For You Guys When I’m Not Around

For You Guys When I’m Not Around

Like, if I was on an island in the Okavango Delta sipping champagne out of cellphone reach and you can’t ask me for advice or money?* Then read this . . .
Love – I love you guys more than you’ll ever know. And I’m very very proud of you and so very very pleased I am lucky enough to have you as my children.
Kind – Be kind. Especially to the poor, meek and timid.
Help – Where you can. Help yourself, be kind to yourself (and hard on yourself as far as getting things done) but also help others wherever you can. It feels good, and it’s rewarding.
Do it for you – When you help people, don’t expect a reward; When you greet people, don’t expect a reply; Do it for you.
Work – When you’re at work, work. Work honestly and deliver. If you’re unhappy, don’t leave. Plan first. When you have your alternative ready, leave on your own terms, without rancour. If no alternative pans out, and where you are is really bad, then leave anyway, and work honestly and deliver on the next job. When you’re unemployed, you still have a job: Finding your next job. Work hard at finding it: Plan, prepare, talk to people, work at it.
Religion – Look into all religions. Understand their origins and the holes they were meant to fill. Know that we know far more now than they did then (even as recently as the 1950’s when L Ron Hubbard started his religion (called Scientology – hidden behind the recruiting front called Dianetics); Hell, we even know more now than in 2005 when Bobby Henderson started one of the kinder, more rational religions, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Learn about how many Gods there are (hundreds) and what each one of their followers believe. Take the time to really understand religion. And when you have carefully worked out why people dismiss all gods other than their own, you will start to see how ALL gods have actually been created by humans. In their own likeness. To fill a need.
If learning about the world and how it works doesn’t satisfy your need for “why are we here”, and you feel you need to be a something, then become a Humanist. Read here: – and when you have time to read slowly and read over & over, read here: – its just 8 pages, well worth reading and re-reading.
Even better, DO something: Become a scout leader, a coach or a dance teacher.
Teach – Be a teacher. Even if you don’t become a teacher, still be a teacher in your life. Right near you there are children who need guidance and support and fun. If you have a car and they don’t, just take them to the beach once a month. Or take them fishing with you. Teach them how to attach a hook and cast. Teach them how to use a computer. Or to play a game. COMMIT to once a month.
Laugh – Laugh lots. Laugh with people, not at people.
Be scientific – Require evidence. When someone asks you to trust them, ask them to do you the courtesy of giving you proof, evidence, a link – or at least their statement in writing, signed by them (a lot of strong adamant statements evaporate – or at least dilute – when asked for in writing). “Trust me” is used by too many dishonest people to trust it. Look for evidence. And always get a receipt (remember my mantra “slip and change”!?)

Love again – Love people. Love them. Be gentle with them. Sure they can irritate you and frustrate you, but they’re great, all in all.
Mom – Mom loved you fiercely. She loved you with her whole heart – and was awfully proud of you. Same as me.

Well, we weren't married yet . . . .

Oscar Wilde said: Advice is great stuff – in the giving . . . .

*or if I have shuffled on . . .

Thutty Yizz! (that's '30yrs' to you)

Aitch never held my culinary skills in high regard. Her favourite meal to mock was my chicken-onion-n-potato-in-a-pot special which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With a touch of salt and black pepper and enough red wine taken internally it was fine.

She was right about my braaiing skills, though. Luckily Tom’s genes skipped back about seven generations to when burning dead animals on a naked flame was considered an advance in civilisation, not like I believe it to be: a pointless exercise now that Eskom has been invented. So he is now my braaiing stunt double.

Tom braais

To show that I’m an early adopter and no Luddite, I’ll have everyone know that when Aitch met me back in ’85 there was already an AEG microwave ensconced in my bachelor flat, faithfully re-heating coffee, poaching eggs and heating up the half hamburgers I would find on my chest after a good night out.

Which same microwave gave up the ghost this week. That’s correct. My AEG microwave, bought on 26 March 1984 fizzled on me on the 26th of March 2014. How’s that for hi-fidelity?

