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

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

Dear Old Sambucca

Lemme confess that the first emotion when Sambucca the black labrador finally breathed her last was relief. The sadness and the memories came later. See, she grew a brain tumour and it grew and grew until it was about as big as her head.

When the bump first started we knew it was the end and I told the kids I would just support the old dear and only consider ending things if she was no longer comfortable, not eating, not happy and not interested in a ear rub or tummy tickle. I said I don’t want you shooting me just cos I’m inconvenient and so I’m not shooting Sambucca for our convenience. And anyway, she’s only 87yrs-old in human terms. Born in August 2006.

Well, she hung in and kept eating while getting thinner – which is a terminal sign in a labrador. I was vrot with worry and angst as she started getting smelly and the parasites attacked her – fleas, flies and ticks. A daily bath and shampoo helped but she’d disappear for hours and come back covered again, her hidden spots in our jungly garden obviously infested with the lil bastids. Yet she still kept getting up and walking towards me tail wagging as I got home each day, asking for a scratch. Then Friday she got weaker and Saturday and Sunday she didn’t eat. I added gravy and fat and she refused it. Refused a meal! I knew it was soon. Sunday night she suddenly yowled a bit and then went quiet, considerately choosing Aitch’s birthday as her last day so we can remember it more easily.

It’s a bit worrying that she may have gone to the happy hunting grounds, as there’s no way she can hunt! She needs her food prepared and put in a stainless steel dish preferably covered in gravy. So we can only hope there’s an ala carte section in those hunting grounds.

I started digging her grave early Monday morning and three inches down I came to an astonishing and unexpected realisation: I am not cut out for physical labour! Can you believe it!? I sub-contracted the task and Tom and his mate Jose dug a goodly hole – after negotiating a financial reward – and Sambucca now joins her predecessor Bella and a gerbil under the soil in our garden. Also Aitch and her Mom and Dad’s ashes.

Rest in peace ole Sambucca, you made twelve years and five months and were the best watchdog ever: you watched the monkeys stroll across the yard, you watched the hadedas glean the lawn, you watched our neighbourhood kids stream in and out of the gates whenever. You only barked when I got home to say Hey Welcome Back! About Time! Look What A Good Watchdog I Am! and by the way, When’s Supper?!

And that’s when you showed you had 12% greyhound blood, as you tore off round the trailer, gleefully thinking “He’s Home! He’s Home!”. Two laps when you were younger, one lap the last couple years.

Jess was going to call you Sweetie when you arrived, so we hastily canvassed friends for a less saccharine moniker. Terry Brauer from the Gramadoelas of Pretoria came up with Black Sambucca. Just right.

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vrot – full of

Find our Sambucca (Jena out of Yellow Daisy by Kilgobbin Zinzan) ‘s pedigree certificate here.

Forbidden Ink

Dad I want to get a tattoo.

Aaaargh! I shrieked in my head but “O-ka-ay” I said out loud, all calm-like, “Have you thought about it?”

Oh yes, lots.

“OK. What’s a tattoo? Is it safe? How much does it cost? Does it hurt? Who would do it? Have you got enough money? etc”

Oh, she hadn’t thought of any of that.

“OK. Do your homework and get back to me with the answers please.”

She did. Now that she knows more, she’s more nervous. But still determined. After all, Sindi has a lovely outline of Africa tattoo’d above her ankle.

The very next day she arranges a visit to the tattoo parlour with Sindi, where they are going to find out more and then come back for a final decision. They take themselves there by taxify.

The main thing I’m interested in is: Who’s the artist? Is he/she good? Does he/she do a skilful, safe job? Ask to see their work. Show me their work.

So I’m furiously kicking for touch and I think I’m delaying things nicely. I went through enough trauma with the piercings, I hope to dodge this mutilation. I feel like I’m handling things well as The Dad. I’m In Charge.

So I get a message: Hey Dad please can I have mom’s birth date and her death date.

The message is sent from here:

Jess_tattoo[1]

** sigh **

20181107_2106551.jpg

 

Years of Scribbling!

I just got this:

10 Year Anniversary Achievement

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

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Yikes! Before that I blogged with amagama.com from May 2001 – they went belly up.
Hey, not because of  me!
I managed to rescue a few of my posts thanks to the wayback machine but many were lost forever.
.
Kids 2008 and Kids 2018

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Here’s an oldie from early wordpress days:

So who’s actually the baker here?

Mom n Tom choose a cake for his party: A great big rocket with a number SEVEN emblazoned in smarties on its side, a star-shaped base and gleaming red aluminium foil cone and fins. They choose the mixing bowl, run the Kenwood, prepare the star-shaped pan and – at last – pop the first part into the pre-heated oven.

It’s a hot, muggy day and Aitch plops down into a chair in the breakfast nook and smiles at Tom.

Mom! he says, I couldn’t have done that without you!

tommy@giba gorge.co.za004

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It gets worse. Later on he thinks of something and goes up to Aitch.

Mom, what treat can I get for helping you? he asks.

Hmmm, says Aitch. Who’s cake is this?

Mine.

So what do I get for helping YOU?

A hearty handshake, says the incorrigible one, without missing a beat.

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Lost Talent

I’ve lost my beautiful singing voice! All of a sudden even I don’t think I sing wonderfully anymore! The kids have never thought so, philistines, and will ask me after the opening bar “Please don’t sing, Dad”. In fact I’ve used it as a weapon: “Want me to sing to you?” sometimes gets them to behave pronto.

Even the neighbourhood kids give a resounding NO THANKS PETE! when I suggest I sing to them in Italian instead of putting Nicky Minaj on the car stereo.

Aitch was the only person who ever said “I love it when you sing” but then she also called me “My handsome oke” so I pinch-of-salted her compliment. She would always ask me to sing “the evening song” when we were driving after dark: Kris Kristofferson’s “Best of all possible worlds”. Of course that’s mainly  gruffly mumbled, so that helped.

Of course I used to sing beautifully. The teacher who trained the seunskoor in Harrismith Laerskool  said so. I was a soprano and looked down on the altos who, though necessary as backup, weren’t in the same league as us squeakers. One directly behind me used to bellow in my ear: ‘Dek jou hol met bowse off hollie!’ FalalalaLA lalalala’

One day the discerning teacher Juffrou Cronje, chose me to sing a solo in the next konsert. Fame was imminent.

Then tragedy struck! My balls dropped. They handled it very diplomatically. By ignoring it and cancelling practice. The konsert didn’t materialise. Co-incidence? Surely they didn’t cancel a concert just because one boy suffered testicular descent? By the time the next one came around I hadn’t been banished – just consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.

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Terry Brauer wrote: Oh Pete I am STILL laughing! But never let the kids be the judge of whether you can sing! They are just embarrassed by most of what we do anyway.  🙂

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Oh well, there’s still a lotta drinks that I aint drunk . . .

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‘Dek jou hol met bowse off hollie!’  – the famous ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly’ – or – ‘cover your arse with boughs of holly’;