So the garage door was falling to pieces. Made of strips of aluminium riveted to a frame the rivets had mostly popped and it was flapping in any breezes that wafted.
Something had to be done.
So I waited a few months. And a few storms, for enhanced flapping.
Then I bleated to a project manager who sprang into action, roared off to a hardware store, bought some self-tapping screws and gave them to me along with his automatic, hydromatic, self-propelling, variable speed, battery-operated 14.4Volt hand-held Bosch Power Drill. With star bit for screwing screws with star heads.
He obviously hadn’t understood what I wanted.
So I waited.
Then I told Ziggy, ‘When you’re finished tidying the garage let me know. I need to repair the broken door.’ And sowaar, my patience was rewarded: ‘Why don’t you let Mbono do that? He’s very handy with man things,’ she said.
Now usually I would stop my daughters in their tracks with my standard, ‘Hey! Anything a man can do a woman can do too,’ but I listened and I shurrup. ‘OK’ I said and gave him the screws and a Spanish screwdriver (Manuel).
Mbono fixed the door in no time. Like greased lightning, it was hydromatic, automatic. I was going to post before and after pics here – too late.
So to end this lecture on project management: For suitable tasks all you need is to find one tame project manager and one tame matriculant from Northwood Boys. Then expertly source – or delegate the sourcing of – a bit of equipment and it’s actually quite easy.
The big old album is hitting the recycling bin. I have recorded all the pictures.
Home after our lo-ong honeymoon and some surprise welcomes:
Also in 1988 we had a big optometry conference in Durban. As part of the hosting committee I produced a daily newsletter. Then I became president of the optometric association at the end of the conference.
Friends at the conference – and an induction (Brauer says they induced me):
I dragged some non-canoeing friends out to the Umgeni Valley. I wanted to see the valley for a last time before Inanda Dam drowned it forever. The river was rather shallow – um, VERY shallow! We dragged for miles!
We visited the folks in Harrismith, clambered the slopes of Platberg and sang around the piano:
Bernie & Karen Garcin got married in Empangeni – George Stainton and I were his best men.
In between all the scurrying we lived in our lovely Whittington Court one-bedroom apartment in Marriott Road, and I think I occasionally did a bit of work. Sheila reminded me that she lived there for two years after we bought our house in Westville.
Another of our frequest visits to Hella Hella. And a visit to the Hills on Melrose farm, Mid Illovo.
Good photographers have presence of mind. I’d like more of that stuff.
Last night I leaned back in my office chair – director’s or boss’ chair deluxe, high-back, padded armrests – luxuriously and started to put my feet up on my imbuia wood desk. The smooth motion didn’t stop there, I kept going backwards, the high-back cushioned my head as I crashed, the wheels of the chair caught under the desk, sending a full glass of red wine and a plate of fine curried mutton pie and tomato sauce crashing to the tiled floor, along with the PC monitor and my drone remote control.
Fokop. Chair horizontal, desk at 45 degrees, blood on the floor, legs in the air, same air blue with profanity.
A photographer would have taken a great picture, especially as the blood oozed towards my collection of eleven Okavango Delta books I’d gathered together as I’m getting rid of my library.
I very boringly tidied the broken glass and ceramic, mopped the red wine, re-assembled the scattered shrapnel and then thought: Damn! A picture would have been good.
I sort of re-staged it this morning to show how the chair’s wheeled legs tipped up the old desk on the right.
Another chapter begins. I’ll be leaving the home I’ve lived in the longest in my life – sixteen years. The kids were eight and four when we moved in.
How hard can it be, right? You sell, bank the cash and drive off into the sunset. So I called Aitch’s friend and colleague in her four-year stint as an estate agent, Pam.
Pam, You Know What You’re Doing, You Come And Do This.
So you know what she does? She gives me a list as long as your arm! You do this, then you do this, then . . she’s as bad as Aitch was!
So she tells me: Sell your furniture; sell your books; sell the many wall hangings which haven’t hung on a wall for ten years since Aitch went; Fix the cracks, the windows, the doors, the ceilings; Paint – a lot; Rip up those carpets; New light bulbs;
Mow the lawn – WHAT!? Now you’ve gone too far!
Hell, if I didn’t do all those things for us, why should I do them for strangers? Cos you want to sell the house, Pete.
