What’s In A Name?

Jessica arrived as Jessica Gambushe, her name give to her by her Tummy Mummy Tembi Gambushe. Tommy arrived as Tommy Ngobese, his name given to him by the local magistrate.

When their adoption papers came through – wonderful papers with “legally they are asof uit u gebore” written on them in black and white! – we started to arrange new birth certificates, passports, etc at home affairs. We loved their names, and kept them, naturally; We also decided to keep their surnames as middle names, so Jess became Jessica Gambushe Swanepoel and Tommy became Tommy Ngobese Swanepoel. But Tommy’s had a twist. Much as we loved his first name, Aitch suggested we name him Thomas and then he could decide to be Thomas, Tom or Tommy in time to come. He has loved that. He was Thomas at school and formal occasions, he prefers Tommy at home.

They were both too young to argue, so although we consulted them formally, they just looked at us with a Can I Have Some More Cooldrink? look on their faces.

Years later, a different story. They had now been subjected to pale schools and their middle names had undergone scrutiny by pale people. Why is my middle name Gambushe / Ngobese? Change it if you don’t like it, I’d say, I still say. Go to home affairs, fill in a form and get it changed, don’t moan.

Back when Aitch was around I’d have to ignore a slight eyebrow arching in the background as madam overheard this. She had heard that story for many years when she would moan about her name Patricia! I would say . . you guessed it: Go to home affairs, fill in a form and get it changed, don’t moan. Lead balloons have soared higher.

~~~oo0oo~~~

asof uit u gebore – as though born of you

Half a century earlier another name question had arisen

No, Tumi!

. . you can’t go home! You can’t go back to Botswana! Who’s going to help me keep Tom in his place!?

Tumisang Lekoni studied hospitality at the International Hotel School up the road from us and she and Tom became good friends. Twenty two pounds ringing wet and four foot two (I exaggerate!), she has a lovely strong voice and is one of the few people who can get a word in edgeways when Tom is off on a monologue.

You spoilt Tom rotten, helping him with his chores after a full day’s work in which he’d mostly sat on his bottom!

– Then you would treat HIM to a meal !! –

We’ll miss you big time Tumi. Our little valley is emptier without you.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here we see Tom ‘Not Dropping His Phone’ – cos ‘I never drop my phone, Dad, it just breaks!’

Birthdays!

11 December. Jess is 23 and Tom is 19

Lellos and Lodders spoil them with gifts, lucky buggers. I told them Hey, after thirteen you don’t get any. They just gave me withering looks.

Tom cooked Petrea’s gift – a ‘tomahawk.’ Jess was away, so she dipped out. We waited for her, but she didn’t pitch.

We each ate a huge chunk, had some for breakfast and there’s still a bit left. Delish!

~~~oo0oo~~~

TomTom Homework Book

Found an old primary school workbook of Tom’s. School was not his very best thing.

– Tom starting a new school –

He summed up school as –

S.ix C.rual H.ours O.f O.ur L.ives !!

Math –

M.ental A.buse T.o H.umans !

Homework –

H.alf O.f M.y E.nergy W.asted O.n R.andom K.nowledge !

. . . and ended with a heartfelt plaintive broadcast question; I suspect not really expecting an answer –

In The Name Of Jesus, Why Does School Exist!?

– hurry up and take it, Dad – at least I can wear civvies today – last day of term –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Jessie’s Album as Slideshow – Safari 2003

On our trip up north in 2003 Aitch and five year old Jessie kept a diary; when they got home they made this picture album as a memento of the trip. Enjoy the slideshow!

(Slides change every four seconds. To pause a slide, click in the top right corner. To speed it up or to go back, use the arrows).

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Gardener’s Wisdom

Bruce sent this:
always mow the lawn after 3pm.
Then the dog turds are dry !!

….

Me:
Hosed myself!! Just picked up some steaming ones this mornin’
Strategically placed by Sambucca the black labrador where I’m most likely to step in them.

I just KNOW she’s thinking “Ooh! UGHHHH! There! He can’t miss that one”.

….

