CACTUS PARENTING


How do you transplant cacti?

Answer: Very carefully.

For years my cactus grew sedately in its ceramic pot. It was geometrically decorative, growing in a pleasing spiral pattern. And very little trouble to maintain.  The occasional light watering, the odd fertilizer pellet, everybody happy.

Until I noticed a new, smaller, lateral, rosette of leaves growing out of the side.  And, what’s more, getting bigger every week.  The ceramic pot rapidly  became swamped by expanding cacti.  My cactus had pupped. Propagated itself. What to do?

Obviously the new cactus needed its own home.  I dubiously eyed the prickly tough leaves. How would I dislodge the  junior branch of the family?  I found a suitable pot, found  my gardening gloves, a small trowel, had a good breakfast, and advanced on the burgeoning plant.

It seemed I would have to dislodge the parent, in order to deal with the child. I couldn’t even fit the small trowel down the side of the pot, so I cautiously upended the pot, gave a few smart taps to the base, and the entire cactus family came loose.  One of the benefits of dry sandy soil. 

It turned out I needed an array of new pots for the cactus nursery.  Four pots, to be precise.

I’m happy to report that the parent plant continues to flourish and so do three of its offspring.  One tiny little shoot didn’t make it, but such is life.

I do like plants that expand voluntarily.  They make handy gifts and keep my patio nicely greened up.

And, P.S.  I didn’t sustain any injuries during the operation: gardening gloves have their uses.

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TOO MANY LEGS


And there it was.

A  stiff white  crescent, with way too many legs, resting on a freshly cooked leaf of baby spinach.

I blinked. Peered again. Yup. White against the dark green boiled spinach leaf.  With way too  many legs.

Without doubt : a worm. A boiled worm, in my spinach.

I removed it cautiously with a fork and added it to the compost box.

You don’t expect to find a worm in your supermarket pillow-pack of baby spinach leaves. And I had dutifully followed instructions and rinsed thoroughly before microwaving. Evidently, insufficient rinsing on my part, or tenacious suckers at the end of those many, many teeny little legs.

Eeeucchhh.

Why do I feel such revulsion at the sight of those mini-legs?  Perhaps because they are so visibly LEGS whilst most of my supermarket food comes in tactfully pre-packed chunks/rolls/nuggets with no evidence of the source.

More reflection  showed me how the mind affects our perceptions at every level. During a long life I have cheerfully consumed creatures that flew, swam, and walked our planet.  Chicken drumsticks don’t give me the heebie-jeebies, so why should a small two inch worm gives me the shudders?

Small reptiles in my garden, the lizards, the skinks, the geckoes don’t bother me The arachnids do, but lets not go there now. And the garden is host to snails (a curse upon their shelly backs!) beetles, bees, birds, grasshoppers, butterflies, caterpillars and yes, worms, which I greet and treat with aplomb. So why should a tiny worm, and a thoroughly microwaved one at that, give me the heebies?

Some ancient vestige buried deep within my primitive reptilian brain,  no doubt. 

As kids we would eat flying ants as they rose in evening swarms during the steamy, wet weather evenings.  Catching them was a doddle, the swarms were so thick. The locals would roast the ants over wood fires, and they tasted even better – brown and buttery. But as we all know, kids  can be  little savages with no regard for small creatures.

Recently I’ve read articles  informing me that excellent  sources of protein are to be found in the world of insects, that a whole world of crunchy, deep-fried delights awaits us, if we will but overcome our squeamishness and sample a crispy fried cricket. No thank you. I don’t care how much of a protein punch is crammed into them; I repeat: way too many legs.

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OPEN YOUR BOOKS AND CLOSE YOUR LEGS!


Say what?

This cryptic utterance was made by a Provincial Minister of Education in our country, in early January, just prior to the opening of schools for the new 2022 school year.

Naturally, it elicited howls of outraged politically correct protest. “You cannot speak to our learners like that!” was the gist of the uproar. For non-SA readers, our school children are always referred to as Learners.  Not schoolkids, or children, or students, or scholars. Some genius decided that Learners would be the correct term. Please visualise me shrugging, and raising my eyebrows. Go figure.

What did the Prov Min of Ed mean? She meant that way too many young girls are sexually active, becoming pregnant and dropping out of school, between the ages of – and please brace yourselves – eleven and fifteen.  Yes, I know.  Shocking. Tragic. And so unnecessary in this age of freely available birth control.