I decided I’ll never get this done, so we put the house on the market “as is” – its called voetstoots in South Africa. And on that very day we got two offers for the full asking price. A week later their finance was approved and so I asked ‘Must I Leave Now?’ No, they said, it takes about three months before you’ll have your money! Damn!
Now it is very real and I sat Jess and Tom down and broke the news. They picked what they wanted from the house, a truckload went off to Tom’s rented rooms:
Jess wants less, but the other fridge and microwave will go to her.
Here’s hoping the Black Flycatchers breed on the old stoep again, Last time was in a cycling helmet; before that in the bougainvillea creeper that has been removed. This time a plastic flower pot modified and mounted for the purpose.
They have filled the pot with nesting material and the female is starting to spend more time in it. She’s there in the the top right close-up pic, you can just see her tail.
Here are the nests from years gone by, in the creeper and in the helmet:
On Mon, Nov 22, 2010, Pete wrote: I felt a snuggle in bed last night. Wasn’t Aitch. Eight year-old TomTom had come through and was spooned tightly against my back.
Later, when I had to roll over he was wide awake. “Dad” he whispers close to my ear, scared he’ll wake his Ma. Mm “I’m hungry. Can I get up and make myself a snack. I’m really hungry.” He’s 24 kg wringing wet, and his muti suppresses his appetite by day, so I say: Mm
I wake again to a feeling that it has been some time. I can hear dishes clanking, so I get up and tiptoe to the kitchen, where the clock shows straight up 4am. Still dark outside, but the kitchen neon is blazing.
Lots of kit has been employed and a good dusting of icing sugar is evident on the chairs and the floor. What? I ask “Dad” he says, “I’m icing Marie biscuits.” Have you eaten? I ask. “Not yet, Dad, but they’re nearly ready.”
“And” he says, “I’ve made my school lunch.”
I didn’t ask.
Steve replied: Doncha just love it. This young man is not only a problem solver but also aware of the necessity for contingency planning. Hope this does not turn into a regular event though. Our Neil  occasionally mentions he is “off to get some food” at the end of a phone chat to him down in Welly. I imagine this would mean most likely pizza, burger or when he is at his most domesticated, a ready-roasted chicken with some breadrolls. Like you, I don’t ask.
The female Black Cuckooshrike returned and I got a better view. Pics are poor as I took them through my dirty window rather than open up and spook her. One bird, I compiled this montage with FastStone again.
Jessie is smoking tik. That was a shock. I’m sticking with her and supporting her, trying not to lose contact with her. Reading up a lot. I decided to talk, not keep quiet. The first five people I told, four came up with immediate solutions and advice. The fifth listened, empathised, offered an ear and said, “Good Luck, It’s A Long Haul.” He’s a medical specialist doc living with a drug addict child for around forty years.
I remind myself: Jess is addicted to tik AND very addicted to her boyfriend – completely under his sway; Jess takes herself to him – he does not drag her there – although she sometimes says he keeps her there, sometimes when she SAYS she wants to come home; sometimes, though, she admits she decided not to come home despite telling me she was coming; Nothing is clear, though. The truth is a serious casualty of the addiction – there is a lot of lying, a lot of blaming, a lot of confusion and uncertainty;
Both of them, and others who live with them, suffer from paranoia and hallucinations visual and aural, so when they see and hear things it’s not at all clear if they saw it in real life or in hallucination – most of what each of them say they’ve heard is aimed ‘against them,’ so paranoia would explain that; and again, the lying . . . ; Jess is aware that nasty things said against her are possibly real, possibly imagined.
Then I also remind myself that Jess has a wonderful time with him and his family when all is well; Mom, Aunt, Uncle, brothers, a sister. They sing and dance and laugh and get drunk and get high and have a wonderful time and she loves them and is loved by them; Especially the ladies there – Sihle’s sister, Mother and Aunt – treat her very well; So the lows are horrible, but the highs beat the boredom she feels at home.
And I remind myself of that socially acceptable substance right on top of this list. The acceptable one. The one I grew up with.
