.

At 8am I check my apt book is not snowed under – it’s not – so I mosey down there and join the fun. Be at work at 12 says Raksha. At 11 I see I’m not gonna make it so she says OK, 3pm. I read Cronje Wilmot’s book that Janet gave me on his days in Botswana. The famous Wilmot family of Maun.

By 12 we’re near the end and suddenly these two “need a snack” – ‘Dad, we’re starving!’ ‘Just a snack!’

“NO, I insist, firmly. “Eat afterwards. Do not leave the queue now.” Delay your gratification, I’m saying.

So they bugger off and true’s Bob, our place in the shuffling queue reaches Nirvana and they’re not back and their phones aren’t answered. Fuck that, I’m calm. I’m old now, I don’t panic easily. I wave the next auntie through and sit.

– Nirvana –

I phone again. COME NOW.

‘Aaw, we’re in the queue to buy hot chips!’ “Dammit Tommy, come now. LEAVE the food!”

OK

Tom gets seen next, as soon as they arrive back. Ziggy has a delay as her number was cancelled and had to be reactivated. I left after I’d given my thumbprints and R400 for the passport – your first ID card is free.

But not before Tom gives me a huge public hug and ‘THANKS DAD!’ in front of the assembled masses. He knows that always fixes a lot and allows future misbehaviour! Such as immediately bumming some ‘Cash for lunch, Dad!’

And Ziggy was seen to soon after I left, they tell me tonight.

Little shits.

– Home affairs Umgeni Road Durban – Tom and Ziggy –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Africa, Family & Kids

The Goatitudes 5. Say WHAT!

Mom has a bad spell so I visit her in frail care in PMB Sunday. While I was there she had a much worse spell, fading, then going far-away-staring-eyed and then collapsing, limp as a ragdoll. This after she’d played the piano then ate supper and drank a cup of tea. I caught her and lowered her into her chair, holding her upright. Sister Rose is there in a flash and leans her way back, getting her head low and her arms up. Of, course, low blood pressure! I should have thought of that. I was thinking TIA, not low BP.

We lift her onto a wheelchair and then into her bed. Rose jacks up the foot of the bed to get her blood flowing to her head. Whenever we talk to her, dear old stalwart always-keen-to-please Mary responds, but very faint and random words, no connection to what we’re asking. She falls asleep, blood pressure is improving, pulse is strong throughout and blood sugar levels fine. Sister Rose monitors regularly.

I spend the night with Dad in their home so I can visit her the next morning. Monday 7am I make tea before we visit Mom. Dad arrives sans teeth and hearing aids, talking a blue streak as always. I can safely ignore the muffled patter. He takes a sip of tea and then realises: ‘Damn! My teeth.’ I point at his ears. He comes back, teeth in and intelligible, one hearing aid in. Not that he needs to hear me. He just needs me to hear him and nod him yes. I wonder why he only puts one ear in, the other he puts on the table.

At Mom’s (she’s much better, but definitely not right) he can’t hear. ‘What? Wait, let me put my other hearing aid in, and then say that again.’ Skoffels around in his ear, in his jersey pockets. Then his pants pockets. Then his shirt pocket. Oh hell, he must have left it at home.

Tuesday night he phones me. He heated the soup that Sheila had made for him, microwaved it for two minutes, nice and hot. In swallowing the last spoonful he bit down * crunch * on something.

Yep

The missing hearing aid.

~~~~~oo0oo~~~~~

He says he phoned Mom to tell her of the hearing aid drama. She has been hugely involved in the saga and frustrations of his hearing aid devices and his moans about useless audiologists over the last decade.

She sounded much better, he says. Then, sadly, she piped up: ‘I didn’t know you wore a hearing aid!’ says dear old Mom.

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, Nostalgia

The Goatitudes 4. Bear Witness

The old man gets The Witness delivered to his gate daily. He has fetched it at the gate at around 5am for decades. His 96yr-old legs started protesting against this chore so he recently roped in the kid next door. For R20 a month the kid now hangs the packet it comes in on the back door.

The paper – as The Natal Witness – was first printed in 1846 and it has been going continuously ever since. Today the old man tells me has read it for 91 years, since he was five. His Dad used to sit on his ‘captain’s chair’ holding it spread out in front of him and Dad used to creep under the paper, lean against Oupa’s boep and ask ‘Wat’s daai? En Wat’s Daai? En Daai?’, pointing at pictures and words.

When he moved to Harrismith he subscribed to it through the local bookstore.

Ah, but now he remembers: After a few years the lady there said The Witness was stopping delivery. The schlep of delivering a single copy to the station late at night, hot off the press, for it to be railed from Pietermaritzburg to Harrismith was just not worth it. So no longer would The Natal Witness fly along the rail, past Chievely, Estcourt and Weenen where the Boer War was fought and Churchill was captured, die blerrie rooinek. Through Ladysmith which was besieged and relieved; Nor up the Drakensberg mountains over rail bridges my Great-Grandfather built, through van Reenen, through Swinburne, over the sandstone bridge over the Wilge River to Harrismith station; up to Havenga se boekwinkel, fresh for delivery to Pieter Gerhardus Swanepoel, formerly of Pietermaritzburg, The Natal Witness’ home town. No.

So he subscribed to The Star, which came from Johannesburg, but now he got it one day late. So his reading of The Witness, which he continued once he got back to PMB some twenty years ago, was not continuous.

Still, it FEELS as though he has read it for 91 years.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~