The first births to be recorded nationally in 2022 , and the media always broadcast the First New Year babies, were from mothers aged 14 and 15 respectively..            

In South Africa many parents cannot or will not discuss sexual education with their children. Why? Either due to traditional norms e.g. “ parents do not speak of these things to their young ones”; or due to religious norms that insist on purity before marriage, and therefore sex education is unnecessary and/or will only incite youngsters to experiment.

Yes, I know. It is infuriating.  The Dark Ages live on.

Personally, I think that Provincial Min of Ed deserves a medal for speaking plainly, forcefully actually. Robust, plain speech is exactly what our school children need to hear.  Let’s have more of it.

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OUR BLOGOVERSARY


  1. 11 Year Anniversary AchievementHappy Anniversary with WordPress.com!You registered on WordPress.com 11 years ago.Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Huh: Didn’t realize I’d been blogging that long. And here I still am, with my mediocre, wrongly sized photos, my wildly varied blog posts (theme? what theme?) and miraculously, here you are too, dear reader. So the WP congratulations apply to both of us, because where would the writer be without the readers? Thank you for continuing to follow my meanderings through the years. Long may we continue together.

Thinking back on Despatches from Timbuktu’s career, I reflected on my favourite posts, and my readers’ favourite reads. Not always the same thing, I might add. As Karen of Booker Talk bookertalk.wordpress.com noted, posts we slog over and expect a warm reception, don’t always produce the result we hoped for. And vice versa.

My travel posts have gone down well, especially the series I wrote about our Family Visit to Zimbabwe way back in 2011 JUST THE SAME, ONLY DIFFERENT is one of the links. Plus my expeditions around the Western Cape have been popular. NOSTALGIA AT DUNN’S CASTLE

I think it was the movie industry that coined the phrase …. kids and dogs are a winning combo …. the same has proved true here. My post about the Jack Russel dogs in my Kwa-Zulu Natal family has been popular: Close The Door (They’re Coming In The Window) I had a lot of fun writing posts from the perspective of my companion, Chocolat; she was self-centred, demanding and very dismissive of her staff’s performance (i.e. me) as a cat-keeper. THE WEDDING VENUE CATS.

It’s been wonderful to share some of my stories with you. One of my old favourites is HARRY’S HAVEN – A M Smith © but your favourite was SYBIL’S  GIFTS. And then the Christmas stories; I try to write one annually, on a Christmas theme. I think my favourite Christmas post is MY CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL STRATEGY , which is exactly what the title suggests. A (semi) tongue-in-cheek approach to Christmas, but if we’re sticking to fiction, then my favourite would be DIGGING FOR DINKIES by A M Smith ©.

Have fun exploring the jungle of my Back List. I’ve had fun re-reading some of them.

Bon Voyage, and see you soon!

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Filed under CHOCOLAT: MY CAT, DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, EXPLORING CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR, LONG FICTION, TRAVEL, ZIMBABWE

New Year Cards – 2022


From the Pen of ...

by Leo

No, the heading doesn’t mean I’m going to write about greeting cards for the New Year.

My topic concerns Cards for the Year Ahead. These symbols suggest themes for the coming year.

Here we have a brand new, shiny year: what might it hold for us? Gifts or gloom? Success or sorrows? Anything could – and probably will – happen.

One thing I always do, at the beginning of the year, is work out the Year Card for our planet. What does this mean? By adding the numbers of the year, in this case: 2 + 0 +2 +2, total = 6/VI …. The Lovers card. So 2022 will be a card overseen by Card VI/Lovers.

What might the implications be? A year of universal love? Hardly likely, given the divisive nature of international affairs. For instance, look at the recent uproar over the Djokovic Aussie visa!…

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HELLO SUMMER


Seems like Summer finally blew in on the heels of a roaring South-Easter. I say finally, because for most of December, the temps have been lurking  in the very low 20s, with minimums in the low teens, plus plenty of overcast days and showery drizzle. A sort of reprise of Winter.

Personally, I enjoy cool weather. The soaring 30s reduce me to a  limp sweaty rag, unable to think, let alone function. Tomorrow’s forecast is 34 degrees Celsius .  Aaaarrrrgggh.  Whisk me off to Greenland, on your sled, please Santa.

But my garden is smiling. Look at the Lantana, blazing brightly. The bright, clear yellow is one of my favourites, plus the flowers have a soft, sweet somewhat banana-like perfume. And my new Potato  Bush  is blooming prettily, which cheers me no end.