And just to show I really will avoid playing the primitive pyromaniac if I can help it, here’s a picture of me pulling my shirt to hide that same microwave behind me at Kosi Bay, Zululand ca 2002. I snuck it into the kombi knowing their campsites had Eskom power and knowing that heating up Tommy’s bottles was a fiddle without it. So I took gas and I took firewood and I took Lion matches, but I used AEG electric microwave technology powered-by-Eskom’s coal burning to feed TomTom.

microwave in Kosi Bay 2002
– see the electric light burning by day to prove Eskom was a 24hr service back then –

Update: Now I’m pissed off it packed up after only 30 years:

NEWS STORY: 93-yr-old woman is pissed off her oven packed up after only 53 years!

In 1963 John F Kennedy was president of the US, the Beatles had released their first album, and Winifred Hughes of Crewe, then a mere 39yrs old, paid £79 for an ultra-modern Belling Classic electric oven. It turned out to be an amazing bargain. Winifred,­ now 92, has used it almost every day since, and she says, “it never let me down”. Sadly, just last week, the thermostat finally gave up, and Winifred says she is “heartbroken” her beloved Belling is no more.

53-yr-old stove


Peter Brauer wrote:

“…which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With enough red wine taken internally it was fine.”

Wasn’t she talking about you??


Terry Brauer wrote:

You truly are the nuttiest oke I know. For a greenie this is like true confessions. Nuking your food.

Go Tommy! You inherited your mother’s skills . .


Moving? Don’t use Swanie’s Van Lines!

We were moving don’t ask me why. I would happily die here, I said to Aitch. “It’s outside the best schools’ catchment area” Aitch said to me. Which was why I was loading stuff into a rented trailer after fifteen years in River Drive.

Look, it wasn’t a bad trailer. It was – OK, it was a BIG trailer. And it was cheap. It was covered, too, in case it rained, which it didn’t. We had picked Pickfords to do the bulk removal, but I was doing the fragile and precious stuff, me being reliable, dependable, organised, punctual – OK, slightly some of those. We were only moving about 4km to our new temporary home while Aitch searched in earnest for her ideal place.

Picture frames, certain favourite big terracotta pot plants, some old furniture was expertly packed by me, learning as I went.

So I hitched it to the kombi and off we go. River Drive is right at the bottom – where you have to be to be on a river – so I gunned the kombi up the steep hill. She battled at first but then seemed to catch power and roared off lustily. I started humming that song from the removals ad on TV. Y’know: The toothless ou driving along oblivious that his load is falling off the back . . ?

– there go all my posse-essions –

A glance in the mirror showed the trailer right there behind me. Except it was getting smaller . . . Whoa! The trailer had escaped! Which is why the kombi had suddenly felt quick! I watched in horror as it careered down the hill heading straight for Geoffrey’s new gate and wall!

Yanking up the handbrake, I leapt out and ran after it in slow motion, like in a movie. Pointlessly. What would I have done if I’d caught it? Luckily it slewed to the right and hit a small palm tree on the pavement just before Geoff’s gate and smacked to a halt.

Ignoring the big gouge out of the tar where the disselboom had hit the ground, I reversed the kombi up to it, hitched it up again (checking the ball hitch more closely this time), and gunned the kombi up the steep hill . . .


I would clean the potting soil off the pictures later.

We found a lovely new home in the Palmiet River valley right near “the right schools,” just as Aitch had planned. Then – Murphy's Law - the kids were sent off to a remedial school in town 20km away!! The best-laid plans of mice and Aitch . . . 

Aitch did have the last laugh, though:


Smoked! I’ll take two please

Mother Mary (85 in 2013) went into Pick ‘n Pay looking for smoked hocks to use for making soup.

Two delightful ladies behind the butchery counter looked at her curiously when she asked for smoked hocks.

What?” they asked “Smoked ‘ocks?”

Yes,” she replied, “Smoked hocks.”

No, sorry, we don’t have smoked ‘ocks.”.

But I bought some here last month and made the most delicious soup!” Mary protested mildly.