Jon Taylor wrote:

Very thoughtful dog u have. But time to delegate the task.

….

Me again:

A few years ago I offered Tobias R10 a day to do it Mon, Wed & Thursday. I figured it wasn’t part of his JD, so when I asked him I added a carrot. He said “Sure!” He’s no fool.

I offered my kids R5 a day to do it on the other four days. I got, “NO WAY” “Yecch!” “She’s not my dog, Dad!”
….

‘A gardener’s wisdom’ reminds me of my Clarens mate Steve Reed’s quiet wisdom.

On windless days he’s apt to murmur:

“Not a leaf stirred;

  Not a dog stirred.” 

(needs to be said out loud)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Roomerazzit dogs face north while crapping. Useful to know. Lost your compass? GPS battery flat? Find a dog doing his business: He’s facing North

So maybe that’s why they step around and fuss around before finally ‘assuming the position?’ They’re aligning themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. Aaah!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mtamvuna River

Tom went fishing with Ryan – his first trip out of the house for ages! Ryan’s Dad Andy took them to The Old Pont on the Mtamvuna River, two hours south of home.

I joined them for a lovely braai – chuck, wors and garlic bread. Tom and Ryan braai’d the meat to perfection, but burnt the bread! Grrr!!

Overhead flocks of starlings and a flock of 22 Trumpeter Hornbills flew in the strong South-Westerly wind.

The next day they went to the coast at nearby Port Edward and Ryan sent pics of Tom on the rocks; and videos of dolphins in the breakers and a whale tail-sailing just behind backline.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Nine Years Today

. . and then Jessie’s tribute:

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

~~~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~~~

Storm in a Shopping Trolley

Just yesterday I was dispensing my best Calm The Fuck Down advice to a friend, and today TomTom and I have a big fat fight!

He went shopping, wheeled the trolley home (knows he’s not meant to) down a steep footpath under the big fig tree and tipped the trolley. ’30 eggs broken and the bread squashed flat,’ he yells!

Came in in a rage. ‘No-one helps me!

Hey Tom, its OK boy.

Gaan’d aan and aaan. ‘No-one even came to help me.’

Well, did you ask us, fella? Did you phone? He didn’t. We should have arrived like knowing fairies.

Rage – so eventually I snapped OK ENOUGH NOW, You cocked up, you didn’t ask for help, it is what it is!

Rage

SHUT UP NOW! FFS!

Storms out of the yard.

About an hour later he’s back.

Sorry Daddy! I apologise!

Me too, fella, I’m sorry. Things happen. We OK?

We’re OK. I just lost it when I saw the damage.

That’s OK. That’s understandable.

Done.

~~~oo0oo~~~

~~~oo0oo~~~

Childless Cathedral

Aitch needed a break and Barbara Jeff, LindiLou and Robbie agreed to have the kids on their Umvoti Villa farm. So off we went to a luxury stay in the Cathedral Peak Hotel. The breast cancer had spread to liver and bones and the treatments she opted for were severe. Here was a break from the punishing rounds of chemo. October 2010.

Trish went on some short walks. I went on a few longer ones and some bike rides.

She took some pics of the smaller things . .

~~~o0oo~~~

The kids had had an absolute ball on the farm:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mow a Meadow

One Man Went to Mow

Went to Mow a Meadow

. . .

Usually Tobias Gumede mows, but he’s in lockdown in Jozini, so the amateur had to do it. And there were repercussions . .

. . .

The next week TomTom voluteered to mow! Yes! I shouted! ‘For money, of course’ he added. OK. It’s a deal. He mowed.

. . .

Elston Birdbath
– inhabitants -Elston Place –

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Vrystaat Shepherd’s Cottage

Shepherds’ cottages in Lesotho are often quite primitive affairs, used itinerantly as their flocks graze in that area; then moving on to pastures new, where – especially in winter – a new shelter may be built, or an old one re-roofed with available grass or shrubs.