I’ve left the best until last: brag, brag : look at the Amayllis!  I’m thrilled with the vivid red flowers.  My first attempt at growing the bulb.  I was so encouraged by the beautiful display that the Freesia bulbs produced this winter, that I  went quite mad and bought more bulbs,  two Amaryllis bulbs.  Worth every cent!

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GIFTS


I think we often get it wrong when it comes to choosing gifts. If the recipient frequently says : oh I do wish I had a new i-phone, or I do wish I could get more of my favourite perfume, then the way is clear. No problem. All we need are deep pockets or an elastic credit card.  

But when the Wish List is empty, or never revealed, then what?  Perfume? But we need to know – does she prefer sweetly floral or dangerously oriental? And we have no idea.

Chocolates?  And then we discover she has an allergy to nuts. Liquor? Nope, ain’t gonna work, never touches a drop.

Now what? A gift voucher? Too impersonal.

Sometimes the simplest thing can give enormous pleasure, with little damage to the donor’s budget.  For example, I was thrilled to receive a large container of blueberries as a Christmas gift. Firstly, I like the fruit, and secondly they are a hell of a price, so in my modest little life, a large punnet of blueberries is a treat!

And then there were the Festive Face Masks. You know it’s a Covid Christmas when your prezzie contains these two fun items:

I once gifted a friend with one of my long short stories. I printed it out, created a decorative cover, bound it with ribbon, and presented it. Voila! A unique gift. The recipient was charmed.

In the past I’ve both given, and received, packets of herb seeds, and flower seeds. Inexpensive, and provide pleasure all round.

This year, in view of the Covid-ridden shops, my Christmas shopping was minimal. I gave away a couple of my books, which I knew the recipient wanted to own, and bingo! Another happy friend.

In short, ingenuity is kind to the budget and  avoids crowded shops crammed with dodgy anti-vaxxers, plus plastic whats-its, definitely made in China.  They can keep ‘em. Both of them.

At the end of the day perhaps we need to ask a crucial, Marie Kondo-esque question:  Will my gift spark joy in the recipient?

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DECEMBER 2021 –  END OF YEAR STORY


Over the past few years, I’ve posted a Christmas themed story on my blog in December.  Inspiration failed me this year, but what I can offer you is an excerpt from my Fantasy Trilogy, The Magical Musical Magian. The theme of the chapter is Gifts: appropriate for year end. What would be your ideal gift? Read below to discover magical, other-wordly gifts. I flirted with the idea of trimming down the chapter, but I had such fun writing it that I decided to post the original. Theoretically you should be on holiday with plenty of time for reading. So enjoy.

A brief synopsis: Selene is a 40-something New Age lady, transported from Benoni, South Africa, who lands up on  the Magian’s island. Selene and the Magian fall in love. Life on the Magian’s island is lonely, with only Odo the hunchback dwarf, the Magian’s servant, as a companion.  However, the Magian’s gifts keep life interesting …..

Gifts from the Magian   – A M Smith ©

“Dearest one,” said the Magian in affectionate tones “I have a gift for you”. A brief trill of flute and penny-whistle decorated his announcement.

Selene looked up at the Magian. He was hanging in a relaxed pose from a trapeze bar, just above her head.  His hands were empty.

“No, no” said the Magian “I do not have it here, at this moment, but Captain Odol will bring it within the day.”

“You spoil me,” said Selene happily, “and I love it”.

A soft chord of mellow stringed instruments swept over the pair, as they gazed into each other’s eyes. “Ah me,” said the Magian at last, “I must go now, I have matters  to attend to,” and he swung away in a graceful arc. Selene watched him disappear into the highest regions of his webbed net. She often wondered what he did all day long, high up in his hammock, but whenever she asked the Magian, he was evasive.

She wondered what the gift would be. Some of the Magian’s gifts had been unsuccessful, to say the least. There had been the crock of pickled – what? sea-slugs? Snails ? Selene had no idea what they were, but they tasted disgusting. And then there was the ornate flask of perfume. As Selene wrestled to remove the rose-shaped stopper, one drop of perfume fell on the sand. The drop of perfume released a nose-fracturing combination of roses and sulphur, and immediately burned a hole in the sand where it fell. Luckily none of the perfume had fallen on Selene. “Ah,” said the Magian as he watched the episode “I had forgotten that the perfume makers of Underr-Hell enjoy their little jokes.  I must remember to send them one of my musical pranks sometime, and return the jest.”  A grim rumble of bass drums followed his threat.