The two of them looked at each other, turned to Mother Mary and the one said decisively, “We have never had a smoked ox in this shop.”

– What!? – oh shit! –

Slack Mountaineering

Aitch and I took Jess & Tom up Table Mountain in Cape Town. We took the cable car up, and Aitch took it down as well.

Table MTN walk (24)

Here the kids are – about to walk down Platteklip Gorge.

Platteklip Gorge

They bounded down like rock rabbits. I felt my knees wobbling about halfway down, so I sat down ‘to examine some interesting little flowers’. Was stiff for three days after!

Speaking of deposits . .

I was mentioning dog deposits here.

Way back in 1973 I was staying in Oklahoma. My host Dad Jim was vice-president of the local bank.

One morning he and his friend Tom the president were chatting, OK coffee-strategising, in Tom’s office when one of the ladies popped her head in: “It’s opening time and a dog has left a great big “do” right in the entrance. It needs to be cleaned up, gentleman”.

Tom looks at Jim: “Well Jim, you’re in charge of deposits!”

email from Aitch

My blog from the kids’ early daze disappeared; Swallowed up by a technology burp. Irretrievable. I tried. Aitch tried . .

Subject: Kids Stories

From: Trish

Date: 2009/06/08 08:27 AM

To: 0Pete work

Hi my love,
I’ve had a few people now asking me to try and get you to retrieve your stories from the Amagama website . . and get going elsewhere . . .
I think it’s definitely worth a try…whaddaya think?
Janet is one who says whenever she needs a laugh or a bit of silliness to temper any stress she may be experiencing, that’s where she goes. She’s now distraught – her ‘therapy’ has disappeared !!
I think you gotta at least try – you’re in demand!
I also need to get rid of these begging people!!
love you..
Yr Aitch

OK, No Thanks

Tom doesn’t ask too many questions about Aitch’s illness and mostly just listens, but his ears pricked up while Aitch was talking on the phone the other day.

What’s a chemo sweet, Mom? he asked.

After she’d explained about the room with all the reclining chairs where she sits for the day with a drip putting muti in her to help her get better, he lost interest.

He’s been there, and it turns out a chemo suite isn’t nearly as interesting as he thought.

My Memory Glands

People (mistakenly) say that I am forgetful.
I think I have selective, random, disjointed hypermnesia.

I remember all sorts of shit . .
Might not be WHAT I want to remember, might not be WHEN I want to 
remember it, but I still think I got hypermnesia.
Word of the Day:  hypermnesia
\hye-perm-NEE-zhee-uh\   noun
: abnormally vivid or complete memory or recall of the past
Larry responded from Ohio:
My condition is remarkably similar -- and people also say (correctly, I fear) that I am 
forgetful. Not that I've actually forgotten anything; it's just that I don’t remember it 
at the correct moment. I'll remember someone's birthday is coming up weeks in advance -- 
too soon to do anything about it -- and then again after the fact. But NOT at the moment 
when it's appropriate to act.

And then there are all the things I know that I know, but that I can’t seem to summon to 
memory precisely when I want to recall them -- the way I used to be able to. 
They tell me that's more or less part of the natural aging process. I'm waiting for the 
signs indicating the onset of Alzheimer's.

Bottom line: I don’t think you're suffering from hypermnesia. 
It's more likely geriamnesia -- forgetting you're getting older. 
If that's not a word, it should be. It's a condition many baby boomers have intentionally 


Just gave myself a DIY haircut with the buzzing razor, bending over and doing it by feel.

My last one was at Ngcolisi’s place Nwelezelanga (‘sunlight hair’) downstairs, sent there by order of the ladies at work who had been hinting for months.

A strapping young oke looked at me once I was in the chair (no namby pamby wash beforehand, what do the others think – I didn’t shower and shampoo that morning?) and said ‘Number One?’

He’d mistaken me for Msholozi!! Amazing.

Actually I realised what he meant when he approached me with those razor things that I use myself – for free – at home. I’m used to scissors when I’m paying.

You got a Number Four? I asked.

