Please Call The Police

‘Please call the police; my friends are fighting and I’m very worried.’

The sound of a young woman’s voice early Saturday morning on my gate intercom. Luckily the intercom was in one of its working phases. They’d had a party, she said. Funny, I hadn’t heard anything. Sometimes the parties are really loud. I dialed 10111, explained, gave my name and address and the man said ‘I’ll send the police there’ which I found re-assuring. He said ‘I’ll send them’ not ‘I’ll tell them.’

Later the same lovely voice very politely checking ‘Did you phone the police? I’m so worried!’ I asked Are You Safe? Do you want to come in? To be behind the gate? ‘No, I think I’m safe,’ she replied, which I didn’t find overly re-assuring.

A short while later the gate again, ‘Thank you so much, they’re here,’ followed by three more Thank You So Much-es.

As far as I can recall, that’s the first time I have ever called the cops!

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I must have called them back ca.2004 when we had our only robbery – in 10 Windsor Avenue while we were out. Aitch’s Zeiss 8X32 binoculars and her wedding and engagement rings were gone. Typical Aitch, she replaced the binocs only.

Wait! Once when we were young . .

Aitch’s Unused Ceramics

. . raised a whole lot of money for Udobo School. Udobo is a pre-school in Montclair for the special kids of Montclair. Udobo – the name is isiZulu for fishhook – needs to raise funds to keep going and Aitch’s unused ceramics helped. Anne Snyders of Udobo set her kids to painting them, varnished them, and then auctioned them off to those wonderful suckers called parents, who each bid way more than the intrinsic worth cos THEIR kids painted it! Everybody wins!

In the Southlands Sun: UDOBO Pre-Primary School hosts an art exhibition and auction at the major hall of the Montclair Methodist Church on Saturday, 24 November from 11am to noon.

They sold tickets for R50 which included a meal and light entertainment. The children’s artwork was on sale, and the pottery pieces plus tablecloths decorated by the children were auctioned.

The pottery before

Hey! and they gave me a free plate, painted by Eli! Look how cheerful a kid can make a plain white plate!

Recently I took another load of Aitch stuff – books, picture frames n stuff (which occasioned this letter). Hopefully they can put it to work for them too.

Udobo’s main source of funds is from Action Udobo in the UK. Their website has pics from Udobo just down the road from me in Montclair.

And a Party in a Pear Tree

It was my favourite Aitch Art. I broke it.

Smashed

Oh well, we’re going to buy . .

One box of wine

Two packs of beer

Three sticks of glue

Seven . . dancing . . girls

and hold a –

Party-y in a Pear Tree

And we’ll fix it – yep. Louis is going to be the GlueMeister.

Bits n Pieces

Brasil in 1988

Aitch took me to Brasil. She had done well as usual in her sales for Scherag and so off we went. First a flight to Manaus in Amazonas province, then a long drive eastward along the Amazon River towards a lake just off the river, then by ferry to a pousada on Silves Island.

We weren’t married, but I was on my best behaviour and just watched as the bachelors (actual and temporary) in the party would trumpet every night ‘TooDooDoot TooDoo’ “we’re going fox-hunting!” they would announce at dinner and troop out with huge grins on their dials.

I stuck to feathered birds like oropendolas, huge toads, caymans and a fresh, very sad ocelot skin the lodge staff had proudly recently shot! Aaargh!

oropendola call

Then we headed way south to the coast, to Angra dos Reis – the Cove of Kings. A booze yacht trip to the islands and beaches and swimming. One night Aitch felt ill and announced she’d go to bed early, I must go to supper alone. Yes!? I said. Sure, she said. Enjoy yourself. Ha HAAA! I was off – after dressing in my warrior fox-hunting regalia. At supper I tooted the fox-hunting horn with the best of them and announced my newfound freedom. We were off.

We found a bar with a wonderful barman. He gave you anything you wanted and all you had to do was scribble your name! It was first-class. Another round! I’d yell and we’d throw down another marvelous caipirinha and fling the glass over our shoulder. No! No! said the barman, grabbing his broom and sweeping up the pieces. MORE BEER! I’d yell, getting into my stride now.

Of course, I can handle my liquor but some of the guys were less capable. In fact, they dropped me twice on the way back to my chalet. And once there they just propped me up against the door, knocked and ran away. So Aitch found me closely inspecting the door mat and mumbling how I’d have to have a word with them about their service.

She says she dragged me into the shower and ran the cold water full blast and threw me into bed but of course that could all be rumours I don’t know I wasn’t there.

I got up early and made breakfast, feeling sprightly. And where were all the culprits? Nowhere to be seen. All indisposed, it was said. That’s what drinking too much will get you. We checked out that day and I was made to pay a bill a metre long with some complete stranger’s signature on all the slips. A signature that got less and less of something until it was just a short downward line with what looked like drool on it. I just paid. Rumours were going around and I didn’t want to cause a scene. I was there as merely spouse-of, so I had to behave.

Yacht at Angra dos Reis, Brasil

On to Rio! To the Copacabana! I was sure there’d be some licenced premises there too. There were! Aitch turned thirty high up on the roof of our hotel, with her colleagues giving her a huge festive bash. We had a banner made to string above the bar “THIRTY! and UNMARRIED!” it said. We had a roaring party that had the hotel guests below us wanting us to hush and the favela okes on the hills above us wanting to join in!