Recently Captain Odol delivered a giant sea turtle which sulked inside its shell for days before poking its head out and making a surprisingly fast bee-line for the beach and the ocean.  Selene hadn’t really minded. As a pet, the sea turtle didn’t really shape up.

 Unlike the delightful little furry animal delivered by Captain Odol, on his next supply visit. Quite what it was Selene didn’t know, but it was warm and furry with enchanting round brown eyes, a long white and  chocolate striped tail, chocolate ears and paws and a lush, coffee coloured silky coat.  Released from its cage it bounded into Selene’s arms, chirruping madly and snuggling into her shoulder. Fortunately it seemed to enjoy the bland diet of fish and coconut, in fact it was prepared to eat anything edible that was on offer.  As was the silver wolf, who had snapped up the little creature when it unwisely strayed too far down the beach. A snap, a crunch, three big gulps and that was the end of Selene’s pet. Fortunately she had not witnessed this sad incident, and it was  Odo who found a few sad wisps of chocolate coloured fur and some bones in the sand, and immediately realised why they could not find the little animal. 

“I hate the silver wolf,” wept Selene.  “Why did it have to eat my little Pushkin?”

“Mistress, I am truly sorry, but we need the silver wolf to guard us,” said Odo.

“But no-one ever comes here – never!  I’ve never seen anyone even try, or come close.  Only Captain Odol”.

“Yes, Mistress, and why do you think that is?” replied Odo.  “The silver wolf is greatly feared. None dare come to the Magian’s island.”

On Captain Odol’s  current  supply-run he delivered a stout leather trunk, studded with brass, boasting a massive bronze padlock.  It took the combined efforts of Odo and two terrified sailors to get the trunk out of the dingy, up the beach and parked in Odo’s store yard.  While Odo was rowing the sailors back to Odol’s ship, the Magian suddenly swung into view, announcing his arrival with a short trumpet voluntary.

“Dearest one,” he said, dangling effortlessly above Selene’s head, “I see my gift has arrived at last.  I hope it eases your sore heart a little.”  He gestured to the trunk.

“Oh,” said Selene, “this is a surprise! But what a huge  padlock – where is the key?”

“Oh pshaw!“said the Magian “keys, keys – we have no need of keys.  Stand back”.  He produced a small flute, blew a piercingly high series of notes which caused Selene to cover her ears in pain. The lock glowed bright blue and exploded in a shower of metal fragments.

“There – now you can open it.  Go on.”

Selene advanced cautiously towards the trunk.  The Magian’s idea of suitable presents did not always coincide with her expectations. She was conscious of the Magian hovering on the edge of his network, watching her. She took a deep breath and pushed up the heavy lid. “Oh,” she gasped, “Oh my!”

She ran her hands through a cascade of  garments, reverently stroked  fur trims, caressed silken fabrics, and pulled out a long gown of purest sea green.  “To match the colour of your eyes, my dearest one,” purred the Magian. “Find the purple gown – I am curious to see it”.

 She carefully laid the green gown down on the trunk lid, and delved down through the layers of  fabrics, delicate gauzy garments, intricate lace,  jewel encrusted brocades, scarves edged with tiny silver bells, soft leather slippers, ornately embroidered waistcoats, brightly coloured leather gloves, soft  velvet cloaks. The trunk seemed bottomless, with an endless cargo of beautiful garments. She found the purple gown and carefully extracted it. The fabric shimmered with threads of silver, intertwined with moonbeam greys and white. It was a garment of darkness and twilight, a whisper of romance and passion.

“Oh” she gasped “I –  its so beautiful – I …” words failed her.  She turned towards the Magian who huskily said “Put it on. It is my special gift to you, my beloved.” A vibrant wave of  stringed chords, mounting to a magnificent crescendo rolled out of the Magian’s web.

                                                                        ********

Selene was intrigued with the prospect of yet another gift.  What could it be?  After the  gorgeous treasure trove inside the trunk, it was hard to imagine anything to surpass it.  But she reminded herself not to get too excited. Apart from the disastrous animal gifts, and the diabolical perfume, recently there was another  very unsettling gift which Selene mentally referred to as  The Book Trap. The book arrived in a tightly sewn parcel of sail-cloth, which had taken Odo several hours to unpick with his sharpest knife.  She had been overjoyed at the prospect of a book – she’d really missed her book, magazines and newspapers, and somehow the Magian was aware of this.  How she did not know, because she never complained about the lack of reading matter. So it was with excitement that she took the book from Odo’s shaking grasp. She looked at him with concern : “Why are you trembling, Odo?  was it so hard to undo all that stitching?”