‘Sure’ he said and proceeded to spend AGES going over and over my head tearing at the roots slightly every now and then, but I’d left it so long that I was just happy it was being shortened. He fussed over it and trimmed here and there and then eventually let me go.

Fifty Ront. My kind of no-fuss, no wash haircut. And no yakking. He said a total of three words to me: “Number One?” and “Sure“.

But too long. I decided then that my next one would be just me and the machine, bending over, alone at home. Save fifty bucks and time.


I’ve seen expensive hairstylists before – in days gone by.


Later: Back when we wrote about haircuts I said:
My next one is going to be just me and the machine, bending over, alone at home. Fuck paying R50.

I’ve just finished (lo-ong overdue!) and I think I now know how the mullet was born. It’s quite hard to reach the middle at the back, so I have a suspicion (unconfirmed, can’t see) that my hair there is quite a bit longer than the rest of the 6mm setting of the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz razor.

But 50 Ront in the bank is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick . . . as my mate Doug Retief would say.


True Grit

While on chemo,and having lost all her hair, Aitch pulls up outside Tom’s school. Please go and fetch Tom, Jessie.

No, Mom. Come with me. But Jess you know the school well, and I'm tired. You go. 
Moan, groan

Jess, I haven't a wig or a beanie or a hat with me and you know Tom gets embarrassed by 
my bald head. He doesn't want his friends and teachers to see me bald. 

Well, Mom: Tommy's just going to have to grit his teeth, says our Jess. 
So they waltzed in arm-in-arm. 

Here's Mom & Jess in wigs:
Aitch makes it fun to ease Jess' worries

A horse of a different kettle of fish

We got a new kettle. The fancy black round Russell & Hobbs started leaking and that irritated me as it was only a year (or three? four?) old and I thought stuffit, so I dug the camping kettle out of the ammo box in the garage and we became Team Liquigas.

So I got to know the smell of red hot aluminium and that wasn’t good, so I used a pot and got to know the smell of really hot plastic handles and sometimes we’d only get tea after two boiling-dry’s and by the third boiling the kitchen smelt funny. And sometimes we rescued it but there was only enough water for half a cup, not three cups.

So I caved in within two months and bought another kettle that uses Eishkom electricity and switches off automatically because we are MAA in our house – Multiple Attraction Abundant – or VWE – Various Wonders Enriched.

We are NOT Attention Deficit.

I Found Neil!

Every garden should have a resident gnome. Especially if a friend of yours edited the well-known magazine Garden n Gnome. Or was that Garden n Home, Lesley?

My gnome lives in a ‘hanging’ pot on the cottage wall and yesterday morning having breakfast I glanced up and spotted him. Next to him was a packet. One of those paper sacks fancy shops use to put gifts in. String handles and a tag you can write happy birthday on.

Ah, I thought, Annerien has left us a gift as a thank-you for staying in the cottage.

Inside was a green box with Mr NWH Humphrey on it. And Oakleigh Funeral Home.

I found Neil!

I had lost his ashes, forgetting I had put them in such a clever place where the gnome could look after him.

Luckily Janet had said she’s not up to it yet, when I suggested she gooi  his ashes where Bella is buried and where we  – well, some of us  –  OK, me –  had put Aitch’s ashes. So I didn’t have to confess at the time that I’d lost Neil. I just mumbled vaguely that I had put him “somewhere, I think in the garage.”

I found Neil! captions

Now he can stay right there in the gnome hanging pot till Janet gets back from Maun. And when she’s ready she can go down the special path Tobias cut to the site where, in the middle of me clearing my throat to say “OK, we’re going to put Mom’s ashes here” the kids stomped their feet, slapped their knees, jumped up & down, shouted ANTS! and ran off, leaving me to bury the box on my own.


Later: Janet did come back and chose to scatter Neil’s ashes where Aitch’s are. Along with Aitch’s favourite mutt Bella, a hamster and a gerbil. Tobias helped her by cutting open the path and steps down to the site, which disappear every summer in the undergrowth.


Even later, Trish and Janet’s Mom Iona’s ashes joined the gang under the copse of trees down the bank in our front yard.