And I remind myself of the criminal disgrace of the failed, yet ongoing “War on Drugs.” And of how the only places who have reduced drug use and drug crimes are countries that have ended the lie of a “war on drugs” and significantly decriminalised drug use, instead helping drug users with their lives. Who see drug use as a disease, to be treated by healthcare workers, not as a ‘bad choice’ to be stamped out by policemen who are not trained in anything other than arrests and throwing users in jail. They are not equipped to do the very difficult task of talking to users who are high. They’re incentivised to make arrests, so they ‘raid’ and arrest. In the process, all thoughts of a police service go out the window. Instead of assisting their citizens, as they swore to do when they qualified as police officers, the system sets them against them.
An example of unintended consequences and misguided laws: Codeine is freely available in South Africa, you can buy it almost anywhere. We have a fairly low annual prevalence rate of opiate use at 0.3%. In the United States where all opiates are strictly regulated, the prevalence rate is almost double, at 0.57%.
Tolerate drug use!? Legalise all drugs!? What MANIACS would do that!? Well, be a lawmaker. Be honest with yourself and decide which of the drugs you would make illegal if you were making the decisions. Of course, you’re an honest person and you want what’s best for your people, right? To make it easy, let’s say you can only make ONE drug illegal. Which one on the HARMS CAUSED BY DRUGS list below would you choose? Start at the top and count down and choose the one you would ban (even though banning never works). You’d ban the top one, right? The one that causes most harm?
“God save us from the people who want to do what’s best for us.”
“There’s a certain class of people who will do you in and then remain completely mystified by the depth of your pain.”
As for addicts – they have their own challenges:
“You can’t save others from themselves because those who make a perpetual muddle of their lives don’t appreciate your interfering with the drama they’ve created. They want your poor-sweet-baby sympathy, but they don’t want to change.”
“Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between being cautious and being dead.”
“Insecure people have a special sensitivity for anything that finally confirms their own low opinion of themselves.”
These quotes by private investigator Kinsey Millhone, female protagonist in author Sue Grafton‘s novels.
We’ll get there, guys.
I strive for kindness AND wisdom, so on 6 July I passed my course on Addiction and Recovery, so now I’m an expert! Can a complete cure be far off!? Stanford University’s Psychiatric Dept had a six week online course and I just got my results. Learnt a lot and very gratified that expert opinion and the evidence points AWAY from the destructive ‘War On Drugs’ and harsh law enforcement.
TREATING the disease of addiction is the way forward, working with the addicts – each one an individual.
The birdbaths have been quiet. Maybe the winter rain we’ve had? Yesterday was different, we had a little flurry. I heard the tirrilink of firefinches and there they were, at the dripping tap birdbath. They usually hide from me.
A Dark-capped Bulbul, A Dusky Fycatcher and Cape White-Eyes joined them.
When we bought this home over fifteen years ago I reluctantly said to my estate agent wife Aitch, OK, we’ll do it, but then we live in it as is, no spending anything on it for five years, OK? I was making like I was in charge, knew what I was doing and, as the Head of the Household I was Laying Down The Law.
‘Of course, Koosie,’ said Aitch, patting me on the top of my bald head soothingly. ‘After we’ve sorted out the security we won’t spend anything on our home for five years.’ One of the things I liked about the place was it was unfenced and there were no burglar guards on any windows or doors. It looked great. Wide open spaces overlooking the 100ha Palmiet nature reserve. So after Aitch had a new high fence installed with two automated gates, an automated garage door, trellidoors on all the doors and guards on all the windows she said, ‘There you go. No more expenditure.’
And she was as good as her word. As the five year deadline dawned she made plans to ‘sort out’ the rest. Big plans. Dammit then she died on the very day the builders arrived to start the huge changes. Right now she’s wagging her finger at me from up high on her cloud for the lovely open-plan kitchen she never got to use (which, BTW Aitch, is WAY bigger and more-er than I need!). The best-laid plans . . .
Due to no supervision the new wide sliding doors have no trellidoors – cos I think trellidoors are ugly; and due to normal neglect and lack of maintenance the gates and the garage door stopped working in time. I know – or I’ve heard – some people are organised enough to put moth balls in their gate motors every month or so, to keep the ants out, but not everyone has that technical skill set. So we reverted to manual operation and to often leaving the gate or gates open for convenience. The garage door too, reverted to manual up and down. It’s a bit like Eskom: What did we do before candles were invented? We had electricity.