“No, Mistress, no.  But I am not sure that you should look inside this thing . I am not sure …”

“Why ever not Odo? its only a book, and the Magian has given it to me as a gift – of course I’m going to look inside,” and with that she undid the thick metal clasp that held the book closed. The book covers were made of grey animal hide, scaly and rough, scuffed and scratched. There was no title or ornamentation of any kind on the cover, which was odd.  Odo nervously backed away, with an expression of extreme distrust. 

The cover was heavier than she had anticipated, and when she opened the book  it revealed a blank first page. The first page was surprisingly stiff, and heavy, more like cardboard than paper. The colour was a faded sepia, the texture heavily ribbed, and felt surprisingly warm to her fingertips.  Intrigued, she turned over the blank first page and to her astonishment discovered that the next page was transparent and hard. It looked and felt like glass. She stared at the glass page, and then realised that the book was in fact, a box. A  box lay  concealed within the covers of the  book.

 The box appeared empty.  She gripped the book firmly in both hands and gently shook the box , then  peered into the interior. A misty smoke now filled the cavity.  As she continued to look downwards into the box the smoke cleared and to her astonishment revealed a scene, perfect in every detail, like a miniature stage set. Green grass in the foreground, sloping up a gentle hill to a small castle perched on the hilltop, its pale grey stone turrets bathed in  sunlight, with a  blue sky bordering the scene.  “What on earth ?” gasped Selene, raising her puzzled glance to Odo, who muttered “Mistress, I told you, I told you – close it. I beg of you, close it!”

Selene returned her fascinated gaze to the tiny scene within the box-book. She could not have closed the box-book for all the money in the world. As she surveyed the miniature landscape, a shadow passed over the grey castle battlements. A massive red dragon with leathery wings and spiky scales appeared in the top right hand corner, circled twice, and landed heavily on the grassy field below the castle.  There was no sound accompanying the developing action, but when the dragon raised its sharp snout and breathed out a flaming gout of smoke she felt the roar and rush of hot air and flames, she could smell the bruised grass, she …

“Mistress, Mistress – stop – you must go no further” cried Odo, wrenching the box-book from her hands, and hurling it onto the sand.

“Wha? Huh ? what you doing, Odo?” stammered the dazed Selene. “Let me –  I want my book – there’s, there’s a castle, an a dragon, an I wanna see,” she wailed.

“No Mistress”, said Odo, quaveringly but firmly ,“leave it – it is an enchanted box, a dragon box, they are very dangerous, those who look too long into a dragon box become enslaved – some say by the dragons inside the box, other say it is a mighty magic from olden times, but it is powerful magic and will harm you. Come Mistress, let me get you water and wine, come and sit in the shade a while.  The enchantment will pass.”

Selene obediently followed the hunchback and collapsed under the nearest palm tree. Odo bustled up with watered wine, and a few dates.  The water revived her and the sugary dates  drove away the dreamy hypnosis  of the box-book. She felt exhausted. “Odo, “ she said slowly “have you seen a dragon box-book before?”

“No, Mistress, but I have heard tales – they are very ancient and very powerful.”  He lowered his voice and whispered furtively “I do not know why the Master would give you such a thing as a gift – he knows they are dangerous.”

In that moment Selene wished that Ruby was with her – Ruby would know what to do; or Jules.  Jules would have been fascinated with the box-book. Selene knew that although the Magian loved her, he had a dark side to his nature. He had a dangerous and unpredictable streak which flashed out briefly, and it was at these times that she longed for somebody to confide in, somebody from her own world, somebody normal.  Slow tears ran down her cheeks.  Odo hopped from foot to foot in agitation.  “Mistress – shall I bring you a calming cordial?”

“Dear Odo – no, I shall be alright, in a little while.  Just leave me here.  I need to rest and .., I just need to be alone.”

That evening Selene confronted the Magian. “Why did you give me a dragon box-book?  If Odo hadn’t stopped me, I would have been trapped inside the box-book with the red dragon – how could you give me such a dangerous thing? What were you thinking? What have I done that you place me in such peril?”