Copacabana Beach from our hotel roof
the cantagalo favela seen from our hotel roof (wikipedia pic)

pousada – Lodge or Inn

Angra dos Reis – cove – or inlet or creek – of kings

caipirinha – wonderful cold drink; refreshing; then tiptoes around behind you and taps you on the shoulder

favela – informal housing; shacks on the steep hill slopes

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Another pic pf an oropendola, this one by blogger Eduardo Libby.

chestnut-headed oropendola

Labour of Love – Aitch

My bird list book made by Aitch back in 1985, soon after we met.

Aitch birdlist book

Every bird from Roberts handwritten – and done on the quiet so I only got to see the end result for my first xmas present from her!

After that we birded in other countries in Africa. Also in the USA, Brasil, UK, Europe, Malaysia and Indonesia. These lists I just hand-wrote in.

Here she is round about then . .

Aitch ca.1986 in Brasil

A Dog’s Life

When we bought a house, but were still living in our flat in Durban, Dave and Goldie Hill presented us with a magic little feisty puppy, half Staffie half Jack Russell, delivered in a shoebox. We called her TC.

TC arrives in a shoebox

She was joined soon after we moved in to our home in Westville by my big rival for Aitch’s affections: Matt the man, named Matt cos he certainly wasn’t glossy.

Aitch picks out Matt from the litter.
Her first real Own Dog – and the love of her life for about two short years. 

Matt died on the M13 on the hunt for an intriguing smell which he knew was important and exciting, he just didn’t know why! He was only two-plus years old, so I’d guess he probably died a virgin. Our property was fenced but obviously not escape-proof.

After much mourning and a burial in the garden, Matt’s replacement was chosen, also in a backyard, also of interesting parentage. Trish Humphrey always thought she’d call a dog “Bogart” one day, and so Bogart got his name. To TC’s disgust a second small male dog was introduced and – again – he soon outgrew her. She always remained boss-dog though!

With big shoes to fill, Bogey starts his melting of Aitch’s heart

About two years later Bogart also went missing. I searched again and found him on a highway. This time the N3. Another burial in the garden followed.

Poor TC now had another black dog join her, a third!! Also small, also soon to grow big. This time a lady, Bella, who was destined to become a huge part of our,  and especially Trish’s life for the next seventeen years. She, too, was of interesting parentage.

Oy! Dogs aren’t allowed on the bed at 7 River Drive!

TC ran out of steam after thirteen years and is the third and last of our dogs we buried at 7 River Drive Westville, near the banks of the Mkombaan under a paper-bark commiphora tree. Bella was then joined by Honey, ‘rescued from euthenasia’ at the vet. He’d apparently been sentenced to death for excessive wandering! Aitch said ‘can’t be!’ and took him home. Well, little did she know just how determined a wanderer was old Honey. Jess christened him Honey, and he was mostly called that, but once his habits became evident I called him Houdini.

Jessie and her Honey-Houdini

Houdini disappeared, maybe ‘rescued’ again by someone who finally managed to coop him up permanently? I hope not. I hope he wanders still. Now Bella was alone and Aitch decided she was lonely. No, no, I said, she’s enjoying the peace and quiet! So I put my foot down and issued a decree as titular Man of the House: We Cannot Get Another Puppy.

So Aitch got two: Shadow and Sambucca.

Sam the black lab bitch and Shadow the Alsation-ish hound

Shadow was a lovely dog but became our first dog to be euthanased. She bit a neighbour kid and then did it again. Sam is still around, twelve-plus years old and when cleaning out the garage recently I found a very novel item: A pedigree certificate! Aitch had hidden from me that Sam was our first dog without character and lacking in hybrid vigour! 
(Read about Sambucca’s parents here).

Jessie named the black lab ‘Sweetie’ – horrors! So we scrambled to find a better name: Terry Brauer suggested Black Sambucca and that stuck, thank goodness. She and Bella became good friends – Aitch was right again!  Bella finally breathed her last in Aitch’s arms at seventeen – she had been a champ!

Bella’s last days – lots of luxury & comfort, thanks Aitch!

Poor ole Sambucca is ageing rapidly now. Eighty five in human years, she has a tumour growing apace on the side of her face. So far she’s still comfortable, eating – though losing weight – and tail-waggingly keen for a tummy rub. Her vet says keep her comfy and keep watch, but an op would likely be too drastic and risky for her.

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update: died 6 Jan 2019 – on Aitch’s birthday

A Muddy Slog

All clean beforehand

Dad, says seven-yr-old Tom, I’m tired of the 5km and 10km races with Mom. I wanna go on a longer race with you, please.

So we enter the 18km race starting at the Eston country club and meandering thru Tala game reserve. Days before, it starts raining; and it rains; and there’s mud – A LOT of mud. I pushed, I shoved, I carried, I dragged. I went ahead, dropped my bike, went back and pushed their bikes;

We watched people bail left and right. Tractors and trailers were available en-route to offer rescue, and the trailers got piled high with bikes abandoning the slog. But we pushed on, stopping every few metres to scrape sticky mud out of the brake calipers.

And they made it! Not many did. On the way home they recuperated:

kombi zizzing

Not one pic of the mudslog! Aitch had the camera; Anyway, my hands would have been way too muddy!