Now we’re automated again, and even have cameras nogal! New gate motors, a new garage door motor and new security gates on doors. An insurance assessment laid out what I needed to do to not be paying for insurance only to have a claim refused. Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted. By turning over a new leaftree forest I’m sure I will be so much better on routine maintenance from now on. Already my neighbours who charge their cellphones here and draw water at our tap have asked, ‘And now, Pete?’
They do approve, though. They’ve ‘always said, Pete you should . . . ‘ – You know how it goes.
On the way to Tobias Gumede’s umuzi north of Jozini on the Makathini Flats of the Pongola river floodplain, you pass a nyanga’s advertising billboard. He can sort out all your problems.
Not all his own, though, so he died and the new nyanga re-wrote the promises when we last went there.
Tobias’ home had also been upgraded. He’d added a covered entrance porch:
Leaving his home and continuing north you cross the Pongola where a magnificent old fig suffers the depredations of progress, erosion exposing its roots to a dangerous degree.
The new nyanga sign says (take my translation with a pinch of salt):
his gift we built
that which advances
the big (important) traditional doctor
April 2018: Tobias has just walked in. He has come to work straight from the hospital where they measured his blood pressure: 204 over 124! I sat him down and told him don’t move until that BP is down! So, much to his dismay, he’s under house arrest today. He has taken his muti and will take again tonight and tomorrow, then we’ll see if we can release him! But I’m fine! he protested, so I told him in gruesome detail what high BP can do to you, with a graphic artistic demonstration when I got to the ‘fall down dead’ stage. ‘Twas a powerful performance.
Later: I bought a supply of his two tablets and kept them at home with strict instructions: If you forget to take your tablets at home, take them here. Never miss! Yebo baba.
March 2020: On his last day before the COVID-19 lockdown I gave them to him to take home. Now it’s April 2021 and he assures me he takes them faithfully. I once again asked him, When you hear a man has suddenly died, what usually killed him? He couldn’t answer right away and I prompted him and he remembered. Oh yes! The ‘PRESSURE.‘ Yep, Take Your Pills, I droned.
Lang Dawid came to visit after decades in the hinterland. Always very organised, he sent bearers ahead of his arrival bearing two lists: Ten new birds he wanted to see; and Three old bullets he wanted to see.
We delivered thirty percent of his bird list: A Red-capped Robin-Chat, A White-eared Barbet and a Terrestrial Brownbul;
Forty percent if you count the bonus male Tambourine Dove that landed in a patch of sunlight, a lifer for Dave.
All this thanks to Crispin Hemson showing us his special patch, Pigeon Valley in urban Durban. Talk about Guru Guiding! with his local knowledge, depth, anecdotes, asides and wandering all over, on the ground and in our minds. And his long-earned exalted status in this forest even allowed us to avoid arrest while climbing through a hole in the fence like naughty truant schoolboys. Whatta lovely man.
Then Dave and I retreated home to my patch in the Palmiet valley, where Tommy had cleaned up, readied the cottage for Dave’s stay and started a braai fire. Spot on, Tom!
One hundred percent of Dave’s list of old paddling mates arrived. Like homing pigeons, Allie, Charlie and Rip zoomed in. So I had four high-speed paddlers in their day on my stoep, race winners and provincial and national colours galore. We scared off any birds that might have been in the vicinity (feathered or human), but had a wonderful afternoon nevertheless, with lots of laughs.
After they left Dave and I had braai meat for supper; This morning we had braai meat for breakfast and he was off after a fun-filled 24 hours. I sat down to polish the breakfast remains and another cup of coffee and as a bonus, a female Tambourine Dove landed on my birdbath:
A tragic consequence of their visit was an audit of my booze stocks the next day. Where before they’d have plundered, this time I ended up with more than I’d started with. How the thirsty have fallen!
Dave’s camera equipment is impressive: a Canon EOS 7D Mk2 body; – https://www.techradar.com/reviews/canon-eos-7d-mark-ii-review – and a 500mm telephoto lens and his go-to, a 70-200mm lens. His main aim is getting a pic of every bird he sees. He shot his 530th yesterday here in Pigeon Valley. So he chases all over Southern Africa ticking off his ‘desired list.’ A magic, never-ending quest: there’ll always be another bird to find; there’ll always be a better picture to try for.