“Selene, Selene – calm yourself; Odo’s head is full of old wives’ tales. I thought you would enjoy a box-book – they are very diverting, it is like owning your own theatre with players. There are infinite stories contained in box-books. Did you really think I would permit harm to come to you, my beloved?” A smooth succession of sitar notes hung in the warm evening air.

“I .. I was frightened” she stammered, gazing up at the shadowy form of the Magian as he hung casually from a low trapeze bar, just above her head.

“I am sorry,” the Magian said, “perhaps it was not a wise choice of gift for you. Remember, you are the first other-world being that I have befriended, and sometimes I forget that you are different, perhaps not as strong as I am, and not as accustomed to magic as I am.  Forgive me, I will be more careful in future.  Come, let me play you a sleep-song and banish your worries – you will feel better in the morning.” With that a gentle lullaby swelled over Selene and she dropped to the warm sand, unable to resist the Magian’s sleep-song. 

                                                And the saga continues  …    

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REDDINGTON’S HAT


Man posing in the dark with a fedora hat and a trench coat, 1950s noir film style character

I don’t feel festive.

 What I do feel is anxious due to the rapidly rising 4th Covid Wave.

 So I’m going to talk about something inconsequential.  Reddington’s hat.

Whose hat?

You don’t know who Raymond Reddington is?

Clearly you have not been watching The Blacklist TV series.  Tsk tsk.

Despite this failure, I can confirm the world is still turning and your non-participation or my participation doesn’t matter one iota, in the greater scheme of things. But I have to confess to my slightly guilty addiction of watching the weekly episode of this thriller crime series and I also have to admit to a certain  enjoyment of watching the world’s master criminal, Raymond Reddington, evade justice and continue to thrive.

He’s one of those villains that exhibits style and charm, despite his amoral attitude and ruthless attitude to slaughter to further his own devious plots. He reminds me of Leslie Charteris’ The Saint/Simon Templar, the early prototype of the Gentleman Thief. Not the villain you love to hate, but the villain you sneakily admire for his brilliant mind and his debonair behaviour. Which brings us to the topic of Reddington’s hat.

If outdoors, he always wears a hat. No matter the weather, or the location. You could  say its his trademark. But on the other hand, Reddington is bald, so he needs to protection from the sun. My bald Dad always wore a hat, but nothing stylish –  a pith helmet to deflect the rays of the tropical sun. No, I’m not kidding. Back in the day, in Central Africa, that’s what men wore. In fact, Mum and I wore them too. But I digress.

I got to thinking about Reddington’s hat, and consulted Google. Instant information about the style of hat, it’s a Fedora, described in a respectful paragraph from the grateful  manufacturer. Followed by a slew of articles on Reddington’s stylish wardrobe and accessories.

Perhaps I enjoy Reddington so much because he’s impeccably groomed and dressed. I detest the current popular half-shaven, grizzled look adopted  by 75% of TV characters. Most of them look like they desperately need  a good wash and a shave.  So there it is: the appeal of Old School has another fan. How about you?  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Charteris

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DEEP-FREEZER DISCOVERIES


The Team Leader from Save-U-Time Cleaning Services, eyed me sternly, and announced that from henceforth my deepfreezer would be defrosted every six months. This declaration after her staff   spent  three hours chipping away at pre-historic ice deposits inside my freezer. 

Many icy mysteries  were revealed during the excavation. One was a bakkie/container of frozen garlicky green peppers. Long forgotten by Yours Truly, but once revealed, triggered a memory from the lean years of single parenting in Rhodesia*.

I  held the icy bakkie and remembered a budget dish that often appeared on  my table, and overcome  by  nostalgia, decided to put the peppers to good use and make the dish: Spanish Rice. Naturally the recipe is long gone, but I had a hazy memory of rice, green peppers, tomatoes,  grated cheese, onions – obviously, I mean who makes anything without onions? – and  the vital ingredient, a packet of Royco Minestrone soup powder. Not forgetting the final gourmet touch: Bay Leaves sticking through the cheesy crust.

 Rhodesia was not famed for its gourmet cooking in those years.  Famed for its beef – world class steak –  and for its tobacco. But gourmet cooking? Not so much.

I scratched around in my cupboards and found most of the ingredients, tossed in a few more vintage  survivors from the freezer, carefully positioned the bay leaves to decorative advantage, and in to the oven  it went.

Result? Not bad. Tasty. Economical. But not rave material. Some memories are best sighed over, and quietly left behind.

*Renamed Zimbabwe

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