We enjoyed their hospitality there when we went up to celebrate the new chef at the castle above serve his first formal meal. A lovely experience!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Tom at the German Club

You can tan me hide when I’ve died, Clyde, and hang it up in the shed. ‘Cos I have developed a quite – not a very, but a quite – thick skin. I meet Bruce for a beer at The German Club, which has become a bit more like an Old Rhodesians Club. This is some years ago.

I think Bruce phoned ahead and asked to speak to the chairman. The man who’d answered said ‘Chairman? Ve’s all blutty Chairmans HERE!’ I think he did, but I’m not sure.

– Germans, Rhodesians and us. Tom sucks his lollipop in a beer bottle! –

I’m with TomTom who sticks out a bit in this euro-centric, deathly pale, colonial atmosphere. There are some stares. Tom has a blue lollipop which he pops into my empty beer bottle and raises every now and then for a suck, which looks like a swig! Ah, well, we’re used to stares.

Hell, in the years since then its got way more challenging and my skin has thickened even more. I have an Epic Epidermis. Since I became a Mom, I have loitered around many a lingerie department asking store ladies to please measure Jess and make sure she gets a good bra fit. I have discussed panty sizes with skeptical shop mamas. I am quite used to ‘Ja, Right!’ looks . . I just give a huge smile, make a joke, ask nicely, act matter-of-fact. Most people are just fine. Some are simply magic and ‘adopt’ Jess and take her under their wings for a brief while. They’re the STARS!

Where they act weird I just let it go. It’s like a duck’s water off my back.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Tommy’s Hilfiger Genes

Thomas Tommy Swanie junior was slightly hypermetropic for years but now he has finally inherited my fine genes and is now -0,75. Slightly short-sighted.

Like me, he can also see into a lot, read between the lines, has great insight – and while his foresight is still developing, he has strong hindsight where he can very clearly see where things were not his fault but someone else should be blamed.

Whatta boykie.

I’ll nab a shot of him wearing his Tommy Hilfiger frames . . . in the pic above he’s fooling around in Mkhuze game reserve with my minus fours, saying the usual ‘Gawd! How do you see through these things!? Oh, there you are, with one eye I can see clearly!’

– Tom takes an ussie while I try to drink my camping coffee –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve replied: I can picture him giving you the inscrutable eye over those frames.
Question:  Did he first take a fancy to the Tommy Hilfigers, then make the discovery he could not see very well? Any chance he learned the art of accommodating a constant 0.75 to affect the outcome?? I know my daughter had that tendency. She loved a bit of extra minus while I felt I was committing a crime against  the memory of Frank Duro.  One day  working for me in Auckland NZ she ordered her own pair (‘yes please I will have those  with extra minus and a multicoat – the expensive one’). She celebrated her milestone when reaching -2.50! By then she was living away from home and found an optom that would give her all the minus she wanted – as long as she paid.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Me: Ha! Jurgen Tolksdorf taught me to be less scared of minus, especially if they have exophoria. Or was that euphoria!? Anyway, Duro himself would have re-assured you that ‘Alice’s Rectum’ . . ‘alles sal regkom.’

I’m a bit skeptical of the current big we must combat myopia thing. We’re glued to screens close-up, low myopia is no problem. I’d hate to have been hyperopic. I believe in combating high or increasing myopia, but moderate myopia is often an asset, in our close-up world. I tell moderate myopes your eyes are fine, your vision is fine, your near focus is fine, it’s just your far focus that’s out; relax, enjoy.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Later: Now Tom is astigmatic: -0,75 cyl. He’ll need to check before he goes for his learner driver’s licence, then we’ll put new lenses in his ‘old’ Tommy Hilfigers. Speaking of which: No sign of any interest in getting his learners! Talks of driving at 300kmh but no real urgency to start. Amazing. I couldn’t wait!

Here’s an older Tom in his Tommy Hilfigers:

– Tommy Hilfiger Swanepoel – March 2020 –

Jess is in hiding. Six attempts at her learners has deflated her. Anyway, they both walk far distances, take taxis and use ride-hailing apps bolt (taxify) and uber, so maybe that lessens the pressure of getting your licence? Also, Dad’s taxi . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

alles sal regkom – all will be well; or, ‘all will come right’

ussie – selfie for two